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THRICE 7

Posted on Monday, April 1st, 2013

Dave!Sometimes you get the bear. Sometimes the bear gets you.

Though I would never actually want to kill a bear, so that saying doesn't make much sense for me. Unless I'm "getting" the bear so I can give him a hug. A bear hug!

In any event, the March issue of THRICE Fiction actually slipped a day into April, and there are a lot of excuses I could give as to why that happened. But, the honest truth is that the issue just ended up being a much bigger project than usual (54 pages!), and I didn't budget enough time to get things done.

Oh well. It turned out great, so hopefully our readers will think it's worth the wait...

THRICE FICTION Issue No. 7

Download the issue for FREE by visiting the THRICE Fiction website!

The cover this time around was a fun one. Fearless THRICE Fiction editor RW Spryszak told me that he kept on seeing "a man standing at a bus stop in the rain" for the cover as he was reviewing submissions. I thought this was a great idea for a Spring issue, so it didn't take any amount of convincing for me to take the idea and run with it. Especially since I could do a kinda tribute to one of my favorite films of all time... Hayao Miyazaki's wonderful My Neighbor Totoro...

Totoro Bus Stop

But since Totoro is trademarked, I decided to use geese instead. I also thought geese would be funnier.

The original cover image is composited from 23 separate photos from locations like Costa Rica, Maui, Barcelona, Vancouver, Seattle, and Fiji (among others)... plus one very important piece of stock photo art...

THRICE 7 Cover Construction

The process of stitching all the photos together into a single cohesive image is long and tedious (as I explained in a step-by-step for a past cover here). Once that's been completed, parts were painted over in Photoshop, then run through various filters to add rain and make the image look kinda-sorta like a painting. As usual, it would probably have been faster had I ACTUALLY painted the thing, but at least this way I didn't get any paint on my clothes. Anyway... here's the end result...

THRICE 7 Cover Final Art

And that's that.

For a look at the rest of the artwork in this issue, click onward to an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
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2022

Posted on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Dave!I am not much of a shopper. Most of the shopping I do is under protest because there are few activities I loathe more than having to drag myself through a mall. I don't like the crowds. I usually don't like the salespeople. I don't like the prices. And, most of the time, I don't even like the products. It's for this reason that most all of the things I buy are purchased online. No crowds. No salespeople. Good prices. And every product you can imagine.

But, for things like clothes, online is not always the best option when all things are considered.

So most times when I need new threads, I brave a trip to the mall.

Where, if I find something I like, I buy several copies so I can put off my next trip as long as possible. If I find a great shirt? I'll buy a half-dozen. Find a good deal on jeans? I'll buy ten. Find a pair of shoes I like? I'll buy out their entire stock on-hand. Etc. Etc.

And it's all good.

Until my supply runs out.

Last year I finally had to retire the last pair (of four pairs) of Nike trainers that I had purchased five years earlier. It was a solemn occasion filled with all kinds of grief. Not only because I was having to trash a pair of shoes that I really liked... but because it meant I would have to go shoe shopping again. It was such a tragic event that it made me wish I had a time machine. Not so I could go back and kill Hitler or anything worthwhile like that... but so that I could go back and buy all four pairs from "Athletic Attic" PLUS have them order another ten pair. That way I wouldn't have to go shoe shopping until at least the year 2022.

Fast forward to today, and I had to toss out the last of the six Eddie Bauer Henleys I purchased nearly thirteen years ago. This really sucked, because I don't like the newer Eddie Bauer Henleys. Which means I'm going to have to eventually go out to a (=shudder=) mall so I can find a suitable replacement.

When I'd rather go have some teeth pulled.

Oh well, at least I'll have something to blog about.

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Goosey

Posted on Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Dave!When I was looking for geese to use on the cover for THRICE Fiction No. 7, there was one goose that wasn't going to work... but I liked the way he looked, so I shoved him aside. Today as I was working on another project, he popped up...

Lucy Goosey

   
This is one of the geese that hang around the courtyard at Barcelona Cathedral (also known as "La Seu"). As I started snapping photos, he became curious about the noise from my camera, and just kind of stared at me until I stopped.

Silly goose.

   

Passing

Posted on Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Dave!The big news today is the passing of famed movie critic Roger Ebert, which I'll get to in a minute. But also passing today is Carmine Infantino, a prolific comic book artist whose work when a long way towards shaping the comic books as we know them today. The man redefined The Flash, for heaven's sake, and paved the way for The Silver Age of comics.

Despite all his influence and success, I was never a fan of Carmine Infantino. I thought his art style was sketchy and sloppy. I felt his anatomy and proportions were off-putting. I didn't care for the way he used (or didn't use) perspective. And I never like his background art for those rare times he bothered to actually put any detail into his backgrounds. Don't get me wrong, the guy knew how to illustrate a story... I just didn't care for the way he did it...

The Flash

Supergirl

Spider Woman

And yet, it would be impossible for me not to admire the guy who did so much for the comics medium that I love. For that I thank you, Mr. Infantino... rest in peace.

As for Roger Ebert...

Roger Ebert
Photo by Buena Vista Television/AP Photo

For me, he was THE film critic. Along with Gene Siskel, he created At the Movies, which was a program I obsessed over in the 1980's. I love movies, and back then there wasn't an internet to hang out with fellow buffs to discuss them. Instead there was Siskel and Ebert every week. Of the two, Ebert was the one who was closest to my tastes, and his "thumbs up" sent me to the local movie theater more times than I can count. He expanded my love of cinema, helped me to find films that I still love to this day, and was a tireless voice in the movie geek community that I valued right up until his death. Even when I didn't agree with him.

But movies were not the only thing Roger Ebert helped to open my mind to.

His astounding positive outlook in the face of devastating health problems were inspirational in a way that I can't even begin to enunciate. The guy was in hospitals all the time, he lost his jaw, he lost his ability to speak and eat, he was dealing with crap that would crush the spirit of most anyone. And yet... he refused to let it get him down. He kept working. He kept inspiring. He kept living...

Roger Ebert
Photo by Associated Press

"I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute to joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out."

We should all do so well to leave such a legacy. Rest in peace, Mr. Ebert.

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Direction

Posted on Friday, April 5th, 2013

Dave!

I guess it really is all downhill from here.

Dave's Fast Wagon

   

Not much I can do but try and enjoy the ride.

   

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Fashionable

Posted on Saturday, April 6th, 2013

Dave!When looking back through old photos, I was shocked to find out just how fashionable I was when I was a tyke.

What I wouldn't give to have some of these outfits today.

In my size, of course.

Fashionable Baby Dave

Fashionable Baby Dave

Fashionable Baby Dave

Fashionable Young Dave

Fashionable Young Dave

   
Especially that last one. Because... damn.

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Bullet Sunday 324

Posted on Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Dave!Don't go going off all half-cocked... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Cheese! April is National Grilled Cheese Month, and grilled cheese sandiwches just happens to be one of my favorite foods on earth. Sadly, most people seem to think that a grilled cheese consists of a slice of cheese melted between two slices of bread in a skillet. Not even close. Great grilled cheese sandwiches are creative culinary delights that are a little more interesting...

Dave's Cheese Sandwich

I've already blogged about my "Death By Cheese Sandwich," which is one of my favorite recipes... but lately I've been experimenting with shredded cheese recipes (which melt so very, very beautifully) and adding things like sliced green apples or tomatoes to my sandwiches. The last batch I made had Feta Cheese mixed in, which was mind-blowing. Next up I'm going to try a recipe which is made with potato chips. The varieties of grilled cheese deliciousness are endless. Which is why I want to encourage everybody to take National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month by the balls and seek out a few of the more inventive ways of cooking one of the world's most classic foods. Go! Go! Go!

   
• Hannibal! Let's just get this out of the way... I feel that Sir Anthony Hopkins' portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs is one of the most inspired performances in all of cinematic history. It is one of the few times I can use the adjective "flawless" when describing what actors do. With that in mind, I put my expectations into low-gear when tuning into NBC's efforts to turn the character into a Dexter-style television series...

Hannibal Series Poster

So imagine my surprise when I start watching the premiere episode of Hannibal only to find that creator genius Bryan Fuller wisely decided to sidestep a failed attempt at mimicking the Anthony Hopkins movies. I was riveted as I watched a much more flawed and interesting version of investigator Will Graham (played by Hugh Dancy) rope me into one of the best homicide dramas in recent memory. As the show continued to play out, I found myself excited at the prospect that this might actually work out.

But then Hannibal Lecter showed up and everything went sideways.

No offense to Mads Mikkelsen, who is a fine actor (he was really good in Casino Royale)... but the guy is horribly miscast as Hannibal Lecter. For reasons that escape me, he's playing the part as about as flat and uninteresting as it gets. I certainly wasn't expecting Sir Anthony Hopkins, but I was expecting to see some of the sparkle and charm that makes Hannibal such a compelling character. Well, there's none of that here. It's the idea is that Lecter is so charming and fascinating that you don't want him to be evil. The fact that he IS a psychotic serial killer is what makes him so terrifying. With Mads Mikkelsen being so eerily lacking in charm, he comes off as exactly what he shouldn't... a psychotic serial killer! I dunno. I'm going to keep watching in the hopes that Hannibal grows on me because Will Graham is so beautifully realized here... but, unfortunately, I can see a day when Lecter's half of the coin pushes me over the edge.

   
• Bridegroom! "It's not a gay thing. It's not a straight thing. It's a human thing." — I was really happy this Kickstarter project got funded, and I can't wait to see what Linda Bloodworth-Thompson has done with a story that everybody needs to see...

   
• NIK! When Google bought out NIK Software, I was gutted. They obviously bought the company to get their hands on Snapseed, and I worried that the rest of their brilliant apps would be tossed aside. That may yet come true but, in the meanwhile, Google has dropped the price of NIK's plugin suite to a astounding $149! If you're a photographer who uses Photoshop, scrape together the $149 and RUN, don't walk, to their website and snap it up before Google changes their mind. Color Efex and Silver Efex are sheer magic for punching up your images, and all the rest of the tools are just gravy. If 70% off and my praise doesn't compel you to jump onboard, they have a 15-day free trial available.

   
• WTF? Seriously. I wants to die now.

   
• Mini! More and more I have been uploading double-sized photos to my blog, then manually down-sizing the dimensions in the HTML. This makes it so that readers with a Retina Display get a much better quality photo to look at...

Retina Blogography Image
Detail of Non-Retina low-res on the Left... Retina double-res on the Right

The problem is that readers without a Retina Display (or equivalent) are downloading a bigger image file, only to have their browser throw out every other pixel. Kinda a waste of time and bandwidth but, sorry, one day all displays will be "Retina" in quality, and I'm trying to future-proof my images here. To make this as painless as possible, I am using a tool called JPEGmini to reduce the size of my large images (small images don't net much of a savings). So far, it's worked surprisingly well, and my largest images are being reduced as much as half. Yes. Half. But the best part? The image quality is maintained! Looking as hard as I can, I can't spot any difference between the original and the JPEGmini version! It's been working so well that I've taken to compress my camera libraries as well. If you're looking to save some space with your JPEGs, I highly recommend giving JPEGmini a try (there's a free version to check it out, so what are you waiting for?).

   
• Veronica! If you loved me, you'd donate one measly dollar to the Veronica Mars movie project so it can become the most backer backed project in Kickstarter history. If you don't love me, then you can still donate a dollar and pretend to love me... I'm perfectly fine with that. Just five days left...

   
And now... TIME TO MAKE FRESH BREAD FOR MORE GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES!

   

Pebble

Posted on Monday, April 8th, 2013

Dave!What a hunk of crap.

A little less than a year ago I was on a Kickstarter high, backing a lot of projects that looked interesting and useful. One of those projects was for the "Pebble Smart Watch," where my $115 pledge would get me an actual watch once the unit went into production.

My thinking was that something like this would be really useful when I travel. Often times I'm in strange places or potentially dangerous situations where I don't want to be flashing my iPhone around. Why invite somebody to steal it? Enter Pebble. This "smart watch" communicates with iPhone and can display notifications for calls, emails, texts, and such. It will also allow you to do simple tasks like control your music. So, cool, I can monitor my notifications without having to whip out my iPhone every time. Sounds good.

Eleven months later, guess what shows up in my mailbox? That's right, Pebble!

And it's pretty shitty.

First of all, it's huge. Massively huge. If you have boney little toddler arms like mine, it might as well be a brick...

Pebble Watch

As if that weren't bad enough, look how THICK this fucker is...

PebbleWatch2

Oh... and did you notice all the little specs of dust in the case seams? IT CAME THAT WAY! I just took it out of the box, and it comes pre-dirty. And given the number of ugly seams scattered all over Pebble, I can only guess that it's going to look even worse once I actually walk around with it and it gets exposed to the elements.

What's so shocking is that this makes the bulky old Casio Calculator Watch I had in high school look positively svelte. Seriously, until you strap one of these massive things to your wrist, you have no idea how obtrusive and uncomfortable an accessory can be. There is no fucking way I am going to be wearing this around day to day.

If I were to actually consider wearing this pile of crap, I'd probably take time to do a complete review of the thing. Since I'm not, I can say this from the five minutes I played with Pebble...

  • Big as a brick. Display buried beneath enough plastic to choke a horse. Clunky, obtrusive, ugly design. Seams catch dust and grit before you've even taken it out of the box. Makes watch tech from the 80's look positively futuristic.
  • Tells time. And does so with switchable watch "faces"... most of which are hard to read.
  • Displays notifications from your iPhone or Android smartphone via battery-sucking Bluetooth. Suffers separation anxiety when your iPhone drifts out of range for too long a period of time. Does not want to automatically connect back to iPhone when it comes back in range.
  • Controls your music (play/pause, next song, previous song) and displays the currently playing track (I admit this would be cool if you're playing unfamiliar music).
  • Comes with a charging cable that attaches magnetically to the watch from a USB charger (not included) or any device with a powered USB port. Time will tell if Apple sues for trademark violation over their "MagSafe" patent.
  • Has a forthcoming free developer kit which will allow custom apps to be built. I'm not sure how much interactivity Apple allows iPhone to have over Bluetooth (I'm sure Android will be easier), but this could prove very interesting for Pebble owners.
  • No instruction manual or documentation of any kind. Everything is online.

And that's about it, really.

Rumor has it that Apple is working on a "smart watch" of their own. Why I didn't wait for that, I will never know.

So...

If you've got big wrists and like the retro-future possibilities that Pebble is promising, this may be a watch for you (hey, I'll sell you mine for $50 plus shipping! SOLD!)... otherwise, I'd give Pebble a pass.

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Missionary

Posted on Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Dave!Sleeping is not something I'm good at. At least not any more. I think I used to be, but that was a long time ago and I just don't remember. Last night was worse than usual because I had a lot of stuff to get done before catching my flight this morning. I also had a lot of stuff on my mind, which is always a sleepy-time deal breaker for me.

Arriving in Salt Lake City International Airport was made interesting because a couple Mormon missionaries were onboard. After having been away for two years with precious little communication with friends and family, there was quite a crowd waiting for them (as you might imagine). Posters and banners were on display, and a wave of cheers erupted as the missionaries descended on the escalator into the airport lobby.

It was a beautiful sight.

For the life of me I can't wrap my head around the commitment it takes for these kids... as young as 18... to give up everything and everybody they know so they can be sent to God-knows-where for two years of their lives. It's a leap of faith that boggles the mind. Many times, they're being sent to a foreign country where they won't even know the language. They're partnered up with somebody they barely know. They're given a near impossible task of converting the natives to a new religion. To this day I honestly can't decide if it's an adventure of a lifetime... or the height of insanity.

Luckily, I never had to find out personally.

But I have talked to Mormon friends and acquaintances who went on missions, and they all say it was the best time of their lives. A part of me is skeptical but, I'm here to tell you, the stories they have to tell are about as fascinating as you'll ever hear. The trials and tribulations of being a missionary for the Latter Day Saints may be rewarding, but it's also no picnic.

Which is why I'm always as nice as I can be when I encounter them in the wild (especially in foreign countries) or when they show up at my door. They've got it tough enough, and giving them a break is the least I can do.

Anyway...

I didn't hang around the airport and party with the missionaries since Marty was nice enough to pick me up so I could have dinner with him and his family. No offense to the Mormons, but Marty makes sure there's beer available when we party.

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Disappointment

Posted on Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Dave!Today was kinda a play day where I had no real agenda. That's the good news.

Today was filled with disappointments. That's the bad news.

But, all in all... any day away from the office is a good one, am I right? I mean, sure, I worked a bit... but most of my time was spent looking for things to do in Salt Lake City that I haven't done before. I've been here many, many times, so that is a bit of a challenge.

My first stop was decided last night when I saw "BRUGES WAFFLES" flash across my hotel television's concierge screen. "Wow. I could go for some authentic Belgian waffles!" I said to myself. And so I got up and walked the three lonnnnnng blocks to the waffle shop in time for...

   
DISAPPOINTMENT NO. 1
On their website, Bruges Waffles says that they have "authentic caramelized waffles," which is exactly what I wanted. The reality? Not so much...

Un-Belgian Waffle

Don't get me wrong... it was a delicious waffle, and the cream was out of this world. Overall, a wonderful breakfast. But where is the pearl sugar that makes that delightful speckle of caramelized bits that I love? I sure couldn't find them. If they were there, my waffle would have looked like this...

Belgian Waffle!
Photo from A Feast for the Eyes... which has a recipe for the waffles you're looking for!

And let me tell you... those pearls of caramelized sugar are what makes a Belgian waffle go from "good" to "FOOD OF THE GODS!"

Next up? I wanted to visit the Natural History Museum of Utah. I had been there before years ago, but they relocated to a new building in 2011, and it's supposed to be pretty spectacular. The problem is that there's no real "elegant" way of getting there via public transportation. By car, it's a 16 minute drive from downtown to their location on edge of the University of Utah campus. But I had to spend an hour and fifteen minutes taking the Blue Trax Line to the Red Trax Line all the way out to the University Medical Center... then catch a campus shuttle over some gawdaful roads to get to the museum where I was faced with...

   
DISAPPOINTMENT NO. 2
The Natural History Museum of Utah is, indeed, in a spectacular new location and has some exhibits that are incredibly well done. The dinosaur exhibits alone are worth the price of admission. Honestly, if you're in Salt Lake City, you owe it to yourself to check it out... it's totally worth it, even if you have to go through public transportation hell to get there.

HOWEVER... when I was there it was absolute bedlam because (I'm guessing) there was a school field trip going on. This wouldn't have been a big deal, except the kids were running around going ape-shit insane. Museum staff didn't even attempt to reign them in, which was just senseless. And the "chaperone adults" that were accompanying the kids didn't bother to "chaperone" at all. They just lounged around while kids were yelling, screaming, running, kicking, and beating on the displays. It was beyond crazy. Even if they didn't make the kids behave, you'd think they would AT LEAST attempt to keep walkways clear so people could get around the museum... but... no. After 45 minutes, I couldn't take it any more and left. But I still got to see some cool stuff...

Natural History Museum of Utah Dinos
The dinosaur exhibits are truly first class.

Natural History Museum of Utah Dinos
RAWRRRRR! Says the ancient giant crocodile!

Natural History Museum of Utah Diorama!
The dioramas were nicely done too... if you like looking at dead stuffed animals.

Natural History Museum Sky Deck
The "Sky Deck" offers amazing views of downtown Salt Lake City and beyond.

Natural History Museum Weaving Exhibit
There was a really nice weaving exhibit that was much more interesting than I would have thought.

I complained about the ordeal of using public transportation to get to the museum, but there's one cool bit I should mention. When I was ready to leave, I checked my phone to see how often the campus shuttles ran. Much to my shock and delight, they have a web app that shows you where the shuttles are AND you can tap on a station to get an estimate as to when the next shuttle will arrive there...

University Shuttle Web App

Now THAT'S cool... and so useful! I wish the TRAX light rail system here had the same feature.

The one thing I wanted to do above anything else while I am here is to visit The Leonardo so I could see the awesome-sounding MUMMIES OF THE WORLD exhibit. Unfortunately, that brings us to...

   
DISAPPOINTMENT NO. 3
The show was sold out for the day. And the next day. And the next day. Talk about a soul-crushing sense of defeat... I missed getting to see mummies, dammit!

Last night Marty had mentioned that The Apple Store had relocated from The Gateway to a new shopping mall built by the Mormon church called "City Creek Center," so I decided to stop because I really want a different case for my iPhone 5. When I first got it, there were like -zero- cases available, so I thought I would have a better selection now that seven months have passed. You can probably imagine that this brings us to...

   
DISAPPOINTMENT NO. 4
The iPhone 5 case selection at the Apple Store is only barely better than it was back in September. They don't even have a simple bumper I can buy... they come attached to a hunk of ugly plastic. And the rest of the cases they have are pretty lame. WAH! Oh well... City Creek Center is really a beautiful mall (if you're into that kind of thing) so I was happy I got to see it...

City Creek Center SLC

After bumming around beautiful Temple Square for a while (which is never a disappointment), my waffle started wearing off so I decided to head back to the Bruges Waffles shop again for a late lunch. They advertise having "wonderfully crispy 'frites' or fries, with 10 delicious homemade mayos." Now, as anybody who has read this blog for even a little while knows, I am absolutely crave "patatjes met" (Dutch Fries with Dutch Mayo) and also love "frites avec mayo" (Belgian Fries with European Mayo). So this was kinda a no-brainer idea, right? Not really...

   
DISAPPOINTMENT NO. 5
Patatjes Met? More like Patatjes Meh. First of all, the mayo is NOT creamy, delicious, Dutch/European-style mayonnaise with that delicious taste I love. Nope... it's no different than the clumpy, egg-flavored American mayo you get out of a jar. In fact, I would't be surprised if that's exactly what it is. The "homemade" stuff they're talking about must be American jar mayo mixed with spices or whatever. "Disappointed" doesn't even begin to cover it. But that's just the beginning, because then I got the "frites"...

Frites in SLC

They weren't "bad"... but they also weren't the big, crispy, golden frites you get in Belgium. Not by a long shot. Too many of the fries were limp, waggy, and overly-greasy. But making matters worse was that a full half of my frites were crusty little nubs that aren't fit for dipping... they're barely fit for eating...

Frites Mess in SLC

BULLSHIT! Even the worst frites shop in Belgium would never serve this. I make better fries at home. Hell, McDONALDS makes better fries than this. The entire time I was eating this mess, all I kept thinking about was flying to Belgium and getting me some real frites. Or, better still, flying to the Netherlands and getting me some delicious patatjes met...

PATATJES MET!

Oh damn. Just look at those beautiful fried potatoes! AND LOOK AT THAT LUSH, CREAMY, FLAVORFUL MAYO FOR GOD'S SAKE!!! This is the stuff you want!

WAH!

Not wanting to risk any further disappointment, I headed back to my hotel so I could rest up and get some work done.

And now it's time to leave all my disappointment behind me so I can put some pants on and head out for an evening that promises to be anything but disappointing...

   

Electric

Posted on Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Dave!Last night Marty (of Banal Leakage fame) and I went to see OMD play at The Depot in Salt Lake City.

As expected, it was mind-blowing amazing show. They played a nice mix of both new material and beloved classics. And, just like the four previous times I've seen them live, played them extremely well. Along with Depeche Mode and Matt & Kim, OMD is easily one of my favorite live bands, and any opportunity to see them in concert is a no-brainer...

OMD The Depot

The tour is in support of their new album (released just two days ago here in the US!) called English Electric. Overall, I like the album very much, and there's some pop music treasures on there that I'll be listening to for a very long time. However... OMD being OMD, they decided to add a bunch of "experimental" stuff that I didn't care for at all. Luckily, it wasn't enough to torpedo the whole album (see: Dazzle Ships), but oh how I wish the band would stick to cranking out the beautiful pop music that I love them for and just stop with the self-indulgent artsy crap (or whatever)...

English Electric Cover Art

Still, well-worth a listen if you've liked their stuff in the past.

I've put a setlist review in an extended entry, if you're so inclined...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Outback

Posted on Friday, April 12th, 2013

Dave!Back to reality. For a few days anyway.

While hanging out at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on layover yesterday, I ran across a couple who were on their way to Australia so they could hike around the Outback for two weeks. I thought this sounded like a great vacation... assuming I could ever get used to all the bugs...

Outback

It's certainly beautiful enough to lure me back.

And now I suppose I should unpack my suitcase so I can get it packed up again on Sunday.

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Business

Posted on Saturday, April 13th, 2013

Dave!This is a blog post I've been holding for nearly a week. It concerns my home state of Washington suing a florist who refused to service the same-sex wedding of a long-time customer (now that we have marriage equality here). The story itself is a sad one... and most certainly controversial... but that's not the reason I've been sitting on it. The reason is that I just can't form a solid conclusion on the subject, and it's been driving me crazy.

But before we go there, an interlude...

My personal beliefs don't allow me to give money to strangers when I can't verify how the money will be used. So, for example, when a homeless person approaches and asks me for my spare change so they can eat, I always say "I'm sorry, I don't have anything I can give you." This way, even if I do have some change, I'm not lying because (philosophically) I really can't give it to them. They might use the money to purchase something harmful to themselves or others, and then I would be a party to it. Instead, if they're hungry, I'll offer to buy them some food to eat. This is a win-win solution because they get the food they need and I get to help out without violating my beliefs.

But, like everything in life, it's not really so cut-and-dry. Can you ever truly verify what happens to the money you give? Let's say I help a stranded motorist buy gas so he can get home. But once he gets home, he siphons the gas from the car and uses it to burn his house down with his wife inside because she was cheating on him. And what if the owner of the gas station uses their profits to bet on dog-fights which torture and kill innocent animals? By trying to help, I just enabled two people to commit terrible acts, even though I never intended it to happen that way.

The reality is that the only way i can truly control what happens with the money I earn is to never spend it. Since that's not really an option, I just do the best I can to be as responsible as I can... then hope for the best. Money may indeed be the root of all evil, but I'm trying to stem the tide where I can.

End interlude.

With all this in mind, I feel like condemning the florist shop owner is kinda hypocritical. Her beliefs don't include same-sex marriage, so isn't she just doing the best she can to stem the tide? And, since this is America, shouldn't she have the freedom to follow her religious convictions so she won't be responsible for contributing to something she feels is wrong? In her own way, she may even be trying to keep her long-time customer from doing something she considers harmful. And for this she's going to get sued?

That doesn't seem fair. For better or worse, American citizens have the freedom to be raging bigots if they want to be. So why shouldn't this freedom extend to shop owners? If they want to hide behind religion so they can avoid doing the right thing, shouldn't that be their right? It's certainly the right of the customer to let the entire community know that the florist is a homophobic piece of shit. And since more and more people are standing on the right side of history to support love and equality, won't the florist eventually go out of business because she'll keep losing customers? Why do we need to bring in the lawyers and start a lawsuit when the problem will solve itself?

Perhaps we should have faith in the free market to work these things out. If businesses want to live in the dark ages, let them die out as society leaves them behind. New businesses will take their place, and life goes on.

Right?

Well...

I may not always agree with Democrats (or Republicans, for that matter), but there is one thing President Obama said as he was campaigning that really resonated with me when it comes to a person building a business... they didn't build it alone. This was explained beautifully by Elizabeth Warren...

"I hear all this, you know, 'Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.' No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."

It's this overriding truth which has me not giving a fuck if the florist's freedom to be a bigot is infringed upon. That gay couple she refuses to service? Their tax dollars contributed to the system that allows her business to exist in the first place. But, more importantly to me, my tax dollars contribute to the system that allows her business to exist. The idea that some homophobic asshole can benefit from my tax dollars, then turn around and discriminate against customers holding a perfectly legal event? It pisses me off. Washington has legalized marriage equality. If you don't like it, then pack up your flowers and move to a state where you can benefit from tax dollars that support your bigotry. Otherwise, you deserve to get sued.

Right?

Well...

The bigger truth here is that my tax dollars are going to crap I loathe all the time. I'm a vegetarian. I believe the meat industry is environmentally hostile and killing this planet. And yet beef, pork, and poultry mega-corporations are getting billions in tax subsidies. This is how Burger King can sell a steroid-ridden "Whopper Jr." for $1.29, when that's a tiny fraction of how much it actually costs to make. For oh so many reasons, it should cost much, much, much more, but the US government uses my tax dollars to keep it cheap, and that pisses me off. Much like the way poultry subsidies allow Chick-fil-A to make record profits... which they then use to support hate groups. It's a hard pill to swallow, but I'm sure there are things I do like supporting with my tax dollars that other people don't believe in, so I guess it all balances out.

And if my tax dollars are already supporting a bunch of things I don't believe in, then what difference does it make that a florist I don't believe in is getting tax money?

Right?

Well...

What if this bigoted florist was refusing to sell flowers for a wedding because the bride and groom were black? Or short? Or left-handed? Gay friends have told me that their sexuality is not some "lifestyle choice" they make, but instead a part of who they are. They were born that way, and nothing can change it. Just as straight people don't "choose" to be straight, they don't "choose" to be gay. I choose to believe them... partly because they are my friends and I trust them... but mostly because it would be fucking insane to think that homosexuality is some kind of massive deception by gays around the world and throughout all of history. And, since it would be discriminatory and illegal to deny floral service to a bride and groom with red hair wanting to get legally married... it should be discriminatory and illegal to deny floral service to a groom and a groom with gay hair wanting to get legally married.

We have chosen to make laws against discrimination. Here in Washington, we have chosen to extend that to include discrimination against same-sex marriage. If you break the law, there should be consequences. Like getting your ass sued.

Right?

Well...

And it goes on and on.

Marriage equality is something I support 100%. Love is love, and gay couples have every right to celebrate their love in marriage the same way that straight couples do. Anything less is not fair... it's not right... and it's not human. I believe this so strongly that I want to cheer on our Attorney General as he fights discrimination in Washington State. That's his job, after all.

But a part of me will always wonder if this is the best approach. She's withholding flowers... not urgent medical care... not life-sustaining goods... not some other critical need... it's flowers. Might it be better to just boycott her homophobic ass and let nature take its course? Let her business inevitably die out on its own instead of turn this florist into some kind of misplaced martyr for "religious freedom" that slows down our march to equality acceptance? That seems like it might be a better route to take.

Right?

Well...

This is not about fucking flowers... this is about dignity, respect, and human rights! It's about...

Oh hell. At some point I really just have to stop this.

   

Bullet Sunday 325

Posted on Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Dave!Am I doing the smart thing and packing my suitcase right now? No. Instead I'm here blogging... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Awarded! I pretty much think that all award shows are crap, but the MTV Movie Awards at least show stuff you want to see. Not just with the nominees, but also in the commercials, which featured looks at upcoming hot movies... including two I'm dying to see: Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness. I think I've rewound and rewatched both spots on my DVR at least a half-dozen times now. Here's hoping they live up to the hype.

   
• Beebus! I know Justin Bieber is young and all... but holy shit...

Bieber at Anne Frank House

I've been to the Anne Frank House. It is a very somber and emotional ordeal to experience how her family was forced to live and what they went through to survive. Once you've seen Anne's hopes and dreams on display throughout the museum, you're reminded that she ultimately didn't survive, and it's like a punch in the gut. You feel it.

But all Bieber seemed to take away from the experience was how cool it would be if she were alive today so she could be his fan. I honestly don't know if I should chime in on what a fucking moron he is... or just feel sorry for the little wanker being so blissfully clueless about anything except his own ego.

   
• Graze! In the UK they have a service which delivers healthy snacks directly to your mailbox once a week called "Graze." They're kind of famous for their olives, but they've got a pretty big assortment of nifty treats. Not so long ago, they launched here in the US, and I've been a member for the past twelve weeks. To make a long story short, it's probably not the greatest value for your money, as the four portions you get for $5 (delivered) are pretty small. That being said, I do like the variety and convenience...

Graze Box

Recently Graze sent out paper doll bunnies to their members(?!?). I have no idea why, as it seemed like a huge fucking waste of money. I would have been happier to get a dollar off my next box or something useful like that, but oh well.

About the only thing I don't like so far are their "flapjacks," which are a slimy granola bar of some kind. Other than that, everything is pretty decent. For some reason we Americans are denied the olives, but hopefully they'll be added at a later time. I think the service is still in beta, so signing up is limited to invite codes... but they should be launching for reals any time now. Might be worth checking out when they do.

   
• Coachella! Tonight OMD played Coachella and YouTube was streaming it live. While not quite the same experience as being there, I was really happy to see the show from the comfort of my living room...

OMD at Coachella

Oh how I love this band. If you wanna take a look, YouTube may still have it up.

   
• Opener! Speaking of OMD, their opening act was a guy calling himself Diamond Rings. Surprisingly, his band exceeded my expectations in just about every way. Most of his music is inspired directly from 80's acts, and Marty and I spent his entire set tossing out which bands were the template for the song he was playing. I ended up buying his latest album off iTunes, as it has some good tracks...

   

If you're into 80's pop and looking for something new, Diamond Rings is worth a listen.

   
And... now I suppose I should pack that suitcase.

   

Boston

Posted on Monday, April 15th, 2013

Dave!Boston is a city I love.

I've visited many times.

I have friends there. My favorite baseball team is from there.

Not surprisingly, the explosions that targeted The Boston Marathon shook me quite badly. I've stayed at the Lenox Hotel which got evacuated today. I've been to the Boston Public Library, which is just across the corner. I've walked down Boylston Street (where the explosions occurred) more times than I can count.

And I was there today... if only in a memory.

Dave Boston

My heart goes out to everyone affected by this senseless tragedy.

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Disneyland: Day One!

Posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Dave!The nice thing about working in Anaheim? DISNEYLAND!

It's the perfect place to take extended lunch hours for a ride and a meal. And, for this week at least, visiting an exhibit on Iron Man Armor to promote Iron Man 3... arriving in a theater near you on May 3rd!

They relocated Tony Stark's "Hall of Armor" to the Innoventions pavilion in Tomorrowland...

Iron Man Hall of Armor!

Iron Man Hall of Armor!

But the best part? You can SUIT UP to BE Virtual Iron Man!

Iron Man Suit Up!

It kind of works like an Xbox Kinnect game, where you stand in front of a screen with a camera to control the action...

Iron Man Suit Up In Action!

When you start up, the armor comes flying onto you so you can dance, shoot stuff with your repulsors, and fly around...

Iron Man Me!

Really, really cool.

I opted for a pricey (but delicious!) lunch at Wine Country Trattoria, because you can get a dining package which inclides priority viewing for Disney California Adventure's "World of Color" show. The dessert plate was awesome...

Disney Dessert

Off to Paradise Pier for the show...

Paradise Pier at Night

I didn't want to get soaked, so I decided to watch from the second level reserved area, which was perfect. It reminds me of a show I saw as a kid called "Dancing Waters" which was at Sea World in San Diego...

World of Color

It's all water, colored lights, lasers, and projected animation.

World of Color

Pretty cool. And totally worth buying that expensive lunch pacakge to get such great "seats!"

YESTERDAY...

The drive over the mountain passes was pretty harsh. It was snowing like gangbusters, and there was water a half-inch thick on the roadway...

Snowy Passes

Snowy Passes

But, when I got to Seattle, the sky was on fire, so it all turned out okay in the end...

Sky Fire Seattle

Annnnd... I'm spent.

   

Disneyland: Day Two!

Posted on Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Dave!Today I actually got to spend a little time in the parks, which was fun. The weather consisted of flawless blue skies with a nice breeze to take the edge off the heat.

And now some quick comments on the rides I got to see as I rushed around The House of the Mouse...

DISNEYLAND!

  • Jungle Cruise. This ride needs a major overhaul, as it just isn't aging well. Making it be self-aware and "funny" (when it used to be narrated seriously) hasn't helped much.
  • Indiana Jones Adventure. A bumpy, jumpy jeep ride through vaguely Indiana-Jones-esque settings. I always thought this ride was kinda disappointing because it doesn't seem very immersive (even if the queue is beautifully themed). With the exception of three appearances of animatronic Indiana Jones robots, it could be anything.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean. The theme park ride to end all theme park rides and my all-time favorite. Unlike Indy, this attraction is sublimely immersive. It helps that the Disneyland original is 16 minutes long when all the clones in other Disney parks are half that.
  • Haunted Mansion. While still a nice attraction with some great effects, it sure seems like they could upgrade this older ride with some amazing new technology. Oh well. Still a classic.
  • Tarzan's Treehouse. I can't really figure out why the Disneyland treehouse was re-themed for Tarzan when the Disney World version is still "Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse." I do like the Tarzan version better... but wish the character sculptures were animated.
  • Splash Mountain. Closed for temporary ride break-down.
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Compared to the Disney World Pooh attraction, this is lame. Compared to the Tokyo Disneyland Pooh attraction, it's complete shit. Why Japan put the money into a great Winnie the Pooh ride when the US versions are cheap and crappy remains a mystery.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Closed for refurbishment.
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. I used to think this shooting attraction was pretty amazing... until "Toy Story Midway Mania" hit the scene. It's still fun, just not as cool as an experience as the later shooting rides are.
  • Space Mountain. Closed for refurbishment.
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. I have mixed feelings on this. The "Nemo" parts are great... even if they are dark and hard to see. But everything else, which is most of the ride, if so painfully boring because nothing is happening. They really need to refresh this so it's all Nemo all the time.
  • Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. The original ride was great, but the update that happened back in 2011 made it remarkable. Even though I've ridden the Disney World version a dozen times to see all the random scenarios play out, this was the first time I got to see "hologram Yoda," which was very cool.
  • Disney Railroad, Main Street. Closed for temporary ride break-down.

CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE!

  • California Screamin'. While not the most exciting coaster in the world, it's such a long, smooth, beautiful ride that it is nevertheless one of my favorites.
  • Toy Story Midway Mania! One of the best new Disney rides to come along in years. It's a brilliant take on video games that only Disney/Pixar could imagine.
  • Grizzly River Run. A really fun (and wet!) attraction that simulates turbulent river rafting. A vastly superior ride than its bastard twin sister, Kali River Rapids, over at Disney World.
  • Soarin' Over California. Closed for refurbishment.
  • Radiator Springs Racers. I thought this was a nicer, smarter, cuter take on the technology from Epcot's "Test Track"... but it's hardly worth the 90+ minute wait to get in.
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. While not as immersive and interesting as the superior Disney World version, it's still a fun "faster than gravity" fall ride.

If you're thinking "Holy crap that's a lot of closed rides! you'd be right. And the horrible thing is that they're mostly the big "E-Ticket" rides that people most want to see... Splash Mountain, Space Mountan, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Soarin', Dinseyland Railroad... so it's a major bummer. Especially Space Mountain and Soarin', which are only closed because (apparently) Disney stupidly ignored OSHA warnings that were given last year. Oh well. I've riden them all before... many times... but it makes me sad for all the people who came all the way to Disneyland to experience them, only to be told "no."

Anyway...

After dinner I stopped by to see Abigail for a few minutes and get a new wallet, so that was a nice end to my day.

Now it's off to sleep before another busy day tomorrow...

   

Disneyland: Day Three!

Posted on Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Dave!No work today and a late flight home.

It was a golden opportunity to goof around Disneyland and California Adventure so I could do all the little things I never got around to for the past two days. Which, given the massive number of attraction closures, wasn't a lot. California Screamin'? CLOSED. Soarin' Over California? CLOSED. Radiator Springs Racers? CLOSED. Space Mountain? CLOSED. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad? CLOSED. I mean, come on... even the frickin' "Golden Zephyr" was CLOSED...

Disney CLOSED

And The Jungle Cruise is scheduled to close for refurbishment next week too.

Though it's not like Disney has to give a fuck. People don't pay to ride the rides... they pay to enter the park. So long as they open their doors, they're making money, regardless of how many attractions they're actually bothering to open. The problem is that with so many of the most popular rides being closed on a busy day like today, all the rides that are open are overwhelmed with massively long line. It makes for a pretty shitty day at Disneyland.

Well, not so much for me. I've ridden all the rides here dozens of times. But can you imagine the family who saved for three years to take that magical trip to Disneyland only to arrive and find tons of shit closed? Pretty harsh.

Oh well. Even with half the good shit not being open, Disneyland is still a fun place to be, I suppose. And I did get to ride Mickey's Fun Wheel, which I've never done before...

Paradise Pier and Mickey's Fun Wheel

Mickey's Fun Wheel

There's quite a view from the top...

Mickey's Fun Wheel View

I also stood in line for an hour-and-a-half to ride "Toy Story Midway Mania" because it's Just. That. Fun.

Time to fly...

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Californian

Posted on Friday, April 19th, 2013

Dave!The best piece of advice I give when people ask about visiting Disney World in Orlando is to stay on-site in a Disney hotel. It's part of the experience, it has all kinds of benefits, and even the cheapest Disney property assures you of a clean, comfortable, convenient place to stay. If I had the option of going to Disney World today and staying off-site... or saving my money for an additional six months so I could stay on-site... I'd wait the six months.

Disneyland is a little different, because the off-site hotels are often just as close and convenient as The Disneyland Hotel and Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel... even though you don't get the "Magic Mornings" early-entry and other benefits. The exception would be Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, which sits inside California Adventure...

Disneyland Map with Grand Californian Hotel

The hotel has its own private entrance to both California Adventure and Downtown Disney, which is pretty special.

But the biggest draw for me is that it's yet another architectural triumph from Peter Dominick, who designed Disney World's awesome Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge. Sadly, he died back in 2009, so I guess this is the last Disney hotel we'll be seeing from him. Staying at his hotels is an experience every bit as awesome as visiting Disney World or Disneyland...

Grand Californian Downtown Disney Entrance
The "Downtown Disney" private entrance to The Grand Californian.

Even the frickin' front doors are magnificent...

Grand Californian Doors
No joke... just walking up to those big main doors with the sun shining through is an amazing experience.

The rooms are quite nice, and everything reminds me very much of staying at Disney's Wilderness Lodge...

Grand Californian Room

And now... a word about the view.

Since I was already paying the huge expense of staying at The Grand Californian, I felt I might as well go all the way and get a "Premium View" room... which either faces Downtown Disney, the parks, or the pool courtyard. Downtown Disney is noisy, and I've seen many noisy pools, so I picked the "Premium Parks View."

Only to find that my third floor room had no view of the parks. All I could see was trees. And the snout of Grizzly Mountain... if I went to the extreme edge of my balcony and leaned out.

So I went back down to the lobby and complained. There it was explained to me that the trees have grown over the 13 years the hotel has been open, so the lower floors don't have the view they used to. This was kind of upsetting, because they still sell them as Premium Park View Rooms! If they KNOW that there's no view, why do they still sell them as such? Well, money. And "technically" it still is a "parks view" since the parks are in that direction... you just can't see them.

In any event, I got moved up to the fifth floor, which was better... but still not the sweeping view of the parks I had imagined. Mostly just trees...

Californian View Pano

You can see a little Space Mountain and Soarin' Over California easy enough to the left. And if you squint you can see Tower of Terror and Cars Land. And there's Grizzly Peak hiding behind a tree there. So, yeah... it's a parks view. Just not much of one.

So, if you stay at The Grand Californian, skip paying extra for a "Premium View" that's not very premium. If you must have a "Premium View" room, I'd probably go with the "pool courtyard" view. Sure you've got kids screaming at the pool all day long... but at least there's something interesting to look at.

Anyway...

I didn't have any camera except the one in my iPhone, so I don't have any photos of this amazing hotel.

Well, okay, I have two I took one night...

Grand Californian Lobby

Grand Californian Pool at Night

Overall, I give Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa my highest recommendation if you're visiting Disneyland. Yes, it's expensive. Very expensive. But it will enhance your Disney experience, and is likely worth the money (though I'd probably skip the "premium view" expense). I had a terrific stay, and would absolutely stay here again.

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Weekend

Posted on Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Dave!I'm trying not to work all weekend.

DAVETOON: Bad Monkey and Beer

   

   

   

Bullet Sunday 326

Posted on Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Dave!Trying not to let a truly crappy week of bad news keep me down... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Czech! I know I shouldn't have been shocked when Twitter exploded with morons wanting to bomb "Czechoslovakia" as retaliation for the Boston bombings... but I admit that I honestly was. Partly because "Czechoslovakia" ceased to exist in 1992 after splitting into two countries (Czech Republic and Slovakia). But mostly because the Czech ambassador had to make a public statement explaining that the Czech Republic and Chechnya (where the bombers originated) ARE TWO SEPARATE COUNTRIES. The level of idiocy at work here just boggles my mind. I mean, if you're going to stupidly advocate bombing an entire country, shouldn't you at least make sure you have the right one? I'd hate to lose Prague, one of my favorite cities on earth, because "Czech" sounds suspiciously like "Chechnya" (as if blaming all Chechens for the act of two men with only remote ties to the country wasn't idiotic enough to begin with). If only ignorance was fatal, this country might actually stand a chance.

   
• OMNI! In what I can only describe as "wonderful," The Internet Archive has now put every episode of OMNI Magazine online, and they're free to access for everyone!

OMNI Magazine

This groundbreaking magazine was something I treasured, and the copious number of talented writers who contributed to it are like a laundry list of genius. Absolutely worth your time to check out.

   
• CISPA! Why politicians keep dragging the CISPA "cyber security bill" back from the dead is a complete mystery to me. No American citizen in their right mind would want corporations and the government to have this kind of invasive power over their privacy, and yet here we go again. And what's even more horrific than the bill itself, is how many dumbfuck politicians voted for it to pass The House. TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY-EIGHT to ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-SEVEN? SERIOUSLY?!? President Obama has promised to veto this shit if it somehow passes The Senate, but I'm disgusted beyond reason that it's gotten this far. How. Much. Longer? How much longer are American citizens going to put up with this?

   
• Sequestration! And so it begins. I would once again like to take this opportunity to offer a big FUCK YOU to our government for being so astoundingly incompetent. Again. I'm sure that crippling the airline industry will get our economy right back on track. Seriously, how much longer are American citizens going to put up with this?

   
• Gaudi! Having been to Antoni Gaudi's masterpiece, The Sagrada Familia Basílica three times now, I can say without hesitation that it is one of the most remarkable architectural achievements I have ever seen. Even if it still isn't completed. I could wander around for hours and never get bored just looking at it...

LaFamilia Ceiling
An absolutely magnificent photo of the ceiling taken by SBA73

Which is why I was happy to see an article at The Verge concerning completion of the structure pop up in my feed reader. Apparently 2026 is the date... I hope I'm around to visit one last time so I can see it completed.

   
Annnnnd... midnight is approaching. I suppose I should at least pretend to get some sleep.

   

Veggie

Posted on Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Dave!This morning when I woke up I had an awesome idea for a blog post, but have since forgotten what it was. I can only guess I was going to talk about the perils of not writing things down after you turn 40, but who can say for sure?

Fortunately it's Earth Day today, so there's that to talk about.

Uhhhh... yeah... be kind to the earth... or whatever.

Well that didn't go very far now did it?

Except... Earth Day is also the anniversary of my becoming a vegetarian. I gave up meat on this date back in 1988. Which means it's been 25 years since I've had a hamburger.

A quarter-century since I've had a chicken nugget.

And 9131 days since I've eaten bacon.

   
No. I don't know how I've survived this long either.

   

Toof

Posted on Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Dave!And so I broke my tooth.

I don't know how I did it, but I ended up with this sharp crag that kept jabbing my tongue and catching food. My dentist was out last week, so a stand-in dentist ground it down. This kept me from going insane while I was at Disneyland, but didn't solve the problem.

Today was the day for that.

When it comes to dental work, I can't even stand to get my teeth cleaned. So you can imagine how I react to tooth reconstruction. The stabbing. The numbness. The grinding. The scraping. It's all I can do to keep from screaming the whole time. Fortunately, I have a really good dentist, so it was over before I knew it.

The good news? My repaired tooth is beautiful. It fits my bite like a glove.

The bad news? Something is bruised inside my jaw. Once the anesthesia wore off, I was in really bad shape...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave Toothache!

   
Luckily, I still have some Oxycodone left over from my last kidney stone, and it's doing a wonderful job of keeping me from jumping into oncoming traffic to get rid of the pain. I can only hope that whatever is killing me will get better overnight, because I do not have time for this...

Sweet Brown Says DAVE AIN'T GOT TIME FOR THAT!

Awwww! Who doesn't love Sweet Brown? Especially now that she's doing ads for a dentist!

And now I suppose I should take more prescription drugs and call it a day.

But first? Chocolate pudding.

   

Sick!

Posted on Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Dave!I don't take sick days.

Well, I rarely take sick days. It's such a rare event that I can't even remember the last time I've taken one. I go to work even when I'm sick, because that's just the kind of dedicated trooper I am.

But today was different because my aching jaw resulted in a migraine that was exponentially worse. Even looking at a computer screen for longer than 5 minutes made me want to vomit, so it was kind of pointless to go into work. Instead my activity was limited to taking painkillers and anti-nausea medication. It doesn't get much more fun than that.

With nothing to do but lay in bed all day, I tried to get a handle on my short-term goals for the remainder of the year (I gave up on long-term goals ages ago). I didn't come up with much...

  • See Iron Man 3.
  • See Star Trek Into Darkness.
  • Finish the tattoo on my forearm.
  • Figure out a way to visit Hard Rock Cafes in Singapore and Helsinki.
  • Draw more.

That's actually a pretty ambitious list, considering I don't have time to get any of it done.

And... I think my five minutes are up.

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Mixer

Posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Dave!Still in pain. But instead of doping up and laying in bed, I doped up and went to work today. I figure if I'm going to be miserable, I might as well try and be productive.

It didn't go very well. I got some stuff done, but never felt like myself. Sometimes in the middle of a project I'd forget who I was and what I was doing. Then I'd have to start all over again, which is the opposite of productive. Oh well. At least my mind was taken of my brain exploding. Kinda.

In happier news, I bought a new heavy-duty KitchenAid mixer for making bread...

KitchenAid Mixer

Previous loaves were mixed by hand... but I could never get the recipe-stated 7 cups of flour into the mix. My arms would start to die at 6 cups. But this mixer easily manages to take the 7 cups, which makes for a much nicer, more elastic dough.

And now for my review of the KitchenAid KV25MCX Mixer (which is a model made for Costco).

I have mixed feelings on this product, and really wish I had researched more before making my purchase. The only thing I did know was to make sure I got a "fixed-head" mixer instead of a "tilt-head" mixer. "Fixed-head" mixers are supposed to be more powerful, which is what you want when you are kneading bread. I also heard that KitchenAid was a high-quality, made in the USA brand.

The problem is that this model has a "wide" bowl, which is what you don't want when kneading bread. Apparently, wider bowls allow for too much slop, which makes the bread want to climb up the hook more easily instead of staying in the bowl. The problem is nowhere near as bad as I've read, but it does happen every once in a while during the mix. The good news is that wide bowls are better for just about everything else. Except I'm going to be using it for bread 95% of the time, so I guess I should have looked for a more appropriate model.

In non-bread-making news, the mixer is awesome. The wire whisk aerates like a champ. The flat beater is nicely designed to mix thoroughly, quickly, and with minimal mess. I like the controls. I thought I'd be unhappy not having a tilt-head, but the bowl-raise alternative isn't bad at all, even though it's a bit less convenient.

When it comes to build quality, my initial impression is favorable. It's looks tough and feels solid. KitchenAid claims the gears are metal, which should make for good longevity. The problem is that customer reviews claim that not all the gears are metal, and some people are reporting that their gears are stripping after 4-8 months of use. Needless to say, this would suck ass when I paid $330 for a professional, high-quality mixer. But KitchenAid has a one-year warranty, so hopefully I'm covered.

If I was starting all over again, I would have probably invested the extra $110 and got the Pro Series 600, which apparently excels at bread-making. Oh well. Live and learn, I guess.

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Categories: Food 2013Click To It: Permalink  11 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Cartwheels

Posted on Friday, April 26th, 2013

Dave!After three days, I'm finally starting to feel better. Not that I'll be doing cartwheels in my living room or anything...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave does a cartwheel

   

   

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Turd

Posted on Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Dave!After missing one day at work... and running at half-speed for two more... I've gotten incredibly behind. There are piles of projects on my desk, and I have no idea when I'm going to be able to get caught up.

So, naturally, I put in 16 hours today.

That really put the "turd" in my "Saturday." Especially considering I barely made a dent.

Right now, all I can think about is escape...

Makena Beach

Well, escape and a Choco Taco...

Choco Taco

Though that probably goes without saying.

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Categories: DaveLife 2013Click To It: Permalink  1 Comment: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Bullet Sunday 327

Posted on Monday, April 29th, 2013

Dave!You'd think I'd be tired of blogging after ten years, but obviously I'm a glutton for punishment... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Blogiversary! And it really has been ten years since this iteration of Blogography began. I bought the domain in March of 2002 and farted around with a hand-coded blog for a year. But then I ended up deleting it and starting over on April 28th, 2003. I managed to salvage a few old entries so, technically, Blogography began on April 18th, but I prefer thinking of the 28th as my blogiversary because that's when Apple's iTunes Music Store debuted as well. In any event, I should probably be celebrating that I made it this long...

Dave Tenth Blogiversary Celebration

Or committing myself to an insane asylum for keeping with it for this long. One or the other. Maybe both.

   
• Pot! Google's auto-complete is sure revealing. Guess it's a good thing it's legal here now...

Where To...

   
• Chase! And so I bought the latest LEGO video game for Nintendo 3DS. It's called LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins...

LEGO City Undercover Chase Begins

It's frickin' adorable.

It's also one of the most frustrating pieces of shit excuses for a video game I've ever played.

Billed as a prequel to the police-themed LEGO City Undercover for the Wii U system, this is a scaled-down version of the massive "sandbox" world of the original, but squeezed to fit in a 3DS. Even so, it's still a huge world filled with puzzles to solve and nifty stuff to collect. Along the way you have missions to accomplish which move you through the story and introduce you to the various areas of LEGO City. All of which are beautifully rendered, and yours to explore as your alter-ego, undercover cop Chase McCain. In an effort to mix things up a bit, McCain can adopt different undercover "disguises," each of which grants him new and unique abilities. It's all very clever and can be a lot of fun... when you're not screaming curse words at the game for being so horrendously frustrating.

I've been playing LEGO video games for years. And there's one thing they can never get right... vehicle control. Any time you have to drive ANYTHING in ANY LEGO game, you're assured of shitty, frustrating, worthless controls. Forget trying to actually accomplish something, you're lucky just to keep the damn car on the road. And there's a lot of driving in LEGO City Undercover. As if that weren't bad enough, certain scenarios require precision acrobatics that are beyond frustrating and pretty much destroy the game. It's astounding how the game can be so forgiving in some areas, but ruthlessly unforgiving in others, and it's enough to drive you insane.

Ultimately, there's enough humor, fun, and surprises to make me glad I bought LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins, but I sure wish that somebody would tell developer Traveler's Tales that frustrating does not equal fun. FIX THE FUCKING DRIVING CONTROLS NEXT TIME, ASSHOLES!

   
• Repugnant! Some people are such huge pieces of hypocritical garbage that they're pretty much irredeemable. Despite my defending her in the past, Sarah Palin has totally crossed that line. She probably crossed it a long time ago, but this latest round of bullcrap is what got me to take serious notice. What a fucking useless shit-stain on the fabric of society.

   
• Fugly! Wondering for the hundredth time why in the hell the United States has some of the ugliest fucking money on the planet. Seriously, Yes, I've harped on this before, but the latest release for the $100 bill is the worst yet and near vomit-inducing...

Hundred Front

Hundred Back

I know that rampant counterfeiting has made it so that certain design compromises have to be made to implement security measures... but this is fucking ridiculous. As if it weren't bad enough that our currency isn't worth a shit, we have to be embarrassed with this ugly, amateurish excuse for "design" that looks like shit too. Why can't they hire an actual graphic designer for important stuff like this instead of letting somebody's kid at the US Mint slap it together in Microsoft Word. Your (hideous) tax dollars at work, people!

   
And now I'm going to go contemplate whether I can survive ten more years of blogging.

   

GooGlass

Posted on Monday, April 29th, 2013

Dave!Odds are, you've heard of "Google Glass"... the computer you wear like a busted pair of sunglasses that can take photos, shoot videos, and do much of the stuff you can do with regular Google (such as search, get directions, send an email, check the weather, etc.). All in all, it's an impressive use of tech that could be a hint at how computers will even further integrate into our lives in the future.

If you haven't seen it, here's a first-person promo piece...

The problem most people have with GooGlass (as I call it) is twofold. First of all are the privacy concerns. Somebody wearing a unit could be filming you as you're having lunch or something. Second of all are the rudeness concerns. Somebody wearing a unit could be ignoring you as you're talking to them and instead concentrating on a video of kittens playing on the Glass screen.

I admit these are valid concerns.

But my problem with GooGlass is much bigger...

GooGlass Google Glasses
Photo courtesy of Google... because, well... you know...

   
Is there any way of wearing this crap on your face that doesn't make you look like a complete douchebag? (doucheborg?)

I only ask because I honestly don't think there is.

Maybe GooGlass will prove so compelling that people won't care.

It's like parachute pants are happening all over again.

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Categories: News - Politics 2013Click To It: Permalink  6 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Cinematic!

Posted on Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Dave!A fellow cinephile and I were chatting about the large number of awesome movies being released this year, and decided we should make lists of our most anticipated films so we could compare them. We started with 10 films each, then added another 10 to create a "Top 20" list. After some discussion, I added 5 more films, which means I now have a "Top 25 List of Dave's Most Anticipated Films" for the remainder of 2013.

I should probably come back and grade them all after I've seen them.

  1. Iron Man 3 (3 MAY) — I haven't been this excited for a movie sequel since The Empire Strikes Back. Robert Downey Jr. has created one of the best cinematic adaptations of a comic book character ever, and now he's teaming with writer/director Shane Black, who is literally the perfect candidate for the job. The resulting movie has no choice but to be frickin' amazing, and I can't wait.
  2. Star Trek Into Darkness (17 MAY) — The first film did the impossible... rebooted Star Trek in a way that this here die-hard fan absolutely loved. All I've wanted to do since seeing it was experience more. Here it comes.
  3. Red 2 (JULY 19) — In what I can only describe as "shocking," the movie version RED was actually superior to the comic book original. Partly because it seemed more focus and funny, but mostly because is was so impeccably cast. Here's hoping the sequel is more of the same.
  4. Elysium (9 SUGUST) — I have no idea what this film is about but am dying to see it. It's enough that it's Neil Blomkamp's follow-up to his smash debut District 9.
  5. Thor: The Dark World (31 DECEMBER) — Overall, I loved the first Thor film. They hit all the right notes and really did the character justice, which I wasn't expecting. Now that the set-up story is out of the way and everybody's seen exactly what Thor is capable of (thanks to The Avengers), there's an opportunity here to build a truly great super-hero franchise by focusing on the character's other-wordly Asgardian roots, and this movie looks to be doing exactly that.
  6. Man of Steel (JUNE 14) — I still HATE HATE HATE what they did to Superman's costume (seriously, this is about as the shittiest thing since Green Lantern) but the latest trailer looks pretty impressive. All I can do is hope that the film ends up being more faithful to the source material than I'm expecting. Even with my expectations in check, I'm pretty anxious to see this movie.
  7. Pacific Rim (12 JULY) — Giant. Fighting. Robots. The new trailer for this sci-fi flick is painfully epic, and I can't wait to see Guillermo del Toro's Aliens vs. Human Controlled Robots movie.
  8. Kick-Ass 2 (16 AUGUST) — The Red Mist is out for revenge, and his targets are Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl! Fortunately there are other heroes joining their ranks (including an nearly unrecognizable Jim Carey as Colonel Stars & Stripes). The original film was a guilty pleasure I've watched more times than I'll ever admit, and it looks like the sequel is ramping up the action to new levels of absurdity. How can I say no to that?
  9. Despicable Me 2 (3 JULY) — This animated feature caught me completely off-guard. I had low expectations when I started watching it on a long plane trip, but ended up loving the film. Now I'm a die-hard fan of the little minions from the story, and can't wait to see the sequel. And, speaking of surprisingly good animated films, when are we getting a sequel to Megamind?.
  10. The World's End (23 AUGUST) — Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. What else is there to say?
  11. Monsters University (21 JUNE) — Hands-down my favorite Pixar film is Monsters, Inc.... it was genius on too many levels to count. And, while I'm not enthused about the prequel premise they've got going on here, I am very much excited to revisit Mike and Sully one more time.
  12. The Lone Ranger (3 JULY) — As a huge fan of Johnny Depp in just about everything he's ever done, my expectations are high. His reimagining of Tonto looks fascinating, and the trailer looks action-packed, so I'm in.
  13. Riddick (6 SEPTEMBER) — And we've finally arrived at Chapter 3 of The Chronicles of Riddick film series. The first film was awesome. The second was a major step down but still decent. This installment is anybody's guess. But I'm a sucker for sci-fi so I won't be missing it.
  14. The Hangover: Part III (24 MAY) — The first Hangover is one of my all-time favorite comedies. The sequel copied just about everything from the original, then shitted all over it... but still, it was funny. This time around it sounds like Todd Phillips learned from his mistake and came up with something new. I'll give it a shot.
  15. R.I.P.D. (19 JULY) — The comic book was kind of hit-or-miss for me, but a movie might be a good fit since they can pick out the best bits from the "Rest In Peace Department" stories. Besides, who wouldn't want to see a team of undead cops hunt down criminals? If that wasn't enough to sell the film, it's starring Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges.
  16. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (20 DECEMBER) — The first Anchorman wasn't a great film... but it was packed with so many great moments that a sequel simply had to happen. Everybody's back for the second go-round (thankfully), and we're adding Harrison Ford and Josh Lawson to the cast. It can't possibly live up to my lofty expectations, but I want to see it anyway.
  17. World War Z (21 JUNE) — The book was epic. The audiobook was beyond epic. The movie looks visually interesting, but I'm just not sure of how it's going to translate. Brad Pitt wouldn't have been my first choice here, but he's passionate for the project, which could go a long ways towards selling me on it.
  18. 300: Rise of an Empire (2 AUGUST) — A prequel to 300 explaining how crazy Xerxes became The God King? Sign me up.
  19. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (4 OCTOBER) — While I loved the comic book and thought the first Sin City adaptation was great, it seems like too much time has passed for another movie. I still want to see it, I just wish I was a bit more enthusiastic.
  20. Jack Ryan (25 DECEMBER) — I really enjoyed the Jack Ryan novels by Tom Clancy, and some of the films have been good too (despite starring different actors like Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck). This time it's Chris Pine (Capt. Kirk) in the role, which should be interesting. What worries me is that this time the story isn't based on one of the novels, which could go either way.
  21. Gravity (4 OCTOBER) — The premise of this film is just too fascinating to deny (and the fact that it's by Alfonso Cuarón doesn't hurt either!). Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are astronauts alone in space after things go very, very wrong and their ship explodes.
  22. Machete Kills (13 SEPTEMBER) Look, I'm going to give anything Robert Rodriguez puts out a shot. This sequel to the nasty, violent original may not be the most important film of this year (or any year) but I'm betting it will be entertaining.
  23. The Seventh Son (18 OCTOBER) — This by-the-numbers battle of good vs. evil fantasy flick has a frighteningly large probability of being a disaster... but it's based on The Wardstone Chronicles (The Spook's Apprentice, to you Brits) which has me intrigued.
  24. Oldboy (11 OCTOBER) — The original Korean version of this film is a total master work and an amazing film. That being said, there is no need for a shitty American remake. Except... SPIKE LEE DIRECTING?!? Could not be more curious about how he's going to handle the material.
  25. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (13 DECEMBER) — This movie is here because I can't very well leave it off my list. Even though I probably should. Peter Jackson has taken one small book and stretched it out so far that there's more filler than substance, and it's just an awful mess. I mean, seriously, THREE FILMS?!? At most this should have been two films, and I really think it could have been done in one. In any event, I am anxious to get the middle chapter out of the way so we can finally be done with this damn thing next year.

   
That's a lot of movies.

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