Tuesday, May 31, 2005

This Is Where The Magic Happens

One of my first jobs in college was working as a receptionist for a roofing company. I didn't know a thing about roofing (still don't) and didn't know anything about being a receptionist other than I knew I'd have to answer phones. Still, with those sparkiling qualifications, I landed the job on a temporary basis to get me through the summer.

I answered phones for six weeks. When I didn't know how to answer a customer's question about their roofing needs, I winged it. I learned about different kinds of roofing tiles and how to juggle the contractors who'd be ripping the old ones out and putting to the new ones in. facinating work, as you can well imagine.

I also played lots of solitaire on the 386 perched on my tiny desk. My boss sat in his office drawing birds in PaintShop. He did that for hours while I tried to get the cards to jump around on the screen.

So why the hell am I writing about this? First, because I tried watching Garden State tonight, and even though I tried my best to give a damn about the main character, I just couldn't. So I bounced around online looking for something more entertaining to watch, and lo and freakin' behold I found a flash movie on roof tiling.

Seriously. A Black and White Cartoon About Roof Tiling.

In many ways more entertaining than Garden State. Or playing solitaire.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Bow Down Before The One You Serve

Add this to the long list of goofy things in which some Christians see a Jesus or Virgin Mary.

Yep, a dirty window.

The best part of the article about this is the included slideshow featuring the faithful. Lots of serious looking folks gathered to worship at the dirty window, including a priest leading some sort of mass who has got to be wondering what the Vatican will think of him when they hear about all this.

But the best part of the best part is the photo and caption of a woman who claims the dirty Jesus window has cured her blindness. Miraculous, especially since the blind woman is sporting glasses, and not a particularly strong prescription at that.

Maybe someone should use a little of whatever Mary cleaned her glasses with on that window.

Related link:

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Broadened Horizons

My world got just a little bigger in the last twenty-four hours.

First I friend took me to an electronics store called Saturn. Think of it as the German version of Best Buy, and anyone who knows me knows I'm completely at home in a Best Buy. Sorta like my Mecca. In fact, if you walk into a Saturn store and squint, it looks remarkably like a Best Buy, just with a more purple-ish color scheme.

Secondly I discovered Danish Havarti cheese. Picked some up at the commissary yesterday, substituted it for the usual swiss or american slices on my sandwich, took a bite, and suddenly I could hear the chorus of "Whole New World" swelling in my head.

And hey, before you scoff -- you have your world, I have mine.

Friday, May 27, 2005

How It Can Be

So I'm an English teacher, right? Teach high school students. Lots of stories I could tell you about the job, but many would get me fired, or cause more grief from parents or administration than I'm willing to put up with. Grief from students I can handle. Hell, I get that everyday. It's the parents or the prinicipal who may or may not be fully on my side on any given day that causes all of the stress.

That's why I have to admire a fellow teacher who has the guts to post true stories of what it is like for them. Stories that maybe no one else would believe that has never been on that side of a classroom before, but that somehow ring true to another teacher, even though, speaking for myself, I've never been in those exact situations.

The teacher stories I've been reading the last few days from a guy teaching English in Japan are a great example. Written with brutal honesty, humor, and a certain I-don't-care-who-reads-this attitude that makes it entirely entertaining in an almost True Hollywood Story kind of way.

Thanks to those stories I now know exactly what Kancho is and won't be getting any decent sleep anytime soon until I find out exactly what The Octopus entails. That and I wish I had the freedom to write my own version of those stories. Unfortunately, I've grown accustomed to those paychecks every two weeks.

Related sites:
  • hipteacher: one redheaded girl's journey into the world of public education
  • Ms. Frizzle: the adventures of a science teacher in a small public middle school
  • I Am A Teacher: currrently slumming as a sub

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The First Rule Of Telling A Story Is...

Great audio interview with Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club among other things, posted online. Give it a listen. Probably will offend some, but darn it, a day without offense is like a day without thinking for yourself.

Completely unrelated sidenote: Someone named Deanna sent me some info about my last name "Mauldin." Turns out that my surname is a "habitational name from Malden in Surrey (now
in Greater London) or Maldon in Essex. Both places were named in Old English as 'hill with a cross or monument', from 'monument', 'cross' (crucifix) + dun 'hill'."

My name means someone who lives on a hill with a cross on it? Could that be any more inappropriate for a guy like me?

Yoda Being Yoda

Watch this Yoda video, please. At first you'll feel like an idiot, but then you'll be greatly amused and thankful that the internet brings such high-quality entertainment into your life.

Or you'll still feel like an idiot. I thought it was hilarious, though.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Five-score Feasibly Fantastic Flicks

Time magazine has come out with their list of the 100 all-time best movies. Now normally I can look at a list like this one, say the American Film Institute list from a few years back and say, yep, I've seen most of those and heard of the rest.

Not with the Time list. I've never heard of at least half of those movies. The ones I'm at a loss for seem to all be foreign films, which explains a lot. I can't say I've ever seen the Greek equivalent of Casablanca.

But you know what? I'm not going to make fun of Time's list. For all I know, those movies would blow me away if I ever got to see them. The question is whether or not I'd be willing to make the time and effort, because frankly, if it comes down to watching Hoosiers for the fiftieth time or taking a chance on Ugetsu, "a magnificent war film and a parable of careless love," I'm sorry, but Gene Hackman is going to win that battle for my 90 minutes of leisure everytime. With so many hours in the day and days in the year, sometimes you have to go with a sure thing and just run the picket fence at 'em.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Blog Post Of The Sith

So I went and saw Episode Three tonight of the Star Wars series. I'd been looking forward to this for years and years. See I often rooted for Vader and company back when they were forced to lose to teddy bears and schizophrenic blonde poster boys who listened to voices in their heads. I always thought the empire got a raw deal, especially in Return of the Jedi when all those innocent construction workers got blown up on the new Death Star. The empire was providing jobs, putting food on the plates of its people, and maintaining order. For that reason I just couldn't get behind the selfish rebellion and because, well, they were a bunch of lucky dorks for the most part.

That's why when the new trilogy was announced ten years ago or so, I quickly did the math and figured out that Episode Three had to be the high point for the empire. Darth Vader had to be kicking ass and taking wussy rebellion names in Episode Three for Episode Four to open the way it does. Couldn't wait to see it.

And does it live up to my own personal hype machine? Well, yes and no. Sure Yoda and Co. get their Jedi butts handed to them, but you don't really get to see the Darth Vader we know and love until the end. You don't see him in the jet black deep sea diving suit carving up rebel scum from one end of the galaxy to the other. Sure you get to see how he winds up in that suit, but little beyond that. Disappointing if you ask me. Oh, and they never explain how he goes from his just out of puberty voice to the deep bass of "This is CNN."

There were some plus sides. The guy playing Anakin did a much better acting job this time around. His performance in Episode Two makes me cringe everytime he throws a temper tantrum. In this flick, he's a little better, though probably won't be getting the label of the next DeNiro anytime soon. The action scenes are also the best of any of the series. A little confusing at times, though. I kept wondering if some of the more elaborate battle scenes will make more sense on the small screen in a few months.

Big minus: a couple of the romantic/tender scenes almost put me in a sugar coma. Didn't help that some folks in the audience broke out in giggles at crucial moments, like when Padme tells him she's pregnant. But Jesus Christ, Lucas, can't you write a heartfelt scene that doesn't send movie-goers stumbling to the toilet to vomit?

All that said, it wasn't a bad movie. Easily better than Episodes One and Two combined. Much better than Return of the Jedi, too. Just not quite sure if it makes a dent in the first two movies to come out back in 1977 and 1980. What those had going for them were characters you cared about. They reminded you of people you know, or even yourself. The ones in Episode Three remind me of caricatures of characters you've seen a million times with all the charisma a bunch of digital special effects can muster -- which ain't much.

Related links:

Monday, May 23, 2005

So Much Money, So Much To Spend It On

In our time o'plenty, it can be tough to figure out what to spend your hard earned coin on. Saving it is boring. Investing is too responsible. Giving it away is too charitable. No, the best thing to do is spend each and every dime as quickly as you can, and to hell with taste or a conscience.

But where to spend it? The easiest thing to do is write me a hefty check and I'll do it for you. If you disregard that selfless offer on my part, you can always visit these fine online establishments right now:

No More Pictures

After agonizing over this, I've decided I will no longer post pictures to this site. I've come to the conclusion that there is no point.

No point, you ask?

Yep, because what picture do you post when someone else has already come up with The Picture of Everything?

I'm both awed and dismayed. Crushed and uplifted. Turned off and turned on.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Two Potential Catastrophes

Forget the news about the nuclear option in the senate or worries about the economy. There are two much more pressing concerns here in Germany:

Either one of those has the potential to make the average German rise up in arms and demand what is best for the Fatherland, and we know what that led to the last two times that's happened in the past one hundred years...

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Saturday Cinema

You'd think with all the technology at our fingertips, the ability to spread enlightenment throughout the world in seconds, and the wealth of knowledge and culture the human race has amassed over the last 10,000 years, we could do better than 99.99999% of what you find on the internet.

Luckily we don't.

Fewer things you'll see this weekend are as odd/cool/disturbing as:

Friday, May 20, 2005

There's A Tear In My Cornflakes

Never, ever, ever did I ever, ever, ever think someone would collect videos of people crying while eating. Never, ever, ever will I make that mistake ever, ever, again.

Neither will you.

End Of A Season

Some may not know, but I coached the girls soccer team this year at Baumholder High School. First time ever coaching soccer. Might be the last.

We had some good times this season even though we didn't win a game. Until this past week, we never had a full team to put on the field. When we finally got eleven players out there, things started to click, but by then it was too late. We were in the European tournament and very quickly the season was over.

Throughout the season I kept hearing over and over that I shouldn't be the one coaching the team because I had no experience on a soccer field. That cast a dark cloud over the girls team that never went away. In fact that dark cloud made me want to quit coaching more than a few times. But I never did, mainly because I never saw the girls quit. Even when we faced teams with fifteen or twenty players to put on the field against our eight or nine, the girls never quit. Even when we were losing four, five, or six to zero, they never quit. And I think some of them actually believed in me, and because of that, I couldn't quit on them.

But now the season is over, I have to ask myself if I want to go through it all again. Put up with parents who'll say the most outrageous things to your face, students who'll make fun of a team that is busting its collective ass to represent their school, or "fans" in the stands who shout out the rudest comments imaginable to fourteen and fifteen year old girls who are just trying to play a game. While I may have seen some of the best in sport in the girls on my team who had faith in me, their teammates, and themselves, I also saw the ugly side, and frankly, the ugly side takes most of the joy out of the rest.

So I won't coach soccer next year. I'm sure some will be thrilled to hear that. Maybe a few would want me to reconsider, but I just don't see myself doing it again. I'll stick to coaching tennis in the fall, and the next time I see a soccer coach taking hell from those around him or her, I'll feel some very deep sympathy and admire the ones who can last a lot longer than me.

New Home

Ever notice that the first post on a new blog is usually short and utterly pathetic?

Me, too.