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11:11-1-1-11

Posted on Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Dave!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...

  • Try a Pop-Tart flavor I've never had before. DONE! Vanilla Milkshake. I agree with Poppy... truly horrible.
  • Travel somewhere I've never been before. DONE! Traveled to Alkmaar, Bucharest, Prague, Malta, Tunisia, Corsica, Portofino, Monaco, and the Amalfi Coast.
  • Visit a Hard Rock Cafe I haven't seen before. DONE! Visited Malta Cafe, Valletta Bar, Albuquerque Hotel, Tulsa Hotel, Hollywood Blvd. Cafe, Berlin 2 Cafe, Prague Cafe, and Bucharest Cafe.
  • Drink a beer I've never drank before. DONE! I drank several new beers, but the most memorable was the Watermelon Wheat Beer by 5 Seasons West in Atlanta.
  • Get another Apple product. DONE! iPhone 4, Apple TV, iPad (which I gave to my mom).

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...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey celebrate 2011

   
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...

  1. Collecting Hard Rock stuff.
  2. Creating DaveToon products for Artificial Duck Co.
  3. Writing fiction.
  4. Drawing pictures and comics.
  5. Keeping secrets.

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)...

Dave in his Hard Rock Vault Orlando Shirt!

   
• 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.

   

Bullet Sunday 213

Posted on Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Dave!"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...

Steve Buscemi as Nucky

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...

Summer Glau as a Terminator

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...

Summer Glau in The Cape

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!!

Microsoft Flying DeLorean

   
• NEW OUTLOOK! I promise myself that I will be 50% less critical of Microsoft this year, because I know everybody it tired of hearing it.

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 Xbox 720 (or whatever) up their sleeves so that SUPER Wii (or whatever) and ÜBER PLAYSTATION 1,000,000 (or whatever) doesn't come along and eat their lunch. Sure they released Kinect last year to freshen things up and let you control your Xbox via dancing, but that's hardly revolutionary like the Wii was. God only knows what Nintendo, the real innovators in entertainment technology, are cooking up next.

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...

Star Wars Ranking

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!

   

Evolution, Part One

Posted on Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Dave!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...

Blogography Gowalla 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.

Lil' Dave Evolution

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...

Lil' Dave Evolution

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...

Lil' Dave Evolution

   
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...

Lil' Dave Evolution

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...

Lil' Dave Evolution

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...

Lil' Dave Evolution

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...

Lil' Dave Evolution

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...

Lil' Dave Evolution

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...

Lil' Dave Evolution

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...

Lil' Dave Evolution

And that's how the characters would stay for nearly a year.

   
Tune in tomorrow for the exciting finale...

  • See how Dave became Lil' Dave!
  • Watch Bad Monkey get even badder!
  • Everybody gets bodies!
  • Lil' Dave gets hands!
  • Bad Monkey goes on a diet!
  • Things get animated!
  • And NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN images of Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey in 3-D!

Can you feel the excitement? Can you? Well I'll see you tomorrow then!

   

Evolution, Part Two

Posted on Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Dave!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...

Dave Cafe Business Card

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...

Bad Monkey!

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...

Lil' Dave Evolution

And the site went live in April with Toon Dave doing all kinds of interesting stuff...

DaveCafe v3.0

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)...

Toon Nudity

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...

Dave Lip Sync

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...

Bi-Curious George

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...

Best Friends

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...

Lil' Dave and Lil' Snackie in Polaroids!

   
After that? Well, I briefly played around with animation again...

MonkeytestoutJumptestout

...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.

   

Evolution, Part Three

Posted on Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Dave!At long last... PART THREE 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... and then Part Two is right here.

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...

  1. I wanted to create vinyl dolls of Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey to sell at the Artificial Duck Co. store. The company in China I was working with needed a 3-D model of them in order to create the molds.
  2. A guy who was in school studying video game programming wanted to make a game with my characters for his graduation project. If I could get him 3-D models of Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey and then design texture maps for all the backgrounds and in-game items, he would compile the game for Mac and Windows when he was done, then let me distribute it for free on Blogography.

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...

Bad Monkey 3-D Image ONE.

Bad Monkey 3-D Image TWO.

Bad Monkey 3-D Image THREE.

   
Pretty sweet, huh? It took a LOT of back-and-forth with the animator to translate a 2-D character into the third dimension, but I was very happy with the results. He looks exactly like Bad Monkey should look. And really cute too. I wanted a vinyl doll of him to sit on my desk really, really bad.

And then there's Lil' Dave. Who needed to start out naked with no hair for video game reasons I'll explain later...

Lil' Dave 3-D Image ONE.

Lil' Dave 3-D Image TWO.

Lil' Dave 3-D Image THREE.

And here he is with clothes. The hair wasn't finished exactly right at this point, but it was getting close...

Lil' Dave 3-D Image FOUR.

   

So the models look great, what's the story?

   

THE DOLLS.
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.

   

Evolution, Part Four

Posted on Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Dave!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)...

Vinyl Doll Variants

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...

  • CLASSIC DAVETOONS! These would be the "classic" look that shows up most of the times on my blog (i.e. Lil' Dave is wearing a yellow shirt and blue pants). Was designated 60% of my order, and would have been sold at-cost.
  • ZOMBIE DAVETOONS! These would be the same dolls, but painted in blue-gray tones with mis-matched "zombie eyes." The eyes would have been 100% "glow-in-the-dark" paint that would glow an eerie green. I had asked if the "glow-in-the-dark" stuff could be added to the other colors so they would glow slightly, but never heard back. These would have been 25% of my order and sold for "above-cost" with any funds going to a charity. I would have also used them for give-aways and promotions at Blogography.
  • CUSTOM DAVETOONS! These are the same dolls, but completely un-painted. They would have been for the collector's market where custom-paint-jobs on vinyl are often made and re-sold. They would have been 15% of my order, and be sold for "full price" with any profits going to help pay for the model tooling and such.

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...

DrawSummary.png

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...

   

Punishment

Posted on Friday, January 7th, 2011

Dave!"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.

Problem solved.

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.

And yet...

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.

Look, if you want some of science's most impossible questions answered, I'm your man.

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.

   

Sorrowful

Posted on Saturday, January 8th, 2011

Dave!

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave Upset

   

   

Today can just go away now. My thoughts are with Gabrielle Giffords, her family, and everybody affected by the terrible events in Arizona.

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Categories: News - Politics 2011Click To It: Permalink  4 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Non-Bullet Sunday 214

Posted on Sunday, January 9th, 2011

Dave!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!

Dave is 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.

   

Violence

Posted on Monday, January 10th, 2011

Dave!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...

Christina Taylor Green

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.

Anyway...

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...

Sarah Pac Target List

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...

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...

Car Shot

And here's a full DaveToon strip from 2006...

Broadcast Flag

Broadcast Flag

Broadcast Flag

Another from 2005...

Postage

Postage

Postage

And, just to show that I'm not above gun violence to myself...

PotterMania

PotterMania

PotterMania

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...

I'd like a veggie burger! Sorry, we're out of veggie burgers.

Are you sure (gun to head). Uhhh... yes?

Silence.

Blam (shoots off hat off waiter)

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...

Daveslap1

Daveslap2

And, of course, registering my displeasure with George Lucas over his stupid Star Wars prequels and screwing up the Indiana Jones franchise...

Daveraiders

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?

Probably.

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.

Even me.

Davehunting

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...

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.

   

Verizon

Posted on Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Dave!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...

PROS   CONS
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...

  1. DON'T DROP MY CALLS! I know that AT&T claims that they're spending a bajillion dollars to upgrade their network... but I'm not seeing it. In Chicago and Las Vegas last year, I could barely connect a call, let alone keep it from dropping. This is completely unacceptable. IF YOU CAN'T MAKE PHONE CALLS, THEN IT'S NOT A PHONE!!
  2. EXPAND YOUR DATA CAPACITY! My small town doesn't have 3G with AT&T (but does with Verizon). In all honesty, it's not a big deal... EXCEPT... it's unusable most of the time. A Gowalla check-in that takes 2 seconds most anywhere else can take FIVE MINUTES here in my home town. Using the internet is pretty much impossible under those conditions. Even if you don't give us 3G, can you AT LEAST expand the capacity of our EDGE network so we can use the data we were promised?
  3. STOP SCREWING ME! I already pay for the bandwidth I use every month... don't charge me extra to tether my computer to it! Seriously, $20 a month to access bandwidth I already pay for? What the fuck? Bad enough we had to wait YEARS for this basic feature... now that you finally have it, you're screwing your customers over for the privilege of using it? LAME!

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.

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Sweeeeeeeet!

Posted on Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Dave!ZOMFG! I am so much cooler than you are right now. And let me show you why...

DaveBookGelaskin.jpg
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...

BlogographyGelaskin.png

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.

   

Zodiac

Posted on Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Dave!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...

DaveToon: Lil' Dave Ram

   

But now all of a sudden I was a Pisces... THE FISHES...

DaveToon: Lil' Dave Fish

   

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...

Ophiuchus Sketch by Kepler
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.

Barely.

I mean, I was a frickin' FISH there for a few hours!

   

Penis

Posted on Friday, January 14th, 2011

Dave!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...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave Uniform vs. Lil' Dave Seahawks

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"...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave Uniform vs. Lil' Dave Pink Bear

   
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...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave Uniform vs. Lil' Dave Penis Hat

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.

   

Winterfest

Posted on Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Dave!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
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...

Mini Jäger Bottle and Maxi Jäger Bottle!
Started with a mini-bottle, finished with a maxi-bottle!

Luckily, we ran across a back-up driver if we needed one...

SpiderCar!
Spider-Car! Spider-Car! Does whatever a Spider-Car does!

Or I suppose we could have hitched a ride on a horse and buggy...

Horse and Buggy at a Drive-Thru
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!

Ice Bar at Winterfest

IceBar

Ghost Dave at the Ice Bar
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...

$10 Light Sabers

After a delicious dinner at Tin Lilly's, we started bar-hopping...

Dave2!
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!)...

Jägermesiter Bar Mat

Jager On Jager Crime
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 Lyrics!
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...

Rescue Drunk Guy!
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!

   

Bullet Sunday 215

Posted on Sunday, January 16th, 2011

Dave!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.

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave Disappointed Seahawk Fan

   
• 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.

   

Human?

Posted on Monday, January 17th, 2011

Dave!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...

More annoying than a box of crackers.

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...

Being Human BBC Version Cast

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...

Being Human SyFy Version Cast

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.

   

Assault

Posted on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Dave!Right now. Right this minute. I want nothing more than to assault a Kate...

DAVETOON: Bad Monkey Assaults a Kate Cupcake from Cupcake Royale

   
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.

   

Haircut

Posted on Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Dave!GAAAAAH!

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.

Alas...

I didn't get a bad haircut...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave with a very bad haircut.

I didn't get my ear cut off...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave with a cut-off ear.

And I wasn't abducted by aliens and anally probed...

DAVETOON: Lil's Dave alien probe.

   
Nope. I got a great haircut with no bodily harm and no bodily foul.

Sorry about that.

   

Hyperbole

Posted on Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Dave!"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.

   

Bastard

Posted on Friday, January 21st, 2011

Dave!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.

Prepare yourself...

  • What time did you get up this morning? 5:15am.
  • How do you like your steak? Absent. As a vegetarian, I don't eat steak.
  • What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Black Swan... I was not impressed.
  • What is your favorite TV show? Raising Hope... I haven't liked a show this much since Veronica Mars and Wonderfalls, which is saying quite a lot.
  • If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • What did you have for breakfast? Two slices of sourdough toast with seedless strawberry jam. Like this.
  • What is your favorite cuisine? Italian. And call me a snobby, elitist bastard, but I mean real Italian... from Italy... and not the typical Americanized Italian we usually get over here.
  • What foods do you dislike? Other than meat, which I don't eat, I'm allergic to mushrooms in anything but small quantities and don't care much for broccoli or cauliflower.
  • Favorite place to Eat? Ristorante Alfredo alla Scrofa in Rome, Italy. I have traveled to Rome just so I can eat there.
  • Favorite salad dressing? Italian if I'm eating Italian, Thousand Island if I'm eating Mexican, Ranch if it's a good Ranch, otherwise French.
  • What kind of vehicle do you drive? A 1999 Saturn SC-2. I bought it because I wanted to support the American auto industry after my previous car was totaled by the railroad. It was purchased sight-unseen over the internet and have hated it since the day I took ownership. I would have gladly returned the piece of shit during the 30-day no-penalty return period, but I was too busy traveling at the time, and lived three hours away from the dealership. It turns wider than a semi truck. It has a gap between sun visors. The mirror adjusters are STUPID. It's uncomfortable for both drivers and passengers. No Saturn dealership could ever fix it properly either in or out of warranty. I could go on and on and on.
  • What are your favorite clothes? Jeans and a Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt.
  • Where would you visit if you had the chance? In order... India. Australia. Peru. Cambodia. Antarctica.
  • Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? 1966-1982: half-full. 1983-1987: half-empty. 1988-2011: half-full. Though, to be honest, it has been very, very hard to be a "half-full" guy over the past decade or so given the horrible political climate in this fucked-up country I live in.
  • Where would you want to retire? Right now? Maui.
  • Favorite time of day? Sunset.
  • Where were you born? Doctor's Hospital in San Diego, California. And no, that's not a set on a soap opera.
  • What is your favorite sport to watch? Hockey. Specifically, Chicago Blackhawks or Milwaukee Admirals hockey.
  • Who do you think will never call you again? Anybody with the patience to suffer through this meme.
  • Person you expect to call you next? My sister.
  • Who are you most curious about their responses to stealing? Stealing what? Actually, Bad Robert is who I am most curious about their response to anything. The guy is insane. I mean really insane.
  • Bird watcher? Not really. Though I have seen some really cool birds in various zoos I've visited around the world.
  • Are you a morning person or a night person? Absolutely a night person.
  • Do you have any pets? No. I'd like to have a pet but, given how much I travel, that would be pretty irresponsible.
  • Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? Yes. Unfortunately, I can't share it right now.
  • What did you want to be when you were little? At one time or another during childhood I wanted to be a fireman, airline pilot, doctor, and a chef. I ended up being a graphic designer, so I guess none of my career dreams came true. Now I want to be an astronaut when I grow up.
  • What is your best childhood memory? I had a pretty idyllic childhood, so it would be difficult to pick just one. Probably a Christmas morning or a dinner at my grandparents house or something like that.
  • Are you a cat or dog person? I like both, actually. I would love to have either if I was around long enough to care for one.
  • Are you married? Nope. I came very, very close once. Given the kind of person she ended up, I am thankful every single day it never happened.
  • Always wear your seat belt? Yes. It's the law, and I don't want to pay a $101 fine.
  • Been in a car accident? Yes. I was stopped at a stoplight, so obviously it wasn't my fault.
  • Any pet peeves? People who clip their fingernails in public and people who smack their gum. My greatest nightmare is to be eating at a restaurant and have somebody at a neighboring table smacking gum while clipping their fingernails as I try to eat. =shudder=
  • Favorite Pizza Toppings? Cheese!
  • Favorite Flower? California Poppy or Crocuses.
  • Favorite ice cream? Chocolate-Almond. Though I'd rather have Straciatella gelato more than any ice cream on earth.
  • Favorite fast food restaurant? Johnny Rockets.
  • How many times did you fail your driver's test? Once.
  • Who did you get your last email from? A friend from Wisconsin.
  • Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Orbitz. Online stores count, don't they?
  • Do anything spontaneous lately? An upcoming trip to Vegas for my sister's birthday was pretty spontaneous. We knew we wanted to do something, but Vegas kind of came out of nowhere.
  • Like your job? Yes. Though there are things around my job that I don't particularly care for.
  • Broccoli? Not really.
  • What was your favorite vacation? I have been to so many amazing places that it's almost impossible to choose. My standard answer for this is usually "The last one I took." In this case, it would be a cruise around the Mediterranean that started in Barcelona, Spain.
  • Last person you went out to dinner with? Ummm... Christmas dinner at grandma's, perhaps? I don't go out to eat much when I'm home.
  • What are you listening to right now? I have no idea. The television is on for background noise... it looks like a movie with Dick Van Dyke.
  • What is your favorite color? Periwinkle Blue.
  • How many tattoos do you have? Zero. That will hopefully change one day.
  • How many times have you tagged someone to do a meme? I'd like to say ZERO, but I'm sure I tagged one or two people in my early blogging days... before I realized it's pure evil to do so.
  • What time did you finish this meme? 9:00pm on the dot.
  • Coffee Drinker? GACK! No. I have tried many time to try and drink coffee. I just can't do it. I like the smell of it, but can't stand the taste.

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?

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Episodes

Posted on Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

Dave!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 Poster

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. Rating: B

   

The Onion News Network Studio

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. Rating: A+

   

Portlandia Cast

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. Rating: B-

   

Harry's Law Promo Shot

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. Rating: B-

   

Fairly Legal Cast

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. Rating: C

   
Man I wish I didn't love television so much, it would open up a lot of free time.

   

Bullet Sunday 216

Posted on Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Dave!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...

Hannah, Lilly, and Oliver

   
• 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.

   

Sucking

Posted on Monday, January 24th, 2011

Dave!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)...

Going to Turn

Car Ahead of Me Changes Mind

Car Ahead of Me Turns Back in Front of Me

I Slam on My Brakes

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.

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Words

Posted on Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Dave!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.

Some good words in there to be sure, but words just the same...

Word Cloud of President Obama's State of the Union Speech

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.

One day.

Hopefully sooner rather than later.

   

But those are just words too.

   

   

Packing

Posted on Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Dave!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.

DAVETOON: Bad Monkey Packs a Suitcase full of Jägermeister

   
See you on the other side of the Atlantic...

   

Day One: Seattle

Posted on Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Dave!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...

  1. Upgrade Perks. The people you see in First Class who are drinking champagne and eating brie while lounging in seats so spacious that they could accommodate a family of four, probably didn't pay the outrageous pricetag to be there. More likely they are just very good customers with tons of miles, and the airline upgrades them for free when a seat is available. So as you are schlepping to the back of the plane to sit on a chair the size of a Triscuit cracker with no legroom to speak of, try to resist the urge to punch the First Class passengers in the face as you pass. Odds are they've missed a lot of time with their family and friends, spent more time in airports than at home, and have endured unbelievable travel horror stories to get there. Instead, pity them. Theirs is not the easy life it appears. Besides, the person you punch in the face might be me and I don't want to spill my chanpagne.
  2. Early Boarding Perks. When I travel it's usually for business and I'm carrying important shit that would render the entire purpose of my trip moot if it were lost. For me there's rarely an option to check my carry-on bag, as I simply must have it with me when I arrive at my destination. Fortunately I don't have to worry about running out of overhead space because I'm one of the first people on the plane. In the event I don't get an upgrade, I still have no trouble finding a spot for my important shit. Elite flyers also have the option of carrying on an extra bag which comes in handy from time to time. In a day and age where people bring their entire luggage set onboard and filling three overhead bins to avoid paying baggage fees, this is probably my most favorite (and necessary) perk.
  3. Luggage Perks. Since I try hard not to abuse the overhead storage, I check my luggage at the departure desk whenever I can. Mostly because A) I don't have to pay for it since all luggage fees are waived for Elite fliers and B) My luggage is flagged as "priority" so it has a better chance of not getting lost AND being one of the first bags out of the chute at baggage claim. I try very hard to resist the urge to scream "SO LONG, SUCKERS!" when this happens but, as somebody who has had their luggage lost or delayed multiple times while trying to live out of a suitcase, it's tough.
  4. Security Perks. In addition to being one of the first people on one the plane, I can also be the one of the first people through security. Most major airports have a separate, much shorter security line for elite fliers. I don't always use it since I try to get to the airport with plenty of time to spare, but on those back-to-back-to-back schedules where I'm trying to fit a half-dozen appointments into a single week, it has come in very handy. I still have just as big a chance for a TSA "enhanced screening" hand-job as you do though, so don't feel too sorry for me because you think I'm missing out.
  5. Lounge Access Perks. Today I have a 6-1/2 hour layover in Seattle. But, since this is an international flight, the wait is not quite so bad because I have access to the lovely "Delta Sky Club" lounge. I get a desk, a phone, plug-ins, internet, a comfy chair, and (most important of all) free mini-muffins and Coke! This may seem like kind of a trivial perk, but when you spend the horrible amount of time in airports that I do, it's sometimes the difference between life and death. Well, not literally life and death... but sometimes those banana-nut mini-muffins are the only thing keeping me sane when forced to waste lots of time waiting for a flight...

My FREE Mini Muffins!
MY MINI-MUFFINS!

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...

Foggy SeaTac Morning!

Things weren't looking too much better after sunrise...

Foggy Sunrise

Foggy 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.

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Day Two: Köln-Essen

Posted on Friday, January 28th, 2011

Dave!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).

Anyway...

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...

Schiphol Airport

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...

Gowalla Flights Update
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...

Cologne Snow Day!
"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...

Pizzzzzzzza!!
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...

Mechthild's Winter Salad
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...

   

Day Three: Köln

Posted on Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Dave!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!

   
KÖLNER DOM!...

Dom Cathedral
No matter how many times I see the massive Cologne Cathedral, it still takes my breath away.

   
SPRITZRINGE!...

Spritzringes!
The light, airy, doughy inside makes "doghnuts" taste like shit by comparison!

Dave's Uber Spritzringe
I could eat this delicious bits of deliciousness until I asploded!

   
PATATJES MET! POMMES FRITES!...

Pommes Frites with Mayo!
While not the same as the Dutch patatjes met, my favorite, they're still inanely delicious!

Pommes De Luxe
The line was crazy-long... it took me 8-10 minutes to get mah frites!!

   
KÖLSCH!...

DAVETOON: Bad Monkey and Lil' Dave drinking Koelsch
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...

GELDAUTOMAT!...

Man Using Geldautomat
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...

   

Bullet Sunday 217 (Day Four: Köln)

Posted on Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Dave!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...

Frost on Glass

Frost on Glass

Frost on Glass

   
• 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...

Melted Chocolate Chicken!

"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...

  • Shoveling. The spooning of food to their maws never stopped... even while chewing. This caused food to fall out of their mouths as they ate, which they would then shovel back into their mouths.
  • Smacking. They were incapable of chewing with their mouths closed, and smacked louder than anybody has ever smacked before. The sound was defening.
  • Snorting. The man would make a loud, gag-inducing snort after every fifth or sixth bite.
  • Blowing. Apparently the snorting wasn't working well enough, so he'd blow his nose (loudly) into his napkin every five minutes... while continuing to chew with his mouth open!
  • Spitting. This was the worst... the man would regularly spit things back onto his plate. His dessert was an apple, which he would slurp and smack for a dozen chews, then spit the mangled apple peel out! It was all I could do to keep from vomiting.
  • Coughing. Saving the best for last... during his shoveling, smacking, snorting, blowing, and spitting... the man would go into a coughing fit, blowing half-chewed food out of his mouth. It would land on the table...on the floor... even on people walking by! Of course he couldn't be bothered to cover his mouth... that would mean he'd have to stop shovelling!

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...

DATA ERROR!!!

   
• 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!

   

Day Five: Köln

Posted on Monday, January 31st, 2011

Dave!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...

Chocolate Chicken Ebola
I'm meltiiiiiiiiiinnnng!

   
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...

Poofenwafel
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...

Die Wilden Kerle

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 T-shirts. That's a level of badassness that cannot be denied.

   
Annnnnnd... time to try and get some sleep.

Hopefully.

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