Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Trip Preface

Well, I'm back and I have some fairly decent experiences to relate.  I'm going to take some time and preface the trip posts with a few notes.

First, the trip will be documented in my very first attempt at an actual "series".  There are roughly 9 entries in the experience, so I'm going to chronicle them day by day/experience by experience, with some special outtakes here and there.

I'd like to thank my parents for making sure I got out of the house and got a chance to look at the world from a fresh point of view.  I think their wisdom in deciding to take me on the trip is held in the fact that the trip, from frustrating nicotine deprived moments to laughter and joy, really did recharge my batteries.

Next, I'd like to fiercely apologize to Nan because she didn't get to go this time around.  I thought of her a lot during the trip and to her I can only say that I know she's driven for my parents before, and now that I've had my turn at the wheel, it's her turn again.  Oh no Nan, don't you run off or try to hide behind something, it's YOUR turn.

Finally, I'd like to thank everyone for their patience along the way, especially my dad who got the full brunt of having to deal with someone with hyper-vigilance.  After I hopped a curb, he reminded me it wasn't good for my tires, and he patiently took the brunt of my hyper-vigilant awareness.  Ok, just a note:  when someone is hyper-vigilant, they're already aware of what's happened and they've relived it ten times before you say a word about it.  So, my condolences to Dad and my eternal gratitude to him for his unending patience.  Don't worry though, I took it right back as he did his best impersonation of my late Aunt Sissy, channeling her need to side-seat and back seat drive, nearly wrecking us in the process.

So, that being said, I'm glad to be home and over the next several posts, we'll be traveling across the desert to the beaches of San Diego and back again.  So sit back, relax and think of ocean waves and beautiful breezes.  From the long drives to the GPS, from "The Island" aboard the Midway to The Old Town Trolley, and remembering the three other characters who went on the journey with us, Betty, Betty and my Prius lovingly named Ekko.  I'll be sharing my adventure as three souls took on a road trip that can only be summed up in one phrase...

It had lots of nutritional value.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A special note to all of my readers...

Thanks so much for participating in the journey of an eternal wise fool.  You'll note there are some new features along with my new background.  There are some checkboxes at the bottom of every post so you can let me and the other readers know what you thought of my entry.  Please use them, you'll help me sculpt my entries better and bring you topics you really want to read about.  Don't worry, they're anonymous if you don't want to leave a comment or note, but your comments are always welcome and I encourage you to leave a note, if for no other reason than to say hi and let me know you're on the journey with me.

By the way, I won't be upset if you recommend my blog to your friends.  I like having folks follow my writing, it gives me hope that I might just be able to help someone laugh or get through a hard time knowing they're not alone.

Lastly, I'm taking a little bit of time off, not long, only 4 days.  So stick with me, on Monday June 28th I'll be back with a whole new series of wacky adventures, recovery stories, observations and most of all, my signature brand of humor.

Most of all, thanks for reading.  I know I'm not the world's best author, but thanks for laughing with me, not at me.  hehe.

Love to all.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Finally to the endgame.

I'm sitting here exhausted.  I'm working off of 3 hours of sleep and I really just want to crash.  But, I've got a trip to pack for and I can't put it off.  I have to be up in 6 hours to get in the car and grab Mom and Dad for a trip to San Diego.

The dishes in the sink need to go into the dishwasher, toiletries need to be lined up to go into the bag right after I use them in the morning and the trash has got to go out.

But, I took some time tonight and went into WoW.

Wednesday night isn't a usual raid night for us.  It's slated for the 10-mans I like so much to gripe about.  But, as it was, I had already accepted my invitations last week for this week's raids.

If I'm nothing, I'm like my guild.  Consistent.  But for all the hours I've put in being consistent, for me to slack off for any reason and not lend my skills to the greater good, well, that's not me.  If I accept my invitations, come hell or high water, feeling terrific or like the latest road kill, I show up.  I am not a flake when it comes to my responsibilities to my team.

When I got in tonight, I was hit by some whispers.  I got a choice as to which group I could go with...my raid leader's group with the not-so-stellar attitudes and the T.I. rap pair of "and we're suddenly full of ourselves, aren't we?" over-achievers or the ever-so-humble, never-afraid-to-fumble crew I go with most of the time.

Feeling like I'd been hit by a truck, I really didn't feel the need to go through 3 hours of content I've already worn out and chewed all the flavor out of.  Don't get me wrong, I love all of my guildies.  Sometimes they tick me off, but for the most part, they're really great people.  But tonight really wasn't a night I wanted to rehash and play around.  If I was going to do something in my extremely exhausted state, I wanted to finally hit the end game I'd been teased with so often but never finished.

When I said I was working with only 3 hours of sleep in me, one of the folks said, "You sound exhausted, why don't you go take care of yourself and get some sleep?"  I replied, "Because there is no "I" in Team".  Funny thing, the person dismissing me to get sleep was one of the "my shit don't stink" pair that I'm sure had other goals in mind when they suggested I leave.  I was having none of it.  If I say I'm going to show up, dammit, I'm showing up, I don't care how awful I feel.

Then came the discussion.  It was a toss-up.  Either start Icecrown Citadel all over again and do hard modes or just go straight to the Lich King.  Feeling like I'd been put through a blender already, I wanted nothing to do with the hard modes this evening.  I like to save hard modes for when I'm wide awake and ready for a good thrashing, good spirits and positive attitude in hand to help counter the beating hard modes inevitably lead to.  No, for me tonight, I wanted to reach a good cruising speed, heal and get through the night, enabling me to get out at a reasonable hour and still be able to pack my bags for the trip.  So I voted to go straight to the Lich King and get some much needed time in on that fight.

Ok, you could say my motives were selfish, that I only wanted my Kingslayer title.  Wrong.  I only wanted to practice the Lich King fight.  It's the one I have the least experience in and I'd like to really get the dirt under my claws and gain some traction there, if for no other reason than to get more experience and learn the fight better.  I had given up on ever seeing my Kingslayer title.  Truth told, I really didn't want it anymore because I've seen what people do with it once they have it.  Arrogance...well, y'all know, it's just not me.  I'm about leading from the bottom up, taking the worst player and helping them become better, offering encouraging words, integrating them into the team, helping them be motivated to think about the team and their place in it.   Leadership like that builds cohesion.  But sometimes, no matter what you do, some folks just don't want to get with the program.  Those not with the program end up burning out like the T.I. rap pair.  Folks with that much hubris and arrogance just don't have a place in my world. 

The vote passed, we extended the raid lockout went straight on to LK.  The first pull was a wipe.  We lost some folks early on, and it just folded.  Second attempt, we downed him.  Now I will be the first to say, the 25% buff to damage and healing went into effect on Tuesday.  It was very VERY helpful to say the least.

When we finished the fight, one of the T.I. rap pair whispered me, "Good healing.  Nice job."

I replied, "Thanks.  I'm not fail.  LOL."

I can finally say I have my Kingslayer title, but in truth, I don't want to show it off.

When we finally reached Dalaran after finishing our weekly raid quest, the other of the T.I. rap pair asked me, "Hey Sheri, when are you going to slide on your new title?" 

I replied..."I'm not."

Silence overwhelmed our voice over IP software with the shock of my statement.

I good-naturedly said, "I'm just going to stick with my Ashen Verdict title because I've seen what people do with their Kingslayer title once they have it.  I prefer "Matron" or "Ambassador", even "The Love Fool" seems oddly appropriate."

My guild leader popped up and said, "I like Flame Warden myself."  Then he added, "But you should really go with "The Patient"."

I laughed and said, "Yeah, I should, but even my patience wears thin, but only my guild master and raid leader ever see that."

Truth told, after the Lich King took his final breath, I broke into huge sobs.  I finally hit the pinnacle of where I have always aspired to go with my toon in WoW and then went the distance, only short because I died to three vile spirits who, no matter where I turned, came and got me.  But, lucky for me the team pulled it out and I got to see what I was working towards for the last two years.  The endgame.  I got to see the video and I realized one thing...

When you finally reach your goal, you can sleep well knowing you did your best; realizing that it wasn't about just you, it was about the team you were on and you did your best to serve the greater good.

That said, I'm going to go pack and pass out.  5am comes early you know.  I just might have the best short sleep in the history of man (or woman in my case).

Moms and their kids

As I get ready to pack for my trip to San Diego this weekend with my parents, I remember the first time I went to San Diego with a friend.  Well, upon checking into The Catamaran Hotel, I walked out onto the balcony and saw something interesting.  I hadn't recalled this story until recently, so bear with me as I piece this tale back together after 10 years from memory.

Walking out onto the balcony of the hotel room, I look down into a garden area.  There in the small grass filled courtyard I saw a mother and her toddler.  The wisdom of her face betrayed her age, and the toddler was much like every other small child I'd ever seen.  Curious beyond imagination, the little one was hell bent on discovering the world.

The child would playfully run across the fresh cut grass, occasionally stumbling and when he did, his mother would never be too far away, and she'd come over, help him up and he'd scamper off again.  Seeing a cricket in the grass, he stumbled over on wobbly new legs to find out what the commotion in the grass was, scurrying ever so quickly to get a better look at what caught his eye.  Then, after the fascination of the moment wore off, he'd scamper off somewhere else and she'd chase after him to stay within a distance to protect and watch over the little guy.

You could tell that the mother had restricted the grassy area as a playground for the little guy.  Every time he'd try to run off, she'd corral him back onto the grass.  Her ever vigilant eye trained on the child as she pondered his safety in the big, bad world. She was never far away and always within distance to catch him should he be close to hurting himself or getting into trouble.

The mother had her hands full as she helped the little guy play to his hearts content.  You could tell she loved that little guy more than the world and she'd do anything to protect him.  After all, what else would a mother do...

The mom, well, she was a duck.  The child was a brand new little duckling.  Whatever your species, Moms are always a source of love and protection for their kids.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The 80's Reboot

Oh no.

Oh gods no.

I survived the 80's by the skin of my teeth.  I was there, I've got the t-shirt and the list of Gen X maladies to go along with it.  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, abuse, you name it, I've got it.  Why oh why are people so hell bent on bringing back the Reagan-esque age of excess?  Did we not learn anything from the housing bubble collapsing?  Did we not cringe at the neon colors or millions of Ferris Bueller knock-offs?  Didn't we get to the point where we burnt out on them so bad that they became a joke?  Why is it that we are hell bent on remembering all of the very painful moments of our childhood?

All of this stems from this article on CNN.com.   Oh here, I'll save you the pain, they're remaking the movie "Footloose".  Oh gods.  Why?

You know my rant on reboots, remakes and prequels.  Here we go again.  I want to know WHY we need to revisit a tale of bigotry, narrow minds and people who just outright need to get a friggin' life?  I remember sitting in the Brauntex theater with my sister to see that film.  The leg warmers, the really horrid shoes (I even thought so back then) and Kenny Loggins blaring over the speakers.  It was a bad movie back then, why does it need a remake and why in hell do we need to revisit the 80's?

We deal every day with bigots.  I'm the first one to absolutely abhor people who find it their mission in life to make sure people who are different feel outcast.  I've got tons of friends who are gay, who are atheist, who could be blue, green or aquamarine for all I care and they're beaten down on a daily basis because of one reason, they're different.

Now I could go into a rather painful story of a friend from the 80's who was told to basically jump off of a cliff by his best friend because he finally came out.  When I learned of the situation, I was outraged.  I loved the guy, I didn't care what his sexual preference was, it's none of my damn business who he sleeps with.  My job as his friend is to love him for who he is come good, bad, hell or high water.

So again, why do we need to revisit a tale of frigged up small town values, bigotry and parents who are so overbearing that they need to be shot in the ass with a cattle prod?

As I've glanced over the film as it has popped up on cable television over the years and well, you could say that the little town portrayed in the film wasn't too far gone from the town I grew up in.  The overbearing ministers, the rebellious preacher's kids, the high-profile "popular" kids with substance abuse issues.  Their problems weren't aired publicly...hell no, because everyone knew about it and just turned a blind eye.  No, it was the one kid that was different, who was attractive and smart that dared to stand up to their frigged up status quo that got burnt at the stake for their "heresy".  To be attractive and smart in a town who values people who are ugly and ignorant? To actually imply a corrupt system is corrupt?  Oh hell, break out the mesquite, those folks were going to have a barbecue.

There are small towns all over the country that are tales just like "Footloose".  They're a part of every day life.  They are filled with suffering "different" children who want nothing more than to survive the time they must live there, then break out and go to a new place, a new world of their own that dismisses all of the nightmares of the past.  All of the nightmares brought vividly to life in "Footloose" and the "different" kids prayed silently in the night that people would "get it" and realize that the status quo was the problem, just as it was illustrated in the film.

It's 30 years later.  People still aren't getting it.  The original film is fine as it is.  It makes it's point and we still can see Kevin Bacon, before he had his Seven Degrees, doing a half-gymnastics, half dance routine in an abandoned warehouse.  (*shudder*)  Or see the town tramp try to redeem herself with what is perceived to be the new 'bad boy'.  Either way, the original covers the bases.  We don't need to go there again.

The 80's are over.  They're dead and gone.  Leave them there.  We don't need to go back into a world of cocaine-fueled delusions of grandeur in Miami Vice over-sized jackets.  The fashion was god awful, the music more than forgettable outside of Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" which is the quintessential 80's song outside of "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles.  From whatever viewpoint you have, the 80's are easily summed up and described in one word.  Cliché.

I remember coming home from school in the 80's and doing my homework with MTV playing the latest music on television. But, MTV hasn't played music videos in years.  So you could say when they aired "Video Killed the Radio Star" back in 1981, they were well on their way to killing music altogether, turning it from a means of expression to a hideous business model featuring kids who should be in rehab and not on television. It's just one more sign the 80's are dead and we should leave them alone.

Remakes, reboots and the lot.  Oh gods, I wish Hollywood would get a life and stop living in the past.

New stories folks.  We all need them.  Will the 10's be remembered as a time that we just looked back and disregarded the fact that the future will remember what we're doing and laugh at us for it, much as it does the Pat Benatar knock-offs and the Spicoli wannabes of Fast Times at Ridgemont High?  Well, hell, there's one they haven't messed with...Fast Times.  Oh hell, that one was awesome.  You can't touch a really good look at the past when the film was actually MADE back then so that we could laugh at ourselves.

Well, here comes "Footloose".  What's next?  Weird Science, Ferris Bueller, Sixteen Candles and the Breakfast Club?  God help us all if Hollywood really thinks it's ok to reproduce those tales.

The 80's are dead.  Leave them them there just for the sake of all of the folks with the Gen X list of maladies.  Give those who were beaten, abused and outright traumatized by that horrid decade a break.  We deserve it.  We're still paying our therapists and still working through the issues caused by a decade of self-indulgence and poor judgment.

I know lots of people who just LOVED the 80's.  News flash guys, it's 2010, let it go.   Make some new memories, write some new stories.  I'm sure we'd all love to hear them.


Consciousness.  Awareness.  Sometimes my head spins and I get rather pointed headaches when I'm able to see beyond what most can see.  Sometimes it makes me sick to my stomach because I can see things so far down the line, seeing connections that most can't even comprehend, much less see it's relevance to the now.  It makes me feel rather unhinged.  Like I've jumped off the deep end.  Most of all, it makes my head hurt.

When I have moments of seeing things intricately interconnected, I usually just allow them to wash over me.  I see their relevance, I smell, hear, feel and taste their essence, then I allow them to pass through my consciousness, then into my subconscious where my brain chews on it until all the flavor is gone, resulting in some very vivid dreams.

Case in point, and this is just one example from pop culture.  The line in which literature, computers and an unlikely sequence of events all coincide to make one hell of a headache.

Here's the sequence of events...

Man evolves.  Man becomes conscious.  Man enslaves man.  Man goes to war against Man.  Man creates machines.  Machines evolve.  Machines become the slave of man.  Machines become conscious.  Man and Machine go to war against one another.  Man evolves.  Man becomes machine. 

All of it interconnected, all of it inextricable from itself.  An enormous pretzel of time and fate.

1932 - Aldous Huxley writes "The Brave New World" in which we see the future through drug induced socialism "Everyone belongs to everyone else".  Funny thing, there is now a pain killer out on the market called Soma, same name as the drug used in The Brave New World.  The feelies (made into partial reality by 3D TV and virtual worlds) and millions of sets of twins Bokonoskified in laboratories.  Test tube babies glowing like red rubies going down a conveyor belt. Octomom anyone?

1965 - Frank Herbert writes "Dune".  An amalgamation of short stories he had been writing since 1958.  In the book, he writes about how over time humanity created machines to do the work of man.  Man becomes slovenly and lazy, relying completely on the machines to sustain them.  The machines advance, evolve and become sentient.  Seeing that they were merely slaves, the machines rise up and go to war against man, resulting in the destruction of the machines and begins the rise of the Mentats, or male human computers and their equivalent for women, the Bene Gesserit sisterhood.  Man becomes highly mentally attuned, making machines, outside of use for space travel, obsolete.  Man vows never again to make "thinking" machines and intellect takes over as the predominant force.

1984 - We've all seen the movie "The Terminator".  Premise:  Man creates machine.  Machine becomes sentient, machine kills man to survive and dominate the planet.  It's a reboot of the premise underlying the Dune drama.  The actual physical war between man and machine.

1999 - Again, we go to the same place, integrating virtual worlds in "The Matrix".

Here is where the interconnection comes and I get my pointed headache.

Just for a moment, go on a journey with me.  In 1958, Frank Herbert couldn't have guessed close enough to the rise of computers in today's society.  Here we are in 2010 and the machines are slowly taking over.  In a Terminator moment, we look at the real Skynet, the internet, and how it's become the predominant force on the planet.  Cloud computing is on the rise and it seems as wherever we go or whatever we do, our addiction to instant gratification of instant information, instant communication and the rest has begun to make us lazy, making us rely on our technology Soma to get us through the most routine of tasks.  Need directions, go to mapquest.com.  Need food, go to the drive through or order it online.  Need companionship, turn on the computer and go into a chat room or online world where you don't need to leave the house to find someone to talk to or share an activity with.  Unmanned drones fly over battlefields, leaving the humans safe and cozy in their cubicles.  

We can order a pizza on a website and ask for it to be delivered, we don't even need to pick up the phone or go outside.  Need groceries?  Put your order in online.  Some places will even deliver your groceries for you, enabling you to lay around the house and not do much, leaving nothing but time to watch TV or play games.  Even going to work has become the realm of the machine because so many people telecommute.  They sit in their home offices to work and transmit their day's work through the internet to their bosses or colleagues.  I seriously doubt half of the telecommuters actually get out of their pajamas before beginning work for the day.

Have you noticed yet our addiction to technology and our need to have machines do our work for us?  We don't even write letters to send through the real postal system anymore.  It's quicker, faster and cheaper to send an e-mail, or order a gift online and have it shipped already gift wrapped with a machine printed card.  The machines do it all.

What happens if the machines fail?  All of the computers around the world.  The ones who do our banking, the administrative paperwork at a hospital, the records about all of our activities, from a child's grades at school to the amount you have in your retirement fund.  It's all held by machines.

Netflix, CNN.com, World of Warcraft.  Then add in the next generation XBox 360's and Sony's Kinetix.  Now you can play with animals that are machines, just dressed up in fancier pixels. We live in a machine dominated world where we find less and less time to physically reach out and have physical contact with another human being, instead, we just call them on the phone or send a text message.  Want to watch a movie?  No need to go to a theater or sit in your living room, you can get it all through your machine.  Machines do our work for us.  It is only a short amount of time before technology makes machines sentient.

What will happen when the machines start thinking?  The humans will stop.  We'll allow more than happily for the machines to do everything for us, because they already do and have been doing so for the last 20-30 years.  I remember the archaic machines of old.  The computing power of the old ENIAC has been exponentially increased and sized down to the laptop you're reading on or the desktop computer you're sitting at.  All of that power in one small box.  It's programmed to remind us of dates, it makes calls for us.  It sets our appointments and it refills our prescriptions, leaving man little to do but the basic necessities.

When the machines become sentient, they'll find little reason to respect us.  We are not deities.  Machines will not find a reason or need to show us any type of respect.  They will not have the thousands of years of history to help them make a moral decision.  Morality to a machine is a 1 or a 0.  A yes or a no.  They will only know what we will show them.  If they become sentient in a world filled with avarice, they will have no other example to go off of than to treat humanity as it treats itself, with no respect and little moral reservation in regards to life.

What happened to mental acuity?  We rely on games and puzzles to help us gain the skills we would have if we physically did things ourselves and not allowed a machine to do it for us.  The physical breakdown of man is evident in the generations of children who sit in front of video games and eating potato chips instead of playing outside.  The machines have made it easy for us to slide unknowingly into avarice.  They've enabled us to the point where we would not know life without it.

iPads, iPhones, the e-reader, they have made it so that our world is instantaneous, eliminating our need to pick up the simplest object, like a book.  They've made it so that we forget the smell of a musty library book, one that has been checked out, read, returned, reshelved and checked out again ad infinitum.  The mind goes soft as we merely press a button or have a voice-actuated program do things for us or give us the information we seek with little mental legwork done on our part.

When will we get to the point where we destroy the machines in favor of our humanity?  When will we realize that the machines are doing our thinking for us and we've stopped?  Advertisers determine what you eat and wear, what you will sleep on and in, what you will enjoy and what you won't.  All of those influences are targeted at you and you are pummeled with the influence of the machine almost 24/7.  It's a small wonder we're still thinking at all.

Then I sit here, my mind wrapped in a giant pretzel, wondering why it is we have not trained our brains to do the computing for us.  The brain is faster, billions of computations every second.  Our brains and consciousness is piloting the most complicated machine ever devised, the human body.

Our minds are complex.  Most people don't realize you only use a fraction of your brain's power.  It's a supercomputer of sorts, only it's organic and there is no fear that one day your brain will revolt against your body, unless of course you have some sort of aneurysm, stroke or serious biological malfunction.  The brain's only real downtime is when we sleep, but even then, it's still working, processing what our senses take in and wash it through the subconscious so we can assimilate the lessons we've learned and understand things better.  So why aren't we training our brains to be better than the machines?  Why are we not replacing machines with human beings?  Why is it that we rely on machines more than our fellow man?  Do we not trust anyone else?  Do we not believe we could be as meticulous or thorough as a machine?

I love my computer.  It acts as my conduit to the outside world.  It holds my blog, it gives me a presence to the rest of the planet when without it, I would only be present to the people I directly come into physical contact with.  However, if I do not live my life being an intelligent, aware, human being, what is the point to existence at all?  I was not biologically conceived just to sit at a machine.  I am a human being made up of living cells intended to smell, touch, taste, hear and smell the world around me. I guess the big riddle here is  why is it that humanity is so wrapped up in machines that all they do is rely on them and forget their senses?

I value my mental clarity.  I value being intelligent and not allowing the technology to rule me.  I use technology as a tool, as I would a wrench or a hammer, but when it comes to the end of the day, no machine generated flower could be as beautiful as the bouquet on my dining room table.

Got a headache yet?  I know I do.

Machines, well, let's put it this way, I use my knife and cutting board far more often than I do my food processor.  I write handwritten letters.  I'm aware of the line of events that is happening in the world and it leads to a very nasty wake up call for the rest of humanity.

Turn off your machine...let your brain and body do your work today.

It's all interconnected.  Use your brain, don't let your machine do all the work for you.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Fast Lane...

I'm having to write this in a William Gibson-esque style this time around.  I've got 3 tales that are actually interwoven and it'll come together at the end to make sense.

I spent the day with my sister yesterday.  She's a really fascinating woman of incredible strength.  I'm very grateful that the fates made her my sister, she's really amazing.

When I got up yesterday morning, I got ready and dressed to pick my sister up and go shopping for our Dad for Father's Day.  We went halfsies on a new watch for him.  It's beautiful.

So anyhow, I left the house to make sure I was on time to Nan's (she hates it when I'm late), and on the 95 from my house up to hers, there was something peculiar happening on the highway, seems as an antique fire truck thought it would be just fine to have it's slow ass in the middle lane of the freeway.

Ok, general rules of the road on a three-lane freeway...

Far left hand lane is the fast lane.

Middle lane is the folks who want to go fast but don't want to speed too horribly.

The Right lane is for the poky folks who want to drive the speed limit or below it.

There's this monster of an antique fire truck and it's in the center lane and all sorts of people were forced to go around it, even me.  I sat and shook my head as this exhaust coughing, pollution-causing monstrosity just HAD to take a spot in the center lane when it really should have gotten the hell out of everyone's way.  Much less to say, I passed it and as I did, I watched it in my rear view mirror and wondered what type of moron would park that thing in the center lane if it wasn't meant to do the same speeds as everyone else.  I knew there was something poignant there, but couldn't quite put my finger on it.

Next up, I'm not a fan of rap music, but the other night, I watched the trailer for the film "The Hangover".  We've had a running joke in our guild's raid in World of Warcraft for a while now about "The Wolfpack", and our raid leader giving one of our raiders a hard time and saying "he wasn't in the wolfpack" when in truth, he's a part of the core of the guild but doesn't really realize it and sort of takes it for granted.  Anyhow, on the trailer of the film was the rapper T.I.'s song "Live my life" featuring the songbird Rihanna.

Ok, here's the tune...

and here is a link to the lyrics...

Ok, T.I.'s rap is actually very applicable to raiding in World of Warcraft.  Ever since one of our guild's 10-man's acquired their Kingslayer title, two players in that group seem to think they're better than everyone else.  Lately, we've had those two people air their feelings to the rest of us and they've basically said that they're too good to bring their mains on a run we're doing for fun because it's not serious progression and it's a waste of their time for their main to go because in their estimation we're not good enough not to wipe all evening.  Hence, a wipe would be an insult to their toon and below their "stellar" play.

It seems as the acquisition of their Kingslayer title has made it so their shit will never stink again.  Ok, there's a problem there.  The same guy who basically called us all fail and that we were below him brought his alt Rogue along, died several times to stupid things and even wiped the raid once or twice.  Ok, well, hi, if you're going to say everyone around you is fail, you sure as hell better not fail (on whatever toon you bring) in front of people because you're going to look like shit. 

It's T.I.'s lines...

I'm the opposite of moderate, immaculately polished with
The spirit of a hustler and the swagger of a college kid
Allergic to the counterfeit, impartial to the politics
Articulate but still would grab a brother by the collar quick

Whoever having problems with, their record sales just holla Tip
If that don't work and all else fails, then turn around and follow Tip
I got love for the game but ay I'm not in love with all of it
'Could do without the fame and the rappers nowadays are comedy

The hootin' and the hollerin', back and forth with the arguing
Where you from, who you know, what you make and what kind of car you in
Seems as though you lost sight of what’s important with the positive
And checks until your bank account and you up out of poverty

Your values is a disarray, prioritizing horribly
Unhappy with your riches cause you're piss poor morally
Ignoring all prior advice and forewarning
And we mighty full of ourselves all of a sudden aren't we?

Ok, so there it is, my point of view laid out rather nicely by a very unlikely source, a rapper.  However, he says it well...


I'm not the most conventional raider, I'm off-beat and I'm not an "it's life or death if we wipe" kind of player.  I'm well-geared, well-versed in the strats and most people will agree, I'm a good player but I'm not arrogant enough to think I'm great.  Everything has nutritional value, so even if we fail, there are lessons to be taken away for every single person there.  No one is 100% perfect all the time.  But, I'm still young at heart and I've got the mindset of a young person, I try to make everything I'm involved in fun.  I hate fake people, opportunists and people who use other people.  That's definitely not my speed and I'll bust down on people who try to pull bullshit in front of me.

In my guild, if anyone has problems, they come see me.  If we don't get it solved right away, I'll find a way to solve it eventually.  I love playing with my guildies and hanging out, but I'm not in love with all of guild life.  I could go without the politics, without the drama and all the other rah-rah, but it's part and parcel of the game so I take the good with the bad and try to see the positive, but raiding ICC as a whole, like T.I. says, is a comedy.  We've got a 20% damage & healing buff that can make any group able to down the Lich King and let's face it, our first 10-man group to get through all of the content wouldn't have been able to win the final Lich King fight without the buff.  They said it themselves.  So it's really a joke that two of our Kingslayers are running around thinking their shit doesn't stink.

I actually think it's funny all this drama they're creating with all of their bragging and posturing, placing themselves up high as elite when the truth is, they're just as fallible as the rest of us, if not more.  When we brought them into the guild, they were in blues (sub-epic horrible gear).  We geared them in cream of the crop epics, we bled with them, we helped them out, but here they are telling us that we suck.  I think they should be grateful that we gave them half a chance to join our guild and welcomed them with open arms.  Like T.I. says, they've lost sight of what's important and they've made showing up all about themselves and not the team.

It's evident, their values and priorities have become out of whack.  Unhappy now with the guildies who's backs they rode on to get where they are, it's like what T.I. says, they've become piss poor morally.  I warned both of them three months ago to slow down or they were going to burn out, that things weren't life and death and that they needed to understand the guild is consistent.  Sometimes it's consistent in a good way, other times it's consistent in a bad way.  But there they were telling all the folks in the guild who have showed up and bled day after day that we're the problem, not them and as I listened to the song on iTunes, the line hit me like a ton of bricks...

And we mighty full of ourselves all of a sudden aren't we?

While I heard that person down on our entire guild, it was a moment I wanted to scream..."That's the pot calling the kettle black, isn't it?"  Don't bitch about people being bad players when you're not so great yourself.

And now we get back to the slow ass fire truck in the middle lane of the freeway...

There is a vast difference between perception and reality.  The driver of that firetruck probably thought that he was doing just fine in the center lane and everyone is going too fast...while the rest of us going by know...

Traffic is flowing.  The guy who thinks we're all too fast...well, he's the one that's too damn slow.

We're being poisoned by the pollution spewing from the slow poke in the middle of the road.
One phrase will cover it...

Get that piece of shit out of the way, we've got places to be and my hybrid Prius...well, I don't pollute half as much as some others do. 

So, I had a great day with my sister, encountered some rather silly people who overestimate their capabilities and heard a great song that put things in perspective.

As I've said before, "The Human Race Never Fails To Disappoint Me."  Well, ya gotta take the good with the bad and get the nutritional value out of it.

I'll be watching my speedometer and the folks around me next time I get into the fast lane, it's the least I can do.

It's all about awareness.  Some people have it, others don't, and the ones who don't are the ones who cause the accidents.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rough Nights

We covered potholes.  It's ok, they happen.  You bounce through them and move on.

Then, there are the rough nights.

Last night, I had trouble sleeping.  It's not the first night it's happened either.  But last night was one I hadn't really experienced before.

I was all tucked in bed, snuggled up and happy in my cute little blue flowered pajamas, re-reading one of my favorite books, Sherrilyn Kenyon's "Seize the Night", and yes, it's a romance novel.  Reading the story, which is really good...you know, Dark-Hunters, Daimons, Acheron, the whole bit...and as I put my "love" book mark in the book, closed it, put it on my nightstand and turned off the light, out of nowhere I realize that I've said goodbye to my baby-young looks and that no guy would ever look at me like they used to. I sucked it up and realized that I'm not easy to live with and can be patience-testing difficult (to put it nicely).  After taking those things into account, an overwhelming fact hit me:  no matter how successful I become, I'm destined to be alone.

At that moment of epiphany, I started to cry.  BIG cry.  Crying over one simple fact: I don't want to be alone for the rest of my life.  I sat up in the bed, grabbed a tissue and just wept.

When you're going through the process called post-marriage it's never easy.  No one came and sold me a bill of goods that said it would be.  But there are days where you just can't help but sit down and cry.  I've had more good days than bad, so to have one really bad night out of 100 isn't too shabby.  However, when you're going through a rough night, you don't even begin to remember the 99 that were good.  All you know is that you're hurting in that moment.

I laid there inconsolably crying for a good 15 minutes and then got up the gumption to tell myself everything was going to be ok.  I told myself I needed to breathe in and out, that I'd feel better in a little bit.  I marched myself to the medicine cabinet and between sobs, I popped a Xanax so I could calm down and finally get to sleep. 

I hate the rough nights when I have them.  There is no consoling to be had because there's really no one here but me.  But, as I told myself to calm down, I reminded myself, the first person who needs to console me and know I'm going to feel better is me.  Yes, it would be nice to have someone to cry on, but really, it doesn't need to come from someone else, it needs to come from inside me.

So I turned on CNN.com for a minute, looked over the news stories for the Gulf Disaster, a couple of pieces from the entertainment section and realized, hey, I don't have it so bad.  My family loves me, my friends think highly of me, and even though I may be a 'self-contained unit' at the moment, the world keeps on spinning and even though my night was rough, the sun was going to come up, then it was going to set in the evening and nothing could ever change that.  It was a giant billboard that said:

Keep moving forward.

Monday, June 14, 2010

PMS and Raiding

I'm starting to think it would be a good idea to take off one week per month from raiding in WoW.  Yep, I don't think my PMS mixes well with it because I get very easily annoyed with the normal stupidity that goes on.  Last night I got REALLY annoyed.  Not my usual snippy annoyed, but rather the very rare 'pissed off to high heaven' annoyed.

A good majority of the time, I'm a cool cucumber at raid time.  I take time to make sure I've got my reagents, flasks, food, fish feasts and have done my nightly pre-raid ritual, which is to go to the bathroom, make sure I have something to drink, maybe a snack, and then I'm ready to go.  After I get started, it's 3 hours of raid time.  No biggie.  I've done it 3 nights a week for almost 2 years.  But, I don't know what it is, on our 25-man nights, it's never very eventful, everyone behaves, I have fun and it's all good.  Part of the deal is that I think my raid leader has everyone so intimidated that they don't bother to speak up because they know a proper smackdown would come their way if they even thought of getting out of line.

Then comes the 10-mans, which have been a clusterbomb from the word "go".  My group, right now in the mood I'm in, I can't help but have my eyes roll up into the back of my head.  I've got two basic options.  I either go with my raid leader if they have room and then I feel like I'm out of my league, or I go with my usual group which has always been a gigantic clusterbomb and sit for three hours grinding my teeth.  It's not a happy situation, so I've basically come to the conclusion that I'm hosed either way I go.

Last night's raid was just horrible.  But, not in the way you would expect.  To most folks, you could say it was a fantastic raid night because we wiped maybe twice and we got 10 out of 12 bosses down in just 3 hours.  Used to, we couldn't even get 6 in 3 hours.  Big improvement.  No, my problem was of an entirely different nature.  We have a crew of young men, and I stress YOUNG because that is the only excuse I can come up with for their rancid behavior.  I've started to limit my play time a lot because of these young men who just find that their mission and purpose is to be a flaming pack of assholes.  Hubris, arrogance, being foul, inappropriate remarks, ugh, the list just goes on and on about how they just could not keep their mouths shut.  Yes, I know, this is the nature of insecure heterosexual males.  They've got no common sense and they just show their asinine behavior so that their friends will think they are cool.  To a 38 year-old woman, their antics are just NOT cool.

I'm trying to blame it on my PMS.  I really am.  Maybe my nerves are so frayed that their antics are just the icing on the cake to turn my mood from cheerful to foul.  I was in a good mood when I came in, but then what do we get?  People pulling early, people who won't shut up, even after I yell, "Tanner, SHUT IT" it still continued.  My guildies know that if you hit my shit list, well, it's going to take some work to get off of it.  My patience is legendary, I give people enough rope and I see what they do with it.  But, when they've hung themselves, it's katy-bar-the-door, my patience runs out and you get to hear some very tactful and not so kind words headed your way.  Tonight, I had not one, but three land on my list and as I became eerily quiet during the raid, someone said, "Oh no, she's gone quiet, we're ALL in trouble."  Thing is, she was right.  When the raid was done, I left the group and promptly shut off the game.  I was not going to allow them another second of my time to annoy me.  First off, I don't like being annoyed; Second, I don't want to chew a head off and have to apologize for it later, it's a 'you don't have to apologize for words you don't say' kind of thing.

All I know is that there are a crew of young people who are lucky I'm not really their mom.  Heads would have been dangling from necks by just a piece of skin after I removed them with a sharp blade.  My mom always said I've got a tongue so sharp it'd clip a hedge.  Well, those boys (and girl) nearly about had their head handed to them, lucky for them, I had the common sense to just walk out and not say another damn word.

You know, just for the record, it's not polite to push people's buttons.  You want to be an ass, fine, just don't do it around me.  I have no time for drunks or perverts in my raid, they are people who I refuse to waste my valuable time on.

So, I go 10 out of 12 and it's through a very painful process.  I have given up hope of ever getting my Kingslayer title.  I know it'll never be through 10-man, the pack of folks I have to go with I'm convinced don't have the gumption or the half-sense to get it right.  On the other hand, there's the 25-man, it's got the 10 who are really good with the other 4 in my group that are decent but need heavy supervision from the raid leader.  Then there are the other 10 who can't find their ass from a hole in the ground, who either don't show up, don't know their class, pull idiotic stunts and what-all, ensuring that I'll never see my kingslayer and speaks the inevitable truth:

I'm wasting my time.

I hope to the gods I'm just having world stopping PMS.  I sure hope it's the case.  But, if I know nothing about the people I play WoW with, they're consistent.  Yeah, you guessed it, not all, but some of them are consistent assholes.  It's days like yesterday that make me question things, but at the end of the day, it's going to be a whole ton of fun watching those folks suck up to get off of my shit list.  Let me tell you, hell is going to get pretty cold before some of them ever see me do anything for them ever again.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I've become more and more convinced that recovering from a break-up is a long winding road of ever-constant potholes.  Just when you think you've gotten to a smooth stretch of highway and you're going to reach cruising speed...


Another pothole.

Of course, the pothole has taken the scorching hot cup of coffee in your hand and ceremoniously dumped it in your lap.  Strings of obscenities fly, private parts are being burnt to a crisp and your whole body is doing the freaked-out mambo of OMG!  HOT!  Owwwww!  Along with the search for anything that can dry your now dampened spirits.

Then you get pissed about the pothole.

Why's it there?  Why can't these people fix the road?  On and on it goes and becomes one long session of anger management therapy, wanting to throttle the dummy who made the pothole in the road and subsequently caused the burning of your private parts, ruining your clothes and otherwise ruining your moment.

My pothole of the day was my kitchen.  While my ex lived here, he loved nothing more than to clutter things.  You know this, I know this, we've covered it for how many times now?  Well, today, because my server is down in World of Warcraft, I've decided to take that time to really work on the apartment.  Today's bill of fare, the kitchen cabinets and counter tops.

Let's set this up for you.  My kitchen isn't the world's biggest.  It's big enough for two people to move around in fairly efficiently.  You add a third, and it's all over, someone has to go.  The counter tops and cupboards are not the most space efficient.  There's tons of wasted space and I've had to creatively deal with it over the years.  In the entire time the ex lived here, the kitchen became the catch-all for things that really didn't have space to be stored.  The corner next to my laundry room became a mass of tea bags, granola bars, bags of chips, you name it, if it was an odd or an end, it ended up in that corner.

For years, that corner and I have been at odds.  I tried so many times to keep it clean and organized, but the ex always seemed to screw it up in one way or another.  So, I eventually gave up and just let it go, much like I did the rest of the apartment.  You know when you're trying to stay organized and someone else just won't go along with how it's organized because they're a slob?  Yeah.  That's what I was dealing with.

I must have thrown out at least a half pound of tea and teabags.  I don't drink tea, I don't like tea and I most certainly don't serve tea.  So, out they went.  Then I went on to the numerous things that he left behind that I couldn't believe I was finding.  This is what I get for procrastinating about cleaning the kitchen.  All of the things I found should have been gone a year ago, but being as that my habits are fairly entrenched, I was screwed from the get-go.  So, I stepped up today and finally threw out the countless bags of Carnation Instant Breakfast (ewwwww) and other things that were hidden beneath a mile of other garbage, filling a garbage bag in the process. 

Before I get up to the high cabinets, let me relay some details.  I'm 5'5.  I'm a half-pint at best.  I'm not tall, but the ex was 6'4.  Guess who did all the stuff up high?  You got it!  Him.  So, today I grabbed a chair out of my bedroom closet to stand on so I could get to the cabinets and their contents that are too high for me to ordinarily reach.  Ok, wait, before you say "why the hell was there a chair in the closet?", you've gotta hear about this one.  We had a kitchen table for years that we really loved.  Finally, when his first wife sent over his furniture, which consists of a really long 12 seat dining table, our old kitchen set was dismantled and taken down to our garage/storage area.  Well, I don't know what is wrong with that man, but he hadn't bothered to take two of the chairs to our old set down to storage, so he put them in my bedroom closet.  Ok, are you getting the picture of what a tool this guy was?  I hope to goodness you are, because at least you're just having to read about it.  I had to live with it.  For 10 years.  It's ok, you can shudder, I do it every day.
So, with chair in hand, I take it to the kitchen to stand on it and clean out the cabinets that are far too high for me to reach.  What do I find?  Old spice jars, a cracked vase, a mason jar that has no purpose, two sets of hideous bowls his mother just thought we HAD to have, but then came the cherry on the cake.

When we were living in Montreal, his mother, demon spawn that she is, brings over this set of three foot long, I'm not even kidding, these things are EACH a yard long (if not more), and ugly as hell, wooden fork and spoon.  They're wall hangings for a dining area, I get it, my mom had a pair...back in the 70's.  So, what do I find on my plant shelf?  Like opening the door and finding Frankenstein on the other side, I find the gargantuan fork and spoon.  What the heck am I supposed to do with them?  They sure as hell aren't going on my walls!  I remember when I told my friends in There.com about this fork and spoon.  One guy popped up and said, "Yeah, you can chase people around like a samurai warrior with this giant spoon."  He subsequently threatened to make a 3D model of them as a hand-held prop.  They became this big running joke.  But, from the view from the top of the chair in the kitchen, there they were.  My eyes bulged out of their sockets, my body temperature rose as my face became red as a beet, my blood pressure started to rise and just as I was about to lose it and send them flying off the balcony, I realized that all of his belongings that are still in my apartment are just one long anger management course.  So, realizing that, I stepped down off the chair and went out onto my balcony to breathe in and out, relaxing enough so that I didn't do anything silly.  Truth told, I'm so tempted to toss it all in the garbage, as I should have done 7 years ago, but somehow, I think it would be better that he had them back.  So I guess their ultimate fate is to land in storage with the rest of the crap I found today.

So, making room and reducing clutter, I finally found room for my vases!  I was so excited!

Then it was on to my cabinet that holds my spices on the bottom shelf.  Y'all would have cringed as I tossed out so much stuff that was past it's due date.  Half of the cabinet is now empty.  Then, I went to the shelves above that, organizing my storage containers, discarding old plastic lids that went with containers that no longer exist, cleaning out piece after piece that has no use whatsoever, but the ex just HAD to keep them. 

Finally, I reached the cupboards above the fridge.  I knew what one side held, my wrapped crystal cobalt blue glasses my Aunt Bonnie gave me, but the other side, I had no idea what he had put there...well, as I opened the cabinet, I thought better than to continue because my patience was already frayed, my restraint had felt it's limits, so I let the two packages of Egg Nog goblets (with mix) alone.  Those, as you can guess, are going to Goodwill.

So, as you can imagine, I hit one hell of a pothole today.  If you've ever driven in Montreal or anywhere in Quebec for that matter, you'd know that every time you turn around, you're hitting a pothole.  So, as I sit sighing at the thought that I was actually stupid enough to import potholes from Montreal, at least my kitchen is well on it's way to becoming a clutter-free, well organized space.

I hate potholes.  LOL. But, it's one simple lesson, everything has nutritional value right?  The pothole I hit showed it's nutritional value as something distasteful and something I won't consume again.  We're always learning new lessons, right?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Nutritional Value

Now, I know that's an odd title for a blog post, but my day yesterday was all about food.

If you knew me, you'd know that I forget to eat.  I do, it slips my mind.  I'm not a foodie like my friend Heidi, she makes penguins out of olives and cream cheese.  No, I'm more of a necessity eater...I eat out of necessity, only when I'm hungry, and it usually doesn't have to be something contrived or well thought out or whatever.  I'm simple.  I like comfort foods and I'm usually not too adventurous either.  I live in a world where I order my hamburgers without onions, if I can avoid peppers, I do at all costs unless my recipe calls for bell peppers and onions that are cooked well and meant to season a casserole I'm making.  When I cook mushrooms to go with a steak, I cook them with onions and then pick through the onions to get to the mushrooms.  What's the point of using the onion then, right?  I just do it for the flavoring.  What can I say?  I'm a picky eater.

Something else you'd know if you knew me really well is that all my big ideas always come to me when I'm in the shower.  Odd, I know.  Some people get their big thoughts on the treadmill at the gym, other people go for walks, some just sit in the dark.  For me, if I need a big idea, I hit the shower.  I'd like to think it's something related to the steam or heat of the water, but, really, I think it's because my mind relaxes when I smell the wonderful soaps and shampoos I have.  My favorite scent in the whole world is coconut.  My Bath and Body Works repertoire of scents stay with the fruits, from Coconut Lime Verbena to Black Raspberry Vanilla, Strawberry Lemonade to Freshwater Cucumber.  To me, there is no more fantastic smell than the one of Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil.  My favorite drink is even with coconut, my ever famous Malibu Madras, which is Malibu coconut flavored rum mixed with orange juice and cranberry juice.  I even order it with heavy cranberry because it makes the flavor of the coconut shine through even more.  It's Vitamin C with a kick for me, besides the fact it tastes like Coconut Kool-aid or some sort of tropical smoothie.  But I digress, I need to get back on topic of the shower and my big idea.

Ok, so I'm in the shower, the tropical smells are hitting me and just as I'm kicking myself for forgetting to go to the mall to pick up more Clinique face soap, I started to think about what I was going to make myself for dinner. Suddenly something in me just craved a salad.  Now, I'm usually not one to crave salads for dinner.  I'm usually very freaky when it comes to dinnertime.  I like to make sure I'm eating some sort of big meal, such as a steak or pork chops or a roast or something with a lot of protein in it, and it has to be a hot meal.  Otherwise, I get freaked out and feel like I'm starving.  But, standing in the shower, I was overwhelmed by a need for a crab and hearts of palm salad.  The thought of a salad I'd not had in a long time was just too delicious to ignore, and being as I eat alone, there was nothing to stop me from driving to the store, getting what I needed and making myself a phenomenal salad.

After my shower was finished, I primped and preened, only so much as to not look like I'd been through the wringer all day long and was nice to look at, I dressed, threw on my flip-flops, grabbed my purse and headed for the local grocery store.

First stop, the produce section, I grab a head of Romaine lettuce, carrots and a couple of tomatoes.

Second stop, the canned food aisle where I searched for jars of hearts of palm, but no luck, they only had cans.  So, I grab a can of hearts of palm.

Third stop, the meat counter to pick up some imitation crab meat.  (I'm on a budget, ok?)

Fourth stop, I grab a can of black olives and a bottle of Italian salad dressing.

While I was in the produce section, I picked up a package of cherries (another favorite food) and a cantaloupe so I have some fresh fruit to snack on for something sweet around the apartment (remember, I don't like candy very much).  Then, since I was out of juice, I grabbed a bottle of apple juice and a bottle of black cherry soda (another pair of favorites).

So with all of my shopping needs covered for my salad plus a few needed extras, I hit the checkout line.

Lugging all of my groceries up the stairs in one trip (big smile on my face being able to do that), I put away the juice and soda pop in the fridge then grab a pasta bowl and begin to construct my salad.

I washed the lettuce, then cut it into pieces, then, as Remy said in "Ratatouille", I composed the salad like I was painting a picture. Greens on the bottom, then I chopped the hearts of palm into small bite size pieces, then doing the same with the crab, then I cut up a whole tomato and threw it in there, then threw the carrots and olives on, finishing it by drizzling the dressing gently over the top.

I sat on my couch for over an hour just savoring this fantastic salad.  I filled myself so full of fresh veggies that I was almost ready to pop.  It was the most satisfying meal I had made myself in a long time, and I do have to admit, I've only ever made that salad when I've entertained, with lots of people around to enjoy it, and then I only get a nibble or two of it because I'm busy in the kitchen or serving to really take the time to enjoy what I've created.  That was the first time I've ever really gotten to enjoy a salad of my own personal creation that wasn't at a restaurant salad bar or at a place like Sweet Tomatoes.  I thought of what I wanted on it, went and got the ingredients, then put it together and ate it.  It was fantastic!

What made it even more amazing was that I only dirtied my cutting board, a knife, a bowl and a fork.  I made a fantastic meal that was minimal on clean-up too!  I'm sorry, but I'm just so amazed by it all.  I grew up in a family that if you didn't destroy half the kitchen with dirty dishes in the process of making a meal, well, it just wasn't any good.  Well, there I was, having only dirtied up four things and I had a meal fit for a king (or queen in my case).

The thing that I just kept saying to myself over and over again was, "Hey, it's my dinner, I'll eat what I want!"  Now, I know that sounds childish or immature, but really, it's not.  You have to like what you eat.  How do you expect to feed yourself if you don't like what's going down the hatch?  The other part was that the salad I made was so incredibly healthy!  It had protein, roughage, good veggies with plenty of nutritional value to do my body tons of good.

Nutritional value.  Have y'all noticed that it's my saying du jour?  I keep going back to that phrase, because I think that we can find nutritional value out of everything and everyone.  When you interact with someone, they have a certain nutritional value to your person.  Come on, think about it.  If you have a friend that's tons of fun and you're feeling down, what does that person do for you?  They lift you up.  That lift you get or the fun they inspire is the nutritional value they've given you.  Then there are the people around us that make us think.  They challenge us with different questions about the world, they fuel our curiosity with their own.  That spark of curiosity and wonder they give you is their nutritional value.  Everything, from the food you put into your body, to the people you surround yourself with, to the books we read, the media we watch, it's all nothing but different types of nutrition coming into your body. Whether it's consumed by your eyes, mind or digestive system, it's all got some sort of value.

Think about the eye-candy movies we watch.  You could say they were a waste of time, but, if you look at it as a serving of junk food that's fun to consume, well, that's it's nutritional value.  It's just fun and it nurtures your spirit with it's energy.

So, while I'm amazed at the wonderful nutritional value of  the salad I made last night, I try to remember to be grateful for the rest of the nutritional value I get out of every day.  Whether it's from my friends, the movies I go see, and the people I meet, it's all food for the soul.

At least it's healthy and it makes me feel great.

So, today, do yourself a favor, find the nutritional value in everything that surrounds you.  You'll be amazed at what you'll find.

Also, I've opened up the comments section, so tell me about the cool things you've found nutritional value in.  Remember, it's not only food that provides nutritional value.

Have a great day everyone!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Stumbling around in the dark and bumping into things...

I'm convinced that recovery from dumpster marriages is such a long term proposition.  It's disentangling yourself from years and years of habits, mingled energies, and it's the beginning of an unlikely rediscovery of self.   But to rediscover yourself and come out better on the other side I think takes a bit of time to examine your life as a whole and figure out the magic phrase...

"What do I want?"

To get to that moment when you find out what you really want out of life, you have to look at the past and how it's shaped you and your habits, even down to the weird quirks.  My weird quirk?  Cussing in French.  I try not to do it anymore because that was the ex's language, not mine.  That's him cussing, not me.

We had always agreed that there were 3 entities living in our house...Him, Me, and Us.  That we would see things together and do things for the "us" part but there were still two individuals that made up the "us" and they were special too.  A lot of people lose their identities when they get married, but it was my hope that I could keep mine perfectly intact because I had never really been an individual of my own or had a taste of freedom.

I remember when I was about to be married.  My family and I had taken a trip to Missouri for my nephews 16th birthday.  My nephew is such a sweetie...I love him so much.  But, the catch of it all was that my birthday just happens to be 10 days after my nephews, so my mom and sister, in their wisdom, decided that since I was living in Canada and wasn't likely to get a bridal shower before the wedding, that they would come up with an impromptu shower and hook my birthday right into it while we were all together in Missouri.

My birthday cake that year was a wedding cake topper.  I looked at the cake and realized that my identity, as far as my family was concerned, was inextricably tied to my fiancee, that yes, it was my birthday, but it was more important to them that I was getting married.  His identity had become mine in their eyes, whether I liked it or not.  I sat looking at that hideous, off-the-grocery-store-shelf cake, filled with disgusting blue candy flowers and white, pasty icing, and realized to them, I had no identity, that I was really just a by-product of life to be shoved, told to get out of the way and for the most part, treated as if I were invisible.  He was more important to them than I was and that hurt me deeply.  We were supposedly equals at our house and I go alone on the trip to Missouri without him and who do they celebrate?  Him. 

I looked at the cake and my face betrayed what was going on in my head.  I was angry, but when asked what was the matter, I thought of the effort they had made to at least recognize the events in my life and thought better than to speak ill of their efforts.  On one hand I was grateful to be remembered, but on the other hand, I was pissed.  I think I had every right to be.  A birthday is a celebration of a life, so to have my birthday shoved aside and mixed with my wedding was just in bad taste.  I was really insulted.  But, just to add the cherry to that cake, my birthday present was a blender.  Ok, let's just be clear, the only time I've ever used a blender is to make milkshakes for my dad or to make health shakes for my ex.  I had and still have no earthly use for a blender, but there in the bag was a brand new blender.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to throw the whole table over and just walk away, destroying that abomination of a birthday cake.

To be honest, I'd rather forget that day.  I would have much rather that they just left my birthday the hell alone and just let me enjoy the time around my nephew.  I'm sure they didn't mean to be insulting, but it's the forethought of how people react to what you do and say is where the juice really is.  That's where you are aware enough to realize that a human being isn't just an inconvenience, it's not something you put an act or a show for, it's where you embrace them for who they are, not who they are married to, not what they can do for you, no...it's a moment where you recognize all of their special gifts, that they are special as an individual, that even if they were standing in the middle of nowhere, buck naked, they'd still be special.

It's 10 years ago today that I met my ex.  He wasn't the brightest bulb in the box back then either, a workaholic to the last.  But I resonated with him for ONE really good reason, he saw me for ME.  He told me that it was ok to be rebellious but there were cool ways to do it, that I should always make my words kind, gentle and tasteful, that pain is only temporary and that no matter how old you are, you can always learn something new.  That's what I got out of my time with my ex and they were all done within the first two years we were together.  The rest?  Well, it was a pack of lies.  It was reverse engineering all of the great things I had discovered about myself in those first two years.  The remaining five years we were married were an exercise in lying to the public, me being intolerably lonely, forced to live in his shadow, putting on happy faces in front of people, then when we got home, he went to his end of the house while I went into the home office.  It was really sad.

But, I look at the volume of things over the last ten years.  One thing I discovered about myself just recently is that I'm still cool.  I'm also still beautiful...as said by a pack of young men in a truck as I was filling up my gas tank..."Hot babe in a Prius!"  I laughed.  I'm approaching 39, and I can say that yeah, I'm still hot, I look nowhere near my age.  A little too fluffy maybe...I'm 20 pounds away from my ideal weight, but still, to look at me, it's not that bad.  But, looks are really just that, an appearance.  It's purely external, it says nothing for what lives and breathes on the inside.

I'm still battling with demons from my marriage.  I'm still lethargic.  I still stay up all night on the computer when any reasonable person would be in bed.  But these are habits that were reinforced for ten years.  Not easy to break habits like that.  But, things are changing day by day.  There are things that I'm noticing that I've been nodding my head and going "yeah" as I finish the entirety of my laundry, that the kitchen is staying clean, that my bathrooms are clean, the floor is uncluttered, the garbage has been taken out, everything is dusted...and I look around and realize that while it did take me a while to really feel the momentum, well, it's happening and I'm changing.

I still get angry about my ex.  I still find stupid things that he's done.  I don't like to dwell on it and to be honest, I don't even like thinking about him, much less writing my umpteenth blog entry on him, but there is something therapeutic about realizing the only reason I still do that is because I have nothing else to distract my attention from it in my every day life.  When I sit down to play WoW with my friends, well, all that goes away and I don't think about him and how I've wasted the first 37 years of my life.  No, it becomes ultimately more simple.  It's something to be accomplished and I go in and get it done.  It's like school.  When I'm in school and have papers to write and things to do, his little idiocies go away.  I'm focused on me.

Now I know that sounds selfish to focus on yourself, but really, if you're not happy, how are you going to make someone else that way?  Will all of yours or my future relationships have to pay the price for a dumpster marriage or relationships gone sour?  They shouldn't.  The future shouldn't have to pay the piper for all of the ill mistakes we've made in the past.  A lot of it is building the bridge and getting over the sour to enjoy the sweet.

I do need to get out more.  I just don't have anywhere to go right now.  I wish my phone would ring off the hook with job offers or something, but it doesn't.  I'm still disconnected and I'm still afraid of making those same mistakes.  But, slowly but surely, like the apartment, things will change.

It's like a song I heard, "The old paint is peeling, this is that fresh feeling."  And it's breathing in and out, and doing things in my own way and realizing, I'm ok, that I still need to face the demons of the past, grabbing each emotion and memory, wringing it out, learning from the mistakes, letting the past be the past and take a step into a new day and new emotions.

I think sometimes you have to stumble around in the dark, especially after long relationships have ended.  It gives you time to reflect, to heal and to realize that you are special.  It shouldn't take a birthday cake or a present or anything else to realize that, you should just know it in your heart.  So when that hideous birthday cake does land in your lap, well, it's ok because those are things that we can shrug off, then look in the mirror and know that all the disgusting blue candy flowers in the world can't come close to damaging the fun and happy daisy that lies within.

It's funny, while I was stumbling in the dark, I bumped into myself...and it's nice to meet me again.

Well, it's a new day, time to get on to new things.

For your enjoyment, the song that inspired the post..."Fresh Feeling" by the Eels.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The days online worlds wear you down...

It's a big world.  On planet Earth there are billions and billions of people, each with their own dramas, their own way of living their lives and so forth.

Then there are the millions upon millions who play in online worlds.  Ok, I'm torn on what kind of individuals gravitate towards online worlds, whether they be ones based on puzzles, like Uru, or combat, like WoW or just a social outlet, such as Second Life or any number of brand-new social worlds that are just based on hanging out with people and being virtual consumers.

Every single online world out there is a social world, but I've found that in solely social online worlds, i.e. Second Life, they are usually filled with lonely people or ones with some sort of emotional retardation.  The social retards make up the majority, but while the ones who suck the life out of you and/or cause you to lose IQ points are there in great abundance, I have remarkably found one group of friends that has lasted through 2 online worlds that are not emotionally retarded in the least.  They just hang out in social worlds for fun and contact with friends far away.  I have no issue with them, but as in all circles of friends, we do have those one or two emotional retards that gravitate toward us.  When it comes to those folks, I run every time they get near me, and when I get an e-mail from them, I immediately feel violated or contaminated in some way.  So rather than get sucked into their melodramatic lives, I don't hesitate, I immediately delete any type of correspondence they send my way. I'm on a drama-free diet.  You don't like it?  Tough.

In my adventures in Online worlds, my least favorite people are the needy ones.  I'm not going to get into the nitty gritty, but when I see on Facebook a "woe is me" entry from someone I added as a friend just out of courtesy to my close friends, I just shudder.  Ok, if I've said it once, I'll say it again, "Desperation is the world's WORST cologne", if you put it out there that you're desperate for attention, you'll drive people away in droves.  I'm sorry but I refuse to be a guest at their personal pity party.  I've got a life that's not always easy (who's is?), and I'm not my own guest of honor at my own personal pity party, so I sure as hell am not going to partake in theirs.

Some people just can't quite come to grips with the fact that their problems are not ours, nor do we want them to be, but still they lay it on thick with their woes and problems and expect us to fix it for them.  My friends know, if you have a problem and I can help fix it, I'm all-hands-on-deck, but when it's something no one can possibly do anything to affect any sort of change in the situation, that gets annoying really fast.  It's not because I'm being elitist or anything like that, it's because those people are so desperate for attention that they cling.  No one likes a clinger, especially me.  Tell me your good news and move on, otherwise, please remember I have a life and it's not all wine and roses, but when it's not, I don't hang it around other people's necks.  I communicate with my close friends, let them know what's going on, then just leave it be, they don't need to know the details, if they ask, I tell, but I don't make it my life's mission to make sure everyone hurts with me, or worse, pities me.  If something annoys me or is something I find conversation worthy, I post it in my blog.  If you want to read it, do, if you want to skip over the drama, move on.  It's easier that way.  But one thing you will never find me doing is sending out a "woe is me" wah-wah Facebook entry.  It's bullshit when people do that.  It sucks the life out of people.  You want good?  Send out good vibes, you'll get them in return.

Now when you're in a team activity, such as raiding in World of Warcraft, social and emotional retardation become magnified.  There is no two ways about it.  From general and trade chat on down to guild chat, there are not a whole lot of people with common sense to pee on or even have the slightest notion of common courtesy.  When you have a 25-person raid and only 18 show up, that's 7 people who have screwed 18 others over.  I don't care what the raid leader is like or what the guild policies are, if you say you're going to show up, you show up!  If you're going to blow it off, hit "tentative" on your invitation to the event, don't just say that you'll be there, then screw over the people that are counting on you to be there by blowing it off.  That's rude.

Now, I'd rather step on my fingers than say something bad about any of my guildies, I love them all.  But, we've got a few people who think it's ok to come to the raid without flasks or reagents, go away from keyboard before a pull, and decide that during our raid time, where we've taken time out to make sure they could go with us, they ultimately believe that their life and time is more precious than the rest of ours.  If you think your time is more valuable than the rest of ours, think again.  You don't see me getting up and farting around my house, phasing out or any other sort of dipshit thing before a pull or directly after a wipe or a boss falling.  NO.  When I sit down to raid, I'm on time.  As a matter of fact, I'm early most of the time. I go to the bathroom, get my drink and get all of my other pre-raid rituals out of the way before we get underway. I am very aware that the other people inside the raid are counting on me to do my job, not lag behind, not go afk and most certainly they expect me (as I expect from them) to give a shit about what we're doing.

One of my dearest friends who I love more than anyone in the world is one of my guildies.  I've watched them play with great heart and know-how, but it's seasoned with a lot of horrible and inconsiderate raid habits.  I've gone to bat multiple times with the raid leader and guild master to get my friend an invitation for the 25-man raid because they've stopped inviting them because their raid habits so are inconsiderate (to put it kindly).  When the person I've stepped up for time and time again decides to go afk, fart around or phase out, they make me look like shit and since I've gone out on a limb for them and begged for their invite, it really ticks me off that they've used my good graces to get in then treat it as if it was nothing.  As Guild Mom, that makes me look terrible and throws my judgment into question and that's one thing I don't appreciate in the least.  Then they complain to me that they don't have a 'raider' rank like I do.

Ok, now I'm going to get in the dirt because I'm sick and tired of dealing with it.  Why do I have a 'raider' rank?  Because, I bring a whole hell of a lot of nutritional value to the raid.  When it comes to being solid as a player and as a part of the raid, I'm as solid as it gets.  I was dual-spec before there was even dual-spec capability.  I spent 4000 gold (for you non-WoWer's, that's in-world currency that you earn by doing in world activities such as quests) over six months making sure I could do my dailies every day and still be able to raid at night before there was even the notion of dual-spec.  It was countless trips to Moonglade at 50 gold a pop per respec for six months without question or hesitation to make sure I was doing my part for the raid.  Lucky for me, dual-spec came along when it did...now when they ask me to switch specs I switch, change flasks and food, re-buff, and in a matter of seconds, I'm ready to do any job they ask me to.  I bring fish feasts and I've laid them out time and time again, even months on end with customized macros.  I did thousands of handwritten questions for Pre-Raid Trivia so people could learn their strats.  I've shown up for almost every single raid night for almost the last two years (only being late a handful of times, but never by much and only missing a total of 10 raid nights), when I can't make a raid night, the raid leader and guild master know at least 24-48 hours in advance.  I always accept my invites on the calendar, when I sit down to raid, I do my job and know my strats.  I don't AFK and I most certainly don't "phase out".  I don't horseshit around.  I show up to do my part for the team.  I don't sit there and "I" this and "I" that, it's about the team goddamn it.  There is no "I" in T-E-A-M.  Either you're a team player or you're not.  It's just that simple.

I take care of my guildies.  I was voted the Heart of my guild for 2009 and I sure as hell hope I can win my title again for 2010 because I not only look after myself, but I'm taking care of 50 other people.  Making flasks, glyphs, armor kits, cutting gems, you name it, and I've always done it.  When people have a problem, who do they come see?  Mama Rel (a.k.a. ME).  Who has bailed people out, gone to bat for them time and time again?  I've bandaged skinned knees, put ice on wounded prides and kept track of a list of guildie's babies, birthdays, favorite foods and so forth.  I make sure every single person in our guild feels special and valued, but then I'm expected to not be insulted because you don't give a shit about a team I'm trying to help build and have nothing but ill things to say about how my efforts will or won't do?  That people don't give a shit?  Well people give a shit when they have a reason to.  When Mama Rel has bailed them out or taken care of them, don't you think there is a modicum of guilt that goes on if they feel they've let me down?  You better believe it pal.  That's the power of believing in and supporting people.  When they know that there is someone who's going to care about how they are doing and encourage their good habits and help them do better in guild life, they're more apt to take part and become more committed to the goals of the team.

Night after night I show up.  I do my rounds, I check on people, I take care of my daily quests and fit in my battlegrounds, arenas and other fun activities because WoW is my hobby.  BUT, I'm also a part of a team that raids end-game content.  I'm a team player and it wears me down when I have to deal with the bullshit I do just because people just don't 'get it' about how their actions directly affect not only one person, but an entire guild full of people.

It wears me down when I have to put up with it.  I'm the morale lady for my guild and it's not easy doing it day in and day out.  There are days I want to shoot people in the butt with my hunter's bow or give them a sharp claw straight in the behind.  But, what do I do?  I just let it go and I have fun because I love taking care of my guildies.  It's what I view as doing my part for the guild.  A contribution of time and energy to make being in our guild a fun and rewarding experience.

Yeah, all guilds have their drama and bullshit.  It's a team activity.  When you have more than just you around, there's going to be differences of opinion and all sorts of whathaveyou.  It's life!  It's family!  We all hurt and/or annoy our family members and people we're closest to the most.  When you're in a guild, you're a part of a team, whether it raids end-game or not.    When people aren't aware of the fact that their actions affect others inside the green lines of guild chat or over Ventrillo, they're the ones who ruin hobby and play time for others.  That's what makes me sad.   That a close friend is driving me up the wall, that's even worse.

But then, it's not all about just one or two or seven guildies ruining it for others...sometimes, you just have people who you think are going to be good players in your guild, but just end up eating up game time by becoming a big, fat lemon and you keep thinking the day they /gquit will be the day the entire guild wins epics all at the same time.

One of our guildies posted a great video the other day...one that the WoW'ers out there will enjoy:

The one y'all will recognize from me is the "Good gear bad player" scenario...it only gets about 10 seconds worth of time in the video, but, I did cover the hot points in my Dante's Inferno post a couple of months ago.  Here's what I told my guildies:

"The Good Geared Bad Player". That's been a major rantfest topic for me for a while now.

Here's a rare rant from Mama Rel:

I really hate the whole "gear score" phenomenon. I think it helps people lie about their skill and holds good groups back from being great. Every day, what do we see in trade chat, "LF X, Y & Z for ICC 10, please give GS and Achievements." Every time I see that, I wish to the gods that someone would come up with a Lemon Law for WoW. Nothing is worse than finding out you've brought a lemon into your group. A Lemon is a player with a great gear score but no freaking idea what to do with their toon, because ooh, it might be really shiny and pretty from the outside, but look out, it's what's under the hood that counts...and lemons, whether they are cars or players, no matter their appearance, just run like shit.

The ultimate thing not to do in front of me is have tremendous gear then play like crap. I am already banging my head against my own play issues trying to improve. I know there are things I can do to improve and I'm busting my butt trying to be better and play smarter. At least I know I'm trying...to see some lemon have gear that's great then do nothing with it...oh you could probably hear my teeth grind over vent because I've got one hell of a sour look on my face.

I've shared quite a few conversations with people that have asked me, "Rel, why do some individuals who are fantastically geared play like crap, then have the nerve to expect invites or believe they are entitled to one just because of their gear score?" I don't have an answer for them because I'd like to know the answer to that question myself. Nothing is worse than seeing a 3k+ gear scored lemon absolutely make sure to be the first to die by pulling aggro, standing in fire or some other noob move, then have the audacity to wonder why they died or blame a healer for their death. What's worse is those same people brag about their gear score, then do less damage than the tanks and wonder why they're not being invited. I'm sorry, but even under intense training with [my great class leader], no matter how hard I try, I just can't heal stupid. It's the one mechanic no healer can ever hope to heal through.

I loved the part at the end..."Try learning how to play your class, nub." Oh yes! They can buy mounts until the cows come home, have their umpteenth motorcycle built with the mountains of gold they have through playing the auction house, but heaven forbid taking that precious gold farming time and reallocating it to read a blog or go through forums to try to learn their class.

I know people in 245 gear that can shame people in 264. It's like what [our raid leader] once said, "You can't make chicken salad out of chicken shit." but I'll elaborate a bit more and say your gear score doesn't mean jack shit if you don't have the skill and know-how to go along with it.

If I've said it once, I've said it a MILLION times...

Gear doesn't define the player.

It's the player that defines the gear.

But also, it's the players that define the guild.

We pay a whole lot of money for our hobby.  I just wish some people would stop ruining it for others.  They can rectify the situation just by cleaning up their bad raid habits and their bad attitudes.  It's not easy being the Guild Mom, but I love it every single day because the people in my guild who are great players and great people, well, they make it all worth while.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Two posts in a single day?  OMG!  But, I was going through my e-mails, hoping to the gods that one of the thousands of resume's I've sent out is getting a nibble, and I saw my weekly e-mail from Fandango.com.  Going through, looking at the latest movies and movie blogs, I noticed one thing that made me a bit uneasy...a prequel to X-Men called X-Men: First Class.  Oy veh. 

I have nothing against sequel movies.  I enjoyed Iron Man 2, I enjoyed Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, I was even down with Alien Resurrection...I'm fine with sequels.  It's when Hollywood goes mad with the prequel is where I get annoyed.

We could actually pin this whole prequel madness on George Lucas.  Now him and his Star Wars prequels, well, that was just absolutely wonderful, and he showed that prequels can work, but really, do we need them for every...single...story out there?  Not really.

I went through Wikipedia's entry for "Prequel"...go look for yourself, it's filled with literature, films and so forth and they describe the prequel as a method to fill in the backstory of characters we've seen before.  But, here's my argument for why Hollywood really shouldn't bother...

Let's go with the #1 on my hotties list, Hugh Jackman and his ATM machine called Wolverine.  All he has to do is put on the claws and push the button, money comes out every time.  Fine, I'm great with that, I would be the last person to say, "No Hugh, put the claws away."  But, why did we need his backstory?  Why couldn't he have an all new story of his own?  Marvel only has been publishing Wolverine since 1974...ok, let's put it this way, Wolverine is only 3 years younger than me...that's 35 years of stories he's had published.  His backstory, well, I guess we all want to see more Wolverine and a great way to do that is to go into who and why he is, but really, we all know that Col. Striker put the Adamantium in his body...why go through all that again when he could be doing something far more different and expanding our knowledge of the character, not just rehashing what we already know.  Don't get me wrong, I loved X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I've got a copy in my DVD library, but in today's prequel mad Hollywood, it just seems like it tried to jump in with the rest of the George Lucas inspired madness and make a buck off the fact that they could tell the story in a way that wouldn't look cheesy.

Another bit of Prequel madness was Ridley Scott's Robin Hood.  If you've not read my review, go back a few posts, you'll find it and oh gods did I think it stank.  Between Batman Begins and Robin Hood, well, those are known as a "Reboot", but my question is, why oh why are you trying to resuscitate a dead horse?  It's dead!  Leave it alone!  Let it be!

Batman Begins...ok, I'll go Christopher Nolan and his reinvention of Batman.  Christian Bale I could go without, he definitely makes the top 10 list of broody boneheads that do not inspire me to watch a movie.  However, Nolan's vision for a new Batman, well, it leaves me indifferent.  I won't go out of my way to watch the Batman films, but if they're playing on HBO, I might be tempted to leave them on for background noise.  I'll never belittle the work of Morgan Freeman, he's cool, but really, outside of new gadgets and neat designs, why did we need to see Batman all over again?  The best Batman to me will always be the Michael Keaton/Tim Burton version.  Jack Nicholson as the Joker, how can you beat that?  Now, I shan't sit and belittle Heath Ledger's Joker.  He was sinister in ways that will give you night sweats, but good gods, look what happened to the man who played him.  If someone has to go that deep into character, guys, we need to leave that alone and not force an individual to those lengths and ultimately his death just to win an Oscar.

What happened to telling new stories, inventing new characters for us to be enthralled with?  Was there an Indiana Jones before Indiana Jones?  No.  Not really, just the notion of the 1940's serials.  Well, there's a unique thought and look at how huge it is now.  Can you really look at a Fedora and NOT think Indy?

You know, the world is filled with unique characters, unique thoughts and interesting angles that we've not considered.  We don't need to recycle characters just to entertain us.  I'm tired of prequels, sequels and all kinds of re-tells, reboots and re-whatevers.

Whereas I will sit in a theater and drool over Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man again or sit for hours on end just to watch Ewan or Hugh don their iconic roles...those are great and all, I enjoy their instant gratification kind of quality, but when I sat down and watched "Deception" starring Hugh AND Ewan...(omg, nearly about had cardiac arrest from the eyegasm I was having) it was a seedy story, it was fresh, new and the movie has been out a while, it was playing on HBO for Chrissakes!  But there are my two favorite leading men in a film that wasn't a reboot, a prequel or some other type of horse manure.  It was a unique story and one that I didn't know the characters, I didn't know the story, it was all brand new...and I walked away satisfied that I saw a unique view of the world through a different set of eyes that wasn't contrived or recycled.

Prequels, well, I can only say...Hollywood, get a life and get us some new stories.  When our pocket books are gasping from the financial squeeze that is on them, we need to be inspired to go to the theater, and it's not by recycling what we've already seen.  Movies are the land of imagination...so why are you not being more imaginative and bringing us something new?

Don't give us backstory, give us new story.