Thursday, July 18, 2013

See You Again on September 1st! You Better Miss Me!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I think it's time for a relatively extended blogging break. I know, I know, don't be too heartbroken. I just need to stop for a few weeks and recharge, and focus on some other personal nonsense.

I will be back here on September 1st - mark your calendars! And whatever you do, don't forget about me! I shall return, I'm just going to stop for a while...

Of course, there's always a chance that something cool will happen that I'll want to address sooner than that, so I might sneak a post in here when no one's looking.... but basically, for now, I'm going to plan on pausing the blog for the next 6 weeks or so.

See you September 1st!

Dave the Paused

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Comedy" or "Calm Eddie", You Decide...

That pic is from Italy somewhere. Perugia, I believe. Anyway, another place I'll visit someday.

Notice I didn't say, "Hope to visit" or "would love to visit"... I boldly claimed I will visit it! So there! See, that's the new me. See how confident and strident I am now? I'm standing up straight and everything! See my posture? No slouching! You can't call me a slouch anymore!!!1!

Question: Is there anything more annoying in the world than ventriloquists? O M G I'm of the opinion that Jeff Dunham needs to be punched in his man parts. People! Stop laughing at him! He's not funny! Sheesh!

OK, fine, he shouldn't be assaulted. I'm not violent, I'm a new man, remember?

I've been binge-ing on stand-up comedy again the past few weeks. Especially since SirPsychoFlea's YouTube channel was FINALLY disabled by YouTube (after, what, four years?) for copyright nonsense. Mr. Flea, as you recall, had assembled a huge collection of episodes of Inside the Actor's Studio, which I was powering through, taking notes, in an effort to supplement my acting training. Not anymore! The plug has been pulled. I can only hope that it's because Bravo is finally getting the episodes together themselves into DVD collections that someone like me can purchase. It seems crazy that they have almost 250 episodes in the can, but only a handful available on disc.

So, yeah, my attention has shifted to Stand-Up Comedy. I got the Comedy Central App for my iPad, and it's amazing. Sooooo much content on there, making it so easy to discover new comedians. Of course, Comedy Central's website also has a massive, well-organized video collection. So here is my current Top Five Favorite Comics, as of this second...

5. Gabriel Iglesias: He's my favorite "fat" comedian, which is an interesting sub-group of comedians. He's also Spanish, and much of his comedy is based in these two facts: fat and Spanish. I like comedians from different backgrounds. Lots of energy. Fat Comedian Honorable Mention: John Pinette.

4: Jim Gaffigan: Jim's a classic. And to show the contrast, he's about the whitest man God ever made. He's so weird and goofy, I love him. His material is mostly about food and laziness.

3: Russell Peters: This guy is so unique. He's Canadian, but of Indian descent (India, the country, not Native American), and so a lot of his comedy deals with being Indian. And man, he does an amazing array of accents, not just Indian, but all manner of Asian and Middle Eastern accents. He trends off-color a little too frequently for my tastes, but his cultural stuff is a riot.

2: Bill Burr: OK, I have to qualify this choice by stating the following: The man swears like a Drill Instructor. But I can't help it, I love the way the man's mind works. He's so "out there," in a sort of controlled psycho way, I enjoy the heck out of him. I laugh so hard when I watch him, it isn't even funny (ba dum dum tsh!). If you watch the stand-up special I linked to his name, be forewarned, about the profanity issue. But if you can deal with it, you'll be treated to hilarity. In lieu of that, here's a clip from Conan, cuz, hey, you gotta keep it clean on TV!

1: Maria Bamford: OK, this lady is definitely my kind of crazy. She's a little... shall we say... unstable. And she does cool voices and characters and is just so random and bizarre and un-self-conscious, I love it. She did a web series which I watched recently that was soooo creative and cool... it *almost* inspired me to attempt something similar... but then I realized that's all I need! Something else that would require full-time attention that I can shoe-horn into my current collection of things that require full-time attention! What is wrong with me!!?!?!

Here's the first Episode of her web series. I encourage you to watch all of them, if it clicks with you. She may not be your kind of crazy like she is mine... An f-word or two toward the very end... but it's "in character!"

Currently reading more craft-related books on writing, screenwriting and acting. Toying with a few fiction samples as well. I keep adding more titles to my digital library, both fiction and non-fiction. Man, I'm a sucker for a $3 book... that seems to be the sweet spot for me... if I find a title intriguing, and it's $3 or less, I buy it outright. If it's $4 or more, I download a free sample and add the book to my wishlist(s).  Today, I bought the Humble Bundle 2, which was an awesome find. 10 books for "pay what you want to!" It's an interesting pricing model, and has been proven (when used with games and books, at least) to generate far more money than if they'd set a fixed price. I paid $15, which I thought was fair... some people pay $100 or more, depending on how generous they are feeling, and how much they want to support the authors. This particular bundle is a cool mix of Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Steampunk and a graphic novel.

Check it out, if you want to. The bundle will be available for about another week.

So, as I mentioned earlier, the reality is sinking in that I'm currently pursuing several fields of interest, each one of which really should be taking all of my time to pursue correctly. Yes, I know I've always been this way - why I should now realize the problem, at this point in my life, is beyond me. The biggies, of course, are novel writing, screenwriting, acting, and film making, but now I'm getting into Role Playing games as well... I'm starting to think I won't really be very successful in any of them if I try to do them all. But to pick just one thing, and focus on it completely?

"If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one." -- Russian Proverb

I don't know. I'm such a scatterbrain, I don't know if I'd be able to consciously pick one thing to focus on and see it through, without transitioning between interests as I am wont to do.

I always seem to have these types of "realizations" about myself, and then blow hot air about them in here, and make promises to change and stride forward with purpose... and what changes? Am I the same addled yahoo I was 10 years ago? Well, what can I do but keep plugging along?


OK, well, I had other stuff to prattle on about, but I'll save it for another day. That'll have to tide you over!

Adios for now.

Dave the Addled Yahoo

Sunday, July 7, 2013

One Nerd's Week, Well-Spent

A week, spent.

Gee, how original! It's only happened 2,230 times in my lifetime so far! Yes, I'm 2,230 weeks old. That's how my mom still introduces me to people... "Here's my son, Dave... ain't he cute? He's 2,230 weeks old!" Sometimes she says I'm 516 months old...

Speaking of keeping track of things well past usefulness...

So, I was calculating the other day... if I pass wind an average of 30 times per day... that's about 11,000 per year... but that's not the most remarkable number... in my lifetime, that calculates at over 470,000 times. Almost a half-million blasts of wind.... WOW!

OK, "moving" right along...

So... how was your Independence Day, eh? Didja go see fireworks, eh? I did.... took Wifey, Middle Daughter and Little Daughter out, braved the crowds and watched the fireworks in beautiful downtown Escondido. Littlest Daughter was so proud of herself... true, she stayed in the car the whole time, but the sunroof was open, and she didn't plug her ears once! So it was a triumph for her. She's already making plans for what we're going to do next July 4th.

Of course, then we came home and watched the pre-recorded fireworks show from New York City. All I could say was HOLY MACKEREL. Man, they had a display like I've never seen before. They fired them off of 4 boats out on the river, each boat was a show unto itself... and it was multiplied four times over... four synchronized fireworks shows going off simultaneously out over the water, the NYC skyline in the background. Made our little Escondido show look like a couple neighborhood kids with sparklers... so of course, Middle Daughter now wants to go to NYC next year for July 4th... I tell ya, after seeing that show on TV, I'm apt to think it's a good idea...

Only watch this next video if you don't experience vertigo or motion sickness...

I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later... one of those Parkour nuts strapping a GoPro camera onto his head. If your system can take it, I suggest watching it HD full screen.

So I finished reading A Confederacy of Dunces yesterday. Man, what a great book. Haven't ever read a book with such a wild, colorful cast of characters before. I went over to Good Reads to register my 4.5 star rating, and decided to peruse the other ratings/reviews for the book. Tons of 4 and 5 star ratings.... and an equal amount of 1 star ratings. I had no clue the book was such a divisive one. Man, thos that hated the book REALLY hated it. I was shocked, honestly. I think Ignatius Reilly (the main character) was great fun to read. Yes, he was a thorough man-child, and I really wouldn't want a friend like him "in real life", but heck, I enjoyed him immensely.

I mean, sure, Ignatius is a pretty physically repulsive person - tall, very over-weight, greasy bushy black hair, a big mustache, a big plaid jacket and a green hunting cap on his head, earflaps down (to help against catching cold), roaming around New Orleans getting into increasing amounts of absurd trouble, his deep, booming voice thundering out indictments against the declining civilization around him...

Here's an example...

At one point, to help his mother pay off a debt, he agrees to work for a hot dog manufacturer called Paradise Vendors, as a street vendor hawking hot dogs from a pushcart to the tourists in New Orleans. Of course, he ends up eating most of the dogs himself each day, and finding out-of-the-way places to sit instead of work. So he nearly gets himself fired, but his long-suffering boss, Mr. Clyde, decides to give Ignatius one last shot...

"You know, Reilly, I don't wanna fire you," Mr. Clyde said in a paternal tone... "I'm gonna fix you up with a new route and give you another chance. I got some merchandising gimmicks maybe help you out." 
"You may send a map of my new route to the mental ward at Charity Hospital. The solicitous nuns and psychiatrists there can help me decipher it between shock treatments." 
"Now shut up." 
"You see that?" You've destroyed my initiative already," Ignatius belched. "Well, I do hope that you have selected a scenic route, preferably something in a park area where there are ample seating accommodations for sufferers from tired, stunned feet. When I rose this morning, my ankles gave way. Fortunately I grabbed for the bedpost in time. Otherwise, I would have landed on the floor in a broken heap. My tarsi are apparently about to throw in the towel completely." 
Ignatius limped around Mr. Clyde to illustrate, his desert boots scuffing along the oily cement. 
"Stop that, you big slob. You ain't crippled." 
"Not completely as of yet. However, various small bones and ligaments are beginning to wave a white flag of surrender. My physical apparati seem to be preparing to announce a truce of some sort. My digestive system has almost ceased functioning altogether. Some tissue has perhaps grown over my pyloric valve, sealing it forever." 
"I'm gonna put you down in the French Quarter." 
"What?" Ignatius thundered. "Do you think I'm going to perambulate about in that sinkhole of vice? No, I am afraid that the Quarter is out of the question. My psyche would crumble in that atmosphere. Besides, the streets are very narrow and dangerous there. I could easily be struck down in traffic or be wedged against a building." 
"Take it or leave it, you fat bastard. That's the last chance you get." Mr. Clyde's scar was beginning to whiten again. 
"It is? Well, please don't have another seizure. You may tumble into that vat of franks and scald yourself. If you insist, I imagine that I shall have to trundle my franks down into Sodom and Gomorrah." 
"Okay. Then it's settled. You come in tomorrow morning, we'll fix you up with some gimmicks." 
"I can't promise you that many hot dogs will be sold in the Quarter. I will probably be kept busy every moment protecting my honor against those fiends who live down there." 
"You get mostly the tourist trade in the Quarter." 
"That's even worse. Only degenerates go touring..."

Of course, it goes on from there, and hilarity ensues.

Hey, what can I say? I thought everyone would love the great, fat, lumbering gassy anachronism like I do... I guess I was wrong. So, why don't I do a proper Book Review of the book? Well, I don't know... I suppose I thought it was enough for you to know that I love this book -- though I do dock it half a star for being a little more profane in language than I remember it being. But the fun story and memorable cast of characters make it well worth reading... and re-reading... and re-reading....

For me, anyway...

So my research into the Nerd Gaming Culture has yielded some unexpectedly awesome fruit. Hey, don't get mad about me labeling them nerds... those are my people! I fit right in! It's a compliment! The D&D crew I sat in with last Sunday were glorious. Picture a group of D&D nerds in your mind... ok, got it? Yes, that's EXACTLY the crew I hung with last week.

Anyway, I watched them play Dungeons and Dragons for several hours, and was able to ask a ton of questions, obtaining some excellent info. But I believe there's a different role playing game, called the Fate Core System, that will be far better suited to what I need to do with the screenplay I'm writing. So while I likely won't use the D&D rules set for this project, I would like to learn more about D&D, and perhaps actually play the game.

Honestly, in my formative years, when I was growing up and going to church, I believed the blanket generalization about D&D, that it was evil and "of the devil"... but now that I've actually (after all of these years!) looked into the game itself... it's basically just an interactive storytelling system, with heroes and baddies. It's very creative. And it looks like it's a blast to play. But it takes a looong time to play.

The Fate Core system is both simpler and allows for a wider array of storytelling options. I won't go into detail here, fear not. But the subculture surrounding this form of entertainment is robust and rabid, to say the least. I'm looking forward to sneaking into it and looking around.

I think I'll end tonight's post with a sweet supercell shot.

Adios for now.

Dave the Burgeoning Nerd