Once again something is broked and I can't get today's entry to post. Comments still work just fine, so I have no idea what's going on. Again.
What a way to start the new year.
I still can't figure out what the problem is with my blog. If I insert an entry directly in to the SQL database and force a rebuild, it will show up no problem. But writing an entry directly fails. I guess I must have blown up something while trying to fix the admin search thingy.
Typical. It's not enough that my template still breaks under crappy Internet Explorer in the comments, now I've got something new to worry about. Meh. Maybe tomorrow.
Wah. I want a new blog.
w00t! I finally managed to fix my blog! Apparently, it was a "permissions" issue. Easy.
Today was a beautiful day, filled with sunshine and a relatively nice weather. This caused much of the snow on the roads to melt, which is great until around 6:30 when the temperature drops below freezing again. Then wet roads turn to ice. But they don't look that way in the dark... they just look wet.
Which is why an idiot driving the car behind me nearly crashed into my ass.
Instead they managed to do some wild acrobatics and swerve to a snowbank on the side of the road. They were going slow enough when they hit that there was no damage, but still... who doesn't understand the concept of water turning to ice when it gets cold? And why are the people who don't understand this concept still allowed to drive in wintertime? Shouldn't there be testing for this kind of stuff? It's not rocket science...
WATER + COLD = ICE = SLIPPERY!!
Perhaps I need to print that on a bumper sticker. Or add a chapter to my upcoming book explaining how ice works...
We now return you to our regularly scheduled blog program...
My blog is up and running again... just in time for Bullet Sunday!
• Interviewed. I've been interviewed by the new travel blog Sharing Experiences, run by travel writer Andy Hayes. There's kind of an important announcement I make there (especially if you're in the U.K.) so be sure to take a look!
• Better. I don't like 95% of the commercials that show up on television because they are annoying rather than entertaining in the way they sell their wares. A rare exception would be the absolutely brilliant and inspirational ads run by the Foundation for a Better Life. They're magic. This one is a particular favorite, despite the fact that it has bad parents in it who don't know how to watch their kid...
UPDATE! In what I can only describe as one of the stupidest fucking things I've ever seen on the internets, The Foundation for a Better Life no longer allows sharing of their videos. That's right... an organization dedicated to "PASSING IT ON" when it comes to inspirational messages DOESN'T ALLOW YOU TO ACTUALLY PASS IT ON! They develop commercials and pay millions to buy ad space on television, but bypass totally free distribution on the internet? Insane. Truly crazy. Oh well... since the video below won't work any more, you have to go to their website to watch it.
How much better would our world be if this is the way it worked all the time?
• Changed. Why is it that every time somebody changes their product, it turns out to be for the worse? Miracle Whip used to be a favorite sandwich condiment... until the dumbasses at Kraft switched from an oil base to a water base to save money. Now it soaks into bread too fast and falls apart in macaroni salad, which just blows. And don't get me started on the way that Kraft destroyed Boca Burgers when they bought out the company. Boca Burgers used to be my favorite food, now I can barely eat them because they are gag-inducing soggy, waggy, snotty, and shitty. Another tragedy was when General Mills "new and improved" my favorite childhood cereal, Cocoa Puffs. They used to be these deliciously puffy and lightly chocolatey crispy balls... but now they're dense, hard, and so chocolatey that they taste artificial, plastic and crappy. Recently I saw that they had a new cereal called "Cocoa Puffs Combos" and thought I'd give them a try. Imagine my shock when I found out that the Combos HAVE THE ORIGINAL COCOA PUFFS IN THEM! Finally, I can be Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs again!
• Remade. I've written repeatedly about my love for the best show every to air on television, Cupid starring Jeremy Piven and Paula Marshal. This morning I learned that the remake, which I'm assuming will be total shit, is going to begin airing on March 24th. What kind of fucked-up birthday present is that? Couldn't they at least released the real Cupid on DVD so I have something good to watch while Rob Thomas destroys his own show? Oh well, guess it's time to re-watch my Veronica Mars DVDs for the millionth time.
• Cupidity. One last rant before I go... even if Sony/Tri-Star doesn't want to go to the expense of producing the original Cupid episodes on DVD... why in the hell don't they put the episodes on the iTunes Store? The only expense is digitizing the show, which can't be much of a road block, after that it's all money in the bank. GAH! Stupid.
Now I'm cold and hungry and don't feel like blogging anymore.
This morning I woke up to a fresh 9-inches of snow that magically appeared overnight.
Needless to say, I was not thrilled. I had to wait over an hour for the snowplow people to come dig me out so I could get to work. Not a good way to start the week.
In other news... OMFG!! TOMORROW IS THE MACWORLD KEYNOTE!!! I'm totally excited, even though his Royal Steveness won't be the one delivering it. Even worse, Apple has decided that this is the last year they'll be participating at MacWorld, which is a sad passing of a long-time tradition.
It may be my last shot, but I'm still crossing my fingers for iToast to be announced!
But I'd also settle for a $1000 price cut on the MacBook Pro.
Or maybe something new, like a MacTablet.
But mostly an iToast.
It's been raining all day, and is supposed to keep raining through the week.
This is a scary prospect when you've got as much snow as we do. The rain soaks into the snow and makes it super-heavy, which causes carports to collapse... roofs to cave in... satellite dishes to topple... generally nasty stuff. As if that wasn't enough, now we've got avalanches in the mountains too. But that pales in comparison to what's happening Seattle-side, they're being hit with massive flooding. Since there's even more rain on the way, where's all that water supposed to go?
This is not a great way to start the year for a lot of people.
The MacWorld keynote today was kind of boring, but still more exciting that anything you're going to get from other companies at their keynote presentations. The technologies being pumped into iLife and iWork are impressive, and things like facial recognition in a photo app is a great idea, but hardly revolutionary. Then we've got the iTunes Store going DRM-free on their music, which isn't too surprising (other online stores have been DRM-free for a while now as record labels attempted to "even the field"). But it's the new 17-inch Mac Book Pro that intrigued me most. Not because I want one... I don't, it's too big to travel with easily... but because of a very interesting option you have when you go to order one...
Why isn't that an option on the 15-inch MacBook Pro? When I was in Minnesota a while back, I wandered into The Apple Store at Mall of America to get a new laptop and was furious to discover that all of them have these hideously glossy screens. Sure the color is nicer, but I need to WORK. How can I focus on my work with a massive sheet of glare staring back at me?
I sure hope that Apple does the right thing and allows this option for their smaller laptops as well.
I guess it's time to try to get some sleep. Listening to the rain drops on my roof should be a nice sound to fall asleep by.
At least all that water is good for something.
I'm endlessly fascinated with the free "Google Earth" application.
It's always running on my work Mac, and any time I have to take a phone call or am waiting for something, I pop it up and explore the world. Sometimes I travel to cities I've been to before and revisit interesting places. Other times I jet off to somewhere new. A place that I've always dreamed of visiting, but haven't gotten around to yet. Still other times I just fly around the planet looking for something nifty to look at. Google Earth makes it easy...
The coolest part of Google Earth is how they are continuously adding 3-D content which sits on top of the map and allows you to explore the world in an entirely new way. You can fly to Seattle, for example...
Then zoom in and pan the camera to start exploring things in glorious three-dimensions...
And they're adding new models all the time. Partially-completed content floats above the map until completed. Like in Paris, for example, where these buildings are awaiting textures...
This morning I found out that Walt Disney World has tons of 3-D content. Flying over to The Magic Kingdom, I was amazed at the fantastic job they did with Cinderella's Castle...
Peeking around the castle, I see they even have the rides rendered...
The level of detail is amazing. They even modeled the boats on The Jungle Cruise...
And it's not just the popular Disney landmarks that are given the 3-D treatment... Epcot's World Showcase is beautifully constructed...
Even the resort properties are fully rendered in beautiful detail. Like my favorite hotel, Disney's Wilderness Lodge...
If you want to do a little exploring of your own, you can pick up a free copy of Google Earth at the official site.
I don't generally make New Years resolutions, because I never know where my head will be at ten minutes from now. I could suddenly decide to shave my head and become a porn star or something.
The only goal I really set for myself is to blog every day, but I do that anyway.
So I decided that I should take a good hard look at myself and come up with five things that I can commit to doing in the new year.
My New Years Resolutions for 2009...
Meh. I'll probably have all that done within a month. Those are not very far-reaching resolutions.
My New Years Resolutions for 2010...
Now there's some resolutions!
So TequilaCon 2009 is in Santa Fe.
To read about how that came about, Brandon has a story up on his blog.
But Brandon has a tendency to whitewash the more questionable aspects when it comes to recounting events like this, so I thought that I would fill in a few of the gory details that he's left out... BULLET STYLE!!
• Planning. I've already blogged about how Jenny summoned the TequilaCon Committee to Chicago for a pre-planning meeting. Only three of us were foolish enough to actually go... myself, Vahid, and Brandon. What I didn't mention is that Jenny showed up dressed in sun-goddess robes and insisted that we address her as "High Priestess Many Goats."
• Whiteboard. When I posted a picture of Brandon Photographing the Official TequilaCon Whiteboard, I blurred out the cities listed...
But now all can be revealed. Here are the eleven cities ultimately considered after hours of debate...
After some alcohol, Pac-Mac, and discussion, the final three locations were narrowed down to Vancouver BC, Las Vegas, and Santa Fe. After some alcohol, Pac-Mac, and a lot more discussion, Vancouver was axed because of passport requirements. That left Las Vegas and Santa Fe. After some alcohol, Pac-Man, SO much money, and a spinning whiskey bottle, High Priestess Many Goats declared Santa Fe the host city for TequilaCon 2009...
This is probably for the best, because Santa Fe feels more like a TequilaCon city, whereas Vegas is kind of obvious and commercialized.
• Drunken. When Brandon says that he put on the Sometimes Rabbit head and tried to get Jenny's cat drunk, it sounds like a clever allegory for setting aside the folly of one's youth and embracing the responsibilities of adulthood... but was, in fact, putting on the Sometimes Rabbit head and trying to get Jenny's cat drunk...
That's three bullets, which is probably three too many, so I guess that's all for today. Sometime in February, I'm guessing a venue in Santa Fe will be decided upon, and the official details will be posted so everybody can make their travel and lodging arrangements. In the meanwhile I urge you to drop by Jenny's blog if you are interested in the event so she can put you on the Official TequilaCon 2009 Mailing List...
I've decided I don't want to be on the Official Mailing List. That way I can crash the party unannounced.
Twitter is what they call a "micro-blogging" service that allows you to post quick 140-character updates throughout your day and have them compiled into a webfeed with other Twitter users. I signed up for it as a joke when I made my DaveStalker™ page, and thought I'd get bored with it in a week. That was several months ago.
All this time I've been treating Twitter as a "disposable" medium to post random crap. Except Twitter isn't disposable. It's not only archived in several places, but shows up in Google searches as well.
This was made known to me this morning when I received an email from a former co-worker who was looking for me on the internet... and found my Twitter feed. This came as a bit of a shock. I don't really think about what I post there, so I had no idea what it was saying about me.
So I took a look, and pulled some random tweets of mine from the past couple months...
"Thinking of breaking my vegetarianism if only I could find some unicorn meat. I hear it's magically delicious!"
"I WANT HOT COCOA!! HOT COCOA, BITCHES!!!"
"Getting ready to make love to the Swiss Miss Instant Cocoa packet. Oh how I love your creamy hotness, Swiss Miss!"
"As a tribute to crack-whores everywhere (bless them!), I am blasting Amy Winehouse music while waiting for the MacWorld keynote to begin."
"Oooh! It's Madonna... she's going to dress me up in her love! I hope all my immunizations are current."
"= tee hee = I'm leaving comments while naked and eating pizza. Praying that an errant drop of molten cheese doesn't ruin my day."
"I'd say that the Hewlett-Packard B9180 printer is shit, but it aspires to be that good. It dreams of one day becoming shit."
"I an so totally hammered right now. Thank heavens for spell-chuck!"
"Oooh! It's a hamster!"
"DANCE HAMSTER! DANCE YOUR FURRY ASS OFF!"
"I make no apologies for being an Apple whore. They can take mundane shit and make it fascinating. Microsoft? Exactly the opposite."
"I hate watching Wheel of Fortune when some bitch is 'woo-woo-ing' it up like a drunken whore at a frat party. SHUT UP! JUST STFU!!"
"A guy at my flight's gate is praying the rosary. What does he know that I don't know?"
"Oh. He's a priest. I guess they don't have to have a reason to pray the rosary."
"I want Johnny Lee Miller's wardrobe from the movie 'Hackers.'"
"Wow. You know the weather in Seattle is bad when you can't even order up a hooker to your hotel suite! I wonder if they get hazard pay?"
"Shit shit shit shit SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!!!"
"I have fleeting moments of feeling happy with my life, but just as I try to grab ahold of them, they vanish. Now I wait for the next moment."
"Drunk girl at airport yelling to anybody who will listen that she needs some pot. And possibly crackers. I can't tell what she's saying."
"If your child is posessed by Satan, please leave it chained in the basement instead of bringing it to Disney World."
"EMBRACE THE HORROR!!"
"Wow. Disney's Animal Kingdom has a very big anti-poacher bias. Where are the poachers to present their side of the story?"
"I hate people. Just about everybody. Well, everybody except you, of course."
"If every day was like today, I'd be sticking my head in a Cuisinart and punching 'puree' or maybe 'chop'"
"You know the French Fries are going to be fucking fabulous when they're so greasy that ketchup won't even stick to them."
"Hey! The rumor is true... blood really is hard to wash off your hands!
"Oddly enough, I never have this kind of trouble when it's my own blood. I wish this mess would stay a pretty red when it dries on the walls."
"Wheee! It's like finger paints, but with hematological goodness baked right in!"
"Oooh... Paula Abdul's stalker has turned up dead! Lesson to live by... Don't Fuck With Paula Abdul.
"Holy crap... I've run out of hot glue sticks. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SOMEBODY GET ME MORE HOT GLUE STICKS!! I'm shooting blanks here, people!"
Meh. Could be worse I suppose.
It just goes to show, there is nothing posted to the internet that can't come back to haunt you in the future.
So when those photos eventually pop up, please understand that I was young and needed the money...
Wah. I have a headache. And on Bullet Sunday too.
• Arbitrary. There is right and there is wrong and there is that murky gray area in-between. And yet, it is all a matter of perspective. Where lines are drawn and on which side things are placed is entirely dependent upon the person in question. And that's okay. I understand that, I accept that. But when people define their lines in one breath... then move them to suit their situation in the next... I call bullshit. Moral high ground affords a terrific view, but it's lonely up there when nobody will stand by your hypocritical ass.
• Clarification. No, that wasn't about you.
• Foggy. There's a lot of fog out tonight. I do not like fog...
• Sullified. Thanks to Dan, I now have Sully both at home and at work. My new Sully is very cool because he comes with his own Mike Wazowski...
• Experienced. Memes, once the backbones of most every blog on the internet, have been dying a slow death. I did a grand total of six last year, and half of those were in the first quarter. But every once in a while they pop up, so I thought I'd jump on the "Have You Experienced..." meme which I first saw at Badger Meets World, then again at Anyhoo... As always, to spare the meme-haters out there, I've dropped it in an extended entry.
Now back to a very busy week, already in progress...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
I had made a promise to myself that I would stay home an entire month so I could recuperate after the continuous travel-hell I was subjected to the last three months... but, alas...
Here I am packing my suitcase again.
I am not even a little upset about it. I had two-and-a-half glorious travel-free weeks, so it's not like I can really complain. Besides, I'm heading to So-Cal, where I understand the weather is fantastic. This would be a nice change from the freezing fog that's been plaguing us in the valley here for the past several days.
Assuming the airport is open tomorrow.
If the weather continues to suck, I may not be going anywhere.
Which wouldn't be the worst thing in the world because, assuming I do make it out, I'm back for only a week before I fly out again.
In the meanwhile, I will attempt to make the most out of the five hours sleep I get tonight. A pity I've been wrestling with stomach cramps all evening and won't be able to enjoy it.
I just paid $4.00 for a bottle of Italian Spring Water at my hotel.
I wish I could say that when I close my eyes and drink it, the taste is evocative of Italy... but all I taste is wet. That's a darn shame.
So here I am in San Diego. It's a wonderful place that everybody should visit at least once in their life. If, for no other reason, to make a pilgrimage to the city of my birth. There isn't a temple here in honor of the occasion, but there really should be. Or maybe instead of a temple there could be a statue of me standing in Balboa Park. I dunno. There just needs to be someplace my worshippers can go to go pay their respects and place flowers to celebrate my greatness. And make a donation to the Dave Monument I'm planning to build in the land formerly occupied by Mt. Ranier National Park.
Hmmm... I don't know why it didn't occur to me before, but San Diego would be the perfect place to put my Daveland amusement park! I will convince the city to plow under the San Diego Zoo and put Daveland there instead! What a great location!
Boy, being back to the city of my birth really has me firing on all cylinders tonight.
And speaking of San Diego... there's a few people in town wanting to meet up for dinner on Friday night, if you're in the area and would like to come along, please send me an email ASAP so we can make plans. My email address is at the top of the sidebar on every page.
Unfortunately, I landed to learn of the terrible news that Ricardo Montalban had died.
I, of course, loved him as Mr. Roarke on the show Fantasy Island. Every kid growing up in the late 70's did, because he was the epitome of coolness. He'd walk around in those flawless white suits being all friendly and good-natured and "Welcome to Fantasy Island" and stuff. But then he'd occasionally show his darker side... proving that he could be a total badass as well. It's unthinkable to envision anybody else playing the character except Mr. Montalban (indeed, even the brilliant Malcolm McDowell couldn't manage it when there was a failed revival series twenty years later).
But, to me and so many others, Ricardo Montalban will forever be Khan...
The role of the maniacal villain in the second Star Trek film was not an easy one to play. Indeed, I'd say it was a thankless and impossible role to play. As written, the part was so badly over-the-top... almost to the point of being comical.
Until it was performed by Ricardo Montalban.
He played the character deadly-serious, and turned in a performance so riveting that it cemented Khan as one of the greatest movie villains of all time (indeed, even the brilliant Malcolm McDowell couldn't top it in a follow-up film, Star Trek: Generations). After watching Star Trek II, I fell in love with all things Trek again, and I really have Ricardo Montalban to thank for it. He will definitely be missed.
Even if you don't like Star Trek, you should absolutely check out Wrath of Khan. Montalban's performance is totally worth it. Oh, and don't forget his masterful performance in the first The Naked Gun movie as well!
Lastly, I urge you to read a fantastic blog entry about what it was like working with Mr. Montalban over at Mark Evanier's News From Me site. He was truly an amazing guy and a class-act.
P.S. All my best wishes to my personal hero, Steve Jobs, for a speedy and full recovery.
I did not want to come here.
The last quarter of 2008 was a very hard travel period for me. I was stuck in airports and hotels more than I was home. I was dragged from one corner of the country to the other. I was worked to a state of exhaustion that doesn't go away anytime soon. Yes there were fun moments, but it is not much fun. I just wanted to stay home for a while.
But "home" has been a miserable place as of late. Freezing fog has made the days depressing and gray... the nights cold and bleak.
Turns out a few days in gorgeous San Diego may be just what I need.
After work, this was my day.
Drinking Jäger and Stella at a beautiful waterfront bar...
Enjoying flawless blue skies and the ocean air at Harbor Island...
Looking for the Super Friends at the Hall of Justice...
Eating Pinkberry with fresh strawberries...
In-between all that, there might have been a few more bars and some drinking.
= ahem =
Tomorrow will hopefully be more of the same.
Today Hilly-Sue drove down from The O.C. to hang out with me in San Diego.
With nothing better to do until Suzy-Jane got off work, we decided to go to SeaWorld. I used to go quite regularly when I was flying down to San Diego to visit with family in the early 90's, but hadn't been back since. On the way up, she went through Ocean Beach so we could drive through the neighborhood I grew up in. I'd been through a few times before, but this time my dad had given me an address so I could scope out the right place. I was very young at the time I was living there, so I only really remember it from photos, but it's an interesting visit never-the-less.
Then it was time for SeaWorld...
Overall, SeaWorld kind of sucked. Hilly-Sue and I can have a blast anywhere, so we were able to entertain ourselves despite it all, but still... lame. Not at all worth $65, especially considering that two of the three rides there were closed (Journey to Atlantis, and Sky Tower), and the Sky-Buckets cost $3.00 extra.
The worst place in the park was "Sea Turtle Cove" which was a way-too-small tank where they had stuffed in way too many turtles. Those poor things who weren't sleeping were slapping the windows with their flippers trying to get out. It was about the saddest thing you can imagine, and kind of ruined the rest of the day for us.
But we tried our best to have fun and, if you can get over the fact that these animals really don't have enough space to roam like they should, there are some interesting things to see...
From there we went back to San Diego's Gaslamp District for dinner with SJ. Here we are showing her our Shamu "Believe" necklaces...
We ate at the most excellent "Nicky Rottens" where they have a great veggie burger on the menu...
Then it was Pinkberry for dessert, but SJ has all the pictures of us there, so maybe they'll end up online over at Pseudotherapy.
As we were walking back to the parking garage, we ran into a giant talking cupcake!
She demanded us to go to Heavenly Cupcakes for even more dessert, and who were we to argue? They are indeed, heavenly, as you can see by the halos that come on each one...
The end. Thanks to Hilly-Sue and Suzy-Jane for a fantastic final day in So-Cal!
It's back to foggy, freezy, Central Washington for another edition of Bullet Sunday!
• Flying. No, I am not more nervous about flying after the emergency landing by US Airways into the Hudson River. Statistically speaking, flying is still one of the safest ways to travel, and one of the safest activities you can do, period. I am more nervous walking across the street while dumbasses are out there driving while being distracted by their mobile phones. And this is not idle speculation. I've lost count over the number of times somebody has nearly nailed me, my car, or my motorcycle because they were driving without paying attention. I'll take flying any day. Every day.
I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the obvious... everybody on that flight is still alive.
• Player. I don't have a lot of free time. What little free time I do have is spent in Animal Crossing...
Apparently I have nothing better to do with my personal life than this...
I don't know whether this is something to celebrate or apologize for. I owe myself a lot of apologies lately.
• Polaroid. Even in this age of digital photography... I still shoot film from time to time. There are things that digital cameras simply cannot capture in a way that the chemical reaction of film is able to. And one of the most fun ways of playing with film is the immediate satisfaction of a Polaroid instant film picture. Except Polaroid discontinued making instant film in June of last year. I find it kind of sad that future generations won't know the joy of it all. But, fortunately for everybody, The Impossible Project has come to save us. A group of Polaroid fans have purchased the manufacturing equipment from Polaroid, and signed a lease on an old Polaroid factory in the Netherlands. They anticipate producing new instant film for legacy Polaroid camera equipment starting 2010. I will be first in line to purchase some. If you'd like to show your support for the project, you can sign up for updates at their site.
• Trust. There is no substitute for an impartial, trusted review. None. When I am wanting to buy something, the first thing I do is research it on the internet... and completely disregard any glowing 100% positive reviews left by an untrusted source. This story about Belkin paying for positive reviews is why. It's far better to learn what problems people are having than what they are loving, because that's about the only thing guaranteed to be real. At some point, companies are going to have to fucking learn that you can't manipulate the internet and live to tell about it. In the age of blogs, the truth will prevail. Eventually. And, on that note, let me reiterate for anybody doing a Google search... The Hewlett-Packard B9180 printer is the biggest pile of shit I have ever owned... twice.
• Star Walk. For anybody with an iPod Touch or iPhone who has even a passing interest in stargazing or exploring the universe, you are in for a treat. Vito Technology has created a stunning piece of star map software called Star Walk.I don't know whether to be more amazed that such a beautiful piece of software runs so amazingly well on my iPhone... or that they're only charging $4.99 to buy it! The zoomable interface is very elegant, and looks like this...
And, of course, you can switch to night-mode, which looks like this...
When you zoom in using the iPhone's multi-touch screen, details from the built-in celestial database begin to appear over stars, planets, galaxies, and deep space objects of interest (note the cool lens flare from the sun!)...
Tapping an object selects it. If you then tap the "info" button, it brings up relevant information in a very cool Star Trek "PADD" kind of interface, complete with nifty beeps and boops! The iPhone mute settings are respected, so sounds can be muted if you wish to explore in silence...
It's apps like this that make owning an iPhone so compelling. You can buy it from the iTunes Store here.
If only it wasn't completely overcast out so I could even look at the stars.
Except on my iPhone.
And in Animal Crossing, which is where I'm off to now...
The topic du jour seems to be, what else, Barack Obama's inauguration.
Ultimately most conversations boiled down to how confident everybody was in Obama's ability to turn things around for the USA and leave it in better shape than he found it after four years in office. Everybody I've talked to was surprisingly optimistic. Even the Republicans felt that Obama has such momentum behind him that things were bound to improve in the short-run, even though they were wary of his policies over the long haul.
My only contribution to the conversation was this: "When you're at rock bottom, there's nowhere to go but up. Obama has no choice but to make things better because they can't get any worse." Which is not entirely true (of course things can get worse), but is still an accurate assessment on many levels. After all, we now have a president who can speak in coherent sentences and knows how to pronounce the word "nuclear" so he doesn't sound like a complete moron. See? Things are improving already.
But where does hope-fueled fantasy end and fact-based reality begin?
With Obama, it's hard to tell. As I've said numerous times, he got my vote not because I think he has magical powers to fix the country... but because he's who I felt would be least likely to fuck things up further. Not a ringing endorsement, to be sure, but it was motivation enough to get me donating money to his campaign.
I have no idea what's going to happen next. If we're lucky, Obama will live up to the hype and a golden age will ensue. Sure it's unlikely, but it's not inconceivable. One thing is for certain, however... the days ahead should prove very interesting.
In other news... did anybody else see that the Aurora Borealis was out last night? It was a pretty sight...
Blargh. Where did this day go?
This has been an unbelievably crappy day, and it's not even over yet.
It's hard for me to complain too much, because things are tough all over. There's a lot of people having a lot of bad days, and the odds of things getting better any time soon are growing slimmer with each passing moment.
Rather than dwell on the depressing state of my existence now, I've decided to look ahead to a (hopefully) better future.
One week from now, I will be meeting up with the incomparable Ms. Sizzle...
... to go see Etta James in concert...
... and perhaps even have a cupcake love affair with Kate...
Right now it's the lovely lady trifecta of Sizzle, Etta, and Kate that's keeping me going.
Without them to look forward to, I'd probably be passed out drunk.
It is tough to blog when you're in the condition I'm in.
The past couple of weeks has been very difficult and I'm not expecting things to improve any time soon. It seems as if every part of my life is in some kind of turmoil, and I'm just exhausted from it all. It's gotten to the point where I don't want to get out of bed in the morning. All I want is for the world to go away. I gave up using alcohol to escape from my troubles a long time ago, but it is looking like a better solution every day (albeit a temporary one that causes more problems than it ever solves).
I work very hard to be multi-dimensional. Mostly because people who make their entire life all about one thing are not interesting to me. Those whose entire life is about their job and nothing else. Or being gay and nothing else. Or being Christian and nothing else.* Or being Jewish and nothing else.* Or being political and nothing else. Or whatever. Every time you see them, hear from them, talk to them, or even think about them, they're all about that one thing and rarely ever express any other side to their existence. I get bored easily, so tend to ignore these one-dimensional beings as a matter of course.
So being depressed and nothing else is just not something I can let myself do... even on my blog.
I had considered taking a hiatus last week but ended up going to San Diego, which gave me something else to write about. I had considered starting a hiatus tonight, but will soon be going to Seattle for two days, then to Germany for a week, so that seemed kind of pointless. Odds are that leaving the country for a bit will snap me out of this funk I'm in, so I would have broken a long chain of daily blogging for nothing. And it's not like I'm looking for more things to be depressed about.
So for the next couple of days if I post stupider crap than usual in an effort to amuse myself and add some dimension to my miserable existence, I hope I can be forgiven.
And because efforts to cheer me up would probably backfire, I'll spare you the uncomfortable situation of trying to come up with something appropriate to say by turning off comments for this entry.
Why? Because I like you!
No reason for both of us to feel like crap.
* Do you ever notice how when you make a list with a religion in it, the passage can be interpreted as offensive? Had I only put "Christian" in that list or only "Jewish" in that list, it would seem as though I was coming down on that faith when my only intent was to provide an example. Very few things strike with this kind of sensitivity, and I'm thinking there's a metaphor for religious coexistence in there somewhere.
I am not here today. I am setting back US foreign relations a couple of decades by guest-posting a Canadian Travel Journal entry over at LeSombre's blog.
I am thinking today's lunch will be courtesy of Taco Bell. Things are looking up already!
UPDATE: My guest post has been archived in an extended entry in case LeSombre should decide to disappear from the internet one day!→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
'Tis once again time to unleash the bullets on this fine Sunday evening!
• Export. It's kind of an annual tradition for me to leave the country for my birthday. It started as a way to escape people wanting to throw me a party, but eventually just became habit (last year I went to Oslo). I had made a decision to skip this year and save the money, but eventually changed my mind. The crappy economy means airfare and hotels can be found cheaper, negating the horrendously shitty value of the US dollar abroad. It's still very expensive, but at least it doesn't require me to sell a kidney. The problem is that I only have a week, which really isn't enough time to explore any of my dream destinations like India or Australia, so where? Perhaps someplace I've been to before so there's no pressure to play tourist and I can just goof around for a few days...
• Dave Britain. And so Davedon and Davenburgh are on for March...
LONDON: I will be in London March 19-23rd & 25th. Since weekends seem to be easier for a blogger-meet, I'm thinking an early dinner on Saturday the 21st would be nice. If you'd rather meet up for lunch or dinner some other time, just let me know!
EDINBURGH: I will be in Edinburgh March 24-25 (UPDATE: This has been changed from the original Sunday date so as not to conflict with "Mothering Sunday" in the UK). I'm thinking we could have a blogger-meet after working hours on Tuesday the 24th.
If meeting up with some bloggers in either city sounds good to you, just drop me an email... my address is in the sidebar on every page!
• Twenty-Five. This weekend is the 25th anniversary of the Apple Macintosh personal computer. I find it sweetly ironic that a fucktard like Michael Dell was trashing Apple publicly only a few years ago, saying that the company should close up shop and give their money back to the stockholders. You can hardly blame him though... with Apple out of the picture, his ugly-ass Dell computer crap wouldn't look so tragic by comparison. But thanks to continuing innovations with Mac OS X and their massive hits with iPods and iPhones, Apple is doing just fine. And trading about $80 higher per share than Dell. Many congratulations to my favorite fruit-themed computer company!
• OBAMA! I had been passing along a link to some hilarious products shots for the Obama Action Figure, and was dismayed to find that they've since been removed. Fortunately, I still have a few of them archived on my MacBook. I'm going to post them here so I won't lose them, because they're pretty bad-ass...
Seriously, wouldn't you feel better about having a president with ninja skills?
Obama getting ready to pop a cap in some Congressman's ass for not voting properly.
The Force is strong with Obama-Wan Kenobi!
A president who isn't afraid of taking care of bidness!
I wants me the Obama doll... but the DID Corporation site doesn't offer much help.
And thus concludes another Bullet Sunday. Next week my bullets will be fired from Germany, where hopefully I'll have donuts to blog about...
I'm not the kind of person to disrespect a religious leader.
But screw the pope.
I've made no secret of the fact that I was raised Catholic. I was baptized... I attended Sunday School... I took communion... I went to church when I could. Even after I stopped attending service, I still maintained ties with the Catholic church so I could help with projects and fund-raising events and such. On top of that, I continued to go to Easter Sunday mass and Midnight Christmas mass long after I had stopped calling myself a Catholic... all because I missed the ritual and community of it all.
Despite eventually embracing different beliefs, I still loved the church.
Partly because I still had many friends and family who were members, but mostly because of the tremendous respect, admiration, and affection I had towards Pope John Paul II. He was a truly great man, and did remarkable things to make the Catholic Church less insular and more a part of the world community. He was a tireless advocate of human rights. He reached out to other religions in an effort to create a new era of acceptance and understanding between faiths. He was the embodiment of Christian ideals. He was a brilliant writer. He spoke a dozen languages. He made public apologies for historical wrongs of his church. He was a true leader... inspirational not only to his followers, but to everyone.
Not that I agreed with everything he did or stood for... that would be impossible for anybody. But I never lost respect for him.
And now all of John Paul II's hard work is systematically being destroyed by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI.
I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, despite being a member of Hitler's Youth and his best efforts to drag the church back to the dark ages. But then he refused to see the Dalai Lama at the Vatican, and I was done. Who refuses to see the Dalai Lama? The pope offended an aspect of my faith (as he had already done to so many others) and so I was done. Done.
And then today Pope Benedict un-excommunicated four renegade bishops which John Paul II had excommunicated. That's his privilege, but one of these bishops was Richard Williamson, a Holocaust-denying anti-Semitic asshole. Pissing all over John Paul II's legacy is one thing... but this is unforgivable. And I honestly don't give a shit why Benedict did it. He's done a very shameful thing, and I am deeply saddened for Catholics who have been tied to denial of this horrific act...
Somehow, I'm beyond done.
It's not even that he's a Holocaust denier. I mean, it is crazy given the mountains of evidence he claims doesn't exist (not to mention the testimony of not only the Jews who either survived or were forced to work at the camps, but also the Nazis interrogated after the war). For me it's the casual and condescending way that he dismisses the deaths of the people he admits were killed. Like a couple hundred thousand exterminated is a perfectly okay amount because it's not the nearly six million that has been estimated. What kind of priest has an attitude like this? As a man of God, shouldn't he be even a little horrified?
I'm wondering if now is the time for me to enact a hostile takeover of the papacy...
One of the hallmarks of being pope is infallibility. Obviously the current pope doesn't fit the bill. He's making mistakes right and left (as today's decision should make painfully obvious).
I'll get started on the "Dave Is My Pope" shirts.
Today as I was driving home, a car went screaming past me into the left-turn lane. It then proceeded to blow through a red light at top speed. Unfortunately for them, a police car was first in line at the opposite side of the light. It took the cop all of two seconds to flip his lights on and go tearing after the reckless driver.
As I sat there waiting for the light to change, I started wondering what was so urgent that this person would risk not only getting a ticket, but also getting in an accident and potentially killing somebody.
Here's what I came up with...
That last one got me wondering... how long will it be before musical artists tell record labels to go fuck themselves and take control over their own property?
I only ask, because I am sick and tired of music labels having a choke-hold on who gets to buy an artist's work. When I can't buy a song because a record label is too stupid, lazy, cheap, or unmotivated to make it available to me, something is wrong. In this day and age of digital music distribution, I should be able to buy any piece of music I want. I shouldn't be denied because the artist doesn't have a distributor in my country for the song. I shouldn't be denied because the song is old and out of print. I shouldn't be denied because the artist's label has decided there's no audience for the song where I live.
And yet, that's where we're at.
And it makes zero sense.
Sure musical artists need an investment to promote their work... but that should come in the form of a partner, not a music label overlord who takes ownership and control. The business model has got to change.
Because when you make it so that I can't BUY your music, I'm going to find another way. Hopefully legally, but you know...
Have you ever had an experience so utterly bizarre and disturbing that you just can't find words to adequately describe it?
That pretty much sums up the Etta James concert I attended with Ms. Sizzle this evening. Though, before I get to the bizarre and disturbing part, I should preface this entry by saying I GOT TO SEE THE LEGENDARY MISS ETTA JAMES IN CONCERT!!! To say I am a fan is a bit of an understatement. I've loved her forever, but it was after having heard Etta sing her signature song "At Last" on the movie soundtrack for Pleasantville, I became mildly obsessed. I started tracking down what music of hers I could find, and even ended up with some stuff on vinyl. Of course, now-a-days you can get pretty much everything from the iTunes Music Store, but back then it was a little more challenging.
But oh so worth it.
Etta James has a voice that's as big as a house and fills your soul. Truly a legend.
Fast forward to a month ago when Sizzle announces on Twitter that Miss James is coming to Seattle. Having never seen her perform live, I ask Sizz if she wants some company, and she manages to snag us third-row seats for the event. It doesn't get much sweeter than that!
Now, before I get to why I'm having a difficult time writing about it, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Etta James can still blow the doors off a concert hall. At eighty-one years old, that's a pretty impressive feat. She may enter the stage on a scooter and have to sit down to perform, but you'd never know it to listen to her. After all these years, she's just as amazing as you could hope for.
This had to be the single most sexually-charged, balls-nasty, horrifyingly inappropriate concert I have ever been to.
And I've seen Madonna.
For the first song, which I believe was a stirring rendition of "Tell Mama," (but could be wrong because I am still traumatized), Etta... performed(?)... some kind of sex act on stage. It was hilarious, and the crowd was going nuts while she was making sexually-suggestive hand gestures, making kissie-face noises, flicking her tongue at the crowd, licking up the microphone, getting up and shaking her ass, fondling her breasts, and rubbing her crotch. Sizzle and I were dying, because it was as if Etta was making a joke about being 81 years old and still singing a song that was so sexually charged. It was all brilliant and very, very funny. And Etta sounded amazing.
Wiping the tears from our eyes, we applauded her "act" and waited for the second song to begin. I'm thinking it was the senses-shattering "I'd Rather Go Blind" (but, again, I'm still in a state of shock and could be wrong).
The inappropriate crotch rubbing, tongue flicking, and breast fondling continued in earnest.
On pretty much every song in her hour-long performance.
Things went from being a hysterical parody to just... wrong.
And then came the "fuck Beyonce" rant, where Etta just went off the rails about being able to kick Beyonce's ass... presumably because Beyonce sang her song, "At Last," at Obama's inauguration. This came as a total surprise, because I had read that Etta liked Beyonce's rendition, and said she was proud to have had her sing the song. And being that Beyonce credits Etta James as an influence, and worships the ground she walks on, it was all very... puzzling. I didn't quite understand what was going on.
I still don't.
What kills me is that Etta James is still amazing. Even at 81 and singing from a scooter, her voice will slay you. She doesn't need to do the whole scary sex-act car-wreck thing. It's just a distraction from an incredible performance, and is a disservice to both herself and the audience.
Do I regret going?
Hell no! I GOT TO SEE THE LEGENDARY MISS ETTA JAMES IN CONCERT!!!
But something tells me the image of her "performance" will haunt my nightmares for a while yet...
According to Google maps, I walked almost five miles today.
I don't get nearly enough exercise, so this is probably a good thing. Or would have been if I weren't breaking in a new pair of shoes. As it is now, I've got some nice blisters on my feet that should make travel ever so fun tomorrow!
Anyway... the bad news is that there's not really anything worth blogging about today. The worse news is that I'm waiting for a movie rental to download from iTunes, so I'm going to blog anyway!
WARNING: This is an extremely uninteresting entry. Unless following a boring person through their boring day appeals to you, it might be best to just skip it...
• Glazer's Camera Supply. When I get to Germany I'll be needing to take some photographs for work, so I brought along my camera. Problem is, my battery charger stopped working for some reason. Calling around yesterday, I was unable to find an authentic Nikon replacement, but was told at Glazer's they had a cheap-o generic version for $8.95. After I got caught up on work this morning I walked the 1.2 miles to their store only to find their cheap-o version was actually $24.95. This sucked, because it was too late to do anything but pay $24.95 for a hunk of crap. It works though, so I guess that's something.
• Johnny Rockets. They actually had veggies burgers in stock. I nearly died of shock.
• Macy's. When I was gathering my clothes for this trip, I noticed my favorite Cashmere sport jacket had a small tear in the sleeve's seam. Not wanting to make it worse, I decided to buy a new jacket when I got to Seattle. I hate clothes shopping with every fiber of my being, but managed to find a jacket I liked at Macy's. Alas, it was $350, which was more than I wanted to spend. The guy helping me then said "oh, there's a sale" and wandered off to find out what the cost was. Hoping that it would be under $200, I was dumbfounded when he said the price was $54. Apparently it was half-off since it was an older model, and then there was a massive discount on top of that. SCORE!
• Eddie Bauer. Encouraged by my fantastic luck, I went to Eddie Bauer to see if the shirts I like there might be on sale too. Turns out they were, which means nothing. Usually they don't have any styles I like in my custom "Tall" size, so I'm out of luck when it comes to getting anything on sale. But, miracles of miracles, they actually had five styles I liked... all in my size!! And because Eddie Bauer was having a similar "sale on sale priced merchandise" deal, I ended up getting five shirts for the price I usually pay for just one of them. SCORE!
• NikeTown. In a state of total euphoria that I managed to get $650 worth of quality clothes for a mind-boggling $114, I was freaking out at the thought of finding similar deals on other stuff I'd like to get. Such as a new pair of Nike hiking boots! But not only did NikeTown not have anything on sale, they also DON'T CARRY HIKING BOOTS ANYMORE! This completely killed my shopping high, so I decided to abandon my pursuit and haul my new clothes back to the hotel.
• The UPS Store. Last night I transferred as much data off my dying MacBook Pro as I could over to my new MacBook Pro. Since I'd eventually like to goof around with the busted-ass laptop to see if I can revive it as a spare, I decided to ship it back home. There's a UPS shop a couple blocks away, so I popped my old MacBook Pro into the new box, carefully wrapped it with a couple of my new shirts I didn't have room to pack, then added all the software I brought to install on my new machine. This bundle got packed into a duffled bag, which I then dropped off to be shipped. Where when they charged me TWELVE DOLLARS for a shipping box. TWELVE DOLLARS! These pack-and-ship places are a fracking RIP-OFF!! I mean, seriously... TWELVE DOLLARS for a cardboard box and some tape?!?
• Zero Zero. Knowing that I wanted to go back to the crêpe place that Sizzle and I ate at last night, I remembered that the best place to get a haircut in Seattle, Zero Zero, was nearby. As usual, the guy who cut my hair did a fantastic job. And at a fraction of the cost it would have been to stop at Gene Juarez where I used to go to get a decent haircut. SCORE!
• 611 Supreme. The Gruyere crêpe I had yesterday at 611 Supreme was so frickin' amazing that I wanted another for dinner tonight. It didn't disappoint. I only wish I would have had room for the Banana-Nutella dessert crêpe that Sizzle recommended. Next time.
• Bartell Drug. Back down to Westlake Center for some last-minute stuff to re-stock my travel needs: toiletries, allergy pills, headphones, snacks, batteries, Botan Ame Rice Candy... Bartell is one of those stores I love, because they always have exactly what I need.
And now here I am after a long day and a lot of walking.
But not nearly as long as tomorrow is going to be...
I apologize in advance.
I am typing this at 9:00am from Seattle, Washington, USA. I will be leaving for the airport in an hour.
I am typing this at 11:00am from Cologne, Germany. 26 hours later.
To me, this day didn't exist, and I never really know what to do about that. I blog every day, so something has to go here... but what? How do you write about something that didn't exist? Where did that day go?
Maybe it got lost... like my luggage.
To be completely honest, I did not want to take this trip. I am so tired of traveling as to be near-catatonic, and it would be nice to just like to stay home for a while. But it's important for my work that I be here, so here I am.
Though, now that I'm back in Cologne, I realize that it's a city I feel completely comfortable in. So much so that it's almost like being home. I'm staying at my regular hotel in my regular neighborhood. I know where everything is. I know how everything works. I have friends in the area. I understand German accented English fairly well, and speak just enough of the language (albeit poorly) to get by. The only difference between here and my actual home is the clowns.
For reasons that escape me, Germans love clowns (and David Hasselhoff, but that's another story... possibly related). And since the Köln Karnival is coming up, they're everywhere. You'll be walking around a corner and BLAM!!! There's one of those scary-ass freaky bastards staring at you from a shop window poster...
It's things like this that traumatize my already-fragile mind and will one day send me over the bend. I'll see a scary clown poster one minute, then be running down the street naked screaming "DIE BOZO, DIIIIIIIIIEEE!!!" the next.
Sadly, unlike last year's drunken blog entry, I am too early for Karnival this time. I'm assuming this means there will be no Giant Flaming Wheel of Meat or attacks by transgender viking warriors to blog about.
That's a bummer, but I really have no cause to complain. My flight was awesome despite it being nine hours long. I didn't have to sit by any dumbasses or screaming kids. The movies I rented for my iPhone were all fantastic. My hotel had a room ready for me even though I arrived four hours before check-in. It doesn't get much better than this.
The only bad bit of news was that my luggage didn't show up... assumably having missed my connecting flight in Amsterdam.
But after having a wonderful dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe with some fellow Hard Rock fans, I opened the door to my hotel room and there it was!
It's just like magic, and now I'm the happiest boy in the whole world!
Or at least in Cologne.
Given the clown density in this place, that's saying a lot.
I'm pretty exhausted, so this Bullet Sunday may or may not make sense.
In other words, it's the same as every other day here at Blogography.
• Approval. If you were reading my blog last year around this time, you might remember Disapproving Man. He lived in a window I passed every time I walk to or from my hotel here in Cologne. On my way to work... he's there. Back from work... he's there. Out to dinner... he's there. He's always there. Always looking at me with that disapproving smirk, mocking me...
Well now Disapproving Man has been replaced by Disapproving WOMAN! Just look at her! She has that exact same smirk on her face...
What a bastard she is! I don't know how I'm going to survive her glare of judgement first thing every morning!
• Psychotic. You may also remember that last year I got an official Kölner Karneval scarf. I wore it even though there was a clown on the thing because it made me look totally hot...
This year the scarf is even more terrifying. The clown isn't just scary, he's psychotic-scary. And not psychotic-scary in a good way either... it's more of a "I eat baby kittens and light things on fire" kind of pedophile psychotic-scary...
• Parenthood. Last Wednesday while I was at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport waiting for my suitcase to arrive, I saw a baby trailing along behind her mother with a bottle in one hand, struggling to keep up. The mother wasn't paying attention because she was busy talking on her mobile phone. The baby wasn't too steady on her feet, and as she tried to move faster and faster to catch up with her mom, she lost her balance and face-planted on the floor. The mother turned around when she heard her baby crying, walked back to where she was, reached down and jerked her up by her arm, snatched the bottle off the floor, then proceeded to scream at the poor thing with "I'M ON THE PHONE!!"
Throughout the entire ordeal the only time she stopped talking on her mobile was to yell at her kid.
I was about as angry as I've ever been, and felt like shouting "SHE'S JUST A BABY AND DOESN'T UNDERSTAND YOUR SCREAMING YOU STUPID BITCH! TRY PAYING ATTENTION TO YOUR KID SO SHE DOESN'T KILL HERSELF TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH YOUR IGNORANT ASS!!!" And then I would have bitch-slapped the fucking idiot so hard her lips would have flown off. Why have a child if you're so self-absorbed that you aren't going to pay attention to it, then punish it for something that's your fault? Seriously. Mother of the year.
Anyway, after work today I wanted pizza, so I walked down Hohe Straße to get a slice from a shop I like there. It's Sunday, so most everything is closed, but I thought I'd walk around a bit anyways just to see what's new.
Once I got to the Lego Store, I turned around to head back, and noticed a man with a small child heading towards me. The little guy was trudging along like a champ as the father pointed out things in the shop windows for him to look at along the way. The man was very patient, taking small steps so the child could walk at a comfortable pace, and holding his hand the entire time.
It was hard not to compare this to my experience at the airport earlier this week, and it brought a smile to my face knowing that there are still parents out there who give a shit...
It reminds me of a line that Keanu Reaves has in the movie Parenthood which goes something like this... "You need a license to buy a dog or drive a car. Hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But any asshole can be a parent." How true it is.
• Shitty. I'd just like to state for the record that the SwissCom wireless I'm paying ridiculous money for is sucking copious amounts of ass. The signal completely drops out every 5 to 10 minutes, which is really inconvenient while you're trying to coordinate work with your computer back home. If it were free, I wouldn't have much cause to complain, but it's something like 17 Euros a night, which is over $20 in US money. That's pretty heinous, even when the service is flawless, but the fact that it's complete shit is almost too much to bear.
And, on that note, I'm going to re-connect to the internet (AGAIN) so I can upload this nonsense and get to bed.
Tomorrow, there may be candy...
This entry will be trimmed down quite a bit from what I was originally planning. Partly because I have something I wrote earlier that I want to post (in an extended entry), partly because I was tied up with a lot more work than usual, but mostly because it's 1:30am and I have to get up early tomorrow for work.
So here I am in Cologne, home of the world's largest candy and biscuit (cookie) show. Though, since exhibitors are down 25% and attendees are down 30%, that's not quite as true as it once was. Hopefully the show will rebound as the economy improves (hah! fingers crossed), because it would be a shame to see it die off like so many trade shows have done in recent years.
If you're interested, here are my notes from 2005 and here are my notes from 2007 and here's my notes from 2008, but now it's 2009, and here are some of the cool things I saw...
MONKEYS! I usually find quite a few monkey-based candies at the show, but this year the only new one I found was a display model for some kind of chocolate association. It's a pretty good-looking monkey compared to the scarier monkeys I've seen in past years, and I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing?
STRIPPERS! Here's a way to FINALLY celebrate the TRUE meaning of Christmas... strippers! They could have just had babes standing around in sexy Santa costumes on this advent calendar, but they went the extra mile and included a stripper pole. Genius. And oh so symbolic... I mean, is that supposed to be the North Pole?
PIRATES! And now for something totally fantastic... FLASHING PIRATE POPS!! As if having a pirate-themed candy pop wasn't already cool enough, these sweet tributes to awesomeness also have flashing lights in them! I so totally want to buy a set. I couldn't find out where to locate a retailer, so if anybody ever finds them for sale, PLEASE let me know so I can get them!
BALLS! There are plenty of candies here that are simply called "BALLS!" but there's only one I've found that lives up to the name, and that's these little tennis balls candies. They're gum with a lemon liquid center of some kind. These are really well done, and the container they come in makes them look almost real... albeit at a much smaller scale.
POOH! Most of the time, the tiny plush giveaway toys that they put in candy boxes are pretty heinous. So imagine my surprise when I saw a tiny Winnie The Pooh plush that actually looked good! Sweet.
PEZ!!! Saving the best for last, I was amazed at the detailing that they managed to get in these super-awesome Star Wars PEZ dispensers. Frickin' sweet! PEZ dispensers not only perform the necessary and critical function of storing and dispensing PEZ candies, but they are total works of art as well. Equally amazing were the new toys made for the upcoming Monsters Vs. Aliens film Dreamworks is releasing...
PEZ may very well be the planet's most perfect creation. CANDY AND A TOY... TOGETHER!!! Genius.
PANDA!!! And what would the ISM show be without a bear attack? Last year I was almost killed when two ferocious bears were let loose to roam the show, this year I was very nearly mauled by a giant panda. Taken by surprise, I screamed "GAH! PANDA ATTACK!!! and threw a woman from a nearby booth in its path so I could escape with my life. Anybody who envies my traveling to exotic locations around the world and attending awesome candy shows would do well to remember this. My job isn't all fun-and-games... sometimes it's the most dangerous job on earth. I consider myself very lucky to have survived this long.
After I had survived another day and finished up with work, I walked to the train station so I could cross back over the river to "home." For the most part, I find Deutsch Bahn (German trains) to be timely, efficient, economical, relatively clean, and a good way to travel. So imagine my shock when I saw that some asshole had totally painted over my ride with silver paint! One of the best things about traveling by train is being able to look out the windows, but now that small pleasure would be taken from me...
WTF?!? If you're going to deface a train with graffiti, at least be respectful of the people who have to ride in it! And it's not even very interesting artwork! Plain silver? What kind of statement is that? Sad.
After dropping my work crap off at my hotel, it was time to head to my favorite place for eats in Cologne... POMMES DE LUXE!!!
They take thick-cut potatoes, fry them up until they're golden brown, then drench them in awesome toppings. Most people go for gravy, but I loves me the mayonnaise...
A delicious way to end my day before having to catch up with the work that's just waking up back in the real world.
And speaking of the real world...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Today was my busiest day at work, which was actually kind of nice because it blew by so quickly. Before I knew it, I was packing up my stuff and heading back "home" across the Rhine River. Tomorrow promises to be a fairly light day, so I'm hoping to be able to wander around the city a bit before it gets dark. I've been here many times, but never seem to get tired of exploring Cologne.
In what I can only describe as a life-defining moment, I got to meet OREO COOKIE MAN this morning!! Unlike so many celebrities you encounter, he is very cool in person, and was passing out various OREO products, which made him even more delicious. I wanted very much to give him a hug, but I was afraid he would break in half and spill his delicious cream filling everywhere...
Speaking of delicious, my daily pilgrimage to the Merzenich bakery was rewarded with the biggest Spritzringe donut I've ever seen. It was almost twice as tall as usual, which led me to dub it ÜBER-SPRITZRINGE!!! Just look at my precious...
I didn't know if I should eat it or tag it and release it back into the wild.
Screw Lord of The Rings, THIS is the one ring to rule them all...
In even more exciting news, I picked up another photo for my Fahrt Collection. This one is a word I don't remember seeing before...
In German, they run all their words together to make really long words. But my vocabulary is mostly forgotten, so it's kind of hard for me to break it down and translate it to mean anything. I know Zug is Train and Fahrt is Journey. I'm pretty sure that Durch is Through... as in "durch die nacht" meaning "through the night." That would make this "Train Journey Through!" which doesn't make much sense. I'm guessing it's more likely meaning "next train doesn't stop" (this train passes through). Or perhaps it's like a catch-phrase meaning "You should travel by train!" (journey through trains).
Good thing my life doesn't depend on knowing what that sign means.
OR DOES IT?
Good thing my ride was on the opposite track.
Today I knew that my work would be finished around 1:00, so I made a promise to myself that I'd get out into the city and see something new instead of whine about how tired I am and watch television in my hotel room. Cologne has a wealth of things to see and do, and I've barely scratched the surface the past eight times I've been here. Besides, the weather forecast called for sunny skies, so why not take advantage of it?
Except the weather forecast totally lied. It was hazy, cold, overcast, snowing, then raining. This made me all "meh" about trudging out into the city, so I decided to just grab a bite to eat and watch television like I always do on my last day. But then I got mad at myself for once again blowing an opportunity to do something different, and forced myself to go out. There's a former Gestapo Prison and Processing Station that's been turned into a museum (NS Dokumentationszentrum), and I've never gotten around to visiting it. I usually put it off because I was told it had very little English, and you really need to read German to get the most out of the extensive Nazi documentation that's on display. Oh well, it's something to do. When I approached the site, I was kind of disappointed. For a Gestapo prison, it's a fairly unassuming building...
The cost to get in is 3.60€ and, for another 2.00€, you get an audio digiplayer which will explain parts of the displays in English.
It gets scary right away as you descend into the basement where the tiny Gestapo prison cells are at. The audio guide explained that the cells were only supposed to hold one or two people, but held up to ten times that amount as the war progressed. How 30 people managed to exist in a mere closet is beyond one's ability to fathom...
Inside the cells the walls had been covered with writing by the prisoners, which they put there with pencils, sticks, lipstick, and even fingernails. Excerpts have been photographed and put on display, which is both heartbreaking and fascinating. Sometimes the prisoners would record their name and the date they were captured. They'd then add a new date each day, until the dates eventually stopped... meaning they had been transfered or, more likely, killed...
Once you head up to the first floor, the museum begins. The entire collection is a giant timeline which charts Germany's path into the Nazi regime and World War II...
That alone would make for an engrossing experience, but where the museum steps it up to the next level is how it puts a face on the victims. As the Nazis rose to power, society started to change. First "undesirables" were singled out. This included anybody not fitting the Nazi ideal of human perfection including the mentally deficient, prostitutes, homosexuals, so-called "lesser races," Jews, and anybody else who didn't measure up to their lofty standards. At first it was discrimination. Then it was segregation. Then it was loss of rights. Then it was detainment. Then it was imprisonment. Then it was extermination. It was a slippery slope that was systematically escalated with a growing frenzy of propaganda.
One of the examples they provided was a man who was accused of being gay. Apparently Cologne had a thriving gay underground back then, and suspected homosexuals were closely monitored. Since this man was married, there's no way of knowing if he were really gay, or somebody just accused him of being gay, but his entire life after being tagged is laid out in the documents which ultimately spelled his fate...
Here is where it would be really helpful to read German, but the audio guide explained that the man in question was detained three times before finally being send off to a concentration camp where he died...
The next room is dedicated to Romani (labeled as Gypsies), who were ruthlessly persecuted by the Nazis. Family members are displayed on panels along with the documentation that was collected during their detainment...
All the documents would seem like an unreal abstraction if not for the faces attached to them. Some of the faces are hard to forget, like this little boy, whose entire family was rounded up and put into a camp. He looks so... normal... just a kid who was probably playing with his toys or goofing off with his siblings when he was abducted. It's hard not to look at the worry on his face and try to image what he was going through. Which, I suppose is the entire point of the museum...
From the Romani you move on to a room for the Jews. As anybody who has even a rudimentary knowledge of World War II already knows, it was the Jews who were the biggest scapegoat for the Nazis as they sought blame for society's problems. In the years leading up to the war, they were continuously ridiculed and persecuted until ultimately their lives were deemed worthless, their existence unacceptable. Once identified as Jewish, a yellow star was sewn to your coat and your fate was sealed...
The museum also goes on to show how Germans who were opposed to the Nazi party were likewise persecuted and detained, then uses documents like food ration tickets and historic photos to provide a glimpse of what life was like for every-day Germans under Nazi rule...
On the second floor the exhibits continue, culminating in a temporary collection that changes from time to time. During my visit, it was a display of art inspired by The Holocaust, including pieces which were created by school children...
The NS Dokumentationszentrum is an utterly fascinating museum, and I highly recommend it. Two-and-a-half hours just blew by in no time at all, and I would have stayed longer if the building hadn't closed at 4:00pm (plan an early visit!).
I hadn't been inside The Dom (cathedral) in a while, so I bounced in before dinner. I don't care how many times I see it, the place always manages to take my breath away...
In reality, the interior of the cathedral is pretty dark and depressing. But seen through a camera with the ISO cranked up, it's stunning.
After pizza dinner followed by potatoes and mayo for dessert, I wandered through shops on touristy Hohe Straße until it started getting dark. Dusk is my favorite time in Cologne, because everything takes on a new life at night. For the photographer, it's magic...
And thus ends my last day in Cologne.
How stupid would it have been to have missed all this because I stayed in my hotel room watching television?
A lesson to live by, I suppose.
My flight into Munich was delayed a half hour, which was a problem since my layover there was only 40 minutes. Fortunately, I was in the front of the plane and could sprint to the gate, where I was shocked to see a couple hundred people boarding my flight to Mallorca. Since this is the off-season I was expecting a tiny commuter flight, but instead got a large plane which was filled to capacity. It made no sense to me until we landed, at which time I saw dozens upon dozens of Air Berlin planes on the ground. Apparently, this is a major hub for the airline, and only a tiny fraction of the people onboard had Palma de Mallorca as their final destination.
The reason I'm in the city is to visit the new Hard Rock Cafe that opened up here a short while ago. It's a fairly nice property with a primo location along the Paseo Maritimo, which is a long walkway along the harbor...
What sets this Hard Rock apart from the norm is the massive deck out front, which spans three levels and can seat three hundred people. In the summer when all the umbrellas are open, I doubt you could even see the cafe...
I knew the cathedral would be closed by the time I got there, but wanted to visit anyway so I could take some photos. It's supposed to rain tomorrow, and I wanted to be sure I'd have some nice shots of it. Unfortunately, it's not easy to get any nice shots, because the structure is massively huge and in a confined space. There's simply no way of getting enough distance to fit it in the camera (and I've got a fairly wide lens to work with)...
About the best you can do I shoot it from the side, which isn't as interesting as the front, but at least you can fit it in the frame...
The detail in the structure is amazing, and I'd imagine you could easily spend half your day studying all the carvings that grace the exterior...
Since I had about an hour before it started getting dark, I decided to explore some of the twisty little roads that branch off into the city. How people drive on streets barely wider than their car is beyond me, but there are cars zipping around everywhere, so the locals apparently manage it just fine...
If you look up, you're treated to some amazing artwork on the buildings. But the streets are so narrow that the only way you could really see it would be to look out a neighboring building. Somehow I doubt the locals would appreciate me knocking on doors and asking if I can look out their windows, so I just did the best I could by flattening myself against walls and ducking into doorways...
Since I'm in Spain, I decided to have dinner at a tapas bar, but stopped at McDonalds for something to drink. The advertising campaign here seems to center around their burgers being made from 100% cow, which has me wondering how the others burgers here are made...
And thus ends my first day in beautiful Palma...
Tomorrow will be spent running myself ragged playing tourist. I can hardly wait.
With only one day to see the city, I had made a checklist of all the stuff I wanted to visit in Palma. Most of the places were churches... starting with the main cathedral which had closed before I could visit yesterday. To see everything on my list was going to be quite a challenge, made even more difficult because torrential rains were forecast in the afternoon. I'm not bothered by rain, but it does make taking photos more difficult.
Nothing opens until 10:00, so I left my hotel at 9:00 in order to make my way into the city and have time for breakfast. McDonalds here wasn't open and doesn't serve breakfast, so I walked around the corner for pastry and a Coke. Then I was off to the cathedral...
The interior was glorious, as expected, even though the primary altar was undergoing repairs...
Across the street is an art museum which had an exhibit of highly-detailed dioramas, like this one showing the birth of Jesus in the upper left...
But it's the lower right corner which was the most interesting part. Apparently, just outside the manger, there was a drunk guy and his bad monkey present for the birth of Christ. You learn something new every day...
From there I wandered around Palma Central, visiting five additional churches. Each was unique and interesting in their own right, even though the basic idea was the same. One church had live organ music. Another had a tour guide. Still another had a bunch of nuns chanting in prayer. All of them had impressive altars...
The Madonna and Child is one of my most favorite subjects in art (my own Davetoon version is here). In one of the churches I visited, I found a statue which has to be one of the most beautiful renditions I've ever seen. Mary's face is so life-like that I kept expecting her to breathe...
I eventually worked my way West, hitting such tourist sites as Las Ramblas before the rain came pouring down. After waiting out the flood in my hotel room, I headed back out for a late lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe and to find the final item on my checklist: the Forn des Teatre building, which is kind of famous. I wandered around for an hour, and eventually gave up. Tired of walking, I decided to take a taxi back to my hotel. As an afterthought, I showed my driver a photo of Forn des Teatre and asked if he could take me to it on the way back.
Turns out it was exactly one block down the street from the cafe where I ate breakfast...
After another round of tapas for dinner, I took one last look at the cathedral from the marina...
And thus ends my day in beautiful Palma de Mallorca.
At first I had typed "So here I am back home again..." only to remember that Cologne is not my home. I'm here for just one night so I can get packed up and fly back to my "real" home in the morning. While it will be nice to sleep in my own bed again, I am not looking forward to the 14 hours of travel I've got to endure to get there. Wah.
As I arrived at the main train station here, I overheard a young couple pouring over a train schedule saying "That's the Dusseldorf airport, we want Cologne!" In general, I tend to avoid tourists unless they are in some serious trouble, because it's been my experience that you just get screwed for trying to help out. But I was in a good mood, so I walked up to them and said "If you're wanting to get to the Cologne Airport, your best bet is to take the S13, and you can catch it right up there every 20 minutes or so." They turned and looked at me like I was from outer space before the girl said "But that's not on the schedule!" Trying to remain helpful, I replied "You're looking at a schedule for regional trains. The schedule for the local trains has a giant "S" printed on it. If you walk up to the next board, there should be an S-Bahn schedule there." Still more blank stares until the guy says "I think we'll just wait for a regular train." I had no idea what he had against local trains, and didn't want to start a debate over the subject, so I just said "Okay then, good luck!" and wandered off.
Will I ever learn?
My hotel is just two blocks from the train station, which is kind of a bummer because I've always wanted to experience McClean...
It's the "safe and clean toilets" alternative to the toxic waste assault chambers you'd usually find at a train station. And all at a bargain price of 1 Euro per flush!
As expected, Disapproving Woman was waiting for me...
But what I didn't notice until today was that she's not alone...
OMG! IT'S GEORGE CLOONEY!! Far from being disapproving, he actually seems happy to see me...
After my last cone of potatoes with mayo (= sob! =) and a Spritzringe donut, I decided to catch up on email and FaceBook. Surprisingly, FaceBook still thinks I'm in Spain...
Aw, they get all the sexy ads! Just look at how they sell their ice cream...
At least I think they're selling ice cream. This could be an ad for condoms.
And on that note, it's time for me to pack my suitcase and try to get some sleep.
When is somebody going to invent the Star Trek transporter in real life?
This probably won't get posted until Monday given that I'm traveling all day, but oh well.
• Clueless. One of the comments I got when I had blogged about being in Mallorca and mentioned it had rained for a few hours that afternoon went something like this: "HA HA HA HA HOPE YOUR ENJOYING GETTIN DRUNCHED WITH RAIN IN SPAIN HA HA HA HA!" When stuff like this happens, I never know exactly how to interpret it, so I just delete the comment and that's the end of it. Except this time the person kept coming back again and again to leave the same comment, which I kept deleting. Finally I got an email from him saying "I think your comments are broken because mine aren't showing up." Uh huh. How do you email a clue?
• Comforted. For domestic flights, I usually get upgraded to First Class because I fly a lot and am special like that. But they don't upgrade you on international flights, which is where you'd most want to be upgraded because they're so darn long. Ten hours in a tiny seat squished next to another tiny seat is just not fun. Which brings me to my question of the day... exactly how small and unbearable can they make coach seats before they just end up strapping you to a milk crate? After an hour, you're hurting. After ten, you're praying for death. The seats are unbelievable uncomfortable, and should be banned under the Geneva Convention as a device of torture. I would gladly pay $100 extra to have even a small amount of personal space and a decent place to sit. Where is the airline that services the "PLEASE GOD LET THE HORROR OF AIRPLANE TRAVE END!" market?
• Robbed. On the plane-ride back to The States, one of the many movies playing in the entertainment system was The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. This is one of those polarizing films that you either love because it's so beautifully crafted and touching... or hate because it could be considered exploitative and simplistic. I love the film, and watched it again even though I had already seen it twice. Once it was over, I wondered for the thousandth time why the two lead actors, Asa Butterfield as Bruno and Jack Scanlon as Shmuel, were overlooked at the Oscars. Was it because they were kids? I dunno. Because, in all honesty, they easily had the two most powerful performances I've seen in a film all year. The movie was also one of the most beautifully shot, but it wasn't nominated for Best Cinematography either. Typical...
• Analog. Sorry, but Obama is getting off to a pretty shitty start with me. After our government has already delayed the transition from analog to digital television broadcasting for YEARS, we finally got a four-year deadline of February 17th, 2009 so all the feet-dragging citizens would have an incentive to join the 20th century. But then, thanks to Obama begging Congress to extend the deadline, it's been extended. I am so sick of this stupid shit. Like what... now they're going to set a NEW deadline saying "this time we really mean it" and expect people to take it seriously? Procrastinators are just going to keep ignoring the transition until they're televisions stop working. And that's what it's going to take... whether it's in one week or one year. SO MAKE THEIR FUCKING TELEVISIONS STOP WORKING! These delays are costing us millions and won't make any difference. If this "delay until it goes away" bullshit is indicative of how Obama is going to handle the infinitely more serious problems the USA is facing, we're all fucked. Politics as usual, I see.
And now I wait for my final connecting flight home.
So I'm back home. Yippee.
I was going to write up a long, drawn-out entry about how Bad Robert's "poop cycle" theory may have turned out to be reality, but then I decided discussing poop on a Monday just shouldn't be done. Instead, I realized that all my goals for 2008 were achieved, so now I can die a complete success!
My New Years Resolutions for 2009...
With this rousing success in mind, I think I've earned an early night to bed.
Where I will undoubtedly stare at the ceiling for the next six hours.
I have been having serious digestive problems since returning from Europe. Everything I eat seems to make me sick. I'm hoping this problem sorts itself out soon, because it's making it really tough to get through my work day.
Speaking of work, today is rather jam-packed, so I've decided to sponge off the "Ten Honest Things About You" meme that's been going around. Because if Iron Fist can be convinced to do it, what chance do I have of resisting? I mean, seriously, the guy doesn't have an "About Me" page, and his "Contact Me" page is permanently under construction... getting him to reveal anything online is paramount to a miracle!
Away we go...
Time for another swig of Pepto Bismol...
If that can't cure me... what can?
At what point did it become okay to talk with your mouth full?
I'm really curious about this, because while I was eating at Denny's this evening I nearly went on a homicidal rampage. I was seated behind a 50-year-old guy on a first date who nearly died in a coughing fit every ten minutes. I was seated ahead of some 25-year-old moron trying to entertain his 100-year-old great-grandmother by talking about his latest World or Warcraft adventure. And I was seated across from some rude piece of shit 75-year-old guy whose was yelling into his mobile phone every 15 minutes.
Entire generations from age 25 to 100 were represented, and yet it didn't make any difference. I think every one of them were chewing and talking with their mouths wide open and full of food. Especially the guy across from me, who was talking with his mouth full while he was shouting into his mobile phone! I can't imagine how disgusting it was to be on the other end of that phone call.
When I was little, I was taught not to talk with my mouth full and to keep my mouth closed while chewing. Anything less was considered bad manners. So did I miss something here? Did the rules of good manners change? Were my parents way off base? Or do I need to release another book...
It's as if society is in total meltdown, and common courtesy, respect, decency, and manners no longer apply.
What's next? How much worse can it get? I'm guessing eventually you'll be eating you meal at Denny's and somebody is going to come up, drop their pants, then rip a fart on your dinner plate because they just don't care.
And maybe that's the root cause of everything. The world is crumbling around us, and people just don't care anymore.
I can't say that I really blame them.
After finding out that the executive salary cap was removed from the stimulus bill, I'm to the point where I just don't care anymore either. President Obama got into office on a promise of CHANGE, and NOTHING HAS FUCKING CHANGED! We the American people are still getting gang-raped by politicians who are catering to the wealthy at our expense, just like we have been for the past eight years under President Bush. God forbid some dumb-fuck bank executive who ran their business into the ground should have their salary capped at $400,000 just because they need the government to bail out their worthless asses. Which basically means that Wall Street fucktards will continue to get billions of dollars worth of salary increases and bonuses for being complete failures. Suddenly, all those tax increases for the rich don't matter, because we're giving the money right back to them!
Clearly, I took the wrong career path. If I were a complete failure at my job, I'D BE FUCKING FIRED!!
I had no illusions that Obama was going to get into office and everything was going to magically change for the better... but I did expect he would stand firm on this kind of bullshit. It's a matter of principle. Bush fucked us over by giving tax breaks and incentives to oil companies making billions in profits. Obama has now fucked us over by giving billions to corporate executives operating at a loss. Call me naive, but if I must be fucked over, I'd rather it be from rewarding success than rewarding failure.
I'm sure Obama's people will come out blaming the Republicans... telling us that they wouldn't pass the stimulus bill unless the salary caps were removed. It may even be true. BUT I DON'T FUCKING CARE!! I don't care if the entire country goes down in flames and our economy collapses into ruins. I don't care if life as we know it comes to an end. I don't care if civilizations die and mankind spirals to extinction. I DON'T FUCKING CARE!! I don't care because at least we'd go out WITH OUR FUCKING PRINCIPLES INTACT!!
President Obama should have stood firm on the salary pay caps, regardless of the consequences. If executives at failing economic institutions decided not to accept government funds because they feel they deserve more than $400,000 in salary, then so be it. Let the assholes fail and take everybody else with them. The country may collapse, but at least I could hold my head high while watching it burn.
As it is now, I guess I'll just start talking with my mouth full and farting on people's dinner. After watching Obama drop his principles to take from the poor and give to the rich (whose bad decisions are responsible for making us poor in the first place), I just don't care.
It's a change I can believe in.
Whenever I find a free moment, usually at the end of the day, I grab my laptop to bang out the day's entry. In good moods or bad, I press that "publish" button and to hell with the consequences.
Except last night. For the first time I can remember, I decided to "sleep on it" before publishing something in my blog. I was outraged to the point of meltdown when I had read that the salary cap for executives taking government bailout money had been cut out of the stimulus package, and wrote about it. Hard.
There's plenty of stupid shit in the "stimulus package" that I don't agree with but, given the terrible shape we're in, I just decided to eat it and trust that doing something crazy was better than doing nothing. Maybe if the package itself didn't work, it might at least spur consumer confidence and get us turned around from this mess we're in. And, despite having reservations about the bailout, I was at least warmed by the salary caps. Even with all the bullshit stuffed in with the billions, somebody was finally putting their foot down and saying "enough with public money going to reward these stupid assholes who are already overpaid." It was a start.
But then the news popped up while I was blogging about the salary caps being axed and I came unglued. One of the few things I 100% approved of in the whole damn stimulus fiasco was apparently gone, and the rage descended. But I only had one source, The Huffington Post writing on a story from The Washington Post, so I decided to sleep on it.
But I was unable to sleep and, at 3:30am, decided to push the button and publish the entry. If the information was wrong, then whatever, I could publish a retraction and apologize for my outburst later. Because if the information was correct, I wouldn't be able to forgive myself for having not said anything. Since 1.6 BILLION FUCKING DOLLARS of the first stimulus package was spent on "executive compensation," I was just too angry to let it slide.
Then I went to sleep for a few hours.
This morning I was still furious, but felt better after reading a nice entry by Mooselet with an update on Sam, the koala who was injured in the Victorian bushfires in Australia. Apparently she's still in pain, but doing well and expected to make a full recovery. She's even got herself a boyfriend named Bob, another survivor from the fires. How can you stay mad when you see a photo like this...
Mooselet also mentioned that The Herald Sun is now selling copies of that famous photo where CFA David Tree is sharing his water bottle with Sam the day she was rescued...
Including delivery to the States, the photo costs just $18.65 (in US dollars, $28.18 in AUS dollars), and all proceeds go towards helping victims of the fires... human and animal alike. You can order your copy directly from The Herald Sun Shop.
It was one piece of good news I had before learning that there were no survivors in the Buffalo plane crash last night.
I could use some good news, and ordered the photo to remind me that it still exists.
Apparently, It's Valentine's Day.
And so here's this year's card...
Except I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day, so I revised it to be a bit more indicative of my feelings...
Click here for a look at past Blogography Valentine's Day cards.
At long last... Bullet Sunday at home. Imagine that!
&bull Dolly. Okay, I just have to get this out of the way... if the first issue of Joss Whedon's new series is any indication as to what we're in for... Dollhouse is going to suck total ass. This pains me greatly, because I have been looking forward to a new Whedon series forever. After Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and the amazing Firefly, he teased us with Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, which was sheer genius. It was as if he could not fail. But then along comes Dollhouse, which has to be one of the most boring hours of television I've ever suffered through. Eliza Dushku stars as lead "doll" Echo who had her mind wiped so she could be programmed with different personalities and training, which she then uses to undertake missions for a mysterious company. Now the premise... a hot girl who can become anybody to do a job... had definite possibilities. The reality? Boring. Boring. Boring. The most exciting action in the entire episode was when Dushku's character had an asthma attack. What the hell? I was wishing I had a Dollhouse mind-wipe half-way through the show. Things had better improve a lot in the next installment. Eliza is hot, but not hot enough to keep me watching a shitty, boring TV show...
• Snowy. It's been snowing all day. I am really, really tired of snow.
• Poopy. While I was in Mallorca, I saw this confusing sign...
I can't decide if he's waiting for something to come OUT of the dog so he can clean it up... or if he's going to put something UP the dog. Like a bottle of Goldschläger...
Poor doggie. That's just wrong.
• Snowy. It's been snowing all day. Have I mentioned that I am really, really tired of snow?
Now, for some inexplicable reason, I'm really tired (that almost never happens!) so I think I'll turn in early for bed.
I have been hit with fatigue, headache, fever, intestinal distress, stomach pain, sore throat, chills, and all-over body aches. After plugging that into WebMD, it appears I have Lyme Disease. Except I haven't been bitten, so I'm guessing it's a stomach flu of some kind. Yay! If I'm lucky, it'll be a temporary thing and I'll be better tomorrow. At least I hope so.
In the meanwhile, I'll be dropping off the face of the earth. Or, at least the face of the interwebs, while I die for a bit...
I'm just so lucky.
I have come to the conclusion that the greatest thing since pre-sliced bread is pre-shredded cheese.I've heard a lot of people using a lot of things to try and trump sliced bread as far as great inventions go... but not one of them measures up to the awesomeness of pre-shreded cheese. Especially when you find yourself making tacos at home. Last night I was was feeling awful. So this morning's conversation with myself went something like this...
DAVE: wah! i feel terrible.
DAVE: No you don't!
DAVE: yes i do. see... i just said so on twitter.
DAVE: No, you really don't! Does your throat hurt?
DAVE: Do your intestines feel like they're going to climb out of your throat and strangle you?
DAVE: Are you feeling hot?
DAVE: Errr... I mean feverish.
DAVE: Headache? Chills? Stomach pain? Runny nose? Cough?
DAVE: no. no. no. no. no.
DAVE: Then you're fine!
DAVE: no i'm not. i feel terrible.
DAVE: That's because you took three Benadryl, a Unisom, and a couple Excedrin PM so you could fall asleep. You're not sick... you're just groggy and drugged. Now get up and get to work!
DAVE: okay. i'm going.
And I've regretted it ever since.
I felt more terrible being not-sick today than I've ever felt being for-reals-sick in the past. Now I think I'm actually getting for-reals-sick.
All because I listened to my body and went to work instead of just staying in bed.
I should have known better. It's not like I'm a doctor or anything.
For I have become Death, destroyer of blogs.
The situation here is quite dire. I feel absolutely-kill-me-now horrible, and appear to be getting worse with each passing minute. On top of everything else (searing pain, crippling headaches, cough, runny nose, and heartburn), my right eye has suddenly decided to swell up. Not a fun time to be Dave.
I'd try and blog, but all I'd have to talk about was how miserable I am, so I think it's best that I don't.
Instead, I'm going to take a handful of pills, climb into bed, then die for 6 or 7 hours (hopefully)...
Ummm... yeah... probably not much of blog entry today. I am one hot mess right over here, and spend most of my time in a drug-induced coma. I started to draw a new DaveToon showing Armageddon and the End of Days happening because ignorant publicity whore Ann Coulter actually made a statement I partially agree with (the Stimulus Package rewards failure), but I can only see out of one eye, which makes drawing difficult.
Agreeing even sightly with Ann Coulter has me terrified that my sickness is far worse than I imagined. I'm guessing I have some kind of brain virus or something. Or maybe I'm okay and she's the one with the brain virus. This is highly unlikely, however, given that I've already determined that she's brain dead...
One thing I did do today was make myself into a comic book super-hero, because I could manage it with only one eye...
You can make your own hero here.
And now I feel another coma coming on...
Being sick is just time off work you can't enjoy.
Except I ended up going to work for a couple hours this morning to get caught up on a few things. This was a huge mistake, because the effort of working those two hours ruined me for the rest of the day. Any progress I made in getting better was wiped away, leaving me an exhausted husk who was barely able to climb into bed once I got back home.
Tomorrow I get to make the same mistake, hopefully while feeling better than today. Otherwise, on Monday I get to pay a visit to the doctor. Hopefully for mass coma-inducing drugs.
Which I think we can all agree is the best part of going to the doctor...
After reading a nifty story about two guys getting to meet Shaquille O'Neal because of Twitter, I was reminded of my own encounter with Shaq, and had to Google my blog to see if I had written about it yet. Google says "did not match any documents" so I guess not.
Back in the 1990's, Planet Hollywood wasn't satisfied with over-saturating the market with their own eateries, so they developed another chain to dilute their customer base even further... The Official All-Star Cafe. It was the sports-themed alternative to the movie-themed Planet Hollywood and the music-themed Hard Rock Cafe that was endorsed by Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana, Ken Griffey Jr., Andre Agassi, Monica Seles, and (you guessed it) Shaquille O'Neal.
While working in New York sometime in 1995 or 96, I noticed an All-Star Cafe had opened in Times Square and decided to check it out. I'm kind of a theme-restaurant whore, and wanted to see what a 13 million dollar cafe looked like. Unfortunately, there was a long line of kids waiting to get it, so I decided to just sneak a look at the merchandise shop and eat lunch somewhere else. But once I got inside, I noticed almost all of the tables were empty. There were more kids lined up inside, but nobody appeared to be eating. I asked the hostess how long the wait was, and was immediately seated at a tiny two-seater table next to a stage of some kind. My veggie burger and Coke arrived almost instantly, which was nice, but I was uncomfortable eating it because the line of obnoxious kids was just six feet away watching my every move.
And then the room exploded.
I had just taken a bite and still had my burger to my mouth when a commotion started up behind me. Before I could even turn around and see what was going on, my chair was bumped into... hard. I was pushed into the table and my burger was knocked out of my hands. All the while, kids were going nuts around me.
That's when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked up to see a GIANT MAN saying "Sorry about that. You okay, man?"
After I nodded to him in the affirmative, I felt him give my shoulder a squeeze, then watched as Shaquille O'Neal went out the door... awash in screaming kids who were holding up basketballs to be autographed.
I had just been Shaqed!
The two things I took away from the experience were this. 1) Shaq is huge. Massively huge. However big you think he is, take that number and double it. 2) Shaq has good manners. Even though he was being mobbed, he took time to apologize for having bumped into me when it wasn't even his fault... he was just trying to get through the crowd.
Not much of a story, really. But considering I spent most of my time sick in bed, I suppose it's better than telling you about my day.
This morning I awoke feeling like the usual bucket of crap. I slowly managed to get through my morning routine so I could shuffle off to work, then opened the door to... snow. Lots of snow. Huge golf-ball-sized flakes of snow falling so thick I could barely see across the street. This took me completely by surprise, because the sun had been making regular appearances on previous days.
Argh. The weather had gotten better. Then it got much worse.
Which pretty much sums up my health. An hour into work I was feeling better than I had in days, and was thrilled at the prospect of getting 8 hours of work done. Alas, it was not to last, as I came crashing down around 1:00, ultimately feeling much worse than I had when the day started.
Now, here I am at 6:30 banging on death's door once again, wanting nothing more than to sleep the misery away. It's probably time to consult a doctor, so now I've got that hanging over my head as well. Meanwhile the email piles higher and higher... I get further and further behind... and life continues to pass me by. Woe. Woe Woe.
For some reason I though whining about it all would make me feel better.
The wonderful world of over-the-counter medication is a magical place.
As you might have guessed from my past week of blogging, I'm a total baby when it comes to being sick, so I tend to spend a lot of my time inventing new and creative ways of using over-the-counter medication to make my life suck less when I get ill. Mostly by mixing and matching various drugs until I find a happy combination that puts me in a mental state where I don't mind so much that my nose is leaking all over the place.
Finding the right mix of pills is a daunting task. Screw up too much, and you get to take a trip to the hospital. Don't screw up enough, and you end up aware that you're sick.
Most of my time is spent negotiating with medicine packaging as to the proper dosage because, well, you just know that they're low-balling it...
The rest of my time is spent figuring out which pills go good together, and which pills will have a battle-to-the-death in your stomach. Initially, I figured things out by trial-and-error. Eventually I figured out that it's actually the COLOR of the pills that determines how your body will react. Red pills, for example, seem to go good with any other color. Green pills should never be mixed with pink pills. Blue pills should only be mixed with yellow pills if you want to end up psychotic for a few hours. White pills are just fooling themselves.
Right now I will be taking two giant blue pills, two circle red pills, two small blue pills, and one green pill, followed by a handful of M&M's candies in assorted colors. I'm hoping at least one of those will help me get some sleep tonight.
How do scientists figure out how chemicals affect the body? Surely it can't be an accident. As in "Hey, I accidentally sprinkled Dextromethorphan on my corn flakes this morning, and my cough went away!" or "I accidentally snorted some Phenylephrine last night, and my nasal congestion cleared up!" Maybe they're just good guessers, as in "I needed an antihistamine, and something told me that Doxylamine Succinate would do the trick!" Or maybe scientists are just playing tricks on each other all the time and sometimes they get lucky, as in "I spiked his coffee with some Guaifenesin as a goof, and it broke up his chest congestion... who knew?"
Of course, sometimes it probably doesn't go as planned, as in "I laced his chocolate pudding with Strychnine on a dare... it's not like I meant to kill him or anything."
I am entirely too bored laying in bed all day, obviously.
Where to begin with Lisa.
Lisa and I got off to a rocky start. She had been dropping by Blogography with witty comments for a while, so I added her blog to my feed reader and started following her writings at Clusterfook. After a while of back-and-forth we had arrived at one of those "blogger friendships" that seems to develop with people you know online but don't really know at all. We'd email from time to time, but it was all superficial niceties that precluded any real personal connection.
All that changed after I had been traveling for a couple days and finally had a chance to catch up with blogs. Lisa had written a frustrated rant about how she gets tons of comments when she blogs about stupid crap, but when she writes asking for help raising money for cancer research, there was nothing. She then went on to say some harsh words to her readers about "not caring about cancer" and pondering why she even bothered to try and make a difference. At first I was confused, until I read her previous entry asking for sponsorship in a cancer-walk. Then I was angry, because not only was I not given a chance to offer support before she lashed out, but because I have a sister who had just had cancer surgery for a second time. I left a comment basically saying "GIVE PEOPLE A CHANCE, IT'S ONLY BEEN ONE DAY!" and "HOW DARE YOU TELL ME I DON'T CARE ABOUT CANCER!"
I expected that would be the last I heard from Lisa.
But I was wrong.
She wrote to me and apologized. And she insisted on sending my sister one of the bracelets she sells to raise money for cancer research. It was all very surreal and unexpected, because that's just not the way that superficial online relationships usually work.
But this was Lisa.
She had survived cancer three times and knew that life was just too short for this kind of crap.
And then, just as we were getting to be much better friends, the bomb was dropped. Lisa had cancer again. Lisa was fighting for her life again.
We finally met in person a month later at TequilaCon 2008 in Philadelphia. Lisa arrived way early with her husband, "Dude," to help claim space at the bowling alley for the event, but I had already slammed two shots and was working on a beer by then (social functions are much easier for me once I've got some alcohol in me). After introducing herself and Dude then saying "hi" to everybody, Lisa cried "DAVE!!" and ran up to give me a big hug.
She then announced that she "has to get a picture of this important moment" and handed her camera to Dude. "It can't be too important if I'm drunk" I tell her...
"Oh they're all important" she replied.
I don't know what I could possibly add to that. Except that I will miss her.
My thoughts are with Lisa's husband, daughters, friends, and family today. Your every moment with Lisa was important to her.
Ever since I got over being sick, I've spent every waking minute getting caught up on work. Because of that, I don't have much for Bullet Sunday except some stuff I saw while I was confined to bed this past week...
• Guy. Just when you think that The Family Guy isn't very funny anymore, they have Peter's obscenely wealthy father-in-law invite Bill Gates to a party...
"Hey Bill, would you help me program my Zune? Oh... wait... I have an iPod, LIKE THE REST OF THE WORLD!"
BWAH HA HA HAAAA! It's so funny because it's true!
• Mode. In preparation for the imminent release of Depeche Mode's new album Sounds of the Universe on April 21st, I've been watching all the production videos posted at their website. In one of them, I was pleasantly surprised to see a NO ON PROP 8 sign in the background...
I guess when Depeche Mode sings "People Are People" it's more than just words in a song to them...
So we're different colours and were different creeds,
And different people have different needs.
It's obvious you hate me though I've done nothing wrong,
I've never even met you so what could I have done?
I can't understand what makes a man hate another man,
Help me understand.
People are people so why should it be,
You and I should get along so awfully?
• Mode2. In other DM news, the disturbing video for the first single, Wrong, has been released. Since MTV doesn't play music videos anymore, here it is...
• Shop. As if it wasn't enough that Depeche Mode has a new album coming out, The Pet Shop Boys are also releasing a new album, Yes, on March 23rd. A very cool video for their first single, Love, Etc., has also been released...
And, in case you missed their awesome appearance at The Brit Awards with a guest appearance by Brandon Flowers from The Killers, here's that as well...
I have no idea what Chris was thinking with that stupid pink wig, but the performance was brilliant.
• Dollies. Three episodes in, and I am still not much of a fan of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse. It's surprisingly boring. About the only thing that will have me tuning in again next week is the final 15 seconds of the show, which was kind of a WTF? moment. Everything else? Boring. Or infuriating. Mostly because there's one character on the show who drives me bat-shit insane... the tech guy "Topher"...
I think what Joss was going for was a character like "Xander" from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. He was kind of geeky-nerdy, but in an entertaining and lovable way that complimented the rest of the cast. Overall a great addition to the show...
But instead what we got was a retread of "Marshall" from Alias. A "genius" who somehow manages to be a complete fucking dumbass at the same time. He acts stupid. He talks stupid. He's a whiny annoyance whose only benefit on the show is to give you somebody to want dead...
As if that tired cliche wasn't bad enough, Whedon recycled Agent Fox Mulder from the X-Files to create Agent Paul Ballard. In order to make the character sympathetic to the audience, Ballard is a brilliant lone wolf whose obsession with the Dollhouse makes him an object of ridicule by other FBI agents. But here's the problem... the audience already knows Ballard is right and the Dollhouse exists, so the humiliation of the character is pointless. It doesn't make the character any more sympathetic, it makes the FBI out to be an agency of total morons. Ballard is obviously very good at his job, so where are the agents saying "Hey, Paul, any luck tracking down this Dollhouse thing? Anything I can do to help?" Too logical, I guess. In interviews, Tahmoh Penikett says it takes 5 or 6 episodes for the show to find its footing... I hope the show isn't cancelled before then. Because with Alan Tudyk (Wash!) set to play the rogue Dollhouse killer "Alpha," better days seem to be just around the corner. At least I hope so, because Dollhouse is sucking ass so far.
And now... I'm off to finish up re-reading Watchmen for the hundredth time. Because, weather permitting, I'll be seeing the movie this Friday and I want to make sure I have the source material fresh in my head.
It's 8:00pm and I'm already in bed. Not because I'm tired, but because I kind of got used to working in bed while I was sick. It's a pretty comfy way to be on the job, that's for sure.
This morning while I was cleaning up the disaster in my bedroom that's accumulated from the past week of sloth, I found a big bag of money laying at the foot of my bed. And by "big bag" I mean a gallon-sized Ziplock plastic bag, and by "lot of money" I mean $320 in tens and twenties (which may not be a lot of money to you, but it's sure a lot of money to me).
I spent the rest of my day trying to figure out what it was doing there, and where it came from. Not that I was assuming somebody broke into my home and put it there... no... I knew it was my money. I just couldn't for the life of me remember why I would have put it in a Ziplock bag and stashed it at the foot of my bed. Did I knock over a lemonade stand? Hold up a Girl Scout selling cookies? I rarely carry much cash, preferring to put even small purchases on a credit or debit card, so what was it for?
Eventually I gave up trying to figure it out, and decided to put it in the bank. Maybe I will treat myself to something pretty with my new-found wealth later this week. And by "pretty" I mean get the oil and brakes changed on my car.
I suppose there are worse mysteries to have... like finding a big bag with a severed monkey head stashed at the foot of your bed... so I'm trying hard not to complain...
But still, it sure would be nice if I could remember stuff like this.
Every time I turn around now-a-days, I'm hearing about horrendous crap that's going on with my friends or family. It simply. Does. Not. Stop. Whether it's from finances, health, betrayal, theft, heartbreak, or a multitude of other tragedies, something horrible always seems to be happening to somebody I care about.
Heaven only knows I've had my share of heinous shit dropping into my life lately, but it's the never-ending misery of other people that's wearing me down. It's getting to the point where I'm afraid to pick up the phone or check my email because I'm practically guaranteed bad news is on the other end.
Which begs the question... how much longer can this go on?
I know people say "things can always get worse," but surely at some point you will run out of things that can go wrong. Won't you? I only ask, because it's that faint hope that keeps me going.
But, as bad as things may be, that's not as bad as things are.
Because whenever I cruise the blogosphere or whatever "social networking" trainwreck has my attention this week, I find something far worse than the actual drama that's making life hell for many of my friends, family, and increasing numbers of other people out there.
It's the manufactured drama people create that's driving me fucking insane.
Complaining about day-to-day crap is normal and healthy. It's why many of us have blogs in the first place. But I'm going into thermonuclear meltdown over the constant need some people have to take this mundane shit and escalate the drama until everything in their life is a catastrophic world-ending event. There's just too much horrible stuff going on right now for me to care about all this artificial tragedy people dream up to make their lives interesting.
Every once in a while you just have to say "meh" and move on.
I cannot imagine the scrutiny that somebody in the public spotlight has to endure. I don't think anybody can until it happens to them.
Which is why I am starting to develop a real sympathy for Michelle Obama. The poor woman cannot catch a break, as her every nuance is analyzed to death. Her every decision... no matter how slight... is debated and dissected for months after it happens. And usually, it's over insignificant details that she seems to catch the most flack for. The latest furor burning up the internets is that she has the audacity and poor taste to =gasp!= wear SLEEVELESS DRESSES!!
Just look at the hussy as she attends a recent presidential address...
Today somebody actually asked me what I thought of Michelle Obama dressing in such an undignified manner.
"Are you serious?" I replied. "So long as she has her nipples covered and isn't flashing her crotch all over town, I don't give a crap if her dress has sleeves or not!"
Because, honestly, every time I see a photo of Michelle Obama, she is the very epitome of class and good taste. She is a good-looking woman, and dresses appropriately. I think it's time for some jealous bitches to realize that we're living in the year 2009, and shut the fuck up.
At least I did.
Until I saw a photo of our First Lady deplaning Air Force One to meet with the British Minister of Foreign Affairs last week...
Now, I consider myself to be a pretty open-minded guy, but clearly she has made a wrong decision here.
The First Lady of The United States of America has no business wearing a bad synthetic weave like this!
Clearly this is not how this country should be represented. You're the FIRST LADY for crying out loud! Find yourself a good hairdresser and spring for the natural hair extensions!
I mean, my God, what's next? LEG WARMERS WITH SPANDEX?!?
Somebody please help her before it's too late.
For as long as I can remember, I've been in love with maps and map-making.
Old maps, new maps, road maps, land maps, ocean maps, weather maps... any kind of map at all is a source of fascination to me. At one point I even considered a career in cartography, and did a lot of research on how maps are crafted. It never really amounted to anything, but the reward was in the learning, and my appreciation for maps grew as I studied them.
I did eventually do some map work for hire... usually presentations for land developers, graphics for realtors, and stuff like that... but most of the hundreds of maps I drew were just for fun. Like this map of Davetopia, which was one of my very first maps (original drawn on paper, but digitized years later). It was created for an online experiment called DaveWorld...
Today when I stopped for gas my leg rubbed against the big wad of road maps I keep in my car door pocket, and they all fell to the ground. As I bent over to pick them up, it suddenly occurred to me that I haven't opened any of them in years. About a decade ago, I started using online sites like MapQuest and Google Maps when I needed directions. Now-a-days, I just turn on my iPhone.
When it comes to actually using maps, print is apparently dead to me. Once I got home, I grabbed a couple of the more useful-looking laminated maps from the pile (just in case) and threw the rest in the trash.
After dinner, I dug them back out of the garbage so I could look at them one last time before I trashed them again. It's hard to let go of something you love. As I sit here typing this, a part of me is still mourning the maps I threw out. But then I look at the dozens of map books, atlases, travel books, and cartography books on my shelf and know that I made the right decision.
Just like in cartography, life is something you should keep as uncluttered as possible.
In the epic masterwork, Watchmen, the god-like being known as Dr. Manhattan is a being who experiences his past, present, and future all at the same time. Despite his incredible power over matter, time, and space, he's nothing but a slave to an existence that has already been written. His every moment is "going through the motions" of a life that is fully predestined and known to him.
At one point in the book, Dr. Manhattan is exposed to a stream of tachyons which interrupt his all-knowing vision. Suddenly his boring walk through life is exciting again because he can't see the future. He had forgotten what it's like to not know what's going to happen.
Which pretty much explains how I felt about the film adaptation.
I had read the original graphic novel so many times that I knew every detail. I already knew the future of the story because I knew how it would all end. But the movie version of a dense story like Watchmen had to change to be film-able, so suddenly I was experiencing the excitement of not knowing. So many things were the same, but a lot of the details were different. Including the ending.
For those who haven't seen the film, I can sum it up spoiler-free like this: Watchmen is a surprisingly good film and faithful adaptation that lives up to the hype. It was a remarkable tribute to the source material on almost every level. I really enjoyed the film overall, despite two curious missteps I felt could have been easily avoided.
My spoiler-riddled review (which assumes knowledge of the original Watchmen graphic novel) follows in an extended entry.
→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
If somebody could help me with this monkey on my back, that would be great...
It's a very special edition of Bullet Sunday here at Blogography... focusing on the many wonders of the Emerald City itself, Seattle! Vahid came up to see Watchmen and, surprisingly, hasn't ever really played tourist here despite the fact he lives only 3 hours away. We didn't have much time, but managed to squeeze in quite a lot (fortunately he managed to get a late train back home on Sunday!).
• Pike Place Market. Probably my favorite touristy place in Seattle, it's tough to beat a trip to the Pike Place Market. There's shops and eateries for just about any taste or interest, and a good chunk of the day can be spent trying to explore it all. Since there are pictures of the famous Market Sign and flying fish everywhere, I thought I'd skip that and remind everybody that you can see delicious cheese being made at Beecher's Cheese, just across the street from the marketplace. It's a massive task that involves a lot of manual labor, but a lot of fun to watch...
You can not only buy their famous award winning cheeses, but also eat a delicious grilled cheese sandwich or some decadent "World's Best Macaroni and Cheese" from their cafe. (Beecher's Cheese Link)
&bull Post Alley. Just south of Pike Place Market, Post Alley is home to the famous Seattle Gum Wall...
• Space Needle. Yeah, it's a Seattle landmark that everybody goes to when they visit, but it's still a pretty remarkable place. Since it was due to snow Saturday, we were sure to get there Friday while the skies were clear and blue...
With my fear of heights, a trip to the top is not the most pleasant of experiences, but you can't argue with the view! (Space Needle Link)
• EMP & Science Fiction Museum. The "Experience Music Project" is one of those "activity-type" museums that either succeeds or fails for the visitor depending on how dense the crowds are. If it's crowded, you may not get to "experience" much at all. But on a Friday afternoon in Winter, crowds were light, so it's good fun. The Music Lab is my favorite part, set up with stations which teach you how to play various instruments...
Because there's not really a lot of "museum" at the EMP, they've added on a Science Fiction Museum to make the $15 admission price a better value. It's fairly comprehensive, covering many aspects of the genre... from books to film. Speaking as a sci-fi whore, I love the place. Not only do they have one of the original Enterprise models from Stark Trek, but they've also got a number of props, including Captain Kirk's chair and some of the devices used by the characters...
If crowds are light, I'd definitely recommend a visit to the EMP/Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. (EMP-SFM Link)
• Underground Tour. Old Seattle was a mess of floods and pestilence, which is why city founders were happy to let it burn to the ground when it caught fire in 1889. They then just built a new city on top of the old, hoping the height would stop the tides from flooding the streets and causing toilets to overflow. Since the Seattle was completely destroyed, there's not a lot to see once you go underground... but it's the tour guides that make the trip interesting (above ground is beautiful, however). Seattle has a very interesting and colorful history, and the tour guides make it all very entertaining...
After the tour, you can visit a small museum which houses a collection of stuff from Seattle's history... including an original Crapper Toilet, beautifully preserved...
• Seattle Public Library. Much like the EMP, I think the Seattle Public Library is a hideous mess from the outside. Only when seen from above does it look even remotely beautiful. From the inside, however, it's quite nice...
Idolatry. "Everything I've ever done. Everything I ever do. Every place I've ever been. Everywhere I'm going to... It's a sin."
• Alki. Sure enough, rain, snow, and everything in-between ("wintery mix") descended upon Seattle on Saturday morning. This made a trip to West Seattle's Alki Point a bit uncomfortable and made for a less exciting view, but it's still worth the short drive over to look back at the city center...
Even better? Dustin joined us for lunch!
• Seattle Waterfront. While not as interesting as the waterfront at other cities (like San Francisco), Seattle's is still worth a visit. A few legendary businesses are located there, like Ivars Famous Clam Chowder restaurant...
And Ye Olde Curiosity Shop (home of Sylvester and Sylvia, the mummies)...
There's also some nice classic neon signage to enjoy...
I also love the view looking back towards downtown...
And that was all she wrote from beautiful Seattle...
More is not necessarily better. I found this out the hard way when buying bread.
Wanting to eat healthier, I started buying Oroweat "Multi-Grain" bread instead of their "Country White" bread. Like all Oroweat breads, it was delicious. Then one day they didn't have Multi-Grain, so I bought their 7-Grain. It was even MORE delicious. This led me to conclude that MORE GRAINS = BETTER. So when I was at the store and saw that Oroweat makes a 12-Grain Bread, I was understandably intrigued. "That's FIVE MORE GRAINS OF DELICIOUSNESS!" I thought.
Turns out this was not the case. 12-Grain wasn't nearly as delicious as 7-Grain.
I can only guess it's because there's a grain threshold for bread where, after you achieve the perfection of seven grains, things just go downhill from there. I made a graph to explain it...
The problem is that this goes against the very principles we hold dear here in the USA, where more is always better.
Which begs the question... why does Oroweat hate America?
As I get older, my sense of time seems to be slipping away, causing me to get things mixed up in my head. As an example, I regularly think of events that happened 20 years ago as having taken place in the same time frame as something that happened 5 years ago. It's as if my mind is lumping all my past experiences together. I can figure out a chronology of events if I really think about it, but the distance between their happening is totally lost.
Which makes looking at old photos a real challenge.
While at my sisters house this past weekend, I found this picture of me...
It's Betty Crocker SuperMoist... there's pudding in the mix!
Noting the skinny tie and digital watch that I'm wearing, I'm guessing this was taken in the mid 1980's. Given the location, I'm thinking it's probably 1986. And that means it was 23 years ago, which seems impossible. I remember those times as if they were yesterday but, in reality, they were an eternity ago.
Reconciling these two conflicting perspectives is enough to make my brain explode if I dwell on it long enough.
And so I try not to.
Cute! I was totally a NAMBLA wet dream!
So far, the denial has been working out quite well for me.
Which totally explains if I show up at TequilaCon wearing a T-shirt, tighty-whiteys, and a pair of tiger slippers.
Immediately after waking up at 4:30am, I put in eleven-and-a-half grueling hours of work that turned my brain all mushy. After I got home from dinner, I put in six more hours. Now my brain is beyond mushy... I am near catatonic.
Which would be great if I could get some sleep out of the deal, except I can't. Despite how exhausted I am, my body simply will not fall asleep. So instead I'm blogging at 1:00am while an owl is hooting outside my window. This is very odd, because I can't recall ever hearing any owls here before. But here he is... excited about something out there. I was going to guess that his internal clock is messed up from moving the clocks ahead for Daylight Saving Time, but then I remember that animals are smarter than we stupid-ass humans and don't have idiotic Daylight Saving Time. Lucky bastard. Why hasn't Obama abolished this stupid crap yet? WHERE'S THE CHANGE I CAN BELIEVE IN?!??
Thanks to help from the charming and lovely Penelope, it looks like we have a venue and plans for the London meet-up on SATURDAY, MARCH 21st... a week from tomorrow! Some people weren't sure if they could make it but, if it turns out you can, please email me and I'll get you the details (my email address is in the sidebar to the left).
Just a quick note that the date for Edinburgh has been CHANGED. While we here in the USA always have Mother's Day in May... in the UK "Mothering Sunday" is in March. And, unfortunately, it's on the 22nd when Davenburgh was planned, making it so that people had to ditch their mum in order to attend. So I changed my flights so that we could have a meet-up on TUESDAY, MARCH 24th for dinner. Hopefully this will allow more people to join in. Let me know if you can make it!
Wow... It is just now sinking in that I leave for the UK on Wednesday. That one sure snuck up on me.
Not a day goes by that I don't wish I could buy a Deadly Ninja Attack Monkey to unleash upon my enemies.*
*And by "enemies" I mean dumbasses ahead of me driving 10 miles under the speed limit in a 25mph zone. WTF?!?
For the first time in months, my idiopathic angioedema (random swelling due to the release of histamines by my mast cells) dropped by for a vist, causing a massive welt to appear on the bottom of my left foot. This is annoying, but relatively harmless (as say... compared to my tongue or throat swelling up so I suffocate and die) so I just tried my best to ignore it. But then I remembered my allergist had prescribed some massively concentrated antihistamines to try, so I took three and waited to see what happened.
What happened was a miracle. Instead of taking ten hours to go away, the swelling disappeared in under two.
Which is good news, right? I should be celebrating. Except...
HOLY CRAP DO THOSE PILLS TASTE HEINOUS!!!
Imagine taking a handful of aspirin, multiplying it's horrible taste by 100, then rolling it in toxic waste. THAT'S what these pills taste like. And apparently they're quick-disolving, because they had already started melting in my mouth by the time I could get a glass of water to my lips. In very short order, my tongue was coated with a taste so foul that I very nearly had to vomit... twice.
I scarfed down pizza, cookies, Coke, garlic bread, spicy pepper hummus, and chocolate. The taste was still there. I then brushed my tongue, sprayed it with antiseptic, then gargled with mouthwash. The taste was still there. I eventually found some Altoids, and they finally managed to destroy the taste... replacing it with something not much better.
Depending on the body part affected, next time I may just let it stay swollen instead of facing the agony.
Much like the agony I feel when I see people asking questions that can easily be answered by searching Google. It happens all the time on places like Twitter, and I just don't get it. It takes the same amount of time to type out a Google query as a tweet on Twitter, so why not just Google that shit and get your answer immediately instead of bothering other people for it?
So now I've created a new Blogography page called "Google That Shit!" which I will put in a keyboard macro. Whenever I see somebody posting a question that could have been asked and answered on Google, I'll toss up a link to it. How else are they going to learn?
Some people may think this makes me an asshole, and they're absolutely right.
But that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make in order to create a better internet for everybody.
You are welcome!
Another Bullet Sunday. Another desperate scramble to get a blog entry written so I can attack another item on my to-do list...
• ACTA. To say that I am disappointed in the Obama Administration for their draconian secrecy surrounding the "Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement" is an understatement. I am thoroughly disgusted. So much for "transparency in government." The potential for misuse of ACTA is truly frightening, and yet nobody seems to care. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Not that I'd expect anything better from a McCain Administration, but Obama is the one who made all those transparency promises.
• United Kingdom. Tomorrow I'll be making lanyards for the meet-ups in London and Edinburgh... so time is running out to get on the list! If you're going to be in London on Saturday, March 21st or Edinburgh on Tuesday, March 24th, please email Dave Spice ASAP! (my email address is in the sidebar)...
• Blogiversary. The economy woes are really wrecking havoc with the plans I've got going for my kick-ass Blogiversary VI Celebration coming this April. One company raised their prices substantially mid-way through development. Another company who was working on what would have been my most favorite prize item ever disappeared off the face of the earth this past week. I was concerned when emails and phone calls stopped being returned. I was worried when the phone was disconnected. But I was freaking out when I finally made contact with a neighboring business and was told that the offices had been abandoned. The deposit I made to start the project was relatively small, so losing my money isn't my major concern. No, coming up with something new to replace it is the thing that troubles me. It's crushing to have your dreams dashed by factors outside your control.
• Postcard. Ooh! My postcard from Lynne arrived! And it's got a cool Orang Utan on it...
• Bailed. Am I the only one who thinks that somebody needs to be shot in the balls every time I hear the word "bailout" and "executive bonuses" in the same sentence? Seriously... shotgun to the fucking testicles (or ovaries, for the XY-challenged).
And now it's time to get back to work for a few hours. My time until takeoff to the United Kingdom is rushing by...
How is it that I know the words to songs I absolutely loathe?
I hate... fucking HATE... the song "Leader of the Band" by Dan Fogelberg. Every time I hear the stupid sentimental crap being blasted in an elevator or at a grocery store (like this morning), I want to rip my ears off with a pair of pliers. But, even worse than having to listen to it, is the fact that I somehow KNOW ALL THE WORDS TO THE SONG! How the heck did THAT happen? It makes me want to bleach my brain so I can get rid of the lyrics and replace them with something more useful... like a recipe for making toast.
Speaking of toast...
It surprised me greatly when some people didn't "get" the "Dave Spice" reference in yesterday's entry.
How soon they forget.
Singer Geri Halliwell is world-famous for being "Ginger Spice" of The Spice Girls. By far her most famous outfit from those days was her "Union Jack" mini dress and super-elevated red boots. The looks was so iconic that it pretty much became a symbol of the entire group...
The dress itself has an interesting history. Geri made it from a flag with help from her half-sister for the 1997 Brit Awards. Around a year after leaving The Spice Girls in 1999, Geri held a charity auction at Sotheby's to benefit a children's cancer charity. The Union Jack dress was the top item of the auction, bringing in $69,340. Geri hand-delivered it to the winner, Peter Morton of The Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas (where it is still displayed). When The Spice Girls reformed in 2007, rumor has it that she tried to borrow the dress back for the tour, but ended up using a newly-made glitzed-up version instead (because the old dress would have had to been altered).
Whatever... I think that Lil' Dave wears it better.
And so I'm off to Blighty...
I should be more excited, but all my travel kind of blends together after a while, and it hasn't sunk in that this trip is actually for a week of vacation. Vacation I can't really afford right now, but vacation nevertheless.
In anticipation of the truly shitty value of the US Dollar abroad (and at home, for that matter), I decided to visit my Big Box of Funny Money. This is where I toss all the foreign currency I bring back from my travels with the intent of using it for future trips...
The problem is that I never remember to take it on future trips, so it just sits there. The bigger problem is that 90% of the money I've accumulated is worthless. That's because it's antiquated money that's no longer in circulation anymore... like French Francs and German Deutschmarks. They may be nice to look at, but the only thing you can use them for is wiping your ass. Kind of like the US Dollar... except US Dollars aren't as nice to look at.
On top of the Big Box of Funny Money was a ziplock baggie containing 108 Norwegian Kroner. This was a pleasant surprise, because I thought I had spent it all last year. 108 of anything sounds like a lot, so I pulled up my Mac's Dashboard to use the Converter Widget to see how much it's worth...
Holy crap! That's almost sixty bucks!! I should send that money to Karla in Oslo and tell her to buy me something pretty!
Except something didn't seem right. Either the US Dollar has rebounded spectacularly in Norway (unlikely) or my widget is off. I decided to test it by asking how much a hundred US Dollars is in US Dollars...
D'oh!! The widget IS screwed up! Off I go to XE to see what my Kroner is really worth...
WAH! SIXTEEN DOLLARS?!? That's not even enough to buy a bag of Smash.
The good news is that I found 50 British Pounds and 20 Euro. That's pretty good!
Unless the pound-notes are so old that they're not worth anything anymore. That would be just my luck.
And I'm off...
UPDATE: If you don't mind getting your hands a little dirty, there is a fix for Apple's Unit Converter widget at Mac OS X Hints.
The bummer about being a US West Coaster is that a trip to Europe basically kills an entire day. I start out with a local flight to Seattle, connect to a long-haul 10-hour flight to Amsterdam, then RUN MY ASS OFF across Schiphol International Airport so I can get to my connecting London flight that starts boarding ten minutes after I land.
And here I am the next morning in Jolly Olde England.
Now, usually, that ten hour flight is nothing but the sheer agony of being crammed in a tiny seat and unable to move the entire trip... but somehow the travel gods smiled upon me and I ended up getting upgraded to World Business Class. Given the obscene amount of miles I fly each year, I'm used to getting upgraded on domestic flights, but it is a rarity on International trips (which, sadly, is where it makes the most difference).
Suddenly, a trip filled with pain, suffering, and dread becomes a different experience entirely.
And now I'm going to blog about what it's like to travel World Business Class on Northwest Airlines (soon to be Delta). From past experience, I know that there are those who will think that I am an asshole and somehow "bragging" about how awesome I am because I fly first class when "normal people" are stuck in coach. And that's fine. But I think it's important to note that flying thusly is something I could never afford, and only ever get to experience because it's free. Except it really isn't. I had to accumulate 160,000 frequent flier miles last year and spend countless weeks away from home, friends, and family to get to the point where I earn... I fucking earn... that prized upgrade seat. So people can say what they like, because everything has a price... it's just that sometimes it isn't paid entirely with money.
And besides, what else have I got to blog about?
Please forgive the positively shitty photos. They're positively shitty because they were taken with the positively shitty camera on my iPhone...
The first thing you notice is the legroom. Whereas the knees of my 6-foot 2-inch frame are permanently embedded into the back of the seat in front of me in coach, World Business has a freaky abundance of legroom. The above photo shows me at the edge of my seat with my legs fully extended. I can barely touch the chair ahead of me.
The reason for all that space? Your seat folds out into all kinds of configurations, including a bed. Yes, a bed. While not completely flat, it might as well be. Unlike the laughable "recline" position of the teeny-tiny coach seats that crush the person behind you, these seats can actually become comfortable enough to get some sleep. Good sleep.
Along with a seat about a billion times more comfortable than coach, you also get a little amenities kit. Inside you'll find a pen, chapstick (lip balm), switchblade comb(!), sleep mask, a toothbrush with mini toothpaste, and a pair of socks. SOCKS, BITCHES!! It all comes in a lovely zipper bag that's actually very nice. Notably absent are slippers. When I've flown World Business Class to Asia, you get slippers.
Before takeoff, they offer you juice or champagne, but you can ask for anything you want. After takeoff, they roll out the beverage cart and bring you a little box of assorted nuts. The nuts and your drink are refilled as often as you like. You can also go to the galley and grab from their snack basket any time you get hungry, which is crazy when you consider that they feed you constantly. Vahid gave me the book "Soon I Will Be Invincible" for my birthday, and it is freaking AWESOME (seriously, go buy it immediately). Vahid knows all kinds of cool books, yet never blogs about them. He will, however, gladly give you a long list of incredible reads if you see him in person buy him a drink or two.
Note the personal Video System (which is also available in the main cabin at a smaller size) which can map your journey, show you movies, and play music or games.
You are handed a menu with various upscale dishes... hardly any of them vegetarian-friendly. A full dinner and breakfast with various appetizers and snacks are served, all of them sounding just great (assuming you eat meat). As an example, one of our breakfast options was "Egg Pie Florentine with Spinach and Bacon, served with Apples and Cranberry Compote" plus your choice of breads.
Unlike coach food, World Business Class meals are never served in little plastic tubs. It always comes on real glass plates with real glassware and real metal cutlery. And I believe that's real butter too. But my most favorite part? You don't just get "salt and pepper" you get "Natural Sea Salt OR Natural Rock Salt" and "Freshly Ground Black Pepper OR Freshly Ground White Pepper"... YOUR CHOICE! How classy is that?!?
And there you have it. That's how the other half live (and me... on rare occasions). If you have the means (or frequent flier miles), I highly recommend it. I can't speak for other airlines, but Northwest (soon to be Delta) with it's impeccable flight attendant team, great seats, and great food, makes even the longest flights a sheer pleasure with their stellar World Business Class service. Two thumbs way up.
And now, after a fantastic morning wandering around London with flawless blue skies, it's time for dinner...
In many ways, returning to London is the perfect vacation for me, because I don't feel under any pressure to rush around playing tourist. I've seen most all the major attractions here on previous visits, so my days can be spent wandering at my leisure. Perhaps discovering some small shop or overlooked oddity that's uniquely London instead of standing in a queue somewhere.
But London and the surrounding countryside have so much to offer... such a massive number of things to see and do that are of historical significance or sublime beauty... that you really can't avoid playing tourist altogether. So when my friend and and fellow Hard Rock Runner, Perry, asked if I'd like to take the train up to Cambridge for a walkabout and some lunch, I jumped at the chance. Partly because I never got to explore the city on my all-too-brief previous visit... but especially because I've been wanting to visit The Fitzwilliam Museum for a decade.
Regularly touted as being one of the finest museums in all of Europe, The Fitzwilliam has a remarkable collection of painting masterworks by artists such as Monet, Picasso, Titian, Cézanne, Renoir, and Degas... but also features a surprising number of antiques from Egypt, Asia, Rome, and Greece. But all these treasures are almost secondary to the building itself. The interior is an architectural marvel of such beautiful artistry that you could actually ignore everything it contains and still leave with your mind blown. I was disappointed that they don't allow photography inside... but I was positively gutted that they didn't have a book dedicated to the building in their gift shop. A few random postcards or a page in a book is all you get. Tragic, really.
Given that Cambridge is a University Town, there's so much more to see, so off we went. First walking past the remarkable King's College...
Then continuing on for a walk around Trinity College, which is beautiful, but most everything is closed to tourists...
Then off to St. John's College, which offers quite a lot more to tourists, including their chapel, grounds, their "Bridge of Sighs," and a statue of a particularly vicious nun, who's standing on top of some guy's back (?!?)...
After lunch and some wandering through the market and downtown shops, we boarded the train back south, where I said goodbye to Perry until tomorrow, and headed back to London.
Because meeting up with fellow frequent travelers always makes for fascinating conversations, I was lucky enough to arrange dinner with fellow road-warrior Andre, who was kind enough to journey into the city. His restaurant suggestion, The Texas Embassy, was a fantastic choice... not just because good Tex-Mex is one of my favorite meals... but because the restaurant has an interesting history to it. Texas and The British Empire have an interesting history together, so finding a fantastic Texan restaurant in the heart of London is not as odd as one might think. From there it was a short walk to the pubs of Covent Garden, where I somehow managed to resist the temptation of Jägermeister, despite it being proudly displayed with Red Bull as God intended...
And thus ended a perfect day, with Andre off to the train station for the journey home... and me preparing for Davedon tomorrow before passing out...
It's 1:00am and I've just safely arrived back "home" at my hotel after seven hours of bloggity meet goodness.
This morning I went wandering through some London book shops, which is one of my favorite things to do in the city. Independent book stores are all but disappearing in the US as the mammoth chain stores squeeze them out of business, so it's nice to visit the many bookshops they have here. One of my favorite stores is Stanfords, which specializes in all things travel... from books to maps. I could spend hours (days?) exploring the world among the treasures they sell there.
Fortunately, I was able to resist temptation to buy a second suitcase and go bankrupt at Stanfords, because Lady Penelope and The Dutch Bitch had arrived in London! After a quick stop at my hotel room and some harrowing navigation through the construction (deconstruction) going on throughout the London Underground, we met in Sloan Square at Wine O'Clock...
After Dave from Undeleterious dropped in for a pint, we were off to Henry J. Beans for London's premiere blogger meet-up: Davedon!
Once at the restaurant, we were warmly greeted by Bec from Out of My Tree. Then Perry was kind enough to join us even though he was probably sick to death of me after our adventure in Cambridge yesterday.
Ireland ended up playing Wales in the Six Nations Tournament, with their first shot at a Grand Slam in 61 years. This was kind of an important event to one of my long-time blogging friends, Anthony from Anthony McG, who missed dinner so he could watch the match and cheer on his countrymen to a heart-stopping victory. Fortunately, he and his friend Paul joined us for a few victory drinks after the game, because I missed meeting him when he was in my neck of the woods.
I was too busy chatting to take photographs... fortunately, everybody else took a million pictures, so I'll link to them when they're posted. Thanks so very much to everyone who attended... meeting the people behind the blogs is what makes it all worthwhile!
UPDATE: The lovely Lady Penelope has uploaded her photos from the evening to Flickr. Below are a few photos of me from her set. To see the rest, click here...
Thanks to Penelope for making the dinner arrangements!
Penelope brought me a Hello Kitty dispenser with sweets AND stickers. How cool is that?
Penelope, Dave2, Dutchy, Perry, Bec, Dave (Anthony and Paul showed up later).
Let's see... there's our dinner bill, then it's pretty much just Wine, Wine, Wine, Wine, Wine, Wine, Wine, Wine, Wine,, Wine, Wine, Wine, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, and a couple beers. Boy, all those Cosmos certainly add up! I wonder who might be responsible for that?
Apparently, Ireland is backing my dream of becoming Pope, because Anthony gave this Irish Pope Hat to me.
Continue on to the Penelope Flickr Davedon Set...
And that's all she wrote.
Since tomorrow I have signed up for something new (to me) and touristy that demands my getting up at 4:00am, I decided that today I would do — — not much of anything. After brunch with Lady Penelope and The Dutch Bitch, I thought I'd just wander around in this amazing weather... perhaps visiting my favorite comic shop here, then maybe checking out The Apple Store on Regent Street (which had not yet opened when I was here in 2004, and I didn't have time to visit in 2006).
But then Anthony and Paul had raved about their visit to the Cabinet War Rooms & Churchill Museum last night, so new plans had to be made.
After a lovely brunch we wandered beautiful Covent Garden for a bit...
Unlike in the USA where street performers are mostly shit, here in London you must be licensed to perform, so most of the things you see and hear are pretty good. Some are exceptional. Penelope tells me that Covent Garden is famous for their street performers, so anybody here actually had to audition for their spot. One who caught my notice was a lady beautifully singing opera at the Market House. What made her truly special is that her music accompaniment was provided by... a teeny tiny iPod Shuffle! How brilliant is THAT?
Surprisingly, street performers are not the only thing which must be licensed. How would you like to be the government agency in charge of the sex shop trade? I don't know why, but I envision the shop undergoing regular inspections by some older, official-looking bureaucratic gentleman... walking the store with a tape measure and saying things like "These dildos are not regulation length and must be removed!" and "I do not see an electronics safety seal on this vibrator!" Though that's probably just me...
As I am not much for shopping I bid the girls farewell to headed to a geekier retail experience: FORBIDDEN PLANET!!
It's the ultimate comic book shop, stuffed to the rafters with all kinds of geeky extras like manga, toys, books, games, and the like. Some of the stuff is uniquely British and, of course, all those wonderful UK television shows and movies are well-represented, making it an especially favorite place to hang out in London.
Now, to be honest, I don't feel compelled to visit Apple Stores anymore. If you've seen one, you've pretty much seen them all, and the variations are not really so overwhelming that you "gotta see every last one." Even with the Regent Street London store being located in a grand old building, the interior is exactly what you'd expect. Or is it...???
When debating whether or not to stop by Oxford Circus and visit the store, I took a quick trip to the online review site, Yelp!, to see if there was anything to-die-for-drop-dead-special about the place. Eventually I ended up at the more UK-oriented equivalent, Tipped, where I saw something really disturbing... one of the reviewers there had this to say: "One more notable fact about the London Apple store. They have glass staircases. And it is rumoured that the sales associates like to stand under them when girls in skirts are going up... DIRTY!" — This kind of threw me for a loop, because that would be very different than the glass staircase at all the other Apple Stores I've been to... so I decided to check it out.
And, of course, the stupid bitch and her "notable FACT" was completely wrong. Just like every other Apple Store, the glass on the stairs is FROSTED. You can't fucking see through it at all. And, just like every other Apple Store, the staircase is completely closed off, so even if the stairs were entirely transparent... there is no way in hell that employees could stand under them and look up girl's skirts. Did this dumbass even bother to visit the Apple Store before writing her review? Because, seriously, it would take all of two seconds to verify that this "notable FACT" of hers is completely untrue. This is why you really have to take online review sites with a grain of salt, because stupid shit like this taints them for everyone and completely defeats the purpose of the site by posting WRONG information. GAH!!!
Anyway, visiting the War Rooms and Churchill Museum necessitated a ride on the Jubilee Line of the London Underground (subway), which I love because it's a newer line with some stations sporting a very cool heavy industrial look, while retaining the brilliant logo identity which is one of my all-time favorites...
They just don't make identities like this anymore... clean, simple, elegant, functional, distinct, recognizable... and so beautiful. Today it would be all computer-generated gradients with swooshes and all that senselessly stupid 3-D crap that I've grown to loath. With the London Underground, everything is note-perfect. And the typeface (which you can actually purchase) is sublime. A highly readable yet unique take on a sans-serif font that is a graphic artist's dream...
A couple of blocks from the station, and here we are at the Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum...
Turns out that Anthony and Paul did not oversell it... this museum was absolutely brilliant. Everything they said it would be and so much more. The War Rooms themselves have been preserved in the exact state they were when World War II ended. The audio guide included with your ticket purchase is all very well done, and the displays provide real insight into how the war was fought. After touring the bunker, you can then move on to the Churchill exhibit, which has to be one of the most thorough and complex museum study I've ever seen dedicated to a single individual. And its not just stuffy old displays of his crap either (though that's there too)... there's great hi-tec interactive tools that allow you to explore his life in excruciating detail. Primary of which is "The Lifeline," which is a massive electronic table that allows you to view a timeline of Churchill's life down to individual days. Even if "war museums" are not your thing, this is one attraction that's worth a visit.
The Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum is closely tied to The Imperial War Museum across The Thames so, naturally, I had to visit there as well. Or, revisit, if you will, because I had been to the museum years ago. It's quite nice (FREE!) and features exhibits dedicated to The Holocaust which are not to be missed...
Since I was already in "tourist mode," I decided to go for broke and visit the most excellent Wallace Collection so I could check and see if they have finally made a postcard of their painting The Waking of Cupid by Hughes Taraval. Unfortunately, they didn't, again... which is a shame, because it's a kind of funny and charming piece that would be the perfect postcard to send to a good friend whom I know loves this kind of stuff. Oh well, they do let you look at it online, which is nice...
Image © The Wallace Collection
My day now having completely flown by (THANKS A LOT ANTHONY!), all that was left to do was grab some pizza for dinner... take the tube back to my hotel... set my alarm for way too early... and try to get some sleep. Or blog... if your insomniac nature gets the best of you.
Which, apparently, mine has. As usual. Even on vacation I can't seem to get a break on sleep.
Believe it or not, I've never been to Stonehenge. It certainly seems like something I'd be dying to see... but, for reasons that escape me, I just can't get excited about a bunch of rocks, no matter how fantastic their arrangement and mysteries. Besides, I've been to the Stonehenge in my home-state of Washington and it's in much better condition. But, alas, it's one of those things that people kind of expect a traveler to have visited, so I went ahead and arranged a tour booking. Since I hate f#@%ing tour groups with the burning passion of a thousand suns, this was a kind of big deal for me... but away I went.
An interesting aside here... when you get to Stonehenge, you can't wander through the stones and go wherever you want. Instead you are confined to a roped-off area that keeps you at a fair distance from the attraction. Unless you book an "Inner Circle Tour" from a licensed agency. In that case, you get to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn and be bussed out to the site with 25 other people. These tours are very hard to get unless you book way in advance, but I got lucky on a cancelation when I had to change my trip to Edinburgh...
And yes, you can touch the stones. Here is what I expected to happen...
And here is what actually happened...
Feels like a big rock.
Far more exciting was the tour stops in the towns of Lacock and Bath. Especially, Bath, which was wonderful. I've put some pretty nifty photos in an extended entry if you're interested...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
And so here I am in my favorite city on earth... Edinburgh, Scotland. Not the nicest of days to be in "The Athens of the North," because it's overcast and cold, but it's hard to complain when I'm so happy to be here.
Originally, I was to be in Edinburgh on Sunday for the meet-up, but people pointed out that this was Mother's Day in the UK so I changed it in hopes that more people could make it (far be it for me to come between somebody and their mum!). Unfortunately, weeknights are really difficult for meet-ups because everybody has to worry about work in the morning, so the head-count dwindled from five to four to three to two. Not that the number of people really matters... I'm happy to meet up with anybody I can when I travel, and was very lucky that Andy from Sharing Experiences could make it (if you're a traveler... or even if you just like to read excellent travel stories... his blog is well worth checking out, and I was even interviewed by Andy here).
We met at Bobby's Bar, named in honor of Greyfriars Bobby, a dedicated doggie who spent fourteen years guarding the grave of his deceased master (he reminds me of Hachiko, a dog who met his master at the train station every day in Tokyo, and continued to turn up each day... even after his master had died).
Since Andy is a fellow frequent-traveler, it was great to compare notes and trade travel stories (Sharing Experiences in person, as it were!), so Davenburgh was a total success...
Tomorrow is supposed to be a much nicer day, so my fingers are crossed as I head off to bed.
Just some random snapshots from a beautiful day in Edinburgh...
And that's all she wrote...
I've had kidney stones twice before. Other than the excruciating pain, they're actually kind of boring to me now. Mostly because there's nothing for you to do except stay doped up on painkillers and ride it out until it passes. In the meanwhile, life goes on as usual... albeit in a drugged-out stupor.
If only there was a way to make kidney stones exciting again!
Like to have an attack while on an airplane!
Never one to pass up on interesting experiences, this is exactly what happened on my connecting flight from Minneapolis to Seattle. After spending 40 minutes on the tarmac at MSP, I started to get this dull ache in my side. After takeoff, this turned to a sharp pain. After an hour in the air, this turned into searing jabbing pain. Apparently all that water I had been drinking to keep my kidneys clear had no effect.
But fortunately, I had Percocet-Oxycodone with me for just such an occasion. The problem was that the pain made me nauseous, so I couldn't keep the pills down. Instead, I had to writhe in silent torment in my seat (thankfully I had been upgraded to first class so I had room to move around). By the time we touched down in Seattle, I was in total agony. It was all I could do to keep from screaming as I hobbled off the plane and made my way to the taxi stand.
"Is there a good hospital around" I ask the driver while doubled over. "Yes, yes... there is a hospital in Burien" he replies. "Will it take long to get there?" I query. "IT'S ABOUT TEN MINUTES... IF YOU WANT SOMETHING CLOSER HERE IN THE AIRPORT I CAN'T HELP YOU!!" he yells. And so I'm off to Highline Medical Center in Burien with a smart-ass taxi driving asshole who screams in his phone the entire journey.
Once I get there, everything else is routine... paperwork, evaluation, paperwork, a bed in the ER, an IV line inserted, morphine inserted, anti-nausea drugs inserted, CAT scan, doctor consult, paperwork, prescription for drugs, paperwork, discharged from the ER.
And I managed to do all that on my layover, arriving at the airport just in time to board my flight home.
Not the worst way I've spent a layover, but certainly the most unique.
Oh well. I'm home safe. Isn't that all that really matters?
The New York blogger meet-up is NEXT SATURDAY! If you want to attend and haven't emailed me yet, please do so ASAP. If you have emailed, you'll be getting an email from me asking for confirmation.Once there's a head-count, we can decide on a venue and get some reservations made. We usually meet early... around 5:30pm... so we won't have to wait too long for a table, and can have time after to hit a bar and chat.
Hope to see you there!
Now I wants me a real New York bagel.
Let's see how this goes when I'm doped up on Percocet, the miracle drug...
• Drugs. I am totally fascinated how I can be in agony one minute, take a pill, then feel nothing a half-hour later. How does it do that? Well, thanks to the internet, I now know that the ingredients in Percocet both prevent the brain from getting the message that there is pain, AND prevents the pain impulses from forming in the first place. Weird. All this miraculous science, and yet they still don't have a pill to cure stupid.
• McFlurry. As I returned from Edinburgh, I saw that McDonalds had a sign up advertising their new "Cadbury Cream Egg McFlurry." Naturally, I had to try it. The end result wasn't that impressive...
From the looks of things, they drop in some chocolate flake (which was mostly all stuck together in mine) then squirt in some random dots of yellow goop to make the "yolk" of the egg. At times, you actually get the cream egg taste... but, for the most part, it's just vanilla ice cream with an occasional chocolate bit. A great idea that pretty much fails on execution.
• No. The release date for the Pet Shop Boys' new album, Yes, was March 23rd in the UK... nearly a full month earlier than the USA release date of April 21st. In this day and age of online music sharing, this is profoundly idiotic. Whenever I see stupid crap like this, it makes me wonder if record labels are actively trying to lose money. HELPFUL HINT TO THE RECORDING INDUSTRY: If your customers don't have a way of purchasing what they want, they do have other options... most of which don't involve you getting any money.
• Yes. Since I was in the UK on release day, I was able to buy a copy of the Deluxe 2-CD Edition of Yes from the HMV at Victoria Station...
Yes is a fantastic album that is my favorite Pet Shop Boys releases since 1993's Very. The penultimate track, "The Way It Used To Be", is one of the best songs they've ever released (having that "melancholy yet hopeful" feel to it that the Pet Shop Boys excel at). The only misstep is the final track "Legacy" which is so awful that one has to wonder if they put it on the album as a joke. The second CD of the Deluxe version has mostly remixes, but there's also a new track called "This Used to be The Future" which features additional vocals by Phil Oakey (from the Human League), and is well worth the extra money. If you're a Pet Shop fan, this album is a must-buy. If you're not, you may still want to give it a listen, because it's a pretty amazing pop album.
• Thanks! And lastly, a big thank you to everybody who so generously gave up their valuable time to hang out with me while I was in the UK. It was fantastic to see all of you... Perry, Andre, Penelope, Dutchy, Dave, Bec, Anthony, Paul, and Andy... and hopefully we can meet up again one day soon!
Blargh. Another hour of work, then I need a nap.
When you think of modern Western medicine, you envision all this high-tech gadgetry and miraculous resources like they have in ER or Grey's Anatomy. And, in many ways, it's true... the toys and technology that doctor's have available to them are state-of-the-art and almost magical with the cool stuff they can do. But in so many ways doctors are fumbling around in the dark ages, and I am beyond confused as to why that should be.
When I went to the Emergency Room during my layover at Sea-Tac last Thursday, they took a CAT scan so they could see what was going on inside of me. On Friday when I made my Monday appointment, my Wenatchee doctor asked if I would have the CAT scan sent to them. Can you guess what happens when I ask?
The answer, of course, is "C"... and I ended up begging them to FedEx it for Saturday Delivery (using my FedEx account number) so that it would be there when I arrived today at 8:30am. Turns out they DID FedEx it, but DIDN'T send it Saturday Delivery, so the CAT scan was never there for my doctor to look at. All this effort was just a waste of time and money, because I ended up having to get X-rays anyway.
The Percocet I was given to manage my extreme pain stopped working last night around 9:30pm. By the time this morning's appointment arrived, I was in total agony. For women, I hear that having kidney stones is as painful as childbirth. For guys, you have to envision somebody kicking you in the balls as hard as they can over and over and over again...
Now, keeping in mind that I am doubled over in horrendous pain and barely able to keep from screaming, what do you think the nurse says to me as I am waiting for my doctor to show up...
And, yes, the answer is "C" again. Never mind that I could barely hold a pen, she wanted me to fill out a booklet of stupid-ass questions. The thing that really kills me is that it never even occurred to her that she could read the questions out loud and write down my answers for me. When I say "I don't think I can fill it out right now," her solution is to set it in my lap and bail. Lovely.
Anyway, eventually my doctor comes in and presents me with two choices...
Given the pain I was in, I actually considered the old "laser up your penis" trick... until I realized that it involved SHOVING A LASER UP MY PENIS... at which time I went for the pills. And that was that. The doctor's assistant came in and shot me full of drugs. The pain subsided in about 15 minutes. I got my prescriptions filled. I went back to work.
Life goes on.
It's raining today, and I don't mind at all...
Work has been all-consuming as of late, which meant the "Travel Planner" email from the airline came as a bit of a surprise when it landed in my inbox this morning. So here I am packing my suitcase while desperately trying to get those last-minute details handled before flying out tomorrow. Same as it always is.
I may not have time to comment very often anymore, but I'm reading more blogs than ever and have been absolutely fascinated with just how strange things seem in the blogosphere lately. It's like Spring hit on March 20th and everybody decided to do something to mark the occasion. Some bloggers in smaller ways than others, but the changes are happening everywhere I look.
And all I got were these lousy kidney stones.
Which still haven't passed, which means I will be more medicated than usual for the flight to NYC in the morning. Having already experienced what it's like to be in agony at 20,000 feet, I am in no hurry to go through that again. Fortunately, these new pills I got are a miracle in the bottle, because most days I forget there's even something wrong. Viva la pharmaceuticals!
Everybody fly safe...
Weather here in the Greater New York Area is pretty shitty. A lot of flights have been canceled or delayed both in and out. I am fairly lucky in that mine was only delayed two hours.
At least I was lucky until I found out my hotel shuttle stopped running an hour before I landed.
How the hell can you claim to service a major metropolitan airport like Newark and not have a 24-hour shuttle? And, if your hotel is such a fucking joke that they don't have a 24-hour shuttle for a major airport, then why don't you put that info on your website? Oh, that's right... because if you put it on your website, nobody would bother to book your worthless shit, because nobody knows if their flight might be delayed past your shuttle cut-off!
The more I think about it, the madder I get. Not so much for the $20 I had to pay a taxi, but for the principle of it all. Flights are still on delay and will be landing throughout the early morning. When I checked into the hotel, there were at least a dozen key-cards set-up for visitors not yet arrived because of weather delays. In service to your customers, wouldn't you at least try to accommodate the circumstances and keep a driver on-staff a few extra hours?!? If I were the manager and couldn't get anybody to fill those extra hours, I'd bite the bullet and drive the stupid shuttle myself. It's what you do when you're in the business of customer service.
Or so one would hope.
Given all the travel I endure, you'd think that I'd stop being surprised at the shit I get put through on such a regular basis. But I never do. I'm always clinging to the dream that businesses will go that extra mile for their customers... or at least not mislead those customers on their website.
But it's a dream that fails more often than not. A dream that dies a little more with each failure. A dream that shouldn't really be dream at all, but an expectation of how things should be.
But so rarely are.
Once again feeling like the luckiest person on earth that I can show up in a city far from home and manage to find such an amazing group of people who would spend their valuable time hanging out with me. I don't know that I could ever adequately express just how much it means, but every time in every city... from the bottom of my heart... I am so very grateful. Who could have ever imagined that this stupid blog would add so much to my life? The people I meet, online and offline, have made my world so much bigger... so much richer... than I could have ever imagined.
The day was pretty simple, actually. Newark to New York. Hotel room not ready. Upper East Side. Downtown. Johnny Rockets (veggie burgers in stock, w00t!). Hotel room still not ready. Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium. Hotel room ready! Times Square. Dave York. Union Square. Times Square. Good times had by all.
Thanks so much to those who could come along!
As usual, I was too busy talking with everybody to remember to take pictures... but a lot of photos were taken, so I'll be sure to link to them once they're up!
Just some random notes...
• If you're going to visit the brand new Hard Rock Cafe at New Yankee Stadium, it's probably best to NOT do so on a game day unless you have tickets to the game. It took me 20 minutes of going from one place to another to another to another before somebody would actually let me in the cafe. I guess everybody thought I was trying to sneak into the game or something, so I kept getting passed around. The cafe itself is smaller than I thought it would be, but quite nice...
• I usually don't like to have blogger meets at Hard Rock Cafes because the loud music makes it hard to talk, and they are usually more interested in turning tables than letting people sit round and chat... but the Hard Rock Cafe Times Square was absolutely fantastic. Again! We had an amazing server taking good care of us, and it was a great experience all the way around. Thanks to everybody there for making Dave York... and now Dave York 2... such a great success!
• When it comes to embarrassing you on your birthday... even when it's not really your birthday anymore... people you consider to be friends will happily report you to the "Birthday Humiliation Squad" so you have to stand on top of a chair in the middle of a crowded restaurant with a flaming hot-fudge sundae in one hand (your dignity in the other) while people scream "happy birthday" at you... all because they think it makes for great photo fodder on their blogs. The bastards!
• When they say "DO NOT TAKE THIS MEDICATION WITH ALCOHOL" on your prescription labels, it's probably a good idea to follow those directions. A couple shots of Jäger on top of my pills had my brain struggling to keep up with happenings around me. Which can be fun... or dangerous... depending on the situation.
• I really am one of the luckiest people on earth. Thanks again to everybody for such a great night!
UPDATE: Photos are slowly coming through. Like this one of my and ETinNY he sent me...
Peace out, baby!
And this shot of me accepting my un-birthday humiliation from Dawg's Flickr Set...
I'm the King of The World, bitches!
And some terrific shots from the ever-adorable Poppy's Flickr Stream (she has marked a set for Dave York 2, but only put one photo in there!)...
Dawg and Poppy with B.E. Earl.
Robin, Libragirl, B.E. Earl, Me, and Cissa!
How non-New Yorkers envision a ride on the subway.
UPDATE: And now Bellaventa and Libragirl have put up a set on Flickr...
UPDATE: And now Cissa has put up her set on Flickr...
I'll add more as I find 'em!
Bullet Sunday from Boston... could there BE anything more exciting?
• Photographic I just updated yesterday's Dave York 2 entry with a few photo links from Dawg, Poppy, Bellaventa, and Cissa! Dawg even has Poppy Streaming Video of me on his site. w00t!
• Friendly. I have a long-time good friend in Boston whom I haven't seen in ages, so I decided to cash in a few frequent flier miles and take the super-convenient Delta Shuttle plane up to Massachusetts. Even if I had paid, it's still cheaper than the train (WTF?) and a lot faster, delivering you from New York LaGuardia's Marine Air Terminal...
To Boston Logan in just a little over an hour...
• Rock. I made a point to visit Boston's new Hard Rock Cafe at the Faneuil Hall Market Place so I would once again be caught up with all the Hard Rocks in the US and Canada. I admit to being a bit disappointed that the exterior is so frackin' BORING, but they did a nice job on the inside... even if it doesn't replicate the more classic stylings of the Boston original at Copley Square...
• Revereware. While waiting for my friend to arrive in Little Italy, I wandered around The Freedom Trail for a while. Boston is a great walking city, packing a lot of great sites in a fairly small area. You can even walk part of the path Paul Revere took on his famous "midnight ride" to warn patriots about British troops arriving, starting at his house (which is now a small museum)...
One if by land, Two if by Sea!
• History. The bad thing about Boston is that everything is hugely expensive. The art museums here are anywhere from $12 to $17, which is pricey when you consider I just came from London where many of the greatest artistic treasures ever made are free to look at. New York isn't any less expensive, but at least they have The Met (one of the greatest art museums in the world) with only a suggested donation admission (where you can literally pay one penny and see everything). The good thing about Boston is that their greatest treasures... historical sites and beautiful parks... are free to wander around...
The Old Courthouse... site of the Boston Massacre!
A small slice of beautiful Boston Common park.
The Massachusetts State House at Boston Common.
• Graveling. Call me macabre, but the old cemeteries in Boston are probably my favorite attraction. Not only can you see where a number of famous historical figures are buried, but you can also spend hours looking at the tombstones, which are brilliant, beautiful, and sometimes even funny...
Here lies buried in a stone grave 10 feet deep Daniel Malcom...
The workmanship is really quite beautiful.
And thus ended my very short trip to Boston, where I then hopped the shuttle back to New York for dinner at Ray's Pizza.
Sigh. It's my last day in New York.
Times Square has pretty much become a tourist wasteland, which means you run into all kinds of crazy advertising that's inundating you with a non-stop stream of exaggeration and outright lies... like billboards claiming "Dollhouse is this year's most exciting television show!" and "Sean Hannity on FOX News... You Know He's Right!". But the best hype of all comes from the Broadway critic teaser quotes that are plastered on the outside of the theaters. They're all so ridiculously over the top that one has to question the sanity of it all. There's a lot to choose from, but here's my favorite so far...
Now, when I see a sign advertising something as being "so exciting it makes you ache with pleasure," the last thing I expect to see when I turn around is THIS...
West Side Story?!? Uhhh... seriously? I don't even think anybody gets naked in it!
What kills me is the insane shit that critics will say just to get their stupid crap quoted and their name up in lights.
I'm seriously thinking that I missed my calling, because whoring for critic quote recognition is a job I was MADE for...
David Simmer II — Blogography
David Simmer II — Blogography
David Simmer II — Blogography
David Simmer II — Blogography
And on that note, I should probably go to bed and try to get at least a little sleep tonight. These early-morning flights are killing me.
Woke up at 3:30am New York time to pack and get ready to catch my ride to the airport. Made amazing time to Newark and end up waiting. A lot. Fly Newark to Seattle with a medical emergency onboard that wasn't me (as luck would have it). Eat Qdoba. Wait more. Fly home. Where I proceed to get so enraged that my head very nearly exploded.
The entire time I was in New York, I was inundated with fucked up FOX News advertising. I have no idea why New York is so overrun with their crap, but I guess you spend your ad dollars where you've got the most to gain. This raised my estimation of the intelligence of New Yorkers to new heights. Apparently they aren't falling for the "FAIR AND BALANCED" bullshit, and FOX is attempting to brainwashing them into believing their lie...
Annoying, yes, but easy to ignore (despite being 200-feet long).
But then I watch The Daily Show when I get home and see the latest stupid-ass salvos being lobbed in the name of being "fair and balanced," and lost my shit. As usual, John Stewart... A COMEDIAN ON A COMEDY NETWORK... is the voice of sanity in a world of FOX News gone mad...
Words out of my mouth.
Thank you Mr. Stewart... watching FOX News so I don't have to!
I stopped taking all the pain medication I was prescribed because my kidney stone has apparently disappeared. This is a real mystery and has me wondering where the heck it went, but I'm so happy that I'm finding it hard to care. Unless, of course, it is just hiding somewhere temporarily and comes back again. The sneaky bastard.
The problem is that the medication was masking the daily aches and pains that I usually have from my joint problems, and now they've all come back. This is a major bummer, and has given me an entirely new appreciation of drug addiction. Who wouldn't want to have a pain-free life, after all?
Of course, given how shitty "life" is now-a-days, I've also been given an entirely new appreciation of alcoholism. Who wouldn't want to live oblivious to all the world's fucked-up problems, after all?
Of course, given that it's difficult to hold a job when you're popping pills and drowning in alcohol, I've also been given an entirely new appreciation of gambling addiction. Who wants to work when they can just win money for free, after all?
Of course, given all that drinking, drug-abuse, and gambling, I've also been given an entirely new appreciation for Depends Brand Adult Diapers. Who wants to haul their drunk, drugged-up, broke ass off the sofa to go to the bathroom, after all?
So the next time you see me hanging around in a diaper all stoned, drunk, and begging for cash, well... now you know why...
It's because I want my life to be perfect and pain-free.
This was pretty much my entire day today...
Coming home and finding out my internet was down made it suck even harder.
Can't. Catch. A. Break.
The small Eastern Washington town I live in is quite the back-country paradise.
Not that this is a bad thing, it's just that it does present its challenges from time to time. Today it was while driving through downtown.
An awful lot of people around these parts drive pickups. And not just any old pickups... huge-ass pickups with king cabs and extended beds on them. Massive metal monstrosities that are way longer than any parking space will ever be. And yet they still shove their giant rides into those parking places because there's nowhere else to park. Problem is... their asses are sticking out into the street and you have to swerve to avoid running into them.
But what happens when two cars on opposite sides of the road are trying to swerve at the same time? Something like this...
On my way home I very nearly got into an accident with another poor bastard trying to avoid a king cab extended bed truck on his side. Fortunately we both managed to slam on the brakes in time, or else my day would have taken a very different turn (heh heh heh).
At first I was rattled... but then I noticed there was a gun rack in the back window of the pickup I was swerving to miss, and found that funny for some reason. I guess nearly running into somebody makes everything funny, assuming you don't actually hit them.
Life is a series of near-misses, and I'm sure there's a Jeff Foxworthy redneck joke in here somewhere.
If only I had the necessary inbreeding to see it.
UPDATE: Carol says the joke I was probably thinking of was the title of Foxworthy's book "You Might Be a Redneck If... Your Bicycle Has a Gun Rack. She could be right, though Foxworthy has had a lot of redneck jokes about gun racks, pickups, and inbreeding over the years, so I can't be sure. Or maybe I'm just insane and will laugh at anything.
Despite having to work half a day, three really nifty things happened that had me walking on air all afternoon. I guess it doesn't have to rain shit every day after all.
But enough of me talking about how spectacular my life is here on my blog, let's talk about how totally spectacular I am on other people's blogs as well. Because by the time this is finally published to Blogography, my guest-entry over at Snackiepoo's site will have posted. I don't want to spoil any surprises or ruin the fun, but I can tell you there will be eggs...
For more eggciting ovum action, be sure to check it out...
To those who celebrate (or just like bunnies and chocolate) Happy Easter on this fine Bullet Sunday!
• Eggo. For Boiled Egg Day this year, I'm guest-blogging over at Hilly-Sue's place. I'd go there immediately, because it's far more interesting than anything you'll find here (though I've now archived the post in an extended entry).
• Apples. Knowing that Apple can be so good at so many things, it always shocks me at the regularity of their massive failures. Today I wanted to buy a couple of iPhone apps at their iTunes Music Store. But no matter which of my FOUR credit cards I tried, it always tells me that the "Security Code is Incorrect." And, of course, I can't find a phone number to call and get it straightened out. Instead I have to root around their website for twenty minutes until I find an email form. Epic Fail...
• Dolls. After waiting through a half-dozen shitastically horrible and altogether boring episodes of Dollhouse I prepared myself for "good" episodes that everybody said would follow. Well, here we are at episode #9 and it's still a boring pile of crap. And that's being generous, because it's also one of the most annoying shows on television... all because of tech-nerd dumbass "Topher" who has to be one of the worst characters ever unleashed on television...
Seriously... I never thought anything could top David Caruso's gag-inducing "Horatio Cane" on CSI: Miami, but here we are. "Topher" has convinced me that genius show-runner Joss Whedon has either A) Completely lost his mind, or B) Is actually a total genius who is intentionally making Topher a whiny, annoying, bumbling tool so he can add a major twist to the show by ultimately revealing that Topher's character is a complete sham, and "Topher" is actually the man behind the entire Dollhouse organization (or something equally shocking). In any case, I spend every minute Topher is on screen wishing that he would die and take this awful excuse for a television show with him. Joss Whedon's speciality is writing deep, fully-realized and complex characters that interact in utterly fascinating group dynamics. Dollhouse features none of these strengths, giving us erasable, shallow, interchangeable characters that don't interact in any way that's even remotely interesting. Perhaps he's planning on eventually getting this show to a place where it's worth watching, but he's taking way to long to get there and I don't feel like being tortured anymore. BRING BACK SERENITY!!!
• Cupid. It is well documented here that my favorite show ever to air on television was Cupid, starring Jeremy Piven and Paula Marshall. Thanks to gross mishandling by ABC, the show was never given a chance to find an audience, and it was brutally and unfairly canceled. Sad, yes, but show creator Rob Thomas went on to create Veronica Mars, the second greatest show ever to air on television, so I eventually managed to grieve and move on. Except when it was announced that Rob Thomas was being given a second shot at launching Cupid, but this time without Jeremy Piven and Paula Marshall. Going in, I knew it wouldn't approach the greatness of the original, but I held faith it would at least be good television. It's Rob Thomas, after all. Unfortunately, after suffering through two episodes, I find that the re-imagined copy falls flat. The two leads never even come close to the energetic interplay and chemistry that Paula and Jeremy had. Furthermore, Jeremy Piven infused Trevor with a sense of wonder that made it seem as if he might really BE Roman god of love, Cupid, newly stranded on earth... whereas Bobby Cannavale just seems like a slightly creepy scammer who is pretending to be imagining to be Cupid for some unknown purpose. Sarah Paulson (who was great on Studio 60) seems to be playing Claire completely passionless and emotionally void, which defeats the purpose of her character. Please, please, please, PLEASE won't somebody release the brilliant original series on DVD?!? Or, even if you don't want to go to that kind of expense, could you at LEAST release in on iTunes so people can buy it digitally? The show is entirely too important to be left sitting on a shelf somewhere...
• Cougar. And since I'm on a television kick here... JUST when I think that television can't get any more stupid, here comes a new piece of reality show shit called The Cougar where an older woman gets to weed through a bunch of younger guys "Bachelor-style" until she finds her "true love." I wonder how much these people get paid to whore their lovelife out for television entertainment? And I definitely use the word "entertainment" loosely...
And now I should really do something about my taxes. I think they're due soon.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
After a long and very difficult day, all I wanted to do was pick up a bag of lettuce and some cheese I needed for the dinner I was planning, go home, eat, and go to bed. Simple, right?
Of course, nothing is nearly as simple as you'd think it would be. Not these days.
There I am in the cheese aisle at the grocery store looking for a bag of medium cheddar shreds. But all the cheeses are mixed up, and I'm having a hard time finding what I want. As I'm searching, I hear two women talking loudly nearby, but ignore them. At least I do until something runs into me.
So I turn to see that one of the women who is pushing a plastic shopping cart made to look like a truck for kids to ride in has bumped into me. Except her kid is not actually in the fake truck, but instead buzzing around the two ladies. Thinking that I was run into accidentally because the woman was trying to manage her child, I ignored it and went back to searching.
Until I am ran into again. This time harder.
So I look up and suddenly realize that she was not running into me by accident. She is running into me intentionally because she wants me to move.
"ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?" I say, instantly pissed off.
Which results in her unloading a stream of rapid-fire Spanish that I don't understand.
Near the boiling point, I ignore her and say "You ram that thing into me one more time and I'm wrapping it around your neck."
Then I go back to searching for cheese, taking my time and seething with rage. I've heard the phrase "I'm going to cut a bitch" bantered around and always thought it was funny. But if I had a knife on my at that moment, I'm pretty sure I would have cut a bitch for reals...
Seriously, what the hell? Is this where we're at as a society now? I know we've already reached unprecedented levels of rudeness, but intentionally ramming into people with shopping carts? Really?!? People are so lazy that they can't be bothered to park their cart and walk over to what they want... now they just run into people so they don't have to be bothered?
Well that's just fine.
I can only hope that I remember to leave my knives at home from here on out, or I guess I'm going to end up in prison for manslaughter sooner rather than later.
After finally getting my billing straightened out with Apple's iTunes Store, I decided to bite the bullet and "upgrade" my music library purchases to DRM-free, high-quality audio files. I would have done it earlier, but I was waiting for Apple to get ALL their music converted so I could upgrade everything at once.
As I was watching $170 worth of fresh audio files being downloaded, I realized two things... 1) Apple was not upgrading ALL my music even though they claim that all music in their store is now "iTunes Plus" files... and 2) I bought more music videos than I had thought. I own eight of them. This was surprising, because just about every music video you could want is available for free on YouTube. Why would I buy them? Let's take a look, shall we?
The Scientist by Coldplay
On top of being an achingly beautiful song, The Scientist has to be one of the most beautiful music videos ever made. From the first frame where we're zooming out of Chris Martin's freakishly-blue eyes, the video plays out backwards telling a story of tragedy and loss that you don't fully comprehend until the very end (Note To Self: Never unfasten your seatbelt in a moving car). Rumor has it that Martin spent over a month learning to sing the song backwards for the video. The hard work was totally worth it...
Phantom Limb by The Shins
Easily one of my favorite songs of all time, I envision something entirely different every time I listen to Phantom Limb because the lyrics are so messed up (songwriter James Mercer claims it's about two young lesbians, but who can really know for sure?). In any event, the video for the song is pure genius, having the members of the band pop up in the best school play ever...
Take On Me by a-ha
Widely regarded as one of the best music videos ever made, Take On Me was pure genius at a time when music videos were creatively bankrupt. Featuring beautiful rotoscoping animation in a fantastic sketchbook style, every scene is captivating yet doesn't really distract from the song at all. What most people don't know is that the story in this video was continued in a-ha's next video The Sun Always Shines on TV, though not in a way many people would expect. What most people ALSO don't know is that a-ha has some fantastic follow-up albums that weren't released in the US (but well-worth tracking down as an import)....
My five remaining video purchases are continued in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Yesterday was freezing rain and hail. Today was flawless blue skies with not a cloud to be found.
And yet it was today I found out a data backup with some critical files was corrupted. This kind of defeats the purpose of a backup, so now I'm trying to find a way of keeping a backup to my backup. That should be loads of fun. Almost as fun as filing my taxes, which I finally got around to doing today. Every year I am more and more amazed at how unbelievably complicated they make it to pay taxes (with or without teabagging). Even with tax preparation software prompting me every step of the way, it was still much more difficult and painful than it should be.
Oh well, it's all over now.
Until next year.
This morning I woke up with a searing pain running from my neck into the left side of my chest and all the way down into my torso. Apparently I pulled a muscle or pinched a nerve in the middle of the night. The ache was so bad that it was triggering something in my digestive track that made me feel like I had to poop all day long (even though there was nothing in me to poop). Compared to a kidney stone, the pain is laughably tame, but it still makes for a very uncomfortable day. I can only hope that this is something that heals quickly, because it would be nice to be able to move again. I'd take some of the hard-core drugs I've got left over, but didn't want to waste them in case my kidney stones come back.
And speaking of kidney stones, I got the bills for my lovely emergency room visit today. Talk about pain. Even with insurance, the cost is obscenely high. I may have to sell my kidneys in order to pay for treating them.
Irony removeth thy beak from out my heart...
So much for buying a backup for my backup this year!
I've received a few emails telling me that my blog is suddenly displaying hotlink errors for all my graphics. I've no idea what could be wrong, but have been trying to investigate in-between phone calls and dealing with all the work I've got piled up. If anybody is experiencing this, please let me know (and be sure to tell me how you're viewing this site... which feedreader, browser, etc.).
It's a beautiful day this Bullet Sunday... which I spent indoors working my ass off and re-watching Veronica Mars on DVD. Man how I miss that show.
• Follow Me. What am I missing with the whole "FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER" deal? It seems everyone and their dog is whoring themselves out to get more followers in the social media game and I don't understand why. Ashton Kutcher has been all over the place with his march to a million followers, but but seeing an ad for him on a local billboard while I was driving into Wenatchee the other day shocked the hell out of me...
For a Hollywood star with movies to promote and stuff to sell, I get it. You want to be relevant in a whole new realm of influence with the populace. But everyday average people? What do they get out of it? Who cares how many followers you have? Will my life suddenly become more fabulous if I get a thousand followers? Oh well, 95% of the stuff on Twitter is crap or spam anyway. The more the merrier.
&bull Dumbass Quotient. Speaking of Twitter spam... are people so fucking stupid that they are still clicking on links for generic viagra and penis enlargers and other moronic crap? I'd imagine they are, because why else would spammers waste their time of something that doesn't work? It's getting to the point where I can't even blame spammers anymore... they're just trying to make a buck. It's the total dumb-fucks that actually buy stuff from spammers that are the real problem. If people weren't so astronomically brain-dead as to make spamming profitable, we wouldn't have a problem. I just loathe these stupid-ass people who fuck up the internet for the rest of us... they shouldn't even BE on the internet in the first place.
&bull Undead Poultry. LeSombre nominated me for a Zombie Chicken award, which comes with all kinds of rules you have to follow. Since I'm not much of an award guy and didn't follow any of them, I am expecting to be attacked by zombified poultry any minute now...
• On Film. With all the flying I've been doing lately, I've been watching quite a few movies. I even made it to the theater on Friday, which was the second time this year! Monsters vs. Aliens - So good it's good. Crank 2: High Voltage - So bad it's good. The Spirit - So bad it's bad. Twilight - So very bad it's horrendous. The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008) - So far beyond bad that we need to come up with new words to describe just how fucking awful this piece of shit "remake" is. There are some great-looking flicks coming up but, given my luck lately, I'm a little bit afraid to go see them.
• Flame War. In general, I find "humor" sites to be pretty much hit-or-miss. But every once in a while I come across something so incredibly genius that I can't help but link to it. College Humor has a brilliant parody of the Billy Joel song We Didn't Start The Fire called We Didn't Start The Flame War (language makes this one not quite safe for work). Once I got past the hilariousness of the video, I kept watching again and again because of how frickin' beautiful the animation is. All the words come alive as they hit the screen, and somebody put in a lot of time to make that happen. Not bad for a humor video...
But it's the inclusion of the ROFL COPTER that seals the deal...
And now it's back to work. I should be able to go for another hour before dropping into a coma.
I've made plans to spend Independence Day at my sister's house, which is all kinds of awesome because there's no place I'd rather be on a holiday weekend. Jägermeister is sure to be involved.
And, as if that's not good enough, a group of us have decided to go see Duran Duran on the 5th. I am a long-time fan of the band and love both their old and new music, so this is like taking an already awesome weekend and wrapping it in greatness. The tickets are way-expensive... $50 for general admission with no seating... but you do what you gotta do. Duran Duran is one of the few great 80's bands I haven't seen live, so I'll bite the bullet and pay the price. And be happy to do it.
At least I was happy to do it before I go to the TicketMaster website and find out that they are adding a "convenience fee" of $9.85 PER TICKET to the already expensive $49.50 cost.
Now, don't get me wrong. If TicketMaster needs to add some money to cover the cost of their labor and expenses (like web site development and such), I'm all for that. BUT $9.85 PER TICKET?!? That is not a "fee" at all... it's fucking robbery. There is no reason on earth that they should need to charge this kind of money. Unless they are greedy assholes, which would explain everything.
But that's not the best part. After all that, they tack on an ADDITIONAL $2.50 for the privilege of DOWNLOADING your tickets. Never mind that you just got fucking gouged for $9.85 PER TICKET in bullshit fees, but now in order to get those tickets you have to pay even more money.
Googling "I Hate TicketMaster" gives you about 137,000 results.
If you Google "Fuck TicketMaster" you get about 342,000 results.
Googling "TicketMaster Assholes" returns about 98,500 results.
And Googling "TicketMaster Sucks" has about 190,000 results.
Which begs the question... why in the hell do bands continue to use these scammer dickwads to sell their concert tickets? Surely they have a choice? Don't they give a shit about their fans? Why in the hell hasn't some other company who believes in fairness in ticketing fees stepped up to offer an alternative?
Because Googling even something as relatively obscure as "TicketMaster Can Suck My Dick" results in about 16,200 results.
Which is ironic considering that this would actually be fair compensation for their outrageous charges.
Tomorrow I will be flying off to Seattle late at night so I can catch an early plane to Santa Fe the following morning. Yes, TequilaCon 2009 is finally at hand.
My first TequilaCon experience was #3 in Portland, Oregon for the history-making 2007 bash. I had actually planned on attending #2 in New York the previous year, but I couldn't work it into my schedule. This is indeed tragic (and one of my few regrets in life is that I didn't try harder to attend), but life goes on. Albeit not as well as it could have.
Anyway, now that Jenny has posted the Official TequilaCon 2009 Poster over at her Official TequilaCon page, I thought I'd write up another "Behind The Scenes" entry that everybody seems to like so much. This time on how this year's poster was created.
When plans were coming together for TequilaCon 2007, the perfect venue had been decided... The Kennedy School. It's a former schoolhouse that was converted into a nifty hotel, bar, and restaurant complex. The only problem with such a place is that it's massively huge. There was a very real concern that people would show up to the event and not be able to find each other! That's when I came up with the idea of making posters for the registration table in Brandon's room, and name-badge lanyards for all the attendees so they could find each other. There was no direction on what these things should look like, so I thought it might be cool to alter a Jose Cuervo tequila bottle and use that. I found a fantastic photo online, paid the photographer for a release, and two hours later the first Official TequilaCon Poster was born...
The lanyards were a hit, so when TequilaCon 2008 was in the planning stages we decided to do them again, even though the venue didn't really require them. Initially, I had no plans on revisiting the "bottle" idea from the previous year. Instead I was going to use a shot glass and etch the info on the side of it, as shown by this lo-res lanyard badge sketch...
It was a nice concept, but it didn't offer nearly the impact from last time. Even worse, what would I do for the future TequilaCons which would certainly follow? It would be nice if everything somehow tied together from year to year. That's when it dawned on me that there were hundreds of different tequila brands out there, and my best bet was to just choose a different bottle each year. Taking my camera to the local liquor store, I decided Pepe Lopez had a fantastic label that would look nice when modified so I snapped a few photos, painted in my own background, and the second Official TequilaCon Poster was created...
This year, the lanyards and posters were a no-brainer because people have come to expect them (we also discovered that they come in handy when you drink so much that you forget your own name). The only issue confronting me was which bottle to use. Vahid sent me a number of great suggestions, and on one of the pages was a bottle of 30-30 that seemed a perfect fit. Their label is really distinct and beautiful, so the decision was easy. What was not easy was finding a bottle of it that I could photograph because my local liquor store didn't carry it. Fortunately, the store in a neighboring city did, and the rest is history...
If you want to see all the gory details on the image was made, I've put the whole story in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
The day started out really crappy but ended really great. In-between was a whirlwind of activity that I can barely remember...
iPhone seems to get freaked out by high-speed motion.
Meh. Tomorrow is when it all begins anyway...
HELLO NEW MEXICO!!!
The TequilaCon Planning Posse arrived safely in Albuquerque around 1:00 (sans Brandon, who showed up fashionably late). Unfortunately, there's a massive "pow-wow" event here and we had to wait 40 minutes to get our van before we headed up to Santa Fe where good times could ensue.
But even more important than all the alcohol we drank... we got new hats, bitches!
All I need are some boots and a turquoise belt buckle, and I think I'm set.
Last night ran kind of late, so our plans for an early-morning drive to Taos had to be delayed so we could sleep in... and buy boots.
Because the hats we bought yesterday weren't enough. Wearing them with tennis shoes would be an offense to man, God, and nature, so we decided to go shopping for new footwear. The problem is that a new pair of decent boots are really, really expensive. Lucky for us, there are plenty of used boot stores around. A good pair of used boots can be found for under $100.
Like mine. They are pointy. And shiny. And black...
Then it was off to Taos, where we drank beer...
Brought law and order to the streets...
Visited the nearby village of Taos Pueblo...
And drove across the steel bridge crossing the Rio Grande...
And stopped at the beautiful San Francisco Asis church...
The trip back to Santa Fe was made very interesting when we ran across a road block on the highway. Rather than being able to drive back in a straight-shot, Jenny had to take an hour detour through the mountains. Even now, we're not exactly sure why the road was closed.
And now that we finally made it back home again, it's time to get serious about TequilaCon, which is happening TOMORROW NIGHT! There's a lot of work still to be done. A lot of plans yet to be made. A lot of beer left to be drank...
Today was supposed to be dedicated to getting ready for TequilaCon. But before we could get started on assembling swag bags, tagging lanyards, and polishing our boots, a quick trip downtown was needed for some last-minute shopping.
Santa Fe is a beautiful city because all the buildings are pueblo-style like this...
Which is not to say there aren't scarier elements to be found...
The heart of the city is The Plaza, which is nice for walking around and enjoying the sunshine...
I found a few more Virgin Mary statues to add to my collection...
We also managed to squeeze in some time at the Georgia O'Keefe Museum. The artwork was, as expected, fantastic. But the thing I loved most was the amazing quotes that were sprinkled around the building. It really helped to put the works in context, and I was disappointed to find that my $40 museum art book didn't include them...
And tonight... it's TequilaCon time...
It's Bullet Sunday from beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico! I am still in an alcohol-induced Bad Place right now, so we'll see how it goes...
• Assembly. When planning out TequilaCon, you really never know how things are going to go. The biggest question mark is always the venue. Will the establishment embrace the insanity and welcome us, or will they tell us to get the hell out? To see exactly how that was going to play out, we marched down to The Pink Adobe an hour early. Much to our relief, they were definitely willing to help out. Our server, Jessica (who was amazing from start to finish), set us up in a private room upstairs... complete with a private balcony and bathroom! While we were waiting for the space to be set up, we got the party started...
Looking plenty cowboy in our new boots.
Of course, nobody in Santa Fe actually dresses like this.
My dangerous dance with Jägermeister begins once again.
• Space The venue was absolutely perfect in every possible way, as Jenny can attest...
My name is Nathaniel... I like to DANCE!
• Party Somehow, TequilaCon always seems to work out perfectly. As if Fate has determined that TequilaCon is blessed by the gods or something. This time was no exception. I'm pretty sure that everybody had a most excellent time. Tons of photos are sure to be posted around the internets soon, but here's a couple to get things started...
Tequila People in our personal party space.
Partaking of the powerfully painful Black Dragon signature cocktail.
• Surprise. In what can only be called the TequilaCon surprise of the decade, Dustin flew in at the last minute so that TEQUILA MAN could make an appearance...
Get ready for... TEQUILA MAN!!
The Official TequilaCon Planning Posse strikes a pose with Tequila Man.
Once the bar closed down at The Pink Adobe, we wandered the streets of Santa Fe until we found a new bar to hang out in. The official party came to a close at midnight... but some dedicated TequilaConners carried on until the early morning.
All in all... another amazing event. Thanks to everybody who came, the city of Santa Fe, and the gracious staff at The Pink Adobe for putting up with our madness.
Until next year!
Since Bullet Sunday was my TequilaCon recap, I saved what I actually did for today. So just pretend it's Sunday and everything will make sense. Or not. Does anything ever really make sense on this blog?
Most everybody went home on Sunday, whereas Vahid and I decided to stick around an extra day. We hitched a ride from Brandon into Albuquerque, where it was assumed that we'd find lots of cool stuff to do. It is, after all, the biggest city in the great state of New Mexico. Never mind that the two things we most wanted to see (Petroglyph National Monument and Sandia Peak Tramway) were out of reach, we were convinced we'd find other awesome stuff to do instead.
And boy did we ever!
Our first stop, was the $8 admission National Museum of Nuclear Science & History. This is actually the "new" version of this museum, having just opened recently in a new location with a brand new building...
As a disclaimer, I should preface my critique of the NMONSAH by saying that I have been involved in designing museum displays in the past. It is not an easy task, but it can be a fun and challenging one... so long as you remember the three rules of how exhibit-oriented theme museums work:
Unfortunately, The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History fails at all three, despite having such a killer concept and a vast wealth of material to draw from. To be fair, they are probably still working on stuff since the museum is so new, but there are fundamental flaws in the current approach that aren't going to be fixed without a major overhaul.
To start out with, the layout is awful. Not only does it not lead the visitor through the story, it's so badly planned that it's easy to miss stuff, and you have to wander back through areas you've already been in order to see everything. There's no "quick facts" tract for the rushed visitor, no in-depth tract for the intensive visitor... just a mash of "stuff" all jumbled together with no context and little explanation. And while there's toys to play with that are supposed to explain nuclear energy, there's no actual diagrams or displays to tell you what's going on. This is fatal, because every exhibit in the entire museum relies on understanding nuclear energy! Oh well. We tried to have fun anyway...
One of the exhibits was an old uranium mining car. Heaven only knows how much residual radiation had soaked into the metal after all those years, but we took no chances...
There's a kind of outdoor plane and missile park, but it's still under construction. Hopefully at some point they will have signs telling you what everything means, because right now it's just a bunch of stuff...
They had reconstructions of Fat Man and Little Boy, though the yellow color on Fat Man didn't seem entirely accurate when compared to archived photos...
Everything else was just a random collection of stuff that somehow tied to nuclear energy, like this Geiger Counter...
After the Nuclear Museum, we hopped a $1 bus back to Old Town so we could visit the American International Rattlesnake Museum. It's a tiny $3.50 admission museum, but it gets everything right. There's plenty of cool snakes to look at. There's lots of information for both kids and adults. They even have films explaining how snakes and turtles evolved. On top of all that, they try their best to educate visitors as to the benefits that snakes have for the environment. Two thumbs way up!
Since most everything in Albuquerque appears to close on Sunday, there wasn't much else to do but wander around. The plaza for Old Town is pretty nice though...
All that was left for us was dinner at Fuddruckers and a wake-up. Our TequilaCon adventure had come to an end.
Yesterday's flight home was looking fairly uneventful.
At least it was until I woke up in the middle of the night with that tell-tale agony of a kidney stone working its way down my urinary tract. Then the day became very eventful. I have no idea if this is the original kidney stone I had problems with a while back... or if it's one of the two remaining stones taking up residence in my internal organs. It didn't really matter though, as I never leave home without an entire medicine cabinet's worth of pain killers and other medicinal goodness. I took a handful of pills, waited for them to take effect, then headed to the airport with Vahid for my journey home.
I had mentally prepared myself for the very real possibility that I would be in alternating states of agony and a drugged-out stupor for a week or so. But, after picking up more pills this morning, something incredible happened... all the pain suddenly stopped. I was able to get through the rest of my day just fine and drug-free. Pleasant surprise or devious feint? Only time will tell.
The internet is a parade of non-stop entertainment. Especially if you have the twisted sense of humor that I do when you're surfing it. Because once it has been filtered through my demented mind, even the most mundane blog post can become a cavalcade of excitement. And yet, more and more I've found that no filter is needed. So many people on the internet are wacky-insane now that they hardly need my help to be entertaining.
Which is not a bad thing, because I'm sure people consider me to be wacky-insane too.
And they're absolutely right, of course.
I try very hard not to lose sight of this as I traipse through the blogosphere, but it is becoming more and more difficult. As an example, I'll come across a blogger who says that they're being attacked by a bunch of other nasty bloggers and I'll immediately become sympathetic. I'll dig a little bit, see that the blogger actually is being attacked, and become angry. Then I'll probably write a nice comment or fire off an email of support to them, because I've had my share of senseless attacks and hatemail and know what it's like.
And then... inevitably... other truths will come to light. Perhaps I'll find out that not only did the blogger have these attacks coming, but they are far worse at dishing out the venom than anything they're receiving, and there's a reason they're being attacked. Or maybe the blogger invited the attacks to get noticed. Or maybe the attacks weren't even really about them, they're just jumping into somebody else's war because they like the sympathy they get when they play the victim. Whatever the case, 9 times out of 10 I'll end up getting burned because the blogger in question is lying, delusional, paranoid, lonely, ignored, or just plain crazy.
But not crazy in a good way.
The horrible part is that I never seem to learn my lesson. I guess deep-down I want to believe that people are being honest about why they're being attacked... even though I know the odds are against it. Heaven only knows I've seen enough psychotic dumbasses online to realize I should be more careful, and yet I always seem to forget these people just when I need to remember them most.
Oh well... having your trust taken advantage of is all part of the blogging game, I guess. Obviously I can live with that, because I'm still here.
It's watching other people get duped that's getting to be too much to bear.
I keep wondering how much more I can take before I'm the one going all psychotic dumbass in my blog.
Though I'm probably there already and just don't realize it. Isn't this entry proof of that?
And how can this be? For he is the Kwisatch Haderach!
This will probably only make sense to six people on earth. Sorry about that.
The fascinating thing about hanging out with Jenny and her TequilaCon Planning Posse is how much it has altered my life... even though I was only exposed to them for a short period of time. Somehow I've returned home with a completely new vocabulary that made perfect sense in Santa Fe, but which nobody here can understand. I'll start talking to somebody, and they'll just wander off scratching their head all confused.
Just in case it starts seeping into my blog entries, I thought I'd take a minute to define some of the most common new vocabulary which has been permanently embedded in my brain...
POPSICLE or POPSICLE NASTY.
Meaning: Very, very wrong or messed up. Unethical, perverted, or naughty.
Usage: "Wow, good thing I asked to see ID before I rented that hooker... she was only fourteen years old! - That would have been so popsicle!"
Origin: Jenny's infatuation with Family Guy quotes. In one episode, Herbert the pedophile pervert tries to tempt Chris Griffin to his basement by promising him free popsicles.
SHARK EXTREME or SHARKY.
Meaning: Way beyond normal parameters. Eclipsing the extreme with it's extremeness. Badass.
Usage: "I'm not just rollerblading down Mt. Kilimanjaro... I'm rollerblading down Mt. Kilimanjaro shark extreme because I'm doing it naked! Yeah, I'm sharky that way."
Origin: Playing "Apples to Apples" and having to choose whether Hitler or Sharks better define "extreme." Jenny has the full story here.
OHH NAHOOOOOO! ("oh no") or AHY KNAHOOOOOO! ("I know")
Meaning: Disbelief followed by emphatic agreement.
Usage: "OHH NAHOOOOOO! TequilaCon 10 is going to be in Wasilla, Alaska!" — "AHY KNAHOOOOOO!"
Origin: That would be Jenny's addiction to Family Guy again... this time it's quoted from Bruce.
Meaning: Something terrifyingly evil. Beyond scary.
Usage: "Holy crap! Dick Cheney just shot somebody in the face and then laughed while he took away their health care! Now that's Zombie Dog cold!"
Origin: Driving back from Taos, Jenny made the mistake of slowing down when she saw some dogs near the road. This sign of weakness was all they needed to attack, but not before psyching us out by staring at us with their cold, dead eyes.
Meaning: Unbelievably cool. Mind-blowingly awesome.
Usage: "Dave's blog is so viper! I can't believe he doesn't charge us to read it."
Origin: Jenny's conversation with her seat-mate on the flight to Albuquerque. She's got the whole story here.
Meaning: Stinky. Smelling bad.
Usage: "I was going to have the broccoli casserole, but it was all used cowboy so I got the cheese sandwich instead."
Origin: Do you know what happens when you pack four pairs of used cowboy boots into Jenny's sealed van in 90-degree heat? You get a very smelly van that reeks of used cowboy.
And now I think I'll try to get some sleep because I am shark extreme tired.
It's a full-blown epidemic edition of Bullet Sunday!
• Mapping. Ooh! I almost forgot that I've got another state checked off my Travel Map! Now there's only North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma left to go. One of these years I'm going to have to just bite the bullet, fly into Fargo, get a one-way car rental, drive down to Tulsa, then fly home. Allowing for a one-day detour to Mount Rushmore, I could do it in three or four days. One more thing to add to my list.
• Jacked. The annual Apple Blossom Festival came to town this weekend. And, while I gave up on celebrating the event a long time ago, there's still one Apple Blossom tradition I feel compelled to embrace... CRACKER JACKS!!!
But something has gone terribly wrong. Right on the front of the bag, it asks you to guess what the surprise might be inside. When I was younger and Cracker Jack had awesome prizes, I might have had a shot at this. Maybe it would be a little plastic truck. Or a magnifying glass. Or even a book of sweet ink tattoos. But TODAY? All the prizes they give out are shit...
Now, please tell me how the fuck could I have ever guessed a "pencil topper" that's nothing but a piece of slotted paper with a crappy drawing of cartoon bees on it? NOTE TO CRACKER JACK COMPANY: A PENCIL TOPPER WOULD GO ON TOP OF THE PENCIL. THIS IS A FUCKING PENCIL SLIDER. Or whatever...
• Chuks. My post from Thursday was half-way understood by half the people commenting on it. While it's probably a mistake to try and explain what goes on in my head, I'll give it a shot...
In the cinematic masterpiece, Dune (directed by über-genius David Lynch), there's a big battle at the end where the oppressed Fremen warriors rise up against the Galactic Emperor by riding giant worms into a sneak attack...
In addition to mowing down soldiers with their giant worms, the Fremen also have a sound-activated guns called a "weirding modules." When they scream certain sounds, the guns shoot out a pretty blast of light that blows shit up...
When I saw the film in the theater waaaayyy back in 1984, it was at our shitty local cinema which has horrible sound. Every time the Fremen screamed into their weirding module, I could have sworn that they were saying "INYUK CHUK!" Starting with Rachel, the replicant from Bladerunner...
And Captain Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation...
And, of course, the Cosmic Messiah of the Dune Universe Himself, Muad Dib...
Now, as everybody knows, "INYUK CHUK" is the phrase that Apache Chief on the Super Friends uses to grown into a big man and battle crime. Since Muad Dib has super powers, I kept expecting him to grow into a giant and start kicking some ass...
Super-sweet Apache Chief custom action figure by Iron Cow.
How frackin' awesome would THAT have been?
• Yikes. Speaking of Dune, isn't Alia the freakiest character ever to appear in in a movie?
• Humor. There's a lot of reason to love Star Wars (well, the originals, not the shitty prequels). And one of my favorites is how LucasFilm has no problem poking fun at the franchise. Not only by allowing others to take a shot at Star Wars parody (like the recent brilliance by Family Guy and Robot Chicken)... but the wonderful way they make fun of themselves. If you're a fan, StarWars.com has some beautiful posters for Disney's "Star Wars Weekends" on display. Here's two, but there are many more that are well worth checking out...
And now it's time for dinner. I'll be having rice tacos tonight. RICE TACOS WITH CHEESE!
I have been to many places and am lucky to have seen more of the world than most people ever will. And yet, in the grand scheme of things, I've barely scratched the surface. I've never even touched South America or Australia. Major cities like Moscow, Prague, and Mumbai have escaped me. There are so many amazing things on this planet that I will never get around to experiencing, and it always depresses me to think about it.
It's questions like "What if I die before I see Angkor Wat?" that keep me up at night.
People who travel a lot will know exactly what I mean. People who don't get to travel much will probably think this makes me a colossal asshole. And that's okay, I guess. Except I have worked hard and sacrificed a lot to go the places I've been, and am very grateful for the opportunities I've had which have allowed me to do so. Wanting more is just human nature...
I've written about this all before, but today something happened which gave me a new perspective on the matter.
I was walking to the mini-mart when I saw some guy standing in the doorway of his motor-home spouting off about all the millions of places he's been and the millions of things he's done. His audience was two older ladies who stood there patiently listening to him toss out the names of cities, parks, events, and sights he's visited. Intrigued, I stood off to the side listening to the conversation, which the man eventually summed up by saying "Yep, I've pretty much seen it all."
My first thought was "I'll bet this guy hasn't even been outside of North America!" because all the places he mentioned were in the US and Canada. This was worth a chuckle, because it always amuses me how some people think that the USA is the entire world.
But one of the ladies did me better...
"Well, you weren't there when I gave birth to my three children, so I guess you haven't seen everything after all."
I would trade ten trips to Angkor Wat to have this kind of life wisdom.
I am not a big fan of when people blog about their medical problems. Not because I think it's boring or stupid or anything... it's just that I find the inner workings of the human body to be "icky" and don't like to think about that kind of stuff.
Especially when it comes to talking about my own medical problems.
Because somewhere along the way "puss" or "mucus" or "bile" or some other kind of nastiness is just bound to creep into the conversation, and I'd really prefer not getting into it.
But I am not having a very pleasant evening, and the situation is all I really have to blog about right now. So rather than leaving a blank entry, I thought I'd find a way to discuss matters in a way that's not going to gross anybody out.
A metaphor, if you will.
Let's say that you built a new greenhouse where the plants require special water. Highly filtered water, you might say. So you build a nice system where dual filtration units remove all the impurities, then pass the filtered water off into a bucket. The bucket in turn feeds a massive nozzle which you then use to spray your plants...
The key to comprehending this system is understanding just how massive the nozzle is. It's enormous. Firefighters are in awe of just how big it is. You could hose down an entire football field plus a team of cheerleaders in just five minutes (assuming you didn't want to take your time, of course)... because that's how astoundingly large this nozzle is.
Unfortunately, the tubing you bought to feed the system is way too small. It's also very soft, and easily ripped if anything sharp comes near it. It can also be prone to tearing if you force something too wide through it. And no, I don't know why. Maybe you spent all your money on the massive nozzle and didn't have enough left over to buy decent tubes... whatever... it's not important.
What IS important is that the nozzle is just fine. The nozzle works perfectly and can handle just about anything you throw at it. It's the tubing which is totally inadequate to the task here.
Because, oops! Every once in a while the filters let a particle slip through. This causes all kinds of agony, because those little tubes just aren't built to handle it. Eventually, it will most likely make its way through the system, but it's a painful process. The worst, most horrifying part is in the tubes leaving the filters and depositing into the bucket. These are the tubes least able to cope with the damage. You get something going through here and you become so traumatized that all you want to do is burn down the entire greenhouse.
The tube from the bucket to the massive nozzle is uncomfortable, but nowhere near as painful. Which is where I'm at now...
Not at all agonizing, but scary nevertheless. Having a particle stuck here feels like you have a little razor blade about to run through your nozzle. It also makes you feel like your bucket is full all the time. So you spend your entire day running to the greenhouse even though your bucket is mostly empty. What time you don't spend at the greenhouse is spent in quiet discomfort, just waiting for the particle to finally exit your filtration system so you can get back to a normal gardening experience.
And I would really, really, like to get back to normal so I can start my next trip without having to worry about my massive penis nozzle.
I have been having a really tough time keeping up with my life lately. It seems as though every minute of every day is accounted for, and there's just no room to breathe. Even the tiniest setback has massive consequences, and it's driving me insane. This morning I had an unexpected phone call that lasted 20 minutes. Before I knew it, I'm two hours behind with no way of catching up. At this point I honestly don't know whether to laugh or cry.
Thanks to the diminishing flight schedule out of my tiny local airport, finding good connections to East Coast flights out of Seattle is almost impossible... both coming and going. Unless you like a 6-hour layover, which I don't. This means a drive over the mountains, which is not a big deal except I'm so tired that the 2-1/2 hour trip is paramount to torture. Not that I have any choice.
Originally, I was supposed to meet up with a friend to go see Wolverine. But the reviews for the film haven't been the greatest. Add that to the complete failure of Spider-Man 3, X-Men, X-Men 2, and the horrendously shitty X-Men 3, and I just couldn't do it. Why risk spending my precious little free time stuck in a theater watching something that totally blows?
So I decided to wait for Wolverine on DVD and have dinner with my sister instead. That's a guarantee of time well-spent.
After a fantastic dinner and a quick game of cards, it was off to the airport. But first I had to stop for disinfectant wipes (SWINE FLU! OMFG! SWINE FLU!!). I also wanted to pick up a book to read since I left the one Vahid gave me back home. Barnes & Noble Books was on the way, so I thought I'd dash in real quick and grab a new sci-fi paperback.
The rest of this entry has been rated R for profanity and other naughtiness...
When I go to a library to check out a book, I expect that the books there will have been previously read. That's the nature of a library, after all... a bunch of used books that everybody shares.
When I go to a book store, however, I fully expect that anything I purchase will be in new condition. I am, after all, paying full price for the merchandise they sell.
After all this talk about Dune in my blog lately, I decide it might be a good idea to re-read the original book by Frank Herbert. There was one copy available. I pull it out and discover that the cover is mangled and the spine is bent open at several places. It was painfully obvious that the book was used, not new. I skip over a spot and there's an over-sized 40th anniversary edition of the book. It's $10 more, but at least it doesn't have somebody's swine flu all over it. I open it up to see if there's a special introduction or something for the anniversary edition, and instead find dirty fingerprints on the title page. I skim through the book and notice that there are smudgy fingerprints scattered throughout the entire book. Just like before, it's been used.
What the hell?
Is Barnes & Noble cheating people by selling used books as new? How can that be?!?
And then I see it.
Throughout the store, there are big comfy chairs and tables.
These chairs are where people sit down with huge stacks of books and magazines so they can spend all day reading them. These chairs are where new books are turned into used books.
I. Am. Furious.
THIS IS A FUCKING BOOK STORE YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES... NOT A FUCKING LIBRARY! PEOPLE ARE BUYING THESE BOOKS THAT YOU'RE STINKING UP!
Well fuck that. And fuck the total losers that don't know what a fucking library is. And especially fuck Barnes & Noble for encouraging people to turn their new books into used books by having all those lounge chairs and tables everywhere. And fuck Barnes & Noble again for then selling their used books at full price. In fact, fuck chain book stores in general for being so stupid that they cater to those who don't buy shit instead of paying customers.
I mean, seriously... what is the fucking point of having chairs and tables everywhere in a fucking BOOK STORE?!?
Paying customers aren't going to be sitting down and reading books for free... no... they're going to buy their books then go home and read them there. Or on a plane. Or on a cruise ship. Or where-the-fuck-ever. And if paying customers aren't going to be using all those chairs, THEY SHOULDN'T BE THERE!
I am fucking done with these book stores that don't give a shit that their customers have to buy USED books.
Guess I'll just have to pick something up at an airport kiosk.
WHERE THEY DON'T LET PEOPLE READ YOUR BOOKS!! ARRRRRRGH!!!
All in all... a fairly uneventful trip. Except I ate a sandwich during my layover in Atlanta and think I got food poisoning. Fortunately, I managed to hold myself together until I got to my hotel.
The highlight of the trip had to be the movie I watched on the plane... Taken starring Liam Neeson.
I had seen the movie trailer and thought it looked pretty sweet, but I had no idea this film would be so kick-ass! I'd put it right up there with the original Transporter flick for awesomeness in the action movie genre. Throughout the entire film I kept waiting for some kind of hokey plot twist... but it never came. It's just really cool action that gets you from point A to point B in a predictable, yet entertaining way. Despite some fairly big plot holes, I really liked it...
Now let's see if I can get a few hours work in before I pass out...
The first time I became aware of Wayne Hall was when he left a rambling yet funny comment on an entry back in March of 2006. I think I might have made a token visit or two to his site after that, but didn't really check out his blog for reals until May of that same year. His comments were always so witty that I pretty much had to check out his blog.
So I went to The Blog of Whall, saw a joke that kinda offended me, then left. I figured that if this was indicative of what Wayne wrote about on his own site, that it probably wasn't for me. Life's too short and all that.
But eventually Whall kind of grew on me, so I finally got to a place where I could read his blog without screaming. I just tried to ignore his more political-oriented stuff and it was all good. After all, not only is Wayne highly entertaining, but he totally loves me, and was plugging Blogography all the time (like here and here and here). This showed that, despite his "whallitics," he at least had good taste in blogs.
Since that time Wayne has become a good friend because, even with our vast... mind-bogglingly vast... political differences, we're more alike than different, which is pretty much how I find people to be all over the world. So when Mr. Hall asked me to guest-post for him while he was on vacation, how could I refuse?
Go check out an all-new episode of The Blogography Show over at whall.org!
If you're interested in a little "behind-the-scenes" action on how the guest-post came together, I've put that in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
It may appear that I'm writing two entries today. The truth is that I'm writing three entries, because I am also guest-blogging over at Wayne's place.
Savannah is arguably one of the most beautiful cities on earth. I've only been here once before, and barely had time to drive around for a bit before I had to be on my way. This time around probably won't be much different, because I'm working right up until the day I leave. But I still manage to sneak in glances when I can. Today on my lunch I wandered downtown and meandered through some of the beautiful squares that dot the city. These swathes of green are beautiful refuges that, along with the remarkable buildings, give Savannah it's unique character...
After finishing up work I was going to explore the city at night, but decided to relax at a movie theater instead. I'm still recovering from my bought with food poisoning, and watching a good film would take my mind off things. But which movie to choose? The Hannah Montana Movie or Star Trek?
I went with Star Trek...
The movie was shockingly brilliant. It somehow managed to respect the material that came before it (literally!) but strike out in a bold new direction that is positively thrilling. Not only is this film dangerously close to dethroning Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home as my favorite Star Trek movies... but it may very well be one of the best science fiction flicks ever made. It's that good.
And now... let's see if some sleep will make me all better.
Having to travel for work is a mixed blessing. On one hand, you do get to go places and see things you might not otherwise have a chance to. On the other hand, when you do go places you are working, and may still not have a chance to see things you want to see.
Such is the case with me in Savannah, where I am tied up the entire day. The only time I have to myself is a one-and-a-half-hour lunch. I also have the evening, but most things close at night and I'm too tired to want to go see them anyway. This makes for a very busy lunch time, as I rush around trying to see as much as I can.
Today was especially challenging because Jester had told me that I absolutely must visit the Bonaventure Cemetery, which is about 15 to 20 minutes outside of town. There are tours that go there, but they take hours, so my only option was to take a taxi and then pay the driver to wait for me while I goof around for a half hour. It was very expensive.
But worth every last penny...
I was expecting to see the renowned "Bird Girl" statue (made famous in the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), but it has been moved to the Telfair Museum in town...
I could have explored the cemetery for hours, but duty called, and I was speeding back to Savannah before I knew it.
After dinner I was dead-tired but intent on walking down historic River Street at least once during this trip...
What a way to end my day.
Happy Mother's Day to all the mommies out there! It's yet another Bullet Sunday, this time from beautiful Savannah, Georgia!
• Blogiversary. Okay, okay... I realize that April 18th, Blogography's six year anniversary, blew by and people are wondering what happened to my annual Kick-Ass Blogiversary Celebration (especially since last year was such a huge success). Well, I had big plans for the event, but everything kind of fell apart when the economy tanked. One company doubled their price in-between the time I asked for a price quote and the time I submitted the project. Another company that was working on one of my most favorite Blogography products ever has (literally) disappeared off the face of the earth (and took my deposit with them). Other companies I deal with have gone out of business or been sold. Add in TequilaCon, Davedon, Davenburgh, kidney stones, work, and non-stop travel... and, well, you get the picture. So instead of concentrating all my Blogiversary projects into one week, I'll be sprinkling them throughout the year as I manage to complete them. Starting with today...
• Ask Dave! Some of you may remember my "Ask Dave" Dashboard Widget for MacOS X. It's a tiny app that allows you to ask Lil' Dave a question, and he'll shake his magic screen to have an answer appear. It's thoroughly useless, but ever since Apple allowed apps to be built for the iPhone, I've wanted to convert it over... so I could have something SIX TIMES MORE USELESS! Introducing Ask Dave! for iPhone and iPod Touch!
It's pretty sweet and has some cool features... but, best of all, it's FREE! If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, head on over to the Official Ask Dave! Page and get it! And if you don't have an iPhone or iPod Touch, now you have an excuse to go buy one!
• Bindle Binaries. And the reason that the Ask Dave! app is free isn't because of me. It's because of David Syzdek of Bindle Binaries. When I realized that I wasn't smart enough to create the app on my own, I started looking for a company that I could hire to build it for me. As the price quotes began to roll in, my heart sank when they ended up being way outside my budget. I would have to either abandon the project or charge for it. But then I got the idea that maybe it would be cheaper to find somebody who already had a "Magic 8-Ball" app and have them put my graphics on top of their existing code. I downloaded every free "Magic 8-Ball" app I could find, picked my favorite one, then wrote to the author with my idea. The rest is history. David liked the project, agreed to release it for free if the code could be open-source, and started work on the app immediately. So, if you enjoy Ask Dave! don't thank me. All I did was draw some cartoons. David is the one who figured out a way to put it together... came up with a way to animate the backgrounds... added all the little touches that makes it feel like an iPhone app... put in untold hours squashing bugs and getting it to work... it's all him. Thank you, David!
Sadly, this is my last day in Savannah. I'd be upset about that, but tomorrow I'm off to new adventures...
My original plan after having finished work in Savannah was to make my pilgrimage to Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach, SC... the theme park that's licensed out by the Hard Rock Cafe. In my quest to visit all things Hard Rock, it's a glaring absence on my list. But the theme park had been having money problems, and ultimately ended up in bankruptcy with a promise to re-open in Spring of 2009. But instead it was sold to somebody else. And since it was no longer a Hard Rock Park, there was no reason for me to visit.
So what to do with my two trade-out days? It has to be something quick and close-by.
Why not visit Hilly-Sue and see her new house in Orlando?
So here I am.
Hanging out with Hilly and visiting some of the cheesy attractions I haven't been to before on previous trips...
When you visit this attraction, you have two choices... you can either be accompanied by guides in period costumes who will tell "their" stories of being on the Titanic. Or you can go it alone on a self-guided tour. We decided to go self-guided, just in case the place sucked, so we wouldn't be trapped for an hour on a tour.
And thank heavens we did, because the "Titanic Experience" is pretty lame. We spent most of our time trying to escape, but they lock you in...
As we were entering the museum, I made some smart-assed comment to the ticket guy about going to see Jack and Rose (from the Titanic movie) to which he replied "THEY DIDN'T EXIST!!" I found this funny, because at every turn of the attraction they tried to squeeze in all the scenes where Jack and Rose were at in the movie...
I expected the "Captain's Bridge" to have some cool effects... like giant computer screens outside the windows so you could pretend you were steering the ship or something. But no... it's just a wheel bolted to the floor of a small room, so it's like steering a ship at midnight with sunglasses on...
Since this was the Titanic "Experience," you'd think that you'd get to "experience" stuff. But you really don't... it's more like a museum than an attraction... though they do have a room with a small cut-out of an iceberg that has ice glued on the front so you can "experience" what an iceberg is like. Hilly says it's cold...
That look on her face pretty much sums up our "Titanic Experience."
RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT MUSEUM
After our disappointment at "The Titanic," we went to the Universal CityWalk to have a few drinks. Since it was a little to early to be falling into the gutters of Orlando just yet, we then took Miss Britt's advice and went to the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum...
And, while it was a heck of a lot more interesting that TITANIC: THE EXPERIENCE, it was still pretty tame. Probably because I had already been to the one in San Francisco. My favorite piece was the "Vampire Killing Kit," which I was hoping they sold in the gift shop. But alas, they did not...
As most everybody already knows, I love pirates. So when Hilly reminded me about the Pirate's Dinner Adventure here, we simply had to go. Sure these things are usually cheesy and crappy and the food is bad... but it's pirates, dammit! The building didn't open until 6:00 for the 7:30 show, so we decided to have lots of drinks at the TGI Friday's next door. That way, we could drunkenly stumble across the parking lot and enjoy the show...
Now, when it comes to interactive dinner shows... you only get out of it what you put into it. So you can either buy into the experience by putting on your paper pirate hat and cheering on your team... or you can sit back and make snarky comments about how cheesy everything is. We did both...
And had a really good time!
The show was fun and well-done, and our table was totally into everything...
Yes, some of it was kind of lame... like when Captain Sebastian The Black told Green Pirate Jose that he could have the Gypsy Wench and do whatever he wanted with her. And what did Green Pirate Jose want to do? Why, take her to the top of the mast so they could hang from ropes and spin around! It was actually amazing acrobatics that were cool to watch... but not very pirate-like at all...
The story itself is fairly predictable, and you see what's going to happen from miles away... but they do try to get in some cool sword fights and other piratey goodness...
Since this is a dinner show, you also get served food. I was expecting the worst... but was pleasantly surprised at how good our meals were. Hilly-Sue had the chicken, which she said was really good. I requested a vegetarian meal and was served a nice cheese lasagna with vegetables. For dessert you get a yummy peach cobbler with ice cream. Not bad at all.
Overall, this is one of the best dinner shows I've ever been to. But there are places for improvement...
And that was our day. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?
I've been to Orlando many, many times. Hilly-Sue now lives here. This means that I've covered the major attractions to death... and Hilly will undoubtably be doing so eventually. Because of this, we decided to explore the non-Disney/non-Universal alternatives, which included Titanic, Ripley's, and Pirates Adventure Dinner yesterday, and Holy Land Experience and Sleuths Mystery Dinner today.
The reason I've never been to Holy Land Experience before has nothing to do with my not being a Christian. On the contrary, I've studied The Bible and its origins more than many Christians have, so the "Christian Theme Park" actually seemed interesting to me. No, the reason I've never been before is because it was bought out by TBN: Trinity Broadcast Network. Putting aside my general disdain for televangelists, I have a real problem with TBN. To me, their gaudy sets and demonstrative speakers do more to glorify TBN and their appearance of excessiveness than it does to glorify God. In my humble opinion, this goes against the example set by Jesus, and I choose not to support them with my money.
Quite understandably, it was my assumption that Holy Land Experience would be overrun by TBN with loads of gaudy, tacky, excessive crap. Turns out I was in for quite a surprise...
We arrived during the first of two daily reenactments of The Passion, so the first thing we saw when we get into the park? Jesus getting severely beaten, then crucified. Not exactly going in on a happy note...
But don't worry, he came back a few minutes later...
There are several "plays" like this throughout the day, and the actors who reenact these stories are excellent. You can tell that their hearts and souls were into doing the material justice. Their dedication to inspire was, in itself, inspirational to see... even if you're not a Christian.
The park itself is just beautiful, and meticulously maintained. Everything is clean and looking like new...
The showpiece for the entire park is The Scriptorium. It's an incredible treasure trove of religious antiques that explains the expansion of The Bible throughout the world from ancient times to today... all using a collection tablets, scrolls, and books from throughout the ages. From an educational standpoint, this exhibit alone is worth the price of admission...
Another of their prized exhibits is a scale model of ancient Jerusalem. It fills an entire room, and they have regular presentations throughout the day to explain how the city was in the time of Jesus...
There's a section for kids as well, mostly centered around a Noah's Ark theme. You can also go inside the belly of a whale and see what Jonah was up to when he got swallowed. I have no idea what's going on or what happened to his other sandal, but being digested by a whale looks like good times...
All in all, The Holy Land Experience was very well done... not the tacky mess I was expecting from TBN. If you have any interest in The Bible, it's worth a look. If you'd like to learn more about the life and times of Jesus and the foundations of Christianity, it's well worth a look. The only problems I could see were A) the park is rather small with limited things to do, which is partially offset by the low price and free parking, and B) They don't really have enough covered seating and proper viewing space for some of the presentations. In the scorching Florida heat, it's kind of harsh to ask people to stand in the blazing sun for extended periods of time like this.
After leaving The Holy Land Experience, we had some dessert, got caught in a torrential downpour (complete with thunder and lightning strikes), then wandered The Millenium Mall until our dinner show began at Sleuths Mystery Dinner Theater...
I thought it would be hard to top the Pirates Adventure from last night, but Sleuths was pretty darn good and managed to do just that. Basically, there's a rotating series of interactive plays where a murder occurs, and it's the job of you and your fellow guests to figure out who did it.
The cast was skilled and very entertaining, which is what made the show work so well. As with Pirates, the food was also pretty respectable, and I enjoyed my meal of (once again) cheese lasagna.
About the only thing that sucks about this place is something that (unfortunately) the actors have no control over... and that would be the other people sitting at your table. When we first got there, we sat down with a couple of guys who were great. But then the OBNOXIOUS DRUNKS showed up. A short while after that, the SLOPPY OLD DRUNKS showed up and completed our table.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for getting a little blasted and having a good time at these things... but you have to draw the line when the drunken antics of a few people start to ruin it for everybody. The OBNOXIOUS DRUNKS would be generally disruptive and annoying while the performers were trying work, and that absolutely took away from my ability to enjoy the show. And don't get my started about the SLOPPY OLD DRUNKS... the female of that duo was scary as hell. Without going into details, lets just say I got to see a lot more of this crazy old lady than I ever wanted to see.
As for the mystery itself... it was surprisingly well done. They absolutely give you all the clues you need to solve the puzzle, and that's pretty slick. Each table gets to ask a question of the suspects. I had a question which would have confirmed what I needed to know to solve it, but the OBNOXIOUS DRUNKS were wanting a question about stupid shit that made no sense, so that's what we got. I went ahead and guessed my suspicions anyway, and ended up being right. This put me in the drawing for a prize, which ended up being a cheesy magnifying glass that I won.
All in all, despite the drunks at our table, Hilly-Sue and I had a good time at the show. I'd definitely go again to take in another one of the mysteries they offer.
And thus ends my last day in Orlando. Thanks, Hilly!
And I'm back home again!
Where it's cold and rainy and there was snow falling on both mountain passes for the drive home. Quite an adjustment from the big basket of hot that I had in Savannah and Orlando.
But the good news is that I finally passed the boulder that's been working it's way through my greenhouse plumbing for the past two months...
And speaking of painful blockage...
Am I the only one who feels that unless Ex-Miss-California Carrie Prejean starts doing porn, I don't ever want to see or hear from her again? She keeps whining about being punished for freedom of speech. Did the government throw her in jail for saying something when I wasn't looking? She was in a fucking beauty pageant! WHERE THEY JUDGE YOU FOR WHAT YOU SAY (and how good your breast implants look). Unless the police arrested you for saying what you said, or prevent you from speaking in the first place, YOUR FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS STILL INTACT YOU STUPID BITCH!! YOU HAVEN'T BEEN "PUNISHED" FOR SHIT!!
Ooh! I'm cranky tonight! I guess the kidney stone wasn't responsible for everything that's wrong with me...
Today when I turned in my kidney stone for analysis at the clinic, the nurse took one look at the massive size of it and said "Wow. I'll bet that was no fun to pass!" What I wanted to say was "Nah, it was a total party in my penis." What I actually said was "It was agony. It took two months, and I was having to travel most of that time." This got me a sympathetic nod, though I doubt she really understood.
And how could she? My days and nights spent in a pain-killer-induced haze while trapped in an airplane at 35,000 feet isn't easy to relate to unless you've done it. You're in agony, so you dope up on pills before the flight. Then you climb on board and pass out. All of a sudden you've landed in a strange city and have to figure out who you are and what you're doing there.
This is particularly scary when the strange city you find yourself in is your home town.
Of all the shopping experiences to be found online, Amazon is probably my favorite. They just seem to get everything right.
Which is why I was shocked to find that they could fail so badly.
I went to purchase a gift certificate as a "thank-you" gift, and was given these three options:
I decided to go with the email gift card, because it would be delivered immediately, and that way I wouldn't have to send a separate email with my thanks. Amazon would take care of two birds with one stone. Easy.
But not really.
After four hours, I had not received a confirmation that the gift had been sent. So I logged into my account only to find it had NOT been sent. Wondering if I had missed something, I went back to the gift card section to verify that I had read what I thought I read...
So I wrote to Customer Service asking them if they knew what "immediate" meant, and eventually get a reply...
Greetings from Amazon.com.
Please accept our apologies for the slight delay in processing your order.
It is always important for us to hear how customers react to all aspects of shopping at Amazon.com.
Due to the amount of your gift card order, we need to manually obtain authorization from your bank for processing this transaction.
We expect to send your gift card order shortly.
We will of course send you our usual e-mail confirmation to let you know when the order has been sent.
The amount of the gift card was $200. Not a tiny amount, sure, but they make it sound as if I was sending Fort Knox. This kind of pissed me off, so I fired back a reply...
Slight delay?!? It's been SIX HOURS now and my email gift card which was promised for "immediate delivery" has STILL not been sent!
I'd say the gap between "Immediate" and "Six Hours" is a lot more than a "slight delay."
This is very disappointing, especially considering I wrote to Customer Service with the problem and nothing has been done to remedy it. I sure hope you change the wording on your gift cards from "Immediate Delivery" to something else, because "immediate" is a gross exaggeration of reality.
"immediate: occurring, acting, or accomplished without loss or interval of time: instant."
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online
All this got me was yet another email telling me that the amount of my gift card would require 12-24 hours to process because they needed to get manual authorization from my bank before they can send it. From what I can tell, it took two days.
I was willing to overlook the problem, because it's possible the person designing the site didn't have the right information... but I emailed and told them it was wrong. They know there's bad information on their site. But when I go back to the gift card page at Amazon, it still says "immediate delivery" with no asterisk or disclaimer of any kind. They didn't correct the error. Apparently Amazon doesn't give a flying fuck that they are still lying to their customers.
And so... I guess won't be ordering from Amazon anymore, much as I like their site and service.
How can I, knowing that they deliberately lie to their customers?
After publishing a behind-the-scenes peek at how I created Avitable's Halloween Party shirt, I received a number of requests asking me to do something like that again. The problem is that the vast majority of the work I do outside Blogography simply can't be posted because of confidentiality agreements, copyright ownership, publishing royalties, and all kinds of other messy business. But every once in a while I get a fun assignment where the client doesn't mind me posting the details, so here we go again.
A while back, longtime Blogography reader Jon Whitby wrote asking if he could hire me to create a logo for the baseball team that his law-firm sponsors. Unfortunately, I was on my way to Dave York just then, but he was okay with waiting until I got back. There was a few days window before I had to get started on TequilaCon stuff, so the biggest hurdle... finding room in my schedule... had been cleared.
Corporate logo design is a long and complicated road that often involves numerous meetings and dozens of revisions. But fun logo design work like Jon was requesting is pretty straightforward. It was also fairly easy because he knew exactly what he wanted...
Two minutes of sketching, and this is what I had to start from...
A few tough spots became immediately apparent...
I ended up dropping the glasses and put some rounded eyes in there instead (I decided that I would create a second version with more menacing eyes, just in case I went a little too cartoony). My revisions set, I imported my sketch into Adobe Illustrator and drew a boundary circle to work around...
If you're interested in seeing what happens next, I've put the rest of the story (along with the finished design) in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
There are days I would give almost anything to have Pizza Hut delivery in my small town...
It's a heatstroke edition of Bullet Sunday!
• Weather. I wish I handled the heat better. As it is, Summer is a season of misery for me. My only consolation is that I handle the cold of Winter even worse. I'm still searching for a magical place where it's Springtime year 'round.
• EMS. It's National Emergency Medical Services Week this week! Many thanks to those who devote their lives to helping others...
• Hawkes. I'm freakish in that when I hear a song I immediately associate it with any movie or television it might have appeared in. While watching the latest episode of Graham Norton, Chesney Hawkes made a surprise appearance to sing his biggest hit The One and Only (which, so far as I know, was his one and only hit). This immediately made me want to grab my Doc Hollywood DVD off the shelf and watch it for the hundredth time (Chesney plays over the opening credits). I love cinema "comfort food"... those films you've seen so often that you can just melt away in them...
One of the (many) amazing things about this movie (other than seeing Julie Warner naked) is that Michael J. Fox was given his Parkinson's Disease diagnosis shortly before filming. He made the entire film after receiving about the worst news you could get health-wise, and yet you'd never know it. On top of being a good actor, he's a total professional. I wonder how many other Hollywood actors could have done the same?
• Courtesy. A couple months ago my credit card number was stolen and I had to cancel my card. My mobile service at AT&T didn't bother to contact me when they couldn't bill the old card... but they were absolutely kind enough to send me an email notifying me that I'm being turned over to collection when they failed two times in a row. I don't get it. Obviously they have me email address... why not notify me of the problem when they first ran into trouble? Why wait until it's a big mess before they do anything? This is stupid on a level of stupid that transcends stupid. It's almost as if they want their customers to fail to pay their bills. Maybe they like charging late payment fees? I dunno. Sure makes for incredibly shitty customer service though.
And now I'm going to go back to sitting on my air conditioner.
"I never meant to hurt you" she said as she turned and walked to the door. "I never meant to hurt anybody."
And she was gone.
A part of me wanted to believe her, but rational thought eventually triumphed. In truth, she probably didn't set out to hurt me. She just didn't care. That's all that really mattered, but my mind surged onward in hopes of finding deeper meaning where none existed. My hand instinctively wandered up to my chest in a sad attempt to feel if my heart were broken. Again. Breathing deeply now, all I feel is the scar tissue of past traumas. A little battered... a bit bruised perhaps... but life beats on.
Time passes yet I sit unmoving. Let the world run forward into its uncertain future, I will have none of it.
Here in the past I am safe.
This pain will heal. Eventually. Why should I seek out a new heartache to replace it?
Shouldn't I be more careful?
Shouldn't this be enough?
I wonder if that girl from the mini-mart is seeing anybody?
Dave's Crappy Life Journal — 1993
I hate Microsoft Windows.
I really, really, really, hate Microsoft Windows Vista.
And it's not because I'm a Mac Whore, or Bill Gates kicked my puppy, or I was attacked by Steve Balmer in a fit of monkey-induced rage... it's simply because Microsoft Windows Vista sucks ass. It is the steaming pile of shit upon which computer users beg for death. Every single time I use a PC running Vista, I have some kind of stupid problem which makes me enter a thermonuclear rage.
Fortunately, I don't have to use Vista very often. Otherwise, I would need to be institutionalized.
What pisses me off is that when Microsoft finally fixes their bullshit, I'm going to have to shell out more money to get the "Windows 7" upgrade. That is really fucked up. Microsoft should have to pay ME to upgrade as compensation for having to deal with their crap OS all this time...
To see all of the Lil' Dave Mac vs. Lil' Wayne PC ads, click here!
And speaking of PC (as in Political Correctness), what the heck is going on over at Comedy Central? This morning I wanted to check out clips from Russell Brand's upcoming DVD, so I went to their "video section." I got distracted by a new email while the video was buffering, only to see a black man dancing around while eating fried chicken when I clicked back to Comedy Central again. Horrified at such a racist stereotype being offered up as "comedy," I immediately clicked to a different video link.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
When you are following a car that's weaving down the middle of the road while going 10 miles under the speed limit... don't you owe it to society to run them off the road, rip off the car door, bitch-slap the driver really hard, then take a flamethrower to the whole mess?
If you agree, then would you please move into Chelan County right away? When my eventual trial comes up, it would be nice to have a jury of my peers who understand justifiable road rage. IF YOU OR YOUR VEHICLE IS INCAPABLE OF DRIVING THE SPEED LIMIT, THEN STAY OFF THE FUCKING ROAD!! All these people do is make things more dangerous for people who know how to drive.
Speaking of flame-throwers, I maintain that they are the solution to many of our problems, including PCs running Microsoft Windows Vista...
And now I think I will be going to bed extra early so I can attempt to forget this terrible day.
To see all of the Lil' Dave Mac vs. Lil' Wayne PC ads, click here!
I just don't "get" American Idol. I have never watched an episode, but every singer I can think of who has come from the show is total shit. Clay Aiken? Absolutely horrendously awful in every way. Crappy voice, heinous stage presence. Kelly Clarkson? BORING! She retreads through territory that we've seen a hundred times before, and her songs are gag-inducing. Taylor Hicks? I know he won because I heard about it when he was on Chelsea Lately... but I've never seen or heard him perform anywhere on anything. Ever. Big clue that he must suck ass. Jordin Sparks? The only thing I've heard from her was the complete destruction of Bon Jovi's Living on a Prayer. After that travesty, I have no desire to hear anything else she does. And that pretty much goes for anyone coming off American Idol.
And yet, everybody I know is just enraptured by the show. It's massively popular. So what am I missing?!? Since there was nothing on TV last night as I was flipping through channels, I decided to see what's up.
When I first dropped by, it was a bunch of horrendous singers butchering Santana's "Smooth"... WITH SANTANA!! It was positively mind-boggling. None of these people can sing!! None of them had any harmony with each other! It was borderline tragic how terrible they sounded. I was horrified that Santana was forced to endure such torture, and was hoping that he had somebody to watch over him that night because I worried he might try and hurt himself.
THEN, after escaping, I flipped back to see Steve Martin playing a freakin' BANJO while two truly bad singers were wailing over it with voices so grating that paint started peeling off my walls. The guy sounded like his vocal cords were being attacked by a feral badger, and the gal sounded like she was gargling a tone deaf rodent. AWFUL!!!
I couldn't take anymore and had to turn the channel to something with entertainment value... like Rush Limbaugh... but then my friend Meagan called and was squealing "OMG! YOU HAVE TO TURN BACK TO IDOL!! IT'S AMAZING!!!"
So I did, and there were a bunch of hideously untalented dudes "singing" Rod Stewart's Do You Think I'm Sexy in a "performance" that was so terribly off-key and badly harmonized that I was searching for a pencil to gouge my ears out. THEN... just as I was praying for death... an undead mummified corpse was rolled out with horrible hair and an embarrassing wardrobe to sing with them. Once I snapped out of my trauma-induce shock, I realized it was ROD STEWART HIMSELF and was scrambling for the remote so I could turn off the television before I went into a coma from the distress of watching poor Rod be humiliated anymore.
So, yeah... that was enough American Idol suckage for me. Any more, and I would have tried to saw my own head off.
And speaking of saws...
Poor PC... he really should have tried installing Linux before going to such extreme measures! Though Windows Vista makes me insane every time I use it, so I guess this shouldn't be too surprising.
To see all of the Lil' Dave Mac vs. Lil' Wayne PC ads, click here!
And before I go... knowing my love for all things Betty White, and my total man-crush on Ryan Reynolds, about twenty people forwarded me a link to this Funny or Die bit which features BOTH of them...
Even though I have zero interest in yet another Sandra Bullock romantic comedy, there is no way I can resist a movie which has both the incomparable Betty White and the hysterically funny Ryan Reynolds. Talk about can't-miss casting! And, much to my surprise, the trailer actually looks pretty good... I am SO there.
And now... it's off to a very full day of work. And drinking. Drinking to forget the horrors I witnessed on American Idol.
The big news blowing through the blogosphere today is former American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken blasting away at how much he thinks current American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert sucks ass. Personally, I don't give a crap, and think Clay Aiken is entitled to his opinion. But what's so odd is that the words Clay uses to talk smack about Adam ("contrived, awful, and slightly frightening") is exactly... exactly... how I would describe Clay. I've never heard him sing a damn thing that didn't make me wish my head would explode... or wish Clay Aiken would explode... or both. This is like the suck-infested pot telling the suck-infested kettle that he sucks. Or something like that.
And speaking of horrific infestation...
Yeah... Vista sucks ass and should have never been released in the first place, but instead of fixing it,* Microsoft is going to make you pay for an upgrade to Windows 7? What a crock of shit.
* And no, those Service Pack updates didn't solve nearly enough of my problems with Vista to make me consider it "fixed."
To see all of the Lil' Dave Mac vs. Lil' Wayne PC ads, click here!
On a happier note, I got an email from somebody who was very happy with my movie suggestion of Doc Hollywood this past Bullet Sunday, and wanted to know if I had any other "old movies" that I'd recommend. The film was released in 1991, which had me doing some serious reevaluation of what I consider to be an "old movie," but I did come up with two worth watching...
Creator (1985) Starring Peter O'Toole, Mariel Hemmingway, Vincent Spano, and Virginia Madsen. This movie was overlooked by most everybody and it's a real shame. Creator is a comedy with truly touching dramatic elements which has a lot to say about life, love, loss, and the science of it all. Peter O'Toole gives a fantastic performance as a brilliant but eccentric professor who's trying to clone his dead wife. It's definitely a level above your typical popcorn comedy, but oh so rewarding. Unfortunately, the DVD and iTunes versions are absolute shit... they butcher the film to crappy full-screen "pan-and-scan" which chops up the flow and framing of the film... but Flix is airing it in widescreen on the 26th at 12:05am Pacific (3:05am Eastern). If you get the Showtime/Flix channel package, you might want to set your TiVo, because this is probably the only way you're ever going to see this wonderful film unmolested.
Undercover Blues (1993) Starring Kathleen Turner, Dennis Quaid, Fiona Shaw, and Stanley Tucci. Another overlooked gem that's one of my favorite movies of all time. Spies Jeff and Jane Blue are on maternity leave to spend time with their new baby, starting with a vacation in New Orleans. But when a situation comes up having world-shattering consequences, they are back in action for one more case. Hilarity ensues. I think what I like best about this movie (other than the fantastic way they integrate New Orleans into the story) is that there are no wasted moments. The plot moves ahead at full-speed from frame one, and takes you for a ride that's never boring and always funny. Definitely worth your valuable time to track down and watch.
I've seen each of these films at least a dozen times, but just writing this makes me want to see them all over again.
Unfortunately, I have to go back to work instead.
Even though this is my blog and I should be able to write about whatever the hell I want, there are times that I don't write what's on my mind because people will just think I'm being a whiny little bitch. And they'd be mostly right. But who really wants to have people call them a whiny little bitch when they're being a whiny little bitch? Not me.
But today is Saturday, the first day of a three day holiday weekend, and hardly anybody will be reading my blog anyway, so here's me whining: This past Wednesday, Matt & Kim were playing in Seattle and I couldn't go! WAH!! To understand the depth of this tragedy, you have to understand just how much I love Matt & Kim...
On New Years Day 2007, I decided to go through the pile of mail that had been stacking up over the past month. In amongst the crap was a padded envelope from my friend Meagan containing a three CD's with a note on top. "Merry Christmas!" it said. "Except you don't celebrate Christmas, but that shouldn't stop you from getting awesome presents." One of the CD's was the self-titled debut album by Brooklyn grunge-punk-pop duo Matt & Kim. From the very first track, I was mesmerized. Here was a band that was playing their guts out in a way that I hadn't heard since the punk rock movement in the late 70's and early 80's. Just listening to them made me feel like I was discovering music again for the first time. In the years that followed, I could always count on Matt & Kim to cheer me up on even my worst days.
Their follow-up album, Grand, released this January, was even more amazing than the first. Somehow the band has managed to keep it's raw and amateurish flavor, but come up with a sound that's a little more polished and accessible. I've played the single Daylight so many times that it's melded with my soul...
I mean, just look at them! They love playing so much that they can't keep the smiles off their faces. Their enthusiasm is so contagious that it permeates their music and makes every song feel like nobody has ever done this before. And every time I see a photo from one of their concerts or a video from a live gig... believe you me, I want to see them live so badly it hurts...
I've come very close to seeing them nearly a half-dozen times. It's not hard, because they spend most of their lives touring. They're everywhere. And yet... I keep missing their shows. A friend called me Tuesday and said I should come to Seattle because they were playing Wednesday night, but I couldn't go. I've felt sick ever since. I can't get over it. I can't let it go. Missed opportunities. It's the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing to go through my mind when my head hits the pillow at night. Right now typing this entry I can barely keep from screaming as loud as I can until I pass out. Tonight they're playing in one of my favorite cities... Cologne Germany... and I'm not there. On Monday they're playing in Paris and I want to meet Laurence there and see it. On Tuesday they land in Amsterdam and I want to be there with The DutchBitch. On Thursday they're playing in Stockholm and I want to call up Göran, hop on a plane, and go. On Saturday, they're invading Oslo and I want to jet over, grab Karla, and see it. On June 1st, they're in London, and I want nothing more than to call up everybody I know in the city, cash in some frequent flier miles, and have a party at their show...
But here I sit.
And then this morning I noticed that they dropped an amazing new video for Lessons Learned back in April...
I hate it when I allow something stupid like missing a concert to ruin my life like this.
And yet, I just can't help it...
And lastly, words of profound wisdom from Matt...
"True success is health insurance."
If that doesn't sum up life in these United States of America, I don't know what does.
Free "Daylight" MP3 + Remixes from Green Label Sound.
Matt & Kim music at the iTunes Music Store.
It's Bullet Sunday to the rescue...
• Photograph. One of the projects I've been working on over the past three years is getting all my photos converted to a digital format so I can preserve them as non-degradable 1's and 0's for all eternity. Once I got off work this afternoon, I started combing through my collection of pictures and negatives to get another batch ready for scanning. With the additional 1,748 images I rounded up today, I'll be at roughly 75% of my photographed memories converted. It's an expensive ordeal, to be sure, but ultimately worth it. If, for no other reason, that I get to relive the good old days when I looked like an advertisement for 80's fashion gone terribly wrong...
• Remember. The down-side of rummaging through old memories is that you always run into people, places, and things that you'd just as soon forget. That's when the big decision of "to scan or not to scan" comes up. I don't know what it says about me, but 9 times out of 10, I choose not to have them scanned. 7 times out of 10, I destroy the originals. Some people would probably be horrified to hear this, believing that eventually you'll regret having gotten rid of the photos because you'll want to remember everything in your life... both good and bad. But try as I might, I cannot fathom being 90 years old and wanting to kick myself because I don't have a photo of some old girlfriend who screwed me over. How, exactly would that work? "Gee I wish I could remember what that lying, blood-sucking whore looks like." Uh huh... I don't think so. Some things really are best forgotten.
• Film. I still shoot film from time to time. There's a level of creativity, unpredictability, and danger that comes from throwing caution to the wind and using a chemical reaction to record an image. That being said, man what I wouldn't give to have had a digital camera back in the 80's and 90's when all these photos were taken! I don't really appreciate how amazing it is to be able to review a picture immediately after you've shot it until I see how many shitty photos I've got from back in those days. Over half of these shots would have been deleted or re-taken if only I knew they'd end up looking so bad. Oh well. I should be grateful that I had the relatively modern film technology I did (especially when compared to what came before it).
• Print. Back in the "film days," 100% of my photos were printed. Now-a-days, I'm guessing it's less than 5%. Most of the time I look at photos, it's on my computer. About the only time I have physical copies made is when I want to share them with friends and family who doesn't use a computer. This bothers me a little bit every time I think about it. Even though all my data is backed up very, very well... I still feel the need to have things in print for some reason. Maybe I'm just sentimental that way.
• Photoshop. Of course, one of the things I'm most looking forward to after getting all my photographs scanned is being able work some Photoshop magic on them. So many of the images can be dramatically improved by just small changes... erasing that person standing in the background... fixing the color balance... cropping out distractions... Photoshop makes it all so easy. A part of me thinks of this as "cheating" when I mess around with film images, but when it comes to my digital shots I don't give it a second thought. Perhaps it's because back in the "film days" you accepted that what you see is what you get when you press the shutter release. Whereas in the digital age, you take photos knowing you can change them. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, I haven't yet decided.
What I have decided is that it's time for bed. I get to sleep in tomorrow morning, and I don't intend on ruining that by staying up past midnight.
I've written, erased, rewritten, edited, restored, revised, and held this entry for entirely too long now.
This is abnormal for me, because I usually just hammer out an entry, post it, then forget it. It's my blog voicing my opinion and point of view, so I don't worry about the consequences of what I post. Most of the time, that's not a big deal because the stuff I do here is hardly incendiary. It's silly. It's fluff. It's useless crap. It's cartoons with monkeys in them. That doesn't stop people from finding something to bitch about, but there's simply nothing here that's worth getting that upset over.
But every once in a while an entry like this comes up where I actually have something to say.
These times require that I be very careful, because there's a real possibility that I'll write something in a way that can be misinterpreted or unintentionally inflammatory. I mean, let's face it, I'm a terrible writer who is barely able to construct a coherent sentence. That's why I use photos and cartoons to communicate most of the time.
So when I say that Paul Marx, professor of English emeritus at the University of New Haven can go fuck himself... you'll know that I really put some thought into it.
Because seriously? Fuck you, Paul Marx. Fuck you sideways you ignorant piece of shit.
To understand why I would verbally abuse a dumbass like the retired professor here, you have to know three things...
Now, there are many, many things about the "Viewpoint" article for me to get upset about. The author is writing out of ignorance and stupidity when it comes to POW/MIA issues, and has no grasp whatsoever when it comes to explaining what the POW/MIA flag means to people like me, or why we continue to fly it. Even worse, he presumes to speak for us with no attempt at perspective, and presents his personal opinions and interpretations as absolutes. My initial reaction as I read the piece was one of disbelief (I was NINE YEARS OLD when the war ended... his premise doesn't even make sense for somebody like me!). But, rather than going into a profanity-laden tirade, I was going to take a pass... partly out of respect for those who gave their lives for their country on this day set aside to remember them, but mostly because it's senseless to get too upset over somebody who can't grasp simple concepts (like friends and families of soldiers still missing wanting to know what happened to their loved ones).
But then I kept reading and got to a part which sent me into meltdown...
"It (the POW/MIA flag) continues to be flown mostly out of ignorance or indifference. But those who want it up see it as a protest against the outcome of the war. To them, the flag states that the war should have been fought until the North Vietnamese surrendered. If it took a nuclear bomb to attain that goal, that would've been OK."
This guy is a professor of English emeritus so I can only guess that, unlike myself, he knows how to construct a sentence in a way to get his meaning across. That his meaning is so detached from reality is unfortunate. That his meaning is presented as a statement of fact is what makes the guy such a fucking douchebag.
First of all, I do not promote POW/MIA causes or fly the flag out of ignorance. On the contrary, unlike Paul Marx, I have spent untold hours researching POW/MIA issues so that I can better help raise awareness of the plight of our missing soldiers and those seeking answers as to what happened to them. But, even more importantly, my eyes are wide open when it comes to working towards a full accounting of our servicemen and servicewomen who go missing in future conflicts. I mean, holy shit... don't they at least deserve that much? Are human beings so expendable and inconsequential to Marx that writing them off as victims of a "mistake" is what passes for "reason?" Perhaps if citizens show they are relentless about knowing what happens to our soldiers, governments will be more cautious in deploying them. George Santayana once said "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Part of the importance of flying the POW/MIA flag is so that WE NEVER FORGET! This can not be overstated... this issue is far bigger than a war fought 34 years ago in Vietnam. It is an issue that continues to be of critical importance today... and tomorrow.
Second of all, to imply that the POW/MIA flag is being flown out of "indifference" is a statement of sublime irony. People are indifferent because they haven't been educated. How can people be educated if we're just supposed to sweep something under the rug because some people (including our own government) find it inconvenient or unpleasant? It was Jesus who is recorded as saying "and the truth shall make you free"... but we don't know the truth. And when it comes to our POW/MIA's, we're never going to be free of the Vietnam War until there is a full accounting. Those of us who remember them will make sure of it for the sake of future generations. The very reason the POW/MIA flag must continue to be flown and promoted is precisely because of uneducated persons like Paul Marx.
And, lastly, saying that those who want the flag up (me) would be thrilled if the United States of America had nuked North Vietnam... well, that's where I lost it. It was at that point in the article where I could no longer contain myself, and dashed out four versions of this entry where I tore Paul Marx to pieces for being such a stupid fucking asshole. That I am still doing so after five progressively calmer entries just goes to show how bad of a writer I truly am.
But, whatever, the point is this...
Showing support for people who sign up to defend this country's citizens and freedoms with their lives does not automatically make me a warmongering psychopath that relishes the idea of unleashing a nuclear bomb on the population of an entire country.
Paul Marx truly is a raging fucktard if he cannot understand something so elementary, and there's really nothing more to say.
It's tough to know how to end something like this when you're all worked up and there's really nowhere to go but down, so I guess I'll just stop.
Because truly, honestly, and sincerely from the bottom of my heart... go fuck yourself Paul Marx. You say the POW/MIA flag is "a statement in favor of not caring about the other side's point of view, never acknowledging that there are human beings on the other side," but you seem to be forgetting that there are human beings on THIS side as well. That you so readily discount them undermines your entire argument, and has me seriously questioning your ability to form an educated opinion on anything (which, given your credentials, is more than a little disappointing).
Oh yeah... and fuck the Baltimore Sun for publishing such a piece of ignorant, disrespectful, and all-around screwed up piece of garbage on Memorial Day.
Sometimes people just get it all wrong...
Nobody should be treated differently because of how they're born. Whether it's because a person has blue eyes... or freckles... or is tall... or is short... or is gay... or whatever. That's how they were made, that's how they are, and that's how they're going to be. To punish somebody or treat them as a lesser person because of who they are is discriminatory, cruel, and not very human at all.
To pass a law that punishes somebody or treats them as a lesser person because of who they are is abhorrent.
By upholding an abhorrent law, The California Supreme Court weakened this country today. They are showing us a state divided into one group who has full rights because of how they were born... and another group who has lesser rights because of how they were born.
Time to stand together or fall apart.
Umm... yeah... where to start.
Somebody I haven't seen or spoken to in over fifteen years tracked me down and gave me a call. After pleasantries were exchanged, we started chit-chatting about the good-old-days. About ten minutes into the conversation a bomb was dropped that left me (literally) speechless. It turns out a mutual acquaintance of ours ran into some trouble which eventually snowballed way out of control. The tale had everything... passion... drugs... sex... crime... money... revenge. It was like a prime time soap opera... but with real people I actually know.
After several rounds of me saying "You're kidding, right?" and "No shit? Are you serious?!?" the conversation eventually wound down and we said our goodbyes.
Now, I've been around. I've seen and done a lot of cool stuff all over the globe. But my adventures positively pale in comparison to this guy. He not only lives life to the fullest, he kicks it in the testicles while doing so. Compared to him, I might as well be locked in a monastery somewhere.
I don't know why, but this bothers me.
It's not like I'm dying to trade places with him or anything... it's just that, for the first time in a long while, I'm feeling regret about some of the choices I've made. I'm looking back and thinking "my life would have been more interesting if I had only done things differently."
I suppose it's never too late to change course, but I'm just not wanting to do that at this point in my life.
Okay, maybe I do know why this bothers me.
Greetings from the Bat Cave.
There are so many of the little guys hanging around my neighborhood lately that it kind of feels like a Bat Cave. Every evening I crack my window open for some cool air and can hear them flapping around outside. I thought that bats were inaudible to humans, but I'm definitely hearing some kind of squeaking going on as well (I'm assuming it's not birds, because it's so dark out).
I love bats. In addition to being cute as hell, they eat insets by the bajillions... even a small bat can consume hundreds of mosquitos an hour. As if that wasn't enough, bats were the inspiration for one of the greatest super-heroes of all time: The Batman!
Cute baby fruit bats photo taken from a story at The Daily Mail
I mostly feel sorry for bats since they have an unwarranted reputation for spreading disease and sucking people's blood and stuff. Because of this, people try to kill bats and destroy their homes. That's really too bad, because bats are actually pretty harmless to humans. On the contrary, bats are so beneficial to have around that the Organization for Bat Conservation actually encourages people to purchase nifty bat houses.
Awww... it's kind of nice that they put a bat symbol on the outside so that bats know they're welcome to go inside and make themselves at home...
Bat-Jacuzzi is sadly not included
Sadly, many bats are in danger of becoming an endangered species because the places they live are being polluted or destroyed. As an important part of our ecosystem, this is bad news for both bats and humans.
But there's a way you can help! Become a member of Bat Conservation International. When you join up, you'll get a free subscription to BATS Magazine, a quarterly publication filled with cool photos and articles about our fuzzy, guano-producing friends.
There's nothing quite like being trapped in a room where the television "entertainment" is Live With Regis and Kelly. I had never seen it before, and was shocked... absolutely shocked... at how stupid it is. I have no idea if Kelly Ripa is just acting crazy, or if she's a raging crazy person in real life, but I'm dumbfounded as to why anybody would want to watch this show. After just five minutes I was hoping a fire would break out so I could escape. Unfortunately, I wasn't that lucky.
I managed to write a plea for help on the back of an envelope with a purple crayon, then tried to convince a cat to carry it to the outside world...
Alas, the cat would have none of it*, and so I had to sit there until my name was called.
I don't think I suffered any permanent damage, but I have experienced a few trauma-induced hallucinations where I see Regis Philbin standing over me with a bowl of red Jell-O. I'm not sure what to make of that.
But don't worry about me. Eventually I will be able to put the horror of Live With Regis and Kelly behind me and move on with my life.
Until then, I'm avoiding morning television. And Jell-O.
*The cat, having been exposed to Live With Regis and Kelly every weekday for years, seemed to be afflicted with a kind of psychosis. He wouldn't stop licking himself the entire time I was there... and was still doing so when I passed back through 20 minutes later. "Unclean! Unclean! Unclean! Unclean!"
I am hanging out with my sister and family for the weekend. This is a good thing, because we mini golfed and stuff!
Ultimate golf combo!!
Declaring victory after a hole-in-one.
TatOOOOOOsh! TatOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOsh!! Plus Fosters... it's Australian for beer!
I am so totally golfing here!
A couple of random things...
And now, I must bid your adieu. I have to get up entirely too early tomorrow.
*Assuming the child in question was drunk.
It's heatwave edition of Bullet Sunday!
• Hot. It's eighty-eight degrees Fahrenheit outside.
• Hotter. I am guessing it's ninety-eight degrees Fahrenheit inside... because the air conditioner is broked. I try to compensate by eating ice cream and drinking ice water, but it's just not happening. All that does is make me realize how bloody miserable I am when I stop.
• Up. I saw Pixar's latest animated miracle, Up, and found it to be scrumtrelescent.
• Upper. Seriously, Up is one of the most beautifully animated spectacles ever made. That wouldn't be saying much if the story sucked, but this is Pixar, so the story is genius as usual. Crotchety old widower Carl Fredricksen decides to have the adventure of a lifetime by tying thousands of balloons to his house and floating to South America. Unfortunately, an overly-helpful and annoying Wilderness Scout named Russell accidentally gets taken along for the ride. Hilariousness ensues. I don't know if Up displaces Monsters, Inc. and The Incredibles as my favorite Pixar movie... but it comes darn close. I'd call the film "flawless" except I did have two small problems and one bigger problem with it. To avoid spoiling things, I've dropped that in an extended entry.
• Twitter. I already feel as though Twitter is a massive waste of time... especially when things like "blip.fm" get involved and people are tweeting every frickin' song they listen to (Why should I care about your bad taste in music? Do people actually click on blip.fm links?). Or, even worse, those who live-tweet television shows and sporting events. Why would I want to read tweets about something I don't even want to watch? Or, if I am watching, I ALREADY KNOW WHAT'S HAPPENING AND DON'T NEED TO READ ABOUT IT! Factor in other annoyances like re-tweets, private conversations, and Follow Friday (SERIOUSLY, IF I WANT TO KNOW WHO YOU FOLLOW, I'LL VISIT YOUR FOLLOWERS PAGE!)... and Twitter is mostly noise anymore (don't even get me started on blog post announcements which announce posts that I've ALREADY READ from a webfeed subscription). Bleh. I wish I wasn't so addicted to Twitter. My life would be a lot simpler.
• Twitterer. But now the ultimate Twitter annoyance has struck... TWITTER GAMES! I keep getting "SpyMaster" invitations, and it's only a matter of time before "Mob Wars" invades. This may very well be the last straw for me. If I can't find a Twitter client that gives me the ability to filter out all the distracting shit that is clogging up my feed, I may just give up. Or unfollow a couple hundred people.
And now I really need to catch up on some sleep. If you've already seen Up, and want to read me nit-picking over this excellent movie, that's in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Given my genius-level intelligence, it should come as no surprise that I like the mental workout provided by the game show Jeopardy. The questions are always fairly tough at the higher dollar amounts, and I only manage to answer Final Jeopardy correctly half the time. This kind of challenge is what makes the show so much fun.
It is my understanding that every contestant on the show has been tested for a good knowledge of trivia and overall smarts. This is wise, because the competition wouldn't be much fun if the contestants were all idiots.
Unfortunately, the "smarts" they test for must not include basic math skills.
I am beginning to lose track of the number of times I've watched an otherwise smart person fuck up and lose everything during their Final Jeopardy wager because they couldn't add properly. They'll write down the wrong number for some dumb reason, answer the question correctly, LOSE, and then poor Alex Trebek has to explain to them that they're a moron.
Even worse are the "Daily Double" questions, where a contestant can double their wager if they answer correctly. You regularly see people who bet some pathetic amount when they are in last place, even though they should have risked it all so they could stay in the game.
It's sad, really.
If it were ME running Jeopardy, and some dumbass decided to wager $100 when they're so far behind that their only chance is to wager everything they have... well, my reaction would be a lot different from Alex Trebek's kindly smile and condescending banter...
Because, seriously, nobody that frackin' stupid deserves to be on Jeopardy... they spoil it for everybody.
And by "everybody" I mean "me."
Oh well. New episodes of Burn Notice start tomorrow! So very soon now I won't have to rely on game shows to see something new on TV.
I can't wait.
When it comes to avatars, I like photographs best because you can put a face to what somebody wrote. So even though I think Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey would make better avatars for me, I always bite the bullet and upload a photo of myself.
Unlike SOME people (ahem, ahem, ahem, ahem, ahem, ahem, ahem, ahem, ahem, ahem... etc. etc... YOU know who you are!).
This is my default avatar...
Whenever I sign up for a new social media site or online service or user forum or whatever, that's what I use. It's fairly current, doesn't look too hideous, is perfectly square, reduces well, and is stored on my desktop so it's ready to go at a moment's notice.
And most of the time it's fine because I don't use those kind of sites very often.
But Twitter is a service I use every day, several times a day. Whatever photo I use on Twitter is something I see constantly. Consequently, I get bored with my avatar after a while and am compelled to change it. To keep track of the photos I've used, I put copies in a folder. Today, I changed avatars again, and noticed that folder is getting quite full. Turns out I've used 21 different images for Twitter so far...
Meh. Perhaps one of these days I'll find myself an avatar I like well enough to keep for a while.
But before I go... while puttering around the internet today, I found this to be very cool and this to be totally reprehensible.
I am planning an escape. Who's with me?
It is thundering so loud the windows are shaking. It's a nice compliment to the rain pounding on the roof. I have no idea where this weather came from, but I kind of like it. Except for the temperature, which is stuck at 92° and way too hot for my tastes.
I'm not much of a Sims "life simulation" fan, but decided to buy The Sims 3 for my iPhone anyway. It'll give me something to do when I'm next stranded at the airport. It's surprisingly good. Shockingly good even. They made it a much bigger world that I'd have thought for an iPhone app. If I ever have time to play with it, I think it will be a lot of fun...
Creating a Dave2 Sim... He's geeky hot, like Alfalfa minus the rooster-tail.
Dave2 Sim Trying to Stay Clean... And, yes, I shower with my boxers on.
Dave2 Sim is Chatting Up the Ladies... How you doin'??
Dave2 Sim Around Town... Looking for a bank to rob.
Three days until I leave town. I'd best try to get some work done before I go...
I am pretty much clueless when it comes to rhetorical questions.
I just thought I'd put that out there. This way, if we ever meet, there won't be an uncomfortable moment for you when you say "How are you?" and I respond with a ten minute dissertation on that strange burning sensation when I urinate. Or when you say something like "Why me?" and I give you a lecture on how God really doesn't like you very much, and your current plight is probably because The Almighty is punishing you for all that sinful masturbation.
It's a tragic character flaw, but at least now I know that I have a problem with rhetorical questions.
There was once a time that I was clueless about being clueless about rhetorical questions.
But all that changed one day thanks to my friend Oliver.
Olver is a very cool, very British, former co-worker who is incredibly fond of saying "Well that's not right, now is it?" when faced with a situation gone wrong. He says it constantly. There'd be a pickle on his sandwich when he asked for no pickle... "Well that's not right, now is it?" A print-out would be smeared with ink... "Well that's not right, now is it?" A woman with an unfortunate haircut would walk by... "Well that's not right, now is it?"
With most people, this would be annoying as hell, but when spoken with Oliver's posh English accent it never got old.
Apparently what was annoying was my constantly answering Oliver whenever he said "Well that's not right, now is it?"
Because one day when Oliver said "Well that's not right, now is it?" after the wrong text was placed in a document... I replied with "No, it most certainly isn't right!" and Oliver shot back with "THAT WAS A BLOODY RHETORICAL QUESTION! OF COURSE I KNOW IT'S NOT RIGHT!!!"
All I could say was "Oh, sorry!" and admit to myself that I have a problem.
This was only reinforced today when I was getting help at the drugstore and a very smelly woman waiting behind me mumbled "How much longer is this going to take?" Apparently I was asking too many questions about the right kind of splint to buy for my sprained finger.
Given my smart mouth, I really shouldn't have answered that particular rhetorical question...
Last Saturday I was wandering through beautiful sun-drenched parks, playing mini-golf, drinking Jäger shots, and eating really bad Mexican food.
This Saturday I spent every last minute inside a dark room glued to a glowing computer screen, desperately trying to get caught up with work before I have to leave on Monday.
If there's a better example of karma in action, I don't know what it would be...
More of the same. More of the same.
Sometimes, one is all it takes...
I don't know what it is about me, but I sure do attract the crazies.
Probably because I am a crazy, which I haven't ruled out.
It doesn't matter where I go on this planet, I always seem to end up in some kind of messed up situation with my fellow humans. I've been attacked by a drunken knife-weidling moron in Seattle. I've been chased five blocks by a crack-head in Cleveland who wanted my phone. I've been felt up by gypsies trying to find my wallet in Rome. I've been mugged at gun-point by a psychopath in San Francisco who talked to himself. The list goes on and on. Ask Vahid about the time we were walking down the street in Albuquerque and was accosted by a spaced-out "purebred Italian Mexican" who wanted to have his fellow alcoholics kick our asses... everywhere I end up, the crazies come running.
Tonight, after going to the movies and watching The Hangover I was walking to Johnny Rockets for dinner when another one came out of the woodwork...
Homeless Guy: Hey have you got any change... a nickel... anything?
Dave2: (looking up at him from his iPhone) No, sorry, I don't have any cash at all (looks back down at his iPhone).
Homeless Guy: Hey! What were you thinking just now?
Dave2: (looking back up) Err... I was thinking I don't have any change on me...
Homeless Guy: (getting angry for no reason) No. NO! What were you THINKING when YOU first saw ME?!?
Dave2: I was thinking "Why is this asshole being so RUDE to me when I'm trying to be NICE?"
Homeless Guy: I WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU WERE THINKING!!
Dave2: WELL, RIGHT NOW I'M THINKING "FUCK OFF!" SO WHY DON'T YOU LEAVE ME ALONE?
He was still calling "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?" after me as I was crossing the street. And I still don't know what I did to set him off. I treated him with courtesy and respect. I looked him in the eye when I spoke to him. I was as nice as I could be when I explained I didn't have any cash, but it didn't make any difference. I dunno... maybe there's something about me that makes people crazy. That would explain a lot.
And it didn't end there... after dinner I was crossing the street and some guy with a tourist map wants my help. I thought he was going to ask for directions, so I stopped. Instead he told me that he picked his mother up from Swedish Hospital after surgery, and now he doesn't have enough money for gas to get her home. This made no sense at all, because he was downtown when Swedish is up on First Hill, but I guess I have to give him the benefit of doubt since he seemed to be lost. In any event, I'm guessing his mother is stuffed in a car somewhere on the side of the road after surgery, and this makes me sad. If I actually had any money, I probably would have given him a couple bucks, even though this goes against my beliefs of causing no harm.
In any event, it was nice to just be alone for a while after such an exhausting day. It doesn't hurt that The Hangover was such an awesome movie. Most comedies today take some stupid joke and then repeat it to death until the entire movie is run into the ground. The Hangover was refreshingly different. They never let the funny get repetitive or stale, so I was laughing all the whole way through. That almost never happens anymore. Kudos to writers Jon Lucas & Scott Moore, director Todd Phillips, and a fantastic cast and crew for a job well done. A particularly well-deserved shout-out to Bradley Cooper, who took an annoying character that would have driven me insane in most any other movie, and made him totally watchable and brilliant. I liked Cooper in Alias, loved him in Kitchen Confidential, and have been pleasantly surprised at his appearances in movies like Wedding Crashers... I hope he gets more leading roles out of his home-run performance in The Hangover.
And now I should probably call it a night. Tomorrow is a very long day.
I had such a great time watching The Hangover at the movies last night, that I was planning on seeing a different film tonight. All day long I've been looking forward to it. But as the day became night... the exhaustion set in and suddenly none of the movies seemed good enough for me to make the effort. Terminator: Salvation was almost there, but I've read too many shitty reviews to risk it sucking. I guess I could have seen Star Trek for the third time but, given how tired I am, twice was good enough. Instead I walked to Johnny Rockets for yet another amazing vegetarian burger, then headed back to the hotel so I can blog and get ready for work tomorrow. My life is so exciting right now.
Work doesn't seem to be moving very quickly on the new Hard Rock Cafe in Seattle. It looks the same as it was months ago. Maybe they're just working on the inside where you can't see it right now...
Given what a colossal Hard Rock whore I am, I'm understandably excited about the new cafe. My biggest worry was that Seattle would get a shitty property, but the artist sketch from the Official Hard Rock Cafe website looks fantastic...
They're taking a classic old building and turning it into something special, which is what the best Hard Rocks do. They've also got a great spot... just one block from the Pike Place Market entrance. Hopefully it will do well so the location can stay open for a while... I'd be heartbroken if the cafe I've been waiting over two decades for shuts down after only a year or two. That would suck worse than never having one at all.
I just hope the guitar is right-side up on the finished building. It looks really funny up-side down in that sketch.
But what I REALLY hope that the baby in the room across the hall will settle down eventually. It's been screaming almost non-stop for THREE HOURS now. I need sleep tonight!
Tonight I had to eat at McDonalds for dinner because it was the only thing open once I got back from a high school graduation ceremony. Dinner at McDonalds sucks ass for vegetarians because about all we can eat is French fries and an apple pie. That would be awesome if I was 16, but now it just guarantees a night of gastroenterological distress.
This is the first graduation ceremony I've been to in over 20 years and nothing has changed. As I was listening to the cheesy speeches with all the appropriate empowerment buzzwords ("BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!"), it occurred to me that if you took every student graduation speech from every school in the USA and analyzed them, they'd all have the exact same words... just shuffled around in a different order. I suppose that there is only so many ways you can say "THE FUTURE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT!" which is going to make any kind of sense.
Oh well. Congratulations to the Class of 2009! If you made it to graduation, you managed to limit your drug and alcohol use enough to pass the sub-standard requirements from our failing education system... so best of luck to you!
Meanwhile, the pussification of America continues...
I learned something at graduation that disturbs me greatly. The school had co-principals. The class had co-presidents. I'm guessing the cheerleading squad had co-captains and the football team had co-quarterbacks. Remember when there was a winner and a loser and that was it? It was just like life. Except now it's co-everything because striving for mediocrity is the best we can do. "Co-President" and "Co-Principal" is so much easier than having a subordinate "Vice President" and "Vice Principal" because responsibility is divided up and pushed around so nobody loses.
The buck no longer seems to stop anywhere.
I don't know what this bodes for the future, but it can't be good.
I have a pile of work that won't go away. I have 138 unread messages in my email in-box. I have hundreds of unread blog posts. I even have a box of Junior Mints that is only half-finished... when am I supposed to find time to do all that stuff?
Probably after I drive home on Sunday.
But I'm not counting on it.
Every day when I pull into work, a cat jumps onto the hood of my car and attempts to break in. I like him, and have named him Psycho Cat because he never blinks... he just sits there and stares at you with crazy eyes. This morning he ran all around my car looking for a way inside. Eventually he was smart enough to stand on the door, apparently knowing that I had to open it sometime...
At this point he hopped on my lap and demanded to be petted.
Since I am going to a conference tomorrow morning and a graduation party tomorrow night, I decided to make time for a haircut after work. Fortunately, I'm in Seattle, which has my favorite place to get a haircut ever, Zero Zero...
I don't usually endorse businesses on my blog, but this is the coolest place for hair I've found, and the icing on the cake is that they're pretty darn affordable for a full-service salon (my cut was only $25!). But don't take my word for it, read all the rave reviews on Yelp! If you're in Seattle and looking for a stylist, you might want to give Zero Zero a try.
Since it's almost midnight, I suppose I should try to get some sleep.
Work, email, blogs, and Junior Mints will have to wait until tomorrow.
HA HA HA HA!
I lie. I am so totally going to finish off those Junior Mints now...
It's getting to the point that I can't stand to attend public functions because there's bound to be people there.
And most people suck.
Today I attended a conference with other people and came very close to having to kill them all. It started with the dumbass who came in late then sat next to me eating an apple. I didn't pay good money to attend this shit so I could listen to an asshole chomp an apple while somebody is speaking. Then I nearly had to kill the two idiots behind me who were talking the entire time. And don't get me started on the bitch wearing fifty bracelets who was clanking and jingling every time she moved... which was often, because she was taking notes and flipping her hair every ten seconds.
It's this kind of inconsiderate bullshit that causes me to become homicidal. People PAY to attend conferences so they can learn stuff. But you can't learn stuff when you can't hear anything because people won't shut the fuck up and stop being a distraction.
It makes me want to hold my own conferences.
With an attendance of just one person... ME!
Unfortunately, the fee to attend such a conference would be a lot more money than I got.
Psycho Cat sez...
The good news is that once I blow this popsicle stand, I'm off to my sister's house.
It's party time.
Originally, I wasn't going to be able to attend ConFab in beautiful Lexington, Kentucky because I had previous plans. But eventually everything came together and I flew out of Seattle last night at 10:30pm, arriving at LEX around 10:30am this morning (via Detroit). It was a very, very long night with practically no sleep (which is why I am so very grateful to Mr. Shiny for picking me up at the airport!).
But it was all worth it, because Brad and Turnbaby truly outdid themselves, and a fantastic group of fun people turned up for the party. I had a great time, and once again was amazed at the kind, funny, generous, entertaining, wonderful people you can meet in the blogosphere.
I decided to wear my pirate shirt, which was accompanied by hair styling from Miss Britt and eye makeup from Hilly-Sue. Being a pirate kicked up my innate* hotness up to eleven, and my customized drinking cup completed the ensemble...
Now, according to Twitter, I had sex with everybody at the party and snorted heroin off of Karl's ass. This is a bit of an exaggeration.
So far as I know, the only person who got any pussy tonight was Hilly-Sue...
And now, since I have to fly back home in the morning and it's already 2:30am, I suppose I should get some sleep.
Or at least try to.
*And by "innate" I obviously mean "nonexistent."
Yargh. I have to get ready for my flight back to Seattle, so I suppose this will have to be a quickie Bullet Sunday!
• My Happiest Moments at ConFab... That would be all the people showing me they had the Ask Dave! app installed on their iPhone. Somebody (sorry, I don't remember who!) suggested that I do one of my "Behind the Scenes" entries about the app, which is a great idea. I'll try to find time for that later this week.
• My Scariest Moment at ConFab... That would be when Becky whipped a knife out to cut apart the tattoos. Note to self: Becky is totally prepared to cut a bitch for reals, so it is probably best not to piss her off...
• My Ego-Crushing Moment at ConFab... That would be when Hilly-Sue went around dubbing people cool enough to hang out with her. ..
I was never dubbed cool enough. =sob!= I choose to believe it's because I am so totally awesome that such a thing would be redundant.
• My Best Conversation at ConFab... Somebody had remarked that they wanted to use Karl's picture of his ass as their iPhone desktop background because it says "kiss it!," and they could flash it as needed to people who piss them off. Oddly enough, since Karl took the photo with his iPhone, it's perfectly sized...
Later that evening...
(POLICE CAR SIREN GOES BY)
DAVE: Quick, hide the drugs!
GUY ACROSS THE DECK: We have drugs?
DAVE: I think somebody brought heroin, but they forgot the surgical tubing so nobody got to shoot up.
HILLY-SUE: We could just snort it.
DAVE: But this table has holes in it! (it was wire patio furniture).
HILLY-SUE: Use your iPhone!
DAVE: But then I'd be snorting heroin off of Karl's ass!
The Twitter stream is even better...
My Coolest Moment at ConFab... That would be watching Mr. Shiny belt out Meredith Brook's "Bitch" during karaoke and totally owning it...
• My Most Uncomfortable Moment at ConFab... That would be the massive bathtub in my hotel room at the DoubleTree Suites. I suppose it's cool if you were going to start up the whirlpool bath, but taking a shower in it is a very lonely experience...
Hmmm... that doesn't really show how huge this thing is. Here's a baby elephant in that same tub...
And here's the Statue of Liberty...
• My Greatest Thing To Happen That Wasn't at ConFab... That would be this past week when Betty White appeared on Jimmy Fallon and ended up playing beer pong with him. It only confirms that Betty White is one of the coolest people on earth...
And now I supposed I should iron a shirt and take a shower or something. Goodbye Kentucky!
It was just another one of those days of trying to contain a bunch of shit before it hits the carpet...
I'm holding a Twitter contest!
Prepare yourself to win a fabulous prize package worth nearly FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS!!!
That's right... none of this lame-ass "Win an iPhone" bullshit that's being Re-Tweeted every five minutes... I'm giving away FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS in prizes! Just look at the cool stuff you can win...
A GULFSTREAM G550 JET! ($45,000,000 value)
A PAIR OF 2009 FERRARI SCUDERIA F430s! ($600,000 value)
AN ALL-EXPENSES-PAID AROUND-THE-WORLD CRUISE! ($80,000 value)
FOUR MILLION DOLLARS IN GOLD! ($4,000,000 value)
TOTAL PRIZE VALUE: $49,680,000!!!
Here's all you have to do to enter...
And that's it! Best of luck to everybody who enters!*
Because I am so fucking sick and tired by all this stupid contest crap that is taking over everybody's favorite social media distraction.
When you fire up Twitter, it asks you one question: "What are you doing?
And, in the beginning, that's what people used Twitter for... quick little updates to let people know what they were up to in-between blog posts. But, like all things, Twitter inevitably evolved. Soon people were using it to say "good morning," ask questions, get advice, post photos, say random shit, and much more. Then Twitter abuse started happening. People started broadcasting personal conversations (even though that's what Direct Messages and Email are for). People started posting when their blog is updated (even though that's what a webfeed is for). People started selling shit (even though that's what eBay is for). And people even started... God help us... Twittering all the songs they listen to with "blip.fm" (even though that's what Last.fm is for). Then came the abomination known as SpyMaster. And so-on and so-on. People rarely say what they're doing anymore.
But the worst was yet to come.
Now companies (and even individuals) are holding contests. Usually for an iPhone. These contests require you to "Re-Tweet" their blog URL or some other annoying spam-like shit that clogs up the service and flushes it even further down the crapper of uselessness than it already is. As more and more people hop on the Twitter contest bandwagon, it's only going to get worse. I anticipate that pretty soon I'll be longing for the "good ol' days" when people were just blip.fm-ing every frickin' song they're listening to instead of re-Tweeting every damn contest that pops up.
I suppose it's just par for the course. The web was ruined when assholes started adding pop-ups and other annoying crap. Email was ruined when assholes started sending spam and unsolicited crap. It was only a matter of time before the assholes ruined Twitter with their contest-spam crap.
Oh well. So long as companies can count on Twitter users whoring their shit for one-in-a-million prize-winning odds... it's the cheapest way to advertise, and probably ain't going away any time soon.
* Prizes do not include taxes, duties, fees, delivery, or any other supplemental costs.
I'm not here today. I'm blogging over at Anissa's place...
UPDATE: Just in case something goes missing, I'm copying my guest post in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Before I left for Seattle last week, I sprained my right-hand ring finger. Not only did it hurt like hell, but I am having to wear a splint on it for the next couple months to avoid getting a mallet finger. Next week I'm hoping to find time to visit the doctor and make sure I don't need surgery or physical therapy (which would make a sucky situation even suckier).
But why stop there? On Tuesday I pulled a muscle in my back. About the only thing I can do to avoid pain is to lay flat and not move. This is highly impractical, because driving a car requires one to sit up. And so I spend my days doped up on pain-killers while attempting to find a sitting position at my desk which won't bring me to tears.
But why stop there? This morning as I was attempting to get into my car with as little back-trauma as possible, I smacked the side of my head into the door frame. The hit was so hard that I fell into my seat stunned and seeing stars. Suddenly my back didn't feel quite so bad. Something tells me that this is a headache that will be around for a few days.
But why stop there? Limping along with my splinted finder, aching back, throbbing head, and in a pain-killer-induced haze, I managed to step wrong on my foot tonight while climbing stairs. So now I've got a sprained left ankle as well.
Well, I've still got hips that are in pretty good shape, so I'm guessing I'll be run over in the street tomorrow morning so I can get me a fractured pelvis.
If everything happens for a reason, I'm sure there's some kind of master plan at work here.
Or I'm being tortured.
Either way, I'm assuming that I've got a rough couple of weeks ahead of me.
The new iPhone 3GS dropped today and my inner Mac-whore is mortified that I'm not getting a new Apple product on release day. The good news is that I'll be getting one next week instead of two months from now thanks to AT&T's generous eligibility revision for early iPhone 3G adopters.
At first I was seriously considering skipping the latest version, but the better camera (with video!) and speed improvements ultimately won me over. A part of me wants to be thrilled at the new digital compass feature (which will show you which way you're facing in Google Maps), but since the GPS unit in iPhone sucks ass, I'm trying not to get my hopes up.
Given how often I use my iPhone and how much I rely on it when traveling, buying the latest model seemed a wise investment.
As if this wasn't enough, it appears that Steve Jobs is returning to Apple as scheduled.
Apple whores rejoice!
To see all of the Lil' Dave Mac vs. Lil' Wayne PC ads, click here!
Some days, it doesn't matter how fast you are, trouble somehow manages to catch up.
It's yet another Bullet Sunday on Monday extravaganza! A happy belated Father's Day to everybody.
• Bedridden. Yesterday I finally got around to doing what I should have done when I wrecked my back last week... I stayed in bed all day in an attempt to let it heal up a bit. This was a last resort, because I'm so buried in work that I can't see daylight, but I think it was worth it. I managed to get some sleep, and this morning was the first time I haven't woken up in agony. If only I could get paid for staying in bed all day.
• Finger. While my ankle and head are back to normal, my finger will be messed up for at least two months. According to Google, the only treatment is to keep it in a splint at all times so that it can heal straight. Luckily, the human brain can adapt to new situations fairly quickly. I'm typing at almost full-speed because my middle and pinky fingers have taken over the keys my mangled finger used to type. About the only time I feel handicapped is when I write or draw because the splint gets in the way. I've ordered a "new & improved" splint which is smaller and more hi-tech, so hopefully that will help. I'm tired of people thinking I'm "special" when I try to sign my name.
• Alice. The first images from Tim Burton's live-action adaptation of Alice in Wonderland are burning up the internet, and with good reason... they look amazing. Rich and vibrant with a kind of dark and twisted slant, I can only hope that this is indicative of how Burton is approaching the material, because it's genius...
• Typographical. Knowing my interest in Scotland, my dad let me borrow his copy of Scotland by Magnus Magnusson. The book itself is a pretty good read, but every time I pick it up I want to toss it in a wood-chipper. Can you guess why?
It's the idiotic lettering in the book title! This is Magnusson's master work on "SCOTLAND," but the title reads more like "SC O TL A ND" because whomever is responsible for the design of the cover doesn't know how to kern type...
What a shame. Just ten seconds of futzing to even out the spacing gives a much easier read with Scotland AS ONE WORD...
Tragic disrespect for type is all around us, and it drives me bat-shit insane. The latest travesty is the re-branding of Microsoft's "Live Search" to the even more stupidly-named "bing." Ultimately, I don't give a crap what Microsoft wants to call it... but there's nothing so compelling about their search engine that's going to have me switch from saying "Google That Shit!" to "Bing That Shit!" (or whatever). No... what pisses me off is that whomever designed the logo decided to stretch it out to ridiculous lengths...
The grotesque distortion of the letterforms looks absurd. A good take on the horror of it all can be found over at Brand New.
• Lastly, because everybody needs a boost (but mostly because Brian Papa told me to), I'm passing along a new site to check out called CheerUpNation...
And now I suppose I'd better get up so I can get ready for work. Fun and excitement await...
"Where is the love for Aquaman?" Bad Robert exclaimed, his voice choked with emotion.
"Er... what?" I replied, totally not understanding (as usual).
"Well, now that you've drawn a DaveToon Flash, you're just an Aquaman short of The Super Friends there on your blog!" Robert shouted, clearly upset. "Well, there's Robin too... but nobody gives a crap about Robin. Hell, you even drew Apache Chief before Aquaman, and that guy was just a guest star!"
"Ah, I see. I'll get right on that!" I shouted back... still not sure of what he meant.
When I got off work I took a look and, sure enough, Bad Robert was right. Here are the original Super Friends (sans The Boy Wonder... Wow, I guess nobody really DOES care about Robin!)...
And here are the DC super-heroes I've drawn up as Davetoons so far...
Hmmm... I wonder if Bad Robert would settle for Gleek, the super-stupid space monkey?
Oh how I hated Gleek and the equally idiotic "Wonder Twins" messing up the show ("FORM OF AN ICE CUBE!"). Why is it that all the cartoons I had growing up felt the need to insert side-kicks and stupid animals when none were needed?
Oh well, I guess it was better than nothing.
As the train wreck that is Governor Sanford unfolded in the media today, I made a few smart-assed remarks on Twitter because I just love it when hypocritical assholes get burned. Especially hypocritical assholes who pushed for impeaching Clinton when it was his dick that ended up where it shouldn't have been. And when you consider that Sanford not only used taxpayer money to get himself a mistress, but he is also an opponent of same-sex marriage because he apparently feels it defiles traditional marriage... well, it's a trifecta of schadenfreude bliss when he goes on television and admits to having an extramarital affair.
The Twitter stuff was nothing too outrageous, just snippy comments like...
Not a big deal, but it was enough to compel somebody on Twitter to send me a Direct Message telling me that my "attacks" were far worse than anything Sanford has done.
The big difference being that I don't go around condemning people for how they live their lives, then turn around and do that same shit. So, while I certainly sympathize with Sanford's family, that doesn't make the Governor any less a hypocritical asshole.
In similar news... suck it Perez Hilton. It's not that I am advocating violence, but when you make a living writing hateful things about people all day long... well, you reap what you sow.
In completely different news... I finally found time to unbox my new iPhone 3GS. To be honest, I don't consider it to be a critical hardware upgrade from the iPhone 3G. But I decided to go for it anyway because I find myself using the camera feature far more often than I ever thought I would, and the 2G/3G camera sucks major ass. Fortunately, the 3GS camera is far, far better. For one thing, it can do macro (close-up) photography very well...
Compare that to the total shit that you get from the 2G/3G camera...
But the thing I love most about the new 3GS camera is that you not only get selective one-tap focus... you can also choose where the camera meters the exposure. This is a massively huge improvement because it makes the camera is actually useful now.
In this scene, I tapped the bright white sign as the focus/exposure point to force a darker shot...
This time, I tapped the train in the background as the focus/exposure point to force a brighter shot...
By tapping around the scene for a medium value, I could get exactly the exposure I want. This is a far cry from the shitty 2G/3G camera which consistently shoots everything as murky and dark unless the lighting is perfect.
Finally, FINALLY, I have a viable camera with me at all times that I can rely on for decent photos! In addition, you can shoot and edit video with the 3GS... a nice bonus that I probably won't use much. There are also a few other new features, but unless you are wanting a better camera like I did, I don't know that it's worth the cost to upgrade.
Unless you're a government official and can pay for the upgrade using taxpayer money. An upgrade is always worth it when somebody else is paying.
Michael Jackson has died. I was not a big fan.
It's not that his music (hee!) was bad or that his songs sucked... it's just that (hoooo!) he felt the need to (shimone!) inject stupid-ass (hee-heeeeeee!) grunts, groans, squeals, screeches, yells, and (WOOOOOoo HOO!) "shimones"... whatever the fuck that was... into every (unnnh!) fucking (heeeee!) song. I absolutely (wheee-HEEEE!) HATED that shit. It was impossible for me to (shimone!) get into the song with all those (hoooo! shimone! hee heeeeee! unnnhhh!) interruptions.
But the guy was Captain Eo, and I suppose that counts for something.
I thought Captain Eo was totally awesome when visiting Disneyland in the late 80's...
During the height of Michael's big trial, I was commissioned to do a drawing of him for an online magazine, which was a difficult assignment. At the time, Michael was looking his freakiest...
But the Disney whore in me wanted to remember him looking like this...
And that's how I'll always try to remember him now.
Sadly eclipsed by the Michael Jackson news has been the death of another icon from my puberty... Farrah Fawcett...
Yes. Bad Monkey is a big fan from way back. Some of my readers, however? Not so much.
Meanwhile, Betty White is still alive. And still awesome.
Last night I got zero sleep. Neither reading a book nor sleeping pills helped, and I finally gave up around 3:00am. At first I tried thinking positive. Here was an excellent opportunity to get caught up on my backlog of work! Unfortunately, my brain was all mooshy, so I couldn't concentrate. Instead I ate a sandwich and watched a couple episodes of Star Trek before it was time to get up.
Today was nothing but a blur as I wandered around in a zombie-like state. My only goal was to not make anything explode.
Which is really too bad, because if anything had exploded, I'd have something to blog about.
Instead I'll make do with boring tales of blog development...
My MacBook was working on some processor-intensive 3-D renderings, and so I couldn't use it for anything major or I'd slow things down. It was the perfect time to work on a few site improvements, because a text editor doesn't use much of the computer's processor power.
One of the things I've longed to do was be able to add search terms to my "Google That Shit!" page URLs. This way, when I send somebody there, I can pre-populate the search box with the words they should be searching for. I thought it would be really simple... I'd just hunt down some snippets of code that somebody else had used, modify it slightly, and away we go. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any code snippets.
So I spent the next three hours trying to get the code working. I eventually figured it out, but it's a kludgy solution that will probably break more often than it works (if you don't believe me, just go to the "Google That Shit" page and look at the source code!).
The good news is that now I can send search terms! Just add a "?" to the URL followed by search terms divided by "+" characters. Like this... SEARCH GOOGLE FOR CHOCOLATE PUDDING.
I can even refer site specific searches like this... SEARCH BLOGOGRAPHY FOR BETTY WHITE.
Now I don't know if I should be proud of myself because it actually works... or embarrassed because the way it works is so ugly.
Another week. Another Bullet Sunday. And this one seems to be inspired by how the vast information available on the internet seems to cause a chain of events from one thing to another.
• LEGO Chain. This started with me getting the latest LEGO catalog in the mail and seeing that they've come up with a third series of Space Police sets. I've been a fan of LEGO since I was very young, but it was when they released the original Space Police that I became insane over those little plastic bricks. What's so amazing is how LEGO keeps innovating and improving on the concept. This time around they've put a real effort into making the minifigs drive the series. The little alien criminals have to be the cutest LEGOs ever...
Clockwise: Frenzy, Kranxx, Skull Twin, and Squidman.
Photos taken from the awesome shots at No Onion's Flickr Set
Space Police then led to video games when I saw that the catalog also featured an advertisement for their latest effort, LEGO Battles. It seems to be a Real-Time Strategy game that's geared for a younger gamer. Or a gamer like me who loves LEGO video games so much that they'll buy anything that comes out...
I don't know anything about the game play, but the trailer makes me want to buy it immediately...
LEGO Battles led to me remember that I had bought LEGO Indiana Jones and LEGO Batman games for my Wii months ago, but had never even opened the boxes! The last game I had played was LEGO Star Wars, which was ten shades of awesome, so I decided to rip them open and give them a try. As expected, they were absolutely amazing and a lot of fun. Sadly, I don't have time for games, or I could have spent all day playing...
As a major Batman fan, LEGO Batman is a huge favorite. The puzzles are really good, and some of them quite challenging as you attempt to find all the game's secrets. But they don't stop there... not only do you get to play as all the Bat Heroes (including Batgirl!) you can then replay the levels from the villain's perspective! Sweet! A pity the iPhone version isn't nearly as good.
This then led me to wonder which LEGO property would be getting a video game next. Spider-Man? Superman? Nope. Turns out it's LEGO Harry Potter, Years 1-4 coming in 2010. I don't even like Harry Potter, but the trailer has me wanting it...
This led me to wish that they would expand the games outside of licensed properties and explore some of the LEGO favorites like LEGO Pirates and LEGO Space Police... how awesome would that be? Guess I'll have to settle for LEGO Rock Band...
• Hollywood Chain. This all started with a tweet by Kevin Smith...
Since Kevin Smith interviews and Kevin Smith talks are about as entertaining as it gets, this immediately grabbed my attention. I didn't even know Kevin Pollak had an internet chat show.
Which led to Kevin Pollak's site. Where I noticed his previous guest was ILLEANA DOUGLAS!! I love Illeana Douglas! She always manages to pop up just when I least expect it, and usually ends up stealing the show. My favorite character of hers would have to be child star turned prostitute turned Hollywood movie executive Wendy Ward in Action! but she's great in everything...
Her interview wsa very interesting (and very long!) but led me to her latest project which, believe it or not, is a series of shorts for IKEA called Easy to Assemble starring Illeana as "herself"... trying to leave Hollywood behind and lead a "normal life" by working at IKEA...
This led me to visiting the IKEA site so I could see if they started making those DVD shelves I like again, but they aren't on the site. This is a major bummer, because I can't even remember the IKEA name of the unit so I can call and ask if the store in Seattle has it. Best. DVD. Shelf. Ever. And I need more.
This led me to wondering when Watchmen was coming out on DVD. Turns out the Blu-Ray Director's Cut will hit on July 25th...
This led me to remember that the Blog-Her conference is on July 25th in Chicago. This led me to wonder if Chicago television show My Boys had been renewed for a fourth season (according to The Futon Critic it hasn't yet). Which led me to wonder if they had at least released the second season of My Boys on DVD (they haven't). Which led me to wanting my IKEA shelves all over again.
• Bloggign Chain. This morning I learned that OBNOXIOUSLY LOUD TV PITCH-MAN BILLY MAYS HAD DIED. This led me to look back at my blog entry about him from back in 2007...
This led me to remember that it was Bullet Sunday, and I should probably write my entry for the day. So here I am. REST IN PEACE BILLY MAYS!!!
Today as I was driving home, I stopped to let a little gangsta' cross the street. Well, he wasn't an actual gangsta', he was just dressed up in gangsta' attire with the over-sized T-shirt, over-sized pants, and a crooked baseball cap that I'm guessing still had the merchandising stickers on it. This was surprising to me, because I thought the whole "gangsta'-wear" fad for lil' crackers had gone out of style a couple years back... but there he was, running across the street in front of my car.
You can see where this is going...
In what can only be described as a Moment of Zen, his pants slid down to his knees before he got to the other side. Not missing a step, he pulled up his pants, then continued to hold them up as he ran down the sidewalk.
It's one of those things that you think you'd see all the time, but never actually see at all.
Miracles really do happen every day.
If you're viewing this site in Internet Explorer 8 it might appear messed up. Or so I've been told by a half-dozen people.
Needless to say, I may die of un-shock. Microsoft has been screwing up the internet for a decade so why should they stop now? Oh well, from what I can tell everything looks fine in Safari, and Firefox, and Opera, and even my frickin' iPhone... so I guess it's something IE-specific. Yet again. I jumbled a few things around that I though might be suspect, but won't have time to thoroughly check into the problem until next week.
In the meanwhile, I guess my blog will just have to look like crap in the latest Internet Explorer fiasco...
A lot of people are asking themselves why in the hell Microsoft cant make a standards-compliant browser after seven revisions. Web standards, after all, ensure that everybody sees the internet the same way. At this point I think it's safe to assume that it's not because Microsoft can't make a standards-compliant browser... they just don't want to make a standards-compliant browser. They just don't give a shit, and are once again using their massive market share to dictate that everybody look at the internet the Microsoft Way.
This is rather obvious when running the Web Standards Project Acid 3 Test, which has been out for over a year. Internet Explorer 8 returns a score of 20 out of 100. EPIC FAIL...
Apple's Safari browser passes just fine...
EVEN MY FRICKIN' iPHONE CAN GET A SCORE OF 97...
I mean, seriously, what does it say for Microsoft when a PHONE is better capable of surfing the internet than their browser? And it's never going to stop. Microsoft will continue to screw over web developers just because they can. Internet Explorer is the de-facto browser for bajillions of Windows users, which means more hacks, work-arounds, and kludges (not to mention untold hours of frustration) for anybody who wants their web pages to be seen properly by a huge chunk of people.
And don't even get me started on how Microsoft wants MS Word to dictate how we view email.
I need a cookie.
Happy Canada Day to our lovely neighbors to the north! I know you must be feeling a little neglected because we haven't liberated you yet, but no worries... once we've finished up in Iraq and Palin is elected in 2012, we'll be sure to get right on that!
If you want to read my Canada-related travel journal, here you go!
As I was driving home, I saw a sticker that said "Miami" in the back window of a car I passed. This got me thinking of CSI: Miami and how much I loathe that show because David Caruso is one of the Worst Actors on the Planet (Shia LaBeouf hasn't stolen the title from him... yet). I then got to thinking how the ultimate torture would be to watch an episode of Inside The Actor's Studio where James Lipton did a retrospective of all the shit that David Caruso has squeezed out in his career. This got me to thinking about a totally forgettable movie he did after leaving NYPD Blue with the actress from Mad About You. Except I couldn't remember her name. All I could come up with was "Linda Hunt" except she was Shadout Mapes in the movie version of Dune.
Things like this drive me crazy.
Eventually I got stopped at a train crossing. This gave me an opportunity to pull out my iPhone, call up the Internet Movie Database, and find out that it was HELEN Hunt who had the grave misfortune of starring with David Caruso in Kiss of Death...
I don't know that I will ever get used to having such unprecedented constant access to the massive store of information on the internet.
A part of me thinks it's a bad thing. Eventually I would have remembered Helen Hunt on my own. But the internet has made me lazy and impatient, so I took the easy way out. And my memory is probably suffering because of it. What does this mean for future generations? They won't know of a time when people didn't have constant access to the internet... hell, they'll probably have a connection implanted in their brain or something. Or whatever passes for a brain once they're all shriveled from lack of use. Why bother remembering anything except how to breathe when the internet does it for you?
I'm surprised that I remembered to blog today.
Not that anybody would have noticed. The blogosphere has been eerily quiet lately.
Ooh! I almost forgot about Bullet Sunday!
Meh. It's a holiday weekend. I'm empty and can't find any bullets to shoot. I'll try to reload before next Sunday.
Duran Duran is one of the few of my favorite 80's bands that I haven't seen live. So when my sister told me they'd be playing at Marymoor Park on Independence Day weekend, it was an opportunity too good to pass up (even if you do get gouged by TicketMeister). It was particularly decent of her to go, because she's not the big Duran Duran fan that I am.
Now, for whatever reason, I was not expecting much out of the concert. Perhaps it's because Duran Duran's sound always seems so polished that I just assumed it all came from the studio.
I could not have been more wrong.
Simon Le Bon and company tore through 19 of their biggest hits in one of the best live performances I have ever seen. They over-delivered with a flawless set that gave the crowd exactly what they wanted to hear. It made me curse all the times I passed at seeing them in concert before, and has me looking forward to the next time they come to town.
Ooh... and I shot my very first video on my new iPhone! Sound is kind of blown out (I don't think the iPhone microphone expects the audio source to be so loud) but the quality is still pretty good video-wise. Unfortunately, they compress the hell out of things when you upload it to Mobile.Me or YouTube. Doesn't look too horrible if you play it small though...
All in all, a pretty fantastic weekend.
I've gone through the set-list song-by-song in an extended entry, if you're so inclined.
UPDATE: The YouTube version has finished processing, so I swapped it for the QuickTime version since people were having problems with it. Also, there are a number of much better iPhone videos posted to YouTube of the concert.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
I travel a lot.
Now, "a lot" is relative, and there are people who travel even more than I do... but I definitely get around. Last year it was to the tune of 138,000 miles flown. This year I'm already within spitting distance of frequent flier Platinum status, and the year is only half over.
My point is, when it comes to airplane-related incidents, I've just about seen it all. I've been on a plane where a fire broke out. I've seen a drunken asshole have to be restrained and eventually removed. I've been in an uncontrolled landing. I've been through a bird strike. And a lightning storm. Twice. I've been stuck on the tarmac. I've been stranded, rerouted, and rejected. The list goes on and on.
Of course I've had my luggage lost. And damaged.
Once my luggage was lost as I was flying to a meeting in San Frncisco. The airline kept promising me that the luggage would turn up, and told me not to buy any new clothes because mine were on the way. Finally, after a dozen phone calls over two days with no suitcase, I explained that I had to buy a new suit for my meeting. And since the airline made me wait so long, there was no time for alterations... I had to find a suit off the rack that would fit. And the only one I could find was a $1100 Calvin Klein.
Naturally, the airline categorically refused to pay for that large of an expense... even though it was entirely their fault. It was their fault they lost my luggage. It was their fault they lied about getting it to me. It was their fault they made me wait until it was too late to alter a cheaper suit. It took months of negotiation before I came to a settlement that covered only half my expenses, but the airlines were such assholes about the whole ordeal that I felt lucky to get that much.
So when I see this really cool video by Dave Carroll making the rounds on the internet, I can sympathize...
Of course, we don't know United's side of things here... but this seems so typical that I don't doubt the guy's story one bit. There were witnesses as to the abusive handling, and he did try to report it before the plane even took off, so it's not like United can claim it was "normal wear and tear." They fucked up. They should have to pay for it.
And so now they are.
With a public relations nightmare that's only going to get worse as this thing goes viral (and it will, because the video is so well done that people are going to want to watch it, even if they choose to ignore the message).
So sad that it always seems to have to come to this, but that's modern customer service for you.
UPDATE: And that didn't take long... apparently NOW United Airlines is interested in doing the right thing. But you just know that there are lots of people out there who aren't going to get a fair shake because they don't have the talent Dave Carroll does to make a video. Sad, really.
My finger, which became deformed when its tendons were snapped several weeks back, has straightened out pretty good now. I've been faithfully wearing a splint to keep it flat, and it seems to be paying off. I doubt my digit will ever be as flexible as it used to be, but at least it looks quasi-normal.
Or will look quasi-normal once I can take my splint off in six more weeks.
In the meanwhile, I get to keep wearing this massive bundle of steel and Velcro...
To be honest, I barely notice it anymore. Even when typing, my brain has re-mapped the letters I typed with it to other fingers, so it's not a big deal. About the only time it bothers me is when I go to wash my hands and have to go to the hassle of taking it off and putting it back on again.
The problem is that other people notice it.
Usually, it's just to ask "What did you do to your finger?"But sometimes it's worse. Like today after work when I went to pay for my groceries at Safeway and the cashier jumped back once she grabbed the money out of my hand. Apparently, she thought my splint was a bug. It's been a while since I've worked retail, but I don't recall people ever handing over insects with their money, so I'm guessing this is a new thing.
So now I'm self conscious about my splint... trying to hide it from people and using my left hand when I have to interact with them. Since I'm right-handed, this leads to even more embarrassing situations so I guess I just can't win. But it beats people thinking that I have a bug infestation problem, so what can you do?
NOTE: I was going to draw a DaveToon here where a giant cockroach is peeking over Lil' Dave's shoulder, but I freak out when I see creepy insects. The idea of Googling pictures of roaches, cutting one out in Photoshop, then compositing it with a DaveToon is enough to make me want to pass out. So instead, I put an ice cream cone back there...
Just picture the ice cream as a cockroach, and everything will be fine.
The first two comic books I ever bought were Green Lantern #121 and The Flash #277. I ended up liking Green Lantern best because his stories were cosmic in scope and seemed more imaginative. Whatever Hal Jordan could dream up, his magical ring could make a reality... what could be cooler than that?
How about a Green Lantern movie?
Last August there was an announcement that a GL movie was going to enter production. I was excited. Now there's news floating around that my hetero-man-crush Ryan Reynolds has beat out Justin Timberlake and Bradley Cooper for the role. Now I'm estatic. I can only hope that they REMAIN FAITHFUL TO THE SOURCE MATERIAL and come up with a decent story. A Green Lantern film should be EPIC. He should battle bad-ass villains like Sinestro and Star Sapphire... not lame-ass regular-people villains that shouldn't even be a challenge. There should be aliens and space battles. There definitely should be Abin Sur and the Guardians... DON'T FUCK WITH GREEN LANTERN'S ORIGIN, OTHERWISE IT ISN'T GREEN LANTERN!!
The massive box office from the Batman and Iron Man movies should prove that you can remain faithful to the source material and still have a successful film. Hopefully the people behind Green Lantern understand that...
In other news... final dates have been set for Davelanta 3 (August 1st) and Daveorado (August 22nd)...
The Daveil went down to Georgia...
A run to the Rocky Mountains...
If you haven't already contacted me and would like to meet up with some cool bloggers in Atlanta or Denver, just send me an email at email@example.com and I'll let you know when we have details!
Today I was supposed to work, but couldn't make it because I awoke with a splitting headache which made me so ill that I was fighting the urge to vomit all morning. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I had to make severe changes in my diet at the request of my doctor, and it's been wrecking havoc with my system.
So, in-between dry-heaves, I set about sorting through twenty years of memories that have been stacked up in boxes. It mostly photos, post cards, travel souvenirs, and maps... but occasionally I run into other cool stuff. Like money. I found $46 in US bills scattered amongst the crap I've collected. Not to mention what probably amounts to hundreds of dollars in expired foreign currency.
My main goal is to track down any loose negatives that might be hiding so I can get them scanned. Otherwise, I'll miss the opportunity to see such gems as these (which were scanned in my last batch)...
Clockwise... That's me in a tux at my good friend's wedding. Me in Hawaii circa 1986. Me at the top of Petronas Towers (Kuala Lumpur) circa 2000. And me being all business-casual in Tokyo circa 1990.
Rummaging through crap for hours wasn't doing my headache any good, but it's all worth it because every once in a while, I run across something like this...
That's me and my sister, circa 1987. If I remember correctly, we had finished off all the alcohol in the apartment except Yukon Jack Whiskey and some kind of Bailey's Irish Cream knock-off. Not knowing what else to do, we mixed them together and did shots.
Googling this horrific concoction, I now know this drink actually has a name... it's called a "Yukon Jackoff."
That sounds about right.
And so I made it half-way through my memories today and was very happy to learn that most of them are actually worth remembering.
That's kind of a nice thing to have happen on a Saturday, isn't it?
In news that surprises even me, my head hasn't totally exploded. That makes Bullet Sunday a bit easier...
• Eventful. In catching up with my mail, I discovered that I was invited to a kind of important event. It's one of those things where I have no idea how my name ever got on the guest list, and am certain that if I showed up that they would realize they made a terrible mistake and kick me out immediately. Fortunately, I won't have to risk having my ego crushed... I can't attend because I'm already scheduled for something else that weekend. Probably just as well. I couldn't really blog about it, so what's the point?
• Phooey. Speaking of pointless... Hong Kong Phooey as a live-action movie? Seriously?!? Nobody could come up with anything better to film than this? I'd say that Hollywood is now officially out of ideas.
• Characters. Speaking of Hollywood, it's kind of odd how small it really is. After a while you notice how the same actors keep popping up over and over again in shows and movies. Two of my favorites are Tim Guinee (from Strange World) and Margaret Colin (from Now and Again). They're everywhere...
Tim Guinee photo from Facebook. Margaret Colin photo from LIFE.
It's shocking that these two have never managed to do a project together. They appear in so many things that I suppose it's inevitable... probably as a Lifetime Television movie or something. Even so, I'd watch that.
• Shock. Speaking of shocking... how is it that I am still discovering 80's music? Groups like Blancmange and China Crisis completely escaped my notice back in the day, and I have no idea how. Oh well. It's kind of cool to be finding them now, because it's music that's all new to me...
• Battles. Speaking of new... I know that all the LEGO video games are made for kids, but I still like them. LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Batman, and LEGO Indiana Jones are all basically the same game with different scenery, but they're still a lot of fun to play. Now LEGO has entered the Real Time Strategy game genre with LEGO Battles for Nintendo DS. It's a drastically simplified version of RTS games like Warcraft and Starcraft, but still has enough going on to be entertaining...
The characters change depending on whether you're playing Castle, Pirates, or Space scenarios, but it's basically the same game over and over. Using builders to stock supplies so you can build soldiers to defeat enemies. It gets repetitive but still manages to keep me wanting to move forward to see what's going to happen next. About the only thing that I'd change would be to smarten up the AI that drives the characters. All too often they take wrong turns and get stuck, which means a big chunk of your time is spent herding LEGO mini-figures around. This gets to be really frustrating after a while, and it's so prevalent a problem that it's shocking nobody in development fixed it. Oh well. Until the totally awesome Warlords II FINALLY comes out for DS, I guess this is about as good as it gets.
And now I suppose I should go to bed... seeing as how it's midnight and I have to be up in five hours.
I am not fond of Mondays.
I was recently forced into a conversation with an old acquaintance. And when I say "forced" I don't mean that there was a gun at my head... it's just that it was a conversation neither one of us wanted to be having. We were never on the best of terms, but have always been civil those rare times we run into each other. When it comes down to it, we simply have no interests in common, no reason to be friends, and there's nothing wrong with that on either side.
Anyway... the topic of the conversation was a mutual friend who has gotten into some serious trouble lately. It's all a sad situation brought on by a number of converging factors that I won't go into... but suffice to say the poor bastard has been assaulted on all fronts, and is not dealing with it well.
As I sat there listening to the long list of terrible things going on with a friend I no longer recognize, I couldn't help but wonder where my breaking point is. What would have to happen in my life to make me toss everything out the window? How much crap would it take to send me over the edge?
I honestly don't know, but I'll bet it's not as much as I'd like to think it is.
And I'm okay with that, but only because I have to be.
Once my old acquaintance was done updating me on all the latest horror stories in our mutual friend's life, there was an uncomfortably long pause... as if he was waiting for me to come up with a solution to fix everything. But instead I just said "Yeah, that's too bad." and "I hope everything works out." Not because I don't care or don't want to help, but because I honestly don't know how. These problems are so far outside my ability to grasp that I can only guess alien abduction, voodoo, super-powers gained from a nuclear accident, and one million dollars would be required to solve them.
As I sat there in silence with the phone glued to my ear, wishing I was an extra-terrestrial witch-doctor super-hero millionaire, I realized that our combined helplessness finally gave us something in common...
"I could stop by for dinner in-between my next two trips if you want."
"Thanks, but you don't have to do that."
"No... I think I will. Besides, a new Hard Rock Cafe just opened up in town, and I've been looking for an excuse to visit."
"Oh. Okay. We should go then."
Nothing like mutual helplessness and despair to bring people together.
Why isn't this world a much closer place?
Tonight as I was waiting for my computer backup to process, I started going through my webfeeds to clear out any dead blogs I might be subscribed to. There were a lot more than I thought there would be... twenty-seven to be exact. The fact that these people have (apparently) given up on their blogs and moved on with their lives is not surprising. Most blogs don't last more than a year, and those that do seem to suffer burn-out as they pass year two. Even hitting that magical third year hump isn't the guarantee it once was. With social networks like Twitter and FaceBook becoming more and more of a time-sucking vortex, people seem to be blogging less and less.
What is surprising is how most people have chosen (presumably) to end their blog.
They just disappear one day and don't come back.
Thirteen of the blogs I deleted have a last entry which gives no indication that the author was even considering quitting. On the contrary, eight of them were making promises for future posts... like "I'll post pictures when I get back"... and "I'll write more about that later." Of course, those days never came. I can only assume that they were killed in a tragic accident or somehow ended up with amnesia and forgot they even have a blog.
Six of the blogs just kind of petered out. They posted less and less until all they were posting is random updates weeks (or even months) apart saying something like "I'm still alive" or "Haven't had time for blogging recently" or "Wow, I'm neglecting this blog lately, but I promise to start writing again soon!" Of course, they rarely do.
Five of the blogs mentioned something about "taking a break" or "going on hiatus." That's all well and good, but if it's been longer than six months, I'm just going to consider it a permanent hiatus.
Two of the blogs went private.
Only one blog... one... posted "It would seem I'm not blogging here anymore, so I guess I'll be shutting this site down soon." It's refreshing to have somebody actually come out and say it rather than leave you hanging and wondering if they're dead or alive. No promises. No dragging it out for a slow, painful death. Just a decision to stop blogging one day, and a note to let people know about it.
When I eventually pack it in, I hope that's the way I'll go. It only seems polite, really.
My air conditioner came with a remote control. That's pretty sweet, because you don't have to get up to turn it off and on. You can stay safely on the couch and not have to risk getting eaten by a Carpet Shark or accidentally getting any exercise.
The problem is that the air conditioner makes an ear-splitting BEEP (shriek?!?) every time you turn it off or on. It has to be about the stupidest thing ever. I mean, it would be different if the air conditioner was totally silent and you couldn't hear when it was on... BUT IT'S AN AIR-CONDITIONER!!! Short of a smoke alarm, it's about the loudest damn appliance you can buy. Until now. It's as if the manufacturer said "I'm tired of smoke alarms stealing our thunder as loudest appliance ever... we can do better!" And they have! I swear that asinine shriek is louder than the test button on any smoke alarm.
And I just don't get it. Having a loud BEEP go off every time you mess with an air conditioner is about as senseless as trying to find intelligence in an Ann Coulter book. Yet here we are, with me living in fear that turning on the air conditioner will result in the neighbors calling the fire department.
A fire department which would probably be happy to allow my home go up in flames once they found out I'm not a Harry Potter fan.
Every time a new Harry Potter movie comes out, it's always the same. A never-ending stream of "Have you seen Harry Potter yet?!?"
I've already written about my social inadequacies from not being a Harry Potter fan, but now the fervor has reached all new heights. There are no more Harry Potter books in the pipeline, so new films are all that's left for people to obsess over. This has resulted in an unprecedented level of disdain from Potter-Heads every time I have to explain that I don't like Harry Potter and have no desire to see any of the movies. The shock, disbelief, disgust, and sheer terror that's unloaded on me has never been more blatant.
I'm still waiting for a Harry Potter edition of CliffsNotes so I can at least pretend to fit into society again.
To see all of the Lil' Dave Mac vs. Lil' Wayne PC ads, click here!
As I sit here staring at a blank screen, I realize that I've done absolutely nothing blog-worthy today. I worked for four hours, then spent my afternoon and evening doing all those little things that I never seem to have time to do. Before I know it, it's 11:00pm and the day has gone. My first instinct is to call Bad Robert because just five minutes on the phone with him would give me enough material to blog about for an entire week. But he has a job which requires getting up at an insanely early hour and is most certainly already in bed.
Blogging can be so bloody difficult sometimes.
With no Bad Robert to help me, I now turn to my How to Blog the Blogography Way flowchart to see what I should do next...
Ah, here we go then...
Well that wasn't so difficult after all.
I didn't get any sleep last night, so this will undoubtably be a barely coherent edition of Bullet Sunday...
• Discriminated. Everybody is discriminated against at some point. And some people definitely get it worse than others. And while I'm sure progress is being made every day, every once in a while I hear something so outrageous that it makes me question if we've not reached a point where that progress is running backwards. Today was one of those days, because I received an email from a friend who filled me in on his recent bout with discrimination. It's all at once disgusting and disappointing, made even more so because he has no recourse. I have faith that eventually the human race can live together without prejudice. We have to, or we perish. But that day keeps getting further and further away to me, and I can't help but feel overwhelming sadness because of it.
• Bear TV. I want this...
Awww... It's a television that you can snuggle with after you're done watching him!
• Disc. In the continuing effort to convert my analogue life into digital 1's and 0's, I've been having all my old photo negatives and paper pictures scanned. I'm probably 80% there. The problem is that it's going to be a long road to reaching 100%. Some media, in particular 110 Black & White negatives and Kodak's infamously crappy Disc Film, are really expensive to have done right...
I don't know why I ever bought into the technology. Probably because the camera was so small and easy to load. Unfortunately, those conveniences necessitated tiny negatives which produced crappy photos. I only used the stupid thing for less than two years, but they were two very important years... Thus my junior year of high school: Disc. My first trip to New Orleans: Disc. My senior year of high school: Disc. Fortunately my parents bought me a 35mm Canon A-1 for graduation so I was set after that. But right now... my past belongs to Disc. Will digital be forever?
• Pushed. When I read about a movie that features super-powered psychics battling it out in Hong Kong... well... it's not like I can pass that up. I didn't even bother to look at the reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes, I just add it to my NetFlix queue and watched it when the DVD arrived. Only to discover that it's one of the stupidest, most needlessly incoherent and incomprehensible messes I've ever seen. The entire film was nothing more than a set up for a sequel, but it sucked so horrendously bad that there probably isn't going to be a sequel. That leaves us with a half-finished disaster that's sometimes pretty to look at, but has paper-thin characters and a patchwork story that ends up being a pale imitation of Scanners. When the hell are filmmakers going to understand that you make the best movie you can... THEN worry about a sequel? The sad thing here is that the concept is so cool. But this piece of EPIC FAIL! will undoubtedly kill any hope of a great film of this kind being made for quite a while.
And that will have to be it for this edition of Bullet Sunday... I don't think I can make it through two nights in a row without sleep.
Today is the 40th anniversary of people walking on the Moon!
Or, if you're part of the tin-foil hat brigade, the 40th anniversary of when NASA faked the Moon landing.
In any event, I think that we should take a moment to remember all the monkey astronauts and other animals that risked or gave their lives as test subjects so that we could get to this point...
If you're interested, Wikipedia has a great article about Monkeys in Space.
And if you want to watch a fantastic film about what was happening behind the scenes of the Apollo moon landing back here on earth, I highly, highly recommend watching The Dish. This film is about the Australian crew responsible for receiving the moon landing transmissions broadcast to earth when the USA had rotated away from the moon. It's touching, funny, and a really good story. Two thumbs up and five stars from me!
Today I paid $6.49 for a bag filled with two cups of slivered almonds. The shock still hasn't worn off, because that's nearly $16 per pound. By shopping online, I could get the exact same thing for $6 per pound. This sounds like an incredible bargain, except shipping and handling charges end up being about $10 which means I'm right back where I started. Things like this drive me insane when I think about it, so I am very careful to turn off my brain when I go to the grocery store. Apparently everybody else is doing the same thing, which is why everybody is wandering around in a zombie-like haze.
This is a good plan, assuming you turn your brain back ON when you get to the parking lot.
Today I found out that most people do not do this, resulting in zombie drivers...
This was made clear to me as I watched two cars gunning towards the exit at the same time... each completely ignoring the lanes painted on the pavement. It was quite distressing because I was in the proper lane to exit the parking lot, which meant I had cars coming at me from both sides.
The first car arrived on my right. The driver was apparently very impatient, because they honked their horn at me while I was looking to make sure no traffic was coming. This caused me to become instantly enraged for two reasons... 1) It was unnecessary and rude. 2) I WASN'T THE ONE WHO WAS IGNORING THE TRAFFIC LANES!
I reached for my gun, but then remembered that I subscribe to Buddhist precepts which forbid me from owning one, so there was no gun to be found.
So instead I ignored the asshole and exited the parking lot. Which was just as the second car arrived on my left. This caused another round of honking as two cars... both ignoring the traffic lanes... attempted to exit at the same time. To make matters worse, a car arrived wanting to enter the parking lot, but couldn't get in because the two cars were blocking her. I didn't stick around to see how it all worked out. For all I know, they are all still there honking at each other.
It is getting to the point where I hate... hate... to drive anywhere because it's wall-to-wall dumbasses everywhere you go. Everybody seems to have their brain turned off, and so it's just not fun (or even safe) anymore.
So you can imagine how thrilled I am to be making the three-hour drive to Spokane tomorrow.
Every time I make the three-hour drive to Spokane, it seems longer and longer. It may only take three hours but it feels like ten. Luckily, I've got the best pizza on earth waiting for me when I arrive, so it's almost worth the agony.
Anyway, I've already had my delicious pizza and visited The Comic Book Shop, so now I'm needing to turn in early tonight. I'd just like to mention one more thing before I go, because you can WIN FABULOUS PRIZES if you help out...
This Saturday, I will be participating in Blogathon 2009 over at Therapy in the Making along with these fine people here:
We'll be raising money for my absolute favorite charity: Doctor's Without Borders. I've mentioned this wonderful organization many times here at Blogography, and this is what I had to say about them when I was asked if I had any real-life heroes...
There are many amazing heroes throughout history, but if forced to pick just one, I'd have to say anybody who is a part of the Doctors Without Borders group. These amazing people boldly go where angels fear to tread to offer medical assistance to people who otherwise wouldn't get any. A quote from their site... "Médecins Sans Frontières (also known as Doctors Without Borders or MSF) delivers emergency aid to victims of armed conflict, epidemics, and natural and man-made disasters, and to others who lack health care due to social or geographical isolation." How amazing is that?
These incredibly brave medical professionals have absolutely no political, military, or religious agenda. It's a truly international organization which is fully impartial in any conflict, and is committed to providing care where it is needed, regardless of who is needing it.
That's right, after Blogathon is over, everybody who sponsored us will be put in a drawing for prizes! I will be including some stuff from the Artificial Duck Store, including a grand prize package which include hats, cards, buttons, and a rare opportunity to own a CUSTOM Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey print!
Here's all you have to do to sponsor us and be entered in the drawing...
And that's it! You can donate however much you like... even $10 will help a truly worthwhile organization bring medical aid to people who really need it. And rest assured that your money will go to where it's supposed to, because you'll be giving directly to Doctors Without Borders... we don't make you go through any third parties to send your donation.
And that's it! I am looking forward to participating on Saturday, so please sponsor us if you have a few bucks to spare!
I'm not at BlogHer in Illinois. I'm not at Comic-Con in Caifornia. I'm working in Washington State.
This sucks twelve shades of Sunday, because I would gladly be at either event than stuck here.
The good news is that it really takes the pressure off having to write something for Blogography. After all, with the tons of news, blogs, and tweets coming out of Chicago and San Diego... who would notice if I put up something that sucks? Maybe I should just press my ass to my webcam and post that. Except I really don't want to get ass-prints on my laptop screen since I just cleaned it yesterday. I also worry about being flexible enough to webcam my ass without hurting my back, so I'd probably end up having to hire a stunt-ass anyway. Which begs the question... where exactly would one hire a stunt-ass? It's not like they advertise in the Yellow Pages (well, they might in L.A., but certainly not in my neck of the woods).
And now I'm just tired. Tired of driving. Tired of working. Tired of staring at a computer screen.
But not tired of playing Lego Batman on the Wii.
Which is probably a lot more fun than stupid BlogHer or dumb Comic-Con anyways!
At least that's what I'm telling myself...
Just a reminder that I will be joining in for the 2009 Blogathon over at Therapy in the Making on Saturday...
If you'd like to sponsor us as we raise money for Doctors Without Borders AND be entered in a drawing to win some nice prizes, here's all you have to do...
Doctors Without Borders is an international medical humanitarian organization working in more than 60 countries to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe. This is a truly amazing group of very brave and dedicated people, and Wikipedia has a good overview of the incredible things they do to make this world a better place.
See you over at Colin's blog!
Today I took two shifts live-blogging over at Therapy in the Making to raise money for Doctors Without Borders during Blogathon 2009.
Since I am a pretty crappy writer, I came up with the brillaint idea of drawing a new DaveToon every 30 minutes for my two 2-hour shifts. This didn't seem like a big deal, because they only take ten to fifteen minutes to draw once I come up with an idea. And when I'm writing for Blogography, the ideas for the toons just pop in my head as I sit down to blog...
But sitting down cold with no ideas and trying to come up with a new DaveToon every half hour?
It's a lot more difficult than it sounded.
Each and every time I was in a full-blown panic as I rushed to finish before the posting deadline. But it was all worth it because Doctors Without Borders is an amazing organization. And just because Blogathon 2009 is nearly over doesn't mean you can't still donate to support the great work they do for people all over the world...
If you missed Blogathon, I'm re-running all eight of the DaveToons I made...
The rest are in an extended entry. Be sure to check them out after the jump!→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
I keep hearing loud explosions... like fireworks... except when I look out my hotel room window I don't see anything. It's very disconcerting. It would be just my luck that Spokane is experiencing a terrorist attack or something.
That would be a Bullet Sunday first.
• Past. For those who didn't believe me during Blogathon, yes, I did have long hair at one time (and this wasn't even the longest it ever got, because it was well past my shoulders at one point)...
• Present. With your help, we Blogathoners over at Therapy in the Making raised $585 for Doctors Without Borders! Thanks so much to all of you who supported us and cheered us on! We even got a shout-out on the front page of the Blogathon site because Colin and I were wearing ridiculous things on our head to get people to donate! Who's the pretty pretty princess blogger now...
• Future. And here are the next three months of my life...
And though I have a lot of other bullets I could add, I have to finish up some work before getting up very, very early in the morning. Hopefully I can get a couple hours sleep in-between.
UPDATE: It was fireworks after all. After Googling That Shit, I found out it was the "Royal Fireworks Concert" at the Lilac Bowl. I had a pretty good view from my hotel balcony...
Ooh! I'm not here today! I'm guest-blogging over at the lovely Lady Penelope's blog!
Errr... or I guess I'm there tomorrow. Which is today here in the USA with the time change. I think.
What?!? Where am I again?
Oog. I is confused. Just click here...
And now I'm off to pack for PART TWO of my four back-to-back-to-back-to-back trips...
Imagine that there's somebody whose work you so admire that they inspire you every day. Imagine that what this artist creates fills you with such joy that your life is better because of it. Imagine that this visionary is one of your greatest personal heroes and you obsess over everything they've released.
Now imagine that this person has decided to make a rare public appearance to discuss these works which have been an inspiration to you for your entire adult life... and you have an opportunity to see them do so live and in person.
That's exactly what happened to me when I found out that animation legend Hayao Miyazaki would be speaking in Los Angeles today.
Needless to say, I jumped at the chance. You just don't pass up an opportunity to attend a lecture with the man responsible for My Neighbor Totoro...
Blogging buddy Howard (from the Web Pen Blog) and I attended the event, and it was an amazing, incredible, wonderful night.
Too many times the best days of our lives go by unnoticed and are only realized upon reflection.
I know this was one of the best days of my life.
To read more about Hayao Miyazaki, here's a Wikipedia entry.
But to really understand him, just go watch his films.
I am back home for seven hours before I have to turn around and leave again. That's just enough time to pack a fresh suitcase, print my travel documents, grab dinner, and get a couple hours of sleep.
I've had it worse.
The only problem is that my internet is all flakey, so I have to spend my final hours of freedom disconnected from the world. I can't decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, I'm so far behind on reading blogs and responding to email that I may now never get caught up. On the other hand, I can sit down and watch My Neighbor Totoro for the millionth time. I'm still riding on my high from seeing Miyazaki-san last night, and want to take a look at the film while his comments are still fresh in my head. Fortunately, it's a movie I never get tired of watching, and I discover something new every time I watch it.
Besides, I love NekoBasu (CatBus)...
Traveling via flying NekoBasu would be a lot more fun than the three airplanes I'm taking tomorrow.
Just back from L.A., and now I am off to Atlanta. Via Dallas. Where I met up with a friend and got to see the brand new Hard Rock Cafe that opened up downtown (just across from Hooters!). The opening of a new cafe in Dallas is bittersweet. On one hand, they have a cafe again after two-and-a-half years. On the other hand, it could never live up to the sheer awesomeness of the original Hard Rock Cafe Dallas which was closed and eventually demolished.
This is a darn shame, because the original property was mind-blowing amazing. Seriously, you have no idea. To get an idea, click here to take a tour.
Anyway, the cafe itself is nice, but fairly unimpressive so far as Hard Rocks go. The exterior is just plain sad...
One can only hope that they hang a giant guitar sign outside one day soon to make it look at least a little bit like a Hard Rock Cafe. Because right now it's just so boring. It looks like a parking garage... which is what I think it is.
The interior design follows the new "L.A. Club Chic" look that they put into the Yankee Stadium property. It's not bad, but it doesn't feel very "Hard Rock" to me. It seems way too polished and trendy instead of classic and inviting. Still, it's not like I can blame HRC Corporate for trying a new look in the hopes that it will interest locals. They need new blood and new traffic in order to keep their doors open, and catering only to tourists in the current economy is disastrous...
After dinner, I rushed South so I could ride up Reunion Tower and see the city at dusk...
Except it's closed for renovations.
Which is a genius thing to do in the middle of summer when all the tourists are here. Not.
Oh well. Now I'm off to bed so I can try and get a little bit of sleep before leaving again early tomorrow.
And so now I'm in Atlanta where it's hot and wet, but not in a good way.
Despite eating a very early dinner so I could get caught up with my life, I still have 44 unread emails. Even though I just spent two hours mucking around in my in-box. Such a severe lack of progress (I'm only down 34 from 78 I started with) is really depressing. What's even more depressing is that four of the emails were all related to a rather shocking incident that a friend of mine was involved in. Everybody was all "Holy crap, have you heard this juicy bit of news?" And even though I had heard it, it still seemed so wildly out of character and impossible that I decided to do something unprecedented...
I called the person directly and asked what the hell had happened.
Turned out that none of the information in the emails was true, and my friend was in complete shock over hearing what they had supposedly done. Apparently it was all a case of somebody hearing something and passing it along to somebody else who then passed it along to somebody else until suddenly idle gossip had become fact.
Even though it really wasn't.
Modern day communication is very, very scary that way.
Eventually my friend (the one accused of all the insanity) wrote an email of their own that they sent out to their entire address book. It was very smart, clever, and funny... even going so far as to include photographic evidence to refute the crazy accusations. As if that wasn't enough, there was a list of people with phone numbers so that anybody who didn't believe them could call witnesses who were actually there to refute the stuff people were saying.
But the best part was at the very end...
"Even though this rumor turned out to be false, I'm sure everything else that's being said about me is 100% true."
But of course.
I'm sure it's the same for everybody.
Well today was certainly a big bucket-full of awesome win.
I spent the afternoon with Beth and Kevin, who were kind enough to go to lunch with me, then wander around MODA for a while. But the real treat was when they took me out to Stone Mountain Park. It's a pretty impressive place, featuring the world's largest piece of exposed granite. What makes it truly amazing is what you don't see... because most of this mammoth rock is buried underground. Hard to believe when you can't even fit the small exposed part into your field of vision from the parking lot...
You can take a gondola to the top, which is pretty sweet considering there was no way I was climbing the thing in billion-degree heat!
From the gondola, people look like ants crawling over the mountain...
Out on top of the rock is quite a view...
From there we went back towards Atlanta for Davelanta3 at The Cheesecake Factory where an amazing time was had by all...
Kevin, Beth, Diana, Kim, Val, Mr. & Mrs. Muskrat, Heather, and Anissa...
not pictured is Julie, who ditched our sorry asses so she could go to
a much better party with a group of much classier people!
I have to get up for work in four hours, so I'll post my recap, photos, and links tomorrow. But I do want to take a minute to thank everybody for coming. I can't believe what amazing people show up at these things, and it means the world to me that I get to hang out with y'all. How lucky am I to have made such good friends through this silly little blog?
I just hope that I didn't smell too funny after sweating off ten pounds on top of Stone Mountain.
It's Bullet Sunday from a rain-soaked location somewhere in Central Georgia!
• Heat. I'd rather be too hot than too cold. So you'd think that Georgia in the middle of summer would be like a dream come true for me. But it's not. I am getting really tired of sweating my ass off every time I have to go outside. In that respect, Central Georgia is no different than Central Washington, because we've been breaking 100° on a regular basis there. It's just that when I work here I have to go outside a lot more often than I do back home. Back home I sit in an air-conditioned office all day long and my ass stays intact. Which begs the question... why has nobody invented air-conditioned underwear? I find it sad that we can put a man on the moon, but can't solve the sweaty ass dilemma. Apparently, science is dead.
• Davelanta 3. As I had mentioned last night, the latest installment of the annual Davelanta blogger meet was a lot of fun, and everybody seemed to have a good time. Still can't believe that I get to meet such amazing people everywhere I go...
Just like I promised, here's a roll call of the fine people who were kind enough to spend their valuable time hanging out with me (taken from my DaveEvents Page)...
I've marked all Davelanta 2008 Alumni with an asterisk. If Mentally Rehearsed hadn't already made plans for the weekend, we would have been at a 100% repeat from last year, which speaks volumes as to how much fun a blogger meet can be. If you ever have the opportunity to go to one, I encourage you to drop everything and do so!
• Magic. Tonight while I was eating dinner, my waiter cleared the table next to mine and was taking a pile of dirty dishes back to the kitchen. As he was walking, a napkin blew off the top of the stack and slowly started to float to the floor behind his back. When the waiter noticed this, he stopped and lifted his left leg up behind him... caught the napkin on his foot... rotated his foot around front with the napkin still sitting on it... reached down and grabbed the napkin... then put his foot back down on the ground and continued walking to the kitchen as if nothing had happened. It was like a magic trick of some kind, and I felt like breaking out in applause after witnessing such beautiful visual poetry in motion. After paying my check and exiting the restaurant, I tripped over my own feet and very nearly came crashing down in the parking lot. Irony... it's what's for dinner.
• Classy. Language evolves. As an example, "awful" used to mean "full of awe" and was used much like how we use the word "awesome" in modern times. But the word evolved until it now means "something bad or unpleasant." In other words, "awful" currently has the exact opposite meaning that it used to have. This is a rather drastic example, but you get the point. ANYWAY... the word "classy" used to mean "wealthy and educated." Over time it came to mean "stylish in looks." Then it evolved further until it could also meant "stylish in behavior." In other words, you no longer need to be wealthy or educated in order to be considered "classy." And while I am sure that being wealthy makes it easier to be classy, it's certainly no guarantee. From my experience, it's just the opposite. My favorite example is flying First Class, which is filled with self-important, self-entitled, embarrassingly abusive assholes who have zero class... vs. flying Coach, which is less comfortable, but filled with a better class of people (probably because you're all bonding over mutual suffering?). I don't really have a point here, it's just something I felt like blathering on about as I confirmed my First Class upgrade for my flight home on Tuesday.
And, on that happy note, I think I will try to take a power-nap so I will have the strength to go back to work in an hour. Staying up for 20 hours straight after four hours sleep has done nothing for my mental health.
Okay then! I got up at 4:00am yesterday so I could get to work on time... it's now almost 10:00pm a day-and-a-half later... that's 42 hours awake. I might have dozed off a couple times, but it didn't amount to any real sleep. That's tough, because even total insomniacs like myself require rest from time to time.
I never could have made it without the distraction of Twitter to keep me from giving up. Whether it was comparing notes of sleeplessness with @TheMuskrat or joking around about Twitter spam with @AnissaMayhew, it was pretty sweet that I was able to find Twitter peeps out there willing to help me stay awake.
Other than an incident where Jesus appeared to me in a bowl of Apple Jacks cereal, I managed to make it through the 42 sleep-deprived hours with my brain pretty much intact.
I now have 8 hours until I have to pack up my stuff and head back to the airport. I'm hoping a good chunk of that will be spent catching up on sleep, but I'm doubtful.
For reasons I can't even guess, I'm not at all tired.
And so here I am back in Spokane.
I just got back from having The Best Pizza on Earth, but even that wasn't enough to compensate for the crappy 3-hour drive over. Or the balls-slow internet here at my hotel (seriously, my iPhone is faster than this). The only thing that keeps me from going postal is that the shitty internet is free. Because there's nothing worse than having to pay for shitty internet.
Except maybe having no internet at all.
Though, if I didn't have internet, then at least I would have a decent excuse for not answering all the emails overflowing from my inbox. Instead, I have no excuse except to say that I am thoroughly exhausted.
That really should be enough, but the guilt lingers.
Guess it's time to get back to planning some much-needed life changes.
Sadly, none of which involve my becoming an astronaut. I said "much-needed" not "much wanted."
Instead of driving back home today, I ended up having to stay another night in Spokane. At first I was going to use this as an opportunity to go see a movie, but there was nothing playing that was compelling enough to lure me to the theater. Instead I decided to catch up on work. Sure it's not much fun, but I am so far behind that it seemed the smart thing to do.
Especially since there's a pretty big thunderstorm brewing outside.
In addition to work, I've also been catching up with news...
I was very saddened to learn about the passing of John Hughes. His ability to portray high school life in the 1980's was dead-acurate, and resulted in some of the best films of my generation. You didn't have to look too hard to find yourself in his movies, which is what made them so compelling. The back-to-back triumph of Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club would be enough for any writer/director to live off of for their entire career. But he followed them up with Weird Science and Ferris Bueller's Day Off which only served to cement his genius. His writing career was equally prolific, giving us such gems as Home Alone and Vacation. Few filmmakers reach the level of John Hughes, and I thank him for his contribution to some of my favorite cinematic memories.
SAM THE KOALA
Speaking of loss... today was equally devastating for animal lovers because Sam, the famous koala who became the poster-bear for the plight of animals affected by the horrific Victorian bushfires that raged in Australia. Sadly, Sam managed to recover from her burns, but ultimately succumbed to chlamydia, a disease that is ravaging the koala population with a 50% infection rate. I ended up buying the official photo of Sam for my office wall, where she inspires me to persevere over setbacks in life that our outside of my control. How sad that she eventually perished despite all her strength and will to survive. Something else we can learn by, I suppose.
Speaking of chlamydia... when you are so fucking insane that the Queen of Fucking Insane calls you crazy... shouldn't that be a major wake up call? I mean, come on! ANN COULTER has come out and said that Orly Taitz is off her fucking rocker, and yet this bat-shit crazy media whore is still popping up like a herpes outbreak everywhere you look. Her obsession with making a case for President Obama not being an American citizen is bordering on mania, and I expect it's only a matter of time before she's committed. You would think that the overwhelming evidence to the contrary would be enough to deter the dumbass, but it only seems to spur her on. Since this is America, it's fully her right to speak her peace, present forged birth certificates as authentic, and say whatever stupid shit she can dream up, but at some point don't you just have to point and laugh? I mean, seriously... ANN COULTER SAYS SHE'S A CRANK!! At first I found her entertaining. Now I just find her scary. Somebody needs to take off the tin-foil conspiracy hat and fake eyelashes and get some much-needed mental help.
Though I suppose Orly Taitz is still a shade more sane that Rush Limbaugh, whose infatuation with Bill Clinton's penis is approaching truly disturbing depths. I can only guess that when Rush isn't theorizing what's going on with Clinton's penis that he's fantasizing about having it for himself. It would sure explain a lot. Like the playground schoolgirl who keeps beating up the boy she professes to hate because secretly she's in love with him, Rush just can't leave Clinton alone. Add that to his hardcore stance against gay marriage (when his three divorces show that straight marriage works so well for him) and all the pieces seem to fall into place. Denial, Rush... it's not just a river in Egypt.
Speaking of disturbing depths... now I suppose I really should get back to work.
This is an entry I originally wrote on June 15th. But I never was able to finish it, and instead went with Bad Monkey pooping in a diaper. Since then, I've changed, updated, and altered it a half-dozen times, but still ended up not publishing it for one reason or another. Then Hilly went and posted something along similar lines today, so I figured it was probably time I just went ahead and let it go (after cutting out several paragraphs of angst, then updating it again to be more current)...
I want to take a break from blogging, but I don't know how.
It's not that I don't have anything to blog about... I just don't have anything I can blog about. The only things going on in my life right now are work and personal stuff, neither of which I choose to talk about online. So instead I muddle through, posting even stupider crap than usual just to keep my blog going at a time when blogging is the last thing I want to be doing. It would be nice if this were a temporary situation, but right now there's no end in sight.
The obvious solution would be to go on hiatus. But I'm fairly certain that if I gave up blogging for any length of time, I would end up abandoning it all together. The only thing that keeps Blogography going is my habit to post every single day. The minute I start skipping days or filling in with guest-bloggers is when I might as well shut down altogether rather than spiral towards the inevitable.
But I'm not ready to say goodbye. At least not yet.
So I've been trying to renew my enthusiasm for blogging by doing a lot of guest-posting, taking part in Blogathon 2009, limiting my time on Twitter and FaceBook, meeting up with other bloggers, coming up with recurring content ideas, and trying to steer clear of memes and other "easy" filler.
I don't know if it's working just yet, but I certainly hope so.
Because blogging has come to mean an awful lot to me, and the thought of having something so important die off is painful. At first I thought it was because of the relationships with readers and fellow bloggers that I've been lucky enough to find... but ultimately I think it's the relationship I've built with myself here that's the most important. While not a personal blog by any means, Blogography has become an outlet for self-expression that would be very hard to replicate any place else. It's an opportunity to step outside the horrors of Real Life once each day and finding a part of my life I can share... even if it is just a drawing of a monkey.
My blog may just be a reflection of a small part of me, but it's still me.
And I think that's something worth saving.
So I'll keep trying.
When you turn on your television and see Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag staring back at you, do you wonder "Why in the hell are these dumbasses on television?"
When you pick up a magazine and see Spencer and Heidi on the cover, does your mind boggle as you try to understand why anybody should care about these two brain-dead morons, let alone give a crap about their stupid antics?
When you go to a movie premiere and see Spencer and Heidi show up so that Spencer can promote his wife's Christian values in a porno mag, do you puzzle over how two such worthless pieces of shit got to be famous?
Well wonder no more!
Now you too can set aside shame, decency, and personal values to become a media whore of your own, thanks to my new book...
With the advice found inside, you too can become a media sensation with absolutely no talent or brains at all. Just follow the simple instructions, and you'll be whoring your way into the spotlight in no time!
So what are you waiting for? Turn your useless life into cash by ordering your copy of Whoring Yourself for Fun & Profit for Dumbasses today! What have you got to lose?*
*Except your dignity, pride, and self-respect, of course.
After two weeks of non-stop travel torture, I'd like nothing better than to take a handful of pills and sleep all day. But we can't have that... it's Bullet Sunday!
• Violence. I was deeply saddened to hear of the bomb attacks on the wonderful island of Mallorca. Having fallen in love with the place earlier this year, it's a nasty reality check... much like the Bali bombings of 2002. I gave up a long time ago trying to understand what motivates somebody to harm innocent people, but that doesn't help quell the frustration I feel every time something like this happens. I'm wondering exactly what kind of global disaster is going to have to occur before mankind can put this kind of self-destruction behind them and move forward together. Hopefully it will be a disaster that's survivable, because there's too many beautiful things here worth being appreciated...
• Dreaming. Unlike most people, my dreams are no fun. That's because, unlike most people, I can never get lost in a dream like it's some kind of fantasy world I'm inhabiting. Oh no. When I dream, I know I'm dreaming. It's hard to explain, but it's like I'm looking AT a movie of myself rather than actually being IN the movie. So, for me anyway, dreams are not an escape... but instead badly-written entertainment. But lately my dreams have become something... different. I still know I'm dreaming, but I'm inside the dream rather than merely an observer. While not as much fun as most people's dreams, it's definitely a step in the right direction. And what am I dreaming of lately? Alpamayo Mountain. And I have no idea why. I've never been there. I barely know it exists. And yet, there it is, night after night...
Astounding photograph by Brad Mering.
Maybe I'm supposed to go there? Or maybe I just enjoy the scenery? I dunno, but it is a lovely mountain.
• Noble House. My favorite novel of all time is Noble House by James Clavell. I have read it several times, and enjoy it more with each reading. I own four editions of the book, and see that there's a new over-sized paperback edition that's been released, so I'll be owning a fifth soon. There's just something about the numerous sub-plots that combine to create an epic, lengthy, brilliant masterpiece that I can't get enough of...
MEANWHILE... somebody read my Hundred Things where I mention that Noble House is my favorite book, and decided to write and tell me that if this was my favorite then I was "stupid." I was then given a list of other books which, in his not-so-humble opinion, were vastly superior. Including such classics as Catcher in the Rye, The Grapes of Wrath, and anything by Hemingway. Usually, I just delete stupid-ass emails like this without a second thought, but instead decided to write back and ask what it was about Noble House that he didn't like. Was it too long? Did he think it was too complex? Did he not like the Asian setting? What? He wrote back the next day and said that he hadn't read Noble House and that he didn't need to read it to know that it was not deserving to be anybody's favorite book when there were such obvious better choices out there.
Yes. I'm the stupid one in this scenario.
• Kitty. Tim Burton movies are pretty much hit-or-miss with me. The quirkiness that he infuses into his projects make them unique, but sometimes he goes too far and I can't get into the film. His latest movie Alice in Wonderland, however, seems to be a perfect outlet for his talents. There's plenty of crazy stuff in the original Lewis Carroll tale for him to build upon in his "sequelesque" story. And just seeing his treatment of the Cheshire Cat is enough to make me want to see it...
If nothing else, it's going to provide a whole new level of stupid LOLCat jokes.
And that's all she wrote this Sunday, because now it's time for The Comedy Central Roast of Joan Rivers! It's not that I think the roasting itself is going to be that much of a challenge... Joan Rivers is an easy target... but hearing Joan fire back at her roasters at the end should be great fun.
I am having fresh corn for dinner tonight. It is the most excitement I've had all day...
Aren't you glad I didn't decide to have pig's feet?
Today I went to the dentist for my 6-month cleaning and check-up.
Which I hate.
But probably not for the reason you expect. It's not because I'm terrified of the dentist. It's not because I don't like people sticking metal tools in my mouth. It's not because I'm especially sensitive to dental work. It's not because I am afraid they'll find something wrong. It's not because I neglect my teeth. It's not because I forget to floss. It's none of those things.
It's because of the grit.
I hate the grit.
At the end of the cleaning (which is really no big deal, because I brush and floss regularly) they want to "polish" your teeth using a hideous mixture of fluoride paste, nasty flavoring, and some kind of abrasive grit. Grit that they can never entirely rinse away, leaving you with a horrific grit residue that scritches against your teeth when you bite down. And even when it dissipates after an hour or so, the gruesome memory of the stuff lingers for days.
At least it does for me.
I am freaking out right now just typing about it.
I would rather have a full-on root canal... hell, I'd rather have a tooth pulled... than to suffer through that gritty crap. That's how much I hate it. I'd even rather brush my teeth with baking soda, and I think we all remember how much I hate that...
I have no idea why getting grit on my teeth torments me so badly, but it does. If I'm ever captured by the enemy and they want me to spill secret information, waterboarding isn't necessary. Threaten to put that gritty crap on my teeth and I'll tell you whatever you want to know. On more than one occasion I have asked if I really need to endure the polishing and they always tell me that I do. Maybe they think that I'm joking at how badly it freaks me out. Maybe they refuse to believe that it's a big deal. Maybe they think that I'm lying when I say I'm traumatized by it. Maybe they think I'm just a big baby. Whatever the case, apparently this is a necessary evil for proper dental maintenance, and all my teeth will fall out if I don't subject myself to it. I honestly don't know. All I do know is that I really really hate it.
Perhaps I should just let my teeth fall out and switch to an all chocolate pudding diet. Sounds like a win-win scenario to me.
I can't blog tonight because I have to draw some killer alien monkeys...
Hey, there are worse ways to spend an evening.
I was hoping that this homophobic crap would be laughed off of Washington's ballot... but it looks as though the protections we have for same-sex couples and their families here in the Evergreen State is going to be challenged come November. And this isn't even a "marriage" issue... it's just for their domestic partnership rights! Apparently opponents of equality managed to find 120,577 people who are so insecure in their beliefs that the very thought of somebody being allowed to have different beliefs was scary enough to sign a petition.
The divorce rate is rapidly approaching 50% in the USA, yet we need to pass laws to protect the sanctity of this institution from the "gay agenda."
Two atheists can get married in a non-religious ceremony so long as they have opposing genitalia, and yet making laws to define marriage by one group's interpretation of their religious views is not at all discriminatory towards homosexuals.
Forcing somebody to live by your standards and stripping them of their rights when they don't is not hating on them.
This would all be laughable if it weren't so very sad. I find it positively absurd that two consenting adults living in the United States of America in 2009 have to fight to have the same rights afforded to everybody else because of who they choose to love. Apparently, some people haven't done the math...
I refuse to buy into such blatant discrimination. I am of the opinion that people are people and should be treated equally. I believe that love is love. I feel that there is enough room in society for consenting adults to decide for themselves if they want to marry. I know that devaluing somebody in the eyes of the law because of their sexuality is wrong. I say NO H8...
I hope that one day people are going to wake up and start taking responsibility for their own lives rather than making others responsible for their problems. In the meanwhile, we have to deal with bullshit like this when there are far greater issues we should be focusing on.
Like squirrels ruining our photos...
We really should be doing something about that.
After a great night of drinking, games, and some truly inexplicable crap going on in the Twitterverse, I managed to postpone a hangover long enough for another edition of Bullet Sunday!
• Denver! A venue hasn't been chosen yet, but the Denver blogger meet is THIS SATURDAY, August 22nd, 2009, in the Mile High City! If you haven't emailed me yet and want to come, please get back to me by Thursday so I can add you to the list and let you know where we're going to eat! My email address is in the sidebar of every page...
• Salt Lake City! And if you want to meet up with myself, Marty and his lovely wife Reba, we'll be getting together for dinner on the following Monday night, August 24th, 2009! Please email me by Thursday if you'd like to come so I can add you to the list and send you the details...
• Shake It The "new and improved" iPhone camera is still kind of crappy so far as cameras go... but I love having it handy wherever I go, and use it quite often. Fortunately, there are some great photo tool apps being released to help get the most out of the images, because some of the ones I get out of the iPhone are almost unusable without adjustment. And now we're starting to get some sweet photo toy apps as well, my favorite being "ShakeItPhoto," which allows you to take photos as if your iPhone was a Polaroid... or transform old photos to make them look as if they were. The results are just fantastic, creating small pieces of funky photo art in seconds...
You even get to shake the iPhone in order to make it "develop" faster, which is kind of fun. Well worth the 99¢ price tag, and if you've got an iPhone you can pick it up at the iTunes Music Store here.
And that's all she wrote for Bullet Sunday. Time to kick back and relax for a little bit before facing the week ahead.
After finally dragging my ass to bed at midnight, I got a whopping three hours of sleep before I was wide awake again. Needless to say, this blows. With nothing better to do, I decided to see if any blogs were updated and check my email.
My first email was a notice telling me that the itinerary for my upcoming Denver/Salt Lake City trip had changed... again! Since I made the reservation on May 1st, I've received itinerary changes on May 16th, June 7th, June 13th, July 22nd, August 3rd, and now August 18th. Nothing major, but with seven flight segments, it's a pain in the ass to try and figure out what's changed each time. MAKE. UP. YOUR. MIND!
The next email was from ScanCafe telling me that they had scanned another batch of my old photos and I need to go online and review which ones I wanted to keep. Sweet! That's almost worth losing sleep over!
Probably my favorite photo of me ever taken is this one...
Half-asleep... messed up hair... hanging out in my underwear and tiger slippers... it's as if nothing has changed in 40 years.
I never noticed until now that this was just one in a series of awesome photos from Halloween at 19 months...
Damn, what a cute baby I was! Seriously, I'm like a pedophile's wet dream I was so adorable!
How is it that I never ended up in movies and television commercials?
I totally blame my parents that I'm not a drug-addicted former child-star living in some Hollywood back-alley waiting for my shot at a humiliating reality television show. Why couldn't I have reprehensible parents who whore their kids out for money like Jon and Kate? What good is it being one of the cutest babies ever if I wasn't exploited for cash?
I really do need to find me a new pair of tiger slippers. It's so totally a good look for me.
Still looking through old photos I'm having scanned and running across all kinds of interesting stuff. The 1960's and 70's were an absolutely bizarre time for just about everything. Especially fashion. Nothing fascinated me more than all the insane clothes that everybody wore back then...
I honestly cannot tell if this Valentine's Day photo is cute... or just incredibly creepy. The blow-up dolphin certainly looks innocent enough, but his freaky smile is hiding something. Can you imagine the Stephen King moment of waking up in the middle of the night and seeing that thing staring back at you? =shudder= On the other hand, this is probably the most sane, rational clothing I ever wore in my early childhood, so it's hard for me to not to appreciate the photo itself. I can so totally rock stripes.
This is me dressed up in authentic Native American clothing, but adding a cowboy hat to make a fashion statement for peace and the acceptance of different cultures. Or cultural stereotypes... I haven't quite got that figured out. But hey, I'm a baby here... all I really care about is whether my diaper makes me look fat in this jumper... not whether the embroidered knife and tomahawk in my faux "Little Chief" belt are politically correct.
And here I am in stripes again... chilling like a Sears Catalog model. Originally I had a cigarette in my hand, but thought it best to Photoshop that out. Showing a two-year old smoking in the 1960's might have been perfectly acceptable, but today that's considered "wrong" for some reason. Shortly after this photo was taken, I decided to give up my pack-a-day Marlboro habit so I could put the money towards shoes.
How is it that pants like this were ever in style? I mean, I know it's 1975 here and so things are bound to look a little dated by today's fashion standards, but seriously... holy crap!
Probably more interesting to me here is not the clothes, but the toys. The Six Million Dollar Man doll was probably one of the coolest toys ever made. When you turned his head and pumped the button on his back, his bionic arm would ratchet up, allowing him to lift all kinds of things... including the plastic engine block they thoughtfully included in the package! He also had a bionic eye that you could use by looking through the hole in the back of his head... AND you could roll back the "skin" on his arm to reveal bionic circuitry which could be plugged into his "Bionic Transport and Repair Station" (shown, sold separately).
"The Magic Hat" toy was something else entirely. It was made of hard plastic (so you could never actually wear it) and had all kinds of secret compartments and nifty tricks you could do. And by "nifty tricks" I mean "crappy tricks that wouldn't fool anybody"... but don't tell my 9-year-old self that! In 1975, this was the most amazing toy ever! At least it would have been if it included a real rabbit to pull out of the hat... but the closest thing they had to offer was a rabbit scarf. Lame!
I'll spare you the photo of me and my brother in giant sombrerros. Sometimes Memory Lane can be a scary, scary place.
Here at DaveAir, we understand that when people fly with us they will need to take at least one suitcase with them. This is a basic necessity of travel, WHICH IS WHY WE DON'T FUCKING NICKLE-AND-DIME YOU WITH STUPID-ASS FEES TO CHECK YOUR FIRST FUCKING BAG! BECAUSE IT MAKES NO FUCKING SENSE NOT TO INCLUDE SOMETHING EVERYBODY NEEDS IN THE FUCKING BASE TICKET PRICE! This revolutionary concept sets us apart from most other dumbass carriers in the industry, and has the side-benefit of freeing up space in our overhead bins for a more pleasant flying experience. It also alleviates the bottleneck at check-in that comes from people having to pay an additional fee that should have been included in the ticket price to begin with.
So stop torturing yourself by flying with asshole airlines who deceive you with low ticket prices only to hit you with idiotic additional fees for something everybody needs... fly DaveAir and leave your all-consuming rage behind!
DaveAir... because flying doesn't have to be an exercise in stupidity and torture.*
*We said flying... dealing with all the airport security nonsense on the ground is your problem.
Today started at 3:30am when I awoke to get ready for my early-morning trip to Portland for a quick meeting. Much to my delight, I got finished three hours early, which meant I had three hours to kill in the city before having to return to the airport. This meant a trip to one of my favorite places: Powell's City of Books.
After an all-too-brief (but wholly unexpected and serendipitous) visit to the City of Roses, I headed back to the airport where I ran into Vahid and Sir, for another all-too-brief (but wholly unexpected and serendipitous) visit before flying out to Denver.
So here I am in The Mile High City, which I haven't been to in six long years. That's a darn shame, because I love it here and wish I had an excuse to visit more often. After wandering down to the 16th Street Mall for dinner I saw District 9, a movie that came out of nowhere to become my favorite film of 2009 so far...
South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp has recreated the horrors of his country's apartheid days in a surprising way. Instead of white colonists subjecting black natives to racial segregation... human natives are subjecting alien refugees to species segregation. And what wonderful-looking aliens they are...
What's astounding here is how fully-realized the world of District 9 is. By the time the film takes place, the aliens have been around for decades and their presence is treated as commonplace. That the actors were able to inhabit this reality so believably is what makes the story so compelling. You simply believe it's happening as you watch it, even though there are these fantastical creatures wandering around.
The film is best experienced clean... with no spoilers or story points to ruin it... so run, don't walk, to a good theater and see it before all the talk about it diminishes the impact for you.
My day wasn't spent wandering around Denver as planned... but working.
I did get out for a quick walk down the 16th Street Mall in the afternoon, but the heat eventually drove me back to my air-conditioned hotel for still more work. And though I didn't finish nearly enough of what I needed to get done, I finally threw in the towel around 4:30.
Because it was time to meet up with Tug, Hot Doctor's Wife, and Howard at the Hard Rock Cafe for Daveorado!
As usual, good conversation and good times ensued. That I get to continuously meet amazing people like this in my travels is a gift for which I'm wholly inadequate at expressing my gratitude. All I can say is thanks to the three of you for taking valuable time out of your Saturday to let me hang out with you. Hopefully it won't be another six years before I am able to come back!
After dinner, Howard and I decided to get our Tarantino on and see Inglourious Basterds. The film was total genius, and I loved every minute of it. Particularly shocking to me was how amazing Brad Pitt is in the flick... this is easily his best performance since 12 Monkeys. But the hands-down standout, scene-stealing role in the film belonged to Christoph Waltz's brilliant portrayal of Col. Hans Landa. The guy had to walk a very fine line to get just the right balance of humor and terror, and did it so admirably that the film was elevated to an entirely new level of greatness...
I have no idea how Quentin Tarantino does it. He always manages to write exactly the right dialogue, then cast exactly the right actors to speak it, then direct the entire film flawlessly, then pick precisely the right music to drive it all home. I don't think "visionary" manages to adequately express how astounding a talent he is when it comes to crafting a film, but it's the best word I can think of to describe what it is he does.
Which, in this case, is to create a film that has many levels, yet blends them all so subtly that they disappear into a singular brute-force narrative. By the time we get to the film-within-a-film theater scenes (which seem to be a thinly-veiled commentary on all the killing that the audience has been manipulated into rooting for thus far), all I can do is shake my head in disbelief that any one man can possess such talent...
I can hardly way to see what Quentin comes up with next.
It's another edition of Bullet Sunday... this time coming to you from beautiful Denver, Colorado!
• I love Ponyo. Yet another Miyazaki masterpiece. Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea is such joyous, imaginative, feel-good fun that you don't even need kids as an excuse to go see it. Pretty much a retelling of The Little Mermaid, the oft-told tale of the little girl who wants to be human has never been seen in quite this way. Featuring some of the most mesmerizing traditional animated sequences I've ever seen, this is a stunning film which trounces the animated garbage we've been inundated with lately (hey, they're making a sequel to Happy Feet!)...
The main character, Sosuke, is so lovingly crafted that you'd swear he was a real little boy... everything from the way he walks to the way he acts is just captivating to watch. While I prefer to see Miyazaki films in their original Japanese, I have to admit that the vocal talent Disney lined up for the American release is pretty stellar (ZOMG! BETTY WHITE & TINA FEY!) and all the actors seem to ring true to the characters they're dubbing. Well worth seeing in a theater for the sheer spectacle of it all... the pastel-rendered backgrounds are beautiful, and demand to be seen on the big screen.
• Failure to Launch. I got to the Cherry Creek Center Theater for Ponyo a little early so I could eat dinner at the Johnny Rockets there, only to find out that they didn't have any vegetarian Boca Burgers. AGAIN! Why am I not surprised? After all, I've been denied Boca Burgers in San Francisco (twice), Santa Monica, Seattle University Village (twice), Seattle Pike Place Market, Seattle Pacific Place, Miami Aventura Mall, Seattle South Center, and Kent Station... why should Denver be any different? Still finding it positively absurd that a FROZEN item can't be stocked in such depth that it won't run out 50% of the time a customer would like to order it. If you're not going to bother to watch your inventory, don't bother putting it on the menu so that people like me don't waste their valuable time going to a restaurant expecting to get the food we want.
• Denver and Killer Squirrels. After the movie, Howard and Cameron dropped me off downtown so I could take a few photos around the Capitol Building. After goofing around for a bit, I decided to walk back to The 16th Street Mall for dinner and have a look around Union Station. As I was walking through Civic Center Park, I heard something in the tree above me and turned around to look. Much to my surprise it was a very angry squirrel, who glared at me just long enough to let me take a blurry photo of him...
That's when I noticed that squirrels were everywhere, and they had no fear of humans. One little guy was eating a pile of sunflower seeds somebody had left and I was able to sit right next to him. He barely noticed...
Just for fun, I was going to reach over and grab a few seeds, but didn't want to risk getting bitten and end up with rabies or something. That would be just my luck.
• Film by Tarantino. My most consistently favorite director outside of Hayao Miyazaki is Quentin Tarantino. In my capsule review of his latest masterpiece Inglourious Basterds, I said that the word "visionary" was inadequate to describe his cinematic genius. This prompted one reader to ask me how I would rank his films, which would be thusly...
&bull Housekeeping Aggressive. One of the most thankless jobs on the planet has to be that of a housekeeper at a hotel. Forgotten entirely when they do their job well, yet persecuted ruthlessly when they make a mistake, the housekeeper is in the ultimate no-win scenario. Historically, I've always endeavored to be excessively kind and generous with housekeeping staff in order to balance out this wrong, but my attitude has been changing as of late. Because, in addition to being the most thankless job, it can also be the most passive-aggressive career in history. And more and more this is getting to be the case. Housekeepers maintain this front of kindness in service, but all too many of them really don't give a shit and, indeed, are actively hostile in their work.
As an example... in the hotel I'm currently staying (which shall remain nameless, because it really doesn't matter) the housekeeping staff is so horrendously noisy each morning that I have no choice but to view it as intentional. And it begins the minute they exit the elevator... laughing and whistling and yelling and screaming and banging and slamming. Never mind that it's still fairly early and people are trying to sleep, they just don't give a fuck. Across the hall from my room is a laundry chute. What they could do is prop the door open so that the soiled linens will pass silently down to the laundry. But what they actually do is let the door slam shut again and again and again, which is an endless source of banging that is so forceful that my walls shake every time. And heaven forbid that you should want to sleep in, because if you stay later than they like, they will purposely create a huge racket outside your door until you ultimately give up and flee the premises. Every drawer is banged. Every word is yelled. Every cleaning tool is rattled. Every door is slammed. Because the housekeepers just don't seem to give a flying fuck anymore. They're up at the crack of dawn doing a thankless job, and they want you to suffer for it. Over and over and over again. One of these days I'm going to have had enough and scream into the hallway as loud as I can "SHUT THE HELL UP!" knowing full-well that it will only encourage them to be louder. Because that's what happens when you mess with people having the most passive aggressive job on earth.
• Farewell to The City. And that's all she wrote. Tomorrow I'll take a trip to some stores I want to check out which were closed today... and then it's off to the airport and other adventures.
There are plenty of things I could blog about, but the only thing that's in my head right now is how I get to sleep in tomorrow. For the first time in months I have nothing going in the morning. No calls scheduled. No meetings to attend. No places to be. No flights to catch. Nothing. I could sleep in until noon. Heck, I could sleep in until 5:00pm if I wanted to. The whole concept is so bizarre that I can't quite wrap my head around it.
Of course, the odds of me actually sleeping in are small. I'm sure my insomniac nature will take over and I'll be waking up at 4:00am as usual... and I'll be bored as usual... so I'll start getting some work done as usual. Oh well. I suppose just the thought of being able to sleep in if I wanted to is enough.
This morning started out early because I wanted to visit Denver's very own independent book store... The Tattered Cover. There are a couple locations, but I went to the beautiful LoDo store on the 16th Street Mall (years ago I visited the "original" store in Cherry Creek, but it has since moved). Much like Powell's City of Books in Portland, The Tattered Cover is a wonderful experience for people who love books...
I then walked around the corner to visit The Old Map Gallery. As a die-hard map-lover, I had been really looking forward to seeing the shop... but it was closed. And there were no hours posted, so I didn't stick around. For all I know they could be closed Mondays, and I'd be waiting for nothing (the website isn't much help either). This is probably a good thing, because a look in the window shows that I would have been dangerously close to spending entirely too much money there...
From there it was time for lunch at the beautiful Hard Rock Cafe Denver...
And then back to the hotel so I could catch my ride to the airport. The sky, which had been blue with scattered clouds when I left in the morning, had become dreary and overcast by afternoon...
And by the time I got to the airport we were on weather delay. Fortunately, it was only 30 minutes, which put us into Salt Lake City just 14 minutes late (it's the old "we'll make up time in the air" trick!). Or would have if we didn't end up in a holding pattern for ten minutes once we got there.
Marty and Reba (of Banal Leakage fame) were then nice enough to pick me up at the SLC airport so we could head to the Rio Grande Cafe for Dave Lake City 3! The last time we were there I was doped up on massive pain killers for kidney stones and couldn't really enjoy it, so I was really looking forward to eating there again. It was (as expected) delicious, and it's always great to hang out with Marty and his better half...
And tomorrow, Depeche Mode, baby!
UPDATE: Annnnnd... I was up at 5:15am. That's a whole 45 minutes I got to sleep in!
Saw an absolutely incredible performance by Depeche Mode tonight in Salt Lake City with Marty and WarpedGirl16...
For a spoiler-filled set list and some additional photos, you can get all that in an extended entry.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Despite the fact that Salt Lake City's airport is a mere 6 miles from downtown, it will run you about $20 (+tip) for the privilege of being driven there by a taxi. My hotel, however, pushes for a private transportation company which runs an outrageous $25 (+tip). Having fallen for that trick before, I requested a METERED TAXI instead of the private car. This caused the valet to freak out. He started jabbering on about how a taxi would take a half-hour to arrive, and it only saves you $3... AS HE WAS LOADING MY LUGGAGE INTO THE PRIVATE CAR.
Not wanting to argue, I just went along with the scam. But I was fuming, and nobody got a tip.
I don't give a crap if I have to leave five hours early and book the taxi myself, next time these assholes are not getting any of my money. I cannot wait for Salt Lake's local TRAX light rail to be run out to the airport sometime in 2013. Then I'll be able to tell these rip-off taxi companies and hotel scammers to kiss my ass. I mean, seriously, TWENTY-FIVE-DOLLARS? That works out to over $100 an hour! For that kind of insane money, I expect to get blown after my luggage is unloaded.
When my flight arrived at Boise, Idaho, I got a text telling me that my connecting flight to Seattle was delayed. This meant I would miss my final connecting flight home. Seeing that there was a flight leaving immediately, I ran to the gate and managed to get on the earlier plane just as they were closing the doors. My luggage wouldn't make it home, but at least I wouldn't be stuck in Seattle's airport (WITH NO FREE WI-FI!) until midnight.
The upshot being that I would now have a four hour layover in Seattle, which was plenty of time to grab some lunch.
Which is when I overheard this...
GIRL ONE: Do you want a bottle of water with your salad?
GIRL TWO: No, I need to cut down on my calories.
Needless to say, I was mystified... calories in WATER?!?
Isn't water the stuff where you look at the Nutrition Facts and everything is ZERO... because it's like... fucking WATER?!?
Just when I think that people couldn't possibly get any more stupid, something comes along to prove me wrong.
Unless there's some new high-calorie water out that I don't know about...
In oh so many ways the human condition is as fragile as it is fallible. This wouldn't be so bad if it could be rationalized, quantified, and explained, but the reasoning behind why we're so damaged and flawed remains a mystery. Fortunately, we also have more positive traits to balance things out... such as determination, strength, and resilience. It's a good thing too, because life would be pretty miserable otherwise.
Some people focus entirely on the negative so their lives really are miserable. And that's fine, because we've all been there. And I make no judgement, because people should be entitled to feel how they want to feel.
People who decide to focus entirely on the negative all the time tend to rub off on us, contaminating our peace and throwing our lives out of balance. This toxicity really should be avoided for the sake of our mental well-being, but to do so is looked upon as a bad thing. Avoid a friend when they're being all toxic, and you're the bad person. Avoid a toxic family member, and you're being a bad relative. Avoid a toxic blogger, and you're the elitist asshole.
And I get it. You shouldn't be abandoning friends, family, and fellow bloggers when they're going through hard times. But that's not what I'm talking about. Because the process also works in reverse. Your positivity can rub off on them, and restore their peace and put their lives back in balance. Not only that, but it's also a decent thing to do for someone you care about.
There is a limit. There should be a limit. Because some people have no intention of ever letting go of their negativity no matter how hard you try to pull them away from it. At that point, when you realize that there is absolutely nothing you can do to help them, your self-preservation has to kick in. Otherwise, you become mired in their negativity and risk losing yourself in their toxic world. And you know what? At that point... where you've done your best and tried your best and been your best... it's okay to finally step away. You were there when they needed you. You did what you could. You sacrificed what you had. It's time to let go.
Because, in reality, it is they who are abandoning you. And if people want to label you a bad person... or a bad relative... or an elitist asshole... all because you choose to escape with your sanity, then so be it. There's nothing you can do about that either.
Reclaim your life, embrace the positive, stay in balance, and move forward.
Life would be pretty miserable otherwise.
And so I try.
Until I was filling out a hotel reservation tonight, and ran across this tragedy...
How disappointing! There's no "Lord" in that list. I want to be LORD DAVID SIMMER II, dammit!
Or, more accurately, OVERLORD DAVID SIMMER II.
Though I would settle for HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS DAVID SIMMER II.
Or maybe MASTER COMMANDER DAVID SIMMER II.
Or something simple like DICTATOR FOR LIFE DAVID SIMMER II or SAVIOR DAVID SIMMER II or even DEMI-GOD DAVID SIMMER II.
Alas, I had to settle for "Captain David Simmer II" because none of my preferred titles were available. This is just me trying to stay positive in the face of those who would seek to destroy my peace with their negativity.
Today Apple released the latest version of their Macintosh "Mac OS X" operating system... Snow Leopard (version 10.6). There's not many new features, as Apple has instead concentrated on speed enhancements and other refinements, but it's still well-worth the $29 upgrade.
The speed increase is noticeable. In some cases very noticeable. I never realized how pokey the Finder is at just about everything until I started playing with this new release. Snow Leopard is a leaner, meaner, cat compared to Leopard (Apple claims you'll recover 7GB of hard disk space, I got 9GB on both my desktop and laptop). This alone is worth the price of admission (assuming you have a newer Intel-based Mac that is capable of running it)...
This is not to say that there are not problems. I've only been playing around with it for a day, but I've ran into some things that boggle my mind. First of all, Apple's own software is incompatible. The 2008 version of iWork, which is their alternative to Microsoft Office, has display issues and there are no updates available to fix the problem. Instead, you have to run out and buy iWork 2009 to get working software. This is absurd. I'm not running some 10-year-old program here, but something dated LAST YEAR! Never mind that I already own iWork '09 and just need to install it, Apple should release a patch for iWork '08 for people who don't want to upgrade. Paying to get something that works is the Microsoft way of doing business, and I expect more from Apple.
Icons have been improved by giving you the option to display them up to 512 pixels square! This is glorious if the program/document supports the higher resolution...
And really crappy if it doesn't...
But nobody is going to need to display application icons that size... at least not yet. It's document icon previews where this becomes a useful feature. This was a kind of hit-and-miss feature with Leopard. Sometimes icon previews would just universally stop working. Other times they are so slow to update as to be useless. Fortunately, this seems to be solved with Snow Leopard. Previews always seem to work and are rendered blazingly fast. And now that Apple has added an icon-size slider at the bottom-right corner of each Finder window, it's almost like using iPhoto for file management! The ability to look at your photos at 512x512 without even having to open the file or enter QuickLook "preview mode" is awesome...
PDF documents or documents with PDF previews (like Adobe Illustrator docs) render nicely. Snow Leopard even adds a piece of graph paper behind the icon so that documents with transparency still look like document icons...
Remarkably, zooming in on any supported document, like an Excel spreadsheet, gives you a fully-functional preview...
My biggest problem with Snow Leopard has nothing to do with icon previews, which are pretty great... it has to do with the "improvements" they've made in the Dock. Some are worthwhile (LOVE being able to scroll through stacks and drill down in folder hierarchy within the Dock at last!) but the new contextual menus? Not so much.
It used to be that a double-click-hold on an application icon in the Dock would bring up a sweet contextual menu to perform program functions without actually switching to that program. Such as being able to double-click-hold on the Apple Mail program icon and tell it to "Get New Mail." Or double-click-holding on iTunes and telling it to "Mute Sound"... all without having to switch out of the app you're in...
This is really convenient, and I use it all the time. But now a double-click-hold on an application icon will put it under the spotlight and reveal all program windows "Expose" style. I can see where this might be handy for an app that has tons of windows open. But for something like iTunes which only ever has ONE window open, it's just fucking stupid. A once handy feature is now practically useless...
So now, in order to get the old contextual command menus, you have to RIGHT-CLICK on the program's Dock icon. Which isn't so bad... IF YOU HAVE A MOUSE WITH A RIGHT MOUSE BUTTON! But what about on my MacBook Pro WHICH DOESN'T HAVE A RIGHT MOUSE BUTTON?!? Oh... you have to fake it by reaching up to the keyboard and hunting down the "Control" key so you can press it while you single click. The new "shortcut" is actually MORE WORK than just switching to the program and interacting with it directly. This has put a serious crimp in the way that I use the Dock and I HATE IT! It's like Apple gave you a wonderful new toy in Leopard... then took it away and replaced with with a steaming pile of shit in Snow Leopard. Why not make this a preference so I can CHOOSE how I use the Dock instead of forcing me to deal with this "new and unimproved" bullshit?*
Oh well, I guess you've got to take the good with the bad. And, in this case, the good does outweigh the bad by quite a large margin.
There are other features to Snow Leopard (Universal Access has some impressive upgrades)... but the speed, hard disk savings, icons, and Dock changes are the ones I notice the most.
And now all we Mac-Whores start counting the days until the next Mac OS X 10.7 "Sabertooth" upgrade...
*UPDATE: Ren points out that a two-finger click will work to bring up the contextual menu in the Dock. And it does... if you have "secondary click" enabled in the Trackpad Preferences (mine was turned off for some reason). This is a little clutzy compared to how I used to do it, but it's certainly better than nothing! Thanks, Ren!
UPDATE: Sven over at Quarter Life Crisis has a much more in-depth review of Snow Leopard, and has found a terminal command line trick which can restore Dock functionality by Lap Cat Software.
Ooh! I'm actually home for this edition of Bullet Sunday!
• Garbage. Having a blog with nearly six years of material makes me an easy target for haters, since I'm bound to have written about something they disagree with. Most of the time I don't care. Either the person trashing me is so incredibly stupid that their garbage is impossible to take seriously, or they are criticizing me for something I never even said in the first place. I have no problem with healthy debate and welcome other people's respectful opinions... but that almost never happens. They're called "haters" for a reason, and are best just forgotten. Except sometimes they just won't go away. The anonymity of the internet makes them impervious to civilized behavior. I wonder if they realize that nobody is ever truly anonymous online? Something to think about, anyway.
• Hurt Locker. I have little to no interest in the whole "war movie" genre. That's because they usually fall into one of three categories: 1) Political statement against war. 2) Political statement for war. 3) Glorification of war and/or war propaganda. The last category is the worst. All those old movies where war is depicted as an entirely one-sided affair, with the horrors nicely sanitized (e.g. the ridiculous "Oh you got me, you dirty Nazi! while the guy grabs his chest and slumps over). But every once in a while there's a film with no obvious political agenda which tries to tell a very human story that just happens to take place during a war (Clint Eastwood's amazing Letters from Iwo Jima comes immediately to mind).
And now we get The Hurt Locker by the always amazing director Kathryn Bigelow...
Any attempt for me to explain the film would be a grave disservice to it. In simplest terms, it's about a three-man team of bomb disposal experts called "Bravo Company" in Iraq circa 2004, and their efforts to dispose of a never-ending supply of explosive weaponry that shows up in a variety of scenarios. After the death of their team leader, a new guy, Staff Sergeant William James, assumes command of the team and things get very interesting. You never really know if James is a reckless maverick who risks lives unnecessarily... or an absolute genius who is so great at his job that it only appears that way. All you do know is that Bravo company has just 38 days left in their tour, and the odds of them surviving long enough to return home grows dimmer with each new encounter. This is a film about guys in a very dangerous job, and there's no political bullshit or anti-war bias to get in the way of telling their story. Miracles do happen.
One of the very best movies of 2009 (I'd place it at #4, after Inglourious Basterds, District 9, and Star Trek), The Hurt Locker is where I'd put all my Oscar votes. Jeremy Renner as Sgt. James is one of the strongest performances I've seen in a film all year, and is backed up by an army of talent and some spectacular cameo role appearances (which it would be a shame to spoil here). Suspenseful, gritty, and very human, The Hurt Locker is actually worth your valuable time to see.
• Iconic. Every since installing Mac OS X Snow Leopard, I've been transfixed with the ability to view application icons at 512-pixel resolution. It's an entirely new ballgame at such a large size, and reveals surprising details that you would never even know existed at their original size... sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Let's take these three icons as an example...
Transmit, which has always been a nifty little icon, is revealed to be a stunning piece of artwork when you get to see it at full size. The attention to detail is nothing short of amazing, and now people can actually see it...
Twitterific, on the other hand, is exactly the opposite. It looks cute and friendly when seen small, but blow it up to full size and it transforms into something vaguely scary. I don't know if the bird is molting... sweating... or has some kind of disease... or what. His beak doesn't even appear to be part of him, but instead bursting through his head, like there's a bird trapped in a bird suit and he's just now breaking out. Granted, this isn't really the designer's fault. This is what happens when you are forced to exaggerate details so they will show up when reduced to a tiny size. Otherwise, it would just look like a little blue blob...
But those issues pale in comparison to the scariness of Apple's own "Mail" icon. It makes absolutely no sense now. The drop shadow makes it appear that the stamp is floating above the surface... but the cancellation mark looks flat, like it's a projection of some kind. Furthermore, the cancellation mark doesn't even look like it's been printed. The gray ink looks like it's actual ink on the white parts of the icon... but mystically transforms into blue ink when it is on the blue parts of the icon. At giant-size, it all looks like some kind of bad Photoshop overlay trick, because it doesn't act like any cancellation mark I've ever seen...
Icons, which have historically had to communicate information at very small sizes, are now having to stand on their own as artwork when presented at larger sizes. This is an incredible challenge for icon designers, because it's not easy trying to create one piece of art which works perfectly for two entirely different uses. I suppose the big worry is that designers won't even try, and we'll get icons that suck at any size.
And now I get to go back to work so I can (hopefully) get caught up before I leave again. Life, she is a bitch.
Avitable has announced this year's theme for his annual Halloween bash, and it's a good one: INVADED!
Like last year, Adam asked me to create a T-shirt design to help raise money for the party, and with an awesome theme like "alien invasion," I could hardly say no. The challenge would be to find a new way of having fun with the DaveToon characters so that I wouldn't be bored. After a little thought, I decided to try an old "Sci-Fi Comic Book" design and see if I could make that work. All the best alien invasion stuff could be found in the pulp comics and films of yesteryear, so it seemed like a good fit.
After an hour of goofing around, this is what I came up with...
If you want to support the Avitaween party (or just want to look really cool), you can buy the shirt at Adam's Zazzle Shop.
If you want a behind-the-scenes peek at how the design was created, I've got that in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
I'm not here today because I was at Cissa's blog yesterday.
Or something like that.
This is one of those rare cases where I'm actually LOL-ing at my own cartoons, so it might be worth a look if you're into that kind of thing. You can also wish Cissa a belated "Happy Birthday" while you're at it.
UPDATE: I've put a copy in an extended entry in case they should ever go missing...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Oh happy day!
I just noticed that Apple has finally... FINALLY... added a Finder preference so that your searches aren't brain dead. In previous Mac OS X versions, the Finder would always search the entire frackin' computer whenever you did a search from a Finder window. This is sublimely stupid, be