Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year. Don't do cocaine.

Thought this article was interesting, especially with the recent legalization of marijuana in both Washington State and Colorado.

"The Americans I know who indulge in cocaine are not bad people. Some of them even give money to charity. They’re just a little too bored, a little too rich, and a little too clueless. But if someone here in Mexico asks me who these people are—these people who support something that’s killing entire towns from Bolivia to Texas—well, I don’t know what to say."

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2013/12/cocaine_trafficking_horrors_users_are_complicit_in_the_atrocities_of_the.html


Friday, December 20, 2013

Well hello there.

Like the mighty Kraken rising up from the sea, my blogging schedule has been unpredictable as of late. But checkout this sweet drawing I did while on a conference call! Starbucks ... 2014 holiday design? Call me.

Happy Maul-idays!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Top things I’m thankful for in 2013


1.     The money I save on haircuts
2.     Not running into creepy lurkers at decaying buildings
3.     The ending to the TV show Chuck
4.     Little golf pencils
5.     It not being a Presidential Election year
6.     The fact that fantasy football is like stock trading
7.     Savory scones
8.     Friendly dogs
9.     The unintentional comedy of people who think too highly of themselves
10. Candied walnuts on salads
11. Odd pronunciations of common words
12. Free food
13. Willpower when around free food
14. Temperature changes, plus or minus
15. Ninjas vs. Samurais
16. Passive aggressive blog posts
17. Lists

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Adventures in Corporate Morality


There are currently two cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the Affordable Care Act, its coverage of birth control and the rights of corporations to exercise their religious beliefs. You read that correctly: the right of a for-profit corporation to exercise ITS religious beliefs. Not a non- or not-for-profit entity. What a country! One of these corporations is Hobby Lobby, which is openly Christian and goes so far as to close on Sundays.

This Thursday is the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s a holiday that celebrates the coming together of people of different backgrounds and faiths at a communal table. For as long as I can remember, Black Friday was the big shopping day of the year, with all sorts of “door busters”. Then, over the past few years, more and more corporations started opening earlier and earlier until the sacred midnight hour was recently breached. Now, a significant number of retailers will be open Thanksgiving night and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were open the entire day next year. For the record and from what I can tell, Hobby Lobby will be closed on Thanksgiving and will open at its normal time on Black Friday.

So I wonder: which is worse? Is it worse to work for a corporation that imposes its religious views on its workers, but observes holidays as they were intended? Or is it worse to work for a corporation that may not impose any religious views, but fails to observe national and state holidays?

The answer is that our government should stop dicking workers around and start protecting them. Duh.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My 2-day Juice Fast (Or how I learned to love to urinate. A lot.)


When I feel myself getting into a rut, I like to mix it up. If I have too much coffee, I switch to tea. If I watch too much TV, I get outside. If I’m outside too much, well, then life is pretty good … or I’m lost in the woods and someone needs to send out a search party.

For the past two weeks, I’ve had a nasty cough. Just disgusting. Green phlegm. The works. And the result was that I was limited in my workouts and activity level. So instead of jumping right into exercise, I thought I’d lose a few pounds first. One way would be to slowly increase my activity level over time. That’s not the way I went.

I went the “investing in sub-prime mortgages sounds like a great idea” route. I decided to do a two-day juice (and tea) fast. This is what transpired.

Sunday (Day Zero)
To get ready for my juice fast, I needed juice-friendly fruits and vegetables. Luckily, I have a juicer from when I was more ambitious about making prison cider in my basement. And I found an article on a rudimentary juice fast with a recipe I could follow, more or less. So it was off to the grocery store to purchase organic versions of the following:

1 part Kale
2 parts Apples
4 parts Celery
1 nubbin Ginger Root
1 liberal splash Lemon Juice

Immediately, I learned two things: Organic Kale is way overpriced and you really don’t get a lot of blood from a turnip. But I juiced and juiced and set myself up nicely for both breakfast and lunch the following day. Then I ate half a pizza.

Monday (Day One)

7ish AM
I awoke feeling a bit nervous—would I have enough energy to last the day? Would I be okay without a cup of coffee? Was the Hunger Games based on a true-life juice fast?

Putting my fears aside, I realized I didn’t actually feel all that hungry. So I guzzled down my liquid breakfast, grabbed my moss-green liquid lunch and headed to work.

9:30 AM
To combat the coffee routine, I switched it up and drank caffeine-free tea—which I realize sounds insane. But you’ve read this far. Who’s the insane one, really?

11 AM
This was when I first felt doubt about the whole experiment. I still wasn’t ravenously hungry, but I wasn’t sure my lunch would do the trick. I eyed the snack bars in my desk drawer …

NOON
What was I so worried about? That lunch was delicious and I still didn’t feel too hungry. I thought, “I’ll go for a walk”.

1 PM
Hello, sugar crash. I’m not sure if it was the quick bit of exercise or the massive influx of sugar, but I was dragging in my post-lunch meeting for what felt like 10 minutes or so. Made it through—I’m a pro—yet it was still a surprise.

4 PM
Would someone stop beating on my head, please? My head was pounding and my eyes were sensitive to light. If this was a small taste of withdrawal, my sympathies go out to all the heroin addicts out there. No thanks.

6 PM
My headache subsides a bit when I have a few sips of my dinner. I juice up my remaining stores for the next day and even add a banana, which smoothes out the lemons’ bite.

8 PM
Had some chamomile tea to warm up. Felt surprisingly not hungry.

10 PM
Headache passed and I didn’t feel particularly hungry. Day one went better than expected. Also, I can see F-O-R-E-V-E-R ...

Tuesday (Day Two)

7 AM
Woke up feeling great. Seriously. Felt a bit hungry, yet full of energy. Downed my breakfast and noted that the banana was a great addition. Me is genius.

9:30 AM
Tea time was just as effective as the day before. I get it now, Britain.

NOON
Decided to follow the routine from the previous day: Lunch and a walk.

1 PM
Felt sluggish, but not nearly as much as the previous day. Progress!

4 PM
Didn’t have a headache this time. Did have some cravings for food and noticed food on banner ads on websites more often. No I did not lick my computer screen just now!

6 PM
Bought some pre-juiced organic orange and carrot juice at the store. Juicing is best left to the professionals and I fear my skin will soon be tanning salon orange.

8 PM
Why are there so many food plotlines on TV??? And the commercials??? Actually, I felt pretty good and didn’t really feel all that hungry or tempted. However, I noticed that if I was craving something, it was more out of habit than hunger.

11 PM
Day two was even more of a success. Dare I do a day three? No, no I don’t. I want solid food again. I go to bed dreaming of cupcakes.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

An abandoned Aviation school in East St. Louis.

When it comes to red flags, this one is up there with overnight haunted penitentiary tours. But a group of seven brave and intrepid urban explorers were up to the task. Our rewards were many, however, my favorites were the works of rudimentary art on the dormitory walls. Enjoy them from the safety of your distant screen within your comfortable walls.
Shows promise

Much like the Mark IV, but 89 times better

Uh ...

Somewhere on someone this exists as a tattoo

Tower, we have liftoff

I like what you've done here

From the dream journal

Friday, November 1, 2013

One corporation's guide to being passive aggressive

Henry Ford has been famously quoted as saying about his new Model-T car, "You can have any color, as long as it's black".

Apparently, someone at Yahoo! was listening*. Their corporate policy, in regards to their free Fantasy Football app, is, "You can make any choice, as long as it's the one we want." I say this because I get two prompts whenever I open the app.

The first prompt invites me to take a survey. I mean, REALLY invites me; you can practically hear the cheerleader's voice in your head. And, as should surprise no one, I have a firm policy of never clicking on any button, link or email involving an exclamation point! Free! Boobies! Millions! No.

Guess which choice they'd like you to make.

Also--another policy**--I don't like to take surveys. Would you like to waste your time for no benefit to yourself but to help us make more money? No.

This one intrusion would be all well and good if the prompts stopped there. If, in my naivety, a corporation would actually respect its customers***. 

But like a kid eating greedy handfuls of Halloween candy, Yahoo! doesn't know when to quit. Not only do I get another prompt, cheerleader voice and all, it doesn't even matter.

No ladies. Only tigers.
Would I mind? Yes. Does clicking. "No, Thanks" work? No, because this whole mess starts up all over again, seemingly at random.

I get the irony here. It has taken me longer to write this post than it would take to fill out the survey. And by posting this I am inadvertently providing them with feedback, albeit on their survey prompts. But the difference is I chose**** to write this in my own way and on my own terms. And I got to work in the term "boobies", which wouldn't have been an option on a formal survey. Ya got that, ya marketing boobies?

*Via timemachine, duh. 
**What am I, an insurance agency???
***Corporation, from the Latin, meaning Screwus Youus.
****Psychologist could argue Yahoo! manipulated me with their incessant prompts and my choice to respond in one form or another was inevitable and therefore no choice at all

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Anything except for money.

This past weekend, I was approached at a drug store parking lot by a man who told me he was a restaurant owner, he showed me his laminated menu, and explained to me that he had run out of gas. Problem was, he had forgotten his wallet. So he was asking folks to help him out with enough cash to buy a gas can and some gas. At the time, he had raised $6 in a few hours.

First, I asked him where his place was--perhaps I could drive him there. He replied that it was really far away, so that was out. Then, I asked him where his vehicle was located and he told me cross streets that were in the direction from where I had come. "No problem," I said, "I'm headed back that way. I'll get you a gas can and some gas." He looked at me skeptically and asked, "you'd pay $10-12 for that?" "Yes," I replied, "just let me get something from the store, really quick, and we can go." "Okay," he said, "just let me tell a guy who was helping me out." He walked around the corner. When I was done with my transaction, I walked around the corner and circled the parking lot, but the guy was nowhere to be found. Bummer.














Friday, October 11, 2013

Books Reviews: The Boys in the Boat, By Daniel James Brown


The Premise:
(From the cover) Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

The Good:
The story is especially poignant for me as it took place in places where I’ve lived and am intimately familiar with, so I wanted to get that bias out of the way early. That said, once the story gets moving, it moves along like, well, an eight-man crew that’s found its swing. Mr. Brown does his best work describing the races. Like all memorable historical and sports-themed stories, the book works its magic when it’s building anticipation up to the action—even when you know the results, or think you do, you still feel the apprehension of actually being there. And it is a book that’s alive with heroes and villains, sweat and tears, tragedy and triumph.

The Bad:
The book spends a great deal of time focusing on one of the “Boys in the Boat” in particular, which I understand is a narrative device to help the reader get immersed in the story, but the overall message of the story is about each member of the crew giving up their individuality for the success of the group. While I immensely liked the boy the author focused on—he had a truly remarkable life—there were times when I wanted to learn more about the other boys. And I never really got a strong sense for “why him”. It just seemed disingenuous. Also, there are times when the prose is overwritten and there is a bit too much focus on the Nazis outside the context of the Olympic games.

The Verdict:
Buy it if you went to U-Dub. Read it otherwise. The book has been optioned to be made into a movie, along the same lines as Seabiscuit, so have fun creating your dream team of actors to play the roles.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Top 12 “Elemental” Baby Names*


1.     Tungsten
2.     Cobalt
3.     Thorium
4.     Au (Pronounced Ah-you)
5.     Manganese
6.     Ytterbium
7.     Xenon
8.     Boron
9.     Bromine
10. Nickel
11. Noble Gas
12. Fe

*As made up by Prof. That Tad Guy

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Stan “The Man” Musial deserved better.


A friend of mine, an avid sports memorabilia collector, told me about an upcoming auction for a wide range of Stan Musial autographed baseballs, game-worn jerseys, signed photos, magazines and the like. Y’know, stuff baseball fans would want.

What I wasn’t expecting were the personal items. Now, I’m not one to quibble*, but I feel like memorabilia should be related to the field of accomplishment to have meaning. Stan Musial became “The Man” for his accomplishments on the baseball field. I do not remember him being a particularly notable fashion plate or even gaining much notoriety for his fashion sense. If he owned a fashion label with a clothing line, I’ve never heard of it. In short, I don’t believe he was known as Stan “The Man known for his noteworthy fashion sense” Musial.

If you find all of this to be a bit disrespectful, I apologize. I, too, find it disrespectful. Stan Musial is and was one of the greatest Cardinals baseball players to play the game. So I find it downright unconscionable that people are trying to profit from every item the man ever touched.   

For instance, these five sweaters worn by Stan Musial.


What? $1 opening bid?

Now, my history is a bit rusty, so my sincere apologies if these sweaters have some sort of significance that render them noteworthy. For instance, if he wore them during his Hall of Fame induction ceremony. But if not, for shame.

I would hope when my time to leave this moral realm transpires that the persons closest to me would take me to a well regarded taxidermist, dress me in a tailored Superman suit, pose me like I was flying and hang me from the Rotunda in our nation’s capitol. And after that, they’d have the decency to sell off all of my worldly possessions and donate the money to an appropriate charity.

Except for my sweaters. Those suckers are going to be worth millions** one day.

*I’m totally one to quibble.
**Not guaranteed.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The people on TV never watch TV.

Sitcoms are designed to entertain. I have just written the obvious; I know. Week to week we pop into characters' lives and bear witness as they experience some event, hopefully noteworthy. Usually the action is fast-paced, the friendships steadfast and the banter crackling sharp, witty and perfectly timed.

However, I'd be interested to watch one week where the rhythms and emotions are closer to real life. Notice I said "one week" because, let's face it, sitcoms are designed to entertain. But during that week, I think it'd be fascinating to see a group of characters struggle to have a conversation because they've known each other so long that they have nothing new to talk about. Or to hear the awkward pauses that occur when people don't have a blistering quip at the ready to make the group laugh. How would the characters interact when they aren't acting as characters, but real people who sometimes have good days and bad? What new "adventures" would transpire? The adventure of scrolling through Netflix after work to find something, anything to watch? Riveting! The adventure of reading a book while doing laundry? Hilarious! The adventure of working out at the gym surrounded by a bunch of people at or below your fitness level? Scintillating! The adventure of not fighting with a loved one because you had a long day at work and just want to go to bed already? Sweeps week!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Katy Perry’s Roar is reprehensible.


I listen to the radio in the car*. Most of the time it’s on a news station, but nearly as often it’s on a music station. Since there isn’t a good college radio station with a respectable signal in town, I have to settle for Top 40. That means that I have to wade through a lot of Blurred Lines** to get to one Get Lucky***.

Now, I could be a snob and say that the music is terrible, over-produced and lacking substance. Actually, I just did. But that’s not entirely true. There are some well written, well sung songs on the radio that are damn catchy and upbeat—which is all I really expect from Top 40 radio anyway.

But there is one song that is unforgivable on the radio. It’s a song that only exists—so obviously only exists—to make money.

Katy Perry’s Roar.

This is pop music at its most exploitative. It is woefully lazy, shows nothing but contempt for the audience and is insulting. It's not even bold enough to have an original thought. If this were a songwriting class assignment, it would fail miserably. But since it’s attached to a mega-star, it’s supposedly acceptable.

Here are the song’s lyrics. I’ve crossed out all of the clich├ęs, tropes and otherwise familiar metaphors and similes that have already been used by other, more talented performers. The non-lined out lyrics aren’t exactly Shakespeare.

"Roar"
I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sat quietly, agreed politely
I guess that I forgot I had a choice
I let you push me past the breaking point
I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything


You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)

Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, you hear that sound
Like thunder gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Get ready cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

[Chorus]

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion****
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar

Now I’m
floating like a butterfly
Stinging like a bee
I earned my stripes
I went from zero, to my own hero


You get the point, and the song repeats, so I’ll spare you the r-r-r-rest.

Why should I even waste my time discussing it? Because if we just sit there and let it play on the radio, then the people who manufactured it will just spoon feed us more of the same. Just recycle lyrics from better songs that actually made us feel some emotion beyond the heavy sigh of defeat that comes from worn-out resignation.

So the next time Katy Perry threatens to make you hear her roar, don’t let her. Change the station. Because you are a champion and oh oh oh oh oh.

*If I use the CD player, the ABS light comes on. I know enough about cars to know that’s not supposed to happen.
**Enough already!
***IMO the true song of the summer 2013
****Seriously, pick an animal! Tiger or lion, they both roar.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Thank goodness.

From Forbes.

"Five years after the financial crisis sent the fortunes of many in the U.S. and around the world tumbling, the wealthiest as a group have finally gained back all that they lost."

Friday, September 13, 2013

Book Review: Girl w dragon tattoo who played with fire and kicked the hornet's nest


Books Reviews: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Who Played With Fire, and Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest), By Stieg Larsson

The Premise:
Ace reporter, Mikael Blomkvist, investigates a mystery that brings him into contact with Lisabeth Salander, a reclusive computer hacker with an even more mysterious past.

The Good:
Mr. Larsson keeps the action moving and creates an impressive amount of fleshed-out characters along the way. He isn’t one to shy away from putting those characters in uncomfortable or even dangerous situations and that makes for a gripping yarn. The writing style is easy-to-follow and descriptive, but not laborious. While this isn’t particularly challenging literature, it is robust enough for a hearty summer’s read.

The Bad:
Dragon Tattoo has several explicit/graphic scenes that are not for the faint of heart or squeamish. After that, Fire and Hornet’s Nest are a bit easier to take—there is still violence, but it’s more in the vein of action-adventure. Because of the length of the books, some of the subplots seem rather unnecessary (there is a subplot in the third book that seems like it was created just to give one character something to do).

The Verdict:
Read ‘em. If you can handle some explicit violence early on, you’ll be rewarded with a fully realized story that moves briskly though its three acts.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

If you only remember one thing.

Wet cement should have the consistency of cookie dough. It should clump together, but not be too dry or else it will crumble when it sets. Too wet and it won't hold its shape. Forget the ratios; think cookie dough (but don't eat it)!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Breakfast at Ed-fany's

The diner is the most American of all eating establishments. Folksy, yet efficient. Wholesome, yet processed. It's a place where doughy, pasty white old ladies can still command the attentions of paunchy, balding men. 

For all their bulges, rolls and jowls, the staff is constantly in motion--cracking a joke here, refilling a coffee there, and even pointing out the napkin dispenser, with its never-ending supply of thin, papery, slightly absorbent tissues, to the uninitiated.
 
The dishes are without fail fried on the grill. The walls may be grimy, the menu frayed at the edges where the lamination is coming apart and the photographs on the wall might be faded and sun bleached, but by God that flat silver surface will be pristine and perfect. Usually with a whole mess of bacon or potatoes slowly crackling in mounded waves at the far corner of the grill. 

Every dish comes with toast in either white or wheat. It's ubiquitous. Accompanying either are vegetable spreads that glow a brilliant white-yellow that to the bleary-eyed and lazy tongued could be mistaken for real butter. There is also the option to shimmy out a perfectly rectangular mixed berry globule, usually some combination of grape, strawberry or raspberry, from a plastic container to be smashed and smeared across the toast's surface.

The coffee is instant, but black and hearty enough to cut through the grease from the fried foods. The ketchup is called catsup, but still glows a robust red. You can cover pretty much any dish in chili, except for Gladys (who I'm told was once quite the dish). 

The patrons are polite, but respectful, which is as it should be.They still read newspapers the old fashioned way, which is also as it should be. 

If all this sounds like your local diner, chances are it is the very same one. The name outside may vary and the box scores might relate to a different team, but once those eggs-over-easy break open and ooze into the hash browns, brother, you know you're home in the heartland of America.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Stranger encounters

Some friends of mine and I were sitting at a sidewalk table on a bright sunny morning when the nicest guy in the world walks up and enthusiastically asks to pet my friend's dog. The whole time he's laughin' and chucklin' and soon asks if the dog can do any tricks. My friend says that he can shake and lie down. I joke that he can slobber, to which the guy says, "just like Obama!" Then he laughs and walks off without explanation.

Then on Monday, I was in a cafe bathroom washing my hands when the guy next to me yells out, "Enjoy your stay at the Hilton," and leaves. I was not staying at a Hilton. To my knowledge, there weren't any Hilton locations nearby. The man was not wearing anything associated with said hotel. So the only logical explanation is that the man was psychic and I will soon be staying at a Hilton.

But hopefully not next to Obama. I hear that guy slobbers.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Book Review: The Fortress of Solitude, By Jonathan Lethem


The Premise:
A coming of age novel in a gentrified neighborhood of Brooklyn in the 1970s through early 1990s.

The Good:
Lethem can write. He’s one of those writers that makes ridiculously detailed, yet evocative scenes seem effortless. Not that you would notice. He grabs the reader and submerges them in his story. Each scene, each character, each place seems fully formed. Each action has consequence, for better or worse.

The Bad:
I didn’t like the main character, Dylan Ebdus. I know I’m not supposed to say that, especially since it’s “his” story, but upon reflection, I found him to be a flawed character—not in an endearing way. In a sense that made him more human, but I just didn’t think he made the best decisions. Or at least no enough to redeem himself. Also, like the book “The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay”, there’s a moment halfway through that comes out of nowhere and almost ruined it for me.  I’m just not sure that all that was necessary.

The Verdict:
Read it. From a sheer technical writing aspect, Lethem’s writing is amazing. I haven’t read his other books, so you might want to start somewhere else. But if you do read this book, just know that there’s some adult subject matter in parts. For better or worse.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lady parts.

A local department store is going out of business and I was able to purchase an item which I think will eventually become my new lamp. It's still a work in progress.

Half Woman.

Half Swedish.

An idea you can stomach.

Turn-ons include electricity.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Fumbled.

As a writer, I have a certain amount of sympathy for other writers because sometimes we all get a project or an assignment that isn't always in our area of expertise or even of any interest to us. Usually these fall into the more technical (e.g., boring) category--medical brochures, financial guides, appliance manuals, etc. And other times we're asked to write about subjects or products of which we lack firsthand knowledge (I'm looking at you Racist Menstrual Choir of Upper Maine). Despite these hurdles, we writers often soldier on. We research. We solicit advice from others. We write, by God. We write.

In school, we'd often hear the platitude, "There is no such thing as a bad assignment. Just bad writers." This would be followed by some example of a plucky copywriter seeing opportunity in a mere coaster--"It's sharp edge could be used to perform surgery and this piece of advertising could LITERALLY save lives"--and this would lead to some sweep of all of the categories in all of the industry awards. The point was: Opportunity is everywhere.

Which is why I find the product copy on NFLShop.com so bizarre. I don't know if it's intentionally over-the-top or accidentally so.

For instance, this copy for a bongo cooler:
"There’s a Seattle game this Sunday. You know what that means – tailgating party! You’re known by your pals as the Seahawks “Swag Master” because you always have the latest and greatest team gear."

It's written like they're selling a jetpack! Look, I've been to a fair number of tailgates and my "pals" are more likely to call me something that rhymes with "swag" than "swag master".

Or these things:
"... dare to display the full manifestation of your love for Seattle with these zany Spirit Fingerz gloves!"

Y'know, like the players wear.

Hey, btw, did you know that people in Seattle love coffee? Then you'll love this copy:
"When you drink your next cup of coffee on game day, you’ll taste Seattle pride in every drop!"

Yuck.

But if I thought my team had it bad, then my buddy, a Bills fan, has it worse.

Such as this Buffalo Bills Team Portfolio Folder:
"Your young fan knows one thing for sure – the Bills are the best team in the NFL."

Lying to children? For shame. But it's better than lying to yourself
"You've always enjoyed the finer things in life. You love designer shoes, diamonds and of course, your Bills."

Yep, sounds like every football fan I know.

But the best thing I found, by far, is this Fantasy Football guide:
  • High-quality graphics
  • Great gift idea
  • Officially licensed NFL product
 Oh, did I forget to mention that it's for 2009? Not 2010, 11, 12, 13 or 14. Yeah, a little late on that one. Thanks.

Friday, July 26, 2013

In flux, ad infinitum


Here’s my problem with holding up ancient tomes as gospel: Things change. People today quote from the Bible or the Koran or the teachings of Buddha as if they were written at the peak of humanity and human understanding. The same with the Constitution of the United States of America: What did the Founding Fathers intend?

Did Jesus or Mohammed or Buddha know how to drive a car? Did George Washington? Nope, nope, nope and nope. None of them knew how to do something the average sixteen year old knows how to do today. Does that make them stupid? Of course not. But it does show just how much they didn’t know.

Change is scary. Change can be dangerous or harmful. But not changing can be harmful, too. There is a certain safety in thinking that laws are immutable, like gravity (so far, so good). But when it comes to human beings, that assurance will never be guaranteed.

We live on an ever-changing planet in an ever-changing universe. To believe that we have it all figured out is just foolish. We need to embrace the foundations of the past and build on them for the future.

Today is July 26th, 4,540,002,013.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Memories

I find the concept of "photographic", e.g. Eidetic, memory fascinating. Mainly because its so specific. Why only the visual sense? Do people exist with perfect recall of taste or hearing or touch or smell? Is there a show in development called "The Smentalist"? I find this very odd.

What's more, I find it odd that the wikipedia entry on Eidetic Memory is so sparse. For an ability that seems to be so amazing, the entry seems rather underwhelming, possibly to the point of never having existed.

Part of me wants the ability to exist. And part of me wants the ability to manifest itself through the other senses. How awesome would it be to recall the best burger you ever had with perfect clarity? The perfect kiss? The perfect song? The perfect fart?



Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Path to Purchase

I went to see Pacific Rim with a buddy of mine on Sunday who reminded me that XBox Live is letting folks download games for free. So I dusted off the old game console and went online (360 online), but was unimpressed with the offering. However, when I was on the dashboard, I noticed the Vimeo app and wondered if our 48 Hour Film fest was available. It was! This reminded me that I hadn't seen a few of the finalists, so I went online (computer online) to find them, which led me to one of my favorites: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cabpjlwizUc -->


I liked the music and noticed it was from a band. Turns out they are local. And they let me name my price (Hello $5, pleased to meet you). And they promote literacy, presumably. http://www.arthurandthelibrarian.com/the_sounds/

The End. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Koch-sucker.


Say what now?

Let's just set aside the issue of wages across the world because that's a whole mess of messiness. 


Instead, let's look at a different kind of math. The one that looks at the top 11 richest Americans (among the top 20 in the world). 

Bill Gates is worth 67 billion dollars by himself. One billion could make 1,000 millionaires. If you divested his wealth, you could make 67,000 individual people millionaires. If those people were able to get a 5% annual return, from the interest alone, they would have an annual income of $50,000—slightly higher than the average income today (and higher than the $34,000 number in the video). The difference is that they wouldn’t have to spend all of their days working to get that income. They would be free to pursue other interests, like volunteering or tutoring or just sipping mimosas and shopping all day.

Let's add up the list:
2. Bill Gates: $67 billion
4. Warren Buffett: $53.5 billion
5. Larry Ellison: $43 billion
6./7. Charles & David Koch $34 billion (each)
11. Christy Walton $28.2 billion
13. Bloomberg $27 billion
14. Jim Walton: $26.7 billion
15. Sheldon Adelson: $26.5 billion
16. Alice Walton: $26.3 billion
17. Robson Walton: $26.1 billion
19. Jeff Bezos: $25.2 billion
20. Larry Page: $23 billion

Grand total: 406.5 billion.

That’s the equivalent of 406,500 millionaires--even more than the entire population of Anchorage, AK* (392,535). Between 11 people! Put another way: who wouldn’t want to live in Alaska?



Tuesday, July 9, 2013

New gig. Same level of respect.

Someone's a fan.

Words. Words. Everywhere words.
And some surprises.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

General Zod is a lousy tactician.


Spoilers ahead.

I recently watched Man of Steel. It's exactly the movie you'd expect: larger than life, artfully shot and kind of lacking in character development. Oh, and the soundtrack is FANTASTIC.

Like the recent movie, Star Trek Into Darkness, there were some interesting themes that could have elevated the movie from good to great. But studios seem to be afraid of exploring bigger ideas. For instance, one of the themes in Man of Steel is a legitimate fear of an all-powerful being. After the final battle, that surely yielded ten of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of casualties, that concern seems valid. The film, however, never addresses the consequences. It never shows us the people who died in the epic battle. Sure Superman saves the planet, but at what cost? Can you protect humanity without losing your own? What happens when the people you save hate you for it?

These are heady questions for another time. Perhaps in the sequel.

Instead, let’s talk about General Zod. Zod is a lousy tactician. Embarrassingly bad. I suspect the character must have originally been called General Zed and that there were 25 generals before him—General A, General B, etc. Because Zod most certainly graduated last in his class. Again SPOILERS.

1. He has superior alien technology and weapons, but doesn't use them effectively. Once on Krypton and even on his own ship, blasters are used to take down Kryptonians, but Zod never once thinks to use them on Superman. Wha??? He even has a pointy stick he uses effectively early on and yet he never brings that little number out to use on the Man of Steel. WHA???

2. He has a numbers advantage, yet doesn’t press it. There seemed to be about a dozen Kryptonians featured on the Phantom Zone ship. There’s only one Superman. That’s a dozen to one. AND ZOD BLOWS IT. Does he send a dozen to take down Kal-El? Nope. He sends two (2) Kryptonians to fight hand-to-hand. That's right: Hand-to-hand.

3. He doesn't understand basic defensive strategy. Zod is a clod. He has a dozen Kryptonians to start. Sure, Superman, Lois and a hologram (don’t ask) take out another 3-5. That still leaves Zod, a creepy scientist and about six soldiers. 
Floating perimeter, yes?


If you assume that it takes one person to run a ship and there are two of them (Creepy Scientist runs one and Zod runs the other) that still leaves three soldiers to form a nice floating defensive perimeter around each machine. 
Like a helmet!

If you have an extra, you add them to the top to cover an aerial assault. 







Super swooper up the pooper.



And, yes, you still leave yourself exposed underneath because you are, after all, a super villain. Butlet's face itthe crime you’re committing shouldn’t be lousy tactical execution.






Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Romancing the Screen.

This past weekend, I participated in my first 48 Hour film competition. Tonight is the screening. That's right, people, I woke up a big shot.

It was a blast. And an utter failure--we had technical difficulties at the end that delayed us, thus putting us out of contention for the main prizes (c'mon People's Choice Award!). But it was also a blast.

Some highlights:
  1. Assembling a team of six highly talented guys.
  2. Showing up to the genre drawing and getting assigned "Romance" (see point number 1).
  3. Having our friends/arch-nemeses also draw "Romance". 
  4. Calling/begging/pleading a few women to come out and film a few scenes (well, okay, that's every weekend).
  5. Working with the idea of "Girlfriend in a Coma" to limit the amount of female camera time.
  6. Coming up with something more exciting and hilarious.
  7. Writing until the wee hours of the morning.
  8. Having the subject matter go in areas you never expected or intended.
  9. Outstanding special guest stars.
  10. Biting body parts to keep from ruining a take from laughing too hard.
  11. Texting our arch-nemeses "Today is daylight savings time, so you have an extra hour".
  12. Having that come back to bite us in the a$$. 
I'll post/link to the final once we're able.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Zookeeper Wanted


I always felt like the now defunct show, 30 Rock, worked best when the main character, Liz Lemon, was a normal person in the midst of abnormal circumstances. She was my conduit into the crazy, zany world of high-powered executives, diva superstars and country bumpkin pages, without feeling like I was any of them. No matter how insane the plots became or how implausible the storylines, I could relate to Liz and her frustrations. The show was dynamite in Seasons 1 & 2. And then Liz became weird, too. It started slowly with a few “working woman” plots and then “I can’t get a date” and then “I’m so quirky” and before you knew it, she was just as wacky as Tracey or Jenna. When it’s all animals and no zookeeper … there’s going to be a lot of poop.

Which brings me to the latest “season” of Arrested Development. Michael was the normal person in the midst of abnormal circumstances. He grounded the show and Seasons 1 & 2 were dynamite. And then, in Season 3, Michael dated a mentally handicapped person and the show was soon cancelled. But there was still some love because, if nothing else, the writing crackled on that show.

Season 4 is more art project than sitcom. It is wildly ambitious with a darkness to match. Shockingly dark. For all the talk of a movie, it sure feels like the creators wanted to salt the Earth so that nothing else would grow.

That’s not to say it’s not hilarious* or ingenious, but it’s not the same sort of dysfunction it once was. Dystopian dysfunction, perhaps?

And I blame Michael’s character journey for that. He Liz Lemon’d it. Or to put it in the show’s vernacular: He blue’d himself.

*Andy Ritcher(s)