Tuesday, December 27, 2005
That's what my wife found out recently. Of course, the phone is shiny and clean again... I went to my local phone store and explained my delimma. The guy...a great-looking black man with green eyes that just might be real...checked my account and confirmed that yes, my wife's phone is insured. Thought so. I knew I insured one of them when we first got them, but couldn't remember which one. I'm the one who was most likely to drop it and break it. I did drop it within the first week -- onto a concrete sidewalk -- but fortunately it survived with only a few nicks.
No, I chose to buy insurance for my wife's phone because of her history with electronic gadgets. She has a strong aura that apparently doesn't get along well with electronics. It's not her fault, and it's not incompetence of any sort. It's just that sometimes electronical things get wonky around her. So I opted for a warranty of sorts for her cell phone.
Fast-forward to today. I place the call to the insuring agency and find out that apparently people leave their cell phones in their pants pockets and wash them all the time. Now, I've washed my pocket knife a time or three. But never my wallet or car keys. And before now, would never have imagined running my cell phone through the wash. But then, I guess neither would my wife.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Happy Holidays everyone. Stay safe and close to those you love, and watch out for those evil Decepticons!
Friday, December 23, 2005
Imagine it: 12 beers, all a different flavor, and all of them good! I get giddy whenever I open the box. Last year, when I brought it home for the first time (I don't think there were 12 flavors last year, I'm not sure), I accidentally drank six of them in one sitting while watching Fellowship of the Ring. Now, I don't usually drink more than two on a typical evening, but I got caught up in the excitement of new flavors and a terrific movie.
The only one I don't really care for is the Winter Wassail. I don't usually like spiced beers. This one reminded me of a fruitcake. Well, more like a fruitcake soaked in heavy beer. All of the flavors are rich and complex. The colors represent the full spectrum of the hoppy rainbow. Tasty, "sippin' beer" just begging for a fire place.
Saranac makes good beer in general. Fact of life. But they really pull out all the stops for this seasonal collection. Go to your grocery store and pick one up while you can. If you've never had Saranac, you may have seen them. During other parts of the year, you can usually find their standard 12-pack, called a Trail Mix. It's an assortment of their regular flavors.
That's enough sales pitching for now. Me, I'm going to pour me one and watch Family Guy. I wonder what I'll choose...their black and tan or the oatmeal stout? The chocolate amber? Oh, maybe the nut brown...you know how much I love brown ales, and this one is incredible.
I'm a beer dork.
Playing on XM: Twangbangers
(their 9-minute version of Hotrod Lincoln features a study of guitar-playing styles!)
Naturally, I'm raising my boys in the same vein. They love playing games. I pulled my time playing Candyland and Chutes and Ladders in order to groom them for the good stuff now. Of course, I began the indoctrination early on, like using HeroClix figures in Candyland instead of those lifeless plastic gingerbread men. Our Marvel superheroes secret war was fought for control of the candy kingdom.
Now that the boys are 5 and almost-7, they've experimented with their first collectible card game (Teen Titans Go) and we play things like Give Me the Brain (from Cheapass Games) and Fluxx (from Looney Labs). They learned arithmetic playing Button Men (a "clever little dice game" from Cheapass Games). They're really developing a strong game-sense. Oh, and also very strong reasoning and reading skills, for what that's worth.
Recently they've been a little hyper as all tots are this time of year. Last Saturday they were having a very bad day. They'd both been yelled at extensively and spent significant portions of the day in time-out. I decided I wanted to end the day on a more positive note, so I offered to teach them a new game: Munchkin (a fun card game from Steve Jackson Games). [Is it weird that I spout off game designers so easily? Nah.]
We played a couple of short games that evening so that they could get a grip on the rules. More importantly, they got to focus on something constructive and fun and we all had some pleasant quality time before bed. Dunc asked if we could play again the next morning. It was Sunday, so I said, "sure, we'll be able to do that as soon as we get up."
Fast forward to the next morning.I'm awakened at 6:28 by the sound of someone banging in the boys' room. I walk in (my wife is already up, working in the living room) and ask my minion why he's making so much noise. Can't he see that his older brother is still sleeping? "Yes, I know. I'm trying to wake him up to play with me." I send the first out to watch TV and the other one gets out of bed, now awake from all of the commotion.
I accompany them to the living room to make sure they don't distrub their mother. As I turn to head back to my comfy pillow, Duncan, ever ready to seize the day, ESPECIALLY in the pre-dawn hours, asks, "can we play Munchkin now dad?" Well, as a devoted, professional gamer...I couldn't refuse. It's biological instinct for me to accept an offer to game. Even at 6:30 on a Sunday morning.
So we're playing. And Logan, the 6-yr old makes his move. I get a monster that's tough, but nothing I can't handle. Logan offers to help me in the combat...he quickly caught on to the special ability on his Elf race card (by assisting other players in combat, he gains a level, thus getting one step closer to winning the game). I say "no thanks, I've got it." His retort: "Okay, I'll play this then." And he lays down a monster enhancer (Humongous), empowering the monster well beyond my means of dealing with it. Upon me announcing this, he replies, "can I help you now?"
How could I refuse? I just got Munchkin'd by my own munchkin.
Playing on XM: Special Xmas
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Work has been kicking me in the head for weeks...not only do we have three catalogs in the works at one time...during the holidays, but our sections...the car audio gear...is all new products. And since we're writing and going to print months before the manufacturers even HAVE finished products on hand, getting final information and specs on them is almost hopeless. Life of copywriting is fun.
Playing on XM: Drive-By Truckers!
Sunday, November 27, 2005
My fortune came from me having cut my hours back to 3/4 time a few months ago. Then as this season of new car stereo models combined with holiday shopping madness and overworked creative staff, it allowed me to position myself to say, "Y'know, I could work a lot more hours if I were able to do it from home in the evenings." Of course the trade off was that if I'm taking back more responsibility and giving up some of my currently free evenings, then there's gotta be something in it for me too. Thus, working from home two days of the week. I almost feel like some kind of successful professional.
So now that I have no excuse to not put in overtime, I'm chained to my precious lappy all hours of the night, cutting painfully into my movie-viewing and comic-reading time. When I'm not working, I absolutely do NOT want to touch the computer.
Other news of high merit: I'm playing D&D again! And I'm playing an NPC kobold bard until the DM can work my character into the story. What fun! I love this gaming group...buncha guys whom I've come to call friends, and exemplary role players all. This is what the hobby is all about.
Now I'm off to write some more catalog copy. Let me know if you're in the market for a new car stereo. I'll make you famous!
Playing on XM: country Christmas music, currently Dwight Yoakam
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
First, I've been spending my surfing time reading Order of the Stick. It's incredibly entertaining, especially if you're a gamer. LOTS of in-jokes and D&D references. Check it out.
Okay, something that has been bothering me is GAS PRICES. Oh for the days when our Commander in Chief wasn't a war monger and encouraged people to CONSERVE our resources, rather than showing our "support" and "patriotism" by paying whatever was asked at the pumps without question. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the major oil conglomerates reported incredible profits in the third quarter. Yep, that's right. They're making a killing, while passing the cost of business on to you, the consumer.
Speaking of Jimmy Carter, my all-time favorite president and human being since Ben Franklin (yes that was a joke, about the BF being a president...he should have been, but he was too smart to take the job), one of my favorite comedians, Kathleen Madigan, had a bit about Ross Perot...hang on, I'm getting there...where she said that in an interview, Carter was asked his opinion of new presidential-hopeful Perot. Carter responded with a bunch of negative comments about Perot. Madigan summed it up perfectly saying, "If Jimmy Carter calls you an asshole...you're probably an asshole." Carter ismy favorite past-president largely because of everything he did AFTER leaving the Oval Office. Seriously, how many world leaders do you know of who spent their post-ruling years building houses -- with their own hands -- for the needy?
Anyway, our current political climate of war, being outright lied to, and being hated by the world just leaves me yearning for the innocent days of my youth.
Next topic: Magic Hat Brewery
(err, don't bother with their website; I just discovered that it's a clunky, obtuse, flash-animation disaster)
These guys have been my favorite beer company since I stumbled upon their brewery the last time I was in Vermont, about five years ago. Their beer was (and is) good, but I have to admit that they won me over for life with thier seasonal beer of that summer. It was and herbal brew called A Beer Named Sue. Hell yeah. Johnny Cash fans in Vermont. We got a new Harris Teeter near where I work and they carry Magic Hat's beer. Right now I am enjoying the refreshing taste of their Fat Angel. Mmm. Seriously, this is some of the best tasting beer I've ever sampled. Slightly bitter, crisp, light, and satisfying.
With that, I'm off to refill my glass. Talk to you again soon.
Wait..parting thought. Drinking beer is first and foremost meant to be a social event, especially when it's good beer. Tell me about YOUR favorite beer. What do you like, what do you hate? I recently pointed out to a coworker that while I AM a beer connoisseur, I am decidedly not a beer snob. I'll come out and admit that my favorite "cheap" beer is Budweiser. But that comes from a well-trained, discerning palatte. Did you know that, unlike many blue-collar beers, Bud has a faint nutty flavor? See...that's discerning. Your turn.
Playing on XM: Robert Earl Keen
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
The sounds were coming from a house across the street next door to a dentist's office. This house is already marked as "odd" in my book. Just a few weeks ago, I came out one morning (at normal commuting hours) just as several police cars, a fire truck, and an ambulance all arrived in that area. I watched as two newly "on scene" police officers approach the house. Soon, paramedics led three people from the house - all walking and seemingly coherent - to the ambulance. I had no idea what the sitch was, but guessed either domestic violence or drug-related acitivity. This was a hard-core turnout of authority for our small town.
So anyway, back to today. My instincts were screaming for me to return to my front porch and pretend to read, whilst listening to the ambient sounds to hear how they progressed. I mean, how often to do you get to observe such things? Instead, I climbed into my car and proceeded to work, opportunity missed. But before I pulled away, I heard a third repeat of the noise, but this time there were multiple *thwacks* and I wondered again if they weren't punches. They were followed by the same "uh!" of the victim. I could see no open windows, through which the noises might issue and no one in the back yard...I thought perhaps it's just a couple of people sparring in some sort of fighting practice. But these sounds were too regular and one-sided for that to be the case. Very measured. And the "victim's" cries didn't carry a note of protest or fear.
So I'm left wondering, my wild imagination running rampant, what the hell was going on? It didn't help that I'd just watched an episode of "Night Stalker" on SciFi, so my mind was in 'dark horrors of the macabre' mode. If you're familiar with this old 70's show, you know the main character (the role that made Darren McGavin famous long before A Christmas Story) is an investigative reporter who's wild hunches are usually right on the mark. It was only natural that my own reaction followed a similar vein. That's pretty much how I react to any strange situation anyway, regardless of what I've been watching on TV.
Was this just a friendly sex game (which I can certainly appreciate) or could there be something darker at work here...? Perhaps someone in that house being tortured to feed some blasphemous horror's thirst for psychic pain? And is there a difference? The curious mind reels. Or, mine does at least.
Weirdness abounds. As Alice Cooper said, 'welcome to my nightmare,' neighbor.
What do you think it was?
Playing on XM: Johnny Cash/Kris Kristofferson
Friday, September 30, 2005
But he didn't realize he was talking about himself.You will absolutely not believe this. Recently some New Jersey policemen were returning home from a 14-day aid trip to New Orleans. They were traveling in a convoy of about a dozen police cruisers, heading up I-81 here in Virginia.
At 95 MPH.With their lights flashing, which just happens to be illegal in Virginia (and most states) unless they are responding to an emergency.
And they were a little upset when Virginia police pulled them over and gave them a warning.Here's the news article
And here’s the transcript from the deputy's telephone call
Playing on XM: not listening right now
Thursday, September 29, 2005
If you don't know the Supersuckers, they're a rowdy, hard-rockin' Seattle group who span the musical spectrum with guitar-whippin' punk sounds just as easily as they twang a bent note.
The disc is good from start to finish, but I want to highlight some of the gems. First and foremost is their cover of Rubber biscuit, which even Elwood Blues would have to say, "Damn boys, that's a good cover!" I've been listening to this track repeatedly.
The next one is a cover of Jerry Reed's Eastbound & down. You may remember this one as the theme from the movie Smokey and the Bandit. Yeah, it takes you back a ways. Again, they've done a nice job of making someone else's song sound distinctly their own, while at the same time, keeping true to the original. And it's a fun song.
My personal favorite from the track list is what I'm pretty sure is the first Satanic country song I've ever heard. It's a devil-worshipping romp called Born with a tail. On the jacket, they warn you parenthetically that this one is a country song, just to brace you for the musical change. Man, that's thoughtful of them.
This is the Supersucker's first "studio" album since 2003's release, Motherfuckers Be Trippin', which included my all time favorites Bubblegum and beer and Pretty fucked up. With such poetry as "She used to be pretty, now she's just pretty fucked up," what's not to like? Next month you can look for an all-new release from the group's front man, Eddie Spaghetti. His second solo album, it's appropriately titled Old No. 2 and it promises to be good.
In the meantime, check out Devil's Food.
Playing on XM: Aqueduct
On Wednesday mornings, I volunteer in my son's kindergarten classroom to help with activities. They've been studying the five senses and this week's sense is taste. I was charged with conducting the scientific experiment in which the kinderlings taste different foods and record either a happy face if they liked the flavor or a frowny face (the anti-happy face) if they did not like the flavor.
They were tasting, in order, the following flavors: sour (gummy candy), salty (chips), bitter (baking chocolate), and sweet (Hershey Kisses). I knew the baking chocolate was very bitter (there's no sugar in it), so I gave the first group tiny chunks of it, smaller than a chocolate chip. They ate it and of course, all of them hated it and identified it on their score sheets with a “Mr. Yuck” poison symbol (you’ve probably seen this…it look like a frowny face, only more intense). One of them nearly threw up on me... I staved off his spasms by suggesting he go get a drink of water. But let me tell you I was really worried as I sat there in the floor with this 3-foot tall person on eye-level with me while he was making the puke-face at me.After that, the other groups all got very tiny shavings which was still more than enough to get the flavor. And I immediately sent them all to the water fountain to chase away the taste. By the time I finished with the last group of miniature thugs, I was actually enjoying the third step of the experiment, relishing their “Oh my god, that’s NASTY!” faces once the severity of the baking chocolate’s flavor hit. And that one little boy who always annoys me by being loud and not listening to my instructions…oh yeah, you bet yer sweet patootie he got a bigger piece than everyone else.
Playing on XM: Flying Burrito Brothers
Monday, September 26, 2005
Luckily there were donuts at work this morning to counteract the poison. Upon arriving at work, I dumped out half of it and refilled my cup with hot water. Now I have a cup of intensely strong, but drinkable coffee. This is why I don't drink coffee very often and when I do, I prefer to have it made by a professional.
Playing on XM: Hank Williams III
Saturday, September 24, 2005
That's all the geek speak for tonight. I was just itching for a reason to post today and GA rescued me with that wonderful quote. The day was spent on the homefront doing some fall cleaning. Good stuff. Dragged some major junk out of the basement for the dump, waxed a vehicle and played with the kids. Major project: cleaning out and organizing the linen closet.
I don't get Inuyasha. I just don't.
Playing on XM: Neil Young - "Love to Burn" Sweet.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Today marks the anniversary of Sigmund Freud's death. With his psychoanalytic theory of the mind, he single-handedly perpetrated the Victorian era image of women as the weaker sex. Ladies, please, keep that uterus on a leash!
And it's the modern disciples of Freudian theories that make people dependent on psycho-analysts for years at a time, rather than applying other forms of psychotherapy that are actually empirically valid AND short in duration, requiring only months rather than years, to complete.
On the upside, Freud contributed greatly to the understanding of the mind and what it means to be human. Luckily, he inspired many OTHER people to test his theories and ultimately come up with their own, many of which actually make sense in terms of human behavior.
Okay, I think my Ego has had its rant now. Time to tend to the needs of my Superego and get some work done. After all, it's Friday and my Id will be pretty thirsty by quitin' time.
Playing on XM: Rodney Crowell
Thursday, September 22, 2005
For example, when creating a cleric, I once turned to Sigmund Freud and his 'talking cure' to create that game's first psychotherapist. And he charged for his services too. I recently tried to revisit this idea, but the character quickly diverged from this root and took on a life of its own...and that's how it should be. It's good to have a template for your character's personality, but eventually the PC should grow into its own identity. Afterall, the life it experiences can't mirror the life that shaped the figure who first inspired you. But when it comes to getting started, it's nice to have a springboard to inject some life into the character.
Right now, I'd love to play (or see played) the ever-observant Sherlock Holmes as a rogue. Who better to solve the always-present mysterious plotline or navigate a trap-filled dungeon? A gentleman's rogue if ever there was one!
Some other ideas that came quickly to mind:
- Alexandre Dumas' D'Artagnan as an overzealous, young fighter (actually, all of the musketeers are great characters)
- A ranger, druid, or eco-friendly cleric who plants trees where ever he goes so people will remember his example
- Davey Crocket as a ranger or fighter with a penchant for exploring the wilds
- a gnome mage modeled after one of our country's most brilliant men, Benjamin Franklin
Edit: Something I forgot to say the first time through...this idea only really works if you do a little research on the historical/literary figure's personality and personal motivations. The whole point is that you know how the person would act in a given situation. But then, you probably already understood that that was my point.
Playing on XM: The Great Divide
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
I'm home from work today with a semi-sick kid. He was sick last night and fine this morning, but in years past, he had a habit of running out of steam an hour or so after going to school, which was signified by vomiting all over the teacher. Since we haven't even finished the first month of the school year, I thought I'd save his teacher from this side of his charming persona.
Monday, September 19, 2005
So yesterday, catching up on a few titles, he wanders over to the counter where I'm reading a comic of my own. His attempt at thought-provoking conversation goes something like this:
AC: "Man, comics these days. I don't think the industry can keep it up."
Me (not looking up from my comic): "Hmm?"
AC: "Well, like DC for example. They're trying to re-invent themselves again. And I don't think they can pull it off, do you?"
Me (really not wanting to get into this line of conversation with him because DC is currently doing some very compelling things and industry sales are climbing in part because of them): "Well, they're all always trying something new."
AC: "Yeah, I guess. So, what're you reading?"
Me (holding up the comic): "The new Allstar Batman & Robin."
AC: "Oh yeah. Jim Lee can draw some pretty good characters, but that Frank Miller just can't write worth a damn!"
And he was dead serious in his opinion.
At this point I just stared at him with the blankest of looks I could muster. What I really wanted to do was grab his shirt collar and drag him out into the street. His survival instincts must have kicked in at this point because he mumbled something about the time and soon left the store.
For those who don't know, Frank Miller is probably the most $ucce$$ful comic book writer of the modern day. And there's a reason for it. Two of them, actually. Creativity and Talent.
But everybody has an opinion.
Alfred, his steadfast butler, greets him with a cup of tea and says, "I assumed you would like to make some notes on the night's events, so I booted up your blog."
Batman growls back at him, "It's not a BLOG, Alfred. It's the Bat-log."
(for those who care, the story was one of many gems tucked away in a hefty volume called Bizarro World, which features stories of DC Comics' characters created by artists and writers of alternative and underground comics.)
Sunday, September 04, 2005
I recently became a die-hard fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! FX started re-running the show from Season 1. Charles, my neighbor, was recording them & offered to let me watch them. Being bored that night, I begrudgingly accepted. Four episodes later, I was hooked.
My first impression whilst watching the first episode was, 'This is sort of an occult power rangers!' Here's why:
- Set in small, suburban Californy town,
- Group of teens repeatedly saving the world,
- General population if oblivious to the goings-on,
- Fresh, teen-centric dialogue,
- Kick ASS theme music!
Make fun of me if you will. My motto is now: WWBD? (What would Buffy do?)
After writing that, I heard the phrase a week or two later as I edged my way into Season 2. Huh. I think they tried to use it as a marketing slogan that didn't really take off. Well, I'm still a big Buffy fanboy. Mostly for the characters and dialogue, but I still crank the theme music when I watch an episode.
Oh, how marvelous it was for Buffy to be a new experience, fresh and unknown. As a TRUE fan of all things horror, I avoided what I was sure must be a trite, niche-targeted, empty TV show. Boy, did have no clue! I don't need to talk about how COMPLETELY wrong I was in my ignorant assumptions.
This post also reveals one of my dark secrets: I love the Power Rangers. Well, the original show that is. I've tried to watch several of the modern incarnations, but none of them have the appeal and character as the original cast, crew, and what served for storylines. And yes, this is coming from the same person who avoided Buffy for so long because I doubted that it had 'soul' or value. Hey, at least I'm willing to admit my quirks.
Buffy may be the loftier, more 'literary' of the two programs, but the original Power Rangers still gets the award for having the best theme music EVER.
You doubt my word?