Friday, December 28, 2007
Lakers & Hasta La Vista
The Lakers look better this year than they have since Shaq left. They're 18 and 10 and going into a showdown with the Boston Celtics on Sunday; I'm taking my 15 year old nephew to that game as his birthday present. (Kevin's an amazing kid: six feet tall, 200 pounds, a black belt in karate, bona fide tough guy who plays three instruments and gets straight A's in school...)
Kevin was my birthday present: he came home from the hospital on my 30th birthday. As a result, he's the only person whose age I always know without having to think about it; he's my age, minus 30.
The Lakers really do look good. The Kobe haters are having a field day with the fact that Andrew Bynum, who Kobe wanted to trade last year for Jason Kidd, has blossomed into a top-5 center (maybe top 3; only Yao Ming and Dwight Howard are obviously better than Bynum right now) ... I don't doubt for a second that Kobe's more than happy to have been wrong. The guy may be a screaming psychotic, but that's OK by me; he's a screaming psychotic who wants to win more than he wants to breathe. And whom the Lakers might get to keep, if things go on as they have. The Lakers are tied for third place in the Western Conference right now -- the only team in the West that's clearly better than them is the Spurs, who are getting older.
We've been here before: last year the Lakers were 18 and 10, got hit by injuries, and spiraled into 7th place and a first-round date with the Phoenix Suns. Who creamed them. But last year the Lakers were winning games by about 1.7 points on average; this year their margin is 5+. In basketball terms, that's huge. Only the Celtics, Pistons, and Spurs have a higher winning margin, and historically, winning margin is a better predictor of playoff success than won/loss.
This is the first Lakers/Celtics game in twenty years that really made me feel like the Lakers really needed to win it. I hope they do.
There's a website, ManyBooks.net, that's hosting the books and short stories I've published as e-books -- which is OK -- but they're also tearing up the texts, displaying them with ads, and converting the texts into non-rtf and non-pdf formats. I'm recasting the copyright notice on the books; there's a busier-than-usual discussion going on over on the Continuing Time mailing list (http://ralf.org/ to join) -- about how to handle the copyright to permit such things as printing a copy for personal use, while not permitting tearing or converting the texts in a for-profit context. Any suggestions would be appreciated, though the guys on the mailing list seem to have a pretty good handle on it. I'll recast the copyright notices, share it here and on the list, and then resubmit all the texts over at Immunity with the new and more explicit copyright notices.
If you run across anything similar anywhere else -- the texts from Immunity, converted into non-rtf or non-pdf format (or the texts themselves altered in some fashion) ... I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know.
I'll have AI War back from Bantam in January. :-)
This has been a good year, even with constant low-grade stupidity with attorneys. Still hoping for better next year.
For years now we've barely had a functioning television at our house. The results are good; my kids get As and Bs; none of them have had a C in a couple years now. A while back I got rid of all the video games; the Gameboys, DSs, Xbox --
For Christmas my sons got scooters, skateboards, bicycles, and Nerf guns. The Nerf guns probably aren't politically correct, and I don't care; they're running around out in the yard shooting at each other and having wars, but the important part of that sentence is, "running around."
Since their video games got retired they've watched more movies (we have a couple portable DVD players) and read more books, and gotten more exercise. I couldn't be more pleased.
Santa brought me a nice leather jump rope. I'm in "good shape" -- I can play basketball for hours -- but man, getting outside the areas where I'm fit, I'm in terrible shape. Jumping rope is hard. I still haven't gone 100 jumps without tripping.
I'd love to box again, but being blind in one eye, getting hit around the eyes is probably a bad idea. I told Amy I wanted to box again a while back, you know, midlife crisis and all, and after laughing a little too hard for my pride, she advised me to have an affair instead, because a probably-divorced Dad was better for the kids than an entirely-blind one ...
Fifteen years life insurance, payout of a million and a half dollars, costs $145 a month, at my age. The insurance agency actually sent a woman to my house to give me a physical. It was a little weird getting an EKG while lying on my 6 year old's bed, because his room was the only room in the house without computers to throw the portable EKG off ... the first EKG, taken in my office, showed that I was dead ... which would make some people happy, but fortunately was a false reading. :-)
Best movies I saw this year: 3:10 to Yuma, Enchanted, Bourne Ultimatum, Live Free or Die Hard. None of them perfect, but all of them very good. Bourne probably the best of the bunch.
Worst movies I saw this year: Smoking Aces is easily the winner, but probably only because I didn't go see Hannibal. Ghost Rider gets an honorable mention here.
Movie I downright hated: No Country For Old Men.
Movie that surprised me the most: Transformers. A Michael Bay movie that didn't actually bite.
Movie I saw for the worst reason: Resident Evil: Extinction. Because of Milla.
Movie that made me saddest: The Seeker: The Dark is Rising. And that's without having gone to see it.
Movie I felt most virtuous about not going to see: Good Luck Chuck. Despite Jessica Alba in her panties. I admit, I thought Jessica Alba, circa Dark Angel, had no career ahead of her once that show was done; she had a nice little jailbait thing going on, but once that was gone I figured she'd age the way Brittany Spears has. (And yeah, I know, "age" is the wrong word; they're both still young.) But despite being unable to act a lick, Alba's matured nicely and managed to generate a nice little career for herself. Bright girl and nice to see her doing well.
Alba is also, like me, from Pomona. Vanessa Bryant -- Kobe's wife -- is also from Pomona.
A year or two back I was in a Denny's in Pomona at about 11:00 at night. We were on our way up to Mt. Baldy and we stopped overnight at a hotel in Pomona. The family crashed, I couldn't sleep, and the Denny's was across the street, so I walked over and got a late meal.
You desire what you grow up seeing, so I've heard, and it's certainly true in my case. There was a parade of women through that Denny's -- and I mean white, asian, black, latina -- who just nailed the sweet spot on the curve where I'm concerned. Maybe once or twice a day, in my normal day to day life, some woman really catches my eye. There were at least a dozen of them in that Denny's, that night.
You can take the boy out of Pomona, but you can't take the Pomona out of the boy ...
People I'm sorry are gone: Molly Ivins, Robert Anton Wilson, Kurt Vonnegut, Lloyd Alexander, Fred Saberhagen, Robert Jordan, Madeleine L'Engle, Dan Fogelberg ...
And Evel Knievel. There are very few men I've ever really wanted to be -- Warren Beatty, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney at different times in my life -- but I did have a period, and so did every man my age, when I really wanted to be Evel Knievel. He was a mean bastard, by all accounts, but I don't hold that against him; the conversion to Christianity though, just this year, was bush league. Die as you lived, and I wish he had.
Best wishes to Terry Pratchett. He has early onset Alzheimers, which most of the people reading this list probably already know. Good luck to him -- he's the author I'm fondest of, if not the author I think most highly of. His works have been hugely entertaining and worth every dime and every minute of my time.
Incapacity is the only thing that scares me, at least on my own account. Being unable to check out when it's time frightens me. Cancer? Heart disease? No worries. They come, I diagnose, I wrap things up and go to sleep at the right time. I'd be sorry, but I don't think I'd be scared.
Quadraplegia, stroke, dementia -- the inability to control when I check out is about all I really find frightening in life.
Best wishes to everyone for 2008.