Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Happy Joy Joy

I just finished a week of starting work at 3am and leaving at noon, so now that that's over, the happy happy joy joy has begun for me.

Aside from that, I've got a week off of work! So I plan on resting up, having fun with my family, editing on the show, and maybe writing a little bit or getting squared away for the upcoming 52/25 challenge.

What's that? You don't know what that is? Well, check it out. Lizanne, Renee, Rish and I would love to have you along.

Don't really have much to say, other than Happy Christmas, Merry Holidays, Feliz Chanukah, and Fröhliche Kwanzaa to everyone and to all a good night.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Spin Out

For the last few weeks since we came back from vacation, we've gotten nothing but rain here. Balmy weather for winter, at least for us. This isn't Sacramento anymore, it doesn't rain at Christmas time.

But now the snow is back in town. It came back in earnest last night. I'm working the early morning shift this week, so I headed out to my car at 2:30 a.m. to find it practically buried in snow. It was probably a foot high on the hood and roof. I took a few minutes to brush it all off, and then headed out.

At 2:30 in the morning, the plows haven't really had time to get out and clear all the roads yet. So for the most part those roads were a foot deep in snow, with only the trails of the cars that had come before you to indicate where the road even was.

Early on in my drive to work, I was wending my way along a lonely Freeway, when I felt the tail end of my car sliding out from behind me. I know what to do in that case, so I turned into the spin, and my car straightened back out, but it wasn't done with me. Immediately, my tail end spun in the other direction. This time I was unable to keep control of the car, and I was whirling along the road like a pinwheel in the wind.

When I finally came to rest, I was sitting sideways in the road, but otherwise, I was fine. I hadn't hit anything, and no one had hit me. I cranked the wheel, pressed the gas, and soon had my car righted. I proceeded on my way to work, happy that things weren't any worse than they'd been. Luckily for me, I was on a big three lane wide road that was completely empty of traffic. There was simply nothing to hit.

I have to count my blessings, because yesterday, a group of people had the same problem that I did. They spun out on the highway, losing control of their car. Only the highway they were driving on was a busy highway. A truck that was following close behind them broadsided their car, and just for good measure, one other car got in on the action as well. Three of the four people in that first car were killed on impact, and the fourth is critically injured in the hospital. I never thought I would consider having to be at work at 3:00 a.m. a blessing, but today, it sure turned out to be one.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Lights

The other day, I was driving home from work, and as I was topping the last hill before my house, a car coming in the opposite direction flashed his headlights at me a bunch of time. I wasn't sure what he wanted to tell me. My headlights were on...I wondered if maybe one of the bulbs was out, and I was driving around like One-Eyed Willie or something. Or was it something else? Was there danger ahead? Debris on the road? I slowed down just in case. There could be a cop waiting ahead, for all I knew, just hoping I'd speed down the hill.

There were several cars behind me, and they were probably all irritated that I had slowed down, but when we all passed the sheriff's car that was positioned in the church parking lot just past the point where the speed limit drops from 45mph to 35mph, they probably changed their curses to thanks. I know I did.

It's Christmastime, but I have no idea if that motivated this guy who flashed his lights at me or not. He definitely spread a little more peace on the earth and I felt his good will toward men. I sure couldn't handle a speeding ticket right now, so I'm really grateful to that guy for warning me.

In the future, I'll have to try to remember to return the favor, or pay it forward or whatever the proper phrase may be.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


...was not only a fine film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It apparently is something that I have a tendency to suffer from. I never knew until I put myself hundreds of feet in the air on the bridge that spans the canyon where the Hoover Dam is located.

Here I am, taking another crappy self-portrait. I didn't get all the dam in the background, but it's okay, because I got a picture of the dam by itself.

After snapping these noteworthy photos, I looked down at the canyon below me. My stomach did not appreciate the view. I was sick to my stomach for at least a half hour after that. It took about that long for my stomach to quit complaining two days before when we went on those world famous teacup rides at Disneyland too.

I guess I'm just a lightwieght after all. If only the scale agreed with me. Too many snacks in the car, and now it tells me I'd better start exercising or the next time I step on there it may break.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Just When You Thought It Was Safe... go back in the water, the fat guy shows up.

Yes I am very skilled at the self-portrait.

You know, I found that the beach was much more private when visited in December. Maybe that's because the water is so bone-numbingly cold. Sure it only gets worse the farther north you go, but nobody's dumb enough to get in the water farther north.

Not only did I freeze my feet to painful levels, the damned seagulls at my lunch when I had my back turned. One bird pecked through the plastic bag to get at our bread, and once a seagull has touched something of yours, you sure as hell don't put it in your mouth. Rats with wings.

We wound up eating at a nearby McDonald's. Not a huge step up from seagull-pecked bread, but at least it was sanitary.

Friday, December 10, 2010

You Gotta Hear The Remix!

I've been to Disneyland a few times in my life, but it's been many years now. I'm not like some of those serious Disney-philes that are there at least once a year sometimes for weeks at a time though. I've been to Disneyland twice before and Disneyworld once. But that was enough to get the feel of it, you know. Disney is a peculiar kind of park. It's for kids, and it's kind of anchored in a certain time period's technology. Animatronic figures make up a huge part of their attractions, from the Abe Lincoln to the Carousel of Progress to the Small World to the Jungle Cruise to the Tiki Room to get what I mean.

A lot of these rides have been the same since the 1950s when the park opened in the first place. So everybody gets that same Disney experience. And many of these rides have become so iconic that even though people hate them, know they will hate them, they still stand in line for them and take the time to float through them at least once.

Now I'm not one of those people who might hate a Disney ride. I went on the Small World ride last week and actually loved every minute of it, especially the big finale. But it wasn't the normal Small World ride. It was the remix.

During the Christmas season, Disney does everything up in fantastic Christmas decorations. They're really nice and beautiful. They have a Christmas parade, and fireworks that culminate with a fake snowfall (pretty cool, except that I see real snow all the time. We'd come to L.A. to escape the snow).

There's main street done up in Christmas decorations.

And the winter version of Sleeping Beauty's castle.

But, like I said, I got the remix of Small World. It was the song everyone knows, mixed into a medley of Christmas songs like Jingle Bells. And they did this in other places too.

Yeah, that's Jack Skellington. He makes the Haunted Mansion his home during the holidays. That's cool, to me. I wonder what my kids thought though. They'd never been to Disneyland. They've never seen the Haunted Mansion as it normally is. It's hard to appreciate a remix or a cover song when you've never heard the real tune. And worse yet, will my kids show up at Disneyland next time and think it's not as good as the remix is?

It's like me hearing the Tiffany version of the song before ever hearing the Beatles version, and then being disappointed when I finally heard the original, because it was different from Tiffany's version. That's just not right. Not right at all. I hope it doesn't happen to my kids that way.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

I ran into this wreath that had been set out in honor of the late Leslie Neilsen. It was of course placed over his star. A great thing about modern technology is that even though Mr. Neilsen or any other star leaves us, their films or music or whatever will always remain for us to remember them by and enjoy again and again.

A guy that you and I both consider funny told me that if he had to pick the funniest film of all time it would be Airplane!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How Far Can Those Donations Take Me?

No, we're not Escape Pod. That's not the real Eiffel Tower. It turns out there's a nice replica out in "The Middle Of The Nevada Desert."

Las Vegas has a few other replicas too. The Statue Of Liberty can be found there, and that robot that has been impersonating Cher for the last fifteen years performs there all the time too. Rest in peace Cher.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

As If Lions Weren't Scary Enough

Some mad scientist in Las Vegas had to go and bioengineer them with laser beam eyes!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Why No Episode?

I'm here to beg your forgiveness. I continue to underachieve. It's been quite a dang long time since we put out our last episode, and it's all my fault. I hope none of you have gone into any sort of withdrawal. Some people have claimed that such a thing could happen to them in emails that they've sent in, so I'm praying that I don't have guilt to deal with too.

Why is it taking so long? Well, the second Broken Mirror episode it turns out is more than a short story. It falls soundly in the novelette category. The story is 10,000 words, which makes it one of the longest stories we've ever done. I think only "A Place So Foreign," by Cory Doctorow and "Casts A Demon Shadow," by Derek J. Goodman were longer, in all 85 or 90 or whatever episodes were on. So, it's taking me a long time to edit my way through this story.

Add to that, my family and I took a trip to Las Vegas and then Disneyland this past week. So, I just plain wasn't working on it for that week. I'm back at it, and I have a strategy that I may put into action to try to get double the work done on the story, editing both the sound effects as well as the story reading at the same time. Normally I finish editing the story reading before I start on the sound effects, so doing this could save a decent amount of time.

Anyway, that's my deal. I'm excited to get this story done, and get the next Broken Mirror done as well. I hope you guys like to listen to them as much as I like to work on them. Broken Mirror is one of my favorite things of each year, and I really look forward to the reaction.

I'll be back soon to talk about my experiences at Disneyland and in Las Vegas.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NaNoWriMo Is A Go Go!

Like I said in my previous post, I wasn't able to do NaNoWriMo this month. Or at least, not the way they want me to do it from Nov. 1st to Nov. 30th. Instead, I had a shload of crap dropped on top of me to begin November. There was overtime at work, and stress and pressure to the point that my stomach hurt when I came home from work at night. I picked the wrong damn time to do this no sugar bet with my wife, because I was in some serious need of some comfort food, and comfort food is not comforting unless you can indulge whatever your craving may be that day (then again, you could say that I picked the right time, because I'd probably have gained back all the weight I lost on my last diet in one week's time if I hadn't).

Now, however, my overdose of stress has ended. The other guys at work get to deal with the rest of the crap, and I'm free. So, I could do a sort of NaNoWriMo of my own, just starting late and ending late. I was thinking that I might be able to change my future by participating in this event. I don't expect to produce a great book, but I do hope to produce a writing habit that could eventually lead me to some writing skill. Some of you had some encouraging comments to that effect, and today I read a blog post from Mary Robinette Kowal on the topic. She said that her debut novel, Shades of Milk and Honey, was written as a NaNoWriMo book. So there's even the possibility of producing something publishable (perhaps with a little post NaNoWriMo editing). Not likely on your first try--Kowal said she did NaNoWriMo three different times--but even that is possible.

I think I will start on November 15th and end on December 15th. I think I could probably keep with it that whole time. The only problem I foresee is the fact that we will be taking a vacation to Disneyland in the middle there, so it could trip me up, but we have a laptop that I can bring with me and type on wherever we may be, so I'm going for it anyway. The longer I wait to start, the longer I'll wait to ever get published by someone other than my own Audio Magazine.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holiday Competition

The wife and I are doing a sort of competition during the holidays. It's one of those stop being fat things. No sugar for the months of November and December with free days on Thanksgiving and Christmas...and perhaps New Years Eve or Christmas Eve, we haven't really decided on those yet. The idea, of course, is to avoid all those sweets that are brought into the office or wherever during the holiday season.

We only started on Monday, and I've already had to turn down pumpkin pie, apple pie, leftover Halloween candy, root beer floats, ice cream cake, and traditional chocolate cake. I guess it's good that we started when we did or there'd be thousands of calories from sweets already in my system.

The competition part is that whoever gives in and indulges in sweets on days that aren't free must do the chore of the other person's choice. My wife has already indicated that scrubbing the toilet will probably be chore number one for me. Not that I'm too good to do such a chore, but if I can get out of it (and benefit my body in the process) then why wouldn't I?

I guess we'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lady Jade's Lair

I don't know if you've ever followed the links over from the Dunesteef site or not, but if you haven't, I'm now bringing it to you. Rich Girardi, who has done voices on several of our episodes, has a...I don't know what to call it...a YouTube show or something like that. It's called Lady Jade's Lair, and it is muppet-like puppets involved in all sorts of fun hijinx. The muppets have fun characters, and it's really well done. So, anyway he did a special Halloween episode, and there was a special surprise at the end for me.

As if I wasn't depressed enough about my birthday...

(in memoriam *snicker*)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

NaNo NoNo?

Okay, things have conspired to make NaNoWriMo a little bit impossible for me. The time that I could use writing extensively has been taken from me. My sister volunteered me for one thing. And then there's a giant project at work that I'm going to have to do as well. So until the eighth or ninth of November, my time will be scarce.

So, I was wondering, it's still just as good if I start on November tenth and write to December tenth isn't it? I mean, I won't get a NaNoWriMo super star student sticker to put on my shirt, but in reality, it'll accomplish the same thing for me in my life, right?

I really liked the idea of trying to use NaNoWriMo to jumpstart myself as a writer, and I'm not ready to let it go just because the week that it starts is shot for me. Then again, I suppose it's fairly likely that something else will come along to screw me over on the tenth. If that happens, then it's time to say this is or cut bait,*t or get off the or do not, there is no try...or some other platitude like that. Platitudes are good for a writer to use in abundance aren't they? I wish I knew...I guess I have a lot to learn about writing. I really need to get started.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Party

We had our Halloween party at my work today. I pretty much whimped out and wore this as my costume:

Yeah, it's just a mask and a plastic ring along with my Green Lantern shirt that I already owned. It's hard to wear a Halloween costume for a whole day at work though, y'know?

The main reason I made this post at all, however, is because I wanted to post this guy's costume:

Pretty freakin' impressive, I thought. The guy made it himself with paper maché. I'm always so impressed by people who do things like that. Maybe some day I'll put that kind of effort into my own costume instead of just grabbing a T-shirt out of my closet and calling that a costume...but probably not.

Oh, I almost forgot this:

Yeah, that's a freaking pumpkin. Hard to believe, but I saw it with my own eyes. It's not molded clay, it's carved pumpkin.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Is It Worth It?

Okay, enough of me whining. Instead a completely non-depressing post.

Rish asked me the other day about NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month event that happens each year in November. He asked me if I had to start in November and write a novel, what would I write. Since November is very close, I figured I would have to use a story idea that I had done significant planning on already. So I told him what story I would do, the one about the alien possession...hell, I mentioned it in this week's episode that just hit this afternoon.

So, then Rish went home, and I was left alone with my thoughts. My eyes are always bigger than my stomach, and soon I was wondering if NaNoWriMo was something that I could accomplish...or at least attempt to accomplish. After a little while, I had basically convinced myself that I should do it. Then a bunch of crap happened that sucked away all my free time for the next week, and now I'm wondering again if it is possible.

So, I pose these questions:
  • Do you think something like NaNoWriMo would be worth it? Or just a waste of time and energy? Just a frenzy that accomplishes nothing useful, destined to end badly?
  • Do any of you have experience with NaNoWriMo?
  • What was your experience like?
  • What do you think I should do?

Jeez, I'm Old!

I'm old enough that now my birthday is no longer a happy occasion.

The closer it gets the more depressed I feel. Why do we all have to get old? Why couldn't it just be you and not me? That would be better, right? Right?

Monday, October 25, 2010

October Scary Story

Today I finally sat down and took the time to write out my October Scary Story Event entry. It's short, just a flash story, and it's fairly crappy, but hey, I did it.

1440 words, and I'm that much closer to a million, right?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Stupid Thing Of The Week Follow-Up Report

Just a quick follow-up to last week's stupid thing of the week. Remember it? It was when I forgot to look at my schedule and accidentally drove my 45-min commute to work only to realize that I wasn't supposed to be there for another three hours. Then I remained sort of stranded, because it was too much driving to go all the way back home, because I wouldn't be there long before I had to turn around and come all the back to work. So I wound up wasting time around town until my actual shift finally started. Remember that?

Yeah, I did that again today. Someday I'll learn, but apparently us folks on the dumber side of the street need repeated lessons before it takes.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What's Update

So, after whining extensively the other day on here, I made that goal to write for a half hour each day. Small bites, and eventually you eat the whole elephant, right?

Just as an update to everyone who commented and offered advice, I did manage to write for a half hour today. 520 words worth.

I think I need to be careful with this story though, or it may end up like other ones that I jumped into without preparting enough for. So tomorrow, I will write on the character profiles, before going any further.

I'm going to try using Abbie's "Not allowed to..." method, forbidding myself from logging into my email, Facebook, AIM, Twitter, etc., until after I've written my half hour. We'll see how my resolve works on that.

Thanks to all for your comments.

Stupid Thing Of The Week

Okay, I'm going to steal a page from Rish here...well, I'm going to steal a title from Rish here and call this the Stupid Thing of the Week.

Last night, Rish and I got together to do our weekly podcasting marathon. We finished up at about 3am, and Rish headed home. This morning, I got up at 8am, and groggily made my way to work. When I walked in the door, one of my co-workers looked up, and did a double take.

"What are you doing here?" He asked, "I thought you weren't in this morning."

My stomach dropped. He was right, I was supposed to come into work not at my normal time of 10am, but for the evening shift starting at 1:30pm. With my commute being almost an hour each way, it didn't make sense for me to go all the way home, only to turn around and come all the way back an hour and a half later. I could have slept later (which I always desperately need on Tuesday mornings). On top of that, my wife, who also works full-time, had a day off today, so I could have spent the whole morning with her (and we get precious little time together as it is) if only I'd paid attention to my schedule.

So, I spent the morning wandering around stores, and trying to sleep in my car. I wasted my whole morning away at nothing of worth.

If I could only get my hands on that a-hole that changed my schedule around, I'd end him.

You've probably guessed it by now, but the guy who makes the schedules for me at work? Yeah, it's me.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What's Up

I used to go to Dean Wesley Smith's blog site a lot. I really liked the advice and experience that he would pass down to us aspiring authors out there. I can't bring myself to go over there anymore. It just gets me down.

I hardly post on my own blog anymore. I feel guilty when I spend any time working on it.

I guess that's what life is all about, guilt and depression.

I have a family, and they demand a certain percent of my attention. They deserve even more of that attention. Someday, I'll be regretful for not giving them every moment they deserve, when they've grown and gone, and it's too late to give them what they deserve.

I have a job that demands a certain percent of my attention. It deserves less of my attention, but I've always been one of those people who gives their all for the job. I guess I don't belong to that entitlement generation.

I have this hobby that demands a certain percent of my attention. It's a little surprising how much work that podcast can be, even with all the help that people like Nicole and Bryan and all of our slush readers give us.

Then I have my dreams and ambitions. We have a listener who has been going back and listening to all our shows from the beginning, and Rish asked him to remind us of any ongoing gags that we use on the show. One of the things he mentioned is how we talk a lot on the show about stories that we will probably never write. Damn, that never stops weighing on my mind. Since I was a young man, I've wanted to be a writer. I've been pulled in one direction or another as I cruised through life, but the other things always faded away eventually. The writer inside me never goes away though.

My birthday is coming soon. Another year gone, and a whole lot more of nothing done to acheive my dreams. This year, I learned from Dean Wesley Smith the pathway that needs to be taken to become a writer. I'd been going along for years thinking that talent was what mattered, not hard work. He put me straight. What I need to do is write. Write, write, write. It's how one goes from being a mediocre writer to a good writer, and from good to great. Learning and practicing. When I learned that, I started immediately wishing that I'd heard it years ago. So many years wasted dreaming rather than practicing. Polishing my one story rather than practicing by writing another.

But it's been months since I learned what I need to do, and I still don't do it. I suppose I have many years to come that I will also waste dreaming rather than practicing. I just don't know where I can fit any of that stuff in. I already mentioned the time I have to spend on my job, my family, and my podcast hobby. I can barely find time for the podcast. And it's a never ending guilt circle. I feel guilty for ignoring my family to work on the show, so I try to work on it late at night when everyone has already gone to bed. When I start thinking about writing, I feel guilty that the podcast is being left unattended to. We'll never get a show a week like we say we want to.

Wow. Writing this crap has got me seriously depressed. Meanwhile, Rish is pinging me on the IM telling me about the skits he's writing for the show. Over the summer I came within a hair's breadth of quitting the podcast. Rish was with me on it for a while, but he got over it, and now, whenever I mention anything about it, I can see the hurt in his eyes. Quitting the podcast would be taken as a serious betrayal, I think. If I'd started it up by myself, and done it solo, I could've just dropped it whenever I wanted, like I did with my soccer podcast that I did three episodes of before deciding it was too much work for too little payoff. With Rish on board, however, it has to be a mutual decision, and I can tell that he doesn't agree with me.

Then there's all the listeners. We have a bunch of great listeners that would feel betrayed as well if I just decided to throw up my hands and say, "Eff you all, I quit." I don't know what to do. I'm sure if I quit the show, all that would happen is that I'd find some other way to occupy my time rather than writing. So I suppose there's no point in it at all.

I guess what I need to do is force myself to write a short amount each day, like a half hour. And then, when it gets to where I need more time, I can consider something more drastic. But before I throw away the one good creative thing I do, I better make sure I will actually replace it with writing if I did quit.

Half-hour a day. I could manage that, right? Don't answer that...I'm trying to not be depressed.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pussy Cat

Have I mentioned how much of a 'fraidy cat my cat is before? Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that my cat is a pussy, but that's a little vulgar. We'll leave it at 'fraidy.

Not sure how it happened. Maybe my five year old daughter was too mean to the thing when it was a kitten. I don't know. I like to call it Cringer, like He-Man's cat before it becomes the mighty Battle Cat. The thing cringes away from me every time I walk past it. Especially if I happen to be carrying something. It's like it expects me to hurl whatever I'm holding at it, or something. I guess I must have yelled at it too many times when I caught it on my table eating food off our dishes. But I sure as hell wasn't going to let that continue.

Anyway, yesterday, I was in the kitchen, staring into the refrigerator trying to figure out what to make for dinner, when I hear the cat scratching desperately on the sliding glass door. It wanted in badly. I looked out there, to see what was the cause of the desperation, and I couldn't help but laugh.

On the porch, was a rabbit. And my cat desperately wanted to get away from it. I ran and got my camera to prove it. By the time I could snap the picture, the rabbit had hopped down from the porch, but the cat was no less desperate to get inside. Rabbits, being the fierce kings of the wilderness that they are, frighten my cat to the bones.

I remember the first time my cat encountered this rabbit. The rabbit belongs to a family down the street. They are not very good keepers of pets, however, and the thing is always out of its cage and roaming the streets. I'm surprised that the coyotes haven't made a meal of it yet, really. The rabbit is becoming comfortable in my yard though. It's here pretty much every day. It's comfortable enough to lay a bunch of rabbit pellets on my lawn. I hope the kids don't confuse them for chocolate covered raisins, that would be bad. Wow, I'm digressing a lot here today. I sound like my friend who can never get to the point of any story that he's telling, always bogged down in inconsequential details, to the point that hearing him tell a story is comical not because the story is funny but the story telling is so bad. Oh, crap, I did it again.

Anyway, I remember when this rabbit first met my cat. It was sitting there on our lawn harmlessly twitching its nose, and my cat spied it. The cat was very interested in this new beast. It went toward it, stalking slowly, stealthily. Then, without warning, the rabbit hopped forward a pace. My cat ran for the hills as though the rabbit had released a piercing, deep-throated pitbull-like bark when it hopped. I don't know if I've ever seen the cat move so fast. It was unbelievably comical.

Now today the rabbit was back. I looked outside, and there's Cringer, quivering atop our picnic table. There were no trees big enough nearby to climb up and escape, so the cat chose the next best option. This picture is much more demonstrative of the fear that my cat feels toward this frigging rabbit.

I love that nervous look downward. But I can't blame the cat, because the rabbit could leap from its place there in the grass and gnaw the cat's head off with its nasty, big pointy teeth.

The rabbit doesn't seem to be going anywhere. So maybe there will be more stories in their saga. Ones that I can tell poorly with lots of pointless digressions. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 17, 2010

My F@#%ed Up Life

I just wanted to apologize to you all for not posting a thing for the past several weeks. I've been working the worst shift available to me. From 3:00 AM to 11:30 AM each day. I covered for one of the guys for a week. On top of that, they've needed me to work weekend mornings as well. And just when I thought I'd paid my dues, and was done with the terrible shift, another one of the guys who works the shift normally calls me to say that his wife just went into labor. He'd saved up six days of vacation for this event. So I was back again. Several more days to go still.

It's really wiped me out. It's made me very unproductive. Rish was spitting mad at me when I told him I was behind on the editing of the podcast for this week. All I could do was pledge to get better. I've tried hard, and I think the show will come out on time this week. So that'll be unusual. We'll have three shows out in three weeks. That's like our entire output for the summer.

Anyway, I'll try to not leave you guys in the dark for so long again. I've got a real great story about a rabbit coming up for you tomorrow. Well, not that great, but considering the rest of this blog, it's a cracking good story!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Welcome To The Night Machine

If you're a long time listener, you've probably heard Rish say something along the lines of, "I don't think I could be intimate with a girl who didn't love that song," or, "that movie," or, "that Bachelor Pad show on ABC," or something like that. He hasn't been intimate with anyone that wasn't a pixel generated image on a computer screen for a long, long, long, long time, and that may be because of the high standards he has set for those with whom he could be intimate. Maybe not, I don't know. He did read The Lord of the Rings in high school instead of...well, you know.

Anyway, one of the first things I heard him use that phrase with was Night Ranger's 1984 power ballad "Sister Christian" (you'll notice the trend at some point, it's almost always 80s songs and movies that are included in the, "I don't think I could be intimate with a girl who didn't love..." phrase). I was just looking on Wikipedia, and I discovered that "Sister Christian" peaked at number five on the billboard charts. I find that incredible. That song was freaking huge! It must have been released at the same time as Michael Jackson's "Beat It," Madonna's "Like a Virgin," Prince's "When Doves Cry," and Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time," or something. 1984 was a good year, after all, that's why that guy in "This Must Be The Place" picked it as his year after all.

Anyway, despite Rish's sick fixation on the song, he's never even considered listening to another Night Ranger song. Weird how that works with music. I know there must be tons of songs that are the same way for me. I love them, yet have never given the band another chance to reel me in. Why would that be?

Recently, the radio took it upon itself to amend that problem for Rish. Just the other day, I got an IM from Rish that said, "Who sings the song that goes, 'when you close your eyes, do you dream dream about me." I have been a fan of Night Ranger since the release of "Sister Christian," but unlike Rish, I'd been exposed to many of their other songs. So I knew immediately that the answer was Night Ranger.

Later that same day, Rish and I met for our podcasting session, and Rish said, "that song was on the radio again on the way over. Isn't that weird?"

Then the next day, again I get an IM, "Guess what song's on the radio right now?"

Maybe Glee did a performance of that song this week or something. They did that with "Ice Ice Baby," and it was suddenly all over the radio for a week or so. Otherwise, there's no freaking explaining it.

It is, however, a really good song. I know that 80s rock music has received a really bad reputation ever since Nirvana denounced it to a generation of young folks. It never has recovered in the theater of public opinion. It's seen as cheesy and awful. It's been given derogatory nicknames like hair bands or butt rock, but for an old guy like me, it has come back into favor. So, if you're like Rish, a fan of butt rock and, especially, 80's power ballads but you have never given Night Ranger a chance beyond "Sister Christian," I offer this playlist to you. It's got some of Night Ranger's best songs on it. Listen to it through with an open mind, and you may find that you like Night Ranger more than you expected you could.

As a bonus, there's an acoustic version of "Sister Christian" on the end of the playlist. However, I have a suspicion that it's not actually performed by the guys from Night Ranger. I think it's actually a cover, but it's a good cover, so enjoy that too.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Friday, August 27, 2010

Can It Be?

Rish told me about a new flash fiction website that Bosley Gravel has started up called the Cavalcade of Terror. I checked it out, and read the two stories he had up so far. I remember the days when we first started up, and no one knew who we were (except people submitting to us) and how excited we were for our ten listeners, or one listener. It would certainly take a while, but I was sure his site would get there some day, and what a long strange trip it will be. It was almost a nostalgic moment for me.

Then, a few days later, I was trying to force myself to write something, and moving through my folders with my stories in them, I came across the second story that I wrote while I was on vacation last summer in Canada. I'd really liked the story, but it was well over a hundred words, so it wouldn't be going to the Drabblecast, and for most anywhere else it was way too short. But wait! Wasn't Bosley Gravel's site a flash fiction one? Indeed it was, so I thought I'd give the story a chance, and sent it along to Mr. Gravel.

I expected to get rejected, because that's what happens to my writing, but wonder of wonders, Mr. Gravel liked the story, and decided to run it. And now it is available for all to read. So, if you'd like to check it out, swing over to Bosley Gravel's Cavalcade of Terror and give it a read. It's really short, so you can read the whole thing in about two maybe three minutes. Leave a comment there about it, if you like. You can leave one here as well. As long as they're not too critical. Be constructive. Remember, I am a real person, despite the silly name.

And, if you like the story, I may have another one that is similar coming soon. It's percolating in my brain right now, and soon I will start writing it out. It'll be a lot different, but it'll have a similar don't know, whatever.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Joss's Memorable Line

I started buying DVDs way back in the early part of the last decade. At first I had no aim or goal in mind, I just bought whatever touched my fancy. Soon, I realized that I would quickly waste any and all money that I had on these things if I kept this strategy up. So I made the rule that I would only buy a movie if I expected that I would watch it at least once every two years. That way, I would get my money's worth out of buying it versus renting it.

Of course, I still bought way more DVDs than I ever watched once every two years or at all for that matter. Recently, I looked at my DVD collection, and wondered why the hell I had bought most of them. I could count on one hand the discs that I'd ever watched even once. What was I thinking? Then I remembered, I was thinking that it would be cool to sit down and watch these movies with my son when he finally got old enough to handle them.

Well, he's ten years old now, and I think he's made it to the age of being able to understand and enjoy all the movies I've been saving up. So we've started watching them together. In fact I watch them with all my kids. My eight-year-old daughter and my six-year-old daughter as well.

We started with the Spiderman movies, and the kids loved them. I tried to make it a weekly event, but the kids would have none of it. As soon as we finished one, they wanted to see the sequel. If I didn't let them watch it right away, they would start asking again the next morning, and not stop pestering me until I relented and let them finally watch it.

This week, I watched 2000's X-Men. This movie, along with the even better X2: X-Men United are singlehandedly responsible for my interest in comic books today. I picked up my first graphic novel from the library because of a desire to know more about the plotlines that I had been introduced to in those films.

The movie is a really good one. My eight-year-old initially didn't want to watch it, but she was won over pretty quickly.

I have to admit, though, that I'm glad that the kids don't get all the jokes in these movies just yet. For example, there's that great exchange near the end of the film where Wolverine has been fighting Mystique disguised as Wolverine. The other X-Men are confused as to who is who. When Wolverine reappears after the fight, Cyclops insists that he prove that he's the real Wolverine.

"You're a dick," Wolverine says, and Cyclops merely nods. This is enough proof for him. It's a great sequence. Rish told me once that it was the only thing in the script that remained from Joss Whedon's time working on the script, and I believe it, because it sounds like one of Joss's clever lines.

However, I always feel a little squeamish exposing my kids to language like that. They'll learn to be foul-mouthed, pieces of crap someday, but I don't think they need my help to get there. In this particular case it seems that I didn't help them at all, because, as soon as the exchange was over, my eight-year-old chuckled and repeated the lines.

"It's me!" she said, repeating Wolverine's line.

Then, "Prove it," she said, repeating Cyclops's part.

"You're a tick!" she said, finishing off what she thought Wolverine's last line in the exchange was. She paused and then asked, "Daddy, what's a tick?"

I smiled, struggling not to laugh out loud, and said, "It's a little bug."

My eight-year-old smiled, and my ten-year-old son laughed and said, "they don't like each other."

I'm glad I didn't have to explain to my eight-year-old daughter what a dick was. And, while nowhere near as good, a tick is a passable line in that exchange. Someday the kids will see that again, and see that they were wrong in what they heard, and know that I led them astray. But I think they'll understand and forgive me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Flower Power

I figured I'd throw in one more picture of flowers here. The rest of our sunflowers have bloomed now, so here's a picture of the whole sunflower patch. It's not as good of a picture as the others, but oh well. It's what I've got.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cat Tails 2

So, this weekend, a friend of my wife asked us to watch her dog for her while she spent the evening out of town. We thought that, since we are considering getting our own dog, that it would be a good dry run kind of thing. We could see how well the kids would do with a dog and all that.

Well, the kids did great. The dog was a very well behaved and fun animal. The cat, however, did not like the idea at all.

At one point, after the cat had been hiding in the basement for most of the day, I took it outside to give it the chance to move around and not have to live in fear of that crazy canine. However, it didn't seem to want to be outside. It just sat at the door and stared longingly in. So, a few minutes later, when we brought the dog out to pee, I thought I'd take the chance to get the cat safely back inside.

The cat was beside itself with worry, however, with that dog being nearby. So, when I picked the cat up and tried to take it in, the wretched beast turned on me, and savaged my hand brutally.

Believe me, that picture doesn't do the deed justice. That'll teach me to try to ever show care for that @$%#ing cat.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cat Tails

My wife and kids have become enamored with the idea of getting a dog. I think it's mostly because the pet that we have, a cat, gives us no love whatsoever. Take a look at this picture for example:

Is it just me, or does that cat look disgusted with the necessity of having a human being come that close to her?

Anyway, my wife has researched which kind of dog would be the best for us, and has really been focused on it a great deal recently. So it made me laugh a lot the other night, when she went in to our room, and found the cat on the foot of the bed. I was in the other room, so I only heard what was going on, but it was enough. I heard the cat's collar jingle a little, as my wife tried to pet it. Then, I heard the cat leap from the bed and run from the room. Then came the best part, as my wife, sick and tired of the cold shoulder that our cat always gives everyone, shouted after it, "Fine, I don't care, but I'm getting a dog. So there!"

Looks like we may be hosting a dog at our house soon. We'll see what the disdainful cat makes of that.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Green Manta

In my continuing attempt to turn my blog into a nature blog, I bring you this:

Okay, I'm not really trying to turn this into a nature blog, but you have to admit that preying mantises are cool (ugh, mantis isn't one of those words that is pluralized in the Latin like Octopus and Octopi or something is it? I hope not, because that stuff is interminably ugly, and would make mantises less cool just for that).

When I saw this monstrous insect this morning, I immediately grabbed my camera and snapped about ten photos of it. Unfortunately, the thing was just too small, and my camera couldn't manage to focus on it correctly, so there's one picture.

But, right next to the big mantis was a smaller one, probably 1/4 the size of the big one. I took a picture of it, which is even worse for focus. Oh well, I'll include it all the same.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

This Year's Flowers

I'm not so much into flowers as I am into taking pictures of them. So here's my favorite pictures of the flowers my wife has grown in our yard this year.

First, there's the geranium from the side of the house (don't be fooled, I had no idea what any of these flowers were called. I had to quiz my wife on their names to be able to write this post).Then, there's this dahlia.This flower is from a trumpeter vine that's been growing in the backyard for years now.This one is sadly past its prime. The clematis flowered sometime around June 1st, and this is one of the last remaining blossoms. I still like it though, something about he jagged edges...This is a pink zinnia.A yellow zinnia.And and orange zinnia.And lastly come the sunflowers. Sunflowers are cool because they're so freakin' big. It's a little creepy and unnerving really. This one is the king flower. It's enormous, bigger than my head (and we all know I've got a big old, fat head). It's so big that it's stalk can't quite hold it up straight, but rather bows under the weight. Notice that the sun is shining through the petals in the picture, that's because I had to get down on my knees and shoot upward to snap the photo, the flower's so heavy it faces downward.

So there you go, the flowers of 2010. Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

One Last Bit Of Storm Fun

This is from the storm the other day.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Continuing Saga of the Deluge

I have heard a certain grumpy announcer-type guy refer to summer thunder storms as thunder bumpers. No idea where the bumper part comes from, but ever since Comic-Con ended, the Mighty Thor has been showing off. At least where I live he has. He must have followed Rish home.

I related with painstaking, long-winded detail the storm that hit my neighborhood on Saturday. Well, my wife was at work on Saturday, and she didn't get to experience it at all, being deep in the bowels of a concrete box seemingly miles in length and width. So, at five o'clock this morning, when the newest thunder bumper started up, she was keen to witness it. I, being a veteran of these crazy storms and being dead asleep, was not so keen.

The storm this morning was not so loud as Saturday's. It must not have been passing straight overhead like the one on Saturday did. So, the thunder was not too loud to sleep through. Also, this morning's storm never progressed past rain and on into hail. So the pounding on the walls was not too loud to sleep through.

The thing that was too loud to sleep through was my wife's constant exclamations as she looked out the window at the lighting on the horizon.

"Wow! I can't believe this! You should get up and come look at this! I can't believe you can sleep through this! It's amazing! Hey, there's somebody running out to their car! Oh, they left their windows open! Everybody is out on their porch watching! How can you stay in bed?"

By the time the storm passed us by, I was good and thoroughly awake. It took about an hour to get back to sleep. But that was okay, my body went ahead and made that hour up by sleeping in an hour later than usual and making me late to work.

There's already another thunder storm pounding us again this afternoon. Since there's been no real damage or danger to myself, I can't really complain (aside from the lack of sleep...oh, and the windows open in my car). Thunder bumpers are pretty dang cool.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I Thought I Saw Noah's Ark Go Floating By...

Yesterday, July 31st (I think that can safely be called the height of summer), the biggest storm I've seen around here in a while, perhaps ever, rolled into town. It started with a few sprinkles, then the lightning started flashing and the thunder started booming. Before I knew it, the thunder didn't sound away off, but more like it was right overhead. Just in case, I turned off my computer, and unplugged it from the wall (power surges can fry it, I've heard). Then the really heavy raindrops started pounding on the roof and walls. I got up to look outside, and right about then, the rain turned to hail. I thought the big raindrops were noisy on the house, but the hail turned it up to rock concert levels of loud. I took a few pictures after the storm passed. Here's a shot of the pile of hail in the backyard. I felt like I might be able to make a snowman out of it.I decided to grab the video camera. I started filming out the back door, my daughter and her friend at my side screaming about the crazy weather. I turned the camera to get their impression of the storm, and they screamed and ran away. When I turned back, I saw why. The wind had shifted, and the hail, rain, and wind were blowing right in the open door. I quickly pushed it shut.

"Let's go look out the front door then," I said.

Opening the front door, we were again amazed by the ferocity of the storm. There was a river flowing through the gutter, threatening to overtake the street altogether. More pictures from afterwards, the river was still flowing down the street for several more minutes. Many of my neighbors had water flood into their basements.
As I stood their filming out the front door with my camera, remarking on the size of the gutter river and so forth, my daughter said, "Daddy, your windows are open!"

I looked at my car, and she was right. I had taken a quick trip down the street in my car that morning, and rolled the windows down, since the air conditioning wouldn't have enough time to cool the car off. When I'd gotten home, I'd neglected to roll the windows back up. It's the middle of the summer after all, I wasn't expecting the storm of the century.

"Crap," I shouted. I set the camera down, and dashed out into the fury to get the windows closed. My head was painfully pelted with hail as I dashed, and the short period I spent in the storm completely drenched my clothes though, but I managed to get the windows up. It was way too late, however. Both front windows had been open, and due to the fury of the storm, there was hail and puddles of water all over the back seat of the car. If I could have wrung out the car like a dishrag, I'm certain it would have made it's own river to flow through the street. Here's a picture of the pile of hail in my driver seat.The entire dashboard was completely soaked. I think everything still works, but don't be surprised if I have to take out one of those salvage titles on my car like you see on cars that have been submerged in flood water.

We went out to pizza later on, and even though I put a towel over my seat, the water still soaked all the way through and moistened the seat of my pants. Hopefully we'll get a bit of hot weather for the next few days, and I can leave my windows open to dry it out.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Cool Picture For You

On our way back from our family reunion, we drove many many miles down Interstate 80. At one of the rest stops we found this:That's a bird's nest that was built right above the door to the women's restroom.

Cool how nature sometimes does that, intrudes on our civilization and stuff. Once, our porch light at my house was broken. The cover was hanging from the ceiling by only one screw, the other one had come loose, fallen out, and gotten lost. Being ultimately lazy, I left it that way for a while. Then one day, I walked out my front door, and a bird buzzed my head as it flew away. I looked up, and saw that it had gathered a load of twigs and twine and so forth, and put it in the dangling light cover on my porch. The perfect place for a nest! I quickly grabbed a chair and unscrewed the other screw that was holding the cover on. The last thing I needed was to be attacked by birds every time I came out my front door because I'd come too close to their nest. The bird came back a few moments later, and cruised around, confused. Where had that whole nest it'd been building gone? Then it moved along, and found itself a nest somewhere else.

Anyway...carry on.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's Waaay Back!

My father-in-law is in town visiting this week. He's been a teacher in Alberta, Canada for a very long time, and is just one year short of retiring. He's seen a lot of changes in his time. If you're curious as to just how many changes, let me show you an example. He used one of his old school boxes to pack a few things down to us in. Here it is:Yes, folks, that's an Apple II computer box. I looked up the particular model Apple II UniDisk, and it came out in 1985. He's been using that box for Social Studies ever since.

Fun stuff can be pulled out of people's garages and attics sometimes. I think I've got my iMac box down in the basement somewhere still...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Crash and Flash

Last week, while we were camping in California, I was playing the good dad and taking lots of pictures of my kids. At one point, we were down by the rocky bed of a creek. I snapped a picture, and moved to get a different angle, and my foot caught on a rock. I stumbled to keep my balance, but couldn't, and down I crashed. I banged my forearm pretty hard on a large rock, but, luckily, not hard enough to break anything.

My wife ran over, and helped me back to my feet. Once I was back in sorts, she told me that when I had fallen, I'd taken a picture. She'd seen the flash pop as I hit the ground. We checked the camera, and sure enough, there it was. I think it pretty well encapsulates the ignominy of my tumble. For your viewing pleasure:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ben Folds

I've whined on here already in a previous post about my inability to see Sting play his concert with the Orchestra due to the fact that his tour stop in my city was cancelled for unknown reasons (well, unkown to me). Rish, of course, took a trip out to Las Vegas to see the show...but with his other, much better friend. So I was just plain high and dry. But I was okay with that, because it's a position I've been in a lot of times in my life.

Then, out of the blue, Rish sends me a link. He says, "Is this something you'd like to go see?" It's a webpage advertising a Ben Folds concert where he's playing arrangements of his songs with an orchestra. And the show was only a week away.

Yeah, I wanted to see it. So, we got ourselves some tickets.

The show was happening at an amphitheater on the premises of a ski resort. Apparently the orchestra plays a number of shows there every summer. Ben Folds is just one of many shows they'll be playing this summer. Next week will be a selection of Disney soundtracks, later in the summer the orchestra will be playing with special guest Randy Travis. (Which doesn't sound like it would work out well, I mean it's called the Grand Old Opry, not Opera, but what do I know about country?)The place was beautiful, as Ski Resorts are wont to be. It was a wonderful place to see a concert, nestled in the mountains, as the sun sets in the west.Everybody brought out blankets and sat right down on the hill to enjoy the show. I think the place usually sees a much smaller crowd at these concerts, after all it's a symphony orchestra's summmer program. They don't see the likes of Ben Folds every week. So the crowd was much larger than normal. Rish and I were a slightly late, walking into the show are Mr. Folds started playing the first song, so we wound up sitting way the hell in the back. At one of the orchestra's usual concerts, I bet there wouldn't have been anyone sitting within a hundred yards of where we had to be. So our view of the show wasn't great.

Up where we were, there was precious little grass on the ground. The place was as stony as my douchebag heart. After several hours of sitting on this harsh, inhospitable terrain, my arse is completely, and permanently misshapen. Exhibit A, is the picture below.Aside from the terrain, however, the concert was very cool. It wasn't one of those shows where they search your bag at the door, and make you leave anything and everything in your car. You could bring in a cooler if you wanted to. If you look in the background of this next picture, you can see the people sitting next to us. Spread out on their blanket was a full on picnic lunch, including gourmet sandwiches, some sort of vinagrette thing (I could definitely smell something along those lines--maybe pasta salad, I don't know), and they even had a bottle of wine as well. And they weren't the only ones. I saw several people wandering about with wine glasses in their hands. If I'd known that we were going to this sort of an event, Rish and I would probably not have stopped in at Wendy's to cram our faces with cheap burgers on the way to the show. (We'd have probably gotten those cheap burgers to go, and eaten them on the, rocks).The show itself was really good. On the way out, I had expressed concerns to Rish that we would just get a rehash of the Ben Folds WASO concert album. It's not like a lot of rock and roll artists have had any of their songs arranged for orchestral accompaniment. Ben Folds had a whole set of them orchestrated once, but how likely is it that other newer songs would have been arranged for orchestra? But I really wanted to hear some of the songs he'd written post WASO concert.

"I hope he plays something like Effington," I said to Rish while we were in the car driving out.

It turned out that I had some sort of prophetic power this evening, because the show's third song turned out to be Effington.

When Rish saw my prophetic powers, he asked me to predict that some of the women in the audience would remove their tops as well (you may see that at a Motley Crue concert a lot, but Ben Folds is generally a different kind of crowd, so it would take some kind of magic to make it happen). I obliged Rish, and made the prediction. There were a lot of honeys at the show, so it would have been worthwhile if it came true. And wouldn't you know it, not five minutes later, while I'm conversing with Rish, I see his eyes bug out. He tells me that a girl sitting directly behind me who was wearing a strapless dress, had just fallen out of her top. She was rather embarrassed, and spent the rest of the night continuously pulling up her bodice, but my prediction had come true again. I should have predicted a windfall of money. I just wasn't thinking.Some of the songs sounded absolutely beautiful with the orchestra playing along. I particularly appreciated "Gracie," and "Fred Jones Part 2," but those were already favorites of mine. He also played a couple of songs from his upcoming album as well. If I hadn't been sleeping on the job, I'd have switched my camera over to video mode and recorded the tunes and posted them on YouTube already. I'm just too old I guess. My mind doesn't go to that immediately like it does for the younger generation.

When the show came to an end, Rish and I sat on the hill for an extra twenty minutes while we let the crowd clear out. To amuse ourselves we took a bunch of self-portrait photos.
Then someone took pity on us, and offered to take a picture for us.