behind enemy lines is one of these recent war movies that's coming out ahead of schedule in order to milk the patriotic fervor of the moviegoing audience. it works both ways, studios make money and people get to see films about the american military kicking some ass (which is exactly what we want nowadays, when is rambo 4 by the way?).

i was entertained by behind enemy lines. it totally plays off of the charisma of owen wilson, his kind of nonchalant i'm-better-than-you i-can-talk-my-way-out-of-anything blonde boy attitude. you're going to have to accept that in order to enjoy the movie, although the fact that his character is being pursued by serbians out to kill him (but you know he won't really die, this is hollywood) might just put some nonfans into those theatre seats, just to see him endangered.

this move isn't a saving private ryan. i don't believe for one second that it's depiction of war is the way people actually fight. but i still bought into it, except for two things. first, the admiral of the aircraft carrier (gene hackman, whom i'm not a big fan of, he always plays meanies) personally carries out the rescue mission, flying one of the helicopters himself. this bothers me to no end! what happens if the head of command gets killed, or worse yet, captured? it's as if george bush himself is crawling on his belly in the caves of tora bora looking for osama! it doesn't make sense, other than to put everyone (gene and owen) together for the final shot as the good guys fly away into the sunset. the second nonplausible item in the movie is how owen wilson is able to reactivate the emergency eject seat homing beacon by pulling a macgyver and rewiring the power supply to his flashlight battery. do they really train fighter pilots on electrical engineering? i'm a graduate of engineering school and i couldn't to save my life rewire anything, especially if i was being pursued by serbian snipers and tanks and soldiers. couldn't they have just made a simple button that he could push in order to activate the homing beacon?

one part of the movie i really liked is how been owen wilson came across some besieged muslims fighting the serbs, they weren't all happy to see an american, and as a matter of fact, even threatened to kill him. for a split second the movie dips into reality and reveals that there's nothing concrete in actual warfare. but then the serbs kill everyone but owen wilson, and we revert back to hollywood style war as owen wilson escapes the serbs once again by using a disguise (the camera goes slow motion as he coolly walks away, taking off the mask to reveal his face).

the sniper sent out to hunt owen wilson, i thought that character was pretty cool. not since nicholas cage's little junior brown in kiss of death has a man in a running jacket looked more menacing. while everyone else around him is in military fatigues, our sniper is dressed casually, which makes him seem that much deadlier, because he's so different from everyone else.

in these jingoistic times, it's almost your patriotic duty to go out and see a couple of war movies. with the lines between right and wrong, good and evil, being blurred in the actual wars we fight nowadays, we look up to hollywood to show us how wars should be fight, heroically and always looking good in the face of danger.

john's first day
march 19th 2001

john's last day
december 21st 2001

almost exactly 9 months ago john miller started working at srm. i remember i had mixed feelings about the new old coworker. part of the fun of working in a new place is that nobody knows who i am, i get to reinvent myself. i have no past, everything's a clean slate. when john started working here, there'd be somebody at work who knew my secrets, who would have embarassing stories to tell about me. at the same time, i welcomed john to the office, it's fun to have somebody there you have a long history with, and we can always reminiscence about the good old days and make everybody feel left out that. having worked with him for the past 9 months, i can now say that it was a completely worthwhile and unregrettable experience. like i wrote on his good bye card today, we are classmates in the school of work. we've worked together for almost 4 years now, just like 4 years of college, or 4 years of high school. it's just so great to see a familiar face in the office. true, my new srm coworkers are like my extended family now, but nothing beats a familiar face. it's like home. i didn't have to do anything special for john, we knew each others quirks, the comfort of familiarity. you can't buy that in a store. that's the kind of stuff you grow over time. i will also say that john miller is my only friend at work. true, i do stuff with my other coworkers (my coworker friends as i like to call them), but it's always during work or right after work (with some minor exceptions, like that weekend ski trip, or the time i watched them compete in a triathlon). john miller is the only person i work with that we do things outside of work. with john not in the office, we lose the funniest person downstairs (matthew is the funniest person upstairs, and as to who's the funniest person in the entire company, we never had a laugh off to determine the king/queen of the office yuck yucks so i guess we'll never know that answer). sure, it's going to be a little quieter without john's presence, but what price is peace when you lose the walking talking entertainment system of the office? to say john miller will be missed is i think an understatement. i don't think people realize it now, but come january, when we all go back to work, i'm going to be hearing crickets, and that's not a good thing. i might have to pick up where john left off, maybe he can give me a few pointers so that the spirit of jmiller can still live in the office.

this morning coming into work i saw a wino drink something inappropriate on the subway train. he was sitting next to this man reading a newspaper who's body language revealed he desperately wanted to be nowhere near our delightful alcoholic stranger. the wino would mumble to himself then lean close to the newspaper man and mumble to him. newspaper man would nod and smile politely, occasionally looking across the subway trying to garner some sympathy for his plight, perhaps trying to rouse a fellow commuter to come to his rescue if something were to happen. suddenly something did happen. from his jacket the wino took out a bottle of yellow listerine. not a small bottle either, but a big one, 2 pints of mouthwash at least. it wasn't even really listerine but the more generic cheapy cvs listerine, cvs's corporate identity logo clearly visible on the bottle. our wino didn't just take a sip, but rather he guzzled down gulps after gulps as if he was drinking nothing more than ice tea of an extremely spicy flavor. at the next stop he got out. he must be the nicest smelling wino because when he shuffled past me to get out of the train, i could smell his very clean breath. but drinking all that listerine, that stuff was probably coming out of his pores anyway (as theorized by eliza).

outside the office i saw carrie getting out of her car. i didn't really notice carrie as much as i was drawn to her red pants. drawn so much to them that i just had to take a photo, to remember this occasion forever.

we had a pizza party for lunch today. good because i would get free lunch, bad because it made me forget to go to the mall. i probably wasn't able to really go anyway because i needed all 8 hours of work to finish up my self evaluation form. i am not good at self evaluating. it feels awkward, and being a modest person, it feels wrong to be tooting my own horns so to speak. i am probably so much more critical of myself than other people. i am my own worst critic, and i'm afraid i'll hand in an evaluation where it does nothing but to highlight all my weaknesses and mistakes. but real funny today, almost everyone was doing his/her evaluation, sort of like back at school before a project is due and everybody is busy working on their own thing. i finally finished mine by 4pm and when i told amanda, she told me to leave her alone (except those weren't the exact words she used), perhaps thinking i was gloating (when i really wasn't).

with the work day almost over i presented john with his farewell card which i got most of the company to sign (except sarah and yvonne who were out, and i didn't get the card until last night, so it was too late to track them down). i think the best entry on that card is eliza's, who sent me her blurb via e-mail, and then i later printed out at 50% reduction and taped it into the card. when i talked to rose she was kind of regretful that we didn't do something more for john, like get him a cake, but i think a card is good enough. a cake you eat and it's gone, a card you can keep and read over and over again.

i finally washed out the cup of coffee michael left on my desk last friday, exactly a week ago. before i dumped out what was remaining of the coffee still in the cup, i looked inside and saw the most interesting mold crust i've ever seen. mold is usually green or grey, kind of drab, but the mold that was forming on the surface of the coffee was actually punctuated with areas of sky blue. i've never seen blue mold before! i took some photos, but they don't do the mold any justice. later it took me 10 minutes to completely wash out the cup, as there was a hard ring of coffee stain on the inside that wouldn't come out no matter how hard i scrubbed with the sponge.

after work john and i decided to celebrate his closing of his srm chapter by going to the movie theatre and getting our fill of war violence. before i left i let amanda borrow my digital camera for when she goes back home to st.louis. what, you say? tony parting with his beloved digital camera? noh noh noh, this is my circa 1997 epson 600 digital camera, the one that's been sitting in my room unused gathering dust. hopefully amanda can put some better mileage on that thing, give her a taste of the digital photography lifestyle. i got inspired by the idea when she was complaining how all her recent photos with her regular instant camera came out bad. anyway, john and i drove to the chestnut hill cinema to go see behind enemy lines. besides the war violence (inside joke: on fandango.com, all the other action movies had the parental warning of violence, but behind enemy lines had the special distinction of having war violence as its warning), the other reason why we went to go see this movie is because john is in love with owen wilson. later we discussed it on our way home, and we think his appeal is definitely the broken nose. something about a broken nose on a guy that drives the ladies wild! anyway, the chestnut hill cinema was pretty desolate. later we'd realize that it really wasn't that empty, just that we got to the theatre kind of late and all the people were already inside enjoying the preshow entertainment of theatre commercials and movie trailers. after the movie john drove me home. we made some tentative plans to perhaps go on a little road trip next week.