Sunday, December 31, 2006
Okay. I'm going to do this Weekend Assignment in which John Scalzi asked us to come up with at least one New Year's resolution. So, without further ado (adieu?), I give you my resolutions for 2007...
My first resolution of 2007 is to stop writing 2006 on all my checks. Last year, it took me quite a long time to stop doing that, and, well, I don't need to look like a bigger idiot than I already am, you know?
After that, I resolve to exercise a hell of a lot less than I did in '06. Let's face it, I did a lot of running around over the course of the last year, and I am sore. I don't like being sore. And, to make matters worse, all that running around exercising seriously cuts into my smoking, drinking and consumption of fried foods. So, for '07, there will be little exercise. Which brings me to my next resolution:
In 2007, I plan to use my couch more. It's a nice couch. It was kind of expensive, and I am never on it. The cats like to sleep there, but I haven't spent enough time on it to understand why. This is something I feel I need to investigate.
Also, in 2007, I plan to exploit my neighbor's children. They're good kids, but they're not very bright. I figure I can get a heck of a lot of yard work done at a bargain price. Plus, their lawn looks better than mine, so they probably know what they're doing. And, since I have no intention of wasting my precious couch-time learning about lawn care, it's probably best to let them handle it.
Now, when I do leave the house, I resolve to let other drivers know how I truly feel about their abilities. This may involve hand-gestures, screaming out the window, or possibly a PIT maneuver to send them careening out of control and out of my way. I'm in a hurry, and every second spent away from my couch is a second spent potentially exercising, and as I said, I don't want to be sore.
Let's see... I resolve not to punch any old people in 2007. Punching the elderly is cruel and mean. Even after they smack with their canes for running them and their Buicks off the road, I will not reduce myself to physical violence. Instead, I will pay someone. After all, boxing is exercise, and I'm afraid breaking a sweat would break my resolutions.
Anyway, I think that wraps it up for me. I pretty much just resolve to be a slovenly, lazy bastard. I don't know if I'll be able to pull it off since I've never been really good with resolutions, but this year, I am really going to give it my all.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
You are Green Lantern
|Hot-headed. You have strong |
will power and a good imagination.
I mean, come on, man? The Green Lantern?!? No one ever wants to be the Green Lantern. Oh, and Ooooo... A pretty ring? I don't even like wearing rings.
But, in this dichotomy that is Me, there are opposing forces, so let's see what kind of evil super villain I am?
You are Dr. Doom
|Blessed with smarts and power but burdened by vanity.|
Hahaha.... Dr. Doom! Weep humans! Tremble in fear before I crush you like the sniveling bugs you are. Now that's what I call big pimpin'. No girly rings with magical cosmic powers for this chrome-plated badass (and look! I've even got a hoody! I'm old-school ghetto).
Plus, ladies? I'm a Doctor. Show me where it hurts. And, if nothing hurts, I'll flatten Cleveland.
It was really freaky creepy foggy here this morning. It was the kind of stifling blanket of gray that brings a certain tranquility to the world around me, and considering life has been somewhat noisy as of late, I had to grab my things and scamper out into the world to soak up a little silence --just me and the fog.
I don't know about you, but I think long walks in the fog really do a lot to help get one's thoughts in order. There's a definite isolation to wandering around in the pea-soup fog. I find the peace and quiet pleasant and certainly a welcome escape from the clamor of the busy holidays. And, since tomorrow's the start of New Year's Eve, I think this might be the last truly remarkably silent day of 2006.
One of the perks with living where I do is the nice, big park just a hop, skip and a jump down the road (and yes. It does have more than ONE tree). It runs along Lake Michigan up to the city of Milwaukee, and when the fog rolls in, it comes in with a weight that can be heavy, dense and almost suffocating. And, considering this is December in Wisconsin, normally this sort of fog would cover every surface with a thick veneer of ice to cripple the city. However, it's warm today, there's no wind, and the sun is just a dismal, weak disk of light hanging upon a bleak canvas of gray. If anything, this is the sort of weather I'd expect on any morning in late May rather than the second to last day of 2006.
Now, obviously, a stroll in the park this close to New Year's Eve wouldn't be complete without my mind bouncing back upon the last year. And, it's been a fun year for the most part. I started this journal in February without any real notion as to where it would take me. And, like a foggy road winding its way through a very silly world, I still can't see where the hell it's taking me, but it is fun, and there have been some wild, rollicking laughs along the way.
I suppose I could go back and scour the archives and mountain of words that comprise this silly place to pick out the "best and the brightest posts" of the past year; however, the ones I like are probably not the ones you like and vice-versa. So, I will simply leave you to find your favorites, and, perhaps in your searching, you might find some new ones.
As for 2007, I have no idea what the year ahead has in store for me. As some of you know from reading around here, I am writing a novel, and I hope to have it finished by June. It's been a heck of a lot fun writing it so far, but after writing myself into a metaphorical corner, I decided that I needed to step away for a time to recharge whatever creative batteries I may have. I am certainly going to need them since my protagonist is sitting in a jail-cell waiting for me to figure out just how in the hell to bust him out. He's trapped in lock-down while I've been sitting with my feet up enjoying this thing called life. Poor bastard. But, when it's finished, trust me, you will be the first to know.
Anyway, I'm pretty much just babbling at this point since it's the end of the year, and I feel like I've not shut my noisy mouth for months and months. Plus, I need these word things in this entry to make the layout look nice. But, I think you all have heard enough of my prattling noise this year, haven't you?
So, I hope you like the pictures. If you'd like to see the full-size (or fuller size), I have them stored on a Flickr photostream. If you want to see the life size, well, get a plane ticket to Milwaukee, and I'll drag you to the park with me. Hopefully, I can somehow keep that Flickr thing kind of organized. On the other hand, I'm so organized, I keep my cans of cat food next to my cans of other things, and on more than one occasion, I've opened a can of Fancy Feast when I was making tuna salad.
I've told you many times that I was dumb and stuff.
Aside from that, my last resolution of '06 is to actually do Scalzi's Weekend Assignment. I may get to it tonight since I am staying inside like a good boy and saving myself for tomorrow. What can I say? I'm old, and as much as I really have this itch to go out and tear it up like a frat-boy tonight, I know there's a pretty good chance that if I do go out, my liver will divorce me in the middle of the night and take the first Greyhound to Utah where it would probably be a lot better off.
Anyway, enjoy the Saturday.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Of course, I'm not going to shed any tears over this. I think he deserved a send-off akin to that of Mussolini, but I do hope we show the world that we are, if nothing else, a nation that understands and respects the dead --in spite of the fact that sometimes the dead do not deserve our respect.
In the coming days, much better writers and philosophers than I will probably bring forth the inevitable question that, in light of the death toll of American soldiers surpassing those of Sept. 11th, was it, in fact, worth it?
I suppose that is for people out there to debate for what will most likely be a very long time. But, I do hope that this will be the first step in bringing our troops home.
Gadzooks! It's weird.
I woke up this morning with the feeling that I'm supposed to do something today, but, after checking the calendar, the organizer, and the sundry Post-It notes I have scattered around, I have not been able to figure it out.
It's driving me mad!
Of course, it's Friday, and it's the last Friday of 2006. I'm sure there are countless numbers of last year's resolutions that I probably should be getting around to taking care of so I can feel as though I've accomplished something, but, with me being Captain Organized, I seem to have not written them down anywhere. And, since my memory isn't that sharp, I have no idea what the hell they are. So, obviously, unfulfilled resolutions aren't what's bugging me.
The thing is, whatever it is I am forgetting seems to be pretty important since it's filling me with the cold sense of dread one normally feels when someone is standing behind them with a very large hammer. In fact, the last time I had this ominous feeling, I was talking to a very attractive woman in a bar, and apparently, the very large man standing behind me had a problem with that as I could feel his hot, whiskey-stained breath on the back of neck.
Nope. It's something else.
It's like I'm forgetting a dentist's appointment or something, and, like I said, it's driving me batty. And, I know I will wake up suffering tomorrow.
Ack! If any of you reading this know what I am supposed to be doing today, let me know, okay? After all, your guess seems to be as good as mine.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?
Holy crap. I really am awake.
2. How much cash do you have on you?
$272, and change.
3. What’s a word that rhymes with DOOR?
4. Favorite planet?
Saturn. I like rings.
5. Who is the 4th person on your missed call list on your cell phone?
Oddly. It's someone who really isn't worth missing.
6. What is your favorite ring tone on your phone?
7. What shirt are you wearing?
My favorite ratty green sweater. It's got a huge hole in the elbow, and it may have to be retired.
8. Do you label yourself?
No. Other people seem to do that for me.
9. Name the brand of the shoes you’re currently wearing?
10. Bright or Dark Room?
11. What do you think about the person who took this survey before you?
I don't know her, but she's got a boatload more brains than I'll ever have.
12. What does your watch look like?
It looks like a watch.
13. What were you doing at midnight last night?
Setting up the spreadsheet and outline for the second half of the novel I am planning on getting back to writing next week.
14. What did your last text message you received on your cell say?
"I miss you, and can't wait until Saturday."
15. Where is your nearest 7-11?
Illinois, I think.
16. What’s a word that you say a lot?
17. Who told you he/she loved you last?
18. Last furry thing you touched?
19. How many drugs have you done in the last three days?
None that weren't prescribed.
20. How many rolls of film do you need developed?
Weird. But, I think I need two.
21. Favorite age you have been so far?
Two. The world seemed pretty bright in those days. Plus, I could walk and stuff.
22. Your worst enemy?
23. What is your current desktop picture?
It's a picture of nature playing in the road.
24. What was the last thing you said to someone?
Have a nice day.
25. If you had to choose between a million bucks or to be able to fly what would it be?
I think with a million bucks I could take a lot flights. So, gimme the cash.
26. Do you like someone?
27. The last song you listened to?
Dave Brubeck's "Take Five."
28. What time of day were you born?
I don't know. I wasn't wearing a watch. But, I think it was sometime around noon-ish.
29. What’s your favorite number?
30. Where did you live in 1997?
31. Are you jealous of anyone?
I don't think so.
32. Is anyone jealous of you?
If they are, they don't know me well enough.
33. Where were you when 9/11 happened?
I was in the John Hancock building in Chicago looking out over Lake Michigan.
34. What do you do when vending machines steal your money?
I beat them for their insolence.
35. Do you consider yourself kind?
Not to those who steal my money.
36. If you had to get a tattoo, where would it be?
I want to get argyle socks tattooed on my ankles because I hate wearing socks, andI hate doing laundry. Best to kill two birds with one stone, ya know?
37. If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be?
38. Would you move for the person you loved?
Of course. Just don't tell her that.
39. Are you touchy feely?
It depends on how much I've had to drink.
40. What’s your life motto?
"It's probably there for a very good reason."
41. Name three things that you have on you at all times?
My damn cell-phone, a guitar pick, and a pack of gum.
42. What’s your favourite town/city?
Maria Alm, Austria.
43. What was the last thing you paid for with cash?
A pack of smokes.
44. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it?
Today, as a matter of fact.
45. Can you change the oil on a car?
It depends on whether or not the oil really wants to change.
46. Your first love: what is the last thing you heard about him/her?
I heard that she got divorced for the third time.
47. How far back do you know about your ancestry?
I traced it back to a time shortly before the French Revolution (actually, some relatives of mine helped a great deal). Apparently, my ancestors ran like hell to avoid the guillotine.
48. The last time you dressed fancy, what did you wear and why did you dress fancy?
I don't do fancy, but I did wear a coat and tie to a Christmas Eve party a few days ago.
49. Does anything hurt on your body right now?
Pretty much everything hurts.
50. Have you been burned by love?
Very much so.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
I always liked Gerald Ford. I think he was the last of the old-school, fiscally responsible Republican Presidents. And, for a man who had NO presidential ambitions whatsoever, I think he stepped up and did his duty and helped heal a nation when we most needed it by reaching across the political aisle and by being a genuine friend to the media (a concept entirely foreign in our current administration).
Unfortunately, his short presidency will always be tainted as a result of the alacrity with which he pardoned Richard Nixon. But, I think he did good works during his time in office.
Your thoughts on the passing of Former President Ford?
Tags: Gerald Ford
Monday, December 25, 2006
Right now, I am sipping my second mug of hot cocoa with Amaretto, the cat's sleeping on my feat, and I'm watching a pretty boring Monday Night Football game. And, since it's still Christmas, I am resisting the urge to call Joe Theismann a freaking, dim-witted knucklehead (but, if this game somehow drags on past midnight, I am so going to start screaming).
It was a nice Christmas on this end. I cooked a ton, ate a little more than a ton, and after spending entirely too much time vertical, I'm thinking this whole sitting-down thing is something I could definitely get used to.
Anyway, the week ahead is going to be one of those surreal holiday weeks where the gears inside my head spin wildly in an attempt to find some sort of purchase upon teeth which have been ground down to dull little nubs after a year of some rather shoddy intellectual clutch-work. Fortunately, I didn't get any pets or puzzles this year, so from now until New Year's, my thought-patterns will be considerably bland as I wander through this holiday void.
I like that too.
Blogfather John Scalzi, addressed this void recently, and I have to say, the confusion hasn't quite hit me yet. Sure, at times, today felt a heck of a lot like a Sunday (it really didn't help to have the Sunday Night football game on at four in the afternoon). But, all-in-all, as wonderful as Christmas was, there was also the stench of Monday in the air. The morning newspaper was a reasonable size, some of the usual TV shows were on, and all my garbage has been bundled up and lugged outside for tomorrow's pick-up.
Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean that I am immune to the weirdness of this odd, little space between the two holidays. I may very well sleep through the grunting cacophony of early-morning garbage haulers and wake up thinking it's Saturday. We're just going to have to wait and see, huh?
But, enough about me. I hope you all had a wonderful and relaxing Christmas wherever you are. I know some people say that Christmas Eve is the most magical of nights, but as I sit here with the myriad of conversations with family and friends still ringing in my ears, I think tonight is the better night. Hopefully, you all are lucky enough to go to sleep tonight with the voices of your loved ones still ringing in your ears. After all, what more does anyone really need?
Merry Christmas everyone!
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
Now, I've been blogging for almost a year, and still this world of digitized words amazes me. Indeed, our planet is growing smaller and smaller every day. I find it unbelievably interesting that our world is so small now that we are privy to some of the personal thoughts and emotions of our world's leaders.
Dr. Ahmadinejad is very outspoken to the people of the world, and I do respect his convictions. However, I also realize that every world leader (including our own president) should be approached with skepticism, and we should always be aware that they all do have an agenda. But, this being Christmas, I think I can cast aside my skepticism for a moment and see his wishes as a genuine attempt toward peace. And, Peace is something that every fiber of my being sincerely hopes for within this world.
So, you know, if you feel like it, put on your best manners and head over there to wish Dr. Ahmadinejad and the people of Iran a Merry Christmas.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Anyway, speaking of writing: I do try to encourage it whenever I can. I love to see what people write, and I love reading their words. After all, everyone has a story to tell. It could be any ol' blogger. It could be the crazy guy on the street with a sign demanding voting rights for imported cheese. Everyone has something to say.
Unfortunately, this time of year, as Christmas races up to smack me in the face, there is the constant of my brother's Annual Family Newsletter (yes. He's one of those people).
Now, normally, I don't mind getting those little literary pearls of family activity. I have a friend who sends them out, and since I rarely talk to this friend, I find it a good way to catch up on the tedious minutiae of his domestic existence.
Wow! Little Timmy won a tee-ball game? Amazing! I didn't even think they kept score in tee-ball. He must be a natural.
As wonderful as it is to receive such heart warming news, I have to admit, my brother's newsletters are painful in their irrelevancy. Unlike the friend I mentioned above to whom I speak maybe four or five times a year, I talk to my brother four or five times a week. Yet, for some odd reason, he feels the need to send me this little run-down of the past year. And, whenever I read his little missives, I can't help but feel as though I am reading the book upon which the movie I just saw was based.
Wow! My nephew lost another tooth? Amaz... wait a minute. I was there when you, like the maliciously clumsy father you are, knocked the tooth out when you threw that football into his face.
What's that? Your family took a cruise. Why am I always the last to... Was that the time you asked me to house-sit and feed your hell-beast of a cat who leapt from the back of the sofa and nearly clawed my eyes out when I was trying to water your plants? I've still got scars on my ankle from that bastard of an animal, but I'm happy you had fun in the Bahamas. Sorry about the blood stains on the living room rug and the arterial splatter marks on the walls. I'm sure by the next newsletter, you will write about how you've recently had your carpet replaced and your walls painted.
The odd thing is --and perhaps as a result of some sort of tremendously discrete wiring in my brain-- I hung the newsletter on my fridge. I don't know why. Somewhere deep inside me a voice said, "you have to hang this up." And, there it sits. Mocking me. And, there is only one thing I can do to make me feel better:
Tomorrow, I am going to grab my red pen and practice my proofreading and editing skills on this little unsolicited manuscript. Then, I will stick it back on my fridge with all the blood-red ink and see how long it takes him to notice.
[Insert maniacal laughter here]
Tags: Family Newsletter Hell
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Hopefully, the glitch is on my end since I'm feeling kind of stupid at the moment. I was literally up all night with DogCat who came home yesterday with a wound on his paw, and I had to keep him inside to give him antibiotics and (get this) soak his wounded foot in a bowl of warm, soapy water.
Not a good idea to do that with a very large cat who's got some tremendously sharp claws.
On the other hand, DogCat on tranquilizers and a laser pointer is kind of fun.
Anyway, the latest release of AOL Journals is out, and I can see we are now able to easily tag our posts. I'm sure Joe and Stephanie will have a lot to say about this. However, If you haven't tinkered around with Technorati, you really should. I think tagging is a great way to get AOL Journals out there into the greater blogosphere. Plus, since I'm having brain troubles this morning from not being able to sleep for 24+ hours, clicking and drooling is about all I'm pretty much capable of at this point.
So, slap some tags onto your journals, and let me know. Sometimes it's a great time-waster just clicking on those things to see who's saying what. Right now, though, I'm off to crash.
Monday, December 18, 2006
I don't know why I've been snapping pictures of naturally refrigerated waterfowl lately, but it's fun getting used to this new camera of mine. It's got more things than a neophyte such as myself could ever use or understand. But, I like it.
Anyway, here's another shot of a frozen pond with ducks.
Anyway, the weather here has actually been remarkably warm considering it's December in Wisconsin, and usually, by this time of year, I'm huddled up in front of the self-cleaning oven clutching a bottle of whiskey with my mittened little mitts while my fur-coated cats laugh at me.
However, my perpetually pessimistic brother dropped by yesterday to remind me that it is, in fact, winter by telling me, "we're going to pay for this weather in February. We'll be buried under twelve-feet of snow, it's going to be dark and we're all going to die. Oh! And how old is this ham in your fridge?"
Anyway, I'm off to enjoy the balmy, unseasonably warm thirty-three degree day (hey! At least it's above freezing). Perhaps I'll see if I can find a nice picture of ducks doing duck-type things on less solid water.
100-year-old man finally receives his college degree
I mean, seriously? How tough could Chemistry 101 have been in 1929? Weren't there only like four or five elements back in those days? Earth, Water, Wind, Fire and Alcohol?
Of course, this story does have a rather heart-warming side to it. In 1929, as a result of the Great Depression, Marvin L. "Hub" Northern had to leave Baylor University to work to help his family and subsequently never returned to school to get that required Chemistry credit. Fortunately, the folks at Baylor let him substitute the last 77 years of his life for that Chemistry class and gave him a diploma.
Kenneth Harrison has problems with people stealing things from him. So, he prints out a counterfeit hundred-dollar bill with the intention of having the thieves steal it and get busted.
Unfortunately for Mr. Harrison, the bill was traced back to him, and he's now in big trouble.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Now, I don't know if you've seen this late-19th Century photograph that's been bopping around teh intertubes, but apparently the good folks at the The Sheboygan Press are having a bit of trouble trying to figure out just what the heck is going on here, and why is that man in the top hat sitting on a dead horse at the intersection of 8th Street and Indiana Avenue in Sheboygan, Wisconsin?
In the photo, a dead horse lies in the street, roped off with string tied to stakes in the dirt road. A man in a top hat, bow tie and jacket sits on top of the horse, and people in the background are standing still, looking toward the camera.
"I always just assumed it was taken as a joke or something like that," said Bill Wangemann, Sheboygan city historian. "I was never able to find out anything about it. What the story behind that (picture) is, I don't have the foggiest notion."
So, you know, if any of you can come up with a reason or story behind this, feel free to write it up in your own blogs and journals, and leave a link in the comments-section here.
Oh! And, if anyone actually knows the true story behind this odd, little picture, please feel free to contact Janet Ortegon at the Sheboygan Press: firstname.lastname@example.org
Now, let the madness begin...
Friday, December 15, 2006
This little guy was slipping and sliding all over the place on the frozen --but melting-- pond by my house. It was kind of fun to watch.
Now, it's been established (thanks to Paul) that the white duck walking on water is Jesus Duck. So, in order to prove that the battle of Good and Evil is, in fact, taking place on the frozen lagoon by my house, here's a (unfortunately blurry) picture of an all-black duck.
It's funny, you know? I expected Armageddon to be a little bigger and much, much warmer.
Sometimes, sweet and delicious irony is just, well, beyond my meager words. Next time, they should maybe think about hiring Canadians.
Border Fence Firm Snared for Hiring Illegal Workers(link)
by Scott Horsley
All Things Considered, December 14, 2006 · A fence-building company in Southern California agrees to pay nearly $5 million in fines for hiring illegal immigrants. Two executives from the company may also serve jail time. The Golden State Fence Company's work includes some of the border fence between San Diego and Mexico.
Let's say you finish a big job ahead of schedule, and when all is said and done on the task, you flop down in your chair, let out a big, happy sigh in your isolation, and you find yourself thinking that something is missing. There should be so much more. People should know that you did a damn good job.
Well, if you worked for Turkish Airlines, one way to celebrate a job well done and completed ahead of schedule is to sacrifice a camel.
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Workers at Turkish Airlines celebrated a job well done by sacrificing a camel at Istanbul airport and their boss has now been suspended.Well, yeah, that's one way of doing it, I guess. Personally, I've always been more of a go to Happy Hour, sacrifice a bottle of something, and whoop it up with my crazy friends. However, this camel thing might just catch on. After all, it's probably a lot easier on the head the next morning.
The national flag-carrier said on Wednesday maintenance staff killed the camel at Turkey's busiest airport after sending a batch of aircraft back to the supplier ahead of schedule.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
This is as far as I made it up Mt. Hood. It was late-June, and I pulled my Jeep into the parking lot of The Timberline Lodge, got my room, unloaded my Jeep and walked upstairs to the little bar for a drink. And, as far as I was concerned, that was about as close to the summit as I needed to be. Anything after that, well... that's just nutty.
It takes a special person to climb a mountain. And, it takes a special and crazy person to climb a mountain in North America in December. After all, it takes very little for all that rain in the Pacific Northwest to turn into a ridiculous amount of snow on the slopes of Mt. Hood. In fact, when I was there some years back, the morning after my feeble attempt to summit the hotel lounge, I awoke to a thick blanket of new-fallen snow in late-June. That was just wrong in my world. And it was enough of a snowfall to make my descent from the mountain somewhat sketchy as I did my best to keep my little Jeep from turning into an out-of-control toboggan.
Now, all week, we've seen reports splashed across all the networks about the three stranded climbers who, for no other reason than the fact that the mountain was there, decided to summit this sleeping volcano in the bone-freezing cold of mid-December. I think it takes equal parts of skill and luck to climb to a snow-capped peak. And, no matter how accomplished a climber is, Mother Nature is a capricious beast, and no one can truly be prepared for the tantrums she throws when we try to challenge her.
The amazing thing is that humanity's desire to survive is sometimes stronger than the things Mother Nature tosses at us, and, amazingly, I still believe the drama unfolding on the slopes of Mount Hood will end with those three climbers finding their way back to The Timberline Lodge.
Imagine if you will, two dolphins in China are having a hard time digesting the shards of plastic which have somehow found their way into their tummies. And, what do you do when all medical procedures have failed and the average reach of every other person in China is just a little too short to remove the plastic?
Well, call the World's Tallest Man, and save the dolphins.
I like this story. It's a little gross, but it certainly is a feel-good tale to warm the heart on this cold, gray morning in Wisconsin.
Buy that giant some Maotai, and stop feeding the dolphins your old record albums!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Sometimes I have to wonder about Christians. I mean, I can't be the only one who sees the hypocrisy of a Christian-based video-game based upon the premise of "Convert or Die."
"It's an incredibly violent video game," said [Clark Stevens, co-director of the Campaign to Defend the Constitution]. "Sure, there is no blood. (The dead just fade off the screen.) But you are mowing down your enemy with a gun. It pushes a message of religious intolerance. You can either play for the 'good side' by trying to convert nonbelievers to your side or join the Antichrist."Sounds good. It's a "Christian" video-game where you run around gunning down bad guys who ally themselves with the Antichrist. But, just who are these "bad guys?"
The enemy team includes fictional rock stars and folks with Muslim-sounding names, while the righteous include gospel singers, missionaries, healers and medics. Every character comes with a life story.Yes. It's obvious. Let's create a video game which openly advocates religious intolerance.
When asked about the Arab and Muslim-sounding names, [Left Behind Games' president, Jeffrey] Frichner said the game does not endorse prejudice. But "Muslims are not believers in Jesus Christ" -- and thus can't be on Christ's side in the game.
"That is so obvious," he said.
The ironic thing is that many Christians scream about the hazards of games like Grand Theft Auto, and their ability to warp the minds of our children to the point that they will embark on an uncontrolled car-stealing, hooker-beating killing spree. However, now, Christians have created a game which could embrace many of the same complaints they had about the GTA series.
Of course, the only question I really have is what is the name of this rock-star killing, post-raptured, Christian Warrior? Can we call him Mark David Chapman?
Looking for a little something to peruse to help nudge you over this little Hump Day? Maybe you're looking for a little bloggy meta-madness to toss on that dwindling Yuletide fire? Need a last minute gift?
I recommend you stuff the stockings of those you love with the latest issue of CarnivAOL.
Check it out now, and be one of the cool people this holiday season.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
For me, the only Christmas song that can make me stop wherever I am and crank the stereo to 11 is Emerson, Lake and Palmer's song "I Believe in Father Christmas."
On my old system, I used to have two Bose 901 speakers hanging by chains from my ceiling a couple of feet from the wall, and I used to play that song so loud, my 901's would actually start swinging (I'm pretty sure Paul can appreciate this).
Anyway, here are the lyrics to the tune:
They said there'll be snow at ChristmasSo, what's your favorite Christmas song?
They said there'll be peace on Earth
But instead it just kept on raining
A veil of tears for the VIRGIN BIRTH
I remember one Christmas morning
A winters light and a distant choir
And the peal of a bell and that Christmas Tree smell
AND EYES full of tinsel and fire
They sold me a dream of Christmas
They sold me a Silent Night
And they told me a fairy story
'Till I believed in the Israelite
And I believed in Father Christmas
And I looked to the sky with excited eyes
'Till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
And I saw him and through his disguise
I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave New Year
All anguish pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear
They said there'll be snow at Christmas
They said there'll be peace on Earth
Hallelujah Noel be it Heaven or Hell
The Christmas we get we deserve
*update* I had to do a bit of digging, but I just found and played this song, and I played it loud enough to wake up DeafCat. That's what she gets sleeping so close to the subwoofer when I'm listening to ELP, I guess. If I still had my vinyl, I'm thinking she'd have gone flying across the room.
Friday, December 8, 2006
I love this picture. This little girl looks like she's going to smack poor Santa into the middle of next week.
Anyway, here's a gallery of pictures of kids who are afraid of Santa, as well as some pictures of Santas which kids should be afraid of. Some Santas look a little drunk. Some look dead tired. It's funny stuff.
It was Christmas Eve in the city, and I stood at the window watching an ambient snow tumble lazily from the sky as though the flakes were feathers. A part of me knew this evening had all the makings for a perfect Christmas; it was the kind we all read about and begged for as children, but never really saw. Tonight was a special night. It was rare, and as I watched the snow, and the world filled with a joyous anticipation of a "perfect" Christmas morning, I knew three who were going to die tonight.
I was pulled from my admiration of the winter scene beyond my window by the ringing of my cell phone.
"Hello," I said as I walked into the kitchen to fill a glass with scotch.
"Hey, man," the caller said. "I got your money. So far, I've only been able to find Mr. S. But, if he's there, the other two aren't far behind."
"Where?" I asked and took a sip of my drink.
"Not far from you," my source said. "He's at Klaus'."
"Thanks," I said. I closed my phone, slipped it into my pocket, emptied my glass, grabbed my gun and was out the door before the harsh booze could bring a grimace to my face.
Klaus' Haus of Hookers and Hooch was not exactly the kind of place where a person would want to celebrate Christmas Eve if they didn't have to. The only folks who hung out there on this night were liquored-up, pissed-off, department store Santas and the criminal element looking for a quiet place to spend their loot while getting loaded and comparing bullet wounds.
"Merry Christmas." The lump behind the bar spoke from a mouth full of tooth as he clutched a smoldering cigar with his gums. "What can I get you?"
"Scotch," I said. "Double."
As the lump shuffled to fill my drink, I scanned the bar and saw the bespectacled Mr. S sitting at a table in the corner washing down a bowl of peanuts with a glass of what looked like whiskey --A healthy dinner if you're a rodent.
I tossed a five on the bar, grabbed my drink, took a sip and sidled up to Mr. S' table.
"That's a nice blue sweater," I said.
"Are yougay or something?" He shot back in a squeaky voice as he looked up at me.
"I'm not the one wearing the blue turtle-neck," I said.
"Look buddy," he said. "Do I know you?"
"No," I said and took a drink. "But I know you."
"So," he sat back, pushed up his glasses and shrugged. "Lots of people know me."
"That's right," I said as I put my hand in my pocket and felt the barrel of my gun. For a moment, I thought about pulling it out and covering the wall with the brains of this rodent. "You guys sang that one Christmas song."
"Yeah," he said as he finished his drink. "Buy me a drink and I'll autograph something for you. And get me some more damn peanuts."
I caught the attention of the lump behind the bar and held up two fingers before I sat down across from the beady-eyed Mr. S. "I don't want your autograph."
"Fine," he said quickly. "What the hell do you want?
"Where are the other two?" I asked.
"They're supposed to be meeting me here," he said. "We're supposed to put in an appearance at the Wal-Mart over on 8th."
"Can you freaking believe it?" he interrupted. "We were top of the charts. We did Caesars, and now we're playing a god damned Wal-Mart in the middle of freakin' nowhere on Christmas freakin' Eve. Talk about crap representation, huh?"
"Yeah, but..." I started.
"'Yeah, but' nothing." He chirped quickly. "We were planning a comeback. Things were going good until some no-talent hack from American Idol took our place with Ricky Martin crap. And, when he was gone, we've got that whining poser, James Blunt, to deal with."
I sat there half-listening to him. A part of me wanted to put my gun on the table and do what I could to convince him to just end it once and for all. But, I wanted to get all three at once, and I wanted it to be painful. After the millions who have suffered at the hands of these little vermin, I'd be doing the world a big favor. Besides, I was actually getting paid for this hit. I was getting paid a lot, and what with it being Christmas and all, I figured the least I could do is give my employer his money's worth.
"Are you listening to me?" Mr. S. barked. "I'm telling you, he's got a big problem. He might as well be shooting straight D-Con into his veins."
"Who?" I asked.
"Al," he said. "He's a freakin' strung-out junkie, and we're nothing without him."
All three of you will pretty much be nothing in a couple of hours anyway, rodent. I thought as he ordered us a couple more drinks. "So," I began, "what time are they supposed to be here?"
Mr. S looked at his watch and glanced back up at me, "ten minutes ago, but they probably made a stop or two. Bastards."
Our conversation was interrupted by a commotion at the front of the bar, and an ear-straining, castrati voice. "Hey Klaus! Where the ho's?"
Laughter peppered the bar and tables as the somewhat chubby Mr. A approached Mr. S and myself. "What up, S?" He said.
"You're late," Mr. S said. "And where's Ted?"
"He's in the van," Al said and nodded in my direction. "Who's the mook?"
"That's a pretty red sweater," I replied. "I'm a fan, of sorts."
"He's cool," Mr. S said quickly and looked at me. "Can you do me a favor?"
"It depends," I said.
"Could you drive us over to the Wal-Mart?" He asked. "I've had a lot of Jack, and Ted lost his license, and Al here can't drive worth a damn."
"Blow me, Simon," Al said.
"Not a problem," I replied. "I need to pick up some things anyway."
The temperature outside felt as though it had dropped a few degrees, the wind picked up, and the light snowfall earlier had now transformed into the makings of a considerable mess of a heavy, white blanket. The three of us piled into the van with a shiver.
"Who's this?" Ted said from the back as Al slid in beside him.
"He's a fan," Alsaid.
"We have fans?" Ted sounded surprised.
I laughed a little at that as I adjusted the seat and put the van in drive. The tires spun a bit in the snow, gained traction, and I pulled out and made my way to our destination. "Oy! I sighed. "It's kind of slick out here."
"This sucks," Simon said. "Who do they think is going to be there?"
"Losers," Al said as I heard him shuffle in the seat behind me. "Just keep is slow and steady, man."
"I'm doing my best," I said. "The roads are pretty bad, though."
"I've seen worse," Al said defiantly. "Hey! Tie me off Theodore."
"No way," Ted said. "You don't need that."
"The hell I don't," Al said as he loaded up his needle. "It's freakin' Christmas Eve at a damn Wal-Mart, man. Now just do it."
"Shut up and help him out, Theodore," Simon said as he stared out the window. "Just go easy on that crap, Alvin."
"Hey, douche! Call me Al," Alvin said.
For a moment, I felt a little sorry for Simon. He seemed like a smart guy who'd gotten a pretty unfair shake in life. It couldn't have been easy being around these two. And, as I dropped them off at the front door of the Wal-Mart and parked the car, I couldn't help but think that not only was I doing the world a favor, but I'd probably be doing Simon one as well.
"Merry Christmas," the greeter said tiredly.
"Ditto," I replied as I shot past him and grabbed a large jug of peanuts and made my way quickly to Housewares.
"Can I help you?" A voice said as I scanned the shelves.
Man. They must be really slow tonight, I thought, and turned around to see a chipper, young lady smiling a gleaming, saccharine smile at me.
"Are you looking for something in particular?" She asked.
"Yes. I need some rat poison." I said and scratched my head for no particular reason.
"Oh," she smiled. "That's over between Sporting Goods and Lawn & Garden."
"Thanks a bunch," I said happily and started to step away.
"Careful with that stuff," she said with a small laugh. "The Chipmunks are here, and we wouldn't want any accidents."
I returned her laugh. "It... err.. There won't be any accidents."
"I hope they don't do that song," I heard her say as I made my way quickly to the hazardous chemicals, and I began to feel as though my work tonight was now a noble pursuit.
"Can I help you?" I heard a man's voice say from Sporting Goods.
"Jesus," I said as I turned to face him. "Are you sure this is a freakin' Wal-Mart?"
"I know," he laughed. "It's really slow, and I'm bored enough to start cleaning the shotguns."
"I'm looking for rat poison," I said. "D-Con would be nice if you have it."
"I'll show you," he said as he walked past me. "We have it right over here."
"Thanks." I said and followed close.
It was a short walk with idle banter about the weather and the increase in rat infestations during this time of year. I'd like to say I learned something, but really, I was in too much of a hurry to make it to before the Chipmunks took the stage near the Electronics section. And when my guide pulled from the shelf a small black and yellow box with a picture of a rat with X's for eyes, I took it from him with a quick thanks, and walked quickly away.
Along the way, I dove into the most sensible place I could think of where the security cameras wouldn't be needed in a Wal-Mart, and I crouched down among the books of the Science Fiction aisle, opened my jug of peanuts, and began to fumble with the box of poison.
After tearing open the small bag and liberally seasoning the peanuts, I closed the lid with a spin and stuffed the empty box of poison behind a small pile of sharp looking blue books with sheep on the cover written by an author I'd never heard of.
That should be safe there for a good long time, I thought as I grabbed a copy of the book so as to not raise any suspicion, and stood andlooked up and down the empty aisle before making my way to the Electronics section.
"Hey man," Simon said as I popped in behind the small stage.
"Who's this," Someone named Lisa with a well-polished manager tag pinned to her shirt said.
"Who do you think it is?" Alvin squeaked and slurred. "This is our new god damned manager. Now, go introduce us!"
"Hey guys," I said happily trying to fit into the role. I offered the jug of nuts to Theodore. "I got you something to eat before you rock this house."
"Awesome," Theodore said as he spun the top off and let it fall to the floor. "Man. Dave was never this good to us."
I laughed a little and watched them jam pawful after pawful of peanuts into their mouths and told them that I'd be out front catching the show.
I found a decent place to stand by a display of Chipmunk Christmas DVDs, and I watched as Lisa took the stage and shouted an introduction to the crowd of about ten that had gathered. And, after she had mentioned a 10% discount on all specially marked Christmas DVDs, The Chipmunks swaggered tiredly onto the stage, and stepped up the their tiny microphones.
Their first song was their most famous Christmas tune, and subsequently the reason why I was hired to put an end to their ever singing it again. And, as they started to play the first few bars of "Christmas Don't Be Late," I began to see the results of my machinations.
Being the youngest of the three, the first to show signs was Theodore. Shortly into the song, he appeared to be cramping, and, soon after clutching his stomach, he fell to the ground in a buckled over mass of twitching, vomit-covered rodent.
After seeing his brother on the floor, Simon stopped singing and brushed the glasses from his face. A lens shattered as they hit the floor, and he stumbled to help his fallen sibling. However, he made it only a few steps before crapping himself and falling down to die with a gurgling, belching gasp.
However, Alvin, as a result of the heroin in his system, the rat poison must have turned into a low-grade form of crack, and his voice transformed from his trademark high-pitched squeal into a shrill, throaty rumble as a blood-flecked foam started to run down his chin.
"Oh my god!" someone in the small audience screamed. "Alvin's gone feral!"
"He's rabid!" Came another voice.
Alvin tried his best, from what I saw. However, in his failing state, he began twitching, his eyes narrowed, and where there should have been a line begging for a hula-hoop, there was a barely-coherent, Jim Morrison style stream of profanities.
Alvin threw the microphone on the ground, and turned on the remaining crowd and looked directly toward me. He mouthed a handful of silent words and leapt from the stage toward me. I could see the bloodied fangs of this rodent as he sailed through the air.
Instinctively, I jabbed my hand in my pocket and made a grab for my gun. However, my efforts were cut short by a deafening blast coming from over my shoulder, and as I fell to the ground with my hands clutching my ears, I saw the flying Alvin explode into a cloud of bloody fur as the blast hit him dead on the letter "A" on the chest of his sweater. All that remained was a small, red baseball cap which landed near me.
I stood up still covering my now ringing ears and turned to see the man from Sporting Goods standing with a shotgun as the barrel sent out thin, blue-white wisps of spent powder.
"Well," he said happily, "I guess I will be cleaning the shotguns after all."
"Thanks," I said.
"Eh," he shrugged. "I was pretty much just planning on shooting them anyway. Nice to have an excuse though."
"Yeah," I said. "I hate that freakin' song too."
With my ears still slightly ringing, I paid for my book and felt my phone vibrate in my pocket as I walked out into the snow. I looked at the number and answered the call. "Hello, Mr. Seville."
"Is it done?" The caller asked.
"I'd say so," I replied. "You won't hear from them again."
"And Alvin?"He asked. "Did he suffer?"
"Very much, Mr. Seville," I said. "Let's just say that anyone who takes home a Christmas DVD this year will be taking a little bit of Alvin home with them."
"Outstanding," Mr. Seville said. "I'll wire you your money now."
"Thanks," I said. "Merry Christmas, Dave. I hope you enjoy it."
"You have no idea," He said.
Thursday, December 7, 2006
Well, I just got back from the doc's, and apparently, things are pretty good. The aches and pains aren't too bad aside from that which has been permanently damaged from the arthritis. So, the infusions are definitely a sweet little hook up.
Even my blood pressure was low. And not just low, but dead-people low. 106/60. I'm blown away by that since the guy who was sitting next to me in the waiting room had some obnoxious little video-game belching out all sorts of brain-shredding beeps, bonks, chirps and doinks, and I began to twitch and fantasize about locking the dumb bastard up in a room full of those annoying gizmos for several weeks. Then, when he begs for mercy, I'll dispense a little water-boarding until he tells me he's an idiot.
Still... The blood pressure was low. Amazing. It's like a ninja in a knife fight kind of low.
On top of that, my doctor, a very kind but very strong old lady, limped in with a broken foot that she apparently damaged falling down some stairs. I told her that's no good, and from now on, she should tell people that she broke her foot while base-jumping. After all, that's what Dr. House would do, and well, if anyone can pull it off, it's got to be her.
However, I think she wanted to lock me up when I occasionally started giggling as I was thinking of a good spin to put on Scalzi's Weekend Assignment. I am not going to give it away, but I do intend to have a hell of a lot of fun with it, and hopefully I'll have it up early tomorrow to get you all ready for a damn silly weekend.
All-in-all, though, I think it was a pretty decent day today. Good news from the doctor is always a bonus since I'm not exactly a model of good, clean living with my steady diet of bacon and Jägermeister.
Thanks for all the encouraging words about my previous entry. Believe it or not, I could really go into detail about my ex-girlfriend which would probably lead a handful of you to hyperventilate with maniacal laughter. But, the fact of the matter is, she's not a "bad" human being, and I actually feel sorry for her sometimes. Still... Freakin' crazy!
I am in one hell of a grumpy, sort of mood today, and as far as I can tell, it most likely has to do with a sociopath ex-girlfriend who has an odd way of making the holidays considerably more annoying than they really have to be. Part of me misses her like crazy, and part of me is damn happy she's gone.
She's the kind of woman who, in order to figure out, it would require the same level of mental gymnastics and blazing acumen required for solving Einstein's Unified Field theory.
However, if I could bend time and space, I'd go back to that night almost seven years ago where I stood at her door with a bottle of Auslese in one hand and a finger hovering over the doorbell. And, had I known then what I know now, I'd have left a note saying: "Sorry, honey. I have a pretty good notion that you are utterly bat-shit crazy. I do hope you understand." Then, I'd have turned around and headed home to drink my bottle of wine and enjoy writing novels in my bachelorhood rather than enter into a relationship which was about as stable as a drunken monkey with a machine gun.
Unfortunately, seven years ago I rang that bell, fell in love, and since then my life has been a swirling emotional maelstrom at the hands of this free-range female lunatic.
Anyway, the first go-'round with this crazy lady lasted about six months before she left me for a thirty-year-old, overweight, underachieving law-student (ick) who, as it turns out, had more fun playing Dungeons & Dragons with his buddies than he did spending time with her (eeeesh!).
I mean, seriously. That's just wrong. As crazy as the woman is, she still has much more to offer than some swarthy tart of a 15th level cleric --even a swarthy tart of a cleric with a +5 to save against Ogres (if you're into that sort of thing). Even though she was as nutty as a box of squirrel turds, she was brilliant and beautiful to the point of making my retinas sizzle every time I saw her smile.
Nonetheless, at that time, I figured I'd step as far out of her life as I could. However, six months later, she was back complaining and unloading the unbearable minutiae of her miserable life with the guy she left me for.
Fair? Not really.
But, I did my best to be a kind and compassionate friend because, deep down, she could be a very nice person, and even though she's utterly bonkers, she and I had a certain inexplicable chemistry that just kept pulling us together.
Needless to say, the story only goes downhill from there with her getting married to her dungeon master, divorcing said geek, and taking up with me again only to once again dump me for the same damn knucklehead she dumped me for six and a half years ago.
Yup. It's a real "Mr. Forehead meet Mr. Wall," sort of thing, don't you think?
Will she be back? It's very hard to say no. But, I'm thinking I may just nudge back time a bit to seven years ago, and not push that doorbell should the opportunity present itself.
Then again, I have to admit, it certainly wasn't a tedious or boring relationship. I mean, if those things are like work, what I had seems to be not entirely unlike a nice, precarious position in the bomb disposal unit. Still though, the occasional thought of that maniac running through my mind is still enough to gum up my emotional wheels and cogs.
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
Good God, man!
I suppose, on the plus side, it "feels like" a balmy minus three degrees, and not, say, minus six. Yes. Minus six would be too damn cold. But, minus three? I can handle that. That's almost beach weather.
As you can see, the conditions are considered "fair." In other words, they could be worse. Of course, that doesn't help. After all, waking up to this cold is a pretty good reason to start drinking whiskey for breakfast.
Moreover, I live in the "South." Sure, it may be South Milwaukee, but it's at least south of something, and in my world, things are always warmer in the South. After all, this isn't North Dakota where people step outside screaming and explode like saplings in the cold.
Oh well... At least I can see ten miles. And, I figure ten miles south of here, it probably feels like zero degrees --in other words, it feels like nothing. I would like that. It's not too hot; it's not too cold. It's nothing.
Ack! It's going to be a long winter...
Apparently, my name is splattered all over the place to the point that I am now being confused for someone who actually works for AOL. I don't. And, I really don't envy those folks like Editor Jeff and Manager Stephanie who do work for AOL and get smacked around like a piñata every time something around here breaks (although, I will admit to occasionally having the fantasy of beating Jeff with a stick in the hopes of making candy come out, but that's another story).
Anyway, when I signed on this morning, I was greeted with the usual barrage of instant messages for me to ignore. Usually, the spammers and MySpace trolls IM twice and go away, and, if someone IMs me more than three or four times, I'll open it up and see what it's all about. And, one of the instant messages contained the line that is the title of this entry: "i saw your name online and i thought you are work for aol."
Obviously, I loved this person's odd choice of words and fractured grammar. I really do want to be a total chore.
Sunday, December 3, 2006
DeafCat's not quite right. She sleeps on top of her head on the hardwood floor in front of the heat. I don't know how she can stand it, and when I try to pick her up, I almost need potholders to handle her.
In other cat news, DogCat seems to have gone missing. He went out Thursday night before the blizzard, and I've not seen him since. I did see some footprints in the snow, and it's not really unusual for him to disappear for a couple of days at a time. But, I suppose I will have to call the animal lock-up to see if he's there if he doesn't show up by this afternoon.
*update 11:40 am* As I was lugging a bag of garbage out, a chattering black and white blur shot by me in the deep show, completely avoiding the shoveled sidewalk on his way to the back door of the house, and once inside, DogCat devoured everything in sight and went to bed without so much as a word as to where he'd been for the past two days.
Friday, December 1, 2006
Since I'm not a super-great photographer like Dorn (who takes awesome pictures, by the way), I just ordered a nifty little point-and-shoot Canon PowerShot. It's kind of tiny, and light-years away from the utter coolness of my brother's new Nikon digital SLR. But, I think it'll do the job and then some.
Anyway, since the camera didn't arrive until a couple of hours after sunset, and since there were the remnants of a blizzard which I wanted to snap some pictures of, I decided to take my beat-up little, old camera into the woods to snap some shots while I was out doing donuts in my Jeep (big fun, that).
The city of Milwaukee wound up picking up about sixteen inches of a pretty, new snow, and so long as one stayed indoors, the forty-mile-per-hour wind wasn't an issue. Outside, however, it was an exfoliation from hell with icy, little needles blasting my face.
On the plus side, not too far from my house is a good sized park with all sorts of perks. Chiefly, it's a county park, and because of that, the roads are always kept tidy with hourly plowing and a copious seasoning of rock salt. The city streets were essentially impassable, but, once in the park, it was as though it snowed a couple of days ago.
I think one of the things I really like about big snowstorms is how the snow piles upon the limbs and branches of the trees to create a wildly intricate lattice of a bright white silhouette where the trees once stood.
The real bummer was that I couldn't drive down to the beach since they close it off. However, one year, after a snowstorm, they did tinker with trying to plow it out, but, sadly, the dump-truck got to the bottom of the hill, and couldn't get back up. Then, plans were made, and a rescue attempt was launched to retrieve the stranded hunk of city equipment. The city bravely sent down another dump truck with its plow scraping the snow from the road, and when two city workers lumbered their way up the hill on foot from the beach, it became clear that not only would it be a little more difficult plowing the snow from now on, but those trucks were probably going to be parked down there until spring.
Anyway, it's been a long day of shoveling, shoveling, and let's see... more shoveling. But, before I call it a night, here's what will probably be the last picture I take with my poor old Olympus (which is good because it started to get a little wonky by this time):
We've got a lot of snow here. Anyone want it? It's free, and all you have to do is come and get it. You can turn your entire town into a winter wonderland for Christmas. The children will thank you, and they won't grow up to be criminals.
On the plus side, apparently my camera is on a truck and headed this way --somehow.
Oy! What a mess...