Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hope You Brought A Machete; Verbal Jungle Ahead

I'm gonna be all over the place tonight, and likely overly verbose -- you have been forewarned! Don't feel bad if you don't have the stomach or the patience to wade through it all. I realize you likely have better things to do with your time than to follow me through the underbrush of my mind...

Time to get my ramble on... first, a theological ramble. If theology annoys you, skip down to the video.

So I was walking the hill by my house tonight at sunset, just to get out of the house and get my head together, both for tonight's post and also just for life in general. I had my ipod plugged into my head, and I was listening to Alexander Scourby read through the Psalms in good ol' King James. Took about 15 minutes to walk the top, and then another 15 to walk back down. I love it when I turn around at the top - the view is spectacular, especially at sunset. I wish I'd had my camera.

Anyway, as the walk + psalms + solitude was working it's magic, I listened intently as Psalm 18 was being read. It really is a stirring chapter, full of imagery and strength. But a common refrain got me to thinking. At one point, King David waxes eloquent about his enemies. Up to this point, I was riding along vicariously, trying to tack myself emotionally onto King David as the Lord rent the heavens, came down and saved him, was his rock and fortress, rewarded him for his righteousness, strengthened his hands and taught him to war, etc. But the idea of enemies puzzles me a bit.

I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed. I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet... You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes.

And on he goes, about his enemies conspiring against him, and how God thwarted their plans, etc. I wondered if having enemies was part of being a Christian in good standing with God. I tried to think if I had any enemies. I can't think of a single person, in all of my realms of experience, that could be legitimately classified as an enemy. Is that normal? Without naming names, I know people that have grudges and strong antipathies for people - even other people in our church. Is that normal? Do all of you have people that you could actually consider enemies?

Sure, you could spiritualize it and claim the devil is the enemy, and demons, etc. That doesn't seem to be what King David is talking about. You could also spiritualize it by saying the enemies represent things in our personality that need overcoming, but that kind of smacks of narcissism to me. Sure, you could minimize it by saying it applied only to King David, since he was a King and definitely had enemies conspiring for his destruction. But then does the rest of the Psalm only apply to him as well? Sure, you could modernize it by saying "muslim extremists are our enemies, since they want to destroy America/Israel." But is that in any way an apt explanation? If I'm supposed to personalize Psalm 18 and learn about God and His characteristics through the details contained therein, do I skip over the "enemies" parts? I have friends, acquaintances and people who are neutral.

Who are your enemies? If you have a person that you consider your enemy, aren't you supposed to forgive/love them, eh? Is it healthy to have enemies? Should I find some, lol? How am I supposed to love my enemies if I don't have any? Maybe I have some and just don't recognize them as such...

For best results, high-def, full screen. Was driving with wifey the other day, and we watched a pair of hawks gliding on the breeze. She wondered aloud what it would be like to fly like that. I thought of this video. I don't think I could do that "in real life." I'm petrified of heights. Which is probably why I should do it.

So I have some pretty cool news. I didn't want to lead with it, because I'm hesitant to get too excited about it, in case it doesn't end up happening. But I can't keep it to myself anymore...

So, I'm sure most of you recall last year, when I went to a Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Qualifier here at the mall by my house in Escondido -- not to participate, silly! Just to watch it and report on it for this blog. Anyway, you may recall the controversy that arose surrounding my blog post of the results, and the accompanying video footage I posted. If you don't recall, here's the link to the post. Anyway, I really kicked the hornet's nest in the competitive eating world, without realizing it. They still talk about it on the sites, etc., to this day. I'd always wondered if anything would ever come of it. The guy who cheated wasn't disqualified, but his reputation has taken a hit, for better or worse. It's not like I wish ill on the guy or anything. He cheated, got caught, suffered minimal repercussions, life went on.

Or so I thought.

Got an email this past Friday night... from the director of a feature documentary about the world of competitive eating. He was pointed to the blog post I created, and was intrigued enough to contact me. Bottom line is, for whatever reason, he wants to interview me on film regarding the circumstances surrounding that particular event/blog post, for inclusion in the film, no doubt also making use of the video/photos I shot.

O_O  *stunned stare*

I reiterated (rather strongly) in a response to the director that I am a casual fan only, with no claim of knowledge beyond the bare minimum of the industry, but he said he'd like to interview me anyway. He's going to contact me again soon, and then (I assume) I'll drive up to LA. I checked him out, he's legit.

Aside from the fact that it's just flat-out wicked cool to think this might actually happen, most of you who read this blog regularly know it's always been a life goal of mine to appear in a movie, even a small part. I was talking to a friend about this very thing, not two days beforehand, and concluded that the effort required to network and pursue any sort of chance at being in a movie would be so time-consuming, and my attention span so short, that it will likely never happen... unless an opportunity just fell out of the sky.


I'll keep you posted. Again, I hesitate to get too stoked about it, since the opportunity could fall through for any number of reasons. And who knows if it will actually play in theaters, or just go straight to disc, or whatever. I may even just end up decorating the cutting-room floor. Still, it's ridiculously cool to me, even if I'm only on screen for a minute or two.

On a more somber (though still wordy) note, the idea of actually getting to be a quick "talking head" in a relatively-obscure documentary on competitive eating made me think of my old 'method acting' teacher from back in the day. About a decade ago, I took a couple year's of method acting classes here in San Diego, which was a rewarding (though surreal) experience. Today, I decided to look up my former teacher online (Allen Bridgwater), to see what he's up to... and found out he passed away this past February.

Perhaps my greatest acting-related memory stored away in my mental archive has to do with a class of his I took one time.

Allen had taken a few months off from teaching, and was starting the class back up again, with a large group of prospective new student in attendance to audit the class, to see if they wanted to start attending. So there were maybe a dozen people there, maybe more. That was big for his class, which was usually only about 3 or 4 students. Anyway, part of the class was working on monologues for audition purposes (when you audition for a role in a play, you have to have several different monologues polished and ready to perform, so the director/casting folks, etc can see your stuff). The monologues we worked on in class were usually between 2 and 3 minutes long. Being the first class back after a several month break, I didn't have a monologue in progress, so literally the day before, when Allen asked me if I'd perform a monologue before the class as a demonstration of what we do in class, I went out and bought a book of monologues, found one, memorized and tried to perform it for the class.

It was pretty miserable, as you could expect from less than a day's practice.

But I had recently written an Easter play, and had, for my own amusement, pulled a ten minute monologue out of one scene, and had it filed away in my brain. This was well beyond the three minute monologue that was requested, so initially, I didn't even consider it. But after performing the first one (rather poorly), in a fit of enthusiasm, I asked Allen (in front of the whole group) if I could perform a monologue I'd written. He said of course, so I sat and began my ten minute Peter monologue.

And, buddy, I nailed it. I was so in the zone, it wasn't even funny...

When I finished it, Allen asked me "Where... did THAT come from?" Getting praise from Allen was rare and tricky business... and I'd never seen him so stunned before. The rest of the night, he beamed. I was his pupil, you see...

I talked to a lady afterwards that said, "I felt like you'd pinned me to the wall. I couldn't move. I could barely breathe. If you had performed that monologue first instead of the other one, I would have got up and left the room and never returned. If that's typical of this class, I will never belong here."

Talk about beaming, I felt like Marlon friggin Brando that night.

Anyway, there were other cool moments in my "career", but whenever I'm feeling like a particularly worthless lump of offal, I think back on that night and smile. For a moment, for one evening, I felt like a king.

RIP Allen.

That segues rather seamlessly into my last question for the evening. I had a rather vivid dream, the details of which I'll spare you from, for lack of a way of clearly summarizing them. The bottom line, however, was that I woke up from the dream asking myself which part of my life, looking back on it, would I consider to be "the best time of my life." I've always had a lot to be thankful for. I've never been at a shortage of great people in my life. However, every era of my life I can think of was also rife with difficulties and unpleasantness of various kinds, and honestly, I don't know that I would want to revisit any of them, or even look back fondly on them.

Yeah, that probably sounds spoiled, I know. Again, for the most part, I have been blessed beyond measure. But the "best days of my life"? I don't know that I could correctly identify such. Perhaps that means my best days are ahead of me...

It brings to mind an online article I read recently, called 10 People's Lives in Famous Photographs, which tracked down information on the people in famous pictures. #3 on the list was the Afghani lady from that cover of National Geographic from back in 1984. I'm sure you know the picture...

In the article, there's a quote from her brother, when he was asked what his sister's life was like, he said, "[She] has never known a happy day, except perhaps the day of her marriage."

I know, it's all relative. I wasn't born into a country forever at war like this lady was. I could say, comparatively, all of my days have been happy days. Yet, I can't point to a time in my life and say, "Those were the best days of my life."

No best days, no enemies, no extremes, just middle-ground, don't shake the boat, slip through life on cruise control... perhaps, like Samson, I need to shake myself, wake up, and live.

Trying to redefine life at age 40, lol.

Wish me luck.

Dave the Rambler.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hope, Tragedy and Extreme Manliness

Hmm... I like the uniqueness of the straight road cutting through the lake... and the asymmetric layout (as opposed to centering the road in the shot), but really, the mountainsides just aren't interesting enough to really make the shot zing. If the clouds were more dramatic, maybe it would have held the pic together better...

Lemme see what else I have...

OK, this one was taken in Israel, so that's a plus, cuz... you know... Holy Land and all that. The trees are unique, and I like the grouping. The overall color scheme is balanced well, with the beige/brown half and the blue/white half... but the foreground is too bland for my tastes. And for some reason, it just seems a bit too muddy overall for me. Needs more contrast and crispness.Believe it or not, I'm most drawn to the extreme right and left sides of the shot, right on the horizon line.

Let's see what else I got...

THE PHOTO THAT WAS HERE was forcibly removed by a rabid band of alien invaders, let by a Man Named Aitor, who claims to have taken the picture and is deeply offended at my use of it in this venue... of course, no one but HE and I will ever know this, because no one will ever read this post again! MUAHAHAH!!!!  Love ya, Aitor! *smooch*

OK, what else do I have...

OK, now this is even better. The picture has a nice vertical division to it, and a nice nostalgic feel. Old time baseball fans will immediately recognize the person pictured, as well as his unique delivery. He is obviously about to pass wind on that little man in front of him there... but picking on midgets has never been amusing to me. Of course, the picture could have the contrast bumped up. And I'd photoshop a goatee and a birthday hat on him, plus add a picture of a young Buddy Hackett riding a giraffe in the background. Other than that, I think it's a keeper, but still not worthy to lead tonight's post.

The search continues... OK, what else have I got?

This one is striking. A sculpture carved from a melon. I'm sure it was under-ripe, so that the material was firm enough to carve. Brings to mind the old saying about "when life gives you melons, carve it into a sculpture," which I'm sure was the artist's initial inspiration for the piece. Not sure why the guy on the right has a tire around his neck. Perhaps it's for an ad for Goodyear or something. And thankfully, the lady of the left is facing the other way. She appears to be exposing herself - and this is a family blog, so we can't have any of that around here. But overall, good contrast and color distribution, and the proportions are good.

Still, not a worthy opening picture. Maybe somewhere in the main body of the post. But I need a good one to lead. What else have I got?

OK, a weinerdog in a hot dog bun. Now we're getting close... The concept is good, but the execution is not quite there. The dog's snout is cropped off, for starters, and the flash was a mistake, since the shot is washed out. And the bun is sort of falling apart, which speaks to me of gross amateurishness and impatience. I'm sure the photographer is a liberal, so I'll cut him some slack. He obviously lives alone, and that's sad... he had to take the picture himself, plus he owns a weinerdog.

Still, a swing and a miss....

And we have a winner! So, it looks like my good friend Dave-O has been hastily photoshopped into a field of sunflowers, while the Hindenburg explodes in the background, in glorious black and white. It is a touching tribute to the military on Memorial Day... it projects hope (sunflowers), tragedy (Hindenburg) and extreme manliness (Dave-O) all in one shot. To me, it says, "In life, you will have hay-fever. And occasionally, things will indeed be black and white, and they might blow up. But fear not! Dave-O will be there, to take out the jerks sneaking up on your six. And all will be well in the world."

So much, conveyed in such a simple, beautiful picture.

OK, now I can begin tonight's post.

What? We're done? How is that possible!

Ah, well. I can't argue with the blog's sponsors. If I do, they'll send Baldie and Blondie back to torment me... can't have that.

Adios for now.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Selective Amnesia, Shredded Worlds and Epic Beards

Is it the weekend yet? Hold on, lemme check what day it is... Thursday! Yay! See, when you're really hip and cool, like me, it's a positive thing to not know what day it is. Yep, a nice, beautiful August day here in sunny Milwaukee...


So, I told you at the end of the last post that I had a surprise for you, if you behaved in the interim. Well, most of you behaved well enough (except for you, Paula! You miscreant!). So here is your surprise.

A new Wagnervana comic strip! Woot woot!

I'm going to post it in two parts.

That should display big enough to read. If not, click to enlarge.

I also redesigned the webcomic page on my Wagnervana site. I made the page a blog (instead of a gallery), and each comic strip is in its own post. Now I can add notes to each one and you can add comments and tell me how much you love me! See? I'm so insecure, I've lost all tact and decorum when it comes to eliciting love!

I was re-reading some of the old ones. They make me laugh.

I really need to go back to doing smaller strips... 6 panels, at the most. This one was fun, but I'm embarrassed to admit, it took me about 14 hours total to get it to its current form. There are still little details to tinker with, including inconsistent shading, and other details (like the missing monitor artwork in panel 10 - you can see the wall poster behind the monitor), and I'd like to add some more little fun(ny) touches here and there, if possible. [EDIT: fixed panel 10, and more tweaks. Added Mel Gibson, lol]

Another thing that made this strip unique was that it's the first strip (or project of any kind, really) that I created using my new Wacom tablet input device. Check it out...

It can be used as a touch-screen, like a laptop has, or I can use the pressure-sensitive pen to draw with. I'm sure you could tell the (hopefully not distracting) variations in pen widths in all the panels. It makes it feel more like actually drawing. I picked the technique up quickly. Before this, I would do all the drawing with the mouse, which was fine, I suppose, since it was all I knew.

Now I know better!

OK, enough shameless self-absorption.

Saw this amazing set of "before/after" pictures from Joplin after that insane tornado a few days ago. Saw it on Bits and Pieces. The guy that runs that site has a fascination like I do, regarding the crazy destructive power of nature.

Kind of takes your breath away, doesn't it. That people can bounce back from things like this is amazing to me. Brings to mind the tsunami videos I peppered you with a month or two ago. Tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes... I wonder which one is the most pants-soaking frightening event to experience first hand? I've ridden out my fair share of mild earthquakes, which to this point have actually been kind of fun. Beyond that, I can only imagine what it's like to see a mile-wide, 200MPH whirling vortex of doom and destruction bearing down on you, with nowhere to run.

I better lighten the mood back up again...

I think that's enough goofiness for now. I've collected a lot of fun stuff to share with you of late. I may bump up the frequency of new posts for a while.

Stay tuned!

Dave the Absurd

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dave Is Moody; Enter at Your Own Risk...

Pull up a chair and stay for a spell, eh? Good... good... now... let me just think up a really hard word for you to spell...

Greetings, y'all, Dave the Moody here for another blast of hot air in blog form. Art thou prepared?

Being moody and stuff, I thought I'd post some cool (to me) music and some intriguing (to me) photos, just to kick the angst level up a bit. Cuz sometimes I can be all serious. I'm not just all about being goofy and juvenile... and to prove it, I'm going to start of with a song called The Wind.

Now, wait, hear me out here. This has nothing to do with flatulence. It's actually a song that I've known and loved for years - and it popped up the other day when I had my iPod on shuffle, and it took me away, to a better place. You know how it is when you're in "a mood" and a song comes on that comes pre-loaded with a lot of personal accoutrements and emotional tack-ons, such that when it first starts, you're whisked away.

Well, this is one of those songs for me. It really is called The Wind, and it's by CeCe Winans.

If it doesn't do anything for you, then just skim the lyrics and move on...

The Wind by CeCe Winans
With all of my heart I know I could love you
But with all of my soul I'm driftin' away
And with all of my mind I know you can save me from
myself, and anything else 
With all of my strength I wanna reach out for you
With every breath, call out your name
With every step I just want to turn around and say
Make it okay 
But I'm so afriad you've forgiven one too many times
And I'm so afraid to give my heart again
Just to have a change of mind
And I'm not quite sure that you can trust me
And I would hate to have you find me again
Driftin' away like the wind 
With all of my heart I know I disappointed you
And altough I'm real sorry I don't know how to say this time
But if I were to lose you I know, I know I'd go completely
Out of my mind, but I'm running out of time 
But I'm so afriad you've forgiven one too many times
And I'm so afraid to give my heart again
Just to have a change of mind
And I'm not quite sure that you can trust me
And I would hate to have you find me again
Driftin' away like the wind 
It blows and nobody know where it's goin' to (Like the wind)
It blows and nobody know what it's gonna do (Like the wind)
At night you can hear it cry as the teardrops fall
From Heaven's eyes and somehow you know it's true
These tears that fall could be fallin' for you 

OK, so that's that. Yeah, I know, it probably doesn't do much for anyone else, but hey, it's my blog, and I'm Dave the Moody today, so there it is!

I've come across some photos recently that seem to me to tell entire stories by themselves. There's an art to that, I think. The best ones sort of pull you in and take you somewhere. Gee, have you detected tonight's theme yet? Sheesh!

Anyway, check this pic out, and see what it stirs within you...

Now, don't freak out, the photo was set up that way - it wasn't a photo-journalist, "capture a real life moment" type of thing. Still, from a story-telling standpoint, this picture is remarkable to me.

Here's another... same photographer. It's a portrait this time...

He reminds me of a character in a fantasy novel somewhere. A mage, or a silent warrior type. Maybe even with a strong religious facet, in spite of the black clothing. I don't know... something about his look says good, rather than evil to me.

Here's another one...

Honestly, I don't recall where this was taken. Still, I can't help but look at it and wonder about the people that passed through this set of rooms, and what they were doing. I wonder what the rooms were used for. Those look like benches rather than beds (too short), so I don't think they were sleeping quarters. Seems like a cool setting, whatever it is/was.

Better throw another song in here...

Around the house lately, it's been all about Christina Perri. The girls introduced me to her a couple days ago, and I really dig her voice and style - like an edgier Norah Jones. Check this songs out - it's quite cool. It's called Black and Blue.

That was supposedly recorded live. If so, kudos to her. She sounds great live.

I've never been big on going to live concerts. The few I've been to have had certain things in common.

  • Way too loud. Ruins the enjoyment when the volume is that high, IMO.
  • People standing up in front of me (often on their chairs) so I can't see. I don't want to stand, or have to sit the whole time looking at backsides instead of the stage, thank you!
  • They never sing the songs the way I know them. Yeah, I know that's part of the intrigue for some folks, hearing different versions of the songs they know. Me, I like the songs as they play on the CD...
  • Crowds bug me to begin with. That's just a personal issue with me. Being surrounded by a sea of people unnerves me for some reason.
  • Not a fan of the type of "smoke" that often wafts about from the other concert-goers.
  • Ticket prices are ridiculous.

 All things considered, if I like a band, I'd rather save the cash, the angst, and the headache and just stay home and listen to their music on my computer. I guess I'm old after all.

Well, I warned you I was moody tonight! What did you expect? Something uplifting? Whining is very rarely uplifting...

OK, well, I think I'll quit while I'm behind, and call this post done. I have other goofy things to bring to you soon, including a surprise, if you behave...

Until then.

Dave the Cracked.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hedges, Unjins, Rocketmen and Elephants.

Hey, remember that time I updated my blog, right in the middle of the weekend? On Saturday night, when no one in their right mind would be around to read a blog post? I mean, you all have things to do, places to go, people to see, all manner of fun and useful and productive activities to partake of. Yep, that's my collection of blog readers for you... hip, beautiful, intelligent, cool, strong, rich, semi-famous... and so I write this, alone, in an empty blog room... the soft sounds of lonely keystrokes, hunting and pecking in time with the click-click of the second hand on my wall clock... in an office that is at once too hot and too cold... a hundred different thoughts slowly whirling around inside my mostly-vacant head...

Only one thing to do.

Run around unclothed, waving my arms like Kermit the Frog!


Aww, yeah, that works!

Wait... oh, no! My webcam was on! And recording! And streaming live to the CNN website! Doh!

OK, so where to start? Today I went over to Pastor Stan's house and helped him trim the giant hedge out in front. Speaking of Kermit arms, my arms felt about as strong as Kermit's look, after about a half-hour. On top of a ladder, arms outstretched holding an electric hedge trimmer out, trying to reach as far over toward the center as possible... gads, I am so weak! Too much time in front of a computer, I guess. Arms all shaky, like a newborn. I felt foolish. Thankfully, Stan was on the other side, so no one saw how weak I am... except the Holy Ghost! And He was taking notes! I think He even shot a video. I hope it doesn't show up on God's blog any time soon! How embarrassing!

I took some "before and after" pictures of the hedge... but honestly, you can't really tell the difference!

I didn't get the angle right. Trust me, we worked on that sucker for about 3 hours!

Ah, well. At least I have a nice neck sunburn to show for it. I didn't even think about sunscreen. Plus, Stan gave me a couple onions from his garden, too! Lemme dart into the kitchen and grab a quick pic, you gotta see these...

Check out those bad boys! Yep, straight from the garden. How many other blogs would post a picture of unjins, like me? None! That's right, just me. Me and my unjins. That's the type of content that you tune in for. Vegetation, both edible and inedible!

So, some of you might recall how I'd like to some day own (or at least drive) a Mini Cooper. Yeah, I know, I've wanted a BMW forever, you're right... but BMW makes the mini Cooper! So it's almost the same thing! Anyway, here's the version I want... it's called the Rocketman. It's just a concept car at this point... but who knows what the future holds!

The doors kind of pop out instead of swinging out, and the trunk space can pop out, like sliding open an ash tray. Impractical, but very cool, eh! Actually, I could say that about the whole car... not practical, but quite cool. You gotta see the interior. I didn't want to post all the pictures here -- go check out this link, and read about it, and see all the pictures. I should photoshop myself inside that pic, so it looks like I'm driving it. Yeah... gee... that would be cool. O_O

It occurred to me recently that I've been doing photoshop tricks since before photoshop existed. In fact, before Windows existed! Let me explain... I was in high school (back in the DOS days), must have been 10th grade. 11th? I don't know. Anyway, I had a boring World History textbook for one of my classes that I thought could use a little spicing up...

I had a gigantic stash of skateboard magazines at home, so in a fit of boredom-inspired creativity, I began cutting pictures out of my magazines, carefully trimming the skateboarders out of the pictures, and then scotch-taping them into the pictures in my textbook. I would trim the scotch tape so that it just barely extended beyond the edge of cut-out shape, and when I taped it into the pictures, I'd smooth the tape down with my thumbnail, to minimize glare and any bubbles/creases in the tape. I would match the color and proportion of the cut-out as closely as possible to the textbook picture, so that at first glance, you wouldn't really notice the skater in there. But if you looked closely, yep, there's Rodney Mullen in the background of the famous black-n-white picture of the 1945 Meeting in Yalta between FDR, Churchill and Stalin! And Tommy Guerrero street-planting in the background of the pic of Richard Nixon's historic 1972 trip to China!

Gads, I spent countless hours doing that. I turned the book back in at the end of the school year. I often wonder what the student thought who got the textbook the next year... I'm sure it's long gone. Wish I had it still.

And now, from the blog archives, the Three Stooges pie fight scene!

OMG, I'm sorry. Call me a simpleton, but I laugh like a fool every time I watch that. Of all the great moments in that clip, I think the "triple slap" near the end was the most sublime... for some reason, that really does it for me...

And now, a Lord of the Rings - Fifth Element fantasy/sci-fi mashup comic...

Come on... that's funny... if you didn't get it, you're not dorky enough...

If you get a chance, go check out Shellie's new blog banner, at her blog Layers of Thought. Wow, it's amazing! Makes me think I should modify mine soon... I am nothing if not lemming-like...

And now, finally, Tim Conway's "Elephant Story" blooper from a taping of the Carol Burnett Show, back in the day...

Of course, I have a truck-load of other stuff to post, but I'll get to it soon, fear not. I'll wait for a weekday, so there's more people around here. It's kind of quiet. Peaceful.

Maybe everyone got raptured after all! O_O

Dave the Goof

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rambling Listlessness and Pseudo-Contemplation. In Other Words, Business as Usual.

That is a breath-taking picture! Which is annoying, really. I mean, I need my breath, thank you very much! I can't go around passing out now can I? Probably subjective anyway. Some of you probably look at that picture and go, "meh, whatever." I guess it's that way with all art. I won't name names, but I know someone who literally stole my breath once when she walked into the room. I always thought a woman being "breath-takingly beautiful" was a movie myth. Nope, it happened to me that once. Felt like I'd been hit in the stomach! Once is enough - I felt guilty enough about it at the time, I wouldn't want it happening again...

Well, it sorta got uncomfortable in here, didn't it!? Better change the subject...

WARNING: Gratuitous Self Analysis Coming!

Today was an odd day. As usual, I'm riding the ups-and-downs of the 'Turning 40 Roller Coaster'. Today was tough. Sometimes I feel so out of place in my life. When I divide my life into its major components (work, church, home life, etc.), in every area I feel like an outsider looking in, trying to fit in among people/places that don't quite feel welcoming, or comfortable, or something. Shoe on the wrong foot, that sort of thing. Close, but not quite right.

So I left work for a while. I ate something for lunch, and then I actually went to see a movie, for the first time since I saw Inception (eons ago). I saw Thor, in the 3D-IMAX theater in Miramesa, just so I could unplug my brain and coast for a while. The movie was better than I'd thought it would be. In fact, it was worth the price of admission just to watch the closing credits, which featured some computer-generated visuals of coursing through outer space, with nebulae and galaxies and star formations, etc, all swirling around. It may sound lame, but trust  me... in 3D on the big IMAX screen, it was amazing.

Yeah, I know... how depressing to go to a movie alone, eh? Actually, I didn't mind. I think I needed it. The movie was oddly inspiring to me.

Gads, this blog post is going downhill fast. I better move on...

So, what am I reading lately? Here, let me show you!

First I wrote it, then I read it! I will now do a review...

Actually, if I really did write such a title, it would be more of a pamphlet than a legitimate book like that. The list of people I'd like to punch is short, thankfully. Although I'm sure I could stretch that list out to fill a book by adding some quality illustrations....

Honestly, though, I'm a bit burnt out on reading at the moment. I read a bit of The Way of Kings (Sanderson) -- and it really is quite good. But each chapter introduces a new character set, and my head is still so full of The Song of Ice and Fire, I'm finding there's isn't much room in there for a whole new cast at the moment. I think I'll just give reading a break for a week or so, and see how it plays out.

Confession Time:
Sometimes I find myself thinking along these lines: "Man, if everyone in the world was more like me, there'd be no murder or rape or assaults or adultery or theft, etc. etc. The jails would have a few speeders in there, a jaywalker or two, perhaps a little 'disturbing the peace' for breaking wind in public, and that's it! What a wonderful world it would be!" How narcissistic is that!? That's like world-class level narcissism. Of course, it's also flawed logic. I'm sure everyone wouldn't need to be "more like me" for that stuff to disappear... if they all had a wonderful, supportive group of friends and family, like I do, and great kids, a job, two paid-off cars, a nice house to live in, etc. Man, I have got SO much to be thankful for. Take any or all of that away from me, and who knows? Perhaps if the pressure was great enough (pressure that many other people have to operate under every day), I may resort to the types of behaviors I dismissed above. So much of it is situational.

Well, this could possibly be my last post! That is, if Harold Camping is correct and the "rapture" happens on Saturday. I don't mean to come across as needlessly condescending, but what, may I ask, is wrong with these people? What possesses some people to come up with these "end of the world" doomsday predictions? What bugs me isn't that these "spiritual leaders" look like fools afterwards, or that they give religious folks a bad name/rep (they have that already), it's that they seem to attract these sincere followers who believe them and often make drastic changes to their lives in preparation for The Big Day. This guy Camping seems to have a whole host of folks behind him on this. What will happen to their faith once Saturday comes and goes and all is the same? Hopefully, it will simply be a case of temporary disillusionment and not too many suicides (not without precedent in such cases as these, sadly).

All that to say, what a pantload.

And now, Dad of the Year candidate #206.

I've heard of Bring Your Daughter to Work Day, but this is ridiculous!

OK, well, this was a rambling, listless post that failed rather miserably at projecting some semblance of depth of conversation. What can I say? It's where I'm at today. If you made it this far, you have my appreciation. If you leave a comment, I'll send you a 10-pound bag of teriyaki beef jerky as a thank you.

Dave the Gump

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sandfalls, New Things and Inner Canadians, Eh.

Greetings, earthlings! How's it goin', eh? Eh? (I'm channeling my inner Canadian, eh.)

The week is off to a roaring start! And by 'roaring', of course, I probably mean 'gassy'. You know how juvenile I am. I'm an 8th-grader trapped in a 40-year-old body. And as such, I think certain baser things are interesting and/or amusing.

Things like this!

Aw, yeah... steampunk wedding cake figurines. How cool would it be to use that on your wedding cake, eh? I'd do it, if I could go back in time. Of course, if I could go back in time, I wouldn't have worn a white tuxedo at my wedding either. Actually, now that I think on it, if I could go back in time...

Nah, better not go there...

We're all time travelers, in a way, if you think on it. It's just we all travel forward in time a day at a time, that's all...

Harsh segue! Ow!

If I could redesign my house, I'd buy the following new junk...

Of course, I'd start with the couch that converts into bunk beds... not sure about the color, though... I'd have to go with white, since then it would be impossible to keep clean...

I'd get diningroom chairs with big numbers on them, so I could crack lame puns during dinner, depending on the chair I was in. ("Boy, I eight so much food!" "I'm in three at last, three at last, thank God Almighty etc..." "Hey, what is this chair four again?" "I have to go number two" etc.)...

The perfect clock for the raging phlegmatic within... go ahead, eh... ask me what time it is, eh... (I guess I'm a phlegmatic Canadian).

And this wicked-cool multi-function stool. I wonder if it spins around and around, eh? Eh? I like the arm-rest. That way I have a place to set my energy drink before accidentally bumping it off with an errant elbow...

And finally...

Ah, yes. A bathroom with a view. Of course, this would mean I'd have to move into a high-rise. Unless I want a view of my neighbor's untrimmed hedges.

Oh, wait... those are MY untrimmed hedges! O_O

Here, check this video out. It will appeal to the inner Canadian child-slash-raging mathematician in you...

Holy mackerel... it took me forever to type "mathematician" correctly! I don't think I've ever typed that word in my life before. It looks weird, doesn't it? I misspelled it seven different ways before the red line disappeared. And here I thought I wuz so smert...

At least I didn't spell "correctly" incorrectly. That would have been ironic. I could have accidentally spelled it "colorectally"... what a pain in the butt that would have been...



OK, fine, I'll change the subject.

So I dressed up as a greaser today for work. Not intentionally, mind you. Yanni pointed it out. I had on jeans, a white t-shirt and my black leather jacket. I even had my hair sorta slicked back. The only thing that ruined the greaser look was the pair of red stiletto heels I wore...

Speaking of untrimmed hedges, I'm growing my beard out again. It's getting all bushy and unmanageable and wild, I love it. I'll be eating locusts and wild honey before I know it. Here, it's been a while since I pandered to my sense of narcissism and posted a head-shot. I shall now indulge. Behold, the beard!

I posted it small, so I wouldn't scare the children and small animals. You'll have to click it to see it bigger, if you're feeling intrepid. But be careful! That nose pops out like it's 3D!

Still, you gotta admit, that's an impressive beard. No one would argue that...

Ah, well... can't please everyone, eh? Eh?

Hey, Osama, someone's at the door for you! MUAHAHAHAHA!!!

Adios, y'all.

Dave the Goof

Friday, May 13, 2011

Prisons, Pencils, Portraits and Paul Simon.

What?! Another seaside landscapey picture? What is that, Dave, about the 10,000th one you've led a blog post with?

Yes, as a matter of fact... hey, I'm nothing if not a master of the cliché... Here, let me distract you with a Funny Picture... yeah, I've never done THAT before!

Come on, admit it... that's a good one...

What can I say? It's what I do. It's what this blog is all about... purrrrty shots of nature, absurd pictures and video clips, interesting (aka "borderline-useless") tidbits scoured from the web, and occasional pieces of info from my day-to-day life. Toss it all into a blender and hit "frappe" twice a week, and there you go. Blog magic.

Or "soul-trying tedium", whichever works for you...

Remember when I used to do a Daily Spoonerism? Remember? No? Well, I guess you just had your plans for the weekend changed, then, didn't you. Now you get to go back through the archive and read every one of my posts, from the beginning. Yep, from waaaay back when only my mommy and Havah were reading it. Ah, the good old daves...

Actually, don't do it. It will make you long for a root canal procedure to distract you. Actually, reading through all those early posts will likely numb you enough to go ahead and have the root canal done, pain-free.

Oh, a spoonerism? Um, ok... lemme think... how about "Ground beef" or "bound grief", which one? I may have used that one before. If so, apologies. You'll have to scour the archive and find out... MUAHAHAHA!!!!

OK, enough of that hot air. Here's a cool video clip.

Apparently, at a recent Paul Simon concert, he announced the next song he was going to play, and a lady near the front called out that she learned to play guitar by playing that song. So he invited her up to play it!

I should have rick-rolled you there, but I'm too classy for that.

That's a cool video clip. She'll remember that forever. Have you ever seen anyone so happy? She'll be his biggest fan forever after that. Reminds me of that time Joe Abercrombie left a quick comment on my blog that time. Man, that took him from being just one of many authors I was trying out, all the way to tops on my list, just for taking 30 seconds to leave a quick comment. I'll always have a spot in my heart for that man, great writing notwithstanding. That's called "building a legion of rabid fans, one reader at a time." If I ever get published, I'll be sure to do the same.

Actually, if I ever even finish a first draft, I'll throw a party for the whole world...

Speaking of great authors, I fired up The Way of Kings (Sanderson) today, and slooowly savored the very opening prologue of that book again. I tell ya, it is such a short prologue, but I have never seen (or imagined) anything so potent in all my reading experience. In 3 short pages, in the immediate aftermath of an awesome battle, Sanderson not only conveys an incredible sense of epic centuries-spanning action, but effectively sets the stage for a gigantic series. Masterful does not begin to describe it. I really should post it here in it's entirety, but I might get in trouble for that. Instead, trust me, do yourself a favor, and go download the free sample of The Way of Kings from Amazon, and just read the opening. It is marvelous. I can't imagine another author being able to accomplish so much, so effectively in even twice the pages. It is a remarkable accomplishment. So much so that I went back and re-read it right away before moving into Chapter One.

EDIT: Here, I found the part on Sanderson's website, so you don't have to download anything. Go over and read it directly from the site. It's a bit hard on the eyes (black background, tan letters), but well worth it, and brief. Tell me it's not the most amazing fantasy-series opener ever.

And now, grown-up Calvin and Hobbes...

That's a cool piece of fan art. If you follow THIS LINK, you can go to another fan page where an artist created comic strip with a different take on a grown-up Calvin and Hobbes that is very well done (Calvin is an adult, has married Susie, and they have a daughter named Bacon, lol). I wonder if he'll be able to do many more strips before the legal powers-that-be send him cease and desist orders?

I think I'm giving up on Portrait of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. It was very good for a few chapters, then slipped quietly into tedious. I may skim ahead a bit and see if it hooks me again, but right now, the wonderful phrasing has been replaced by lame dialog and ridiculous character choices.

Summer is almost here. Just thought I'd let you know... in case, you know, you, like, haven't looked at a calendar in a while. Ah, summer! That means working every day while my family goes to the beach without me! Ahhh!!! That means trying to remember to apply suntan lotion to my left arm so I don't burn as I drive to and from work. It means trying to resist the urge to buy myself things I don't need, with money I don't have! It means complaining on my blog like a whiny little child that I'm going to turn another year older in August! It means-- ok, now I'm depressing myself. Better change subjects...

There is an artist named Dalton Ghetti that carves pencil lead into cool little sculptures. That key is just a quick example. You really need to hop over to his website and scroll through his gallery. Some of them are amazing. Click THIS LINK to go check it out. You'll (likely) be glad you did.

Ever have one of those times when something huge happens in your life and you can't share about it on your blog, for a variety of reasons? Yeah, I hate when that happens...

OK, I suppose that's enough randomness for now. I'll round up some more and post again soon. Hope y'all have a great weekend.

Dave the Gump

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lethargy, Liquification and Literature

Those are some strong clouds, eh? Of course, there was likely some contrast tweaking in Photoshop, but hey, you can't argue with the results...

Here, let me post another, since I have several in my archive...

Even better, methinks... I wonder where that is?

I have a confession to make... I have nothing interesting to mention tonight. Nothing at all. Nothing happened, save the usual regimen of work, church, and sleep, mixed with a little game playing and book reading. Granted, a dearth of interesting things to write about has never stopped me before. So I'll just start typing and see what happens...

I guess I'll start here... a new type of bull-fighting...

Kind of evens the odds a bit more, eh? (Pardon the oxymoron...)

Hey, Logan, this is sort of up your alley, as far as having a possible explanation as to what is happening. A few weeks ago, after the tsunami, I posted a video of the ground shifting in a park over there in Japan, on some reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay. Here's another more intense video, apparently filmed a few weeks after, and the shifting seems to be worse. Any idea where this might lead?

Kinda freaky, to say the least... I'll be curious to hear your thoughts...

So, you'll never guess what I'm currently reading...

Back when I first got my iPad, I downloaded a few free classic books, and promptly forgot about them. Among them was Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I meant to delete the file unread, since I have way too many other titles clamouring for my attention, but instead, I inadvertently clicked it and it opened to chapter one, so I started reading.

I don't know if you're familiar with Oscar Wilde, but if you've never read anything of his, I highly recommend this book. His style is amazing! I can't think of another writer that is so fascinatingly, blatantly impressed with himself. His phrasing is incredible! I've highlighted a bunch of great lines so far. Here, lemme grab a couple... these are just from the first couple chapters...

"I am told that pork-packing is the most lucrative profession in America, after politics." 
"I always like to know everything about my new friends, and nothing about my old ones." 
"The seat on her left was occupied by Mr. Erskine of Treadley, an old gentleman of considerable charm and culture, who had fallen, however, into bad habits of silence, having, as he explained once to Lady Agatha, said everything that he had to say before he was thirty." 
"... she was so dreadfully dowdy that she reminded one of a badly bound hymn-book." 
"To get back one's youth, one has merely to repeat one's follies." 
"Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense..." 
"... but he sat like one under a spell, smiles chasing each other over his lips..." 
"She was a curious woman, whose dresses always looked as if they had been designed in a rage and put on in a tempest." 
"Men marry because they are tired; women, because they are curious: both are disappointed." 
"Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals." 
"As for conversation, there are only five women in London worth talking to, and two of these can't be admitted into decent society."

That's just a small sampling... page after page, paragraph after paragraph, it's like eating a non-stop dessert. Granted, those are lines pulled out of context, yet I still enjoy them thoroughly. Within their context, they are even better. I may actually do a book review when I'm finished! On a book from an author who died in 1900! The story itself is rather tepid at this point, but the dialog and phrasing is delightful.

I don't know much about the author. Apparently, he was quite a hedonist, and died young (46, I believe). He's either brilliant, or a world-class BS artist. I'm not quite smart enough to know which one just yet. I'll get back to you.

My dream house may have a rooftop pool... How "wilde" is that?

I don't know what to say... I'm pretty lethargic today. All things considered, I enjoy my manic moods a bit better. They produce better blog posts, at least... this one is kind of bland. My apologies.

Well, lemme regroup and hit it again soon. Hopefully, something in here piqued your interest a bit...

Dave the Goof