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 idea...er...I 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.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

One Last Bit Of Storm Fun

This is from the storm the other day.

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.