April 23, 2007

Horror Writing, Star Wars, and Tabloid Nicknames

Amidst all the talk about the Virginia Tech shooting, certain voices rise above others. I guess it's my selective listening kicking in. We all have it -- we hear that which we want to hear, or that which matters to us or that we identify with. In my case, I heard the voices of the people saying, "How could the professors not know he was going to do something like this when you see the kind of stories he wrote in that creative writing class?". I heard this loud and clear, but it puzzled me. Yes, this was a terrible tragedy, no doubt. Let's get that out of the way right now. However, we do have a very active Horror genre out there, one which is enjoying a resurgence both in print and (especially) film. I seriously doubt anyone's trying to lock up Wes Craven or Rob Zombie. We also have writers out there that are very much revered, from our modern day Stephen King going all the way back to Edgar Allen Poe. My point is that there really needs to be a separation of thinking from the writer to the piece he's written. We must be careful about judging the writer...they're not all out to hurt people. This piece from Salon seems to agree with me, and for that I am very happy. It's a well balanced piece that offers information on both sides of the issue.

On a much lighter note, this piece from Wired magazine about the making of Star Wars offers details on an upcoming book and shows pictures taken before and during Star Wars, in the mid 1970's. Just looking at some of these pictures brings back memories from that time. Check them out yourself and get psyched for the 30th anniversary of Star Wars -- really, it's been 30 years? May 25 is the date to circle on your calendar, just in case you care, or want to send George Lucas even more money.

And, if you're dating someone and want one of those cool celebrity-style joint names to throw around, like Benniffer, or TomKat, check out this page which explains the whole thing and then has a generator for you to plug in your own names and get your very own tabloid-style monikor.

April 10, 2007

Easter Break: Atlantic City

Last week I had the privilege to go to Atlantic
City
for some much needed R&R. I stayed at the Fairfield
Skyline tower
, which has a swimming pool on the 6th floor. I
had never seen that before, so that was neat. When the weather
turned nasty it was odd to wake up in the middle of the night and
realize that you're in a 31-story building currently surrounded by
lightning. But in the end it was fine, and the folks there know how to
treat people right -- from unpacking my car for me, to re-packing it
when it was time for me to leave. That's always the job I hate to do,
and this time it was done for me. I liked that.

Atlantic City itself has some great things to offer. Of course
it has great casinos -- Bally's, Resorts,
the Tropicana, Caesars, and of course, the Trump
Taj Mahal
. Some of these casinos even pack extras, like fine
dining and shopping -- presumably all the better to catch people flush
with their winnings from the casino. Caesars has The
Pier
, a nice shopping area still under development, but
already offering nice shops and restaurants, as well as a choreagraphed
water show (check out this video review of The Pier here). The
Tropicana has a floors devoted to shopping called The Quarter (video
review here
), which also has fine dining and luxurious stores
(including a Coach store containing handbags over $1000 each) and also
includes an Imax theater on it's top floor (Spider-Man 3 will be there
next month -- I just barely missed it-- darn). And Trump's casino, the
Taj Mahal, sports a family-friendly restaurant, the Rainforest
Cafe
, downstairs from it's casino. These are some of the
little surprises that I found as I walked around.

Outside the casinos, there was the world-famous 4.5 mile Atlantic
City Boardwalk
. And I think I walked almost every mile of it,
almost every day. In lieu of a good gym, this would help to keep you in
shape. There's the normal fare like the clothing shops and restaurants,
the dollar stores and such, but there's other things too, like the
Ripleys Believe it or Not Museum, which sports thousands of exhibits
and takes well over an hour to go through -- lots of reading and lots
of things to look at. The beach is adjacent to the boardwalk, and was
fun to explore as well. My only complaint about any of this is that the
temperatures were pretty cold the entire time I was there, staying in
the 30s most days but being aggravated by the coolness from the ocean
just feet away. Wind chill is putting it mildly -- some evenings it
felt like the dead of winter just trying to walk back the mile or two
to my hotel.

Other things I did and saw: I sampled some Fralingers
saltwalter taffy and brought some home; I got some magic lessons from a
magician in a magic shop called MagicMasters
(located in The Quarter) and bought 2 tricks to call my own; I learned
from a young saleswoman that a fine brand of watches that I've had my
eye on, Invicta, is actually owned by
Rolex, a fact that made me incredibly giddy since they're the same
styles at a fraction of the price; I went to The
Spy Shop
(also in The Quarter) and looked around, but most of
it was so kitchy that it's not even James Bond stuff -- I was
disappointed with that store. All in all though, it was a good trip and I saw a lot of new and unique things.

And I got to catch up on some sleep.