Drear

Man…drear, drear and more drear. Rain or snow, a sky covered in clouds–whatever, it’s awful.

I’ve been sleeping an average of one to two hours every evening, between 5pm and 9pm (I work 8am-4pm). I then sleep a full seven hours. It’s a particularly odd situation for me since I spent the last fifteen years being unable to sleep well at all.

I’m pretty sure it’s a mild case of season affective disorder. I’m not really depressed–no more than anyone is during weather like this–but I am exhausted all the time.

OK…just had to vent for a second.

Men Against the Arctic

Rotor Magazine has posted an article on their website about the 1955 Disney short film “Men Against the Arctic.” My grandfather, Captain Hank Cassani (ret.), helped fly the helicopters used in the filming of the short. It went on to win an Oscar for Best Short Subject Story in 1956.

But the story behind the scenes is just as interesting, featuring a helicopter being forced to land in Arctic waters and a run-in with a polar bear. You can read the article here (PDF). In the photo, my grandfather is standing third from right.

Roy Scheider, 1932-2008

Roy Scheider, the actor who spoke the immortal line in JAWS that gave this website its name, passed away yesterday. He was 75.

In the last act of JAWS, Scheider’s character, Chief Martin Brody, is ladling chum out of the back of a boat when the giant shark pops his head out of the water for the first time. A shocked Brody backs all the way into the cabin, where he turns to Captain Quint and says, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.” The line was an ad-lib by Scheider and was #35 on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes.

Scheider had many other memorable performances in other movies, such as The French Connection. But for me, he will always be Chief Brody. Rest in peace, Chief.

…sigh…

And so, with that wonderful send-off (that’s sarcasm, folks), we officially enter the long, dark period when New Englanders just grit their teeth, turn their faces away from the freezing wind, and pray for spring. Sometimes it starts as early as mid-January, when the post-holiday glow wears off, but it was held off a bit this year. Well, not anymore.

(And don’t remind me the Wonder Twins Manning can now put their rings together–which, combined, still don’t match the number on Tom Brady’s hand, by the way. So there.)

February and March are tough months in New England. I’ve often thought Garfield got it right when he referred to February as “the Monday of months,” but now I’m not allowed to say that because DG’s birthday is in February. Of course, DG is also currently on a trip to Los Angeles, which, despite some inclement weather, still promises at least some sun and warmth.

Last summer and fall were pretty warm, even hot, so it’s only the last week or so that I’ve actually started to miss it. But now I wouldn’t mind some sun and, more importantly, some green on the trees.

But that’s a long ways off. Until then, I’ll just have to turn my face away from the wind and–DAMMIT! If they’d just lost ONE freakin’ game, like that one against Baltimore they had no business winning anyway, this wouldn’t be so painful

…it’s going to be a long couple of months.

Wedding blog goes live

Just wanted to point out the new blog chronicling the upcoming nuptials between DG and me:

Jason and Karen Get Married

On the environment

This editorial perfectly articulates my position on man-made climate change.

An Inconvenient Question

The write creates an analogy between smoking and man-made climate change. The tobacco industry successfully suppressed or cast doubt on evidence that smoking caused cancer for years. If you’d read a report of such evidence in the 1960s, would you have kept smoking–a luxury habit–at the risk of dying of lung cancer later?

Of course, the answer is very often yes, for reasons related to the nature of the human brain. The question is whether humanity has enough imagination and willpower to overcome these inherent mental and emotional obstacles.

On the same topic, here’s a great guide to the candidates’ positions and records on environmental issues.

A New–and Big–Year

First off, apologies for the long lack of posting. Between the holidays and my birthday, things were pretty busy in December.

The holidays went well. My fiancee, DG, and I remained here in Massachusetts and spent it with my family. We made an effort to mix our family traditions–we all exchanged pajamas on Christmas Eve, as her family does, and then we watched a Christmas movie, one of my own family’s traditions (this year it was the critically acclaimed classic Ernest Saves Christmas–which, I have to say, doesn’t have nearly as much Ernest in it as you would expect. Whether that’s a good or bad thing I leave up to you).

Of course, the real reason I’ve neglected this blog is because of the new kid in town. I posted daily–sometimes more than daily–over there all last month. I’m really enjoying it–as I told my Web designer, it’s my favorite new toy.

But it does leave me wondering what to do with Biggerboat. I always had trouble trying to decide what to post here–I didn’t really want it to be a purely personal blog, but on the other hand, my plans for it to be the home page of “speculative science fiction author Jason F.C. Clarke” hasn’t really panned out either.

I suppose it will end up morphing into a mainly personal blog, a way for my friends and family to keep up on what I’m doing–not unlike my cousin’s site. After all, I will occasionally want to post something not toy-related.

Speaking of which, 2008 is going to be a banner year for me. DG will get her Ph.D; the two of us will tie the knot in August; and I will turn the ripe old age of 30 before year’s end. How crazy will I be driven? Wait and see!

Pats-Ravens

Anyone else wonder how many people who defended the officiating at the Pats-Colts game are complaining about it regarding last night’s game? Maybe that’s unfair, but I’m pretty sure you could find a few people–at least among fans, if not sportswriters–who thought nothing of the Colts game, but are now acting like the NFL is the WWE and is deliberately rigging the games.

I don’t buy it–if the NFL were the WWE, the Pats would be heels and the Ravens would have won the game on that last pass.

I admit I’m being unfair here–I haven’t actually caught anyone in the act of doing this. But the general air of the sportswriters over on ESPN’s website is that the Pats caught a lot of breaks, and the site is happily printing all the Ravens’ players complaints about the officiating.

New toy blog goes live

The hard work of my webmaster, Sean O’Brien, and my friend Kate have paid off: witness the advent of Poe Ghostal’s Points of Articulation, my brand-new attempt to find some worthy outlet for my toy-related obsessions. The site looks fantastic; I can’t thank Sean and Kate enough for their great work.

L.A. Story

Phew! Been a long time since I posted here, and much has happened. I (and several friends) have been working hard on the aforementioned toy blog, which will hopefully go live very soon. When that happens, BBn will become more of a personal blog.

Now onto the real news. As you’ll recall, I proposed to DG back in August. She hails from Simi Valley, just outside Los Angeles, and so while spending the Thanksgiving holiday with her family, we took the time to schedule the big day as well as find a location. The process was mildly stressful, but relieved by the presence of dogs, a trip to Disneyland, and large amounts of turkey and stuffing.

The wedding will be held at a beautiful ranch in Malibu next August. It will be an outdoor ceremony, followed by a reception in the hall next door.

ranch 1
Here’s a look at the garden where the ceremony will take place. The dogs (there’s a French bulldog at the bottom right, too) are native to the ranch but, presumably, not present during the ceremony.

calamigos 2
Here’s a closer look at the garden.

calamigos 3
And this is just a small peek at the beautiful, enormous reception hall. We haven’t yet pinned down any other details–including a guest list. But since the wedding will be in Los Angeles, which isn’t exactly convenient for many of our New England-based friends and family, there will be an East Coast reception party at some point as well.

As I mentioned, DG and I also spent a day at Disneyland. I’ve been to Disney World twice (both prior to becoming a teenager), but never Disneyland. I wasn’t sure what differences there were between the two theme parks, but I knew one thing: Disneyland had churros. I’d never had a churro, but after reading a Family Guy comic in which Peter said, “This is what God would eat if he weren’t diabetic,” I decided it was time to try one. (For the record, it was good. Kind of like a stick of fried dough covered with cinnamon sugar.)

I’m not a huge fan of rollercoasters. Or any fast ride, really. Of course, real rollercoaster afficionados wouldn’t probably deign to label the fastest ride at Disneyland as a “rollercoaster,” but they’re plenty fast for me. DG managed to drag me on every single ride that bore a physical health warning (except for Splash Mountain, which was broken). We went on so many rides that I soon discovered the exact degree to which I was comfortable on fast rides: the Indiana Jones Adventure and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad represent the upper limit of what I can handle and still get some enjoyment out of the experience. The Matterhorn, on the other hand, was a bit too intense.

Let’s not even talk about Space Mountain. The last time I went to Disney World, I had just managed to work up the gumption to get on Space Mountain when my parents decided it was time to leave. I half-heartedly protested, but secretly I was relieved not to have to test my mettle. This time, I stood in line for an hour and a half in order to spend four minutes in pure, unadulterated terror. The turns were so powerful I could feel the blood rushing from one side of my head to the other, and had a headache for hours afterward.

Disneyland
Here we are in happier times, before I came face-to-face with my own mortality on Space Mountain.

teacups.jpg
It wasn’t all rollercoasters and contemplation of one’s death. Here’s DG gleefully making me ill on the Mad Hatter’s teacups.

But I kid my beloved wife-to-be. I had a great time at Disneyland. The Indiana Jones ride was a blast. I got to visit Star Tours once again (this time around, I noticed that the robotic pilot is voiced by Paul Reubens, a.k.a. Pee-Wee Herman).

The Haunted Mansion Holiday was interesting. For those who don’t know, Disney now overhauls the Haunted Mansion ride with a Nightmare Before Christmas theme during the holidays. I was a bit disappointed–I hadn’t seen the original Haunted Mansion in ages and hoped to enjoy it with adult eyes. But it was still cool to experience the NBX-ized version.

And the churro was awesome.

Since I spent last year with DG and her family in LA, this year she’ll join my family for our Xmas craziness. It began the very weekend we returned, with the annual Christmas Tree Hunt. With a group of family and friends we drove an hour and a half out to Sterling, Mass., where we proceeded to cut down a number of live Christmas trees (DG and I did not get one–our apartment is too small for an unwieldy live tree). At this point, my younger sister is about the only person who’s still as enthusiastic for this trip as she was when we made the first one nearly twenty years ago.

Still, DG and I got a nice photo out of it:

treehunt07.JPG

1 2 3 4 5 40