Saturday, January 28, 2012

"A Friend to All is a Friend to None." -- Aristotle

Ah, Saturday! Though it's kinda pointless to mention what day it is as I'm writing this, since it could be Tuesday or Wednesday by the time you actually read this... and by then my thoughts on Saturday will be old... so, so old...

Hmm, I suppose I could lead in like this: Ahh, last Saturday!

But then, what if it's, like, a month or two before you read this?

OK, fine, here: Ah, the Saturday that is represented by the date at the top of this post! There, ya happy?

Got a lot done today, and it's just 2:45 pm! Are you proud of me? Vacuumed the whole house, picked bagfulls of lemons of our backyard tree, dismembered and trashcanned our Xmas tree, cleaned the inside of my computer with compressed air... hmm... now that I write it out, it doesn't seem like much...

Still, it's a beautiful day outside in San Diego... a perfect day to stay inside and play games and/or write a movie script! Or put stuff in the microwave!

So after reading Riddler's Gift, I decided to sample a couple other titles before beginning the sequel Second Sight. I got more than 70% through a book called Edge by Thomas Blackthorne, which is sort of a near-futuristic urban fantasy tale, but the author was too heavy-handed with his anti-global warming and anti-violence messages, and the tale lacked depth. Once I saw where the book would be going for the climax, I decided to bail on the book. No doubt it will be turned into a "made for TV" movie in the next five years or so. Seems like it was written with "optioning to TV" in mind. Bleh.

I then decided I wanted to learn more about snipers, so after nosing around online a bit, I settled on Marine Sniper, by Charles Henderson. It's a biography of the greatest sniper from the Vietnam era, a legend named Carlos Hathcock. It was mentioned by many reviewers as the best sniper-related book available. However, it seems to me like it was written for simpletons. It reminded me of the biography of Bill Watterson I read a year or two ago (review here). I can't stomach dumbed-down books that insult my ability to "get it"...

So I abandoned that book (cost me $8 dangit!), and moved onto one of the many samples I have in my digital library, a new book called Rook by Daniel O'Malley that is getting a lot of buzz. It's another sort of sci-fi urban fantasy type of book, which I may buy when it goes on sale for a few bucks, but I wasn't hooked enough to want to pay $13 at the moment.

So I'm reading Second Sight now, and it is very solid so far.

So my trainer Mark was destroying me last Monday during our workout, and I felt like I was pushed to my limit, out of breath, heart pounding, weak-kneed, etc. So I asked him how I'm supposed to know when I should "listen to my body" and take a break for a time, or forget how I feel and push through it. I didn't want to negate in any way the progress we had made during the workout thus far by stopping when I should keep pushing... but I also didn't want to keel over. He said that it all depends on the day - there is no formula to it. We took a break so I could recover, then modified the rest of the workout to avoid hitting that place again.

But I bring it up because I wonder if there's a spiritual parallel, as far as God testing us in certain areas. I know there's that verse that says we won't be tested beyond our ability to handle it (1 Cor 10:13). But I also know that many times I've worked with my trainer where, if I had been by myself, I would have stopped, thinking I'd hit my limit. But then he would make me do another set, and then sometimes yet another, and to my amazement, I could do it. I hadn't hit my limit after all. So when it comes to tests, etc., I wonder if there are times when we need to push through (so to speak) and times to take a break before we keel over.

Or is that forcing an analogy where one doesn't exist/belong?

Shifting gears, here, watch this full screen-high def.

I never even knew what a Teahupoo was before this video!!!

While you're in the mood to full-screen, high-def a video, here's another jaw-dropper...

Wowza, I says. Wowza indeed.

Go here to read about a Giant Tortoise named Adwaita that lived more than 250 years, plus other animals that lived way longer than they should have... and go here to watch Naader Reda eat a 12-pound pizza in one hour. No human being should have the capacity to eat that much food! I am stunned. And finally, Go Here to watch the infamous Camp Video that I've been working on for eons. Yes, it is done. Unlike the other videos, it doesn't look good full screen.

Those that went to the camp will be getting a DVD copy of it in the mail soon.

Well, I think that's it for today. If anything interesting happens, I'll mention it in the next post. I hope your week is a good one.


Monday, January 23, 2012

"Facts Are Stubborn Things." -- Ronald Reagan


Whatever you were about to ask, the answer is yes. There, that saves you the embarrassment of actually having to ask me. I was bitten by a radioactive hipster spider with left-leaning political views and it gave me mind-reading super-powers. I can see right into your brain! I know what you're thinking! MUAHAHAHAH!!!!! Run!!! Run for your lives!

OK, fine, I stretched the truth a wee bit there... I can't read minds. Not even my own.

So, yeah, today was, like, Monday or something, I don't know. I can't read calendars either. It was a rainy Monday, which always alters my mood and makes me want to lie about super-powers-related things, like, say, mind reading. Now, now, I know what you're thinking... you're thinking, "Dave, you are a babbling simpleton who suffers from bowel angst, caffeine addiction and spotty self esteem, so quit jabbering you toolbox, and actually say something of substance, or so help me I will never set foot inside the hallowed walls of this blog again."

That was what you were thinking? My super-power is real after all!

OK, here is a funny pic for you, to assuage your increasing disgust/frustration...

Did it work? Is your anger assuaged? No? OK, fine, more Star Wars stuff, coming up!

I don't know where I've been, when it comes to this next video, but I'm sorry I missed out on it. There was a project called Star Wars Uncut, spearheaded by a chap named Casey Pugh, that is ridiculously creative fun... his goal was to re-create the entire first Star Wars film, one "15-second segment" at a time, using scene snippets submitted from random people around the world, using any style they wanted. The results are amazing (to me) and completely engrossing. Here, skip to a random point in the video and watch for a few minutes...

Talk about diversity, I love it. There are a handful of segments that push the envelope, as far as "family friendly", and only one that I recall (The one referencing The Big Lebowski) that has any offensive language in it, but the vast bulk of it is entirely awesome. My favorite clip might be at 1:29:30, during the light saber fight between Obi Wan and Vader...

The run time for the whole vid is a shade over two hours, so unless you're Logan, I doubt you'll want to watch the entire thing, but you could watch it a bit and see how fun and creative it is. I only found out about it a few days ago, now that the project is complete. I would have loved loved LOVED to have filmed a 15-second segment or two for the project. I'm going to keep an eye out - perhaps after they've taken a break and regrouped, they'll start on Empire Strikes Back... and then I'll definitely sign up.

Speaking of film projects, I've had a couple creative meetings with my friend Todd F. recently, and it looks like we're beginning pre-production on our first legitimate film project. I won't go into too much detail about it at this point, but here's a hint...

Yep, it's about cats.

No, actually, it will be a detective story (no cats), and will be a (hopefully) fun mix of genres/eras. Sort of a modern detective tale, but heavily sprinkled with noir-style black-n-white scenes. It looks like it will be fun. I'll certainly keep you informed as it develops.

I'm kind of amazed at what Todd is capable of doing, as far as post-production special effects. We are going to be able to do A LOT with this script, in ways I've never even been able to consider before. Super stoked about it.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking (I can read minds, remember?) You're wondering why on earth I would start another big creative project when I have a whole plateful of half-finished projects already, crying out for my attention. Honestly, I don't have a good answer for that. I'd like to claim to be a victim of a particularly annoying strain of A.D.D., but that strikes me as a rather sizable cop-out. But I;d like to think there actually is a legitimate reason beyond the basic "I'm just lame, that's all".... the good news is that I'm almost finished with the Camp Video from last year! It's only a half a year behind schedule!!! Are you proud of me!?!?!

No? Well! I guess I'll have to try harder to impress you then!

How about this: Last post, I wrote a very positive review for a book I recently read, and the author left a comment on the post. While that isn't the first time an author has left a comment here, it is the first time that a review I wrote was mentioned on the author's website (in a positive way, I mean, lol)! Check this out! I've been quoted! I'm official now! An official what, you may ask? Heck, I don't know... but once I figure it out, I'll be sure to add "official" in front of it...

And now, two minutes of destruction...

Mixed feelings about real-world footage like that. Odd that I can watch movie violence and explosions and it doesn't phase me... but show me something "real" and I get a bit queasy... loved that train slamming into that barricade at 1:10, probably because it looked like a planned event, for test purposes or something. But the burning passenger plane at 1:28 was rather shocking...
OK, well I think that's enough nonsense for tonight. I'll hit you with more again in a couple days. I know what you're thinking... "Hurry back, Dave!"


Dave the Nutter

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Riddler's Gift: An Effusive Book Review

What!? Another week is ending?! What gives! Man, where does the time go? Oh, wait, nevermind... a weekend is a good thing, I forgot. Yeah, I'm forgetful like that. Sometimes it's hard to remember my own name. Umm...

[Dave checks his driver's license...]

Dave here! Time for another blog post, eh. Surprise surprise. Gee, I bet you never expected that. I mean, you don't normally go to a blog and see blog posts, right?

So, where to start?

Ah, a book review!

The Riddler's Gift, by Greg Hamerton
Everyone knows I'm a sucker for a good fantasy tale. I've also been known to gush over novels that click with me, and recommend them forcefully to anyone that will listen. This has yielded mixed results over the years, for a variety of reasons. The obvious reason is that, hey, people are different, and like different things. What appeals to me strongly might be of little-to-no interest to you, and vice-versa. No big deal. But another reason for the mixed results might be my tendency to jump right onto this here blog in the immediate aftermath of finishing what I feel is a great book, and get caught up in the afterglow. I then break forth in a torrent of praise and adulation that might not have been so unrestrained had I taken a day or two to let the afterglow fade and look at things a bit more objectively. I cannonball in, hype things up, and, in some cases, the book can't live up to it. With the best of intentions, I inadvertently set the expectation bar too high.

So with this in mind, it is with a good, solid two days distance that I take keyboard in hand to write this review of a terrific book, The Riddler's Gift, by Greg Hamerton. If you haven't guessed yet by this build-up, I am a big fan of this book. I resisted the strong urge to immediately hop on here and fire both barrels of my praise gun, and chose instead to let my thoughts simmer. Here are my thoughts!

Other than The Heroes, by Joe Abercrombie, this book by Greg Hamerton is the most enjoyable fantasy book I've read in the past year. That includes all the noteworthy books listed in my 2011 Reads list over there on the right side of the blog page there. GRRM's entire series, Pat Rothfuss' latest, books by Brett, Parker, Scalzi, Sanderson, etc. All of them. I'm belaboring this to let you know that I am not saying this lightly, or off-the-cuff. (By the way, I don't consider Gates of Fire to be fantasy - that's still my favorite book of all time...)

The Riddler's Gift has many character types and fantasy tropes that one would expect from a (shall we say) "traditional" fantasy tale. A council of wizards, an "apprentice" over her head and swept up in an adventure, a noble master-swordsman, a wandering sage, an evil Lord and his unstable, cruel henchman, bent on world dominion, a magical trinket, and impending doom. Nothing too original here - so what's so special?

1) The Characters: The author does a fantastic job (pardon the pun) of crafting rich, complex characters. They lend themselves to shades of grey that are unexpected and yet feel oddly natural. You expect the heroine Tabitha Serannon to remain naive and good-at-heart, in spite of her trials, but as she accesses magic that is well-beyond her experience and expectation, it impacts her, changes her, in ways that catch you off guard. In fact, I can't think of a single main character, good or evil, that doesn't go through some level of transformation, or that isn't blind-sided by an unforeseen event (or series of events) that forces them to course-correct. It is all deftly handled, and thoroughly entertaining to read.

2) The Action: The story moves along at a brisk, occasionally break-neck speed. Let me qualify that for a moment: Once the storylines and characters are established, it takes off. It takes a bit to get rolling, but nowhere near as long as other books I've read in this genre. Give it a couple short chapters to hook you, and then buckle up.

3) The Dialog: Of course, on one hand I mean the spoken interactions between characters, but I'm also talking about the internal dialog that the characters have with themselves, as they wrestle with events and decisions that they've made, and assimilate the repercussions of their actions. The general themes of "good vs evil" and of "compromising with your moral code" are relatively-well worn paths, true, but that doesn't mean they can't be handled effectively anymore. Greg Hamerton wrings a lot of marrow out of those old bones, and I caught myself several times pausing while I was reading to contemplate what a character had just said. In fact, at the beginning of each chapter, there are these wonderful little proverbs (if you will) that are attributed to a certain character that always made me think -- and always ended up announcing what was to happen in the chapter, as though the chapter was the answer to the riddle that prefaced it. I loved those little touches.

4) The Craft: The book is well-crafted, solidly-written, and carries with it an intelligence and playfulness that was refreshing. Full of wonderful moments, unexpected events, humor and weight. Being the author's first book (in the series, anyway), I don't know whether this is the result of scads of polishing time and revising, or if it is a true indication of the talent and skill that will be evident in all of his books... you know how follow-up books can be. The first volume gets all of the blood, sweat, tears, polish, agonizing, tweaking, etc... and if/when it's a success, the second volume is expected quickly, and in order to hit some arbitrary deadline, subsequent volumes hit the shelves feeling unpolished and rushed and blah, lacking the spark that the initial volume was able to attain. Hey, I understand completely - the same can be said of music albums... a decade goes into a debut album, all the best songs from over the years sifted and hand-selected and polished to perfection in hopes that the album will take off and be a hit... then when it is, a new album is expected straight away, so dive back into the studio and crank something out!

All that to say, I have purchased the next book in the series, Second Sight, and will see for myself how it holds up.

Now, wait a minute, yes The Riddler's Gift is part of a planned trilogy. However, the story arc in the book is wonderfully complete, in and of itself. The blistering climax is thoroughly satisfying - and while there is an avenue left open to take things to the next level, by no means do you need to wait for the trilogy to finish before reading this book. It works very well as a stand-alone title, well worthy of your attention.

I have to be honest here - initially, I wasn't expecting much from this book. I mean, it was among the .99 cent fantasy books on holiday special on Amazon, with all the self-published and/or "unknown" authors - Kindle-stuffing, so to speak. When I bought the book in December, I saw that it had a few reviews, but that it's average rating was close to 5 stars, and figured, after skimming the reviews, I'd pull the trigger and buy it. Hey, for a buck, it was minimal risk. So I went into the read with an open mind, but not expecting to be blown away. But as I finished reading the book, and set it down, the first word that came to mind was "magnificent." And after having let it stew for a couple days, I believe I shall stand by my initial assessment. The Riddler's Gift is a magnificent book.

Summary: 5/5 A wonderful ride, terrifically-realized characters (if not wholly original), excellent dialog and action, and plenty of food for thought.


Wow, that took longer to write than I had anticipated. I still have work to get done before bedtime tonight, so I'm going to have to cut this post short.

I will, however, post a video for you to chuckle at - I'm in it! My trainer, Markshane, videotaped part of our workout on Wednesday, and then surprised me by sending me this edited video he put together, which he uploaded to his YouTube page. On the one hand, it's kind of embarrassing. On the other hand, it's pretty cool. Here, you decide.

Kinda cool that Markshane did that.

Well, I have other nonsense to share, but it will have to wait. Go buy The Riddler's Gift - it's only 3 bucks! Read it and let me know what you think.

Dave the Effusive

Sunday, January 15, 2012

13 Shades of Ennui

Well, hello there! You come around here often? You do? Why?! I mean, look at this place! It's a dump! And it smells funny in here. Doesn't it? Well, if it smells so funny in here, why ain't ya laughin'?

Greetings, and Happy St. Bryan's Day! Dang, 12 years since my brother Bryan died. That punk. Didn't he know we'd all miss him? What the heck! He'd be 38 this year, if he was still roaming the earth. I wonder what he would have accomplished in that time? Married, with children no doubt, traveling, playing golf with Johnny boy... who knows? Gah! The thought of Bryan as a dad, with a toddler son on his shoulders, big goofy smile on his face! That mental picture just took the wind out of me!

Made me think again of the idea of writing your own eulogy... write out what you want to have said at your own funeral, running down all the accomplishments you would like to think you'd do from today to that day... then start living that way now. Use it as a bucket list or something, I don't know. Personally, I'd like to have a couple novels finished, maybe a handful of movies. I'd like to understand, experience and be able to convey important spiritual lessons, and have it be said that God used me to impact people in unexpected and lasting ways. I don't want to be one of those annoying, hypocritical religious people, but one of those people that even skeptics and people hostile to religion would see and say, "that guy gets it. He's doing the God thing like it's supposed to be done."

I'd like to love my wife the way she deserves to be loved, as opposed to the hamstrung, nerfed, method-acting way that I'd been forced to limp along with for a pair of grueling decades. She deserves better.

I'd like to live, and quit hiding in my office.

I'd like to move onto a new topic.

Check out this hilarious Workplace Complaint...

Come on, that's funny.

Not as funny as my Youngest trying to pronounce "Martin Luther King Jr. Day." She says it like this: Marthin Lootner King Jr. Day. Yes, it's a riot. "Mom, do I have to do schoolwork on Marthin Lootner King Jr Day? It's a holiday!"

Yeah, like, you know how people with kids are always talking about all the "funny" little things their precious young ones do and say? And they're always those sort of "you had to be there" kind of things? And you just politely smile and nod and silently hope they move on to a more interesting subject?

Yeah, that sort of thing.

So the Golden Globes were tonight, which means the Oscars are not that far away. Frankly, I didn't see much this year, as far as new films. I believe I saw Thor 3D, 9MM, the new X-men flick, the latest Mission Impossible flick, and, if memory serves, I saw some movie with DeNiro/Statham in it, with my friend Carey... I *barely* remember it... lemme go track down the title... to tide you over, here's a mash-up of the movies of 2011...

Ah, it was called Killer Elite. Meh, must have been forgettable. Oh, and I have a vague, painful memory of taking the wife/kids to see the latest Transformers turd as well. I'm feeling waves of nausea at the recollection of it, so I will change the subject yet again. 6 movies in the theater, I saw! That might be a record for me for a year!

Actually, no, when I used to go on snowboarding trips with my step-dad, brother Johnny and pal Joseph, we'd see a buncha movies too... Bah, like it matters. Nevermind.

Lots of great images in that movie mash-up clip. Makes me want to get into film making! MUAHAHAHA!!!

Gah!!!! I'm almost done with the camp video! From July, yes, that one! It's taken me half my life! I'm finally at the "gathering music" stage, which is an art unto itself. Trying to find fitting music for each of the segments involves a lot of trial and error, but it really is the last step. I've already told Lloyd I won't be doing any more camp videos. All he keeps saying is "we'll see"... which, frankly, kind of angers me. I'm done with these. Let someone else take a stab at it.

Here, lemme dig something out of my archive. This song is still amazing, every time I see it.

Man, what talent. Love the look of intense focus...

Oh, that reminds me! They're building a new Target at the mall that I live by! How awesome is that? For some reason, I am inordinately excited about the idea of having a Target at the mall. Isn't that odd? Yeah, must be a sign that I don't have enough problems in my life... I better prepare for the worst...

Well, in any case, guess I better bring this meandering, snooze-inducing post to a swift and painful ending. Hope your St. Bryan's Day was a good one. Happy Marthin Lootner King Jr. Day.

Dave the Shlub

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Prayers and Infatuations and Awesome People

Odd mood tonight... not sure what that will mean, as far as this post goes. But, hey, life is exciting when it's unpredictable, eh?

I likely won't be my usual goofy self tonight - quite concerned for the sick daughter of a blog regular... quite serious; I've been praying much and much. Frankly, it's a tough prayer... of course, my immediate prayer is for mercy and healing... it is VERY hard for me to keep the idea that 'God knows what He's doing' in mind, so it doesn't taint my prayers. "Lord, what are you doing?!?! Heal this girl! Please!" Like I'm grabbing Him by the lapels and shaking Him or something... "Wake up! There's a dire need here! You have to DO SOMETHING!" As though He isn't perfectly aware of what's going on. So, making my (strong) request known to Him without inadvertently insulting Him in the process... feels like a fine line to walk. I don't know if it's my own insecurity talking, but I keep picturing Him glancing at me out of the corner of His eye, going, "Yeah, yeah, I hear you. Go away now. I'm doing something here that you can't understand; I need to focus."

So, that, plus praying for another friend who let me in on a little secret, which is actually very good news... but this person can't tell family about it, since, against all logic, they will interpret it as bad news, and will dish out crap for it. So when this person should be getting love and support (which is needed), it must instead stay a secret, and this person must press on, basically alone.

I know that's kind of cryptic, sorry. I was told in confidence, so I can't say more. It would make sense to you, if I could elaborate.

Other than that, I'm in good spirits That book I mentioned in the last post, The Riddler's Gift by Greg Hamerton, is VERY good. I'm about half-way through it, and it really has its hooks into me. In many ways, it's fairly traditional epic fantasy, but in many other ways, it is quite unique. But most of all, it is well written, with compelling, rich characters and some killer dialog/action. Expect a review soon.

So, I was thinking about 'celebrity crushes' the other day... do you think they're harmless or not?

Yeah, I know, odd topic, odd segue.

Well, what got me pondering it was this video, which some of you might have seen.

I watched it, and sat transfixed. It's a fun video, he's too cool, she's a dream, and the way they interact... wow. Don't get me wrong, I don't covet Zoe Whatshername... I mean, she's "pretty" and all, and hey, anyone who can play a ukulele scores extra points in my book. What blows me away is the way she looks at him. I found myself thinking, "Man, what I wouldn't give to be on the receiving end of a look like that." They just have ridiculous chemistry between them - something I've never experienced.

Or rather, the appearance of chemistry. Who knows what the "real life" aspect is (they are actors, after all). Pardon me while I delve into familiar waters here, as far as 'the idea of something vs the reality of it.' Trust me, it segues back into the topic nicely. Celebrity crushes. So, all the Wagner Women were in here, we were all watching this clip together. Eldest was pining away for the dude (Joe Levitt), saying, "O marry me! Marry me now!" or some such. It was a cute response, but it got me thinking. I was trying to think if I had any real celebrity crushes growing up... Paula Abdul maybe? Hey, don't laugh... back in the eighties, she was hot stuff! Of course, I was some dorky kid. Even if I met her back then, what would she say? "Hey, cool, a dorky kid! Let's go out to dinner, kid!" Yeah, no... I guess that's the nature of celebrity crushes... maybe they're safe and harmless because nothing could ever come of them...

Look at these Justin Bieber fans posing for a picture with him, trying hard to smile while simultaneously crying...

LOL, omg I laugh every time I see that picture. I'm sorry, it's cruel to laugh, I know... they probably all dreamed about the day when they might be able to meet him... probably daydreaming about how they'd meet, and something would click, and he'd see them and go, "this is the one for me!" and they'd live happily ever after, blah blah blah. The idea didn't quite match up to the reality, lol...

But was/is it harmless? I think people crush on what the celebrity represents, rather than the person themselves. Some place safe to hang your heart for a while, where it won't get destroyed (like "real people" tend to do). I guess all infatuations are based on ideas/symbols. I suppose when the object of the infatuation is a real person in your life, the time will come when you move on it, and get hurt when reality puts the lie to the image you've created. I can't tell you how many times back in high school I finally summoned the nerve to approach a girl - who I'd talked myself into believing liked me too... only to get the old "Uh, yeah, whadaya say we just be friends, m'kay?" speech... then they walk away laughing.... I'm sure you all had that experience as well...

But you'll never get to meet that celebrity, so that pain never comes... eventually, you lose interest and it fades away. So, was it harmless? Was it helpful? Does it serve a good purpose at all? Or is it dangerous/counter-productive at all? Or just childish? I know wifey thinks that Gerard Butler in Phantom of the Opera is a total dreamboat... doesn't bother me. It's not like she has posters of him on our bedroom wall or something. And I doubt seriously she'd like to meet him in real life (and even if she did, so what? What will happen? They run off together?). I know it's what he represents that she's drawn to. I disappoint/hurt her all the time, whether I want to or not... Gerard Butler will never disappoint/hurt her... the 'idea of him' is like a little safe corner for her heart, where it won't get stepped on... right? Or no?

Bah, I want to go too many places with this conversation, and it's starting to unravel. That's what happens when I don't outline! Anyway, what say you? Harmless? Helpful? Stupid? Childish?

I have to put a ton of money into car repairs soon. The car is paid off; has been for two years now... however, it seems every three of four months, I've got to put a few hundred bucks into some repair or another. And now I have about 1600 bucks worth of new stuff (axles, tires, brakes, CV joints, etc) to do soon. Makes me wonder if I should just put that toward a new car. I mean, if I'm averaging a hundred or two a month in upkeep on a paid-off car, why not just sign up for another set of car payments on a new car that doesn't need fixing? So that's my latest carnundrum.

Did I post this video already?

I mean in an earlier post. I don't think so. Anyway, even if I did, it's worth watching. Good stuff. Some people really are awesome. Others... well... not so much.

So I guess that's that for tonight. Sorry for the pensive/somber vibe. Once I know a certain someone's child is recovering and out of danger, I'll likely be back to my goofy self. Now if you'll pardon me, I have to go find a celebrity to crush on...

Dave the Pensive

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Oooh! Nice "Transformers" Reference, Dave! Now Go To Bed.

Aha! It has started! 

The new year, I mean. Not my car. You really I thought I meant my car? No, my car has not started! It's still in my garage, silly! Sheesh!

I mean the new year has started. I only mention it in case you weren't paying attention to the seasons, or haven't looked at a calendar in a while. As I write this sentence, it is a few minutes past midnight, January 7th, Pacific time. You're welcome. Yeah, I'm helpful like that... like a sextant, guiding you through the night while you drift through life's vast ocean... OK, fine, I took it a bit far there, sorry. Hey, it's late, and I'm tired...

So, where to begin, eh? Ah, yes, with a needless apology. *ahem* So, yeah, sorry for waiting a week to update again... a lack of interesting happenings and other inanities have conspired against me. But I have prevailed! I have overcome the ennui-generated obstacles and have successfully summoned the inner resolve to hit the "New Post" button and free-associate my way to yet another blogging success! 

Yes, I refer to this post. What, you don't think it's successful? You haven't even read all of it yet! How can you say that!?!?

OK, needless apology out of the way. Let's get down to business.

First things fourth (as I am wont to say). I got the video of the Christmas play uploaded to YouTube, and then followed it up by creating a page for it on my Wagnervana website. <-- Look! A convenient link! Why not click it, when you have, like, an hour or so with nothing to do! Then go watch it! [Dave travels forward in time 1 week, and checks the stats on the video... total views: zero! Doh! He returns to current time again]

Fine, be that way! Just because you have a life doesn't mean you can reject me like that! Don't you know I bruise emotionally very easily! Sheesh!

OK, fine, I need a funny animal picture to cheer me up...

OK, fine, that works... though it does hit a little too close to home... I am part-retriever... I mean, I also don't know what I'm doing.

Lemme try again...

Ah, that'll work. Cats save the day (yet again!). Let's see if anyone notices that it's a parody of the "Most Interesting Man in the World/Dos Equis" commercials...

Come on, now, don't get upset... I realize you're patiently waiting for me to tell you which book I've been reading... I mean, it's a new year, time to start a new book list, right? Sheesh, you're so impatient! I should make you wait longer, for being so rude... 

OK, fine, I'll tell you, since you'll never guess. I'm reading a book called The Riddler's Gift by author Greg Hamerton. Honestly, I don't recall where I heard of the book from... it might have been a fantasy website, or perhaps when I bought a book on Amazon, it was one of those "other people who bought this book also bought ___" type of things, who knows. All I know is that it was cheap (I bought it for a cool .99 cents), and I thought "why not"? 

So how is it thus far? Well, I'm at the crucial 15% mark... this is where I usually abandon books that don't do much for me (I figure 15% is a good, healthy shot), but I won't be abandoning this one. Initially, there were too many characters introduced at once, which almost lost me. But then the story took off, focusing on a couple major players, and I am sufficiently hooked. Beyond that, there are several traditional fantasy tropes present (a magical ring! Run, Frodo!), but they are handled fairly well. Once I get further in, I'll spill a bit more. Then, perhaps, a legitimate review will magically appear! *Gasp*!

You know what I wish? I wish there was a way to return a hard-copy of a book to it's publisher, and exchange it straight-up for a digital copy of the same book. 

Yep, of all the things I could wish for, I choose to mention that one. That's why they call me Dave the Mundane.

OK, a better question: Which superpower would you wish for? 

Come on, you know you secretly wish you were a superhero, admit it. So spill it... which superpower would you want? Traditional (fly, Superman!) or non-traditional. Me? Well, I suppose mine would be a variation of a traditional one... mind reading. Only I'd just like to know what people think when they see me approach and/or talk to me. Do people enjoy my company or do they wish I'd just wander away and leave them be?

Not much of a superpower... I should have wished for an adamantium endoskeleton... Why? Well, because an adamantium exoskeleton would make it unpleasant to hug me! And Lord knows how much I like to be hugged...

And now, a video called 100 years in Ten Minutes. Do you have ten minutes for a quick history lesson?

So I went to a writer's club meeting the other night. A new group of fine folk... fellow writers! My people! At least I think they were my people... I didn't check their papers, so I don't know who they have listed under "Owner"... it might have been me... anyway, it was a big group, which was the only real downer of the event. "Gee, Dave, why do you start with a negative?" Well, because I just experienced a flash of pessimism, that's why. But it has passed; I've transformed back into an optimist again! I'm in my prime! 

Yes, that was an Optimist Prime reference... sorry, it's late, remember? I'm operating on fumes here. And unfortunately, the fumes are mostly methane. [Dave cracks a window]

Where was I? Oh, yes, the writer's meeting. So, there were 16 people in attendance, and half of them (us?) had things to read to the group, which meant things needed to zip along fairly quickly, to avoid having the meeting run until midnight. I certainly understand. Still, I think 16 people is a few too many to make a meeting like that productive. I may look for a smaller group to join... one that's a bit closer to home as well, and hopefully on another night than Wednesday!

But again, great group of folks. Very interesting. I met a cool writer named Ed Coonce. Funny guy. I bought his book today. Here is his site. Check it out, eh! Eh! He's an actor and artist as well, like me! Only better, I'm sure...

Yeah, I know... looking at the clock as I write this sentence, it is almost 1am. Yes, it took me about an hour to write the post down to this point. A whole hour (almost)! See how much I love you? The devotion! The dedication! And here it only took you about 2 minutes to skim through it! That's all right... I know how much love a person can pack into two minutes... so I'll consider us even. (And I'll consider me odd)

I suppose I should stop now, and drag my sorry carcass off to bed. I'll think up some more nonsense for you soon, fret not! (By the way, never say "fret not" to a guitar player...)


Dave the Odd

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 is Done. What A Wild Ride.

"And so the year draws to a close, yet again," Dave said with a sigh, adjusting the microphone on the desk in front of him. "It was, for me at least, a crazy year, filled with extreme highs and lows - more so than any year of my adult life, I think. Well, unless you consider 18 years old to be an adult. My 18th year was quite eventful as well."

Dave paused and leaned back in his desk chair, sliding his headphones down around his neck, running his fingers through his hair. True, his 18th year was pivotal, but there wasn't enough time in this half-hour episode to cover that in any detail. He needed to use the air time to run down 2011.

Not wanting there to be any more dead air, he re-positioned his headphones, leaned in toward the mike again, and spoke. "I'm not going to go into the world-wide events of 2011, though by all rights, the year was a crazy one in that regard as well. I mean, the tsunami in Japan, the tornadoes in the midwest, the killing of bin Laden, the economic turmoil in Europe, the Occupy movement, and, most importantly, the release of Skyrim... that and more, of course. But for the interest of this show, I want to bring things down to a purely narcissistic, self-absorbed level, and talk about me."

Dave smiled. As usual, he had no idea who, if anyone, was even listening to today's show. He figured he might as well talk about something of interest to himself... namely, himself...

"So, after deciding to kill my blog off in August of 2010, I revived it again at the very beginning of 2011. Apparently, the reports of its death were exaggerated. Starting at the first of the year, I blogged again, though nowhere near the daily posts of 2009. Just an occasional blast of hot air, that's all. Seemed right. I tinkered with the design, tried new banners and color schemes, etc. But as for content, I stuck with the usual: funny pics and videos, and barely-interesting personal anecdotes."

Dave decided he should re-post a clip or two, both as a trip down memory lane and also as a bit of fun filler for today's show... he decided on a cool stop-motion clip and Reading a Book by Julian Smith...

Dave drank the dregs of his caramel macchiato, his straw making that annoying rattling noise that drives parents crazy worldwide. But he was holding the "cough" button down, so his listeners wouldn't hear it. He chucked the now-empty cup into the rubbish bin, cleared his throat and continued.

"So, the first quarter of the year was extremely difficult for me. Having come off an abysmal December, and the extreme disappointment that was my 20th anniversary, I bottomed out. I did read some good books during that time, but basically it was a time of soul-searching. I spent many weeks writing a sort-of autobiographical "book" as a gift for my Eldest Daughter's 21st birthday, which focused a bit on my childhood, but primarily on the time around which I met her mother, and how she (my daughter) came into the world. It was a difficult, often-sobering and painful journey. Revisiting that time (when I was 18 to 20 years old), and looking my decisions in the face, with new eyes refined by distance, did nothing to boost my spirits. Yet I felt it needed to be done."

Dave decided not to mention the fact that, though he gave the book to his daughter on her 21st birthday in April, as planned, he still has no idea whether she ever read it or not, not having ever received any feedback from her.

"On the plus side, I wrote a review of GRRM's A Game of Thrones which has ended up being my most-viewed post ever in my blog's history. In fact, at one point I could Google "A Game of Thrones Book Review" and my blog would come up on the first page. Not sure how that happened, but no doubt that's where all the traffic came from. It doesn't do it anymore, but for a while it did. Not sure how Google crunched the numbers on things like that. And now, a quick break..."

Dave grabbed a couple new Funny Pictures to give his listeners a quick diversion while he regrouped...

Ahh, so warm! And delicious!


"Writing the book for my daughter led directly into another important event that happened in 2011. I was able to reconnect with an old friend from the high-school days and take care of some unfinished business (aka repent) that has been left hanging these many years. I was rather shocked at the impact it had on me, actually. It brought peace to a part of me that has been in a quiet, near-constant state of uproar for two decades. I can't go into detail here, but I will say, I wished I'd done it years earlier."

"Still, as Spring took hold in earnest, my overall mood was at what had to be an all-time low. My most important personal relationship had bottomed out, and the reading on my Hope Meter was in negative numbers. Then, thankfully, the changes began... first, I got a pleasant surprise - an email from the director of a documentary on competitive eating, and he wanted to film me for it, in reference to the 'scandal' I was involved in the previous year. Of course, I said yes - hey, it's a chance to be in a movie! A dream of mine! I ended up going up in early June to film my part. The film will be out soon. Here's the first teaser trailer for it."

Leaning back in his chair, Dave played the film trailer. The director had told him in an email that when the premiere was scheduled, Dave would be invited, which might be fun, Dave supposed. But the thought of sitting in a full theater waiting anxiously for his part to come up, petrified, really, wondering how he would come across (inside knowing that it didn't matter), made Dave want to forget the whole thing and just wait until it came out on video, to watch it at home, alone. But how often does a person get to go to a movie premiere? Or even be in a movie in the first place? True, a small-budget relatively-obscure documentary, but that counts, right? Dave leaned into the mike again.

"So right after filming, I went off to church camp, as I do every summer. That was the first real life-shaker. It would end up being the last-ever camp we will have with Dr. Diane McIntosh, who passed away this year as well (another huge event), but the things she taught on - and more specifically, the things she said to me personally, really shook me to the foundation. Then shortly thereafter, I attended another church-related seminar (if you will) that further rocked me. That was the transition time; from that point forward, things took a dramatic upswing. Hope was, shall we say, violently reinstated in my life. Plus, I started seeing a personal trainer twice a week, revamped my diet, and began to get in really good shape for the first time in my life. Big changes, within and without."

"And now, a word from our sponsors. This segment of the show is sponsored by The Law Firm of Vale and Bassmaster."

"Summer was unprecedented. Wifey and I took a birthday trip to Vegas which was beyond wonderful. My relationship with my wife had literally swung pendulum-opposite in extremes from earlier in the year. From 'never been worse' to 'never been better'. I cannot stress enough how unexpected that was. And how needed it was. But, alas, it could not last. Things mellowed out as school started up again in September. Then more mixed news arrived. I received word that one of my plays had been optioned, and I had a nice, beefy royalty check coming in the mail. And then we got word that Dr. Diane had died. The year of extremes was continuing."

Dave suddenly grew weary of his "Year In Review" show. It was surprisingly taxing to go over it all again. Really, the year was unique in it's extremes. But Dave felt that the dead horse had been beaten enough. He decided to wrap it up.

"So the final big positive of the year was the Christmas play, which was more work and more fun than any other year to date. I really enjoyed the ride this year. Christmas itself was mellow, and different in that we had a houseful of relatives staying here, which we've never had happen before. All things considered, a great Christmas season, and the end of a remarkable year."

Dave glanced at the clock. It neared midnight. New Year's Eve. He signed off the air, and went to spend the remaining minutes of 2011 with his wife. She was asleep in bed, Dave sitting beside her, watching her sleep. He quietly monitored the time on his iPad, waiting for midnight to strike. A kiss upon her sleeping forehead to ring in the new year. What fresh challenges and obstacles lay ahead for 2012? One way to find out. Take it a day at a time.

Thank you to everyone that has read this blog during the year, and left comments and encouraged me. It means more to me than I can say. Not sure what I would have done if I didn't have this creative outlet, and you wonderful people checking in on me. I hope the new year is a terrific one for you all.

Dave the Thankful
Dave the Long-Winded
Dave the Game Player
Dave the Goof