Saturday, February 28, 2009

Post Apocalyptic Gender Issues

I received my copy of Caitlin R. Kiernan's short story collection, A is for Alien, in the mail yesterday. I bought it quite some time ago--I'm not sure why it took so long to get to me. Not that it matters, since it'll be a very long time before I have a chance to read it, but it's a nice looking book. I see there's an afterword by Elizabeth Bear, which I'm sure is filled with insight.

I put coffee in my oatmeal this morning. I've been eating plain oatmeal for breakfast for several years now, and every now and then I reflexively try to spice it up. I ought to've known coffee wouldn't have much impact since I drink coffee with breakfast anyway.

I've finally gotten the chance to play a bit of Fallout 3 at Tim's house, and I'm enjoying it so far, though it's still not as fun as Fallout 2. But its speech skill and dialogue so far are enormously better than I'd hoped--instead of Oblivion's ridiculous and tedious colour wheel, Fallout 3 has different dialogue options for charming or provoking characters.

Oblivion and Fallout 3 are both made by Bethesda, so there are a lot of similarities, including the game engine. Oblivion looked better than Fallout 3, mainly because it took place in a fantasy world filled with forests, meadows, and grasslands while Fallout 3 takes place in the blasted landscape of post-apocalyptic Washington D.C. But both games feature extremely large and detailed three dimensional lands to explore.

Unfortunately, with Oblivion's game engine comes all the problems Oblivion seemed to have on the computer I use at Tim's house once the weather starts to get warmer; random restarts of the entire system that corrupt saved games in extreme and often hilarious ways--I'd load up games and NPCs would be missing random articles of clothing, doors would be missing, day would turn to night, my character would be invisible, and some people would start falling through the ground. This was particularly funny early in the game when guards escorting the emperor voiced by Patrick Stewart are engaged in a battle with some assassins. Sometimes, the whole melee would drop through the floor into a grey void where everyone would start swimming around, still trying to kill each other.

In Fallout 3 last night, my female Asian character turned into an African American man in his underwear in a completely different location. He also didn't appear to have a name. This could have presented some interesting gaming opportunities in itself, but who knows what else was missing.

The game also has Oblivion's somewhat unrealistically proportioned violence, as in my next attempt to play the game, I was a small blond woman in a leather jacket who went around beating to death cops in riot gear who were firing pistols at her at point blank range. My character was wearing nothing more protective than a cool, 1950s style, leather jacket and wielding nothing but a baseball bat or sometimes just her fists. Which is a lot of fun, especially since, like in Fallout 2, you're able to cripple specific parts of your foe's body.

Sometimes you wish life worked that way, as you might if you watch this sickening video of cops beating up a fifteen year old girl in Washington. Careful watching that video, it'll make you sick. There's no ambiguity about it--the girl kicks her shoe off towards the cop, and he responds by punching her in the face before he and his cohort throw her to the ground.

This cop's defence?

Schene told investigators through an e-mail conversation with his lawyer that once he was assaulted by the girl kicking her shoe at him, he entered the cell to "prevent another assault," according to court documents. Schene also said that the girl failed to comply with instructions in the holding area.

What a fucking scumbag. And who knows how much of this behaviour isn't caught on video. I remember a girl from Seattle several years ago telling me about even worse treatment she'd received from police, and of course they'd told her she wouldn't be able to report them and expect to be believed. Gives you the feeling this is institutionalised brutality, guys making each other feel better about being inhuman.

I watched the seventeenth episode of Battlestar Galactica's third season last night, which I mostly liked. Again, focusing on Starbuck's personality is the show at its best, and it was nice to have a scene between her and Apollo that didn't make me cringe. If I were in charge of that show, those two would've never even considered having a relationship or having sex with each other. I hate the notion that this is the inevitable course of events between men and women who happen to be close. But I guess most people keep their brains between their legs, as Morrissey said.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Impediments to World Domination

I had a pretty long and involved dream last night wherein, driving in the evening, I spotted a nice looking young woman and offered her a ride. She got in the car, and we flirted, but she never seemed to be particularly interested in me, the conversation, or her surroundings. We stopped at my friend Tim's place, where she walked away to talk to his sister--apparently they knew each other, and neither seemed very surprised by how she'd gotten there.

Tim was doing something in another room, so I was just kind of hanging around his house when I saw a massive raccoon in the backyard--it was just slightly smaller than one of the gargoyle dogs in Ghostbusters and its fur was very dirty and big patches of it were missing, revealing pale, beige flesh underneath.

Raccoons seem to be taking on a monstrous quality for me lately--first there was The Montauk Monster, which many people have speculated is a raccoon. Then I heard a story on The Howard Stern Show about a drunk guy in Russia who tried to fuck a raccoon only to have his genitals torn off by the little animal--I can't say I blame the creature. I've always heard raccoons can actually be pretty dangerous beasts and that they have very sharp teeth and bad tempers.

I saw a couple of raccoons outside the house a couple weeks ago stealing into a sewer drain, so maybe that's why I was thinking of them, too. Anyway, in the dream, the raccoon got inside Tim's house somehow, and I started taking pictures of it as it waddled about. I was trying to avoid it, and it seemed it might be trying to get at me while inspecting everything it walked past, in the way animals do. But I tried to carefully plot photos. Somehow one picture ended up with two children standing behind the raccoon; an alien child in a cartoonish space suit and a human child in fuzzy grey mouse pyjamas.

I had a flask of Johnnie Walker with me--which is odd, because I don't particularly like Johnnie Walker, but maybe that explains I wasn't as afraid as I ought to've been. I remember trying to find one of Tim's Japanese swords to fend it off, and I think there was a fight. I remember at one point the raccoon had me pinned to the ground but I managed to use one of the swords, sheathed, to shove it off me. I woke up before the battle was resolved, but I seem to remember Tim thought I was more afraid of the raccoon than I ought to have been.

Maybe it's Bears I need to worry about--I seem to have gotten myself banned from another live journal, this time that of author Elizabeth Bear. Here's the conversation that did it.

I don't mind being banned in this case. Halfway through the discussion, I'd decided to avoid Bear's journal from then on, but people kept replying to me, and I just can't resist getting the last word. I avoided mentioning the conversation yesterday because I thought a lot of people talking to me would be embarrassed by their comments once they cooled down, but I don't think that's in the cards. I've seen people rally around the nucleus of a clique before with ludicrous arguments, but this was nothing sort of astonishing. What began as a pretty innocuous conversation between me and Bear wherein I asked her about the feminist literary critical term "male gaze" rapidly devolved into people discussing my poor etiquette for not googling it and even accusing me of deep-seated, sexist arrogance for not googling the term. I found it nearly impossible to take the conversation seriously, especially as the people I was talking to took it more and more seriously. I made a joke about putting a saddle on Bear and striking her with a riding crop whenever I wanted a definition for a word, which I ought to have known would have sent these people into fits, but I was being too much of a goon at that point. One guy (or gal) actually accused me of treating people like beasts of burden. I've rarely come across such an irony challenged group of people. I referred to myself as "the secret world king" at one point, and I'm pretty sure people thought I was serious.

I so don't mind being banned from that journal. I only read it occasionally, and Bear seemed to have a lot of pent up resentment for me I didn't quite understand--probably having something to do with a conversation we'd had wherein I'd thought people were perhaps being a little too bloodthirsty about the incident where Harlan Ellison grabbed Connie Willis' breast. I guess it was probably pretty lazy of me to even continue reading the journal, especially after I wasn't tremendously impressed by her work and she'd been a dick to my friend Moira. I guess I had some vague idea of making inroads in the modern society of fantasy literature. So much for that plan.

I watched the seventeenth episode of Battlestar Galactica, which was a pretty sad specimen of allegory. Just about every character had a completely new identity for the episode--Adama became a thoughtless tyrant, Baltar became a hero to the working man--even for guys who'd gone on strike against his government on New Caprica--and Roslin became a completely delusional monarch. Well, I guess it wasn't a big switch for her--the change was just in that the writers they decided they agreed with me for a moment. I don't think they realise how eerie it is that that woman can not stop smiling, no matter what happens. People being forced into hard labour? Spilled milk. Unchecked injury and violence? Something distant and inevitable.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hi How are You I'm the President Are You That's Good Well It was Nice Meeting You

Oh, I forgot to mention how particularly bad Laura Roslin was in that last Battlestar Galactica I watched (the fifteenth episode of the third season). This time it was more the actress's fault than anyone else's--Mary McDonnell has this thing where apparently she uses white-out on all the periods in her script because she runs all her sentences together. It comes off as some sort of bad Christopher Walken impression spliced with William Shatner at the best of times.

In the last episode I watched, she had a line that was something like, "It would've been hard because of the terrain. At Baltar's ground-breaking ceremony . . ." And it was like she was reading off cue cards because she stopped at "ground" like she clearly thought it was a sentence about some ground Baltar possessed. She's just all kinds of annoying.

It smells like something's burning around here--I dusted because I thought that might be it, but I went outside and smelled it too . . . I hadn't dusted in weeks, so maybe the dust was just in my nostrils.

Shade in the Forest

My current liquor selection;

Anything stand out? Yes, gin was on sale at BevMo a couple days ago. I got those 1.75 litres of Bombay Sapphire for thirty dollars. But I had the tequila last night--I hadn't been in the mood for tequila in a long time and I was surprised to find myself thoroughly enjoying it.

I see Cate Blanchett's been cast as Maid Marian in Ridley Scott's Robin Hood. Certainly a vast improvement over the last several Marians we've seen. Certainly better than the one on the 2006 BBC 1 series, though the fault there may simply have been that it was a thoroughly lousy show. I wonder if Ridley Scott's still planning to make Robin the villain in this new movie. It'd be kind of cool if Blanchett were the protagonist.

How would that work? Maybe she's manipulating the political situation while King Richard's away. I'm not sure how a villainous Robin Hood fits into that, but, if nothing else, it'll be a nice looking film.

Really tired to-day. I thought I might try getting up earlier to-day, but as often happens when I get such a notion, I had a lot of trouble getting to sleep. I woke up after five hours and had a sort of weird half sleep for three hours, where my thoughts wouldn't quite dip far enough down into the abstract for me to lose consciousness. I think I can draw okay, though . . .

I watched the fifteenth episode of Battlestar Galactica's third season last night. At first I wasn't very enthusiastic about Adama imagining his wife there talking to him, but it won me over with the discussion of whether the love they had for each other was real. You never find out, and you realise Adama has to live with this uncertainty the rest of his life. It helps, too, that Edward James Olmos is so unrelentingly morose.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Space on the Ground

I had to go to La Jolla for groceries to-day, so I took a picture of San Diego's Mormon Palace while I was there;

Yes, one of the most prominent groups responsible for denying gay people the right to marry in California has a gleaming, opulent white fantasy fortress in the city. It's even bigger than it might look from the photo--there's a freeway in a ravine between the parking lot and the palace.

Here's a close-up on the little gold man on the right spire;

Tim and I have talked at length for years about what we'd do with the place if we ever became impossibly rich enough to purchase it. We've had ideas ranging from the simple banality of turning it into an office building or a haunted house for Halloween to making it our imposing and terrifying headquarters--we'd paint it black, of course. How different is it really from Barad-dur and Orthanc?

Apart from the expense of building and maintaining the place, the location itself probably cost a bundle--La Jolla is one of the most expensive places to live in San Diego--described by Wikipedia as "a wealthy seaside resort community". Isn't it nice knowing a religious group bent on eroding civil liberties is also phenomenally wealthy? Apparently there are lots of these places.

I watched the fourteenth episode of Battlestar Galactica's third season last night, which began with Helo welcoming aboard the continuing influx of refugees from, apparently, out of nowhere. Doesn't anyone wonder where these people are coming from? Not exactly a terrible episode, though it featured Adama behaving out of character again, courtesy this time of the show's many, many examples of dialogue added in post to over-explain things--this time it was Adama saying to Helo something like, "Do your job and don't make unfounded accusations". The scene worked better without it, as it wouldn't have been clear that Adama considered Helo's accusations about Dr. Robert (take a drink from his special cup) without merit, playing his feelings smarter and closer to his chest. The looped dialogue turned him into a silly little man.

If this is the first time you've read about looped dialogue, you can spot it often in Battlestar Galactica when the speaker's not facing the camera, his or her voice seems to take on a higher pitch for a moment, and he or she says something unrealistically straightforward for the benefit of a theoretically pea-brained audience.

It was nice seeing Colonel Tigh admit he was wrong at the end, though. Poor guy. He's always saddled with the wrong decisions, no matter what. He hated Laura Roslin, yet he had to help her fix the election because it was The Wrong Decision. He doesn't even have the right accent anymore.

St. Sisyphus mentioned to me how the writers seem to want to arbitrarily write characters as good or bad, depending on what modern event they want to enslave their narrative to. I replied;

They seem to do that a lot throughout the series. It's one of the reasons Baltar had tended to be the best character--he was set up to be someone morally ambiguous, so he's the only one who gets to make decisions based on what makes sense for his character rather than on whether or not the writers are currently considering him good or bad. The only consolation now is that, at least, if temporarily, they consider Roslin as stupid as I always do.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tumbleweed Army

I decided to go out for breakfast yesterday, so I drove downtown and had some huevos rancheros at Pokez--they turned out to be a mess of egg yoke, cheese, and refried beans. But they were good, and, as usual for Pokez, far cheaper than it seemed they ought to be.

At Pokez and Starbucks downtown, I worked a bit more on the script for Chapter 20, then came back here, typed and edited it, and came up with the layouts. I finished at around 10pm and felt more annoyed that I wasn't further ahead. I tried to tell myself that if this were Boschen and Nesuko, this would be at least three days ahead of schedule. I miss the days of being a chapter ahead on Venia's Travels. On the other hand, all the artwork seems to be better now. Maybe I'm less complacent? Or maybe it's just because I've settled into the process? I remember stressing out on the first panel of Chapter 1, knowing it would forever be the first impression of people just starting to read the comic. I spent an entire day colouring and recolouring that one panel, yet it's far from the best in the comic so far. Who knows how these things work.

Here's a silly article by someone pretending to think The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus might actually not be distributed in the U.S. I also have to smile at the irony in this line; "Gilliam has grown more experimental in recent years, with such fare as 'Tideland' and 'The Brothers Grimm.'"

The Brothers Grimm, Gilliam's attempt to make a mainstream fantasy film, is considered experimental by this clueless jerkoff. Yet it is the pool of clueless jerkoffs, surely, that in the end anoint films as experimental or mainstream. A doctor's check-up at a hospital may be better for you, but most people prefer to be hit by a ton of bricks, bricks lovingly stacked by articles like this.

Did you enjoy my meandering little metaphor parade? I hope so. Anyway . . .

While eating breakfast this morning, I watched Jon Stewart's interview from last night with Jeff Bezos of about the Kindle, the amazing 359 dollar eyesore e-book cosy. I'm glad Stewart didn't hold back from goofing on it--I think this thing is destined to be the Segway of the literary world.

I watched the thirteenth episode of Battlestar Galactica's third season last night, "Taking a Break from All Your Worries", a Cheers reference apparently for the bar in the episode located in one of the Galactica's landing bays, which was apparently constructed and opened all without the chief deck officer's knowledge. Yes, this was a particularly lousy episode, cutting between Adama and Roslin's extraordinarily inept interrogation of Baltar (they didn't pause to even once consider the Cylons didn't tell him anything important), and a nauseating adolescent soap opera involving Apollo, Starbuck, and their spouses. It's a good thing episodes like this are rare. By the end of it, I was longing for the cheesy brotherly camaraderie of the 1978 Apollo and Starbuck.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Meat for Thought

The book that has been by far the most useful resource when working on my comic lately is Life in a Medieval Village by Francis and Joseph Gies. No attempts to be friendly, no "You've probably heard X and Y and Z about the Middle Ages, but you're stupid, because actually L." It's surprising how oddly defensive a lot of these books are, maybe because a lot of them seem to be disagreeing on several minor points. But this one's been the best--just the facts, and lots of them. I was rereading a bit to-day and enjoyed this;

Medieval literature voiced the popular hunger for protein and fat. A twelfth-century Irish poet [Annear MacConglinne] describes a dream in which a coracle "built of lard/ Swam a sweet milk sea," and out of a lake rose a castle reached by a bridge of butter and surrounded by a palisade of bacon, with doorposts of whey curds, columns of aged cheese, and pillars of pork. Across a moat of spicy broth covered with fat, guards welcomed the dreamer to the castle with coils of fat sausages.

Numbed to Survive

Mr. Luhrmann? Yeah, I've got Vegas on the phone. They want you and Hugh Jackman to open for Tom Jones.

I told you Jackman would sing, didn't I? Even I didn't think he'd be that bad, though. I guess I was glad to see Wall-E and Heath Ledger win, but the whole thing felt so low rent, it felt almost irrelevant. It was like a PBS telethon. I guess it was appropriate Jerry Lewis was there.

I couldn't even finish watching. I went to Tim's and played Fallout 3 for a while, though not for very long because I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before. I came back here and watched Late Chrysanthemums (Bangiku), a Mikio Naruse movie from 1954 starring Haruko Sugimura.

Sugimura seems to have been adept at either conveying deep wisdom with minimal expressions and gestures or a bitter, conniving personality. Kin, her character in Bangiku, seemed closer to the latter sort. She's one of four former geisha depicted in the film who are struggling in a world where the skills and means by which they formerly survived have been made irrelevant by their age and the influx of western culture. Three of the geisha are broke and have nothing to pass on to their children of modern sensibilities but sexual pragmatism and cynicism about the opposite sex. Kin is the only one of the four who's managed to retire comfortably, primarily because, in her youth, she'd honed her abilities as a shrewd moneylender, which also makes her the most cynical and emotionally inaccessible of the four. The best and most evocative scene in the film involves Kin meeting a former patron who's now fallen on hard times--she loved him in her memory, but now he's just another guy who wants money. Yet one suspects he hasn't actually changed all that much.

Not a bad movie, but far from Naruse's best. It touches on a few themes explored with much more subtlety and complexity in a film he'd make the following year, Ukigumo.

I also watched the twelfth episode of Battlestar Galactica's third season, which was definitely a good episode simply for the fact that it featured Helo pointing out to Roslin her really obvious, phenomenal, and callous stupidity. When she started trying to guilt trip him about letting Sharon go to the Cylon ship, I thought, "This is where the smack down should be." And, thank the gods, Helo brought it--you stole his frakking baby. Who are you to moralise?

Otherwise, a lot of the episode didn't make much sense. Boomer's finally back, with a completely different but plot convenient personality, taking us back towards baby killing territory. Apollo made a complete 180 from his dialogue momentum in the previous episode, deciding to endanger other people to rescue Starbuck after all. That's not so bad compared to Sam having a hard time deciding whether or not it was worthwhile for the civilians to fight, despite the fact that there were no other options.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I am the Boy Anachronism

I love this Jonathon Ross interview with Morrissey from 2004;

Those two seem to play really well off each other. Morrissey has the sensitivity and perpetual honesty of a rock star and the brutal irreverence of a comedian. It's a precarious balance, and a comedian is a perfect foil. I also came across this video of Ross coming onstage at a Morrissey concert with Russell Brand and David Walliams to apologise for Morrissey being unable to come back on stage due to a sore throat. So, I guess, despite what Mozzer said, the two did become something like friends. Not hard to believe--he's so cuddly in the interview. He looks so masculine these days, but in interviews he seems to turn back into a peevish little boy.

I was looking at photos of Disneyland from the 1950s this morning like these;

Compare to one I took on Friday;

See what I'm talking about? I guess people wore pretty much what they were told in the 50s, too, but there was a higher standard. I lament the lack of imagination that prevents most people from realising that, once they're adults, they can wear anything, but if there's going to be a uniform, why not make it a good one? And the weight--if you're overweight because you enjoy food, more power to you, really. But I don't think that's what's happening here. I mean, people in the 50s ate all kinds of fat and red meat and yet I'm hard pressed to spot more than one person in any picture who's even slightly overweight. What's going into the human trough these days? I guess the unflattering clothes probably exaggerate the difference, too.

Oh, and here's another great thing about Disneyland that's not there anymore;

Mermaids! Disneyland needs mermaids. But I guess I could say that about anywhere.

To-night I'm going to my parents' house to watch the Oscars, though I still haven't seen any of the Best Picture nominees. If I do have a chance to get to a movie theatre in the next couple weeks, I'll probably see Coraline. I just can't feel enthusiastic about this crop of movies, and the omission of The Dark Knight just irritates me.

I caught up with Friday television yesterday--I guess Morrissey's right, American television does seem mainly aimed at children, but I still think Dollhouse has potential. I didn't technically glimpse much to encourage me on Friday's episode, but while I was watching, my mind wandered and I started thinking about how the personality imprints could be seen as a shorthand for how parents raise their kids and the idea of creating personalities by stimuli, how much responsibility parents bear, and the virtues and drawbacks in the whole process. The episode itself seemed partly crafted to reassure the audience that, yes, the show may be (gasp) weird, but don't worry, we're equipped to tell the old plot formulas your receptors have been conditioned to somnambulantly chant. In this case, "The Most Dangerous Game".

The new Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was a bit better--I was a little distracted by the fact that almost everyone at the funeral the episode was concerned with had faces familiar to me from other television shows, and John Connor's introduction to the girl was a little too self-consciously cute.

I have also been watching Battlestar Galactica the past couple nights--I watched episode ten of season three on Friday night, the first one written by Jane Espenson, and it had all the unabashed melodrama and utter humourlessness that characterised her work on the last couple seasons of Buffy, episodes I used to dread like baths in mucus, but in small doses she's not bad. Melodrama just means emotional drama created by a string of extremely unlikely events, after all, in this case the poor little drug addict who fakes her way into becoming a pilot only to save the day at the last possible moment and sacrifice her life in the process. It's okay in small doses, especially if you're in a Travis Bickle mood and you've decided to imagine the world's set against you.

I enjoyed the next episode more, though, especially since it involved Adama getting pissed off at Roslin while Roslin smiled blandly, wondering why anyone would be upset she stole a baby and gave it someone else.

Who Watches the Men?

I'm full of bourbon and I can't stand up, as Tom Waits would say, so this isn't an actual post really. Just . . . I feel really alien in that I don't particularly like any of the clips from the Watchmen movie. Not even this one on AICN that Knowles calls "Fucking cool!" No, Knowles. I'll answer the perennial question of your site; it ain't cool. It's just punching. Worse; staged stylised punching in a story that's supposed to be about superheroes in the real world.

I feel like I'm the last man on earth.

By the way, in my last post where I griped about overweight people in free t-shirts, I wasn't talking about people who can't afford not to wear free t-shirts, and whose metabolism gives them unpopular body shapes. I was trying to describe the attitude of these folks that says, "Ask not what I can do for you, but what you can do for me." I have a tooth missing right in the front of my mouth, I'm no prize, I know that. I wasn't talking about that. I was just talking about not looking like a world class fucking mark.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Significant Facades and Fantastic Symbols

While at Disneyland, my sister asked me whether I thought most of the people there were happy or miserable. "Miserable," I said after only a moment's hesitation, and my sister agreed. No-one knows how to feel emotion properly anymore. The people in the parking lot, walking towards the park, looked studiously stoic under their neon coloured ball caps.

When did we stop being a country of fast walking thin people in fedoras and dresses and become a country of overweight people in ball caps and t-shirts they got for free from Monster Energy Drinks and In and Out Burger (two shirts I actually saw)? An old man at the ticket booth seemed really excited to see my fedora. "Hats are coming back into style!" he said happily in a way that made it clear what he didn't consider the ball caps real hat wearing, whether he realised it or not. He was right, though--you can wear a hat, or you can just collect the layers of neglect of a thoughtless modern culture.

I hadn't been to Disneyland since high school, but before that I'd gone almost annually with my family, often for multiple days. So this was great nostalgia for me, and just fun in its own right.

This was my sister's Christmas present to me, but it's been raining so much lately this is the first chance we had to go.

I was surprised by all the really beautiful trees.

I might turn this one into a desktop wallpaper.

The monorail track in the background.

Another great tree, this one just past the entrance.

The arch into Main Street. Second Life, at its best, often reminds me of Disneyland for the buildings, lighting, and weather effects carefully crafted to create specific impressions. Second Life has slightly fewer people walking around in bad clothes not knowing how to role play. Probably because Second Life is bigger.

The tourists miraculously cleared for a moment when I took this picture on Main Street.

A more candid view of Main Street

Esmeralda, the mechanical fortune teller in the Penny Arcade. I gave her a quarter and received this fortune;

Makes me sound like Anakin Skywalker.

There was one real antique inside the Penny Arcade--well, unless you consider this whole part of Disneyland an antique, which you probably could;

Another fortune teller. This one told me my lucky colour was green (it figures) and gave me this fortune;

Like most people, I tend to ask just what the silken cord is running through the pearl of all virtues, anyway, so it was nice to finally get a straight answer.

A fascinating glass elephant. The place had good coffee, too.

I love the buildings on Main Street a lot more than I did when I was a kid.

A particularly nice building.

The Pirates of the Caribbean, with a green blob that may be Slimer making a cameo.

The ride was still great, with its wonderful treasure grubbing skeletons and the sabres left stuck through their invisible guts, and the burning town with rum soaked pirates singing and having their way. But now characters from the movie are all over the place, and practically every character felt compelled to mention Jack Sparrow at least once. Sparrow himself appears twice, most prominently at the end, lounging amongst booty and singing.

The Columbia. Not one of my best pictures.

After The Pirates of the Caribbean, my sister and I got lunch in Critter Country by Splash Mountain, and were surprised to find ourselves surrounded by scavenging cats;

There were three, and apparently they lived under the floor boards. They seemed as comfortable as pigeons around the humans, but were very picky about the food scraps people tossed to them, and didn't seem to want to be pet. When I finally did make one comfortable enough to let me pet him, he seemed completely indifferent; "Pet me, or don't. It's your call."

The Haunted Mansion, mercifully cleared of all tie-ins to the Eddie Murphy movie.

I loved these tentacle-like plants--another shot of the Columbia incidentally in the background.

A haunted carriage.

The pet cemetery. The statues seemed sort of Cocteau-ish to me.

This was the only picture to come out from any I took inside the rides--inside The Haunted Mansion, a portrait of a woman that turns into a gorgon when lightning flashes. I happened to get the picture right when the lightning flashed, simulating the camera flash I refuse to use.

This one didn't come out, but I still thought it was sort of interesting. The stretching room, inside The Haunted Mansion.

Sleeping Beauty's castle. It was nice to see the happy young couples, like the one in the lower right, who were kissing just before I took the picture.

The side passage through the castle is for some reason usually pretty deserted. It's quite eerie with the white statues and Snow White's tinny, high pitched 1930s voice coming from The Wishing Well, singing, with each line echoing;

I'm wishing
(I'm wishing)
For the one I love
(For the one I love)
To find me
(To Find me)

The Wishing Well.

The bottom of The Wishing Well.

My sister going through the side passage. There used to be a bench there where I remember resting years ago when I was approached by a Belle in a bright yellow gown who said to me, "You look like you're not having very much fun!"

"I am now," I said, wanting to flirt with to her suddenly. But I guess I didn't realise how creepy that sounded, because she walked away abruptly.

Props from Sleeping Beauty. I do love the look of that movie. That's my blue reflection there.

The only picture that came out from inside the castle.

I love the look of the Fantasyland section.

Remember when to-morrow looked like that? It seems like a long time ago, doesn't it?

My sister and I went on Star Tours, but I didn't get any good pictures, which is too bad because the thing was amazing, and wonderfully unchanged since 1987. The Star Wars droids still work perfectly as animatronics, and the place holds some of the wonder and mystery of the Star Wars universe in the 1980s, or at least an echo of those qualities. One of the kids in the back row on the ride sounded like he was going out of his mind in amazement, screaming "Oh my god!" whenever we went into lightspeed like he'd never dared to hope experiencing something like this.

I took a picture of people in line to take a picture.

Outside Disneyland now, there's Downtown Disney--basically a bunch of lousy shops, of which this was by far the creepiest;

The woman working there was oddly baby-ish herself.

How scary would you imagine the person is who'd buy this?

"What have you done with his body?!"

How would you like to feel embarrassed by what you put prominently on your shelf? How'd you like to pay 200 dollars for the pleasure?

Or maybe you'd like to pay 650 dollars for an incredibly bad acrylic painting of Jack Skellington wondering where he's left his keys meant to be romantic somehow?

Next to Disneyland now is The California Experience, which I thought was going to be a pretty pointless place, but actually turned out to be cool. It's divided into sections, like Disneyland proper. This one was some kind of Old Hollywood;

At sunset we were in an old fashioned carnival section--probably the best time to be there.

And here's the filthiest thing at Disneyland;

Of course I'd find it. Still no nipples, though.

That great tree again.

My sister's kitten, Saffy, in a picture I took when we came back. It's the closest one of her I've taken to not being blurry. That cat likes to move.