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Sleepytime

Posted on Monday, November 1st, 2010

Dave!I've been making twice-weekly trips over to Seattle for entirely too long and it's starting to wear on me. Especially now that the weather is getting all nasty and the deer are running. Today's trip found me with such poor visibility that I wasn't able to see the road much of the time. This was made worse when I very nearly plowed into some deer that ran onto the highway in front of me. The drive would have made for some cool photos, but the window-mount I constructed so I can shoot hands-free iPhone photos didn't seem to want to stick to the window, so I didn't get many shots at all. This one was taken at 1:30 in the afternoon before things got really bad...

Rainy Foggy Mountain Passes

Seattle was equally miserable, with rain pouring down on me as I attempted to run errands downtown. At one point I was forced to navigate a lake which had formed in the crosswalk, and ended up with soaking wet feet on top of everything else. Fortunately, I had a warm and comfy hotel room waiting for me...

The Edgewater Hotel Bed

Complete with my new Black Bear Sleepytime Pal...

Stuffed Black Bear Teddy

And a nice view as well. Look at those awesome trees...

The Edgewater Hotel Room View

I have everything except a glass. Or a cup. Or a mug. Or anything that lets me get a drink of water without sticking my head under the faucet. At least without having to buy a bottle of water for $5.50. Kind of douchey for a hotel that I enjoy quite a lot otherwise.

Now my challenge will be trying to get a few hours of work done before that big comfy bed makes me fall asleep. I fully expect to fail.

But I think I can live with that.

Washington State votes by mail, so I've already taken care of business. But since most everybody else votes tomorrow, I thought I would post this amusing cartoon that's been working its way through the interwebs over the past week. Much of it is rather obtuse in the way it presents Tea Party positions on the issues... but I do like the way it hammers home how most Tea Partiers seem to have no fucking clue what they're talking about. Every single interview I've ever seen with a Tea Partier has been chocked full of such blinding ignorance that I'm left speechless. All these people know how to do is parrot the crap they've been conditioned to believe, and not bother actually thinking or researching anything for themselves. It's all at once mind-bogglingly sad and so fucking typical...

Interestingly enough, some of the Tea Party's core beliefs for accountability in government spending and limitations of government intrusion into our lives actually sound like a good thing to me. The problem is that Tea-Partiers seem to pick-and-choose how these concepts are applied. On one hand they don't want the government telling us how to live our lives, but then turn around and say that the government should pass laws preventing two people of the same sex from getting married. On one hand they don't want the government to be in the health-care business, but then turn around and say that the government should be forbidden from making any changes to Medicare. These seemingly endless contradictions make little or no sense. And when you add in the many lies and distortions that Tea-Partiers seem so fond of propagating, I am left scared as hell as to what might happen if these people actually start getting into office.

Sadly, it looks as though we might be finding out very soon.

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Election

Posted on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Dave!Why me?

Last night I worked until 12:30am only to be rudely awakened at 4:30am by my hotel neighbors. Today I had to switch hotels, because when you book separate dates using a "blind bid" site like Priceline.com you never know where you'll end up. This time I ended up at The Westin, which is my second-favorite hotel in Seattle (after the W)... you just can't beat those Heavenly Beds! Not only that, but the location is killer and, most importantly, it's pretty quiet for a downtown city hotel...

Westin Hotel View

Except if you end up staying here on the night of midterm political elections.

Especially if the incumbent candidate for State Senator has her election night HQ here.

Particularly if you have her supporters staying on your floor.

And very likely if they are staying in the room next door.

And most definitely if she ends up winning the election.

   
I am.

She is.

There are.

They are.

She did. Apparently. I guess. Or is going to. Or something good. I don't know, because I don't give a crap. But there's music blasting outside and yelling in the hallway. Maybe she punched somebody in the face then took a shit on their head, and that's why people are going nuts. Given the nasty, reprehensible, disgusting campaign that both she and her opponent ran, I wouldn't be surprised at all.

But whatever. I honestly don't know what's going on.

All I do know is that I won't be getting much sleep tonight. Again.

Priceline Negotiator: WILLIAM SHATNER!

THANKS A LOT, PRICELINE NEGOTIATOR!

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Enervate

Posted on Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Dave!I'm entirely too exhausted to drive the three hours home, so I'm crashing at my sister's place. Again. It's only a matter of time before she makes me start paying rent.

The vast majority of my day was spent working with highly competent, creative, and enthusiastic people, which is a a very good thing in every way but one... I have to be at the top of my game to best take advantage of such a unique environment. That's not easy to do when you've barely slept in three days and most of your brain is occupied trying to find a way to stay awake which don't involve cocaine and Red Bull.

And yet somehow I managed to make it through okay, as always...

Cleo The Cat works on my laptop

...thanks to my new assistant.

Which wasn't quite as helpful as I had hoped.

But, in her defense, it is pretty difficult to type with paws.

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Apathetic

Posted on Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Dave!

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave Navelgazing

   

   

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Omphaloskepsis

Posted on Friday, November 5th, 2010

Dave!

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave & Bad Monkey Navelgazing

   

   

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Perception

Posted on Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Dave!

DAVETOON: Bad Monkey kicks Lil' Dave in the crotch.

   

Become too self-absorbed, and it's only a matter of time before somebody comes along and kicks you in the nuts.

You probably deserve it.

   

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Bullet Sunday 205

Posted on Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Dave!Welcome to an ALL-REVIEW EDITION of Bullet Sunday!

   
• SIDEWALKS! I still haven't come down off the high I got from Matt and Kim's second album masterpiece, Grand, so when I heard they were dropping their third album, Sidewalks, I was skeptical. How could they possible come up with anything even near as awesome? Well, they're Matt and Kim, so how could it not be awesome? I love it, and have been listening to Sidewalks constantly. Here's a short video talking about the album with a sweet taste of the awesome first track...

The only song I don't much care for is Northeast, which deviates from the happy funtime sound that makes me love the band so much. The other nine tracks are gold, however, with my clear favorites being Block After Block, Cameras, AM/FM Sound, and Good for Great. My only criticism of Sidewalks would be that it seems over-produced compared to what's come before. The charm of Matt and Kim's music has always been the raw, unpolished, basement sound that lets their indie roots shine through. But everything here is polished so heavily that no rough edges show, and I'm not sure that's a good thing. Kim's wild, unapologetic brashness when banging on the drums is kinda... muted... this time around. And while the complexity they've layered into their latest songs adds a welcome maturity to their sound, I'd hate for them to eventually be buried by it.
SIDEWALKS RATING: B (Recommended).

   
• THE WALKING DEAD! Comic book adaptations for television have historically been hit-or-miss, with even the most successful translations feeling like something is lacking. So imagine my surprise when one of my favorite comic books ever, The Walking Dead, actually managed to elevate the source material so high that it exceeds my impossibly high expectations. In some ways, it's even better than the comic book upon which it's based...

The Walking Dead Volume 1

Shocking, I know. But no more shocking than a comic book where no character is sacred and anybody can die at any minute. What's truly shocking is the production values on the series. AMC is putting some serious cash into all aspects of the program, and it shows. The special effects and location shooting are brilliant. The zombies are works of art and not the schlocky B-movie retreads I was expecting. And the acting is top-notch, with Andrew Lincoln's flawless performance as Rick Grimes adding a sense of danger and realism that's almost too good to be true...

The Walking Dead AMC Poster

The Walking Dead TV Cast

Zombie Woman from The Walking Dead TV Show

Genius television on every level, and already renewed for a second season!
COMIC RATING: A+ (Highly Recommended).
TV SHOW RATING: A (Highly Recommended).

   
• EARTH! As a huge fan of The Daily Show, I was quick to snap up their humorous primer on all things USA called America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction. Even though The Daily Show is a comedy program, it still manages to have an intelligent discussion of news and politics between the funny. With America (The Book), they poke fun at the country by reducing our culture and history down to a ridiculous grade-school textbook filled with witty essays that illuminate while they amuse. It was a terrific book, which compelled me to pick up the follow-up tome, Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race...

EARTH (The Book)

It's reminiscent of America (The Book), but on a global scale. Except this time they dismissed with the essays and went with page after page of easy jokes and witty one-liners slapped on wacky infographics and amusing photos. While still funny and moderately insightful, it doesn't leave the reader with much to think about (which seems to be the point). So while I definitely enjoyed Earth (The Book) it was kind of a step-down from their previous effort.
AMERICA (THE BOOK) RATING: A (Highly Recommended).
EARTH (THE BOOK) RATING: B (Recommended).

   
• BLU-RAY COLLECTIONS! I've been opposed to wasting my money on re-purchasing videos on Blu-Ray that I already own on DVD unless there's a very good reason for doing so. Unfortunately, two new sets have dropped which left me with no choice, because they both contain some of my favorite films of all time PLUS very good reasons for buying them...

Back to the Future Trilogy and Alien Anthology

Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy. I am convinced that all three of these films are some of the most brilliant and inventive movies to ever grace the silver screen... and it's all because of the details. The original Back to the Future not only had a great story, but showed the consequences of time travel with numerous small details that geeks like myself go crazy over (such as when Marty destroyed one of Old Man Peabody's trees in 1955, causing the "Twin Pines Mall" in 1985 to transform into "Lone Pine Mall"). Then we got Back to the Future II, which managed to create an all-new story WITHIN the original film all while giving us a fantastical look at the future. Sheer genius. Back to the Future III was a bit more mundane, trading the future for the Old West, but managed to wrap-up the trilogy in a way that was satisfying and respectful to those that came before. This new Blu-Ray set has an incredible transfer to hi-def that's a marked improvement over the old DVD versions. Despite having been filmed in the 80's, everything looks crisp and new, and there's tons of extras that any BTTF fan will love (some of which I have never seen before). An added bonus... digital copies of all three films is included, so you can transfer everything to your iPod, which is awesome. Two down-sides. 1) The packaging can make releasing the discs a real challenge. You pull down on the disc to unhook it, but sometimes it doesn't work like it should, and I worried that I'd snap the thing in half. 2) The menu system is FUCKING STUPID! Maybe it's just my player, but every damn time I view something, the menu won't come back and I have to eject the disc, then wait the five minutes it takes for the menu to load again. A serious flaw that drops my rating... I'll take functionality over design any day.
BACK TO THE FUTURE: 25TH ANNIVERSARY TRILOGY RATING: B+ (Highly Recommended).

Alien Anthology The issue here is picture quality. The Alien films are fairly dark, which is a real problem for DVD/TV. You can get some nasty compression artifacts and murky shadows that obliterate details and kill the spooky atmosphere that makes the movies work so well. Thankfully, the new Blu-Ray Hi-Def transfer is fantastic. The picture is probably better now than it ever was, which makes me wish they'd re-release the films in digital theaters. In any event, the original Ridley Scott Alien film was a masterpiece blend of science fiction and horror that can still scare the crap out of me even today. It was followed by Aliens, where James Cameron did the impossible by grafting a high-octane "space marine" action flick onto the original sci-fi/horror concept... and actually made it work. David Fincher's Alien3 was a disastrous disservice to the story from Aliens, but a pretty good film when looked at independently. Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Alien: Resurrection has some amazing visual sequences that are tied together by a rather weak story which revives Sigourney Weaver's deceased character in a way that never really worked for me. And even though I hated the freaky-ass mutant alien that provided the "villain" for the fourth installment, I think I enjoyed the film overall. Everything is brought together beautifully with a shitload of awesome extras that will take me days to get through. The packaging (again) is a bit odd (WTF-?), but workable. For any fan of any of the films, Alien Anthology is a must-have.
ALIEN ANTHOLOGY RATING: A (Highly Recommended).

   
And now I'm out of money, so that will have to be enough unabashed consumerism for the day.

   

Daylight

Posted on Monday, November 8th, 2010

Dave!Daylight Saving Time is such a crock of shit.

I left work at 5:30pm. It was pitch black. WHERE'S MY FUCKING DAYLIGHT NOW? Gone, thanks to it being Not-Daylight-Savings-Time.

I have to say... even though I have given up all hope of President Obama being able to get any shit done now that he's going to have to spend every waking hour of every fucking day battling the Republican-dominated House of Representatives to solve this country's problems... I would forgive everything if he would just abolish this fucked up shit of having to dick with our clocks twice a year. Surely this is a bipartisan issue if there ever was one? Everywhere I go, people are bitching about how stupid Daylight Saving Time is. You'd think every fucking House Representative and every fucking Senator and every fucking douchebag politician in the entire fucking country would be onboard. It's about the only thing they can do now which would be embraced by the majority of the fucking population who's out there in the dark AT FIVE-O-CLOCK...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey at Solstice... in pitch blackness with only their eyes showing.

I'm in a really bad mood, so I probably should stop this entry before things really get out of hand.

Except...

I've just read a very disturbing article over at Ars where they're talking about the new mandatory procedures for airport security. People still have the option of skipping the "backscatter" and "millimeter wave" scanners at airports if they're too modest for that kind of exposure. If you don't know what one of those scans looks like, I transferred my last scan to a USB Memory Stick and smuggled it out of airport security...

Backscatter scanner image.

Of course I was wearing my MC Hammer Pants at the time (they're so comfortable for traveling!), so I had a certain amount of embarrassment built-in, but still... I don't want to go through THAT again.

So I think that I'll opt for the new-and-improved "Crotch-Invasive-Super-Pat-Down" instead...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave getting patted down.

Nothing like a free hand-job to relax you before a long flight. Thank you Transportation Security Administration!

   

Korg

Posted on Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Dave!Today was a heaping bowl of suck.

Then it started snowing, and my bowl of suck was suddenly topped with shit sprinkles. But that's okay, because I'm kind of getting used to it. Lately it seems as thought most everything in life comes with shit sprinkles on it. I think it all started when I noticed that the waistbands in my three-month-old Jockey boxers has already started to give out. Meanwhile, I've still got pairs of Joe Boxers that are three years old and still going strong. Nothing to get too depressed over, but it seems as though nothing is built to last any more. Nothing. And I can't help but be sad about that.

So I've decided to take a couple sleeping pills, go to bed, and not think about it.

   
If you're not into music synthesizers, you'll want to skip the rest of this entry.

Otherwise...

...there's a frickin' AMAZING app that just dropped for the iPad. It's the KORG iMS-20 emulator! Here's a description from the iTunes product page...

iMS-20 is a complete music production app for iPad, consisting of a complete recreation of the legendary Korg MS-20 analog synth with patching capability, a 16-step analog sequencer based on Korg's SQ-10, a six-part drum machine with dedicated pads, and a seven-channel mixer with 14 types of effects.

It's about the coolest thing I've seen on the iPad yet...

Korg iMS-20 for iPad Keyboard

It's all here, and you can zoom in on a section and swipe between them as you mix...

Korg iMS-20 for iPad Mixer

This video shows the Korg iMS-20 for iPad in action...

You can, of course, export your creations as high-quality .WAV files by "bouncing" them through iTunes. You can also share your creations via "SoundCloud," which makes collaborating with other iMS-20 users a snap. The sound seems like it would be good enough to incorporate into a live performance, and if they update the app to use Apple's forthcoming "AirPlay" technology, you would even be able to do so wirelessly! I don't know why, but being able to play in a band while sitting in the audience seems pretty funny to me.

Using the Korg app is fairly straightforward if you have any previous experience with synths. I was composing loops after goofing around for just 30 minutes. The only area that was a little rough for me was tapping out notes on the keyboard. The iPad's multi-touch screen makes chords possible, but I just can't get the hang of playing without actual keys. Zooming in helps, but it's going to be a while before I'm comfortable (or competent) enough to play actual music with it. There's an alternative, however, in the form of "Dual Kaoss Pads" where you can play the instrument by running your finger across them. It's kind of fun for free-form creation, but gimmicky if you've got a specific composition in mind. I'll just keep hoping somebody makes an iPad MIDI adapter so I can plug in a cheap physical keyboard.

The Korg iMS-20 app for iPad is so complete... so brilliant... so utterly killer... that it has me seriously wondering if there's anything you can't you do with an iPad given the right software. If you have any interest in composing on a synthesizer, buying this app is a no-brainer. The half-price sale price of just $15.99 is the icing on the cake (good until the end of the year). Highest possible recommendation. Click here to see it at the iTunes Store.

   
UPDATE: Holy crap. It just keeps getting better. ReBirth has just been released for iPad!

Amazing. Just amazing.

   

Ranger

Posted on Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Dave!I both love and hate shopping for groceries at late hours during weeknights. On one hand, there's very few people and you're pretty much left alone to shop in peace. On the other hand, the people that you DO run into are... errr... "colorful" to say the least.

Tonight I drove into Wenatchee for a late-supper blogger meet with Brandon, Eclectic, and Matt. Since "eating" is a highly-specialized activity for me now that I'm trying to recover from side-effects of Getting Healthy, I had to eat my salad and beer bread at super-human speeds so that I could finish before my food deadline. I don't think I injured anybody, but it sure made trying to hold a conversation interesting.

After dinner (and an obligatory stop for drinks) I decided to make my afore-mentioned trip to the grocery store. Albertsons was, as expected, mostly empty at 10:45pm.

Except for the hipster rejects, gangsta posers, redneck zombies, drugged-out hippies, whack-job crazies, Jersey Shore wannabes (WTF? How is this a fashion trend?)... and me. Oddly enough, I fit right in. Society's outcasts have nothing on me.

And now I'm home and reading about the whole "We Won't Fly" movement, where people are protesting the new airport "scanners" (which I wrote about two days ago) by refusing to fly. There's even a website about it where they are advocating a "No Fly Day" boycott on November 24th. "Hit the airlines in the pocketbook until the scanners and gropers are gone. Make the airlines work for us."

What a crock of horse shit.

If I wasn't already flying on November 24th, I would actually change my travel plans to fly on that day.

What the fuck do the airlines have to do with airport security? Nothing. That's what. Airlines operate at the pleasure and direction of the Transportation Security Administration. They aren't in a position to dictate shit. Sure they can protest that the new security measures are harming their business and hope that the TSA comes up with a better plan than these pricey scanners (which many claim won't make us any safer and may actually be dangerous to human health), but that's about it. They don't make the decisions as to what the TSA implements for airport security. Punishing them as if they do is just stupid.

It's like boycotting McDonalds because they don't have cocaine on the menu. Boycotts against persons, businesses, or organizations for things which are outside of their control doesn't make any sense to me. Sure, go ahead and boycott McDonalds because they won't put fried pies back on the menu, or boycott the airlines because they force you to sit in seats with no leg-room and pay extra to check a bag... those are decisions they made. But boycotting them for decisions and rules they have to follow which other people made? WTF?.

Now that we have "No Fly Day" I'm going to reiterate the same request I made for "Shutdown Day" back in 2007...

No Stupid Shit Day

Look, I fully admit that I'm opposed to the new scanners and support a person's right to opt-out of having to use them. I know that the TSA claims that these devices are no more dangerous than mobile phones (mobile phones are safe, right? RIGHT?). I understand the images are not saved. I appreciate that the person viewing the scanner images can't make out who is in the machine, nor can they look out and see the person being scanned. I concede that the TSA has rules in place which would prevent scanner operators from recording what they see. Blah... blah... blah... I just don't care. Experts have said that these scanners can be fooled, and so the invasion of my privacy and possible health risk just aren't worth it. Nor is the enormous cost, which we will all have to pay for. Because if there is a way to fool the scanners, terrorists will find out about it, and then where will we be?

Showing our junk at the airport for no good reason.

And for people who feel the same as I do, they can opt out of the scanner and get groped by a TSA agent instead. Yes, that's not much of an alternative. And, no, I don't like it. That's why I will be writing my senator (which is apparently Patty Murray again), calling my Representative, and blogging about it. Hopefully continuing action AGAINST THOSE ACTUALLY RESPONSIBLE will be enough to eventually let sanity prevail. But, in the meanwhile, I have to fly and this is the price I pay for it. And I'm not going to punish the airlines because they want to keep operating and have to play by the rules and conditions they're given by the TSA to do so.

And in happier news...

The incomparable Betty White is now an honorary forest ranger!

BettyForestRanger.jpg
Photo by Morigi/WireImage, from NY Daily News.

She has done so much to support and advocate for animals and their habitats that this is a well-deserved honor.

It's nice to end the day with some good news for a change.

   

Thanks!

Posted on Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Dave!Happy Veteran's Day!

DAVETOON: Bad Monkey Salutes Veterans

   

   

To all those now serving... to those who have served... to those who will serve... thank you from a grateful nation.

   

Creativity

Posted on Friday, November 12th, 2010

Dave!I've been mulling over a creative project for months, and this morning I woke up and finally decided to do something about it. The result was an emotional moment, but not in the way I expected. I felt relief more than anything else... relief to finally get it off my chest and out of my brain. Who knows if anything will become of it, but at least I'm not being tortured any more.

For the longest time I've been telling myself that my work and my blog were all the creative outlets I needed, and it was stupid to add yet another log to the bonfire that is my life. But in the back of my head there's always been that nagging thought that something is missing. Some part of my life which hasn't been explored. Some ideas which are rotting in my head and killing everything around them as they die.

For creative people, this is no way to live.

It used to be that music was the missing piece. I love composing music, and it's an incredible feeling to craft a multitude of sounds into something that communicates in a single voice. It was for this reason that I got into video editing... it allowed me to score the projects I worked on and unleash my inner musician. While I was never terribly talented at making music, I was good enough to satisfy the creative urge that burned inside me. It lasted for about four years, and then I moved on to the next Big Thing. Sure there are times I miss it (and all these awesome new iPad music apps are just making things worse!), but I've been there and done that, so even if I never compose another note I'm okay with that.

And now it's something new.

As with most things, I'll just have to see where it leads me.

Hopefully to somewhere interesting.

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Millions

Posted on Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Dave!I often try to imagine my life without consequences or responsibilities.

And millions of dollars.

I'm sure this is no different from everybody else in the world with an active imagination, but it makes me feel special to think that I'm the only one who would know how to do it right...

DaveToon: Lil' Dave's Pimp Money

   
If anybody would like for me to test this theory for reals, please forward a couple million dollars to my PayPal account.

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Bullet Sunday 206

Posted on Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Dave!It's a blah blah blah kind of week. Thankfully it's Bullet Sunday with some good things to the rescue!

   
• Music! One of those shows that I wish I could quit, but can never seem to stop watching is Grey's Anatomy. They just keep doing things to keep it interesting, and the stories are (usually) pretty good. But the best thing about the show is the music, and I've lost count of the number of great songs I've found from watching Grey's. This week it was Mackintosh Braun (a band I had never heard of before) and their song Could it Be. Turns out the entire album is great, and now I'm a fan...

Mackintosh Braun Photo

Well done Shonda Rhimes and the rest of the people responsible for Grey's Anatomy not sucking too badly. Now please fix Christina and move past the whole "hospital shooting" crap which has been lingering for far too long.

   
• Pooh! This caught be completely by surprise... Disney is coming out with a new Pooh movie on July 15, 2011 called (appropriately enough) Winnie the Pooh!...

Beautiful! Thank heavens they didn't feel the need to recreate the look of the series in 3-D or use computer animation or some other stupid shit like that. The Keane song is perfect, and just the icing on the cake. I hate seeing movies in theaters any more because people are assholes, but I'll make an exception for this.

   
• Veterans! Thanks once again to Applebee's for treating veterans to a free meal on Veteran's Day this week. It seems as though they were making money hand-over-fist from all the people who were there with veterans that were not veterans (like me!), so I can only hope that it's a win-win event for them.

Applebees Vets Logo

   
• High! I've mentioned plenty of time that I have a paralyzing fear of heights, and always have to psych myself up when traveling because all the good touristy stuff seems to be up high. Recently I watched a television program about the "Grand Canyon SkyWalk" which goes beyond scary for somebody like me...

Grand Canyon Skywalk
Photo from the official Grand Canyon Skywalk Site.

While searching for a photo on the internet which shows the glass floor, I came across this shot...

Grand Canyon Skywalk Glass Floor
Shiiiiiiit! Photo from GloboTreks.

The GloboTreks article is called "7 of the Most Impressive Skywalks in the World", and I've only seen one of them in person: the Sears Tower "Ledge" in Chicago...

Sears Tower Ledge Glass Floor
Yes, it's just as scary as you'd think it would be.

They might as well call this list "7 Places Guaranteed to Make Dave2 Crap His Pants"... because, damn... just look at some of these terrifying things. Of course, if I should ever visit any of these instruments of torture, I'd definitely force myself to experience them. I always do. But I'm sure my "experience" would consist of me crawling on my hands and knees while crying for my mommy. After crapping my pants. Because, damn...

   
• TV on DVD! Tonight I found out that one of those long-forgotten television shows I've been begging to come out on DVD, Palace Guard, actually DID get released on DVD back in July! Apparently all nine episodes are included on some kind of massive 10-disc retrospective called Prime Time Crime: The Stephen J. Cannell Collection. It seemed a total bargain at just $22, so I scraped together the money and ordered it immediately. I previously described the show thusly...

The best role of D.W. Moffett's versatile career, and a show that I find impossible to understand how it failed... The Palace Guard certainly seemed like a crowd pleaser, and was mindless fun in a way people usually respond to. PLOT: Moffett is a career jewel thief who is caught and imprisoned. As a part of his parole, he gets a job as a security expert in a megalith hotel chain. A Moonlighting-like twist is thrown in when he starts to fall for his boss (Marcy Walker) who pretends to despise him but, of course, is falling for him as well.

I can't wait to watch the show again and see if it holds up as well as I remember it. If only television studios would get off their asses and release some of my other favorites (even selling them on iTunes so they don't have to go to the expense of pressing DVDs would be great)...

  • Cupid (the Jeremy Piven ORIGINAL, NOT the shitty remake... probably the best television show ever, created by the same guy behind Veronica Mars).
  • Oh Grow Up! (Alan Ball's hilarious pre-Six Feet Under comedy).
  • I'm With Her (Funny "Notting Hill" type story... PLUS Betty White cameo!).
  • Grapevine (Again I am wanting the ORIGINAL, not the sucky remake).
  • Now and Again (Really good drama/sci-fi mix).
  • The American Embassy (A very good "American in London" show).
  • Sam & Max Freelance Police (Coolest cartoon show).
  • The Palace Guard (Funny, smartly written-thief-turned-hotel-security-expert).
  • Strange World (X-Files type conspiracy show).
  • P.S.I. Luv You (CONNIE SELLECCA!!).
  • Duet (Alison La Placa hilarity).
  • Marker (Yes it's Richard Grieco, but doesn't suck!).

   
Now it's back to blah blah blah...

   

Tomorrow

Posted on Monday, November 15th, 2010

Dave!Rain is pouring down so hard that it seems as if there's a waterfall outside my window. Gale force winds are howling so loudly that it sounds like somebody is screaming into a megaphone outside my door. I fully expect the roof to be blown off any minute. I hope the windshield wipers are still on my car. Assuming my car hasn't been blown away. Seriously, I wish I could record this, because it's like the apocalypse is going on right now and I have a ringside seat.

And just now the lights started flickering, so I can only guess it's a matter of time before the power goes out. Yay.

Looks like I picked the wrong night to give up insomnia.

Last night I got a grand total of two hours sleep. Tonight is shaping up to be worse.

The good news is that at least I have something to look forward to tomorrow. At least according to Apple's website...

Tomorrow is just another day. That you'll never forget. Apple.

Rumor has it that The Beatles are finally coming to the iTunes Music Store. This is kind of stupid to be getting this excited about, because anybody who's a Beatles fan has already ripped their CDs into iTunes long ago.

I hope it's something more... memorable.

And... the lights just went out and my internet just died. Guess this isn't getting posted tonight.

UPDATE: Internet and power are back! Who knows for how long, so I won't waste any more time getting this nonsense posted!

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Beatles

Posted on Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Dave!As predicted by just about everybody, The Beatles have finally come to Apple's iTunes Music Store. Yes, at long last, one of the greatest bands of all time (if not the greatest) has their music for sale by the world's largest music retailer.

As a huge Beatles fan, this is the moment I've been waiting for. When I first "discovered" The Beatles (thanks to my Beatle-loving uncle), I ended up buying all their albums... but on compact cassette tape. Any audiophile reading this blog just started laughing their ass off, but I'm from the cassette generation, and that's just how we bought music back in the day. Not to mention the fact that a Walkman was far easier to carry around than a phonograph and a stack of records...

My Yellow Walkman!
I had super-awesome yellow Walkman Sports cassette player like this. (Photo by Stephen McFall).

Laugh all you want but, in my defense, at least it wasn't 8-track.

Since you can't rip a tape into an MP3 file without some trickery, I borrowed CDs of all The Beatles albums that I owned on cassette and ripped them to iTunes that way. Technically, I did already own the music, so I didn't consider it to be stealing (so go fuck yourself, RIAA). The problem is that I eventually threw out the cassettes (no way to play them!), and I always felt funny that I couldn't point to the music on my shelf and say "yes, I own them."

Hence, the reason I've been waiting for The Beatles to be sold on iTunes... I want to be "legal" in the eyes of the law. And here was my chance, because I had a $75 cash rebate card burning a hole in my pocket!

But let's back up for a minute...

Last year, every Beatles fan's dream came true when beautiful remastered boxed sets were released of the entire Beatles catalog. Of particular interest to me was the limited edition Mono Box Set. In my humble opinion, mono is the only way to listen to most the first ten Beatles albums* because they were designed to be listened to that way by The Fab Four Themselves. The stereo versions were nothing more than a cobbled-together afterthought that usually sounded hollow and freakishly incoherent in my headphones. Some of the albums are so badly separated into stereo (even on the remasters) that they don't even seem like the same songs. My guess is that stereo was kind of a novelty back in the beginning, so they separated the recording as harshly as possible into distinct left and right channels with no middle in an attempt to make you really notice the technology. Well, you do... and it's overbearing in places... so I don't like it and would rather listen to those gorgeously crisp and brilliant mono tracks the way that God (and The Beatles) intended.

The Limited Edition Mono Box Set looked fantastic, but it was selling for $250 (at discount!) and I couldn't afford it, as much as I was dying to own it...

The Beatles Mono Gift Box Set

At the time of release, I said "Hopefully when the songs make it to iTunes, you'll be able to buy the mono versions there."

Which brings us to today...

Much to my profound disappointment, all the tracks in the iTunes Store are from the stereo remasters, which are exactly the versions I don't want. This shocked the hell out of me, because it was my understanding that Steve Jobs Himself is a massively huge Beatles fan, and I assumed he would be a stickler for at least offering the true fan's preferred mono versions of the songs. But, alas, they are nowhere to be found.

Shit.

Assuming that the Limited Edition Mono Box Set would have long-since sold out and only be available on eBay for thousands of dollars, I went to Amazon and nearly wet myself. Not only was the Mono Set still available, the price had actually dropped to $129.99! This was mind-boggling. That's almost 60% less than the original retail price of $300!

Score.

Without hesitation, I bought the set.

On the down-side, I won't be getting all the cool iTunes LP extras that you get when you buy from Apple... and I have to spend hours ripping the CDs... and I still have to buy the three remaining stereo albums not in the set (which I will be getting from iTunes)... but, on the up-side, I'm getting the actual music I've been dying for. At last. No thanks to Apple.

And, where The Beatles are concerned, it's their music that's important.

   

* The possible exception being "The White Album" which sounds amazing in stereo.

   

Whirlwind

Posted on Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Dave!Today was a whirlwind of pain and suffering.

Okay, not really... but it was a very difficult day. After a night of absolutely no sleep, I had to be ready for a trip to Seattle at 6:00am. Fortunately, I wasn't driving, so at least the danger of me passing out and causing a twenty-car pileup on the highway was lessened by 74%. The drive over the mountain passes was mostly uneventful. A lot of rain, but clear sailing from start to finish.

After nine hours of work, it was time to turn around and go back home.

To say road conditions had changed would be a massive understatement.

The snow was dropping so heavily that you could barely see the road. Let alone the cars in front of you...

SnowInTheHeadlights.jpg

Despite chains or all-wheel drive being required, I counted two semi-trucks skidded into the ditch, a half-dozen accidents, and police cars everywhere. As we got across the pass, we saw that the East-bound lanes had all been closed...

PolicePassClosure.jpg

Since it's kind of hard to tell what's going on in that photo... it's a police car closing the road with miles and miles of traffic stacked behind him. Since there's no way to turn around and go back, all the people in that line would just have to sit there until the pass re-opens, which was probably hours.

Anyway...

Made it home safely, where I promptly took some sleeping pills and climbed into bed.

Then remembered I hadn't blogged, so I climbed back out of bed and wrote this. You are welcome!

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Meanwhile

Posted on Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Dave!Tonight I couldn't decide what to eat for dinner so I made waffles. They were tasty.

That was the most interesting part of my day.

In many ways I'm okay with my total lack of excitement this fine Thursday because tomorrow I'll be traveling all day, and we all know what an adventure that can be.

In the meanwhile, it's just waffles...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey eating waffles.

   

Waffles and dreams. Waffles and dreams.

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SeaTac

Posted on Friday, November 19th, 2010

Dave!I hate... HATE... Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

And this is coming from somebody who lives according to a belief system that advocates not "hating" anything. But SeaTac brings it out of me almost every single time I pass through. Which is a lot, as you might imagine, given the amount of travel I have to endure.

Before I get into today's edition of Yet Another Reason I Hate Seattle Tacoma International Airport, a warning...

Rated R

Given that this is SeaTac we're talking about, I fully plan on cursing like a drunken sailor. Heck, the situation practically demands near continuous use of the word "fuck" in new and creative ways. If something like that offends you, then you should probably not read the rest of the entry.

Instead, look at the picture of this cute kitten and I'll see you tomorrow...

Kitten

For the rest of you brave souls, this nonsense continue in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
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Gargantuan

Posted on Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Dave!"The venom of a black mamba can kill a human in four hours if, say, bitten on the ankle or the thumb. However, a bite to the face or torso can bring death from paralysis within 20 minutes. Now, you should listen to this, 'cause this concerns you. The amount of venom that can be delivered from a single bite can be gargantuan (you know, I've always liked that word... "gargantuan"... so rarely have an opportunity to use it in a sentence). If not treated quickly with anti-venom, 10 to 15 milligrams can be fatal to human beings. However, the black mamba can deliver as much as 100 to 400 milligrams of venom from a single bite."
— Elle Driver, Kill Bill Volume 2

   
When I travel, it's often for a job that occurs at a specific time whether I am there or not. Because of this, I often fly in a day early, just in case my flight is delayed or some other problem rears its ugly head (like yesterday!). This is especially necessary in winter, when travel problems pop up all the time. The bad news is that I lose a day back home where there's tons of crap waiting to be done. The good news is that if I do make it to my destination on-time, I have a day to goof off.

Like today.

I awoke early so I could get my work done and head into the city for some much needed time off. Unfortunately, things didn't get done as quickly as I had hoped, and I couldn't leave until noon. But half-a-day in Atlanta is better than none. Except I had to go all the way up to the Lenox Mall to buy a new power adaptor for my MacBook when I discovered the one I brought had mysteriously died overnight. With delay piled on top of delay (not to mention waiting 35 minutes for a train!), I missed my opportunity to visit ICE-Atlanta, and instead decided to wander around downtown Atlanta to see if I could find something new to do.

I couldn't.

So I decided to do something I haven't done in a while... go to the top of the tallest hotel in the Western Hemisphere: The Westin Peachtree Plaza. Given my fear of heights it wasn't exactly the funnest thing for me to do, but it was a nice day and I hadn't been up it since my first trip to Atlanta ten years ago. I probably would have gone up earlier, but was scared away by all the scaffolding as they replaced windows that were damaged by the tornado that hit Atlanta in 2008.

Anyway...

Looking up the Westin Atlanta

After ascending the 73 stories, this is what I saw...

View of Atlanta from the top of the Westin Peachtree Plaza

View of Atlanta from the top of the Westin Peachtree Plaza

View of Atlanta from the top of the Westin Peachtree Plaza
That turquoise-looking dome is the top of the Hard Rock Cafe

   
After wandering around adding stamps to my Gowalla collection, it was time for pumpkin beer at 5 Seasons Brewing Co. with The Muskrat, Whipstitch, and Geeky Tai Tai and friends!

A glass of Great Pumpkin Beer!

Which is really the best reason to come to Atlanta.

And now it's off to work...

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Bullet Sunday 207

Posted on Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Dave!Welcome to a very special The Walking Dead edition of Bullet Sunday!

As I mentioned yesterday, when I travel for work I have to go a day early to be sure I arrive on-time. What I didn't mention is that I also stay an extra day later just in case my work time has to be moved. Like it did today. Instead of starting on the job this morning, I'm instead starting tomorrow morning... leaving me with a free day to do whatever. So after getting caught up on some other work, I decided to explore the beautiful rural Georgia countryside... which just so happens to be filled with locations from The Walking Dead comic book! I've been meaning to do this for a while, but work always comes first and I've never had the time.

   
• Map! Luckily for me (and every other fan of The Walking Dead comic), somebody has created a very cool Google Map overlay with updated information of location from the series (WARNING: MAP CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS!). This makes it easy to plan a trip to see some of the sights. I decided to focus on those around the Thomaston area where I'm staying...

The Walking Dead Google Map

I could have gone a bit further north, but many of those locations are private residences and the like, so I restrained myself to the more public locations.

   
• Woodbury! Introduced in issue 27 of The Walking Dead, Woodbury is a critical location where a lot of stuff goes down (for those watching the television series, this is a ways off). While the town in the comic book is quite a bit different than real-life Woodbury, it's still worth a visit. Seeing the actual place makes the comic come to life. Like many places I've seen in the area, the Woodbury Police Dept. was decked out for the holidays, which is kind of nice...

Woodbury Police Dept.

But the most interesting thing about Woodbury to me was to be found in front of the Woodbury Pharmacy...

Soda machines lined up in front of the Woodbury Pharmacy!

Soda pop machines! (in the Pacific Northwest we say "pop" but I'm originally from California where it's "soda" so I usually merge the two... here in Georgia, everybody says "Coke" for most every soda pop type beverage). And it wasn't just any kind of soda pop they were selling... there was a lot of really cool flavors, some of which I have never heard of before, including "Grapico" and "Sunkist Peach"...

Grapico and Sunkist Peach soda pop cans!

But the best part? The sodas were cheap! Fanta cans were 40¢! Pepsi product cans were 50¢! Bottles were just $1! I haven't seen it this inexpensive in a very long time. Interestingly enough, there was a steady stream of cars stopping at the pharmacy to use the soda pop vending machines... even though the pharmacy itself is closed on weekends. As I sat there drinking my peach and grape fizzy drinks, I saw some pretty interesting people show up for their non-Coke Coke fix.

Woodbury has a rather sad number of empty (abandoned?) buildings, some of which were very cool to photograph...

Abandoned Chunn's General Store in Woodbury

Abandoned Pretty Blue Building in Woodbury

   
• Gay! As I headed to my next location, I stopped off in Gay, Georgia, home of the Cotton Pickin' Fair twice each year...

Cotton Pickin' Fair Sign

The city of Gay has a very small population, but they still have a Town Hall building...

Gay Town Hall

   
• Concord. I had no intent of stopping along the way to my next destination, but as I passed through the small city of Concord, I saw something that changed my mind...

Baptist Church facing Methodist Church at High Noon!

It's the Concord United Methodist Church facing off with the Concord Baptist Church at high noon! It was a bit strange how they were built not facing the main road... but instead facing each other. I'm sure there's a story there, but I can't guess what it might be...

Concord Methodist Church

   
• Zebulon! I remarked on Twitter that "Zebulon" sounds like a town that has been taken over by space aliens. Because, seriously, doesn't "Zebulon" sound like an alien overlord right out of Planetfall or something? Despite the rather odd name, the town itself is quite nice, with the beautiful Pike Co. Courthouse Square and charming shops. But I was not here for Zebulon, I was here for "The Prison"... AKA "West Central Prison"... AKA "West Central Pre-Release Center of the Georgia Department of Corrections"...

Gowalla Link

Introduced at the end of issue 12, "The Prison" is arguably one of the most important locations in the entire run of The Walking Dead so far (and is probably going to be introduced in the second season of the television show). The sheer volume of story that happens here dominates the first 50 issues of the comic, and to see it in person... even just from the outside... is kind of chill-inducing...

The Walking Dead cover showing

I drove next door to a sports park so I could see the location from the vantage point of "Hershel's Garden." Again, it's quite different from the prison in the comic, but seeing the location still adds atmosphere to the story...

West Central Prison

   
That's it for The Walking Dead Bullets... but I've got more in an extended entry!

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Zombification

Posted on Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Dave!I am staying all alone. In a huge house. On a dark street. In rural Georgia.

What's the worst thing I could do right before bedtime? Watch the latest creepy episode of The Walking Dead... which is taking place just 15 minutes from my bedroom, that's what!

Now, I am not one to scare easily. I could sit through a marathon of horror flicks before bedtime and not give it another thought. But tonight every creak in the floorboards... every leaf scuttering down the roof... every branch tapping on the window... every noise in the night... it all added up to make me, well, not scared really... but uneasy.

Needless to say, last night was rough going in the sleep department.

There may not be any real undead wandering around Georgia, but I certainly feel like a zombie today...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave Zombie Head!

   
In other news, LEGO Harry Potter (Years 1-4) for iPhone is pretty sweet. And I don't even like Harry Potter! But I do like the LEGO games (LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Batman, and LEGO Indiana Jones are awesome!). In the game you can play Harry and dozens of other characters you unlock, then run around solving puzzles and collecting LEGO studs to buy stuff. Just like all the other LEGO titles, you can play through each level multiple times as different characters to unlock even more secrets with their special abilities.

The game looks a-m-a-z-i-n-g, taking full advantage of the Retina Display resolution of my iPhone 4. The cut-scenes are all extremely detailed and well-thought out...

LEGO Harry Potter for iPhone: Load Screen
Get used to this load-screen, you'll be seeing it a lot.

LEGO Harry Potter for iPhone: London Cut Scene
A lot of work went into this London cut-scene!

LEGO Harry Potter for iPhone: Hagrid has the keys at Gringot's Bank!
LEGO humor in full force: note the Harry Potter mini-fig on his keychain!

The game screens are no less detailed, but you're viewing them from rather far away, so you're not seeing game elements at their fullest. Still, an impressive picture...

LEGO Harry Potter for iPhone: Game Play Screen

Zooming in, you can see the clarity of the hi-res Retina Screen graphics (I'll bet the game looks incredible on the iPad!)...

LEGO Harry Potter for iPhone: Screen Zoom

Despite the fun I'm having with it, there are some problems, however. First of all, the load screen comes up A LOT, and scenes take a while to transfer. This results in a lot of staring at the load screen over and over again. It gets old in a hurry. But the biggest (and only major) offense is the control system. You control characters and interact with objects by dragging your finger across the screen... effectively covering up what you're supposed to be looking at! It's tough to solve puzzles when your finger is obliterating them. It's hard to control Harry when your finger covers him up. It's a heinous oversight that I don't understand. I can only hope that they eventually update and give you the option of controlling things with an on-screen D-pad. It would improve the game 200%.

All-in-all, you can't beat the mind-boggling price of just $4.99. It's a fraction of what you'd pay on the Nintendo DS, Wii, XBox, or Playstation versions! If you have a supported device to play it, LEGO Harry Potter (Years 1-4) is well-worth the download.

I just wish I had the time to actually play it. :-(

   
And lastly...

These "It Gets Better" videos just keep flooring me. The crushing despair, fear, and pain that people go through every day just for being "different" is almost impossible to believe. If we weren't seeing the tragic consequences of the bullying in the news, it would be impossible to believe. I just can't fathom how somebody could intentionally make another human being feel as though their life was worth so little that death is the only option left. It's sickening on a level that makes my heart ache just to listen to it. But we must listen to it, because things have to get better. For all of us.

This video from people at Disney/Pixar is pretty amazing and hopeful...

I wish I wouldn't have to keep wishing that all the bigoted assholes who make this world such a horrible place would hurry up and die so we can have a world I'm not ashamed to live in.

Because, in truth, it makes me no better.

But I'm somehow okay with that.

   

Nightfall

Posted on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Dave!Work was supposed to end at 10:30 last night. I finally finished at 4:40am this morning. It's not a big deal... just the way the job goes sometimes... but it left me in a seriously debilitated state when my alarm went off at 7:00am. That's two nights in a row with no sleep.

This did not bode well for my drive back to work to turn in my badge and car. Especially since a nasty fog had descended on the Georgia countryside...

Foggy Georgia Morning

But I survived the trip so no harm, no foul.

When I arrived back at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, I checked into my hotel, did not pass GO, did not collect $200, and collapsed onto the bed. Nothing would have made me happier than to sleep the next ten hours, but the last thing I wanted was for my sleep schedule to get screwed up, so I forced myself to stop at just two.

Then it was time to head downtown and see what kind of trouble I could get into.

And eat dinner.

And get really, really wet.

When I exited the MARTA train stop at Peachtree Center, I was immediately assaulted by pouring rain. This caught me by surprise, because there was no hint of it when I left my hotel. After just five minutes I was soaked to the bone. This made for a miserable dinner, but I didn't want to waste the 35-minute trip so I wandered through Centennial Olympic Park. World of Coke Without Lime looked kind of cool in the dreary Atlanta rain...

World of Coke Without Lime

John Pemberton, Inventor of Coca-Cola!
It's John Pemberton, the inventor of Coca-Cola!

Since I was already wet, I walked around town for a while and ended up back at The Westin. With nothing better to do I decided to take another trip to the top and see the city at night, which I had never done before. Unfortunately, the windows were covered in rain, but the photos I took looked kind of cool anyway...

Atlanta at Night

Atlanta at Night

Atlanta at Night from the Westin Hotel's Sun Dial revolving restaurant.

Then across the street to see if the Hard Rock Cafe had any cool pins I couldn't live without...

Hard Rock Atlanta at Night

Atlanta Rainy Streets Reflections

And that was all I could manage. Mostly because my feet were getting all wrinkly.

Back to the MARTA train...

MARTA train stop escalator

...and my warm, dry, comfy hotel bed.

   
Tomorrow I'll be flying on the busiest travel day of the year. I wonder if I'll end up with anything to blog about?

   

Safer

Posted on Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Dave!Today was declared "No Fly Day" by some ass-hats who think that punishing the airlines for something they have no control over is a good way to send a message to the TSA. Evidently, somebody finally told them that this was pretty fucking stupid, so they changed tactics and "No Fly Day" became "Opt-Out Day" where everybody is supposed to decline being scanned by the new intrusive airport scanners which display your junk on TV. Instead, we're supposed to opt-in for the new heavy-petting pat-down where the TSA makes sweet, sweet love to your fun zones. Personally, I don't see this as an upgrade, but hey... whatever floats your boat.

When I was flying out of Atlanta this morning, the TSA was indeed using the new intrusive porn-o-vision scanners. Fortunately I didn't have to choose between making a porno and getting a hand-job, because I was not selected for scanning, but I can honestly say I don't know what I would have done if I had. Probably opt for the heavy-petting, because a moment of embarrassment is moderately more preferable to getting a potentially dangerous dose of radiation in my eye-balls and testicle-balls.

It's not that I am opposed to security measures which make us safer when flying. On the contrary... if I thought a shot of radiation to my balls and a sensual massage would make us safer, then by all means sign me up for both!

The problem is that neither does shit to make us safer.

Since my previous attempt at explaining why was confusing because I was vague, this time I'll spell it out with pictures. For the sake of argument, let's say that the TSA decided that both a porn show and a crotch-rub were now required to fly...

DAVETOON: TSA tells Bad Monkey to enter scanner...

DAVETOON: TSA scans Bad Monkey for dangerous objects... it's all okay...

DAVETOON: TSA gives Bad Monkey a nice crotch pat-down...

DAVETOON: TSA says okay! You're good to go!

DAVETOON: Bad Monkey craps out a bomb...

DAVETOON: Bad Monkey continue to crap out a gun and a knife...

DAVETOON: Bad Monkey has crapped out a pile of weapons... a knife, gun, bomb, grenade, stick of dynamite, and bullets!

   
Now, clearly this is an exaggeration (they'd never let a monkey fly unaccompanied), but my points here are these...

  1. Weapons can be made undetectable by X-ray or scanners. Everything from ceramic blades to polymer resin-cast hand-guns exist. They're here, they're real, get used to it.
  2. Never underestimate what a terrorist would be willing to shove up their ass for a cause.

In other words... THESE NEW PROCEDURES ARE FUCKING BULLSHIT DUMBASSERY, AND WHOEVER IS MAKING THESE INSANELY EXPENSIVE AND INEFFECTIVE DECISIONS SHOULD BE PUNCHED IN THE FACE THEN KICKED THE FUCK OUT OF THEIR JOB!! I'm so not kidding. I can only guess that the idiots who set these polices own stock in intrusive scanner companies, or are getting some kind of massive kick-back from them. Nothing else makes any sense.

People are quick to say "If there was ever another terrorist attack, then you'd be screaming that the TSA didn't do enough... at least they're trying to keep us safe! To which I say "bullshit."

BULL. SHIT.

In my humble (ha!) opinion, the question should be "What happens when another terrorist attack occurs because some morons smuggled a couple pounds of plastique explosives up their asses and it wasn't detected by intrusive scanners (which don't penetrate skin, apparently) or getting felt-up? You've blown your totally-ineffective safety wad, so what then?"

Look, metal detectors and private screenings (when warranted) are basic security measures that I don't have any argument with. Even though they can be thwarted rather easily by somebody who is intent on thwarting them, they probably discourage general dumbassery, so fine. Go ahead and take our bottles of water and look at my shoes in an X-ray machine. Really, knock yourselves out. But until somebody can prove to me that these ridiculously stupid "enhanced security measures" are worth the cost, inconvenience, violation, embarrassment, and time... then what the fuck?

Until then, I understand people's frustration with the stupidity we're being forced to endure, and support thoughtful, respectful objections when directed to the place they're deserved.

Which does not include the TSA agent employees who are just doing their fucking jobs.

To wit...

After clearing Atlanta security in a mere 20 minutes (way to go ATL!), I gathered up my stuff and wandered off looking for Auntie Anne's Pretzels (she's in Terminal A, if you're curious). As I was walking back to my gate hoping that the crack-cocaine they put in the pretzels to make them so darn addictive wasn't at a dangerous level, I overheard a woman going off about how the TSA agents are all just a bunch of disgusting perverts and "gate rapists." This had me curious, so I followed her for a bit (I had two hours to kill) so I could listen to her ranting. After I had finally had enough, I resisted the urge to explain a few things to her...

  1. Your run-of-the-mill TSA agents didn't get together one day and decide they want to touch people's junk. They're just doing what their job requires of them. Somebody way, waaaayyyy above their pay-grade is making those decisions.
  2. If you were to ask each and every TSA agent whether they liked having to perform the "enhanced security measures," I'd bet you the vast, vast, majority of them would say "no." They take enough shit from people as it is, and who wants to be around radioactive shit at their job-site?
  3. While I'm sure you can find perverts in just about any line of work, any TSA agent getting off on rubbing another person's privates in a public place would surely... surely... eventually reveal themselves and be discharged. I mean, if the TSA guy rubbing my junk were saying "Yeah. Yeah, baby. How do you like it? Do you like my hand there?" — I would obviously complain. I'd do more than complain. I would pitch a shit-fit so huge the entire airport would have to shut the fuck down. I think just about anybody would (well, unless that guy playing with my junk was very good with his hands... who am I to pass up a free hand-job from our government?).
  4. Yeah, accidents will happen. Sometimes a TSA agent might accidentally brush past an area that they didn't intend to... or they're lose their balance while frisking... or you'll just have a larger than average penis and they didn't know what they were getting into... shit happens. But to brand all of them "perverts" because of an accident is just fucking lame. Everybody makes mistakes. TSA agents are human just like you and me.
  5. Please, please, please stop calling the enhanced security measures "Gate Rape"... yes, I know it sounds funny, but it is really insensitive and disrespectful to victims of actual rape. Remember that rape is a horrendous act of violation and violence, and you simply cannot compare that to somebody just trying to earn a living in a way that's uncomfortable for everybody involved... even if you consider it a violation of your privacy (which it actually is).

In the end, I don't know what the answer is. As should be obvious, I am fully against these stupid new "enhanced security measures" which do nothing to better keep us safe. Since I travel a lot, I don't want to expose myself to radiation whenever I travel... no matter how small the amount because that shit adds up. And I really don't want some guy feeling around my junk whenever I have to catch a flight. Otherwise I might not care.

But I do. I have to.

There's probably an answer out there somewhere. Maybe it's a new technology we haven't discovered yet. Maybe it's an old technology we can use differently. So let's get to work on that, because this is some seriously important shit. What we shouldn't do is waste our time, privacy, and money on the crap that doesn't work.

Like porn shows and erotic massage.

Which is not nearly as much fun as it sounds (in this case, anyway) and should be stopped.

Like yesterday.

   

Thankless

Posted on Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Dave!I'm thankful for a lot of things. Today I'm most thankful that I'm not a turkey...

DAVETOON: Bad Monkey kills a turkey.

   

   

I drew this three years ago, and it still pretty much sums up how I feel about the holiday. While I am a vegetarian, I am not a militant vegetarian who tells people not to eat meat, because I feel it's a personal choice everyone has to make for themselves. But meat is just so dang easy now-a-days, and I don't think people truly appreciate the creature that gave up its life for their meal. I wonder if people had to kill the poor turkey with their own two hands how many of them would still feel like serving one up for Thanksgiving dinner?

Anyway... I hope everybody has a happy Thanksgiving! And I hope everybody is just a little thankful for that slice of turkey on their plate. After all, he was a happy little bird at one time...

Baby Turkey Photo by Kristie Gianopulos
Baby turkey photo from Wikimedia Commons by Kristie Gianopulos.

And now I get to be thankful that I've got a suitcase to unpack.

Which I definitely am because the alternative is packing a suitcase and, with all the snow and ice that's landed, I'd just as soon stay home for a while.

   

Exploration

Posted on Friday, November 26th, 2010

Dave!One of my favorite blogs is Letters of Note, which is a fascinating collection of letters by famous persons which have been nicely transcribed. I happened across it a year ago while researching Alan Moore's work on Marvelman, and have been a huge fan ever since. Pulling a few recent entries from the webfeed, there's a letter from John Lennon saying Yoko Ono doesn't sweat, a speech for President Nixon if the moon landing should fail, John Byrne's introduction of Kitty Pryde to X-Men, and a letter from J.K. Rowling to a young fan about her plan for seven Harry Potter books. The site is addictive, and there's some amazing stuff to be found in their well-organized archives.

It's all good stuff, but this morning's entry "To My Widow," is particularly touching. It's a letter written by doomed South Pole explorer Robert Falcon Scott to his wife when he realized the expedition party wouldn't survive the journey back...

Robert Falcon Scott's Letter

I became interested in the so-called "Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration" after visiting Frammuseet (The Fram Museum) in Norway, which is home to a ship used for expeditions to both of earth's poles... including the Amundsen Antarctic expedition which beat Robert Falcon Scott to the South Pole by 35 days...

Oslo's Fram Museum

Oslo's Fram Museum

It's a fascinating period in history, and one which has been continuously reinterpreted since it began. Historians have alternately praise Robert Falcon Scott as a hero, then dismissed him as incompetent. Despite all that, Scott's journal (which has been brilliantly reproduced in blog-form!) makes for interesting reading. Humans are at their best and worst while on the cusp of discovery and high adventure, and first-hand historical accounts are a treasure.

   
In other news... it's Black Friday today! A magical time for our consumerism culture to run amok!

I try hard not to buy something "just because it's on sale," so this day isn't particularly special to me. But I do need to get a new television to replace my ailing one, so I'll keep my eyes open and see if anything interesting turns up. Hopefully I'll find something before mine dies completely, because television is where humanity finds itself on the cusp of awesome discoveries and high adventure now-a-days.

Or at least it will be until the last episode of Hannah Montana airs early next year.

   

Rocket

Posted on Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Dave!For some reason I thought that I had already written in my blog today, but couldn't for the life of me remember what it was I had written about. So you can imagine my surprise when I clicked through to Blogography and found that the reason I couldn't remember was because I hadn't written anything.

Well crap.

It's not as if anything blog-worthy happened, as I spent my entire day working. This means I'll either have to dredge up something from my past, bitch about something going on in the news, or bow out gracefully with a monkey cartoon.

I'll choose door number one. Because, let's face it, a rant about all the bullshit that's filling the news now-a-days could take pages. And Bad Monkey is still recovering from his run-in with the TSA.

Young Dave2 with his Valentine Love Rocket

The above photo is of me and my Valentine Love Rocket. At this point in my life, I still had delusions of becoming an astronaut, so most of my time was spent thinking about escaping my earthly confines and going into space. Even when it came to making a Valentine card box for school. Surprisingly, I remember most everything about this scary craft project, which is odd considering I can't explain why I'm wearing that headache-inducing shirt. Nor can I explain why my hairstyle was stolen from Mr. Spock.

I remember that the body of the rocket is made from ice cream tubs. The top capsule is made from a small coffee can (I think it was Folgers, but I remember it being green, so that's probably not right). The rockets on the bottom are plastic cups that should have been spray-painted silver, but I ran out of time (then, as now, I tended to procrastinate until the last possible moment).

Not that I want to critique my younger self, but that "rocket" is pretty much crap, isn't it? No wonder I couldn't ever get into NASA.

   

Well that was fun. Tune in tomorrow as I procrastinate Bullet Sunday.

   

Bullet Sunday 208

Posted on Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Dave!It's a crash-and-burn kind of Bullet Sunday. Every time I get started on in on a project, something comes along to bring everything to a screeching halt.

   
• Goodbye. Leslie Nielsen, who will forever be Lt. Frank Drebin to me, passed away today. I've lost count of the times I've watched his Police Squad! episodes and movies. Absolute classics in every sense of the word. Thanks for the many, many laughs over the years, sir! You will be missed.

Leslie Nielsen as Lt. Frank Drebin of Police Squad
Oh, and one more thing... I faked every orgasm!

   
• Alcohol. There's a meme going around encouraging people to share an uncommon alcoholic beverage that they've enjoyed. Since the only thing I drink now-a-days is J├Ągermeister in Red Bull or Vodka with cranberry juice, this is a tough one. About the only "uncommon" drink I can remember would be "POGaritas" which was a favorite with my friends and I on our trips to Maui, Hawaii in the late 80's and early 90's. "POG" is a popular juice-like drink (POG standing for "Passionfruit, Orange, Guava") invented in Maui (but is now sold State-side as well). For a POGarita, just mix a decent tequila with POG. Instead of a slice of lime for garnish, you use a wedge of pineapple. You can put sugar on the rim, but it tastes best when simply blended and served plain in whatever clean glassware you can find...

POGaritas Blending

You have to be careful though, because the fruity flavor of POG camouflages a multitude of tequila-rooted sins. You can drink one after another and not really notice you're getting bombed until it's too late...

Dave2 getting drunk on POGaritas in the rain in Hawaii.

Don't judge my drunken ass too harshly. When it rains in Maui, about the only thing you can do is drink. I think this was from a trip in 1987... which was 23 years ago. If I had tons of money and no responsibilities, this would be how I spend my life today.

   
• Radiation Check. Holy crap... it just keeps getting worse. Why you should never submit to the airport porn-o-scanners.

   
• Bottom Gear. Just about every attempt by American television networks to recreate a popular British television series has resulted in total failure. With the possible exception of The Office, I can't even think of a show that's managed not to suck. Hard. I guess you could include American Idol in there, but I can't watch that show, so I don't care. The latest travesty is one of my most favorite British shows, Top Gear. It's tremendously entertaining on just about every level, mostly thanks to the awesome presenters...

Top Gear Cast Photo
Richard "Hamster" Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson, and James "Captain Slow" May

The big picture here is that the show doesn't need to be re-made. It translates perfectly to American audiences with almost no confusion, and BBC America should have just made a deal with one of our major networks to air it "as-is"... I think it would be a big success. Heck, it's already a big success for BBC America (which, unfortunately, not many people have here).

But oh no... instead we've got The History Channel (of all places) doing a re-make.

And it sucks.

I watched the first episode and hated it. But I chalked that up to having an emotional attachment to the original, and felt I probably wasn't giving it a fair shake. So I watched a second episode.

And it still sucks.

They're copying absolutely everything from the British original, but somehow failing at it. The presenters just aren't entertaining. They have -zero- chemistry. They're definitely not funny. All the "humor" on the show is badly forced and not even worth a chuckle. It's the exact opposite of what Jeremy Clarkson and Co. have going on the REAL Top Gear. Thankfully, my cable package includes BBC America so I can see it. I'm just pissed that many Americans will see the shitty re-make and think that "Top Gear" is terrible when they're not even watching Top Gear.

   
• DaveToon Redux. I rarely laugh at the cartoons I draw for Blogography. I'm usually too embarrassed over having slapped together yet another crappy piece of Colorforms art. Given the time constraints I almost always have, there's not much I can do about it, but it still bothers me. And yet... every once in a while something comes out of it that gets me to smile. This time it was the TSA cartoon I made for Bad Monkey. Specifically, one piece of one panel of that series...

DAVETOON: Bad Monkey Victory

I have no idea why, but seeing this makes me laugh my ass off every time. I'm laughing as I type this. I think it's because that one panel sums up who Bad Monkey is. He's once again gotten away with something he shouldn't have, and his smug victory stance as he walks away from all consequences of his actions defines his personality perfectly.

I need this on a T-shirt.

   
And, on that note, I guess it's time to put the computer down and see if I can get my crap together so I can get back to real life tomorrow. But first? Waffles.

   

Monday

Posted on Monday, November 29th, 2010

Dave!This was not the best day.

Usually Mondays are no different than any other day for me. Probably because I work seven days a week. But the drama which other people attribute to Mondays can definitely fuck up my day. Kind of like The Black Death fucked up the 14th century, but on a much larger scale. Well, larger to me, since I'm the one who had to deal with it. To the best of my knowledge I wasn't alive during the 14th century, so it's not like The Black Death was any skin off of my nose.

Things started off bad when my electronic key fob wouldn't unlock my car. This is really embarrassing, because it means having to unlock the door with my actual key (how quaint!) and possibly setting off the alarm. An alarm which will blast the horn for two full minutes. Which doesn't sound like a long time, but when all your neighbors are staring at you with death in their eyes, it's an eternity. The trick is to get the key into the ignition very, very quickly so you can use some off/on trickery to deactivate the alarm manually. Fortunately, I managed to get the sequence right and avoid being assaulted by an angry mob... but still.

A minor victory, but things just went down hill from there.

The good news is that it's almost midnight and tomorrow is another day.

Hopefully a better day.

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Snow

Posted on Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Dave!Despite living with snowy winters most of my life, I can never seem to get used to that first snowfall.

Eventually I become accustomed the weather and it doesn't bother me that much. But today?

In the morning when going to work...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave screaming because snow is piled on his car in the morning...

   
At night when going back home...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave screaming because snow is piled on his car at night...

   
I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.

Why can't they make no-stick snow coatings for cars?

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