Friday, December 31, 2010

Adios 2010... You Kinda Sucked

Surprise, y'all! I felt the need to drop a New Year's Eve retrospective bomb into the deserted ether in here. Not sure if it "means" anything (like I'll be blogging again) or if it's just an isolated case of angst-induced overload triggering a burst of creativity...

In any case, here's my end of the year thoughts on random stuff, for the one or two of you that might have stumbled in here for some odd reason...

When last we left our humble blogger, he had hung up his blog, like an old retired football jersey, and walked off into the sunset. What has happened twixt then and now? Well, the holiday season was the usual tense roller-coaster ride, with the annual Christmas Play. Of course, if I knew better how to delegate, perhaps the tension would be less! As it is, I fleshed out the basic concept, wrote the script, cast it, produced it, directed it, arranged lighting, recorded and edited dialog, acted in it and designed/printed the program. Whew! About all I didn't have my little grubbies in was the costuming and the dance/worship choreography. So, in a way, I can't complain about the craziness of it all, since I could have delegated things elsewhere, and not worried about results. What can I say -- I'm a perfectionist.

The play went off well, and was well received.

And in the middle of it all, we had our 20th wedding anniversary. The world should have stopped. It didn't. I wanted it to be as big a deal to everyone else as it was to me. It wasn't. It was the quintessential non-event, including to my wifey. To say I was bummed is an understatement.

I sit here in my office, in front of my computer (my best friend?), alone, on New Year's Eve. Plenty of time to muse on things. And actually, a fitting end to this year. I guess I should segue into my "best of" stuff from the year. I read a few books (far fewer than last year), so my "best book of the year" won't mean much. I think I started (and left unfinished) more books than I actually completed this year. But that just means I have a shelf-full of books waiting for me, when the reading bug hits again.

Several of the books I'd read were quite good, but nothing earth-moving. I liked Warbreaker (Brandon Sanderson) quite a bit, as well as Legend (Gemmel) and The Red Wolfe Conspiracy (Reddick). The Folding Knife by KJ Parker was a nice read - I really like that author's writing style. And the best Nonfiction book I read was also the only non-fiction book I read, which was Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. Beyond that, as I said, I started a bunch of books and then left them hanging. Currently hanging out in the wind are Elantris (Sanderson) and Devices and Desires (Parker). Funny thing is, I really enjoy both of them. I'm just kind of non-committal.

Speaking of shelves full of unread books, I've also been snapping up games that I likely won't ever play as well.

Steam has been having crazy holiday sales, and I've been buying games all over the place. Mostly indy game bundles and other sub-$5 specials. I have 61 games in my Steam library alone - that's not counting the games in boxes that line my Game Shelf. Of those in my Steam library, only 24 are even installed, and of those 24 games, 17 of them I have either played only once, or not at all yet. I must have almost 100 games in my collection, in total (Steam + shelves), and really, any actual play time is spent with only a few games.

Fallout: New Vegas was a terrific game - probably Game of the Year for me. Wandering the wastelands killing things and finding goodies is always tons o' fun. I have also spent many accumulated hours killing zombies in Left 4 Dead 2. Those two games comprise the lion's share of play time for me this year.

By the way, our semi-annual LAN party is happening New Year's Day. Gonna have a half-dozen or so people here to play the day away. No more "all nighters" for me, thanks. I'm too old...

Music? Well, other than the new Eminem album, I haven't listened to much now along the lines of music. I fell woefully short this year in keeping up with the latest tunes. I guess I'm losing my sense of adventure.

I went into the year at once dreading and anticipating it. I was to turn 40, and to have my 20th anniversary - by all rights two very huge, important milestones. I had hoped it would be a seminal year for me, a turning point. But all things considered, keeping in mind that I have tons to be thankful for, the year sucked. Cascading disappointments (at home, at work, at church, in my gut) had their way with me this year. Again, lots to be grateful for, and I am. Still, it's like sitting in a stinky room, and trying to console yourself saying, "Well, at least it's warm in here! You could be out in the freezing snow."

What else?

Other than my blog dying and my fantasy novel languishing, unloved, I'm not sure what else I can say. Still plenty of work, the rug shop is doing great. Though I'm still on the truck, which isn't my first choice. Plenty of freelance graphics work as well. Best news of the year was probably when we heard Logan was going to be a dad (Congrats Logan, wherever you are). Runner up for Best News was the announcement of the next Elder Scrolls game, to come out 11/11/11. Between that game and Diablo 3, next Fall should be fun indeed.

So, here's to a new year! I hope you all are safe and have a great transition to 2011, wherever you are.

For old time's sake, here's a Jack Vale video...

And here's a couple funny pics.

For some reason, I found this endlessly amusing...

Bill Murray for President!


So that's that. Thanks for reading my end-of-the-year wind. Is this post an anomaly, or will I start posting again in 2011? Who knows. We shall see...

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Curse of the Glass Wall

Well, I believe it has finally happened...

Blogging has slipped silently behind the glass wall. I knew it would eventually, and I'll be darned if it didn't do just that!

I've gone on at length in this blog before about how I tend get into something, as far as a hobby, interest or other activity, and I go all out with it, letting it absorb me, and then very suddenly, it simply ceases to be a viable activity anymore. I can't tell you how many things this has happened with. It's depressing, really - mostly because I don't really understand why it happens or how to stop it. The best analogy I can come up with is that it slips behind a glass wall, like in a trophy case or something. I can see the thing, but I can't grab it anymore. It has been memorialized.

Skateboarding, script-writing, acting, playing my guitar, writing music, cartooning, animating, watching wrestling, working on my first novel, playing certain games (PC/video), listening to certain types of music, having in-depth theological discussions, bible reading/memorizing, painting, playing golf, working on my Wagnervana website... all of them used to to fully absorb me, often for years on end, and all of them ended with being 100% full-throttle one day, then completely dead the next. They "slip behind the glass wall", where I can still "see" them, and I still tell people I do them and have interest in them... but I simply don't do them any more. They will always be a part of me, just not an active part anymore...

I always knew this blog would get there someday. That day has come.

I can't tell you how proud I am of this blog, and how cool it is that so many people would read it so regularly, and look over my shoulder as I took this weird journey, almost 500 posts ago. I started out knowing I had a lot to say, and to challenge myself to see if I could write a new post every day for a year. I hit that goal, and had a lot of fun doing it.

But I woke up the other morning and I just knew I was done. I waited a few days to see if I was somehow mistaken, but I'm not.

I appreciate your support throughout the months. I don't expect you to keep this blog bookmarked. I'm going to assume this will be my last post. I'll still be available via Facebook and email: davidwagner1 (at) cox (dot) net if you'd like to stay in touch. I'll also certainly continue lurking and leaving comments on your blogs.

It's been a great trip.

Dave Wagner
San Diego

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Turning Forty: Part Two!

Had my 40th birthday party on Saturday, and a bunch of people showed up. It was hard for me to gauge the success of the party, being sort of off-kilter the whole time. I have a rather bizarre mix of personality traits, whereby part of me loves to be on stage and entertain people, while another large part of me infinitely prefers to lurk in the shadows, and enjoy myself vicariously by making sure everyone else is having a good enough time, without reference to me...

All that to say, I *think* everyone enjoyed themselves sufficiently, but I'm not positive...

Wifey and I... and Keno...

We ate fruits & veggies, sandwiches and sodas, primarily. Everyone brought me a card, which was nice of them. I think all told, there might have been 30 people or so. I tried to get some good pics, but there weren't very many good ones to choose from. Here's a few...

Outside with Johnny, Jayson, Abbie, Keno, Rebecca, Chris, Rebekah and Grace. Abbie is about to kiss her soda for some reason. And Rebecca just didn't want to be seen, so she turned away... (kidding, she was talking to Rebekah...)

Grace and Jayson, lounging around...

Vye, Dimitri and Yanni, probably talking about Starcraft 2...

"Happy birthday to yooouuuu..."

Boggle time! Guess who won? :D

Say cheese!

Bob, Stan and Russ, talking about guy stuff, no doubt...

My brother John left a message for me on one of the unused Scrabble boards...

All in all, I was happy with the event. Many thanks to my wife and mom for making it happen. After we left, I went home and had sushi and Starbucks, and worked more on the camp video. A great way to end the day!

Other odds and ends:

- Yanni finally started a new blog! Yay! Now everyone else will be able to experience that crazy brain of his! I feel like a glutton not sharing... I trust you'll enjoy him as well, as he gets his blogging feet under him. Once it gets rolling, I'll add a permanent link to the sidebar.

- I got a new iPad for my birthday from my sister! What a gift! I already bought the Boggle app for it! I got $40 in iTunes cards for my birthday, so I'll have fun browsing for apps, songs and books.

- The latest Pooter videos have been terrific. Here's Episode 111 and here's 112. Enjoy!

- I won a book called Solitary by Travis Thrasher, in a give-away on Fiction Addict. Yay for free books!

- Saw this cool car + trailer combination on the road the other day... click to make it bigger...

How cool to design the trailer to be just like the car...

OK, I'm done. I had other "40" stuff to post about in a third post, but I think the theme has run its course. I'll be back to "normal" with the next post...

Hope y'all are doing well.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Turning 40; Part One!


I decided instead of lamenting the fact that I'm turning 40, I might as well celebrate the fact, by doing a post celebrating "40". I've discovered I have way too much stuff for just one post, so I'm going to divide it into at least two big posts, and see what happens...

OK, so I was born in 1970, and while I was technically alive for the whole decade of the 70s, I remember exactly none of it. I know most people can remember stuff from as early as age four or five or so, but I'm not one of those people. My memory sucks. I like to think it's because I live so much in the "right now" -- and with an eye toward the future -- that I don't have the time or mental capacity to dwell on the past! Honestly, it's probably just because I'm flighty.

My first relatively vivid memories have to do with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 - he was our 40th President, by the way! Here, lemme post a pic...

He's our country's best President, since he was the only one who could make a giant, ethereal American flag magically appear behind him in the sky. How cool is that?

Not having any real clear memory from the age 0 to 10, I can only assume all was well, since I survived it... And you know how nuts the 70's were! *shudder*... Think of the pants I must have worn!

After trolling several "Today In History" sites, I've come to see that absolutely nothing of interest happened on August 16, 1970 -- I mean worldwide! Therefore, I am forced to conclude that the most important event to occur was my birth. My logic is unassailable! In any case, here's a quick rundown of the tops in music/books/movies in 1970...

Top songs of 1970

1. Layla - Derek and the Dominos
2. Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon and Garfunkel
3. Let It Be - The Beatles
4. Your Song - Elton John
5. Get Up - James Brown
6. Lola - The Kinks
7. Who'll Stop the Rain - Creedence Clearwater Revival
8. Fire and Rain - James Taylor
9. Paranoid - Black Sabbath
10. All Right Now - Free

Top Albums of 1970

1. Led Zeppelin III - Led Zeppelin
2. After the Gold Rush - Neil Young
3. Paranoid - Black Sabbath
4. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band - John Lennon
5. Bridge Over Troubled Waters - Simon and Garfunkel
6. Loaded - Velvet Underground
7. Fun House - The Stooges
8. Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs - Derek & the Dominos
9. Moondance - Van Morrison
10. Let It Be - The Beatles

Top Books of 1970 (Best-Sellers)

1. Love Story, by Erich Segal
2. The French Lieutenant's Woman, by John Fowles
3. Islands in the Stream, by Ernest Hemingway
4. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
5. Great Lion of God, by Taylor Caldwell

Top Movies of 1970 (By gross)

1. Love Story
2. Airport
4. Patton (won Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director)
5. The Aristocats
6. Woodstock
7. Little Big Man
8. Ryan's Daughter
9. Tora! Tora! Tora!
10. Catch-22

In continuing my 40 Theme, I'll now play a song. It is 40 by U2...

That's the song they've ended every concert they played, for decades now... they still might, I don't know... The lyrics of that song come from Psalm 40, actually...

Psalm 40: 1-3:  I waited patiently for the LORD;  he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.

Read the rest of the the Psalm here. Some good verses in that Psalm. The first chapter in the bible to have a verse 40 is Genesis, during the story of Abraham sending his servant out to find a wife for his son Isaac. Not many "verse 40's" in the Bible. I'll sift a couple good ones out for the nest part of this post.

Moving right along, here's the White Ninja comic #40, from their archive...

Not exactly his best work, but still good for a chuckle, methinks...

There's a curious little "club" in Major League Baseball called "The 40/40 Club", which a player can belong to, if he hits 40 (or more) home runs and steals 40 (or more) bases in the same season. Only 4 players have ever done such a thing, making it an exclusive club indeed! Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano. Usually, homerun hitters are too slow to steal many bases, and good base stealers are too lithe and wiry to hit many homeruns... so to find someone swift enough to swipe bases and strong enough to belt homers is rare - and frankly, 3 out of the 4 people in the "club" have been involved in accusations of steroid abuse.

I promise, I don't take steroids!

Here's another song, this time by UB40, called Red, Red Wine.

Odd that someone would go to the trouble of laying the album audio over live footage like that... anyway, I thought it was fitting, since IB40....

Not only did nothing interesting happen 40 years ago, but there's also a surprising dearth of professional sports players that wore the number 40. The closest I could find was in football, where legendary running back Gale Sayers wore number 40. But that's it...

Granted, Sayers is a legitimate Hall of Fame player, so he's no small potatoes. Still, I thought I'd be able to find high-caliber playas in all the major sports to pick from.

Well, I guess I could go into the (admittedly interesting) history of wonder-product WD-40, but I think that might be pushing the theme a bit too far... instead, I'll post one last piece of music, this time Mozart's Symphony 40 in G Minor, which you should immediately recognize...

There, now you have been sufficiently cultured and (hopefully) entertained for the day! I have more 40-related goodies to post in part two, but there will likely be a post about my birthday party on Saturday first, with "40 part two" following Monday (which is the 16th, actually). Thanks for browsing this far.



Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Gray Hair is God's Graffiti." -- Bill Cosby

Yeah, I'm a world traveler.... it's official...

Back from our Vegas trip... I like to call it the "Vegas Trip" because calling it the "Henderson Trip" isn't as glamorous. Even though Henderson is about 10 minutes away from the strip, so it isn't a stretch to refer to it as Vegas...

My observations about the trip are likely what anyone would expect them to be. It was hot. The strip was cool and gross at the same time. I'm glad we went, and I'm glad we're home.

As for the 2-day workshop itself, it seemed a success. There were about 100 or so folks there, and I roamed around grabbing video footage and some pictures, as expected. I trust I did a good enough job. Remains to be seen. I have yet to review the footage, and all of the pictures. But the people were great, the food was great, the ride out was great... the drive back to San Diego was fairly grueling, for a number of reasons, but I won't drag this recap out any further. Nothing interesting to share, really, other than Wifey and I are getting along great at the moment, and my windshield decided to finish cracking all the way across. Better get it fixed...

OK, enough of that!

I'm trying to get the camp video finished this week, and---

WARNING: This blog post is too boring. You must add interesting content or you will be at risk of violating Blogging Ordnance #13. You have 3 seconds to comply.

Dang! That hasn't happened for a while... OK, fine, no camp video references... umm, lemme think...

White Ninja to the rescue!

FAIL: You are now officially in violation of BO#13. Three points have been added to your record. Your Infraction Total is now: 112 Points.


So much for White Ninja. Hmm, let's see...

My 40th birthday is almost here, and--

WARNING! You are---

No, wait! Wait! I know the birthday topic is pretty spent! Lemme try!

OK, so my 40th is almost upon me, and we're planning the party up at my mommy's house. I think for food, we've decided on---

FAIL: You now also have 6 points added for Tedious Narcissism and an additional 2 points for Ineffective Winging

"Ineffective Winging"? What the heck is that? Fine, whatever. It's not like I'll lose my Blogging License or anything. That doesn't happen until I hit 200 points.

(Check the newest Blog Charter, smart guy.)

Be right back...

What the! You lowered it to 125 points! That's not fair!

5 more points, and you're gone. 

Ok, fine! Here, look... another Funny Picture!

There, ya happy?

OK... for now. Carry on.


OK, so I was talking to my financial planner today, and---

BLOG POST TERMINATED. This blog has been suspended for 24 hours until the author can find more interesting fodder. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"Marriage is Nature's Way of Keeping Us from Fighting with Strangers." -- Alan King

Ahhh... TUMS are my friends... go to work, my friends! Settle my stomach so I can rest tonight! God bless thee, O TUMS....

Where was I?

OK, well, we hit the road in the morning, Wifey, Eldest Daughter and I. Off to Henderson NV (near Vegas) to attend my Sister's conference that she is co-teaching. We go to document the event on video and standard camera. This is a trial run for us. If things go well, we will be attending additional seminars in other cities in the upcoming months. My sister mentioned Boston and Indianapolis so far. How cool would that be? I may get to travel more soon! YAY! Now I can try out those full-body X-ray scanners at the airports! I may have to get a chest tattoo that says, "If you can read this, you are too close!"

I thought I'd hop on here and throw a couple goofy items at you, to tide you over until I return. ALTHOUGH: checking out the amenities at the hotel we are staying at, it says it has free wireless internet access... so maybe I'll post from the hotel, who knows!

So I decided to go ahead with the plans for a birthday party for my 40th. I'm so torn. Part of me wants people to make a fuss over me. Part of me just wants to hide and not do anything. What swayed it for me was fast-forwarding (in my mind) a week or two after my birthday... I think after the fact I will be far more pleased to have had a party than to not have... my mom has offered the use of her house, and a list of people to invite has been assembled...

The list... there's another dread. Who to invite. We can't rightly invite everyone... where would we put them all, and how would we feed them all? And yet, the more people we invite, the more we will need to invite! The bigger the event is, the more likely it will be that someone will be offended for not getting invited. Just invite those closest to me? OK, but then what about their families? I want everyone to come, of course... but it just isn't practical! And so, the list has been made, and I've resigned myself to knowing some toes will be stepped on...

Ah, well... I suppose there are FAR worse problems to have...

Still trying to decide on a big-ticket item to buy myself for my birthday... I want an iPad... I want a new stereo system for my car... I want one of those BOSE wave radio thingys... then again, I don't really need any of those things, they'd just be nice. The iPad will probably lose it's novelty appeal pretty quickly. A stereo system for my car might prove obsolete if I buy a new car in the next year or two... and the BOSE thing is the definition of an unneeded luxury... maybe I'll just buy 10 pounds of beef jerky and be done with it....

This is INSANE:

He also did this little number in Beijing for the Olympics...

Well, I guess if you have to be good at something, make it something unique, eh?

I've ground to a halt on my reading. Since I've been working on the delivery van at the shop, I've needed to get up far earlier than usual, to get into the shop on time. That means going to bed earlier the nights before. Which means my reading time (midnight to 2 am) has been eliminated. I hope when I pick up Devices and Desires again, I won't be too lost...

Again, far worse problems to have...

Well, until we meet again!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

"I'm Just Trying to Make a Smudge on the Collective Unconscious." -- David Letterman

Where was I?

Oh, yeah...

So I was at church on Saturday, for a memorial service for one of our recently-passed members. My mind has been so elsewhere lately that I literally did not realize how I had dressed for the occasion. Jeans, a gaudy print t-shirt, and my black baseball cap. Everyone else dressed up nicely, as would be expected, but here I show up in my round-the-house grubbies. It was embarrassing. I basically hid upstairs as much as possible, since I had to video-tape the event in the first place. But I felt like a tool. I meant no disrespect.

Sorry, Pat.

I feel the urge to update this blog less and less as the weeks go by. Perhaps it is because my 40th birthday is rapidly approaching, and I feel so lost. Perhaps it's because I'm out of things to say. Perhaps it's just summer doldrums. Perhaps I'm as sick of me as y'all are, I'm sure.

Nope, not out of things to say just yet...

I was contemplating again today how amazingly unlikely it is (mathematically) that any of us actually made it to birth. I mean, what are the odds that out of all the people on earth, your parents met each other and decided to marry? What are the odds that the egg that became you was the one that dropped on the right month, and got fertilized? I don't know enough about reproduction to know this, but if every sperm in the "batch" that made you would have resulted in the same person, that's crazy enough, but if each individual sperm would have combined with the egg to make a different person, then that puts the odds way up past impossible. The exact sperm and egg, the right month, to make you and me. That alone staggers my imagination, but think also of all those that didn't make it! All those eggs and sperm that failed... untold millions of potential people!

What about the kids that would have resulted had your folks married someone else... they'll never exist now. They stepped aside (in a sense) so you could be born! Do you feel special yet?

Of course, if God had "you" in the pipeline to be born, and your parents just happened to be the happy couple trying to get pregnant, and God let them have you, that's a whole other issue. Then there really aren't untold millions of people that never got a chance to live. It's either a huge biological crapshoot, or every person that was meant to be born was/will be born, and the math is meaningless.

One week ends, another begins. I've been working off and on (mostly on), editing the camp video. All the photos (about 300) have been cropped, sized, cleaned and labeled. All of the video footage has been captured, imported and edited down to about 40 minutes of footage I want to keep. It's been grouped by event and placed on the timeline. Next is to incorporate the pictures in the appropriate places on the timeline, add Burns effects to each of them, make sure the run time is under an hour, and then find music. It's a long, tedious, ultimately rewarding process... especially difficult this year, with so much on my mind.

But it needs to be done, so done it shall be.

I'm going to my sister's marketing seminar in Las Vegas this coming up Thursday. So I'll be out of town from the 5th through the 8th. Will you miss me? Wifey and I are taking Eldest Daughter, and we'll be documenting the event with video camera and photos. We're getting a new HD video camera - I trust it will arrive before we leave, otherwise we're screwed! Our job is to document it and then edit together some informational products from the content. Squish me luck.

I'll try to update again before we leave. Otherwise, I'm sure all of you will be heartbroken. And I can't have any of that.

Dave the Cynic, signing off...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"You Can't Stay Mad at Someone Who Makes You Laugh." -- Jay Leno

OK, I need to update! Let's just start things and see where they head, shall we?

I've been working on the van at the rug shop the past couple of weeks... and when I say "working on the van" I don't mean changing the brake pads. We lost our main pick-up/delivery manager. And by "lost" I don't mean he's walking aimlessly around somewhere near Rancho Santa Fe... he was let go. And by "let go" I don't mean he was, in any way, related to a fart...

Where was I?

Oh, yeah, so I've been filling in until we find a replacement. As most of you know, I really am a behind the scenes guy. And by "behind the scenes", I mean, behind a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Being in people's houses, picking up their rugs, makes me nervous and antsy, really. And that makes me sweat. And by "sweat", I mean "good grief, bring this man a towel!" My brother Bryan used to be our field manager back before he died (and by "field manager", I mean pickup  delivery guy... sounds better, eh?). He was so good at it! He loved people, and felt very comfortable around them, and made them feel comfortable and chatty as well. Me? It makes my chest get all tight. But the shop needs me, so I'm sucking it up and gettin' it done! And by "sucking it up", I don't mean the shop... if I sucked up the shop, where would the employees go to work at? I mean, come on!

Bottom line, I'm way out of my normal routine, which, actually, is fine. I've been praying for a change, and apparently, this is it. It's nice to feel needed, and I get to hang out with Yanni all day, which is fun, since he's smart and willing to talk about absolutely anything. And he listens to different music than I, which is helping to introduce new music to my listening repertoire.

Thank you, Gondor! Good night!

On a completely unrelated note, congratulations to Mattson Tomlin, who had his blog chosen to be eBlogger's "Blog of Note" the other day. Dang, that's cool. Trust me, it's a big deal. One side benefit so far (other than many new "followers") is that he's updated his blog 2 days in a row! Today's post is (was) about costuming on his reshoot of Solomon Grundy. Go check it out!

On another unrelated note, the blog Fantasy Book Critic posted something I found interesting - probably because I read Legend by David Gemmell... I don't know how many of you have also read it, but even if you didn't, you might want to check out a recent post they made about the genesis of Gemmell's character Druss the Legend, including the posting of a rare short story Gemmell wrote about the early events in the life of Druss. It isn't a long read - feel free to pop on over and check it out. Even if you don't read it, there are some cool drawings that accompany the text.

OK, video time. I'll let you decide which one you want to watch. First is a clip I saw on Today's Big Thing, which features a soccer goal celebration... I can't decide if it's really cool, or extremely lame.

If there was an ad before the clip, I apologize. I hate that!

OK, the next video is the latest Pooter video by Jack Vale... I can't help it, I find these clips endlessly amusing... and trust me, I've REALLY needed a good laugh lately. Yes, it is humor of the basest sort, but I laughed so hard, my stomach muscles felt like they'd been through 50 sit-ups...

Jack got a new HD camera! Now you can watch people get disgusted in hi def! Whee!

So I'm still making my way through Devices and Desires, by KJ Parker. What an interesting combination of fantasy and analytical engineering. I think Logan would love this book, and it's characters. It appeals to the part of me that loves a good adventure, as well as the part of me that loves to figure stuff out and see how things work (logic problems, strategizing, that sort of thing). I can see how Parker gets bashed a bit by those that think he/she is too dry or dull... but I don't have that problem. I must fit squarely into the intended demographic. Very well done - I'm savoring it. Much more so since I know there are three books in the series. I can easily see myself accumulating all of Parker's books... there are many...

I saw this funny plate while driving the other day in Mira Mesa... Snapped a quick pic.

OK, what else?

I had a boba drink the other day for the first time. It's hard to describe, unless you've had it. Here is a link to a wikipedia page about it... it's like an ice cream drink, with these little "balls" of tapioca mixed in, that, frankly, are slimy. But delicious. It comes with a fat straw, and as you drink it, you suck up the tapioca balls and chew 'em up. It's a weird sensation to get used to. Certainly unique. I'm sure I'll try it again...

It looks weird/gross, but actually it is yummy and fun... no clue if it's fattening or not...

OK, I think that's it for now. That should give you plenty to think about. If not, here's one last funny pic...



Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Book Signing: Rothfuss, Sanderson and Weeks

OK, we went to the book signing today in downtown San Diego! Here is an account of things as they went down.

It ended up just being Laythe and myself that went down - the others that planned to go had to cancel for one reason or another (you pansies!), but we were undaunted, and piled into the car after a hearty after-church lunch, and made our way downtown (where I hate to drive!), listening to Muse and chatting all the way. We parked at a downtown parking structure, and made our way on foot the few blocks to the downtown 2-story Borders bookstore, where the signing was to take place.

We stopped while walking so I could grab a quick pic of Laythe in front of the Double Deuce. The scatological entendre was amusing to us. "Hey, let's drop by Double Deuce!" We chuckled like school kids and pressed on.

We arrived about a half-hour early and decided to grab some books for the signing. Laythe thought to bring his own books, but I didn't. I wanted to grab some hard-backs to get signed, but the only author with a hard-back available was Brandon Sanderson, and that was the Wheel of Time book he just released. That's Book 11 in a 13 book series - a series which I have never read. So it was pointless to buy that one. I decided to grab a new copy of Name of the Wind, and proceeded to wander the large Fantasy Sci-Fi section looking for one. And finding none. I asked an employee, who had no idea who Pat Rothfuss was - even though the guy was going to do a reading and signing at his own store within the hour! He led us back to the same section, where we all stood with mouths open, looking for the book, which was not there.

Thankfully, another employee with a clue came by and pointed us to the big display at the front of the store, lol.

So I bought the book (large, soft-cover) and we went upstairs and found a place with Laythe among the costumed Comic-Con geeks and other assorted Fantasy fans, and waited. Seemed like a small crowd at the time - maybe 120 or so people. Laythe's school friend Nikki showed up, and we all hung out, chatting. It was a good scene.

The authors showed up and were introduced, to much applause. They announced that they would be reading each other's stuff - an announcement that Brent Weeks admitted they all found to be rather odd. But they did it anyway.

Rothfuss, Weeks and Sanderson.

Sanderson read a selection from Brent Weeks' upcoming novel The Black Prism, which, frankly, lost me immediately and failed to impress. I don't know if it was the writing or Sandersons' delivery, or simply that I had no clue who the characters were, in spite of Weeks' effort at setting the piece up. Next, Pat read a selection by Sanderson, from his upcoming novel The Way of Kings. By the way, Sanderson had brought 21 copies of the latest version of The Way of Kings with him (the book isn't to be officially released in hardcover until August 31) and gave 20 away to the first 20 people that showed up to the signing. It was an unannounced giveaway, so I missed out. Then he raffled off the 21st copy - I came close, but missed getting my ticket called by a few digits.

Pat read the passage well, though again, I had trouble following along. There were amusing moments during the reading, which I tried to video tape, but the results were too poor to post here, sorry. Pat got a lot of laughs, but most of them were from dialog within Sanderson's writing, so he gets props, too.

Last, Brent Weeks read a scene from Rothfuss' forthcoming Kingkiller Chronicles Book 2, The Wise Man's Fear. He read a scene where Master Elodin interacted with his class. It was so friggin cool, I was beside myself. Part of it was how well Weeks read it (very good reading!) and part was I'm sure because I knew the characters so well. The reading of that scene was a highlight of the day for me.

After I took the failed video clip of the reading, the "low battery" warning came on on my camera, causing me much bowel angst, since I failed to bring extra batteries - and I wanted more pics! So I was forced to use my camera very sparingly from that point on, which was sad, since I wanted to document it all, and still get pics with Pat at the end...

After the readings, there was a brief Q&A, with mostly interesting questions and answers. Someone asked Sanderson if he came up with the magic systems or the stories first (answer: each book is different). Someone asked about having books optioned into movies and/or video games (answers: Weeks said he's done it, and it's scary. Sanderson said it's a win-win for him, since it doesn't matter if a movie versions sucks, no one can touch the book, which will always be available as is. Rothfuss likes the video game angle.) Someone asked the Quintessential Epic Cliche Question about advice to new writers. (Answer: Pat - "sit your butt down and write." Brent - "write what you know/fear." Brandon - "Write what you love.") Other questions were asked, but they escape me at the moment.

Then the signing started. To my shock and chagrin, they had everyone form one giant line and slowly pass the table where all three authors sat. I figured it would make most sense to sit the authors at three separate tables scattered across the store, with three lines, but apparently no one asked me. So even though there were only maybe 200 people there, the line moved at a glacial speed. After about a half hour, they got the idea to split things up into three lines - but they kept them at the same table still! So it was a mob again.

While I waited in line to see Pat, Laythe made his way through the Weeks line and Sanderson's line.

Laythe talks with Brandon Sanderson. Right after I snapped this, Laythe called Brandon a tool and kicked him in the nutsack.

While waiting in line, I chatted with the folks around me. One guy had a copy of Pat's "children's" book, which he let me read. Funny stuff. Then Laythe cut in line with us, just in time to get his Name of the Wind signed by Pat.

Headline! Rothfuss signs his name!

When I got to chat with Pat, I started by saying, "Pat, you are The Man!" We chatted about the friends I've turned onto his book, and about the T-shirt design I sent him, as well as some of the other designs. He asked if it was Dave or David. I said "Either one's fine." He just looked at me. I said, "Dave". lol He signed the book, I thanked him for his time, and strolled away a happy clam.

Then I read what he wrote...

How cool is that?

Here's how Sanderson signed Laythe's book...

It looks like he just scribbled out his typed name! What the!

And here's how Weeks signed Laythe's book...

"Night angels are watching"... O_o

I should have brought my hardback of Sanderson's Warbreaker, but I wasn't thinking. I wouldn't have had time to get it signed anyway, since Sanderson had to leave before I got up to see Pat. I guess I could just cross out Sanderson's name on the title page and pretend he signed it...

Pat was going to take pics with fans after the signing was done, but at the rate we were going through the line, it would have been another hour at least. I didn't think we could last that long, so we said goodbye to Laythe's friend Nikki (who managed to get two raffle tickets, by the way! She cheated!), and hit the road. We capped off the afternoon by stopping at my favorite BBQ place for some tri-tip sandwiches. Then we went to the evening service.

Overall, I'm so glad I went. It really was a cool event. Great atmosphere, cool authors, lots of fellow geeks, and outside the box enough for me to cement the afternoon as eminently memorable. Look how happy I was afterwards!

'Fake Smile' alert!

And that was that!

Oh, by the way, I saw Inception on Friday night with the little woman. Amazing film. If that movie doesn't win Oscars this year, there's something rotten in Denmark. What an incredible script. If you haven't seen it yet... welll... go see it!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Wrong is for Other People." -- Fanny Brice

Hello! It is Dave! You know... the sap that writes this blog... yeah, that "Dave"...

I wanted to bump the previous post down a notch, so I won't have to look at it anymore. And in doing so, I will violate one of my only blog rules... and that is Blog Rule #3: No Pictures of Feet!

But my brother John was showing off his AMAZING sock tan that he's been working on for months, out on the golf courses of southern California, and I snapped a pic...

Words fail me...

To help balance things out (or, as Paul Harvey used to say, "wash your eyes out with this..."), here's a pic of my sweet Maggie wearing a modified turtle pinata as a hat...

Words fail me again!

Man, there's a boat-load of birthdays going on lately! What's the deal with July and August birthdays!? Well, lemme do the math... if I subtract 9 months from July/August, I get November/December... looks like a lot of parents were enjoying the holiday season back in the day, eh?

So this Sunday, there will be a book signing in downtown San Diego, with Pat Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson and Brent Weeks. Needless to say, I will be there. They will be reading samples of each other's work from 3 to 4 pm, and then signing afterwards. I plan on buying something hardback from each author, and getting me some signed books! I was planning on getting that T-shirt design printed up (the "Pat's On Fire" design) so I could get a picture with Mr. Rothfuss while I was wearing the shirt, but I can't find a local place that will make just one shirt for me. I'd have to buy a dozen. Not sure it would be worth the expense (at $8-$10 each!) just for a cool blog-worthy moment. Oh well.

I'll still do my best to get pics and video and do a blog update afterwards. So far, also going to the event are Wifey, Laythe, Vye, Rebekah and (hopefully) Joe. I would have notified Abbie and Rebecca, but I don't think either of them were all that thrilled with either Rothfuss or Sanderson... meh, I'll send them a FB message about it anyway, just to make sure...

I hope it will be fun.

Here's a recent goofy comic from Left Handed Comics.

Yeah, I know. Still, I needed a laugh, and it came through for me. I'm a man of simple pleasures...

OK, one more nice landscapey picture, and then I'm out...

Ah, mellow blues and greens, to match my mood... ahhhh....