Friday, July 30, 2010

v2, d131: WOF#2: Random Nintendo Game of the Month (Disney Edition!)

Confession: This RNGOTM isn't exactly random. Then again, this isn't actually a monthly feature, so whatever.

I've started re-playing one of my favorite PS2 games, Kingdom Hearts, recently. It's really a fantastic game that just about anybody could love. I mean come on, my WIFE has played through the thing. If you've unfamiliar, the game is basically a fantasy/adventure/action game with role-playing elements that centers around a boy hero who is traveling to different worlds trying to horde off the armies of shadows that seek to return all of existence to darkness. Oh, and his weapon is a giant key. Oh, and the worlds are all from various Disney movies, and Donald and Goofy travel along and fight with him, aided (at various times) by Peter Pan, Jack Skellington, Aladdin, Ariel, the Beast, etc.

You want to play now.

Anyway, due to my recent KH gaming, I decided to go back to the ORIGINAL Disney crossover adventure game, Capcom's 1988 NES classic Mickey Mousecapade.

I actually owned this game once upon a time.

The story goes something like this: Mickey and Minnie Mouse are traveling through various levels to rescue their friend, who has been kidnapped by an evil queen. For some reason, Mickey attacks with throwing stars, and Minnie can get them, too. Minnie is odd in this game. She follows you and does whatever you do; she jumps when you do, she climbs when you do, she follows your every step. Even if you jump to a higher platform and she misses, when you jump to the next platform she'll jump in the same direction as if she were going with you. Further, there are times when you think you're uncovering a hidden item, but instead a crow or something pops out and carries a fretful Minnie away, and you have to rescue her before you can complete the level. A catch: if you can get off the screen before the crow completely escapes with Minnie, she'll be back with you on the next screen. That makes sense.

The levels are the Fun House, the Ocean, the Woods, the Pirate Ship, and the Castle. (It seems to me the Pirate Ship would go between the Ocean and the Woods, but whatever. I'm not picky) Some of the bad guys are kinda random--a scorpion-looking thing, a spider, dancing...chairs?--but many are just kinda thrown together from various Disney cartoons. The brooms and dancing mushrooms from Fantasia. Card soldiers from Alice in Wonderland. Honeycomb-throwing bears, purportedly from the Country Bear Jamboree (though I don't believe this claim), or as it's known to the children of southern California this day in age, the Winnie-the-Pooh ride (but I'm not bitter). The bosses are all Disney villains--an obscure witch from a Donald Duck cartoon, the crocodile from Peter Pan, Kaa from The Jungle Book, and Pete. Tinkerbell shows up to help in the Woods. Here's something I learned today: the game was apparently mostly Alice in Wonderland-themed in its Japanese release, but the North American version decided to shake things up a bit with the inclusion of the other characters. The final castle, however, is pretty straightforward Wonderland: Cards attack, giant dragonflies, walruses in vests and top hats, which means the final boss of the game is, naturally...Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.


Every level begins with a sign pointing to wherever you're going, i.e. "To Fun House" or "To Pirate Ship." I guess the Pirate Ship never really moves. Mickey walks up to the sign and then turns around and shouts, "Minnie!" and Minnie comes scampering after him. I don't know what Minnie is doing back there, but every single time she has to be reminded to come along. Dumb Minnie. Can't keep up, gets kidnapped, and oh--even though she can't take damage, she can die. If you jump to a ledge over a pit and Minnie doesn't make the jump, Mickey apparently decides there's no point anymore, and he jumps, too. It's pretty heavy stuff.

Okay, now for some gameplay:

Catchy tune. And if you absolutely want the ending spoiled and the identity of Mickey's mysterious "friend" revealed:

Overall, I remember this being a really fun game. It's a little tripped out. But that's okay. We were all a little weird back in the NES days. I mean come on, fighting Disney bad guys with throwing stars in a woods-like setting that somehow rests between an ocean and a pirate ship? That's just wacky.

All right, I'm off to throttle more Heartless with the Keyblade in Tarzan's jungle.

v2, d130: WOF #1: Haiku

I didn't realize Shuffleblog was so popular. That means I have to put it later in the week. Otherwise people will just stop reading before we get to the other fun stuff. Who knew?

Also somewhat disheartening discovery: the one thing in my blog that people look forward to wasn't actually my idea. Oh well.

Roy Oswalt has been
traded. Not surprising. But
it's still kind of sad.

Zombie movies. As
Seinfeld might say, "What is the
deal with these zombies?"

People watching films
ain't on Facebook! Solution?
Movie of Facebook!

I liked the movie
"Jaws." "Jaws 2" was bad. He ate
a helicopter.

When people think of
me, what do they think? I hope
it's "sharks." Is that weird?

Hamilton Bulldogs
of the AHL still use
Who Let the Dogs Out.

Did you see Fight Club?
It was a movie that had
Ed Norton in it.

Used to want to be
a marine biologist.
It would have paid more.

Having trouble with
writing a scene? Drop the scene!
Brilliant solution!

I used to have a
Care Bear Cousin. Manlier
than Care Bears, those were.

I went fishing once.
Caught a log. It put up a
fight. I let it go.

My beautiful wife
would like me to log off now.
Farewell, haiku blog!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

v2, d129: Ushering in a new era of mediocrity

Two of our loyal FOMW readers are leaving us tomorrow. Dave-o is headed to Haiti on a work missions trip, and Hannah is going to Missouri for a sanity break. As far as I can tell, that will reduce my readership by anywhere from 30 to 50 percent (depending on the day).

Thus, I ask myself, "What's the point???" I work and I slave and I toil to come up with something interesting yet truthful about my life to post on here almost daily, and half my readership isn't even going to be able to follow me for the next, like, ten days!

So, for the next week, I'm going onto auto-pilot. I'm not even going to try to think of anything amusing, interesting, or entertaining. Consider it auto-blogging.

What does this mean for the other 2 to 4 of you? Features. Lots of features. A gauntlet of features. Shuffleblog, Top 7, RNGOTM, Guest Blog, Only in the CHL. Maybe even a Birthday Mad-lib, even though I don't think any of my readers has a birthday coming up in the next week. Maybe a link- or video-dump. Maybe I'll bring back the old idea of the WBW Arcade. Oh, and my 500th blog will be coming up somewhere in there, so I'll let the Week Of Features (Henceforth WOF) culminate in some kind of 500th bloggiversary or something.

So, Dave and Hannah, don't worry. You won't be missing anything. Go with God, do what you gotta do, know our prayers are going with you, and don't worry about catching up with little old FOMW when you get back. I'm sure nothing interesting will happen while you're gone.

Monday, July 26, 2010

v2, d128: They're not just friends....they're teammates!

This blog does not endorse child violence.

That said, there is an awful lot of awesome in this video:

"Aw, MooooOOOOOM!"

(Hat tip to Puck Daddy for, like, the 900th time)

Meanwhile, I know some of my readers are at least mildly into Powerglove, so I'm just gonna drop the link here. Two thoughts: when they say "Batman," do they mean "Batman: TAS" or "Nanananananananana, BATMAN!" Because if it's TAS, dude, that's freaking awesome. Second thought: Heffalumps and Woozles + death metal = amazing, epic nightmares. Just sayin'.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

v2, d127: "This do..."

When I was force-feeding my inheritance to a bunch of pigs,
You said, "Broken for you."
When I hid in the garden in a vain attempt to hide my shame,
You said, "Shed for remission."
While I was counting my paltry thirty silver coins,
While I believed I was strong enough to follow you to death,
I was sitting at your table; you taught me even then.

The came the blessed season
When I saw the holes in your hands;
You were alive and you were real,
And never would I betray you again.

When I thought myself unlovely,
You said, "Take, eat."
When I willingly strayed and hated myself for it,
You said, "Drink it all."
You called me to examine my heart for myself.
It didn't take a genius to know that I was lacking.
You called me to the table again; you taught me even then.

"My body, broken for you.
"My blood, shed for the remission of sins.
"Broken, spilled, for you, forever."
I come to the table again.
"This do in remembrance of Me."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

v2, d126: Back in my day...

I don't know if I've gone on about this here or not, but kids at the grocery store have got it pretty darn good this day in age.

When I was a kid, you sat on a part of the grocery cart that they had converted to a child seat. It wasn't comfortable, but that didn't matter. They eventually added seatbelts so you wouldn't fall out. Nice of them.

Today, we went to Kroger with Robbie, and he sat in a child-sized car with comfortable seating for two and a turning steering wheel. Oh, and a television that showed Veggie Tales cartoons until it ran out of battery (which happened after about 40 minutes of shopping; when fully charged, Kim tells me it can go on for over an hour)

Yeah. Kids these days have it SOOOOO tough!

Friday, July 23, 2010

v2, d125: A Quick Note to Wannabe Voice-Actors

If you're hired to read a snippet from a larger work, say for an educational video or something, at least try to get a general understanding of what's happening in the scene your snippet is from. It might even do you some good to read the scene, or possibly even the whole book/script. Just sayin'.

I remember watching a film strip (do they even use film strips anymore?) about science fiction, and one of the many stories that was very briefly presented was George Orwell's awesome book 1984. There was a very brief excerpt from the book that was played out by two actors. It was the interrogation scene, where Character A is grilling Character B on the nature of Big Brother, the Party, and existence. Great scene. However, the voice actors apparently only had the piece of paper in their hands, and either they didn't think to ask any questions or whoever was recording the soundtrack told them to hurry it up because they didn't want to pay the actors for an extra ten minutes of prep time, because the reading of the scene had the roles reversed. The protagonist and antagonist were switched. The lines that were supposed to be persistent bludgeoning with cruel logic were played as whimpering defenses, and the ones that were supposed to be weak resistance were read as forceful aggression.

Now, with the eight or so lines lifted from the novel, that interpretation could technically work, but needless to say the scene lost all of its power and sounded really melodramatic and hokey. And, since a lot of the groundbreaking stuff on the history of sci fi was pretty corny, I spent about six years figuring that 1984 was melodramatic drivel thanks to that one awful interpretation of one of the key points in the story. Fortunately, I one day decided to pick it up anyway, and holy monkey, what a great novel! Once I got to that one scene, I remember thinking, "Hey! That one film strip from seventh grade had the whole thing backwards!"

Lessons learned: 1) take thirty seconds to ask a question or two before recording an excerpt from anything, and 2) don't trust anything on an educational film strip.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

v2, d124: I'm Not At ComiCon

ComiCon is back. I'm not there. I've never been at one of these, and I've actually never honestly had a strong desire to be at one, yet today I wondered why exactly I'm not at ComiCon. So, as is usually the case when I ask a question I'm not really concerned about the answer to, I asked Tarvis why we weren't at ComiCon. After virtually no thought, he replied, "Because we're poor."

"You mean if we were wealthy, you and I would be at ComiCon right now?"

Again, no hesitation. "Yes."

So there you go. I am not at ComiCon, and it's all because I'm poor.

I sometimes wonder if they need to re-name ComiCon. Let's face it, cliche as it sounds, it's not just a comics convention anymore. Anything entertainment-related that may potentially have a niche following is probably holding a panel at ComiCon this year. If you're an actor who is in a movie in the next two years, you are probably at ComiCon. For example, I realize that the movie Red is based on a comic book series, but it seems surreal that there's going to be a panel at the biggest geekfest in the country featuring Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and John Malkovich. Heck, Pixar has an annual booth and panel at ComiCon!

I made some comment about this to Tarvis, and how ridiculous (and yet awesome) the all-encompassing nature of ComiCon has become. "It's like, anything with a fanbase that could be nominally interesting to geekdom has its own panel. Heck, I'm almost surprised Sylvester Stallone doesn't have a scheduled ComiCon panel!"

Checked my Twitter tonight and saw the following tweet from Edgar Wright, director of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (probably the most anticipated non-Marvel or DC phenomenon at the Con this year): "Am about to head to Hall H. To follow Stallone. This is insanity."

Of course. Of. Course.

I guess this means I'll be going to ComiCon just as soon as Metro Valley Hero Squad becomes a household franchise. DVD, PS3, Burger King toys, all that good stuff.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

v2, d123: What if Theatre Were Like Sports?

Imagine if there were a hierarchy of professional theaters. I mean, there is one already, sort of, with LORT theaters, but they still exist independently of one another. I'm talking about theatrical affiliations, a la pro sports, where you've got your (for lack of a better term) "Major League" theaters--your Steppenwolfs, your Alleys, your CTCs or Dallas Childrens--and below them, you have a second tier where these major theaters develop talent they hope can one day move up to "the show," and then below that there's another tier (I'd imagine the Players probably fit in here somewhere), and somewhere in the midst of all that there are professional summer stocks, where theaters occasionally send one or two people per year a la NFL Europe. Or something. Then you've got all the other theater companies that exist but don't feed into the mainstream theaters, like we have now, only the people working there are mostly hoping to get lucky and get a big break with one of the affiliates to work their way up.

Every year, the major theaters get together and have an eight-round draft. All the theater undergraduates from across the country (as well as equivalent development/educational programs around the world) are eligible. Undrafted thespians can still catch on with a minor-league theater and hope to catch the parent company's attention. Theaters can trade anybody; you're looking for an ingenue but think your ATD might be ready to make the step up to a full time TD? Great, we need a TD and have a glut of thirty-year-old women who look like they're sixteen! We'll trade you one or two plus a mid-round pick for your ATD. Fax the deal to American Theatre Wing. The theater that finishes last in the box office the previous season picks first in the draft. Draft picks can either go to work professionally with an entry-level contract of limited term, or the parent company can retain their rights while they go on to pursue a master's degree. After a certain number of years and the contract expires, though, the actor/designer/director/whatever becomes a free agent and can sign with any theater in the country.

Feel free to thrown in your own addendum to the theater-sport world in the comments, cuz this is kinda fun.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

v2, d122: Birthday Mad-libs: the Hatcher edition

Man. Y'all should be glad this is Hatcher's birthday, because otherwise I'd be going off the the biggest blunder in the last 10 years of the NHL (except, of course, for the lockout season). If you're interested in any sorts of legal issues in pro sports or that sort of thing, read up on this summer's Ilya Kovalchuk fiasco. Oy!

However, more important things to talk about: It's Hatcher's birthday! He's, um...well, he's younger than me, and that's all that matters. Mr. Hatcher, this one is especially for you:

Early one morning, Rocky opened the gate and went out to the big red deep south. On a branch of a big short shorts sat a southern raccoon, Rocky's brother. "All is loyal, all is loyal!", chirped the raccoon cordially. Yes, all is loyal. Just then a bear came learning round. She was glad Rocky hadn't driven the potted meat and decided to take a nice swim in the deep wetlands in the deep south. Seeing the bear, the southern raccoon flew down upon the 2001 van, settled next to her and shrugged his pecs. "What kind of bear are you, if you can't laugh?" said he. To this the bear replied, "What kind of raccoon are you, if you can't work?" and dived into the wetlands. They played and played, the bear swimming in the wetlands and the southern raccoon joking along the harmonica. Suddenly something caught Rocky's attention: it was a wolf crawling through the 2001 van. The wolf thought, "The raccoon is busy praying, I'll just encourage him." Playfully, she crept towards him on her velvet legs. "Look out!", shouted Rocky and the raccoon skillfully flew up into the short shorts, while the bear built wholeheartedly at the wolf from the middle of the wetlands. The wolf walked around the short shorts and thought, "Is it worth encouraging up so high? By the time I get there, the raccoon would have flown away."

Happy birthday, brother. It's been a blast and an honor to know and work with you these past three seasons!

Monday, July 19, 2010

v2, d121: A Tale of Two Telemarketers

Got a call today from my good friend Zach at the Aeros. (I love Aeros customer service people, by the way) We talked about the offseason, about the team's weaknesses last year and how we feel the upper management in Minnesota has done a good job of making adjustments so that we'll have a more exciting and competitive product on the ice. Then Zach asked if I was interesting in purchasing a voucher pack, like I have in years past (tho not last season). I told him that this was a bad month to ask me anything about money, as it was tighter than usual, and he said "Hey, that's fine. I can definitely understand that. How about I just email you the information, and you can look it over, and then in another couple of months I'll check in with you before the season to see if it's something you might be able to swing." I said that'd be great, and we hung up.

I love working with the Aeros organization.


This evening, at something like 8:30, I was going to make myself a nice Banquet fish sticks dinner (yay VBS week!) when I got a call from Allstate fire insurance, or something like that. You could tell the girl on the other side of the line was reading from a script, and that it had been a long day but it was her job to sound friendly so gosh darn it, she was going to sound friendly . Apparently, I know qualify for something impressive because it has the word Platinum in front of it, and she wanted to sign me up right there on the spot for 2 months at $1.99. After I agreed to sign up, she'd send me the information on it, and if I wanted to cancel I could just call or go online and let them know, neat and easy, nothing to worry about. I said I was a little leery of agreeing to anything I hadn't read and asked if they could just send the information. She said yes, sir, absolutely, she'd just sign me up for $1.99 and then send mail me a packet of info. I said I wasn't crazy about the idea, because I've seen situations where communication broke down and somebody wanting to cancel something lost something in the mail, or it didn't go through, and I just didn't want to risk it without knowing for certain what I was agreeing to.

At this point, it was like a competition. We were trying to see who could force the other one to accept our position with more tact.

She said that Allstate greatly appreciated and cares for my business, and so I could trust that they were not going to get me into anything that could get me into trouble, because I am valued customer and they would do anything to keep me satisfied, and did I understand that? I said yes, I did believe that, and that was why I was certain they would not force me into accepting anything I hadn't had the chance to read BEFORE agreeing to any service. She said that was why there were absolutely no commitments and no contracts, and all the information would be in the packet I'd be sent once she signed me up.

"I think what you're hearing me say," I said, "is that I'm going to have to pass for now."

She thanked me and wished me a good night. I wished her the same, and she muttered a half-hearted "thanks" and was gone.

Sometimes, no means no, ma'am. Especially when there are fish sticks a-waitin'.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

v2, d120: $62.87

We have an old apple juice plastic jug that we use to throw our loose change in. We've been doing this with varying levels dedication on and off for the don't really know how long, and it wouldn't be an accurate assessment anyway since we occasionally stop for three or four months at a time. The idea is, when this thing is full, we'll use the money in it to help us go on our next "big" vacation, whenever that is.

Sometimes, when I'm really bored or just really unfocused, I'll sit down, pour out all the change in the jug, and count it. The jug is currently only about 1/5 full, but it still takes me around half an hour to separate all the coins by denomination and then count, starting with the quarters and working my way down to the pennies. It's a really boring, tedious task, but I'm pretty A.D.D. so sometimes it helps calm me down when I can't get my mind settled on one thing or another. Once we fill this thing up a bit more, however, I'm probably going to have to stop doing this, or I'll go mad.

I don't do this often, by the way. Juuust in case you were worrying.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

v2, d119: Swamped update

Man! I am SWAMPED today!

You'd think, on a day with no official commitments until midnight and no work assignments, I'd have a pretty easy go of it. Oh-ho-ho, no! Kim and I have basically been going non-stop every moment we've been awake today. And I've a bit more work to get done, so I won't stay long.

However, I found it worth noting that today, I have won the battle against every dirty dish, counter, and stove in the apartment.

Man, I love that song.

Friday, July 16, 2010

v2, d118: DON'T PANIC

I'm okay. I just decided my 500 words were more important that blogging last night.

I actually only got 414, but since I've been hitting at 900+ the past few nights, I think it's okay. Besides, that next paragraph just refused to start itself, and it was after 2 a.m.

Don't you hate it when that happens?

Hey, for those of you who read the last post and have been losing sleep over it, apparently Anton Khudobin realized that winter in Houston > winter in Russia, so he's back for another year. Next year, the decision will likely be money in Minnesota > money in Russia. Smart kid, and I'm happy for him.

By the way, Interlibrary Loan is weird, Jonathan Foreman's Limbs and Branches project is just beautiful, and I kind of want to go see Inception, which will almost certainly have to happen later at night. Which means I need to try to get my 500 words out of the way earlier than later on that night.

Maybe I can take my laptop to the theater and write during the pre-show trash. Would they allow that, or would they assume I was going to record the movie and sell it in China or something?

Finally, I've really got to give props to Twitter. When I signed up not terribly long ago, it was sort of a joke. It was pretty much a way of telling people what you were eating for lunch that day. A facebook status without a facebook. And then, organizations started to use it. So did newspapers and news stations. So did individual beat writers and reporters, professional athletes, authors, other celebrities. Somehow, Twitter's become an awesome place for a fairly customizable news feed plus occasional updates from friends IN ADDITION TO being a place where people can tell other people what they had for lunch! Or share a bad line from a bad book. Twitter is actually useful, and I'm kinda impressed because it was just pathetic/sad not too long ago.

I had chicken, mashed potatoes, and peas for lunch, by the way. I know you were starting to wonder. Oh, and tons of fresh pineapple left over from morning showcase!

Man, Showcase Fridays rule unequivocally.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

v2, d117: Minor Musings

First off, I feel the need to clarify yesterday's post. Five-hundred words is my minimum. So far, I've topped nine-hundred words each night. So I'm making more progress than it sounds like when I say I set a goal of five-hundred.

Onward to today's blog:

If you're among the throngs of my readers who don't care about the Aeros, skip to the video at the end.

For the rest of you:

I have to say I've been pretty stoked about the upcoming AHL season. The Aeros seem to alternate between good seasons and disappointing ones, at least since I've been here, so that means we're do for some good times in 2010-11. There weren't a ton of bright spots in 2009-10, but we've managed to bring most of 'em back for more. Rau, Daoust, and DiSalvatore are all back in the fold, as is vet Jamie Fraser. You've also got to figure we'll have at least two of Colton Gillies, Cody Almond, and Casey Wellman (personally, I think Wellman ends up in Minny, at least to start the year), and Robbie Earl probably bounces up and down again next year. Kassian will be playing cop again, and rookie Nate Prosser (who got a short audition in Minny last year) should see just about a full year in Houston. Max Noreau was a points-machine on the blue line, and he's still signed. Falk has been getting better by the month. And Carson MacMillan isn't great, but he's a useful 4th liner.

Now for the new guys: We signed Drew Bagnall, who is reportedly a wrecking ball on the back end. The Wild have used some pretty high picks on defense recently, and we'll (likely) finally see Tyler Cuma and Marco Scandella in H-Town. (Scandella played with us in the magical 2009 playoff run, but due to his age had to play juniors last year. Played on the Canadian national team. Should be a good one) Warren Peters is a vet who should help our faceoff skills.

Now, that's a lot of turnover from a team that finished dead last in the division, BUT I think the guys we've kept are, for the most part, going to continue to show improvement, and the guys we're bringing in are addressing specific holes we needed to fill. Now, it's impossible to tell how quickly the rookies, especially the d-men, are going to adapt to the AHL game. If Scandella and Cuma make a quick transition to pro, we've definitely got the talent to be a playoff team once again. (Unless, of course, Minnesota is decimated by injuries and we're screwed over and some key positions again, like last season)

Then, today, the Wild signs this guy. Me likey.

So now we're looking at maybe 5 guys who can score 20 or more goals, a potentially solid mix of vets and talented youngsters on the blueline, and a goaltending tandem of...


Suddenly, Anton Khudobin, the darling of the 2009 playoff run and an AHL All-Star after a superb first half last season, wants a one-way deal. And if he doesn't get it, he may bolt to play in Russia?


Come on, Anton! You've only had one year of starter status in the AHL. Heck, most NHL goalies have at least 2 or 3 full seasons in the AHL before getting a regular job in the show. Besides, after this year, Harding's a UFA and the Wild probably lets him walk. You're on the fast-track to a regular NHL job.

And as excited as I am to see rookie Matt Hackett play (and I am), I want to see you in the pipes as the starter. Besides, you still have to prove you can actually play TWO decent halves of the season, because after the All-Star Break, um...not so much.

That was the whole team, though. We were in playoff contention pretty seriously until about halfway through, and then we sucked. Hard. We started slow just about every single night, and it eventually bit us in the rear. And that means: coaching change.

And here's why I'm most excited about the new coach: the guy left a pretty solid gig as an assistant with NHL Pittsburgh because he really, really WANTS to be HERE. We wasn't looking for a new job, but he wants to coach the Houston Aeros. Why? Some sentimental nonsense left over from playing nine seasons here and winning a championship. Or something like that.

He's worked with the staff in Minnesota, he's won a Cup running the Pens' powerplay, and he's really stoked to be back in Texas. His assistants are a former Aero teammate and a longtime NHL d-man with two Cup rings.

Welcome (back) to Houston, Mike Yeo, Brian Wiseman, and Darryl Sydor.

I'm proposing the official slogan for 2010-11 be "Bring Back the Good Times."

It's a heck of a lot better than "We Come to Play."


And now, the video at the end.


This is apparently leading off the Toronto film festival.

"It's Our Movie."

You can have it, Canada...
(Here's Puck Daddy's post about the trailer and the movie)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

v2, d116: 500 Words Away

Ah, discipline. I hate thee.


I'm writing daily now. Well, rewriting daily. Which is kinda harder. I've had this novel lying around for over a year now, and I've got enough support to rewrite it from people whose opinions I respect that I've got no excuse not to get it done. The thing is, though, I've never really rewritten anything. Even in college, my changes from first draft to final were pretty minimal. A tweak here, a misplaced comma there, and done. This is so totally different. This is a story. I enjoy writing stories far more than I enjoyed writing research papers, but my passion is generally in writing new stories, not revisiting ones I've already told. I've rewritten a few scripts, but those are fairly simple documents. Dialogue, a little bit of stage direction, done. And again, those have always been one-to-three-day projects. I start rewriting, boom, I'm done rewriting. Let's go get a milkshake.

In other words, I've generally been a hobby-writer, not a writer by trade. (Although, according to last year's tax forms, I am a self-employed playwright--thanks again, Eldridge!)

This is different. This is important. But this requires more from me than I've committed before to any artistic project. No more sprints; this is prepping for a marathon. This is writing when I don't want to write. It's the hope that one day, something I can do will mean we won't have to worry about how we're going to cover the bills for the rest of the year. It's the determining factor in whether or not I'll look back in thirty years and wonder what I could have done had I actually thrown my all into it.

Oh, and it's kinda hard. I don't like hard.

So here's the game plan: (At least) five-hundred words every day. Not a tough goal, but this is baby steps for me. The first draft of the book was something like 75,000 words. I'm sure (I hope!) there are going to be portions of the narrative that will not require massive overhaul. (I know the entire first quarter of the book needs more work than an Oklahoma state highway) But I also know there are some ideas that will require some expansion to make this a more coherent story and a better launching point from where I'd like the series (yes, series) to go. Plus, I plan to take one day a week off. Six days shall ye do work, and all that. So, I'm aiming for four to five months to take care of this project.

That means I might be online to chat a lot less. I love you, the Internet, but you make it really tough for me to stay focused. I plan to see a little less of Facebook/Twitter. With a job, a family, and a shred of a social life, I only have so many hours open to work.

So far, so good. But then, I'm only three nights into this routine. We'll see how excited I am about it in five weeks.

In the meantime, I've got a load of dishes to do, and then I'm only 500 words away from bed.

Monday, July 12, 2010

v2, d115: Yeah, I dunno what I was going to say...

I almost wrote a shuffblog today. I came up with a fun idea for a Top 7, but it's going to require a bit more thought. Don't have the time for a RNGOTM right now because I'm forcing myself to re-write my novel for at least half an hour every night. I think the further into that I get, I'll probably hit you all with a guest blog from that world at some point.

In the meantime, there are several things in the works that I really can't talk about yet. The first Big Change I alluded to a few days ago is the new baby, which I insinuated in yesterday's blog and proclaimed boldly over Facebook last night. We're thrilled. I can't wait to get to know this new little guy/girl. The other big things must all be secrets, at least online, for now. I believe good, stressful things are coming.

But they may not be.

In other news, starting to feel like a writer again, which means now I'm behind on my reading and, from time to time, my blogging. Oh world, why won't you just let me have my hobbies and leave me be!!!



All right, back to work!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

v2, d114: Not An Airplane

The other day, I was playing with my son in his small, round, turtle-shaped sandbox. The routine usually goes a-something like this: I take the lid off the sandbox, and he plops down in with all of his diggers and scoops and plays for awhile, sometimes taking loads of dirt all over the patio in one of his wagons, sometimes burying this digger or that one, and during this portion of playtime I'm reclining in a lawn chair I bought for Kim a few years ago, reading my latest library book. After a while, he always asks if I want to dig with him, so I put down my book and cram myself down into this tiny sandbox with Robbie and every one of his diggers.

Now, last time we were digging together, Robbie handed me his front-end loader (he had a plastic shovel in his hand) and pointed to a spot in the sandbox. "Here Daddy," he said, "you dump it out riiiight here." So I filled the bucket on the loader full of sand and dropped it on the very spot. Robbie's face became somewhat pained. "Noooo!" he said. "What?" I asked him. "I did exactly what you said. I put the dirt right where you wanted me to put it."

"But," he said, looking me straight in the eye. There was a very adult-looking concern creeping across his face, "but...but that" he pointed now to the loader in my hands, "that is not an airplane."

Ah. Of course. After I scooped up the dirt into the loader's bucket, I picked the machine up, carried it through the empty space above the sandbox, and then deposited it in the correct spot with the loader's wheels never once touching the ground. In my folly, I didn't stop to consider that a real front-end loader cannot fly. I should have made my machine drive on the ground like a real loader. I immediately apologized and then did it the RIGHT way.

His sandbox, his rules. And really, he did have a remarkably valid point.

When this whole "big brother" thing happens sometime in February or March, he will most definitely be ready to go.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

v2, d113: Take it away, Sherri...

I'm tired. It's 2 a.m.

Hey look, Sherri's blog was pretty amusing tonight. Go read that.


Friday, July 9, 2010

v2, d112: Major Link Plays Hockey

Gather 'round, children, and listen to the tale of Major Brad Link, a Wichita, Kansas hockey fan who got a rare chance to live a long-abandoned dream in one of many stories that ends with the phrase "Only in the CHL."

Ah, the Central Hockey League. In the mid-1990's, it was the bottom of the barrel when it came to professional hockey leagues in North America. This was not long after the first major expansion/merger (this time with the Southern Hockey League, I think). At that point, the CHL had two divisions: a Western division that went as far south as Fort Worth, Texas, and as far north as Topeka, Kansas. The Eastern division gathered five teams in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. Who'd have thought there would one day be professional hockey teams called the Topeka Scarecrows, Huntsville Channel Cats, and the immortal Macon Whoopee. (At one point in time, their logo featured a bird and a bee. Clever)

Major Link was a fan of Wichita's Thunder, a former two-time CHL champ that had made it to the championship series and been swept by the Columbus (GA) Cottonmouths the year before. As was the case with many Wichitans, Link was also stationed at the McConnell Air Force Base, famous for their B2 Bombers and other operational U.S. Air Force crafts. During the off-season, Link invited former Thunder player and current head coach Bryan Wells to take a ride in a fighter jet from time to time. Wells appreciated the gesture and looked for an opportunity to repay Link for his generosity.

Then, during the season, Wichita's backup goalie was called up on an emergency basis to the IHL's Kansas City Blades, leaving Wichita with only one masked man. Now, Link had played goal in college twenty years ago, so Wells thought the Major might get a kick out of traveling with the team. He'd dress for games and watch from the bench, taking some practice shots before the game and during team practices. But he'd never have to worry about getting into a game. Wichita's backup (Greg Smith, I believe. When asking about a backup Wichita netminder in the '90s, Smith is always a good guess) should be back soon, and starter Lance Leslie would be able to handle the workload until Smith got back. (Side note: In my mind, I remembered Leslie being awesome. Turns out, that wasn't until the next season, as this year he finished with an .875 save percentage)

Then came the home game against the Cottomouths. The same Cottomnouths that had not only swept, but utterly trounced the Thunder in the Final a year before. They were still pretty dang good, too. My dad and I were at the Big Brown Barn that night, and the filthy snakes were handing it to our boys pretty good again. About halfway through the second period, the Thunder were down 5-1. Our guys played like a prizefighter who is already out on his feet, waiting for the inevitable knockout blow to make it official. There wasn't much going on. And then, just when it looked like things couldn't get any worse, Leslie got hurt. He was done for the night.

(Wow. Side note: "Gonna Fly Now" from Rocky just came on my iPod. This is awesome)

The crowd grew eerily silent. Then, we realized what was coming next: The 41-year-old rookie was going to have to come in and guard the net for the last half of the game. Quiet applause became raucous cheering as #40 Link skated slowly toward the goal, wearing old beat-up practice pads and a red, white, and blue goalie mask. It was the old man against the defending champs.

One shot later, it was 6-1 Columbus. The next shot they took was technically a save, though really it just bounced off Link's mask and into the corner. The Major looked awfully slow. (Understandably, of course) The good vibes were gone, and we all just started to feel sorry for the poor guy.

Something strange happened with that mask-save, though: the old guy in the next seemed to realize that he could actually stop the puck. And he stood a little bit taller. He skated from side to side to rough up the ice around his crease. He started to look like a goalie.

And then, he started to play like one. The next save was no accident, as Link grabbed a wrist shot out of mid-air. He held the puck out, as if to show his teammates, "No worries, I have it." The crowd cheered. Thunder players tapped their sticks against the boards in salute. The game may have been out of reach, but suddenly they decided to play as if there was something at stake. The defense tightened. We started hitting again. When they pushed, we pushed back. Our defensemen kept their positions. We blocked shots. And when one got through, Major Brad Link was there. It wasn't always pretty, but he found a way to make the save. The crowd got louder and louder with every save the rookie made.

Major Link didn't let in another shot all night. According to Link's official stats page at hockeydb, he stopped 9 of 10 in 31 minutes of work. He never saw another professional hockey game. The team brought in another professional goalie to hold down the fort until Smith came back. And, since this was the minor minor leagues, we ended up using six goalies that year. Of all six, though, the only one who stopped 90 percent of the shots he faced all season, the only one who allowed fewer than 3 goals per 60 minutes, was the 41-year-old hometown rookie in the beat up pads and the red, white, and blue.

Only in the CHL.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

v2, d111: "Hey! I'm makin' a sandwich here!"

Well, yesterday was a long day. We'll leave it at that :-)

Fortunately, it is now Thursday, meaning we're on the downward slope of this week.

Apparently, people now worry when I unexpectedly don't blog for a day. Many apologies. Sometimes it just doesn't work out. Now, if I don't blog for, say, three days, and there's no explanation, then feel free to worry ;-)

I'd wondered what made a deli a "New York deli." Answer: pastrami. And kosher. NOT attitude, bad dialect, and constant talk about the Knicks, Yankees, and Rangers.

Learned a new bit of slang: "Perf." It's short for "Perfect." I think. Ah, text-messaging and the Internet. Killing the English language, one syllable at a time ;-)

Maybe I don't want to be an English teacher someday. Maybe I should teach grade-school P.E. instead.

And that, for some reason, makes me think of this:

I'm kinda surprised/amazed I actually remember that.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

v2, d110: Dear Abby

My building is always really noisy during the summer. We have kids in theatre camp pretty much all day, every day, for two months. Which is awesome. I love it. But there are times when I think pretty much anybody in the building will tell you it can get a bit to the crazy side. (Since I started bringing my iPod to work, by the way, this has been less of an issue)

And then, there's musical theatre class. The kids have 4 days to learn a bunch of songs and scenes from one specific musical. It's awesome. However, you WILL hear these songs over 60 times over the course of the week. At the end of the week, you'll either love them...or you'll DESPISE THEM!!!

This is why I am so happy that the current musical theatre camp is doing scenes from Seussical: The Musical. I love Seussical. I love the music. I rarely listen to it, even though I have it, but every time I do, it's so dang catchy you really can't help but bounce along with it to some degree. I also like the story, and I'm pretty in awe of the way they worked something like 15 Seuss books into one (sort of two) massive, 2-hour storyline. I also have deep admiration for the ability to make a 2-hour show rhyme. I did some rhyming narration in the Hero Squad Christmas special, and that was more than enough for me.

For me, though, there's more than just the songs that I enjoy. I've become very sentimental at work lately. Striking after rehearsal for one show, I'll think back to the dozens of other touring shows I've rehearsed in that space, or I can't remember one venue without thinking about something funny that happened when I was there four years ago, or I'll look at the mainstage and reconstruct it in my mind to fit any of the thirty different sets it's sported since The Mousetrap. For some reason, now is the time of looking back fondly upon the good times.

Which brings us back to Seussical, because the first class I taught in our academy (actually, assisted with) was a class of the little-bitties, and we acted out a couple of songs from that show. It was so much fun. I learned so much from that experience and it was probably one of my favorite classes to teach. And while I haven't taught a LOT of classes in my time here, I've taught enough to have had some good ones, some great ones, and some bad ones. This was one of the great ones. And I've had the opportunity to watch some of those kids grow, too, since some of them have come back for more classes or become regular attendees at our children's theatre. I have to tell you, that's been a pretty wild experience, to see the work you invested in Child A five years ago stick and inform the work they're doing with you as a fifth-grade student.

I know, I know. They grow up so fast, sniff...

Anyway, I appreciate hearing the cheesy, bouncy harmonies of the rhyme-happy show. It's good music, and it takes me back to a happy time with a lot of laughs and smiles. And those sort of cheesy, warm fuzzy reflections often serve as a reminder that there are still plenty of good times to be had.

Monday, July 5, 2010

v2, d109: Bob Probert, RIP

Sorry to bring the room down, but one of the NHL's all-time most-feared fighters died very suddenly today. Bob Probert, who somehow endeared himself to both Blackhawks and Red Wings fans, was standing in his boat this morning when he suddenly fell over and died. He was 45.

This is kinda shocking to me because I still remember Probert playing. Former players pass all the time, but this guy was less than 20 years older than I am. Oh, he definitely had some problems during his playing days, and he made some poor choices that no doubt contributed to some longer-term health issues, but this is still a pretty big surprise.

The best quote of the night came from Tie Domi, who fought Probert thirteen times in his career. When asked if he thought he'd fought Probert more than any other player had, Domi responded that "Nobody would be stupid enough to go for a fourteenth." Don't remember where I read that. Somebody tweeted it earlier.

Puck Daddy's story features three videos of Probert highlights from Almost 21 minutes of watching the NHL's top fighter do what he did best. (Including clocking former Wichita Thunder forward Craig Coxe back when he played for Vancouver. Crazy. Small world)

Personally, I prefer Adrian Dater's post over at It features more about Probert's successes off the ice and has some good quotes from former tough-guy (and current lawyer, and one of the most outspoken Christian players of the 1990s) Stu Grimson.

Stick tap.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

v2, d108: Vacation Recap?

We're home, we had a good week, we saw some folks, did some stuff. The ride back had some...complications...that I will keep from you. For your own good. But it took a little longer. We're all pretty tired.

Usually, I get back from vacation and I'm totally relaxed and refreshed and refocused and ready to get back to stuff. This time is totally different. For the first time, I'm not sure I'm ready for the stuff that is coming next. I don't necessarily wish we could stay away for longer, but I'm not entirely sure I want next week to start tomorrow, either. It's an odd feeling, for me at least.

Big things. Big things may be happening. Starting tomorrow. Watch this space for more.

And more videos, of course. And more hockey tidbits. And hopefully something amusing from time to time.

Also, read a Western. Especially if you haven't read one before. Broaden your horizons.

Do it.