Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Decorating A Room For Ten Dollars

Amazing. Sharpie. Go see, the 360 degree photo is pretty cool, and I'm pretty damn green with envy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Chainsaw Chix

Heard an ad on the radio this morning about a local demonstration by the Chainsaw Chix. Who?

Here's one, check it out.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Attic is cleaned out and 99% reorganized. I still need to get a bale or two of the loose cellulose insulation to put in the gaps next to the support beams, but the attic is 99% insulated.

It's going to look like we've been foreclosed and evicted on trash day for all the boxes and giant trash bags full o' crap to be tossed. Fortunately we've got the coolest trash company on the planet and they never complain if you *occasionally* have a huge pile to go.

We have another stack o' stuff that will be put up on Craigslist and Freecycle.

Rachael and TJ took a couple of big boxes of books to the used book store for credit. Rachael earned enough to buy twelve volumes of the next series she wants to read, and TJ brought home several books of his own. The books that the store didn't want were dropped off at the library.

We found a bunch of old, old pictures that Liz will spend time scanning. Included in that batch were several photos of oldest daughter Robyn as an infant, wearing dresses that we found and put aside for the upcoming granddaughter.

I have another box of stuff to take to work to shred. Way too much for our little household tree-grinder.

Dang, I'm proud of my kids. They busted their ass this weekend.

Buy.com is a Ripoff

Mookie bought an mp3 player from buy.com and now they won't honor their "extended" replacement warranty. This is the second time she's had trouble with these bozo's and their sleazy business practices.

Buy.com rips off children.
Buy.com rips off children.
Buy.com rips off children.
Buy.com rips off children.
Buy.com rips off children.
Buy.com rips off children.
Buy.com rips off children.
Buy.com rips off children.
Buy.com rips off children.

Spread the word.

Movie Review: Holy Mountain

This 1974 flick is one long (almost two hours) series of surrealist scenes and set pieces that... hell, I don't really know what the point is. If there's a main character, it's a Christ-like man who weaves his way through parts of the story, along with his sidekick - an amputee midget.

Supposedly there's a story being told, but I couldn't follow it, and I read the synopsis from the package beforehand. Mostly, it's scene after scene of striking, shocking, bizarre and/or blasphemous imagery. Some of it will make you laugh. A lot of it will make you uncomfortable. Most of it will make you go "huh?".

This morning I read other reviews of the movie, and many people who claim it to be a masterpiece recommend watching it several times to let the imagery sink in. Screw that. I watched this mostly at double speed, with stretches of eight speed along the way. Since there's almost no dialogue, you don't miss much.

The film is memorable, but I must not be smart enough, or artsy enough to appreciate its genius. Or so I gather.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Our house has a barn-style roof (technically, it's a "gambrel" roof), which means that we've got all kinds of attic space. Long ago, someone put down oak flooring up there in the center, where you can stand upright. They also added a drop down stairway, which is very nice to have. Several years ago my neighbor and I wired the entire attic with electricity - switches, outlets, lights, the whole shebang.

Another thing that's been added are many, many boxes o' stuff. The Christmas decorations are right near the doorway, but the rest of the space was only semi-organized.

One thing that nobody ever added up in the attic was more insulation. There's about three inches of the cellulose fluff, which has settled from the probably original six or so inches.

This weekend's project was the attic. Rachael was summoned home, and her and her brother were both told to bring money for bins. Boxes bad, bins - with labels - good. Since the kids all got my pack-rat gene, I was fairly sure that there was plenty that could be donated or tossed. So the plan was to empty the attic in phases and, while Rachael and Liz went through boxes (ruthless, ever ruthless), TJ and I would lay new insulation up topside.

We actually started last night, emptying perhaps 60% of the attic. Most of it was the kid's stuff, and Rachael did indeed find much to toss. Today around noon we started again, bringing down more boxes and then hauling up rolls of insulation. TJ and I were dressed as you do for insulating jobs; long sleeves, long pants, gloves, respirators, goggles, and we sweated like pigs while we laid out the rolls. We finished half of the attic, and even took some stuff back up that had been looked through and consolidated.

Tomorrow we'll finish up with the last two piles o' boxes and lay the other half of the insulation, and the peasants will rejoice. The HOA won't, because there are eight large black plastic bags of trash out in front of the house, under the overhang to protect them from the intermittent rain. Those are the overflow, because the basement has several more, plus boxes, and there's a huge pile of boxes to go out near the front door too.

Everyone has worked hard this weekend. I love it when a plan comes together.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pinkies Out

Tonight, courtesy of Mookie (who is learning to cook), we are dining on quiche.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I Can See This Happening

I could survive for 1 minute, 9 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor

Thanks to Bou for pointing this one out.

Quote of the Whenever I Feel Like It

From The Illuminatus Trilogy, by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea, about the story's ficticious President.

He was, in fact, characteristic of the best type of dominant male in the world at this time. He was fifty-five years old, tough, shrewd, unburdened by the complicated ethical ambiguities which puzzle intellectuals, and had long ago decided that the world was a mean son-of-a-bitch in which only the most cunning and ruthless can survive. He was also as kind as was possible for one holding that ultra-Darwinian philosophy; and he genuinely loved children and dogs, unless they were on the site of something that had to be bombed in the National Interest. He still retained some sense of humor, despite the burdens of his almost godly office, and, although he had been impotent with his wife for nearly ten years now, he generally achieved orgasm in the mouth of a skilled prostitute within 1.5 minutes. He took amphetamine pep pills to keep going on his grueling twenty-hour day, with the result that his vision of the world was somewhat skewed in a paranoid direction, and he took tranquilizers to keep from worrying too much, with the result that his detachment sometimes bordered on the schizophrenic; but most of the time his innate shrewdness gave him a fingernail grip on reality. In short, he was much like the rulers of Russia and China.

That one made me laugh out loud.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More Fun Than You Can Shake A Broadsword At

In July of 1980 (I was still a single young man at the time) I joined a book club. My "freebies" were a collection of poetry from Byron, Yeats and Shelley, Poor Richards Almanac, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and a four-volume series of history about the English Plantagenet Kings.

I'm just getting around to reading about the Plantagenets, and I do believe that this is a good thing. I love history, and so much of history depends on context and how the events being told fit into the local, regional and world situation at the time. There was a time when I would do this kind of reading with three or four books open on my desk, so I could do quick (or not so quick) lookups of the not-quite-main characters, battles, places and events. Nowadays, the internet (Al Gore, PBUH) is perfect for this kind of auxiliary reading.

I'm barely 50 pages into the first volume and have already stopped twice because I had a page of notes to research. Eleanor of Aquitaine is more than a name dropped occasionally. The reference to unlucky Arthur, captured and never seen again, is now set amongst the players of the day, adding a richness to the background of the story as it unfolds. I'm able to differentiate between Queen Mathilda and Empress Mathilda, two regal contemporaries who maneuvered against each other for years in an effort to gain (and regain) the crown.

I'm still keeping a page of notes to keep straight all the various Henrys, Richards, and Roberts, and who begat who and such. Methinks I missed my calling, and perhaps would've been happy spending my life as a research librarian.

Time to get back to my book.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

That's My Girl

Daughter Robyn is due on October 31, just days before the election. She's already applied for her absentee ballot, just in case.

Friday, September 19, 2008

You've Earned It

Y'all have indulged me with my beloved crappy movies, so now I'm going to treat you to a review of a real classic. It's still offbeat in that Rocket Jones way you've come to dread know and love, but it's a classic nonetheless.

I've mentioned how much I love Mexican horror movies, and this time we've got a Mexican horror cowboy movie! Give it a chance, amigos. Hang with me a bit longer.

Casa Negra has released The Living Coffin, aka El Grito de la Muerte. It's got everything a good cowboy movie needs. We've got the young, handsome and hyper-competent law officer, accompanied by his trusty sidekick and his horse. This time around, the sidekick is a pudgy coonskin-cap wearing Indian named Crazy Coyote, more aptly named Dozing Narcoleptic. I don't recall ever hearing the law man's name, very Eastwood-esque. His horse, in the best Roy Rogers tradition, is more a partner than mere transportation, being able to perform tricks and tasks based on whistles from the cowboy. Very handy beast to have around in a tight spot, as you'll discover.

We also have the lovely young lady and her dilemma that the handsome stranger gets involved in. This time it's the undead! Specifically, her aunt who's come back to terrorize the area as the Weeping Woman. This is now the fourth movie I've watched that specifically mentions the Weeping Woman, so I'm guessing that this legend is to Mexico as the Boogie Man is to the US.

Meanwhile, back at the hacienda, you've got your bad guys, a mysterious swamp full of quicksand and all the usual cowboy movie fun to go along with the nicely-done horror aspects of the story. You'll recognize the sets from other classic Casa Negra releases. The living room, the courtyard, the crypts and even the village appear in other movies, dressed up enough to not be obvious, but the architectural details are striking enough to be recognizable. Hell, I'd have used them as often as possible too, they're that good. These films are terrifically atmospheric, in large part thanks to the lighting techniques. The lighting is not subtle like American films tend to be, but it's not amateurish. It's distinctive and works very well.

Once again, Casa Negra has released a beautiful and clear print. The sound quality is a little weak, but since I watch these movies with the subtitles on I'm listening more for the musical score than the words. I'm also wondering about the quality of the translation of the english subtitles, since the sidekick is referred to as "Crazy Coyote", yet the box lists him as "Crazy Wolf". A few of the subtitles seemed a little off, but not enough to detract from the story. They're also printed in white text with a blue outline, which I hated at first. As the story progressed I found that this style was very easy to read, regardless of the background. That's the important thing. For you heathens who cannot deal with subtitles, there's a dubbed english track available, and as usual Casa Negra offers all menus in english or spanish. All in all, another wonderful release from Casa Negra.

Bottom line: I grew up with these movies, I love them. I now own several of these classic Casa Negra releases. Try a rental or toss one on top of your Netflix queue and see if they don't float your boat. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Politics is a Sport, Like the Special Olympics are a Sport

When our President's approval rating is in the low 30's, it's a "failure of leadership" according to Reid and Pelosi. When Congress has an approval rating in the low 20's, it's all because of those darned minority party folks. A failure of followership, if you will.

It'd be funny if it wasn't so goddammed sad.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Still Unclear on the Concept

An electric vehicle runs without burning gas, and emits nothing but water vapor as exhaust.

I thought water vapor was the greatest cause of global warming?

And what chucklehead thought that a car that spews more humidity would be a big winner, especially in the summer? I guess as long as I'm inside my Prius running the freon-seeping air conditioner, the rest of you planet rapists can just kiss my ass.

Movie Badness

More craptacular cinema, courtesy of the Mill Creek release, 50 Chilling Classics. First up, I'm going to link to a hilarious review of Cathy's Curse.

Cathy's Curse

I've watched four of these puppies in the last five days, and Lord help me, I'm gonna keep right on!

Now I talked about The Cold, and it introduced me to a b-movie name I've never heard of before, one Bill Rebane. Bill is a terrible director, and his movies are among the worst I've ever seen. I say that with a joyous heart, because there are not one, not two, but *four* Rebane features in this collection, and I've seen them all.

And you get to hear about them, if you keep reading.

The Legend of Bigfoot is mind-numbingly bad. We're talking tonsillectomy-with-a-melon-baller-through-your-belly-button bad. So bad that it's bad. You know how some movies come right up to the edge of bad and then teeter there, entertaining the hell out of you? This one does a Thelma and Louise right from the get-go.

The Cold, see above and its own little review.

The Demons of Ludlow. If the basic premise of your movie is that demons live inside a piano, then rule number one should be that when people in the movie play the piano, then it shouldn't sound like an organ. Or a harpsichord. Or a three-piece combo, fer God's sake. The story is actually quite... uh, almost said good... I'll say interesting instead. It's the execution that falters badly, as usual. The special effects range from surprisingly fair to abysmal, and pointless comes to mind more than once. My favorite (though not the best by a long shot) is probably when the mayor goes to an old hollow tree looking for something. Stuff that tree full of fireworks and then in post-production add WWII audio files of an artillery barrage, and you have eeeeeirie evil demonic special effects. Uh huh.

Finally, the (oh so flawed) gem of the foursome: The Alpha Incident. Ignore the scenes with the two scientists, one who probably went on to father several global citizens with names like Rainbow and Sequoia, because they basically whine about things they can't change, while proving themselves inept at actually doing anything helpful. Oh yeah, you know the type.

The good part happens when a biochemist and four railroad employees are quarantined at a remote train station because they've been exposed to an unknown but dangerous organism. The biochemist has a gun and he uses it when needed to maintain order because these folks don't much like taking orders from him (or the disembodied "general" on the phone). It turns into a decent psychological thriller as the group tries to survive together, even though they don't much care for each other. Oh, and the kicker is, if they fall asleep they die. Horribly. Great effect for this one too, you've gotta see it to appreciate it. I'll mention here for my own future reference that I thought the lone female of the group was quite cute, and I was very surprised when she showed off an impressive rack. Also, you can enjoy watching Buck Flowers, a true legend in the biz. He's one of those actors you've seen many times without realizing it.

Ok, final score:

1. Alpha Incident - worth renting, if you don't get your hopes too high.
2. Demon's of Ludlow - especially if you don't like piano music.
3. The Cold - hit or MISS.
4. Legend of Bigfoot - dear God no.

Good Enough for NASA

Checklists, that is. NASA uses 'em, so do I.

Here's a whole heap o' useful and funny checklists, including the always useful Paper GPS.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Movie Review Time (Admit It, You've Been Pining!)

When you look to spend your hard-earned money on great movie entertainment, so much depends on your definition of "great". For me, there's not much out there that beats the 50 Movie Packs by Mill Creek.

Granted, many of these films are stinkers, and they're all in the public domain. The picture quality may be poor, the sound quality worse, the acting atrocious, the plots non-existant, but dammit, they're fun! Plus, you'll find the unexpected gem when you least expect it.

Not this time though. The Cold, aka The Game, is a descendant of the classic House on Haunted Hill.

Three goofy millionaires invite nine disco-loving losers (but I repeat myself) to a remote island resort. The "game" is that they will undergo scares until they leave. Last loser standing wins a cool million.

I'm going to try a movie producer's trick here, ok? There are four lovely ladies in the group of nine. Two of them show various degrees of nakedness frequently during the first half of the movie. They also run around in and sleep in some rather fetching (and semi-transparent) lingerie. The third of the group looks great in a very revealing one-piece bathing suit. The fourth is gone before she can flash her headlights, so to speak, but I can live with that.

Now that you're totally distracted by the gratuitous nudity, you won't notice that the budget for this entire picture was about twelve dollars. It looks like someone had a friend who had a friend who knew a guy who... you get the idea. Shark fin. Fanged hand puppet. Fake tarantula. A gun (note singular, everyone seemed to own the exact same revolver). Mostly though, there was mist. From one of those mist generators you see around halloween. The mist was scary. Dunno why, but everyone was afraid of it. It was also cold. We know that because every time the mist appeared everyone bitched about how cold it was.

You almost don't notice the not-so-special effects because the dialogue is unbelievably bad, and the pitiful acting doesn't help. Two of the best exchanges:

Shelly (in the sauna): The sign says no physical exertion. We shouldn't do this. It might not be safe.
Joe: Of course it's safe. I had a vasectomy.
Shelly: Well, in that case. (dropping towel)

Joe: Who's gun is this?
John: I don't know, but games aren't played with loaded guns.
Shelly: What are they played with?
(Joe and John just stare at her)

You almost don't notice the terrible script because the story is barely coherent. (Deja vu, eh?) There are some nonsensical plot twists, and we get the dreaded narrator both before and after the movie. The dreaded narrator is never a good sign. At least this one admits that he really doesn't know what the hell is going on either, especially after the movie ends, and then ends again a few minutes later, and then again, and then again. I'm guessing that they had film left that couldn't be returned, so they used it up, shooting multiple endings until they got one they felt was usable. (Homework: "Usable" vs "good". Discuss.) I'm also guessing that they just said the hell with it and left 'em all in, otherwise I shudder to think about what was edited out as too crappy for this flick.

Hey, how about another memorable line?
Joe: There was a smell of death in that room. And cold. Like a December grave.

So this is an ok Saturday afternoon flick to while away some time while fighting off a summer cold (drinking cough syrup with codeine helps too). More importantly, check out the 50 movie packs from Mill Creek, especially if you love cheesy cinema.

Yeah, I'll Get Right On That

A spam showed up in my email today, from Kofi Annan. At least, I assumed it was spam. In my book, *anything* from the UN would be counted as spam, so even if it was legit - not bloody likely - buh-bye.

Next, it'll be Kim Jong Il, offering to help me love her long time thanks to ancient oriental formula.

Hmmmm... what other "celebrity spams" can we come up with? Leave 'em in the comments.

Hot Prom Date


1 female mannequin
1 evening gown
1 big honking rocket motor


Here and here.

Fun and funny stuff.

I forgot to thank Dick's Rocket Dungeon for the pointer.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I Lost A Friend The Other Day

Sorry folks, I need to vent.

A lady that I know went on a rant the other day about Sarah Palin. It went on and on, full of overwhelming venom and outright lies. She was unshakably convinced of her superiority because Palin, despite being a strong, independent and successful woman, didn't march in lockstep with the strong, independent and successful women who belong to the feminist cult. Incensed by the fact that Palin and her husband are raising five children because they believe that adults are responsible for the lives they create, my friend spewed horrid and outrageous things, spoken with righteous certainty about a family who she'd didn't know existed two weeks ago. Not one family member was spared.

And I stared at her when she finally wound down. She looked a little surprised at herself as well. Finally, I quietly said, "I would never have guessed that such a vile, twisted soul existed inside you."

I turned around and walked away.

She began, "I was just expressing my..."

I kept right on walking.

More Boring - No Exciting - Minor League Baseball!

So the hometown Potomac Nationals are playing the Myrtle Beach Pelicans for the League Championship. Best of five, and the first two games were down south. The P-Nats took the first game 15-0, the Pelicans evened it up 6-4, before heading north to continue the series.

Last night, in a back and forth game, the Pelicans were leading 7-4 in the bottom of the ninth. With two outs, the P-Nats combined a walk, a single and a three-run homer to tie the game.

In the bottom of the tenth, the P-Nats loaded the bases and the Pelicans pitcher walked home the winning run!

All told, the P-Nats pitchers struck out 18 Pelicans during the game.

For all that excitement, Liz and I weren't there. She had oral surgery yesterday and wasn't in any shape to enjoy the game. We're not going tonight either. That sucks, but in the grand scheme of things, it's no biggie.

Now, tonight the P-Nats can clinch. Oh yeah.

Like The Poster Sez

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Since The Philosofisizing Went Over So Well

What the hell, it's more my speed anyway:

Japanese Bug Fights!

According to the site, there are only three rules, one of which is "no outside weapons allowed". Considering most of these beasties have stingers or pincers or are poisonous (or all three), I think that's fair.

Thanks to Random Nuclear Strikes for the pointer.

Monday, September 08, 2008

For Your Consideration

For some reason, this passage struck me. I'm not sure yet what I think about it, I'm going to have to chew this one over a bit.

We shall never know how much genius has been lost to the world by reason of the need to make a living. We willingly provide free board and lodging for lunatics, but recoil before the idea of doing so for first-class minds. -- Clifton Fadiman, on Rene Descartes (born wealthy, and never had to work a day in his life)

...an' I wanna pony... an' a bb-gun... an' a baseball... an' a...

... and a finger up my butt.

Today's my birthday. Da big four-nine! Yay, me!!! Not quite halfway done, to my thinking.

I also scheduled myself for my annual physical today. Dunno why, just did. New doctor, I've only met her once. Seems nice.

Small hands. Damn right I checked.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Technical Help Request

My windows machine is having video playback problems. Anything like YouTube, anything like Media Player playback, etc. is pausing every few seconds. I mean literally pausing every 3 or 4 seconds. I've tried a variety of formats and sources - it does this with CD's too - and they all behave exactly the same way.

Secondary problem: No sound. Not from speakers, not from headphones. Front jack, back jack, same silence. Every volume setting I can find is turned up and not muted. I'm stumped.

Since I'm A Guy, We'll Just Call It Six Inches

The nearest weather recording station is the local middle school, and reported our Hannah rainfall amount as 5.6 inches of rain. In about 18 hours.

Everyone Loves Commie Books!

That's not "cutesy" for comic book.

Just like this isn't funny, although it is very educational.

More Edge of Your Seat Excitement (Updated!)

I just went down to check the basement for flooding. So far, so good.

I also made myself oatmeal for breakfast. In fact, daredevil that I am, I even added a splash of vanilla and a cut-up banana.

Update! We now have a small amount of wet carpet in one corner of the workshop. This is the leaky corner, and we'd already moved things out of the way because we expected this. Towels have been deployed, and we will report further developments as they occur.

More Noodling Around With The Site

I still have little chores to do around here (like fixing the links to open in a new window, finish adding links to the blogroll, etc.) They're mostly boring repetitive crap, so it's getting done slowly.

I upgraded to the new 3.0 version of Wizz RSS reader, which I really like. But - there's always a "but" - I s'pose there's an "installation notes" for a reason, and all my RSS feeds got lost into the ether. So that's another task on the ol' "to do".

Thrill a minute around here lately, ain't it?

Friday, September 05, 2008

It's Raining Too

For those who are bored by three straight baseball playoff posts, I thought I'd throw in a quickie weather report. Hannah is gonna be dumping buckets on us tonight and tomorrow. Not *Florida* buckets, but quite respectably-sized buckets nonetheless.

Is Broom Time Baby!!!

Another playoff game, another 1-run victory for the Potomac Nationals. They've swept the Wilmington Blue Rocks three straight, and tonight's score was one-zip. Nail biting excitement, and at least this time they did it in nine innings.

Also, in tonight's episode of "Boomer Watch", Boomer Whiting drove in the only run of the game. Considering he scored the winning run in the first two games and added tonight's game winning hit, I'd give him series MVP honors. I could make a case though, that he should share it with the entire pitching staff, which has been phenomenal this series.

Added Historical Interest Factoid: The original owner of the Blue Rocks was none other than Connie Mack, and their first manager was Chief Bender. If you're a baseball fan, you probably know those names. If not, the links will explain the utter coolness of it.

More Minor League Playoff Baseball

Last night was game two of the series between the Potomac Nationals and the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Heading into the series, predictions were for low scoring games since the two clubs had two of the three best ERA's in the league. Not entirely intuitive though, because the teams also rank first and third (I believe) in team batting averages too. Anyway, whoever predicted the pitcher's duels got it dead on.

Once again, last night's game went extra innings. Once again, in the bottom of the 10th, Boomer Whiting scampered home with the winning run. This time he was pinch running for Serano, the Nats catcher, and beat the throw to the plate from center field.

The Blue Rocks are playing very good ball, they're just coming up short on the scoreboard. If I were a Rocks fan, I'd be pretty freakin' depressed right now.

The Potomac Nationals are doing a couple of cool things for these playoffs. Every game has an all-you-can-eat BBQ before and during the game. Hot dogs, burgers, burritos, chips, etc. are free and they don't shut down until the 7th inning. The picnic area is tucked into the right field corner, so you can watch the game while you chow down on your picnic too.

The other cool thing is that they've cleaned out their storerooms with all the leftover freebies from the last several years, and dumped everything into giant boxes. As you enter the stadium, you can grab whatever you want from the boxes. We grabbed a small cooler and big-assed duffle bag on Wednesday, and last night we snagged a couple of nice caps.

Today and tomorrow (if needed), the games are in Delaware, game five (if needed) is back here. Shut 'em down tonight boys, and we'll see you next Thursday in the Championship series.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Pelicans Vs. Warthogs

Sounds like a Nature Channel special, eh? Actually, it's the Southern Division playoffs from baseball's Carolina League. Myrtle Beach going against Winston-Salem in a best of five.

In the Northern Division, it's our home-town Potomac Nationals against the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Last night the P-Nats took game one of the series 2-1 in 15 innings, when Boomer Whiting scored from 3rd on a wild pitch.

Boomer's parents and grandmother were in the stands, having travelled from Ohio to see him play. Even though we were up way too late, I'm looking forward to game 2 of the series tonight. I loves me some minor-league baseball.