Posted on Friday, May 1st, 2009
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.
Posted on Saturday, May 2nd, 2009
Posted on Sunday, May 3rd, 2009
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!
Posted on Monday, May 4th, 2009
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.
Posted on Tuesday, May 5th, 2009
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.
Posted on Wednesday, May 6th, 2009
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!!!
Posted on Thursday, May 7th, 2009
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...
Posted on Friday, May 8th, 2009
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?
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...
Posted on Friday, May 8th, 2009
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.
Posted on Saturday, May 9th, 2009
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.
Posted on Sunday, May 10th, 2009
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...
Posted on Monday, May 11th, 2009
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."
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?
Posted on Tuesday, May 12th, 2009
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!
Posted on Wednesday, May 13th, 2009
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...
Posted on Thursday, May 14th, 2009
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?
Posted on Friday, May 15th, 2009
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...
Posted on Saturday, May 16th, 2009
There are days I would give almost anything to have Pizza Hut delivery in my small town...
Posted on Sunday, May 17th, 2009
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.
Posted on Monday, May 18th, 2009
"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
Posted on Tuesday, May 19th, 2009
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...
Posted on Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
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!
Posted on Thursday, May 21st, 2009
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!
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.
Posted on Friday, May 22nd, 2009
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.
Posted on Saturday, May 23rd, 2009
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.
Posted on Sunday, May 24th, 2009
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.
Posted on Monday, May 25th, 2009
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.
Posted on Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
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.
Posted on Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
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.
Posted on Thursday, May 28th, 2009
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.
Posted on Friday, May 29th, 2009
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!"
Posted on Saturday, May 30th, 2009
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.
Posted on Sunday, May 31st, 2009
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...