Off Road (And sometimes just Off)

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Even though I love the Easter Jeep Safari, I decided to zoom on over there before the place got too crowded.

Moab is a fun place to be. It rained a little while we were there, and it was interesting to see so many people unconcerned about walking around in the rain. Not only were they walking, but they were driving those little ATVs and UTVs around like they didn’t care at all that they were soaking wet.

One thing about the off-road culture, you do get in the weather, all kinds of weather. I guess if you’re going to get into a rugged hobby, you’re probably a fairly rugged character. So, what’s a little rain?

People who own a Jeep can plan on changing out a few, if not all, of the parts on their Jeep at some point in their ownership. I have one, so yes, this is first-hand knowledge. I’ve had to replace parts I never knew existed. Even while I was there in Moab.

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Did you know that every Jeep is fitted with an anti-rollover gyro-rotor? You didn’t know that? Apparently this is the most commonly stolen part, so it makes sense if many Jeeps don’t actually still have them. It may have been ripped off of the Jeep you own at some time. Scavengers are everywhere. Even in your own neighborhood. I had to replace mine while I was in Moab. This nice man told me about that mysterious part. He was just walking through the Taco Time parking lot while I was in the drive-through, and he noticed mine was missing, so he sold me one on the spot! You really meet some nice people there in Moab, and this guy was the nicest. He said the gyro-rotor usually goes for a whopping 1500 US$, but he sold me one for 500 US$. In case you’re wondering, it looks like this:

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Jeeps are great, but I don’t want to jabber on about Jeeps all day. There were some really super cool alternative vehicles over there in Moab. I actually saw a couple of these Cars-like cars. I only got one good picture though, and it was of this familiar looking character.

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There were tricked out Tacomas and other trucks too. There were some crazy looking military vehicles. There were also some vehicles that probably should never have been taken off-road that were still off the road. I swear I saw a Corolla out there in the sandstone, among other cars. Oh well, some people don’t have any respect for their vehicle until it’s broken, then suddenly—-respect!

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Besides the obvious off-road adventures, there are loads of other things to do in the areas around Moab. Arches National Park is a popular destination for a lot of people. It really is magnificent. And as far as landscapes go, Arches National Park is one of the most photogenic. The sandstone arches that decorate the area are what inspired Bill Watterson to draw the alien landscapes in his famous Spaceman Spiff* comics. You didn’t know that either, did you? I’m full of mindless trivia today.

Saw this little lizard out there.

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He paused for a picture, and showed us his tail. Someone must have tugged on it too hard and pulled it right off. Now his tail looks like a piece of licorice. The culprit might have been this guy.

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Look at him, sitting out there, trying to be inconspicuous. Sure. We believe it. Just kidding. Crows and ravens are usually scavengers. They don’t attack live…wait a minute…scavengers? I’ve heard that word somewhere before. Do you think this bird took my gyro-rotor?

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*Calvin and Hobbes

The Artist Is In

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There are so many types of art, I feel amazed that I feel a sense of respect for all of them.

Sure there’s “modern art”, that tongue-in-cheek form of artistic expression which seems more accidental than planned, but I still have some respect for it. After all, it does supply us all with a focus for our sarcasm. You can’t look at a canvas covered in speckles and drips and think of it as a 100% serious endeavor. If you can look at some of the examples of modern art without a laugh, a chuckle, or even a snicker, then I think you probably have a sad and sorry life. Learn to laugh more.

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Aside from the so-called modern type of art, there’s art out there in which the artist has attempted to capture the beauty of life, whether it’s in the form of oils on canvas or photography or even noodle art. The artist struggles to express the feeling they received through an experience. That’s where my respect originates, in that desire to show others what your experience, even to attempt to transfer that experience to someone else. It’s one of the most noble causes. Right up there with childbirth.

And that’s exactly how some artists feel about showing off their work. It’s as labor-intensive as childbirth. It makes you hyper-tense, it makes you sweat, and it makes you want to scream out for spinal drugs. “Kill the pain, before I expire!”

Artists sometimes get too dramatic about their art.

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Finally, I’d like to say that there are people out there who, despite their overly-dramatic self-derision, have earned some respect as they make their art better and better every day. If you see them, and see through their low self opinion, then the next step is to tell them what you really think about their art. Do you enjoy it? Or does it make you want to leave the room in a hurry? Or does it make you want to display the work in a conspicuous place where everyone can see it? Do you want to come back later when they’ve improved? Do you want to share it? Maybe you want to say, “I know the artist personally. Isn’t this a fine piece of work?” Do you want to help others see the beauty of the art?

If so, then that’s what you should do—help others see the beauty of the art.

Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse

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I watched Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse recently. It was a cute show. I say cute because it felt like it was aimed at kids. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it. It was worth some time vegging on the couch. I don’t feel like my time was wasted.

As a whole, the mood that struck me was one of watching an episode of a cartoon for children rather than a movie made for theaters and general audiences. The feeling would have been complete if there were station identifications and commercial breaks. In fact, I think the concept would be ideal for episodes.

The animation was really well done, and so was the voice acting. I was totally surprised to find out that Nicolas Cage was one of the voices. I didn’t recognize his voice as the Spider Noir character. I learned after the movie that he voiced that character. My opinion of him as an actor is extremely low. I can’t stand him much in any movie. Voice acting could be a really good career move for him though. He truly has a great voice. And I have to adjust my opinion of him now to include the category of Character Voice: quality—even though the category still exists in my opinion of Actor: substandard.

By the way, all the other voice actors do superb work in this movie.

As for the major elements of entertainment.

1. Drawing power: Does the story pull you in and make you feel as if you’re part of the world? YES

2. Interest factor: Is the story something you want to hear, see, know? Are you craving to discover how it ends? YES

3. Offensive factor: Does it present sex, violence, cursing too abundantly or too vividly? Does it present a querulous agenda? NO, this movie is not offensive.

4. Range of emotion: Is the story serious when necessary? Do the jokes come at appropriate times? Does the story present emotions at pleasing intervals? YES

5. Character factor: Are there good actors (not necessarily famous ones) in the film? Yes. Are there quality protagonists/antagonists in the literary work? Is there a quality dynamic between the characters? Yes. Is the narrator mostly invisible? At times, the narrator becomes front line fodder.

6. Style: Does the film use sloppy-cam? Does the literary work use loose plot lines? Are all the words in the right places? Are all the props in the right scenes? A little sloppy with the 3D. The colors seem odd at times because of the 3D style. The plot is fairly transparent. It was obvious to me that there would be five amazing Spider-characters. Action scenes aren’t too sloppy. Most of the time you can tell what’s happening.

7. Proper length: Does a fantasy world require multiple manuscripts? Does a dystopian world beg to be spartan or truncated? Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse has a good length.

Total score 5/7 stars.

Dating Advice

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What’s one thing you can offer to the next generation?

How about your wisdom? Everyone has at least a little of it. The more experiences we have, the more wisdom we collect. Once you get some, you can pass it along, help someone with their own life. Many don’t listen, it’s true, but some do. I’m sure you can think of someone’s advice you actually managed to hear and use.

Wisdom isn’t foolproof. It has some chinks in its armor, so to speak. It’s susceptible to a person’s memory. It’s forgettable. It’s also easily misunderstood. A person can hear some good advice and totally screw it up in their brain. Have you ever done that? Heard a good idea and then tried to do what you were told, but mess it up anyway because you misinterpreted? Or maybe you didn’t hear all the advice. Selective hearing anyone?

Now, before I move on to the dating advice, let me set up some backstory so you can get a sense of my credentials on the topic. I’ve had some seriously bad dates. Car problems, like a dead battery or a flat tire, felt like the dating plague to me. Bad food I don’t want to think about, because it brings nauseous memories back. Blind dates with girls so odd the memory of them is similar to those of the bad food. I’ve been married for a long time now, so I have some credence there too, I think. I’ve had some good dates too, though my advice doesn’t focus on those. My advice, to those of you out there who are in the dating cycle is this:

Bad dates are the best; hope for bad dates.

Why would I say that? Because I think you learn a lot more about a person in bad situations than you do when you’re having a great time.

You learn more about how a person reacts in those unfortunate situations. You learn how they deal with poor service, or low quality food, or broken vehicles, or whatever else can go wrong. If you find someone who can handle all these things with grace and style, check on their back for access panels. They’re probably a robot. Every real human has a breaking point and it’s valuable information to know. Why else would you be going on a date? Just to see how many bases you can reach? First base? Second base? If that’s true, we just now learned a little too much about you, didn’t we? You’re one of those scumbag types.

It’s good to date a scumbag once in your dating life too. Once you’ve been up close and personal with one of them, then you can spot them easier. When you can spot them easier, you can avoid them.

That last bit was mostly for the ladies. There aren’t any scumbag type ladies, are there? Ladies looking for shallow relationships? I suppose there could be, but they’re more rare than the scummy guys. More advice for the ladies: some guys grow out of that scumbag phase, some don’t. Advice for the guys: grow out of it already.

Anyway, if I was to enumerate dating advice, it would look like this:

  1. Don’t be afraid of having a bad date.
  2. Have a cheap date sometime.
  3. Have a group date sometime.
  4. Have an interrogative date.
  5. Have an out-of-your-element date.

With number one, I don’t mean make the date bad. Nature has a way, at least in my experience, of making unfortunate events happen.

By number two, a cheap date, I mean, go watch airplanes land at the airport, or watch a sunset, or go for a walk. These are the kind of dates where you learn how important money and patience are for the person you’re dating.

Group dates are good because you see how your date responds in a group setting.

An interrogative date is only where you ask each other lots of questions. What’s your favorite food? Which hockey team is your favorite?

An out-of-your-element date is like, say your date enjoys to watch gymnastic competitions, but you don’t. Or maybe your date enjoys monster truck shows, but you don’t. Go. You might find out some things about yourself.

 

Recently Read: Lolita by Nabokov

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The first lines hooked me.

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.” ~Vladimir Nabokov

I’ll admit, that’s the sole reason I wanted to read the book. It turned out to be a poor reason. And the signs are in those first lines, though I didn’t see them. I thought this might be more palatable, digestible, even rational for me, but it was none of those things. I thought the whole book might be as lyrical as those first lines.

As I got into this book, farther and further from the poetic first lines, I began to get a clearer picture of what this book is. With its flowery language, and its sensual themes, Lolita is one of the original romance novels. Maybe it’s the original romance novel. I’m not entirely sure; are there others like it out there? I picked it up thinking “Classic Literature”, but I didn’t find classic or literature. I found modern day pedophilia. I found old day pedophilia.

Debauchery isn’t given new life because of Nabokov’s literary coverage of the subject. It remains what it is.

Nabokov, through his main character, Humbert Humbert, tries to rationalize the emotions and dramas and fogs of the diseased mentality. But for me, the whole rationalization was completely transparent. It was easy to see through, like as if the book was made of acrylic instead of paper. I struggled to read as much as I did. Honestly, I couldn’t finish the thing. It might appeal to a more pulverized conscience than mine, or someone who enjoys reading novels of the romance category. If you value women or children though, you probably won’t find this book very interesting. If you’re of a pubescent humor, and you like to say things like, “Spanktastic!” then you might enjoy this book.

As for me, I quit reading Lolita early so I could go find a more tasteful entertainment somewhere else.

  1. Drawing power: The first lines drew me in, though in hindsight, they shouldn’t have.
  2. Interest factor: Is the story something you want to hear, see, know? Not this reader. Are you craving to discover how it ends? No. I don’t care one bit.
  3. Offensive factor: Does it present sex, violence, cursing too abundantly or too vividly? It handles sexual topics in a mostly subtle way. Does it present an agenda? It does have a strange agenda.
  4. Range of emotion: Do the jokes come at appropriate times? There are no jokes. Does it present emotions at pleasing intervals? Too much of the same emotion.
  5. Character factor: Are there quality protagonists/antagonists in the literary work? The main character is presented as a gentleman with desires. Okay, so maybe there are jokes. Is the narrator mostly invisible? No. I saw Nabokov himself writing his character’s lines.
  6. Style: It has quality style in the word manipulation.
  7. Proper length: TL;DR

Final count 2 of 7 stars.