Monday, September 23, 2013

It's Classical Monday!

Something classy to start off your week.  You're welcome. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Ukulele Man

If you check out my Flickr, you've probably already seen this. It was something I started to write as a joke, and then I ended up kinda liking it, so I decided to share with a (slightly) wider audience. 

It's eleven o'clock on a Friday
Me and my boys hanging out
Neither one's jumping on top of me
But that'll change quickly, no doubt

Then my son finds this old ukulele
He's not really sure what it's for
So I tighten a string and I pluck a few notes
And then he starts beggin' for more

La la la di dee da,
La la, di da da dum

Play us a song, ukulele man,
Play us a song today
Yeah this thing's just a toy, but it brings your dad joy
Whenever your song starts to play

Then I hand Isaac back the small instrument
To see what he'll do with it now
And his eyes say "I know this makes music
I just gotta figure out how."
Then his eyes scrunch up in concentration
As he gingerly fingers a string
And he bites his lower lip as he plucks it
And the thing makes a magical "ping"

Oh, la la la, di da da
La la, di da da da dum

Then my boy starts to pick each and every string
Studying every noise
Then his fingers start strummin' and he begins hummin',
That thing becomes more than a toy

It's a pretty good song for a toddler
When he's finished, he finally grins
And I know that my baby loves music
Almost as much as I love him.
And he carries it around for the rest of the day
Till his ukulele time is done
In a year, he won't even remember these days
In a year, I'll wonder where they've all gone

Oh, la la la, di da da
La la, di da da da dum

So play me a song, Ukulele Man,
Play me a song today
Though the world may be full of grand-masters
You're the one that I want to hear play

Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Try not to think too hard, Vivi, sometimes you have to smile..."

This post has nothing to do with that song, but it's been stuck in my head lately.  Longtime readers of the blog will know that I'm at least a passing fan of The Internet's Brentalfloss, who built a solid youtube following putting lyrics to old school video game music.  Lately, he's been branching out and doing some originals, and they're better than his "with lyrics" songs.  And even though I'm not familiar with Final Fantasy IX at all, this song is just incredibly catchy.   (With the warning, should you go exploring, much of Floss' stuff is, shall we say, not at all family-friendly) 

Anyway, here we are.  I did survive the month of May.  Go me!  And two of my four jobs have now successfully wrapped up.  Woohoo!  This month is also going to be taxing, but in a different way.  I have a week-plus break between ball games this month, but most of it will be taken up by preteen camp.  And every day I'm at home I'll have both boys, which will be physically and mentally exhausting.  But life is good, friends :-)

And we're having another baby in December.  Have I mentioned that yet?

Really, I just wanted to pop in to say I know I haven't been around blogger a lot lately, and that's actually not likely to change in the short-term. I've got two big auditions later this month that I really  need to get work done on, and I have not one, not two,  not three, but four writing projects in various stages of development right now, at least two of which actually involve *gasp* research.  So blogging may take a backseat for the time being.

Really, you should be following my flickr feed if you just really want a slice-of-my-life.  A picture may or may not be worth a thousand words, but it generally takes less time.

So, just dropping in to say hi, I'm good, how are you?  I may not have time to write again until early July.  Vacation is on the horizon, though, my friends!  This will be some well-earned time off, I tell you!

(Sorry for the lack of an informative or entertaining entry; however, if all you get out of this blog is the Vivi song, then this blog is still totally worth it)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

When you say "busy"...

All right, time for an explanation, I suppose.

Last week, I alluded in the Justice Gator post to the fact that I was having an unbelievably long, busy week. I did feel bad, leaving everybody hanging with no new blog content.  This week has been quite a bit easier; next week will be bad again.  Though not quite as bad as last week, knock on wood.  Truth be told, I've been saying to myself for a couple of months that, once I get through May, I think I'll live to see 32.  But really, it's been more a matter of "once I make it to 5/12, I've got a fighting chance to make it the rest of the way."  So I will try to walk you through my week, so's you know where I's coming from. 

This isn't a ploy for sympathy, mind you, because I'm not complaining.  Just a window into the life of a guy with four jobs, two kids, and one car.  For any of you who are thinking of pursuing such a lifestyle yourselves :-)

Monday: Monday was weird for a lot of reasons.  For one, I only got about 2.5 hours of sleep the night before.  You might think this was because I was out at Iron Man 3, but it wasn't.  I actually still had a shot at about 4 hours of sleep at that point, and 4 hours is not too far from my norm these days.  For some reason, I just couldn't fall asleep when I went to bed, and then I had to wake up at 5 to catch the bus for my booking in Katy.  Made it to the 5:50 bus on time and stepped off my 3rd bus in Katy at 7:02 (like clockwork). Then, I received the news that my grandfather had died that morning right about the time I was falling asleep.  Grandpa Alex and I were not particularly close.  In fact, I rarely saw him the last several years I lived in Kansas, and the only times I saw him after that were after he moved in with my parents.  He hadn't lived a particularly admirable life, at least not where family goes, and he also spent most of his life pretty adamantly avoiding God.  Over the past few years, I would see him when we went up for Christmas, and I'd take the boys.  By that point, he was in an assisted living facility and it was clear he wasn't always 100% "there."  All this to say it wasn't a major emotional blow to find that he was gone, but it was still quite a bit of a surprise, and it did make for a very surreal morning.  (I forget if we had 2 or 3 performances that day, but I think it was 2)  I kept trying to contact home to make sure everybody was all right, and my mom assured me that my dad was doing very well, which I admit I found puzzling because I know how hard my dad had been praying for his dad, and now it seemed like he was gone without having ever changed his mind about Christ.  Later, I learned that, in grandpa's last day, he had a window of mental clarity during which he spoke with the nursing home chaplain and, in that time, he did accept Christ.  Once I learned that, I understood why my dad and his brother had been taking this so well.  Because Grandpa Alex was ready to go.  His body had been going downhill for years.  Ditto with his mind.  So for God to grant him that last bit of mental clarity, that last chance for redemption, and for Grandpa to have taken it--I'll just say I'm stunned anew by the grace of God, and I can see now why Grandpa's passing was more of a celebration than a mourning.  Because all the time that was lost by his choices in this life is nothing compared to the time we'll have together in glory. 

Anyway, after my performance on Monday, I was dropped off a the bus stop to learn that I had missed my bus by five minutes.  (This happens ALL the time)  It was about noon by this point and the next bus going downtown (to begin my 2+ hour commute back via the metro system) wasn't due for another 45 minutes, so I decided to walk back down the street to grab a bite at Fuzzy's Pizza, which I'd never tried before.  It was great.  It also took longer than I expected, so I also missed the next bus and had to wait another half hour. I think I finally made it home sometime between 5 and 6, but most of the details from that day are pretty hazy.  I don't remember anything from that night except tiredness.

Tuesday: not as bad a Monday.  I did get closer to 5 hours of sleep. Which is...good?  Normally on Tuesdays I go in to the church for staff meeting, but I called off that day because I was in dire physical need of rest.  I decided to run some errands in the morning and then snooze in the afternoon.  However, the "getting a new phone charger" errand ended up taking about three and a half hours.  Long, uninteresting story.  You've all been there.  So by the time my errands were done, it was time to get the boys, get Kim, and head to the ballpark for the night.  Fortunately, I was one of the ones cut loose early, so it was only a 4-hour shift.  That hurts the bank account somewhat, but it suited me just fine, knowing the rest of the week was still ahead of me.  Plus, I was tired.  Unfortunately, since Kim and the boys had dropped me off, I didn't have the car, so it was buses home for me.  Which means I still got home a little after midnight.

Wednesday: Wednesday was almost a normal day. My morning call-time was fairly late, so I didn't have to wake up at 5 to catch a bus.  Instead I took the boys to school and the sitter and took Kim to work before catching the train downtown to catch the bus to Katy. Also, the booking ran late enough that I scheduled myself out from the ball game, so I was able to come home as soon as the booking was over.  (Again, it was two performances, I think)  I even planned on going to bed early (10:30 p.m. or so) that night. 

Didn't count on the baby getting sick. 

Blah blah blah, rock-a-baby, rock-a-baby, bottom line is bed time was actually 3 a.m.

Thursday: Thursday was rough because Isaac was still sick.  He was cranky, he cried all day, he wouldn't sleep for longer than half an hour, I hurt my back carrying him all night and day.  It was a long day.  And then another ball game.  Again, I was fortunate to go home early, but unfortunate to be headed home on the bus. 

Friday: And we saved the best for last.  Bam!  Five o'clock wakeup call.  Triple performance.  Bus back into downtown, kill a little time at the library instead of coming all the way home, walk to the ballpark for a full game PLUS fireworks.  I will say I was again awed by God's grace, as I actually lasted this day much better than I expected to, especially given the previous four days' worth of activity and sleeplessness.  But I made it, I made it, I made it.  Thank God it's the weekend.

Saturday: Only I have to teach two acting classes on Saturdays.  Well, I more "assist" with the first and teach the second.  But this day almost got me.  I had to step out of the room for a few minutes during the first class to steady myself.  Getting a bit jittery, you know?  But I got myself under control, finished up the class, put some food in my stomach, and finished strong.  And then, of course, went to work another ball game. 

So there you have it.  Seven performances, four ball games, two acting classes, and about 24 hours of sleep over 6 days.  Next time I say "I've got along week ahead" or "I've had a really busy week," you now have a frame of reference :-) 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Justice Gator

I know I haven't checked in this week.  Trust me, it's been a long week.  However, I needed to pass this story along about a man who robbed a car, eluded police officers, was attacked by an alligator, and was arrested in the hospital.  However, according to state law, any gator that attacks a person has to be put down, so if they ever find Justice Gator they have to kill it.

It's pretty much The Dark Knight, only with an alligator. 

This article is totally worth reading just to get the neighbors' reactions at the end. 

Fight on, Justice Gator.  We'll chase you, because you can take it.

Friday, May 3, 2013


Moses supposes his toeses are roses, but Moses supposes erroneously. Moses he knowses his toeses aren't roses as Moses supposes his toeses to be. 

It occurred to me on the bus last night (around midnight, after getting a full 5 hours of sleep for the first time this week--context!) that this makes no sense.

Unless Moses is dealing with some sort of deeply-rooted psychological denial, he can't suppose something he already knows is untrue.  At least, not when it comes to toes.  (I'm not gonna say we haven't all supposed something we've known wasn't true at some point in our lives, generally while in love) If Moses knowses his toeses aren't roses, then he doesn't really suppose that they are roses.  Just makes no sense.

I mean, right? 

So I spent the last leg of my long commute home working it out.  I finally came to the conclusion that there are two Moseses in this story, and the sentences are just ambiguously worded.  This isn't all that unusual, especially where Moses is involved, because the Bible does this all the time.  Seriously, there have been times when I've had to go back and reread a verse four or five times to make sure I knew who was doing what to whom.  ("And so he went with him, and he with him.  And on the way, he took what was his and hit him, and thus they became enemies from that day forth.")  Upon this realization, I tried to piece together which Moses thought what about whose toes.  I am assuming here that Moses 1 (or "Moses Prime") is actually biblical Moses, because how many other Moses (Mosai?) would you bring up, first-name only, with no other explanation?  Obviously, at least one more, because we get no clues on Moses #2 either, but I am assuming that this was to make a bit of a play on names once Moses Prime has already been introduces.  There have been  a few other prominent Mosai throughout history, my favorite of which was Harriet Tubman.  However, Harriet was a she, and so she doesn't fit my hypothesis about the pronoun confusion above, so we can't use her.  A quick Google search for "Famous Moseses" yields the following: "Did you mean 'famous horses'".  Which, of course, I did not.  I was going to go with NBA Hall-of-Famer Moses Malone, but eventually I decided on Moses Martin, seven-year-old son of Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay's Chris Martin, because you could see this kind of misunderstanding happening between a hero of both Jewish and Christian faiths and a seven-year-old.

So, Moses (prime) supposes his (?) toeses are roses.  This could very well mean Moses Prime supposes Moses Prime's toeses are roses, but Moses Martin, he knowses Moses Prime's toeses aren't roses as Moses Prime supposes Moses Prime's toeses to be.  And now the song makes sense.  Contrariwise, you could say that Moses Prime supposes his (Moses Martin's) toeses are roses, but Moses Martin knowses Moses Martin's toeses aren't roses, as Moses Prime supposes Moses Martin's toeses to be. 

Either interpretation now make sense. 

Except something was still a bit off, at least in my mind.  Why would Moses Prime call either his or Moses Martin's toes "toeses"?  I suppose even Moses Martin is old enough to have moved past that stage developmentally.  Thus I began to wonder if there wasn't a third someone in this scenario.  Someone who may have said the word "toeses" and Moses Prime, unfamiliar with the term, assumed he said "roses" while Moses Martin clearly understood the word uttered as "toeses."  And then the final piece clicked into place.

You know where this is headed, people.

And that is how, just after midnight and after too many hours on the bus and too few hours of sleep, I determined that the song above is actually referring to a misunderstanding between Moses, the son of Gwyneth Paltrow, and Gollum. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Happy Day to Me

Hello, Thirty-one. 

It used to be it would feel strange when I'd say my new age the first couple of times.  "How old are you?"  "Twenty-six."  Twenty-six?  Dang, that sounds so old!  Surely that's not me!  Nowadays, not so much.  I generally feel way older than I actually am.  So thirty-one sounds just about right for me.

I hid my birthday from Facebook this year because something was just sitting wrong with me about the literally hundreds of well-wishes from folks who probably don't even think about my existence until FB reminds them that it's my birthday.  Honestly, I don't think there's anything wrong with that.  I appreciate the reminder for my FB friends' birthdays and like the chance to send well-wishes, even if I don't really "keep up" with them.  But I didn't want that for me this year, for whatever reason, so I hid.  And to be honest, I've had a very nice, quiet day.  Admittedly, my day started too early when Isaac decided we needed to get up at 5:00 on the one day I was going to get to sleep in until 6:30.  But aside from some general fatigue (who's got two thumbs and is working at the Juice Box tonight?  This guy!  And those thumbs come in handy at the workplace, believe me!  Actually, I always wonder if that saying ticks off people who've lost fingers in construction accidents.  But I digress) it's been a very nice day. We're not doing "anything special" for my birthday, which is another something I'm fine with.  Sunday night, Kim let me go to what will almost certainly be my last Aeros game as a sort of present to myself. Tuesday, Kim took all the time to make not one, but THREE lasagnas (the other two in the freezer for another day), which is my absolute favorite dish.  Last night, she and Robbie made a new dessert called a cookie dough cream pie.  Oh my gosh, you guys.  It's so good.  And unbelievably rich.  And today?  Just sort of a normal day.  Talked to a few family members, got a few texts.  Even got a text from the future late last night. About to go get Robbie, then go get Kim, then get dropped off at the park for work and get in late tonight. 

Oh, and once again Marvel is giving me an awesome movie for my birthday, but I'm not going to get to it until Sunday night. 

On the whole, life is good :-)

Looking ahead to Year 31: I have a feeling it's going to be a big one.  I can see how year 29 was like the start of a new chapter. In a lot of ways, it was about breaking me down, teaching me. This past year has been about building back up, growing in new ways.  And it feels like it's been building toward...well, now.  Maybe I'm just used to trilogies, but it feels like this is going to be a big year for my family and I. 

And in that vein, I've resurrected my flickr 365 project.  Think of it as a sequel.  A photo-a-day diary of the opportunities and changes that come our way between now and May 2, 2014.  Maybe we'll get to the end, look back, and say, "Yeah...turns out Year 31 was actually pretty boring." 

But I doubt that'll be the case. 

Anyway, check it out.  (It's boring right now, but there's more pictures to come) If nothing else, you'll get to see my cute kids' smiling faces pretty much every day.  That's worth thirty seconds of your time daily, right? 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Hold up, wait a minute

Quick post before I get to bed, because 5:00 comes awfully early in the morning and I've got my first booking + ball game day tomorrow.

So, we'll just hit the highlights:

*Saw the movie 42 this weekend.  Well, most of it.  I had to jet out of the theater at what I assume was the ending in order to get the MMP on time.  Pretty good flick.  Harrison Ford was phenomenal.  I actually thought he was John Goodman for half the film.  I know you're thinking Harrison Ford looks nothing like John Goodman, and you're right.  But heck, this day and age, nothing surprises me any more.  He could have been John Goodman in motion-capture gear with a leaner CGI body.  Anyway, it took almost half the film and a couple patented Ford-grins before I remembered that Mr. Ford was supposed to be in this movie, and that he was supposed to be fantastic, and I realized that  yes, yes he was.

The rest of the film was...ok. I enjoyed it, it got an emotional response from me.  I loved the story, I liked the way they did Jackie's character, and that actor did a good job, but something seemed off about the film as a whole.  It felt like a collection of scenes that were from a great movie about Jackie Robinson, yet somehow it didn't come together to form a great movie about Jackie Robinson.  It had that awkward sense that it was too long, yet everything went by too quickly.  Which is usually just a case of trying to do too much in to little time.  Example: Jackie calls a young woman early in the film.  By they way they talk, I assume it's his wife.  Then he suddenly proposes to her.  Oh, okay. It was his girlfriend.  Next scene, they're married, and they're discussing their life together, and you realize you really know nothing about either of their characters or their relationship so it doesn't have the punch it ought to have.  Another great example: during an early spring training game, Jackie's wife goes to the restroom, not feeling well.  Another woman asks how she's doing, and she replies, "I'm sick.  Don't know why."  The other woman inquires, "When was the last time you had your monthly?"  Then there's a great moment where Jackie's wife lets the unspoken implication of the other woman's question sink in.

And then, apparently just to make sure that the men in the audience understand what's going on, the other woman adds "It might be that you're pregnant."  Then she leaves.

Next scene: it's next spring training, and they have a baby!

Again, I know they had a lot to cover, but everything flies by so quickly it's hard to get attached to anybody but Jackie and Harrison Goodman.  That said, the story of these two men as portrayed in the movie is excellent.

And it seems like all I talk about on here is movies these days.


In "Measurements and Conversion Tips" news: apparently 15 pounds is approximately equal to one hole on your belt.  Good to know!


I'm teaching an acting class.  It's for 4th through 9th grades, which is unusual but has been working surprisingly well.  The topic for the class was already selected before I signed on (one week before I started teaching).  We're using The Hunger Games as a entrance point into the discussion on tactics in acting.  For not having initiated the class or the idea and for not having read the source material until a few days before my first class. I think it's going really well!  It's become very character-oriented which has ultimately turned into a discussion of writing.  And if you know me at all, you know teaching/mentoring and writing are some of my very favorite things.  So teaching/mentoring about writing?  Awesome!  Unfortunately, this takes away my Saturday mornings, which was when I was supposed to catch up an hour or so of lost sleep during the week.  I'll find those hours somewhere, though.


The Aeros are officially moving to Iowa.  This'll get its own blog eventually.  It was fairly obvious that this was coming.  Some saw the writing on the wall back in September.  I actually believed until about a month ago that they'd work something out.  Eventually, though, it became obvious that The Toyota Center had no interest in keeping the Aeros around.  And despite knowing it was coming, I will admit that Thursday was a bitter day.  It hurt.  And once I start talking about it, I know I'll get pretty ticked off again. Tonight, the Peoria Rivermen played their last game.  Fans stayed around 92 minuets after the game was over to applaud their team.  My heart goes out to 'em, but also knows we'll be in the exact same boat at some point in the next two months.

Calder Cup Playoffs 2013: One Last Mission.  Going to be an extremely bittersweet ride.


Bit of a downer, eh?  Well, I hate to end on an unhappy note, so check this out, courtesy the folks at Real Photobombs!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Come for the Wrath, Stay for the Titans!

I finally watched Wrath of the Titans just now.  Checked it out from my local library because I like movies that have people fighting giant monsters.  Saw the remake Clash of the Titans at the movie theater and it was fine.  Big, loud, dumb, but fun. And yes, I've seen the wildly imaginative original as well back when it was on TNT all the time.

Now I know what you're thinking.  I haven't seen that movie, but I want to know pretty much everything that happens without actually watching it.  

Gotcha covered, Home Slice.

The movie starts out with some narration that basically says "The last movie happened, and time has passed.  Oh, and Perseus' wife died."  Which I think only happened because she didn't want to be pegged for the rest of her career as the chick from the Titans movies, so she went to make classy films like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.   Anyway, now Perseus lives as a simple fisherman with his son, Helius.  It's a good, quiet life, with no more adventures from meddling gods!  Until a meddling god shows up.  It's his father, Liam Neeson--or rather, Zeus, but really I just kept thinking of him as Liam Neeson throughout the film.  Liam says that people don't pray to the gods anymore, so the gods are all losing their power, which means that everything they've done will be undone, which means that Tartarus, the prison of the terrible titans (but basically just Kronos) is slowly coming undone.  Liam says that all the demons of Tartarus will invade earth, and that some already have, and that only Perseus can save everyone because...I don't know.  But Perseus says "No more monsters!  I want to live with my son and be happy!"  So Liam Neeson leaves.  Also, you learn that Perseus promised his wife as she was dying while delivering their son that Helius would never learn to use a sword.  Which makes sense, because Perseus is a warrior, and his woman was a warrior, so they don't want their son to learn to defend himself in a world with monsters because...I don't know. 

Down in the Underworld, Liam Neeson meets up with Poseidon and Ares and Hades to discuss how to stop Kronos from escaping.  However, Ares betrays them because he thinks Liam Neeson love Perseus more than him, and Hades betrays them because come on, when is Hades not the bad guy?  So Poseidon gets smacked around and Liam Neeson gets captured because Kronos needs to absorb what's left of Liam's divine power to finish escaping from Tartarus or something. 

Meanwhile, monsters are attacking earth, and what is supposed to be a chimera attacks Perseus' village.  I have to say that almost all the monsters in this film are pretty huge disappointments. The shaky camera angles that scream PANIC! PANIC! TERROR! make it really hard to see what's going on in any of the fight sequences, and when you do get a "clear" shot of a monster it either looks horrible or is an indistinguishable mess of fir, teeth, and drool--like the chimera.  Anyway, Perseus gets the chimera to set itself on fire and then goes to the temple to pray to Liam Neeson. But Liam doesn't show up, because he's captured, duh.  Fortunately Poseidon arrives, having escaped Ares and Hades by...I don't know.  He tells Perseus that he has to go find his son Agenor who is with Queen Andromeda and, if Agenor is worthy, to give him Poseidon's trident. Then Poseidon turns into a pillar of salt.  Or dies.  Or something.

Perseus rides his flying pony (yes, I know it's actually Pegasus) to Queen Andromeda's army, and everybody loves him because he killed the Kraken in the last movie.  Andromeda shows up and she's all happy to see him, and apparently they're old friends, and she's leading the army and she's all suited up for war, and you look at her and think "That looks far more like a Jane Bennett than a Queen Andromeda."  Then you IMDB it and realize that's because she is Jane Bennett.  And yeah, she's a twig.  There's no way she could possibly hold a sword if it weren't a prop. So you just call her Jane Bennett the rest of the movie.

Jane Bennett helps Perseus find Agenor, who's a scoundrel and a thief in the prison, and the three of them embark on a ship with some dispensable minor characters to find The Fallen One.  Perseus apparently decides that Agenor is worthy before he's even done anything, because he gives him the trident pretty freely, but that's good because that's what helps them find the hidden island where The Fallen One lived after he was...blah blah blah, they meet crazy old Hephaestus, who can never decide how to spell his name.  At first, you think Hephaestus is going all Gollum on them, but it turns out he's actually arguing with the creepy golden mechanical owl from the original Clash because...I don't know.  He pretty much tells them they're nuts for trying to go after Kronos, but then he sees Jane Bennett and says, "Hey, you remind me of Jane Bennett!"

Actually no, she looks like his wife Aphrodite, so he agrees to help them find the labyrinth, which is apparently a shortcut to the heart of Tartarus because...I don't know.  .

(By the way, this is the only time Jane Bennett is remotely useful in the entire film)

Oh, and they fought cyclopes.  I forgot to mention that.  The cyclopes looked terrible and for some reason they spoke a different language from everybody else.  But the one other woman on the adventure (Jane Bennett's friend) prayed to Ares, which was dumb because Perseus clearly told everyone "Don't pray to Ares or he'll show up and kill us."  So that's what Ares does to all of the expendable minor characters, proving the tried-and-true Law of Questing that you should never bring more than one woman on a quest.  Perseus, Agenor, and Jane Bennett escape into the labyrinth.  Boring stuff happens, and Perseus fights an extremely disappointing minotaur, and meanwhile Hades and Liam Neeson are talking, and Liam keeps calling Hades brother and says they should join forces, and Hades says he's scared, and Ares is a jerk to both of them.  And after Perseus gets separated from others, and after they decide the map that Hephaestus (the guy who built the frreakin' labyrinth) gave them was worthless, they somehow all find each other right on the doorstep to Tartarus just as Kronos has drained the last of Liam Neeson's power and is almost free.  So Ares tries to kill Liam Neeson, and Perseus is all, "Daddy!  Noooo!"  And Ares knocks him around.  And then Hades totally changes his mind and tries to help, so Ares smacks him around. And I don't remember if Jane Bennett gets smacked around here or not; she gets smacked around pretty much any time they're a reason to draw a sword, so they all kind of blend together. She does, however, try to cut Liam Neeson's chains with her sword, but fails miserably. Liam tells Perseus to use his power within, and then Perseus takes the sword and is all, "This is a man's job!"  And he hacks the chains down with no trouble at all. 

And then they escape.  Right to where Andromeda's army is setting up camp.

Liam Neeson is dying, and he tells Perseus he has to use the Ultima Keyblade to beat Kronos.  It's made up of the Thunderbolt of Zeus, the Trident of Poseidon, and Hades' Pitchfork, which I think needs a better-sounding name. And they have the pitchfork and the trident, but guess who has the thunderbolt?  Ruh-roh, it's Ares!  So Perseus prays to Ares to meet him far away from everybody else who could help him.  Jane Bennett and Agenor prepare the army to fight Kronos, and the lone cool-looking monster in the film shows up:  the Makhai. Apparently, they're not used very often in myth, and in the movie they're basically these two-torsoed death-warriors, fighting back-to-back and constantly spinning, cutting down soldiers in a circle as they plow through the army.  It's pretty creative and rad.  Jane Bennett even stabs one!  Then she gets thrown to the ground and is pretty much done. Agenor lights a bunch of stuff on fire, which doesn't do much.  Hades shows up and heals Liam Neeson, and the two of them show up and wave their hands around and blow the makhai to bits.

Meanwhile, Perseus and Ares fight.  Ares brought along Helius, and Perseus says "Don't hurt him!"  And Ares says "I'm not going to hurt him. I'm going to hurt you.  And make him watch."  Then he kisses Helius on the head because..I don't know. They fight, and Ares keeps smashing Perseus' head through stone columns and walls, causing Perseus to bleed slightly.  (See, now Perseus is fighting for his son, which makes his skull turn to adamantium)  Once Perseus is down for the count, Helius picks up a sword, and Ares turns his back on the hero to laugh at the kid.  When he turns back around--gasp!--Perseus has moved, and the good guy jumps on the bad guy (who looks like a hairy Ringo Starr, for the record), stabs him, and takes the thunderbolt.  Then he puts the three items together to form Voltron.

No, not really, they form the Ultra Spear of Light and Goodness. And off he goes on the flying pony.

Kronos shows up, and it turns out he's just a really big molten lava man.  Which is disappointing in ways I can't even begin to explain.  Liam Neeson and Hades hold him off for a while as they say the word "Brother" and the end of every single line.  "Come on, Brother!"  "Let's finish this, Brother!"  "The first strike is mine, Brother!"  "We're totally brothers, Brother!"  (In case you hadn't guessed, all is well in their world again)  Then they tick of Kronos, who sends a massive attack at them.  Liam Neeson pushes Hades out of the way and somehow absorbs most of the giant wave of black doom.  During the distraction, Perseus flies into Kronos' mouth, since apparently Kronos has to swallow the Ultra Spear because...I don't know.  Kronos explodes because...I don't know.  And everybody cheers.  Zeus dies and Hades says "Well, I've used all my power."  And then he leaves, because...I don't know.

Back in her tent, Jane Bennett is suddenly planning battle strategies in case there are more attacks, because apparently she missed the Lord of Darkness and Molten Lava blowing up.  She also took time to change and get completely beautiful again despite the fact that everybody else in the army is grimy and bloody from the war.  Perseus comes in and kisses her because...I don't know.

And Agenor calls himself Helius' uncle because...I don't know.

And Agenor tells Helius his nurse's name is Tiger.  And she and Helius both laugh at this because...I don't know.

And then Perseus finds Helius on a hill, and Helius says "I think it'll be great to go home and be a fisherman!"  And Perseus basically says, "You know we're never going back there."  Because...I DON'T KNOW!!!

So Perseus gives Helius a sword, and Helius says, "It's heavy!" And Perseus says, "Dude, if Jane Bennett can carry one of those things, you can."  And Helius says, "Yeah, you're right. I got it."

And then the movie is over.

So, this movie was really bad.  And I know you're saying, "Duh.  You watched Wrath of the Titans. But even for a bad movie, this was no good.   Story was boring, characters didn't make any sense, and the Creature Feature factor was a major disappointment.  They kept slamming the "fathers and sons" angle over your head.  I mean, if a guy who will admit to enjoying the original Titans remake and the first Ghost Rider movie says your sequel's got problems...well, your sequel's got problems.

So naturally, Clash of the Titans 3 is currently "in development."  Though I understand it's not exactly full-steam-ahead at this point, it is unfortunately too far away from "not at all in development."  Because I know me.  And I know at some point, I will likely be checking Math of the Titan from my local library.  Just out of curiosity.

Monday, April 8, 2013

In Which I Actually Say Some Nice Stuff About 3-D

Sunday night, I finally made it to the theaters to catch the newly remastered 3-D edition of Jurassic Park.  You might think it's a bit melodramatic to say "finally" after seeing a film on Sunday that was released the previous Friday, BUT after I tried unsuccessfully to see the movie on Friday night and twice on Saturday night, it felt like it was a long time coming. 

Like, sixty-five million years coming!

Or, you know, twenty years. 

Man, what a phenomenal film.  It really is a modern classic.  And as much as I hate to say this (and believe me, I hate to say this), the 3-D really makes it look sharper, crisper, and better than ever.  See, I generally hate 3-D, but that's because it's usually used as a gimmick, with shrapnel flying at the audience's face, monsters making scary faces up close and personal, or evil giant kings' eyeballs popping out for a cheap gross-out factor.  Given the choice, I will almost never pay the extra money to see a film in 3-D if there's a 2-D option. 

Of course, there wasn't in this case, and in the end I'm glad I saw it in 3-D because they really utilized the technology well.  I actually really love it when filmmakers use 3-D to give the film more depth and definition, to create a more realistic and engaging atmosphere without trying so hard to "jump out" at the audience.  I actually expected a lot of that from JP.  Lord knows there are plenty of opportunities.  However, they never really went for it.  They just used the 3-D to make the film look sharp, and it was beautiful. 

(Side note: another effective use of 3-D I've seen in theaters: Nightmare Before Christmas.  Just gorgeous.) 

I ended up going to the movie by myself mostly because, when you've got two kids and four jobs, you just can't go to movies when normal people go to movies very often.  Now, I wasn't out super-late...I mean, it was a 10:10 showing.  On a Sunday night. But I've been out later :-)  Nevertheless, the theater I was in was completely empty.  At one point in the movie, and older Japanese couple walked in, headed to the back, talked very loudly to each other for a few minutes, realized they were in the wrong theater (I guess), and then left.  I was the only person watching Jurassic Park in 3-D at 10:10 on Sunday night at this little movie theater.  And I will admit, my first thought was something along the lines of "Wow, it kinda sucks being here alone.  I really hoped the resurrection of one of my all-time favorite flicks would be more of an event."  Soon, however, I got past the pity-party and said, "You know, if you'd told eleven-year-old me that one day I would get a private screening of Jurassic Park in 3-D, I'd have thought that was pretty stinkin' awesome."  So I just went with that for the rest of the night :-)

As for the film itself, I don't know what to say about it.  It's great.  I picked up on a few plot points that are maybe just a bit sketchy, of course.  But I also found a lot of subtle nuances that I missed as a pre-teen that made the whole thing a lot more solid.  The critic in me also found some spots where shots were cut together or scenes edited a bit abruptly, but I can't tell if that was somewhat shoddy editing or if we just cut our films a little different in the early '90s. 

Man, it is so hard to think of this as an early-90's film.  It doesn't look it, it doesn't feel it, and while the effects have, in some areas, taken a backseat to the WETA's of today, I think in most places they actually hold up quite well. 

Hey, what was Malcolm even doing on the island?
LAWYERS: We are facing a $20 million lawsuit because of that worker who was eaten by Raptors.  We demand to be satisfied!
HAMMOND: It's all good. This mathematician has officially endorsed the park.
MALCOLM: Chaotician, John.
HAMMOND: Whatever.
LAWYERS: We are now satisfied!

Anyway, watching this movie again, I got a little bit sad that there'll never really be another movie like it.  It was so groundbreaking, so earth-shattering, that everybody wanted a piece of the action.  It had incredible creatures unlike anything we'd seen before as moviegoers.  And they were dinosaurs!  This movie brought dinosaurs to life!  I will say this movie probably changed the way that boys my age (all of us twenty-and-thirty-somethings now) thought about movies.  This movie blew us away.  It was like a literal representation of our dreams and the wildest corners of our imaginations projected on a larger-than-life screen.  We were enthralled, captivated, utterly and helplessly swept away in the adventure.  You can look back at the standards from your childhood--favorite movies, favorites TV shows, favorite songs, whatever--and there's always a nostalgia for them.  But JP is a movie that grown men still get stoked about, twenty years after seeing it in the theater. 

I guess this was sort of like my generation's Star Wars.  Minus the wildly-successful sequels, of course. 

And just like Star Wars, this is a movie that'll probably only be truly appreciated by those of us who lived in the era that produced it.  In another five years or so, Robbie will watch this movie with me, and yeah, he'll like it.  But he'll have seen so many special-effects-laden adventure flicks by that point that watching a robotic T-Rex head rip tires off an overturned jeep isn't going to be the same for him that it was for me.  Hopefully, as he grows older, he'll start to appreciate the clever writing, the storytelling, the ethical debates, the score, maybe even the movie's place in film history, but it'll probably never blow him away.  My generation still loves Star Wars, and some even obsess over it, but quite honestly a lot of the obsession in that instance has come from the post-film expansion of the universe.  Kids today still love it, but they love it more for the Clone Wars TV series than, say, the Ewoks or the Death Star. 

Now, it sounds awfully curmudgeonly to say something like "They just don't make 'em like that anymore," but...they really don't. We rely so heavily on the CGI effects now.  When we have monsters eat people, we have to see a lot more blood these days.  And the language in JP is remarkably tame compared to many PG-13 film you'd see today.  JP didn't just look good, but it was smart.  And while there are still films that are smart, clever, and exciting, and there always will be, for thousands of men (and women too, I'm sure, but I can't speak for that side of the table), there'll never be another Jurassic Park. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Short answer: Just Because



You haven't blogged in a week.


Since Monday.

I blogged last Wednesday. did?


Huh. Somebody told me it was last Monday.

Have you been talking to Sherri?


She's taken a few too many confetti eggs to the head lately.   

I see.  So, where were you last week?

Well, short answer: I was in tech.  Sort of.  As close to tech week as you get when my church does a production.

Ah, Easter show?

Yep.  Good Friday, technically.

And this is the script you mentioned in last week's post?

Yes.  It went over quite well.  I'm working with a buddy in the hopes of putting some original choral music to it and then seeing if we can get it published.  That's a highly competitive market, though, so who knows if anything will happen.  I will say I don't know if it fits too handily into the cookie-cutter "Choir Easter musical" category, so that's probably working against it.

Why do you say that?

Well, we performed it with music from a different Easter musical, and the whole thing was about an hour in length.  Now, I found a few places I want to trim down dialog, but that's still a little longer than usual, since most churches' pastors want to make some closing remarks that'll push twenty minutes or so and most Easter musicals are typically performed on Easter.  Plus, the scenes are a little longer than you usually find.  Most of the time, choir musicals are light on the drama and heavy on the music.  This one was closer to a 50/50 split.  If the music thing doesn't work out, I may one day just try to sell it as a straight play, but I think it'd be much more effective with songs as interludes.  The concept for the play--and really, it's an idea I took from one of my favorite J. C. G. plays, was that we covered all the scenes you usually cover in an Easter musical--you know, the triumphal entry, the Last Supper, the crucifixion--but you don't actually show any of those scenes.  Instead, you get them from another perspective.  For example, the scene of Jesus throwing out the moneylenders is relayed by a woman to her friend preparing for family coming for Passover, or Palm Sunday is seen from the perspective of the angels in heaven.  That was actually my favorite scene to write, at least conceptually.  The result is clearly not the best thing I've ever written, but it serves its purpose well.  And like I said, the crowd at my church loved it.  And these people have been through a lot of Easter musicals in their day.

Well that's good.  How was the rest of your Easter weekend?

Good, but busy.  You know, one day, when I'm not the Director of Children's Ministries any more, I'm actually going to get to sit through an Easter service. Instead, it's counting eggs, sorting eggs, hiding eggs.  Then we came home and had Kim's delicious, traditional Easter lunch.  Ham, green beans, mashed potatoes.  You know.

Boy howdy!  

Then I think I fell asleep briefly on the couch before heading out to the ball park for opening night.  Man, that was fun.  The park was rocking all night long.  There was a hailstorm at one point before the game, so we had to open the doors early and it cancelled the fly-over.  But things cleared up in time for fireworks at night.  And of course the home team won, big, against a pretty big rival with a lot of fans present.  All in all, just a great night. 

Of course, all the folks and all the activity made for a long night, and when I got home at 11:45 I thought to myself, "My 5:00 a.m. wake-up call is going to come awfully fast."  So of course, I couldn't fall asleep until 1:00. 

Why do you work 3 part-time jobs again?

I asked myself that very question recently, and the short answer is: because I love all of them.  The fact that we need the money helps, too.  But I really do love each of my jobs.  I'm blessed beyond belief right now.  Even though it's very difficult to make everything work most of the time, I believe it's good work, all of it.  In a way, every one of my jobs is some sort of outreach or service.  Everything I'm doing deals directly with people.  I mean, even at the ball park. There are those occasions where something I have a chance to say or do can absolutely make somebody's day--either a guest or one of my coworkers.  And that's the sort of thing I live for.  Don't get me wrong, hanging out and watching the games is great, too.  But really, I love the chance to make someone's day. 

Take our performance this morning, for example.  We were crammed into a tiny classroom in a community building in the 5th ward.  This is poverty.  This is, "I didn't know this still happened in America"-level poverty.  We were told that 30 percent of the kids at the preschool (in the community center) come from homes with no electricity and 20 percent come from houses without water.  Driving to and from the performance, you could see homes with holes in windows, holes in walls, holes in roofs.  And this is reportedly much better than the way it was only ten years ago.  The room we were in was too small and the A.C. wasn't working, or wasn't on, or didn't exist, I don't know.  It was hot.  We were sweating like crazy the whole show.   It was uncomfortable.  And I'm used to uncomfortable, because let's face it, I've been in a lot of touring shows.  But this one was pretty miserable.  Afterward, a couple of the kids came up to give our webbed-footed ballerina a hug.  Then, she was mobbed by huggers.  Shortly thereafter, kids moved from her to the gabby goose standing nearby. Then these kids got it in their heads that they should hug all of us.  Now the ballerina's a given; that's not unusual at any school we go to.  And the goose is also very pretty, so that happens from time to time, too.  And honestly, I can understand hugging the gentle, motherly dog character, too.  But the horse?  And myself?  (A military frog; also the only boy in the show)  Hasn't happened before today.  But these kids were collecting all the hugs they could get.  And I wondered how many of these kids get hugs at home every night.  I'd put money that there are more than a couple who don't.  Today, we filled a need in their lives.  Not a need for entertainment, but a starvation for love.

Now, yeah, that's an extreme example.  Most days, I don't get a chance to hug little kids who don't have lights or flushing toilets in their homes.  But whenever I teach, whenever I perform, whenever I greet folks or chat with out-of-towners about Houston, or the Juice Box, or baseball in general, then I'm doing what I'm supposed to do.  And not just what I'm hired to do.  What I was made to do. 

Well.  That got deep.

Yeah, well.  I recently saw Olympus Has Fallen, do you want to talk about that instead?

How was it?

Eh.  It was fine.  There was lots of face-stabbing.


Yeah. Seems like an odd thing to have as a motif, but there was quite a bit of our hero stabbing terrorists in the head.  That was just sorta how he rolled.  

That's disgusting.

They did take over the White House. 

Anything else you'd like to add?

Um, just thanks to the four or five people who check this blog regularly.  And thanks to anybody who saw that this was a longish post and read the whole thing anyway.

All right.  Until next time, then, The Truth Fights Like a Panther.

Hippos are more fierce.

Fine, but the truth doesn't fight like a hippo.  It fights like a panther.  

You know that panther isn't an actual species of cat, right?  It's a variant of one of several other large predatory cats.  

Why are you being mean?

Why are you being willfully ignorant?

How do you know I'm not referring to "panther" as the legendary multicolored creature ridden by Dionysus in Greek myth?

Are you?

Thought not.  Hey, chin up, buddy.  Panthers are still fierce.




Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Writing About Writing (More or less)

I realized something yesterday.  For the first time in almost two full years, I don't have a writing project ahead of me with a deadline attached to it.  In September of 2011, I agreed to write a Velveteen Rabbit adaptation for the Players to perform the following February.  As I was finishing that, I also agreed to write an Easter script for my church that didn't happen, partially my fault and partially computer problems. Shortly after VR opened, I had agreed to pen two new plays for this season.  Over the summer, I asked if I could turn one of them into my first musical, and so I began discussions with the composer--my first collaboration--in July sometime.  Also during the summer, I taught a week-long class and used it to write out an idea I'd had for a script for a few months.  That one I wrote late into the night and early in the morning for about three days so it would be ready in time for class. 

Thumbelina was hard.  Finding time to write was difficult.  Writing out of sequence was different for me.  Coming up with lyrics I could live with was tricky.  Working with another artist was an adjustment.  There were a ton of challenges, and I finished the script more or less at the last possible minute.  And even then it required massive trimming to fit a manageable time for what the theater wanted.  The end result was very solid, however.  It was just more of an undertaking than anything else I'd done, writing-wise.  Once that was up, I made good (one year later) on my promise to deliver an Easter drama for the church.  (We're rehearsing that this week)  Then I set to work on Jungle Book and got that one done with more time to spare than I'd had for Thumbelina, but still much later than I'd hoped for.  So I chatted with my friend at the Players' about what I wanted to do for next season, and he was on board with it.  Finding writing time was (and is) still very difficult, but Kim and I worked it so that I could go in and write on weekdays when she could be off work, and over three or four or so of these days, I finished up a new (more accurately, re-worked) Hero Squad adventure for next spring. 

That, my friends, is more like it.

It has been a hard couple years for writing.  When I worked full-time at the Players, I could write at my desk as part of my day-job.  Watching Isaac, that doesn't work so well.  Often the only time I have to work at home is after everyone else is in bed, and most nights I'm too exhausted and/or wound up to really get much done at that point.  It has truly been work just to be able to work, for Kim, for the boys, and for myself. 

And yet, as I came to realize just yesterday, in that difficult span of time, I've managed to put out six finished one-acts that, if I may say so, have all been pretty darn good, at least for their intended purposes.  Three have been produced, two are currently in rehearsal, and one will hopefully see the lights of the stage sometime in 2014.  Some of the deadlines have been stressful.  I failed to meet most of my self-imposed deadlines.  I failed to meet one deadline altogether.  But for the most part, as time has gone on, I've been getting better about figuring it out.  Nevertheless, the realization that I don't have a "finish script x by date y" hanging over my head for the first time in a long time was a refreshing one. 

For about eight hours.

Then I realized I'm not working on anything, and I discovered that I am most happy when I have a project.   Maybe I'm a workaholic.  Really, though, I just think that I never feel as "right" as I do when I'm writing, or thinking about writing, or yes, even stressing about writing.  I know I may not always have the opportunity to pursue this interest, but for now I do, and I thank God for it because I can see what a blessing it is.  The opportunity as well as the craft itself. 

I do have a couple projects in mind, by the way.  I know which one I want to tackle next.  I will not give any details (either here or in person, sorry!) because I don't know if it's going to happen yet or not and because, quite frankly, it intimidates the heck out of me.  Plus, I need some cooperation from a certain organization to even get started.  I will only say that, if I start down that path, it'll be easily the most ambitious thing I've ever attempted.  (Artistically, of course)  Which means maybe now's the time for it. 

Before another pesky deadline pops up ;-)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Feature Friday: Only in the CHL

I thought that I was likely done with this feature, given that I've only actually attended one Central Hockey League game in the past eight years and I've used most of my good CHL stories already.  Thanks to the ever-watchful Internet eye of Yahoo!'s Puck Daddy blog, however, that glorious symbol of my youth keeps finding its way back to my awareness with awesome things like turkey-hunting-turtle jerseys.

So when this video came along, I thought, "Yeah, that might make a decent Only In the CHL post."

Admittedly, I know nothing about Harlem Shake other than it seems to be one of those things that everybody hates despite the fact that everybody seems to love it.  But watching an entire team break it down at center ice post-game to the delight of the home crowd is a fun thing to watch.  And it's the Rapid City Rush of the CHL, for crying out loud.  Where tacky is kinda the rule and really, it's all about having a good time.  So I'll give it a pass.

This next entry, on the other hand...

Okay, first off, if you're not familiar with the fantastic Herb Brooks Pregame Speech scene from the film Miracle, go get acquainted.  It's a great scene from a great sports flick. 

A few years after that film, four-year-old Josh Sacco watched the movie so many times he actually memorized the entire speech, so his dad recorded it and posted it on youtube.  It was (and remains) one of the greatest things on the Internet.  The kid was on Ellen and was invited to sporting events around the country--hockey, football, baseball--to do the speech for fans and athletes.  He even gave the speech to the US men's Olympic hockey team back in 2010 in Vancouver.  It's probably not a stretch to say more Americans know about Brooks' inspirational speech because of Sacco than because of Kurt Russell. 

What does any of this have to do with the CHL?

Wellllll, the Allen (TX) Americans apparently had an evening presented by McDonalds, with special jerseys and everything auctioned off after the game.  ("Special" jerseys are unbelievably abundant in the CHL)  And...and

Just watch.


Yeah, I'm done. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

The recovery blog, I guess

Currently blogging on my laptop while stretched out on my couch while watching the Wild/Canucks game on my phone.  2013 is awesome.  I'm so glad the world didn't end in 2012. 

My last blog post ended with "Duty calls, folks." I've often thought that, if I am still blogging until the day the I leave this life for the next, my final blog post will have some sort of fitting sign-off.  For example, when my boyhood pastor passed away (December of 1999) he had been working on a sermon for the last Sunday of the year.  The title on his sermon notes was "Jesus is coming--are you ready?"  And the Bible on his desk was open to the verse about keeping watch, since you never know what hour the Lord will come.  Maybe one day (preferably after meeting my great-grandchildren :-)) I'll end a blog with something like, "and if that's all I'm remembered for, all these years later, I can be happy with that."  Or, knowing me, something much simpler and more appropriate, like, "Dang. I'm tired."  And then that'll be like my Internet last words.  Either one I'd be fine with. Either would have its own sense of poetry.  And really, don't we all want a poetic end to our days? 

Side note: I really want to read Gilead again.  Actually, I really want to read anything again.  I have yet to finish a book in 2013, though I've started many.  What a strange year it's been.

Anyway, as you could probably guess from the last blog about my family members getting sick and then no Friday Features blog (I even played half an hour of Ecco the Dolphin for a RNGOTM--and yes, I know Ecco isn't Nintendo, but then again the feature isn't monthly either, so what's in a name?)--holy cow, Clayton Stoner just scored.  That happens, like, once a year--I got sick over the weekend.  Basically, we all traded stomach bugs.  Actually, I started with a head-cold and some congestion, but I didn't get a chance to tend to that because Kim and Isaac got really sick and so I had to take care of them until I got really sick.  It actually started to look like Robbie had dodged the proverbial bullet (now they're giving Charlie Coyle credit for the goal--sorry Stoney!) when, at about 2 p.m., we got the call from his school. You know the one.  The one that goes, "Please pick  up your kid, he's throwing up."  Poor guy.  He's pretty broken up about it.  He told me today was a bad, horrible, horrible, terrible, awful, bad day, and that he doesn't have enough words to say how bad it is. 

So, more taking care of sick family members tomorrow, now that I'm (mostly) over my own bout.  Wednesday we have our first audience for Ballerina, and then we embark on our three-bookings-a-week schedule.  All kinds of adventures ahead between bookings and baseball season. 

It is good to be alive, friends. 

(Oh, and a quick recap of Ecco: I imagine this game was developed by a man whose children were constantly bothering him about how much fun it would be to be a dolphin, so he finally got sick of it and made this game to show them that it would not be fun at all.  Actually, I think what happened was I played a bad ROM of the game, because the youtube footage I saw looked much smoother than the version I played. It's actually a pretty innovative game for its time, but I can see how it gets boring quickly.  I did Wikipedia the story of the game, though, and it gets crazy. Like, time-traveling-dolphin crazy, and then some.  The sound was a little grating on the ROM that I played.  Every time Ecco would get hit by a jellyfish he emitted this ear-piercing shriek.  Which is probably true to life.  It was kind of funny, because I had the screen door next to my computer open while I was playing, and every time I'd get hit and Ecco would wail (pun only slightly intended), it would drive some dog downstairs absolutely crazy.  True story. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My kingdom for a good night's sleep!

Well, we're all sick. Nothing gross, just sick, tired, congested, and all that crud.

Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration.  Kim's not sick yet.  But she did have a migraine tonight, so she's miserable, too. 

I noticed it at about 11:00 this morning and it just sorta got worse as the day went on.  Around bedtime, Robbie started coughing quite a bit, and listening to him sleep I'm fairly certain he'll "have it" by tomorrow.  And Isaac just woke up about half an hour ago feverish and crying quite a bit.  I held him and we watched Veggie Tales until he calmed down.  Now he's in the pack and play watching the rest.  I'm hoping it'll put him to sleep.  Otherwise, Steam Powered Giraffe may be my only hope. 

I did manage to finish the latest Hero Squad script yesterday.  I think it'll be pretty good. Hopefully we'll get a reading done here in the next few weeks so I can get to sacrificing all my favorite jokes in the name of a slightly shorter running time. 

Whoops, Isaac is up and at 'em again.  Duty calls, folks!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Well, this one pretty much got away from me...

There's a dry erase board by one of the busiest walkway intersections at my old workplace.  This board could be used to relay useful information, but I think people usually just used it to write clever phrases or post cute pictures.  At one point, someone wrote the phrase "FREEDOM IS NOT FREE" on the board.  This phrase stayed their for quite some time.  Eventually, another coworker got cute with it and changed "NOT" to "FAT", which was pretty funny. Apparently it didn't amuse the original poster, because it was soon changed back to "NOT" and left alone for another couple of weeks.  Eventually the whole thing was erased and replaced with something work-related, and that particular message never came back. 

For some reason, that reminds me of the time I went into the restroom at the same former workplace and saw a slip of paper that said "You're looking handsome today!" taped to the mirrors by the sinks.  (I'm pretty sure this had something to do with a campaign the local Christian radio station was doing at the time)  I wish I could say that it made my day or lifted my spirits for even a brief moment, but really it just sort of puzzled me a bit. If it'd been a verse of encouragement, say, from scripture, or even the sort of positive-thinking saying you'd see on a motivational poster about looking for the best in each day, then I could have gone with that.  But a random slip of paper complimenting my appearance?  It just seemed sort of random.  Now if an actual coworker would have looked at me and then said I looked nice, I might be a bit flattered, or at least appreciative that they'd taken the time to say something nice to me.  But you, random slip of paper?  You can't even see me.  You don't know what you're talking about.  (I'm pretty sure I even said aloud, "How do you know?" after looking at the paper every time I washed my hands for a few days)  Yet no one took the papers down because whoever posted them had meant well and because nobody wanted to possibly offend whoever had gone to the trouble to try to brighten our days. 

And to this day, I should mention, I really do appreciate the intent of both of the above examples.

Anyway, back to the papers.  One day, my ornery side got the best of me.  I enlisted the help of a female coworker and posted new complements in both the men's and women's restrooms (after confirming that the ladies' room had also been rather complimentary the previous week or so).  Now anyone washing their hands after a successful trip to the loo were met not only with "You're looking handsome today!" but also with "Your penmanship is most favorable!" 

A couple days later, all the slips of paper were removed, and ever again were random compliments taped in public places at work. 

This is not what I originally sat down to blog about tonight.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Specials: Haiku

Since I missed Feature Friday this week, I'll do a late-night Sunday Special.  Then it's off to bed, because tomorrow is a Writing Day!

My heart yearns to dance.
Hemmed in it is on each side.
Lungs and ribs and such. 

Dolphins always look
like they're so gosh-darned happy.
Bottle-nosed, that is.

Carrots grow below.
Wolves run in the untamed wild.
Men like to eat beef.  

Use your umbrella
When it rains, or when you need
Shade.  Not for dueling.

Blogger keeps giving
an error message.  I don't
know what it is for. 

Have you ever tried
to knock someone out?  It's much
harder than you'd think. 

Emotion drifts like
the ice you never see but
know is there somewhere. 

I'd like to ride in
a hot-air balloon. No, I
don't really want that.

The lion and the
unicorn, fighting for the
crown.  The hippo won.

I keep stepping on
all these dang toys.  Why are there
so, so many toys?

The last line on that
last haiku was kind of a
cheat. Oh well. Who cares?

How would you describe
the taste of the inside of
your mouth?  The world turns...

"Actors will be paid
a stipend" is code for "You
might make thirty bucks."

I should start a new
feature called, "Things seen this week
on Theatreport." 

I've always wanted
to make friends with a penguin.
Won't happen, though.  Sigh.

If monkeys and apes
are so smart, why haven't they
learned how to steal cars? 

Red.  Color of love.
Green.  Color of a thousand
frogs.  Popcorn is white.

La da da.  La da
da.  La da da.  La da da.
I wrote a pop song.

I never learned how
to play the  harmonica.
Shoot.  I would be rich.

Still getting the same
error message from Blogger.
I need Tron. Where's Tron? 

Put on a creepy
robe. Pop some popcorn.  Sip on
some herbal iced tea.

This will be the last
haiku I write tonight.  So
goodnight. I'm for bed.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Don't mess with hippos....

...because they are freaking terrifying.

Anything that can make a rhino turn tail and run is bad news.

Not impressed?  Check out this hippo relentlessly thrashing a large male crocodile.

I won't post the video of a hippo basically biting off a lioness' head, because ew.  I will, however, provide a link for the curious

Hippos are regarded as one of the most aggressive animals in Africa. They also apparently hate humans, as they've been known to attack fairly regularly and without provocation. In a land of crocodiles, lions, and rock pythons, the locals consider hippos to be the most dangerous creature. Let  that sink in for a minute.

I found a website that offered some tips of how to avoid a hippo attack.  They all pretty much boiled down to "stay away from hippos."  My favorite tip said that "Yelling and waving your arms won't do much good against a rampaging hippo."  Ya think???

Now, LONG-time readers of this blog will know I've been trying to warn the world for years about the eventual Humboldt squid war on mankind.  However, now I'm a little frightened that hippos may beat them to the punch. They've already got the advantage in that they can travel and attack by both land and sea.  (Well, rivers, anyway) 

FOMW Nightmare Fodder of the Week: the dreaded Humboldt Hippo! 


I need a happy thought after that:

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Lord is my....oceanographer?

...I shall not want...for great shots of sea turtles?

I had a pretty good Monday.  Well, one unwanted call from a bill collector harassing us for a payment that wasn't sent because the invoice wasn't sent to the right address a year ago notwithstanding.  Beautiful weather, good rehearsal, good opportunities for the next year.  Some dog-tiredness, but that's to be expected in my world.  All in all, though, I can't complain.  Or at least, I won't. 

Keeping this short tonight, because I've got some work to do yet and it's already  midnight.  I've had this song drifting through my head most of the day.  It's quite lovely and soothing.  I'm passing it along in the hope that it brings at least a moment of calm into you Tuesday.  We really don't have "calm" anymore.  We have moments of inactivity, but they're rarely peaceful.  So hopefully this helps.

I don't know why the video is comprised entirely of ocean videos, but I like the ocean so we'll let it slide.  Besides, fish are calming, right? 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Top 7 House of Heroes tracks

As a teenage, you always wonder why your parents are still listening to the same music they liked back when they were teenagers.  And then you go to college, and then you graduate college, and you realize you can't buy four CDs a month like you used to, so you stick with your old favorite for a little while, and before you know it you can't figure out why all the new stuff that's popular is so terrible and you wonder why they don't still make awesome music like they did ten years ago.

And then one day you remember wondering why your parents never moved past their decade of choice, and suddenly you get it.

I don't think many of us get very many new "favorite bands" once they get to be about 30 years old or so.  Or if we do, they don't really reach the same elite status in our minds as our favorite bands from when we were younger. I've made an attempt to discover new Christian rock artists I can get into, but for the most part there just aren't many.  I'd say this is because the genre is suffering lately, but the truth is it's always been pretty thin on quality and I just wasn't very picky back in the day.  (Not to say there weren't a few gems, and one day Robbie and Isaac will wonder why I'm still listening to them)  One band that I've discovered fairly recently who I actually would lump in as one of my favorite bands is the rock group House of Heroes. I'd heard the name bounced around a few places, but what got me to check them out was an interview I read with Five Iron frontman Reese Roper, who commented that HoH was one of his current faves.  Reese and I have had pretty similar taste in music in the past, so I checked The End Is Not The End out from the library next time I was there.  After about three tracks, I was hooked. 

It's difficult for me to tell you what HoH is like, because I have three of their albums (plus a few Christmas tracks and an EP of Beatles covers) and they're all drastically different.  The often-lighthearted Suburba is a collection of rock anthems nostalgically recalling the triumphs of youth in the suburbs, while the preceding The End Is Not The End (one of my very favorite albums) is an intense, often emotionally-charged collection of songs that are mostly themed in the post-World War II era for some reason.  The most recent album, Cold Hard Want, is more of your "typical" rock/alternative record without following any specific theme.  I love the band's harmonies, I love the aggressive guitars, I love the epic feel they bring to their faster stuff, and I appreciate the delicateness with which they handle their ballads.  Many of their tunes also have a strong sense of storytelling to them, which of course is always a selling point with me. 

While HoH is considered to be a "Christian band," they carry the name in the same way that, say, Switchfoot does: very few of their songs are strongly, overtly faith-based. Instead, you see them examining life through the lens of their faith.  There are a few earnest songs which I'd consider worshipful, but very rarely do you hear the name of Jesus.  (This seems to be a trend with my favorite artists)  The lyrics are often laced with biblical imagery, and you might miss the reference if you're not familiar with the scripture. For example, my favorite stanza from the song "Constant" features the lyric "We always want time to hoard up our treasures and bury our dead/ It's true what he said, the foxes have holes but the king has no place for his head."  Stuff like that. 

And full disclosure: I am a johnny-come-lately with this band, so I don't know any of their indie stuff from before The End.  Sorry if any true HoH fans come across this.  You can call me a poser if you want.  

Anyway, it's very difficult for me to narrow this down to seven, partially because I like a lot of their songs and partially because the albums are often complete pieces (sorta like what I've said before about Switchfoot's Hello Hurricane CD) and it's difficult to break them into pieces, at least in my mind.  Nevertheless, here are my personal


 #7: Constant
from Suburba

I pray for relief
But relief doesn't come, just the will to press on
With only your song, 
Your love makes me strong when all hope is gone.

I know I just said they don't have a lot of overtly faith-based songs, but this is probably one of the few, and I consider it very worshipful.  A modern-day psalm, if you will. 

Aaaaaand I don't know that there's really much more to say about it.  It's very pretty. I like it.

#6: I Am a Symbol
 from Cold Hard Want
First man through is an easy kill
But no one's safe if we all stand still
So let my life be a song
And let that song carry on.

This is a very dramatic song, which is of course one of the reasons it sticks with me.  This is one of those which is clearly written from a believer to a believer, but the truth inherent in the song goes beyond just the realm of faith.  I love the way the song keeps building, I love the epic chorus at the end, what can I say, I love the song.  This is also the song that closes out the CD, so it's a pretty cool way to go out.  

#5: The Cop
from Cold Hard Want

The rain falls on the blessed ones
The rain falls on the damned
And you've changed my mind
And I love you more than I love myself

Here's an example of HoH using a song to tell a story.  This is a pretty short song that manages to tell an awful lot in its three minutes. It's both sweet and sad, both solemn and celebratory, and sometimes it still manages to get me to brush back a tear.  But the bottom line is it's a love story about a guy who's been disillusioned by his years serving on the force and the young woman who helped him find hope again.  It sets it up, gets you to care, leaves you with something to think about, and then it's done.  Plus it's pretty.  All in 3:10.  

#4: If
from The End Is Not The End
I could be in love if you wore that dress every day
With your hair just so and your eyes of gray
You make a beautiful bird on a line

Yeah, it's just another song about a guy pining for a girl he doesn't have, and yeah, the lyrics are a little strange.  (He calls her a "beautiful bride of Frankenstein."  Is that a complement?)  But you know what?  It's ridiculously catchy and really dang sing-along-able, and I cannot get enough of it.  

#3: God Save the Foolish Kings
from Suburba
Midnight at the school behind the bleachers
Oh, there's gonna be a rumble,
But the cops won't be notified...

All right, official music video!

This song is incredibly cheesy.  It's this massive epic about two gangs meting to rumble under the bleachers at high school while their girlfriends at home beg them not to do anything crazy.  The song is a rock anthem celebrating the adrenaline-pumping idiocy of youth. "We were young, we were dumb, we thought this was the biggest thing in the world at the time, and something about it was awesome."  Musically speaking, this song is just a monster.  It flat out rocks.  It always makes me grin and brings to my mind the phrase We are always the hero in our own story.  This song is Just For Fun, and while there are many who believe that Christian artists always need to have Something Significant to say, well, I disagree.  Sometimes it's fine just to be epic and awesome.  

#2: By Your Side
from The End Is Not The End

And we were soldiers then, our bodies in the sand
And like that sand through our hands go our grandest plans
And just to see your face for one moment,
I'd cross the ocean again
The end is not the end...

Okay, are you ready?

Another story song about two brothers who grow up together in the plains, go off to war together, where one dies.   This song is the surviving brother grappling with life, death, faith, and the pain of losing his brother.  It is a sad, hopeful, beautiful song.  Plus, it comes right after #1 on this list on the album, and together it's one heck of an emotional sock-in-the-gut.  Now, it may just be because I'm the father of two boys myself that this one hits so hard.  But even if that is the case, this is my list, so that's a valid enough reason to put it at #2.  

Seriously.  I love this song.  Almost enough to make it...

#1: Code Name: Raven
from The End Is Not The End
I saw their black coats forming lines
They hit our beaches running
We're on our knees, but not to pray...

I don't really even know where to start with this song. It's the combination of everything I've lauded elsewhere in this list.  It's big, it's aggressive, it's got the epic chorus, the tight harmonies, the storytelling, the philosophy of sacrifice, and the emotional pull.  It practically assaults the listener with drums and guitar straight out of the gate. It builds suspense. It's exhilarating.  And it just doesn't sound quite right unless it's played very loudly.  To me, it's just about everything that I love about HoH packed into about four minutes of music and then shaken like a can of soda.  

So there you go.  A quick look at one of my New Faves.  Hope you can find something in there that ya like.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Baseball is gut *Updated 2/27*

No really, read this one.

I've been listening to spring training games on the radio the past couple of days and am getting kind of stoked for baseball season to get here.  That's got baseball on my mind quite a bit lately, so I thought it would be fun to write a blog in which I make a baseball team out of my loyal FOMW readers!  The problem is, I don't have a ton of regular readers any more on account of my not doing any regular blogging for a very long time.  So to be eligible for the team, you have to be someone that I know (or at least suspect) still follows (or has followed) this blog recently.  That means anybody who's mentioned something I wrote in the blog in conversation, left a comment, or +1'd a post (whatever the heck that is) in the past, oh, four months or so.  Since whenever I started doing the interview thing, whenever that was.

Now, if you're left off the team, and you still follow long, it just means I didn't realize you were still out there.  Drop me a comment and I'll find a spot for you.

Okay, here's the batting lineup of the official FOMW baseball team, mostly likely called The Panthers.  Because Panthers are Fierce.

Darn right.

Right.  (I'm the manager, because it's my blog.  But I'm a playing manager, because we don't have enough players for a 25-man roster)

Leadoff hitter: Jason B, RF.  I didn't know where to put you in the field, but I decided we needed your cannon of an arm to throw out baserunners.  And you're also hitting leadoff because, of the FOMW family, I think you may be the only one who has a prayer of getting on base with regularity.

#2 hitter: Me, CF. I love tracking down fly balls.  I'm actually not bad at it, either, though I probably don't have the jump that I used to.  I figure if I can hit about .260 with 15-20 home runs, I'm having a pretty awesome season.  Plus, if the year's half over and I'm clearly not getting it done at the plate, I'm not afraid to bunt Jason home (after he steals 2nd and 3rd).

#3 hitter: Sherri M., LF.  We're gonna have to have girls on this team, and I don't want to throw 'em all at the bottom of the order because that sounds sexist.  Plus, I think Sherri could deliver a little pop at the plate, on account of she keeps a baseball bat in her room, so hopefully she's picked up some slugging power by osmosis.

Cleanup hitter: Dave M, 1st base.  I know you've got experience playing the position.  Also, I don't care what your ending batting average is, but we're gonna need you to pop out about 40-50 home runs.

#5 hitter: Brad B., C.  I think my brother-in-law could make a good catcher.  He's very quick-witted and analytical, and I think he could find ways to mess with opposing hitters' heads.

#6 hitter: Travis H., 3B.  The hot corner!  Need someone who can make the throw from third to first.  Also expecting you to provide a bit of offensive stability for the bottom half of the order.

#7 hitter: Hannah S., 2B.  I put you at second because virtually every throw you make will only have to go to the shortstop covering 2nd or the 1st baseman (Dave).  That will better suit your skill set than a position where you'd have to make a bunch of longer throws.  Also, you're small, so you'll have a tiny strike zone, so hopefully you'll get a lot of BB's.

#8 hitter: Vacant, SS.  Of course, if we don't find a short stop, Hannah will have to play 2nd and short at the same time.  But she's an stage manager, so she'll be fairly well-prepared for this.  (I would  put my wife in this spot, but I'm pretty sure she wouldn't want to play.  Plus, someone has to watch the boys while I'm managing and playing center field)

#9 hitter: Abby B, SP.  Abby, you're the pitcher because you're a lefty.  And everybody is always looking for left-handed pitcher.  Also, you're the only pitcher, so you'll have to start every game.  And there are no relievers. So, I hope you're ready to throw a LOT of pitches.

Holly  has chimed in, which is great!  Unfortunately for our baseball team, she is  With Child right now, so she'll be inactive for about half the season.  Once her maternity leave is over, though, she'll split time with Abby on the mound.    This woman has deceivingly high levels of arm strength.  (Or at least she did seven or so years ago)  Seriously.  If you ever arm-wrestled this girl back in her prime, you found yourself thinking, "Where is all this upper-body strength coming from?"  I expect a fastball somewhere in the high 80's.  Plus, she's, like, four-foot-eleven, so she'll be the first pitcher in history who's slider has to move up to hit the strike zone. 

Good pickup, good pickup. 


So there you have it!  The FOMW baseball team!  I think we'd be awesome.

Obviously, my work on this project led me to only one natural conclusion: I need more loyal readers so I can build a better pretend baseball team.  (Yes, this thought actually entered my head)  So how can I get more readers?

By blogging more.  Duh.

So what is all this, really?  This is my way of saying hey, I'm going to start blogging more!  I'm actually committed to regular blogging, which hasn't been the case since my 2nd attempt at a 365 blog.  I'm thinking of  a loose M-W-F format with the occasional Saturday Surprise.  Because alliterations are cool.  Also because alliterations are cool: Feature Fridays!  This will begin this Friday with a new Top 7.  I'll also keep the interviewer around, because I have fun with those. Now, you have to understand that this means I'll be posting a lot of stuff you probably don't care about, because that's how regular blogging works.  That's how the 365's worked, and that's probably how this'll work.  "I have nothing valuable to say, BUT I'M SUPPOSED TO BLOG TODAY!"  But hopefully, on the whole, you'll see both quantity AND quality improve.

And maybe, just maybe, we'll find our shortstop. And the rest of our starting rotation.  And a couple of relievers.

Man, our baseball team sucks right now. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Not All Robots Are Good...

Fun fact: Supposedly, all the robots in Wall-E are "Three-Laws Compliant."  Project: re-watch Wall-E with the focused intent of trying to find a robot in violation of any of the three laws. 

The bots in the classic Mega Man series are also said (by many) to be bound by Asimov's Three Laws. Even the Wily-bots.  Which makes them an odd choice of means by which to take over the world.  Or maybe the Robot Masters abide by the laws, but the "drone" enemies within the stages aren't actually sentient, thus they're the ones who do the actual damage and the masters exist solely to remain locked in a room waiting for Mega Man to arrive so that they can battle him.

Though, if that's the case, why would Mega Man bother with them at all?  I mean, it's not like they're hurting anyone behind those Wily gates.  Shoot, apparently they can't hurt anyone.  (So saith Dr. Wily at the end of Mega Man 7)  Unless the masters' life forces somehow power the re-spawning technology for the drones that are doing the actual damage...

But if that's the case, how could the robot masters continue to power the creation of drones that will ultimately harm humans?  If they don't realize what they're doing, does that mean they can actually harm humans?

Or was Wily just making that up in MM7 so that the blue bomber wouldn't shoot him?

Whatever.  That's totally not what this post is supposed to be about, anyway.

I've had to change the comments section on this blog.  The past few months, I have been getting a LOT of comments...on blog posts that are years old...and they all thank me for my excellent research on the subject matter, or how my blog is a refreshing and thoughtful look at the circumstances at hand, and they all end with links.  And for some reason, they all tend to fixate on one particular post at a time.  So I've had to delete roughly a dozen comments from the post entitled "Yip-or-Treat" in the past week. 

That's right, the decidedly non-three-law-compliant spam-bots have found my blog.  Fortunately, blogger is armed with the spam-bots' one weakness: WORD VERIFICATION!  Sorry, spam-bots.  To quote the immortal Dangeresque: "Dyin's not on the menu!"  FOMW will not go down so easily!


Anyway, just letting you all know about the change and why it's changed.  From now on, when you want to leave that occasional comment, you may have to type a word in a box or something.  I apologize for the inconvenience.  I swear it's not me trying to be all Big Government in your life.  It's to protect us all from the bots.

And, I just cannot end this blog post without sharing a video of Battlebots, so here ya go: