Sunday, August 31, 2008

so. It's late(ish) and there's a lot more to go with spELlcaster, but it's not going to happen tonight. (Sorry!)

I need to get the pooka to sleep, and then probably head off to bed myself. I'm annoyed with myself for not having started writing this sooner, because I know I could've completed it if I'd tried harder. But I will do so. I'm going to spend the next day or two finishing it up (I have a good idea of where it's going up to a point, and then...it's kinda up in the air) and I'll be sure to publish it once it's done.

And, since it's end of the month, here's my wordle.net of August:
http://wordle.net/gallery/wrdl/154859/Augustblog

spELlcaster Part 4

"A seed? ...Like a child?" I was thoroughly confused. Fumans had left things behind before - vehicles, documents (largely indecipherable, although there were large groups of people attempting even to this day), weapons (oh, and the US military had had a field day with those), and various knick-knacks that presumably meant something in the year 748,282 AD [which is where we had determined they were traveling from], but had those of us still in the 21st century were only frustrating puzzle pieces. But they'd never left behind anything living.

Thus far the time travelers modus operandi had been to appear - generally outside some sparsely populated town - and then take things. Or people. Or animals. ...and then vanish again.

Sometimes they stuck around for a while, taking in the sights, and grabbing various souvenirs, but none of them had been in our time for longer than three days at a time. And the last one had appeared over a year back, when it had been believed that we had stopped them. "We" being us spellcasters, of course.
Because the Fumans were impervious to everything that the various world militaries had thrown at them. For the most part, conventional weaponary was ignored by the future humans. Occasionally they'd strike back, as if they were annoyed by an insect buzzing at them.
They had also largely ignored any attempts at communication - probably because they couldn't understand us. Or were choosing to. Lord knows we couldn't understand them.

The only thing that got through to them - in any way - was bending. We could hurt them with bending, we could stop them from moving, we could stop their weapons from destroying things, we could even send them back, and plug up their time traveling capabilities. Or so we had thought.

"No, not a child," Stone told me. "A plant. A ...well, a ..carrot. Sort of." She touched a few buttons on her handheld device and turned it to show me a photo. I saw a large glass aquarium, approximately 7 feet tall, filled with soil and a gigantic orange monstrosity. It was triangular and wrinkled and did somewhat resemble a carrot. But it also had a face. A human face.

I wrinkled my face in disgust. "Almost enough to make one swear off being a vegetarian," I joked, handing Stone her computer back.

"Yeah," she said, "Well, it gets odder. Two days ago, the carrot spoke. And it asked to see you."

spELlcaster Part 3

I led the two agents into my living room, mentioning them toward the couch, while I headed toward the kitchen. "Either of you care for something to drink? I've got bottled water, or I can put on some tea or coffee."

Stone, sitting on the couch, shook her head. "I'd rather just get to business, if that's okay with you, El."
Sticks was still walking around the living room, investigating my bookshelf, looking at the artwork on my walls, taking it all in. The stress of having these two intruders in my home was building. Especially given my history with their organization. If they truly needed my help, they could've been much more personable, and at least attempted to put me at ease.

I ground my teeth and opened the fridge, grabbing myself a bottle of Aquafina and making my way back into the living room. I stood, leaning against the wall, facing Stone. I took a sip of the water and said, "So. How'd you guys find me?"

Stone raised an eyebrow slightly. "I thought that would've been obvious. The RDA is able to track all spellcasters. Of course, having several in our employ is helpful, as well."

Now it was my turn to raise an eyebrow. "I didn't think that the RDA was still using spellcasters. After the president was turned into a dinosaur during..."

Stone cut me off, "Yes, that was an unfortunate misfire."

"Well, bending can be unstable," I said. "Which is part of the reason I've stopped."

The two agents shared a look at each other. Sticks spoke up, "You are still able to bend?"

Offended, I said, "Of course I can! I just choose not to. It does take a toll on us, you know. There are many reasons why bending shouldn't be done. Least of which is the accidental transformations of political figures. When we spellcasters bend, we are fucking with reality. Playing God isn't something that should be done on a consistent basis."

Stone cleared her throat, stopping my tirade. "Well, you may change your tune when you see what we have to show you."

"Yeah," I said, "you mentioned that the Fumans have returned."

"It appears so," Stone said, "two weeks ago, one was spotted outside of Wiluna, Australia."

Despite not wanting to get reinvolved, my interest was piqued. "Did it take anyone? I don't remember hearing about this on the news."

"We kept it away from the media," Stone responded, "but, no, this time it didn't take anybody. It left something. In fact, it was a seed."

spELlcaster Part 2

My mind began racing.
Fumans? The RDA? Needing my help? ...no. Nonononono.

I opened the door.

Agent Stone and her partner stood there stoically. Agent Stone flashed her credentials, her partner did the same - he was identified as Agent Sticks. Oh, the RDA, always with the jokes. Sticks and Stone? The message was clear to me - they could break my bones. Names, of course, despite what the children's rhyme promised, could hurt you. If you were a spellcaster, like myself, knowing names could hurt a LOT of people.

"May we come inside, El?" Agent Sticks asked. I could sense his vision scanning the room behind me, no doubt trying to locate the elusive Aesop.

It bothers me that I considered bending to get out of there. The desire was so strong. The past eight months had not been easy for me. Bending is, according to some, a vital part of who I am. Imagine trying not to breathe for eight months, or not to blink. Fortunately, I do not buy into that particular philosophy. I was proof that spellcasters do not have to be benders. And now, the government was here to ask me to break my streak, to bend again.

Okay, that was unfair. They hadn't asked me anything yet. But Stone had mentioned Fumans, and the only way they'd been defeated previously had been through bending, so it stood to reason that that's what they'd expect of me. It wasn't like I had any other skills to battle time travelers with, after all.

"Do I have a choice?" I responded to Sticks' inquiry about entering my abode, as I opened the door and allowed the Reality Defense Agency back into my life.

spELlcaster Part 1

Aesop woke me, making an alarming racket that nearly caused me to involuntarily bend. I didn't, of course, even after gaining my senses and realizing what Aesop's incessant noise meant, because I'm done bending. Have been for eight months, ever since I acquired Aesop and went into hiding.

But now. Aesop's constant siren song could only mean one thing.

They'd found me. Or, rather, us. Aesop was just as wanted as I was, if not more so.

I picked Aesop up, and stroked his back several times, causing him to turn off his alarm mode, and he began to purr. He flicked his tail, and the computer screen to my left blinked to life. A GPS style map of the area around my apartment was displayed. A man and a woman were getting out of a black government issued sedan and heading toward the door.

Aesop looked at me, the question of What now unspoken, but certainly requiring an answer. I rubbed Aesop's chin, which shut off the computer, and turned on a few lights in the living room. "Now, Aesop? We see what they know and we do what we always do - improvise."

A knock on the door.

"Showtime."

I put Aesop down and approached the door. "Yes?" I asked, peering through the peephole. I could see the male agent had been the one to knock. The female agent held a handheld computer of some sort. Aesop may be able to manipulate it, but it could take up to 15 minutes before he would be able to. Could I delay them for that long? Would I even have to?

"Is this the residence of --" the male agent began, but was interrupted by the female agent who said, "El, this is Agent Stone with the RDA. We know you are in there. We know you have the cat. You need to let us in so we can speak with you." She paused momentarily, probably swallowing her pride before saying, "We need your help. It looks like the Fumans are back."

Stolen from Min

Your result for The 4-Variable Buffy Personality Test...

Rupert Giles

55% amorality, 36% passion, 55% spirituality, 55% selflessness


Utterly calm and resolute in the face of danger, utterly devoted to his loved ones and comrades in arms, and utterly willing to do what is necessary to ensure that good overcomes evil. Giles knows the score, he knows that sometimes virtue relies on good men getting a little messy, and he's willing to take that on himself, largely so that others don't have to.



You might share some of that.



You most closely resemble one of the most popular heroes in the Buffy universe.



Congratulations!



If you enjoyed this test, I would love the feedback! Also, you might want to check out some of my other tests if you're interested in the following:



Nerds, Geeks & Dorks



Professional Wrestling



Love & Sexuality




America/Politics




Thanks Again! -- THE 4-VARIABLE BUFFY PERSONALITY TEST

Take The 4-Variable Buffy Personality Test at HelloQuizzy



Hooray! (Although the answer to question 22 was "Yes")

I

Before getting started on the blogathon posts, I figured I'd get my Library A to Z entry out of the way.

Book:

Setting Free the Bears by John Irving (280/bears). This is John Irving's first novel, and also, the first novel of his I've ever read. I've seen several of his movie adaptations, of course, but never actually read any of his books - I tried to read A Prayer for Owen Meany years back and couldn't get into it.
I don't know if I'd read another Irving book, because, while this book was impressively written, it was just difficult to get through. Particularly the middle section (entitled "The Notebook") where the narrative switches to another character, and focuses in depth on his mother & father's history before he was born. Since this was taking place in Austria during World War 2, it goes into a lot of the history of the area and was just not nearly as interesting as the other parts of the book.
Eh. I'm not expressing myself clearly, but I just know that while this story was okay, it wasn't something I'd recommend or force myself to do again.

CD:

The "I" music selection was not very large, unfortunately. Most of the discs were Indigo Girls or Iron Maiden selections. But I did manage to pick up two CDs from artists I've not heard of previously, and surprisingly, they turned out to be better than average! Hooray!
I picked up Returning to the Sea by a band called Islands reminded me of Of Montreal, which is a good thing. They've got titles of songs like, "Don't Call Me Whitney, Bobby", and "Where There's a Will, There's a Whalebone" (which turned out to be the weakest song on the disc, in my opinion, but still). Overall, it's upbeat and funny and good stuff.
I also got Inland Traveller by Isolation Years, which appears to be a Swedish rock/pop group (according to Wikipedia, and also based on the fact that all the singers names appear to have umlauts). It's not a perfect disc, but I enjoyed the songs to a degree where I'm willing to add them to our iTunes library.

DVD:

I grabbed two "I" movies, but we only watched one. Impostor was a scifi movie based on a Philip K. Dick novel, and starred Lt. Dan as a government agent who might just actually be an alien spy with a bomb in his chest.
There was, of course, a twist ending to the movie, but it turned out to NOT be what I had suspected, so bravo movie-makers for actually blindsiding me! (Of course, the movie still wasn't spectacular, but then I wasn't going in expecting anything remarkable. Just wanted an entertaining 90 minutes or so of popcorn fluff. And that's what was delivered.)
Also grabbed The Illusionist, but never got around to viewing it. Maybe some other time.

In regard to the blogathon... I'm not certain I'll be posting every hour today. Or even twelve times. There are other things to do today (library trip for example) and frankly, my heart isn't totally in it. We'll see how the day progresses.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Show me the money!

Heh.
Okay, this is kinda a lame entry, but I've just wasted the past two hours or so reading about Sarah Palin and giving myself a headache and I don't have anything else to blog about anyway, so, I'm going with this.

Using this site as a reference, I'm listing the top 100 money-making-movies (in the US) of all time. And then bolding the ones I've seen. Feel free to do the same on your blog. Cuz everyone loves lists!

1 Titanic
2 The Dark Knight
3 Star Wars
4 Shrek 2
5 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
6 Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
7 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
8 Spider-Man
9 Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
10 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
11 Spider-Man 2

12 The Passion of the Christ
13 Jurassic Park
14 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
15 Finding Nemo
16 Spider-Man 3
17 Forrest Gump
18 The Lion King
19 Shrek the Third
20 Transformers
21 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

22 Iron Man
23 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
24 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
25 Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
26 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
27 Return of the Jedi
28 Independence Day
29 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
30 The Sixth Sense
31 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
32 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
33 The Empire Strikes Back
34 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
35 Home Alone
36 The Matrix Reloaded

37 Meet the Fockers
38 Shrek
39 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
40 The Incredibles
41 How the Grinch Stole Christmas

42 Jaws
43 I Am Legend
44 Monsters, Inc.
45 Batman (1989)
46 Night at the Museum
47 Men in Black
48 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
49 Toy Story 2
50 Cars
51 Bruce Almighty
52 Raiders of the Lost Ark

53 Twister
54 My Big Fat Greek Wedding
55 Ghostbusters
56 Beverly Hills Cop

57 X-Men: The Last Stand
58 War of the Worlds
59 Cast Away
60 The Exorcist
61 The Lost World: Jurassic Park

62 Signs
63 The Bourne Ultimatum
64 Hancock
65 Rush Hour 2
66 National Treasure: Book of Secrets
67 Mrs. Doubtfire
68 King Kong (2005)
69 Ghost
70 The Da Vinci Code
71 Aladdin
72 Alvin and the Chipmunks
73 Wall-E
74 Saving Private Ryan

75 Mission: Impossible II
76 X2: X-Men United
77 Austin Powers in Goldmember
78 Kung Fu Panda
79 300
80 Back to the Future
81 Wedding Crashers
82 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
83 Ratatouille

84 Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
85 Batman Begins
86 Terminator 2: Judgment Day

87 The Mummy Returns
88 Armageddon
89 Superman Returns

90 Gone with the Wind
91 Pearl Harbor
92 Happy Feet
93 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
94 Ice Age: The Meltdown
95 Madagascar
96 Toy Story

97 Men in Black II
98 Grease
99 Gladiator
100 The Day After Tomorrow

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blogger's dozen

With that blogathon right around the corner - it's 2 blog-days away! - I'm starting to get nervous about things to say. I mean, hell, I have a hard enough time blogging once when it's one of my blog-days, 12 entries? That's ludicrous!

So, as I generally do when I get stumped, I'm having someone else help me solve my problem. I'm turning to ya'll.

What I need is 12 topics/idea-generators/fully written entries. Last time we had a blogathon, I went with the gimmick of using track titles from a CD with 12 songs on it. Pretty clever, no? I wouldn't mind doing that again, but finding an album that has twelve songs is not as easy as you'd suspect. And then, having the entries actually pertain to the titles would be another trick.

But I don't necessarily have to go with the CD-titled theme. If anyone has any other ideas, believe me, I'm open to suggestions.

(oh, and of course it goes without saying that anyone that wants to "sign up" for the blogathon and participate on Sunday, please do so.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

H

Book:
Six Bad Things by Charlie Huston (305/button).
This book made me want to steal money from the mafia. That's what Henry Thompson, the protagonist of this fast-paced noirish story, did. 4 million dollars, to be exact, and he winds up paying for it in many many ways.
In looking this up at Amazon, I discovered that this was actually the 2nd in a trilogy of books. Once I've got more free-time to read [got to move on to the "I"s right now] I may just have to look up the other two novels. Because as Six Bad Things was ending, I realized that I really didn't want it to. I liked Henry, even though he often makes really bad decisions, and people who are close to him generally end up, you know, kinda dead. So having two other stories about him? I'm down with that.
Huston writing grabs you, and definitely leaves you wanting to know what's going to happen next. Recommended.


Music:
I picked up 2 CDs this go around. PJ Harvey's White Chalk and The Helio Sequence's Keep Your Eyes Ahead
Harvey was okay, but nothing great (pretty much the standard when it comes to music lately, it seems)
The Helio Sequence was a mix of pretty good and decent, with the 2nd listen having things grow on me more. We'll download this disc, and I suspect that certain tunes will get a fair amount of play as I listen to them more.

Movies:
Watched Hoffa yesterday. Good movie. A little long, and some scenes struck me as unintentionally funny [mostly the riot scenes...for whatever reason, mob violence tickled my funny bone during this flick], but overall a pretty decent bioflick. Not anything I'd own, but certainly not a waste of time or anything.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I didn't have anything to blog about today (which makes me worried about how things are going to go on the 31st, but I suppose I'll cross that bridge when I get to it), so I thought, "I know! I'll play Scrabble with the girls and write a Scrabble Story! (link goes to an example, along with the explanation of what exactly a Scrabble Story is. Other examples: Here and here.")
Saren and I started a game, and a story using the words, but since the game wasn't finished [one of the cats ended up displacing many of the tiles, and we were kinda stuck anyway], neither is the writing. C'est la vie!

Anyway. Here's what did get written. Scrabble words are underlined.

I was watching the Olympics on TV when there was a knock on the door. I got up and opened the front door and saw a bassinet at my feet. Inside was not a baby, but a worm. There was also a note that read, "You must bring me to the leader of the humans before next Tuesday."
I searched for further instructions, but found none.
I picked up the bassinet and brought it inside. I set it down next to my TV dinner that was thawing on the counter.
"This is not happening," I said. Then the phone rang.
"So much for my idle night," I thought. I picked up the phone and a voice I didn't recognize said, "Read the note again."
I looked at the paper again and saw something I had not noticed before. It was more of the message only visible when the light hit the page the right way. It read, "Life on earth is in danger. You must get me to the leader of the humans. Listen to the instructions on the phone."
The person on the phone spoke again, "Be at the corner of Main Street and Vegas Drive at 10:17pm. Bring the worm. Do not be late."
Before I could respond, they hung up.
I shook my head at how odd the night had become so quickly.
My cat woke up and came into the living room, shaprening her claws on the couch - at least some things were still normal.
"Sue!!" I yelled at the cat, "Get down!"
Suddenly the worm jumped out of the bassinet, and somehow pushed Sue away from the couch.
I stood in shock as Sue scampered away in fear. I watched as the worm got back in its home. And then it spoke to me. It said, "Well, are you going to take me to your leader, or what?"
And that's when I passed out.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I want to ride my bicycle

"Bicycle Race" by Queen

Story time!

This took place many, many years ago, so a lot of the memory has faded (because I've got a less than stellar memory to begin with, and as I get older, it seems to get worse), but I'll record here what I can remember.

I was 10 or 11, or maybe 12, or maybe even 13, but certainly no older than that. One fine Saturday afternoon I went out for a ride on my bike around the neighborhood (man, I miss that. Just going out and driving. I used to just go out and drive around aimlessly in my car during my early 20s as well...)
Anyway.
So I'm riding around, just cruising the blocks, not doing anything in particular, when the neighborhood bully shows up.
Yes. There truly was a neighborhood bully. He was an older kid - or at least a lot larger than I was - and I can vaguely remember his features. Tall, blonde, thick chest, a somewhat dim expression on his face most of the time. He had a reputation for beating up other kids in the neighborhood, and so I tried to stay out of his path as much as possible (I'd never actually been beaten up, and neither had any of my friends [that I recall] but the rumor was strong enough for us to not want to risk finding out if there was truth to it.)
Today, however, he spotted me. He was on his bike and I was on mine. In my mind I can see us facing each other, both frozen for a moment - like one of those nature programs where predator and prey size each other up before taking any action. (Although that may just be my memory inserting dramatic effect)
Regardless of how much the start of the encounter may have resembled Wild America, the result was the same: A chase.

I pedaled fast.

No, I pedaled fast.

He pursued.

We zipped all over the neighborhood for quite a while - and I was seriously breaking all kinds of land speed records. I mean, I was booking. Houses and trees and people in their driveways were just blurs as I sped past them. I tried shaking the bully several different times, but no matter how fast I went, or how zig-zaggy my path, he seemed to stay on me. And he was laughing. And threatening me. "When I catch you, I'm gonna pound your face in."
"You better drive faster!"
And so on.

So I took it up a notch. My legs were on fire I was going so fast. The speed of light is 186,282 miles per second. That day, at that moment, I was going 186,281.

I was in the middle of the street when I saw a car coming, so I hopped up onto the sidewalk. I took a moment to look back and saw that I was actually getting away from my pursuer. Yes! I was going to live another day!

I turned my attention back to the sidewalk, and saw that a light blue van was backing out of it's driveway. I gripped the hand-brake. The bike stopped. And...I was airborne.

For roughly 3 or 4 eternities, I flew through the sky. Then, gravity remembered it had a job to do, and I landed.

Face first.

As I sat on the ground, bleeding, crying, and having the onset of a asthmatic breathing attack, the driver of the van got out and scooped me up in his adult arms. He asked me where I lived and I managed to stutter out my address, which was only one street over, if I remember correctly.

I'm not sure if he carried me all the way there, or if someone (maybe even the bully?) went and got my father, but somehow I got home, and tended to my wounds.

The other things that stand out from this experience:
1) It was amazing (and odd and unexplainable) that I did not fly into the van. I hit the brake before the van, but I remember being on the ground on the opposite side of it. Did I fly through it? Perhaps, because I can semi-clearly remember my bicycle lying on it's side under the van, and stating something to the adult who helped me.

2) I had a black eye when it was all said and done. My face apparently hit the handlebars on the beginning of the flight. No memory of that happening, either.

3) The next Monday at school, I remember the bully laughing at me and my scarred up face. Jackass.

4) Beside the scarred up face, the black eye, and scraped knees, I was otherwise unharmed. Well, I guess my pride was a little damaged. And I never did go quite as fast on my bike again.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In an alternate universe

...Kevin Spacey guest starred on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and/or Angel) as Cordelia's father.

...Lost would exist in book form (instead of/as well as television?). It would be a 7 book series (like Harry Potter!). Each novel would be the equivalent of one of the seasons. Each chapter would be one of the episodes.

...Writers, directors, producers, and actors involved in gratuitous remakes would be heavily fined and possibly face jail time.

What alternate universe(s) would you like to visit?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

G

G already? This year is flying by.

Book:
Mad Dogs by James Grady (332/"Yeah"): This would probably make a decent movie. The premise was rather unique. It was about five CIA agents who had gone insane due to things they had witnessed on the job. Sure, there are stories with rogue spies, but the concept of these men and women who are broken protecting America is one that I had never thought of before.
Anyway. These ex-spies are in an insane asylum in Maine (which is top-secret, because, naturally the US Government doesn't want to acknowledge that the CIA employs humans with faults) and their doctor winds up being murdered. The way the death goes down, it's obvious that they are being set up to take the fall. So they escape to track down the killer(s) and clear their names.
The whole idea of 5 people who have spy knowledge, but are also slightly off-kilter mentally being hunted *and* hunting others is just really, really cool. Like I said, it would make for a fun movie.
And the book is pretty good, too. At least for the first 200 pages or so. Around that point, something happened and I just lost interest. It was a struggle to finish the book, and I have to admit that there were moments/pages where I was skimming rather than really reading everything. Not sure exactly what the problem was - it may've just been me. I mean, I did pick up 4 "G" books, and 2 of them I didn't even open. (The other one I read about 2 pages of). And then today when picking out the "H" selection, I had a very rough time finding anything to grab me, so maybe I'm just in a reading lull. It happens.

Music:
On a Wire by The Get Up Kids:
What is it with music in this gimmick? I am having the hardest time finding stuff that is better than just "Okay". This disc by The Get Up Kids (whom I've at least heard of, although I don't think I know any of their songs off the top of my head) was just "okay". Not bad, but nowhere near great or even memorable.
I also picked up my first Soundtrack - it was for Garden State, and I was all, "It's got the Shins. And I've seen the movie, and enjoyed it, and enjoyed the music, so this should be a good one."
But. Um... It wasn't? Maybe I just wasn't in the right frame of mind, but all the songs sounded like whiny emo crap that just irked me. [shrug]

Movies:
I watched Grumpy Old Men which was slightly amusing. The Sunshine Boys/The Odd Couple did it better, but whatever. There are worse movies out there. Like God Has a Rap Sheet. I managed to get to the 50 minute mark before deciding that no, it wasn't going to get any better, and turned it off. GHaRS was about 8 characters thrown together in a New York City jail cell, wherein one of them is an elderly crazy looking guy who claims to be God. They're supposed to discus religion and politics and philosophy from the various points of view, but I don't think they got that far in the movie because it was just dull. The God character was intriguing, but not enough to continue wasting my time.

Friday, August 15, 2008

OMG!!!!11!!

Dude.

Our eldest is now eleven. Eleven.

....


ELEVEN!!!

What's up with the marching forward of time?

Anyway. A partial list of things done today - playing MarioKart (while listening to Cake's "The Distance"), Saren opening gifts [among other things she received: A CD player for her room, Weezer's red album, a digital camera, some fantastic colored pencils along with a new drawing diary, an invitation to Hogwarts School of Wizardry], eating at Sweet Tomatoes, the destruction of many planets and moons, and now we're popping popcorn and getting ready to watch The Spiderwick Chronicles.

I'd say that today was a really good day. Happy Birthday, Saren!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there

Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles

Randomish entry here folks. Lots on my mind. You've been warned!

(In my mind, that "You've been warned!" sounded extremely ominous. I think it lost something in the translation between brain and screen, though.)

I'd like to take this opportunity to remind folks that on the last day of August, there's a gimmick going on that everyone should participate in. (if you feel like it. but you totally should feel like it.)
I'm planning on doing all 12 hours myself, but I'm still looking for a CD with 12 tracks to generate titles/ideas...

The nearest McDonald's to our house has been demolished. Um, purposely. Apparently they're going to rebuild it all high-tech-like. If the pictures of a futuristic looking McDonald's on the fence outside the demolition site are to be believed, that is. I hope it is. FutureDonald's! Woot! Flying cars & (killer) robots & Sausage McMuffins with Egg 24 hours a day!!

From the "I'm not made of money!" file - 7-Eleven recently raised the prices on refills of Big Gulps. From 79 cents [eighty-five with tax] to 89 cents [ninety-six with tax]. Yeah, yeah, everything's going up, but still. That's almost a dollar! For refilling my cup? And the weird thing is that the price for a new cup didn't increase. So basically all they did was lower the incentive to reuse the ones I already own. I'm not happy with this plan at all.

Also from the "not made of money" file, but additionally filed in "you have got to be kidding" - we received a letter today stating that a Park Restoration Project will be (or already has been) done on the park behind our house. (I'm voting "will be", because, um, no. There's been no work done on it that we can see.)
Anyway. This project apparently will/did cost $66,000, and since we are the owners of said park, we need to pay this. ....Yeah. A phone call or two is in order here. Because I seriously doubt that Stephanie and I truly own that park (although how cool would it be if we did?) so, um. Guess I'll be dealing with contractors and maybe folks from the City of Las Vegas tomorrow in order to get this straightened out. Either that, or they can try to collect the money owed them from us...ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

I've viewed 75 movies this year, there are 140 days left. Not quite a movie a day left, but I need to step up a bit.

Rementioning the Blogathon.

I need a haircut again. It's only been 2.5 months since I last had one, but I guess that's long enough. How often do normal people cut their hair?

How can it be 103 degrees outside (at almost 7pm) and yet my feet are freezing?

So there's a managerial position at work coming open - which would mean more money, although more stress - and I'm going to apply for it. My confidence in getting the position waxes and wanes on almost a daily basis. Gotta love the rat race.

And...wrapping this up, I'll just do a request of youtube videos that have made you smile or laugh or whatever recently.

Monday, August 11, 2008

F

Books:
B. H. Fingerman's Bottomfeeder (268 pgs, last word - "everything") is pretty damn good.
It's the story of Philip Merman (like Ethel, but no relation). Philip is 54, but doesn't look a day over 27, which is how old he was when was attacked and left for dead in a subway station.
Turns out that, yes, Philip is indeed a vampire.
And as such, he needs to eat. And, yes, it needs to be human blood.
So Philip tries to choose victims that nobody will miss - homeless, criminals, the mentally insane.
This works for him, more or less, until one day when he meets another vampire who shows him a different way to survive, and he begins to question his lifestyle.
The ending was one I saw coming a million miles away (well, not the end-end, but a particular plot twist was truly not a surprise) but Philip has such an enjoyable voice that going along for the ride with him as your guide more than makes up for it.
I'd recommend this. It's certainly a unique take on the vampire novel.

Music:
FM Static's Critically Ashamed was...I don't know. It reminded me of Bowling for Soup or Fountain of Wayne. You know, one of those bands that believes they're clever and/or edgy with juvenile type lyrics, and would probably get played ad nauseum on Mix 94.1.
The other F disc I picked up was Holding a Wolf by the Ears by From Autumn to Ashes. Which turned out to be a death-metal band. So, you know, not good.
F bands = Fail, apparently.

Movies:
We watched The Frighteners. Although why I have yet to figure out. It starred Michael J. Fox, was directed by Peter Jackson, and was about ghosts scamming people. Sounds like a perfect combination for fun. Except that it sucked out loud. Too much CGI, too many outrageous storylines, too many jokes that just didn't work. Blah.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Worthwhile

So, lately, the stuff i've been watching has been...less than stellar? Three movies in a row have been eh.
The Frighteners - which is one of my "F" movies - was superbly awful. (More on that in a few days when I cover my "F" choices)
Then last night we watched Terminator 3, which I knew was a weak installment. The girls agreed. (Spoilers ahead for T3)
Harper said that it wasn't as good as 2, and the things that bothered her the most were that Sarah Connor died. (I KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!)
And also, that "Big John" was not as cool as "Little John". She also said that "Big John" reminded her of that "guy from Buffy". I tried to figure out who she meant - it wasn't Xander - and today it hit me...she probably meant Johnathan, since we recently watched Superstar.... edit. I just went and asked her again, and she informed me she was thinking of "the guy that Willow loves". Oz? Really? I guess there's a slight resemblance.
Anyway. Saren said that 3 was funnier than the others, but that it didn't make it better. Very true.
Tonight we watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which ...didn't hold up as well as I had thought it would. I mean, parts of it were still chuckle-worthy, but overall, not that great a movie. Definitely better in my memory.

So my question is - what are some movies that you guys have seen recently that have been worthwhile? Because I'm getting kinda sick of watching things that wind up being letdowns.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

"What do you think about?" "....Jumping Jacks."

Two days ago, we watched the first two Terminator movies.
Finally, the girls have some context for when we play "terminator" (which is more or less just 'tag', wherein I chase them by walking in a robotic fashion).

One hilarious thing I noticed this time around during the first movie - when Lt. Traxler asks for a cigarette, and his partner hands him the carton, only for him to realize he's already got a lit one in his other hand. Just a tiny throw away scene, but it made me chuckle.

Other thoughts from the first movie - Saren asked about Pugsley, which I found amusing, because I remember also being curious about the iguana's fate. I really hope that the series mentions him at some point. Or maybe someone should write some fanfic regarding the lizard...

Harper said that the only scary part was when "the Terminator was taking out his eye".
Personally, I think the only scary part is the hair on Ginger (Sarah's roommate/friend), but the eye-removal scene was pretty gruesome.

T2 was loved by the girls. They were both pretty upset by the fact that Terminator died in the end. And Saren and I have discussed some of the finer points of time-travel paradoxes. (Namely - why is John still there if the future has been changed? Still one of my biggest peeves from the whole mythology.)

Harper's favorite line: "You can't go around killing people!"
"Why?"

We picked up T3 from the library on Sunday as well, but haven't gotten around to watching it yet. I've warned them that it's not quite as good as the first two, but they're still interested.

And starting this Sunday, Fox will be reairing the Sarah Connor Chronicles, season 1, in preparation for season 2. Yay for killer robots from the future!!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

E

Books:
Category 7 by Bill Evans & Marianna Johnson (so, um, I guess this could count as my "J" book, too?) 383 pages, last word "sushi".

This was about "the biggest storm in history". A hurricane that is so massive, they had to create a whole new category for it (in real life, hurricanes only go up to 5) that hits New York. There's a way to stop the storm, using a top-secret military weapon - but the catch is that it has to be used in the hurricane.
So, basically, it's a disaster movie, but in book form. Except that this book has nothing to do with the other Category 7 (that made-for-tv movie with the same name from a few years back) - and that's a very good thing, because that was really bad.
Not that the book was all superb or anything. In fact, as time has gone on, i've lowered my opinion on the book quite a bit. When reading it, it was enjoyable, although very slow moving for the first 200-or-so pages. But once the storm actually hit the city, it became incredibly intense and not-put-downable.
All good so far.
But, the denouement was...nonexistent? And at least one of the characters' behavior was beyond comprehension. (Climbing out the window? Really?)
But, up til then, it was good enough to keep my interest. And the idea of weather manipulation is presented in a very intriguing (and possibly?) realistic manner, so there's some food for thought. Overall, if you happen to pick the book up, go for it, but it's not one that you have to absolutely read.

Music:
I had 3 discs in the E category, because I just couldn't choose one.
I'll save the best for last.
First up was The Vegas Years by Everclear. This album is a bunch of covers. I picked it up because I do like Santa Monica a lot ("swim out past the breakers, watch the world die" = great lyric, imo) and I'm willing to listen to cover songs, since, I, you know, know them, usually.
But this was bad.
Really. Really. Really bad.
I couldn't get through the whole disc, honestly. Sorry, guys. I'll still listen to Santa Monica, and even Father of Mine, but perhaps they should just stick to original material, and leave covers to ...other people.

Next up is What Are You On? by East River Pipe.
The songs on here were really short, and started off pretty decent, but it seemed like each one didn't quite live up to its full potential somehow. I don't know. I liked it, but I guess not enough to keep it.

Last, and certainly not least, was Meet the Eels: Essential Eels 1996 - 2006, Vol. 1.
Now, I've heard the Eels before - in fact, we own Daises of the Galaxy, and Beautiful Freak was one of the last cassette tapes I ever bought (sadly, I don't have that anymore, as I wore it out. Confusingly, I've never gotten around to replacing it in the musical library either on CD or electronically), so I knew going in that I'd like at least some of the songs on this.
Fortunately, I enjoyed 98% of them! (The "Get Ur Freak On" cover, while amusing, doesn't quite seem to fit. And the final two tracks were ..eh, but dude. Eels = love.)
Bonus? It's a two-disc collection, with disc 2 being 12 music videos of the Eels. AWESOME!!
The Eels are not only creative musically, but when they make music videos (remember when you didn't have to go to youtube in order to see those?), they go all out. Here's a couple for your enjoyment:
First, their first, "Novocaine for the Soul". Yay for flying Eels (heh)!



Now, "Rags to Rags", which, in addition to being a great song, has a hilarious video. Crotch shot!



and, this one takes a really odd turn...



Okay. I could go on, but it's getting late. Just trust me. Eels are awesome.

Movies:
I had two, but only watched one.
The film I didn't watch was End of the Spear, about some missionaries who live with a tribe that was cut off of civilization. I didn't watch it mostly out of time restraints. Maybe I'll pick it up at some later date in the future.
The one I did watch was Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. And, yes, it was as cheesy as I expected. The weird thing is, I found myself feeling more sympathy for the saucermen than the earthlings. I doubt highly that was the intended result, but there ya have it.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Blog-a-thon 2008

Mark your calendars folks.

August 31st, 2008, I'll be participating in a blog-a-thon! (Um. And hopefully others will be as well.)
What's a blog-a-thon, you ask? Well, it's just like the one that took place 5 years ago on that date...
(And what's even cooler was that both 8/31/08 and 8/31/03 are Sundays.)
You can also look here, which sums things up pretty nicely, although a few things are out-of-date in regard to the upcoming edition. Namely, you know, it's taking place in '08 instead of '03... and Steph's email address at the bottom of that page is not accurate. And, of course, nobody's signed up to do this except me. But otherwise, the site linked to is right on.

Summarizing it: On the 31st, I (and anyone who wants to participate) will blog once every hour for 12 (or 8, or if you're really ambitious, 24) hours. ...that's pretty mcuh it. (Yeah, I went the long way about explaining all that. And it probably doesn't read very sensically. [dude. is sensically even a word?] But, you know, you try running on 5 hours of sleep every night for 5 days ina row, and being me, and see how well you communicate.)

Anyway. The point is this: End of the month = lots of blogging by yours truly. And you? If you're game, let me know. Together we'll bust this internet thing up. Or something.