Not-So-Random Thoughts for Monday, November 20th, 2006…

So I go and visit my sister twice last week. (It was twice because neither her nor my mom were home the first time.) I didn’t bother to ask her when, but she had her Christmas decorations – sans Christmas tree – up outside her house. (The second time, it was dark enough to see it lit.) Now, why she did this I have no clue, and I’m not going to pretend to. She got got an earful from me, and while I know it had the same effect as talking to a wall with a mouth and no ears, I will still say it for everyone to hear: I hate seeing the decorations, the ads, the reminders of Christmas, put up before Thanksgiving. I can understand a few situations, life being what it is now, but my sister is not in one of those situations.

Anyways, I know you didn’t come here to hear me complain about Christmas, so…

Could I Get Some Silence With My Beer?

Saturday could have been a super-cool day. Instead, it was a strong reminder of things I have been feeling for a long time.

First was the visit to my sister’s house. I already wrote about that both earlier and in a posting only on my MySpace page. (It will be made available when more info is available.) So, after sitting and talking to My mom and Sis, and watching their TV, for 2 and a half hours, I went to Rascals, where my friends in Puzzled Monkey were playing. (My compliments to the bar owners: other than the unnecessary fence they put to separate the Bar from the Community Center next to it, the redesign of the bar – which was themed after The Little Rascals – Gives it a cooler look, more breathing room, and new life to the bar formerly known as The Finish Line.) I had hopes of running into my friends and having a good time.

And that was the problem: Other than the band, the only friends I had there were 3 other coworkers. Granted, I wasn’t expecting many to show up, due to the fact that it was an early show and a benefit for someone, but I expected more than 3 people that I know to be there. Needless to say, for most of it, I felt like I normally do when I am alone in a bar, and while I don’t blame the bar, I think it was a message telling me, “Bars just ain’t for you.”

I have many reasons why I hate Bars, none of them, being the bar’s fault itself. There are many places I find look and are really cool, when they’re near empty, and the worst I could say when they’re empty is tat the music is too loud. But you throw people in, as you often do in the most popular of bars, and it becomes the worst spot for me to be. Loud, obnoxious drunks often remind me of certain events in my past where I am expecting fists to fly, and when they don’t don’t remind me of that, they annoy the hell out of me. When there are a lot of people in a bar, it’s very difficult, at my size, to move much, and people love to get in my way during the most annoying of times. This, of course, could be alleviated by not bringing my backpack, BUT even without the backpack the sheer number of people getting in my way and being there would leave me uncomfortable and smashed in.

If I didn’t have any friends there at all, I would have left much sooner, and made sure to never return: I know that what I feel is different from everyone else that goes to bars, and I don’t hold it against them if they do and enjoy it. Bars are the most common of places to meet people and have fun, and to me, getting drunk just ain’t my idea of having fun. But, because I had hoped to run into some friends I hadn’t seen in a few weeks, I held out as long as I could, and I stayed because I had friends there, and they tried to make it fun. I probably would have had fun, too, had I not been a wallflower.

It brings me to my next complaint, though: Don’t EVER lose your drivers license, for any reason. Had I never lost my license, I would not have had the problem I have with the ways I get around town. First, the bus trip to my sisters would not have been a problem had the driver listened to me – or knew – that the bus I was trying to catch was indeed running. Because he didn’t, I had to run to catch the bus I was connecting with, something that left me winded enough to not say anything until the second bus got back on North Second Street. In spite of the fact that I understood it was an honest mistake, it was just another reminder of why I hate the public transportation in Rockford.

Then, while at Rascals, the second reminder of why I need my license: Taxis. The company I usually call is the only one I feel I can trust: When they have troublemakers as drivers, they usually weed them out before the customer gets affected, and the worst that could be said related to the company is that they’re very popular, which makes it difficult to catch them all of the time. It is half the equation that feeds into the problem, though: They never come when you want them to. Usually, it’s either one way or the other: They’re either too early or way late, and usually the earlier you call, the more likely it will be early. Since I had called almost as soon as I got there, it was easy to expect what had happened: the Taxi got there too early. Even though it’s not been a problem with this company, there are a lot of companies in Rockford that will not wait, even though they do have the time to. Hence, I don’t take the chance when I don’t know the driver, and I leave when they get there, regardless of who it is, so that they don’t feel it was a wasted trip.

So I left before the band got back to playing, which sucks. It was bad enough that the DJ that was hired interrupted the show more often than he should have (I felt like picking dude up when he decided to be a door and stand in front of me when they had started playing – I definitely did not like that DJ), and bad when they didn’t start until 8:30 (I was told 8-10, and that was what I followed), but leaving when I did was a good thing, due to the few amount of friends I had there.

After I left, I went and did my normal Saturday-Night-Out routine: go to see a movie (more on that in a few minutes), and head up to Denny’s to see even less of the friends I go to see. The typical part of my Saturdays are almost the same: because most of my friends game or are busy with other things Saturday night, I rarely see anyone I know there then, and often have to go Friday night to see most of them. And, in atypical fashion, only one friend showed up, other then the ones that work there. (He was unaware of what the others were up to, and completely bored, I think.)

I don’t hold my problems against anyone else: It’s not the Bars fault that they were packed, or the bands fault that so few of my friends showed. It’s not their fault that I am easily uncomfortable in packed spaces now, or that I have to take whatever ride I can get because I was irresponsible when I could have done something about it. It’s not their fault that I am bigger or wider than most people. It’s not even my friends fault for having lives: most of the time, I expect to be alone, and that’s why I bring a bag of stuff to do while I kill the time waiting for my next ride. Indeed, all of my problems were caused by myself, and I don’t hold it against anyone other than myself.

If there’s one thing I am complaining about, though, it’s that I am kinda sick of my usual routine, of going places and running into no one most of the time. Most of my fun times come when I am hanging out with friends and people I know, and when I go and do stuff where I see no one, hang out with no one, it’s difficult to have fun and to not feel alone or depressed or moody because of it. Indeed, if I was a drinker, I’d be needing AA now because I would be drunk more often than I should. (I’d probably need people to bail me out of jail, too, because I know I’m not a happy drunk: I get too depressed easily when I drink, which is why I don’t drink that often.)

It’s a reminder of the path I need to get back on, and the things I need to accomplish this year. It sucks, but it is needed.

“It’s too damn hot for a penguin to be just walkin’ around. I gotta send you back to the South Pole.”

Just because I just finished complaining about the negatives of last night doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun. It had been a few weeks – in fact, it had been since before I got laid off – that I had seen my sister or any of the people I saw at the show last night, and I did have a good time with them. It was also cool to see the friends I saw at Denny’s, and was funny when one of my friend’s’ husband tried busting her out. (He has not problem with me, other than being the weight I am, because he feels that it is wrecking the car she drives. Hi, Steve!) It was even cool to see Corey last night, since I don’t see him much.

The second-best thing about last night, though, was the movie I saw, hence the bad Adam Sandler reference. If you go and see any films this weekend, and you like music, humor, and animals, go see Happy Feet, because you will definitely enjoy it. It is a mostly-CG film, with the voices of many people who have done a lot of cool films I like, including Elijah Wood (Frodo from The Lord Of The Rings), Hugo Weaving (also from LOTR, but more known as Agent Smith from The Matrix films), Hugh Jackman (Wolverine from the X-Men trilogy, of course, but also from The Prestige, which I also liked), Nicole Kidman (Of Moulin Rouge!, though the last film I had seen her in was Eyes Wide Shut), and Robin Williams (Last film I had seen him in was Good Will Hunting, though he’s been in a lot of films I have liked) as two voices in the film. (It is worth noting, as well, that Steve Irwin, aka The Crocodile Hunter – yes, the one who died most recently – also had a voice in the film, though I didn’t know it until after seeing the film being dedicated to him and his voice in the credits.)

The film is very much a musical, like what I’d picture Moulin Rouge! to be: although the story itself is very tribal in how it’s told – you can actually imagine the penguin Lovelace (voiced by Williams) as the tribal leader of these groups of penguins – much of the movie is about song and dance, and as a result, a lot of songs were used for the film. Yes, you’re going to hear some of the pop stuff you hear on radio today, but it’s mixed in very well with a lot of older songs, including Kiss (Prince) mashed up with Heartbreak Hotel (Elvis), The Joker (Steve Miller Band) mashed up with Everything I Own (Bread), Boogiee Wonderland (Earth, Wind & Fire with The Emotions), and SomeBody to Love (Queen, in one of the best covers of the song since George Micheal performed it with the original band back when he did The Freddy Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992.) Elijah wood is the Main character Mumble, a penguin born into a tribe whose mating season is done with singing but who can not sing himself. Instead, he is born with the ability to dance.

The first half of his story is spent with him trying to fit in and be like the rest of the penguins, trying to learn how to sing when he clearly sucks at it. Likewise, the tribe doesn’t like his dancing, calling it “unpenguin-like” and blaming it for the fish shortage they were expecting the last few years. Due to some of mumbles run-ins, he comes to believe that “aliens” (their term for humans) are stealing their fish, and sets out to try to stop it. His adventures include meeting Ramon, a spanish-like shorty penguin played with much fervor by Williams, Almost becoming food twice, and chasing after a fishing boat, which proves to his friends and him that the aliens were indeed stealing the fish.

The animation is on par with Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within in terms of how realistic it looks, and the film will make you wish and believe the penguins at the zoo Could dance like that. (The realism throughout the film also makes it hard to believe that they shot live-action and mixed it in the way they did – shockig and a big disappointment, considering how well it blends together.) It’s also on par with many of Pixar’s films, in terms of characters and storytelling. The first third of the film is kinda dry in terms of humor, mainly as it tells the story of Mumble growing up. Once he meets Ramon and his friends, the humor picks up, and Williams literally steals the show.

The only real knock I will put against it is the political and enviromental themes put into the story: although it is a necessary element to provide a true villian – humans – for the penguins to fight against, and although it fits into the story very well, I feel it’s still a little too heavy-handed for younger kids who may not understand that. The ending also was too brief, as you will probably wish to see more of the spectacle and awe that was throughout the film. Still, it’s a great film to take kids to see, and I see no reason – other than the usual “Cartoons are for kids!” argument I consistently hear when an animated film is talked about – for adults not to enjoy it. If you’re looking for something to do thanksgiving night or after you get done shopping, go see this film. Trust me: you’ll be smiling.

The Improved Friends List

Those who are on MySpace know I have recently made it possible for almost everyone in my list to be shown on my main profile page. They also know I have been working to improve this list. For the most part, I think you will like what I have in mind when the next changes to these lists happen later this week. In the mean time, if you’re on my Friends list, if you want me to change either the display name or the picture, let me know. I’d personally prefer closeups on the face, but if I don’t hear from you, I’ll go with the defaults.

In the mean time, I’d like to know if anyone has suggestions on good books on developing in Flash. I’d like to improve the flash-based MP3 player on my page, as well as make the friends list Flash based so it won’t occupy as much of the window. Any suggestions welcome.

If you don’t see me on here again, Happy Thanksgiving!

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