Sunday, December 30, 2007

Soar Like an Eagle

Illustration Friday: Soar

Happy almost 2008! May your Baby New Year's diapers be free of poop!


Friday, December 21, 2007

New Horizons

Illustration Friday: New Horizons

This image is slightly different than the one I uploaded this morning- it suddenly hit me that the moon goes BETWEEN the clouds and the stars, not in front of both of them. DOH!


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Children's Acting Contracts in the Digital Age

Regular FOTs (Fan's Of Tony. Like it?) know that I have a son named Joe, and I put his accomplishments up here from time to time. Earlier this year, I posted a video of an elementary school dance festival where he & his classmates performed "Cotton Eyed Joe." Sad to say, this is the most popular thing I have on my YouTube account, but at 19,000+ hits (so far) it really makes him feel famous - and not in a "Star Wars Kid" way.

A guidance counselor from his school called this morning. She said a teacher found the video when Googling the school's name, and that she was concerned because a) someone could know our son's personal information from it, and b) the other parents have no idea that their children have been on YouTube. She said that they couldn't ask me to take it off, but they had concerns.

I removed all references to the school's name on my blog, Joe's blog, and the YouTube account. I told the guidance counselor that I had no idea how long it would take for the search tag to get out of Google's system. She seemed kind of half-happy with that solution (I'm pretty sure she wanted it taken off,) and again told me her worries about Joe's personal information (his name?) being on the internet. I thanked her and hung up.

Now, I am sure that this call was made out of genuine concern for my son and his classmates - though of course there's a bit of CYOA on the school's part involved. So here's a question. If you were a parent and you found out your kids were on YouTube from a school play without your permission or knowledge, would you be angry or would you shrug it off? If any parent contacted me and said they wanted it off, I'd do it. It just seems a very common thing on YouTube- people putting up their kids' school recitals, dances, plays, etc.

Anyone want a FOT t-shirt?


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Analyze Tony Yet Again

I dreamed I was walking down a dark cobblestone street in the middle of the night. I was drawn to a rock sitting on top of a wall. I took it down and breathed on it. It glowed, and then grew features. I thought of how Jen liked cats and I stroked it. It began to grow hair, turning into a small kitten. It kept growing, eventually turning into a sort of golden cat-woman, but with a long black horn-billed beak for a mouth. She stood up, and wanted to go walking with me.

Any ideas?


Monday, December 17, 2007

Happy Birthday Jen!

Today is Jennifer's - my funny little honey's - birthday. Thank you for being so special & always being there.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

More Proof New York City is Going To Hell in a Handbasket

You often hear people deriding President Bush's No Child Left Behind program, and standardized testing. No, I'm not a teacher, and I understand their complaints that they are now only teaching for the test. However, when some schools are pumping out illiterate, futureless kids year after year, something needs to be done. Yes, being left back hurts a kid's self esteem, but how does it help his self esteem when he's in the eighth grade and unable to read at the fourth grade level? No Child Left Behind might have its major faults, (for example- the idiotic way that schools who don't need money receive more than schools who do,) but I don't see anyone else coming with an alternative.

Well, there's one school right here in New York City that is quite happy to put their kids on the fast track to working at McDonalds. Wanting his teachers to dumb down their standards, Central Park East High School's principal Bennett Lieberman passed this memo out last month:

"If you are not passing more than 65 percent of your students in a class, then you are not designing your expectations to meet their abilities, and you are setting your students up for failure, which, in turn, limits your success as a professional."

Another quote:

"Most of our students come from the lowest third percentile in academic achievement, have difficult home lives, and struggle with life in general. They DO NOT have a similar upbringing nor a similar school experience to our experiences growing up."

How do assholes like this even get to be a principal? Don't they have some sort of psychological screening to weed out the nutjobs?

I would love to see some teachers' thoughts on this. (If you're not a teacher, feel free to chime in as well.)


Friday, December 14, 2007

"Wah, They're Not Using My Browser!"

For those who don't know, the makers of the browser Opera are suing Microsoft, saying that it is not fair that Microsoft includes its own Explorer browser with its Windows operating system. (I don't get it. I want Windows to come bundled with more programs, not less. Also, I cannot conceive how one company can dictate what another company may or may not include with its own software.) What I really do not understand is what difference it makes. Does Opera, Netscape (are they even still around?) or Mozilla make any cash at all from people using their free browsers? Are there some sort of advertising kickbacks I'm unaware of?


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lucid Dreaming 101: Distractions

As I've mentioned on here before, from time to time, (average about once a month,) I have a night when I have lucid dream after lucid dream. The rest of the time, try as I might, it just doesn't happen. Go figure. Maybe the moon has to be in the right position for it's gravity to pull in just the right direction on my brain. Yummy.

I've also mentioned that my preferred method of travel is by doorway. I usually say, "I want to go here or there," a door appears and... well, sometimes I get to where I want to go. More often than not, however, I wind up sidetracked. (People have mentioned to me before that I should just demand to be taken where I want to be, but that doesn't work for me as well. Maybe my willpower just isn't strong enough.) The main thing that sidetracks me is other people. No matter where I go in my lucid dreams, there are always three or four people wanting my attention. I wonder if this is just me, or if there is something to the gestalt mind theory, and because I live in an apartment building, my dreams overlap with other peoples'. Food for thought.

In one lucid dream, I entered a room where Doctor Whos 2, 3, & 4, (Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, & the greatest of them all, Tom Baker,) were waiting for me! My initial annoyance at being sidetracked from my purpose was quickly replaced with delight. "Oh, we get together from time to time," Jon Pertwee said with a slight smile. (Jon Pertwee & Patrick Troughton are sadly dead, while the incomparable Tom Baker is very much alive.) Immediately, Tom Baker jumped up & insisted I see his new stereo. He led me to another room, where a few more people were admiring his impressive setup. Patrick Troughton grabbed my arm. "Don't you understand?" he said, looking into my eyes. "They're trying to distract you- trying to keep you from doing what you have to do- trying to fill your mind with gibberish!"

It was a moment of clarity, one I reflected on when I awoke. I was rather annoyed that that was my final lucid dream of the night, because I wanted to make sure I was focused when the next one happened. (I also want to try to stop relying on doors- and do I have to go to a certain location to do what I want to do anyway?) But upon reflection, I realized that my subconscious was trying to get a message across to me: My life is filled with distractions. My apartment is cluttered with shit I don't need (Please see George Carlin's classic routine on "Stuff.") My mind is also so crammed with useless shit, I'm overflowing. I can't let a few minutes go by without playing some sort of internet game or watching TV online. (I'm addicted to Tower Defense games,) solitaire, Sudoku, Escape the Room games... the list goes on and on. I'm constantly checking news feeds, blogs, Adult Swim cartoons, I-am-bored... My life and mind are cluttered beyond belief.

There's a Zen story that goes something like this. A guy goes to the Zen master to seek wisdom. The Zen master offers him a cup of tea. He fills the guy's cup with tea, and then some. He just keeps pouring, ignoring the fact that the tea is pouring out of the cup, onto the table, onto the floor, and then finally onto the seeker himself. "Stop it!" the poor tea-soaked guy finally shouts. The Zen master looks up and says, "You are this cup. How can I fill you if you are already overflowing?"

(That's the way we electricians do it.)

I'm trying to rectify this. I'm trying to do what I have to do on the computer with only instrumental jazz in the background. I'm trying to keep away from games, from feeds, from digg this or thats... let's see how it goes. In the meantime, I'm happy you came here to be distracted.


Monday, December 10, 2007

"I Believe in Little Things..."

Illustration Friday: Little Things

According to the article Creationism in the Classroom in Wired Magazine, the battle of religion vs. science continues. The Discovery Institute is continuing its medieval quest to push evolution out of the science classes and wedge religion in in the form of Intelligent Design. Now, if there was a science teacher who was being censored for saying that he felt God created the world, then I would support his right to say so. If these Bible-Belt states wanted to include a religion class elective for students in public schools, that would be fine with me as well. Instead, creationists are trying to use religion to disprove science. Science is what can be proven, a way of understanding the universe and how it works. Religion is God created in Man's own image. Faith in God can coexist with science, religion cannot. God gave you a brain to use, not to ignore the evidence around you because those with religious authority tell you to.

What really cracks me up about the whole evolution vs. creationism war is that the theory of evolution has absolutely nothing to do with whether God created the world, or the existence of God! It has to do with how life adapts. God- if you choose to believe in Him, Her, or It- could have very well created evolution. The two concepts are not in any conceivable way at odds. The problem is that the theory of evolution debunks myths- specifically that the world was created in six days only 6000 years ago, and that every creature was created exactly as they are today- that were written thousands of years ago by goat herders who believed the Earth was flat, at the center of the universe, and surrounded by a great ball of water until Noah's flood. (I don't mean to "diss" the Bible here, just the idea that the book of Genesis is historically and scientifically accurate.) For that matter, I deplore the whole Adam and Eve story for the same reason Ayn Rand did: it says that seeking knowledge is the original "sin," rather than a triumph, and that the world is an evil place because the first humans didn't do what they were told. If that's not a story meant to control people, I don't know what is.

"But, evolution is just a theory," is the usual straw-grasping of the creationists. This too, cracks me up. A scientific theory is a hypothesis which has been proven through testing. Here is a Muppet News Flash: Gravity, electromagnetism, & quantum physics are all scientific theories as well. Intelligent Design is NOT a scientific theory, as there are no tests which can prove it. Therefore, it does not belong in a science class. If you want proof that evolution is real, look at the world around you, and how nature is adapting to all the chemicals we've pumped into it, how viruses are adapting to immunizations, etc, etc, etc. Also, please don't tell me that you "didn't evolve from a monkey." No one ever said you did- otherwise there wouldn't be any monkeys around, would there? Rather, evolution suggests that we and apes evolved from a common ancestor. (And, as the great late Robert Anton Wilson suggested in his Schroedinger's Cat Trilogy, the reason why humans portray so many primate behaviors.)

Why, in the 21st century, is this dark-ages movement even possible? The nearest thing I can figure is what I call Tony's Political Pendulum Theory. (That's not a scientific theory, mind you!) It works like this. In the 1980s, the country's political compass pointed slightly to the right of center. In the 1990s, the compass was swung as far as possible to the left, as quickly as possible. The people on the right found themselves marginalized, mocked, and bitter. In the 00s, (what do you call this decade?) those in power used the political climate after 9/11 to push the compass as far to the right as possible, again, as quickly as possible. Yep- it's all about revenge. This is why I think the best thing for the country is for someone who has had NOTHING to do with politics for the last thirty (or at least twenty) yeas to be elected.

I'll just settle for anyone but Hillary.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Epiphany #9

I was feeling unlucky after losing a few games of Spider Solitaire when it hit me: The purpose of solitaire is not to win or lose, it is to make a pattern out of chaos.



Friday, December 07, 2007

Lemurs & Tigers & Armored Bears, Oh My!

Jen & I saw The Golden Compass this morning. I'm not going to get too much into it. We had a lot of fun, but it was very rushed. There was a lot of explaining going on. ("This is a truth-telling machine. It kind of looks like a compass. Now, it's never actually called a compass in the book, because the original name of the book in Britain is Northern Lights. But as everyone knows, Americans need a snappy title to buy a book. So American publishers, not even reading the book, saw what looked like a compass on the cover, and decreed that the American publication would be called The Golden Compass. But since Hollywood made a movie of it, we have to explain a few times that the truth-telling alethiometer kind of looks like a compass, and that's why we're calling this movie The Golden Compass. Got it?") Blech. The editing is a bit choppy, and the music is nothing memorable. (Cue up the fighting music! Now... cue up the scary music! Now... cue up the sappy music!) But that's all just nitpicking.

I didn't feel that the novel's more controversial elements had been watered down too much, (I think everyone knows by email or by news column that the evil Magisterium of the novels represents religion, and "The Authority" is, (not really, if you've actually read the books,) God. What pissed me off is that for some bizarre reason, the film cuts off the whole climax of the novel. Imagine Star Wars ending with the X-wings flying off to attack the Death Star. Cue voice over from Mark Hamil: "Well, we were going now, we had what we needed, and we- me, Biggs, Porkins, and R2, we were going to go with the spirit of Obi Wan, and we were going to bring that Death Star down!" -Cue sappy music, cue credits. The only thing I can figure is that- as with all Hollywood adaptations- the film was written with for the purpose of luring in as many new fans as possible at the expense of existing fans, so by leaving off the "dark" ending of the novel, they changed it into a hopeful one. Again, Blech.

(An almost completely unrelated note: every message board on line is claiming that the ending of the upcoming Watchmen movie will be changed from that of the original graphic novel. If this is true, I will hunt down everyone involved with the film and personally feed them their own spleens. Try me.)

But apart from all these, things, the movie was all in all a bit of fun. I had a good giggle over the fact that Nicole Kidman is starting to show her age. And OMG- it's Clare Higgins- the hammer-wielding, skin-stealing, undead-loving, sexy, sinister, singles-bar-hopping stepmom from Hellraiser & Hellbound! (wow, she got old too!) So, have fun, go and see it, then read the books and see what you missed. Just don't let anyone grab your dæmon.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Metaphysics 101: Does My Higher Self Get High?

My last post about simulism prompted some interesting responses, both here and in my email box. A friend suggested that I "get in touch with my higher self." The theory works like this: we are all projections into this reality, extensions of higher selves, which live in a higher dimension or reality. (If you want to combine this theory with simulism, perhaps our higher selves are the players in the gOd simulation, and we are the online characters.) When we are lost or hurting, or our lives are going wrong, it's because we are out of tune with our higher selves. To use a common phrase, we should, "Let go and let God."

I lay awake last night thinking about this. There have been times in my life where everything has gone my way, and there are times, when, in the words of the late great Jim Croce, "I keep a waitin' for my ship to come in/ And all that ever comes is the tide." The times when everything has gone my way, everything in me was of one mind & purpose. The times it hasn't, everything in me was working against me. Here's an example: those who know me in real life know I've always had a weight problem. There have been times when it's been very easy for me to get back in shape, there are times when nothing I do will work, or when I simply don't care at all. The same goes for writing. There have been days when I've spent every free second writing, there are days when there is nothing in the world that will get me to put anything down. At these times, there is a tiny portion of me that cares (call it consciousness, superego, or whatever,) and the majority of me just doesn't care anymore. (subconsciousness, id, entropy) Now- as that part of me is stronger than the rest of me, and as nothing I can do will overcome it, does that make this part of me the "higher self"? To quote Bill Cosby- when told that cocaine enhances the personality- "Yes, but what if you are an asshole?"

So, if this I can follow this line of reasoning, then- the times that I'm hurting- it means that my higher self is hurting. And if that's true, there's nothing I can do about it, because it's like a toenail trying to cure the foot of a spurred heel. But then, that means that when my higher self hurts, that its higher self must be hurting, and so on and so forth, all the way back up to "The Source," "God," "gOd," "The Flying Spaghetti Monster," or "Bob," (If you're old enough to remember the Church of the SubGenius.) Considering the state of the world today, there's a lot of angels in heaven who need therapy. And I have to stop eating Chinese food before going to bed.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Paranoid Thought Experiment #3058: is God a computer?

Thought Experiment (noun): What unemployed insomniacs come up with when they lie awake in bed after eating too much Mei Fun with boneless pork spare ribs & extra duck sauce, & should not be taken seriously by anyone.

Nick Bostrom of the Department of Philosophy, Oxford University published a paper in Philosophical Quarterly in 2003 (read it here) postulating that life as we know it may well be a computer simulation. (This line of thinking is referred to as Simulism.) In August 2007, John Tierney wrote an article in the New York Times about it, Our Lives, Controled from Some Guy's Couch. Tierney goes on to suggest that if we are living in a simulation, the world may end if we ever come up with a computer as powerful as the one supposedly running the universe now. (I'm going to call it "gOd" for the rest of this thought experiment.) Creating such a computer would put exponential strain on gOd's processor to the point that it would crash, causing the end of the universe.

Perhaps this is what The Forbidden Tree of Knowledge stands for in the book of Genesis.

Now, this is nothing new. There was a whole crappy movie series (with admittedly cool special effects) about life being a computer simulation called The Matrix (which was itself a rip off of the 1976 Dr. Who episode, The Deadly Assassin. Nyah.) But lets look at some possibilities here. Keep something in mind- we don't actually experience the world; we experience a model that our minds make of the world from our senses. All gOd would need to do to run our simulation is to provide our brains with the sensory data when needed. Lets take this one step further. To sum up the whole Schroedinger's cat shtick in a nutshell, things only exist as probabilities & possibilities until you observe them. Therefore, gOd wouldn't need to simulate every atom or even every cell in your home. They would only need to be simulated when looked at through a microscope. Heck, it wouldn't even need to simulate the dusty Atari 2600 in the back of your closet except for the times you opened the door and saw it. As far as cellular activity that was going on unobserved (let's say cancer,) - that's something gOd could calculate on a probability basis. This all may also be the reason that scientists have not yet come up with a "Theory of Everything."(If you don't know, the Newtonian laws of physics don't apply at the subatomic (quantum) level, which really drives physicists apeshit. They've been trying for the last century to come up with some sort of theory that holds everything together, so far with no success.) Quantum particles jump from one electron shell to another instantaneously, their distance apart possibly marking the limit of gOd's processor's ability to divide.

Ok, lets get out of the very tiny and into the very large: Space, the final frontier. Well, if gOd is running the universe, it would be! Ask someone if they beleive there is life on other planets, and they'll probably say that as there are- according to the ESA- about 1 x 10^23 (thats 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) stars in the known universe, (space is infinite, after all... isn't it?) it would be pretty darn silly for only one of them to have intelligent life on it. But isn't it rather convenient that planet Earth is so isolated from the rest of creation? Why is ours the only planet in our solar system capable of supporting Life As We Know It? Why do our bodies have such physiological needs that is it logistically impossible to send a manned mission to the even nearest planet, Mars? (I could get into it, but there's an article that explains it all here. To make a long story short, a two year round trip, 3 million pounds of supplies, atrophying muscles & brittle skeletons. I'd love to see my geeky sci-fi dreams come true, but it just ain't happening.) Why does E=mc^2 make the speed of light an impossible velocity to achieve, keeping humans and the residents of other solar systems apart forever? Could it be so that gOd does not have to waste processor power & memory on a detailed simulation of other planets and civilizations? Hmmm...

OK, enough of the paranoid science stuff. Let's get into the paranoid paranormal. There are schools of religion & philosophy that believe that we are all one with the universe, & that with meditation we can get closer and closer to the "source." What if prayer/affirmations is the ability (or attempt) to influence gOd's programming through the subconscious? What if it was possible to actually re-write your own history, or at least your current "character stats"? Would you get away with it, or would there be some sort of "reality police" that would discourage & even eliminate (say with freak accidents, acts of nature, or even reprogramming the offender's mind with thoughts of suicide) such deliberate reality reprogrammers? Are those who are "lucky" people with more natural control over gOd than others?

What happens when gOd crashes? Or when the mother of the geek playing Sid Meyer's gOd tells him to shut it off, it's time for dinner?

I'm off to bed. Feel free to add your own ramblings, paranoid or otherwise.


Sunday, December 02, 2007


"I used to think the brain was the most interesting part of the body... Then I realized, well, look what's telling me that!" -Emo Philips

EMO IS FINALLY DOING A SHOW IN NYC! (Check another one off my "things to do before I die" list!)

Joe & I saw Beowulf in IMAX 3D yesterday. It was a lot of fun- I enjoy watching monsters rip people in half and the blood splattering out at my polarized glasses. A rather boring epic poem I had to read in 11th grade English, Beowulf obviously required a bit of rewriting to make it to the big screen. For example, Grendel's mother (a CGI Angelina Jolie) is now a seductress, luring in both the king (Grendel's father) and Beowulf. The ending was changed... the list goes on and on. And was the addition of Christian-bashing really necessary? Of course it was- this is Hollywood we're talking about.

Other notes:
1) I really don't remember Beowulf being naked when he fought Grendel in the poem. It was actually kind of funny, the way they "Austin Powered" out his genitalia with various silhouettes, props, strategically placed helmets, etc. Maybe this was the effect they were going for, I don't know. I just kind of thought the filmmakers were wandering from their target audience on that one.

2) Kudos for sloppy breasts! Whenever you see CGI breasts, they're always silicone-firm. I was impressed at the jiggliness of the peasant's breasts as she scrubbed the blood out of the tables. (Of course, Angelina Jolie's CGI mud-covered ones were rock hard. And mud-covered. But then again, if I wanted to see her real ones naked, I could find them on the internet in a second.)

3) Why didn't they just use real actors in a CGI enviornment instead of spending millions of dollars trying to motion capture and animate them? As an animator, I was quite impressed by the life-like textures (and facial hair) on the characters, but they still looked like puppets when they talked. Very Shrek-ish. Weird.

All in all, it was a lot of fun. (And a million times better than Chris Lambert's 1999 version.) If you're a High School student, however, just make sure you don't see the movie instead of reading the poem, or your teacher will probably have a lot of laughs at your expense.


Friday, November 30, 2007

In Excessive Day-O

Illustration Friday: Excess

The excess of political correctness in this country has reached vomit-inducing levels.

The word of the week is, "Excess." I had no idea what I'd draw, until I saw a news item this morning that some malls here in America were taking a lesson from Australia & banning their Santas from saying "Ho ho ho." (Instead they want him to softly say, "Ha ha ha.") Apparently, some women who make a living having sex for money were offended that Santa was using their trademarked catchphrase. Also, Santas are being asked to slim down, as they're being bad role models for young chubbies. I had no idea I could blame my fatness on Santa. Here I thought it was from seeing Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi when I was in 4th grade! (What's next- they're going to have to dub over DVDs of him saying, "Ho ho ho," too?) And of course, "Merry Christmas" is an entirely naughty thing for Santa to say. Only the term "Happy holidays" is allowed. Give me a fucking break!

The funny thing about all this is that Santa became the politically correct alternative for those jackasses who just couldn't accept that Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birth- and now he's getting the PC makeover himself. Joe's entire 5th grade glee club repertoire for their "Holiday Concert" consists of songs about Penguins. They're not even from the right goddamn pole! When Joe asked what was up, his teacher told him "It's against the law to sing about Christmas in school." I know all this is nothing new, but what kind of useless jerkoff gets offended if you say "Merry Christmas?" I converted years ago from Catholicism to Pastafarianism, and even I will never understand. Wish me a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, or even a Krazy Kwanzaa if you wish. I'll still smile and say thank you.

(May He extend His noodley appendage unto you,)

Monday, November 26, 2007

7 Simple Facts of Highly Boring People

As I said earlier, the lovely French Toast Girl (aka Elena) tagged me, so here are seven things I don't believe I've made public yet.

1) Aravis asks, "What (to you) is the most interesting thing about yourself which you think will be boring (to us)?"

Hmm... I suppose the fact that, when I can't sleep at night, I read Chick Tracts online on my Pocket PC & laugh myself into slumber. (In case you're confused, my philosophy on Chick Tracts- and religion in general for that matter- was best summed up by Jim Huger here.)

2) Anonymous asks, "What is your favourite spot to not think? (I know you never 'not think' but there must be a place or envirnoment you try - apart from sleeping in bed)"

On the subway. I can zone out & clear my mind in about a minute flat, if I can find a seat.

3) Craig J. Quack asks, "If you could snap your fingers (or wiggle your nose or wave your wand [although that could get you arrested if you did it in public]) and one of your long-gestating projects would be finished and exactly the way you always imagined it, which one would you want it be?"

I suppose a very depressing sci-fi book I've temporarily titled "N." I have a begining, a middle, and and end in three different files, none of which quite link up. I have to take the time to write a coherent outline that works out the best of them all, and make it work. The best thing about re-reading it is a) I can see how bad some of it is (which means I've improved,) b) I can clearly tell whose work I was reading at the various times I worked on it & how it influenced the styles, and c) that it all is quite salvageable, if I'd just get down to it!

Now I have to think of things on my own:

4) I have a photographic memory that only remembers useless facts. For example, Jen was wearing a light blue cotton blouse on our first date.

5) I used to have very concrete thoughts and beliefs about the world and myself. Somewhere in the last ten years, all of that was turned on its head. Now, all I can honestly say, in the words of Socrates, is that "All I know is I know nothing."

6) I know all the words to the five longest songs in existence: "Alice's Restaurant,""American Pie," "Taxi," "We Will All Go Together When We Go," and "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota." (I would have included "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," but most of that is instrumental.)

7) I completed the entire game of Riven without having to look up a single hint! (Sorry, I couldn't think of anything else.)

If there's anything else you're dying to know, please feel free to comment!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

"Going to the zoo, zoo, zoo, Going to the zoo, zoo zoo..."

Illustration Friday: Zoo

I can't decide if I'm looking in at it, or if it's looking in at me.

For those who don't know, I'm out of work for a few weeks. I have back problems (3 herniated discs) that have been acting up, & I'm taking my furlough time now to rest up & take it easy. Went to NJ on Thursday, saw my parents & my sisters, got to watch my sister Mary get proposed to by her boyfriend Jeff, (isn't that cute?) All in all, life is good.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Want to have all the fun of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade without actually having to GO to the parade? Go watch the balloons get blown up the night before!


The world is mine! The world is mine!

Happy Turkey Day, y'all!


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Once Again, I am It!

...and I don't mean the giant brain from A Wrinkle in Time! The beautiful & multitalented French Toast Girl (aka my sister Elena) has been kind enough to tag me. I'm supposed to write 7 interesting things about me. The thing is, what's interesting to me is boring to other people, and vice versa. So, as the last time I was tagged, I'm asking you out there to put questions to me. What do you want to know? I promise to tell you something interesting in return.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me...

Here I am, at the ripe old age of 35. (Scroll down to see the awesome Dalek cake my mommy made for me!) Where did the time go? To quote Pink Floyd, "And then one day you find/ 10 years have got behind you..." Is it time for a change? It's certainly time to finish one of my goddamn books, already. The thing is, I can't decide if I want to shave my beard off or not. Some days I say I'm tired of it, some day I say, "The beard is me." (If you're a Kids in the Hall fan, you know the power of beards.) What significance it has, I know not. I figure I'm half done with life, baring some accident, or cool cyborg advancement. They say in a few decades we'll be able to store our brains on a computer, but what good would that do me? I'd still be dead, there'd just be some backup of me, left to annoy my children and the future generations.

So what have I learned so far? You can't make someone love you, they do or they don't. You can't change anyone. Always be honest with yourself. Self esteem, by definition, can't come from anywhere except yourself. If you want to love yourself, do things you think deserve love. All organizations, be they political, religious, or union, exist primarily for the sake of the organization. There will always be schmucks who want to make themselves feel better by putting you down- don't let them get to you. Think whatever you want to think, feel whatever you want to feel- it's actions that count. Give your kids a break- when you get annoyed, you're probably worried more about them embarrassing you than weather they actually did something wrong. Don't believe that people never change- people change all the time. Clear you mind every now and then, and then listen to the voices in your head. Write down your dreams as soon as you wake up. If you don't make it happen, it never will happen. Newton's first law applies to people as well as objects. Money talks, bullshit sadly can get pretty far. What you take for granted, someone else would probably die for. Whatever you're afraid of probably isn't that bad. Finally, in the words of the great late Frank Zappa, "You are what you is, and that's all it is."


Saturday, November 03, 2007

It's 1984 & Dog the Bounty Hunter is out of a job.

Back in 2003, when we reached "mission accomplished" status in the Iraq War after just a few months, a country group called The Dixie Chicks was boycotted. This was because they publicly dissed president Bush at a concert. Record sales dropped, and their songs were pulled from the radio. My sister Elena felt that their civil rights had been violated, but I didn't agree. They had made a public statement, and the public had responded. I said that I would agree if they had made the statements over the phone or at a party and were made to pay for it, because no one should have to worry about what they say or do in private. (As long as they're not breaking the law, etc. etc.)

Fast forward to 2007. For those of you who don't know, there's some show called Dog the Bounty Hunter. The star of the show apparently used the word "nigger" in a phone conversation with his son. His son recorded the conversation and leaked it on the internet. This has caused his show to be canceled. (Read the Reuters story here.)

(Disclaimer: Nigger is a bad word, no one should ever use it, or the phrase "Nappy haired ho," or anything derogatory, ever, under penalty of castration with a rusty potato peeler. This disclaimer hopefully keeps anyone from throwing an utter shit fit of me simply using words and missing the point of this article entirely.)

No, I'm not defending this person, or what he said, (though ironically, what he said in his tirade was that he didn't want his son's black girlfriend to ever overhear him say that word in his own home and ruin his life.) But doesn't it frighten anyone else is that a private phone conversation is being treated as if it were a public statement? I'm sure that everyone out there has at one or more times in their lives said or done something in private that would ruin their lives if exposed. Like Michael Richards and Don Imus before him, (who publicly made racist statements,) Duane "Dog" Chapman has been falling over himself to apologize. I would have said, "Fuck you, what I say in private is no one else's business," but that's just me.

Once again, before you flame, let me clarify my position. Saying racist things: Bad. Losing your job & being publicly vilified because of a private phone conversation: Very scary. I'll leave you with this passage from George Orwell's classic dystopian novel 1984 (Which, if you kids out there don't know, is where you get the term "Big Brother" from in regards to the government spying on you:)

'Are you guilty?' said Winston.

'Of course I'm guilty!' cried Parsons with a servile glance at the telescreen. 'You don't think the Party would arrest an innocent man, do you?' His frog-like face grew calmer, and even took on a slightly sanctimonious expression. 'Thoughtcrime is a dreadful thing, old man,' he said sententiously. 'It's insidious. It can get hold of you without your even knowing it. Do you know how it got hold of me? In my sleep! Yes, that's a fact. There I was, working away, trying to do my bit--never knew I had any bad stuff in my mind at all. And then I started talking in my sleep. Do you know what they heard me saying?'

He sank his voice, like someone who is obliged for medical reasons to utter an obscenity. '"Down with Big Brother!" Yes, I said that! Said it over and over again, it seems. Between you and me, old man, I'm glad they got me before it went any further. Do you know what I'm going to say to them when I go up before the tribunal? "Thank you," I'm going to say, "thank you for saving me before it was too late."'

'Who denounced you?' said Winston.

'It was my little daughter,' said Parsons with a sort of doleful pride.
'She listened at the keyhole. Heard what I was saying, and nipped off to the patrols the very next day. Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh? I don't bear her any grudge for it. In fact I'm proud of her. It shows I brought her up in the right spirit, anyway.'

Something to think about.


"My mama loves me, yes she loves me..."

She'd have to, to spend so much time making me this adorable Dalek cake! (My birthday's not 'till 11/8, but what the hell. We ate him anyway.)


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween 2007

Arrrrrr, I caught meself a Cheetah Girl, and no scurvy dog’s goin’ to take her from me!

(Don’t ask me what a Cheetah Girl is, I have no idea. Jen picked out the costumes. Seriously. If Mandy was going to be Cheetah Girl, then Joe should have been Tarzan.)

Completely unrelated thoughts of the day:

Do teenage girls really like to shop, or is that just a bandwagon stereotype created by advertiser-sponsored television to get them to go out and spend money?

Do Vorlons buy clothes for their kids at Osh Kosh B'Gosh? (For that matter, are there any other geeks out there who remember what Vorlons are?)


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

How Dumbedore's Gayness Affects My Life

It doesn't. Not one bit. Neither do Britney Spears' child custody battles, Ellen DeGeneres' purloined mutt, nor Halle Berry's Jewish cousin's nose. Rudy Giuliani, however, should be flayed alive and broiled in tofu for supporting the Red Sox. Keep your priorities straight, people.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Pocketwatches are Back! (Or hadn't you noticed?)

Think about it- in the 1800's, people pulled pocket watches out of their pockets, flipped them open, and saw what time it was. In WWI, the British Army came up with the brilliant idea of putting watches on the wrist, so soldiers could instantly tell the time. Now, almost a century later- do you ever see anyone wearing a watch anymore? No! We all pull our phones out of our pockets, and flip them open when we want to know what time it is! Full circle!

The moral of the story is, fashion + technology = ridiculousness.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Stuffed Animal Survivor

Illustration Friday: Grow

Stuffed Animal Survivor:
Since she was a few months old, my four-year-old daughter Amanda's favorite "woobie" has been a blue doll named Dolly, or occasionally Blue. We have a pink model of the same doll, but she never really caught on. Dolly is my mother-in-law's nemesis, as she (Dolly, not my MIL) is quite drool stained, despite the fact that she's been washed so many times her name may as well be Whitey- but I digress.

Anyhoo, Dolly is still Amanda's favorite when bedtime comes around, but recently she has been adding stuffed animals to her nighttime entourage. They are appropriately & respectively named Tiger and Bear. The other night, I checked in on Amanda at about 2am. She was lying silently awake. I tucked her in, (she has the habit of kicking her covers off,) and saw that Bear was sitting above the pillow, against the wall. I tucked him in with Amanda, but she took him and quickly put him back up against the wall. "Bear's out!" she said.

"Out?" I asked, holding Bear to her. Amanda grabbed him from my hand and threw him on the floor.

"Bear's out," she decreed, rolled over, and went to sleep. I can't help wondering what his offense was.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Don't you be tarot-fied, it's just a token of my extreme."

Illustration Friday: Extremes

Brownie points if you can tell me what song & artist the title of this post is quoted from. (I'm counting on you, MD & String!)


Friday, October 12, 2007

Movies I Should Be Excitied About, But I'm Not

1) Watchmen: For those who have never read the greatest comic miniseries ever penned, (you can buy it as a graphic novel,) Watchmen is the tale of middle aged ex-superheroes who were forced to retire by a politically correct government. So why have a bunch of twenty-somethings been cast in the leading roles? I'm sure the cold war theme (it was published in the 80s) will be changed. Yet another insightful, meaningful work of art will be "reimagined" by Hollywood and dumbed down to the level of those with the lowest IQs. As usual, author Alan Moore refuses to have anything to do with the project. Hmmm....

2) Atlas Shrugged: There are so many problems with this, I don't know where to begin. First of all, at 1100+ pages, the book really should have been adapted as a TV miniseries. Like most science fiction- sociological/philosophical or otherwise- the book is extremely dated by its technology; trains are essential to the plot, but they are no longer the lifeblood of the country. Hopefully, the film will be able to blend a futuristic vision with the era the book seems to be set in (the 1940s & 50s, I think.) As much of a hottie as she is, I'm not completely sold on Angelina Jolie as Dagny Taggert. I think Jennifer Connelly would have been a better choice, but that's just me.

3) Star Trek: A prequel to the classic 60's series, with "lookalikes" replacing the original cast. No, this is not a joke. All I have to say is... WHY? WHY? DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN, WHY??? CAN'T YOU SICK, TWISTED, CASH-COW MUTILATING BASTARDS LEAVE ANYTHING ALONE? MAY YOU ALL DIE AND YOUR ENTRAILS BE EATEN BY FIRE ANTS IN HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY!
(I think I was subtle on that one.)


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Illustration Friday: Open

Illustration Friday: Open

This is what you wind up drawing if you can't sleep at 2AM.


Happy Anniversary

Today is Jen & My 10th anniversary! (It is also my parents' 37th!)
For those of us old enough to remember...


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Back from the Shadows Again

I'm back, after a week in Phoenix visiting my sister Mary. It's good to be home with Jen & the kiddies, sleeping in my own bed again. I've got plenty of things to do around the apartment, including writing & animating. If I find the time, I'll try to think of a decent picture for this weeks Illustration Friday word, "Open." Sorry, but it's just not grabbing me.

What's been going on in the world? The Yankees threw away the playoffs again, (if the Indians can play with bugs crawling all over their bodies, then so can the Bombers!) Sadly, I think Joe Torre's going to get the ax. A shame, really, since he was such gold seven years ago. Some twenty-five year old who claims to be "spectacularly beautiful" is selling herself on Craig's list for a hubby who makes at least $500k a year. At least she's honest.

After the joygasm I got playing Bioshock, I'm a bit disappointed by the demo for Clive Barker's Jericho. First off, the graphics look beautiful, and I love the flies around the dead bodies. I've also been a fan of Clive Barker's since I saw the first Hellraiser in high school (and believe me, the first two films are the only ones worth seeing) and I own every book he's written. The disappointments came from two things - one, I wasn't able to bind the mouse buttons to controls, nor was I able to invert they y axis. But these are things that will probably be fixed in the final version. No, what pissed me off was the Dance Dance Revolution sequence I had to play to get down a ladder. Does EVERY game ported to the Playstation need to have an asinine "follow the arrows" sequence? I know they feel the need to shake it up a bit, but it IS an FPS.

In the wake of the Myst series, (or the classic days of Lucas Arts studios, when they made the best adventure games of all time instead of console base Star Wars games) I've been trying to play Scratches. I'm sorry, but there are far far far too many red herrings, far to many drawers to open with nothing inside, far too many pictures to examine without any clues in them. Also, the game is far too linear (I can't solve puzzles B-Z without first solving puzzle A.) Ah well, I should be spending my time writing anyway.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why (Some Days) My Job is More Fun Than Yours

"Mommy, who's that crazy man destroying the sidewalk?"

"I don't know, dear, but at least he's fashionable!"


Sunday, September 23, 2007

There's No One Like the Masters

Jen & I have tickets to see George Carlin in December, in Red Bank, NJ. Woo hoo! (Something else to cross off my "before I die" list. Now if only Emo Philips would put on a show in the NYC area...)


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

Awwwww of the Day

Awww, you dumped all your clothes out of the hamper, stripped your bed, and made yourself a little nest on the floor. Isn't that CUUUUUUTE?


Friday, September 14, 2007

In God We Trust...?

I'm sure many of you have received a forwarded email decrying that the new dollar coins omit the phrase "In God we trust," quickly followed by an email stating that no, the motto is still there, it's just around the edge of the coin. This of course, is followed by another email from the original sender, decrying that the religious motto has been demoted from the face of the coin to the edge, followed by an email from a less religious friend who asks, "What about the separation of church & state?" and so on and so forth. I'm not offended by the phrase, but I have to admit my curiosity is tickled- both by the motto's opponents and its defenders.

To my mind, people either believe in God or they don't. If you don't believe in God, then the phrase is meaningless. The only problem is that if you do believe in God, the phrase is also meaningless. The question is, what exactly are people trusting God to do? If God is, by definition, all powerful, then He's going to do whatever He pleases. So people are basically saying they're trusting God to... be God.

I, of course, prefer to take the third interpretation: It's the coins themselves that trust in God, and are declaring it for all the world to see. Good for them.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering 9/11

(Me back in September 2001, working on the roof of the Trinity building, restoring power at ground zero.)

As with previous years, the following is a letter I wrote to my friends & family in the days after 9/11. The letter is here in it's entirety, "warts and all." The only change I'd like to make is that while at the time we were told the death toll was 6000, we now know it to be about 2700.


I'm sorry that I've been distant lately. I'm sure you can all understand, some even more than me.

I've been scared. I don't like to be, much less admit it, but I've been scared. I was lucky and in Queens, not in Manhattan last Tuesday. No, I wouldn't have been THERE (Though at 2 am I remember that I was working on the roof of a building a block away a month before this happened.) When the towers went down, I walked to the LIE overpass behind the apartment house and stared at the smoke that was in the place of the towers on the Manhattan skyline. Even though I'm one East River away from the close-ups on TV, it was stomach twisting. I called my foreman that night, and he told me how they watched it happen from the windows, 30 blocks away, how 20-50 year-old tough-guy construction workers were shaking, some crying, because they thought it was WW3 and the beginning of The End.

On Thursday, back in Manhattan, I had to walk from 42nd and Lex to 23rd and 1st, because the #6 line was down. (They were afraid of subway vibrations bringing down more buildings) It's not really as long a walk as it sounds, but I passed the recovery HQ on 1st ave- Past all the TV vans, and past a block's worth of pictures taped to plywood sheets. As time has past, these hopeful "have you seen" pictures have become memorials, and they're everywhere. I can't talk on the phone without staring into photographs with tearful notes of hope underneath, knowing they were put there by loved ones who will never ever see them again. I call my wife, and my voice becomes a dull monotone. She asks why and I'm at a loss on how to explain.

One of my friends at work is 40 years old, and he's a kind, good man. Today he suddenly started cursing himself, muttering what a failure he is. When I asked him what was wrong, he admitted it was because he started smoking again after giving them up cold turkey for 10 years. He told me he feels worthless, because suddenly he can't live without them again. I tell him it's an understandable need, but I can tell that my words don't help. I realize the frustration goes deeper than a pack of Marbalo 100s

Again, I'm on a job 30 blocks away from "ground zero", and I can see out the window that what was once a symbol of achievement is still a smoldering hole in the ground. I know it's only been a week, but I wonder when the skyline won't have a haze that has nothing to do with pollution. I walk down the street and I see people that are scared and jittery, no matter what their profession or race. I buy a paper from an elderly Arabic man, who wears a "God Bless America" shirt every day, and shrinks down in his kiosk- which is draped in American flags- like a frightened rabbit every time I, or any other customer approach. I give the little smile I have, but I don't think it does any good. I wonder if he's so afraid, why he stays here, and I realize he probably has no one and no where else to go.

Our shop is working on restoring power to one of those buildings- the same one I was on the roof of not too long ago (The Trinity building, 111 Broadway for those of you with a love for geography)- and being a lowly apprentice I helped the truck driver deliver material yesterday. My drivers license was scrutinized by armed police and National Guardsmen, like I'm trying to get onto a military base, and they make me wait in the cab while they and the driver search the truck. The won't let the truck get closer than a few blocks away and we wind up rolling 3' diameter wooden reels of sj cord down the street. The smell twisted my stomach, when I realized that what I was smelling was death- the death of a great achievement, of that smug "nothing can ever happen to us" attitude we Americans had without giving it a second thought, and, most disturbingly of over 6000 bodies.

And there's this feeling that grips me, this feeling that there's nothing I could ever do to protect myself, my wife or my son (I know that's a MCP attitude, but I'm sure Jen feels the same way about Joey and me.) And I wonder every night if tomorrow some new insanity will strike. I jump every time a car backfires. I run 2 miles a night (yes, frightening but true. This started a while before all this happened and I'm down to a not-quite-slim-yet 225lbs, thank you very much) and every time a plane flies overhead I flinch. I watched President's Bush's speech on TV tonight, and every time the picture flickered a little (I don't have cable, so 2 is really the only reliable channel- the others are coming and going- for those of you not in NYC, the WTC had all the broadcast antennas for the area except channel 2, leaving those of us cable-less with only CBS ) I thought "oh shit, what's happening now?" Every time I hear a siren, I wonder what's happened. The QM4 bus got held up at the Midtown tunnel yesterday (connecting Queens to Manhattan) because there was an accident. Of course, everyone seeing a bunch of flashing lights and emergency vehicles as we approach a tunnel, we instantly look around like caged animals, wondering if stage 2 had begun.

I feel guilty. Part of me tells myself that I have no right to feel so hurt or so angry- my family and my friends are all safe, and I'm alive and healthy. I'm a civilian now, I don't have to worry like so many others do. Who am I to feel so much? There are some without homes, without jobs, without their wives/sons/husbands/dads/daughters/brothers/sisters/fiancées... oh, you get the picture. I feel like I'm just whining.

I can't help being angry. We have the freedom of religion, but we jump out of our skins if someone says a prayer before a graduation ceremony or a football game. We have the freedom to own firearms, but we curse any law abiding citizen who owns one, while passing more and more lenient laws against criminals who use them. We showed the world that our presidency is a joke, that we don't care about our own history, our pride. We have a popular culture that demands more and more freedoms, but damns those who give/gave their lives and personal freedoms to protect the ones we have. I watched the speech, saw Democrats and Republicans give up their petty bickering that's been tearing the country to pieces, for the first time since WW2. It gives me a boost of hope, and I pray the sentiment lasts longer than this week, and reaches further than military resolve- into fixing our school system, into caring more about our OWN country's welfare, into bringing back production into this country so people can have jobs and learn trades to feed their families. I hope our politicians will stop trying to convince group A that everyone in groups B, C, and Q hates them, just to get their block of votes, then running around like idiots and asking "why?" when that hate turns to violence. I hope we learn to accept and love each other because we're Americans, despite our preference/denomination/color/sex. God, two weeks ago, that statement would have sounded so corny, wouldn't it?

We're at war, but we don't really know against who. There's no clear enemy, no one knows who will attack or when. Will it be us or them? Will it be "Us" or some nut like McVeigh, thinking we'll blame foreign terrorists instead of domestic? I realize I live on an island, and the only way to the rest of the world is by crossing another island (either Staten Island or Manhattan) Am I going to worry over every bridge and tunnel I cross for the rest of my life? And if it's "them," what form will it take? Watching 6000 people die as the WTC go down in flames is one thing. Watching millions in a city die from Anthrax in our water supply is another.

I'm sorry if I see this as just an NYC thing. It's hard to grasp that this is affecting the whole country.

It's an uncertain time, it's become an uncertain world. I just want you all to be certain that I love every one of you.

Those of you who've been forwarding bits of editorials, news items, letters, etc. Thank you, but it's you who's opinion I'm interested in. Let me know what you're thinking & feeling, if you'd like- you're more important.

Love each other, stay safe, and live your lives, for yourself and for each other.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Illustration Friday: Momentum

Caption 1: An object in motion stays in motion, unless acted upon by another object
Caption 2: Mo' Better Mentum- a Spike Lee Joint

I spent the day with one of my best and oldest friends, Chris Witlox. Why can't someone invent the transporter or figure out how to jaunte already?


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Al Gore Wants to Destroy the World!

According to Wired magazine, my Jetta TDI would actually run better on vegetable oil than it currently does on diesel. Now I am all for getting this country away from it's foreign oil dependence, (something I don't see happening because billions are dollars are funneled to our political parties every year through international corporations, but that's another post.) What worries me is that fact that any science that looks good today means death tomorrow. Asbestos was a lifesaver, until people realized it causes cancer. Psychiatrists used to prescribe cocaine. Doctors once told women to smoke to lose weight after having a baby. So, lets pretend everyone in the world switches from gasoline to vegetable oil combustion. These are some possible scenarios:

1) Insects will feed upon the smog from the vegetable oil, bringing their numbers up tenfold. They will overrun the planet, destroying crops, and eventually gaining a taste for human blood.

2) Smog from the vegetable oil will contain corn starch that will mix with the rain. The resulting goo will gunk up peoples' hair. Women across the country will wage war over hair care products. Anarchy will reign.

3) Runoff from the exhaust will seep into the ground and be brought by rain into the ocean. Corn-fed fish will grow fat and tasty. As everyone knows, big fish eat little fish. Before long, all of our fish will all be fat and lethargic. People everywhere will become ashamed of our planet's ocean life. Interspecies racism will destroy our world.

So while I'm all for American independence from foreign oil, let's not jump on the Al Gore bandwagon just yet, OK? Our planet's future might depend on it.


Friday, August 31, 2007

Who Snopes the Snopers?

I'm sure most of you have gone through this scenario: Person A forwards to all of his or her friends- including you- some urban legend. This is immediately followed in your mailbox by a letter from Person B, who says, "This story isn't true, check out!" You check it out, and feel you now know the "truth." You have evolved another step on the internet ladder, a rung above those idiots who'll believe and forward anything.

So my question is, why do people trust Snopes to tell the truth? Why are they so sure that everything on the internet but Snopes is suspect? I'm just curious.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007


It's Wednesday, and for the first time in three weeks, I haven't had to work overtime. I don't know what to do with myself, because I'm too worn out to really get into anything. I'm having fun annoying Jennifer with my constant amorous overtures, and watching Mandy take a nap. I miss spending time with my kids so much that watching them nap is a joy.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I love the push the entertainment industry is giving to cracking down on pirated DVDs. According to today's Daily News, the industry "loses" six billion dollars a year, and New York state alone loses fifty million dollars in tax revenues. Don't you wish that you could just make up figures like that and have the newspapers make it sound credible? "I lost five million dollars this year, because subway delays are at a record high. If I wasn't stuck on the subway so much, I could have earned five million dollars."

Ah well, the Simpsons are on, and life is too short.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Hello, Again

Hello, again. Still here, still working a flabbergasting amount of hours. Like so many electricians in NYC these days, I'm balancing self-respect against the fear of losing my job. "Do more with less," seems to be the catchphrase of the decade. Or was that the last decade? Never mind. At least Uncle Sam is making some money.

In other idiotic news from the nanny state, the MTA has apparently banned cell phone use on their buses. I know this because at the front of the bus, they've added a cute little sticker of a cell phone with a slash through it, right next to the ones of a drink cup and a radio. Most bus drivers seem to ignore it, but I actually saw one who refused to drive until a little old lady got off her cell phone. Now, we all hate idiots who shout into the phone at 200 db, but how do you put an outright ban on cell phone use? It's ok if I talk to the person next to me, it's NOT ok if I talk to a black box in my hand. And, of course, there's no law against crazy homeless people who scream obscenities at themselves.

My Sainted Catholic Sicilian Mother threw a family reunion this past weekend. It's so cute watching little kids run around, colliding like quantum particles. If you ever want to study Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, just let a bunch of 3-4 year olds loose in a confined space, and try to predict their position and behavior simultaneously. It's fun & educational.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Hello, Out There

I haven't posted anything in a while, so I just thought I'd write and say hello. I'm sorry the posts have been so sparse lately, but I'm the foreman on a job in Brooklyn and I've been working ridiculous amounts of overtime. Dear Lord, I am tired. I'm also cooling off the day with a shot of Jack Daniels, something I admit I do far too often these days.

Sorry I skipped Illustration Friday this week, but "Emergency" just didn't do anything for me. All I could think of was the Australian kid in the episode of The Simpsons when Bart makes a collect call to Down Under to ask about which way the water swirls. "But it's an e-MEH-gen-cee!"

Some thoughts that go through my head these days:
1) If anyone think the "congestion pricing" that Bloomberg is forcing down our (New Yorkers') throats has to do with anything besides sucking as much money out of the residents of the city as he possibly can, I have a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in.
2) I'm an Independent and not really interested in the Democrat Party, but I am curious why the Daily News has to work it into at least one story a day that they think Barak Obama is inexperienced- whatever that means. If they insist on spoon-feeding propaganda for Hillary, they could just mention all things that she's done for New York since becoming senator. (Please pause and listen to the crickets. Thank you.)

All right, I'm off to bed. G'night, all.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Windorphins are an Ebay Ad Campaign!

A Public Service Announcement: If you've ever seen those cute little Windorphin ads and wondered what it was all about, it's just an annoying ad ploy by Ebay. Get it? You WIN the bid, you get WINDORPHINS. There, I've saved you precious internet time you could have spent looking at porn. Feel free to thank me.


Friday, August 03, 2007

"There's Someone In My Head, But It's Not Me..."

Illustration Friday: Missing

I think I went missing a long time ago. If someone finds me, please let me know.

As I ride the F train at 5:30a.m., I've come to the realization that the earlier the subway, the uglier the riders. This is because the more beautiful someone is, the better chance they have of getting a job with regular hours. (The exception to this rule is nurses returning home after a night shift.) Of course, if the MTA actually sorted us by looks, I'd be restricted to riding at two in the morning...

Jen, Joe & I watched Star Trek: First Contact last night. It's a fun movie, but it never impressed me. It just seems like a two hour episode of STTNG. I remember the first Borg episode, "Q Who?" Q sends the Enterprise to a region of space never explored before, to smack some of the self-righteousness off of Picard's face. There they meet the Borg, a hive-like cybernetic collective who are much more powerful than anything crew of the Enterprise has ever encountered. Like true aliens, they act in ways humans can't comprehend. At the end, Picard admits defeat, that there are things out there far beyond human abilities, and Q returns the Enterprise back to Earth's sector of the galaxy before it is destroyed.

Sadly, the Borg became too popular to leave alone, and with each revisitation, Star Trek sociology had to make them more & more human. First came Locutus- the Borg who lived, then Hugh- the kinder & gentler Borg, followed by Jeri Ryan as Seven-of-Nine- the hubba-hubba Borg, leaving us in First Contact with Alice Krige as the vamping Borg queen, complete with sexual innuendos. Another brilliant, original idea, trampled into mediocrity.

Another good giggle in the film is the introduction of the Quantum Torpedo. What in the name of Vishnu's Third Arm is a Quantum Torpedo? Does it have to be observed before it detonates? Does it change the state of being of its target? Does it play dice with the universe? Does it only exist in finite quantum intervals, disappearing from the Enterprise and reappearing instantly at it's target? Don't be silly; it's just a pretty blue ball of light that blows things up. Next up: Star Trek: Insurrection, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Enjoy Face-Lifts.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Zen & the Art of Boredom

It's not easy being bored. It's even harder to bore other people. So often, there are witty, intelligent, or insightful things you can say, like, "This is a hell of a run-on sentence," or, "No it's not, you're just using a lot of comma splices."

I find the best way to bore people is to tell them things they never wanted to know. For example: if you eat something with gravy and cheese for dinner & don't wash your mustache out afterwards, the next morning you're going to wake up with a nauseating odor stuck in your nostrils.

Another good way to bore people is to talk about work. "I put some pipe up today. It was one inch EMT. I used a bender to make offsets. Did you know that the multiplier of the distance between bends in an offset is the cosecant of the desired angle's sine?" If you want to go for bonus points, you can also be arrogant: "I'm much smarter than Blogger, because the word cosecant isn't in its spell-check dictionary!"

However, I've found the best way to be boring is to start conversations about things no one else cares about, such as, "Peter Cushing really doesn't count as a Doctor Who, because he's just a human and his movies were re-makes of Dalek TV episodes anyway," or, "Do you know I saw a ten-foot walrus masturbate at the Brooklyn Aquarium using all four flippers and his tail?"

Please feel free to add your own.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Moon on the Moon

Illustration Friday: Moon

I couldn't resist.

I'm sorry I haven't been responding to people's comments lately, or visiting my friends' blogs. I'm running a job in Brooklyn and it's really a drain. All I want to do when I get home is go to bed. I'll try to catch up, though.

Answers to Bonus Questions for the Supreme Geek.
1. Mike & Kim, Craig J. Quack, Knitting Painter Woman, and Janie knew that in Douglas Adams' novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42.
2. In 2001, a Space Oddessy, the HAL-9000 computer turned psychotic because while it was programmed not to lie, it was ordered to lie.
3. Craig J. Quack was the only one who knew that the first appearance of Boba Fett was in a cartoon in the wonderfully awful Star Wars Holliday Special. (Janie was shooting for bonus points with the answer "The crown of his head, unless he was breeched," but as every true geek knows, Boba Fett is a clone of Jango Fett and therefore wasn't naturally birthed. Nice try, though.)
4. "Grok," from Heinlein's novel Stranger in a Strange Land, means to drink, or to understand deeply. Good job, Mike & Kim, & Craig.
5. Ubik, (from the novel of the same name by Philip K. Dick) is what you need to return objects to their present states, if you are in fact dead with your body in cold storage & a dead teenager is sucking out your life essence.

Keep on geeking, my friends.

The Simpsons: Big. Yellow. Pollution.

I'm not going to give an in-depth review here, let's just say The Simpsons Movie was fun and leave it at that. It IS interesting to note, however, that while some elements of the movie were a bit risque, the Itchy & Scratchy short at the beginning was bloodless & much tamer than its television counterparts.

Once again, the useless vomitus masses at AMC Loews Fresh Meadows 7 on Horace Harding Blvd in Queens cut the projector before the credits were over. In fact, they cut it off THE MOMENT THE PIMPLY TEENAGER AT THE END APPEARED ON THE SCREEN & STARTED TALKING. Think about that: a skit at the end of the credits started, and then these friendless bunch of cow stomachs shut off the projector. If you want to save time between shows, cut out the twenty goddamn minutes of commercials before the movie.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dealing with the Worthless People at Verizon (Part 2)

After having to wait yet another entire day for someone from Verizon (8am-6pm is a hell of a window, isn't it?) Jen called Verizon from her cell phone at 5:30 to find out that (supposedly) a technician came out at 3:30, decided "This is an apartment building, I can't get in without someone at their building office letting me in, and they're probably closed" (This is almost verbatim what the lady at Verizon said.) They then said that our basements were "rat infested," (a lie, but how would you know if you couldn't get in?) And whatever is wrong with out phone, (for the second week in a row) it is probably something one of our maintenance people did. Jen furiously told them that she had made arrangements to get the person in to do work, but how could they just (supposedly) come and not even ring the bell? "Well, he tried calling you," the lady at Verizon said. HOW CAN THEY CALL US IF OUR PHONE DOESN'T WORK?

Of course, there's nothing that can be done about it. We just have to wait until tomorrow, and Jen has to waste yet another day sitting around waiting for them to come. No way to make monopolies accountable, no way to ensure this doesn't happen again- or even gets fixed properly.


Dear Vomitous Masses at Verizon

Dear Vommitus Masses at Verizon.

For the second time in not even two weeks, my phone line & DSL are down (I'm writing this from a library.) The first time, it was out for four days, each day your useless employees telling me that "it will be up by noon." This is the second day of this round without service, and once again, I'm hearing the same pigeon guano come out of your mouths. Kindly get your collective worthless heads out of your fundaments, get over here, fix my phone line, and stop fornicating it up every time you open the service box down the street.

I'd say "thank you" if you'd actually do something

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Expelliarmus Vomitus

I think the Harry Potter books are fun and all, but I became a little nauseated when the lady who delivers my mail told me that anyone who messed up the delivery of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows today would lose their jobs.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Cookie.

Mandy's latest bit of cuteness is referring to Cookie Monster as "Cookie Spirit." We can't figure out why, but we're rolling with it.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

On the Subject of Geekiness...

Tonight Joe & I watched Star Trek VI together. "Dad," Joe asked, "How come they all have red shirts?"

"Because," I answered, "that's the color the costume people decided to make their uniforms."

Joe scrunched his face up for a moment. "I thought you said that on Star Trek, wearing red shirt means you're going to die!" he said.



Saturday, July 14, 2007

Dis Cover, Dat Cover, Who Cares?

Illustration Friday: Discovery

I don't know who these guys are, but they're out to discover something.

I fully admit that I did no research or use any reference photos. It's sort of a mish-mash of what I think an ancient ship discovering strange new countries would look like.

1) The Transformers were invented by the Quintessons. This, of course, was not in the Michael Bay film, as it actually would involve a bit of creative science fiction & story telling.
2) Schrödinger's Cat simultaneously exists in the states of being alive and dead- until someone opens the box. Kudos to Aravis & Ian T.
3) On Doctor Who, the first incarnation of The Doctor had a granddaughter, Susan. Good job again Ian T.
4) The U.S.S. Enterprise's insignia is NCC-1701. Good job Elena (aka French Toast Girl) & Loni Edwards.
5) In NetHack, as in regular Hack, eating a floating eye gives you clairvoyance (you can see other creatures anywhere in the level when you are blind.) Again, nice work Elena.
6) In the book 2001 & the film & book 2010, David Bowman's last words as a human were "My God- it's full of stars!"
7) e is the constant for the inverse of the natural logarithm. Say that three times fast.
8) In Dune, a Crysknife is made from the tooth of a giant worm. Elena once again lets her geekiness shine.
9) Wookies come from Kashyyyk, that place with all the tree forts in Revenge of the Sith.
10) The Knights Who Say "Ni" cannot abide the word "it." "Suffice to say, it is one of the words the Knights of Ni cannot hear!... No, it's not 'is,' you can't get very far in life not saying 'is!'" Good job Aravis, Elena, and Ian.

Bonus Questions for the supreme geek!
1) What is the meaning of life? (If you're a true geek, you'll know the answer I'm looking for immediately.)
2) Why did the HAL9000 murder the crew of the Discovery?
3) What was the first appearance of Boba Fett?
4) Define "Grok."
5) What does Ubik fix?


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

No Offense to Drag Queens, But...

Dear Piers, Shannon, & David:

How could you pass up something brilliant like The Redneck Tenors for a no-talent fat-jiggling female impersonator like Boy Shakira? Seriously! (Note: I have nothing against transvestites- to each their own- I just don't think that being a transvestite in and of itself is a bankable talent.)


Thoughts for the day

Is childhood religious instruction based on the fact that if you waited until a person was a thinking, reasoning adult BEFORE you tried telling them they have to believe in a church's dogma, they'd probably laugh themselves silly?

"if you have power problems, please report them online at" Well, I WOULD but my computer doesn't work when the power is out...

Dear Elton John: About the song, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." Wouldn't that burn? (Drum fill)

What the hell is the deal with face & body piercing? Honesty? I know it's their own bodies & their own choices, but I go buggy when I see beautiful women with a nose or eyebrow ring. If it was a giant zit on the side of her nose, the lady would probably go ape-shit, but since it's a cubic zirconia, it's chic. Is it because we live in a society that hates perfection, so these women feel they have to mar themselves in some way to be accepted? When I see a lady with a halter-top & belly ring, the first thing that comes to mind is that it's really the tab for a giant zipper, & there's an alien inside. I know it's nothing to do with me, but if any women out there with studs or loops in their noses want to clue me in, I'd be eternally grateful.


Monday, July 09, 2007


A Conversation while driving down 38th street on Saturday:

Joe: What's a Peep Show?
Me: What?
Joe: There's a sign: "Peep Show, only twenty-five cents!"
Jen: Oh God...
Me: Well... you know what Peeps are?
Joe: No...
Me: You know, those yellow marshmallow chickens you get at Easter?
Joe: The ones you tried to roast on a stick but they just melted?
Me: That's them! Well... they make puppets... of giant Peeps. And they... put on a show.
Joe: What kind of show?
Jen: Yeah, what kind of show?
Me: You know- singing, dancing- it's like The Muppet Show. But with Peeps.
Joe: I want to go!
Me: I don't have twenty-five cents.
Joe: Mommy, what's so funny?
Jen: Nothing!
Me: Besides, we can't stop, we're going to Tom & Rachel's
Joe: Some other time, then.
Me: ...Yeeeah.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

"...and if there's one thing lower than a sideshow freak/ It's a grit eating, scum sucking, pencil necked geek!"

Illustration Friday: Geeky

Tony's Ultimate Geek Test

1) According to the original television show, what race created the Transformers?
2) In Quantum Physics, what two simultaneous states does Schrödinger's cat exist in?
3) On the show Doctor Who, who is the only relative of the Doctor's ever shown in the series?
4) What has the insignia NCC-1701?
5) In NetHack, what will eating a floating eye's corpse do for you?
6) What were David Bowman's last words before entering the stargate?
7) In algebra, what does the letter e (lower case) stand for?
8) How do you make a Crysknife?
9) What planet do Wookies come from?
10) What word do the Knights Who Say "Ni" fear most?

Feel free to add your own.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Dream a Little Dream of Me

I don't know what Jen put in the steak Marinade last night, but whatever it was, it gave me some really odd ones:

Dream 1:
My family & I were at my (maternal) grandparents old house in Brooklyn. It was late at night. Instead of windows in the kitchen, there was a sliding door that led to an Olympic length indoor swimming pool. Suddenly in shorts, I sat at the edge & dipped my feet in the water. It was heated. My cousins' kids were playing in the water. At the center of the pool was a scaffold with halogen lamps on stands and a baby goat chained to it. A long series of extension cords- which sometimes sagged into the water- powered the lights, which were barely above water. I waded to the scaffold and unplugged the cord. The end fell apart and began to unravel in my hands. I began to panic, terrified that the children & I would be electrocuted. I blew on the stranded wires & they glowed as if they were on fire. I lay them on the goat, hoping his fur would insulate him. It worked. I woke up.

Dream 2:
I was invited to an eleven-year-old's birthday party. Realizing I didn't have a gift, I grabbed a small flower pot on the way out. The kid's mother (who looked just like Patricia Heaton) raised her eyebrow & pointed to an identical flower pot alongside her driveway . I dream-remembered that I had gotten that for the kid last year. I made up some story about forgetting the rest of the present- some sort of botanical junior science kit- at home. She pretended to accept this. Instead of going inside, I was captivated by their brick driveway, which was carved with runes. I looked closer and saw that instead of bricks, they were really making up the marble roof of an ancient, buried building. I marked the block I had been examining with a Sharpie. I woke up.

Dream 3:
I was about to take part in some kind of battle. We were all given night-vision helmets that looked like Princess Leia's mask when she's pretending to be a bounty hunter in Return of the Jedi. My lenses weren't lining up correctly. My fellow soldiers were very relaxed & helpful.

Dream 4:
I was going to go to the firing range with my friend Chris' father. I didn't have a weapon, just pockets full of old bullets I didn't think would really work.

Any ideas?