Posted on Saturday, January 1st, 2011
I am posting this at 11:11 on 1-1-11 because it seemed like a good thing to do.
When it comes to New Year's resolutions, I'm pretty boring because I have the exact same New Year's resolutions every year. The same five goals going on for heaven only knows how long. This year is no different, except I am working on some projects which will definitely add some excitement to my 2011. More on that later.
Here's my score card for fulfilling my resolutions in 2010...
Here's hoping that the Pop-Tart people keep making new flavors so I can fulfill my resolutions again this year!
And now for what's new this decade...
I work. A lot. And while it's work I love, the fact that it's non-stop and never-ending has sucked most of the joy out of what I do. This year I am trying to rediscover the joys to be found in creativity by coming up with projects just for me. Five new projects to go with the same five resolutions I do every year. Five projects centering around stuff I like to do, but don't get to do so much any more...
And here we go...
DAVE'S FIVE PROJECTS FOR 2011
• The Hard Rock Project. I owe the Hard Rock Cafe a huge debt for continuing to inspire me to travel to new places. When I think of all the awesome cities I've discovered that I would have never visited if not for a Hard Rock being there, my gratitude knows no bounds. Coming up with a project to celebrate my love of Hard Rock collectibles wasn't easy, but then I saw my closet packed full of their T-shirts and the HARD ROCK 100 PROJECT was born. For 100 days I'll be wearing a favorite Hard Rock T-shirt from my collection and sharing the photo both on my DaveCafe fan site and my DaveCafe Flickr feed. Here is Day One (which you can read about by clicking on it)...
• The Artificial Duck Project. After losing my T-shirt printer, twice, I kind of let the Artificial Duck Co. store languish for a year. That's going to change. I've been working on some new T-Shirts and will be getting that set up at yet another printer soon. But that's not all... more totally sweet crap you can't live without is being planned and should be appearing this Summer.
• The Writing Project. After being invited to RW's house for pizza and plenty of good conversation, I realized that I wanted to start writing again. I used to write stories all the time, and loved the escape I got from it. But then my blog kind of took over all my writing time and I stopped. This Spring that's going to change in a big way. You'll be finding out all about it sometime in March.
• The Drawing Project. Before computers took over all my design work, I used to draw, paint, and even sculpt. Don't get me wrong, I love designing on the computer, but it's not the same as "getting your hands dirty" with a pencil and a drawing pad. Proving that one thing leads to another, The Writing Project led to me finding The Drawing project. It's been a lot of fun, and should also be debuting in March.
• The Secret Project. Yeah, this one is going to take a while... most of the year, in fact. I'm waaaayyyy over my head this time. And loving every minute of it. So far.
And that's it. Plans are already in motion.
Here's to an interesting 2011.
Posted on Sunday, January 2nd, 2011
"You're not dying... you just can't think of anything better to do."
— Ferris Bueller, Ferris Bueller's Day Off
I've had cheese pizza for dinner three times in the past week. It's not that I'm particularly craving cheese pizza, I just can't think of anything better to eat. Well, I can, but flying to Amsterdam for a cheese sandwich or jetting off to Rome for Fettucine Alfredo seems a bit excessive. Oh well, pizza and bullets it is then. Welcome to a Very Special NEW YEAR Edition of Bullet Sunday!
• NEW CHANNELS! I relented and purchased an expanded cable television package because my sister got me hooked on The Big C which you can only get on the Showtime Channel. Unfortunately, The Big C was just the beginning. Now I'm hooked on Dexter again... PLUS Boardwalk Empire on HBO. What an amazing show that is. I've always liked Steve Buscemi's acting, but damn...
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The other actors in Boardwalk Empire are great too ( ZOMG! Erik Weiner?)... along with the writing, the directing, the production values, and everything else associated with the show. I guess with Martin Scorsese involved I shouldn't be surprised, but damn...
• NEW HOTNESS! Well, okay, Summer Glau is not exactly "new," having appeared as "River Tam" in fan-favorite Joss Whedon awesomeness Firefly. And then she did a smattering of guest appearances in television shows meant to appeal to a sci-fi geek's wet dreams, including The 4400 and Dollhouse... along with playing a FRICKIN' TERMINATOR in the sweet Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles...
And now she's moving into comic book geek territory by taking a role on The Cape, a super-hero series debuting on the 9th...
I can only guess that her next role will be as Wonder Woman, because that's about the only thing in the genre left for her to play! Hopefully her new show will be worth a crap, and not some lame knock-off of a lame show like Heroes.
• NEW AWESOME! As a huge, huge fan of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, the movie I am most looking forward to this year is... PAUL! The movie looks entertaining as hell and, since it's Frost & Pegg, you know it's going to be funny. AND THE CAST! It's got Kristin Wigg, Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, AND SIGOURNEY WEAVER IN IT! I can't for the life of me understand why the buzz on this film isn't bigger than it is...
• NEW SHIT? Last year Steve Ballmer took the stage of the annual Consumer Electronics Show to show off Microsoft's revolutionary new tablet version of Windows 7 to be released on an upcoming "slate" hardware device.
THIS year Steve Ballmer will be taking the stage of the annual Consumer Electronics Show to show off Microsoft's revolutionary new tablet version of Windows 7 to be released on an upcoming "tablet" hardware device.
See, "slate" was the old shit. "Slates" ended up sucking ass and nobody bought them because "slates" don't have the power necessary to run a resource-sucking pile of shit like Windows. But then Apple unveiled the "iPad" which everybody made fun of because it sounded like "maxi pad" (or whatever). Everybody in the industry also made fun of iPad because it wasn't a "real" computer at all but just a "big phone that can't make calls" or perhaps a "grossly underpowered computer that can't do anything."
But then Apple had the last laugh (as usual) because iPad went on to sell a bajillion units.
So now Microsoft is recycling the same fucked-up bullshit that nobody wanted the first time around and pretending it's new because apparently, thanks to Apple, everybody came to their senses and decided they want a tablet computer all along. Microsoft was just ahead of its time last year, and THIS year will be totally different!
Except that's not what happened at all. People didn't all of a sudden embrace tablet computer... they embraced the iPad which, as everybody in the industry was so quick to point out, IS NOT A COMPUTER. Sure it has some computer functionality, but it's more an "appliance" that becomes different electronic devices as opposed to a traditional computer. The fact that it's NOT A COMPUTER is what makes it so compelling. People who need a computer aren't going to be satisfied with a stripped down, crippled, slow tablet device. It's people who are looking for something simple and functional who are the iPad's target customer, and Apple understood this.
Microsoft (as usual) is playing catch-up and doing it all wrong. Again. I'm sure after the "tablet" fails just like the "slate" failed, Balmer will be standing on the stage in 2012 with the "new" Microsoft "pad" device running the tablet edition of Windows 7 because THAT'S what the problem was... it was the NAME that sabotaged the previous two attempts!
That same name that everybody made fun of when Apple unleashed it last year.
Oh how I loathe Microsoft. They have access to unlimited money and unlimited technology, but there's nobody there with any kind of vision to make any use of it. I'M STILL WAITING FOR MY FLYING CAR, STEVE BALMER, YOU DEMENTED FOOL!!
• NEW OUTLOOK! I promise myself that I will be 50% less critical of Microsoft this year, because I know everybody it tired of
That will be really fucking easy to do, because this year Microsoft will be 50% less relevant to the computer industry, the mobile phone industry, and the electronic industry in general, just like they were last year (KIN PHONES FOR EVERYBODY!).
The only place Microsoft is holding any ground is with their Xbox 360 video game console. You know, their SIX YEAR OLD ENTERTAINMENT TECHNOLOGY?!? Of course, six years in electronics years is like SIXTY years in human years, so heaven only knows how long that gravy train is going to last. Hopefully they've got an
Of course, it's not inconceivable that Apple won't come out with iPlay (or whatever) and swipe the gaming market as well. Thanks to iPod Touch, iPhone, and now iPad, they've pretty much sewn up the portable gaming market already. What's one more area of global domination to Steve Jobs?
• NEW INSIGHT! Well, not really. Despite Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back being two of my most favorite movies of all time, I found the "prequels" to be massive piles of shit. Not only were they boring as hell, but they barely made any sense. When I initially wrote my thoughts on Revenge of the Sith after it was released, I ranked it as "okay" even though I fully admitted it sucked. Probably because compared to The Phantom Mencace and Attack of the Clones it was utter genius. I was so desperate to like Star Wars again that ranking it "okay" was more of a cry for help than any acknowledgement of cinematic greatness...
This got me roundly despised by many of my fellow Star Wars fans who thought Revenge of the Sith was the best thing ever. Not that I can blame them... if you've been eating nothing but vomit and fond memories for decades, a plate of moldy bread is going to feel like dinner at the Ritz.
Now that time has passed, perspective has only managed to take the bloom off the rose. Or, in the case of Mr. Plinkett, to shred the rose into pieces, cover it in raw sewage, then fart on it as you toss it into a nuclear explosion. His biting, scathing analysis is horrifyingly accurate. He not only addresses all the problems I had with the film* but expands upon them with some insight I hadn't considered.
If you're okay with lots of profanity and a shocking lack of taste and morals masquerading as a movie review, then this is something you must see.
And there you have it. The first Bullet Sunday of a new year. Let's hope I survive the week to do a second one.
*Well, one thing he DOESN'T address is the bullshit about "midichlorian count" being an indicator as to how powerful somebody is with The Force. If a massive number of midichlorians determines your strength, how can Darth Vader be so fucking powerful when he lost both legs and both arms? That's an ass-load of midichlorians to lose. And can somebody who has low midichlorians inject a bunch of them and instantly become a Jed Master? ARRRGH! Like everything else in the prequels, this shit doesn't make any fucking sense!
Posted on Monday, January 3rd, 2011
I have never told the whole story of how my blogging mascots, Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey, came to be. I thought perhaps I would save it for their tenth birthday in 2012, but something has come up to change my mind. Thanks to an offer too good to refuse, I managed to purchase a custom Gowalla stamp featuring the DaveToon Duo. For those not familiar with Gowalla, it is a location-based social networking game where you can follow where your friends go, collect location stamps, find interesting new spots, and keep track of the places you've been.
Until recently "custom stamps" were only available to "landmark" spots like The Eiffel Tower or to spots that the Gowalla Team liked (usually in Austin, where they are based). But there was an entry-price stamp test program I signed up for and, voilà, Blogography has it's own stamp...
My logo on the left, the Gowalla stamp interpretation on the right (enlarged 250%).
And now the story of how I cam up with Bad Monkey and Lil' Dave. So I can do a good job of it, I've got back through all my old file archives and pulled out all my early sketches and drawings, so you can see how things came together from the very beginning.
Surprisingly, Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey were not created for Blogography. They were originally drawn up to solve a problem at my other blog, DaveCafe, which is a travel journal and review site for all the Hard Rock Cafes I've been to.
The problem was that I love the Hard Rock, and I felt really terrible when I had something bad to say about one of my visits. Trying to distance myself from my own criticism, I came up with the idea of having an alter-ego who would talk about anything "bad" which would leave me to be the hero and talk about all the good stuff from my visit. Since I've long been fascinated by monkeys, I thought that it would be cool to have a kind of "Curious George" sidekick... but wicked-crazy instead of curious to deliver the bad news.
And thus the idea for "Dave and Bad Monkey" was born while I was in New York on July 13th, 2002.
When starting out on a project like this, I often fill an entire page with a "base" element (in this case, a head-shape) then draw up numerous variations around it. At this point, I was mainly concerned with getting the hair right, but was also working on the eyes and nose. The mouth was always going to be a simple slit from the very beginning, as the Dave character was supposed to be "neutral" when delivering his review...
As I drew more and more variations, I was refining the hair to be more styled. In the beginning, it's simple shapes and pen-tool scribblings, but ends up having curves to look more realistic. Once I got to the last head, I thought the hair was getting a little too perfect. Which doesn't really look like me at all. My hair is a perpetual mess, and so I went back and redrew the last row to have a more spikey look in the bangs.
Below is a close-up of some of the characters above. Originally, the eyes were all round, but I went back and started trying ovals. I wasn't sure of the right size so I played with that as well...
After filling the page and getting to a hairstyle I liked, I realized that my head-shapes were too vertical. Computer screens are wider than they are tall so I wanted a character which would economize height. Working on a copy of the file, I turned all the heads horizontal and rearranged the hair and facial features to fit...
The wider head made Dave look much, much younger, so I toyed with the idea of adding a five o'clock shadow so he'd look more like an adult.
At this point, I thought the round eyes made Dave look stoned so I changed everything to ovals. Then I became convinced that the oval head-shape was lazy, and started playing around with the idea of using more of a squashed-egg look instead. Once I did that, the rounded hair was starting to look "over-styled" to me again, so I went back to my original concept and started messing around with simple pen-tool spikes for hair...
After a number of head-shape iterations I decided to go back to an oval. The egg-shape made his cheeks look pudgy, and I liked the simplicity of an oval better. Wanting to simplify things further, I removed the lines in the ears. I had abandoned the five o'clock shadow for a while but eventually came back to it because I thought it made my character more unique...
It was around this time that I became obsessed with the nose. Up until this point they had all tapered at the bridge in order to add depth to the shape. But I disliked having something so pointy on the face. The only thing spikey was supposed to be the hair, and so I re-drew the nose with a consistent pen width. It still bothered me, but at least it looked "right" on the face now. The last thing I worked on was the hair. Since Dave was flat I liked the idea of making the hairstyle two-dimensional. That way I could just flop his hair to make him point in the other direction.
After roughly two hours of sketching across six Adobe Illustrator pages, I had narrowed down the design to two choices...
At this point, my decision was easy. The rounded hair looked like a strange comb-over and seemed a bit ordinary. The spikey hair was more cartoony, interesting, and reminded me of one of the greatest cartoon characters of all time, Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. So all that was left was to create a Bad Monkey sidekick. There was no sketching this time around. I removed the hair and face from Dave, shrunk it, then just drew a monkey face on it. The total design time for my monkey pal was probably five minutes...
The problem was that he didn't look very "bad" and came across as kind of sedate. I thought the beady round eyes would add a little crazy, but it wasn't enough. Thinking I was over-thinking things, I went ahead and published the cartoon heads at DaveCafe and went to bed.
Then couldn't get to sleep. It really bugged me that Bad Monkey was getting short changed, since using him as a scapegoat was what caused me to create the cartoons in the first place. Rather than do variations of a dozen different monkey heads, I just kept tweaking and fine-tuning the drawing I already had. I remember adding spikey fur on his head, but he looked too much like Dave. Eventually I thought I'd just draw him screeching with his mouth open because it was the only way I could think of to make him look a little insane...
And just like that, I had found Dave and Bad Monkey!
Except not quite.
When I reduced the heads down to size, Dave's mouth looked a bit like a grimace, so I redrew it as a smile. And hated it. His nose, which had always bothered me, looked like a blob when outlined in black, so I changed it to something more subtle. I wasn't terribly happy with the end result, but it was getting very late, so I went ahead and published them anyway...
And that's how the characters would stay for nearly a year.
Tune in tomorrow for the exciting finale...
Can you feel the excitement? Can you? Well I'll see you tomorrow then!
Posted on Tuesday, January 4th, 2011
Here it is... PART TWO of the story of how my DaveToon blog mascots came to be! If you haven't read Part One yet, you'll probably want to do that first.
Right off the bat, I'm going to have to apologize for lying to you yesterday. I had promised that I'd be sharing NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN images of Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey in 3-D but, alas, I'm going to have to wait until tomorrow so I can get a few problems with the 3-D to 2-D rendering sorted. It will be worth the wait though, I promise!
Anyway, getting back to the story... Bad Monkey and Lil' Dave had been languishing on my Hard Rock fansite, DaveCafe, for just over a year. Then, in September of 2003, I was preparing for a trip to visit Hard Rock Cafes in Reykjavik and Stockholm. A fellow Hard Rocker in Japan had once given me his "Hard Rock business card" and I decided that was a handy thing to have. I could put my email and website address on it and hand it out to Hard Rock fans I meet. My cheap-o ink-jet printed cards ended up looking like this...
At this point, the DaveToons had (literally) become my calling card for DaveCafe. But it was this humble blog where most of my time and effort were going. Finally, inevitably, on February 11th, 2004, worlds collided. I had written a Blogography entry where I mentioned a monkey showing up at work with an ebola virus, and it occurred to me that I could make Bad Monkey be that monkey. But he and Toon-Dave were only heads, so I had to slap together some bodies for them. Since I thought it was important for people to know where they came from, I put the DaveCafe logo on Toon Dave's shirt...
You'll also note that I had to figure out how to make Toon-Dave's head turn, which was a lot more complicated than you might guess. It took hours for me to figure out how that might work, since he's so firmly rooted in two dimensions. Eventually, I just slapped an ear on the side of his head where I thought it should go, then worked the hair around it.
Now that Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey had more than just heads, it was time to redesign my DaveCafe site. I announced the coming change around the end of February, 2004...
And the site went live in April with Toon Dave doing all kinds of interesting stuff...
For the next couple of years, Toon Dave continued to make dozens of appearances at Blogography. Bad Monkey made zero appearances. He was meant to embody negativity over at DaveCafe, and I made a conscious effort to keep him there. About the only thing new to happen was that Toon Dave got a very important addition to his anatomy in January of 2005 (I thought it was pretty impressive, but Avitable would take it to an entirely new level a few years later)...
While not really "new," in June, 2005 I decided I wanted to try my hand at animating DaveToons. With absolutely no experience, I started studying what it would take to make them speak. The idea was to create a cartoon talk show called Dave's Bad-Ass Blogography Show...
The following month I played around with the idea of making them move using Flash...
It was a fun experiment, but proved far too time-consuming for me to take seriously. Maybe one day I'll find the time to actually make a complete animation. Maybe.
2006 was the year things started changing. First of all, Bad Monkey made the first of many, many appearances in January. I finally found a use for him where he could be as bad as he wanted to be...
Granted, it was a pretty crappy appearance. Bad Monkey's body was just Toon Dave's body colored brown. Still, it was a start.
And then things really changed.
When DaveToons first started appearing in Blogography, they were specifically designed to be as fast and easy to draw as possible. Toon Dave didn't have hands, he had mittens. Fingers take time to draw. Bad Monkey didn't look like a monkey, he looked like a person dressed as a monkey. Lanky limbs and tails take time to draw. Everything was colored flat and boring. Shaded color takes time to draw. I was perfectly happy with all the DaveToons looking crappy because they took almost no time to slap together.
But eventually it started to reeeeaally bother me. The more appearances they made on my blog, the more upset I'd get that they didn't look as good as they should. So on May 6th, 2006, I spent a couple of hours and started over from scratch. With a DaveToon I titled Best Friends, Toon Dave and Bad Monkey were reborn...
It took about a year for the transition to fully take effect, but the look had finally been fixed. Now that the look was fixed, it was the name "Toon Dave" that was bothering me. Toon Dave was no longer just a toon version of myself. He was an entirely different character with an entirely different life. Fortunately, when I guest-blogged over at Hilly's Snackiepoo blog in August of 2006, the solution was at hand. She called her mascot "Lil' Snackie" and so "Toon Dave" became "Lil' Dave" and the name stuck...
After that? Well, I briefly played around with animation again...
...but Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey would stay pretty much the same throughout their many new adventures over the next two years.
The next "Big Thing" wouldn't happen until the end of 2008.
And it was SO big that nobody ever saw it. Until tomorrow. Tomorrow, at long last, NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN images of Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey in 3-D! And exactly WHY were Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey in 3-D two years ago? Well, that's a very good question. And I'll explain that tomorrow too!
I have to warn you though, it's a very sad (and very expensive) tale, so bring a hankerchief.
Posted on Wednesday, January 5th, 2011
Okay. Okay. I know. I made a promise that yesterday I would reveal for the first time anywhere NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN images of Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey in 3-D. But, because of some kind of technical problems with a software upgrade, I couldn't render them into 2-D pictures. So last night I made a few phone calls to get that sorted, and here we are.
But before I reveal the images, you're probably wondering exactly WHY Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey would be rendered into 3-D in the first place. That's a very good question. There's actually two reasons...
Now, you have to admit that either of those reasons were awesome enough for me to want to get 3-D models made. Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey dolls? AWESOME! A Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey video game? AWESOME!
And so I paid a very talented computer animator a lot of money to make the models.
Unfortunately, neither of these awesome projects came to be. I'll explain what happened in a minute, but let's get to the 3-D renderings, shall we?
First up... BAD MONKEY! Note that his tail is sticking straight out. This is on purpose, because it would be animated bouncing up and down as he walked in the video game, and it was easier to do this if it were starting from a straight position. The animator would curl it when he defined how it would move in the walk cycle...
Pretty sweet, huh? It took a LOT of back-and-forth with the animator to translate a
And then there's Lil' Dave. Who needed to start out naked with no hair for video game reasons I'll explain later...
And here he is with clothes. The hair wasn't finished exactly right at this point, but it was getting close...
So the models look great, what's the story?
The dolls were going to be very cool. VERY cool. Their arms and legs would move. They would have fun accessories. They would have awesome packaging. They would come in three versions (called "Colorways" in the biz)... 1) Classic Dolls, 2) ZOMBIE Dolls, and 3) Limited Edition BLANK "Paint Your Own" Dolls. Unfortunately, the company handling the job went out of business. My dream of having Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey vinyl dolls (along with an $800 deposit) vanished overnight.
THE VIDEO GAME.
If the loss of the vinyl dolls was tough on me, the loss of the video game was devastating. In addition to being out the money I invested in having the models made, I was out hundreds of hours in pesonal time. I wrote the game story. I helped design game levels. I designed the level maps. I drew hundreds of concept sketches. I painted hundreds of object textures. I invested time working on things like "walk cycles" and "cut scenes." Then one day I got The Call. The school was converting to some kind of learning internship agency. The theory was that this would be better for the students because they'd be getting hands-on experience at real gaming companies. The reality was that there wasn't enough internship positions to go around. So even if the guy working on my game could get an internship, he would then be working on the company's projects and not mine. Instead he lost his education financing and had to stop working on the DaveToon game so he could find a new school.
This was a real shame, because it would have been a pretty cool game. It was designed to be relatively easy, so young kids and adults with no gaming experience could play. But it was still funny enough that even a gamer would want to play to see what happened. The story revolved around Lil' Dave trying to avoid an invasion of robot monsters and solving puzzles so he could find his way home. Along the way, Bad Monkey would show up to help... and sometimes hinder... his progress. Lil' Dave replenished his health by finding chocolate pudding cups hidden around in the game. You couldn't really "die" while playing, but you could get thrown into "Zombie Mode" if your health ran out. If you couldn't get out of "Zombie Mode," you'd turn into a ghost (with no hair or clothes... just a glowing outline), fly back to the beginning of the level, grab a new body, then have to start over.
And there you have it. The NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN images of Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey in 3-D!
And the really sad story as to why you never saw them.
Maybe one day somebody will come along and want to work on the game again. Or maybe I'll get bored sometime and write a blog entry with the NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN sketches, paintings, bits and pieces that I spent a big chunk of my personal time working on in 2009. The good news is that you might finally understand what I was trying to say with this entry. And this entry.
So what's next for Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey?
Well... there are always possibilities. I definitely plan on new T-shirts. There will absolutely be more DaveToons on Blogography. And there are other things... secret things... I've got ideas for which may or may not happen.
When it comes to Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey, you just never know.
Posted on Thursday, January 6th, 2011
Welcome to a totally unexpected... PART FOUR of a series detailing the evolution of Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey over the years. I say unexpected, because I thought yesterday was the end of it, but I got some emails and questions, so I thought I would extend another day.
First of all, a look at what could have been with the "colorways" of the DaveToon vinly dolls I was working on before the company closed-up shop. Here's the painting instruction sheet I made for the manufacturer (I removed the paint color notations so you can see the characters better)...
The dolls would have come as a set in a custom-designed box with a clear plastic window in the front and various "accessories" tied to a background card behind them. I hadn't actually drawn the box, because I was waiting to get the final shape, but I had sketched out some concepts based on an old G.I. JOE box I had found. The idea was to make it look slightly "vintage" and show all the features and accessories as EXCITING FEATURES on the back and sides. The box would be the same for all the versions, but a space would have been reserved to sticker the three variants...
And that's as far as I got. I was supposed to get prototype dolls and a bunch of other stuff for the deposit I payed, but I never saw any of it. For those who asked, the pricing is a tricky business, because I hadn't gotten information on duties and taxes and shipping fees. My goal was to sell the "Classic" dolls for $15-$17, the "Zombie" dolls for $22-$25, and the "Custom" dolls for $30-$35... but that could have gone up or down depending on how everything ultimately got costed out. Considering a single 6-inch doll usually sells for around $40, I thought my pricing was pretty good. The idea wasn't so much to make money, but to simply cover the costs of making the dolls... just because I wanted them! Oh well.
One of the most popular questions I continue to get is "How do you draw your DaveToons?" I had answered this question in a smart-assed way back in September, 2006 (NSFW!)... but it's probably time to give a serious answer. While I don't have time to create a comprehensive "How-To" showing every last detail as to how things are done, what I CAN do is run through all the steps it takes to draw one of my characters...
BUT FIRST, FAIR WARNING: I will absolutely concede that this will look a heck of a lot easier than it actually is. If you are not familiar with Adobe Illustrator, then you should understand that this is a program that takes years to master. I have been drawing with Illustrator most every day for over twenty years and there are still things I have problems with. I just want to be sure that somebody reading this doesn't think "Wow, this is simple! I'm going to draw cartoons too!" then run out and spend $600 on Adobe Illustrator only to find out that it's not quite as easy as all that.
With that having ben said, you can see the basic concepts that go into how I approach the "DaveToon Look" in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Friday, January 7th, 2011
"You obviously have no concept of how this works."
"And you obviously have no concept of how little I care."
When you are as massively intelligent as I am, nothing seems to make people happier than pointing out the things you don't know. Oh yes. It's not enough that I am burdened with genius-level intelligence beyond mere mortal's ability to fathom... I have to be punished for it as well.
The simple fact is that while my mind may be mind-bogglingly vast in its capacity for knowledge, there are some things that I just don't give a shit about, and have no desire to learn.
Like engine repair.
In all seriousness, I couldn't care less about how to fix a frickin' engine. When something goes wrong with my piece of shit car, I take it to the auto repair shop.
Well, at least until the bill comes.
I mean, in general terms I get the concept. I understand the principle behind internal combustion and comprehend the physics which enable it to work. I know the various major components of an automotive engine and have a general idea as to what their function is. I even know a vague history of engine development thanks to a PBS special I watched years ago. But do I really have to know how to repair one? No. Do I even want to know how to repair one? Fuck no. There are trained professionals who already have that covered. I'm good.
There are times it would be nice to know how to fix my damn car when shit happens. If for no other reason than I wouldn't have to endure the sheer glee from people who become overjoyed when they find out it's something I can't do. As in really can't do. Car doesn't start? Checking under the hood to confirm that the engine isn't missing is the extent of my ability to diagnose the problem. If the engine is present, then I've basically done all I can do... and I'm fine with that.
At least I am until some asshole tries to make me feel like I'm a complete failure at life because I don't understand how to determine a problem with the fuel injection system... or a dead starter... or a busted ignition coil... or whatever else the fuck causes these kind of things to happen.
So don't be giving me any shit because I have no desire to learn how to replace a bad injector or pinpoint issues with the electrical system, or recognize a bad ignition switch. I just don't deserve it.
Living on this backwards planet is punishment enough.
Posted on Saturday, January 8th, 2011
Today can just go away now. My thoughts are with Gabrielle Giffords, her family, and everybody affected by the terrible events in Arizona.
Posted on Sunday, January 9th, 2011
Even though "bullet points" are very different from "ammunition bullets," yesterday's horrifying events have depressed me so badly that there will be no bullets here today. And while I could type out an angst-filled rant over efforts on both sides of the political spectrum to unleash blame and hatred over something so tragic, I just can't do it. A man and a little nine-year-old girl are dead. Others are seriously injured.
I'll think about it tomorrow. I just can't do it today.
In an effort to put my mind as far away as possible from the heartbreaking events in the news, I'm going to get as far away from them as possible in my blog.
Look! I'm Batman!
This awesome Bat-shirt was my gift from the "Bloggy Gift Exxxtravaganza 2010 Remix" over at Josh's blog!
I already had the Bat-iPhone.
Posted on Monday, January 10th, 2011
And so, as promised, here I am commenting on the tragedy in Arizona after a day off from thinking about anything. I suppose I should preface this entry with a disclaimer in the hopes that my comments and email inbox won't explode with hate, which is about the last thing I need right now...
This blog post is in no way an attempt to tell people what to think. I am not trying to change anybody's mind. I'm not trying to get people riled up. I'm not trying to send a political message. I'm not trying to do anything except write down my thoughts in the hope that it will help me to move past this dreadful act of violence that has broken my heart and put me in a state of despair that I haven't felt in quite a while. I ache inside when I think of a little nine-year old girl being gunned down before she's even had a chance at life. I know that this isn't new... I know that unspeakable violence against children happens all over the world every day. But every once in a while an event like this brings all the pain forward and suddenly you're overwhelmed by something you try to forget... something you try to deny even exists. Then the reality of it all beats you down until you don't want to exist in a world where something so senseless and stupid can happen to somebody so innocent...
The shooter, Jared Lee Whatever, is clearly a seriously disturbed individual. Even a cursory look at his writings and YouTube videos reveal that he is mentally unstable with a tenuous grip on reality, perhaps even full-on schizophrenia, (as if gunning down a child wasn't proof enough that something is wrong). It's not in the scope of a simple blog entry to go into the peticulars of mental illness and my experience with those inflicted by it... except to say that trying to explain why they do the things they do and what causes them to do the things they do will make you crazy. I don't pretend to know what punishment is fitting for someone so clearly disturbed but, thankfully, it's not my job to decide that.
A lot has been written blaming Sarah Palin's "target list" (which clearly names Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as a political enemy) as a contributing factor to what happened...
Coupled with her Twitter comments telling her followers "Don't retreat, RELOAD!" it understandably paints her in a bad light. And, since everybody is always looking for a villain whenever something terrible happens, she's a very easy person to blame.
Except... I don't for a single second believe that Sarah Palin honestly wished that somebody would pick up a gun and kill these people. Like me, she comes from a place and a culture where guns and gun terminology are just a way of life. I know this because I have been around guns all my life. Many, many people where I live own guns for hunting, for sport, and for protection (yes, we have a police department, but that's not going to be much help if you live ten miles up a canyon somewhere and somebody is breaking into your home or you're being attacked by a bear). When I was young I got my firearm safety card. I know how to use a gun. I've shot guns in the past. And even though my beliefs forbid me from handling a gun today, I could certainly do so if I had to. It's just part of the culture where I live and grew up.
As is the gun-based terminology that Sarah Palin is currently being crucified for.
But I'll get back to that in a minute.
First I want to go a bit deeper into "gun culture" and what that actually means. Because, whether or not it's prevalent in the area you're at, if you live in the United States of America, you're a part of it. And it starts from an early age.
If you're anything like me, a very early age...
This is the kind of stuff I grew up watching. If you're my age (or Sarah Palin's age) odds are, you did too. And for me to say that it affected her and not me would be pretty hypocritical. Here is a panel from a DaveToon from 2004...
And here's a full DaveToon strip from 2006...
And, just to show that I'm not above gun violence to myself...
Heck, I use guns ALL THE TIME in my DaveToons. And it's not always Daffy-Duck-style blasts to the face either. In a DaveToon from two years ago there were actual bullets involved...
Now, granted, the vast majority of times nobody actually gets hurt in my DaveToons. Just like with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoons, in context the guns are used for comedic effect, not to actually kill somebody. Even when I finally used bullets in my gun, the worst I could manage would be to shoot off somebody's hat. And yet, I have occasionally shown somebody riddled with bullet-holes. Like the time I tried to show the results of somebody "Happy Slapping" a random person in Britain vs. somebody "Happy Slapping" a random person in the USA...
And, of course, registering my displeasure with George Lucas over his stupid Star Wars prequels and screwing up the Indiana Jones franchise...
In context things like this are mere fantasy ramblings. Even though I don't use guns in real life and think that the world would be better off without them, I'm not above using them for entertainment in a cartoon on a blog meant for adults. Or enjoying them for entertainment value either. I regularly watch all kinds of action movies where people are getting shot left and right. In the context of entertainment, I don't find anything wrong with that. And neither should George Lucas... he has "Indiana Jones" shoot a lot of people in his movies. Heck, he even massacred a bunch of kids in Revenge of the Sith!
All that being said, I'm not against people owning guns in our gun-based culture. That ship has sailed. In the USA the guns are here and they're here to stay. If we were to all of a sudden ban guns, it would have very little net effect. Since the majority of people mis-using guns are criminals anyway, you'd be removing the ability for non-criminals to protect themselves against them. For better or worse, we have a gun culture and that isn't going to change.
But, given the seemingly never-ending tragedy involving insane people with guns, it's not like we shouldn't at least attempt to figure out a way to keep things like this from happening. The problem is that nothing we try seems to work. Things like "waiting periods" and "background checks" may stop some senseless tragedies from happening where they exist, but the shootings are still going on. Because the crazy people always seem to find a way. Just like when an alcoholic gets behind the wheel of a car while drunk and ends up mowing down innocent people in a sidewalk somewhere. It's illegal, we have laws against it, we have court-mandated rehab to try and prevent it, and yet it keeps happening. This doesn't mean we shouldn't keep trying, but there doesn't seem to be a foolproof solution at hand. At least not here in the United States where guns are everywhere. Just like prohibition with alcohol, there will always be a way for people to get their hands on something... even when it's been made illegal.
The perils of people having of guns is an issue that requires a lot more thought. And I'm not going to claim to know how that chestnut can be cracked.
But what about the perils of people talking guns in their language, communication, and entertainment?
Is somebody like me who draws cartoons glorifying gun violence for entertainment partly responsible for escalating gun-based violence in this country? What about cartoons, video games, television shows, comic books, movies, YouTube videos, websites, and all the rest?
And yet... not really.
Taken in context, someone would have to be insane to look at one of my DaveToon rants or a Daffy Duck cartoon and think that they're being instructed to go get a gun and shoot somebody.
Unfortunately, as we are sadly aware, these people actually exist.
So, like I said... probably.
And yet... not really.
Even though I loathe Sarah Palin, abhor her politics, despise her lies, deplore her half-truths, and find her messages of hate and bigotry to be disgusting on every possible level... even though I find her partisan hackery and unfounded attacks to be reprehensible... even though I think she has a lot to answer for when it comes to her irresponsible manipulation of people with fear, uncertainty, and doubt... even though she is one of the most useless, incomprehensibly stupid people I have ever seen in the political arena... even though she disgusts me in ways I can barely enunciate... her saying "Don't retreat, RELOAD" and drawing targets on her political rivals is just a part of our gun-based culture. Sarah Palin is being strung up for something most of us are guilty of in some way.
Even Daffy Duck.
When I was in high school I remember a pep rally poster where gun targets were painted over drawings of mascots from other school's sports teams. Above that, something like "WE'VE GOT YOU IN OUR SIGHTS" was painted. Did our school literally want to hunt down rival schools with guns? Of course not. Was our intent to incite others to hunt down these rival schools with guns? Of course not. But that's the culture where I come from. No sane person would attach heinous acts of violence to something like this because In context it's simply communicating team spirit in words and images everybody here understands.
In the wilds of Alaska where Sarah Palin is off shooting moose and clubbing fish, I'm sure it's much the same. Words like "RELOAD" are just colloquial parts of speech where she comes from, and a means of expressing her seriousness in the idea of confronting opposition head-on. I totally get that. The USA is filled with violent imagery just about everywhere you look, and she's just latching onto that as a way of stating her opinions. In that respect, she's no different than Quentin Tarantino making violent films like Reservoir Dogs or the people at Rockstar Games who make the Grand Theft Auto video games.
Except... as a political leader, Sarah Palin should know better. She should act better. She should be a better example. She should inspire better. And she should lead by a higher standard. But she never has, and I don't expect her to start now. When your message is one of division and hatred, there's very little room to maneuver. Sudden pleas for respectful debate and intelligent compromise would be seen as a huge weakness by her fan-base, and an implausible reversal by everybody else. She's trapped in a prison of her own making, and though she may temporarily tone down her rhetoric, it's only a matter of time before she's back to form or else she knows that she's finished.
And that means we ALL have a problem.
Because while I have every confidence that Sarah Palin never in a million years intended for anybody to be shot because of her gun-speak and infographics... when taken in context she should not be the least bit surprise that the accusations are being laid at her doorstep. You can't viciously attack your political rivals with such unbridled vitriol and expect nobody is going to take your extremes to an extreme.
Whether that's what happened here, we may never know. As I said, trying to understand the mindset of a disturbed person like Jared Lee Loughner will drive you crazy. But... so long as Sarah Palin continues down the road she's on, she should expect to be taking more heat down the line.
Hopefully you can now understand why I choose to forgive... even defend... Sarah Palin using language and imagery that's a part of America's gun culture to communicate. It would be hypocritical of me not to.
But I hope you can also understand why I choose to believe that context is everything when it comes to something like this, and hers is hardly a message or method I can support. Respectful debate has been replaced with vicious attacks when it comes to political discourse in this country... on both sides of the political spectrum. That this will lead to violence is not surprising. That people in this country will stand for it is surprising.
Or not. I mean, you've got kids watching Elmer Fudd blow off Daffy Duck's head seventeen times for heaven's sake.
Posted on Tuesday, January 11th, 2011
And so... to the surprise of nobody possessing an internet connection, Verizon announced that the iPhone will be available on their CDMA network on February 10th at long last.
As I usually do when faced with a difficult decision, I decided to make a PRO vs. CON chart in order to figure out whether switching from AT&T would be a good move for me...
|Might actually be able to make a phone call that doesn't drop!||Would have to pay out my contract with AT&T plus buy a new iPhone. $$$|
|I get 3G coverage instead of shitty EDGE in my podunk home town!||3G may be more widespread, but is slower than AT&T's 3G.|
|Data might actually be usable in my podunk home town!||No coverage outside of the USA for most of the countries I usually travel to.|
|Possibly don't have to pay for tethering to data I'm already paying for?!||You can't talk and surf at the same time, which is VERY handy.|
|MIGHT ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO MAKE A FUCKING PHONE CALL THAT DOESN'T DROP... I MEAN, SHIT, IT'S A FUCKING PHONE!||I've had pretty good customer service from AT&T, but had HORRIBLE customer service when I was with Verizon Wireless.|
When I first switched from Verizon to AT&T, I was actually very happy. I rarely had dropped calls, and the data service was pretty good over their EDGE network. Then something terrible happened. iPhone became a raging success, and the AT&T network couldn't keep up. The release of the 3G made the problem even worse. By the time I upgraded to the 3GS, things were so bad that I thought my new phone was broken because I kept dropping calls. The 4G came out and I actually got better signal than I ever had (despite "Antennagate")... but AT&T's network was still so shitty that it didn't help.
Because I stil have a year on my AT&T contract and Verizon has shitty coverage outside the USA, I am not ready to switch just yet. And if AT&T wants to keep it that way, here's three steps they could take...
Ultimately, this announcement doesn't affect me all that much. But, if AT&T doesn't DO SOMETHING over the next year in order to improve the shitty state of their network, it could very well be a very big deal in 2012.
Posted on Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
ZOMFG! I am so much cooler than you are right now. And let me show you why...
This crappy photo doesn't do it justice... the printing is incredible. Bright, vivid, accurate color.
My new MacBook Pro GelaSkins arrived!
Because these things are printed on demand, I was expecting the quality to be pretty crappy. I couldn't have been more wrong. These things are super-sweet, and look just awesome!
My one disappointment is that they don't give you a template to construct your art on. I ended up taking a screen-shot of their "skin-maker" and blowing it up so I could try and get the Apple logo right. Except there was no way of getting the placement exactly how I wanted because the screen-shot is just a blurry mess. Even worse, the "screen proof" they show you is shockingly inaccurate. This is pretty harsh. If they are going to offer a cut-out design, they should provide a way of getting a decent template to work on. Sure registration isn't going to be dead-perfect, but having a LITTLE bit of accuracy would go a long way.
Because this is what I was expecting to get...
But, as you can see from the above photo, the Apple cut-out ended up being considerably larger than their website depicts... this caused the thick outline around the Apple logo to end up way too thin. I mean, it doesn't look BAD by any means... and people would probably never notice if I hadn't pointed it out... but, for a guy who is hung-up on good design, things like this drive me bonkers.
Anyway, if you are looking to skin your electronics, I can't recommend GelaSkins highly enough. They're a big pricey, but the quality is definitely there. I just wish that they offered a proper template so people can have the artwork look as they intend it to be.
Posted on Thursday, January 13th, 2011
Most days, I don't really have time to goof around the internet because I've got work piled up to the rafters. I do try to keep Twitter running in a corner of my desktop, however. That way when I'm on the phone or have a minute between tasks I can catch up with everybody and see if anything is trending in the world that I should know about. Today was particularly heinous, work-wise, so I pretty much ignored the outside world altogether.
Then all of a sudden I noticed that people were going nuts on Twitter. Apparently, news broke that Astrologists had the constellations all wrong, and an Astronomer was trying to set things straight. In doing so, the dates for the Zodiac had shifted considerably, and a NEW constellation had even been added! Madness!
When I went to bed last night I was an Aries... THE RAM...
But now all of a sudden I was a Pisces... THE FISHES...
That totally sucks! I don't even like fish! If my Zodiac sign simply had to change, why couldn't I get something cool like the new sign, Ophiuchus?!? I mean, seriously, just look at this magnificent bastard...
Bitchin' drawing by Johannes Kepler!
Wrestling a giant snake with your dick hanging out while crushing a massive pubic louse under your foot... all while fending off an attack by some guy with a club in a bear hat?
How bad-ass is that?
So totally me right there.
Alas, a while later it was all revealed to be a boatload of crap and a lot of gross exaggeration by the media (big surprise).
And then I remembered that I don't believe in horoscopes and Zodiac stuff anyway, and was able to move on with my life.
I mean, I was a frickin' FISH there for a few hours!
Posted on Friday, January 14th, 2011
w00t! The Seattle Seahawks have made the Divisional Playoffs in the race for the SuperBowl!
Which is kind of crazy given their losing record of 7-9, but who am I to argue with the wacky rules of the NFL?
Anyway, Tacoma's Truman Middle School here in Washington State was having a "Seahawks Spirit Day" today, where students were allowed an exception from their mandatory dress code in order to wear a Seahawks jersey. If a student didn't wish to participate in the "Seahawks Spirit Day" festivities, they could just wear the regular school uniform.
One kid, who is a Pittsburgh fan, asked if he could wear a Steeler's jersey instead. He was told no, but did it anyway, then got sent home because of it.
And rightfully so.
I mean, you break the rules, you pay the price. That's the way life goes.
Even if it's a rule that's monumentally fucking stupid.
Let's break this down...
Let's say your choice is the same one given to the students at Truman. You can stick with the school uniform you wear every other day, OR you can wear a Seahawks jersey...
Well, if you're a Seahawks fan, then this is a no-brainer. Not only do you choose to wear the jersey, you do so gladly and with a smile on your face. If you're not a Seahawks fan... or not a football fan... or not a fan of team the colors... or whatever... you may or may not choose to wear the Seahawks jersey, depending on how much you hate the school uniform option.
But what if you are not a Seahawks fan?
What if you hate the Seattle Seahawks?
Well, then the choice is a no-brainer too. You don't wear the jersey no matter how much you dislike the school uniform, because the idea of supporting the Seahawks fills you with disgust. You'd rather die.
Let me try to put this in terms that non-fans can understand.
Giving a Seahawks-hater the choice between a school uniform and a Seahawks jersey is the same thing as giving somebody the choice between a school uniform and a pink bear hat with pink shoes, pink pants, and a pink shirt that says "I (heart) Pink"...
Unless wearing something like that appeals to you, in which case it would be like giving somebody the choice between a school uniform and a hat with a giant penis on top with no pants and T-shirt which says "JUICY!" on it...
In other words, no choice at all.*
And that's why the rule was so stupid. It was presented as if the students had a choice... but some of them weren't actually getting a choice. Not really.
If you're going to have a "Spirit Day" for NFL playoffs at school, then the students should be able to wear a jersey from ANY of the teams that are in the playoffs. It's just that simple. If football is "America's game" then anything less is pretty un-American when you stop and think about it.
And that just ain't right.
* If BOTH the pink bear hat uniform AND the penis hat uniform appeal to you, then there's really nothing I can do to explain this to you. Carry on.
Posted on Saturday, January 15th, 2011
And soooo... my sister called up yesterday and wanted to know if I was interested in going up to Lake Chelan for their Winterfest celebration. Her husband would be driving, so we could take full advantage of all the festivities they had to offer.
And so we did. A lot.
Chelan is a summer resort town at the end of Lake Chelan in central Washington State. During the summer months, the place is absolutely packed with everybody converging to hang out in the city's ample sunshine. There's tons of stuff to do, including swimming, boating, water-skiing, a water-slide park, loads of wineries, and so-on and so-on. During the winter, however, the place is pretty much dead. To remedy this, they came up with Winterfest, which has live music, ice skating, parades, fireworks, and drinking...
My Winterfest Badge, surprisingly right-side-up.
We didn't listen to live music or go ice skating or watch the parade or even see the fireworks. Which left only one thing left to do...
Started with a mini-bottle, finished with a maxi-bottle!
Luckily, we ran across a back-up driver if we needed one...
Spider-Car! Spider-Car! Does whatever a Spider-Car does!
Or I suppose we could have hitched a ride on a horse and buggy...
Unfortunately, the drive-in was closed, so they had no money for some Budweiser.
The bank in town had constructed a bar out of ice, which was pretty cool. If you bought a badge for $7, your first drink was free!
And so the night of drunken debauchery begins!
My sister bought us light sabers. We were already well on our way towards getting smashed, so these were about the coolest thing in the world at this point...
After a delicious dinner at Tin Lilly's, we started bar-hopping...
Any guess as to what I might be drinking?
Bar mats are getting more and more awesome. If anybody from Jägermeister is reading, I want one of these pretty bad. Since my annual budget for your product could fund a small country and provides a significant chunk of your annual profits, I think it's the least you could do to send me one (UPDATE: As Kathairna points out, this sweet bar mat is not the Jäger stag's head logo, but instead the very cool Bacardi bat logo, which is still awesome despite my devotion to Jägermeister!)...
The best back for a shot of Jäger? A Jäger Bomb, of course!
The Jägermeister is a critical component to enjoying your evening when karaoke is your night's entertainment...
You're Horny. Let's do it! Ride my pony!!
And while I'm not going to lie and say that we didn't have entirely too good of a time. We didn't have such a good time that I ended up passed out on the floor where six rescue guys had to come collect us...
You can't see him, but the guy is on the floor. Happy. Or perhaps not.
And that's pretty much it. That heavens I had photographic evidence or else I wouldn't have remembered most of this.
Until next year!
Posted on Sunday, January 16th, 2011
You know you had a good time the night before when your stomach hurts from laughing too much.
And drinking way, way too much. But that's besides the point. Unless you're curious as to why this week's list of bullets is fairly skimpy... I think I might be dying.
• Globes. Surprisingly, I was pretty much okay with all the Golden Globe winners. Sure there were a few places where my favorites didn't win, but I can't argue that the people who did win weren't deserving (except Glee. I really, really, don't understand why people like that show). Highlights? Most of the ladies, who were looking pretty incredible. And Robert Downey Jr.'s presentation speech and Jane Lynch and Robert De Niro's acceptance speeches. Quick and entertaining is the name of the game, people.
• Seahawks. Okay. Entirely not surprising how that all turned out, but there's always a part of you which holds on to a sliver of hope despite it all.
• Schwarzenegger. And so Arnold Schwarzenegger might start making movies again. Please please please let it be true. People can diminish his films all they want, but there is no denying that they are, for the most part, highly entertaining. From his small cameo in The Expendables, it would seem he's still got it. What I wouldn't give for another True Lies or The Terminator or Predator or Commando or Total Recall or many others.
• SNL. Almost every week I find myself asking myself "Self, why in the hell are you still watching Saturday Night Live?" There are exceptions, of course (BETTY WHITE!!) and there are always bright spots no matter how crappy the show gets... but, for the most part, it's been so mind-bogglingly awful for the last several years. And then last night's Gwyneth Paltrow episode comes along and it's actually not that bad. The SNL Short with Pee-Wee Herman was awesome. Even Weekend Update was more good than bad. It would be nice to think that there's a corner being turned here... but, sadly, that's probably not the case. As usual, I'll keep watching just in case.
And now I suppose that I should try to eat something. A bit more difficult than it sounds.
Posted on Monday, January 17th, 2011
I started today the same way I start every Martin Luther King Jr. Day... by listening to his brilliant and beautiful "I have a Dream" speech in its entirety. It never fails to inspire. I actually had the day off from work on this holiday, but chose to get some things done at the office anyway. Somehow, no-pressure work days are always more productive than they have a right to be.
After work I needed bread and milk, so I was off to the grocery store. As I was walking down the aisles, a box of crackers started screaming at me. After investigating, I found out it wasn't actually crackers, it was something stupider than a box of crackers. It was a motion-sensor voice-recording of this asshole...
I always wondered if there could possibly be anything more annoying than Fran Drescher. It turns out there is, and it's "Chef" Guy Fieri. I have no clue what the appeal is here, but he's showing up everywhere. Just look for the ridiculous "I CRAVE ATTENTION" bleached hair and listen for the manic "YOU CAN'T IGNORE ME" screaming.
Tonight was the premiere of SyFy Channel's rip-off remake of one of my favorite shows... the UK's awesome Being Human from the BBC...
The original is a funny, yet sublimely dark, drama/comedy about a Vampire, a Werewolf, and a Ghost trying to live a normal life under anything but ordinary circumstances. It is surprisingly entertaining despite the schlocky premise. But, for reasons that continue to escape me, SyFy (in collaboration with Canada's Muse Entertainment) feels that they need to cash in on the vampire craze and remake the show for North American audiences instead of just airing the Real Thing or trying to come up with something original.
The resulting Being Human do-over is... interesting...
It is in no way a "bad" show. I think the actors do a pretty good job with the material considering they're basically re-treading territory that has already been deftly explored on another continent. And there's the problem. If you've seen the original, this is going to feel like an inferior copy by comparison. Because it is. It's less subtle, less charming, and (surprisingly) less... human(?)... at least from what I've seen so far.
And yet I will be watching next week.
Something tells me that the show holds promise of becoming something more than a copy. If the people involved want it badly enough! Just like The Walking Dead is making some interesting diversions from the comic book source material, Being Human has a chance to grow into a show of its own. And I want to see that show. There's definitely room for me to enjoy both of them if our revision should prove worthy.
Which is exactly opposite of the reason I will not be watching MTV's remake of the shocking BBC program Skins which takes a scary look at what teenagers are doing with their lives. In that case, one show is more than enough.
Posted on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
Right now. Right this minute. I want nothing more than to assault a Kate...
I know this totally goes against the new anti-violence sentiment that is sweeping the Nation...
...but I've always been an aggressive eater when it comes to dessert.
And she totally has it coming for being so gosh-darn delicious.
Posted on Wednesday, January 19th, 2011
Next week I'm leaving the country for a bit. As the clock is ticking down, I've been working day and night so that I can get all caught up before I go. This way, I avoid a bunch of last-minute stress. I also avoid having to take loads of work with me, which is the ultimate goal.
Unfortunately, The Universe is not cooperating, so I decided to bail for an hour and get my hair cut.
I wish something interesting had happened so I'd have something cool to blog about.
I didn't get a bad haircut...
I didn't get my ear cut off...
And I wasn't abducted by aliens and anally probed...
Nope. I got a great haircut with no bodily harm and no bodily foul.
Sorry about that.
Posted on Thursday, January 20th, 2011
"Dude, that's pretty fucked up. She's the worst person ever."
Ordinarily, I tend to ignore hyperbole. Exaggeration is such a huge part of everybody's vocabulary now-a-days that you pretty much have to. Not that you can really blame people. When you're inundated by sensationalism in movies, television, music, advertising, and the news, it's only natural that it's going to migrate to everyday conversation. This can sometimes make it difficult to accurately gauge the severity of a situation, but it certainly makes a phone call a heck of a lot more entertaining.
And yet there are some people who are not prone to hyperbole at all.
Like my friend Sam.
So when he declares that somebody is "the worst person ever" it gets my attention.
And who is this woman who has become the subject of his ire? Sarah Palin? Judge Judy? Ann Coulter? Hillary Clinton? Nancy Grace? Michelle Malkin? Elisabeth Hasselbeck? Paula Deen? Tyra Banks? Martha Stewart? Paula Abdul?
No. None of the obvious suspects. Turns out it was Cathy Cruz Marrero.
"Who the fuck is Cathy Cruz Marrero?" I ask.
"She's that dumbass that fell into a fountain while texting," Sam says, his words dripping with a loathing usually reserved for telemarketers, mimes, and serial-murderers. "She's hiring an attorney because she feels humiliated that the surveillance video of her was put on YouTube..."
"Soooo... she was a dumbass, and now she wants to get paid for it?" I inquire, trying to use a tone that won't escalate the conversation.
"YES!! NOBODY EVEN KNEW WHO SHE WAS UNTIL SHE STARTED TALKING TO THE PRESS!" Sam screams. "Why can't she just laugh it off like any normal person would and consider it a lesson learned? Why is she fucking suing people for her stupidity? Worst person ever."
"Yeah, I can see where tha--"
"WORST PERSON EVER! EHHHHHHVEEEEEEERRRR!!!" I hear Sam screech into the phone. "She DESERVES to feel humiliated!"
And so she does.
It's things like this that make me wonder if there's no limit to people's shame or lack of personal responsibility. This woman claims that mall security should have dropped everything and come running to make sure she was okay when she fell into the fountain (instead of standing around laughing). Well, WATCH THE VIDEO, MORON! You hopped out of that fountain almost immediately, then walked off. Obviously you were okay, so there was nothing more to do except stand around and laugh at your stupid ass. I'm sure if you laid there unmoving face-down in the water, their reaction would have been completely different. But that didn't happen. Your ridiculous antics were entirely your own fault, the mall doesn't owe you a damn thing for being a dumbass, and your humiliation is entirely your own fault. So suck it up and stop being the worst person ever.
Because if Sam says it from the bottom of his hyperbole-free heart, that's exactly who you are*
*Hitler and sharks notwithstanding, I'm sure.
Posted on Friday, January 21st, 2011
Kill me. Kill me now.
I am dealing with a raging migraine headache just now, and that's no fun to blog about. Instead I think I'll just steal The Stupid Evil Bastard Meme I just saw over at Erik's blog.
Oddly enough, this "Stupid Evil Bastard Meme" seems to have evolved from another meme that I did six years ago. Some of the questions are the same. Many are different. I guess over the years people just changed a question here or there that they didn't like, and this is where we are now. I wonder what it will look like six years from now when it makes the rounds again?
Posted on Saturday, January 22nd, 2011
Ooh! There's lots of new television happening lately!
And though I've got work piled to the rafters, I'm watching it all so I don't risk missing something great. Well, not all of it, but a lot of it. Here are the shows I found that are worth talking about...
Episodes • Showtime, Sundays @ 9:30pm.
A long time ago in a magical far away place known as "Hollywood," I worked for nine long months on a project that was doomed to failure from the very first minute I arrived. Of course I had no idea. That's because nobody told me, even though they knew it all along. On the contrary, most everybody I ever met told me the exact opposite of what was really happening at any given moment, because keeping you happy with a fog of sunshine, half-truths, and lies is the horrifying reality of how things work in Hollywood. Not for everyone, of course, but for most people. Including me. Episodes is a 7-part series about Sean and Beverly Lincoln who are a husband-and-wife team responsible for a wildly successful British television comedy about the headmaster of an upper-crust English school. They are lured to Hollywood with bold promises and tempting perks to create an American version of their hit series. The show is, of course, doomed to failure from the very first minute they arrive. Their witty and smart headmaster played by a respected British actor is re-cast as a hockey coach played by Matt LeBlanc ("Joey" from Friends) and things just get worse and worse. There are some laugh-out-loud moments, but the show is so eerily accurate to my "Hollywood Experience" that I spend most of my time having nasty flashbacks and can't enjoy it properly. Still, it is surprisingly good despite it all, and I can't wait for each new episode. Watch it from the beginning if you can.
Onion News Network • IFC, Fridays @ 10:00pm.
Started as a satire newspaper at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, The Onion is most widely known for their scathing parodies of popular news. I first discovered it in Milwaukee back in the 90's, and became an instant fan. This was made a lot easier in the late 90's when took their brilliance online. The crazy news stories were quickly eclipsed by even crazier news videos that were funnier than most anything else you could find...
It was only a matter of time before The Onion got a television show to string together all their hilarious videos, and here it is. Packed with plenty of laugh-out-loud bits and "I can't believe they did that" moments, The Onion makes no attempt to cover actual news and instead invents plausible events that could be true but, thankfully, are not (much like most news organizations now-a-days). This is must-see essential television viewing.
Portlandia • IFC, Fridays @ 10:30pm.
Anybody familiar with Portland, Oregon knows that the city is ripe for parody, thus Portlandia was born. Pegged as a place where the ideal of the 90's are still alive and well, the show features interconnecting sketches staring SNL's Fred Armisen and Portland guitarist/actress Carrie Brownstein as an assortment of unrelated characters. Over the course of a half-hour, they poke fun at the Birkenstock-and-granola culture of the city with a loving, yet brutal touch. The result is kind of hit-or-miss but, overall, I found it funny and plenty entertaining. The trick will be keeping things fresh once the novelty has worn off. There's only so many jokes about soy lattes, feminist book stores, and organic food you can make... and most of them are in this first episode.
Harry's Law • NBC, Mondays @ 10:00pm.
It would be easy to dismiss this as yet another one of David E. Kelley's quirky legal shows (which it is) except for one big thing... it stars Kathy Bates. The incredible Kathy Bates who can appear in absolutely anything and be brilliant no matter how bad the material may be. Here she plays "Harriet Korn" a patent lawyer who gets fired from a posh law firm and ends up opening up her own practice in a former shoe store. The quirky gimmick being that her assistant insists on continuing to sell shoes, so the shop ends up being a combo law-office-slash-shoe-store. Ha ha ha. Ultimately, there is nothing new here. David E. Kelley is being David E. Kelley with his typically over-the-top stories and dialogue that shoehorn legal drama into alternating wacky and heart-breaking situations. Meh. Kathy Bates will keep me tuning in, but I'd watch her in a 30-minute infomercial for laxatives, so that's no big feat. Ultimately Harry's Law has a lot of room for expansion and improvement, and I am hopeful we'll see both. But I would be deeply saddened if Kathy Bates was pulled down into the lunacy that Ally McBeal and Boston Legal became, so this necessary move may end up ruining the show. Time will tell. I would probably rate this a C- if not for Bates, which knocks it up a grade.
Fairly Legal • USA Network, Thursdays @ 10:00pm.
I will preface this review by saying I have fallen in love with series star Sarah Shahi. Very few people could elevate the rather flat and uninteresting story to be found in Fairly Legal to anything worth watching, but Shahi has an infectious energy that does just that. Kate Reed is a competent lawyer working at her father's law firm, but decides she's had enough and quits to become a mediator. Then her father dies, her step-mother takes over the law firm, and suddenly Kate is having to keep a lot of balls in the air as she juggles her professional and personal life (including an ex-husband who happens to work for the District Attorney). That could be a great concept for a show, but it doesn't work as well as you'd hope. The writers seem to think that having Kate rush around town perpetually late for appointments in her overloaded schedule is charming, but it gets very annoying very fast. It's as if they just don't know what to do with her when she's not mediating, so they pile on a bunch of crap in a failed attempt at filling space with frantic humor that doesn't quite gel. I can only hope that things will eventually settle down so they can focus on Shahi's performance instead of her running shoes.
Man I wish I didn't love television so much, it would open up a lot of free time.
Posted on Sunday, January 23rd, 2011
I'm a little depressed tonight because Hannah Montana is over. I'm also a little stressed because I'm leaving the country later this week. I'm also a little hungry because a slice of toast doesn't make for a very fulfilling dinner. And I'm also a little tired because I've been sleeping even less than usual. Life can be so hard.
• Forever? After putting it off as long as I could, I finally decided to watch the very last final forever episode of Hannah Montana. I fully maintain that it's one of the funniest shows on television, and always enjoyed it as an entertaining distraction from life. Though it definitely lost something in the last season (especially after Miley retired Hannah and revealed her secret to the world)... I think they wrapped it up on a high note. The cameo appearances by Amber & Ashley and Jesse & Oliver were a nice touch. Jackson and Rico had a great moment. Miley and Lilly had a terrific send-off. I honestly can't think of a way they could have ended the show any better. Good bye, Hannah...
• Incomprehensible. When it comes to organizations like The Trevor Project which was created to prevent suicides among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth... I never know how to feel. Part of me is saddened to the point of despair that such organizations have to exist. Part of me is angry to the point of blind fury that such organizations need to be formed at all. Part of me is relieved to the point of anguish that such organizations do exist for youth who desperately need their help. Because when I read about all the violence against kids who are different and just trying to get through life one more day... and when I read about yet another suicide from some poor teenager who couldn't take the abuse any longer... and when I remember back to when one of these kids reached out to me for help because he had nowhere else to turn... there is no emotion inside of me that is not affected. I simply cannot fathom how anybody could torture a young life to the point where The Trevor Project needs to be there to talk them out of taking their own life. Even more incomprehensible is how we live in a society which would allow such a thing.
But it gets worse. Entirely too many people are happy to write this off as "a gay problem" and ignore it. But anybody paying attention knows that this just isn't true. Bullying knows no boundaries. Earlier this week a young girl in Pennsylvania may have committed suicide because of bullying... and there's nothing to indicate it had anything to do with her sexuality. At some point people are going to have to stop treating youth suicide as "a gay problem" and start treating is as everybody's problem. Thinking your kid is excluded is the first mistake. Get involved.
• Olbermann. I never watched Keith Olbermann's Countdown for the same reason I never watch anything on FOX News... it's all just destructive partisan bullshit rhetoric designed to tear this country apart. What kills me is the outbreak of sheer joy by Conservatives across the blogosphere now that Olbermann and MSNBC have retired Countdown. I mean, who gives a shit? It's not like any of them watched his show. Keith Olbermann was just somebody to hate. As usual, the venom being unleashed by the hardcore Right is baffling. The general consensus seems to be something like "HA HA! I'M SO HAPPY OLBERMANN'S DISGUSTING LIBERAL TRASH IS OFF THE AIR!" which is ironic on so many levels. I mean, as opposed to what?!? The disgusting CONSERVATIVE trash that's being unleashed daily from shows like The O'Reilly Factor and The Sean Hannity Show and The Glenn Beck Program?
If FOX News is where somebody chooses to get their information, more power to them. This is a free country, and people can believe what they wish (at least for the time being). But saying FOX News is some kind of "fair and balanced news source" instead of the partisan propaganda machine it obviously is... then crucifying Olbermann for doing the same thing on the opposite side of the fence... it's just plain stupid. All any of these people ever do is keep Americans at each other's throats because it makes them money. I choose to repudiate such reprehensible, anti-American behavior in the hopes that we can all be respectful of each other's opinions and beliefs and work together to make this a great country FOR ALL OF US. Granted, this is even more delusional than somebody believing FOX News isn't partisan hackery, but at least I don't go around hating people because somebody tells me to. I hate people because of their actions... just like our Founding Fathers intended.
• Limbaugh. And one of the people I choose to hate for their actions is Rush Limbaugh. This absurdly stupid pile of shit apparently has an amazing talent to make people turn off their brains when they listen to him. Unbelievable, I know, but it's the only explanation that makes any sense when you hear the vile bullshit he spews every time he opens his mouth. His latest racist rant against the Chinese offends me on so many levels that I couldn't even listen to his fucked-up crap until Steven Colbert injected jokes into it...
I mean, seriously. What the fuck?
How could anybody listen to such utter idiocy and take Rush Limbaugh seriously? Who could hear this bullshit and think Rush Limbaugh is not a complete dumbass? He doesn't comprehend how anybody could possibly communicate in any language except English? He doesn't understand that waiting until a somebody finishes speaking to a live audience before interrupting with a translation is just extending respect and courtesy due a WORLD LEADER? He doesn't think that if there was a major mis-translation of the speech that anybody would notice? He thinks making fun of a language spoken by over a BILLION people with "ching chong chung ching chang" isn't offensive? He honestly feels that President Obama being polite by paying attention to Chinese Paramount Leader Hu Jintao is stupid because Obama doesn't understand Chinese? (what the fuck would Rush Limbaugh do? Take out a Q-Tip swab and clean his ears?). What am I missing? How do people not see that Rush Limbaugh is nothing more than a moron with a severely diminished mental capacity and a microphone?
It's one thing to be upset over China's sad record on human rights. Or to be upset that the USA owes China such a staggering sum of money. Or to be confused by the customs, languages, and laws of foreign countries. But it's another thing entirely to think that being a self-important, xenophobic, rude asshole to a visiting foreign leader is how we should be conducting foreign diplomacy. It is painfully obvious that the people of this nation desperately need to travel outside our borders (not necessarily physically) and see more of the world so that disgusting voices like Rush Limbaugh's don't define our ignorance. Sadly, it may already be too late.
And, on that sour note, I think it's time for bed. Just maybe I'll actually be able to get some sleep tonight.
Posted on Monday, January 24th, 2011
Today just sucked. It sucked hard.
And at every point I thought that it couldn't get any worse, it did. All day long I kept telling myself that it would all get better once I headed home. Everything would be okay if I could just get through the day.
I was wrong, of course.
This is what happened to ME today after work (I'm in the blue car)...
It was one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen. Somebody ahead of me changed their mind about where they wanted to go. Rather than continuing down the road and making a legal turn later on... they cut back in front of me. Had I not slammed on the brakes, I would have crashed right into them. I still don't know if they saw me and didn't care, didn't see me and didn't care, or didn't care and didn't care.
Just goes to show... once things start to suck, they just go on sucking until somebody dies.
So long as it's not me, I suppose I can live with that.
Posted on Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
They're just words.
Whether you support President Obama, don't support President Obama, love President Obama, loathe President Obama, agree with President Obama, disagree with President Obama... in the end they're just words.
And yet... words can be very powerful things. Words can inspire. Words can bring comfort. Words can bring hope.
Words can also bring pain, fear, and discord.
And while I don't agree with everything President Obama says or does when it comes to his presidential politics, in the end I think that his words paint him as a true patriot. A patriot who is trying his best to inspire, comfort, and bring hope to a desperate nation in difficult times. He believes that the ideals of his administration are the best hope for this country and the citizens who call it home. And even though there are those of us who may disagree with his politics, I think it is a mistake to paint him as anything except a man trying his best to do what he feels is the right thing for our country.
That being said, I am neither inspired, nor comforted, nor given hope by President Obama's State of the Union address this evening.
Because I know... I know... that right after President Obama's speech... and after Representative Paul Ryan's response to his speech... and after wack-job, dumbass, crazy-ass, bat-shit insane Representative Michele Bachmann's response to Paul Ryan's response to President Obama's speech...
... it's back to politics as usual.
Because there is simply too much money to be made on both sides of the political spectrum in keeping pain, fear, and discord alive in this country.
Money that the vast majority of us will never see.
It's not a Republican thing. It's not a Democratic thing. It's not a Liberal thing or a Conservative thing. It's not Right or Left or Blue or Red thing.
It's a money thing.
That used to be a people thing.
And really needs to be a people thing once again.
Hopefully sooner rather than later.
But those are just words too.
Posted on Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
Annnnnd... I've avoided it for as long as I possibly can. Time to pack my suitcase so I can get up at 3:30am and catch my 6:00am flight.
I really hate packing.
See you on the other side of the Atlantic...
Posted on Thursday, January 27th, 2011
For those who don't fly very often... i.e. people who jet off on vacation every other year and make an occasional trip home for the holidays... air travel can be a mystifying, frustrating, and altogether torturous experience. I try to keep this in mind when people feel the need to say something like "OH GAWD! YOU'RE TRAVELING AGAIN?!? I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU DO IT! I WOULD DIE IF I HAD TO FLY AS OFTEN AS YOU DO!" To which I usually reply "Well, eventually you get used to it."
But the truth of the matter is that the travel experience for a frequent flier can be considerably different than that of somebody who doesn't travel much.
It would have to be, or else those of us who fly 180,000 miles a year would be blowing our fucking brains out.
Fortunately, most airlines understand that frequent travelers have a different set of needs and an entirely different mind-set from the huddled masses, and work really hard to make their travels as pleasant as possible. Mostly in the hopes that their best customers stay their best customers.
So now I am going to give a list of the top-five reasons my constant travel isn't quite as horrible as it might sound. I've only gotten "elite-plus" status at Alaska Air and Delta (two airlines I love more than chocolate pudding), but I'm guessing the experience is similar for other airline's frequent flier programs...
The last couple of years have been relatively "light" travel years for me, which means I only accumulated around 150,000 miles annually. That's still a lot, but pales when compared to those heady days of 2002-2006 where I flew over 200,000 miles annually and held top-level elite status at three airlines. But I still get treated very well, so that's the real reason I don't mind flying so often. It's just difficult to explain all that when somebody says ZOMFG! I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU CAN STAND TO FLY SO MUCH!!"
Though today I was kind of lucky to be flying at all because of the weather. Fog blanketed Seattle this morning, which added an air of eerie spookiness when we landed...
Things weren't looking too much better after sunrise...
It's not so bad out now, so hopefully I won't have any problems getting to Europe today.
Well, unless the airplane should explode into a massive ball of flames and fall in the ocean as I'm crossing the Atlantic. That kind of thing can totally put a damper on your trip no matter how many frequent flier miles you have.
Posted on Friday, January 28th, 2011
As I type this, it is 12:30am Saturday, January 29th in Cologne, Germany.
Since I woke up at 3:30am Thursday, January 27th in the US Pacific time zone, this means I have been awake for 37 hours straight. And yet I am still not tired. I tried to sleep on the plane, but ended up watching The Social Network again (a little more boring that the first time, but still awesome), Salt again (liked it even more the second time around), and Scott Pilgrim Saves the World again (which sucked even more the second time around, because whiny, dorky Michael Cera is NOT lady-killer slacker hero Scott Pilgrim... AT ALL. This movie could have been sheer perfection if the lead role weren't so hideously miscast).
The flight from Seattle to Amsterdam via Delta Airlines was bliss. I wasn't upgraded, but the plane was so empty that I had almost an entire row to myself, which was super-sweet. Except for the not-being-able to sleep thing, it truly was a flawless experience. As was my connection at Schiphol, as usual. Looking out the plane-window at sunrise, it was looking like a glorious day in DutchyLand...
Except... it was freezing cold. Even after the sun was out. Much like it would be when I finally ended up in Cologne. As I landed, I noticed that Gowalla had rolled out their new flight-tracker status updates, which is wickedly cool...
Not shown is my flight from Wenatchee to Seattle... probably because Wenatchee hasn't been considered an airport yet?
Anyway... after checking in at my hotel and then getting some work done, it was time to head up to Essen for some dinner with friends. While waiting at the train station, I ran across an awesome poster... I just love good advertising! That's the hugely tall Cologne Cathedral buried in snow there...
"Ihr Beitrag zum klima? Mehr Bus & Bahn fahren!"
Dinner was with my fellow Hard Rock Cafe fans, Marc & Mechthild... with vegetarian pizza hand-made by Mechthild herself, which was as beautiful to look at as it was delicious...
Easily the best pizza you'll find in all of Germany. You may commence being jealous now.
But the truly unexpected surprise of the evening was the beautiful salad that was served. I still have no idea what kind of greens these were... or even if there's a US equivalent... as I had never seen them before. Marc & Mechthild called them "winter salad," as there doesn't seem to be an equivalent name for it in English (they looked!). The greens appear to be some kind of thick four-leaf clover type-thing, tasting buttery and sweet. There's absolutely no bitter notes in the flavor at all, which made the whole thing taste like frickin' candy when tossed up with a lovely vinaigrette. I shit you not, CANDY...
If all salads tasted like this, I'd be eating a lot more fucking salads!
After-dinner conversation was all Hard Rock Cafes and world travel (two of my favorite subjects!). The time went flying by and suddenly it was 11:00 and time to take the train back to Cologne. The evening was loads of fun, despite the fact that I really should have been dead from lack of sleep. Praise be to the power of the internet for continuing to find me wonderful friends around the globe!
And now it's 12:56am here in Cologne, which means I've been awake for 37-and-a-half hours straight.
Still not tired.
I have no idea what my deal is, but I sure don't want to be around when this lack of sleep catches up to me!
Alas, I have no choice...
Posted on Saturday, January 29th, 2011
Work ended a senses-shattering three hours early, leaving me a little free time to goof around Cologne today. Having been to the city many times, I'm very much at home here, and so it's an entirely different experience than visiting a place you've never been before.
But before I get to that, I'd like to observe a moment of silence for my newly-dead Kenneth Cole dress shoes. Tonight I pulled out all my work clothes so I'd be ready to go in the morning. As I was shining my shoes, I noticed that one of them had somehow split in the back (I'm guessing my suitcase must have been crushed in transit? Or perhaps when the TSA opened my bag to inspect it, they really, really hated my shoes?). Anyway... all attempts to repair them were met with failure. So now I guess I'm going to attend work in sneakers. That'll look special.
On to my favorite things in Cologne!
No matter how many times I see the massive Cologne Cathedral, it still takes my breath away.
The light, airy, doughy inside makes "doghnuts" taste like shit by comparison!
I could eat this delicious bits of deliciousness until I asploded!
While not the same as the Dutch patatjes met, my favorite, they're still inanely delicious!
The line was crazy-long... it took me 8-10 minutes to get mah frites!!
The delicious and refreshing regional beer... usually served in tiny glasses, not steins, so you have to order lots of them.
And, lastly, since you have to pay for all this shit...
My photo turned out blurry, so this is not me. I found a photo of Neil Patrick Harris using a Geldautomat at Wincor Nixdorf.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I've had my fill of doughnuts, fries, mayonnaise, and beer for the evening, so I'm going to go to bed and hopefully get some sleep this time. Last night I managed to nap a mere two hours after being up for 38 straight hours, so I'm thinking I kind of have to sleep or I'm going to turn go brain-dead. ZOMFG! Do you think that's what happened to Sarah Palin?
Previous adventures in Cologne...
Posted on Sunday, January 30th, 2011
I just realized that I blew past my 4-year anniversary of Bullet Sunday back in October. NO CAKE FOR YOU!
• I DO COCAINE! Today was not the best day. I'm still not sleeping properly, which has me wondering why I haven't collapsed from exhaustion. Must be all that cocaine Coke I'm doing drinking. It all started when I woke up at 4:30am (after falling asleep around 1:00am). On the way to the bathroom I smacked my foot into the cupboard closet. Getting into the shower tub, I smacked the other foot. After getting dressed, I walked hobbled the five nine minutes to the tram stop... where I just missed my tram. Since there's a limited schedule on Sunday, I had to wait 22 minutes for the next one. In the cold. And of course I didn't wear gloves or a coat over my sport jacket, so I froze. To get relief for my busted-ass feet, I sat down on the bench... which is metal. Cold metal. Worried that my ass might freeze to the seat, I decided standing was better no matter how painful. My troubles weren't over once I boarded the tram, however, because when we got to the next stop there was a delay. Which means I missed my connecting tram. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
• I TAKE PICTURES! Trying to take my mind off my frozen ass, aching feet, and the fact that I was now going to be ten minutes late to work instead of twenty minutes early, I took pictures of the frost that had accumulated on the tram stop glass. It's kind of strange... kind of beautiful...
• I MOURN CHOCOLATE CHICKENS! On my way back from work at the candy show yesterday, I spotted a very cool giant chocolate chicken that some company had put on display. I wanted to take a photo, but my iPhone was somewhere in my backpack and I was too lazy to retrieve it. Instead I made a mental note to go back today and snag a shot. Much to my horror, THIS is what awaited me...
"HOLY CRAP!" I shrieked like a five-year-old girl, "THE CHICKEN... SHE'S MELTED!" And then, realizing there were other people in the room, I looked at my feet and whispered "I will avenge you, my fallen chocolate comrade." Apparently, shining a nice hot bright light on a hollow chocolate chicken is paramount to disaster. Oh well, it's sadly comforting that somebody is having a worse day than I am.
• I WORK LIKE A DRUNKEN SAILOR! Though my day may have personally sucked ass from walking on two aching feet for the better part of 8 hours... from a work standpoint it was quite rewarding. I was busy all day long and the hours flew by. But then I stopped to grab a sandwich for lunch and the world came to a halt when a man and a woman sat down at the table opposite me.
They were the single most perplexing and rude eaters I have ever encountered.
I am not exaggerating when I saw hogs have better manners.
At first I was mortified. The display was so horrendous that I lost my apetite and could barely choke down my sandwich. But, after a while, my revulsion turned to fascination. How in the hell does something so anti-social and balls-nasty ever develop? Such filthy manners simply cannot occur in nature... it's as if they were trained to be this nasty. Despite myself, I used my iPhone "Voice Recorder" to capture the sheer horror of the sounds (I'd have recorded video, but I never want to re-live that terror). This is what I witnessed...
Scarred for life, I eventually had to walk away. There's only so much of this you can take if you ever want to eat again.
• I CURSE LIKE A BEE! My iPhone has the ability to roam globally on the world's GSM network. AT&T partners with a number of different carriers in most places and offers (relatively) affordable data-roaming packages that work extremely well. EXCEPT IN GERMANY! As I blogged previously from Berlin, data and voice service on my iPhone with AT&T's roaming partner "E-Plus" sucks copious amounts of donkey schlong. When I got a call from Marc yesterday at the train station, the call quality was so bad that I couldn't make out what he was saying. Data is an absolute joke, because I've used up 75% of my megabytes and have nothing to show for it. Web pages don't load. Emails get stuck while downloading. 3G drops constantly and won't re-connect... I usually have to end up rebooting my phone two or three times just to make a Gowalla check-in, because a reboot is the only way I've found to get data back. And all the while you are struggling to get any kind of data connection, your expensive allotment of megs is running like water. I know that AT&T's is not responsible here (I have zero problems in every other country I've visited), but I still blame them. They shouldn't advertise that you can roam in Germany when, for all intents and purposes, you can't. I have screenshot after screenshot after screenshot showing the problems, so hopefully I can get my money back...
• I EAT SOMETHING I CALL DINNER! Instead of making the long trek to my favorite fried-potatoes-and-mayo place (again) for dinner, I stopped at a nearby kebob shop for greasy potato goodness. Unfortunately, they tasted awful, and I had my fill half-way through. I thought I might go drop my stuff at the hotel then go back downtown for a proper dinner, but I was tired and the trams run infrequently on Sundays. Soooo... I ended up eating candy samples for dinner (since I'm not a buyer, I generally don't take any samples at the candy show, but some companies give them to you anyway). Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how much sleep I get while fighting this sugar-high and nightmares of food-smacking whores. Anything over two hours would be a gift.
And that's all she wrote.
Tomorrow. Cologne. I'll go to Cologne, and I'll think of some way to get my appetite back. After all, tomorrow is another day!
Posted on Monday, January 31st, 2011
One of the down-sides to working in a time zone eight hours from home is that you essentially put in two full work days. First there's eight hours on-site, then there's another eight hours as your original time zone gets to work and you're inundated with another round. Mondays, as you might imagine, are the worst. And so I do what I've been doing for years now, knock off work early on Mondays so I can decompress for an hour or two before starting in again. It may not cut down on the amount of work to be done, but at least it keeps me sane.
While at the candy show today, I dropped by to see if the chocolate chicken had been replaced but, alas, she hadn't. If anything, she's gotten much worse now that the beak and eyes have melted away. This is what I'd imagine a chicken with the ebola virus would look like...
Today was yet another busy day working, which was nice. The problem is that I am so exhausted by the end of it that there's really no time to see much of Cologne except the inside of my hotel room. It would be sacrilege to not pay a visit to the Hard Rock Cafe here, but I just don't have it in me. Tomorrow is my last day in the city, so I suppose I'll force myself to make the effort. In the meanwhile, I find a great deal of money can be saved on meal expenses by accepting kind offers of food samples from the vendors at the candy show. To avoid going into a sugar coma, I pass up the vast majority of opportunities, but how can you say no to a freshly-made Dutch poofenwafel? You can't...
A hot and delicious Stroopwafel fresh from the grill and filled with warm caramel goodness.
While wandering back from lunch, I happened across a vendor with this piece of awesomeness splashed across the outside of their show booth...
It looked like some kind of sweet metal band cartoon for kids, which is exactly what the world has been missing.
Turns out it's an animated show based on a wildly successful film franchise and book series here called Die Wilden Kerle (which translates into "The Wild Soccer Bunch"). From what I could understand, it's basically a German version of the American Bad News Bears movie but with soccer instead of baseball. All I know is that I want one of those awesome one-eyed monster logo
Annnnnnd... time to try and get some sleep.
Posted on Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
So very tired...
The weather in Cologne today was odd. It was dreary and cold, but not the kind of cold that lands on you... it was more a general cold around your immediate vicinity. Sure I could see my breath and needed a jacket, but wearing gloves was too much, and my hands were perfectly fine without them. I'm a real weenie when it comes to having cold hands, so this was kind of freaky. In a good way.
What was decidedly not freaky was that they finally replaced the chocolate chicken! Isn't she awesome?
As today was my last day in Cologne I had intended to try and wander around a bit, but I was just too exhausted and had entirely too much work to do. So instead of eating dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, I just bought some pins and a T-shirt while breezing through after work...
It's a fairly small property, but has all the classic Hard Rock fixin's so I really like it here.
Alas, I didn't have time to hang around, so dinner consisted of glorious Patatjes Met "Pommes Frites mit Mayo" with a delicious Spritzringe and a Coke back at my hotel room for dessert...
While I was walking to the tram stop so I could get "home" I noticed some interesting things:
ONE: HINDENBURG! After the movie Titanic made a gazillion dollars, I remember asking when somebody would get around to making a modern movie drama about the Hindenburg tragedy...
Apparently they now have, as I've seen the posters around Cologne...
"Ein Traum von Ruhm" - "A Dream of Glory"
TWO: MADONNA! I've lost count of the number of times I've walked through Neumarkt, but this is the first time I can ever recall seeing this Madonna & Child statue glued to one of the buildings on the Eastern loop. While I'm sure it must have been beautiful at one time, it's kind of creepy now that pieces have fallen off and it's been partially eroded by pollution and the elements...
THREE: BANNED! I never take food or drinks onto the tram anyway, but I found it funny that fries and mayo are specifically banned on the signage (along with coffee and Kölsch/beer)...
And now I suppose I should probably pack my suitcase. I've got a long, strange journey ahead of me tomorrow, and the last thing I want to have to do when I wake up is pack before rushing off to the airport.
Posted on Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
It must be karma. I write about how travel really isn't that bad for me just six days ago... then today I proceed to have one of the single worst travel days I can remember in twenty years. Seriously, I sit here wracking my brains trying to come up with something that went right today... just one little thing that I can cling to... and there isn't anything.
• I check out of my Cologne, Germany hotel and have to pay nearly $100 for internet over 5 days. $100 for something that was supposed to be free...
And yet, no amount of discussion when I checked in could dissuade them from charging me for internet. Even calling up their own website did nothing to forward my cause. Since I had to have internet for work, there was nothing I could do but pay it.
• It snowed last night. My suitcase wheels keep getting gummed up with slush, so I end up dragging my suitcase for ten minutes to the tram stop. On the plus-side, this cleared the sidewalk for everybody else.
• It's foggy at the airport, and so my flight out is delayed. This is very, very bad, because...
• I have flown into Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport once. Every other time I've visited the city, it's been by train. I have never had to transfer planes there, so the total nightmare that ensued was entirely unexpected. After landing, LATE, the plane ended up racing around the airport for a good twenty minutes before we got to the gate. My arrival into Terminal 2-G necessitates exiting security and taking a long bus-ride though the French countryside so that I can get to Terminal 2-D and go back through security. By the time I finally got to the gate, they were already boarding the plane. So much for a bathroom break on my nonexistent 1-hour-40-minute layover. I can't wait to do this all over again on my way back.
• You know those flights that are so bad that having the plane go down in flames would actually be preferable to enduring it? Yeah.
• It will come as no surprise that my luggage was lost when I finally made it to Málaga, Spain. I can only imagine that it's still making the trip from Terminal 2-G to Terminal 2-D at Charles de Gaulle. Here is the "Passenger Kit" I got to survive on until my bag (hopefully) arrives tomorrow...
• I try to arrange pickup from my airport hotel's courtesy shuttle only to find out that there isn't one. This comes as a bit of a surprise, because it clearly stated that this is a feature of the hotel on their website...
I guess hotels can write whatever the fuck they want to on their website and not have to deliver.
• Since there's no shuttle, I end up taking the bus. Except the bus driver ignores my stop request and so I have to back-track with a 25 minute walk along a busy highway.
• This same noisy highway runs directly by my hotel. Which would ordinarily be a problem, except there's a major construction project next door with trucks, bulldozers, and lots of other heavy equipment, so I can barely hear the highway noise. Since it's now 7:00pm, I can only guess that the construction runs around the clock. As if all that weren't bad enough, the hotel is apparently trying to "camouflage" the noise by blasting elevator music in the hallways at full volume. Thank heavens I have earplugs, though I sincerely doubt they'll do much good against the full-on audio assault in this room.
And there you have it. A day where absolutely everything went wrong. I can only hope that things improve tomorrow or else I may never want to travel again.
Posted on Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
It should come as no surprise that I love Spain. Since I've started this blog I've been here in 2005, 2007, 2009, five months ago in 2010, and now today. It's probable I'll be visiting again next year because there's still so many places left I want to see.
This is my first visit to the Costa del Sol in the south of Spain, and it kills me that I am only here for two days. Tomorrow I plan to explore Málaga proper, but today was spent down the coast in Marbella. I had hoped to get on some kind of tour so I could go in-country and see a bit of beautiful Ronda but, alas, it wasn't meant to be. Maybe when I eventually get around to visiting Seville and Granada I can manage to see the city then.
Anyway... I awoke to a weather map that looked like this...
Coast of the sun indeed. Just yesterday I was schlepping my suitcase through the snowy sidewalks of Cologne.
Marbella is a major vacation city of the Costa del Sol, and home to many famous and extremely wealthy people. As a playground for the über-rich it also includes a marina complex, known as Puerto Banús, which was my ultimate destination today because it's home to the Hard Rock Cafe Marbella...
The rest of the day was a delicious mish-mash of good food and cool places to walk though in Puerto Banús...
And onward to Marbella...
Just a few photos from a beautiful day in a beautiful city!
And now off to bed before my legs collapse. I spent entirely too many hours walking today.
P.S. My suitcase was at the hotel waiting for me when I got back from dinner. As always, everything seems to work out in the end. Though all I really know for sure is that I'm glad to have clean underwear again...
Posted on Friday, February 4th, 2011
Another flawless day on the Costa del Sol with blue skies and a slight breeze to keep it from getting hot.
I had some work to do in the morning, but rushed through it so I could make it out to Málaga proper for lunch (TAPAS!!).
After lunch I decided to climb up to Gibralfaro Castle then work my way down to the Central Historic District. The climb itself was kind of nuts, and I was wishing I had just taken a taxi or tour bus to the top. Instead I ended up tired and with blistered feet. Oh well. The city was a lot of fun to explore, and the perfect weather didn't hurt either.
Just a few of the hundreds of photos I took...
Would have been nice to have even one more day... but I'm grateful for the few days I had.
Posted on Saturday, February 5th, 2011
Today was a "wasted" day spent traveling. It all started when I woke up early so I could catch the hotel courtesy shuttle to the airport for my 7:00am flight. Except the hotel LIED about having a courtesy shuttle, so I instead paid a taxi €15 ($20) for a three-minute ride to the airport. I would have walked, but it was pitch-black and I'd have to travel over two ditches and through a construction site to get there. When I had attempted it previously, I had barely made it there alive in broad daylight, so I figured my life was worth the $20.
The flight from Málaga to Paris was uneventful except, of course, having to deal with Charles de Gaulle airport once I arrived. Since I was avoiding the dreaded Terminal 2G this time, I thought it would be smooth sailing. Except it wasn't. Getting from 2D to 2F still required exiting and re-entering security, which is stupid as fuck. At least I had time to use the bathroom this time. Barely.
If forced to choose between a kick to the balls and having to transfer planes at Charles de Gaulle Airport, I'd have to give it some serious thought.
And then choose the kick in the balls, because that's a pain which will eventually end.
Weather at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam was mostly gusting winds, which had been canceling flights all morning. Fortunately, I made it out and arrived only 20 minutes late because...
DutchBitch drove to the airport for a quick meet-up, where she bought me some DutchyLand deliciousness...
Since I had missed meeting up with Dutchy when she was last in Florida, it was nice to get caught up for an hour-and-a-half. I also had to tell her about the sphincter-puckering landing my plane made into Amsterdam. I've flown in some pretty crazy shit and don't scare easily, but the wind was so bad that I thought for sure we were going to crash into the runway and explode. What an awesome way to die that would have been. DutchBitch promised to toss some patatjes met out onto the flaming remains of my plane if the worst were to happen, so at least I would have died happy.
Alas, our chat was over far too quickly, and it was time for me to catch my flight back to Cologne. This time the flight was fine. My luggage didn't get lost in Paris. And my airport hotel which promises a courtesy shuttle actually has a courtesy shuttle. So I guess it's all good in the end.
Until tomorrow when I fly back home...
Posted on Sunday, February 6th, 2011
Blargh. Two days of travel have left me more dead than usual. On to the bullets while I still have a will to live...
• TequilaCon. Unfortunately, there will be no TequilaCon event in 2011. In previous years, we've been extremely fortunate that the stars have aligned and everything has come together to make for an awesome event... but it just isn't happening this year for one reason or another. So rather than forcing together something mediocre, calling it "TequilaCon," and leaving people disappointed, we've decided to take a pass this year. The last thing anybody wants is to go to the time and expense of attending TequilaCon only to have it not live up to the high expectations set by previous years. As for the future... who can say? So long as there is tequila somewhere out there in the world, the possibility for a new TequilaCon will always be there. In the meanwhile... thanks for all your support. May your limes be juicy and your salt be salty until next we meet. Jenny, Brandon, Dave2, Vahid, and Mr. Tequila...
• Mayo. One of these days I'm bringing an extra suitcase with me so that I can pack it full of creamy delicious Dutch mayonnaise. I would have tried to smuggle a jar back this trip, but US Customs are real tight-asses when it comes to bringing superior food products into the country. The bastards.
Please note that I was NOT the person who opened the jar of mayo on the right, ate a few spoonfuls, then put the jar back on the shelf. Not that I could blame this person, but it wasn't me.
• Seriousness. But in all seriousness, who the fuck would open a jar of mayo in a grocery store, eat some of it, then put it back? If I looked, would there be slices of bread, cheese, and ham missing too? Did somebody make a fucking sandwich at the store? What the hell?
• Honestly. I mean, truly... honestly... what the bloody fuck? Did somebody obsessed with the creamy deliciousness of Dutch mayo realize that smuggling an entire jar was impossible... but smuggling a handful down their pants might work?
• Obsessive. Okay. Okay. Okay. I'm honestly not getting all obsessive over this, but these are the things that keep me awake at night, people. WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT MAYO?
• Foreigner. This morning as I was waiting to board my flight home, I made my way to some website where a video was available. After clicking on the video, I got an error message saying "I'm sorry this video is not available in your country." This left me dumbfounded and more than a little pissed off. I don't think that people should get to put videos on the internet unless the entire internet is allowed to look at them.
• Easy. One of the many movies I watched on my way home was Emma Stone in Easy A. It wasn't that this was a film I was dying to see, but it was one of the last things available that I hadn't already seen at least twice. Much to my shock and horror, I actually enjoyed this movie. It unapologetically borrows from a lot of those great 80's flicks like Sixteen Candies, Pretty in Pink, Say Anything, and the like. And does so pretty well. It always shocks me that quality films of any genre end up being made in this day and age... but for something in the teen angst/romance genre that doesn't completely suck? Miraculous.
Olive Penderghast is a forgettable nobody high school student who decides to embrace her newfound infamy as "school harlot" once a false rumor about her losing her virginity spreads throughout the school. Hilarity ensues. Not only is Emma Stone flawless as the witty and lethally unflappable lead, but they somehow managed to assemble a genius cast including Stanley Tucci, Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson, Malcolm McDowell, and a surprisingly appropriately cast Lisa Kudrow. If you're looking for some mindless fun (that's actually fun), here's your film...
• Hard. As opposed to the total shit-stain of a movie called Life As We Know It. I mean, holy crap, does Katherine Heigl actively search out the shittiest, most pedestrian, predictable, ridiculously stupid scripts in the gutters of Hollywood to find her movie projects? How many sublimely idiotic spit-take reactions to the foul smell of baby poop do we really need? Wasn't Three Men and a Baby enough? Are we doomed to see it replayed in a movie every three years until the end of time? Granted, I fast-forwarded through most of this film as redundant pap, so perhaps some of the nuance was lost on me... but what the fuck?!?
Annnnnd... I'm spent.
There are plenty more bullets left in me, but my fingers stopped working about ten minutes ago. Just three more hours layover until I get to go home and (hopefully) sleep.
Posted on Monday, February 7th, 2011
Annnnnd my suitcase was beat to shit this past trip... zippers busted off, a nice gash in the side, and a handle half-way torn off. So now I am faced with the unenviable task of buying new luggage. This rates somewhere between getting a root canal and having chronic diarrhea on my Fun-O-Meter, so I'm really not looking forward to it. There's just something awful about spending big money on something the airlines actively try to destroy that makes me want to scream. I've toyed with the idea of buying cheap-ass bags, but the idea of having them fall apart so I end up chasing my underwear and toothpaste around a luggage carousel scares me more than the high price tag of the good shit.
As I am not an overly-sentimental kind of guy, I am trying my best not to get too sad over losing my travel companion from the past seven years. My faithful Samsonite roller bag has been around the world with me a dozen times, has been lost and recovered way too often, and always seemed to hold more crap than what physics would seem to allow.
Anyway... I have narrowed my choices to the folowing pieces...
Nickelodeon Spongebob Squarepants "Smile Face" Roller Tote...
Disney's "Pop" Mickey Mouse Rolling Travel Bag...
Sanrio Hello Kitty Pretty Pink Polkadots Wheely Suitcase...
Briggs & Riley "Transcend" Expandable Upright Suitcase...
Right now I'm leaning towards the Briggs & Riley bag because it comes highly recommended as a tough and durable choice for the frequent traveler. A pity it doesn't come in a more exciting design, but I guess that's the trade-off you make for getting a suitcase that's going to last a while.
I've got a couple of weeks to decide, so my fingers remain crossed that I can find Batman luggage before I have to purchase. I'd imagine there's few things cooler than pulling a Batman suitcase through the airport.
Posted on Tuesday, February 8th, 2011
I have an absurd amount of things to be thankful for. I've been so blessed in life that it seems as though I should be on my hands and knees thanking whatever gods there be every minute of every day for my abundance of awesomeness. Even the days that suck are still a paradise compared to those endured by scores of people less fortunate. Truly I am one of the luckiest people on earth.
Which is why it always catches me by surprise when the waves of depression wash upon my shore.
This morning I awoke with such a massive feeling of dread and despair that it was all I could do to climb out of bed. "What an asshole!" I tell myself. "You haven't got anything to be depressed about! You were just in frickin' SPAIN a few days ago for heaven's sake!"
Didn't matter. No amount of rationalization could make me feel better. No amount of self-analysis could reveal what had me feeling so down. No amount of chocolate pudding could erase the depression that swamped my every thought. I'm sure there's all kinds of pills available to fix stuff like this... but, alas, I don't have any of them, so all I could do was force myself to face the day.
Which sucked, of course, because the despair never truly went away. All I wanted was for the day to finally end in the hopes that I wake up feeling better tomorrow. And so I'm taking a couple of sleeping pills and going to bed at 7:00pm to speed up the process. I'll probably wake up at midnight, but no matter.
This past Sunday evening as I was flying home there was a beautiful sunset in The Cascades...
I keep thinking that if I stare at these photos long enough the world will come into focus, but the forecast remains cloudy.
Posted on Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
When I was visiting Tunisia last year, our tour stopped at a parking lot in Carthage where our guide had us exit the bus and look in one direction... towards a Islamic mosque. Then he had us look the opposite direction... towards a Christian church. He proudly told us that while Tunisia was predominantly Muslim, other faiths were welcome to worship there, and everybody gets along with their neighbors just fine even though they may worship in different ways. He then went on to say how Tunisians welcome and even encourages those of the Jewish faith to make an annual pilgrimage to their island of Djerba, where there's a famous synagogue housing one of the oldest handwritten copies of the Torah in existence. He was intent on getting across that Jews and Muslims aren't always enemies, and mutual respect goes a long ways towards a peaceful coexistence between faiths in Tunisia...
Looking one way... El Abidine Mosque
Looking the other... La cathédrale Saint-Louis de Carthage
It reminded me of when I was visiting Istanbul (in Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country) and the guide there remarked that it was not uncommon to have a mosque, church, and synagogue all within a short walking distance, with people of different faiths all living together peacefully in the same neighborhood.
Which in turn reminded me of when I was in Bali (in Indonesia, another predominantly Muslim country) and noted that a mosque, church, synagogue, and even a Buddhist temple could literally be built side-by-side with nobody thinking anything odd about it at all. The Balinese people may worship differently, but they can work, live, and play together just the same.
Not to say that some hateful morons don't occasionally come along and try to fuck up the peace for everybody. It seems there's always sad news about religious violence happening somewhere. Whether it be radical gangs torching a synagogue... or a mosque getting burned down by religious extremists... or a government committing violent acts in the name of a religion and a people they don't truly represent... or some other tragic event that undermines peaceful coexistence. But this is an unfortunate element that's present in all societies, and is contrary to the vast majority of people who simply want to live and worship in peace, regardless of what religion they adhere to.
Turns out that people are people wherever you go and, despite fundamental differences in our beliefs, it's an underlying desire to coexist in peace which unites us as humans...
Click to embiggen Scarboro Missions' excellent Golden Rule poster.
And that just reminded me of how Egyptian Muslims formed a human shield so Egyptian Coptic Christians could worship in peace at Christmas Mass after a recent bombing... just as Egyptian Christians formed a human shield so Egyptian Muslim protestors could perform their daily prayers without fear of attack during the recent uprising. In the end, these people have decided that they are all Egyptians, and banding together in unity despite their differences was their strength...
Christians form a human shield in Egypt... photo copyright Nevine Zaki
Which brings me to the entire point of this blog entry and how it relates to my country.
Because I find it alternately amusing and disgusting that the same people who feel that the USA is a "Christian Nation" and should be governed by "Christian principles" are completely losing their shit over the idea that "Islamic Nations" like Tunisia and Egypt may form new governments where "Islamic principles" play a part. As if freedom is only freedom and democracy is only democracy if they are governed by "Christian beliefs" at their core.
Personally, I think governments should be free of religious dogma and let religion function as an independent entity of personal choice (sound familiar?) but the hypocrisy of some Conservatives in the USA dictating that groups like The Muslim Brotherhood should have no voice in the government of Islamic nations is laughable. It's like if Muslims in Turkey suddenly dictated that Christian Conservatives should have no voice in the US government. Americans would lose their minds. Rush Limbaugh would fucking explode. And then he'd probably say we have to eat chicken at Thanksgiving because Turkey is anti-American or some stupid shit like that (you laugh... but remember Freedom Fries?).
And people wonder why The Middle East is so unstable. I don't want to get overly-political or analytical here, but from what I've seen with my own eyes, experienced in my own travels, and have confirmed by making Muslim friends both around the world and here at home... Islam having a voice in politics is not the problem. Forcing a country to adopt a system of leadership and government that is not representative of its peoples or serving their best interests, however, is a very big problem.
So let these countries find their own way. Encourage them to find their own way.
Because that's real democracy in action. Because that's what's going to produce a stable, prosperous country. Because that's what's going to make an ally not only for the United States of America, but for the world. People, at their heart, just want to worship as they choose and live in peace. Let this be the guiding force that rebuilds these countries. It worked pretty well for the USA.
At least in the beginning.
Yes, this may result in a government which is not in step with America's interests. Yes, there's no way of knowing where it will lead. Yes, there's a risk that some radical group might commandeer the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and get their peoples into a bigger mess than they are already in... but give the people a chance. Trust that in their heart they just want to worship as they choose and live in peace.
Just like most everybody else on this planet.
Posted on Thursday, February 10th, 2011
One of those days...
On the bright side, even heartache means you're feeling something.
And just in time for Valentine's Day.
Posted on Friday, February 11th, 2011
Posted on Saturday, February 12th, 2011
It's the twentieth anniversary of Twin Peaks! And it's being celebrated with an art show today in Los Angeles. Oh how I wish I could be there.
One of my favorite shows ever, David Lynch's epic story of secrets and murder in a small Pacific Northwest community was about the most fascinating, bizarre, beautiful, and altogether brilliant programs to ever air on television. While there have been a few shows that have tried to emulate its quirky genius over the years, there will likely never be anything quite like the strange saga of Laura Palmer ever again.
"She's dead... Wrapped in plastic..."
Even if the show wasn't spectacularly entertaining, I probably would have still been interested in watching it. Most of the exterior locations used in the series are about an hour-and-a-half from my home. David Lynch wanted to create a series that took a glimpse into the shady underside of small town living, and what he came up with was so convincing that I often felt that I could be living in Twin Peaks.
"My log does not judge..."
The tragedy of Twin Peaks is that it was canceled right in the middle of a massive cliffhanger at the end of its second season. David Lynch eventually released a movie called Fire Walk With Me which was eagerly anticipated by fans, but it ended up being more of a prequel than a sequel, and fared poorly at the box office. Even worse, it did very little to address all the lingering questions from the series.
"There is also a legend of a place called the Black Lodge..."
I haven't watched the full series in sequence since I revisited the first season five years ago, so I suppose it's time. The problem is that I'll just end up getting all sucked into the world of Twin Peaks again, knowing that it's going to be chopped off in middle of the story. I suppose it's futile, but a part of me still hopes that Lynch will get together the cast and wrap up what he started. Sure you run the risk of being disappointed, but at least you get closure.
"I'll see you again in 25 years. Meanwhile…"
Will we see another Twin Peaks project in 2015/2016 just as Laura Palmer promised? Who knows. That would certainly be awesome.
In the meanwhile... there's Fringe which is about the most messed-up show on television right now. Last night's episode approached a near Twin-Peaks-level of freakiness, which is no easy feat. It's so odd to me that J.J. Abrams shit-pile of a mess, Lost, got so much attention and blockbuster ratings when the real interesting stuff is happening over at his other series, Fringe.
Time for some cherry pie and a damn fine cup of coffee at the Double-R Diner.
"Through the darkness of futures past, the magician longs to see. One chants out between two worlds... fire, walk with me."
Posted on Sunday, February 13th, 2011
At 2:30am I ended up playing chauffeur to the hospital ER. While I was waiting, I saw a guy walk in holding one of his fingers that had gotten cut off. Holy crap. I could so not work the reception desk at an ER. I do not do well when people show up holding body parts. Or The bubonic plague.
• Debloggered. I've been noticing for quite a while now the long, slow, steady decline in blogging. It's a little depressing, but I didn't know how depressing until I was bored in the hospital waiting room and decided to edit my feed reader. It turns out twenty-eight of my feeds ended up getting deleted because they haven't been updated in over six months. Twenty-eight! I can't be sure, but I probably deleted close to that many a year ago. A few of the deleted bloggers I keep in touch with via Twitter or Facebook, so I guess that's okay. But there are others who apparently dropped off the face of the earth. A few left with a sad "this is my last entry" post, whereas others just... stopped.
A classic example is an expatriate who decided to move to Korea for a year so he could experience life in another country before getting his PhD. I found his blog during my third trip to Korea when I was Googling for... something... and kept reading because he was an interesting guy living an interesting life who had similar thoughts and hobbies (comic books!) to mine. Eventually he fell in love with a Korean girl, got married, ended up staying in Korea five years, got accepted at a school back in the USA, moved into a new apartment here with his wife, and then the entries just... stopped. It's so strange to have been a part of somebody's life for years and then =BLAM!= you have no idea what happened to them or how they're doing. I ended up doing some Google-stalking, found the guy on Twitter, then sent a request... but since I never commented on his blog, he doesn't know me and will probably ignore it.
It's the same story for a few other blogs I once followed. You get caught up in somebody's life, feel like you know them, then one day they're gone and you're left wondering. Now, granted, it's not like a blogger owes anybody anything. If they decide that blogging is no longer something they want to do, then that's all there is to it. But, even so, it's a little bit cruel. And a little bit curious. I wonder how many people would notice (or even care) if tomorrow I just... stopped?
• Fosterized. Last summer a song called Pumped Up Kicks by an unknown band called "Foster The People" was creeping through the blogosphere, infecting people wherever it landed. The song was contagious in a way that's truly rare... slamming through a catchy beat and even catchier nonsense lyrics that still haunt me months later. The odd thing being that the band was practically invisible, and finding any new material past their one song was nigh impossible. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that not only did they finally release a video for Pumped Up Kicks, they also unleashed an EP with three songs on iTunes (including Houdini, which has become permanently implanted in my head). Apparently an album is on the way. I'm hoping it sucks, because I don't know how I will be able to function with more than three awesome Foster The People songs constantly looping through my head...
• Branded. And so Russell Brand hosted Saturday Night Live last night. Compared to most recent episodes, it wasn't bad. But with the exception of Brand's monologue, Jay Pharoah's flawless Eminem impersonation, and a faux ad-spot for an offensively British movie called Don' You Go Rounin' Roun to Re Ro, it just wasn't that funny to me. By the time we got to the heinous A Spot of Tea sketch, I wanted to impale myself on my remote just to end the suffering. Surely even the people involved can't think this crap is in any way funny? Here's hoping Miley Cyrus manages to somehow have a good show in two weeks despite all evidence pointing to doom. Wow. If Hannah Montana can't make for a good episode of SNL they might as well hang it up.
• Weathered. Well, poop...
• Microsofnokia. Nokia, once the final word in mobile phones, has been sliding into irrelevance for years. First Blackberry skewered them in the business market. Then iPhone and Android served them their head in the personal smartphone market. In every way that matters Nokia was dying a slow death, never to be heard of again.
And then... Stephen Elop, a former Microsof employee (and Microsoft's eight largest shareholder), became CEO of Nokia. After a brutally honest critique of Nokia's complete lack of ability to compete in the market, Elop announced that Nokia was dumping pretty much everything and hitching its wagon to the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 train. It was spectacularly brilliant and evil. For all intents and purposes, Nokia was now a hardware division of Microsoft. For which Microsoft paid nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero dollars. When I first mentioned this, people called me a wingnut Microsoft-hating conspiracy theorist. And now another former Microsoft employee of sixteen years, Chris Weber, has just been installed as CEO of Nokia USA.
Get out your tinfoil hat!
I'd congratulate Microsoft for dropping to an entirely new level of evil, but I don't think this is going to make much difference. All they've done is ensure that what few manufacturers were making Windows Phone 7 handsets will now be embracing Android 100%. Good thing Microsoft has a lot of money, because that's about the only thing that's keeping them in the smartphone game. Alas, the same can't be said for Nokia. Since Microsoft has no financial interest in the company, they also have no risk. If this massive gamble doesn't pay off, Nokia is done for.
And let's not fool ourselves here, Nokia is done for.
UPDATE: Or billions. Whatever... this doesn't end well.
And on that sad note, I suppose I should try to get some work done before this weekend is over.
If only I could wake up...
Posted on Monday, February 14th, 2011
Happy Valentine's Day... one way or another...
Sometimes in matters of the heart, it's best to have high-caliber protection.
For my twisted valentines from previous years, visit the Blogography Valentine's Day Cards Page!
Posted on Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
I've been watching the current IBM Jeopardy! Challenge with great interest.
For those not in the know, the game show Jeopardy! has invited its two greatest champions... Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter... to come back for a special tournament where they will match wits with IBM's super-computer, "Watson." It's an interesting challenge, because Watson has to stand on his own... parsing the language of the questions and using an internal database (no internet) to formulate his answers. He then has to physically press a ring-in button, just like a real opponent would...
After the first game, Watson is destroying the competition with a $35,754 total over Rutter ($10,000) and Jennings ($4,800)... even though he missed the Final Jeopardy! question. There's another game to go, but it's pretty clear that Watson's immense collection of data and clever programming has given "him" an unbeatable edge.
What I like best about Watson is his "face" which displays a beautiful animated avatar designed by The Hype Framework. It pulses and moves with a lovely array of line-work to reflect his "thinking" in various ways...
But, as interesting as Watson is at playing Jeopardy, it's OTHER games he might end up playing that worry me. Like... say... GLOBAL THERMONUCLEAR WAR?!?
I, for one, welcome our new Jeopardy! Champion Overlord.
Posted on Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
I'm not sick, but I'm feeling like crap.
Probably because I made the mistake of taking a nap when I got home. That never works out well for me, but I was half-dead from the crazy events of the past week and couldn't help myself.
And so now I'm three-quarters-dead and have nobody to blame but myself...
Tomorrow's going to be a fun day.
In television news... Survivor sucks more and more each season because Jeff Probst tries and makes the show be about Jeff Probst. Sorry, but this show is supposed to be about the contestants. Stop trying to influence the game and manipulate Tribal Council to put the spotlight on you. It's not making the game any more interesting... it's making the game less relevant to the outcome. Just announce the challenges, initiate the conversation, snuff the torches, and SHUT THE FUCK UP. Also? Those "Redemption Island What-If Moments" are truly stupid and wasting valuable time we should be spending... oh... I dunno... WATCHING THE GAME.
In other television news... Mr. Sunshine has to be the biggest waste of television talent in recent memory. Matthew Perry, who was not only genius in Friends and Studio 60, but near-inspiring in his guest-appearances on The West Wing is wasted on mind-numbingly boring material. Allison Janney, who's run on The West Wing is legendary, has been given a one-dimensional joke of a character that's about as appealing as salmonella poisoning. They can't even get a guest-spot right, as they bring in somebody with real character like Kathy Najimy, then have her do... absolutely nothing? WTF?
In even more television news... Justified Season Two... wow. Just wow.
In Twitter news... SWOOOOOON!
BROOKE ALVAREZ! Guess I better hose down that goat's blood off my altar and take that photo!
And, on that stalker-ish note... it's almost midnight, so I suppose I should see just how big a mistake that afternoon nap was.
Posted on Thursday, February 17th, 2011
What an astoundingly horrible day. Seriously.
No matter where I went all day long, I was stepping in somebody's shit.
Why can't people just clean up their own messes so responsible people don't have to deal with their crap?
Posted on Friday, February 18th, 2011
Without change, something sleeps inside us and seldom awakens.
—Duke Leto Atreides, Dune
I've been struggling this week. A couple weeks, actually. Ever since I came back from Europe it seems as though I've been hit by one horrible thing after another and I'm starting to lose faith that things are ever going to get back to normal. Whatever "normal" is. It's like I left my life for a while, then came back to find all the things I recognize about it... missing.
Almost like it never existed and I'm just remembering it all wrong. Except I have pictures. And this blog. I'd blame the travel, but I know that's not true.
Because today as I was skimming the news sites, I figured it all out. And this is what did it...
Nooooooo! Not Giordano's! They say they'll stay open as they declare bankruptcy, but who knows how long that will last? Their cheese supplier could decide to stop delivering cheese tomorrow and where would that leave us? How can you make pizza without cheese?
And there it is.
I haven't eaten at Giordano's in quite a while... even though it's kind of a quintessential Chicago experience... but that's not the point. The point is that I always know I can go to back to Giordano's for a pizza and a beer if I wanted to...
Now I don't know how much longer that might be true. Giordano's could close tomorrow and I'd never get to have pizza there again. I don't know how much that would actually bother me if it happened, but the thought of it weighing on my mind is crushing me.
And if that's true for a pizza restaurant 1650 miles away then it's true for everything in my life.
Anything I do... anyplace I go... anyone I see... could be the last time.
I don't fear change. Really, I don't. In many ways I embrace change and welcome the new adventures it brings. But sometimes change makes you question the things you know... the things you believe in... the things that are true. And with all that doubt floating around my head lately, it's no wonder I don't want to get out of bed in the morning.
I suppose I should do something about that.
Or go to Chicago and have a Giordano's pizza and a beer while I still can.
Posted on Saturday, February 19th, 2011
Well today sucked.
You know your day sucked when the best part of it was a tub of Snack-Pack once it was all over.
More and more it feels as though life is just the shit you're forced to eat...
So you can have your chocolate pudding dessert...
Well screw that.
Posted on Sunday, February 20th, 2011
This morning I had waffles for breakfast. Isn't that what Sundays are for?
• Spy. A couple of people brought to my attention that Google Books has put some issues of Spy online for your reading pleasure! One of my favorite magazines of all time, Spy was the ultimate repository for satire writing, and had some of the most biting pranks and hoaxes ever committed. But this did not preclude Spy from tackling some serious matters in pop culture and politics as well. Hopefully Google will continue adding issues until all of them are online... that would save me from having to dig mine out of storage. If you want to take a look at what all the fuss was about, click here to visit Spy on Google Books!
• Endangered. It's that time of year when television shows are reaching their do-or-die point in the ratings. If not renewed soon, some shows I like are in danger of being cancelled...
Sadly, odds are that most of these shows are not long for this world. They'll probably be replaced with shitty "reality" shows that are inexplicably popular with the public at large. Heaven help us all.
• 18. After seeing the Mars landing hoax conspiracy movie Capricorn One on VHS rental sometime in the 80's, my mind was pretty much blown. It encouraged me to think about what actual cool stuff our government might be keeping from us. Area 51 was a good start. But the various moon landing conspiracy theories floating around became my obsession. Not so much that the landings were faked... but about what happened while we were up on the moon. And there were a lot of theories. Everything from alien encounters to extraterrestrial artifacts to weapon installations to secret missions. It was a tin-hat wearing dream come true. And now a new horror movie, Apollo 18, is being released to reveal the secret of NASA's "cancelled" final moon mission... and why we've never gone back...
It's been shot "documentary-style" (think Blair Witch Project) which I usually loathe in movies, but I just might make an exception this time if the reviews don't suck. The cheesy but intriguing trailer is on QuickTime, and the release date is March 4th.
Annnnd... I only have time for three bullets today. There are many things to be done yet today.
Posted on Monday, February 21st, 2011
Today is Presidents Day, a public holiday meant to coincide with the birthday of the first president of The United States of America: George Washington. Except his birthday isn't until tomorrow on the 22nd. But since that would be an inconvenient date from a retail business perspective, they move it to Monday every year. This way stores can have Presidents Day Weekend Sales to encourage people to spend whatever money they haven't already spent for Christmas, New Years, and Valentine's Day. And if you don't have any money left, I guess you're expected to use your credit card and go into debt (or, more likely, more into debt).
I had no intention of doing my duty and fulfilling my retail obligations today, but on my way over the mountain passes this afternoon I was told that Helly Hansen was going out of business in Seattle. Needless to say, I was compelled to drop by. I love Helly Hansen gear and since everything is 40%-50% off, I didn't have any choice in the matter...
Me in Edinburgh 1999, wearing my favorite Helly Hansen jacket.
I bought it in 1997 and am still wearing it today, 14 years later. THAT'S QUALITY!
Unfortunately Fortunately, they didn't have much left in size Large, so I didn't get the massive spending spree I was expecting. Still, I found a nice windbreaker, a couple hats, and some awesome gloves, so it was worth the trip. I also stopped for a meat-free burger at Johnny Rockets (woooo!) while I was there, so I guess it was a win-win Presidents Day for me after all (even though I had to work this morning).
And so now I'm in Seattle for a day.
Perhaps longer. A winter storm hit in the mountains tonight and is expected to dump a shit-load of snow and ice on the passes. Since my car can't use chains (no, I didn't know that when I bought it) I may be stuck.
My thoughts are with the people of Christchurch tonight. The shocking images coming out of the earthquake there are just gut-wrenching. I wish everybody a speedy recovery from such tragedy, and hope to visit your beautiful country one day.
Posted on Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
Last night I got -zero- sleep.
It seemed like all the horrors of the world just wouldn't let my mind slip into oblivion... instead I was endlessly occupied with the events in Libya, The USA, New Zealand, Yemen, Bahrain, and the rest. There seemed no way to let it all go. Instead I just laid there feeling restless and helpless all night long.
When all I really wanted to do was go home.
But I was slammed with work all day long and, when it was time to leave, I found out I couldn't. The passes were either closed or a hellacious mess, and the weather was just getting worse. After four people at work started Googling maps and pass reports, the general consensus was that my best option was to drive to Portland and make a run up the Columbia Basin tomorrow.
So here I am in Portland, feeling exhausted and destroyed...
My hetero life-partner suggested I have pizza and beer at Rocco's... where philosophers & aliens meet!
Then it was time for the awesomeness of Powell's City of Books, where I spent WAY too much money,
Not on this particular book... though I wanted to. Badly.
Then Vahid just had to remind me of Mio Gelato. The bastard.
Stracciatella gelato and Powell's Books... the perfect combo.
Classy third-floor entertainment for gentlemen!
Time for... VOODOO DOUGHNUTS!! Where good things come in pink boxes.
A maple bar and voodoo doll doughnut for dessert!
For those who have never had the orgasmic pleasure of eating at Voodoo Doughnuts, here is the carousel of awesomeness which awaits...
And so now I think I will take my aching head and tired body to bed even though it's only 8:30.
Please please please let me get home tomorrow...
Posted on Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011
And so my journey home continues... this time with pretty pictures!
Since it would still be less time to drive back to Seattle and go over the mountain passes, the first thing I did when I got up this morning was check the pass reports. One was closed. The other was "chains required" (and my car can't wear chains, even though I am legally required to carry them). And sooo... I had no choice but to continue the massive detour I was on...
This is how I usually get home. Travel time: 2hr 10min...
This is the detour I had to take. Travel time: 9hr 15min...
Well... technically it's 9 hours and 15 minutes. With my overnight stop in Portland, it actually took me 16 hours and 35 minutes to get home.
And thought the long, long drive sucked ass, there were some cool things to see along the way. My first stop? THE BRIDGE OF THE GODS! In ancient times, there was a natural stone bridge that crossed the Columbia River. Native American legend says that the bridge was put there by Manito, The Great Spirit, because he was sympathetic to the hard time people had crossing the river. A mural at the foot of the bridge shows what this looked like...
But due to a jealous rivalry between mountain gods, the bridge was destroyed (you can read all about it here). And so in 1920 we had to build our own bridge, which looks like this...
From there, I continued onward, eventually crossing the Columbia River into the small region of Maryhill, Washington. The place is kind of famous because of a World War I war memorial here... STONEHENGE! And unlike the old and busted Stonehenge in England, the Stonehenge here in Washington is new hotness...
There are a lot of wind turbines in the area...
The drive up through the Columbia Basin's county roads was pretty lonely. Most of the time I was the only driver on the road. Still, there was some nice scenery to be had...
And then, before I knew it, I was home. Exhausted and wanting to die... but home just the same.
Pretty as it was, I don't want to do this drive again any time soon.
Posted on Thursday, February 24th, 2011
A while back I got a phone call from Charter Communications, my cable company. It was a sales guy telling me that I could lock-in a great rate for more services than I currently had at less money than I was currently paying! "Wow! How can you do that?" I asked. "You're a good customer, and we want to keep you!" they said. "But what's the catch? How can I get more for less?" I asked. "No catch!" they said... "You just have to agree to a two-year contract!" I kept asking questions but, at every turn I was assured that my total bill would be less money.
Confident I had covered all the bases, I said "Sign me up!"
It ended up not being true, of course.
The first time I called because my bill was higher, I was told the increase was temporary because I made a change in the middle of a billing cycle. Today when I called a second time because my latest charge was still higher than I had been paying, they said the amount was correct. They didn't give a crap that I was promised something different. The situation was all my fault, and if I wanted to change my services, I'd have to pay $190 to get out of my contract or just suck it up and pay the extra $40 a month that I had "agreed" to.
They obviously don't know me very well. This wasn't some case of "buyer's remorse" over an agreement I made ten months ago and suddenly had second-thoughts over. This was a second complaint over an agreement I just made. I was LIED to. Twice. So here was MY plan...
I may have to pay $190 to get out of the contract of lies Charter had trapped me into... but they would be the ones paying for it. And I started my dissatisfaction campaign by posting this on Twitter:
Which was almost immediately replied to by a Charter Cable Twitter rep...
And... problem solved. Everything was fixed.
This was astounding. Somebody at Charter actually gets it. Somebody at Charter knows the value of customer service. Somebody at Charter understands that righting a wrong and keeping a customer happy is in the company's best interest. How? Let's take a look at my value as a customer to Charter Communications from the perspective of PHONE support vs. TWITTER support...
|MY CUSTOMER VALUE...|
CHARTER PHONE SUPPORT
|MY CUSTOMER VALUE...
CHARTER TWITTER SUPPORT
|AFTER ONE YEAR||$190||$1,529.16|
|AFTER TWO YEARS||$190||$3,058.32|
|AFTER THREE YEARS||$190||$4,587.48|
|AFTER FOUR YEARS||$190||$6,116.64|
|AFTER FIVE YEARS||$190||$7,645.80|
The customer service agent in phone support would have gotten the $190 early termination fee... and nothing more. Ever. On top of that, they would have had a very unhappy ex-customer who would spend their every waking hour thinking up ways of telling everybody and anybody how they had been lied to and cheated by their company.
The customer service agent on Twitter, however, now has a happy customer worth thousands of dollars to their bottom line over the next several years.
That's a $190 one-time payment vs. $1,529.16... ANNUALLY.
How do companies like this stay in business when parts of their organization don't understand the long-time value of a customer? All they see is policy regardless of consequence. They don't care what promises were made, they only care about what excuses they can make as to why they were made. They don't care about solving a problem, they only care about passing blame as to who is responsible for it.
I was told my bill would be less than I was paying.
And, in the end, it wasn't even the money that was important to me. It was the principle.
I'm not some whack-job trying to weasel my way out of an agreement I made. I'm a customer who was made a promise that was not kept. Every attempt to rectify the situation was met with more broken promises or outright defiance. Until I posted a complaint to Twitter and somebody at Charter saw it and decided my value as a customer was worth saving. And it's refreshing to know that somebody at Charter gives a crap about saving their revenue stream.
Because it only takes 131 customers.
Saving just 131 customers like me over a 5-year period is worth over a MILLION DOLLARS to Charter Communications. With money like that at stake, it's just a pity that George Vick isn't in charge of all customer service at Charter.
Because after what I've been through today with their phone "support," I have to seriously question whether the company will even be around in five years.
UPDATE: For those who asked, the problem was solved by removing all the extra "premium" channels and taking me back to the package I used to have, which is fine by me. I never cared about having the extra channels, and the only reason I added them in the first place was because I was told my monthly charge would be less money than I was currently paying (with two-year contract). Am I happy that Charter has a sales force which lies as a matter of policy? No. But I otherwise like the service I had at the price I was paying, so getting me back to where I was at is all that matters to me.
Posted on Friday, February 25th, 2011
Pig in Boots? How about Monkey in Boots?
Posted on Saturday, February 26th, 2011
When working at home I often have a DVD playing to drown out any background noise. Most times I pick a movie I've seen a bajillion times so I can focus on my work. It doesn't always happen though, because some movies I can watch over and over again without ever getting tired of them.
One of my favorite movies of all time is the Kevin Costner & James Earl Jones baseball-themed masterpiece, Field of Dreams. It's an astounding work on just about every level. The characters are rich and fully-formed. The story is deep and reflective. But it's the philosophy behind the film that is
"You know, we just don't recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they're happening."
— Dr. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham, Field of Dreams
Ever since then I've been obsessed with recognizing my significant moments while they're happening.
Today I completed a big part of a project I've been dreaming of for a long time. Right after clicking the "SAVE" button, I went and made myself a big salad with all the fixings and began to eat.
It was then that I realized I had just experienced a significant moment in my life.
ZOMFG! HAVE YOU TRIED THIS NEW KRAFT MEXICAN CHEESE BLEND WITH A TOUCH OF PHILADELPHIA CREAM CHEESE?!? IT'S FRICKIN' DELICIOUS!
Take THAT Archibald "Moonlight" Graham!
Posted on Sunday, February 27th, 2011
Welcome to a fabulous OSCARS EDITION of Bullet Sunday!
• Intro! This new tradition of inserting Oscar hosts into scenes from the nominated films just keeps getting better and better. Using technology from Inception, James Franco and Anne Hathaway go into the mind of former Oscar host Alec Baldwin to learn the secrets of hosting the show. The fact that they managed to work in Back to the Future at the end was just the icing on the cake...
Oscar telecast ©2011 by ABC Television
• The Winners! Not surprisingly, there were a few awards passed out that I felt could have gone elsewhere, but overall I was happy with the winners. Here's my break-down...
• Wrap-Up! Though James Franco faltered a bit at times, overall he and Anne Hathaway did a surprisingly good job hosting the show. The musical performances were mercifully short and half-way decent (including Gwyneth Paltrow, who I thought did a pretty good job considering she's not a professional singer... it was crazy seeing all the online haters unload on her while she performed). I also thought the presentations went very well. It will be interesting to see who hosts next year.
Annnnd... I've got a long day ahead of me tomorrow, so I guess that's all she wrote. See you at the movies.
Posted on Monday, February 28th, 2011
It's a tale as old as time, really.Against all odds two people find each other. They fall in love. They get married. They want to start a family but, for one reason or another, they can't have children. But their hearts are full and they have much to offer and so they find a way. Maybe they hire a surrogate to bear them the child they want so badly. There's much to do. Diapers to buy. Clothes to find. A nursery to build. Then all that's left to do is wait.
Nine months later, a son is born.
The happiest day of their lives has finally come.
Except in this case the happy couple in question is two Belgian guys living in France, the surrogate mother is in the Ukraine, and homophobic red tape has left a nursery empty for two years while the child is stuck in an orphanage...
In the above photo the biological father, Laurent Ghilain, is on the left. His husband, Peter Meurrens, is on the right. The empty crib in the middle is where their son, Samuel Ghilain, should have been.
A while back I read about their struggle to get a passport issued for their son so they could bring him home. I made a comment about how fucked up it was that a baby was in an orphanage when he had two perfectly good parents who were waiting for him. Literally begging for him. But nobody would hear their plea.
Then today I was emailed a link to a follow-up story.
Little Samuel is home at last...
And despite the fact that such insanity is nothing new, I watched this footage and wondered all over again how anybody could be so fucked up as to believe this child belonged anywhere except with his father. Later on, there was one part of the story that caught my attention. It was a set of still-photos showing Laurent and Peter visiting Laurent's newborn son...
And that's when it kind of hits you.
Breaking the situation down to its base elements, you end up with this...
Two images of fatherhood that would tug at the heartstrings of just about anyone, anywhere.
But put the two together, and a segment of the population inexplicably loses their fucking mind...
A child lucky enough to have two daddies who will love and cherish him forever is unacceptable. But a child who is orphaned, unwanted, or unloved is somehow better off.
A kid in a loving home is a bad thing when his parents are gay. But shoving that same kid in an orphanage somewhere is what's "best for the child."
How can anybody think this way and not be seen as anything less than a monster?
How can we tolerate a society that justifies such heinous treatment of children?
How can we live knowing that anybody could look at an image like this...
...and not see it as anything but a joyous and wonderful event?
Sometimes the people on this world we live in fill me with such depression and despair that my heart feels as though it can't take it any more. I get to the point where all I can see is the hatred that plagues humanity day after day and the weight of it crushes me so I can barely breath. All the pain, the suffering, the sadness, the death, the destruction... so many senseless horrors... they wear on my mind so heavily that I don't even want to exist anymore.
But then I watch something beautiful like this and it's all forgotten...
I like to think that one day all the bigoted assholes of this earth will be dead and forgotten to the betterment of all humanity. Indeed, some days it's the only thing that keeps me going.
In the meanwhile, welcome home, Samuel.
Posted on Tuesday, March 1st, 2011
It's on. Bring it.
My DaveToon character, Bad Monkey, was created to be the crazy-ass evil alter-ego of Lil' Dave (which you can read about here). From the beginning, he's done everything to live up to his name... he drinks, he swears, he smokes, he kicks people in the nuts, he smuggles cocaine, he smuggles weapons, he even craps his pants. And, while there's no photographic evidence, I'm pretty certain he does drugs while partying with hookers and porn stars.
And then today as I was surveying the latest damage by Charlie Sheen, it suddenly occurred to me...
Holy crap! My monkey isn't "bad" by accident... his role model is Charlie Sheen!
He's got tiger blood and Adonis DNA! And that's okay.
Because I'm tired of pretending like my monkey isn't special. I'm tired of pretending like my monkey's not bitchin'... a total frickin' rock star from Mars... and people can't figure him out, they can't process my monkey. I don't expect them to. You can't process Bad Monkey with a normal brain.
Charlie Sheen is Winning. So, hello... BANG! Winning! Bad Monkey is obviously winning. Duh!
I've to get me some of that new Charlie Sheen drug and sprinkle it on my corn flakes in the morning so I can be winning too. Apparently it doesn't show up on a drug test, so it's not like there's any down-side.
Well, unless you're a fan of Two and a Half Men.
Posted on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
Today didn't feel like a Tuesday at all.
Oh... that's because it's actually Wednesday.
Well that sure explains a lot. The problem is that I'm about two days behind in my work, so I should have spent my day wishing it was Monday.
Except I hate Mondays, so I guess that means I really should have spent my time wishing it was Sunday. But then I'd be dreading that tomorrow was Monday, so I guess that doesn't work either.
I suppose I could go for it being Saturday, except the day is almost over, so there wouldn't be much point wasting a Saturday like that.
Friday it is then.
Except it's going to be Thursday in about two minutes, which means tomorrow is going to be Friday by the time I finish this blog entry.
Wait. How in the hell did I just end up losing a week, and what the fuck happened to Tuesday?
Posted on Thursday, March 3rd, 2011
For a day that had so many things going oh so terribly wrong, something unexpected happened to make all the suffering worthwhile.I've blogged before about my love of all things Matt & Kim. They are far and away one of my favorite bands, and I have been trying for years to see them in concert. Because if there's one thing that Matt & Kim are known for beyond the awesome music they make, it's their live performances. If you weren't a fan before seeing them play, you would most certainly be one after. They have a joy and passion for playing music that makes their shows an experience to be savored...
But, alas, it has not yet come to pass. Every time they've played in Seattle, I'm away. Any time I'm in a city other than Seattle, it seems as though I've just missed them. And any time I've made plans to see them, life gets in the way. I've purchased tickets to see them perform three times (once in Seattle, once in Austin, and again in New York)... but every time I was diverted and couldn't make it.
Either somebody up there really doesn't want me to see Matt & Kim, or I'm just horribly unlucky.
Lil' Whall PC has no sympathy for Lil' Dave Mac's pain. And people wonder why I hate Windows!
So you can imagine my non-surprise when I went through their brand new Sidewalks tour schedule and saw that no dates for Seattle were listed. But then something caught my eye. There were still some dates left in their current European tour. Including March 23 in London...
Which happens to be the day I have an overnight layover at London's Heathrow Airport on my way back home.
And so now, after years of chasing them all over the USA trying to catch them live, I have a ticket to see Matt & Kim in the UK because I just happen to be in the neighborhood.
I wonder what's going to go wrong this time?
Show canceled? Trip canceled? Weather delay? Public transportation strike? Venue closing? AIRPLANE EXPLODING?
I guess we'll see. Maybe this is finally my moment. But if something does go wrong, I'm pretty sure I'll be blaming Matt & Kim. Surely after years of effort on my part, it can't be my fault that things are going so terribly wrong.
Posted on Friday, March 4th, 2011
As I've said a couple of times now, I have no use for an iPad. My iPhone and MacBook do everything I need, and an iPad would just be one more thing to carry. Sure I bought one. I kinda had to. I'm an iOS developer and needed to update app graphics for some of my clients so they work on iPad. But after I was done, I gave it to my mom. She loves it. For her, it is truly a "Magical and Revolutionary New Device," just as Apple said.
I recently started composing music again.
I used to write quite a bit of music when I was in video production. It saved me lots of time over collaborating with a REAL musician, which meant I could move on to my next project faster. Alas, eventually digital editing tools came along that made my kind of video work redundant. I stopped doing video projects, which meant I stopped making music as well.
But recently I got bit by the music bug again, and have been using Apple's "SoundTrack" and "Garage Band" apps to bang out some tunes on my Mac with an old keyboard I have. It's far from an ideal solution. I have to "fake" instruments like guitars, drums, brass, and woodwinds by "playing" them on the keyboard or using pre-made loops because I can't play them very well in real life. I can play keyboard decently. Electronic drums I'm okay at. I have played bass guitar a few times and can manage. Barely. Sax and clarinet I used to play well, but suck at now. Given my menial musical talent, I don't have much choice but to faux compose on a computer. But I manage and it works.And then I saw Apple's "iPad2 Event" and nearly crapped my pants.
They demoed the new iPad Garage Band app, and it's jaw-dropping amazing. I'd go so far as to say "fucking astounding," but I don't want to oversell things here.
Except it really is fucking astounding...
For $4.99 (FOUR DOLLARS AND NINETY-NINE CENTS!) you get such a jaw-dropping array of musical tools with such unprecedented interactivity and functionality that you would have to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on real life instruments and gear to even get even close to what Apple is offering. But they don't stop there. For instruments you might not play very well, they include "smart instruments" which assist you in working with them. PLUS an amp with stompboxes (for incorporating real guitars) AND a frickin' eight-track recording studio...
The most amazing part is how much thought went into it. It's like Garage Band was designed by actual musicians who would know what's needed to make an app like this useful. Like using the iPad's accelerometer to sense how hard you're tapping a piano key or a drum. Like using iPad's multi-touch surface to do things you couldn't even do with a real instrument. Like including properties of actual instruments so their virtual counterparts play as expected (chord dampening!).
For the music hobbyist who wants access to a "home studio" full of instruments and multi-track recording equipment (like me!) the iPad is more than a frickin' bargain... It's almost free. $500 for the hardware plus $5 for a crap-load of exceptional instruments AND a recording studio? I mean, holy shit. How can I NOT want an iPad now?
It's like the Mac version is just a clutzy imitator, and THIS is was what Garage Band was meant to be all along.
Of course, me talking about it can't possibly explain just how wonderful the app is. If you're an amateur musician... or even somebody who just likes the idea of giving music a try, you owe it to yourself to watch the Apple keynote video here (the Garage Band stuff starts
As for the iPad2 itself? It's nice. It finally includes the front-facing FaceTime camera THAT IT SHOULD HAVE HAD ALL ALONG. There's other good new stuff too, and the bump in speed and graphics will make more complex apps function better (as well as opening the door for even more incredible stuff in the future). But the miraculous thing about the iPad is not its specs. It's the extraordinary experience of using one that gives Apple the edge. This is something that competitors simply don't seem to understand. It doesn't matter if you have a tablet with a faster processor or more memory or more ports than iPad... you're not going to make a superior experience to iPad in hardware alone. It's the tight integration of hardware to software when married to truly brilliant apps like GarageBand that makes an iPad an iPad.
It's almost frightening to think of where Apple maight take us next.
Posted on Saturday, March 5th, 2011
Today started out pretty crappy at work. Then I switched to a project I actually enjoyed and things were looking up. Then I received an email with the most incredible news you can imagine and was overwhelmed with awesomeness. Which means this has ended up being one of the best days ever. Now I don't want to go to sleep and have the day end, because tomorrow can't help but be crappy by comparison.
Unless... I don't suppose it's too much to hope that this trend continues?
Because if Elizabeth Hurley shows up tomorrow morning with a million dollars and a can of whipping cream, I just don't know if I could take it. 2011 has been a pretty shitty year so far, and being inundated with amazing things makes it seem as though anything is possible...
Here's wishing you days filled with awesomeness too!
Posted on Sunday, March 6th, 2011
After the sheer awesomeness of my Saturday, I did the best I could to get through Bullet Sunday.
• She's a Wonder. And so the most perfect woman on earth, Elizabeth Hurley, has been tapped for a role in David E. Kelly's Wonder Woman project. Apparently she'll be playing Wonder Woman's far more beautiful and classy arch-nemesis, Veronica Cale. I, of course, think she would be perfect as Wonder Woman herself, hard as it will be for anyone to fill Linda Carter's red boots. She was Wonder Woman. Even with Elizabeth Hurley, I have to say I am still very, very nervous about the show. If David E. Kelly can resist the urge to add his stupid-ass Allie McBeal craziness to the mix, it might have a chance...
• Pretty Cool. Gotta hand it to Miley Cyrus, she handled her guest-hosting on Saturday Night Live like a champ last night. She not only managed to get in a few digs on Lindsay Lohan, but spent a lot of time poking fun at herself as well. Of course, what every SNL fan was waiting for was seeing if she would make an appearance on Vanessa Bayer's ongoing "Miley Cyrus Show" skit. Surprisingly, she did... as Justin Bieber!
I was secretly hoping that Billy Ray Cyrus would make an appearance as himself here, but Jason Sudeikis did his usual hysterical impersonation. A couple sketches fell flat for me (The Sound of Music, really?)... but overall it was a pretty funny episode and Miley did a great job. I still miss Hannah Montana.
• Upgrade. Microsoft has an entire website devoted to killing off their piece of shit web browser, Internet Explorer 6...
Their suggestion is to have you upgrade to Internet Explorer 8.
If I may be so bold, a suggestion: bypass Internet Explorer 8 and upgrade directly to an even better browser...
Or, don't stop upgrading there... get rid of Windows and step up to Macintosh! It's so much nicer up here!
• Downgrade. Meeee-ow! My review of the latest "upgrade" to Twitter for iPhone...
Developers always seem to play the victim by saying things like "Well, nobody wants to pay for apps anymore, so we use ads. SOMEBODY has to pay, so cut us a break!" — And that's a very good point... except you can't expect people to be happy when the app's functionality is impaired by the ads. Either find a way to insert ads in a way that's not going to shit all over your app, or just charge for the damn thing.
• Go for the Gold. One last thing before I go... this morning I discovered Rold Gold "Everything Bagel" Pretzels. Deeeelicious. They kind of reminds me of Chex Mix, but more subtle and without the fishy Worcestershire sauce to mess things up. Still really good flavor though. This is a great find because it's really tough to find the Snyders of Hanover flavors I like around here...
And there's Bullet Sunday for you. Until next week... stay classy, blogosphere.
Posted on Monday, March 7th, 2011
I live on a rural road with no sidewalks. It's not very pedestrian-friendly, but its home.
Tonight as I was heading home from work, a jogger was running towards me on my side of the road. Since there was a car coming in the other direction, I had two options... 1) Run over the jogger. 2) Slow down until the other car passed and I had room to get around the jogger.
Foolishly, I chose option two.
Foolishly, because as I slowed down the jogger ran by and spit on my car.
Clearly, I am doing this angry driver thing all wrong.
Posted on Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
I've been keeping tabs on the Kilauea Volcano eruption in Hawaii quite closely. Not because I own property there or anything, but because in the three times I've been to The Big Island I drove up the volcano and didn't see shit.
Well, that's not entirely true. The last time I was there, it was venting vog (volcanic fog). Which I guess is kinda cool. But it's a far cry from lava shooting 80 feet into the air like what's happening now.
Here's a photo I took when I last visited in 2008...
And here's the Kilauea Volcano today...
Okay, I exaggerate. That's a photo of a nuclear explosion. But still, why can't the cool shit happen while I'm there? How awesome would it be to be standing on a volcano when it erupts?
Maybe one day I'll get lucky.
Posted on Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
Just one week left.
A part of me wishes I had an extra week to work on this project. But that would lead to another week. Then another week. Then another. At some point, you just have to let go and move on to the next one.
Sometimes deadlines are good.
Posted on Thursday, March 10th, 2011
There's never enough time to do all the stuff I want to do.
I've got a pile of DVDs that go unwatched because I don't have the time. I've got stacks of comics which sit unread because I don't have the time. I've got a shelf full of books which are gathering dust because I don't have the time. My DVR is full to bursting with television shows because I don't have the time. And so on. And so on.
But the worst offense of all is the eight video games that sit shrink-wraped and unplayed because I don't have the time. And now I'm told that my copy of the awesomeness that is Dragon Age 2 is arriving. This wouldn't be so bad, except it's going to be really hard to toss it on the pile when A) I loved the previous game, Dragon Age: Origins, and B) It looks incredible...
But, alas, I don't have the time.
And it gets worse.
One of the greatest games ever made is Portal. I love that game so much that I would marry my in-game Weighted Companion Cube tomorrow if it were legal to do so...
And in April, Valve is releasing the most eagerly anticipated game ever... Portal 2! As awesome as the first game was, the sequel looks to be taking things to an entirely new level. There's all kinds of new challenges to be found, and the game looks amazing...
How can I not play that?
I wonder if I can get a note from my doctor to get out of work on April 19th? Because, obviously, not playing
I wish I had time to go to the doctor.
Posted on Friday, March 11th, 2011
It's now 2:00am. As I have dozens of friends in Japan, I've been staying awake scouring the internet for information on what might be happening. Since communications have been interrupted or cut-off, only a handful have gotten the word out that they are okay. The news makes it sound as though Tokyo is just shaken, but eyewitness reports from the city tell another story. Some buildings are badly damaged or even collapsing. Traffic is at a standstill. People have been seriously hurt from falling furniture or debris.
And then there's the Miyagi prefecture north of Tokyo which is under siege by tsunami. The images are horrific and heartbreaking. I know of a family living in a small city south of Sendai, where the damage has been extensive. I have no idea what's happening with them. All I can do is hope that they are okay.
I sit here waiting, and the dread is starting to pile up.
Partly because I know that a lot of people have lost their lives today. Partly because tens of thousands of people are most certainly unaccounted for. Partly because my friends undoubtedly have family and friends they can't reach. Partly because people are going to be rebuilding their lives during a world-wide recession. Partly because the effects from such tragic events will take years... if not decades... to recover from.
But my dread mostly comes from wondering how the evil fucking people on this earth are going to take advantage of this terrible situation.
Is Pat Robertson or some other opportunistic piece of shit asshole going to go on television and say that the earthquake is the fault of the Japanese people because they're not Christian enough? Because they don't condemn homosexuality strongly enough? Because they have temples built by faiths that don't have Jesus in them?
Given Robertson's reprehensible remarks about Haiti, New Orleans, and a multitude of other people and places, I suppose it's inevitable that he attack the Japanese as well. I guess this is how he makes his "followers" feel superior so they'll send him money for his "ministry." Send Pat Robertson money to do "God's work" and God will spare you from a fate worse than the evil people being punished in the news today.
People suffering in the midst of great tragedy deserve more than to be vilified and crucified by some crazy-ass piece of shit with a false-prophet complex who claims he speaks for God. This evil, manipulative, disgusting, vile, lying bastard can't die and go to his "hell" fast enough.
So we can move on to an even more evil, manipulative, disgusting, vile, lying bastard.
Because the opportunity to exploit tragedy for money never seems to go out of style.
UPDATE: Now this is how a religious leader should react... as a voice of compassion...
Dharamsala, H.P., India, 12 March 2011 - In a letter sent on 12 March to H.E. Naoto Kan, the Prime Minister of Japan, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his shock and sadness on hearing the news of yesterday's earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. His Holiness offered his prayers for those who have lost their lives and offered his sympathy and condolences to their families and others affected by it. He expressed that we must all be grateful that the Japanese Government's disaster preparedness measures have prevented the death and destruction from being much worse. Finally, as a Buddhist monk who daily recites the Heart Sutra, His Holiness felt it would be very good if Japanese Buddhists were to recite the Heart Sutra on this occasion. Such recitation may not only be helpful for those who have lost their precious lives, but may also help prevent further disasters in the future. Prayers to recite the Heart Sutra one hundred thousand times were being organized in Dharamsala for this purpose.
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.
January 10, 2010. I wonder how people allow themselves to be manipulated by the clinically insane.
December 23, 2010. I consider therapy because Pat Robertson actually said something lucid and intelligent.
Posted on Saturday, March 12th, 2011
I don't have time to blog tonight because I have to change all my clocks as I "spring forward" for stupid fucking Daylight Saving Time...
It's the year TWO-THOUSAND-ELEVEN... isn't it time that we step out of the Dark Ages and stop dicking around with the clocks? We've got like... ELECTRICITY and THE LIGHT BULB now.
Wasn't President Obama supposed to revoke this shit?
In 2012 I'm voting for whichever presidential candidate promises to get rid of Daylight Saving Time. And I don't care if it's a stupid whore like Sarah Palin, a bigoted whore like Mike Huckabee, or a hypocritical whore like Newt Gingrich. I DO care if it's a fucking brain-dead whore like Michele Bachmann... but I'd still vote for the dumbass if she'd stop this idiotic DST insanity. Sure the country would be irreparably fucked up for four years, but at least I wouldn't have to adjust my internal clock twice annually while waiting for armageddon.
Annnnnd... now it's time to lose an hour MORE of sleep.
Posted on Sunday, March 13th, 2011
I've got a suitcase to pack, so this is going to be a quick one.
• Arigatou Gozaimasu Thanks to everybody for their kind concern for my friends in Japan. All but one has been accounted for, though it's likely they've got other things on their mind right now. The situation is pretty dire over the Pacific right now, as you might imagine. Fortunately, Doctors Without Borders (my favorite charity) is assisting in Japan (and around the world). If you'd like to help, you can visit the Doctors Without Borders website and donate. Even $5 will make a difference.
• Countdown. The final part of my project was completed this afternoon. Just three days until all will be revealed...
• Not a Cooking Show. The most important thing you're probably not listening to? That would be Hey! That's My Hummus! a podcast by my friends Faiqa and Shiny! She's Muslim. He's Jewish. Together they are welcome voices of reason in a world of insanity. It's well worth your time.
Delicious hummus photo by Paul Goyette
Annnnnd... next week they'll be a Very Special Bullet Sunday from Europe!
Posted on Monday, March 14th, 2011
Ask any web developer what the worst part of their job is, and they're almost certain to answer "writing hacks so pages display properly in Microsoft Internet Explorer." For years, Microsoft had a pile-of-shit browser that failed to render standard HTML properly. This means that every time you come up with a new design, you have to do a bunch of freaky shit... hacks, work-arounds, bug traps, etc... specific to Microsoft so that people using their crappy browser could view your web pages.
In recent years, Microsoft has gotten more proficient at making their dumbass browsers work better with web standards, but there are so many people using older versions of their bullshit software that it's still a problem even to this day (which is why Microsoft is begging people to upgrade).
Eventually, web designers built up a library of hacks that they could pop into designs that would handle all the Microsoft dumbassery. It wasn't an elegant solution, but it works. It works so well that I don't even think about it any more.
I never, ever thought that I would run across something that would be worse than the days I spent pulling my hair out at 2:00am trying to get a web page to display in Microsoft Internet Explorer.
I was wrong.
Welcome to Apple's iBooks...
When they first released iBooks, a lot of people were relieved to know that Apple had decided to use the existing ePub standard for their file format. This meant that the bazillion eBooks out there that were already in ePub format would work just fine in iBooks.
BECAUSE APPLE HAS SO HOPELESSLY FUCKED UP THE WAY ePUB DOCUMENTS ARE RENDERED THAT I FIND MYSELF LONGING FOR THE "GOOD OLD DAYS" OF DICKING AROUND WITH MICROSOFT INTERNET EXPLORER CODE!
I am not joking. Apple iBooks has so much incomprehensible shit going on that they should aspire to be Microsoft. In fact, Apple's iBooks team of 2011 could take lessons from the Microsoft Internet Explorer team of 2001 on how to comply with internet standards.
I have just spent SEVEN HOURS trying to get an ePub document to render properly in iBooks. And I'm still not there yet. I'm getting closer, but thanks to the totally fucked up way that iBooks dicks around with text when the "Full Justification" setting is on, I've still got a ways to go.
Apparently Apple has some magical document called iBookstore Asset Guide that is supposed to help, but the only way you can get it is to become a publishing partner with Apple. Yes, you read that right, in order to force Apple's piece-of-shit software to comply with OPEN STANDARDS, you have to get some kind of "secret document" not available to the general public.
It sure would be nice if Apple got the same kind of hatred-fueled uproar that Microsoft gets when they fuck up. Maybe then Apple would start listening to people, just like Microsoft was forced to.
In the meanwhile... fuck you, Apple. I thought I was done with this kind of hackery bullshit.
Posted on Tuesday, March 15th, 2011
"WHY DID YOU PULL IN SO CLOSE?!?? she screamed over the train siren.
"BECAUSE I NEED GAS, AND SINCE YOU PULLED UP BETWEEN PUMPS, THIS IS THE ONLY WAY I CAN REACH MY CAR WITH THE HOSE!" I screamed back.
"BUT NOW I CAN'T PULL OUT!!!" she yelled, pumping gas with one hand while putting her free hand on her hip in disgust.
"DOESN'T YOUR CAR GO IN REVERSE? IF IT DOESN'T, MAYBE YOU SHOULD PARK IN FRONT OF ONE PUMP INSTEAD OF TWO NEXT TIME!" I said, rolling my eyes into the back of my head.
"YOU DON'T GO TELLING ME HOW TO PARK!" she bellowed, wagging her finger at me.
"♬ FEELINGS! NOTHING MORE THAN FEELINGS! TRYING TO FORGET MY FEELINGS...
"YOU SHOULD HAVE WAITED BEFORE BLOCKING ME IN!" Now she's really mad. I guess nobody appreciates Morris Albert anymore?
"♬ FEEEEEELINGS! WHOA OH OH FEEEEEELINGS! ♬"
I'm sure everybody at the mini mart thought I was crazy, but singing "Feelings" at the top of my lungs was the only thing I could think of to keep me from telling this stupid bitch to go fuck herself.
I finished filling up my tank, grabbed my receipt, hopped in my car, then pulled away. She was still filling up her gas-guzzling SUV as I was pulling out of the parking lot. I'd like to say that she got to leave without learning how to drive in reverse, but another car was pulling in right after me.
It's stupid crap like this day after day that makes me want to stick my head in an oven.
Or sing "Feelings."
One or the other.
Posted on Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
And the day has finally arrived.
Way back in May of last year, RW kindly invited me out to his place for a dinner featuring his delicious homemade pizza. Under a flawless blue sky while drinking beer and talking about nothing and everything, he mentioned his past work in the “zine scene” and his love of writing fiction. On the train back to my hotel that evening, again on the flight home the next day, then again on a near-daily basis for the next six months, one thought consumed me... I used to love writing stories, what happened?
Thus Thrice Fiction magazine was born. And since it was all RW's fault, I made him sign-on as co-conspirator and editor. It was, after all, the very least he could do.
You can learn all about it over at ThriceFiction.com! (and download it for FREE!)
You can also LIKE us on Facebook!
And now I have to finish packing my suitcase. One of my "favorite" things to do...
Posted on Thursday, March 17th, 2011
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Thanks to everybody for their kind comments and support of Thrice Fiction. It was a lot of fun (and a lot of work!), so it's nice to see people enjoying it.
When it comes to my "literary" contributions, I wrote two stories.
One, called "Too Many Days" was written after everything else had been completed, as I wanted something to tie-in with the cover I had made. I've always been fascinated by the rise of the Roman Republic and the days before the Roman Empire, so it was a good opportunity to play around in that arena.
The second, called "The Exit Interview" was written just four days after RW and I had decided on a theme for the debut issue of Thrice. The first draft was very different than what eventually got used. Originally, it was about a genetic scientist who planned to come up with a toxin which would rid the world of anybody carrying any genetic traits she considered "undesirable." I worked very hard to make the lead character a woman which people would absolutely loathe. She was vile, evil, racist, bigoted trash. She discriminated against absolutely anybody which didn't fit the mold of what she considered to be an "acceptable" human. The twist at the end would be when some aliens came to earth and found her genetic makeup didn't live up to their standards.
Eventually, I decided I wanted a more complex story, and the whole "genetic master race" plot was streamlined to a simpler world domination plot. That way, I was able to add more elements and play with the idea of telling the story in reverse-order. I still left in hints of how the geneticist character was originally written... she seems to have an obsession with genetic defects, for example... but the more obvious "she is evil" elements were removed.
The idea for the story came while watching some health debate on television. In it, there was a woman who remarked that she was tired of her tax dollars going to pay for other people's health problems. To some extent, I agree. If somebody does something stupid and breaks their leg, why should my tax dollars have to pay for their dumbassery? But this woman wasn't talking about that. She was saying she "didn't want to pay for other people's sick kids because she was paying for her own kids."
Which is all fine and dandy when the extent of your kid's sickness is the flu or something.
But what about kids that have devastating health problems that your average family can never pay for... even if they have insurance? Should these kids be tossed aside to live miserable lives of pain and suffering for something that's not their fault? Or should society say "We're better than that!" and try to lend a hand and give them the best life they can have?
I would hope that everybody would vote for the latter, but I honestly don't know. Some people simply lack compassion (which, ironically, I consider to be the ultimate genetic defect).
The woman who "didn't want to pay for other people's sick kids" has apparently been blessed with (relatively) healthy children. But what if one of her kids had cancer? Or muscular dystrophy? Or cystic fibrosis? Or any number of other tragic diseases? I'd think that if her children had catastrophic health problems which she couldn't pay to care for, she might be singing a different tune.
For my story, I took this woman's argument to the extreme and concluded that, if she had her way, all these "sick kids" would be wiped from the face of the earth. She only wants there to be "perfect" healthy kids like hers so she doesn't have to pay extra taxes.
Sometimes reality is so much scarier than any fictional villain.
In a perfect world, charities and foundations, not taxes, would provide all the money needed to help people when they're struggling with overwhelming health problems. But we live in a far from perfect world, so sometimes society has to step up and say "We're better than that!" and pick up the slack.
Because the next "sick kid" may just be your own.
Posted on Friday, March 18th, 2011
Because I'm traveling on a restricted ticket, I ended up with an extended layover in London. Not that I'm complaining... I love London, and visit every chance I get (which would be a lot more often if the US Dollar wasn't rubbish against the British Pound). It's just that it's tough to be here when I don't have any personal time to hang out with friends that live in the area.
Hopefully next time.
Thanks to a patient taxi driver and London's excellent public transportation system, yesterday I managed to get a big chunk of the city's "Featured Spots" stamps collected from Gowalla. Then today before dinner I finished off the two remaining spots I needed. Some of the fringe locations (such as Wembley Stadium and the Prime Meridian of the World), will have to wait for next time, but I got all the biggies from the city and surrounds (you can click on them to see what they are)...
I maintain that Gowalla makes for an excellent travel guide when visiting larger cities, because the most popular tourist spots always seem to get "Featured" status. Out of the above stamps, I've been to these places multiple times. I admit it was kind of nice to be visiting them again not as a tourist, but as a collector! Thanks, Gowalla!
One place I haven't been to multiple times is the new Apple Store in Covent Gardens! It's the largest Apple Store on planet earth (at least until the New York Grand Central location is built). It's also incredibly beautiful, as Apple did an amazing job refurbishing the building. What I love most is how, from the outside, you can't really tell its an Apple Store at all...
Somebody just bought a new iPod!
No giant sign or anything... not even a glowing Apple logo... just elegance and class through and through. They discourage picture-taking inside, but Apple's official site has some beautiful photos you can look at.
The exact opposite of elegance and class would be the massive outpouring of tacky souvenir crap that's been unleashed in "honor" of the upcoming royal wedding. The stuff is everywhere. Plates, cups, notepads, stickers, cards, books, pencils, platters, postcards... you name it. I would not have been at all surprised if you could buy hemorrhoid cream with Prince William and Kate Middleton printed on the tube...
Something tells me this stuff doesn't have Her Majesty The Queen's approval.
I started out my day with the best breakfast in London at Pret...
It's heaven on a baguette!
The Egg & Roasted Tomatoes Baguette is so amazing that I ate a very light dinner last night so I'd be hungry enough to eat two. My biggest fear is that one day I'll come to London and they won't be making them anymore. For lunch I went back so I could have the Carrot & Humous Crunch Baguette. For dinner I went back yet again so I could have a Mozarella & Pesto Toastie. As usual, every single thing I've ever eaten at Pret has been delicious. And I love that they have so many vegetarian-friendly options. I keep hoping that Seattle will get a Pret, but in the USA it's just New York, DC, and Chicago for now.
Every trip to London I rave about how much I love the Johnston typeface which is used on all of the city's public transportation logos and signage. It's highly readable, yet somehow manages to be sublimely beautiful at the same time. Every time I see it, I fall in love all over again...
Hands-down my favorite sans-serif font of all time. If I ever redesign my blog, this is the typeface I'll be using.
The weather in London has been pretty much shit. It's been windy, cold, and rainy all day long. Seattle has a reputation for rain, but I've found London to be a much drearier place, weather-wise...
Still surprised when I hear tourists call this "London Bridge"... IT'S TOWER BRIDGE, YOU GITS!
The good thing about this is when the sun comes out in London, it's glorious (just like Seattle). I've had my share of beautiful London sunny days, so the weather hasn't bothered me too much.
And that's all she wrote from London. Tomorrow morning early, early, early I head back to the airport for my connecting flight. I'm hoping for better weather at my final destination. If I wanted cold, windy, and wet... I would have stayed at home.
Posted on Saturday, March 19th, 2011
British Airways gave me the best that I could possibly hope for on any trip: an uneventful flight.
And so here I am in Venice, Italy for a few days. Partly because there's a new Hard Rock Cafe here. But mostly because I watched a television program on New Orleans where some scientist guy reminded everybody that Venice is sinking into the sea and could be wiped out if a big enough flood were to strike despite our best efforts. This freaked me out a little bit, because last time I was here the city was just recovering from a small flood. With all the recent natural disasters plaguing the world, I thought it a good idea to see Venice again... just in case.
It breaks my one rule for my annual birthday trip (to see a place I've never see before), but I love Venice, and heaven only knows when I'd find time to visit again. Besides, I've already been someplace I've never been to this year, so I guess it's all good.
And I managed to get that 136th Hard Rock visit too...
The cafe itself is small. Very small. Tiny even. But it is beautifully appointed, and I was thrilled that the new "hipster-lounge" decorating style that's been plaguing new Hard Rocks around the world has been mercifully downplayed here. It's decorate more like a "classic" Hard Rock, which is nice. The location is superb, just off the Piazza San Marco, so hopefully the tourist trade will keep this property alive for a while.
And I'm off to watch the sun set from the Rialto Bridge. That's an experience that never gets old.
Posted on Sunday, March 20th, 2011
It's Bullet Sunday from Venice, Italy!
• Merger. Apparently AT&T and T-Mobile are merging. How could this possibly be a good idea? One shitty network plus one crappy network does not make a good network. It just makes a shitty network crappier. And here I thought things couldn't possibly be any worse with AT&T.
• Foo. I have never understood people's infatuation with Glee. But even more inexplicable is being made to feel crazy because I don't like the show. Now, at last, I'm not alone. Just when I think that Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters couldn't possibly be any cooler than he already is, this happens. Thank. You.
• Lunar. I haven't been able to see the SUPER MOON from here in Venice despite having clear skies. I don't know if I'm looking in the wrong place or if the moon doesn't shine in Venice or what. I'm a little sad about that, because I was looking forward to getting a photo of it. MOON FAIL!
• Venice. Speaking of Venice, it's absolutely stunning here. Clear blue skies and cool air. A big improvement over my previous trip where it rained every day...
You can never have too many statues on a building!
St. Mark's Square is under construction.
But the beautiful frescos are still available for viewing.
Climbing up the balcony of St. Mark's Basilica.
GAH! THE SHIT IS FALLING APART HERE! WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!
The Bridge of Sighs... now disgustingly brought to you by Toyota!
Look! It's TRON!!
Honestly, it's one McDonald's too many...
The Church of Health!
Pretty pink street lights.
A naked boy and his dead frog statue. Awesome?
Visiting the neighboring island of Murano.
Cracking angel statue.
Mustard-colored building in Murano.
Sunset over the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge.
Rialto's nighttime view on the Grand Canal.
Annnnnd... I'm spent. No more bullets left this fine Sunday. Time for pizza!
Posted on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
The quintessential "Venice Experience" is to take a gondola ride. I've never done it because the cost is outrageously expensive... about $120 for 35 minutes. For that kind of money, I'd rather take a ride of an entirely different kind.
But, alas, Venice is sinking and all that, and I didn't want to regret that I never rode in a gondola when I had the chance. So I didn't think about the money and decided to go for it.
Worth every penny.
It may be touristy and trite, but it really is the best way to experience this remarkable city...
The gondoliers have a fairly tough job that requires quite a bit of skill...
If you're ever in Venice, save some money for a gondola ride, it's worth the price.
There are two problems which plague a photographer in Venice. 1) Everything is leaning or warped or crooked, so trying to line up shots can drive you a little crazy. And 2) The stupid pigeons are everywhere and mess up a surprising number of shots you're trying to take. I've got dozens of photos that ended up being bird photos...
When I was last in Venice, I went to the top of the Campanile Bell Tower where I got this incredible panorama shot of the city. But it was rainy and dreary, and I longed to take another panorama in better weather. Like today. Which was sunshine and blue skies as far as the eye could see.
The problem is that something has changed since I was here last. There are heavy metal grates in place, so I couldn't really move my camera enough to take a panorama. I don't remember how I did it last time. Perhaps the grate is new? Or maybe they used to allow you to climb the stairs up past the observation deck and that's closed now? I can't figure it out. I guess I should be thankful that I've got one, even though it's in bad weather. Oh well. It's still a nice view...
After goofing around St. Mark's Square for a while, I decided to explore the area north of Rialto. It's there that the only McDonald's in Venice is located, and I wanted to use their free WiFi. Except the WiFi wasn't working, so I ended up going to Mickey-Dees for nuthin...
Annnnd... I'm done playing tourist for the day. Time to seek out the perfect Venetian restaurant for dinner.
Posted on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
In an effort to "go somewhere I haven't gone before" while on my annual birthday vacation, I decided to head to the small island of Burano today. I've never gone before because there's always so much to do in Venice that it doesn't seem worth the trouble. But I've heard nice things about the place, so today was the day. First I walked to St. Mark's Square so I could find a water-bus to take me to North Venice. Then I found a ferry to make the 40 minute lagoon crossing to Burano.
The total journey took me about an hour, and ended up being well worth the trip.
Burano is mostly a fishing village, but it's heavily geared towards tourists. Just like Murano is famous for its glass, Burano is famous for its lace. I thought I might pick up a tiny sample as a souvenir, but even a 4-inch doily of authentic Burano Lace was $50, so I took a pass.
Instead I wandered around looking at all the pretty multi-colored houses on the island...
And, of course, have some stracciatella gelato...
Apparently the house colors are strictly regulated by the city government. If you buy a house on Burano and decide you want to paint it, you have to ask for permission. After getting permission, you are given a few color choices which are selected for your location. Hopefully one of these colors ends up being something you like, or else you're shit out of luck.
Tonight I really need to get caught up on some work, so there'll be no more fun for me until dinner. I really should try and get some sleep as well.
Posted on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
Seven years ago, I received an email from a young man because he had nobody else he could turn to. It saddened me that somebody so young had such an unnecessarily difficult life... but it broke my heart that a stranger on the internet was the only place he felt he could turn to for a friendly word. Hurting and alone, his entire existence was that of suffering and hatred just because he happened to be gay. Through no fault of his own, for something he could not change even if he wanted to, he was mercilessly teased and bullied day in and day out.
His story changed me in a way I can never explain. But hearing somebody's hopes and dreams revolve entirely around escaping their miserable life is a soul-crushing experience that should change you.
Sadly, since that time, things have not gotten better. The rash of suicides among gay youth making the headlines these past years is a constant reminder how even being perceived as gay can have tragic results. At a time when just being a kid can be confusing and painful enough a burden, being bullied can be that final straw that removes all hope from a young life... maybe even one you know. And, sadly, it doesn't end there. Even if they manage to survive their youth, the violence, intolerance, and hatred never disappears.
This has to change.
And it will change if we want it to. And a big piece of the puzzle that's been missing is to change the attitudes of those that often end up doing the bullying: young straight men.
Enter Straight But Not Narrow...
It's wonderful that there are organizations like The Trevor Project available to assist after the damage is done, but it's organizations like Straight But Not Narrow which will (hopefully) start to change the way society views our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender friends and neighbors. And it's about fucking time...
Some of the bravest, kindest, most decent and honorable men I know happen to be gay. Who they date or who they fall in love with makes no difference in their moral character. None. But anybody who would persecute them for who the are has serious character deficiencies regardless of what justification they try to use to back-up their hate...
Everybody has their own beliefs. Everybody has their own opinions. And that's fine. That's America. But if what you say fosters hatred towards somebody so vicious that it can lead to their death... then you have no place in a society which was built specifically to insure the pursuit of happiness for all its citizens.
I can only hope that the voices of those in the Straight But Not Narrow project (and other organizations like it) can eventually drown out the voices from hateful pieces of shit whose only goal is to tear us apart because of our differences. It's these difference... and the right to be who we are... which should be binding us together.
Make a difference. Make your voice be heard.
Posted on Thursday, March 24th, 2011
I'm covered in sweat and hoarse from screaming... that's how you know it was a great show!
Yes. That's me. Drinking Champaign with MATT AND KIM!
When I arrived at London's Restless Garage, I though my biggest surprise of the night would be when my friend and fellow Hard Rock Cafe aficionado Perry showed up with his girlfriend Sarah to the concert.
That was just the beginning.
The concert, as expected, was amazing. Matt & Kim so clearly love music and love their fans. They give absolutely everything they have to their performance, and this lets you appreciate their songs on an entirely new level...
Matt takes it down a notch...
That's Kim dancing ON the crowd!
And there's Matt crowd-surfing!
After trying to catch them in concert for literally years across the USA, I finally managed it by accident while on a Layover in London. How fucking crazy is life?
Apparently not crazy enough.
Because Matt & Kim's manager stumbled across my blog and sympathized with my numerous failed efforts to see the band live. Being the incredibly kind and generous human being he is, he arranged for a back-stage pass, for which I will be forever grateful. Because meeting Matt & Kim is kind of one of those life-defining moments...
My musical tastes are firmly planted in the 1980's. But when I first heard Matt & Kim's stuff, I fell in love with music all over again. They have a passion that you just don't see much anymore, and it comes across in every song they make. Seeing them perform those songs live lets you feel it.
After the show, Matt & Kim jumped into the audience and made their way around the show floor, saying hello to everybody. Kim stayed and signed autographs and had pictures taken until they literally kicked everybody out of the club. They just love their fans.
But the icing on the cake is that they are truly grateful for their success. They love what they do, and realize that it's their fans that make it all possible. When I was back-stage waiting to say hello, Matt & Kim were talking with various people that were there. And the topic of their conversation wasn't what a great show they gave... or how hard they rock... or how awesome they are... it was all about their fans. They went on and on with how thrilled they were that the London audience was so welcoming and so hyped to see them. They loved that everybody was having a great time. They were genuinely humbled that people showed up to watch them play. They said again and again how great it was to have such enthusiastic fans. If I wasn't already a massive fan of the band, I would have become one right there just listening to them... even if I hated their music.
And then I got to meet them, which is about the greatest thing ever.
Then the night was over, and Matt & Kim were off to Paris so they could thrill their fans in the City of Lights.
I wanted so badly to hop on a train and meet them there.
But, alas, I am flying back home today, so I had to pull myself away... content knowing that I had just met one of my favorite bands of all time.
Thanks to Matt, Kim, Kevin, Perry, and Sarah for the best birthday ever!
Posted on Friday, March 25th, 2011
I don't celebrate my birthday, which is part of the reason I like leaving the country every year... it's a lot harder for your friends and family to throw a party or make a big deal over it when you're not around. That being said, the outpouring of birthday wishes from everybody is such a wonderful thing that I wish it could be my birthday every day! It's hard not to be happy when your email in-box, text messages, Facebook, and Twitter are jam-packed with well-wishers wanting to congratulate you on surviving another year. My hetero-life-partner even wrote a blog post for my birthday which, considering he almost never blogs anymore, was a really great end to an amazing day.
Which, oddly enough, was 31 hours long, since I started the 24th in London (7 hours ahead) and flew home to re-live a big chunk of my day all over again. I guess if it can't be your birthday every day, crossing time zones to make the one day you get last longer is the next best thing.
The flight home was somewhat torturous thanks to The Most Boring Man In The Universe sitting in the seat behind me. Seriously, this bastard rambled non-stop for nine-hours-and-twenty-minutes, loudly (LOUDLY) going on and on about mundane shit that even my iPod at full volume could not obliterate. Since he had an English accent, it was if I were trapped in the most horrifyingly boring documentary ever. I still have no idea how the poor person he was talking to the entire time kept from killing herself. I would have dashed my brains out on the seat-back tray after the first hour.
Coming back the USA was about as painless as it's ever been. I used to loathe going through border control and customs because the agents were always such assholes. But they truly have been improving over the past couple years, which makes foreign travel so much nicer. It's as if they knew people hated them and their hostile, shitty attitudes and decided to try being more pleasant. This time, I actually felt welcomed back to my own country, which would have been impossible for me to even dream of just five years ago. Having to wait less than ten minutes in line was also a nice bonus... especially after having suffered through Heathrow's 25-minute wait at border control twice. You'd think that one of the world's busiest airports could have more than two measly desks open for plane-loads of passengers, but apparently they just don't give a fuck. I kept looking for the sign saying VISIT THE UNITED KINGDOM AT YOUR PERIL, YOU FILTHY FOREIGN BASTARDS! But, being British, they're much more subtle about it. They just make you suffer a long wait in silence to show their disdain for your existence and their contempt at your desire to set foot on their soil.
But at least I didn't have to give my fingerprints, retina scan, and a stool sample like foreigners visiting these United States of America. I guess that's something.
My birthday also happens to be the birthday of Mac OS X, which turned ten years old yesterday! It's odd how Apple's OS is so young, but seems to have been around forever. I usually celebrate the occasion by booting up an antique Macintosh running an old, old, old version of Mac OS, just so I can appreciate how far we've come. The problem is that last year when I did this I actually came across some old features that I miss in the "modern" OS, so I'll probably skip this year. Nothing quite so sad as longing for technology advances from twenty years ago. What I wouldn't give to have each of my fucking folder windows remember their fucking Finder view selection and fucking sorting preference every fucking time I fucking open them... but, alas, that's only possible with technology from fucking 1990. Nothing like taking giant steps backwards as you head into the future, eh Apple?
And now I get ready to face my Friday, knowing full-well that there will be no Matt & Kim concert at the end of it. It's times like this I wonder how I manage to go on day after day, but I've got another birthday coming up next year where people will (hopefully) take the time to once again send happy thoughts my way... so I'll just hang on to that for the next 365 days* and see where that gets me.
*Usually, I'd be waiting 364 days, but 2012 is a leap year, giving me a whole extra day before my next birthday. How much does that suck? Thanks a lot crappy flawed Julian calendar system!
Posted on Saturday, March 26th, 2011
"Women. Can't live with 'em. Can't kill 'em!"
— Albert "Gib" Gibson, True Lies
I have every reason to despise, distrust, and demonize women for being the heartbreaking angels of despair they sometimes turn out to be. But I don't. I simply know too many women who are remarkable and amazing people to believe in such lame generalities... despite my extreme bad luck in holding on to any kind of long-term relationship with any of them. Like most guys, I've had my share of women troubles. I've been taken advantage of. Cheated on. Lied to. Mistreated. Wronged. Abandoned. Abused. Lead on. Left out. Shafted. Screwed... well, you get the picture. The list goes on and on.
But I've also been in love with women, which somehow offsets all the pain and heartache I've suffered at their hands.
Which brings us to this...
Scott Adams, author of Dilbert, recently wrote a blog entry that was supposed to be an article about "men's rights." But he came across as a sexist asshole, thus infuriating every feminist on the internet. His ultimate advice to men was "Don't be pussies!"... or, at least it would have been if he hadn't turned around and deleted his post.
Gee, Mr. Adams, why not take your own fucking advice?
In the end, I don't necessarily disagree with some of the things that Scott Adams wrote. He actually had some insightful commentary about what it's like for us. He goes completely off the rails several times and makes absolutely no effort to look at anything from any viewpoint except his own, but the end-summary of his rant is not without merit in some instances.
While his treatment of women was pretty shitty, it's his characterization of us men that ended up offending me most.
Because his perspective on things is from that of a famous millionaire. Sure he may be a geeky dweeb (like me!), but he's a geeky dweeb with a lot of money (not like me!). He's also married to a hottie, but it's worth noting that he married her well into his meteoric success as a cartoonist...
Photo by Drew Kristal, taken from People Magazine
Now, before I start getting hate-mail of my own, I should say that I'm sure he's a wonderful guy and she didn't marry him for his money. I'm sure she totally fell in love with him for his... err... charming demeanor and sense of humor. Or something. I mean, I don't know her, but just looking at this photo I can tell she's absolutely the type of person who would totally give a 49-year-old dweeb like Scott Adams the time of day even if he didn't have a bajillion dollars and world-wide fame. So there. I said it. She's totally not a gold-digging opportunist, okay? No need to attack me for being a misogynistic asshole who believes that beautiful, intelligent women are only capable of having millions of dollars if they marry into it. I am so not that guy.
Indeed, it's my fervent belief in this very ideal that allows me to get out of bed in the morning.
Anyway, if you care to read it, I've gone through Scott Adam's rant line by line in an extended entry. Not because I feel women need defending in any way, but because Adams turned out to be such a total dick that I feel the need to defend my gender.
And because stupidity makes me crazy.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Sunday, March 27th, 2011
Back to reality for a super-hero-fashion episode of Bullet Sunday! But, before we get there, I need to remind everybody that the best podcast on the internet you're probably not listening to is now on iTunes! Cannot recommend it highly enough: Hey! That's My Hummus on iTunes. And for baseball talk, don't forget Just Talking to the Cornfield on iTunes.
• Wonder Woman! I've had very strong reservations over the whole David E. Kelley Wonder Woman television pilot from the very beginning. From everything I've read, it seems as though he's dead-set on putting his personal stamp on the material, which means we're not going to get Wonder Woman... it's going to be Ally McBeal in bad latex. The first episode's villain is perfume company CEO Veronica Cale (WTF?) which is being played by the incomparable Elizabeth Hurley (who arrived in L.A. a while back to film her scenes)...
©2011 Michael Wright/WENN (from AceShowbiz)
Since Elizabeth Hurley is in it, I'm pretty much obligated to watch the show now. Which is a shame, because the official Wonder Woman costume photo looks like crap...
In all seriousness, I've been to comic book conventions where the fan costumes looked better than this cheap-n-glossy joke. She looks like a badly-dressed dominatrix or something. Such a horrible departure from the classic Wonder Woman uniform that was worn so perfectly by Linda Carter in the original TV show...
Call it cheesy if you want, but THAT'S what Wonder Woman is supposed to look like.
• Spider-Man! And speaking of truly terrible costumes... I loved the first two Spider-Man movies. The third one was awful story-wise, but had really good action sequences. Still, I was hoping for another Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire installment because I liked the "feel" they gave the character. Alas, it was not to be. So now we've moved on to something new which could be good or could be bad. And if the costume is what we have to go on, this is going to be as bad as it gets...
Even if he didn't have an inexplicably black crotch, this would be a horrible interpretation of an iconic costume.
• Captain America! The modern-day Captain America comics have never interested me very much. Sure there are good stories that pop up from time to time but, overall, it's a one-note concept to me. But I have to say, everything I've seen for the upcoming Cap film looks flawless. First of all, they set the movie in World War II, which is faithful to the character's origin. Second of all, it seems as if director Joe Johnston is going out of his way to make it a fun and entertaining film to watch...
What's so killer about Cap's costume is how you can see they're clearly building up to his modern-day outfit by starting with a WWII era interpretation. He was designed to be a symbol for the guys in the trenches, and its coming across perfectly. And just look at the Red Skull! Cannot wait for this movie.
• Thor! Other than Walter Simonson's brilliant run on the character in the 1980's, I've never been a big fan of Thor. He just never seems to work in the context of the super-hero genre very well. But this film has Kenneth Branagh directing, and the trailers look to be pretty epic in scope, so we'll see...
I am the first to admit that translating Thor's costume to the big screen is no easy task... but this looks all cheesy and plastic to me. I'm guessing it's supposed to be metal (maybe it is!), but I'm still not impressed and think it would have looked better with a brushed metal? This is probably going to appear much better on-screen when lit properly, so it's hard for me to be too critical. It is, after all, pretty faithful in "feel" to the original.
• Green Lantern! This is the hardest movie of all to figure out. I think my hetero-man-crush Ryan Reynolds was flawless casting for Hal Jordan, but the movie is looking like a George Lucas CGI party instead of a film of any substance. The special-effects generated costume in the preview trailer looked so bad that I couldn't fathom how the movie could possibly work...
But then I saw this shot of Mark Strong as Sinestro and thought "maybe"...
Green Lantern was one of the first comic books I ever read, and so I continue to hope that everything comes together. Out of all the super-hero projects underway, it has the most potential for greatness... or disaster.
It's pretty hard to get a feel for how the costume works from still images. On Hal Jordan, all the crazy lines look just plain stupid. On Sinestro, they look awesome. I'm guessing that when they're in-motion they'll be all glowing and stuff, which will probably look cool. Or corny. I have no idea. I do think it would have been better to not go with 100% CGI though, which seems like a recipe for disaster.
• X-Men! I should probably get this out of the way... I loathed all of the X-Men films. They were SO BORING. The X-Men were never really given any battles. Sure there were some silly little scrapes here and there, but they didn't have any scope. Everything in the movie seemed so much smaller than life. And while the costumes weren't anything to write home about, I thought they were okay. Sadly, the costumes weren't the problem. And so now we're re-booting the franchise with a prequel...
From what I can tell, the costumes here are pretty good. They are a faithful (albeit upgraded) interpretation of the "original" X-Men costumes, which was no easy task. All we can do is wait and see if the movie has the scope and story to make any use of them.
That's a lot of super-heroes. And it doesn't even account for the new Superman movie reboot, the third Iron Man film, the third Batman film, The Hulk reboot, The Avengers, and whatever else that's coming up. I hope that people don't get burnt out on comic book movies.
Posted on Monday, March 28th, 2011
You may remember me writing about the plight of a man and his husband to get their child a passport so he could come home. Happily, after two years of fighting, it was all sorted and Samuel is now where he belongs.
I just got an email that an update has been posted (you can turn on English subtitles in the Flash (original) Player if they're not on already)...
Yeah, how horrible. The kid really looks like he's suffering.
And yet I'm sure there are people who still think he's better off in an orphanage somewhere than in a family with two fathers. Because everybody knows that having gay parents will hopelessly ruin a child's life...
I wonder how long it will be before all these people up in arms over "protecting families" and "protecting marriage" finally get a clue. They are the ones causing problems for families. Everybody else is doing just fine...
I shudder to think how many kids around the world are stuck in orphanages and foster care waiting for a loving home. And yet we continue to debate the worthiness of families to adopt them based on the ratio of penises to vaginas in the home. Didn't we get past this crap in kindergarten? If we didn't, shouldn't we have?
Posted on Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
And... here I am in L.A. for one day only.
Though the city has not-so-pleasant memories from when I was working here, I do still love it quite a lot. Probably because it's one of those places I've been to so many times that I've long-since worn out all the "touristy crap" and can just relax and do the things I like to do.
The trip got off to an ominous start. After the cabin door had been closed on the small aircraft, some guy yelled for the flight attendant because he wanted off the plane. He claims the reason was a text message from his lawyer. But the pilot was new to the job, and those of us at the front of the plane could hear every word of her pre-flight conversation with the co-pilot. Phrases like "You know what I'm doing, right?" and "How do I fly out of here?" don't exactly inspire confidence.
And so we were delayed while the guy got off the plane, which was too bad for him because the take-off was unlike any I've ever had from our small airport. Rather than doing a high-banking turn as usual, she did a lovely, lazy spiral. This afforded us an amazing view of the valley that I have never seen in my 25 years of flying out of here...
After a transfer at SeaTac (Seattle) I was off to the City of Angels. After working all morning in my hotel room, I knew exactly where I wanted to go for lunch... PINK'S HOT DOGS!
After all, it comes Betty White recommended...
And their "Patt Morrison Baja Veggie Dog" smothered in fresh guacamole, onions, and tomatoes is worth the effort to get here. The veggie dog itself is better at America's Dog in Chicago, but the fresh California toppings at Pink's are fantastic...
The reason I came to L.A. was located in Hollywood, so I passed the time walking the Walk of Fame. A couple times ago when I was here, Michael Jackson had died. This time, it was Elizabeth Taylor's star that was covered in flowers...
The weather was flawless. A cool breeze with flawless blue skies...
Right up until nighttime, when the sunset was pretty amazing on Hollywood Boulevard...
But the real awesomeness was yet to come...
To be continued...
Posted on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
Last night I saw an amazing show by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark at The Music Box L.A.
All the expense and trouble of getting here melted away as the band slammed through a sensational set list of their incredible music. And, because I had bought a "VIP Package," I got to attend a soundcheck and meet the band before the show even started. This was an incredible experience, and made a great thing even better...
The soundcheck ended up being fantastic, but the concert itself was amazing. One of my favorite new bands, Mackintosh Braun, opened up for them, which was like extra frosting on your cake.
I thought it would be impossible for any band to even get close to the energy from the Matt & Kim show I attended last week in London, but Andy, Paul, and Co. played their guts out for an enthusiastic crowd that absolutely loved their performance...
When I met the band, I gave them crap for not playing Seattle. They said that they had been asked to tour the States again, and Seattle would definitely be included next time. Which is like chocolate pudding on top of your extra frosting on top of your cake. I can hardly wait!
Since this was the final show on their tour, Andy took a minute to send out some thank you's. One of them was to their record label, Bright Antenna, for sponsoring this tour in the first place. Apparently no concert promoter would back OMD because they didn't think people would show up. Of course, the band went on to not only sell-out every single show, but they even added an extra one. Which also sold out...
Congrats to Andy, Paul, Martin, and Malcolm on a great album, a great tour, and for having such great fans.
And now it's time for how I got here...
Along with Depeche Mode and the Thompson Twins, the holy trinity of my favorite 80's bands is completed by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (more often known as "OMD"). Other bands like a-ha, Pet Shop Boys, and Duran Duran came along to snag my attention, but my DM, TT, and OMD came first.
As a massively huge fan of their work, I was thrilled when OMD released a new album last year, History of Modern, that was as good as anything they've ever done. It ended up being my pick for "Album of the Year," so you can imagine my delight when I found out that they were touring the USA in March.
Except there was no stop in Seattle, and I was gone for a big chunk of the shows because I was in London and Venice. A part of me was gutted that I'd miss the tour, but a part of me was also relieved because I'd be flat-broke when I got back from Europe.
And then they added an extra Los Angeles date six days after I returned from London.
I was sorely tempted but, the cost of the flight, hotel, food, and tickets was more than I could spend, and I've already seen OMD live several times.
But then Mackintosh Braun announced they would be the opening act.
Keep in mind, THIS is what my favorite albums list looks like for 2010...
With Mackintosh Braun added to the ticket, there was no way I could miss this show. I had just seen Matt & Kim. I had flown to New York for a-ha's farewell tour. The chance to see tracks from four out of five of my favorite albums of 2010 performed live was too much.
And so I decided to throw responsibility to the wind, spend a chunk of money I don't have, and fly to L.A. for one night only for an opportunity to listen to some great music. And since I was already going for broke, I went ahead and got the VIP deal. In for a penny, in for a pound, I guess.
What was especially cool was that Ian and Ben (Mackintock Braun) hung around in the lobby after the show so I could tell them that they were the reason I flew to the show. They were genuinely grateful, and a couple of really nice guys. If you haven't listened to their stuff, I highly recommend it.
And so now I fly home. Poor, but happy.
Which is as it really should be, I suppose.
Posted on Thursday, March 31st, 2011
I just came back from London & Venice, then left for Los Angeles.
Now I'm back from L.A. and am heading off to Las Vegas.
Apparently my travel layovers are no longer in airports, they're at home. It's like I've gone back in time twenty years and I'm living out of a suitcase again. Except now I actually have a suitcase and can afford to stay in accommodations where I don't have to worry about getting stabbed in the middle of the night because somebody wants to steal my socks.
Though I did have my personal shampoo stolen while staying at a Holiday Inn just five years ago.
I suppose it was all my fault for stepping out to Taco Bell so I could try the new "Crunchwrap Supreme" that everybody was talking about. Except I had them substitute rice for the beef, so I guess it wasn't actually the same Crunchwrap Supreme that everybody was talking about after all. Still tasted good. Though it's probably impossible for anything with this much saturated fat content to taste bad. Especially when it's cheese-flavored saturated fat...
NOTE: Actual product will bear no resemblance whatsoever to this photographic fantasy.
Purple background is optional, and my not be available at your local Taco Bell.
I'm sure there's a life lesson here somewhere. I just can't decide if it's that you should never eat at Taco Bell... or you should never travel with your own shampoo and instead just use the crappy free stuff they give you at the hotel.
All I know is that they will let you take a full-size Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme through airport security. Try that with a full-size bottle of shampoo and you'll end up having it confiscated.
I'll leave it up to you to decide which is the bigger threat to National Security... but something tells me that the TSA has it all backwards.
Posted on Friday, April 1st, 2011
It seems like only yesterday I was on my way to Vegas for the TequilaCon 2010 Planning Posse Event. But time, she flies. That was September, 2009. Seventeen months ago.
Alas, Vegas is calling once again...
I can't even guess what kind of crazy crap will be posted here while I'm in Sin City (if anything) because I plan on drinking 96% of the time. The other 4% will be spent sleeping. Or puking. Or both (hopefully not at the same).
That leaves only 2% of my days for blogging and 8% of my time for trying to figure out where I just went wrong with the math there.
Running at 110%, that's me.
Posted on Saturday, April 2nd, 2011
It's all a blur so far.
Except when I stopped drinking long enough to go to a show.
For years I've managed to avoid the horrors of Cirquel Jerque de Soleil. Circuses and clowns and crap are not even remotely entertaining to me, and mixing them with acrobats only makes things worse. But, alas, free tickets were included in our travel package, and so tonight was the night. We went to The Beatles' Love because I figured that even if I hated it, I'd at least be able to enjoy the music...
As expected, I thought the entire show was boring as hell.
I simply don't "get" Cirque de Soleil. A song will start and a bunch of different people will come out and start doing inexplicable crap. Somebody's pulling a cart across the stage. Somebody else is jumping on a bed. Somebody's smashing a wall. Somebody is yelling. Policemen go by on roller skates. A woman in a window frame floats down from the ceiling. Eventually the Ku Klux Klan shows up (no joke). It's just a bunch of random shit going on while Beatles music plays, none of it making much sense... even when the connection to the music was obvious.
Sure, the technical side of the show is amazing. The stage changes and moves in a wide variety of different configurations. There's a part of the show where parachute silk flows out over the audience like billowing waves. Some of the set-pieces are very cool. But none of this was entertaining enough to keep my interest.
I guess I should have kept drinking. Maybe then it would have all made sense.
One more day left in paradise...
Posted on Sunday, April 3rd, 2011
It's a Vegas-infused edition of Bullet Sunday!
• Classy. The most interesting aspect of Vegas is the people who show up here. People-watching is so good that could almost be a full-time activity. Hang around long enough, and you'll see it all. Drunks walking out into traffic. People puking in trash cans. Women walking through the casino in a bikini. A pickup full of cats that says "Pussy Wagon"... it's all going on in Vegas. But the best thing I saw this trip was a woman walking down The Strip in leopard print pants, a halter-top, hooker-high heels, and makeup so thick it was probably put on with a spatula. This alone wasn't unusual because half the women here look like that. But throw in the fact that she was nursing a newborn baby, and it doesn't get any classier!
• Cups. I swear, every time I come to Vegas, the drinking cups are bigger. First there was the "Big Gulp" cup. Then there was the long-neck cup. Then there was the "Yard Glass" cup. Now there's the 100-oz. Cup which is SO long (over 4-feet) that it comes with a neck-strap. I suppose next time I come to Vegas, there will be 200-oz. cups that come with a pull-cart to lug it up and down The Strip...
What I love is the little "Always Drink Responsibly" signs displayed where you buy these things. How could you possibly drink anything this massive responsibly? The entire purpose of buying one is to be irresponsible.
• Gambler. I'm usually pretty lucky when it comes to gambling (even though I don't believe in luck). But not this trip. I won a grand total of $17. On an "investment" of $200. I am officially poor now.
• Fremont. I'm always surprised when somebody comes back from Las Vegas, I ask if they visited Fremont Street in the "old town" and they say "no." It's such a shame, because it's such a fun experience. A lot to see and do in a rather small area...
And, of course, there's the giant-screen ceiling of the covered-walkway that spans a big chunk of the area. This time we got to rock out to Queen and Kiss, which was very cool because the sound system is great. If you ever end up in Las Vegas, don't miss a chance to visit. It's worth the $20 cab ride...
• Stargate! They will make just about anything into a slots game. TV Shows like Survivor and Sex In The City are popular, and this time I saw one I hadn't seen before based on Stargate SG-1...
Seems a little sci-fi geek esoteric for Vegas, but it ended up being a good game (even though I didn't win any money)! There really needs to be a slots game based on Top Chef or Project Runway!
• Bloody! The perfect Bloody Mary is a difficult beast to track down. Usually because so many place make such bad ones. Imagine my surprise when it was suggested to go to Rainforest Cafe if you want a good Bloody Mary... and they were absolutely right! It's a good mix that's not too spicy and not all watery. AND it comes with potato chips on top! Genius!
• Eat! The best place to eat in Las Vegas? EARL OF SANDWICH at the Miracle Mile Shops in the Planet Hollywood Resort! The franchises are hard to find unless you live in Texas or Florida, and the shop in Las Vegas is the only location in the Western USA. Probably the best sandwich I've ever had. So good I went both days...
Right next door is Pink's, which is funny since I just went there when I was in Los Angeles this past week...
Annnnnd... that's a Vegas weekend in bullets. Well, the parts I can talk about anyway. Because what happens in Vegas...
Posted on Monday, April 4th, 2011
And, just like that, my weekend in Vegas is over.
It would have been nice to have a few more days just to kick back at the Bellagio's pool and relax but, alas, I have to go back to work since I didn't win a million dollars gambling.
But this morning there was time to do Just One More Thing before heading to the airport, so it was decided we would go to the Shark Reef Aquarium at the Mandalay Bay Resort. This was a good call, because I haven't been there in nearly ten years (when it first opened, I think) and love me a good aquarium...
A fun way to spend a morning, to be sure.
And now I get to sit at the airport for three hours on layover while I wait for my flight home.
Not such a fun way to spend an evening, to be sure.
But, knock on wood, I get to stay home a full three weeks before heading out again, so that's something.
Posted on Tuesday, April 5th, 2011
It's snowing like crazy in the Cascades. Again.
I am so done with snow now. But it sure makes flying over the mountains pretty...
But my concern is driving over the mountains. With the passes all messed up, I'm cut off from civilization.
By car, anyway.
Stupid expensive plane tickets.
Posted on Wednesday, April 6th, 2011
And so I had a few spare minutes and decided to update my blog software.
Things haven't quite gone as planned, so now I'm having to restore from a backup and try to figure out what went wrong.
Bad Monkey is on the case...
Posted on Thursday, April 7th, 2011
I finally managed to figure out what was wrong with my blog. It had to do with the database not having the right password or something. So that's all been fixed, but now I'm too tired to actually sit down and write a post.
I'm actually too tired to do a lot of things.
I'm too tired of the rancid politics and non-stop dumbassery in Washington DC to care if the government shuts down.
I'm too tired of the long wait between television episodes to give a crap what happens on shows like Fringe.
I'm too tired of the insane cost of going to the grocery store to want to eat anything.
I'm too tired of my massive workload to want to get any work done.
I'm too tired of being broke from vacation to want to pay my bills.
I'm too tired of not sleeping to care if I go to bed.
I'm too tired of traveling to figure out my upcoming travel schedule.
I'm too tired of feeling tired to complain anymore about how tired I am.
All I can do is hope that tomorrow I feel different.
If not, I guess I'll have to drink a can of Red Bull or something.
Posted on Friday, April 8th, 2011
Graphic design is one of those fields that makes almost no sense to those outside of the practice. On the surface, it sounds simple... graphic design is the process of using images and/or words to communicate a message or story in an engaging manner. But the reality of it is far more complex. Often times, the true role of a graphic designer is that of mediator... finding a way to combine very different elements by very different people into a single cohesive piece. Sometimes you get lucky and everybody involved is on the same page. All the pieces of the project come together effortlessly, and everybody walks away happy.
But not always.
Sometimes its a battle from start to finish to just find a solution that pisses off the fewest number of people.
Projects like these are incredibly stressful because at some point you have to accept that not everybody is going to walk away happy. And since it's your job to make everybody happy, you can't help but feel like a failure even when the project ends up a success.
One time I was called in on a project which had been dragging on for months because the two previous graphic designers couldn't come up with an acceptable compromise. The client was a large-ish company which had a president, a board of directors, an art director, and an advisory committee... all of which had to be appeased before any design could be signed off on. On top of that, there was also a photographer and an artist involved, and they too needed to have a voice in the project. All told, there were fourteen people I had to work with. Fourteen people who each had opinions as to how the project should be handled.
No wonder all previous efforts had failed. Getting fourteen people to agree on something as arbitrary as a design concept is nigh impossible. I certainly had my work cut out for me this time.
The first thing I did was hold meetings with all the entities to find out their goals for the project.
Secondly I met with the creative people to find out what they felt would reach those goals.
Thirdly I reviewed the rejected works that the two previous designers had done.
Unfortunately, there was no clear direction for me to follow. So I decided to do something a little crazy. Instead of coming up with a single design that addressed everybody's goals, I decided to come up with five different designs that specifically addressed individual goals. I then made five separate presentations and got the five approvals I needed.
I then created a new design by carefully combining elements from all five projects which I had crafted to work together from the very start. Then I went around to everybody to present the finished design. At each stop, I placed emphasis on the pieces that they had contributed while de-emphasizing everything else. In this way, everybody felt as though their part was the most important.
And that was the key to getting approval on the project. NOT by trying to make everybody feel as though they were equally represented... but instead by making everybody feel as though their part was the dominant, most critical piece of the puzzle. Human nature dictates that everybody wants to feel more important... more special... than everybody else. I was just providing the illusion that this was the case, even though the reality was that everybody played an equal part.
Obviously, I am more talented a negotiator than the politicians in charge of the US budget.
MAKE YOUR FUCKING COMPROMISES TO PASS A BUDGET, THEN CONVINCE EVERYBODY THAT THEIR CONCERNS WERE THE DOMINANT, MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF THE PUZZLE! YOU'RE POLITICIANS, THAT'S WHAT YOU DO!
For crying out loud. Democrats want a 30 billion dollar cut. Republicans want a 60 billion dollar cut. Just call it a 45 billion dollar cut and declare victory already! All this stupid shit about shutting down the government makes me want to nuke Congress. Yo! Dumbfucks... it doesn't matter what you do... it's how you sell it. Any politician worth their salt can spin shit to sound like victory no matter what happens. But the egos here are massive, so declaring victory is apparently not good enough.
Which leaves us with name-calling and finger-pointing.
And a potential government shut-down.
I say put Tim Gunn in charge...
Photo by Bravo TV
Make it work, people. Make it work...
Posted on Saturday, April 9th, 2011
Today I finally found a minute to file my taxes. I pretty much had to file them because I need my refund check to cover the three vacations I just took. This was made abundantly clear to me when I went to the cash machine and it refused to give me any money.
I hate it when that happens.
Life would be so much better if cash machines gave me money without checking my account balance first.
Anyway... with no money to be had, it was time to rummage through pants pockets, couch cushions, travel bags, car ashtrays, and the like. After a half-hour of digging, I managed to scrape together
But that's okay.
I wouldn't trade my wonderful time in Venice... or seeing Matt & Kim in London... or seeing OMD and Mackintosh Braun in Los Angeles... or celebrating my sister's birthday in Las Vegas... for all the tea in China. There are some experiences you simply can't put a price on. So I'm content to be poor for a little while and live on fond memories.
And who knows? Everything could change tomorrow.
Heck, in one day I've gone from being flat-broke to having all the money in the world. Anything is possible!
Posted on Sunday, April 10th, 2011
It's a relaxing kind of Bullet Sunday today.
• Scamberry? I don't know if many people realize it, but my home state of Washington is famous for more than just apples. We're also the fifth-largest producer of cranberries in the USA. There are "cranberry bogs" on the coast in an area off Grayland Beach, which is south of the Ocean Shores resorts. I'm reminded of my visit there every time I see one of those beautiful and awesome Ocean Spray commercials on TV...
It's Henry & Justin... the Ocean Spray Cranberry Guys!
Justin says "Did I err?"
I think the commercials are shot on the East Coast somewhere, but it's still eerily familiar.
Except it kind of gives the illusion that cranberries are grown in 4-feet of water, which they're not. The fields aren't flooded until harvest time and then it's only about 6-inches of water. What the commercials show is the holding ponds where the cranberries end up flowing after they've been taken off the vine. It may be a bit misleading, but it sure looks pretty.
And speaking of misleading... today I got reminded of Washington's cranberry country for an entirely different reason. Apparently there's a cranberry war going on between Ocean Spray and a rival company, "Decas"... which has been trashing Ocean Spray over alleged no-cranberry-content in one of Ocean Spray's cranberry products. They created a site called "Scamberry.info" under the pretense of being a consumer advocacy site (but didn't reveal their association with the site until six days later).
What I find fascinating is that social media has become a weapon in corporate warfare. And now that I've had a taste of it, I find myself questioning every single "advocacy" site I've ever seen. Well... except for those sites slamming high fructose corn syrup. That shit is in everything and made of pure evil.
• Service! I can complain about AT&T's mobile service (because it pretty much sucks anymore), but it's impossible for me to complain about their customer service. Every single time I've had a question or problem, they've gone overboard to set things right. AT&T customer service is so good that I'd be a customer for life if only I could make calls in major cities and use data in my home town. As it is, I honestly don't know what I'm going to do when my contract is up. If iPhone 5 is dual-band CDMA (for domestic) and GSM (for international), then Verizon might just steal me away.
These are the kind of problems that keep me awake at night. Well, that and a raging case of chronic insomnia.
• Mirren! Last night's Saturday Night Live hosted by Helen Mirren was a terrific episode...
I can't remember it being this good since Betty White hosted, which has me wondering... what other "golden ladies" should they have host to make SNL not suck so bad? After seeing her on William Shatner's Raw Nerve, one name keeps popping in my head. How frickin' cool would it be to have Carol Burnett host?
She would be perfect for this. Perfect. And a Google search reveals that Im not the only one who thinks so. If you're on Facebook, you can LIKE a campaign to get her on SNL here.
• Bing! I know this may sound impossible... but Microsoft has created a product I love. Yes... you read that right... Microsoft. Their Bing! app for iPad is a remarkable interface for the web that completely buries the competition...
I don't use an iPad much, but have to admit that it's apps like Bing! that make me want to use one more.
Tomorrow promises to be a hectic day, so I suppose I should try and get some sleep. Or at least go lay down and pretend that I'm going to get some sleep.
Posted on Monday, April 11th, 2011
There's so much horror in the world today that we're pretty much conditioned to accept it as normal.
The problem being that it isn't normal, and I'm growing more and more despondent over the fact that people seem perfectly content to let it slide. We've become a society ruled by hatred and fear, and any joy we feel is tempered by the knowledge that somebody, somewhere hates us for what we think... for what we believe... for who we are. Even worse, we're constantly reminded of it. Keeping everybody in a perpetual state of fear is apparently the easiest way to control them.
This was made painfully clear to me earlier in the evening when I got a call from the National Rifle Association...
"I'M CALLING WITH A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE NRA WHO WANTS YOU TO LISTEN TO A SHORT ONE-MINUTE MESSAGE AND ANSWER A QUESTION ABOUT HOW CONGRESS IS TRYING TO STRIP US OF OUR SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS AND--
"I'm not interested."
"IT WILL ONLY TAKE A MINUTE OF YOUR TIME AND--"
"I support gun ownership, and am disgusted that you are trying to scare the crap out of people with absurd threats like this. Nobody is taking our guns away. So no thanks."
= click! =
Now, he could have called and said "I'm with the NRA, and I'm calling to ask for your support as we work to ensure Second Amendment rights are protected for all Americans." But oh no... the asshole had to call and say "THEY'RE COMING TO TAKE YOUR GUNS AND STRIP YOU OF YOUR RIGHTS! BOOGAH BOOGAH BOOGA!!!"
Well fuck that. And fuck the NRA for being such fear-mongering dicks. While the particulars surrounding gun ownership will always be debated, there's not going to be a repeal of the Second Amendment when the majority of Americans support it. And how do I know the majority of American's support it? Oh... IT'S ON THE NRA'S FUCKING WEBSITE!
I suppose now I'm going to get a call from the anti-gun lobby saying "THE NRA WANTS TO FORCE YOUR KIDS TO CARRY GUNS IN SCHOOL!" or some other fear-encrusted bullshit.
It never ends.
And here I thought somebody telling me my handwriting was "stupid" because I don't drop the descenders on my p's and g's and y's and q's was the worst thing that could happen today...
... but instead I had to be reminded that the world sucks ass.
And that sucks ass.
P.S. My handwriting is terrible because I don't hand-write a lot. I mostly type on a computer. And when I do write, it's usually in all-caps. Sometimes I have to use lower-case letters, but I still like everything to fit between the lines on a paper so I move up all the letters that have descenders on them. Is that so wrong?
Posted on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011
In all seriousness here, I don't know whether to laugh or cry anymore...
Don't get me wrong... if he can prove that President Obama was not born in the USA, REGARDLESS OF THE OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY, then more power to him. That would be a massive lie that deserves to be exposed, and "The Donald" would truly be doing our country a service by exposing it (even though I don't really give a shit).
Until there is some ACTUAL FUCKING EVIDENCE and all Trump has is a BUNCH OF FUCKING LIES then he should probably SHUT THE FUCK UP! Because if he CAN'T produce any ACTUAL FUCKING EVIDENCE then all he's doing is TRASHING THE PRESIDENT FOR PERSONAL GAIN WITH NO CONSEQUENCES FOR HIS LIES! I mean, come on... HE'S RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT!
Of course, all the birther pigfuckers are defending him by saying "Donald Trump is only asking questions! " But this is a load of shit. His "questions" are just lies masquerading as questions. It would be like Bill Gates popping up on every fucking news program in existence and saying "DONALD TRUMP HAS PROVIDED NO PROOF THAT HE'S NOT A CARD-CARRYING MEMBER OF NAMBLA AND HAS SEX WITH UNDERAGE BOYS!" Or perhaps "I AM SPENDING TWO MILLION DOLLARS TO FIND OUT THE TRUTH AS TO WHETHER DONALD TRUMP IS A PEDOPHILE THAT FUCKS CHILDREN!!" Or something like "THERE CONTINUES TO BE NO EVIDENCE THAT DONALD TRUMP IS NOT A CHILD RAPIST!"
People hear that shit... conclude that somebody with millions of dollars like Bill Gates must know what he's talking about... and suddenly people are believing that Donald Trump is having sex with their children. It's a lie (or so I would hope), but people are too fucking lazy to find out the truth, so they just roll over and believe what they think they're being told.
Look, I can't say for definite sure that President Obama was born in Hawaii like all the evidence says. I wasn't there. Maybe Trump is actually on to something. Maybe all the birther pigfuckers are right. Maybe it's all true. But I also wasn't there when Donald Trump allegedly had sex with all those young boys, so maybe that's true too.
I mean, it could be.
It's not like you need any evidence or hard facts anymore.
Just millions of dollars and an agenda to baselessly discredit somebody.
Or a blog. Same difference! It's all good!
Posted on Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
This is what I look like watching the news on television...
I cannot believe how fucking insane this world is right now. The vast, unfathomable amount of dumbassery unleashed in a single day on this planet makes my brain melt. The vortex of stupid is so dense that it's like a black hole from which even light (and sanity) cannot escape. And just when you think it can't get any worse, a politician will pop up and prove you wrong.
At this point, I think it's time to accept the fact that we're all doomed.
If the world is ending, I'm having an extra serving of Snack-Pack with dinner.
Posted on Thursday, April 14th, 2011
Every time you turn around, something is responsible for turning everybody gay.
Show gay characters kissing on television, it turns people gay. Play gay lyrics on the radio, it turns people gay. Allow two dudes to get married, it turns people gay. Let gays serve in the military, it turns people gay. Anything that's gay is turning people gay. "Experts" say that this is because "validating the homosexual lifestyle" makes people think "it's okay to be gay" and, as a result, "kids turn gay because they think it's acceptable behavior."
Well okay then.
This would explain the drama unfolding over a J. Crew advertisement where a mother is having weekend fun with her young son by painting his toenails pink...
This caused a contributor over at (wait for it) FOX News, "Doctor" Keith Ablow, to declare that this kind "gender identity" confusion will require "psychotherapy for the kid." In other words, painting his toenails pink is turning him gay. Or, best case scenario, causing him to be confused about being straight.
Apparently whether he ends up liking vagina or penis is inconsequential to his sexual identity. It's the color of his toenails for one day when he's five years old that determines whether he's into clam or sausage.
Well okay then.
I guess it was a mistake to put Bad Monkey is charge of makeup around here...
Now, I'm no expert but maybe... just maybe... all this stuff isn't turning people gay at all. Perhaps they were gay all along, and seeing that "it's okay to be gay" on television and in music and in the military and in marriage just means that they can be honest with everybody about who they've always been.
Or... or... all their mothers painted their toenails pink for a day when they were five years old.
Because who am I to argue with a "doctor?"
But hold on a second...
If homosexuality is a product of gender confusion and pink nail polish, then how do you explain somebody like Gareth Thomas? He grew up in working-class Wales. He didn't have any gay influences and felt alone and different in his environment. He's a total badass in one of the toughest, most "masculine" sports on earth. He even got married because that's what was expected of him. And yet... he's gay?
Um. Yeah. Something tells me that he never got his toenails painted pink or wore a dress or played with dolls or did any of the "girlie" things that would make some poor, young, impressionable kid turn gay. On the contrary, his environment should have been enough to insure that any gay demons he had were duly excised.
So what the fuck happened?
And what about those kids who grow up in liberal hippie communes like Portland, Oregon where being gay is not only "okay"... it's embraced as an essential character trait and roundly encouraged by society? How the fuck does anybody growing up in that gay-friendly utopia ever turn out straight? What about straight kids who grew up with gay parents? Holy crap... those kids are around people being gay EVERY DAY!
Well, I'm no expert but maybe... just maybe...
Seriously. Am I the only one who goes insane when I see this stupid crap? Does logic play absolutely no part in our thinking anymore? Are people so poorly conditioned to believe the fucked up shit they see in the "news" that they will believe something no matter how outrageous and unlikely it sounds? I know I've been harping on this very subject all week... but WHAT THE FUCK?!?
I'm not going to lie. Continuous bombardment by teh stupid is really starting to mess with my head. But there's no escaping it. This is all I see anymore. At some point, I'm going to have to take a break from the news, the internet, and society in general.
Or just stay the course and end up in an asylum for the criminally insane.
Which might not be so bad, because I'll finally be isolated from the news, the internet, and society in general.
Posted on Friday, April 15th, 2011
Posted on Saturday, April 16th, 2011
Avitable recently wrote a blog entry titled "What's Better Than That?" (which was a continuation of a blog entry he made in 2010) where he asked his readers to contribute a "greater than" chain of items. I came up with a few random topics, but felt uncomfortable just tossing them out without any explanation, so I decided to make a blog entry of my own.
For reasons I will never understand, I have a big problem with drinking out of anything made of plastic. I hate drinking from plastic containers of any kind. The feel of it is wrong, and the idea of it touching my teeth freaks me out. For this same reason, I don't use plastic drinking straws. Unless I've got a plastic cup, then I use a straw because it's a lesser amount of plastic touching my mouth. Ideally, I want to drink out of something made of glass. Paper cups are okay too. Of course, just about anything is okay compared to plastic. Hideous plastic.
I'm not talking about a style of cuisine. I'm talking about food in a country. With this in mind, Italy is the country where I most love to eat. Pizza, pasta, gelato... all my favorite foods are Italian. The problem is that Italian food seems to always diminish (or outright suck) outside of Italy. Take my favorite dish, for example: Fettuccine Alfredo. At the original restaurant where it was invented in Rome, it's made from impossibly thin noodle ribbons mixed with lots of butter and parmesan cheese. THE END. Go to Olive Garden here in the States and suddenly "Fettuccine Alfredo" becomes these thick, gummy noodles covered in a weak cream sauce that's got some garlic and other shit in it. THAT'S NOT FETTUCCINE ALFREDO! It would be like ordering a hamburger and getting a slice of chicken between two slices of turnip. After Italy, I like eating best in Spain and right here at home in the USA. The worst place I've been to eat is Korea. Not because the food is necessarily bad, but because vegetarian options are severely limited. After four days of kimchee and pickled vegetables, I didn't want to eat anymore.
All of my favorite music is stuck in the 80's. That's when Depeche Mode, The Thompson Twins, OMD, New Order, The Smiths, Erasure, Duran Duran, and loads of other bands I love were at their peak. No other era of music even comes close. Though I have to say that I've really been liking the latest stuff I've been hearing from the likes of Matt & Kim, Foster the People, Mackintosh Braun, and such. Add in the awesome new album by OMD, and the 2010 decade is off to an exciting start. Then comes the 1990's, which I like pretty much because the earliest parts were a continuation of the 80's, and a lot of bands I love continued to release new stuff. That was also when the "Seattle Sound" exploded and I loved being in the middle of it all. After that I'd have to go with the 1960's, simply because that's when the Beatles were dominating. From there on out... meh. I thought the 2000's were pretty lame for the kind of music I like. And the 1970's were polluted with really bad disco, which I hated, so badly that I took refuge in the emerging punk rock scene. As for the future? If the great stuff I've been loving recently continues, I'm looking forward to the decade.
Here's the deal. I love Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. These two movies alone are more beloved by me than all other sci-fi in the universe combined. But then Return of the Jedi came out and fucked up everything because George Lucas wanted to sell cute Ewok toys more than he wanted to tell a compelling story. Even so, The Star Wars Trilogy sat at the very top of my list... until the prequel trilogy was unleashed. Thanks to Jar Jar Binks, Annie Skywalker, and stupid-ass shit that reduced Star Wars to idiotic burp and fart jokes, the unthinkable happened. Star Wars was ruined for me. As much as I tried, I couldn't un-watch The Phantom Menace. It was then that my love of Star Trek (the ORIGINAL cast series and films) grew brighter, eclipsing Star Wars in a way that was previously unthinkable. Sure I thought that the sequel series kept getting worse and worse (Voyager was so awful I stopped watching), but the bulk of the Star Trek Universe is pretty good stuff. Even so, everything else in sci-fi falls way, way behind Star Wars.
I understand why most of the world thinks Disney is the premiere source of animation on earth... honestly I do. The golden age of Disney spans decades, and has given us some of the most breathtaking animated features ever seen. But the films of Hayao Miyazaki are mind-blowing. They use animation as a way of telling stories that are truly revolutionary and remarkable. Animation allows us to break the bounds of reality. But Miyazaki breaks the bounds of imagination. I dearly love and treasure his every work, and when you take his entire oeuvre you get something unmatched in brilliance, eclipsing even Disney. Then along comes Pixar, whose work I also love. They simply don't know how to make a bad film, and may eventually overcome Disney in terms of masterworks. No list of animation favorites would be complete without Aardman, responsible for Wallace & Gromit and other genius. If I were to continue, I'd have to put Satoshi Kon on the list. Possibly Dreamworks. I'm sure there are many others.
You simply cannot exceed the greatness that was the original "Bond Girl"... Honey Rider as played by Ursula Andress. She set the benchmark for everyone that would follow, and has one of the single best entrances into a film ever made. Over the years new Bond Girls would come and go... some of them cool (Pussy Galore), some of them hot (Mary Goodnight), some of them bizarre (Xenia Onatopp), some of them boring (Octopussy), and some of them just plain bad (Christmas Jones). But the ones I always liked best were the Bond Girls who were beautiful and badass. I loved Melina from For Your Eyes Only because she was ruthless in her revenge, and equaled Bond in smarts. Jinx was played by Halle Berry... so enough said there. And Michelle Yeoh's turn as "Wai Lin" was so kickass that I found myself praying that the character would be reprised in the next Bond film. When compiling my list, I was surprised that there were very few Bond Girls I actively disliked. Most of them rose above the typical "damsel in distress" crap that women usually get relegated to in films like this, which I didn't realize until now. Interesting.
Shocking, I know. But seriously... nobody can touch them. Nobody comes close. For now.
Posted on Sunday, April 17th, 2011
I can't believe it's the two-hundred-and-twenty-seventh episode of Bullet Sunday! That's like 60% of a full year's worth!
• Needle! Today is the 50th anniversary of the ground-breaking for Seattle's Space Needle. Originally created for the 1962 "Century 21 World's Fair," it quickly became a symbol of the city (if not the entire Pacific Northwest). What I love about the structure is that it doesn't look dated despite its classic 1960's styling. On top of that, it's a beautiful cornerstone of the Seattle skyline and a cool tourist attraction...
I've visited dozens of times, and the view from the top still takes my breath away. If you'd like to read more about the history of Seattle's landmark, there's a nice wrap-up at Wikipedia.
• Happy! What's kind of a mash-up between Friends and Coupling but somehow manages to be uniquely hilarious television in its own right? It's Happy Endings! I have to admit, I thought the whole "group-of-six-friends-half-girls-half-boys" sitcom concept had been played into the ground (usually to horrible effect). But I was dead wrong. Happy Endings is funny, funny, stuff. The premiere episode is available for FREE on iTunes and well-worth your time to check out...
• Proof? On the other end of the spectrum... the new television drama Body of Proof is just so bad. Dana Delany is great as a surgeon-turned-medical-examiner, but just about every other character on the show is total crap. The writing is so lame that it's almost comical. It's as if they set out to make everybody be intentionally annoying and unwatchable. I was hoping for another
• Collectorz. If you're a Macintosh whore who wants to enter your comic book collection in a computer database, you're pretty much screwed. Years ago I used a program called "ComicBase" which was originally created for Macs, but then they switched to Windows and dropped development for the Mac version (nice!). Over the years there's been a few new programs for Mac, but they haven't been very feature-rich. Enter "Comic Collector for Mac OS X" which is coming May 17th. It looks fairly complete and very affordable ($29.95 or $49.95 for a "pro" version)...
It pulls data and cover images off their web server, and allows for quick and easy barcode entry. In anticipation of its release, I've been using a trial membership for their companion "cloud" service: "Comic Book Collector Connect." It's a little cumbersome for adding comics, but still very cool. What's sweet about this company is that even if their OS X software sucks, I can still use the online Connect service to index my collection (unlimited access and database size for $19.95 a year!). If you're a fellow Mac whore with a comic book collection, check it out.
• AirPrint. One of the more serious omissions from iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, etc.) was printing. Apple finally addressed this a while back with a technology they call AirPrint. The problem is that this "feature" is half-baked at best. First you either have to buy an AirPrint-Enabled printer or find a 3rd party solution which makes your non-Airport printer be recognized by the iOS. And then the fun begins... figuring out which apps can actually print worth a crap. Most don't. Apple's "Photos" app, for example, doesn't allow you to fill the page with your photo when you print it. Instead, it prints a tiny image in the middle of the page. Other apps print okay, but the lack of control over orientation, scale, and placement is a serious detriment. Only apps which are specifically designed for printing (like Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) seem to produce expected results. This is kind of embarrassing for Apple. Usually they don't release something until it's polished and functional, and AirPrint isn't there yet. Still... it is a promising glimpse of the functionality that devices like these will need in a "post PC world."
Annnnnd... now it's time for the new Burn Notice movie... The Fall of Sam Axe! As a huge fan of Bruce Campbell, it's must-see TV.
Posted on Monday, April 18th, 2011
A long time ago in a land far away, I took a temp job because I didn't want to go hungry from the lack of hours on a project I had. It was a unique job because it was task-based instead of time-based. Each day you'd get a list of tasks that added up to around 7-1/2 hours (each task having a time value assigned to it). The problem was that the time values were almost always wrong. Most of them in a good way. One of your tasks might have 2 hours assigned to it, but actually only take 30 minutes to complete. The up-side to this was that they didn't care how much time you spent at the office so long as you got your task-list done. If you could show up and finish everything in an hour, you could go home and still get credit for a full eight hours.
Pretty nifty, huh?
One day a co-worker was heading out and said "I'll be ten minutes late coming back from lunch." It was a totally unnecessary statement, since there were no "hours" to keep track of... just tasks. Nobody cared how long a lunch hour you took. They only cared that you finished your tasks. I assumed somebody was going to be looking for him after lunch or something, but that wasn't the case. The guy was new and wasn't used to how things worked.
But... that wasn't the end of it.
From then on, any time somebody left the office for whatever reason, they'd announce that they'd be coming back late, even though there was no earthly reason to do so.
"I'll be fifteen minutes late coming back from break!"
"I'll be thirty minutes late coming back from lunch!
"I'll be an hour late coming back from HR!
Pretty soon it became a contest as to who could be the most "late" coming back to the office. After a couple weeks, it got pretty crazy. Finally, one guy came in, distributed his tasks to friends, announced "I'll be eight hours late coming back from the copy room...
He, of course, got paid for those eight hours because his task list got finished and that's the only thing that mattered to his employers.
It may sound crazy, but it was a results-driven workplace which is actually kind of refreshing. Sure the example I'm using is flawed because the tasks weren't attributed the correct time values... but, other than that, I think it's a great system in theory. You get a reasonable set of goals and then get paid for achieving those goals, regardless of how much time it takes. If you are an efficient, productive worker, you are rewarded with a short work-day. If you are an unproductive, inefficient worker, you have a long work-day ahead of you.
But that's not how the real world works. Well, that's not totally true. Some jobs are paid on commission or by assignment, which is kind of the same thing. But it doesn't seem as though that's how most 9-to-5 jobs work. Fast, efficient workers are just given more work to fill out their eight hours. Slow, inefficient workers put in just enough effort to not get fired.
And why do I care? Why am I rambling on about the past and whining about unfair work hours for efficient, productive workers like myself?
BECAUSE, ZOMFG!, PORTAL 2 IS AVAILABLE FOR EARLY-SALE DOWNLOAD NOW!! AND ALL I WANT IS TO SPEND AS MUCH OF MY TIME AS POSSIBLE PLAYING IT!
How badly do I want to show up to work tomorrow, announce that I'll be thirty-two hours late coming back from the supply closet, and then spend the rest of the week playing Portal 2?
So bad that I don't dare buy a copy tonight.
I've been waiting over two years for this day. I shouldn't be bothered over waiting a few more weeks.
But I am. I am.
Posted on Tuesday, April 19th, 2011
You know how when you go to eat a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup how you have to go through all the hassle of removing that stupid brown paper cup? What a horrible waste of time! Who wants to mess with that crap? I buy Reese's Peanut Butter Cups because I want to eat them... not because I want to play around with stupid paper!
Well, the people at Hershey must have felt my pain and frustration, because they've released NEW Reese's Minis. Tiny little peanut butter cups that are UNWRAPPED, just like God intended...
So now there's no time blown on futzing with that stupid paper cup. You can just tear off the top and pour them into your mouth directly...
Now THAT'S how I eat a Reese's!
Annnnnnnd... SHIT! My entire website is down. Either Media Temple is dicking around with things AGAIN, or Skynet really has become self-aware, and I will never be able to post this entry!
Looks like Blogography has been terminated.
UPDATE: Annnnnnnd... we're back.
Posted on Wednesday, April 20th, 2011
This morning after my daily toast and jam, I checked my email and saw a new one pop up with the subject line "How does it feel?" which came from an email address I didn't recognize. Naturally, I thought this was some kind of creepy spam that was advertising male "enhancement drugs" or some other crap, but I was also curious because usually one of my two spam filters manages to intercept stuff like this. So I opened it.
Much to my surprise, it wasn't spam. It was a reader(?) who was overjoyed to be telling me that "Your hero Steve Jobs is spying on you" and was asking "How does it feel to have your privacy raped by Apple?" Then there was a link to a website for an application called iPhone Tracker.
Apparently, your iPhone is constantly keeping track of everywhere you go and "secretly" saving this data. Then, when you sync your iPhone with your computer, iPhone transfers this information to your backup file. It also transfers the data when you migrate to a new iPhone or restore your data for some reason. Two guys names Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden stumbled across it and decided to write a program that allows you to display the data on a map, like so...
Everywhere in the USA I've been for the past ten months.
The tracking is surprisingly deep. This is a drive I made out of Chicago last July.
Three or four trips to Europe, all tracked!
The dots are obviously not actual locations in Corsica I visited... probably just cell towers iPhone signaled.
A drive down the Amalfi Coast in Italy.
Now, my first reaction when I opened the program on my Mac was THIS IS SO AWESOME!! I mean, heck, I actually bought an iPhone app called "Trip Journal" to track my travels... I could have saved some money if I had known the feature was built-in! My only disappointment was that the data only goes back to June 30th, 2010 and I wish it went back further.
But then the implications began to sink it.
The iPhone Tracker developers don't believe that this data is transmitted to Apple in any form, but that doesn't mean that Apple couldn't take a look at it in the future. This alone doesn't scare me much since AT&T already has a record of everywhere I go (they log call locations for billing purposes). What does concern me is that Apple doesn't disclose that this data is being collected. If somebody were to steal my laptop, they could potentially see everywhere I've been and I'd be none the wiser because nobody told me it was there when I bought my iPhone. Not that I really care... I always blog where I'm at and log my every move with Gowalla anyway, but still... this is not a good thing.
Mostly because this data could be used in devious ways now that everybody knows about it. Want to know if your wife is cheating on you? Pull up iPhone Tracker and you can see exactly where she's been at any point in time. Want to know what your kids are up to? Run iPhone Tracker and know everywhere they go. Want to stalk somebody? Break into their house and run iPhone Tracker on their computer so you can track their movement patterns. The list goes on and on.
Obviously I don't think there's any evil motive behind Apple logging this information. They're probably working on some cool new feature for iDevices which will use the data in an interesting way. But they really, really should have warned people that their location is being tracked and definitely give people the option to turn this "feature" off if they should so desire. At the very least they should be encrypting it so that it's not so ridiculously easy to view.
I'm not very paranoid by nature, but every time something like this pops up, I can't help but wonder what other aspects of my life are being analyzed and collected. Then I conclude there's probably no part of my life that isn't on a computer somewhere, and just accept the fact that very little of what we do or say is private.
If you want to spy on yourself, you can download the Mac app to view your iPhone tracking data here.
Posted on Thursday, April 21st, 2011
Time for another BEHIND THE SCENES episode of Blogography!
Thanks so much to everybody who has supported the debut issue of Thrice Fiction magazine! RW and I have been surprised... shocked even... by the number of people who have been kind enough to take a look and give us some nice feedback. In all honesty, I thought maybe 40-50 people would bother to download the thing. Sure it's free, but time is valuable, and I didn't think many people would give it a chance. Even more surprising, a good chunk of you actually bought the printed magazine from MagCloud. We don't make any money off of those sales, but knowing people like the magazine enough to buy it... well, that's better than money!
Okay, probably not... but when you combine all the downloads and printed issues, we've "sold" around 320 copies. Considering we haven't done any promotion outside of our blogs and Facebook, this is pretty remarkable.
Some of the nicest comments I received were saying good things about the artwork, which is really special to me considering most of it was a last-minute addition. Though, considering most people only see the crappy cartoons I slap together for this blog, I guess anything would be "good" by comparison! A few people had asked about the "medium" I used for the pieces, so I thought I'd do another "behind the scenes" entry to explain how the front cover came together...
I suppose the first thing I should say is that this is not a painting. The painted "look" is just a couple of Photoshop filter effects. So what is it? Just a bunch of photo pieces that have been blended together to create an image based on this sketch I made to show "The End" of the earth...
The first step was to find me a good star-field image. Fortunately, our tax dollars have funded the Hubble Telescope, which has provided thousands of hi-res images to choose from. I ended up rearranging the stars a bit, but this was the image that was most like I had in mind....
All the other photos were taken from my extensive collection of travel photos. That way, I don't have to worry about obtaining permission to use them or get in trouble for copyright infringement or whatever. "The earth" is just a photo I shot in Southern Utah that has been turned upside-down and warped into the shape I needed...
The water was some tricky business. I found a photo I took on Kauai's north shore which made for a pretty good start...
Kind of rough there, but I didn't want to start painting the pieces together until I had the waterfall in place. Fortunately, that was made easy thanks to a photo I took at one of the Walt Disney World resort hotels (don't ask me which one)...
In my original sketch, I had wanted a metropolitan cityscape in the background. The problem was that I couldn't make it look good. And believe me, I tried. I spent a good hour cobbling together skyscrapers in an attempt to get it looking right. But it never did. Rather than waste the rest of my life trying, I tossed everything out and started over. But this time I thought I'd go for something less urban, and found a shot I took last year at Portofino in Northern Italy. Cutting the city out, it fit perfectly. All I had to do was add a reflection in the water and paint in a shoreline, and I was set...
I also cobbled together some photos of flat red rocks in order to make a better surface for the waves to sit on. I thought it looked a little more realistic. Though I suppose "realistic" is all relative when you're talking about a city floating in space.
Anyway... next up was the sky. I wanted a bright, almost surreal sky so that it would contrast nicely with the darkness at the bottom. So I went back to Southern Utah and found exactly what I wanted at Bryce Canyon. Well, not exactly. I had to do a bit of touch-up and color adjustment, but it's still a really cool sky...
After I popped it in the shot, I added a little bit more coastline waaaayyyy in the background to help add some depth.
Time elapsed: 1 hour, 15 minutes. It would have been less, but I wasted time trying to smoosh New York and Chicago into a new city.
Then the fun begins. Hours of Photoshopping all the pieces together so they look like one cohesive scene. In particular, the ocean edge and waterfall. They never really "fit" together, and so it took extensive painting, warping, and blending to make it work. It's kind of hard to see in these tiny images just how much work I had to do, but at full print-resolution size, it's a big mess, and required a lot of time to make happen. I also had to adjust the colors of all the individual pieces so they look like they were in the same shot. It's only a subtle alteration, but it makes a big difference in the overall "feel" of the image.
Time elapsed: 3 hours, 30 minutes.
After that was all finished up, I ran a couple of Photoshop filters on the photo to make it look like a painting and, voilà, a cover was born...
Most of the other stuff in the issue was drawn in Adobe Illustrator, then ran through the same "painterly" Photoshop filters so I had a kind of "look" going on...
And there you have it! Join us in two months for issue #2! And if you haven't checked out issue #1, you can download it for FREE at ThriceFiction.com!
Posted on Friday, April 22nd, 2011
Today is Earth Day! And it's also Good Friday!
It's Good Earth Friday! And I've gone green...
Guess I'll go plant a tree or eat a salad or something.
Posted on Saturday, April 23rd, 2011
The past two weeks have been a blissful whirlwind of not traveling.
I had thought that I would be starting up again next Thursday... but just found out I got the date wrong. It's the Thursday after that. Ordinarily this would be a good thing. I've been killing myself to get caught up with life, and now I can relax a bit because I've got a whole extra week. Except... now I've got to be in two different cities on the same day, so I've got to reschedule a bunch of stuff. That's always makes for good times.
Guess I'll worry about that on Monday.
Anyway... today was set aside for Spring cleaning. I took absolutely everything out of my bedroom so I can dust, wash, vacuum, and scrub. It's a lot of work, but it makes living with allergies a bit more comfortable. My intent was to put everything back after cleaning, but now I'm tired and don't feel like it. This means there's crap piled everywhere. Except in front of the television. I cleared a path so I could watch last night's episode of Fringe.
And, of course... NEW DOCTOR WHO!!
I never much cared for the latest incarnation of The Doctor until that wonderful, magical, touching, amazing episode with Vincent VanGogh, then I became pretty much obsessed with the show. Again. It doesn't hurt that Steven Moffat is running the series now. I've been a huge fan of his since Coupling.
They filmed some of the episode here in the USA and it was a very good... albeit slightly disturbing... season opener...
Something about aliens which you can only remember seeing while you're looking at them (then forget about them the minute you're not) is a frickin' fantastic concept. The cliffhanger ends with a question... "How can you fight an enemy you can't remember?" A very good question! I'll be watching to find out next Saturday.
And now I suppose now I had better go at least put my bed back together so I have a place to sleep tonight.
What a fun way to spend a Saturday night!
Posted on Sunday, April 24th, 2011
Well whadda ya know, it's an EASTER edition of Bullet Sunday!
• Like! Bad Monkey is now on Facebook. Heaven help us all...
If you want to see the mayhem for yourself, here you go...
• Kubrick! The holy grail for Stanley Kubrick fans (outside his movies, obviously) is a copy of a book called Full Metal Jacket Diary by Matthew Modine, who was an actor in the film. The reason it's such a big deal is twofold...
Just looking at the few amazing behind-the-scenes photos on the official website should have any Kubrick fan dying to own it...
But... to do the iPad app right is going to cost a lot of money. $20,000 money. In order to fund the project, Rackoff has put it up on Kickstarter so people can donate to get the work done. Anybody chipping in $5 or more will get a 'special thanks" credit on the app's credits page. If you've got money to burn, there are bigger rewards for bigger pledges. If you're a Kubrick fan... or a Matthew Modine fan... or a Full Metal Jacket fan... or just a movie fan... head over to Kickstarter so we can get this funded!
• Blows! Microsoft has been (rightfully) bragging about crossing the 350 million license milestone for Windows 7 in only 18 months. Except... I can't help but wonder how much of the rapid adoption rate is thanks to its predecessor, Windows Vista, being such a steaming pile of shit. Even with the Service Packs (mostly) fixing all the crap that made me want to take a flamethrower to my PC, I maintain that everybody who purchased a Vista license should have gotten Windows 7 as a free upgrade. Because anybody forced to suffer through Vista after updowngrading from the (relatively) painless Windows XP experience deserves to be compensated. Instead, we were forced to add billions of dollars to Microsoft's bank account to get out of a shitty OS that was never ready for release in the first place (after SIX YEARS of development). Any doubts I had about being an Apple Whore were eradicated by the release of Windows Fucking Vista and subsequently having to pay for Windows 7. I long for the day I never have to use Windows again.
• Bunny! If you celebrate the holiday, hope it's a happy one for you!
Annnd... time to start hauling all this crap back into my bedroom. Spring cleaning blows.
Posted on Monday, April 25th, 2011
Most people cite Thanksgiving as the "leftovers holiday" because they end up eating turkey for days afterwards. Others say Christmas is the "leftovers holiday" because they end up eating ham for a week. Neither of these work for me because I'm vegetarian. A vegetarian who eats dairy and eggs. Which is why Easter is my "leftovers holiday." It's hard boiled eggs, egg-salad sandwiches, deviled eggs, and potato-egg salad from here on out...
Not that I'm complaining. I love egg-salad sandwiches!
What I hate? Being the last person to hear a joke.
Which is why an email I got this morning made me a little depressed. I had to actually Google That Shit in order to even realize there was a joke in the first place. How did I become this out of touch with the world? I guess I'll ponder that while having another egg-salad sandwich...
Posted on Tuesday, April 26th, 2011
When I was younger, I loved to cook. I loved to bake. I loved experimenting in the kitchen to come up with something new. But, as the years went by, I had less and less time available for messing around with food. Home-baked bread was replaced by bread-machine bread. And when that got to be too much trouble, I went back to store-bought bread. Things I used to make from scratch were soon replaced by mixes. And when that got to be too much trouble, I just started buying pre-made stuff in the freezer section. It's not as good for me. It's certainly not as fun. But I just don't have the time any more.
But then I got addicted to cooking sites like Foodiddy and baking sites like Joy The Baker, and was assaulted with goodies so amazing-looking that I simply HAD to start baking again. Last night I brought a shit-load of work home with me, but then I happened upon a recipe for Cinnamon-Sugar Pull-Apart Bread from Joy The Baker. It looked too delicious to ignore, so I dropped everything and baked a loaf.
So there I was, eating mind-blowingly delicious Cinnamon-Sugar Pull-Apart Bread while Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was on... all while my pile of work sat there unfinished. And as I thought about how much trouble I was in, I began wondering how many other lives have been ruined by people getting all distracted because of blogs like Foodiddy and Joy The Baker...
If you would like to ruin your life too, you can visit the most excellent cooking blog Foodiddy here. And if that's not enough of a distraction, Joy The Baker can be found here. And you can go here if you want to make that stupidly-awesome Cinnamon-Sugar Pull-Apart Bread.
Posted on Wednesday, April 27th, 2011
Well bummer. Looks like I won't be going to London tomorrow after all.
I don't know whether to be more upset that I cannot attend the Royal Wedding on Friday... or that they used Comic Sans as the font for the names on the invitations...
Oh don't be surprised that I got an invitation! As a Knight of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and a personal friend of Her Royal Majesty The Queen, of course I received an invitation!
If only my dental cleaning appointment hadn't been moved up. I was really looking forward to meeting Kate and Wills. I was especially looking forward to the wedding reception. Her Royal Highness knows how to throw down a buffet, yes she does!
But we all know how important dental hygiene is for our health so, alas, I'll be sending my regrets.
Posted on Thursday, April 28th, 2011
As anybody who follows me on Twitter is aware, I have been futilely searching for falafel here in Redneckistan. No local restaurants seem to make it. When I ask for it at the stores, few people even know what it is ("What's a floppal?") and I worry that I'm going to be put on a terrorist watch-list when I try to explain it ("Middle Eastern? LIKE IRAQ?"). A couple stores carry a falafel mix that's kinda okay, but it doesn't taste very falafely when I make it. I'd make my own falafel from scratch, but the recipe for it is huge and complex and I'm just not that smart in the kitchen. Yet.
So, basically, if you have a falafel craving in the valley here, you're kinda fucked.
Perfect Falafel Sandwich taken from Joy of Kosher.
Alas, as a vegetarian, I'm used to getting fucked (in a culinary sense).
Take Olive Garden, for instance. Every time I turn around, they're advertising some new special dish that could be vegetarian, but they screw it up some how. A couple weeks ago, it was Cheese-Filled Soffatelli. Yummy-looking pastries filled with cheese and herbs and junk. But the only way to get them? Served with your choice of beef or chicken...
Of course I could always order them without the beef or chicken, but you pay the same price. I tried negotiating an extra Soffatelli instead of the beef or chicken, but "it doesn't come that way." Oh well.
And now their latest creation is Four Cheese Pastachettis. Yummy ribbons of pasta filled with cheese and herbs and junk. But the only way to get them? Served with your choice of sausage or chicken...
I dunno. Maybe next week I'll go and try begging to see if I can get and extra Pastachetti substituted for the meat. Then prepare for the waiter to stare at me like I'm from outer space and tell me "it doesn't come that way."
But, you know... I'd kill for some good Indian food.
Of course, you can't get Indian food in Redneckistan either.
Guess I'll just have a salad.
Posted on Friday, April 29th, 2011
I suppose it's a good thing we didn't go to the Royal Wedding...
How embarrassing would it have been when Bad Monkey showed up wearing the same stupid-ass toilet seat hat as Princess Beatrice?
Posted on Saturday, April 30th, 2011
Well this blows.
As I attempted to finish up my Spring cleaning, I threw my back out while moving some boxes...
Now I don't feel much like cleaning anymore. On the contrary, I don't feel like doing much of anything.
And how has your weekend been treating you?
Posted on Sunday, May 1st, 2011
It's a "Holy crap it feels like somebody shot me in the back!" kind of Bullet Sunday this week. Fortunately I have really good drugs to put me out of my misery so I can (hopefully) get some healing sleep tonight. Let's see how many bullets I have in me before I drop off...
• Quandary. As somebody who attempts to live my life according to Buddhist precepts, it is not possible for me to take joy in the death of any living thing. So call me unAmerican if you wish, but all I can think of today is the chain of events which began on September 11, 2001 and the horrific loss of life which continues to this day because of it. One more death on the pile... no matter how much one believes it was deserved... is not going to suddenly make everything better in my head. And I'm not sure how I should feel about that. About the only thing I can feel right now is regret. Not that an asshole terrorist and mass-murderer is dead, but that humanity has failed so badly for us to have gotten to this point.
• Accomplished? I keep running across people on the internet who are amused that today's news falls precisely eight years after a banner above former president George W. Bush's head declared "Mission Accomplished"...
Am I a tin-hat wearing conspiracy nut if I admit that the first thing that came to mind after first reading this was "Wow. That's really convenient!" Because, seriously, if you wanted to (further) embarrass President Bush over the failure to capture Public Enemy #1 on his watch, wouldn't this be the ideal way to do it? Hmmmmmm. Nah, it's most certainly just a coincidence. Especially when you consider Hitler's death was also announced on a May 1st. Irony can be so ironic sometimes.
• Who? Can I just say that Dr. Who under the brilliant mind of Stephen Moffat has evolved to one of the single best shows ever to air on television? I'm not kidding. The two-part season opener was jaw-droppingly amazing in every possible way...
If you have even a passing interest in really good sci-fi, this show is a must-see.
• Magnum! Another import that's well worth checking out? Magnum ice cream bars! It was just over two years ago I mentioned their advertising featuring Eva Longoria when I was in Germany...
And now they have arrived here in the USA! If you happen across the "Almond" variety, which is covered in chocolate with crazy-delicious large chunks of almonds, it is about the best-tasting thing you'll ever eat. Unless you're allergic to nuts. Then it's about the most deadly thing you'll ever eat.
Annnd... my meds are starting to kick in. That's kind of a bummer, because I didn't get to all the bullets I had jotted down. Oh well. Something to blog about tomorrow, I guess.
Posted on Monday, May 2nd, 2011
Well, bugger! I wrote this yesterday through a haze of painkillers while laying in bed on a heating pad... but couldn't post it because my blog returned an error. Here's hoping that I can get it to work this time while I'm a bit more lucid.
Annnnd... since I started falling asleep during Bullet Sunday before all my bullets had been fired, here's Part Deux!
• Mahalo! And so President Obama abused his presidential privilege in order to force Kapi'olani Medical Center in Honolulu to violate their policy and release his long-form birth certificate so that dumbass pig-fucker birthers like Orly Taitz and Donald Trump will (hopefully) shut the fuck up already*. Never mind that President Obama had already released the required documentation... apparently if you're an uppity black man who DARES to become the democratically-elected president of this country, special rules apply to you. Welcome to post-racial America!
My name is Orly Taitz and I endorse this dumbassery!
• The Duh-nold. At first I was angry with President Obama for (once again) caving to pressure instead of taking care of shit. I mean, seriously, when you're giving in to demands by a reality show television host, you've pretty much let your authority fly right out the window. But then I saw his speech at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner, and changed my mind. Releasing the "long-form" birth certificate gave him his best material...
It's watching things like this that make me forget all about the things Obama has done to piss me off and make me like him again. But will it last long enough to keep my vote for the next election? That depends. If my alternatives are Trump, Palin, Santorum, Bachmann, Huckabee, or any number of other potential candidates that make my brain hurt... then I guess it will be. Why in the hell can't the Republicans find a serious candidate? Not one person they've got in the wings... not one... has a chance against Obama unless something crazy happens. I guess I should be grateful since I can't stand any of them. But without a decent challenge for President Obama to rise to, I fear he's just going to slog through a second term on vapors. Winning in a cake-walk is the worst possible thing that could happen. We need to debate issues seriously so we can get serious about them. Right now I feel we are anything but. It's just partisan hackery at its worst, and we're all suffering because of it.
• Run. A good friend is participating in the Malibu Triathlon as a member of "The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training" which raises funds to help in the fight against leukemia and blood cancers. If you'd like to be a good egg and help sponsor this very worthy cause, you can visit her page here. I could go on about how donating even a little money to such a worthwhile endeavor can add a little sunshine to your day and is good karma... but instead I'll just say CLICK IT! CLICK THE LINK AND GIVE YOUR MONEY! DO IT! DO IT!!! Heck, I just donated $20 and now the headache I had all morning is gone! Coincidence? Perhaps. BUT CAN YOU AFFORD TO RISK IT? GAH! CLICK THE GOOD EGG! CLICK IT NOW!!
And that's enough of that. Join me tomorrow when I promise to be (relatively) bullet-free!
*Of course this is sheer fantasy. The birthers won't shut up until a crusty old white man is president of the USA like God intended. And yes, I realize that this makes no sense since God doesn't make mistakes and He allowed Obama to become president in the first place, but hey... you just can't use logic when it comes to pig-fuckers.
Posted on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011
My best friend right now is my heating pad.
And my pain medication.
Between my two new best friends and being very careful, I'm slowly recovering from whatever it was I did to wreck my back this past weekend. Today I was able to sit at my desk for six hours, which is almost double what I managed yesterday. And now I am going to see if I can get through the night on a half-pill instead of a whole one. Hopefully I am mostly recovered before my plane-ride on Thursday, as it would be nice to not be suffering all the way through it.
Though, according to some people, my suffering is not long for this world.
I got an email from an old co-worker telling me that they ran across a motorhome which had "Awesome news! The end of the world is May 21st! The Bible guarantees it!" painted on it. Since he knew I have studied many of the world's religions, my friend asked me if I had any inside information as to whether this was true. If it were true, he joked that he wouldn't bother going to work in the morning. I wrote back and explained that The Bible specifically says in Matthew 24 that nobody but God knows when the end of the world is coming... so anybody following The Bible who says that they've "decoded" some kind of definitive date is gravely mistaken.
But then I got curious, so some Google research led me to a website for the people driving around in that motorhome...
They're claiming Judgement Day is May 21st, which is technically not the end of the world... it's the beginning of the end if you believe what The Bible says.
The website itself is pretty dope and a wild read. They provide their "proof" by doing some whiz-bang calculations about one day for God equalling a thousand years for us, and how seven years after The Great Flood is when the earth is ending. They further back this up by revealing "a sign" that The End of Days is upon us.
And what is this sign? What is this undeniable proof that the end of the world is nigh?
Wait for it...
Yes, once again it's the gays who are to blame! These people have an entire section on their site devoted to it...
Of course, if you've been reading my blog for a while, this is nothing new.
Oddly enough, my interpretation of The Bible is such that "reading signs" and using hokey math to predict Judgement Day is paramount to divination, which is condemned by The Bible is no uncertain terms, but whatever. The Bible is interpreted a million different ways, so who am I to judge? I'm not even a Christian for heaven's sake.
In many ways I feel sorry for people like this. They sell everything they own and drive around the USA in motorhomes warning everybody that the world is ending real soon now because May 21st is Judgement Day.
But what happens to them on May 22nd when it turns out to be just another day because their God had other plans?
Personally, I think the world already ended back in February. How else can you explain THIS...
THERE'S your sign!
Posted on Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
Well... I woke up with my back feeling far worse than it was yesterday. This really blows, because I've got a long drive followed by a long flight tomorrow. Guess I'll be spending my day mostly medicated. Yay.
Of course I still haven't packed a suitcase. Given the excruciating pain throbbing in my lower back, it's probably a better use of my time to lay in bed with a heating pad all night. Which means I'll be packing when I get up in the morning. And doesn't that sound like a bucket-full of laughs and good times.
The problem with laying as still as possible for hours-on-end is that there's not much else to do except think. The even bigger problem is the stupid crap I think about, most of which makes me want to scream my head off.
Things like... how fucking bat-shit-crazy is it that the same people who freaked out and thought armageddon was nigh because two dudes kissed on Glee are all gung-ho to see photos of Osama Bin Laden with his head blown off? I mean, seriously... a sign of love and affection between two people can't be shown on television because its paramount to a complete breakdown of society if they both have a penis... HOWEVER an image of graphic violence and horror is perfectly okay. In fact, let's make popcorn and invite the neighbors over the watch!
And it only gets worse from there.
I long for those magical days of yore when I was too busy to think such horrible nonsense.
The best I can wish for now is that I fall asleep soon.
Hopefully before I start thinking about how dumb-fuck asshole Minnesota House Majority Leader Matt Dean called beloved author Neil Gaiman a "pencil-necked weasel" that he "hated" because he's too damn stupid to bother getting all the facts before resorting to name-calling and accusations of stealing. What a worthless piece of shit. Is it too much to ask that ANY of our elected officials use even a half of their brain before they open their idiot mouths?
Dang. Now I'll never get to sleep...
Posted on Thursday, May 5th, 2011
I always hesitate to tell people when I'm working in Hawaii.
Because nobody ever truly believes that it's actually possible to "work" in Hawaii. Their idea of "working in Hawaii" involves a Mai Tai on the beach or something. I know this, because any time I am forced to tell somebody, they always end the conversation with "Have fun!
Except Bad Robert. When I mention "Hawaii" to Bad Robert, the only thing he has to say is this...
"Dude! Hawaii? I'm never going to Hawaii. It's out in the middle of NOWHERE! Have you ever looked at Hawaii on the map? There's nothing out there, man. Just ocean. Shit could happen and nobody would know. The island could sink or get blown up by a volcano, and ain't nobody coming to rescue you, because there's nobody out there. Good luck, man. I hope you make it."
All drama aside, he's absolutely right. Hawaii is one of the most remote places on earth...
And one of the most beautiful.
Which is why I'm not just flying over for work, then heading right back. I'm staying the weekend and goofing off a bit. Because it would be downright irresponsible to come all this way and not try to have a little fun.
In the meanwhile, there's work. So I suppose I should try to get some sleep so I can function in the morning.
Hope your Cinco de Mayo was a good one!
Posted on Friday, May 6th, 2011
Today was mostly a work day, but I did get some time to goof off in Honolulu and do some of the things that made me not mind dragging my ass across the Pacific to be here. This pretty much boils down to three things...
#1 PUKA DOG!! Originating on Kauai, Puka Dog eventually opened up a shop in Waikiki (UPDATE: Puka Dog is now Hula Dog in Oahu, still Puka Dog in Kauai. UPDATE 2: Hula Dog in Waikiki was CLOSED when they tore down the International Marketplace! SUCKS!! Check Hula Dog's website for their locations). I can say without reservation that this is my favorite meal in all of Oahu. Just like Chicago, which has a hot dog to call their own, Puka Dog is a hot dog done Hawaiian-style, and they are amazing...
Don't let the line scare you... Puka Dog is worth the wait!
They are also very different and uniquely Hawaiian in oh so many ways...
The way you order is kind of "Soup-Naziesque" but they don't treat you too badly if you goof it up. But it's pretty hard to goof up if you follow the steps on their menu board. For example, I order like this: "I'll take a Veggie, Hot, Mango, Lilikoi on White, please!" But, no matter how you order, you're getting an amazing meal that's unlike anything else on earth... in a very good way...
Left is a dog in the hole. Right is down a few bites so you can see all the condiment goodness within!
#2 KISSES!! Everybody loves Hershey's Kisses. Those little foil-wrapped pieces of deliciousness are truly a treat to behold. And then Hershey's took it to The Next Level and introduced Kisses with almonds, caramel, and peanut butter in the middle (among other things). BUT... only here in Hawaii can you get Hershey Kisses with Macadamias in the middle! They are everything you'd dream they'd be. And at $5 a bag, they'd better be...
#3 NEW HARD ROCK!! As anybody who follows this blog already knows, I am incredibly disappointed with the "new-style" Hard Rock Cafe properties. Instead of the old-school method of cramming every available surface with awesome Rock-n-Roll memorabilia, they instead put a few meager pieces in glass cases and scatter them on a few walls. So when they moved Honolulu's Hard Rock from the old location to the new one in Waikiki, I was horrified at the idea of it being a shitty "new-style" cafe. And it is. Kind of. Because while there isn't a tremendous amount of memorabilia, it is more than usual. And they DO have this awesome ribbon of guitars running up the wall and across the ceiling of this beautiful, beautiful restaurant...
Approaching the all-new dual-level Hard Rock Cafe at Waikiki!
Pretty sweet, eh? And, on that note, I am about ready to pass out, so I'm off to a night of (hopefully) sweet slumber.
BUT, BEFORE I FORGET...
I ran across proof positive that President Obama was BORN AMERICAN, BABY! Because if it's in a children's book, it must be true, right?
Posted on Saturday, May 7th, 2011
Honolulu is just a big city like most big cities except it has a really excellent location.
If you're into big cities then you really can't do much better in Hawaii than here, and I recommend it highly as a place to eat, shop, play, and (if you're lucky) work. The problem is that a big city is not really what people want to see when they visit beautiful Hawaii. Myself included. For this reason, I avoid Honolulu like the plague. I'd much, much rather spend my time just about anywhere except here. This usually means I end up on my favorite island, Maui, or taking side-trips to Kauai or The Big Island of Hawaii. I only come to Honolulu when work brings me here or I am changing planes or something.
For a very long time I had been treating the entire island of Oahu as if it were Honolulu.
All that changed one year when a colleague drove me to Oahu's East Shore for dinner and I was shocked to see that after you get outside of Honolulu, it's an entirely different world. Oahu is just as beautiful and amazing as the other islands... it just happens to have a big city on it.
So this trip I decided to not bail on Oahu the minute my work was over. Instead, I decided to stay here a few days and explore a bit.
And what better place to start than iconic Diamond Head?
It was a nice cool overcast day... perfect for hiking up Diamond Head!
These cool thistle-like things were everywhere.
Looking down at Honolulu from the top.
The websites I looked at for Diamond Head had me worried to hike it with my messed-up back, but it was actually a pretty easy hike. I rewarded myself with a bag of fresh-cut pineapple spears when I made it back down to the visitor center...
Yes, it was insanely delicious, just as you'd expect.
Almost as cool as Diamond Head itself is how you get into the crater through a tunnel bored into the side...
It reminds me of the Big-Foot alien's tunnel on The Six Million Dollar Man!
After that, it was time for fresh-n-hot malasadas at World-Famous Leonard's Bakery...
Kind of a Portuguese version of a doughnut... but without a hole.
After stuffing my face with malasadas and getting sugar all over my rental car, I was going to go find a comic book shop for FREE COMIC BOOK DAY, but decided to consult Gowalla to see if there were any cool spots to visit. First on the list? Beautiful Byodo-In Temple...
The rainy weather actually made for a prettier visit with the fog in the mountains.
Then I decided to continue driving around Oahu's North Shore. Here I stopped at a number of different lookouts and beaches, with one of the more interesting being Chinaman's Hat Island...
The island is that blip on the right-hand side there.
A better view of Chinaman's Hat.
Despite being fairly close together, the many beaches each seem to have their own personality...
One of the more famous stops was "Sunset Beach" which was fairly empty now but, during the Winter, is overflowing with surfers. That's when some of the biggest and best waves on earth arrive...
Eventually I got tired of beaches and made my way to world-famous Matsumoto's General Store... one of the best places on the island to get a shave-ice treat...
I got "The Hawaiian" which had a colorful variety of tropical syrups on top.
The shave-ice wasn't enough cold sugar for me, so I stopped off at the Dole Plantation for a Pineapple Whip. If I were hungrier, I would have got for the Pineapple Whip Float, which is drenched with delicious Dole pineapple juice...
Even though it was still fairly early in the afternoon, I was getting tired and decided to head back to my hotel for a nap. But then I saw The Bishop Museum was on the way, so I had to stop and take a look. It's a beautiful, beautiful museum which does a great job of documenting Hawaiian history...
The Bishop Museum is SHARK EXTREME!!!
Once back in my room, I suddenly realized I was hungry. Since I was dead-tired I thought I might just order in room service, but decided I couldn't resist the urge to have yet another Puka Dog! This time I downshifted to "Spicy" garlic-lemon sauce instead of "Hot" because I wanted the Maui Sweet Onion Relish to shine through. This made a good thing even better...
Delicious Puka Relishes on tap!
And now... I'm done. Time to kick back and read a few blogs before bedtime. All-in-all it was a pretty great day. Despite the off-again-on-again rainy weather, Oahu treated me pretty well, and I'm glad I took the time to get to know her a little better. Hopefully tomorrow will be just a fruitful.
Posted on Sunday, May 8th, 2011
Hope all the mothers out there had a great Mother's Day.
Today's bullets will be fired from Part Two of my "Get to Know an Island" series: OAHU EDITION! Since yesterday was spent exploring the North Shore and Central Valley, today I decided to head West and take a look at the Leeward region of the island...
• End of the Road. Rather than having to continuously cross back and forth across Highway 93, I decided to head all the way to the end of the road, then stop at all the spots I wanted to see on the way back. And when I say "end of the road," I mean that literally. The pavement stops and, though a dirt road with craters in it goes on around the point, it's pretty much inaccessible unless you've got a really tough 4-wheel drive rig (which I didn't)...
• How I Roll. And what rig DID I end up with? A KIA Soul. It's not a bad ride, per se, but it does have one horrible flaw that can make it a terrifying thing to drive. MASSIVE FUCKING BLIND SPOTS IN THE BACK CORNERS! So not exaggerating here...
Yes, you've got mirrors, but if you want to confirm that there's nobody sneaking up behind you in your mirror's blind-spot, you can't. I guess those giant hamsters that they use to advertise the Soul on television must drive using The Force or something.
• Kaena Point State Park. Anyway... at the end of the road is Kaena Point State Park, which is actually a very nice place to visit. There's a beautiful aqua-colored tidal pool there...
And a pretty sweet beach...
• Kane'ana Cave. About two miles outside of the park, there's a giant cave you can wander into. When I visited, there was a hot dog stand across the street...
It's not very deep... but it is pretty darn big.
• Beach Culture. I stopped at a few different beaches along the West Coast of Oahu. Many of them were absolutely beautiful. As I understand it, the waves get pretty insane during the winter months, but things were fairly calm today...
• Pearl Harbor Historic Sites. On my way back to Waikiki, I decided to stop at Pearl Harbor to see the new visitor center there. When I was here last time, they were just starting construction, and I decided to make a donation. They ended up putting my money to good use, because the new center is just beautiful...
If you ever make it to Honolulu and have even a passing interest in history, this is a must-see.
• USS Bowfin. As I arrived around 4:00, there was only an hour until closing time. This meant there was no chance of visiting the USS Arizona Memorial... or the Missouri... or the film center. This didn't bother me, because I've already been through them more than a couple times (and with much better weather!). But I didn't want to leave without doing something, so I toured the USS Bowfin Sub Museum and Park. The submarine itself has been beautifully restored, and has a very cool steampunk look about it on the inside...
Annnnd... that was enough for today.
Except a stop at Ala Moana Center so I could visit their awesome food court and get me some falafel. As expected, it was totally delicious and worth the wait.
Posted on Monday, May 9th, 2011
A second day of bullets for double damage!
Today's bullets will be fired from Part Three of my "Get to Know an Island" series: OAHU EDITION! Since yesterday was spent exploring the Leeward side of the island, today I decided to head East and take a look at the Windward region of the island...
• Nu'uanu Pali Lookout. I had just been here two years ago but, since it was along the way, I decided to stop again. This is actually a pretty gruesome place... it's where King Kamehameha the 1st and his army drove a bunch of their enemies off a cliff into this here valley...
It's a lot nicer when the weather is good, but I was still glad I stopped.
• Kailua Beach State Park. And here it is... the best beach I've seen on all of Oahu: Kailua Beach. It's absolutely stunning, and on-par with my favorite Maui beaches. The surf seems fairly mild, which is why a bunch of para-surfers and wind-surfers were out and about...
The sand is powder-fine and beautiful...
The park is in a residential area, which is kind of a nice surprise. The lack of hotels and resorts means that the beach isn't completely overrun like Waikiki. I'm guessing it's pretty crowded on the weekends, but on this Monday morning there wasn't a lot of people there. All I know is that if I wanted some beach-time when visiting Oahu, it would be Kailua and nearby Lanikai Beach all the way.
• Makapuʻu. Across from Oahu's "Sea Life Park" (where you can swim with dolphins and stuff), there's a strip of rocky beach that's a great place to look for crabs, fish, and other critters that call the place home. Typical of Hawaii weather, I was able to look North and see a rain storm moving in...
Then look South and see sunshine...
It was kind of nice to see blue skies, because it's been on-again-off-again raining my entire trip.
• Halona Blowhole. And so now I've finally seen a blowhole. This is a geological formation where a sea cave has an opening above it. When waves flood the cave, water is blown out of the hole. Hence the name...
The volume of water that can shoot up is huge and makes a big impression in person. But in photos it's the smaller plumes that look more interesting.
• Lanai Lookout. I'm guessing the reason that this place is called "Lanai Lookout" is because you can see the island of Lanai from here. This seems odd, as I would expect that Molokai would be in the way... but whatever. I didn't see anything. Except interesting land formations and some pigeons chilling out and watching the waves...
• Hanauma Bay. This is the only place other than Pearl Harbor and Nu'uanu Pali that I've been to in Oahu outside of Honolulu/Waikiki on one of my previous trips. If you like to snorkel, this is an amazing place to do it...
Unfortunately the bay has been ravaged by the masses of tourists who flock here. I'm surprised that the damage hasn't ruined the place completely, but there's still an abundance of marine life to be found. Park rangers are trying their best to educate people about how to minimize their impact, but the thousands of people who show up every day (except Tuesday) do take their toll. I worry that eventually they'll have to close down popular places like this in order to let nature recover a bit, but I suppose that's better than the alternative.
• Diamond Head State Park. This is a very nice park, but parking is crazy. Even on a Monday afternoon. Cars are piled everywhere, so eventually I just waited for somebody to leave and got a spot next to the Amelia Earhart memorial that's there...
A lot of surfing going on...
And here's the lighthouse I was looking down upon from the top of Diamond Head two days ago...
• Puka! Since I had a late 9:00pm flight, there was time for one last dinner in Waikiki. Despite having eaten there three times already, I could think of only one place I wanted to go... PUKA DOG!!
Despite the $7 price tag, it remains my favorite meal on the island. Soooo good and a fitting finale to my trip.
Annnnnd... that's it for my trip to Hawaii. I am really glad I took the time to explore Oahu and see some of the many great things the island has to offer. Unfortunately, one thing it doesn't offer is free wi-fi at Honolulu International Airport, so I'm afraid this entry won't be posted until I get home. Stupid airport.
Posted on Tuesday, May 10th, 2011
I flew out of Honolulu last night at 9:30pm and arrived back in The States at 6:30am this morning. I think I got a short nap in there somewhere, but most of my time was spent watching iTunes episodes of my favorite new television show... Happy Endings... even though I've already seen all of them a dozen times. The show is so good that I just can't help myself.
The lack of sleep wouldn't have been a big deal if I didn't have a three-hour drive home followed by a five hours of work. Alas, I did have a three-hour drive home followed by five hours of work, which meant I spent most of my day being mostly-dead.
And, now that I am home and fully-dead, it's time to put the blog away and go to bed.
Posted on Wednesday, May 11th, 2011
A fucking piece of shit named Meredith Attwell Baker took a job with our government as an FCC Commissioner. In this position, she was trusted to make decisions that were in the best interest of the American citizens she represented.
One of the decisions she made was to not impose any restrictions while approving the massive merger of Comcast and NBC. This was a somewhat shocking stance to take considering that the resulting mega-corp would have unprecedented control over what information people have access to on the internet and television. Critics said that this merger would have no benefit for consumers, and would likely result in nothing but bad things. But Attwell Baker shoved it through anyway.
And after the Comcast/NBC merger went through, what did this fine public servant do?
She quit her position at the FCC to take a job as a political lobbyist for Comcast/NBC! And why not? Mission accomplished! There's no reason to pretend she gives a flying fuck about us anymore, she's off to cash in on services rendered!
This grotesque mockery of government service has me once again wondering why American citizens aren't rioting in the streets.
I don't care which side of the political spectrum you're on, what Meredith Attwell Baker did was fucking disgraceful and disgusting. This is such a thorough betrayal of public trust that she should be thrown in prison. But that's not going to happen. This is what America has become. And American citizens have become so accustomed to this bullshit that they're just numb to it all. So things just keep getting worse and worse. Our government is bought and sold every day, and we all pay the price for it.
Yet nobody seems to care.
So fuck it.
I'm going to get a government job approving dumping sites for nuclear waste... in the public water supply.
Then I'm going to quit and get a high-paying lobbyist job with Exelon, the largest nuclear power producer in the USA. Because, hey, they'll owe me one.
What a fucking joke.
Anarchy... it's only a matter of time.
Posted on Thursday, May 12th, 2011
I was going to write a rant over how much I hate hypocritical bullshit, but I don't have the energy.
Most of my energy tonight was spent being delirious with relief that David E. Kelley's totally stupid "re-imagining" of Wonder Woman wasn't picked up by NBC. Yes, I am positively thrilled that the project was killed off. If you're not going to make an actual show about Wonder Woman, then don't make any Wonder Woman show at all. That would just set the character up for massive failure, dooming any chance of the "real" Wonder Woman ever ending up on TV or in a movie.
As I've said a billion times now, translating comic books to other media only works when you're faithful to the source material. Deviate from what makes the character iconic and beloved in the first place, and you're just fucking everything up...
Maybe one day they'll stop dicking around and get serious about fulfilling my childhood Lynda Carter Wonder Woman fantasies with something new, but I'm not holding my breath.
I don't have the energy to hold my breath, and should probably just go to bed.
Posted on Friday, May 13th, 2011
For some reason I am a bit jetlagged after my short trip to Hawaii. On the surface, this seems ridiculous. It's a measly three hour time difference, which is nothing compared to a lot of my travels. My guess is that my crazy work hours are messing with my sleep schedule, and Hawaii just exaggerated everything.
If there's an upside, it's that I'm actually sleeping more than my usual 3-4 hours.
Unfortunately, this additional sleep is happening at 5:00pm.
Which means I am wide awake from 10:00pm and don't get tired again until 7:00am when it's time to get ready for work. This morning I was so tired that I forgot to zip my pants up as I headed out the door. They fell down just as I was opening my car door, leaving me pantsed in the parking lot...
Luckily I also forgot it was Commando Friday, or else I could have been arrested for indecent exposure.
All the television shows I watch have had their fate announced. Since I am a total television whore, this is important stuff. Since most people are not total television whores and couldn't care less, I've put my thoughts about it all in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Saturday, May 14th, 2011
It's at times like this when I have absolutely nothing to write about that I regret having a blog. Guess it must be time for a meme...
There! Are you happy now, internets?
Posted on Sunday, May 15th, 2011
It's a rainy kind of lazy Bullet Sunday and I'd really rather be in bed. Let's do this shit!
• Foodie. I'm not much of a "shopper" and really don't enjoy going to the store... but the crazy-ass prices of food now-a-days makes me downright depressed to go grocery shopping. Just pulling into the parking lot of a market is enough to make me lose my will to live. Mostly because I know even a small bag of groceries is going to run me $50 or more. I never used to worry about stuff being "on-sale" or bothered to clip coupons or anything... I just bought what I wanted to eat. But now? I only buy something when it's on-sale. This means I am eating not what I like to eat, but what I can afford to eat. I can't even fathom how people with families manage to feed everybody. What even worse is that good food... like fresh fruits and vegetables... are beyond expensive. Far easier to eat crappy foods or blow through the McDonald's drive-through than even think about trying to eat healthy. This is a scary, scary state of affairs, and I worry that things are only going to get worse. Soylent Green may not be too far off.
• PATATJES MET! While having a conversation with a Twitter-friend, it was mentioned that when they did an image search for "Patatjes Met" a photo of me came up as #4. When I went to check for myself, I saw that a LOT of the images were mine! Apparently, I am obsessed with Patatjes Met. Who'da thunk it?
• Border. I was saddened to learn that most all of the Hard Rock Cafe properties in Mexico were "de-authorized" last week. I can only guess that their franchise payments weren't made to Hard Rock International, and so now they're no longer "official" Hard Rock properties. This kind of sucks, because now I won't have the opportunity to visit them. To make matters worse, two properties I also haven't been to in Ocho Rios (Jamaica) and San Juan (Puerto Rico) were closed outright. I hate it when that happens! I suppose that I should be grateful since I now have fewer destinations to check off on my Hard Rock list... but all I can think of is the missed opportunities.
• Maru. With all the sad and crappy stuff going on, it's always nice to have something good to hang on to. For me, that would be Maru the Cat! Maru loves to climb into boxes and bags and is always entertaining...
The site is in Japanese with some English, but you don't need to know Japanese to enjoy the fantastic photos and movies! The next time you're feeling a little depressed, click on over to I am Maru. It always puts a smile on my face... and hopefully yours too.
And if you've got some time to kill, you could easily spend a whole day watching Maru's YouTube Channel...
• Passing. IT'S A SIMPLE FUCKING CONCEPT... DRIVE RIGHT, PASS LEFT! And yet, despite bunches of signs saying "Keep Right Except to Pass," people still clog up the passing lane with their stupid asses. Finally... AT LONG LAST... Washington State troopers are starting to pull these idiots over for violating the law. I have little hope that this is going to do any good... people out on the highways usually have their heads up their asses anyway... but it's comforting to know that law enforcement is starting to take this shit seriously. I still think it should be legal to pop a cap in somebody's ass if you end up passing their slow asses on the right-hand side...
Or follow them home and explain their error to them...
This has been a major pet peeve of mine for decades. I don't suppose it's too much to hope that the idiots on our roads will finally start to pay attention? Nah. Probably not.
And thus ends another Bullet Sunday... time to go be lazy, at last.
Posted on Monday, May 16th, 2011
I've been fact-checked!
First thing this morning I got an email from Bad Robert calling "bullshit" on the meme I filled out on Saturday. Question #55 was "WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING CD ON THE SHELF?" I answered with this: "I don't have CDs anymore, they've all been ripped into iTunes. I'm not really embarrassed by any of it."
Bad Robert had this to say...
"Dude! You still listen to the Millionaires! You're not even a little embarrassed by that?"
To which I could only answer "Oh gawd... you're right!"
The Millionaires is a girl-band duo (formerly a trio) that sings mostly about drinking, doing drugs, and having sex with every guy they meet. So... basically they're drunken sluts who kinda sing. And it IS embarrassing that I would be into listening to that crap, but I just can't help myself. I mean, it's pretty much just catchy beats with filthy lyrics, but it's fun. One of their least offensive videos (which is still a little offensive) is Stay The Night...
Yes. Yes, I know.
But if you want to know what the Millionaires are really about, you need to listen to Party Like a Millionaire, which is probably offensive and most definitely not safe for work...
Their parents must be so proud.
And yes, I am embarrassed to have Millionaires in my music collection. So thanks, Bad Robert! Oh well. If you want to experience the full horror, here's their MySpace.
You. Are. Welcome.
Today I had to run to the craft shop to buy some posterboard. Well, they call it posterboard, but it's really just big wimpy sheets of paper now-a-days. It stopped being "board" years ago.
As I was pulling into a parking space, I had to slam on the brakes. A woman in a giant pick-up truck was driving through her parking space to exit through the one I was entering. She waited a second, then honked her horn so I would move. But I just sat there. She can back out of her parking space just like everybody else has to.
This did not make her happy.
She started slamming her fists on her steering wheel and laying on the horn.
I just sat there. Fuck her.
She finally realized I wasn't going to move, so she started screaming at me with crap I couldn't hear because my stereo was on. After a minute went by she finally backed up, then went screeching out of the parking lot.
I guess she was in a hurry to go off and party like a Millionaire.
But seriously. What IS it with people?
All I wanted to do was park in an empty parking spot... none of this situation was my fault, and yet there she was acting like an asshole and blaming me for it. Well kiss my ass, I'm sick of this shit. Be a bitch on your own time and leave me out of it.
But the world is ending in five days, so there's that.
Posted on Tuesday, May 17th, 2011
Posted on Wednesday, May 18th, 2011
Letting go of the past hasn't really been a problem for me because I am not a very sentimental person. Stuff happens (for better or worse), I learn what I can from those events, then try my best to move on. This is not to say that I discard my past completely. Far from it. I just don't dwell on things so long that they take over. Life is too short, and there's so much more out there to learn and experience without the past holding me back.
As a side-benefit, things like "recovering from heartbreak" and "moving past mistakes" a bit easier.
And yet... there's always something there to remind me...
This was made perfectly clear over the past few weeks while I've been cleaning out a storage unit I've been renting for the past 18 years... and haven't opened in 16 years.
A lot of stuff I had thought was dead and buried has suddenly come back to haunt me, figuratively speaking.
Which means I was sentimental at one time to have kept all this crap... but ended up losing my sentimentality sometime in the mid-90's.
95% of my stuff in storage is going straight to the dumpster.
Where it probably belongs.
Posted on Thursday, May 19th, 2011
I'm too exhausted to get excited about the season finales of the TV shows I watch. I fell asleep ten minutes into Big Bang Theory tonight. I woke in time for Grey's Anatomy, but was nodding off at the end. Day after day of nothing but work is finally catching up to me.
Either that, or this season's finales just aren't very exciting.
Anyway... the new 2011-2012 television schedule has finally been announced. This means I can make the chart I'll use to program my DVR this Fall. If you don't give a crap about television, then you'll probably want to skip the extended entry. Otherwise...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Friday, May 20th, 2011
THE END IS NIGH?
The Rapture isn't one of those things I believe in, per se. I mean, I believe that it's something that many people believe in, but that's as far as it goes. Which means that I'm going to be one of the people left behind if it ends up being the real deal, I guess.
And it all happens tomorrow, if you believe the wacky secret Bible code that Harold Camping claims to have uncovered. There are different interpretations of what actually happens in The Rapture, but I'd like to believe it involves Blondie, a big party, and plenty of champagne...
Though none of those things appear in Scripture when it comes to what is supposed to happen.
THAT is something entirely different. Though just how different is difficult to interpret, even for people like me who spent years studying The Bible. The most common belief is that millions of Christ's followers will disappear from the face of the earth, then a timeline starts which has oceans turning to blood, mountains burning, the Antichrist popping up, the ultimate return of Jesus to rule for 1000 years, followed by the eventual end of everything we know... replaced by a new heaven and a new earth.
Presumably an earth that's nowhere near as messed-up as the one we have now.
Of course there are other Christian scholars who have an entirely different opinion as to what happens. Some believe that nobody literally disappears during The Rapture. Others believe that The Rapture is just a teaching tool, and not an actual event that happens in real life. Still others believe that The Rapture has already happened. Harold Camping believes that after The Rapture happens tomorrow, the earth will be destroyed five months later on October 21st. He doesn't specify a time zone (that I know of) so I have no idea when we're supposed to start drinking...
In the end, nobody has a definitive answer, just something they believe is correct.
Personally, my studies lead me to believe that The Rapture can't take place until after Oprah airs her final show on the 25th. After that, it's anybody's guess.
Anybody except Harold Camping. This will be the second time he screwed-up when picking a date (September of 1994 was the first)... so he can just go fuck off and die now. NO RAPTURE FOR YOU!
Posted on Saturday, May 21st, 2011
Sometimes my many years of theological studies can be more a burden than a blessing. I'll see some person proclaiming to be of a certain faith in one breath... then turn around and say or do something that violates that faith in the next. And though they don't realize their hypocrisy, I do.
And it burns.
I see this crap and my brain feels like its on fire.
As I mentioned in a previous entry, The Bible is quite clear that nobody but God knows when the end of the world is coming. Furthermore, it is my interpretation that by claiming to know for dead-certain a Rapture date, Harold Camping was declaring himself a prophet. Because if he claims to know a date that God's Word specifically states only God knows, then he is claiming to have divine knowledge... thus making him a prophet.
And now that his prophesying is obviously not true, not correct, and not divinely given by God... well, I'm afraid the future doesn't look very happy for Harold Camping...
"But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.
Deuteronomy 18:20 (New International Version)
Since God Himself has set the punishment for being a false prophet to death, Harold Camping's followers will have to kill him now won't they? At least I guess that's how it goes. I don't really know how they will reconcile that with the whole "Thou Shalt Not Kill" thing. As with everything in The Bible, that's open to interpretation.
Or I suppose I should say selective interpretation.
Because how many times have we seen people use a fragment of their holy text to justify their actions... all while violating another fragment mere passages away? They pick-and-choose what they want to believe and act upon while ignoring others because they don't really want to live according to their doctrine. They just want to live however they want to live and use pieces of doctrine to justify it.
Which is the very height of hypocrisy.
And it burns.
But suffering for other people's faith is an unavoidable consequence of humanity. And it doesn't take a prophet to see that this isn't going to change any time soon.
Posted on Sunday, May 22nd, 2011
ZOMG! IT'S BULLET SUNDAY!
• Stars. I swear, if there is a single thing in this world you can count on outside of death and taxes, it's that any time Justin Timberlake hosts Saturday Night Live you're in for one hell of a show. The May 21st season finale was no exception. Not surprisingly, I haven't laughed this much at an SNL episode since the last time he hosted. What was surprising is that musical guest Lady Gaga made a couple very funny appearances throughout the show. I may not be the biggest fan of her music, but she killed it last night in the sketches. As if that weren't enough, we got another The Barry Gibb Talk Show installment too...
Your eyes do not deceive you... that's Susan Sarandon and Patricia Clarkson
making cameos on the funniest SNL Digital Short since Dick in a Box!
Can I just say that I long for the day that the real Barry and Robin Gibb make an appearance on The Barry Gibb Talk Show? I think the universe would probably explode from so much awesomeness.
• Dogs. As I was spending my entire paycheck on a bag of groceries last week, I noticed that MorningStar Farms Veggie Corn Dogs were back. I used to love them, but they were recalled and discontinued a couple years back because of of a heinous contamination at the manufacturing facility. Apparently that's (hopefully) been all sorted out, because I've discovered a new magical formula...
Is there anything that Grey Poupon Mild & Creamy Mustard doesn't taste good on?
• Bears. One of the single coolest people on earth would have to be Bear Grylls. The guy has racked up so many amazing feats that he makes ordinary men look like hamsters by comparison. It all started when he was the youngest person to climb Mount Everest at age 23. Since then he's continued to make awesome expeditions, and even went on to become a best-selling author and (somewhat controversial) television star...
And yet, this morning as I was watching television, I heard something which puts all of Bear Gryll's astounding adventures to shame. His ultimate feat of coolness has to be naming his three kids Jesse, Marmaduke and Huckleberry...
"Holy shit, dude! My name is MARMADUKE!" (Photo by Rob Loud - Getty Images)
I don't know how to feel about Jesse. On one hand, he side-stepped a landmine by not being saddled with a name like Marmaduke or Huckleberry. On the other hand, he doesn't have a kick-ass moniker that guarantees him a reality TV show. Oh well. Goes to show that just when you think Bear Grylls can't possibly be cooler than he already is, something comes along to prove you wrong.
• Trains. Dear iOS developers... I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR GAMES, SO STOP MAKING AWESOME NEW APPS I WANT TO PLAY! Especially all these terrific new board game apps for iPad. As a board game addict, it is really cool to see great games like Neuroshima Hex and Carcassonne being released, but now Days of Wonder has gone and dropped the awesome Ticket to Ride game for a mere $6.99 (my board game version cost $25!)... and it is stellar. It's better than stellar. It actually improves on the original by making it easier and more straightforward to play. But they didn't stop there, they made it Game Center aware, so you can play against other people anywhere in the world...
The object of the game is to build railroads. You do this by drawing Destination Tickets which give you two cities to connect. You then play colored Train Cards to build your routes, with longer routes being worth bigger points. It's easy to learn, but the strategy is where the fun is. Do you complete your own route, or block your opponent from completing theirs? Do you risk drawing another Destination Card to increase your score, or do you play it safe because you're running low on train cars? The variations on play are endless but, just in case you get bored, you can add expansion sets with an in-game purchase.
This is the future of board games right here. You can play against your friends no matter where you are, or connect with other players online when you don't have somebody to play with! Granted, it can be tricky to get a Game Center game started up, but other than that it's a flawless app. About the only thing I miss is the socializing that happens when playing a "real" game in person (talking smack over chat isn't the same!), but that's a minor detail when you consider how hard it is to get people together to play in "Real Life." For iPad users, Ticket to Ride gets my highest possible recommendation!
• Trolls. This past week my blog was linked to by some kind of newsletter from a wacky organization seeking to "protect marriage." Since the post they linked to has me supporting marriage equality and calling equality opponents "weak," I suppose it was only a matter of time. I got around a dozen comments, all of which were deleted because they were nasty or didn't contribute to the conversation in any meaningful way. Apparently, their only argument against marriage equality was to bad-mouth me, which is not commenting. It's just name-calling. Somehow I am not surprised that this is all they have left, considering a recent Gallup poll now has the majority of Americans supporting gay marriage for the first time...
This has me envisioning a future where Americans look back at this point in time and think "What the fuck was that all about?" Which will be nice, because I can't for the life of me understand what the big deal is over a person's sexuality not restricting their rights. If somebody writes left-handed, you don't see right-handed people demanding lefties can't get married... so who gives a fuck about two consenting gay adults getting married?
A lot of very insecure people who are worried that they are going to be tempting into getting gay-married, apparently. Which brings me to something of sheer awesomeness tweeted to me by @Galaxyfighter (Not Safe for Work)...
And on that note, I suppose I should be getting back to work.
Posted on Monday, May 23rd, 2011
Tomorrow I leave for Chicago. And, despite having work piled so high that even light cannot escape its gravitational pull, I just spent the last 90 minutes playing Ticket to Ride. That game is SO addicting. Like crack cocaine. Or so I've heard. If I didn't already have an iPad, I'd probably end up buying one just to play this game.
I finally had to pull myself away from playing with trains so I could write in this blog.
Thanks a lot, blog.
In the interest of full-disclosure, however, I should tell you that I am not really concentrating on whatever it is I'm writing here. Most of my brain is still playing Ticket to Ride.
For example, when I typed the words "Tomorrow I leave for Chicago," I immediately started thinking of what route I would take to get to Chicago if I were playing the game. In case you're curious, it would probably look something like this...
Then I find myself compelled to count how many cities I haven't been to (Six: Winnepeg, Sault Ste. Marie, Duluth, Omaha, El Paso, and Helena). And note which are the most connected cities (Helena, Denver, and Pittsburgh). And worst connected (Vancouver, Las Vegas, and Boston). And calculate which route would be the most disastrous if your opponent blocked you (Seattle to Portland, which goes from one train car to fifteen).
Etc. Etc. Etc.
Like I said, my brain won't stop playing.
Maybe it will stop if I play just one more game?
Posted on Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
As I was driving over the mountains to the airport, I got a call from Bad Robert asking if I was going to be around this weekend since he was planning on coming into town. "Nope, sorry, I'm off to Chicago today," I said. "Chicago?" Robert replied. "I hope you're not staying in any hotels while you're there!" Not able to figure out where he was going with this, I decided to just ask him. "Of course I'm staying at a hotel! Why shouldn't I stay in a hotel?" After an uncomfortably long pause, he said "Oh... nothin'... I just saw on the news where hotels are having all kinds of bed bug infestation problems."
Any guesses as to what I've been thinking about as I type this from my hotel bed?
That's all I need... yet another excuse to not sleep.
I swear, I can FEEL the little bastards crawling all over me.
Posted on Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
My day in pictures...
Yes. They are real. They are delicious.
"Hey Ferb, I know what we're gonna do today!"
So shark extreme I just can't stand it.
Of all the times to be a vegetarian...
Just don't put it in the microwave.
BODDINGTONS!!! (oblique Friends reference).
Not my photo. Not my inappropriate dessert.
Posted on Thursday, May 26th, 2011
There's something profoundly sad about being in an amazing city like Chicago and having to be stuck indoors working all day long. Even though the weather outside was pretty crappy.
Though I did manage to escape for an hour so that I could have falafel for lunch at a place that Farnsworth recommended last night called BenjYehuda (which, as Mr. Shiny points out, is undoubtedly named after the famous Ben Yudea Street in Jerusalem). It was fantastic falafel to be sure... BUT, it was the greasy bag of super-crispy fries that made this a lunch to be reckoned with...
As I mentioned, the weather during my lunch hour was pretty crappy. Cold, windy, misty, and a little rainy all at the same time. This made for a miserable walk to the falafel shop from the L-stop, and an interesting conversation as I waited for the crosswalk signal to change...
STRANGER: Geez, man, where's your coat?
ME: Eh, I don't need a coat when I'm walking.
STRANGER: Well, you're stopped now! Are you crazy?
ME: Maybe. But what about that guy across the street? He's in a short-sleeve shirt.
STRANGER: Yeah, but he looks cold like he's supposed to. You don't. That's crazy.
No more crazy than any other pedestrian in Chicago, I'd argue.
Mostly because you have to be crazy to be a pedestrian in Chicago in the first place.
Yesterday on our way back from the candy show, the shuttle bus had to make a detour because a woman was laying in the middle of the street. Presumably because she had been hit by a car. I was not the least bit surprised after I was nearly killed while crossing the street five years ago... the drivers here can get pretty dangerous. I didn't see anything about it in the morning paper, so hopefully the woman was okay.
After work it was time for dinner at my favorite pizzaria in Chicago, PIZANO'S! They have a thin-and-crispy buttercrust pizza to die for. As usual, I ate too much, and am now a little bit miserable. Which is no fun when I've got another 4-5 hours of work to do.
Especially when I'd rather be going to the opening night premiere of The Hangover 2. Sure it looks like it's going to be more of the same, but The Hangover was one of my favorite comedies in a long time, so I'm okay with that.
Alas, back to work I go...
Posted on Friday, May 27th, 2011
When you walk through downtown Chicago, there's yellow banners on the streetlights saying "GODO GOOD" along with giant banners on buildings... and I even saw a metal "GODO GOOD" sculpture in a sidewalk planter. It's all part of an urban art installation that's a collaboration between artist Kay Rosen, the Chicago Loop Alliance, and the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago...
What's a "Gohdoh?" OH... that's supposed to be GO DO!
An unfortunate font choice... all I see is GOOO GOOO!
As an art installation, I think it's kind of boring and obvious, but I do like the overall message behind it, which is encouraging Chicagoans to do 100,000 good deeds by summer (which you can read about at their website).
The only problem is that I'm a cynical bastard at heart. So every time I see all those banners, there's just one thought that goes through my head. How awesome would it be to hijack the installation to at least try to make things a little more interesting...
This would at least make people feel good.
Meh. I just think this sounds funny.
It's what he does.
Our country's only hope, really.
It's 2:30am and my brain is mooshy... if you can think of a better hijack with your fresh brain, feel free to leave it in the comments...
Posted on Saturday, May 28th, 2011
I had plenty of work to get done today, but what fun is that? Especially when there are awesome people in Chicago who are willing to hang out with me on a Saturday.
So I finished up what work I could, then headed out to meet with @kapgar for big fun in the city. We started out by going to the Chicago Art Institute, home of an incredible variety of priceless works of art...
After bumming around the galleries for a couple hours, we headed our for lunch with @ChicagoLeah. The weather was a bit foggy, but at least it wasn't raining...
Lunch was, of course, at America's Dog... home of the delicious Chicago-Style Veggie Dog...
From there it was off to the LEGO Store to see what's new. As it turns out, there's all kinds of new stuff, including the awesome ALIEN CONQUEST series. The sets are all about capturing humans and doing all kinds of horrible stuff to them. Like eating their brains...
From there it was time to meet up with @HotCoffeeGirl, a long-time blogging friend I've never met in person... until today... so that was a lot of fun.
And now it's back to work for a little while as I kill time before going out to see a movie.
Not a bad day to be me, that's for sure.
Posted on Sunday, May 29th, 2011
It's Bullet Sunday from The Windy City!
• Forecasting. And when I say "windy" I actually mean "stormy with torrential rains." This afternoon there was thunder, lightning, black clouds, and a literal flood pouring from the sky. What's so odd is that the forecast for tomorrow is "mostly sunny" which is almost impossible to believe. But, then again, looking at the extended forecast, impossible weather seems to be a continuing event here over the next week...
Make up your mind, Chicago!
• Thor. Back in the 1980's I was mostly reading DC Comics, with only occasional dalliances with Marvel Comics' stable of characters. All that changed when I got hooked on Walter Simon's absolutely brilliant work on Mighty Thor. His critically acclaimed run on the book was the stuff of legends, and I instantly became a massive fan of the epic stories he was telling there. Eventually Simonson left the book and my interest in the series waned, but I never lost my love of Thor as a character...
Fast-forward to earlier this month, and Marvel has released a massive tome which collects Walter Simon's work and called it the Thor Omnibus. It runs 1200 pages and is almost too big to hold comfortably (it should have been a 2-volume set!). The interior is absolutely stellar, having been completely recolored. They also added 50 pages of bonus material including drawings from Simonson's sketchbook...
If you are a Thor fan, this is essential. If you are not a Thor fan, this book will make you one. Highest possible recommendation.
• Thorified. Which brings us to the brand new Kenneth Branagh-helmed film Thor, a faithful and wholly amazing adaptation of the comic book series. It is a massive, brilliant, totally EPIC film that I simply didn't want to end. Everything from the acting to the special effects to the design to the story was near-flawless...
If I have one complaint, it's that the story seems oddly rushed. What should have taken months to unfold seems to happen in mere days, providing an unrealistic edge to the character development. I don't care who you are, you don't completely change your entire outlook on life in two days, and yet that's exactly what we're given.
Anyway... the movie tells the story of an ancient race of Norse gods who live in Asgard, one of the "Nine Realms" of our universe. One of these gods is Thor, a vain and arrogant warrior who is due to succeed his father Odin as king. But all this changes when Thor makes a big mistake and ends up being banished from Asgard to "Midgard" which we know as earth. Love, loss, and adventure ensue.
I gotta hand it to Marvel Comics here. First Iron Man came along and blew me away. Now Thor. Next up is Captain America, which looks even more amazing. And then there's X-Men: First Class which looks like it's going to kick all kinds of ass and finally make up for the totally shitty X-Men films that came before. All this will culminate with The Avengers in 2012 which has the potential to redefine the word "epic"... especially with Joss Whedon behind it. All in all, this is a great time to be a comic book fan.
• Bridesmaids. Even with all the critical acclaim and internet love, I was still wary of going to see Bridesmaids. Too many times the things other people think of as being "funny" I just think of as being "stupid" and a big waste of time. And then along comes Kristen Wiig's answer to The Hangover. And it's actually funny. And more than a little touching. But mostly entertaining...
Wiig plays Annie whose best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) is getting married and wants her to be her maid of honor. Hilarity ensues. And while there are moments where it felt like an SNL skit that goes on way too long had been shoehorned into the plot, overall I really enjoyed the story. Probably because it went for "funny-smart" instead of "funny-stupid." Add to that a really good cast, and you've got a movie actually worth your valuable time.
Assuming you're an adult who can appreciate an R-rated movie with occasional lapses into gross-out humor.
• Pasta. I seem to be going through a ravioli renaissance. I stopped eating the stuff (despite it being one of the things on an Italian menu I could eat) because it always ended up being gummy and squidgy. The last Wednesday I had some of the best cheese ravioli in my life at Piccolo Sogno... followed by an amazing dish of butternut squash ravioli tonight at Prasino. Apparently the greater Chicagoland area knows how to make the stuff. Which is little help as I head back home where nobody seem to know how to make it very well at all.
And speaking of home... I suppose it's time to finish up my work, pack my bags, check in for my flight, and post this blog entry so I can fly out tomorrow. Hopefully in better weather than today.
Posted on Monday, May 30th, 2011
As I cruised through my blog archives looking at what I've written on past Memorial Days, one thing leaps out at me right away... I spent the past two Memorial Days being really pissed off...
MEMORIAL DAY 2010: I wrote about ignorant assholes politicizing our fallen heroes to attack President Obama with blatant lies. Rereading my rant, I think I probably went overboard just a bit.
MEMORIAL DAY 2009: I wrote a scathing rant against dumbfuck Baltimore Sun contributor Paul Marx for his disgusting take on POW-MIA activists (such as myself). Looking back, I think I probably wasn't harsh enough. My blood still boils over a newspaper publishing such horrendously ignorant trash on Memorial Day.
This Memorial Day, I'm not pissed off at all, which is a nice change of pace.
Instead I'm grateful. Incredibly grateful for those who sacrificed their lives for the freedoms we have. Grateful for those who once put their country above themselves by serving in our armed forces. Grateful to those who are even now risking their lives and serving to protect so many precious things we seem to take for granted.
And though this momentary lack of rage will most certainly wear off... my gratitude will never waiver.
Posted on Tuesday, May 31st, 2011
The flight from Chicago last night was relatively uneventful. My connecting flight out of Minneapolis had some kind of seat-map fiasco that caused a bunch of drama, but I was oblivious to it all because I was focused on playing Ticket to Ride and listening to Foster the People's new album, Torches.
The drive home over the mountains this morning, however, was a drama-fest of epic proportions. There was driving rain, road construction, car accidents, traffic jams, and never-ending dumbassery that lasted three hours and fifteen minutes. A full hour longer than usual.
Now that it's all over, I just want to sleep.
And ride a unicorn.
Posted on Wednesday, June 1st, 2011
When the person accusing someone of inappropriate behavior has a history of being wrong (and is a total douchebag), why do people continue to listen to them?
Perhaps because the evening news has to compete with Jersey Shore, so propagating lies, fabrications, exaggerations, and bullshit is considered "journalism" now-a-days. I honestly don't know.
What I do know is that Bad Monkey's favorite feature of the iPhone 4 is its front-facing camera. This makes it easier than ever to get your junk perfectly centered within the frame...
Adding a 3-D camera to mobile phones seems like a natural.
I fear the future.
Posted on Thursday, June 2nd, 2011
Sometimes when the sheer vastness of my greatness overwhelms me, I like to stop for a minute and get grounded. I look past all the amazing things that make me "me" and take notice of those little things that make me feel less "me."
Which would be a humbling and amazing experience if I could actually think of anything like that. But I can't, because I am overflowing with awesomeness right now. Not much can bring you down when you're high on being me.
Which is not to say that people haven't been trying...
Maybe tomorrow the assholes, dumbfucks, trolls, losers, morons, and haters will take me down a notch...
...but not today.
Posted on Friday, June 3rd, 2011
"Well, technically she was correct..."
"Technically, you're an idiot."
If there's one universal truth you can count on, it's that anything... no matter how outrageously stupid... can be spun. Anything.
Posted on Saturday, June 4th, 2011
It's a Saturday night...
Posted on Sunday, June 5th, 2011
It's a Bullet Sunday alright...
• Stevenote Tomorrow is the kickoff of Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference. But it's not just developers who get excited, because this is when Apple customarily unveils new and cool stuff. And since nobody know what new and cool stuff there might be, Apple Whores such as myself tend to get a little bit excited. Will there be a new iPhone? What's this "iCloud" all about? Will the latest Mac OS (codename "Lion") be released? Will we finally get iToast?
Only Steve Jobs knows for sure. The rest of us have to wait until tomorrow. I'm counting on it being fabulous.
• Nutritional Redux. It would seen that the US government is going to take yet another stab at promoting healthy eating. Since their previous "pyramid" attempts were stupid as shit, I had high hopes that they'd get it right this time...
And while I'd argue they didn't "get it right this time," I can say it's an improvement...
The previous schemes wanted you to eat tons of breads and grains. The new scheme wants for at least 50% of your diet to be fruits and vegetables. That's very smart. What's less smart is saying that fruits and vegetables are exclusive of protein content, which appears to be discouraging a vegetarian diet. The dairy being on an optional saucer is nice... but I dunno. a part of me is wondering how much of this "new and improved" meal plan is geared towards supporting American farmers over promoting good nutrition. Of course, it's fairly obvious that a growing number of people are ignoring nutritional advice of any kind, so I guess this is all kind of a moot point. In any event, speaking design-wise, it sure looks better... and is a lot easier to understand. I guess that's something.
• Scarry! One of my favorite series of books when I was a kid came from Richard Scarry. In celebration of what would have been his 92nd birthday, Google was nice enough to use his "Busytown" characters for their search page today...
Very cool! What would have been even more awesome would have been if you could zoom in and search for "Goldbug"... which was kind of a "Where's Waldo" search that Scarry worked into his storybooks.
• Who? I had exactly two guesses as to who the mysterious "River Song" might end up being on Dr. Who... one of my theories was right...
A part of me is very unhappy about that, because it would have been a lot more fun if they had come up with something totally out of left-field that I wasn't expecting. Oh well, the show is great fun, as usual.
Annnnd... that brings this episode of Bullet Sunday to a close. Now I get to spend the next several hours preparing for one of my busiest work-weeks of the year. Yay.
Posted on Monday, June 6th, 2011
Well smack my ass and call me Sally... it's Bullet MONDAY?!? Given all the crazy crap that's gone on since yesterday, I guess it's going to have to be!
• STEEEEEEVE! I don't know what it is about a Steve Jobs keynote event that brings out my maternal instincts, but every time I see one I end up thinking about how much I'd like to have Steve Jobs' baby. Today's spiffy keynote from Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference was no exception. So much cool stuff in the pipeline for all my Apple Whore toys... including Mac OS X Lion... iOS 5... and the all-new iCloud service...
I could spend the next half-hour writing about the many new features which had me soiling myself with happiness, but that's a full-load in my pants that nobody wants to hear about. Might be better if everybody just watched the Stevenote for themselves and decide which features are worth freaking over.
• WEEEEEEINER! And so Representative Anthony Weiner now admits he's a freaky-ass pervert who likes to send shirtless photos and pictures of his schlong to young ladies. A few thoughts...
If I was in this good of shape, I'd send photos like this to everybody I know. Everybody.
So... to sum up... whatever. Color me disappointed, but not surprised. These asshole politicians don't seem to know how to act any other way. About the only positive thing I can say is that at least he wasn't a total hypocrite here. It's not like he railed against homosexuals and was then caught trying to hook up for gay sex in a bathroom somewhere. In any event... way to stay classy, Representative Weiner.
• LEEEEEE! In much sadder news... Lee J. Ames has died. You may not know who he was, but I assure you that you've undoubtedly seen the result of his efforts. In fact, since you are looking at this blog, I can guarantee it! Mr. Ames is famous for his art instruction books, of which I am a massively huge fan...
He has an uncanny knack of being able to effortlessly break down objects to base elements, and his "Draw 50" series of books taught me to see things this same way. Lil' Dave... Bad Monkey... and most everything I've ever drawn here... it's all using techniques I first learned from studying Lee J. Ames. As with all things which are done well, his books still hold up even today. If you know a kid who is interested in learning how to draw, you could do a lot worse than to track down these wonderful publications at your local library or art store. Rest in peace, Lee... and thank you.
• BULL SHEEEEEET! So much for the separation of Church and State. Such fucking bullshit.
• SLAAAAAAAAYER! It's the International Day of Slayer today!
♫ The root of all evil is the heart of a black soul... a force that has lived all eternity! ♫ A never ending search for a truth never told... the loss of all hope and your dignity! ♫
Annnnd... now I have to spend a couple of hours preparing for another long, hard day of work in the morning.
I'd add a long, hard photo here to drive that point home, but I think we've all seen enough wieners for a while.
Posted on Tuesday, June 7th, 2011
Last night while wandering around downtown Seattle so I could find something for dinner, a nice young lady outside of Pacific Place was gathering signatures in support of Planned Parenthood. With a smile on her face she would politely ask passing people if they supported Planned Parenthood so she could get them to sign. Most people were ignoring her.
Except the man walking ahead of me who decided to be a total dick and scream "NO!" at her so loudly that she was startled.
Naturally I decided to be a bigger dick and scream "YES!" at the back of his head, followed by "YEAH, PLANNED PARENTHOOD... YEAAAAAAHHHHH!!" And to totally drive my point home, I was fist-pumping and waving my arms while continuing to scream YEAAAAAAHHHHH!!"
Because, seriously, what is it with people?
Did he really have to be such a total asshole to scream at the girl? Couldn't he just have said a polite "no thanks" or even ignored her?
The polarizing politics of this country have created such overwhelming hatred in our daily lives that just walking down the street can be both horrifying and depressing. People aren't even pretending to be respectful, kind, and decent to each other anymore. Even the smallest disagreement seems to be grounds for all-out assault.
I try not to care, but I'm so damn tired of being caught in the crossfire.
Posted on Wednesday, June 8th, 2011
Work managed to crush me today, so I decided to step away for a while and recharge. The plan was to go back to my hotel room and read a book, but I knew if I did that I'd just end up checking email and getting sucked back into work all over again.
So I decided to go to a movie.
And despite my raging hatred of the first three crappy X-Men movies, I went and saw X-Men: First Class.
I thought that the "first class" in the title was referring to the first class of students in "Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters" from the comics... but it would seem it's actually referring to the movie itself. Because this film was one classy affair from start to finish.
I loved it.
From the retro 60's styling and amazing cast to the cohesive story and terrific special effects... this movie has it all...
The plot revolves around the formation of the mutant super-hero group, The X-Men, and the initial friendship of Charles Xavier and Erik Leshner, who would eventually become deadliest of enemies as Professor X and Magneto. The story begins with Xavier working with the US government to help mutants help humans so they can be better accepted by humanity. Along the way he meets Leshner, who is tracking down the Nazis responsible for the death of his mother in a Polish concentration camp. This eventually leads to a confrontation with The Hellfire Club, who is attempting to kick-start World War III during the Cuban Missile Crisis and rule the earth.
What made the previous three X-Men films fail so stupendously, was that there was ZERO attempt to make any of the characters kick the copious amounts of ass that the X-Men are known to do in the comics. They were just pathetic dumbasses who wandered around in lame stories and not really doing much of anything.
In the original X-Men, there are minor scuffles between the team and Magneto's henchmen, but the only real "fight" the X-Men get into is fighting army men. Lame. In the sequel, X2: X-Men United, the filmmakers make a half-assed attempt to start up the "Dark Phoenix Saga," but failed on every possible level. Even worse, the only real "fight" the X-Men get into this time is with water. Yes, fucking water! Super-lame. After watching the previews, I thought that finally things were heading in the right direction with X-Men 3: The Last Stand. They hinted that there would be an all-out battle between mutants, which would have kicked all kinds of ass... if it would have actually happened. Instead they pussed out again and gave us a watered-down fight with mutants mostly just running around. Not only did we get no fights worth watching, but there wasn't a decent story either. Hella-lame.
X-Men: First Class isn't overwhelmed with the mutant-on-mutant special effects battles I was hoping for, but it does do something we've never seen before in an X-Men film... have compelling characters and a good story. And when it comes to ass-kicking, Michael Fassbender's brilliant portrayal of Magneto delivers the goods. I can only hope that if (when we get a First Class sequel that they continue with the brilliant set-up in this film and add tons of cool action sequences that will finally depict the X-Men the way we see them in the comics.
That would be a movie worth waiting for.
In the meanwhile, there are a lot of potentially awesome comic book films in the pipe, so it's a really good time to be a fanboy right now.
Posted on Thursday, June 9th, 2011
After I got out of the movies last night I was wanting ice cream, but it was really late and so I decided to ignore my craving for the vile stuff and dream about it instead.
This morning when I woke up my ice cream obsession still there, so I decided to drop by a mini-mart on the way to the studio. I ended up buying a Chocolate-Almond Magnum Ice Cream Bar and a bag of "Original" Taco-Flavored Doritos for breakfast. When I got to work, I tore into them so fast that I think I broke the sound barrier...
So there I was eating ice cream and Doritos when I look up and see that a little boy waiting for the school bus is looking at me through the window and screaming "HE'S EATING ICE CREAM FOR BREAKFAST!!"
Soon a bunch of kids were pressed against the window pointing and staring at me as I sat there with Dorito-breath and ice cream smeared on my face. Not really wanting to be children's entertainment so early in the morning, I waved goodbye then retreated to the back of the studio so I could eat in peace.
As I was sucking the last remaining bits of chocolate off the ice cream stick and dumping the Dorito crumbs in my mouth, I was starting to feel guilty for being such a bad influence on kids... until I remembered that they were going to public school where they would undoubtedly be snorting cocaine off the bathroom toilet seats, looking at porn in the computer lab, and getting wasted off cheap liquor on the bus-ride home. I'm guessing at least one of the kids was having an affair with his teacher or had gotten a fellow classmate pregnant. All of them had probably been to rehab, and half likely had a police record.
Sure they looked eight years old, but the little bugger grow up so fast now-a-days.
Ah the innocence of youth.
Posted on Friday, June 10th, 2011
After my breakfast fiasco yesterday, I decided to set a good example and have a bowl of fruit with a croissant this morning. The kids outside waiting for their school bus were not nearly as impressed and mostly ignored me. Which is probably for the best, though I have to admit that I was tempted to build a massive ice cream sundae topped with candy bars and gummy bears for breakfast just because I could.
The last day of a project is always the longest. And since I'm mentally and physically exhausted, it's also the toughest. I spent most of the time at work wishing I could curl up in the corner and go to sleep but, from a job standpoint, that probably wasn't the best use of my time. Instead I worked my guts out and just waited for it all to end.
Which it did.
But then I had to suffer through Seattle's horrendous traffic, which is like somebody kicking you in the balls after you've just been kicked in the balls.
No amount of ice cream can fix that.
Though I suppose ice cream spread on your crotch would make you feel better after an actual kick in the balls?
The healing power of ice cream is undeniable.
Posted on Saturday, June 11th, 2011
Posted on Sunday, June 12th, 2011
Home at last for another edition of Bullet Sunday!
• Debatable. I won't know for certain until I tune into the debate tomorrow night, but I'm pretty sure I'll be longing for the good ol' days when it was George W. Bush running on the Republican presidential ticket. ...
The candidates that the Republicans are trotting out for 2012 quite literally scare the shit out of me. It's so bad that I have no need for laxatives. If I'm constipated, I just envision a future where Michele Bachmann is President of the United States of America and run for the toilet. Which means I should probably be picking up some adult diapers after work, since I don't have a television in my bathroom.
• Roadshow. This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the Hard Rock Cafe. To celebrate, they've been traveling around the USA with a collection of memorabilia honoring rock history. This past Thursday, I was lucky enough to be in Seattle when they stopped by...
It was a lot of fun... and FREE! If you're on one of the city-stops, I highly recommend checking it out (a list of dates is here).
• Crap. When I got home today, one of the first things I did was watch the South Park mid-season finale that was waiting on my DVR. It was shockingly meta. Instead of being a brilliant commentary on some current event, it ended up being brilliant commentary on South Park itself. And it scares me because it looks very much like they're setting up the show to end. And now that Trey Parker and Matt Stone are the toast of Broadway with the nine Tony Award wins for their play, The Book of Mormon, I guess it's understandable. They've been doing South Park for 15 years, and maybe they feel it's time for something new...
Even so, I will miss South Park when its gone. It's a consistent voice in satire that never fails to entertain. As a fan, I don't think its run its course yet, but maybe that's a good thing.
• Reboot. I reserved comment on DC Comics massive "reboot" of their entire universe until all 52 titles had been announced. Now that they have, and everything DC is being reset to issue #1, all I can say is huh?
I mean, there are some things I'm excited about... Jim Lee penciling a monthly title again (Justice League) for one. There are some things I'm curious about... like the two new Legion of Super-Hero books. Other things have me intrigued... like a drastically different take on Supergirl. Still other things have me puzzled... like Barbara Gordon's return to being Batgirl. And a few things have me ambivalent... like Superman's drastically altered uniform (both of them)...
I'll give it a look... but all I can really do is wonder how long the reboot will last before there's another reboot.
And now it's time for me to reboot. It's going to be a long week.
Posted on Monday, June 13th, 2011
And so tonight was the big Republican Presidential Debate.
For the most part, I thought it sucked ass. The whole format was stupid and I didn't feel I learned much of anything new. We needed fewer questions with longer, more in-depth answers so an actual debate of ideas can take place. As it were, there simply wasn't a lot I could take away from it. Except that Newt likes American Idol and Herman prefers deep-dish pizza. Or whatever.
Anyway, here's my take on the contenders...
In summary... I'm not seeing it. With the exception of some glimmers of presidential material from Romney (possibly Pawlenty)... and some ridiculous saber-rattling from Bachmann (OBAMA IS A ONE-TERM PRESIDENT!) there was nothing to get excited about.
It's still very early.
And anything can happen.
If nothing else, it will be an entertaining ride.
Posted on Tuesday, June 14th, 2011
Today is the fortieth anniversary of the Hard Rock Cafe.
On June 14th, 1971 in London, England, Isaac Tigrett and Peter Morton opened up a cafe serving American food with a rock-n-roll sensibility. One day Hard Rock fan Eric Clapton gave Tigrett a guitar. When Tigrett told him that he didn't play guitar, Clapton said he should hang it on the wall. When Pete Townsend found out about it, he wanted his guitar hanging on the wall too. Thus began the tradition of adorning Hard Rocks with rock-n-roll memorabilia, turning them into mini museums with some of the most astounding rock artifacts on the planet.
With the sole exception of Apple (and possibly Sony), I can't think of a company which has had more of an effect on my life than the Hard Rock Cafe. Since 1990 I've been to 137 properties around the world. Many of those places I would have never visited if not for the Hard Rock Cafe. In addition to encouraging me to see the world, it was the Hard Rock which first got me to share my life online. It was also the Hard Rock which is responsible for Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey coming into being...
As if that weren't enough, I've met dozens of fellow Hard Rock fans from around the globe who have become my friends.
To say I owe a lot to the Hard Rock Cafe is a bit of an understatement. I quite honestly don't know what my life would be like today without the place.
Undoubtedly it would be a lot less interesting.
So happiest of anniversaries and many thanks to the Hard Rock Cafe!
Posted on Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
For people like me who believe that everything happens for a reason, life can be a bit puzzling from time to time. Especially when something bad happens. A part of you is going "Well this sucks! But it apparently needed to happen, so here we are." While another part of you is going "What the fuck did I ever do to deserve this shit?"
Today I was saying "What the fuck?" quite a lot.
Which is to say that I understand that everything happens for a reason, I just refuse to accept it (albeit temporarily).
Hoping for a better day tomorrow.
Posted on Thursday, June 16th, 2011
So the reviews are in and Green Lantern sucks. Crap. I was really looking forward to it.
Almost as much as I'm not looking forward to buying new headphones to replace my recently trashed pair of earbuds.
Which brings us to the top three things I most hate to buy...
So I guess my nightmare scenario would be having to prepare for a night of protected sex in the back seat of my new car while listening to music in my new headphones.
But how often does that happen?
Not nearly often enough.
* Hey, it could be true**... according to Debbie Downer, feline AIDS is the number one killer of domestic cats!
** Except for the fact that I don't have a cat.
Posted on Friday, June 17th, 2011
One thing I've been noticing lately is a lot of cars being pulled over by the police. In an age of labor cuts and dwindling budgets, it seems like even the cops are having to justify their jobs and increase revenue. This means a lot of tickets are probably being issued where they once were not. Because of this, I've been driving a lot more conservatively over the past year or so... but not everybody has gotten the message. When I was driving over to Seattle last week, I was twice passed by cars going way over the speed limit, only to catch up with them down the road after they had been pulled over.
Today it happened again. The police are not playing around. At least not in Washington State.
A part of me is happy about this, because there are people on the road who are downright dangerous and should be pulled over. But another part of me is concerned at the thought that the police may be going too far. If people are being pulled over for going 65 in a 60, for example, I don't consider this to be ticket-worthy. Even a temporary passing speed of 70 in a 60 should not be a ticketable offense if somebody is passing safely. Hopefully, things are not getting out of hand, because there's a fine line between "To serve and protect" and "To humiliate and harass."
Personally, I'd rather pay more taxes to the police so that they don't have ticket quotas and can focus on public safety and dangerous drivers... like the assholes who are slow-driving in the passing lane AND AREN'T PASSING ANYBODY! It may cost us more money, but at least it's not affecting our insurance rates, so we're saving in the long-run.
In the meanwhile... watch your speed, citizens!
Oh... for those of you who were asking which headphones I ended up with after my rant yesterday...
Blogography's Bose AE2 Audio Headphones Review
Bose is one of those companies that usually gets massacred at review sites because most everybody seems to think they are overpriced and have poor sound. This is kind of surprising because every time I've stopped at a Bose kiosk and given them a listen, I've been relatively impressed. No, they're not going to win in a contest against $1500 studio reference cans (obviously) but, for the most part, I think they're worth the money they charge.
I have four sets of earbuds, with my favorite being the Klipsch S4i. The problem is that earbuds become uncomfortable for me after a while, and I was wanting something that went over my ears like a traditional headset. Unfortunately, the three pairs I tried at the mid-low-end (JVC, Sony, and Skullcandy... each $50 or less) were not at all comfortable. It finally got to the point that I didn't even care about the sound, all I wanted was something that didn't squeeze my brain or dent the top of my head. A Google search for "most comfortable headphones" eventually led me to Bose. Target had a listening station and AE2's in stock for $20 off ($130 total). They were about $60 more than I wanted to spend, but oh well.
My thoughts on my new cans can be found in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Saturday, June 18th, 2011
Oh look... it's I Don't Give a Fuck Day!
Which is kind of uneventful, because every day is "I Don't Give a Fuck Day" to me.
So Vancouver made a good play for the Stanley Cup, but ultimately lost to the Bruins.
This, of course, was reason to riot in the streets... demolishing everything in sight and setting everything else on fire. In other words, to be complete and total dumbasses trashing their beautiful city. It's kind of difficult not to give a fuck about that, because I love Vancouver.
Anyway... by now the entire world has seen the striking photo of two people kissing in the middle of the Vancouver riots. When it was first released, the general consensus seemed to be that these two crazy kids got horny by all the violence and destruction then decided to drop in the middle of the street and make out...
Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images
Personally, I was thinking "Now there's a guy who has his priorities straight!" The world is going to hell around him in a maelstrom of stupidity, and he decided there was a better use of his time than smashing a window or smacking a police officer!
Eventually the couple was tracked down and told their story. Turns out they weren't making out in the middle of a riot. They said that the police overran them, beating them down to the ground with riot shields. The girl was hurt and understandably freaked out, so the guy laid down next to her and gave her a kiss on the cheek... assumably to calm and comfort her. If you can get the image of a total player out of your head, it's actually kind of sweet.
The internet, skeptics all, decided they were horny liars. Some were saying the entire thing was staged. But eventually the CBC released footage that showed they were telling the truth. the police actually did beat them down and overrun them on the street...
Naturally, this is the internet we're talking about, so people started Photoshopping the kissing couple in all kinds of outlandish situations. I decided to take another approach. Since the riots were so fucking stupid, I decided to Photoshop them in other incredibly stupid situations...
Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images
Photo by CNN Images
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to not giving a fuck.
Posted on Sunday, June 19th, 2011
It's a busy busy Bullet Sunday!
If I were smart, I'd blow off blogging today so I could get caught up with work. Oh well. Blogging is a tough habit to break. Even when it's bad for you. Especially when it's bad for you.
• Holiday. Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there! Including mine...
• Cheesy. I think it aught to be a law that companies who make low-fat and fat-free cheese products should be REQUIRED UNDER PENALTY OF DEATH to label their products with giant warning labels like they put on cigarettes...
I am tired of accidentally buying the wrong cheese at the store because I'm in a hurry and don't notice the beautifully-integrated low-fat declaration. If there were an offensively large warning label requirement, I'd be less likely to mistakenly purchase this crap.
• Batmobile. Batman is my favorite comic book hero. By far. He doesn't have any super powers, so the stakes are always higher for him than say.... Superman. How Batman compensates for being merely human is those wonderful toys he uses to fight crime. The most famous of which would have to be the Batmobile. As Batman's vehicle of choice, it's taken a lot of different forms over the years. Some good. Some bad. Some meh. Kind of like the latest Batmobile designed by Gordon Murray(!) for the new Batman Live touring show. In the right light, it's kind of sexy...
But in the wrong light... such as, say... DAYLIGHT... it looks kind of boring and lame...
Still, it is a step above the massive tank-like "Batmobile Tumbler" from the current Batman films, I guess. I mostly didn't care for the theatrical and goofy nature of the Tim Burton movies, but I think he had the best Batmobile on the big screen so far.
• Flush. I am sick of all these commercials touting "Flash" as an awesome "feature" on the Android Tablets. Flash sucks. It's battery-draining, crash-happy, annoying bullshit and I hate it. Apple choosing to dump the buggy shit from its iPhone, iPod, and iPad was one of the best things to happen to the internet, because it's forcing web developers to stop using Flash and turn to modern HTML 5 elements instead. I am reminded of just how smart Apple is every time I visit a Flash site on my MacBook and it either crashes or sucks my battery dry.
My favorite thing to do is fill out crash reports whenever Flash crashes (which is a lot)...
Not that it's any news to Apple... hell, they're trying their best to kill Flash. But I'm easily frustrated and a total smartass.
• Cloudy. Speaking of Apple competitor suckage... why is buying music from Amazon such a frikin' joke? It's an awful, awful experience. It's so mind-boggling horrible that I'd rather pay $1.29 for a song from Apple than to suffer through buying the same song for 69¢ from Amazon. And now that they force you to go through their "Cloud Drive" for everything, a bad situation is even worse. Partly because their "Cloud Drive Player" is shit and stutters and stalls every time I try to listen to a song. But mostly because you can't just download your music when you want. You still have to use Amazon's unbelievably crappy downloader utility, which is just fucking stupid. Apple's iCloud service won't be ready until July (Mac) and September (iOS), but it's bound to be worth waiting for given Amazon's terrible solution. Guess I'm in no danger of turning in my Certified Apple Whore credentials any time soon.
And now I think I'll eat cookies and watch episodes of The West Wing. After all these years, it remains some of the best television ever aired.
Posted on Monday, June 20th, 2011
Now that groceries are so obscenely expensive, I'm far less confident and creative in the kitchen. I follow recipes exactly as they're written because I'm too worried about something turning out bad and having to throw it out. I just can't afford that kind of waste when a sack of food costs $50.
So when I got a hankerin' for potato salad this past weekend I needed to find a recipe because I've never made it before. After a recommendation and research, I settled on "Myron Mixon's Killer Potato Salad." Apparently the guy is a famous chef and his potato salad is award-winning and stuff.
Anyway, as I was following the recipe to the letter, a number of questions popped up.
Like... the recipe says to boil the potatoes whole, then cut them up after cooking. This sounded silly to me. Potatoes are oddly-sized and cook unevenly. Wouldn't it be better to cut them into uniform pieces BEFORE boiling so they all cook at the same speed? But I didn't want to goof up so I did as the recipe instructed. The bigger ones ended up a bit tough in the center and the little ones were a bit mooshy, but whatever.
Like... the recipe says to add a tablespoon of salt to the dressing. This seemed excessive for two cups' worth of dressing. But, I didn't want to question an expert on how to season potato salad, so I did as the recipe instructed. My expensive potato salad ended up tasting like a salt lick, but whatever.
I spent a lot of money on the ingredients ($6.79 for a tiny bottle of dill alone!) so I didn't want to throw it out. But eating it was out of the question because my lips were burning from all the salt. My solution was to make another batch of salt-free potato salad and mix the two batches. But this time I cut the potatoes before boiling. And I seasoned to taste instead of by measure. Now it tastes great!
And now I've got a shit-load of potato salad in the refrigerator. I'm going to be eating the stuff every day for a month. And yet, I'm okay with that because I didn't have to throw anything in the garbage...
I guess sometimes when the ingredients are expensive, it pays to question the recipe.
I guess sometimes when the stakes are high, it pays to break the rules.
I guess sometimes when the situation is bad, you have to start over.
I guess sometimes I need to be reminded of that.
Posted on Tuesday, June 21st, 2011
Posted on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
Yesterday evening I managed to find some falafel at Costco, so I needed to drop by Safeway and get some pita bread. For whatever reason, Costco doesn't carry pita bread, which is probably for the best since I didn't need 150 pieces of the stuff.
So there I am walking to the bread section when some asshole comes whipping around the corner pushing a shopping cart without looking. I literally had to jump out of the way to avoid getting nailed. Of course I didn't get an apology... I barely got an acknowledgment... but whatever. That's modern society for you.
After finding the pita bread, I headed to the check-out counter where the guy ahead of me was unloading his shopping. The last item he put on the belt was a sack of limes...
CLERK: How many limes you got here? Do you know?
DUDE: Six. There's six.
CLERK: (holding up a big bag of limes) This looks like a lot more than six.
DUDE: THERE'S SIX!
CLERK: (counting out limes) No... there's thirteen!
DUDE: Yes, that's what I said... thirteen!
Now, in his defense, he might not have been a dumbass scammer... he could have very well been incapable of counting to thirteen and was embarrassed about it. But, whatever the case, it was a little bit awkward for me to be standing there watching it all go down. Then it was my turn, and here's what actually happened...
CLERK: Is this everything for you?
DAVE 2: Yes, ma'am, thanks.
CLERK: That'll be $2.99. Do you want to make a donation to fight prostate cancer?
But this is what happened in my head...
CLERK: Is this everything for you?
DAVE 2: Well, that and the twelve other packages of pita bread I've got shoved down my pants.
CLERK: (chuckles) Ooh... sorry, but I can't give you Safeway Club Card Points for that!
DAVE 2: Not even if I whip it out?
CLERK: Depends on whether I get dinner first.
DAVE 2: You just made yourself a date!
CLERK: (swoons) I get off at 7:00.
And this is what probably would have happened had I actually pulled a stunt like that...
CLERK: Is this everything for you?
DAVE 2: Well, that and the twelve other packages of pita bread I've got shoved down my pants.
CLERK: Security... SECURITY!!!!
Because life isn't like the letter columns in Penthouse Forum, much as we might all wish otherwise...
Posted on Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
"He's got a huge erection."
"Sure. Great. Wait a second... what?!?"
"He's got a huge selection."
"Ah, that makes more sense. I thought you said 'erection' there."
"I did say 'erection.' You didn't sound like you were paying attention."
Getting a call from Bad Robert during daylight hours means one of two things... 1) He's farted and/or taken a crap and/or done something so outrageous that he's dying to tell somebody about it... or 2) He needs me to do him a favor of some kind. Usually it's the former but yesterday (thankfully) he needed a favor. Since he's helped me out lots of time, I'm happy to do him a solid when I can.
Turns out his internet was down and he needed help looking up some car parts for a restoration job he and his friend were working on. The problem was that every time I'd read off the info they wanted, they'd take five minutes to discuss it before telling me the next part to look up. Since I was completely buried, I would try and get some work done while they jabbered away. Inevitably I'd miss out on some critical part of the conversation, so Robert decided to toss an erection into the equation to teach me a lesson...
A lesson about what I have no idea.
Posted on Friday, June 24th, 2011
The battle for marriage equality in New York has the attention of the entire nation on both sides of the spectrum. If it passes, this will be a major step in ending the institutionalized bigotry against committed gay and lesbian couples wanting the same right to marry that everybody else has. Or the end of the world, depending on your views.
A week ago while trying to figure out a way to lend my support to such a worthy and important cause, it occurred to me that Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey were "born" and "raised" in New York. They're New Yorkers! This led to a DaveToon modeled on the "New Yorkers for Marriage Equality" campaign...
But after I finished, I decided not to publish it out of fear that it might give the appearance of mocking something I care deeply about. The fact that my gay friends are seen as lesser people in the eyes of the law and their rights are up for debate is disgusting to me. I simply cannot fathom how this is even an issue in 2011. Even more disgusting is how the people most opposed to "big government" interfering in our lives are the same people pushing to have laws which strip tax-paying citizens of their rights. I guess "big government" is perfectly okay if it's persecuting people you don't like. This is the very definition of hypocrisy. It is anti-American. It has no business being a part of a country founded on the principle of freedom. It is just wrong. If you don't believe in gay marriage then don't marry somebody of the same sex... that's your decision. But you have no right to make that decision for everybody else in the United States of America. End of story.
So as the New York Senate reconvenes today to debate whether homosexuality is grounds to relegate somebody to being a second class citizen, I remembered the cartoon and changed my mind. People can look at it however they want, but it sums up my feelings on the matter completely: Government has no fucking business telling consenting adults who they can love and marry. And it's no less true if it's coming from a cartoon.
Posted on Saturday, June 25th, 2011
I apologize for those who feel offended. I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state, the State of New York, and those people who make this the great state that it is, the same rights that I have with my wife."
—Senator Mark J. Grisanti, New York State District 60 (Republican)
And so, on a weekend where many cities are already celebrating for Pride, New York goes and legalizes marriage equality! Congratulations to all those who fought so hard to make it happen... may this be the first of many victories for freedom and diversity across the nation!
As happy as I am to see the tide of bigotry and hatred turning at long last, a part of me is heartbroken that there are so many who didn't survive to see this moment. Too many kids whose only crime was existing in a world where being different is cause to be persecuted...
Though it has sadly come too late, this win is as much theirs as it is anybody's.
And now, the future...
Posted on Sunday, June 26th, 2011
Sunday is the word, Sunday is the word, is the word that you heard. It's got bullets it's got meaning. Sunday is the time, is the place is the motion. Sunday is the way we are feeling...
• Pudding. A couple of people on Twitter were nice enough to let me know that today is NATIONAL CHOCOLATE PUDDING DAY! Not that I really need a reason to celebrate. For me, EVERY DAY IS NATIONAL CHOCOLATE PUDDING DAY! It has been for as long as I can remember...
And doesn't look to be changing any time soon...
Even Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey love chocolate pudding...
But really, who doesn't? Here's wishing you chocolate pudding dreams on National Chocolate Pudding Day!
• Columbo. As a huge, huge, massively huge, mega-fan of television's Columbo, I was very sad to learn that its star, Peter Falk, had died. For anybody who hasn't seen it, Columbo was a murder mystery show with a twist. The twist being that the audience knows exactly who the murderer is and how they did it. The fun was watching Lt. Columbo putting the pieces together. It was formula, but it worked. And the reason it worked was because Lt. Columbo in his rumpled trench coat and simplistic manner was never taken seriously by anybody... even though he was always the smartest person in the room...
Several episodes are available on Netflix via Instant Watch, and I can't recommend them highly enough. Many of them are quite dated, but still a fun watch. For an even bigger treat, rent the DVDs of the television movies that came after the show ended. Columbo just got better and better as Peter Falk got older. A part of me was always hopeful he'd do another movie one day, but, alas... rest in peace Mr. Falk.
• Cap. I swear, the more I see of the upcoming Captain America film, the more I want to see it. The latest trailer is beyond epic...
Between the awesomeness that has been Iron Man, Thor, Incredible Hulk, and now Captain American... the very idea of the upcoming Avengers movie makes me giddy as a schoolgirl. Why, why, why can't DC Comics get their shit together like Marvel has with their characters?
• Colan. Speaking of death and comics, I was also very sad to learn that longtime comic book artist Gene Colan had died. The man had drawn dozens upon dozens of books over the years, but the one I most associate him with was a short-lived series called Night Force. It was just so... different... from other comics of the day, and everything about it was interesting...
Colan was probably best-known for being the artist on Tomb of Dracula and Daredevil, but it's Night Force which I liked best. Rest in peace, Mr. Colan.
And... I've still got bullets, but it's time to get back to work. Hopefully bullets don't spoil and will keep for a week? Otherwise, look forward to stale bullets next week.
Posted on Monday, June 27th, 2011
Posted on Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
God-like powers in some hands would be a mistake.
Not mine, of course... but in some...
Posted on Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
Despite the bad reviews, I simply had to go see Green Lantern after checking into my hotel.
The reason I had to see it was because Green Lantern is one of my favorite super-heroes (after Batman, of course). In fact, an issue of Green Lantern was the first comic book I ever bought. I've been a fan through thick and thin ever since...
Sadly, the movie itself is pretty bad. Several elements are good, but the big picture is a hot mess with too many inexplicably boring bits. Since I really have no idea how to review such a scattered film (let alone attempt to sum up the story!), I guess I'll just run through the bullets...
• Casting. Ryan Reynolds was perfectly cast. He captured the cocky charm of a fearless test pilot effortlessly. Likewise, Peter Skarsgard playing Hector Hammond and Mark Strong's turn as Sinestro were shockingly good. Blake Lively as Carol Ferris seemed a little forced and awkward at times... and her character had really lame similarities to Pepper Potts from the Iron Man films... but it wasn't as disastrously bad as say... January Jones in X-Men: First Class.
• Scope.I really enjoyed that they went a little "cosmic" with the movie. Green Lantern is at his best when he's out amongst the stars, and having him mixing it up with aliens and other worlds was a very good thing. If, by some miracle, a sequel happens, I hope that they ignore earth completely (especially since that's where most of the boring bits happen).
Parallax. As far as villains go, Parallax was probably not the best choice. His comic book back-story is rather long and complex, and the way they dumbed it down to fit in a movie was kind of lame and dismissive. On top of that, he just wasn't very compelling an opponent in the film, because his powers weren't really defined. He could be almost god-like one minute... then surprisingly weak the next.
Pacing. As I mentioned, there's unnecessary stretches of sheer boredom plaguing the film. It's totally amateurish, and I'm guessing the writer(s) simply didn't know how to edit for a streamlined story... so they just threw in as many bits as possible in the hopes that something would gel together and "stick." It doesn't.
• CGI Uniforms. I understand the logic of the Green Lantern Corps uniforms being pure energy, and the concept of computer graphics being the best way to show this is sound... but it failed on every possible level. Ryan Reynolds looked like he had been Photoshop-painted, badly in every scene he's Green Lantern, and it took me completely out of the movie. You can tell that the effects team knew the uniforms looked like shit because they went back and added "energy crackles" and "energy glows" here and there in an attempt to camouflage them. If anything, it just ended up making things worse by drawing attention to how tragically bad they looked. I simply cannot fathom how anybody could look at test footage and decide this was the best way to go. I mean, they did render test footage of the uniforms, didn't they?
Case in point... ONE of these photos is fake. I spent two minutes slapping on some green pixels in Photoshop. Can you spot it? Guessing isn't as easy as you'd think since they're all pretty shitty...
• Internal Logic. I understand that you have to suspend disbelief in order to accept a movie universe where people are flying around playing super-hero... but, even so, there has to be an internal logic to the story and plot so you can suspend disbelief. Green Lantern has so many inconsistencies and gaps of internal logic that I found it impossible to get into the film. There was this whole deus ex machina thing going on where plot points existed not because they made sense, but because it was the only way the writers found to move the story forward. This caused me to constantly question the characters, which is a very bad thing from a story standpoint.
• The Story. Green Lantern has a classic origin story... dying alien gives hotshot test pilot Hal Jordan a ring with amazing powers and inducts him into the Green Lantern Corps, which is a kind of intergalactic police force. This part is handled fairly well in the movie, but things go off the rails really quickly afterwards. The problem is that there's just not a story you can grab ahold of and be taken away by. There's only fragments of different stories woven together seemingly at random. This didn't hold my interest because my attention was never focused on one thing long enough to give a crap about the stuff happening on-screen. For me, at least, the film can never overcome this deficiency, and comes out totally mediocre because of it.
And this updates my whole "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard as follows...
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Fantastic Four... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Ghost Rider... C
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A
Jonah Hex... F
Punisher War Zone... C
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Superman Returns... C+
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: First Class... B
Posted on Thursday, June 30th, 2011
Things did not go especially well for me today.
It all started this morning when I woke up and realized that I had packed my reading glasses instead of my glasses glasses for my trip to Spokane. Blind as a bat, I stumbled to my suitcase for a fresh pair of disposable contact lenses only to find... nothing.
My worst travel nightmare had just come true.
I was sure I had packed a bunch of lenses, but they were nowhere to be found. This meant I was, for all intents and purposes, blind. I would be unable to drive. Unable to work. Unable to do much of anything. About all I could do was call my office back home and have some lenses FedExed to me, then sit in my hotel for another day waiting for them to arrive.
How in the hell could this have happened? I travel professionally! I am way past this kind of amateurish bullshit!
Except I have been working day and night for the past two weeks and am completely exhausted both mentally and physically. Something eventually had to give and, unfortunately, this was it.
So what do I do now?
The only thing I could do... completely disassemble all my possessions. Unpack every last item from every last piece of everything I had. Sometimes I stick a spare lens somewhere "just in case," and now was the time to hope against hope that a stray contact would somehow be found. And it was. At the bottom of my suitcase rattling around with an old camera memory card.
Half-blind would have to be good enough.
But luck favors the foolish, and I managed to find another stray lens tucked in my notebook pocket after I got to work.
So it's all good, right?
Of course not. Work was extended another day. And while I had extra clothes packed "just in case"... I was fresh out of lenses. Which meant I had to go buy a lens case and some saline so I could re-use my only pair. All I can hope is that I don't accidentally drop one down the sink or something.
But it wasn't all bad news today. I did get to have the best pizza on planet earth...
That just about makes up for everything.
Even when the power adapter for my laptop blew out.
Posted on Friday, July 1st, 2011
After getting off work at 1:30am this morning, I drove back to my hotel half-dead. Not from the hour, but from having to work in-between work while working on work. It wears on you after a while.
So I get to my room, flop on the bed, then take out my disposable contact lenses and drop them on the nightstand so I can toss them in the garbage in the morning.
Then, after an unknown length of time, I suddenly remember that I don't have any replacement lenses or eyeglasses with me. Shiiiiiiiiiit! Adrenaline pumping I lunge out of bed and scramble to find the lamp. I somehow manage to retrieve my shriveling lenses and run to the bathroom where I oh-so-carefully attempt to rehydrate them with the saline I had bought earlier. Are they going to be wearable in the morning? Who knows. All I can do is let them soak overnight and hope.
I then headed back to bed so I could...
... STAY AWAKE ALL NIGHT ON AN ADRENALINE HIGH WORRIED THAT MY CONTACTS ARE RUINED AND I WON'T BE ABLE TO SEE TO DRIVE HOME.
And how was your night?
Eventually I give up on sleep and roll out of bed at 5:30am.
Heart pounding, I make my way to the bathroom and put my contact lenses in.
The are not at all comfortable, but they work.
So I get caught up on still more work for the next six hours with my scratchy eyes, then call in an order for a giant-size Da Vinci pizza from David's for my drive home. Yes, I've been eating pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner... but it's the best pizza in the universe, so what can you do?
Half with tomatoes to eat now. Half without for later so they don't get slimy.
The 3-1/2 hour drive home was agonizing*, but delicious...
Mmmmmm... yummy road pizza!
And so here I am. In eyeglasses at last. Blogging about my day.
Because I just can't help myself.
* Seriously, agonizing. I'm trying to recall a worse road trip I've ever taken, but I can't think of one. 3-1/2 hours driving through the middle of NOWHERE with burning eyeballs on NO sleep while physically and mentally exhausted? All the pizza in the world isn't going to fix that, no matter how amazing it is.
Posted on Saturday, July 2nd, 2011
This past week the Mad Magazine blog has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of one of their most enduring and beloved features... Spy vs. Spy! Sadly, the strip's original creator, Antonio Prohías, died in 1998, but his brilliant creations have lived on. When I was a kid, I loved Spy vs. Spy. It was clever and, even more important to me at that point, extremely well-drawn. It was also one of my favorite parts of Mad and I collected every Spy vs. Spy book, sticker, toy, and game I could find.
And last night, in celebration of the anniversary, I read through my copy of Spy Vs. Spy: The Complete Casebook. The cartoons never get old, and hold up very well from even their earliest days.
Apparently, Ron Howard is developing a Spy vs. Spy movie! I have no idea how that would work, but I admit to being intrigued. Animated? Live-Action? COMBINATION?!? Only Opie knows for sure.
Posted on Sunday, July 3rd, 2011
Oh, wipe your tears away... Sunday, bloody Sunday...
• Plus! Annnnd... Google debuted their "Google+" social media services this week. As a so-called "Facebook killer" it's pretty interesting. I like that its smarter at controlling who sees the things you post. I like being able to organize people into my "Circles"... which are kind of like old rotary phone dials...
Of course, if you have a hundred friends, you can only see thirteen in your little dial until you click on it, but I guess that's better than nothing.
I've already got Facebook, Twitter, and this blog sucking up my time. Do I really need another "thing" cutting into my already mega-packed offline life? I mean, I suppose I can give up sleeping and going to the bathroom, but is Google+ really worth it? Time will tell.
• Colbert. This past week Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central's Colbert Report received approval from the FEC to form his own Political Action Committee. But, unlike regular PACs, he formed a Super PAC which has no restrictions on the amount of money he can raise. I'm absolutely fascinated at the prospect of a comedian having access to a PAC, and can't wait to see how much he can raise and what he's eventually going to do with it.
So I donated some money. And got an autographed photo for my trouble...
Whatever he does with his money, I'm betting it's going to be a heck of a lot more interesting than what Sarah Palin has been doing with her PAC monies.
• Roundabout. I noted an article link over on Neil Turner's Blog about how the British roundabout is conquering the US. This is something I can confirm as true. Years ago, the only roundabouts I'd ever seen in the USA were in Massachusetts. But now they are popping up everywhere. The first I remember seeing in my home state of Washington was at the I-90 interchange in North Bend...
Image taken from Google Maps
And now, even small local cities like nearby Wenatchee are getting roundabouts.
The problem is that nobody here seems to know how to drive on them. Most of the time I've seen people encounter a roundabout, they full-stop instead of yield. And, even then, they don't know what to do, preferring to just sit there for a while until they get up the courage to enter. Hopefully this will change as they become more prevalent, but right now they're more trouble than they're worth.
• Arrietty. The next film by animation genius Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli is called Arrietty, and is based on the beloved book The Borrowers by Mary Norton. As with everything Miyazaki touches, it looks stunning...
My loved of all things Miyazaki is well documented. He has been a massive influence on me for decades, and his works are without peer in the animation world (the people at Pixar practically worship the man, for example). That he has continued to work after his "retirement" in 1998 has been a source of absolute joy to me, and seeing yet another film with his fingerprints on it makes me happier than I can possibly express. And while his role at Ghibli seems mostly supervisory now (though he appears to still be doing some writing and drawing too), he seems to have good people (including his son) carrying on his work...
Arrietty was released in Japan almost a year ago and I have yet to see it. Today I learned that it won't reach the USA until FEBRUARY, 2012!! And while I would prefer to see the movie with the original Japanese soundtrack and subtitles, the North American release is certain to be an English dub (as usual). I don't even care. I just want to see it! Then hopefully the Blu-Ray release will preserve the Japanese version like Ponyo did. In the meanwhile... I wait.
And that's all she wrote since I have to get up early for work in the morning. Here's hoping all my fellow USAsians have a good holiday tomorrow!
Posted on Monday, July 4th, 2011
"Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the spot of every wind. With such persons, gullability, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason and the mind becomes a wreck."
— Thomas Jefferson, from a letter to James Smith, December 8, 1822
Of course, the people who most need to learn from that quote are the same people who will have no fucking clue what Jefferson was talking about, but that's America for you! Because reading is hard! Thinking is hard! Learning is hard!
Despite it all, our Founding Fathers did manage to get this country off to a pretty good start (well, the real Founding Fathers... not the fictional characters that so many politicians are using like magic bullets now-a-days). Sure there were a lot of inequalities, injustices, and other problems back then, but we were young. We had a lot of shit to work out. We had a lot of growing to do.
And, for a while there, things were going pretty well. Not everything got solved that needed to be solved, but we were moving in the right direction. And, while plenty more mistakes were made along the way, one could argue that we were trying. If nothing else, our hearts were in the right place.
But then things got fucked up. I don't know if its because we let success go to our heads... or starting looking at things as money issues instead of people issues... or maybe we just put the wrong people in charge of speaking for us... whatever the case, we seem to have lost our way. Businesses are more important than citizens. Wealth is more important than justice. Dogma is more important than freedom. Differences are more important than similarities. Ignorance is more important than truth.
And while I cling to minor victories in the face of the tempest of absurdities that tears at this country, I am slowly giving up hope that we will weather this monstrous storm. Entirely too many people have fallen to gullibility, idiocy, and hate. Many of them under the guise of faith in a country where faith is supposed to be tempered by reason.
Alas we have surrendered all reason and are now like a ship without a rudder.
Because reading is hard.
Because thinking is hard.
Because learning is hard.
Far easier to have people simply tell us what to believe.
Unfortunately, a great many of these people don't read, think, or learn either. They just make shit up... rewrite history... misrepresent people... ignore science... shun fairness... pass the blame...
At least I trust that's what's happening. Because intentionally making shit up, rewriting history, misrepresenting people, ignoring science, shunning fairness, and passing the blame... that would be evil wouldn't it?
And so here I sit on the 4th of July, our Independence Day, contemplating the stupidity and/or evil that challenges this nation. It makes it kind of difficult to celebrate the holiday, but a part of me is holding on to hope. Hope that eventually reason will prevail and we'll find our rudder...
Because when dumbfuck politicians continue to trot out our Founding Fathers to support their ridiculous arguments, people are going to eventually get curious as to who these people actually were. And let me tell you, Conservatives and Liberals alike are probably going to be surprised at what they find... especially when they start weeding out all the misquotes and fictitious garbage that's been attributed to thest historical figures throughout the years.
As always, the truth is far more complex and interesting than the out-of-context bullshit we're handed.
If only people would read, think, and learn to discover it.
Maybe one day.
Happy 4th of July, fellow United States of Americans!
Posted on Tuesday, July 5th, 2011
My doctor-prescribed diet consists primarily of... shit.
I eat shit for breakfast. Shit for lunch. Shit for dinner, and... if I'm really good... shit for dessert. And it's not so much that I mind eating healthy shit in an effort to actually be healthy, it's that there are other factors at play. Like the heat. It's been crazy hot lately. I am laying in bed right now at 10:30pm with a fan pointed at my head and two ice-packs under my neck. As if that weren't enough, my workload has been insane. From 5:00pm Friday until 8:00am this morning I logged 37 hours. Some three-day weekend.
Which is to say that the prospect of coming home to a shit sandwich* for dinner was unacceptable. At least tonight it was.
So I decided to ignore my doctor and go out to a restaurant so I could eat actual shit, filled with all those things I'm supposed to be avoiding.
And it was delicious.
Even if it was just the Olive Garden.
* I'm not meaning a literal shit sandwich here... mostly because I'm not allowed to have bread.
Posted on Wednesday, July 6th, 2011
I've been mostly out of touch for the past several days, which is what happens when you spend every waking minute trying to get caught up with work before leaving for a week.
So I can then get behind all over again.
Two of my favorite lovely ladies in the blogosphere are celebrating milestone birthdays!
Becky turned 40 yesterday! I first met Becky at TequilaCon 2008 in Philadelphia. Since then we've bumped into each other at blogging events such as Avitaween and ConFab (where I learned that Becky packs a knife, and will totally cut a bitch for reals). By the time we first met that fateful day in May, I had already known Becky for months (thanks to the power of the internet) and thought she was awesome. But her online awesomeness pales when compared to her in-person awesomeness. Meeting Becky is not just a happening, it's an event. An experience. You fall in love with her instantly and become insanely jealous when she's talking to somebody who's not you. Despite turning you into a psychotic stalker, I highly recommend The Becky Experience if you even have the opportunity.
CRAZY-ASS BECKY TRIVIA MOMENT! For years on the internet, Becky was known as "Hello Haha Narf." When she first started appearing, I remember people asking me what in the hell that meant. I told them I didn't know. But the truth is I really did. Pinky and the Brain is one of the greatest cartoons ever made, so of course I know that "Hello Haha Narf" was how Pinky started his letter to Santa in the Christmas episode. To this day I have no idea why I lied. Maybe because I thought it was Becky's story to tell. Maybe because I liked the idea that I knew something about Becky other people didn't. Maybe I thought it was funny. Or maybe in addition to turning you into a psychotic stalker, Becky also turns you into a lying liar who lies. The world may never know.
Suebob turns 50 today! Unfortunately, I haven't met Suebob in person yet. I came really close in 2007 when she was going to come to Dave L.A. but didn't for some reason. Probably because after she said she was planning on coming, she took a minute to actually read my blog and decided for her personal safety and sanity that she shouldn't. And that's okay. I totally understand. If I read the crazy crap I write on Blogography, I would be afraid to meet me too. So no hard feelings. You go ahead and have a happy birthday, Suebob, and try not to think of me sitting at Lucky Strike sobbing quietly while asking everyone that passes "Where is Suebob? Have you seen Suebob?" Because I will be okay. Eventually. =sniff!= For the past 50 days, Suebob has been featuring charities on her blog where people can make a donation in lieu of a present (including my favorite charity). They are worthy organizations all, so please drop by and donate to somebody on her list if you have a few bucks to spare.
CRAZY-ASS SUEBOB TRIVIA MOMENT! Suebob's blog is called The Red Stapler. I actually have a red stapler at work! It's a beautiful Swingline 747 stapler that I bought way back in 2002 and it still operates perfectly today. I think Swingline made red staplers specifically because Milton had one in Office Space, and it looked so cool that everybody wanted one. At least I know I did... but I had to wait three years before I could buy one.
Happiest of birthdays to you both!
Posted on Thursday, July 7th, 2011
My blog died last night.
And a part of me was wanting to let it go.
That lasted about fifteen minutes. Then I started freaking out at the prospect of eight years of Blogography being flushed down the toilet. So I started going back through all the steps I took to upgrade my database to see if I could figure out what went wrong. When that didn't pan out, I started pouring over my backups to see if I could reconstruct the data. No luck. So I gave up.
Today I looked at it on my lunch hour, but gave up again. Then after work I finally called tech support.
An hour later, everything was back to normal.
Just in time for me to start packing my suitcase...
I've got a loooooooooong day ahead of me tomorrow.
Posted on Friday, July 8th, 2011
Despite delays, more delays, and a 55-minute wait for my luggage... it was pretty much smooth sailing...
I love it when cool stuff like this goes viral.
Posted on Saturday, July 9th, 2011
Sometimes I feel like the luckiest person alive.
And though I tend not to use the word "adore" very much... Anissa Mayhew, whom I adore and love more than chocolate pudding... was in attendance after too many Davelantas past. We missed you.
Missed you bad.
It's hard to believe that it was two whole years ago you were nibbling on my balls* at The Cheesecake Factory you naughty minx you...
And then this year, as if to prove that we can't have an Atlanta blogger meet without somebody being in the hospital, Geeky Tai-Tai decided to get pneumonia.
Hope you're feeling better, Geeky Tai-Tai!
*Deep-fried macaroni-and-cheese balls... get your mind out of the gutter, people!
Posted on Sunday, July 10th, 2011
Tonight's the night!
Posted on Monday, July 11th, 2011
I don't know that I believe in ghosts. Though I am certainly open to the possibility.
Which is why I was thrilled when my good blogging friend, Heather (aka Coal Miner's Granddaughter), invited me to an investigation last night with the Paranormal Georgia Investigations team to "one of the most haunted places in the world"... Waverly Hills Sanatorium! And while I'm not sure I witnessed anything paranormal, it was a heck of a lot of fun. Especially since Avitable and The Muskrat were there too.
The place is most definitely creepy at times. Even when illuminated...
So you can just imagine what it looks like when it's dark.
For October, the place is dressed up for Halloween to make a haunted house. There's plenty of spooky paintings on the walls left over...
I tried my best to be a good investigator by putting all my energy into my senses so I could best seek out anything unexplainable. This is kind of overwhelming, and resulted in my mind going all fuzzy for the first couple of hours, but eventually everything kind of mellowed out and I was able to maintain focus and be hyper-observant of my surroundings without too much effort...
Along the way, there were plenty of "what was that?" moments. Including an extended conversation with a spirit that was messing around with a flashlight (though it was entirely possible it was just an extended conversation with a flashlight). I wanted quite badly for ghosts to be involved in our hunt (and maybe they were!), but even putting that aside, the actual technical side of the investigation was absolutely fascinating.
And, as if that wasn't enough, I got to see my very first lightning bug!
I was bringing up the rear of our team, hanging back in the shadows looking for anything out of the ordinary. As I was walking down the hall, I saw a green blinking LED light. At first I thought it might be one of the K-II EMF meters we were using but, when I got up to it, I saw it was actually a little bug blinking on and off! I wasn't able to get a photo of him glowing, so I've Photoshop-simulated what I saw...
Now, for people who live in the South and see this all the time, it's probably not a big deal. But I was over-the-moon thrilled since I had never seen one before. And it was different than I expected because I had no idea that they would be so bright! As the night went on, I saw quite a few of them blinking on-and-off, which was very cool indeed.
When I got back to the hotel at 4:00am, I was entirely too tired to do much of anything. But this morning I started looking at my photos. Very, very carefully. I was looking for any odd shadows or (gasp!) faces and apparitions like I had seen in the photos we were shown at Waverly. For each photo I would use Photoshop to open up the shadows and then examine each of the RGB channels for anything mysterious. It was a tedious process, but I took the time to go on the trip, so I wanted to put the time into doing things right.
As I got to the photos where the sun was going down, I found this image...
Kind of nifty composition and contrast, but nothing terribly special. I then opened up the shadows and suddenly noticed two green spots. Naturally, I was thrilled, thinking that I had managed to catch two lightning bugs in mid-glow...
But when I zoomed in, it wasn't lightning bugs at all. It was just flawed pixels on my camera sensor. As anybody who has done work on digital photos knows, occasionally you get spots in Red, Green, or Blue because those are the colors which camera images are broken down into so they can be recorded. The spots are usually so small that they go unnoticed and, if they are noticeable, I just fix them in Photoshop, so it's not a big deal. My camera's most noticeable sensor flaw is a red dot which appears along the bottom-center in every image I take... even going back months...
But, when I scrolled around this particular image, I started noticing RGB spots everywhere...
The spots were so numerous that I thought I might have damaged my camera sensor somehow, because in all the time I've owned it, I've never seen so many of them. But, when I went to earlier and later images, the new spots were nowhere to be found. It was only on this image. And while they show up most everywhere, I picked out some random spots to enlarge here...
I just spent the past two hours going back through image after image of everything I have on my laptop, and the new spots never appear in any other photograph. It's as if the number of flaws on my camera's sensor increased fifty-fold, then went back to normal. Or not. I dunno.
And while I would never claim that this is any kind of evidence of paranormal activity... well... it is something that I cannot explain. Maybe it's a natural phenomena which happens under certain lighting conditions. Maybe some camera function I had in place is to blame. Maybe it's dust. Maybe somebody has a perfectly good non-paranormal explanation. But a cursory Google search turns up nothing. So, again, I dunno.
Because even more so than before I went ghost-hunting... my mind is open to anything.
UPDATE: I was asked if the "RGB Snow" formed a pattern of any kind. If it does, I certainly can't see it. Below is the image where I've enlarged the spots by placing a dot on top...
Some of the brighter white spots I put a grey dot on top of. Those are probably dust, but they are brighter than any any spots I saw on other photos. There may be pixel problems in the bright areas, but I think they'd be masked by the light.
Posted on Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
Yeah, yeah, it's Bullet Sunday ON TUESDAY! What can I say, this has been a crazy week with a lot going on. Fasten your seat-belts...
• Billboard! Speaking of Sunday... we left Atlanta, Georgia around 8:00am for the long 6-hour drive up to Louisville, Kentucky for some ghost-hunting. It was, for the most part, an uneventful drive. I spent most of the trip watching for billboard signs. This may seem crazy-stupid to most people who try their best to ignore billboards, but I'm from Washington State where they are illegal, so I find them fascinating...
A huge number of signs are for fireworks stands. Often times these places are open 24-hours, which is even more inexplicable than the fact that you can make a living selling fireworks. How often does one have a fireworks emergency at 2:00am?
Billboards for Jesus were also very popular. These I don't understand... they give you a message, but no follow-up? No church you should visit? No advice to read The Bible? Nothing? I guess these are just reminders in case Christians forget or something?
Just in case you're driving down the highway and decide you need a gun on the spur of the moment? Or maybe you left your firearm at home and need to pick one up along the way to grandma's house? I'm guessing it's more likely there for men on their way home to a cheating wife or women on their way home to a cheating husband.
Some billboards need a little extra attention. A life-size dinosaur apparently does the trick.
While technically not a billboard, I thought this was kind of nifty. A Christian cowboy who wants everybody to know that he's a Christian cowboy perhaps? Note that the horse is not kneeling down. Obviously he's some kind of satan-worshipping atheist or something.
• MEGA! On Tuesday morning, our group decided not to rush back to Atlanta and instead decided to hang around Louisville for the day. First stop? MEGA CAVERN! It's an impossibly massive man-made cavern that has actually been back-filled so that the ceiling isn't 90-feet in the air and they can actually run a business there. Tourists, of course, can also go on a tram ride around the place...
Into the mouth of the MEGA CAVERN!!!
Before going on the trams, there are signs like this to make you feel safer about descending into the bowels of the earth.
At one time, MEGA CAVERN was designated a massive fallout shelter in the event of nuclear war. The dioramas they had depicting life underground was so depressing that I'd rather run to ground zero and die a quick death.
But, if you think a miserable life underground would be better than death, then you're in luck! For $10,000 per person, you can reserve a spot!
• Slugger! And, of course, what would a visit to Louisville be without a visit to the Louisville Slugger factory and museum?...
My, what a big bat you have!
Just like MEGA CAVERN, the museum using dioramas to help explain their history.
SEATTLE REPRESENT! Even if it is just a creepy lifelike statue of Ken Griffey Jr.
You can see famous Louisville Slugger bats from all kinds of baseball players old and new... including Babe Ruth!
• Balls! If you ever find yourself in Louisville at Fat Jimmy's Pizza, his Hot Buttered Balls are highly recommended!
And that catches me up through yesterday. Tomorrow? PART TWO! Which will hopefully get me caught up through today. Or one would hope.
Posted on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
And here's the finale of my "Bullet Sunday on Tuesday" post from yesterday...
• Corvette! One of my favorite museums on the planet is the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. While I am not a gear-head nor am I a Corvette owner, I have had a long-time love affair with these rolling works of art for as long as I can remember. This is not my first trip to the museum, but my fourth, and they seem to have added on since I was here last...
If you're ever in the area, I give the National Corvette Museum two thumbs up.
• Wreckage! On the way up to Louisville this past Sunday, we saw two wrecks. One was quite severe, with the car flipped completely over the guard-rail, standing almost vertical. For the life of me I couldn't figure out how it happened, because it appeared that the car hit the railing head-on, which was impossible. Coming back yesterday afternoon, we saw another vehicle run off the road at a bizarre head-on angle. This time a fuel tanker!
Since you could smell the gasoline, I was shocked that they were still allowing traffic through. It seemed as though the truck could have blown at any minute (though that might be something that happens in the movies more often than real life). But however it managed to hit how it did, I can't help but wonder how it happened. Are people playing video games on their iPhones while they drive? Texting? Sexting? What?!? All these weird accidents are making me near-terrified to drive anymore. If they can hit the guard rails so hard to bust through or flip over, heaven only knows what would happen if they ran into my car.
• Work It! I spent my entire day locked-up in my hotel room working. The only time I left was to eat dinner, which was at the hotel restaurant. As expected, it was awful. For some reason they just can't seem to put good eateries in hotels. This is borderline-tragic for frequent travelers who don't have time to go hunting for an outside restaurant, since it means you're eating a lot of crappy food over the years. I know I've certainly had my share. I'd like to promise myself that I won't make this mistake ever again, but I know better. Pepto-Bismol here I come...
And now I'm caught up to today. Sometimes miracles happen.
Posted on Thursday, July 14th, 2011
Lack of sleep is starting to have an effect...
Posted on Friday, July 15th, 2011
Lack of sleep is starting to have an effect...
Posted on Saturday, July 16th, 2011
Lack of sleep is starting to have an effect...
Posted on Sunday, July 17th, 2011
I write this knowing full-well that I won't be able to publish it until Monday since I don't have internet. Oh well, I guess it's bullets on delay.
• Marriott. Playing Priceline Roulette for an airport at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Aiport South region almost always results in one of two properties... Westin or Marriott. Though I seem better suited to the Westin, the Marriott has a lot going for it (best hotel shuttle ever!), so I wasn't at all disappointed I ended up here on Friday night. About the only thing I don't care for is the hotel restaurant. Not that it's bad... I've never gotten sick there or anything... I'm just not partial to the food. So I Yelped for nearby restaurants, and found one right at the back of the hotel. In fact, I could see it out my window. Pulling it up on Google Maps it looks like this...
Simple, right? Just walk out the back of the hotel, cut through the tennis courts, then cross a street.
Well, no. Not really.
• Entrapment, Part One. The tennis courts were closed and gated off for some reason. No big deal, I'll just walk around. But, no, the back gates to the hotel were locked off completely...
Irritating, but I guess that's how you keep random people who are not hotel guests from using your pool, so okay.
• Entrapment, Part Two. Since I can't go through the hotel, I'll just go around it, right? WRONG! There's a big ol' locked fence at the back of the hotel lot!
• Entrapment, Part Three. So this means the ONLY way to get to a restaurant that's within spitting distance of the hotel, is to completely exit the hotel property and walk all the way around...
Which sucks, right? But that's not even the worst part. Not only does the Marriott block you from leaving their property out the back... THERE'S NO FUCKING SIDEWALKS SO YOU CAN ESCAPE OUT THE FRONT EITHER!!
Here's your sidewalk, muthafucker! All six inches of it, bitch!
What the fuck? I mean, seriously, WHAT THE FUCK?!? All I can think of is that they don't want you to leave unless you drive out. Any attempt to walk out of the fucking place means you either have to climb a fence or walk down a dangerous driveway with no sidewalks and cars bombing up and down at reckless speeds all day long. How fucking stupid is that?
• Dinner! And so I finally manage to get to the restaurant... Joe's on Sullivan... after wandering around the Marriott's property for a half-hour trying not to get run over and killed. How was it? Well, the service was decent. The food was okay, though my "black bean burger" was falling apart so badly it was hard to eat and the potato salad tasted like it came from a can. But, overall I was happy to have made the effort to get there.
Until I started getting cramps on my way back to the hotel...
• Distress. By the time I managed to get back to my room, my stomach was in turmoil and I was sweating so bad that it was dripping down my face. All I wanted to do was lie down, but I had to take a quick detour to the bathroom so my intestines and stomach could explode... FOR THE NEXT SIXTEEN HOURS! In all honesty, I have no idea where it all came from. I'm confident I crapped and puked my entire body weight three times over, but it would not stop. Any attempt to keep down medication was futile, because it would just come right back up. And then, just as I was considering calling for a ride to a hospital... I passed out. When I woke up, I was really queasy, but at least I wasn't leaking bodily fluids any more.
• Stung. Since I got off work early and had an entire Saturday free, my plan was to spend the day in downtown Atlanta goofing off, then go to Johnny Rockets for dinner. Around noon yesterday, I pulled myself together and took the hotel shuttle to the airport so I could ride MARTA rail into town. But I didn't make it any further than the airport. I was feeling so awful that just the thought of 25 minutes on a train was enough to make me want to die. So I got a mini pizza from the airport atrium, then went back to the shuttle stop... WHERE I WAS STUNG BY A BEE! Right on my hand. Which caused my finger to swell up like a baloon. Could things get any worse?
• Worse. Why yes, things can get worse! I get back to my hotel room so I can finalize the next issue of Thrice Fiction Magazine (which is amazing... you have no idea) only to find that typing with my bee-stung hand is excruciating. On top of that, lunch seems to have made me sick all over again, because I can barely sit upright without feeling like I'm going to puke my guts out. So there I am... laying in bed rolled in a ball, typing one-handed on my laptop on a Saturday night.
• Worser. I could go into greater detail, but suffice to say that my Sunday went like this... 1) Wake up sick. Still. 2) Find out my headphones are broke. 3) See that my finger isn't swollen anymore, but it aches worse than ever. 4) Have to sit next to a gum-smacking whore on the hotel shuttle back to the airport. 5) Find out my flight is delayed, and I might be missing my connecting flight in Seattle. 6) Somebody opens a can of fish on the plane, which already smells like somebody peed on the floor. 7) Arrive with time to spare to catch your connecting flight, but find out it's clear across the airport. 8) Finally make it back home, but find out your luggage didn't. 9) Arrive home and find out that the internet isn't working. 10) Finally get to my own bed after a week of very little sleep, only to find that I can't fall asleep. Best. Sunday. Ever.
And on that happy note, I suppose I should take some drugs to see if I can force myself to sleep. That aught to make for a fun Monday-morning at work...
Posted on Monday, July 18th, 2011
The second issue of Thrice Fiction Magazine was completed this weekend. There are a few small details to wrap up that we're trying to get resolved as quickly as possible, but hopefully it'll be ready to launch in a day or two. Everything turned out seriously awesome, so RW and I can't wait for everybody to get their retinas on it.
In the meanwhile, I'll go ahead and tease you with the cover like RW did yesterday...
Yes. Yes, I know. Beautiful, isn't it?
The incomparable Echo Chernik allowed us to use her amazing art on the cover. Just like the theme for the issue, it's perfect.
Posted on Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
Getting a whole six hours sleep last night (pharmaceutically-induced, alas) was everything I dreamed it would be.
Anyway, just a few things I keep forgetting to review...
• Chilly Pad! A while back I was shopping for a soldier at AnySoldier.com (which I talk about here and here) when I was told about a product by Frogg Toggs called "Chilly Pad." It was billed as some kind of "cooling towel" that sucks the heat away via evaporation. That sounded like a load of crap to me, but who am I to deny a soldier something to make his life easier... especially if it only costs $12? Just for kicks, I ordered one for myself too.
Imagine my shock when, holy crap, it actually works!
Just pour some water on it and be amazed as the super-evaporation cells go to work, causing the darn thing to become cool to the touch! Amazing! For the ultimate test, I wore one around my neck on my trip to Waverly Hills where there was a heat index of 105° and was pretty darn comfortable the entire time. I now keep one in the trunk of my car and will always have them on hand to send with my AnySoldier care packages. Worth checking out! I got mine at Sports Authority, but I'm sure they're available other places too.
• Spotify! Europeans have been enjoying the music mega-service Spotify for years, but Americans have been left out. Until now. For those unfamiliar, Spotify has a massively huge database of music available for streaming. In order to get at it, you have to sign up for an account. Free accounts are ad-supported and have a song limit. Unlimited accounts ($4.99/mo.) are ad-free, allow unlimited songs to be streamed, and have added sharing and organizational features. Premium accounts ($9.99/mo.) have even more features (like the ability to listen offline and stream to your mobile phone) and better sound quality. Free accounts weren't available yet, so I went for the $4.99/mo. Unlimited package.
The biggest selling point of Spotify is that they have a plain crazy-huge collection of songs. They pretty much boast that they have any track you want...
Except they really don't. There are many songs both obscure and popular I wanted to listen to which aren't available. That alone is a bummer, but what makes it unbearable is that a big chunk of their library is karaoke versions of songs, and every frickin' search you make is literally overwhelmed with karaoke crap I have absolutely no interest in.
Here's an example. Today I wanted to listen to Miley Cyrus's The Time of Our Lives (don't judge until you listen to it... it's a nice song!). Spotify doesn't have it available. What they do have is four karaoke versions...
WTF? And it gets worse when you do more generic searches like "Hall & Oates" where you get all kinds of karaoke shit mixed in. After a while, I figured out that you can do restrictive searches to cut out karaoke. Well, most karaoke... not all karaoke songs are described properly...
This should be an option in preferences to get rid of karaoke tracks if you don't want to see them, but I couldn't find one so I have to instead add "-karaoke" to every search, which is a pain in the ass. Other irritations? The Spotify app is clutzy and unintuitive compared to the iTunes interface I'm used to. I've also experienced "outages" of a sort, where certain artists simply will not play. Today I tried for quite a while to listen to Weird Al's new Alpocalypse album without success.
As you might guess, my final verdict is more negative than positive. I will be happy to keep my free account for occasional ad-supported listening, but I'm going to cancel my $4.99 "Unlimited" membership. Perhaps eventually they'll address my issues and I'll find it worthwhile, but for now I'm giving it a pass.
• Suits! Burn Notice. White Collar. Covert Affairs. Fairly Legal. Psych. When it comes to successes, USA Network has a pretty good track record for airing some really good television shows. Because of this, I'm willing to give any new show they come up with a shot. Their latest, Suits, sounded good on paper... but I wasn't sure how it was going to play out on the screen...
The story premise is that of a very smart guy with a photographic memory, Mike Ross (played by Patrick J. Adams) who tries to escape his dicey past by going to work at a prestigious law firm. He passed the bar on a dare, but doesn't have a law degree. His new boss (played by Gabriel Macht) is impressed enough to hire him anyway. The result is an uneasy partnership that is beneficial to both of them, even if they have to hide Mike's true nature from everybody at the firm.
And it works.
It works very well.
The cast is fantastic (Gina Torres!), the writing is sharp, the stories are smart, and the show as a whole is entertaining. My only concern is how long they can keep the premise interesting. Will people eventually find out about Mike? Will his scary past catch up with him? In all honesty, it doesn't really matter, and I hope they don't keep hanging the show on them when there's no need to do so.
Right now? Highly recommended. Only time will tell if they can keep it that way.
• Fotopedia! If you're a fan of travel photography and have an iOS device, run... don't walk... to the iTunes Store and grab everything you can from Fotonauts. Their Fotopedia apps have always been great, but the new stuff they've been cranking out has been amazing. North Korea (free) and Dreams of Burma (free) are well worth your time... but their latest collaboration with National Geographic, Above France ($2.99) is stunning...
They work on iPhone but, obviously, have a better presentation on iPad. Highest possible recommendation.
And now... bed. And hopefully another night of half-way decent sleep.
Posted on Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
And so Apple released the latest iteration of their Macintosh operating system, MacOS X 10.7 "Lion."
As a Certified Apple Whore, I am compelled to blog about it. But it's kind of a silly prospect, because other sites have done such a comprehensive job of going over the features. What I think I'll do is just go over some of the things I really like and really hate. Starting... NOW!
• Installer. In a move that harkens back to the day that Apple decided to abandon the floppy disk with the iMac... then abandon the CD drive with the MacBook Air... Apple has abandoned the media for distributing Lion at $29. No installation CDs or DVDs... you buy the upgrade directly from the Mac App Store (though apparently there's a USB thumb-drive version coming in August for $69). This gave me some pause, but I had TWO full backups, so I just rolled with it. Everything went flawlessly. There's even some wizardry in the background to give you a "magical" partition on your drive so you have an emergency backup available if something goes wrong since there's no DVD to boot from. Nice! Eventually I probably will burn a DVD and do a clean install just to clear out some junk I've accumulated over the years, but overall, things couldn't have gone better.
SIMPLICITY FACTOR? 9.9 (out of 10)
• Fuller. One idea that I've historically hated is the idea of an app taking over the entire screen. It just "feels" wrong to not be able to see and manipulate stuff in other windows while you're in the current window. But after playing with iPhone and iPad for a while, you just get used to it. And now I actually prefer it. Yes, it makes things like "drag-and-drop" impossible, but the tradeoff is that you get maximum screen real estate to work with. On a cramped laptop, that's gold! Lion provides developers the ability to make their apps go full-screen with the click of a button. As of now, only Apple seems to have the feature baked in, but hopefully other apps will be getting the ability to go full-boat soon. HOWEVER... there is one small, yet highly frustrating, problem. When you go full-screen, the menu bar disappears. To get it back, you put your cursor at the top of the screen... AND WAIT AND WAIT AND WAIT AND WAIT! Well, that's an exaggeration, kind-of, but if I need my fucking menu bar, I NEED IT NOW, dammit! I have no idea if this is because of some animation going on or what, but it completely sabotages the usefulness of going full-screen.
It is absolutely ridiculous that you don't have an option to "Always Show Menu Bar" for full-screen apps! There's some useful shit up there... like a clock... and your battery level... and all kinds of stuff I want to be able to look at. But you can't until you shove your mouse up there and wait. And wait. And wait.
IDIOCY FACTOR? 10 (out of 10)
• Gestures. The "new school" way of providing computer input is "gestures," which is done by swiping, pinching, rotating, and performing other motions on a touch-screen or touch-pad or track-pad or touch-mouse. The iPhone and iPad have used stuff like this since day one. Want to shrink a photo? Pinch it! Want to enlarge a photo? Stretch it! I find such input to be natural, intuitive, and efficient. Apple obviously agrees, because they've expanded the use of gestures in a very big way. There's lots of them...
And, let me tell you, once you get used to gestures, you will never want to go back. Just having the ability to swipe with two fingers to go backwards and forwards through browsing history without having to move the cursor up to a button you press... well, it's genius...
I am adapting to the gestures very, very quickly. I love them. A lot. So much, that I will be buying a "Magic Track-Pad" for my desktop Mac.
AWESOME FACTOR? 9.9 (out of 10)
• Mission Control. Apple has done a really cool thing in combining "Spaces" (virtual desktops), "Dashboard" (widgets), full-screen apps, and open windows into a single interface called "Mission Control"...
And, thanks to gestures, it's always available! Just swipe up with three fingers and BLAM! there it is! In theory, I like it a lot. In practice? Not so much. Partly because its kind of a mess to take in all at once... but mostly because YOU CANNOT FUCKING REARRANGE YOUR "SPACES" VIRTUAL DESKTOPS! They're just stuck there. This sabotages the usefulness of another gesture I love... swiping right and left with three fingers to switch between your full-screen apps and your virtual desktops. Have ten Spaces open and want to arrange them so that you can swipe between them with the most efficiency? TOUGH SHIT! You can't! You have to swipe through nine fucking screens to get back and forth between two that you'd really like to have next to each other. Your only choices when configuring the arrangement of Spaces in preferences is whether you want them auto-arranged or not. NO option to manually arrange them.
DUMBASSERY FACTOR? 8.8 (out of 10)
• Save Me. The "Save File" dialog box is now hopelessly fucked for productivity. It used to be that you option-clicked on an existing filename in the dialog, and you would get that filename automatically populated in your filename save field. This is handy for overwriting a current file... but more useful as a way of modifying an exiting filename into a new filename (e.g. clicking on "BigFile_001.jpg" so you can save a file as "BigFile002.jpg". ANYWAY... now you just click on the filename instead of option-clicking, which is no big deal. But in MacOS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, the system highlighted the filename automatically (sans extension) so you could very quickly overwrite the name OR hit the right-arrow to add/change characters at the end to create the new filename. Now? Not so much. No text is automatically selected for you, so hitting the right-arrow key inexplicably sends you into whatever folder you're on. But even worse than all that? It takes FOREVER for your files to show up in the browser. (UPDATE! See below)
TIME-WASTING FACTOR? 9.2 (out of 10)
• Lag. UPDATE: Apparently the horrible performance lag was due to two things... my Mac re-indexing the drive for Spotlight searches and the presence of MacFUSE on my system (which is supposedly not yet compatible with 64-bit Lion). In addition to the delays you find when waiting for the menu bar to appear in full-screen apps and the file browser to be populated in the save dialog box... there are several other areas. So many things just seem... slow. It used to be you'd press the space bar to preview with QuickLook and a window would appear instantly. Now? There's a huge delay. A delay so long that I'd argue it's probably faster to just double-click on the damn thing to open it in an app. It goes on and on (just try opening a Finder window so you can count the SECONDS it takes for the files to show up). Again, this may be due to the fancy animations going on, I don't know, but it is absolutely UNFORGIVABLE. Why the fuck would you make an operating system slower so people are waiting around all the time? It's a productivity killer on a massive scale because all those wasted seconds add up. This alone has me hesitating to recommend the Lion upgrade... if, like me, you YOU WANT TO GET SHIT DONE! This is so very, very frustrating.
STUPIDITY FACTOR? 38.6 (out of 10)
• Dock. Some freaky-ass stuff is going on with the way applications are run. Part of this has to do with the way Lion is taking control of your apps to better manage resources. If it's running low on memory, it can now tell an app you aren't using to quit itself. Then, when you need it again, Lion will reopen it exactly in the state it was in when it told the app to quit. I don't necessarily have a problem with this, but... it's not working right. You now have a choice whether the Dock displays a little light under running apps, but it's lighting up under apps which I've quit before a logout. Other times it refuses to light up apps I've just run. It's irritating. There's an option to turn off the indicator light, but I like to have it... when it works.
CONFUSION FACTOR? 5.7 (out of 10)
• Login. I have no fucking clue how Apple ended up with one of the ugliest login screens I have ever seen... and I'm including DOS-based logins from the 1980's. How the fuck can Apple, who is so sensitive to beauty in design, botch something so badly?
This is a crappy photograph of a crappy login, because I can't take a snapshot of it directly.
Everything about it is off. The circular pictures with the high-gloss reflections are tacky as hell. The "linen" background is boring as fuck. The Apple logo is wandering and distracting. The buttons are diminutive and lost. Everything about this piece of shit design screams amateur hour, and I cannot believe that His Holiness Steve Jobs okayed this. I've come to expect shit like this from Microsoft. But I am both disgusted and deeply saddened to see it coming from Apple. And so THIS is what I have to look at every morning when I start my day at work now? Why? WHY, LORD, WHY?!?
UGLINESS FACTOR? 18.2 (out of 10)
• Backwards. In an effort to make window scrolling act more like an iPad, Apple has introduced "natural" scrolling in Lion. The idea is that you click and pull window content in the direction you want it to move... just as if your mouse pointer was your finger. It seems like a smart idea, but it doesn't work... at least not for me. On an iPad, my finger is moving the actual content. On a Mac, my finger is moving a pointer which, in turn, moves scroll bars. From this perspective, using "natural" scrolling is backwards from how it should be and is, in fact, not "natural" at all. I turned it off after only an hour because I could not see myself getting used to it, nor training my brain to make sense of it. If I ever get a touch-screen on my Mac, then sure. But now? No thanks.
BIZARRE FACTOR? 8.0 (out of 10)
• Dash. Apple's widget repository, which they call Dashboard, is a nice feature that I use all the time. My "Dashboard" is filled with widgets which do everything from give me the weather forecast to track packages to taking notes to dozens of other things that widgets let you do. But not is all wine and roses in WidgetLand. The first time you open Dashboard, you have to WAIT AND WAIT AND WAIT AND WAIT for the widgets to activate. Subsequent access is still slow, but not horribly so. It's always been like this but, for some reason, I really thought they would address it in Lion. I'm sure it's a memory thing (why waste resources if somebody isn't going to even use Dashboard?) but I am ALWAYS using Dashboard, and the waiting drives me insane. If that wasn't enough, Apple changed some of the widgets so they're uglier. The font in calculator doesn't even frickin' fit in the display properly.
BOREDOM FACTOR? 5.1 (out of 10)
• Mail. If there's one program in OS X that I borderline hate, it's Apple Mail. It sucks on so many levels that I end up wanting to punch my computer at least once a day. It's slow. It's illogical. It's stupid (functionality-wise). It's unbearably frustrating for anybody who does more with email than just the basics. Well, Lion's new-and-improved Mail is, in fact, new-and-improved in many ways... but still kind of stupid in others. You get a new GMail-inspired "conversation view" but it ONLY displays your replies if they were written on the computer you're using! It doesn't matter if you have IMAP and store messages on a server for ALL your computers... Mail completely ignores anything you replied with when using other machines. This is almost laughable in just how fucking stupid it is. At first I thought it was my fault... I had stuff configured differently between them so Mail couldn't figure it out. But I use iSync, so that can't be the reason. So why? Did nobody TEST for this? Inexplicable bullshit like this drives me fucking crazy. Hopefully I'll eventually get it figured out, because right now "conversation view" is less than useless when it's incomplete. And yet... there are other things. Other cool things. I LOVE LOVE LOVE being able to flag mail with different colors. That's been a LONG time coming since I had this in every MacOS 9 mail app I ever used in the 80's and 90's! I still have a lot of exploring to do but, in the meanwhile, color me half-impressed.
INDECISIVE FACTOR? 5.0 (out of 10)
• Miscellany. I've only been using Lion for half-a-day, so this is going to be a really incomplete list. Some things I haven't experienced yet... like auto-file-versioning, AirDrop file sharing, and some of the security features. Other things I've run across have been cool, but not yet explored. Like the new three-finger-double-click to get a contextual dictionary...
And the hold-key character-picker...
And the three-finger-pinch Application Launcher "Launchpad" which is SO much nicer than digging through the Applications Folder...
Still other things are just plain crazy... like the new-and-unimproved tiny-ass window control buttons...
Annnd... there's a lot more... I really like the new "All My Files" view available in the Finder windows. The whole-disk encryption is a godsend for somebody who travels all the time like me. There's additions to iCal and Address Book that help them not to suck so terribly. There's tiny little improvements everywhere that are nice. For the most part. I just wish Apple had taken a little more time to get rid of those frustrating changes and omissions that can make the OS less than what it could be.
AND FOR FUCKS SAKE, GET RID OF ALL THE LAG-TIME THAT MAKES ME WANT TO PULL MY HAIR OUT EVERY TIME I OPEN A FUCKING WINDOW!
FINAL SCORE? 7.5 (out of 10)
Posted on Thursday, July 21st, 2011
I am writing my Thursday post on Friday morning.
Not because I wanted to or I ran out of time... but because I had to. After a full day-and-a-half with Apple's new "MacOS X Lion" installed, I started experiencing one catastrophic system failure after another. For no discernible reason, the program I was using would suddenly lock up, followed shortly thereafter by the entire system. I'd then have to do a complete power-down and reboot. Again and again. I have tried disabling every extra system extension I can find, but nothing I try does any good.
I have no clue what's going wrong. I think it had to do with the file system crashing at random and taking my entire computer with it. Most crashes happen when I am trying to load/save, but not always. This morning my MacBook crashed when I was adding an attachment to an email. I pulled up the file browser to select the files and... nothing...
After a few minutes of Mail going non-responsive, the program fails...
After a few more minutes, the Finder and everything else goes non-responsive. The system has died.
I've got a 2.53 GHz Core Duo MacBook with 4 GB RAM, so my machine is more than capable of upgrading to Lion. And yet... something is going wrong. Some hidden extension that I've got installed somewhere is not compatible. Or so I'm guessing. All I can say for certain is that I have lost an entire evening's work because of this crap.
Guess today I get to do a Clean Install.
My hope is that this will not only stop the crashing... but also solve the riddle of my slow-to-respond file system that I was bitching about yesterday.
I guess sometimes Apple doesn't "just work."
Posted on Friday, July 22nd, 2011
Still having MacOS X Lion issues. By getting rid of all the system extensions and preference panes I can find, everything is a lot more responsive... but I am still getting random errors and crashes. The problems hit hardest when using Adobe Creative Suite apps, particularly with loading and saving files. It's entirely possible that it's nothing related to Adobe... it just seems that way since that's what I'm using 95% of the time... but it's a serious enough problem that I would advise anybody using their Mac for serious work to hold off with Lion until things stabilize a bit.
Anyway... it's come a little later than we had hoped, but the second issue of Thrice Fiction has just been released. You can learn all about it (and get your FREE copy!) at the Thrice website.
And here's a peek at the visuals from the great stories we're featuring this issue...
Intrigued? Then go grab a FREE copy and check it out!
Posted on Saturday, July 23rd, 2011
People can make fun of Amy Winehouse and mock her death as much as they want. It won't change the fact that she was a remarkable artist who created music that a great many people, including myself, really loved. A month ago I was lamenting that she hadn't come out with a new album in five years and was crossing my fingers that something would be released soon. Now, it saddens me greatly that anything we get... if anything at all... will be released posthumously.
I am not going to deny that she had serious problems and did some crazy shit. Amy was a very troubled and tortured person, and dealt with it the best way she knew how. Unfortunately that involved a lot of abusive behavior that would be tough for anybody to survive. But not one bit of it made me enjoy her music any less. Because no matter how out-of-control and batshit crazy she was in her personal life, in her songs she made perfect sense.
I'd say that I will miss her music, but the truth is her music isn't going anywhere. I just wish so badly she would have stuck around to make more of it. And, on that note, my favorite of so many favorites...
The rest of my day was $600 in repair costs for my car's brakes.
Hanging out with my sister on a flawless afternoon.
Meeting up with some remarkable Pacific Northwest bloggers.
Life is the bittersweet joy and hurt of it all. I am so incredibly blessed to have friends and family to make even my worst days good again.
Oh how I wish Amy Winehouse could have found the same.
Posted on Sunday, July 24th, 2011
It's Bullet Sunday on rails, baby!
• Oslo. I can't really find the words to express my deep sorrow for the people of Norway and the beautiful city of Oslo during the recent tragedies there. I was lucky enough to have visited the city back in 2008, where I met up with one of my long-time blogging friends and spent some time seeing the sights. I dream of returning one day so I can visit the fjord-laden coast and have some more of the best guacamole I've ever had.
My hopes are with Norway as they recover from such senseless tragedy.
• Comic Con. While I love the idea of Comic Con, the reality is just not something I can enjoy. The drastically over-sell the event, so you spend most of your time in massive crowds waiting in lines. HOWEVER... the idea of Joss Whedon making The Avengers film fills me with such happiness that I think I would have totally endured the trauma in order to sit in on that panel. But seeing the beautiful interlocking poster set Marvel has released is really the next best thing...
So cannot wait until May, 2012. This is literally a fanboy's dream come true.
• LEGO Heroes. And SPEAKING of super-heroes... earlier this week I saw that LEGO now has licenses to make sets for both the Marvel and DC line of comics! Is it too much to hope that a LEGO Heroes video game is in the works?
More images can be found over at Comics Alliance!
• Thriceful! Just a quick thank you to everybody who has made time to take a look at the latest issue of Thrice Fiction and send such nice comments! It makes all the hard work worthwhile. See you again in November...
(and if you haven't grabbed your free copy yet, what's stopping you?)
• Lovely. And lastly, before I go, a big congratulations to New York for taking a huge step towards equality for all. Some people have been waiting their entire lives for the opportunity to be married, and I couldn't be happier for them to have their chance at last...
It's been a long, long time coming. And yet there's still so much further to go.
Good night, Sunday.
Posted on Monday, July 25th, 2011
And so I'm driving home after a very long day when some dumbass zips out in front of me, causing me to slam on my brand new brakes. After they pull their head out of their ass and realize what they've done, they stick their hand out their car window and wave. Like that makes everything all better. Except it really doesn't. I am sick to death of people NOT PAYING ATTENTION WHILE DRIVING! An automobile is a deadly piece of equipment that demands a driver's attention... why people are unwilling to do this is a mystery to me. It's only a matter of time before somebody ends up dead, so WTF?
What's so bizarre is that my 115-mile drive home this morning in the pouring rain was without incident. It wasn't until I made the 1-mile drive home from work with no rain that I had to deal with this crap.
Now that the debt ceiling fiasco is approaching meltdown, I suppose I should form some kind of opinion on it. Which is kind of difficult, because I just don't give a flying fuck. Shit is going to happen one way or another, there's nothing I can do about it, and so I'm like... whatever...
All I know is that President Obama has caved so badly that he might as well be running as a Republican in the upcoming election... and House Speaker John Boehner won't compromise on anything. Which is why I didn't bother to listen to the speeches tonight. All I needed to know was summed up on Twitter by Deus Ex Malcontent, Chez Pazienza...
So nothing has changed then?
In science news, A group led by Professor Shengwang Du at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, claims to have proven that a single photon can’t break the speed of light in a vacuum. This was accomplished when they "generated a pair of photons, and passed one of the pair through a group of laser-cooled rubidium atoms, taking advantage of an effect called electromagnetically induced transparency." This apparently allowed them to observe the “optical precursor” that is shoved ahead of the photon, determining that it was limited by the speed of light and could not surpass it in a vacuum.
Of course, all their thinking and supposition is based on a model where universal laws remain constant, and doesn't consider that a vacuum environment can be created where Einsteinian causality doesn't apply, but whatever. Go ahead and make baseless claims about how the universe works without even the tiniest of understanding of how it's constructed. No big deal.
Posted on Tuesday, July 26th, 2011
There are four streets I drive on to get to work.
Two of them are closed for construction. This basically means that I have to take two detours twice a day. For the most part, I don't mind, because it's (supposedly) going to make it easier to get from
As inconvenient as the detours were this morning, that wasn't the most irritating thing about my commute. That would be the mommy-jogger-walkers.
These inconsiderate morons jog down the street THREE-WIDE pushing GIANT STROLLERS. One of them on the sidewalk, two on the street. This alone blocks both foot and auto traffic in one direction... but they don't stop there. They are also WALKING THEIR DOGS, which are wandering all over the place, making them even more of an obstruction.
I didn't have my phone handy as I was forced to follow them down the road. Instead I had to take a picture of them down the street after I parked...
Now, in this photo, the two on the left are jogging single-file because a car was revving up behind them wanting to pass. But when I was behind them, they were side-by-side, effectively blocking the entire lane and not even attempting to share the road. I ended up having to wait for a break in oncoming traffic so I could go around them.
Far be it for me to berate somebody for trying to stay fit... but what a bunch of assholes.
It wouldn't be so bad if they were all jogging single-file on the side of the road... or if they were JOGGING THE SPEED LIMIT... but oh no! They totally don't give a shit that they are taking over THE ENTIRE STREET and causing a backlog of traffic. They're more important than people trying to get to work in the morning, so they just say a big FUCK YOU to motorists and do whatever the hell they want.
Which makes me wonder how long it will be before some pissed off person who's late for work runs them all