What has become of me?

So I was lying around the house today watching some hardcore porn…Actually, that isn’t true, although admitting to that would be so much easier than admitting what I was actually watching. There is a new show on The Learning Channel called Honey, We’re Killing the Kids, which I thought was going to be an interesting docudrama that followed a couple around as they hunted down their own children and savagely beat them to death with rusty machetes. When it turned out to be something completely different, I was far too lazy to push the button on the remote that would end my misery, so I watched it anyway.

First off, shouldn’t Disney file a lawsuit against the creators for using their intellectual property? Isn’t it an obvious ripoff of the movie Honey, I Shrunk the Kids? Bleh. The series is probably owned by Disney, or the network is owned by Disney, at any rate I am not going to waste the time to look it up. Because when it comes down to lawsuits, I think Mattel is the company that really has a case. Look at the images and judge for yourself1:

At any rate, the show is all about exploiting fat children. The premise is that a nutritional expert will show the parents what the child will look like at age 40 if they don’t change their lifestyle, but the reality is that it is a show that will be watched by millions of people so that they can think that their children aren’t really all that fat by comparison. The particular show that I watched had a twelve year old kid on it that was only 10 pounds lighter than I am despite the fact that I am almost two feet taller than him. It truly boggles the mind.

I really can’t see why anyone would ever watch more than one episode of this show. I watched the very beginning of another episode and it is exactly the same thing only the people have been changed. I don’t think this is going to be a Jerry Springer type thing, where people like to watch it just to see what happens when the gene pool dries out. I can’t see how this show would be any different ever. Act 1: show the parents grossly exaggerated (or not when you look at the exploding waistline of the U.S. population) age renderings of what their children will look like in a couple of decades. Act 2: Insert change in the form of better food and a more healthy lifestyle, which the family at first rejects but slowly starts to accept. Act 3: show the parents grossly exaggerated (for sure this time) age renderings of what their children will look like in a couple of decades now that they have eaten a piece of fruit (imagine that, they could all be runway models). The End.

It would be nice if they were to go into the epilogue. You know, fast forward a couple of years to find out that the second the cameras were off everyone reverted to old habits and the kids are fatter than ever, but that would sort of make the entire premise of the show kind of pointless then, wouldn’t it?

Normally I am not the type to make vast and sweeping generalizations without factual basis2, but I am going to go with my gut on this one (pun intended). The only people likely to watch this show are going to be the parents of children who are borderline morbidly obese. If they can find just one child on the planet that weighs more than little Timmy, you see, then that means that little Timmy isn’t really that fat. Who else would watch the show? Parents of normal3, healthy, active children wouldn’t want to watch it, and certainly wouldn’t want their children to watch it. So I guess that means that they will always have an audience, at least until every family except for the fattest family in the U.S. has seen it.

1) I think I probably lose a lot of cool points for knowing the Mattel logo well enough to immediately recognize this blatant ripoff. Even more for actually admitting that I recognized it. Thankfully it wasn’t the Kenner logo or I would gain like 2d20 geek points on top of the cool points that I lost. In fact I might get those geek points anyway since Kenner was absorbed by Hasbro a long time ago and only the real Star Wars GeeksTM remember Kenner, and then only because it is printed on the front of their complete set of action figures from the first film.

2) I leave that to the Republicans. *rimshot* Thank you. I will be here all week.

3) That makes it sound like I am implying that the extremely overweight children are not “normal”, I would like to clarify that. I am not implying that they aren’t normal, I am saying it flat out.

Jumping the shark

I guess I am going to have to show my age a bit for the purposes of this post. It is all about Jumping the Shark. I have always assumed that the phrase came from that episode of Happy Days where Fonzie, quite literally, jumps a shark (I think there was more than one shark actually). The miracle of the internet, as well as the endless information at Wikipedia, seem to prove me right.

However, there is a site called Jumptheshark.com (I linked directly to the Happy Days page since they use a horrible frame format that makes it tough to find anything) that has hundreds of people arguing that the show jumped the shark long before the actual shark jumping episode. That got me to thinking…

Do you remember the theme song? I do, but I remember two different theme songs. A quick google search found me a page that has they lyrics to the theme song, both of them actually, you can see that here.

How in the hell can I remember the theme song that plays during the first season when I was actually born that same year? I have never watched it on Nick at Night or any other old re-run station. Did they actually repeat the episodes that often back in the 1970’s that I am able to remember both of the theme songs? I don’t know, it just seems odd to me that I can remember a theme song that would have only been on the show for less than a year when I would have been less than a year old. In fact it took me a lot of thinking, and the eventual google search, to remember the other theme song, which then came back immediately, come on sing along, “Sunday, Monday. Happy Days. Tuesday, Wednesday. Happy Days. Thursday, Friday. Happy Days. The weekend comes…” But why do I also remember the “one, two, three o clock, four o clock rock…”, and remember it more so than the other theme (the other theme being the one that was on the show for the majority of the show’s run)?

I am thinking that, no matter how small my little brain was at the time, I thought the show started to slide down the slippery slope to crap long before the Fonz literally jumped over the shark. If I remembered any of the episodes with the theme song that played for about nine years I would probably think differently, but come on. I remember the theme song that was scrapped about the same time as my birth, I remember the episodes that were recorded the year of my birth. I must concur that Happy Days jumped the shark long before the shark jumping episode.

I probably didn’t see any episode prior to 1981 or so that was not a re-run, but, in my mind, the ones that have that classic song as the theme are far superior to any of the later ones. That all being said, Happy Days literally jumped the shark, for that we should applaud them. It must have taken a lot of balls to throw away such a lucrative franchise over, arguably, the most implausible plot line in the history of television. If Happy Days hadn’t jumped the shark, we might refer to this action as kicking Chrissy.

BCS; Survivor

Just when I was starting to get back into a semi-regular posting schedule, basketball happened. I had completely forgotten about the College Basketball tournament (the brackets as my wife and many others call them) right until my wife got home earlier than expected on Wednesday. It turns out that since the ‘brackets’ had bumped Survivor from Thrusday to Wednesday, the wife was not nearly as inclined to ride her horse on Wednesday. That is, sure she loves to ride the Horses, but when that interferes with Survivor, Fuck ’em.

I am no better than the wife when it comes to revolving my schedule around that silly show. I didn’t even get to complete my daily surfing activities before it was time to go and watch the show. I know that is not such a big deal since I can visit a website at any time, day or night, while her horse riding activities don’t share the always available quality. But, It did screw up my day a little bit. Damn those Collegiate Athletes!

I really don’t care for college basketball at all, of course I really don’t care about the NBA either, so I suppose that isn’t all that surprising. I do like that they have a playoff system in place for the NCAA, however I really think that the system they use for basketball is at once too inviting and not inviting enough. I am not completely sure of the logistics involved, but what I do know is that in any given year there are teams who should have a legitimate shot at the national title that end up playing in the (secondary) NIT competition. As I say, I don’t follow college basketball so I don’t really know why it ends up this way. I would speculate that they are trying to make sure that they don’t end up with too many teams from a specific conference in the ‘Big Dance’, since, like everything else, this is all about money and too many colleges from a specific region would likely sour the viewing audience, thus leading to less revenue from advertisers. That is all speculation of course.

It is pretty sick of me to bitch about the way the NCAA handles this tournament though, since I really do enjoy college football. NCAA football, of course, has absolutely no playoff system. The national champion every year is picked by a combination of Coaches votes and a computer model that sends teams to face each other in the BCS. I would link to something to try to make sense of this all, were there anything on the face of the earth that could make sense of it. There is no playoff system at all in college football, the ‘Bowls’ (be it the Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl, etc.) are alternated every year in respect to which one is hosting the actual title game. The teams that go to each of the ‘Bowls’ is somehow chosen by a computer. One of the many problems with that approach is the “Margin of Victory” category (which is one of the weighted categories in the BCS model). So, if your team is up by 24 points in the fourth quarter and you just try to run out the clock, you may be screwed later by a team that continues to humiliate the other team for the duration of the game. The computer can’t factor in humility.

I am going to try to piece together a scenario to prove the inherent flaws with the BCS right now. Bear in mind that people have been doing this for years and we have yet to see a change in the way it is handled. All information I am about to present is fictional and for the sole purpose of making the fallacy that the BCS is fair more obvious. I am going to use the teams Florida, Arizona and Texas in general terms and not related to any team from any of those states.

Let’s pretend that Texas has only won 3 games in a season. They have a mediocre offense, but a pretty darn good defense. Further, we must pretend that Arizona has an amazing offense, but a useless defense, while Florida has an amazing defense, but a useless offense. Now I have to pretend that both Arizona and Florida played Texas, and for the sake of this post I am going to say that they both won the game. The Arizona vs. Texas matchup (in my scenario) is going to end with Arizona’s amazing offense beating the Texas defense pretty handily, but, the useless defense of Arizona allows Texas to get some easy points. I’ll call it 37-24 just in case you are nitpicky, so a 13 point win. When Florida plays Texas (in my scenario) it is going to end with Florida’s offense unable to score against the mediocre Texas defense, while Texas can’t score against Florida either. The points that are scored are all on defense or special teams. I’ll call this one 16-7, so a 9 point win. What we learn from this is that, for one team, their offense alone won the game, while, for the other team, their defense alone won the game. If Arizona never plays Florida how do you really know which team is better? The computers will tell you that Arizona is better since they won by 13, but, the same computer is going to tell you that Florida is better since they only gave up 7 points. (not that playing a worthless team really matters all that much in the grand scheme of the BCS, I was just trying to explain it in a logical manner.)

If there were any type of a playoff system in college football the majority of the variables would be sorted out on the field. Of course the second anyone tries to modify the system to a playoff format there will be teams that want to be involved, regardless of the fact that they simply don’t have the players to win big games against good teams. I do understand that football is a sport that is a bit more draining than basketball; not a game that the players can play two days in a row. Yet, somewhere in my mind, I have to wonder why they don’t have all of the teams that have ‘Bowl Bids’ set into a playoff format. It would add a game or two to some of the teams’ schedules, but only the winning teams. That would also result in a lot more revenue for the colleges, with the extra ticket sales. Not to mention giving NFL scouts more opportunities to see all of the top players.

Perhaps the NCAA enjoys the controversy in college football since it allows many teams to believe that they were really the national champions?

• Survivor was what I really wanted to talk about today. It turns out that someone over at the studio had read my latest bitch about the show and bought a Time Machine, then went back in time to alter the episodes that they already had on tape. Sure, it is possible that they just realized it was all getting a bit too predictable, but what would be my stake in that?

The latest episode of Survivor featured yet another loss by the “Ulong” team. This one was a bit different though, for two reasons. The first reason is that both teams were going to have to vote out a player, the second is that I have never seen (in my survivor watching history) a team so easily and adamantly agree on voting someone. The guy that the strong tribe (Koror) was going to vote out has been obvious since day one, however they had never lost an immunity challenge so they never had to think about it. There was a twist, as there always is, that made it so Koror got to give immunity to a single player from Ulong. The winner of immunity was the guy that everyone in Ulong was going to vote off. So, instead, they voted off the only player on their team that excelled at anything…Survival of the weakest I guess.

I really have to hand it to Survivor, they took an impossible situation and made a nice spin out of it. Unfortunately the teams are now at 8 and 4. If they merge the first four to go are pretty obvious. Yet, the team dynamic is so precious to the game (at least to ratings) that I don’t know if they should try to screw it all up.

Half of me thinks that they should let the losers continue to lose. The losing tribe has shown over and over that they don’t really want to win. Perhaps, this time, they will let them all just get voted out. The other half of me wants them to mix up the tribes. Some of the alliances on Koror are getting pretty strong, strong enough that they may never break. If they mix up the tribes at this point, the are doing it only a couple of votes from the merge. If they leave the one team to kill itself it will be a whole new game. The other team has already shown, on several occasions, that they don’t really want to win. I really think that the best way to shake up the game right now is to leave them alone.

The people in the game are expecting a merge so much that they never stop to think about what would happen if they never merge. Which would lead pretty nicely into the winning tribe having to vote out people that they have very strong alliances with. Hell, with one team having only four people, while the other has eight (and they would have been 9 strong were it not for one screwy challenge), I am not entirely sure if the other team really should have the salvation of the merge. Of course with the one team doubling them in numbers it probably doesn’t matter anyway.

My vote is going heftly to the “no merge” theory. That would make for a much more interesting game.

It is possible that they would allow the losing tribe to pick two of the people from the winning tribe (or try to redistribute the members and end with the same result), but I really think the losers have chosen to lose. It was their choice to vote out the most athletic and intelligent players first. This is their Titanic, they should go down with it.

[Adult Swim]

Being that I am becoming pretty bored with playing silly little on-line games, I am gonna throw another post up here -Possibly a week before anyone is expecting it-, which is the great thing about actually paying for your own website. I don’t really have a deadline, I don’t really have a lot of fans, I just type something out when I feel like it, and stay silent for weeks when I don’t. That is not really a good path to follow if you ever do want to develop a readership, but, I have given up on that aspect of this whole ‘blogging’ thing long ago.

• On tap today, I offer you Robot Chicken. This is a really bizarre show that they show on Cartoon Network as part of the late night edition that they call Adult Swim. Since that seems a little bit confusing as I write it, I will elaborate in a moment. But first, I must elaborate on the aforementioned show.

Robot Chicken is basically a show that comes on, lasts for fifteen minutes (it plays straight through for twelve minutes with no commercials, followed by three minutes of commercials leading into the next show) then is gone. The airtimes for the show (as listed on the website) may differ by region. Since I live in Arizona, which is sometimes on Pacific time and sometimes on central time, we get some of the cable feeds hours early while we get others hours late. That is kind of screwy in and of itself, but I was wanting to talk about Robot Chicken so I will forget that all for now.

In a nutshell, Robot Chicken is twelve minutes of short sketches. Some of the sketches are as short as two seconds while some of them play out over several minutes. They are all done in animation, claymation, or using action figures (at least the several that I have seen), and they run the gamit from being dopey to outright hilarious. I am not even sure if it is possible to explain the show’s premise, not that I really think it has much of one. I really doubt that anyone much under the age of thirty would/could understand a lot of the parodies, some of them are contemporary, but the majority are spoofing stuff that I watched as a child. Things like G.I. Joe, Thunder Cats, He-Man, Voltron, and other cartoons or action figures that were popular in the early-mid eighties.

This is a show that is certainly not meant for children, yet it doesn’t seem to be specifically aimed at adults either. It is frequently hilarious, while being boring or confusing at other times. You really would have to watch it to get a sense of the weird fascination I have with it. To give you a sense of the humor involved, I must tell you about one sketch where they were spoofing Voltron. One of the lions was mounting (for reproducing purposes) another of the lions, while they were trying to build Voltron. Though when spoken (typed) it might not seem that funny, in the context of the short it was hilarious.

Seriously, if you have the cartoon network on your t.v. you should check out a couple of episodes. Hell, it only lasts for ten or twelve minutes and you will likely laugh a couple of times (if remember the cartoons and action figures from the eighties).

• The Adult Swim thing is what the cartoon network is doing after the sun goes down. It is far from porn, it has nothing in it that your average teenager hasn’t seen, but your five or six year old wouldn’t understand a word of it. They use the show Family Guy to lead into “Adult Swim”, after which you should not have children viewing, at least not if you don’t want to warp their fragile little minds.

I was thinking about Cartoon Network’s dilemma today, which was why I typed this out actually. They made a channel that you can sit your kids in front of so that you don’t have to take care of them all day, yet, when the kids go to bed at nine, the Cartoon Network is a Ghost Town. I really doubt that many infomercials would be willing to buy time on the Cartoon Network at two in the morning. They took the only logical step; cartoons for kids in the day, cartoons for adults at night. What were their other options?

Funny aside here. The cable company where I grew up showed Nickolodeon from 6a.m.-6p.m., then switched it to A&E from 6p.m.-6a.m. I am not even entirely sure if that would be legal in today’s market, but it worked for that cable company. It was very specifically targeting the consumer. I only noticed it since I woke up late one night and turned on Nickelodeon. I was expecting to see more green slime getting dumped onto people, instead I saw the last half hour of the movie “Deliverance”. I have never been quite the same since…

Anyway, Robot Chicken, watch it once. You will either like it or hate it, there is no in between. Sort of like porn, only less gender-biased as to the likers and haters.

Funny puppy story to come later today or on the next update, I am not yet sure which.

Survivor; Oddity at work; Hockey

An early day off at work today has made it possible for me to go ahead and throw up a post. Of course I could have thrown up a post over any of the past several days, but you wouldn’t have wanted to read it. That would be because it was all about computer problems, all week. Since my last post the computer problems have been virtually resolved on my Mother-in-Law’s PC, while the problems on the PC at work simply got worse. This was due directly to the fact that the boss ordered a brand new Dell PC, but he ordered it with a flat panel monitor, while he was planning to use his 19″ CRT monitor with the system. Without going into a lot of detail, I will just say that it took me many hours, over several days, to get that to work. What is more is that he is expecting that the flat panel monitor will work on the old pc, which is certainly not going to happen, but that will be a story for a different day. I am just tired of talking about PC’s at this point.

• Survivor, however, is on the block to be hacked at today.

Survivor is one of the only shows that gets myself and my wife to sit down together to watch the teevee (though I didn’t watch the first season, I have been a fan ever since). The bitch that I am having about the show currently is that it is a bit stale at this point. It is certainly true that the interaction between all of the players is the most interesting part of the game, hell it is really the only reason that you should be watching the show at all. The problem is that they have gotten to the point where they spend so much time showing the ridiculous challenges that they don’t show enough of the interaction of the players.

This season, for instance, one team has won damn near every single challenge. As a direct result of that it never shows what that team’s day to day dynamic looks like, while it spends a hell of a lot of time focused on the losing team. Net result: I know the names of everyone on the losing team and can identify them by their faces, the winning team…Not so much.

My wife and I do enjoy rooting against the losing team every week, but that can only take the experience about so far. They really need to quit doing such elaborate challenges and get back to showing a lot more of the interaction of the players, which was what made the show so popular in the first place. Imagine if they were to nix about half of the reward challenge time and replaced it with personal interaction, be it for the winning or losing tribe, it would make you feel far more emotionally involved in the show, regardless of whether the interactions really matter in the grand scheme of the game.

I certainly don’t want them to take the challenges out of the material that they air, I simply want them to show only the pertinent parts of the challenges. If one player really excells at a particular event, by all means show it, but, if it is a dead heat, do we really need to watch twenty minutes of people doing the same thing over and over? Especially when you consider that every player is making deals with every other player; deals that will be broken at the drop of a hat. They need to get back to the team dynamic or their ratings will continue to slide. It might only be my opinion, but, I bet if you were to poll 100 people that are not watching survivor this season (after having watched previous seasons), they would probably share my sentiment.

• Now for some strange happenings at work.

There is a nameless young lady where I work (yes, of course, she actually does have a name, but even if I did know what it was I would not put it here), who had rather a strange experience the other day. It seems she received two phone calls, about a minute apart, one from a man and one from a woman, who were both telling her that her car had been hit by another car in the parking lot. As luck would have it, I happened to be right outside the doors as the second call (the one from the man) came in, and was able to say defenitively that the guy on the pay phone was not the guy that made the second call (not that that really matters).

She ran outside to check her car only to find that it had not been in a collision, instead it had rather a morbid gift stuffed into the door handle. That morbid gift was a female undergarment, with attached feminine hygiene product, which was stained with the blood of some female (or at least I assume it was the blood of some female, I am not a detective). There was an attached note that said, “Please leave me yours. In the same place. P.S. you have a really nice ass.” Again, not being a detective, I can only speculate, but I would think that likely the note was not left by a woman. It is my guess that it was some sort of a sick prank that some of her peers came up with just to freak her out, and it worked in spades.

The police were called, the panties and feminine hygiene product were taken in as evidence. The girl moved her car to the front of the store (where she could actually see it), and she was really, really freaked out for the remainder of the day. She was fine by the next morning though, which leads me to wonder if whoever had perpetrated the prank had come clean. That, of course, is something that sixteen-year-old-peer etiquite would never be allowed to be discussed. The situation seems to be resolved, so, I guess it was the crack investigating team….That or the prankster told her about it and didn’t want to get into legal trouble.

• Did you know that the entire Hockey season has been cancelled? I know only because I occasionally watch the sport, and then I only watch it when my local team (the Phoenix Coyotes) are doing well.

The only reason that I bring this whole subject up is because the players are holding out for better contracts, while the owners of most of the teams are losing tons of money every year. Hockey is a really popular sport in Canada, as well as on the eastern seabord of the U.S., but they simply don’t fill enough arenas often enough to substantiate higher contracts. The market for Hockey is simply not as large as the market for the three major U.S. sports (being Football, Baseball and Basketball).

Here is a simple test: Name five hockey players that have ever lived.

I can come up with five off the top of my head. Brett Hull, Bobby Hull, Wayne Gretzky, Jeremy Roenick, and (pardon the name butchering) Mario Lemieux. Could you do it? Beyond that, a new test. Name five current players in the NHL.

Umm…ehhh…umm…Is Patrick Roy still playing? What about Pavel Bure? Did Wayne Gretzky ever father a child? Did Gordie Howe’s DNA get used to clone him? Where is Nikolai Khababulin, is he still playing? Do you see a forming pattern here? (The reference to Khababulin was only because he used to be a coyote, the other names popped into mind because they actually were playing last I knew. Meaning only Roy and Bure, all cloning aside.)

For sake of comparison I am going to tell you five current players from each of the three major U.S. sports. Please note that the names may be butchered since I am not going to go and spellcheck the names.
NFL: Warren Dunn, Marshall Faulk, Donnie Abraham, Fred Smoot, Aeneas Williams. (I left out Quarterbacks on that one since everyone knows the Quarterbacks).
MLB: Derek Jeter, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio. (I ignored pitchers on this one, since that would have been far too easy).
NBA: Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Vince Carter, Steve Nash. (This one I could have done fifty players, but I really don’t like basketball all that much and I didn’t want to focus on my home team).

I am able to easily name five players from the other major U.S. sports, while I can’t come up with a single, definitiive, name in Hockey. I think that this would imply that Hockey is simply not as popular as the other sports. I would then argue that sincce the ssport is not all that popular, the money should be split between the owners and the players. If the owners are making tons of cash while the players are in poverty, that is wrong. By that same metric, if the players are making millions of dollars while the owners are losing money that is also wrong. That all being said, when is the last time that MLB or NFL or NBA cancelled an entire season??? The answer is, of course, never. No other major, U.S., sports league has ever cancelled a season. There have been portions of seasons missing on lots of occasions, but, no season had/has ever been cancelled…Untill now…

The unfortunate downfall of the logic on this one is that no one who never watched Hockey previously is goinng to start watching it . Those who have never seen Hockey are more likely to think that the players are demanding too much money for a service that doesn’t reaklly pay off.

My logic here is pretty tough to quantify, but that is only becasue it is pretty tough to find a hockey fan in the middle of Arizona.

Johnny Carson; The DaVinci code

My erratic (well not so erratic, considering its frequency) weekly posting seems to continue. I have no explanations so please don’t ask.

• First up today is the death of Johnny Carson. Being only 30, I don’t have a whole lot of knowledge of the span of his career. What I do know is that my Father once either took a night off at work, or came home early (twenty-five year old memories aren’t perfect) to watch Carson sing the song Rhinestone Cowboy. The only thing that I can actually remember from the show that he was so famous for is a line that was not even spoken by him, but by Ed McMahon, “I have in my hand an envelope, a child of four can plainly see these envelopes are hermetically sealed. They’ve been kept since noon today in a mayonnaise jar on Funk & Wagnalls’ porch”. That was the bit that they used to start the “Carnac the Great” skits, which is really all I can remember of the show. Well, along with some of the lame insults that he would hurl at hecklers during that skit. Strange and obscure stuff along the lines of “May unwanted house guests arrive and drink milk directly from the carton”. I was very young when I saw these shows and I remember that the lame curses were far funnier than the skit itself. I had always attributed that to my youth at the time, but in googling up some of the old dialogues I found that the lame curses were the only thing that made it memorable.

I think that most people in my generation (born in the mid seventies) know who Johnny Carson is/was, but remember him more for the parodies of him that Dana Carvey did on Saturday Night Live. They were, of course, exaggerated, over-the-top takes on Carson for sure, but it is strange that I think that Carvey (in makeup) looks more like Carson than Carson ever did. That is probably just me.

The reason that I think we need to pay a bit of respect to Johnny is that I can not think of any other entertainer, in any genre, that was able to keep so many adamant fans for three decades. In the channel-surfing world of today it is difficult for anyone to maintain and audience for a couple of years, let alone doing a stretch like Carson did. He stepped down not necessarily at the height of his career, but while he was still hugely popular, and he never did a comeback. He had his run, he was happy with it, he retired to live outside of the public eye. No comeback tours, no cameos in movies for a quick buck, he was done. I can’t think of any other celebrity that ever rode the wave so high, followed it to the beach, then simply walked away -Completely and Forever-. I’ll bet that his phone was ringing until the day he died with offers for movie cameos, tv spots, radio commercials and etc. and he never did any of it. Whether it was his pride, health or other that kept him from doing it, that leaves the world to remember him at his best. As it should be.

• I finally finished reading The Da Vinci Code several days ago. I was only reading the book based on a whole lot of reviewers saying that it was like the second coming of Christ. As it turns out, Christ’s second coming was not quite what I had expected.

The Da Vinci Code is of a genre that I never read. I am not sure if it would be classified as a thriller, mystery or action novel, but I usually only read fantasy or horror, this was certainly neither of those. The book just casually picks you up, then throws you into the maelstrom that is the story. I am not going to talk about the plot at all, since my wife is now reading the book and actually reads this site. What I will say is that I was fully immersed in the book until about page 370. It was moving so fast that I had read more than half of the book and still thought that it was just the introduction (a far cry from the trudging through the swamps for a month that you get used to in fantasy novels). I really thought that it petered out a bit towards the end, but that might be a personal issue.

The book does a pretty remarkable job of mixing the historical information into the story, though there were times that I felt like I was reading a lame history book; Who the hell cares if the glass pyramid outside of the Louvre has exactly 666 panes of glass in it if that fact is not going to be important later? Many historical buildings are tied into the story, probably just because the guy spent so much time researching them that he had to put all of them into the book, regardless of how well they tied into the flow of the story.

Being that the book is called The Da Vinci Code, and being that all of the clues that were left were actually written down, I actually solved a few of the codes in my head several pages before the primary characters did. Not that I am a genius or anything, but there are only so many ways that one can simply use letters to create codes. The first one that I had solved, long before the primary characters, said “O! Draconian Devil”. The book is called The Da Vinci Code, FFS, wouldn’t Da Vinci be what you are looking for in the lettering? I did, as did probably everyone else that has ever read the book. Imagine that, it is an anagram for Leonardo Da Vinci. I really did my best to not solve the word puzzles in my head after that, thinking that I might inadvertently stumble onto the ending without reading the book. That was, thankfully, not going to be an issue.

The ease of the first couple of codes made me question whether the rest of the world was simply stupid, however, the codes got more advanced. The codes, in fact, got so advanced that that they weren’t even codes anymore. The codes became an issue of interpretation of sentences. That is where it started to get out of my hands/mind as far as trying to solve the puzzles myself anyway.

Without going too much further into description of the book, I will say that I liked it. I didn’t particularly care for the way that it ended, but it was an ending. I am now of the camp that believes that it was only a best-seller for the sake of the religious overtone. The novel Angels and Demons is a previous work from the same author (which I have ordered online) that is supposedly a much better book. After finishing that one, perhaps I will be able to give the author some props, who knows.

Commercials; Government; Writing

Today’s post brings good and bad news. The good news is that I don’t have any desire to talk about John Saul, or books at all for that matter, today. The bad news is that I did yesterday, and while I completely forgot to post it, I am just gonna throw it on the bottom of this page since I have all but run out of issues to tackle.

Let that be a lesson to all of you who are thinking about starting your own website, especially if you are palanning to try to put up news with your own opinion or snark, don’t start in an election year! For the first six or eight months that I was doing this site I could easily find some news item to go off about, yet now it is all politics. Actually it really isn’t so much about politics as it is about which candidate says what about the other, and which one made the most weird faces in the last debate. Is that what politics has come to?

I was watching some show on TVLand the other day, possibly MacGyver, and they showed an old commercial (That is one of the things that TvLand is famous for, they air old commercials for lots of products, I can remember seeing a Parkay margarine commercial from the ’70s and a Shake-n-Bake commercial from around the same era. They are really pretty nostalgic to look back at.), when an old, black and white commercial came on the screen. The only thing in the entire commercial was a picture of rain falling on a random street, with a voice-over saying something like, “It may rain this November Eleventh. If it rains, get wet. It is that important.” (again that is not actually a quote but the best I can recall and I can’t find that commercial anywhere on their website, or anywhere else on the internet for that matter). The screen then flashed up a ‘Vote for ___’ logo. I don’t remember the exact candidate, nor do I know the year the commercial was released, so it is difficult for me to try to find the damn thing. At any rate, I think you will see the point here. Political advertising used to be about spreading the name of the political candidate, now it seems to be about conveying the worst ‘half-truths’ about the opponent.

I am certainly not a political pundit, but I do know a bit or two about us grunts that actually work for a living. Not a damn one of ‘us grunts’ really care what the presidential candidates were doing in the early ’70s. ‘Us grunts’ would like to see the war in Iraq ended with the fewest possible casualties on all sides, but that is not all that we think about. ‘Us grunts’ are also a bit concerned about a couple of policies. You see, most of ‘us grunts’ weren’t born horribly rich (George W.), most of ‘us grunts’ didn’t marry horribly rich (John Kerry), most of ‘us grunts’ don’t give a damn about taxes for the richest 1% of the population, hell most of ‘us grunts’ don’t give a damn about taxes on the top 20% of the population. ‘Us grunts’ are looking for a bit of substance in the presidential claims about policies that actually involve ‘us grunts’.

Health Care is a really big ‘for instance’. ‘Us grunts’ don’t really have a lot of options; Making too much money to get free health care, yet not making quite enough money to actually afford the care that we do have. Despite that, laws are being passed to keep us from trying to obtain medicine at lower prices, ‘us grunts’ don’t care for that at all.

Another thing that ‘us grunts’ just can’t seem to understand is why buying a huge, gas-guzzling SUV can get you a tax break. It seems like the price of gas has been going up awfully fast lately, ‘us grunts’ are looking for the most fuel effecient automobile that our meager income can buy. Of course ‘us grunts’ might be able to afford those huge, gas-guzzling SUV’s were it not for the fact that minimum wage is at its lowest point in thirty years (adjusted for inflation), yet I doubt that ‘us grunts’ would buy them anyway… Why waste a precious resource that is already nearly drained?

I would really, really like to care about which candidate has better hair, which candidate did what in the ’70s, which candidate’s daughters have been arrested on the most drug charges, but I just can’t. There is more at stake here than just a figure-head for our country. There are lobbyists, albeit on both sides of the coin, that are willing to give millions or billions of dollars to whoever comes out of this thing as the leader. I have had almost four years to watch what one of them did with that power, now I would like to see anyone else in his position, to see what that power might bring. Damn me for being partisan.

PostScript: I know that the term ‘us grunts’ is not grammatically correct, but nothing else I ever write is either. I used the term ‘us grunts’ only because it starts with two letters that are important to me.

First off, and much to the great relief of everyone here I’m sure, I am not written off of the christmas card list of the friend who sent me the John Saul novel that I have been bitching about so much. In fact, said friend also has his own copy of the novel and was not able to make it through the first few chapters before he realized that he had basically read it in other Saul books. That means, at the very least, that anyone who reads and is also capable of retaining knowledge will know that Saul just keeps recycling the same story. The only explanation for this (why people still buy the books I mean) is that I think a lot of the readers are adolescent and just looking for a quick read with an easy to follow story.

My mother also read this book, my copy in fact, while my wife and I were on vacation, and she thought that it was pretty good, yet, it also seemed oddly familiar. I am now beginning to think that the way Saul is able to have continued success (31 novels worth) is that there is absolutely nothing remarkable about anything he has written. You certainly can’t walk away from the book with a fear of any one person or thing, within a couple of days you wouldn’t be able to name any of the main characters even if threatened with torture. I guess I should just call his work ‘disposable fiction’. Then again, all of the Saul that I personally own is in hardcover, and while I never paid cover price for any of it it is still far too expensive to simply throw away, yet that is what your mind tries to do with it.

If anyone other than John Saul were to send a John Saul novel to a publisher in the hopes of getting it printed they would likely be laughed right out the door. Mind you, that could be said for a lot of authors today. In fact if you start looking at the novels that are called ‘classic’, there are very few authors that have more than one in that category.

Interesting thought, that. Perhaps all of the authors that we consider great today only ever had one good novel, while the rest was mindless dribble, or at least very derivitive of their initial work. That is an unimaginable idea however, since most of the great authors of the past never made a single cent off of their work. I suppose that it would be really great to know that your story has outlasted you, but they never knew; It takes a century or so to see if the story can transcend to that status.

I seem to remember that Edgar Allan Poe (take this test, its fun) died penniless, in a gutter, none of his work ever made him a penny. Yet, some of Poe’s stories are required reading a hundred and fifty years later. On that same note, I somehow doubt that any John Saul will be ‘required reading’ in the year 2154, I could be wrong. (if you happen to be in the year 2154, and are reading this, and John Saul is required reading, please shoot me an email so that I will know that I was in error.)

When I was in my teens, even into my early twenties, I thought that my writing was going to change the world. Of course I have since sobered to the reality that I am likely never going to get a single word put to print before I die. I am not capable of writing with correct grammar, nor do my ideas do more than stem off of the fiction that I have read. The few, truly original, ideas that I have had work well in my head but do not seem to do well when put to paper (computer screen in this case). I do enjoy writing, my friends and family enjoy reading what I have written, yet I don’t seem to have that ‘it’ that is going to make me rise above every other guy in the world who tries to write anything. My ‘fan base’ could be counted on one hand, my grammar is horrible, at this point I am just hoping that someone within the family tries to get the hundreds of short stories in my file cabinet put onto paper someday. The one thing that I do have is really screwed up dreams, that is where the short stories come from. I never have a dream long enough to work itself into a novel though, and that means that what I write is just as forgettable as every other book you have read in the last few years.

As if that is not enough, I just went to the bathroom to find out that I have been wearing my underwear inside-out all day! Life Sucks!

Olympics; Puppy

There is not a lot to say about the news these days. There is the Repuclican National Convention going on in New York City, the 2004 Olympics going on in Athens, of which the American public can watch about 10% of, and that is only when there is an American competitor actually fares well in said event. While it would be nice to actually watch the competition in the Olympic games, it loses something in the chopped up, American highlight type shit that you get to watch here in the states. Considering that none of the events play live on our National Networks, I would rather just not watch it at all.

A friend told me, recently, that they have live streaming video coming from the Olympic games. I am not sure if that is true or not, what I am sure of is that I am crutched by a 56k internet connection and not likely to watch every fifth frame of a video while still considering it “live”. Isn’t that supposed to be some of the glory of the Olympics? You see the people (from any random country) who perform their chosen sport the best? Our media, in the U.S.A., obscures that by only showing events where the U.S.A. athletes perform well, then they fill the time by telling stories of the “hard up-bringing” that the athletes had to overcome to achieve their Olympic dreams. Sure, that does make for a great movie, but what I want to see is the competition.

If the American gymnast totally fucks up, breaks a leg or something, I want to see, at the very least, the medal winners’ performances. This (the Olympic games) is the only venue where people from all countries can compete against each other on an equal footing. Yet, once the U.S.A. is out of the running, the media just seems to shift to a personal story of tragedy that left that particular person without a Mother and Father, which, in turn, made him/her want to compete in the Olympics. I swear that the media is using some formula similar to this…

Yet, my bitch today is not even related to the Olympics. More related to something that I noticed, and tested a few times, regarding computer opponents in actual games.

It is Tuesday, August 31, 2004

I was stopped just as I started yesterday’s bitching, by a puppy (well, full-grown dog that is smaller than the average full-grown dog of it’s breed). That would be our puppy Zelda, who was so angered/whiny when big brother dog went for a walk with mom that I finally just caved in and followed behind them. I originally had hopes of catching up to them before we reached the park, but there was an issue with the fact that Zelda was so excited and jumpy that it was difficult to get the harness on to her.

If you are not a dog owner, especially the owner of rather large dogs, you really need to know about the harness before you do get a dog. The normal way that idiots (most dog owners) walk their large dogs is to use a ‘choke chain’ (I linked there to an article about the disabilities that such collars could cause for a good reason). A ‘Choke Chain’ could be used to great effect by an experienced dog trainer, yet the device is regulary used by any jack-ass who has a dog.

There actually are ways to train a dog on your own, ways that do not involve asphyxiation and broken necks. The easiest way is through positive reinforcement, you know a simple little treat you give the puppy when it does the vocal command. It is not an exact science, nor is it immediate, but it does teach the dog that rewards will be given for performing certain tasks. As time goes on the rewards get smaller, no longer a chewy treat, just a little tummy rub or the such, but the dog will still respond to the vocal command and perform the task.

The unfortunate thing is that any person, who can show a photo ID, can get a pet. That is if they try to get them from a rescue shelter, there aren’t any laws governing who can take a puppy or kitten that they find three houses over. While cats come out of the womb pretty much ‘litter box broken’, it takes some time for a puppy to realize that it is supposed to do the majority of its bathroom duties outside. The little puppy might not understand that you left the pile of Newspapers in the corner so that he would ‘do his business’ on it, but if you show the dog the place that he did pee, then put him on the newspapers, he/she will soon learn that the papers are there for their peeing purposes. After a bit of time, say two weeks if you have a puppy that was just weaned, those papers will get so close to the door that the only time there will be pee anywhere but on the papers is when the dog gets a bit too excited.

Once the dog is ‘house-broken’, a process which could take between a couple of weeks and a couple of years, depending on your level of interaction with him/her, the rest is easy. There is no need for a ‘Choke Chain’, all you need is “Mr. Newspaper”. At least 80-90% of the time, you never have to swing ‘Mr. Newspaper’, you just have to roll it up and look at the puppy. Sure fear tactics are bad and everything, but would you rather all but kill your new puppy with a choke chain, or have it fear a rolled up newspaper?

My/Our dogs are far from perfect, Warlock will chase anything that makes a reflection, while Zelda will bark at any other dog that gets near Warlock. We try to teach them using the command/treat method, and while neither one of them is perfect about following the commands, and neither one would be trusted in a room alone with a child, they are pretty obedient dogs. There has NEVER been a ‘Choke Chain’ on either of these dogs (well, once when Warlock was young, but it lasted only a day or two). We do love our dogs, hell, they are basically our children, there is no way that I would try to strangle a human, why would I do it to a canine?

We (my wife and I) are doing this with larger breed dogs. Warlock has to weigh 60 pounds or so, while Zelda is a very fierce 35 or so pounds. I think that absolute obedience might be impossible, at the very least it is only possible through an obedience school that knows how to correctly use a ‘Choke Chain’. We are not going to be using the ‘Choke Chain’ though, since they have these Harnesses that you can buy pretty cheap.

You just have to remember that you do outweigh the dog by at least a hundred pounds. You certainly don’t have to choke the dog to get obedience, and if you do you don’t deserve to have a pet…Or a child, for that matter.

Survivor; Windows; Childhood hobbies (legal and not)

Well I spent the majority of yesterday at work. Once I got home the new computer was doing the usual things like updating windows and Norton, which has always seemed a bit odd to me, but I guess they were current when they put the computer together six months ago, patches will always be necessary straight out of the box, or so I tell myself.

I also downloaded and installed a few of the things that I simply must have. Including core files to run a couple of games and some ad removal software and the such. Then, just for fun, I decided to try to download the new GuildWars thing that is supposed to have a free demo in a week or so. I must say that I am quite impressed with the transfer speed. Keep in mind that everything about my system is exactly the same, only the tower has changed, but the downloads over a 56k modem seem notably faster. Could it be that I simply had antiquated drivers for the modem on my old machine, possibly. Could it be that more ram and a faster processor make it faster, possibly. Could it be that I was expecting it to be faster, and as such think that it was faster even if it wasn’t, likely.

I am still not quite sure if I like Windows XP or not. It seems to work just fine, in fact it seems to load a lot faster than 98 ever did, and I have not been getting random ‘blue screens of death’ yet. The thing that I find annoying is that they have changed everything around. Moved the buttons away from where they used to be, eliminated the little tray icons for quick launch, just a bunch of little things like that which just annoy me. I was able to find the way to set the appearance to “windows classic”, but opted to just leave it be, I think I should give it a week or so to see if I can get used to it. And get used to it I will, it is not like I am going to return the computer and live in a cave somewhere using windows 98 unwilling to upgrade regardless of how much better the technology has gotten.

On a side note, even as I type this I just got another ‘Urgent warning’ about a security flaw in the Microsoft Virtual Machine that must be patched. I am downloading it, but I tell you that I am going to disable all of the antivirus and system protection on this thing when I hook up to play a game of Diablo. There are three separate things running on the machine, the windows update, Norton and something called ‘BigFix’, bigfix is the one that is continually telling me about all of the patches even though I have seen nothing about security issues on MSN.com. Whether or not all of the patches are necessary is something that I will likely never know. I am sure that in a month or so I will have given up on using all of the ‘live update’ type crap and just go back to just downloading the fixes myself once every couple of weeks.

While I am bitching about Microsoft and related products, I just must mention that I really think the Windows OS has been on a steady decline since the release of Windows 3.1. I do remember that it was a bit of a pain to have to go into DOS and use memmaker to free up enough system memory to play some games, but compare that to the problems that I have had with Windows 98 and it would seem like a cake walk. With 3.1 you had to kind of know what you were doing to make pretty much anything work, which seems bad on the surface, but with later releases trying to do it all for you it simply paved the way to a multitude of ‘blue screens of death’ when the computer is forced to make a decision and decides wrong. Amusing thing with windows 98 that happened at work a couple of months ago. I had installed a new modem (used actually) and when it detected the modem it was looking for the drivers. It could not find them in the windows directory, I didn’t have any disks to install them, so it decided it was going to connect to the internet to try to download the driver for the modem. Then it gave me an error about not being able to connect because I didn’t have the correct modem drivers. I mean really, would any human ever try to do that? It would be like being stuck in the middle of nowhere and trying to get electricity by plugging an extension cord into itself, it just doesn’t make a damn bit of sense, but the computer gave it a go..

The previous portion of this was written yesterday after Mother’s day dinner and prior to the seson finale of Survivor. I completely forgot to upload it, so I am just going to piggy back onto it today.

I would love to go into a long winded rant about the Survivor All Stars, but I am sure that you can find that type of thing all over the internet at this point, and I don’t really care enough about the outcome to do it. One thing that I do think bears mentioning was in regards to a question that one of the jurors asked of Rob and Amber, the question about what they were going to do with the money.

Now everyone knows that Rob lied to and stepped on everyone to try to win the game. The fact that he claimed that he was going to use the money to set up a scholarship fund was so much bull shit. Did he really expect anyone to believe that? Not just Rob, but anyone who signs up for Survivor is out to win the million dollars. When they win the million I bet the first thing they do is buy a fancy car, then likely a house. Maybe after they have blown 80 percent of it on creature comforts, maybe then they will feel a bit guilty about it all and donate some of their old clothes to goodwill. They certainly did not go into the game thinking that they were going to sacrifice their time, struggle to survive in horrible conditions just so that they could donate the money to a good cause. If there are people out there that actually would do that they are just insane.

A final thought about this season’s Survivor. I wonder if Rob would have been so gung-ho about proposing to Amber if he had really thought that he had a good chance of winning. I know that the votes were actually cast months before, but he was able to watch the show just like the rest of us prior to the finale, makes me wonder if he thought he may not be getting the check, or at the very least hedging his bets. I guess I am a bit to cynical since I actually believe that is a real possibility. Or maybe I read to much in the way Rob was portrayed in the editing of the episodes, I am sure for all the bad that he did he probably was also unselfish and helpful also…I hope… Pointless to speculate, but when they show up in some scandal rag after a horrible break-up I won’t be the least bit surprised.

• Something that I saw in the news today interests me a bit. I just read it in the quick notes on some website, not sure where I saw it, that is not really important anyway. The quick note just said that the US is failing to follow suit with the rest of the western world by slowing or requiring permits to purchase ammonium nitrate. I suppose that it should be a bit surprising with the current administration’s ‘Stop Terror Now’ facade. This is the very substance that is used in many terrorist bombs, it is cheap, readily available and you don’t even have to show an ID to buy it. I wasn’t really sure how destructive the stuff was until I googled up some news about it. I didn’t know that this was what was used in the Oklahoma city bombing, I thought that it was just the kind of thing that the terrorists in the middle east use. Who knew.

I bring this up only because of yet another childhood obsession of mine. Pipe bombs. Yes, I built pipe bombs. Not the type that you see on the tv news that were filled with shrapnel and killed and mutilated, no I just did it to hear the boom and see some faux destruction. Without going into any detail about how to actually make them (if you want that there are a lot of sites out there that will tell you, just not mine) I will just give a brief mention of what a few friends and myself did with them.

There is a bit of a digression before I get to that, be warned

First, I remember exactly where I got the idea to try to build one. I was a model rocket entusiast when I was young and always had marveled at the way the little engines would roar to life and send my creation skyward. It was quite an enjoyable hobby, but in the pacific northwest the rocket retrieval ratio was pretty low. Even when I launched them in a five-acre open field the wind would often pull them off into the forest never to be seen again. That was a bit depressing after having spent so much time building and painting a rocket (not to mention the out of pocket cost, which was a lot for an unemployed teenager), just to watch it go up once. I never really lost my enthusiasm for that hobby, but it was put into the background when a new friend introduced me to Radio Controlled Airplanes.

My friend trained me in the basics of flight with a powered glider. He would fly it while it was under power to get it as high as possible, once the engine cut he would let me fly it down, with him handling the actual landing the first dozen or so times. I clearly remember my first landing, as I was getting very low to the ground at far too steep an angle. I tried to pull the nose up and pulled it way too far. The plane stalled and came down from about twenty feet, tail-first, and snapped the fuselage in two. Not the best landing I could have done by far. After repeated failures and mending I was able to land the thing pretty well as long as I had no cross wind. Before long he was letting me fly some of his planes after he had done the take-off, only taking the control away from me if I did something very foolish or if it was time to land (many of them having to land while still in powered flight due to weight issues). He thought I was ready to fly solo, but requested that I buy my own kit and build my own plane so that he would not have any monetary reason to net let me learn by trial and error. (I haven’t thought about him for years, but he was a damn good trainer and friend. I wonder what became of him).

The very first airplane that I built was a Fokker Eindecker. It took me several months to build it, due to inexperience, but came out looking every bit as good as the one in the previous link, only mine was red and my kit didn’t have ailerons. Once the plane was complete, my friend gifted me an old radio, receiver and servos to install in it. That plane was my pride and joy. I had at least a couple of dozen pictures of it even before it ever flew, which I knew it must eventually. I had never actually been at the controls during the take-off (which was a hand-launch in the case of this plane), and decided to let my friend have the honors of the first flight. In retrospect I think mostly I wanted someone a lot better at the sport than me to try it out and make sure that I hadn’t totally fucked up with the installation of the elevator, rudder or some other thing that would just make it impossible to fly, at the time I said I wanted him to have the honor since he had introduced me to the hobby and gifted me the radio -well over a hundred dollar value in the late eighties-.

The plane flew beautifully. I was staring on in amazement as he executed loops and rolls with it. He even did a drop from high altitude followed by a nearly vertical ascent. After about six minutes the engine died and he brought the plane in to land, it touched down so softly it was like a marshmallow landing on a cloud. My little plane was the most beautiful thing that I had ever seen, so quick, so manueverable. I was ready to give it a go myself.

–There is an intricacy to the hand launch that is hard to describe. One person must run with the plane above their head until such a speed is reached that, with luck, the plane will be able to ascend under its own power. Variables like any wind (especially cross-wind), angle of release, the speed of the runner, the height of the release, hell there are tons of variables that I can’t remember since it has been so long since I have flown, can mean instant disaster.–

My friend was going to be doing the hand launching while I was guiding the plane. This was my very first attempt at doing that so I was a bit apprehensive. He ran for a bit and let go. The plane immediately began to dive hard to the left, holding hard to the right while trying to first level, then pull up, I managed to get the plane airborn. It was at that point that I looked down at the radio to see that I had somehow moved the trim for the rudder all the way to the left prior to the hand launch. In my estimate, I was lucky that I was flying at all after that little oversight. Yet, flying I was. No tricks, just mostly a circle around the field. When the engine died I lined up a nice straight course to land in the soft grass. Only inches above the ground I was still holding the wings perfectly level, the landing gear touched down and the rest of the plane followed, but not in a good way. The landing gear was basically the pivot point to swing the cowl into the ground. Luckily I only broke off the tail and it was a quick fix.

It was a couple of days later before we went out to fly my little plane again. Confident in my ability to correct for the variables, I asked him to launch it for me. This time the launch went perfectly. There was no descent, no turning, just a perfect launch. Then as the plane went over the tiny valley created by the two small hills we use for hand launching, a cross-wind caught the wing and sent it almost vertical. without ailerons I was trying to use the rudder and elevator to level the plane as it was heading, at full power, towards both the ground and the trunk of the only tree in the field. The plane was going hard left and down, so I instictively pulled hard right and pushed up, in the panic forgetting that when you push up the plane goes down. There was a marvelous display of balsa and radio equipment exploding on the ground when it hit. I must say that I would not have thought that a fall, even at full power, from only ten or twelve feet could have so completely destroyed my creation. I suppose it is no wonder that they don’t use balsa wood to create commercial airliners.

Back to the bombs.

So having given up on a couple of hobbies along the way (the radio receiver was destroyed in my crash), I decided to find something more destructive to occupy my time. I still had some of the so called ‘solar ignitors’ from the days when I was launching model rockets, as well as the launch box. The launch box is just a button that has a wire running to the pad so you don’t have to light the engine with a match. My dad had a lot of gun powder, since he reloaded his own bullets. I had a lot of free time and some wide open space. What do you think would happen.

I had played with the gunpowder before. I liked to draw designs on the pavement with it, then once you light it there will be a brief fire and the design will stay on the road for a while. Now, though, I was in posession of gun powder and a remote ignition device. I began to wonder what would have happened if the model rocket was not able to expel the energy by forcing itself into the air. I realized quickly that a bomb would be the result. But how powerful would it be? There was a broken wind chime in our old shed. It had a bunch of little pipes on it. Each pipe had two holes drilled in it very near the top end (where the wire that suspended it went through).

My usual target was the wood pile in the back yard. I would put the bomb at the bottom of it and hit the button just to see how much of the wood got thrown how far. As time went by I had to improvise the conatiners, and each time the wood pile was destroyed I had to rebuild it before dad got home. The culmination of my destructive wood pile fetish came when I created the largest (by far) pipe bomb that I ever had and set it off in the wood pile some thirty feet away. One piece, roughly four pounds, hit me square in the back and it hurt like hell. It took me (and a couple of nameless friends 😉 ) several hours to get the wood pile back into a form that even resemled a wood pile. Even after that my dad questioned why a lot of the wood was charred.. We never let on, but I think that he knew what was going on.

After that I never tried to construct another pipe bomb. I am pretty sure that neither of the other two ever did either, as they are both also happily married now and I really think the curiousity about bombs/destruction goes away for most of us after the teen years. I don’t own any guns, or any gun powder for that matter, and happily lock those little experiences away in my mind as things I would rather not have done (now that I am an adult and can look objectively at the risk/reward of what I was doing. Something that you never think of while you are in your teens).

Speaking from the point of view of an adult, I think that it should be much more difficult for anyone to acquire components that can make explosives. I consider myself pretty lucky that I didn’t kill myself or someone else while I was farting around with gun powder as a kid. Now imagine that someone wants to use it to kill/maim, knowing the consequences of their actions. There should be laws in place (in the western world) to keep things like that from happening.

While I was using actual gun powder for my little bombs, imagine the kid on the farm that realizes that fertilizer is the ultimate bomb. Shouldn’t anything that is potentially lethal have slightly better safeguards than, “Well, he didn’t look like a terrorist.”

Fox Sunday; Underworld

Well, I skipped yet another update and the net result was one of my site’s busier days of all time. I had 6 visits, of which I can only name three of them. I think that the pretty picture that I had on the last update might have been a contributing factor. At any rate, yes I skipped another one, and if anyone who is reading this (other than my wife) really cares, shoot me an email to let me know how disappointed you were, perhaps I will feel for you and soldier on, even on days when I really just don’t give a damn. Don’t hold your breath.

There are three contributing factors to my missing an update yesterday. 1) I played way to much of the damn ‘Deadly Rooms of Death’ game. 2) With the obvious exception of ‘South Park’, Fox’s Sunday evening shows, King of the Hill, the Simpsons and Malcolm in the middle are the only reason anyone should ever watch network television (unless you get addicted to ‘Survivor’ like I did, in which case you can watch an hour of CBS on Thursday). 3) I watched a movie that my wife had rented on DVD, which I will likely bitch a lot about later.

The good news on the DROD front is that I have learned all of the necessary tactics to win nearly every board with ease. The even better news is that this has resulted in me not enjoying it quite as much as I did when I started, and as such had no clue how to play or what the hell was going on. The net result of that is that when I enter a new board I will scan it for a minute or two, come up with the solution and then play it through. Sometimes the playing it through can take thousands of moves, literally, and that becomes a tad boring. I think I will go ahead and complete my current level and then give it up. Much like Tetris, this game loses all of the enjoyment once you know all of the rules and the boards become more tedious than actually challenging. Hell, at least Tetris forces you to move faster the further you progress..

As far as Fox’s Sunday night line-up goes, it was pretty good this week and kept me watching. I think it is a solid fact that pretty much any show they put on after ‘The Simpsons’ is going to do really well in its time slot, but ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ is a rather amusing show. Perhaps I only think that because my mother has taken to believe that I am Malcolm, while the older brother who is away (I forget his name) is my oldest brother, and Reece(sp?) is the middle brother, who was always causing trouble just for the sake of causing trouble. As far as that little equasion goes my mother did pull of a pretty good ‘insane mother’, back in the day, while my father was never so subserviant as the father in the show, but it certainly paints a better picture of a real family than say ‘Full House’ for example.

• UnderWorld

Thankfully I did not have to pay theatre price for this movie. I watched it even after reading the horrible review that Flux over at BlackChampagne.com gave it. It was every bit as horrible as he said.

My biggest bitch about the movie is also one of my ‘pet peeves’ when it comes to films. Ammunition. You can either take the Hollywood approach, that is that you never run out of bullets, ever. Or you can take the ‘real life’ approach where both sides have to reload. You simply can not mix those two without making the movie seem absolutely fake. This movie even goes so far as to show you the clip that is being used in the ‘semi-automatic’ gun, which is conveniently ‘fully-automatic’ when it is necessary. Though the clip is mostly empty when you see it, you can deduce that it could only hold eight or nine more rounds, for a total of thirteen or fourteen, at best. Yet, the hand-guns are routinely fired sixty+ times, then they stop to reload. Come on..

Then there is the issue about Selene, she can be all-powerful, when necessary. She can be as fragile as a 300 year old tea service also, when necessary. She can beat the shit out of a dozen of the werewolves, yet can’t seem to open her own nail polish. It just seemed so fake.

As far as the ‘plot twist’ at the end of the movie, if you didn’t see it coming by the time you were a half-an-hour into the movie, you just weren’t paying attention.

The movie did take my mind away from real life for about two hours and that is roughly 1% of a week. By that metric, it only cost a few cents to watch the movie, and I still think I got screwed.