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.


Krista said...

If you were serious, Perfidy means treachery. Sorry, you're the joke man so I can never tell. LOL! Cool review.

I hope your little one makes it to the big times. That sounds like she'll have a blast!

Love the Horse Picture, too funny! Also, that kid had a cheese eating grin on his face, really cool.

Awesome Graphics, for real! I think I like the Black one best, but the white one looks good to. That's a toughie. They're both really good!

All the Best!

Paula Titus said...

Looks like that could be Chicago in your top photo? (Just got back from there and had a stellar time).

Loved the Horse photo and the video :) You're doing an awesome job in the book review department and the graphics are outstanding! I think I like the white background better, but Krista is correct - both are great. Daughter is toying with the idea of becoming a graphic artist, I imagine there's plenty of work in that field. Her chances of doing background work in film and TV are slim - given we live in Boringsville.

Anonymous said... your reviews...don't go to the movies but I do buy them with the thought of watching later..same with books as I hope to have time in the coming years to sit down long enough to watch/read an entire story.[if the eyes and bladder hold up]..made some progress on web stuff this week...see you Mon...K15

Abbie said...

haha, awww, what an awesome day for that kid :) You did a great job on your dragon! I like it :) see you in a few hrs....

David Wagner said...

Glad you guys liked the Cabby art.

Paula: Yup, that's Chicago. And my advice to your daughter, if she's self-motivated at all, would be to get a copy of the software she wants to learn, and access the jillions of free tutorials you can find online. Tons of great stuff available... kind of makes going to school moot, as far as the Graphic Arts is concerned. Even a slacker like me has learned a ton on my own. Even the tutorials that come with the software are usually worth their weight in gold. I did go to a tech college for a year back in 1989, but none of what I learned, as far as desktop pub, etc., was useful in the long run. Might as well save the tuition...

Mom: Making progress on the web stuff as well. We'll have to have a business meeting soon...

havah said...

Kinda tired and run down here, so just a short short comment.

Good review, funny moose pic, cute baseball kid, great graphics (I think the best colour's going to depend on usage). Hope your Sunday was awesome.

Krista said...

Hey, Dave,

Hope you don't mind, but I know you’re a fan of The Name of the Wind as well as art, so I thought you might like to see this:

Kim Kincaid is awesome, eh? I really loved her interpretation of Bast and Kvothe! I love her blog, she’s super awesome!

David Wagner said...

Dang, you weren't kidding! Great artist. Thanks for the link.

Sunday was a good one, thanks Havah.