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Two Words: Jeff Ellis
Sunday, February 29, 2004
  Well, I am now officially into the second day of my vacation. Yes, that's right, it turns out that at some point in late December, I scheduled my second paid vacation (I have one left for future use) for the last week in February/first week of March of 2004. It was something I did on a whim (as the Christmas season is probably the most stressful time to be working in retail and, that night, I didn't know how to manage my store after 12 midnight but I sure as Hell knew that I needed a vacation) and it was something I ended up forgetting I had done a week later. So, apparently, did my bosses and we were all quite shocked when, on Thursday, we were doing a routine check on payroll (to see how much overtime had been clocked up the previous work week) and we discovered that I was scheduled to be on vacation during the upcoming week.

As the old mystic once said, sometimes life is good and sometimes life just kicks ass!

Even better, on Sunday morning (with only seconds left before I would clock out and begin my week of compensated slacking), Rusty called all the department leads, assistant managers, and night managers (myself and a 300 lbs. guy who we'll just refer to as Sloth) into his office for a conference call with the evil Trent, our district manager. (Perhaps Trent isn't literally evil but then again, he could very well be.) Our new store manager will be coming in on Monday. That was the entire announcement -- Trent hung up before anyone could ask any questions so we don't know this person's name, their experience, or even their sex! In short, any jerk that walks into the store on Monday could be the new store manager. Never will so many anonymous asses be kissed and fawned over than will be in Wal-Mart Store #2974 on Monday! And the great part of it is, I'm on vacation so I won't have to be there while everyone else has a nervous break down and even better, when this new manager is making his or her first examples in order to establish his or her fearful wrath or authority -- I won't be there! Everyone agrees that this new manager is going to make heads roll (if just because the evil Trent apparently told Charlie -- right after firing him -- that "I'm going to have to replace you with someone who knows how to make heads roll.") and luckily, my head will be nowhere near the guillotine for at least a week!

So, what have I done so far with my vacation? I slept through most of Saturday though I did wake up long enough to watch 28 Days Later on DVD (this was a Christmas present -- one of many presents that I hope to find time to watch this week). It was only my second time to see the film and I was somewhat shocked to find that it was just as disturbing on repeat viewings (though a lot of the film's humor -- missed in the original barrage of shocks -- was much more apparent and appreciated the second time around). I also grew more convinced that, for the first two thirds for the movie's running time, this was indeed one of the best, most intelligent horror films ever made. For me, the film falls apart once our band of survivors reach Manchester and the random, senseless hatred of the Infected is replaced by the much more conventional, almost comic book villainy of Maj. West and his soldiers. Though Chris Eccleston's performance as West was a truly brilliant one, it was also one that belonged in a totally different movie. Still, even if I didn't care that whole section of the film, it was still brilliantly shot and acted and, if it diluted from the effectiveness of the film as a whole, it still did nothing to diminish the power of the first half.

After I watched the film, I caught the infamous alternate ending that came with certain prints of the movie. This ending is a bit more bleaker than the ambiguously positive ending that completes the final film and actually, it's a bit more realistic as well and certainly it better fits into the whole theme of survival at any cost. So, from an artistic point of view, the bleaker ending was a better ending but, shit, I still prefer the "official" ending -- even if it does have a similar feel to the infamous green hills tacked onto the end of Blade Runner. Sometimes, aesthetics be damned, the boy just need to get the girl as it were! Besides, the bleak ending worked largely because it made so much logical sense, it was the "only" way the film could have ended. The ambiguously positive ending took a leap of faith to accept when compared to what had preceded it but honestly, the characters were all so appealing and well-played and their story so well told that I think most viewers would have been willing to make that leap. Indeed, bleak endings work the best when you just don't give a shit about any of the characters. (Would Seven have been as acclaimed if, say, it had been Sandra Bullock's head in that box instead of Gwynneth Paltrow's?) Bleak endings tend to reward logic while happy endings reward the emotions and, on the whole, I think logic is a bit overrated. Certainly, in a world ruled by logic, there'd be no art, no films, no books, nothing at all that could be cherished simply for existing.

Right now, I'm cherishing my vacation and the fact that it is raining and the fact that the Oscars are going to be on later tonight. I'm cherishing that yesterday, I got a package from my publisher and I opened it and looked down upon several author copies of my first book. I'm cherishing that it's being read somewhere, I'm cherishing that I have more books to write (perhaps over the course of this very week), and I'm cherishing the fact that I'm alive and I'm me.

Why would I need anything else? 
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Blogs

Reva Renee Renz -- Renz would have won my vote in 2003's California recall election, if not for the fact that I'm not a resident of California. Anyway, Renz was one of the more likeable candidates in that free-for-all, one of the few who took it seriously without giving into meglomania. Her blog gives the details of her run and her life after. Renz is the owner of Deva's Bar in Tustin, California and I have to admit that the only reason I currently desire to visit California is to have a beer at that bar. Renz stands as proof that Republicans are a lot more fun than most people care to admit.

Yankee From Mississippi -- Shannon Black's blog, featuring writing that often puts me to shame. Plus, isn't that just an amazingly cool title for a blog or anything else for that matter?

Crime

The Charley Project -- A huge site, detailings hundreds of cold cases dealing with missing persons. This site is actually far superior and better written than the similar and better known Doe Network.

Crime News 2000 -- Despite the 2000, this is a daily updated listing of all the latest developments in all the morbid and disturbing stories that tend to capture the national psyche nowadays.

Doe Network -- One of those web sites that justifies the existence of the internet in the first place, the Doe Network is a huge database of missing persons and unifidentified remains from around the world.

Is this girl Tara Leigh Calico? -- This web site details the disappearance of a 19 year-old girl in New Mexico back in the late '80s. The details of Tara Calico's disappearance have haunted me for years now and served as the genesis for my current interest about missing person cases in general.

Politics

Charles Jay -- Personal Choice Party Candidate For President In 2004 -- I wrote in Jay's name for President in 2004. I think about 228 other people -- mostly in Utah -- agreed with me.

D.C.'s Political Report -- With Politics1 on indefinite hiatus, this is now the best place on the web to find continually updated listings of who is running for what and where.

Homepage of the Libertarian Party -- I am a member of the Libertarian Party, even if the party itself can't ever quite seem to get it's act together.

National Review -- The magazine for both true conservatives and Libertarians who think Ayn Rand was a hack

Politics 1 -- The site is officially on hiatus but there's still the occasional update. The archival information on the various candidates in the 2000 and 2004 Presidential races always makes for interesting reading.

Pop Culture

Fametracker

Teevee

Writing

Amazon.com -- I've posted quite a few reviews of books, film, and music on this site and I've gotten a good deal of very gratifying and very positive feedback from them. (I've also managed to piss off just about everyone who cried when they saw Titanic for the 10th times but that's another story...) Those reviews can be found by searching the site for Jeffrey Ellis from Richardson, Texas.

The Homepage of Gregory Alan Norton -- Homepage of one of my favorite liberals, fellow writer Greg Norton who I published in the premier issue of Jack the Daw way back in 1995. His site quotes my review of his excellent first novel, There Ain't No Justice, Just Us and includes information on how to order the book.

Xlibris -- Homepage for Xlibris, the publishers of It's Impossible To Start A Fire If You Have No Desire To Burn

Blogarama - The Blog Directory