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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I did believe a man could fly... 

Christopher Reeve, the man who played Superman in the four big-screen movies passed away this weekend.

I remember being very little and going to the theatre with my parents to watch Superman: The Movie. Even back then I liked comic books, and seeing Superman on screen was amazing. I have watched that movie (as well as it's sequels) several times since then. And as I grew older I learned to see the flaws in all of them. But I also learned to see the greatness that Christopher Reeve brought to the role. His portrayal of Superman and Clark Kent was the best there's ever been. In my mind he will always be Superman.

But, more importantly, he will always be a super man.

When I first heard about his accident, which left him paralyzed from the neck down I was in shock. But that soon paled to the awe I found myself in at Mr. Reeve's attitude towards life. He not only believed he would walk again, he made us believe it as well. And seeing him taken away from us before that happened was one of the saddest things we could experience.

He was always involved in charity work, but after his accident he, understandably, was a tireless advocate for stem cell research and other fields which could help people with spinal chord injuries. And you could feel it wasn't just about him. You could see he cared, not just for himself.

After the accident, he was told he would never regain any feeling below the neck and he would probably never be able to breathe again unaided. By the time of his passing, he was breathing without the respirator for extended periods of time, and he was able to move one finger. And he never stopped fighting. He was an inspiration.

The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation can be found at http://www.crpf.org/. Please check it out.

Rest in peace Christopher. You will be sorely missed.

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Saturday, September 11, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11: The temperature at which good film-making withers and dies 

So, Fahrenheit 9/11 was finally released in Mexico and The Lovely Gloria
and me went to see it today. And speaking as someone whose views on the
Bush/Cheney administration are pretty much in line with Moore's, and who
really liked Bowling for Columbine, this move was bad from beginning to end.

There were several points that make me feel this way. I'll try to go
through them individually and there will definitely be spoilers of the
movie ahead.

The first gripe I have is the fact that while many sequences were comprised
of nothing but factual broadcasts or scenes, they were presented in such a
way that they come dangerously close to being in the same category as David
Letterman's Bad Edit of the night where he has candidates saying things
like "I will close the loophole and no American will ever be able to go to
College again!" The most egregious offender was the opening election
sequence. It's presented in such a way as to make it seem as if it was Fox
News who decided the election outcome, and then claims every single recount
shows Gore won, which, while something a news-caster obviously said at some
point, since we see the clip, is in no way true.

Then there are those scenes that try to make a point and fail miserably.
Let's take for example the scene in Congress where we see a lot of people
submitting written complaints to Gore about the election, all shot down
because they lack the ONE signature of any Senator to make them valid for
introduction. Now, this definitely proves something, but I'm pretty sure
it's not what Moore was trying to show. It exposes the fact that there
wasn't a single Senator willing to sign these things. And since I'm sure
there are plenty of Democrats in the Senate who would have loved to see
Gore (who was still in office) instead of Bush as the President Elect, and
who probably would have gained favor with their constituents by putting up
a fight, I have to wonder just exactly how pointless and fallacious these
petitions were that not one was willing to put their name on them.

Another similar shortcoming is Moore showing us the proud mother of a
soldier who supports the invasion and then seeing her denounce it after her
kid has died (and denounced it himself in a letter). Again, what's the
point he's trying to make? A mother is angry at having lost her son? Well
duh! For this to be truly effective you'd have to show someone who believed
in the war and then changed their position on it based on developments that
DIDN'T involve them losing their son.

In a similar vein, there's the whole "trying to get Congressmen to draft
their sons." What exactly was that trying to accomplish? Are parents in the
habit of forcing their kids to join the military and send them out to war?
Gee... that's the freedom I want to strive for!

But my most grievous complaint is that after all those blunders and idiotic
attempts, Moore fails to capitalize on any number of legitimate ways to
attack the war mentality's weak points. He repeatedly shows us people in
the administration, including Bush, claiming there are Weapons of Mass
Destruction in Iraq and that there were ties between Sadam and the 9/11
attacks. Well, that's all good and dandy for those of us who have followed
the results, but how about actually showing that absolutely no weapons of
mass destruction have been found? Or that these alleged links don't really
exist? Maybe showing that instead of all the distortions and blunders
mentioned above would actually get thinking people questioning the whole thing.
Sure, there were some nice moments and some very condemning facts, but they
were lost in a sea of blunders, fallacies, idiocy and missed opportunities.

Oh, and it was rather boring too, unlike Bowling for Columbine which at least was entertaining.

The saddest thing is that the Democrats should be the ones who are most
upset about this film. Republicans can rightfully laugh it off as the
colossal mess it is, while Democrats have to deal with the fact that their
complaints and view-points are being presented in such a moronic and
intelligence-insulting way.

I would recommend that anyone seeing this film look at it through critical
eyes. Just eating it all up will leave you nothing good (and quite a few
erroneous preconceptions), while just bashing it just because of the
political line it follows will also deprive you of finding both the weak
and not so weak points of the subject matter it's covering.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Crappy Birthday to me 

ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First I type the entry and only the title appears. Then I type it again and as I'm electing it so I can copy/paste it and save it in case it happens again the whole thing vanishes in front of my eyes! OF COURSE that would happen today, reinforcing the theme of the day. *sigh*

So here we go AGAIN...

Usually I like my birthday but this year I'm just reminded that I'm 27, unemployed and without the experience I should have (I'm sure all those museums in Europe are going to impress people. Thanks mom & dad!). And I just want to cry.

These past few years have had some really crappy moments and I've been at fault for several of them. Well, no more! I will no longer take responsibility! Err... I mean, I'll do everything in my power to change things. Because if 28 rolls around and things haven't changed substantially I'll jump of a bridge.

That is all.

Oh, and a congratulation really cheers me up, even if it's for a little while (as do presents, those I really like :P). This used to be in the main text much more seamlessly the first two times, but I can't be bothered anymore.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

I hate SUVs 

I really, really do. They are a plague upon our society and something needs to be done about it. First, let's look at why they are so bad:

-First of all they're gas-guzzling monstrosities. And of course, we never worry about our gas suply, nor does burning it have any adverse environmental effects...
-Then there's the fact that they are a road hazard. Their size means drivers behind it won't be able to see what's happening in front off the SUV and thus have less time to react than the SUV driver.
-They are a hazard to themselves. Due to their increased height, their center of gravity shifts, making it more likely they might tip over. Of course, since SUV drivers feel all-powerful, they're more likely to go into dangerous situations "protected" by their big ugly things. Not that I would lament most SUV drivers suffering an accident, but they probably won't be the only ones affected.

Now, I propose a solution. Since there ARE people to whom SUVs make life a lot easier, but then there are the thousand of morons (and adolescents) who jsut have one because it's "cool", how do we solve this? Easily.

To buy a SUV you should be required to provide proof that you either a) regularly have more than 4 people in your car or b) regularly take outdoors excursions (which is what SUVs where made for). Can't provide either? Then go buy a real car, you damn poseur and stop poisoning, endangering and angering the rest of us!

Tomorrow, why there should be a test required to be registered to vote.
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Monday, July 12, 2004

July 4th 

A day of celebration. I'm talking of course about the fact that it's The Lovely Gloria's and my anniversary. What did you think I meant?

And we had a great time this past Sunday. Seeing as how my finances aren't the greatest right now, I had to make do with what I had while still ensuring that this would be an unforgettable day. The bar was raised when I picked her up and she gave me my present: the entire JLA/Avengers mini series. As some of you might know, I'm a huge comics fan and this is one of those projects that I had waited a long time for. Just to be unable to get it when it came out a year ago, due to financial constraints. The Lovely Gloria knew this, so she went to several comic stores (including one I didn't even know existed. That's resourcefulness for you!) to find a complete set. Now I have a mini-series that is not only amazing in it's own right (I loved every page of it), but which means so much more because it came from her. I'm a very lucky man.

So, first I took her mini-golfing. Sure, this might not sound like much, but it's something she's been wanting to do for a while now, but there hadn't been an opportunity (except for the day before, which I had to nix without arousing suspicions). I'm happy to report she loved it. I suppose that the fact that she beat me, didn't hurt.

After that, it was time to eat. Now, originally I had wanted to take her to a place that specializes in a wide variety of fondues (which is a favorite food of hers). However, I had blown that a week earlier as I had suggested it as a place we could go to with her family for her mother's birthday. While it was a great experience, it took away from the specialness of the place I had planned, so a new approach was needed. So I took her to a restaurant where they have a very fine ocean-food buffet (remember kids, ALWAYS have a back-up plan). The food was delicious, I even got the live musician to play something for us, and once again, a great time was had by both of us.

Finally, to cap off the day, we retired to more private surroundings for another few enjoyable hours. And let me just say that now I know why hot-tubs are held in such high regard.

All in all, while I wish I could have done more, I think the day was a success and a fitting celebration of our being together. I can't wait for many more of these to come.
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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Nationals 

After all the build-up leading up to my playing in the Mexican Nationals, I feel a brief report of what happened is in order.

After arriving and registering my constructed deck list, I sat down for the first round again a player I recognized as being good. However I was confident both in my deck and myself. Indeed, I dispatched of him with ease in the first game. And that's where the day started to go wrong. I realized something wasn't right as I found myself with one card too many. After checking with the head judge it became apparent I had registered one card too many for my sideboard. This meant not only that I would permanently lose one card, but also that I would receive a game loss. This tied the match at one a piece, and in the third game my opponent got an excellent start and dispatched me sending me to the 0-1 bracket. I won my next match and in the final round of constructed for the day I was paired against a player playing an unorthodox deck. And then luck/fate/the gamemaster decided to REALLY screw with me.

After my opponent had to go down to a smaller starting hand of five vs my seven, my deck proceeded to give me 17 lands (out of a possible 22), which meant I was able to cast anything I drew, but also that I didn't draw anything that actually did something. I lost that game. Then I won the next one and in the deciding game my opponent had to, once again, go down to 5 cards. I wasn't sure wether this was a good thing or just a set-up for a repeat of game one. Well, this time it wasn't my deck dealing the wildly improbable odds. It was his. He was one turn away from death. There was only one card that could save him and he had already played three of his four copies. There were 40+ cards in his library. That meant a 1 in 40+ chance that he could draw it. There was NO other way for him to win. So of course he drew it and killed me.

So I went into the first draft with a 1-2 record. I had to win out to give myself a one-loss margin next day, or in the worst-case scenario go 2-1 to stay in contention for Top 8. I proceeded to lose my next two matches in a row. The second one due to a stupid mistake: not attacking once for a "measly" three points of damage. Of course, those ended up being the deciding factor. But that one was completely my fault (just like the mis-registered sideboard, which was about the dumbest thing I could do, so of course I saved it for the most important local tournament of the year). So as the first day ended I found myself out of contention. Fun.

I arrived on the second day ready to get in a free draft (free cards!) and get some rating points back. So again I lost my first two matches, dropping me to 4-1 in limited, which was my "strong suit" and where my rating was high. And for the third round I got a Bye, which meant my record would improve but I wouldn't get any rating points out of it. I then proceeded to go 3-0 in the second constructed portion. But, of course, I had to play against two good friends, thus stealing points from them.

I finished the tournament 6-6 (with one bye *sigh*), and 57th overall (out of 109). Definitely not what I was expecting. Looking on the bright side, this was my first Nationals, and I qualified to it the first year I set out to do so, so that's good. But still, I should have done a lot better. Which only proves I have a lot more work to do.

As a final note, after that tournament, my good limited rating and my mediocre constructed one switched places (I lost about 3 composite points in the process). Well, if I'm truly good at limited like I claim, I should be able to bring that one back up and earn myself a ratings invite next year. And hopefully a far better tournament itself.

And as a bonus, here's Moctezuma's Revenge at Nationals. Not the best quality, but it's what we got.





Moctezuma's Revenge Moctezuma's Revenge

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Monday, June 28, 2004

Hugo Martinez Moctezuma 

As I mentioned earlier, my grandfather passed away recently. It wasn't a complete surprise, as his health had been deteriorating over the past year or more. However, most of that deterioration was to his mental health. He was afflicted with senile dementia. He had been losing touch with reality more and more. The first time I noticed this, along with his deteriorated grooming, I was very shocked. The contrast with the man I knew, the man who rode the subway to work at age 80 because of the joy he took in it, was stark.

Towards the end, there were times when he didn't recognize any of us, which was really hard. And he was also constantly complaining of physical pain. So, when he died, it put and end to his suffering, as well as that of ours, as seeing someone you love in that shape is very painful.

Luckily, he led a full life. He was a successful journalist, respected in his field, and a very smart one. He is part of the reason I enjoy many of the things I do, like reading or my appreciation for the proper use of language. Sure, like everyone, he had his problems. But those aren't why he'll be remembered. I for one will remember him as a great man with incredible ethics and a great love for his family. And I'll miss him. But I'll always try to be a better man, partly because of him.

Rest in peace.
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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I'm Worried 

What am I worried about? Well, first of all, that any readership I managed to acquire here is now gone thanks to the prolonged silences. But mostly I'm worried about the silences themselves.

Why can't I keep this blog updated? Why am I taking so long to do a translation that will actually get me money I desperately need? I don't know. I started writing a post about judging in a Pre-Release a month ago. That was very exciting. Never finished it. Then my grandfather passed away last week, so the other post seemed kind of intrascendental. Didn't manage to get that one out either (although I still will). I'd also like to write about last weekend's Nationals, as I've been going on about the road there for a while here. But I haven't....

It's a miracle THIS is even up. And I think I owe the people who stop here every now and then more than that. And I owe myself more. I know this... yet I can't seem to make much of a dent in the problem.

I'm truly, truly worried....
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Sunday, May 30, 2004

Update 

As promised, here's an update to other people discussing the whole Honor Roll thing. Robin did a pretty good job, and as expected took a very different angle than I did, for the most part.
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Friday, May 21, 2004

And they wonder why the world is in this shape... 

I came across this little article the other day.

Seriously, this is wrong on so many levels I'm sure I'm probably missing more than a few (good thing I know for a fact of two other people you should already be reading who will also tackle it. I'll post links as soon as I have them).

Let's start with this one: Since when do kids get picked on for NOT making the Honor Roll? Wish I had gone to that school as my experience is the complete opposite. What is this, the chess-club taking your money at recess? If people really were concerned about things like that happen they'd be screaming for the abolishment of school sports, as that's a much more real source of discrimination, not just whining because their offspring are underachievers. And with that attitude I can see where they got it from.

Which brings us to stupidity incarnate #2: Let's see, my child is not doing so good at school. Do I a) Take interest in his life and help him get better or b) threaten to sue the school for exposing it? And again, we wonder why the world's going to hell in a hand basket...

Now, onto "reason why the extinction of humanity might not be such a bad idea" #3: I know we see examples of this every day, but that doesn't make it any less scarier. While this seems confined to the US for now, this over-litigious society has got to stop! When schools have to hand out permission slips before being able to acknowledge a student's achievements things are as bad as a Gigli / Hidalgo double-feature.

Finally, my favorite line in the article: "'I discourage competitive games at school,' [The Principal] said. 'They just don't fit my worldview of what a school should be.'" When exactly did we go from rewarding individual achievement (isn't that the basis of our precious capitalism? The one we almost went to World War Three over against those evil, evil communists?) to "let's coddle everyone, lest their feelings get hurt when they realize others might be better at some things than them?" Considering I was pretty much raised a Marxist, when I'm the one pointing this out we're deeply in Bizarro-world territory.

If my mental capacities ever diminish to lows such as these (and we're talking severe brain damage here) please, just shoot me.
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