With all the negative press and outright bigortry leveled against the Boy Scouts these days, it's great to see CNN picking up stories like this, to remind people that Scouts do positive things.
Thursday, April 29, 2004
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
The Illusion of Trying
The DVD and home theater communities are abuzz with the recent announcement by Miramax COO Rick Sands that Kill Bill will have no less than six DVD releases: Volume 1, Volume 2, Special Editions of each, a combined box set, and the Tarantino box set. When Sands gleefully announced this last Tuesday, the DVD community was irked - why can't they just give us one version, the best version, the first time?
The truth is, studios have been doing this since before DVD - heck, since before Laserdisc. Army of Darkness has had no less than eight releases in the US alone; many other films, like Men in Black, have three or four. Studios are re-releasing films that came out on DVD in the format's infancy, like The Fugitive, and spending time to restore the transfer so it looks better on a home theater system. In truth, I own two different versions of some movies that I really enjoy, like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. If a re-release has a cleaner transfer of the film, one that will look better on my TV, I'll get it. In fact, I planned ahead for that.
I've refused to buy into the eight versions of Army of Darkness, but I believe that I am the exception to the rule. The reason Sands had the balls to make that announcement is that he knows people will still buy it anyway, because they've been buying it anyway up until this point. If it wasn't profitable to have eight versions of AoD and four of MiB, the studios wouldn't have made them. And we're not talking about a remaster, we're talking about out-and-out greed. So why can Sands be so nonchalant about it? Because he can. Because people will still shell out for it - after all, they've been doing it for years.
Not to get too ranty about this, but I honestly think this is a major problem with American society. We see things we don't like, but we don't often say or do anything about it, so long as no one's calling attention to it. If there's a guy shouting on the subway, we look the other way. If a politician is obviously being corrupt, unless there's some kind of specific probe into it or a news story covering it, we look the other way. And now, the politicians and the studios and whoever else is out there have figured out that they can get away with just about anything. Hell, they can be obvious about it, because they know, historically, that people are still going to buy - or at least look the other way.
So, go take your soma, because everything is OK. Really. They've been doing this for years, nothing to worry about.
Two Cool Links
OK, first thing's first: you may have gotten an email about this already, but some guy decided to auction his ex-wife's wedding dress on eBay. It's become some kind of strange, pop-culture phenomenon, the kind that pretentious scholars would refer to as an "artifact" or even an "artefact" before making a reference to Derrida. Personally, I think the description of the dress is friggin' hilarious, and you'll note that the auction has received more than a million hits in less than five days.
And, I found a screensaver that simulates the view from an airplane window. Useless, but fun.
Tonight's Skull & Bones game was one of the best yet. I started the party on a new adventure that involves one of the characters being thrown in jail, accused of killing her own father and piracy. She's innocent of at least of the charges. But the party only has three days to try to build a case to prove her innocence, and her cellmate, also accused of piracy, is looking for an easy way to escape the gallows.
Normally I don't brag about my own work, but I think this may be the best "adventure" I've written yet, although it's so much easier to write a good adventure when you're tailor-making it for a party.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Big DVD day today! Lots of classics coming out. Just in time for Van Helsing, Universal is releasing the Monster Legacy box set, which contains five classic Dracula films, five classic Frankenstien films, and five classic Wolfman films. And, it has busts by Sideshow (of Lord of the Rings fame) for the hardcore collectors. The box set is the way to go, since you get the busts, one extra movie, and you save money - it's cheaper than buying them all individually. To accompany it, there's this release of Hammer films in one box set, including the three great Dracula ones with Christopher Lee.
New films being released today include Big Fish, Tim Burton's latest. I'm gonna get this one blind, becuase it comes so highly recommended. Also coming out today is an indie film I missed in the theater, Osama, the first movie made in Afghanistan after the Americans kicked the Taliban around a little, about a girl who is forced to dress up like a boy to live. Finally there's Ghosts of the Abyss, a Titanic documentary shot by James Cameron. It was originally made for IMAX, so I expect it to be a little hammy (and that's exactly what reviews say it is), but being a Titanic buff, I couldn't pass it up. Besides, it will give me something to do in my downtime this weekend.
Blog of Note
This little work project is getting better. Today, I got my first email from Antarctica, from a guy down at the South Pole station for the winter. I hope I can keep in contact with him, I'd love to have a pen pal that far away. He's got a blog, although he hasn't updated it in a while. I put it on the right navbar too.
Not a whole lot to say at the moment - the relaxation of the weekend has pretty much worn off, but I am enjoying a fine Monday evening. I watched this week's Deadwood, a show I like more and more with each episode. Depending on how this season turns out, it could be one of the best things on TV at the moment.
I'm talking with Jon, and I just told him that I should be writing, but I have to drag the muse out and beat her sometimes. Unfortunately, that's true, I haven't been on very good terms with her these days. I kind of think she's been musing around on me, but I can't confont her yet.
Hopefully I can trap her long enough to finish Crocodile Man, because Lord knows there's plenty of other stuff I'd like to start working on that I'm not letting myself get into yet.
Monday, April 26, 2004
Now With Pictures!
As an experiment, my first in-blog pictures should appear below. Enjoy!
So early yesterday morning, Liz and I drove over to Brook and Wendi's for a weekend of relaxing fun on Whidbey Island. We took the long way round, up through Skagit Valley and their Tulip Festival, which apparently happens all through the month of April. We missed the best times to go, but we still saw fields full of them. Even I had to admit it was pretty cool to see so many in one place, and in so many different colors and varieties.
Then we hit the town of LaConnor, which seemed like every other Northwest tourist trap (espresso at every store, the same Indian knick-knacks, the requisite kite shop, and so forth), before driving over Deception Pass to Whidbey. Deception Pass, according to our guides, was unnaturally calm, but even so you could see the currents forming little whirlpools. Not a place I'd practice kayaking. We tootled around the northern part of the island for a while, stopped in Coupeville to see both streets (lined with antique stores, and a pretty nifty bookstore, the kind you find in small tourist towns run by retired people who love books). After walking a bit, we pointed the car south and stopped at Fort Casey, an old Army / Navy fort from the turn of the 20th Century. During World War I, an attack on Seattle was not out of the question, so three forts on Whidbey and two other islands formed a "triangle" with 12-inch guns and 16-inch mortars that would tear any would-be attackers to shreds (in theory, at least, because they were never tested in a real battle). While we were there, we saw a Trident-class nuclear submarine cruising through the harbor (it's in the middle of the picture, low in the water). One of those subs carry enough nukes to kill a billion people. Cool, huh?
That night, we went to Brook's parents' house, which his dad built himself. It reminded me a lot of the cabins we used to go to back in Arkansas, except classier, and in a northwestern forest. The four of us played cards into the night; we gave Steve Jackson's new game Spooks a whirl, and all agreed it was fun. Easy to learn and not terribly complex, but the art is really cool.
The next morning, we slept in late, got started at our own pace (it involved a lot of reading and puttering around), and finally headed out to Useless Bay around 2:00. Useless Bay is useless as a harbor, since it's so shallow and the tides so extreme, but it makes for good tide pools and oyster beds. We saw many varieties of marine life, including starfish, hermit crabs, and some kind of tiny (less than half an inch long) fish. We made it home in time for The Simpsons tonight. That show disappoints me lately; the jokes are less subtle, and they seem awfully fixated on sex. Maybe it's because I'm such a square.
Saturday, April 24, 2004
Friday, April 23, 2004
Treasury Department Revisited
My political notes seem to be drawing more comments than anything else, which is good because it means people are actually reading this page, but it's strange because I get accused of having "ideological blinders" by someone I've never met, I don't know, and who judged me based on one post to a stupid blog.
But anyhoo, another reader pointed me towards his site, which gives even greater detail about the lengths the Treasury Department seems to be taking to re-elect Bush. In fact, it's kind of scary.
Are you one of the foolish mortals that thinks superheroes aren't real? Meet Terrifica, a costumed hero in New York City that saves women from being taken advantage of.
Not only that, but Batman and Robin are real, too - only they seem to operate in a small British town. Who'da thunk it?
Thursday, April 22, 2004
The Stanley Saga: Second to Last Chapter
Last night, about an hour before I left work, I got a phone call that Stanley caught an upper-respiratory infection and would be put to sleep if I didn't come and claim him. So I convinced Brook and Wendi to drive me over to Animal Control and sprung him from death row. He spent the night in our front bathroom last night, with nary a complaint. He seemed very happy to see some people. Today, I called our vet and asked about getting him some medical attention. It turns out that the vet will not only treat him, but will board him and try to find an owner for him - all free of charge, and without the threat of euthanasia.
They will let us know when he gets adopted. I'm glad this has finally turned out for the best.
Compare and Contrast: Your Taxpayer Dollars vs. Partisan Politics
Here's a fun exercise: go to this site, part of the US Treasury department, and scroll to the bottom of the page. Pay special attention to this quote:
"America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the President's policies are doing; or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation."
Now go to this site, part of the Republican party's website, and scroll to the bottom of the page. Pay special attention to this quote in the second-to-last paragraph:
"America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the President's polices are doing; or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation."
Now, compare and contrast! The difference: the first quote was paid for with your taxpayer dollars! That's right, my friends, all that money that you sent the government this month, now you know where it went - to pay for that website.
I now return you to your regularly-scheduled program.
Brave New World Evidence: Gee-Male
Tonight's evidence that we're already living in Brave New World: my host site made me an offer I couldn't refuse: try out Google's new Gmail. Glorified email that reads your messages and advertises to you based on the contents.
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Today will be a big day for Stanley. We took him home last night, because he caught some kind of respiratory disease from the shelter, and any diseased cats are put to sleep. So we've got to try to get him to a vet and find him a home, and keep him from infecting our cats. We've got them in the back bedroom while he's up in the front bathroom, and none of them seem too happy about these arrangements. I located a no-kill shelter up in Kirkland who might be able to help, but I doubt they will take a sick kitty. We don't have the time to acclimatize him to our house, since we're going to be gone all weekend and at work the rest of the week. So this will be an interesting day.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
The Obligatory Political Post
I've been intentionally avoiding politics - or at least discussing politics here. There seemed to be a manner of shitstorm brewing in the other Washington, which has since been downgraded to a political wet fart - Condi Rice appeared before the 9-11 commission, was asked a few easy questions, and basically got off scott-free. Unlike the Whitewater investigation, which eventually asked Clinton about Monica shining his knob, the 9-11 commission still seems like it's focusing on 9-11 rather than the false pretenses for the current waste of life in Iraq. If they had been serious about that, perhaps they might have asked the oil tanker Condolezza Rice to testify as to how the Bush administration's ties to oil had nothing to do with invading the second-most oil-rich nation on earth.
And, as the election campaign heats up, people across the world are holding bake sales to raise funds to remove Bush from office, and the White House can't figure out what the hell is going on with allegations that the Saudis want to influence the election with oil (there's that oil word again), somehow Bush is ahead in the polls despite the fact that the majority of Americans don't seem to be judging him based on Iraq.
I haven't posted about this because there's really nothing to say. Bush lies. Kerry's a stiff. This is the most obviously corrupt administration since Ulysses S. Grant, and no one seems to give a shit.
Weekly DVD Roundup
I just thought I'd go over this week's DVD releases. In case you're wondering, you can click on any title and go to Amazon.com, and should you decide to purchase said DVD, I receive a portion of what you spend from the nice folks at Amazon.
Right then. First, there's Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, that fine movie starring Russell Crowe that I yacked about a few months ago. Great nautical fun, and I can't wait to see it on the big TV and hear it on the stereo. At the risk of sterotyping myself, Reefer Madness comes out tomorrow too. An obscure propaganda film before folks in the early 70s rediscovered it and turned it into a sort of poster child for the marijuana movement, the DVD presents the film in a newly-restored, colorized version, and the old black-and-white for the purists. It's also got a ton of extras.
Moving right along to Step Into Liquid, a surfer movie by the son of the guy who made the classic surfer documentary Endless Summer. Liquid tours the world from Vietnam to Sheboygan to the Gulf of Mexico to Ireland and examines surfing everywhere, including some unbelievable water and wave footage. I haven't actually seen this movie, so it's going to be a blind buy, but the trailer looks great and it's gotten some really good reviews. Plus, they use one of my favorite Butthole Surfers songs, so it can't be all bad. Lastly, Robert Altman's classic 3 Women gets the Criterion treatment. The Criterion Collection is a library of noteworthy international cinema, from big flicks like Armageddon to new stuff like Chasing Amy to classics like Seven Samurai and Monty Python's Life of Brian. Here's a list of what they've put on DVD so far.
You will note the return of the title picture. That's because my buddy Bob has graciously allowed me the use of some of his hard drive space to display graphics again! So now, I can finally take a picture of the Willard's van and show everyone.
Bob linked to a cartoon from his blog called "Questionable Content." I link to it now because the girl character looks startlingly like my wife. Not the goth, but the other one. She had that exact haircut in college, too. Strange.
My home email isn't working, so the funny links I sent from work will have to wait until tomorrow.
Otherwise, not much else is going on.
Well, one little thing.
I bought a scale today. I am fundamentally opposed to scales, but I figured that I needed some affirmation that my diet / lifestyle change has been working.
I have been on the diet for three weeks.
And I have lost fifteen pounds.
I can't stop smiling.
Sunday, April 18, 2004
Absence Make the Blog Grow Longer
It's been a few days. My host apparently had some problems, and if you're looking at this, you've figured out that you now get to my blog by removing the "www" from your link. From now on, get here by using: http://piratelog.blogspot.com.
Friday was a typical day at work. A few fires, some nonsense, and all the regular crap. Friday night, Liz went down to Tacoma for the night (her huge events are this weekend), so I went out with Kytte, Matt, and Deme to see Kill Bill Vol. 2. It certainly wasn't what I was expecting; far less action than the first one, and a hell of a lot of character development. Still some great nods to martial arts flicks, and there was one incredibly disturbing scene of someone getting buried alive. I have a feeling that the two movies, cut and viewed together, will be amazing, and Quentin has already alluded to the fact that he intends to do this in the future. I suspect it may happen on DVD right around the same time that the extended Return of the King comes out. You heard it here first, folks.
Yesterday Brook and Wendi picked me up for some estate/garage sale-ing, a good way to spend a Saturday morning. We found a sandbox for James' little girl, a couple books, but not much else. Before we went to pick Liz up, we stopped by Scarecrow Video, and I think I've found a new altar at which to pray.
First of all, they had a couple of old horror flicks Jimmy recommended that I haven't been able to find anywhere else: Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (just finished watching it, great z-grade fun) and Let's Scare Jessica to Death (this afternoon's fare). Plus, they had the director's cut of Battle Royale for sale, so I didn't have to import it from eBay. Their video selection is the best I've ever seen, period. When I interned for United Broadcasting, there was a video store down in the Village that we rented from constantly. They had a great selection, some really hard-to-find, obscure shit. They are nothing compared to Scarecrow. Little insects on the wall, nothing more. Scarecrow is the holiest of holies for the movie lover, and I feel a conversion coming on!
OK, seriously, it's great.
Now to run the vacuum and watch some horror.
Thursday, April 15, 2004
A Kind-Of Real Update
I haven't done a real update in a while, mostly because I've either been too tired or too distracted. My life hasn't been terribly exciting, though; nothing major going on. Liz's office has their largest fundraising event this weekend, so she's pretty much out of commission from Friday night until Sunday afternoon. I'm going to hang out with Brook and Wendi on Saturday, and the promise is to go estate sale-ing. I doubt I'll buy anything, since I've spent the last two weekends trying to un-junk my life, unless I can find some extremely good deals on old video games or video game systems.
I wrote 2000ish words on the old book last night, but that was tempered by deleting about a thousand words from what I'd written before (I wrote a scene towards the end of the chapter first, and then, once I got there, the scene didn't work, so I erased it and started over). My goal is to finish this chapter either tonight or tomorrow.
There hasn't been much action on the Stanley front, either. A guy from my office went to look at him on Tuesday night, and really liked him and agreed to take him if it came to a last resort adoption, but didn't want him right off. The guy may be moving in the near-future into a house with two other cats, so he's unsure how Stanley would react and if that would be fair to him; that's actually a very responsible move on the guy's part, so I ended up happy, even though my four-legged friend hasn't found a home yet. I know that Angela is both a sucker and a cat lover, and she is currently feline-less, so I may call her today and try to goad her into taking Stanley.
I've got two weeks worth of comics waiting at the store. My walk has been going OK, except for teenagers chucking a pencil out their car window at me on Monday and the goose along my route turning into a psycho. I had to walk in the street to avoid it last time, and it was hissing and nipping at me the whole way. I have half a mind to report it to animal control myself.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
I've updated the "Upcoming DVDs" on the right navbar to include some newly-announced discs. Remember, if you purchase one by clicking on a link here, that brings me closer to getting a real website where I can provide picture content and all other manner of wacky stuff!
Chicken Poop for the Soul
Fair warning: I'm in a pissy mood, and anyone who reads this should be too.
Last night, after playing the DnD game, I finished Cryptonomicon (a fantastic book with a great ending; Stephenson's writing style is enviably good) and then tried to go to sleep. So I tossed. And turned. And tossed. I was too hot, so I turned on the fan. I was too cold, so I slid under a blanket. I was too hot, so I shed a blanket. Then my legs started getting spazzy. This was about 1 AM. Then, the cats started running around. At this point, I was so frustrated I managed to capture one and woke Liz up at the same time. It still took me another hour to get to sleep once the cat was in custody.
This morning, at first light (or somewhere around six), I woke to the sound of more thundering cats. I'm not sure how an animal that weighs ten pounds can make so much fucking noise as it runs around; my working theory is that they can increase their mass on demand, violating several laws of physics in the process. Ten minutes later, as I was falling back to sleep, they resumed their chase until one of them made the mistake of landing on me. So a six fifteen, about four hours after finally getting to sleep, I was wide awake.
The pain in my lower back is worse. I've been doing some stretches I learned in yoga to try to lubricate the joints in that area, and they result in my spine cracking like a guy walking on a bed of cockroaches. And, this morning, my entire hip joint popped. I've never had that happen before, but it was not a pleasant experience.
I've got a dentist's appointment today, which is gonna eat up my lunch hour.
I ran a great Skull & Bones game tonight. I decided that I wasn't paying enough attention to the "horror" aspect of the "swashbuckling horror" of the game. So tonight, we began a different kind of adventure. I'd like to think it was my most successful, which gives me hope that I might be able to run a decent Ravenloft campaign, if I ever get the chance.
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Bake Back the White House!
MoveOn.org is sponsoring an event this coming weekend called "Bake Back the White House," where members all over the world will participate in the world's largest bake sale to help raise funds to defeat Bush. To find a bake sale near you, click here.
Monday, April 12, 2004
Over the last week, I've developed an acute, constant pain in my lower back. It's on the right side, right above where my ass meets my back proper, maybe an inch to the right of my spine. And it shifts from mildly uncomfortable to cripplingly painful. When I do things with my right leg, such as attempt to stand after sitting on the ground, or adjust my position on the couch, it feels like someone has taken a sledgehammer and done some impromptu demolition work on my nerves in that area. Working theories:
1: Our couch sucks, and I spend a good deal of time on it, either eating a meal or watching movies. This may be solved by moving meals to the table and getting a new couch (expensive).
2: The chair in front of my computer sucks. It's an old kitchen chair that barely holds together. It's very hard and offers zero in the way of back support.
3: The chair in my office, until a week ago, also sucked. I swapped it out for a chair that actually offers back support, so now I have to teach myself not to slouch at work.
4: Our mattress is only about three years old, but it's possible that we've somehow screwed it up and every time I sleep on it, it complicates things.
So no reason to post this, other than to complain.
A Cleaner House
We did a great brunch with Brook and Wendi at a place called Ray's down on the Sound, and then went back to their place for some Clue and a nice walk around Carcreek Park. It seemed like a shame to waste such a killer day, so we got the requisite sunburns (Liz much more than me) and exhausted ourselves crawling over sand.
We got back and started working on the last leg of cleaning. Believe it or not, the last stuff we have to do is the leftovers from the move, a bunch of stuff we've never dealt with. We've got another carload of things to take to Goodwill, and I've got a box of goodies to bring to the office to see if anyone wants them. A few shelves made our outdoor storage space into a very useful area, and we put a hell of a dent in the closet full of crap in the computer room. In the near future, we may very well have a clean floor all over the house - not one covered with boxes full of crap everywhere.
Sunday, April 11, 2004
As Promised: Real Update
As nothing is ever simple in my life, my one errand yesterday turned into a day's worth of activities.
The house wasn't clean until 2:00. But, we did a very thorough cleaning. I spend about an hour on the electronics and DVDs each time I clean now; hopefully, this will prevent the higher-end stuff from meeting the same fate as the other stuff I've killed over the years. Then, we piled in the car and hit the:
Bank to deposit checks. Already closed. UPS store to mail packages. Post office to get extra stamps. Goodwill to drop some stuff off. This is how we unclutter. Animal control to check on Stanley. More on this in a minute. Old Navy to replace a pair of my jeans that I ripped at work. Don't ask. Game Stop to trade in some games and DVDs I didn't want. Ended up with Voodoo Vince. QFC for food. A salon that didn't have any room for walk-ins, despite the huge "walk-ins welcome" sign. Home again. And, we were going to get together with Jon, but we've lost his phone number and he didn't respond to IMs. If you're reading this, sorry!
And the Stanley update:
When we got home yesterday, there was a poster hanging on the billboard asking if we'd seen Stanley. So I spent most of Friday night second-guessing my decision; I mean, after all, Stanley was someone's pet and it's obvious the person at least noticed he was missing. Yesterday, I went down to the office to borrow a two-wheeled dolly so I could move an enormous glass tabletop into the car, and I spoke to the manager about it. She said the person looking for Stanley came in "late on Friday" and claimed she'd gone to "all the shelters" to look for him, and that she wanted Stanley back because "her son missed him." So deconstructing this, I learned that she really didn't begin doing the appropriate things to find her pet until a week after he didn't come home (again, she's not even supposed to put him out of the apartment!), she lied about the shelters because if she went to animal control he's the first cat you see when you walk in, and she didn't miss him, her son did. Plus, I remember from working at DHS what "my kids are 'x'" means, whether it's "my son misses him" or "my kids are so hungry!" It means you've got an ulterior motive, and you're using your children (or chitlins) as a means to an end. Needless to say, this erased my doubts.
We visited him yesterday at the shelter, and he seems to be doing OK, but he's bored out of his mind. We took him to a private room for a few minutes, played with him, and pet him. He's certainly the kind of cat who will just hop up in your lap and start flopping around, looking for someone to love him. They also said there's been no activity with him (since he just kind of sits in his cage), but he's in no danger of being euthanized yet. There's a guy from work who's very interested in him, and he's going down on Tuesday to see if Stanley is a good match. I really hope it works out, because it would be a great home for Stanley.
Saturday, April 10, 2004
I haven't done a "real" update for a couple of days, mostly because there isn't a hell of a lot going on right now that's worth updating about. We had a couple of new developments in the Stanley saga yesterday, but I'm going to visit him at animal control today, so I won't write about it until I'm done there. Otherwise, yesterday was a quiet Friday, pretty laid-back at work (all things considered) and I went to bed early. Today, my main goals are to get some packages mailed and visit Stanley. And goof off. I think I can handle that. Oh yeah, and clean the house again.
I found an excellent site offering an extensive line of Asian DVDs for import, including the best version (Thai, it appears) of Kill Bill Vol. 1: DVD From Asia. They also had Battle Royale, but it was a cut-down version, so I'll wait until the complete one becomes available again.
Friday, April 09, 2004
Tell me if this isn't fucked up: I spend a good couple hours trying to get to sleep last night, which finally happens around 1 AM. This morning, at 6:30, my body says: hey hey hey, time to get up! so when I try to go back to sleep, I can't. I'm going to be exhausted today.
Yesterday, I put out some feelers about obtaining the last four cards I need for my complete set of INWO: Assassins. Today, many came back with some promising-to-good leads. You'd think it would be easier to find four stupid cards from a game hardly anyone plays, but it's a lot harder than it seems. Especially when one of those cards was a promotional card that only ran in Pyramid Magazine back when it was still a print mag and had a circulation of, say, 2000 people.
We visited Stanley at the Animal Control shelter today. He looked healthy, but bored. Tomorrow is the day his "wait time" is up; so far, his owners haven't come to claim him. I suspect that he probably won't be adopted either, so we've begun to explore other options. Keeping him is going to have to be a last resort. I plan to ask around at work tomorrow; a couple people expressed interest a few of days ago when I mentioned him, so I think it might be do-able, and that way I know he's going to have a good home. If not, we'll give him one here, and our family will grow.
Condi: A Conservative's View
I haven't really mentioned anything about the political bruhaha going on in front of the 9-11 panel at the moment, because I think that it's probably a good idea to wait until everything is over to form any opinions about it. I've been reading other people's opinions on it, but keeping an open mind myself.
One I found very interesting, though, is this article by Howard Fineman, a conservative MSNBC columnist / commentator. Unlike the neo-cons, he's not towing the party line here, and offers a unique (and, I suspect, truthful) assessment of Condi's testimony.
Thursday, April 08, 2004
More On Writing
My friend Terry from my Tulsa writer's group sent me a great story he's trying to clean up for a contest. It's always inspiring to read other people's stories as they are "in progress," because it gives me a good glimpse into other people's writing processes, and it's kind of like a support network for people who are all on the same path to trying to get their work published, or at least in a few contests. Like when I see Terry trying to clean up his story, I take out one of mine and tinker on it a bit for submission to a new literary magazine, and when I'll tell him that, it'll inspire him to submit, and so on. I miss that kind of interaction for a writer's group; I tried to start one at the office, but circumstances intervened and nothing ever became of it. There are people at work with the makings of great writers, they just need a little shove in the right direction.
An unusual opportunity arose at work today, one that may allow me to stretch my fiction wings a bit. I just finished the first draft of a writing exercise, and it looks pretty tight. I love the challenge of telling a coherent story in less than four hundred words.
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
I haven't written about my Skull & Bones campaign for a while, but I thought I'd do so tonight. It's still going strong, and the party just wrapped up another adventure, securing a Letter of Marque and capturing a notorious pirate who'd been attacking the ships of their beloved King. I'm really digging the campaign, and we're getting to a point where the characters are developing quirks and interactions of their own. I've decided I really don't like being the GM, though; it's not that I'm bad at it, but I'd rather not spend the time it takes to prepare, and I think I have more fun playing.
Yesterday, Stanley was transferred from the King County Humane Society to KC Animal Control. Stanley will be held until Friday to see if someone claims him; Liz and I will go in before that time to fill out what's called a "last resort adoption form." That way, if Stanely can't be adopted out, we will take him and either find a home for him or keep him. I really hope that he finds a nice family, because I think he'd be great with kids.
It's strange - when you help to save a creature's life, that creature's life becomes your responsibility. I don't have an emotional attachment to Stanley per se (I haven't known him long enough for that), but I do want to make sure that he'll be OK.
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
I saw Hellboy as part of my job today (I know, I know, it's a rough life). I thought it was pretty good, but not nearly as good as Jon did. It did capture the spirit of the comic very well (Ron Perlman is Hellboy), but as a movie, it really fell apart in the third act. I'm not a huge fan of del Toro, the director; I thought Blade II had so many awful CGI effects in it, it seemed like he wasn't even trying. The CGI wasn't awful here, but it was certainly distracting in parts. Why, in the day and age of Gollum and Weta, can we not even get simple flame effects to look natural? Flame effects are built in to every 3D graphics card made, so it can't be that hard.
The effects didn't distract me that much. The ending, however, seemed very sudden. The movie built a very comfortable pace, heading towards an obvious climax, and then completely rushed the ending. Hellboy (the character) had to make a very important choice, and I feel like the potential conflict in the character was never explored, in much the same way that Peter Parker's choice was denied him in Spider-Man. It seems like he just kind of goes, oh yeah, OK, and then kills the bad guy in what amounts to one shot. And then kills the other bad guy in the same way. It felt very unsatisfying as a film; as a comic book adaptation, I thought it was supurb.
Two New Friends
The last couple of times I've walked to work, there have been a pair of geese waiting for me on the sidewalk near the swamp along my journey. This morning, they hissed at me more than usual. They are either going to end up as roadkill, or will be a nice, stable fixture of my walk. Either way, it's kind of cool, except for the sad fact that they shit everywhere.
Monday, April 05, 2004
Must Watch Movie
It has come to my attention that one of the greatest artistic achievements of the entire human race is now available for purchase on DVD. I speak, of course, of Soul Vengeance, quite possibly the high point of all culture in the last two hundred years.
Soul Vengeance masquarades as a low-budget blaxploitation film, but do not let these shoddy outer trappings fool you: this is as close to the "form" of film as could ever exist. From the trash-can-destruction scene, to the brilliant take on sexual relations where the main character strangles his adversary with a nine-foot-long voodoo-enhanced cock, Soul Vengeance is practically a muse unto itself, sublime in its simplistic brilliance.
1000 More Words
Just so I can say the weekend wasn't a total waste for me artistically, I managed to write almost a thousand more words on Crocodile Man. A fun fact about my book: there are no crocodiles in it. Just a guy with a wacky nickname.
Lazy Sunday (Aren't They All?)
Seems like I've got a lot of lazy Sundays. Things I accomplished today: I rewatched The Matrix Reloaded, in anticipation of Tuesday's release of The Matrix Revolutions on DVD, bringing the total times I've watched Reloaded to three. I like it more each time I see it, especially after watching Revolutions, because it's much easier to see what they were building to. And, I watched all nine shorts from The Animatrix, same reason as above. I napped to catch up with the whole Daylight Savings Time nonsense, and I went to the supermarket armed with a carb counter so I can get really serious about this whole weight loss thing.
By the way, that The Science of the X-Men book I picked up is fairly interesting, if a bit dry and not terribly coherent. It does offer some interesting speculation on the sources of power for some of the Merry Mutants, although the bit on Psionics (unfortunately the first chapter) runs the gamut from uninspired to downright lame. But, that's my thoughts on Psionics in general.
It's strange - from a gamer's perspective, there is probably more scientific basis for the existence of psionics than magic, but I'm more ready to accept the later in my fiction.
Sunday, April 04, 2004
Stanley is a cat that lived in our apartment complex. I say lived because, as of an hour ago, he no longer resides here. Stanley is a beautiful, long-haired, brown-and-gray cat with striking yellow eyes and a great personality. He often wanders around the apartment complex, even though we have a strict cats-inside-only complex. Because, people tear through the parking lot, there are coyotes around, and other mean critters (I saw a raccoon once the size of a golden retriever) - so it's not terribly safe for cats. And, Stanley used to come by and harass our cats - not that it really bothered us, unless he did it at night and ours went into a frenzy and woke us up.
We've kept an eye on Stanley periodically, because he seems very starved for attention. I almost met his owner once (which is how I know his name), but Liz exchanged words with her, and she seemed to care absolutely zero that her pet was outside, where it's dangerous, where he harassed other cats, and where he wasn't supposed to be by the lease agreement we all signed.
Today, while we were working outside, Stanley came by for a visit. His fur looked awful and matted, worse and usual, and he clearly had fleas. And, to make matters worse, I find out he is declawed and therefore shouldn't be wandering around outside at all. My thought process went something like this: I'd like to find Stanley a better home. It's not Stanley's fault that his owner is a fucking moron who doesn't give a shit about her pet. And, if she did give a shit, she wouldn't have blown Liz off and she wouldn't be letting a declawed cat outside, she would have gotten treatment for his fleas, and she would have taken the time to remove the dirt and filth from his coat. In fact, the above basically constitutes neglect. So, we convinced Stanley to go into one of our cat carriers, and we drove him down to the Humane Society. I felt bad about taking someone's pet in, but I thought I was really doing the right thing.
It turns out that the Humane Society doesn't take strays, only "surrendered" animals (where the owner says "I don't want to keep my cat any more.") So, Stanley is now going to be turned over to King County Animal Control. I like the sound of "animal control" a lot less than I like the sound of "humane society." And, Stanley will be evaluated to see if he's adoptable before they put him up for adoption. If he's not adoptable (I can't imagine that he isn't), he'll be put to sleep.
I think I made the wrong choice. I really want Stanley to have a better life, I really don't give a shit about the moron who supposedly cares for him, but even the risk of Stanley being put to sleep - I don't think it was worth it. The last thing I wanted was for Stanley to die, and now I discover that the Humane Society won't be the ones handling him - Animal Control will, and they do put cats to sleep. Yeah, I really think I fucked up. I'm going to call Animal Control on Monday and see what I can do. If for some reason they decide Stanley isn't adoptable, then he's coming home with us and we'll have three cats.
Long Time No Post
It's been a while since I've gone more than 24 hours without posting, at least when I wasn't out of town. Yesterday was hectic at work, and got more hectic towards the end of the day. It crescendoed in a last-minute meeting, which spawned a last-minute project, which spawned another last-minute project. We managed to duck out around 6:30, Jon joined Liz and I for dinner at a great little Tex-Mex place in Bellevue Square Mall. I downed three beers, more than I've had in quite a while, and I did it on an empty stomach, so I'm sure I was a little screwy for a while. We had a great time, stopped by Barnes and Noble (or Borders, they seem identical to me) afterwards, where I picked up a copy of Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Jon introduced me to some fantasy I'll have to tackle when I'm done with Cryptonomicon
Today we spent the day cleaning. Woke up, cleaned the house. Drove to the accountant, cleaned out our bank account to pay her and the gub'mint. Drove to the comic store, cleaned out my box (and picked up a copy of The Science of The X-Men, which I'm sure will make fascinating reading). Drove home, cleaned and waxed the car. Cleaned our outside utility closet. Cleaned the dishes. Cleaned the kitchen.
And somehow, I feel kinda dirty.
Friday, April 02, 2004
I don't have any good April Fool's pranks to play here. We did one at work for HeroClix, but I don't think enough people saw it to appreciate it. So it goes. There were some others (Jon's blog, for example), and a nice little prank by our HR guy that probably had more than a few employees sweating for a couple of seconds, but all in all the day was pretty quiet. I had enough to do to keep me busy, but not so much that I felt overwhelmed. I haven't had a nice balance like that in a long time, and it was refreshing.
Thursday, April 01, 2004
Reading through some of my posts from the last couple of days, I've come to the conclusion that the grammar portion of my brain has suffered some sort of damage, as has the lobe that controls logical flow of ideas into written form.
In other words, if any of the strange shit below makes no sense, just smile and nod for me. Thanks.
It turned out I didn't watch anything scary after all. I popped in Minority Report, a movie I liked well enough in the theater, except the projector broke in the last ten minutes of the film, so the ending got totally screwed up (this sucks during an action movie). This happened to me once before, during U-571. I didn't mind so much during U-571 because I was having a hard time not laughing and trying not to go deaf from the ridiculously loud sound mix.
Instead of finishing the movie, I spat out a good thousand words on Crocodile Man, which puts me a little more than 15,000 words away from my goal. I'm hoping to get another thousand tomorrow at least. Hopefully before work, so I can justify working on queries and other things tomorrow evening.
Edit: because I'm a whore and I'm trying to get listed in a blog search directory, I added a button with a link to it under the archives. Eventually, once I find some cheap webspace, I'm gonna get rigged up to host pictures and other pages, like links, again.
The Man Comes Around
I'm listening to Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around," from the acoustic album of the same name (the one with his cover of "Hurt" on it), which they played over the opening credits of Dawn of the Dead. I've decided it was a freakin' great movie, and I'm gonna have to see it again. And own it, for sure.
Liz is at dog training tonight, so I'm blogging and about to go hit a scary movie, although I haven't decided which yet. Today was the deadline to get the next chapter of Crocodile Man to RPG Times, and I didn't make it, but I am going to work on it either tonight or tomorrow morning before work. That, and I'm going to try to nail down my submission to "Amazing Stories" and hopefully squeeze out some query letters to a couple of people Jon suggested I hit. I feel like I'm at the Catch-22 point again: everyone wants to see publishing credits, and I don't have many, but in order to get them, I need to show publishing credits. At least my job has afforded me the opportunity to get several items published in some pretty big gaming magazines, so I've got something other than local Okie stuff and that newsrag I edited.