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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Cherry Creek And The Platte

Another beautiful day. Another long bike ride with the boys. Another edition of Denver Photoblogging.

Today's journey started at the Denver Skate Park, located on 20th Street. My friend Genisi, who accompanied me and the boys (she also happens to be Justin's mama), remarked that the skate park was one of the best investments the City had ever made, and it's hard to disagree.

Here's Scott attacking one of the bowls on his skateboard. The skate park has everything you could want from ramps to rails to bowls to half-pipes and everything in between. I'm no skater, but if I was, I'd skate there.

From the skate park, we followed the trail along the Platte river to where it forks off to follow Cherry Creek. Back in the day, this area was the heart of Denver. Two communities, respectively named Auraria and Denver, set their roots on opposite banks of the Creek and as they grew, eventually became the Capitol city of Colorado. Denver, named after the Kansas governor, kept the name.

The REI store in the background of this picture used to house the Forney Transportation Museum and, before that, it was owned by the Denver Tramway, where it generated the electricity for Denver's street cars.

These days, the Platte isn't much of a river, but it used to haunt the city until flood prevention measures (including building walls around Cherry Creek) turned it into a recreation wonderland. The bike paths on either side of it provide a great ride and plenty of beautiful scenery.

In this picture, you can still see the rail bridges that used to serve the warehouses that lined the Platte. Now the area is all condos and high-end lofts. To the right, just out of frame, is the Pepsi Center in all of its 21st Century opulence.

Further down, if you come out of the bike trenches and into the city, you will run into the huge Denver Center for the Performing Arts. (Here are some interesting facts about the place.) This is where all the Broadway shows play when they come through town, and they have their own Tony-winning company that performs a whole season of great plays. (I had season tickets once...absolutely loved it.)

The controversy, of course, is the art. Before they dancers depicted in this picture, there was just a big rock like thing. It was supposed to light up or shoot water, but it never quite worked and eventually it was replaced with this. Whatever you think of the white aliens dancing, it is an improvement.

Across the street, there is the new Convention Center. Millions are being poured into this thing, and it is very nice, but I can't really get excited about a convention center. However, they too have interesting tastes in art and have installed a giant blue bear, peering in through the glass, on the north side of the building.

After hitting the Convention Center, we went by the Denver Pavillions, which was mobbed by the Denver Art Festival. We didn't really stop as there was no place to park the bikes, so we pedaled over to Civic Center Park, where we all had a break and some oranges.

Then it was back to the river.
If you look real close, you can see one of the light rail trains rolling by on the bridge.

Making our way back, I managed to capture this shot, which gives you a perfect view of how the Platte drains into Cherry Creek. Perhaps an hour earlier, the boys had been on the sandbar below, splashing in the water and playing in the river.


And finally, on the bridge over the river, we came upon an unfortunate roller blader who had just attempted an awesome trick, and failed miserably. I didn't see the accident, but I saw the aftermath...and let's just say, this kid is going to have one hell of a summer.

Take a look at what he did to his arm.

Ouch! The paramedics were there to splint him up, but the EMT took one look at it and said, "You're going to have to go to the hospital." Notice the splint/cast thing on his other arm. Apparently that was from a previous roller blading injury.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Snooze Button

On December 11, 1998, a promising light in the heavy metal world was extinguished before he even had a chance to burn. Lynn Strait, lead singer of the band Snot, was killed in a car accident on the way to the studio to record vocal tracks for Snot’s second album. That album was never finished and later came out in somewhat amended form as a tribute to Lynn that, truth be told, wasn’t very good.

I was thinking about a song from their first record the other day, thinking about how much I still like it, and how prescient it was. The song was Snooze Button, an activisty song about government encroachment on rights that was written when Clinton was president. (Lynn never lived to see the election of George W Bush.)

Even though this song was written in the mid-90s, it’s almost as if it’s describing the mid-00s. Have a listen and read along:
Well, it's just another song
Talkin' about how you let them take your rights
Another redundant verse about how you refused to fight & lost
What cost? Your cause has got no champion
How could you hope to win? By just complaining
Now it's raining on you parade
Decisions made could cost you dearly
Not just your money but your freedom
Are you wealthy improper choices could be deadly
They took your so-called rights
You didn't even fight
Well, here's your motherfuckin' wake up call
& there just ain't no way around it
Caught you asleep once again & we ain't havin' it
Got freedumb for you to do just what they tell you
You missed that train of thought
You refuse to be taught a lesson
Now this is what I'm guessing
You'll be held accountable
The things you didn't want to know
You're stressin'
Now with your mind they keep messin'
They took your so-called rights, you didn't even fight
While you were busy fuckin' sleepin'
You know your government was creepin'
Somebody left the door unlocked while you were asleep
Your life was bought & sold, yes, to the highest bidder
Left you in sitcom hell
So convinced you're doing well
You sit back synapses are attacked
American gladiators are the only thing they're given' back
You're dying & in your mind, while they keep lying,
They took your so-called rights
You didn't even fight
Now that we've given you this message you've got a mess
But you can salvage, continue to grow
& soon you'll know that little things in life can make a difference
You don't got to be some politician
Take back those given rights
Stand up & join the fight
Substitue American Idol for American Gladiators, and I think that sums it up.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sheena

Oh to be young and in love again...

The other day I was flipping through the movie channels and landed on a movie I haven't seen since before I had hair on my chest: Sheena, delicious star vehicle for lithe blue-eyed Tanya Roberts. When I was a kid I loved this movie, not because of the cheesy action or horrible dialogue, but because Sheena spent most of the movie wearing a leatherish g-string bikini outfit, and when she wasn't in that, she wasn't wearing anything.

As Janet Maslin observed in her NYT review:
''Sheena'' is less of a love story than a health club movie, since much of it is devoted to ogling the tan and muscular Miss Roberts.
The love story Maslin mentions involves the ever-plucky Ted Wass, famous for being Blossom's TV Dad. He not quite inexplicably falls in love with Sheena the moment he sees her. It's one of those classic romantic moments you just don't see in movies these days. She threatens to kill him, and he finds himself curiously turned on. The look on his face signals that he would have no objection to anything she might do to him.

But alas, Sheena is innocent and good, caring only for her people, telepathically linked to all the animals of the jungle. (In Beastmaster, Tanya surrendered that ability to Dar. And she also covered herself up more.) All she has to do is place her fingers to her forehead and close her eyes. The beasts, and the men, will come.

But you don't really care about all that, do you? The main question one is going to ask themselves when deciding whether or not to watch Sheena is: Does Tanya Roberts get naked?

And the answer is yes, my friends, several times. Even when she's fully dressed, it's like she's wearing nothing at all. And let's face it, if we didn't get to see any skin, there would be no point in making this silly movie about the blonde-haired blue-eyed African queen with supernatural powers we revere as Sheena.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Jake the Mistake

Thank god the Broncos drafted a QB this year.  Jake is on his way out…Look, buddy, we have no tolerance for asshole QBs in this town.  This is the home of John Elway, a living legend.  Those shoes haven’t been filled in a decade.

Brian Griese used to get drunk and trip over things.  One night, he took a header at Terrell Davis’s house and didn’t know about it until he woke up the next morning with a strawberry on his face in the shape of Florida.  Then later, he says he tripped over his dog on the stairs, spraining his ankle.  Yeah, we believe that one, Bri.  Add the DUI, subtract the quarterback and we got you, Jake, the guy who was supposed to change all that.

Jake the Snake.  Jake the Mistake.  Jake the big shot NFL quarterback whose story is as fishy as his girlfriend’s sweaty cheer shorts.  I love the detail that he was driving to drop off a check for charity.  And let’s see those phone records, man.  The police say you didn’t call them.  Someone’s lying.

Let’s just hope all your off the field problems don’t follow you onto the field.  Pat Bowlen, Mike Shannahan, and the Denver fans won’t stand for that.  So better play a good year, buddy.  It may be your last.

Bluff Lake


One of the luxuries of being on summer vacation is that you can enjoy a nice Wednesday afternoon bike ride. You don't even need a reason. Nice day? That's good enough!

I rode myself down to Quizno's, which isn't that far, had one of the best turkey sandwiches I have ever had, then continued on to what I thought was the Sand Creek Trail (not associated with the famous Sand Creek Massacre). I'm not sure if the trail I was on was the official Sand Creek Trail, but it let me to what I call the Wilderness, otherwise known as the Bluff Lake Nature Preserve.

It's absolutely beautiful over there, and it's right in the heart of the city.

Ah, life...it's the simple things that count.

Dumpsters, Laundromats, and Kleenex

Last night, I was lying in bed reading Mario Acevedo’s book and letting my thoughts drift. There was a scene where the character, vampire detective Felix Gomez, jumps into a dumpster to escape pursuing bad guys. The thing that struck me was that Dumpster was capitalized, which is proper, I suppose, since it’s a brand name. But it’s a brand name that has entered the larger culture so much that it’s lost its uniqueness. Surely not every dumpster out there is a Dumpster, but we don’t call those non-Dumpster dumpsters “trash receptacles.” They’re still dumpsters.

Same thing with laundromat. Every time I write that, MS Word wants to capitalize it as a proper noun, as a brand name. But as the wiki explains,
The name Laundromat was originally coined by Westinghouse as a trademark for washing machines. The term is often used as a generic word for a self-service laundry (the original registration for this use was allowed to expire), the word is still a registered trademark (in script form) for washing machines.
Sometimes a brand name can be so successful, it later becomes synonymous with the product it describes. Take Kleenex.

No one calls it a tissue anymore. It’s a Kleenex. But do I still have to capitalize it? Can’t I just say “He grabbed some kleenex and wiped the lotion off his hands?” Of course not. It’s a trademarked brand name!

I have a suggestion for the Kleenex company. Let the brand name go. Instead trademark the word no one is using, Tissue. I think that would be a great idea. In fact, I’ve got thier ad campaign all planned out.
“Tissue, the original kleenex.”

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

At the Lavanderia

It is now after 6:00 and it’s Tuesday, which means I can water my lawn.  Yep, that’s right, out here on the high desert we’ve got ourselves watering restrictions…again!  This is the fourth year I’ve lived in my house and also the fourth year I’ve had water restrictions.  If I lived in Denver proper, or practically any other city in the metro area, I would have no problem this year.  The last few years have been dry, yes, but the reservoirs are full and the mountain run-off is flowing.  

I have the misfortune of living in Aurora, and if there’s one thing we lack, it’s a water board who knows what they’re doing.  Now I know the intricate world of water rights can be hard to negotiate from time to time, I’ll give you that.  But pull your heads out of your asses already.

I’d really like to have a lawn someday, you know, but if this keeps up I might just have to Xeriscape.  (Speaking of, did you know that Xeriscape is trademarked?)

On another note, I took my laundry down the lavanderia on the corner again and it never fails:  There is always some absolutely beautiful Latina on site, usually with one or more children in tow.  The last time I did my laundry, I noticed a mamacita, maybe 5’4” on her tippy-toes, who was folding clothes with one hand and holding her kid in the other.  I know I’m weird, but to me that’s sexier than Paris Hilton with a garden hose.

Today was unusual in the sense that the young Latina in question, who couldn’t have been a day over 20,  was accompanied by her equally youthful husband.  It’s a horrible statement of maleness that very rarely do you ever see the man helping the woman at the laundromat, but there he was, minding the kid as she minded the clothes.  Maybe he wanted to keep an eye on her; she was unusually beautiful.  (There were sonnets waiting to be written in her eyes.)  But I think something else was at work:  He was stepping up to the plate, being responsible not only for himself but his family.  Good man, Papi.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Deadwood

Tomorrow the second season of Deadwood comes to DVD, just in time to get caught up for the new season, which starts on June 11.  I really really really REALLY like this show.  Part of the reason is that it’s raw and coarse, but also oddly poetic.  The performances, all around, are excellent.  The writing some of the best on television.

And the trailer for the new season is absolutely brilliant.  The only narration is the beatitudes, straight out of the good book itself.  Each character gets a line and each line is perfectly suited to the character.  I’m telling you, it’s dead on.  Trixe the whore gets “poor in spirit,” Doc Cochran gets “merciful,” the widow Garret gets “those who mourn,” Sol the Jew gets “persecuted for righteousness,” Bullock gets “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,” and of course, Al Swearengen, my favorite character of the series, gets “pure in heart.”  Pure motherfucking evil!  (Although I have to say, I don’t see Cy Tolliver as a peacemaker, but maybe that’s a hint of things to come in season 3.)

I have to say though, I was somewhat disappointed in season 2.  And it’s not because it was bad, per se, I just didn’t like some of the things that happened.  Al was down and out early in the season when he contracted kidney stones, and when he recovered he came back different, more unhinged and mistrustful, confiding only in the decapitated Indian head he kept in a box by his side.  WTF is that?

Then the romance between Bullock and the widow Garrett fizzled out, just in time for his real wife (actually his brother’s widow…don’t ask) to arrive in the camp.  So much for romance.  Instead, it was all awkwardness and hurt feelings.  Then the widow married Ellsworth, a decent enough man, but it wasn’t exactly a love match.

And you know, bringing back the actor who played Jack McCall in the first season to play Wolcott was, well, good for that actor, but it didn’t sit too well.  I hated the Wolcott character as much as the McCall character, so I guess the guy gets a pat on the back, but let’s just say we better not see him in season 3.  If we do, my love for Deadwood might just burn away like a fog in the first light of morning.

Denver Photoblogging


Earlier this morning I pled guilty to two charges, driving without a license and no proof of insurance. The DA, kind as he was, dropped the expired plates charge. He said it would take 10 points off my license, but the judge only took off 7. It doesn't matter anyway because the offense was four years ago, which basically means the DMV can't hold it against me now.

I have to say though, the City has gotten their shit together. Last time I went to traffic court (years ago) it was an inefficient mess. The Spanish speakers went first to free up the translator. There was no DA there to put together the case so the judge could go through the motions. The judge did all that, and it took time. They also used to make you sit through this cheesy video advising you of your rights.

Now they put all that in writing, added a table full of DAs, and a bi-lingual clerk. The judge was awesome, and I don't think I've ever said that about any judge in my life. (Except for the judge in the federal case I juried a couple years ago; he was pretty awesome, too.) A young guy, probably not ten years older than me, very personable and professional. When he asked me why it took me so long (4 years!) to address it, I just said, "No comment."

No need to defend the indefensible, right, Newt?

Afterwards, I walked through Civic Center Park, which can be a weird place when it's not full of people. There were a few people sleeping on the lawn, and a few more hanging out on the benches, all of them with that too-tan-for-May look. Here's a pic of an Indian statue near the Greek amphitheatre. I took a pic of the cowboy statue across the way to provide conthrast, but it didn't come out.

Construction crews prevented a money shot of the amphitheatre itself, but I did catch these poorly aged murals on the side of it. Someone should really think about replacing them. This is what I say, on one side: John Elway. On the other: Joe Sakic, Patrick Roy, and Peter Forsberg.



Also looked like they were doing some work at the Bank building. You couldn't pay me enough to dangle outside one of those tall buildings. No way.


Here's a pic of the Denver Art Museum, a uniquely shaped building in its own right that is currently undergoing a huge renovation, complete with a wierd spiky addition designed by Daniel Libeskind.

And finally, a pic of the Capitol building. The phallic symbol in the foreground is a monument of some kind, but I forget what it symbolizes.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Why I Don't Karaoke

Since I've been in "Deep Thoughts" mode, offering opinions on the publishing industry, the FCC being in the pocket of a few vocal critics, and my own sorry childhood, I thought I'd lighten things up by making an ass of myself.

(Double click the image below to play the video)



The song, if you must know, is Red Colony by Sixty Watt Shaman. If you want to hear the unmolested version, click here. (Also, if the video didn't work, you can download it here. Broadband recommended. It's almost 7mb.)

Beast of Burden

I think I’m starting to understand why I’m single.  There are a lot of factors, but I think the biggest one is fear.  After being hurt by so many selfish women with no character, I’m afraid of getting hurt again.  I’m afraid of getting turned down.  I’m afraid of being blown off.  But mostly I’m afraid of becoming my Dad.

A little history:  My Mom and Dad split when I was in kindergarten.  Not too long after, my Dad remarried, giving me my step mom and two step brothers.  I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time, but I can’t say I liked it very much.  It soon became apparent that in Dad’s hierarchy, his new wife and step kids came first.  Now that hurt…

When my parents were together, Dad always told me he loved me.  But after the divorce and his remarriage, he stopped saying it.  I remember one time, I must have been 6 or 7, I got in trouble for something and after one of those parental lectures, he told me “I love you,” just like he used to.  For some reason, those three words made me burst into tears.  When Dad asked why I was crying, I told him it was because I hadn’t heard that from him in a long time.  But now that I think about it with fresh tears in my eyes, it occurs to me that it’s quite possible that I wept because I didn’t believe him.

I didn’t believe him because I felt like he didn’t love me anymore.  I felt like he loved his wife and his “new” kids more, and maybe he resented me as an omnipresent reminder of my mother.  Whether that was true or not didn’t seem to matter to my younger self.  All I knew is that I felt unloved and betrayed.

And I wish I could say those two things didn’t become the main themes of my childhood, but they did.  I felt unloved every day I lived in his house, which mercifully ended when I was 13.  I felt betrayed by both my father and my brother as they swore their loyalties to my step-family instead of me, their own flesh and blood.

It’s been over twenty years since my Dad remarried, so these feelings aren’t exactly new, but sadly they haven’t lessened over time, either.  If anything, they’ve become more entrenched.  (The more things change…huh)

To understand why, you have to understand a little bit about my step mom.  She was blessed (cursed?) with a strong personality, and I mean that in a euphemistic way.  You could say she’s a selfish bitch, and while that’s pretty crude, it’s also not too far from the truth.  Growing up in Dad’s house, there was only one opinion that mattered:  hers.  If she wasn’t happy, no one was.

And my Dad, being the dutiful husband, bends over backwards (to this day!) to make sure she’s happy.  That in itself isn’t a bad thing.  A man should endeavor to please his wife.  But there is a point where an attentive husband becomes an enabler, and that point was passed a long time ago.

See, my Step Mom has a weight problem.  Again, with the euphemisms…alright, let’s just call a duck a duck:  she’s morbidly obese.  I don’t know her exact weight, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s twice as much as me (and I weigh 220!).  She can’t walk very well anymore, and when she’s not being pushed around in a wheel chair by my Dad, she spends most of her time in bed.  She rationalizes this by claiming an addiction to food, an idea probably inspired by a bunch of Richard Simmons psychobabble.  You know, the whole “feeding your emotions” crap.

Sorry, but that’s bullshit.  I have no doubt that many overweight people eat to comfort themselves in times of emotional trials, but does that mean that food really provides a comfort?  Or do they just think that the answer to all their problems is a candy bar?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for my step mom.  She’s not overweight because she’s addicted to food.  She’s overweight because she consumes too much of an unhealthy diet (probably in an effort to exploit the magical psychological properties of saturated fats), and, to top it off, she leads a sedentary lifestyle where her every need is provided for.

I’m sorry…but when you’re so overweight you can’t walk, the message shouldn’t be: Get a wheelchair so your dutiful husband can push you around.  It should be:  Get off your ass and do something about it.  

My Mom, my real mom, also has a weight problem, but she doesn’t justify it with a bunch of excuses.  She just likes to eat, not to fill any emotional holes, but because of the simple joys of food.  The difference here, though, is that once her doctor said the word “pre-diabetic,” my Mom immediately got a kit to test her blood, started keeping meticulous records about what and how much she ate, got involved in an exercise program, and amazingly enough, she’s lost weight.  She saw the signs and did something about it.  She took control of her life and changed her lifestyle.

My step mom will never do that.  I’m convinced that she’s going to lay in bed saying “woe is me” until she dies of cardiac arrest.  To her, her emotional needs are too great to overcome her “addiction” to food.  And she has one thing that my Mom doesn’t anymore:  My Dad.

A long time ago, I caught a few minutes of a Dr. Phil show.  It was about people who were concerned about their parent’s weight problem, and Dr. Phil said one thing to this woman that he could have said to my step mom.  “I bet you’re really good at getting people to bring you food, aren’t you?” he said.

After all, if she was stuck in bed, how else was she going to be fed?  Someone has to bring her the candy bars and ice cream, someone has to be the enabler.  And that’s my Dad.  His policy seems to be “Whatever you want, dear,” which is why he pushes her around in her wheelchair and brings her food.  It’s also why “to be at his wife’s side” means that he, too, must live in his bedroom.

And this, after all that rambling, is one of the reasons why I’m afraid of being like my Dad.  I don’t want a woman who is going to be like a dead weight around my neck, so consumed with her own selfish needs that they override all others.  I don’t want to sacrifice my dreams or my life to satisfy the whims of someone who has no dreams and no life.  I want to live and dream, dammit, and if I must do it alone, then so be it.  

One thing’s for sure:  I’ll never be my Dad.  I will never accept a life of henpecked servitude.

Laugh at the Lieberman-Lamont Logrolling

Ned Lamont, Ned Lamont, Ned Lamont. Why do liberal bloggers gives a shit about Ned Lamont? That part’s easy: They don’t like Joe Lieberman, a “fake” Democrat they believe is a tool of the Bush Administration. Naturally they want to replace Lieberman, preferably with a liberal lapdog rather than a faux-conservative one. Yeah, okay, whatever.

Living in Colorado (one of the 49 states not called Connecticut), it’s hard for me to care. I have no vote in the matter, nor should I. I don’t live in CT! More than that, I think we need more Democrats in office…even conservative hawk ones! I know, I know, it’s revolutionary for me to expect that kind of diversity in a political party, but that’s how I feel. The last thing I think the Democrats need to do is become more like the Republicans, crushing dissent with organized smear campaigns (like the ones leveled at Lieberman now) and expecting ideological loyalty over principles.

Say what you want about Joe Lieberman, but he has principles. His positions aren’t the “party line,” and though I disagree with many of them, I admire his authenticity. How many Democrats supported the war before they were against it? Way too many, but Lieberman isn’t one of them. There’s something to be said about that. (Of course, I believe Lieberman is wrong on the war, but that’s beside the point. I think the clowns who voted for it and then regretted their vote are just as wrong. Where were you then? Hell, where were your principles? Do you shift so easily in the wind?)

As for the liberal blogosphere (who came up with that ridiculous name anyway?), let’s just hope they get over their Lamont fixation soon. There are 49 other states with just as important races, and don’t forget, liberal pundits, there are actual Republicans to go after. And the best part about that is that you can go after many Republican congressmen, like Duke Cunningham and Tom Delay, among others, without even mentioning their politics! Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, man.