Serenity: You Can't Stop the Signal

you've been warned

Down go the lights. Up comes the static and grain of the projection. Joss Whedon's clean cut but tired head appears on the screen.

There are no commercials, no previews. Wayne Brady isn't whoring for Will Rogers. This is an unfinished, rough cut of the little show that couldn't.

This is Serenity.

In 2002, Fox ran a Friday night death-slot sci-fi show about a small group of traders aboard a shipping freighter. The show held promise, but Fox ran the episodes out of order, on a bad day of the week and at a horrible time. The final episode was the pilot. Three episodes never aired.

In Fox's infinite wisdom, they canceled Firefly because of poor ratings and cost. The story seemed to wander, never find focus and eventually it lost what few viewers it had.

That is, according to the network.

What happened after the show aired, then canceled, can be placed in the Pantheon next to Farscape and Spencer for Hire. The fans amassed. Their voices were heard. Late in 2003, rumors begin swirling the net and convention circuit that Firefly would have a feature film. In March of 2004 that rumor was proven true as Universal announced officially that it was producing Serenity.

Now, more than a year later, the little show that couldn't has become the little movie that will.

For fans of the show, this will be a return to greatness. The show itself had a high budget, but it never appeared that anything was overly rendered. The world Whedon created was a real, tangible, plausible universe. A universe where American and Chinese cultures have merged. A universe in which there are no sound effects in space. A universe where people die, even though you may like them.

This had every part of why the show itself was such overlooked splendor. The writing, the acting, the staging and directing, are far beyond any sci-fi or action or adventure movie since the beginning of the genre. The film doesn't beat you over the head with special effects or bore you with plot lines so contrived you need to read comic books or novels to understand what's happening. It also delivers the history of the universe in a quick, painless prologue. It's perfect for the non-fanatic and allows the movie to stand on it's own. It pretends you've never seen a single episode of the doomed show.

And that's the greatest compliment I can give it. The movie stands on its own.

As Joss Whedon said in his pre-movie speech, this film is the result of the fans screaming into the void, demanding the story be told. If the movie is good, tell your friends, tell everyone. If it sucks, well then it's your fault. If you love it, tell people, if you don't, now's the time for quiet, contemplative thought.

But he needn't worry. The plot is simple and easy to follow. It's linear and clean with few breaks for exposition. The characters are well defined, full of purpose and as amiable as a family dog. You can't help but love everyone in this cast and crew for the job they did. Even in this rough, 80-90% completed version, the signs of greatness are there. Left as is, I would put this among the all time bests. Polished up, I fear for the rest of the movies this summer.

But here's the problem, it's still a little movie. Serenity appeals to a broader audience, but the broader audience must know about it. So here's where you come in. Tell you friends. Tell your AIM buddies and your blog commentors and your message board friends. Tell your brothers and sisters and mom's and dad's and college buddies and bridge partners and mechanics and grocers. Tell everyone you can think of that this is the movie to see this summer. You have to get the word out because in the light of the high dollar trademarks coming out that are bound to or have already disappointed, we, the fans, have to speak up and let Hollywood know that good movies are appreciated.

Little shows should be too.

Huzzah to Universal.

Huzzah to Joss Whedon

Huzzah to the Browncoats.

For more information about the movie, please visit The Browncoats

Starring: Nathan Fillion (Capt. Malcolm Reynolds), Gina Torres (Zoe), Alan Tudyk (Wash), Sean Maher (Simon), Jewel Staite (Kaylee), Summer Glau (River), Ron Glass (Shepherd Book), Morena Baccarin (Inara), Adam Baldwin (Jayne), Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Operative), David Krumholtz (Mr. Universe), Raphael Feldman (Fanty), Yan Feldman (Mingo), Michael Hitchcock (Dr. Mathias)
Director: Joss Whedon
Rated: Unrated
U.S. Opening Date: September 30, 2005


House Update

We've signed the paperwork to sell our house. It's been a good house to us for these past few years. Nothing really wrong with it, just too small for us now. It'd a be a great house for a couple without kids or newly married looking to start a family, or a family with one kid. Two kids is just too much. It's got a great backyard, good kitchen, nice floors, cool paint jobs on all the rooms. I kind hate to leave it behind, but it's crowded and I want a projector TV.

Anyway, so we made an offer on the new house and the guy flat out said, "No way." So we countered with a slightly higher offer and he thought about it for a day and came back saying ok to that offer, but we'd have to take the Contingency off the table and he was ok with closing on the 22nd of July. The good news is we got a better price off the guy, the bad news is we have to sell our house first before the 22nd or we'll end up having to buy the new house without selling the old one. We'll be able to push the closing back a few weeks, so I don't understand the whole taking the Contingency off the table thing. I mean, what does that get you?

Anyway, we're making our house Sellable now. Our house hasn't been this clean since we moved in and there was no furniture. We've got to take down the family photos, all the clutter, the books, probably a good idea to take down the Legos and comic stuff. Mrs. A did a great job yesterday of cleaning most of the house and doing some work in the backyard. I did what I could, but I had my big toenail removed and I was in a bit of pain. (More on that later. To plagerize a friend, it's the Bride of Goopy Toe.)

So that's what's going on now. Today we'll be doing the kids' rooms and the office as well as the yard, provided this guy shows up. Then our little sign will be in the front yard. *sniff* Kinda sad, but at least we didn't live there for 30 years or something insane.


...cue music and roll tape.

Now that Star Wars is finally wrapped up, the world can go about its business. I still have to get a few hundred dollars worth of Lego sets (shh, don't tell my wife) but that will take years. And I still don't have a place for all of them, really.

But that's about to change. Last week, Mrs. A and I decided that weird noises in chimneys and attics and loud noises from neighbors just aren't things we can deal with anymore. So we're moving. Mrs. A printed off a bunch of listings for houses that met our needs and in our range and we spent the evenings checking them out.

We ran across a really nice model to build on a wooded lot backing up to a greenbelt. We were very close to dropping some escrow money on it. But by the time all the added rooms and extra's were factored in, it would have pushed the cost well past what our limit was. Plus, you can't negotiate with a builder. They say it's a price, it's pretty much that price. It's like getting a high demand brand new car, yeah you could haggle a little bit, but you're not going to save much. It's a principle thing.

And the principle was, I was set on this house. It was in the same area, it was plenty big and was on a nice lot. It was new so we could get anything we wanted and get it right the first time.

That is until cooler and more thoughtful heads prevailed. Mrs. A was wise enough to say, "You know what? I want to be absolutely sure." So she printed up 20 more houses that matched our criteria and we spent some of the day Saturday looking at those. Well, we found one. It's in our neighborhood and has all the things we need, plus it's within our price range. It's 10 years old and has a great, immaculate yard and a wonderful deck. The only two drawbacks it has is it's fully carpeted and it doesn't have a media room. But those are small things and can be overcome. The rest of the house, plus the cost per square foot, is really quite something. There's also something to be said about moving to a new house, but only a couple blocks away. Your house changes, but not really your home. Schools stay the same, shopping, routes to work. I think it'll be nice.

The front of the house looks like the cut away scenes from sitcoms where they've returned from the commercial, there's a jingle reprise and the inside action starts. It's really cute.

So last night we put on offer on it and today Mrs. A is working with both the lender and our agent to get the ball rolling. We now have to think about our house and the things we have to do to it to get it to sell, which isn't much. Repair a fence, trim some bushes and edges, that's about it. I'm sure any buyers will say they want a new water heater or AC or something, but I don't see us budging on much. We'll see.

And for all you Housing Experts out there, I await your calls. I'm sure we're bound to get a ton of emails or comments or phone calls about something, and we could use the advice, so let 'em fly. I don't want to say much more about it right now for fear of jinxing it.

The other exciting thing that happened was a visit from my mom and aunt. (I guess, Grandma Woodland Park and Aunt Littleton? Seems a bit lengthy.) They came down for the weekend to see the family and some sites around Austin. There was an original plan to have a big birthday bash for the little ones in between their birth dates, but no one but my mom and aunt could come down at that time. Work, health, other plans pretty much dictated that.

For those who didn't come, there was no party, nothing planned, don't feel bad, don't think you ruined anything. We went to Red Lobster, saw Robots. It was ok.

So the first day, my mom and aunt and I head to Fredericksburg out in the Hill Country. The Hill Country in Austin in a weird mix of Texas and Germany. Fredericksburg is notorious for wild flowers, peaches, pecans and schnitzel. My mom and I both had a story about going there and eating at a restaurant and asking how the schnitzel was, and both stories end with the waitress going, "The schnitzel is good! You will have some?" Like really overeagerly, like it was some agenda they had to push. Like schnitzel isn't really good, but don't tell the Germans. Like Chilli's saying "Try the Spam! It's good, ya?"

But the main event was the Wild Flower Seed Farm just outside of Fredericksburg. My mom is a gardening nut, or a green thumb however you want to look at it. Growing up we had a vegetable garden and strawberry patch and a rhubarb bush and tomato vines and all measure of flowers and trees. 70% of her photos are of flowers. Several of the trips made to Texas have involved trips to gardens or looking for flowers.

She likes flowers.

So we went to this place, and it was ok. They, being in the German countryside that they are, also had a place to get beer. So all was good.

I felt a little bad because we knew they were coming out, but we ended up using that weekend to find a new house. They ended up watching the kids a few times while we were out. I'd have rather they watched the kids while we went out to a movie or drinking or something, but this was actually helpful, and I dig that. So thanks guys.

By the same token, they were able to spend a lot of time with the grandkids and I'm sure they didn't mind that at all.

Decent weekend.

So the big thing LIA will be keeping track of now is the new home. Home Watch, we'll call it. And on going update from now until we've unpacked the last box. You guys are in for a real treat. Maybe I'll paint the blog and you can watch it dry. Trust me, it's more fun for us.


May the Force be with you.

I saw Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in 1977. My parents didn't go right away, they waited a few months. I was 4.

I saw Empire Strikes Back after it'd been in the theaters for a few months. I was 7.

I saw Return of the Jedi opening day, I was 10.

When Lucas released the special editions in the theaters, I saw them opening day. I was 23.

When Phantom Menace came out in 1999 I was 25 years old and had moved to a different state and married a very understanding woman.

In 2002, I had a one year old girl. Attack of the Clones would come out 2 weeks later. I was 28.

The Revenge of the Sith, the last of the released films, came out this morning at 12:01, May 19th, 2005. I'm 32. I have a 4 year old girl, and a one year old son. I've been married almost 7 years.

After some quick math, I'm guessing I've spent or have received as gifts, over $8,000 in Star Wars merchandise. That's not taking into account how many quarters I've plunked into video games or popcorn and sodas at the theater. That's books, shirts, hats, games, Legos, comics, toys, videos and movie tickets. (By the way, the average price of a movie in 1977 was $2.29.)

I've read over 30 novels and 40 comic books. I've collected 42 Star Wars Lego sets. I've seen A New Hope several hundred times.

My groom's cake at my wedding was decorated with the Rebel Alliance symbol. The Medal Ceremony song was played when Mrs. Austin and I walked out after saying "I do."

In 1994 I began writing a book I planned on pitching to Bantam books. The story would later be told in an eerily similar novel trilogy, The Black Fleet Crisis.

I saw the first movie when I was four. My brother was one. The final movie my children are four and one. (Don't worry, they won't see the last one till they're older.)

I've never worn a Star Wars costume. I've never had a lightsaber. I've never gotten into heated discussions about what Jedi could kick what Sith's ass. I know a lot of stuff about the universe, but on a 1 to 10 scale of fanaticism, I'm more of a 6 or 7. Sure, it's influenced my life. I love comic books and sci-fiction. But it hasn't turned me into a rabid uber-nerd who has technical specs of all the ships or the vital stats of all the people memorized.

The story made a huge impact on what I believe and how I see the world. I don't want to dirty the memory of this nearly 30 year journey by talk of how bad someone acted or what lines were poorly written or which effects didn't hide the wires. I'd rather look back on this fondly as an experience that no generation has had until now. And it's done now. Lucas just won't live forever. He can't really think about doing 3 more. He's said so.

I won't expect it. It's a good story across six pretty amazingly crafted films.

I'll leave it at that.


Revenge of the Dorks

You know it had to happen. You've been waiting for it. Well it's finally here.

That's right. Dan Rather's Wednesday edition of 60 Minutes has been canceled.

Heh, gotcha.

No really. To answer your questions:

  • Yes, I will be seeing Revenge of the Sith tonight.

  • No, Mrs. Austin will not be attending.

  • Yes, I will be waiting in line for hours before hand.

  • No, I will not be dressed up like Ben Kenobi. (Never heard that one before.)

  • No, I am not a virgin who lives in his parents' basement.

I will be going tonight because I need closure. Star Wars has been an integral part of my life growing up and has really dictated what I'm doing now which is trying to tell stories. I love science fiction. I love space ships and laser blasters and odd critters. I love technology that looks old but is way beyond anything we have. I love the idea of The Force and The Jedi and The Sith. I love all these things because they are simple and easily identifiable. I don't have think to hard to appreciate Star Wars. That's not a dig, that's like complimenting Mac and Cheese for being comfort food. It serves a purpose and it serves it well.

Now, with that said, the first two movies were pretty bad. I liked them because they had some relation to the original idea. I can appreciate watching what, in my mind, happened in the past. How people came to be who they are, explanations and events that have only be alluded to by the first movies. It's like watching The Godfather movies, then watching a few other movies later that tell the story of how Don Vito came to this country and became Don. There's not much suspense because you know what will happen, but the "huh, no kidding" value is still there. I can appreciate that.

I can also appreciate the last minute heroics of fighter pilots. Man, something about a winning touchdown or a final blast from a space fighter with a crescendo of music really makes me blubbery. Don't ask, I don't know.

What I can't appreciate is the atrocious acting in these movies and the crappy lines. I don't want to dig on George Lucas because that's a popular fad among fans and disparagers alike. "He can't direct." "He can't write comfortable dialogue." "He's only out for it to get more money." Whatever. I do think he should have let someone else direct the films because, let's face it, Hayden Christiansenbergsonn can't act fer shit. Neither could Jake Lloyd. Those two could have been replaced by a garbage disposal and I'm sure the movie would have made a few more bucks.

Believe what you want. I believe certain things and one is that George has a great vision and no one since J.R.R Tolkien has had a comparable concept. No one. Think of the universe he created. Think of anything any other creator has done to mirror that. It's hard isn't it? The best I can think of is Jim Henson with The Dark Crystal. Star Wars has nothing to do with Earth or Earthlings or things we know and appreciate. You might say The Matrix was a good creation. It was, but it's based on human programmed computers. Superman, Batman, Spiderman. All good. All take place on Earth. Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion. Also good. Takes place on Middle Earth, somehow eluding to the fact that Middle is the time and not a place. A time before modern man. A myth still based on human understanding.

So, that's what I believe, and that's why I will see this movie. I will see it because I believe in Darth Vader and R2 and Obi-Wan and Yoda and X-Wings and The Jedi and lightsabers and Star Destroyers, and I don't believe I'm being taken by a money grubbing elitist who doesn't care for the fans. He can do what he wants. If you don't support him, don't see the movie. But don't try to make me feel bad for going. I have my reasons.

May the Force be with you.


I have to move.

I think I may have written about this before. It's 11pm on a Saturday. I'm awake because Mrs. A is at a wedding doing a shoot and I'm staying up for her, but if I wasn't, I'd be awake because the goddamn neighboors are at it again with their music.

I'm going to play the race card here and pose the question, what the fuck is with Mexicans and having to listen to their music outside so freakin' loud? I like loud music, but I know that after a certain time I should shut the shit off. I mean, it's not like I'm out washing my car and will appreciate this background noise, I've got kids in bed.

Speaking of, the one house is having some kind of party and the kids are all still awake. Man, 11 o'clock. I don't think I got to stay up that late till I graduated high school.

Oh this makes me so sick of living here. I like our house. It's small but it's well kept and we're pretty conveniently located. I just hate our neighborhood. It's always like a block party, all the time. It's just guys sitting out by their trucks drinking beer listening to the incesent oompa beats of latino music until we have to call 311 and get the cops to tell them to shut the party down.

Which makes me feel bad, because then when we have people over and we hang outside for smokes and beer, we're a little loud. But not this loud. We never fired up the car stereo and cranked up Nine Inch Nails.

Well, maybe we should. Maybe we should fight back with really loud industrial music at 6am when they're all trying to sleep it off. I'd go out and fire up the lawn mower and the stereo and the weed eater. It just enfuriates me. I can't believe that all Mexicans are like this, but all are neighboors are Mexican and they all do it. It must be some love of the tuba and accordian that just makes them want to stay up late and piss off the white people.

And how many times do we have to call the cops before they get the message? I know the people across the way we've called about at least five times. Are they forgetful? Evil? Stupid? What kind of curtousy must you lack to do this to your streetmates? What kind of thought goes through your head when you've got noises like this playing at midnight? Weekend or not SOMEONE has got to have babies or kids or is trying to shake a cold and needs some rest.

So, again, I have to call 311. They've been going at it since 5pm. I don't do anything until after 10. I should do something at 8. What's the ordinance around here anyway?

When I lived in an apartment, and I was going to have a party, I'd tell my neighboors. "Hey, I'm going to have people over. You're invited. We're going to have some music. If we get out of control, just stop on by and let us know and we'll cool it." No, nothing. And they get pissed when you give them the, "Hey, silencio, por favor!" Like we're imposing on them.

I have to move. I have to get out of here. They play music at 2pm when I try taking a nap. They play it early in the morning, late at night. For no reason. It's not the 5th of May or the 4th of July or Christmas or Easter or anything that I can really excuse, it's just a Saturday night.

And no that doesn't make it alright.


I want to apologize to anyone reading this if I've offended you. I have nothing against any race of people. There are so many other reason to think people are jerks, why be racial about it. If the people on my block were white people playing country or black people playing hip hop or old people playing big band I'd be just as upset. It's more the loud music I have a problem with, not the people. It just so happens that all the people doing it at that time were one race. Other people on our street have done similar things that aren't Latino, I just haven't written about them. It was unfair of me to say that.

Carry on.


Austin Smoking and You

For those living in the self proclaimed Live Music Capital of the world, you may be interested in knowing that as of Sept. 1, 2005, you will not be able to smoke in any public place in Austin.

An ordinance passed over the weekend banning smoking in all public buildings and within 15 feet of all entrances to public buildings. This includes bars, billiard halls, restaurants and bowling alleys. A fine of $2,000 could be applied to anyone violating the ordinance.

But don't lose hope, Austinites. Until the year 2012, there are seven places around town in which you can smoke. Only a couple are obscure, the rest you probably wouldn't want to go to anyway.

The striking thing about the measure passing on the weekend was the turn out. First, it only passed by some 3,000 votes. Second, a good 60,000 people voted. In a city of a million people, that's a decent percentage of voter aged adults getting out on a Saturday to curtail someone else’s personal freedoms.

You heard me. Let's step aside from the fact that this bill sounds the death knell for bars and musicians in Austin. Let's forget that tourism will suffer because the cool places to go to will have to shut down or will be fined into closure because they choose to ignore the ban. Let's instead talk about personal freedoms.

Now, smoking isn't a Constitutional Right. It shouldn't be, don't get me wrong. However, if drinking (another legal narcotic) is allowed and causes just as many traffic deaths as does exposure to second hand smoke, why not ban liquor? Did prohibition work? Did it? Of course it did. It worked so well we don't have it now.

I'm actually trying to quit smoking, so I can appreciate going to places that are not very smoky. Not because of the smoke in the air, but because of the desire it creates to light up myself. I'm also a parent, and I appreciate that people are looking out for kids. What I don't think happened when people voted for this was a good look at some facts about Austin and it's apparent rampant smoking hoodlums terrorizing senior citizens and babies.

  • Of 46,000 businesses in Austin, over 99% are smoke free.
  • No smoking is allowed anywhere children under 18 are present.
  • Over 2000 restaurants are smoke free. Only 6 allow smoking.
  • Over 400 bars are smoke free. Only 200 allow smoking.
  • Over 150 live music venues are smoke free. Only 63 allow smoking.
  • Only 211 businesses and their employees have chosen to allow smoking in Austin.

(from Keep Austin Free)

99% are smoke free. 99%. That's a better rating than most FDA approved drugs. That means that out of 100 restaurants, only 1 allows smoking. That means if you had time to pick from all the restaurants and bars in Austin, only 211 would be withheld from your picking. I haven't been to 211 different restaurants in my whole life and now some folks have decided that it's more important that those final bastions of free choice must be squashed to make room for...for...

...not them.

Because see, the people who voted for the ban aren't the people who go to live music shows on 6th street. They aren't the ones in a crappy bar at 1am watching a hockey game and drinking whiskey. Bars are for drinking, smoking and flirting. Bars are for playing darts, having a cigar, drinking some whiskey and talking really loud about stuff you probably shouldn't. It's a culture; it's a part of society. You don't like it? Go at the source.

Stop the production of tobacco related material. This isn't 1700's Virginia anymore; we don't need the stuff to thrive as an economically sound colony separate from The Crown. You can't have something be legal but prohibited to the extent that it is creating second-class citizens. If suddenly there was a referendum to ban all alcohol in bars or within 15 feet of all public buildings, there would be a HUGE outcry for its dismissal.

However, all ranting aside, I'm in the minority. Just like Gay Marriage and Religion in Schools, I just can't see why anyone would want this. It doesn't make sense to me. Putting limits on personal freedoms that don't necessarily help in the way the measure was intended is political homogeny. No child is dying because of second hand smoke they breathed in while at a shot bar. No waitress or barkeeper is stupid enough to realize that if they don't like working at one of the 211 allowed smoking locations, they can't work at the other 46,000. Anyone falling into these two categories should not be the burden of society. Parents who bring their children to bars should have the kids removed (and apparently not given to gay people.)

But again, I'm in the 49% that just doesn't get it. Along with Houston, New York, Minneapolis and a slew of other cities, Austin is now in line with America and American hates you smokers.


LMA is the big 4.0

Today marks the birth of Little Miss Austin, or Scoot Scoot as Mrs. A likes to call her.

That's right, aging hipsters. For those keeping track. LMA is now four years old. She was born pre 9/11, pre-home ownership, pre-Governor Ahnold, pre-war in Iraq. Here's some things that happened on this day in history.

LMA was awoke this morning with a little carrot cake muffin and a candle and a cup with vanilla milk (her favorite.) Tonight we're going to either Chuck E Cheese or Red Lobster, both her favorite restaurants. (We're pushing for seafood.) She took a couple dozen muffins to school with her to share because her school has this thing about sugar, so cupcakes and cake were out. She wore a nice dress and some new sandals and she was really pretty happy about it being her birthday.

Over the weekend we went to Mrs. A's mom's house (I guess she's Grandma Conroe?) and helped clean the place up a bit. The original plan for Mother's Day was to let Mrs. A go out early, get a hotel by herself so she could sleep alone and late and be luxuriously laid back on Friday, then she and her brother would get to the house to clean, then the kids and I would come out on Sunday. Well those plans got put aside for different reasons and we all ended going out on Saturday morning.

As Mrs. A repeated like a mantra, "This is a bad idea."

There were some low parts of the trip, not least of which was Pilgrim staying up most of the night in the hotel yowling like there was someone slowing removing his toes every 30 minutes. Man that kid doesn't sleep. Still, at almost a year old, he wakes up several times a night. Usually he puts himself back to sleep, but not after screaming for 10-15 minutes. When it's another room you can tune it out, but when he's 10 feet away, it's hard to ignore. I felt bad for anyone in rooms near us because I could hear him 4 doors down in the hallway.


Also, from now on, Pilgrim will be known as Yogi. His favorite car pastime is grabbing both feet and doing the splits while giggling. He, like most babies, just thing chewing on his feet is so much fun. Well, he does it in his sleep now, just grabs a foot and pulls so he's got two feet in the air. I said I was doing to start calling him Dhalsim but Cheryl didn't know who that was (why would she?) so we started calling him Yogi.

Thing about these kids, we call them tons of little pet names. Scooterface, Space Cadet, Pumpkin Butter, Puppy, it's hard to really pick one and stick with it for this page. LMA seems to have been a solid choice, but the little guy, I don't know. Yogi might work. Who knows.

So anyway, this was a non-entry. Just kinda rambled.



Orwellian Indeed.

I just have to post these links without much diatribe because frankly, there's nothing much I could say to ease the taste of bile that's slowly creeping into my throat.

Bewitched Statue in Salem. No not Oregon. I think they're also planning a Tonto statue in Wounded Knee Creek, SD and a Kato statue near an old internment camp in San Francisco.

No gay sperm for me thanks. I only want wife beating, alcoholic sperm. Only the best for my yet-to-be-baby.

I just can't find the words anymore. I think I'm going to start writing a new dictionay for people who have lost the ability to communicate after seeing so many hateful things happen in their world.



Ah yes. It's that time of year again when state legislatures wind down for the year before the summer with a push on agendas, lobbyists make a last dash to their representatives and voters give a lukewarm thumbs up or down on any number of local or state issues.

So it comes as no surprise that Evolution has again come under fire from proponents of Intelligent Design.

The Kansas Board of Education will open hearings today to debate the teaching of Intelligent Design and suggest a more critical look at the Evolution citing that it's a controvertial theory. This follows several other states who have had similar debates for the last twenty years, some even involving stickers being placed on books stating that Evolution is only a theory and not fact.

Most states are trying to come to terms with what to teach in schools. Opponents of such debates, including the National Institute of Science, claim that such ciriculum violates the seperation of church and state. Proponents argue that schools are currently ignoring other creation viewpoints.

Honestly, between you me and the wall, Intelligent Design is a cop out. It's a weasly move to incorporate faith based ideas with the knowledge of science. It's saying, "Hey, we don't know what happened really. In fact, all we have to go on is this one book. We do know that you guys are all wrong."

Intelligent Design is the notion that life on Earth is too complex to have evolved by itself and must have been the brain child of some higher power, some architect that created the patterns by which life is constantly being updated. Think of it as a piece of software that's set to reinvent itself every couple months to adapt to its user. Now, the software designer isn't a deity, but it is smart enough to know that the user will eventually require the software to update in a certain pattern, so the writer will create that pattern along with instructions on when to adapt and how to follow the pattern.

Sounds like evolution to me. Self adapting system. The difference here is, ID says someone created it, Evolution says it happened on its own.

So who's behind this design that's intelligent? Not God, you say? Ok, who?

See, the problem these IDers are having is that no one is really disputing the fact that both their cabal and the Evolution Camp basically agree that life adapts according to some pattern. The difference is, the IDers are trying to force a deity into it under the guise of science, and it just won't fly. I'd rather have schools teach Creationism as a faith based idea and then compare it with Evolution as a science based idea, then debate it rather than introduce the tepid and weak theory.

I think I would be more inclinded to agree with the ideas behind ID if they could scientifically prove who the designer was.


What to do.

I really don't know what to make of this. Maybe our readers can illuminate us on the situation and it's frustrating nuiances.

LMA goes to a Montessori school. It's a great school. She has friends, the teachers are nice and I think she's excelling in the atmosphere that exists. I know saying "Montessori" sounds very upper-class and snobby, but it's really nothing to get excited about. They are just good teachers and they tend to focus on things like motivation and self-control and confidence more than just a daycare or a public school might.

Might, I don't know for sure, this is my first kid.

Well, something came up this week that's a little unsettling. This is teacher appreciation week, nationally I believe, and last week LMA's school sent home a list of things to get the teachers; things like flowers, or apples or drawings or whatever. Well, in the hectic events of normal every day life, we totally spaced it. Just flat out forgot. I think it was more my fault than Mrs. A's as I take the kids to school and pick them up most of the time. I see all the signs, get all the handouts, talk to the teachers, etc. My burden to bear.

In my defense, I can't get out of the house without forgetting something if there are more than 5 things to remember. Most of those memory slots are taken up by things like "put on your pants" and "don't forget the children" so having extra things like "diaper wipes" and "yellow folder" means that something gets pushed out. I'm only human, it just does.

Now, with that in mind, it's not LMA's fault she didn't bring anything for her teachers. Mrs. A and I really help out with her school the rest of the year as it is. We've given her class a hamster that Mrs. A feeds and tends to weekly. We bought the school a hose holder for the outside. We donated time to help shovel sand from the front into the sandboxes in the back. We stay late after events to help clean. We do a lot.

So when her teachers tease her about not bringing in a god damn flower, that's crossing the line.

I mean really, who sends home a note saying, "Go buy these things for your teachers?" Who does that? How about a note that says, "Next week is teacher appreciation week. Do your best to show your child's teacher you care by giving a gift. Some suggestions are..." That would have been fine. This was a daily thing. Monday, flowers. Tuesday, a fruit basket. Wednesday, a drawing. I mean come on. Isn't that a little weird or have things changed that much since I was a kid?

Anyway, the point is that her parents forgot, not her. If the teachers have a problem with that, they should call us. (Which still gets me, call us to complain they didn't get presents. You know, they won't get me anything for Father's Day, I know they won't.) You don't make the 3 year old child an example in front of the class. You don't make them feel bad and lower their esteme because they have a busy family that just honestly forgot.

Also, we pay tuition. It's not cheap to go to this school. We appreciate them plenty by paying them. To kick in all this extra crap just makes me so angry. I don't understand.

So now, it's Wednesday. I've got two days to figure out what these jackals need and possibly go out and buy it, just so my little girl isn't made to feel like a fuckin' lepper. But does that mean I've caved? Does that mean I've given in to their demands just because they teach my kid?

The other aspect, and I hate to use this card, but it's the only thing I have left, is her teachers are primarily from other countries originally. I can only hazzard a truly xenophobic guess that there is some kind of cultural line of communication that's being fuzzed here. I mean, LMA is in this daycare/school for 10 hours a day. I don't like it, but it should illustrate that Mommy and Daddy are really freakin' busy. We may not have time to get presents for people 5 days in a row. We may have just forgot about yet another piece of paper stapled to her lunch box. We may have not had the funds to perpetuate such an exercise. Is that something that happens elsewhere? Are teachers appreciated more around the world than they are here? I'm sure that's the case.

But don't take it out on the kid. The kid can't tie her own shoes yet or do much writing. Why make her feel bad in front of her friends?

God, I just don't know what to do. I liked her teachers before this, now I think they're petty and arrogant and aren't really there to help the kids. I'm probably wrong on that, but it doesn't make me want to be one of those helpful parents anymore. No sir.


Hey hon, we're on the news! Ooooh crap.

As discussed with some friends, getting on Texas for choices made by legislative bodies doesn't mean that all Texans are jerkholes.

However, when it makes it to the Daily Show, then we just start looking silly.

Now every time someone asks you where you're from, you have to clarify that you're in Austin, Texas. Just makes me so angry. Eh, but I'm also tired, and heavy lids win out over high blood pressure.

I've seen a ton of movies this last week. Pilgrim was sick Wednesday through Friday so I had some time at home. Saw Equilibrium with Christian Bale. Good movie, not great. It's a bit predictable and just a little far-fetched, but it is sci-fi. And speaking of sci-fi, Mrs. A actually suggested we go see The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. If you don't know anything about me and Mrs. A, know that I love movies and she likes movies. She doesn't understand waiting in line on opening night or getting there in time for previews. We have this game that we avoid playing in where she will ask what else some actor's been in, then I try to make it as simple as possible by thinking of something she's seen, but invariably ends up with both of us throwing our hands up saying, "You know what, forget it."

However, Hitchhiker’s was just a blast. It wasn't like the first time I saw, The Matrix but what is anymore? And to all you purists, if you want something that's faithful to the book, read the gorram book. It's a movie that was in part written by the guy who wrote the book, then he died, so what do you want? This movie was just fun and exciting and well crafted and well acted (I thought.) Definitely worth the $8 and the giant tub of pop corn and spiked cokes.

Also went to The Alamo Drafthouse to see Kung-Fu Hustle with some coworkers. Another fun ride. I don't think it was a fun as Shaolin Soccer but that may be because I hadn't been exposed to Stephen Chow movies yet, so I was expecting more of the same. And I got it. And I wasn't disappointed.

And while we're on movies that disappoint, what the frack is wrong with you people who think Zoolander was funny? I watched the later half of it this weekend after turning it off after the first half the first time I watched it, but coming back to it out of morbid curiosity. What a piece of shit that movie was. I really like Owen Wilson but even he couldn't save this. I was a Ben Stiller fan, but I think that admiration ran out after Mystery Men. Pee-yew.

Aliens vs. {Predator wasn't much better, but it at least had some coolness going on with it, like the fight scenes. I mean, going into this, you know the humans are going to get slaughtered, just seemed rather obvious and contrived. Plot was REALLY pushing it. I do believe Paul W.S. Anderson could have done much better had he, I don't know, pulled a kid off the street and asked him to write this. Blee-argh!

So we're thinking of buying a new house. Not thinking really as much as going ahead with plans to do so. We've been looking at neighborhoods and houses, well shoot, since we moved here. Lately we've stepped it up a notch. Word to the wise for anyone moving to Austin; stay away from Hyde Park, Terrytown, Travis Heights or Barton Springs areas. No no, they're not bad neighborhoods, far from it. But the houses are half a million dollars.


That's right, just decent, 3 bedroom houses in Hyde Park are 750,000. Those little cracker box houses that are usually a bright shade of baby-blue or pink or yellow with a red door and the detached garage in back? Yeah, those. Built in the 50's, electricity is probably not up to code and you're 5 miles from the nearest decent grocery story, but because the zip code is 78705, it's 3/4 of a mil.

Just sick, man.

Anyway, so Mrs. A wants to live closer into Austin, that means we have to find the diamond in the rough. Something in a cool like area that won't fleece our bank accounts. We're also thinking of buying land and building our own house. There was even talk of building onto the house we already have.

So the process is started, we're going to talk with our mortgage lady again and see what we have to do to buy a bigger home but keep our mortgage about the same. It isn't going to happen unless we can conjure up $100,000. But even 30% down may not help. What needs to happen is for these kids to start working. I'm sure there's a cotton field or mine they can spend a few hours in, isn't there?