Wednesday, March 31, 2004


Day 3: French Maids

Told you.

Incidentally, thanks SO much to all of you who responded to the "Sound Off" thread. It's people like you what cause unrest.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Tuesday, March 30, 2004


Day 2: Goths

I know, I know. Well, it could be worse.

TOMORROW: It gets worse.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Monday, March 29, 2004


Day 1: Redheads

Beginning, of course, with the queen of all redheads, my wife.

And here's one that could get you in trouble.

I'm not doing this for me, I'm doing it for you. Because I care.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen


Here we go...

The Stuff That Turns Me On Project begins. All pics posted here will be Safe For Work, though I may include the odd NSFW link.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Friday, March 26, 2004


Time for a change

Okay, enough of my family and ethics issues. Starting monday, I'll be bringing you a week of something truly terrifying: stuff that turns me on.

You have been warned.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen


Sound Off!

Okay, time for an experiment. I see the hit counter rising, and not just from me clicking in to check the hit counter. I want to know who's reading this thing. If you read this, and you're not a figment of my imagination, click on the comments link below and introduce yourself.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Thursday, March 25, 2004


IS Target owned by the French?

This must be what my Dad was talking about with his little screed against Target. The thing about being French-owned was apparently pulled out of someone's ass.

Okay, enough of this corporate shit. What am I, Ralph Nader?

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Wal-Mart is like a neutron bomb, sucking life out of small towns, leaving buildings without the essence of civic life.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004


Photographed around Tacoma

All hail the Java Jive. The seediest dive in the world, with the shittiest karaoke selection, is nevertheless the perfect antidote to dealing with the family in Tacoma. Tell us more about the tortillas, Walter.

America's Roast Beef, Yes Sir. In the background is the marquee of the theater, now defunked, where me and the gang used to do Rocky Horror.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Monday, March 22, 2004


You can take the white out of the trash...

When I was in Tacoma last week, the big news story was about a sheriff’s deputy who was being prosecuted for spousal abuse. When I was there last year about this time, the chief of police—the chief, for christ’s sake—had murdered his wife and killed himself. They were merely upholding a tradition of corruption that goes all the way back to the seventies, when the sheriff had moonlighted as a mob enforcer.

Most people in Tacoma would tell you that these are isolated incidents, and should in no way affect your image of the town. Here, look at the thriving arts and theater community, they’ll tell you, and hey, look at how the new mass transit system has revitalized downtown!

Don’t believe it. This is a town that once held the dubious honor of “smelliest city in America.” Tacoma holds both an army and an air force base, dozens of casinos, and one of the worst gang problems on the west coast. Tacoma, Seattle’s smaller, disreputable neighbor, is a town with a massive chip on its shoulder, and the more time one spends there, the harder it is to break out of the resultant suicidal funk.

I was there this week for the one-year anniversary of my Mom’s death--or, as everyone in the family insisted on referring to it, her “passing.” There was also Redneck Sister, along with Sulky Third Nephew (the one who was kicked out of the army two years ago for smoking weed, for which my Dad has never forgiven him), but thankfully, minus Dickweed Husband. Cop Brother lives up there. The only one missing was Army Brother, who just started a new job in Florida.

Apart from a solemn moment at the brick bearing Mom’s name, in the Memorial Park on the air force base, the week was spent listening to some truly epic screeds from Dad, Redneck Sister, and Cop Brother, some highlights from which I’ve already shared with you. It’s truly terrifying to spend so much time around these people, to glimpse this scary alternate universe they inhabit, where the Hindu working at the 7-11 is in league with al-qaeda, where George W. Bush is the greatest hero of our time. And they make great sport of sharing their sociopathic worldview with me—I was long ago branded the family “liberal,” in this case meaning, “person who acknowledges that Rush Limbaugh is a shithead.”

I didn’t rise to the bait, though. Dad and Redneck Sister could go on all they wanted about how “those people” want to name a street after Martin Luther King, but I was a rock. I had to be; when you’re dealing with people so far divorced from reality, you can hit them with unassailable logic vetted by Plato himself, you’re not going to convince them of any truth that undercuts the comforting lies that justify their worldview. I was not just a good son, I was the best, most supportive son ever, comforting my Dad, smiling and nodding as he told me just what’s so bad about the French, calmly awaiting the moment when I could join my friends in Seattle, where I was able to calmly drink myself to temporary oblivion. And thank you, friends in Seattle, for that mercy.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen


More Evan Dorkiness

Well, his wife, technically, but cruise on over to Eggs in some formatfor Chris' encounter with the House Of Fun.

Friday, March 19, 2004


From the land of my birth...

I'm in Tacoma, Washington this week, "being there" for my Dad on the first anniversary of my Mother's death.

A full report is on the way, but in the meantime I thought I'd share with you a few universal truths that have been revealed to me, in what is turning out to be the home of some of the great thinkers of our time:

--Never eat at a buffet, and never eat Chinese food. And never, NEVER eat at a Chinese buffet, as "a guy down south" found out when he discovered a cat's tooth in his food. Courtesy of my sister's husband.

--If you're black, or a woman, in america, doors of opportunity will automatically open for you, and the good life will be handed to you on a silver platter. If you're a black woman, cha-CHING! courtesy of my brother.

--Don't shop at Target; they support the queers, and they're owned by the French. My Dad.

--Everyone's trying to sing like a nigger. Ibid.

I want, in no particular order, an M4 assault rifle with hollowpoint bullets, extremely deviant sex, a pack of cigarettes, and enough heroin to make me forget that I'm from here.
Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Sunday, March 14, 2004


Push this button, pull that lever...

Who the hell wants to live forever?


One more thing!

Considering changing the name. Wondering if I should post the potential new name and gauge reaction. Accepting opinions.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen


Received via email...

It would be easy to dismiss stories like this, to just hit the ‘delete’ button and get on with our day. That’s what I almost did when I got this email. But something about this one gave me the feeling I should stop and read it, and I’m glad I did, and you will be too.

I was flying home from a business meeting recently. It had been a long week, full of meetings, schmoozings, and wheeling and dealing, and I was exhausted. I was looking forward to nothing more than getting home, taking a long shower, and getting straight to bed. In short, getting back to my normal life. I was praying that nothing would happen on my flight to delay or inconvenience my trip home.

So far it had gone okay; I got through the security checkpoint (which I saw as a necessary evil since the cowardly attacks of 9/11) with no problem and got to my seat. But, just as they were about to close the door and taxi the plane onto the runway, I heard those words no air passenger wants to hear…

“This is the Captain, folks, and the plane will be delayed a few minutes while we wait for some very special last-minute passengers…”

A collective groan went through the plane. Who were these yahoos, who couldn’t be bothered to make their flight on time, and who did they think they were, holding us all up like this? No matter who these “very special” passengers were, there was no way, we thought, that they would be worth this delay.

How wrong we were!

A few minutes later, the Captain came on the intercom again. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “I hope you’ll all join me in welcoming aboard the brave men and women of the 501st Infantry Battalion, coming home from Iraq.”

The door opened, and we all sat in awe as a dozen men and women in immaculate United States Marine Corps uniforms came trooping down the aisles.

After quickly and efficiently stowing their bags in the overhead compartments, the Marines took the few remaining available seats on the plane and we finally taxied to the runway and took off. As it happened, one of the Marines sat next to me. He introduced himself as Lance Corporal Sean D. Roberts, and we talked for most of the flight. He was an unfailingly polite and courteous young man, who seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. Corporal Roberts and I talked like old friends through the whole flight, and it wasn’t until we were getting ready to land that I thought to ask him about his experiences in Iraq.

Wasn’t it terrible over there, I wanted to know? How could they stand to be over there, with the heat, and the danger, knowing that the Iraqis wanted all Americans dead?

Corporal Roberts looked me in the eye, and said quietly, “We never even thought about that. Our Country asked us to do a job, and we did it. That’s all that matters.”

I was awestruck. All this time, I had been filled with selfish thoughts about “my” needs and things that inconvenienced “me,” when these brave young men and women were over there, risking their lives to protect the freedoms “we” take for granted, without a thought for themselves.

As we arrived at the terminal, the Captain came on the intercom one last time. “As a favor to me,” he said, “I would ask that you all remain in your seats and allow our very special guests to deplane first.”

Like he even needed to ask; we gladly allowed these American Heroes to exit the plane first. As the flight attendants opened the doors, Corporal Roberts turned, looked me in the eye, and said, “ it’s been a pleasure talking with you sir. And I want to tell you, don’t go to any malls around Thanksgiving.” He offered me his hand, and I shook it, though I was too awestruck to speak.

A tremendous cheer rose through the plane as these courageous Marines collected their gear and filed off the plane. Many of us had tears in our eyes as we watched them go. Finally, as we all rose and left the plane, many of us ran through the terminal, hoping to catch these Heroes for one last handshake or word of congratulations, but they were already gone.

Over the next few days, my thoughts continued to return to my conversations with Corporal Roberts. Even as I returned to work, the deals I made and the meetings I took seemed empty compared to the sacrifices these Heroic men and women made. I finally decided to call the local Marine Corps base, in hopes of doing something special for the brave Marines of the 501st Infantry Battalion. But when I did, do you know what I was told?

The 501st Infantry Battalion was killed in battle near Baghdad.

We all have times when our life seems too stressful, when we feel like we’re being overwhelmed by forces all around us. From now on, though, I urge you all to think of Corporal Roberts and the 501st Infantry Battalion, and the sacrifice they made. They didn’t give up, they didn’t complain, their Country asked them to do a job, and they did it heroically. They made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

If you forward this email to 15 friends, you will receive a phone call at 7:13 this evening with good news. Don’t ask me how, but it really works!

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Saturday, March 13, 2004


There is no reason to own any brand of DVD player other than Apex...

And this proves it.


I suck at HTML...

Anyone know why my sidebar links are suddenly at the bottom?

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen


It's time for anime-niacs!

So, when I was a lad, in those halcyon days of half-hour toy commercials, I used to watch GI Joe and the Transformers damn near religiously. But even then, one of my big complaints was that each episode would be slathered with the same few minutes of music from the studio library, just slapped in willy-nilly, apparently with the thought that if the music stopped--if, ghod forbid, it was just dialogue and SFX, even for a second, the kids would switch over to something--GAK!--educational.

I hadn't thought about that in years, but it occurred to me last night, as I was watching Disney's American DVD release of Hayao Miyazaki's legendary Japanese anime, Laputa, renamed Castle In The Sky.

Laputa has been one of my all time favorite movies--and that's all movies, not just anime--since I saw an untranslated copy on video in 1987. Even untranslated, I was able to pick up the basic plot, and what really hooked me was the artistry of the filmmaking. If you've never seen a Miyazaki film, you owe it to yourself. No one, on either side of the Pacific, is capable of such fluid animation and visual storytelling. Just exercise caution if you go for this one.

It's not the title change that turned me off; Laputa has an unsavory connotation in Spanish--literally translated, it means the whore, and let's face it, there would have been no end of false advertising lawsuits with that.

When Disney announced their deal to release Miyazaki's films over here, part of the deal was--and a lot of anime fans breathed a sigh of relief at this--that not one frame could be touched. Any blood or gore, or nudity (Not that I recall any of that in any of Miyazaki's films)--that had to stay.

Apparently that didn't extend to the soundtrack.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie takes place early on. Pazu, the young boy, wakes up in the morning and climbs up to the top of his small house. He releases his pet pigeons for some early morning exercise, then picks up his trumpet and plays a simple, happy tune, as the camera follows the pigeons flying around the vast green valley. That's all, just one trumpet, some wind, and flapping wings

In its original form, Laputa is notable for its effective use of silence; there are vast wodges with no music and only minimal dialogue. These sequences are surprisingly effective, helping give a sense of scale to the proceedings. Jo Hisaishi's music, by contrast, is low-key and intimate, helping ground us in reality, while taking care not to overwhelm the surprisingly naturalistic sound effects.

For the American release, Hisaishi was contracted to rerecord the score in a more "Western" style, which apparently means, "slather music all over everything." The spare, simple tunes, have been redone in a Jerry Goldsmith-style full orchestral arrangement. The scene I mentioned before, with the trumpet, now has a full horn section, backed up with strings and percussion. The effectiveness of the scene, its simplicity, is lost.

Now, one of the things that stops me from watching more anime is the utter hamhandedness with which the dubbing is handled. Think of the mouthfuls the voice actors would have to spit out on Speed Racer; "SpeedIthinkyouaregoingtowinthisracebecauseyouarethefastestandwillreachthefinishlinefirst!" I'm sorry to say that, with a few exceptions, it hasn't gotten any better. Too often, the dubbing studios rely on poorly-written translations provided by the Japanese producers, whose grasp of english is spotty at best. The translation may be technically accurate, but you end up with a lot of, "what is that? I think it is a robot? Should we touch it? No, we must not touch it. Let us go over here now. Yes, we are walking over here." Basically, the only thing separating them from "all your base are belong to us" is that the grammar is slightly more accurate.

Here, though, it's constant chatter. Especially from the Sky Pirates, the ostensibly wacky comic relief characters, whose inane banter grates through every scene they're in.

The leads are just as bad. James Van Der Beek--Dawson himself--isn't completely useless as the male protagonist Pazu, but as Sheeta, the female lead, Anna Paquin speaks in some kind of odd pseudo-British accent that's somewhere between Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala, and that fake British girl from the final season of Buffy.

The only bright spot, voice wise, is Cloris Leachman as Dola, mother and leader of the Sky Pirates. Dola is the one character who can go over-the-top, and Leachman tears into her part with unbridled glee. But this only works if everyone else plays it straight, and Leachman's performance is diluted by Dawson's Dawsoning, Anna's dialect problems, and the tourette's of the sky pirates.

So this version is loud, cartoony, and all but unwatchable. About halfway through I switched over to the original Japanese soundtrack, and never looked back. It's nice to have this movie on DVD, but I think I'll go back to my bootleg copy of the previous english dub, released by Streamline Studios in 1989.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Tuesday, March 09, 2004


Wink Martindale Got Me laid, epilogue

I’ve been wracking my brains, trying to find a tidy wrapup to this story. Some sort of climax that puts a nice cherry on top of this autobiographical sundae. But just like a death or a breakup, all that happened was eventually other things happened, life went on, and eventually the game show and its ramifications were no longer the main event.

I finished vocational school, having produced an excellent promotional video for the City of Tacoma’s anti-gang efforts, and completely failed to find any work in my chosen field.

My tally to the IRS, after all that drama, turned out to be around a grand and a half or so. There was enough left over to buy my first camcorder.

I tried several times to rid myself of Miss Hell, and for a long time came to think of my relationship with her like a scar, or a longterm illness; ugly and debilitating, but permanent. It wasn’t until 1997 that I finally managed to tear her talons out of me.

I lived at home until 1993. Once the game show was no longer a factor, we simply found other things to scream at each other about; in 1991, it was the Gulf War, then my inability to find a job. In 1992, it was her cultish adoration for Rush Limbaugh. Once I moved out, though, and were no longer forced to co-inhabit that tiny little house, our relationship got better, before her death in 2003.

I donated the Cosby Sweaters to a high-school drama department.

Wink Martindale is still at large.

And what about the title of this story?

Well, I won three trips on that game show. The trip to Palm Springs, I gave to my parents. The Caribbean Cruise, I took to celebrate my 20th birthday. And the trip to Vegas, that was for four people. I took my parents and Miss Hell. And it was on that trip, in room 1009 of Bally’s Grand Hotel, that I had sex for the first time. And the second. And on up to the seventeenth, by the time we went home.

So there’s your cherry on top. Or rather, there goes your cherry. Or mine.

I’ll stop now.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Monday, March 08, 2004


Evan Dorkin calls me a Pop Culture Assassin!

Check outthis link and scroll down to the post (anonymous, since I didn't have a LiveJournal account), "It's my fault Bill and Ted got cancelled." I'm a huge fan of Evan Dorkin, and it was cool to have this exchange with him. Though not as cool as selling to him on Ebay, right, Chris? :D

Friday, March 05, 2004


Where's the kaboom? There was supposed to be an earth-shattering kaboom!

Gay couple have been legally getting married in San Francisco for over a month now, and this columnist wants to know what happened to the apocalypse we were promised. Thanks to Peter David for spotting this one.

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