Saturday, April 30, 2011

House Guest

I know it's the weekend, and people typically don't read blogs on the weekend, in my experience. Therefore, this will be the first of a few directional posts.

A week or so ago, while reading comments on one of the many blogs I frequent, my clicky fingers accidentally clicked a name in the comment section, and I was redirected to that blogger's profile. Ever in want of new blogs to read, I followed through to her blog. What I found was one of the most intelligent writer's I've ever had the pleasure to read. Sunny's story is, in all honesty, heavy, and not to be taken lightly. Yet, she writes it with honesty, caring, and wit. It is for these qualities and many more that I am now a permanent follower of hers. This is the direct link to her very first post, and I suggest you start there. Her grief is chronicled in "Parts," but to get to know Sunny, you really need to read her blog in sequence, even with the "not official parts" mixed in. It tells a complete story. So, head on over there and read...

...but not before you read my first guest post since returning to the blogging world. It can be found here:
Guest Post - David: Loss Through a Child's Eyes

*I have, since preparing this for when I had the direct link to the guest post, learned that Sunny is also a fan of Flight of the Conchords. For this reason alone you should follow her.

Friday, April 29, 2011

That's Not Right

This one's for Vegetable Assassin because she and I share a love for Cadbury Creme Eggs. While the picture that follows is not of the Creme variety, I noticed something about it.

I've underlined the pertinent parts.
Did you see that? A Cadbury Caramel Egg that is "Milk Chocolate with Soft Fondant Center."

Sometimes these things just fall into your lap. Or your mouth.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Slapdash

It's a fancy word for the randomness that will be this post. Commence!

  • We had yet another insane storm come through last night, so in addition to having to wake the children and take them to the basement for the second half of the night, my back is out.
  • Work is stressing me out. So, today I'm going to focus on knocking out as much work-related crap as I can.
  • I don't have enough time to do the things I want to do.
  • I'm lacking motivation in the actual, you know, story writing arena.
  • I'm also working on a special project for the very near future, but more on that when it happens.
  • My pears and blueberries seem to have survived last nights fray.
  • I've already decided that I'm having nachos for lunch, and no one can stop me.
  • Mom's birthday was this last Sunday. I'm mailing her package today. Right before I get nachos.
  • I'm just now realizing I'll be taking two children to a birthday party on Saturday. By myself. Pray for my already strained patience.
  • My last drink was November 11.
  • My last Cadbury Egg was 4 hours ago.
  • Still waiting for my iPad2 to get here.
  • I have a Lego Target Dog on my desk at work. It came with a gift card my boss gave me for Christmas.
  • Weird Al is currently playing on Pandora.
  • I'm already on my second 16-ounce cup of water. I usually go through 6 of these just while I'm at work.
  • The Playstation Network was hacked. Massive amounts of data compromised. This is why I don't store credit card information online. When I buy from Amazon, I go to the store, buy a new Amazon Gift Card, load it up with the exact amount I need, and use that to finalize the purchase. Same for monthly bills. Type it in every time.
  • I could use a vacation.
Is that random enough? Sometimes stream of conscious writing is good. Sometimes it's bad. And sometimes it's just...what the hell was that?

Happy Thursday, Everyone.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Digital Upload #1

I have a somewhat busy day today, so I'm uploading pics from my digital camera and my phone camera. Enjoy!

I thought this blueberry bush was dead over the winter months, but it's coming back with a vengeance. This one bush probably has about 100–125 berries on it. Can't wait until they're ready.
Another shot of the berries, apparently with my dog's ass in the background.

I wish I'd snapped these earlier. We had a pretty nasty hail storm that took out a lot of the iris blooms. These iris plants are descended from The Wife's great-grandmother. They just keep spreading, split apart, and planted somewhere else. They were originally the one purple color, but suddenly we have a few white ones mutating in.

A few shots of my rhododendron, looking pretty good, and just blooming.

These few are from my cell camera.
Such a lonely looking iPad2 smart cover, waiting for its other half.

I was stuck in construction traffic on a side road on my way to physical therapy. Initially, the tripod at the right side of the house was what caught my eye, and then I saw the black at the roof line. Looks like burn marks from a house fire.
A little harder to see in this one, but dead center, right at the roof line again.

I went here for my lunch break last Tuesday. I did not want to leave.
 

And that's all there is to share today. Happy Wednesday, folks.

*Updated: I took all these pictures, so there's your license, suckers.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Benchmark: 25

There are 25* of you following me now. Thanks for reading the crazy.

Also, where's my bronze Trophy?**


* Next Benchmark: 37***
** A very bad Playstation joke. I don't really want a trophy.
*** A really bad Kevin Smith reference.

Top Five Tuesday: Favorite Books

I'm sitting here in a quiet room, a three-year-old sleeping on the couch next to me, and I thought I'd get this post ready for the morning. As such, I bring you another list.


Top Five Favorite Books

I love books. Probably as much as I love movies, but I don't have a whole lot of time for reading lately. Which really sucks. Be that as it may, here are my all-time, top five, favorite books.

  1. The Sleeping Dragon (Guardians of the Flame) - In addition to being a fantastic writer, Joel Rosenberg is also one of the coolest guys you'll ever meet (and even though we haven't met face-to-face yet, we've interacted on several levels, and I'm proud to say that I'm Facebook friends with the man and his wife, for goodness sake; seriously, two of the coolest, most wonderful people on the planet). I knew his books way before I knew the man, and he's a great storyteller. As the title might suggest, it's a fantasy book. Joel's a sci-fi & fantasy author, so go figure. This is the first book in a ten book (so far) series, and one of his best. They're all great. You should check them out. (Link to the omnibus version here: The Guardians of the Flame (Guardians of the Flame Novels (Baen)))
  2. I Am Legend - Richard Matheson tells an amazing story. And while they've made three movie versions based on this book (The Last Man on Earth, The Omega Man, and I Am Legend), not a single one comes close to the brilliance that is this book. The movies screwed up the message; even the most recent version of the same name with Will Smith. It was the closest, but the end was made too Hollywood. It's a shorter work, but completely worth the read.
  3. Bid Time Return - Richard Matheson again? I just have to do it. This book is also amazingly well written. They made a movie version way back in 1980 with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour (excuse me a minute while I think of the young Jane Seymour in this movie...Did you know that she has two different colored eyes?) called Somewhere in Time (Collector's Edition). Brilliant film. Brilliant book. Do yourself a favor and partake in both. You will not regret this decision.
  4. The Callahan Chronicals - Spider Robinson is a genius. This book is a collection of a lot of his Callahan works all rolled into one. Part sci-fi, but it takes place in Callahan's Place, a bar in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. The best story in the collection is called "The Time Traveler" and is not what you think it is about. Read them all, and enjoy them with some Bushmill's or Tullamore Dew (whiskey, people).
  5. Les Misérables - I'm not crazy about the link I just provided, but only because the cover says "Now a Broadway Musical." Don't get me wrong, I have a musical theatre background, a BA in Theatre, and absolutely love this musical (side note: I was listening to this soundtrack when I was in my car crash in February, so suck it, right?), but you should not have to pimp a book by saying it. The novel is so much more than you could possibly imagine. Take your time with this epic tale, and enjoy.
  • Honorable Mention: I wanted to make sure you also saw what are called "The D'Artagnan Romances" but unfortunately known as The Three Musketeer and The Man in the Iron Mask. Alexandre Dumas was an amazing storyteller. What is usually seen as two films is actually three, four, or five novels, depending on how they are broken up (Wikipedia reference: list of D'Artagnan novels). They are all amazing. Every. Single. One. There is so much more to D'Artagnan, Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and everyone else. Set aside a huge chunk of time, and make sure you read these books. They are amazing.
Thus ends another telling of the Top Five.

I'm always interested in new reads to add to my "Catch Up On Your Reading Once The Kids Are Older And Can Take A Little More Care Of Themselves" stack. So, tell me: What are your favorite reads? What are you reading now?*

*other than The Hunger Games series, since everyone seems to be reading them lately.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Called It In

A short, funny, little story for you today, courtesy of The Girl. She's 3 (soon to be 4).

About 5am today, The Girl came into our bedroom and climbed into bed with us. She said she wasn't feeling well. About 6am, she had a slight fever (99.3) and an upset tummy. I called work saying I would be out. Fast forward a few hours, I had rescheduled my physical therapy session and brought her with me. The staff was talking to her and she tells them she wasn't at school because she ate too much Easter candy. This is a little different story than not feeling well. We get home and the following exchange takes place:

Me: "Are you feeling better, honey?"
Her: "Uh-huh."
Me: "What was hurting?"
Her: "I ate too much Easter candy."
Me: "Oh yeah? What did you eat?"
Her: "Three eggs."
Me (thinking): "Three eggs? That's not bad. That's 6 Starburst jelly beans."
Me: "Just three?"
Her: "Yep. Three chocolate eggs."

And then I realize, she didn't eat three plastic hiding eggs with two jelly beans apiece in them. She ate three mini Cadbury Creme Eggs. As we all know, 3 mini eggs = 1 regular egg. So this little girl, 3 years old, weighing 34 pounds, ate 150 calories and 22 grams of sugar in one shot. Well, no shit your stomach hurts. Goofball.

Like father, like daughter, though.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Cold Dark Cell

He opened and closed
his eyes a few times
until they adjusted
to the darkness. Red numbers
hovered in the void. They
did not help break
his confinement. He began
to move around in the night,
ignoring the switch. It would
not help. Eyes adjusted, he
moved with greater ease, until
finding the usual spot. The black
broken slowly as the tube
warmed to life. The silence
replaced with the familiar
low hum. Time ticking
by and by and by.

Friday, April 22, 2011

30 Days of Video Games - Day 13

Welcome back to another exciting video installment. Today's will be a short post. Duty calls, and all. That said, I have nothing in me to create another post today for those of you not of the nerd crowd. I suggest going to your News Feed on Facebook and inevitably finding that "Laughing Penguin" video. Oh, what the hell: Go Here To See It.

Day 13 - A Game You've Played More Than 5 Times

Not a hard feat, that one. With very, very few exceptions, I'm probably played most games more than 5 times. It's the way I roll. Or something. Whatever.

Age of Empires II was and is a fantastic game. The Wife doesn't play video games. She doesn't care that I play them, or that I save my money (we have a weekly allowance system; aren't we cute?) and buy video games, systems, movies, and general shit. Funny side note: George Carlin did a joke asking, "Have you noticed all your stuff is shit, and all their shit is stuff?" I always found that funny. And true. Back to the action. The Wife doesn't play video games. However, she will play this game on her laptop. Not kidding. It's one of the only video games I've ever known her to play these last 12 years. She'll sit on the couch with her laptop, and play a game, which can last anywhere from 1–4 hours. Not only that, but back in the days when we were living at her parents' house (before we got married; SCANDAL!), her dad set up a network so that he, she, her brother, and I could all play in the same multiplayer game together.

No joke.

And it was spectacular.

We still play, occasionally, which is exceptional for a game that came out in 1999.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

They Are Among Us

I snapped this on the way home yesterday.

I had to sharpen the image a bit, but did you see it? Look above the license plate.
That's as sharp as I can make it on this computer.
The Transformers are among us.

*I took these pictures. Word.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hi, I'm Mark

The title is a little vague, and probably won't make sense to a single person outside of my skull. Based on a comment from BlueViolet over at A Nut in a Nutshell from my previous music post, I thought I'd share this strange experience I had once. Okay, what I'm about to share hasn't happened just the one time, but I'm only sharing this one experience, mostly because I found it an interesting situation.

Back in 1999, I had attempted to transfer from my undergrad in Michigan to a school in Texas. Long story short, I canceled the transfer, took the summer and fall of 1999 off, and went back up to Michigan for the remainder. So, unplanned, I ended up with an eight month hiatus from undergrad, and was working for Starbucks. All in all, the whole time was a pretty great experience, in that it made for a great time of reflection and self discovery.

Mom's work flew her to San Francisco for a week for a conference, so Dad and I decided to go out there for the weekend prior. The flight plan was DFW to STL to SFO. Red eye flights, both ways. By now, I'm sure you're wondering just what the hell this has to do with music. Well, the flight and the trip isn't what I'm talking about in this story, so it's time to fit music into the scene.

Dad and I got onto a plane in Dallas at 6am or so on a Saturday morning on the first leg to St. Louis. Dad was asleep before everyone else had finished boarding. Me? I flipped through SkyMall (video link) until we reached the "it's safe to turn on personal portable electronic devices" notification. And I pulled out my headphones and portable CD player. On tap: Cracked Rear View by Hootie & the Blowfish. Specifically the song "Goodbye." Over and over again. Old school, baby. Even then, it was already five years old. On went the headphones, out came the pen and composition notebook. I started to write.

On a side note, a friend of mine at the time was in the RTVF (Radio, Television, Film) program and the University of North Texas. The program I had attempted to transfer into, but we already touched on what happened there. Anyway, Ryan needed a script for a short film they were doing for a project. Their original writer fell through, and he came to me with the request. Touched as I was, how does it feel to be second choice? Ass. So, this is what I was attempting to do while in flight. For the record, that's about 4.5 hours flight time, each way, plus layovers. All told, 9 hours of flight time, and about 4 hours of downtime on the layovers. Did I do it?

Over that time, plus a little extra while Mom and Dad were asleep (FYI: I've had chronic insomnia since 1993), I hand wrote an 18 page short screenplay. It had very limited dialogue, and was mostly that quiet, introspective, indie feel.

It was about a guy named Mark. He starts out as a shy high school kid. Aided by his two best friends—one a bigger guy, the other an unashamed (as she should be, thank you very much) lesbian—they tease him about wanting to talk to a girl from their school, but never doing it. Mark gets sick. You never hear what it is. There's a flash, and when we next see Mark, his appearance is changed. It's been a few months. He starts walking. He comes to a music store and goes in. Mark sees her, the girl. He buys a CD. They chat, and she wraps it up in a nice little package for him, and smiles. He does this every few days, and she always wraps the CD up for him. Mark has her order a specific CD for him. It comes in, but he never shows up. She goes to his house, the CD nicely wrapped again. She knocks. Mark's mom answers the door. She's been crying. Mark has passed away. The girl hands her the CD that Mark ordered and leaves. The mom takes it into Mark's room, when she sees a box under the desk. It has a dozen or so packages, similarly wrapped. She pulls one out and unwraps it. It's a random CD, purchased just so he could talk to the girl at the shop. But stuck to the front of the unwrapped CD is a handwritten note. From her. It's her name and number. Mom opens another. The same, with a little note. And another. And another. Last, we see the girl quietly walking down the street, the wind blowing, her coat buttoned up, her hands deep in her pockets, a few, sad tears on her cheeks. She stops to admire a lone flower blooming against the cold wind.

Sometimes, you just have to find the right (write) music.

©Copyright by me, so please remember that.
Also know that this was semi-based on one of those "anonymous" forwards from years and years ago.

30 Days of Video Games - Day 12

Here we go again!

Day 12 - A Game Everyone Should Play

Okay, I know that a lot of people don't play video games, don't care about video games, and have no interest in playing video games, but there was a fantastic little game that came out in 2008 (Xbox Live Arcade) and 2009 (Windows PC).


At first glance, Braid seems like a simple physical puzzle game. A little guy (Tim) runs through multiple levels, solving puzzles to open doors, defeat simple enemies (jumping on their heads), and rescuing a princess. On the surface, this is the game. However, if you read and pay attention to the narrative text that appears throughout this short game, you will get the sense that there is another story unfolding. The description from the Wikipedia page does it much more succinctly than I was about to do.

SPOILERS:

"Tim is a man searching for a princess who 'has been snatched by a horrible and evil monster.' His relationship with this princess is vague at best, and the only clear part of this relationship is that Tim has made some sort of mistake which he hopes to reconcile or, if possible, erase. As one progresses through the six worlds in Braid, storyline text at the beginning of each world provides further insight into Tim's quest for the princess, and alludes to the overarching gameplay mechanic of each level. The themes evoked include forgiveness, desire, and frustration. The final level, in which everything but Tim moves in reverse, depicts the princess escaping from a knight, and working together with Tim to surpass obstacles and meet at her home. Tim is suddenly locked out of the house, and, as time progresses forward, reversing Tim's actions, the events show the princess running from Tim, setting traps that he is able to evade, until she is rescued by the knight. Tim is revealed to be the 'monster' the princess is running from.

"Following completion of the game, the player finds additional texts that expand the story. The ending of the game is purposely ambiguous, and has been subject to multiple interpretations. One theory, based on the inclusion of the famous quotation stated by Kenneth Bainbridge after the detonation of the first atomic bomb—'Now we are all sons of bitches'—is that the princess represents the atomic bomb and Tim is a scientist involved in its development. Some also refer to the name of the game as both reference to the hair braid of the princess Tim seeks as well as the intertwining of time, demonstrated by the various time mechanics explored in the game. Journalists have considered Braid's plot to be interwoven with the game itself, much as the book Dictionary of the Khazars and the films Memento and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind interweave the narrative into the work's construction. In this sense, some have considered the game to carry a simple credo, such as 'You must look back to go forwards' as suggested by Eurogamer's Dan Whitehead. Others have likened Braid to punk rock, designed (as explicitly stated by Blow) specifically as a statement against the status quo of the industry; it is considered to deconstruct traditional gameplay concepts, such as jumping on enemies or rescuing a princess from a castle as borrowed from Super Mario Bros., and rebuild them in the game to force the player to rethink current game design. Blow has stated that there is more than one interpretation of the story; he 'would not be capable' of explaining the whole story of the game, and said that the central idea is 'something big and subtle and resists being looked at directly.' Blow considered Braid to be 'about the journey, not the destination.' He purposely designed the plot to not be fully revealed to the player unless they completed the game, seeing it as a way to provide 'a longer-term challenge.'"

*updated images to public domain/creative commons licenses and links, or removed because one can't be found.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Music Man

There was a time that I knew a whole lot more about music. Back in the day (read: high school), I was in band, orchestra, and choir, involved in theatre (my major in college), and even had my own radio show in college Friday nights from 8pm–2am. These days, when I'm not listening to music for kids, the music isn't playing (unless you count in my head). At work, I usually have one earphone in, streaming Pandora through my phone. Forgetting the three channels I created for streaming kids music through the television, I have 17 channels. Of those, the majority are comedy: Jonathan Coulton, Paul & Storm, Stephen Lynch, Garfunkel & Oates, Flight of the Conchords, Tripod, and The Lonely Island. I have two classical and one opera. One more that covers Ingrid Michaelson, Adele, and Regina Spektor. Three more covering some of my old school favorites: Everclear, Beastie Boys, Hootie & the Blowfish. And a few more to round it out: Nickel Creek, Ray Charles, and Zero 7.

What's my point? I really don't know very much about new music.

I listen to a Top 40 radio station weekday mornings on the way to work, and I hear them talking about, giving away tickets, and playing clips of new artists. I read Entertainment Weekly, and I pay attention to entertainment news on these pesky Internets. More often than not I'm reading about movies, but I'll read it all. I guess what I'm saying, and displaying with my choice of Pandora channels, is that I'm not as into music as I used to be. I remember laying on my bed, talking to a girl, listening to the radio together and talking about it. Deep, I know. The only thing is that I just don't care about music anymore. Sure, there are a few artists I still look for, and when/if they release a new album, I'll put it on my Amazon Wish List or run out and buy it.

Maybe my priorities have changed, and listening to new music isn't as exciting to me as it used to be. I'd rather stand in line for a new piece of tech or a new video game (Portal 2 and Mortal Kombat come out tomorrow if anyone wants to buy one or both for me) than wait for a CD release.

I know people are in different places in their lives, but I'm curious how others feel about music. Were you into music when you were younger? Are you still into music? If so, why? If not, why not?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hello, My Name Is Moron

Have you ever read an article on CNN.com? Huffington Post? New York Times? Wall Street Journal? Time? I'm speaking solely of the articles posted online. I'm sure, at some point, we have all read an article, review, or whatever. Have you ever read the comments?

A few decade years ago, Jeff Foxworthy told a joke about how the most ignorant among us are always the people you see on the news. The joke went that there was a disaster—tornado or something—and it's always the woman with curlers in her hair, cigarette hanging from her lips, and wearing a faded pink muumuu that's almost showing her whole...self. The camera is on her and she says, "It was pandelirium. I thought we'd be killed or even worse." Apparently these people have all been given computers and Internet access. Some of the most ignorant, racist, bigoted, homophobic, zealous fucking assholes in the world. They make me want to comment back, but they don't care. They're the type of people that enter a debate or conversation, but refuse to see the other side. Or even listen to it.

And to top it off, they can't spell worth a damn.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Morning Vocab Lesson #2

A big thanks to Blogger for being a little bitch. This post was all done up and ready to auto-post last Friday, but it never appeared. So, anyway, a week late, and here it is.

Friday Morning Vocab Lesson

The word of the day is: Defenestration.

If you don't think you know this word, I almost guarantee you've had thoughts about this act before.


A little history lesson today, too. Back in the good old days of Prague, two incidents in particular led to the development of this word. In 1419, seven town officials were executed, precipitating The Hussite War. Two centuries later (1618), two Imperial governors and a secretary were executed in the same fashion, marking the start of The Thirty Years War. These two incidents are referred to as The Defenestrations of Prague. So, how were these 10 people killed, giving rise to this term?


Defenestration - noun: the act of throwing a thing or especially a person out of a window.

It comes from the Latin de- (down or away from) and fenestra (window or opening).

That's right. To defenestrate someone means to throw them out the window. Now, before you start planning how to kill that special someone, you need to know that the act of defenestration does not necessarily carry the result of death. It does not, however, mean there will be no injury. There are so many factors to consider:
  • Is the window open or closed? Closed will mean lacerations from broken glass and splintered framework.
  • What floor are you on? The higher the fall, well...you get it.
Interestingly enough, these two times in Prague are not the only or the earliest recordings of defenestration. Jezebel was defenestrated by her servants in Kings II (The Bible). King James II of Scotland threw Earl William Douglas out of a window at Stirling Castle in 1452. It's not always a person, remember. During the Polish Uprising in January 1863, Frederic Chopin's piano was expressed from a building via a window, even though he'd left Poland forever 33 years earlier. A Toronto lawyer was demonstrating the strength of his high-rise office windows, when he fell through one to his death. There's also Se.pt.ember 11.* In 2007, Hamas threw a Fatah supporter from a window in Gaza. The next day, Fatah returned the favor using a Hamas supporter.

It's all over the place. Autodefenestration is the act of throwing yourself out of a window. Somehow, before writing this, I had not even linked suicide by jumping out of/off a building to be considered defenestration if the person jumped from a window. That's a little strange that I didn't make that connection.

And now I've spent too much time talking about suicide.

Anyway, I don't remember the first time I heard this word, but I believe it was in the same forum where I learned the term "BWANTI" or "Board With A Nail Through It." As in "Stop the hate, lest I wield the BWANTI of censdorship." Those were the days.

Happy Friday, everyone. Remember: Only defenestrate your boss in your mind; I'd hate to see anyone go to jail.

*I won't talk about this one. Some people watched this live on television, but I watched it live from the streets of Manhattan and don't care to speak of it again. (I used the "." so that this doesn't just show up in a search for the term.)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I...Just...

Can someone tell me what the hell flavor horchata is supposed to be? I swear, sometimes I think QT's just fucking with us.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

30 Days of Video Games - Day 11

Welcome to another video game installment. I'm determined to get through all of these, but at my own pace. So, suck it, all of you who do these 30 days themes and then think you have to play catch-up because you missed the weekend. My place. My rules. And away we go.

Day 11 - Gaming System of Choice

Tough call, this one. I'll rule out the Wii. It's nice, it's fun, but not that great, if you ask me. This goes for the Nintendo DS in all its incarnations, too.


So, in the battle of Xbox 360 v. PS3, the winner is...the Xbox360 wins out. I think it's because it was the first system I bought with my own money. Or maybe it's just that I don't have an HDTV, so the detail on the PS3 looks exactly the same. I will say that as much as I liked "Heavy Rain" on the PS3, even "inFamous" couldn't make up for the fact that I really hated the controls of "Heavy Rain." So, a few factors that tip the scales to the Xbox360. To be fair, if they come out with "Fable 4" and it sucks as many balls as "Fable 3" did, that might level the field again. Or if I get a new TV.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Iceman Cometh

I removed everything here just in case of copyright issues. All I said was that I had a frozen shoulder.

edited: 07.23.2012

Monday, April 11, 2011

Green

I woke up today completely congested. Given that I don't suffer from anything other than medicinal allergies, this means I have caught a cold of some sort. I blame the rapid changes in temperature (one day it's 84, the next 54, the next 76, and so on), as well as an already weakened system from the car crash (2 months ago today, actually). Regardless, there was something I wanted to talk about today.

I am not a jealous person. I don't struggle to keep up with the Jones Family, and I don't compare what I have to that of someone else. I'm the type of person that sees something he wants—current top of the list is an iPad2, if anyone's interested in sending me one to keep and review, just saying—and saves up until he has enough to buy it outright. I have enough student loan and mortgage debt, as well as a new car payment, that I don't want to accumulate more. So, I save until I have the $581.04 to cover the cost of the iPad, smart cover, and tax money to cover the item, and then I buy it outright. I've done the same thing with my laptop, my PS3, my Xbox 360, and a whole host of other things. I find something I want. I save. I own. It's that simple. It takes sacrifice, and discipline, and whole lot of bringing lunch from home. It would also be prudent to point out that we have a weekly allowance system; the basic idea is that we both get $40 cash every week, and that's money we don't have to be responsible to the other person for how we spend it. I buy movies or save it up for something big. It drives The Wife insane. That's really another story for another time.

My point is that I'm not a jealous person, we covered that. Except...for them.

"They" are the people I see over lunch, when I'm running across the street to Target to grab diapers because we're out, or laundry detergent, or a birthday card, or whatever. I'm running in, grabbing what I need, and running out so I can eat my lunch and get back to work on time.

"They" are the men and women wearing jeans and Cons, strolling the aisles without a care in the world. They don't have kids with them, and they don't seem to be in any sort of hurry. I dare say they seem content. Happy, even. And I find myself being jealous of them. We don't get a casual Friday, we can't wear jeans or sneakers to work, and any time I have to take a day off because of a doctor appointment or a sick child, I get bad vibes from the bosses, or people complaining that I didn't get back to them (regardless of the fact that my Out of Office Assistant in Outlook told them I was out for the day). I need the job, or more appropriately, I need the income. Neither one of us makes enough that the other could stay home. Not yet, anyway. So, I come to work every day, I bring my lunch, and I save for the things I want for myself. It's a means to an end.

Yet, I can't help but feel that little twinge of sadness when I see "them" just aimlessly wandering while the rest of the world has to go to work.

*Yes, it's possible that they work nights, or they're on a vacation day, or they've been laid off, but it's my mind, and that's what I see.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Heavy Reading

I never respond to Facebook quiz requests anymore. At my last job, I was able to keep a healthy balance of work, Facebook, and a slew of other things going at the same time. Now, with two jobs, two kids, and never enough time on my hands, I just outright ignore Facebook game and quiz requests. Time is precious, and time online doubly so, and wasting it on these one-off games and quizzes will not happen. That said, every so often I'll see someone with an auto-post from one of these applications with their score or whatever. In my news feed this morning, a friend had posted her score to one that sounded right up my alley, and as it looked like it wouldn't take more than a few minutes to do the "quiz," so I jumped on board. According to the "BBC Book List Challenge," the average person will have only read 6 of the 100 books in the list, and you are requested to check the box next to those you have read. I jumped in, started checking boxes, and passed their mark after selecting the first 6 titles. When all was said and done, I'd checked 66 out of 100. This does not count those to which I have only seen the movie. Access the full list on Facebook here.

One thing I find really interesting is that Romeo & Juliet and Hamlet appear separately on thing list. I would imagine complaints if they only had one entry for The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, because, honestly, unless you're like me, or a Shakespeare scholar, you probably haven't read the complete works. This logic applies to the Harry Potter series, too, since they only have HP and the Sorcerer's Stone listed. No complaints, because at least 7 of the 100 are not HP books. (Don't get me wrong, I like HP, but having only one on the list leaves room for more options.) Also of note, someone's a big fan of Jane Austen, as she appears on the list a whopping four times.

Some of my favorites:
Those are just a piece of what I selected, and truly some of my favorite reads. As you can tell from my score, there are some I haven't read that I will now be putting on my acquisition list. A few of those: Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman, Middlemarch, and Life of Pi.

I used to read a lot more than I have time for now, but I still collect books on the off chance that I'll have time in the future to get some reading done. What are you reading now? Or what was the last book you read? What is your favorite book?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Top Five Tuesday: Amazing Movies

I used to do this thing in a recent blog incarnation where I would put up a Top Five list of a usually specific, sometimes random topic. I'm bringing it back today. The basic point should be evident. Remember, unless otherwise specified, these lists are not a ranking.

Top Five (Current) Favorite Movies, Any Genre
  1. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World : Perhaps the ultimate nerd movie. Seriously. My top five movies list had not changed in a while until this movie came along. I'll admit that it's certainly an acquired taste, but even if you're not into comics and video games, it's still a cute movie. Michael Cera was a really good choice for that awkward nerd role.
  2. Leon (The Professional (Deluxe Edition)) : Completely amazing film. Directed by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element), and starring Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, and a 12-year-old Natalie Portman. I have no words to describe this film. Utterly amazing, visceral, yet sweet.
  3. Amadeus : Yes, this is a long film. Yes, it's a biopic, of sorts. F. Murray Abraham was insanely brilliant as composer Antonio Salieri, and Tom Hulce as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was both amazingly off his rocker and intense in his... Okay, look. There is a scene where Salieri is sneaking around a palace to taste some desserts that caught his eye. While doing so, and young woman runs into the room. Salieri hides out of sight. The woman crawls under a linen-covered table. The door opens again, and you do not yet see who it is. There is playfulness as the woman is pulled out from under the table, and then she and this young man proceed to chase each other around the room, and kiss, and flirt, and carry on. Suddenly, the man is standing, silent, with a concentrated look on his face, his hand in the woman's face silencing her with the gesture. And he says, "That's my music. They've started without me." He flees from the room, and we see Salieri's face, this look of utter disbelief. The whole movie is a flashback, with an older, committed to a sanatorium Salieri telling the story to a priest. In a voiceover a little while after the scene I have described, Salieri is looking at Mozart's pages, noting its simplicity at first, and how it becomes so much more with each additional instrument. Reading those pages, hearing the music in his head, he describes it as hearing the voice of God. "This was no composition by a performing monkey. This was a music I had never heard. Filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing. It seemed to me I was hearing the voice of God." Mozart arrives, snatches the pages, and whisks away. Salieri continues, "But why? Why would God choose an obscene child to be his instrument?" I'm not doing it justice by just typing the words, and I've gone on long enough about this movie. It's amazing from start to finish, and filled with beautiful music and scenery.
  4. Star Wars : This movie will never leave my top five. Ever. There is only one version of this movie, and it's grainy, on VHS, and Han shoots first. Period. There was no episode number and no parenthetical ("A New Hope"). Sadly, it's hard to come by in this version anymore.
  5. The Hobbit & The Return of the King: Animated in 1977 & 1980 by Rankin & Bass (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, ThunderCats), these films are superb, if insanely shortened versions of the Tolkien novels. I'm interested in the live action film for The Hobbit they're working on, especially now that Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings) has taken over the director's helm. The animation style of these two films was amazing for its time, and still looks awesome, even if it's not 3D computer animation. It had texture. The latter of these two films had a really great song at the beginning called "Frodo of the 9 Fingers and the Ring of Doom." I have it in my mp3 library.
That was a little longer than I'd anticipated. That's what she said. Or not.

And there you have it. However, it prompts me to ask: What are some of your favorite films?

Monday, April 4, 2011

How Rude

I had the beginnings of a different post started for this morning, but I'm preempting that with this little notice.

Don't Be So Rude, Especially On A Monday Morning

I stopped for a bagel and container of milk at Einstein's this morning. I had already paid, and was waiting, like the few others who had ordered before me, for my food. When you order, they take your name and shuffle you to the register while they prepare item after item. Stepping aside, they called the name of the person behind me in line. She looked to be in her 50's, wearing a power suit that badly needed a recharge (read: it was a good 10–15 years old). The girl working the register was nothing but polite when she called the woman's name, and this woman looked between the register and the woman putting the orders together, frantically snapping her head from side-to-side twice before settling on the register. In a very haughty, verging on panicked tone, she said, "Well, I don't have my two power bagels yet." And proceeded to hold up the order-pay-get food system until she had her bagels in hand. She paid—in exact change, no less—and began to leave the restaurant.

Now, before she reaches the door, you need to be aware that both I and the two people who had ordered before me were still waiting for our food. Somehow, perhaps due to the outdated power suit, she felt entitled to express service.

I couldn't help myself, and proceeded to give her about 30 seconds of thanks for slowing down the orders of the people in front of her, for her entitled behavior, and promptly wished that she both have a better day and think about treating people with a bit more respect. I smiled and turned my back on her, again waiting for my bagel. She huffed a few times but never said anything coherent before exiting the building. They called my name, I grabbed my bagel, wished them all a better day, and left myself. They all had big grins on their faces.

Started this week off right, eh?

30 Days of Video Games - Day 10

And now, another exciting installment in the video game series.

Day 10 - Best Gameplay

My brother-in-law will disagree with me slightly when I say this, but I'm still going to go with:

Fallout 3 - Scroll to the bottom and look for the one with the Washington Monument in the background.

BIL was definitely a fan of this game, but he preferred the follow-up Fallout: New Vegas. I have to disagree. While there are many more characters in FNV that were fleshed out, the characters in Fallout 3 that were fleshed out were the important ones. And while the landscape was different between the games—F3 was in D.C., FNV was in, obviously, Vegas and the Mojave Desert—I give the point to F3 because FNV used the same graphics engine, so it had the same visual look. Those are just a few points, but I found the game to be, as a whole, more visually and mentally stimulating.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Slow News Day

I've started and stopped a few different posts over the last few days, but I just can't post them. And here's why. Last night, I slept from 11:15–2:00 and have been up since then. The night before, I was awake from 1:45–4:30. It's still an on-going issue. As such, I'm quite the cranky fucker right now, and I didn't want it to come across that I was just ranting, raving, and bitching about things. So, I will now direct you to another blog for something that will make you laugh on this Friday. Believe me, when I read this post, it literally had me laughing out loud.

Dear (Blank) - a funny

You will not be disappointed.

Hopefully I'll get some sleep soon and be less of a grump. Have great weekends, people.

30 Days of Video Games - Day 9

Day 9: Saddest Game Scene

Okay, so I've delayed this day of the video game series because I just couldn't decide. For many people I know, the saddest video game scene is from a game I've never played before. It's the death of Aeris in Final Fantasy VII.I pulled up the clip on YouTube, and I have to say that it didn't move me. Now, perhaps that's because I don't have a connection to the characters. Be that as it may, I would nominate a scene from Heavy Rain as the saddest scene. It's a flashback scene of the Origami Killer as a child. SPOILER ALERT. If you intended on playing this game, or if you've just started it, you'll want to finding the video. Otherwise, if you do play it, skip to the 50-second mark to bypass the spoiler message.


Maybe it's because I'm a parent, but this is sadder to me than a Final Fantasy character being killed.

*video removed for copyright, just in case.