Sunday, February 28, 2010

Repay Them for What Their Hands Have Done, and Bring Back Upon Them What They Deserve. (Psalm 28:4)

"Technical" or "neck tickle," which one?

Greetings to every last one of you, plus all of your friends and loved ones! In fact, I will now name all of you, full name, plus city of residence, city of birth, height, weight and favorite alcoholic beverage! I will then divide you all into teams, based on nationality, region and gender, and pit you against one another in a variety of embarrassing party games (for my own amusement, mostly) in order to determine who my biggest fan is! Sort of a Dave Olympics, if you will... the winner will receive a lifetime subscription to this blog, a Dave T-shirt, a ringtone of me belching a verse from Psalms, my brother John's old grimy Alienware keyboard, and a foot massage from the person who ends up in last place!

OK, fine, we won't do it... I guess I'll just have to live with not knowing who my biggest fan is. (Mom!)

Cool sink! If I had a red bathroom, I'd have this cool sink installed... the mirror is cool, too...

I watched The Hurt Locker last night. Got it from Netflix. I had heard almost universal praise for the film, and was all set to love it. Funny thing, though. I didn't love it. I felt it was too contrived. There were several scenes where my reaction was, "Oh, come on!" I'd give examples here, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone. Let's just say I was quite underwhelmed by the story, the acting and the overall vibe. It was just so Hollywood, you know? It was made worse by watching the "making of" documentary on the extras. Man, the director sure thinks she's hot stuff. Everyone (especially the screenwriter) just came across as so self-satisfied, like they were curing a disease or something, rather than just making a film. I was bummed! I just assumed I would really like it!

It reminded me (in a way) of the movie Backdraft, which had a series of spectacular fires in rapid succession. Firemen that were interviewed about the film said the average fireman might see a fire like one of those featured perhaps once in his entire career. They just crammed a bunch of them together to make a good action film. Cool movie, wholly implausible. Pure Hollywood. And in Hurt Locker, it struck me the same way. Only there were also other scenes that just struck me as illogical.

OK, I'll give one example. In one scene, the three-man explosives team (which is the focus of the film) is called to an Iraqi warehouse to dispose of a large cache of explosives that were found there. When they arrive, there are a couple dozen other soldiers around the place, outside. It turns out that the big facility hadn't even been secured yet. But instead of sending a dozen trained soldiers in to sweep and secure the place, followed by the bomb disposal team, the soldiers all stand outside and make the three bomb experts sweep and secure the place! Explain that to me! They find water boiling in a pot on an abandoned stove, and cigarettes still burning in ashtrays, but still call out that the place is secure, and begin assessing the explosives laying around (the insurgents had been making IEDs there).

It's stuff like that that makes me roll my eyes and wonder what the heck the screenwriter was thinking. There were other scenes, but I'll let it lie for now.

Do I recommend seeing the film? I don't know. I guess. Many people seem to like it, so perhaps I am out of my gourd. Give it a shot. If you have seen it, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on it.

Shifting gears...

Yes, that's my sister Lisa on the far left there, and yes, that is Paula Abdul second from the right. I'm such a name-dropper! My sister gets to hang out with famous people now and then! This past weekend, before jetting off to Bali on business, she spent some time in San Francisco with the Genius Network Mastermind Group, and their newest member, Paula Abdul. I just think that's cool. She also worked with the founder of Twitter, and Tim Ferriss (author of The Four-Hour Work Week).

Yeah, she's smart like that. Hope she has a great trip. I told her to tell Paula I said hello...

Shifting gears yet again...

My brother John sent me a link to a video clip of a new DSi game that is coming out overseas that blew me away. I am going to post it now - you have to see this!

You'll pardon me if I continue the trend and call this "wicked cool"... apparently, the DSi has a built-in video camera that everyone was scratching their head over, wondering why on earth Nintendo would include such a feature. Well, these developers use the camera, combined with facial recognition software, to tell the DSi where it is in relation to your face, and adjusts the display accordingly, so it looks like you're looking into a 3D box display. Well, you saw the results in the clip there. Way, way too cool.

There were a couple other cool games I was going to post about, but I need to get back to work, so instead, I will post this picture...

Ad Placement Fail!

... and call it a night. I hope your week is a good one.

Dave the Goof

Friday, February 26, 2010

Though My Father and Mother Forsake Me, the Lord Will Receive Me. (Psalm 27:10)

Well, whadaya know?

OK, I have two videos to share with you tonight - I might as well get them in right away before I forget...

I saw this on Today's Big Thing, and I almost didn't watch it. I'm glad I did. It's a cover of an Aerosmith song by a cool homebrew, indy band called Pomplamoose, which appears to be a man and woman who record all the music themselves, and mix it all up, including editing mash-up videos like this one. Reminds me of Logan, for some reason!

They have some other great songs on their YouTube channel (which I subscribed to of course!), including this Christmas song which is very, very cool.

Before I get to the second video I wanted to post, let me put a funneh picture up here.

I know, I know. Not quite "funny", but definitely "funneh"....

OK, here's the second video I wanted to share tonight. It's a video of the World's Largest Flash Mob, which happened last Fall in Chicago, on the Oprah show of all things. She arranged a block party concert in Chicago and invited the Black Eyed Peas to perform a new remix of one of their popular songs. She didn't know it, but the remix was given to a choreographer, who worked out a dance to it, taught it to 600 dancers, who then taught it in groups to the crowd of 20,000 people that showed up for the live event. They ended up doing a crazy flash-mob dance to it that freaked Oprah out. Everyone was in on it but her. Her reaction is priceless, and the dance itself is amazing.

I know, some of y'all probably already saw this between last fall and now, but I just saw it today, and it's too cool not to post.

Oh, a quick note on something from a couple posts ago... Rebecca said they still use the phrase "wicked cool" in the northeast, and I found photographic evidence of it, in the form of this east coast roadside warning...


I finally beat the main quest of Borderlands today, with my level 36 Sniper. I have to admit, the big boss fight at the end was not only a real let-down, but it was pretty much straight-up lame. Uh oh, I better post a mini review...

Borderlands: A Review
A good FPS/RPG hybrid game, with tons of fun weapons and a good feel to it. It's quirky, has a unique look to it - it's cell-shaded, so it looks like you're playing a comic book. It has humor sprinkled in here and there, which is nice. The negative things I'd say about it - aside from the end battle fizzle, is that there's an over-abundance of ammo and goodie boxes everywhere. There is no need to ever buy ammo, or weaponry - it's everywhere you look! You'll have to leave soooo much stuff just laying there, since there's no point collecting/selling it all. There's not much to do with the money you get!  Kind of makes it boring, in a way.

The vehicles were fun to drive, but the ability to run over people and critters made some quests too easy. No point in getting out of your car to fight a giant critter when you can just drive over it and complete the quest!

I had a pet attack bird called "Deathwing" that I could send out to attack nearby baddies as well, which was fun. I wish there would have been a storage trunk somewhere to keep cool weapons. You were limited to what you could carry in your inventory.

Summary: 3/5 A decent game, but I enjoyed Fallout 3 infinitely better.

Still reading Name of the Wind. I saw THIS POST on the Author's blog today, and he gives a nice update on the status of the next book in the series A Wise Man's Fear. If you liked the first book, go there and read the post, eh (Krista!)! Even if it's just to look at the picture of his baby sitting next to a print-out of the latest manuscript...

I know I had other things to squawk about tonight, but my brain is empty at this moment. I should have made a list. Oh, well. If I remember it, I'll post it tomorrow. I'm closing in on my 400th post! Are you proud of me?

Until then!


PS Happy Birthday Shannon!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

When I Felt Secure, I Said "I Will Never Be Shaken." (Psalm 30:6)

OK, I have an entire three-ounce bag of Jack Links Original flavor Beef Jerky and a vitamin water steeping inside my gut, so I believe I'm ready to fake my way through yet another blog post. Boy, it's a good thing for me that you all are so easily duped! Man! I can talk about anything and you'll read it! BUAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Actually, I did have a cool link to lead off with, especially for the writers among us. I saw an article that was inspired by Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules for Writing Fiction (which is a book coming out next month). The article followed up a summary of Leonard's 10 Rules by asking a bunch of other current, successful writers what their Rules for Writing Fiction were. It is definitely interesting reading, especially for those of us that (are trying to) write.


Here are Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules:

1 Never open a book with weather. If it's only to create atmosphere, and not a character's reaction to the weather, you don't want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead look­ing for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways than an Eskimo to describe ice and snow in his book Arctic Dreams, you can do all the weather reporting you want.
2 Avoid prologues: they can be annoying, especially a prologue ­following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in non-fiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want. There is a prologue in John Steinbeck's Sweet Thursday, but it's OK because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all about. He says: "I like a lot of talk in a book and I don't like to have nobody tell me what the guy that's talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks."
3 Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But "said" is far less intrusive than "grumbled", "gasped", "cautioned", "lied". I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with "she asseverated" and had to stop reading and go to the dictionary.
4 Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said" . . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances "full of rape and adverbs".
5 Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.
6 Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose". This rule doesn't require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use "suddenly" tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.
7 Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly. Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apos­trophes, you won't be able to stop. Notice the way Annie Proulx captures the flavour of Wyoming voices in her book of short stories Close Range.
8 Avoid detailed descriptions of characters, which Steinbeck covered. In Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants", what do the "American and the girl with him" look like? "She had taken off her hat and put it on the table." That's the only reference to a physical description in the story.
9 Don't go into great detail describing places and things, unless you're Margaret Atwood and can paint scenes with language. You don't want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.
10 Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them.
My most important rule is one that sums up the 10: if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.


And here are the links to the article, if you want to see what other writers (including Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters) have to say about it. Part One, Part Two.

I've noticed that Patrick Rothfuss breaks a few of these rules! O_O I'm about 150 pages into my re-read of The Name of the Wind, and I'm loving every bit of it again. I wish I could write with such richness and imagination. All I have to lean on are fart jokes...

Here's another awesome piece of art by Kekai Kotaki.

By the way, Fiction Addict is a good site. If you like books, go nose around there, eh!

Actually, here's a couple other good "book related" sites, while I'm at it...

Kyusi Reader, A Dribble of Ink, The Mad Hatter's Book Shelf, The Writer's Notebook, and Speculative Horizons.

And, of course, there's Logan's Blog, Kristopher's Blog, Rebecca's Blog, Shellie's BlogMelissa's Blog, Crystal's Blog and Krista's Blog, in case you didn't have enough to browse!

I am done. Hope your week ends well.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Amazing Artist - Thanks Kristopher!

Over at Kris Denby's blog, he posted a pic of a book cover for a fantasy novel called Shadow Prowler, and initiated an interesting (to me) discussion about judging books by their covers. The art on this particular book is fantastic, and the synopsis of the story within sounds like a run-of-the-mill cliched fantasy trope-filled snoozer.

But what hooked me was the art itself! Check out the art here, without the title, etc on it...

Awesome. The artist's name is Kekai Kotaki.

Anyway, Kris linked to the artist's website and blog, and of course I checked it out. INCREDIBLE artwork. Not only that, but he shows progressions of some of his work, from concept sketches to final product. I immediately became a follower of it. If you like fantasy-themed artwork of the highest caliber, check it out.

Here are a couple more examples.

I'm sorry, man, that artwork just does something for me. I love it. Each pic tells a whole story to me. This guy is top, top notch. I'm amazed that someone has the talent to crank out art like this so routinely.

Just thought I'd share it with y'all.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Just the Facts, Ma'am...

Fact: The week is over. It is, yet again, Monday.

Fact: Sunday afternoon, after church, there was a gathering at the Diaz family house, to celebrate the dedication of baby Keilah. Fact: Though I brought my camera to the event, I took no pictures, so unless you were there, you have to take my word for it. Fact: I saw Joseph and his wife. And Matt. And many, many other characters from my fantasy novel. It was like a book cast reunion, but the book isn't out yet.

Fact: I solved several problem plot holes in my novel, and excitement level is riding high. Fact: If I can pull it off, the novel will be wicked cool.

Fact: Saying "wicked cool" is about 10 years past it's cultural prime, and should be ridiculed.

Fact: On Netflix, 2 out of 3 people so far have voted the following review I wrote of Jurassic Park III as "helpful".

Jurassic Park III: This movie is pure weak sauce. I've derived more entertainment out of giving my crack a good scratching than I did watching this movie. This movie makes me sad. So does an itchy crack. The cast of this film should all be gathered together and given individual swift kicks to the pills. I mean, right to the coin purse! Except, of course, the females, who obviously lack the necessary pills to kick. But the women each should get a Dutch Oven. Or two. Oh, what the heck... Dutch Oven them until their perms all get unfrizzy. That'll teach them not to be involved in festering turds like this film. I bet Spielberg is rolling over in his grave because of what they did to his franchise... and he aint even dead yet! If they make another Jurassic Park, Im going to soil myself in protest.

Fact: Even though I did think the movie was a turd, I wrote this absurd review to see how many "unhelpful" ratings I could get. Fact: I am surprised by the results.

Fact: the following picture is simultaneously funny and in poor taste:

Fact: I got a paycheck in the mail on Saturday. Fact: Woohoo!

Fact: I borrowed the Beatles Remastered Collection from Melissa D. on Sunday. Fact: All the songs are now on my iPod. Fact: Her dad told me to keep the set as long as I wanted, because he "didn't want that trash in his house." Fact: He said it was demonic. Fact: Apparently he's cool with me having it in my house!

Fact: I'm reading The Name of the Wind again. Fact: It is still awesome.

Fact: I tied my record high score (495) in a Facebook Scrabble game against Mike D. Fact: It still falls short of Abbie's high score (507). Fact: Someday, Abbie! Someday!

Fact: I've been playing Defense Grid: The Awakening and Borderlands a lot lately. Fact: You are immensely proud of me because of this.

Fact: I am done.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson - A Review

Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson: A Review

I was attracted to this book for two main reasons... first, it's written by Brandon Sanderson, currently one of my favorite authors. And second, it almost sounds like Windbreaker, and that makes me chuckle. ---> (__|__) - *poot*

That having been said, let me proceed.

Wow, how to summarize this story? So much happens that, it seems, would take so much explaining.

Most of the action takes place in the colorful city of Hallandren, where the people dress extravagantly, and worship The Returned, who are "gods" that used to be people, but returned from the dead. There is a pantheon of palaces where these gods all live in seclusion, each with his or her own palace and group of priests and servants. Ruling over them all is the God King, who is a Returned who has achieved the highest level of their magic system, which revolves around the acquisition and use of Breaths.

Everyone has a Breath, which correlates to our understanding of the word Soul. A person can sell or give away his/her Breath and remain alive as a Drab, which is a person that has lost that spark that allows them to appreciate and recognize the beauty and life surrounding them. Other people can accumulate Breaths within themselves, and have their senses increasingly heightened to the point where they can distinguish and recognize the most minute changes in sound and color, as well as feel when people are near or watching them.

Taken another step further, those with a lot of Breaths can use them to Awaken inanimate objects, turning them into temporary servants. A hanging tapestry can be "Breathed" into and given a command, for example, to lift the Awakener up on top of a wall, at which point, the Awakener can recover the Breaths. A section of rope can be Breathed into and given a command to "hold when thrown", and when tossed at a person, will automatically wrap around the person, tying them up and holding them.

War has been brewing between Halladren and a rebel race of people called the Idrians, who live in the mountains. The Idrians used to rule in Hallandern long ago, but fled once the city embraced the worship of the Returned and the pagan art of Awakening. There has always been tension between them, but the Idrian King doesn't want war. He knows his kingdom would be defeated, for the Hallandrens have an army of Lifeless, which are Awakened corpses who are basically unstoppable. The King has made a treaty which involves sending one of his daughters to marry the God King of Hallandren, to grant the God King an heir and put the royal blood line back on the throne.

The time has arrived to make good his promise and send a daughter.

By the time it's said and done, plots are unraveled, betrayals made, discoveries unearthed, gods clash and everyone changes. Sanderson is ridiculously adept at crafting unique, fun characters and getting a great, deep yarn rolling until it steamrolls to it's conclusion. "Just one more chapter" was my refrain well into the wee hours for several days on end - and I loved every minute of it.

It's an easy read, yet that doesn't mean it isn't rich. It has zero profanity, and adult interactions are at most hinted at. As with the Mistborn trilogy, neither profanity nor explicit adult content are needed. The story does not skimp on blood and violence, however. The story resolves itself in one volume, yet still leaves the door open a bit for a sequel should Sanderson ever want to pursue things further.

It is a nice ride, with several storylines that weave together in a masterful, satisfying way. If I took the time to lay out all of the major players in the novel, you would glaze over.

Summary: 4.5/5 A very satisfying read.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Drive-By Posting....

Is one video really intriguing enough to post up here in a stand-alone entry? Well, to me, the answer is yes!

I had no idea the extent to which TV shows use the green screen tech to make their shows possible... I was fairly well blown over, and I thought if I didn't post it now, I'd forget later.


PS Warbreaker (Sanderson) is a terrific book.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Test Me, O Lord, and Try Me, Examine My Heart and My Mind. (Psalm 26:2)

Greetings to my stunningly-attractive legion of screaming fans! It is I, Dave the Goof, here to mindlessly entertain you with a raft of hot air cleverly hidden beneath a layer of words!

[Dave waits for the applause and adulation to wane]

OK, where to begin?

So Monday afternoon, I'm in the car, all the Wagner Women are with me, we're on our way to Target... yeah, I know... classy! Anyway, those that know the area around our house will get the visual, but the rest of you, sorry... I'll do my best... anyway, we're driving the "back way" from our house near the mall into the back of Escondido, via that road the goes by the lake... with me so far? We're tooling along, as if we had good sense... lo and behold, a sudden opportunity to check my brakes presents itself! 

As the road narrows to one lane each direction, I crest a hill and approach a stoplight down at the bottom... I have green, so it's all good. Going maybe 45 or so. Well, the dude waiting at the intersection just ahead, on my right, decides for some reason unknown to me to begin creeping into my lane. He just slowly pulls right out, and stops, completely (and I mean completely) blocking my lane! SCREEEEECH! Standing on the brakes, tires smoking, leaving loooong black marks on the road, we come to a stop mere inches away from his car, my front bumper just about touching his driver door...

That'll get the ol' heart a'pumping! My car stalls, of course. We all start breathing again. The old dude behind the wheel just kind of looks around, then at me. He waves. He drives off, my wife screaming at him from her spot beside me.

The Takeaway: My brakes work fine. Brake test is a success.

And now, a fat kid in glasses, getting shot...

Dang! Both barrels!

So I went to my Writer's Group meeting tonight. I wish I had an amusing anecdote to relay, or some fascinating revelation to share... but it was pretty routine. I sent off a section of my Fantasy story about King Carey (as in my childhood pal Carey, not Jack Carey from MZF), and got a lot of good feedback. Of course, I forgot to find "real" names for the two main cities I talk about in the chapters, so I sent it to them with my placeholder names still in place. Yeah, having cities named "Spudgebert" and "Slapnuts City" had the effect you can imagine they would... oh, well... I've never been good with names... everything I come up with sounds so cliche! 

On a related note, if you've ever wondered about the science behind a man being able to withstand a world-record power-kick to the family jewels, wonder no further! 

I don't know whether to file that under entertainment, education, or extreme wince-inducement. 

And just in case you ever wondered what the great 5th Century church father St. Augustine's thoughts on farting were, here is a quote from the most reliable source I could find (pointed out to me by Yanni)... yes... Wikipedia...

Historical comment on the ability to fart at will is observed as early as St. Augustine's The City of God (5th century CE). Augustine mentions men who "have such command of their bowels, that they can break wind continuously at will, so as to produce the effect of singing." The fact that mankind in general has lost this ability he attributes to the first sin of Adam and Eve and its consequences with respect to body control. Intentional passing of gas and its use as entertainment for others appears to have been somewhat well-known in pre-modern Europe, according to mentions of it in medieval and later literature, including Rabelais.
I did not make that up - it really says that on that wiki page I linked to.

Well, I guess I should end this post on a cool note... here is a pic of the newly-engaged Vye and Rebekah, which I found very amusing...

Vye has the strength of 8 men... and Reb the beauty of 8 women!

Well, I think I've entertained you enough for one night... I will now go see if it's my play in any of my Facebook Scrabble games, then read more Warbreaker, and then go the heck to bed!

Until tomorrow, adios!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

He Will Receive Blessing from the Lord and Vindication from God His Savior. (Psalm 24:5)

The smack-middle of February! What a great place to have a holiday, eh? Love love love love... pardon me while I grumble bitterly into my root beer...

Well, at least most normal people seem to enjoy Valentine's Day... in fact, some people propose marriage on this day! Like a certain someone I know... Vye, you sly dog you! Congrats to Vye and Rebekah, who got engaged today. How romantic! Yet another thing I wish I could be (I mean romantic, not engaged)... fine, V&R, rub it in! Cruel!

Actually, this means I can now follow through with the romantic interactions of their characters in my Fantasy novel... I told myself going into this novel that I would not have any bad guys, and I would not put in any romance or relationship stuff at all... it would just be a straight-up action/adventure without any mushy stuff... but I've already added two bad guys to the story - though not an Evil Lord Ruler type. And I was toying with the idea of having Vye's character develop a romantic interest in another character, and thought Rebekah's character would be the logical choice... now it can happen, awkwardness-free!

Harsh Segue! OWWW!!!!

I don't give a crap about the Olympics... I'm sorry....

Another Harsh Segue!!! Please! I'm still stinging from the first one!

Wifey ran a half-marathon today. Yep, she ran a race on Valentine's Day. She had a great run - her best ever, she said. I bought her a new iPod shuffle for VDay. 60 bucks, well spent. It made her happy, that's all that matters. She used it today in her half-marathon. And since her name is Marla and she's a runner, I will now tell people that her name is short for Marlathon. And on days when she runs a half, I will call her Half-Marlathon. Then the world will make sense...

Like this Old Spice commercial...

It's been a while since I posted something from This Is Why You're Fat... most of their entries of late have included bacon... seems to be the ingredient of choice for the anti-slim everywhere. Here's a particularly cool one...

Turtleburgers: A ground beef patty, topped with cheddar cheese, wrapped in a bacon weave, with hot dog segments for the appendages. If that isn't the coolest thing I've seen all month... I would eat all three of those right now, if I could...

But I can't! So instead, I am eating up Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson. Great tale, really top notch. I'll definitely write a review of it when I finish it this week or so... I don't want to rush it... some books you need to savor! I also added The Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss) back to my Shelfari gadget over there on the right margin... it's been about a year since I first read it, and I want to read it again! Besides, I expect an announcement any time now for the release date of the next book in the series, The Wise Man's Fear. He submitted the manuscript a few months back now... hopefully it will be released before summer.

Otherwise, I will be releasing a lot of wind, in protest....

Actually, I'm sure I'll be releasing a lot of wind regardless... sadly, it's what I do. Hey, we all need hobbies...

:O AAAAAAAA!!! I'm turning 40 this year!

Sorry... that realization sneaks up on me more and more frequently lately. I think it just likes to see me jump....

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I am done. Congrats once again to two of my favorite people - Vye and Rebekah. May you live happily ever after. By the way, don't ask me for marriage advice! :X

(Psst! Hey, Vye... Joseph is going to be an awesome brother-in-law... you can quote me on that!)


Friday, February 12, 2010

You Prepare a Table Before Me in the Presence of My Enemies. (Psalm 23:5)

Aw, yeah, 3 days in a row! I feel bad for all my readers that have stopped checking every day! Punks! Only the lucky, dedicated few are seeing these latest posts! Well, now, don't y'all feel special!?

Actually, I'm rather surprised at the results of Google Analytics, which I installed on this blog back on Jan 12. I'm a stats-hound to begin with, so studying the numbers is fascinating to me. Believe it or not, I get an average of 35 unique visitors a day, and many come more than once a day! Total visitors per day, including repeat visitors, is 55! Average time spent on the blog is 2 minutes, 22 seconds...

Granted, 30% of the people that have visited the blog since Jan 12 have only come once, but 12% have been 26-50 times (since Jan 12!), another 11% have been 51-100 times, and 7% have been here 101-200 times! Dude, what's up with that! In fact, 3% of you have been here over 200 times in the past month... you must check here 6 times a day to see if I've updated, lol...

You love me! I'm feelin' the love!

Google Analytics is pretty cool. If you want it on your blog, so you can crunch the stats, you need to create a "gadget" and paste the Analytics code into it, and drop it into the sidebar somewhere.

OK, Shifting Gears...

I saw a video on Break today that I tried in vain to locate on YouTube as well, so I could embed it here without those ridiculous, occasionally offensive ads that play in front of it, but I couldn't find it. It was a cool video of a rooftop avalanche, where great sheets of snow slide off of a big, sloped rooftop, and it's a cool cascading effect... I did find a couple other similar clips which I will post here...


Pretty cool, in a mild way, I think... yeah, not as cool as that little dog flying down the stairs in yesterday's clip, but cool enough! Hey, we don't have snow in San Diego, so I have to make do with weird videos like this, ok!? Sheesh!

Here's a clip of snowboarders triggering (and then trying to escape from) avalanches out in the wild... pretty cool... but the reason I'm posting this clip is the scene at the very end, with the avalanche racing down the hill toward the camera, and then swallowing it up... you gotta see this... skip to the end if you want...

Sorry about the music...

OK, enough videos...

I saw this today, in an email my mom forwarded to me...

Behold, the Smart Car! 

Now available in an Ultra-Compact Model...

Please, if you ever get one of these cars, stay the heck off of the freeway... in all fairness, I don't know how hard that truck in the rear slammed into the car... it could very well have pancaked just about any small sedan, who knows. All I know is, that driver's body is going to be a loooong time being extracted from that wreckage...

Yeah, I know... kind of a gruesome thing to make somewhat-light of... my apologies. It's in the air - I saw the footage of that luge Olympian that died today, flying off the track and slamming into that steel beam. Dang. I was chatting with Logan online at the time, when I saw the footy, and it brought up my usual set of questions about God, and how involved He is in events like that. Does He cause it, or just allow it? Is every detail micro-managed by God for His own reasons, or is this earth more of a sandbox that is a self-perpetuating system where things happen of their own accord? He could have prevented it, but He allowed it... or did He cause it? If the guy had prayed (or prayed harder) before the run, would it have made a difference? Was the guy's day of death set in stone, or is there fudge room there? If he had walked away from that last practice run before it started, would he have still died some other way? Or would he still be alive? How much of it is random, and how much is dictated from above?

Just stuff to think about...

I had more stuff to dump on y'all tonight, but I think I've taxed your patience enough. Gonna go prepare this week's fantasy novel sample for the writer's group meeting next Tuesday. Adios for now.


PS Hope your Valentine's Day is a good one...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

All Who See Me Mock Me; They Hurl Insults, Shaking Their Heads. (Psalm 22:7)

Yeah, that's right... new blog post two nights in a row. Is this a trend or a fluke? Am I reverting to my daily ways, or just feeling bored? Time will tell!

Got my Piranha work done late last night... feels good to get those things done. You wouldn't think editing and formatting an hour-long interview transcript would be that much work, but it is... there are many steps, all of which I will now elaborate upon for you, in great, tedious detail!

OK, I won't. I shall assume you trust me when I say, it's a lot of work! But it pays well, so I shall refrain from complaint.

I saw this awesome animation tonight, and I knew I'd have to share it. Set aside the "evolution" theme and just enjoy the humor of it all, eh!

Hey, I don't want to start a theological debate here, I just wanted to share something cool! Sheesh!

I watched a documentary today on mushrooms, called Know Your Mushrooms... I thought it would be entertaining and informative, but it turned out to be a bunch of snaggle-toothed hippie-types mostly espousing the spiritual benefits of taking "magic" mushrooms. Sure, they also quickly hit the medicinal aspects of a couple varieties, and did their best to try and counter the idea that most mushrooms are bad for you (they're not - only a couple), but they didn't really teach me anything! I don't "know my mushrooms" any more now than I did before I watched it! Bah, it doesn't matter. Just don't watch it, alright? Sheesh! I wrote a critical review of it for Netflix.

That reminds me... I read a great "bad" review of a Terry Goodkind book over at The Writer's Notebook, if you enjoy reading such things. "The Writer" fairly rips Goodkind a new one, in a very amusing and thorough way, for a new book of his called The Law of Nines. Nice to see a book receive both barrels now and then...

This child is mildly upset by Lego Yoda...

I have a funny animal video to share with you... I couldn't find it on YouTube, so I have to post it from Today's Big Thing... if there is an advert before it, I apologize...

Yeah, I know, the clip is too long and repetitive, but you gotta admit, that dog zipping down the stairs like that is pretty funny.... you chuckled... admit it...

OK, I'm done. Tomorrow is Friday. I know not what the day will hold. I'll let you know if anything interesting happens...

Dave the Goof

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

He Asked You For Life, and You Gave it To Him. (Psalm 21:4)

OK, fine, you caught me! I walked into this blog post with nothing to say, and no other agenda than to force that ugly political rant down a notch, so I don't have to look at it anymore! I mean, who do I think I am?! First, a ridiculous political rant unleashed upon an unsuspecting, innocent blog-reading public... and then to leave it up, front and center, for two whole days! The nerve! The gall! The unbridled hubris of it all!

You got me again... that opening paragraph was just a long excuse to use the word hubris... man, you are seeing right through me tonight!

That must be weird, being able to see right through me... here, let me test you... what did I eat for dinner? Yeah, I know it's all mushed up by now, but maybe you can still tell what it was... if you squint just right. No? Sheesh! Some superhero you turned out to be...

If you could see right through me, you'd be able to look into my head and see what I was thinking... then I'd really be ashamed... that's all right... a little shame is ok once in a while... it keeps one young... or is that vitamins? I don't know, I get vitamins and shame mixed up all the time...

Well, I told you I didn't have anything to say! What did you expect! This is free-association blogging at its worst!

I finally ditched Erikson for Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson. Right from the prologue, I can see it's going to be a winner. I've decided as I read, I'm going to focus not just on the story, but exactly *how* he is accomplishing the telling of the tale. I want to see how he handles character description. How he paces the introduction of new characters. How many words he spends in describing the settings of each of the scenes. These are problem areas for me in my novel... I'm hoping to learn from someone that obviously knows what he's doing.

One thing I need to overcome is my distaste for corny character description... "Her jet black hair cascaded down past her shapely shoulders, and made her sky blue eyes and ruby red lips stark in contrast"... gimme a break. I hate stuff like that. So I avoid it altogether. A common comment I get from the writer's group is "I like the action and the dialog, but I have no clue what your characters look like!" It's probably made worse by the fact that I know what the characters look like in real life, so I subconsciously don't see the pressing need to describe them.

Harsh Segue! OWWW!!!!!

I saw on Wednesday that "they" are going to make another Superman movie ("they" = whatever studio it is, I don't recall), and that they've hired Christopher Nolan to oversee the film. Of course, Nolan is the man that did such a killer job rebooting Batman with the two most recent Christian Bale films. "They" are hoping for a similar reboot to Superman, meaning darker, grittier, truer to some of the classic storylines. And yes, they are starting from scratch a third time with the series. That latest Superman debacle (in 06) is thankfully not getting a sequel. They're starting over from scratch, and hoping Nolan can work his magic again.

He won't be directing it... just overseeing the scriptwriting and producing. He is already working on the third Batman script with the team that wrote the first 2 films with him. Yay! I like me some Batman...

Slip me some fin!

I gotta run and finish up some Piranha work, so I can get some $$$! Then I'll buy you all gifts and you'll all love me again!

Good thing my political rants are only twice a year...

Until then!


Monday, February 8, 2010

Dave's Bi-Annual Political Rant

Yes! It is time for...

Dave's Bi-Annual Political Rant

I will never understand politics. It's all just games, that I can see. Is there really any difference between the two sides? Ideologically, they differ greatly... but when it comes down to what they actually do, is there really any difference? Bush was a repub, right? Yet he spent dough and acted like an unfettered liberal - made Clinton look like a fiscal conservative. Obama is an unfettered liberal, right? Yet other than the crazy stimulus spending (which was begun by Bush, remember), what has he actually done that has been so liberal? Or more liberal than Bush, or Clinton, or Bush before him?

Is there any difference? There are problems - big problems. There have always been, there will always be. Is the sitting President fully responsible for all the probs? And the current House/Senate? Really? Yet it seems whoever is currently in office gets all the blame... and the solution is said to be elect the other guys. All we heard for 8 years was how awful Bush and Repubs are... solution? Get them out! Change! So the Dems get the White House and a supermajority in the senate, and majority in the House... still big problems. Blame them now! The solution? Elect the Repubs again.

After only one year, no less!

Back and forth. Blame whoever is in charge, then think the solution is to get them out and put the other side in. Rinse, repeat, throw up. They're both the same. They talk different talk, they act the same. They are interchangeable. It's the classic definition of insanity... keep doing the same thing and expect different results. "Elect me! Why? Because I'm not that guy!" Who cares what a person can bring to the table... it's enough that he's not the guy that's in office at the moment.

No, I'm not done with my political rant yet...

This "zero respect" thing for the Presidency has puzzled me for years. People seem to have no problem at all calling the sitting President every name and insult in the book. Again, it doesn't matter who is in charge, the shrieking harpies are out in force, blasting the President for everything, whether it has anything to do with reality or not. When Bush was in charge, it was "Impeach Bush!" "Every time his mouth is moving, he is lying!" "He's a complete idiot!" "He is evil!" "He's a war criminal!" "He's in the pocket of big oil!" And now that Obama is in charge, it's just as loud from the other side. "He's a socialist/fascist/communist!" "He's a complete liar!" "He is Hitler!" "He hates our country!"

Good God, people, dissent is one thing. Blatant disregard for the realities of the issues facing a President and complete disrespect for the office is another. I didn't vote for Obama, but I hope the man succeeds in getting some positive things done for the country. To hear the radioheads, teapartiers and town-hall screamers blab on and on, you'd think Obama was a slavering, evil tyrant whose every step is intended to unravel all we hold dear and plunge us headlong into oblivion. Why is everyone OK with such idiocy?

If there are issues, discuss them like adults. Propose different solutions without acting like schoolkids. How about a little respect for the highest office in the country? Tone down the vitriol and the verbally-violent armchair quarterbacking. The President (whoever it may be) is a person, like any of us, dealing with issues, both domestic and international, that would likely flatten any of us in short order. And he has dozens of such issues, any one of which could make a person's head explode.

Have you seen pictures of Presidents after one term? Looks like they age 20 years. The office is a killer; why anyone would ever want it is beyond me. Anyone who attains it should be worthy of respect and cooperation, not venom and contempt. I doubt seriously that any man or woman has a clue what they're getting themselves into by attaining the office. It shouldn't be that way.

The health care issue is just stupid. Everyone wants to revamp the system. Check that - everyone wants to complain about the health care system and talk about revamping it - but no one wants to do anything about it. Obama wants to overhaul it. Oh, no, the end of the world! He's actually trying to do something about it! Seriously, I don't see what the big deal is. Suggest some changes, discuss it, modify it, pass it, and move on. Why does it have to be such a big mess?

Also, since when does a 19 seat majority suddenly mean you can't get anything done? The health bill is dead because your majority dropped from 20 down to 19? Really? 59 seats vs 41 seats? Throw your hands up and declare the issue dead? Good grief, it's either worth fixing or it's not... you'd think having a 19 seat majority would still mean you could get things done. Since when does such a minority wield such power as to be able to derail any progress?

It's all games.

Hypocrisy, you say? I disrespect politicians, and then rant about lack of respect for the President? None of it makes sense to me either. Someone once said that "politics is just Hollywood for ugly people," and I'm apt to agree, in part. It seems both groups of people are self-important, ridiculously rich, void of substance, and exist mostly just to entertain themselves and us.

My Bi-Annual Political Rant is over. I apologize for any indigestion it triggered. I hope your week is progressing well.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

May He Give You the Desire of Your Heart, and Make All Your Plans Succeed. (Psalm 20:4)

I'm currently editing an interview that Joe Polish did with the creator of the P90X workout phenomenon, Tony Horton. Of course, it is quite fascinating to me... I think I'm definitely going to give it a whirl, and do the 90-day thing, with the "before/after" pics and all that nonsense. I doubt I'll post them anywhere, for obvious reasons - it's embarrassing! Although I doubt there would be anything more motivating to complete the 90-day thing than knowing my "before" picture, in all its embarrassing glory, was up here for everyone to cringe at... I would feel desperate to hurry up and get a nice, ripped "after" picture up... but really, how narcissistic is that? "Look at my muscles!"

Still, it's inspiring to see and hear the stories of people that were overweight, out-of-shape schlubs like I am, and in a couple months time were able to make some radical physical transformations, and generally feel better about themselves. My challenge first is to try and separate the substance from the hype, so I don't fall for the latest fad and fail miserably once I see how much hard work it really is... I need to psyche myself up to kicking my own butt for a couple months. If it works, awesome... I'm sure the benefits will be many. The only way it won't work is if I quit... but even as flighty as I am, I can usually muster enough interest in something for a couple months before getting distracted by something else...

no caption is necessary here, eh?

I tell ya, my interest in Gardens of the Moon, by Steven Erikson, has basically died out, at about the 200-page mark. There are sooo many characters, I can't remember them all. I have to read several paragraphs and try to remember who the characters were, and what their previous storylines were about... then once I have the "aha" moment, I have to go back and re-read the paragraphs again.... it makes for tedious, un-fun reading. He's certainly not a bad writer, but really, it has sort of devolved for me into yet another gloomy end-of-the-world fantasy story, saturated with a buttload of characters, again, all with weird names that tend to blend into each other. If the series is 10 books long (or so), what's the rush? Why cram so many characters into it straight away? Focus on a few at a time, get them nice and solidified in the reader's mind, and then add a couple more, etc.

I'm trying to do that with my fantasy story. Though I have a similar problem, in that the world I'm building has a Council of six Wizards that rule, and each of them has a Steward that serves him. So when I introduce the Council to the reader, BOOM, right there is a group of 12 new characters. I've taken steps to try and simplify  things and make it easier for the reader to let these characters all settle in, but still, I think it is confusing as it stands. In fact, I have submitted the first couple Council chapters to the Writer's Group, along with my conundrum, for this coming-up Tuesday's meeting. We'll see if they have any advice on how to handle it.

Other Random Bits:
- Our head pastor is due to be back at church Sunday morning. Some of you might recall that he fell back in October and broke his leg. He's been a long time recovering - I haven't seen him since then. But we got the word last week that he intends to return Sunday. I went to the church today to fix the track lighting (I had moved all the lights for the Christmas play, and hadn't re-set them yet), so they'll be good to go for his return to the pulpit. I noticed that they have a tall chair for him to sit at now, rather than having him stand for the whole hour.

- I don't watch American Idol, but the Wagner Women do. I heard a lot of complaints from them when Paula Abdul left and Ellen Degeneres took her place. But they still watch it. I doubt they'll keep watching if the rumors are true about Howard Stern taking Simon Cowell's place next year... yikes.

- Logan posted the first trailer for the next Fallout game, which will be out this year, called Fallout: New Vegas. The trailer is artsy, in a sort of post-apocalyptic way, but it features no in-game footage, so I won't embed it here. Chances are, I will snap that game up the day it comes out. Fallout 3 was one of my favorite games last year.

- I haven't really been playing much lately, as far as computer games. A little Left 4 Dead, a little Torchlight, *yawn*. The most fun I've had gaming lately has been with Facebook Scrabble, but most of my opponents are silent the last couple days.

- Watched a couple movies recently, from Netflix. I watched Moon, which is an indy sci-fi flick starring Sam Rockwell, that was recommended to me by Kristopher. I'm not much for sci-fi, but it was a good flick. Some plot holes and leaps in logic, but that's to be expected with the genre. The other film I watched was In Bruges, with Colin Farrell. I'd seen it before, and wanted to watch it again. It's a bit too heavy on the profanity for my taste, but I liked the story and the acting, and it was just quirky and witty and fun. And the leading lady reminds me of someone from my past...

- Not sure the right way to ween myself off of caffeine. I've given up energy drinks completely, but I'm still getting me some Starbucks regularly. If I go a day or so without caffeine, I get a killer headache that starts in my neck and reaches up to rhythmically squeeze my brain into submission, in a uniquely merciless fashion. Ibuprofen's don't even help. It really is miserable. I had one of those headache today while I was going up and down the ladder at church, fixing the lighting. Not a good place to be when you feel like you're going to pass out. Anyway, I bought a macchiatto and took an ibuprofen, and about a half-hour later, I was golden again... but I don't know how long the headaches will last if I try and stop the coffee altogether.

Awesome product design, I think... 

That's enough bits and pieces for now. I'll let you know how the P90X thing goes...


Friday, February 5, 2010

There is No Speech or Language Where Their Voice is Not Heard (Psalm 19:3)

Listen... do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not tell?

Hey, don't freak out on me, I was just quoting a Beatles song! Sheesh!

I've sat down a couple times in the last few days to write a new post... the last post was on Feb 1st... it is now Feb 5.... that's a long time for me... I just didn't really have anything to say! I'd stare at the blank "new post" window and think, "Do I really want to just BS my way through a post, for the heck of it, or should I actually wait until I have something to say first?"

Things are good between the wifey and I of late. Past week and a half or so... it's encouraging, but I'm treading lightly... I don't want to mess it up... and I'd love to shake this feeling I always get that no matter how hard I try, I always mess things up... I think that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy sometimes. Deep down, I really want to do right by her, and be for her what she needs/wants... just because I'm not good at it doesn't mean I'll always fall short...

Granted, there's a lot I could say here, but it would make for uncomfortable reading...

Better shift gears...

My brother-in-law James has started a blog! Some of you might remember James - his shoe collection/fetish rivals that of my wifey... He's a big, buff guy. Weightlifter. He could snap me in half with little effort at all... anyway, I bring it up because he named his blog with perhaps the coolest blog name ever - which would be twice as cool to you if you knew him... he called it "James Explains It All"... isn't that an awesome blog name? I love it. He just has one post up so far - a brief one about the upcoming Super Bowl. Once he starts "explaining it all", I'll add a link to the sidebar over there on the right... but for now, HERE is the link, if you want to give it a quick peek. I don't know how often he'll update it yet... but he certainly is a man of many thorough opinions, so I look forward to seeing what comes of it, if anything...

Harsh segue! Ouch!

It says "Please wait" under the loading bar... lol...

A long time ago, in the early 90's, I worked for a professional artist - a sculptor named Malcolm Jones. I enjoyed that job - Malcolm and I became great friends. Shared a lot of laughs and even more conversations... Anyway, late nineties came, and I stopped working for him, mostly because my wrists couldn't take it any longer. There was a lot of sanding and polishing involved in my job, and while I always loved the sculptures that resulted from the efforts, the long-term carpal tunnel issues couldn't be ignored.

We sort of drifted out of touch, mostly because I'm such a hideous friend, in general. I've always been a loner, with my own little comfort zone. If I could maintain contact with a "friend" and it falls in the realm of my little daily routine, I can maintain it just fine... but if maintaining a friendship requires effort that takes me out of my safe little world/routine, it usually doesn't happen. Laziness? Fear? Apathy? Insecurity? Self-delusion? I don't know. You'd think picking up the phone now and then wouldn't be an issue for me, but it always is. I always think "Well, [this person] is probably busy and doesn't want to be disturbed, so I'll call another time." Or a similar lame excuse.

Bottom line, many years have passed since last I spoke to Malcolm, yet I have always (and will always) consider him one of my closest friends. Yeah, go figure.

But I'm planning on having lunch with him on Friday. I did it - I called him up. I clawed my way out of my comfort zone.

Every now and then, over the years, I've tried to find him online, but he doesn't have a website still. I want to make him one. As a gift, of course. I have a certain limited skillset now, when it comes to web site design, so I want to make him a site, and give him a web presence. It's the least I could do for him - and it will give us a reason to be in contact more regularly.

So I guess all that is just to say, I'm a lousy friend, but I'm improving. And I get to visit with Malcolm tomorrow! I haven't seen him since my brother's funeral, back in Jan of 2000.

Harsh segue! OUCH!

Check out the new look of the 75th anniversary Monopoly!

Crazy, eh? Read a bit more about it HERE and HERE

Going to fire off another 20 pages (or so) of my fantasy novel to the writer's group for this coming Tuesday's meeting... I'm really enjoying the re-writing process... I have to say, my story sure cleans up nice! I'm introducing a new set of characters this week to the group. They've had a couple weeks of Vye, Yanni, Abbie and Dave... gonna give them the Council and Stewards this week.

Valentines Day is coming up... do you know who your valentine is yet?

OK, I'm done for now. I hope your weekend is a great one.


Monday, February 1, 2010

He Shot His Arrows and Scattered the Enemies, Great Bolts of Lightning and Routed Them. (Psalm 18:14)


Quick post tonight. I think my lengthy rants are driving most people away. Probably a bad move to paste all that text in from that interview... I just thought it was thought-provoking. Or maybe it's the scripture verses in the titles that are off-putting... whatsamatter? You don't like the Psalms?

Anyway, I found an article on How Stuff Works about IMAX and what makes it different. Turns out there are two types of IMAX experiences - and one of them is projected on the inside of a dome-shaped screen! So I was sorta right! The main difference seems to be the size of the film that is used - about 10 times the size of traditional 35mm film. The pictures are orders of magnitude more detailed, so traditional movie-making shortcuts won't work. It makes filming much harder and more costly, and much slower as a result. The article says a normal movie can set up and capture between 10 and 12 shots a day, and the IMAX can do maybe 3. The equipment is bulky and unwieldy.

Anyway, there are other details on the differences/benefits, if you want to give the article a quick read, it is HERE.

On a completely unrelated note...

I remember reading last year sometime about a cat in a nursing home that seemed to know when one of the patients was about to die. It would hop up onto the patient and curl up on it, sort of on a vigil, and usually the person would pass away that day/night. They thought it was odd... none of the other cats exhibited such behavior...

Anyway, there's an updated article detailing the cat's continued exploits, which they have now written a book about. Apparently, the cat has accurately predicted 50 deaths now... they've even tested it by putting it on beds of patients that the staff thought were about to die, and it will bolt from the room. Then it will find another patient and stand vigil. The only explanation they can come up with is that it can somehow smell "ketones", which are apparently given off by cells that are dying en masse.

HERE is that article. Read it and marvel along with me!

Of course, the alternative explanation is that the cat is a villain, and is somehow killing these people for the insurance money! MUAHAHAHA!!!

As promised, I will end this post here. I have my weekly Writer's Club meeting on Tuesday night... a few more weeks and I can officially start being snobbish about it. There's a probationary period of 1 month before I'm allowed to start wearing the beret and the John Lennon glasses. At the six month mark, I can opt for the brandy snifter or the foot-long cigarette holder. I'm looking forward to that, of course.

Until we meet again!


Congrats to Abbie for demolishing me at Facebook Scrabble, getting a staggering 509 points. My high score is 495, which she laughed at as she flew by it... good work Abbie! Now get back to helping Vye to save the world already!