Monday, October 26, 2009

Goodbye Geocities

Today, with a relatively quiet whimper that hardly does justice to its lasting legacy, Yahoo! finally pulled the plug on longtime web hosting site Geocities. In an instant millions of long ignored, aesthetically bankrupt, badly formatted pages suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. Perverse slash fiction websites, "unofficial" celebrity fan pages, esoteric web rings and clubs, countless web counters; all now the forever lost recorded ephemera of the primordial era of the Internet.

As part of the generation that was born with and grew up concurrently with the personal computer and eventual evolution of the Internet, the death of Geocities is definitely a somber moment. For many of us our crappy personal Geocities page was our first innocent baby steps into this omnipresent force in our lives called the Internet. One can only look back with wistful pixelated nostalgia about a time when having a scrolling marquee or a three frame animated gif on your page was a big deal, where you could find an AOL trial CD in your mailbox every week, when a thirty second wav file took half an hour to download and a thirty second lo-res porn clip took half a day, when "The Net" seemed like cutting edge futurist cinema. Simpler times, indeed.

Although I lost track of it nearly a decade ago and I doubt that it even survived this long, when I heard the news of Geocities imminent demise I still wondered if one of those doomed long abandoned pages was my first web page made back in middle school. Like a great majority of Geocities sites I spend all of an hour setting it up and nothing more afterwards. It was basically a single homepage with some generic background wallpaper, a picture of Mr. T (I used to love watching reruns of the A-Team growing up, some neon scrolling font welcoming people to what I called my "Super Fun Happy Website", and some random greeting message to anyone fortunate enough to come upon my site. In a way it can be viewed as the proto-Victor Sells Out.

While we'll never know if my site still existed up to today, for the benefit of all you readers out there, I have managed to create a crude artist's rendering from memory of what it may have looked circa 1997, right down to the Netscape browser:

That counter should be closer to 10.

Misty poorly coded memories, of the way we were...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

In my beautiful balloon...

Does it make me a callous, warped person that the first thought I had after reading the breaking story about the lost six year old child being trapped inside a homemade hot air balloon was "Up Up and Away" by the 5th Dimension?

Actually what would really make me a bad person would be if I referred the kid as having pulled a "Steve Fossett" (which I sort of just did I guess...). If only the kid was old enough to have read the classic Choose Your Own Adventure Book "By Balloon to the Sahara". That story completely turned me off the romantic myth of free form hot air balloon travel. Every other ending had my party and I getting killed or abducted.

*UPDATE: It looks like the kid was the real villain in all this; little shit was hiding in the attic the whole time. He'll probably get a Today Show appearance out of this.

Friday, October 09, 2009


I just have two minor points to add to my previous post. First, it is nearly unforgivable that I had completely forgotten to reference, in an article about America blowing up the moon, the completely apt "Mr. Show" sketch about America blowing up the moon. Second, to the exhilaration of some and the dismay of others, President Obama was surprisingly awarded the Noble Peace Price today. The official reason stated was for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples", but given that this prestigious award comes on the same day as America's dive bombing of the moon, it doesn't take much to see through that ambiguous diplomatic double talk and realize that the real reason is "hey, thanks for taking a shot at the moon on behalf of the earth".

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Da Earth Rulez #1

Under the thinly veiled guise of conducting "research" our nation's best and brightest minds over at NASA will be conducting a small bombing run on the moon Friday morning. Ostensibly this planned collision is to take a series of scientific measurements with regards to the surface and erupting debris in an effort to seek out possible buried ice water on the barren satellite. However, let's really be honest with ourselves about this whole affair. This is just the latest chapter in man's ongoing quest to stick it to the moon; and really there's no more worthy an endeavor out there for mankind.

Since the dawn of human history our old gray nemesis, the moon, has menacingly circled us, like the Death Star, constantly looking for new ways to wipe us out from Mother Earth. It attempts to drown and purge us by manipulating the tides. It tries its best to block our access to the sun and have, in the past, drove many of our primitive civilizations into mass hysteria. It saddled us with an unreliable calendar system before we changed to solar. It gives us endless swarms of werewolves that continue to plague humanity. It has provided a fertile home for alien races that are hostile to us. It inspired a certain creepy fast food mascot from my childhood that still continues to haunt my adult dreams.

With no immediate end in sight, the unwavering battle between man and moon rages on, with this latest salvo being the most significant strike at the satellite since Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and some other guy first shoved an American flag down its throat for all mankind. It appears that this seemingly eternal war of attrition will continue until the day when either the moon smashes into the Earth and causes a planet-wide mass extinction of all life or when we tame and colonize it and proudly build a Moon Walmart on the lunar surface.

So godspeed on your kamikaze mission LCROSS probe. We will never forget your brave sacrifice for the ongoing effort. I just hope NASA has planned for the obvious counter attack from the moon that awaits.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Well Camus can do, but Sartre is smartre!

You ever have one of those lousy days where everything is just ever so slightly off kilter, and nothing seems to work out the way you expect despite your best efforts, leaving you feeling ultimately powerless and impotent as you suddenly develop a heightened sense of your own mortality and begin to question if your own actions have any meaningful influence in your life as you sink deeper and deeper into a sort of existential funk where you find yourself at the end of the day staring at your bedroom ceiling while desperately pondering the question "why?" over and over again kind of like that famous footage of Nancy Kerrigan surrounded by reporters and doctors after her attack?

Yeah, I guess I could consider today a bit of a wash. Well, it's probably nothing a couple of late night syndicated Seinfeld reruns and a good night's sleep won't cure.

Friday, October 02, 2009

You've just crossed over into...

50 years ago this evening, Rod Serling took America on a journey through a fifth dimension beyond which was known to man -- a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, where the boundaries were that of imagination. Indeed, is the 50th anniversary of the television debut of...the "Twilight Zone".

Anyone who knows me is well aware that I am a massive "Twilight Zone" fan. Watching the "Twilight Zone" marathon on TV was one of my earliest childhood television memories and it still continues to be a bi-yearly ritual for me to catch the 4th of July and New Years marathons on the SyFy Channel (typing out that new name will never stop feeling ridiculous). I have my dog eared copy of the definitive "Twilight Zone Companion", a drawer of full tapes of random episodes I've gotten over the years, and I always make it a priority everytime I'm at Disneyworld to ride the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (despite the fact that they totally nerfed the initial fall to the point of boredom). As a lifelong fan of the show, I really can't add much to say about it that hasn't already been said. It's like a writing a blog post about the Beatles, what more praise can you add?

I could have done some obvious and tedious tribute to mark the occasion like giving my top 10 Twilight Zone episodes, or reviewing the mini-marathon they had on SyFy (still ridiculous) earlier today, or writing about what a pioneering genius Rod Serling was, or how mind blowing this show must have been in 1959, etc. However, I figured in the same unexpected, twist tradition of the "Twilight Zone", I'd go a different route.

While Rod Serling is obviously known for his "Twilight Zone" work, many don't know that he co-wrote the screenplay for possibly the greatest twist ending movie in history, "Planet of the Apes" (if you're actually wondering what this twist I'm referring to is, please exit the cave you've been living in and check out the movie. It's been over 40 years, I figure there's been enough of a spoiler warning). The 1968 movie was actually adapted from the book and it was Serling who came up with the new classic "it was earth all along" ending. The book itself, which I remember slogging through back in high school, was literally about a guy landing on another planet of apes where apes evolved over humans who then went back to Earth hundreds of years later to find it also had become run by apes (it's sort of like the Marky Mark ending from the 2001 remake). It was a mild twist, but far inferior to Charlton Heston screaming in frustration on the shore at a ruined Statute of Liberty.

From the setup to the payoff and the moral message in between, the movie itself really comes off as a feature length "Twilight Zone" episode. It was so much like a standard "Twilight Zone" episode that a few years back one intrepid fan actually edited the entire movie down into a classic half hour, black and white, episode complete with title sequences and introductory and closing narrations. The whole thing comes off as a completely inspired piece of editing. Although things get expectedly a little choppy in the second act of the story, the perfect fit of the opening and closing narration from previous Twilight Zone episodes ("Elegy" and "The Shelter" respectively) alone makes this a classic.

So to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the "Twilight Zone", here's the unofficial "lost" episode: