About This Blog
A blog about my life, universe, etc. At any given time you might find something endlessly interesting or just me ruminating on something else, which no one (not even myself) finds interesting. That's the way blogs go, I suppose. Anyway, I was eleventh in line, and you weren't. Hah!

About Me
Columbus, OH
Political Score:
Temp @ JPMorgan Chase
Ohio State University
Political Science, International Studies
High School: Home Educated
Reading, standing in line for things, writing, research

About My Family
My mom is a
lawyer in Pickerington; my stepdad and dad are computer guys, and my stepmom (who works with my dad) is an engineer. My sisters are, in order of age, a photographer, an artist, and a person too young to have her own website. My brothers are, in order of age, living up north, and again, a person too young to have a website. At some point soon I'll be collecting links for my aunts, uncle, and cousins. ^_^

Message Services
(Please see the notes below the Comment Policy before sending me a message)

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Star Wars: Episode 3 Line (Hollywood)
My Star Wars Line page

NaNoWriMo 2007:
My Novel: Cipere Lumen

Official NaNoWriMo 2006 Winner

NaNoWriMo 2006:
My Novel: The Manatee Conspiracy

Official NaNoWriMo 2006 Winner

NaNoWriMo 2005:
My Novel: Beyond the Cliffs of Kefira

Official NaNoWriMo 2005 Participant

NaNoWriMo 2004:
My Novel: sul Okyar tir taTz'ileea

National Novel Writing Month

Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Is that in order to study a problem, you have to be able to replicate it. And that can be a challenge when doing tech support, since generally speaking, the folks trying to replicate a problem have a completely different configuration of hardware and software than the person who has the problem. However, one technique that may help is a screenshot.

Don't worry, I"m not in a hopelessly random didactic mood today -- the folks at Blogger have asked me to send screenshots to demonstrate my problems. ^_^


And since Jackie's blog is just for her Disney schedule, at least for now, I've decided I'll be the one to bite the bullet. We've found Sam's song, folks (well, she found it, and now I'm telling you). We are of the joint opinion that this song is pretty much perfect for Samwise Gamgee, at least insofar as his relationship with Frodo is concerned, in The Lord of the Rings films (and books, for that matter). Judge for yourself. It's from "The Measure of a Man" album.

I Will Carry You
by Clay Aiken

Yeah I know it hurts,
Yeah I know you're scared;
Walking down the road that leads to who knows where...
Don't you hang your head,
Don't you give up yet.
When courage starts to disappear,
I will be right here.

When your world breaks down,
And the voices tell you turn around;
When your dreams give out,
I will carry you,
Carry you...
When the stars go blind,
And the darkness starts to flood your eyes;
When you're falling behind,
I will carry you.

Everybody cries,
Everybody bleeds;
No one ever said that life's an easy thing.
That?s the beauty of it,
When you lose your way, close your eyes and go to sleep,
And wake up to another day...


You should know now that you're not alone --
Take my heart and we will find...
You will find
Your way home...

When your dreams give out,
I will carry you,
Carry you.
When the stars go blind,
And the darkness starts to flood your eyes;
When you're falling behind,
I will carry you,
Carry you.
I will carry you,
Carry you.
I will carry you,
Carry you.
I will carry you...

Anyone else think so? Exactly.


NO... WAY...  
Two whole entire people who aren't me now are on the email list. I choose not to ask why no one joined the previous list, and instead seek only to bask in the glory that IS FOUR MEMBERS of the Honored Duo of Readers. ^_^

The pizza was pepperoni, the movie will have to wait, and the guest service at Pizza Hut leaves something to be desired (but it wasn't helped by my hopeless distraction with the Soviet book that will not let me rest...)


I sit here analyzing template codes, eating pizza, about to start my MP3 player roaring with the sounds of Earth, Wind, and Fire... it's like the last six years haven't even happened and I'm back to being a computer science major at OSU. The only difference is that I have a window, through which I can see the sun and sky and stuff. Fortunately, I also have black curtains, so I never DO see the sun or sky or anything like that... anyway, back to coding.


Tuesday, March 30, 2004
I fixed the problem with the older template, where you couldn't see my archives. Next up, fixing the Blogger Button Disappearing Act. But first, I'm off to see the wizard.

No, not really, I'm off to eat pizza and possibly see "The Haunted Mansion" with Eddie Murphy. It looks like it's a terrible movie, but I have to see it. It's part of the deal with the whole working for the mouse and the low pay and the answering questions at the park shindig. What can I say, I DID ask for it.


Because he always manages to say something that makes a lot of sense and helps clarify an issue which (though it may be back in the recesses of my brain, in the "I don't have time to deal with this" section) has bugged me for a while. It's a little creepy, to be honest. Anyway, today he clarified the problem I think all bloggers (and all webmasters, of whom bloggers are a subset) face, and one of the problems that I personally haven't bothered addressing through gargantuan efforts to be either really interesting or really well-publicized:

Users are busy, they are creatures of habit, and there is significant
competition for their attention.

One would assume that the best way, therefore, to get them to come and use your site (in my case, read my blog, click on my links, and comment on my posts) would be to make such usage take very little effort, be easily adaptable into a set of habits, and vie for their attention in ways that outstrip one's competitors. Tools like BlogRolls and RSS feeds help on the first point; people like Howard Stern and Ann Coulter and Al Franken and so forth seem to be the benchmark for the third. But it's InstaPundit and eBay that really demonstrates solutions to the second point: being useful to one's constituents is the best way to ensure they make using you a habit. There's also being exceptionally talented and interesting (think Lileks, or SamizData), but at least in my personal case, those factors alone aren't enough to ensure consistent readership; if life interrupts, visits may be put off for days or weeks or (if you're really bad, like me) months. Moreover, if life really interrupts, they aren't the first ones to be checked when you start reading again; I started with Glenn Reynolds first, then as he linked to people and I remembered liking them, I would go back and read them. Right now I'm at about 25% of my pre-Christmas reading level -- my first visit back to Andrew Sullivan was this afternoon, as was my first return to Jeff Jarvis' site and SamizData. And I used to read them every day, as a matter of course, because they were interesting and entertaining; I returned to InstaPundit and Steven denBeste far sooner, because they are useful.

Which, of course, begs the question of whether I want to attempt to be useful, myself. I'm not sure at this point, but it seems like the sounder road to being a writer whose words are actually read, instead of merely posted. And of course, it'd also help if I actually put some content on the blog (yes, I am working on that essay -- it's going to take longer than I first thought, because I'm trying to answer a question that requires a lot of research).


It doesn't work. Sigh. I hate having to check to see if the post really DID go through (I won't blindly click an "OK" button to a warning that says I haven't posted yet) every time I want to close a screen. Blaah...


Kind of stinks when you had stuff you wanted to get done during the day. Still, I suppose I needed it, especially since this is the first day since March 22nd that I've not woken up feeling as though I've gone six weeks without tasting water. My sleep schedule is, of course, completely and utterly screwed up now, but what else is new?

Blogger support actually sent a reply to my query. I'm sort of still in shock, to be honest. Not only did I not anticipate getting any kind of an answer, I didn't expect the answer to either a) provide useful information or b) provide a suggestion on what I could do to fix the problem, that wasn't a dumb "is the monitor plugged in" type of suggestion. Maybe that whole Google acquisition thing was, you know, a good idea?

Anyway, I've deleted all my cookies (they think that might solve the "retaining posts" problem) and I wait with baited breath to see if their engineers can figure out why double posts are being emailed. Life is good.


So I lied and continued to fight the good fight and the template is about 99% the way it was (excluding the stuff I found out needed to go away -- like the BlogMatrix link -- and the stuff that was out of date, like my age and location in the sidebar), and the blog is accessible to everyone, and I'm TIRED (trying to gear up for those early mornings starting Thursday), so I'm giving up. The fiction thing will have to stew in my brain overnight. Good night, Blogosphere.


My template has been, well, Bloggered, for lack of a more appropriate term. I went in around 8pm to change the Link of the Day (to the new Honored Duo of Readers page), and the template hadn't fully loaded when I hit "save changes" (that'll teach me to not hit "preview" and also to not save a more recent version of my template to the Archive Index Template), which killed post viewing. I went and saw Master and Commander as planned, went to Jackie's place, saved the most recent version of the blog that she'd seen (I love Temporary Internet Files), came back here, did a lot of cutting and pasting and searching my harddrive for older versions of my template, finally Frankensteined the thing to a working draft -- and now Blogger won't let me even LOOK at the template. They say their engineers are working on it. Can't wait to see how it turns out; meanwhile there's RSS and the email list.

Incidentally, it turns out that lloannna.geo was not signed into (for mail purposes) in so long that Yahoo deleted the email account. Which really is annoying. Fortunately it wasn't difficult to restore it, unfortunately all my saved email and my preferences were nixed. Today is not the best of all possible days for me and my computer, methinks. So I'm going to restart and start writing a draft of a new story I want to actually finish before the New Year.


Monday, March 29, 2004
The Honored Duo of Readers is the set of individuals who I know actually read my blog sometimes. Oh, sure, I'm related to one of them. Oh, clearly, I harrass them into reading the thing. Nonetheless, I'm pretty sure most of the time when I publish something to this weblog, both of them will eventually (not necessarily today, not necessarily next week, but sometime in the future) actually read the stuff I've put up. And that gives me the will to keep posting, in the face of overwhelming adversity. For that, they are Honored. Since they're reading, they're Readers (duh), and because there's two of them, they're a Duo. See? It works. Roll call for the Honored Duo of Readers...


Someday I hope to be able to incorporate legions of follwers into the Honored Duo of Readers, perhaps even one day awarding such folks the Order of the Honored Duo of Readership. A girl can dream, can't she? I say yes, yes she can.


Sometime ago (about the time my third desperate plea for assistance to the folks that run Blogger went completely unnoticed for six months) I gave up on the notion of depending on them (meaning technical admin types) for survival. Why would they help me, a girl who refuses to pay for a blog until she can reliably prove she'll actually write in it consistently, with high-quality content and so forth, for an extended period of time? I won't buy a domain and then let it sit unused; for heaven's sake, look how badly I treat the free ones I already have.

Anyway, in the hopes of getting a real solution implemented sooner rather than never, I've emailed Blogger_User_Support (the folks who helped me last time), which is a Yahoo Group filled with blogging expert types. I sent them the text of the "please help me" message I sent to User Support, and now I'm going to reprint it here, mostly to demonstrate the phenomenon I'm complaining about (my YG has an open archive, which documents clearly the double email situation). I don't expect you, my Honored Duo of Readers, to actually help out much, because neither of you is all that skilled in the Bloggery goodness that is Blogger. But listen to me whining anyway, because it builds character.

"I can post and publish my posts just fine -- they appear on my blog exactly as I want them to -- but after I've hit Post and Publish (or even just Post, and then hitting the yellow Publish button separately) the entire text of the post stays in the editing box. When I try to close the Explorer window, or go to my template settings, the Java box pops up and says "you have an unsaved post" even though I haven't made any changes to the text in front of me, and the post was published successfully.

Moreover, when I post a new entry, the email (which was going to my private account [lloannna@surfside.net] but is now going to my email list [eleventhinline@yahoogroups.com] so you can see the archive [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/eleventhinline/] for yourself) from the previous entry is doubled. That is, when I post a hypothetical "The Story, Part III," not only is "The Story, Part III" sent to the email list, but the previous entry, "The Story, Part II" is also sent (even though it was sent before). And if I post "The Story, Part IV," then the previous post, "The Story, Part III" will also go to the email list. You can now see the activity clearly in the group archives, as I'm posting this message to the blog to help demonstrate. I can't see where in my settings it would indicate any preference to have old messages re-posted to an email address that already got the message once, but I'm no expert."

Okay, I feel better now. It's amazing how cathartic cut&paste operations can be, sometimes.


I've decided to share with the Reading Universe (hello, my Honored Duo of Readers) the following fact:

I have now completed almost everything on my list of things to do.

Yes, that's right, progress has been made, results have been obtained, and all is right with the universe. I read four chapters in the Soviet Empire book, Jackie and I have firm plans to see the movie at 9:40pm, the Twilight Zone music has been sent, and both of my applications' progress has been ascertained (the news isn't good, incidentally). That means... yes, you guessed it: I have time to write my essay on international terrorism! Woohoo!


While I was waiting to finish the Twilight Zone music project (the file is now sloooooowly on its way to Ishte), I decided to revive the email list thing. The new and improved list, EleventhInLine@yahoogroups.com, will showcase the postings from ALL my blogs, not just this one, as well as serve as an update for whenever I publish anything online (assuming, of course, that I don't forget) on a permanent forum (no, I won't email you every comment I put on every website I visit, Girl Scout's Honor). So, umm, join if you want.


Is usually a sufficient catalyst to the process that ensures the goals on such a list will not be accomplished on a given day. So far all I've done is read a few chapters from my book, look up showtimes, download a program to work on the Twilight Zone music issue, and do a whole lot of other stuff wholly unrelated to the goals on my list. I even bought food at Big Lots (thus clearly demonstrating how far I've fallen on the socio-economic ladder, folks, but the cans of refried beans were only $.49!!). I really should stop making to do lists altogether, but it seems this lesson will have to be repeated a few more times before it sinks in.


Are fun, up to a point, but I've discovered in the last few weeks that I don't actually enjoy a lot of sitting around and doing nothing, when there's things I'd enjoy doing that aren't being done (as opposed to things I wouldn't enjoy doing -- the difference lies in the gulf between "paying my parking ticket" and "reading the book I got for Christmas"). Today is therefore a day in which I intend to do all of the following:

  • contact Medieval Times and TGI Friday's about my job applications
  • read a few more chapters in The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire
  • watch Master and Commander and possibly also The Haunted Mansion at the dollar theatre
  • send my friend Ishte the file of the Twilight Zone music I want to incorporate into my cell phone message
  • and, if there's time, write an essay for the blog about international terrorism.

It feels good to be productive, now and again. I plan on trying to pick up a shift on Wednesday (I don't really want a sixth day this week, because I have one already scheduled for next week, and I don't want to make myself sicker), which means I have the next two days off (working at a touristy job = redefining the meaning of the word "weekend"). If you come back later tonight you may find that essay on international terrorism -- whether that's a good or bad thing depends entirely on your opinion, and on how much spicy food I ate before writing it (spicy food can make me cranky). And now we've had our TMI Moment for the week, so I'm off to get things done.


So Jackie thinks I'm overreacting and that I'm not really sick anymore and that it's just allergies and warns that if I keep complaining she's going to knock me senseless or possibly sew my lips together, and it occurs to me that all I was saying before she brought up the point and accused me of saying I was dying all over the place, was that I was sick and miserable and that I hated it. And now, I'm fairly convinced I'm dying, and/or that I'm going to be in for another 15 month bout of convulsive coughing like I was in 2001-2003 (so not kidding here, friends). I'm beginning to become absolutely certain I'm highly suggestible. People need to stop telling me I think I'm dying unless they're really really certain I'm already of that opinion. And even if they are, I think it'll work better if positive reinforcement is used -- "you're fine" instead of "you're not dying", I think.

Not that I blame Jackie, she of the hey-let's-stay-up-for-20-hours-straight fests, held directly after less than two hours of sleep and a previous run of 18 or so hours of wakefulness. She says we're going to see Master and Commander tomorrow. I say, we'll see.


Saturday, March 27, 2004
And I wanna work in Attractions. It sounds like they're going to be getting away from the landlocking horror of the last six months, soon (actually, landlocking isn't all that successful in Store Ops, but remember, it's a lot easier to landlock in a department where every location requires specialty training, than in a department where in an emergency, you can cross parks altogether and suffer little to no loss in efficiency -- today we had a WOD guy helping stock Fronteirland, and last summer a bunch of lower seniority people in Store Ops spent the better part of the summer working in DCA even though they were Disneyland cast members). An example of how not successful the landlocking is? I've got a Gag Factory shift last week. It's only been about three weeks since landlocking supposedly went into effect, and already it's going kaput. Not that I'm complaining; I miss hat writing and strollers shifts.


Thursday, March 25, 2004
And it was good, but it lacked a funny message, and it knew the answering machine had a humdinger of one, and it was jealous. And because jealousy is unhealthy and smacks of evil violent masculine icky non-post-feminist yucky stuff, the Powers that Be decried the whole thing, and it became a huge to-do, and there was a letter writing campaign, and in the end I had to write something for the darned cell phone, just to get these idiots off my case. Or, something to that effect. Here you go.


Wednesday, March 24, 2004
And let me just say that WebMD normally does NOT give me such easy results with only two symptoms. I thought at first that it was some kind of dehydration issue (it's been hot here for a few days, and my job isn't conducive to drinking enough water) but I figured after drinking about two gallons of water, it wasn't that. I considered diabetes (too many Babysitters' Club books, plus my grandmother, who took care of me when I was little, was diagnosed when she was 20), but I was pretty sure that you can't pin diabetes symptoms to within a fifty minute period of them starting, and anyway, they don't include fever. So I went to WebMD and asked it to search for "fever dry throat" and look what came up as a 100% match, which also happens to fit exactly what I'm experiencing, to a "t."

Umm, yeah. So, considering that I don't take particularly good care of myself, and considering that I do work in a place where something like 50,000 brand new germ-laden strangers from across the country show up every day and become entirely too friendly with the collectibles and gifts I have to manhandle back into their original spots, it's not exactly surprising.

And, considering the company I work for, it's not surprising that I don't have medical insurance or any kind of money to pay doctors, which is why it's so convinient that this thing supposedly goes away in 3 to 7 days, with or without treatment. And, since there's no coughing or sneezing involved (it's actually seeming to be a very convinient, if painful, disease to have), I just have to wash my hands a lot to keep from spreading it. And I already do that (thank you, food service training).

So, all in all, not a really really horrible experience (this is the first time, as far as I know, that I've gotten anything like this -- the only other realistic possibility is mono, and I don't have any of those symptoms at all), unless I develop scarlet fever, which would be, you know, a really big pain in the... ummm, well, throat. Not that it doesn't already hurt. Obviously if I'm still wanting to drink any water I see and feeling like someone used my throat to siphon rubbing alcohol into a five gallon jug in a couple of days, I'll have to think of something more useful than waiting it out and taking lots of painkillers. Blech.

[UPDATE]: So it turns out you can get rheumatic fever (which is the other name for scarlet fever, I think, but I could be wrong -- they both involve rashes, and I'm writing this while offline for reasons I'm about to explain) if you don't treat strep throat. So I've put in a call to the nearest low-cost clinic in my area (thank goodness there are so many poor people like me in Huntington Beach! We rock this joint... er... yeah...), and explained my symptoms to the girl taking the calls, who will forward the message to the nurse who decides who gets appointments (that's a lot of power, right there), who will decide as she feels appropriate, and the girl will call me back when she gets the decision and has a moment. If I do go, I'm brining a book. A long book. We're actually talking about two books, in all likelihood; maybe even three. It doesn't sound quite as bad as the OSU emergency room (been there, done that, got the prescription), but that's I think a matter of degree and not kind. Plus anyplace sounds better when it isn't an emergency room. The waiting thing is really really boring, especially since I can't take a shower while I wait (might miss the call), and I really would like to. To be honest, I had kind of assumed this thing would go away by now, or at least would start having cold-like symptoms. I was seriously geared up for a cold; I even bought Cold-Eez.

[UPDATE2]: My appointment is at 2pm. I haven't figured out yet if I'm completely mad or just being safe, or what, because I absolutely cannot afford to do this. However, I would not like to have permanent heart damage (they say the brain damage from rheumatic fever "usually" is temporary), if I can avoid it, so I'm going to do it anyway. This gives me three hours to take a shower, wash my clothes, get money out of the bank, and maybe (depending on how fast I do everything else) hopefully get some resumes printed out and go do job applying stuff. You all who don't get my email updates, and only read the blog, have missed some good times in the last few weeks, I assure you. I'll tell you more when I don't have fifteen things to do and a third of the time needed to do them.

[UPDATE3]: So $35 poorer and absolutely no better off, I return, dazed and wounded, to my little hovel and despair. No, not really -- first I went out and actually applied at TGI Friday's and Medieval Times. I definitely am suffering with some kind of infection, but since I can't afford the lab and the potential prescription and since the quicky strep test was negative, I was released with... nasal spray. Yeah. The med student who treated me was cute, though. In any event, I have high hopes that this thing will be over in a few more days, mostly because I'd really like to enjoy the taste of food and water again sometime soon (preferrably sometime before I start quoting Frodo's slopes of Mount Doom speech). I do think part of this was some kind of nefarious plot on the part of those greater powers concerned for my actual well-being, though; the thing that actually pushed me to fill out those applications? The intake girl taking one look at my list of income sources and handing me the pamphlet for emergency services for indigent adults in Orange County. Nosiree, Bob, and thank you, but no. My days at Disney have always been numbered, but now moreso than before.


and so I've decided to make something useful come out of the whole experience. It used to be a duplicate of the last post -- you don't want to know the whole story, I assure you -- and now it's going to be a post about the movie I just went to see at Downtown Disney's fabulous AMC theatre (Disney CMs get a reduced price and a special discount combo at the concession stand). Jackie and I went to see "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", with Jim Carrey, that girl from Titanic (Kate Winslet), Kirsten Dunst (she was in Spiderman), and Elijah Wood. He was in a movie or three that I really loved, and also co-starred in "The Good Son" with some other kid actor forever ago. In case you didn't know that.

Anyway, it was awesome. It was, to paraphrase a DirecTV commercial with a girl who was in "Toys" with Robin Williams (Joan Cusack), greater than greatest. At least, compared to "50 First Dates", and that's... well, that's actually not saying much of anything, since that movie ranks in the bottom five of all movies I've ever forced myself to sit through. But it was definitely one of the better movies I've seen in the last few years, especially considering its high potential chick flick factor (I'm not a fan of the genre) and the potential to annoy me (it has the man who did "The Cable Guy" and the girl from "Titanic," for heaven's sake). I have to say I like her as a non-vapid idiot teenage debutante twerp, and him as a non-on-drugs normalish guy. That works for me, I think they should stick to those kinds of roles from now on.

Meanwhile, Elijah was awesome as a person who I was sympathetic towards, then slightly creeped out by, then who I really hated. Go see the movie, and you'll understand why. I liked his performance a lot; it was a real departure from the hobbity goodness I tend to indulge myself in (a lot), but it was enjoyable in a wow-I-hope-she-throws-something-hard-at-your-head kind of way. I probably would have enjoyed the overall movie more if I didn't have such a visceral hating-this-lots reaction to profanity and drug use, but there you go.

Now I have to go see the other post-LOTR films that are coming out. We've got "Hidalgo" (Viggo), "Garden State" (Ian Holm), possibly "Jersey Girl" (the elf-twit, aka Liv Tyler), and the movie I have been meaning to see for about two months, "Master and Commander" (Billy Boyd). Also, there's a movie which, if I recall the poster correctly, is about Helen of Troy, with Orlando Bloom and Sean Bean in it. Now, Dominic Monaghan needs to be in something, and the rest of them as well (I assume John Rhys-Davies will be in the new Indy movie, and Ian McKellen in another X-Men; apparently Hugo Weaving only does trilogies but I don't want to know if he's in Episode III of Star Wars [Spoiler free!], which Christopher Lee presumably will be in since he was a principak bad guy in Ep. II, and I don't know what projects Andy is working on so I guess it's really just Dominic and Andy... and I am such a geek sometimes). Anyway, yes. I must have something to watch between May 25th and November/December mumblesumethingorotherthey'reworkingonitnoreally. ^_^

Screenit Comments, and I agree wholeheartedly. Sad, in a way, that this guy (when it's the guy, I don't much agree when it's the other reviewer) writes so eloquently and always seems to say what I've been thinking after I see a film, because it's basically guaranteeing that I won't bother writing detailed artistic reviews of most any film he reviews...


Tuesday, March 23, 2004
But Steven DenBeste is one of the few. First he introduced me to K9, the marvelous spam interceptor that keeps the majority of spam emails from ever reaching my inbox, and now he's rescued me from the horrors of the ABC News site's pop-ups and java advertising, by introducing me to The Proximatron. Seriously, folks, this thing rocks. The fact that he's one of the best writers in the blogosphere (he ranks right next to James Lileks in terms of sheer pleasure whilst reading) is icing on the cake. I can't wait to try out the next thing he recommends.


Sunday, March 21, 2004
And since I don't want to share my actual phone number with you all, here it is, straight from my answering machine to your speakers.

My Phone Message

Tell me what you think of it; I'm trying to come up with something different and yet also fun for my voicemail. Incidentally, if you DO choose to call me at home (presumably you already know my number) you can skip the message by pressing #.


I decided to write up some content for y'all, in honor me feeling like I should, you know, actually write some posts before the end comes. This one is extemporaneous, and it's almost 6am, which means CRAZY TALK FROM THE NUTTY LADY IN THE DARKENED CORNER TIME (TM) for your reading pleasure. No, not really, it just means that I need to be less self-focused and cut down on the rambling and probably excise about two thousand excessively personal details from this piece. Before considering hyperlinks, this one comes out to about 2200 words. It took an hour to write it, and another hour to get all the links formatted. Yeesh. Incidentally, my apologies for the overlinkage. I'm pretty sure I'm overcompensating for months of cybersilence and general irresponsibility.

Why Do I Care?

I have to admit, and I hate this sort of thing because it seems patently ridiculous, that I really wish Sean Astin hadn’t done "50 First Dates" (his most recent movie release, starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore). In fact, and this is really embarrassing, I’m pretty much in a state of functional denial (“He do any of those things in that movie I didn’t see, which he wasn’t even in”) every time I happen to think about the subject (which happens more than I’d like it to, what with the billboards and TV spots and my friend Jackie, who knows how much I hated the movie and Sean’s role in it and therefore speaks with a lisp just to make me mad). It’s frustrating, because I really don’t like being the sort of freaky judgmental fan who thinks she has a license to dictate the terms of some random celebrity (who she doesn’t even know) just because she admires his work (or looks, or hobbies, or whatever), and yet I honestly think the universe as a whole would have been better off if he hadn’t taken that role (actually, the universe would be better off if the movie had been done completely differently, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make at the moment – and bizarrely, that sort of statement [“This movie stank and should have been made with all of the following changes…”] makes me feel far less uncomfortable than the one about the individual actor), because, well, I think he’s better than that.

Yeah, I know, creepy and bizarre and let’s just NOT get into how much I admire and respect this man’s work (not to mention his looks, and hobbies, and – oh, for heaven’s sake), because it’s embarrassing! I’d like to think of myself as a well-reasoned, well-educated young woman who doesn’t fall into stupid immature traps like this, where I go beyond saying “Such-and-such former Mousketeer is such a slut” and straight through the creepy flame-lipped dungeon door labeled “And this mortally offends me and makes me want to cry and write her and her agent and her mother to decry their actions and never ever name my children after her which I was SO planning to do because my gosh, I just love her…” And yet, here I am, sitting comfortably in a lounge chair with about a thousand Britney fans, wondering how I got into this mess and whether my sanity is in question, or merely my good taste. And hoping for another random Sean Astin appearance on TV (yes, on Friday I woke up to him at a race track here in LA, on Channel 11, and yes, I did call Jackie and leave a voice mail…)

See, I don’t fall into the whole really-liking-celebrities thing very easily. Usually when I do, it’s for reasons that I like to hope aren’t as shallow as “ohmygoshhe’ssohotIwishhecouldtakemetothejuniorprom” fantasy images of the characters they play on TV (well, okay, that’s why I liked Wil Wheaton, for a long time – but deep down I really wanted to be Wesley Crusher, rather than date him (same goes for Doogie Howser, and Lucas Wolenczak), so I’m going to pardon myself for that one). It took a while to get to the point where I really admired Sean Astin – I loved the Goonies but didn’t really feel intrigued by any of the characters, I didn’t see most of the movies he was in between that and 2001 (and I didn’t connect him with his characters in "Encino Man" or "Bulworth," which I did see), and wasn’t especially moved by his appearance in “The Fellowship of the Ring.”" In fact, when he came to visit the Star Wars line in Hollywood, CA in 2002 with Elijah Wood, I gave them my usual celebrity treatment (to stand way, way, way back, and mutter to myself about how I’d hate to be mobbed the way they were by my more uninhibited friends, then later on wish I’d gotten their autographs). They sat in the row in front of me (directly in front of my friend Autumn, as a matter of fact – I was some 11 seats to the right of her), and I hardly gave their presence a moment’s thought once the movie started, after I’d gotten over how they were allowed into the theatre before us (after all, I’d earned my eleventh position in line, and due to a lack of sleep and excess of anticipation, emotions were running a little high). My conversations at the IHOP afterwards were all about the movie and the line experience, and not the Hobbits in the next row down.

Then came the Two Towers line, and the movie itself. Sean got a meatier role, opposite Andy Serkis (who I met that night, and actually did get an autograph from – I read the LA Times article about Gollum the next day, and finally pieced it together – but I’d like to think that the final exam the night before and 21 hour marathon session of wakeful line-standing had something to do with the lapse in my usual celebrity attitude) and Elijah Wood again. Still, I wasn’t that huge a Sean-in-particular fan, and far more of a Lord of the Rings/fantasy fan, which is why I didn’t completely freak out when he, Elijah, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, Andy Serkis, John Rhys-Davies, and a whole bunch of other LOTR celebrities showed up at the Two Towers: One Party Oscar viewing event in 2003. In fact, it was Sean’s attitude and words that night that really got the ball rolling, strange as that sounds – I came away with the thought: “No wonder he’s already married, he’s sincere and sweet and intelligent and well-spoken, not to mention talented and charming and yeesh…” Yeah, it was definitely that night.

Anyway, largely thanks to that mindset, I attended Comic-Con International 2003, and spotted some glimpses of the Hobbit actors (plus Andy Serkis, who hung out a lot at the TORn booth) doing autographs and so forth. I remember feeling disappointed when Sean relocated later on during the Con to the booth run by the folks who always charge for autographs (he was there with the kid who played Boba Fett in the second Star Wars prequel, as well as the man who works from inside the body of R2-D2 in all of the Star Wars films). But not just disappointed because I couldn’t afford an autograph – oh no, there were the beginnings of the Judgmental Path Of Doom right in front of me, and I began to head down it with some rather scathing internal dialogue in which I didn’t include even a mention either of the Star Wars actors. Fortunately I became distracted with hunger, and the memory didn’t stick, much, except when I got annoyed at celebrity antics in general and that moment resurfaced. I watched the Two Towers extended DVD at my friend Larry’s house with a newfound appreciation for Sean’s talent and so forth, though it’d been months since I’d thought much on the subject, and thankfully the incident didn’t come up in my memory.

Then my friend Jackie got that same DVD for Christmas. We’d just done the Return of the King line, and were determined to sit down and watch all the extended DVD features for the previous two films (she already had the Fellowship extended version). That was when the real attachment, such as it is, really coalesced into the disgustingly typical fangirl type thing I live with on a daily basis. I’m pretty sure it was the moment where Sean discussed the previous career of the helicopter pilot who medevaced him to safety after a glass-shard-in-foot type of incident occurred during filming – either that, or the other three Hobbit actors bemusedly recounting his directing all the helicopters they had traveled to a particular location shoot with to a safe landing (while the other guys goofed off, apparently). Anyway, we both, Jackie and I, came to the conclusion that Sean was exactly the sort of person I ought to marry someday. Later on, during a viewing of the actors’ commentary for The Two Towers, I remember thinking that I could probably get over his political views (which are in some ways radically opposite to my own) in time. Seriously, it’s like a disease.

Then we heard about 50 First Dates. While scanning the internet for Hobbit actor pictures (Jackie and I have the four divided in two – she prefers Elijah and Billy Boyd, whereas I like Dominic Monaghan and of course Sean) to use as background images, we came across a production shot from this new movie. I was skeptical – I’m not exactly the world’s biggest Sandler or Barrymore fan on the best of days, though I liked “The Wedding Singer” – but she was excited, and after all, it was a new movie that had Sean in it. The prospects for new materials (since I don’t have cable, I can’t watch him in Jeremiah) seemed bleak until the release of the extended ROTK DVD, so I decided to be excited, too. After all, if Sean was doing a project, then clearly it must be Great Art of the Highest Order, or at least entertaining. At a minimum, he wouldn’t embarrass himself, and by bizarre and completely unrealistic connections that don’t exist, me, by his performance.

Alas, and alack, that was not to be the case. While hardly the worst film I’ve ever sat all the way through (“The One” is the worst, and I only sat through it because I didn’t want to spend $6.50 to see a trailer for “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” and I thought it unethical to ask for a refund, even when the movie turned out to be dreadful), it certainly ranks right up there. It was downright painful at times to watch (though it had redeeming moments) – but far worse than that was the character Sean Astin portrayed. The very antithesis of Samwise Gamgee (not to mention my largely speculative preconceived notions of what he’s like as a person in real life): a steroid abusing buffoon, a caricature of himself, a person who is made a mockery of by almost every character and by the filmmakers themselves. He’s one of the three worst characters in the entire movie, a one-dimensional creature with few redeeming qualities, none of which are showcased particularly by anyone during the film. His only blessing is that he’s not particularly stereotypical, as far as I can see (well, and he basically doesn’t curse or do much of anything seriously evil), which is more than I can say for the two characters in the film I hated more.

What’s really disturbing is that this hasn’t disabused me of my somewhat beyond creepy appreciation for Sean Astin as a person. Instead, I have apparently decided to give him some kind of a “freebie” – oh, it was just one movie, he’s friends with the people who made it, he has to make something that’s a real departure from his epic works, it can’t all be Shakespeare or Tolkien, I’m sure it was lots of fun to film, and there’s probably a lot that got edited out that would have made his performance far better and less stupid. BLECH. I’d feel better if I just hated him from now on. I stopped admiring Britney and Justin and the rest of the former Mousketeers (whom I hated in a very jealous kind of way as a child, then really hoped would succeed and be model examples of the right kind of entertainer when I got a bit older and got over not being a Mousketeer myself) pretty much as soon as they stopped doing things that were admirable on the surface. I have very realistic appreciations for a number of other entertainers and public officials, on the other hand, with limited expectations and a very low level of emotional and sentimental involvement on my part. In general I’m a firm believer in separating the artist from the art (where applicable) and don’t follow celebrities’ private lives (the photos of the celebrities I do have, are all production stills or promo work – I find candid or personal photos creepy, and don’t even go for the home magazine “look I have a wife and children” spreads; it feels like an intrusion). I figure I should be less involved in strangers’ lives than I am in my friends’, and anyway it’s creepy and pathetic to be that interested in a celebrity, even one who does admirable stuff in his or her public life.

So whence this creepy judgmental attachment thing for Sean Astin? Why do I wish with my heart of hearts that he not have done that movie, or say he wishes he hadn’t done it, or something? Why do I throw things at Jackie (don’t worry, they’re mostly soft, and my aim stinks) when she does that lisp? What’s up with the bizarre fantasy proto-world creation I’ve got now, where I dictate the actions of a total stranger just to satisfy my own notions of what his life should be like?

It’s 5am, and I don’t feel quite up to expounding on the role of celebrity and public figures in a modern hyperconnected world right now. That can wait till after I’ve gotten some sleep, I think. But it bears thinking about. Anyway, there you have it.


I really should try and at least post two whole entire things before -- I say again, "before" -- saying something like that. Dumb, dumb, dumb. It was like asking for a moving-out and moving-in and buying-cars and getting-very-busy and lots-of-stress binge that would last -- why, look, it's been three months! Who'dve thunk it?

Yeah, right And the saddest part of all of it is -- it took my computer nearly dying, a several-days' long stint of having no internet connection whatsoever, and a completely random comment from my stepfather to remind me to actually finally start updating again. Yeesh. You'd think I had better things to do with my time than the one thing (writing) that I actually enjoy.

So let's try this being back thing again, shall we? For now the list link is going away (Yahoo Groups killed the list due to inactivity, but I didn't have any subscribers, so I don't think it was a big loss), and the BlogRoll for my BlogShares investors was discontinued I think in January, so that's going away, too. I want to try to go back to actually producing content on a semi-regular basis. Hopefully some of it will be decent. ^_^ Whee.

Oh, and I"m going to go update the SarahFinder after I'm done here. Big morning, yes...


Because only so many people can be eleventh in line.