Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012
Happiest of New Years to you!
And I'm starting it out with Bullets on the very first day? It's almost too good to be true!
• Resolute! My New Year's Resolutions are the same every year. I passed 2011's with flying colors...
And what am I looking forward to this year?
• Travel! Where am I going in 2012? I have no idea. But I've got some ideas rattling around in my head that I'm excited about.
• Movies! In a list of things I'm looking forward to in 2012, the awesome number of cool new movies coming up is near the top. We've got the Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptation with John Carter, Bitchin' Joss Whedon super-hero fare with The Avengers, Brilliant zombie apocalypse book adaptation of World War Z, New QUENTIN FRICKIN' TARANTINO with Django Unchained, The latest James Bond flick Skyfall, The final Christoper Nolan Batman movie The Dark Knight, Peter Jackson LOTR Middle Earth followup The Hobbit, the Ridley Scott "Alien" prequel Prometheus, and loads more. Good stuff, Maynard.
• Music! It ain't going to be a bad year for the music I like either. Macintosh Braun, Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, Matt & Kim, and OMD are all reported to be working on new albums in 2012... just to name a few.
• Fiction! I am really looking forward to putting out three more issues of Thrice Fiction Magazinethis year. To go a step further, I am really looking forward to developing a Thrice Fiction iPad app. The details are ever-changing and murky, but it's something I really want to happen in 2012.
• Comics! Now that I've managed to build shelving for my collection and get everything organized, I'm looking forward to buying all my comic books digitally. I just don't have room for any more printed books (much as I love them), and the value of any new stuff can't hold when everything new is available online at any time (presumably) forever. I am slowly getting used to reading comics on my iPad. It's not been difficult given all the great digital sales they keep having over at Comixology.
• Apple! And, of course, there's whatever Cupertino has up their sleeves this year. iPhone5? iPad3? New MacBook Airs in MacBook Pro sizes? Whatever ends up being released, this is one Mac Whore who can't wait to find out.
Here's hoping 2012 is at least a little better to me than 2011. With so much to look forward to, I certainly hope so.
Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2012
A couple months ago I was in an auto parts store.*
While waiting in line to pay for whatever it was I was buying**, the guy behind me announced "I gotta take a dump like nobody's business, so can we hurry the line up?"
Naturally, I found this fascinating.
Not that the guy had to take a raging poop, but that he felt comfortable sharing such information. It had me curious to know why this was, and what other personal business he'd be sharing with us that day. Fortunately, I left before finding out.
And then I remembered that the internet is so much worse. People are forever talking about their bodily functions, their health problems, their relationships, and other personal crap online. I always thought that it was the abstraction... having a computer (or phone or whatever) in-between the person and their audience... that made this possible, but I guess that's not the case. People just like to share. Misery loves company, and all that.
People also love money, which explains shows like Jerry Springer, The Bachelor, Judge Judy, and the rest. For me, the bigger mystery would have to be Why do other people care enough to tune in, but whatever.
The reason I bring this up is that I am still getting email because of my "diaper problem."
Never mind that I don't actually have a "diaper problem" and it was a joke comment left on another person's site, people follow a link back to my blog, find my email address, and are compelled to write. Usually with suggestions of diaper brands... but also to share tips & tricks or to let me know about diaper support communities or (worst-case scenario) diaper fetish sites.
That's all well and good, I guess. Most of the people are simply trying to be helpful.
But today's email had photos attached.
And now that my retinas have stopped burning, I can see that there are times when the sharing goes too far. Waaayyyyy too far.
Though, now that I think about it, I really should have printed those photos before deleting the email. That way, the next time somebody announces they need to take a dump while I'm waiting in line at the auto parts store,*** I can show them a way to avoid such an uncomfortable situation in the future.
Or get punched in the face. One or the other.
*Don't ask me why. I wouldn't know what to do with an auto part. Any auto part.
**Seriously, I have no idea what I was buying. I'd say it was replacement wiper blades (that's the only thing I'd know how to fix) but the blades on my car are shit, so that wasn't it.
***Though I still have no clue why I would go back to an auto parts store. WHAT IN THE HECK WAS I DOING THERE?!?
Posted on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012
"Holy crap it's dark out tonight!" I said to myself as I strained against the darkness. This was surprising because I left work only a half-hour later than usual. I wanted to see if the moon was obstructed, but didn't want to take my eyes off the road, so I gave up. I've driven the route home hundreds of time so there wasn't a problem, but it was still kind of freaking me out. Do I have glaucoma? Am I night-blind now?
Nope. When I got home I noticed I had my sunglasses on for some reason and didn't realize it.
I wear my sunglasses at night. So I can... so I can... see the light that's right before my eyes!
And speaking of stumbling around in the dark...
Who still listens to this disgusting fraud?
I don't know what's more surprising... the fact that Pat Robertson can command "God" to show him stuff... or that he seems to feel that the crazy shit he says doesn't contribute to the "internal stress that's tearing this country apart." And, of course, "God" says it's all President Obama's fault, so there's that. Seems kind of silly. I mean, Robertson says that "God" causes earthquakes because He doesn't like the gays... why can't He just put a tornado on The White House front lawn? Robertson's "God" sure sounds wishy-washy. But fictional delusions can be that way.
I'd say when it comes to the wholesale blasphemy of putting words in God's mouth, it looks like Pat Robertson has the market cornered. What a hateful piece of shit.
He can't roast in hell fast enough.
Posted on Wednesday, January 4th, 2012
When it comes to the Republican merry-go-round of candidates, I'm getting pretty tired of hearing "THIS is the best that the Conservatives have to run against Obama?!?" And, yes, I'm as guilty as everybody else. It's a natural reaction to the buckets of crazy that the GOP has been pouring over the American populace as they attempt to get somebody elected president in November.
The reason I'm getting tired is that the answer is already very obvious. "No, this is NOT the best that the Conservatives have to run against Obama, they're just the only players willing to do so." And it's true. All the smart, powerful, respectable potential candidates didn't want to throw away millions of dollars for a loss when they'd have much better odds in 2016 once President Obama is out of the picture. They know that an Obama victory in 2012 is pretty much assured, so why bother? Besides, it just gives the Obama-disillusioned Independent populace (like me) four more years to rage over the stupid crap that clings to his presidency like a pair of Tiberian bats.
And so now the second-tier candidates (like Huntsman, Gingrich, and Paul) are starting to fall away just as the tenth-tier loser candidates (like Perry, Bachmann, and Santorum) are starting to drop... paving the way for Romney to take the nomination. Like what was supposed to happen all along.
And here's the point where all the Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum supporters start banging out emails to me saying "TENTH-TIER LOSER?!? RICK SANTORUM CAME IN A VERY CLOSE SECOND IN IOWA, YOU DUMBASS!"
To which I'd have to respond "What did you expect?" Every waking moment that Santorum hasn't been fantasizing over the cock sandwich he obviously wants so badly, he's been campaigning in Iowa. He's gone to every county in the State. He's practically gone door-to-door to every house begging for votes. He's put all his eggs in one Iowa basket, so of course he's done well. But he still lost. And now? IOWA IS OVER! Santorum has to move on to places where he's invested no time and very little money. Places where he has no real chance of winning.
Which, of course, brings us to Michele Bachmann.
I am so ready for a woman to be president. I am not lying or even exaggerating here. But I have to be given somebody to vote for who is worth a crap. That person was not Hilary Clinton. It couldn't be Sarah Palin. And it sure the fuck isn't Michele "Batshit Crazy" Bachmann. Or I guess I should say it wasn't Bachmann, because she's now suspended her campaign. For all intents and purposes, she's out of the race.
Which is a darn shame, because her being certifiably insane made the rest of the Republican candidates seem far less crazy by comparison. No matter how much Romney, Gingrich, or Paul screwed up, they could always point over at Bachmann and say "Sure, but at least I'm not THAT hot mess over there!" But not any more. I suppose they could point at Santorum, but he's (hopefully) not going to be around long enough to be worth it.
And so now I am left with one burning question...
When people like Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann who tell everybody that "GOD CALLED ON ME TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT!" end up getting dismissed in disgrace or utterly pummeled before the race even truly begins... how do they reconcile this?
Did God set them up just to watch them fall? Do they now believe that God was lying to them all along? Did they do something wrong in the eyes of The Lord to make them lose His favor?
Wouldn't it be ironic if it was their lack of support for Same-Sex Marriage that made "God" displeased with them?
The scenarios I come up with, approaching things as best I am able from theological standpoint, are as follows...
You can probably guess which of these makes the most sense to me.
Despite studying The Bible more thoroughly than most Christians ever will, I am not a Christian. But I still have strong ties to the Christian Faith because there are many people I cherish and love who are Christians. Just as there are people I cherish who are Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and other religions you might name.
For this reason, you will understand my disgust and frustration with people like Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum who make a mockery of Christianity by speaking for God. They force THEIR ideals onto other people with persecution and hate, say it comes from GOD, then use their interpretation of The Bible to justify it in a way that makes me wonder if they ever actually read The Bible in the first place.
As an outsider looking in, I can honestly say that this doesn't seem very "Christian" to me at all. My opinion is entirely supported by empirical evidence when I see Michele Bachmann giving up on her bid for president. And... until Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum is elected president in a landslide, then goes on to lead this country to its greatest period of peace and prosperity ever... well, it will probably continue to be my opinion.
As always, I reserve my admiration and respect for those who use their Faith as a way to enrich their lives and be happy while allowing others to do the same with whatever Faith they hold true. Sadly, more and more I see Faith being used as a weapon. For this reason alone, I won't be shedding any tears now that Michele "batshit crazy" Bachmann and her Jesus Sword won't be our president... despite the avalanche of material it would give to The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live.
I guess we'll just have to wait for her FOX "News" contributor gig to happen for that.
Posted on Thursday, January 5th, 2012
It used to be that when I heard somebody say "I'm my own worst enemy" I would reply "THEN STOP FIGHTING WITH YOURSELF, YA MORON!"
Not out loud, of course. I'd say it in my head. But I always thought this was the stupidest saying ever because anybody who has themselves as an enemy and is still alive must be really bad in a fight. If I were MY own worst enemy, there'd be no survivors.
But lately I've had a change of heart.
Sometimes enemies are so lethal that they are at a perpetual stalemate. Which means there doesn't necessarily have to be death and destruction when facing off with an arch-rival...
That's pretty much me right now.
Except all the fight has been beaten out of me over the past month, so it's not that I'm too lethal to battle myself, it's that I'm too tired to put up much of a fight.
Which means my own worst enemy is badly in need of an ass-kicking.
If only I cared enough to give one to myself.
Posted on Friday, January 6th, 2012
I used to love going to the movies.
I rarely go anymore.
Roger Ebert recently wrote an editorial commentary called "I'll tell you why movie revenue is dropping..." In it, he dissects why people aren't going out to the theater anymore. I thought I'd go through point by point to figure out where I fit in.
I remember several years ago... like ten years... maybe more like eight years ago... I was on a movie date watching Spider-Man 2. About 20 minutes in, some idiot's mobile phone goes off... and he answers it. My date dug into my arm with her nails because she knew this is exactly the kind of situation that causes me to go off. But somebody else beat me to it. "HOPE THE MOVIE ISN'T DISTURBING YOUR PHONE CALL, BUDDY!" he yelled. The man who took the call screamed back "MY WIFE WENT INTO THE HOSPITAL THIS MORNING, SO I HAVE TO TAKE THE CALL YOU ASSHOLE!" At this point I couldn't take it any longer and screamed "YOUR WIFE IS IN THE HOSPITAL AND YOU'RE AT A MOVIE THEATER? WHAT A DICK!" This cause the crowd to start applauding and the idiot with the phone left never to return.
It was at that point I realized that movie theaters were doomed.
Moviegoers have always had to deal with people who talk during the film and smack their popcorn and kick the seats, but mobile phones? This was a disaster. Who the heck is going to want to pay a stack of money for movie and overpriced refreshments if they're going to have to listen to people talk on the phone while they're trying to watch a film? Hell, escaping from having to listen to people on their phones is one of the best reasons to go to the theater!
Clearly movie theater companies would have to do something about this.
But other than those lame "turn off your mobile phone" messages that are flashed for a second after the previews, they don't seem to give a crap.
And now it's even worse because people are texting during the movie. Theater companies seem to care even less about texters because they "aren't disturbing anybody." Except they ARE. All those glowing screens are a huge fucking distraction when you're trying to watch the film...
Though SOME theaters have the right idea about that...
...but most don't.
And since I don't have an Alamo Drafthouse nearby to kick the rude assholes out of the theater, I just stopped going. Now the only time I'll go is when it's a movie I'm just dying to see... and even then I usually go to mid-day showings and wait for as long as I can so the crowds will have died down.
So attention theater companies: Stop your whining about falling revenue.
Because if you really wanted to lure me back as a customer, you'd start doing your part to make it a worthwhile experience. Which means kicking out the talkers, seat kickers, phone callers, and texters so people can actually enjoy watching the movie they paid to see.
Until that happens, I'd rather watch a movie on my iPhone than in your stupid, annoying theater, even though David Lynch will eat my soul...
Maybe I won't be "experiencing the movie" but at least I won't be "experiencing movie theater hell."
Posted on Saturday, January 7th, 2012
For the past couple weeks I have been feeling badly dehydrated all day long. I'd say it was the dry winter air wrecking havoc on me, but I've never had this problem before. The upshot is that I am constantly drinking fluids, which means I can't stop peeing. I have to pee right now and I just went pee a half-hour ago. I'd run to the bathroom to pee, but I'd just end up having to pee again once I got back to my computer. So now I'm dancing in my chair with the hope that I can put off peeing for just a little while longer.
Except all this talk about going pee has just made things worse.
And now I'm back.
This would all be a lot easier if I just stood in the bathroom all day long while somebody kept me permanently saturated with Gatorade...
Or somebody just has to start manufacturing my Dream Bed with a Toilet...
Alas, I'm not going to hold my breath.
What I am going to do is reach for my water bottle since I'm parched again.
Drinking all this water is supposed to be healthy, but it sure doesn't feel like it when I have to go pee every 20 minutes.
Maybe it's time to start looking into those adult diapers after all?
Posted on Sunday, January 8th, 2012
It's Bullet Sunday in the middle of Winter... except the sunny days and complete lack of snow makes if feel a lot more like Spring. I'm seriously starting to wonder if we're ever going to get a winter. Hope everybody in the Valley is fond of water shortages come Summer.
• Doodle! The "Google Doodles" are always interesting, but the Charles Addams birthday doodle from yesterday hit it out of the park...
The original cartoons were genius. Still are. And this was the perfect tribute. If your only experience with The Addams Family is the old television show and the Barry Sonnenfeld movies, then you owe it to yourself to check out the original cartoon collections. Not only are they funny as hell, but the artwork is absolutely beautiful. Even the most simple drawings have lush details and textures...
Besides, who doesn't love Uncle Fester?
• Taco! As the Doritos flavors keep getting more and more "extreme" I find myself liking them less and less. Nacho Cheese Doritos are so caked with cheese powder that you can barely taste the corn anymore. Which is why I'm such a big fan of the "retro" re-release of the original-flavor 1960's Taco Doritos. I thought they were going to be a temporary thing, but they keep showing up at the grocery store...
The flavor is nicely "taco-like" but not at all overwhelming. You can still taste the corn chip. They also make an incredible topper to a veggie taco salad. I have my fingers crossed that they continue to be popular so Frito-Lay will keep making them.
• Ojo! I've worn glasses for what seems like forever... but it's the "vitreous floaters" that are the real problem with my eyes. For those lucky enough not to know what "vitreous floaters" are, they're tiny particles floating around in the goo that's in the middle of your eyeball. They cast shadows on your retina which makes little blurry spots that move around your field of vision. Most of the time I don't notice them. But, as I get older, more and more of them are forming. This makes them more noticeable more often.
Every once in a while, I do an internet search to see if there's any new technology for dealing with the problem. Maybe they've found a laser than can vaporize the floaters. Or maybe there's a new medicine that can disintegrate them. But, alas, no. The only solution seems to be to suck the goo out of the middle of my eye and completely replace it with saline water. It sounds horrific. And dangerous. And I'm not nearly desperate enough to let somebody suck goo out of my eyeball. At least not yet.
But now the reality is setting in that one day I may actually be that desperate.
• Firm! I'm a fan of nearly all the early John Grisham books. They're not deep by any means, but they are darn good entertainment. The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Runaway Jury... all good fun. But it's The Firm (the first Grisham book I read) that I like the best. It was a really good story that had some genuine suspense built-in. Sure the Tom Cruise movie fucked all that up, but I still always wondered what happened to the characters in the book. Instead of that, I got this...
NBC Television has a new series called The Firm which picks up ten years after the FILM ended (not the book). And, despite starring the talented Josh Lucas, it's kind of a mess in the way it bounces around. Mitch McDeere is no longer on the run... he's just a lawyer with a sketchy past doing regular lawyer stuff (like most every other lawyer show on TV). In other words The Firm has become boring and unoriginal. Sure there's hints that things are going to ramp up, but in a totally redundant way. Mitch is involved with yet another evil law firm! Not enough of a retread? Oh yeah... here comes the mob. Again. What the hell? Oh well. It's not like I had time to fit a new show in my television-watching schedule anyway.
• Debate! The Republican Debate last night was... interesting. You get the sense that the candidates reeeeeally don't like each other. At all. Indeed the only thing they seem to hate more than each other is President Obama. I guess this is understandable, but they blow it way out of proportion. I'm not Obama's biggest fan by a longshot, but the level of blame they lay at his doorstep is categorically absurd. In many respects, President Obama is practically a Republican, so it's kind of senseless too. But I guess they gotta play to their voter base however they can, and demonizing Obama is a quick and easy way to do that.
The debate itself was pretty lame... but also a bit enlightening. Mitt Romney comes across as a huge dick when he fails at being clever, which is often. Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum bounces between being a disgruntled idiot and a whiny baby. Newt Gingrich is just plain bitter all the time. Rick Perry is just fucking stupid. Ron Paul is entertaining, but not always in a good way.
And then there's Jon Huntsman. The only current Republican candidate I can even fathom voting for. He's got Conservative sensibilities. He's got loads of experience in the international arena. He's personable and inspiring. He's smart, quick on his feet, and not overly-reactionary. In short... I honestly believe that he's the only GOP candidate that could move independent voters in a race against Obama. And yet... his own party seems to hate him. Probably because he's not Conservative to crazy enough extremes. It's a real shame too, because nobody else on that stage is going to woo the much-needed middle ground. If things keep going like they are, I guess we're getting four more years of ObamaNation.
Annnnd... I'm spent. Sometimes bullets can really take it out of a guy.
Posted on Monday, January 9th, 2012
Today while heading home from work I had to slam on my brakes to avoid being hit by somebody pulling out of a parking lot. I stopped so hard that I strained my neck. It was a crappy end to a crappy day... though, now that I think about it, there's still two hours left for something new to go terribly wrong.
In better news, today is the fifth anniversary of the original iPhone...
It hardly seems like it was five whole years ago. Partly because it still looks more beautiful and modern than the majority of mobiles on the market... but mostly because I know people who are still using their original iPhones to this day...
And I'm fairly certain I'd rather have a first-gen iPhone than anything I've tried from Android, Microsoft, or Blackberry (are they even around anymore?). Sure I'd miss the speed, the 3G data throughput, and the ability to run the latest version of iOS... but at least it's still an iPhone. Such is the price you pay for being an Apple Whore, I guess.
So happy birthday iPhone, and many more.
Now I'm taking a pill for my neck so I can go to bed. Yay.
Posted on Tuesday, January 10th, 2012
And so this happened...
Now that Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum has come in a pathetic fifth place after Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich, is it too much to hope that he drops out of the race?
Because please, Rick, please drop out of the race.
I am just done with your stupid fucked-up racist, homophobic, sexophobic, anti-woman, anti-college, anti-poor, anti-environment, anti-gay, anti-diversity, anti-American bullshit, and there's no place in this country for your disgusting hate-filled rhetoric.
Just be content that you took a big ol' dump on the USA and move on.
Then never show your face in public again. The only thing I ever want to see of you is the giant shit stain that's left once you've been scraped off the face of America and tossed in the garbage where you belong.
Oh, and before I forget... fuck you for shitting all over my country. That stain is not going to be an easy thing to get out. Even with some Oxi-Clean and a bottle of Clorox.
Posted on Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
I was kinda raised Catholic. And while I had already started pulling away from the church by the time Pope John Paul II came along, I was a big fan. He spoke dozens of languages and worked tirelessly to travel the world to use those skills to build good relationships with other faiths. He had respect for all people and believed strongly in the basic concepts of dignity and human rights. And while I may not have agreed with some of his more antiquated, traditional, and fundamental views, I always admired his attempts to find common ground in the face of disagreement. He was a remarkable man and I'm still a fan today...
Which is why I am so disheartened with his successor, Pope Benedict XVI...
He's systematically destroyed much of the good will that Pope John Paul II had built up between Catholics and the rest of the world. And while I have respect for Pope Benedict's position as Supreme Pontiff, the way he's hurt the church with the crazy-ass shit he says has been heartbreaking. He lays the groundwork for abhorrent Catholic radicals to have the power they do. Even though their hateful crap contradict polls which show that most Catholics are fairly progressive on issues like same-sex marriage.
So what benefit is it to everyday Catholics when these extremists decide to force their faith-based interpretation of "morality" on the rest of the world?
When I see the news of kids committing suicide because they are ruthlessly persecuted and victimized by the environment created by the likes of Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum and Maggie "Repugnant Hypocrite" Gallagher ... my view of Catholicism is badly tarnished.
And when I see the continuous stream of shocking headlines associated with the church, I have to wonder if these hateful morons shouldn't be casting a judgmental eye on their own house before condemning the houses of others.
Headlines like this one...
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH'S PEDOPHILE INVESTIGATOR JAILED FOR POSSESSING THOUSANDS OF CHILD PORN IMAGES
The Catholics Come Home television commercial I just saw (which caused me to write all this in the first place) is supposed to be reaching out to former Catholics by letting them know that their church is waiting for them. That they are wanting to help them return to a faith-based journey of true peace, happiness, and purpose in life.
They are speaking to people like me...
...who is someone that would never in a million years return to the Catholic Church as it exists today. Not when the people who so prominently represent the church are people who repulse me.
Well... not all of them repulse me.
There is at least one prominent Catholic today I admire quite a lot: Stephen Colbert. More on him in tomorrow's entry.
Posted on Thursday, January 12th, 2012
Picking up from where I left off in my last entry where I started talking about Stephen Colbert...
Yesterday morning I went to the Colbert Nation website so I could take another look at a particularly outrageous video showing just how huge a piece of shit Rush Limbaugh is. The footage hadn't been posted yet, but I did find something equally interesting. All of the heroes who donated money to the Colbert Super PAC could type in their name and see a video clip where Stephen Colbert thanked them on his show. Sweet! Here's me...
Oh... and last night I checked again and the video I wanted to watch again had been posted...
Yes! Such is the irrefutable integrity of FOX "News" and Rush Limbaugh. And do you think they'll even consider issuing a retraction? Or even a clarification? I suppose it depends on how big of a fallout there is from a fucking COMEDY NETWORK SHOW fact-checking the Conservative agenda at FOX. As I've said a dozen times, I don't give a shit where anybody chooses to get their news. But be honest about it. Anybody watching FOX "News" (or any network, really) who believes that they're getting a "Fair and Balanced" look at politics and current events is hopelessly deluded. Go sell that bullshit somewhere else.
In any event... I, for one, am thrilled to see that my tax dollars are actually going to a good cause for once...
Trick-or-Treat! — Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Ever since we first had a White House, our presidents have held extravagant events for all kinds of reasons. President Reagan once held a massively pricey State Dinner for Princess Diana (and invited John Travolta for heavens sake). But because this is President Obama we're talking about, first he gets eviscerated for throwing some military families a Halloween party, then gets accused with lies of having covered it up?
Spending crazy amounts of money on a visiting princess from a foreign country doesn't register outrage, but spending money to treat American heroes who have sacrificed so much for our country... well... they're just not worth it.
But regardless, you'd think that Fox "News" would have brought up some of the expensive White House events from the past in the interest of being "Fair and Balanced"... but no. And it's not like anybody would expect that sack of shit Rush Limbaugh to ever utter a single fucking word that wasn't in some way attacking this country's president. His listeners would probably have an embolism if he were to tell them that Ronald Reagan also threw expensive parties at the White House during a time of economic crisis. Even if he didn't relate LIES that the government then covered it up. Because you can make up whatever outrageous crap you want about President Obama, but don't you dare say anything even remotely disparaging about President Reagan! He was a Founding Father of this great nation and a True Christian... not some kind of Secret Muslim Socialist like Obama!
I swear, sometimes the dumbfuckery of the gullible American public is so overwhelming I have to sit back and marvel at the fact that half the populace has the brain power to even breath... let alone think for themselves. And why should they do that? There's a bloated asshole on the radio manipulating them with bullshit and lies they're too fucking stupid to ever question. Because thinking is hard.
GAH! It's enough to drive you crazy.
I really need to start drinking more.
Posted on Friday, January 13th, 2012
I don't really believe in old wive's tales and superstitions and stuff. Sure I feel that most superstitions are probably rooted in a grain of truth since they keep getting reinforced through the ages. But time has a way of warping the truth, so it's not like I think that "stepping on a crack will break my mother's back"... or "wishing on a shooting star makes your wish come true"... or that "Friday the 13th is is an unlucky day."
But boy was my belief (or lack thereof) tested today.
Because if I believed in luck, this would have been a horribly unlucky day. So many things kept going wrong that it felt as if my world had been turned up-side-down...
But now that the day is over, I've decided it was just a coincidence. Bad days happen from time to time, mine happened to be on Friday the 13th, and now I - - -
Just as I was typing that last sentence, I got a wicked leg cramp.
Guess it's probably best to stop writing... post this entry... and then go to bed before my living room explodes or something...
Stupid Friday the 13th.
Posted on Saturday, January 14th, 2012
Lately I've been looking at some of the "Voter Guides" that are put out by various organizations. They are meant to dissect the candidates on the issues so you can be "an informed voter." Some of them are kind of funny. Some of them are kind of sad. A few of them are kind of disgusting. But most all of them seem to be more "instructions" than "guides." These organizations have an agenda, and they slant everything towards their candidate of choice... all while claiming to be "presenting the facts." But whatever. If it helps like-minded individuals figure out their vote, I guess that's better than voting with no information at all.
But, thanks to the internet, there are also "Voter Guides" that are actually trying to be guides. They allow the voter to input how they feel about various issues, then calculates candidate scores based on how they have campaigned on those same issues. Assuming that the data used for the calculations is faithful to the candidates' views, it's a really helpful tool.
Like this one from Voting Aid, where you move sliders based on how you agree (or disagree) with a statement, and it finds your candidate...
Unfortunately, they show the scores as you answer the questions which is kind of defeating the purpose. This allows the user to adjust answers based on any predisposition they might have towards the candidates. I know I was certainly tempted to try and adjust my answers so that Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum got the lowest score possible.
But it turns out I didn't have to bother. Even when answering the questions as honestly and accurately as I could, the asshole still came in dead-last...
The surprising thing here is not that Jon Huntsman is the candidate who is most compatible with my views. That was totally expected. The surprise was that Ron Paul ranked so low. I'd have thought he would have come in much higher. Certainly higher than Rick Perry if I were ranking them manually. Probably higher than Mitt Romney.
My results were accurate from the standpoint that the only candidate I would consider voting for in a race with President Obama would be Jon Huntsman.
But, alas, it looks like I won't have to worry about that contest.
And since none of the other candidates have a chance of wooing the independent voters needed to defeat Obama, I'm kind of pulling for Gingrich to win over Romney because at least then we'd have some good debates.
But, alas, it looks like I won't have to worry about that either.
In all likelihood we're getting Mittens as a candidate followed by four more years of President Obama.
Posted on Sunday, January 15th, 2012
It's Bullet Sunday and I'm so happy I could crap my pants!
• That Dog Won't Hunt! So Jon Huntsman, the only Republican candidate that I might have voted for, is dropping out of the race. And since the remaining candidates will be hard pressed to sway independent voters to their respective agendas, I guess that we're in for four more years of President Obama. Unless he punches Betty White in the face while wiping his ass with the American flag during a televised White House press conference or something.
Now, if you will excuse me, I shall now go and mourn the loss of what could have been our three First Daughters...
Sadly, Mitt Romney has no hot daughters (that he knows of, I'm sure). Though I'm starting to wonder if he'll even be a factor now that Stephen Colbert has entered the race in South Carolina and these wicked attack ads are airing...
Genius. And it's funny because it's true!
• It's a Fucking Frog! Just when I think that it's impossible for nature to shock me more than it already has... along comes The World's Tiniest Frog...
Photograph by Christopher Austin, Louisiana State University
How in the hell is this even possible? That's a DIME! And that's an actual frog sitting on top... not even half the size of the coin. How does its lungs function when they must barely be the size of the air molecules they breathe in? Unbelievable. And cute. Lookat da iddybitty froggy!
• ZOMFG it's Music! After one of my favorite bands, The Shins, kind of imploded... I worried that we'd never hear from them again. Shins mastermind James Mercer appeared to move on to a new collaboration called Broken Bells with DJ Danger Mouse, so I figured that was the end of it. But lo and behold this last week I got an iTunes pre-sale notice for a new band line-up and a new album called Port of Morrow...
My expectations are high. Fortunately, the preview track Simple Song didn't disappoint. Can't wait until I get to hear the rest of the album in March. You can pre-order your own copy at the iTunes Music Store here.
• Eggxactly Right! Because groceries are so stupid-expensive, I find myself buying foodstuffs not because I necessarily want them, but because they're on sale for cheap. Most of the time, this comes back to bite me in the ass, but every once in a while I stumble across something so delicious that I wonder how I ever survived without it. Such was the case with Crystal Farms' "Three Cheese Chef's Omlet" from the freezer case...
Holy cow. It's the perfect omelet. Light, fluffy, and loaded with quality, flavorful cheese... from a frickin' microwave! When served on buttered toast with a little ground pepper... it's a quick and easy breakfast that's so good. Which means that it's probably being discontinued and the reason it was on sale was because they were clearing out their inventory. Crap.
• Well I'll Be! And so Washington State is dangerously close to passing Marriage Equality legislation. Color me pleasantly surprised. Despite the fact that "The Coast" is decidedly liberal... the view from Redneckistan here on the other side of the mountains is often cloudy when it comes to gay marriage. Oh I'm sure there are many people here who have no problem with everybody getting their fair shot at happiness (as promised when our country was founded). And there's undoubtedly a growing number of people here who are tired of their gay friends and family being relegated to second class citizens. And it's certain that more and more heterosexual couples are realizing that same-sex marriage has
It just comes down to whether enough politicians will do the right thing and move forward in a way that an increasing majority of Americans want to have happen. Here's hoping.
And now I have to get back to work. And Dune, which is playing as background noise here in my living room. THE SPICE MUST FLOW!
Posted on Monday, January 16th, 2012
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. In my humble opinion, it's probably one of the best-known speeches that most people never bother to listen to. That's a real shame, because it's famous for a very good reason.
I spent the entirety of my day at work, so I don't have anything to blog about.
What I do have is this awesome video for one of my favorite songs from my second-favorite album of 2011... it's Wait & See by Holy Ghost!
What's so awesome about it is that band members Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel only make cameo appearances... they let their fathers be the stars of the video! That's right, they got their dads to stand in for them as aging pop stars who still act like they're in their twenties. Freakin' hilarious...
Always nice to see a music video that can surprise me.
Posted on Tuesday, January 17th, 2012
I first became a fan of Betty White while watching reruns of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Her character of Sue Ann Nivens was about the most beautifully messed-up thing I had ever seen on television, and any episode where she appeared was guaranteed to be a laugh riot.
This led to me watching game shows where Betty might appear, and her guest-spots on Match Game, Password, and many others became the stuff of legends.
After that, Betty became a bit of an obsession, and I'd watch anything she'd appear on. And yes, this included 180 episodes of The Golden Girls plus twenty-some-odd episodes of The Golden Palace. Probably because of all the things Betty has done, playing naive and innocent Rose Nylund was the most bizarre. It was not only opposite of what Betty White was like in real-life... but it was also opposite from most other characters she had played. The easy route would have been for her to take the role of man-obsessed sex-fiend Blanche Devereaux (which she was originally offered), but instead she went for the role that would be more of a challenge.
Though, I dare say that playing one of the sweetest, kindest people on earth wasn't too much of a stretch. Betty's tireless efforts on behalf of animals and other worthwhile organizations sets the bar for others to follow. And despite her having always been a bit raunchy, the fact that she is so widely known to be incredibly kind, caring, and generous makes it easy for me to be a huge, huge fan...
As you can imagine, I was very happy when she made such a huge comeback in recent years. Though, in reality, she never really went anywhere (as her massive IMDB page will show). To see legions of people loving on Betty as I had for decades is pretty amazing. That this newfound popularity led to even more fantastic appearances... such as her groundbreaking guest-hosting gig on Saturday Night Live... not to mention a new television show with Hot in Cleveland... is a Betty-fan's dream come true.
So Happy 90th Birthday to one of my favorite people on earth!
Here's hoping for many more birthdays, and many more years of doing what you do best... entertaining the world in a way few people have ever done!
If you want to help her celebrate, I can think of no better way than cruising YouTube for Betty White videos. That can bring a smile on even the worst days!
Posted on Wednesday, January 18th, 2012
Today my blog has joined with thousands of other sites that are going dark in protest of SOPA & PIPA legislation, both of which have the scary possibility of destroying freedom of expression on the internet.
Of course since my site is dark you can't read this... but, if you're in the future now, you can take a look at what Blogography looked like today by clicking on this link (thanks to Zachary Johnson for the awesome code!).
If you are so inclined, you can read more about SOPA & PIPA here.
If you would prefer not to get into the gory details, suffice to say that SOPA & PIPA are trying to do a good thing (crack down on internet piracy) badly (by destroying the internet). It basically boils down to politicians sucking up to lobbyists at the expense of the people they are supposed to be serving.
I absolutely support fighting piracy. I work with industries which have been damaged by people stealing their property, and I know the havoc it causes. So when idiot politicians who have been duped (or bought) to defend SOPA & PIPA are saying "we're fighting to save American jobs!"... they're actually talking about people like me. But they're not speaking for people like me. Because I would never support this kind of stupid shit which would do nothing to actually stop piracy. Ultimately SOPA & PIPA are more about censorship than justice, and I'll have no part of it.
The only internet that matters is a free and open internet.
Anything less, for better or worse, is unacceptable, and nobody should be given the power to change that.
Posted on Thursday, January 19th, 2012
ZOMFG! I have a cold y'all!
I'm fairly lucky in that I rarely get hit with colds or the flu. After going back through my blog, I see that the last time I had a cold was in February of 2009... or three years ago. Not surprisingly, everything I'm feeling now was pretty much summed up when I wrote about it then. LOL! LMFAO! ROTFL!
I say "not surprisingly" because my "cold routine" is always the same...
SYMPTOMS: Sinus tickle... beginnings of a sore throat.
DIAGNOSIS: Dude! You're coming down with a cold!
PRESCRIPTION: Overdose on Vitamin C, Spirulina, and Excederin PM for sleep.
SYMPTOMS: Runny nose, congestion, sore throat.
DIAGNOSIS: Dude! You totally have a cold now!
PRESCRIPTION: Overdose on Vitamin C and Spirulina. Take DayQuil to survive the work day. Take NyQuil to go comatose at night. Go on a Pine-Orange-Banana juice fast. Zinc lozenges throughout the day.
SYMPTOMS: Congestion so bad your head will explode, very runny nose, sore throat.
DIAGNOSIS: Dude! You are dying!
PRESCRIPTION: Same as day two... PLUS chocolate pudding.
SYMPTOMS: Minor residual symptoms... little bit of a runny nose left.
DIAGNOSIS: Dude! You're gonna live!
PRESCRIPTION: Regular doses of Vitamin C and Spirulina. NO cold medications.
Now... if I'm lucky, Day Four is the end of it. I wake up on Day Five and am pretty much cured. But every once in a while, I get "The Cold Cure Fake-Out" which means your cold comes back stronger and harder than ever on Day Five. In which case I'm screwed. Colds like that can hang on for weeks.
Right now I am at the end of Day Three. I can already feel my cold breaking, and have stopped taking all cold medication (I find it's good to stop as soon as possible, because cold meds seem to prolong a cold if taken too long). Which means tomorrow I'll start recovering. That's awesome, because two days of misery is more than enough.
But then there's Day Five. Where I'm either cured or screwed.
Now there's a Saturday to look forward to.
Posted on Friday, January 20th, 2012
I love the music of Etta James.
And even though the concert I attended with Ms. Sizzle ended up being one of the most bizarre events of my life, I feel incredibly blessed to have seen her perform live. Truly, there are few talents that can even approach that of Ms. James.
My favorite song of hers is the one she's most famous for. And while I could have easily tracked down something more obscure, I wouldn't have found anything more beautiful...
Rest in peace, Etta. Your amazing voice will live on forever.
Posted on Saturday, January 21st, 2012
Last night as my cold was ending and my sinuses were draining out, I was aching too much to sleep. Instead I wrote today's blog post. This morning I went to read it and couldn't understand what in the heck I was talking about. At first I was going to try and edit it into something cohesive, but decided to delete it instead.
Luckily Kim came along with a meme to blog about this fine Saturday (which Marty also did). It's ELEVEN RANDOM THINGS ABOUT YOU!
And now I'm answering Kim's Eleven questions...
I think I'm supposed to ask eleven questions of my own now, but I'm wiped out. Kim has good questions... answer hers!
Posted on Sunday, January 22nd, 2012
THE SNOWPOCALYPSE IS UPON US! SNOWMAGEDDON IS HERE! Grab that special someone and bundle up tight, because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Depp! People can say what they like, but nobody in cinema amazes me like Johnny Depp. The guy is absolutely talented... absolutely fearless... and absolutely brilliant. He can disappear into a role unlike anybody else, and owns any character he takes on. And this time it's yet another Tim Burton collaboration where he will be playing Barnabas Collins in the movie adaptation of Dark Shadows. This one image that's been released is enough to make me want to see this movie...
Just like it only took one image for me to want to see these movies...
I'll be the first to admit that not every film Johnny Depp signs onto ends up being great. But his performances are always interesting. It's hard to ask for anything more than that, so I'm always looking forward to his next performance.
• Sniffle! I tend to look at everything as a learning experience. Even having a cold. This time around I learned about a new tissue... COOL TOUCH KLEENEX...
It is awesome on a sore nose because it is, in fact, cool to the touch. And it feels great on your nose. I think it must be some kind of scent-free menthol-like substance that is body-heat activated. Or not. But however they make it happen, it's a pretty sweet advance in tissue technology, and the only tissue I'll be buying from now on.
I could tell you what a terrific, quirky character Walter "The Finder" Sherman is (played by Geoff Stults) and how entertaining the stories are, but all I really need to say is that it has Michael Clarke Duncan in it. If you're looking for something a little different to watch this winter, this show may be worth a look. You can catch the last couple episodes streaming on the official FOX site.
• Netflix Streaming Movie of the Month! Lately I've been on a foreign movie binge and discovering some real gems. The latest is a wonderful French film called The Grocer's Son now streaming on Netflix...
After his father has a heart attack, a guy living in Paris returns to his family home in the countryside to help his mother with their store. His job is to drive a grocery van to small villages and remote homes so that the elderly people there can buy foodstuffs. After a while he begins to form a bond with his customers and his outlook on life starts to change. If you're looking for some "comfort cinema" this sweet story is worth watching.
• Netflix Streaming TV Series of the Month! The contemporary re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes by Steven Moffat and the BBC is currently streaming on Netflix. It is beyond brilliant, and I highly recommend giving it a look if you haven't already...
Like most shows from across the pond, Sherlock has stories, acting, and production values that are leagues above what typically passes for American television. Probably because each series only has three episodes. They put all their good ideas into small number of shows rather than trying to stretch everything out over 22 episodes like they do here.
• Cinematic Anticipation! There's been a movie hovering on the horizon that has me pretty excited. Now Robot and Frank has been unleashed at Sundance and the reviews have been pretty great...
I mean, come on, it's got Frank Langella playing a retired cat burglar who is given a robot to help around the house. But Frank discovers a much more interesting use for his robot pal... crime. As a premise, it doesn't get much better than that!
Annnnnd... scene. I need toast and jam.
Posted on Monday, January 23rd, 2012
What a freaky-ass day.
I can only guess that this has something to do with the Chinese New Year beginning. It's The Year of the Dragon, after all. And while I don't put much stock into the Chinese Zodiac, I do think it's a pretty entertaining and well-thought-out concept. Especially since Dragons have Rats and Monkeys as bestest friends, which is kind of cool if you ask me...
My day started when I went to get into my car and drive to work. And found that I couldn't. There was a sheet of ice a quarter-inch thick covering everything... including the door. This meant fifteen minutes of scraping ice out of the door seams with the bottle opener on my keychain. Then another ten minutes chipping ice off the rest of my car with an ice scraper before my vehicle was fit to drive. It wouldn't have been all that bad if not for the fact that my bottle opener broke, giving up its life so I could go to work. I've had it for over a decade and used it often, but don't think I ever actually opened a bottle with it.
Once I finally made it to work, I was plagued with a series of inexplicably bizarre phone calls (and here I was just saying how much I hated talking on the phone!). The bad news is that it wasted entirely too much of my time. The good news is that I got to alleviate my boredom by getting caught up on Facebook and Twitter.
I also got caught up with entertainment news and learned that Seal and Heidi Klum were breaking up their marriage after seven years. I dunno why, but I was pretty sad to hear it.
And speaking of marriage... I then got caught up on news news and learned that Washington State's Legislature has enough votes to pass marriage equality. Whether this actually happens remains to be seen, but I am really happy that my gay and lesbian friends here in The Evergreen State are one step closer to being able to celebrate their relationships in marriage just like opposite-sex couples can!
Of course, all is not big gay smiles here in The Pacific Northwest...
This is Pastor Ken Hutcherson who is heading up some backwards anti-equality organization had this to say about Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire... "She might as well change her name to John Wilkes Booth because what she’s doing now is trying to put a bullet in the head of one of the greatest traditions that has ever existed and has built our society, and that is marriage between one man and one woman."
Far be it for me to speak ill of a man of the cloth... but what a fucking idiot.
What "puts a bullet in the head of marriage" is DIVORCE you dumbass. And why drag President Lincoln into this? Perhaps you hadn't heard, but the man eventually ended up fighting for equality of peoples in kind of a big way. Not really the best example you could have used.
What's important is that dinosaurs like Pastor Ken are slowly and steadily becoming a thing of the past as new generations of Americans understand that FREEDOM means that you sometimes have to accept shit you don't want to. Don't believe in same-sex marriage? Then how about you don't fucking marry somebody of the same sex?
But I guess I should know better than to try and apply logic to situations like these. To entirely too many people, it's only "freedom" when everything goes your way.
Posted on Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
My online sewing classes have started!
I learned to sew when I was pretty young. My grandmother thought it was important that I be able to mend a hole in a shirt or hem a pair of pants, so she taught me the basics. Over the years I've made use of my sewing skills from time to time. Usually to fix a piece of clothing I've ripped up, but sometimes to do something interesting. Like make a Halloween costume...
But I've grown rusty over the years, and the last thing I want to do is embarrass myself in front of my grandmother the next time I have to use her sewing machine.
And sew (heh heh) I signed up for an e-course over at Whipstitch Modern Sewing called "Essential Sewing." It sounded like exactly what I needed to get my confidence back and hone my skills for whatever sewing-related emergencies might come up. The itinerary is surprisingly comprehensive, and takes six weeks to complete (all for the ridiculous bargain price of $179!).
The e-course started with an intro video yesterday.
It's nothing like I thought it would be.
It's actually fun.
That's because Deborah isn't content to just throw out instructions, her videos are all about getting everybody excited about sewing. And she's funny...
NOTE: Deborah doesn't actually say this. I'm paraphrasing.
Students started out by introducing ourselves, talking about our sewing experience, then telling everybody our "sewing fantasy"... what we aspire to do once we've completed the course. My fantasy is to be able to neatly extend sleeves on shirts and jackets when I can't find them in "Tall" sizes (which is all the time). Fingers crossed that Deb will make all my fantasies come true!*
Tonight was the second video where Deborah starts digging into the tools you'll need. Like scissors...
NOTE: Deborah doesn't actually say this. I'm paraphrasing again.
Apparently, when it comes to scissors, ideally you want eight long hard inches of steel. I was kind of embarrassed when I had to tell everybody in the class that I'm packin' two inches of soft aluminum... with pink plastic handles...
What I didn't have the guts to share is that my grandmother's sewing machine is like... sixty years old or something. Oh well. It totally works...
From there we went on to learning about irons...
NOTE: Deborah doesn't actually say this. She SHOULD though, right?
When I signed up for the class, I was excited about becoming a better seamstress seamster(?), but kind of dreading having to do the work to actually get there. But now? After only two videos, I am completely psyched to dig in and learn to sew stuff good!
I've decided to post my progress on Tuesday of each week. THAT aught to be interesting.
In the meanwhile, if you want to join in on the class (or take a look at the classes offered for all experience levels)... click here to visit the Whipstitch e-course page! Then prepare to have your world rocked**.
*I'd be dubious, but she wouldn't be the first woman putting videos on the internet that have promised to make my fantasies come true, then delivered on that promise!
**Or at least nicely tailored.
Posted on Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
When you wake up to the sound of snowplows scraping the street, it's more difficult than usual to get out of bed. Obviously it snowed last night, could still be snowing, and that means the roads are going to suck.
Except it turns out it wasn't snow, it was rain. Which was freezing over the snow and ended up creating an icy crust all over the roads... and my car. This made driving to work a bit of an ordeal because everybody was sliding on shards of ice...
Tonight it's snowing again, so tomorrow there will be snow on ice on snow.
That's something to look forward to.
In other news, I've put my good-bye letter to BlackBerry and RIM in an extended entry...
Posted on Thursday, January 26th, 2012
Newt Gingrich is a moron and let me tell you why.
At a campaign stop at Florida's Space Coast, he promised that there will be a permanent American lunar colony within eight years if he is elected president. As if that weren't bad enough, people seem to be crazy in love with the idea.
Putting aside where we're going to get the money to pay for all this when taxes are going to be cut to the bone under a Gingrich presidency, I have to say that this is one of the stupidest ideas I have ever heard.
HAVE WE LEARNED NOTHING FROM SPACE:1999?!?
For those not in the know, SPACE: 1999 was a 1970's science fiction show that told the cautionary tale of what happens when you build a lunar colony on the moon.
In the series, the founding of Moonbase Alpha leads to earth storing their nuclear waste on the far side of the moon. One day, a strange magnetic radiation causes the waste to go into meltdown and a massive thermonuclear explosion ensues...
And do you know what happens next?
THE MOON IS BLASTED OUT OF EARTH ORBIT AND HURLED INTO SPACE, that's what!
Never mind that having our moon gone missing would be devastating for all life on earth because of it fucking up the weather and tides and stuff... that's not even the worst part. No, the worst part is that the humans stuck on the moon will eventually encounter freaky-ass space monsters... freaky-ass space bitches... AND freaky-ass space bitches that turn into freaky-ass space monsters!
And there you have it. Vote for Newt Gingrich if you must, but only if you want to lose our moon and have American citizens face space bitches that turn into space monsters (which, admittedly, would be a terrific candidate for the fourth Mrs. Gingrich... COINCIDENCE?!?).
As for me? I choose to REMEMBER MOONBASE ALPHA! SAY NO LUNAR COLONIZATION! SAY NO TO NEWT GINGRICH!
It's at times like these that I truly fear for this country. Spread the word. Save us all.
Posted on Friday, January 27th, 2012
I think most everyone has experienced a time when they feel very small and alone.
The last time I remember truly feeling that way was in the 1990's when I was doing a lot of traveling by myself. Nothing makes you feel more small and alone than wandering in a strange country where you don't speak the language and don't really know what you're doing. Many times it was just me, my backpack, a map, and very little money.
It was a different time. Blogging hadn't quite arrived. Social networking as we know it now didn't exist. Sure the internet was around, but it wasn't something you carried around in your pocket like today. The way I can best describe life back then is disconnected.
Now I'm never alone. Not really.
Even when I'm alone.
Thanks to the internet, I have friends around the world. Somebody I know somewhere is online at any given time and all it takes is a Tweet or a Facebook update to reach them. I'm hardly ever disconnected... even when I'm traveling in foreign lands far from home. I just pull out my iPhone and the entire world is at my fingertips.
Feeling "alone" for me now-a-days has radically changed.
It's no longer so much about me so much as it's about things around me.
Last year a movie came out called The Eagle. It was roundly savaged in the reviews. People really disliked the film. This was disappointing to me because I'm a fan of Roman Empire era books and movies and was looking forward to it. But I ended up skipping it. Who has time for bad movies?
Tonight I wanted some background noise while working so I turned on the television. As I was whipping through channel after channel of nothing, I saw that HBO had The Eagle playing, so I left it there and went back to work. At least I wouldn't be distracted.
But slowly the movie sucked me in. I ended up really liking it.
And knowing that so many people hated it suddenly made me feel very alone.
I just didn't get it. Yes, the story was simple and straightforward, but it's well-crafted. It's beautifully shot. Good and evil aren't spelled out in black & white, but are subjective and interesting. The film is entertaining overall and even a bit touching in places. So... what's the problem? In an effort to understand what I had missed that was so loathsome, I started reading the bad reviews. I didn't agree with much of them.
A big deal was made over how Romans were played by Americans speaking English where the Brits were played by actual Brits speaking Gaelic. I guess it's odd, but it had an internal logic that was consistent, so I wasn't bothered. Many reviews criticized Channing Tatum's performance as "uninspiring." This was puzzling to me. His character at its core was disgraced and dejected, and I think that came across. Maybe he could have been a little more passionate as his quest came to a head, but even then I though his emotional detachment worked in the context of the character...
Tatum plays Marcus Flavius Aquila, a Roman Centurian whose father disappeared with the famous Ninth Legion in the wilds of Scotland, taking the the famed Eagle Standard (a symbol of Rome) with them. Aquila chooses to be posted in Britain in the hopes that he can regain his family honor there. But his military career is cut short when he is badly wounded by a hoard of invading Celts. While recovering, he hears rumors that the Eagle Standard has been seen in the North in the hands of the enemy. The film then becomes a buddy flick as Aquila and his British slave Escra (Jamie Bell) go on a quest to recover The Eagle so Aquila's family name can be cleared and Rome's honor can be snatched from the jaws of defeat. Some fighting and an encounter with "Seal People" ensue...
So I liked the movie and I'm pretty much alone in that.
Maybe I can commiserate with fans of the television show Chuck which aired its last episode tonight because not very many people liked it*.
Being alone together makes being alone not so bad!
*Including me. I frickin' hated the show Chuck. The only thing that could get me to watch an episode would be if the whiny little bitch Chuck Bartowski was killed in some horribly gruesome manner.
Posted on Saturday, January 28th, 2012
There's new products.
And then there's dangerously new products.
After I got home from work, I saw a commercial for "Krave," which kind of blew my mind...
Because, seriously... IT'S CEREAL FILLED WITH CHOCOLATE CANDY! Isn't it glorious?
Pour a shot of Jägermeister on top, and you've got a party.
My work Mac has been dying for a while now. It's been in near constant use for six years, so this isn't surprising. I'm just happy that it has worked so well for so long... and especially pleased that Apple supported it all this time. So far as I know, you can still run all the latest software on the latest version of MacOS X, which is pretty remarkable. Sure it runs slow, but not prohibitively so. If the video and hard drive controllers weren't flaking out, I probable could have gotten another year or two out of it. But, alas, the video gets jittery even when I replace the video card, and I keep losing files and having crashes, soooooo... I guess it's time.
At first I was looking into getting another Mac Pro. But then I noticed that Apple seems to be distancing themselves from their desktop computer line. It's rarely updated and no real innovations have been happening there for a while. Where the action is at is in the iMac line...
The top-of-the-line iMac is over twice as fast as my current computer. That's not as nice as a new mid-level Mac Pro, which would be four times faster, but an iMac is half the price, so there you have it. It's also pretty. So I ordered a tricked out a 27-inch iMac and we'll see how it goes.
Nothing quite like adding even more profit to Apple's bottom line to make you feel alive.
Posted on Sunday, January 29th, 2012
Buckle up and strap in, another edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Fight! As Florida's Republican Primary draws near, the battle between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney is really getting nasty. Partly because the attack ads flying back and forth are pretty harsh... but mostly because nasty-ass Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum is still hanging on the election like a nasty-ass used condom stuck on the side of a nasty-ass trash can...
Heeeeeeere's Santorum! — Photos by Scott Olson/Getty and ABC
I wonder how Gingrich and Romney are going to get rid of him? Maybe they could look into how to get shit stains out of underwear and give that a try.
• Hobbits! LEGO announced that they have a license for new sets based on The Lord of The Rings. I dare say that I am actually more excited about this than I was when they got the Batman license (if such a thing is possible)...
Photo taken from Brickset!
When the LEGO Lord of the Rings video game comes out, I will be deliriously happy.
• Noooooo! It's not all good news in the world of LEGO though... the incredible LEGO UNIVERSE massive multi-player online game is shutting down at the end of the month...
The game is really well done and a lot of fun but, unfortunately, I rarely had time to play it. I wish that they would take all the game assets and release it as an offline adventure game, because there was a lot of good stuff in there.
• Mode! A friend sent me this video of a guy and his two kids performing Depeche Mode's awesome song Everything Counts. So epic it hurts...
Here's hoping that they take on People are People as a follow-up.
• Render! My work requires that I be able to render 3-D images from time to time. 3-D itself is fairly easy, and there are apps that make it dead simple to do basic stuff. Where the challenge comes is doing 3-D rendering well. This requires some very good tools that usually come with a steep learning curve. I started out with a program called Electric Image Animation System to render, because that's what Industrial Light and Magic used when they re-did the special effects for the Star Wars films. I needed a 3-D modeler, so I had to learn Form-Z. Eventually EIAS got its own modeler, so I learned that. After a while EIAS dropped their modeler. This pissed me off, so I dumped EIAS and learned Cinema 4D. But Cinema 4D didn't render as nicely as EIAS, so I went back to EIAS and learned how to use modo for my modeling. Eventually I got sick and tired of jumping back and forth between EIAS and modo and dumped both of them for NewTek's all-in-one package called Lightwave 3D. Lightwave was moving to a cool new technology called CORE, and I wanted in. But then NewTek dumped CORE so I dumped Lightwave 3D. Not wanting to start all over again, I went back to EIAS and modo. But then modo started adding its own rendering and animation tools that were really sweet, so I dumped EIAS. Now I use modo for everything and love it.
Except... in the background there has always been Maya, a hideously cool 3D package that I've always lusted after but could never afford. For even a basic Maya setup, you're paying $3500 minimum (and the license upkeep is equally pricey). But yesterday I was offered a Maya license for a project that's coming up. So now I'm torn. Do I really want to take the time to learn a new program all over again? The answer to that is ABSOLUTELY! I have never shied away from learning something new, and this is a dream come true. The problem is that I don't have time to take the time to learn Maya, so I had to decline this most generous offer.
Nothing quite like watching Reality walk into the room and crush a dream right in front of you.
And on that happy note, the weekend is over.
Posted on Monday, January 30th, 2012
My lunch today consists of a 5-Hour Energy Shot and some oatmeal-raisin cookies. I'm hoping that they will keep me awake while I make my way through the heap of emails that took a dump on my in-box this morning.
One of the emails I got was regarding my mention of traveling in the 1990's, and was asking if I had photos of what I looked like back then. I suppose I have lots of them. But that was from the pre-digital era, so I don't know where the photos are. I do have this one of me from 1994 stuck on my bulletin board though...
And here's one from 1992 that I had posted earlier...
Yes, yes I know... I was so damn hot back then! What happened? Your guess is as good as mine, but I'm willing to bet that Jägermeister is involved.
The strange thing about looking at these photos is realizing how different things are for me when I travel now vs. how I traveled twenty years ago. I've hinted about it before, but back then I was redefining the meaning of "budget travel." All my money went into just getting there. I remember times of having to decide between such luxuries as "eating" or "having a place to sleep at night." Heady days of having $25 to last three days, so I'd sleep in a train station and try to find a bakery selling day-old bread for cheap so I could eat... then rationing the loaf so it lasted for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Absolutely every move I'd make would have to be weighed against the cost, and many days were spent just scraping by as I went from place to place.
Looking back, I should have been miserable... but I truly wasn't. I wanted to travel to as many interesting places as I could, so I'd take a new trip the minute I had enough money for airfare. I didn't care that this left me with nothing to live on once I got there, I was compelled to go. And being hungry and trying to find a safe place to sleep because I blew all my money on a museum ticket was just the way things were.
Yet... I was having the time of my life.
And nothing anybody could say would convince me otherwise.
Of course today I look back on some of the more dicey days and am both horrified I put myself in those situations... and amazed I survived them... but that's youth for you. I can honestly say I wouldn't change a thing. Life is good.
Now I should probably get back to work. The rest of these emails aren't going to answer themselves.
But one more thing before I go... congratulations to one of my favorite people on earth, BETTY WHITE, for her SAG win last night! Big buckets of awesome...
Photo from Kevin Winter, Getty Images
I wish Betty had time to do a guest appearance on Raising Hope, Happy Endings, or The Finder... her cameos are always legendary, and it would be sweet to have her appearing on my favorite shows.
Posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
I thought I lost my passport, so I'm recovering from a total meltdown right now. I hate it when I misplace important stuff like that.
But enough about me.
And so, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, Mitt Romney won the Florida Primary in a cake-walk. Congratulations, Republicans! You might as well have selected President Obama to be your candidate...
In all seriousness, Hello Kitty would have a better chance of winning against Obama than Romney...
The only way Romney is going to win would be if President Obama punched Betty White in the face while crapping on a bald eagle and then wiping his ass with an American flag during the Super Bowl half-time show as he denounces NASCAR and declares himself an atheist.
And with that mental picture firmly implanted in my brain, I'm off to bed. I probably won't sleep much (as usual), but I've got an incredibly busy day tomorrow, so I might as well pretend to get some rest.
Right after I make sure my passport is still where I think I left it...
Posted on Wednesday, February 1st, 2012
I'm a huge fan, and he did not disappoint. Have to say though... Tom Colicchio saying "I've gotta agree with Pee-Wee..." is something I never thought I'd hear.
And speaking of things I never thought I'd hear (at least in this decade)... Washington State's Senate passed a Marriage Equality Bill tonight, which means we're one step closer to becoming the seventh state to allow same-sex marriage. That's a pretty big deal for a lot of Washingtonians being able to fulfill this country's promise of pursuing happ...i...ness...ss... and... HOLY CRAP THERE'S A SPIDER CRAWLING UP THE WALL!!!!!
Poor spider. He probably came inside to get out of the cold and I had to catch him and throw him back outside. Probably not a lot of food for him out there. Wah! I wonder if it would have been less cruel to smoosh him than to let him starve to death. But I can't bring myself to kill anything if I can help it. Argh.
I hate it when stuff like this happens.
My new work computer arrived today (thank you for the speedy delivery, Apple!). I admit that when I ordered it I was a little worried about how an iMac would fare for professional use. But, now that I've had a chance to play with it for a while, I have to say that I am very happy with the machine...
For anybody who's interested, I've put my thoughts on the iMac in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
After work I had to go to the grocery store.
And while I hate shopping of any kind, I'd have to say that shopping for groceries is the worst. Probably because, unlike the joy of shopping for sayyyyyy... a flamethrower, nobody likes to shop for groceries. They're expensive and boring. What's to love?
But I needed hamburger buns and chocolate milk, so off I went.
Where I had a more miserable time than usual thanks to some really bad parenting going on.
Usually when I see parents who don't seem to know what they're doing with their children, I refer them to my best-selling book, Minding Your Kids in Public for Dumbasses...
But, because I am feeling generous this evening, I am going to provide an excerpt with some critical insight on child-rearing for FREE! Yes, that's right... I'm giving away FREE PARENTING ADVICE! Just one of the many benefits of being a Blogography reader, yo.
CHAPTER SIX: SHOPPING
Here is a blueprint of a typical grocery store. And here's you shopping for frozen pizza back in the frozen foods aisle...
And here are your kids way over here going ape-shit in the bakery aisle...
GUESS WHAT? YOU FUCKING FAIL AS A PARENT!
NOW PUT DOWN THAT DAMN PIZZA AND GO MIND YOUR FUCKING KIDS, YOU STUPID ASSHOLE!
Otherwise they might get abducted.
Though this is probably not a bad thing. Then at least somebody would be watching them.
No need to thank me. Knowing that I'm making civilization a better place is enough for me!
Posted on Friday, February 3rd, 2012
I live in a small rural community which, from all appearances, is a throwback to simpler times. Visitors passing through town undoubtedly describe it as "quaint" or "idyllic" when they get home to their friends. In many ways, I'd have to agree. This is classic small-town Americana, and living here is quite different from life in the big city. Sometimes in a good way. Sometimes in a bad way.
And tonight after Fringe was over, Seattle's Q13 News from over the mountains informed me that a student from our local Middle School committed suicide after being ruthlessly and relentlessly persecuted and bullied.
Because he was gay.
Which only reinforces what everybody already knows: no community is immune from this vile poison that's killing our youth. Including my community. And now yet another child is dead...
All because killing himself was the only way this young man felt he could find peace from a society so filled with hate that there was no place in it for him to live...
To say I am horrified and disgusted is an understatement beyond measure.
His school is two minutes from my home.
And now I have to live with the fact that two minutes from my home, a kid was being brutally abused day-in and day-out. And it was so bad that death was considered to be the only way to escape it.
So congratulations to Rick Santorum's vision for a gay-free society!
Job well done to Michele Bachmann's war on gay teens!
Praise the Lord for Pat Robertson's slaying of gay abominations!
And a hearty round of applause to everybody who got their wish when yet another "filthy homosexual" was purged from this earth! Your never-ending quest to create a society that is savagely hostile for anybody different from yourselves is working better than you could have ever dreamed! I'm sure that this freedom-filled American utopia you're working so hard to build for your children will be a paradise unequalled!
Unless your children turn out to be gay, of course.
Or if people just think they're gay.
Or if they happen to wander into the line of fire being taken by another kid who is gay.
Then I guess your kids will have to take their chances just like everybody else. I mean, it's a pity that innocent
One day... hopefully one day very soon... we will look back at this period of history with a shame and horror that is woefully missing today. In the meanwhile, all I can do is say that I'm deeply sorry that we as a society failed you, Rafael Morelos. You deserved far better by our hands. I truly hope you've found the peace you couldn't find in life.
And so it goes...
Posted on Saturday, February 4th, 2012
I do not intimidate easily.
When you travel as much as I do, you really can't intimidate easily... especially when visiting abroad. Because if you don't speak the language and don't know much about the culture, you just have to dig in as politely as you know how and hope for the best. Otherwise you'll end up hungry... or lost... or worse.
As I mentioned previously, I am taking an awesome basic sewing class from Whipstitch. Up until now, it's been basic stuff like cutting fabric in a straight line and practicing stitching on a sewing machine. But now we're starting to sew actual projects, which means I have to go buy material and thread and supplies and stuff.
Which means a trip to the JoAnn Fabric & Craft Store.
A place that intimidates me more than just about anywhere else on earth.
Mostly because I don't really understand the place or how to shop there, but also because the people there are mean. I don't know if it's because I'm a guy... or because I'm a newbie... or because they just don't like my face... or what. But every time I've gone to JoAnn I end up feeling stupid and embarrassed because everybody there (employees and customers alike) seems annoyed with my questions and total lack of knowledge. To them, sewing is important business, and I guess I'm just wasting their time.
So, after what few projects I've taken on, I've learned to not ask questions when I go to JoAnn.
Instead I just blindly wander around looking for stuff I think I need and hope for the best. Until now I've been sewing for myself, so it doesn't matter if I goof up and I really don't care if my Halloween costume is made wrong. But this time I'm sewing for a class, so I wanted to do things right. When you don't know what you're doing and are too afraid to ask questions, this can take a while.
The first thing I had to do was buy fabric for upcoming projects. The problem is I don't know what kind of fabric to get... and there's tons of it to choose from. Since I don't know any fabrics by name, I decided to shop by feel. "Well this kind of feels like a placemat" or "I guess this is what a tote bag should feel like," I'd say to myself. Who knows whether I ended up getting the right stuff... but I do like the colors I found, so I guess that's something.
After that I tried to buy the accessory stuff that's on my supplies list... and failed miserably. The lesson says drawstring and elastic, but there's like a gazillion different kinds and I have no idea what to get. So I get nothing. I guess I'll have to write the class for help and make another horrible trip to JoAnn next week.
Next up I had to buy thread to match my fabrics. I thought this would be easy, but thread spools come in all kinds of different sizes and shapes. I decide to go for the "traditional" spools that I recognize, but the colors don't match very well. So instead I get these tall skinny spools that have designer colors. Hopefully they fit on my grandmother's machine.
Lastly I wanted to go drool over proper 8-inch Gingher dressmaker shears and see how they match up to my 2-inch pink Fiskars. My intent was to just look. But they were on sale for 30% off, so I decided to go ahead and get them. The sale shouldn't have been an incentive since it seemed as if EVERYTHING was on sale at JoAnn, but I do love the sexy bastards, so I guess it was worth spending money I don't have...
And now it was time to have my bolts of fabric cut. This meant interacting with JoAnn employees, which I dread. The last time I needed some fabric cut, the woman started asking me questions I didn't understand and couldn't answer. Not knowing what to do, I told her "I'll just take the fabric please" which only seemed to piss her off. Apparently the stuff I was buying required special handling or something, and the fact that I didn't know this made me stupid.
This time the lady behind the counter seemed very nice, which was a relief. She didn't pitch me any crap while taking care of my fabric, so I felt confident enough to ask her questions like... "Will these scissors work for a right-handed person when it doesn't say so on the box?"... and "Do you know what in the heck 'Wonder Under' is and where I can get it?"... and "Is this 'Sulky' stuff on my list something I can buy here?" She answered me without eye-rolling or a condescending tone, which was a pleasant surprise.
And so tomorrow I can (hopefully) get caught up with Friday's tote bag project and make me a placemat. Though I didn't buy any of this "interfacing" stuff that I apparently need for the placemat, so I might be screwed there.
Oh well. Tonight I'm going to sleep with my new shears and dream about stuff I can cut with them...
...which may or may not include cutting a bitch. Though I'd then have to worry about how tough the bitch was, because I don't want to dull the blades.
Nothing ruins a sexy pair of new scissors like dull blades.
Posted on Sunday, February 5th, 2012
Blogography is locked and loaded, so Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Buzz! When my hair gets so long that I have to blow-dry it, something has to be done. But since I spent all my money on new Gingher shears yesterday, I couldn't afford to get a haircut. Fortunately, a Google search convinced me that this was something I could do myself.
And, because I'm me, I live-Tweeted the whole thing...
And this is how it all turned out...
Not bad for free! I should totally give myself my own medical advice now.
• LEGO! The more I see of the LEGO Lord of the Rings MiniFigs, the more I realize that my life will not be complete until I possess them all. I mean, come on! Has there ever been a LEGO MiniFig cuter than LEGO Hobbits?
And has there ever been a LGO MiniFig scarier than LEGO Gollum?
I mean, seriously...
I can't wait for The Preciousses to be mine!
• Miley! Yes, as I've said a number of times now, I'm a fan of Miley Cyrus. She was funny as hell in Hannah Montana, and she's had some good songs come out of her music career. But the thing that fascinates me most is how she's unapologetically taken on a role in leading her generation towards acceptance and equality...
"We all should be tolerant of one another and embrace our differences. My dad, who is a real man's man, lives on the farm and is as Southern and straight as they come. He loves my gay friends and even supports same-sex marriage. If my father can do it, anyone can. This is America, the nation of dreams. We're so proud of that. And yet certain people are excluded. It's just not right."
—Miley Cyrus, Glamour Magazine
This is what scares the shit out of the backwards, crazy-ass, hard-core anti-equality crowd... the future is coming, and their antiquated bigotry is not a part of it. Game over. It's only a matter of time.
• Sweet! I swear, at a time when our horrible society has me convinced that we all deserve to be extinct, something like this comes along to restore my faith in humanity. I love it...
• Network! Today I dug out an old "Airport Express" unit for my new computer at work. Since the iMac only has one ethernet port, I thought perhaps I could use WiFi for my second network connection. Ten minutes later, I found out I could. Apple has a "Bridge Mode" which allows you to put a WiFi interface on an ethernet connection. Simple!
Since this is an older model, it can only do 802.11g. If I want the speed increase of 802.11n, I'll have to shell out $99 for a newer model. But the IEEE just released a draft of the even faster 802.11ac standard back in November, so maybe I'll wait for that.
Even though iMac won't be able to take advantage of it, who wants to buy old technology?
Of course, all technology is old technology when you think about it.
• Avengers! Holy crap. Seriously, HOLY CRAP...
A super-hero team movie done right is the dream of every comic book fanboy. Given what I've seen so far, my expectations are impossibly high for this film. May 4th cannot get here soon enough.
And now... PUPPY BOWL!!!
Posted on Monday, February 6th, 2012
The amount of hate-mail/hate-comments dropping on my blog have reached new highs lately. It had died down to one a week for the longest time, but now I'm getting at least one a day. I'm guessing it has to do with Washington State getting ready to pass marriage equality and the court decision coming up on Prop 8, because most of the mail/comments are from entries where I talk about that kind of stuff.
Not surprisingly, nothing I've been getting adds anything remotely interesting to the conversation. Instead it's just anonymous profanity and/or insults directed towards me, which is immediately deleted.
The thing that upsets me about all this is not that people are compelled to toss a little hatred my way... but that they're so bad at it. Their profanity is just pathetic and funny, and their attempt at insults aren't even vaguely insulting. It's all just so amateurish and lame.
So, in an attempt to improve the level of hate-mail/hate-comments on my blog, I've decided to help out the haters by giving them some tips on how to hate better. First I'm going to list the five most common "insults" they use... then I'm going to give them a far more insulting alternative...
I can see how bigoted homophobe guys might take it as an insult when somebody calls them "gay" (or some slang approximation thereof) but, since I'm not a bigoted homophobe, this has zero impact as an insult. You might as well be calling me "left-handed" or "short" or "blue-eyes"... they're all wrong, but it's not like I give a shit. On the contrary, being called "gay" is pretty much a compliment in my book. Many of the gay dudes I know are some of the most kind, strong, interesting, hard-working, honest, decent people I've ever met. They also tend to be better-looking and better-groomed than me. To be lumped in with a group like that (even mistakenly!) is not something I mind one bit. No, I'm not into guys, but I have plenty of gay friends that mean more to me than any crap I take for standing with them. So unleash whatever homophobic bullshit on me you want if it makes you feel more secure about your own sexuality. I'm here to help!
MORE INSULTING ALTERNATIVE: "Ur Thoughtless." The very foundation of my beliefs is based on being thoughtful towards others... even if they're being assholes towards me. I am not always successful (especially when I am angry) but I do try. Being told that I'm not trying hard enough is about the most hurtful thing somebody can say to me.
I get labeled as a "liberal" all the time. I'm the first to admit that my political sensibilities do tend to fall in the liberal spectrum, but it's almost always having to do with human rights and environmental issues. Yes, I think the very poor (particularly children) shouldn't have to go hungry or be denied medical care. Yes, I support humanitarian foreign aid efforts. Yes, I am 100% onboard for citizen equality issues such as same-sex marriage. Yes, I believe in a woman's right to choose (even though my personal beliefs may be otherwise). Yes, I am totally supportive of anti-discrimination legislation. Yes, I think the government should have some oversight when monitoring food safety, education, and environmental matters. Etcetera. Etcetera. And if somebody wants to call me "liberal" or "progressive" or "socialist" because of my beliefs, then so be it. But even though I don't consider myself a "liberal," that doesn't mean I'm going to be gravely offended in being labeled one.
MORE INSULTING ALTERNATIVE: "Ur a Hippie." I value hard work highly. So having somebody equate my humanist beliefs with a drugged-out, love-bead-wearing, guitar-strumming, ponytail-bedecked, do-nothing hippie squatting in a park somewhere is pretty damn insulting. I'm about as far away from a hippie as I can get considering I'm not a millionaire but, when it comes to unfounded name-calling, this one gets me riled every time because I Just. Loathe. Hippies. So. Darn. Much.
I get labeled as a "conservative" more often than you might think. Usually by "liberal" friends who simply don't understand how I could possibly agree with anything that any conservative might ever say. Ever. But... there are areas where I absolutely do. Usually when it comes to fiscal responsibility, the folly of entitlements, the one-sidedness of subsidies, and the overall concept of getting government the fuck out of every aspect of our lives. True conservatism promotes personal freedoms as a cornerstone of our society. The fact that so many self-proclaimed "conservatives" completely ignore this fact is not the fault of conservatism... but the hypocrisy of morons who don't know what they're talking about. So go ahead and call me a conservative, because I actually do know what I'm talking about.
MORE INSULTING ALTERNATIVE: "Ur Heartless." It's not my fault that so many faux conservatives come across as heartless bastards, but being lumped in with these people is something that truly stings. I was once called "heartless" because my lack of support for government beef subsidies "hurts small cattle ranches." But I know full well that it's the massive conglomerates with cruel livestock conditions and horrendous pollution that are the biggest beneficiaries of the billions of dollars that our government hands out. Not to mention the health risks that come from cheap beef production. But even knowing what I know, the thought of somebody thinking me heartless is pretty hard to take.
Being called "stupid" is about as popular as it is laughable. Because what I am, in fact, is a genius. Not just a self-proclaimed genius, but an actual certified genius with the IQ test scores to back it up many times over. And when one of my ass cheeks is probably smarter than the dumbass calling me "stupid," it's not like I can ever take their crap seriously. Odds are that they call people "stupid" because they're too fucking brain-dead to debate the issue with any kind of discourse. They read something here and think "I disagree with this statement, therefore the person who wrote it must be stupid!" and away they go. Want to contest my opinions and observations? By all means please do. I love a healthy debate, and think that everybody can learn from other people... even somebody as smart as I am. But call me stupid? All that does is confirm to me that you're the one that's a fucking moron.
MORE INSULTING ALTERNATIVE: "Ur uninformed." Before I form an opinion on anything, I really do try to examine the issue from all sides. I can't learn everything, obviously, but I want to at least have a grasp on the generalities before I go spouting off. So if I've overlooked something obvious and am truly uninformed on some aspect of an issue... then bringing that up is about as big a slap in my face as you'll manage (well, verbally, anyway).
This usually comes from somebody commenting on one of my DaveToons. Now granted, if my crappy cartoons were all I had to go on, I'd probably call myself untalented. They're crude, amateurish, and repetitive, so I get it. But to judge the entirety of my talent (or lack thereof) based on one cartoon you happened to run across is really shortsighted. I don't get paid to blog, so they're supposed to be crude, amateurish, and repetitive... they're designed that way so I can create them quickly and move on to something that's going to pay me! But, whatever. I do a lot of work with a lot of people and a lot of companies who like my work and respect my professionalism, so calling me "untalented" over a stupid cartoon will fall on deaf ears.
MORE INSULTING ALTERNATIVE: "Ur boring." My blog isn't always as exciting as it could be. But since I don't write about work, friends, family, or relationships, there's a huge chunk of my life that's not going to end up on Blogography, so this is something I have to live with. But just because I'm blogging about this new brand of toilet paper I bought, that doesn't necessarily mean that this was the most exciting thing that happened. It just means it was the most exciting thing which I could write about. So even though I know my blog is boring at times (and can't be helped), it doesn't make it any less hurtful when somebody reminds me.
And there you have it, haters! Here's hoping the next round of insults I get from you will be much better than the weak-ass, anonymous, pussified, dumbassery you usually send my way.
Posted on Tuesday, February 7th, 2012
Continuing my adventures with the Whipstitch Essential Sewing E-Course...
TOTE BAG! TOTE BAG, YO!
Last week my sewing class moved past learning what you need to know to sew... to actually sewing stuff. Our first project was a napkin. Mine turned out okay, but it was pretty boring because my grandmother's machine doesn't have any fancy decorative stitches on it. Not content to eat using a boring napkin, I decided to practice sewing in a straight line all over it. After that, the napkin wasn't boring... but it was a little scary, so I threw it away.
The second project we got to tackle was a tote bag.
At first I thought Deborah was insane for expecting her students to go from a napkin to a frickin' tote bag... but her video made it look easy so I was excited to try it.
My first tote bag was made from a light stripey denim-like material with a blue flannel interior. Our instructor can whip out a tote bag in eight minutes... this one took me nearly two hours. Mostly because I had stupidly used stripy fabric which took quite a bit of time to line up perfectly so that everything looked right. Despite how long it took to make, I have to say that it turned out pretty darn sweet. It looks great and is comfortable to carry stuff in, just like a tote bag should be...
Last night I decided to make another tote bag out of "Duck Canvas." At first I was worried that the sewing machine wouldn't be able to punch through the stuff, but it was no problem at all. This time it took me only a half-hour to finish. The outside is pretty plain... but when you look inside? FANCY!!
I think it turned out even more awesome than the first one.
And now we're learning all kinds of stuff about fabric which I never knew... stuff I never knew that I needed to know. Things like "grain" and "bias" that I've previously ignored.
What's kind of cool is that I'm learning not only how to make sure future sewing projects will be successful... but why my past projects have failed. I was doing everything all wrong and didn't even realize it.
Now, if you'll excuse me... I've got to make some CONTINUOUS BIAS TAPE! And yes, I actually know what that is now.
Posted on Wednesday, February 8th, 2012
I woke up with a massive headache. Things only went downhill from there. For one thing, it snowed last night. For another thing, I got an email that made me want to slam my already-aching head into a wall. There really should be some kind of law which forbids being assaulted by dumbassery before 9:00am.
Especially on Wednesday, because that's New Comic Book Day!
Though I'm a lot more excited by the Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum victories in the Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado Republican primaries. Do I even dare hope that he'll actually win the nomination? Because that would be the single most mind-blowingly awesome entertainment America could hope for. Time to take a look a the top contenders...
What happens if he wins? The presidential contest will be relatively boring. Other than breaking out in song with America the Beautiful and trash-talking President Obama, Mittens doesn't have much else to actually campaign with. The guy has flip-flopped on just about everything you could possibly flip-flop on, and President Obama will use that to positively massacre him in any debate. Not that he has to... Romney is legendary for sabotaging himself with the stupid-ass crap that flies out of his mouth. All Obama really has to do is stand back and watch Romney hang himself with his own words.
What happens if he wins? We will have quite possibly the most lively and interesting debate in the history of presidential politics. Speaker Gingrich may be a raging hypocrite when it comes to integrity and family values, but he will unapologetically rip into each and every one of President Obama's failings like a honey badger, putting Obama on the defensive in any debate. He can't win the election, of course. His past scandals are tied to his ass like a boat anchor. But for people like me who have reservations about another four years of Obama, Gingrichh is the only one who can make our president actually work for his re-election.
RICK "PIECE OF SHIT" SANTORUM
What happens if he wins? Oh so many wonderful things. The guy is so astoundingly misguided on so many topics that he'll be like a one-legged mouse that cool cat President Obama will bat around and play with for weeks before finally ripping his fool head off. It will be the Super Bowl of presidential elections where the only position Santorum is fit to play is towel boy. Or maybe tight-end, if his homophobic over-compensation is any indication. In any event, you can't buy entertainment this good, which actually has me contemplating a donation to Santorum's campaign.
What happens if he wins? I have no clue. A Ron Paul nomination is so far outside the realm of possibility that I can only guess that the Apocalypse shifts into full gear and the world ends. Kind of a shame, because I think the unpredictability of such a contest against President Obama would be worth watching. Some of Ron Paul's ideas are very good. Others are bat-shit crazy. It's entirely possible that Obama would have no defense against that, which could be extremely interesting. Or pathetically mundane. Either way, I think the presidential race would evolve into something entirely different than we've ever seen before.
And there you have it. I never thought the "Not Romneys" would get this far against the wishes of party heads who clearly want a Mittens nomination. But it's somehow fitting that Romney is going to have to pay big... massively big... money to secure his party victory before he gets anywhere near President Obama. He's got money to burn, so why not?
Posted on Thursday, February 9th, 2012
Holy crap, dude.
It doesn't matter who wins big come the November elections, there's going to be a lot of unhappy people. It's unavoidable because the level of venom being volleyed back-and-forth between Republicans and Democrats has reached critical mass. We're mere seconds away from a full-on thermonuclear explosion of hate, and you just can't come back from that.
And every time I watch the news or catch up with current political events on the internet, a part of me wonders if we should just carve up North America in a way that will keep us from destroying each other.
I'm talking about the establishment of Jesusland and The United States of Canada...
This has been a joke and internet meme for a long time. But the thing is... there's a very serious truth beneath it all. Why not create political divisions that make sense? Wouldn't people be a lot happier if their government more closely represented their beliefs and values?
And while I don't know that Canada would agree to be dragged into this mess, I'm thinking that the majority of Americans might actually go for it. The hatred is just so overwhelming, relentless, and balls-nasty that I'd do just about anything to make it stop.
Here in my home-state of Washington, we've got a scary level of hatred all our own to deal with. And now that same-sex-marriage is going to be signed into law next week, I can only imagine that it's going to get even worse...
Though I really do hope my fellow Washingtonians over here in Redneckistan will do the right thing and help same-sex-marriage pass if it ends up being put to a vote. With acceptance of gay marriage reaching new heights every day, you just never know.
But that's just one issue out of hundreds.
In the end, even if we were to establish Jesusland and The United States of Canada, Washington would still be divided. I'm sure other states would have similar lines of separation. So while the majority of people would probably be happier eventually... there's still going to be a large segment of the population who are angry, bitter, and unhappy.
So what to do?
A pity we can't just all cling to the things we have in common and work from there...
But, alas, those things are getting to be few and far between.
Remember the good ol' days when being "Americans" was enough to unite us?
Posted on Friday, February 10th, 2012
If I have to listen to Mitt Romney mangle the lyrics to American The Beautiful one more time, I'm going to fucking lose it. The lyrics are NOT "for purple mountain's majesty..." it's "for purple mountain majesties." Those are the lyrics. Those are the words in the original poem upon which the song is based. If you're going to pander to the lowest common denominator with a bullshit smokescreen masquerading as patriotism, you should at least put the effort into doing it right.
Gee. I'm in a bit of a mood tonight.
That's what happens when you start working at 4:30am.
And you have to read about George Lucas telling the world that Greedo always shot first... that everybody is just "confused" and bad people want Han "to be a cold-blooded killer."
I saw the original Star Wars dozens of times... and by "original" I mean the actual film and not the Special Edition crap. I watched it again dozens of more times on LaserDisc. And not once during any of those times did I ever think that Greedo fired first. But, more importantly, I never once thought that Han Solo was a cold-blooded killer. Greedo had a gun pointed on him... he was acting in self-defense...
And, as we found out in The Empire Strikes Back, the guy was a scoundrel.
Which brings me to my point...
If I have to listen to George Lucas mangle Star Wars one more time, I'm going to fucking lose it.
HAN SOLO SHOT FIRST! I'd also go a step further and say that Greedo never shot at all... but I must be confused on that too.
Posted on Saturday, February 11th, 2012
There was a time that Whitney Houston's voice was widely regarded as being in a class untouchable by mere mortals. It was thus almost from the beginning.
Sure she had fun and poppy hits like How Will I Know and I Wanna Dance with Somebody... but they were nicely balanced by stunning R&B tracks like Saving All My Love for You and I Will Always Love You. The woman had pipes. The woman could sing.
And never was this more apparent than when she belted out The Star Spangled Banner at the 2001 Super Bowl with an unforgettable performance. The rumor that it was lip-synced did nothing to detract from the magic because Whitney nailed it. Our National Anthem is not an easy song to sing. On the contrary, it practically begs to be screwed up by anyone attempting it... live or otherwise. And even when singers get it right, it doesn't always sound that great. With Ms. Houston's talent, it was a different story entirely...
And today, at the age of 48, she's gone.
Whitney admitted to using drugs (but not crack, which she felt was "whack" because it was beneath her income level)... and odds are it was her drug use which contributed to her death. This is all kinds of tragic because a part of me always expected that she'd make some kind of come-back one of these days.
Alas it was not to be.
Perhaps not meant to be. All that's left now is a legacy. And a lesson.
Her voice may have been beyond the grasp of mere mortals but, in the end, it was wrapped in a body that was all too human. Hopefully her fellow humans will remember that at a time it would be all too easy to forget.
Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012
Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen... Bullet Sunday starts... NOW!
• Magic? It used to be that whenever I saw some sports figure scream "I'M GOING TO DISNEYLAND!" after a big victory, I'd scream back "WHORE!" I mean, it's such an obvious attempt to score Disney ad money. But the more I think about it, what better way could there be to celebrate than to have a party with Mickey Mouse at the most magical place on earth?
And then I see the happy photos of Eli Manning at Disneyland after his Super Bowl win and know that I would totally celebrate all my most important victories there. Of course, should I become victorious at conquering the earth, I'll own Disneyland, but still...
• Restart? I'm not a very emotional person. Which is why my nearly being driven to tears by a frickin' Chipotle commercial was about the most shocking and disturbing thing that could have happened to me while watching the Grammys. So called "factory farming" of animals is about the cruelest, most destructive, and unhealthy way to create "food" you could think of. To have somebody step up and say "enough" is so very encouraging...
There's no Chipotle anywhere near me but, if there were, I would patronize the hell out of that restaurant.
• Shop? Speaking of patronizing a worthy business... I'm going to have to start shopping at my local
And to the bigoted asshats at "One Million Moms"... go fuck yourselves. You obviously all need a good fucking if your idea of "values" is to spend your time attacking somebody as generous, inspiring, and remarkable as Ellen DeGeneres. And may your God have mercy on any of your children who happen to be gay. Because if they're not going to get your love and support, being able to turn on the television and see somebody like Ellen may be all they have.
• Krave? After hearing about "Krave," the breakfast cereal filled with chocolate candy, I simply had to try it. How could I not? It's cereal. WITH CHOCOLATE CANDY INSIDE!!
The verdict? Awful. Just awful. Both the "Chocolate" and "Double Chocolate" varieties taste like chemical waste. The texture is bizarre (in a bad way) as well. I can't fathom why anybody would eat this when they could just sprinkle M&Ms over a bowl of Golden Grahams?
• Confusion? I'm a Mr. Potato Head fan. I'm a massively huge Batman fan. But I honestly don't know what to make of this...
Why? It doesn't look like Batman or Mr. Potato Head. I'm not saying it's a bad concept for a toy... but surely they could have just dressed Mr. Potato Head as Batman instead of coming up with this hunk of plastic monstrosity.
• Protest? It seems like only yesterday I was walking through Syntagma Square in central Athens, Greece (actually it was five years ago). Despite a somewhat disappointing visit to the Hard Rock Cafe there, I very much enjoyed my visit to the city. Which is why I am very upset to see it erupt in flames...
Photo taken from ABC News.
Photo taken from Reuters.
I'm all for the right of free protest when you disagree with something, but this is horrific. Do the people who own the shops and cafes getting firebombed deserve this? And while I admit that I don't know if the police crack-downs have been overly-violent, I have to question whether firebombing them could ever be a justifiable act. Greece is in serious trouble... to see violence drive it even further to the brink is profoundly sad. Come together, people... I very much want to visit your country again one day.
And now... back to the Grammys...
Posted on Monday, February 13th, 2012
Sweet! Today my home state of Washington passed marriage equality into law!
Now it's a waiting game to see whether the anti-equality brigade can get the signatures they need to force a ballot vote. Because it's totally appropriate to put equality to a vote, right?
Argh. I don't even want to think about it.
Because it's not like I've already got some things I'm trying not to think about today.
A friend sent me a video that had an interesting take on political issues from a purely humanitarian point of view. Some of the thinking seemed grossly simplistic and unrealistic but, taken as a whole, it was a fascinating look at how political policy doesn't change as much as you'd think from administration to administration.
In the video there were links to other videos. Which had links to other videos. Which had links to even more videos.
But it was the comment threads that were where the addiction lays. Most times they're so incredibly awful that you're compelled to read them. And just when you think you've read the most horrific thing that somebody could possibly say on the subject, you go to the next comment and it gets even worse. The bigotry, ignorance, racism, lies, and raw hatred sucks you into a vortex of stupidity from which not even light can escape...
And if you don't let go before the Point of No Return, you become just as stupid as the animals who are commenting and are compelled to comment yourself. From there you cross over the event horizon and are doomed to destruction.
Don't believe me? It's SCIENCE, people!
Though I don't know that even science can explain why so many people think that the road to destruction is the best course to follow. Maybe if more effort when into studying stupidity, we could find out why they just can't seem to let it go.
Or why there are people who think that the freedoms this country were founded upon demands equality for its citizens be put to a vote.
Posted on Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
Happy Valentine's Day!
Sometimes the best Valentine's Day presents are the ones you get for yourself. And since I know you'd want what's best for me, I hopped right on that.
So thanks so much! I couldn't have asked for a better gift! I absolutely love it!
To see Valentines from previous years, visit the Blogography Valentine's Day Cards Page!
Posted on Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
Yesterday afternoon I had to make an emergency trip up to Chelan which, for the uninitiated, is pronounced "sha-lann" (but is spoken by locals more like "shell-ann")... and means Deep Water in the Salish Native American dialect (from the words "tsi-laan").
The city is named after Central Washington's premiere summertime attraction, Lake Chelan, which is indeed some deep, deep water. Like 1400 feet deep, making it the third-deepest lake in the USA, 24th deepest lake in the world. It's also very long... as in 55 miles long.
When I was a kid, I spent many summer days up at "The Lake," and have some great memories from my time there. In high school I spent many summer weekends up at "The Lake," but for entirely different reasons. All my memories from those times are fragmented and hazy.
Anyway... I haven't been here in a while and, despite making the trip for a very sad occasion, there is no denying that waking up to this view is anything but unpleasant...
From Chelan this morning, I drove back to work. Then drove three hours to Spokane this evening...
Where my first stop was Famous Ed's so I could enjoy some David's Pizza (now that David's Pizza has been destroyed)...
Still not authentic David's Da Vinci pizza, but it's a step above what I had last time. I just wish they could get the crust the way David's used to. This crust is kind of tough and chewy... not the wonderfully crusty crispy crust I loved on the original. Oh well. I remain hopeful that they'll eventually open a new David's and make the best pizza I've ever tasted once again.
And now I'm comfy in my hotel bed watching the latest episode of Happy Endings
I want cake.
Posted on Thursday, February 16th, 2012
As I started my three-hour drive home from Spokane, I noticed that my passenger-side rear-view mirror was shaking a bit. As I drove on, it got worse and worse.
"That's odd," I said. I don't remember my mirror being wobbly like that." So I stopped at the next gas station to take a look.
Turns out somebody side-swiped me last night in the hotel parking lot. And, like the asshole they are, they didn't bother leaving a note. Not to offer to pay for repairs. Not even to warn me that my mirror and might drop off my car at any minute. Nothing.
My only consolation is that they scraped a nice swatch of paint off their vehicle...
All I could do was pop my mirror back in the housing the best I could and drive on. I don't even know how I would go about fixing the thing. Take apart the door, I guess. It's still a bit wobbly, but feels solid enough that it's not going to be a safety risk.
And here I thought I was joking when I said my car was invisible.
The first three times.
Now I'm pretty much convinced that the piece of shit does actually possess some kind of stealth capability. How else can I explain getting hit again and again and again and again and again?
Speaking of "again and again"... my blog is down again. Guess I won't be posting this entry tonight after all.
Posted on Friday, February 17th, 2012
When DC Comics rebooted their entire universe with "The New 52," my intent was to buy the first couple issues... be underwhelmed... then stop collecting comic books once and for all. I had already given up on Marvel Comics for being insanely expensive, so dropping DC seemed inevitable. Heck, 90% of the books I bought I never even read anyway. My thirty-three year relationship with comics was at an end.
Except it wasn't.
Against all odds, "The New 52" rejuvenated my love of comic books.
And once I learned that the previous issue of DC's digital titles would drop by $1 when the new issue when on sale, I switched to reading comics on my iPad and never looked back. I am now reading more comics than I ever have before... a full half of DC's entire line-up (impressive even though it's down from the 35 I was reading three months ago).
In fact, four of the titles are so good that I can't wait a month for the $1 price drop... I buy them the minute they are released...
No lie... Writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo have created one of the best Batman series I have ever read. The current "Court of Owls" storyline is dragging just a bit six months in, but it's so fascinating that I can't feel raw about it. The tale has weight to it. A lot of history is being woven into the plot, and it's a fascinating look at Batman that's as good as it gets.
• WONDER WOMAN
My favorite Wonder Woman books were from the George Pérez era where he took her back to her Greek mythology roots and made her into something so much more than a female Superman. Now writer Brian Azzarello and artist Tony Akins have taken those mythological ties to an even deeper and more bizarre level, and I absolutely love it. Sure, it can be a difficult read... the climactic battle in #6 was so confusing that I have no idea what in the hell was going on (and neither did the person setting up the "Guide View" in the digital comic, because it skips some stuff!)... but I can't get enough of this book.
If you would have told me six months ago that a book headed up by Aquaman would be in my "must read" pile, I'd have called you crazy. And yet here we are. I felt that Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis' conclusion to the whole "Trench" storyline was a bit wimpy and anti-climactic... but the journey to that finale was so rewarding that I wasn't bothered. Aquaman has gone from a D-list joke of a character to a truly critical part of the DC lineup. Whoda thunk it?
• JUSTICE LEAGUE
Geoff Johns and Jim Lee are serving up a terrific team book that's larger than life. And though the story has been a little uneven, the beautiful artwork goes a long way towards my enjoyment of the book. And enjoying it I am.
The other titles I'm buying (albeit after a month delay for the $1 price decrease) are...
• Action Comics
• All-Star Western
• Batman & Robin
• Birds of Prey
• Blue Beetle
• Green Lantern
• Justice League Dark
• Justice League International
• Legion of Super-Heroes
• Legion Lost
• OMAC (cancelled)
• Resurrection Man
• Swamp Thing
• Teen Titans
Entirely too many comic books. But I just can't help myself.
Posted on Saturday, February 18th, 2012
Yesterday's drive over the mountains was about as uneventful as it gets. No snow. No insane people. No terrible motorists. No accidents. No drama. Nothing. Everybody even drove the speed limit! At first I thought that hell might have frozen over... but then I realized that I was just playing the odds. After hundreds of such drives in the past, the stars somehow aligned to give me the stress-free journey I've always dreamed about. Guess I was due...
In order to take photos of my road-trips, I modified an old GPS mount to stick my iPhone to the windshield and use a time-lapse app to snap pictures as I drive. That way, I'm not one of these people who can't stay on the road because I'm dicking around with my phone and crashing into people.
There are a few problems with this...
And now... I should probably get back to my glass of Jägermeister. It looks very lonely up there on the table. Staring at me. Demanding I show it some love. Such a demanding drink, it is.
Posted on Sunday, February 19th, 2012
Get out the Jägermeister and Red Bull, we're dropping bombs, and Bullet Sunday starts... now!
• Tragedy. Yesterday I wrote about my drive over Stevens Pass. Then today I heard that three skiers were killed in an avalanche up there. Whenever something like this happens, there's a mad scramble to track down all your skier friends to make sure they're okay. Then temper your relief with a grief that comes from knowing while it wasn't anybody you knew this time... it could most certainly be so next time. It's a stressful and horrible time, now made worse because you have fucked up shit like this circulating...
I know this dumbass bitch's "church" is nothing more than a huge scam made up of lawyers who do their best to piss people off so they can get attacked (then sue everybody and make piles of money)... but I don't even care. They are vile filth who victimize families at their most vulnerable and should be put in prison. Shame on people who keep defending these assholes' "freedom of speech" when they are nothing more than vicious bullies who ruthlessly violate the rights of others.
• Babeu. The interwebs are abuzz on both sides of the political spectrum with the outing of hard-core anti-immigration activist and Mitt Romney campaign co-chair for Arizona, Sheriff Paul Babeu. And now the poor guy is being attacked from all sides in a clear demonstration of just how fucked up this country is...
Photo taken from Reuters
First of all, I have to say that yes... if Babeu abused his authority to intimidate and threaten somebody, then he was wrong and should be held accountable for that. But until this is proven, shame on everybody.
Shame on Liberals who are screaming "HYPOCRITE!" because he's gay and Republican. Why the fuck should his sexual orientation dictate his political beliefs? Yeah, Republicans are not very welcoming of homosexuals... and hard-core Conservatives are outright hostile towards them... but if Babeu can set that aside because his politics are more aligned with a conservative viewpoint and that's what's important to him, why the hell should you care? If you disagree with his stance on immigration, fine. But if you think a man can only be a Democrat if he's gay, then it's you who are the hypocrite.
Shame on Conservatives who are now screaming "HIS CAREER SHOULD BE OVER!" because he's gay and Republican. Why should his sexual orientation dictate what job he can hold? The guy served with honor in the National Guard where he spent a tour in Iraq. He is a decorated law enforcement officer. He has faithfully protected our borders from drug trafficking. He is consistent with Conservative views on immigration. He has demonstrated over and over again that he's your fucking DREAM CANDIDATE in his plan to run for U.S. Congress... and yet you would discard the guy because he's into dudes? What is he supposed to do... give up the sexual aspect of his humanity and be unhappy just to make you happy? That is one of the most stupid fucking things I've ever heard.
This type of crap drives me insane. The guy is just doing the best he can to be true to the man he is in a world that attacks him for doing so. I may not support his politics, but I support him in his pursuit of happiness... just as all Americans should... Liberal and Conservative alike.
• Horror. And just because my disgust is already running at an all-time high here... might as well tear into one of the biggest assholes on the planet, Nancy Grace. I've written many times about how much I loathe this disgusting excuse for a human being, but she just keeps getting worse and worse...
If there's anybody out there who still thinks her "crusade for the victims" is anything more than a shameless money-grab by one of the biggest fucking exploitation whores on the planet, Salon has an article for you.
And now... back to my three-day weekend...
Posted on Monday, February 20th, 2012
Yesterday the television weather dude was forecasting doom and gloom on the mountain passes. He even went so far as to recommend that you drive home from your holiday weekend early (on Sunday) if you could. This scared the crap out of me because I simply had to get back home before Tuesday.
Unfortunately, I had been drinking, so driving home yesterday wasn't possible. Instead I decided I would drive home early today before the weather got too bad. So I woke up at 7am and left just before 8am.
Only to find that the passes were JUST FINE, and I worried for nothing. I also got up early for nothing, which sucks ass.
Oh well. Once I got past all the skiers driving to the summit, I had the road entirely to myself, which was nice...
The GPS mount that holds my iPhone kept sliding on my windshield, which was annoying, but I got some nice shots of my trip. One of these days I'm doing that time-lapse movie... it's quite a nice drive.
Anyway... home safe and sound.
Posted on Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
It's been a really tough week to keep up with my sewing classes but, since I ended up coming home so early yesterday, I spent most of last night getting caught up...
...AND PLAYING WITH MY BRAND NEW SEWING MACHINE!!
My dad saw my sewing struggles on my blog and decided to give me an early birthday present... a Brother SE400! It's pretty sweet, does just about everything you could ever want, and sews like a dream with dozens of computer-controled stitches. As if that weren't enough, it can do embroidery as well...
It's going to take a while to figure everything out, but I'm digging it so far!
The first project I had to work on was a "Drawstring Tote Bag." I thought it looked kinda like an army duffle bag, so I decided to buy some cammo fabric and make something I could use in one of my AnySoldier.com care packages. It holds three rolls of toilet paper perfectly...
The next project was a "Relaxing Eye Mask" filled with rice that you can microwave or freeze. I had a big problem trying to get the tie-straps turned inside-out, so I ended up having to make them really huge so I wouldn't get stuck...
Still works okay though...
The last thing I had to do was practice stitching around shapes appliqué-style. My new sewing machine makes stuff like this a snap because it feeds fabric so beautifully and can make such perfect stitches...
I may have went a little too dense on the stitch-length though... I burned through a spool of thread in no time flat.
Our next project is an apron with ruffles on it. I have given up all hope of making it look like something a guy like me could wear, as I am not nearly macho enough to pull off ruffles. Oh well... you don't need an apron to heat up a microwave TV dinner, so it's all good.
Now I really should unpack my dirty clothes. Otherwise my next sewing project will have to be a suitcase, because my current one is starting to smell.
Posted on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
Yesterday morning was a mad rush to get to work. I had been attacking my to-do list since 4:00am, and really need to get to the office so I could get everything sent out. This meant skipping breakfast, throwing my crap into my backpack, then storming out the door.
Where I proceeded to drop my iPhone on the pavement.
And then accidentally kick it across the parking lot when I bent over to pick it up.
So now my beautiful iPhone has a giant crack running down the front along with assorted chips in the glass...
Not a pretty site.
What's odd is that this is the first time I've damaged an iPhone in the five years I've been buying them. Over the years I've dropped them numerous times... I even dunked one in a waterfall... but they've never been worse for wear. Which is odd, because before I got my first iPhone, my mobiles were breaking all the time.
I'm rough on phones, yo.
So, after drop-kicking my current iPhone, I honestly did expect to pick it up and have it be fine. To see that big-ass crack there shouldn't have shocked me, but it really did. Oh well. Given the abuse I heap on these things, it was bound to happen eventually. The good news is that everything is still working fine.
And now my iPhone is off to the good people at iResQ so they can replace his face. Don't ask me how I'll manage without it until Friday... I honestly don't know... but I'm sure plenty of comfort chocolate pudding is in order.
= sob! =
Posted on Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
I should know better than to keep watching the Republican debates.
But like the glutton for punishment I am, I tune in with the faint hope that I'll hear something new... or interesting... or inspiring... or even just a tiny bit smart. This country has big problems, and I'm still waiting to hear from somebody who can figure it all out.
But that person sure ain't one of the Republican candidates for president. So not only am I wasting my time, I'm also exposing myself to near-fatal levels of bullshit.
Like listening to Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum once again vomit up some of his outrageous crap...
President Barack Obama actually went to France a year or so ago and was with Nicolas Sarkozy and said that, "Here I am with the French Prime Minister, our best ally in the world." Now think about this. Name one time in the last 20 years that the French stood by us with anything. But in Barack Obama's eyes, that makes them our best ally, because they fought what was in the best interest of our country.
The levels of stupid here are just too legion to even contemplate. Fortunately, I don't have to, as Politifact did an excellent job of debunking this fucked-up statement. The truth is that France has been a true ally to this country for a very long time. They deserve a lot better than to be diminished and dismissed by a piece of shit politician looking to score cheap points.
In a time when the USA has too many enemies in too many places, we need to remember who our friends are...
Despite my loathing of Santorum's never-ending hypocrisy, hate, exaggeration, and outright lies, a part of me still wants to believe that a candidate for President of the United States of America surely must want what's best for this country in their heart. But how can I in this case?
Either Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum is so evil that he would purposely damage our relationship with a long-time ally just to get votes out of people too fucking stupid to question his lies... or... he himself is so fucking stupid that he doesn't even know when he's lying any more...
Photo taken from Reuters
If you want to find somebody fighting what is in the best interest of our country, Rick, all you have to do is look in a mirror. Everything that's wrong with America is staring back at you.
Posted on Friday, February 24th, 2012
This morning when I woke up I reached for my iPhone... remembered it was gone... then burst into tears.
Well, okay, I didn't actually burst into tears. But I felt like I should have. iPhone is always with me no matter where I go, and to not have him by my side felt like a part of me was missing. Dejected and alone, I headed off to work... trying my best to face a cruel future while cut-off from the world.
But then my repaired iPhone was delivered and everything was okay again.
Until I found out that Washington State has introduced a bill to add even more fucking taxes to our cell phone bills. Never mind that our state already pays the second-highest mobile phone tax in the nation, our legislators have decided that we should pay even more to cover their budget shortfall.
This stupid shit is getting out of hand.
It would be different if we had taxes lower than the national average or something... but increasing taxes on the second highest rate in the nation?!? How can these asshole politicians think that this is a rational solution to their problem? Though I suppose it's only slightly less stupid than the non-candy candy tax bullshit they tried last year.
Look, I appreciate that we need to meet our budget obligations and be fiscally responsible and stuff... but why shift the burden to people's cell phone bills when they're already paying through the ass? It's not like my iPhone is causing the budget shortfall... so stop punishing me as if it is.
Maybe cutting the salary of the dumbfuck politicians who keep attacking us instead of balancing the budget in a way that makes sense is the solution. Where do I vote on that?
Posted on Saturday, February 25th, 2012
After having a meltdown over the latest disgusting crap flying out of Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum's mouth, I decided to step away from the internet and watch some "safety television."
AWWWWW! A baby sloth and his Teddy bear!
AWWWWW! Baby sloths hanging around!
AWWWWW! A baby sloth has a bath!
AWWWWW! A baby sloth goes for a walk!
AWWWWW! A baby puppy looks around!
AWWWWW! A baby newborn kitten tries to open his eyes!
AWWWWW! A baby puppy playing in the leaves!
AWWWWW! A baby puppy chewing on a pumkin!
AWWWWW! CUTE BABY PUPPIES!!!
AWWWWW! Baby kitten takes a walk!
There! All better! How can I not feel all warm and fuzzy after watching cute baby animals for hours!
So go fuck yourself Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum!
Posted on Sunday, February 26th, 2012
Don't touch that mouse, Bullet Sunday starts... now.
• Higgs Boson. For science geeks like myself, Saturday was kind of a special day, as we were granted an audience with Professor Peter Higgs via a rare interview in The Scotsman. Fresh off of winning the Edinburgh Award, he made the bold prediction that the stupidly nicknamed "God Particle" that bears his name will finally be found this summer after 48 years. Bring on the Nobel Prize.
• Joke. Really? Attacking President Kennedy now? I gotta hand it to Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum, he's got balls the size of watermelons to be trash-talking one of this country's most beloved presidents. Especially when Santorum is so petty and insignificant in the grand scheme of things...
Santorum's tiny, insignificant, flea-like body from Ambro
How embarrassing. At some point even the craziest of crazies who are supporting this moron are going to wake up and say "What the fuck?!?"
• Astronomical. Apparently there was a spectacular alignment of planets happening in the heavens this weekend. Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon are all lining up to some kind of cool visual. I wouldn't know, of course, as the sky was totally overcast...
I swear, no astronomical events ever happen here. I get screwed by the weather every time.
• Finally. One of my favorite actors ever, James Earl Jones, was finally given his due with a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award...
Photo from Luke Macgregor/Reuters
Can you imagine any of his movie appearances with somebody else in the role? Field of Dreams? The Lion King? Sneakers? The voice of CNN? THE VOICE OF DARTH VADER?!? No. No you can't. He's and incredible talent, and seeing him get an Oscar makes the award almost relevant again.
• Oscar. I am not a fan of the Academy Awards. They so rarely get it right when it comes to those deserving of a win. Case in point?
Captain America: The First Avenger — Best Picture.
Robert Downey Jr — Best Actor for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
David Fincher — Best Director for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Stanley Tucci — Best Supporting Actor for Captain America: The First Avenger.
Meryl Streep — Best Actress for The Iron Lady.
Jennifer Aniston — Best Supporting Actress for Horrible Bosses.
And how many of those trophies were correctly awarded? One. Congratulations Meryl. You're amazing as always.
And now... I've got to pack a suitcase...
Posted on Monday, February 27th, 2012
Tonight I had a loaf of garlic bread and a glass of Kool-Aid for dinner.
If you can't tell, I've given up on life.
Probably because I have to get up at 3:30am tomorrow so I can make my plane. Usually I wouldn't fly so frickin' early, but the price difference between the early flight and the not-so-early flight was $800, so there you have it. If only I were made of money, I wouldn't have to deal with crap like this.
But I'm not. So I do. Welcome to my world.
I guess I should take a shower and go to bed... or do whatever it is that people do when they have to get up in six hours for a flight. Ooh! What if people eat chocolate pudding and watch Batman cartoons?
Yes. I think that must be what people do.
And so shall I.
So shall I.
Posted on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
What a wacky day!
I was hoping that staying up until 11:00 last night would mean I'd sleep until my alarm went off at 3:30 this morning. This was, of course, the wishful thinking of a chronic insomniac. Wide awake at 3:00am. Apparently anything more than four hours sleep will have to stay a dream... a short but wonderful dream.
Shower. Get dressed. Pack up my crap. Check my email for flight cancellations (for the third time this morning). Then stare at the clock until 3:50am when I head off to the airport.
Arrive at the airport, which won't open for ten minutes. Wasn't stopped by the police for accidental speeding, which is always a plus. Now I'm bored. Bored. Bored. Bored. I surf the internet on my iPhone for twenty minutes to pass the time, then look up to see this:
Since I just added oil last weekend, I can only guess my car is burning oil like a muthertrucker. Yay! I totally have a pile of money back home just waiting to throw at an auto mechanic!
The security screening agent asks me if I want to remove my sweatshirt or go for the pat-down. I explain that it's a bit too early for me to have been drinking, so I'll pass on the pat-down and strip off my hoodie. He seems a little too relieved. I'm offended because I am totally grope-worthy this morning! Since I buzzed my head, every day is a good hair day right here! Now I sit and wait to see if my flight will be cancelled because of "mechanical difficulties"... for the third time in a row (=cough= BULLSHIT! =cough=).
Oh my dear and fluffy Lord, we're actually boarding the plane! The cabin attendant announces that the weather in Seattle is currently clear, but clouds with a light rain will be moving in later this morning and is "projected to last until July 5th." This gets him a courtesy laugh because it is funny for being (mostly) true... but anybody familiar with Seattle already knows this. I stifle the urge to give him a golf clap because I like to encourage smart-assery whenever I can.
My name is "David Simmer II" instead of the more common "David Simmer Jr." because my dad didn't want for people to call me "Junior" (as so often happens). I'm guessing this was because he had hoped I'd become rich and famous so he could sponge off the glory that was my his name. But when you think about it, this was a huge risk because what if the opposite happened? What if I instead became an infamous drug addict? Or a serial killer? Or a politician? But luckily (unluckily?) the only meager fame I have is as "That Blography Guy," so my profanity-laden rants on this blog aren't too damaging. Even so, I still get a little excited when I notice somebody else with "II" instead or "Jr." after their name. We're rare, and our dads were notorious risk-takers, so there's a bond there...
Looks like Milton G. Kuolt II's father totally scored...
Sorry, dad... if the only way I can get a plane named after me is to start my own airline, I'm afraid you're out of luck... OR ARE YOU?!?
Landed in Seattle after taking off as scheduled. Will wonders never cease.
And now I start my four-hour layover. Yes, that sucks, but since the flight I was on is canceled ALL THE TIME, I have to allow enough time to drive over to Seattle in the event of "mechanical difficulties." I briefly contemplate hauling ass to SeaTac's South Satellite to catch an earlier flight for my connection in Salt Lake City. But I only have 15 minutes, and this is SeaTac we're talking about, so I sit down to a Qdoba Egg & Potato breakfast burrito instead...
It's like heaven in a foil wrapper, I tell you what.
Argh. Screaming kids wherever I go. As if that weren't bad enough, SeaTac is BLASTING this fucking awful music at full volume. So I reach for my... my... HOLY CRAP I'VE FORGOTTEN MY HEADPHONES!!! It's always something. Since this is a common event with me, I go to a kiosk and buy the almost-cheapest ear buds I can find. They're Skullcandy "Smokin' Buds" (HA! a thinly-veiled marijuana reference! How clever is THAT?)... and... they are so bad. The bass is ridiculously harsh and there is precious little definition or clarity, so everything is a muffled mess. I set iTune's equalizer to try and compensate, but the sound is still pretty terrible...
UPDATE: While these ear buds do totally suck for my MacBook Pro, the sound coming from my iPhone with them is actually pretty decent. Still muddy, but at least it feels a little more balanced.
Just as I receive an email telling me that my flight out of Seattle has been delayed, my iPhone rings to tell me the same thing. Naturally this screws up my connection in Salt Lake City since I am now arriving 10 minutes after my flight leaves. I wish I could even pretend to be surprised. I'm just lucky that there was room for me on a later flight. And that my First Class upgrade transferred. When I scan my ticket to get a revised boarding card, a "courtesy coupon" spits out... it's a $10 meal voucher. SCORE!! I wonder if Jägermeister would be considered a "meal?"
Dear Seattle-Tacoma International Airport,
I'm not shy by any means, but would it fucking kill you to add some privacy screens between the urinals? The damn things are so frickin' close to each other that I worry I might get confused and pee into a neighboring john by mistake...
Sounds unlikely, I know, but when you have people using their free meal vouchers to start buying Jäger shots at 9:00 in the morning... well, crazier shit has been known to happen.
My flight has just been delayed again. I may die of un-shock. On the plus side, Delta Airlines has set out some drinks and snacks for delayed passengers (something I've never seen before). Circumstances aside, this is pretty darn nice of them.
Flight delayed for a third time. I didn't think it was possible for me to be even more un-shocked than I was, but here we are.
My flight is finally boarding! For everybody except me. When they scan my boarding pass, they get an error. The gate agent reprints my pass a couple times but to no avail. Finally they just rip it in half and tell me they'll figure it out later. I certainly hope so.
Wondering what's happening with my ticket back in Seattle, I buy 15 minutes of inflight internet for $1.95. When I login to Delta, everything looks okay and my new flight shows up, but who knows? With 10 minutes of internet left, I Tweet pictures and stuff...
Wheeee! I'm totally flying here!
2:40pm (Mountain Time now)
Arrive in Salt Lake City. My original connecting flight left nearly an hour ago... my new flight doesn't leave for 2 hours and 20 minutes. I need alcohol badly, but settle for some Sun Chips I took from Delta's snack table while I wait to board my now-delayed (SURPRISE!) flight to Kansas City.
7:30pm (Central Time now)
The turbulence is balls-nasty. Either that or we're crashing. As much as I dislike the idea of going down in a ball of flames, I do like the idea of not having to go to work tomorrow. In case we DO crash, here's my plane's last known location. Please send a search party. And beer...
Arrive safely(!) at Kansas City Airport 3-1/2 hours later than planned. Pick up my car. Drive the 40 minutes to downtown. Check into my hotel. Life is good again at last.
Sit in bed finishing up this entry as gusting winds are howling and a torrential flood of rain is pelting my window. It's like a monsoon out there! Looks like I won't be getting any sleep after all now that Armageddon is going on around me. Such a pity.
I finish. Then I click "publish"...
Posted on Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
Work started early and ended early, so I was left with four-and-a-half hours of free time to explore Kansas City. And since there's probably only ten minutes worth of crap to see here, that would be plenty of time, wouldn't it?
Ummmm... no. Not by a long-shot.
I had been here a couple times before, but assumed there wasn't much going on, so I never really made an effort to see what KC had to offer. Now I know this was a huge, huge, mistake.
And I found this out pretty much by accident.
On a previous trip, I had been to the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. This time I wanted to go to the The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which is kind of famous for the three giant shuttlecocks planted in front...
Inside, there is an impressive and varied collection from many different genres. I was particularly impressed with their European works, which has a terrific impressionist room. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
As I was driving to an art supply store, I saw a sign for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. I like baseball, so I thought it might be worth a stop. I did keep my enthusiasm in check, however, because how great could it be? Probably just a bunch of glass cases filled with old stuff, right?
Ummmm... no. Not by a long-shot.
This has to be one of the most impressive shrines to the great sport of baseball that I have ever seen. And I have seen a lot of them. I was completely and utterly blown away by the amazing story they tell, and the incredible way they tell it. It's a beautiful, important, and wholly wonderful museum that manages to do a lot within a little space...
I expected to spend 20 minutes here. I ended up spending an hour. I could have stayed for another. The only down-sides are
"If colored clubs were admitted there would be in all probability some division of feeling, whereas, by excluding them no injury could result to anyone."
— Raymond J. Burr, Philadelphia Pythians Representative
That's right... no injury for anyone! EXCEPT THE BLACK PLAYERS YOU RACIST IDIOT! I swear, a good chunk of the museum is very, very difficult to explore. You get to learn all about the things that these sportsmen went through just to play. Like going without food on road games because there was no place to stop that would serve "coloreds." But lest you think that the experience of being a player in the Negro Leagues overshadows the game of baseball here... it doesn't. There's loads of amazing baseball artifacts, trivia, and stories. Like I said, one of the best baseball museums you'll find anywhere. Best $8 I've ever spent. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!
As if having The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum wasn't enough... the same building houses The American Jazz Museum! I enjoy some jazz, but am not the biggest fan of the genre. But... the ticket was only $2 extra when bought with an NLBM ticket, so I went for it. I expected to spend 5 or ten minutes here. I ended up spending a half-hour, and could have easily stayed longer. The place is amazing. Just amazing. It's beautifully constructed with vibrant, exciting interactive displays and plenty of awesome memorabilia. All the greats are here from Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong to Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker and everyone in-between. Wish I could have taken photos to share, because it's that well done. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Looking for something else to do, I spotted a pamphlet for the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank. They have a visitor center with a massive presidential coin collection plus you get to look inside the vault to see the people working with the money there! SOLD!
Except I took a wrong turn and ended up at something called "The National World War I Museum." Oops. But since I'm here, I might as well take a look. Probably just a bunch of old junk sitting on shelves or something, right?
Ummmm... no. Not by a long-shot.
I have been to a lot of museums around the world. Seriously, a LOT of them. I can tell you right now that this mind-bogglingly amazing museum can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the very best of them. It is frickin' incredible. AND I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF IT BEFORE IN MY LIFE! I am sick at the thought that the only reason I came here was because of a wrong turn...
I spent two hours here. I could have spent two days. This museum is the very definition of "destination-worthy experience." You will not only learn a lot about The First Great World War, but you will see a lot of amazing stuff from that era. I first went to "The Main Hall" which is actually underneath that tower you see there. The displays are nothing short of jaw-dropping, both for how beautiful they are and how informative they are...
You enter the museum by walking across a glass bridge over a field of poppies
From there I went up "Liberty Tower" to get a view of the city...
And then I went to the "Memory Hall" exhibits (that's the building to the left of the tower in my first photo)...
Then I went to the "Exhibit Hall" exhibits (that's the building to the right of the tower in my first photo)...
The sheer depth and breadth of the story they tell here still has me reeling. It's truly a world-class museum right here in Kansas City... and you get to see all of it for a bargain-basement price of $6. YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT, SIX DOLLARS! Just go. Book your plane ticket and go. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION.
After forcibly tearing myself away from the National World War I Museum, I made my way to my original destination... the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank Money Museum. It's a small museum, but impressive and fun. The only place you can't take pictures is in The Vault (which is a shame, because the money robots are cool!)...
After getting screened at security and going through a metal detector and such, you can walk through the exhibits and see the Presidential Coin Collection... featuring all the coins issued during the terms of all our presidents...
Coins from President Washington all the way to President Obama!
As if all that wasn't enough, they've got a really nice hard-bound souvenir book for just $16 plus a bag of FREE MONEY! Yep! Everybody who visits the museum gets their own bag full of money...
...which has been shredded into the tiniest possible pieces.
But still, pretty cool. And well-worth a visit. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
After getting caught up with work, I decided to hit one more museum... The Hallmark Cards Visitor Center!
It's not very comprehensive, but gives a decent overview of the company and the stuff they make... from cards and bows to Keepsake Ornaments and gifts...
Though my favorite part was the bow-making machine which creates a souvenir you get to keep!
Overall a fun diversion... but not a critical one. I almost wish I would have gone back to the National World War I Museum.
And I'm sure I'm just scratching the surface of what Kansas City has to offer the wayward tourist. For example, I know there's a Harley Davidson Museum north of here (though it looks similar to the ones I've already been to in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania).
If only I had more time to see it all.
Anyway... I've got to get back to work now. Hopefully I've done my part to encourage you to take a trip to KC now that you know of some of the really cool stuff that's here waiting for you.
Posted on Thursday, March 1st, 2012
Yesterday I forgot to say a big "thank you" to everybody who emailed/tweeted/commented to see if I was alright after the storms and tornados which descended on the area my first night here.
Yes, I am perfectly okay. Though a bit sleep-deprived because the howling winds, torrential rains, and lightning flashes made sleep next to impossible. But, thankfully, there was nothing more severe than that. Unlike the poor people in Harveyville, which is a mere hour-and-a-half away from Kansas City...
Half the city was pretty much wiped off the map when a tornado dropped there Tuesday night. And, from the sounds of it, more tornados are on the way.
Today is all about work and flying home, so I'll leave you with a photo I took last night on the way back from dinner...
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Yourself...
Posted on Friday, March 2nd, 2012
So. Very. Tired.
After dealing with ten buckets of crazy on my flight back to Seattle last night, I caught my connecting flight, hopped in my car, and arrived back home a little after midnight. Which doesn't sound late until you realize that's 2:00am in Kansas City. This made for a long day today that no amount of 5-Hour Energy could fix. At least not an amount I could afford.
And now that I'm completely wiped out? NO BLOGOGRAPHY FOR YOU!
Yesterday I had to rush through my blog entry to make my plane, so I didn't get to explain my participation in the 30 Days Drawing Challenge. Pablo Calle over at You Are The Danger provided a list of 30 things to draw in 30 days which was found by Lee over at Quit Your Day Job, and I'm playing along. Because I like to draw. And here's my second drawing:
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Your Favorite Animal...
After having visited the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, I fell in love with Koalas, because they're just that adorable. But I really fell in love with the Tasmanian Devil after having learned how endangered they are. Much of the population in the wild has been plagued with facial tumors that grow until it becomes impossible for them to eat, leaving the poor critters to starve to death. Yes, they can be a bit foul-tempered, but they're tough little guys that have to scavenge out an existence and pose no harm to humans. If you want to learn more about these wonderful creatures, there's a site devoted to saving them.
Posted on Saturday, March 3rd, 2012
I know that the current round of stupid politics won't be over until November, but I'd settle for the Republican primary being done and gone. Instead they keep dragging out the inevitable Romney nomination for no good reason. And now it was my turn, since our state straw poll was held today.
Google is showing that the AP has Romney walking away with the win with 91% of precincts reporting here in Washington State...
I'm not surprised that Ron Paul did so well, since he seems to be quite popular here... though I am surprised he came in second. Sure he's only a half-percent higher than Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum, but that's pretty huge when you think about it. I have no idea what is going on with Gingrich. Either delusion has finally taken up residence... or he's gone crazy for Cocoa Puffs.
And speaking of chocolatey goodness...
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Your Favorite Food...
My favorite "real" food is Fettucini Alfredo... but my favorite snack food is chocolate pudding. It has been for as long as I can remember...
And probably will be for the foreseeable future...
Because, really, is there anything more delicious than chocolate pudding? NAY! NAY, I SAY!
Posted on Sunday, March 4th, 2012
Don't touch that dial... Bullet Sunday starts... now!
• Visionary. I was sad to learn that genius illustrator Ralph McQuarrie passed away this week. As a mega-huge Star Wars fan, one can't help but admire the conceptual designer who designed Darth Vader, Chewbacca, R2-D2, C-3PO, and loads of locations throughout the film. It was his visuals that helped sell the film in the first place so, in many ways, anybody who loves Star Wars loves McQuarrie...
Still amazing. You will be missed.
• John Carter. My favorite science fiction novels of all time are the "Barsoom" books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Starting with A Princess of Mars, the series is packed with action and adventure that set the benchmark for a lot of sci-fi that was to follow. After decades of waiting, we finally get a movie. It looks promising, even though Disney seems to be dropping the ball with the advertising. The latest trailer is pretty good though...
And if you're REALLY ambitious, there's a 10-minute chunk that's been posted online that shows John Carter before he was transported to Mars...
Oh yes. I want to see this one pretty bad. Arrives March 9th... mark your calendars!
• Television. If you're not watching NBC's latest show, Awake, you're missing out. There's nothing I didn't like about the premiere episode starring Jason Isaacs as a man who can't discern between dreams and reality after tragedy strikes...
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Thursdays at 10/9c... and if you missed the first episode, you can get it from iTunes FREE!
• Whore. Apparently all Rush Limbaugh knows how to do is lie and attack people. And why not? It's built him a huge audience and made him a millionaire many times over. But, seriously... what a gaping asshole.
• 30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Your Favorite Place...
This was a difficult challenge, because I have dozens upon dozens of favorite places on this earth. But I am always wanting to go back to Maui. Especially now when it's cold outside. The nice thing about The Valley Isle is that I've been there many times, so there's no pressure to see or do anything. I can just park myself on a beach somewhere and kick back. What more could you want for a happy place?
Posted on Monday, March 5th, 2012
It's the storm before the calm!
Tomorrow afternoon I leave for a couple weeks vacation. I am not even close to being ready. Between non-stop work and a couple of unplanned trips, there hasn't been time to do much of anything. Even so, I managed to get a suitcase packed, eat dinner, get my ducks in a row, and make sure I've got a bunch of comic books loaded on my iPad for the flight. I'm as ready as I'm gonna be. And if I forgot something? That's what a credit card is for.
So there's not much cause to go into a panic, is there?
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Your Best Friend...
In the context of this blog, Bad Monkey is my best friend.
When it comes to real life, I'm blessed with a multitude of "best friends" that I love more than chocolate pudding. And let's not forget my blog readers, who I love more than Taco Doritos. My life is better because of all of you!*
* Well, okay, most of you. But especially you.
Posted on Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
Really tough day. I'll have to write about it tomorrow, because now I just want to go to sleep for a couple hours.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Your Favorite Book Character [Can't Be a Movie]...
I was going to answer "John Carter of Mars" but that's now a movie (opens Friday!). After that would be "Tarzan" but that's been a lot of movies. "Sherlock Holmes?" Movie. "Ian Dunross?" Television Movie. "Zaphod Breeblebrox?" Movie. "Batman?" Movie. "Paul Atreides?" Movie. "Aragorn?" Movie. Well, crap. And then there's books I love which have characters I like that require more thought and energy to draw than I have right now.
Ultimately I had to go with "Dream" from The Sandman... Neil Gaiman's epic comic book series. Though it was a tough choice between him and his sister, "Death," who is about as amazing as a character can get.
Posted on Wednesday, March 7th, 2012
Yesterday was the very definition of chaos. Probably because I didn't get any sleep the night before, and was running on fumes all day long.
The day you leave for vacation is always like that, I guess, no matter how much you try to make it otherwise. There's always too much to be done and time is running out to do it. Oh well, it's over now. Even though I was pretty much dead by the time I got to my hotel at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport last night.
The one bright spot was the drive over Blewett and Snoqualmie passes, which nearly killed me in my exhausted state, but what a beautiful way to go...
Always amazes me what you can pull off an iPhone that's been stuck to your windshield after you've cleaned, cropped, and sharpened up the mess of photos that were snapping away during your drive. Makes me wish I had time to pull off the road and take some photos with my real camera!
I'd say "there's always next time" but how can I be sure?
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Your Favorite Word...
Not so much that I would care to live for an eternity... but because I like the idea of something that is infinite and never-ending. Something that is bigger than the sum of everything. It's a terrific word that encompasses so much with so little.
Posted on Thursday, March 8th, 2012
Greetings from onboard the mighty Island Princess.
Embarkation was a breeze... a pleasure even... which is not something I can say about most cruises I have taken. Not only did everything go quickly with a minimum time spent waiting in line, but the stateroom was ready before I even stepped foot on the ship.
After a nice buffet lunch, a safety drill, and smooth sailing out of Port Everglades, we were at sea, sailing away from grey skies towards a sunnier climate...
Dinner, as usual for a cruise ship, was excellent. They have a decent Fettucini Alfredo as a standard menu item, which is pretty sweet. And then, before I even realized it, the sun went down and the night was here...
Tomorrow is a "day at sea" which is not my favorite thing, but I'm sure I'll manage doing nothing just fine.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Your Favorite Animated Character...
This was a complete no-brainer. There are a lot of animated characters I like (Batman, Sully Monster, Stitch, etc.)... but my hands-down favorite is GIR from Invader Zim. His crazy antics crack me up every time, and they managed to give him a personality that is something really special. Oh how I wish that they would make more Zim cartoons. I've seen the existing ones so many times I'm starting to memorize them.
Posted on Friday, March 9th, 2012
Sea day. Sea day. Just a boring sea day.
As I'm not much a fan of laying around and eating until you puke, sea days aren't my favorite thing on a cruise. Though the weather was pretty amazing (if a little windy)...
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Your Favorite Television Show...
Easily my favorite show to have ever existed was Jeremy Piven's Cupid. I'd tell you to go buy it on DVD so you could see just how amazing and magical that television can be but, alas, it's not available. I keep hoping though.
Posted on Saturday, March 10th, 2012
I'M TRAPPED! TRAPPED LIKE A RAT ON A BIG BOAT!!
Sea days on a cruise are tough. Two of them in a row is really tough.
The highlight of my day was watching some chefs cut fruits and vegetables into a variety of interesting shapes, then assembling these shapes into various birds, fish, and animals...
Yep, that was my day.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Your Favorite Candy...
I love U-NO bars. The texture is sublime. They're sweet... but have little salty almond bits. I could eat them morning, noon, and night, but only seem to find them around Halloween where I live.
Probably a good thing.
But a little boring to draw.
Posted on Sunday, March 11th, 2012
If it's going to rain in The Caribbean, it's usually just for a bit in the morning until the sun comes out and burns the clouds away. Which is why I'm at a complete loss as to why the ship's itinerary has it docking in Oranjestad, Aruba (an independent part of the Netherlands) at FRICKIN' SEVEN O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING when it was pissing down rain... then leaving at 12:30, just as blue skies were arriving. If I were a sun worshiper coming to enjoy one of Aruba's magnificent beaches, I'd be pissed.
But I'm not, so I don't get all bent out of shape. Heck, cloudy days with a little rain make for some beautiful photos, so I'm perfectly fine with that kind of weather.
Which didn't come until 9:30am, meaning I spent a couple hours getting drenched. Because the rain rolled in just moments after docking...
Visiting the "California Lighthouse" (named for a ship that sunk off the coast here) was a wet experience indeed...
But after a while the sun started breaking through and even the dogs were coming out...
By the time I arrived at "Baby Natural Bridge," the rain had completely stopped and the skies were clearing...
"Baby Natural Bridge" is a land formation where the water has eaten away at the base of a big rock, creating a bridge...
The original "Natural Bridge" was bigger than "Baby Natural Bridge," but it collapsed into the ocean back in 2005. It's the black busted rocks you see on the right there...
And here's a better view...
In the above picture, the waterline used to extend all the way up onto the sand there. But when Natural Bridge collapsed, it blocked off the ocean. Apparently, tourists used to walk across the bridge all the time so, luckily, it fell apart in the early morning when nobody was around to get hurt.
There's a few places on the island where giant boulders randomly appear for no reason that geologists understand. This makes them a tourist attraction, and you can even climb on top of one like a mini Stone Mountain!
And, of course, my last stop had to be the Hard Rock Cafe Aruba, so I could pick up a shirt and a few pins...
AT LEAST I WOULD HAVE BOUGHT A T-SHIRT IF THE SHOP HAD ANY OF THEM... ABSOLUTELY ANY OF THEM... IN A SIZE LARGE!! How incredibly stupid do you have to be to run out of the one souvenir that everybody wants in the most popular size on earth? It's as if the management at this Hard Rock just said "Fuck it! We don't want the cash!"... and then set a huge pile of money on fire in the middle of the fucking restaurant. I mean, seriously, selling souvenir shirts and pins at a Hard Rock is like printing money. You get guaranteed sales at a massive profit margin, and so it makes zero sense why any Hard Rock would ever... ever... run out.
Unless they were purposely trying to run themselves out of business.
With an hour left to kill, I wandered down the colorful streets of Oranjestad...
And, as you can see, blue skies struck with a vengeance... just as the ship was leaving port.
And that was the first port excursion on my cruise. A welcome event after two days trapped on a giant boat at sea.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw the Turning Point in Your Life...
While there are many turning points in my life, the biggest would be a visit to Thailand back in 1998. My entire outlook on life was completely changed. Suddenly all the things that once seemed so critical to my happiness became trivial and petty. Some of this came from studying Buddhist teachings... but mostly it came from the beautiful example set by the Thai people themselves. It was as if I had been sleepwalking for decades and suddenly started to wake up as to what was important in life.
It doesn't get to be more of a turning point than that.
Posted on Monday, March 12th, 2012
It was a roasting 90° F in Columbia today. I thought I'd melt under the flawless blue skies of beautiful Cartegena, but instead I just got a little red.
Some random shots of the day, because I'm too tired for much else...
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Your Most Recent Accomplishment...
Getting six full hours of sleep last night was a major accomplishment.
Even if it was artificially-induced.
Posted on Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
Since this ship didn't go all the way through the Panama Canal, I took an excursion that would continue onward to the Pacific. Kind of boring, but I didn't come all this way to only go through half the canal.
It was pleasant enough, I guess, except I ended up burned again... even though I piled on the sunscreen...
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw a Comic...
And by "comic" I'm assuming a comic book hero will work?
Posted on Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
At long last the excursion I've been waiting for finally arrived: SLOTHS!
I've been a huge fan of these little mammals for a long time. And watching sloth television shows on Animal Planet and sloth videos on YouTube has only made me like them more. As if all that weren't enough, baby sloths are about the cutest things you'll ever see.
The Sloth Sanctuary is located about a half-hour's drive out of the ship's port of call in Limon. They take in baby sloths who have been abandoned and adult sloths who have been injured. They also have a nature walk and canoe float to see even more wildlife species of the rainforest.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Your Favorite Fairytale...
Most fairytales in their original, non-Disneyfied versions are totally messed up. Far from being perky stories to brighten your day, these children's tales by the likes of The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen are filled with death and depression. For a classic example, get your hands on the original The Little Mermaid sometime and see how twisted a story for kids can get. The Little Match Girl is no less fucked up than other fairytales, but it's got a base element that rings true, and so it's kind of stuck with me over the years...
A little girl is out in the cold trying to sell matches on New Years Eve. She's close to freezing, but she can't go home because her father will beat her if she doesn't sell the matches. With nowhere to go because she hasn't sold anything, she seeks refuge in a nook and lights a match to keep herself warm. A shooting star appears and she remembers how her kindly grandmother told her before she died that this was a person going to heaven. With the next match she lights, the girl has a vision of her grandmother... the only person to ever love her... in the flame. She continues to light the matches one-by-one so she can keep the vision of her grandmother alive. But, sadly, eventually she runs out of matches and freezes to death. Her grandmother then shows up as a spirit and takes the little match girl to heaven.
So, basically, life sucks and then you die. Such a great lesson for kids.
Posted on Thursday, March 15th, 2012
Another sea day.
Which is kind of a relief, as it gives me a chance to recover from the hideous burns on my face after cruising through the Panama Canal. As in... HOLY CRAP! MY FACE HAS BEEN BURNT OFF! Thanks a lot, stupid sun-screen lotion that didn't work! Actually, the burns aren't quite so bad now. Only my forehead blistered, so it's pretty raw... the rest of my face has settled down to a rosy glow. In another couple of days I should be back to quasi-normal-looking, but with a slight tan.
With nothing better to do, I started placing the artwork for the latest issue of THRICE FICTION. I know I say this every time, but this is probably our best issue yet! RW has found some mind-bogglingly good stories for numero quatro, and I can't wait for everybody to get their hands on it. Which will probably be the end of next week, once I've had a chance to code the eBook editions.
And so now I take my leave of you with this gorgeous sunset that's happening out my balcony...
Thank you "VIVID SUNSET MODE" on my pocket Canon camera!"
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw a Family Portrait...
Posted on Friday, March 16th, 2012
Hello from the land of rum and pirates.
As a Hard Rock fan, Grand Cayman has been on my list of places to visit for a long time. I almost visited years ago, but a hurricane in the area changed my travel plans.
But here I am at last.
I wasn't going to do the whole "excursion thing" so I could just bum around George Town and hit the beach, but my face is still burnt to a cinder, so I thought "What the hell?"
Which is ironic, because the first stop was... literally... Hell. Hell, Grand Cayman...
I wouldn't have expected it, but there are chickens in hell. Chickens who like eating coconuts...
And here's a shot of Seven Mile Beach taken from the bus window. Sigh. If not for faulty sun-screen and a massive burn on my face...
Then it was time for a turtle farm. The idea is to preserve and protect the species, but the poor turtles looked incredibly bored swimming around in circles within their small, crowded tanks. I felt pretty sorry for them, as it didn't look like much of a life...
There were also other critters wandering around the place...
After the tour dumped everybody off in George Town, there was only one place I really wanted to go...
The cafe is a small, old-school property that's located at the end of the main shopping district downtown. It would probably do a lot better business if it were more centrally located near the cruise ship dock, but there you have it.
I would have eaten lunch at the Hard Rock, but I don't really care for their veggie burgers and fries. Since that's what I was craving, I decided to wander down to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville.
What a huge fucking mistake that turned out to be.
First of all, they didn't have Boca Burgers like every other Margaritaville I had ever been to. Oh well, I decided to have nachos and a Coke instead. Not a big deal.
EXCEPT THEY WERE THE WORST NACHOS I HAVE EVER EATEN IN MY LIFE! And I am including the time I had Australian nachos where the crazy bastards mix the salsa into the chips for a soggy mess. Because, hey, at least their nachos use actual cheese and are... you know... WARM! Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville nachos are inedible shit. And COLD! They take roasted chips... pour in some FUCKING DISGUSTING COLD IMITATION CHEEZ-WHIZ-LIKE CONGEALED SUBSTANCE... put a small puddle of melted real cheese on top... then add some shriveled olives, jalapeños, and crap. What you end up with is a bunch of soggy tortilla chips coated in this grotesque oily mess. And did I mention that they were COLD? They weren't "not hot" or "merely warm"... but FUCKING COLD!
Yes. COLD! I couldn't even bring myself to eat them they were so bad...
If that wasn't bad enough, the Coke was watered down and flat. I only drank it because it was something cool. I would have complained to my waiter... but I rarely saw him. The poor guy was given way too many tables that were too far apart. I did tell him when I hunted him down to pay, but his response was to give me a "souvenir glass" I apparently paid for but never wanted, and tell me he would tell his manager.
I'd chalk this up to a bad experience, but the table next to me didn't get hot food either, and the buns on one of their burgers was stale. So... lesson learned... when you're hungry in George Town, Grand Cayman... avoid Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville like the fucking plague. Which is such a shame, because all the other Margaritavilles I've eaten at have had excellent food and service.
Jimmy should be ashamed to have his name on this place.
And, thanks to my pricey souvenir glass I never wanted, I have something to remember one of the worst meals I've ever had for the rest of my life! Or until I throw the shit in the garbage.
Couldn't have asked for a nicer day. Lovely sunshine and a nice breeze to keep things pleasant. And then there's that amazing Caribbean Blue water here that looks like some kind of Photoshop hack, but really isn't...
Sweet! As I was writing this, I heard somebody telling bad jokes over a loudspeaker ("WHY DIDN'T THE SKELETON CROSS THE ROAD? HE DIDN'T HAVE THE GUTS!"). I thought it was coming from the ship, but it was instead a small touristy pirate ship thing floating by my balcony...
Yo! Ho! A pirates life for me!
And, just like that, my last excursion was over. We set sail for Florida in a couple hours.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Your Inspiration...
This should come as no shock to anybody who has read Blogography for any amount of time. Steve Jobs takes inspiration to an entirely new level. But he did that with most things. I know it probably rings hollow for somebody to gush over a person they've never met... but I miss Steve Jobs terribly and think of him often. What I wouldn't give for just one more keynote speech... just one more thing.
Posted on Saturday, March 17th, 2012
The last day of a cruise is usually a "Sea Day" so that everybody can pack their suitcases, settle their onboard account, arrange their disembarkation transportation, and have one last chance to stuff their faces with all the food they can get their hands on.
For me, 10-14 days is about the right length for a cruise. Any shorter and you barely have time to unpack, get used to the ship, and start relaxing. Any longer and you start to go insane over the idea of being trapped on a boat one more day. And that's where I'm at right now. I see these cruise itineraries of 30 and 45 days (and up!) and just don't know how people do it. Maybe if I had a larger cabin with a shower that was bigger than a bread box I'd feel different, but I doubt it. And so I've started to mentally prepare myself for dealing with the reality of post-cruise life. And when you've been living in an "unreality" bubble for ten days, that's not an easy thing to do.
For anybody who is interested in all the gory details, I've put the particulars of my Panama Canal cruise onboard Island Princess in an extended entry.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Your Favorite Plant...
I love tomato plants because tomato plants give us tomatoes and tomatoes give us pizza sauce.
→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Sunday, March 18th, 2012
When I booked my cruise, I found that flying home today would have cost an arm and a leg. And since I would rather spend an arm and a leg seeing cool stuff than trapped in a metal tube, I decided to extend my vacation a few days so the airfare would be cheaper.
The problem is that Ft. Lauderdale is the #1 destination for Spring Break that's going on now, and I really didn't want to be caught up in that craziness as I attempt to take a vacation from my vacation. So I decided to get as far from Ft. Lauderdale as possible... Key West. I haven't been here in ages, so why not? sure it's a long drive, but it's a nice drive too...
And boy was it a stunningly beautiful day to be in Key West...
Until I found out that Key West is the #2 destination for Spring Break that's going on now...
Oh well. Key West is absolute magic no matter what's going on, so I really don't have much choice but to enjoy it. And speaking of magic...
In a wild coincidence, the Disney Magic was in port... the same ship I cruised with in The Mediterranean back in 2010!
From there it was time to visit one of my most favorite Hard Rock Cafes on the planet. It's an amazing property that's built into a grand old house and crammed full of great memorabilia the way a Hard Rock should be...
And don't forget a slice of delicious Key Lime Pie...
Then back down South to watch the sunset...
Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, that's for sure!
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Just a Doodle...
After spending a week in the Caribbean, I guess I have pirates on the brain! Kind of tough to draw it on my MacBook's trackpad though.
Posted on Monday, March 19th, 2012
The forecast was for overcast skies and eventual rain. Key West got blue skies and sunshine. I celebrated my good fortune by getting another sunburn and eating key lime pie.
I also did a number of touristy things because I felt kind of touristy. The last time I was here I didn't feel like doing anything, so I guess it all balances out in the end.
First stop? The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. I had such a good time when I visited the one in Australia that I couldn't pass it up. This one was smaller, but just as nice. And it had birds in it. Overall a very, very cool experience...
Then I was of to the Key West Lighthouse and Lighthouse Keeper Quarters Museum where I confronted my fear of heights to climb the 88 steps to the top...
Then I decided to give Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville a chance to redeem themselves after the awful, awful experience I had in Grand Caymans. It was just as delicious and great an experience as I've had at other Margaritavilles I've been to, so I was happy again...
Then a stop at the Oldest House in Key West...
Then a visit to President Truman's Little White House...
Then a world-famous Conch Train Tour...
Then a stop at The Ernest Hemmingway House and Museum. I had been here before, but love all the cats (some of which are six-toed!), so I had to stop again...
But most all the houses in Key West are special in some way... even if they never belonged to somebody famous...
Then off to the Key West Aquarium...
And the Highway 1 Mile 0 marker...
Then it was time for a refreshing Stewart's Key Lime soda!
And the historic Southernmost House Inn... supposedly the second-most photographed house in the USA after the White House...
And then I wandered around Southernmost Point... went back to see a few more butterflies... then dropped by my hotel to put my feet up and blog a bit. Not bad for seven hours in Key West!
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Something Orange...
The official fruit of Florida... ORANGES!!
Posted on Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
My flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Detroit was blissfully uneventful.
My flight from Detroit to Seattle was easily in my Top Five Worst Flights of All Time list. There was two-and-a-half hours of nausea-inducing turbulence that had people puking their guts out from North Dakota to Idaho. I don't get motion-sickness, but my stomach was telling me that it wish I did. And now that I'm finally in Seattle, I just want to climb into my beautiful plush-top hotel bed and sleep.
Except I have to do my drawing for the day.
Not that it matters though... I won't be posting this until I get home because I'm not paying $17 for internet.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Something New...
Before I went on vacation, I bought a new pair of Nikes. And filled them with new Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel Insoles. So I was totally gellin' on my vacation.
And isn't that what vacation is all about?
Posted on Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
I had meant to drive over the mountains early this morning so I could get back to work first thing.
But it snowed last night and the passes were a mess every time I rolled over and checked WSDOT on my iPhone. Then around 8:00 things started improving. The overcast skies were breaking up and the snowplows were out. At 8:30 it was time to go.
By the time I got to the top, it was kind of a glorious day. That fresh snowfall sure looked pretty...
And now? Time to get back to life.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Something You Want...
STILL WANT MY FLYING CAR! WHERE'S MY FUCKING FLYING CAR?!? I wouldn't have to worry about snowy, messed-up roads if I had a flying car.
Posted on Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
Juuuuuuust enough time to pack my suitcase. Again.
And draw a new 30 Day Challenge entry. Again.
Then I'm off to The Coast. Again.
It's a vacation from my vacation... just like I always dreamed about!
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Something You Miss...
I miss lots of people that aren't in my life anymore. I miss a few television shows that are off the air. There's even some foods I miss that aren't around anymore. But this morning when I went out to my car so I could go to work... and found snow and ice covering it... I missed Maui most of all.
Posted on Friday, March 23rd, 2012
The drive over Stevens Pass was blissfully without incident. No snow on the roads. No accidents. No crazy-ass people. Just a few drivers who couldn't seem to go the speed limit to damage my calm... but road rage was kept to a minimum, which is always nice.
Just before I left, the final pieces for the latest issue of THRICE Fiction fell into place, so I managed to get it uploaded for your reading pleasure. As always, it's totally FREE to download at the THRICE Fiction website!...
This issue is packed with great stuff, so be sure to check it out (did I mention that it's FREE?).
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Something You Need...
What I need... NEED... is to get drunk off my ass on Jägermeister for my birthday tomorrow. Fortunately, that will be happening a day early in 3... 2... 1...
Posted on Saturday, March 24th, 2012
It's my birthday!
It's my birthday!
It's my birthday!
I don't really celebrate my birthday, but here it is. My non-celebration is taking place at the Tulalip Resort Casino. It's a very nice casino run by the Tulalip Indian Reservation that's 45 minutes north of Seattle. And, unlike tribal casinos I've visited in some states, it's a real casino with real casino games and (more importantly) real slot machines... not just a bunch of slot-looking-machines that are just a fancy facade for a BINGO game (or however they circumnavigate gaming restrictions).
Anyway... at one point I was up $220... but eventually walked out just $40 ahead. That's not as great as winning a couple thousand dollars on my birthday, but it beats ending up with a loss.
As usual, I drank too much, but what's a non-celebration without too much alcohol?
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw a Couple...
Don't ask my why. It's my birthday and I've had too much to drink.
Posted on Sunday, March 25th, 2012
And now that I've driven home (again) my vacation from my vacation is officially over. Sadly, I am in more of a need of a vacation now than when I got back from my first vacation. So validate your passport, my permanent vacation (and Bullet Sunday) starts... now.
• Thrice Four. When RW and I started THRICE Fiction magazine, I honestly thought that we'd be lucky if we got our friends and family to read it. Which is why once our first issue passed 100 downloads, I was walking on air. Eventually that number climbed to over 300, which exceeded my every expectation. Subsequent issues dropped a bit as the buzz died down, but we were still getting hundreds of downloads. I remain shocked to this day.
The newest issue just passed 2500 downloads only two days after release. It's kind of difficult to know how to react to that...
The cover for THRICE No. 4 is something I worked up while I was on vacation, though I had the idea months earlier. For some reason I always think of forks as being "evil" because they violently stab food, while spoons are "good" because they gently scoop food. After watching the amazing video for Rendezvous' The Murf where one culture rises to worship a squid and another a whale, I had an image of one culture rising to worship a fork and another a spoon. And now I finally had an outlet for it... composing them to be mirror-images of each other. For being a last-minute creation, I'm quite happy with the way it turned out. Though I still prefer the original idea. Let's face it... that video is nothing short of genius...
As always, you can download the latest issue of THRICE Fiction for free at our official website. Apparently we'll be sticking around a while. From the bottom of my heart, thanks to my partner in crime and everybody who has supported us these four issues.
• Trayvon Martin. As I've been on vacation, I haven't been keeping up with the news. Or blogs. Or much of anything. I tend to ignore everything and everyone when vacationing because that's what makes it a vacation. But it was impossible not to hear about the horrific death of Trayvon Martin...
Welcome to "Post-Racist America" where you can kill a black child just because you consider him "suspicious," and not even notorious "crusader for justice" and ratings whore Nancy Grace seems to give a shit. Now if somebody can just explain to me how a person can claim "self-defense" when they fucking profiled and stalked the victim... I'd appreciate it. That would go a long way towards explaining why no arrest was made and how a thorough investigation apparently wasn't worth the effort.
The word "disgusted" is so severely inadequate to describe my feelings here that I am disgusted with myself for even alluding that it could. Will there ever be justice for Trayvon Martin? I suppose that depends on whether people ultimately decide that gunning down a child because he was wearing a hoodie while being black is something worth getting upset about.
• Worship. While I do not consider myself to be a Buddhist, it is Buddhist teachings that form the basis of my belief structure. After decades of wandering when it came to matters of faith, it was Buddhism that "spoke true" to me, and integrating it into my life has done amazing things to contribute to my happiness and understanding of the world. I fully accept that it's not a "religion" for everybody, but that's perfectly fine. It doesn't mean we can't all get along. I respect the religions of others in the hopes that they will respect mine.
Unfortunately, this is increasingly not the case...
And he has ties to presidential hopeful Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum. Shocking.
And, just like Santorum, this vile piece of crap has -zero- interest in respecting the beliefs of other persons. If you're not Christian like him, you can just get the fuck out of America, and that's all there is to it.
But it's not his intolerance that bothers me.
It's at the one-minute mark where he says "We don't worship Buddha! I say we don't worship Buddha! We don't worship Muhammad! We don't worship Allah! We worship God!" Well, whatever, asshole. Nobody is telling you that you have to worship anything. America was, in fact, founded on the idea of freedom of religion so you can worship whatever the hell you want. But you don't get to speak out of ignorance about an entire faith you stupid fuck.
BUDDHISTS DON'T WORSHIP BUDDHA! THEY DON'T "WORSHIP" ANYTHING.
Buddha was not a saint or a prophet or a god or somebody to be worshipped. He was a teacher. He discovered a way to find enlightenment and happiness, and chose to share it with people. And that's all. So when you see statues of Buddha and people bowing before them, it's not out of worship. It's merely a way of showing respect to a great teacher.
And now you know why I can never be a true Buddhist. Buddhists don't believe in "wrong-speaking." But I can't help but call an ignorant asshole an ignorant fucking asshole, so that's the way it's going to have to be. In any event, morons like this glory-seeking piece of shit are the ones that can get the hell out of America. You are betraying everything we are.
• Blueberry. One of my artistic inspirations, Jean Giraud (better known as Moebius), passed away on March 10th. His stories and artwork remain a triumph of the imagination, and I cherished everything he wrote and drew...
Goodbye Mr. Giraud. You've left us a beautiful legacy.
• Prometheus. Holy. Shit.
Looks like Ridley Scott hasn't lost his touch. To say I'm hyped to see this film come June 8th is a gross understatement.
• LEGO BATMAN!!! And as if Prometheus wasn't enough to get excited about. The sequel to one of my favorite video games of all time is coming later this year...
This looks incredible. If it's even half the game that the original LEGO Batman game was, I'll be very happy.
And now I suppose I should try and get some sleep since I didn't bother this weekend. Such is the peril of going on vacation.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Scenery...
Already done, man. Already done.
Posted on Monday, March 26th, 2012
Yesterday on the way home from The Coast, I stopped at the grocery store because my cupboards were bare. On the way in, I noticed a table stacked with Girl Scout cookies being attended by sweet, smiling Girl Scouts. "Hello!" they said cheerfully as I walked by. After shopping, I went to pay for my groceries and realized I forgot my wallet in the car. "Hello!" said the Girl Scouts once again as I rushed out to my car. I grabbed my wallet and dashed back into the store. "Hello!" said the Girl Scouts as I ran past.
After finally paying for my groceries, I was pushing my cart out to the parking lot when the smiling Girl Scouts once again gave me a cheery "Hello!" as I rolled past. "OKAY! I'LL BUY A BOX OF COOKIES!" I bellowed.
It was then that I noticed the Girl Scouts were wearing jeans and T-shirts. "Hey! Where are your Girl Scout uniforms?" I asked. I was then shown that the girls were wearing an official "Girl Scouts Pin" and told that uniforms are now optional. "Optional?!? Then how can I tell you're real Girl Scouts? Maybe you mugged some Girl Scouts and stole those cookies! This got me some nervous laughter, but apparently they didn't care about my being a smart-ass so long as I was buying their cookies. That's just good business sense, I suppose...
It's probably only a matter of time before other uniforms go the way of the dodo bird. But so long as that police officer is wearing his official "Police Force Pin," he still has a license to shoot people and drive really fast with his lights flashing... even if they're wearing a pair of Hawaiian board shorts and a lime green tank top.
Oh well. I guess we'll still get to see uniforms on Halloween...
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Something You Don't Like...
And I'm liking Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum less and less every day. That being said, he would be hysterical opponent for President Obama in a debate. The entertainment value would be so amazing that I'm almost tempted to donate to his campaign.
Posted on Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
What a dreary, life-sucking day.
A week ago I was in sunny Key West with warm breezes and sunny skies. Today I'm back home where it's cold and overcast.
But, then again, six months ago I was hiking around Uluru in Australia...
...so I guess it's all relative.
Except it just started raining. Again. Which means my life is relatively shitty right now.
Guess there's nothing left to do but go to bed.
Ooh! And make my drawing!
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Someone You Love...
I LOVE YOU, KERMIT THE FROG!!
Posted on Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
So... I'm guessing we're a step closer to Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum getting caught in a gay sex scandal. I mean, if you can't even be photographed next to a guy holding a pink bowling ball, you've gotta be dangerously close to having some kind of repressed gay meltdown (which is probably the most fabulous, glitter-induced meltdown you can have). The only questions remaining are A) Where will Santorum get caught putting his pink balls, and B) Will it happen before or after the Republican presidential nominee has been decided?
For maximum comedic effect, I'm hoping it's A) In Rush Limbaugh's mouth, and B) After he wins the presidential election.
Because I'm pretty sure that's what would make Jesus laugh.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Anything You'd Like...
This drawing actually goes seven levels deep... even though you can only really see four of them. At one point I was going to try and animate this in a zooming endless loop, but decided my sanity couldn't handle it.
Posted on Thursday, March 29th, 2012
After my dentist check-up this morning, I went to meet friends for lunch. When we arrived at the restaurant, I noticed my iPhone was missing. I knew that I had it when I left the dentist, but had no idea how I could have lost it. Using the "Find my iPhone" app on my friend's iPhone, I saw that my iPhone was back at our initial meet-up point. I don't know how, but I dropped/left it there.
I was relieved, but also... a little freaked.
How would I explain losing my iPhone if I actually lost it?
OFFICER: What do you mean you lost your iPhone?
DAVE2: I dunno! I had it, then suddenly it was gone!
OFFICER: Gone? You don't lose something so precious as an iPhone.
DAVE2: I did! I swear it!
OFFICER: What are you hiding? Did you kill your iPhone?
DAVE2: No! I would never! I love my iPhone!
OFFICER: Why don't I believe you, Mr. Simmer?
DAVE2: =sob!= A DINGO ATE MY iPHONE!!
And speaking of iPhone, there's some kind of bullshit going on concerning a new SIM card standard that Apple is wanting. From what I can tell, it's a much, much smaller card than usual, which will give Apple more room to add cool stuff to their phones or make them smaller.
But competing phone companies like Motorola, Nokia, and RIM are crying foul. They want THEIR new idea for a SIM card to be the standard, and are saying Apple's idea isn't as good. So they're all appealing to some kind of ruling body for SIM cards to try and get Apple's card blocked.
I can tell you right now... if I were on that ruling body, I would totally have one thing to say to Motorola, Nokia, and RIM... SHUT THE FUCK UP! IF IT WEREN'T FOR APPLE, WE'D STILL BE USING YOUR OLD SHITTY MOBILE PHONES, INSTEAD OF THE APPLE-INSPIRED PHONES YOU'RE MAKING NOW...
Mobile phones BEFORE and AFTER the iPhone... Image taken from Digeratii
In all honesty, any "ruling bodies" should give Apple whatever the hell they want. Apple is the company that's driving the mobile phone market now, and everybody else can just get out of the way. Then Motorola, Nokia, and RIM can go back to copying what Apple does next instead of fucking up where Apple is wanting to take us.
Ooh! I'm more of an Apple Whore than usual today!
I guess that's what the trauma of almost losing your iPhone can do to you.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw a Place You'd Like to Go...
THE MOON, BABY! But I'd settle for Antarctica. Or India. Or even Cambodia.
Posted on Friday, March 30th, 2012
I was pretty indifferent when I heard that they were making a movie from The Hunger Games books. Sure I liked the novel quite a lot, but I was in no hurry to see it in the theater. Maybe because I thought the second book wasn't as good... and the third book was disappointing... and I felt done with The Hunger Games.
But here it is, and I felt compelled to see it. I'll be vague and fairly spoiler-free, but if you really want to avoid any discussion of the film until you've seen it (or read the books), I'd skip down to my final "30 Days Drawing Challenge."
In summary... an enjoyable enough film, but a big step down from the book upon which it's based...
In the future the US has collapsed, sea level has risen, the world has been reshaped, and civilization has been replaced with "Panem" a new nation divided into twelve districts. As punishment for having risen up against the government, each district holds an annual lottery where a boy and a girl are offered up as "tributes" in a battle to the death where only one shall survive.
Which sounds kind of familiar if you've read/seen Battle Royale, but whatever. The long and short of it is that the plot of both works is pretty fucked up, seeing as how young kids are going around killing each other.
Anyway... the tribute from District 12 is Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers to take the place of her young sister who "won" the Hunger Games lottery. She is offered up along with a guy who's a vague acquaintance from her past, and the game for survival is on. Death and destruction ensue.
The thing that made the book such a good read is that it regularly punches you in the gut as you made your way through the story. It's edgy, personal, disturbing, relentless, and violent. It has mad pacing and a plot that drives ahead like a sledgehammer. By comparison, the movie falls flat. Most of the events are there, but they've been smoothed out until they lack any sort of edge. The sense of danger never feels very high. The second half of the film where the action should be coming to a head was actually kind of boring. And, worst of all, it never felt very personal.
As expected with a film adaptation, stuff was changed and left out... some of it inexplicably so. But what really pissed me off was how they altered the ending. The filmmakers were clearly more interested in setting up a sequel rather than following the disheartening end-beat of the source novel. This sucks ass, because it completely sabotages the story and robs a major character of their emotional journey. It was a cheap trick and a lame way of trying to make a more "likable" finish.
As for the casting, I didn't think it was as bad as many Hunger Games fans felt it was. I thought Katniss and Peeta were well represented. I thought Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz were great casting choices. Stanley Tucci gave a great performance for a character that didn't really have a great performance in it. Elizabeth Banks frickin' WAS Effie Trinket, even though the character had a chunk missing from her back-story. Cinematography didn't seem as epic as I would have thought, but the film didn't really suffer from it. Direction and editing were capable, if nothing exceptional... probably stemming from the watered-down PG-13 script.
Ultimately, I recommend the book, and half-heartedly recommend the film if you've read the book. I don't recommend the movie if you haven't read the book, as it's missing too much to really hold up on its own (so read the book first!).
And... it's all downhill from here. The second book has some interesting stuff to draw from, but I don't think the third (and final) novel will adapt well at all. But, given the amount of money this flick has been making, that's not going to stop anybody from trying.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw a Congrats Banner for Finishing...
Well that wasn't quite the big bucket of fun that I thought it would be... I guess I probably shouldn't start stuff like this when I have a vacation in the middle. Oh well. It gave me something to blog about a few times when I didn't have anything to blog about, so there you have it.
Posted on Saturday, March 31st, 2012
Today I got in a conversation with somebody where I mentioned that Canada is killing off their penny. They bristled at the idea. I said that not only do I wish we'd kill off our penny... I wish that we'd do away with cash altogether. In addition to saving us bajillions in production costs, we'd also do away with counterfeiters, hamper drug dealers, and reduce who-knows what other problems plaguing society. Money truly is the root of all evil, ya know. The person I was talking to admitted that they had never thought of it that way, and could see my point.
That's when I had to drop the bombshell that it's never going to happen in the US in our lifetimes because the Christians would revolt.
"Huh? Wha-? I'm a Christian, why would we revolt?!?"
"Well, a lot of you guys believe that the advent of a cashless society is a sign of the impending Apocalypse and the End of Days."
"Wha-? No we don't!"
"Some of you do. Among the freaky imagery in Revelation 13 is the idea that the Anti-Christ will do away with cash and you'll need the Mark of the Beast to buy stuff."
"Mark? Like a tattoo? That's in the Book of Revelations? "
"Err... Book of RevelaTION, yeah. I guess it could be a tattoo... like a barcode. Or maybe a brand. Or a computer chip or something... sure. Could even be a credit card... The Bible isn't always literal about things."
"Weird. Guess I don't remember Revelations much."
"Perhaps if you started by remembering the title correctly the rest would come easier..."
And then I had to wonder for the millionth time how it is that I, a non-Christian, have put in more time studying The Bible than most Christians I meet. And then I had to wonder for the billionth time how it is that somebody can choose to live their life and base their faith on a book (The Book) that they don't know much about and don't really understand. Maybe going to church and listening to somebody else tell them what they should think about their most sacred texts is enough. It wouldn't be for me. But to each their own I guess.
It snowed last night and was cold and rainy all day, so I was looking for something warm to eat for dinner. But after having worked all day, I didn't want to cook. So I decided to make a salad and see how that goes...
My dinner salad recipe for tonight (all measures approximate)
It was delicious. Though I do wish tomatoes were in season. With an additional vegetable (or a fruit masquerading as a vegetable), it might actually be considered a "salad" instead of an excuse to eat loads of dressing and cheese. I suppose I could have tossed some frozen peas in there or something.
But then I had Eggo waffles for dessert, so I guess it doesn't really matter how many vegetables I dump on my bowl of dressing and cheese.
Now I wish I had some ice cream.
Oh man... how awesome would ice cream be on Eggo waffles?
Posted on Sunday, April 1st, 2012
Time to grab your bullet-proof vest, because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Fool. I am not a fan of "April Fools' Day." Most of the pranks are pretty lame, stupid, and usually too obvious to "fool" anybody... especially the ones you find online. But Google has once again hit it out of the park with not one, but two amazingly well thought out and executed joke videos. Sure it's unlikely that anybody is going to be fooled, but they're still genius if you haven't seen them already...
• Leyner. I am not a fan of audio books. If I'm going to invest time in a book, I want to read it myself instead of having somebody read it to me. But I had a friend who was addicted to them, so every time we'd take a road-trip, he'd bring a bunch of them. I was never impressed enough to pay much attention. Except once. That would be the time that he popped in Et Tu, Babe by Mark Leyner into the cassette player and blew my mind. It was the single most awesome and bizarre thing I had ever heard...
After that, I was a diehard Mark Leyner fan, and kept up with all his genius that I could get my hands on... Tooth Imprints On a Corn Dog; I Smell Esther Williams; The Tetherballs of Bougainville; My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist; and now his latest... The Sugar Frosted Nutsack...
It's pretty insane... even for Leyner... but I still liked it. There's just nobody out there doing what he does the way he does it. But here's the thing... YOU HAVE TO GET THE AUDIO BOOK! Leyner reads all his books himself, and half of what makes his stuff so damn funny is his performance of the material. The shame is that Et Tu, Babe, which remains my favorite, is not available anymore. I keep hoping that Audible will add it since I only own it on cassette, but it's never shown up. Leyner is absolutely not for everyone... the guy is crazy-ass bizarre... but if you're looking for something different... really different... then the audio book might be worth a listen at your local library.
• Amazement. The season two debut was everything I was hoping for and more...
And if you're a fan of Tyrion Lannister on the show, you need to read an interview with the actor who portrays him, the amazing Peter Dinklage, in the New York Times.
• Eggo2. For the person who said Eggo Waffles were "gross" after I mentioned them yesterday, I would have to agree. Usually. Except... the NEW "Thick & Fluffy" Eggos that just came out are an entirely different animal. The honest truth? I prefer them to a lot of waffles I've had in restaurants...
So delicious. So not kidding. If you like waffles, give 'em a try.
Annnnnd... SCENE. No more bullets for you!
Posted on Monday, April 2nd, 2012
My "big plan" for the year 2012 was to visit my 150th Hard Rock property.
I'm at 144 now, with concrete plans for two more through December. Thus leaving me four short. I was planning on dropping in on a few cafes in Asia this Fall, but that's looking less and less likely. So now my plan is probably scuttled. When the realization of this sunk in while I was in the shower this morning, I tried to be upset about it. But I just couldn't for some reason.
It's not like I haven't got bigger things to worry about.
It's not like I haven't had more important plans fall through.
It's not like the world is going to end.
I sure want to feel at least a little upset about it anyway.
And so my new plan is to drink a six-pack of beer and get depressed.
If I can't manage to get that done, I might as well give up.
Posted on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
What a bunch of fucking scumbags.
Back in February I purchased a GoGo Inflight Wireless monthly pass.
Last month in March when I saw the charge, I just thought "Wow, they're really late to bill for their service!" and, just to be sure somebody hasn't stolen my credit card number, I go to my GoGo account and verify that only one charge has been made...
Yep! Page one of one. Just the one charge for February 28th! Guess they are really late in billing.
But then today I look at my credit card statement and see the charge again in April. Then I go back and confirm that the previous charge was, in fact, new service for March because they billed me in February too. So I call and find out what the heck is going on, only to be told that all monthly plans are auto-renewing, and they're sorry I missed that when I signed up.
I don't ever recall seeing that on the sign-up form. But, then again, it was probably easy to miss on my tiny iPhone screen.
Oh well, I explain the error and am told that they can't retroactively cancel my account, but they will put in a request for a refund on the latest (third) charge. Which means that I'm apparently out of luck on getting money back on the second charge.
What a bunch of fucking scumbags.
Look, if you're going to automatically bill people for some kind of renewable service deal, there are three things you need to make sure of...
Which brings me to my point... GoGo is OBVIOUSLY TRYING TO DO THEIR BEST TO HIDE THE CHARGE!
I check my credit card statements every month and still managed to fall into their scam to the tune of $70.
What a bunch of fucking scumbags.
And you just know that they don't give a fuck, because if you want to use internet while flying, they're the only game in town. They get to be scumbags because there are zero consequences from screwing people over.
Which begs the question...
Why in the hell can't I dream up a business philosophy like that?
I really need to make a concentrated effort in becoming more evil.
Posted on Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
It's been a tough day. It's been a tough series of days.
And everybody knows that when the going gets tough, the tough get going... so I'm going to get going on this bottle of Jägermeister.
But before we start drinking:
Am I the only one who thinks that President Obama should consider himself very, very lucky that he met up with the Regular Universe Uhura instead of the Evil Mirror Universe Uhura?
She would cut a bitch for reals.
I have to admit... I love having a cool guy as president. Regardless of how I feel about Obama's politics, the idea of going back to having a wooden, tense, socially awkward president fills me with dread.
And I suppose that's my cue.
Drink Jäger and Prosper my friends.
Posted on Thursday, April 5th, 2012
I've been so busy that I haven't had time to play with the new iPad (third generation) much. That's a darn shame, because it's kind of expensive to just have sitting around on my nightstand. I had to get one for the apps I help develop, so what can I do but sink even more money into Apple's ample coffers? The latest iPad has an all-new hi-res screen, and I have to be sure that stuff I design looks good on it. Otherwise, the iPad3 didn't look to bee much different than the iPad2, so I probably wouldn't have bought one otherwise.
Except, now that I've had a chance to read my comic books on it, I would totally have spent the money on it. I've read a few reviews in the press bitching about how iPad3 wasn't enough of an improvement over iPad2 for Apple to have bothered... which I now know is a huge load of bullshit. If you do any reading on iPad, this is a complete game-changer. Four-times the pixels make for a hundred times better screen, and I am loving it more than I ever thought possible.
The screen is so crisp and clear that I can now read ComiXology "CMX-HD enhanced" pages full-screen without having to zoom in on the individual panels...
Now, when looked at on a "regular resolution" computer screen, the change may appear subtle. But when reduced four-fold, the "SD" panel on the bottom becomes a blurry mess that's a bit difficult to read. The "CMX-HD" panel on the top, however, is razor sharp on iPad3.
So now the iPad is a real option for reading comics. Yes, the screen size is smaller than a "regular" comic book, but it's bigger than a digest, which is perfectly acceptable. And, unlike a digest, you can zoom in and see details if you want without having to find a magnifying glass.
So, my hat is once again off to Apple for once again making an awesome product even more amazing. iPad2 was already leagues above any of the competing "tablets" I've had a chance to play with, but this is entering a whole new dimension, as this snapshot from Apple's website demonstrates...
A few things...
Otherwise, for the most part, iPad3 is pretty much the same as iPad2. Which is not a bad thing at all, because iPad2 was so kick-ass. Indeed, when it comes to comparing it with all the tablets I've seen, Apple has the only game in town. Sure iPad is a bit pricey, but you get what you pay for, and what you get is pretty darn amazing.
It's products like iPad3 that make it so dang easy to be an Apple Whore.
Posted on Friday, April 6th, 2012
Waaaaah! I'M SICK!
I felt sick when I got home from work, but had to go into Wenatchee because I was out of Eggo Thick & Fluffy Waffles and had a Jo-Ann coupon that was close to expiring. Eating dinner just made me sicker, so now I'm sitting here in front of the computer trying not to puke my guts out.
Though I'm guessing vomit hitting the keyboard would probably do a better job of making a blog entry than I am now...
As fun as that sounds, I think I'm going to down some Alka Seltzer and go to bed.
Oh wait... I don't have any Alka Seltzer. I wonder if Jägermeister would work?
Posted on Saturday, April 7th, 2012
Was still feeling sick all day long. This does not bode well for my upcoming travel.
The good news is that I felt well enough to buzz-cut my head again. This time I went even shorter so my haircut will last longer. Because not having to waste time messing with my hair each morning is great. Traveling with short hair is awesome. It's so frickin' convenient that I wish I would have started doing this years ago. Who knew the military had such a good thing going on with their hair style of choice?
Tomorrow is Easter. Hopefully I will follow in the example of Jesus and rise from my almost-dead existence. I've got some work that really needs to get done, so being sick is not an option.
And while I'd really like to fight through the nausea to draw something nice for the holiday, I love what I drew last year so much that I'm not even going to try to top it...
It's just a shame that the poor eggs have to be boiled alive in order to get dressed up for Easter Sunday.
Posted on Sunday, April 8th, 2012
Put down that Cadbury Creme Egg because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Eggaxctly. I'm rather fond of eggs. I'll eat them just about any way you can fix them, but my favorite way to eat eggs are in a an egg salad sandwich. Which is why Easter is always an awesome holiday for me. Plenty of hard-boiled eggs means plenty of sammiches. But when I think about it, I'll eat eggs just about any way you can cook 'em...
As a vegetarian, I had given up on eggs benedict, but last year I had it made with tofu bacon instead of ham, and it was awesome. Of course, the thing about eggs is that you can't tell if they're a raging salmonella bomb just by looking at them...
Which is why every time I'm served undercooked eggs I wonder if I'm going to get the plague. The last time I was caught in a salmonella outbreak, I spent two days with non-stop diarrhea and vomiting. Which isn't the worst thing that can happen... unless you're on the toilet when you have to vomit. And trying to puke between your legs is something nobody should have to experience twice in their life.
• RIP. And so Thomas Kinkade the self-proclaimed "Painter of Light" has gone dark. And while I feel bad that the guy is dead, I can't say I'm too broken up that his output of shitty paintings will stop. Yes, I understand why his unchallenging and mediocre work was popular... it was pretty and required zero thought... but his raging success never ceased to surprise me. I mean this boring crap is what people want hanging on their wall?
Painting ©™® Estate of Thomas Kinkade
I don't get it. But Kinkade obviously filled a need, so more power to him. Hopefully they have plenty of alcohol and things to get drunk and piss on in heaven... rest in peace you crazy bastard.
• Oppression. I don't normally post other people's cartoons and stuff, but this is absolute genius...
In four panels, the artist (whoever they are) has managed to perfectly summarize the disgusting hypocrisy that is running rampant through the Hard-Core Right. I am so sick and tired of hearing their whole "persecuted Christian" nonsense. Fighting back against lies, hatred, and persecution is not oppression so get over it. Believe what you want to believe and live your life... then let others do the same. Oh... and at some point you really should read that Bible you keep beating people over the head with.
• Nasty. Early this morning I received a nasty(?) comment on an old blog entry that made no sense. It was just a bunch of curse words followed by the words "I love your blog!" Much to my surprise, the commenter left what looked like a real email address. So I wrote and asked what the deal was. Almost immediately I got an automated response asking me if I wanted to make money commenting on blogs. I can only guess this means the company is trolling for trolls? Nothing on the internet surprises me anymore.
Now I've got to get back to work... so no more bullets for you!
Posted on Monday, April 9th, 2012
Some people are smarter than others... whether it's genetics, environment, conditioning, education, or whatever. That's just the way it is, which means that some people don't have the brain-power that others do. And, just like other traits that are intrinsic to a person, you can't really fault people for something outside their control. So long as they're trying their best with what smarts they have, they're doing right by themselves and their society. That being said, I deplore it when people of limited intelligence are called "stupid." That they lack the ability to understand something simply means that it's outside their skills,... they don't deserve derogative labels because of it.
The same cannot be said for ignorance.
If you are smart enough to speak about a subject, you are smart enough to make sure that you have your facts straight.
But, even more importantly, you have to be smart enough to accept when you are wrong... and be ashamed enough over being wrong that you to try not to be wrong again.
Alas, this is getting increasingly rare. Too many people are saying too much stupid crap not because they are, in fact, "stupid"... but because they're ignorant. They don't give a crap about accuracy, validity, authenticity, or truthfulness... they just talk out of their ass and don't give a flying fuck what might come of it.
Case in point: my recent trip through the Panama Canal, which went something like this...
The ship traveled from the Caribbean into the Gatun Locks (1). After going through the locks, it anchors in Lake Gatun to let some of us off, where we take a tender to shore (2). From there, we take a bus trip to Gamboa (3). It's at Gamboa where we hop on a boat and continue our journey through the Panama Canal (4), including the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks, before taking a bus to Colón where our ship is waiting for us to continue to Costa Rica (6).
It was while waiting to go through these locks that a guy from a group of people next to me started going off on an ego trip. He was great. He was a successful businessman. He was going to continue to be a successful businessman because his customers were forced to deal with him and him only. Nobody is as smart as he is. Etc. Etc. Etc.
I tried to ignore him, but then he piped up with this little gem to thrill his audience with how smart he is: "We have to go through all these locks because the Pacific and Atlantic oceans are different heights."
What I should have done was mind my own business and stay silent. But, I think we all know that's not what happened. Instead I explained that the oceans are at the same height... which we call SEA LEVEL, and the reason we go through the locks is because Panama is not flat. Gatun Lake is 85 feet above sea level, so we climb locks up to it... sail across... then descend locks back to the ocean. Like this...
Now, it's pretty apparent that I know what I'm talking about here. The land we're sailing through is obviously not flat... just look around. And the concept of "sea level" is pretty basic knowledge that just about everybody has at least heard of before. So there shouldn't have been any room for debate, right?
Of course not. This is where that ignorance problem comes in. Not wanting to look "stupid" in front of his friends, he decided to pitch me some shit instead.
"HA HA HA! YOU'RE WRONG. IF THE OCEANS ARE THE SAME LEVEL, THEN WHY DIDN'T THEY JUST CUT A PATH BETWEEN THEM? WHY ARE WE GOING UP AND DOWN, HUH? YOU'RE NOT MAKING ANY SENSE."
I didn't feel like trying to explain the insanity of blasting a channel 51 miles long so you could remove up to 85-feet of earth... so I said the same thing I always say in situations like this... "Uhhh...yeah. You might want to fact-check that when you have a chance."
Which, when I'm proven correct, will make him look ten times more idiotic than if had he just accepted that he didn't know what he was talking about, had no facts to back-up his outrageous bullshit, and should be smart enough to accept when he's wrong.
But some people are just too damn stupid to do something about their ignorance, so the rest of us have to put up with their dumbassery (and any consequences that come out of it).
And I'm getting really sick of it.
But not half as sick as I am of politicians manipulating ignorant citizens with their outrageous bullshit (either through lies or their own ignorance). And, before anybody starts going all partisan, this is a serious problem on both sides of the political spectrum...as one can easily ascertain at PolitiFact.
Now, I'd hardly say that PolitiFact is a bastion of impartial scrutiny when it comes to the "facts" they investigate. Republican candidates tend to get only their more outrageous statements investigated, while Democrat candidates seem to get equal attention paid to all their statements ( thoughprobably the opposite is true when there's a Republican in The White House). But, party affiliation aside, you can still gleen an interesting picture when analyzing the data. For each of our candidates I attributed +2 points for every "true"... +1 point for "mostly true"... 0 points for "half true"... -1 point for "mostly false"... -2 points for "false"... and -3 points for "pants on fire." This means a perfect score would be 2x the number of statements investigated. I then added a "truthiness" rating which divides their actual score by their perfect score. Here's how that shakes out (click on a name to see their page)...
Remember, this can hardly be considered an impartial comparison because PolitiFact can't possibly investigate every single statement made (they certainly make mistakes as well). And, even if it was perfect and impartial, don't be getting all excited about President Obama's apparent victory in truthiness. 12 out of 100 points is still complete crap. The bigger picture here is that all our politicians are full of shit. Which everybody already knows. No big surprise there. We've pretty much come to expect it, right?
And I'm getting really sick of it.
Ignorant and/or dishonest politicians are shoveling bullshit and telling lies all the time. And the populace at large doesn't seem to care unless it's a candidate they don't like. And even then, it's hardly outrage if you turn the other cheek when it's a candidate you DO like whose doing the lying.
I don't get outraged anymore. I just can't sustain the non-stop 24/7 anger that would require.
But I do get embarrassed by the complete lack of shame that all these asshole politicians have for propagating ignorance... whether intentional or not. I no more understand how we allowed things to get to this point than I understand how somebody can deny sea level.
Apparently ignorance truly is bliss, and everybody is just too happy to be ashamed.
Or to care.
Posted on Tuesday, April 10th, 2012
And I'm off...
Posted on Wednesday, April 11th, 2012
Despite having been to the Netherlands dozens of times, I've never gone out to the bulb fields when they're in bloom. Usually I've been here at the wrong time... but other times when they've been in season, I've had to work or didn't have transportation or something goes wrong.
Today The DutchBitch finally fixed all that. I have to say though, they're not quite as impressive as the postcards lead one to believe...
I lie. They're everything you'd imagine and more.
And while a photograph can only partially communicate just how beautiful it is to be standing in front of flowers that stretch out to the horizon, the thing that really got to me was the smell. I don't know why I never thought of it before, but the bulb fields smell incredible. In particular the Dutch Hyacinth, which is almost other-worldly.
The bright colors don't record that well on a digital camera sensor, which makes photographing the field a bit of a trial (where is film when you need it?), but it's still a great subject to take pictures of.
Eventually all the flowers are cut down so the bulbs can be harvested then re-used or sold...
And thus the Circle of Life begins again.
Posted on Thursday, April 12th, 2012
Half the time when I am traveling I'm working. The other half of the time I am playing tourist and have a schedule of things I want to see. The wonderful thing about being in Amsterdam today was that I didn't have work or an agenda... I could just wander along the canals and soak in the city.
And when it comes to aimless wandering, Amsterdam is pretty hard to top. I could do that for days and not get bored, because it's just so dang beautiful...
After a while, I came across the Anne Frank House Museum. I've tried visiting here at least three times, but the line is usually absurdly long...
But when I checked, it wasn't even around the corner. So, 35 minutes later, I finally got to see it...
It was both fascinating and heartbreaking, and now I know why people are willing to stand in line for such a long time to see it. After that I started wandering the canals again and saw this...
It didn't say anything about humans not being allowed to poop there, so I took a dump in the planter. And then... then... I saw something really bizarre. A boat dredging up bicycles from the bottom of the canal. You'd think that they might find one or two from careless people accidentally dropping them in, but you'd be wrong...
A HUGE pile of bikes. They brought up a half-dozen just as I was standing there watching...
The DutchBitch tells me that people get drunk and drive their bikes into the canals all the time, so they have to clear them out every couple of years. Scary.
I stumbled across Amsterdam's brand new Apple Store. It is absolutely glorious, featuring a glass spiral staircase that's mind-bogglingly terrifying for people like me who are afraid of heights (if only they would let me photograph it). Apple does a good job of finding beautiful buildings to build into, and this one is no exception...
After lunch with some friends in the city, I was given a coupon for Het Scheepvaart Museum (Maritime Museum) as the rain came in. It's a pretty fantastic place...
The displays they have there are incredible. I mean really incredible. I wish they had more of them...
You can also go out on an old ship, which is pretty nifty...
By the time I had finished and headed back to the train station, the sun was out again...
All in all, a perfect day of new experiences for me in Amsterdam. How sweet is that?
Posted on Friday, April 13th, 2012
Today I visited the world-famous Keukenhof, "The Garden of Europe."
It is so famous that I had never heard of it before The DutchBitch suggested that we go there this morning and take photos of flowers.
Here is my assessment...
If somebody were to say "It is one of the most amazing fucking things I've ever seen in my life..." they would be underselling it.
It's that good. Huge grounds filled with meticulously maintained flowers and walkways...
Annnnnd... I'm going to have to stop before I post the entirety of the hundreds of photos I took. All of them amazing. It is impossible to take a bad photograph at The Keukenhof.
After a couple hours, all of Europe turned up at the gardens, so we decided to leave while we still had room to walk out. With time to kill, The DutchBitch drove me to the city of Leiden. Where they have a citadel!
And then it was time for PATATJES MET and an OLD CHEESE SANDWICH! Two of my most favorite things to eat.
Which makes the day just about perfect.
Posted on Saturday, April 14th, 2012
And so it was that we came unto the Hard Rock Cafe Amsterdam for the merriment of Bitchsterdam 3 and a grand time was had by all. The DutchBitch was there, of course, along with Breigh and her husband Xander. And I finally got to meet Invader Stu as well...
Unfortunately, the battery on my pocket camera was dead, so I only have these few photos from my iPhone. If any of us had thought to take a group photo, it would have looked something like this...
I can't wait until Bitchsterdam 4!
Posted on Sunday, April 15th, 2012
Today The DutchBitch says "It is a beautiful day to visit Zaanse Schans!" And, like the fool I am, I believed her. Though I suppose if you ignore the freezing winds and overcast skies, it was a beautiful day to go exploring.
Zaanse Schans is a tourist attraction north of Amsterdam with various shops and interesting things to see. But it's best known for its collection of preserved and functional windmills...
Among the attractions is a "Klompenmakerij" or "Wooden Clog Workshop" where you get to watch them make shoes...
They also have a "Kaasmakerij" or "Cheesemaker Shop" which has all kinds of delicious hand-made cheeses...
It's a nice shop... but you can't bring your chicken in with you...
And there's a gift shop with... Miffy!...
Eventually the sun started to come out a bit, so we walked down the row of windmills...
Once we were tired of goofing off in Zaanse Schans, it was time for PATATJES MET and OUDE KAAS!!
Never mind that I have eaten fried potatoes with mayo and an aged cheese sandwich every day since I've been here... you just can't get enough of a good thing.
And, just like that, my adventure in DutchyLand has come to an end. I'm off to the airport in an hour.
Posted on Monday, April 16th, 2012
And so I am in Hamburg now.
Though I have been to Germany many times, this is my first trip to the northern part of the country. I was actually supposed to go to Bremen, but there's not a shiny new Hard Rock Cafe in Bremen, so I decided on a detour. This ended up being quite a nice excursion, because Hamburg is a lovely city... if a bit hostile to the non-German-speaking traveler. Unlike Cologne, Berlin, Munich, there's not a lot of signage or help available in English. I'm guessing that this is due to Hamburg not being a big foreign tourist destination, but it's puzzling that the touristy advertisements and touristy spots don't have at least something in English.As an example, here's a poster ad in one of the most touristed train station in the city (Landungsbrüken) for a very popular attraction: "The Hamburg Dungeon." ...
All that space, and they couldn't bother to put even a line of English to help a brother out? NEIN!
But I wasn't here to play tourist so, after my work was through at 11:00, I headed directly to the Hard Rock Cafe. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200...
For being one of the "new style" cafes, I was surprised to find that they actually did a decent job of packing in the memorabilia. Far from being the sparse rock museum wasteland we've been getting, there was a nice and varied assortment. This is not to say that there are not oddities, however. Marc warned me about the mirror-finish of the bathroom urinals, but it's not something you can truly appreciate until you have actually pissed in it...
Having an entire audience watching you pee from a photograph is borderline-traumatic. But, sure enough, my junk was clearly reflected for all of Hamburg to see. On a busy Saturday night, I can only guess that somebody walking into the urinal would be greeted by a giant wall of dicks. I'm not exactly shy, but THAT'S traumatic!
On my list of things to see was St. Michael's St. Nicholas' Cathedral... which has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times, only to finally be destroyed for good during WWI and WWII. You can buy an elevator ticket to the top of the one remaining tower, but my fear of heights coupled with my FEAR OF BEING ON TOP OF A BOMBED OUT TOWER WHEN IT COLLAPSES meant that wasn't going to happen...
From there I walked to City Hall, which is a really beautiful building...
I then went to a man-made lake area called "Aster." It has a really beautiful view but, as if that weren't enough, it also has an Apple Store...
From there it was time to visit the ONE "must-see" attraction on my list... MINIATUR WUNDERLAND! It appeared on a Travel Chanel show a while back and really appealed to the model-train lover in me. Of course, the trains are only a small part of the experience. There a multiple dioramas created from famous places in the world that are painstakingly detailed...
And the closer you get, the more details you see...
And the details are not just in the models. It seems that every scene is telling a story. You might see emergency vehicles lit up in one area... only to turn a corner and see that they're headed to a house fire or something...
They sneak in little jokes and pop culture references sometimes as well. As I was examining model cars involved in some kind of countryside race, I found Herbie the Love Bug in the lead, having to stop for some sheep...
Another interesting bit is that all the dioramas cycle from daylight to dusk to night to dawn and back to daylight... with computer-controlled lights providing the appropriate sunlight simulation and the lighting in the buildings, cars, trucks, and such. Here's the airport, going from evening to dawn as I walked around it...
As the airport is one of the newest additions to Miniatur Wunderland, it's fairly complex. The planes move around and everything. Even better, they give you an underground view to the U-Bahn (subway) station...
One of my favorite sections was the rock concert diorama, complete with performers, working video screens, and a massive audience...
No detail is spared... right down to the portable toilets...
The USA is represented, but it's been boiled down to Las Vegas and some kind of red rocks diorama that looks more like Disneyland than the American Southwest, but it's still pretty cool...
Miniatur Wunderland is also kind of educational. In the diorama for Hamburg, the building where the new Hard Rock is now located was apparently home to a skating rink on the roof at one time...
From there I headed to the central part of the city so I could visit the famous Hamburger Kunsthalle Art Museum but, alas it was closed on Mondays. I can only guess that tourists in Hamburg don't go out on Mondays? Oh... no... when I was there I saw other tourists leaving in disappointment too. Not the smartest move on the museum's part, but it's their money to lose, I suppose.
And speaking of the Hard Rock...
When I mentioned a while back that I was sad I wouldn't be reaching my goal of 150 Hard Rock property visits this year, I got a comment from Katharina telling me I should come to her city of Hamburg where they have a new cafe.
Little did she know...
"I WILL BE THERE IN TWELVE DAYS!" I replied.
And she was kind enough to meet me for dinner tonight! Which is why I will have a hard time ever giving up Blogography no matter how passé blogging becomes. Because of blogging, I really have made friends all over the world. No matter where I end up, there's always somebody I can hang out with.
And now I'm back at my hotel packing my backpack for the journey back to the Netherlands tomorrow morning.
Good bye, Hamburg.
Posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
The problem with mid-day plane schedules is that they pretty much kill your day. My 12:30 flight was too early for me to run into Hamburg and do something... but too late for me to arrive into Amsterdam and do anything. Which means I was kinda stuck.
So I decided to sit in my airport hotel room and get caught up on work. Which was a great idea... until I fell asleep. Usually when I feel there's that possibility, I set my alarm clock. But today I didn't for some reason. Which was pretty stupid.
Nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of getting to the gate with a mere ten minutes to spare.
But it all worked out in the end.
I made it back to DutchyLand in time for one last order of PATATJES MET and an aged cheese sandwich with the Dutch Bitch.
Not the worst way I could have spent the last day of vacation.
Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
For a long flight, my first concern is always comfort. With my 6'2" height, it can be a pretty big deal to be cooped up for 10-1/2 hours in a steel tube being hurled across the Atlantic Ocean when my legs are cramped up. But my frequent flier status allowed me a nice upgrade with plenty of legroom, so this wasn't an issue.
My second concern is time. 10-1/2 hours has to be spent doing something and, since I can't sleep on planes, it ain't going to be sleeping. Usually I just watch whatever movies they have available, but they were all films I'd already seen or wasn't interested in. Fortunately, I had purchased some iTunes programs to occupy my head during the trip.
And here's where I go bananas over television shows.
The Dutch Bitch and I were watching The Daily Show when Ricky Gervais was a guest. I'm a big fan of his, so I was really looking forward to his interview. Turns out he was there to pimp two shows... The Ricky Gervais Show and An Idiot Abroad. Much to my surprise, The Ricky Gervais Show ended up being animated. They took funny podcasts that Ricky made with his friends Steven Merchant and Karl Pilkington, and made them even funnier by turning them into cartoons...
Now, here's where things get interesting. The show does not really revolve around Ricky Gervais. It is totally centered around Karl Pilkington. And this frame from the intro tells you absolutely everything you need to know from the show...
Ricky and Steven get Karl to start talking about something, then wait to hear what hilarious things comes out of his mouth. And while Ricky and Steven waste no opportunity to tell Karl how stupid he is for how he thinks about stuff, I can honestly say that Karl Pilkington may be one of the most intriguing thinkers on the planet. His every word transcends logic to reach a level of genius that is absolutely mind-boggling...
I can't tell you how many times I had people staring at me because I kept busting out laughing at the show. It has to be one of the funniest things I've ever seen, and is easily one of the most entertaining shows ever made for television (well, not television, HBO).
I bought both seasons iTunes had available. The first season is gold. The second is even funnier. They are a steal in Standard Definition for $20 each (Hi-Def is a waste, as the cartoons are low-res). If you'd rather spend $0 to get a taste of the show, you can subscribe to The Ricky Gervais Show Podcast. New episodes from the third season start airing on HBO come this Friday.
But The Ricky Gervais Show was just the beginning.
Turns out that Ricky and Steven also created a travel show for Karl Pilkington where they send him around the world to see stuff so that he can "broaden his mind." The first season is all about having Karl visit the Seven Wonders of the World...
And here's where I get confused, because Karl Pilkington is exactly the kind of traveler I usually hate. He complains about everything and isn't happy with anything that isn't the same as it is back home. Ricky and Steven take full advantage of this by getting him into situations they know will freak him out. That's where the funny bits happen, though sometimes I just end up feeling sorry for the guy. Because even with the camera crew following him around and taking care of him, there are times he is clearly out of his depth. The culture shock is overwhelming to him, and forcing him into more and more crazy situations seems almost cruel. Like force-feeding him something he just can't fathom eating...
While he was in India, Karl got to experience something I long to see... the day of Holi. It's a remarkable Hindu festival of sheer joy and celebration that I have been dreaming of for decades. Brightly colored powders fill the air, and people of all ages, social status, and wealth join together in a giant two-day party. If I had a bucket list, Holi would easily be in my top five.
Karl, of course, didn't like it at all...
Instead of focusing on what a unique and amazing experience he's lucky enough to get to join in on, he focuses on his £70 trainers (sneakers) getting ruined. This immediately pisses me off, because people like this should just stay home. Stop traveling, because all you do is make it hard for the rest of us who love it.
All the complaining, disparaging comments, and idiocy would ordinarily turn me off in a big way. It's the reason I fucking hate the show The Amazing Race. But I find An Idiot Abroad to be absolutely fascinating. Karl Pilkington may be a crotchety Englishman who sums up his entire time in India by saying "I hated it"... but he's also decent, kind, and caring at heart. He so obviously doesn't mean to be offensive or irritating that it's hard to stay mad at him. There are several moments throughout the series where you catch glimpses of Karl trying his best to give it a go and embrace the culture, and it's what has me loving the show so much. In the afore-mentioned Holi celebration, people are pelting him with colors while he protests. But then you see a little girl who can't reach him, so he bends down and lets her dump color on his head...
I am guessing that there are a lot of moments like this but, since they aren't "funny," they get edited out of the show. Yet somehow they manage to keep just enough of Karl being a decent bloke to keep An Idiot Abroad from being a total disaster.
And then there's the sights...
I give both An Idiot Abroad and The Ricky Gervais Show my highest possible recommendation...
And so ends my week of vacation and the wonderful thing that was Bitchsterdam 3.
Posted on Thursday, April 19th, 2012
Airplane food is never going to raise any bars for stunning cuisine. Not to say that it can't be good... I've had some amazing meals in-flight... but that most of the time it's just there and something to eat when you're hungry, not something to be enjoyed.
My first meal yesterday was a nice rice dish with some kind of pea mash that I thought sounded great, so far as vegetarian options go. But the peas were inundated with so much mint that it was like chewing a stick of gum with all the wrong textures, so I didn't end up eating it. Instead I ate a small roll that was on the tray.
The second meal I got was a bag with a tiny sandwich and an apple in it. By this point I was pretty hungry, but the roll on my sandwich was sopping wet and disgusting, so all I got was a small apple.
After 8-1/2 hours with nothing but a piece of bread and a dwarf fruit in my stomach, I was hungry enough to eat just about anything. So when my third (and final) meal of a roasted vegetable sandwich was put in front of me, I tore into it. The bread was actually nice and crusty... but the vegetable mix in the middle tasted metallic and kind of funky. That should have been a red flag, but I ate it anyway because I was famished.
Then proceeded to be sick to my stomach almost immediately.
So instead of driving straight home over the mountains yesterday, I instead crashed at my sister's place so I could recover and drive directly to work this morning.
Where, despite having two (nearly) back-to-back vacations, it felt as if I never left.
If not for the photographs I took, it hardly seems as though I were gone at all.
Which means now I need a vacation.
Posted on Friday, April 20th, 2012
Today is usually the day that I post some kind of DaveToon showing solidarity with those students taking part in the National Day of Silence. It's a worthwhile demonstration (in its seventeenth year) which calls attention to those who would silence the effects of anti-LGBT bullying in schools.
But I'm just too saddened to stay silent this year.
Maybe it's because the epidemic of gay youth suicide hit very close to home earlier this year when a guy going to my high school alma mater killed himself as a result of bullying.
Maybe it's because I learned that friends of mine have a brilliant, funny, amazing child who is being so badly bullied at school that they're only option is to home-school him because they are starting to fear for his life.
But probably it's because I came back from vacation and one of the first news stories I read is how 14-year-old Kenneth Weishuhn Jr. comes out as gay, immediately became a target of unrelenting bullying, and is dead a month later by his own hand...
I look at this photo and my heart breaks at the thought of him waking up each morning trying to find the courage to get through just one more day. I look at this photo and try to fathom just how bad his life was that killing himself was the best solution he could think of to escape it. I look at this photo and wonder for the millionth time how somebody could be so cruel as to torture somebody over something that's not their fault, something they cannot change, and something that shouldn't matter. I look at this photo and die a little bit more inside because we live in a society where kids are killing themselves because they're different.
Was there nobody who would stand up for this poor kid?
If not for hearing this same story play out dozens of times before, it would be inconceivable.
New videos are being added to the It Gets Better Project all the time, and yet telling these kids over and over again that they're lives will be okay if they will "just hang in there" doesn't seem to be enough. In some cases, it doesn't matter how great things will be in the future, life is just too difficult for them to go on right now. And never was this made more clear than when looking at Kenneth's "When I Get Married" Pinterest page. He lived in Iowa where same-sex marriage was legal, had envisioned a bright future for himself where he would be married and happy, but didn't survive long enough to see it.
Which means that things need to BE better right now.
Kids need to know that they are accepted and valued right now.
Which is tough to get across when every time you turn around there's yet another attack on LGBT persons. Religious leaders screaming that being gay is an abomination... politicians saying that gays getting married will doom society... news pundits saying that gay soldiers will ruin our military... hate groups saying that if kids see gay people in public they'll turn gay... the dumbassery never seems to stop. It's all fucking bullshit, of course, but that's the kind of environment which is corrupting today's youth and turning them into bullying hate machines. It's horrifying how something so grotesque could ever become acceptable to society, but history is replete with examples of this kind of hatred going "mainstream." We just never seem to learn from it.
And yet... in small steps, things are moving in the right direction.
And more steps are being taken every day. Sadly, some of them are steps backwards, but ultimately we are inching ahead. Which means we're making progress. Which means things are getting to be better for school kids right now. But not nearly fast enough. Because Kenneth Weishuhn deserved to live to see the future he saw for himself, and any society which would deny him that doesn't deserve any future at all.
Rest in peace, Kenneth. And forgive me for not being able to stay silent on a day where silence is meant to improve things for people just like you... innocent kids who deserve far better by our hands.
Posted on Saturday, April 21st, 2012
I spent my morning unsuccessfully catching up on work. I was off to a good start, but then shooting pains started ripping through my left leg. At first I thought it might be a heart attack, but then I remembered that is shooting pains in your arm. Googling a self-diagnosis brings up all kinds of doom and gloom, which I've decided to ignore. Except the pain is still there and that has resulted in massive cramping. I'm guessing this is all because a pinched nerve from 10 hours on an airplane, but who knows? I suppose it's time to get a check-up with somebody other than Dr. Google.
In the meanwhile, I'm doped up on painkillers and Quinine, which makes working kinda difficult.
So I'm blogging instead.
Except I'm drowsy and can't seem to keep a thought in my head, so I'll just draw a DaveToon and be done with it...
There we go.
My dedication to my blog astounds even me sometimes.
Posted on Sunday, April 22nd, 2012
I'm droppin' bullets like Benjamins, yo, because Bullet Sunday starts... now.
• Bitchsterdam. An overdue thank you to The DutchBitch for an awesome Bitchsterdam 3 blogger event. I've been to the Netherlands many times, but she managed to find some fantastic touristy stuff that I've never seen before... including a visit to the amazing Keukenhof gardens. Easily worth a ten-hour flight. Here's hoping she can be convinced to have Bitchsterdam 4! If, for no other reason, than I can attempt to use words like "geesteswetenschappen" in a sentence again...
It apparently means "humanities"... OR DOES IT?!? You just don't know!
• Superiority. And speaking of DutchyLand... I fully accept that the United States of America is the greatest country in the world and all those other freedom-hating backwater countries don't matter and have nothing to contribute. I mean... I kind of have to don't I? The minute an American even implies that other countries are relevant to world affairs and have wonderful cultural contributions to be made, FOX "News" will brand them an American-hating traitor. And heaven forbid that you happen to be the president and have an appreciation for other countries' contribution to the planet. That's enough for FOX "News" to demand your impeachment!
Call me a traitor if you must, but creamy and delicious Dutch mayonnaise is so fucking superior to the gelatinous glop we call "mayonnaise" here in the U.S. that it's not even funny. This trip I checked a suitcase, which meant I was able to bring home a bunch of the stuff. So now I can fry up some fries for PATATJES MET at home...
PATATJES MET!!! Amazing. Whoever decides to market a superior Dutch mayo here is going to make millions. Millions!!
• WHAT?!? And speaking of fries... have you heard that browning potatoes creates a cancer-causing chemical called "acrylamide" that makes them deadly to eat? Can you believe this shit? Why is it that everything that tastes good ends up killing you? This is so not fair. PATATJES MET OR DEATH?!? I can't answer that.
• Earth! Ooh! It's Earth Day! That one day out of the year where people pretend to give a shit about our planet! Including me. Despite it being 82° out today, I rolled down my window instead of turning on the air conditioner in my car. That totally counts, right?
• Television. Kind of gutted that two of my favorite new shows, Awake and The Finder are not getting the ratings they need for renewal. Instead they'll be cancelled and replaced by a reality show or some other stupid-ass crap that doesn't require thought from the American viewing public. And who knows what's going to happen to Fringe, which had a game-changing episode on Friday. It's almost to the point where I'm afraid to get invested in good television anymore...
And, on that sad note, I've gotta go tempt death by having another plate of PATATJES MET!
Posted on Monday, April 23rd, 2012
I should have left the Dutch mayo back in the Netherlands. Because now I'm going to have to start a cocaine habit in order to break my Patatjes Met addiction. Cocaine I think I have a shot at shaking... but Dutch mayo? Not on your life. Dutch mayo is the new chocolate pudding, and I want to eat in on everything all of the time.
That can't be good.
Well, it is good, it just can't be healthy.
The weather has taken a decidedly warmer turn here, with temperatures reaching a ball-scorching 86° today. This is kind of depressing, because I don't remember getting a Spring. We went from cold days a couple weeks ago to hot days this week. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. Just freeze your ass off one day, then sweat your ass off the next.
In other news... DEATH TO PENNIES!!!
Despite all the objections, I am for a cashless society. I buy everything... everything... on my credit card to get airline miles anyway, so it wouldn't be a big deal to me. And while I don't see the USA getting rid of money any time soon, I think killing off the penny is something most people could get behind once they are informed of what a stupid waste they are.
Here in these United States of America, we seem to be addicted to stupid waste.
Posted on Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Today was one of those days that was lacking thrills. More than once I found myself wishing I had a package arriving. Because don't you just love it when you order something and receive a tracking notice saying that it's out for delivery? Isn't that just the greatest? The anticipation of knowing any minute the FedEx delivery guy is going to walk through the door carrying a parcel with your name on it? The item doesn't even have to be something major... I'd be excited even knowing that it was new socks on the way.
Just something to look forward to.
Instead I left work early to go to the eye doctor.
After removing my contact lenses for the exam, I saw THIS staring up at me...
It wasn't until I put my glasses on that I figured out what was going on there...
And that was the most thrilling thing that happened to me today.
Thank heavens for a dirty mind. Otherwise I would have had nuthin'.
Posted on Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
We were hit by a deluge this afternoon, with the rain falling so hard that leaves were being ripped from the trees. This made it really difficult to drive on the highway because the water was piling up faster than it could run off the road. Some cars started hydroplaning and losing control, so everybody slowed down to a more appropriate speed and everything was fine.
Until some dumbass came ripping down the highway at top speed, skidding through the water while weaving in and out of traffic. As he attempted to pass me, he slid so close to my car that I thought I would lose my side-mirror, but I managed to turn and brake quickly enough that I didn't get hit. That I nearly ended up in the ditch didn't mean anything to the asshole, and he sped off to even more dangerous encounters as horns were blaring around him.
The hospital was in the opposite direction, so I have no idea why he was in such a hurry, but I wouldn't be surprised if he eventually ended up killing somebody.
Oh, excuse me, murdering somebody.
Because driving like a psychopath in such bad weather conditions is an intentional bid to kill someone... there would be no "accident" here. And yet, even such a reckless regard for safety (including his own) didn't seem to register as he was skidding all over the road.
Which makes me think about the old "If you could go back in time and kill Hitler, would you do it?" question. No, this asshole driver probably isn't going to end up responsible for killing millions of people... but do the numbers really matter when murdering even one person is a tragedy? Everybody is important to somebody.
And so there I am behind the wheel watching in horror as some dumbass is skidding all over the place while other drivers try their best to avoid him. And it occurs to me that I don't have to go back in time to kill this asshole and save lives... I could follow him home and kill him right now!
Not that I would actually do it, of course. But what about the person that would? Like me, they come to the whole "kill Hitler" quandary and then, unlike me, decide to do society a favor and eliminate the bastard driver. What about them?
So drive safe everybody. It's not just an accident that can kill you.
And speaking of something that can kill you...
Pizza Hut in the Middle East has introduced "Crown Crust Carnival Pizza" where cheeseburgers or chicken nuggets are baked into the crust!
GENIUS! It almost makes me wish I wasn't a vegetarian. And I lived in Kuwait. And I had a deathwish.
It's only a matter of time before they start putting chocolate cake in the crust so you can have pizza and dessert at the same time. I can't tell you how happy I am to be alive during an era of such magical culinary innovation. But it's pretty happy.
Posted on Thursday, April 26th, 2012
Are you American? Have a computer? Congratulations! Your elected officials are working overtime to make sure you have no privacy and no rights... all in the name of your security! The House of Representatives just passed CISPA, affording the government horrendously invasive powers over its citizens. And it gets better... the bill that was passed ended up being far worse than originally thought.
The Obama administration has threatened to veto CISPA (apparently the Special Interest groups they suck up to don't have a problem with it)... but forgive me for failing to be shocked if this ends up getting turned into law anyway. In an election year, President Obama can be only be counted on for doing only one thing... doing whatever he has to do to get re-elected. If that means CISPA gets passed, I'm sure CISPA is going to get passed.
Look, I fully support tracking down cyber criminals, cyber terrorists, cyber pedophiles, and cyber stalkers. Criminals should be brought to justice, end of story. But not by completely trashing the privacy, security, and freedom of American citizens! CISPA gives the government a grotesque amount of power over its people. Power that's just begging to be abused. Because if history has taught us anything, it's that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely... no matter what the original intent. The fact that 248 politicians in the House of Representatives were either too fucking stupid to learn from history or too fucking evil to care speaks volumes about where we're at as a country. Forget about whether its Obama or Romney that's going to destroy America... THIS is where we start to fall, and it's a bipartisan effort!
Though what passes for "freedom" these days has me wondering if I should bother being this upset.
It's been tough for me to keep up with my online life this week as I've been dealing with crushing headaches, but Anissa (one of my favorite people on earth) mentioned a YouTube video where a guy with family ties to a Catholic high school was asked to speak at graduation... but got subsequently un-invited when they found out he's gay. In his video response, the guy mentions that he was "found out" because people at the school saw photos on his Facebook page.
And so I tracked down Dominic Sheahan-Stahl's page where I was expecting to see images of him having gay sex in the middle of an elementary school playground during recess. But instead I found this...
Oh yes. We just gotta protect society from that.
We simply cannot have two happy people in a relationship. What kind of example would that be for the children?
I tell you what... most days I find myself thinking that dying at age 50 would be just about perfect. I've done more in my life than most people ever will, so that should be enough for me, shouldn't it?
But then I hear about stupid bullshit like this and find myself hoping I live to be 100 years old so I can look back at this period in history and just laugh my ass off at how stupid and backwards society was. I mean, seriously, who gives a shit whether this guy finds his happiness in life with sausage or taco? The only people who should care are people interested in his sausage.
While everybody else should just be concerning themselves with is what's in his heart...
What a shame. Sounds like this is exactly the kind of person you want speaking to a graduating class.
Anybody who has ever said "FREEDOM ISN'T FREE!" is absolutely right. We paid for our freedoms dearly, and continue to pay for them every day. Which is why it's always shocking to me how people can be so quick to just piss them away. Whether it's by supporting a society where people are not allowed to speak because of what genitals are on the person they love... or by supporting a government that would steal their freedoms away in plain sight.
I just don't get it.
Which is why I'm no going to exercise my freedom to post this blog entry... while I still can.
Posted on Friday, April 27th, 2012
For years... decades, really... I've been collecting travel guides. Most of the time I would buy the old editions on sale when the new editions were released. The only thing that seemed to change were the hotel and restaurant listings, so it didn't make sense to pay full price for information I wasn't going to use. Because back then, actually getting to go to all these places was nothing more than a dream. I bought the books so I could pretend that I was planning a trip to exotic locations around the globe.
Then I stopped pretending and started actually going. Which is when my travel library came in handy.
But then the internet started taking over and I was referring to guidebooks less and less. And once the iPhone was unleashed, I had the entire internet in my pocket and stopped using physical travel guides altogether.
So why keep them?
Sentimental reasons, I guess. I look up at the bookshelf and it's a reminder of my travel dreams and all the places I want to go. But then this morning I actually started looking at them. Out of seventy-two books, only three of them were places I haven't yet been: Peru, India, and Cambodia...
There are plenty of other places I want to visit, but these are the three that are left staring down at me from the shelf. So I'm keeping them... for sentimental reasons, I guess... and throwing out the rest.
Hopefully one day I can visit Peru, India, and Cambodia so I can toss those books in the trash bin as well.
At which point I'll have to buy new books that I can aspire to throw out.
Posted on Saturday, April 28th, 2012
Years ago I was wandering around a residential neighborhood in Osaka, Japan looking for a restaurant that was recommended to me. Far away from places that tourists might frequent, the natives were shocked and dismayed at this tall foreigner in their midst. I had been to Japan often enough that the double-takes, stares, and whispers didn't bother me anymore, but the feeling of "not belonging" was always there.
As I tried my best to navigate Japan's bizarre address system and find the building I was looking for, I ran across a young boy standing outside a small group of people. Not wanting to alarm anybody, I smiled at him and picked up my pace a bit so I could pass by. But escape wasn't so easy. Mouth agape, the boy asked if I was a "gai-jin" ("foreign person") as I approached.
All conversation by the group of people stopped immediately as they turned and looked at us. A couple of them had faces frozen in horror, as if I were going to eat the kid or something.
"Yes," I replied. "But I'm a friendly monster, so it's okay."
Hearing a foreigner speaking Japanese is usually cause for confusion. But once that wore off, a few smiles and guffaws escaped the crowd. Then a 20-something man piped up in his wonderful Japanese directness and asked "Why are you here?"
"I am looking for a restaurant," I said, as I held out a slip of paper with the address written on it.
After a quick look, the man replied "It's there!" and pointed across the street, one block down.
I thanked him for his help, retrieved the address with a slight bow, then started to walk down the street... only to have the man walk alongside. Apparently he decided to accompany me to my destination and make sure I arrived safely. But that wasn't all. When I glanced behind me, I noticed that the entire group was following us. Albeit slowly... and at a distance.
It was a surprisingly uncomfortable situation but, fortunately, it didn't last long. A few minutes later we arrived, so I thanked the man again and said goodbye. Across the street, the group of people were waving at me, so I waved back with a quick bow and escaped into the restaurant.
After dinner I poked my head out to see if they had waited for me, but they were gone.
I guess even friendly monsters end up alone eventually.
Posted on Sunday, April 29th, 2012
Time to check your bandwidth, because a special All Video Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Punisher! President Obama once again killed it at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. I didn't think he could top his awesome performance last year, but he came really close. Except... was I the only one who kept seeing a skull shape when his shirt was eclipsed by the microphones? At first I thought that it was proof positive that he was, in fact, not a Secret Muslim... but instead a Secret Satan Worshipper! And then... then... it came to me. it's not Satan... it's The Punisher!
I may not always agree with his politics, but I really do like our president. He's a good guy doing a tough job the best way he knows how... all while under constant attack by people who have no respect for his office or our country. If you haven't seen his speech, it's pretty damn funny and well worth watching...
• Election! I don't think there's any question that Mitt Romney will most definitely not be getting my vote. What is in question is whether or not President Obama will get my vote. Right now, I honestly don't know. If he starts caving on things like CISPA and equality, I have no problem with a write-in vote like I've done before when both candidates suck. Otherwise, it's kind of his vote to lose. All that being said, I am kind of enjoying Obama's latest round of ads: "Mitt Romney vs. Reality" where he takes his old footage to address Romney's bullshit pandering. Genius. Romney comes off looking either uninformed or a liar, while Obama dings him without going negative...
It will be interesting to see where Romney's campaign goes now that he's running for president instead of candidacy. Because, I gotta say, his ads always seem more embarrassing than informative or compelling. The guy is so awkward and detached that his every appearance seems to be a reason why he shouldn't be president. He needs an ad team that can work this out... fast.
• Houdini! I stopped watching MTV a long time ago. They used to be all about music, but now all they give a crap about is stupid shit like Jersey Shore which I wouldn't watch if my life depended on it. The upshot being that I don't see many music videos anymore. Not that it's a big loss... most music videos suck ass these days. But I do follow Foster the People, and their latest video for my favorite song (Houdini) off their last album (Torches) is really good...
Creative, funny, well-executed, and fitting to the song. Doesn't get much better than that.
• Old! A year ago, somebody asked a question that has been burning up the internet this past week... "What are the Windows A: and B: drives used for?" Since I was around when computers went consumer mainstream, I remember all too well about things like modems, data cassettes, BBSs, and yes... floppy disks for your A: and/or B: drive. I also remember VHS tape, Pong, record players, and... heaven help me... rotary telephones...>
It's not that I feel particularly old over it all... the technological advances over the past 30 years have been astoundingly fast... it's what we're in for over the next 30 years. Just as the iPhone bears -zero- resemblance to the rotary phone, I'd imagine the "phone" of the future will be an even bigger departure from iPhone. It's at that point that I really start to feel my age. Oh well. I honestly think that the limitations that my generation had to put up with from technology made it more fun than the sheer magic we get from technology today, so there's that*.
• Ridley! When it comes to movies this year, I'd have thought it would be impossible to top my excitement for The Avengers, but Ridley Scott's offering, Prometheus, does exactly that. The new international trailer has me aching for a good science fiction movie...
June 8th can't get here fast enough.
And now I suppose it's time to put away YouTube so I can get some real work done.
*Oh who am I kidding? I would have killed to have had an iPhone back in the 80's, and everybody knows it.
Posted on Monday, April 30th, 2012
This is one of those times where every cent of my paycheck was already spoken for.
Which would usually be upsetting, but it's a direct result of spending a week goofing off in Europe after having just gotten back from two weeks vacation, so I'm perfectly okay with it.
Even so, you can imagine my excitement as I was rearranging books on my shelves only to have a 1000 Korean Won note fell to the floor. It had apparently been used as a bookmark. Or maybe I just stuck it between some books because it was pretty and I wanted to flatten it out for a souvenir...
However it got there, the only thing running through my mind now was... MONEY!
But how much? Maybe $20... probably more like $10... but wouldn't it be cool if it was $100? I had no idea, so I rushed to fire up a currency conversion app on my iPhone.
Only to discover that 1000 Won is 89¢ in US money. Which, coincidentally enough, is almost exactly the same as when I was last in Seoul back in September 2004. That's not as good as the $1.10 I would have gotten in November of 2007... but certainly not as bad as the 64¢ I would have got back in March of 2009.
In any event, whether it's $1.10 or 89¢ or 64¢, that doesn't do much for my cash on hand. Especially once exchange fees are paid.
Thank heavens for credit cards, because it's time to shop.
With the exception of grocery stores, it's getting to the point where I rarely shop at brick-n-mortar stores any more. Everything I need to buy is purchased off the internets. But I got a $10 coupon back when I paid for my eye exam at Shopko (where everything is always on sale!) and it's expiring today, so I decided to stop in and see if I could spend the $50 required to use my coupon. Sure I'm poor just now, but you gotta spend money to save money!
I ended up buying new bed sheets (on sale!) and a PUR water filtration pitcher (on sale!). This was just enough to get my $10 savings, so I was pretty happy.
Just for kicks, I checked pricing when I got home... only to find that even with the $10 coupon, I ended up paying $1.30 more than if I had bought online (and that includes shipping!). Add in money for gas and my time and I definitely lost-out on the deal.
Oh well. Live and learn.
But I'm pretty sure I learned that already.
Posted on Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
Was Diane Keaton frickin' high on "The Colbert Report" last night?
Because that had to be the single most awkward and embarrassing interviews I've ever seen. Despite numerous efforts by Colbert to get her to talk about her damn book, she just would not stop being a complete jackass. I don't know if she thought she was being funny with her bat-shit hostility or what... but holy crap...
The fact that Colbert managed to keep the interview going... and stay funny under the onslaught of Keaton's insanity... speaks volumes as to his talent...
I really don't know what I'll do once Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart decide to retire. It seems as though The Colbert Report and The Daily Show are the only "news" programs I can stomach now-a-days.
Posted on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
I've always liked The Hulk, because I think that he's a character everybody can relate to. Many-a-times while reading Incredible Hulk comics I thought about the rage monster inside of every one of us that's barely contained and ready to burst out at a moment's notice.
Then I have to wonder what it would take to push me over the edge and unleash the beast.
Watching FOX "News" and their near-continuous stream of exaggerations, half-truths, and outright lies to push their agenda would come close. Not so much because they do it... they're hardly unique amongst news organizations for that... it's more because they claim to be "fair and balanced" when clearly they're full of shit...
I mean, WTF?!?
Hulk not mad. Hulk confused...
A fucking COMEDY CHANNEL is having to fact-check one of the most popular news organizations on the planet?
Something has gone very, very wrong. And that makes Hulk angry...
And you won't like Hulk when he's angry.
UNLESS... you are watching The Avengers movie, which opens nation-wide on Friday! I mean, seriously, with the exception of a few douchebags writing negative reviews so they can get some attention, everybody is LOVING this film!
If only DC Comics could get their shit together. Because, with the exception of an awesome-looking finale to the Batman trilogy with the upcoming Dark Knight Rises, they got nuthin'. To think that they could have built on the success of Batman and unleashed amazing Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Flash films... culminating in a frickin' JUSTICE LEAGUE movie... well, it's almost heartbreaking. Green Lantern was lame, and what little I've seen of Man of Steel is looking awful.
Oh well. Between Marvel Comics movies and FOX "News" I guess we've got enough popular fiction to keep us occupied for a while.
Posted on Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
Remember back in 1999 when religious leader Jerry Falwell declared that the purple member of The Teletubbies was a homosexual role model for children because he was carrying that red handbag everywhere? Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but he was totally serious about it.
Since that time, other religious leaders and groups have been in an uproar over things they consider to be bad role models for children... and, more often than not, it's because they are gay (e.g. Chris Coffer on Glee) or assumed to be gay (e.g. Tinky Winky and SpongeBob SquarePants)...
Whatever the case, these morons honestly believe that even the mere sight of something they perceive to be gay will causes kids to embrace homosexuality.
And what can parents do when their child has been infected by The Gayness? According to Pastor Sean Harris of the Barean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, N.C., you beat the gay out of them, of course!
"So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is four years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, 'Man up, son, get that dress off you and get outside and dig a ditch, because that is what boys do,' you get out the camera and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female and then you upload it to YouTube and everybody laughs about it and the next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed."
"Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch, okay? You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male. And when your daughter starts acting too butch you reign her in. And you say, 'Oh no, sweetheart. You can play sports... play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl and that means you are going to be beautiful. You are going to be attractive. You are going to dress yourself up.'"
Who is this sadistic moron?
And we wonder why gay youth are committing suicide in record numbers.
I'm straight, but heaven only knows I'm not the most masculine guy in the world. I most certainly wasn't the most masculine kid in school. And because of that, I should have been abused and beaten just to be sure any non-masculine behavior wasn't a sign that I might be "turning gay?"
When the furor over Pastor Sean's remarks hit earlier this week, I started writing a long rant about how we're quickly becoming a society that is hostile... sometimes fatal... to children who are even a little different than what is considered "normal." But as I was re-reading it, I decided that it would do more harm than good, and tossed it.
Then today I read where Pastor Sean is retracting his statements of persecution and violence, but not really. He still feels totally justified in telling people to beat their kids based on scripture that he obviously doesn't understand.
And now I'm wishing I hadn't tossed out my rant, because I concluded it by calling Pastor Sean "a fucking asshole that should be arrested for child endangerment who then gets the shit beaten out of him in prison so he can fully understand the violence he is advocating."
Some would say that such a wish for violence against Pastor Sean makes me no better than the asshole himself. They would be right.
But then I think back to the child I was. The child who wasn't good at sports, who didn't like hiking or fishing, who wasn't popular with girls, who loved art and music, who wasn't like most of the boys... and I say "fuck it." He would have advocated my getting beaten, so it's only right that he be on the receiving end of the same sentiment. Eye for an eye and all that.
And since I'm pretty sure I read that in The Bible somewhere, it's totally justified, right?
Posted on Friday, May 4th, 2012
HOLY CRAP WHAT A FRICKIN' AWESOME MOVIE!!
I don't want to spoil it for anybody, so I'm not going to give away anything. Except to say that The Avengers is a comic book lover's dream that even people who don't care for comic books will enjoy.
Which is not to say it's perfect. There are definitely some moments where it dragged a bit. But, unlike the crappy trio of original X-Men films which wimped out in every way possible, The Avengers attempted to show the brutal reality of what it would be like when a super-hero team come to life. And it totally worked...
Writer/Director Joss Whedon just eclipsed every other comic book super-hero film ever made. And I loved, loved, loved it.
With one small exception.
Which I can't talk about without RUINING THE FILM FOR ANYBODY WHO HASN'T SEEN IT.
So absolutely DO NOT read the extended entry until you've seen the movie. Seriously, you just can't go any further if you haven't seen the film. Even if that's going to be on DVD two years from now. Which it shouldn't be, because this movie is screaming to be seen on the big screen.
But before we get to that, time to update my whole "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard as follows...
The Avengers... A+
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Fantastic Four... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Ghost Rider... C
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A
Jonah Hex... F
Punisher War Zone... C
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Superman Returns... C+
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: First Class... B
→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Saturday, May 5th, 2012
Happy Cinco de Mayo! Happy Super-Moon!
Today when I dropped by YouTube, I got a notification that I had Google Videos that can automatically be transferred over. I think they had mentioned sometime last year that they were shutting down their video services, so the end must be nigh.
I didn't even remember using Google Video, so I clicked through to find that I had just one... my very first vlog entry! Apparently I gave a quiz, and the video was my way of providing the answers. But it's me we're talking about, so I had to take time to be a total nut-job first...
Interestingly enough, my original entry for it had a full transcript, which I don't even remember writing.
Anyway, you might want to check and see if you have any wayward videos hanging around Google before they cut off access completely.
Posted on Sunday, May 6th, 2012
Put down that margarita, because Cinco de Mayo is over and Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Wonder! Now that Joss Whedon's The Avengers has broken box office records and made $600 MILLION DOLLARS in only twelve days of release (with only three of those days here in the USA), my mind wanders to another project he was attached to a while back... Wonder Woman. Except Warner Bros. screwed him out of the film, which he very much wanted to make. Now, I'm not so deluded to believe that a Whedon Wonder Woman film would do The Avengers box office... far from it. But I do think that Joss could have made it successful if he had just been given a chance...
Wonder Woman perfectly rendered by the incomparable George Pérez
Whedon has a history of writing amazing female characters (Buffy, anyone?) and his take on Black Window in The Avengers was flawless, so one can only fantasize what he would have done with the most popular female comic book super-hero ever.
If every person at Warner Bros. responsible for fucking up Whedon's Wonder Woman film hasn't gotten their ass kicked and been fired, it needs to happen. Stupid shit like this is the reason that DC Comics' only success with movie adaptations in recent years has been Batman.
• Repeat! Speaking of The Avengers, am I the only one who saw it and now all they can think about is seeing it again?
The movie was just so... big... that I know it's going to take at least a dozen viewings before I manage to process everything that happened.
• Beastly! Sadly, Adam "MCA" Yauch died on Friday at the much-too-young-age of 47. Like everybody else from my generation, The Beastie Boys were a pretty big musical force in my life. And, apparently, other musicians feel the same, because the tributes are already rolling in. Like this one form Chris Martin and Coldplay at a recent concert...
This rendition of the Beastie Boys' most famous song is completely contrary to the brash "in your face" intent of the original song, but it's so beautifully crafted and heartfelt that it still works. Rest in peace, MCA.
• Comedy! I didn't necessarily agree with all the winners at the Second Annual Comedy Central Comedy Awards... but what a frickin' hilarious show. If you missed it, keep a look out. Comedy Central usually reruns their crap fifty times a week, so it should be popping up soon.
• Let Us! Why is it whenever I buy a bag of shredded lettuce for tacos and hamburgers that the shit goes bad just one day after opening? Oh... hold a second... the answer is staring me right in the face...
So now I'm conflicted. On one hand, I appreciate that my lettuce doesn't have any chemicals on it to make me sick or give it a funky taste. But on the other hand... I'M SICK AND TIRED OF THROWING MONEY IN THE GARBAGE EVERY TIME I BUY A BAG OF LETTUCE! I'd be happy if I could get a bag of salad that would last a full week. Hell, I'd be fucking thrilled to have a bag that last three days. But it doesn't exist, so one of two things needs to happen...
And now... back to my post-Cinco-de-Mayo reality.
Posted on Monday, May 7th, 2012
For years now I've been buying ridiculously expensive bedsheets under the impression that they were better to sleep on. Egyptian cotton. 1200 thread count. Sateen finish. Etc. Etc.
But last week as I was sweating my balls off during a surprise heatwave, I had an epiphany. Say! These fancy sheets aren't really more comfortable! For one thing, the high thread count and sateen finish seems to trap the heat, making me sweat, which then also becomes trapped. Blech.
Then I remembered back to the sheets I had as a kid. Back then, I didn't give a crap about thread count and finish... the only thing I cared about was what was printed on them. I had Snoopy sheets. Star Wars sheets. Lots of different sheets. They were cheap, shitty, and I slept like a rock...
So when it came time to spend my Shopko gift certificate, I went looking for the crappiest sheets I could fine. They're like... 15 thread count... or whatever. And the finish is rough... almost sandpaper rough. I don't know where the cotton comes from, but it's probably not Egypt. It's probably from like... Trenton, New Jersey or something. Overall, it's like sleeping on steel wool. But they breathe more and feel a bit cooler, which is probably the most important factor for me.
And maybe after a hundred more washings they might just get softer.
Posted on Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
Where the Wild Things Are.
Who read that wonderful book and didn't want to be Max, King of All Wild Things? I'm guessing nobody.
Which is why I was very saddened to learn that creator Maurice Sendak had died today...
“Oh, please don't go—we'll eat you up—we love you so!”
Remarkably, Mr. Sendak was more than just an enourmously talented author and illustrator... the guy was funny as hell. And, lucky for us, his last interview was with Stephen Colbert. If you haven't seen it, this is something well worth your time...
And part two...
Rest in peace, Mr. Sendak. Your works will be inspiring kids of all ages for generations to come.
Posted on Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
"I don't hate gay people, I'm just supporting the sanctity of marriage."
And while I don't think I will ever understand how two people with the same genitals getting married affects anybody else's marriage, I admit to being a bit puzzled that President Obama picks now to come out of the equality closet. While I'd like to think that he's doing it because it's the Right Thing, I harbor no illusions that it's politically motivated in one way or another.
Still... it's a start. And it is the Right Thing.
This video that's been burning up the internet explains why...
And here's where the whole tired excuse of "I don't hate gay people, I'm just supporting the sanctity of marriage" completely falls apart.
Regardless of a person's beliefs (religious or otherwise), the only "attack" on "traditional marriage" that cannot be denied or argued is divorce. Using same-sex marriage as a scapegoat for any matrimonial failures is just an excuse to discriminate.
And a poor one at that.
Posted on Thursday, May 10th, 2012
My neighbor seems to spend most of his free time detailing his car. Every time I see him he's washing it... waxing it... buffing it... touching it up... polishing it... or otherwise taking care of it. And it's not like it's a vintage Corvette or anything. It's just a Ford Explorer. But he takes real pride in making sure it's kept in the best shape possible. Even if he doesn't drive it very much.
And then there's my car.
I would just as soon set the piece of shit on fire than wash it.
In fact, I have no idea when the last time I washed it even was. It's been years, I'm sure. The only time it ever gets clean is when it rains. Or it snows and the snow melts. All other times it's dusty and dirty and looks like it's been abandoned. Which it pretty much has.
Oh sure... I think about driving through the car wash every once in a while. Usually after just having seen my neighbor working on his rig. But the thought is fleeting and I've forgotten all about it the minute I turn out of the driveway. What's the point, after all? It's just going to get dirty again.
When it comes down to it, I don't care about my car. I never have. So long as it gets me from place to place, I don't care what it looks like or how it runs or what people think about it. If I believed that material possessions defined me in any way, this would be a major point of embarrassment. But, well, ya know... attachment leads to suffering and all that.
And then I saw a review of the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet cross my feed reader today...
Gorgeous photo by Porsche, taken from Motor Trend
Some possessions possess you. I know this one would certainly possess me.
Which is why I'm glad I don't have $108,950 burning a hole in my pocket. There are so many more things I'd rather do with my time than to rub my Porsche with a diaper every waking hour of every day that I wasn't driving it.
Unless, you know, somebody wanted to give me one.
I can buy my own diaper.
Posted on Friday, May 11th, 2012
There's a family of quail that live along the road where I turn into my place. So every time I round the corner onto that road, I slow way down. You never know if the quail will be wandering around, and I don't want to squish one. In my heart I know it's probably going to happen one day, I just don't want to be the one responsible.
Today when I turned, there were three of them bobbing along the side of the road. As usual, they got all panicky with a giant car heading towards them and started dashing around. One got really lost and turned in front of me, so I stopped and waited for him to find his way back.
Which is when a car rounded the corner behind me and screeched to a halt.
I couldn't see the little quail yet, so I didn't budge.
It couldn't have been more than 10 seconds, but the car behind me hit the gas and swerved around me, horn blaring.
This caused the little quail to run back to the bushes on the side of the road, so I continued on.
And then spent the next half-hour trying to figure out how one would go about convincing quail to relocate to a new, less dangerous, home.
My life would be so much easier if I didn't mind grinding a few quail into the pavement from time to time.
Posted on Saturday, May 12th, 2012
Ever feel like you've been singled out for a special destiny?
Like you've been marked for a fate that you just can't escape?
And not in a good way?
Yeah. Me too. I knew I should have never subscribed to InStyle Magazine. But 12 issues was just a dollar, yo, so what choice did I have?
Posted on Sunday, May 13th, 2012
Happy Mother's Day! And word to your mother, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Bank! The Avengers just blew past ONE BILLION DOLLARS at the worldwide box office. Not bad for a movie built for comic book geeks. The only way things could get much better would be if Marvel could get some cooperation between the various movie studios that have the rights to their characters. It can only benefit everybody involved. A cameo appearance by Spider-Man in an Avengers flick would only raise interest in Spider-Man's movie, for example...
But the meeting I most want? X-Men vs. Avengers. Not the cheesy, shitty X-Men from the crappy original trilogy... but the real X-Men we saw in the X-Men: First Class movie. Because the current Avengers vs. X-Men comic book is killing it, and that would make for one incredible flick. But nobody ever accused movie studios of being very smart, so it's probably never going to happen. Such a shame.
• CS6! And so Adobe Creative Suite 6 was unleashed this week. So far... I'm kind of digging it. As somebody who shoots a lot of wide-angle photos, the new "Adaptive Wide Angle" correction filter in Photoshop is worth the upgrade alone. Illustrator gets variable-width strokes and some really nice gradient tools. InDesign gets some really cool layout tools. And everything seems to be a bit snappier thanks to their new "Mercury" graphics engine. I also like the "pro" interface overhaul (even though it doesn't utilize the "full-screen" feature of OS X, which is just stoopid). Overall, a pretty decent upgrade.
Except for the cost. I bypassed Adobe's insulting and absurd CS5.5, so all my pricing is for upgrading "CS5 Design Premium." Except there is no "Design Premium" any more, so I have to get "Design & Web Premium" to get everything I previously had. Price? $749. Bullshit. In 2010 it was only $599. So I guess I skip "Premium" and get "Design Standard" for $549. It only has Photoshop (NOT Extended), Illustrator, InDesign, and Acrobat... which is lame bullshit.
The high prices are meant to push people to join Adobe's "Creative Cloud" offering, which gets you everything they make for $50 a month. This would be a bargain if I actually used everything they make. As a previous customer I get a year at $30 a month (introductory price), which is still too pricey for what I end up using, but it will give me time to figure out what I'll eventually end up buying. Hopefully Adobe will realize that people don't want to pay for what they don't use and offer an option without the video production tools at a more reasonable cost. As it is, "Creative Cloud" is more a rip-off than anything else.
• Iconic! I've written before about the carousel of progress that's been the evolution of Adobe Creative Suite icons. It went from an inexplicable WTF? in CS2... to a nice white on tone in CS3... to a very classy black on tone in CS4... to a pleasing tone-on-tone in CS5. And now in CS6? I don't even have an opinion...
Except to say that they feel clunky, amateurish, and look like shit in my Dock...
Not even color coordinated? Really? Pathetic. And the document icons are even worse. I'd be embarrassed for Adobe, but it's not like they'd give a crap. They're the only game in town now and they know it.
• DVR! Back when I had satellite television, I had a TiVo DVR. It was heaven. The best possible way to watch television. But I had to give up satellite for cable because my location wouldn't let me get HD channels by satellite. Unfortunately, Charter Cable doesn't have TiVo. I was stuck with a HEINOUS PIECE OF SHIT called a "Moxi" DVR. It was a poorly-designed, constantly-over-heating, featureless, stuttering pile of FAIL! It had to be replaced twice. Then the third one died this past week. So Charter gave me a generic Motorola DVR that's a heck of a lot better than MOXI, but still a featureless piece of shit (you can't even hide channels you don't get!).
Which begs the question... Why is TiVo the only company who can make a DVR that's worth a damn?
Charter Cable has been promising TiVo to their customers for ages. It was supposed to arrive next month. Now the rollout has been delayed. Who the hell knows if it will ever be released. What I do know is that I am sick and tired of the sub-standard DVR bullshit they keep shoving down my throat. Maybe it's time to ditch cable altogether and buy all the stuff I want to watch with AppleTV?
• Hooray! From the television up-fronts we now know that Person of Interest, Revenge, Castle, Suburgatory, Happy Endings, Scandal, Raising Hope, and Grim have all been renewed for another season. In somewhat good news, Community, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, and Fringe got partial final season orders for them to finish up their shows. While better than a flat-out cancellation, this still sucks pretty hard. Community is essential television viewing.
• Crap! The Finder and Awake... two of my favorite shows were canceled. Awake I kinda get. The show was a bit esoteric and didn't have a huge amount of mainstream appeal with the whole "two worlds" concept. People aren't that smart. But The Finder?!? Such a frickin' amazing and entertaining show. I simply do not understand how it failed to build a huge audience. To add insult to injury, they ended the season with a massive multi-character cliffhanger. I can only hope that Hart Hanson will use a couple episodes of his other show, Bones, to wrap things up. Damn. Fucked by FOX again.
And now? I should probably back-up my laptop now that I've added a bunch of crap. That's a good Sunday project.
Posted on Monday, May 14th, 2012
If it weren't for the one good thing that happened today, I'd be a complete wreck.
Because there's only so long you can beat your head against the wall and scream in frustration over all the bullshit that piles up over the course of a day. In other words... it's a Monday.
And that's the Big Picture, isn't it?
Nothing happens over the weekend, so everything that could possibly go wrong will come to a head on Monday. Perhaps the problem might have been spotted last Friday, but nobody wants to think about anything on Fridays except the upcoming weekend, so Fridays might as well not exist. Which brings us back to Monday. Again.
And Mondays always get me thinking about those awful Garfield cartoons that I loved at first... but eventually grew to loathe because they got so repetitive, lazy, and boring. Garfield the cat has thousands of reasons to hate Mondays, and the people writing and drawing Garfield for Jim Davis have reiterated this a billion times in a zillion different ways...
And every damn time they came up with yet another stupid-ass "Garfield Hates Mondays" joke I wanted to scream at the newspaper "YOU'RE A FUCKING CAT, BITCH! HOW IN THE HELL IS MONDAY DIFFERENT FROM EVERY OTHER DAY OF THE WEEK THAT YOU DO NOTHING BUT EAT, SLEEP, AND SHIT ALL DAY LONG?!?"
Which, I suppose, is the genius of Garfield, because releasing that kind of frustration is exactly what comic strips are supposed to do.
Irony can be so ironic sometimes.
Posted on Tuesday, May 15th, 2012
I overheard something yesterday that made my head explode.
After I calmed down I thought "Well, at least I have something to blog about tomorrow!" and moved on. Except writing about the situation has proven impossible, so now I don't know what I'll do. Probably sleep on it for a while and see how I feel next week. Perhaps time will provide the proper perspective I need to express my thoughts without going into a profanity-laden meltdown.
Right now it's difficult to think clearly.
So I guess I'll just wish everybody a Happy Hummus Day and move on...
And, speaking of hummus, did you know that Shiny and Faiqa have started up with NEW episodes of Hey That's My Hummus? Totally worth your time to take a listen.
Posted on Wednesday, May 16th, 2012
Ooh! You can WIN FREE STUFF in this entry! Read on, fair reader...
Since starting this blog, I've refused at least a hundred offers to review crap, promote crap, or sell crap. So when a guy from Moo Printing emailed me with an offer of free business cards,. I was going to say no. But then he also offered to let me GIVE AWAY free business cards if I'd review my Moo experience. So I said "okay!" because I love my readers more than I love not lying.
And because I had a good experience with Moo in the past for my clothing tags, I figured there was a good chance I wouldn't have to say anything nasty in my review. That would be really awkward.
So I'll skip to the good part first. I LOVE MY NEW BLOGGER CARDS!
Moo makes it ridiculously easy to create great-looking cards, stickers, postcards, and other cool stuff.
Once you've selected what you want to print, all you have to do is decide what you want for a design. I created new DaveToons to upload, but you can easily import images or graphics from Flickr, Picassa, SmugMug, Facebook, and even Etsy...
And here's the thing that makes Moo so frickin' awesome... you can have a separate design for the front of EACH individual piece! Ordering 100 business cards? All 100 can have a different photo on them! If you use less images than the number of pieces you're ordering, Moo will attempt to evenly divide the cards between the designs.
What's cool about this is that I was able to make cards for both my blogs in the same box to save money over ordering two different cards separately. I made Bad Monkey cards in four different colors for Blogography, then made Lil' Dave card for DaveCafe (which I uploaded twice so I would have extra...
Then you turn the card over to design the back. You can select colors, type what you want, then have Moo do the rest... or you can design something from scratch like I did...
And that's all there is to it, really. The whole process is dead-simple, and Moo lets you see what your finished cards are going to look like before you place your order. Once you're happy with things, all you have to do is checkout and wait.
When my cards finally arrived, I prepared myself for disappointment. Because the colors never seem to turn out like what you wanted... especially with the crazy, unprintable bright colors I used. But, surprise surprise, the printing was pretty darn good. The shading on Lil' Dave's face usually comes out all banded when printed, but the Moo printing had gradients that were smooth as butter. My "impossible to print" colors turned out much brighter than I was expecting (though not quite as bright as this photo from my iPhone shows)...
What really great is the paper stock Moo uses. The "Classic" paper I selected is a really nice 16pt thick stock with a satin finish that's soft to the touch. They also have a "Green" (as in eco-friendly, not color) stock that runs a bit higher. They "feel" good in the hand, and are sure to make an impression when you hand them out.
As shown in the first photo, Moo packs your cards in a classy but sturdy black box. It has tabbed dividers for "MINE" and "THEIRS" so you can even use it as a case if you want.
About the only complaint I had was that the cards were not centered in the cutting die very well when they were punched out. They're a couple millimeters offset. This doesn't seem like a big deal but, on something as small as a business card, you definitely notice it. I would think that Moo would be a little more careful given their high-quality standards, but there you have it...
Does it "ruin" the card? Not really. I stayed within the "safety margin" I was given, so nothing got cut off. Most people probably won't even notice. But to an anal-retentive designer like myself, it's kind of a bummer. And yet... they're still the best business cards I've ever had.
Moo has generously offered to let me give away a box of 100 "Classic" business cards (a $39.98 value) plus free domestic shipping (a $7.75 value). If you want extras like "Green" paper... or the nifty rounded corners I have on my cards... or rush shipping... or international delivery... or whatever... you'll have to pay the difference yourself.
To enter in the drawing, just leave a comment telling me your favorite sandwich. I'll draw a name at random from all the commenters in one week on May 23rd (so get your comment posted by May 22nd!). Be sure to leave a valid email address so I can contact you if you win (it won't be shown). GOOD LUCK! And thanks to Moo for not only my beautiful business cards, but for thinking of my readers too!
Wanna Moo too? Here's a direct link to their business cards page!
Posted on Thursday, May 17th, 2012
Okay... Okay... Okay... THREE EPISODES of Community tonight?!?
The first of the three was my favorite episode to date, which is really saying something considering the slew of frickin' amazing episodes that came previously. Not only did they faithfully represent the Age of 8-Bit Video Games perfectly, the characterization of each cast member in pixels was flawless...
The fact that the show is only getting a paltry 13 episode order next season is a travesty. But I suppose they have to make room for what ever shitty reality television crap they've bought to stink up the airwaves come Fall. I know that television is a business, and ratings and ad revenue are the only factors that really matter... but come on. Given the quality, critical acclaim, and rabid fan base of the show, NBC owes it to humanity to at least get Community up to 65 episodes so it can be syndicated.
But the network seems intent on killing it off.
And speaking of premature deaths...
This morning I got an email from somebody who stumbled across my blog from a Google search and wanted to thank me for writing about whatever it was they were looking for. It was a really nice note, and it's good to know that this blog has useful content squeezed in-between all the stupid crap I usually write about.
The interesting bit came at the end of the email when they said "I hope you've made arrangements to keep you blog around after you're dead because it would be a shame for it to disappear."
To which I replied "Nope. My guess is that Blogography will die shortly after I do, but thanks for the kind words!"
Then I got to thinking about how I really should be more distraught that nine years of my life will soon evaporate if I get hit by a bus tomorrow. But I'm not. Not really. I've toyed with the idea of deleting my blog a half-dozen times in the past, so why should I care if it happens after I'm dead? I suppose it's a little depressing to think that a domain scalper will undoubtedly come along and grab "blogography.com" so they can use it to link to a bunch of websites selling "generic viagra" or something. But that's life... and death... on the internet for you.
Eventually I'll be gone and forgotten just like 99.9% of everybody else on earth, and that's probably how it should be.
Unless somebody wants to finance that monument to my greatness I so totally deserve...
Posted on Friday, May 18th, 2012
I've become a little obsessive-compulsive trying to pinpoint that exact moment where things started to go horribly wrong. You'd think that having a blog would make this easy but, since I never write about the more personal aspects of my life, it really doesn't. The blog entries are a terrific walk down memory lane, yet woefully incomplete. Superficial ramblings rarely provide any clues as to what was going on below the surface, and that's where the answer lies.
But then I spotted a picture of myself when I was in Portland on August 29th, 2008.
This triggered something in my head, but the image was too small to figure it out. So I spent a little time going through backup archives and tracked down the original photo.
Sure enough, after looking into my own eyes, I was able to put the pieces together and figure out exactly where the turning point was...
It was three days before this picture was taken. Even if I didn't realize it at the time.
Time to let go of the past and move on.
Posted on Saturday, May 19th, 2012
I've been craving Oreo cookies all day long.
Which is tough when you don't have any Oreos in the house. I had hoped the craving would go away, but it never did. So at 9:00pm I drove to the grocery store for a bag of cookies. When I got there the place was pretty much empty. This made shopping so nice that I ended up spending $50 on food I didn't even need*. Good thing I have room in my freezer.
I ended up eating a half-bag of Oreos, so this is me now...
At least my cookie craving is gone.
*A pity I didn't bring my shopping list so I could have bought the food I actually do need.
Posted on Sunday, May 20th, 2012
Put down those eclipse specs, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Goodbye. I was sad to learn that Robin Gibb passed away. Make fun of me all you want, but I always thought The BeeGees were musical geniuses. So many of their unique songs couldn't have been made by anybody else, and it's a testament to this talent that they were so successful for so long. And as if the idea of not getting any more BeeGees music wasn't bad enough, I'm betting we won't be seeing any more Barry Gibb Talk Show skits on Saturday Night Live either...
Rest in peace, Mr. Gibb, and thanks for the music.
• SNL. Surprisingly, Mick Jagger made for a funny guest-host on the season finale of Saturday Night Live. The episode itself was a farewell to Kristen Wiig and her seven seasons with the show. I had read somewhere that Andy Samberg and Jason Sudeikis were also leaving, but you'd never know it, because it wasn't even hinted at. What's most disappointing is that we didn't get a final "Two A-Holes..." sketch with Wiig and Sudeikis, which I was absolutely expecting. As close as we got was them dancing together while everybody sang their goodbyes...
Oh well. I suppose it could happen upon Kristen Wiig's inevitable return hosting engagement. Until then, I guess there's always Hulu clips...
• TED. Despite being almost painfully obvious, I've never heard this argument presented in such a compelling way...
Apparently there was some controversy over this clip. TED originally thought it too partisan to unleash upon an unsuspecting world... or something like that... but I'm not seeing it. Furthermore, how can you hope to solve a problem without approaching it from every conceivable angle? Even if Hanauer's belief is entirely wrong, discussing it may lead to worthwhile conversation. When you're desperate, nothing should be off the table, and I hope to see more of this kind of talk from all sides in the future.
• Avengers. I had purchased The Art of Marvel's Thor after seeing the movie. Production design on the Asgard sets and costumes were really well done, and I wanted to see how they were developed. The book was pretty amazing, which made me regret that I hadn't purchased the two Iron Man books. They were out of print and cost a fortune on the secondary market, so I gave up on getting them. Fast forward to the The Avengers, which was production design on an entirely new level, and I simply had to own The Art of Marvel's The Avengers. It did not disappoint. The book is a stunning chronicle of bringing the comic book to the big screen. Then I discovered something very cool... Marvel had assembled books for the previous four Avengers movies (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America, and Thor) in a boxed set... The Art of Marvel Studios. SCORE! All the books are fantastic...
If you wanna take a look inside, JamesTalkALot has a video on YouTube for the Art of Marvel Studios set. He also has a separate video for The Art of Marvel's The Avengers. If you have even a passing interest in these movies, all the books are highly recommended.
Annnnnd... I'm spent. Did I black out some time this weekend? Because it doesn't really feel like I got a weekend at all. Such a bummer. I should probably get my crap together so I can go to work in the morning. If there's any justice, I'll black out again through the entire work week so I can have a real weekend.
Posted on Monday, May 21st, 2012
Posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012
Because I like learning new and interesting things, one of my favorite blogs in my feed reader is Today I Found Out. Every day they've got something cool or weird to share, but today's entry is beyond bizarre because it's packed with fascinating facts about... ants. These are some freaky-ass critters, yo, so prepare to get your mind blown and click on over.
And speaking of interesting facts... here's just another example of why scum-sucking record labels need to die a violent death. Thanks to Wikipedia I found out that the Beatles missed their chance to be immortalized on the two Voyager spacecraft...
Astronomer and science popularizer Carl Sagan had wanted Here Comes the Sun to be included on the Voyager Golden Record, copies of which were attached to both spacecraft of the Voyager program to provide any entity that recovered them a representative sample of human civilization. Although The Beatles favoured the idea, EMI refused to release the rights and when the probes were launched in 1977 the song was not included.
I can't help but think that V'ger wouldn't have been such a bastard in that Star Trek movie if he had Here Comes the Sun in his programming...
But, alas, V'Ger could not merge with The Creator of Here Comes the Sun because EMI didn't want to give up their song rights... IN FUCKING OUTER SPACE!
The stupid. It burns.
Posted on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
But don't despair if you didn't win... you can still get 10% off your first order at Moo by following this link!
I apologize for not posting this earlier, but technical difficulties got in the way when I tried to upload a video of me drawing the winner's name like I usually do (format error?!?). Rather than wasting another day trying to figure it out, I just snapped some screen captures from the movie...
Thanks to everybody who entered!
Well that was fun! Kind of gets me psyched for my TEN YEAR BLOGIVERSARY CELEBRATION next April... it'll be crazy-delicious!
Posted on Thursday, May 24th, 2012
"Astigmatism is an optical defect in which vision is blurred due to the inability of the optics of the eye to focus a point object into a sharp focused image on the retina. This may be due to an irregular or toric curvature of the cornea or lens."
I know that 40 is just a number but, when it comes to how old you are, it's a pretty important number. Because that's the age most people notice things starting to go wrong. I've been luckier than most... except when it comes to eyesight. My eyes went very bad very quickly in my teens and then just kind of stuck there. My prescription has been the same for decades.
And then I hit 40 and astigmatism struck.
Well, not really... it had been happening for years... but it was 40 when it started to be a problem. Things were blurry and I couldn't focus well. Straight lines weren't quite straight. And it was all because my cornea was no longer shaped to focus properly, instead scattering the light on my retina...
And so it was finally time to do something about it.
Long story short? I'm wearing glasses more often than contact lenses now. In addition, through trial-and-error I've found a contact lens I like for those times I don't want to wear glasses. If you're dealing with astigmatism and care about the details, I've put my notes in an extended entry.
Otherwise... try to avoid turning 40, if you can manage it.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Friday, May 25th, 2012
Gotta have priorities, yo.
Posted on Saturday, May 26th, 2012
Sometimes I regret that I'm a "daily blogger."
The reason I write daily is because I know my blog would die a long, slow death if I started skipping days. First I'd skip once or twice a month... then skip once or twice a week... and then, before I even realize it, I'm struggling to write two entries a month. At which point Blogography is dead. I've seen it happen with other blogs many times before. And so I continue to post something every single day, even if I don't have anything to write about or I'm going through something that can't be blogged.
I got nuthin'...
Fortunately, I can totally blog about nuthin'. You're welcome!
Posted on Sunday, May 27th, 2012
Put down that barbecue fork, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Fresh. Three Bullet Sundays ago I was lamenting how crappy it is that the bagged lettuce I buy goes bad after just one day. Abigail then left a comment telling me about the "Salad in a Jar Method" of keeping salad fresh (using a hand-food-vacuum). It looked like a good plan, so I ordered me a FrashSaver handheld Vacuum. And, since it comes with a deli container, I didn't even have to buy a jar topper. It arrived a couple weeks ago and I've been trying it out not just with salad, but Oreos, crackers, cheese, and all kids of stuff. Miracles of miracles, the thing actually works...
It worked so well that I ended up buying more deli containers! Two complaints though... 1) The deli containers are kind of tough to close... and 2) You have to use an attachment to turn the round vacuum head into an oval vacuum head in order for the unit to be able to suck the air out of the deli containers, which is fucking stupid. Why not just make the valve on the deli containers round? With the attachment on, you can't fit the unit into the charger, and I can see the stupid thing getting lost eventually. Stupid, stupid, STUPID.
• Innocence. Back in April the New York blogosphere was blowing up because the police tracked down the "well-dressed guy" who was groping women on the subway...
Except they didn't.
The guy was completely innocent. Karl Vanderwoude had alibis for when gropings were taking place. Which means the vague resemblance he had to some security footage as well as being picked out of a lineup didn't meant shit. An innocent man was hauled off in handcuffs.
But that wasn't even the worst part. The worst part would be having his photo plastered all over the internet with headlines like "Finance creep arrested for groping women in Manhattan!" and "Cops Say Finance Worker Karl Vanderwoude Is 'Well-Dressed' Groper!" And, naturally, those stories aren't updated or revised or amended to explain he was totally innocent... nope, they will live on forever and haunt him until the day he dies. Somebody years in the future could Google his name, click on an outdated story, and easily be led to believe he was the perpetrator. EXCEPT HE WASN'T!
This is equal parts horrifying and disgusting. The first thought that runs through my head is "Holy crap, could I be next?" followed by "How in the hell could this happen?"
He had alibis, for heaven sakes! But nobody gave a shit until his attorney bothered to ask the guy where he was when the incidents took place! I'm no police detective... but should that be JOB ONE before you fucking arrest somebody? Especially knowing that arresting an innocent man WILL RUIN HIS LIFE?
I feel so horribly bad for this poor guy that my mind can't even grasp what he went through. Surely I can't be the only one? Surely all the people who wrote the headlines that crucified Karl Vanderwoude on the internet feel bad for him too?
Apparently not. None of these "journalists" seem to be rushing to update their original stories... they just print a new story and forget about the old one. But the internet never forgets, those old stories are still there. Innocent Karl Vanderwoude may be, but in all those online archives he's guilty for eternity. He deserves better than that... we all do.
• Prohibition? Thanks to Marty for letting me know that my home town was in the New York Times today! Washington State is in the process of switching from government-regulated alcohol distribution to private company distribution, and this has created a booze shortage throughout the State as government shops try to clear out their inventory. Not a popular situation with Memorial Day Weekend partiers. And apparently my small city was the perfect way to dramatize this point to NYT readers. Heh.
Oh well. If there's one thing we love here in Redneckistan, it's our alcohol, so it's not like I can get upset about it.
And... it's been a long day. I suppose I should at least try to get some rest before an even tougher day hits in the morning. I'd tell y'all to be good and obey the law during the holiday tomorrow, but Karl Vanderwoude has shown us that this doesn't necessarily guarantee a clean criminal record now-a-days, so I don't know what to say now.
Except "good night."
Posted on Monday, May 28th, 2012
Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day.
Our local cemetery certainly lives up to history every year...
Thank you from a grateful nation.
Posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
The bad news is that my entire weekend was completely packed, so I didn't have any time to spend on the internet.
The good news is that my entire weekend was completely packed, so I didn't have any time to spend on the internet.
It's times like this that make me realize how much of my day I spend online. It's really getting out of hand, and I can't help but wonder what I've been missing in Real Life. Not that I want to give up the internet altogether... a big part of my life is here... but maybe I should be less obsessed with keeping constantly connected to it.
Internet addiction is a hell of a drug.
Which is a pretty deep thought considering I'm not even supposed to be here today. I'm guest-posting over at Christopher's blog...
This blog entry could self-destruct at any minute, so go check it out!
Posted on Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
I've been working pretty much constantly for four days now. My brain feels fuzzy and I think it stopped working properly around 6:30am this morning. This was confirmed 90 minutes later when I arrived at work and didn't remember how I got there... despite the fact that I was sitting in my car.
And now, fifteen hours after that, my brain is starting to melt. So I figured I should probably write a blog entry while I still have a few neurons left.
Sooo... if somebody can tell me how to work this toaster, I can get started on this here broccoli Cadillac.
Posted on Thursday, May 31st, 2012
Posted on Friday, June 1st, 2012
Posted on Saturday, June 2nd, 2012
When I shop for home furnishings, clothing, or luggage now-a-days, my first stop is JC Penney. I support companies which embrace equality and fairness for everybody, and JC Penney is leading the way when it comes to being inclusive.
And they're not being subtle about it. Their recent advertising campaigns celebrate diversity in a very obvious way. Which is causing no end of drama with bigoted organizations like "One Million Moms" who seems to think that showing "non-traditional families" in an ad is the end of the world.
Sorry, but I don't see the end of the world.
I see a happy family with a couple of kids that are lucky to have two dads who love them...
Father's Day ad from JC Penney • First Pals... What makes Dad so cool?
He's the swim coach, tent maker, best friend, bike fixer and hug giver—all rolled into one.
Or two. Real-life dads Todd Koch and Cooper Smith with their children Claire and Mason.
And somewhere out there, a gay kid who is being ruthlessly persecuted day-in and day-out for something he has no control over, will see this ad and realize that he has a future. That the hurt and despair he's feeling is temporary and he has a shot at happiness just like everybody else. That even though he's labeled as "different," he can have a normal life if he just hangs in there long enough. That the world is changing and there's a place for him in it where he will be valued and embraced for who he is.
And maybe this will be the light he needs to keep from doing something tragic in a world that has more than enough tragedy in it already.
And I seriously don't give a fuck if a million bigoted bitches have their panties in a bunch just because they don't want to talk to their kids...
"It doesn't have any effect on your life. What do you care? People try to talk about it like it's a social issue. Like when you see someone stand up on a talk show and say "How am I supposed to explain to my child that two men are getting married? I dunno, it's your shitty kid, you fucking tell them. Why is that anyone else's problem? Two guys are in love but they can't get married because you don't want to talk to your ugly child for fucking five minutes?"
— The ever brilliant Louis CK
JC Penney is setting an example with their advertising that is helping to make this country a better place. And not just for gay kids... for everybody. They aren't sitting on the sidelines of this so-called "culture war," they're in the game fighting the good fight.
And I'm supporting them with my business whenever I can because it's a fight that needs to be won.
Posted on Sunday, June 3rd, 2012
Let's get ready to rrrrrumble... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Dawson. Game show host, game show player, and actor Richard Dawson passed away. While best known as the host of Family Feud, I remember him best for his funny appearances on Match Game. And, of course, as one of the most genius film role castings ever... Damon Killian from The Running Man...
Ahnold says "I'll be back!"
A movie that was "The Hunger Games" before there was The Hunger Games, and far more entertaining. Rest in peace, sir! You'll be back... in reruns.
• Joosten. Continuing the sad news, Kathryn Joosten, who played Mrs. Landingham so brilliantly on The West Wing has also passed away...
West Wing fans know that killing off Delores Landingham at the end of the second season was one of the most memorable and emotional moments from the entire series, and nothing was quite the same after she left. This was all due to Joosten infusing her character with a charm and dry humor that never ceased to steal any scene in which she appeared. Though I wasn't a fan of Desperate Housewives, I was looking forward to seeing Joosten in another series after it ended. You will be missed.
• House. As the primary European airline partner for Northwest Airlines (later merged with Delta), KLM Royal Dutch Airlines got a bit of my business back when I was flying to Europe regularly. On one of my trips, I was bumped to "World Business Class" and given a gift... a miniature Dutch house filled with gin. I thought it was kind of cool, but gave it away when I had forgotten to buy a gift for my (then) girlfriend. I think it was this one...
Photo taken from KLM Dutch Houses
What I only recently found out was that KLM has been coming out with a new house every October 7th for 92 years! The house I got was not a one-time event for the airline, but a tradition that had been going on for decades. On top of that, each house is based on a real house somewhere in the Netherlands.
You can read all about the 92 houses that have been released on KLM's website... but the coolest way to explore the collection is by getting the KLM Houses App for iPhone. With it you can even get a Google Map with directions to the actual house that the miniature is based on.
Something else I learned today, "KLM" stands for "Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij"... which is Dutch for "Royal Aviation Company." Try saying that ten times fast.
• Fresh. Speaking of DutchyLand... TULIPS!
Hard to believe this was taken just 50 days ago.
• Fresh. Congratulations to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee and 60 years on the throne...
One of the most hauntingly beautiful portraits I've ever seen... by Annie Leibovitz
NOW can I get my knighthood?
And... time to pack my suitcase. It's going to be an interesting week...
Posted on Monday, June 4th, 2012
Last night as I was sitting down to dinner, I had some unexpected pains shooting through my groin. "Well, this can't be good!" I said out loud to nobody in particular.
And, sure enough, it wasn't... because a couple hours later it felt as though I was pissing razor blades through my urethra. "That's funny," I mused... "I don't recall buying a diseased crack-whore recently!" Though, to be fair, my memory isn't quite what it used to be, so I went to bed wondering if I was going to end up with a prescription for penicillin and a frowny-face in my medical record next to some exotic STD.
Then, sometime around 4:00am, I awoke to agonizing pain shooting through my John Thomas.
Seriously, it felt as if my unit had been sliced open... turned inside-out... and then had lemon juice poured on it.
Hobbling to the toilet, I was fully expecting my wanger to explode into shredded streamers like a party popper...
Image from Yatego Shopping.
But instead... a kidney stone dropped out, and the pain instantly subsided.
Yes, somehow I had a kidney stone and never even knew it. That's because usually a kidney stone starts causing excruciating pain long before it gets to the end of the line...
Usually, I am in total agony as the stone travels from my "Dual Water Filters" (kidneys) to my "Water Bucket" (bladder) all the way through the "Sensitive Tubing" (urethra) and out my Massive Nozzle (wiener)... which can take days. This time I didn't feel a damn thing until the bastard made it to my "Sensitive Tubing."
Which is very odd (but totally welcome because it saved me several pain-filled days in bed). Guess I'm just lucky that this got cleared up in time for me to take an early drive over to Seattle for work this morning.
But was it alone? Or can I be expecting a buddy to start causing hideous amounts of pain any minute now...
Posted on Tuesday, June 5th, 2012
I am way, way too tired to be blogging.
Even worse, I have absolutely nothing to blog about. Well, except this meme I ran across...
From SoBadSoGood, here's "30 questions that will change the way you think about the world."
Posted on Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
Well this ought to be exciting...
Posted on Thursday, June 7th, 2012
It used to be that I came here two or three times a year. But then things changed and I haven't been to "The City by The Bay" in... oh... I don't know how many years.
No. Check that. I have a blog. So actually, I DO know when I was last here... that would be three-and-a-half years ago. Still, no matter how many years it's been, my many trips to San Francisco in the past means that I don't have to play tourist. Instead I can wander around doing mostly nothing... which is my favorite thing to do in a city. Especially when the weather is like this...
I think the last time I walked by the St. Peter and Paul Church, it was undergoing renovations. Nice to see how well it cleaned up.
There's a lot of interesting places in San Francisco, but the only must-visit on my list is the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company where you can buy freshly-made cookies and get a taste hot off the griddle. I've been coming here for decades...
While I generally tried to avoid touristy areas, I did go down to Fisherman's Wharf to see what's new at the Hard Rock Cafe and to have a sourdough bread sandwich and mini donuts for dinner...
From there it was back to my hotel so I could get some work done.
Which proved difficult, because this was going on next door...
Serial Bassoonist by Pearson Scott Foresman/Wikimedia Commons
Some guy or gal was practicing their bassoon* for hours. It wasn't even music, but just musical scales up and down and up and down. Apparently there's a whole bunch of musicians staying at the hotel, so I guess I should be lucky it was only a bassoon and not the rest of the orchestra. Eventually I went to the bar because I couldn't stand it any longer. My hope was that A) alcohol would have me not caring that someone was practicing the bassoon next door, and B) the bassoon player wouldn't feel the need to practice at 5:00am or something.
When I got back, the noise had stopped. Thankfully.
And so now I am trying to blog and get some work done, which is still difficult. Not so much because I've been drinking, but because I am excited for tomorrow. It's a rather big day for me...
*To be honest, I don't know if it was a bassoon... could have been a French horn or whatever... but the point is that it was irritating as hell.
Posted on Friday, June 8th, 2012
As far back as I can remember, I've had a bit of an obsession with pirates. This led to an infatuation with their "skull and crossbones" symbol, which I've been drawing on my stuff for decades. Ultimately, it kind of became my personal symbol, and was even part of my signature at one point.
So, on a trip to Maui 26 years ago when the idea of getting tattoos was floated, I knew exactly what I wanted... the skull and bones.
It never happened, but the idea of getting a tattoo was planted.
But there were always excuses. "What if I change my mind in five years and regret getting skull and crossbones?" or "What if a total stranger gives me a crappy tattoo?" So I never got one.
And then I slowly came to realize that I hadn't changed my mind in 26 years as to wanting a skull and crossbones for my ink, so I probably wasn't going to change my mind five years from now.
And then I started seeing the amazing stuff that my Facebook Friend Michael DeMatty was posting to his wall, and all my excuses vanished. So today was the day...
Now, I'm not nearly macho enough to pull off a badass "realistic" skull and crossbones... but a DaveToon skull and crossbones? Definitely more my style...
I couldn't be happier with it...
Posted on Saturday, June 9th, 2012
ZOMG! WHAT HAVE I DONE? WHAT WAS I THINKING? I CAN'T BELIEVE I MADE SUCH A TERRIBLE MISTAKE!
How could I have forgotten to pack my lucky boxer shorts?
This will be a tragedy that haunts me for the rest of my life. If my plane goes down on the flight home Monday, at least now you'll know why.
And now for some questions/comments that have popped up since getting a tattoo yesterday...
• Why not Bad Monkey? Six year ago when I was joking about getting a tattoo, I thought it would be funny...
But the only serious option I ever considered was the skull and crossbones. Bad Monkey would make for a cool tattoo, and maybe one day that will happen. But first it's got to be what I've been wanting for 26 years. In any event, I think Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey would approve...
• Where'd you get that design? I drew it. Which is kind of odd, because I was pretty dead-set against designing my own tattoo for the longest time. But Michael encouraged me to send in my ideas, and eventually he kind of led me to where I needed to be. Ultimately, it kind of makes sense, so I'm glad things ended up that way. But it was not an easy process. I drew dozens of different versions before I had answers to the questions that were keeping me up at night... Bones behind or bones under? Eyepatch or no eyepatch? Cheek bones or no cheek bones?
No eyepatch. Yes to cheekbones. Bones under so it would fit better on my skinny arm. In the end it couldn't have been any other way.
•It's bigger than I thought! I get that a lot, thanks. OH... YOU MEAN THE TATTOO! Yeah, at first I had pictured something around 2-inches tall. But Michael said that I should take a look at something bigger, so I made cutouts at my hotel that morning and played around with how the sizing would look. I quickly found out that he was absolutely right... the bigger I made it, the better I liked it. This was the opposite of how I thought it would work on my bony arm, but it felt right. Eventually I printed out four different sizes of big and let Michael pick which he felt was the best fit. It turned out so badass awesome that now I can't imagine I ever considered it having it inked so tiny.
• Did it hurt? No. Not even a little bit. I was the first person to think that I'd be sobbing uncontrollably and screaming like a little girl, but it never happened (at least not during the tattooing). The outlining felt like somebody was dragging a needle across my skin, scratching it. The filling-in felt like somebody was dragging a popsicle stick across my skin. It didn't hurt at all. I was told that eventually it would feel like I had a bad sunburn, but that never happened. Then I was told it would sting in the shower when water hit it, but that never happened either. If it weren't for being able to look down and see it, I wouldn't know that I had it done. I chalk it up to my mutant healing factor, because this is apparently not typical.
• Weren't you nervous? No. And I wasn't excited either. The whole time it felt like this was something that had already happened and I was just reliving the moment. I can't explain it any better than that, but it was a bit surreal how unaffected I was over getting something permanently marked on my body. I guess I knew it was meant to be all along.
• How long did it take? One hour, forty-five minutes after we decided where it should be placed and got the stencil applied.
• Will you get another tattoo? It's strange... after wanting this so badly for 26 years, I thought that finally getting my skull & bones would get it out of my system and I wouldn't think about tattoos anymore. But now that I have it, all I can do it think about how I would like to add something to it and expand the design down my arm just a bit... or try something different somewhere else. Maybe the feeling will pass but, as of right now, I can't imagine not getting another piece of ink.
Annnnnd... it's time to get out and enjoy the incredible weather going on here in the Bay Area...
Posted on Sunday, June 10th, 2012
Take time to be kind... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Prometheus. After getting caught up with work I decided to take a break and go see genius director Ridley Scott's return to science fiction... Prometheus. It's the story of mankind's quest to find the origins of life by following an "invitation" from our "engineers" to another planet. Chaos ensues.
Michael Fassbender as synthetic person "David," the only interesting character in the entire film.
I still don't know quite what to make of the movie because almost nothing made sense. I simply could not figure out how characters knew what they knew or why they did what they did. But, worst of all, there was no payoff story-wise at the end. Everything seemed totally pointless... even when somebody died. Especially when somebody died. And though there was an effort to tie the film to Ridley Scott's brilliant Alien... any effort to use what happened in Prometheus as a back-story doesn't reveal anything particularly interesting. Maybe that comes in the sequel, for which this movie was an obvious setup.
Overall I give the movie an A for the stunning visuals (which I experienced in IMAX 3D, and it was amazing)... but knock it down to a C when you factor in the mostly boring characters and a weak story with few thrills. And while it was nice to see some sci-fi on the big screen, I was mostly disappointed with Prometheus.
• Super. Well, I finally managed to eat at Super Duper, which is where some of my friends swear the best veggie burger on earth resides. And while I still prefer the vegetarian fare at Johnny Rockets, I have to say it's a good-tasting burger if you happen to be a vegetarian in San Francisco (it's got hummus on it!)...
• WWDC 2012. Tomorrow is the start of Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference here in San Francisco. In the past it's been a big event for the release of new hardware and operating system updates, and this year will probably bring us more of the same. New
I wish I could stick around for the event, but tickets sold out in 2 hours and my flight leaves tomorrow morning. Oh well. Guess I have an excuse to buy internet on the plane now so I can keep up with things while I'm in the air. I'm hoping for an iPhone update that finally makes my "smart phone" into an actual smart phone... with features like AUTO RE-DIAL and SELECTIVE CALLER BLOCKING and TIME-SCHEDULED BLOCKING and all the other stuff that makes my iPhone a not-so-smart phone. Time will tell.
And with that... good bye to the City by the Bay.
Posted on Monday, June 11th, 2012
As I catapulted off the runway of San Francisco International Airport this morning, a kid in the row across from me shouted "WOW! THIS IS JUST LIKE ANGRY BIRDS!"
This was good for a laugh, which I desperately needed. Because as we were taking off at 10:10am, I knew that I'd be missing out on all the cool stuff happening back on the ground in San Francisco's Moscone Center. It was there that Tim Cook would be taking the stage to introduce some of the cool new stuff that Apple had been working on, and I was going to miss it.
After landing in Seattle, I drove 2-1/2 hours, went to work until 7:30pm, then (finally) made it home so I could plop in front of the television and watch the Apple WWDC Keynote stream from my iPad to my Apple TV box. What follows is the deranged ramblings of a Certified Apple Whore, so proceed at your own peril...
The Siri intro was pretty darn funny. Tim Cook was suitably channeling his inner Steve Jobs. The crowd was enthusiastic and the energy in the room was high. Then Tim ran through the astounding numbers touting the unprecedented success of the company and its products. After that, it was time for one of those heartwarming videos that Apple does so well... informative and inspiring without being sappy or tacky. And then? Off to what people really want to see.
I need a new laptop to replace my aging, banged-up MacBook Pro, so I was understandably excited when Phil Schiller took the stage. I wanted so badly to have a machine with the power and 15-inch screen-size of a MacBook Pro, but the thinner form, lower weight, and fantastic SOLID STATE HARD DRIVE from the MacBook Air. At first, I didn't think I was going to get it, because Phil just rambled off expected bumps in speed and features for the existing models. But then something happened...
Introducing the MacBook Pro with Retina Display... AND ALL THE STUFF I WANTED IN A NEW LAPTOP! Thinner? Lighter? Faster? Quieter? SOLID STATE HARD DRIVE?!? Yes please. I am now officially poor, as there was no way I could pass up on something that will save me a lot of time, money, and agony when trying to work while on the road...
• MAC OS X - MOUNTAIN LION
Call me jaded, but it seems as though innovation is coming a lot slower to Apple's desktop products than their mobile products. In fact, the features shown for OS X that interest me most were those that make it easier to go from my laptop to my iOS mobile devices. Where are the compelling new OS X features that are redefining the non-mobile user experience? I dunno. Instead we get tighter integration with Twitter and Facebook. Whee. Don't get me wrong, any improvements or new features are appreciated)... especially for a jaw-dropping $20 price tag... but come on. This was kinda lame. Especially when you take a look at what Microsoft is up to for their next OS.
• iOS 6
Uhhh... yeah... it all sounds great. BUT I HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL THIS FALL?!? I'm assuming that this release date will coincide with the release of a new iPhone, but sheesh.
In any event, the new features really do sound great. The new maps look fantastic (and apparently the data is served up by TomTom, so they're be functional too!). Siri just keeps getting better. FaceTime over cellular and Mail "pull-to-refresh" are long overdue. Passbook is going a long way towards helping people lighten their wallet. The new integration with Twitter and Facebook is nifty. And the Accessibility enhancements are GOLDEN when configuring iOS products for non-techies.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE "PHONE" PART OF iPHONE?!?
I still think it is embarrassing (and fucking stupid) that there's no auto-redial on my iPhone. WHY?!? Why in the hell would such an obvious and useful feature keep getting the shaft at Apple? Insanity! But at least they are addressing my long-standing complaints regarding having some control over your incoming calls. They call it "Do Not Disturb"...
FINALLY... AT LONG LAST... I will be able to block unimportant calls and mute non-essential notifications when I don't want to deal with the shit. LIKE WHEN I'M SLEEPING! And, from what I can see, it looks pretty smart. Apparently you can one-touch do not disturb AND have an automatic do not disturb schedule going... hopefully both at the same time.
And that's all she wrote. No new iPhone... yet. No new desktop Macs... yet. No new iToast... yet.
I guess there's always next year.
Posted on Tuesday, June 12th, 2012
This morning began with me staring into the mirror in horror as I saw that my once-beautiful tattoo had started smearing as I put on some healing cream. "GAH! IT'S MELTING!" I shouted to the world as I grabbed the tube of ointment. My first thought was that I had somehow used too much of the stuff and I was reading furiously to see if I had missed any warnings in the instructions. But then I noticed that my fingers had flakes of inked skin on them, and realized that it wasn't smearing at all... the dead skin was just mixing with the ointment to make a smeary mess on my arm. Jester said that would happen, so I stopped freaking out and just left it alone.
By this evening, most of the blackened dead skin had rubbed off when I put more ointment on, so everything was back to normal.
Well, not everything was back to normal.
My Blu-Ray copy of John Carter had arrived so I decided to take a look. Since it was based on one of my favorite books of all time, A Princess of Mars, and the preview footage looked awesome, I was always mad that I had missed it in the theater despite all the bad reviews...
Now, I should start off my "review" by stating that I had extremely high hopes for this film. Director Andrew Stanton was a self-professed fan of the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, and his track record for telling a story with Finding Nemo; Toy Story; Monsters, Inc.; and other amazing Pixar flicks was solid. So when the bad reviews rolled in, I was unconcerned. And when Disney announced they had a massive flop on their hands and were going to lose 200 million dollars on the film, I was even more unconcerned. Obviously Andrew Stanton had created a movie that was so faithful to the source material that the idiot masses of the movie-going-public-at-large were too stupid to appreciate it. And I also blamed the shitty film title and horrible marketing that did nothing to explain the concept of the film. It couldn't be the movie, it was everything else that was bad... right?
Um. No. This movie sucks balls and has to be one of the biggest cinematic disappointments in the history of the movies. If you are sensitive to sporadic graphic language, a warning...
My spoiler-filled "review" is in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
Years ago (I forget how many) there was a gas crisis which caused fuel prices to skyrocket. Nothing like what we're going through today, but it was enough to really put a dent in my wallet. At the time, I had to drive 25 miles roundtrip each day for work, which ended up being around 550 miles a month, 6,600 miles a year. When I sat down to calculate my car's gas mileage, it ended up being around 28-31 mpg for my daily commute. That works out to my buying 200+ gallons of gas each year just to get to work and back (give or take). Factor in that I was also driving to work on many weekends... and sometimes making the trip twice in a day when I had an appointment or something... and it was a lot of money being spent.
So I made the decision to move closer to work.
Now I drive 2-1/2 miles roundtrip, which is a tenth of the gas being burned and the money being spent. Even when gas prices (eventually) returned to normal, I was thankful to be saving so much bank. Now that gas prices are astronomically high again, I'm even more thankful that my commute is so blissfully short. The time saved is just icing on the cake. I wish that I didn't have to drag so much crap back-and-forth, because I'd love to start riding a bike to work and using -zero- gallons of gas. But I'll take what I can get.
For the longest time, I was kind of an asshole whenever people would lament how much money they wasted driving to work each day. "Why don't you move closer to work or get a different job?" I'd say. This would usually result in excuses like "I can't afford the housing near where I work!" or "I love my home!" or "My wife doesn't want to move!" or "I don't want to quit my job!" or whatever. I was pretty unsympathetic, and would always say something along the lines of "Well, then it's your choice to spend the money on gas, so don't cry about it!" And though I was saying it as a joke, deep-down I really meant it. Don't like spending money on gas? Then move closer to work. If it's more expensive to live there, then you have to decide where you'd rather have your money being spent. Granted, our public transportation options here in Redneckistan suck, so there's not a lot of alternatives to driving... but, still, don't whine to others about what you've chosen from the options available.
Now-a-days, however, things have changed.
Gas prices are high and the job market is horrible and the bottom dropped out of the housing market. Those who may want to move cannot do so because there are no other jobs or their home's value has dropped so badly. Even if they managed to sell it, they'd have to pay the bank to get out from under the loan they took out. People are in the horrible position of owing more on their home than their home is worth. They have no choice but to ride it out... no choice but to keep their expensive commute.
And so now there's really nothing I can say to people who complain except "I'm sorry."
I'm saying that a lot now-a-days. Somebody loses their job... loses their house... complains about the cost of their commute... it's always "I'm sorry"... "I'm sorry"... "I'm sorry"...
And the words feel completely inadequate, because these have all become devastating blows that end marriages... destroy careers... ruin lives... and otherwise makes a lot of very good, honest, decent, hard-working people end up miserable, alone, and afraid. And then, just when things can't get any worse, they get used as a toilet in a political pissing match between asshole candidates who don't give a flying fuck about anything except getting elected and burying their opponents in the process.
Somehow we let this become our new normal.
It's no longer about how we can come together and build something that's great, it's all about how we can divide people and let hatred mire us in something that's failing. We've bought into a system that's more interested in destroying than creating, and now all of us are paying the price.
And I'm just tired of it. I'm tired of having to say "I'm sorry" because there's nothing else I can say.
Fortunately, this is a system which is ultimately unsustainable, and that's what gives me hope to carry on.
It's only a question of when.
And if I'll be lucky enough to see it happen in my lifetime.
Posted on Thursday, June 14th, 2012
It's Flag Day today!
I may be having serious issues with the polarizing state of this self-destructing country, but I still think our flag is a pretty one.
According to Wikipedia, Flag Day in the United States of America commemorates the adoption of our flag on 14 June 1777. Want to know even more? Wikipedia also has a really cool entry with all kinds of information on the American flag.
Posted on Friday, June 15th, 2012
One week later and still lovin' it.
My morning routine is five minutes longer now...
Posted on Saturday, June 16th, 2012
This blog entry is brought to you by... DIBS!
What makes ice cream taste better than ever before?
What makes ice cream unhealthier than ever before?
What is so addictive that crack addicts use it to wean themselves off the pipe?
What consumes your life so completely that it's known as "Satan's Candy?"
What snack is so overwhelming that even Charlie Sheen won't touch it?
What did I have with every meal today?
Yes, that's right... it's DIBS! Delicious bites of ice cream that's been covered in chocolate and rice crispies, then frozen in tubs for your eating pleasure!And now... I'm sure I had something I wanted to write about today, but who can blog at a time like this when I've got DIBS left in the freezer!
Posted on Sunday, June 17th, 2012
Put that Father's Day barbecue on hold... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Meh-crosoft. The big news in technology is that Microsoft will be making a major announcement tomorrow... probably some kind of tablet... and nobody cares! Tablets have been done. So unless they've got a tablet with a 3-D holographic display and free unlimited satellite internet connectivity, stop wasting our time! You want to really impress me? I'm still waiting for my flying car. Why not announce that shit tomorrow?
But noooooo... odds are we get yet another tablet. Which probably won't be as good as an iPad anyway. Yawn.
• Glass According to the Seattle PI Blog, The Space Needle is getting "glass window box" upgrades. As if it wasn't already scary enough...
The glass window boxes at Chicago's Willis Tower, known as "The Ledge," were enough to make me nearly wet myself. And they were on a building. These are going to be on a frickin' tower. Guess it's still not as bad as The Grand Canyon Skywalk though.
• Holes The movie Prometheus was a beautiful disaster that looked stunning (especial in IMAX 3D) but, unfortunately, had so many story problems that I had a hard time enjoying it. Red Letter Media has encapsulated many of those problems in an amusing, SPOILER-FILLED, chat...
If you haven't listened to the amazing "Mr. Plinkett Reviews" of such films as the Star Wars prequels, and various Star Trek films, and other flicks like Avatar and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull... you're really missing out. Yes, they're meant to be funny, but the insight Red Letter Media has into the art of filmmaking is brilliant.
• Nowalla So much for Gowalla's promises of being able to download your check-in data and stamp collection from their now-dead service... Gowalla.com is down and the domain doesn't even resolve any more. So glad that I spent huge chunks of my time adding spot data, correcting spot errors, and spending my money buying custom stamps. But, hey, they got bought out by Facebook and got paid... so screw all the people who helped build their service! You'd think they'd AT LEAST allow you to import your check-ins and stamps into Facebook or something.
And... I'm prematurely out of bullets. I'd be embarrassed, but I hear it happens to every guy from time to time.
Posted on Monday, June 18th, 2012
I've been working 18-hour days since Wednesday, straight through the weekend, and into today.
This afternoon it finally caught up to me. I haven't felt this bloody awful in a very long time.
So now I am attempting to make up for some much-needed rest by taking some sleeping pills and heading off to bed at 10:00pm. Maybe if I force myself into a chemically-induced coma for eight hours, I'll snap back to my normal self... or at least get close enough that I can function.
The only problem is that all I can do is think about the work I'm not getting done, and the idea of getting so far behind is keeping me up at night.
All I really want in life right now is an off switch.
Posted on Tuesday, June 19th, 2012
It's an interesting time to be living in Washington State.
For one thing, you can walk into a store and buy hard liquor. Tequila at Safeway... Vodka at Wal-Mart... Rum at Costco... when it comes to buying alcohol, our choices are overwhelming now. This is a radical change from the old days when only government liquor stores were allowed to sell such beverages. And by "old days" I mean "last month." It's going to take a while before I get over the shock of walking into the grocery store and seeing booze for sale. Of course, having such easy access to said booze will probably help.
But the bigger change is yet to come.
Back in February, Washington lawmakers passed a marriage equality bill which legalized same-sex marriage. This mobilized the anti-equality brigade, because some people feel that basic human rights and freedoms should be put to a vote. Signatures against equality were collected... enough to force a ballot measure... so now we wait until November to see if an entire group of tax-paying citizens get the same right to marry that everybody else has.
Current polling shows marriage equality winning out, but I'll believe it when I see it. Sadly, you can never underestimate the power of disinformation, fear, lies, and ignorance when it comes to the public at large. And I'm sure that we're going to be seeing plenty of that in the coming months.
Which is really disheartening when you consider the consequences for people whose lives are affected.
Last month I shared an incredibly moving video which explained why marriage equality is so important. Today that video is now a Kickstarter project to become an actual film BY LINDA BLOODWORTH-THOMPSON (of Designing Women fame)...
If you can spare a few bucks to help counter the disinformation, fear, lies, and ignorance, head over to Kickstarter and donate, won't you?
Posted on Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
Me in Iceland.
After 18 hours traveling.
"You've had insomnia for as long as I've been reading your blog. When was the last time you remember getting a good night's sleep?"
Posted on Thursday, June 21st, 2012
Posted on Friday, June 22nd, 2012
This afternoon I barely managed to escape death when I jumped out of the way of a car that tried to run me down in the parking lot.
Well, maybe not "death"... but certainly "injury." And probably not really "tried" but more like "accidentally"... but the big picture is this: The car that nearly hit me had a big ol' bumper sticker on the back which said "SEE BICYCLES."
Which has me wondering if I should slap a big ol' bumper sticker that says "SEE PEDESTRIANS" across my ass...
And now for something interesting... that bright yellow "SEE BICYCLES" bumper sticker that's popping up everywhere was actually created by a guy in the city just down the road from me. Apparently he is a cyclist who was injured by a pickup truck back in 2004, and is now trying to raise awareness and make the roads safer for cyclists.
There's something to be said about a guy who takes personal tragedy and uses the experience to try and make life better for others.
If only there was a way I could turn the tragedy of this crappy frozen burrito into making life better for others.
Posted on Saturday, June 23rd, 2012
I was an hour late getting to work because I was having a bit of a waffle crisis this morning.
Once I finally got there, it started dumping down rain. This was very bad timing on the weather's part because there's a parade going on downtown this evening. Apparently the rain eventually realized its mistake, as it retreated before the festivities began. Since I had no plans to attend the parade I shouldn't have cared about the weather one way or another, but was kind of glad I didn't get drenched going out to my car when it was time to go home.
I live just five minutes from work. But Since I had three errands along the way, it took me two hours to get home.
I should say that usually I live five minutes from home. Thanks to half the town being closed off for the parade, tonight I lived fifteen minutes from work. I guess this means my errands lasted only an hour-and-forty-five minutes, but it sure seemed like two hours.
Now that I'm home, it was time for inevitable frozen pizza dinner.
I say "inevitable" because frozen pizza takes no thought or effort. It's the microwave popcorn of Saturday-night dinner. Or it would be if microwave popcorn wasn't already the microwave popcorn of Saturday night dinners. If only I had microwave popcorn I wouldn't have had to settle. But the idea of fighting parade traffic for a trip to the grocery store was more than I could bear after the nearly two hours I spent just getting home.
It's at times like this when I'm safe at home while people are fighting for their lives in a parade that I think about how Katy Perry totally ripped off her Fireworks super-powers from the X-man formerly known as "Jubilee." Somebody at Marvel Comics should sue...
And by "sue" I mean "ask Katy Perry to appear in the next Avengers movie." Because, seriously, everything that Katy Perry touches turns to gold!
And now I suppose I should finish polishing all those imaginary trophies I won in that desert submarine competition. Tomorrow I have to do this all over again (sans parade) and that tarnish isn't going to remove itself.
Please remind me to pick up some microwave popcorn so I can have a decent dinner tomorrow night.
Posted on Sunday, June 24th, 2012
This morning I got my bajillionth email asking me how I manage to take all the trips that I do. My best answer is usually "Find a job that requires a lot of travel." But most people are asking about leisure travel, which is something entirely different. And though I can't speak for everybody, I can say what works for me. With that in mind, a special All Travel Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• SET MY PRIORITIES! I drive a crappy car. I will continue to drive the piece of shit until the wheels fall off because it's paid for. It's not that I wouldn't like to have a nice car, it's that I'd rather spend the money traveling. For some people, their priorities would be exactly opposite, and that's fine. I take two vacations every year because that's where I choose to spend my money. You don't have to be obscenely wealthy to travel the world, you just have to make it a priority in your life.
• SAVE MY MONEY! I save up the money needed for a trip before I take it. Sometimes this can take years, and I'll take smaller vacations while I'm saving for the bigger ones. When it comes time to buy plane tickets and hotel rooms, if I don't have enough money saved then I do not go on vacation! It's un-American I know, but the stress of having credit card interest build up on debt I have to pay back would completely negate any fun I might otherwise have. When it became apparent that I wasn't going to have enough money during my Australia holiday once the plane tickets had been purchased and the hotels had been reserved, I was in a near-panic. I couldn't cancel my non-refundable fees for a later date to save up more money. I certainly wasn't going to fly all the way there and do nothing because I couldn't afford it. My only option was to run up $1300 on my credit card. I chose not to worry about it while I was on vacation, but it bothered me badly when I got back. Some people don't have any problem paying for their trip after they take it... I've found it makes for a better vacation if I do the opposite.
• CREATE MY BUDGET! My first real trip "on my own" was to New Orleans when I was in high school. I had won a DECA competition at Washington State Finals and went on to compete in Louisiana for Nationals. My mom and dad paid for airfare and hotel, so the only budget I had to worry about was food. To pay for my meals I was given money by my parents, and also had some meager funds I had saved up... it was more than adequate, but hardly extravagant. My "system" for maintaining a budget was to split my money into the number of days I had. After paying for my meals of the day, I took whatever money was left over and saved it for souvenirs and crap. This gave me a big incentive to eat cheaply so I had pocket money to spend. And since the drinking age of 18 was rarely enforced on my 17 years of age, most of that pocket money went towards alcohol... the best souvenir money can buy! And even though I now have credit cards, ATMs, and whatnot, the money lessons I learned in New Orleans back in 1983 set the pattern for every trip I've taken since.
• INCREASE MY FLEXIBILITY Believe it or not, most of my vacations are based not on where I most want to go... but instead on what's on sale. I subscribe to dozens of email newsletters (Airfare Watchdog is my favorite) that have all kinds of travel deals (and most airlines, cruise lines, hotel chains, and travel sites have newsletters too). When I see something that's affordable and appealing, I grab it. I've taken ridiculously cheap vacations this way. By being flexible I can easily halve my travel costs (or more!). I once flew to Copenhagen for one day to attend a birthday party. It was finding an airfare deal for $298 roundtrip that made it possible. I once took a four-day vacation to New York because I got an airfare/hotel package deal for $400. I flew to San Francisco once because of a $89 roundtrip airfare introductory special. I once got a last-minute roundtrip Hawaii ticket for $199. My airfare for the trip to Venice I took last year was FREE (+ $120 in fees) when I signed up for a credit card (which I immediately turned around and canceled before I had to pay the annual fee). If you have an open mind and can be a little flexible on dates, you can get deals that are almost too good to be true.
• DO MY RESEARCH! Back in the 80's and early 90's travel was very different than it is now. The way you saved money was to find the cheapest alternatives for stuff you needed. For me this meant sleeping on trains or finding hostels instead of staying in hotels. It meant buying food at the market instead of going out to restaurants. It meant a lot of research and a lot of planning. It meant a lot of calls to a travel agent. All this changed when travel sites like Orbitz came along. Easily being able to find and compare cheap airfare and hotels meant my travel dollar went further. I could stay longer and do more than ever before. Everything change again when bidding sites like Priceline came along. Now I could stay at fantastic hotels cheaply. Kayak arrived and suddenly finding the best price on airfare was a snap. Today I am traveling in sheer luxury compared to how I used to travel... and yet paying budget prices. Thank you, internet!
• MAXIMIZE MY REWARDS! I purchase absolutely everything on my rewards credit card. Everything. $35 in gas? Credit card. Cable TV bill? Credit card. Phone bill? Credit card. $3.50 bagel? Credit card. Whenever humanly possible I buy everything on credit card because each dollar translates into reward points. Points that I can then spend to get free airline tickets. The only thing you have to do to make this work in your favor is to pay off your credit card balance every month (I pay mine every week). How can I afford to attend Bitchsterdam in the Netherlands each year? Free airline ticket. And it doesn't stop there. I have frequent flier cards for every airline I fly. I have hotel stay reward cards for every hotel I stay at (even though you don't get points for discounted Priceline stays, you still get perks for visits). I enroll in every loyalty program that's free even if I don't think I'll ever use it again... you just never know.
• PLAN MY VISIT! Once I decide where I'm going and what I'm doing, I plan for the trip. Not necessarily down to the last detail, because I don't like having to be on a schedule... but enough to know what I want to do and what I'll be spending to do it. I research how much meals cost. I research what activities there are and how much they cost. I ask questions of people who have already been there. I pour over travel websites. I do everything I can to anticipate every dollar I'll have to spend so I can save for it. Most of the time I'm very good at this because I'm well-informed before I even get there. On rare occasions, shit happens and you go into debt to pay for it, but imagine how much worse it would have been if you had gone in with no planning at all?
• FOLLOW MY BUDGET! I use the same strategy now that I did for my first trip when it comes to a budget. I divide the money I have available for expenses into the number of days I'm away. Anything I have left over at the end of the day is then used for souvenirs and crap (but mostly alcohol... some things never change!).
And that's pretty much it. Other people have their own way of traveling, and that's great, but this is what works for me. Happy travels!
Posted on Monday, June 25th, 2012
So this is what the weather is like at End of Days.
Since Saturday we've been flipping between gorgeous blue skies one minute... followed by thunder showers just minutes later... followed by gorgeous blue skies again soon after. And while the changes are shockingly rapid, they're actually really cool to watch. Today on the way to work I watched a rain shower crash down from the mountains like a wave. As I was driving home I saw a thundershower retreat to the horizon like smoke in the wind. It's weird. It's wacky. It's wonderful in a way that only Mother Nature can deliver.
Which leads me to...
The Newsroom premiered Sunday on HBO. It's weird. It's wacky. It's wonderful in a way that only Aaron Sorkin can deliver.
Remarkably (for HBO anyways), they've just made the first episode available on YouTube in its entirety. Because of Sorkin's near-flawless run on The West Wing, his totally-flawless run on Sports Night, and his mostly-flawless run on Studio 60, I had no choice but to give it a watch... despite the rather shocking number of poor reviews it's been pulling.
Unsurprisingly, I really liked it.
Partly because it stars Emily Mortimer, whom I love more than chocolate pudding, but mostly because Sorkin's commentary on the state of "news" in this country mirrors my own to a scary degree.
Not to say there aren't problems. First of all, this first episode felt exactly like the first episodes of Studio 60 and Sports Night. Twice on the opening similarities I could forgive... but three times feels like Sorkin is fresh out of ideas on how to start a new show. Second of all, too many situations go too dramatic too fast. Not every little thing in life has to end in high drama (except if you're Aaron Sorkin, apparently). Lastly*, the show takes place not in present-day... but back in 2010. This means every show is going to be re-living news that already happened (starting with the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster this episode). I can only guess that this is due to Sorkin wanting to run the news as it really went down instead of approximating news events that are currently going on. Yawn. The West Wing handled a kind of "faux current" reality so beautifully, why is The Newsroom stuck in the past? I'm hoping this doesn't end up boring me.
Regardless, I'm just happy to have Sorkin back. Nobody writes television like he does, and anything he's involved in is bound to be worth watching. You can decide for yourself by clicking over to YouTube.
*Well, not lastly. "Lastly" would be that The Newsroom is so overrun with placement advertising for Dell Computer that I have to wonder if Michael Dell is secretly blowing Aaron Sorkin in addition to handing over sticky wads of cash. It's downright embarrassing, and a huge distraction.
Posted on Tuesday, June 26th, 2012
During the "Dot Com Explosion" of the late 90's I knew more than a few people who amassed considerable wealth in a very short amount of time. This did not include me, however, because I was becoming increasingly involved with the Buddhist studies I had stumbled upon a decade earlier. Material wealth was something that took a distant back seat to my spiritual wealth back then, so chasing the buckets of money was not a priority. Even so, it was an interesting period in my life precisely because of all the money that was to be had.
And the randomness of where the money went.
Some people I knew stumbled into shit-loads of money almost by accident, but were smart enough to turn it into a personal fortune while the gettin' was good.
One guy... a kid, really... was pulling down thousands of dollars a week just making simple banner ads in his spare time. He not only earned enough money to completely pay for his college tuition, but had enough left over to pay for a bug chunk of his sister's education as well.
Another guy got a full-time job with a massive salary working from home on a corporate website. This occupied so little of his time that he ended up getting two additional "full-time" work-at-home-jobs... all of which he held at the same time. After six months he had enough money saved up that he started his own business, which he ran successfully for nearly a year before selling it for a staggering amount of money. This would be a cool story in itself, but it's made all the more incredible when you know that he kept all three of his "full-time" jobs that whole time!
Still another guy made huge, huge money because he owned a "worthless" low-rent office building that his family had purchased decades earlier. He inherited it after his dad died and had tried to sell it several times without success... until the neighborhood became a hotspot for dot-com start-ups. Luckily for him, he quickly learned the value of what he had, and was able to milk it for incredible profits... before finally selling it to a big company that bought it only so they could tear it down and build their new headquarters on the land.
Money was raining down from the heavens at an incalculable rate, and a lot of people became incredibly wealthy chasing it.
But not everybody.
Some people, try as they might, could never manage to get their piece of the pie no matter how hard they tried. They would start up one failed business after another trying to figure out where the money was... but never managed to find it.
These were some of the most bitter, angry, resentful people I've ever met. And the most educational, as they clearly confirmed that my embracing anti-materialism was the right path to be on. This was never made more clear to me as when I joined a group of them at a housewarming party thrown by a guy who was making bajillions of dollars in dot-com cash. He proudly showed off his incredible new home, only to be cut-up from one end to the other the minute he left the room. At one point some guests were discussing the "horror story" that was the kitchen decor. I found this funny... and said so, which lead to this conversation...
"You actually like that ugly mess?"
"Well, it's not my taste, but he's clearly happy with it. Since he's the one that has to live with it, what should it matter to anybody else?"
"Because he has the money to hire a decent interior decorator and still chooses to have an ugly kitchen!"
This was good for a group-laugh, which was fascinating to me...
"Well, fortunately the only thing wrong with him is something that can be fixed by a coat of paint... we should all be so lucky."
The implication of that statement went right over their heads (thankfully), but stuck with me for a very long time. Even when I strayed off the path of anti-materialism because I realized that some "stuff" made my life much more fun. Like a
Eventually the dot-com bubble burst. Some people who made a lot of money ended up losing a lot more.
This, I'm sure, was a time of glee and much rejoicing by all the bitter, angry, resentful people who were so tortured by the monetary success that eluded them during those heady days. Finally, at long last, those who succeeded where they had failed were "getting what they deserved!"
The irony being that all the bitter, angry, resentful people were getting exactly what they deserved, even if they didn't realize it.
Which is why I am trying hard — so very hard — not to be bitter, angry, and resentful that Justin Bieber's new album, Believe, has just become the year's top-selling debut... despite being filled with songs that I loathe so badly that I can barely listen to 10 seconds of the 90-second preview snippets on the iTunes Store without gagging.
Fortunately, Matt & Kim, a band I love more than buckets of money, just released a new single to keep me on my path...
Life. Is. Good.
Posted on Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
This morning as I was walking towards my car, I heard loud ruffling... then felt something smack me on the side of my head. When I looked up, I saw a large quail flying up to the carport roof. "Help. I'm being attacked by a giant quail." I yelled.
Nobody came running to rescue me.
The bird just sat there glaring at me as I slowly backed away.
So I got into the car... slowly... then drove off.
Things just went downhill from there. And when I finally came home from work, I admit I took a good look around, thinking that the big quail would be there waiting for me. But he wasn't. Apparently he had other people to terrorize.
As if the evil geese weren't enough to worry about. I swear, sometimes living in the wilds of Redneckistan is enough to drive me crazy. I may be a vegetarian, but right now I'm wondering which is more delicious... quail or goose. Forget Turducken, it's time for Gooquaiken.
Assuming they don't get me first.
Posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2012
So... I worked straight through all day and have been completely out of touch with the world. Anything happen while I was gone?
Well, other than Olive Garden's 2 for $25 Italian Dinner Special... WITH UNLIMITED SALAD AND BREADSTICKS!
I just wish they didn't mandate that you have to pay for the dinner in order to get the unlimited salad and breadsticks. Why should I be forced to pay for something I don't want just to be able to get unlimited free access to something I do? I mean, it's nice they made it cheaper and easier to get, but who knows when I'm going to eat that breadstick... I may end up never eating it! And that means I was forced to pay for dinner for nothing!
Sure, I still get all the benefits of dinner that will get me all the salad and breadsticks I need if I ever end up needing some... and, yeah, it wouldn't be fair to just wander into Olive Garden and demand unlimited salad and breadsticks when I didn't pay for any dinner... and, certainly, it's the money that's coming in from the dinners that allows Olive Garden to provide the unlimited salad and breadsticks in the first place... but forcing people to buy something is totally un-American! It's like a socialist plot invented by... oh, dunno... the Italians or something!
I should be able to refuse to buy dinner and instead fucking starve to death because I can't afford to pay the $200,000 for a salad and breadstick emergency... which is how much something like that costs when you didn't purchase the dinner plan. I mean, it's my right as an American to gamble my life away! That's why we're the best country on earth and leaders of the free world!
And it's also my right to decide I don't want to die... and to change my mind at the last minute if an unexpected salad and breadsticks emergency happens... and to then shame this country for killing its citizens just because they made the mistake of not getting dinner when they had the chance. Would Jesus allow a man to die just because he had no dinner and couldn't afford emergency salad and breadsticks? I think not!
I dunno. I just don't get it. What's next... is Olive Garden going to force me to buy Justin Bieber albums? Or force me to do some other random thing that sounds crazy but has absolutely no bearing what-so-ever on Americans' access to unlimited salad and breadsticks?
Bad enough that I am forced to buy dinner... but the fact that some of my dinner money is going to provide salad and breadsticks for the poor is what really pisses me off. Because they're poor. They should just be allowed to starve to death because feeding the poor is socialist. I'm pretty sure that's in The Bible.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go eat AT TACO BELL. Where real Americans eat American food like American Nacho Burrito Supremes... just like our American Founding Fathers did.
U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!
Posted on Friday, June 29th, 2012
And so Apple has made me poor.
Except not really. Yes, their new MacBook Pro with Retina Display has put me in debt, but it's also replacing my aging and busted MacBook Pro which I use constantly for my work. And replacing it beautifully. It is without question the most remarkable laptop... most remarkable computer... I have ever seen or had the privilege to use...
And while the "Retina Display" alone would make this machine a quantum leap beyond any other portable, Apple didn't stop there. They have adopted many of the same features which make their beautiful MacBook Air line so revolutionary. It's the crossroads of power and portability, and hands-down the ultimate laptop for graphics work like I do every day.
Except it's gonna cost ya. The cutting edge always does.
I'm going to run through all the specific features in an extended entry, but the bottom line is that the minimum baseline configuration for this machine costs $2,199. For work like I do, you really need the next step up, which runs $2,799. But I felt I needed something stronger, so I customized a machine that has the faster 2.7/3.7GHz CPU (+$250) and a maxed-out 16GB of RAM (+$200), which totaled a whopping $3,249. I stuck with the 512GB Flash Storage (Solid State Drive) because it was enough for me (it's bigger than the 320GB hard drive in my old MacBook Pro!) and I couldn't justify the additional $500 to bump that up to 768GB.
Now, when I look at that $3,249 price tag, a part of me wants to start screaming. But this isn't a toy that I use to just read email and surf the web... it's a critical work tool which I use to make a living every day. For me at least, it's a bargain. And every time I sit down to use it, I know exactly where that money went. The MacBook Pro with Retina Display is a boon to my productivity and a pleasure to use. I love it passionately, and can't imagine going back to a "regular" laptop.
If you want to know why, all my notes are in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Saturday, June 30th, 2012
Here in the wilds of Redneckistan in Eastern Washington, nice surprises do happen.
Though, in the political arena, this is quite rare. We are the Red half of the state by a wide margin, and Conservative politics dominate the region. Heck, I usually end up voting Republican locally, because it's nice to have some representation in the state I live in. Otherwise, we would be completely forgotten as the Democratic-dominated politicians over on "The Coast" pander to their mostly-liberal voters...
My biggest problem with political representatives in this country is that a good chunk of them don't actually represent all all the people they are supposed to represent. They choose to represent only those people who think and believe the same as they do. A lot of the time, that's what got them elected, that's what is going to get them re-elected, and they don't really give a crap about anybody else. You can't really blame them for their attitude since it keeps them alive politically... except I most definitely do because that's NOT the way it should be.
And yet, as I said, there are surprises.
Like when Representative Maureen Walsh, a Republican from Walla Walla in Washington's very Conservative 16th District, made a rather touching speech in support of our state voting to legalize marriage equality...
Unsurprisingly, her support (fueled largely by her daughter, I'm sure), put her on a political hit-list here in Redneckistan. She's now running against an opponent whose opposition to marriage equality is the cornerstone of their campaign.
And then something interesting happened. Rep. Walsh started getting contributions to her campaign from gay donors that were not only out of her district, but out of the state. This has sparked strong criticism from her opponent, Ruth Edwards, who says taking money from out-of-staters shows that Walsh is out of touch with her district. A district who reelected Walsh after she supported extending benefits to domestic partners in 2009, even though the measure itself failed miserably in that same district. Surprise!
I guess we'll see if Edwards stands on the same principles if an organization like the equality-haters from "National Organization for Marriage" decide to dump money on her campaign.
In any event, even though I don't agree with all her politics, I just made a contribution to Walsh's re-election bid. She seems to be one of those rare politicians who makes representing the rights of all the people in her district a priority... even if supporting their right to equality may not be politically in her best interest. Because, with all due respect to Ruth Edwards, it's not just people out-of-state that want to see Washington on the right side of history.
Posted on Sunday, July 1st, 2012
There's a heatwave plaguing the nation! Well, not here, really, but most places in the USA. Though it is supposed to get up to 90° next week. Guess that means it's time for my American readers to park themselves next to an air conditioner... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Canada! Happy Canada Day to our lovely neighbors to the north!
• Hadia Gwaii! And speaking of Canada... one of my favorite travel blogs, Everything Everywhere, recently landed on a place I have long wanted to visit, Hadia Gwaii. Gary's 8 Things You Might Not Have Known About Hadia Gwaii just makes me want to go even more. Sure it's less than 600 miles northwest of Seattle, but getting there is not easy. There's a ferry that runs out of Prince Rupert, but you've got to drive 1000 miles to get there...
Map courtesy of Google Maps.
That's a 7-hour ferry ride after a 21-hour drive. Not really a great option for me. I'd rather fly to Vancouver, then transfer to a connecting flight to Sandspit... at a cost of about $1000. Yikes. Maybe an entire day driving wouldn't be so bad if I did a stopover in Prince George or something. But, given the price of gas, maybe the $1000 flight isn't so horrible after all? I dunno. If you want to see a little of why I want to go there, here's a Hadia Gwaii info site.
• Oatmeal! Matt Inman, creator of some of the funniest stuff on the internet you will ever see over at The Oatmeal, has been embroiled in a stupid, stupid lawsuit. What's particularly stupid is that he was first sued because somebody STOLE HIS WORK... and then again BECAUSE HE TURNED THE DUMB-FUCK LAWSUIT INTO AN OPPORTUNITY TO RAISE $220,000 FOR CHARITY. Yes, he was sued for raising money for the National Wildlife Foundation and the American Cancer Society with OPERATION BEAR LOVE GOOD, CANCER BAD...
Now, as somebody who has been threatened with absurd legal action more than once for the crazy stuff I've published on my blog, I have a low tolerance for ridiculous crap like this. If there's any justice in the world, douchebag lawyer Charles Carreon will end up paying all the legal fees for filing this bullshit in the first place... right after his lawsuits are dismissed for being STUPID. Anybody wanting to see what's going to cause the downfall of this country need look no further than our legal system's frivolous lawsuits.
• Pot! Kettle! And speaking of stupid... "Nancy Pelosi is a dingbat!" —Irony's Official Spokesperson, Sarah Palin.
This may be a true statement. Nancy Pelosi may indeed be a dingbat. But anything that comes out of the mouth of this vapid joke regarding the lack of smarts IN OTHER PEOPLE just makes her into a bigger fucking idiot than she already is. If that's even possible. It just proves that Sarah Palin isn't even self-aware. Or able to learn. As in lacking sentience. Like a rock. A stupid, stupid, stupid rock.
As much as I loathe John McCain for betraying our POW/MIAs, the fact that he unleashed this monster on us is beyond unforgivable.
Blargh. Guess I'd better stop shooting bullets and go into work since I'm running an hour late and all. This coming week is going to be a rough one...
Posted on Monday, July 2nd, 2012
I cut my foot. My car is making a funny noise. My wireless router is dead and my network is down. I had to re-book my upcoming flights because of a schedule change. The zipper on my new suitcase is broken. I just found out that Tower Prep is most definitely not coming back for a second season. I lost the $40 I got from the ATM yesterday. I'm way behind in my work. And I'm out of chocolate pudding.
It's a Monday.
And since I don't feel like re-living my pain by blogging about it, I'll just share a cool sale I found on an app I like. If you'll ever need to access your Mac or PC remotely from an iPad or iPhone, there's a great solution that's currently on sale. Read on...
Ooh... look! I'm working in Photoshop on my Mac...
Actually I am on my iPad at home working in Photoshop on my Mac back at the office...
This is nothing new. I once assembled, designed, and sent an email campaign on my office Mac from my iPhone while standing in line at Disney World 2500 miles away. Remote access from computer-to-computer or device-to-computer has been around for quite a long while. What's different is how much better the tools are getting. For somebody like me who travels a lot, this has been a Very Big Deal. And now the cream of the crop in remote access has released a new version, the amazing Splashtop 2, and it's on sale for a limited time...
Works as advertised. If anything, they under-sell it. You'll need to pay for an "Access Anywhere" account to use the automated login connection... it's a total bargain at $9.99 a year / 99¢ a month.
Here's a link to the iOS app for iOS-to-Mac or iOS-to-Windows. (Reg. $9.99 NOW $2.99 for a limited time!)
Here's a link to the Mac app for Mac-to-Mac or Mac-to-Windows. (Reg. $19.99 NOW $2.99 for a limited time!)
If you need to remotely access a Mac or Windows machine from an iOS device, I give Splashtop 2 my highest recommendation.
Posted on Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
First of all... Matlock? NNNNOOOoooooo!
Cool images courtesy of CERN
Anybody with any respect for particle physics who still thinks referring to the Higgs boson as "The God Particle" should read this. Oh how I loathe that incredibly stupid nickname...
And now... onward...
Posted on Wednesday, July 4th, 2012
Happy Birthday, USA!
Despite my complete and total disgust over the heinous political divide that will probably be your downfall, I still love you.
Oh... and good luck with that whole election thing come November. You're going to need it.
Posted on Thursday, July 5th, 2012
The good thing about taking those late, late-night, red-eye flights? Well... if you're connecting to another flight, sometimes you can save a chunk of money because you're connecting to a cheap, early-ass flight that nobody wants to bother with. You're also saving money because you don't have to get a hotel that night, and can just sleep on the plane. Also, if you have premium flyer status, your odds of getting upgraded to First Class are scary-good. On the surface, it's a good deal all the way around. The only penalty being that you are flying overnight at a late hour, which can be a bit rough on a person mentally and physically.
Well, that's not the only penalty...
So, do the positives outweigh the negatives?
Well... right now I'm tempted to say no. Waiting here for my delayed flight with total insanity going on around me is the stuff of nightmares. And I have never been able to sleep on a plane no matter how tired I am.
Except... I am getting three days vacation at an insanely cheap cost before I have to fly to work, so I'm not sure.
Guess I'll know once it's all over.
Posted on Friday, July 6th, 2012
I'm not a sun-worshipper. I'm not one to lay around on a beach all day. I'm not a fan of high heat and humidity. So I'm the one who experiences a secret glee when I hear that there will be overcast skies and scattered thundershowers when I'm headed to a tropical destination. It'll still be hot, of course, but at least I'll be shielded from the sun and the rain will make it so there's a reason for the humidity.
Except the forecast was a lie, and so here I am in the Bahamas with blue skies and unrelenting sun in full 95° heat. If I was into this kind of weather, I'd describe it as "perfect."
The view from my room pretty much sucks, doesn't it?
Oh well. At least the flight down was surreal... but nice...
The reason I am here is twofold...
I'm staying at a resort on Cable Beach, which is a pretty stretch of sand west of Nassau...
I was able to contain myself all of an hour before I hopped a taxi to Nassau, and Hard Rock #146 for me...
It's a nice, old-school cafe with plenty of memorabilia covering the walls. In other words, it's exactly what a Hard Rock should be...
The town of Nassau is kind of nice, if a bit touristy with all the cruise ships stopping by. I didn't feel like doing any of that kind of thing, but couldn't resist when I saw there was a PIRATE MUSEUM!!
They recreate a pirate village you can walk through along with a pirate ship and various dioramas to show what pirate life was like. They also have a bunch of trivia you can play along the way, which was pretty cool...
I have no idea what's going on here. I hope it's some freaky-ass attempt at surgery to alleviate back pain...
From there I wandered down to Junkanoo Beach...
One thing I've noticed so far is that the kids who live here are really well behaved. This adorable tyke was content to play quietly by himself while his family was swimming, which was a big contrast to the tourist kids who were screaming and yelling and going bat-shit insane as they terrorized the beach...
If I knew that the weather was going to be this beautiful, I would have brought my "real" camera instead of relying on my iPhone and my pocket shooter. Oh well, something is better than nothing...
My plans for tomorrow? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Though I'll probably venture away from the resort for a little while... especially if those overcast skies ever show up.
Posted on Saturday, July 7th, 2012
My big plans to do nothing today were destroyed at 9:26am.
But in a very good way.
Because that's when I got an email from a Blogography reader who got a text from her brother who saw that I was in Nassau... "DAVE! You're in the Bahamas? Come visit us in Atlantis! We promise to make it worth the trip!"
"Atlantis" is a resort on Paradise Island (formerly Hog Island) that's just north of Nassau. I investigated it when I was looking for a hotel here, but photos of the popular water park on the resort grounds showed that the place was overrun with kids, so I put it on my list of places to avoid.
But the idea of getting away for lunch was oddly appealing, so I got cleaned up and hopped in a taxi. Destination: Atlantis...
Now, usually, non-guests can only enter the Atlantis grounds by paying for a $135 day pass. It's a lot of money, but you do get to use the water park, pools, beaches, and all the other facilities... IF they have any passes available, since the number they sell depends on occupancy of the hotel. Fortunately, I didn't have to pay the money because my new friends just handed me one of their room keys, which is like a Golden Ticket to the grounds.
You don't have to have a pass to enter the Atlantis casino, of course. They're happy to take your money for free. And it's totally worth the trip, because they have four pieces by one of my favorite artists, Dale Chihuly!
Here's the Temple of the Sun...
And the Temple of the Moon...
And the Crystal Gate...
I couldn't find a name for this very cool chandelier. Perhaps it's "Temple of the Alien Intestines" or "Chandelier of the Flying Spaghetti Monster" or something. In any event, this photo doesn't do it justice. The piece is absolutely magnificent, and a little terrifying...
Using the magical powers of my friend's room key, I then got to see the water park, which features a giant water slide...
But the coolest thing I saw was the Atlantis Lazy River tube ride, which ends with a float through a big tube... THROUGH A GIANT SHARK TANK!!! Now, this the very definition of SHARK EXTREME!!
But the SHARK EXTREMENESS doesn't end there. Much to my amazement, there are sharks swimming around in the fountain pools on the resort grounds! No fences. No barriers. No nuthin'. You can just walk right up and look inside...
I guess the sharks are well fed by drunken tourists who accidentally fall into the predator-infested waters. But not everything is deadly at Atlantis. They have giant balloons in the shape of donuts and cupcakes too...
From there we wandered down to the Paradise Island marina. If you've got billions of dollars for a giant yacht, you can probably afford to berth here...
And then we got to the reason my blog friends thought that a trip to Atlantis would be worth the trouble...
ZOMG! There's a Johnny Rockets here! AND they had my vegetarian burgers in-stock! How amazing is that? Now I was really glad I decided to drag my lazy ass out of bed this morning!
After a great lunch, it was time to bid my friends goodbye and get back to my scheduled plans of doing nothing. The passenger ferry was just around the corner, so I decided to save money on a pricey taxi and just take a jitney bus from Nassau back "home" to Cable Beach. The ferry itself is an odd experience. The "ferries" are actually just rickety old boats that charge $4 to cross from Paradise Island to downtown...
It's not exactly a pleasant trip because it's sweltering hot, you can't see out very well, and you've got a "tour guide" screaming the entire trip (who expects to be tipped for "entertaining" you). I managed to get a few pictures off, but the boat wasn't exactly conducive to photography...
With three cruise ships in town, Nassau was beyond packed, so I bolted for the jitney stop and my $1.25 ride back to my hotel.
And here I am, hurrying through this blog post so I can put the excitement of my day behind me and get back to the important business of doing nothing.
Well, not exactly nothing...
A few more of these and it will finally be a vacation...
Posted on Sunday, July 8th, 2012
Well... uhhh... that was an interesting night. Or so it would seem. Things are a little... fuzzy... right now in my brain.
After I started drinking, I apparently decided not to stop. I totally blame the group of enablers I hung out with at the bar. Well, that and the fact that this KALIK beer they have here is pretty darn tasty. I cannot, however, offer any explanation for the two shots of tequila that were on my bar tab. Except to say that it was probably because they didn't have Jägermeister...
At some point I noticed the sun was setting, so I decided to run down to the beach and take a photo. I ended up tripping in the sand and crashing into a palm tree, but I still managed to get the shot...
As I was limping back to the bar, I saw people eating popsicles. Since I hadn't eaten dinner yet, I decided that was the perfect thing to have.
And since I was a good boy and totally finished all my popsicle dinner, I rewarded myself with another beer for dessert.
I don't know what I was rewarding myself for with the four beers that followed... but they were on my bill, so I'm sure I must have totally deserved them.
Eventually everybody decided to go to the casino. It sounded like a great idea at the time, but I was completely drunk so I probably wasn't in the best shape to be making decisions. Fortunately, I also wasn't in the best shape to remember how to get money out of a cash machine, so I only lost the $20 I had on me. At least I think it was $20. Let's see... I started the day with $50... minus $24 taxi to Paradise Island... $4 for the ferry... $1.25 for the jitney bus... so yeah, $20 pissed away (give or take). I can live with that, I guess.
When I finally dragged my drunken banged-up body back to my room, I took this picture of myself...
I'm not sure why. Probably because I was surprised to have gotten so sunburned considering I was only wandering around Atlantis for a little over three hours. Guess the sun here is mighty powerful.
The time-stamp on the photo is 12:47am, so I'm guessing I was in bed by 1:00am.
I woke up around 7:30 this morning with quite a lot of pain in my knee and shoulder, but barely a hangover. I was going to chalk this up as a WIN! until I saw my shorts laying on the floor with the back pocket half-way ripped off. Which means my right ass cheek was exposed for heaven-only-knows how long last night. I hope I was wearing boxers underneath, but that's debatable considering I was buck-nekkid when I climbed out of bed. I'm pretty sure it didn't happen when I fell into the palm tree, so I have no clue when... or how... it happened.
The only thing I really wanted to do in the Bahamas (other than nothing) was to go diving. Unfortunately, I am still poor thanks to buying my new MacBook, so I knew early on that it wasn't going to happen. This trip may have been ridiculously cheap, but it was no excuse to rack up debt on my credit card with some dives. The plan was to use my "resort credit" to pay for most of my meals, and not spend more than the $150 I brought with me ($50 a day) for everything else.
Never mind that I blew past my entire resort credit by $62 because I ran up a massive bar tab last night... I'm sticking to the plan, dammit! I now have -$12 to spend on for my last day. I guess this means I'll be selling myself down on the beach tonight so I can afford dinner. Here's hoping some sugar-momma (or sugar-daddy, because you can't be picky about these things) likes men with their ass hanging out of their shorts.
In the meanwhile, I suppose I'll see what I can do with my -$12.
There's still no sign of the scattered thundershowers I've been promised three days in a row now... so maybe I'll lay by the pool and read a book. The sun is just now peering over the East Tower, so I'm sure the courtyard will be flooded with an ungodly amount of sunshine any minute now...
Because, hey, I've already got the start of a really good sunburn, why not take it all the way?
But first I have to drag my lazy ass out of bed so I can make my way down to the lobby and post this to my blog*. It's 8:40 now, so I'm hoping to make it by 11:00.
*I'd post this from my room, but the internet here is wired. Since the new MacBook Retina doesn't have an ethernet port, I'm sans internet. Technology: it's not always all it's cracked up to be.
Posted on Monday, July 9th, 2012
And here we are with a Very Special Edition of "Bahamian Bullets on Monday" where I answer questions and write observations from my time in the Bahamas. So don't flip that calendar... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Money! Bahamian dollars are completely interchangeable with US dollars, since the currency of the Bahamas is tied to the US exchange rate... until you leave the Bahamas... at which time any Bahamian dollars you might be carrying are practically worthless. Not that you'll see many Bahamian dollars. Thanks to the massive tourist trade with the States, you'll see a lot more US money than anything else. A friend asked me to get her a Bahamian $3 bill as a souvenir, but I couldn't find one...
Eventually I managed to trade for a $1 bill that a jitney driver collected, since it was the only currency of the Bahamas I ever saw. I don't understand why the Bahamian government doesn't just print a bunch of $3 bills that souvenir shops could put in a plastic sleeve and sell for $5 each. Everybody would win. The government would be printing money that would rarely be circulated (thus bringing money into the country for nothing), and shop owners are getting a big return on an investment that never loses value.
• Jitney! I have no idea about "the jitney that the Sex and the City characters rode to The Hamptons"... but the "jitney" here in the Bahamas is a nickname for the local shared bus service (the name "jitney" having migrated from the US). From what I can tell, anybody with a bus can get a permit to run designated routes around the islands. Since I was staying at Cable Beach, I rode the #10 each day which runs from there to Downtown Nassau and back. In my case, they were a cheap ($1.25) alternative to a pricey taxi ($15.00+tip). But you do get what you pay for. Jitneys are almost always older vehicles, and many are busted to shit...
And I mean that literally... some of them are falling apart. The one I rode to dinner last night didn't have working air conditioning. But that's okay, because the door was broken and wouldn't close, so we had plenty of fresh air blowing in...
Despite being a bit dangerous, it was a beautiful old broken-down door with a lot of history...
And speaking of danger, you could literally be taking your life in your own hands when riding. When I stepped into my seat, my foot went through the floor. The plate snapped back up, but I spent most of the trip wondering if my seat was going to fall through...
Jitneys are a cheap way to get around and are everywhere. They're also fairly convenient, stopping many places along their route. But since the bus doesn't leave until full (and I mean really full, since seats fold down into the aisles), you sometimes have a bit of a wait at a start-point, but it's a small price to pay for the money you save.
I heard a few stories about how jitneys are not very well regulated, and it's not unheard of for drivers to be drunk or on drugs while operating their vehicles. Even worse, there have been incidents of violence and rape reportedly involving jitney drivers. It's probably not a good idea to ride in them at odd hours or in remote areas, but I had no problems at all the half-dozen times I rode them. Scary, broken vehicles aside, the drivers I saw were always courteous... helpful even... and seemed competent in their jobs. But I was on a major tourist route, so I can't really speak to what things are like around the rest of the island.
• Mural! I was asked about the little pirate guy who closed out my post on day one. He's not mine... he's part of a mural downtown...
It's called "Hello Nassau" by "Thundercut" and is part of a public murals project sponsored by Coke...
There are a few of them around that I saw...
Pretty cool, huh?
• Resort! While I was in the lobby of the Sheraton using the wireless internet (since my new MacBook Pro Retina doesn't have an ethernet port for the wired internet in my room), I watched a guy have a complete meltdown because he went to pay his bill and found out there was a $40 per day "Resort Fee" that was due. I had gotten a discount rate, but even then I was notified about the fee. Sure, it's kind of a bait-and-switch deal to be reeled in at one price and then have to pay a huge add-on fee, but it was clearly stated, and so I knew to expect it.
Then I got to wondering if Sheraton doesn't tell you about the fee if you book from their site, because that would make me pretty mad. But, nope, they absolutely show you the final price (and if you click on the total, you see the $40 fee added)...
But what if the guy booked at a third party site? I usually book my hotels at Orbitz, so I gave them a try. Nope, they too show the "Local Charges Due at Hotel" right after the price, which works out to be that $40 per night...
Then I checked Expedia. And here's where things get strange. They don't show any fees or taxes attached to the rate at all when you are reviewing what they have available...
But then you scroll down and see something remarkable... they claim the resort fee is already included in the rate! The same $159 rate that Sheraton and Orbitz are adding a fee to!
Thinking that this is a trick because the "total price" isn't displayed until the next page, I clicked onward...
There we go! They add the $40 resort fee in with their "$68.62 a night Taxes and Fees." Which means that their "Best Price Guarantee" is bullshit at $682.86 when Orbitz would total $679.35 (even though $120 of that would be paid directly to Sheraton at check-out).
I can't check all the hotel booking sites, obviously, but it really doesn't matter. If the guy booked through Sheraton, Orbitz, or Expedia... he knew the total rate. If he booked at some other site that didn't warn him about the resort fee, he should be yelling at them... NOT THE POOR GIRL AT THE RECEPTION DESK!
In any event, it's word to the wise to always always always check the fine print whenever you book a hotel, car, cruise, or whatever. Shady stuff like this is getting more and more common as companies use hidden fees to avoid paying taxes... or to make their rates look better.
• Return! When you land at Nassau's airport (which isn't anywhere near Nassau, curiously enough... it's on the other side of the island), there are at least a half-dozen signs telling you that when you return to the airport, YOU NEED TO ARRIVE THREE HOURS EARLY IF YOU ARE TRAVELING TO THE UNITED STATES. There's even a sign posted on the baggage carousel where you wait for your luggage that's staring at you in big letters.
When it was time for me to fly back to the good ol' USA, I followed instructions and arrived THREE HOURS EARLY. I was kind of glad too, because the line at customs was quite short, but still took me 35 minutes to clear. Had the line been all the way to the door, it could have easily taken me two hours to get through it.
So there we are sitting on the plane when an announcement is made. There's 15 people still stuck in customs, so they're holding the plane.
Why in the fuck did I bother showing up three hours early then? If I would have know that I could have just ignored the signs and showed up whenever the hell I wanted to, I would have slept in an extra hour!
Then, after a half hour, they announced there were still eight people in line for customs, and it was moving slow because there was only one counter open... so we were just going to continue to wait for them.
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?
Everybody who arrived at the airport THREE HOURS EARLY... AS INSTRUCTED... was already on the plane. Why in the hell are we still waiting on people who couldn't be bothered to get to the airport on time? How is this our fault? I don't give a shit if customs decided to close ALL the fucking counters... people who showed up on time made it through... BECAUSE THEY SHOWED UP ON TIME!!! Stop blaming customs for the problem... they weren't the ones who made the people show up late to the airport. AND STOP PUNISHING THE PEOPLE WHO FOLLOWED INSTRUCTIONS AND MADE IT TO CHECK-IN THREE HOURS EARLY LIKE THEY WERE TOLD TO!
I am sick and fucking tired of companies pandering to the lowest common denominator. All it does is remove consequences for idiots who can't be bothered to follow the rules like everybody else. Well, guess what? If you keep removing consequences for being stupid... people are going to continue to do stupid shit. Do you think any of the people that showed up late to the airport will bother to be on time next time? Of course not! And why should they? You're just going to hold the plane for them!
Is it any wonder that this country is going down the crapper and American companies are going bankrupt? Keep rewarding stupid often enough, that's all you're going to have left.
And, on that tragic note, I've got a couple hours work that needs doing before I can turn in for the night, so I must bid you adieu...
Posted on Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
And so Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson has gone and messed up their airport.
Back in May, they opened up their new "Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal" which handles all foreign flights. In theory, it's great, because it means you no longer have to claim your bag, then re-check your bag, then re-claim your bag again if Atlanta is your final destination on an inbound flight. Instead you just grab your bag and waltz directly out of the building to your car and... voilà!... you're on your way.
Assuming you drove your own car to the International Terminal and paid their hideously expensive parking rates.
If you didn't, Atlanta International Airport has just screwed you and you don't even know it.
But you will.
Since I (obviously) didn't drive to the International Terminal (my car is back in Seattle), I had to get back to the main terminal so I could catch a hotel shuttle. But there is no train to take you back. Instead you have to wait 5 minutes for a bus... wait another 20 minutes for the bus to fill up... wait another 15 minutes to drive all the way back to the Main Terminal... then wait for your luggage to be unloaded... then wait for traffic... then walk to the hotel shuttle area where you needed to be all along SO YOU CAN WAIT EVEN MORE for your shuttle.
Which, needless to say, IS A HUGE FUCKING WASTE OF TIME!
So now I absolutely HATE flying into Atlanta on an International flight, and will avoid it at all costs. Or at least UNTIL THEY BUILD A TRAIN LOOP TO TAKE YOU BACK TO THE MAIN TERMINAL LIKE THEY SHOULD HAVE DONE IN THE FIRST PLACE! I mean, they can build a damn train FOR MILES out to the car rental center, but extending the EXISTING terminal train A MEASLY 500 FEET and adding a secure car to take exiting passengers back to the Main Terminal was too difficult? Apparently so. Or maybe they were too damn stupid to think of it.
But Seattle... frickin' SEATTLE... has figured out how to do this. It's EMBARRASSING that Atlanta... ONE OF THE BUSIEST AIRPORTS IN THE WORLD... has their head up their asses by thinking this absurd "bussing" idiocy is anything other than COMPLETE AND TOTAL BULLSHIT.
It's like the stupid-ass city I live in. The one thing we need where I work? More parking spaces. The one thing they made sure to eliminate when they re-designed the street? THAT'S RIGHT... THEY GOT RID OF PARKING SPACES!
Everywhere you look... from city planners to airport designers... the people in charge don't seem to know what in the hell they're doing. Nor do they give a crap. And why should they? They can just start screaming some bullshit about "saving money" or "having to make hard choices" (or whatever) to justify their short-sightedness. No more taking the time and money to do things right... it's all about making sure there's enough money in the project to pay their huge salaries, and everything else is negotiable. And the consequences? Well, for Atlanta-bound international travelers who just want to take the damn train into the city? FUCK 'EM! JUST FUCK'EM!! They can waste their time riding a stupid-ass BUS for a half hour to get to the MARTA train station! Who gives a shit about THEM?!?
And welcome to Atlanta!
Ever since getting my new MacBook, I've been increasingly fascinated with the pixel density of its beautiful "Retina Display." Everything looks so frickin' amazing on it that I have a really hard time looking at non-Retina-enhanced visuals now... especially when browsing the web. Most websites are built to deliver 72dpi graphics, which end up look pretty bad. And so I've been experimenting with photos here on my blog, trying to figure out how to delivery hi-res images without breaking things for readers who don't have Retina-type displays.
The easiest way is to just double-size all your images. I tried this in my last entry with the picture of the jitney door. It's actual size is 800x1200 pixels, but I define it as 400x600 in the HTML. So now Retina displays get a sharp image to look at, and non-Retina displays just toss out every-other pixel...
Detail of Non-Retina low-res on the Left... Retina double-res on the Right
The problem is this... visitors who don't have Retina displays are downloading much larger images with no benefit at all. Since their browser is just tossing 3/4 of the data, this seems wasteful of their time and bandwidth. And, unlike Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, I give a crap about the people who spend their time visiting me.
And so now I just have to figure out the best way to approach this. All the easy solutions have serious drawbacks in one way or another, so it'll probably take some time and research to get it sorted. But hopefully, if you're visiting with an iPhone 4, New iPad, MacBook Retina, HTC One X, HTC Rezound, etc. - it will be worth the effort.
Posted on Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
The weather started out hot with blue skies today. I know this because I saw it with my own two eyes when I went out to lunch.
Around 5:00 it started raining. Hard.
This killed what little ambition I had to go out for dinner, so I decided to just keep working in my room. Since I had a packet of Chips Ahoy! cookies, I knew I wouldn't starve. "On the positive side, maybe the rain will make the cicadas shut up and I can fall asleep easier tonight," I thought to myself.
But then the rain stopped around 8:30 and the cicadas came out louder than ever. Boy am I glad that these noisemakers haven't made it up to Washington State yet.
So now I'm going to try and fall asleep knowing that Walking Dead zombies AND thousands of creepy bugs are screeching to get inside and eat my face off.
Because I'm just that delicious.
Bleh. Now I'm hungry. I guess a packet of cookies can only do so much.
What I need right now is an off switch.
Posted on Thursday, July 12th, 2012
Whenever anybody outside of Washington State asks where I'm from, I just say "Seattle" because that's pretty much the only place in Washington that anybody has ever heard of. Seattle, of course has a reputation for rain (which is true... but not quite to the extreme as people might believe).
Anyway, it's been pouring down rain here in Georgia, which has people who know I'm from "Seattle" saying "thanks for bringing the rain with you!" But not sarcastically, as usual! Apparently, there's been quite a dry spell, and farmers are glad to be getting some moisture this summer.
Though, if the forecast is any indication, they'll be happy I'm leaving this weekend...
In the meanwhile, it is crazy wet outside, so I'm doing my best to stay indoors.
Which is good because I need to be working, except... Adobe has a big problem with their software running on the new MacBooks and MacBook Airs. For example, Adobe InDesign (the program I use to do page layout for things like THRICE Fiction Magazine) crashes a horrible death almost constantly. I've scoured for tips on how to make it happen less often, but it's still an impossible situation. So now I am in the horrible position of having to wait until I get home before I can finish a number of projects that are due... including the latest issue of THRICE Fiction Magazine.
This sucks so hard.
Almost as hard as the length of my work day. Right now I am so exhausted that the only thing that keeps me going is 5-Hour Energy shots and cookies. But the cumulative effect of downing three 5-Hour Energy shots to stay awake the past 15 hours is starting to make my brain haze over. The fact that I've got another four hours left to go doesn't bode well for my sanity.
Now, if you'll excuse me, a sea urchin just waddled up to my desk and asked me if I want to go see a movie with him and his friend the kangaroo (who, oddly enough, is named "Mr. Camel"). Since I could use a break, I think I'm going to accompany them... though I hope it's not another art-house cinema festival, because last time I never did manage to get the smell of popcorn out of my ferret.
Posted on Friday, July 13th, 2012
Problems arise when I travel all the time. But I'm not accustomed to having problems when dealing with those problems. I have a stack of loyalty cards... frequent guest cards... preferred guest cards... etc... which make dealing with problems not so problematic. When something comes up, the airline/hotel/rental-car/whatever takes a look at my credentials and makes it go away. It's one of the perks of being a frequent traveler, because your repeat business is something these companies value. They do whatever they can to keep you coming back.
But every once in a while...
This morning after a 45-minute nap, the only sleep I'd had in 23 hours, I had to get back to the airport to turn in my rental car by 10am. My plan was to then go directly to the hotel and get an early check-in so I could catch up on some sleep.
But the hotel was having none of it. No matter how great a customer I was.
They were overbooked with a convention and, unlike previous times I wanted a room early, there was nothing they could rush to clean so I could get some sleep. In fact, they had no idea when I might get a room... even at their usual 3:00 check-in time.
Well this was something new.
After wandering around the lobby in a daze for ten minutes, I eventually decided to drop off my suitcase, drink my fifth
The movie I decided to see? TED! The story of a teddy bear that comes to life and the life-long friendship he has with the kid he grows up with.
It wasn't as funny as I expected.
It wasn't as raunchy as I had been led to believe.
But it hits far more often than it misses, and I really enjoyed the film. Yes, it's reminiscent of director/star Seth McFarlane's other work (namely, Family Guy) but it has a surprising amount of heart, some genuine laughs, the creepiest dance scene ever recorded, some great 80's-related homages, and (most importantly) a lead character that's about as real and believable as he could possibly be (despite being a teddy bear). Definitely some R-rated stuff, but worth your valuable time to check out.
Lunch was at Johnny Rockets, because I just can't help myself.
Then I took a train back to the airport at 2:30... finally got my room at 3:15... then got dressed and took another train back into the city so I could have a last-minute dinner with some - bloggers - of - great - importance, which is my favorite thing to do in Atlanta.
Despite having 45-minutes sleep in 38 hours, I was never really tired. I guess that's the power of keeping active with fun stuff to do... and loading-up on energy drinks.
I'm going to keep this in mind as I try to busy myself before my 7:30pm flight home tomorrow...
Posted on Saturday, July 14th, 2012
Out of the corner of my eye I caught a woman at the airport trying to "secretly" take my picture with her mobile phone. "Well that's odd, I thought to myself," as I started waving at her frantically. Then I raised up my iPhone to take her picture, which caused her to disappear like a fart in the wind.
I tried to think back to what I was doing that was so fascinating that it merited a photo. Was I scratching my balls or something? I couldn't recall. Possibly? Probably. Hell, there really is no privacy now-a-days.
You can even spy on me in mid-air if you want.
Or I can spy on myself.
According to FlightView, I'm flying over Nebraska at 34,000 feet right now...
And while I am not currently scratching my balls, I've been thinking about it ever since I wrote about wondering about scratching my balls two minutes ago.
Guess now I'll have something to do at baggage claim while I'm waiting for my suitcase to arrive.
Get your cameras ready...
Posted on Sunday, July 15th, 2012
Take time to be kind... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Rude! About an hour after I posted from 34,000 feet above Nebraska yesterday, the flight turned to crap because of the asshole sitting across the aisle from me. He was argumentative, belligerent, hostile, and otherwise douchey towards the flight attendants... and it was just awful to have to sit there and watch him treat the hard-working cabin crew so badly. It took every ounce of my will power to keep from punching him in his stupid face and telling him to shut the fuck up, but I had no choice. Had I even just told him to calm down and stop being a jerk, the consequences for me could have ended up being tragically bad if he got violent. Because then I would have punched him in the face. I may be a wimpy guy, but there is no question I could have beat the ever-loving' shit out of him. The turd was in really bad shape and I'm guessing he would have had a heart attack in short order had he squared off with me. So my hat's off to the flight attendant who managed to keep the situation under control. That is absolutely something I could not have done. I know I've said it before, but I am seeing this kind of self-entitled assholery more and more in the First Class cabin and, if it weren't for the extra leg-room and space to work, I'd be longing for the days I never got upgraded and always flew coach.
• Family! After dinner on Friday night, we were all passing by a van that had a very unique take on the whole "stick figure family" fad on the back window...
Sick! And so very, very disturbing and wrong. And yet... funneh. I cannot figure out how I feel about this from one minute to the next.
• CAAAAAAAHHHN! Every year I read all the reports coming out of Comic-Con, I am dying to attend. And yet, the two times I did attend, the crowds and lack of planning had me swearing never to return. If only they would videotape all the events... I would gladly pay to watch them online. What I don't understand is why they're passing on this obviously lucrative revenue stream. I doubt it would affect attendance in any measurable way... especially if it were offered up on pay-per-view after Comic-Con was over. Talk about your win-win scenarios... what am I missing?
And... I've got a very early drive home in the morning, so I guess three bullets it is then tonight.
Posted on Monday, July 16th, 2012
I was very sad indeed to learn that beloved children's author Donald J. Sobol has died. When I was a kid, I was positively obsessed with his Encyclopedia Brown books... so much so that I would re-read them over and over again, even though I already knew how the stories would end. I pretty much had to, because there were less than a dozen of them at the time. I also remember reading Sobol's Two-Minute Mysteries, but I think there were only two of those books.
Even after outgrowing Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective, I would still revisit the books on occasion... like when I saw them in the library or something. I think the last one I read was just two years ago. Because they're just that entertaining...
And orange. So very, very orange.
The drive back home this morning was relatively uneventful.
If you discount all the screaming I did when people were driving in the passing lane... WHILE DRIVING TEN MILES UNDER THE SPEED LIMIT WITHOUT PASSING ANYBODY! Could not possibly explain in mere words how badly that pisses me off.
What I need now is a chocolate chip cookie...
Posted on Tuesday, July 17th, 2012
It is really thundering out there. Here's hoping the walls stay standing.
And so the final rushes for THRICE Fiction No. 5 have been sent off to the Editor in Chief. Once RW has had a chance to approve everything, I'll start running out all the various files needed to unleash our fifth issue on the world.
This has been a rougher ride to completion than usual thanks to a bug with Adobe InDesign on my new MacBook. I ended up losing a full week of work-time while I was in Nassau and Atlanta, so... instead of being able to get ahead while I was traveling, I ended up getting way behind.
It's always something.
And right now... it's lightning and rain to go along with the thunder...
Gotta love a summer storm.
Posted on Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
I love LEGO. I love comic books. I love video games. And I really, really love Batman. So when you find something that combines all these wonderful things into a single product, you'd pretty much assume that it was the most awesome thing every made. You'd almost be correct.
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is the sequel to one of my favorite games of all time, LEGO Batman: The Videogame. Unsurprisingly, the company behind the magic, Traveler's Tales, has attempted to make it a bigger, badder, better sequel in every way. They mostly succeed because of two things... 1) The game is huge, and has the entirety of Gotham City available as an open-world zone, and 2) Batman & Robin are joined by a bunch of other heroes from throughout the DC Universe. The end-result is far from perfect, but so much fun that it's easy to overlook the flaws...
And speaking of flaws, I might as well get the bad news out of the way...
First of all, there isn't much new here. If you've played the LEGO Star Wars games, LEGO Indiana Jones games, LEGO Harry Potter games, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean games, or the previous LEGO Batman... you've played this. But you already knew that would be the case.
Secondly, the "driving" levels are still just as pointless, shitty, and impossible to control as ever. Why Traveler's Tales ignores the criticism from, well, everybody, when it comes to the sloppy controls, redundant gameplay, and overall frustration on every LEGO driving game they've made is a complete mystery to me.
Third, the new "open-world" that allows you to explore a sprawling Gotham City is a fantastic addition to the game (especially when you are flying above it all as Superman!)... but navigating it is a hellish ordeal because there's no HUD or mini-map or decent navigation tool to help you get around. I have no clue whatsoever as to why Traveler's Tales ignored this basic video game staple, but it's an oversight that seriously undermines the fun to be had.
Putting all that aside, there's some new stuff that's kind of cool...
In addition to the "open-world" that I can't shut up about, Batman and Robin each get a new specialty suits, which is always cool, but the addition of characters like Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, and others, mix up the game even more. That's beyond cool.
As expected, the stories are funny, the visuals are fantastic, the levels are nicely designed, and the puzzles are really well done. What was unexpected was the characters talk! No longer reduced to pantomime for communication, the LEGO mini-figs have entirely new appeal now that they can actually talk. Bonus? The voice talent they got was perfect.
But the biggest improvement? I didn't find myself falling off things nearly as often as I did in previous LEGO video games. I still have nightmares of dying again and again and again as I tried to jump from platform to stupid platform with the insane precision required in LEGO Star Wars, so this is a welcome relief.
Everything else is pretty much more of the same as all the other LEGO games. Team-play is still available so you and a friend can battle together. You still have to button-mash your way through redundant combat as you solve puzzles. You still have to collect LEGO studs, red bricks, gold bricks, and other stuff so you can unlock characters and features. You still can't really die. And once you finish all the levels, you still have untold hours of gameplay left as you obsess over collecting every last prize and achievement to be found by replaying levels as different characters.
Needless to say, I love it.
Next up? LEGO Lord of the Rings... I can't possibly imagine how awesome that game will be.
Posted on Thursday, July 19th, 2012
Unusually humid and 90° Fahrenheit with more thunderstorms on the way?
Not my favorite weather.
And so another episode of THRICE Fiction has been put to bed. This issue has some amazing stuff in it, arrives wrapped in a beautiful cover by Kyra Wilson, and it's absolutely FREE to download, so what are you waiting for? Head on over to our official site and grab a copy!
As I was on a conference call this morning, I took the time to write up some "Art Director Notes" which discusses my thinking behind all the visuals that are in this issue. If you're interested in that kind of thing, I've put it all in an extended entry. Needless to say, SPOILERS abound, so you might want to go read the issue before you click through...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Friday, July 20th, 2012
Much to my shock, The Local Strangers... a band I actually like, took the time to stop by my little corner of Redneckistan to play a show. Things like this doesn't happen here very often. Which is not to say that we don't have any good local bands or that no musicians ever come to Wenatchee, far from it, it's just that the stuff I like rarely stops by. I mean, I don't see Matt & Kim or Depeche Mode adding us to their tour plans or anything.
I first heard of The Local Strangers last year when I was working in Seattle. I was hanging out with some friends who decided they wanted to go out. I didn't, but they said there was a really good local band playing, so I had to ask "who are they?" One of my friends Googled the band and said it was Aubrey Zoli... and Matt Hart, who was from Chicago. This rang a bell, but I couldn't put my finger on it. And then something clicked... "Wait... Matt Hart from Chicago... as in Matt Hart from Cobalt and the Hired Guns, Matt Hart? Well this I gotta see."
Cobalt and the Hired Guns is a local Chicago band that a colleague introduced me to when I was working there a while back. He was a big fan, and I ended up catching their show twice. Cobalt is a great band that makes some really fun music (they have a new album out that's worth a listen!), and I became a fan as well.
Turns out it was indeed that Matt Hart, who was now in Seattle making incredible music with the beautiful voice of Aubrey Zoli as The Local Strangers. Who I got to see again tonight...
A really great show from an incredible live band.
Not so long ago, Ms. Sizzle made me aware of a Kickstarter campaign to fund The Local Strangers' first full-length album. I immediately signed on for a Lifetime Membership, and was thrilled when the campaign was successful. Then last night Aubrey and Matt announced a release date of November 9th for the album and I can't wait.
If you want to listen to what the band is all about for FREE, just go to their website and sign up for their email list so they can let you know when they're playing in your area... you'll then get a link to download their two EPs which is a terrific sampling of their music.
Needless to say, if they're performing near you, it's a show well worth checking out.
Posted on Saturday, July 21st, 2012
I don't want to see a world that's so bleak and devoid of color right now.
Fortunately, there are other places to look...
...or so I would imagine.
Posted on Sunday, July 22nd, 2012
Put down that beverage... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
Or maybe not. Maybe you should pick up that beverage again and order another. That's what I'm going to do. Right after I edit out all the nastiest bits of this nasty Bullet Sunday in an effort to make it be not-so-nasty. I've had enough nasty for the week.
• Rewarding Failure. Despite being a total Mac Whore, I don't hate Microsoft.
• Unfathomable Stupidity. I've never hid my disgust and loathing of Rush Limbaugh as everything that's wrong with this country. He incites hatred by telling lies to a huge audience who never questions the bullshit he's peddling. This week he hit an all-time low by calling a near-twienty-year-old Batman villain, Bane, a conspiracy by the filmmakers behind The Dark Night Rises to undermine Mitt Romney's presidential bid by reminding people he worked for Bain Capital.
• Darkest Night. The horrible tragedy in Aurora, Colorado is a horrific reminder of the world we live in.
• Chik Chuck. When a successful company proudly announces that they support organizations which fight for inequality, bigotry, and hatred... you kind of have to wonder why they're a successful company.
• Political Animals. Sigourney Weaver is one of my favorite actresses because she's appeared in so many of my favorite movies... Ghostbusters, Galaxy Quest, Alien, Aliens, Dave, Paul, The Cabin in the Woods, and WALL-E to name a few. So when I heard she was going to be appearing on television(!) in a new show called Political Animals, nothing could keep me from tuning in. And I wasn't disappointed. Such a deliciously good show with a really good cast.
• Two Birds. My favorite email client is called "Sparrow." It is beautifully simple yet very powerful, which is everything you want when it comes to your software. Unfortunately, Sparrow was bought out by Google, who promptly stopped development on the Mac and iPhone apps. While I can't blame the developers for taking the Big Google Payday, I'm still a little bitter about it. Just like Gowalla before them, it seems as though surprisingly little consideration was given to all the customers who got them where they are.
• Michele Bachmann. Surprise surprise. This weeks' installment of bat-shit crazy comes courtesy of the Queen of Bat-Shit Crazy.
Annnnnd... I want a fresh start in a fresh week now.
Posted on Monday, July 23rd, 2012
There's a moment at the end of every episode of the Perry Mason television show where defense attorney Perry has the real killer on the witness stand and starts hammering away with the Horrible Truth of what actually happened. With unrelenting escalation, he details the murderer's dirty deeds step by step and concludes with angry words that lash out at their lies like a bullwhip... "Isn't it true? Isn't it all true?"
Then the murderer breaks down as Perry thunders "I have no more questions! The defense rests!"
I am so sick and frickin' tired of the non-stop LYING that I am being bombarded with in all these damn political attack ads that I'm about ready to vomit.
I honestly feel that every time that a candidate LIES in one of their ads, they should have to defend their bullshit to a Perry-Mason-type-honesty-advocate so he can can get to the truth. Then, after they are exposed as being filthy LIARS, the polticians have to issue a new ad with a full retraction that airs on every channel the lie was told on, and double the number of times that the original LIE had aired.
Maybe with a punishment that severe, all these filthy, disgusting, scumbag, asshole LYING politicians would think twice about running ads they know to be false.
Then we should then move on to doing the same thing for LIES told in interviews and at campaign stops. Every damn time a politician goes somewhere and tells a LIE, they have to go back to that place, apologize, then admit to everybody that they are nothing but a piece of shit LIAR.
Of course, if Perry Mason was chasing down these LYING LIARS, we'd be hip-deep in apology ads well into October.
But, alas, there don't seem to be any consequences for being a douchebag LIAR politician, so I guess that's what we're stuck with from here on out. Oh happy day.
UPDATE! And here, two days later, is exactly what I was talking about...
Genius. And right on the money.
Posted on Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
I worked from the moment I got up at 7:00am to this very minute where I've climbed into bed at midnight. I am so hopelessly behind that I should be working still, but there's a limit as to how long you can stare at a computer screen without going crazy. Though I did take off a half-hour for dinner and an hour to go Gold Brick hunting in LEGO Batman 2... so there's that. I probably shouldn't have wasted time with a video game, but flying around Gotham City as little LEGO Superman is too amazing to pass up...
And every time you take off for the sky, that brilliant John Williams theme song from Superman: The Movie starts playing, which is awesome in twenty different directions.
Here's hoping LEGO Batman 3 is not far off, because it will be very interesting to see how they plan on topping this game.
And now I should probably at least try and get some sleep. Tomorrow is going to be another insane day.
Posted on Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
My first three installs of Apple's latest OS X update, code-named Mountain Lion, went off without a hitch.
But the fourth time was not a charm, and so now my iMac is randomly crashing then rebooting every half-hour or so. Needless to say, I'm thrilled. Turning off everything I've got installed (even if it works fine on my other Mountain Lion Macs) didn't help. A clean install didn't help either. So now I'm wondering if it's a firmware update I missed, but nothing is showing up for that either. Blargh. I really don't have time for this crap...
I guess I need to sacrifice a goat to Steve Jobs or something. This really blows.
Posted on Thursday, July 26th, 2012
And so Apple's latest release of Mac OS X "Mountain Lion" has turned out to be a festering pile of shit. Which I admit is a pretty unfair comparison, because at least I could fertilize the flower bed with the festering pile of shit and get something beautiful out of it. With "Mountain Lion" it's just misery on top of misery, making this the first OS upgrade in the history of Apple Computer that I deeply regret having installed. Despite Apple's claim of over "200 more features"... the number of features I'd actually use are incredibly small, making this a pretty much featureless upgrade for me anyway. The fact that it has hopelessly fucked two of the four computers I've installed it on is just icing on the shit cake.
As I mentioned yesterday, my new iMac is randomly crashing and rebooting for no reason I can figure... even with a total re-install. This makes getting work done incredibly stressful, and I find myself saving documents every two minutes just in case. To add insult to injury, waking iMac from sleep is horrible because the whole computer is lethargic and non-responsive. It's faster to shut down completely and start cold than even attempt putting the thing asleep. This is opposite of Mountain Lion on my MacBook, which wakes faster than ever. My older Mac is only half-working, sometimes acting a little schizo when it's asked to do something. On top of that, USB dongles, USB ethernet adapters, Samba networking, and a half-dozen other things I rely on are either not working at all... or only partly working... which is a huge bummer.
But, on Macs that ARE working properly, how has Apple done? Well, let's walk through Apple's big "feature list" shall we?
Apple's big catch phrase has been "It just works" and, for the most part, this is very true. Especially compared to Windows which mostly doesn't work and causes me overwhelming dread every time I have to walk over to use it. "I wonder what's going to go wrong this time?" I always say. But Apple has finally caught up to Microsoft because iCloud most definitely does not "just work." For one thing, it is actually lacking features of the iSync service it replaced! Want to sync your Keychain between all your Macs? Tough shit! You can't! And that's just the tip of the embarrassment iceberg for Apple, because the list of shit you can't sync with iCloud positively dwarfs what you can actually do with it. I have more apps syncing their stuff through DropBox because iCloud doesn't/can't/won't work for them. Even worse? It doesn't work for Apple either. You're supposed to be able to sync Notes and Reminders across all your Apple devices. Despite playing around for hours trying to make this happen, it doesn't work At least not completely. Some notes are just... gone... and even deleting them and recreating them does nothing to bring them into the iCloud so they can sync. Which is only half the problem, because one of my four Macs won't sync notes at all for reasons completely unknown. I have "Notes" checked to sync in iCloud, so what in the hell else is there for me to do?
This is amateur hour stuff, and if a Certified Apple Whore like me can't figure it out, what hope do everyday users have?
This is that on "killer feature" that was supposed to make Mountain Lion worth my trouble. But it has been the single most frustrating problem that I have yet to solve. Now, to be fair, a big part of what's going to make iMessage so compelling won't happen until Apple released iOS 6 this Fall... namely, tying your phone number to your iMessage account so you can actually get your iMessages on your Mac. Because right now, iMessages sent to your phone only go to your phone. In order to get your messages anywhere, you have to ask people to iMessage your Apple ID, which is pretty useless. If iMessage is going to take the place of texting, this is a critical piece of the puzzle. BUT ANYWAY... I was still looking forward to at least initiating iMessage conversations on my Mac. That way, when somebody replies, they're replying to your Apple ID and everything works as you want. Except... IT DOESN'T WORK AT ALL. Messages is just an epic pile of FAIL! that I fucking hate with the burning passion of a thousand suns. Because in order to get people to REPLY to your Apple ID, you have to actually be able to USE your Apple ID email. And, for reasons that make ZERO sense, it won't work on all my Macs.
Right now I am sitting here at my new iMac with my new MacBook Pro Retina next to it. They are running the same Mountain Lion OS. They are on the exact same network. They are plugged into the exact same router. They are set up the exact same. They are, in essence, the same damn computer. And yet... the MacBook will accept my Apple ID email address. My iMac won't accept it. No fucking clue why. But here it is...
Now, seriously, what the bloody fuck? I can sign into my iCloud account with my Apple ID email address on this machine with no problem... but when it comes to verifying the same damn address for use with Messages, you can't do it?!? WHY?!?? IT'S MY FUCKING APPLE ID, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!! And of course the address works fine on three other Macs, two iPhones, and an iPad, so I don't even know what to say here. Except that since I cannot set my "Caller ID" to be my Apple ID, Messages isn't going to work worth a shit for me and I might as well just use my iPhone for messaging.
Now, this is one of those little "extras" that's just mind-bogglingly cool. Basically, even after you put it to sleep, your Mac will still be working for you... checking email, syncing contacts and documents, even downloading software updates if you're plugged into a power source. So very smart. Or so I would imagine. My brand new iMac doesn't support it. My brand new MacBook Pro Retina does... but not yet, because the Firmware Update isn't available...
Something to look forward to, I guess.
UPDATE: That was quick. The MacBook Pro Retina firmware update was released on July 28th, so now I have the option of enabling Power Nap on my laptop.
Siri, Apple's "voice activated assistant" is a mixed bag that people either love or hate. Personally, I love Siri on my iPhone. It is an amazing tool that allows me to accomplish a heck of a lot with very little effort. Being able to say something like "Remind me to call Ronald McDonald in an hour"... and then have Siri ACTUALLY DO IT is a kind of magic that fulfills the promise of technology. And Apple keeps making Siri better and more accurate, so I have little doubt that within five years it will be a primary way that people interact with their Apple products. But right now it's still a bit rocky. And while iPhone gets the full "Siri Experience," Apple is moving their Macs into that realm with baby steps. Namely, "Dictation" which will take what you say and type it into words. The good news? For me at least, it's shockingly accurate. The bad news? It only works for snippets of text and you have to have a live internet connection... so no dictating your 500 page novel while on the beach. The worse news? "Dictation" is completely brain dead compared to "Siri" when it comes to actually typing out shit.
Here's a line of text dictated to Siri on my iPhone...
I am dictating a love letter to Taco Bell right now.
Here's that same line dictated to Dictation on my Mac...
I am dictating a love letter to cap taco cap bell right now.
I guess when working on a Mac, Apple thinks you'll never need to capitalize a word? Oh well... at least Dictation does seem to understand "period" and "question mark" so at least you can kinda type sentences.
Now, at first blush, this would seem an awesome idea. Any app can add a "share" button to automatically send some content to a specific app for further handling. For example, click the "Share" button in Apple's "Safari" web browser, and you're given options to add the page to your Reading List or Bookmarks... or email it... or send it as an iMessage... or even Tweet about it...
But there are some problems. First of all, you're only sharing a link to the page... which is fine for Twitter and such... but what if I want to email the actual page?? Well, you can't share that. There's no option to output a PDF or screen cap of the website and send it that way. You're restricted as to what Apple wants you to do instead of what you want to do. But it gets worse... you can only "share" with apps that Apple allows. If I wanted to "share" a link to that website with my blogging app, for example, I can't do that with the "share" button in any way. There's no global registry for apps to tell Mountain Lion what data they can handle, so Mountain Lion doesn't share unless Apple says it can. This is just a hopelessly flawed approach that I'm hoping Apple will fix very soon.
UPDATE: Oddly enough, other apps, like "Reeder" (my web feed reader) DO allow sharing with other apps... including my blogging app. I am guessing that this is something specifically coded into Reeder, so having some kind of global registry that works universally is still important.
No longer having to open a web browser every time you want to update your Facebook status? Great! But... oh... no... wait a second... Mountain Lion can't do that. The feature is listed as "Coming this Fall." Well how stupid. Why advertise it as a feature NOW if it's MONTHS away? You could say that about anything! "Mountain Lion will wipe your ass after you shit... coming August, 2027!" One thing I love about Apple is that they don't deal in vaporware. Most everything they announce is available that day... or very shortly after. This is a return to bad form and should have never been announced as a Mountain Lion feature. Just add it later when its ready and let people be thrilled to get a new tool. Anything less than that is not Apple.
Gatekeeper is an idea that's long overdue... helping users to be able to trust that a program they download isn't going to ruin their computer or damage their data in some way. And while a lot of times I think Apple goes too far in locking things down, when it comes to "Gatekeeper" I honestly don't think they went far enough. First of all, it's really just a warning device. It doesn't actually do anything to stop malicious code from running on your machine. Second of all, once Gatekeeper lets an app through, it just sits there like a dumb shit waiting for some new app to come along. Even if Apple finds out that an app contains a raging virus that will delete everything on your computer, Gatekeeper will only warn you if you try to re-install it... it won't in any way warn you that you've got a problem already installed. This is insanity. At the very least Gatekeeper should monitor the apps on your Mac and be able to alert you if one of them has been found to contain a problem! Oh well. At least the technology has been given a name that reflects its shortcomings. As for me, I'm waiting for fucking DungeonMaster to come along and watch more than just the gate.
Web browser competition is some serious shit. Every company wants to control your portal to the internets, and Apple is no different. Safari was developed specifically to counter the dominance of Microsoft's crappy Internet Explorer browser and, on Macs and iPhones at least, it has been working. But there's always a better browser being built, so you can't really rest on your laurels or savvy internet users will leave you behind. Apple knows this, so they've always been improving Safari so people won't move on to Google Chrome or whatever the flavor of the day is. With Mountain Lion, Apple takes a couple steps it should have taken a long time ago... #1 would be offline browsing. Nothing pisses me off faster than loading a web page to read, getting interrupted for boarding a plane with no WiFi, then opening my laptop to find that Safari has stupidly erased the page and is trying to reload it. Whomever made that fucking stupid decision should be punched in the face. #2 would be a unified address bar/search box. Having them be two separate fields for so long is an affront to the simplicity that Apple is supposed to be all about. So, bravo Apple for fixing two problems you really needed to fix.
But all is not wine and roses for Safari. Unfortunately, it remains one of the stupidest fucking browsers on the planet. And I don't mean "stupid" in that the whole app is bad... I mean "stupid" in that the whole app is ragingly unintelligent. A big example of this is something called "data detectors" and it used to be something Apple was really good at. Now? Not so much.
Let's take addresses, for example. If you get an email with an address in it, Mail will kindly detect this and allow you to add it to your Contacts (address book). Safari, on the other hand, doesn't know what the fuck it is, and just throws a kitchen sink's worth of crap at you when you right-click on it...
Now, you may look at this and say "Hey! You're WRONG! Apple has an option to look up that address in Google Maps, so it DOES know it's an address after all!" — And you would be right. Except not really. Because if Safari actually did recognize it as an address, I'd be able to add it to my Contacts (address book), which it doesn't. Nope... I have to copy and paste it. Except not really. Because Contacts is just as fucking brain-dead as Safari is... AND IT'S SOLE FUNCTION IS TO HANDLE ADDRESSES! Try pasting that as an address into Contacts and it fails miserably. Instead, you have to copy the street, paste the street... copy the city, paste the city... copy the zip, paste the zip... copy the phone number, paste the phone number... which is just a huge waste of time when Safari should be able to handle all this automatically like Mail does. And that's just one example of many I could give. Apple needs to do more than just fix problems they should have fixed a long time ago... they need to make Safari much, much smarter. Otherwise, they're just going to be left behind.
As for the other features on the list? Well, Twitter integration is pretty basic (you can post and receive mention notifications only), but works as advertised. AirPlay works great with AppleTV... just like it does from iPad/iPhone... but I'll rarely use that. GameCenter and new "China Features" I won't be using at all (I have a Wii and Xbox for gaming and don't speak or read Chinese).
So... all in all... Mountain Lion has been a massive disappointment. Coming from an unapologetic Apple Whore such as myself, that's saying quite a lot. It would be easy to pin this on the fact that Steve Jobs is gone, but I think the problem is much bigger. Apple's main focus is no longer Macintosh. Sure the division makes them a lot of money, but it pales in comparison to the revenue generated by the whole iPhone & iPad phenomena, so that's where they concentrate their efforts. And if this sad, bad, and wholly disappointing update to their Mac OS is a sign of things to come, then Apple needs to take drastic action... perhaps as drastic as splitting the company apart... for the Mac to survive. Because Microsoft is just aching to steal the computer spotlight from Apple, and their latest Windows 8 OS offering looks like they're taking a serious shot at doing just that. This is something Apple simply cannot afford, because there's no Steve Jobs to bring them back next time.
And with that happy thought, I am actually worrying about Macintosh again for the first time in a decade.
Now that Mountain Lion has been more of a whimper than a roar and there's no more Big Cats for Apple to label their OS with... what's next? Hopefully an animal that's much bigger and badder than a Lion, but I have no idea what that might be.
Insert Honey Badger joke here.
Posted on Friday, July 27th, 2012
What a horrible day.
Never have so many disappointed so thoroughly in so little time.
Guess I'm going to tune into the Olympic Games opening ceremonies and be done with it.
To all Olympiads from all nations all over the world, best of luck in your competitions!
And to London, one of my favorite cities on earth, thank you for hosting what is most certainly going to be a wonderful event (DANNY BOYLE?!?). It could not have been easy to find the finances during such trying economic times, but Britain Will Prevail... and God Save The Queen!
Posted on Saturday, July 28th, 2012
Friday, February 12, 2010. 7:20pm.
"So... for the first time in a very long time, those of us living on the West Coast of these United States of America are in the SAME TIME ZONE as the Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada. Finally, we get to watch events LIVE and see competition outcomes AS THEY HAPPEN. How cool that we won't have medal results spoiled on the internet hours... or even days... before we get to actually see them taking place! Sweet!"
— David Simmer II, getting ready to watch the last Winter Olympics
Friday, February 12, 2010. 7:35pm.
"FUCK YOU, NBC! FUUUUUUUUUUCK YOU!"
— David Simmer II, after realizing NBC time-delayed their Pacific Coast broadcast anyway
Saturday, July 28, 2012. 12:05am.
I am not a huge sports fan, but I admit to being a fan of the Olympic Games because there's just something wonderful about the way the world comes together to participate in them. And nowhere is this more evident than the Opening Ceremonies, where all the athletes are full of hope and dreaming of gold.
This year the task of planning the start of the games fell to one of my favorite directors, Danny Boyle, who is responsible for one of my favorite movies, Millions. He had the daunting task of following China's widely-praised and celebrated Opening Ceremonies, which would be enough to break most men. But Boyle decided that since nobody would expect him to top China's spectacle, he would just "do his own thing" and try to entertain people.
And entertain people he did.
The show was a wholly bizarre affair, but not in a bad way. I actually really enjoyed it. So congratulations, Mr. Boyle, on rising to the occasion with creativity and wonderment.
AP Photo/Morry Gash, Pool
And congratulations to NBC for fully living up to expectations and CRAPPING ALL OVER THE OLYMPIC OPENING CEREMONIES WITH YOUR HORRENDOUSLY SHITTY COVERAGE!
I'm guessing the rest of the world's news organizations paid proper respect to the ceremonies and covered the opening in a dignified and complete presentation. This was not, of course, the way that NBC decided to go. "Dignified" and "Complete" are just not words that enter into their fucking heads.
No, we Americans go to see a butchered presentation that was fucking time-delayed (again) then interrupted by constant commercial breaks and laughably bad commentary from Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, and (heaven help us) Bob Costas. The commentary was so bad that I wanted to turn the sound off, but then I would have missed out on the music, which was excellent. Except I couldn't really enjoy it because Lauer, Vieira, and Costas kept TALKING OVER IT ALL! And this brings me to the big question... WHAT THE BLOODY HELL?!?? I realize that your typical American television audience is about as intelligent as a box of rocks, but do they really need to be talked through a performance? And if you simply must open your stupid fucking mouths, did you really have to shit all over the spirit of the games by pointing out embarrassing, controversial, or otherwise derogatory things about the participating countries? What assholes.
And here I thought the pre-show interview where Bob Costas Ryan Seacrest embarrassed one of the gymnasts over her love of Justin Beiber was going to be the lowlight of the evening. Not even close. First Mitt Romney humiliates the USA with his non-stop parade of stupid fucking comments... then, because we haven't insulted the Brits enough, we decimate their Opening Ceremonies with NBC's profoundly bad coverage. But why stop there? Let's insult the whole world during the Parade of Nations! USA! USA! USA!
I realize that NBC has to pay the bills with advertising and be sure to pander to the lowest common denominator of their viewers... but that in NO WAY excuses what American Olympic fans had to suffer through tonight.
Saturday, July 28, 2010. 12:20am.
"FUCK YOU, NBC! FUUUUUUUUUUCK YOU!"
— David Simmer II, realizing nothing has changed since last time
Posted on Sunday, July 29th, 2012
Time to put down that Olympic remote... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Negative. When it comes to living in the USA, I cannot help but question the society we have evolved into when there's this incessant need to tear people down. This was made very clear to me as I watched NBC's continuing shitty time-delayed coverage of the Olympic games yesterday. Ryan Lochte had just won the gold in a swimming event with a very impressive performance. But this wasn't the focus of the coverage. The focus was on how Lochte had just "delivered a beating" to reigning Olympic champion Michael Phelps, who came in fourth. Once I heard this "beating" mentioned for a third time, I had to turn the channel.
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
Just four years ago, Michael Phelps won 8 out of 8 gold medals in the 29th Olympic Games in China. He was America's pride and joy and the media couldn't gush with praise often enough or fast enough for "the greatest swimmer of all time." And now? The media is using those 8 medals around his neck to strangle the guy by pointing out what a disappointment he is for not getting another medal. And, putting aside how crappy it is that they are so horrible to Michael Phelps... how shitty is it that this is how Ryan Lochte's friends and family watching at home get to experience his moment of triumph?
And why? Why? Why? Why? How hard would it be to say "Congratulations to Ryan Lochte for winning the gold, and way to go Michael Phelps for a terrific effort in snagging fourth place!" Because, seriously, even putting aside his Olympic championship status... out of all the athletes from around the frickin' WORLD, Phelps came in fourth! That's still an amazing achievement. And what the hell have you done lately?
But this, apparently, is not what the American public wants to see or hear. They want Michael Phelps humbled and humiliated. Building somebody up is great, but tearing them down is better. Yes, it's surprising that Phelps didn't medal. Shocking even. So say it's surprising and shocking... don't "give a beating" to somebody who trained hard and did their best. Even if it is somebody as accomplished as Michael Phelps, who still has a bunch of Olympic medals back home.
• Clarkson. And, speaking of tearing somebody down, this happened on Twitter...
Now, as a massively huge fan of Top Gear, I should post a disclaimer which says that I am a massively huge fan of Jeremy Clarkson. He's a total bastard in the best possible way, and one of the most entertaining television personalities ever.
So when he tells Mitt Romney to "fuck off" it would be easy to write this off as Jeremy Clarkson being Jeremy Clarkson. Except... Mitt Romney made a disastrous visit to the UK where he pretty much had his head up his ass the entire time. First he tells London that he didn't think they were ready to host the Olympics and questioned whether the Brits can "come together" and celebrate the games properly... then a quote from his book No Apology was widely circulated in the UK press: "England is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn't make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn't been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler's ambitions." Nice. Not only does he show he's fucking ignorant about the country ("England" is not an island. "Great Britain" is an island that includes the countries of England, Scotland, and Wales) he seems to think the way to make the United States look good is to put other countries down. What an asshole.
So yeah, tear somebody down and you deserve to get torn down in return. I guess that works.
• Hey Jude. And speaking of something that England produced that nobody wants...
In my alternative history fantasy world, the Beatles reunited for the first time in 42 years to perform at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
As happy as I was to see Sir Paul McCartney close out the Opening Ceremonies... the mega-Beatles-fan in me will always want more...
• BILL! BILL! BILL! There's a funny YouTube video making the rounds called Mr. Wizard's a Dick! that compiles a bunch of snippets from the 1983 revival of Don "Mr. Wizard" Herbert's television show which shows him...uhhhh... being a dick...
I was never much a fan of Mr. Wizard, but I was a big fan of Bill Nye The Science Guy. And now there's hope that he might start making new episodes of his awesome science show straight from the horse's mouth via Reddit...
Yeah, I really should be too old for a children's science program... but I would totally watch that show.
• Rotten. Let's recap my recent experiences with Apple, shall we?
So, basically, over the past week I've had more horribly bad experiences with Apple than I have had over the past 35 years. This hurts. It physically hurts me.
And now... time to see if I can un-brick an iMac...
Posted on Monday, July 30th, 2012
Well that sucked.
A part of me is wanting to say that I need a do-over. But who in the hell wants to repeat a Monday?
So I will just go to bed and hope for a much better tomorrow.
Posted on Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
For the past two hours I've been trying to schedule the things I want to do in-between the things I have to do... and failing miserably. There aren't enough hours in the day. There aren't enough days in the month. This is a problem that only massive sums of money could ever fix (nothing opens doors and makes things possible like a wad of cash)... but, alas, I only have $23.00 to my name just now.
Ah to be obscenely wealthy! I'd love to have unlimited piles of money to throw at problems so they go away.
On an entirely unrelated subject... I was watching the Olympics on television when Mitt & Ann Romney came up because their horse, Rafalca, will be competing in "dressage" later this week. I don't know much about the sport except it looks like a hideous amount of training is involved to get the horsey to trot around in exactly a certain way like that.
But putting my lack of "dressage" knowledge aside, watching the news had me dead-curious to know how the Romneys managed to get Rafalca to London. I mean, seriously, it's not like they just walked the horse onto the plane and plopped him down in a First Class seat between them... something seriously crazy has to be involved in flying horses across the Atlantic. And what about jet lag? Do horses get jet lag?
This burning curiosity resulted in my Googling all kinds of crap about horse transport.
Apparently, horseys are put into special "stall containers," then loaded on a cargo plane which has a horse-care specialist onboard. Owners can choose from "economy" (three horses to a stall) or "business class" (two horses to a stall)... but I suppose since cost is no object to Mitt, he could insist on a private stall if Rafalca doesn't play well with others. In any event, the horses are well cared for on their journey, getting plenty of hay and water as needed. No mention was made on what they do with all the horse doo-doo and pee-pee to keep the plane from stinking, but I'd imagine it involved giant pairs of Depends made especially for horses...
Oh... and in case you're curious, horses can get jet lag... but it's often not nearly as serious a condition as humans can get.
Since I don't get jet lag much either, I guess that makes two parts of me that are horse-like now.
Posted on Wednesday, August 1st, 2012
With apologies to Nathan Adrian and everybody else in these United States, I was not rooting for us to take the gold in the 100-meter Olympic freestyle competition. Not that I am unhappy he won... far from it... many happy congratulations to Adrian and Team USA. It's just that I had a different favorite for winning the race.
Two months before I landed in Sydney last September, James "The Missile" Magnussen had become the 100m Freestyle World Champion at the FINA competition in Shanghai. This made him a very popular fixture in the world of Australian sports, and a lot of predictions for Olympic gold were already being talked up...
James Magnussen World Champion 2011, Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images AsiaPac
One evening while re-packing my suitcase (in Cairns, I think?) with the television on, I caught some kind of documentary/interview with the guy, and he was everything you'd want a world champion to be... kind and generous with his words, brilliant in his skills, and extremely confident in his abilities.
But the thing that struck me most is how it was repeatedly stressed that he was the best hope for the Aussies bringing home 100m Freestyle gold, which hadn't happened since Michael Wenden won it 1968. Not even the "invincible" Ian "The Thorpedo" Thorpe could manage it in 2004.
That's when I stopped packing for a minute, and tried to fathom how a 20-year-old guy could sit there with the hopes of an entire country heaped on his shoulders and not crumble on the spot.
How does one even deal with that being in their head?
And so I wanted James Magnussen to win gold, just so the lofty expectations set for him... and by him... would be fulfilled and maybe he could have a short time without all the pressure he usually has to endure.
Unfortunately Team Australia didn't medal in the Freestyle Relay earlier and, even more unfortunately, Magnussen didn't get a gold medal in the 100m Freestyle tonight. He lost to American Nathan Adrian by one-one-hundredths of a second...
So now I was even more worried for the poor guy. He missed his dream by - literally - less time than it takes to blink an eye. Though shattered, he was taking it as well as one could expect... "It hurts. I did my best tonight and and it was not quite good enough. To lose by that amount stings but I've had a lot of great support the last few days from people from back in Australia."
I hope so.
He's young and he'll be back in 2016 at the height of his game (and with Olympic experience!), so that'll be something to look forward to...
In the meanwhile, the press is having a field-day with tearing Magnussen down, just as Phelps before him. If I have to read one more "The Missile was a Dud" headline I'm going to scream. The guy is still a World Champion swimmer. He has a silver medal from the Olympic Games. If that makes him a dud, then the rest of the world might as well give up right now.
As for me? I'm just going to get some sleep.
Posted on Thursday, August 2nd, 2012
"Get used to disappointment."
—The Man in Black
No matter how many friends you have... no matter how large your family... no matter how hard you work to build relationships with everybody... the number of people you can actually count on when the chips are down is almost always shockingly small.
Fortunately, I am not speaking from personal experience, but am merely an observer of a situation that's driving me insane. Everybody who should be jumping in to help just... aren't... for some reason. Which means somebody is being left to twist in the wind all alone who deserves much better.
I am far too removed from things to jump in.
And yet I did so anyway, sending a small gift with a note that said "Hear you're in a tough spot. Keep your head up and don't let the bastards get you down."
Today I got a reply which was filled with heart-felt thanks... and an interesting perspective on the situation.
"When you're on the rise you're happy to have friends who can share in your success. But a part of you knows the day will come when you stop rising and start falling. What you don't know is how many of your friends will choose to share the ride back down. Those are the true friends you know you can count on no matter what. I never expected that I would end up having no true friends."
It's enough to make you want to jump out a window. But then he mentioned that he's finding new friends he didn't even know he had, which has made an otherwise horrible experience somehow liberating.
We should all be so unfortunate.
And by "unfortunate," I mean "lucky."
Because you never know when your liberation is at hand...
Posted on Friday, August 3rd, 2012
Watching these Games of the XXX Olympiad in London as I have been, it's been pretty easy to overestimate how much of the world I've seen. Every time a medal is won, I'm running through a list in my head and going check, check, check, as I mentally mark off all the countries I have visited.
But then I start thinking of how American television is obviously going to show mostly American competitions. And how the majority of those competitions seem to be won by the same handful of nations over and over again. Which led to me wonder exactly how much of the world's countries I've actually seen.
Turns out... not a lot...
See my map or create your own by visiting TravBuddies!
Not even a quarter of them. Even so, 22% is nothing to sneeze at, and I feel extremely lucky and fortunate that I've been able to see as much as I have. And yet... there's something discouraging about knowing how, in the grand scheme of things, I've made such a small dent in a big world.
To make myself feel better, I went back to the Olympic medal-count winners' list and checked off the countries I've visited for the top ten nations...
Sweet! 70% is totally more like it!
But how about on a list of all the medal-winning countries (so far)?
Hmmm... 27 out of 52 would be 52%... not bad at all. That's putting a pretty good dent in the world!
But, so long as we're making country lists, my favorite would have to be the countries represented by pavilions at Walt Disney World's EPCOT World Showcase...
91%... how awesome is that? Using this list means I've almost seen the entire World (Showcase), and can probably see all the countries in the entire World (Showcase) in my lifetime!
And now we return you to our regularly-scheduled Olympic broadcast.
Unless you're watching on US television, in which case NBC will return you in 12 hours or so.
Posted on Saturday, August 4th, 2012
Yesterday morning I went out to my car only to see a cricket perched on my rear door. Worried that he'd be leaving his cricket family and his cricket friends if he went with me to work, I tapped near him so he'd move. He didn't budge. I blew on him so that he'd jump off, but he just got irritated and turned away. So I poked him gently thinking that would do the trick, but he just took a couple steps and re-planted himself. Apparently, he was dead-set against leaving. I thought surely getting in my car and slamming the front door would convince him to bail, but no. "Okay then, little buddy, I guess you're taking a trip downtown."
The drive is only five minutes, but it seemed a lot longer because I was always checking on my passenger in my rear-view mirror. Surprisingly, he hung in there all the way to work and was still clinging to my car when I exited it. So I pulled out my iPhone to take his picture, and that's when he decided to jump off.
Of course. They always move just as you go to take a photo. Why didn't I think of that to begin with?
My guess is that he caught his cricket girlfriend cheating on him and just couldn't bear to be around her neighborhood one damn minute longer. Perhaps he thought a change of scenery would do him some good, and my car was the fastest way to get out of Dodge. No wonder he was so determined.
In any event, I hope he's happy in his new home. There's a tiny park across the street, so maybe that's where he ended up. Maybe he'll find himself a new cricket girlfriend and live happily ever after.
There are times I think I'd like to jump on a car passing through town and set sail for a change of scenery myself.
But I get bored on long car trips.
Guess I'll look at the television for a while and see where that gets me.
Posted on Sunday, August 5th, 2012
Stop your melting and embrace the heatwave... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Heat. I wasn't kidding. It was so hot today that the air conditioner couldn't keep up. Which means that even with the unit on MAX COOL and turned to COLDEST it was still like a sauna in my home all day. Even now the temperature is 100° outside... and it's 5:30 at night! Unless you live in the San Francisco Bay area, looks it's going to be another scorcher tomorrow...
Not a good day to be living in the pink.
• Landing. As I have written before, I have a terrible tendency to attribute human qualities to inanimate objects. Especially robots. It's always been a problem but, after watching WALL-E, I'm pretty much a hopeless case for looking a little robots as something more than "just machines." I was a wreck when I heard that the Mars Rover, Spirit was stuck and couldn't move around the Martian landscape any more. All I could picture was a little robot trapped and all alone far from home...
So, as you can well imagine, the impending "drop" of a new Mars Rover named Curiosity is making me pretty nervous. The landing procedure is scary as hell, and I'll be glued to my MacBook tonight to hear if he makes it so I'm not worrying all night...
Damn. Good luck to you, Curiosity!
UDATE: So happy to know he has landed safely and his cameras are operating! Here's hoping everything else is working properly and he can start rolling around Mars soon! WAY TO GO, NASA!
• Fairies. I hate television commercials. Hate them. 99% of the time they are stupid, loud, annoying, and disruptive pieces of crap that make me want to kick in my television screen. Which is why I don't usually watch live television... I record it on my DVR so I can fast-forward through them. But there are rare exceptions. Like Direct TV's series of "Football Fairies" commercials starring Deion Sanders and Eli Manning. Really smart, well-done, and funny as hell...
Genius. If all commercials were this entertaining, I wouldn't want to fast-forward through them. On top of that, this commercial makes me wish I could have Direct TV. I hope the agency that came up with this is getting some serious bank for their efforts.
• Album. The initial reviews for Linkin Park's fifth album, Living Things, weren't very positive, so I held off buying it until I had a chance to give it a listen. I was not a big fan of their previous effort, A Thousand Suns, which made me hesitant to rush out and buy something new...
And then I caught the video for BURN IT DOWN and liked what I heard...
Then I was finally compelled to buy it after previewing the tracks on iTunes Music Store. Turns out I really like it. It's kind of a return to classic Linkin Park via a new kind of 80's-influenced sound direction. If you're an LP fan scared off by the bad reviews, I recommend giving it a listen. Even though every track title is SHOUTING AT YOU IN ALL-CAPS, it's a really good album.
• New New 52. Last year DC Comics cancelled all of their comic books and rebooted their "Universe" to start over from scratch with the "New 52"... so named for the 52 comic titles they released at launch. Overall, I consider it to be a success. I'm still reading 18 of the titles, which is more comics than I've been reading in a long time. Eventually, some of the books were canceled due to low sales (including OMAC, which I loved) and replaced with new books. The two most interesting involve Earth-2, an old "alternate earth" concept that DC abandoned back in 1985...
Surprisingly, World's Finest and Earth-2 were immediately put on my "Top 10 Must-Reads" list... and World's Finest (Starring The Huntress and Power Girl) is vying for the #1 spot. It's just great comic book fun! I love the writing (by Paul Levitz), and it features two of my favorite artists, (George Peréz on the "current" story thread, and Kevin Maguire on the "flashback" story thread). If you're a fan of all those great comic team books from the 80's, before everything took a turn towards being all dark and all gritty and all confusing all the time...I highly recommend giving these two titles a look!
Annnnnd... it's 9:30pm and just one hour until Curiosity starts his seven-minute descent. Now I'm wondering if I can bear to listen to the broadcast...
Posted on Monday, August 6th, 2012
Going to be in Portland, Oregon this Saturday?
If so, then be sure to drop by the THRICE Fiction table at the Portland Zine Symposium from 10:00am until 5:00pm at Refuge on 116 SE Yamhill. Admission is free, and I will be there representing the magazine and selling copies of our new THRICE Fiction 2011 Black & White Annual for just $7... over half-off the $14.95 retail.
Copies are limited to how many I can fit in my backpack, so show up early if you want one!
Or just stop by and say "hi" to me even if you don't want one!
NOTE: I will be at the show SATURDAY ONLY! If you show up on Sunday, I won't be there. I'll be wandering aimlessly around Portland on a Voodoo Doughnut sugar high.
Posted on Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
Back in April, I wrote about a Kickstarter project that I desperately wanted funded...
"The holy grail for Stanley Kubrick fans (outside his movies, obviously) is a copy of a book called Full Metal Jacket Diary by Matthew Modine, who was an actor in the film. The reason it's such a big deal is twofold...
I was over the moon when the project was successfully funded.
Today the app was finally released. And it doesn't suck...
The menu system is fantastic, and disappears when not needed.
The photos change as you scroll the text, which you can have author/actor Matthew Modine read to you.
All the amazing photos have been scanned at hi-resolution and can be zoomed in on at any time.
On the contrary, it is a stunning app. Not only do you get the entirety of the original diary book, but you get complete audio narration by author Matthew Modine. All of which means nothing if the app is bad and hard to use... but it isn't. This project was a labor of love through and through and it shows. Everything is really well thought out... and optimized for Retina Display, which means if looks fantastic.
If you have any interest in film and want some insight into the mind of a true artist of the medium... or you're a fan of Full Metal Jacket... or you're a fan of Kubrick... or you just want to see the kind of apps that iPad was made for... click here to go get a copy. It's just $14.95, and worth every penny.
Posted on Wednesday, August 8th, 2012
Posted on Thursday, August 9th, 2012
Since I have never even attended a "zine show" I'm a little nervous about exhibiting at the Portland Zine Symposium this weekend. Part of the problem has to do with a sentence out of the tabling guidelines...
"In order keep the Portland Zine Symposium focused on zines and to maintain the DIY spirit of the Portland Zine Symposium, at least 51% of merchandise at any table must be handmade zines and/or independently published materials."
Sure, THRICE Fiction is independently published... it's just Bob and myself... but we're hardly "Do It Yourself" when it comes to the actual production of the magazine. Digital copies are given away for free, but anything people want to physically purchase is professionally printed. So... the question becomes "Will we be welcomed with our slick printed magazines and books?" or "Will people stop by just to slap me in the face and set our table on fire?"
I honestly don't know.
So last Wednesday I went to Flickr and did a search for Portland Zine Symposium photos.
It's just table after table of handmade books that looks like they were copied at Kinkos and stapled together in somebody's living room.
So now I've gone from being "a little worried" to being "a lot worried." I considered canceling, but I had already bought a non-refundable airline ticket and spent a lot of money printing a book to sell. "Oh well," I thought. "Guess I'll just show up and hope we're 'indy' enough that I don't get slapped and set on fire."
And then realized I don't want to risk getting slapped, so I decided to hand-make a zine instead (which is something Bob had suggested years ago... go figure).
This was easier said than done, as there wasn't time to hand-draw a new zine from scratch. Not knowing what else to do, I figured I'd just assemble some stuff from my blog and see how that went (which is something else Bob had suggested years ago... go figure). Ultimately I decided to make a zine filled with Bad Monkey cartoons. I figured since everybody loves monkeys, this was my best chance of not getting our table set on fire.
Then I spent the next couple nights cobbling together a zine. Then I ordered a booklet stapler and a stack-cutter. Then I printed copies (in color, because I'm That Guy). Then I spent the next couple nights saddle-stitch stapling everything together. My stack-cutter never showed up, so today I had to go bother a print shop to trim my books for me.
And so now I have a hand-made zine for our table...
To make them seem more "hand-made," I worked hard to get them looking beat up and aged. All the interior pages are yellowed and textured. The cover has wear and tear marks printed on it. Then I took each copy and rubbed it on a gem cutter's cloth to add a little bit of scuff. They're as hand-made as I can get, given the time constraints I'm under...
Overall, the experience of making this zine sucked. And I'm still not 100% convinced that the DaveToons will even make sense out of the context of my blog. Oh well (again).
But... it definitely has me anxious to try making more zines in the future. With more time and less anxiety, it seems like this kind of thing would actually be something fun to do!
In the meanwhile, everybody cross their fingers that my first zine show doesn't end up with my getting slapped and a visit from the fire department...
Posted on Friday, August 10th, 2012
Portland is a real toss-up when it comes to travel. Driving there from my home is about 5 hours. Flying there is also about 5 hours... once driving to the airport, getting through security, waiting for boarding, flight time, and layovers are factored in. So what to do? Usually it comes down to money. If it's cheaper to drive, I drive. If it turns out it's cheaper to fly, I fly.
This time it was not only cheaper to fly (thanks to a rocking' airfare I found with Alaska Airlines) but I honestly didn't feel like driving for five hours.
Unfortunately my flight was at 6:00am, which means I had to get up at 3:30am. This makes for a very long day.
But a good one.
Because it started off terrible. After checking in with my airport hotel, I took a shuttle to the MAX light rail station. After buying my ticket I went to look at the schedule and saw a poor little moth trapped behind the glass and unable to move...
I tried tapping the glass to try and knock him loose but, even if I got him un-stuck, he'd probably just climb right back up again while trying to find a way out. I then contemplated smashing him to put the poor little guy out of his misery, but couldn't bring myself to do it. Calling the TriMet emergency line was my last option, but something told me they wouldn't rush right out to release a trapped moth. So I left the poor bugger to his fate.
From there I was off to meet fellow bloggers Vahid and Sarah for lunch. Which was at E-San, one of the best Thai restaurants I've eaten at outside of Thailand. I had fried pineapple rice (which they serve in a hollowed-out pineapple half...
It. Was. Awesome.
Then my Portland hosts decided to show off by taking me to Salt and Straw, which is an ice cream parlor SO GOOD that Oprah has it on her "Favorite Things" list. The line ran all the way out the door, which only confirmed that Oprah knows her ice cream...
I had Almond Brittle with Salted Chocolate Ganache mixed with Sea Salt Ice Cream with a Caramel Ribbon. And, yes, you read that right... it's not "salted caramel in ice cream" it's actually SALT-FLAVORED ICE CREAM which happens to have caramel in it. Needless to say... it's pretty damn salty. But also pretty amazing. What's even more amazing than the flavors are the staff... you'd think serving all these rather pretentious and upscale flavors from a hugely popular parlor would give them attitude. But it absolutely doesn't. They are all as nice and fun as can be... happy to let you try flavors and make recommendations so that you're thrilled with your dessert. And I was.
And here's where our day takes an unbelievable turn...
Portland, Oregon is a city so filled with freedom and American spirit... THAT THEY HAVE CUTE GIRLS HANDING OUT FREE HUMMUS ON THE STREET CORNERS! Yes. You read that right. This is NOT a dream. This is NOT an imaginary story. Free. Hummus. FREE HUMMUS ON THE STREET!!
"Is this heaven?"
"No. It's Portland."
And then, because only Batman can top free hummus, Vahid and I went to see The Dark Knight Rises...
Not quite as much as The Dark Knight, but it was a very good end to the Nolan-directed Batman series of films. The only negative was that I had completely figured it all out well before the ending. Anybody who religiously follows the comic books would. But... it didn't diminish my enjoyment one bit. Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle (an unnamed Catwoman) totally steals the show. Bane was a much better villain choice than I gave him credit for (thanks to an amazing performance by Tom Hardy)... and Christian Bale once again ruled the cowl in a way no other Batman has ever done. Genius. Here's hoping that whomever takes over the Batman movies will do even half as good a job as Christopher Nolan.
And now... I'm pretty much dead, and tomorrow is going to be a long day.
Posted on Saturday, August 11th, 2012
My day started exactly the way every day should start... with perfect toast.
Vahid and Sarah took me to Milo's City Cafe where, I kid you not, they have a guy whose only job is making perfect toast. He has a pair of wooden tongs that he uses to check your toast, flip your toast, and make sure your toast is toasting evenly to just the right toastiness. It's amazing, and his dedication to awesome toast is epic. He's the Toast Master! And perfect toast is what he does. Given my love of toast, I couldn't have been more impressed. I wanted quite badly to go shake his hand after breakfast was over, but I was too star struck. If only every restaurant took toast this seriously.
And then I was off to the Portland Zine Symposium...
Overall, it was a very nice event... though I'm still not sure that THRICE Fiction was a good fit. The majority of the stuff there was DIY hand-crafted works, and that just isn't us. But, even so, we did pretty good for the day. I originally ordered 40 copies of our new 2011 Black and White Annual, 20 for each day... even though I never expected to actually sell that many. Since I was handing out flyers to let people know that we give our magazine away for free on our website, who would spend money to buy it? But, even after telling people how to get THRICE for free, I still ended up selling 14 copies and trading 7 more. So... worth it, I think.
The only real problem with the event was the heat. It was insanely warm at the venue. At the 2:00 half-way point, I had sold 12 copies. The two remaining copies were sold by 3:30. Which means I did nothing from 3:30 to 6:00. It was just too hot in the afternoon. You could see people coming inside... wandering for a bit... then leaving while fanning themselves before ever getting to my table. Only the most dedicated zine fans stuck it out, but they were the ones least likely to buy a book, as they were after the home-grown DIY stuff.
Stuff like tiny little hand-folded, hand-draw books that a guy was selling for 50¢ each. He made me one with monkeys that he traded for a copy of Bad Monkey Comix, and I love it...
And there was a lot of cool stuff at the show. One of my favorite zine tables was near me and called Everything Waffles, a monthly magazine dedicate to a guy who takes photos of himself with his cat, Waffles. Sounds boring, I know... but these aren't ordinary photos... they're costume photos that are really well done...
"American Pride" (with Waffles) by Justin Schwab
Genius. The guy has videos and a podcast too. How can you not be compelled to check out his website?
I ended up only booking a table for just the one day instead of two... for which I am now grateful. I don't know that I could survive a second day of non-stop sitting in 100° heat. But I am really glad I came, and seeing all the incredible creativity that people have in creating zines has me really, really interested in creating some of my own.
UPDATE: For everyone who has been asking, YES! I am happy to sell my extra copies of THRICE Fiction 2011 B&W Annual and Bad Monkey Comix. When I get home I'll find out the cheapest way to mail them, then let you know how much it costs. And, of course, I will honor the show prices for the THRICE annual ($7, which is just 5¢ more than I paid for them, so it's a pretty good deal!).
Posted on Sunday, August 12th, 2012
Put away that razor and pull on those socks and Birkenstocks... because Bullet Sunday LIVE from Portland, Oregon starts... now...
• Olympic. I would have paid serious money for Bob Costas and Ryan Seacrest to shut the fuck up during the Olympic Closing Ceremonies. Seriously, nobody wants to hear your inane and unnecessary banter. People who don't already know the artist and/or song being performed, or what the British flag looks like, or when the "comedic part of the show" starts, or whatever... isn't going to give a shit, so just stop because you're pissing off the rest of us that do.
Anyway... the mix of musicians was interesting and the performances were top-notch, so I guess that's all you can really hope for. As an 80's music whore and pop music fan, seeing Pet Shop Boys, George Michael, Annie Lennox, Bond, Spice Girls(!), Queen, ELO, and Take That... all in a single event... all with a giant octopusmobile AND ERIC IDLE... was pretty great (alas, no nod to punk?).
Spicey Olympics Photo by Hassan Ammar/AP
So congratulations to London and the U.K. for delivering a big "fuck you" to Mitt Romney by being the perfect host for the games... I'm just sorry that here in the Colonies, NBC felt the need to butcher your event and slap bad commentary over everything while injecting "human interest" stories that (for the most part) were neither human nor interesting. Hopefully we'll have better luck in 2016...
...but I doubt it.