Monday, August 31, 2009

I'm Here to Take You Back to Fort Smith and Hang You.

What a day.

Got incredibly sound sleep last night, after eschewing reading and turning in at an uncharacteristically early 1 am. Slept like a rock, not moving the entire night until waking up to the sound of my Sweet Maggie coming downstairs at about 9. Felt wonderful. Got up, dove into work, getting all of the newsletters done, not only for Piranha but for my other two clients as well, submitting invoices... intermixed in there was stuff related to the rug shop website, as well as watching a pair of WW2-related documentaries... standing in sharp contrast to the raft of stand-up comedian routines I've watched over the past couple days.

The first was called On Common Ground. It was a documentary (just over an hour) that centered around a group of US Army veterans returning to the Huertgen Forest, more than a half-century after the grueling battle that took place there... if you know anything about that battle, you know that it was the longest single battle the US Army has ever fought, in its history, lasting from mid September 1944 to mid February 1945. 30,000 casualties for the Allies and 33,000 casualties for the Germans. It was frozen hell on earth, and in incredibly dense forest, under near constant artillery fire. If you've seen Band of Brothers, the episode(s) that deal(s) with that battle are, I'm sure, in mind now.

What made it more interesting was that concurrently, the doc deals with a group of German veterans of the same battle. Of course, the US veterans arrange to make a trip out to Germany, not only to revisit the Huertgen forest battlegrounds, but to meet the group of German veterans. Sounds great on paper - the execution of the reunion was more than a little awkward. There were plenty of cordial faces and warm handshakes, but there was a strong undercurrent of uneasiness that made the last third of the doc a little hard to watch. Still, to look into the faces of these old grizzled vets and hear them tell their stories, with that distant but unwavering gaze in their eyes... gives me chills every time.

The other documentary was called Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary. This was absolutely riveting to me... it was about as 'no frills' a production I had ever seen. Apparently, this young German lady named Traudl Junge, through a series of serendipitious events, became Hitler's secretary in 1942, and remained so until the end of the war. The documentary consists simply of Frau Junge sitting, telling her story to an interviewer. It's basically the raw video footage of the series of interviews that a pair of authors recorded for the purpose of writing a book about her. Like most people that went through the war, Frau Junge basically kept silent about her story for decades. She said the burden to tell the story has weighed on her heavily over the recent past, so she agreed to give the interviews so that the book could be written.

Needless to say, they also cut these video interviews into this rough documentary, because it is so amazingly fascinating. She recounts all that she could about the events of her childhood, how she ended up in Hitler's service, the way he was in private, daily life, tons of little anecdotes that she tells with a mixture of horror and amazement - that she could have so admired a man that was doing incredibly horrible things that she had no clue about. She took dictation, basically, and lived in the bunkers, traveling with Hitler and his circle. She was at the mountain compound when the Valkyre assassination attempt took place, talking to Hitler in the immediate aftermath, describing his exulted mood of triumph and confirmation, feeling that God had spared him and confirmed his mission, which he would now pursue until the end. She was there in Berlin, when things dissolved, taking his last will and testament. She tried to entertain the Goebbel's children in the lead-up to their death by their mother's hand (unknown to her, of course). She described when Hitler gave his last farewells and killed himself. She described in detail her friendship and interactions with Eva Braun. But mostly she recounts the way that the bunker was so isolated and psychologically numbing - they really had no clue what was going on in the world. She said they all felt trapped. And when Hitler finally killed himself, she said they were all like limp puppets, missing their puppet masters...

I know not everyone digs this kind of stuff - I really am trying to be brief here. But I find it ridiculously fascinating... and all it was was a woman sitting there for 90 minutes, talking in German, with subtitles, watching her face as she wrestled with this giant thing inside her that has been eating at her since the war. You could see the pain and guilt and confusion and self-doubt, as she pondered (for the zillionth time) how she could have been so close, and yet have no clue what was really happening. Should she have known what he really was? Should she have tried to do something about it, being so incredibly close to him? Could she have?

She ended up dying in the hospital the night that this movie was to premiere. I guess she finally was at rest, having told her story. Anyway, no news to you all... WW2 is endlessly fascinating to me.

In the mail today, I received two more of the books I ordered. That means all 4 of the used fantasy books I ordered are here, as well as a copy of Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson that Joseph passed onto Rebekeh, to pass on to me at Church yesterday. At the moment, I'm still reading The Talisman by Stephen King, which is barely holding me. Honestly, it isn't really very well written... and with all of these awesome new books (and several of the older ones I still have yet to read) all calling my name, I may ditch the Talisman and turn to something else.

Joe Abercrombie announced his next project on his blog the other day - a new book called The Heroes (working title). Here's a snippet from his synopsis:
It's called The Heroes, both because the action centres around a ring of standing stones called the Heroes, and because it's about heroism and all that (meant semi-ironically, of course). It mostly takes place over the course of three days, and is the story of a single battle for control of the North. Think The Lord of the Rings meets A Bridge Too Far, with a sprinkling of Band of Brothers and Generation Kill.
You can dart over to his blog if you want to read more about it. He says it will feature some characters and settings in common with his First Law series, and that he's aiming for a Feb 2011 release window. Being that it's about a battle, perhaps there will be less of what I found to be rather illogical/unpalatable in Best Served Cold.

I know all this is boring to most of you. Good thing the Movie Quote Contest starts up again tomorrow, eh? MUAHAHAHA!!!!

I do have a cool video for you tonight. Some of you might have seen it already over on Today's Big Thing. I had seen it before, a few months ago, but forgot about it. Don't know how I could have forgotten about it - it's pretty memorable and amazing. Check this out...

Can you imagine having the nad to do that? You know one day you'll read about that guy being messily killed by those lions. Kind of reminds me of that Grizzly Bear guy that pulled that crap with the bears up in Alaska, and paid for it big time... You'd think the Siegfried and Roy debacle would show this guy to tread carefully.

Maybe I should email him this pic, eh?

Cat fight!

I guess I should apologize for yesterday's dog pic. I thought it was funny, in a goofy, kind of manic way... at least, that's how I saw it. Several people have commented on it, and now I can see more of a panic and desperation in the dog's face than the big, goofy grin I saw at first. My apologies to those that were weirded out.

Anyway, sorry for the mellow post tonight. Hey, sometimes I'm mellow, what can I say. Gonna go see if it's my turn in any of my Facebook Scrabble games, then go read and hit the hay. Until tomorrow, remember, this blank stare speaks only of a half-bored interest in food.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Apparently, There's Some Sort of High-Toned and Fancy To-Do Up at the Fort, Eh?

Man, am I spent. The week is done.

You know how you go to a picnic, and there's a ton of people there, and you're sort of uncomfortable because you don't really dig big crowds, but you said yes to the friend that invited you months ago, so you have to attend... you're making the best of it, and sneaking peeks at your watch every few minutes, trying to pull a Joshua and make the sun move forward a few hours... anyway, your cup is empty, and you feel awkward holding an empty cup, so you want to fill it up again with some of that fine Gatorade they have in that big cooler over there... yep, that big trash can-sized one sitting on the picnic table over there with the dripping spigot on it, and the bucket on the ground, catching the drips, since God forbid some Gatorade soaks into the dirt. Anyway, you go to get some, and of course only a trickle comes out... Gatorade must be popular with the classy picnic crowd today. So you have to try and tip the giant cooler forward, push the button and hold the cup all at the same time (since no one offers to help), hoping to get the remaining liquid into your cup...

That's the way I feel... down to the last drops.

Man, that was a long way to go to say something so simple.... sheesh...

A double-portion of church today... the first portion didn't take, so I needed another hit. I roll up on Pastor, standin' out in front of the church, and he go "Yo, D, you back for more? Dog, too much C ain't good for ya, dog, you gots to go slow." And I says, "Yo, P-shizzle, I can't helps it! I has to get me some Church, man. You gotta let me in, man, you gotta open the door!" And he says, "Alright, yo, but don't say I didn't warn your sorry butt... too much Holy Ghos' and you could OD..." "Gotta take my chances, P. Gotta roll those dice..."

OK, that's not how it happened. In fact, that was pretty embarrassing... I can't believe I wrote that. I'd go back and delete it if I didn't need the text as filler tonight. Remember how spent I said I was? I can't end the week with an anemic post. I shall defer to your mercy on that one...

I guess it's time to drop a little Star Wars in here, for blog dweller Logan at least... though there are other sci-fi nerds in here as well... I hate to do this to you, Logan, but I read an article recently called "John Scalzi's Guide to the Most Epic FAILs in Star Wars Design." It's a riot. He covers the ten worst design choices in the Star Wars Universe, including:

  • R2-D2: Sure he's cute, but the flaws in his design are obvious the first time he approaches anything but the shallowest of stairs. Also: He has jets, a periscope, a taser and oil canisters to make enforcer droids fall about in slapstick fashion -- and no voice synthesizer. Imagine that design conversation: "Yes, we can afford slapstick oil and tazers, but we'll never get a 30 cent voice chip past accounting... that's just madness!"
  • Lightsabers: Yes, I know, I want one too. But I tell you what: I want one with a hand guard. Otherwise, every lightsaber battle would consist of sabers clashing and then their owners sliding as quickly as possible down the shaft to lop off their opponent's fingers. You say: "Lightsabers can slice through anything but another lightsaber, so what would you make the handguard out of?" I say: "Dude, if you have the technology to make a lightsaber, you have the technology to make a light-handguard!"
  • and Stormtrooper Uniforms: They stand out like a sore thumb in every environment but snow, the helmets restrict view ("I can't see a thing in this helmet!" -- Luke Skywalker), and the armor is penetrable by single shots from blasters. Add it all up and you have to wonder why stormtroopers don't just walk around naked, save for blinders and flip-flops.

HERE is the article, if you want to read all 10, plus some of the very amusing comments left by others. Don't get too smug, Star Trek fans... he has an article about that universe also...

Funny Picture Time:

Happy? Frightened? Angry? Getting goosed? I can't tell... it's funny, though...

And just to take the edge off of your nervous hunger (you'll thank me later), I give you Today's Gutbuster from This Is Why You're Fat... Behold!

The Krispy Kreme Jelly Donut Chicken Sandwich: a fried chicken breast in a jelly-filled Krispy Kreme donut with cheese and honey. They need to come up with a real name for that one. Then again, perhaps they only give real names to dishes that have a possibility - even a slight one - of actually being ordered/eaten.

You're welcome. See? You were a little hungry before you saw that pic, weren't you... now you're not! Any thing to help; that's my motto...

Good news! Dave O has begun his countdown to homecoming! His year overseas is almost complete! 2 months to go! Then he can come home and begin his training to hopefully become a fireman. One shade of hero to another. I have no doubt he'll succeed. Dave O is the Man. In fact, here's a couple gratuitous Dave O pics, for all of his fans out there...

Mess with the bull, get the horns...

Dave O and Hummer... Dave's the one on the right...

Well, I think that's it for me tonight. Getting my Sunday headache a bit late. Gonna go pound an ibuprofen and go read. Almost done with the Piranha October newsletters, but I don't think I can focus anymore.

Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

A little Hamlet for ya there.

Until tomorrow, remember, there are a lot of long words in there, Miss; we're naught but humble pirates. What is it that you want?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Are Either of You Paleontologists? I'm In Desperate Need of a Paleontologist.

And now... a moment of silence... in remembrance of Dave's first Facebook Scrabble loss.

[insert silence here]

Thank you all for respecting the gravity of the moment...

Greetings! It is I, Dave the Odd, back for another round of nonsense and literary mayhem. Yesterday's post was a little out there, thank you for your patience and understanding as I experiment. Just trying to keep it fresh. And weird.

I lost to Cathy O. at Facebook Scrabble today. No excuses; she outplayed me on almost every hand. Props to Cathy. My "undefeated streak" has now been downgraded to merely a "winning streak" of 19 games, which is not bad. Ahh... I can feel my character being built up as we speak! It feels kinda tingly, actually. Though that might be the energy drink talking...

In other game-related news, I downloaded a bunch of indie game demos off of Steam to fart around with. There are a couple little gems... I'm contemplating pulling the trigger and paying for the full game on a few, since they're pretty dirt cheap. Which is good, because at the moment, my bank account is pretty meager... let's just say if I were to sit inside my bank account with a boom box, I'd get a pretty nice "auditorium" sound in there...

Anyway, I played demos of the following indie games.


And Yet It Moves:

Very cool game, awesome ambient sound effects and music. Looks awesome at highest res on my big monitor. Cool game dynamics, which you can see from the video. A tap of the direction key will rotate and reorient the entire game world - wall becomes floor, that sort of thing. Very fun. The graphics make it seem like the game world is made out of torn pieces of paper.



I've always been a sucker for sliding tile puzzles, as well as the "pipeline" type games that have you lay out sections of pipe to complete a circuit before time runs out, that sort of thing. Well, Cogs combines both of those types of games into one beautiful, frustratingly fun game. The demo features a more refined game than the version on display in that video above, but that gives you the basic idea.



I've never been much for side scrollers (or "platformers" if you prefer), but this one is terrific. In all my years, I've never played a game like this, that allows you to switch so easily between three completely different types of characters. It is a boatload of fun, the controls are intuitive and rock-solid, and it really is an exceptionally beautiful game.


World of Goo:

This game has been out for several months now, and I've been tempted to buy it based on review alone. But I decided a demo play-through was in order, so I gave it a go (or rather, gave it a goo). I'm glad I did. The art in this game is every bit as bizarre and wonderful as I'd read, and the music completes the experience. You use little balls of living goo to gain access to a hard-to-reach pipe, saving as many as you can, a la Lemmings. And like Lemmings, each different color goo ball has different characteristics. Anyway, fun fun fun.


If you have Steam installed on your computer, I recommend grabbing these demos. You can get the demos other ways, but Steam is the most convenient. The demos are all free, they don't require much space, or much of a time commitment - you can play around for a few minutes, then duck out easily if you'd like. They all look and sound beautiful, you don't need a killer rig to run them, and they are easy both to understand and to play.

I tried a couple others, but they aren't worth spotlighting here.

Man, it's all about games today, isn't it!

I ordered two more games (lol) from Amazon today, effectively killing off the remaining balance of birthday money sitting in my account over there. I ordered Borderlands (as I threatened to a few days ago), and I also ordered Scribblenauts for the DS. In fact, here, check out this video of Scribblenauts...

An open-ended, puzzle-based game. As you can see from the video, the possibilities are near limitless. Write any object, it will appear in the game, and you can use it. Can't wait to get my grubby little paws on this one. I'll have to wait, of course - for both. Scribblenauts doesn't come out until mid September, and Borderlands will release late October. Good thing I've got a zillion other games to occupy myself with...

Of course, it's not all fun and games. I'm working on the October Piranha newsletter files today, as well as some more stuff for both Rug Care Central and Wagnervana. Plus more skateboard graphic wallpapers are under construction as well.

In any case, I guess that's that for tonight. Kind of all over the place this week. Like my brain, I suppose...

Until tomorrow, remember, "defcon" indicates our current defense condition. It should read "Defcon 5", which means "peace." It's still on 4 because of that little stunt you pulled.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Just Look at the Face: It's Vacant, with a Hint of Sadness

OK, as you all know, I usually start out with a spoonerism or a "sound alike"... as of tonight, I've exhausted all my best ones, and all my second-best ones... and almost all of the bad ones too. All that's left in my bag at the moment is one really, really lame one. This is what I've been reduced to. I officially have no pride left after this one. You have been warned...


"No ifs, ands, or buts" or "No whiffs and sore butts", you decide...


We interrupt this blog post for a special news bulletin. There has been a riot reported over at My Little Corner of the World. Initial details are sketchy, but it appears that Dave started off tonight's post with a "sound alike" that infuriated his normally placid and refined audience. Dave had just settled in to begin, apparently he offered a warning that most did not take seriously enough, and then he let it fly. Almost immediately, the rotten fruit also began to fly, and Dave, after initially bravely facing the barrage, ducked off stage. But at that point, the damage had been done, and his readers were out for blood.

Let's go to our on-the-spot reporter for a live update. Tim?

Jill, as you can see behind me, the smoke is already billowing into the air from the theater where Dave was holding his blog performance tonight. I've yet to speak to anyone actually at the performance tonight - in fact, this is as close as I've been able to get to the site of the riot thus far... not because of the police presence, but because I am not wearing any pants. I rushed over here before I had fully dressed. In any case, some people that I have spoken to suggested it was for the best that the theater burn down in a riot, but it was later discovered that the people saying that were simply jealous that they had not been able to obtain tickets to tonight's sold out performance. Back to you, Jill....

Thank you, Tom. I have word that our own Pete Repeat is standing by across the street from the theater, where a crowd has assembled on some hastily-built bleachers, and concession sales are brisk. Pete?

Thank you, Jill. The atmosphere here across the street can be described as a smoldering, tense excitement. We are upwind of the blaze, so the view is unobscured. The crowd of regular readers in attendance tonight had all exited the building earlier, as the blaze broke out, and then formed a perimeter around the block, hoping to catch Dave as he escaped the premises, with threats of wedgies, swirlies, Dutch rubs and charlie horses being thrown with rapid-fire ferocity. One regular reader, a young man who would not give his name, but wore a golf shirt with "Dr. Hook" embroidered on it, said the following. Quote, "I have known Dave my whole life, and never has he sunk this low. It was embarrassing and pathetic, and he deserves every Buttercup he receives today." When I pressed Dr. Hook to repeat the opening "sound alike", he merely shook his head, eyes wide with horror, and slowly walked away. We interviewed another man, named Marky, but his Scottish accent was so thick, we couldn't understand a word he was saying. But he didn't look happy. Jill?

So Pete, any word yet on the whereabouts of Dave?

No word yet, Jill. We do know that the theater is a total loss, that there was no loss of life, and that rumors of escape tunnels are being circulated, leading the unruly mob of angry readers to believe that perhaps Dave has escaped their dragnet.

Thank you, Pete. That's the very latest on the riot that broke out tonight at Dave's blog performance downtown. We will continue to update you all as the events develop. We now return you to tonight's blog. This is Jill St. Sphincter for Channel 2 News.


*cough* *cough*

Can you hear me? It's so dark in here, and my eyes are stinging... I have finally escaped from the theater using my escape tunnel, but it took me longer than expected, because I had just received shipment of this months' supply of beef jerky, and the boxes had been stacked on the trap-door entrance. So moving the boxes quickly was difficult, and then I had to stop and eat some. I hated to leave all of that wonderful jerky back there to burn, along with the cases of Red Bull, my beloved Scrabble dictionary, my Lego collection and my back issues of Gollywomper Illustrated. Some of those early issues are valuable...

Anyway, I'm safely ensconced in my secret bunker, but I'm still pretty jittery. I still hear shouts and low rumbling now and then... but that might just be the Hot Pockets I had for lunch talkin'. I have the ventilation system running full bore right now, just in case...

Anyway, I left most of my material for tonight's post back in the theater... I didn't take much with me... I do have this Funny Picture...

... but it doesn't seem appropriate now, what with all of the violence that has occurred tonight already... It's the only funny picture I have left, though... but I did find this video clip in my fanny pack a few moments ago, so I'll put it up here now...

Funny, sure, on any other night, maybe... but tonight, it only reminds me of the lynch mob that is out there, scouring downtown, looking for me. I am truly frightened. I didn't think the joke was that bad, actually... kinda clever, in a way, if you don't mind occasional low-brow humor... but for them all to turn on me like that... I must have hit their issues without meaning to...

Good thing most of them are Christians, or I'd really be in trouble!

I had some daily trivia, a Gutbuster of the Day, some more cool artwork, and some crazy links, but they are all ashes now. I feel so empty... so alone... I mean, the only thing that could help me now, I think, would be, like, a ton of comments... that would cheer me up for sure... better than text messages, and that's no mistake! I mean, I went way out on a limb with today's ridiculous post... it just started, and took on a life of it's own, and now here it is, ending with me locked in my bunker, wearing nothing but singed boxer briefs and a smile, with beef jerky in my teeth, in desperate need of floss... the sacrifice! The horror! The smell in here! Good grief, is this fan even on?

I'm feeling faint; I better sign off for the night. Until tomorrow, remember, though no one official is prepared to comment, religious groups are calling it Judgment Day.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nonsense! Name a Shrub After Me. Something Prickly and Hard to Eradicate.

"Hot dog" or "dot hog", which one?

"dot hog"... sounds like a new web extension. "Go to www.wagner.hog..."

Whew, it was a hot one today! Hot day, not hot dog... come on, now... focus! Work with me here.... a scorcher today... glad we went to the beach on Wednesday... if we had gone today, they would have had to use a spatula to get me off the beach and back into the car. You ever cook something in a pan, cover it, and walk away for a minute? You'll be right back, right? Then you get distracted... the phone rings, or you hear that wonderful little sound your cell phone makes when you get a text message, and you lose your mind for a moment... "Oh, someone thought of me! Someone cared enough about me to send me a little message! Who's it from? What did they say?" Man, getting a text message validates our existence, doesn't it?

Anyway, you return the text, feeling a little better about yourself... and then you smell smoke. "Oh, nuts! I was cooking something!" You race back in, whip the lid off the pan and the pan off the grill, all in one motion. A big blast of smoke comes boiling out of the pan, like a magic trick, revealing your charred and inedible food. Down the disposal it goes...

That would have been me at the beach, if I had gone today instead of yesterday. At some point, Wifey would have lifted her head, opened her eyes, turned in my direction and said, "Hon, do you smell smoke?" Then she would have freaked out. There I'd have been, burnt to a cinder, like the marshmallow of an over-zealous smores maker, with a look on my face that said "Why didn't I just stay home, like a sane person?"

All that to say, it was hot today.

But you know, the sunburn is *almost* worth it, just so I can experience the pure bliss of rubbing aloe vera on it... ahhh...

Got a few more Skateboard Graphic wallpapers to run by you. Let me know what you think.

I dropped the Mark Gonzales graphics onto a new background. Gone is the brick wall and in it's place is this... (click to see larger)

I like it much better, but I'm still not completely sold.

Here are a pair of wallpapers for the classic Rodney Mullen graphics from his freestyle board, from back in the day, before freestyle died a horrible - though logical - death. The first has a cool green abstract thing going on in the background...

In the original, the little red skateboard also had a design on it - I think it was a simple drawing of a jester - but I can't find good source art for it, so for now, it is blank. This next variation has a cool (IMHO) blue texture that I dropped in the background...

On the original board, the skeleton was on a big chess board, and there were pieces scattered around... I may pull some of the chess piece art off and add them behind him, kind of ghosted. In fact, here's the original source art I used to generate the Mullen wallpapers...

As you can see, even blown up, the art isn't all that redhot. I really needed to get in there close and literally recreate the artwork, which is fine. It's tedious work, but for some reason, I enjoy it immensely. I'm trying to find a higher-res pic of that art, preferably without the trucks on it, so I can get a better look at the art on those pieces in the foreground, since those would be the best ones to use on the wallpaper.

The problem with looking for pics on Google Images is that you only get a small fraction of the pics you're looking for by putting in variations of the name (in this case, Rodney Mullen). A lot of the best pics are named something generic, like "Image4002874" or something like that, which won't pop up when you search for Rodney Mullen. So you have to hunt around... track down one that does say Mullen, and hope that it leads, say, to a forum where people are posting pics of boards they are collecting, then start browsing around the forum, looking at other pics.

Anyway, I'm on the hunt, and I'm in no rush.

This last one is one that I think turned out really good. It's the classic Bones Brigade Tony Hawk graphis - one that I never rode growing up, but came close to buying on many occasions.

I like the purple... I can forsee that I'll make several, though, swapping colors with both the purple stripes and the red/orange square behind the hawk skull.

Once I get these in good shape, I think I'll reactivate my Deviant Art account and submit them there. They'll get much wider exposure there (I believe) and then I can drive traffic to my new site as well.

Meh, enough of that.

Todayve in History: August 28
- August 28, 1898: Pepsi Cola is born! (A round of Coke's, on me!)

- August 28, 1937: Toyota Motors is born! (A round of Honda's, on me!)

- August 28, 1963: The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom takes place, with Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. (You know you want to watch the musical version of it in the sidebar again... go on... click it!)

- August 28, 1964: The Philadelphia race riots begin. (They take their marathons very seriously in Philly)

- August 28, 1988: The Ramstein Airshow disaster occurs, killing 75 and injuring hundreds. (See video below.)

- August 28, 1991: Soviet Union officially collapses. (Reagan for President!)

- August 28, 1996: Prince Charles and Princess Diana divorce. (She finally got sick of him quoting Star Trek all the time.)

In remembrance of the Ramstein Airshow Disaster, here's a video for ya...

Yikes. As much as I like to watch things go boom, it's a bit unnerving to know that lives were snuffed out in the process... human error, eh? Sucks to be human sometimes, I guess...

I see things like that and my mind always goes to the theological macguffin of "God micromanaging all events" vs "God stepping back and allowing us to do what we will, with little interferance." I know the arguments on both sides, and both arguments can have holes poked into them. At the moment, I have no answer. That's an awful lot of people that could have avoided death if God had just nudged that one jet up a bit more... but then, why would He intercede in that event and not all others? Where does it stop, you know? Maybe He prevents ten times as many tragedies that we'll never know about. We see the ones that do happen, and it makes some of us wonder...

Does God micromanage the trajectory of every bullet and artillery shell in warfare? Or has He just set up an environment for things to play out, and He just lets the ammo fly where it may, based on physics, and then just deals with the consequences afterwords, including who lives/dies? How involved is God in the actions of every single person? Or is He cold and distant? Or is there a third (or fourth) option?

Uh oh, I'm getting too "out there", sorry. Better throw in a funny picture here to break the tension...

Love that guy's face. That's the face of a man contemplating a career change.

I think I've wasted enough of your time. Gonna pull the plug. Three more days until the Movie Quote Contest fires up again! Someone notify Bob!

Until tomorrow, remember, I invite you to this cabin as my friend. Not to criticise nor to comment on my command.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

These Guys Are About as Much Fun as a Tax Audit

Dave could hear the sound of the rescue helicopter long before he saw it. He was too exhausted to wave to it... he barely had the strength to lift his head a bit, to scan the horizon for it. If he hadn't been strapped to the big ice chest, he would have gone under long ago. Thank God for small miracles.

After a pair of eternal minutes, he saw the approaching helicopter, with Vye clearly visible through the open sides, on a bench, pointing in his direction and talking to the pilot. If he had the strength, Dave would have said something to express his joy. But he didn't. He didn't have to.

"Cool, there's Vye," said Abbie, from the raft five feet away. Joseph glanced away from his DS long enough to acknowledge the chopper's approach, then growled a bit. "Already? Dangit, I want to finish this race."

"Gee, you want me to tell him to circle a few more times?" Paula asked. Joe did not respond. Logan was napping peacefully nearby. Abbie nudged him awake.

"We're... we're saved..." Dave whispered.

He still couldn't believe they'd voted to set him adrift like that. True, he was leashed to the raft with a piece of rope, so he couldn't drift far... still, to be kicked off his own life raft... the shame of it! Two hours ago, after discovering a stash of energy drinks in the supplies, Dave had powered down four Red Bulls. The raft quickly became too small a space for the explosion of manic energy that resulted. The decision was easy: mutiny and set him adrift. He then spent the next 90 minutes swimming laps around the raft, pausing now and then to spit a mouthful of seawater on someone in the raft. When the post-caffeine crash came, he elected to be lashed to the cooler and remain adrift rather than get back on the raft with those traitors.

On the raft, Dave's cell phone rang.

"Dave, you want me to answer this for you, or let it go to voice mail?" Havah asked, holding up the phone. "I think it's your mom."

"I think it's your mom," John said, and then chuckled as if he were clever. Joe rolled his eyes and told John, "I think it's your face. Ooooh!" They briefly exchanged a flurry of shoulder punches, and then continued their DS race.

Havah ignored them and asked Dave again, but Dave didn't answer. He'd slipped into a half-conscious delirium, with a smirk on his face. In this dream-like state, he had only one thing on his mind. "I can't wait to get home and blog about this..."


"Wipeout" or "Why pout?" you decide...

Greetings y'all! We all made it past the mid-week mark; now the race to the weekend is in full swing.

Went to the beach with my family today. I was running out of opportunities to get my annual beach trip with the fam taken care of. Today was the day. It wasn't bad, really... I tried to go into it with a positive attitude.

I know what you're all thinking... "Aw, Dave, poor baby... had to go to the beach today - and in San Diego no less! How did you ever survive?"

To that I say, hey, pal, I paid my dues! Check out this sunburn!

That's hardcore, man!

Of course, that's an artists' interpretation. I couldn't post an actual picture of me without my shirt on... there are those with sensitive stomachs among us... I have to be considerate. Anyways, it doesn't matter how much sun screen I use, I always get burned.

I did have fun, though. I dug in the sand with my youngest... This is pre-burn, of course.

She's my sweetie. And here's our... uh... well, not really a sand castle, per se... more an interconnected series of nicely-squared off underground chambers...

Hey, it may not look like much, but it took quite a while to craft that! Like a series of nuclear missile silos or something...

I'd post pics of the whole family, but I don't think the Wagner Women would appreciate me putting pictures of them in their swimwear up on my blog for all the world to see... apparently, being barely covered is perfectly fine at the beach, but not online. A different sort of "public", I suppose.

The highlight of the day at the beach was watching a pair of ridiculous, giggling teens go sauntering into the water, near a couple of young studs that were throwing a football back and forth in the water. The dude lofted the ball in their direction, no doubt to have the ball splash them and make them squeal, like typical ridiculous teens. So, of course, one of the girls got bonked in the head with the football while her back was turned. I have not laughed that hard in a long, long time. I know, it's so cruel to laugh at another person getting pegged in the head by a nice, long, lofted spiral, with the ball bouncing straight up into the air on the rebound, after making that amazing "bonk" sound on impact... well, it's more of a Boing than a bonk, I guess... anyway, yes, if it had happened to me or one of my family, I would have been pissed.... still, it was exactly what I needed to see to take the edge off the afternoon. I wished I had caught it on video.

So the day was a good one, overall. Came home, got some work done, went to a mini-prayer meeting over at Stan's house (and I mean "mini"... it was just me and Stan!), and then came home, opened my new mouse, and now I'm here, writing this blog post! Wow, now THAT is an up-to-the-moment recap! And now, I am writing this sentence...

OK, here's a funny video of a live newscast in Prague, where they go to a reporter live somewhere, and he has to deal with some drunk fans. It's a hoot, but WARNING: there is one brief spot of someone throwing a middle finger in the background... the rest is gold, though...

Now that was professionalism... over here, the reporter would have been throwing fists after the first set of antlers.

Thursday will be a half-n-half day for me. Wortk at home the first half of the day, then pick Eldest Daughter up from her job, and then head into the Rug Shop the second half of the day. Hopefully, it will be a productive day. No, I didn't say "reproductive"! I said "productive"! Sheesh, get your mind out of the gutter!

Until tomorrow, remember, when you're hanging on by your fingernails, you can't go waiving your arms around.

Current Book: The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub
Current Game: Fallout 3 (with my 2 new expansion packs, woot!)
Current Movie: The Public Enemy (w/James Cagney)
Current Skateboard Graphic Wallpaper In Progress: Classic Tony Hawk

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

You're Young, You Got Your Health... What Do You Want with a Job?

The sun was relentless; Dave sighed audibly.

"Pass the sunscreen again, eh?" he asked Logan, who obliged. As he slathered on more sunscreen, Dave looked around the life raft, slowly bobbing on the calm, open sea. John and Joseph had rigged a tarpaulin to shade the sun, and they sat under it, playing Mario Cart head-to-head on their DS's, with Abbie watching. Havah sat on the edge of the raft, feet dangling in the water, making small talk with Paula, who had her big floppy straw hat on, with her knees pulled up close to her chest. Paula said something, and they both laughed.

At least they were laughing now.

It had been almost 24 hours since yesterday's blog post sank with all hands on board. Fortunately, there was no loss of life. It took a long, long time for that bloated post to sink. Dave thanked God again for his inability to write short, concise, powerful posts... if that post had been better-written, it would have sank like a stone, and people might have drowned. As it was, all of his readers were able to get into the two lifeboats, along with supplies, and plenty of time to send out distress signals.

They'd been separated from the other lifeboat sometime during the night. At first, Dave was worried, but he relaxed when he realized Vye was in charge of that boat, so the rest of the readers would likely be fine. They better be... Dave's mom was on that boat... he assured himself that they simply got divided in the confusion, but still, Dave's abandonment issues threatened to trigger.

Thankfully, Logan broke the silence and spoke.

"Hey, Dave, what do you have in that bag for us today? Anything interesting?"

Dave pulled the duffel bag over, opened it up, and began to root around in it. "Well, I have this link Vye sent me..."


Good evening all! How was your Tuesday? Rug Shop Day today. Working on some FAQs for the website, which will be text/photos on the FAQ page, and also be used as the narration for the FAQ videos we'll be blasting out to the whole web, to try and get people to go to the site.

There was an email from Vye in my inbox this morning, with a link it in that I thought I'd pass on to y'all. It's for a diner in Chandler AZ called the Heart Attack Grill... you have got to see this...

I cannot imagine eating a mess like that... pure lard? Are you kidding me? You see it dripping off the burgers in that clip? *shudder* Why would anyone do that to him/herself? You gotta give it to the guy for coming up with a unique gimmick. Dressing his staff up as nurses? Calling the customers "patients"? Giving you a wrist tag when you order, like at the ER? They wheel you out in a wheelchair if you finish a triple or quad?

Check out their website... greasy burgers and all-you-can-eat lard-cooked fries... they also sell Jolt cola and unfiltered cigarettes... and if you weigh over 350 pounds, you eat for free!


The Quadruple Bypass Burger is 8,000 calories. That's before you get to the fries... Here's another video, if you want to marvel. I can't decide if I'm thoroughly amazed or disgusted or both.

Funny Picture of the Day:

Well, we seem to have a food theme going today... That... is a big mushroom. Those other shrooms on the table are beefy as well, but that one he's holding... holy mackerel. You could use it as a beach umbrella. Well, in my push to make sure this blog continues to be educational, I give you... Fun Mushroom Facts!
  • There are an estimated 2 million species of fungi on the planet, of which only about 80,000 have been properly identified.
  • Mushrooms grow from spores (not seeds), and a single mushroom will drop as many as 16 billion spores.
  • In some ways, mushrooms are more closely related to animals than plants. They take in oxygen and "exhale" carbon dioxide, and their proteins are similar in may ways to animal proteins.
  • Ancient Egyptians believed the mushroom to be "the plant of immortality." The mushroom's distinct flavor so intrigued them that they decreed mushrooms to be food for royalty only, prohibiting commoners from even handling them.
  • France was the first country to cultivate mushrooms on a commercial basis in the late 19th century.
  • There are 2,000+ different species of mushrooms eaten throughout the world, but the most common is the white button.

There. Don't say I never taught you anything!

OK, and for the engineers among us, Today's Big Thing posted this robotics video today which I thought was crazy awesome. Your level of fascination for this video will be directly proportional to your overall Nerd Ranking. If you are not nerdy, then you'll likely not find the video very interesting, so you should pass. For the rest of us, dig this!

I got my Logitech G9 mouse in the mail today. I can't tell you how it is yet, since I don't want to open it. The package it comes in is so flippin cool, I don't want to ruin it by opening it. I am soooo tempted to take pictures of the packaging and post them here, but I do not think it would be possible to do anything more nerdy than that. In fact, there's probably an internet award out there somewhere that can be won by bloggers doing the absolute-nerdiest thing ever in their blogs... I'm not sure I want that honor. I'm pretty certain posting pics of a new mouse that is still in the box because I don't want to ruin the aesthetic would qualify me for such an award...

Anyway, I'm sure some time tonight, I'll relent and set that bad boy free... but I'll feel the same sadness one feels when they run into a field of freshly fallen snow... forever spoiled...

I still have some Amazon birthday dough sitting in my account over there, taunting me... I think I decided today that I'll use it to pre-order Borderlands for the PC. It's a co-op post-apocalyptic FPS-RPG hybrid, with vehicle combat thrown in to boot! Again, your Nerd Ranking has to be a certain level for you to understand what I'm talking about there, sorry... Maybe this video will help you understand...

Well, I think that's enough nonsense to tide you over. Until tomorrow, remember, there's right and there's right... and never the twain shall meet.


"Dangit, Dave," Joseph said, lifting his feet and holding his DS high. "Now the life raft has sprung a leak!"

Dum Dum DUUMMMMM!!!!! MUAHAHAHAH!!!!! To Be Continued... :D

Director's Cut link

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Boy Says He Can Eat Fifty Eggs, He Can Eat Fifty Eggs.

OK, so I was agonizing again today over my usual conundrum - one that is common to all of us here at this blog, I'm sure. In fact, I really need feedback from all of you to help me (hopefully) come to a final resolution on this issue.

Which US President that has the same first and last initial is my favorite.

Again, I know this is a common philosophical wrestling partner for all of us - I'm no different. I'm human too. But, the standard arguments apply. I mean, Woodrow Wilson was the only Pres with a legitimate PhD, and he oversaw the passing of the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act and the Federal Farm Loan Act, and gave women the right to vote. But he also began the federal income tax, formed the Federal Reserve and got us into World War 1. And, perhaps worst of all... he was born in New Jersey.

Calvin Coolidge was lauded for reducing the size of the federal government, he lowered taxes, he presided over the economic growth of the Roaring Twenties, and he was literally born on the fourth of July. But he was a lawyer! And we all know that all lawyers can go pack sand. Plus he vetoed the WW1 Veteran's Bonus Bill. What a butthole.

Herbert Hoover got elected President without having any previous elected office experience! And 8 months later, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. He had bad people skills, he supported prohibition, and his first name rhymes with "pervert". But he was big on national parks and children's right, and had a big ol' dam named after him. No surprise; with a name like 'Hoover,' he was bound to suck.

That leaves Ronald Reagan, who I'm sort of leaning toward. 6 Words: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" The actor that stared down the Soviet Union.

So, yeah, of all the presidents that had matching initials, I'm just sort of undecided.


All things considered, that bit was far funnier in my head than in actual execution... in fact, the only funny part (to me) was calling Calvin Coolidge a butthole... oh well, live and learn...

Funny Picture Time:

Guess I could segue into my latest rant...

Dave's Petty Pet Peeve Grab Bag: Household Edition!

1. Pots & Pans Put Away Dirty: I'm certainly not much of a chef. My culinary abilities reach as far as scrambling eggs and heating up cans of chili and/or soup. Pulling a pot or pan out of the cupboard to prepare one of those 'meals' and finding it with gunk on it still, or coated with an unidentifiable layer of something noticeably grimy... it never fails to produce the same one-word reaction. "Why?" asked with pleading eyes lifted up to heaven. And what do the Heavens reply? "So clean it again. At least you have feet." Yeah, the Heavens are unsympathetic like that...

2. The Wagner Family Motto: It can be heard in our house, dozens of times a day, from every female member of the family, including the youngest. And truth be told, it's far more amusing than annoying. "It's baaaaa-aaaack!" will routinely bounce off the walls, signaling the return from commercial of whatever show they are watching. Normally, when a commercial break begins, Wagner women scatter in every direction, to do who-knows-what. Through some process unknown to me, one of them is elected to stay in the room, and when the show returns, the call goes out for all to return. "It's baaaaa-aaack!" It's said in a sing-song, stretching the word "back" into a two-syllable word, like the little blond girl in the movie Poltergeist, announcing, "They're heee-eere."

3. Plug Impaling: My Eldest Daughter has a nice, little collection of hair-primping appliances gathered on the counter in the downstairs bathroom. Hair dryer, hair straightener, and another one I have no clue it's purpose - and I'm afraid to ask. These all have cords that snake down from the appliances and their plugs end up on the floor, out like bait in a fowlers' snare. Invariably, I will come strolling into the bathroom barefooted, to make use of the facilities, and my tender foot finds the plug every time. It's a special kind of pain, but it's a price I must pay... tender foot, tender heart.

4. Random Ants: When ants swarm, they are annoying, but easy to handle. You must stop everything, remove the item being swarmed, spray the trail with whatever liquid at hand, easily following the trail back, along floorboards and window ledges, to it's source. It's straight-forward. But a handful of wandering ants? No order, no discernible source, no object of attack... just a few wanderers, out for a stroll. You can't backtrack to the source. You just squish them with your fingertip and continue what you were doing, knowing in the back of your mind that they are scouts, and as soon as they find an empty soda can in the trash, or a napkin that fell behind the desk with some coffee cake crumbs on it, they will send out the word, and the swarm will arrive. I guess the wandering scouts are annoying because they only serve to make plain my laziness.

5. Chicken Jerky: OK, so a wonderful meal involving chicken has taken place, and to my delight, there are leftovers! Yay! So usually in the next day or two, at the appointed time, I will make my futile attempt at reheating the chicken. I detailed for you earlier the extent of my culinary abilities... with that in mind, I pop the chicken into the microwave. Fearful of overcooking it, I invariably put it in for too short a time. Hot around the edges, cold in the middle. Back in it goes. Again, hot and sizzling around the edges, nauseatingly tepid in the center. I just wanna eat! GRRR!!! So back in a third time... too long... Behold, chicken jerky! NOOOOO!!!!! I know there's a trick to reheating chicken - probably not involving a microwave at all - but I have yet to learn it. You'd think with all the trial and error, I'd have nailed it by now. Nope.

6. Missing Items: The rule is, my stapler, scissors, ruler and sharpee pens stay in my desk drawer, period. If you need one of these items, use your own, please! Or if you absolutely must, use mine but put them right back! Nothing more annoying than needing something, knowing right where it is, going to get it, and it is gone. At this moment, I'm batting .500... my scissors and sharpee are present and accounted for, the stapler and ruler, gone. Gone. Whoever I ask says that someone else used it last and they don't know where it is... a subset of this pet peeve is the perpetually missing mail key. Why not hang it on the hook by the door when you come in from checking the mail, eh? Makes sense, yes? I mean, it's right there! One quick little movement of your hand and presto! The key will be right there when we need it tomorrow! Nope.

I have others, but I think I've whined enough for now. Better save some for another day, before y'all lose what little respect you have left for me....

Started a new book last night: The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. I read it in high school, lo, these many moons ago, and bought another copy a few months back. I figure, why the heck not, yes? Yes?

Oh, that reminds me. I was at Costco on Sunday and was looking through the books. Steven Pressfield has a book out called The Afghani Campaign. It's a soldier's point of view tale from the Afghani Campaign of Alexander the Great's conquest, that I droned on and on about a couple days ago in the book review of The Virutes of War! Pressfield took my least favorite portion of The Virtues of War and turned it into a stand-alone book! O_o. I think I'll pass on that one. He's pretty enamored with the ancient Greeks and Spartans. He has many novels that fit into that general time period. I have another of his on my shelf called Tides of War, about an ancient Greek general named Alcibiades.

OK, fine, sheesh! I'll put up another cat video! Man, you guys are so demanding!

I think I shall pull the plug on tonight's post. I trust your week has begun well, and shall continue as such. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go see if Havah, Abbie or Cathy have made plays in our Facebook Scrabble games.

Until tomorrow, remember, that ditch is Boss Kean's ditch. I told him that dirt in it is your dirt. What's your dirt doin' in his ditch?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

And Don't Forget, the Penalty for Looting is Death.

Ladies and gentlemen, Sunday is over. Fear not! In approximately a dozen-dozen hours, Sunday shall return! Then we can all rejoice and do the church thing again! Unless, of course, you don't do the church thing to begin with... in which case, those of us that do will tell Jesus you said hello.

It was a great day today! I fell into the baptistery with my suit on, carrying my wallet, cell phone, iPod, laptop computer, Flip video, digital camera, my skateboard, a backpack full of cash, my wife (she was wearing her wedding dress, too), my favorite Scrabble set, my entire baseball card collection, our new big screen TV and my autographed & personalized hardback copy of Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. All of it, ruined. All of it, irreplaceable. But I'm looking at it symbolically... much like baptism, I went into the water with all of that stuff, and when I came up again, I was a new man! Well, a new man with a wet wife...

OK, I made all that up.

You: No, Dave! Really? You made all that up? Wow, I almost believed you when you told me that!

Me: Well, apparently, this morning's sermon wasn't called "The Importance of Telling the Truth in your Blog, Whether it's Boring or Not."

You: I'll never believe you again, you putz. You are no longer godfather to my son.

Me: Well, at least I can still beat you at Scrabble.

You: With that soaked set? Ha!

Double-Church duty today, as is my custom. The cameras were very glitchy today. Something is amiss in the video system at church. We had to unplug and replug the cameras a few times today, especially in the evening. That's the extent of our trouble-shooting abilities in the upper room. If unplugging/rebooting stops being effective, we may have to send for Paul and/or Anthony, aalllllll the way out in New Hampshire. Road trip!

I currently have the Black Caballero wallpaper up on my big monitor, and I have to admit, it looks absolutely killer. There is something I need to fix in the art... near the rear left leg. The stomach scales shouldn't continue like they do... I need to bring the rear leg all the way up. Here, lemme show you...

Technically, those big stomach scales are supposed to travel the length of the dragon's body along the underside only. They wouldn't curve up and around his back left leg like that. That tall red ridge of Stegosaurus-like plates is supposed to travel along the very top of its back... anyway, you get the idea. It's likely no big deal to anyone but me, but I'm sort of a perfectionist... I notice it every time I look at it, so I need to fix it. It sucks a bit since I've already moved onto the next...

Here are a couple Hosoi wallpapers I made... first, here's the actual board art I used as the source...

I had two of those when I was younger, though they really were quite heavy for a street deck. It was more sentimental, really. Hosoi was one of my faves. In fact, on one of them, I bought some different colors of grip tape and on the front, I replicated that design with the grip tape. Cutting up grip tape with a razor... now that was a chore, but I loved the results. Yet another board I have no clue where it went.

Anyway, I've made these two so far, but I'm not overly pleased with either.

The problem is, I wanted to use only elements that were in the graphics themselves. Reproducing the artwork straight across just didn't look good to me - it was way too strong for a desktop wallpaper. The red sun is sort of his trademark, so I had to try and include it. But with the red full bore, it overpowered the art. Those awful letters for his name are also jarring, especially with the red full strength. If I ditched both, the skater wasn't strong enough to stand on it's own.

So I decided to try and add a cityscape to the background, to tie the elements together better and add balance. I ghosted the red sun into the background, tinkered with the size of the letters, played with a couple different cityscapes... but neither really sings to me. I've decided to shelve them for now, and move on. Working on a classic Rodney Mullen next.

You: Dave, honestly, I believe I can speak for the rest of us when I say, "who gives a crap!"

Me: Well, I give a crap! If you don't like it, there's the door!

You: OK. [heads for the door]

Me: No, wait! I'm sorry! Please stay! What do you want? A funny cat video? How about an epic Maru video!

There, that helped, right? My three-year-old loves that clip too. Wait! No, I wasn't comparing you to a three year old! Wait! Don't go! Hold on! Here, lemme try daily trivia...

Todayve in History: August 24
- August 24, 79BC: Mt Vesuvius erupts, burying Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae in volcanic ash, after cooking the remaining residents to cinders with pyroclastic flows. (What a way to go...)

- August 24, 1456: The printing of the first Gutenberg Bible is completed. (Yeah, but they didn't do Jesus' words in red. FAIL.)

- August 24, 1814: British troops invade Washington DC and burn down several buildings, including the White House. (Good thing no one was home at the time... President Madison was vacationing at Camp David...)

- August 24, 1875: Captain Matthew Webb becomes the first person to swim the English Channel. (his rudder froze; he had no choice...)

- August 24, 1891: Thomas Edison patents the motion picture camera. (So, ultimately, Edison is to blame for Bridezilla, COPS and Carrot Top's career...)

- August 24, 1949: NATO is born! (OK, who would win in a fist fight: the UN or NATO..?)

Among those celebrating birthdays today are: Orson Scott Card (1951), Mike Huckabee (1955), Cal Ripken Jr. (1960), and Dave Chappelle (1973). I'd play that famous 1991 All Star home run that Cal Ripken Jr hit for you, but of course Major League Baseball is notoriously tight-fisted with their footage, and scour the net for footage that they didn't give permission to post. Funny that one can find just about any scene from any movie on YouTube without problem... but baseball footy? Heck, no...

Me: Whew, I'm glad I got you to stay for the whole thread...

You: It's only because I can't find my car keys...

Me: Hmm? Oh, you mean these? [pulls keys from his pocket, and jangles them]

You: You little---


Until tomorrow, remember, a Sherman can give you a very nice edge...

Link to DIRECTOR's CUT of today's post...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Do You Think You Could Beat Up Bruce Lee?

Hello, and welcome to another edition of Dave the Rambling Smacktard and His Virtual Fun House. Glad a couple of you enjoyed my movie review in yesterday's post... I know usually, when I do a stand-alone, single-topic post like that, I'll immediately follow it up with a traditional grab-bag post, but I was pretty spent yesterday after writing the review, so I failed. I hope you all don't mind... those dedicated few that still read here, I mean!

Mellow Saturday today, filled with bits and pieces of entertainment and general slack-offery. I finished The Virtues of War last night. Oh, heck, I might as well drop a mini-review in here...

The Virtues of War, by Steven Pressfield: A Review
Overview: A novel about Alexander the Great and his conquests across Asia Minor, the Holy Land, Egypt, the Persian Empire and India. It is told in first person, as Alexander tells his story to an Afghani scribe right before the final crossing of the Indus river to face an Indian king (Porus) whom he held in the highest of esteem. The tale covers the life of Alexander, really, from his upbringing under his father Philip, King of Macedonia, to his death at the age of 32.

The book starts off a bit slow, and for me required a push to continue. But once it hit the description of the first big battle (Philip's last major battle and the first that the young Lion Alexander led troops in.), I was hooked. There was something about the way Alexander relayed the details of the battle ahead of time, describing exactly what and whom each side was bringing to the battle field, and then how he developed the strategy for defeating the foe, usually in the face of staggerily unbalanced numbers (in the enemy's favor), and then reading how the battles played out to victory for Alexander... truly great reading. So the middle of the book was a joy for me to read.

However, the book once again dragged to a slog with the final quarter of the book, once Alexander and his army had conquered - and settled into - Babylon. The Persian King Darius was the sole reason the troops fought. Once they had seen to the toppling of the Persian Empire, and the centuries-old revenge that provided for the Greeks and Macedonians, the army wanted to take their plunder and go home. But Alexander had far loftier goals that remained undone. He wanted to reach the ocean at the end of the world, past India, far beyond where any Greek King had been before... a goal that was ultimately too ambitious, even for Alexander. The dramatic change in terrain and opponents proved too much for his troops, and they ultimately convinced Alexander to abandon his ambitions and let them return home to enjoy the rest of their lives with their families, many having been away from home for almost a decade.

The book slogs at the end because the warfare shifts into guerrilla fighting in Afghanistan, and sitting in soggy encampments on one side of the Indus River, waiting for the opportunity to cross the mile-wide river to continue the fight in India. Gone were the marvelous recountings of the clashing armies on grand battlefields, and instead come tales of small bands hunting other small bands, tracking through mountains, burning villages, trying to flush out rebels. Yawn. Couldn't be helped, really. It's not like Pressfield could rewrite history... he skillfully crafted a well-written first-person account of the conquests of one of the world's greatest kings...

Ultimately, I'm glad I read it. It was not a very long book, had some terrific dialog, with a wonderfully rich vocabulary (though I still don't know what 'perfidy' means...), and will now take a place of honor on my Shelf of Books I'm Glad I Have Read (rather than getting squirreled away on a bottom shelf somewhere). Not nearly as good as his Gates of Fire, but neither is anything else I have read.


There. Not quite as brief as I'd hoped it would be, but it'll do.

Watched a couple things on Netflix Watch Instantly today, including Unbreakable, and a documentary about legendary Vanity Fair writer Dominick Dunne. Both were above average, but nothing worthy of anything beyond a quick mention. I also started to watch a couple other things, but lost interest.

Took Middle Daughter down to Hillcrest today to get her portrait taken. Now that her grades are stellar, we can finally see about getting her some background work in TV and film, etc. We signed her up for The Hollywood Group a couple years back, but it didn't pan out at the time. Trying to regroup and see if we can at least get her a few jobs to see if it's something she really wants to do. It will require driving up to LA regularly, but I'm willing as long as she is into it. Even if all she gets out of it are some fun childhood memories, it will have been worth the time and money for me... besides, if she does become famous, I can live vicariously through her, and pretend that I am likewise important.

Funny Picture Time:

"License and registration please, ma'am."

I saw this video the other day, and smiled. That's because it isn't a "funny" video, but rather a "feel good" video, meant to inspire and create warm feelings inside the bosom of those that watch it. That having been said, I now give you the "Feel Good Video of the Day."

Yep, da kid catches two foul balls, within minutes of each other. Pretty cool, eh? Eh? Ah, makes me wish I had a son. Take him to games, teach him to catch foul balls, punish him for punching his sister... ah, that would be cool...

I finished the latest Skateboard Graphics Wallpaper today as well. Remember that Caballero dragon board pic I posted the other day? Well, I turned it into these... click to see larger.

I couldn't decide on a white or black background, so I made both. I think I did ok on the tail. Remember, in the original, the tail continued to curl beneath the dragon. I reconfigured it (no small feat, actually) so that it coiled out to the side like that. Anyway, I'm pretty happy with the results. Next stop, Christian Hosoi!

Well, double-duty church tomorrow. Should be pretty straight-forward... although perhaps I shouldn't assume it will be like every other Sunday, eh? Maybe if I expect greater, it will be greater! We have not because we ask not, right? Well, here's praying tomorrow will be awesome!

Not sure what else I have to add here. Thank you for your support, those of you that are reading this. And to those of you who are elsewhere, actively engaged in real life, you have my envy and my appreciation as well. Until tomorrow, remember, real life doesn't fit into little boxes that were drawn for it.