Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Halo Intentions

Five times I slapt the snooze button on my alarm clock Saturday morning; once for each hour that I'd been asleep. At 12:52pm afternoon, it wasn't my alarm clock's knuckle-cracking pops that woke me up, it was brother fucking with the volume so that it sounded like a pinto radio on a hilly insterstate...loud. soft. Loud, soft. Had my blanket been more of a blanket and less of a flour tortilla, I would've jumped up swinging.

Thrity minutes later, I stood between my neighbor and her 10 year-old daughter pulling on a white, nylon rope outfitted with 4 stick handlebars attached to a 15-foot, upright cedar tree. It was too early for that shit. A half hour of that, the sawed carnage sat by the curb and I finally sat down to my first cup of coffee.

We bought Halo last Friday night and played for 8 hours, starting at 10pm. Sometime between then and now, I thought I could be either the perfect soldier or the perfect example of a discharged soldier. I'm walking around this game, see my gun-sights flicker red and I'm off following bullets like the tail of a comet (yeah, I know a comet tail actually leads the comet itself, but pretend for a minute that the simile works). Sometimes, that strategy even works, but tick-marking deaths, I've sacrificed myself probably twice as many times as my roommate.

Friday afternoon, I actually got bored enough that I wanted to write this post. I've been thinking about the dwindling number of new military recruits. No branch of the military has met its monthly recruiting goals. In my PATRIOT-Act-conspiracy-theoried-mind, it's only a matter of time before the FBI starts hacking into the Internet gaming world to look for gun-toting possibilities, not unlike the aliens seek out The Last Starfighter.

There are 13 and 14 year-old kids that can multi-task weapon re-loading, strategy, fingertip aim, and lateral thinking abilities. These kids have higher IQs than the average American adult, better hand-eye coordination than most world-renowned surgeons, and have fun doing it than surfing for Internet porn. Sending these kids into Iraq would be like a weekend of no parents and binge-gaming for them.

I wrote all that Friday afternoon from the perspective a recruiter talking to the gamer. And, it was good despite being written in the middle of the afternoon rather than the middle of the night. Then, the computer locked-up just before i hit the "post" button. Can you fucking believe it? I damn near lost it and I'm talking "well, Bob, i wouldn't really say i've missed work" lost it.

Maybe I have some anger issues. Maybe I'm having some sort of frustrated-writing meltdown. Maybe I'm having committment issues with my laptop.

I don't know, but it can't be any so serious that a few more hours of Halo couldn't remedy. I'm unemployed, what could it hurt to give it another aggressive twirl?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

TVs Supernatural Evolution

Salon.com actually "scooped" me on this one...Sort of.

For the past few weeks, I've been contemplating the obvious shift in reality by networks for their fall season line-ups. With shows like Supernatural, Invasion, Angel Whisperer, Night Stalker, etc. there are elements being televised in primetime slots that haven't been explored since the days of the X-Files; that is "forces beyond our control" as Salon puts it. But, the coincidence and scoop end there.

Salon proposes that this programming is the entertainment industry's attempt to capitalize on the new terrorism threat. Aliens, ghosts, spirits are all instinctively feared because they are out of the realm of our understanding; anything we cannot explain should be feared. Maybe I'm optimistic, but I don't see the threat of terrorism in this new programming at all. In fact, I say these shows are not tied together by fear at all, but, rather, by hope and curiosity.

I think back on the X-Files era and see a society oblivious to serious threats of terrorism. But, it was also a society of hot-lamps and nuggets of doubt. X-Files was geared for the primetime conspiracy theorist, but for anyone outside that cult, it solidified a thought that maybe the government hasn't and isn't completely honest with the American public. From its era, a new generation of "trekkies" evolved.

We idolized the anti-James Bond "Mulder" for his intelligence and mainstream fascination with the sexy, intelligent "Scully." The show was for adults who had grown-up watching the original Star Trek starring William Shatner and Leornard Nemoy. Geeks could be "normal" - whetever the hell that is.

The public didn't question the government because we didn't know, or didn't want to appear to know, enough about how the political system worked. We felt safer not questioning what we were being told. Mulder and Scully walked into our living rooms flashing their FBI badges as everyday citizens. They showed how there were silenced by their top-secret jobs and questioned the "why" themselves. All of a sudden, it's okay to vocally question what you do not know, hence, "the truth is out there."

It was a subtle exaggeration of the truth - at least from hindsight. When the terrorists attacked on 9/11, we could only trust our local and federal governments. The terrorists may not have been American-born, but they were American citizens; they were a part of our "melting pot" culture. America was an anorexic supermodel forcing herself to throwup when no one was looking.

Out of this came reality television. The true heroes of 9/11 were people with mortgages and car payments. They rushed in and out of the burning buildings and got out as many people as they could reach. Who would've thought an investment broker could also be a hero? What other, superhuman-talent did Americans posses? After the shock and the surreality, there was this undying love for the American spirit: perserverance, heroism, humility, love. And that spirit is something that everyone hides beneath their ties and nametags.

The reality of that day has been left to settle at the bottom our glasses along with our lives before that event. The 9/11 Commission reported the government knew an attack on American soil was being planned. Most Americans, myself included, saw these reports as political "chatter." It's no secret that America isn't the most popular country in the world, so it's easy to see how we could have numerous threats stepped up to us everyday. How do you know which ones are sincere? The memories from that day are no less painful, but they are now 4 years removed. 9/11 has been reduced to a political talking-point a silenced feeling of humility.

After watching the first episode of Supernatural Tuesday night, there was an X-Files presence; the feeling that the unknown can be understood. And seeing the previews for the other shows, I see them to be much the same. I don't see the networks preying on our fears of terrorist attacks, but rather a quest to understand the unexplainable.

Understanding is a long road. This latest fall season is trying remind us all of that, and series-long format is the perfect subtle point for that. From the first episode of any new series, there is a central question that is asked that will only be answered at the very end, no matter how much the audience wants the answer to be revealed immediately. And it doesn't matter if you're tracking angels, haunting spirits or global terrorists, there is always going to be a twist in the road that keeps us from sprinting straight into the tunnel vision of light.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Is it Tuesday yet...again? No? guess I'll read a book then.

I washed 4 loads of laundry here at the house and then drove each load to and from the laundromat to dry - every 35-45 minutes for 3 hours. It took just enough commitment that it was pointless to do anything else.

I sat clicking through television stations and adjusting the bunny-ears antenna so I wouldn't clothesline myself. Then, I realized I do, in fact, like Friends and that it was Tuesday, a day of premiers for the WB - Bones, House, (of all things Holy, not Gilmore Girls, give me a Goddam Break already!), and Supernatural; and now I wonder how I got caught up in series television.

I'm scared of commitment. I won't tell someone on Monday that I'll be at their party on Saturday. Used to be anyway. Now, I see myself planning spontaneity around my television schedule. I blame the book industry.

It's hard to stay mad at a good book because the return is worth the year-long anticipation. And, at least it is not mindless television. I got sucked into watching 6 hours of MTVs Real World one afternoon. I'd called in sick just because I needed a day off. I was working fulltime and going to school fulltime - a day from one meant a full day of the other. I needed a day to be stupid and irresponsible. When I surfed onto the first episode of the Real World, it seemed it was the perfect entertainment for that mission.

I felt drained, retarded and numb when I peeled my ass out of the couch hours later. While as pointless as it may seem now, it allowed me to turn a cold shoulder to all reality tv. I did watch the first season of the Apprentice - liked it - but when the second season finally debuted, I'd missed it. Two weeks later, when I found the second season had started, I discovered that I didn't miss it at all.

And, that was that...until today. Watching all those Tuesday premiers, I saw my body sink into a primetime life - Tuesday nights anyway. And I'm sure I'd hate it if I weren't too busy clearing out my Tuesday night schedules for the next few months just because I need something to do that will waste some time between now and next Tuesday.