Archive for February, 2010

Fun With Muppets…

When I was growing up, the Muppets were everywhere… There was the Muppet show, movies were being made, cartoons were being spun off (Muppet Babies), and their presence was gelt in other objects that were impressionable in my youth (“The Dark Crystal”, and Fraggle Rock, to name a few). Someone sent me a link to this first video, which made me think of my friend Scott, principally because of the music involved… Story below the video…

Scott and I ran together, more or less, for four years in college. One of his last semesters, he was looking for a class to take to fill an hour on his schedule – I can’t remember if he specifically needed a Fine Arts credit, or was just trying to make full-time hours – but I suggested a guitar class that I was taking (non-music major group guitar, if anyone wants to know). He had grown up playing more stringed instruments than I did (which wasn’t hard, since my string quotient was 0). I remember sitting in his apartment, he was sitting on the stairs and finger-picking out the rhythm. That’s the memory that comes to mind whenever I hear “Dust in the Wind.”

This one, though, while I can’t help but visualize “Wayne’s World” when I listen to the song, is something I’ve been eyeballing on iTunes for a few weeks. It’s a fun take on a classic, and takes me back to watching the Muppet Show, when they would perform with a musical guest (like the one below it…)

I can’t help but think of this clip whenever I hear the song… and it’s been like that for at least twenty years…

It’s always fun when the Muppets are involved…

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A Few Thoughts on D&D…

I’m a formerly active player. I admit it, and I had fun on the campaigns I played. While I like the version recorded for his Comedy Central special better, I can’t help but rock out and hum along to the chorus (laughing along the way) when I hear this Stephen Lynch song.

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A Few Thoughts about the Oscars

Since the nominations came out this morning, I feel compelled to comment on some interesting selections… I’m not going to hit on each nomination, or split hairs, or anything else so trivial (I have no say in how the Academy votes, so what’s the point going there, eh?), but there are some selections that I feel deserve a few words.

Woody Harrelson, Supporting Actor for “The Messenger.” A role that was far overshadowed by his turn in “Zombieland,” it is a role I would not have originally seen him in.

“District 9” for Best Picture. I consider this a longshot, partially because it falls into the “genre” category that the awards tend to shy away from… but it’s produced by Peter Jackson, so that alone helps give it a shot.

Along the genre lines, there had been talk for most of the year about “Star Trek” having a shot at a Best Picture nod. While there were several technical nominations (visual effects, sound editing, etc.), no Picture nod.

I’m not surprised at some of the nods – “Hurt Locker” has been doing well at the awards, and Cristoph Waltz has been getting lots of attention for his role in “Inglorious Basterds.” Similarly, “Up” was mentioned as having a shot at a Best Picture nod [which it got] now that the field has been expanded.

My two cents, on how I think some of the voting may go: I’m hedging my bet towards Waltz getting Supporting Actor, but I would like to see Matt Damon get an acting trophy to go with his writing statue. I’m hoping “Coraline” can pull out an upset, but I fear that “Up” may take Animated Feature before losing out in the Best Picture category. Beyond those, I’m keepingthe rest of my opinions to myself.

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Apples to Apples…

A couple of weeks ago MC and I hosted a “gaming afternoon,” where we had several of our friends over and played various board/card games for several hours. All of this happened after my friend Chris drove out earlier in the day, and we had already spent most of the afternoon playing video games on the Wii. One of the games that we played that night was one that our neighbor brought over: Apples to Apples.

While we were playing, as I stared at the card art (the “Apple” images on each card), I had this nagging feeling that I recognized the work. Initially I tried, as casually as I could, to look for some kind of signature or proof that would confirm my hunch. Nothing emerged. I thought about it through the night, making that mental note of: Look this up later. By later the next morning the mental post-it became unstuck, and fell back behind the desk somewhere.

Here we are, a week and a half later, and that mental post-it struggled it’s way from behind the desk to glare at me, shaking its little paper fist as if to say, “Remember me?” And after reading this, I did. And for a moment, I felt like Tweety Bird (“I did, I DID recognize the artist’s work on the cards!”).

I’ve made no secret here that I get a kick out of the Dork Tower comic strips. it’s part of my “daily routine” to stop by the site and see if there’s a new stip posted. There are enough stips that I’ve seen that there are definitely a few that I can see getting a signed print, or something, and having it hanging in an office while I write. Or maybe just a shirt, or something else that can fit into a working office.

Let’s just say I don’t mind the idea of trading shiny gold rock for “stuff” that John Kovalic has worked on. (Shameless plug: Apples to Apples really was a fun game, and one MC and I have seriously been considering adding to the collection. And I’ve been thinking for a while about starting a Munchkin collection… but would want to start at the 1st set, before branching into all of the off-shoots)…

And on another note, I found today’s strip to be hilarious, so I’ll link here to remind you why Dork Tower is just that fun to read.

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The Next Gadget…

As I may have mentioned before, I am a Mac convert.

But I am not a complete rabid fanboy… just because they put a new device out does not mean I’m going to camp out the day it first hits the market to pick up something new and shiny. I didn’t get a “real” iPod until 2007, and that was only after getting an iPod shuffle in late 2006. I didn’t get an iPod touch until the new models hit last year, and the 32Gb model dropped from high-end to mid-range. But I may reconsider part of that strategy with the iPad. [A brief aside… I mentioned this on Facebook and had a couple of people commented about the poor planning/naming of the product. I have to agree, concept naming scheme aside, it does sound like there was a lack of a woman’s opinion on the naming of the device… but I digress.]

There are still some technical issues that have me concerned (specifically, the “Camera Connection Kit”: if I dump a memory card’s worth of pictures onto the device on the fly, how easy is it to transfer them back to the computer once I return home? The same can be asked of attachments/documents… unless I port over to something like OpenOffice or Google docs for the duration of a trip.), and both an iPad case and some kind of dock (I’m leaning towards the Keyboard dock, instead of the plain dock with a possible wireless keyboard) would be required purchases as well.

I can definitely see making the trip to a local Apple store once the device offically hits market availability, if for no other reason than getting the above issues addressed. But I’m torn between getting it when it comes out, and waiting for storage capacity levels to change. I can see advantages both ways, and I still have a couple of months to be swayed… we shall see…

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Wii + Netflix = ?

I mentioned this in my “2010 resolutions” post, but I think it’s something that can be discussed on it’s own… Netflix recently [sometime in January] announced that it was partnering with Wii to allow video to stream through the gaming console. Similar to the PS3 setup, it will require a special “Netflix” disk to operate [which will be interesting to see how that works out… and if it needs to be inserted EACH time we want to stream a movie, or if it installs a patch into the console].

Personally, I think this will be awesome, from a service user standpoint. I know I can stream to a PC (and, thankfully, they finally got the setup worked out sometime a year ago, maybe a little more, allowing streaming through a Mac), but to watch a movie, at home, streaming through a laptop moniter just gets old, and doesn’tmake much sense to me. I’ve watched some television episodes, and we’ve done some Hulu during the holidays (a great way to catch up on some interesting specials that we probably would not have seen, otherwise).

And I have a fulll queue. At least, an almost full queue, measuring in at well over 450 items. With several of them being available through the “On Demand” queue. If nothing else, I can work my way through the “On Demand” items [and continuing series, if available] and just get the “Disc Only” items, which will clear up my queue a bit. And it will also blast the question, “What movie would you like to watch?” wide open, given a little bit of pre-planning. (It will help to know what’s in the queue, so checking it regularly will be a good idea.)

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The 2010 Resolutions

[started 12 Jan 2010…. finished much later]

So the new year is now a month gone, and I am finally getting the 2010 resolutions completed… They’ve been here, mostly, for a couple of weeks (in draft form, so you couldn’t see them… nener-nener) but still needed some finishing touches. Here they are, finally mostly-polished, and readt to take their feeble first steps into the world.

1) Get weight down… The ultimate goal will be to get to between 175-185 (target), but for 2010, I want to make sure I can get to and stay somewhere around the 190s. Along with this… spend time actually using Wii Fit, and improve my “Fit Age.”

2) Read 26-30 “new” books. [I have already gone through and pulled about twenty books, so far, to work on…] *I made it in 2009. Assuming I can do it again for the next two years as well, I’ll consider increasing the target, but for now, it’s still a good target.

3) (a) Write. The daily routine (500-1000 words per day), with the year’s target being at least: 2 books (50k+ words) [finishing the two “Novels-in-Progress”], 6 short stories/novellas [three a given for class, and probably more that will be specifically going towards thesis plans], 1 script (long form) [draft]. Somewhere in all of this, I hope to also have most (if not all) of the thesis done. At the very least, I hope to have it ready to go so it can be submitted relatively early in the Spring 2011 semester, so I can call it a degree…

3) (b) Marketing and sending submissions out.

4) Train for the local Biathlon (to be held 18 April 10 – 3 mile run, and 15 mile ride).

5) Get “A”s in my classes.

6) Finish cleaning out at the old house. At this point, 99% of what I have left is stuff to be thrown away, which is something that I figure should be my work to do, not somebody elses.

7) Travel – like last year, 1-2 “good” trips, just me and MC, with a few weekend jaunts free of any familial obligations. [The “good” trips are already planned… A trip out to Denver in May so we can check out the area and a school out there that I’m considering for a PhD program, as well as a weekend trip to Boston in July for a conference.]

8) Christmas shopping done by early November. [All of it, hopefully, but unlikely. At least enough to make the traditional “Thanksgiving to Christmas” madness easier to bear.]

9) [Continue to] Send out birthday and anniversary cards, etc. in a timely manner.

10) [Continue to] Work on the photography skills… [Which means, actually, taking a lot of pictures, and carrying a camera around on some of the expeditions… or plan “photo trips”…]… I’m already thinking of some phot trips, as well as possibly taking a couple of clinic-style classes later in the year.

11) Process the Netflix queue – watch 50 movies from the queue. *Having failed to hit the 100 movie mark in either of the last two years, I’m scaling back the ceiling. With the advent later this year (spring ?) of Netflix being able to stream through a Wii, maybe I’ll be able to get close or clear it.

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On "Hills Like White Elephants"

[started on 6 Jan 2010, finished much later…]

There’s a story I’ve been kicking around for a while, and I attempted to wrestle it from an idea to a written page. When I originally came up with the idea for this post, it was still early in the conceptualizing period, before I started actually drafting.

Without telling too much, the stylistic kernal of the story that I’m aiming for is a scene between two people, but keeping their identities vague, allowing it to be read from different perspectives. The model story that I’m trying to play off of is “Hills Like White Elephants.” I was not a huge fan of the story when I was first introduced to it (in High School, I think), and I’m still not a huge fan of the content [focal issue] of the story, but I can appreciate the style/way it’s written…

My efforts, sadly, kept floundering… some of the dialogue lines didn’t feel right, so I have currently reshelved the idea. I’m not abandoning it, I’m just letting it brew a little longer…

In the mean time, after shelving this story, I hopped onto another one that’s been brewing (for at least a year, I think), and knocked it out for my first story of the semester. It went over well, settinga high bar for me to continue with on the next stories… And by the feedback/grading, I think it’s pretty close to being able to be sent out for submisisons…

We shall see…

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