Being the Ongoing Chronicle of the Anticks, Misadventures, and Odd Deeds of an Overalls-clad Wanderer.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Be well.

[Updated below]

The three posts that appear directly below this one were all written yesterday and saved in draft form, which is why they're appearing at all.

Due to a sudden and dramatic shift in my personal circumstances, I am putting this blog on an indefinite hiatus. I genuinely don't know when I'll be able to return. If it's sooner, then so much the better; if it's later, then we'll meet again one day.

Farewell for now.

UPDATE 8-28-07: Thanks to everyone who has either commented or e-mailed with well-wishes; as ever, it means a great deal to me. While all this falls into the general category of "Stuff I won't blog about except to mention in such vague terms that nobody but me will ever know what I'm really talking about here", I can at least report that today things are better, and that my return will, in all likelihood, be in fact sooner rather than later.

However, it won't be for a few days still, because I'm still too raw and too tired to write coherent postings about anything interesting. That being the case, I'm going to make this an "official" hiatus of definite length: unless something else happens, I'll return to active blogging next Tuesday, the day after Labor Day.

Oh, and Jen: are we having a Christmas party? I think that would be great for all us denizens of the Buffalo Prefecture of Blogistan. We should discuss this.

See you all in September.

I heart JP Losman

Here's what I love to see: JP Losman, the Bills' young starting quarterback (entering his fourth year with the team), has taken his new hometown into his heart in a big way:

When Losman started to think about what he could do for the City of Buffalo, it’s no surprise his focus went to the grass-roots level. Lending his name to a project, donating a bunch of money and then handing it all off to subordinates is so not his style. If Losman is going to get involved, he’s going to roll up his sleeves and throw his heart into it.

So this summer, Losman created a project called Buffalo Lives, a nonprofit organization with a goal of beautifying Buffalo one block at a time.


His new project has a website, BuffaloLives.org. Of this project, Losman says:

“When you pick a name, you ask yourself, what are we trying to get accomplished?” he said. “We’re planting things that are going to be alive and stay alive. It’s not a dying city. It’s a city moving forward.

“It’s a city that has had the greatest number of comebacks in the last couple of years, according to some studies of the number of people moving back to their communities,” Losman said. “It was just rated in Forbes magazine as one of the coolest cities in America for nightlife, culture, art, music. It is being recognized, but the actual people of Buffalo need to recognize it.”

The 26-year-old Losman is a native of Venice, Calif., and spent his college years at Tulane University in New Orleans. After being drafted by the Bills in 2004, he moved into a downtown condominium. Last year, he bought a house on Oakland Place, near Women and Children’s Hospital.

“The old-style homes in the city — they were built to last,” Losman said. “Whereas you go to California, and they box you in like rice. The homes are twice as expensive as here in Buffalo and twice as small and twice as close together. There’s no backyard.

“On any given night, you can hear good music,” Losman said of Buffalo. “On any given night, you can go to many great restaurants. People do take pride in the area, but I think people need to realize they can take more of a leadership role in their community than they realize.”


This is just terrific. Bravo, JP.

Now, win the Super Bowl one of these years, and you'll be worshipped like nobody since...Jim Kelly!

Sentential Links #109

OK, after a one-week respite from Sentential Links, we have the triumphant return of...Sentential Links.

:: Found out my unborn daughter has Down Syndrome and a surgically correctable congenital heart defect. (Scotty and I exchanged e-mail about this a while back, but I've avoided mentioning it here until he decided to go public, which he now has. Go give him some love. His family's starting a tough journey. This will be their first child. And that's not the only less-than-favorable news he's had lately.)

:: I read some interview with Stockwell - it was recently - and he was asked, "So who taught you about sex?" He said, "I did a movie with Errol Flynn when I was 13. I got quite an education."

:: My mom has always told me that if you hold onto an article of clothing long enough, it will eventually come back into style. (Well, I hope so, because I think I'd look very dashing in a tricorne, and yet they stubbornly remain out of fashion.)

:: We suggested that if he liked that, he might also like his steak better if he dipped in sugar. (Oh, the humanity!)

:: Some fake ears and straight eyebrows are a great disguise. No one will notice you. Bet you can’t tell that that’s really Kirk underneath that disguise.

:: I Think the Monthly Comic Needs to Die! (That's the post title, actually, but it works.)

:: What if David Lynch, director of progressive films such as Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, Inland Empire and others had actually directed Return of the Jedi back in 1983? (Huh-whuh?! Link via. Again, I say, Huh-whuh?!)

:: Because my own parents so entirely abdicated involvement in my own life I tend to go overboard in the other direction. It's easy for me to want to rescue too much. It's easy for me to want to FIX every problem the boys have.

:: I'm sure childhood always seems much more innocent while you're going through it, and everyone else's always seems more hollow. Were parents always so fearful, or did they have more faith in people and in the world? And is today's lack of faith justified or paranoid? I just hope that, should the time come that I have my own kids, I don't forget what it was like to be one.

:: The CD, which was 25 years old last Friday changed that forever, and it seems a pity to me. In a funny way the artifact focused your attention on the music, and prevented it from becoming wallpaper. That's how music should be listened to, attentively, and although my iPod shuts out other sound, the experience of recorded music in the 21st Century is more often than not a component of the multitasking that consumes our daily lives. (I never mentioned the anniversary of the compact disc here, but longtime readers know that I adore the CD and will mourn its slide into history. I genuinely feel it's the ideal music format. I'm terribly skittish about relying on purely digital means of music distribution for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the ephemeral nature of the devices themselves. I'm on my third computer in ten years...but I still own the first CD I got, way back in 1988. And that disc is still playable. Who knows if MP3s will be playable in just five years?)

And that'll do it for this week, folks. Be careful out there. It's a hard, cruel world, full of evil and desperation. Walk with love!

(Or walk with a big stick. One of the two will suffice. And if you can walk with love and a big stick, well, the world's your oyster!)

Sunday Burst of Weirdness (Monday Edition)

OK now....

:: Want to hear some simulated version of "sexy" women "moaning" your IP address? Sure you do. This is definitely weird, even if as a joke it's only funny exactly once. The second time, it's amazingly lame. (Click "refresh" if you don't believe me.) This probably isn't work-safe, by the way.

:: A wall clock my mathematics professor father would love.

(Both these links via Making Light.)

:: A month or so ago, Lynn Sislo sent me a link to I-am-bored.com, as a possible source for all manner of weirdness. I haven't checked it out yet, but I will do so right now. In the future I'll look through it for the stuff that most catches my fancy, but for the purposes of this post, I will click the "Weird" tab at the top of their page, and then link the fourth item on the list that results. OK?

[clicking...clicking again...counting down five links...clicking....]

And here it is: a cautionary film about LSD, made in the 1960s. Watch this and tell me you weren't waiting for the inevitable walk on by Troy McClure!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Three

So did his untamed brightness come in the end to flame, and then ash, and at the very last, in the clear voices of the lios alfar, into song under the stars.

-Guy Gavriel Kay, "The Darkest Road"




Three years ago today, Little Quinn was born.



His short life was terribly, terribly difficult -- so difficult, in fact, that even though he's been gone for longer now than he was with us, we still stand in his shadow. We try to move out, but in truth, some part of us will remain in his shadow for all the rest of our days. His tale is not yet over, and its end may yet be a sad one.

His wasn't a life that made for the kind of happiness one associates with a baby. Instead, the happiness that he brought came with a series of prices we've yet to finish paying, the happiness came in very small moments that would end as quickly as they came, and the happiness was always leavened with sadness that will remain a part of us forevermore.



The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin,
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

-JRR Tolkien


I recently had occasion to tell a very dear friend that as I grow older, I see life more and more as a journey. Each of us walks a series of unmarked roads into and out of countries both beautiful and not, seemingly going nowhere in particular but always, inexorably, ever so cruelly, toward Mr. Whitman's unknown region:

DAREST thou now, O Soul,
Walk out with me toward the Unknown Region,
Where neither ground is for the feet, nor any path to follow?

No map, there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.

I know it not, O Soul;
Nor dost thou���������all is a blank before us;
All waits, undream���������d of, in that region���������that inaccessible land.

Till, when the ties loosen,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds, bound us.

Then we burst forth���������we float,
In Time and Space, O Soul���������prepared for them;
Equal, equipt at last���������(O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil, O Soul.

--Walt Whitman


What makes the journey worthwhile, it turns out, is not the places we see along the way, but the companions who share our path. Some only walk the byways with us for a short while, others longer; and then there are those who somehow continue to mark our way even though they themselves are long, long gone.

Come, my friends.
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

-Alfred, Lord Tennyson




And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.

--JRR Tolkien


When I finally come to the shore of that same country, I hope that my son is there on the pier, waiting to take my hand.

(Regular blogging, including the Sunday Burst of Weirdness, will resume tomorrow. "The Gray Havens" painting by John Howe.)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Notes

A couple of things:

:: I guess it's time to start giving actual hints for Unidentified Earth 15, so here's the first hint: the Carter Administration.

:: It's time to identify the false item in my second Seven Things post. Ready? Here goes...it's Number Five. Those were the teams, but the Pirates lost, not the Phillies. It was a cold and drizzly day at Three Rivers Stadium, and I drank about six hot chocolates at three bucks each or whatever it was that hot chocolates went for at Three Rivers back then.

My second Major League Baseball game -- and, thus far, my last one -- was on my twenty-first birthday, when I and a bunch of friends went to the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome to watch the defending World Champion Twins defeat the Royals, 9-2.

:: By the way, check out ShrpSports.com, if you ever need a source for all-time results of various sporting events. If you need to know who the Milwaukee Brewers played on June 10, 1981, you can find it here. (They lost to the Texas Rangers, 12-5. Two days later a labor issue caused a two-month work stoppage in MLB.)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Unidentified Earth 16

Wow! Either this recurring feature has seriously dropped off in popularity, or I managed to come up with stumpers two weeks in a row, as last week's entry is as yet unidentified. In fact, no one even hazarded an actual guess! What's up with that? I might start giving hints, but for now, concentrate on the corners of the image there; they may help clarify the type of thing we're looking at.

And with that, it's time for this week's entry, which is admittedly quite a lot easier.



Where are we?

(Rot-13 your answers!)

Maybe I should pose holding a power drill?

In the comments to this post at Belladonna's blog, I am taken by not one but two of her readers to be female. Aieee!

Of course, this is obviously due to the fact that my Blogger avatar photo looks totally minuscule over there, so that while my long hair is clearly visible, the beard is not. But maybe I should help matters by butching up my photo! (I could try signing my posts over there with my real name, but that's not likely to help either -- one of the occupational hazards of being a guy named Kelly.)

I just think it's funny that this happened twice in one comments thread!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Errands

Yesterday was a hectic day after work.

I didn't feel like making that much effort at dinner, so I bought a rotisserie chicken and some potato salad.

I put a little gas in the vehicle.

I kept a medical appointment.

I picked The Daughter up from her day camp, and treated her to a Slurpie from 7-11.

I bought a ream of paper for the printer.

And....

I picked up the little cardboard box, about the size of a new box of checks (or the box your year's worth of church donation envelopes come in, if you do that sort of thing), containing Baby Fiona's ashes.

Almost three months after she was born, and almost a full month before she should have been...I brought her home.

There is "more of her" than I thought there would be. The box is surprisingly heavy. The ashes themselves are in a Zip-loc bag. They are mostly a fine gray powder, but there are bits of coarser, whiter material scattered throughout. We'll find some kind of appropriate container sometime...but for now, her little box is wrapped in a blanket.

Three children. Two are in boxes.

Forgive me, world...but there are times when I hate you.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Time to check out....

Well, it's time to pack it in, I suppose, since I can't possibly refute the message of this image:



(Stolen from here, found via here.)

Mea culpa.

I goofed a bit, folks, in writing this post, the "Seven Things" post. See, I wrote the intro first, saved it as a draft, and then came back later and wrote my seven things...but I forgot about the proviso I'd written in the first part of the post, in which I indicated that I'd list six true things and one false one.

So...all those things are actually true. And now I feel bad, so here are another seven things, with one genuinely false statement. Ye Gods....

1. I once had to get a tetanus shot when I paddled my kayak through a barbed-wire fence. (No, not at high speed, but I did get scratched a bit in trying to push my way through the fence.)

2. I own exactly two neckties, and the last time I wore one was when I had a job interview four years ago.

3. It's been a long time since I had the stuff, so I can't be too sure if it's still the case, but I used to like Vegemite.

4. I have never owned a pair of Levi's.

5. The first Major League Baseball game I ever attended saw the Phillies fall to the Pirates. This was in 1983 or so.

6. My graduation gift from my parents, when I graduated college, was a Persian kitten.

7. My favorite comic strip as a kid was...(oh, lord)...Family Circus.

OK, folks, there it is. One of these really is false. I promise!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sentential Links, postponed

Just a quick FYI: I'm taking a one-week break from this regular feature. Sentential Links will return next week.

Book Quiz!

I don't think I've seen this quiz before I ran across it at Sheila's place, which seems odd, because surely by now I've seen (and done) every blog quiz that exists, right?

Anyway, it's about books:

What are you reading right now?

The Star King by Jack Vance; Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint Exupery; The Discovery of Poetry by Francis Mayes; The Forgetting Room by Nick Bantock.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?

Yes. And no.

I've fallen hard for personal travel narratives, so I have a few of those out of the library right now. I also have three books by Anais Nin out -- a collection of essays, a general-purpose reader, and what appears to be a later portion of her unexpurgated diary -- but after dipping into these, I think I'd rather start at the beginning and track down Volume One of that diary for myself.

I also need to do some dipping into the various Year's Best anthologies of SF and fantasy.

What magazines do you have in your bathroom right now?

Our bathroom isn't big enough to keep many magazines; usually there's just the most recent issue of Time in there. I do read magazines in there; it's just that I bring them back out when I'm done. You know how it is. (That said, Cooking Light is a good magazine for in there.)

What’s the worst thing you were ever forced to read?

I loathed The Yearling, and I loathed the teacher who assigned it, especially when she gave me a low grade on my report because I dared admit that I thought the book was boring dreck.

A close second would be Ordinary People, the dysfunctional-family novel that had me rooting for the characters to reach for the full bottle of sleeping pills.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?

I tend to be very gun-shy about recommending books. The ones I'd most tend to recommend are deeply personal to me on some level, to the point that I'd likely have a difficult time reconciling it if I recommended it to a close friend only to receive a "Meh" response.

That being the case, I have a very dear friend to whom I have gifted copies of, among others, GGK's Lions of Al-Rassan, Bantock's Griffin and Sabine series, and Joel ben Izzy's The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness. I have no idea if she's read any of them. In a way, it doesn't matter.

Admit it, the librarians at your library know you on a first name basis, don’t they?

I don't know if they do or not, but it wouldn't surprise me. We visit weekly. I'm always nonplussed when I meet voracious readers who don't use their libraries; way I see it, why should I limit my reading to only those books I can afford to buy?

Is there a book you absolutely love, but for some reason, people never think it sounds interesting, or maybe they read it and don’t like it at all?

See above, really. I do wish I knew more people who loved the kinds of books I do, though. My reading soulmate is out there, somewhere!

Do you read books while you eat? While you bathe? While you watch movies or TV? While you listen to music? While you’re on the computer? While you’re having sex? While you’re driving?

In order: only if dining alone; no, since I shower, although I did read books while soaking in my parents' hot tub before I moved out; if others in the clan are watching something I don't much care about; yes; I used to, in order to pass time while waiting for downloads in my dial-up days; I can't read with my eyes closed (wow, did I just reveal too much information about myself); Lord, NO! Bad things happen that way, like you can die in a fiery wreck, and then you're just a burnt crisp who doesn't even get to find out who did it or if Prince Flatulent manages to save the Realm.

When you were little, did other children tease you about your reading habits?

Not really. In early grade school, I gave them other material to work with, by virtue of being the fat kid with no fashion sense at all and no athletic ability to speak of (save swimming, which I was apparently no slouch at). Later on, in high school, classmates would voice their befuddlement at the mere idea of reading for pleasure, but this was never teasing or ridiculing, just "Wow, I don't know how you do that."

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?

I'm actually pretty good at putting books aside to get some sleep, since eventually I actually do fall asleep, which I always take as a sign that it's time to reach for the bookmark. I did plow through the second half of Harry Potter Episode VII in a single afternoon. And yes, I distracted The Daughter by having her play computer games for...well, let's just say it was longer than I should have, OK?

And there you go.

Quite contrary....

We are now making our way through the Little House books with The Daughter, reading a bit of them to her each night at bedtime. I'm missing large portions of the story, though, because she continues reading after we do our requisite fifteen minutes or so, which means that each night I'm picking up quite a ways after the place I'd left off. The books seem really disjointed that way.

But one thing I notice is that each time in the books that little Laura gets into some bit of trouble, no matter how small, Our Narrator (grown-up Laura, obviously) solemnly informs us just how good older sister Mary is, and how Mary never gets in trouble because she's just so good. And sure enough, Mary in the books seems to be a few diddlies away from leaving the Ingallses and becoming a Flanders.

That's that, I guess. It sounded more interesting before I wrote it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Seven Things, again....

It missed my notice until the other day that Mark hit me with the venerable "Seven Things" quiz-meme, and before I could get my entry done, Aaron hit me with it as well. I'm sure I'm expected to do fourteen things, but no dice: I'll still do seven. Harumph.

So, this is just seven things about me, or something like that. But I'm doing a twist: one of these items is false. Try and guess which one. I dare you!

1. When the Bills first appeared in the Super Bowl (SB XXV, against the NY Giants), I was in college in Iowa and no place in town served Buffalo-style chicken wings at the time, so I had to make do with a big box of KFC's "Hot Wings", which were apparently not terribly popular in that town as every time I went in there to order Hot Wings, they had to fry them to order. I chalk this up to the generically bland cuisine in Iowa, where four shakes of the pepper shaker can render some dishes too spicy for local palates.

2. I never wore overalls in public until my junior year in college, at which time I took a lot of ribbing for wanting to fit in with all the native Iowans (very few of whom actually wore overalls, so I'm not sure what they were getting on about anyway).

3. The sharpest, most agonizing physical pain I have ever endured in my life came when I was in seventh grade and I had a very bad cold that settled into my ears, giving me an ear infection for the ages. That was bad enough, but the doctor prescribed two antibiotics, one to be taken internally and the other in the form of ear drops. Problem was, my ear canal was swollen shut to the point where the drops couldn't get in, so my mother jammed the dropper down in there.

4. It's the epitome of the cheesy ballad, but I can't get enough of Carrie Underwood singing "Inside Your Heaven".

5. In second grade we lived in Elkins, WV, where one of my best friends was the son of a coal miner. When I went to his apartment once, he showed me the room where his entire family slept, mom and dad and his siblings alike, in a series of beds lined up against one wall. (That kid was just a great guy, too -- Randall Riley was his name. He loved fishing. For only having spent one year in Elkins, some of the friends I made there stand out very strong in my memories -- as does my teacher, Sandy Pnakovich, who I recently learned through a bit of Googling died in hospice care a few years ago, of some form of cancer, I suspect.)

6. The first science fiction novel that I remember reading, outside of media tie-in books like the Star Wars novelizations and James Blish's novelizations of Star Trek episodes was The Time Machine by HG Wells.

7. As much as I enjoy wit and funny wordplay, I also love a good madcap slapstick farce...and yet I cannot stand the Three Stooges. Laurel and Hardy? I like them...and I could watch Abbott and Costello until doomsday. But the Stooges? Not a fan.

OK, that's all. I'll actually tag some people now, although probably not the required seven: Kellie (whom I don't think I've ever tagged before), Roger (who's probably done this already), Steph and Nettl (tagging both halves of a couple here!), and sticking with the couples-tagging, Scott and Kim. Oh heck, what's one more to get the required seven for the Seven Things quiz? Vicki, here it is!

A couple of sporting thoughts

One: on a scale of relative outrage, I think that the Michael Vick thing so far outpaces the Barry Bonds steroids thing that they're not even remotely in the same reality. One guy takes drugs to give him some extra ability on the field. The other kills dogs because he thinks it's fun to kill dogs. Bonds: jerk. Vick: depraved, disgusting individual.

Two: good article here on the NFL's lunatic approach to rookie salaries. I hate this business of rookies, who have never played a single down in the NFL, holding out because they deserve more money, and I hate that this has made having the top pick in the draft a less attractive thing than it should be because the team with the top pick is saddled with a massive salary for that player before they ever make the pick. Rookie salaries should be capped, and capped hard. (Now, since the average NFL career is quite a lot shorter than that of other sports, I'd compensate by making rookies free agents a lot sooner -- maybe their second or third years. That way, they can cash in with big contracts sooner, and run less of a risk of getting hurt before their initial rookie deal is up.)

A quiz thing

I snagged this from Samantha says. You answer each question with three words, and only three words. Three. "Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out."

Here it is. (Yes, I cheat a bit as far as what constitutes a "word". This I do because I always cheat on Internet quizzes.)

1. Where is your cell phone?:

It doesn't exist.

2. Your boyfriend?:

Ummm...er...no.

3. Your hair?:

Longer than yours!

4. Where is your father?:

Home, I suppose.

5. Cheesecake?:

I'd love some!

6. Your favorite thing to do?:

Buy more books.

7. Your dream last night?:

She was there....

8. Your favorite drink?:

Spum and cola.

9. Your dream car?:

XP-38 Sport Landspeeder.

10. The room you’re in?:

Hmmmm. Rather messy.

11. George Bush?:

Ewwwwwww! It burns!

12. Your fears?:

Marshawn breaks leg.

13. Nipple rings?

I hate piercing.

14. Who did you hang out with last night?

My lovely daughter.

15. What you’re not good at?:

Basketball. I stink.

16. Your best friend?

She's not here.

17. One of your wish list items?:

Tale of Genji.

18. Where did you grow up?:

All over America.

19. The last thing you did before survey?:

Got water bottle.

20. What are you wearing?:

Shocker! Not overalls!

21. Tattoo on the small of a back?:

Meh. No opinion.

22. Ketchup?

Like mustard better.

23. Your computer?:

My true love.

24. Your life?

Better soon, please!

25. Your mood?:

I want pie.

26. Missing?

She's not here.

27. What are you thinking about right now?:

Three-word answers.

28. Your car?:

Meh. It starts.

29. Your work?:

Love it so!

30. Your summer?

I've had better.

31. Your relationship status?:

Off the market.

32. Your favorite color(s):

Purple, pink, blue.

33. When is the last time you laughed?:

Haaaaa! Just now.

34. Last time you cried?:

Waaaaa! Just now.

35. High school?:

Coulda done without.


Well, that was fun, eh?

(BTW, what's with the Wikipedia article for the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch being tagged for "not citing references or sources"? What reference works or sources exist from which one might base reliable knowledge of the Holy Hand Grenade? I think the Wikipedians tend to believe that when they defecate, it comes out in the form of hewn marble.)

Sunday Burst of Weirdness

Oddness abounds!

:: The alien from Alien, made of vegetables. Seriously. I never liked the Alien movies, but I always did kind of like the design of the alien itself.

:: It's always fun to go back to basics, which for purposes of the Burst of Weirdness means finding nifty stuff based on Cthulhu. Here's Termithulhu, which crosses Cthulhu with the Terminator.

(Both these links via SF Signal.)

:: There's a David Fincher movie to be found in this creepy news story: a serial killer in Moscow who, after dispatching his victims, marks them off on a chessboard. Via Warren Ellis.

All for this week!

I was hoping for DEATH.

I don't usually take these quizzes, but hey, I like the Tarot stuff:


You are The Moon


Hope, expectation, Bright promises.


The Moon is a card of magic and mystery - when prominent you know that nothing is as it seems, particularly when it concerns relationships. All logic is thrown out the window.


The Moon is all about visions and illusions, madness, genius and poetry. This is a card that has to do with sleep, and so with both dreams and nightmares. It is a scary card in that it warns that there might be hidden enemies, tricks and falsehoods. But it should also be remembered that this is a card of great creativity, of powerful magic, primal feelings and intuition. You may be going through a time of emotional and mental trial; if you have any past mental problems, you must be vigilant in taking your medication but avoid drugs or alcohol, as abuse of either will cause them irreparable damage. This time however, can also result in great creativity, psychic powers, visions and insight. You can and should trust your intuition.


What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Stop it, Ken. You're freaking me out.

Ken Jennings, nine days ago:

I bet [J.K. ] Rowling’s first post-Harry Potter book -– talk about a hard act to follow -– will be a classic mystery of some kind. I don’t know if it’ll be a hard-boiled gumshoe case, a true-crime police procedural, a classic manor-house throwback, or what, but it’ll be a mystery novel. She’s been writing them all along, after all. It’s just that no one’s noticed.


In the news, yesterday:

J.K. Rowling has been spotted at cafes in Scotland working on a detective novel, a British newspaper reported Saturday.

The Sunday Times newspaper quoted Ian Rankin, a fellow author and neighbor of Rowling's, as saying the creator of the "Harry Potter" books is turning to crime fiction.


Hey Ken, if you could e-mail me confidentially with the winners of the next ten Super Bowls, World Series, Stanley Cups, NCAA Men's Basketball tournaments, and Kentucky Derbies, I'd be highly appreciative. Thanks!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Unidentified Earth 14a

UPDATED BELOW with the answer.

OK, I'm not going to give this one up quite yet, but I'll try and make it a little more clear. I must admit it now: I may have played unfairly with Unidentified Earth 14, where instead of showing a photo of a famed locale, I showed the satellite image of the road that leads to that famed locale. Now, a bit of that famed locale is visible in the image I used, but maybe that wasn't enough. So, here's another image of that locale:



Does that help?

UPDATE, 8-19-07: Well, that made it a lot easier, didn't it! Within hours, two correct answers came in. The site is Machu Picchu, in Peru. In the original photo I used, I slid east a hair and used the switchback road that runs up the mountainside to the site, with just a bit of the famed city itself visible at the upper left.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Things that make my eyes glaze over, part 857

At least three times in the last day I've followed links from various blogs or other sites to different sites that complain about scientifically impossible stuff in science fiction movies, which invariably leads to kvetching about that old chestnut, "You can't hear explosions in space!"

Well, duh. I also can't hear the London Symphony Orchestra in space, but nobody's bitching about Star Wars on that basis.

So I, for one, will keep hearing explosions in my space movies, OK?

Unidentified Earth 15

OK, since last week's installment was one day late, I'll extend the guessing deadline for that one until tomorrow. So don't look for an answer until then! I seem to have come up with a stumper, since as of this writing, nobody's even hazarded a guess.

But now, to get this thing back onto its normal Thursday schedule, here's the new one:



Where are we?

(And as always, please ROT-13 your guesses!)

Erin, Ringbearer


ring, originally uploaded by enappe27.

Erin is engaged. Congrats to her and Rand, and best wishes for a happy life together.

And I have a feeling that, once a date is set and the location of the reception is decided, we'll know where and when at least one BloggerCon is happening!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Frickin' Awesome Stuff from A to Z

I saw this over on Tom the Dog's blog, and it struck me as a fun idea to do myself -- and then Messrs. Tosy and Cosh beat me to it. But anyway, here's a list of stuff I like a lot, in alphabetical order!

1. The String Quartet number 2 in D, by Alexander Borodin. An achingly gorgeous work from one of the masters of Russian Romanticism.

2. The "Battle of Yavin" track from John Williams's score to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. For my money, this is the best extended cue of action music ever composed.

3. Coinstar machines. I know, it takes a chunk of my money just for the convenience, but Lord, if there's one mind-numbingly boring job that I can't stand, it's rolling loose change. I'm only too happy to sacrifice a few bucks to have a machine do it in minutes.

4. "Dancin' in the Street", as performed by David Bowie and Mick Jagger at LiveAid (and later filmed that same night for the MTV video). It's got a good beat, and I can dance to it.

5. Glass-walled Elevators in tall buildings. I love riding glass elevators. Every building should have a glass elevator!

6. Nathan Fillion as Captain Malcolm Reynolds. The first really cool spaceship captain since Benjamin Sisko. He had so many good lines over the short run of Firefly, and Fillion always struck just the right note.

7. Yosemite Sam's quintessential expression of awe or dismay, "Great hornytoads!"

8. Lieutenant Horatio Caine of the Miami-Dade Crime Lab. "Alex. Who do we have here?" (said while standing akimbo and facing directly away from Alex, who is kneeling over the body).

9. That decrepit castaway-guy, played by Michael Palin, who launches each episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus with the single-word line, "It's...."

10. "Raisuli Attacks", from the score to The Wind and the Lion, by Jerry Goldsmith. The best short action cue I've ever heard (it's about two minutes long).

11. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King. The best book on writing I've ever encountered.

12. The tragic love triangle of Lisen, Amairgen, and Galadan in The Fionavar Tapestry -- a haunting tale that's all the more special since, by the time the events of the book take place, two of the three members of that triangle are dead.

13. Mirna from The Amazing Race. I loved her so.

14. The six symphonies of Carl Nielsen. Fascinating works, each of them -- and I haven't heard them in too long, I've just realized.

15. October. The best month of the year; I live for October. Baseball reaches its post-season; the NFL season's narrative is starting to take shape; the weather (at least in these parts) is stunning.

16. Pie, the perfect food, whether savory or sweet. Expanding the concept to include pizza. On the plate, or in the pan, or arcing through the air toward an unwitting victim, pie is perfect!

17. Presque Isle, in Erie, PA. Hey Buffalonians, if you're looking for a perfect day trip in summer, this is an amazing place to go.

18. The "Rangefinder" game on The Price is Right. A quick, fun game that got a lot more fun when they had some hard-of-hearing old lady playing it, and she couldn't hear the timbre of the audience's screaming shift from exhortation to stop the rangefinder's motion to horror at her almost-certain failure to stop it on time.

19. Ted the lawyer on Scrubs, played by Sam Lloyd. This guy has one of the most inherently funny faces on television.

20. Les Troyens, the masterpiece opera by Hector Berlioz.

21. "Until the Last Moment", by Yanni. There, I said it: I have some appreciation for Yanni. I love his Live at the Acropolis album. I'm sorry, so very, very sorry. (No, I'm not. Deal with it.)

22. Darth Vader. Because he's well, Darth Vader.

23. Real, home-made Whipped cream. The stuff from an aerosol can? Blecchhh!

24. Chris Farley's security guard in Wayne's World, the one with more information than he should have had...and Wayne, later on, noting how useful that information turned out to be: "Aren't we lucky we were there to get that information? It seemed extraneous at the time."

25. The Simpsons: Cletus, the slack-jawed yokel.

26. Zantor, the evil emperor from the Star Wars fanfic of my youth.

This isn't a "tagging" kind of thing, so grab and go if you're so inclined.

One cog in the machine of justice

Well, I was excused from jury duty a couple of hours ago, owing to the fact that I have to be able to pick up The Daughter from the day camp she attends at a time before that at which court itself adjourns for the day, coupled with the fact that The Wife can't pick up The Daughter from said camp because she works a night schedule while I work a day schedule. This is the outcome I was hoping for.

As I noted yesterday, I'd been terribly worried about how executing jury duty would work for me, in the event I was chosen to sit on a jury, mainly for the reason stated above -- but also for a number of other reasons that have everything to do with my personal life and nothing at all to do with a lackadaisical attitude I have toward the justice system. So, for anyone who read that post and assumed that I either generically hate the concept of jury duty or discount its importance in American civic life (and, judging by my e-mail, comments, and even an IM or two, there were a number of readers who took that interpretation of that post), please give me a little credit and assume that maybe I had real, cogent reasons for not wanting to be placed on a jury at this time, OK?

I am well aware of the fact that trial by jury is the best possible system we're ever likely to find as a society to resolving legal disputes or enacting criminal justice. I am also well aware that there's a reason why the courts are such an enduring setting for storytellers in all genres and media. But the fact also exists that the civic and the personal do not always line up neatly, and that one person might find the prospect of jury duty thrilling and exciting at one point in their lives but find it a colossal inconvenience at another.

Anyway, the process itself -- as much as I saw of it -- was fairly dull to sit through, but I do have to commend those in charge of its mechanisms for making it about as pleasant as it can be. The whole process is actually quite a lot more congenial than we're led to expect from watching trials on TV and in movies; the judge wasn't a stern figure looming over everything from above, and the two lawyers seemed friendly enough as well. The instructions were all very clear, as were the various directions given to us throughout the day (or, rather, my half of the day). It was, frankly, about as confusion-free a governmental process as I've ever seen. If only they had free parking for jurors!

(Oh, and judging by some of the outfits I observed, I probably could have worn overalls to court. Live and learn, I guess.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Brief Bleg

For various reasons, I suddenly find myself keenly interested in the writings of Anais Nin. Problem is, I'm a bit confused by the titles that exist out there, between diaries and unexpurgated diaries and books that are extracts from her diaries and so on. Can anyone tell me where a good starting point for Anais Nin might be?

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh. Ugh. And may I add, Ugh.

According to ErieJury.com, the website for information pertaining to jury duty in Erie County:

TRIAL JURORS FOR THE TERM DATE OF MONDAY, AUGUST 13th, WITH JUROR ID#s 794 TO AND INCLUDING JUROR ID# 939 ARE TO REPORT WEDNESDAY BY 9 AM IN THE JURY ASSEMBLY ROOM LOCATED ON THE GROUND FLOOR OF THE COUNTY COURTHOUSE AT 25 DELAWARE AVE. THANK YOU.


My juror number? 877.

Sigh. Looks like I'm in downtown Buffalo tomorrow. I'll be taking several books.

I'm considering showing up in overalls, and then when they say that my attire isn't "proper" for court, I'll just ask if they've ever watched To Kill a Mockingbird.

(Actually, I won't do that, because I'm not stupid. But I do hope to get myself out of this particular civic duty.)

Heavens to Betsy!

How is it possible that as of this writing, there are no guesses as to this week's installment of Unidentified Earth? Did it slip through the cracks for my readers, or have I managed to pull out my second stumper? I hope for the latter, actually; I've been burning through the Quatloos lately.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Nothing to see here....

OK, I suppose this is a sign that this blog has just about run its course: when I start posting LOLCat pictures. Sorry, folks, but while I find most LOLCat things mildly to moderately amusing, this one just appealed to my sensibilities perfectly:

128287428241853619trojuncatizc-1.jpg


Of course, the comments over there have all kinds of "alternate" captions, many of which are obviously derived from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I think Shamus should work it somehow into DM of the Rings, though....

I look...blocky.

I shall call him...Lego Me!



And PZ called me an "axe-murderer" -- does that look like an axe? I think not!

Sentential Links #109

One hundred nine! Woo-hoo! Do you know what that means? Me either, but a little Googling reveals that "109 is the smallest number that is palindromic in bases 5 and 9." OK then.

:: I'm telling you, if success is getting everything you ever wanted, George Bush is the most successful President ever.

:: We aren't doing these things for ourselves. We're doing them for our grandchildren. (I knew I'd been reading SDB all this time for a reason! This is an outstanding post of his, and I gotta say, it's brief by his standards. Time was when he'd preface this with some long thing about some obscure engineering principle or something someone discovered in battle in 1547....)

:: I used to have a boyfriend. He was actually perfect: cute, funny, thoughtful, lots of chemistry, pulled my hair at all the right times. He was, for a period, even attentive--that is, until June 29, 2007, when the iPhone went on sale. (Naughty language alert, but this post is hilarious. Oh, and this must surely be a sign of the coming apocalypse, which makes me say, "I for one welcome our new horsemen overlords.")

:: I don’t know why my outfit was so offensive to her that she felt she had to stop and tell me about it. (Just found this blog -- I'm astonished at the rudeness mentioned here. Also, one day I should write a post about why I find overalls extremely flattering on women; this blogger's picture provides some pretty good evidence in my favor.)

:: Better a brief but creative life than a long and not so creative life. However I think it goes without saying that a long and creative life would probably be best. (Another blog that's new to me this week.)

:: Not many men are secure enough in their masculinity to wear a dress. More than once. (And another! Yay!)

:: I've never liked the concept of a guilty pleasure. Why should you feel guilty about something you enjoy? You know what a guilty pleasure is for me? Marijuana. Because it's a crime. Otherwise, who cares?

And that's all for this week. Back next Monday, give or take....

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Wow....


Fair 07 006, originally uploaded by Jaquandor.

I saw this "Get Well Soon" style card as part of a display among the antiques in the Crafts building at the Erie County Fair. The display was of old bits of media that depicted the kinds of wild racial stereotypes that used to be regular fare in America's "white" culture. It's always a shock to see tangible reminders like this of just how openly we used to display our racism in this country.

Sunday Burst of Weirdness

This week's nuggets of oddity from around the Intertubes:

:: Steven directs my attention to a wonderfully-named product. But what happens if you're a guy and you eat these cookies?

:: A few weeks ago, the Burst of Weirdness had a delightful bit of bathroom graffiti that I suspected was a lot more wide-spread than I had ever known. And sure enough, it is: someone has a Cafepress store selling clothing emblazoned with "Press Button, Receive Bacon". Hooray!

:: Thanks to SamuraiFrog for this:



This makes me think of the drive-thru ATM's whose buttons nevertheless have Braille on them.

:: The Stephen Colbert "On Notice Board" Generator is a lot of fun. Here are some I came up with:







All for this week. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Inner Piece

I feel the need to enshrine today's installment of Get Fuzzy. Our story so far is that Satchel has taken up Tantric meditation (which he'd misread as "Tantrum meditation"), and is now apparently teaching Bucky how to do it:



Bucky's line there belongs on a t-shirt or something.

UPDATE: It occurs to me that I haven't complained about For Better or For Worse in a while, so the current storyline -- yet more in the inevitable pairing of Liz and Anthony -- makes me want to vomit. And remember, I love a good sappy love story. This one, though? Blecchhh. What is with Lynn Johnston's rather creepy apparent belief that true happiness involves marrying one's grade school sweetheart and never moving more than a mile or two from home?

Headline Writers who Suck

Here's something else that annoys me: News headlines that are deliberately misleading, in hopes of getting people to click through.

The other day I saw on AOL this headline: Harry Potter actress reveals pregnancy. Obviously they're hoping that people will think, "Oh my God, Emma Watson's pregnant? But she's only seventeen!" Of course, it's only Helena Bonham Carter who's pregnant, not the person most people are going to think of as a "Harry Potter actress".

And since I'm in a complaining mood, does every home run Barry Bonds hits now that he's broken the all-time record really warrant a front-page headline on MSN.com?

I want the word back.

It sickens me that in this day and age, it's people like the church mentioned in this news article are the ones who get to lay claim to the word family, and get to parade themselves around as champions of family values, even as they cheerfully spit on every family that doesn't line up precisely into their tiny, small-minded little definition of the word, all the while with that same nauseating smile of false piety on their faces. You know that smile -- it graces the lips of every single televangelizing cretin preacher on the Earth, and Jerry Falwell had that smile so ingrained on his face that I'm sure it's still on his visage even now that he's several months in the coffin.

These people are not pro-family. It's just that simple. They're for and against a lot of things, but family isn't one of them.

Tag'd!

TeflonJedi tags me with the Meme of Four. And just for fun, I'm going to morph the rules here before I send this quiz out into the wild. I'm going to add a question to the quiz, at the bottom (but just before the one in which I tag four others), with the expectation that those tagged will add their own question in addition to answering the one I add myself. Does that make sense? Basically I want to see how big we can make this quiz by passing it around!

Wow, this coffee is good this morning!

Anyway, the quiz:

Four jobs I've had or currently have in my life:

1. Grocery store maintenance guy.
2. Pharmaceutical sales rep with a telesales company. (Worst job ever. The workplace itself was fine, very nice people and all who really tried to make me into a decent salesperson, but I'm just not temperamentally attuned to sales. At all. I'd face an uphill battle selling freshly-slaughtered blubber at a steep discount to a village of starving Inuits.)
3. Assistant restaurant manager. (I wasn't bad at this, but ultimately I decided that restaurant management just wasn't my cup of tea.)
4. Technical services assistant at a college library. (This was mostly fun, albeit occasionally dull and menial. Any assignment that involved working in the Rare Books room was golden -- I loved those old books.)


Four countries I have been to:

1. Canada
2. Mexico (although I'm not sure I should count it, since I was no more than three years old at the time and I have no memory at all of this trip)
3. Gondor
4. Florin

Four places I'd rather be right now:

1. Sitting on the porch of an old farmhouse somewhere in the hills of southeastern Erie County
2. Riding a hot-air balloon over the autumn hills of Western New York's Southern Tier
3. Hiking the Scottish Highlands
4. In her arms


Four foods I like to eat:

1. White peaches, filled with the nectar of the Gods
2. Potato salad, made with lots of mustard and loaded with diced onions, chilled to just above the point of freezing and eaten at sundown on a very hot day
3. Boyer's Peanut Butter Smoothies
4. A salad consisting of nothing other than mixed greens (but no iceberg lettuce, as that stuff is just horrible), a can of water-packed tuna, and a generous amount of Italian dressing

New Question! Four personal heroes, past or present:

1. Marv Levy
2. Adolph Herseth (former principal trumpet of the Chicago Symphony, and possibly the greatest symphonic trumpet player of all time)
3. Leonard Bernstein
4. Carl Sagan

Four people I would like to tag:

1. Lynn (Your new blog name and design aren't official until your first tag-quiz!)
2. Belladonna (My favorite source for introspective blogging, which is why I almost always tag her with stuff like this.)
3. SamuraiFrog (Unless you've already done this one, since you seem to get all of these.)
4. Messrs. Tosy and Cosh (Who would probably just grab the quiz and do it anyway, even if I didn't tag him.)

Of course, there's nothing saying that you can't grab the quiz and do it anyway, even if I didn't tag you. Just remember to add a new question!

A Very Public Service Message

Blogging may or may not be interrupted this week, as I may or may not be put in the position of judging someone's fate.

Yes, I'm on call for jury duty. Maybe I can use my long-known racist feelings to get out of the task -- but of course, that will only work if the defendant is an Orc. God, I hate the Orcs so much....

Friday, August 10, 2007

Why I am a horrible father, part XLVI

This week, we've started reading Little House in the Big Woods to The Daughter at bedtime. Keeping that in mind, here's a portion of tonight's dinner-table conversation:

ME: So, are you still reading Little House?

THE DAUGHTER: Yup.

ME: Ah. Did you get to the attack on the Indian village yet?

THE DAUGHTER: What?

ME: Yeah, the raid on the Indian village. Did you get to that part yet?

THE DAUGHTER: Dad, don't tell me the end!

ME: Oh, but that's not the end! It's in the middle of the book...Pa takes a poisoned arrow and nearly dies, though. Later on, Mary becomes addicted to peyote.

THE DAUGHTER: (shakes head sadly) You make no sense.


I was bummed that the conversation trailed off there...I had something percolating in the back of my mind involving Mr. Edwards being Laura's real father, owing to his illicit tryst with Caroline Ingalls some years before, and maybe also being a deserter from the Union army on the run from a pair of bounty hunters named Wilder, one of whom would later fall in love with Laura, who would have to choose between her love for the strapping young lad named Almanzo and the beloved Mr. Edwards. Yeah, that would have made those books more fun!

Unidentified Earth 14

OK, folks, sorry for the one-day delay on this, but I called Blogger's Prerogative, and that trumps all. Last week's installment was identified by several folks correctly as the Kaaba in Mecca; those who knew it can collect their 1,000,000 Quatloos on February 29, 2009.

And now for this week's hopeful stumper:



Where are we?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Geek Manifesto

Mr. Bennion has a nifty manifesto, "What a Geek Believes", that he knicked from here. I'll reproduce it below, with the things I believe allowed to stand but with the things I do not believe struck out.

(The original is in one long paragraph, but I'm going to break it out into a list format for my purposes here.)

I believe that Han shot first. (OK, I'd prefer it if Han shot first, but I've never been able to get really worked up about this.)

I believe that Ally Sheedy was hotter before Molly Ringwald cleaned her up. (No, I liked her better after. But I always thought she should have ended up with Brian, not "Sport-o".)

I believe in miniatures, models, claymation, and not revealing the shark until you absolutely have to. (Well, yeah, but I've never felt the antipathy toward CGI that many geeks do.)

I believe that George Lucas, for better or for worse, change[d] the way we see the world, each other, and ourselves.

And I believe that we will someday reach those stars that he himself made visible.

I believe that George Lucas is also a narrow-minded, money-grubbing, pig-headed slave to the now, who ought to be locked away from his own creations, lest he do them further harm. ("Money-grubbing"? Why does Lucas always get singled out for doing things that everybody else in the business does? And I have no problem with what he's done lately, as I've demonstrated repeatedly.)

I believe that Jean-Luc Picard is the better Starship Captain, but I also believe that James Tiberius Kirk is infinitely cooler. (Kirk's my favorite Captain. But I love Picard, too -- different kinds of guys.)

I believe that a child standing in line to buy a book at midnight is fantastic; I believe that reading makes you smart — it’s schools that make you dumb. (Reading what? What is it about "schools" that make you dumb? This is too generic a statement.)

I believe that any episode of Futurama is better than any program featuring a precocious teenager who’s wise beyond their years. (I'm having trouble thinking up a counterexample, but there's always a counterexample.)

I also believe Buffy the Vampire Slayer to be the sole exception that proves this rule. (I never got into Buffy, but I liked it just fine when I watched a stray episode or two. I just never wanted to invest myself in getting into it; besides, I recall something else being on in the same timeslot.)

I believe that comic books are an art form, and will someday be recognized as such.

I believe that good shows die too young; and crap shows last too long. (Well, I'm not sure. What I really wish is that American teevee would go the anime route, and put together shows that tell a single story and then go away. The open-ended thing gets problematic, as good hit shows go on past the time when they really should go away (X-Files, ER). Sure, Firefly and Once and Again and My So-Called Life ended too soon, but I'd rather have what we do of those shows than have them spread out over three or four brilliant seasons and then three or four more less-brilliant ones.)

I believe that Eddie Izzard is the funniest man alive, and I don’t care whether you’ve ever heard of him or not — it’s still true. (I am totally unfamiliar with Eddie Izzard, so I'm agnostic on this point.)

I believe that a girl who likes movies about zombies is hotter than whoever is on the cover of Maxim this month.

I believe that Belloch ate that fly. (I'd agree, except that it's "Belloq", not "Belloch".)

I swear to God that I heard Luke call Leia "Carrie." (To my dying day I will not hear this as "Carrie!". It always sounds in my ears like something along this lines of "Heyeah!")

I believe that Samwise Gamgee never quite got the credit he really deserved. (In what way? I don't think that Samwise Gamgee ever wanted credit. He didn't want to be a Ringbearer, and he didn't want to go to Mordor. What he wanted was to see the Elves, and then go home and marry the girl with ribbons in her hair, which he did. The only credit he ever seems to want is for his name to be mentioned in the tales of his age, which it certainly is.)

I believe in magic, I believe in dreams, I believe in the power of music, movies, and the untold worlds inside an everyday library card. And I do not believe that geeks will inherit the earth; I believe that we already have. (Well, that should be on my tombstone.)

And there you are.

Quik Hits

Some lazy linkage and updates:

:: The next installment of Unidentified Earth will appear on Friday this week, as opposed to its normal Thursday appearance tomorrow. We're going to the Fair.

:: I've been remiss in noting that Lynn has a new look and a new title. Adjust blogrolls as necessary. (Memo to self: revise the blogroll soon. I've got a lot of additions that I haven't got to yet.)

:: I am now on the blogroll at By Neddie Jingo!, which I consider to be a high honor. Thanks to him. Linkage makes me all tingly inside. (So does rum, but that's another thing.)

:: Reasons not to like workplace pizza parties. I never much liked them either when I was in my "office" job, because, well, fat chance getting toppings other than pepperoni or plain cheese. If you, like me, occasionally have a hankering for Italian sausage and mushrooms, well, you're screwed at office pizza party time.

:: I'm rarely one to complain about Buffalo's weather, but man, this heat-and-humidity is Godawful. I hate it. Of course, it's not just a Buffalo thing; most of the country is unpleasant right now. But I still detest this steaminess.

:: I just checked out of the library three books by Anais Nin. When did I become interested in her? Seriously, I have no idea -- but it may have something to do with the fact that there's a quote by her on a bookmark that my dearest friend gave me last year. Anyway, I'll report after I read some of it.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Great Scott!

One of Jerry Goldsmith's greatest film scores, The Wind and the Lion, is getting a lavish re-issue from Intrada Records.

Am I ordering one? You'd better believe it!

Sentential Links #108

Here we go with this week's selections....

:: And if the argument is that he was violating non-baseball laws, I'll listen to this as soon as the arguer advocates kicking Mickey Mantle and every other player who took amphetamines out of the Hall of Fame. (This is just about my take on Barry Bonds: yeah, he took steroids, so what. As for people who suggest that his record carry an asterisk in the record books, wouldn't any batting title from the steroid era also require an asterisk? Should Bonds's lifetime average carry an asterisk? Hell, if as many players took steroids as are commonly supposed, shouldn't the entire yearly standings of Major League Baseball carry an asterisk in that period?)

:: I was musing about whether the United States was ready for a black President. (Heck, sometimes I wonder if America is ready for a President at all.)

:: Yesterday started with a root canal, and rather went downhill from there. (Wow. Bad day, that.)

:: The next time the game has an open beta, plunk down your cash and sign up. You may regret the time spent not getting to know your significant other and children, but you'll barely remember who they are...

:: In most hugs I’ve participated in, Person A throws his or her arms completely around Person B, tightly pinning Person B’s arms to his or her torso while he or she stands there, ramrod-straight, grinning somewhat uncomfortably. It’s a joy to behold such human closeness!

:: I wish I’d started reading this way years ago. Of course, years ago I didn’t see the need. (I was probably going to remove Will's blog from the blogroll due to inactivity on the next go-round, but now he's active again!)

That's all for now. Moving along....

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sleep, the nectar of the Gods

Kevin Drum today:

Of the many things I hold against conservatives, one of the less cosmically important is that so many of them seem to belong to the annoying eager-beaver wake-up-at-the-crack-of-dawn club.


Yeah, I'm deeply suspicious of the crack-of-dawn crowd myself. (The fact that I may be becoming one of them is of no import, because nobody is more deeply suspicious of me than, well, me.)

The ultimate cautionary tale against this "Early to bed, early to rise" nonsense is philosopher Rene Descartes, who all his life had the habit of staying in bed until noon -- that is, until he was hired by the Queen of Sweden to be her tutor. Sadly, she required him to be up at the crack of dawn for her study sessions, and within a year, Descartes had ceased thinking, and therefore being, altogether.

Thermal

Thurman Thomas, Hall-of-Famer.



I could never decide, way back in the days of the Buffalo Bills romping through the AFC every year, which was my favorite player. Sometimes I'd name Jim Kelly; other times I'd name Thurman Thomas. Bruce Smith was always right up there too (although his tendency to get pissed off about his money every other year used to annoy). Andre Reed and James Lofton. Kent Hull. Steve Tasker, of course. Darryl Talley. Cornelius Bennett. Mark Kelso, who wore this gigantic helmet (necessitated by concussions) that made him look like a bobble-head when he was on the field. Phil Hansen.

Those were the Bills teams I watched from afar, while I was in college in Iowa; those teams were the little piece of "home" I took to a place where knowledge of New York geography was such that people apparently thought that Buffalo was just a little bit farther outside New York City than Yonkers. It seems odd to me that next year, 2008, will be the twentieth anniversary of when the Bills first rose to prominence (AFC East champs in 1988, with the season ending in a 21-10 loss to the Bengals in the AFC Championship Game), and that we're just three years away from the twentieth anniversary of the Bills' first Super Bowl appearance (lost 20-19 to the NY Giants). Wow.

Anyway, here's how I always remember Thurman Thomas: cutting back with effortless ease as a bunch of Miami Dolphin defenders gaze, less than lovingly, at the back of his jersey.



Thanks for the memories, Number Thirty-Four!

Sunday Burst of Weirdness

Again not a whole lot of weirdness that caught my eye this week. Is the Interweb becoming less weird? Or am I just getting less good at finding it? Either way, it's a disturbing trend. Anyway:

:: Greg reports on Megan Fox's rather odd choice of body art.

:: Already familiar to readers of his Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana (and if you're not a reader of it, why on Earth not?!) is Jess Nevins's defense of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who is usually derided as one of history's worst writers. I've never read him, personally.

:: For some reason, Steven thinks that people should feel significant cognitive dissonance over the fact that he has long hair and yet is not a liberal. Maybe he's not living in the right place; I know plenty of fairly long-haired gents who aren't hippies at all.

:: I was never a fan of Popeye, either in cartoons or in that horrible Robin Williams movie. Never liked him. But until I started reading Comics Curmudgeon, I never knew that Popeye is a daily comic strip too -- and a really, really weird one at that.

Friday, August 03, 2007

So much for the great cosmopolitan....

All Buffalonians need to read this Matthew Yglesias post, which I found to be utterly hilarious. (Unintentionally, no doubt -- but I was truly tickled at Matthew's epiphany here. He's in Chicago now for YearlyKos, but the post has nothing to do with politics.)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Poetical Excursion

I'm thinking of resurrecting this old series of mine, wherein I once in a while posted a poem that's particularly meaningful to me. Here is Robert Burns's "My Luve is Like a Red, Red Rose":

O my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June.
O my Luve's like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I,
And I will luve thee still, my Dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my Dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun!
And I will luve thee still, my Dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve!
And fare thee weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile!


"Till a' the seas gang dry". It should always feel like that.

Walkability

I've seen this walkability test in a number of places, and I finally was able to get my neighborhood's score: 42 out of 100. Oh well.

Of course, this doesn't imply that there aren't places to walk. I've been walking nearly every day this summer, roughly for an hour at a time, in part of an attempt to start living more healthily. There are plenty of places to walk about. If "walkability" denotes being able to walk to conduct normal errands, then yeah, I don't live in the most walkable of locales. But walking for the sake of walking? I've got it made.

(Well, almost. One of the only great flaws I can see in Buffalo's Southtowns region, which I love dearly and never want to leave, is the lack of a nice paved bike and walking path down here. The River Path in Tonawanda and the Ellicott Creek paths are nice, but they're at least ten miles away from Casa Jaquandor. West Seneca has a wonderful soccer field facility that's ringed by a mile-long paved path, but for change-of-scenery, it gets a little old -- and when the soccer tournaments get going, the place gets incredibly congested. (Which reminds me, people: the path is a path, not a place to set up your folding chairs. Grrr.))

Several days a week, if I want to get my walking in, I've had to get up at five in the morning to do it. I detest getting out of bed that early, really and truly, but I love the way the world looks in the hour just before dawn. This past Monday, when I got up it had finished raining just minutes before and was then clearing off, so everything was slightly damp, and mist was rising from the lawns and fields. To the East, the sky was reddening with the approaching dawn, and to the West, the full moon -- now red and hazy -- was sinking toward the horizon. One way the Sun, the other way the Moon.

Forty-two out of one hundred? On that morning, I gave my neighborhood a perfect walkability score.

Good thing the Devil didn't go to Carnegie Hall....

For some reason, the local country station -- which I hear occasionally at work -- plays "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" daily, which drives me nuts because I consider it to be one of the worst songs in the history of musical expression. And not just human musical expression. Human song, whale song, Vulcan song, Gungan song..."Devil Went Down to Georgia" is worse than all of it.

First of all, the whole idea's just goofy; second, there's the sad fact that the fiddle playing in that song is, well, crap. I always break out laughing when I hear what's supposed to be this astonishing playing by the Devil, which turns out to be this scratchy shit that would get jeered off the stage at just about any place where anyone knows anything about good fiddling or violin playing. Seriously, the Devil is so bad that it's no surprise that "Johnny" beats him; frankly, the Devil couldn't even rosin the bow of a Natalie MacMaster or an Alison Krauss or an Eileen Ivers, and Itzhak Perlman could blow the Devil right off the stage just by playing a C-major scale.

Anyway. "Devil Went Down to Georgia" is the worst song ever.

Unidentified Earth 13

Here we go again! Last week's entry only merited a single guess, which was of course correct, since it was a fairly easy one: the Atomium in Brussels, Belgium, which is one of the coolest buildings anywhere.

And now for this week's entry:



Where are we?

(Rot-13 all answers, please!)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Lord....

OK, I need all of my readers from Minneapolis to chime in here, as soon as possible. Let me know you're all right.

UPDATE: This is the bridge that collapsed:



Here's the bridge's location in relation to downtown Minneapolis. The bridge is at the far right; that's the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome near the middle, and downtown Minneapolis dominating the lefthand side of the image.

How horrible.

(I'll keep this post at the top of the blog until tomorrow.)

A brief quiz thing

Stolen from Incurable Insomniac:

1. If there were no blogs, what would you be doing right now?

Reading and writing. Being more productive.

2. If you had to spend one year living alone in a remote cabin, what would you spend your time doing?

Reading and writing. If I have electricity, listening to music and watching movies and stuff on DVD. Seeing how long I could grow my beard before I finally gave in and trimmed it. (I'm guessing, not very long. I get antsy when it approaches a half-inch in length.) Chop firewood. Learn to fish. Sleep. Swim fully-clothed in remote mountain streams. Drink tea. Sing at the top of my lungs.

And that's what I'd do by ten in the morning!

3. If you could go back in time, what one piece advice would you give yourself?

To when? If I'm talking to my five-year-old self, I'd say, "Smile when they take the damn picture." If I'm talking to my thirteen-year-old self, I'd say, "You know, maybe that guy's not blowing smoke up your ass when he mentions that you should be on the swim team every time he sees you." If I'm talking to my seventeen-year-old self, I'd say, "You're barely going to remember her in ten years, so stop acting like an idiot stalker and move on." If I'm talking to my twenty-one-year-old self, I'd say, "Start writing now." If I'm talking to my twenty-six-year-old self, I'd say...actually, forget that one, it's a bit kinky. If I'm talking to my thirty-year-old self, I'd say, "Don't take that telesales job, and call back that grocery store." If I'm talking to my thirty-three-year-old self, I'd say, "Get ready, because this is when it all gets worse."

If I'm talking to myself yesterday, I'd say, "Life starts when you damn well say it does."

4. "If you really knew me you would know that..."

I'd walk through fire if you asked me to.

"High school is a battlefield for your heart."

Well, while I'm waiting for the still-unannounced release of Season Three of Once and Again, this fall's reissue of My So-Called Life, by the same creative team, should tide me over. What a great show that was...all nineteen episodes of it.

When special places become a bit less special

A few years ago, when I discovered that other people in Buffalo were blogging, a community of sorts started to develop, in fits and starts. Gradually that community got larger and larger, and as it did so, it started to separate itself out a bit into somewhat-discrete groups, ultimately with two "collectives" basically becoming the big wheels of it all. Now one of those collectives has caught the other behaving badly, and is itself behaving as though it has pulled off some kind of grand journalistic expose of the kind you used to see in the heyday of Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes.

Meanwhile, I'm sitting here at my computer, plugging away at the only blog I've ever owned, as the only person who's ever written the posts here, wondering why it is we never have BloggerCon's anymore. Now I know. We stopped being a bunch of happy people with blogs, and instead declared ourselves -- well, some of us, anyway -- "citizen journalists", pratting on about "New Media" and "Information for the 21st Century" and all that jazz.

Oh well. Obviously the Buffalo blogging community couldn't stay the way I liked it forever -- but it would have been nice had it stayed that way a little longer.