Thursday, December 30, 2004

GamesGamesGames

Games are one of my major obsessions. I have a few.

I've been a gamer for as long as I can remember. I grew up with board games, card games, dice games, roleplaying games, playground games, puzzles, and eventually electronic and computer games. If I couldn't game I'm not sure what I would do.

So people like Jack Thompson* really get on my nerves.

He's not alone. There are a lot of people out there that dream of being able to place the blame for all of the worlds ills on something – anything – other than the people who are actually responsible for the things they choose to do.

Jack seems to have chosen to make suing the gaming industry his life's work. I'm reading through his website and wondering how such a person managed to get as far as he has. The only answer I can determine must involve ignorance and fear. People who aren't interested in gaming as a pastime for themselves, and don't know much about it except secondhand, hear Jack and others like him spout their fear buzzword filled nonsense and take it as fact.

So I'm going to dissect his site for the remainder of this post.


----- Let the fun begin! -----

"This site's purpose is to give you the means to contact Miami attorney Jack Thompson if you know of someone harmed as a result of violent entertainment, including violent video games."

--- How about darts? Billiards? Dwarf tossing? A vicious stripper? Pokemon? I would love to sue someone for the first Pokemon movie.

"One current horrific example is a video game made available by Sony and Take-Two Interactive called Manhunt. This game allows you to train yourself to kill people by placing plastic bags over their heads while you watch them struggle while suffocating."

--- Yeah, because putting a bag over someone's head and suffocating them takes training and finesse. I've played 'Manhunt' and I must say that I wasn't impressed overall. The controls and camera weren't that good. Yes, the killing animations were gruesome, but the gameplay got old long before the end. It was mainly a gimmick game. Oh yeah, and long before I played Manhunt I saw someone killed in the movie 'Snatch' by having a plastic bag taped around his head.

"You may be a parent whose child is addicted to video games."

--- Actually, I'm a parent of two of them. And the brother of one. And myself, natch.

"You may know someone harmed by someone addicted to violent entertainment who copycatted that violence."

--- Okay. Chicken and egg. Who can really say the violent act was learned originally from a video game? If someone causes a victim to burst into flames with their mind and then later claims to have learned it from 'Psi-Ops', then I might buy it. But humans have been killing one another for as long as recorded history and before I'm sure. I doubt there has been a way of killing someone that hadn't been thought of long before the advent of video games, Jack. I even think there may have been some mention of killing in the bible. If my son decides to slay someone by nailing them in the head with a rock, and then claims he got the idea from 'David & Goliath' would you be willing to sue the writers for me? That would certainly be spiffy.

"The victim, whoever it is, needs help."

--- ie: money.

"Jack Thompson will assist in getting that person help."

--- ie: money.

"Please fee free to use the below contact information."

--- That's right. "fee free". Good proofing there, buddy. Inspires shitloads of confidence in your abilities. Oh yeah, can I use your contact info to get you on some mailing lists Jack? You didn't actually say I could only use it to contact you.

"Miami attorney Jack Thompson has appeared on more than 50 national television programs and 170 college campuses over the past twelve years in a national effort to hold accountable the entertainment industry for the harm it does to our children."

--- Twelve years and he still hasn't been able to figure out that some people are just insane and/or violent. Yes, I agree that some people can be sent into violent rages by some form of external stimulus, HOWEVER I don't agree that only one form of stimulus is the cause of the violence, NOR that if the stimulus is eradicated that the person in question would go through the remainder of his/her life without snapping at some other point. I prefer to think that the type of person that loses their shit over a game is the exception and I don't think everyone should be punished by removing something they can peacefully enjoy to keep a few psychos calm for a bit longer. Work toward identifying the loons before they pop. That would be useful.

"Recent medical brain scan studies at Harvard, Indiana University, and elsewhere prove that adolescents' brain functions are damaged by a steady diet of violent images. The heads of six major health care organizations, including the American Medical, Pediatric, and Psychiatric Associations have all testified before Congress in June 2000 that violent entertainment contributes to teen violence."

--- 'Contributes', not 'causes'. Key difference. ANYTHING can contribute to violence. Someone acting rude can contribute to a person snapping, so do we outlaw rudeness?

"Video games are literally "murder simulators" teaching our kids how to kill."

--- Literally? Only if a person can go up to someone and push triangle-square-triangle and rip their head off. Otherwise there is a bit more effort involved.

"The incredibly violent Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,"

--- GTA-San Andreas is much better. I guess the site hasn't been updated recently.

"made by Take-Two Interactive of New York City,"

--- NEW YORK CITY!? (outrage noises)

"has caused multiple copycat killings across the country."

--- This is actually true. Until GTA:VC was released nobody in this country had been killed by being shot, stabbed, hit by a car, set on fire, beaten with a bat, etc. It was a utopia until that serpent GTA took a slither through our garden of bliss and shit.

"A recent Gallup Poll found that any American teen who has played this one game is twice as likely to be engaged in an act of violence than those who have not played this one game."

--- Oh my god! A poll! I'm beat. Wait, define "act of violence."

"In this game you have sex with a prostitute and then kill her grotesquely to get your money back and win the game faster."

--- No, see, you can CHOOSE to have sex with a prostitute. Only you don't see any of it. She gets in the car, you drive to a quiet spot. and the car starts rocking while your health goes up and money level goes down. Unless a kid KNOWS what the rocking car is about, they won't be able to tell it's "sex". How grotesquely you kill someone in the game is a matter of choice. I personally let them live. They work hard for the money. So hard for it, honey. Oh yeah, and bangin' hos isn't the point of the game and doesn't help you win it any faster than not bangin' hos.

"Police officers are set on fire, shotgunned in the face, and innocent pedestrians are run over with cars."

--- GTA is an open game. If you want to set people on fire or run them over you can. If you don't, you don't have to. There is a set goal you are working toward, but how you get there is your choice. Choices. That's the key.

"The Federal Trade Commission in September 2000 found that big entertainment companies aggressively market adult-rated violent movies, music and video games to American children. Presently, Disney-owned ESPN is running ads for the Grand Theft Auto games on programs watched by huge numbers of teens, all in violation of video game industry regulations passed by the industry after the Columbine massacre."

--- Okay, in all seriousness I do agree with this. I've seen some nasty ads for rated "M" games that shouldn't be where they are. But I find a LOT of advertising offensive, not just game advertising. What do I do about it? I don't buy the goods or services of those that offend me. Yeah, I'm looking at you Carl's Junior.

"In April 1999, eight days before Columbine, Jack Thompson appeared on national television to identify the role that shooter video games, specifically Doom, would play in future school shootings. A week later in Littleton, Colorado, Klebold and Harris, who obsessively trained on Doom, killed thirteen."

--- I doubt they "trained" on Doom. More likely they played Doom while all the other shit that was raining down on them built up to the breaking point. You can "train" just as well by playing 'Cowboys & Indians'.

ANOTHER THOMPSON PREDICTION CAME TRUE: Dateline NBC reported Friday, December 13, 2002, that the Beltway Sniper, John Lee Malvo, was compelled by John Muhammad to train on the sniper video game, Halo, switched to sniper-mode or God-mode, to suppress his inhibition to kill." Jack Thompson predicted, in an interview by Matt Lauer on NBC's Today show three weeks before the Beltway Snipers were apprehended, that one of the snipers "might very well be a video gamer as young as 15 trained on a game switched to sniper-mode or God-mode."

--- Halo? A sniper-mode? A God-mode? Halo? Uh. No.

"In 1992, the American Civil Liberties Union named Jack Thompson one of its ten "Censors of the Year" for daring to suggest that Time Warner rapper Ice-T's "Cop Killer" should be pulled from store shelves worldwide. That award is a badge of honor Thompson wears proudly, not only because Time Warner did what he requested but because Thompson was ten years ahead of the national curve in predicting the entertainment-inspired copycat violence we are seeing from a generation raised on violence that Hollywood says is "cool.""

--- Or you could possibly argue that he has been feeding the flames of fear and ignorance for the past ten years, thus helping to fulfill his own prediction. Just a thought.

"I am trying to protect our freedoms. How so? When the next Columbine happens and the perpetrators are proven to be copycatters of adult-rated violent entertainment, then the government, driven by parental concern, really will contract freedom for all Americans. Safety will trump freedom."

--- First, he switches from the third person he has been using so far to first person. Idiot. Second, "Safety will trump freedom." Did you catch that? Fuck FREEDOM, as long as we're SAFE! "Driven by parental concern" implies, to me at least, manipulation through fear and ignorance. "Contract freedom"... you can be free as long as you do this, this, this, and don't do this or this. Welcome to the new freedom!

"When that happens, the entertainment industry will be to blame for our loss of freedom because of its failure now to accept even reasonable marketing standards."

--- Yeah, again, DON'T BLAME THE PEOPLE COMMITTING THE CRIMES. If we lose freedom it'll be due to fucking lawyers and politicians like you and the ignorant sheep you herd along at your sides.

"Jack Thompson has appeared recently on a number of national television program with victims of two teenage Tennessee snipers whom police concluded trained obsessively on Grand Theft Auto to prepare for their sniping spree. Numerous others have been murdered by teens trained on this one game."

--- More TV shows, ambulance chaser? Shooting with a real rifle is nothing like shooting in GTA. And if someone has the inclination to take up a rifle and go out to shoot other human beings, it's not a game that gave them the idea. But it's a lawyer like you that gave them their excuse.

And the rest is his contact information. It amuses me that he links to Rockstar Games though. And what is up with his choice of the red, white and blue checkerboard pattern? Ugly as sin.

--
* Jack's website at StopKill.com appears to have fallen out of registration over the last two years. Luckily, thanks to the Wayback Machine, I'm still able to link to a cached version of the site. Unfortunately, it seems to have lost the horrible checkerboard background that I remember, so it doesn't look so bad now. Apart from still being chock full of stupid.

I seem to be on Satan's spam list.



Seriously though, WONDERFUL choice of art to inspire confidence in your "business venture." I'm totally sold. And calling attention the the word "for"... Sheer GENIUS!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Very interesting

The #1 spot on Entertainment Weekly's "The Best of 2004: Music" category goes to...

(insert drum roll)

..."The Grey Album" by Danger Mouse. Yes indeed. A number one rated album that can't be purchased in any store and is considered illegal by the RIAA. I love it. Yes folks, that's an iceberg ahead, but isn't the band lovely?

If you don't have it and want it, you may have to do a little looking on the interwebthingie or ask around. Much like "the truth" it's out there.

Although I honestly prefer The Kleptone's "A Night at the Hip-Hopera" , I congratulate Danger Mouse (Brian Burton – no relation that I know of) on receiving this honor and I wish him all the luck in the world in dealing with the RIAA goons.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

I was thinking...

a weird thought earlier today, as I tend to do. It didn't start that way, of course. It started with a stray thought and then blossomed into stupidity and/or madness. Here's how it went:

I was once again thinking about vegetarians. Mainly about the whole, "I won't eat anything that has a face." credo that you might occasionally hear from a skinny pale person or see on a bumper sticker or a tshirt.

I don't know why, but there I was, alone with that thought. It tried to be inconspicuous and slip away after sharing its contents with me, but I was bored so I cornered it in one of the darker places in my mind and started to twist it around a bit. To see what would happen.

The first twist was what if "Science!" manages to bioengineer a faceless animal that tasted like ice cream or something equally yummy. Would it still be considered off limits? What if it was grown from the ground? Would the word come down from the Vegan high council that the "Faceless Ice Cream Bush Critter" was approved eating? It has no face so it cannot scream any louder than a carrot...

And that's where I twisted the idea around a bit more and it took on this shape:

What if "Science!" discovers that plants actually DO have faces, we just didn't notice them until now because they are quite unlike our faces, or even animal faces, yet they ARE there? What will vegetarians eat then? I know, plants don't have organs and jiggly bits so they are entirely not animals, but they are alive. What makes their lives any less sacred than a cow?

Twist:

Cows are sacred in India, right? I wonder if bean sprouts are sacred anywhere? Perhaps "Science!" will find a lost tribe somewhere... ummm... near bean sprouts... and the scientists will learn to their horror that the tribe believes that bean sprouts house the spirits of their ancestors. They learn this because Bill, the resident vegetarian botanist (he knows good eatin' when he sees it) is spotted by members of the tribe harvesting some of their ancestor patches for his lunch and they totally freak out. Bill's last thought as the rock that will kill him is hurtling toward his head is, "This will go quite nicely with some tofu."

Okay. That's quite enough of that. Seriously. Violent bean sprout revering lost tribesmen and vegetarian botanists named Bill. That's just silly. Go away mangled thought, I'm through with you.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Surprise! Another sign!

The last sign was chibi crossing, although I realized after posting it that I messed up a bit. And it was stupid, you don't have to tell me.

Here's the next one, although it's obvious. I just liked the way it turned out.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Random Observation (of FUN!)

Great Moments in Science - Lemmings Suicide Myth

All I know is that I enjoyed getting a group of about fifty in a pit and activating their little time bombs. In the game, of course. They would all put their hands to their individual faces, shake their bushy heads and exclaim, "Oh no!" as the counter ran down from "5". Then popPOPpoppity-pop! Fireworks, baby!

Now I have an overwhelming urge to play Lemmings.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

One more sign

The last sign was: "Jaywalkers will be set on fire"

Here's the new one:



Now back to work for me.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Look at me cop out...

Between feeling sick, being busy at work and being busy getting ready for Christmas I really doubt that I will have anything of significance to post until next week.

If I do, I surely will. It's just that if I were a betting man...

That said, I hope that everyone who takes time out of their day to visit this odd little spot that's my home on the internet has a wonderful holiday of their choice.

(Using Derek's patented "no content post format") Look! Here is an elf for you to enjoy:

Friday, December 17, 2004

I got this at lunch:



click

I really shouldn't have, especially this close to Christmas, but what the heck. Nobody knew I wanted it, and all my gift shopping is done for this year.

I love the early Peanuts.

(Also I saw THIS at Borders and I REALLY want it for my birthday – $135 at Borders, $81 at Amazon. 20lbs. worth of Far Side cartoons. Must...have...)

What was I thinking?

The last sign was intended to represent "Don't get any bright ideas" which would make Derek's guess the closest. And that figures since he's known me the longest. Let's see if he gets this one:



Just remember, this isn't really a contest. Just because you don't think of what I thought of doesn't make you wrong (unless you are Derek). In fact I liked Heather's and Robyn's answers better than mine. So please, take a guess.

The long and winding post...

Tomorrow marks the six month anniversary of the first movie that Heather and I went to together. Actually, we saw two movies that night. And a third the following day.

The first movie was 'Dodgeball'. Not exactly a normal date movie, but it wasn't a normal date.

Heather is the sister of Derek, my friend and long time coworker. She and I had only been around each other a few times prior to that night, always in group settings (Derek's wedding, Andy's wedding, a couple of game nights at their parents' house, karaoke once). When we were around each other we didn't interact beyond the most basic of social niceties, due at least in my part to shyness.

What finally brought us to each other's attention was blogs. Seriously. In mid-February Derek had announced to me that he was setting up a blog, and if he was then I was too*. He's always been pretty good at talking me into doing something that I don't particularly want to to do, with the notable exception of playing hockey. So two days after his first post, I posted mine. A couple of weeks later he was talking about how amused his sister was with our sites and I said something along the lines of, "Didn't you say that Heather liked to write? You should talk her into starting her own blog." So he did, and she started "Matted Spam."

For the next few months the three of us were our most regular readers and comment providers. During this time I found myself looking forward to Heather's comments the most. She and I were also chatting in AIM and we were both finding that we had many things in common. One of those things was a love of movies**.

We had been chatting about movies that were coming out and one of us mentioned 'Dodgeball'. We both agreed that it looked like a very funny movie and I found myself asking her if she would like to see it with me that Friday night, with perhaps dinner beforehand. She said she would love to go to the movies and dinner. We worked out the details and then all that was left was the waiting.

Okay, while writing this I've been trying to avoid mentioning one very important detail. Longtime readers, family, or people who have dug through our archives already know this, but in case you didn't: Heather is married. Many years ago I had sworn to myself that I wouldn't get involved with a woman who was in any kind of relationship. Someone had done that to me and my long time girlfriend (and mother of my two children) and I fully intended to never be like that guy. I knew how painful it was, and how hard it was to get through. Yet...

I told myself, and anyone else who inquired, that this movie night was just two friends getting together and nothing more. I like movies; she likes movies. Sure, we flirted a bit back and forth on AIM and in comments, but I was certain it was harmless. At least on her part. I knew that deep down I was falling for her and that I shouldn't be. But I wasn't going to let her know, for several reasons.

The main reason was because I didn't want to lose the friendship that we had started. I tend to overanalyze things and run through as many possible scenarios as I can for a given situation and I then latch on to the worst possible one as most likely. Using that same process I figured that I was reading everything that had gone on between us totally wrong and that I was alone in my feelings. If I told her how I was feeling I would be totally rebuffed and that would also lead into my other fear. What would her family, and especially Derek (since I work with him) think after they heard about the feelings that I had for their married daughter/sister? I couldn't see it turning out good any way I looked at it.

So it was just going to be a dinner/movie date and that was it.

I picked Heather up at her parents' house, said "Hi" to her mom awkwardly (fortunately her dad was working), certain that my face was betraying how I felt, especially when I saw how lovely Heather looked. It's not that I drooled or anything that obvious. But all the same.

Our first stop was Gunther Toody's where we had dinner and chatted for awhile. Mostly about movies, blogs, and stuff like that. I can't recall everything because my mind was going in so many circles it's amazing that it didn't drill itself out my skull.

After dinner we made it to the movie, got popcorn and drinks, found our seats and watched the film. I was very conscious of how close she was, sitting next to me. She felt so comfortable that I didn't want the movie to end. But it did of course.

During the ride back to her parents' house we were talking about how much we liked the movie, and the conversation turned to "Starsky & Hutch" which also starred Ben Stiller and how I needed to see it. We both decided that we weren't ready for the evening to end and that we should see another movie.

When we got back to the house Heather told her mom our revised plans, and although "Starsky & Hutch" was playing at the dollar theater, it had already started so we were going to have to choose a different movie. After a bit of discussion we agreed upon "The Terminal" which was playing at the theater we had just left. So off we went again. Lord knows what her mom thought of it all.

While we were waiting for the movie to start we were chatting. You could have cut the tension with a knife, and I couldn't tell if it was all on my part. But I wasn't certain, and I wasn't about to say anything unless I was positive that she felt as I did. At some point during our conversation we started talking a bit about how we felt about one another and it turned out that we were both afraid of the same things. Heather confessed that she cared more for me than she probably should, considering she was married. She was afraid that I didn't feel the same way about her, and that I only saw her as Derek's sister. I quickly assured her that I cared far more for her than just as my friend's sister. All the while my mind had resumed its spin as I wondered what would happen next, now that the first step had been taken and was met with acceptance rather than rejection.

Then the movie started, and we held hands through the entire thing.

We both agreed afterward that we were going to take it slow and see where things went.

I won't go into any more detail other than to say that Derek figured out something was up between us first and he didn't kick my ass like I was expecting; Heather's husband left her within a couple weeks of our first date; and her family and I helped get the house they had been renting cleaned up and helped her move her stuff into her own apartment. There's a lot more to all of that, but I'm content to leave it in the past.

Things have finally calmed down and we are getting along quite well. I'm happier with Heather than I've been in years. I originally thought that if we could make it past three months that we would have a chance. Now that we are a day away from six months I'm hoping for a lifetime. I feel that she both compliments me and completes me in so many unexpected and necessary ways, and I intend to do everything I can to keep things fresh and interesting between us. It's not going to be easy (I didn't have the best "relationship" role models when growing up), but she's worth it.

I love her with all my heart.

---
* I had already been considering it for some time, I just hadn't committed to it. By that point I had already been a daily reader of several blogs, of which only Mark Maynard and boing boing have remained in my "must visit" list.

Quite a few months prior to his decision to start blogging I had sent Derek a link to JSP's '665' site, and something about it must have clicked with him. And here we are, ten months later.

** I have not finished my post that I started about my "obsessions" but movies are one of them. I have close to 700 DVDs and DVD sets. I'm not kidding. It's nuts and I don't know how it happened. One at a time I guess.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Last post of the day goes to:

"It's a Wonderful Life" in 30 seconds with bunnies.

An enjoyable story, although a tinch short.

Almost a week ago I stumbled across "The Kif Pit" while blog hopping. As it happened* I was only a couple of posts away from this post where Kif was venting about some criticism her mother had tossed sideways at her regarding a story that she had written and then submitted to a "gang of yahoos" on the internet to offer critiques. Her mom felt they had ruined the story and that Kif shouldn't have listened to them. Kif had thought she was talking about her story 'Pree', when she wasn't. Confusion and hurt feelings abounded. Anyway, all of the information about that incident is at that post.

I left a comment asking where I could find 'Pree' to give it a read myself, and Kif was nice enough to send me a "Review Copy" of the story to check out.

I just recently finished it and I enjoyed it a lot. Even though I wasn't able to read it straight through, uninterrupted, the 97 pages flew past. The pacing was good, the necessary details were present, the dialog didn't feel forced and I liked the main characters and their motivations. There could have been a bit more development for the secondary characters so that their fates would have had more of an impact on me. But overall a good story. In fact, I would REALLY like to read a continuation from where 'Pree' leaves off (hint, hint).

In return for the free copy of 'Pree' I've added a link to my sidebar that will take you to lulu.com (a site I intend to use if Heather and I can ever get a book put together) where Kif has 'Pree' for sale as both a hardcopy book ($7.72) and a download ($1.25). If you like sci-fi, and have a few bucks to pass along to a new author, you could do far worse than 'Pree.'


---
* Seriously. There was some major luck involved. Kif writes like a person possessed. I don't mean all crazy and such. I mean she writes A LOT. When I was digging up a link to the post it had almost been knocked into the archive by all of the newer posts.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Because I'm lazy.

Yesterday's post gave me an idea for a regular feature that I'll be adding to my site. It's possible that it will be weekly, every other day or whenever I can't think of something else to post. I'm hoping it will remain interesting and won't turn into a crutch. Time will tell. On to the feature!

I've always been intrigued by the ability of simple symbols to convey an idea across all kinds of language barriers. (1 picture = 1K words, etc.) Some work better than others. And some are just so odd that you wonder what their creator was thinking. I like the odd ones (surprise).

I'm going to post a sign once in awhile – at least one a week – and I ask you, my dearest readers, to name it. Simple enough. Be as clever as you want to be with the names. I'll let you know when I post the next one what I had in mind for the last one.

That said, here's the first one:

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

It's just one of those days.



I decided to modify it a bit. Click to see the original. Which do you like better?

Monday, December 13, 2004

Can I take the heat?

I'm considering putting together a writing sample to submit to this site. The only thing that keeps me from doing it is the fact that it hasn't been updated since mid September. Oh! I almost forgot! I'm also not a writer. Other than those two things I'm all over it.

I find it interesting to read what she has to say about the past submissions. The submissions themselves are also helpful to compare against my own style of writing. "Loose and wrong" is a style, isn't it? I better hope so.

If I were to shift mediums for a moment from writing to music, then I would place my skill somewhere at the level of an occasionally amusing, usually disturbing, crazy-eyed homeless guy at the subway entrance blowing into a harmonica with a hat at his feet and a sign around his neck that reads, "Anything helps. God bless! I do parties." Your opinion may vary depending on how close you are to me and if I am armed.

What do you random visitors think? Should I give it a shot? Or do you have other suggestions/observations/personal critiques to offer?

I eagerly await your responses.

Un-freaking-believable... Oh, and Happy Monday!

Okay. I was all set to send off the story of my Sears Odyssey via email to their Customer Support in the hopes of finding a way around needing the 3-digit code to set up my online account.

I had the whole thing written and when I looked for the customer service email address I was given this:



So, in essence, this means that in order to send this email about how I am unable to get a replacement card with the 3-digit code that I need in order to register my online account, I have to register my online account. Which needs my 3-digit code. That I can't get.

Sorry about this thefoxymama, but

YOU STUPID-ASS MOTHER FUCKERS! ARRRRGGGGHHHH! (spitting fire looking for shit to kill).

So. Any suggestions? I suppose I could print it out and send it to the address they give for "Billing disputes" but I doubt that would accomplish much other than having it sent back as "not our department".

Friday, December 10, 2004

Bugger this for a lark. I'm off!

One of Jenn's recent posts reminded me of a similar incident that happened with me when I was a child.

My mom had placed me in this thing called "Kindergarten" and after about two weeks or so I'd had enough.

I was spending my days at a baby sitter's house at the time* and it was a very short walk from there to my Elementary School, so once the sitter was sure I knew where I needed to go I was allowed to walk myself. Those were the days, eh?

Kindergarten had started to become a drag, what with the whole instructions on brushing your teeth, playing nice with others and such, so one day while walking to school I wondered if the cement block filled culvert that was nearby would be a more interesting place to spend my time. So I tried it out, and damned if it wasn't!

In the culvert there were all those big blocks to climb around on, sandbars to dig around in and all manner of things that had washed up against the blocks when it had rained. If I recall right there was even a shopping cart!

At school there were rules and teachers and annoying kids that always wanted what I was playing with. Where's the fun in that?

"That's it," I said to myself. "No more school for me."

And every morning for the next several days I would leave the sitter's house, walk toward school and then detour into the culvert where I would spend the day playing to my heart's content. Then, when I heard the bell go off that indicated school was done I would brush myself off, gather up my stuff, go back to the sitter and wait for my mom to come pick me up.

I think this lasted for about three days or so.

On the final day of my self liberation I happened to look up from playing on the blocks and saw my mom furiously bearing down on me with murder in her eyes. I screamed and ran! She ran after me yelling at me to "Stop right there mister! Don't make me chase you!"

I ducked and dodged my way around the cement blocks while thinking to myself, "Well that's just great! Now I'm going to have to run away, because I don't dare let her catch me after this!" But it was no use. She was pretty nimble for an adult and snagged me at one point where my zag should have been a zig.

She hauled me up to the car by the ear (I think) while alternating between telling me how much she wanted to ring my neck and being relieved that I was safe ("First you wanna kill me, now you wanna kiss me. Blow."). She explained to me that what I was doing was "very dangerous and what would you do if you fell and got hurt? What then?" Of course my answer to that was, "That would NEVER happen mom! I'm an excellent climber!" The immortality of stupid youth.

I asked her how she knew I wasn't going to school. It never occurred to me that they would call her after I hadn't shown up for several days and they hadn't heard anything. I figured there were enough other kids there, they weren't likely to miss me. Apparently I was wrong.

I can't really recall everything that was said, or what happened after that point. Somehow she must have convinced me to return to school because I graduated 12 years later. But I never really did take to it.

---
* I don't remember much about this sitter. Other than the fact that she had a very creepy sad-clown painting in her bedroom, and she had a little wiener dog the bit my ear open one day. Also, it was there that I first taught myself how to tie my shoes. That's right. Taught myself. When I showed her I recall that she patted me on the head and said, "That's nice. Now go see if you can do it again."

Okay, this doesn't count as a post,

but I wanted to share this with any fans of Alice in Wonderland who may happen to be visiting my blog: Alice

Since you aren't doing anything this weekend*...

Why not check this out: textfiles.com

Personally, this brings back a lot of memories, both from the pre-internet, BBS days to as far back as my first Junior High School typing class (I got a 'D') when I would try to make ASCII artwork instead of practicing the home row keys (asdf jkl;).

I'm not going to say those were the golden days, but they were certainly different than these days.

There's a wealth of interesting files from days gone by here. Enjoy. I should have another post before the end of the day.

---

* You ARE doing something? Fine. Be like that. See if I care.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

No time for funny today...

So go here and be amused: "The First Annual TGSNT (The Greatest Story Never Told)"

Yeah. That's no good.

Looked at my header again with fresh eyes this morning and decided that it was just not good. So, back to the old. Although I may make an all new one by New Years Day.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A quickie. Enjoy.

Dark Side Switch Campaign

Re: A slight redesign of my header.

I had this idea yesterday of putting my floating head drawing from my header on the body of sullen little me age 3 or 4 from the sidebar and then tossing it back in the header.

Good, bad or indifferent?

Sears: The Odyssey

Let me start off by saying that I was not a good Sears cardholder in the past. I recognize that fact and freely admit it. I was horrible with paying my bill even close to on-time, and during my time of unemployment and low paying jobs it wasn't even close to the top of my list of people who needed my money.

Times have changed. I can afford to make the payments and seriously desire getting the damned thing paid off and out of my life. The problem is I'm still no better than I ever was with getting things mailed on time, and the two local Sears stores are both way out of my way in my general day-to-day travels.

However I found out that Sears offers its cardholders the ability to pay their bill online. That works fantastically with me and Visa. I'm never late with them, and can usually pay a bit extra from time to time. I thought, "that would work out perfectly and perhaps Sears would learn to forgive my past financial transgressions over time."

Here's the catch: You have to have a card that was issued within the last, I dunno, six years or so. Because it has to have a 3-Digit Verification Code for you to even SET UP YOUR ACCOUNT! God forbid some STRANGER logs in and pays my bill (I understand that other things can be done to your account, but seriously there should be some way to work around this).

My account was started in 1991, and the last time I ordered a replacement card was apparently in 1997. So, no 3-Digit code.

But there was a link to click if you did not have the code and it said: "If you have a Sears Card and do not have a 3-digit verification code, please call 1-800-917-7700. Follow the instructions to request a replacement card. After receiving the new card with the 3-digit code, please return to www.SearsCard.com to register and enroll your account at that time. Thank you."

Okay. I would report my card as damaged (which it is, it's all kinds of messed up:



dead magnetic strip and starting to crumble.) and I should get a replacement card that had the 3-Digit code. Easy.

So three weeks ago I did that, and at the end of all the freakin' button pushing that seems to be mandatory when dealing with any corporation these days I was transferred to Customer Service because there had been a processing error of some kind.

When I finished explaining everything to the actual human who answered the phone, she said they couldn't issue a new card for that account but she would transfer me to their computer people and they might be able to help me get my online account set up.

After explaining what I was trying to accomplish to their computer guy on duty he said, "I'm looking at this and it says your account is closed. Everything is being transferred to a new account number and you should receive a new card in about a week. Which is a good thing because I can't get you around needing that verification code. Bye."

Well, okay then! All should be good.

Cut to last Sunday night at 8 pm when I get a call from the company who handles Sears' deadbeat cardholders. The woman I spoke with was a horrible, collection services employee. You know the kind, they immediately assume that everything spilling forth from your mouth is a lie and that everyone would be better served if you were just shot in the head rather than listened to any longer.

Actually it didn't start off like that, but it certainly devolved to it.

She: "Hello, I'm calling on behalf of (whoever it is that handles this: I think it's Citigroup) regarding your Sears charge account. I need to make arrangements for you to pay $35 on your Sears account as soon as possible."

I explain how I don't know what my account number is because my account was closed and I am waiting on my new card at which point I will be logging right on, setting up the account and making a payment. That's when her tone took a turn for the nasty.

"I can go ahead and set up an automatic checking account deduction over the phone and get you current."

No. I'm not keen on that. I don't tell her this but I NEVER set up an automatic deduction of any kind that I don't have any kind of paper trail for. I'm far too paranoid. Not gonna do that. So I say, "No thank you. I would rather pay online or in the store, but since I know the account number has changed I didn't think I could pay in the store without the new number or a new bill."

She: "I need you to set up a payment date today. When can you make a payment in the store?"

Me: "How can I make a payment in the store if I don't know the new account number?"

She (in mocking sing-song tone most people reserve for their inferiors): "DO you know your name? DO you know your social security number? DO you know your address? Then you can give them that information at the store and make a payment."

Me (in a cold tone I reserve for people who have pissed me off by talking down to me): "I think I would rather find out where my new card is and pay online."

She: "Fine. I will put down that you refuse to make a payment."

Me (Arrrrrrgh!): "I'm not saying that I won't make a payment, I just want to find out what has happened with my new card."

She: "And I need a date when you will have the payment in the store. You can call customer service to find out about your account. You DO still have their number DON'T YOU? Since you ALREADY called them before."

Me (totally pissed, wishing I could injure long distance with my mind): "Yes, I have their number. I'll make a payment on the 15th."

She: "Fine. I'll make note of it in your account."

Me: "Fine."

*click*

Today I called customer service, hoping there would be good news. There isn't. I was informed by a considerably nicer woman (but seriously, who wouldn't be nicer) that my old account was in fact closed, but I will not be issued a new card because purchase activity has been suspended on my account. Yeah, like 10 years ago.

"Okay," I said, mind already trying to think of a way around this, "How do I make a payment in the store if I won't be getting a new card?"

She: "You will have to give the person at the counter your name, your address and your zip code and they'll make sure it goes to the right account."

Me: "And I'm going to have to do this every time from now on?"

She: "Yes. Sorry."

...

So now, rather than finding a way to make it far easier to pay my Sears card off, regularly and on time, it's the same as it ever was and a bit worse. My Sears card would seem to be my own personal albatross. I don't think I'll ever be rid of it.

And to Sears: Your company is too large and too distanced from everyday people if there isn't a way to work around this for an account that can't even be used to purchase ANYTHING.

Perhaps I'll send this along to someone there and see what comes of it.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Well. That was embarrassing.

Around 9-ish this morning (I arrived at work at 7:55 - early for once) I happened to glance down at my right sleeve and I noticed that something looked... odd. Somehow wrong. Then in a flash I realized what it was and started to get the squirming jitters.

I had put on my shirt inside out when I got dressed this morning.

Yes, that's right. Apparently I wasn't aware of how I had dressed myself until about two hours later. I checked my pants real quick, but they were good. Zipped and facing the right way. That must be the "silver lining" they speak of.

The shirt I am wearing is a button up crew neck so there isn't much of a collar to speak of. And the proper number of buttons were already buttoned so I never noticed they were now on the INSIDE of the shirt. However the tag on the back isn't one of those little, barely noticeable things. It's a large rectangle sown directly into the back. Like a big ol' idiot badge of honor. I noticed this because as soon as I had figured out that "things were wrong" I felt the back of my neck to assess the obviousness of my situation. It's a BIG tag.

I looked around the room at the other artists working at their desks and considered my options. My first instinct was to try and quickly flip it off right-side out and then put it back on but I discarded that thought as too difficult to play off, "I... um... had an itch that I had to take my shirt off to scratch."

Then I considered the exists to the two ground floor bathrooms. The closest was very close, but I would have to walk past Derek and Scott's desks. Casually. Not good.

The other bathroom is at the other end of the building, through the reception area and past the Account Executive's area. I had already gone out there at least once this morning, but then I was oblivious to the situation at hand. Not to mention that I would pass in front of Kellie, Ray and Kathy (although either option I took everyone would have a good shot at noticing.)

Then I thought once again about just scrunching down behind my monitor wall and doing a quick change and act like nothing happened, "What? I never did! You're crazy." Nononono. Just won't work.

Fine. At least if I went to the closer bathroom, fewer people might be exposed to my glaring inability to dress myself than if I cross the entire building. Again.

So I got up from my desk, walked around it and headed as casually as I could to the bathroom, which was luckily unoccupied. If it had been occupied I would have gone to plan #2: go outside and do a quick change in the parking lot (the side door is almost opposite the bathroom door) in front of God and Colorado.

I went in, closed the door behind me, flipped my shirt right-side out and checked the mirror to make sure my hair wasn't messed up (hah!). Then I thought about flushing the toilet, because that's what you generally do when you go into a bathroom for any reason other than Nature's call (done "reading" your dad's porn? Better flush. That'll fool them). But I decided, "Nah. I have nothing to hide now. Shirt's fixed!" and went back to my desk. Again, as casually as I could. Show's over. Nothing to see here.

So far I haven't heard anything about it, so I may have gone unexposed. Until I wrote this, of course. Now Derek will know, but he has no proof! This could all have been made up! Who knows? Hah!

For what it's worth, if it DID really happen (not saying it did or anything) it has been a nice jolt of nightmare like quality which makes any day more interesting. I can't wait to see what tomorrow has in store for me.

A quick thwack to the back of the noggin.

(Warning: this post contains a bit of naughty language down around the end. Mom.)

That's what the lady in front of me at the drink dispenser at Schlotzky's yesterday needed. And badly.

I understand "rude" and have probably committed acts in public that would be deemed "rude" but this lady has me topped. I think I would have to actually pee on someone's leg to make them as annoyed as she made me.

Perhaps I'm overreacting. You decide. Here's what she did:

She stood at the soda fountain, blocking it from anyone else that wanted to use it (me), put ice in her cup, then took out her cell phone and made a call (with a one handed balancing act to dial since she was holding her cup in her other hand). THEN she filled her cup with Diet Coke while I just stood there next to her staring at her in disbelief.

Should I have reached out and thwacked her? Or perhaps jostled her a bit so her phone fell in her cup? Alas I did nothing but wait it out like the good civilian I am.

I wish I'd had the nerve to at least say, loudly, "For the love of Saint Fuckerpants lady! You aren't the only person in the world you know! Hell, you're CALLING someone so you SHOULD know! If your call is SO important that you can't wait until you finished getting your drink then step the fuck out of line! Bitch!"

But I guess that's just not me.

Monday, December 06, 2004

I do believe

that there may come a day when I look back on this particular post and say to myself, "Well, you can't say you weren't warned..."

Wired News: Blogs May Be a Wealth Hazard

I love this...

It's one of those things that I see and think, "Why didn't I think of this?" Other than the fact that I've never actually taken an anatomy class, of course.

Michael Paulus :: Skeletal Systems :: A character study of 22 present and past cartoon characters.

Coinkydinky Day

On Saturday Heather and I were on our way back from doing a bit of Christmas shopping (were we ran across Derek and his wife Heather at their mom's store) when we noticed a few things that seemed interconnected and odd.

There was a white car in front and to the right of us that was missing it's front-passenger side quarter panel.

The truck right behind that car was missing the same quarter panel.

We thought they might be traveling together but when we came to a red light the car moved into the left turn lane and the truck stayed beside us.

The car that was now in front of the truck at the light started to pull into the intersection when the green arrow came on for the turning lane and nearly smashed into the opposing traffic. I examined the car of the fool for any indication of why he might be so stupid (as I like to do when it's not me being stupid) and noticed that he had the little handicapped symbol on his license plate (in the place of the hyphen between the numbers. That's how we do it here.) and thought, "ah. old guy. glad he's in front of us."

And then I noticed that the car directly in front of us ALSO had the handicapped hyphen on his plate (but he didn't pull into oncoming traffic)

When I pointed it out to Heather she agreed that it was weird and wondered what else might be going on. Since I wasn't the one driving I started looking around and saw that the car in front of us (unconfused handicapped driver) had a large yellow "Support the troops" ribbon magnet on his back end AND we saw that the truck with the missing quarter panel ALSO had a large "Troop" ribbon magnet on his truck when he got a bit ahead of us.

But Heather said that they weren't the same type of magnet, so it didn't count. The truck's was half yellow and half US flag pattern. BUT THEN the car in front of us turned off to the right and we caught up with "Death Wish on Wheels" and HE had two small, totally flag patterned "Troop" magnets on either side of his license plates.

I know that if you look hard enough you can find similar things almost anywhere, but still it was interesting (to us at least).

And there were a few other coincidences throughout the day that I can't really recall now since I didn't really think to keep track after the initial oddness. I wasn't even really planning on posting about it, but something was said in a conversation a bit ago about coincidence and it reminded me.

So there you go. Happy Monday all.

Friday, December 03, 2004

I'm SO honored.

This is a bumper sticker I saw the other morning on the way in to work:

"Every Student is an Honored Student at Rockrimmon Elementary"

And it started me wondering as I tend to do on my 30-40 minute drive in since I don't have a radio in my car.

Who would put that sticker on their car? Perhaps a parent who's child is "less" than exceptional and wants it known that their school still honors little Billy Dimbulb and considers him every bit as good as the brighter children. Or that it will fool the neighbors into thinking that Billy is an Honor student and a misunderstood genius instead of a thug larvae.

And is this something that the driver actually had to go into the school and pick up (or even worse; purchase) or was one stapled to each child some random Friday before they were sent home?

Assuming that time was invested by the parent, what does this tell Billy (if he's paying attention I mean)? "Let's face it son, you won't be bringing home one of those 'My Child is an Honor Student at..." stickers any time soon – Heck! Ever! – unless you beat up a smart kid and steal one and the bumper on the Dodge is just screaming out the need for some parental bragging verbiage, so I just decided to take matters into my own hands. Son. Son... Would you please stop licking the wall and tell me that you still love me."

And assuming that it was given out free with each child purchased what kind of person would actually affix it to the car? Not everything sticky that comes home from your kid's school needs to be stuck to your bumper. If you were worried about upsetting your marginal child's fragile ego there are ways of deflecting that. Say, "Instead of putting it on our car where we will almost never see it, let's stick it to the fridge with a magnet so we can see it any time we want, because really, how often do we see the back of the car?"

I'll tell you what that bumper sticker says to me. It says that the faculty at Rockrimmon Elementary has buckled under the pressure of the Parents of Idiotic Children coalition and announced to everyone that there are no longer bad children nor good children at their school. Only children, and who are we to judge? We love them all so much! Stop suing us! Here's a sticker.

Feh.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Busy

Our workboard has e'sploded with artwork orders the last two days. So, in the meantime here's something to amuse you: CDC - GHO - Kids' Page - Disease Cards 1

Be amused.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I loved it. Really, I did.

Wendy linked to this in the comment field of Derek's Thanksgiving post and it was VERY amusing. A slightly less insane Don Herzenfeldt kinda thing. Watch and enjoy: Mr. Otto in "Olympics"

He also has this and this.

ALSO this is a cool browse: SNAPS: Community Photoblog

Those were the days my friend

My first duty assignment in the USAF was at RAF Upper Heyford* in England. Since I was single I was posted to the enlisted dorm and since I was an A1C I had to have a roommate.

The first roommate I was assigned to was a guy from my shop named Mark Reese. He was a very quiet guy, who rarely talked and kept to himself for the most part. He also chewed tobacco. In spite of this we got along pretty well.

Over time we started hanging out with another dorm rat named Ken Davis** who was in Avionics as I recall. Ken was the total opposite of Mark. He was large, loud and could put away a serious amount of alcohol. He was a very fun guy to be around. We used to torment the shitkicker contingent of the dorm personnel on Country music night at the base club by playing Ivor Bigguns' song "Halfway Up Virginia" (I love the internet) as loud as we possibly could on Ken's stereo over and over. I'm surprised the SPs never showed up. Or some irate Country music fans.

One afternoon the three of us (his roomie was off doing something for God) were hanging out in Ken's dorm room watching videos on his kickass VCR*** when from the top bunk where Ken was sitting I heard, "Garrrgh! PLah! MARK! Were you using this Coke can for your SPIT?!"

Mark just grinned and said, "I guess so, sorry."

"Man that's fucking NASTY! You need to mark your cans or something!"

Ken had taken a huge drink of tobacco spit tea. It was as funny as it was horrifying. I had learned before that incident to keep my soda close and not drink from anything I'm not sure of around Mark. Ken had to learn the hard way.

Amazingly he didn't kill Mark and even eventually even had him as a roommate of his own.

But that's a story for another time.

---
* I googled RAF Upper Heyford to be sure that I was spelling it correctly (because it has been YEARS since I've written it out) and found the site that I linked to. I haven't given the base any real thought in years, but I just found out from that site that it was closed down 10 years ago.

I'm absolutely amazed that I feel sad by this. Seriously amazed because at the time I was there I was pretty miserable. The only bright spot really was finally being in England. Yet, in thinking about it that was also the happiest time I spent in the Air Force. Except during chemical warfare exercises of course. It doesn't help that England was followed up by a year at Dyess AFB in Abilene Texas, "Home of the B-1 Bomber" and all kinds of cow smells and heat.

Logically I would never be seeing this base again, but the fact that it has closed has shaken me to the core. Bizarre. One of the many thoughts zooming through my head was "I wander what happened to the Peace Campers."

I was a member of the 20th CRS in the PMEL (Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory) shop from 1988 to 1990. For whatever that's worth.

** I found what might be his email address on the duty roster of the linked page and have written to him. I'll let you know what comes of that.

*** I've never seen a VCR like this one since. I know it was seriously expensive, but it was able to slow down a video to a steady frame by frame playback as well as many other strange video features (like a plasma image filter). It was with this slow playback that we were able to see, in the movie 'Bad Taste' by Peter Jackson, a hand holding a bucket toss out the blood as Peter's character, Derek, hits the rocks among the seagulls. It was fantastic.

Monday, November 29, 2004

This might keep you busy

while I figure out what to write. The Fridge

I suppose I could get back to writing about my "obsessions".

You would think

that after a 4-day weekend I would have SOMETHING to write about, but I feel so tired right now that nothing's coming.

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at Derek's house. In spite of my best effort I passed out on the couch. I only hope I didn't snore or drool too much. Heather assured me that I didn't, but she loves me so she may be playing it down.

Friday afternoon Heather and I braved the crazies out Christmas shopping to go to CompUSA and buy a monitor for my new computer. That proves she loves me. She took what was at least two hours out of her day to spend among the masses shopping for something that didn't likely interest her at all and she didn't complain!

Oh yeah, and I have a new computer at home now. It's a mixed blessing. I had to take out a loan against my 401k to be able to afford it, and now I'm stuck here until I pay it off. But it's a mid-range G5 tower, so it's expandable (unlike my previous G4 Cube) and it SHOULD last me more than 3 years for usability. I didn't get it set up until late Saturday night and still have a fair amount of tweaking to do.

And that's about it.

I have a strong feeling that I am entering a posting dry spell at least as far as interesting/funny posts go. Or maybe it's just because it's Monday.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

This has to be

one of the funniest (to me) Flash movies I've seen in ages. Enjoy.Icon War

And if I don't get time to post again later I hope that all of my USA visitors have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow, and my foreign visitors have a nice Thursday.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Minor update:

Here, here and here I posted about the identity theft attempts that were using the names of CitiBank and SunTrust to gather their data.

In case you weren't bored with it all by now, apparently Snopes has the scoop on the scam here. It was interesting for me at least to see how the scam was supposed to work. I had clicked on the link in two of the emails to see what would happen and it just called up a blank screen, so either it doesn't work against Macintosh users, or it doesn't work in Safari.

And unless something major occurs, that's the last you hear about this from me.

Since I have nothing for you today,

I give you this: www.ComicCovers.com - Your source for weekly comic book cover scans. Courtesy of Boing Boing. Now back to work.

Monday, November 22, 2004

One person's nightmare...

... is another person's pleasant dream.

I had a night of sleep that felt like a good, refreshing eight hours, although it was really only about six and a half, tops. Minus a bit for various near-waking incidents.

I like those kinds of nights.

Usually they involve wall-to-wall dreaming although most of the time I don't remember much about the dreams.

Last night was pretty much the same way. Although I do recall how one dream segment went.

I was in a classroom, and I had just finished the last of the work that I had been staying late to do when all of a sudden I was surrounded by numerous undead creatures and various other monsters (I recall a Cthulhu kinda thing and a werewolf, as well as others).

Somehow I ducked and dodged my way out of the room and into the hallway, tore around a corner and hid in a darkened side room. There was a gangly teenager with wild eyes in there already and I asked him if he minded if I stayed there until the monsters had gone.

At first he seemed to shake his head "no", but then it turned into that kinda head shaking effect from "Jacob's Ladder" and he dove at me.

I slid to the side and slammed him to the ground as he was going past, put my foot against his chest, said, "Well, so much for getting along." and then shot him in the face.

Where I got the gun from, I have no idea, but it did the job.

And then after that the dream moved along an entirely different track that I don't recall anything of. I think it shifted because my subconscious was wondering about the gun, and rather than wake me it found it easier to change directions.

Not as pleasant as Heather's dream, but overall I enjoyed it. And I *think* it may have been partly triggered by some of the board games we saw this weekend while Christmas shopping. They looked like good, creepy fun.

Or perhaps I'm just weird.

That's it for today. Lean, I know. Sorry. I doubt I'll have anything new to post tomorrow, unless I do it from home tonight. We have to squeeze five days of work into three and we are down one artist. And the "EMERGENCIES!" are already beginning.


Friday, November 19, 2004

If you happen to need it:

43 Folders: Hack your way out of writer’s block

I know I can use this once in a while.

Answering questions: part 2

And this should catch up the questions that I was asked back on the 15th. If there are any more, feel free to ask them in this post's comments.

Angela asked:

Q: What is the biggest lie you ever told, who did you tell it to, and would you change it if you could?
A: I honestly don't lie very often, and I never tell big lies. The worst that I tell are social lies, and even then I try to stay as honest as possible. There is a reason for this behaviour, but it would require its own post.

Q: Why is the sky blue? OR...why is the grass green? (Take your pick...)
A: The sky is blue BECAUSE the grass is green. And the grass is green because the sky is blue. It's a vicious cycle. I blame the bunnies.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in TIME, when would it be, and why?
A: I would travel ahead to New Years Eve so I could miss all of the ad building on short weeks that is ahead of us. Except for Derek, since he took the week before Christmas off. Again.

Q: What is the meaning of life?
A: Recreate, procreate, defecate and don't be late.

Q: How many U.S. states have you been in (travelled through counts)?
A: I go through states like a sobbing woman goes through Kleenex, leaving them crumpled and damp behind me. Let's see... Most of these are pass-through, and a few are stayed awhile: Colorado (duh), Texas, Oklahoma, Utah, Kansas, Missouri, Mississippi, New Mexico, Arizona, Nebraska, South Dakota, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New York. Not too bad for someone that despises traveling as much as I do.

Q: What the hell does "lucasarts" mean?
A: It used to mean "Quality and Creative Adventure Game" but now it usually means "Another Stupid Star Wars Game". Although they are trying to improve those, it's slow going.

AndyC asked:

Q: What time do you want to play Halo 2 this weekend? I'm thinking Friday night and Saturday morning...what do you think?
A: I think I didn't see this in time and never showed up online that weekend. Oops. But my living room looks a lot better now.

Derek asked:

Q: Why do you lie so darn much? And don't say that you don't...I'll just call you a "liar."
A: Then I guess you'll have to call me a liar, because I don't lie so darn much. Not so darn much at all actually.

Q: What're you bringing to Thanksgiving?
A: My girlfriend, my kids, myself and something else that you want me to bring but haven't told me about yet. You want me to guess or something? Okay... hmmmm... Cheetoes.

Have a great weekend all! Except for you in the back. You were talking all through my post. I hope you have a real horrible weekend, you rude punk.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

That clears all that up.

ShotgunGuide- Official Rules for Calling Shotgun

Yet more rant! I'm in a mood, can you tell?

Whenever I see this while driving:



I think of this:



Why is messing with Calvin unacceptable to me when music mashups and filesharing aren't?

Simple.

Someone other than the creator is making money selling these and other Calvin rips (calvin peeing, calvin mooning, etc.) without significant alteration from the original source. Their weak idea that couldn't have stood as well as it has on it's own is coasting on the success and popularity of Calvin and Hobbes, even this long after the strip ended. The people doing the mashups are doing it for a reason other than money. They aren't charging and they are adding something to the creative commons. I view the Calvin rippers as parasites and the music mashers as artists.

So Bill Watterson never authorized these decals, yet people have been stealing Calvin's likeness and using it for years without his permission. And the fact that they have been around for years without anyone being able to stamp them out (and his syndicate is trying*) is another testament to the fact that the only way filesharing will be stamped out is to eliminate the ability or the desire to share files.

As long as someone wants to copy something and has the means to do so, there will be copying. And as long as that person is willing to share it with others and they are willing to accept it, there will be sharing.

Making it illegal won't make it stop. Prohibition anyone? Any pot smokers in the audience? Last I heard stealing cars and killing people was illegal, but that still happens too. All that making it illegal will accomplish is more people being shuffled through the overflowing judiciary system without having committed a crime that hurt any other individual in the nation.

It's not the average person who happens to download some songs from the internet (rather than purchasing a CD that they weren't going to anyway) that are hurting these litigious corporations' bottom lines. It's the people who are doing it en masse, packaging the resulting CDs they burn from the shared music, and then selling them as legitimate copies. You know. The actual pirates. The ones making their living from it.

Passing laws making filesharing illegal may stop a lot of the individual filesharers who don't want to be sued or go to jail for something so silly. They will then resume not buying the overpriced products they already weren't buying. But it won't stop the real pirates. Like they give a flip about the laws.

So if laws won't eliminate the desire to steal music, how about eliminating the ability? Install DRM in every product sold from this point on. Cripple computers so that they can't copy anything without hopping through 50 hoops and getting the approval of God and Jesus. Tag everything to trace back to an originator, so he can be sued into oblivion for letting his copy of Britney Spears' latest piece of plastic out of his sight for five minutes. Charge everyone in the world a flat, yearly music tax that is shared among the corporations. Fuck the end user seven ways from Sunday.

Beyond the obvious, the problem with this is the people who make their living pirating the product will work their collective asses off to ensure that any blocks that are placed in the path of their money flow will be circumvented. It's kinda their careers. And the really prolific ones aren't even in this country.

The average filesharer will just get more and more pissed about the new restrictions placed on their purchased property until they decide they've had enough and find a way to fight back, be it through protest, boycott or some other way of letting those in power know that they aren't pleased with things as they are.

What it comes down to is Pandora's Music Box has been opened and it's time to find a way to deal with the contents. Fighting it tooth and nail may eventually work, but at what cost?

One last thing I'm thinking about and then I'm done for today. We are told from early childhood that sharing is good. It's wrong to be selfish. Sharing with others makes them happy and it makes you happy. Sharing has Jesus' official seal of approval. Now it's wrong and illegal? According to corporations and their lawyers and pocket politicians? I don't think so. As long as sharing is done freely and without profit than it isn't wrong.

---
*For more information about Calvin and Hobbes, consult your local Wikipedia: The Calvin & Hobbes Wikipedia entry

This is keeping in with yesterday's posts

Boing Boing: Mashup tools needed for civil disobedience

Sounds good to me. Worth keeping an eye on. Especially for people musically inclined like Trevor and Derek. Not that they will do anything with it, of course. No need to sue us.

The author's home page is this: Flashenabled

He seems to have all kinds of interesting "stuff" there.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

And breaking news!

MSNBC - Hollywood sues alleged file swappers

Timely or what?

And this too:

Boing Boing: Grey Video: Beatles/Jay-Zee VIDEO mashup will delight you

And more annoyance

Normally I would shove this in my Junk Drawer where I keep most of the bit pieces found on my Internet travels. However I'm posting this one here because it ties in rather nicely (I feel) with my previous post, and also because I really, REALLY like this particular mashup.

If you haven't heard it yet you still have a few days to grab it before it becomes unavailable and possibly more illegal.

Boing Boing: Legal threats for linking to mashup

Disney, in my opinion at least from having followed their copyright shenanigans for the last several years, is one of the largest obstacles for an artist these days. Art isn't created in a void and Disney(™®©π∑º) has flooded our popular culture with so many icons, images and sounds for the past few decades that it's difficult to resist the desire to do something new with some of it.

In my opinion, if someone is using bits of your "stuff" to make more, fun, "reworked so much it feels new" "stuff" and then tossing it into the CC void while not making a dime off it, AND they aren't doing it as an attack on your company then it's not hurting anything.

As it is, I didn't know that Disney held the rights to Queen's music until I read this. When I first listened to "A night at the Hip Hopera" I didn't feel that it desecrated the memory of Queen, and I didn't even give Disney a thought.

Now that I know Disney owns the right AND are threatening to SUE someone for LINKING to this really cool mashup, I do think even less of them then I already did. They are hurting themselves more than the Kleptones are.

They need to be smacked in the mouse.

An addendum to micro-rant...

One of our coworkers was burglarized a while back and his entire CD collection was stolen. The thief wasn't caught, the collection wasn't returned.

Our coworker recently finished replacing all of his stolen music through P2P file sharing.

If he were caught "stealing" music through the Internet and was prosecuted he would likely owe more money and/or do more jail time than the thief who stole (actually, physically STOLE) all of his original CDs. Assuming the thief is ever caught, since by now the case is cold and nobody is looking for him, for this particular crime, anymore.

So it would seem it's not so much about the actual crime as it is who you commit the crime against. Steal from a citizen and get a slap on the wrist (assuming the effort to find you is vigorously applied, and you are in fact caught). Steal from a corporation and get sued into destitution.

I see a definite lack of balance here.

And now for a micro-rant!

I agree with this:

Wired News: 'Music Is Not a Loaf of Bread'

Now some questions for "those in power":

If I buy a CD used, how much of that sale makes it into the pockets of the recording executives or, to a lesser extent, the artist? Yet it's still legal to buy used music, right?

If I listen to a song in a friend's car and enjoy the sound of it, but never buy the album that it's from, is that a lost sale? Am I committing some kind of crime by listening to and enjoying music without buying it?

What if I borrow that CD from that friend and then listen to it on my own player, with no intention of buying a copy for myself? Am I stealing the music then? Or do I actually have to make a physical (or purely digital) copy first? The original disc is still there. I give it back to my friend. Where does the property lie? In the noise or the plastic?

If borrowing from a friend is a crime, then what if I borrow the same CD from the library? What then?

Now some statements to all:

This whole brouhaha about people stealing music via P2P filesharing is not really about lost sales or "stealing" music. It's about greed. The greed of the people who fear they will lose everything if this isn't STOPPED! The greed of the millionaires suing college kids for the HIGH CRIME of not having the money to spare on CDs, yet still wanting to be able to listen to a song they like when they feel like it.

It comes down to this, execs: If I like the music that you are selling, I will buy it, even if I can get it for free.

If I find music that I enjoy online I will buy the CD.

For example, I first ran across the Aquabats on the old-school Napster back "in the day". I probably downloaded....mmmm... 20 or so songs. I was hooked to their sound. Since then I've purchased, at full price, two of their CDs, their DVD, and I took my son and girlfriend to their concert in Denver and spent around $150 on tickets and merchandise. This is for a band that I've never heard on the radio (I hate to listen to the radio), and would likely have never heard of if it weren't for file sharing and the internet.

The same with the Bloodhound Gang. I first found their music on Napster as well and I now have all three of their CDs, and their DVD. Purchased legally, although one of the CDs was used. And I've heard they have an upcoming CD that I will be buying as well. Because I know I like them (although the DVD was a bit on the nasty side). Because I was able to listen to a wide range of their music without an initial investment, other than my time. All thanks to file sharing.

And finally, to The Industry:

Stop fearing P2P and discover how to use it to your advantage. Offer the consumers music that isn't cookie-cutter, formula crap. Test new bands on P2P servers first to see who is worth a recording contract and who isn't. Provide some incentives that you can't get by file sharing for people who purchase the actual CD, like concert tickets or discounts on band or label related clothing. Stop suing your customers. I can personally say, as someone who doesn't buy that many CDs anyway, there are at least six bands that I now listen to and have bought from that I never would have found if it weren't for file sharing.

Yes, there are people that will leech everything for free and never pass along a dime to you and your artists. But do you really think that outlawing P2P file sharing will make them realize what they are doing is wrong? Make them say, "Okay, fine. Here's my $16 for the one or two songs on the CD that I like and the rest of the crap." Not a chance. They'll just steal it a different way. You are trying to destroy a fantastic opportunity for everyone, you greedy, short-sighted, litigious, rich, out-of-touch "men in suits".

It seems to me that you people won't be happy until we each have specially encoded earplugs implanted at birth that won't allow us to hear any music that may be playing anywhere until we've put a dollar per song in your pocket.

I'm not even going to start talking about the fear that pirated movies will ruin the movie industry. It's all one and the same.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

BREAKING NEWS

on "The Invasion of the Tiny, Fur-bearing Bastards"

Okay, I bought two live mouse traps from WalMart a couple weeks ago, against the advice of everyone earlier to just kill them. I was tired of killing. I figured I would give them a chance to leave the house peacefully.

WalMart only had one brand of live trap available*, and although it didn't look like a good one to me I shelled out the $11 each and held onto my receipt. The instructions on the box were to wind the trap five or six times (but don't overwind) and then place the trap on the pathway along the wall where the mouse has been seen. The idea was the mouse would run along through the trap (not supposed to use bait as it may reduce the effectiveness of the trap**) step on the pressure plate and it would quickly flip him like a furry little Indiana Jones into the holding cell and be reset for the next fool mouse to come along. It said it could hold up to 10 mice in comfort and style.***

Apparently I don't have foolish mice. I put them in the two areas where I knew the mice were frolicking and gave it a week. Nothing caught. So I boxed them back up and took them back to WalMart to return them. The lady at the Customer Service station gave me a look when I handed them over and said, "So they were used."

I answered, "Only technically since they never caught a mouse." I guess it mattered as to whether they went back on the shelf or not, but all I know is I got my $22 back.

Then I resumed ignoring the situation until yesterday morning.

I had climbed back in bed to warm up after my morning shower and I happened to be looking over in the direction of one of my DVD towers when a HUGE brown mouse streaked past the tower and ran behind the entertainment center, waving his dangly bits as he went and snickering at me as if to say, "Hah! You humane foooool! I'm off to gobble Cheerios!".

'You little...argh!' I thought. I leaped from my bed and looked behind the entertainment center but he was gone. Still, I knew I had seen him. And he was far too big and smug to tolerate any longer.

So last night I stopped off at the grocery store and picked up four snap traps. And groceries. Because I was there.

When I got home I unpacked everything and my son said, "So you bought some of the killing traps?" This made me feel bad about the whole thing all over again. When I was driving my son to school a couple years ago a squirrel darted out in front of us. I hit the brakes and the squirrel made it across the road. When we got going again I asked him why he was smiling and he said, "Because I have a dad that will stop for squirrels." And here I was setting up the killing kind of traps.

I explained to him that we tried the live trap method and it didn't work. I told him about the mouse I had seen that morning, how big it was, and if you see one there are many. I said that we cannot allow them to stay around the whole winter. And that they are disease ridden, spew flame and eat children. He said he understood. His sister was just keen on squishing mice. She still has a cartoon brain though, and doesn't really understand "death" as a final thing. She thinks traps catch mice by the tails, and then the mouse looks back in annoyance as he munches on the cheese. There's no final twitching in her world.

I loaded three of the traps with peanut butter, put one in my bathroom, one in my bedroom in the spot wwhere I had seen that morning's mouse, and one under the kitchen sink. I held one in reserve because as I said before, I'm not going to unload them when they've caught a mouse. I checked them all before I went to bed.

Then this morning when I made the rounds I found one dead under the kitchen sink. I loaded the reserve trap, swapped it out with the full one, trashed the full one and was looking calm before any kids noticed anything.

It's very unlikely that the mouse caught in the kitchen is the same as the one I saw in my room, although it was around the same size, if what I've read about them staying within 12-20 feet of their nests is true. I figure that with the distance involved I have around three nests minimum.

I'm gonna need more traps.

Now if there actually is such a thing as an EFFECTIVE live mouse trap I'm willing to pick one up in addition to the snap traps and save the lives of whichever mice are smart enough to choose well, but either way they are going to go.

---
*I cannot remember the brand of this trap. I wish I could. Their logo is like a head-on view of a cat that just slashed the customer. I get it now. They also make glue traps and traditional snap traps. And they had a website that was as crappy as the trap. If anyone happens to be in a WalMart and has a better memory for names than I do and a desire to look at the traps and drop me a line I would appreciate it. I tried to Google it, but no luck, so you know they're a top brand.

**By creating more mice, I guess. "One goes in, two come out!"

***It was teasing.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Answering questions: part 1

Okay, taking a quick break from trying to fix all the things wrong with the new computer here at work and I thought I would answer a few of the questions that I was asked last week:

el sid asks:

Q: what was your favorite book as a child?
A: "Never Tease a Weasel". Not really a book, more of a short story, but it was in a fantastic collection of nonsense stories that my mom had bought for me. That was my favorite story in the book. Then she leant it to a friend who wanted to Xerox it (my mom, a pirate pioneer) and the woman never gave it back. Now it's gone forever.

Q: vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry?
A: Why certainly! And in large amounts.

Q: did you know that those are the only ice cream flavors they have in England?
A: Hmmm. Not sure I believe this. But then again when I was in England back at the end of the 80's I ordered a chocolate shake at the locally run dive on base my first night there. I nearly vomited. I think I stuck to ice cream purchased from the commissary for the rest of my tour of duty.

Q: if you could travel anywhere in the entire world, right now, where would you go and why?
A: Assuming it was a round trip I would pop over to England to load up on all the Terry Pratchett goodies that we can't get here. And do other stuff as well, while I was there.

Heather asks:

Q: Favorite Zim episode?
A: Oh sure, make me choose. Arrgh. I can't single out one favorite, but up among the top is "Ultra Peepee".

Q: Favorite Terry Pratchett book & character?
A: Again, hard question to answer since he writes about so many different characters. I guess if I would have to choose I would say Commander Vimes is my favorite character, and favorite book would be 'Guards! Guards!' followed by 'Night Watch'

Q: Favorite thing about your job?
A: At this moment, it's having the new computer FINALLY! This thing SCREAMS! Just a bit buggy. Gotta tame it.

Q: Favorite thing about your girlfriend?
A: She's very fun, shares my sense of humor, seems to understand me even when I am at my weirdest, enjoys spending time with my kids and is smoking hot!

Q: If you could go back to any point in history, what would it be and why?
A: I would probably go back to my younger self and tell me to relax, it's not as bad as it seems. I know, lame answer with all of history to travel to, but there you go.

And the last set of questions for this break are from nicki:

Q: If you could be any bug in the world what would it be?
A: Mothra.

Q: What kind of alcohol have you developed a taste oversion to and why?
A: A long, long time ago I totally went overboard with Crown Royal. I went past drunk, but didn't pass out. My head just hurt like hell. And then for the next three years anytime I drank alcohol I would get an immediate headache. So I stopped drinking. Don't know if that counts as an aversion though. Oh yeah, and once I had uzo. Instant taste aversion. Nasty. Blech.

Q: Do you have a criminal record, if so what for?
A: Does Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" count? Just kidding. I don't have anything by MJ. And no actual criminal record either. Nothing that followed me past the age of 18 at least.

Q: What is your favourite kind of music/bands?
A: I have a wide, wiiiiide variety of musical taste. Let's see, top of mind: Modest Mouse, Scissor Sistors, the Cure, Talking Heads, Moody Blues, ICP, the Aquabats, Dance Hall Crashers, No Doubt, Depeche Mode, OMD, Ivor Biggun, Pink Floyd (sorry Heather), The Beastie Boys, The Beatles, Neutral Milk Hotel, Toasters, Elton John, Front 242, Nine Inch Nails, Fleetwood Mac, Kraftwerk, Bran Flakes, various classical musicians, and... a lot more I'm sure.

And I'll answer more next time. Now to lunch!

Friday, November 12, 2004

What's this in my bag?

I went to Chipotle for lunch the other day, and in the bag when I pulled out my food was an advertisement card. Apparently they are offering a vegetarian burrito now, and this is some kind of tie-in... BUT! Well. Fine. Here's the front of the thing so you can see it yourself:



On an ad that has only three elements (title, logo and "slogan") isn't there some kind of limit to the number of sexual innuendoes allowed? Like maybe, I dunno, one? And if there are more than one, should their messages conflict with each other?

The first one made me chuckle (the title), because I have that kind of sense of humor. But the second one... Okay, let's assume this is targeting vegetarians in an effort to get them interested in the new burrito. How many of them will be amused by, "You Can't Beat Our Meat."? None of the really serious ones I would imagine.

We have a newly hired vegetarian in the art department, and as much as I would love to get her reaction to this, I'M not going to be the one to show it to her. I may not like my job, but I do need it.

But wait! It gets better! On the back of this card is just the kind of information that is CERTAIN to draw the vegans into Chipotles around the country:



That's right! "The Meat On Our Meat"!

You will notice, I hope, that throughout the entire text they never refer to "cows". It's always called by its end-product name of "beef". Hmmm. Oh yeah, and the introduction of "bovinely" and "bovine" in the place of "divinely" and divine" is a nice, "witty" touch. "Only the best witty for OUR customers!"

In my opinion they may as well have added at the bottom, "See, vegans, we aren't just mincing up any old mobile beef that we happen to find by the roadside. Just the pure ones! They are so much better tasting than your average, chemically and mentally fucked up, um... beef. Even better than eating a vegetarian if you ask our ad guys! And in this way we are helping to make the world a better place. Our meat-eating customers are getting healthier, safer beef bits to chew and you can go hug the nasty poisoned ones to your veggie lined heart's content. Win-win!"

Although there really wasn't enough room on the card I suppose.

I just don't know... On the one hand I'm amused at the absurdity of it all. On the other hand I have to wonder just what were they thinking? Did it twig in any of their brains how this looks? Or is it intentional? A viral marketing ploy of some bizarre kind? Get the vegans in the joint angry if you have to, but get them in so we can sell them veggie burritos.

Anyway, back to work. Have a good weekend all! I'll start answering questions "soon"!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Deja Vu-doo 2

Slightly more sophisticated looking, a little more convincing perhaps, but still a lie! LIE! I also like the sender's address.



Such a wonderful grasp of language on display. It's almost artistic.

Remember, it's "obligatory to folow" like a good little lemming.

Anyway, back to work.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

One more quick Halo 2 note.

I really enjoyed what this guy had to say about his experience waiting to get the game. And I did not find this looking for stuff about Halo 2. I'm not that ...mmmm... "obsessed" was the word, I think. It was just a happy coincidence.

That is all.

Go back to whatever it was you were doing.

It's Wednesday

For those of you who aren't paying attention, or those who are in a radically different time zone. I'm busy at work and the next two days are probably going to be quite busy as well. You see, Derek's abandoning us tomorrow and Friday to go celebrate his wedding of all things. So, extra work for all. Yay. But seriously, I hope Derek has a fantastic four day Anniversary. We'll be waiting for him on Monday.

I am working on (ie: thinking about how to go about starting) a post that covers my various obsessions and addictions, but that's probably not going to be done until Monday-ish.

In the meantime here's how I feel about Halo 2 having played it (but not played it on XBox Live) for about 2.5 hours (1 hour single player and 1.5 in system link battle with my son and daughter):

It's like the first Halo only "more". More weapons, more expansive levels, more story development, more vehicles (and destructible), more enemies, more details, and overall more fun.

But there are some glitches that surprise me considering how long it was in development.

Even more fun than in the first Halo is the multiplayer game. There still aren't computer controlled bots to fill things out if you don't have Live. In that case you need friends and a big enough TV that playing on a split screen isn't too annoying (or extra XBoxes and TVs to enjoy system-link. It cuts down on cheating, but costs more.)

I do have Live, but haven't tried it out yet. I want to dust off my (hah) "skillz" first. The other problem is I don't like a lot of the asshats that can be found on Live. Still, I'll try it out this weekend and see how it is.

Oh yeah. To fill out the next two days here at F&P, since I won't have much time for creating funny things on my own, I may as well snag the whole, "Ask a question and I'll make up SOME answer to it later" thingie that's been going around. So. Go ahead. Ask me some questions and I'll tell you some lies. I reserve the right to ignore any that don't amuse me though.

And that's it. My break's up and I have to get back to "it". Have a good night all.
"Boring a hole in the patient’s head creates a door through which the demons can escape, and - viola! - out goes the crazy."