Posted on Friday, January 1st, 2010
Last year I made five new year resolutions for 2009. I accomplished them all by February 9th.
Perhaps I set my sights too low. More likely I was just trying to be realistic in my goals. But whatever the case, after I fulfilled my resolutions I pretty much coasted for eleven months. Mission accomplished! This year I'm not going to let myself off so easy. Instead of giving myself a list of fixed goals that can be checked off, I'm instead going to commit to more general goals that don't have a finish line I can cross. Things that keep me growing and learning.
Like figuring out how to make the world's best grilled cheese sandwich.
Hey, there's always room for improvement... even when you've got a spectacular recipe already under your belt.
Superior cheeses come along.
Improved grilling technology.
All you can really do is create the world's best grilled cheese sandwich for the moment and move on to the next one. Sure that's a lot of cheese, but it's the journey (endless grilled cheese sandwiches)... not the destination (heart failure from high cholesterol levels)... that's important here.
Time to cut the cheese.
Posted on Saturday, January 2nd, 2010
This morning on the way to work I stopped at the mini-mart to get a bag of cheesey popcorn. As I walked in the door, a child was standing there, screaming at me while he wagged his tongue. He had some kind of plastic tube stuck to his tongue, which made this hugely amusing to him. The hellion's mother(?) was sitting at a table talking to a friend(?)... blissfully ignoring the fact that her son(?) was screaming at people. I just ignored him as I walked by, and said "how charming!" as I headed back to the chips & cracker aisle.
While I was looking for popcorn, I heard the mother(?) screaming "BRIAN! PUT THAT DOWN! and "BRIAN! STOP THAT!" Apparently, she suddenly decided to give a crap when her kid(?) started tearing up the place.
After finding the snacks I wanted, I made my way to the cash register checkout and paid for my stuff. As I turned to leave, I noticed that Brian's mother(?) and her friend(?) were both glaring at me. As I walked to the door, I heard one of them say "how charming" in a high-pitched voice... kind of like Beaker from the Muppets...
I will never understand how people failing to discipline their kids is somehow my fault. Somehow I'm the bad guy.
I suppose I could have tried asking these assholes how this works, but it seemed a lost cause.
Instead I turned to the kid and said "how embarrassing for you!"
I'm guessing he'll get that a lot in the future.
Posted on Sunday, January 3rd, 2010
It's the first Bullet Sunday of the year... and I don't have any bullets! Probably because I've done nothing but work for the past five days. Oh sure I have ideas for bullets, but I've decided to post a monkey juggling giant OREO cookies instead...
And, since it's Bullet Sunday, I guess I better take care of that too. Here's to another week...
Posted on Monday, January 4th, 2010
ZOMFG! APPLE IS HOLDING A SPECIAL MEDIA EVENT ON JANUARY 27th!
For a Certified Apple Whore such as myself, this is the equivalent of getting a free 3-month supply of hookers with a case of Snack-Pack Chocolate Pudding on top. The question is... will His Holiness, Steve Jobs, be the one to run the event? Because that's the difference between your free hookers having all their teeth or not (admittedly, some guys find the idea of a toothless strumpet to be Prostitute Nirvana, but I assure you that I am not one of them).
Obviously, my preference would be for Mr. Jobs to descend from the heavens on a sun-beam, alight on that high pedestal upon which I place him, and unleash the new hotness that Apple has up their collective sleeves...
But, when push comes to shove, I'll reluctantly accept a Jobs substitution by Jonathan Ivy, Phil Schiller, or whatever other dentally-challenged whores they've got hanging around at Apple. In this case, it's not the messenger, it's the message that's important. Hell, Apple's new toy could be stuck in a pile of flaming dog shit and dropped on-stage by Dick Cheney riding a three-legged goat while masturbating to donkey porn... it just doesn't matter. If the "device" Apple is announcing is up to their usual awesome standards, nobody would notice.
The rumor mill is saying that the "device" is a tablet computer of some sort. Kind of like a giant iPhone... but with magical properties that have yet to be defined.
I'm putting my bets on no-smudge anti-gravity screen, nuclear battery with a 100-year charge, and a psychic brain-link interface. Pudding rack optional.
Either that, or the iToast is making its debut at last.
Posted on Tuesday, January 5th, 2010
I'm a firm believer in using the right tool for the job. Or, if you're Tiger Woods, using a firm tool for everything.
The problem is that entirely too many people are taking a Darwinian slide towards gene pool elimination because they can't understand this simple concept. Not a day goes by that I don't read about some moron using the wrong tool for a job and then acting all surprised when things go terribly wrong. My current favorite being the guy who decided to clear a pile of leaves off his lawn by blasting a shotgun into them at point-blank range. It's a perfectly good idea... unless the leaves in question are piled on top of an industrial strength metal well cover.
Certainly a shotgun is a lot more fun than using a rake. And I'm sure there are a lot of great uses for a shotgun that I'm simply not imaginative enough to think of. I'm just saying that, in this particular case, it's the wrong tool for the job. My microwave can boil the fuck out of a cup of water, but that doesn't mean I'm going to start smelting steel in there.
Anyway... as far as examples go, it couldn't be made much clearer than this ad I ran across this morning...
Yes, that's the incomparable Elizabeth Hurley... most beautiful woman on earth and goddess of all things good and decent in the world. Some shitty dating site saw her glorious visage after running a Google Image Search, rightfully determined that her ravishing aesthetic would be perfect for attracting lonely computer nerds, and stole her exquisite form to make a crappy (but very, very sexy) web ad.
And, while this may indeed be a good tool for the job at hand once legalities have been forgotten, it's not entirely realistic.
Elizabeth Hurley has about as much interest in helping computer nerds get a date as George Lucas has in making a decent Star Wars film after Empire Strikes Back. You'd have a better chance of getting struck by lightning while bananas spontaneously shoot out of your ass then miraculously transform into kittens in mid-air. Though, if Elizabeth Hurley's lawyers get ahold of the people who are illegally using her to endorse TOTALLY FREE DATING, the resulting prison experience would probably make the whole lightning-banana-kitten-out-your-ass scenario seem like a picnic with the cast of Sesame Street.
So... not so much the right tool for the job after all, once legalities are factored in.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to try and get some sleep while I've got Elizabeth Hurley and bananas running around in my head.
I wonder if that TOTALLY FREE DATING site really works?
Posted on Wednesday, January 6th, 2010
I've had an HD-ready television for years, but haven't gotten a lot of use out of it because I can't get HD content with DirecTV. Apparently, the trees around here block the satellites or something like that. I didn't want to switch away from DirecTV, because I couldn't bear the thought of parting with my beloved TiVo.
But over the last year or so I've been freaking out while watching television because channels are starting to go widescreen HD-only. Then, to make the picture fit on older non-HD equipment, they slice off the sides of the picture. Needless to say, this sucks ass, so ultimately I decided to trade in my satellite dish for HD Cable. To get package deal pricing, I also switched over my phone and internet.
Overall, I have to say I'm impressed with the HD picture. It looks really fantastic, and most of the channels I watch are broadcast in the HD format. The phone line is okay, but kind of spotty over long calls. The internet, however, is total shit. It's blazing fast one minute, then taking EIGHT MINUTES to download a frickin' Google page the next. Contacting the really nice people at tech support has resulted in a house-call next week to investigate the problem. If they fix it, I will be a very happy camper. If they don't... well... this will not go well for anybody.
But the biggest piece of the puzzle was always going to be my new DVR. For the most part, everything I've tried blows when compared to TiVo, but the Motorola Moxi model they gave me isn't that bad. The interface is not as good as TiVo for sure, but it's speedy and gets the job done. The only problem I've found so far is that only a small number of channels are able to be programmed for recording over the internet (NONE of the HD channels are). This is an EPIC FAIL! because being able program my DVR while traveling is kind of important.
Oooh... speaking of important... do you think they have porn channels in HD??
Posted on Thursday, January 7th, 2010
I do not do well with heights, and being too far above the earth bothers me more than it should. Much more. Usually, this isn't much of an issue for people like me, because you just avoid absurdly tall places. If, for example, your frisbee gets stuck on the roof, you don't grab the nearest ladder and charge on up to get it... you instead find the nearest child and pay him $2 to risk death and dismemberment by climbing up that ladder for you. Children are fearless, especially when it comes to money, so this isn't much of a challenge unless their annoying parents are hanging around.
There is one problem with this strategy, however, and that's if you are somebody who travels often.
Because travelers come to a realization very quickly: Most of the Cool Stuff is Tall.
When you arrive home from Paris, let's say, the first thing that people ask is "Ooh! Did you go up the Eiffel Tower??" From then on out, it doesn't matter what you say, because no excuse you offer is good enough...
Any attempt to disguise the fact that you're a big baby when it comes to tall places will ultimately be rejected with something like "How could you go to Paris and not go up the Eiffel Tower? Are you stupid?" Which is why I ultimately face my fears of plummeting to my death and go up the damn tower (or building or landmark or cathedral or cliff or helicopter or whatever the hell else places devise to terrorize people).
And so I've been up the Space Needle. The Gateway Arch. The Sears Tower. Hancock Tower. The World Trade Center. The Empire State Building. Splash Mountain. The Grand Canyon. The Waimea Canyon. Bryce Canyon. The Cologne Cathedral. Petronas Towers. Tokyo Tower. Yokohama Landmark Tower. The Buckets of Death. The Stratosphere. The Sagrada Familia. The London Eye. The Tower Bridge. Olympic Tower. CN Tower. The Tower of Terror. The Capilano Suspension Bridge. The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Coit Tower. Shanghai Tower. The Peak. Mary's Bridge at Neuschwanstein. St. Peter's Basilica. St Paul's Cathedral. St. Mark's Campanile. The Monument to the Discoveries. The Holmenkollen Ski Jump. The Cliffs of Santorini. AND YES, THE FUCKING EIFFEL TOWER! Just to name a few off the top of my head.
And I could tell you that they were all just bloody fantastic experiences and gave my life new meaning... but thinking back to each experience, what I probably remember most is being scared out of my freakin' mind.
And now there's a new "Tallest Building in the World" that's opened up in Dubai. So when I eventually go there (I'm guessing), I have something to look forward to...
Wheeee. I can't wait.
*It helps here if you've seen Superman II... KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!!
Posted on Friday, January 8th, 2010
It never ceases to amaze me how some people get such a bug up their ass when it comes to a glass of wine.
Too many times I've sat at the table with some self-professed wine connoisseur who has felt the need to bore the ever-loving shit out of everybody with their "expertise." They'll drone on and on about fruit notes and acidity. They'll wax poetic about earthy components and bold finishes. They'll be to the verge of orgasm as they describe puckery tannins and oaky bouquet. And, if you haven't lapsed into a coma when they've run out of wine buzzwords to throw at you, they'll delve into an oration on their favorite decanting techniques. It's a never-ending cavalcade of bullshit designed to make them look smart by pointing out how stupid you are because you don't give a flying fuck what "vinosity" means.
Don't get me wrong... I have nothing against people with a passion for wine who wants to discuss its intricacies and idiosyncrasies with other people who are equally inclined. But is it really necessary to force it on the rest of us? The only thing I care about in a wine is how many glasses it's going to take for me to get drunk...
A part of me wants to fight fire with fire.
What I'll do is study the hell out of some common dinner staple... like say... CORN. I'll learn everything there is to know about corn, and the next time some pompous oenophile decides to batter everybody with the depth of their wine knowledge, I'll hit back with some assholery of my own...
Wino: What a magnificent bottle! The muted tannins are fabulous, and those cherry notes exploding in my mouth are just to die for! And is that a hint of vanilla my sensitive palate is detecting? Why, yes... it is vanilla! Vanilla mixed with a touch of currant. Such sophisticated nuances here... and when you marry that to its dense body and throaty florals on the back end... it's just heaven. Heaven in a glass I say! And don't get me started on the texture! The glossy mouthfeel reminds me of a trip to Napa I took ba--
Dave: HAVE YOU TASTED THIS CORN?!? UN-FUCKING BELIEVABLE CORN HERE! It's sweeter than the butter they topped it with! There's also a toothy bite that makes my mouth sing... and don't get me started on those starches. This corn has starches so crisp and inviting that I'd swear my mouth has been wrapped in silk! And the color! I haven't seen a yellow this vibrant since that limited edition crop of Heirloom corn I had back in '98! I defy you to find a sexier yellow than this corn! Your piss isn't this beautiful a shade of yellow! Now, do you think this is Quincy corn or perhaps a Japanese import? If I were a betting man... AND I AM... I'd say this is some kind of organic hybrid. Perhaps using a new iteration of hydroponics-based therapy. Because this... this is some amazing shit right here. One thing's for certain... I'm ordering a second helping of this bad boy!
Well, it's either that or I start talking about Dungeons & Dragons.
Either way, I SHALL HAVE MY REVENGE!
Wow. I could really go for an ear of corn and a glass of wine right now.
Posted on Saturday, January 9th, 2010
I am a long-time fan of Gumby. I had more than one Gumby doll when I was a kid, getting a new one when the old one had worn out from playing with him too much. I was equally a fan of Gumby's horse, Pokey. And even though I grew up, I never really outgrew the little green guy and his orange sidekick.
I have mini Gumby & Pokey dolls on my desk. I named the network printers at my office "Gumby" and "Pokey." I have a postcard of Gumby & Pokey stuck to my filing cabinet. I bought all the Bob Burden/Art adams Gumby comics. The icon for the hard disk on each of my Macs was traditionally Gumby (who moved from old computer to new computer, right up until I installed
My love for all things Gumby will not die.
Which is why I was very sad to learn that Gumby's creator, Art Clokey, passed away yesterday.
For teaching me to use my imagination and giving me a lifetime of happy memories... rest in peace, Mr. Clokey.
If you're wanting to explore the freakishly bizarre world of Gumby, then you'll be happy to know that Hulu has a collection of cartoons available to watch for free! Prepare to get your mind blown (assuming you live in the USA, as Hulu doesn't seem to work elsewhere)...
Posted on Sunday, January 10th, 2010
Oh joy! I have to get up at 3:30am so I can make my flight! This will probably be a short Bullet Sunday.
• Roxxxy! Holy crap! The latest technology in sex dolls coming out of the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas is pretty mind-boggling. A company called TrueCompanion has developed "Roxxxy" a sex ROBOT who can listen, talk, respond to touch, sleep, and even have an orgasm. As if that wasn't enough, she can be customized to order and be programmed with a variety of personalities... Frigid Farrah is reserved and shy, Wild Wendy is outgoing and adventurous, Mature Martha has a matriarchal kind of caring, S&M Susan for more adventurous types, and Barely 18 who has a naïve personality. I hope Roxxxy isn't too smart... it would be pretty depressing if your sex robot didn't like you enough to have sex with you. TrueCompanion is also working on a male sex robot named "Rocky," so the ladies can have their own fun. Or, I suppose, you could just let Rocky and Roxxxy have perfect robot sex with each other. Since their sexual organs are probably made of steel, they're probably the only ones who can satisfy each other anyway. All I know is that I don't want a sexual companion who could theoretically turn into The Terminator and kill me. Though, come to think of it, that's no different than most of the women I've dated, so I guess it's all good...
Original photo by AFP.
• Corn! I finally got around to watching two movies about the food we eat: King Corn and Food, Inc. Both films are pretty intense and scary... showing where the food comes from, how it is made, and how it is controlled. And while neither tells the full story, the information they show does give you a lot to think about (assuming you aren't so traumatized and freaked out of your mind that you can't mentally function). Both are highly recommended, and can be watched instantly if you have a streaming account at Netflix...
Gee. Sex robots and corn. I don't know what I could possibly add to that. Told you it would be a short Bullet Sunday.
Posted on Monday, January 11th, 2010
And so I had an unexpected day-trip to Chicago come up. But it's not really a day-trip when it takes a day to get there and a day to get back. And, when you have to start your day at 3:30am after staying up past midnight, it feels very much like a four-day trip.
So yes, it sucks... and yes, I feel like death... and yes, I know I promised myself I'd stay home the month of January... but we don't always get what we want, do we?
But there was something to look forward to. New stamps to add to my Gowalla Passport!
Or so I thought.
Between the weak GPS in my iPhone and the shitty state of wireless service from AT&T, using Gowalla is more a frustration than a fun scavenger hunt...
Yes, I can't get a 3G signal IN THE MIDDLE OF FUCKING CHICAGO!
And even though I get EDGE with full bars, there's NO data connection! AT&T FAIL!
And it seems like just yesterday that I was bragging that I had only had one bad experience with AT&T's wireless. It was when I was in Las Vegas calling Jenny. And now I'm in Chicago, and it's WORSE. Coverage SUCKS! My iPhone gears down from 3G to EDGE so often that you'd think Chicago didn't even have 3G. And even when you DO manage to get online, you've got a very real chance of not getting any data linkage AT ALL.
So this is what everybody has been bitching about!
Though, I am now thinking that it's not AT&T's fault. Because Jenny lives in Chicago. And the last time I had problems in Las Vegas, Jenny was in Las Vegas. And since I haven't had problems anywhere else on earth, I'm thinking that clearly the problem here... is Jenny!
Though that doesn't explain the myriad of problems I've had with my iPhone GPS lately. Like trying to check in at a Chicago Landmark, The Bean, only to find the GPS has me outside of check-in range...
When clearly I am there. What do I have to do, sit on top of it? I mean, I understand that sometimes tall buildings and trees can obstruct GPS signal... BUT I'M IN THE MIDDLE OF OPEN SPACE!! WTF?!? It leaves me standing in Milennium Park wanting to scream NO! I'M HERE YOU MORON!!
Oh well. Tomorrow after work Jenny and I are going to go see Avatar in 3D IMAX over at Navy Pier. It's apparently so good that people are becoming depressed when they wake up the next day and find out that the world is not a beautiful as the fictional world of "Pandora" in the movie...
Heaven only knows I need more depression in my life!
Posted on Tuesday, January 12th, 2010
Ummm... yeah. If you live within a hundred miles of an IMAX theater showing Avatar in 3-D... you should go. And if you don't live within a hundred miles radius of an IMAX theater showing Avatar in 3-D... you should still go. It's just that mind-blowing an experience.
Sure the story is so predictable that you'll feel you've suddenly become psychic. And yes, the plot is so black & white that you could cut yourself with the sharp division between good & evil. And true, it's got some stuff going on that seems so forced that you'll swear a giant shoehorn is going to appear on-screen any minute.
It's also the singular most immersive spectacle you're likely to see for a while.
After seeing the miraculous CGI used to create an entire world, you will believe that anything is possible. Anything...
You keep telling yourself that it's not real... that it's just a computer-generated image... but then you forget. And pretty soon you just give in to the fact that 10-foot tall blue aliens actually exist.
And that alone would be amazing.
But the 3-D pushes it to the next level. There were several times throughout the movie that my fear of heights was literally kicking in. This isn't some cheesy attempt to use 3-D for quirky effects... it's 3-D used with such subtlety and mastery that it puts you in the film. Which is why you really need to make an effort to see it in IMAX 3-D before it's gone.
Well, until the sequel comes along.
Bravo, James Cameron. This time you've created a movie that actually deserves to make billions of dollars.
Posted on Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
So televangelist and so-called "Man of God" Pat Robertson has gone and said something bat-shit insane.Again.
Apparently he feels that the Haitian people made a pact with the devil in order to end French colonization. He doesn't mention anything about who the Haitians made a pact with to end the United States occupation in 1934, but I'm assuming it's somebody pretty high up on the Evil Scale. Perhaps Bert from Sesame Street, myself, or Dick Cheney...
Never mind that none of us existed back in 1934, when you're talking about Pat Robertson, words like "logic" and "sanity" go right out the window. This is nothing new. I put Pat at the top of the Insanity Scale back in 2006...
Because here's the thing... when it comes to crazy shit, Pat Robertson is top of the heap. It doesn't get more crazy than this. He's so nuts that Wikipedia has to keep a separate page devoted to all the insanity.
Don't get me wrong, the fruitcake has the right to say whatever fucked up shit he wants to say (this being America and all), but the problem I have is that people buy into the stuff he puts out there. People actually give their hard-earned money to Pat Robertson so he can keep his crazy on the air. I understand that there are individuals out there who are just looking for a way to keep faith in their lives, and think that Pat Robertson fills this need... but how much ridiculous bullshit does it take before you go shopping for a new religious leader? Anyone? Anyone?
It's not just that Pat Robertson is a stupid, hypocritical, uncaring, opportunistic, lying piece of shit, it's that he's just plain evil. It doesn't matter if he actually believes that God is such an asshole that He would slaughter innocent children and animals who get in the way of His divine vengeance... it's that Pat is so lacking in compassion that he would actually SAY that to a devastated people. Couldn't he just say "I'm so sorry to hear about the tragedy in Haiti. It's sometimes difficult to see God's plan for us when things like this happen, but we have to trust in His wisdom. I pray that the people of Haiti let the Lord into their hearts so that He can help get them through this. God bless you all." — SEE?!? That's a COMPASSIONATE and TACTFUL way to tell people that you think God hates them and it's their fault that God had to smite their asses. But Pat Robertson doesn't have a compassionate or tactful bone in his body because he's just fucking evil. Tragedy strikes, and there's Pat to pass judgement (which is supposed to be God's territory, but maybe Pat Robertson has never read The Bible to know this). Just like Nancy Grace and Ann Coulter, "Reverend" Pat is a whore who just loves to turn other people's tragedies into a money-making opportunity. It's the very definition of evil...
If there is any justice, Pat Robertson's god will judge him using the same compassion and logic that Pat Robertson uses to judge everybody else.
Which basically means he's fucked.
And it couldn't happen to a nicer person.
More crazy Pat Robertson crap on Blogography...
August 23, 2005. I try to figure out why Pat Robertson is such a fucking moron.
January 6, 2006. I tell Pat Robertson to shut the fuck up.
June 25, 2007. I surmise that it's actually Pat Robertson who is a tool of the devil.
And now, on a more serious note...
I've written many times about my love, admiration, and respect for Doctors Without Borders and the incredible work they do. Often going where angels fear to tread, DWB is an international medical humanitarian organization working in more than 60 countries to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe. They are in Haiti right now, doing everything they can to tend to the victims of the earthquake. If you can help them to help others, please visit their website and make a donation...
Posted on Thursday, January 14th, 2010
I am so tired that I can barely function. I have a to-do list a mile long. I have a pile of work that's so deep I won't see daylight for quite a while. I have 67 unread emails in my inbox. I have 313 unread items in my feed reader. I have nightmarish thoughts that plague me morning and night. I have so many things going wrong right now that a continuous state of mild despair is how I define "normal."
And yet I look at the tragedy unfolding in Haiti and realize that I have a pretty amazing life... idyllic even... when compared to the suffering these people are having to endure.
Perspective. It can so easily illustrate what's really important in life.
I just wish that misfortune and tragedy weren't necessary for us to realize it.
I've written many times about my love, admiration, and respect for Doctors Without Borders and the incredible work they do. Often going where angels fear to tread, DWB is an international medical humanitarian organization working in more than 60 countries to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe. They are in Haiti right now, doing everything they can to tend to the victims of the earthquake. If you can help them to help others, please visit their website and make a donation...
Posted on Friday, January 15th, 2010
At long last.
The news I've been waiting over 25 years to hear has just been released by Disney...
BURBANK, Calif. (January 15, 2010) - Principal photography is underway in London for Walt Disney Pictures' "JOHN CARTER OF MARS." Academy Award-winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton brings this captivating hero to the big screen in a stunning adventure epic set on the wounded planet of Mars, a world inhabited by warrior tribes and exotic desert beings. Based on the first of Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Barsoom Series," the film chronicles the journey of Civil-War veteran John Carter, who finds himself battling a new and mysterious war amidst a host of strange Martian inhabitants.
After I had watched Star Wars in 1977, my 11-year-old mind was ensnared by science fiction and I was desperate for more. I had read a few teen sci-fi books here and there, but the genre never really caught hold. It wasn't until Star Wars that an obsession was born. I quickly became bored with the "kids" version of science fiction and decided to see what awaited me in the adult section of the library. That's when I found A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs...
I devoured all of the Burroughs "Barsoom" books, and used it as a spring-board to the worlds of Asimov, Bradbury, Heinlein, Herbert, and other science fiction giants.
But it was the John Carter of Mars books that remained my favorite (so much so that I even "became" Edgar Rice Burroughs when joining in on Kapgar's "The Lost Blogs" contest).
Sure they are relatively flimsy stories filled with outrageous coincidences and tacky dialogue, but the bizarre creatures and fantastic places that are a hallmark of the stories more than compensated. It was those things that had me dying to see John Carter movies on the big screen.
And, after numerous false starts, that day has finally come.
Here's hoping Andrew Stanton doesn't fuck up a childhood dream...
Posted on Saturday, January 16th, 2010
I love how ABC Television is promoting their new show The Deep End by saying "FROM THE NETWORK THAT BROUGHT YOU GREYS ANATOMY"... like that's some kind of ringing endorsement. ABC is also the network that brought us such steaming turds as Viva Laughlin and Cop Rock, as well as cancelling such brilliant shows as Pushing Daisies and Cupid (the Jeremy Piven Original... not the shitty remake). Hardly a track record that inspires confidence.
I should adopt this ridiculous qualification system for myself.
From now on, whenever I write a new blog post, I think I'll preface it with "FROM THE BLOGGER WHO BROUGHT YOU PENIS SALAD"...
Because about the only thing more disturbing than this blog would be finding a severed penis in your salad.
Or maybe finding Lindsay Lohan's abused crotch in your chocolate pudding...
Though right now I'd have to say NOTHING is worse than finding David Caruso on your television...
Except perhaps finding your airplane in the Hudson River...
Can you believe that happened a year ago? Seems like it was only yesterday.
Time sure flies when the world is in a tail-spin.
Posted on Sunday, January 17th, 2010
It's just another Bullet Sunday (whoa o whoaoooo). Wish it was Saturday (whoa o whoaoooo). 'Cause that's my fun day (whoa o whoaoooo). My I-don't-have-to-run day (whoa o whoaoooo). It's just another Bullet Sunday...
• One-Up. The latest round of one-upmanship going on is truly stellar. AT&T and Verizon are battling it out over who has the best 3G service when Sprint jumps into the fray with commercials saying "We got 4G, bitches!!" Never mind that their 4G coverage map is anemic at best, it still makes AT&T and Verizon's argument look petty and antiquated. And then there's the mobile phone battle... Nokia sues Apple for patent infringement, and so now Apple fires back with a lawsuit of its own saying "we want Nokia phone imports BANNED, bitch!" I guess where millions and millions of dollars are involved, this kind of thing is inevitable, but it all seems so stupid. Everybody shut the fuck up, put the legal fees into making your products and services better, and may the best mobile phone and network win.
• Golden Globes. I really, really, don't care about the Golden Globes. Though hearing that the brilliant Christoph Waltz rightly won Best Supporting actor makes me want to watch Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds all over again.
• Team Conan. I'm sure Jay Leno is a nice guy and I'm sure some people think he's very funny. I don't think he's funny at all, which is why I am firmly on Team Conan in the whole late-night talk show battle that's raging. But, putting funny aside, I'd still be on Team Conan after watching this clip over at Funny or Die...
So, basically, Jay let Conan hang on for five years with the promise of getting the show... then took it back when his new show tanked. One could argue that this has nothing to do with Jay, and it's all the network's fault, but the simple fact is that Conan would not be getting the boot if Jay turned down the network's offer to take the show back like he pretty much premised he would in this clip. Lame.
• Blogography. Today I got an email from somebody telling me that they have a photography blog they've named "Blogography" and I should hand over my domain because they are using it for business purposes. This is not the first time. A while back I got an email from somebody who was "concerned" that my blog was confusing to people because they were using "Blogography" for their blog, and I should sell my domain to them. For $50. To which I politely respond "no." As I've blogged before, I Googled "Blogography" before I bought the domain, and the word did not exist. And even though I scrapped the first year of my blog when I rebooted it in 2003, I've been using "blogography.com" continuously since I purchased it in March of 2002. With that in mind, I remain mystified as to how anybody thinks they deserve my domain more than I do.
• Haiti Help. I've written many times about my love, admiration, and respect for Doctors Without Borders and the incredible work they do. Often going where angels fear to tread, DWB is an international medical humanitarian organization working in more than 60 countries to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe. They are in Haiti right now, doing everything they can to tend to the victims of the earthquake. If you can help them to help others, please visit their website and make a donation...
And now I should probably get some work done. Heaven only knows there's enough of it laying around.
Posted on Monday, January 18th, 2010
There are people who get Martin Luther King Jr. Day off work. I am not one of those people. But I did go in an hour late to do my part. I also stopped by the mini-mart so I could pick up a bag of cheese-popcorn and a bottle of Coke.
As I was heading up to the cash register to pay for my breakfast, some guy came in and announced "HAPPY BROWN BROTHER DAY!" To which somebody else said "Maybe one day we'll get a white guy day." After nearly tripping on my own feet in disbelief as I approached the counter, I was compelled to say "EVERY DAY IS WHITE GUY DAY! Especially in this redneck town."
I guess I should stop being surprised when I hear stuff like this, but it never fails.
Probably because I'm too hopeful.
Though I wasn't jumped in the parking lot afterwards, and I didn't get the crap beat out of me for being a smart-ass, so I guess that's something.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness... only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate... only love can do that."
— Martin Luther King Jr.
Posted on Tuesday, January 19th, 2010
Am I the only one who keeps an Anarchy List?
You know... a list of people you will personally kill until they are dead if you're ever diagnosed with six months to live... or find out that the world will explode in four weeks... or aliens invade... or some other world-devastating event? A special list that you will act upon ONLY if going to jail or getting killed won't make much of a difference? A list filled with people, companies, or even places that deserve to be obliterated for the betterment of all society? A list so nasty that you'd be willing to give up your pacifist beliefs for the sweet, sweet taste of revenge?
Yeah, I thought so.
Tonight I added a telephone survey company to my Anarchy List.
Since they're technically not "selling you something," they're not obligated to comply with the National Do Not Call Registry, and can call you whenever they want. I hate them for that, and so they must die. If I'm ever given six months to live, their entire company headquarters will be destroyed and their call center will be wiped off the face of the earth... probably by way of a stolen FIM-92 Stinger missile... or perhaps an incendiary charge strapped to a fuel truck I've borrowed. In any event, VENGEANCE WILL BE MINE!
If only it were this easy...
Seriously... who in the hell wants to be bothered at home for an unsolicited survey by some politician or market research company or some other stupid crap? Maybe there are people so bored that they actually live for this bullshit, but I am not one of them. Why isn't there a DO NOT CALL WITH BULLSHIT OR YOU WILL FUCKING DIE registry? I mean, it's as much for their safety as it is for my sanity.
There really should be a DO NOT CALL WITH BULLSHIT OR YOU WILL FUCKING DIE registry.
Because I care. I really do.
Posted on Wednesday, January 20th, 2010
Having a blog can sometimes be a very, very strange thing.
Mostly because of the people who end up reading it. Well, not you, obviously, but you know... those people.
You know, the people who happen across a blog, read ONE entry, then feel that they know absolutely everything about you and have all the information they need to judge you. The people who feel that their opinion is the only one that matters, and if your opinion is contrary to theirs, then you're wrong and evil and stupid and don't deserve to live. Yes, I'm talking about those people.
Usually, I just delete the comments and emails from those people because their abuse just isn't worth it. They've already condemned you, and nothing you say or do will ever change their mind.
Oh, sure, every once in a while I get a comment that is so outrageous that I simply can't stop myself from publishing it... like the crazy-ass pageant mom who trashed me in a comment over something I never said or even hinted at. But that's rare. Most of the time I just don't bother.
Like when I wrote an entry in support of the National Equality March on Washington and got a comment telling me that I am a "condescending fuck" and "demeaning to gays" (or something like that)... for supporting gay marriage. Apparently, only gays can offer words of support and encouragement to gays or else they're just being snobby patronizing elitists. DELETE!
Or when I wrote how much I enjoyed The Holy Land Experience theme park and called it "inspirational, even if you're not a Christian"... only to get a comment telling me that "people like you" (heh) "only go there to mock Christians and ruin the park for everybody with your Godless perversions" (or something like that). Apparently, only Christians are allowed to say nice things about Christian things or else they're just being snobby patronizing elitists. DELETE!
Or when I wrote about my worries over having intestinal distress from my doctor-mandated restrictive diet and got a comment telling me that "real people suffer from intestinal problems and their lives are made worse by ignorant assholes like you who only want to make fun of them" (or someth... no, that was exactly what they said). Apparently, only people with severe intestinal disorders can joke about having diarrhea or else they're just being snobby patronizing elitists. DELETE!
Honestly. You can't make this stuff up.
Tonight while I was watching Food Network's Throwdown with Bobby Flay, the challenge was making Belgian Waffles. This reminded me of a comment I got when I wrote about my favorite thing about visiting Paris...
This resulted in a bizarre, profanity-laden comment from some American guy who was tired of "ugly Americans" (such as myself) insulting foreign cultures and making us all look bad.
Because I like waffles.
Well, damn. Apparently I am just a snobby patronizing elitist no matter what I do.
That comment still hurts, even after all these years.
Which is why I ended up healing my pain by buying a new Belgian Waffle baker from Amazon tonight. Just to be sure I didn't suffer a relapse, I also ordered some Stonewall Kitchen Waffle Mix.
Don't judge me.
Sometimesa little retail therapy is all we snobby patronizing elitists have to keep us warm at night.
Posted on Thursday, January 21st, 2010
Who knew I'd be adding one more thing to my Anarchy List after just one day!Earlier this week, Verizon's internet email server suddenly stopped allowing me to send emails. I called "tech support" and was told my password was probably wrong. I doubted it, since the same password has been stored on my computer and working for the past five years, but I played along. Eventually it started working again, but I surmised it was probably a temporary problem with Verizon's SMTP server rather than anything on my end.
Then this morning, after sending a dozen emails just fine, Verizon stopped accepting my emails once again. First I tried using the "Automated Customer Support Agent" because the thought of calling Verizon Support made me want to slam my head in a door. He's kind of stupid-robot-plastic-looking-creepy... especially when he blinks... but I didn't want to judge "his" intelligence by appearances...
Obviously getting nowhere, I called up "tech support." I wish I would have recorded the conversation. Not just because it was incredibly stupid... but because I'm screaming like a two-year-old at the end. A much abbreviated approximation of the call went something like this...
I see that you called two days ago...
You reset your password?
Yes. I had to because your SMTP server stopped accepting my emails. They said I probably has a bad password even though it is saved on my computer and has worked for the past five years.
If we have confirmed that the password is working, then it is a Mac problem.
I sincerely doubt that, but hey... whatever. What do you want me to do?
I'm trying to tell you that it is a Mac problem.
If you can login to Verizon, then it is not a Verizon problem.
Then you are obviously insane. All logging on to the Verizon website does is verify that my password is working. It does nothing to verify that your SMTP server is working properly.
They are the same server.
A web server doesn't run SMTP services. They are two different things.
I'm telling you they are the same server.
You're telling me that a web service sending HTML pages is the exact same thing as an SMTP service relaying emails? Even though they use different protocols over different ports?
That is what I am telling you.
Then you obviously don't know what you are talking about. Can I speak to somebody that does?
They will have the same information I am giving you.
You are driving me crazy here. My account has worked fine for FIVE YEARS. I entered a new password and things worked again for a day and a half. Now you're telling me this is MY problem? Well I guess I have to cancel ANOTHER Verizon account. Thanks for nothing.
As you can see, I got better support from the "Automated Virtual Assistant."
Verizon "tech support" is apparently staffed with people who have no initiative to look past the script on their screen or investigate anything that has to do with THEM having the problem.
And here's the deal... twenty minutes later, AFTER CHANGING NOTHING, my emails were being mysteriously accepted again. So yes, this is MY fault. It is a MACINTOSH problem. It was my MACINTOSH that suddenly decided to fake an SMTP error from Verizon out of the blue. No way that Verizon's flakey SMTP server could be having problems... BECAUSE THE WEB SERVER IS WORKING. And, as you know, THE WEB SERVER AND THE SMTP SERVER ARE THE EXACT SAME THING. Which is surprising, because EVERY COMPUTER I'VE EVER SEEN has them as two separate services. Unless you consider webmail, but even then the email is undoubtedly passed off to another service to actually be sent. Yes, it is possible to run both servers on the same computer, BUT THEY ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS!!
It's like saying your busted-ass toaster isn't broken because your microwave is working and they're both in the same kitchen.
Maybe I should send Verizon "tech support" a link to WikiAnswers. Or maybe EVERYBODY ELSE IS WRONG TOO! Maybe Verizon has some super-service that serves web, email, and video porn from the same app! ZOMG! THEY'RE JUST THAT SMERT!! That way when ONE fails, EVERYTHING FAILS! Genius!
Now, I realize the general population is stupid and you have to assume that they've fucked up somewhere because 99% of the time it's probably true. Or they're running Windows. But give me a break. I'm not some random idiot who doesn't know how to turn on a computer, so treating my like I'm the moron who doesn't know the difference between a website and email is only going to piss me off.
I hate Verizon. I hate them with the burning passion of a thousand suns. Nothing is ever their problem. EVER. It's always YOUR fault or your MAC'S fault. YOU'VE changed something. YOU'VE done something wrong. Which is why it's no wonder I finally cancelled Verizon DSL at home. Hey, my cable internet may slow to a craw for a few minutes at random intervals, but at least I am not having to deal with Verizon "tech support" any more.
In other news, I am totally hiring that "Verizon Automated Virtual Assistant" to write for my blog. That guy is GENIUS!
Posted on Friday, January 22nd, 2010
Imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery.
But when it's a poor imitation, it's just insulting.
I created Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey "DaveToons" back in 2002 for my Hard Rock Cafe fan site "DaveCafe" (click here for the whole story). Since that time, they've appeared on my blog regularly, and have been printed on everything from shirts and hats to playing cards and bumper stickers. Here at my home in the Wenatchee Valley, they've been all around for years because I'm often giving T-Shirts away to my friends or donating them to events and such.
So I imagine it was only a matter of time before somebody decided to rip-off my characters to sell their crap. A year or so ago, somebody told me that a coffee stand had changed "Bad Monkey" to "Naughty Monkey" and made him as the mascot for their business...
Poor imitation on the left, original on the right
He's kind of been butchered here... the relocation of his nose is particularly disturbing
They even took the color of the shirt he was printed on!
The sad thing is that if the owners of the coffee stand had bothered to follow the copyright link on the shirt to my blog and emailed me, I might have given them permission to use my character and also do their artwork for them if they were nice! It's a small valley... we may even know the same people. Maybe we could have worked out a deal where they'd sell my shirts and I'd split the profits with them! I usually don't license out my art for commercial purposes... but, come on, a struggling independent local coffee company wanting to name their business after something you created? How cool is that?!?
But they didn't, and (assumably) ripped me off instead (I don't buy this as a coincidence). Then, surprise! IT'S KARMA, BITCH!
The reason I don't license my characters or give permission to use them for commercial purposes is simple. I don't make any money off my creations, so why should anybody else? I guess that doesn't stop people from taking them anyway. And, in this case, I guess justice was served.
At least until somebody else buys the business and re-opens it.
Posted on Saturday, January 23rd, 2010
There's only so many times you can see acts of random aggression, belittlement, and torment before you start thinking that the extinction of the human race wouldn't be such a bad thing.
I guess it's only natural, because it's always easier to destroy something than to build something.
But is it really so damn difficult to offer up words of encouragement every once in a while?
In other news... NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Brad and Angelina are splitting up!
If they can't make it in this world, what chance does anybody else have?
No chance, that's what.
UPDATE: Now rumor has it that Brad and Angelina are NOT breaking up! Yay! I can sleep tonight. And dream of a better tomorrow. A tomorrow where Brad and Angelina are happy together forever!
Posted on Sunday, January 24th, 2010
I'm hungry and it's Bullet Sunday so I thought I'd bullet my current food obsessions!
• PINK LADY APPLES!
Seriously, these things are like candy. Like Sweet-Tarts candy. Apparently they're some kind of unholy hybrid union between Golden Delicious and Lady Williams varieties that are crunchy, sour, and sweet all at the same time. They're expensive, but so totally worth it. Just. Can't. Get. Enough.
• FROSTED FLAKES!
I am kind of going through a Frosted Flakes Renaissance. I eat these things for breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, snacks, and also use them as a delicious way to exfoliate my skin. Just like Tony the Tiger says... they're grrreat!
• CHEESE TOASTWICHES!
Schwan's makes a lot of delicious frozen foods, but their Cheese Toastwiches are to die for. I've never been addicted to crack cocaine, but I'd imagine it's much like this. I frickin' DREAM about eating Cheese Toastwiches! Crispy crunchy on the outside... gooey cheesy on the inside. It's everything good in life combined into a toastable snack! Unfortunately, they are horribly unhealthy with 11g of fat, 5g of saturated fat, 20mg of cholesterol, and 490mg of sodium. Yikes. The good news is that they taste so good you won't mind that they're killing you! Helpful cooking hint: cook one cycle with the toaster set on medium-high, then WAIT 5 to 10 minutes to completely thaw, then toast another cycle (toaster setting may vary).
I've never been much of a cranberry fan. Except for cranberry jelly at Thanksgiving. And cranberry juice mixed with vodka. And maybe cranberry jellybeans. But anyway... I first ate Craisins at the Hard Rock Cafe because they put them on their salads. I've been in love with them ever since. I eat them on salads. On Frosted Flakes. In cookies. Or right out of the bag. Bittersweet deliciousness.
• PRETZEL THINS!
I kept getting these on airplanes, but could never find them in the "real world." Eventually I noticed that Pepperidge Farms was making them. This means they are really expensive, but they are also delicious. I go through a couple of boxes a week, which would make me feel bad... except they're fat-free, and that's pretty good isn't it? In any event, they're a nice change from "regular" pretzels.
And now I'm REALLY hungry, so I think I'll go rustle up something for dinner.
Posted on Monday, January 25th, 2010
Posted on Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
I don't know when it happened, but I'm betting it was after I watched Pixar's WALL-E.
I've started to anamorphize inanimate objects.
I find myself attaching emotions and feelings to things like my iPhone and my television remote control. I dropped my iPhone a while back and have been worried that it hates me for it ever since. I spilled Orange Crush on my television remote and felt it resenting me for days. This is new for electronics, but I've done it for years with living things... which is why I can't bring myself to kill a wayward spider in my home, and instead take him outside...
I just don't need that on my conscience.
Unfortunate little spider.
Anyway... today I read that the Mars Rover, "Spirit," has been stuck in sand on the red planet for the past 10 months, and now scientists have given up on ever getting him out. All they can do is try to get him to turn towards the sun so his solar panels can collect enough energy to keep him from freezing in the Martian winter. The hope is that even though he can't move, he can still be useful for scientific research if they can keep him alive.
As you can imagine, I'm pretty upset at the thought of poor little Spirit stuck and freezing up on Mars...
As if I didn't have enough things to worry about.
I suppose asking NASA to stage a multi-billion-dollar rescue mission is out of the question?
Posted on Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
I fully admit to being a total Apple Whore. I love Apple. I (heart) Macintosh. I worship Steve Jobs. If Jonathan Ive were to ask me to have his baby, I'd look into the necessary surgery. My MacBook Pro is more important to me than tacos. If I had to choose between losing a testicle or losing my iPhone, I'd give it some serious thought... and then say goodbye to one of my testicles. I don't just drink the Apple Kool-Aid, I have a constant supply being fed intravenously. I stop short of masturbating during a Steve Jobs keynote, but just watching him on-stage as he changes the world is enough for me to want to touch myself inappropriately.
This is not news. I've proclaimed my slutty predisposition so many times in this blog that if you were to Google Image Search "Apple Whore" I come up at #5. Literally...
Well, okay, it's me as a Lil' Dave cartoon, but you get the picture.
And yet... my being an Apple Whore is not a totally unhealthy relationship because there are things I don't like about Apple and their products, and have never been afraid to say so (how else will they learn?). In this respect I have no problem being proud of my whore status.
Which brings us to Apple's latest miracle on earth... the iPad...
Glorious, isn't it?
Well, kind of.
If your need of a "computer" extends to casual email and web surfing, renting an occasional video, looking at an occasional photo album, and perhaps playing a few games from time to time... well, it's great. And there's even bonus stuff like a calendar, address book, e-reader, and various cool apps you can add. This puts your "digital life" in the palm of your hand in a way that most people would absolutely love.
Except this device isn't really made for me... both because of what I need out of a "computer" and what Apple left out. Sure I want an iPad (I'm an Apple Whore, after all), but I certainly don't need an iPad. In all honesty, it's just an unnecessary extra piece of equipment that my MacBook Pro and iPhone already have covered (and covered much better).
That being said... this is just fantastic for its target audience.
But not flawless by any means.
I'm not going to nitpick the thing apart here with my personal wish-list for a tablet machine. That would be kind of pointless given that I need an actual "computer" and this is more of a "device with some computer functionality." I'm not who Apple built the iPad for, so complaining that it doesn't have a 500 gig hard drive and run Photoshop is just plain stupid. What I will do is list the two things that most bother me... keeping the intended user in mind.
• No iChat Camera.
This is simply unfathomable. Apple will stuff a camera in a freakin' iPod NANO... but doesn't put a camera on the iPad for video conferencing ability? And I don't want to hear about how this would adversely affect AT&T's already overburdened network... they could have easily limited it to just WiFi connections. It's insanity. I keep thinking how cool it would be to get an iPad for my grandmother and video-chat with her when I'm traveling. This device could make it so easy for her. Such a huge missed opportunity, and impossible for me to understand...
• Shitty E-Reading File Format
Newspapers and magazines are dying because they can't survive in a digital world where people expect everything to be free. Apple had a golden opportunity to address this with their iTunes book store for iPad, but then dropped the ball because they went with the shitty "ePub" file format. Sure it's great if all you want to do is shove book text to the reader like a Kindel. But forget about having any decent formatting tools. This pretty much kills any magazine, comic, or book which requires any kind of layout for proper visual presentation. It's most certainly a decision based squarely on helping book publishers create content with a format they already know, but I can only hope that Apple eventually adds an "iMagazine" reader and backs it with PDF-like control over elements for everybody else. I was hoping... praying... that Apple would come up with something that would allow indie publishers the same kind of ability for magazine sales that indie musicians have with iTunes for music sales. Alas... not. Not yet anyway. Sure there are third party apps that can do something similar, but they don't have the power and ease of iTunes distribution behind them. Heck, I'd be happy if Apple just allowed some kind of PDF conversion to run through the iTunes Store for document sales, that would be fine. But we get nothing? Sad.
If just those two things were addressed, I'd feel a lot better about pronouncing iPad a triumph. Yes it would be nice to have some other stuff... an external memory slot... removable battery... 100% DRM-free media... a GPS... multi-tasking OS... color e-ink non-glare screen... free network access for purchases... and on and on... but those can all be explained away logically for one reason or another (whether I agree with the reasoning or not). I just don't see how leaving out an iChat camera and lacking a decent publication format can be put in that same boat. I honestly feel they belong there, or else the iPad is incomplete.
In the final analysis, I just don't know. The "iMagazine" stuff could be easily added... but a camera (if it ever comes) is a second generation hardware feature that early-adopters will miss.
Still, if you're just looking for a way to handle email, surf the web, and play with apps, I admit the iPad is an attractive alternative to a netbook. The fact that Apple put so much into polish and ease of use is just icing on the cake.
But that's always the case for Apple, and why I continue to be an Apple Whore.
Posted on Thursday, January 28th, 2010
Reading reactions to Apple's iPad announcement yesterday has been the best entertainment I've had in ages... and I've seen Avatar in IMAX 3-D.
The thing that as become crystal clear to me as I wade through the massive amount of hatred and disappointment is this: People. Just. Don't. Get. It. Most of the computer trade and the geek culture is at a boiling point because the iPad isn't a "real computer" and they can't play Flash content, multitask apps, make a phone call, or any number of other things. But that's like complaining that your new DVD player can't make toast... it's simply not designed for that. The iPad is a digital lifestyle device that is internet-enabled. And, even though it can do many of the things people use computers for, it was never meant to be a computer.
And that's perfectly okay. As I said yesterday, the iPad isn't for me either. I've got my MacBook Pro and my iPhone which are made specifically to meet my needs.
As I also said yesterday, the things I have a problem with have to do with what the iPad IS not what it ISN'T. It IS supposed to be a communication and connectivity device. Therefore it SHOULD have an iChat front-facing camera to compete in this arena. It IS supposed to be an e-book/media reader. Therefore it SHOULD have better layout abilities in its iBook file format to accommodate magazines, comics, picture books and the like.
And maybe that's coming in iPad 2.0, I don't know. But they're glaring omissions in an otherwise beautiful device... for its intended audience. And that would be people who just want a simple, functional, easy-to-use device for handling their media and doing occasional web surfing and email. The apps, games, and extras are just a bonus to make it an even more useful a tool for its intended audience.
And that could potentially be many, many individuals once that "target audience" is understood to be people who aren't looking for a computer in tablet form, but something else.
I can think of lots of people who don't really want or need a computer, but would love to have a compact device just to store their photos and share them with people. And iPad makes one heck of an amazing photo album, easily able to organize thousands of photos and display them beautifully with ease...
I can think of lots of people who don't really want or need a computer, but would love to be able to rent an occasional movie for an airplane trip. And iPad makes one heck of a media player... with a video rental store built right in! It's a better-looking movie viewer than any portable DVD player I've seen (and far less hassle for renting DVDs), that's for sure...
I can think of lots of people who don't really want or need a computer, but would love to have an easy way to look up things on the internet from time to time. And iPad makes one heck of a web browser, bringing intuitive access to the internet in a way that is natural and understandable...
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The fact that iPad can do so much more above and beyond these things... all so elegantly, intuitively, and easily... is a very big deal. It's a multifunctional device which can be expanded to do amazing things with the thousands of apps that are going to run on it. So dismissing iPad as nothing more than a "giant iPod Touch" is hardly a negative. iPod Touch is too small to be truly practical for many of these things anyway. Even in cases where the portability is more desired than practicality, there are still some instances where the larger screen of the iPad would be sweet indeed... such as running the amazing Ask Dave! app SUPER-SIZED...
The only question is whether or not all those people for which this device would be perfect will be willing to buy one. That's a very good question, and I just don't know. Something tells me a decent number of them will.
And once the apps start coming down the pipe which expand the iPad into areas people aren't expecting? I'm guessing it's going to be perfect for a lot more people than what most everybody who is predicting failure might think.
Apple is undoubtedly counting on it.
Posted on Friday, January 29th, 2010
Be vewy vewy quiet...
Posted on Saturday, January 30th, 2010
So there I was, minding my own business as I was walking to the mini-mart, when the woman walking ahead of me unknowingly dropped her vagina on the sidewalk.
This was surprising for a number of reasons... foremost of which was her wearing a mini-skirt in the middle of winter. Granted, the weather has been getting warmer lately, but it's still cold enough that there's snow on the ground. This made the whole mini-skirt thing pretty bizarre. Though, in the woman's defense, she was wearing boots and a jacket.
Neither of which were providing warmth to her crotch, which is why her vagina apparently froze and fell off...
I was going to run up and tell her what happened, but I was too embarrassed.
Instead I carefully nudged it to the edge of the sidewalk with my foot so nobody would step in it. I figured eventually she's realize that something important had gone missing, then she'd retrace her steps to find her vagina there waiting for her.
A little colder, but no worse for wear.
I MEAN, SERIOUSLY! A MINI-SKIRT IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER?!?
Though I suppose it could have been her work uniform. Maybe she's required to wear a mini-skirt as part of the dress code.
I wonder what kind of profession requires a mini-skirt dress code?
Posted on Sunday, January 31st, 2010
It's Bullet Sunday! And I'm not feeling very well. Waah!
• Betty! It is no secret that I love Betty White. She's a monster talent, and I've said many times that Betty White should guest-star on every television show because everything is better with Betty. I will literally watch anything that has Betty White in it, even crappy soap operas. I am a huge, huge, fan...
Given all that, I couldn't be happier that she won a well-deserved lifetime achievement award at the SAG Awards. As usual, she was 100% classy and funny as hell...
Not only should Betty White be in every television show, she should also win all the awards. Knowing that she has no plans to stop working at 88 years old is the cherry on the top of my day. Now if only she'd be cast as a vampire on the next Twilight movie, I may actually end up watching it.
• Flash! For those viewing my site on their iPhone, they'll be dismayed that the above video won't work because it uses Adobe Flash to play the movie. Yes, it's a bummer... but, like most every other major website on the planet, Funny or Die is working on an iPhone app to display their media content. So, while this is a temporary stumbling block, eventually there will be a solution for iPhone/iPod/iPad users that doesn't rely on the resource-sucking pile of buggy crap that's Flash. I can live with that. Next up, Hulu.
• Who?!? Before the Grammys, I had never heard of "Lady Antebellum" before. This isn't too surprising considering that I can't stand country music, but it is still disturbing to me, because it means I am completely out of touch with popular music...
Yes, I'm the guy watching the Grammys wishing that Taylor Swift would shut up so I can hear Stevie Nicks sing. It has nothing to do with Taylor Swift... I don't even know who she is other than she hosted SNL once. Stevie, on the other hand, is a long-time favorite whom I've followed both in Fleetwood Mac and her solo career. Meh. This is just great. I suppose it's only a matter of time before I'm yelling at kids to stay off my lawn and bitching about the price of a candy bar. When did this happen?
• Obama? I've made no secret of my growing disappointment with President Obama. As a politician, I knew he would end up being full of shit... but I had no idea he'd be so blatant about it. The whole lack of transparency and classified status his administration put on the ACTA bullshit has me furious. Staffing his administration with FUCKING LOBBYISTS after he made a massive display about how heinously evil it is while he was campaigning REALLY pisses me off. But my biggest problem has nothing to do with broken promises... Obama's a politician first and I expect that... no, what bothers me is the complete lack of balls from his administration. I may have hated the misguided legislation that President Bush rammed through, but I had to respect him for sticking to his agenda. But Obama is too busy trying to avoid hurting feelings than to push through anything. As if that weren't bad enough, the Democrats in office are a bunch of pussies who are too busy playing politics to do their fucking jobs. It's all so embarrassing. And while Republicans are busy playing politics of their own by publicly attacking Obama at every turn, I can't help but imagine that they are secretly ecstatic that he's proven to be so ineffectual a president.
So imagine my surprise when President Obama did one of the ballsiest things since President Clinton decided to get a Lewinsky in the Oval Office. On Friday he appeared at the House Republican retreat in Baltimore to speak... and take questions from hostile Republicans who seem to despise him and everything he does. It doesn't matter if you love Obama or hate him, it's worth a look (if you'd rather read it, there's a transcript over at Huffington Post)...
Wow. It's as if the president we elected finally realized he's actually the President of the United States of America. Next thing you know, he's going to come out and say: "For a year I've been trying to be all bipartisan and shit, but you Conservatives hate me no matter how hard I try to include you, so FUCK THAT. Starting tomorrow, health care reform is DONE. And if any of you Democrats try and fuck with me and my plan, I'll pop a cap in your ass. I'm using my majority and it's just DONE. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get to work on a list of promises I have to keep... we'll be doing this again next week."
It used to be that I was happy to have a president who could actually form coherent sentences. Turns out that now all I want is a president I can respect. If the Q&A session with the Republicans on Friday is any indication, Obama might just start getting it.
And now I suppose I should get some sleep. I only worked a half-day today, so I've got a lot of ground to make up in the morning.
Posted on Monday, February 1st, 2010
Lately I've been striving to look at things in a different light to reveal what I might be missing. I thought that this would be a good thing, because it would help me to better appreciate the things around me. Things that I see every day, but take for granted.
Unfortunately, it's had the exact opposite effect. All I seem to be revealing is that there's a lot of pointless, stupid, and wholly disappointing stuff out there that I tend to ignore. Apparently with good reason.
It's like that favorite restaurant you go to whenever you're drunk and needing some cheap eats to help soak up all that alcohol. Then one day you decide to eat there when you're sober... only to discover that the food is complete crap, and the only way anybody would ever want to eat there would be if they were too inebriated to be able to taste it.
I'm trying not to be too upset about it, but I can't help but be disappointed.
I guess some things just can't hold up to that kind of scrutiny.
Other things, on the other hand, don't require scrutiny to reveal their pointless disappointing stupidity. The revelation comes from the genius way that other people react to it.
This link is sheer brilliance. Which leads me to a sign of my own...
It's totally true! Look it up!
Confronting dumbassery with mockery to highlight just how fucking stupid it is... that's something I think God would appreciate. He invented a sense of humor, after all.
Posted on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010
"Tonight's the night!"
"Tonight's the night! LOST is finally on again!"
"Oh. Sorry, I don't watch that show."
"WHAT?!?? ARE YOU CRAZY? THAT SHOW IS AWESOME! YOU GOTTA WATCH LOST!! These people are trapped on this island where weird stuff happens, but then they got OFF the island and then went BACK to the island but the island is in the PAST and tonight we find out if the BOMB can stop the ISLAND from --- hey... HEY! What are you... AAAAHHHHHH!"
Look, I am happy that everybody loves LOST, honestly, I am. I know what it's like to have a passion for a television show and have it consume your life (though any show I love that much usually ends up getting cancelled). But, seriously, it's okay that some people don't like the show and don't really give a crap what happens. It's not necessary to try and convert the non-believers.
We are perfectly happy just as we are, thanks.
Posted on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010
What's a guy gotta do to get some peace and quiet?
It would be nice if I didn't have to go to that kind of extreme, but... uhhh... yeah... considering it...
Posted on Thursday, February 4th, 2010
Might as well...
Posted on Friday, February 5th, 2010
Plans sometimes change...
Posted on Saturday, February 6th, 2010
I guess it wasn't meant to last...
Back to the drawing board.
Posted on Sunday, February 7th, 2010
It' Bullet SUPER BOWL Sunday! Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints... the football team of one of my favorite cities on earth!
• Rock! While I was goofing around in Seattle with The Bombshell, The Ninja, and The Bombja, we wandered by The Hard Rock Cafe Seattle where the Rock Shop is now open (the cafe Grand Opening is on Wednesday). The property is expectedly, but disappointingly, decorated in the new "hipster lounge" style that all the new Hard Rocks get. From what I can see, the memorabilia is somewhat sparse and lacking focus... I didn't even see anything above the bar. So while everything is "official" it sure doesn't feel like a "real" Hard Rock Cafe. Though it does have a Guitar out front, so I guess that's something...
I'm going to try and visit in a couple weeks. After waiting for decades, it's strange to finally have a "local" Hard Rock Cafe (if you can call a 2-1/2 hour drive "local"). This will be my 125th Hard Rock property visit. Every time I add a new one to my list, I can't help but wonder how many more I have in me.
• Gum! Seattle's Famous Gum Wall is a scary work of disease-ridden art that shouldn't be missed. My favorite part this time around was a cool Hawaiian flag...
If I could somehow convince myself that sticking my fingers into chewed gum is a good idea, I'd be tempted to add something of my own.
• Snicker! The Mars Company had a flash of sheer genius when they decided to use the amazing Betty White in their new Snickers commercial...
Now I want a Snickers bar. I hope Betty doesn't start doing ads for National Cattlemen's Beef Association... I'm really happy being a vegetarian.
And now I suppose I should probably cut this short and try to get some sleep.
Posted on Monday, February 8th, 2010
Today I noticed that I'm getting increasingly upset over things that just aren't important. This morning, for example, I went on a tirade after listening to somebody on television use the full title of the movie "Precious" while discussing Oscar nominations. I don't know why. Probably because "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" is a stupid-ass name for a movie. I am guessing the film studio wanted to capitalize on the author somehow, but it only makes them look pathetic and desperate when you consider that "Stand By Me wasn't released as "Stand By Me: Based on the Novella 'The Body' by Stephen King." I mean, holy shit, if the people making "Stand By Me" didn't feel the need to whore out STEPHEN FUCKING KING for their movie, should we really have to give two shits where "Precious" came from?
Granted, my disdain is undoubtedly amplified by the fact that I don't give a crap about EVER seeing the film "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"... but honestly, is this really a reason to start freaking out?
Apparently it is if you are me.
I'm really hoping that this unfounded hostility towards inconsequential things goes away soon.
Preferably before "Alice in Wonderland: Extrapolated from the Novel 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' as Well as the Novel 'Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There' by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, Better Known as Lewis Carroll" is released to theaters on March 5th.
Posted on Tuesday, February 9th, 2010
I'd like to buy a vowel please, Pat...
And no, this is not about U.
Though it might be if you've done something to deserve it.
Posted on Wednesday, February 10th, 2010
Photography is very much just a hobby for me. I take snapshots when I travel, and don't think much about it when I'm not. When I was younger and had lots of time on my hands, things were different. I loved taking photos, and spent a lot of time trying different things so I could improve my pictures. Once film cameras died and I moved to digital photography, I started getting even more creative because I wasn't having to pay a fortune in film and photo processing charges. Alas, it was destined not to last, because I seem to have less and less free time available as time goes on.
But then my camera died and I bought a new Nikon D90 just in time for a vacation to Hawaii. Thanks to features like "Active D-Lighting" I was getting really good photos with very little effort if I took the time to set up my shot right. This kind of sparked a photography renaissance in me, and I started experimenting again.
And the thing I've been really interested in for the past year has been High Dynamic Range Photography (HDR).
The best way to explain it is to show it. When I was at Stonehenge, I lined up this beautiful shot of the sun rising behind the stones. Unfortunately, it turned out looking like crap...
The bright sun blew out the sky and caused the camera to underexpose the dark stones. So I decided to take the shot again, but at three different exposure levels...
The long exposure blows out the sky, but reveals the details in the rocks. The short exposure paints the rocks black, but fills in the sky nicely. The medium exposure holds the shadows really well, but is murky everywhere else. If only there was a way to combine the best parts of each photo so you had great exposure over the entire image.
Well, there is, and it's called HDR Photography...
After merging the best parts of all three photos, it's easy to make tone adjustments to the color so that things really pop. The sun behind the stone now looks as I intended, with an eerie glow around Stonehenge. In fact, it looks even MORE awesome than it did in person!
And that's the problem. Most HDR photos end up looking surreal and totally fake. For a mystical place like Stonehenge, this isn't such a bad thing. But for "regular" photographs, it ends up looking strange. And most of the time it's strange in a bad way. But with some experimentation, you can make it look strange in a good way. Like this kind of boring shot of Bath Cathedral which is kind of murky thanks to overcast skies...
But in HDR, you can make it look pretty cool...
Where HDR really comes in handy is when light is scarce. Buildings at sunset can change completely...
This time I composited five separate shots with different exposures to get this...
Sure it looks fake and can be difficult for the brain to process, but you do get to see details you'd never see otherwise. The best use of HDR seems to be in moderation. In this image from Kauai's Kalalau Lookout, the deep shadows from the clouds completely bury the details...
When I just want to brighten dark areas, you can composite an HDR shot with a regular shot and end up with results that don't look quite so artificial, though you do lose some depth in the resulting image...
The danger being that you can completely change the tone of a photo if you're not careful. With this shot of a lava flow from The Big Island, for example, the rock is supposed to be dark...
But using HDR, you end up with something that has lots of detail, but no longer looks like lava...
Sometimes using HDR can ruin a shot. This photo of a Banyan Tree has a kind of spooky vibe to it, even though I'm in broad daylight...
Take three different exposures and run it as an HDR photo and you end up with something completely different...
Yes, being able to see the freaky details in the tree is kind of nice, but the mood of the shot has been destroyed. Perhaps combining the above two photos would create a happy balance, but sometimes I think HDR is best avoided.
While I don't see myself using High Dynamic Range very often, I do think it has interesting possibilities for some situations and opens up an entirely new level of creativity for photographers. With practice, I'm hoping I can get better at knowing when to use it... but even more importantly, when not to use it... to keep my photography hobby interesting and fun.
If you've got some time to kill, you can download a free demo of Photomatix (the HDR software I use) and be good to go. Then all you need is a steady hand (or a tripod) along with a camera that can do exposure bracketing (or, you could try setting the different exposures manually, but you'd have to be very careful not to move the camera in-between shots!). You need a minimum of three exposures to make a decent HDR image, but I've found that five exposures works best.
Now if only I could afford a new lens... I've long been wanting to try deep macro photography...
Posted on Thursday, February 11th, 2010
All I did was work today, and the only remarkable thing that happened was that I lived to tell about it.
Though I suppose I didn't actually "live" through the day so much as I "existed" through it. That's a big difference, and yet I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who noticed. This is either to my credit or my detriment... I can't quite tell which. All I know is that if I think about it too much I'll get depressed.
So I don't think about it.
Instead I remember back to days where I was truly alive.
And know that I'll live again, even if I don't feel that way right now.
Maybe it will be tomorrow. You just never know.
Posted on Friday, February 12th, 2010
So... for the first time in a very long time, those of us living on the West Coast of these United States of America are in the SAME TIME ZONE as the Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada. Finally, we get to watch events LIVE and see competition outcomes AS THEY HAPPEN. How cool that we won't have medal results spoiled on the internet hours... or even days... before we get to actually see them taking place! Sweet!
So tonight I sit down in front of the television at 7:30 when NBC is set to start their coverage, expecting that I'll be watching the opening ceremonies LIVE from Vancouver.
But no... it's downhill skiing.
This is odd. Why would they start the opening ceremonies later than 7:30?
And then I notice on Twitter that people are talking about the opening ceremonies as if they're watching them.
So I look for the official schedule online and see that the opening ceremonies started an hour-and-a-half ago at 6:00pm. So now I'm thinking that I got the time wrong, NBC actually started broadcasting at 6:00, and I've completely missed the opening ceremonies altogether.
And so I look at my television channel guide and see that I haven't missed anything. The opening ceremonies won't be televised until 9:00pm. For reasons I can't even begin to fathom, NBC is TAPE-DELAYING these PRIMETIME events that are happening IN THE SAME TIME ZONE
FUCK YOU, NBC! FUUUUUUUUUUCK YOU!
FUCK YOU UP YOUR STUPID ASSES, YOU DONKEY-RAPING SHIT-EATERS!
And, since I'm sure that the reasons for this ASTOUNDING DISPLAY OF ABSOLUTE FUCKING IDIOCY somehow comes down to money in one way or another... FUCK YOU SIDEWAYS YOU GREEDY PIECES OF FUCKING SHIT!
I am beyond speechless as to why NBC is Just This Stupid. What incentive do Pacific Time Zone people have to watch their Olympics "coverage"? Sure if the event is being held in Asia or Europe or some other place that's fifty time-zones away, there's no choice, and we have to accept a tape-delay because nobody wants to watch TV at 2:00am (or whatever). BUT WHEN THEY'RE HAPPENING IN THE SAME FUCKING TIME ZONE?!?
And here I thought that NBC couldn't get more brain-dead than the whole Conan/Leno late-night fiasco.
It turns out that was just a warm-up for TAPE-DELAYING A PRIMETIME EVENT IN THE SAME TIME ZONE AS THE VIEWERS!
You would think that NBC shareholders would TAKE CARE OF FUCKING BUSINESS and like... I dunno... EXECUTE THE GROSSLY INCOMPETENT FUCKERS RUNNING THE NETWORK for being INEXCUSABLY STUPID. But maybe these particular shareholders are so heinously wealthy that they just don't care when the DUMBFUCKS looking out for their interests make bad decisions.
Gee... and here I thought I wouldn't have anything to blog about tonight!
YOU STUPID FUCKERS!!
Posted on Saturday, February 13th, 2010
At midnight tonight, it's the Year of the Tiger!
Here's hoping it's going to be grrrrrreat!
Posted on Sunday, February 14th, 2010
It's a banner Bullet Sunday with Valentine's Day, Chinese New Year, The Olympic Games, and Hilly's annual Self-Love Day all happening at the same time!
• Commentary! It' getting to the point that I simply cannot watch televised sports anymore because of the annoying non-stop "professional commentary" that rains down like a storm of shit over everything. Right now I am watching the Nordic Combined competition at the Olympics, and these two dumbasses simply WILL NOT SHUT UP! They talk and talk and talk and talk about total BULLSHIT that does nothing... NOTHING to enhance my enjoyment of the event. And I just don't get it. I'm not frackin' stupid. I don't need to be told it's snowing or somebody missed a target... I can see that. I don't need to be told that somebody needs to "pick up the pace" if they're behind... that's obvious. I don't need to be told that "the US has never medaled in this event" FIFTY FUCKING TIMES... if I gave a shit about how many medals the US has won, I'd Google it. The constant stream of senseless crap is a needless distraction, so just shut the fuck up already! Save your idiotic blathering for the wrap-up... or the interviews... or your blog... or whatever... just let me watch in peace. At the very least, networks should simulcast a non-commentator version to give us a choice.
• Be Mine! It's time for my annual Valentine's Day card! (for previous year's cards, click here)...
Thanks to everybody out there who makes me feel loved.
• Siri App! Every once in a while, something comes along that gives you a taste of what the future is going to be like. Usually, it's the latest product from Apple. But the future is more an ideal than a place, so it can be really tricky to see that fine line between "gimmick" and "game-changer" when it comes to tech. But then there's Siri Personal Assistant...
The basic idea is that you fire up Siri on your iPhone or Blackberry or whatever... then tell it what you want. Siri then uses voice recognition technology to parse what you said and return an answer. You say "Where is there nearest Starbucks?" and Siri comes back with an address and directions. You say "What time is 'Avatar' playing?" and Siri picks the nearest theater and gives you showtimes. You say "What time is it in Sydney, Australia?" and Siri looks it up for you. There's a pretty impressive list of things that Siri understands and, even when it doesn't, it's happy to perform a web search on what you asked to see if it can help. As a tech demo, it's very cool, and a nice peek at how artificial intelligence is going to eventually escalate into The Way Things Are.
The problem is that Siri doesn't feel "magical" yet. There's a long delay while Siri sends a recording of what you said back to the mothership for parsing (a REALLY long delay if you don't have 3G). The parsing A.I. is rudementary, so you have to confirm your request by manually reading back what you just said and pressing "okay." It doesn't talk back to you, so you're still futzing around with the screen a lot. As a game-changer, it's just not "there" yet. I'm sure as the technology behind Siri continues to improve, we'll eventually cross that threshold where the tech disappears and it becomes magic. Like HAL in the movie 2001. But until then, it's just a nifty toy that provides a glimpse of what our future might be like. I, for one, cannot wait until I'm able have an argument with my refrigerator.
• Google Buzzkill! I have three very separate lives: My personal life, my work life, and my online life. It's rare that they intersect in any meaningful way, but it does happen (online friends that become personal friends, for example). But, for the most part, it's my choice as to how various aspects of my life intersect and mingle. Or at least it has been my choice. Things are changing. A good example is when companies that want to work with me Google my name and read my blog so they can get background info to influence how they interact with me. It bothered me a bit at first, but I've just learned to accept that anything you put out on the internet for public consumption is going to be found eventually... even by people you'd rather not see it.
But the stuff I put privately on the internet is another matter entirely. Enter Google Buzz...
My Gmail (Google Mail) account is the only place where all my worlds collide. Email from all aspects of my life collect here so that I can more easily manage my various accounts from a central location. This means I am ultimately trusting Google with my most personal data on a regular basis. But now that they've forced their new "social networking" fiasco "Google Buzz" onto my unwilling Gmail account... I can't help but wonder if trusting them was a very big mistake.
Mostly because I can't figure out what is happening.
I read an article that says all my Gmail contacts can use Buzz to see all my other contacts. I read a blog that tells me my personal data is exposed because Buzz lets people see private information publicly. One source says turning Buzz off will solve everything... another says turning Buzz off doesn't do anything. Google itself says that private information stays private, and people are misunderstanding what Buzz does. So I have no idea what to think. I have no clue exactly what people can or cannot get access to. Best-case-scenario: The Buzz drama has been blown completely out of proportion and I have nothing to worry about. Worst-case-scenario: My most dreaded nightmare has come true.
In the end, I think it's pretty shitty that Google would do something so horrendous as to force users to use a new service that they don't understand... regardless of whether or not any breach of privacy has occurred! When I logged into Gmail, I got a Buzz splash screen that I blew through with no concept as to what it meant for me or my privacy. I had no clue that it would be bound to my email account in such a way that my personal information was at risk. As of right now, I still don't know, and I've read every article and blog entry I can find to try and figure it out. I've gone through every tutorial I can find on eliminating Buzz from my Gmail account, but I still have no clue as to whether or not it's solved anything. Hell, I don't know if there was anything to "solve" to begin with!
And I still don't understand why Google felt that Buzz had to be a part of my Gmail account instead of a separate service. I'm guessing that it was a way to leverage the insane number of Gmail users to become instant competition to Facebook and Twitter... but at what cost? Most people who want this social media bullshit already have a Facebook and Twitter account! If Google Buzz sucks so bad that it can't stand on its own and has to be grafted onto Gmail to be accepted, why in the hell would anybody want to use it in the first place? None of this makes any sense to me. It's as if Google had no other goal than to piss-off and hopelessly confuse their users. What are they hoping to accomplish by adding a public "feature" to email, given that email is one of the most private parts of our lives? At what point did somebody think mixing public and private data in the same space was such a great idea? How crazy do you have to be to not realize that something like this couldn't possibly be a good idea?
I'm so dumbfounded by the whole Google Buzz concept and the resulting drama that I can't imagine I'd ever want to use it now. Heck, I don't even know if I want to trust Google with ANY of my data now. Their effort to contaminate something as private as email with something as public as social networking just shows they have no concept as to people wanting to keep parts of their lives separate. To Google, everything is meant to be shared, and they want to make it as easy as possible for you to do so... whether you like it or not. As more and more of our personal data is in the hands of others, what does this say about our privacy in the year 2010? What will it mean for our privacy in 2020? Or is there even such thing as "privacy" anymore? The possible answers scare me bad enough to regret ever having asked the question.
Annnnnnnnnd... on that happy note, I'm off to bed. Xin Nian Kuai Le and Gong Xi Fa Cai everybody!
Posted on Monday, February 15th, 2010
People are stupid.
This will come as a surprise to nobody (except perhaps stupid people, but that's to be expected).
But even so, there's got to be a limit as to just how much you have to dumb something down in order to be understood by even the lowest of the lowest common denominator when it comes to intelligence. Some things are so bloody obvious that pointing them out only serves to makes you the stupid one.
This morning on the TODAY show, Al Roker was yucking it up with some guy who wrote a book about choosing healthier alternatives when eating. Basically, it boiled down to looking at labels when deciding what foods to eat. Excess calories, empty sugars, and fat is bad. BAD!
Some comparisons actually had a little merit... showing how the self-proclaimed "healthy" cereal actually had more sugar than other cereals on the market, for example. But other comparisons where just pathetic in their obviousness.
And here I was actually becoming an Al Roker fan after he took on Spencer and Heidi.
Well all that went out the window when Al didn't puch this guy in the face just on principle...
And why? Because the douche felt the need to point out that it's healthier to eat dried prunes than it is to eat Mike and Ike's candies...
My first reaction upon hearing the news was...
"ZOMFG! Really? REALLY? It's healthier to eat DRIED FRUIT than it is to eat fucking CANDY?!? That's astounding! Somebody should alert the media! Fruit is healthier than candy! This is a revelation that transcends the entirety of accumulated human knowledge. I mean, imagine it! Fruit is healthier than candy! Can you believe it?"
I lie. My actual reaction was in fact...
Could this radical piece of advice BE any more obvious? IT'S FUCKING CANDY, MUTHAFUCKER!! I mean, this is right up there with ""Fire is hot!" and "Rocks can't swim!" and "Cutting off your penis is bad for your sex life!" You would have to be so astoundingly stupid to not already realize this that I doubt you'd know how to turn on a television, let alone open a box of candy.
And it pisses me off.
"Mike and Ike" is an awesome candy. There's no need to disparage such a delicious treat for the sake of making a bowl of prunes look good. Everybody knows that eating lots of candy is not very good for you. When eaten in moderation, however, there is nothing wrong with candy. And anybody trying to villainize "Mike and Ike" is trying to sell you something.
Something like... oh... I dunno... A BOOK CALLED "EAT THIS, NOT THAT!"
Next up, are fried potato chips healthier than freeze-dried wasabi peas?
ALERT THE MEDIA!
FRIED FOODS AREN'T AS HEALTHY AS FREEZE-DRIED FOODS!
Posted on Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
After having been to Mardi Gras once in my life, there's a part of me that wants to experience Fat Tuesday again...
Either that, or I just want a piece of King Cake.
Posted on Wednesday, February 17th, 2010
As I write this, I'm watching a series of disastrous runs in the Women's Downhill competition at the Olympic Games. The ladies are biting it hard on the mountain, sliding out of control for what seems like an eternity before they finally come to a stop... their Olympic dreams having come to a bitter end.
There's nothing to say that they won't shake it off and come back victorious in 2014.
Everybody has disasters, but very few of us have them broadcast around the globe with the entire world watching. Forget the pain of crashing into a mountain at 80 miles per hour, the psychological trauma would be enough to drive a person insane.
But that's part of the game. The victory is so much the sweeter because the defeat can be so brutal.
What's NOT part of the game is douchebag television commentators being complete and total assholes as they cut the athletes to shreds during their run. I already loathe sports commentary with a passion because it's so ridiculously banal and distracting... but listening to these turds tonight has elevated my hatred to an entirely new level.
My favorite commentary was when Anja Pärson from Sweden was starting her run and the male commentator was compelled to say she "was a big failure in last year's world championships." Well, screw you, asshole... she's earned her place as an Olympiad in the Twenty-First Winter Games. She deserves more respect than some idiot diminishing such an accomplishment by daring to saddle her as a "big failure" in a past competition. What the hell have you done lately?
Sadly, Anja wiped out later down the track, which makes such a disgusting comment even more hurtful.
I cannot for the life of me understand why sports fans don't insist that commentators take the "less is more" approach and SHUT THE HELL UP unless they have something meaningful and constructive to add to the event. Non-stop chatter is just stupid, unnecessary, and leads to dumbass commentators doing idiotic shit like branding an Olympic athlete "a big failure" to avoid a moment of blissful silence.
Posted on Thursday, February 18th, 2010
After dealing with my work emails this morning, I had a bit of extra time and decided to take a quick look through my feedreader. One of the first new blog entries to pop up was from my buddy LeSombre, where he was explaining his bus route to work and how a small detour today turned his 50-minute commute into a whopping 1-hour and 35-minute ride. He wrapped up his entry by theorizing that he might have to try winter cycling as a more efficient way of getting to work.
"How nice!" I thought. "LeSombre is trying to be all environmentally conscious and stuff, when most people would just drive their car to work. Good for him!"
But then I watched a speech that Sarah Palin gave at a tea-bagging rally, and suddenly realized that I've been looking at this whole thing entirely wrong...
"But my plastic surgeon doesn't want me doing any activity where balls fly at my nose!"
After listening to Sarah Palin kick ass and put things into perspective as to what "America" REALLY means, I now realize that when people talk about the "pussification of America" they are actually talking about the "pussification of NORTH America... BY CANADIANS!"
Because, seriously, 50 minutes in a frickin' BUS?!? REALLY?!?
It's LeSombre's kind of thinking that explains why Canada is still a third-world country. Well, of course ALL countries are "third world" when compared to us, which begs the questions "what's a second-world country?" I dunno... perhaps The United Kingdom when Maggie Thatcher was running things... but I digress. The point is that I am totally embarrassed to be sharing a continent with the American wannabes that call themselves "Canadians." How they managed to win hosting duties for the Winter Olympics when they don't even have a Disney theme park is a mystery to me.
I mean, come on, they're half-French for crying out loud!
Just look at this "bus route" that LeSombre takes to work every day. It practically screams "pussy!" Where's the spirit of adventure? Where's the sex and violence? Where's the ideals that are true to the AMERICAN WAY?!? What good is their "free socialist health care" if THIS is how you have to get to work each day? Hey, if this is what it means to live in a communist country like Canada, then I want no part of it...
Now let's take a look at how a REAL AMERICAN would get to work (click map to enlarge)...
NOW THERE'S HOW YOU FUCKING COMMUTE TO WORK IN AMERICA, DAMMIT! Please note that's there's no bitching and whining about a frickin' BUS anywhere in that route.
Also note how once you acquire a Canadian Forces* tank, that you no longer have to pay attention to roads, and can go directly to your destination. How cool is that?
Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go scrounge up $1000 so I can buy a ticket to go to Sarah Palin's next tea-bagger rally. A rally for TRUE Americans** to fight for taking back The United States of America from the godless socialist regime that is destroying the greatest country on earth!! Because THAT, my friends, is what DEMOCRACY is all about!***
And to have testicles put in our mouths, if I'm understanding this whole tea-bagging thing correctly.
* Canadian Forces is kind of like the US Millitary... but without the ability to actually defend their country or invade anyplace (they rely on TRUE Americans to do that for them, but don't pay any taxes to us... the bastards!).
** Well, TRUE Americans that can afford to spend $1000 a plate, that is. But that would be ALL Americans, because POOR Americans are not REALLY Americans at all... otherwise they'd be wealthy! This IS the land of prosperity, after all. It says so in The Constitution!
*** Unless, of course, your democratically elected president is a Democrat, then it's not democracy at all... because everybody knows that elections are only democratic when Republicans win!
Posted on Friday, February 19th, 2010
Today is Adobe Photoshop's 20th anniversary! Congratulations to the Knoll Brothers who started it all!
Along with Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop is a program that I use most every single day. I honestly cannot imagine my life... personal or professional... without it. I use it for editing photos, laying out designs, creating original art, and enhancing-corecting-manipulating any kind of bitmap image. I've used it so often and for so long that much of the time I don't even have to think about using it. I just do. I have become one with Photoshop. This didn't happen right away, of course. It's been a long road.
The first time I used Photoshop was at a technical demonstration in Seattle. My best friend and I headed over the mountains to look at a new "lost-cost" image scanner (over a $1000, but that was "cheap" for the time). The software used to manipulate the resulting scan was... wait for it... Photoshop. The program was borderline miraculous and had jaw-dropping features which allowed for some powerful, yet easy, photo adjustments.
A couple years later, scanner prices had dropped to the point where I could finally afford one. The model I purchased (made by Mustek, I think) came with a copy of Photoshop 2.5, which was actually more exciting to me than the actual scanner. The software was so expensive to purchase alone that it would be pretty odd to buy it without a scanner, since you were basically getting a scanner for free out of the deal. Except it ran only on a Macintosh and I had an Atari ST computer at the time. This was a major bummer, but ended up being a good thing because I went into debt and bought my first Mac (a Centris 650) one month later...
From having used Photoshop since version 1.0 and owned it from version 2.5, it's amazing to me how the core functionality really hasn't changed that much. Sure version 3.0 added layers, which was about as revolutionary a feature as you're going to get, but it was pretty much just gravy on top of the Photoshop I was already using... and would continue to use right up through today, two decades later.
And, on that happy note, it's time for bed. I've got a long drive ahead of me in the morning.
Posted on Saturday, February 20th, 2010
This afternoon I hit Hard Rock property number 125 when I visited the new cafe in Seattle.
The best Hard Rocks take a classic older building and transform it into something new. In this respect, Seattle's cafe is beautiful, with warm woods, original brick, and exposed pipes. Unfortunately, it followed in the footsteps of the new cafes in Yankee Stadium, Dallas, and the Las Vegas Strip, in that the memorabilia is pretty scarce. Unlike the older properties where the walls are packed with artifacts from all aspects of music history, the new-style restaurants have much fewer scattered pieces sprinkled amongst a bunch of photos and video screens. The good news is that they do relate to Seattle's unique music history pretty well, featuring items from Hendrix, Heart, Mother Love Bone, Nirvana, and more.
Something new that I haven't seen before at any Hard Rock is their "call-in" number, where you can dial a local phone number, punch in code that's been tagged on a piece of memorabilia, and get more information about it. It's pretty sweet, and something I hope gets rolled out to other properties in the chain.
Despite my misgivings about the new design direction for the Hard Rock chain, the Seattle cafe is actually pretty nice. The location is perfect (just a block from the Pike Place Market), the staff is fantastic (a lot of experienced transfers from other properties), and the building is spacious (two levels with a stage at the upper bar).
Overall I'd say it's worth the two-decade-wait to finally have a "local" cafe in the Emerald City.
Here's hoping it will stick around for a good long while.
Posted on Sunday, February 21st, 2010
It's Bullet Sunday from one of the most beautiful days I've ever seen in Seattle!
• Pet Shop. The hotel I'm staying in tonight is really, really nice (especially considering the bitchin' rate I got off PriceLine), but does have one minor draw-back. It's "pet friendly." Now, don't get me wrong... I love animals. I think it's great that there's hotels which accept our furry friends when they travel with us. I do not, however, think it's great to be woken up at 5:30am by a yappy little dog barking it's head off in the room next door on a Sunday morning. Though I suppose I should count myself lucky that it was just a dog and not a hyena or something.
• Zombie Walk. As far as iPhone games go, Plants Vs. Zombies may be the best game ever released. More addictive than crack (or so I'd guess), it's one of those games that you never want to stop playing. It looks great, plays amazing, and keeps gameplay fresh with new features for a good long time...
The game, in a nutshell, has wave after wave of zombies attacking your home, and you have to plant an ever-growing variety of vegetation to fend then off. Highest possible recommendation (unless you have a life, in which case it will will destroy you).
• Spell Check. If you're going to use the word "w00t!" then it's spelled in all lower-case letters with two ZEROS in the middle, like this...
If you don't believe me, you can look it up in the dictionary!
• Saturday Break. After working non-stop for the past several weeks, I decided to take a break and attend a blogger meet in Seattle... thanks to Ms. Sizzle and Chris for putting it together and giving me a much-needed distraction! The beautiful drive alone was worth the effort...
• ONE Ring? Great news! The Lord of the Rings trilogy is finally coming to Blu-Ray! How awesome is that? Oh... wait a second... not so awesome... BECAUSE THE GREEDY FUCKERS AT NEW LINE STUDIOS ARE RELEASING THE BUTCHERED THEATRICAL RELEASE INSTEAD OF THE FULL DIRECTOR'S CUT! They're waiting for everybody to buy the incomplete trilogy THEN they'll release the complete films on Blu-Ray so everybody will have to buy them AGAIN!
I mean, seriously, we already had to buy them twice on DVD, so why not give everybody what they want the first time around? Oh... that's right... NEW LINE IS RUN BY GREEDY FUCKERS! Blu-Ray easily allows the option of viewing both the theatrical release OR the director's cut on the SAME disc thanks to their "branching" technology, but why would we want to do that when we can sucker fans into buying the movies FOUR TIMES!
Well, as much as I'd like to see these beautiful films in HD, I'll take a pass until the COMPLETE films are released. Holy crap I hate it when studio executives try to pull this bullshit. And everybody wonders why otherwise law-abiding citizens turn to piracy! THE MOVIE STUDIOS FORCE THEM TO!
And another week bites the dust...
Posted on Monday, February 22nd, 2010
After an unexpected extra day in Seattle, I'm back home again.
Other than nearly getting run off the road by a car from the opposite direction driving in my lane, that's about it.
Posted on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
Posted on Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
Despite feeling pretty sick most of the day, I somehow managed to get a lot of work done. The problem is that the effort completely wiped me out, which is why I came home and slept from 5:00 to midnight. Now my sleep schedule is going to be screwed up, which is a difficult thing to do when you only sleep four-and-a-half hours each night. But no worries, I'm sure it will all get straightened out... just in time for my upcoming trip to Europe when it can get all messed up again.
Assuming I get my travel plans straightened out.
This will be my eleventh year of taking a "birthday vacation" to somewhere I've never been before...
And here we are as I scramble to get something put together for this year's trip. Some of the details are in place (I know where I will be on my actual birthday, for example). But everything else... from transportation to hotels... is a big question mark at this point. Since I leave in three weeks, I suppose I'd better get it figured out.
Fortunately, I am now wide-awake at 2:30am, so I can get to work.
If only I could get motivated to actually do it.
Posted on Thursday, February 25th, 2010
February is a pretty dead month for blogging because all I ever do this time of year is work. Even I don't find that to be entertaining, so I have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find something I can write about. Fortunately, I have a Twitter account to steal from, which is about as bottom of the barrel as you can get.
Of course, even Twitter isn't the best source of material right now, as I usually ignore it so I can Get Stuff Done. But every once in a while I have a free minute while I'm on the phone or waiting for a 3-D image to render or whatever. Then I can wax poetic to the Twitterverse with my usual brand of madcap insanity. If you already follow me on Twitter, then this can be considered a "best of the worst" summary. If you don't follow me on Twitter, then boy are you in for a tweet!
Errr... I meant treat.
Sometimes I share health tips and free medical advice...
Sometimes I feel like going full-on political...
Sometimes I say things that will incriminate me in a court of law...
Sometimes I share my email with everybody...
And I am happy to follow-up with any updates...
Sometimes I share my frustrations with topics of the day...
Sometimes I offer helpful suggestions, like when John Krasinski from The Office was rumored to be a possible candidate for playing Captain America in the new movie, I had the perfect idea for casting Cap's sidekick "Bucky"...
I mean, seriously, they make such a great pair as Jim and Dwight on The Office that it could totally work. Except I got a few nasty comments, so I had to put my Photoshop where my mouth was...
More Twitter madness follows in an extended entry...
Posted on Friday, February 26th, 2010
As the clock edges ever closer to midnight I sit here trying to think of something I can blog about, and hoping that something interesting will happen in the world very soon now just in case I draw a blank. Such is the life of a blogger in boring February.
Then Twitter lights up with the news that a massive earthquake has struck in Chile, generating a tsunami warning that could very well threaten the entire Pacific Rim.
If this isn't the perfect example to be careful what you wish for, I don't know what is.
All my thoughts are with the people of Chile as I mentally prepare myself for the onslaught of tragic imagery that is sure to be awaiting me when I wake up in the morning. I'd like to think that after the horrific photos released from Haiti that I'd be numb to this kind of thing by now... but it never happens.
Just one of the down-sides of being human, I guess.
Posted on Saturday, February 27th, 2010
I spent all of Thursday being sick. Friday I woke up feeling terrible, but ended the day feeling okay.
Until I went to bed.
The minute I hit the pillow, things started going terribly wrong. All through the night I was wallowing in misery, trying to get some sleep despite a stabbing headache, leg cramps, and a runny nose. Then things got really interesting when my tongue decided to swell up (thanks to my idiopathic angioedema). So now I couldn't go to sleep, because I had to stand by with my epi-pen in case my tongue got worse and I couldn't breathe through my runny nose. When it rains, it pours.
Fortunately, an overdose of antihistamines arrested the problem with my tongue, a cold pill took care of my nose, and some pain killers and sleeping pills took care of the rest. It was a restless four hours sleep, but at least it was sleep.
After forcing myself to wake up in a daze so I could run an errand, I started whining about how much my life sucks.
Then I ran across THIS astounding bit of genius and realized things could always be worse...
Talk about finding opportunity in the face of adversity.
I'm hoping for a better night tonight.
Posted on Sunday, February 28th, 2010
As the Olympic Winter Games come to a close, Bullet Sunday comes to the rescue!
• Gold. Congratulations Canada! The final hockey game was well-played on both sides, and I'm happy the local boys (and girls!) were able to keep the Olympic gold at home. Of course, since Canada is a part of North America, I guess that means the gold actually belongs to all of us here in America. America is awesome!
I suppose it's too much to hope that all the excitement from the fantastic hockey matches during the Olympics will make the sport more popular here in the USA. As a long-time hockey fan, it would be nice to get more enthusiasm for the sport outside The Great White North.
• Cubed. The design for the new USA Embassy in Britain was unveiled this week and I have just one question...
...when did Steve Jobs start designing our embassies?
Except I dare say that the Apple Store on New York City's Fifth Avenue is a heck of a lot better-looking than the "fuzzy" glass cube that they came up with for the new embassy. Blech.
• Lisa. It seems impossible that Lisa has been gone an entire year. It feels like only yesterday she was reminding us about what's important in life. You are very much missed.
• Coverage. I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating... NBC's coverage of the Olympic Games sucked ass. It was downright embarrassing to sit back and watch how they managed to screw up at every opportunity (The Olympics are about the SPORTS COMPETITION, dumbasses!). I simply don't understand why you would sign up to cover the Olympic Games and then NOT ACTUALLY COVER THE OLYMPIC GAMES! And don't get me started on the astoundingly fucking stupid idea of running coverage on tape-delay FOR THOSE OF US IN THE SAME TIME ZONE AS THE ACTUAL EVENTS! It would be nice if whomever wins the broadcast rights bid for the next Olympics is actually held to some semblance of competency and quality standards. Like telling your commentators to SHUT THE FUCK UP while the names at the awards ceremonies are read (Chris Drury fans didn't even get to hear his name because of the inane dumbfuck commentary). Or how about telling the commentators to SHUT THE FUCK UP period. 98% of the time, the banal chatter was more distracting then helpful, and made watching the Olympics almost unbearable. Here's a brilliant idea... why not put somebody in charge of broadcasting the Olympics who actually likes sports instead of letting suits in a boardroom dictate this reprehensible bullshit as coverage policy?
• Support. If you're looking for a way to support relief efforts in Chile, or the continuing efforts in Haiti, or help out wherever disaster may strike... my favorite charity, Doctors Without Borders, is doing remarkable work to provide aid "where angels fear to tread," and could use donations. If you've got some spare cash, why not check out their website and then toss a few bucks their way?
And that brings us to the end of another Bullet Sunday!
Posted on Monday, March 1st, 2010
I have mixed feelings about animals being held in captivity for entertainment value.
For the most part, I'm against it. I see animals chained up at the circus or animals trapped behind glass at the zoo, and can't imagine that this is an acceptable way to treat them. These animals aren't living, they're existing, and that's a pretty big difference. Even when the people keeping the animals insist that they're receiving the best of care and are safer than they would be in the wild... or if they're of the mind that the animals don't know any better and only understand about getting fed... well, it's still a far cry from living in the wild.
But... "the wild" isn't what it used to be.
Jungles are being deforested. Glaciers are melting. Rivers, lakes, and oceans are polluted. Natural habitats are being dozed over to make room for condominiums. Pretty soon, there won't be much "wild" for animals to live in.
So... what to do?
The only way to insure the survival of a growing number of species is to raise them in captivity. And not all zoos are created equal. A growing number of zoos are going above and beyond to recreate the natural habitats of the animals living in captivity. The San Diego Zoo has been working on this for years, and others are following suite.
Then there's Disney's Animal Kingdom, where they've really put in the effort in recreating an animal's environment. And today they announced the birth of a critically endangered gorilla who might not have even had a chance in the hostile world we live in...
Now THAT'S an adorable baby!
But then there's the other side of the coin. Dangerous animals kept in captivity where it's easy to believe that we're the one's in control. We're the ones making the decisions. We're the ones making the rules.
And it makes for good family entertainment...
Until we receive a very real reminder that the animals are, in fact, still animals.
The tragedy at Sea World comes as a shock... but really shouldn't. The shocking things is that things like this don't happen more often.
And again, it's hard for me to sort out my feelings here. On one hand, animals as entertainment is not something I'm ever going to be comfortable with. On the other hand, the money Sea World gets from the entertainment goes towards their substantial efforts in education, conservation, rescue, and preservation.
So... what to do?
I guess there's nothing we really can do except BELIEVE it will all work out somehow...
I wonder what this all means for those of us who have been indoctrinated into the Cult of Shamu?
Posted on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010
I could write for pages about the sad decline of journalism world-wide, but there seems to be little point in it. From television anchors injecting their personal feelings into the story... to newspaper writers drawing conclusions for the reader... to networks claiming impartiality while ramming their agenda down your throat... to internet "news" sites not bothering to check their "facts"... it's all such a horrendous mess that finding out what's really going on in the world today is all but impossible unless you are there to witness events in person.
I suppose it was inevitable, because people just don't seem to care about the truth anymore.
But even worse than all the things that we get wrong when it comes to journalism, at least the issues that the media decides to cover are getting exposure. What about important issues that get buried?
Take, for instance, an issue that I am hugely passionate about, ACTA...
Since the most common meaning of ACTA is "Association of Canadian Travel Agents," I suppose I should state for the record that I have nothing against Canadian travel agents, but am instead referring to the world-wide "Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement."
Something else I should probably get out of the way...
I am in no way supporting counterfeiting here. Theft is theft, and I believe strongly that people should be compensated for their work, and have the right to prosecute those who would steal it.
And yet, because of journalism FAIL!, most people have never even heard of ACTA.
If you're not entirely bored by now and want to read the rest of my rant, I've put it in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010
Yeah, I'm pretty much done with authority now...
It all ends up being the same, and there's no sign of it ever getting better.
So why pretend?
Posted on Thursday, March 4th, 2010
From now on, I'm just going to assume that every politician, religious leader, FOX Newscaster, or man on the street who actively fights against equal rights for gays is a closeted homosexual. As history has shown us over and over again, it's a theory that has a solid basis in fact. Ultimately this will save me a lot of time wondering what makes these people such raging douchebags, because the answer ultimately ends up being that they doth protest too much. Sure they rail against those "filthy homos" so they can preserve the sanctity of marriage and protect families, but at the end of the day all they really want is a big ol' Cock Sandwich.*
Senator Roy Ashburn Wants Cock!
Reverend Ted Haggard Wants Cock!
Though it's difficult to celebrate too hard when these douchebag hypocrites get caught doing exactly what they publicly oppose, because it's really more sad than funny.
We live in such a messed up unforgiving society that these poor guys are conditioned to hate themselves because of who they are. So they spend their lives lashing out against the people that are everything they despise... which turns out to be people just like them. They somehow think that if they pass enough laws against homosexuals, preach the gospel against homosexuals, or broadcasting hate again against homosexuals, that it will somehow turn them straight. Or perhaps they think it compensates for the "perversion" that they've been convinced is within them. I really don't know what makes them do what they do, but I know it makes me sad to think of how painful their lives must have been all this time.
But then I think about my many gay friends who have suffered because of assholes like Reverend Ted Haggard, and the sadness disappears to become anger. Or I think of people I've known who have been killed by drunk drivers like Senator Roy Ashburn, and the compassion fades to outrage. The hateful crap these fuckers do makes life miserable and dangerous for people I care about, so suddenly making fun of their hypocritical bullshit seems like a rational response. I live to see these pathetic dumbasses get caught with their pants down (so to speak).
And now I guess I just sit back and wait for Rush Limbaugh's inevitable gay scandal.
It would explain so much.
*Cock Sandwich has a nice symmetry to it, being the perfect entrée for my earlier creation, Penis Salad...
All that's missing is some Dick Pudding, and it's a meal fit for Senator Larry Craig!
Posted on Friday, March 5th, 2010
When people say mean things about you, it's probably just because they're jealous.
Posted on Saturday, March 6th, 2010
My head-cold only lasted 24 hours, but the resulting sinus infection is ongoing. Yesterday the pain was so bad that I had to leave work early, which meant that my planned half-day of work today turned into a full-day of work. I wouldn't have minded so much, except the weather outside was so beautiful. It makes me miss my motorcycle.
Of course, right now what I really miss is having the energy to stay out of bed all day. The antibiotics really wipe me out, so pretty much all I can do is work and sleep. This is a darn shame, because I've got a to-do list a mile long before I start traveling again in two weeks.
Hopefully I'll have the energy to make it through The Oscars tomorrow night...
In general, I find The Oscars to be a load of crap, but it still makes for an interesting evening of television.
My "best movie" last year was Star Trek. For sheer entertainment value, I just can't seem to get enough of it. But it wasn't nominated for Best Picture, so I'd probably have to go with Inglourious Basterds, followed closely by District 9 and The Hurt Locker which were all amazing films. So was Moon but it wasn't nominated either. The odds of Inglourious Basterds winning Best Picture are slim, but I think it's a lock for Best Original Screenplay (and deservedly so).
As far as Best Director, I think that Kathryn Bigelow nailed it with Hurt Locker, but I wouldn't be unhappy if James Cameron got it, because his fingerprints are on every frame of Avatar, which is a magnificient achievement in filmmaking. And, of course, I'm not going to have any complaints if Quentin Tarantino wins. Ever.
I don't care about any of the actor categories except Best Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz. His incredible performance in Inglourious Basterds is about as Oscar-worthy a role as you will ever see.
Speaking of Inglourious Basterds, it's my pick for Best Editing. Quentin's films are always paced impeccably, and the way the various storylines are so perfectly woven together in the editing room is a testament to Tarantino's vision.
The Best Animated Feature Film I saw last year was probably Up, which had a really good story behind it (though I thought the actual "traditional" animation on either Ponyo or The Secret of Kells was the best of the lot). That being said, I also enjoyed Fantastic Mr. Fox, Coraline, and Princess and the Frog so I'd be happy with any of them winning. As for Best Animated Short, that clearly has to go to Nick Park for his Wallace & Gromit short A Matter of Loaf and Death.
Art Direction and Visual Effects are clearly Avatar's to win. This is the future of filmmaking, and has opened entirely new worlds in movies.
I'd give Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Makeup to Star Trek on principle.
The other categories I don't have enough information to make an opinion on.
Of course, this is The Oscars, so I'll be lucky if even one of my picks is actually a winner. But there you have it.
Posted on Sunday, March 7th, 2010
Blergh. Muh head is assploding on Buwett Swunday! Sinus infections suck.
• Oscar. Look, I liked The Hurt Locker as much as anybody (I saw it twice in theaters and bought the Blu-Ray), but winning Best Original Screenplay over Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds? What the hell? I can see The Hurt Locker taking Best Picture over Basterds, I'm right there with that... but Screenplay?? Seriously? It's things like this that makes me want to swear off ever watching the Academy Awards each year.
• Can't. I have had at least a dozen people tell me that I need to see The Cove which just won Best Documentary. I love films of all kinds and am a huge fan of documentaries, but I cannot watch anything where dolphins are slaughtered. That's a weakness I'm perfectly willing to live with...
• Strange. Katheryn Bigelow was well-known to me long before she directed The Hurt Locker. Mostly because of this poster which has hung on my bedroom wall for the past 13 years...
Her movie Strange Days is one of my all-time favorite films. Written by (her then husband?) James Cameron, it's just cool entertainment. It has a great cast (I fell hopelessly in love with Angela Bassett after this performance), a really good story, an intriguing premise, and most everything else I love about the movies. The fact that it was so beautifully directed was just icing on the cake. All I can do is hope that the Oscar win for Kathryn Bigelow will mean we finally get a release of Strange Days on Blu-Ray.
As an added bonus, Kathryn Bigelow also directed a movie in 2000 called The Weight of Water starring the incomparable Elizabeth Hurley... TOPLESS!! I owe Kathryn Bigelow a massive debt for that astounding moment of brilliance in cinematic history, so congratulations on your Academy Awards!
• Teaser. The stupid-ass "teasers" that television news shows do during commercial breaks are getting more and more asinine. Shows like "Entertainment Tonight" always waste time before taking a break telling you what's coming up after the break. It's stupid, but nobody cares because it's not like you'll die if you miss anything on "Entertainment Tonight." You can, however, die from missing something on the news...
"And this just in... another big auto-maker launching a recall. We'll show you what cars pose a risk for your safety this time! It's eleven minutes of uninterrupted news at 11:00 on KIRO 7... tonight!"
Yes, let's not just come out and say which cars might kill you as a public service in the name of safety... instead let's keep it a secret so we can whore out our shitty local news program. Whatever.
And now my sinuses are smooshing into my brain, so I should probably go to bed.
Posted on Monday, March 8th, 2010
I can't help myself. I love Crasher Squirrel!
I don't understand why somebody hasn't him to a picture development deal... he's Oscar gold!
Posted on Tuesday, March 9th, 2010
For the FIFTH frackin' time now, the company which handles the credit/debit cards for my small local bank had a "security breach" which means I have to get a new bank card. This sucks hard, because every time they issue a new card, you have a brand new PIN to remember. I usually end up forgetting the number, which is inconvenient when you're... ohhhh let's saaayyyy... at a cash machine in a foreign country trying to get some local currency to pay an impatient taxi driver.
Not wanting to go through something like that again, I decided to go to the bank and ask if they can change my PIN to something I remember. Turns out they could, so they did, and so now I'm back to the PIN I had for my very first bank card (which is the only one I can seem to remember). Here's hoping I get to hang on to it for more than six months.
Otherwise, I'm going to have to brutally murder the dumbass who keeps losing his laptop with everybody's bank card info on it.
Just like I almost had to brutally murder an old man in a car who tried to zoom ahead of me as I crossed the street on my way back from the bank. Except he realized he couldn't make it in time, so he slammed on his brakes.
And then proceeded to rev his engine at me while I crossed.
I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and stared at him while I said "SERIOUSLY?" Because I may not be much of a fighter, but I could have easily broken this geriatric asshole in half with one hand.
Rudeness like this just pisses me off. It's a rage thing I'm working on.
But at least I have perfect color perception, having scored a perfect score of ZERO at the ColorIQ Challenge!
Apparently 1 out of 255 women and 1 out of 12 men have some form of color vision deficiency. If you want to know if you're color deficient, you can click here to take a free test online.
Hopefully you'll get a perfect score like me!
Hmmm... I guess that means I'm officially perfect at everything then.
Posted on Wednesday, March 10th, 2010
It seems that the one thing which hasn't been hurt by the economic recession is lawsuits. If anything, they've been escalating as lawyer-happy assholes try to exploit frivolous lawsuits as source of new revenue. At first I found it funny, but lately I've been increasingly outraged by the bullshit that is clogging up our courts.
Case in point: Hollywood's favorite drunken drug-addicted publicity whore, Lindsay Lohan, is suing E*Trade because she feels that people associate the name "Lindsay" with her the same way that people associate Oprah and Madonna's first names with them, and this commercial reflects badly on her...
Except I have news for Ms. Lohan: YOU ARE NOT OPRAH OR MADONNA!
This is fucking bullshit because I have never seen or heard of any show or publication ever referring to Ms. Lohan as simply "Lindsay." If anything, she should be filing lawsuits against people using "Blowhan" or "Firecrotch" or "HoHan" in a derogatory manner, because those those single-word names people do associate with her.
Currently, there are two things that Lindsay Lohan is most famous for, neither of which is her "music" or her "acting" or her "fashion."
#1 Flashing her cootchie everywhere...
#2 Partying like a drunken drug addict in-between trips to rehab...
That's it. That's what everybody knows her for. That's what she's good at. For her to imply otherwise is just the epitome of denial and self-delusion.
Whether or not E*Trade intended to mock Ms. Lohan in their commercial by using the generic name "Lindsay" is subjective.
But the fact that everybody on earth automatically links the name "Lindsay Lohan" to a drunken drug-addicted cootchie-flasher is nobody's fault but Lindsay Lohan's. By extension, people making the connection between a milkoholic baby named "Lindsay" and Lindsay Lohan is also nobody's fault but Lindsay Lohan's. You can sue people all you want, but it's not going to change the image you've worked so hard to cultivate.
So now the legal wranglings begin as our courts will decide whether Lindsay Lohan should profit ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS for being a drunken drug-addicted cootchie-flasher.
It's times like this I am so very proud to be an American. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! GOOOOO AMERICA!!
Posted on Thursday, March 11th, 2010
If there's one behavior I've learned which has proven to be the most useful throughout my life, it would probably be "see for yourself." I know that sounds trite and simple (maybe because it is) but it's also true.
It's following this "golden rule" which has led me to such amazing experiences as visiting the Egyptian Pyramids and walking along The Great Wall of China. But it has also forced me into less literal interpretations, where my mind has been opened to new ways of thinking and finding new truths where I was once ignorant. Like that movie which critics keep telling you sucks, but you go see for yourself and end up liking it.
Today I was catching up with the internet while I was on telephone-hold hell, and ran across a company mentioning how they had been the victim of an unfair verbal attack. I kind of like the company and what they do, so my first reaction was "Yeah. YEAH! THAT ASSWIPE CAN BURN IN HELL!! HOW DARE HE ATTACK THIS COMPANY" But my mind slowly drifted back to my mantra to "see for yourself" and so I started investigating the "asswipe" in question, reading up on things he had written and looking into the things he's done.
Much to my shock and horror, I ended up really liking what I found.
No, I didn't agree with absolutely everything he says and does but, looking at the big picture, he's my kind of person. Smart, funny, opinionated, open, and a little bit caring too. He ended up being just like the people I enjoy having as friends. And once I realized that, I tracked down the actual source where he "attacked" that company I like, and found out that the situation was not quite as simple as I had been led to believe. On the contrary, by the time I had made my way through it all, my mind had changed completely. I was now turned around 180-degrees and agreeing with the "asswipe" guy.
It's not the first time it's happened. I'm sure it won't be the last.
A part of me just hates it when my initial instincts and reactions are wrong, but there's also a kind of perverse satisfaction I get when discovering that I've learned something new... the hard way.
Sometimes you just have to see for yourself.The reward is often worth the extra effort.
Posted on Friday, March 12th, 2010
Late last night while I was waiting for an email response, I thought that I'd go through the 37 abandoned blog posts in my "drafts" folder. The majority of them were unfinished, but a few were completed entries that I decided not to post for one reason or another (usually because they were angry rants that I thought I had better sit on for a few days). Surprisingly, a full half of the abandoned posts were either geeky or technical in nature, and I ended up ditching them because nobody except me would ever care to read them.
Then, just as I was ready to do a DELETE->ALL on my drafts folder, I had a change of heart. That was a lot of work I was about to trash, and I just couldn't bring myself to do it. This is what always happens, and I justify it by saying "well, I'll finish them up and post them someday"... secretly knowing that it will never happen. That's how I ended up with 37 drafts in the first place.
But just because I didn't want to post them here doesn't mean that I can't find another home for them. It was then that I got the bright idea to dust off my Tumblr account and re-brand it as a repository for all the crap that's left over from my blog. Blogography Bits was born...
I've temporarily slapped a DaveToon on a Tumblr template, but I'll eventually integrate it into my site when I find some free time.
So far I've posted...
With more to come.
Maybe nobody will bother reading my leftover crap, but that's okay. It's still a happier alternative to deleting stuff that doesn't work out for my blog!
Posted on Saturday, March 13th, 2010
The danger with digging is you don't know you're too deep until you're there.
Posted on Sunday, March 14th, 2010
Hooray! It's Pi Day! I love Pi! Of course I love all irrational and transcendental numbers, so that shouldn't surprise anybody. I will click the "publish" button on this entry at exactly 3.14.1:59 and see if a magic portal opens up to Flatland or something.
• Irritation Pi. As anybody who follows me on Twitter can attest, I am an irritable traveler. In my defense, it's hardly my fault. I honestly think that people are at their worst behavior when they're on a trip, so I have a valid excuse here. It's probably because travel has become so miserable now-a-days that people feel the need to do their part and become rude maniacs who are intent on making everybody else miserable too. It's a vicious circle. I travel a lot, so I've kind of broken the circle and just try to get through it all with as little drama as possible. With that in mind, I am freaking out over the idea that airplanes may soon be offering MOBILE PHONE SERVICE ON THEIR FLIGHTS. Holy crap. The idea of having to sit next to some loud asshole screaming away on their phone during a flight fills me with dread and homicidal rage...
I mean, seriously? Aren't airplanes horrible enough? Can you imagine how horrendously shitty flights will be if people can make phone calls? This is bullshit! I am willing to bet some serious cash that the murder rate on airplanes increases 2700% if some airline is actually fucking stupid enough to do this. What's next? Are the flight attendants just going to punch you in the face and smear you with horse shit as you board?
• Stupid Pi. I've written about how much I hate Daylight Saving Time so many times on my blog that I sometimes wonder if I should just write about it exclusively. But oh well... I HATE DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME!! Messing with the clocks is so damn antiquated and absurd that I just can't help myself. Just split the difference by a half hour then LEAVE OUR CLOCKS THE FUCK ALONE!
• Denial Pi. Last night I saw an article on yet another disaster in our military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, where a woman was discharged for being a lesbian... even though she adhered to the rules she was given. Now, I've never been in the military, so those who are in the military (or are a military veteran) can feel free to dismiss my opinion... but who in this day and age really cares if anybody is gay? What's the point? It's as if people who support DADT think that if nobody says they're gay, then the entire military is suddenly straight and homosexuality doesn't exist there. It's like DADT is some kind of magical "denial cloak" idea that somebody took from a Harry Potter novel.
The truth is that you're either a good soldier or a bad soldier, and where consenting adults like to stick their penis and what they choose to do with their vagina isn't going to change that. Fortunately, this is an attitude that's finally starting to stick, as I see when I run across inspirational people, positive stories, and videos like this bouncing around the blogosphere...
The thing that always amuses me is the idea that a gay guy would join the military not to serve his country or earn an education, but so he could look at naked guys in the shower and hook up. It's absurd, but apparently that's what geriatric politicians like John McCain seem to think will happen if gays are allowed to serve openly (despite opinions of military leaders like Colin Powell who thinks DADT should be repealed). If anything, you'd think that homophobes in the military would welcome repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell, because then they'd know to say "no thanks, please leave me to die" if they were shot on the battlefield and some "homo pervert" comes to their aid.
People can deny it all they want but the Gay Menace is out there. They're standing next to you at the urinal in the bathroom. They're showering with you at the gym. And they're serving with honor in our military. They're everywhere. Pretending that gays don't exist isn't going to magically make it come true. Why people are so insecure in their sexuality that they think being exposed to "teh ghey" will somehow turn them gay is beyond me. Why they think that gays are any less capable of leaving their sex life in the bedroom is even more of a mystery.
Personally, I'm more afraid of people who watch The Hills than I am of any homosexual. Where's an ineffectual and asinine government policy to protect me from that?
• Apple Pi. I'm ordering an Apple iPad because of a project I'm working on, even though I probably won't use it for much else since I've always got an iPhone and MacBook with me. Don't hate me because I am now 196% cooler and Steve Jobs loves me. At least he should love me now. Heaven only knows I love me more now...
• Humble Pi. I just thought I'd throw this out there for those people who think I'm being a narcissistic ass in my previous bullet...
And thus ends another amazing installment of Bullet Sunday.
Posted on Monday, March 15th, 2010
One of these days, I'm going to mount a video camera on my dashboard so I can have evidence of just how insane my 5-minute commute home can get. Today I added stops at the post office and the bank, which just tripled the crazy-ass shit I had to deal with. Being cut-off twice, nearly hit three times, and fuming over the SEVEN CARS coming from the opposite direction that DIDN'T stop while I waited to let a young boy cross the street... it's no wonder I'm near-homicidal by the time I get home. ARRRRRRRRRGH!
Peter Graves died over the weekend, which was some really sad news for me. As a mega-huge fan of both his Mission: Impossible television series and the Airplane movies, Graves has been a permanent fixture in my memory as both a brilliant source of suspense and comedy, which is a rare thing for an actor. My respect for him only grew when he turned down what was certainly a nice chunk of money to reprise his Jim Phelps role in the Mission: Impossible movie. The film totally betrayed the character, and Peter Graves would have none of it, which is really cool.
I always held out hope for another Airplane movie, but any attempt to do so now without Captain Oveur in at least a cameo would be a huge mistake. Most of the best scenes in Airplane are his...
"Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?"
Oveur and out.
Speaking of scenes...
There's a very cool article over at The Guardian where their film critics pick their favorite movie scenes. That got me to thinking about what my favorite scenes might be, so I decided to take a stab at listing them over the next several weeks for MOVIE SCENE MONDAYS! The first scene I look at is from Katheryn Bigelow's Strange Days released in 1995. There be SPOILERS below, and the film is well-worth watching if you haven't seen it, so don't click through unless you have!→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Tuesday, March 16th, 2010
I have a blog entry I'm working on, but my "Betty White" Google News Alert* brought some most excellent news to my attention, so I'll post it tomorrow.
TV Land PRIME's new original production of Hot in Cleveland starring BETTY WHITE will start airing in June on TV Land!
Frickin' amazing as always.
First she gets a Saturday Night Live hosting gig on May 8th, then a guest-spot on the season finale of The Middle, and now she's in a new television series. Sweet!
So glad Ms. White is showing no signs of slowing down, because everything's better with Betty!
I sure wish Chelsea Lately would book Betty as a guest. Now THAT... would be an awesome interview.
UPDATE: In even more Betty news... Betty White will be a guest on Larry King Live tomorrow night on CNN (6pm Pacific, 9pm Eastern). I positively loathe Larry King. I think he's about the shittiest "professional" interviewer working in television (yes, that includes Tyra Banks)... but you can bet I'll be tuning in for this one!
* For those curious about "Google News Alerts"... any time you do a search for something at Google News you can scroll to the bottom of the page and sign up for "email alerts" for whatever you just searched for (or anything else, for that matter). Then, at intervals you determine, Google will email you a report of things that show up in their news feed. Easy! And customizable...
I have alerts for people like Betty White, Elizabeth Hurley, and Steve Jobs... and things like ACTA, Macintosh, and Chocolate Pudding. Very handy... and free!
Posted on Wednesday, March 17th, 2010
Just two more days until vacation.
Assuming I don't kill myself from trying to get all my work done before then.
Posted on Thursday, March 18th, 2010
Tomorrow I'm on vacation for ten days so, naturally, today was packed full of last-minute work projects and a non-stop parade of drama. Work I can handle... but the drama?
Well, the drama has nothing to do with me. Yet people somehow think that it should.
So I'm ignoring the outside world for a while, and focusing on more important things. Like Miley Cyrus using her entire sixteen years of life experience to advise kids as to how they should live their lives...
"I'm telling kids, don't go on the internet. It's dangerous, it's not fun, it wastes your life, and you should be outside playing sports or something. I just think it's kind of lame. I feel like I hang out with my friends and they're so busy taking pictures of what they're doing and putting them on Facebook that they're not really enjoying what they're doing. You're going to look back and have a million pictures, but you're not going to be in any of them. Because you're not having fun, you're too busy clicking away. So I think just enjoy the moment you're in, and stop telling people about it. Just enjoy it."
Wow. Where was this sage advice seven years ago when I started blogging?
The thing that's so odd is that kids pretty much live online now. American teenagers now-a-days haven't really known of a world without the internet. And, thanks to devices like the iPhone, they're beginning to not know of a world without constant access to the internet. They're online Twittering and Facebooking constantly, and when they're not doing that, they're texting each other non-stop. Sure it's excessive, but these are the times we live in, and that's the way society seems to want to interact. So, while I applaud Miley for encouraging kids to step away from the computer once in a while, I think it's unrealistic to tell them "Don't go on the internet." Ever. That's who they are now.
Besides, it would be pretty hard for them to buy tickets at Ticketmaster.com for Miley's concerts... or spend their time hanging around her two websites MileyCyrus.com and MileyWorld.com... or sign up for her email newsletter... or visit her official YouTube Channel... or shop at her official Amazon Shop... or connect with her on her official Facebook fan page... or view her musical endeavors on her official iLike Artist Page... or buy her music from her page at the iTunes Music Store... or even become a friend at her official MySpace Page.
So, basically, Miley tells her fans not to do the internet drug, but then pushes them all kinds of internet crack to feed their habit.
Maybe her millions of dollars puts her in a class above being a hypocritical douchebag, but this is still a disappointment.
Especially to a huge Hannah Montana fan like me...
Isn't it terrible when our media heroes turn out to be sanctimonious wankers after all?
Posted on Friday, March 19th, 2010
Rather than have to pay $10 to check my suitcase in Wenatchee, I decided to drive to Seattle for my flight. The cost of flying Horizon Air vs. driving & parking is pretty much a wash, so I'll save the $10. This may seem like a petty amount of money in the grand scheme of things... but it's not the money so much as the principle of it all. I think it is absolutely shitty of airlines to nickle-and-dime people for a service that 99% of their customers need. This "extra revenue" policy only serves to make boarding the plane an unholy mess, as people struggle to bring all their luggage onboard so that they can save their hard-earned cash. I choose not to reward such blatant douchebaggery if I can help it.
Fortunately, it was a beautiful day and a lovely drive, so it wasn't a big deal.
Anyway... the mad rush all this week to get caught up so I can go on vacation had me dreading today... but, now that it's all behind me, I couldn't be happier that I'm escaping for a little while.
Next stop: Amsterdam and Dutchyland.
Posted on Saturday, March 20th, 2010
After leaving Friday at 1:30pm out of Seattle, the days smooshed together and I landed at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands this morning at 8:00am. The flight itself was uneventful. But before the flight I nearly had a panic attack when I thought that they were evicting me off the plane (when in fact they were upgrading me to World Business Class). It's easy to be paranoid when you hear stories of people being kicked off the plane for no reason. That's one of the few things that hasn't happened to me yet, so I figured it was my time.
But it wasn't and, typical to Schiphol efficiency, I was through customs and had my luggage waiting for me, all within 20 minutes. A few minutes after that, The DutchBitch arrived and we were off to catch-up on all the fabulous things that have happened in our lives since I was last here in October. From there, it was off to have delicious Patatjes Met (fries with mayonnaise) and an Old Cheese Sandwich (which means "aged cheese sandwich"... I hope)...
Deliciousness and two orgasms ensued.
After lunch, we were off to Den Haag (The Hague) on a rainy Saturday so we could go to the Escher Museum...
As I've mentioned before, my favorite flower is the crocus. And while I may be a week or two early for tulip season, the crocuses are in bloom everywhere...
The M.C. Escher Museum was, as expected, incredible...
Just down the street is the American Embassy which, as so often is the case, looks like a boxy pile of crap. Apparently, we're being asked to move because any time the embassy needs to be secured, they end up having to close down a busy street and public area...
As we were walking through the pouring rain back to the car, I asked The Dutch Bitch if all the golden metal I was seeing everywhere was real gold...
She replied "But of course. The Netherlands is so fantastically wealthy that we cover everything in real gold!" Apparently the sewer grates are due to be gilded in gold next week.
Since The Dutch Bitch wanted to make Greek Salad for dinner, we stopped at the grocery store. Visiting foreign grocery stores is always a fun experience because of the strange stuff you find there. This time, I was surprised to see that they sell Cat Milk here. I'd think that a cat would be a difficult animal to milk, but there it was...
The milking machine for a cat must be very tiny indeed.
I don't know that I'd want to abandon cow's milk for cat's milk... but it's nice to know I have options.
And thus ends my first two days of vacation smooshed into one.
Posted on Sunday, March 21st, 2010
It's the 175th edition of Bullet Sunday from Casa de DutchBitch! Reading about all the ugliness going on back home over health care reform, I can honestly say that there's no place I'd rather be right now.
Today we decided to grab a train and make the 2-1/2 hour journey down to Brussels in Belgium. Dutchy hadn't been there in 10 years, and the only time I had been to the city was for a 25 minute stop-over during a delivery.
• Cartooning. The first stop on our itinerary was the Belgian Comic Strip Center. I had heard nothing but good things about the place, and so I was a little let down to see that the building itself was kind of boring...
Just goes to show that you can't always judge a (comic) book by its cover, because the inside of the museum is stunning...
Highest possible recommendation if you have even a small interest in comic books and sequential art. There's precious little mention of any English books, but the pictures tell the story in any language.
• Atomium. After goofing around the museum, we took the subway out to the site of the World Expo 1958. Because this is where the giant Atomium structure can be found. It's pretty cool, well worth the trip outside the city, and will give you some great photos to remember you trip to Brussels...
The globes are reached either by a system of stairs and escalators...
Or an elevator up through the center column...
Once you reach a globe, there will either be some kind of exhibit or windows where you can look out...
Sweet! Hard to believe this place was built over 50 years ago.
• Food. The DutchBitch tells me that Belgium is also famout for Patatjes Met, which they call "Frites avec Mayo." Naturally, I could not pass them up. They are a bit thicker than Netherlands fries and not quite as crispy, but inevitably delicious, as you can imagine...
But the one thing that I simply had to eat was a Belgian Waffle, which they call a "Brussels Waffle" here. You can get them topped with a variety of stuff (including Belgian chocolate) but, being a purist, I just got mine with sugar and creme...
Yeah, orgasm-inducing delicious. Considering it cost $6.75, it had better be. Wish I could say the same for my $7.00 "Super" Coke, which was a watered-down horror story (lesson learned, ALWAYS order from the bottle, even if you have to buy two of them). While I am happy to eat the smaller and more sensible portions in Europe (vs. the massive portions they serve in the USA), I am consistently disappointed in the tiny size and HUGE cost of their Cokes. You always end up getting ripped off for what is essentially sugar-water.
• Square. The Market Square in Brussels is bordered by beautiful architecture on all sides. I could have spent half a day just looking at the buildings here...
• Peed. With some time to kill before our train back to the Netherlands, we decided to visit a famous Brussels attraction... "Manneken Pis" which means "Young Man Peeing." There was quite a crowd, but eventually I managed to get a shot of the little guy...
And thus our one-day invasion of Brussels had ended, and our mission to find something interesting to do for the day was a smashing success! Not bad for my last day in the Netherlands.
Posted on Monday, March 22nd, 2010
This morning The DutchBitch dropped me off at Schiphol so I could continue onward with the my vacation. That I ended up flying off to Bucharest so I could work is honestly not her fault, but that's basically what I did. This being a Monday, it was pretty much unavoidable. But I made up for it by having an early dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe Bucharest, so all was not lost.
The local Hard Rock is located north of downtown proper in Herastrau Park. As Spring has arrived, the park is just starting to green up, and a fair number of people were taking advantage of the sunshine to wander around the lakeside. After making my way past a small amusement park, I arrived in front of one of the most boring Hard Rock Cafes I've ever seen. I can't say for certain, but it looks as though it might have once been a US embassy. Strip away the wooden arches at the entrance, and it's pretty much just a giant cement brick. It really needs a giant guitar on top or something...
The car in the entryway is a nice touch.
The perimeter of the deck has a concrete wall around it like a penitentiary. All that's missing is electrified razor-wire at the top...
YOU CANNOT ESCAPE FROM HARD ROCK CAFE!
To say I was disappointed is an understatement.
Until I went inside...
Those are clear drum kits with lights in them in the ceiling above the bar, and are really cool-looking in person.
Turns out it's a beautiful property done up in classic "Hard Rock Style" with plenty of memorabilia plastered over every available surface... just as God intended a Hard Rock to be. The interior of the property is positively massive, and is able to hold 300 people (the deck outside can hold an additional 150)...
The hidden lighting in the ceiling is just beautiful.
Memorabilia everywhere... now THIS is a Hard Rock!
Facing the deck-side of the building.
So while it may be boring on the outside, it's 100% Hard Rock on the inside... which is where it counts, I guess. They even have a stage for live music...
Disco ball included.
My dinner, as expected, was very good. Getting a waiter was a little slow, but I arrived before the actual dinner shift when they were getting everything set up, so that was perfectly understandable. Service was fine after that, and the staff was really nice and friendly, which made my visit all the better.
So... if you happen to be in Bucharest, it's worth taking a quick trip north to Herastrau and a very impressive Hard Rock Cafe.
And, in non-Hard Rock news, Betty White continues her domination of all media by making a brilliant appearance on Ellen today...
Just when I think it's impossible for me to love Betty White even more that I do, she goes and proves me wrong. I can't wait for SNL in May!
And now I suppose I should get some work done so I can see a bit of the city tomorrow.
Posted on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
Today I attempted to make up for my lack of tourism yesterday by hiring a guide to show me a bit of Bucharest. Usually I don't like guided tours, but I wanted very much to have a historical context for the places I'd be seeing. It was also helpful to have somebody be able to negotiate entry to the various places, as many of the buildings are owned by the State and require special arrangements or considerations to visit them. Having a private tour guide and driver for one person is not overly-expensive considering the value you get in return.
The weather wasn't all that great today, but I didn't mind so much. Bucharest has sights that are remarkable rain or shine.
I was dropped off in front of the Romanian Savings Bank Palace, a beautiful building with French architectural elements that I would have dearly loved to see inside. You just know that the atrium under that natural-light cap is glorious...
From there it was a short walk to the Stavropoleos Monastery, home of a beautiful little church that had so many interesting details that I could have easily wasted half my day exploring them...
Wonderful little churches are scattered everywhere around Bucharest, some having been influenced by neighboring countries. Like this Russian church I saw as we headed back to our drop-off point...
Along the way we took brief shelter from the rain by walking through the Macca-Vilacrosse Passage, a very cool covered arcade walkway that spans two small streets. The yellow glass is a brilliant idea, because it gives off a warm glow that looks like the sun shining, even on overcast rainy days...
After a short car-ride, we arrived at the Metropolitan Church, which holds the relics of Demeter Basarabov, the patron saint of Bucharest. I didn't want the noise of my camera to disrupt the prayer service inside, so I can't show you the magnificient interior, but even the outside is pretty amazing. There's a cool fresco on the outside which depicts heaven on one side and hell on the other. In-between the two is the church entrance, which is an interesting symbology to present to parishioners...
Next up was a bastion of excessiveness that would put Lord Dimwit Flathead shame... Nicolae Ceauşescu's massive Palace of the Parliament. Second only to The Pentagon in size for administration buildings around the world, there's no way to adequately describe just how big this place is. Standing all the way back to the street from across the guest parking lot, I still needed to stitch together a panorama in order to fit it all in a photo, despite the fact that I'm using a wide-angle lens...
It's huge. Impossibly, massively, remarkably, huge. Thanks to some clever negotiations by my guide, I was able to get in on an English-speaking tour which would allow me to see 5% of the 1,100 rooms that make up the palace. I pretty much spent the entire time with my jaw on the floor as the tour wandered from one decadently appointed gigantic room to another...
And lest you think that the room designs are in any way superficial, they're not. Each element is impeccably rendered down to the smallest detail. Everywhere you look, there's astounding displays of craftsmanship that just boggles the mind. Here's a close-up of the ceiling for that last photo. I'm confident that if I were to get even closer, even more tiny details would emerge...
After collecting my wits, we proceeded to the Cotroceni Palace Museum, which happens to be the official residence of the President of Romania. Not surprisingly, absolutely no photography of any kind was permitted anywhere on the palace grounds. This is a real shame, because there are incredible sights to behold within.
Seven hours into the tour, we ended up at Revolution Square, which is home to one of the most interesting buildings I've ever seen, the Romanian Athenaeum. As a place built to celebrate the arts and sciences, it's truly a magnificent structure... not so much on the outside (though it is beautiful), but on the inside, which is just amazing. Of course, they don't allow photos in there either (that seems to be a reoccurring theme here in Bucharest) but it's definitely worth a visit...
Which brings us to Revolution Square itself, where the Romanian Uprising finally brought the Nicolae Ceauşescu communist regime to an end. To the more recent generations of Western World, this sounds like an event which happened long ago. But in reality, it was just twenty years past. And there I was, standing in the spot where it all ended... and began anew... and where many people lost their lives as tanks crushed them and gunfire tore through them as they fought for their freedom. I remember very well reading and watching the events in Bucharest unfold with the rest of the world, and it was a bit surreal to be looking across at the balcony of the Central Committee Building where Ceauşescu gave his final ill-fated public address...
At the center of it all, a monument was built in remembrance of those who lost their lives...
And thus ended my very small excursion into Bucharest. Of course I wish that I had a couple more days to explore the city, but I fit in as much as I could in the limited time available. As with any time you're lucky enough to travel, something is better than nothing at all!
And if you're looking to arrange your own tour of Bucharest or the surrounding area, I give my highest possible recommendation to RoCultours/CTI. As an academic touring company, you get an in-depth exploration of the things you see rather than just sitting on a bus as somebody points things out to you. This makes a world of difference when compared to the usual organized tour, and also allows for customization that would otherwise be impossible (I provided a list of things that were important to me, and they somehow found a way to make it all happen... like magic!). RoCultours/CTI came highly recommended to me, and I'm happy to pass along this "find" to anybody who ends up here looking for information on Bucharest.
Posted on Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
Happy birthday to me! As I said on Twitter... I may be all alone in a hotel room far away in Bucharest, but I've never felt so surrounded by friends as I did today thanks to all the kind birthday tweets, Facebook messages, and wonderful emails... it all means more to me than I could ever express. When even your arch-nemesis takes time to write out a birthday tribute, you know your life is worth living. Thanks to mah Hilly-Sue and everybody else who said such kind things. It's truly the best birthday present I could ever hope for.
As if all the birthday love wasn't enough... today my guide and driver took me into Transylvania to explore the Romanian countryside. It all started with the city of Braşov, which has an old-town city entrance that made me feel like I was at Dineyland...
The city crest is a crown from which "vigorous healthy roots" sprout. You see it throughout the city, and I grew kind of attached to it after a while...
From there we proceeded to the narrowest street in all of Romania (and possibly all of Europe), Strada Sforii... which means "Strand Street" or "The Rope Street" in English. It's so narrow that you can't really walk side-by-side, and passing somebody coming from the opposite direction can be tricky...
The primary attraction in Braşov would be Biserica Neagră, or "The Black Church" (so named because it was set on fire and blackened during The Great Turkish War)...
One of the most fascinating aspects of the church is a small statue of a child looking over the edge of the roof-line. It was explained to me that the statue is a tribute to the legend of a young German boy who was annoying the Bulgarian builders so badly that one of them ended up pushing him off the roof and then burying him within the church walls. Scary...
And now, from the Braşov EPIC WIN category... a poster advertising a Jägermeister ALL YOU CAN DRINK PARTY! If only I had more time in the city, I could have really, really gotten my money's worth out of that awesomeness (35 RON is about $11.50!)...
Anyway... Braşov is a charming and beautiful city, built around a lovely public square...
From there we continued onwards to Bran Castle... better known as "Dracula's Castle" thanks to the popular novel. In truth, "Vlad The Impaler" (the real-life person upon which the Dracula vampire character is based) never actually lived here. But the castle fits the location mentioned by Bram Stoker in the book, and apparently Vlad actually did use the castle at one point for his raids into Transylvania, so it gets the honor. The building itself is nothing spectacular, but it does have a great location, including a beautiful cobblestone path leading up to entrance...
Though the best way to see Bran Castle is actually from the grassy park below. Since winter is just on the way out, everything is still looking kind of dead and brown... but I'd imagine the scenery is amazing in the summer or winter...
At the bottom of the hill, there's a crap-market selling all kinds of cheesy souvenirs. There's even some kind of attraction that exploits the Dracula legend. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to have a look...
A far more stunning structure would be our next stop... Peles Castle. The interior is one of the most highly-decorated and massively excessive tributes to overkill you'll ever see, which made me wish I had some photos. But even without them, the exterior is pretty incredible...
The last stop before the two-hour drive back to Bucharest was the Sinaia Monastery. The property includes both a new church and an old church, both very interesting buildings to explore...
Not bad for a twelve-hour day! I will be very sad to leave Romania tomorrow, as I'm sure there are lots of other amazing things to see and do here.
Posted on Thursday, March 25th, 2010
My flight out of Bucharest wasn't until 3:00, so I decided to hire a driver into town and visit the National Museum of Art of Romania. They are famous for their medieval art, which is great, but I've seen so much medieval art that it's all kind of blending together for me. What I was really interested in was their modern art wing, because I'm not very familiar with many Romanian painters in the genre. I wasn't expecting much, but it would give me something to do until my flight.
The traffic in central Bucharest was brutal, largely because of a teacher's strike going on. At first I was worried that I had made a mistake...
Until I made it to the museum and was completely blown away by the amazing works housed within.
I have been to a lot of art museums all over the world, and I can honestly say that the National Museum of Art of Romania instantly became one of my favorites. Not just because it's a nice museum (which it is) but because I absolutely love the collection of artists they've assembled. It's just one breathtaking work of art after another...
I am not joking when I say that this museum is worth a trip to Bucharest all by itself. It's just that impressive. Highest possible recommendation...
My flight into Prague was delayed a bit, which meant I landed at the height of rush hour. The route my driver had to take into town to try and avoid the worst of the traffic was a mind-boggling array of twists and turns that looked like a pretzel on my iPhone GPS map. By the time I arrived and caught a tram into Old Town, the sun had just set.
Not that I'm complaining, because you get some great photos at that time of day...
I have been trying to arrange a stop in Prague for the better part of two decades, because people are constantly telling me what an beautiful city it is. Having seen photos, I knew they weren't lying, but it's taken to an entirely new level when you're here in person. The city is simply beyond beautiful. It's so beautiful that if I were a local, I'd wear a T-shirt that said "YES, WE KNOW OUR CITY IS FUCKING BEAUTIFUL... WE LIVE HERE!" because I'm sure they get tourists telling them how beautiful the place is all day long.
I can't wait to go to sleep so I can wake up and explore Prague in the daylight.
But of course I had to visit the Hard Rock Cafe Prague first...
Like just about everything else in this city, it was beautiful.
Posted on Friday, March 26th, 2010
Today was a glorious day in Prague, and so I took to the streets early so I could snap a few photos.
I ended up taking 537. Most all of them keepers.
The problem with Prague is that you start out all excited because everything is so pretty. It's like "ZOMFG! That building is so pretty! So you take a photo, walk 100 feet, and then "ZOMFG! That building is so pretty! Then another 100 feet, then another, then another... and just when you think that Prague will run out of pretty buildings, you suddenly realize that you've walked two miles and that Prague will never run out of pretty buildings, so you just give up in frustration.
I did go back and take a photo of the Hard Rock Cafe in daylight, because it is a very pretty building...
But they all are, really...
Even the clocks are pretty...
I'm sure that the Pooferflargen Museum is pretty, but I didn't really feel like looking at a bunch of "sex machines" before lunch...
Speaking of pooferflargen, Prague seems to have a disproportionate number of naked men statues. You'll be walking along minding your own business when WHAM! Some statue guy is hanging out all "How you doin'?"
But it's not like you have to worry about it killing your appetite, because Prague restaurants do that all on their own...
All I can say is that it had better be a LOT of beer, because I can't imagine there being any circumstances that I'd want to eat "jellied meat" unless I was very, very drunk.
After my non-jellied-meat lunch, I decided to walk across Charles Bridge so I could visit Prague Castle. It's a really cool bridge that's flanked with creepy-awesome statues...
But those statues pale in awesomeness compared to a statue that hovers above Prague Castle's main entrance gate...
It's like the city of Prague wants to be very clear that not only will they cut a bitch if somebody pisses them off, but that they are more than happy to stab people in the back when they do it. That is so shark-extreme I just can't stand it.
Prague Castle is dominated by the St. Vitus Cathedral. It's a very nice church, but pretty much like a lot of the other large gothic churches I've been in throughout Europe...
After walking fifty miles cataloguing the pretty buildings of Prague, I decided to go back to my room so I could take a Special Pill to keep my legs from falling off before I headed out again for sunset. I figured I'd take a tram to Petřínská Rozhledna (Petřín Lookout Tower) and snap a few photos of the city at sunset. It was a great plan, except the funicular tram that goes up the hill was out of order...
Which meant that I had to walk another fifty miles uphill and THEN climb 299 steps up the tower. I don't know if it was all worth it, but I did get some pretty pictures...
And then came the real challenge... climbing back down the hill.
With no lights.
I could barely see anything, and ended up having to use my iPhone to illuminate the trail a couple times. Not that you are ever confident which trail to take, because they're all unmarked (of course). I ended up removing the memory card from my camera and buried it in my pocket so if I were to survive being raped and stabbed on the unlit trail, I'd at least have my photos to show for it.
But I wasn't raped or stabbed, so I stopped by "Mystic Pizza" (!?!) for dinner. I remembered seeing it earlier in the day as I was climbing up to Prague Castle...
Now, up to this point, the weather had been fantastic. Clear skies and nice temperatures. But when I left the pizzeria, a thunder & lightning storm came out of nowhere and unleashed a torrent of rain. The jacket I had on wasn't exactly waterproof, which meant walking the fifty miles back to my hotel while getting soaked to the bone.
Checking out the weather forecast, it's supposed to pour buckets all week long. I know I should be upset about that, but after being so incredibly lucky with the weather today, I can't find it in me to be unhappy about it.
Besides, I'm sure Prague is equally pretty in the rain.
Posted on Saturday, March 27th, 2010
Last night I made plans to visit Karlštejn Castle, a popular tourist attraction about 20 miles south of Prague. And since I'd rather be punched in the face than pay $50 to join an organized tour bus group, I decided to go it alone via train.
After walking across the river and making my way down to Smichov Train Station, I bought my $4 round-trip ticket and then tried to find "Track 3" that I was supposed to be on. Except none of the tracks are numbered!! Not only that, but the reader boards only show the one train that's next to go... none of the trains afterwards! So I'm guessing the plan is that you run around from track to track until you find the train you're supposed to be on (hopefully you know the end-of-line city for your journey, or I guess you're fucked).
After finding my track by dumb luck, I thought the day's strangeness was over.
But this is me we're talking about.
And so there I am getting settled in my lower-compartment window seat when this guy comes walking down the aisle. When he gets to my row, he pauses for a second then continues on. The compartment is completely empty, which is nice, because I don't have to worry about a gum-smacking whore sitting near me. But then the guy comes back and sits down... right next to me... IN AN OTHERWISE EMPTY COMPARTMENT!
Not exactly sure how to react, I flash him my "seriously?" look. His response was to say "I am lonely." Not knowing exactly what he means by this, my only reply is "Uhhh... yeah... sorry, but I LIKE to be lonely," and then I headed to the upstairs compartment. On the up-side, he was a young good-looking guy, so it's nice to know what my options are if I should ever change teams.
Karlštejn Castle is quite a hike from the train station, but I didn't mind (hey, it was nothing compared to hiking up to Petřínská Rozhledna last night!). The castle itself is nothing extravagant, but still nice. The most interesting thing about my visit here was the weather. It started out pretty crappy...
But a half hour later it's an entirely different story...
No photos were allowed inside, of course.
The castle was founded by King Charles IV of Bohemia, and one of my favorite things about my visit was learning about his patron saint, Saint Catherine. The legends about her vary, but she pretty much kicked ass all around. After converting to Christianity in her teens, she went to the Roman Emperor Maximus to try and get him to stop persecuting Christians. The Emperor refused, but was taken by Catherine's beauty, and decided she should marry his son. After meeting Catherine for the first time, the son converted to Christianity. Upset at this news, Maximus sent his wife to talk Catherine out of her foolish religious ways. But instead, Catherine converted the wife to Christianity too. Outraged, Maximus had both his son and wife sentenced to death, and decided he would marry Catherine himself. In a final effort to have her give up her faith, Maximus sent fifty wise men to Catherine in order to make her see reason. That didn't go so well, as she converted all fifty of them to Christianity too. Maximus was beside himself with rage, and sentenced all fifty wise men to death, and decreed that Catherine would be tortured and killed on a breaking wheel. Except when she touched the wheel, lightning came down from heaven and demolished it. Left with no other option, Maximus eventually beheaded her, making her a martyr and eventual saint.
When I returned to Prague, I decided to hike up to Vyšehrad Castle, which is just south of Old Town. The locals I spoke with recommended the area because it doesn't get nearly the tourist traffic of Old Town. As an added benefit, it has a bitchin' cathedral and the views are pretty sweet...
But what I liked best was the cemetery and its statues. I took quite a few shots with a wide range of exposures in the hopes that I could make some nice HDR photos from them...
After walking most of today and yesterday, I had blisters on top of blisters and my legs were aching so bad I could barely move. I decided to take a Special Pill and lay down for a couple hours to recuperate a bit. By the time I had dragged myself out of bed and wandered back into Old Town, the rain we had been promised finally arrived. As expected, Prague is every bit as beautiful when wet...
The hotel manager suggested a vegetarian restaurant called Lehká Hlava (I think it's supposed to mean "Clear Head"), which is a kind of a Mediterranean/Spanish/Mexican fusion place that was unbelievably good. So good that I would gladly fly to Prague again just to eat here. I had hummus and tortilla chips followed by a quesadilla-type dish that was out of this world...
For dessert, I had to grab me yet another Trdelník. Usually I avoid foods with the word "turd" in the name, but these are so delicious that I just can't help myself. Bread dough is wrapped around a thick stick, baked over hot coals, then dipped in a mixture of sugar, cinnamon, nuts, and toffee bits. You then unroll it to eat, and it's just as delicious as it sounds...
Since it was my final sunset in the city, I decided to take my Trdelník and walk across Charles Bridge one last time. The rain had stopped, but the cobblestone streets were still wet, which always makes for nice photos...
And now I suppose it's time to pack my suitcase. Whee.
Posted on Sunday, March 28th, 2010
This morning I had all kinds of ambition to get up early and wander around Prague for a few hours before I had to head to the airport. This didn't happen. Instead I stayed in bed and decided to actually be on vacation for a few hours. Which meant doing absolutely nothing. And so here I am now back in the Netherlands so I can blog Bullet Sunday and pack my suitcase. Vacation, it would seem, is officially coming to an end.
• Mucha Mucha. Prague is home to the Alphonse Mucha museum, where you can see original works of Art Nouveau by the master himself. Of all the amazing sights I've seen in the city, I'd have to say visiting this museum was the highlight. Being able to walk into a building and see art so beautiful that you have to struggle not to crap your pants should be what life is all about...
• No Dumbassery. Yesterday was "No Tech Day" which is about as stupid as it gets... right up there with the bullshit idiocy of "Shutdown Day" from three years ago. My iPhone has completely revolutionized most all aspects of how I travel, and I cannot fathom going back to the dark ages where I didn't have instant access to maps and important information wherever I'm at... especially when I'm in a foreign country on my own. Supposedly giving up tech gadgets is going to "improve the quality of your life," but that's such a load of crap. So long as the tech gadgets don't become your life, and act only to supplement it, wouldn't that be a good thing? I'm guessing it's only a matter of time before these people invent something even more asinine... like "No Toilet Paper Day."
• International Disaster. I see that the heinous Jersey Shore reality show is now being distributed here in Europe. The thought of other countries judging the USA by what they see on this show fills me with horror and no small amount of shame. I can only guess that this will set back international relations by decades...
• Tenth Photo. I was tagged by Josh is Trashy to participate in a photo meme. Here are the rules...
My first photo file is called "0000 Dave Misc" which is basically a catch-all folder for stupid images of me that don't really go with any other photos. This is the worst possible folder to be looking through, And the tenth photo is not really the one I would choose if forced to display one on my blog...
This would be a scanned photo of my first trip to Maui with my friends. I have no idea what's going on here, but I'm pretty sure it's just me being very, very happy to be in Maui. Probably while drunk. I have no excuse for the short-shorts except that it was the 80's. Yes, I know it's a sexy look for me.
Unlike photo number eleven, where I have an unfortunate hair-cut and even more unfortunate round sunglasses. There's no "sexy" to come out of this mess...
Oh well. I'm afraid that I am rubbish at tagging people with these things, but if you are so inclined to embarrass yourself, please do.
And, on that note, I suppose I should sign off and try to get some rest. Tomorrow is going to be a very long day.
Posted on Monday, March 29th, 2010
And so my vacation is over.
The DutchBitch dropped me off at the train station for an uneventful ride to the airport. I then had a blissfully uneventful 10-hour flight home. I'd like to say I had a blissfully uneventful drive back over the mountains, but that would be a lie. In addition to "wintery mix" blasting the mountain passes (it's a mix of snow and rain)... I nearly got into an accident twice because people apparently don't know what a Yield Sign means...
Even though it's pretty much a universal symbol meaning "STOP YOUR STUPID ASS IF TRAFFIC IS APPROACHING, BECAUSE THEY HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY"... but while I was out of the country, apparently here in Washington State they've become merely roadside decorations you can ignore.
The first incident wasn't too spectacular. I just had to slam on my brakes to let the dumbass into my lane, even though he should have been the one stopping since he was the one with the YIELD MUTHA FUCKA! sign. The second incident was far worse, and took place as I was making the Cle-Elum turn-off from I-90...
That red line is me. After making my stop at the end of the off-ramp, I continue onward after turning left. That blue line is an oblivious douchebag who didn't even LOOK to see me already in the lane he was merging into. He blew on by the YIELD MUTHA FUCKA! sign and came gunning right at me. Not only did I have to slam on the brakes, but I had to swerve outside of my lane and then swerve back before being hit by oncoming traffic! But you know what the BEST part was? The dumbass lays on his horn when he finally notices me swerving all over the place! And it gets better! Since I was turning right and he was turning left, I pulled up alongside him WHERE HE PROCEEDED TO GIVE ME BITCHY LOOKS AND POINT HIS FINGER AT ME! Like he was calling me out or something.
It took all the self control I could muster not to ram my car into him and bust his shit, but instead I pointed at him and screamed "YOU'RE THE ONE WITH THE YIELD SIGN, ASSHOLE!" He probably couldn't hear me, but I'm pretty sure he sure got the message that HE was the one who made the mistake.
It wouldn't be me traveling if there wasn't some drama involved.
While on the plane I watched a bunch of in-flight movies to pass the time. Usually I only watch movies that I don't care about and don't want to spend the money and time to rent...
First up was "Precious, Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire". I never wanted to watch this film based on the stupid-ass title alone, but the subject matter didn't appeal to me much either. I ultimately found this movie about an abused and neglected teen a crashing bore, and ended up fast-forwarding through chunks of it. So people are horrible and life is depressing... wah! Big news. There was no break-through plot element here that made the story worth my time. I thought Gabourey Sidibe's performance was good, but not really Oscar-worthy. Mo'Nique was very good at being thoroughly reprehensible though, and probably deserved her nomination. But the break-out performances to me were actually by Paula Patton as Ms. Rain and (heaven help us) Mariah Carey as Mrs. Weiss. I may have hated the movie, but there were no denying the great acting.
I also watched The Blind Side... a movie I avoided because all these "football inspirational" stories usually bore the crap out of me. Boy was I wrong. The story of a Southern white family who takes in a black homeless student who then goes on to become a football star was definitely entertaining. Sure the "based on a true story" plot was predictable and manipulative, but the performances were all-around amazing. Sandra Bullock earned that Oscar. And who the hell knew Tim McGraw could act? I also thought that Quinton Aaron added dimension to what could have been a pretty pedestrian and straight-forward character. These kind of bland stereotypical pablum films may not be my cup of tea, but I thought it was pretty good for bring in that genre.
Next up was Pandorum, a sci-fi thriller that I knew nothing about starring Ben Foster and Dennis Quaid. The film was basically a combination of a dozen sci-fi films I've already seen before (mostly Alien and Sunshine with a little Serenity thrown in) but somehow managed to pull off the "zombies in space" idea in an entertaining way. I was happy to have seen it, but didn't think there was anything new or groundbreaking here. Had they found something unique and surprising to catapult the story out of the copycat rut they found themselves in, this could have been a home-run. I was pleasantly surprised by Ben Foster though. He always seemed so one-note in other things I've seen him in, but does a great job here.
After that was Whiteout, based on the comic book mini-series of the same name that I had never read. It's a story about the first ever murder-mystery in Antarctica, and the special circumstances such an environment creates in trying to solve it. While I enjoyed the movie well enough (I can't help myself because I love Kate Beckinsale), the limited number of characters made guessing the mystery villain and the plot-twist villain absolute child's play. I literally had everything pegged in my head fifteen minutes into the film. Still, the arctic location made for some interesting plot elements and I liked the scenery.
And then was The Invention of Lying, with one of my favorite comedians Ricky Gervais, plus Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, and a lot of cameos from people like Tina Fey, John Hodgman, Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Jason Bateman (PLUS Jonah Hill, in the ONLY role I haven't positively hated him in!). This thinly-veiled pro-atheism film was pretty much a let-down. Sure the premise of a world where people can't lie is funny at first... but the jokes grow stale far too quickly and the internal logic just didn't hold together for me. It was a half-hour of material that was drawn-out far too long (sometimes painfully so).
And lastly there was The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson's epic retelling of the classic Roald Dahl children's book about a fox who craves adventure and danger... sometimes at the expense of his family and friends. I had already seen the film once, and liked it enough to watch it again. The voice cast is stellar (George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Michael Gambon, and more), the stop-motion animation sublime, and the story just bizarre and quirky enough to keep things interesting. Oddly enough, I can't imagine kids enjoying the film that much, as most of the dialogue and story elements seemed very adult to me.
And now... it's time to try and get a few hours rest. It's hard to get jet-lag when you only sleep 4-5 hours each night, but hopefully this long, long day will make me tired enough to manage some sleep.
Posted on Tuesday, March 30th, 2010
"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth."
— 1 John 3:18, King James Bible
I do not often speak of my religious and philosophical beliefs because they are deeply personal to me, and not open for debate on this blog (as most everything I write here ends up being). Suffice to say that I try to lead my life according to Buddhist precepts of doing no harm but don't actually consider myself a Buddhist because I do not follow these precepts as completely as a "true" Buddhist would. That being said, I have studied several different religions in an effort to understand my fellow humans better. Needless to say this includes the many flavors of Christianity.
In my pursuit of comprehending Christians, I have studied The Bible (both Old and New Testament) from several different approaches... including the placement of the Holy Texts in their historical context. From this respect, I am probably better-informed as to their faith than most self-professed Christians are. Especially those who would take some random piece of Scripture... put it in a 20th century context based on modern-day vernacular, customs, and thinking... and then use said Scripture to attack or persecute people. That always drives me nuts because of the sublime ignorance it takes to use the Word of their God as a weapon when, more often than not, the people doing so have no clue as to what that passage actually means. Instead they are using their personal interpretation of a translation of an accounting of texts taken out of context to promote a personal agenda, often in ways that would have originally been impossible... either due to the mores of the time period, or the constructs of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, or Koine Greek language in which The Bible was written.
I can best explain this by using an example: "Awful" originally meant "full of awe" and was used to describe something spectacular instead of something horrible. And that's a relatively RECENT AND UNTRANSLATED example, which was still showing up in English texts under the original meaning just two hundred years ago. Can you imagine how the meaning of words could have changed with translation to another language over the span of two thousand years or more?
In defense of Christians, however, I believe that many of them understand that The Bible is not something that can be taken literally all the time. The ideals within The Bible are immutable to their faith, but certain allowances have to be made for the era in which the Holy Texts were written, and the creative allegory which the authors used to illustrate concepts of Christianity to the people living during those times. Certainly directives such as "Thou Shalt Not Kill" are as true in meaning now as they were back then... but you simply cannot say the same for everything that's in The Bible, or else modern-day Christians would have some very messed-up ways of practicing their faith.
Not to say that there aren't some Christians out there who are doing their best to prove me wrong.
And though the remainder of this entry will be in response to actions of the Westboro Baptist Church, I want to be very clear that I do not consider them unique in their ability to use The Word of their God to do things I consider to be reprehensible. Obviously, the world is replete with examples of peoples of all faiths doing exactly that. It just so happens that this time it's the Westboro Baptist Church who are the ones that caught my attention.
But before I start my little tirade, I should also mention that I fully support members of the Westboro Baptist Church exercising their right to free speech in a manner that complies with the freedoms allowed by that right. I may not agree with the things they say, but I'm sure there are people out there who would say the same thing about me, so more power to them. From their perspective, they are actually trying to help people by raising awareness of their particular interpretation of The Bible, and since they are not using guns or explosives to do it, well... this is The United States of America. If you can't take people expressing themselves and their beliefs, then you really need to find a different country.
There has to be limits.
There has to be limits because a healthy democratic society not only allows for personal freedoms, but also allows for protection from harm and cruelty that might arise from such freedoms. As an example, your personal freedom of speech does not allow you to scream "HEY! THERE'S A FIRE!" in the middle of a crowded building. Doing so could result in people getting hurt, not to mention being a really mean thing to do. Likewise, you can't sacrifice a virgin to Zuul in the middle of Central Park and cry "freedom of religion" because you've just grossly violated the rights and freedoms of the virgin you just killed... even if they were a willing participant (especially if they were a willing participant). Some would say that freedom with limits is not really freedom at all, but "freedom" is a pretty open-ended word and could easily be perverted to allow persecution of people whose own freedom would be violated in the process of enacting it. Thus, limits.
So, while I support the Westboro Baptist Church for their hate-speech fueled picketing of whatever their latest target might be (as well as those awesome people who picket in response) I also support the idea that their actions should be limited.
Because it's one thing to say "homosexuality is wrong" in the most disgusting way possible... but it's another thing entirely to cause serious emotional cruelty with intent to harm, such as when they picket a funeral. And though I consider the death of a soldier no more tragic than the death of any person, I have to say that picketing the funeral of a fallen soldier who died in service of this country is particularly heinous considering it was soldiers who died for their right to have free speech in the first place...
The Bible is relatively quiet about funerals and how Christians should treat the dead. Probably because the core concept of Christianity is the idea of eternal life. To Christians death is just a beginning, so whatever ceremony people want to have for those departed (not to mention the method they use for disposing of the remains) is up to them and whatever traditions they hold.
And so even though the Westboro Baptist Church can toss out whatever context-deprived and misrepresented snippets of The Bible they wish to support their actions, their ruthless persecution of people who are grieving over the death of friends or family is a truly indefensible position to take. Because while The Bible is not so explicit with how one should treat the dead, it is overflowing with passages as to how you should treat the living. Thus, to say that the Westboro Baptist Church violates the very ideals of The Bible they profess to live by, truly is an understatement of biblical proportions.
Which is why I am understandably outraged when I read that Al Snyder, the father of a Marine whose funeral was picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church, has been ordered to pay them $16,000 as compensation for their court costs. The father had (rightfully) won an earlier judgement on the grounds that privacy and religious rights were violated by the church's protest but, since the church won on appeal to the Fourth Circuit, a grieving father gets screwed... again... this time financially.
And now I sit here dumbfounded, trying to figure out exactly how our Founding Fathers could have possibly anticipated such a grotesque application of The Bill of Rights as they were writing them.
Probably because there is no way they could have anticipated something as wholly fucked up as this when The First Amendment was drafted.
I find it sickening on every possible level that we have a legal system which not only actively supports people's "right" to inflict such reprehensible cruelty, but also dictates that victims of such cruelty are responsible for paying for their own deplorable treatment at the hands of the law. THIS is justice? How? There is no justice for the father who was ruthlessly abused in a time of sorrow. There sure as hell is no justice for a dead Marine who is unable to speak out against the abuse of friends and loved-ones at HIS funeral. By the courts saying that there are no limits to the freedoms of the Westboro Baptist Church to persecute people, how can the rest of us be free?
Exploiting the tragedy of somebody's death for glorification of their church and self-promotion of their hate makes members of the Westboro Baptist Church about the least "Christian" people on earth. It also makes them fucking assholes. I honestly believe that a time is coming when citizens of the United States of America are going to put aside their petty political bitching and focus on the big-picture items upon which all of us should be able to agree. Very high on that list is not allowing fucking assholes to picket a funeral and deprive a grieving father HIS freedom to mourn in peace.
Mutual respect for your fellow humans is the only way this whole "freedom" thing is ever going to work out. Those who have no respect, don't deserve the freedom.
If you want to show your support for Al Snyder, you can join the Facebook group he made to support his son and legal battles.
You can also help by donating money to Mr. Snyder to pay the court-mandated fees associated with Westboro Baptist Church's appeal. Any monies collected in excess of the costs will be donated to scholarship funds for returning veterans.
Posted on Wednesday, March 31st, 2010
My second full day home after vacation has been fairly uneventful.
Except the weather forecast, which was sunny and warm before I left but has now turned snowy and cold. This means the local orchards have giant fans running to keep their trees from freezing. And since there are three orchards within walking distance of my bedroom, it's been like trying to sleep in the middle of a cyclone tonight.
Which is to say that I'm not able to sleep at all, so I thought I'd blog about two new apps I got for my trip while they are still fresh in my mind.
My iPhone has quickly become an essential travel tool, eliminating the need for maps, dictionaries, guidebooks, and other necessities I usually take with me. Whether I am syncing my itineraries and reservations with Tripit or looking up exchange rates with eCurrency, there always seems to be an app for whatever I need to do. The two latest tools in my travel arsenel have made my iPhone even more essential.
First up is Trip Journal. This handy app allows you to document your travels using the iPhone's built-in GPS to plot your journey and add photos and notes to places you've been (and it can keep tracking, even when data roaming is off). As if that wasn't enough, it's absolutely beautiful...
But even better... you can export your GPS tracking data to a KMZ file that can then be imported into Google Earth so you can look at your trip on your computer...
The red lines are when the iPhone was actually able to get GPS coordinates. Whenever a GPS satellite can't be located, Trip Journal just draws a black line to connect the previous point to your current location. This is kind of nice, because the GPS receiver in the iPhone is pretty weak (as you can see by the crazy-ass routes it registers when you zoom in to street level). But putting the lack of pinpoint accuracy aside, you can still see how this would be a really nice and easy way to remember all the things you saw and the places you went while on a trip.
And next up is CityMaps2Go. While not quite as nice and comprehensive as the maps you get out of the Google Maps app that's built into the iPhone, CityMaps2Go has one huge advantage... all the maps are self-contained. This means you don't have to use expensive international roaming charges to load map data. Even better, once you buy the app, you can download maps for most major cities free of charge! Before I left for my recent trip, I just grabbed maps for Brussels, Prague, and Bucharest, knowing that I'd be able to find my way around those cities without having to be gouged for downloading them over 3G...
Of course, once you're outside the bounds of the map you've downloaded, you're out of luck and will have to switch back to Google Maps. Still, considering the money I saved overall, the app is still well worth getting.
And there you have it... two more awesome reasons to have an iPhone when you travel.
Posted on Thursday, April 1st, 2010
Because you just know that everybody wants one no matter how much they deny it...
Hope your April Fool's Day is a happy one!
To see all of the Lil' Dave Mac vs. Lil' Wayne PC ads, click here!
Posted on Friday, April 2nd, 2010
Yes, I am getting an iPad.
But only for a project I'll be working on... it's not something I anticipate keeping. I need a "real" computer to do my work, so my MacBook Pro laptop is always with me. And since I'm never without my iPhone as well, there just doesn't seem much point in carrying around one more gadget everywhere I go. So, after I'm done with it, I'll be giving the iPad to my mom, where I anticipate it will mostly be used as a photo album (seriously, the iPad is the most beautiful, amazing way to organize and display photos ever, as shown in this Apple tour video).
While my interest in the iPad is minimal just now, the one area where I'm intrigued with its possibilities is publishing.
I am absolutely fascinated with the idea of the iPad being used as a new distribution model for visual printed media like magazines and comic books. How sweet is it that you can eliminate the two most expensive parts of publishing printed media... the paper/printing and the postage... and just sell your work digitally at a more affordable price!
Except, just like the music industry before it, publishers are being positively fucking stupid about the future.
Because THIS is what I saw when I was looking at the cost for buying an issue of Marvel Comics from the iPad...
A DOLLAR NINETY-NINE EACH?!? And these comics are from 1963!! FORTY-SEVEN YEAR-OLD DIGITAL COMICS FOR $1.99 EACH?!? WTF?!?? This is just insane. I buy my current comics at discount from a comic mail order company and pay $1.85 each for A PHYSICAL BOOK! A physical book that I get to keep and save and collect. With the iPad you get a digital file that has
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
But what about magazines?
Well, let's take a look. You can currently get a physical copy of TIME Magazine delivered to your mailbox for 36¢ an issue with a
The cost to buy the same thing digitally with your iPad?
Yes, you read that right... FOUR DOLLARS AND NINETY-NINE CENTS AN ISSUE!! WTF?!? Does the iPad version of TIME Magazine come with a blow-job or something?? By buying digitally, I save the publisher from having to pay for paper & printing AND postage. And what do I get for my trouble? I HAVE TO PAY A 1286% PRICE INCREASE!!
How does this make ANY kind of sense?
By eliminating the cost of paper, printing, and postage, digital versions should COST LESS than their physically printed counterparts... NOT MORE! Or, at the very least, they should be the same price.
And so here I sit not giving a fuck if magazine publishers die a slow, painful death. They are literally too stupid to survive. So let them die. Eventually a new media replacement that doesn't have their heads up their asses will rise up and take their place.
It's only a matter of time, and I have plenty of patience.
Posted on Saturday, April 3rd, 2010
Posted on Sunday, April 4th, 2010
It's Bullet Sunday on Easter Sunday! Bullets and Eggs... could there be a better combination?
• HAPPY EASTER! To all my friends who celebrate this day for whatever reason, I wish you the happiest of holidays and a wonderful Spring. My day was nice enough... dinner at grandma's house... but my car ended up covered with bird crap. And I mean covered. There is so much bird crap on my car that I'm fairly certain I could fertilize half the apple orchards in the valley. I didn't have enough quarters for a car wash, so now I'm driving the PoopMobile. Kind of an ominous start to my Spring, but it is what it is.
• THRILLER! Say what you like about the freakish nature of Michael Jackson but, after watching his final appearances on the This is It DVD, there's no denying the guy was a true musical artist. I am only a casual fan but have to admit I was amazed watching him prepare for his farewell tour. Even if you only like one or two Michael Jackson songs you owe it to yourself to see this film...
• UPS SUCKS! Yesterday I was supposed to be in Seattle hanging out with friends and family. But a freak snowstorm descended, canceling my plans. So long as a winter storm warning is in effect, I can't risk being trapped in Seattle while I'm still trying to get caught up with work after my vacation. Since I was going to be home, I was asked to help with an emergency. An iPad demo unit which has to be on its way to Europe on Monday wasn't going to arrive as planned, and a software developer friend of mine asked if I wouldn't mind sending my iPad out instead (then he would send his iPad to me next week when he got it). Of course I didn't mind at all. The only problem was that I live in a small town where Saturday Delivery isn't available, and I wasn't expecting my iPad to be here until Monday. So I called UPS to tell them to please route my iPad to a UPS Store in a nearby city that has Saturday Delivery. I could drive into town, pick it up, transfer the software, and then ship it out again no problem.
Except it WAS a problem. UPS refused to do a damn thing.
They wouldn't reroute the package. They wouldn't even contact the local UPS station to have them take it to the UPS Store. They wouldn't even let me drive to the actual station and pick it up there. They didn't offer any solution at all.
What fantastic customer service.
I'm amazed that I've done this with Fed-Ex a couple times before and they never even hinted that it was a problem. Fed-Ex just took care of it, and I never gave it a second thought. But to UPS it's massive drama and an overwhelming ordeal that they can't (or won't) help you with. They just don't care. Which meant my friend... a small tech developer just trying to stay in business another damn day... had to drive eight hours round-trip to solve a problem that UPS could have fixed in just a few minutes if they had even a hint of customer service.
So, lesson learned. If you want a company that actually gives a flying fuck, ship with Fed-Ex.
UPDATE: And so one of the voicemails I ignored at work this weekend was from my local UPS station trying to contact me to see if I wanted to have my package delivered to an alternative address or meet a driver to pick it up. This is exactly what I wanted to do all along, but was assured by the UPS Customer Service line that it was impossible. Apparently the local stations actually do give a crap about their customers, they just don't have any support from corporate. This is so frickin' typical of big businesses now-a-days that I can't even pretend to be surprised.
And, on that happy note, I'm off to wash clothes. How exciting is THAT?
Posted on Monday, April 5th, 2010
This morning when I woke up it was snowing. When I got to work it was misty. When lunch came around, there was heavy rains and hail. When I got off work the sun was shining. I wish that the weather could make up its damn mind so I know what I'm supposed to wear each day. As it is, I just have to run the gauntlet and hope that I don't end up too cold or too hot or (worst of all) too wet.
What I wouldn't give to be back in Maui right now...
TequilaCon is in less than three weeks. That will do... no matter what the weather.
Posted on Tuesday, April 6th, 2010
If the idea of a Certified Apple Whore bitching about the new iPad disturbs you... please look at the cute kitten below and ignore the rest of this entry. Come back tomorrow when there will be monkeys and pie!
I have named the new iPad "Paddington" and like him a lot. He is about the sexiest piece of tech to come along in quite a while, and Apple deserves a lot of credit for creating such a revolutionary device in a field that's been riddled with a crushing lack of success (including Apple's own "Newton" device). For the most part, I think iPad is dreamy, and there are a bajillion websites out there with reviews waxing poetic about how frickin' sweet it is.
And yet it is far from perfect.
But before I get to the astounding number of inexplicable failures in both functionality and usability, there's a few things I won't be covering that everybody else seems to be complaining about...
The iPad is a multi-functional device that becomes different appliances when apps are run on it. It's not a computer, it's not meant to be a computer, and trying to force computer-related baggage onto it is like being upset because your toaster doesn't make margaritas. This is a new kind of device for a new kind of user, and anybody needing that kind of stuff should just go buy a computer. Whining because iPad doesn't support the bloated, battery-draining, resource-stealing, crash-prone pile of garbage known as "Flash" is the kind of backwards thinking that drives me insane. If you need Flash functionality and iPad/iPhone/iPod users are important to you, then either simulate it with HTML5 or build an app if that doesn't work. Trying to change Steve Job's mind about Flash is just pointless, so let's move on. The future awaits.
To read what I DO have to say about the iPad, I've put the whole whiny mess in an extended entry. Enjoy!→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Wednesday, April 7th, 2010
I've been thinking a lot about pie recently.
It all started when I went through the McDonald's drive-thru last week and wanted something to eat with my French fries. As I read through the menu looking for non-meat options, I landed on the McDonald's apple pie and felt my heart sink. McDonalds' apple pie sucks ass. Compared to my grandmother's apple pie, all apple pies suck ass... but McDonald's is a new low in apple pie suckage. Especially since they switched to their awful "baked" pies in 1992. Prior to that, their pies at least had the benefit of a crispy goodness that can only come from deep-fat-frying.
I ended up getting a OREO Cookie McFlurry with my fries because I just couldn't handle the disappointment.
But my longing for deep-fried fast-food pie has lingered.
Mostly because I know that most foreign countries have McDonalds that serve fried pies. I've had fried McPie in Hong Kong, France, Italy, Japan, Ireland, Spain, and other countries too. Never mind that McDonalds was Made in America, foreign countries get the good pie.
Why Americans suffer in silence.
BUT I CAN BE SILENT NO MORE! I WANT FRIED McPIE BACK IN AMERICA!!
I don't care about health care reform or tax spending or national debt or any of that long-term crap anymore. All I care about is fried McPies for the American people NOW.
I realize that McDonald's probably started baking their pies out of some kind of misguided attempt to create something healthier to eat... but people don't go to McDonalds to eat healthy, and they certainly don't order pie for the health benefits. So let's cut all the pretentious bullshit and people what they want.
McDonalds owes us that much.
McDonalds owes us fried McPie.
Posted on Thursday, April 8th, 2010
When I woke up and looked out the window this morning it was snowing. This was disappointing, because I was hoping to participate in One Day Without Shoes (helping to remind people of kids living in poverty who can't afford footwear). HELPFUL HINT TO ORGANIZERS: Might have been a good idea to pick a date closer to summer so those living in North North America can participate.
And so my day was already off to a bad start with the weather, but that wasn't good enough. Irony had to rear its ugly head. My body decided to have an angioedema attack for the second day in a row, where the bottoms of my feet had swollen so badly that getting my feet into shoes was a painful prospect. So, to sum things up...
And so I overdosed on antihistamines (again) which ended up giving me an upset stomach, which resulted in me puking my guts out, which meant I ended up having to take more antihistamines, which made me sleepy, which meant I had to drink Red Bull, which caused me to have an upset stomach. And so on.
My entire day ended up being a vicious circle of cause and effect.
And here at the end of my day, it's no different. The never-ending battle to stay healthy enough to work while staying awake enough not to drop into a coma has taken its toll, and I'm pretty much dead. Whether I'm dead enough to get a decent night's sleep remains to be seen. But I'm hopeful.
Posted on Friday, April 9th, 2010
My fear of clowns is well documented.
But apparently I didn't always have the same phobia of these psychotic killing machines that I do now. Because as I continue to scan and catalog pictures from my childhood, I am seeing clowns everywhere.
They're sneaking around in the background...
Or placed next to me...
Or even sitting on my face...
And yet these photos show no sign of the trauma I would surely experience if I were to run across these same clowns today. I can only guess that I was attacked by a murderous clown sometime in my early teens, and have blocked the incident from memory. Now only the fear remains, not the experience which caused it.
Kind of like the George W. Bush presidency. As the days pass, I can barely remember all the horrific details... just the overwhelming feeling of sheer terror and dread that they imprinted on my psyche.
I should probably seek professional help, but I don't think any amount of therapy is going to drive Karl Rove from my head. And I don't suppose it takes a psychological genius to figure out what my worst nightmare would be...
If Karl Rove ever joins the circus, I may never sleep again.
Though Rove did join FOX News, which is pretty much the same thing as the circus... just without the fresh-roasted peanuts, a trapeze, the big top, and somebody with a shovel to scoop up all the shit that the animals keep dropping all over the place.
Great. One more thing to keep me awake at night.
Posted on Saturday, April 10th, 2010
For those who are just sick of hearing about iPad, I apologize. But the more I play with it, the more I realize that Steve Jobs wasn't just blowing smoke up people's asses when he called iPad a "magical and revolutionary device"... minor criticisms aside, it really does feel a bit like magic sometimes... mostly because it has this uncanny ability to just disappear, leaving nothing between you and what you're interacting with.
As if that wasn't enough, iPad is responsible for Betty White, Apple Genius, to appear on Craig Ferguson...
Since iPad is so new there aren't a huge number of releases for it yet, but I have run across three great apps that are worth having...
Star Walk ($4.99). This astronomy app is a nice star map app with a good-sized catalog of stars, galaxies, planets, and other stellar objects. It's slick, polished, and beautiful, but what makes it so cool is the "Star Spotter" function it inherited from the iPhone version. Hold the iPad up to the night sky, and it will use your location and direction to follow your moves and display a map of what you're seeing. Magical...
Tap something on the display then hit the info button, and StarWalk zooms in and tells you all about it...
On the iPhone, the app was nice, but not very practical because the tiny size made usability difficult. But on iPad's beautiful big, display it's fantastic. If you have even a passing interest in astronomy, it's $5 well-spent.
Ocean Blue ($9.99). While $10 may seem pricy for a passive application like a virtual aquarium, the quality here is pretty amazing and it's the perfect app to show off your iPad. Just like StarWalk, you can move Ocean Blue around, and the virtual display will pan around the ocean, allowing you to "dive" and look around (you can also tap-navigate as well). There's currently not a big variety of fish you can choose from, but the developer has promised more in future updates. If they look and move as beautifully as the current batch, a terrific piece of software is just going to get better and better...
Sam & Max Episode 1: The Penal Zone ($6.99 for a limited time). One of my favorite cartoon creations, Sam & Max, Freelance Police have come to iPad with an adventure game that's pretty sweet. Things start out kinda confusing... homicidal rabbit-thingy Max has unexplained psychic powers, and you're dropped into the end of the story. From there, you have to piece together not only the mystery of what happened and how it happened, but how to stop it from happening again. Like I said, confusing... but still a lot of fun. I've run into occasional audio drop-outs and video stutters, but the overall game is so hilarious and clever that you won't be too disappointed. The game is played by moving the characters around and tapping on objects to interact with them. With the help of Max's psychic powers, you solve puzzles and move the story forward. But the best news? This is only the first episode, and there's four more to come...
Overall, not a bad start. As more and more developers start taking advantage of what the iPad is capable of, the future is going to be magical indeed.
Posted on Sunday, April 11th, 2010
It's Bullet Sunday and, if I remember to hit "publish" instead of "draft," then maybe it will actually appear on Sunday.
• Hostess. One of my favorite childhood treats was Ding Dongs snack cakes. But since I became a vegetarian in 1988, I haven't been able to eat them because Hostess fills them with DISGUSTING LARD!! I still miss them though, because nothing quite compared to peeling off that foil wrapper to get to the chocolatey creamy goodness inside. Anyway, yesterday when I was shopping, I noticed that Ding Dongs are no longer wrapped in foil. They're wrapped in DISGUSTING PLASTIC!
I refuse to eat DISGUSTING LARD, so I can't say for sure... but I bet they don't taste as good without the foil wrapper.
• Dixie. I was very sad to learn that Dixie Carter passed away. As Julia Sugarbaker on Designing Women, she had some of the funniest moments on television, and provided some clever insight on events of the day. They don't write them like that anymore, and now that Dixie Carter is gone, they won't play them like that anymore either...
She will be missed.
• Lust. And in other sad news, Seattle's "Lusty Lady" is closing! I've only been once, but it was a peep-show experience that lasts a lifetime. Believe it or not, many consider the most entertaining part of the place not to be the naked women on the inside, but the clever puns on the marquee outside...
Ah, if only I could make it to Seattle with a roll of quarters just once more for old-time's sake! The Lusty Lady... she will also be missed.
• Palinesque. About the ONLY benefit of Sarah Palin's never-ending stupidity still being in the public spotlight would be Tina Fey popping up every once in a while with her flawless parody of it. Well, actually her parody of Palin's parody of Marge Gunderson, but still, amazing. In any event, Fey totally nailed it once again with last night's hosting duties on Saturday Night Live...
On one hand, it would be heaven for Palin to run for president in 2012... the comedy gold that such an undertaking could provide would be epic. On the other hand, she's set back women in politics by at least a decade, and it would be nice to have a fully-functional woman enter the next presidential election.
And on that hopeful note for the future, it's time for Oreo Cookie dinner.
Posted on Monday, April 12th, 2010
Despite having worked a big chunk of Saturday and Sunday I was still completely overwhelmed today. This was kind of disheartening, as it made me feel as if I had given up my weekend for nothing.
It's times like this that I am seriously reconsidering my no-drug policy here at Blogography.
Because, let's face it, if anybody is the perfect candidate for drug use it's me. I work under high amounts of stress, I am often alone, and I have a highly addictive personality. I often joke that the only thing that keeps me from doing buckets of cocaine is the cost. But the truth is that I could probably juggle a few things in my budget and be able to free up enough cash for a decent coke habit if I really wanted to.
And days like today, I really want to.
Living in a hallucinatory land of green skies with pink clouds while surrounded with hundreds of imaginary monkeys may seem like a terrible thing, but I assure you it sounds pretty good compared to my non-cocaine-hallucinated reality...
So far so good.
But then I look at the legal ramifications of being caught in possession of cocaine, and this rose-colored scenario starts to turn murky. As a first-time offender, I could probably get off with community service and drug counseling. Picking up garbage on the side of the highway wouldn't be too bad, that I could do. But the idea of having to go to meetings with crack-heads, stoners, blazers, and drugged-out nut-bags while some counselor lectures on the joys of a drug-free life... well, that's enough to scare me straight before I even begin. In all honesty, I'd rather go to prison.
So I'm back to square one.
I guess it's time for chocolate pudding and a glass of milk.
Which I'm sure is almost as good as a couple lines of cocaine anyway.
Posted on Tuesday, April 13th, 2010
This morning the Washington State House and Senate ended their "special session" to balance the state's budget. They did this by passing a package of tax hikes and spending cuts, which kind of makes sense given that we don't want to end up on the verge of bankruptcy like California. Nobody likes more taxes and less spending, but you do what you have to do to make things work, Right? I can live with that.
While I may be open to sucking it up and paying a little more in taxes so that critical services and functions will continue in my home state, I do insist that the new taxes MAKE SOME FUCKING SENSE IF I HAVE TO FUCKING PAY THEM!
If you're not afraid of the word "fuck" and aren't bothered by mindless ranting, then feel free to proceed...
A major source of the new taxes are on bottled water, tobacco products, pop, candy, gum, and beer. I don't pretend to understand exactly what's going on with all this (exactly as our government wants it) but I'll do my best to comment anyway. From what I can tell, these taxes are on things that are supposedly "bad" for you or "luxuries"...
Look, I know that my genius-level IQ means that I tend to see things more clearly than a lot of people. But surely I am not the only person who looks at the Washington State government and wonders WHAT THE FUCK?!? None... NONE... of these tax hikes make any sense at all. You can dress it up as a "luxury tax" or a "sin tax" or whatever the fuck you want to call it, but the end result is that these have all been levied unfairly. Poison the water, but tax clean drinking water. Tax the most taxed products ever because less people are using them. Subsidize something bad for your health to make it cheaper, then tax people to buy it after the healthier competition has been slaughtered. Add taxes to a candy that has a cookie in it, but don't tax a cookie that has candies on it. THEN tax a beverage that makes all the other stupid shit bearable.
Again, I understand the need for taxes to help pay for the services we all enjoy... I'm not debating that.
But taxes need to MAKE SOME FUCKING SENSE for me to support them. When lawmakers just pass bullshit taxes because they're too fucking lazy to find logical solutions to balance the budget, it just tells me that these politicians need to get the fuck out of office to make room for creative thinkers who won't tax first, then think later.
And elections are just around the corner...
Posted on Wednesday, April 14th, 2010
Yesterday morning I awoke to discover that I had somehow gouged my right eyeball in the middle of the night. The most likely explanation is that my contact lens tore as I removed it, and a small piece got stuck in my eye. It was painful, yet not overbearingly so... a handful of ibuprofen managed to get me through the day.
Then this morning I awoke at 1:00am in searing pain. I'm assuming that I was rubbing my irritated eye in the middle of the night, worsening the injury. This time I took no chancres. I flushed it continuously with saline then looked in every nook and cranny with a flashlight. There was nothing there, but the damage had already been done. I was in agony as I stared at a computer screen while my eye was weeping all day long. It was uncomfortable to the extreme, and seemed to last an eternity.
But eventually I made my way home and took a break from computers for a while. That plus another handful of ibuprofen got the pain under control and I found my desire to live again.
UNTIL I WAS PULLING A STACK OF DVDs OFF THE SHELF JUST NOW AND HAD ONE SLIDE OFF AND STAB ME IN THE FACE... SCRATCHING THAT SAME EYEBALL... AGAIN!
And I thought I was in pain before.
I am fully of the opinion that any time you hurt a part of your body it becomes a frickin' magnet for further injury. Sprain your wrist, and you'll be bumping it all day long. Cut your finger, and you'll be smashing it in the door soon after. Get kicked in the balls and... well... you get the idea. I should have known better and worn my pirate eyepatch today, but I just wasn't that smart.
And so here I am, squinting through the tears trying to write today's blog entry.
Apparently I am in desperate need of dumbass warnings to protect me from myself...
I hate to be a whiner, BUT IT BURNS! IT BURNS SO BAD!
The only thing that could make this any worse would be if my headache came back...
SON - OF - A - BITCH!
Posted on Thursday, April 15th, 2010
Today was a much better day than yesterday, mostly because I didn't wake up screaming. And you know what they say... "any day you don't wake up screaming in agony is a good one!" Though, to be honest, I'd rather not be screaming in agony any time of day, so there's that. But anyway...
As anybody who has read this blog for a while already knows, I have a on-again-off-again fascination with the Catholic Church. I was raised Catholic, baptized, attended Sunday School, accepted First Communion, and formed a bond with the faith that would far outlast the day I eventually left the church.
This fascination manifests itself in my blog from time to time. Like when I toyed with the idea of becoming a priest...
And, of course, the many times I've mentioned wanting to become Pope...
Not to mention the time my entire year was made when I got a glimpse of Pope John Paul II while visiting Rome...
Oh how I loved Pope John
Partly because I still had friends and family who were members, but mostly because of the tremendous respect, admiration, and affection I had towards Pope John
But it's not always been good times. The above quote comes from an entry where I express my complete disgust with Pope
Which is why we have total fucking dumbasses who are "Vatican Officials" making statements defending pedophile priests by saying that it's the homosexuals who are the true pedophiles. And don't get me started on the idiocy of the Pope's own personal preacher comparing attacks on the Catholic Church during pedophile investigations to The Holocaust (even if it had come from an unnamed "Jewish friend"). It's all such disgusting and vile behavior that one has to wonder if my jokes about "initiating a hostile takeover of the papacy" shouldn't become a reality. Because, in all seriousness, it's not like anybody could possibly do a worse job that what's in there now.
I was very lucky that the two priests during my "tenure" with The Church were kind, honorable, decent men of conviction and service to their beliefs. They were inspirational leaders who were a part of the community, and a testament to the Christian faith. Which is why it's painful to read and hear all the horrendous things being written and said about the Catholic Church... even though they are things that must be addressed... one way or the other.
Meaning that if this Pope isn't going to step up and declare that pedophilia by any Catholic priest is to be denounced and punished to the full extent of the law... somebody has to step in and do it. Otherwise, there's just no way that the Catholic Church can be allowed to continue to operate above the law as they have been. If a self-policing entity doesn't address injustices against their people, they don't deserve to have such power. More to the point, they should't have it now.
One can only hope that the Catholic Church will eventually regain leadership which earns my regard instead of my contempt. Until that day, I am trying hard not to lose sight of Pope John
Posted on Friday, April 16th, 2010
For the most part, I stayed silent on the internets today out of solidarity for the National Day of Silence. After I posted my blog entry last night, that was the end until I got home from work.
For those not in the know, the National Day of Silence is where hundreds of thousands of students nationwide take a vow of silence to bring attention to bullying and harassment of gay, lesbian, bi and transexual students in their schools. After hearing first-hand about the horrors that students can face for simply being who they are, it's a cause I am compelled to support. It's tough enough to get through those awkward school years without facing such unbearable cruelty day-in and day-out...
In entirely different news, I found this photo I took while I was in Venice, and now I am a little obsessed with going back there...
Beautiful sunsets, great food, and a new Hard Rock Cafe. What more could you want?
Posted on Saturday, April 17th, 2010
Roger Ebert, one of the very few movie critics I respect, a writer I admire, and one of the most fascinating people on the planet, recently wrote a column on his blog stating Video Games Can Never Be Art. Since I've made artistic contributions to a couple of video games, I was tempted to dismiss the article outright. But it's Ebert, so I am compelled to consider his premise. Then Livvy Collette wrote a nice rebuttal that touched on why I can't agree with Ebert's conclusion: there's such a huge amount of creativity involved in crafting a good video game that they can't help but be art.
Which brings us to this immutable fact:
I love my Weighted Companion Cube from the video game Portal more than most people I meet.
Sure it's wacky, improbable, and borderline psychotic... but it's also inexplicably true.
Because not only is my Weighted Companion Cube just a "character" from a video game... it's also an inanimate object from a video game. Yet, the artists at Valve have created a fully realized environment so involving that it causes an emotional response from me towards it. And while I'll be the first to admit that this feeling is not as powerful as the one I get from looking at a painting like Starry Night or watching a film like Cinema Paradiso or reading a book like Jonathan Livingston Seagull or standing in a structure like St. Peter's Basilica... it's still the kind of reaction I get when exposed to a work of all-encompassing art.
Portal is also a lot of fun, which is just a bonus.
The thing that makes art so fascinating is that it is ever-changing and cannot be easily defined. Many of the things we know as "art" today would have been inconceivable a century ago. Or, if not inconceivable, certainly not defined as "art." I once went to a gallery installation where a room was fitted with video screens on the walls and electronic sensors in the floor. The sensors calculated the combined weight of all the people standing in the room, ran the data through a mathematical formula, then displayed beautiful graphics on the wall accordingly. If there were few people in the room, the graphics would be serene. As more people entered, the displays became more chaotic. I accepted the room as artistic expression, even though I had reservations as to the premise (the number of people is easily skewed... twenty small children register as fewer people, three NFL linebackers register as more). Everything in the room was created (albeit dynamically) to affect the senses, perhaps even provoke a reaction. Just like a video game.
Just like art.
And if technology keeps progressing, eventually virtual reality will involve people within the simulation creating art that only exists inside a computer. Thus making a video game out of life. The ultimate artistic expression.
In the end, no one person can define what is... or is not... art. That's because art is subjective and not quantifiable. Art is something you feel. Art is something you sense. Art is something you believe.
Art is in the eye of the beholder.
And lest you think that my opinion is flawed because of my admitted video game psychosis, I would be remiss not to disclose that my Weighted Companion Cube agrees with me completely.
Posted on Sunday, April 18th, 2010
Oops! I almost forgot about Bullet Sunday! It's been a very busy weekend.
• Volcanic? The eruption of Mt. Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland and subsequent blanketing of all Europe with ash has disrupted air travel on a massive scale... including mine. Everybody's schedule has been hopelessly screwed and their travel plans postponed indefinitely since nobody knows when the eruption will subside. Worst case scenario has the action intensifying, causing the nearby Katia volcano to erupt as well. If that happens, planes will make their decision to fly from day to day based on weather patterns, and nobody will be able to plan for anything. At the very worst, travel could be mostly trains and ships around Europe for a long while. On the other hand, this could all blow over tomorrow.
But no matter what happens, I am saddened by people saying things like "I hate Iceland" and "Iceland just ruined my vacation" or whatever. Even if the country of Iceland didn't exist, that volcano would still be there. So hate on the volcano, not the country it happens to be erupting on. It's no more Iceland's fault now than it was Washington State's fault when Mt. St. Helens erupted. I've been lucky enough to have visited Reykjavik, and found everybody there to be friendly and kind to visitors. Certainly they're not deserving of such ill-will for something that's not their fault. Besides, karma dictates it could be your country next.
• Good Beaver? Ever wonder what Lil' Dave would look like if I were Canadian? Wonder no longer...
Yes, things are gearing up for TequilaCon 2010 quite nicely. Just six more days...
• Airfix? For well over a decade I've been combing the internet looking for information on an artist named "Satori" who was responsible for some of my favorite album covers in the 80s. I first noticed them for the Thompson Twins' Into The Gap album, where they turned the band's logo into a map...
And of course there was that beautifully haunting cover for Dead or Alive's Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know with Pete Burns staring at you with those black-on-black eyes...
And of course there were those genius covers for a little band called Def Lepard...
This week "Satori" came up in an email conversation, and I Googled them just to see if anything new had popped up. Turns out that there has been something new... "Satori" was just a studio name for Andie Airfix. Not only does Andie now have a personal site where you can purchase some of his amazing work, BUT HE HAS AN AWESOME BLOG called "B*b G#ld*f Stole My Sunglasses?"
No joke... if you have even a passing interest in 80's music (or graphic design), you must visit Andie's blog. It's filled with genius stories featuring Grace Jones, Thompson Twins, Pete Burns, Def Lepard and more. I've read through his every entry twice and will undoubtedly read them all again. Great stuff.
Meh. I suppose I should probably try and get some sleep now. Who knows... one of these nights I might actually get lucky.
Posted on Monday, April 19th, 2010
About a half-dozen years ago I was at a horrible party filled with the most boring people imaginable. They were remote friends of my sometimes-girlfriend, and I tagged along because I didn't want to get yelled at. This was during the beginnings of the massive push to "go green" and every douchebag at the party was trying to "out-green" everybody else. This resulted in many lengthy conversations about compost, bio-fuels, recycling, and Birkenstocks... or so I would imagine... to be honest, I wasn't paying much attention and spent most of my time trying to get drunk on organic wine and eating my weight in Doritos with tahini dip. At some point there was a yelling argument over toxic-waste, but not a cool kind of argument (such as to who would win in a death-match between a mutant and a zombie).
It was as about as thrilling as a severe case of food poisoning, but without the fun of calling in sick at work (which is what happens when you try to get drunk on organic wine and eat your weight in Doritos with tahini dip).
Over the course of the 147 hours the party lasted, I somehow got involved in a conversation about bowel movements...
HIPPIE #1: The toxins building up in our feces is a leading cause of health problems.
HIPPIE #2: Yes, we should learn from the animals... a dog has two to three bowel movements a day!
HIPPIE #1: I wonder if there are any health benefits to a human having three bowel movements a day?
DAVE: I dunno. That sounds like a lot of crap to me! Ha! Ha! Haaaaa!
HIPPIE #2: !?!!
HIPPIE #1: !?!!
HIPPIE #2: So... are you thinking laxatives or a high-fiber diet supplemented with coconut or almond oil?
I don't know whether this was better or worse than the Whine People, but it definitely redefined my definition of "torture."
Anyway, flash-forward to today, and I somehow ended up in a conversation where THIS was the topic...
Chart Stolen from Wikipedia
Of course, my only contribution to the discussion was this...
DAVE: I dunno. That sounds like a lot of crap to me! Ha! Ha! Haaaaa!
Apparently I am the only one who has absolutely no desire to discuss this shit.
Ha! Ha! Haaaaa!
Posted on Tuesday, April 20th, 2010
Tonight on the news they used the word "sexting" without bothering to define it. The fact that such a word is so pervasive that it is assumed to be generally understood is bizarre to me. They then went on to a segment about how "experts" have declared "texting" to be an addictive behavior for teens, who send text-messages by the hundreds. Next up: "experts" declare water to be wet.
I'd blog about the insanity of it all, but I have to get back to making TequilaCon Attendance Merit Badges...
One. More. Day. To get everything together. As usual, I am so swamped with work that I'm hopelessly behind.
What is it like to be caught up with everything in your life?
It's been over a decade for me and I can't remember.
Posted on Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
It's Earth Day tomorrow! You should love the Earth for the day. As for me, I Love the Earth every day!
It's just most of the people on the Earth I don't love so much.
I totally love you.
Posted on Friday, April 23rd, 2010
This afternoon was a beautiful day for driving over to Seattle... until I actually got here. I thought that I could beat rush hour traffic, but somehow arrived right in the middle of it. By the time I had checked into the hotel and made my way to the mall, I was late for my movie date to go see Kick-Ass. Luckily(?) there were twenty minutes of commercials, previews, and other crap, so I didn't miss any of the film.
I liked the movie, and don't feel I should have to make any apologies for that. Even though I am sure there are plenty of people who probably think that I should apologize for enjoying a movie which features an 11-year-old girl with a foul mouth and a predilection for killing bad-guys in the most violent, bloody, horrifying, way possible.
But it's a movie.
Obviously if it were an 11-year-old girl actually murdering people for real, I'd feel different. But it wasn't and so I don't, because I can distinguish hard-core entertainment from real life.
Kick-Ass tells the story of Dave Lizewski, a geeky high-school comic book fan who decides to become a costumed crime-fighter named "Kick-Ass." Unfortunately, he doesn't have any training or fighting skills, so he spends most of his time getting the crap beat out of him. Repeatedly. Almost dying after his first "adventure."
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Mindy Macready, who has been trained since early childhood by her father to be a ruthless killing machine. Seeking revenge for Mindy's mother's death at the hand of organized crime, the duo become costumed crime-fighters known as Hit-Girl and Big Daddy (featuring one of Nicholas Cage's best performances ever!).
If there's a problem with the film, it's that I found Dave Lizewski's screen-time to be mostly boring. Probably because every single scene with Hit-Girl brutally mowing down criminals was awesome times 100. There's just no way that Kick-Ass can compete with her. She completely steals the movie, and it got to the point where I spent my time wishing I could fast-forward to her next appearance...
All in all, Kick-Ass was solid entertainment that tries to provide a "realistic" take on the super-hero genre film. Of course, it's nowhere near being actually realistic, but the portrayal tries to be. And I give them a solid "B" for the effort.
Posted on Friday, April 23rd, 2010
And away we go...
Wish us luck at the border. I am hoping that I don't have to submit to a full cavity search this time.
Posted on Saturday, April 24th, 2010
TequilaCon Day is here...
Posters from previous years are in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Sunday, April 25th, 2010
It's a very special TEQUILACON edition of Bullet Sunday!
• ISERT10. It all started on Friday when the TequilaCon Planning Posse met in Seattle for the drive up to this year's host city... VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA! Dubbed the International Shark Extreme Road Trip 2010 (ISERT10), it was a journey filled with wonder, good times, danger, and disappointment. The disappointment came when we realized that the Kentucky Fried Chicken DOUBLE-DOWN is illegal in Canada, and we'd miss our opportunity to feed one to Dustin so we could observe the health-deteriorating effects...
A double-cheese and bacon sandwich with fried chicken as the "bread" could only have come from the USA, and apparently Canada wants to keep it that way. After the thorough interrogation we got when crossing the border, I can't imagine the penalty afforded you if you were to attempt to smuggle a Double-Down into the country. Probably death. Or at least long-term imprisonment. Kind of like Brokedown Palace or Midnight Express... but with chicken.
• Apples. Tired from the trip up, we decided to hold off work until Saturday so we could engage in a new TequilaCon Planning Posse tradition... a game of Apples to Apples. This is, after all, how the term SHARK EXTREME was born (because when your word to judge is "Extreme" and you choose "Sharks" over "Hitler" as the most correct answer, you've pretty much laid down the law on extremeness... Jenny has the full story here). This year, I was faced with another Hitler dilemma...
This year I wasn't going to make the same mistake after somebody played The Hitler Card, but Jenny had to go and remind me of Windows Vista, so now we've added BILL GATES UNSCRUPULOUS to SHARK EXTREME in the TequilaCon slang dictionary. And, in a stranger note, Adolf Hitler just can't seem to win at Apples to Apples.
• Preparation. Saturday morning was spent prepping for the big event, with button-making being given priority over sightseeing. Sure it's a tough choice, but sometimes sacrifices must be made for the greater good...
• TEQUILACON! I don't even know what to say about this year's event. It was epic as usual. A truly wonderful bunch of people having massive amounts of fun in a wonderful welcoming atmosphere at a fantastic venue (many thanks to Jet and everybody else at Steamworks Brewing Co. who took such good care of us!). Things could only have been more perfect if Ryan Reynolds showed up with a box of TimBits and Nickelback(!) performed! There's a photo set building up on Flickr where tons of pictures will end up in a day or so, but here's just a few I took...
• SWAG! This year the SWAG (Stuff We All Get) game was elevated to an entirely new level. In addition to the bitchin' name-badge lanyards and souvenir buttons we usually get, Beth (of Copasetic Beth fame) created these amazing hats for all attendees...
Featuring the TequilaCon SHARK EXTREME logo, the hats look just incredible and added all new epicness to an already epic event. Thanks, Beth!
• Victoria. It's not really that easy to get to Victoria from Vancouver, even though technically they're pretty close. First you have a half-hour drive to the Tsawwassen Ferry Dock, a half-hour to buy tickets and load up, an hour-and-a-half to cross the Georgia Straight, and an hour bus-ride from the Swartz Bay Ferry Dock to downtown Victoria. With return, that's a seven-hour journey... it's kind of tough for a day-trip, but we decided to give it a shot because Victoria is a beautiful city and worth the effort...
It was a short trip, but a nice one...
And thus ends another TequilaCon. Until next year!
Posted on Monday, April 26th, 2010
=sigh= Back to reality.
I'm so very sad that TequilaCon is over, but ultimately happy beyond words at how amazing it was again this year. It makes me want to run out an buy lottery tickets, because I feel so lucky to have been able to attend. Thanks so much to everybody who took time out of their busy lives to join us... I hope that you had as much fun as we did!
The trip back to Seattle from Vancouver was blissfully uneventful, as we managed to cross the border with no problems. Even though we had been living out our newly-found Metalocalypse addiction and couldn't stop quoting the terrifying rock-n-roll clown Dr. Rockzo the entire way down...
I'd blog more about the trip, but I just got back from an incredible dinner with Jenny (at the fantastic Seattle institution known as Ray's Boathouse) and have had entirely too much wine to concentrate long enough to form coherent thoughts...
Beautiful photo taken from moohaha on Flickr.
And now I suppose that it's time that I get some sleep so I can return to Real Life in the morning.
Posted on Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
Schadenfreude, which is often translated in American English to mean "shameful joy," is a delicious German word used to describe a situation where somebody finds pleasure in the misfortune of others. In Buddhism this concept is kind of horrific, which is probably why their word Mudita or "joy" is often seen as Schadenfreude's polar opposite. Mudita is achieved by finding pleasure in the happiness and well-being of others. As somebody who strives to apply Buddhist ideals to everyday life, it's my goal to limit Schadenfreude as much as I can, while striving for Mudita whenever possible.
But sometimes you just can't help it.
Today as I was driving back from Seattle, I turned off I-90 at Cle-Elum so I could connect with Highway 97 and go home. These roads are single-lane, which can be frustrating. Because about ten minutes later, some asshole comes roaring up behind me and was grinding on my bumper even though I was over the speed limit by 5 miles per hour. Had I been under the speed limit, I'd understand his aggressive driving because I'd deserve it. But I wasn't, so his douchebaggery was uncalled for. My first reaction was to slam on my brakes and slow down so he'd back off... but he didn't. This just seemed to make him more anxious. Which just encouraged me to slow down even further, because I can be a total asshole too.
Eventually he got to a spot where he could pass me, and went zooming by at spectacular speed. After fuming with rage for a few minutes, I promptly forgot about the jerkwad because life is too short.
Until I ran across him 20 minutes later skidded off the road.
Bwah ha ha!
I would have stopped to offer help, but somebody with a truck already had. This was too bad, because I'd love to have been the one who pulled up and asked "Are you having some trouble?" And yet... even though in my head I would be laughing my ass off, I don't think that this could be considered the "shameful joy" of Schadenfreude because I really would have helped him out if I could. Maybe that would be considered "righteous joy" or "Gerechterfreude" if you will.
Anyway, not long after that hot mess, an oncoming car flashed their lights at me. This is usually a warning that a police car is up ahead laying a trap, and I should watch my speed. I definitely appreciated the warning (thanks, man!), but I was already fine because I've been trying really hard not to speed excessively. With budget cutbacks and such, the cops have been issuing a staggering number of tickets lately for even tiny infractions. I can only guess that this is to generate income and justify their not being laid off or something.
But it wasn't the police. It was four deer down by the road having lunch!
Deer make regular appearances here, so you always have to be careful, but I have never seen four of them together like that. I slowed down and gave them a wide berth in case one of them suddenly decided to bolt across the road, but they walked off into the bushes as I approached.
And there was my moment of Mudita... feeling joy that the deer wandered away unharmed and happy.
Most likely because karma ran that stupid asshole right off the road before he could come along and plow over them.
"Gerechterfreude" totally needs to be a word.
Posted on Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
What kind of total douchebag do you have to be to park your massive motorhome sideways across SIX individual parking spaces? Before you answer, I am compelled to mention that there is a huge lot with motorhome parking just across the street. But heaven forbid you should have to walk across the street when you can screw over SIX people so you can park wherever the hell you want to.
I know I shouldn't be shocked at the depths people will sink to make their lives more convenient at the expense of others, but this kind of blatant ass-hattery never ceases to amaze me. People just don't care. They don't care about other people, and they certainly don't care about what anybody else thinks of them. I'd imagine this is out of self-preservation, because if they cared about the things other people say when they're being a douche, they'd probably jump off a cliff. Far easier to just be a dickwad and not care, I guess.
And yet these people are undoubtedly the first to have a hissy fit when somebody else inconveniences them.
The maximum levels of hypocrisy, apathy, and overall douchebaggery this world can endure before we reach a tipping point is rapidly approaching. It's only a matter of time before somebody has had enough with people's bullshit, and takes matters into their own hands. They'll see some asshole parked across six parking spaces and just lose it. They'll then take a wad of explosives out of the back of their car that they've been saving for just such an occasion... and explode the ever-loving-shit out of that motorhome pile of crap. And then they'll dance around the smoldering remains while laughing their ass off.
I really hope that person doesn't end up being me.
Unless... isn't that kind of how Batman got started?
Posted on Thursday, April 29th, 2010
I spent most of this evening attempting to get my travel schedule straightened out. Things have been so messed up for so long that I didn't think it would ever come together... but it kind of did. Several trips are still up in the air (heh heh heh) but the most important ones have all been booked.
As always, I've tried my best to pencil in a day where I can get some dinner and hang out with my fellow bloggers. If there's one good thing to come out of being away from home so often, that would be it. So, if you're near a town I'll be in on any of these dates and feel like meeting up, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get in touch with you when I can figure out a good venue...
Sometime this summer I'm supposed to make trips to Los Angeles and possibly San Francisco... so I'll post those when I can fit them in. In the meanwhile, I'm tired of looking at airline ticket sites and need some sleep.
Posted on Friday, April 30th, 2010
Last night was when Adobe allowed their customers who purchased Creative Suite 5 to download it. Since I spend almost my entire day working in either Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign, this is a pretty monumental event that affects nearly all of my professional life... and a sizable chunk of my personal life too. All-in-all, they've added some amazing features that will make what I do a lot easier. But they've also made some mistakes of such astounding obviousness that it has me wondering if they bothered to beta-test the apps before release. Oh well. I guess you can't have it all.
Alas, the best new tools and hot new features are no substitute for creativity and good design.
All you have to do is watch television for an hour to see that.
Even with all the special effects and killer graphics available today, most television commercials are annoying crap that I can't wait to fast-forward through. But every once in a while a good commercial comes along that I actually want to watch. I dunno what it is about this latest 1-800-CONTACTS ad that strikes me funny, but it does...
It's as if companies are finally getting a clue that their commercials have to entertain if they expect people to want to watch them (especially in the age of DVRs). Sure there have always been great ads every once in a while, but they're really upping their game now. Like that great commercial from Old Spice... or those funny commercials from Ally Bank... or the amazing Betty White ad for Snickers... and now this one from 1-800-CONTACTS. All money well-spent.
Of course, we have a long ways to go before we can reach the awesomeness found in Japanese commercials...
And for those of you with the pizza toppings song permanently stuck in your head... you're welcome!
Posted on Saturday, May 1st, 2010
Okay then... I will be doing a triple backup of my laptop most of the evening in preparation for installing a bunch of software updates I've been holding off on. Hopefully nothing will go wrong but, given my luck earlier today, I am taking no chances.
I made copies of all my files before I left work yesterday because I wanted to work at home today. But when I actually sat down to get started this morning, I discovered that a critical component... THE FRICKIN' CABLE FOR MY WORK HARD DRIVE... was missing, and so I ran into town to get it. Of course I had to wait for a train on the way. Then I got to work and realized that I didn't have a key because I had removed it when valet-parking my car in Seattle. So I had to go back home to get my key. And of course I had to wait for another train on the way back to work. Couldn't find the cable at work, so came home to find that it had been in the bottom of my backpack all along. That's a half-hour of my life I'm never getting back.
Hence the backups.
And now before I get on with all that, I have one big questions...
WHY IN THE HELL IS BBC AMERICA AIRING "STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION-???"
Seriously. Why? It's not a British show. It's barely an imitation of an American show. I think of all the awesome material from the UK that BBC America could be airing, and I just want to punch somebody in the face. There are tonnes (heh) of ways to better spend that hour of programming 5 nights a week.
I'd kill to see episodes of Nevermind The Buzzcocks or Mock The Week (even in reruns!) but instead I get a 23-year-old show I've seen dozens of times. Hell, I'd settle for being able to buy Nevermind The Buzzcocks DVDs, but I don't get to do that either because they're region-encoded. Why won't some smart person at the BBC sell their fucking shows to iTunes here in the USA so that they could make money off them? Especially if BBC America is too damn stupid to air them, and is instead airing boring old American television now.
What a bunch of bloody wankers.
Posted on Sunday, May 2nd, 2010
It's a sweet Bullet Sunday at home as I blog in-between trips!
• Fault. Just how much more hardship is Louisiana supposed to endure? Hurricanes, floods, recession, and now an oil spill? I'm sure Pat Robertson must be positively orgasmic, seeing as how he has decided to speak on behalf of God and tell everybody it's New Orleans' fault. No word from the hate-mongering old fuck on what "God" says is the cause of the flooding in Nashville. My guess would be the 700 Club's Nashville office being located in the city, but far be it for me to speak on behalf of the Almighty. I'll leave that to douchebag televangelists.
• Funneh. When President Obama delivers a standup routine at the The White House Correspondent's Dinner that was funnier than Jay Leno's bit, it has me hoping he gets his own late-night talk show in seven years...
Though I must say my favorite part was when Obama took a moment to pay some words of respect to our troops. Quite a nice change from his predecessor.
• CS5. Color me completely shocked. After I finally managed to get Adobe Creative Suite 5 downloaded, everything else was gravy. Unlike every other installation of Creative Suite, there were NO issues this time. Installation was painless. Nothing got screwed up when I uninstalled the previous version. Everything just works. This is a pleasant change from when I installed CS4 and ended up having to reformat my hard drive and start over from scratch in order to get it working. TWICE. Thank you, Adobe...
• Merged. The latest casualty of airline consolidation? Continental Airlines, which is apparently merging with United. I used to love flying Continental when they were part of the SkyTeam Alliance because they had a direct flight into Cologne, but had to drop out when they left my mileage program. Now my worry is that the ever-decreasing competition amongst airlines is going to drive up prices. Tickets are already running much higher than I'm used to, and if things go much higher I'm going to have to drastically cut back on my travel.
• Bits. In case you missed it, my "Blogography Bits" leftovers blog had my reactions to the stolen iPhone drama, and Senseless Flash Injection, and crappy blog hosting hostility, and even a comic book meme this week.
And now I'm off to eat candy for dinner. But don't judge me for that... I had candy for lunch, so it's okay.
Posted on Monday, May 3rd, 2010
I tossed and turned all night, which I assumed was anxiety from the massive pile of work that awaited me this morning. This was a bit confusing, because every morning begins with a massive pile of work. There was no reason for today to be any different from other days.
And yet it was.
I was busy with a project when the email notification came. Not wanting to be disturbed while I was in the middle of things, I ignored it. Twenty minutes later, the world came crashing down as I finally read the email from a friend who was sharing some terrible news. This seems to be happening far too frequently now-a-days, so you'd think I'd be accustomed to it. People losing their jobs. People losing their homes. People losing their health. People losing their lives.
But of course you can never get used to these kinds of things. Not really. And this time it was particularly sad.
I think I must be at the point where I hurt for friends, family, and loved-ones more than I can hurt for myself. This is both terrifying and liberating to discover, though I don't know what to do with it.
Except more tossing and turning, I'm sure.
Posted on Tuesday, May 4th, 2010
It's only 9:00, but I'm already in bed. I feel that I've earned it seeing as how I woke up at 3:30am this morning to try and get caught up on work. The only problem is that A) I have a blog entry to write, and B) Somebody in the neighborhood is working on a construction project with hammers and power tools. As if that weren't enough, C) Today was an altogether bizarre day, which means my head is not is a place conducive to sleep.
I can break down the bizarre happenings as follows...
And now that hammering has finally stopped, so I guess it's time to try and get some sleep. Tomorrow is another very long day.
Posted on Wednesday, May 5th, 2010
Every once in a while don't you wish you could say "screw the rules" and do something quasi-insane just to break free from the mundane confines of everyday life? Stop the world and do something a little bit crazy so you can feel alive again? Not care what anybody else thinks and do something odd and disconcerting just for the heck of it? Ignore what you're supposed to do and instead do what you want to do?
Yeah, me neither.
Well, except for today.
Today that was all I could think about. Guess it's a good thing I'm flying away for the weekend.
Posted on Thursday, May 6th, 2010
Is there such a thing as "ass etiquette?"
If not, there really should be. Especially in this day and age of escalating passenger counts and increasingly limited personal space on planes. I am getting sick and tired of having people's asses in my face when I fly. It's as if people forget that they even have a stanky old ass in back, and are perfectly happy to ram it into people without a thought. Today was the absolute worst yet, as I ended up with more asses in my face than when I attended Madi Gras, and that's saying something.
From what I can tell, there are five problem areas...
• SEAT SCOOTERS!
These are the people who don't forget they have an ass... they just think that their ass is so small that they can move it through areas that they actually can't. Picture This: there I am sitting in my aisle seat when the woman next to me by the window gets up and says "let me scoot past you here!" and then proceeds to wedge her ass into my face as she makes a futile effort to work her way past my knees. Yes, I realize that it's an exit row... but I'm 6-foot-2, and it's just not going to happen. This results in my yelling "WAIT! I'LL MOVE! I'LL MOVE!!!" like a crazy person, as I scramble to unbuckle myself and get her denim-stained butt off of me. Not cool.
SOLUTION: Just ask the person blocking you to move if you need to get out. If it's a choice between having to get up or having to get ass in the face, I'm happy to move.
• AISLE TALKERS!
These are the morons who discover somebody they know on the flight, and decide that they simply MUST have an annoyingly lengthy conversation with them or else they'll fucking DIE. Unfortunately, the person they want to talk to is nowhere near their seat, so they have to stand in the aisle to talk to them. Now, this is annoying, but I have music on my iPhone, so I can drown out their stupid shit. What I can't drown out is their ass in my face, because they turn 90-degrees in the aisle to talk. This time it was particularly egregious, because the idiot decided to do bending and flexing exercises, planting his ass square into the side of my head. SO not cool.
SOLUTION: If you simply must talk to somebody from the aisle, stand in front of them with your ass pointed at the cockpit, not in the poor bastard's face across the aisle.
• KIDDIE WRANGLERS!
It's bad enough when people have to take their hyperactive brats on a flight, but it's a hundred times worse when they decide to bend over and hold their hands as they walk them up and down the aisles to keep them occupied... thus bumping their asses into every person unfortunate enough to sit in an aisle seat. NO we don't think it's adorable... we just want you to sit the fuck down and stop rubbing your asses on us! Do not want.
SOLUTION: Drug your kid, give them a bottle of whiskey, or buy them a Nintendo to play with... don't use the cabin as a Romper Room because you don't have the imagination to keep your hellspawn occupied in their seat.
• LUGGAGE OVERLOADERS!
These are the fucking pieces of shit that ignore the 1+1 rule, and decide to drag everything they fucking own down the narrow aisle to get to their seat in the back of the plane. ONE ITEM plus ONE PERSONAL ITEM does NOT mean a one suitcase plus one laptop case plus one purse plus one makeup kit plus one shopping bag plus one luggage roller plus one Kindle carrier plus one neck pillow plus one bag of takeout from McDonalds. THAT'S NINE FUCKING THINGS YOU DUMBASS MORON!! And you know how that person manages to get all that shit down the aisle? By laboriously shuffling and dragging it down the walkway, swinging their crap and their lazy asses into every aisle seat on the way down. How can you possibly watch your ass when you're having to juggle NINE pieces of shit? Well, considering they can't even count to TWO, the odds are overwhelmingly against them. Not only uncool, but incredibly douchey.
SOLUTION: Learn to fucking count and only bring the ONE fucking carry-on-sized bag and ONE fucking personal item that you're told you can bring on! That way you can pay attention to where your shit and, more importantly, your ass is ending up.
• ASS STICKERS!
These are the worst of the worst... people who inexplicably STICK THEIR ASSES IN YOUR FACE ON PURPOSE! I know it seems unbelievable, but I assure you they exist. Because some people's asses end up on you when there is absolutely NO earthly reason for them to be there. They either get some kind of perverse sexual thrill from sticking their asses where they don't belong... or just feel like being assholes with their assholes. Whatever the reason, they simply can't seem to resist putting their ass in your face. Beyond not cool and entering the realm of the ninth circle of hell.
SOLUTION: Seek therapy and don't fly. Ever.
I'm sure there are others, but these are the ones that happened to me today.
Now I should probably try to get some sleep... if I can keep from having horrible nightmares of random strangers sticking their disease-ridden asses in my face. Blergh.
Posted on Friday, May 7th, 2010
I've had several perfect days in New York City. It's not terribly difficult, because the entire world is at your feet the moment you arrive. But, in all the years I've been coming here, this is going to be the day to top.
It started with an evacuation at Times Square.
It ended with an amazing dream concert I've waited half a lifetime to see.
That concert would be a-ha's Ending on a High Note farewell tour. For better or worse, a-ha will forever be known as the "Take on Me Guys" here because they're pretty much a one-hit-wonder in the USA. Probably because most of their follow-up albums were never released here, which is a damn shame because they had some amazing music in the years that followed.
The show was, as expected, flawless. Morton Harket's stunning vocals were as good as ever as they tore through a catalog of the band's hits. Sure there were some tracks I wanted to hear that were left out, but if they had put in everything I wanted the concert would have lasted five hours.
Still, it was a brilliant performance, and made me sadder than ever that the band is breaking up...
Good bye and thanks, guys.
That's the last of my favorite 80's bands that I needed to see in concert*, so I guess my life is complete now.
Going back to the beginning, my day started in Times Square... just as they decided to evacuate it. A cooler was left at West 46th Street, and the police (wisely) decided it's better to be safe than sorry...
Things ended up being a false alarm, but it's comforting to know that the NYPD is taking no chances. I must have gotten a dozen tweets, emails, and texts from people saying things like "ARE YOU CRAZY?" and "BET YOU WISH YOU WEREN'T IN NEW YORK NOW!" or whatever. I ended up ignoring all of them because (no offense) I just don't give a crap. Travel is ALWAYS dangerous... and, yes, New York is probably more dangerous than other places I could go just this moment. But that's not going to stop me from coming back. If my options are to stop traveling to amazing places like this... or to sit in my house for the rest of my life and fret about how dangerous the world is... I'll take my chances out in the world. Because I'd rather die doing what I want to do than doing nothing at all.
Anyway, the weather was absolutely fantastic, so I scuttled my plans to visit galleries all afternoon and decided to instead just
What a great tour! Starting in the upper-left, that would be Grand Central Terminal, Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building, Radio City Music Hall, Times Square, The New York Times, FAO Schwartz, Apple Store Fifth Avenue, Madison Square Garden, New Yorker Hotel, Shake Shack, Flatiron Building, Central Park Carousel, Bethesda Terrace Landscape, The Loeb Boathouse, Bow Bridge, The High Line, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim Museum, and Yankee Stadium. Whew... that's a lot of New York City! And I actually walked most of that, only taking the subway four times when the walk would have killed me...
The final stop of my Gowalla Tour... the Shake Shack!
The last cool thing of my day was after I had dinner following the a-ha concert. Dozens of police cars and motorcycles lined up to zoom through Times Square. It was darn impressive, and a great way to end my evening...
And tomorrow is another day.
*Unless New Order decides to get back together and tour, in which case I have one more band to go.
Posted on Saturday, May 8th, 2010
What better way to spend my last night in New York City than to meet up with good friends for dinner? After a visit to Pinkberry... Dawg, Poppy, Robyn, and I took a look at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art then wandered around the Village for a while trying not to get blown off the sidewalks by gusting winds. I don't know if the wind was better or worse than the rain that was forecast, but it certainly made the little things... like walking... an adventure.
Eventually we all ended up at Cowgirl Hall of Fame where we met up with ETinNY for Dave York 3. It was also an opportunity to hand over ETinNY's winnings from his sponsorship of "Team Therapy In The Making" for Blogathon 2009. His prize was to name a topic for a custom DaveToon print, which was "Bad Monkey on the Empire State Building," and it turned out like this...
After dinner, we moved on to a bar for drinks before saying our goodnights. I may have flown to New York City for an a-ha concert, but getting to spend time with these fantastic people is what makes me want to stay.
Betty White on Saturday Night Live.
From the minute I heard that Betty would be hosting and it coincided with my trip, I've been trying everything I can to get tickets. I called in every favor. I wrote dozens of emails. I contacted everybody with even a hint of a possibility of helping me out with my Betty White fixation. All for not. Tickets were practically impossible for mere mortals with no connections to get. And people here in NYC had been lining up since Thursday for a chance at any extras that might be released. Betty was the ticket in town, and the huge popularity of musical guest Jay-Z assured that it would be nigh impossible...
So I made due watching it live in New York, where Betty White killed on the show. She was genius from start to finish. At first I thought the addition of Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon, and Tina Fey would be to lighten the load on Betty, and have her appear in less sketches. Not so! Betty appeared in every sketch plus the cold open, plus Weekend Update, plus an SNL Short. And at every turn, she stole the show... saving mediocre sketches from themselves, and elevating them to something that was actually funny! Genius. I sure hope she gets an Emmy for this, as she's certainly earned it.
For years I've been saying that every television show should feature a guest-appearance by Betty White because "everything's better with Betty" and she has totally proven it tonight. Congratulations to Betty White... and SNL for exploiting her genius to the max.
And now I will try to come down off the high of two fantastic days in New York City so I can get some sleep.
Like that's going to happen.
Posted on Sunday, May 9th, 2010
I'm making a futile effort to update my non-functional blog on Bullet Sunday! Nothing is more fun than coming back from a long trip and finding out that your blogging software refuses to publish entries!
• Bridge! After spending Friday visiting every "Featured Gowalla Spot" in Manhattan (and one in The Bronx). I noticed that there were only three spots left to claim in NYC... The Statue of Liberty, JFK International Airport, and The Brooklyn Bridge. Since the three times I've visited Lady Liberty are enough, and I had no intention of going all the way out to JFK, that left me looking at The Brooklyn Bridge badge. I hadn't walked the bridge in over a decade because I always just take the subway to get to Brooklyn. But it was a beautiful day and I had time to kill, so away I went...
It was a fantastic walk, and left me wondering why I don't make time cross the Brooklyn Bridge every time I'm in New York City.
• Brooklyn! One of the best reasons to cross the Brooklyn Bridge is to have pizza from Grimaldi's...
Alas, it's rough to visit the place when you're alone because they don't sell individual slices. I probably would have ordered an entire pizza just because it tastes so good, but I didn't have two hours to hang around waiting for them to open. Instead I just wandered around the pretty tree-lined streets for a while before heading back to Manhattan...
• Spot! One goal I had for myself was to create a Gowalla Spot while I was in New York, but most of the good ones have long-since been taken. I didn't want to just pick some random business I'd never go to, but instead was looking for something a little more interesting. I finally found it when I saw that a metal sculpture honoring the Brooklyn Bridge creators on the centennial of the bridge's opening...
You can see the spot I founded over at Gowalla.
• Bagel! I ate two bagels every morning I was in New York City. When I wasn't eating bagels, I was eating slices of pizza. As I sit here writing this, it has suddenly occurred to me that I won't have another decent bagel or pizza slice until the next time I end up in New York, which could be months (years?) away. Now I am filled with dread at the thought of eating my next "bagel," which will probably not be from NYC and taste like rubberized crap. It's sad, really.
• Wind! Just like yesterday, gusting winds were ripping through the city which made air travel a bit problematic. My flight was delayed four times before I had even made it to Newark, which was a very bad thing because I had a tight connection in Seattle to catch my flight home. Ultimately we "made time up in the air" and so I was able to get to my connecting gate with three minutes to spare. Sometimes you just get lucky. Well, I usually don't, but most people do.
I miss New York already.
I'd try and fix my blog so I can publish this, but it's past midnight and I have an early day.
Posted on Monday, May 10th, 2010
I am writing this entry knowing full well that I won't be able to publish it (just as I haven't been able to publish my Bullet Sunday entry from yesterday). It may seem insane, but if I get out of the habit of writing every day I'd probably stop blogging altogether. I'm a creature of habit that way.
All my attempts to fix Blogography have failed. I think something got seriously screwed up when I tried to update an entry during one of my web hosting company's many, many service failures. Now the entry is "stuck" somehow, and nothing works. My only option is to delete my blog, do a fresh installation of the software, and then import all my templates, entries and comments back into the system.
It's a little scary to realize I could end up losing seven years of my online life if things go terribly wrong.
In other news, Frank Frazetta, one of my favorite artists has died. Though many people may not recognize his name, it's certain they have been exposed to his work. As one of the gods of fantasy illustration, Frazetta has churned out countless works of originality and stunning beauty for everything from posters to book covers. I first became aware of his work from the covers he created for several Edgar Rice Burroughs novels, including the "John Carter of Mars" books...
Thanks to Mr. Frazetta for helping to fuel my imagination for so many years. Though lost to us now, his work will endure.
UPDATE! Thanks to kind suggestions from one of my readers, things are up and running again! Thanks, ManBearPig... whoever (or whatever) you may be!
Posted on Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
It should come as a shock to nobody that I'm writing up a review of the Betty White episode of Saturday Night Live which aired this past weekend. As a massive Betty fan for decades, it's an event too big to ignore. I actually wrote it as I watched from my New York City hotel room, but decided to wait on posting it until I could be sure people who recorded on their DVR had seen it.
In spoiler-free generalities, Betty exceeded my every expectation and turned in a performance so amazing that it's set a new benchmark in greatness for every guest host that comes after (I feel badly for Alec Baldwin having to follow her in this week's season finale). She was funny, timely, genuine, and showed the world exactly how it should be done.
The overwhelming praise for the show by just about everybody on the entire internet is sweet validation that her appeal is universal, and not just something fans like me are blinded to. And while I am sure there are people who didn't care for Betty ditching her innocent and naive "Golden Girl" character for a much edgier turn, I think most everybody can agree that her comedy skills are above reproach. Any time I've found somebody critical of Betty's hosting duties, they either have no knowledge of Betty or are ignorant of Saturday Night Live's history. And since I won't have any of that ugliness tarnishing Blogography, I've addressed that in my "Blogography Bits" Tumblr Blog (warning... naughty language ensues!).
For those who still haven't seen the show and live here in the USA, you might check and see if it's still available on hulu... or you can buy a butchered version from iTunes. If you live outside the USA... well, I'm sure you can get it wherever you usually get your American television shows (sorry stupid-ass network licensing is screwing that up for you!).
So... if you have watched the show and want a run-down of my thoughts, I've put that in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Wednesday, May 12th, 2010
You know when there's something you really want
But you know you can never have it
So you do everything you can to put it out of your head
But deep down you still want it
And the thought of it burns in your brain so you can't think
And the ache of it sits heavy in your heart so you can't feel
And the longing of it crushes your chest so you can't breathe
But there's nothing you can do to make it go away
So it consumes your every waking thought
And it envelopes your every sleeping dream
It becomes your life
But to acknowledge that would destroy you
So you tell yourself that you don't really want it after all
When you know that you really do
But you can't
So you won't
But you do
You allow yourself to hope
And every day you feel a little more lost because the hope keeps slipping away
And one day you wake up and don't know who you are because the hope has gone
And then you find yourself lost, confused, and alone
But still wanting?
I knew I should have bought that Statue of Liberty Brass Coat Rack when I was in New York.
Posted on Thursday, May 13th, 2010
Shortly after Catherine sent me a link to "The Best Thing I've Read All Year"... a smart, heartfelt, touching, and altogether righteous letter written by a mother whose son tried to commit suicide because of the not-stop persecution he faced for being gay, I read the Pope's recent remarks from Portugal.
I've pretty much said my peace on Pope Benedict XVI in a previous entry. Long story short? He's systematically destroying the Catholic Church from within, and has been unapologetically crapping over the legacy of Pope John-Paul II from the moment he ascended to the papacy.
But His Holiness has decided that he's not satisfied with being a hateful old hag in a dress and a big hat... he seems fully intent on bringing douchebaggery to the papacy at any cost... this time by saying that abortion and same-sex marriage are the "most insidious and dangerous challenges that today confront the common good."
Now, I guess I can see abortion fitting that mold within the dogma of the Catholic Church. I may not agree with it, but I understand it. But same-sex marriage... insidious?!?
insidious • in-ˈsi-dē-əs • subtle, surreptitious, cunning, crafty, treacherous, artful, sly, wily, shifty, underhanded, indirect; informal sneaky.
Pope Benedict isn't just a douchebag... he's a fucking dumbass.
Rapists, murderers, child molesters, liars, cheats, and other vile persons infesting this planet get a pass so the Pope can pronounce judgement and fully condemn two people in love wanting to get married as the "most insidious and dangerous challenges that today confront the common good."
You want to know what's insidious? A religious leader fostering fear and hatred against innocent people, thus creating an environment so horribly hostile that people would rather die than live in it.
Well fuck this shit.
The Pope doesn't get to dictate that we live in an antiquated world of intolerance and animosity. We're better than that.
Posted on Friday, May 14th, 2010
Today would have been one of my best friend's 50th birthday had he not passed away nine years ago. I try to think of what crazy thing I might have done to celebrate the occasion had he lived to see it, but I am drawing a complete blank. Probably because I don't care about a birthday party... I just want him back. People say that you miss a person less and less as time goes on, but that certainly hasn't been the case here. There are just too many reminders.
He loved Dr. Who, so any time an episode airs, he's there. He never got to see any of the "new" series that began in 2005, and so I can't help but wonder what he would think. Enjoying Dr. Who is mostly impossible for me, as it's the most frequent painful reminder that he's gone. But it's not just Dr. Who. As a fellow sci-fi geek, he was often the first person I'd turn to when some new sci-fi television show or movie debuted. The crappy Star Wars prequels were made even worse because my friend wasn't there to laugh with me over the heinousness of it all. It works both ways, I suppose. He was around to experience the sheer brilliance of The Matrix for which I am eternally thankful... but he was spared from the awful sequels which destroyed the franchise for me. Small consolation, to be sure, but when your best friend is gone, I guess you have to cling to whatever small blessings you can find.
And then there's Star Trek.
The wonderful re-imagining by J.J. Abrams last year was truly bittersweet. Yes I loved the movie. But enjoying it was impossible. Both my friend and I were massive fans. We went to at least a dozen Star Trek conventions together over the years. We met all the primary (and many not-so-primary) castmembers of "The Original Series" and "The Next Generation" series and collected their autographs. We talked about the shows for hours. Star Trek was such an hugely important diversion for the both of us that it's unthinkable that I could ever see anything even remotely Trek-related without my best friend haunting me. The sheer number of great memories I have from our wacky adventures at Trek conventions alone could fill a book. I've been so sorely tempted to share some stories from those days on my blog, but I can never bring myself to do it. It would be like giving away a part of him, and I'm entirely too selfish to do that. Memories are all I have now, and they've become like some closely-guarded secret that I never want to share. A part of me hopes I change my mind one day, because there are tales entirely too good not to share. I guess we'll see if I get less selfish in my old age. Somehow I doubt it.
Our shared sci-fi infatuation also treaded into literary diversions. We attended numerous book signings and author readings together for writers such as William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Douglas Adams, and many others. This is something for which I owe him a tremendous debt, because I'm certain I would have never attended these on my own. I look back on my life and remember such incredible moments as hearing Douglas Adams read from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or Clive Barker discussing the thinking behind his own personal favorite novel, Imajica, and wonder what memories I have that could possible replace them. There aren't any. Those moments... those shared moments... are priceless. And I owe them entirely to my friend.
If there was one area we had =zero= overlap, it would be music. His favorite musical artist was Tori Amos. I've never understood it. Even after he dragged me to one of her concerts I was left unimpressed. No doubt she is a truly gifted songwriter and performer, but her stuff just isn't for me. He, of course, had no interest in my 80's New Wave music addiction. New releases by bands like Depeche Mode and The Thompson Twins that would put me over the moon for weeks were just something for him to laugh at. I remember when Depeche Mode's Ultra was released we were in Seattle, so I picked it up. When we got back to his place, I was so excited to listen to the album that I couldn't hop in my car and drive home to listen to it... I had to listen to it now and popped it into his CD player. The minute Barrel of a Gun started thumping through the speakers, his reaction was to pick up his cat, cover her ears, and say "It's okay... it will all be over soon." Insulting my favorite band like that would have been unforgivable if it weren't so damn funny. Whenever I hear a song from Ultra I just picture his cat looking completely puzzled as my friends hands covered the side of her head. I love the memory almost more than the music.
Television, books, movies, sci-fi, comics, and all the geeky crap that went with them were an integral part of what kept us friends for so long. But they were all incidental to the one thing that brought us together... computers.
My friend ran a local computer bulletin board system (BBS) where other computer geeks could dial in with their telephone modems to send messages to each other and share information. It was a crude (very crude) precursor to equivalent services that would later become commonplace on the internet, but that was all we had. Every once in a while users from the various local BBSs would assemble in Real Life for a "Pizza Bash" where many friendships ended up forming. Including ours. Despite different platforms (I was Atari, he was Amiga) the wild computer frontier was an adventure we shared until the day he died (though it was a lot less "wild" in later years).
I don't have a single computer-related memory worth remembering that doesn't have my friend in it. Even when I didn't know who he was, and a "personal computer" was just something freaky and new at the high school library to goof around with, he was there. And, as he was six years ahead of me in school, that's quite a feat. Turns out he helped the local computer shop install/maintain/repair the school computers from time to time. And so he was there from the beginning for me (he was also there when we got to meet Kiki Stockhammer and Wil Wheaton during a NewTek Video Toaster workshop, but that's another story).
The great equalizer between us in the computer platform wars was the Macintosh. I bought a Mac so I could use Photoshop with the pricy scanner I had just purchased. I was instantly smitten, and my loyalty to Atari computers vanished overnight (an Apple Whore was born!). My friend remained a steadfast Amiga user, despite my constant pressure for him to switch.
Myst was a revolutionary (for the time) graphical adventure game released in late 1993. More than a game, it was an all-absorbing work of art. There was nothing else really like it, and it ran only on Macintosh computers with a CD-ROM. I bought the game because somebody had recommended it to me, but never actually played it until weeks later. The minute I finally started the game, I called my friend at work and told him "YOU HAVE TO COME SEE THIS!!" So he ditched work and came over... then spent the next ten hours hunched over the computer with me playing it until the wee hours. He bought a Mac for himself the next day. That's a bond which can't be broken.
After he had become a Mac convert, my friend dragged out this awesome Macintosh "Picasso Logo" promo-light he had gotten from a local computer shop that was tossing it out. The light was absolutely beautiful and very rare. Mac Whore that I am, I of course wanted it. I coveted that thing every single time I saw it and joked with him once about stealing it. He just laughed that laugh of his and said "Well, you can have it when I'm dead!" For years after, I would joke about plotting his demise so the light would be mine at last. "It's worth risking a manslaughter prison term, you know," I'd say...
Photo taken from RedLightRunner
For the past nine years it's been agony every time some cool new technology is released and my friend isn't here to share it with me. Mac OS X was released the day before he died. The iPod came seven months later. When the iPhone was released I was depressed for days because it was Star Trek come to life and the first call I wanted to make on it was to my friend. How can I miss him less and less over the years when technology is all about being more and more? There's always something new coming out. He's always the person I want to talk about it with (Myst is available on the iPhone now, for heavens sake!). And that never fades. It never goes away.
March 24th, 2001 I was in Seattle celebrating my birthday with my sister and friends in Seattle. The next day as I was recovering from the drunken debauchery of the previous night, I got a phone call from my mother telling me I needed to call my friend's wife. But I didn't need to call. It's one of those moments you "just know" something terrible has happened and you're about to make a call that changes everything. But I did call his wife. And it did change everything. My best friend of the past sixteen years was gone.
After the funeral, my friend's wife and mother generously invited me over to see if there was anything I wanted to have as a reminder of him. And while there was a lot of stuff of his I'd have loved to own, there wasn't a single bit of it that I wanted. No "thing" could ever take his place. No piece of "stuff" would make me miss my friend any less.
So I politely refused.
After I took the Macintosh Picasso Logo Light, of course.
The bastard would have been furious with me if I hadn't.
Happy 50th birthday, Howard. I love and miss you every day.
Posted on Saturday, May 15th, 2010
My burrito just asploded in the microwave.
It seems like a good enough reason to reevaluate my life.
And so I'm sitting here trying to type up self-analytical prose while eating my blowed-up burrito dinner and watching The Godfather:
Which would be great, because how awesome would it be to get to watch The Godfather for the first time again?
And now... dessert!
Tonight's dessert will consist of a giant spoonful of Betty Crocker vanilla frosting...
Needless to say, I'm giving me high marks on my life reevaluation.
Posted on Sunday, May 16th, 2010
It's... a righteous Bullet Sunday!
Righteous Cock! I've mostly ignored the whole Dr. George Rekers gay sex scandal because, honestly, what's the point? Yet another gay-hating public figure has been caught with his penis in a place he's advocated it doesn't belong... am I supposed to be shocked? As I've said the last couple times this has happened, I just automatically assume that anybody who would spend most of their time fighting so hard against "teh gay" is most likely a big ol' cock-loving hypocrite. Religious leaders. Politicians. Christian ministers who say homosexuality is a mental disorder to be cured. It's all the same. But I got a comment asking me to add Rekers to the list, so here he is...
Dr. George Rekers Wants Cock!
Senator Roy Ashburn Wants Cock!
Reverend Ted Haggard Wants Cock!
• Righteous Bitch! The DutchBitch now has a logo poster for
If you're going to be in the vicinity of der Netherlands that weekend, let The DutchBitch know so she can pencil you in the guest-list! There will be more good times and pooferflargen than you can shake a poofenwafel at!
• Righteous Anger! Yesterday on Facebook I updated my status with this...
"Holy crap. The only reason I would give a shit about Elena Kagan's sexuality would be if I wanted to bone her. And, since I really, really don't... why should I give a flying fuck whether she prefers sausage or taco? Why should anybody? I'm more curious about the sexuality of all these people that are constantly bringing it up... do THEY want to bone her?"
This got me an interesting message this morning, telling me that people have a right to know anything they want about the Supreme Court Justices who make the laws that govern us. That's a very good point. And so I have a few questions that need to be answered by the current Supreme Court...
How often do you masturbate?
Can you describe
your gay fantasies?
Have you ever
had anal sex?
What is the length of
your erect penis?
Got any sex fetishes
What's your favorite
Are you a spitter
or do you swallow?
Are you a spitter
or do you swallow?
Did that "pube on a
Coke" line ever work?
• Righteous Birthday! Tracy asked me to make a birthday wish for her friend Grant, who likes "Asian Bunnies." Since I owe Tracy a debt bigger than my bank account, I agreed and came up with a "Dave Bunny" drawn manga-style...
• Righteous Victory! There was a time that I valued the work of the American Civil Liberties Union for their efforts in defending the Constitutional rights of American citizens. Sure they did some crazy-ass crap that I disagreed with, but their overall mission was something I could get behind. Until they attacked my local library. I wrote about their outrageously stupid lawsuit over three years ago. To sum up... the local libraries in rural Washington State installed computers so that people without internet access can get it. Because most of these libraries are tiny little buildings with barely enough room for a computer in the first place... the library had to install filtering software so that children using the computers or kids wandering by web-surfing adults wouldn't be illegally exposed to porn or other mature subject matter...
Of course, no filtering software is perfect... sometimes the library has to manually unblock sites that have been wrongfully blocked... or try some other way to accommodate valid (i.e. non-porn) requests. It's not a perfect system, but the libraries are doing their best. But that wasn't good enough for the ACLU. Apparently they feel that people should be able to do whatever crazy shit they want on a library computer since it's funded by tax dollars. So to assure the public's much-needed access to sexytime, the ACLU sued the North Central Regional Library System. Because hey, life, liberty, and the pursuit of internet porn is what our founding fathers fought and died for, right?
Well, after years of litigation, the library finally won their case. Small libraries can keep filtering on their computers so kids don't get exposed to adult material and the library doesn't get sued for child endangerment. And even though the libraries themselves know it's not a great solution, it's a compromise they are trying their best to deal with. So congratulations to my local library! And fuck the ACLU for being total dumbasses that sue those who are just trying to help as many people as they can the best way they know how. Fuck you up your stupid, self-righteous, disgusting asses.
And now... a busy week lays ahead. Time to get to work!
Posted on Monday, May 17th, 2010
Last night I got a call from an old girlfriend that I had dated briefly sometime during the Clinton years. She opened the conversation by first telling me I was a difficult guy to track down, then secondly telling me that she's getting married. This was bizarre for two reasons... 1) I am living at the same place and working at the same job and am pretty sure I have the same mobile phone number as I did back when we were dating... and 2) It makes no sense that she'd be calling a guy she dated for five minutes a decade ago to share wedding plans.
Yeah. She wants me to photograph her wedding AND design her invitations. As a friend.
I thanked her for the lovely opportunity, then explained that... 1) I'm not a professional photographer so I wouldn't be comfortable with the responsibility of documenting her wedding... and 2) I don't have time to design anything right now because my work schedule is packed for the next six months.
This was not something I had planned to blog about, but I've spent most of my day questioning the whole conversation and just don't give a crap who sees this. Because I really gotta know...
Am I the only one who thinks that this is the tackiest phone call ever?
It's like "HEY! I KNOW I HAVEN'T SPOKEN TO YOU IN TEN YEARS AND BARELY KNOW YOU AND WE'RE NOT REALLY FRIENDS... BUT I AM GOING TO ASK YOU FOR A HUGE FAVOR AS A "FRIEND" ANYWAY BECAUSE I DON'T FEEL I SHOULD HAVE TO PAY FOR SOMETHING THAT I CAN GET YOU TO DO FOR FREE, HA HA HA HA HA!"
Because, honestly, I just don't get it.
As a guy, I've been taken advantage of by women all my life. But usually it's because there's a faint hope that there will be something in it for me. But in THIS case... SHE'S GETTING MARRIED!
TO A GUY THAT'S NOT ME!!!
What's in it for me this time? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! I guess I'm just supposed to do all this out of the goodness of my own heart for old-time's sake? For somebody I barely remember? Really?
I guess I'm just an insensitive bastard.
One or the other.
Posted on Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
Thirty years ago, Mt. St. Helens erupted, spewing ash all over the Pacific Northwest. And even though there's a mountain range and 200 miles between the eruption site and where I live, we still got blasted. I remember the eruption in the news quite well. I remember scooping ash out of the yard. I remember rain making a big ol' pasty mess on the lawn. But what do I remember most of all?
The Doomsday Clock.
At the time of the ash-plosion, some wacky scientist guy went on television to warn the world that the eruption of Mt. St. Helens was a mere warm-up to other eruptions far more disastrous. Including the Yellowstone Caldera SUPERVOLCANO!
Well, they didn't actually use the term "supervolcano" back then, but the concept is the same...
Sitting under Yellowstone National Park is a mind-bogglingly massive lake of magma that's under enormous pressure. Many geologists say that it is now overdue to erupt. And once it does, there will be devastation unlike the world has seen in hundreds of thousands of years. In addition to the vast amounts of ash released, the lava dome will collapse into itself, spewing lava for hundreds of miles and initiating killer eartquakes that would ravage the Western United States. Anybody within 200 miles of the caldera would die immediately. Those within 600 miles would be suffocated to death by the ash plume.
But it gets worse.
The amount of material released into the atmosphere by a supervolcano would cause a "volcanic winter" that would affect the entire world. Scientists generously estimate that 90% of the human race would not survive it. And those that do will have an unimaginably difficult existence plagued by famine and disease. I feel "lucky" that I'm living in the kill zone, because sudden death seems the best-case scenario here.
Hence "The Doomsday Clock," because it's not a matter of if but when Yellowstone blows.
Granted, that might not be for a 100,000 years yet, but it was so much more dramatic for the wacky scientist guy on television to insinuate that it was just around the corner.
Which it could be.
Anyway... Happy anniversary Mt. St. Helens!!
Posted on Wednesday, May 19th, 2010
This morning I was awakened by crippling leg cramps. They were so severe that even after they subsided, I was in excruciating pain. Just walking was an exercise in agony. With no other option, I took some industrial-strength pain-killers and spent most of the day in a drug-induced haze. Sure my work productivity took a hit, but there are certainly worse ways you can spend your time. Like screaming your head off because your legs are wracked with stabbing pain.
So tonight I have the unenviable task of trying to catch up with all the work I couldn't do during the day. It's difficult, because I've got a lot of television stacked up on my DVR that needs to be watched.
Alas, I only managed to find time to watch the season finale of The Middle because Betty White had a guest spot...
To the surprise of nobody, she was brilliant as usual.
This time Betty played "Mrs. Nethercott," a school librarian who has a mean streak when it comes to Brick (the Heck's youngest child), who has checked out 31 books that he hasn't returned. Mrs. Nethercott is threatening to have him held back in the 2nd Grade until he returns all of them, thus begins Brick's quest to find the books and make it to the 3rd Grade.
The show is usually pretty funny, but Betty definitely kicks it up a notch.
Now I guess I really should get back to work.
But first... PIZZA!!
Posted on Thursday, May 20th, 2010
You would think that I'd be indifferent to packing a suitcase by now. I pack suitcases all year long, and have been doing so for almost two decades. On top of that, I have packing down to a science, with dozens of items pre-packed and ready to go. I can get ready for a trip of most any length in minutes if I have to (it happens). But none of this matters, because whenever I have to pack a suitcase, I go into fits of dread and loathing. I hate packing.
And it doesn't matter if I'm getting ready for an awesome vacation either. Nothing can make me happy about packing.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go pack my f#@&ing suitcase...
Posted on Friday, May 21st, 2010
The Hilton SeaTac Airport charges $14.95 for internet. I guess I can post this tomorrow, because Hilton can suck it.
Today is a day where the entire internet is celebrating a movie so astoundingly brilliant... so wonderfully imaginative... so monumentally game-changing... so vastly superior to everything that came before... that it redefines what cinema entertainment means.
I am talking, of course, about MacGruber, from which I just returned.
This was the film I was most looking forward to this summer, and it did not disappoint. It was funny and action-packed from start to finish. Kudos to Will Forte and Kristen Wiig for their fantastic performances, and welcome back to comedy Val Kilmer! Of course, I like MacGruber on Saturday Night Live, so I'm probably biased.
Coincidentally, today is also the 30th anniversary of one of my favorite films of all time: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back...
I never saw the original Star Wars in an actual theater until the re-release in 1978. Instead I saw it at a drive-in with some neighbor kids. I, of course, loved the film and became obsessed with it in whatever ways were available to be obsessed with it back then. You couldn't buy VHS tapes until later, but you could buy outrageously expensive snippets on 8mm film. And then there were the books, magazines, posters, and all the other crap an 11-year-old simply must have or else they'll die.
By the time Empire was released in 1980, my Star Wars mania was at a fever pitch. The idea of seeing the sequel on opening day was too much to resist, so a friend and I got dropped off at the theater so we could wait in line for entirely too long and be among the first to see it. The time spent was, obviously, worth it. The Empire Strikes Back is easily one of the best films ever created, and holds up on all counts to this day. As a movie, that alone is remarkable... but a science fiction movie?!? Magic.
If I was obsessed with Star Wars, I became positively stupid-insane over Empire. It pushed the Star Wars envelope in all directions, and has some of the best dialogue quotes ever to hit the silver screen in ANY genre (I can only guess that this is because George Lucas didn't write or direct it... if only we were so lucky with the prequels). My imagination wasn't just captured by all the amazing things the film offered up, it was blown away never to return.
Once you here those immortal words... "Luke, I am your father" you don't have much choice but to be blown away. Screw The Sixth Sense, THIS is the ultimate twist ending in modern cinematic history.
Even though I was eventually let down by the follow-up effort, Return of the Jedi, my spirit was never dampened. Empire was simply too good to ever die. Toss in all the Ewoks, fart jokes, and other stupid crap you want, it doesn't matter. Once you've learned the ways of The Force from Yoda, there can be no turning back.
Star Wars is in your heart and mind forever.
I know it is in mine.
Posted on Saturday, May 22nd, 2010
I don't know why, but I'd just as soon not have banjo music with my dinner...
Even so, it's pretty hard to ruin a good macaroni & cheese.
Posted on Sunday, May 23rd, 2010
Bullet Sunday from Chicago! It's a good place to be!
• Lost. When the television phenomena known as Lost debuted, I was a serious fan. I obsessed over the show and was lauding it as "genius" with each new incredible revelation and juicy mystery. It was everything I loved about television come to life. But then, somewhere in the middle of Season 2, I slowly began to realize that the the show was all smoke and mirrors with no substance whatsoever. It was nothing but mystery on top of mystery, and the writers were quickly building a house of bullshit from which the show would never escape. They just kept piling on "cool stuff" until NO resolution would ever be worth it. So I gave up the show. Every once in a while I'd tune in because people would tell me how awesome it was getting, but all I ever saw was more shit being dropped on a big box of bullshit...
And so tonight, after a lovely dinner out in the 'burbs, I got back to my hotel where the final episode of Lost was nearly over. So I decided to watch. I decided that if I liked what I saw, I'd admit I was wrong all along and go back and watch everything I missed.
Except I wasn't wrong. In my humble opinion, it was the single biggest wimpy cop-out bullshit of an ending the writers could have possibly come up with. It just validated my belief that they really didn't know what the hell they were doing, which is why they kept adding "cool shit" to distract everybody and keep the audience watching. That would have been fine, except you have to be able to really deliver at the end. And they didn't. So when I hear how show-runners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse imply that they knew what was going on all along, I think they're either A) LYING, and just slapped on some lame shit that "explains" nothing and everything at the same time... or, B) THE WORST WRITERS EVER that they think THIS was a worthy end to a six-year investment of people's time. I'm not saying that every detail had to be wrapped up and explained at the end, I'm just saying that, ultimately, the end has to be a satisfying conclusion to everything leading up to it, and I didn't see that.
Whatever the case, I thank heavens I never wasted any more time with the show than I did.
And yet, if there are fans who loved the show and felt the ending was perfect... more power to you! Not everybody has to like the same things, and so congratulations on getting what you wanted out of Lost.
• Grey's. If there's one guilty pleasure of mine to be found on television that's NOT Lost, it would be Grey's Anatomy. Overall, despite some very notable set-backs and other stupidity (e.g. Dead Denny), I find it to be highly entertaining. Somehow, the writers are always managing to come up with these clever twists and interesting stories that keeps moving everything forward.
Except for the season finale last week, which was a total load of crap. What kills me is that the premise was outstanding. Genius, even. But then the writers got lazy and stupid and just decided to fill time with scene after scene of characters going into needless fits of hysteria. It was enough to make me want to bitch-slap half the cast through my television. Maybe two hours was too much time to fill... I just don't know... but by the time they finally got to the end, I was to the point where I never wanted to watch the show ever again. Not exactly the best way to wrap-up a season.
• Kinda. This afternoon I was lucky enough to have RW (of 1 Step Beyond fame) invite me out for his own recipe "Kinda Mediterranean Pizza" with him and Mrs. RW...
Just as he claimed when he published the recipe, it was fucking delicious. I think the secret must be his homemade Carrettiera Sauce, because it adds a lot of flavor while managing to keep things light and fresh (which makes me wonder how many other ways it could be used). Most definitely worth your time to make... especially since he has a step-by-step guide free for the taking.
You'd think that hanging out drinking beer and talking with friends on a beautiful Chicago day would be enough... but RW had to go and make awesome pizza too. The bastard. How can I in good conscience order out from Dominoes when I have friends over? I can't! From now on I'm going to have to go to the extra effort to buy frozen pizza and pretend like I made it! Thanks a heap, RW!
• Interview. Many thanks to Troy of Blue Goo Ate My Mom fame for giving me a heads-up to the great interview with a-ha posted over at CBC's Q Uncut. It's well worth a listen, even if you never heard of the band after Take on Me disappeared from the airwaves. They went on to a lot of great music, and the interview helps North Americans get "caught up" with all the things we missed...
Though Minor Earth Major Sky is probably my favorite a-ha album, their latest (and last) album Foot of the Mountain is exceptional, and harkens back to the sound that made them famous. Sadly, stupid-ass record labels have tied up the distribution rights so you can't buy the album in the USA unless you pay for an import, but a good (but incomplete) "singles" collection is for sale on iTunes.
And now, I suppose it's time to get some work done. What else is there to do on a Sunday night?
Posted on Monday, May 24th, 2010
How did I spend this absolutely awesome day in Chicago? A day filled with sunshine, blue skies, and unicorns running through the streets spreading laughter and magic wherever they go?
Mostly inside working.
Sure it sucks, but I did get to go to Huey's for a veggie dog, so there's that...
After I had more fun at work than I could possibly stand, a couple friends and I went out to dinner where I ate too much food I don't remember and several shots of Jägermeister that I can't remember. Then everybody wanted to go see Robin Hood at the movies but I was too wiped out so I went back to my hotel to relax.
Until I got called out for beer and pretzels.
Now I've returned to my hotel again so I can pass out from excessive alcohol and food consumption. On the way back, I stopped for a jug of milk, thinking that I had once heard it will coat your stomach and reduce the amount of alcohol your body absorbs. But then I remembered you are supposed to have the milk before you drink, so I decided to consult ASK DAVE! to see what I should do. He thought it was a good idea ("OH YEAH!") so Milk Chug it was. I wanted to know if I'd end up puking my guts out by mixing milk, Jägermeister, and beer, but ASK DAVE! just said "ASK ME LATER!" which is probably not a good thing...
I'll be sure to update this entry if I hurl up an offering to the porcelain god tonight. Heaven only knows this kind of useful information needs to be Googleable for future generations.
Posted on Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
The highlight of my day was watching Jenny eat chocolate-covered bugs.
I would have totally eaten chocolate-covered bugs too, but I'm a vegetarian.*
*Honestly, if I wasn't a vegetarian, I would have been yumming those bugs right up! Crickets? Mealworms? Grasshoppers? Bring 'em on! This has absolutely nothing to do with me being afraid of insects or wimping out. Not even a little bit.** I could totally go Survivorman on some bugs!
**Okay, maybe a little bit.*** This is all about putting bugs in your mouth and chewing them up, after all.
***Or a lot. One of those two.
Posted on Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
It was a rather nice last-day in Chicago. Weather was good. Work was good. Dinner and beer with friends was good. It's all good! So good that I almost don't want to leave.
Yet it didn't really start off that way.
This morning I woke up to the smell of... poop.
My first reaction was "YOU HAVE GOT TO BE SHITTING ME!" Mostly because I only had one beer and two margaritas at dinner last night. And since I have never crapped myself after drinking, I am guessing it would take a heck of a lot more alcohol than one beer and two margaritas to do it. But a quick investigation showed that it wasn't me or anything in my room. It was a funky smell wafting in from somewhere else. Since there was nothing I could do about it, I plugged my nose and went back to sleep.
And now I'm packing my suitcase so I can head home tomorrow. The poopy odor seems to have dissipated, so hopefully I'll fly home odor-free.
But before I leave Chi-Town, I have to take a minute to wish the Blackhawks good luck this weekend.
I first got into hockey back when I was working in Milwaukee. A friend took me to an Admirals game, and I was hooked. The problem is that the Admirals are an American League team, so following the games is difficult. But NHL games were easy to find on television, so I started keeping up with various teams. Seattle didn't have one, so I drifted for a while until I got into the Chicago Blackhawks. Since I travel to Chicago quite a lot, and my Milwaukee Admirals were just an hour-and-a-half away, it just kind of "fit."
Being a Blackhawks fan is not always easy. They usually have some great players, but they never seem to get to the playoffs. The closest they've gotten since I started watching a decade ago was last season (when they lost in finals). There was no Stanley Cup, but a glimmer of hope emerged.
And this season? They swept the San Jose Sharks in playoffs on Sunday and will battle the Philadelphia Flyers for the Stanley Cup starting this weekend!
And goodbye Chicago. I should be seeing you again soon.
Posted on Thursday, May 27th, 2010
Apparently BP has used something called a "top kill" to get the oil spill under control. I hope it's true but, unfortunately, it's just too late. The damage is done. It's more than done.
If you were one of the many creatures who live in the Gulf, it's as if BP covered your home and everything in it in oil...
A part of me is sympathetic to BP for the beating they're taking. They are, after all, just a company trying to make money in a dangerous game where an accident can have dire consequences. And accidents do happen.
But, on the other hand...
Sympathy has to be reserved for those who can look back and honestly say "I did everything I possibly could to have avoided this disaster." And, in this case at least, I don't think BP did that. Since oil-rig blow-outs are so rare, it all comes down to how much money you spend on safety to fight a problem which will probably never happen. Do you spend $500,000 on an acoustic kill switch which may help in the event of a catastrophe? Or do you do what BP did and decide that the cost was too much for the potential benefits?
Well, when your actions can FUCK UP THE PLANET, I'm sorry, but you have no choice but to SPEND THE FUCKING MONEY!
As we are seeing right now, the alternative is just too horrible.
Posted on Friday, May 28th, 2010
A good start to the weekend...
Posted on Saturday, May 29th, 2010
Posted on Sunday, May 30th, 2010
Home at last for Bullet Sunday! There's nothing I really want to blog about today, so I decided to take one of the "30 Days" memes going around and just blow through the whole month in one sitting...
• Guilty pleasure. Re-watching old television shows on DVD. I just finished Veronica Mars (again) and The West Wing (again), and am now starting up with Alias (holy crap that show was amazing in the first two seasons!).
• Something that inspires you. Doctors Without Borders.
• The five songs you would have with you on a desert island and why. Probably five songs that are kind of bittersweet and ironic... If You Were Here by Thompson Twins. Pictures of You by The Cure. Every Day is Like Sunday by Morrissey. The Way It Used to Be by Pet Shop Boys. I Wish I Cared by a-ha. If I could have a sixth, I'd pick Mercy In You by Depeche Mode, just because I love it.
• What you imagine paradise to be like. Maui.
• A thank you letter to someone who has changed your life. "Thank's for stopping by my blog, dear reader!"
• Earliest thing you can remember. Playing with toys at grandma's house.
• Favorite cover of your favorite song. My favorite song hasn't been covered (that I know of)... but I do like Peter Gabriel's Solsbury Hill as covered by Erasure.
• Someone you think would make a good president. Apple Computer's Steve Jobs. No joke.
• Five things you want to see change. 1) Miracle Whip needs to go back to the original oil-based recipe because the newer water-based recipe sucks. 2) Sarah Palin needs to shut the hell up, as she is destroying any hopeful future of women in higher politics with her never-ending stupidity. 3) If television networks and record labels aren't going to make their shit available for purchase, they need to stop whining about people stealing or trading it. 4) FOX News needs to stop claiming that their coverage is "fair and balanced" because it's just as biased as all the other crappy news networks, if not more-so. 5) Blind hatred needs to be seen as antiquated thinking and ridiculed at every oportunity.
• A dream you had this past week described in detail. I don't have dreams in the way most everybody else does.
• Favorite picture ever taken of yourself. I don't like ANY photos of me, so YOU pick. I do like photos of me where I'm with my friends though...
• Your favorite musical artist’s life story. Though I'm not a huge fan of Shania Twain, her story of fighting her way out of abject poverty to become a major star is pretty inspiring. Kind of like Dolly Parton.
• A memory that never fails to make you laugh. Just about anything from my college years.
• Best mashup you’ve ever heard. I don't generally like mash-ups because I usually have too much respect for the original music. That being said, I thought this mashup with Depeche Mode and Madonna was pretty brilliant...
• A moment, phrase, or song that has changed your life the most. My favorite phrase is a quote from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension that's pretty remarkable when you really take a minute to think about it... "No matter where you go, there you are."
• Something that you want to do within the next five years. Visit Antarctica.
• What you want to remembered for. Existing.
• A picture that makes you feel. There are many. This one of Rosa Parks is a favorite...
• A passage from a book that has touched you. The one book that has influenced me more than any other is Illusions by Richard Bach. Its every page is genius. But if I had to pick one passage from it that has touched me most, it's this one: "Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they're yours." Everything is possible.
• A band that you immediately liked and the song that made you like them. Depeche Mode. Just Can't Get Enough.
• Your favorite medium of art. Oils on canvas for others, watercolors on paper for me.
• Someone you would give your life up for without question. Batman.
• Most awkward first impression you feel you’ve ever given. When meeting a blind-date once, I jokingly asked her how she felt about dating serial killers. It didn't end up being as funny as I had thought it would.
• Something you did as a child that other people remember you for. Being the most adorable baby ever...
• Something you would do if no one stopped you or if you knew you wouldn’t fail. Absolutely nothing. Doing nothing is the Holy Grail for me.
• Your definition of love. Shoelaces.
• Your definition of the meaning of life. Making the lives of others better.
• A moment you remember being completely happy in and a description of why you believe you were. What is your definition of happiness? I spent the weekend with my sister, and was totally happy most of the time. Probably because I was drunk most of the time. So I guess my definition of being happiness is being drunk.
• What you live for. New experiences. New people. New adventures.
• Ways you believe you have grown over the past thirty days. Even after looking back over my entries from the past 30 days, I have no idea. Except that every day is an opportunity to learn and grow, and I hope that I have.
Posted on Monday, May 31st, 2010
Memorial Day is a special day here in the USA which is set aside to remember those who died in military service.
Unfortunately it's also become a day of politically exploiting those who died in military service. I found this out the hard way when I opened my email this morning only to find this absurd rant about "Obama being the first American president not to lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery." Because the email had been forwarded, there were several witty comments attached... everything from "Obama prefers to spit on the graves of dead soldiers" and "This just proves Hussein Obama is a commie dictator with no respect for American values."
Whenever I get an email like this, the first thing I do is go to Google News and see what Obama is actually up to.
Turns out he's in Chicago, and attended a Memorial Day event at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery where he laid a wreath of remembrance there (after sending VP Biden to lay the traditional wreath at Arlington). He tried to give a speech, but a lightning storm made it unsafe to do so. This was sad, but he had already posted a Memorial Day video, so no harm no foul, I guess.
After confirming that President Obama was NOT, in fact, spitting on the graves of fallen American soldiers, I clicked over to Snopes to see if they had an article about him being the only American President to not lay a wreath at Arlington. Not surprisingly, Snopes did have an article.
Turns out that President H.W. Bush, President G.W. Bush, and even President Ronald Reagan... the fucking Conservative Presidential Holy Trifecta... ALL did not lay wreaths at Arlington on Memorial Day at some time or another. Hell, President H.W. Bush didn't lay a SINGLE WREATH AT ARLINGTON DURING THE ENTIRE FOUR YEARS HE WAS IN OFFICE!
Heaven only knows I am not President Obama's biggest fan, but this stupid shit drives me insane.
How is spreading lies and cheapening the memories of American soldiers who paid for our freedoms with their lives a proper show of respect on Memorial Day?
I guess all I can say to those who died in service so we can carry on with our reprehensible behavior is "thanks anyway."
Posted on Tuesday, June 1st, 2010
Much the same as everybody else on the planet, I like feeling special.
I like being recognized at shops and restaurants I visit frequently. I like getting discounts for being a loyal customer. I like belonging to clubs and programs that say I'm an elite client. I like getting catalogs with offers for members only. I like getting personal notes from company execs who recognize my value to them. I like knowing that I matter. That I'm valued. That I'm recognized. That I'm... special.
When I was in Chicago last week, one of my big goals was to drop by the LEGO Store so I could pick up a V.I.P. Card for their new rewards program. I don't buy a lot of LEGO anymore, but their shiny new card makes me feel special just the same...
It's all an illusion, of course. Absolutely anybody can walk into a LEGO Store and get a V.I.P. Card.
And I realize full well that the minute I stop spending money at a shop they'll drop me off their "elite" list like a hot potato. And if I stop spending money at a restaurant, they'll forget I ever existed. And if I don't spend enough money to make a sales quota, I won't have membership privileges any longer.
Yes, it's all an illusion.
And I know it's an illusion.
But I don't care.
In a day and age where all too many companies just don't seem to give a shit about their customers, even fake recognition is better than no recognition at all.
Or so I keep telling myself...
Posted on Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010
I don't feel much like blogging today.
I do feel like dancing, however.
Posted on Thursday, June 3rd, 2010
So far as baseball fans go... I'm pretty fickle. Sometime during my teenage years I was given an Orioles baseball jersey and started following the team just so I would know what to say when people wanted to talk about them. When I was in college I caught Red Sox Fever (no idea how or why) and became a fan for decades. Once Boston won The Series in 2004, I became disenchanted and switched to my "home" team, the Seattle Mariners. I watch an occasional game, but find it tough to get excited about baseball anymore.
And yet... it's easy to get excited when something remarkable happens.
Like a perfect game.
A perfect game is a formidable accomplishment that has only happened twenty times in the entire history of major league baseball (and a dozen times in my lifetime). Not only can you not allow the opposing team to get any hits... but there can't be any walks or hit-batters either. That's tough.
Last night the Detroit Tigers were playing the Cleveland Indians and Detroit's Armando Galarraga was pitching the game of his career. The PERFECT game of his career. And then it happened. A bad call declared a runner safe when he was very obviously out. Instant replay confirmed it. Even the umpire who blew the call fully admitted that he made a mistake. Galarraga got robbed of his history-making perfect game.
As a casual fan, I really don't have cause to complain... but...
This is so fucking stupid.
Everybody is saying "Well, bad calls are part of the game... that's what makes it baseball." And while this may be true, I also think it's bullshit. How can fans be expected to respect the game when there is no recourse for obviously blown calls? That may be a part of baseball's past, but does it have to be a part of it's future?
Commissioner of Major League Baseball Bud Selig should be fired. He had a golden opportunity here to show the world that baseball can evolve out of this kind of embarrassing crap and have some integrity, but refuses to reverse the call. He could have used this as the perfect excuse to expand instant replay for judgement calls, but instead makes some vague promise to look into the situation.
Way to take the initiative, dumbass.
The pussification of America continues.
And this time we can't blame Canada.
Posted on Friday, June 4th, 2010
When I was visiting my sister for a (very) belated birthday celebration this past weekend, I somehow left my car's passenger window part-way down (I don't remember ever lowering it, but whatever). Of course it then decided to rain all night long. By the time I was told about my error the next morning, the floor was all squishy with water. I soaked up as much as I could, then drove back home where the warmer weather managed to dry things out nicely.
Until this morning, when a bottle of Coke got knocked on the passenger floor, which meant I had to once again flood everything with water in an effort to get the syrupy mess out of the carpet.
Can't. Catch. A. Break.
Tonight I'm going to try to get more than four hours sleep and see if that can prevent any further Coke-related accidents in my car. If I have to soak the floor one more time, the carpet is probably going to disintegrate.
Much like the little boy in this statue I photographed in Brooklyn a few weeks ago...
I know. I know. The artist intended to show the kid nuzzled into the folds of the woman's tunic... but unless she's got a gaping hole in her torso AND is missing a good chunk along the left side of her body... OR the kid had half his face and body burned off in a nuclear accident... well... the boy is occupying the same space as the woman here. This means either they are merged like some kind of impossible Siamese twins... or they got fused in some freak teleporter accident like Jeff Goldblum did in The Fly.
No matter what the explanation, I am really creeped out by this statue. I mean, GAH!! THEY ARE TOTALLY MELTED TOGETHER OR SOMETHING!! AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO NOTICES STUFF LIKE THIS?!?
Urgh. Must go to bed and try not to have nightmares of giant freaky mutant melty people.
But before I go...
Normally I would save something like this for Bullet Sunday, but I have no idea how long the half-price offer will last, so I'm compelled to add it today.
A really nice strategy game called "Carcassonne" has been converted to the iPhone and released today. The object of the game is to build a board out of tiles, and use your "Meeples" to claim castles, roads, fields, or cloisters. The strategy comes in when you try to figure out the best way to maximize points while keeping your opponents from doing the same. The original game looks like this...
Photo by Elentin and taken from Wikipedia.
The iPhone version (created by TheCodingMonkeys) is just stunning, and looks like this...
Not only does it look gorgeous and fully-faithful to the original, but the developers went for broke by adding multiplayer via your choice of pass-and-play OR Bluetooth OR Wi-Fi OR email OR internet (with push notifications when it's your turn!). Don't have the number of players you like? Select one of the eight computer AI opponents of various skill levels! Not enough? They added a unique "Solitaire" mode with all-new game-play! Don't know how to play? There's a full manual PLUS a great tutorial complete with voice-over acting! STILL not enough? Carcassonne for iPhone also has in-game chat for network games, online and offline rankings, and a "Solitaire Game of the Week" with a best score competition!
In short, this is one of the best apps I've ever seen on my iPhone. Some people I know don't like Carcassonne, but most people seem to love it. If you love it or even think you'll love it, now is the time to act... it's currently on sale for $4.99! So get it now before they released the FREE iPad compatible version and jack the price up to $9.99! From what I've read, TheCodingMonkeys are planning on keeping the game fresh by adding some of the Carcassonne expansion sets for in-app purchase. You can't ask for more than that...
If you'd like to see more, I've added more screen captures with my comments in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Saturday, June 5th, 2010
Nobody can see every movie ever released, so when they declare a film to be "the worst movie ever," what they are actually saying is that it's "the worst movie I've ever seen." Still, given the number of movies out there, this is still a pretty bold statement.
To me, the worst movie ever used to be a Renny Harlin flick called Born American. The tagline on the posters was "Freedom is just a word...until you lose it." It was a Reagan-era flag-waver about three college students vacationing in Finland who decide to cross the Russian border as a joke. Unfortunately for them, they are spotted by the Russian army. They then get captured and tortured as suspected spies... something they consider unjust because they're Americans, dammit! Eventually they escape and, in the process, kill people and destroy a Russian town. The movie was utter shit and made no sense. It was meant to portray Soviet Russia as a nation of monsters, but the only monsters in the film were the Americans. Can you imagine if the situation were reversed and it was the Russians who were caught on American soil blowing up towns and killing people circa 1986? But movie audiences are stupid, so it was easy to cover massive gaps of logic with patriotic "Russia is evil" rhetoric. Born Americans was so bad it made me embarrassed to be American.
But that was then.
Now a new movie has taken its place... Rolland Emmerich's 2012.
Worst. Movie. Ever. Truly excrement on just about every level. First of all, it's a film made for idiots. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because even intelligent people can have great fun turning off their brain and enjoying a stupid flick. Heck, there are a lot of stupid movies I really like. But 2012 goes so far beneath stupid that it's fucking insane.
Heaven only knows I wasn't expecting much, but I was hopeful. Sure Emmerich unleashed such turds as 10,000 BC and Universal Soldier and The Day After Tomorrow and that shitty Godzilla remake. But he also did Stargate, which I liked quite a lot.
And yet nothing could prepare me for just how awful this film could be.
Yes, the special effects were stunning in places... breathtaking even... but the story and events were positively asinine. Oh noes! The earth's core is heating up and the world is going to end! Let's pile up catastrophic spectacles and wild-ass coincidences and see if anybody notices that it's all window dressing bullshit!
What's truly perplexing is that 2012 managed to attract some real talent... actors like John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Danny Glover, and even Dr. Phlox(!). But it doesn't matter. Even the best actors on earth couldn't save this steamer. Events are so contrived and manipulative, that it feels like you're being force-fed a load of bullshit. And while I could give a dozen examples to illustrate this, the most offensive is the cracks that open up as the earth goes into spasm. They always... always crack across that "perfect spot." Like EXACTLY BETWEEN the fingers of God and Adam in Michelangelo's famous painting in the Sistine Chapel ..
In some films, this might be interpreted in a number of ways. The original painting has God giving life to man. So maybe this is symbolic of man's abandonment of God, creating a rift between them. Or maybe it's meant to be ironic... the painting depicts God giving life to man, now all mankind is facing extinction. Or perhaps it's allegory for religion in general, illustrating that even God can't help you when the world ends. Etc. Etc.
But attributing such deep thought to anything in 2012 would be absurd.
I know this because earlier in the film, Amanda Peet is shopping with her boyfriend when he says something cheesy and ridiculous like "I don't know honey... I feel like there's something pulling us apart..." just before a crack opens up directly between them...
Yes. This movie is that fucking stupid.
But even that's not the reason I loathe the film so vehemently.
As I said, this film was made for idiots. And because idiots don't have the intelligence to think for themselves or figure things out on their own, filmmakers like Roland Emmerich have to design their films to appeal to the lowest common denominator. They insert obvious clues in order to tell the audience how they should think, feel, and react. More often than not, these clues come in the form of a character. Somebody in the film whose only purpose is to help an audience of idiots know when to laugh, cry, get mad, or be scared. A douchebag moron to spell it all out.
In the case of 2012, we get this piece of shit...
First it's the "Oh no, we're doomed!" look. Then the "Hooray, we're saved!" elation. It's so pathetic and absurd that seeing it makes me want to punch somebody in the face. Starting with this asshole...
I hate characters like this. Fucking HATE THEM!
And yet they're becoming more and more common in movies... and more and more blatant in their manipulations. It's getting so bad that pretty soon movie directors will just add subtitles which say things like "THIS IS SAD SO YOU SHOULD CRY NOW" and "THIS SCENE IS WHERE YOU GET ANGRY" and "THIS CHARACTER IS A BAD GUY."
Which is pretty much what 2012 is all about. Telegraphing audience instructions with blatant eye candy and shameless manipulation for no practical purpose... including entertainment.
The Blogography Movie Rating System...
Which brings us to...
Dave2 rating for 2012 (2009) —
Posted on Sunday, June 6th, 2010
Another Bullet Sunday from home! How lucky can I get?
• Golden. Naturally, I was very sad to hear that Rue McClanahan has passed away. As the sex-starved Blanche Devereaux from The Golden Girls, she had some very big shoes to fill. Sex-starved shoes formerly filled by Betty White as the sex-starved Sue-Ann Nivens from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. But McClanahan managed to create a character all her own, and Blanche quickly became a television classic beloved the world over. She will be missed...
Hang in there, Betty!
• Greedo. Coolest. Keychain. Ever. Of course, all LEGO minifig keychains are cool... but this one is frickin' sweet! The character is named "Onaconda Farr" but I prefer to think of him as "Greedo" in a new outfit (HAN SHOT FIRST!)...
• Rated. And so AT&T has changed their rate plans, eliminating unlimited data options for new smartphone customers.
With each passing minute I loathe AT&T even more than I did the minute before. On top of service that is so shitty I can barely make phone calls sometimes, now they're screwing over Apple by killing one of the things that makes buying an iPhone or iPad so great. AND screwing over customers like me who wanted to purchase a tethering option for my UNLIMITED data plan (which is now impossible, as you have to DOWNGRADE to their shitty LIMITED plans to get tethering!). I sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, hope that Apple can use this as an excuse to break their exclusivity contract and fucking drop AT&T like the pile of crap they have become.
• O'Really? Just when I think that Bill O'Reilly couldn't possibly be a bigger asshole than he already is... he proves me wrong. McDonalds France has a new ad campaign called "Come As You Are" which shows how different people from all different walks of life are welcome at their restaurants. Their clever ad for gay customers was recently discussed at FOX News, where Bill O'Reilly asked if McDonalds France had an ad welcoming Al-Qaeda to their restaurants too...
Yes. That's right. Bill O'Reilly feels that if you're going to welcome gays into your restaurant, you might as well be inviting Al-Qaeda as well. That he can say hateful crazy-ass shit like this and still have people wanting to watch his show is just mind-boggling. Humanity FAIL!
• C B No. Why is it any time I go to watch videos at CBS, they shove an ad down my throat that plays perfectly... then come up with an error message saying the video is no longer available? Well, dumbasses, I clicked on the firckin' video link from YOUR website, so why in the hell are you advertising content that isn't available?
Stupid crap like this happens all the time when trying to view content officially and legally... yet, networks continue to whine over people illegally sharing VIDEO THAT ACTUALLY WORKS. Well guess what? YOU FORCE PEOPLE TO DO IT! Either fix your busted-ass shit or STOP WHINING ABOUT PIRACY!
And now I suppose I should go to bed since I have to be up in 4-1/2 hours. I would have gone to bed earlier, but I'm still jazzed from the Blackhawks win, and the MTV Movie Awards were actually entertaining enough to keep me watching this year. Who knew?
Posted on Monday, June 7th, 2010
After three restless hours of non-sleep, I got up verrrrry early this morning so I could trek over to Seattle to begin an incredibly chaotic week. While here in the city, I'm literally working on four projects at the same time, all while trying to stay focused on the main task at hand. I've all but given up trying to get caught up on sleep, and have just resolved to become a zombie...
It sucks, but I've had worse.
Posted on Tuesday, June 8th, 2010
I was having such a good day at work today. Until I made the mistake of driving back to my hotel at the end of the day.
Seattle is kind of a unique for a major city (so far as traffic goes) because it is surrounded by water on three sides. To alleviate traffic jams, most cities expand outward and build a ring road or something... but that's an option Seattle just doesn't have. For better or worse, the city is pretty much stuck with what they've got. Sure it presents some challenges and frustrations, but it is what it is, and locals pretty much deal with it the best they can...
Puget Sound (Elliott Bay) to the West. Lake Washington to the East. Lake Union to the North.
A key part of the Seattle transportation system is the Alaskan Way Viaduct. It runs along Elliott Bay (of Puget Sound) at the Western edge of the city. It's a double-decker affair with southbound traffic on the lower level, and northbound on the upper deck. You can see it on the map above... it's the yellow line to the left of where it says "Seattle."
Driving the viaduct can be tricky business because the lanes are quite narrow. This means drivers are always on high alert since you just never know when a truck is going to come barreling by and drift into your lane.
When you are heading north into the city you exit off a ramp that runs into Seneca Street...
At the end of the ramp you have the option of turning left onto 1st Avenue, which is exactly what I wanted to do because that's how I get to my hotel. Today when I exited there was a big Chevy Suburban SUV ahead of me. Because somebody was crossing the street, they had to wait in the intersection. Not wanting to block traffic if the light turned red, I hung back just a little bit so I could wait my turn...
So far so good.
But then some random asshole comes screaming up behind me and IMMEDIATELY starts laying on his horn...
WHAT THE FUCK?!?
It's not like he couldn't see the fucking huge-ass Suburban blocking me... he HAD to have seen it. With that in mind, what the hell was his reasoning to honk at us? Even if he didn't see the pedestrian in the sidewalk, he should have at least expected that we were waiting for SOMETHING! It's not like we were just sitting there for the fun of it. Besides, WHERE IN THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO GO? Am I just supposed to run over a Suburban AND a pedestrian to make this prick happy?
I can only guess that this particular asshole is one of those people who automatically lays on the horn the minute he runs across something blocking his path... whether it's deserved or not.
I fucking HATE these idiots.
In the interest in maintaining a civil society, it should be legal to pull out a gun and just unload on their rude, stupid asses. They have no place... NO PLACE... living amongst sane, rational, well-mannered people... let alone driving amongst us.
And now my day has been ruined.
To make myself feel better, I am going to go drink beer now.
Posted on Wednesday, June 9th, 2010
CONGRATULATIONS BLACKHAWKS ON YOUR STANLEY CUP WIN!!
I wish I was in Chicago right now.
Posted on Thursday, June 10th, 2010
And I'm off...
With company like The Bitch Who is Dutch and The Lady Who is Penelope, everybody pray I survive the weekend!
Posted on Friday, June 11th, 2010
And so here I am in DutchyLand.
There was a bit of an adventure leading up to this moment, because my airport hotel caught on fire at 11:45pm last night. Except not really... it ended up being a false alarm that caused the entire hotel to be evacuated for 30 minutes. The alarm was a continuous piercing shriek that gave me an instant headache of massive proportions. This made getting any sleep a total impossibility. Which is a lovely thing to have happen before hopping on an airplane for nine hours...
So I haven't slept in two days, and still have a full day ahead of me.
Yay! I'm a zombie! Again!
After landing, The DutchBitch and Lady Penelope picked me up for a trip to the city of Alkmaar, where they have a famous cheese market and cheese museum. As a lover of all things cheese, I had been dying to go for years, and the ladies were nice enough to indulge me.
As were were making our way through Alkmaar Centraal, I started noticing these badges embedded in the street...
This was very confusing to me, because it looked like an invitation for you to let your dog take a shit here. I asked DutchBitch about it, and she said that the red ring indicates that the action within is FORBIDDEN.
Back in the USA, the sign would look like this...
Alkmaar has a serious dog shit problem, so they should put more of these signs up. Perhaps if they switched to the American version, it would help make things more clear?
In any event, I'd think what Alkmaar really needs to worry about is this...
Because eating too much cheese can definitely have unpleasant effects on a person's digestive system.
The Cheese Market itself is fun. They have a kind of reenactment you can watch with cheese runners and the whole bit...
Behind the festivities is a beautiful Cheese Museum that shows a lot of cheese history and cheese-making stuff. You ever get a view down to the market...
But the most IMPORTANT thing about the Cheese Museum at Alkmaar is that you get a free sample of cheese! Because the cheese is free, it's undoubtedly the cheapest, crappiest cheese Dutch Euros can buy... but it still kicks the shit out of 95% of the cheese you can buy in the USA.
Lunch, of course, consisted of an Old Cheese Sandwich and Patatjes Met. Which is about my favorite lunch on earth when freshly made in the Netherlands...
Hooray for cheese!
Posted on Saturday, June 12th, 2010
And so the event I traveled 5000 miles (8000 kilometers) to attend, finally arrived... BITCHSTERDAM 2! As expected, it was well-worth the trip, and everybody had an awesome time. Just another reminder why I love blogger meet-ups so much!
As it was a beautiful day in the Netherlands, we decided to head into Amsterdam early and play tourist (even though The DutchBitch is a native and Lady Penelope and I have been here many times). It's such a beautiful city with so many things to do, that it would be a crime not to spend some time exploring. Eventually decided on a canal boat tour...
Since the Lady Penelope had never been to the Red Light District, we wandered through the neighborhood for a while. I've only ever seen it at night, and it was an entirely different experience in the daytime...
Along the canal in the Red Light District is actually quite beautiful in the daylight, as all the seedier elements are not so noticeable...
Throughout the Netherlands everybody has World Cup fever. It's a bit difficult to explain to Americans, except to equate it to the Super Bowl (if the Super Bowl took place once every four years and the entire world was competing for a spot to play in it)...
England was expected to wipe the floor with the USA in today's match, and the English were having a big laugh at the anticipated beating they were most certainly going to dish out to us. Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned, and the Americans managed to hold England to a tie game of 1-1. Many tears of agony were shed in Blighty, I'm sure. A really good recap to explain it all is over at the BBC.
After goofing about Amsterdam for a few hours, we headed to the Hard Rock Cafe early so we could have a few drinks while waiting for Bitchsterdam to ensue. The scenery at Max Euweplein was... interesting... to say the least...
I'll leave the Bitchsterdam recap and photos to DutchBitch but, suffice to say, we all had a lot of fun. Many Euros were spent to make sure of it...
A big shout-out to Blogography reader Erik who was kind enough to come over and say "hello." He was sitting at the next table with his friends, and somehow managed to recognize me in my drunken state!
After Bitchsterdam had ended, we were walking back to the car park when we saw a drunken barefoot man kicking his shoe across the street. A motorcycle police officer was keeping a careful eye out, and went to question the man, who replied "What the fuck do you want?!?" Much to his credit, the police officer let the man go on his way... even when he shoved his shoe down the storm drain...
But then the drunk man decided to do some property damage by trying to tear out a street sign. This was something the the police officer could not ignore, and the result was obvious to everybody except the drunk guy...
Backup forces arrived in the form of two beautiful lady cops in a squad car, who were apparently signing autographs while the drunk guy got hauled off in a van...
Bravo to the Amsterdam Police, who were incredibly calm, cool, collected, and reserved in trying to keep everybody safe! And bravo to drunk guy for giving us some post-Bitchsterdam entertainment!
And bravo to DutchBitch for an awesome day!
Posted on Sunday, June 13th, 2010
It's Bullet Sunday from Berlin! I have to get up early tomorrow for work, so I'll post today's adventures in Deutschland tomorrow. In the meanwhile... on with the bullets...
• Presidential! As always, I'm fascinated by foreign Americana I find when traveling abroad. Even though most of it is critical, it's almost always entertaining. Like this drawing of Presidents Reagan, Clinton, and Bush...
Each is captured perfectly, but it's the bulge in Clinton's pants that makes it art.
• Dieter! Damn. If only I could get back to Berlin at the end of August for what is sure to be THE concert event of the year! I bet Dieter gets all the chicks. Just look at this über-hot bastard...
I haven't seen a music personality this impressive since Gunther!
• Sweet! Finally... FINALLY... I found a Double Fahrt photo for my ongoing Fahrt Collection...
Here's hoping a Triple Fahrt is in my future sometime soon.
• Video! I'm beginning to wonder how long it will be before it's impossible to avoid being under video surveillance in public areas...
What's astounding to me is that even though signs like this are everywhere, so are signs of vandalism and crime. I wouldn't mind having people watching me all the time if it were doing something to make us all safer, but I never get the feeling it is.
• Service? AT&T likes to brag about their awesome world-wide coverage but, from what I've recently experienced, they're full of shit. Many times I could not use data services... even at important places like Berlin's main train station. Nothing quite like relying on your phone to get at your hotel reservation and a map of how to get there, only to find out you can't get to either. In the countryside of the Netherlands and Germany, I was lucky to get any kind of service at all (even when the Dutch and Germans were happily chatting away on their phones). This sucks even worse. FAIL!...
This probably has something to do with AT&T not having established roaming partnerships with companies providing service at these places, which means absolutely nothing to customers expecting to make phone calls there. Sure I am grateful for the amazing technology that makes personal global communication a reality, but this is bullshit.
• Spotted! Gowalla recently added "Event Spots" which allow you to create temporary check-in Spots for weddings, conferences, parties, birthdays... and even blogger meet-ups, like the one we created for Bitchsterdam 2...
The cool thing about this is that you can post photos and notes so you have an online record of your event that people can check out. Unfortunately, however, the photos must be shot and uploaded live. You can't post saved or transferred images. Given that my iPhone 3GS doesn't have a flash, this makes it almost impossible to post anything decent. Hopefully as mobile phone cameras continue to get better, this will be a much more useful feature.
And that brings yet another Bullet Sunday to a close. Tomorrow it's back to Amsterdam. The day after that it's back home.
It seems like I just got here.
Posted on Monday, June 14th, 2010
Since I knew I'd be busy this morning, I did most of my exploring when I got into the city yesterday evening. I've been to Berlin three times before, but really only played tourist the first time. Unfortunately, most of my photos from that visit have disappeared, so I my main goal was to revisit the places I had been previously and snap some pictures to retroactively fill in the blanks. This included such spots as the Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church, Brandenburg Gate, St. Hedwig Cathedral, Gendarmenmarkt, Checkpoint Charlie, etcetera etcetera...
I also added the Holocaust Memorial, which I hadn't seen before...
Another new sight in the city... iPad advertisements. I am not exaggerating when I say that it is impossible to walk anywhere in Berlin and not have iPad staring at you. The ad-buy must have been hugely expensive, but there's no denying the effectiveness of covering every available space on streets, train stations, bus stops, and even multiple buildings with iPad...
And, of course, I had to make time for the new Hard Rock Cafe, which has been moved to a much better location right on the Kurfürstendamm. Despite being one of the newer-style "lacking-in-memorabilia-hipster-lounge-type" properties, I have to admit it's very nice. Not to say it couldn't use a bunch more cool pieces of memorabilia to make it a real Hard Rock... it definitely could... but so far as restaurants go, it's pretty sweet...
Just as in the Netherlands, World Cup Fever is crazy-serious in Berlin. Most of the Germany supporters restrain themselves to face-paint, hats, flags, and the occasional horn-blowing. Those supporting teams outside of Germany are an entirely different animal. They drive through the streets screaming their heads off and honking their horns continuously. I understand team-spirit, but it's fucking annoying to be subjected to this crap. The biggest offender seemed to be Ghana (who ended up winning their game 1-0, so maybe being annoying works)...
Germany won their match 4-0 against Australia, so there were many happy celebrations in the streets of Berlin. Somehow, I still managed to get a good night's sleep.
After finishing work this morning, I wanted to go to the Gemäldegalerie Museum (housing many amazing works of art from the European Masters), but it's closed on Monday. Instead I wandered back to Brandenberger Tor to see if I could get a better photo of the Quadriga sculpture that sits on top...
Mission accomplished. All that was left was to head back to Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station) for my trip back to Amsterdam. The beautiful glass and steel structure makes it hard to take a bad photo of the place...
One of the best parts of being in Germany is eating Spritzringe donuts (of which I am a big fan). It doesn't get much better than that!
Or does it? Because this time I happened across MINI-SPRITZRINGE!!!...
Cutest. Donut. Ever.
Four days in Europe hardly seems adequate, but that's all she wrote for me this time.
Posted on Tuesday, June 15th, 2010
That's okay... I didn't really feel like blogging tonight anyway...
Every fucking time my site goes down, Media Temple has some new excuse as to why it's happening. Then they mark the issue "resolved" even though I know damn well another outage is just around the corner. This has been happening for YEARS, ever since they moved their shared-hosting accounts to a "(gs) Grid Server" architecture. And even though the "Grid Server" has been a massive, catastrophic bucket of FAIL! since day one, they continue to cling to it like some miracle is going to happen any day now, and it's suddenly going to be the stable, reliable hosting platform they promise in their advertising...
RELIABILITY? SERIOUSLY?!? It's this kind of delusional bullcrap that drives me bat-shit insane... even more so than the outages themselves. HELPFUL HINT: GRID SERVER DOES NOT WORK! IT NEVER HAS! Even when it's running, it's still slow as shit... sometimes to the point of being unusable. And lest we forget that Media Temple offers NO BACKUP SERVICE. That option was removed from my control panel when I was moved to the "Grid Server" and has never returned (it was promised for a while, but now this critical service which even the cheapest web hosting companies offer as standard equipment has been forgotten). So on top of being unstable, unreliable, and unresponsive, Media Temple hosting is also unsafe.
It's everything you dream of in a web hosting company!
I am so sick and fucking tired of Media Temple treating every new incident as an individual problem that can be checked off as "fixed" when the Big Picture is that their "Grid Server" hosting sucks ass and will likely NEVER be fixed. On the contrary, things just keep getting worse and worse as the problems become more and more frequent.
I have just over six months of my contract before I can walk away from Media Temple's busted-ass bullshit hosting. I am literally counting the days...
Hopefully I can last this long so I don't end up losing all the money I put into my contract.
Posted on Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
Usually I take the direct Amsterdam to Seattle flight at 10:15am, arriving 11:25am. But since I didn't know my schedule in Berlin when I bought my plane tickets, I opted for a later flight via Minneapolis that leaves Amsterdam at 1:25pm and arrives in Seattle at a gut-wrenching 7:19pm... a full five hours of extra travel time.
At which point I have to drive 2-1/2 hours to get home.
Usually the drive is no big deal, but yesterday it became one by the time I left the airport at 8:00pm completely exhausted. Things were further drawn out when I stopped 45 minutes outside of Seattle in North Bend at the Mt. Si Shell Station (pronounced "Mount Sigh") to fuel up.
I only mention this because the gas station is across the street from the Mt. Si Chevron Station, which is the place that Sandra Bullock disappeared without a trace in the Jeff Bridges/Kiefer Sutherland thriller The Vanishing. This was a crappy remake of a pretty good Dutch movie called Spoorloos, but with the customary Hollywood "happy ending" slapped on to ruin the film. Well, it was actually ruined before the ending, but that's what I remember disappointing me most...
Speaking of movies, I rather liked the film The Young Victoria that was playing on-demand during my flight home...
This was surprising to me, because usually I can't stand weepy period romance films. But this was something entirely different, with politics and power playing a bigger role than romance. If that wasn't enough, the production values and performances were all top-notch. Emily Blunt has come a long way since The Devil Wears Prada... which is kind of incredible when you consider the movies were only two years apart!
And now I suppose I should get back to work. I seem to be buried again.
Posted on Thursday, June 17th, 2010
I'm suffering from Patatjes Met withdrawals (which, for the uninitiated, is Dutch fries with mayo). And, since I won't be returning to the Netherlands until September, it's going to be a loooooooong three months.
In the meanwhile, I'm eating a lot of toast. Delicious toast with butter. It doesn't work.
So I've tried waffles. Freshly baked waffles with whipped cream. It's not helping.
Even my favorite, chocolate pudding, has failed to fill the void left by Patatjes Met...
I suppose this is how cocaine addiction starts...
P.S. If you love Dutch-style mayo too, there's a FaceBook Fan Page you can join!
Posted on Friday, June 18th, 2010
Irony. It can be so ironic sometimes.
Yesterday I waxed poetic about suffering withdrawals from my beloved Patatjes Met (Dutch Fries with Mayo) and my never-ending quest to find something to satisfy the cravings now that I can't have them anymore.
Then today I was forwarded a positively reprehensible rant on how hungry children should just just eat from a dumpster, and had to seriously restrain my rage to keep from typing "FUCK YOU, RUSH LIMBAUGH, YOU VILE PIECE OF SHIT!" in huge letters on a blog post and clicking "publish." Which would have been bad because I accept he represents a point of view for a large segment of the American population, and has a right to spew his crazy-ass shit just as much as the next guy...
Except... not this time.
I am extremely fortunate that I've never had to go hungry. It's something I try to be thankful for every day. But I have worked with an organization that helps people who do go hungry, and it's from this perspective that I can say Rush Limbaugh doesn't know what the fuck he is talking about. He is so far beyond stupid... beyond ignorant... beyond crazy... that my mind just boggles that anybody could be this depraved when it comes to children.
Let's break it down, shall we?
A companion story from AOL News: "Record Number of US Kids Facing Summer of Hunger. With the sc-rewl (school?) year ending in communities across America, more than 16 million children face a summer of hunger." Now, Michelle Obama told us they're all so fat and out of shape and overweight that a summer off from government eating might be just the ticket.
Kids are fat and overweight because A) Society has transitioned to a sedentary lifestyle of video games and other "activities" which lack physical exercise, and B) Healthy foods are hideously expensive, but government subsidies make shitty unhealthy food cheap, so this is what people buy. But this is neither here nor there, because there are kids in poverty who don't even get the shitty unhealthy food to eat.
But, even if this weren't the case, this is still a horrible thing to say. Kids... WHETHER THEY ARE FAT OR NOT... should not have to go hungry in the wealthiest nation on earth. Put on a healthier diet? Sure! Taught to exercise? Absolutely! That's what Michelle Obama was talking about. But starve? Are you fucking kidding me? Jeez what an asshole.
This, of course, takes into no account that the parents, I guess, just can sit around and let their kids starve. Why if the kids don't do it, they're gonna starve -- if the schools don't do it, the kids are going to starve.
God, this is just -- we can't escape these people. We just can't escape them. They live in the utter deniability of basic human nature. They actually have it in their heads somehow that parents are so rotten that they will let their kids go hungry and starve, unless the schools take care of it.
And here is where Rush Limbaugh proves he's a fucking moron. THERE ARE INDEED PARENTS WHO SIT AROUND AND LET THEIR KIDS STARVE! Perhaps they are drug addicts or alcoholics in no condition to realize or care their kids are hungry... or maybe they're never around to notice... or maybe they are just so poor that they can only afford one meal a day, and that school lunch is what keeps their children from going hungry. Regardless, whether by design or choice, parents are letting their kids starve every day. I've seen it. And even if Rush can't get off his bloated, self-righteous ass and see for himself, he can certainly do some research at child shelters, talk to child welfare workers at our schools, or ring up some children's charities to get his fucking facts straight. But experience has taught him that he doesn't have to. His listeners will believe his fucked-up bullshit whether it's true or not, so why bother with actual facts? Fiction is more inflammatory anyway.
I think, you know what we're going to do here, we're going to start a feature on this program: "Where to find food." For young demographics, where to find food. Now that school is out, where to find food. We can have a daily feature on this. And this will take us all the way through the summer. Where to find food. And, of course, the first will be: "Try your house." It's a thing called the refrigerator. You probably already know about it. Try looking there. There are also things in what's called the kitchen of your house called cupboards. And in those cupboards, most likely you're going to find Ding-Dongs, Twinkies, Lays ridgy potato chips, all kinds of dips and maybe a can of corn that you don't want, but it will be there.
Except when it isn't there. Because your parent or guardian is out getting stoned or drunk (or whatever) and hasn't bothered to buy food in a month and you've already eaten everything... everything... you manage to find in the house (assuming you still have a house because nobody's around to pay the rent). And since school is out and there's no lunch for you, the one meal you get is now gone. And since you're just a kid, what options do you have but to beg a neighbor (or even strangers) for something to eat? Or try to steal food. Or just go hungry because you don't know what else to do. You're a kid, after all. But even in houses where the parents are around, poverty can result in food being scarce at times... even with food stamps and government assistance. The reality is that hunger is all around us. Maybe the windows in Mr. Limbaugh's limousine are tinted so dark that he can't see families living in hunger on the street, but they exist... whether he chooses to acknowledge it or not.
If that doesn't work, try a Happy Meal at McDonald's. You know where McDonald's is. There's the Dollar Menu at McDonald's and if they don't have Chicken McNuggets, dial 911 and ask for Obama.
And if you don't have a dollar... how the fuck can you buy something off the dollar menu? Again, THESE ARE KIDS WE'RE TALKING ABOUT! And the parting shot at Obama? Hey, at least he's trying to do something to help hungry kids... what the fuck are you doing, you worthless piece of shit excuse for a human being? Where's your solution?
There's another place if none of these options work to find food; there's always the neighborhood dumpster. Now, you might find competition with homeless people there, but there are videos that have been produced to show you how to healthfully dine and how to dumpster dive and survive until school kicks back up in August. Can you imagine the benefit we would provide people?
So... hungry kids should just eat out of dumpsters. Got it.
You know, I try very hard not to allow hatred into my life, and my entire belief system is based on doing no harm or wishing no harm upon others. But Rush Limbaugh can just fuck off and die. And I mean literally die. Have another heart attack and just DIE. Slowly. With as much pain as possible. Somebody so hateful that they have no pity for a hungry child has no place on this earth, and I just don't care how that sounds.
Because people like Rush Limbaugh simply cannot win.
They just can't.
If the most innocent of us... the children... have no consideration by the adults who dictate how they are forced to live their lives, then we all lose. Because kids are victims of circumstance. They don't have any choice whether or not their parents are poor... or drug addicts... or don't care for them. And if the best the United States of America has to offer these kids is eating out of a dumpster when they have no food, then we don't deserve the many riches we are blessed with. We don't deserve anything at all... except the cold future that uncaring, heartless, reprehensible assholes like Rush Limbaugh are building for us.
Heaven help us all.
Posted on Saturday, June 19th, 2010
In my never-ending quest to see all my favorite 80's bands in concert, I headed over to Seattle this morning so my sister and I could see The Psychedelic Furs playing at the Showbox SoDo. The Furs were responsible for transitioning me out of my "punk" phase, and led me to a life-long love of the new wave music scene which has lasted until this day.
As expected, the show was phenomenal, even though they didn't play my favorite song (Until She Comes) and the Showbox SoDo is not one of my least favorite venues. Still, with 30+ years of material to draw from, Richard Butler tore through their setlist with an energy and enthusiasm that was contagious, and belied his 54 years...
Probably best-known for their hit Pretty in Pink, The Furs have a fantastic catalog of music that's well-worth checking out if that's the only song you know them by. Their 2001 "Greatest Hits" album is a good place to start (iTunes Link), and at $7.99 for 17 tracks, it's quite a bargain.
Posted on Sunday, June 20th, 2010
After an incredibly exhausting and frustrating drive home from Seattle, I arrived to find that I had developed a splitting headache. The only bullets I feel like using today would be on myself, but here's twp shots anyway...
• Sunday. Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, including mine...
• Four. My pocket camera has died, and so I'm in the market for a new one. Except... I am growing increasingly disenchanted with the idea of carrying another gadget with me all the time. Enter iPhone 4, which seems to be finally bring a decent camera to iPhone. At least the sample images sure look compelling. The problem is that the new & improved camera is about the only feature that would make me want it. So now I'm conflicted... because if I upgrade my phone, I'm locked into another two-year contract with AT&T's increasingly shitty service. On the other hand, what a pretty phone it is...
I remain unconvinced that switching to Verizon or Sprint or T-Mobile would benefit me enough to abandon iPhone, as they all have issues, so I'll probably end up upgrading eventually. Apple really should create their own mobile network and eliminate this bullshit once and for all.
From what I can tell, I am home for exactly one month before having to travel again. Wouldn't it be awesome if this actually ends up being true? My aching head remains optimistic despite past history dictating otherwise.
Posted on Monday, June 21st, 2010
Posted on Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
The next two weeks are going to be nothing but work, which presents a problem for this blog. With nothing interesting going on that I can write about, what happens to Blogography? I could go on hiatus, but odds are I'd never come back. I suppose I could scour the internets for YouTube videos and other crap to post, but that's not really me. So what to do?
Looks like it's going to be the TWENTY/TWENTY meme! Every day for twenty days you get a word, and it's up to you to post something related to the word. It's not the most imaginative way to blog, but at least it's a starting point at a time when I don't have anything.
Today's word is MIRROR!
For which I'm going to post a picture I took of myself when I was in Reykjavik on my way to Stockholm on September 25th, 2003. I had been traveling and working for five solid days, and was looking a total mess (I nearly had to check those bags under my eyes at the airport). I took this photo so I could show my girlfriend what she wasn't missing...
Little did I know, things would get even worse the next night in Stockholm when I would cut my chin open in a tragic karaoke accident. Can't. Catch. A. Break.
In other news, I installed iOS version 4 on my iPhone. I can't say that it makes a lot of difference since I've got an older iPhone 3GS, but the ability to combine apps into folders makes it well worth the time to upgrade. I feel at least 223% more organized now. What more could you want in a phone? Well, except to be able to make phone calls, of course.
Posted on Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is ANCIENT!
This is kind of cool, because I'm a bit obsessed with seeing the "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World"... which is mostly impossible, because many of them don't exist any more. In an attempt to rectify this, they came up with the "Seven Wonders of the Medieval World," which is kind of crazy because some sites (like Stonehenge) vastly predate structures in the "ancient" list (like The Great Wall of China). But oh well.
Of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, I've been to the Pyramids at Giza and the site of the Statue of Zeus at Olympia (now just ruins)...
Of the Seven Wonders of the Medieval World, I've been to Stonehenge, The Great Wall of China, The Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and The Hagia Sophia...
I don't know exactly where The Taj Mahal and Machu Picchu fit into the scheme of things on these lists, but they would be my next choices to visit.
In other news, one of my favorite television shows, Tales of the Gold Monkey, was released on DVD two weeks ago and I finally got around to watching it. The good news is that it totally holds up nearly twenty years later. In fact, with the exception of rubber monkey suits in the two-hour pilot, I'd say it's just as fresh and entertaining as it was back in 1982...
Tales of the Gold Monkey is set in the South Pacific in the days prior to World War II circa 1938. The show stars Stephen Collins as "Jake Cutter," an ex-Flying Tiger who has become a cargo pilot based on the fictitious island of Bora Gora. Plenty of intrigue, espionage, and adventure ensues, and it's a lot of fun. Highly recommended.
Posted on Thursday, June 24th, 2010
I have plenty of great night shots of illuminated objects, but the first thing which came to mind when I saw today's word for the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is the Apple Store Fifth Avenue in New York City. It is beautiful in photographs, but positively captivating in person... a beacon of light and hope to Mac Whores (like me!) from around the world...
In other news, my internet has been horribly slow and choppy all night. At first I thought it was my internet connection because, let's face it, Charter Cable Internet pretty much sucks off-and-on... but investigating the problem led me to believe that it's my wireless network. When I first moved to the neighborhood, I was the only person with WiFi. Now there are eight of us broadcasting in the area. Manually choosing an empty channel, enabling "interference robustness," and restricting access by MAC address seems to have helped... but for who knows how long?
Posted on Friday, June 25th, 2010
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "Spy."
I had to really wrack my brain on this one, because it's not like I know a lot of spies to take their photographs. Eventually I decided to find something vaguely James Bond-ish in my photo library and make it work. Then, just as I was starting to look, I remembered that I had a photo that was totally James Bond... namely, my visit to "James Bond Island" in Phang Nga, Thailand...
The real name of the island is "Ko Khao Phing Kan" and the skinny rock there where the evil Bond villain, Scaramanga, mounted his Solex weapon is actually called "Ko Tapu" or "Nail Island." My brother and I took a boat there while visiting Phuket in South Thailand. It was a very cool trip, because the scenery was pretty incredible...
Wow. I really need to go back one of these days.
In other news, I had pancakes for dinner. They were crazy-delicious.
Posted on Saturday, June 26th, 2010
Dinner break! Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "closure."
Though my heart has always been with the Hard Rock Cafe when it comes to obsessive-compulsive behavior in a restaurant, I do make an effort to visit the other "theme cafes" when I run across them... places like "Planet Hollywood" and "Fashion Cafe" and "Harley Davidson Cafe" and "All-Star Cafe" and the like. It's more a habit than something I actually seek out, but it doesn't happen much anymore because most of them have closed.
With that in mind, I decided I'd go through all my old photos and make a collage of all the closed theme restaurants I've been to for today's meme.
I didn't get very far, because I came across this...
This still upsets me to this day.
The ride was pure genius. It integrated into the Back to the Future movie trilogy flawlessly, and even expanded upon the story a bit... kind of like a sequel. If that wasn't enough, it was a lot of fun. I rode both the Florida and California locations dozens of times, and never got tired of it. When I found out the attraction was closing, I even made a final trip to Universal Studios Orlando for one last ride.
The good news is that the ride is still running at Universal Studios Japan.
I don't think I'll be able to get full closure until I've seen it.
Hopefully before it's gone too.
In other news, there is a parade going by my office window. Since most major cities are having "Gay Pride Parades" in support of Pride Month, I was a little taken back at the idea that my small redneck city was progressive enough to have such a thing... until I remembered that it's actually a "founders' festival" that happens every year.
Oh well. Back to the future... and work.
Posted on Sunday, June 27th, 2010
In celebration of Pride Month for all my GLBT friends, welcome to an all-gay edition of Bullet Sunday!
• Icky. Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is being more stupid and intolerant than usual, which shouldn't surprise me... but somehow does. Because just when you think there's a limit as to how ignorant somebody could possibly get, they come along with something new to prove you wrong. In an interview in The New Yorker today, Huckabee unleashed such gems as "Male and female are biologically compatible to have a relationship. We can get into the ick factor, but the fact is two men in a relationship, two women in a relationship, biologically, that doesn’t work the same." — And yet, against all odds and despite their "biological incompatibility," gays manage to have lasting, meaningful, committed relationships just fine. Which leaves us with the real reason Huckabee opposes homosexuality... it's "icky." Well you stupid fucking tool, I feel that eating meat is "icky" so does that give me justification for forcing my personal vegetarian beliefs on the entire country? So much for the Land of the Free... where you're free just so long as Mike Huckabee doesn't feel the freedoms you choose to enjoy are icky.
• NOH8. I am happy to see that the NOH8 Campaign shows no signs of slowing down, and has released a beautiful new advertisement which shows that support for marriage equality is universal...
I hope I live to see a day where people are afforded the right to be who they are and love who they choose. The inhumanity of consenting adults being told their love is worthless and undeserving of marriage is a disgusting violation of personal liberty that sickens me to my very core.
• Platform. Heaven only knows I love Texas, but the latest turd crapped out of the ass of the Texas Republican Party has laid a stench over the entire state. It's a stunning 25-page platform summary which advocates everything from rescinding the USA's membership in The United Nations and opposing a worldwide currency, to eliminating hate-crime legislation and banning legalization of sodomy (i.e. no marriage for you, gay blasphemers!). It's a largely entertaining (if not outright hysterical) read... that totally scares the crap out of me. Given the massive anti-gay stance of the Texas Republican Party, I am fully expecting a massive number of homosexual scandals to rock the organization any minute now, as history has thus far shown.
• 20/20. Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "panic." Fortunately, this is an easy word to work into today's gay-themed Bullet Sunday, because it encapsulates so nicely the opposition to gay rights...
These people are so terrified of anybody who is different from them... so horrified at the existence of anything which is contrary to their beliefs... so frightened of that which challenges their weak faith... that they live in a constant state of panic. Unfortunately, it's a panic they are unwilling to keep to themselves, as these photos from Philly Pride 2008 so readily show.
• Fight. When it comes to equality, there isn't much more for me to say above what I've already said...
...except keep fighting the good fight, my friends!
And now I suppose I had better get to bed since I have another bone-crushing 18-hour day ahead of me again tomorrow.
Posted on Monday, June 28th, 2010
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "prayer."
It would be easy to comb through my photographs for one of the dozens of amazing cathedrals and churches I've visited in my travels, but that would be cheating a bit, because those are buildings where people pray... not really a prayer. But what is a prayer? According to the dictionary on my MacBook, it's "a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship." And since most people think of God as being an omni-present being looking down on us from heaven, I ran outside and snapped this photo...
It was a beautiful day today... definitely one worth a prayer of thanks!
Posted on Tuesday, June 29th, 2010
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "heaven."
Which is easy, because I've been there...
"Is this... is this heaven?"
"Iowa? I could have sworn this was heaven."
"Is there a heaven?"
"Oh yeah. It's the place where dreams come true."
"Maybe this is heaven.""
Posted on Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "rock."
And it's kind of strange exactly how many ways that this word can be interpreted for a photo meme like this. It's music. It's a stone. It's a motion. It's an assault of the senses. It's a lot of things.
But the first thing that came to mind was when @CopaseticBeth and @HoustonsProblem were nice enough to take me to Stone Mountain, which happens to be the biggest rock on earth. It's indescribably massively huge... and yet most of it is buried, so you're not even seeing all of it. As you look down from the cable car, people are like ants on the thing...
What probably should be first in my mind is the Hard Rock Cafe, seeing as how I've been to 128 of them around the world...
In other news... something which doesn't rock today would be Wonder Woman's new costume. Writer Michael J. Straczynski apparently desired a tougher more modern look, and wanted to address fan outrage over Princess Diana not having pockets. So what do we get? Wonder Woman as a biker chick, complete with retro 80's mini jacket, throat choker, and latex pants. It's apparently a more feminist approach to the character's look, but I'd argue that with her tits hanging out of that jacket and all those prominent ass shots, it's a giant step backwards for woman-super-hero-kind...
Wonder Woman is one of the most powerful heroes in the DC Comics Universe. She's a frickin' AMAZON WARRIOR! She's the equivalent of Marvel Comics' Thor, for heaven sakes. She is not a biker chick! Want to make her tougher? Just add armor and big-ass weapons to the iconic costume she already wears, like George Pérez did...
And then there's that giant battle-axe she carries. Would you fuck with somebody who was packing THIS...?
It doesn't get much tougher than that!
I admit that I am interested in what Straczynski has planned for the character, but don't feel the costume is that great. It's neither memorable nor iconic... and is a complete disservice to Wonder Woman's roots as an American hero. George Pérez did a masterful job of reinventing Princess Diana of Themyscira back in the 80's, but this time it smells of desperation, looking kind of cheap and sad... like she's wearing Black Canary's 80's era hand-me-downs or something.
Oh well. Something tells me it will not last...
Posted on Thursday, July 1st, 2010
You know, the next time I participate in a meme that requires using my iTunes library, somebody please remind me to delete Duran Duran's Love Voodoo. I like the song, but it's always popping up and screwing me on these meme things.
Or maybe not, because I actually have a really good voodoo story to tell. And, though you will probably not believe a word of it, I swear on my iPhone that it's all true.
Back in 1983, I won a regional high school DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) competition that sent me to the nationals competition in New Orleans. Unsupervised. This made for a very interesting trip. But, oddly enough, the most interesting thing to happen did not involve drinking, partying, or sex. It involved voodoo. Real voodoo.
It all happened while I was souvenir shopping on my last day with some friends I had made at the competition. One of the girls had found a shop advertising "love potions" and didn't want to visit alone, so I went with her. As we wandered the shop, I saw some cool writing on little scrolls that were tied to some tree bark. They looked like some kind of good luck charm or something, so I decided to buy one as a souvenir. When I asked the odd lady behind the shop counter about it, she asked me what I wanted it for. "Uhhh... what?" I queried. She rolled her eyes and said "for what you want... love, luck, protection, money... whatever you want!" I couldn't make up my mind, but then something occurred to me... "can you get rid of warts with one of those things?" The woman said "for ten dollars!" without batting an eye. That was pretty pricey for a souvenir back then, but it looked cool, authentic, and unique, so I said yes...
...mostly because I had spent the past dozen years struggling with a few warts between the fingers on my right hand. They had been frozen off, cut out, and medicated with everything the doctor could think of, but they always came back. I didn't believe in voodoo or witchcraft or whatever but, so long as I was buying a souvenir, the least I could do was curse my warts while doing so. After explaining the situation, the shop lady told me she needed some of my hair (which she cut a small bit off my head) and that I was to come back in one hour. I wasn't expecting a wait, but I agreed.
And when I returned sixty minutes later I was shown the "voodoo charm" (or whatever) she had made me, and it was wicked-cool. I was certainly going to get my $10 worth, and so I handed the money over with a smile. That's when the woman grabbed the piece she had made... AND LIT IT ON FIRE WITH A CANDLE! That's right... the souvenir I just bought was burning. Not knowing what to do, I just stood there for a minute as my ten bucks went up in smoke. Eventually the woman gave me a look that said "you're welcome!" so I left the shop dazed and confused.
The next afternoon I was shuttled to the airport so I could catch my flight home. As I was taking my seat, I happened to notice something strange about my hand. The never-ending warts were GONE! All of them. Overnight. No bullshit. No lie.
And I've been wart-free ever since. Believe it or not.
And now, since I need a photo I took for this meme, I present "Voodoo Man" from the delicious Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon...
And now I want a donut.
In other news, HAPPY CANADA DAY to my friends in the Great White North...
Hope everybody had a good one!
Posted on Friday, July 2nd, 2010
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "concern."
Right now, my main concern is that I will collapse of exhaustion before my projects are completed. There's only so many 18-hour days you can work before your brain starts to rebel. This afternoon I forgot how to double-click with my mouse. I'm pretty sure that hallucinations are just around the corner. This is a darn shame, because I've got another week of this torture before I can even think about getting back to my usual 12-hour work days.
But this is an image meme, so a run through my photos turned up this...
Which only elevates my concern that a lack of decent sleep will make me stabby.
And this would be very bad week for that...
Posted on Saturday, July 3rd, 2010
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "mystery."
Mysteries don't interest me much. Sure I like an occasional film or book with mysterious elements... but when it comes to the grand scheme of things, there's no burning desire in me to seek out mysteries and solve them. This is unfortunate, because ancient mysteries seem to be a big tourist attraction no matter where I go. Over the years I've been to a lot of so-called "mysterious places," and appreciate them as interesting remnants of the past, but that's about it.
Places like Newgrange...
And, of course, the Egyptian Pyramids...
But the mysteries surrounding these places pale in comparison to a modern-day mystery that is going on right now... how in the hell can a film which has a romantic triangle involving a choice between necrophilia and bestiality be considered "romantic?" I've never understood the fervor surrounding all this Twilight bullshit, but the whole "Team Edward vs. Team Jacob" crap has me completely baffled...
Stupidest vampire and werewolf ever. Where's Professor Van Helsing when you need him?
In other news... I like the way that my iTunes "Genius Mixes" arranges Third Eye Blind's Blue on top of Eve6's Horrorscope in order to paint in the top of the manga babe's head... WITH FIRE!!
Bwah ha ha haaa! Sweet!
Posted on Sunday, July 4th, 2010
Hooray! It's a Bullet Sunday dedicated to three people I loathe on this Independence Day!
• Larry. One of the single worst interviewers on the planet, Larry King, has announced he's retiring. I have never, ever, understood his appeal. Every time I've seen one of his shows, I'm left wondering if he even knows who he's interviewing, since half the time he seems completely bewildered as to whom he's talking to. As if that wasn't enough, he's always looked like some kind of pervy alien to me...
Here's hoping that Larry's replacement is somebody who's worth a shit. If CNN is going to get all the interesting people to interview, it would be nice if the actual interviews weere worth watching.
• Night. If there were ever an example of somebody who started with a bang, then faded to ridiculousness with an even bigger bang, it would be M. Night Shyamalan. Even though I figured out the "twist" in The Sixth Sense well before the reveal, I still enjoyed the film... mostly because of the performances which were terrific all the way around (in particular Toni Collette, who totally sold her unsellable character). I didn't necessarily think Shyamalan was genius for it, but I did think there was some talent there. Then came Unbreakable, which was a film I loved. I loved the story. I loved the performances. Sure there were some spots that did their best to sabotage the ideals of a non-super-hero super-hero film, but it was a good movie, right up until that awesome reveal at the end that is dropped on you like a bomb by Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson being all amazing and stuff...
Unfortunately, every single thing that M. Night Shyamalan has released after this film has been stupid as shit. Signs? Stupid, nonsensical shit. The Village? Stupid, predictable shit. Lady in the Water? Stupid, self-indulgent shit. The Happening? Stupid, stupid, STUPID shit. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson after The Village, but I keep going back for reasons even I don't understand.
Until now. Because Shyamalan's latest film is based on Avatar: The Last Airbender, which is one of my most favorite cartoons ever...
There is no way I am going to watch as something I care for so much is utterly destroyed by Night's hackery. And, not that I really needed to go there, but the pitiful 8% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes only confirms that it's yet another stupid as shit film in a chain of stupid as shit films. Netflix has the REAL Avatar on Watch-It-Now, so I'll just watch that instead. What is it going to take for movie studios to stop giving M. Night Shyamalan millions of dollars to crank out more crap films? Aren't there other filmmakers out there more deserving?
• Mel. I find it scary that Mel Gibson has turned into the very racists he made fun of while playing Riggs in Lethal
Unfortunately, I'm quite sure that racist tirades like Mel's recent N-word meltdown are anything but rare. Reprehensible stuff like this goes on all the time behind closed doors of all races, religions, and creeds. But Mel Gibson's celebrity status has made him somebody with influence, and this is not the kind of crap that deserves the spotlight. Hopefully these repeated offenses will be enough to bury the asshole back to obscurity.
• 20/20. Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "wrong."
Something that I've always thought is very wrong is when restaurants and butcher shops use happy animals to advertise their meats. Which basically means that the animals are inviting you to eat them... like in Restaurant as the End of the Universe. The cutest suicidal animals are in Asia...
And I don't think this needs any explanation...
And now, before I go, something mostly right...
Happy 234th Birthday, USA!
Posted on Monday, July 5th, 2010
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "promises."
About the only promise I feel like making right now is that I will never, ever eat another Hot Pockets product again. Last night after eating their Three Cheese "Stuffed Crust Pizzeria" pockets for dinner, I ended up about as sick as I've ever been. It was if my insides decided to explode non-stop from both ends, with paralyzing cramping as a bonus. I felt like I was going to die which, given the agony I was enduring, would have been a blessing...
I was still not fully recovered this morning. So I guess what they say about Hot Pockets is true. So horrible.
Anyway... this is supposed to be a photo meme, so here you go...
This is a photo of Master Fortune Teller I visited in Hong Kong Central. I asked him how long it would be before I returned to Hong Kong, to which he promised "next year."
That was in 2005.
I haven't been back since.
So much for promises.
Which is a shame, because I really like Hong Kong, and would very much like to visit again. If, for no other reason, so I could eat buttery McCorn and FRIED McPies again...
Mmmmmm... FRIED McPies!
Posted on Tuesday, July 6th, 2010
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "clocks."
Tonight I crossed a major milestone that left me with a vague sense of light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully by the end of the week my life will return to semi-normalcy. Until the next time. Which is pretty much what the past two weeks of my life have been about. Time. Mostly the lack of it as I struggle to have a life and still get all my work done.
Which brings us back to clocks. The first clock that comes to mind is, of course, Big Ben!
But I kind of fell in love with the Astronomical Clock in Prague...
Isn't she beautiful?
In other news, I am bitterly disappointed that Lindsay Lohan got away with a mere 90 days in jail and 90 days in rehab... and even more disappointed that she'll probably only serve a fraction of that time. I was really hoping for the death penalty, which is what you'd have thought she got when you see her reaction...
BUT WHAT ABOUT MY COCAINE?!?? ©2010 by Getty Images
I am sick and fucking tired of wealthy idiots and worthless whores continuously flaunting their many violations of the law and getting away with it. These morons live without consequence, which is grossly unfair to the public at large. I cannot fathom why society puts up with this bullshit and doesn't demand that the law apply equally to everybody.
Which is to say that I am horribly jealous I'm not one of these privileged persons.
Maybe one day...
Posted on Wednesday, July 7th, 2010
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "move."
I spent most of my day moving... down the highway... so this was an easy one.
Usually, I drive over the day before I have work in Spokane, spend the night, then start fresh in the morning. But time is so scarce now-a-days that I couldn't afford to do that. So I drove three hours over. Worked for 25 minutes. Ate at David's Pizza for 20 minutes. Then drove three hours back home. All in one day. It's not an ideal situation, but the work is critical and must be performed in person, so whatcha gonna do?
I constructed a rig out of an old GPS window mount to hold my iPhone. I then use a photo app that lets me take a photo with a simple tap to the screen. This allows me to easily snap photos of my journey safely, since I don't need to look at the display to shoot. Occasionally I stop and relocate the mount to my side window just to mix things up. Most of the photos end up looking like crap, because they're not composed in any way, but I do end up with enough shots to tell a story of my day...
In other news... I finally got around to watching The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo tonight...
Hands down one of the best films I've seen in quite a while.
And I'm including the awesome MacGruber, so you know I'm serious.
The Swedish film is actually called Män som hatar kvinnor ("Men who hate women" in English) but it's based on Stieg Larsson's 2005 book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In some ways, the movie title is more appropriate, because the story has some rather shocking violence in it. Fortunately, it's anything but gratuitous, and serves a very necessary purpose to the plot (a shamed journalist is hired to solve a 40-year-old murder where things aren't as they seem, and gets help from a remarkable and unexpected ally).
It also has one of the best revenge scenarios I've seen since Kill Bill.
What's amazing is that the two sequel novels in the "Millennium Trilogy"... The Girl Who Played with Fire (2006) and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (2007) have already been filmed. In fact, remarkably, all three books were filmed as a six-part mini-series for Swedish television and aired in 2009. Apparently, both sequels are coming to the USA this year as a theatrical release in bigger cities first, then on video at the end of the year. Sweet!
Due to the massive success of the books here, Hollywood is planning American adaptations, with actors like Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, and George Clooney rumored as leads. It's an interesting idea (though central plot elements seem like they'd need changing if the story is relocated domestically), but the originals are so good that it seems a bit pointless. Unless you factor in American's hatred of reading subtitles, in which case it makes perfect sense. Oh well.
In any event, if you can handle a bit of violence and can read subtitles, the movie is worth a look. If you're a Netflix customer, you can even watch it instantly!
Posted on Thursday, July 8th, 2010
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "love."
And I decided to take it to heart and show some love to myself for a change. I made plans, made time, and made decisions that benefitted me today. Sure it's selfish, but I've been working so hard for so long that I think I've earned it.
It was a great two hours.
After that, I needed to think of something other than myself to love so I could post an appropriate photo.
I decided that I love breakfast. Mostly because I so rarely have the time to have a good one. Like this order of Banana-Macadamia French Toast I had in Maui a while back...
Or this fantastic Scrambled Egg Breakfast Burrito I ate for Carb Appreciation Day a few years ago...
Or these sweet Mickey Mouse Waffles I found at Walt Disney World...
Breakfast is awesome!
But tomorrow it will be a can of Coke as I rush out the door, as usual.
If I really loved me, I'd make time for breakfast.
Posted on Friday, July 9th, 2010
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "many."
After this weekend, it's all over. I'll either complete my many projects before Monday's deadline and emerge victorious... or I will crash and burn horribly and be buried beneath the wreckage.
Except I'm mostly done, so victory is pretty much assured. I've been killing myself for the past three weeks, so victory had better be assured.
When thinking about what photos to use for today's word, I didn't even have to dig. A series of photos I took while in Shanghai immediately came to mind, as I remembered the many red ribbons decorating the city.
Most of the time they're in a wishing tree. People write their desires on a ribbon, tie it to a coin, then toss it into the tree as an offering to the nature spirit living there to grant their wish. My favorite was this beautiful golden tree at the Yuyuan Market Street...
But you can also find them tied around temples on statues, doors, trees, and such...
So many wishes.
I wonder how many of them come true?
In other news, I've decided to re-read James Clavell's Noble House for the millionth time once I'm caught up on Monday. I've been thinking about it ever since I posted that photo from Hong Kong four days ago, and posting photos from China today has only confirmed it. I never tire of reading the thing...
Ooh... time for cookies in bed!
Posted on Saturday, July 10th, 2010
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "chemistry."
Well, the valley is on fire. Again.
The blaze here near my town is mostly contained tonight, but the bigger fire up Swakane Canyon has reached 3,000 acres (and growing). And now there's a fire in Entiat as well. I can only guess somebody decided to play with leftover fireworks or something. What's worrisome is that we've still got two months of summer left, and the hottest days have yet to come. I can only hope that it doesn't get as bad as last time.
Anyway... "chemistry" was not an easy assignment, but eventually I figured out what to do...
NaCl is the chemical composition of... SALT!!
It's... The Bonneville Salt Flats!
Interestingly enough, I passed on visiting the flats once because I thought it would be terribly boring. But then I was on a road trip driving through the area back in 2001 when we decided to stop and take a look. It was surprisingly cool. I had big fun just running around on the brilliantly white surface and gazing out at sparkling salt for as far as the eye can see.
All I needed was Buckaroo Banzai's Jet Car, and my life would have been complete at that very moment.
Which raises the question: Buckaroo Banzai... great movie... or greatest movie?
Posted on Sunday, July 11th, 2010
Annnnnd... scene. It may have taken me a while longer than expected to finish up today, but I finally managed to get most everything completed before my deadline tomorrow. It has been a difficult three weeks, but I've somehow managed to survive. Barely. I don't think I have many bullets in me this Bullet Sunday, but here we go...
• hAx0rEd. After reading about a massive number of WordPress blogs being violated, I checked out the WordPress install at my other blog and found out that I was among them. After changing all my passwords, removing all the offending hacks, reinstalling all my system files, and running through my database looking for malicious code, I finally called it a night. Only to find myself hacked AGAIN five hours later. This resulted in me taking rather drastic measures to secure everything a second time but so-far, so-good.
• Realty. My new favorite show is Selling New York on HGTV. It's kind of a reality show about realty, where brokers show amazing properties that regularly cost millions of dollars. Along the way they have to deal with finicky clients, unrealistic expectations, and interesting situations that can only be found in New York City. As for me, I just like living vicariously through people who have such obscene amounts of money that they can even afford to look at real estate like that.
• 20/20. Today's (final) word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "human." And nothing quite captures humanity quite like Michelangelo's breathtaking works...
The human emotion he can coax out of a piece of stone is pretty miraculous.
• Finale. Just in case there's anybody interested in which twenty random songs from my iTunes library were responsible for my meme assignments, here they are...
Annnnnnd... I'm spent. Looking forward to better days ahead.
At least they had better be.
Posted on Monday, July 12th, 2010
I am not a big fan of the new "Dr. Who" as portrayed by Matt Smith, but when I saw that last week's episode was pretty much being billed as "Vincent van Gogh, Monster Slayer" I had no choice but to set my DVR to record it. Vincent is one of my most favorite artists, responsible for my favorite painting of all time, and the idea of seeing him doing cool stuff in Dr. Who was too much to resist.
I was not disappointed. SPOILERY STUFF AHEAD, if you haven't seen it yet!
Admittedly, my expectations were pretty low... mostly because I fully expected van Gogh to be treated as a novelty throw-away character who was done all wrong. Imagine my surprise when a real effort was made to portray him in a sympathetic and realistic manner. Kudos to writer Richard Curtis for a great script!
The episode did indeed end up being a monster hunt, but that was almost secondary to Vincent's real-life story of torment and unappreciated genius, which was the real focus of the story...
The casting was perfect, as they managed to not only find an actor (Tony Curran) who resembled Vincent van Gogh, but was also talented enough to play the more subtle intricacies of the tortured artist...
The production values were amazing, as they faithfully recreated the world that Vincent inhabited, including his room at Arles...
No detail was too small, as the set designers even added a few touches to make everything seem like Vincent actually could have lived there. Like occasional glimpses of the irises and sunflowers that inspired so many of Vincent's paintings...
And I thought it was utterly fantastic how they took the time to explain the wonderful way that Vincent sees the world. It was like an art appreciation moment...
But it was the ending that made the show so sublimely awesome.
The Doctor, feeling sad that Vincent lived a life of depression and pain in a time when his every effort as an artist was rejected, decided to show him a glimpse of the future. A quick trip in the TARDIS later, and van Gogh gets to see that one day he will be regarded as one of the world's greatest artists. It was a magical scene that righted a terrible wrong, and has to be my feel-good moment of the year so far...
And then came Vincent's moment of vindication when The Doctor arranged for him to overhear what people thought of his work...
Listening the museum curator (played by the ever-awesome Bill Nighy) talk about Vincent in a way that could have come from my own brain was an almost surreal experience...
"In a hundred words, where do you think van Gogh rates in the history of art?"
"To me, van Gogh is the finest painter in the world. Certainly the most popular great painter of all time. The most beloved. His command of color is magnificent. He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty. Pain is easy to portray. But to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world... no-one had ever done it before. Perhaps no-one ever will again. To my mind, that strange, wild man who roamed the fields of Provence was not only the world's greatest artist... but also one of the greatest men who ever lived."
Alas the ending was bittersweet but, where Vincent Van Gogh is concerned, it pretty much had to be...
The entire episode was like a love letter to Vincent van Gogh and his beautiful art, and I loved every minute. Even when he was fighting monsters. Highest possible recommendation. If you didn't catch it on BBC or BBC America, you can grab it on iTunes (well, in the US you can... other countries may vary).
Many thanks to Steven Moffat, Richard Curtis, Edward Thomas, Tony Slater Ling, and everybody else who had a hand in this wonderful episode.
Posted on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
Today I had an early start with a job in Seattle, so I drove over last night to avoid having to get up at 5:00am this morning. My thinking was that I could have a nice dinner, get a haircut, then check into a hotel and relax... getting to wake up at 7:30am instead.
It was a good plan.
Except this is me we're talking about. let's have a quick run-down of my previous five hotel visits...
And now last night?
I had just checked in and was exhausted from the drive. So I decided to take a quick nap before going out for a late dinner and retrieving my suitcase from the truck of my car. First thing I did was remove my pants so they wouldn't get wrinkled. Then I went to the bathroom.
Which is not something I would usually feel the need to share, except...
=BZZZZZZZ-CLICK= No power.
Fortunately I had dropped my iPhone on the bathroom counter, because my room was now pitch black. And peeing by the light of your iPhone beats peeing in the dark (there's an app for that). Once that was taken care of, I felt my way back to the bed and waited for the power to come back on. But it didn't. So I spent the next 20 minutes on my hands and knees using my iPhone as a flashlight to try and find my pants so I could leave.
Except I couldn't find my pants.
So for the next hour I occupied myself with my iPhone and a dying battery.
Finally, I heard people in the hallway and saw a light under the door. It was then that I did something I never thought I'd do... open the door in my underwear and ask a guy to shine his light in my room so I could find my pants.
Which were draped across the television for some reason.
Now that I had pants, I made my way out to my car so I could retrieve my suitcase. And the leftover Mrs. Fields' Cookies I bought to tide me over until dinner... which suddenly became my dinner, because it seemed way too late to go out to eat.
Then, just as I was falling asleep...
=BZZZZZZZ-CLICK= The power comes back on.
Along with every light in my room. Just try getting back to sleep after that.
After my morning appointment, I went back to the hotel so I could check out. As expected, there was no apology. No asking how my stay was. No sympathetic "sorry for the power outage last night." Nothing. Time was I'd have been offered some kind of compensation... like money off my bill... or a discount on my next stay... or a free meal coupon... or, at the very least, an apology. Because, for better or worse, even if it's not their fault, situations like this reflect poorly on the hotel and it's in their best interest to keep their customers happy.
Or at least it was.
Not so long ago.
Business travel is most decidedly not like it used to be.
But I did stop at IKEA for some fresh Cinnamon Buns and a new supply of Swedish Fish candies before driving home... so I guess my trip wasn't ALL bad.
Posted on Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
I am nursing a massive headache this evening... probably from staring at a computer screen for entirely too long today. So I'll be keeping this brief.
After tweeting about Betty White guest-starring on the season premiere of Community this Fall, and saying how much I envy Joel McHale for getting to work with her, I was surprised to see that Joel responded with "Yeah!" Right after Vahid tweeted about an exciting new experience with his colon...
I've been a massively huge fan of Joel for years (I even had my DVR record his home shopping appearance!), so this was kind of cool. The fact that he'll be appearing with the incomparable Betty White in the most excellent Community is going to be like catching lightning in a bottle. Because two huge comedic talents in the same scene? Guaranteed electric...
The new Fall television season suddenly seems so far away.
Posted on Thursday, July 15th, 2010
Today I had a very difficult decision to make and, even though I believe I made the correct one, it's been haunting me all through my day. And, I'm guessing, my night. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one to shy away from the tough decisions, but sometimes living with the consequences isn't easy, even when you're right. Especially when you're right. Because then somebody else is wrong.
And there's always another side. There's always another story. There's always another shoe on the other foot.
You just have to hope it doesn't come back to kick you in the ass.
Especially if the other shoe is a steel-toed work boot.
In any event, somebody's life is going to get easier. Somebody else's life is going to get considerably more difficult. MY life has decided to not think about it and go get chocolate-almond ice cream...
Well, I'll go tomorrow. Who eats ice cream at 11:00 at night?!?
Oh... that's right...
Posted on Friday, July 16th, 2010
Tonight while watching television I fell asleep on the couch. Thinking that my body was finally willing to catch up on some much-needed sleep, I went and laid down in my bedroom around 8:30.
And promptly woke up at 10:17.
So now, on top of still being woefully behind in sleep, my internal clock is going to be messed up because I'm wide awake, and probably won't be getting any more sleep tonight. This is resoundingly bad news, because I start a series of back-to-back-to-back-to-back trips next week, and sleep even worse when I'm traveling. But no worries... I'm sure everything will be back to normal again by the end of August.
Just before I head to Europe and get all screwed up again.
Oh well. Insomnia is a great excuse to read through the incredible Wednesday Comics hardcover collection... again...
I sure hope that DC Comics does another series of Wednesday Comics... it's the most entertainment I've had with their characters in years. Many of the creators got really creative and experimental with their strips, and the payoff is a massive bucket of pure WIN! But even better than the uniqueness of it all is the FUN. So many of the stories are just plain fun which is exceedingly rare. I'd purchase every broadsheet edition plus the hardcover collection all over again just for Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner's Supergirl strip, where every panel is beautifully rendered... and funny...
If you love comics... or even if you used to love comics but haven't read them in years... here's your book. It originally ran for 12 consecutive Wednesdays with one page of each strip per issue (Batman, Deadman, Demon/Catwoman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Kamandi, Metal Men, Metamorpho, Sgt. Rock, Strange Adventures, Supergirl, Superman, Teen Titans, and Wonder Woman) all written and drawn by top industry talents. Amazon has it for $32, which is an absolute steal when you consider it's an over-sized 11x17" volume that runs 200 pages! Recommended!
Posted on Saturday, July 17th, 2010
Hooray! Today is Disneyland's 55th birthday!
When I was a kid growing up, Disneyland was the be-all, end-all of my existence. I wanted nothing more to visit the place since the first day I heard about it. When I finally got to go, it was everything I dreamed it would be. From the minute I walked through the gate, got my hands on that booklet of ride coupons, and gazed upon the majesty of the E-Ticket, I never wanted to leave. And, in my head at least, I never did.
Since then I've returned to the park many times. With each visit a little more of the magic wears off, but the memories of that first visit still bring the magic. Even though Disneyland seems so small compared to when I was a kid. Even though there's no more E-Tickets. Even though everything is over-commercialized to the point of nausea. Even though they got rid of The Country Bear Jamboree and Adventure to Inner Space. Even though the cost of entry now requires selling body parts to be able to afford going.
I was going through my old Disneyland photos this morning and saw so many changes. My first visit, there was a bucket "Skyway" ride that you could take from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland that ran right through The Matterhorn. In the 1990's the Skyway closed, but the cables remained. Today they're gone, and the holes have been camouflaged or closed...
Wikimedia Commons inset photo by Carterhawk.
Tomorrowland has changed the most over the years. It used to be the "hard science of the future" that governed the look and feel of the land... but was changes to more of a "fantasy science of the future" in 1998. Some changes, like converting the NASA-inspired Rocket Jets to the more retro-futuristic Astro Orbiter were perfectly understandable. Other changes, like the covering over of Mary Blair's beautiful tile mural, were harder to take...
Wikimedia Commons inset photo by Carterhawk.
Some things leave only to come back again. Like the Captain EO 3D Movie. I first saw it just months after it had opened in 1986. I last saw it just weeks before it closed in 1997. Now it's making a limited engagement return as Captain EO: TRIBUTE in honor of Michael Jackson's death. Something tells me it won't hold up very well, but I still hope to see it if I can squeeze a Disney trip into my schedule...
Inset photo from EndorExpress.
But change is what keeps Disneyland interesting, and lives up to Walt Disney's vision of the park never being finished. It also gives us great new adventures like Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye and Star Tours and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage! I can't wait to see what comes next...
Happy birthday, Disneyland!
Posted on Sunday, July 18th, 2010
I am really too busy to blog, but if I don't rant about all the fake-ass crap that's been building up inside of me this week, I'll explode. So, apologies in advance...
• Faux Advertising. Am I the only one who thinks that the ads currently running for the new Kia Soul are stupid? I mean, once you get past the cuteness factor of hamsters rapping and driving around, what does it say about the car? That they're so small only hamsters can drive them?
What's odd is that the ad is being overplayed. Almost as if Kia is wanting people to get sick of it. I mean sure it's entertaining one or two times but, once the novelty wears off, it's useless. I'd argue it actually works against the brand, as the existence of this bullet would attest. But, then again, any publicity is good publicity. I guess.
• Faux HD. I was channel-surfing for some background noise yesterday while I worked, and ended up watching Kevin Smith's underrated Jersey Girl on the TBS's HD Channel. And ended up screaming the entire time because the movie was NOT presented in HD. They just took the butchered SD version and stretched it out to fit the HD width. Which is bullshit. Don't go calling yourself an "HD" station if you're not going to show movies in HD. This kind of crap drives me insane. To illustrate, here's a scene from the movie Lost in Translation where a critical conversation is reduced to lips talking...
The scene as God (and director Sofia Coppola) intended.
The scene butchered on Standard-Def television and Pan-n-Scan DVDs.
The scene butchered in Stretched-SD-Faux-HD, ala TBS
And another. This time made worse, because an entire character has been obliterated...
The scene as God (and director Sofia Coppola) intended.
The scene butchered on Standard-Def television and Pan-n-Scan DVDs.
The scene butchered in Stretched-SD-Faux-HD, ala TBS
Now, TBS is hardly the sole offender of butchering movies so stupidly, but they're one of the worst offenders. I wish the FCC would fine stations who misrepresent content. If you're an HD channel showing SD content, then don't distort the content in the hopes that nobody notices. Present it for the butchered bullshit it is...
• Faux Justice. On Monday, child-raping-piece-of-shit Roman Polanski officially got away with violating a 13-year-old girl when Swiss authorities refused to extradite the infamous sexual-predator director back to the US to face charges from 30 years ago. Ultimately, I'm upset that just because somebody directs a few critically-acclaimed films they can get away with rape... but it was a decision for the Swiss, they made their decision, and I understand that. What I don't understand is how a big chunk of Hollywood stood behind Polanski and advocated for his release. People like Natalie Portman. Penelope Cruz. Whoopie Goldberg. Darren Aronofsky. Wes Anderson. And loads more. It's just baffling. My feelings were pretty well summed-up by Chris Rock on Leno a while back when he said "IT'S RAPE! IT'S RAPE!!! in total disbelief. How in the hell do you defend that?
• Faux Hulk. Word dropped this week that Edward Norton, who played Bruce Banner in the last Incredible Hulk movie, was not going to be reprising the role in the forthcoming Avengers movie, even though he wanted to. This is monumentally stupid on so many levels. Mostly because the Hulk is a computer special effect, and Norton only appears when Bruce Banner is in the scene. And, let's face it, in an Avengers movie they're not going to spend a lot of time with Bruce Banner...
Marvel just wanted to save a few bucks, so they used some bullshit conflict with Norton from years ago so they could find a cheaper actor that will kiss their ass. You'd have thought they'd have learned something from the massive success of the Iron Man movie franchise... quality people make a quality product, and you get what you pay for. Not that I'm saying there aren't other actors out there that could do a good job, I just think it's incredibly lame that this is how Marvel has decided to approach the project. Fortunately, Edward Norton has managed to stay classy.
• Faux Righteousness. I've never understood how being Pro-Choice when it comes to abortion automatically removes you from the Pro-Life camp. I am most decidedly Pro-Life... it is the cornerstone of my beliefs. But I fully understand that this is the United States of America where people are allowed to have beliefs that are different from mine, so I am also Pro-Choice (which I explain in further detail here). Being Pro-Choice does not make me "Anti-Life" in any way, it simply makes me supportive of the ideals and freedoms upon which this country was based. And, while I don't in any way support suppressing free speech, I do feel that people should be able to make their choice free from persecution. Especially when the choice is one that's forced upon you and you're heartbroken about it.
Earlier this week, Aaron over at The Daddy Files blogged about having to take his wife to terminate their pregnancy because the baby had a rare birth defect which was causing it to slowly die inside of her. As they approached the clinic, idiotic protesters were there "doing God's work" of mercilessly abusing people by shouting things like "YOU'RE KILLING YOUR UNBORN BABY!!" Which is horrifying enough for a woman who is already scared and vulnerable... but for somebody who wants to have their baby, but can't? It's nothing less than torture. And Aaron decided to do something about it by confronting these monstrous people. I encourage you to read his story. Yes, I'm a Pro-Life-Pro-Choicer. And I am 100% for free speech. But this is not "free speech" it's harassment. It's abusive. It is literally torture. And I think it should be illegal to so ruthlessly persecute women who are already making what has to be a difficult decision THAT'S AFFORDED TO THEM LEGALLY UNDER THE LAW! These are not compassionate people of any God I know. They're evil, pure and simple.
• Faux Problem. What's surprising... but really not... is how most of the bitching about the iPhone 4 antenna problems come from people who don't own an iPhone 4, don't plan to buy an iPhone 4, and just enjoy mindlessly bashing everything Apple does because they're more fanatically obsessed with iPhone than even the people who own one. Of the dozen people I know that ran out and bought iPhone 4, not one has anything but raves for it. I would be one of those people, but Apple still hasn't released the iPhone 4 White, which is the one I want. With a lime green Bumper...
Not to belittle anybody who is having problems, but... If you don't want an iPhone 4, don't buy it. If you bought one and don't like it, bring it back. It's not rocket science.
• Faux Trust. I am more appreciative than anybody will ever know of the people who drop by here to read my crazy crap... then thank me for creating it. I write and draw and photograph things for Blogography pretty much for myself, but it's nice to know that other people like it too. The friends I've made from this website have been a true gift, and I never feel alone no matter where I end up because my online life is always there (AT&T willing). But, as swell as blogging has been to me, I admit to being afraid of it from time to time. More and more, people are treating personal blogs as if they were irreproachable news sources rather than the opinion-pieces they really are. Even here, everything you read is just one opinion with one view and one side of the story. Mine. And even though I've met dozens of people in-person and have been blogging here for years, the scary truth is that I could be a serial killer. Or one of those Russian spies. Or a pathelogical liar. Or an agent of the devil. Or anything.
The fact that I'm a genius who is always right may seem to be a reason to trust everything I do at Blogography... and I totally encourage blind trust and allegiance as a part of my quest for world domination... but I feel compelled to point out that no blog, including mine, will ever have the whole story. I would fervently hope that before acting upon or accepting anything I say or do here, people would attempt to be fully informed. It's not a matter of trust... but responsibility.
Well I certainly feel better now. Annnnd... back to work.
Posted on Monday, July 19th, 2010
Technically, I shouldn't be here.
My genetic predisposition for poor eyesight should have rendered me helpless in the face of nature and eliminated me from the gene pool a long time ago. But the advent of civilized society (and contact lenses) made it possible for the physically challenged such as myself to not only survive in life... but excel.
The problem is that the same society which allows the ocularly-challenged to thrive, also allows the mentally-challenged to run for President of the United States of America... eventually...
Now, before I get lynched for playing sexist, partisan politics here, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that I have actually defended Sarah Palin in the past. For the most part, I think she is treated unfairly by the press and those outside her fan-base. She is crucified for even the most innocent mistakes, which I think is pretty pathetic. Mostly because it distracts from bigger issues with respect to her deplorable politics, but that's just me. Yes, she's not the sharpest tool in the shed, but she's made the most of what smarts and charisma she has, and gone farther than most people could ever dream of. That demands some measure of respect, regardless of how you feel about Sarah Palin, her history, her beliefs, or her political positions (assuming you can understand what they are this week).
Today was a typical example of exactly the type of ruthless douchbaggery that people unleash when Sarah Palin makes a minor mistake on Twitter...
Now, first of all, you have to remember that Twitter only gives her 140 characters to make her point. It's a restriction even the smartest person has to struggle with, and often results in bizarre grammar and stupid TXT-SPEAK style abbreviations. So when Sarah Palin was expressing her dismay at the idea of a mosque being built near Ground Zero, it's understandable that it's going to be questionably phrased. But it's the fact that she misspelled "repudiate" that caused most of the Twitterverse to lose their mind.
Not the fact that she apparently thinks all Muslims are responsible for 9/11 and would defile the ground with their mere presence. And, if you claim to be a peaceful Muslim, you'll agree with her.
But whatever. I'm a certified, MENSA-level genius, and I make an occasional spelling mistake on Twitter. It's easy to do when you're typing on a frickin' PHONE for heaven's sake! And even if she didn't know it was pronounced/spelled "repudiate," is it really worth such venom? People knew what she meant. I mean, jeez, give Sarah Palin a frickin' break! All she had to do was make a followup-Tweet once the error was pointed out to her and say "Oops, that should have been 'repudiate' in that last Tweet!" and it would have been all good.
Instead she deleted the Tweet and reposted it with entirely different phrasing. Fair enough. That happens all the time, I'm sure. But the Twitterverse wouldn't leave it alone. They kept making fun of her for using a non-word, and she finally decided to address it...
Annnnnd... there's no way for me to defend that flash of brilliance.
What a fucking idiot.
So, I guess what she's saying here is that when you are ignorant as to a word's spelling and/or meaning and/or existence... just make shit up. Because that's what Shakespeare did!*
Something tells me she won't be running as "The Education Candidate" come 2012.
Call me an elitist snob, but I feel our leaders should be trying to elevate language and encourage people to express themselves well. Not make shit up and be illiterate. Especially when you are advocating English as this country's "National Language," because anything less would make you a hypocritical douchebag.
But that's pretty much how I see Sarah Palin in a nutshell. Crap like this only confirms it.
I am totally ready for a woman to become president.
But please don't let it be this vapid joke.
*On the contrary, Shakespeare was a master of the English language, used the largest vocabulary of any English writer in history, and consistently penned his words in clever and exciting ways. When scholars of the Shakespearean Era did add words to the English language, they were built from linguistic roots in other languages (like Latin)... or otherwise crafted with some semblance of reason and intelligence. They didn't just pull a new word from their ass out of ignorance. Especially when there's already a word with that meaning in existence! To imply otherwise is just plain stupid. But you knew that already.
Posted on Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
At some point, I lost the ability to swallow pills.
Don't ask me when, how, or why it happened... all I know is that in the past week I've ended up with a pill stuck in my throat every time I've attempted to swallow one. I then spend the next several hours eating bread and drinking water in a feeble attempt at forcing it down as it slowly disolves... leaving a godawful taste in the back of my mouth. I suppose my next step is to smash them up and mix them with apple sauce... or, better yet, vodka... to hopefully fool my body into not rejecting them.
Which pretty much regresses me to a small child.
Or a dog.
Perhaps I should hide the pill in peanut butter and put it on the end of my nose so I can lick it off. Dogs seem to love that.
I can only imagine that an inability to control when I poop will be next. Which is fine. They make diapers in adult sizes now, and I'm tired of having to get up and go to the bathroom anyway. All I need to do is find somebody to change me from time to time, and I'm good to go.
In other news nobody cares about, I unpacked my new desk lamp today! The springs in my old one had rendered it a floppy, useless mess, so I finally remembered to pick up a new one when I was at IKEA buying Swedish Fish candy last week. I went with good ol' TERTIAL because HUSVIK was too expensive and ANTIFONI was too small. The one I really wanted was MÖRKER, just because it had the coolest IKEA name ever, but it wasn't a swing lamp. I think I'll call my lamp "MÖRKER" anyway, just because I like the name. Now I wants me a GRÖNÖ to go with it.
Most of my evening was spent dutifully packing four separate bags for my FIVE upcoming back-to-back trips. I tried to get one night at home in-between all that, but the closest I could get was Seattle. So now I'll be flying back to the airport for an overnighter just long enough to swap luggage. How I'm going to manage criss-crossing the country for the next two weeks and still keep my sanity is a mystery at this point. I'm just too tired to fight it.
There's probably a pill for that, but I couldn't swallow it since I'm out of apple sauce and vodka.
Posted on Wednesday, July 21st, 2010
The drive over to SeaTac was excruciating. It always is any more. I spend most of the trip screaming my head off because too many stupid people are doing too many stupid things and my rage goes into overload. Morons driving ten miles under the speed limit. Idiots wandering all over the road (probably texting). Dumbasses cutting in front of me. It goes on and on.
But the biggest offense, by far is fucktards driving in the passing lane, as I've mentioned a couple times before...
Exactly how difficult is it for dumbass motorists to comprehend signs like these...
I mean, it's pretty self-explanatory. If you are not passing anybody, DON'T FUCKING DRIVE IN THE LEFT-HAND PASSING LANE!! And yet every damn time I have to drive to Seattle, I inevitable run into idiots who either can't comprehend this, or just don't care. I am of the serious opinion that if you have to pass one of these fuckers on the right-hand side, you should be allowed to follow them home, firebomb their car, and then impale them... by shoving the sign pole up their stupid ass...
Seriously. If you won't obey the law and learn how to drive properly, then get the hell off the road.
And my travels have only just begun...
If this is only Day One and I'm this uptight, I can't imagine what I'm going to be like when I finally return home.
Probably homicidal. Certainly insane. And there's a 50-50 chance of an armageddon-level event along the way, I'm sure.
Posted on Thursday, July 22nd, 2010
I got to the airport two hours early this morning because I wanted to have breakfast. Thanks to two screw-ups at the check-in counter* and outrageous waits at airport security**, I made it to the gate just as they started boarding. I didn't get to even so much as sniff breakfast, and ended up raiding the snack basket on the plane. If you can call Sun-Chips, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, and a Twix bar breakfast, then I guess I had breakfast after all.
The flight from Seattle to Salt Lake City was fine. Pleasant even. But the flight from SLC to San Diego had such a dense concentration of self-important assholes in First Class that it never seemed to end. I will never, ever, get over the self-entitlement so many First Class passengers have... especially since 90% of them are getting their First Class seat as a FREE UPGRADE. They are not the least bit grateful for the nicer food, personal service, and extra legroom they got AT NO EXTRA CHARGE, all they do is make demands, be rude to the flight attendants, and bitch about everything. It is horrible and embarrassing, and I don't know how people working the flight can stand it... except it's their job and they have to.
A couple days ago I heard that the new Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood*** had finally opened up. This was important news, because it meant a quick drive up from San Diego would allow me to check another property off my list, putting my Hard Rock Total at 129. Never mind that I only had two hours of sleep and was near exhaustion... nothing brightens up your day and fills you with energy more than battling L.A. traffic for hours on end!
Other than a truck accident that halted traffic entirely on I-5 near Norwalk, and the usual gridlock on the 101 into Hollywood, the drive up wasn't bad at all. 2-1/2 hours, as expected. The Hard Rock Hollywood is one of the "new-style" (i.e. "boring") cafes with entirely too little rock memorabilia and waaayyy too much blank wall space, which sucks. But the staff was great... AND I got to have dinner with Amanda, which was awesome!
The drive BACK, however, was horrendous. I waited to leave until 6:30, hoping most of the southbound traffic would be over by then. For reasons I can't fathom, it still took me 3-1/2 hours to get back to San Diego. That's better than the 3 hours 52 minutes Google Maps was predicting, but still. Argh. Driving in SoCal is an exercise in patience and futility. When I was working here over a decade ago, I adapted to the rhythm and flow of SoCal traffic fairly easily. Mostly because you have to. If you don't, you go insane. Today I just can't adapt anymore. Even when you see funny-crazy-cool stuff on the road that only seems to happen in L.A. — IT'S DOMO-KUN!!!
One thing that never seems to change in SoCal driving is the speed. I love how I'll be cruising down the highway in a pack of cars, then run across some people driving too slow, forcing everybody to deaccellerate. That's when I start screaming "OH, COME ON!!!" and get all pissed off because traffic is slow, only to look down at the speedometer and see that the "slow" I'm now going is 80 miles per hour. It's bizarre how I seem to lose all sense of speed in SoCal... except when I'm forced to slow down.
Now I suppose I really should get some sleep. But first it's time to update my travel map (for people who asked, the greyed-out States are States I haven't been to yet)...
Tomorrow... Comic Con...
* NOTE TO AIRLINES... The whole point of a digital boarding pass is that there's no paper involved. Making your customers print out a paper boarding pass defeats the entire purpose, and is beyond stupid. If you're not going to deal with digital boarding passes... STOP OFFERING THEM!! Especially if you are going to make your customers stand in line twice to get something they shouldn't need in the first place.
** I am super serial here... any wait longer than 30 minutes to clear airport security is complete and total FAIL! Any wait over an hour is categorically absurd, and somebody needs to get fired.
*** The Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood is actually the new Hard Rock Cafe Los Angeles on Hollywood Boulevard... not to be confused with the long-since-closed Hard Rock Cafe Los Angeles in Beverly Hills or the still-open Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood in Universal City or the hotel and cafe in Hollywood, Florida. Yes. being a Hard Rock fan is not always easy.
Posted on Friday, July 23rd, 2010
And so here I am at Comic-Con International 2010 or, as I refer to it, "The Bastion of Cruelty."
Make no mistake, Comic Con is not fun. At least, not the kind of fun you're used to. It's fun in an entirely different way, where the suffering is what makes it fun. Because once you've endured the crowds, the endless lines, the expensive food, and the many opportunities for bitter disappointment... what you have left is fun that you've earned. Which makes it just that much sweeter, of course.
I wrote in-depth about my Comic-Con experience when I was here last time, and this year is more of the same, so I won't bore you with another extensive recap... just a few things I took away from my half-day at the event...
• As expected, AT&T's service was complete and total shit. A lot of the time I couldn't get even remotely useable bandwidth speeds, which was still better than the many times I couldn't get service at all. Never mind that 3G service was absent more often than not and I was kicked back to EDGE, a huge chunk of my battery was spent just trying to get something... anything I could work with so that I could TXT or make a call...
Now, granted, 150,000 people all in one spot is bound to overload a cellular network, but I wasn't expecting things to be this bad. I wonder if Verizon and T-Mobile were in the same boat? Probably.
• Just like last year, Comic-Con was drastically oversold. There's just entirely too many people, which means that even if you stand in a line for hours, you're still not guaranteed that there will be room for you in the venue. I sure wish that the people running this thing would find a way to make this more fair so you don't wait in line for nothing... though I suppose if they eliminated lines and went with tickets or something, then all the people in line would be clogging up the show floor, so maybe that's why they don't.
• While I am excited about a number of movies being promoted at the Con, including Scott Pilgrim, which is based on a comic I really like, it's TRON: Legacy that has me freaking out. I loved the original film, and the sequel looks like it will absolutely amazing. If nothing else, the new LightBikes are cool...
• Just like two years ago, I had three comics people I wanted to see on the dealer floor. Eric Shanower, Sergio Aragonés, and Brandon Peterson. Shanower was easy to find, still promoting Age of Bronze, his epic retelling of the Trojan War in comic book form. Aragonés, whose work in MAD Magazine I've loved since I was a kid, was signing his latest Groo The Wanderer collection...
Peterson I COULD NOT FIND! Not from the booth number he gave at his website (which, so far as I could tell), didn't exist. Nor from his description of the area he'd be at. He had a new artbook I wanted to get too. Bummer.
• Speaking of comic books... it truly shocks me when I walk by the booth of some titan of the industry and see that nobody is there to see them. They've long since been replaced by some hot new talent, and now they've been forgotten as if their work doesn't matter. I guess it's just a facet of the industry, like all industries, but it just doesn't seem right.
• The costumes this year were better than ever, though I'm ashamed to admit that my favorite costume I saw wasn't super-hero related. It was Dr. Rockzo from Metalocalypse! "MY NAME IS DR. ROCKZO! I DO COCAINE!!
It's more fun to see people dressed up outside the convention. Like your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, walking down the street...
• After four hours, I had as much as I could take, and decided to get as far away from the crowds as possible. I hadn't been to the San Diego Zoo in decades, so that seemed like a good place. It's a remarkable zoo... probably the best I have ever seen... and it just keeps improving. The sheer volume of animals you can see it pretty impressive...
And lest we forget... they have THE BUCKETS OF DEATH available...
And that's pretty much it. I met up with quite a few friends and bloggers along the way, which was truly the highlight of my Comic-Con experience. I'd take that over meeting movie stars and comic book heroes any day.
All that's left is a redeye flight across the country, and my day is done...
Posted on Saturday, July 24th, 2010
When I arrived in Atlanta this morning after my redeye flight I was pretty dead. By the time I made it to my hotel I was mostly dead. The only part of me that wasn't dead was the part that was allergic to something in my room. Finally, after tossing in bed for a half-hour being all miserable with a sore throat and runny nose, I decided to take a bunch of antihistamines and see if I could catch up on some sleep.
I woke up five hours later at 2:00.
And by "wake up" I actually mean "sleepwalked," because it took at least an hour before I was able to function again.
It's a delicious "Watermelon Wheat" beer that was a special at The 5 Seasons. A fantastic way to take the edge off a hot Atlanta day!
And now, since I have to be up early for work tomorrow morning, I must bid you adieu.
My travel map for this trip now looks like this...
Posted on Sunday, July 25th, 2010
Here I am in the Peach State of Georgia, where it's time once again for Bullet Sunday. Apparently I'm now in an area which is not included in the "97% of Americans" that AT&T's cellular network professes to cover, so Bullet Sunday is about all I got! Thank heavens for WiFi.
• Weather! Hot with a chance of hot humidity and hot thunderstorms? Well, let's just say I don't plan on spending a lot of time outdoors while I'm here...
• Wheaton! While at Comic-Con, I posted a photo of Wil Wheaton to my Flickr stream. After responding to @Whall making a Stand By Me joke about it, I mentioned that I had met Wil Wheaton twice, and wasn't going to stand in line for two hours to meet him again. For this, I got called "bullshit" on by some random stranger, and was told that "Standing in line at a Star Trek convention for a two second autograph doesn't count as 'meeting Wil Wheaton'."
Well, whatever... while I do have an autographed photo of Wesley Crusher that I was happy to stand in line for, that's not what I was talking about. Where I "met" Wil Wheaton was while he was an evangelist touring with NewTek, and it was hardly a "two second autograph." In fact, all I did was talk to him, I didn't even get an autograph at all. Or a photo. Though Wheaton did appear in the background of one of the photos I took of Kiki Stockhammer...
Bazinga! I'd mention that I stood in the airport security line out of San Diego with Paul Sr. of West Coast Choppers (from the TV show American Chopper) yesterday, but you probably wouldn't believe that either. Apparently I have nothing better to do than sit around and invent stories of chance encounters with famous people.
• Waffles! There is not a single Waffle House in all of Washington State (the closest is in COLORADO!), which means the only time I get to eat at one is when I'm traveling. This sucks, but at least I have something to look forward to...
The food is (relatively) inexpensive, tastes good, and available 24 hours. What more could you ask for?
• Wobble! When I was at the San Diego Zoo the other day, I was wandering through the new Elephant exhibit and came across an elephant dancing to some music that was playing nearby (you can barely hear it in the background there, as my iPhone doesn't have the best microphone)...
Rock on, Tantor! Though a part of me is kind of sad at the idea that he might be wobbling around because he's bored in his cage and doesn't have anything better to do. San Diego Zoo is better than most at providing nice habitats for their animals to live in, but it's still a cage at the end of the day.
• Watch! They keep adding cool bits to the TRON: Legacy trailer, which only makes me want to see the film more than ever. December is so far away...
They've youthed Jeff Bridges! And did a really good job of it! I hope the movie lives up to even a fraction of the hype that's building around it.
• Web! I hope that Flash videos in my previous two bullets didn't crash on you! For anybody who says that Mac users who whine about Flash are stuck in the past, and Flash has been much improved and runs perfectly on the Mac, I beg to differ. It's still the bug-ridden pile of bloated FAIL! it's always been, and still crashes all the time, as I can testify to because it happened again just today...
Flash just can't die fast enough.
And now... I guess I really should get back to work.
Posted on Monday, July 26th, 2010
When captured by the enemy, soldiers are advised to sleep and eat whenever they can because they never know when either (or both) might be denied them.
While I would never compare my job to being a prisoner of war, the above advice has come in handy from time to time with my work (See? Graphic designers have it rough, people!). Well, not the food part, but definitely the sleep deprivation. I don't sleep that much to begin with, but when you're on-call for 31 hours straight and are guaranteed to be called to the job site several times... well, even a little sleep is hard to come by. So I grab an hour here and 20 minutes there, and try to be sane and somewhat comprehensible when reporting for duty.
But the real trick is getting rested enough that you feel comfortable driving. It's one thing to be sleep-walking on the job... it's quite another to be sleep-driving in a car.
Especially when you're in rural Georgia where wild deer love prancing around the roadways.
Last night on the way to Waffle House for a midnight dinner, a deer was standing in the middle of a dark country road with a 55 MPH speed limit. Even though I was driving just under 50 MPH because it was so dark, this still necessitated my slamming on the brakes to avoid getting a venison hood ornament. The deer, however, wasn't impressed and wandered off at a leisurely pace (Darwinism takes a vacation!).
On the way back, I had slowed to 45 MPH "just in case" and nearly hit TWO deer crossing that same road. Quick braking and a hard swerve avoided tragedy, but left me with an adrenaline rush which made getting any kind of sleep impossible for the next several hours.
But don't worry. When my job finally ended this afternoon, I managed to get three whole hours sleep before hacking together this blog entry, so I guess I'm back to normal again. Or as normal as a person can be who is an insomniac that craves human blood.
I should totally be a vampire.
Or, more appropriately, a zombie vampire!
A zombie vampire that eats deer who stand in the road!
Guess I should pack my suitcase now, seeing as how I'm leaving early tomorrow morning and all...
Posted on Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
Whee! I'm in Oklahoma!
In my effort to keep up with any new US & Canada Hard Rock properties as they open, I'm here to visit the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa on my way back to Seattle. It's pretty much a raging disappointment, but that's probably my own fault for hanging on to Hard Rock memories of yesteryear instead of the reality of Hard Rock today.
All in all, a pretty crappy day to be me...
Time to update my travel map for this trip...
Ooh! Look at that! I've filled in a State I've never been to before! Just four more to go!
For anybody interested in my thoughts on the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa and the state of the Hard Rock chain in general, I've put that in an extended entry. For everybody else, good night!→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
This morning my plan was to get up early, have a nice breakfast, gamble a little at the Hard Rock Casino Tulsa, head downtown to check out a museum or two, then walk around for a bit and have a late lunch/early dinner.
Instead I ended up in Kansas.
When looking at my map of "States I've Failed to Visit," it seemed crazy not to make a run for the Kansas border when it's just an hour away. So I made a decision to zip up I-75 to the little town of Caney, then head back. Wondering if there was anything worth seeing along the way, I consulted Roadside America and saw... THE FIRST SPACE MONKEY!?!
As anybody who has followed this blog for even a small amount of time knows, I have no small obsession with monkeys (in general) and monkeys in the space program (specifically), so this was a no-brainer. Besides, it was just 40 minutes farther than Caney in the city of Independence, Kansas!
But first I had to get out of Oklahoma alive.
I've been to a lot of places on this earth, and always considered Detroit, Michigan to be the world's most dangerous place to drive. Many people in Detroit drive very aggressively and very fast, which makes motoring anywhere near the city like a scene from Deathrace.
Tulsa has all that beat, because people here are just plain crazy drivers...
Keep in mind that all of the above happened within 30 minutes of leaving my hotel.
Anyway, I made it to the Kansas border without incident and was zipping past the town of Caney when I saw signs for... Little House on the Prairie? How could I not check out the actual place that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about for that crappy TV show? (No, seriously, don't skip that link... read this crap!) Turns out it's for real, with a reconstructed "little house" and everything...
To be honest, it was kind of a shithole (and filled with bees!). It wasn't really "Little House on the Prairie"... it's more like "Teeny-Tiny House on the Prairie." I have no idea how five people lived there. But, then again, it's not like I could build a house, so kudos to Pa Ingalls for his ingenuity.
Then, at long last, it was time for the Ralph Mitchell Zoo at Riverside Park in Independence, Kansas!
Right at the entrance of the park is "Monkey Island" which is where "Miss Able"... America's first Space Monkey to return to earth alive... was born. It kind of makes "Little House on the Prairie" look like a dream-house, but I'm guessing the monkeys don't mind it, since they were crawling all over the place...
And that was pretty much it. I wandered around for a while, then headed back to Oklahoma to catch my flight. The zoo itself is nice, though all the small cramped cages makes the place look downright barbaric compared to the San Diego Zoo I was at just five days ago. But it did have peacocks...
But the best news? My map now has another state filled in! Heaven only knows when those final three will be checked-off, but I'm making progress...
Annnnnnd Tulsa's airport makes you PAY for internet, so I guess this will have to post tomorrow when I get to Seattle. You know... SEATTLE... where airport internet is FREE just like God intended...
Posted on Thursday, July 29th, 2010
I'm not supposed to be in Chicago now. I'm supposed to be at home, having driven there after landing in Seattle last night. But plans change, so here I am for a couple days of work and one day of goofing off in the city (which sounds like a fair trade-off to me!).
Of course, I almost didn't make it into Seattle last night thanks to multiple lapses in stupidity by airlines, airports, and people, so there's always that.
It started off with the inbound flight to Tulsa being late. Which meant we boarded late. Which meant we took off very late because A) There was some confusion over a gate agent letting a baby onboard with their own seat assignment, and B) We sat on the tarmac forever for no good reason anybody could figure out.
So, there we were, arriving into Minneapolis a half-hour late. You would think that the airline would have a team of people ready to handle the incoming flight so that they could get people offloaded and onwards to their connecting flights as soon as possible.
But that's not what happened, of course. Not only did they not expedite a damn thing for our flight... they didn't send somebody down to operate the jetway! This meant we had to sit on the fucking place for an additional 15-20 minutes while somebody pulled their head out of their ass and made it possible for us to leave. Maybe.
Because we arrived allllll the waaaaayyy down at GATE A-14...
And, now that I'm running 45 minutes late to make my 1-hour connection, can you guess where my connecting gate was? Can you? Come on... take a guess!
Here it is!
GATE F-14. The furthest possible gate away in terms of both time and distance. And since the tram that runs the length of the airport is practically useless for getting to the F-gates in a hurry (unless you get there just as a train arrives), you're only shot is to RUN ACROSS THE ENTIRE FUCKING AIRPORT... WHICH I DID!!
And nearly died doing.
Such a joke. It was like a comedy errors at amateur hour in the airport.
But I made it (barely) just in time for them to close the doors...
...so we could then sit on the tarmac for 30 minutes.
Anyway... after landing, I dropped by my car at the parking lot just long enough to trade a suitcase full of dirty clothes for a suitcase full of clean clothes, then headed to my hotel for a blissful six whole hours before returning to the airport this morning.
Where my flight loaded on time. Left on time. And landed on time.
Don't ask me how. My tavel map now looks like this...
Posted on Friday, July 30th, 2010
Last night I went to bed at midnight.
This morning I woke up at 4:30am so I could drive four hours to Southern Illinois for an appointment.
This has made for quite a long day. But the good news is that I saw something interesting. While driving through the town of Teutopolis, I noticed that the high school's team mascot is... "The Wooden Shoes." No, seriously, it totally is. This has to be the best school mascot I've seen since Astoria Oregon's "The Fighting Fisherman." Though I have to say if it were the "Fighting Wooden Shoes," it would be an order of magnitude higher in awesomeness.
Since I know nobody would believe me without proof, I took a picture...
My theory is that the town was founded by a bunch of crazy drunken Dutch persons.
Or perhaps one drunken DutchBitch...
Posted on Saturday, July 31st, 2010
Since I couldn't get a flight home today without paying a fortune, I'm flying home tomorrow on the cheap. I thought the whole "Saturday Night Stay" price-reduction scenario had died off in the airline industry, but apparently it's alive and well. Though it's not like I'm going to complain about having a free day in Chicago, which is one of my favorite places. Especially since the city is full of friends that I can hang with when last-minute travel plans drop in my lap.
My day pretty much went like this... work, take a shower, work, put on clothes, work, lunch and LEGO hunting in the city, work... movies.
The strange part here is the movies, because I so rarely have time to see them.
And I hate going to the theater.
Because going to the movies pretty much sucks ass anymore. People talking. People texting. People taking calls. People sneaking in noisy bags of Doritos and other distracting crap. People in general, really. Because people are stupid, rude, and suck ass.
But my hotel was near Muvico, which is supposedly a much better class of theater, and so I thought my problems were solved.
First I saw Angelina Jolie in the post-cold-war spy-thriller Salt, which I enjoyed quite a lot. It's kind of a cross between No Way Out and James Bond in a nicely stylized film that keeps the action moving. Sure there are entire sections that were downright silly in their implausibility, but overall I thought it held up pretty well. At the very least, it was entertaining, which is about all you can ask for in a movie.
I saw Salt in Muvico's "regular" theater. It's the same as most theaters, but the seats and views are a bit nicer. That didn't change the fact that I ended up staring at glowing mobile phone screens throughout the whole damn movie...
Next I saw Inception, which is a clever Christopher Nolan film that proves his previous successes with Memento and The Dark Knight were no fluke. And though I usually don't care for Leonardo DiCaprio, I thought Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page more than compensated with their excellent performances. The story involves corporate espionage via "shared dreaming" which is an interesting concept to begin with, but Nolan (who both wrote and directed) took it to the next level by tossing in a nice dose of reality-bending twists. The result is both interesting and entertaining, which is a rare surprise. This is not to say that the film is flawless... there were more than a few problems with the internal logic of How Things Work, and Ellen Page's character was a laughable catch-all for any story exposition or filler that Nolan needed to keep things moving. But still... a solid effort, and well-worth your valuable time.
I saw Inception in Muvico's PREMIUM theater. Here you get a huge comfy seat and free popcorn for the bargain price of $20. Or at least it would be a bargain if it lived up to the hype. The problem is that the theater has other people in it...
And why do I go to movies in the theater again? Even the so-called "premium" experiences such ass.
Guess I'll just start waiting for Blu-Ray.
Posted on Sunday, August 1st, 2010
Proving that I am just not lucky enough for one damn thing to ever go right when I travel, my flight out of Minneapolis was delayed three hours. So I got to spend five hours at MSP playing Dungeon Hunter on my iPhone. And while there are certainly worse ways to spend five hours, I'd rather just go home.
Because once I land, I have a two-and-a-half-hour drive over the mountains.
Which finishes off my travel map like this...
And now I just want to catch up on about thirty hours of missing sleep from the past twelve days.
Thanks to the miracle of modern-day pharmaceuticals, I'll give it my best shot.
Posted on Monday, August 2nd, 2010
All I wanted was a White iPhone 4.
But Apple keeps delaying the shit over and over and over again, so I finally just bit the bullet and went down to the AT&T Store to place my order for a Black iPhone 4. I need it to replace my rapidly dying pocket camera (which is currently being held together with rubber bands), and the idea of having one less thing to carry is very appealing to me.
While I was there, I stood next to another customer who brought forth a very interesting scenario.
Let's say you are upgrading your phone. Let's further speculate that you ask the cell phone store employee to transfer all your ringtones and photos and whatnot to the new phone so you don't have to mess with it.
Now let's say that amongst the photos from your phone's camera there are a number of pornographic shots.
How do you handle that??
I would die immediately. Struck dead right on the spot... not so much from embarrassment, but from the realization that I was stupid enough to leave nasty photos on a camera I handed over to a stranger.
But today I learned there's a way other than death in five easy steps...
Apparently lying solves everything. Even when the lies contradict each other.
You really do learn something new every day.
Posted on Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010
Reading back through my blog entries these past couple weeks, I'm reminded just how unlucky a traveler I am. Anything that could possibly go wrong, usually does go wrong. Delayed flights? Check. Missed flights? Check. Cancelled flights? Check. Lost luggage? Check. Vomiting co-passengers? Check. Whatever horrible thing you can think of? Check. Been there, done that. Many times.
But through all the pain and suffering, at least I could take solace in the knowledge that those two crazy kids Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston finally got back together and will be married at last!
But then... BLAM! Just minutes later, they're separated again and the wedding has been called off!
Oh well. At least I still have the marriage of Herpes Simplex One and Herpes Simplex Two to reignite my faith in humanity and maintain my peace and happiness in the face of adversity!
What? What's that?
Son of a bitch! Not Spencer and Heidi too?!?
What have I done to deserve this?
After my non-stop battle with misfortune, I have come to the only possible conclusion: God is totally messing with me...
I wish He would unleash His "Divine Love" on somebody else for a while.
P.S. Any resemblance between myself and The Almighty is purely intentional.
In other non-theological news... why is it that every company seems to have shitty customer service anymore?
For reasons unknown, I started receiving paper bills in the mail from Charter Cable a couple months ago. It's a mystery because I set up automated payments and paperless billing. Usually, I just ignore the statements when they arrive, but thought I'd open the one that wasn't as thick as a usual bill. Turns out it's a past due notice. So I call to find out what the hell is going wrong, and am told that they don't know... sometimes automated payments don't go through. But they verify my account is correct and volunteer to credit the late fee on my next bill (apparently they can't credit on the bill they fucked up on)... but only IF I pay my late balance immediately.
Except I can't pay for their screw-up with the service rep I'm already on the phone with unless I pay $1.99 fee.
Yes, that's right. THEY fuck up and I have to pay for it.
Except I'd rather never watch television again than pay for their bullshit, so I use their crappy automated system.
I'd use their website, but it won't let me login.
I'm guessing God has a part-time job on the web development team at Charter Cable.
What other possible conclusion could there be?
Posted on Wednesday, August 4th, 2010
So... the wholly abhorrent Proposition 8 initiative in California banning same-sex marriage was found to be unconstitutional, and an injunction against it was issued by a federal judge.
There will, of course, be people who are outraged at the decision.
There are, of course, people who believe that allowing two people of the same sex to marry is "redefining marriage as it has existed throughout the millennia across all cultures, races, and societies and defeats the purpose of marriage which is to produce the optimal family unit for having children."
I honestly don't give a shit.
I'll redefine a WORD over making somebody redefine WHO THEY ARE any day.
Because this is The United States of America, and if two consenting adults want to be married they should get to be married. That's what our vaunted "freedom" is all about. The government has no fucking business dictating that somebody has to deny their sexuality in order to marry. They just don't.
It's not human. It's not fair. It's not right.
And it's certainly not America.
Because allowing two people of the same sex to marry does nothing... nothing... to take away from the people who choose to believe exclusively in "traditional marriage." Those people can still have marriage. They don't have to redefine a damn thing to keep what they have. They don't even have to personally acknowledge same-sex marriage if they don't want to. Just so long as they do acknowledge that their personal views don't get to redefine other people in a country which is supposed to guarantee life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for ALL its citizens. They don't have that right. They just don't.
And when I hear people say... "Just because I don't believe in same-sex marriage doesn't mean I'm a hater!"... the only thing that runs through my head is this...
You kinda are...
Because an aversion to somebody so intense that it strips them of their right to decide for themselves who they marry and forces them to adhere to a set of rules which makes them unequal in the eyes of the law is the very definition of hate, plain and simple.
a: intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.
b: extreme dislike or antipathy, loathing.
Merriam-Webster Online. 4 August 2010
It's time to end the hate...
And to those who still wallow in it, bring on your inevitable appeal.
Because even more inevitable is the eventuality that this country will one day move past your absurd, antiquated, and ridiculous bigotry to fulfill the promise of a nation built on ideals of freedom.
I think we're due.
Posted on Thursday, August 5th, 2010
Posted on Friday, August 6th, 2010
This afternoon I headed over to the coast because my sister's friend had scored tickets to the Natalie Merchant concert at the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in Woodinville. As a long-time fan of both her solo career and her work with 10,000 Maniacs, this was a fantastic opportunity... especially considering that she hadn't released a new album in the past seven years.
Natalie's new CD, Leave Your Sleep is a very interesting experiment into converting poetry about childhood from 19th and 20th century writers into music. And while some songs definitely succeed more than others, the sheer variety of musical styles and subjects are both mind-boggling and beautiful. First she's singing about how one explains war to a child, and then the next song she's singing about crazy-ass flavors available at a fantastical ice cream shop. It's a very interesting work, and is pure Natalie Merchant from start to finish...
And while Natalie's performance was beautiful, as expected, the concert itself did have some problems. Previously when attending a show at Chateua Ste. Michelle, I sat in the seated area, which is just like any other concert you might attend. This time we sat behind the seating area where people spread blankets and watch the concert picnic style... enjoying bottles of wine and dinner while they watch. Unfortunately, the more informal "seating" in the picnic area encourages people to goof around and let their kids run ape-shit, blocking your view... but, even worse, people won't shut the hell up while you're trying to listen to the music. At one point I was really enjoying the witty and complex lyrics to Bleezer's Ice-Cream when some drunken douchebag started screaming at everybody to get up and dance, ruining the moment completely. After that some bitch behind us started going on and on and on about selling her house, which pretty much ruined the next two songs. It was so discouraging, we actually packed up our crap and left a little early because there was little point in staying if people were just going to talk the whole damn time.
But Natalie tried to maintain good humor throughout, often talking to audience members who walked in late by updating them as to what songs they missed: "...Ooooh... then I sang Gold Rush Brides... I'll bet you're really sorry you missed that one!" and "That hot dog looks delicious. I'll bet it goes great with the wine!"
Overall, a great night... just not as good as it could have been had people shut the fuck up and minded their kids.
Posted on Saturday, August 7th, 2010
In-between work, I've somehow managed to sandwich-in a short trip to Sacramento so I can say a quick hello to
I haven't seen her in months but, now that she's moved from Orlando to Sacramento, she's just a one hour and fifteen minute flight away... and still fabulous no matter which coast she's calling home...
I, on the other hand, am not so much fabulous as I am dead-tired.
It would be nice if I could sandwich-in some sleep.
Posted on Sunday, August 8th, 2010
It's Bullet Sunday from sunny Sacramento!
• Lake Tahoe. Since Sacramento doesn't have a Hard Rock Cafe anymore, Foodiddy and Phister were kind enough to take Hilly-Sue and I to Lake Tahoe for a quick lunch. And while it may seem insane to drive
Sadly, the companion "wood cabin" cafe at Whistler was closed, so I'm hoping that the Tahoe property stays open for a good long time.
On the way back, actual hail was falling, which was surprising to say the least (is this not summer?). But we survived and made it back for Pinkberry for dessert, so I guess it's all good.
• Summertime Treat. Speaking of Pinkberry, they have a special frozen yogurt flavor running for summer... watermelon! It's worth grabbing a taste, even if you can't be wooed away from your regular favorite (like me!)...
• No Parking. Yesterday as Hilly and I arrived at the mall so I could be terrorized by Sephora, we were cruising the parking lot looking for a spot when something so mind-bogglingly stupid happened that I still don't think it was real. Some stupid bitch had COMPLETELY PASSED a parking spot that was being vacated, and decided she wanted it... even though SHE HAD COMPLETELY PASSED IT! So she sits there. Blocking the person trying to leave, and us, and the person behind us. Then she inches backwards as if to tell us that she wants us to back up, except there's somebody behind us. We CAN'T back up, even if we wanted to. So she sits there. And sits there. And sits there. Eventually the person behind us backs up so we can move. I was fucking fuming. Hilly moved because she was running low on gas. And she's apparently a lot more diplomatic than I am. Because I would NOT have moved. I don't give a shit if I ran out of gas. I don't care if a meteor was going to strike. I don't care if I was having a heart attack and needed immediate medical attention. There is no fucking way... NO WAY AT ALL I would have moved out of the way for that rude dumbass piece of shit. If you PASS a parking spot, GAME OVER! Go find another on. Don't block people and force them to move for your stupid ass.
It's times like this that I remember why I used to have extreme anger management issues. People are stupid, rude, selfish, and wholly intolerable. And all I wanted to do was beat the ever-loving shit out of this moron with a crowbar for being such a huge asshole. She totally deserved it and, after having to deal with her bullshit, I deserved to give it to her.
• Wave Goodbye. This past week Google announced that they were shutting down Google Wave... assumably due to the huge level of non-interest by just about everybody. Google's concept of real-time communication was pretty nifty, but any SUCCESSFUL new technologies tend to be dead-simple to use (ala Twitter), and Wave was too far-reaching and complex to get there. So now we all sit and wait for the Next Big Thing... and hoping it won't be limited to 140 characters or less.
And now... I really should get some sleep. For once my flight isn't at 7:00am, so here's hoping...
Posted on Monday, August 9th, 2010
Since Muskrat's time in The Emerald City is short, Whit and I attempted to do a whirlwind tour of the most popular Seattle tourist spots, including wandering the Pike Place Market, going to Ivars for dinner (with some very angry seagulls), getting a coffee at the first Starbucks, riding the monorail to the Pacfic Science Center, and (of course) going up the Space Needle...
The evening ended at Von's... a Seattle classic bar since 1904. We started with beer, but when a $4 Manhattan hit the Big Wheel of Magical Drink Specials, we couldn't resist...
Not a bad way to kill an evening!
Posted on Tuesday, August 10th, 2010
After a long morning of work... lunch with my sister... then more work... it was time to meet up with Muskrat again for dinner in Seattle.
Being a little selfish, I do what I always do when guests are in town, take them to MY favorite restaurant, Ray's Boathouse (as I've detailed on my Secret Seattle Restaurants Page... shhhhh!). The views and food really can't be beat, and I highly recommend the place to anybody looking for an amazing meal experience in Seattle. Especially at sunset...
After that, we went to West Seattle's Alki Point so Muskrat could take a look at that picture-postcard-perfect Seattle Skyline view. Having photographed it dozens of times, I decided to play around with the "Hipstamatic" app on my iPhone to see what it would pick up. Generally I avoid Hipstamatic because it's so overused anymore, but there's no arguing with the freaky and wonderful results...
Of course, no photo can capture the experience of being there, which is why Alki is one of Seattle's "must-see" travel experiences.
And speaking of travel experiences... can I just say that Steven Slater is totally my hero now?
I am absolutely not kidding. While I am sorry he had to go through a melt-down while on the job, I am so sick and tired of the numerous abusive douchebags on planes anymore that ANYTHING which draws attention to these assholes is a good thing. If you're going to fly, be respectful and considerate and FOLLOW THE FUCKING RULES... OR DON'T FUCKING FLY!
I would never have the patience to deal with plane passenger dickwads for five minutes... let alone 28 years... so congratulations Mr. Slater for lasting this long. And especially for going out in such style when you'd finally had enough.
It's only a matter of time before a flight attendant has taken more than enough of people's shit and the killings begin. I, for one, can't wait. Maybe if being a fucking asshole could get you killed, people wouldn't be fucking assholes anymore.
Sure it's wishful thinking, but dreams can come true!
Posted on Wednesday, August 11th, 2010
Apparently, we have more tax dollars than we know what to do with here in Washington State.
Yesterday Seattle pressed the "on button" for their new "Smart Highway" project. In theory, it sounds fantastic. Highways which adapt to traffic conditions and help to regulate congestion by controlling the speed and position of vehicles on the road.
These new "Smart Highways" interact with reconfigurable signs like this...
In the above example, there's been a car collision, and the right two lanes have been closed. In preparation for this, there were instructions to merge earlier up the road...
And even earlier up the road, the traffic was slowed in order to make the merge happen more smoothly... and also to compensate for the loss of two lanes.
See? Fantastic. In theory.
In practice? Not so much.
Because the big glaring flaw in all this is that drivers aren't going to give a shit about any of it. People are going to wait until the last second before they merge (as always). People are going to ignore the reduced speed limits and go as fast as they can (as always). People are going to slow to a crawl as they approach the accident so they can gawk (as always). And it doesn't matter if you tell everybody that police will be enforcing compliance with the signage, because they don't really comply with the signage we have now.
And controlling traffic around an accident is the BEST CASE SCENARIO for making use of the "Smart Highway" signs. It's completely ineffectual for anything else. Case in point? It's ineffectual for managing heavy Seattle traffic, because no sign can change the fact that I-5 Northbound goes from five lanes to two lanes once you hit downtown. What can a sign... even a changeable sign... do with that bottleneck? And every time I saw that the speed had been reduced to "help with the lane flow" it was still posted as faster than what anybody was driving. And, even if somebody could exceed the ever-changing speed-limit, how the hell are the police going to enforce anything? The speed is 50 MPH one second and 40 MPH the next. How do you enforce that?
And, everything else aside, is it even SAFE to take people's eyes off the road for constant changes, updates, warnings, instructions, or what-not?
Millions spent. Nothing's changed. Maybe things are even worse.
So sadly typical.
Posted on Thursday, August 12th, 2010
Today was a good-news/slash/bad-news kind of day.
Fortunately, the good news slightly outweighs the bad, so I'm just going to run with that.
I supose somebody has to...
Posted on Friday, August 13th, 2010
Despite multiple horrible experiences at the movies recently (not with the films, but with the dumbasses in the audience), I hooked up with some friends to go see Sylvester Stallone's latest epic masterpiece The Expendables. I ended up enjoyed it quite a lot.
Which is somewhat surprising given the number of poor reviews the film has been getting. Critics just can't seem to leave it alone, saying that it "doesn't live up to expectations," like it's a complete waste of the big-name action stars stacked up behind it...
Which raises the question... What the hell were the critics expecting?
What I expected was a lot of bad dialogue, major ass-kicking, and huge explosions attached to a paper-thin plot and recycled storyline. This seemed logical given that it was co-written, directed, and starring... SYLVESTER STALLONE!
Surprise! The film featured a lot of bad dialogue, major ass-kicking, and huge explosions attached to a paper-thin plot and recycled storyline.
Yes I wish that they hadn't cast drastically over-used Eric Roberts as the bad guy (yet again). Sure I wish the story was tighter in the pacing and expanded in parts to add depth to the characters. Of course it would have been nice to functional dialogue... but that's obviously not what The Expendables was about. It's an homage to cheesy 80's action flicks, and fits the bill perfectly (even if all those 80's cheesy one-liners are curiously absent... Ahnold didn't even say "I'll be back!"). If you turn off your brain and just go with it, as intended, it's entertaining movie fare.
Just don't forget to turn your brain back on as you leave the theater.
Posted on Saturday, August 14th, 2010
Here we go again.
If you can't handle profanity or are too young to find the entertainment value in a psychotic rant, please don't go any further. Otherwise, you've been warned...
I am sick.
I somehow, out of nowhere, caught a head-cold last night and it keeps triggered my angioedema. This makes for a miserable existence where sleep is almost impossible. I spent all of last night and most of today hopped up on cold pills, antihistamines, pain-killers, and rage. Most of my waking moments are spent wishing I would just die already.
So, you can imagine my happiness when I finally manage to balance out all the pills and find a mix that allows me to get some sleep. Which is what finally happened around 1:00 today.
Until the phone rings.
Turns out it's an automated message on behalf this fucker...
His name is Jim Johnson and he's running for a second term in Washington State's Supreme Court.
And some piece of shit dickwad feels that it's critical to interrupt my weekend with a scare tactics telemarketer message to get him re-elected. Thus destroying any chance of getting some rest so I can recover from all that ails me.
So right now I don't care if Jim Johnson gets re-elected.
I don't care who endorses him. I don't give a crap what his politics are. I don't give a shit if he's a liberal or a conservative. I don't even give a flying fuck if he's offering free blow-jobs at the Playboy Mansion with every vote.
He will NEVER get my vote.
Any asshole politician who has followers willing to terrorize people with random cold-calls on his behalf... endorsed by the candidate or not... is just fucking garbage.
So fuck you Jim Johnson.
Since, technically, the automated dialing equipment wasn't trying to sell me anything, they're not in violation of Washington State Law RCW 80.36.400... but they fucking should be. And any candidate for Washington State Supreme Court should be committed to protecting citizens from bullshit like this instead of being the cause of it.
Now whom am I voting for? Whoever the fuck is NOT Jim Johnson.
And to whoever is responsible for ruining my day... congratulations.
Posted on Sunday, August 15th, 2010
Bullet Sundaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! Let's get ready to Rrrrruuummmmmble!
• Tweet! Most of the time I'm too busy to pay any serious attention to Twitter, but every once in a while it's a scary insight into what I'm going through at any particular moment in time. Today was particularly telling, and had me wishing I self-censored a bit better. Oh well. Too late for that now...
So many times when I'm asked for my opinion on something, I'm tempted to say "no" immediately because more often than not the person has no interest in getting an actual opinion... they just want your praise (whether they deserve it or not). Yet I foolishly try to be friendly and helpful with my critique anyway, sometimes getting burned in the process. It's really too bad, because good constructive criticism can be so much more helpful than faint praise... if people are willing to hear it. The question is, how many times will I get burned before I learn not to offer it in the first place? At this rate, not long at all.
• Fore! Oh how I love my new iPhone 4. It is superior to my iPhone 3GS in absolutely every way... especially signal reception. I can now actually make phone calls at my home without having them fade out, go choppy, or get dropped entirely. I've had no problems with the antenna while making calls, but have had some problems while texting or using apps when I cradle the iPhone to type. It took all of one minute to learn how to shift my hand to not block the antenna, so it's pretty much a non-issue now. If you have a case for your iPhone 4, it never was an issue to begin with. Personally, if I were going case-free and couldn't adapt to "holding different," this is my favorite solution...
And don't get me started on Apple's amazing "FaceTime" feature, which is the future made real...
But the main reason I upgraded to iPhone 4 was for the camera. My pocket camera is being held together with a rubber band and, rather than replace it, I decided to carry one less thing and just take snapshots with the iPhone 4. The camera has been so highly praised that I figured it was a realistic expectation, but was secretly worried it wouldn't live up to the hype.
And, while it is a vast improvement over previous iPhone cameras, it kinda doesn't live up to the hype. Particularly disappointing is night shooting. Sure the light sensitivity is improved, but the grain is outrageously bad... to the point of being unusable except at massively reduced sizes...
I shouldn't be surprised. The lens is just too small to accept enough light in a dim scenario like this. Shots in "normal" lighting are good... fantastic even... but it looks like my iPhone is no threat to my purchasing a new pocket camera for shooting in low-light. Darn it anyway.
Still, in every other respect, the iPhone 4 is pure WIN, and I really do love it. Heaven only knows what Apple has planned for the iPhone 5.
• Freedom? From watching the news and seeing people re-tweet Sarah Palin on Twitter, you'd think that actual terrorists were wanting to build a monument to the Islamic extremists who died during their 9/11 attacks ON TOP OF "Ground Zero" where the World Trade Center once stood. This is so absurd that it might actually be true, so I looked it up and was disappointed to discover that it was, in fact, not. Some American citizens are just wanting to build a Islamic cultural center and mosque TWO BLOCKS AWAY from Ground Zero on PRIVATE LAND. From what I've read, the mosque won't even be visible from the Ground Zero memorial that's being planned. This type of crazy shit drives me insane. The non-stop parade of lies and crazy exaggerations being sold to people for political gain on both sides of the political spectrum have me hoping for the complete collapse of democracy in this country. If people are so damn stupid as to keep falling for this kind of bullshit, then obviously they can't be trusted with democracy. If people are so hot to have somebody tell them what to think and don't care whether it's true or not, I suggest a nice dictatorship, with ME as Supreme Leader. I am more than happy to tell people what to think. Or to go fuck themselves.
UPDATE: I would have just said "Fuck you, Sarah Palin, you bigoted piece of shit," but Mayor Bloomberg is a much more eloquent and inspiring speaker than I could ever be (thanks for the tip, Etienne!)...
And now... time to put my aching head to bed.
Hopefully to sleep this time.
Posted on Tuesday, August 17th, 2010
A confidentiality agreement forbids me from giving any details... but LEGO Universe, the forthcoming LEGO Massive Multiplayer Online Game I've been beta-testing, is totally sweet. I shudder to think how much time I'm going to waste on this...
You can read more about the awesomeness at the official site.
Get your affairs in order now, because the game goes live on October 26th.
Posted on Tuesday, August 17th, 2010
Posted on Wednesday, August 18th, 2010
Seriously... AGAIN?!? I keep getting some kind of "connectivity error" when I try to post...
Just my luck I've been hacked or something.
Actually, that would be lucky for you... I don't feel very lucky at all.
Posted on Thursday, August 19th, 2010
I've said many times that I'd rather be too warm than too cool. Probably because I've been miserable more often from cold than from heat. Getting frostbite when I was young didn't help.
Except now I'm ready to change my mind. The temperature this past week has been outrageously hot. Not Sahara Desert hot, but hot. Not Phoenix hot, but hot. So hot that my air conditioner can't keep up.
Stupid air conditioner.
My previous place had Central Air, which I now realize is the most amazing thing in the universe. With Central Air, the sweet, cool, air conditioning reaches every room. With a regular air conditioner, this is not the case. My living room and kitchen are comfortable. But by the time the air reached my bedroom it's all warm again. Which means I now refer to my bedroom as Disco Inferno... but not in a good way.
I worry that I may burst into flame at any moment...
Now is probably not the best time to worry whether or not my underpants are flame retardant.
Posted on Friday, August 20th, 2010
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a good film which could have been a great film if it hadn't turned out to be Michael Cera vs. The World.
My relationship with the original Scott Pilgrim comics by Bryan Lee O'Malley is a long story. Five years ago I was introduced to the book because of a girl I really liked. She was geeky and cool and cute and everything else you could possibly want in a potential girlfriend.
Except I was stuck in the dreaded "Friend Zone" with no hope of ever escaping.
A friend who knew of my predicament was more amused than sympathetic, and his solution in consoling me was to loan me Scott Pilgrim Volumes 1 & 2. Which, as anybody who has read those books would realize, is not much of a consolation at all.
But they were an awesome read. I became an instant fan.
The story of Scott Pilgrim is funny, smart, crazy, random, complex, beautiful, bittersweet, epic, and wholly entertaining. I've read each of the subsequent volumes as they've been released, and made a point of not seeing the movie until I had finished the final book of the series, Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour...
Since I read the finale last week, it was just a matter of finding the time to see the film, and tonight was the night. Off to the theater I went with all my expectations firmly in check. Sure the movie was lauded at Comic-Con, critically acclaimed by Scott Pilgrim fans, and getting good reviews in the press... but it was also bound to be a very condensed version of a highly complex story that ran over a thousand pages in six big manga-sized volumes. But would it be enough?
First of all, I was shocked at the amount of heart they managed to keep in the love story given how much of the background to the relationship was lost in translation to the Big Screen. I was anticipating that the movie would simply be one stylized fight scene after another with little room for anything else. This was pretty much the case. Except... director Edgar Wright managed to squeeze in just enough to make you actually care how things work out in the end. That was unexpected. That is what elevated the movie to near greatness. That is why I want to love the movie so much.
Because what's not to love? Boy meets Girl. Boy has to defeat Girl's seven evil exes so he can date her.
With one major exception, the cast was flawless. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was inspired as Scott's love interest Ramona Flowers. Kieran Culkin was genius as Scott's gay roommate Wallace Wells. Ellen Wong was a revelation as Scott's high-school ex-girlfriend Knives Chau. It was one home run after another. Even the "League of Evil Exes" made a big impression despite their extremely limited screen time...
Where the movie fails... and fails massively... is the casting of Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim.
It was an awful, awful choice that dogged the movie from start to finish. Michael Cera was NOT Scott Pilgrim. He was Michael Cera. He's Michael Cera in everything he's ever in. Don't get me wrong... I liked his nervous geeky schtick the first time I saw it in Arrested Development. I even liked his nervous geeky schtick in Superbad... and Juno... and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist... but I'm done with it now. I wanted to see Scott Pilgrim in Scott Pilgrim, and it never happened. You can surround Michael Cera with all the incredibly cool special effects and kick-ass fight scenes you want, and it doesn't change the fact that it's Michael Cera up on the screen... he never lets you forget it...
Because after all that fades away, you're left with MICHAEL CERA BEING MICHAEL CERA...
I can only guess that the decision to cast him was made to please some movie studio executive so they had a "known name" to sell the film. It was a decision that pretty much sabotaged the flick in every way possible, and it kills me to say that. So much went right with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World that it could have survived just about any flaws that managed to creep in. I mean, they overcame so much just to get it all to come together so beautifully. But when that flaw is the main character?
In the end, my love of the Scott Pilgrim books makes me mostly love the movie too, despite a near fatal weakness in the lead role. It's one of the most imaginative and artistic flicks I've ever seen, and miraculously manages to capture the core concept of a highly complex and lengthy story. It's well worth your valuable time to check out.
Next up for Michael Cera? He will be playing Gilligan in a movie remake of Gilligan's Island, which I fully expect will end up being Michael Cera's Island.
Posted on Saturday, August 21st, 2010
I'm a big fan of eggs. Especially scrambled eggs and toast. And omelets. And deviled eggs. And egg casserole. And egg salad sandwiches. And quiche. And fried egg sandwiches. And so on. Not to mention all the delicious things that have eggs in them. Like cake.
So eggs are good, right?
Not if you read the news lately.
Apparently gazillions of eggs are being recalled because of a health scare. There are some bad eggs out there that have been infested with salmonella...
Salmonella is an ugly business that can give you a nasty case of diarrhea. Or death. And nothing spoils your day like a good case of death.
Adds an exciting new element to breakfast, doesn't it?
Posted on Sunday, August 22nd, 2010
It's a boring day for Bullet Sunday, but here it comes...
• Read. It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of the Curious George. It was George who ignited my life-long love of monkeys, and his books remain some of my favorites of all time (the best being Curious George Goes to the Hospital. For this reason, I was happy to see that the Library of Congress was using him to promote reading with a series of cool ads...
Books come and go, but the classics are forever.
• Digital. As a long-time fan of comic books, there's something... wrong... with the idea of reading them digitally on an iPad or computer screen instead of the wonderful tactile experience of flipping through the pages of a book. But, after downloading a bunch of freebies on my mom's iPad using the Comixology app, I have to say... I'm almost convinced. I'm growing to love the effortless navigation, brilliant colors, and distraction-free panel-by-panel "Guide View" that leads you through the stories. As if that weren't enough, you can store a lot of comics on a digital device, which beats having to lug around stacks of books and finding room to store them all...
However... pricing and availability sucks ass.
Take for example the acclaimed Vertigo series Y: The Last Man. I've never read the series, but have always wanted to. The first issue was FREE on Comixology so I snapped it up and was immediately hooked. I wanted more. So I click on the "Full Series" button only to find this...
WTF?!? They have just THREE issues of a SIXTY issue series... FOR A DOLLAR-NINETY-NINE EACH!! Even if the entire series was available, who is going to pay $120 when you can get PHYSICAL COPIES of all ten trade paperback volumes for $90? Heck, you can get all the OVERSIZED DELUXE HARDCOVER volumes for $100. This is insanity. Nobody wants to pay more for less. No printing. No shipping costs. No distribution. No retailer markup. No resale value. Nothing extra or special. Except the price, which just sucks. I would gladly pay $60 for the entire digital series, I may even pay $90, which is what the trade paperbacks would cost me. But $120? Screw that. Especially since there's no guarantee they'll ever release all the issues for digital sale in the first place. If this is the future of publishing, count me out. EPIC FAIL!
• Emmy. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Betty White won an Emmy for her hilarious guest host performance on Saturday Night Live...
To this day, I remain astounded at how she cut no corners... she appeared in every sketch, plus an SNL Short, plus all the MacGruber interludes plus Weekend Update. Truly one of the hardest working people in show business (she just signed on for a TWO-book deal!), this is Betty's fifth Emmy win and she deserved every bit of it. As always, I can't wait to see what she'll do next.
• Miyazaki. Good news for fans of Hayao Miyazaki (perhaps the greatest animator in history). Despite saying he was going to retire years ago, a recent interview revealed that he has no plans to retire. In fact, he's planning two films and is musing over a sequel to his underrated gem, Porco Rosso...
When I flew to L.A. and met up with Howard for a rare live appearance of Miyazaki-san discussing his career, I thought it was a kind of "retrospective farewell," and am happier than words could express that this is not the case. Next up, Karigurashi no Arietti (The Borrower Arrietty) based on Mary Norton's 1952 novel The Borrowers...
If there's anything you can rely on, it's that this movie will be yet another awesome Miyazaki work of art.
• Eggs. My fried egg sandwich was delicious. So far so good... but salmonella can take up to three days to incubate, so I could have a diarrhea explosion any minute now. I'll keep you posted.
Annnnd... I'm spent. This is going to be a loooooong week.
Posted on Monday, August 23rd, 2010
Thanks to nasty side-effects from prescribed drugs I was given when I was younger, I've been sliding into a nice pile of debt over the past five years. Now that I'm "cured," I finally got a loan so I can pay off my massive stack of medical bills.
After depositing the money into my bank account, I paused so I could pretend I was rich for a few minutes. It didn't suck. I sat there daydreaming of all the amazingly cool things I could do with that pile of cash, and couldn't wipe the smile off my face.
Then I wrote the checks to pay my medical bills and was snapped back to reality.
When all was said and done, I ended up having a mind-boggling $464 left over. Apparently a past payment was credited wrong or something. If I were smart, I'd have stuck the money in my savings account, long since depleted. Or perhaps put it towards a loan payment.
Instead I spent $599 on this...
I've always wanted an ultra-wide-angle lens, but I could never justify spending the money. If I have that kind of cash laying around, I'd rather spend it traveling somewhere cool. But I am already traveling to "somewhere cool" when I go on vacation in eleven days. So I decided I'd just blow the money on something I can't afford before my loan payments start and I really can't afford it.
I'll try not to think about that, and instead focus on how having this lens will make me enjoy my vacation even more. It's the little things that make life worth living, after all.
Or so I keep hearing.
Personally, I'd rather have the big pile of cash.
Posted on Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
Today was an incredibly challenging day, as all the things I need to do my job ended up failing... internet... fa