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October 2001

12 posts from September 2001

Oldies: September 27, 2001...

Now, don't go and start thinking that I'm a Trekkie, because I'm not. However, last night I taped and started watching the new Star Trek series known simply as Enterprise, and let me tell you, it's pretty good so far. Scott Bakula stars as Captain Jonathan Archer who is the first human to command a ship in space. So, of course, people aren't quite sure what's going on, the technology is new, the aliens are... well... alien. It's just really damned cool. There's a lot more emotion in the characters than the old series. Just tune in to UPN (WPWR, ch. 50 in Chicago) on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. to see what I'm talking about. If you're not watching, then you're just missing out.


Oldies: September 26, 2001...

Holy hell, have things been busy. This past Thursday, Katie and I signed the lease on our new apartment and we started moving in on Friday. We're still getting everything organized, but at least its our mess. Living on our own has been incredible. We do what we want when we want. That's such a wonderful feeling.


Oldies: September 26, 2001...

We now have a phone line. Nope, I'm not gonna announce what it is here on my website. I wouldn't want any stalkers getting my phone number, now would I? Suffice it to say, we can now use something other than our cell phones to make calls. Now it's just a matter of finding a suitable ISP so we can connect to the Web and we'll be happy.


Oldies: September 17, 2001...

Here's a very poignant piece written by one of my colleagues here at AU, the Reverend Martin Forward who serves as the executive director of the Center for Faith and Action. It's something that a lot of people are forgetting about considering the events of last Tuesday...

You probably all know that Muslim Americans are under much pressure at the moment. A mosque has been burned in Seattle, and a number of hate incidents towards Muslims have happened. Of course, it is as stupid and evil to blame all or most Muslims for this week's horrors, as it is to blame all or most Christians for the Holocaust.

I took myself off to the mosque in Aurora for Friday prayers today. I wore a clerical collar to show solidarity with other religious people. I made a point of telling people I was Professor of Religion at Aurora University. I took a message of goodwill from you all to all Muslims who struggle, as the rest of us do, to make sense of this week's dreadful events. I was warmly received as a friend and ally against the forces of evil and darkness in the world. I had a number of interesting and encouraging conversations, but was also saddened that some of these decent people have been ignored or even cursed by their 'friends' at work.

The sermon was by a young Syrian American, who counseled people to have patience at this time and leave things to Almighty God, who will bring forth good from evil. He specifically said that such events have no justification in Islam's central teachings, and that the murder of innocent people is an abomination; it is something, to quote him, 'that God hates'.

So: please keep your fellow Americans, who happen to be Muslims, in your prayers, along with other victims of this satanic deed. Otherwise, we will be not much better than the violent few who have caused us so much righteous anger and national misery in the last few days.

--Martin Forward, Center for Faith and Action

Good advice folks.


Oldies: September 13, 2001...

Let's move on to another topic... still related, but somewhat different. Sports and how they were affected by the terrorism on Tuesday. Today is the third day that baseball games have been canceled. Commissioner Bud Selig has announced that they may still cancel more games, but he's gonna wait and see. The cool thing, though, is that he's been in constant contact with FOX-TV (which will be carrying most of the post-season and all of the World Series) and they have agreed with him that they should play out the entire 162-game season... even if it means pushing the World Series back to November. That's very cool. The commissioner of the National Football League has announced that he may look into a 15-game season so that they can cancel this coming Sunday's games (as well as, probably, the Monday night game). Many NCAA football games are canceled for this weekend as well including my alma Northern Illinois University. All other games scheduled during this week have been canceled as well.

TV has been weird lately. I can understand why normal programming has been suspended for now. It makes perfect sense, but it's just weird to not see any shows on any channels (for the most part, that is). Now, Hollywood is being affected too. Many movies that were scheduled for release in upcoming weeks have been pushed back if they have any sort of terrorist action or explosion. And some that just deal with New York (without violence) are being pushed back like Ed Burns' Sidewalks of New Yorkstarring him and Heather Graham. One of the movies that they showed on TV regarding this story that I found utterly ironic was the teaser trailer for the new Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe. The teaser shows a helicopter getting stuck in a spider web stretched between the World Trade Center towers. This film isn't slated to premiere until May of next year. By that time, when they show this scene, the towers will have been down for over eight months. That may not bode well to the movie-watching public. But, then again, the emotions stirred may not be all too bad. You can never really gauge how something like this will go over. I guess we'll just wait and see. I hope the director doesn't change it because the scene is really cool and I like it a lot. Other affected movies include Big Troublewith Tim Allen and Rene Russo because, even though it's a comedy, it deals with a bomb in a suitcase. Another affected film is Arnold Schwarzenegger's Collateral Damage in which his wife and child are killed by a terrorist attack and he swears vengeance. The people working on Men in Black II are considering rewriting the ending to the film (sorry, I don't know what the original ending dealt with). With all the movies being pulled, the September 21st weekend is now only seeing one major release, Glitter starring Mariah Carey. If you have any semblance of good taste, you'll stay the hell away from theatres that day.

Sports Update: Baseball games have been suspended through Sunday with the intent to start games again on Monday, September 17. The NFL has also decided to cancel their games for this coming weekend. However, there is no word on whether they will reschedule them or just reduce the season to 15 games. We shall see.


Oldies: September 12, 2001...

Hey, hey... long time, no rant. And I'm sure you know what this rant will be in regards to. Yesterday was horrible, indeed. I'm sure we can all agree on that, right? But, if you say that you didn't see it coming, you must be naive as all hell. That's one of the things that pissed me off most about yesterday were the man-on-the-street interviews with people who were saying "I can't believe this happened here" or "why did we let this happen?" Think about it people. It was all too easy and just a matter of time before it did happen.

Have you ever been to the airport? Do you know how easy it is to get away with just about anything there? Yes, there are metal detectors and security checks. But have you ever looked at the people that run this security? They could give two shits about their jobs. And Logan Airport (Boston) where two of the hijacked flights originated, is supposed to be even worse. They are in the middle of massive architectural overhaul and security just wants to make sure people get where they need to be as quickly as humanly possible. This info came from a caller into WXRT 93.1 Chicago. She says when she went to Logan, they barely checked her. She realized, once she got on the plane, that she had a can of mace in her carry-on luggage. The same can of mace has gotten her carted off to security at other airports. Plus, a reporter on Channel 5 (NBC Chicago) said that one of the weapons that the hijackers used was a box cutter. You know, the razor bladed knives used in warehouses and retail stores to cut open boxes. When the blade is retracted, either into a metal or plastic casing, security tends to let it through as though it were a razor for shaving your face. Dunno how you confuse those two, but they do. Bingo, instant weapon. And let me tell you, a box cutter is a pretty nasty weapon. One that I would definitely be afraid of in the wrong hands. Channel 5 also replayed an investigative report of theirs in which a producer went in undercover and applied for a job at O'Hare. He was hired on the spot without a security check or reference check. Within two days, he was working the metal detectors checking people and their luggage firsthand with no training. Then he was able to walk around freely on the tarmac and enter planes by himself with nobody asking to see his I.D. or ask what he was doing there. Sad.

But, worse than all this security garbage, is apathy. The apathy of American citizens to be exact. Americans have this bad habit of making the assumption that democracy provides us with some invisible and impenetrable shield from the evils of the rest of the world. "We are the United States! We are the top of the political, economic and militaristic food chain! You cannot harm us!" Guess what, people. They got to us. And they got to us hard. Don't get me wrong, democracy is great and I would not want to live under any other political system. But, face facts people, it's just that... a political "system." A political system is a set of beliefs or ideals enacted for people to live under. It is not a shield... it is not a safety blanket. Yet, people seem to think that our political system makes us invulnerable. One word... "horseshit." We, as American citizens, take too much for granted. Plus, many of these terrorists do not believe in our democratic ideals, so why should they give a shit? I've been watching terrorist activities overseas on TV and reading about them in newspapers for years and thinking the entire time, "this could happen to us all too easily." I guess, unfortunately, that I was right. We also did not know what to do to deal with the situation once it happened. I think the only people that were prepared were the doctors at the Manhattan hospitals (I can't remember the name of the particular hospital). They had been the nerve center when the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993. Plus, approximately twice a year, they run drills to prepare themselves for just this sort of emergency. God bless them for being prepared. God bless the fact that there was an international convention of doctors in Manhattan as well who all offered their services in this bleak hour.

I think it's time we take a cue from our European friends who deal with terrorism at home on a regular basis. Britain deals with all kinds of IRA bombings on a semi-regular basis (not quite this extreme, but still and all the same). Germany deals with it pretty regularly as well. Not the IRA in their case, but other terrorist factions. It's time to heighten security at airports. Time to put armed guards on planes like we did in the 70s. Time to forego curbside check-in at airports. Time to re-evaluate emergency disaster and anti-terrorism procedures in every city across the U.S. no matter how small you may be. Simply put, it's time to wake up America. Soapbox dismounted.


Oldies: September 11, 2001...

Good morning, boys and girls. The word for the day is "terrorist." Can you say "terrorist?" Yep, that's my take on this morning's crash of two planes into each of the towers of the World Trade Center in NYC. You heard me right, at 8:45 a.m. a plane - possibly described as a small commuter plane - hit the southern tower of the World Trade Center. Then, approximately 18 minutes later, a second plane hit the other tower. Okay, either this is a terrorist hijacking with intent to kill or one helluva coincidence. I'll have more details as they become available. Not too many at this time other than one tower has a gaping, eight-story hole in it. Christ.

Now there is also a fire at the Pentagon and the White House is being evacuated for precaution's sake. A group for the liberation of Palestine is claiming responsibility for the plane hijackings. Oh, and now there's news that the fire at the Pentagon was the result of another plane crash. Goddammit.

Both towers of the World Trade Center have collapsed. A car bomb has exploded outside the State Department in D.C. A large commercial airliner has crashed outside Pittsburgh (Somerset, PA?). United Airlines flight 93 has crashed either on or around Camp David where the President goes on retreat (he wasn't there right now). Part of the Pentagon has now collapsed as well. Word is that the pilot of the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania decided to take his plane down there instead of somewhere more populated because he wanted to minimize the loss of life. If so, he's my new hero. The planes at the World Trade Center were a 757 and a 737. This is insane. Katie and I are both scared to death. We're on the verge of cancelling our honeymoon so that we can avoid flying anywhere. They believe that the attacks are happening today because it is the anniversary of the Camp David Peace Accords. Apparently, Osama Bin Laden has warned that he would take vengeance out on "American interests." I'd say he's succeeded... if he is, in fact, responsible for this. So much for the "safety and sanctity" of the United States.

Final Update of the day: Okay, four planes crashed and none of them were near Camp David unlike I originally reported. The fourth plane, which crashed in Somerset County, PA was turning around outside of Cleveland and heading back (possibly to Camp David or The White House or the U.S. Capitol building) when it crashed. It seems like this was an intentional grounding of the plane by the pilot. And the only deaths were the passengers... nobody on the ground since it crashed in the sticks. The picture that I included above is, in my opinion, one of the most incredible photos I've ever seen in my life. It shows the second jet moments before it struck Tower 2. Just look at how the plane is dwarfed by the building. I was in such shock when I found this photo. Damn.


Oldies: September 10, 2001...

Well, the new site has officially been launched for Aurora University. If you'd like to see exactly what it is that I do here at work, you can view the fruits of my labor here. If the page that comes up doesn't show a nice website with a blue border on the left edge, then keep trying for a few days. It still takes some servers a little time to recognize the fact that our URL has changed the server that it refers to. Give it some time.


Oldies: September 8, 2001...

Thankfully, Katie and I are now done with all the showers planned for our wedding. She's also lucky enough to be done with her bachelorette party as well. Thanks to everyone involved who made these celebrations great. We are both very thankful to have such great family and friends. And, oh yeah, apparently my bachelor party is coming up pretty soon as well. Joy.


Oldies: September 6, 2001...

In the Chicago Tribune this morning, I read an article about the summer box office. Pretty good article, actually. It talks about how, despite all these "blockbuster" movies that were released, there really isn't much of a standout movie of the summer, per se. Lara Croft bombed by comparison to the expectations for it. Same with Pearl Harbor and The Mummy Returns. Both did bring in good cash, but not what their respective studios hoped for. Think about all the movies you saw this summer... does any one stand out as a great flick? Guess what. There was only one overwhelmingly positive film of the summer despite the fact that its studio didn't think it would turn out to be the blockbuster it became. That would be Dreamworks' Shrek. And I would definitely have to agree with the Trib on this one. Shrek was an incredible film that brought in an incredible haul of over $260 million (second-highest gross for an animated film behind The Lion King). I contributed to this gross by seeing this movie three times in the theatre at full price. Yes, I will admit that I did see some movies this summer that were good. For example, I liked Rush Hour 2 (almost more than the original) and I got some good laughs out of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and American Pie 2. I also had some fun watching The Fast & The Furious and Swordfish. But, to be honest, Shrek is the only movie that really defines "The Summer of 2001" for me. Unless, of course, you wanna talk about nearly pissing myself watching The Others. Damn that was a good scary movie.


Oldies: September 4, 2001...

For those people who are fans of the movie Almost Famous (myself included), here's some good news for ya. On December 4th, one day before my birthday, Cameron Crowe will be releasing a new three-disc version of the movie. I've heard that it's either going to be titled Almost Famous: Untitled (which sounds like the official title) or Almost Famous: Bootleg Edition (which is the name I prefer). The first DVD will be the special edition of the movie with about 30 minutes of deleted footage added back in where it belongs. The second DVD will be the original, theatrical release of the film. The third disc, and this is the coolest part of it, will be an EP compact disc of music recorded by Stillwater (the band in the film) and given as gifts to the cast and crew of the film at the wrap party. That will be something to enjoy for sure. I loved this movie and I'm glad I held on and didn't buy the first DVD version of the film. I wanted to buy it so badly, but my resilience paid off. And one day before my birthday to boot. Hint, hint, clue, clue, knock y'all over the head.


Oldies: September 3, 2001...

I'm baaaaacccckkk. Sorry it's been a while, but I've been really bogged down at work and haven't had the time, nor the desire, to update. But, now I do. Oh, yeah, Happy Labor Day, by the way. So, here goes...

Today, my brother and I returned from Florida where we were visiting our grandparents. We spent a lot of time hanging out with them and talking which was good since we haven't seen them in a few years. But, on Sunday, Brian and I took our rented Mitsubishi Galant ES (a helluva sweet ride, I might add) and tooled on over to New Smyrna Beach on the Atlantic Coast. Yep, the very same New Smyrna that has become synonymous with shark attacks. Despite all the maulings of late (with two more today in Virginia and North Carolina that resulted in deaths to two people), I went in the water... very tentatively, of course. But I went in up to my waist and didn't get touched. Of course, I didn't want to be attacked. I just wanted to see one. If I saw one anywhere, I would have been out of that water faster than... well... pretty damned fast. Then Brian and I went up to Daytona Beach and spent some time on the Boardwalk and did one of those launchers. This is a device in which you sit in a metal frame (two people) and are launched in the air using industrial size bungee cords. We have a video of this launch and my eyes are sealed shut almost the whole time. I'm a wuss. I admit it.