Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Merrily We Blog Along

Hello again. Sorry for the delay. Usually I write my blog on my palm when I'm on the subway, but lately I've been working on my book (11k words down- about 39 pages- only 101k to go.) I seem to be pouring all my brain drippings into it, so there's nothing really overflowing at the moment. I'll try to do my best:

My wife lovingly informed me that she doesn't want to hear my advice, (I'm very, very good at telling other people how to be happy,) because I make the solutions to life's problems seem so simple, when they're not. The trouble is that the solutions are always simple; it's just us people that get in the way. For example: I'm overweight. The solution- eat the right things and exercise. Do I do it? No. The solution is simple- the problem is me. None of us really want to know what to do, what we want is the strength and/or ambition to do what we already know we should.

I'm still on a Vonnegut kick. His novels are pretty short and easy to read, so I go through them like water. I'm reading Bluebeard right now. One of his reoccurring themes that has been an epiphany to me is that the reason Americans are so sad is because we're lonely. We don't have the huge extended families we once had anymore. We don't have a well of friends, brothers, and cousins nearby to be with. Vonnegut's often stated that the problem with marriages today is that we're all so isolated. When a couple with large families in the same town got married, the man got a bunch of new buddies from his wife's family, & the woman got a bunch of girls to gossip with from his. These days, a lot of isolated couples only have each other. Maybe that's why so many people get in trouble from their friendships they make in chat rooms. They're just lonely.

Did I ever mention I met my wife in an AOL chat room?

In his novel Slapstick, Vonnegut tries to solve the loneliness problem on a national level: the president of the United States issues new middle names to everyone in the country. Everyone sharing your middle name is to be considered a member of your extended family. This works, until the population is decimated by ingesting microscopic Chinese people.

Hey, if you're going to read something, make it interesting.


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

It's Crowded in Here

Illustration Friday! is upon us once again. The magic word of the day is CROWDED. I don't think this needs any explanation. I was going to make the envelopes seething with bugs and viruses, but I'm just lazy.

Keep the faith, my friends.


Monday, March 21, 2005

Bloom Bloom Bloom, Let's Go Back to My Room…

Yes! Once again, it's Illustration Friday!

Bloomin' 'ell!

I freely admit I had to stretch for this one. Enjoy (I hope.)

Live long and perspire, folks!


Sunday, March 20, 2005

Oh yeah, I Forgot I had a Blog

Hey there, hi there, ho there. Sorry it's been so long. The last two weeks have been full of burning hot owie pain. On top of bouncing my paychecks, it turned out "Penguin" Electric wasn't paying my benefits package (medical, 401k, vacation fund, b-fund) either- so we lost our medical coverage. After almost two weeks of calling the Union every day (and Jennifer's calling the Dept. of Labor,) we finally have coverage again. Penguin Electric was bought out by "South Pole" Electric, who are back-paying our lost benefits. They're also covering payroll, which means I no longer have to wait a week to be sure my paycheck didn't bounce before I can pay bills. This is all a tremendous load off my mind, and I can go back to worrying about the other thousand things I usually worry about.

I took Joe to see Robots on Saturday. It's great! There's a lot that's above the kids' heads, (I'm probably the only person in the theater who got the slo-mo "Daisy-daisy" joke.) I'm glad Mel Brooks got such a great role.

I also saw the pilot of the new Dr. Who series that some nice guy at the CBC leaked onto the internet. Cute, but far too fast-paced and slick. They tried to cram way too much into one episode. I sighed and popped a good old 1970's Tom Baker (huzzah, huzzah) episode into the VHS player. You just can't go home again.

After taking Joe to the movies, he, Mandy & I went to the playground. They're both too cute for words. Joe played with his friends, while Mandy wandered from fence to fence whilst banging two sticks together. I be blessed.


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Illustration Friday… do you care what day it is?

Yes! Once again, it's Illustration Friday! This week's topic is Fragile. Yes, I know, everyone is doing a fragile psyche. That's because, let's admit it, we all have one. I'm sure that most people reading this are demented like me. Or, actually, you're demented in your own, sick way. Whatever it is, I salute you, you deranged monkey. You! Yes, YOU. I'm talking to YOU. I KNOW.

Anyway, do us all a favor, click here and read the crap I write. Tell all your friends to come and read it too. It will help sow the hypnotic seeds and I'll be one step closer to world domination. Thanks.


Monday, March 14, 2005

2nd, 3rd, & 4th Childhoods

Yet again, I'm having problems with Penguin Electric. It would take too long to detail here. Suffice to say, it hurts when I sit down.

Because of this, I woke up this morning severely depressed. As always, my angel was there for me. Jennifer, I love you.

I saw a friend on the bus. "Man, did you see the new Star Wars trailer?" he asked. "I embarrased the hell out of my kid by jumping up & throwing my fist in the air when we saw it with Robots."

"My favorite part is when the Emperor had his light saber hidden up his sleeve," I replied.

"Yeah!" he chimed in. "'Are you threatening me, Master Jedi?'" he growled, then flung his arm down with an onomatapedic "Woosh!"

Nothing brightens my day more than knowing I'm surrounded by other ten-year olds in their mid-thirties. Thank God I'm not alone.


Sunday, March 13, 2005

Actually Enjoying Myself

I've decided to try a new concept. I've taken to writing a novel, entirely from beginning to end. I'm not going to worry about plot arcs, outlines, character development, or anything like that until the first draft is done. I'm just going to enjoy myself and write whenever I can. I find myself wanting to do this all the time, which is a good thing. I started last night, and I've written about 3000 words so far (only 117k more to go!)

I'm writing it entirely on my palm, partially for the portability, (I can write on the subway- as I do with a few of these blogs,) but also for some darn reason, it just feels right. If only Graffiti 2 wasn't such a pain in the ass.

So far, the style is very Kurt Vonnegut/ Douglas Adams/ Terry Pratchett-ish. Again, I'm not really concerned. It is what it is. Kilgore Trout would be proud of me.


PS. Speaking of Kilgore Trout- While Kilgore Trout is a creation of Kurt Vonnegut, Venus on the Half Shell by Kilgore Trout was NOT written by Vonnegut. It was actually a bit of fan-fiction written by Phillip Jose Farmer. He wrote it with Vonnegut's permission, but after a while, Vonnegut tired of everyone automatically thinking it was his work. Venus has since been re-printed with Farmer as the credited author. Oh well, it's still pretty funny.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Star Wars- Episode III- Revenge of the Sith Trailer on the O.C.

Dear Fox TV, cc George Lucas-

"Sometime between 8 and 9 pm" does NOT mean 8:55, after the last commercial break. I mean, I wasn't naive enough to think you would show it before 8:30, but I figured you would pretend you had a tiny bit of class and show it in the 8:45 commercial break at the latest. BAD PRODUCERS! (smack) BAD!

Just one question, George, regarding the desecrations you did to the original trilogy when you put it on DVD: In the scene in The Empire Strikes Back where the Emperor talks to Darth Vader, you re-dubbed the dialogue so there was no doubt that Vader did NOT know he had a son until that moment ("HOW is that POSSIBLE?") Are you honestly telling me that the Empire had no spies in the Rebellion, who would pass on the following information: "Hey- the whiny bitch kid that blew up the Death Star- his name is Luke Skywalker! And what's more, he's the son of that whiny bitch Jedi Anakin Skywalker! Hey, whatever happened to that guy…"

Jesus H. Tap dancing Christ, I am such a geek.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Reading is Fun for Mentals.

I just finished Player Piano, by Kurt Vonnegut. It's interesting, though definitely not his best. Long on theme, short on plot & characters. It's a social sci-fi novel, sort of a hybrid between Fahrenheit 451, (that's the classic novel by Ray Bradbury, NOT the full-of-shit propaganda film Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore,) and the bleaker bits of Atlas Shrugged. A man vs. society conflict- a society where mechanizaton has made human beings worthless. A little hard to get into, but a decent read with some deep insights into humanity.

I've also recently re-read Alfred Bester's The Stars, My Destination (or Tiger Tiger, if you're in Europe. It's the "Philosopher's Stone" vs. "The Sorcerer's Stone" thing. Everyone knows we Americans won't buy anything with a title that takes intelligence to understand.) This is one of my favorites- sort of a Count of Monte Cristo in space. It's the tale of a dead-end lowlife who (through an obsession for revenge) unlocks the potential he's been wasting & transcends himself. A little thin in places, but peppered with Bester's imaginative ideas which are thought through to their full social consequences.

Anyway, I'm back to Vonnegut with Breakfast of Champions. Yummy.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Illustration Friday. It's Tuesday... it'll be Wednesday in Half an Hour.

Once again, it's time for Illustration Friday!

This week's topic is Ancient. (Click on the above thumbnail.) This took a little bit of doing. It took a while to decide what I wanted to do. I sketched a few old men, but they all looked like shriveled versions of me. I tried drawing a few old men/trees, but they looked too much like Treebeard. So I decided to play with 3dsMax again.

This went through many different versions before I chose the one you see now. The face was originally a smooth, glowing crystal, with translucently visible teeth and eyeballs. However, this really did not jive with the "ancient" theme. There's a mountain range in the background, but I decided I liked the fog so high that you can't see it- two hours work down the drain. You also can't see the nebula in the sky, but that's just a bitmap. After rendering, I adjusted the image's levels and added a diffuse glow with Photoshop.

I was planning to do it as a pulp magazine cover, (I love my little rocket ship!) but I didn't want to repeat my "Year of the Rooster" Movie Poster shtick. Still, I'm sure there's a story in it lurking in my subconscious. Like most things there, I'm sure it's sick and twisted. Just the way I like it.

I know you're bored to tears, you don't want to work on that spreadsheet or do your final term paper- you want to look at the internet! Don't just come for the pictures, click here and check out my line of BS too. It's more fun than a human should be allowed!


Sunday, March 06, 2005

Complain, Complain, Complain!

They found a lost portion of the Book of Revelations. (It had fallen behind some Cardinal's desk.) It translates as follows:

"And the death of the culture & arts of the world were marked by there only being two shows left on television, & their names were Law & Order, & CSI. And yea did it follow that the world spent its economy on Family Guy DVDs so they would have something good to watch. And yea, did the word fall into economic collapse, except for the DVD division of Fox Television…''

Why can't someone create a cybernetic implant that makes one deaf & blind to advertising? The building I'm working in has flat screens in the elevator, for Christ's sake. It's called The Captivate Network. Get it? Captivate- as in captive audience?

The worst offender is AMC Cinemas in the Bridgewater Mall in NJ. They run a video projector showing advertisements before the show, with the volume at a deafening level. You can't have a conversation, you can't think, you're a captive audience with no choice but to pay attention to the f**king commercials. And they actually complain when people buy the bootlegs off the street corner!

Someone is trying to pass a law in NY that says movie theaters must post the actual time the movie starts. Not when the commercial reel starts, not even when the previews start- but when the actual movie starts. Of course, the move chain owners are crying foul. It's not fair to take away their captive audience. I actually had a manager get angry at me once. I took my son to see a movie (The Incredibles, I think,) and Joe was upset that we were a minute late.

"Don't worry," I told him, "the movie doesn't actually start for fifteen minutes."

Would you believe that the manager who overheard this actually lectured me that I was not being fair? Apparantly movie theaters make zilch off the movies and the advertising, (like the outrageous cost of popcorn and soda,) is a way to make ends meet. I told him that I did not give a rodent's toushie, and if I wanted to watch television commercials I'd do it at home for free. If he wants money, he should get it from Tom Cruise, Nichole Kidman, or any of these other assholes that make enough per picture to feed a small nation for a year. Nyah.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Blogging from the Commute

So Happy It's Thursday! (It took me a long time to get that one.)

I hate Thursdays. Thursdays are the equivalent of when you've had a hell of a day at work, you look at the clock, & see that instead of being the end of the day, there's two hours to go.

I met Al Roker yesterday! His office is next to the one we're renovating. He walked in & looked around. "Good Lord," I said. "Are you the man himself?"

He looked down at himself. "I think so!" He replied, then grinned. We shook hands & talked for a bit. He seems like a nice guy. Not as hot as Lucy Noland, but what the hell.

I've decided that the secret of life is to find intrinsic joy in every moment. That way I'll always be happy.

I'll try it now. Gosh, this is a nice subway, with such nice garbage rolling around under my seat. Hello there, fellow New Yorkers! God bless us, every one!

Ooh, we're slowing down. We've stopped to let the local train pass! Well, that's nice- and it makes sense too! I mean, the E train is an express... and we've stoped to let the V train... which is a local... pass us... Wait a goddamn second! That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard! What kind of simians are the MTA using for-

Never mind, it's not working. I'll try again after my Starbucks.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Welcome to My Commute.

I've been waiting in the snow for a bus since time immemorial. I've said it before & I'll say it again: The NYC MTA is the most incompetent agency known to mankind.

The bus is here! I read the sticker that says that it's a felony to assault a bus driver (excuse me, "Operator") for the nth time, & I wonder for the nth time if it isn't a felony to assault anyone, weather they're an Operator or not.

(After transferring over to the subway.) An E-train finally came! I can't believe I found a seat, as the car next to this one was virtually empty. For those who don't ride the subway, this means that there's a homeless person in there who reeks so bad that no one in the car can breathe. My stomach twists as I'm reminded of how low a human being can go. It makes me wonder who, if anyone, is on the absolute upper end of the scale of humanity.

Where exactly do I fit on it?

I peruse The Daily News. The NY Post & Newsday are (respectively) Republican & Liberal propaganda rags, so I'm left with the more-or-less unbiased Daily News.

Dear Jack Mathews; I couldn't give a flying f**k about the Oscars. It was two days ago, for Christ's sake. I've been to my share of sci-fi conventions, so I understand the desire to live vicariously- but give it a rest already! I hope someone took pity on you & invited you to a party, because this meaningless event is all you've been gushing about for the past two weeks! Sheesh!

I'm running on caffeine right now. It seems no matter how I try, I can't get enough sleep or get my mojo working. (I can't think of that word without it being in Dr. Evil's voice. ''Mo-jo.") I loved the winter when I was a youngin. I would pretend I was a superhero who could withstand 0-degrees Kelvin. Now I hate the farging season. If I had the cash I'd pack the family in & move out to Monterrey. (I was stationed there a lifetime ago when I was in the Army.)

Everything changes & everything stays the same.

I must go now- another glamorous day in the Big Apple awaits. There are wires to splice, ballasts to ignite, BX to sling. Toodles.