Friday, September 30, 2011

Death, Distraction and the Christmas Juggernaut

Sailing away, up into Heaven...

Well, it appears this past TNT church camp we had in July 2011 will be the last one we have with Dr. Diane, who passed away on Thursday 9/29. I can't describe how huge a bummer that is to me. On the one hand, yeah, she's "in a better place" and all, I get it. I'm happy for her in that regard. Still, she kind of held a unique position in my heart as perhaps the only person I could safely rely upon to hear and know what God was up to. There's a void there now for me; it will be interesting to see if/how God chooses to fill that.

Regardless, it was quite unexpected. Certain people you just assume will live forever. I hate that "sucker punch to the stomach" feeling you get when someone is just suddenly not there anymore. I learned a ton from that lady. And the fact the last time I saw her she looked me in the eye and told me that she considered me one of her "sons" just makes it that much more difficult to swallow.

I could go on at length here, but I won't. I'll just post a couple pictures in her memory, and then move on like all was well in the world. My life is richer because I knew her. I guess that's all a person can hope for, in the end; to make a lasting impact while there is time. She won't be forgotten any time soon.

That's her, in the middle, bottom row, in the pink hat. That's from this past camp, three months ago.

I don't have any good pictures of her smiling, in my archive. 
Which is odd, since it seemed to me she was always smiling.

She carried a ton of wisdom in that frail frame.

Anyway, God speed, Dr. Diane, wherever you are.


So, the Christmas season approacheth. That means Christmas Drama Time! That usually signifies the beginning of about 12 weeks of stress and teeth-pulling, to get a Christmas play/pageant going. We're going to do something a bit different this year, and I'm actually pretty stoked about it. We're going to take one of the sunday school Christmas plays in my archive and redo it... but I'm going to re-write and flesh out the script more, adding more scenes and making it so that adult actors can also participate. The script (called The Beginning) was originally intended for the youth, and when we performed it (10 years ago) the cast was all kids, high school and younger. I love the idea of adding more meat to it, perhaps doubling the length, and strengthening the cast. I already have a bunch of ideas. And the fact that it's been 10 years since we did the play is pretty cool as well. It will sort of be like a 10th Anniversary Director's Cut version or something. It also happens to be the one play that I posted online that gets the most use, as far as emails I get each year from people who produce the play.

Bah, sorry, I'm bummed. Lemme dig out a funny video clip from my archive. See if it cheers me up.

Hmm... almost worked. Lemme try again...

Ah, the classic Wooden Spoon prank...

Hmm... still didn't work. Maybe posting something funny isn't what I'm supposed to do... 

Here, this seems more fitting... High Def, full screen, please...

Yeah, that works...

And now, for the random link of the day, CLICK HERE to see an article that shows what happens when one weird fellow decides to apply a layer of paint to the same baseball every day for 34 years. I'll give you a hint: it currently weighs about 1,300 pounds... it's a pretty cool article, really. It shows pictures throughout the years as the size slowly grows... currently over 22,000 layers of paint... I guess it takes a strange, quirky sort of fellow to do such a thing... 

I'd post a picture of it, but when I right-click on one to "save as", a scary copyright notices pops up. And you know how timid and spineless I am... of course, I could easily circumvent it by merely taking a screen cap, pasting into photoshop, cropping it and saving it to my hard drive... but I'm not going to risk prison time for it! I mean, I doubt you'd come and visit me in jail. I know how busy you are! And here I thought we were friends... *sigh*

Well, speaking of copyright violations, lemme see if I have any funny comics to post...

There, that's from the webcomic Left Handed Toons (By Right Handed People). It's a funny strip. CLICK HERE if you want to read more... maybe since I linked back to their site, they won't send me to prison...

I think I've sufficiently traveled all over the map in this post. I might as well end it. It's so quiet in here all alone! If you happen to be reading this, by all means, leave a comment! All the cool people leave comments. And you're cool, right?


Dave the Uncool

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Music, Plays, Books, Movies and Other Vacuous Forms of Entertainment...

Yes, I know waterside photos are kinda cliched, but there's something about the clouds and the dash of sun that captures me in this shot. And no, I don't think there's too much mud in the foreground... I kinda like the balance and mood.

Wow, when did you become so critical of my choice in opening landscape shots!? Geez, settle down! Or I'll say "Geez" again!

OK, I have to start with Marc Martel. Just caught this guy tonight while scrolling through Bits and Pieces... this guy has incredible talent. He basically just recently went viral with this particular clip, but he has quite a collection of great clips already in his YouTube Channel...

In this clip, he is auditioning for a live Queen Homage tour being put together by one of the members of the original band. This guy channels Freddy Mercury like you can't believe...

There are other clips, as I said. One where he plays Asleep In The Light by Kieth Green, and still another where he sings Nessun Dorma, to show he can belt out Opera as well. He's actually in a Christian band called Downhere. Anyway, I figured I'd plug him here, since no doubt he's going to be big, likely soon...

So yet again, I had a crazy-awesome blessing fall out of the sky onto my head Monday night... as many of you know, years ago, I posted a bunch of the Christmas plays I've written over the years to a website online called Dramatix, a site which I heard of through a friend on the Faithwriter's forum named Glenn Hascall.  The site has assembled lots of free scripts for churches to use for various occasions. Anyway, since posting them online for free about a decade ago, I get emails each year from around the globe, from churches and groups that are using one of the scripts. That's the only stipulation I include for use, just to let me know if you're using it, and say a quick hello, that sort of thing. Getting those emails always cheers me up, no matter what. It's nice to know I'm making an impact somewhere, no matter how small.

So I get an email from the guy that runs Dramatix and (long story short) he tells me that an American group (possibly educational in nature) had found one of my scripts on the Dramatix site and included it in a printed publication. They then forwarded the royalty payments for using the script to the organization in New Zealand that oversees the distribution of said monies to the authors in question (the Dramatix site is based in New Zealand). That group then forwarded the check to the gentleman that runs Dramatix, with instructions to please forward the money to the author of the script -- meaning me! So he contacted me, and now I have a rather substantial check coming to me in the mail, all out of the blue.

To say I'm blown away is an understatement. I certainly never thought the scripts would ever result in any sort of financial gain. I just wanted to share what I felt were fun, meaningful scripts with others, instead of just letting them gather dust in my archive. My sister thinks I should gather my scripts up into an eBook and offer them for sale on Amazon. Not sure if I'll do that, but it's food for thought. Anyway, I thought it was a way-cool thing to have happen (kind of like getting filmed for that documentary last spring).

So I've been reading a lot of free sample chapters of new books/authors lately, and I've found a few gems...

  • The Alloy of Law, by Brandon Sanderson
  • Prince of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence
  • Acacia, by David Anthony Durham
  • Under Heaven, by Guy Gavriel Kay
  • Farlander, by Col Buchanon
  • The Thief-Taker's Apprentice, by Stephen Daes

I've read some turd samples as well, but these I've listed are among the winners. If/When I buy the full books and give them a thorough read, I'll be sure to drop some reviews on y'all. It's been a while since my last book review, I'm sure that fact is trying your patience. Take heart! If you need good book reviews, go over to Logan's blog. He's posted a few good ones of late... and you know the old saying: "Always Trust A Man Named Logan."

Skip to 0:38 to get to the Darth Vader part... the first half-minute, the guy just draws a lame Yoda for some reason. But the Vader artwork is really good.

So, I went to see a movie with my good pal Carey the Rapidly-Shrinking Man last Friday, called Killer Elite, starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert DeNiro. I'm glad I didn't wait to check reviews before seeing it, since right now it's cruising at a cool 25% on Rotten Tomatoes, very firmly in the "rotten" category. I actually must have been in the right mood to see it, since I really enjoyed it. It was much better than I thought it would be (the last couple Statham movies have been pretty bad). Anyway, I won't do a full review, since I'm feeling lazy right now, but I will say, if you dig action flicks and you get a chance to see it, I recommend it.

I will admit that every time I saw Jason Statham's arms, I felt a pang of envy. I want arms like that. I'm still greatly enjoying my new-found workout kick. I'm loving the way it makes me feel/look. I'm now starting to look into supplements and cleansing regimens and vitamins etc, to see if I can maximize the results. I can still stand to lose a few pounds, and I want to bulk up some more. My narcissism is shifting from mostly-internal to external now... I'm becoming one of those oddly-amusing older, funny-looking dudes who try to recapture some of their youth. You know the ones... they think they're going to tone up a bit and suddenly everyone will think they're handsome or something, lol. Whatever. Yeah, I know the Bible says "bodily exercise profiteth little" (1 Tim 4:8), but hey... at least it profits a little!

Well, I think that's enough nonsense for now.

Adios for now,

Dave the Famous Author (lol)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Elitists, Memories and Poorly-Drawn Comics

Plug, plug, pluggin' along...

What's the latest, you ask? Well, nothin' much, as it turns out. Hence the full week between updates. Yeah, I know... you're heart-broken. I can feel it. Because I am strong in The Force. In fact, I find your lack of faith disturbing... don't make me have to come over there! So help me, if I have to pull this Tie fighter over right here on the freeway, I will!

OK, fine, I'll start with a couple funny pictures. We'll see where it goes from there... first, some literary elitist humor...

OK, that should amuse those of us who have read Harry Potter and the Song of Ice and Fire... all 2 of us... OK, let's see, what else? How about a little humor for the video game elitists among us?

OK, that works.... let's see, what shall we finish up this Elitist Photo Trilogy with? Hmm...

How about...

LOL, omg, I laugh every time I see that picture... yeah, I know, nothing elitist about that photoshop job... I blew the theme with that one. Oh well, at least I found an excuse to post it. LOL, dang, that's a funny picture...

Speaking of funny pictures, I saw that photo the other day, where the President (all due respect) posed in the center of a group photo (some "open government" society or such nonsense) and he waved, his right hand effectively blocking the face of the guy just to his right. I laughed, and of course immediately thought of Mike Wazowski in Monsters, Inc (my favorite Pixar movie). So I had to make the following pic...

I guess that comic is for the Elitist Pixar Fans among us... I uploaded it to Memebase; we'll see if they find it amusing enough to post on their front page...

OK, shifting gears...

Here's the latest "50 People, 1 Question" video. I love these videos...

The question is, "What is your favorite memory?"

Interesting question. Of course, since watching this clip, I've wondered about my own favorite memory... it's a hard question. It would be easier for me to narrow it down to the specific times of my life. Like, break it down by decade or something...

It's always tricky picking a favorite anything, really. Books, games, movies, songs, food, color... it always seems to be changing. For me, anyway.

Favorite memory? Well, I suppose a strong contender would be the one I detailed in this blog post, about delivering that monologue in my method acting class many moons ago. Being in the delivery room for Maggie's birth is a contender as well. Doing an absolutely perfect layback grind on my skateboard at Webb Park in RB in front of other skaters (who acknowledged how awesome it was) and riding off as though I meant to do it like that... that was a great memory.

I'll have to chew on it some more...

And now, a VERY cool tilt-shift video of Crete. For best results, click full screen!

Not sure if I'd like to visit there in person or not. In fact, I was contemplating the other day just how long my list is of Places In The World I Would Not Want To Visit. For someone who claims he'd like to travel more, I certainly don't want to go to very many places... yeah, I'm contradictory like that...

No I'm not!

I'm still tearing through free chapter samples of various fantasy books. Tonight, I was reading the Prologue and first six chapters of Brandon Sanderson's upcoming Mistborn book The Alloy of Law. Let's just say, I'll likely buy the full book the moment it is available. Good stuff.

Probably other stuff I wanted to talk about, but I'm tired. Here, I'll end with a comic, and call it a night...

Adios for now.

Dave the Goof

Friday, September 16, 2011

Poetry, Vanity and Acrophobia

Ah, the wonder of photo effects! The world never looked so good before Photoshop...

Hey... it's Dave... you know.... "Dave"....

And now, a poem

I'm tired, my feet are ripe.
I need a shower.

I guess it's more of a failed haiku than a poem, in the traditional sense. Here, I better add another verse...

I gave up coffee!
Wait, what is this in my hand?

There, that should hold you poetry fans for a while...

OK, so I've been working out steadily for a couple months now. I am ready to post a picture of my progress thus far...

Yep, that's me! It is! After just two-point-five months! Yep!

OK, fine, that's Ronnie Coleman, not me... but I'm close...

What, you didn't think I was really going to post a pic of myself, do you? lol, yeah... right... I'm vain, but I'm not THAT vain... yet...

I have to admit, it does feel good to be able to see myself in the bathroom mirror without my shirt on and not want to throw up...

While I won't post a vanity pic, I will post a pic of some dude that painted his propane tank to look like a giant Lego head...

That's about the same thing, isn't it?

Oh, wait, lemme go get an amazing Vimeo video for you. Brb... OK, full-screen, high-def, get ready for your jaw to drop...

O... M... G... you know those dreams you have where you're falling, but you're above yourself, outside your body, watching yourself fall? Yeah, that. I wish, I wish, I wish... I wish I wasn't afraid of heights!

Things I Wish For: A Partial List, by David Wagner
* That I wasn't afraid of heights
* That I was out of debt
* That Skyrim was out already
* That my PC speakers weren't broken
* A shiny new BMW. Make it two.
* A happy home
* That I was a better friend
* Beef Jerky. And lots of it.

Speaking of being afraid of heights...

Yeah, I don't think I could have that job... I wouldn't even want the job of editing that video! I like the part at 1:22 where it called him a 'tool bag'....

My mom got rear-ended today in her new Camry on the way to work. Bummer. Her car seems ok -- just a marred bumper, so far as the eye can tell. But the truck that hit her apparently was messed up pretty good. I hope she's not too sore tomorrow.

Well, thisssss jussssst ssssssuckssss....

I think I'm going to stop now... no! I won't tell you what I'm currently reading! You'll just have to wait until next post to find out! But I will tell you that I tinkered with my Wagnervana website a bit... I added some work examples FINALLY, after all these years. Not much, but it's a start...

Oh, forget it, I'm out of steam. Adios for now. Going to go save the world from the Nazi menace in Call of Duty 2.

Dave the Daring

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Appliances, Animals and the Quest for the Perfect Book

Did a whole week go by? Sheesh!

What a week! We have been experiencing what can only be referred to as an Appliance Apocalypse. We have no less than 4 appliances that have decided to either act up or break down completely: dishwasher, oven, dryer and refrigerator. After a relatively expensive (but wonderful) summer, it looks like the fall is starting out with an attack on my wallet as well...

Plus, we had that blackout the other night, which was actually not bad... kinda fun, actually. Of course, it sort of served to point out that most prominent flaw in our current Emergency Plan... namely, that we don't have a plan, lol. Time to do some research and stock up on necessities. Man, people freak out over the power being out for a dozen hours, what would happen in a real crisis situation? Time to be better prepared.

Of course, the most amusing part of the whole blackout affair was the rumor-mongering on the radio, as people called in with their "I heard a friend of a friend say this" type of thing... then it gets spread as "unconfirmed reports of" this that and the other. At one point, it was said that two big power plants simultaneously blew up, lol, and because the caller referenced a friend with a ham radio that used to work for Homeland Security, it was repeated with the news updates, lol... crazy. Turns out it was a simple case of employee error. Nothing blew up. Ah, well...

It's funny how people's minds immediately jump to terrorism. Might be because of the proximity of 9/11 Anniversary, but I don't think so. I think perhaps people want a crisis situation to be as interesting as possible, I don't know... people talk about "the terrorists winning"... maybe they don't even need to attack us anymore. Whenever something crazy happens, we seem to automatically think it was terrorism, and so we think of their "message" by association. They get the same effect, perhaps?

Went to the Wild Animal Park with the family today. Of course, it's now called Safari Park or some such, for some reason. Why rename it? Anyway, I made a quick note on my Facebook status about the vast, unruly herd of shrieking kids terrorizing the place (buncha little terrorists!). It's a pretty place, though. I like it better than the zoo, actually. What I liked most about it is that I didn't have to spend a dime, woot! And my family loved it. Not that I wouldn't have spent $$$ on them... it was just nice not to have to.

The Wagner Women love takin pictures there (well, they love taking them everywhere, but especially at the zoo/animal park). I've been known to snap a pic or two in my day... but I normally just line up a shot, snap it, and that's it. My girls, however, do not seem to be satisfied until they've snapped at least a half-dozen shots every time they take a pic. Eldest Daughter has a nice new camera - one with a detachable lens and everything! Nice! We took the tram ride today, and her rapid-fire picture taking left me wondering... why? 8 identical shots! Why not just one!? Sounded like a machine gun going off!

I finished reading Empire in Black and Gold, by Adrian Tchaikovsky. It ended up being a good read, I'm glad I persevered. However, I don't know if I'll continue the series or not. It has some good concepts, and solid characters, and a unique world-building schematic... I just don't feel like I connected with either the story or the characters enough to want to pursue it further.

What am I reading now, you ask? Why, how inquisitive of you! I read a few free samples (The Etched City, Farlander, Leviathan Wakes), re-read a couple things I've enjoyed before (The Blade Itself sample, a Ted Chiang story) and started a pair of books (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell, Night of Wolves), before settling into Night of Wolves by an author named David Dalglish. It's a fantasy story with Paladins and Werewolves in it! It reads well so far, so I'll stick with it. I'll let you all know how it proceeds, since I know how highly you hold my opinions of such things!

I also did something else I haven't done in a long time... I beat a game! I played Medal of Honor: Airborne (which I picked up on Steam for like $5 or something), and played it through. I was surprised when it ended, since it only took me about 10 hours total play time to beat it. I guess gone are the days when you need to sink a good 40 hours into a game to reach it's conclusion... Now I'm playing Call of Duty 2... but I also bought Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit when it was on sale the other day, so I'll scratch that one off my wish list...

Games I'm Looking Forward To, by David Wagner

  • Torchlight 2
  • Diablo 3
  • Skyrim
  • Battlefield 3
  • Serious Sam 3
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution
  • Portal 2
  • Dead Island
  • Rage
  • Red Orchestra 2
  • The Witcher 2

There are others, but these are on my radar... bring on the Steam Christmas sales! WOOHOOOO!!!!! Steam = My Fave!

This Summer was wonderful beyond words, and could not have come at a better time. However, as much as I'd love it to last, it is clear to me that Summer is most definitely over. Well, I'll always be able to say, "At least we had the Summer of '11!"

I'm gonna run. Got some more work-related nonsense to catch up on. I know you're heart-broken that I must leave you thus, but buck up! Be strong! I shall return, and then all will be well in your world again! Fear not!

Adios for now,

Dave the Circumspect

Saturday, September 3, 2011

"When You Are Hungry, You Change Your Morality." -- Arnost Lustig

The weekend is here, woot, woot!

Just wanted to hop on here and drop a quick, drive-by post while I'm working on the newsletters and some video-edits for my sister. I can multitask like a boss! Sometimes...

Not much to say, really. Guess I'll just start and see where it goes...

Last post, I mentioned I had given up on Empire in Black and Gold, by Adrian Tchaikovsky, since I wasn't really clicking with the books' premise. Well, I decided before deleting it, I'd give it one last try... and I'm glad I did, since that seemed to be the point where the story really took off. I'll definitely finish it now. Wondering if I should do that for some of the other books I've abandoned.

By the way, that group of books I was giving away has been thinned out, but several are still available. The current list is:

* The Lion of Senet, by Jennifer Fallon
* The Lies of Locke LaMora, by Scott Lynch
* Empire in Black and Gold, by Adrian Tchaikovsky
* The Sword of Angels and The Jackal of Nar, by John Marco
* Storm Front, by Jim Butcher
* A Clash of Kings, by GRRM
* Lavondyss, by Robert Holdstock
* Hawkwood's Voyage, by Paul Kearney

I'm also adding a couple more books, in case you'd like these...

* The Folding Knife, by KJ Parker
* The Red Wolfe Conspiracy, by Robert Redick
* Black Sun Rising, by CS Friedman
* Gardens of the Moon, by Steven Erikson

Say the word, and they're yours.

Yes, really...

I watched a movie called Source Code last night, which stars Jake Gyllenhall, and I was very surprised at how good it was. Perhaps I was in just the right mood to watch an action flick, I don't know... either way, I recommend it if you haven't seen it yet. I'd write a review, but I'm feeling lazy at the moment. Instead, I'll link to the Rotten Tomatoes summary page for it... 91%! Not bad at all! Looks like I wasn't alone in liking the film...

Laythe sent me the link to this video, and it is awesome.

Love the feel of it. The acting is good, the dialog works, the sentiments strong. I'd love to make short films like that.

Speaking of things that have moved me lately, the kids played this song by Adele for me recently (Someone Like You), and I think it's sublime... yeah, I know it's been out for a while, but hey, I'd never heard it before, okay!? Sheesh!

Bought myself some new shirts the other night at the mall, eh. If you had any idea how rare that is, you'd be congratulating me! Yeah, I'm feeling better about myself and the shape I'm getting in, so I'm starting to rework my wardrobe. Feels good.

And on that note, I'm out for now. Thanks to everyone who's taking books out of my hands. Let me know if you want anymore.