August 27, 2014

Last Train to Hogwarts

Sung to the Monkee's "Last Train to Clarksville" - idea courtesy of @lartist. This was a fast 5 minute re-write ... imagining Harry before walking out into the forest....


Take the last train to Hogwarts,
And I'll meet you at the platform.
You can stand there by ten three four,
'Cause Hagrid's got your invitation.
Run through the pillar, oh, fast, fast, fast!
Oh, fast, fast, fast!

'Cause I'm leavin' in the evening
To fight Lord Voldemort
We'll have one more night together
'Til the morning brings my pain
And I must go, oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!
And I don't know if I'm ever coming home.

Take the last train to Hogwarts.
Dumbledore's at the station.
We'll have time for mewling Riddles
And a bit of conversation.
Oh... Oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!

Take the last train to Hogwarts,
Now I must send you this owl.
I can't think at'all in this noisy
Railroad station all alone.
I'm feelin' low. Oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!
And I don't know if I'm ever coming home.

Take the last train to Hogwarts,
Take the last train to Hogwarts.

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:18 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 8, 2012

Flick It

The touchstone for a popular mobile app has, in the last two years, become Rovio's Angry Birds. Mention that game to most iOS developers and you'll either see Angry Birds induced anger froth forth, or an earnest explanation as to why their app will be even bigger than that.

Introduced December 11, 2009, the app seems a ridiculously simple concept, and on the face of it, it doesn't sound like much. Some green pigs have stolen the eggs of a variety of birds (Green Eggs and Ham, anyone?). You control the birds and you fling those birds via a stationary slingshot at structures of stone, glass and wood that the pigs have built around them. The birds either strike the pigs directly and destroy them or they knock down bits of the structures on top of the pigs and destroy them that way. A level can be completed (or failed) in well under a minute.

That's it.

The game has succeeded because while the characters and visual design are not the greatest, they are cute and reasonably well rendered and displayed. The extreme number of levels (and Rovio is constantly adding more levels at no additional cost to the player) and speed at which levels can be played are key points to its repeat playability. In addition, Rovio taps into the competitive players and the completionist players by including levels of winning. You can go on to the next screen if you kill all the piggies, but ... to unlock certain levels you have to have gotten a score high enough to earn you three stars. But, that's not all. Many levels have golden eggs hidden in them. Some are easily visible, some are not. You can play the game and succeed without ever hitting a golden egg, but to be competitive or completionist, you have to go back through and hunt down the golden eggs as well. For most people, new levels come out before they can complete all levels, including golden eggs and the three star level.

The game is constantly enticing players back with new levels or by social media (hearing about a golden egg for example).

Another level of engagement is the game physics. Honestly, the game seems to personify the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. The game physics are reasonably reliable, although if you talk to anyone who plays the game regularly you'll inevitably hear frustration that "there is NO WAY a damn pig would survive having four stone blocks on top of it" or "there is no way in HELL that piece of wood would not fall down in real life. Don't the game makers understand basic physics?"

The game physics, I have grown to believe despite my occasional frustrations, are this way very much on purpose. Players become convinced that they are "almost there" and if they "just do this a little bit differently" it will work. In addition, adding some random element to the physics means that no two players are getting precisely the exact same results on levels. I know I have attempted to count pixels before releasing my bird - expecting that if the physics are completely consistent, I could expect that bird to land in the same spot every time. That doesn't happen. It might be close, but it's never exactly the same. I suppose we could chalk up this random element as the air speed we can't see or feel, but it's become one of the elements I believe makes the game most addicting because you can do the same thing over and over again and it's not insanity - you don't get exactly the same results. It's not so far as to be inconsistent - it's small variances. I find this important to note since inconsistency will frustrate players and cause them to reject the game.

Combining the game physics with the rapid level plays, the plethora of levels and the various goals, the "addiction" level of the game tends to be quite high.

There are only a handful of games I continuously go back to and Angry Birds (in all its permutations) is one. The two other favourites are Iconfactory's Ramp Champ (developed very much prior to the release of the retina displays) and Tiny Wings by Andreas Illiger.

Both of these games are essentially designer-driven and as such are drop-dead gorgeous. The design certainly caught my eye, but the game play on both are also quite well thought-out. Ramp Champ is essentially either Skee-Ball or a target gallery game, depending on the level you play. You roll the balls up the ramp, hit targets or holes and get points. The points earn you tickets, just like in physical Skee-Ball and you exchange them for virtual prizes. There's a set of shelves for you to display (and interact) with your goodies and there's also 3 goals for you to hit per level with trophies received (and displayed in your trophy shelves) as well. You have fast play and lots of incentives to keep coming back to the game. After all, you have to save up to get some of those nifty prizes!

At first blush, this game should have gone just as viral as Angry Birds, but it didn't. It was certainly attractive enough to catch the eyes and attentions of people. Game play was fast and it was a variation on a well-loved and established game.

I believe it didn't achieve the same popularity for an extremely frustrating reason. In Angry Birds, the graphics are reasonable and cute, but they're not drop-dead gorgeous. The backgrounds from major "chapter" to major "chapter" change, but the individual levels within a "chapter" don't change much. The game pieces don't really change much either, other than the occasional addition of a new bird or new complication. Development time for Angry Birds is primarily devoted to level design, not visual design.

Ramp Champ's development time focused both on level design and drop-dead gorgeous, intense-focus-on-the-little-details visual design as well. The result was far fewer levels. They added in-app purchase of additional levels and did seasonal levels before Rovio added Angry Birds Seasons to the mix, but it was one level per season whereas Rovio had one "chapter" per season with 15, 30 or more levels to it.

Ramp Champ has a loyal and devout following and when the retina display iPhones came out and especially when the iPad came out, players begged for an update to the game. Several of the Iconfactory designers said it would never happen. The graphics would have to be recreated at the different resolutions in order to maintain the standards they'd already set in the visual design of the levels. The ROI for the update, which many users would insist should be free, was just not worth the time. The same went for the additional ramp packs - it wasn't worth the time and effort to produce more levels if the purchases weren't forthcoming. Without continuing support for the ever-changing world of iOS and without adding more levels, the game essentially flat-lined.

Similarly, Tiny Wings also had fast game play with multiple goals per level and also had gorgeous graphics. It got quite a bit of buzz in the design community when it first came out, but I rarely hear about it now. The basic gameplay for this game is you have a bird with tiny wings - he can't fly far, but if you land him just right in the valleys, you essentially slingshot him high up in the sky and give him a speed and distance boost. You have various basic goals, gathering coins, getting to a further island before night overtakes you and more specific goals to each level.

I eventually lost interest in the game because despite the fact that the colour, textures and arrangement of the hills and valleys differed (along with the goals), the basic background was essentially the same. Combining that with the increasing difficulty of the levels and I eventually got bored. (Granted, I have a low threshold of boredom, but I can also be quite obsessive about completing all goals.) It became the same look and the same goals in my mind as the game progressed. There was not enough change to keep my interest. I'm sure that Andreas Illiger kept the backgrounds relatively similar in order to cut down on development needs, but that trade-off is a portion of what finally made the game boring to me. I understand that Tiny Wings was voted iPhone game of the year for 2011 and even landed a top spot in the App Store until Angry Birds Rio was released. Still, despite its success, the buzz around it has not reached the viral levels and penetrated popular culture in the way that Angry Birds has.

Angry Birds is not a brilliant game in and of itself. It is a brilliant understanding of why we play games. It fits a need for us to have something to do whilst we wait in line at the store, wait for a plane or unwind before bed. We don't have to make much of a time commitment to the game in order to succeed at it. It's constantly introducing new things - environments, characters, complications. Its random elements ensure the game is never exactly the same and its incredible wealth of levels ensures that even if you replay a level you've not only beaten, but three-starred, you'll most likely have forgotten just how you did it last time. It understands our need for constantly challenging ourselves, our propensity for boredom and our desire to compare our achievements to others.

It also understands the fine balance between design and business practicality.

It's not a choice I would prefer to make. As a designer, I want stunning graphics all the way through my game. But I have to admit that what truly keeps me coming back is both the challenge of "almost getting it" and new levels. If Angry Birds had stopped releasing new levels and challenges both, I'd have deleted it long ago.

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:25 PM | Design | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 5, 2011

610

Well, because I get going on something and can't really let go of it, I decided to see if all of my Fisher Price Little People would fit onto my big-ass drawing table. There are a handful of peoples still downstairs in the basement - like the orange scuba-diver dude and the ones I customized into Leia, Han, Luke, Ben, Chewie and Vader. And the ones I made into the Village People who stand in front of the Firehouse from the old Village playset. And probably a few strays I'd forgotten to bring up with the others.

Anyhow, click through for a larger image....

610 Fisher Price Little People

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:01 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | hobbies | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 11, 2010

Busy, Busy (New, Improved, with SWORDS!)

It's been busy around the Red Monkey homestead the past couple of weeks. Besides the big Plants Vs Zombies project, I've been sick for the last week. Our choir's cantata has final rehearsal later this morning and then the performances are tomorrow morning and tomorrow evening. Plus, our neighborhood has a big to-do today as well.

And, while this is not a review blog, this is something of a review post. In my own, story-telling, rambling-but-focused kind of way.

Once upon a time, I used to LARP. For the non-nerds, that's not only Dungeons & Dragons style role-playing, it's "Live Action Role Playing." (I find as I get older I have to add the D&D reference or people think I'm talking about a totally different kind of role-playing and sword takes on a really disturbing meaning.)

My next-door neighbor, Jim, started a chapter of NERO (New England Role-playing Organization) at our college back in the early 90s. We used PVC pipe as the core for our swords and covered them with relatively thick pipe insulation, added some open-cell foam for a tip and used duct tape to both adhere everything together safely - and add a bit of colour. That's when I first learned you could buy duct tape in multiple, happy colours.

At any rate, yes, we'd dress up as our characters and go out to a park and have fun. Jim and the people who helped found the group in our area were quite excellent at getting good storylines set up and amazingly, we had a wonderful group of people to help build these stories. A good LARP group is part improvisational theatre, large part nerd and mostly people who remember what it's like to find wonder and joy in the world of make-believe.

The group, in short, was a delight.

Since moving away from there, I've not found another group like them, but being a geek, I do still keep my eye out for similar groups ... and equipment.

And that's how I discovered Calimacil.

Calimicil's Templar SwordA few months ago, I bought one of their swords because I'd been eyeing it for about two years ... a foam sword I could horse around with, go to Renn Faires without having to bind it, etc etc. To me, this is far more fun than a metal, bladed sword that I must always be careful with and can never forget it's a frigging weapon. Now, fencing swords - that's different again, that's a sport where you get to use the things. But the buying of a display katana or broadsword just to hang on your wall confuses me.

At any rate, I bought this sword a few months back and LOVE it. First of all, this is no kids' Nerf sword. This is no lightweight, torn up in two days kinda toy. It's got some serious heft to it. I originally found it somewhere else, unfortunately, and was a little bit in trouble once it arrived.

You see, my partner has an allergy to latex.

Oops. Most foam-y things have latex in them, including those fancy memory-foam beds and pillows. And a lot of foam swords.

However! I finally discovered Calimacil's website and was saved - these swords are latex-free! WOOHOO!

This meant I could begin conning other half into picking out a sword for her so we could play.

I also discovered @calimacil on Twitter and began gleefully following. I combed through their site, watching some of the videos showing how tough these swords are, reading about how to repair in case of damage, etc, etc. In short, I was totally geeking out on this stuff.

And then they tweeted that they'd uploaded a new sword test. I watched the vid:

And replied: I need this job RT @Calimacil I uploaded a YouTube video -- Calimacil Rapier Test http://youtu.be/wL7mCgsZT9o?a
[note that's the same link as to the embedded video above]

And they started replying. After much back and forth and honestly delightful conversation in which I came off as ridiculously earnest and terribly fanboy (and therefore I won't repeat), something truly delightful happened. The long and short of it is, they shipped me a sword for review here on the blog! I gave them a list of the various things on their site that I was interested in for them to pick something and ship it to me. Quite by happenstance, they sent the very sword that my partner was hoping for.

Originally, she thought I'd have to buy a short sword in order to spar with her because her sword is shorter than mine and I have longer arms. After the arrival of the sword, however, I think we'll be relatively evenly matched. Her sword is much lighter since mine is a bastard sword.

We've done a little monkeying around so far, but my in-depth review will have to wait until next weekend, unfortunately. Calimacil is located in Canada, and customs takes forever to clear, which meant the sword arrived this week ... which is honestly my insanely overloaded week. So, next weekend, look for a specific review of the falchion they sent.

Meanwhile, if you've got an overgrown nerd in your life, please go give a look at Calimacil's website. They might seem pricey if you're not into this sort of playing around, but I promise you, it's because it's QUALITY stuff. Watch a couple of the videos where they twist the blade or flip the quillon around - you'll see what I mean. I'd like to give them more than a little love for how nice they've been to me. I know I'll be ordering more from them (I'm really intrigued by the bow and arrows).

Full Disclosure: They sent me a sword in exchange for me writing some kind of post on my blog. They didn't tell me what to say, give me a timeline, word count or try to influence my opinion. I'm geeked about it and writing exactly what I feel about not only the sword they sent, but their site and other items in the product line that I paid for.

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:49 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 27, 2010

Dear Adobe

Seriously? What is unexpected about File>Quit? I'd say that was pretty definite. I mean, it's not ambiguous like File>Ummmm, I think I might want to-OH LOOK! Shiny!

I mean it just does not inspire confidence to spend over $1000 oil-soaked clams on your software when you can't even get the programs to understand that the Quit command means quit.

Waaaaait. I get it. Every time I send in a crash report, I'm added to a list, right? And then you guys randomly send a beachball or "unexpectedly quit" command the los interwebz for every time I send in a crash report. Just identifying us troublemakers, eh? Well, I'm too smart, I just won't - hey! That's the idea, innit? You think that'll make us complain less? Well, you won't win that ...

I think this is what they call a vicious circle.

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:41 PM | Design | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 6, 2010

Toasted

Several friends on Twitter were discussing various home kitchen incidents today. I won't name names, but the exploding rice in the microwave was not the kind of "honey, I exploded the microwave" I was thinking.

Which all reminded me of the toaster we had in Austin, back in the days when a toaster was a major kitchen appliance and cost, apparently, 80 bazillion dollars. Our toaster no longer had a working timer. The toast would not pop up and Mom would not splurge on a new toaster. This one still worked, after all, you just had to stand there by it and count to sixty. Then pull the lever up and voila! Toast!

So, Grandma was visiting and Mom had to go run some early morning errand. She tasked Grandma with getting us fed breakfast and getting us dressed for the day. Presumably so we could all go shopping at the mall, not exactly a great motivator for me. Mom gave me her serious face and told me to {insert booming announcer voice here} "Make sure Grandma counts to sixty at the toaster."

My little sister is in her chair, eating breakfast and Grandma and I retreat to my room to pick out clothes for the day. Honestly, I didn't need help, I was SIX, for crying out loud and I can dress myself, but you know, it's Grandma and any attention is good, so I GUESS she can come help me pick out "appropriate" clothes. Let me give you a hint. It was the 70s. There were no appropriate clothes. *shudder*

My two and a half year old sister (maybe it was 3.5?) comes strolling into my room and I'm puffing up to holler at her about how this is MY room and she is supposed to be eating breakfast, when she pipes up with:

"Grandma, the kitchen is on fire." And calmly walks back into the fiery kitchen to eat her breakfast.

Grandma and I exchanged that utterly panicked look and took off running for the kitchen.

Flames were shooting up out of the toaster, but luckily, nothing else had actually caught fire yet. There was soot on the light fixture and the cabinets, but they weren't even blackened yet. We lucked out.

My sister was back at the table, calmly eating breakfast and just kind of watching Grandma put the fire out and begin the cleaning process. Grandma was trying to get everything perfectly cleaned up before Mom got back ... and of course no one was going to say a word about this to Mommy, right?

And of course, Mom came back just before Grandma could get the light fixture back together.

Somehow the flaming toast was actually my fault ... even though Grandma was the adult who really should have remembered to count to sixty.

Come to think of it, Grandma's the one who taught me to clean up and hide my wrong-doings ....

We did, however, get a new toaster after that fiasco.

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:37 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 7, 2009

Timmy Plays in the Snow

So of course, the day after I take some snaps of Timmy the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey, it snows here which is pretty much the perfect backdrop for a reindeer monkey. I snagged Timmy, set him up, told my dogs to shut it, I would be back inside momentarily and then had to dodge a neighborhood kid who wanted to talk to the doggies in the window. (And of course, the dogs wanted to talk back. Loudly. Not letting in a word edgewise.)

But I did manage a good snap of Timmy in his natural environs:

Timmy the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey - in the snow!

I think you can see the full effect of his glowing nose a little bit better here maybe. Certainly better than last night's too-dark and orange shot.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:05 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 6, 2009

Voila! Timmy The Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey

Sometimes I see something and it just clicks. As I've said, thinkgeek.com is one of my favourite places in the universe. They have a website with real humour, beautiful and innovative design work and products that appeal to me (and generally make me giggle). So, it was unsurprising when I went to their site the other day and saw their holiday header image and it made me giggle beyond the telling of it.

First, ThinkGeek's mascot is Timmy the Monkey. Being a Red Monkey myself, of course I like any site with a good monkey mascot. Being a pixel monkey myself, I appreciate the site's look and aesthetic. (What's not to like about that gorgeous robots to zombies background fade?)

Second, any site that uses nice renditions of my favourite puppet or claymation characters also has my full attention.

So to see Timmy the Monkey done up as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer from the 1964 Rankin-Bass movie just delighted me and I knew I had to have a Timmy the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey of my very own. Preferably one with a light-up nose.

Also, after being sick as all get-out for a week with this damn sinus infection from hell, I needed a project I could immerse myself in and yet remain quiet and still and restful. So, I grabbed some bricks of Sculpey and Fimo and cleared off the glass drawing table and began kneading the polymer clay. The light colours on Timmy are just plain tan Sculpey. The darker area is tan mixed with chocolate and the antler nubs are chocolate Sculpey mixed with black Fimo. The black eyes and red nose are also Fimo.

The problem with working in Sculpey is the stuff is ridiculously soft. That makes it exceedingly difficult to get it completely smooth and exceedingly easy to get small flecks of other colours embedded into each other. The head construction was fairly easy, but smoothing out the seam of the ears was difficult without leaving further marks in the soft clay. It went pretty well, though, including the inlay of the tan into the ears.

Then I started the body. I toyed with the thought of using aluminum foil to take up some of the bulk, but to be honest, I've never had success using that method - I just never seem to get the clay smooth again over the crumpled foil. So, his body is a massive chunk of Sculpey. Then I cut a diagonal line to create the joint for one leg - just to see if this method would make a better joint for the legs. It did. I was pretty happy with that ... and then it was time for the damn arms. Really, the arms weren't so bad, but trying to do the hands in the incredibly soft Sculpey was an exercise in masochism. Eventually I got it. Unfortunately, during the baking, both arms sagged downward more than I'd anticipated.

Timmy the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey - unlit

So he turned out pretty well, but that wasn't quite enough for me. I wanted a light-up nose, too. So, I carved into the back of Timmy's little head. I needed a slot big enough to slide a 3V 2032 button battery (often found in watches or super-slim remotes). I also needed a hole to insert the LED. Wiring him up was far easier than I thought at first - the area was small enough that all I really needed to do was slide the battery in between the wires in the LED - no additional wiring really needed. I could just take the battery out to turn it off. Far simpler than trying to embed both wiring and a switch inside the Sculpey head - particularly since I didn't want to bake the wiring along with the Sculpey.

Timmy the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey - lit

There ya have it! Timmy the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey.

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:39 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 5, 2009

Timmy the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey

It's no secret that I enjoy being a massive geek, so it's no real surprise that I adore thinkgeek.com. I logged in over there the other day, only to discover their holiday theme is up ... and it's based on the old clay-mation Christmas specials like Rudolph. In fact, one of their designers has mocked up a Timmy (their mascot monkey - hello, I am the Red Monkey, you KNOW I love thinkgeek!) as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The header with that image is not on every page, it's in a random rotation at the moment, but play around a bit on their site and you'll see it.

I LOVE it! Of course. So, since I've finished the last of my major projects (other than cleaning the house), I decided that the perfect sick-time activity this weekend is making a Timmy the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey. I am going to try to hit Radio Shack tonight and pick up a red LED to put inside him as well.

So, this is the head, pre-baking. It's primarily Sculpey with a bit of Fimo in the nose and mixed into the antler nubs.

Timmy the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey

Building the body's going to be very interesting ....

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:07 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

November 17, 2009

Woot.com

So I love Woot.com - they have some of the best copywriting anywhere. Case in point - the copy for Homeland Security Wireless Day/Night Camera Kit - 2 Pack:


A sign was painted
Said: Private Property

Chorus: This land is homeland This land is my land From the chain-link front fence To the back fence I've planned From the Coxes' driveway To the Hingles' swingset This land's surveilled for me to see
Well, they say a man's home Is that man's castle Where he won't get harassed And he won't get hassled But thugs are out to get me And they're all around me That's why this land's surveilled for me to see
Chorus
I installed those cameras Just as a precaution So that all the hoodlums Would know that someone's watchin' 'em I haven't seen them lurking So I guess it's working This land's surveilled for me to see
Chorus
Every night and weekend You can find me poring Over all my footage Though it's mostly boring Just kids when school's out And the mailman on his route Is all I've surveilled so far to see
Chorus
So no one's done a crime yet But if someone did, though I know I would catch it Catch it right on video And when that happens I'll get so much gratitude They'll "thank god for your CCTV"
This land is homeland This land is my land From the chain-link front fence To the back fence I've planned From the Coxes' driveway To the Hingles' swingset This land's surveilled for me to see

Ahhhhhhh, gotta love good copywriting.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:21 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

October 18, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

1963. Maurice Sendak. Where the Wild Things Are

This is a children's book iconic, so well-known, so beloved ... and so short ... it's hard to believe Hollywood would even attempt to make a movie out of it. Of course, they're making re-makes of re-makes, so I suppose they've totally used up all of their creativity anyway. I could rant, but why waste the energy? We all know Hollywood's been sucking for a long time now and that they're making movies designed to be understood by people who've done so much crack and huffed so much paint they can barely stand upright.

Let's face it. Most Hollywood movies don't encourage thought. Those that do, get panned as too artsy or high-falutin'.

(Yes, I'm generalizing. Overstating the case. That's not really a good thing either, but let's roll with it for a minute.)

Anyhow, back to Sendak. When I saw Todd McFarlane's Where the Wild Things Are toys, I was over the moon. I was teaching at a university and my students were working on their essays during class. I was on a computer in the front of the room, ready to help if they needed anything - a student walked up while I was discovering these toy/statues.

"What's that?"

"Where the Wild Things are action figures."

"What's that?"

I blinked. He had never seen the book. So, the day before Spring Break, I brought the book in and after we'd done a little work, told them they could leave if they wanted, but those who wanted to stay, we'd sit down on the floor and have a little story time. I promised it would be quick. There were a couple of kids who started to leave ... but since the bulk of them were already plopping their butts down on the floor, most stayed. I think only 1 or 2 actually left.

Sketch of Max in his boat

Upon hearing that this book was to be made into a movie, I was furious. And it was going to be a live-action flick instead of animated. I was HORRIFIED.

And then I saw the trailer.

I was hooked and couldn't wait for it to come out.

It was absolutely fantastic.

It is not a typical Hollywood flick.

It is not a movie for children the same age as the book's original audience.

It is primarily a movie for adults, not because it's too scary or inappropriate ... but because kids aren't really the target audience. Spike Jonez is mostly reminding us what it was to be a child. The immediacy of emotion, the attempts to fix everything, the surety that a good story could fix the world just by your own force of will and belief. The mercurial emotions - gleeful one moment and devastated beyond the ability to explain in words the next. In fact, the movie is largely about being without words ... and learning to find words ... and being content knowing that sometimes words are completely unnecessary.

I've seen criticism that this movie encourages bad behaviour in children. Not really, although children do mimic what they see and they are sure to mimic the snowball fights and dirt clod wars and perhaps even the odd moment of biting. But they do this because they are children, just like Max and just like Max they are learning how to deal with their emotions and urges ... and their anger.

That's the core of this flick. How to deal with anger, with relationships, with living in community with other people.

Kids are not born knowing how to deal with anger. They are not born understanding that their actions have consequences both emotional and physical.

Max, in the beginning of the film, is a very angry little boy. He's ultimately pretty good at heart, but he is a wild thing. He is acting out. On the one hand, he wants to fix everything and make everyone happy all of the time. On the other hand (or claw), he doesn't know what to do with the anger he feels when he's lonely or sad or can't help his mom to not be sad. And with all of that confusion and anger and frustration, he behaves, oddly enough, like a child.

This is not to excuse him, mind you. His behaviour is unacceptable. His mother's reactions are not depressing, at least not to me, they're freaking realistic. She is tired. She is stressed. And while the boy is a wild thing ... she is obviously doing something right as he's also kind-hearted (when he thinks things through all the way).

However, children have to act like children in order to learn how they are supposed to behave. And if we ignore bad behaviour, they learn nothing and they act like Charlie Weis when they grow up. This movie does not hit us over the head with the punishments Max gets in order to learn how to behave ... that's a typical Hollywood gambit. Max learns it more organically than that. And sure, it's pretty obvious that there a Wild Thing that rather parallels Max ... but I think the movie manages to make that character an extension of Max's psyche in a way that's more of a literary foil than a dumbed-down version.

It's a film that captured, for me, what it was to be a child. It captured all of the things I promised myself I would never forget - how hard it is when no one has time for you, how impossible it is to explain yourself and what you're thinking and feeling sometimes.

Kids watching this flick may act out for a while after seeing it. Testing boundaries and to a certain extent, feeling that momentary freedom of just acting rather than thinking. The movie walks a very fine line with Max's behaviour. As adults, I don't think we need to see his mother punishing him because really, we get that Max gets it - how bad his behaviour has been. It's subtle, but it's clearly there. Children - well, it depends on the maturity and intellectual capabilities of the specific child (or their attention span - the movie isn't really paced for kids). Some of them will get it. Some of them will think Max got away with murder and that they can as well.

If you take a child to this movie, it's up to us as adults to DISCUSS it with the kid afterward. Not hammer them about what was right or wrong about Max's behaviour. Not point out how much trouble they'd be in if they ever behaved that way. Discuss all of it. Ask them if they ever feel that lonely. If they ever get that terribly out of sorts that they feel like an out-of-control wild thing. Tell them how you used to be. How you sometimes still feel those feelings. And what you do to cope with the feelings and still behave like a proper person instead of a wild thing.

I loved this movie because it's not a passive thing. Sure, you can turn your brain off and watch it if you want. You might even enjoy it that way.

But if you engage with it and with other people ... if you discuss it ... the issues it brings up ...

Well, then it's a film that is as timeless as the book itself. A book which caused quite a bit of controversy itself when it was first published. And even more when it snagged the Caldecott.

One of my favourite bits (and it's giving nothing away, it's depicted on some versions of the movie poster) - is the parallel between Max and a Wild Thing walking through the desert and the very similar poster for the absolutely wretched George Lucas flick. Without overdoing it, Jonez is making a comparison, I think, that each of us has an Anakin/Vader battle of our own. Really, Jonez probably places more emphasis and symbolism on the desert the characters cross and its mere existence on the island of the wild things more than he was making a nerd reference to Episode One, but the visual "one-liner" was just one of many delights I found in the movie. For me, that was a still frame every bit as rich and engaging as a page from Sendak's original book.

I hope the movie does well. Maybe it will encourage Hollywood to make more films that don't require we turn off our brains and mindlessly consume without engagement.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:50 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 4, 2009

At the IMAX

Having really enjoyed the IMAX 3d version of Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix, we waited to see the Half Blood Prince until our local (local-ish - was a good 40 minutes or more away) was showing it. So, Saturday, we slogged across the stupid time-zone line and caught a 6:00 showing (7 our time). Didn't think to feed the animals before we left ... major oops.

The movie started out in 3d with no warning which made most of us wonder WTF before hurriedly grabbing for our over-sized glasses. The beginning was of course somewhat different from the book. It's so difficult to distill a 650 page hardback into a reasonable length movie - even a very beloved book. Maybe even especially because the series is beloved. There were tons of subplots and rich details left out - but most of them I thought were decent enough cuts given the medium.

The acting was, as usual, spot on. Hermione's character and Ginny's character are really starting to come into their own a bit more. Hermione's not quite the insufferable know-it-all who also insists on following all of the rules as she was in the beginning of the series - but then, that goes for the books as well as the movies.

I thought many of the visual ways of displaying the disasters caused by the Death Eaters were quite well done. They didn't seem to blow the entire effects budget on them, they didn't seem to over do it ... a nice balance. I missed things like the bits with the prime minister and "the other minister," but it seemed a decent enough cut. I was slightly disappointed by the whole prior to getting to Hogwart's look at the Weasley's store, but again, seemed a good enough cut.

But I should have been warned when the way that Dumbledore arrives for Harry and they go on their little before-school-starts errand to attempt to hire a new teacher, that the director was going to change up the story. It was a minor change and I mostly enjoyed it. Dumbledore doesn't show up at the Dursleys' house to pick up Harry as in the book. Instead we get a scene of a typical teenage boy - I won't give it away because I thought it was a charming little scene that you should have a chance to enjoy. What did bother me a bit at the time and much more later, was that it seemed some crucial plot bits were being changed or left out.

It wasn't long into the beginning of the movie before the little red circle slash through glasses symbol came on and we removed our glasses. The 3d was nice, but I was really looking forward to the end of the movie and the scene in the cave with the Inferi - surely that would be 3d again and it would be spectacular.

I was a little more concerned when the director and/or screenwriter added a completely new scene to the movie. Yes, I'm talking about the one involving the Burrow. Again, I don't want to give it away for those who haven't seen it, but why? Why add this scene? It was long and it was unnecessary. By long I only mean that given actual plot lines that had been cut, why add something that didn't originally exist in the books? It just seemed quite stupid to me. I was disgruntled to say the least.

Once they got to school? Let me say this: not only did Rowling really nail the relationships between 15 year olds ... so did the director and the actors. Oh my! The strutting, the peacockery, the exasperation, the machinations, the confusion ... all of it was spot on. Just absolutely nailed it. I laughed my ass off at the sheer reality of it.

My real gripe with the film and my very real concern with the two movies that will follow (by the same director) is that the entire set up for the quest in the final book was seriously botched. First, the umm, "little friend Felix" was not shared as it was in the book. Which meant the big fight inside Hogwart's was missing. More troubling, Dumbledore didn't explain what he was supposed to explain. I mean, we know Dumbledore had a difficult time explaining much, but the movie Dumbledore did not fully explain the quest to Harry as much as he did in the book. Harry was not charged with finishing finding the Horcruxes (Horcruces?). Harry was not reminded by Dumbledore that he needed his friends. The entire scene at the cave was quite truncated (and, just by-the-by not in 3d either - I was quite disappointed by that - what was the point of the IMAX version if they didn't do that?). Several key plot points were left out of the cave scene as well, all of which REALLY makes me worry about the final book's two movies.

Overall, it was a decent movie. I'm not sure it was worth the price of the IMAX ticket given the short shrift on the 3d, but it certainly is worth the evening price at a regular theatre. The acting is splendid - there are tons of laughs in what is ultimately a serious and dark movie. With that, at least, I thought the director and the screenwriter did a marvelous and balanced job.

But sending Harry into The Deathly Hallows with even less of a clue than he had in the books? I'm concerned. Guess I'll find out next Thanksgiving and the following July if I was right to be worried.

Oh, and by the way, if your child has NOT read Half Blood Prince and somehow has managed to NOT find out who dies at the end, you might wanna freaking tell the kid before you take him to the show. I was quite surprised to find a 12 year old boy all but bawling into his mum as the lights came up. Was obvious he hadn't heard which character in the novel died at the end.

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:43 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

July 16, 2009

Chipotle

I adore Mexican food. Having grown up in Texas, this isn't too surprising. The first time I saw a Chipotle burrito joint, I thought, "Meh. Yuppy poser. Whatever." However, living in freaking Indiana has made me enjoy even Taco Bell, so when we got a Chipotle here, I went to check it out.

And fell in love.

Seriously, I'm salivating just thinking about it.

To top it off, they appear to be a socially conscious and attempt to be better than fast food (despite the fact that their burritos, at 1000 calories, are two meals). Their website - always one of my main measuring sticks - is well-done and concentrates on both informing and being fun. And, you can place your order via internet and have it ready for you to pick up.

Being a serious geek, I love that.

So, when I realized I had to be on that side of town (of course it's about as far away from both my house and my job as it could possibly be and still be in the same town), I immediately placed an order for my favourite burrito. Looked forward to it all morning.

First, it took me a solid twenty minutes to get through town and get to the restaurant. Okay, I expected that. But then I had to wait for my order. Okay, it's noon. They were swamped. I kind of expect to wait a little bit. The cashier takes my name, tells it to the girl running the "call-in" orders. She finishes the order for the man ahead of me ... and then starts another order. And another burrito. Dammit, I'm right here and I only had one burrito. After about 10-15 minutes, she tries to hand me a huge bag. Hungry, tired, frustrated, I'm sure I snapped at her a bit, "I only have one burrito." Her eyes widen, she asks my name and she apologizes a couple of times. I pay, grab mi burrito y guacamole and skedaddle. I still have to run to the art supply store to exchange something and then hit the mall to look at a book in Barnes & Noble - which was the real reason I was on this side of town to begin with. I needed to look up how to do something in a program and couldn't find the information online anywhere - so I needed to eyeball some computer books and see if any of them were worth buying.

Traffic on this side of town is always horrendous. It's the shopping strip. Block after block of strip malls, restaurants, freestanding stores and finally the only "real" mall in town. It's hell to drive over there, which is why I rarely go. People irritate me.

So I book it into Barnes & Noble, beeline for the computer books, rapidly find the information I want - it's literally about 4 sentences - and leave without buying. I'm not paying $10 a sentence for the information I needed! The rest of the book is stuff I already know. I'm practically running back out to my car, because I hate to be late. I have one hour for lunch. Sixty minutes. I knew I was going to run long and I told the "big boss" that before Ieft. And while he was fine with that, I wasn't. Mostly because I hate being late, but also some because I'm not on salary. If I was late, I was losing money despite the fact that at least some of this trip was work related.

So, of course, the parking lot is a freaking nightmare. It's poorly laid out which means cars are coming up where they should be going down instead. There's not really enough room for two cars to pass comfortably, which is why the designer tried to put up a Do Not Enter sign, which everyone then promptly ignored. So that's a little stressful. Also, some poor schmuck had a flat tire. He pulled over as far as he could, but his location is encouraging people to go the wrong way so they don't have to drive next to where he's changing a tire.

I finally get up to the turn where I can start to get out of the parking lot ... and the old people in the van ahead of me stop. STOP DEAD. GET OUT OF THE VAN.

There is a freaking line of people behind us and they decide this is a good time and place to change drivers!

I ate my chips and guacamole and tried not to scream foul things at them. Maybe I just needed some food to settle down. After all, it was 12:30 or 12:45 by this point and I hadn't eaten since my little breakfast bar at 7:00.

I finally get out of the mall parking lot and fly all the way back through town, bolt into work and clock in. Twenty minutes late. Grrrrrr If the kid at Chipotle had just been on the ball, I would hardly have been late at all. Damn.

I get upstairs and between the heat, the guacamole and chips and the general stress, I'm just not hungry any more. I decide to eat the burrito for dinner. Nummy nummy dinner. Definitely looking forward to this.

So, I finally get home after my frustrating and long day, crack open the burrito and take a huge bite.

Heaven.

After a few more bites, I'm thinking, something doesn't taste right. There's something funky here.

I hate rice. HATE RICE. Hate hate hate hate hate. Always have. I don't like the taste, the texture, nothing. Eww. So of course, when I ordered my burrito, I specifically did NOT check the rice button. No way. No rice for me.

Damn burrito is full of rice, of course.

Having come at the end of a long and stressful day, this is my breaking point. I go to the Chipotle website and look for the contact us menu button. Now, while their website is fun, if you don't happen to run your mouse over the logo in the upper left, you probably won't realize that their menus drop down from there. So it took me some time to actually find the contact us menu item. And I left a fairly polite but firm message that I was pretty darn ticked off. Chipotle is a rare treat for me since it's across town and I had really been looking forward to that burrito.

So someone from corporate emails me back on Monday, which was pretty darn fast considering that I emailed them Friday night. The woman was quite nice, very apologetic and wanted to make things right. She let me know that she'd contacted the specific store and let them know so things like this didn't happen again. She asked for my address, presumably to send a coupon or something. I was good with this.

But the next evening the store manager called and apologized. She wanted to know what she could do to make this right. I told her I thought corporate was sending me a coupon and I was good with that. And that's true. It was lunch rush and I can certainly understand the confusion at the register and making me wait. That's a really easy mistake that you're just never going to 100% eliminate. The rice, well, that was not so easily excusable. But, it's not like I'm allergic to it - it wasn't going to kill me or make me sick, it just made the meal less enjoyable. And, pulling a lot of it out of my burrito reduced the calories.

But the manager insisted and wanted to know how many people I worked with.

The long and short of it is, five lucky co-workers and I are getting free burritos tomorrow for lunch. Yes, I have to drive 20 minutes there and another 20 back to go get them, but hey, free food! Happy co-workers! Woohoo!

Now, think about this for a minute. This is less than $50 that the store is spending (retail priced, not their cost). They have made me more eager to go back to Chipotle. They've impressed my co-workers. My supervisor is ecstatic from a personal level - hey free food - and she's impressed on a marketing level. Plus, they're getting some more free advertising out of me via an unsolicited blog post just because I'm impressed with the service. This could have been a lost customer (it wouldn't have been because there's such a dearth of good Mexican food around here - but I would probably have gone there less due to the sour rice taste in my mouth). Also, any time Chipotle came up, I'd probably whine about the time they filled my burrito with rice. And I'd probably embellish the story as the years went on. (Trust me, I do not take rice burritos lightly. That's some shit I'll hang onto for years.) That word of mouth damages their brand.

Instead, they made me ecstatic. They impressed my co-workers. We will quite likely talk very positively about Chipotle now - beyond damn good burritos, they have great customer service even when they make a mistake. Chipotle doesn't advertise on TV. Instead, they are invested in word of mouth - they like to give away burritos and let their food do the advertising for them. They appear to not just do it for the crass free advertising, but also to honestly help folks out (they gave away burritos to those displaced by Rita and Katrina).

I am not saying they're the perfect company - I'm not sure there is any such thing. But this is definitely a company that gets it. They're not giving away the bank, they're not acceding to ridiculous demands (like a retail company taking back a cordless phone that the kids threw in the pool, without any receipt and admitting it was over a year old - but that's another story).

I'm impressed.

And I'm really hoping my burrito is made right tomorrow! Nom nom nom nom

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:08 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

July 9, 2009

The Archive War

As a child, I begged my mother to pull over every single time we saw an historical marker in Austin - I was utterly fascinated with these little tidbits of history on the side of the road. So when someone on Twitter recently said, "I couldn't explain Austin any better than to share this story," I couldn't resist going to check. I love Texas history and particularly anything to do with my beloved Austin.

I about fell over laughing. Librarians and archivists, beware - this is a sordid and scary tale. English teachers - FLEE NOW - this was written, I think in 1974 and apparently by a committee of third graders. (I was going to say fifth graders, but I'm not so sure about that any more.)

Without further ado, I give you ... The Archive War!

In 1839 Austin became the capital of the Republic of Texas. The national archives - state papers and land titles - were house on Congress Avenue. In 1842, after Mexican armies seized San Antonio and seemed likely to capture Austin. Many residents fled in what was called "The Breakup." From his home in Galveston, President Sam Houston ordered removal of the government papers. A local "Archive Committee" responded by burying them. The president then tried unsuccessfully to have congress create a new capital near the coast. Later his men came secretly to haul the papers to the interim capital, Washington-on-the-Brazos, loading them before dawn on Dec. 30, 1842.
Mrs. Angelina Eberly, a noted innkeeper and one of the few women in Austin during The Breakup, found the men loading the archives in darkness. Running to the city cannon on Congress Avenue at Pecan (6th) Street, she fired at the wagons. The 26 men departed with the records. About 68 citizens rode after them, hauling along the city cannon. Some 20 miles from Austin they retrieved the archives without bloodshed.
Because the archives remained here, the president and the congress returned in 1845, preserving Austin as the capital of the republic and (later) the state.
The Archive War historical marker

Yep, gotta agree with the tweeter - nothing explains Texas as well as The Archive War.

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:58 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

July 8, 2009

80s Music

While I continue working on my critique of Amazon.com's website, let me write a quick and fun post. And since 80s music is the topic of the moment, let me once again emphasize how weird I was.

I did not, in fact, own any Michael Jackson albums. In fact, I thought he was terribly weird as it was back in the day, before he got really weird. I can perhaps name three Michael Jackson songs: "Billie Jean," "Thriller," "Beat It." Honestly? I prefer Weird Al's version of Beat It.

I did own: Police Synchronicity on cassette tape and a couple of Air Supply cassettes as well. Also, Yes 90125, the title of which I always have to look up because despite never having watched the show, 90210 comes to mind more quickly. I owned an REO Speedwagon LP and U2's early discography on LP ... though I stopped after Rattle & Hum. I wanted 38 Special, but never got around to buying any. I also had a few 45s, the stride song from St. Elmo's Fire ("Ain't Nothing Gonna Break-a My Stride") and Howard Jones' "No One Ever Is to Blame." Nope, no Madonna - I couldn't stand her. (She offended me with her first big hit. What can I say, I was a prude. Err, still am, just not quite that bad any more.) No Lionel Ritchie, though I did like him. No Springsteen, either.

We did not have cable, so I missed out on the entire music videos, MTV thing. By the time I finally had MTV, they'd stopped playing videos (not that I really cared, to be honest). We did have a Betamax VCR because both my father and I are gadget-heads. By the time I moved out of the house in, I think it was 1989, Dad had the family VCR in the living room and I think four VCRs in his bedroom. Also a video enhancer, a stereo receiver/mixer, two illegal microwave antennae and a Commodore 128 with monitor. Also, stereo speakers. But that's another ball of wax completely.

The one LP I had that caused a bit of controversy in the house was, of course, Purple Rain. I was thinking of buying it even though I had heard there was something naughty about it because I really liked a couple of songs I'd heard on the radio. So when I ran into my rebellious cousin at the mall, it didn't take much arm-twisting for her to talk me into it.

I adored having my LPs in pristine condition. I took meticulous care of them. There would never be a scratch on any of my LPs, nor even the faintest hint of one. I treated them like the finest glass sculptures. But when I listened to the flip side of the LP, the very first song freaked. me. out. I seriously contemplated taking out my penknife and making a deep groove through "Darling Nikki" so it could never be played and the needle would just traverse through to "I Would Die 4 U" instead.

My mother was not happy about this purchase as she'd thought she'd heard dire things about it. I came home from school one day and she made some comment about my music ... I went to my room, looked through my albums and came out and sat at the foot of her recliner whilst she read the newspaper. I said nothing.

"What do you want?" she asked fussily.

"I'd like my album back, please."

"It's filth, you can't have it." I didn't move and didn't respond. I was fairly certain she hadn't broken it and fairly certain she still had it. Not 100% positive, but pretty sure.

The newspaper crinkled down in the corner again so she could peer at me. "I heard on the news that it was bad."

I said nothing and just waited.

It took perhaps 10 minutes and she told me where it was. I retrieved it and put it in my desk drawer where she never found it. Of course, I'm not sure she bothered to look again.

Had she just asked me, I would have told her that there was a single song on there that would freak her out. That it had freaked me out and I hadn't even listened to it all the way through once and had no plans of ever listening to it. Had she trusted that she had, in fact, instilled her morals in me, she never would have had to worry about that LP.

But, my real 80s music that I listened to obsessively? Billy Joel. I wasn't even all that fond of Bruce Springsteen, really. In fact I thought my friends were going to throw something at me when I asked who he was.

I watched Our House with a very young Shannon Dougherty. But I didn't see the point in 90210. Missed Dallas and Falcon's Crest which were both quite popular in my high school. I watched The Hogan Family instead. About the only "popular" thing I watched was Fame. Not the movie, but the series. Now that I would never miss. But I don't think anyone in my school watched that either. I was definitely off the beaten track with my taste. (And I didn't care. I'd prattle on and on about The Secret of Nimh whilst friends babbled about Rambo or Risky Business, other 80s gems that I missed.)

I do recall in late elementary school one pop music event --

My cousin called me bawling her eyes out one day. I mean absolutely BAWLING. When she was somewhat coherent she sobbed to me that the King was dead and now Chubby Checker was going to get to be King and she was just *SOB*

I had to ask who she meant. And to be honest, I think she had just found out because I'm pretty sure he died about 2 years before she called me. Also? With the arrogance of youth, I thought he'd died a million years earlier.

She was unamused with me. Apparently it was a horrible thing for the king of rock-n-roll to die without naming a worthy successor and I was not showing enough respect.

Today, history repeats itself with the king of pop.

Now when Billy Joel finally kicks the bucket (and if it's true only the well-behaved die young, he's going to live for a long freaking time still), THEN I'll be an inconsolable fan who bitches that they're not shutting down NYC for Billy the way they shut down the 101 in LA for MJ. I'll probably haul the LPs up from the basement and finally get them digitized and play them and the CDs endlessly.

But until then, I admit to being perplexed by all the hoo-raw. He was just a man like any other. A weird, tormented little man for whom, to be honest, I felt pity rather than admiration. I hope he rests in peace.

And I wish the rest of us would freaking get over it.

(I know, I know, I'm the picture of sympathy, aren't I? But I'm tired of hearing about it already.)

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:05 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 23, 2009

Critical Hit - The Perfect 20

I am a scrounger. I drove my mother the neat-freak insane with my picking up of "trash" and carting it around, insisting it was cool stuff that I didn't just want, but I needed. Besides, it was still good. Why throw something away if it could be used or fixed or re-purposed?

I was the ultimate recycling kid. I made shelves out of cardboard and string, I made space ships for my Fisher Price Adventure People out of the packaging to mom's acrylic and oil paints. And that tendency hasn't gone away as I've gotten older. Let me put it this way. My dad was a VP at EDS at one point. Total suit, executive computer guy. And he would bring home dingy dumb terminals, clocks, office chairs - from the DUMPSTER at work. Drove my mom nuts - this executive in a suit would take off his jacket and go dumpster diving at work. Heh.

So, imagine my surprise when I was taking out the recycling last week and I discovered this:

20 sided die in sparkling gold

Yep, a 20 sided die. GOLD, no less, sparkling at the end of the driveway. And whilst the original owner apparently failed a saving throw, it was rolled to a perfect 20 for me! WOOHOO! SCORE!

And then tonight, whilst hunting for the egg slicer which has, apparently, disappeared off the face of the earth, I got on a ladder and hunted in the top cabinet of the house we've lived in for umm, nearly seven years now, and I made another discovery.

First, the house was built in 1952 and I keep hoping we'll find some really cool retro stuff. So far that's been held to an Indiana State Trooper hardhat (pretty cool), a pair of women's motorcycle boots, and a can of Harley Davidson paint that has to be from the 50s or 60s. Some cool stuff, but nothing spectacular.

Our kitchen cabinets are a little ... eccentric. The kitchen itself is tiny - about the size of my cubicle at work. You can't open the oven and the fridge at the same time, counterspace is non existent, no room for a dishwasher and the microwave takes up an entire counter. The massive KitchenAid mixer and the toaster pretty much take up the other side of the sink.

So there are odd corners to these cabinets. And today, whilst hunting that elusive egg slicer for my salad tonight, I made a new retro discovery. I think these damn things have been in the house since it was built ... and there's only one piece missing ... I give you the all important ... Nikoban!

Nikoban Medicated Gum circa 1965?

Go ahead and click the pic for a larger size - you can actually read the back of the box and learn about the "slight astringent burrs" that might form from chewing this crap.
Heh, and yes, I took that picture of the eldery Nikoban gum on top of my Hardy Boys Season 1 DVD. I still have to rip that DVD to my iPod ....

Definitely a critical hit of finds over the last week!

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:12 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 21, 2009

Because I'm a Dork

Here are some more pix of little Mr. Tieg cuz I'm just that dorky.

Little mini dachshund puppy - Tieg

I know, he looks a little lost there on the floor, doesn't he? That's "crabcakes" at his feet, one of Scraps' favourite small toys. And that turtle is bigger than Tieg - nearly bigger than Scraps. Apparently both boys really enjoy huge toys.

Little mini dachshund puppy - Tieg

We call this the teepee. Originally Scout would go in there and huddle and sometimes she still uses it, but the little boy here loves it. He's taken all of the jingle balls he can find and hoarded them along with a few other toys. He also seems to think that the teepee itself is a toy as seen here. He will bite the edges and then try to drag it around. Of course, that doesn't work really well when he's inside it, but somehow that doesn't seem to matter. What's best is he'll go play in there for a while and be self-contained and quiet. Everyone will forget where he is ... until one of the other animals walks past and he springs out like a freaking trap door spider, lightning fast, and strikes at the innocent passer-by. Scraps, as you might guess, is not really that amused by it.

But I am.

Little mini dachshund puppy - Tieg

Scraps' favourite toy is his bear. It's about twice as big as he is and so far, this is the only toy that both boys can play with at the same time. I got this for Scraps ages ago because he "stole" my coyote stuffie that was as big as he was and had the same soft, silky texture as this bear. He was so proud, walking through the house with this coyote toy, proud he could lift something so big, so happy that I'd brought him a treat. I'd gotten it at a zoo and for me because, well, duh, I have a love of coyotes (except for the human coyotes - those assholes can eat shit and die). Anyhow, not to digress, I felt guilty and decided to get Scraps a replacement that was both large and that same texture. He LOVES that bear, dragging it around, shake-killing it, laying on top of it and chewing the ears ... he just loves it.

So of course, I got it out yesterday and got the puppy to attack it. Scraps was not so sure of that and immediately hopped down and also began attacking bear. I kept hold of bear and let the boys play "tug" with me making sure the puppy got to keep his grip. They were both ecstatic and had quite the grand time playing together. Scraps is happy because Scout will NOT play tug ... at all. As soon as Scraps starts to tug hard, she lets go with this pitiful, "I thought we were playing, why are you being mean" look. She just doesn't get the concept at all.

Apparently Tieg gets the concept. I expect the boys to have tons of fun together once Tieg stops trying to bite everything in his path with those little razor puppy-teeth.

Little mini dachshund puppy - Tieg

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:21 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 20, 2009

Unnatural Disasters

I love a good pun. Unfortunately, many people think I have bad taste in puns. I attribute that to Rocky & Bullwinkle.

At any rate, there is a book called Shatnerquake. No, I'm not kidding.

Shatnerquake cover You see? Right there. Shatnerquake. You can even buy it for your Kindle on Amazon. And, being a devout anti-Trekkie/anti-Trekker how do I know about this book? Well, because despite the fact that I am a Star Wars Geek who pretty much hates Star Trek (in general, some episodes of tNG were good and same for DS9), I do adore one person who too often gets characterized as a Star Trek actor, but really he's just this guy, you know? So anyhow, Wil mentioned this book he found in Seattle.

And it sparked a pun war of sorts. A virtual explosion of tweets last night predicting ever more dire endings to the world via Star Trek characters and actors.

My favourites, in the order in which they were tweeted:

  • nppyinzer: @wilw I assume these disasters are harbingers of the Aspockalypse
  • DeWayneFeenstra: @wilw i got the sequel to shatnerquake- AfterSpock!
  • LeEnfantSamedi: @wilw A seismic SPOCKWAVE!
  • T_Lawson: @wilw and then TNG becomes fair game - Frakes of Wrath, LeVar & Away, East of Wheaton, Dorn to be Wild, Spiner Tap...
  • IanKC: @wilw Someone get Dr. Crusher, I think I have Wes Nile Virus :(
  • PhilipWheeler: @wilw I only get about on average 7 of 9 these puns
  • Tim3P0: @wilw Tasha Yarrmaggedon
  • talekyn: @wilw My friend Dennis just suggested a summer theater production: Frakespeare in the Park.
  • MarcSchlaf: @wilw Lest we forget EarthFrakes and ThunderDorns.
  • harlander: @wilw The final book in the series must, of course, be Doohansday
  • goonie_girl: @wilw one before bed: "Troinado."
  • Totz_the_Plaid: @wilw You can't forget "Chekovs and Balances"
  • Thomas_Green: @wilw "Worfcano", (and games) "World of Warp-Craft", "Dungeons and Klingons".
  • Thomas_Green: @wilw (and movies) "I was a Teenage WereWorf", "Finding Nimoy", "The Sacking of Troi", "Prisoner of Rikers Island" Starring: Ernest Borg-9,
  • Thomas_Green: @Mystoffolyees @wilw then there's the song "Like a Bridge over Tribbled Waters" or the movie "Big Tribble in Little China"
  • HavTuf: @wilw Picard, any card
  • HavTuf: @wilw how the Wes was won.
  • Thomas_Green: @wilw And my final contribution to the PUNisnment.. "In 2012 the world WILL be destroyed by a huge As-TROI-D..."
  • Hesster56: @wilw Sulunami.

Were I building the series, I would go with:

  • Shatnerquake

  • AfterSpock

  • EarthFrakes and ThunderDorns

  • Troinado

  • Sulunami

  • Aspockalypse

And now ... Hey Rocky, watch me while I pull a rabbit out of this hat!

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:38 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 15, 2009

Introducing ... Tieg

As I was going to sleep last night - after the idiot neighbor had his crappy, stupid, LOUD fireworks show on a damn Sunday night before everyone had to be up at ungodly hours for WORK on a Monday - I was just about to drift off and I thought: Tieg.

A good Irish name. A name from one of my favourite book series (Katherine Kurtz' Deryni series). The character in the book is a precocious youngster.

Honestly, I fully expected other half to veto it, but she cocked her head to one side and said, "Tieg. I like it. What's it for?" I told her it was Irish and that seemed good. I hesitantly told her it was also the name of one of the characters I like - that is sometimes the kiss of death for animal names around here - but it still seemed fine.

So - he's finally got a name!

Little mini dachshund puppy - Tieg

Oh yes, that's Scraps in the background, watching over "his" puppy. I will say, though, we managed to keep Scraps from completely obsessing over Tieg and trying to chase everyone away from him as he did with Scout when she was a pup. Scraps seems to have decided that I'm doing a passable job keeping up with him and perhaps he'll allow me to be mommy instead of him. He's not sure, but perhaps so.

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:38 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 14, 2009

Nameless

Hmmm. We are still nameless here.

Little mini dachshund puppy 2

Names that have been discussed include: Snickers (too obvious), Scamp (no self-fulfilling prophecies, please - plus he looks nothing like Lady & the Tramp's son).

I liked Joss for Joss Whedon who created the TV show Firefly and the movie Serenity. And since the main characters were once resistance fighters called browncoats, it seemed to fit. If Joss wouldn't work, I'd settle for Nate. (The main character's name is Mal, but the actor is Nathan Fillion ... I'm all about the crazy tangential references.)

Those have both been totally vetoed.

Other half suggested Ghiradelli. Meh. Ghiri for short (gear-ee). Meh.
Another person suggested Scharffenberger with Scharffy for short. The chocolate thing just doesn't really do it for me.

The maybe list - maybe from both of us:
Petey
Pixel
Rascal

I think Hunter might work. We've also kinda played with Camo.

Of course at this point, Daemon, Holy Terror, Dammit What Are You Doing Now, Where'd He Go, Stop That, and Go To Sleep ... these all might work.

I still want a browncoat name, though. Grrr

Pouncer
Cowboy? (We know of another brown doxie named that though)

Oh good grief, he just somersaulted out of a kennel - threw himself with the back legs and forgot the front ones were planted.

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:24 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 12, 2009

Star Wars Geek

I am a Star Wars geek.

Not so much that I can name every bounty hunter in all 6 movies. I don't watch the crappy Clone Wars cartoon (I tried one day ... it reminded me of the last time I tried to watch the Superfriends cartoon. Ridiculously stilted to the point of unwatchable).

I don't actually own a Jedi robe. I have not (yet) built my own lightsaber. And somehow, we haven't gotten around to getting the original movies on DVD yet. (Definitely need the one without Lucas' later crap added on.)

I do, however, read some of the books. I discovered a long time ago that despite how much I absolutely LOATHE Star Trek, the original series, some of the books were actually pretty decent. I really can't watch the show because of Shatner and nothing else. Armed with that knowledge, I started checking some Star Wars books out of the library many moons ago and discovered there were some damn good ones. And, with a "hobby" of reading children's books, I was delighted when they brought out the Young Jedi Knights series - a series for young adults revolving around the next generation of Solo and Skywalker. And, I was terribly impressed with the characterization of Leia's and Han's twins, Jacen and Jaina.

Jaina was quite a lot like her dad - a mechanic, a pilot, into action a bit more than introspective navel-gazing. Jacen was very empathetic, very thoughtful, prone to the most inane and wretched jokes, and he loved animals/creatures of all sorts. The opening of the first book had Han coming to visit his children at the Jedi Academy with flowers for his son and an engine for his daughter. Sure, the flowers were a food for Jacen's pets. Sure it was done quite deliberately to shock readers out of stereotypes.

But they didn't leave it a shock-level thing; it was a one-time "trick." And you quickly realized that it fit the characters perfectly and thought no more of it.

The kids' series was a splendid run and I still enjoy going back and reading them. I quickly branched out into the main storyline of the Star Wars 'verse and discovered that the franchise was perhaps getting even better in the books than the original three movies. The New Jedi Order segment of books was stunning. The Dark Nest, not so much, but it contained some vital information that led into the absolute tour de force that left me reeling in Legacy of the Force. (These "titles," by the way, all cover multiple books. Some are trilogies, some are longer. I think New Jedi Order, which was just an incredibly rich storyline, hit something like 21 books including an e-book novella.)

In a lot of ways, I think the books have now told the basic storyline of the prequel movies far better than Lucas' movies did. In the Legacy of the Force we see a fall to the dark side that makes sense and shows it happening to a character we actually care about ... something Lucas just did not set up well in the prequel movies at all.

I can't remember the last time a series of books hit me as hard as this New Jedi Order and Legacy of the Force runs. The writers, largely because they have the luxury of "space" (not restricted to a 90 minute or 120 minute film) had the time to set up the characters (those who weren't already established) and the time to let things evolve in a natural matter instead of forcing things through in a short period of time. There was no need for "Five Months Later..." or any nonsense like that.

If you enjoy strong characterizations and SciFi, I really recommend these books. And, if you could start out with the kid's Jedi series, it would be even better. If there was one kid to fall to the dark side ... well, I wouldn't have picked this one from the beginning.

The books show how easy it is for the best of us to be seduced by thinking we're doing good and how hard it is to jump off that track once we're on it.

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:16 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 9, 2009

Escape ... with phat stacks

So, there's this song that I liked back in the day, called "Escape," but most of us call it the Piña Colada song. What sucks about being in "the" demographic is that far too often your best memories of back in the day are co-opted by inferior marketers who usually just screw it up.

Except sometimes they actually get it right.

And boy did Taco Bell get this one right. So right, in fact, that 30 seconds was just not long enough. Not being an in-front-of-real-live-people kind of singer, I'll just give you my alternate lyrics with two caveats.
1) It's completely fiction and I was rather thinking of Office Space whilst writing it this evening.
2) The main chorus utilizes most of the Taco Bell commercial's lyrics.

Oh and another thing? I don't actually like piña coladas, either. Like I said, it's fiction.

I'm so tired of this working
I've been at this too long
Like a gear in a clockwork
Of an ancient machine
So while I sorted some widgets
I wrote this song in my head.
Then tonight in the want ads
There was this letter I read:

If you like piña coladas
hate getting stuck in slow lanes
if you're not into meetings
and your boss has no brain
if you hate filling out your time sheets
in the bowels of the basement
Then I'm the cashflow you've looked for
Write to me and make cash

I didn't think about my coworkers
I know that sounds kinda cold
But they're all hacks anyway and
I need to leave behind the same old dull routine
So I wrote out an email
Answered that job posting fast
And though I'm no Twitter expert
I thought it wasn't half bad

Yes I like Piña Coladas
And not getting stuck in slow lanes
I'm not much into meetings
I am ready for phat stacks
I've got to interview after work tonight
And I need insurance fast
Got jacked by O'Malley
And I need Vicodin now

So I waited with high hopes
And the reply hit my inbox
I knew the Subject Line in an instant
I knew the turn of his phrase
It was my Nigerian partner
And he said, "Oh dear friend."
Then we scowled for a moment.
And I said, "You owe me big"

I thought I'd be out of the ratrace
Not getting stuck in slow lanes
No more boring meetings
Finally using my own brain
No more punching out time clocks
And enjoying my time

Selling crap on the eBay
And winning a big lottery...

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:35 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 2, 2009

From All The Girls With Band-Aids On Their Knees

I haven't gone to see Up yet - I know, I know. I will see it soon. But I came across this blog post from NPR today and well ... yeah. Just yeah.

Dear Pixar, From All The Girls With Band-Aids On Their Knees
by Linda Holmes
Dear Pixar,
This is not an angry letter. It is especially not an angry letter about Up, which I adored. I could have sat in the theater and watched it two more times in a row. I cried, but I also laughed so hard in places that it wore me out.
So I'm not complaining; I'm asking. I'm asking because I think so highly of you.
Please make a movie about a girl who is not a princess.

I adore Pixar and wouldn't they just do a STELLAR job with a non-princess girl/woman as the lead in a movie?

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:45 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 24, 2009

Pup The Magic Dachshund

So Scraps the miniature-dachshund loves puppies. Particularly dachshund puppies. If you've ever seen the weird dachshund magnetism that occurs when two doxies are in close proximity you'll understand. If you've never seen this ... well, I had two little magnet toys as a child. They were both little plastic Scotty dogs on top of a small bar magnet. One was white and one was black. If you put them near each other with the heads pointing toward each other, the polarities attracted and the dogs snapped together.

Dachshunds apparently have some kind of dachshund magnet that pulls with an even greater force than the typical "Hey, look another dog, I wanna go see" force. Dachshunds absolutely MUST see each other at all costs.

Scraps knows when we've been to see other dogs. Okay, most dogs can smell another being on you, no surprise there. Scraps knows when it's a puppy. He tried digging through my pockets one day looking for the dachshund puppy I'd petted that day. It drove him nuts (not to mention he drove me crazy). On top of that, Scraps had a toy puppy that he treated like a real pup. He fed it, he put it on the puppy pad (cuz that's what you do after you eat, you know) and he even devised a way to "play" rope tug with it. He desperately wanted another dog in the house.

So we finally brought him his very own puppy.

Scraps and Scout

He absolutely adored baby Scout. Today, at 7 and her at 5 ... he thinks she might be defective. She refuses to play tug. She makes these odd rooing howl sounds that he finds quite undignified. And, even worse, she has more energy than any hound should ever display.

So today ... apparently shortly before a meth house exploded about 10 or 20 blocks north of us ... we went back out to the breeder from whom we'd gotten Scraps. For a little look-see.

Chocolate and Tan Dapple Pup

 

Chocolate and Tan Dapple Pup

We pick up the little dappled guy June 10th. WOOHOO!

And no, no name picked out yet despite the title of the post. We need to see a little more personality before we can pick.

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:50 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 7, 2009

Ba Dum Dum Cha

I can recall overhearing my mother give her mother two edicts regarding me - no basketball hoop to put up over our garage (and yet, Grandma bought me a basketball hoop one summer for being good - and it languished in their garage because Mom wouldn't let me take it home & Grandpa wouldn't put it up at their house either) - and no drums.

Of course, Grandma bought me a kiddie drum when I was 6 or so. I ignored every other present and instantly ripped it out of the box and began beating away. I would disappear into my room - or our converted garage playroom - and wail away to my heart's content. As I left elementary school, we were given the opportunity to join the junior high band and the director came to school to give us some aptitude tests. I wanted to either play drums or saxophone. Can you guess how that went?

Finally in high school, I bought a used snare drum and would turn my stereo up ridiculously high and play along when no one else was home. Eventually, frustrated by the lack of a complete set, I sold it off. Since then, it's been an endless stream of table drumming, lap slapping and the odd hand drum here and there. I bought Wii Music because it had a drum kit in it and I thought that would be a cheap way to explore having a whole kit. Nope. Couldn't stand the way it worked. (Anyone wanna buy it?)

Next, I thought I'd try Wii Rock Band Special Edition. This at least came with a kit of four drum pads and a pedal for the bass.

Meh. I really don't like the way the kit sounds. Any of their programmed kits. (Anyone wanna ... oh hell, I need to box it up for eBay, don't I?)

The next thing I discovered in the last week or so is the cajon. Now this is a freaking cool box drum. It's all wood and you sit on it to play it. (Seriously, click through the link to a picture and description - and you can choose to watch the video if you're in a place where you can do that. It's pretty freaking awesome.) Our choir director's other half brought her new cajon to choir the other day so I could mess with it. The sounds ... wow. The thing is awesome.

But to get the tones I like the best, you have to strike pretty loudly which means I would never be able to play with it - my other half would shoot me provided her migraines didn't leap out of her skull and kill us both. I toyed with getting the bongo sized cajon, but I don't really like the higher tones, so I figured that was out as well.

Instead, I trolled through Amazon just to see what was out there. And I discovered the drum kit that I really want. Here's a YouTube demo. This sucker is the ultimate in hand drums. And from what I can tell via the YouTube, the deeper tone is exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for. Plus, I could change the sound for different kinds of playing.

Best of all, this can be played much more quietly than the cajon. Don't get me wrong, I still think the cajon is incredible. When I'm filthy rich and build my dream house with the big-ass sound-proof music room, I'll definitely get a cajon to play as well. But for now, I should probably stay more reasonable ... :)

Seriously, anyone interested in buying my Wii Rock Band? I think I played it twice. Guitar, mic - everything except the drum kit is unused .... Hey, I gotta fund the purchase of the next drum somehow!

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:14 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | hobbies | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 5, 2009

Come Dance With the West Wind

As I left work yesterday to go "crack the whip" on a youngster who won't do his homework unless a "tutor" sits with him, I drove down a road I don't use often. It's a cracked concrete road, like many of the winter-ravaged roads around here. There are areas of it that I watch like a hawk, because not only do oddly shaped potholes crop up overnight, but long fissures gape open, sometimes three inches or more wide. I just got new tires and I sure don't want to replace any - or do worse damage.

So as I was driving down this road, leaving the "industrial" area (really just a bunch of business-to-business companies ... and AT&T), and as I'm reaching a minor retail area, we pull up to a stoplight. Gas stations, Goodwill, Walmart, Meijers, Applebees, a couple of banks, apartments. Just three minutes back down the road and there's trees and prairie and little traffic. Right here, it's bustling.

Playing in the thermals above the traffic were two hawks. Circling, dipping down - obviously just goofing around. Made me wish I had my good camera with me and that I'd had the time to pull over, set up and take some shots. Of course, if I'd had the time for that, they probably would have flown off anyway. Was definitely a joy to behold.

Which kind of made up for the fact (kind of) that the youngster I was supposed to tutor bailed on me. Apparently he's in big trouble and is now grounded. Gee, this relationship's off to a good start!

Then again, maybe I can tell him about the hawks ... and a time for everything ... including homework and basketball both.

(title is from a very short John Denver song I've always loved - "The Eagle and the Hawk")

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:47 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 25, 2009

Growing Older

I was not really the kind of kid who did a ton of sneaking around on my parents. I never snuck out of the house, even as a teen. One of my biggest rebellions was watching MASH once, peering around the corner of mom's room, when I was supposed to be taking a bath. I hurriedly ran back to the bathroom, ran a bit of water in the tub and dried it with my towel so my towel was damp. It was enough to fool my mother (sort of - she didn't really believe me, but she let me get away with it since she hadn't bothered to get up and get proof). But that was just the one time.

There's just one TV show I can remember pretty regularly sneaking out of my room to watch. Maude. It was difficult for me to get the exact right angle to actually see much of the show and to this day, I have a hard time believing that Mom and Dad would possibly have watched it very regularly. I, on the other hand, was completely enthralled with Bea Arthur's demeanor, her voice ... and her character's very outspoken views.

I would tiptoe out of my room and after just a few feet, the back hallway opened into the front entrance hall. This gave a clear view of the dining room and about half of the den. If I was lucky, neither parent would stand up to get anything from the fridge or otherwise move. If they moved, I was totally exposed and would be busted.

I admired how Maude said precisely what she thought and damn the consequences. I also thought she had the coolest voice in the universe.

I know I'm getting old now ... all the tv and movie folk that I grew up admiring so much are slowly passing away. I find it's much harder to deal with that than the fact that I get tired trying to help a friend move or find my joints creaking in the mornings.

I adored Bea Arthur my whole life. This world is a much poorer place now that she's left it. Requiescat in pace.

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:50 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 17, 2009

Punkd & Punked Again

So, I happily bought a lot of 43 vintage Star Wars guys from someone at work the other day. Also in the box (besides guns, accessories and such) were two Fisher Price Adventure People, which I also happen to hoarde collect. A couple of days later, the same guy I bought them from brought one more Adventure Person over to me. Now these guys are, honestly, worth next to nothing, but I had them when I was a kid and I love them. I was very tickled to add a couple more even though I do already have these particular guys. (Actually, I'm not sure there are any left that I don't have.) I put him on my desk shelf and grinned when I looked up. Nice deal.

And I come in to work one day this week and he's not sitting there. Instead, he's been covered in tin foil and placed on a Tech Deck (finger sized skateboard). He looks like a mummy in a sarcophagus. Frankly, I consider this awesome and haven't touched him. Every time I look up at that shelf, I giggle.

And then yesterday? Yesterday morning I walk in to this:

Packets of unopened mayo and mustard standing upright in my keyboard

I laughed, removed them and placed it all in the candy jar on a co-worker's desk. And then?

I ignored the whole thing for a few hours. I get there before everyone else, which means I leave before them - so they have plenty of time to devise new tricks to get me. I thought I'd do a very mild payback. I said nothing. Then, as we were chatting at one point, I looked over at the packets in the candy jar, squinted and said, "Is that GoGurt in the candy jar? WTH?"

There was some muttering that it was mayo, but no one rose to the bait.

Later on, the print manager came over and was chatting to a co-worker about what they did to my keyboard. I turned around and said, "What?"

"Oh, you know, how they had all those packets in your keyboard."

"Huh?" I put on my best blank, stupid expression, but I was sure they could see right through me. As they fell for it, my expression got better and I just kept playing dumb. They were all disappointed that apparently the cleaning crew had removed the packets. As they continued explaining it, I pulled out my phone, scrolled to the photo I'd taken that morning and said, "Oh! You mean this?"

Heh. I had them going, but I really couldn't keep it up much longer - I was ready to burst out laughing. Apparently, though, I freaked the print manager out by my deadpan expression throughout it. My other half says my deadpan is pretty scary.

LOL Was quite fun. You really know you're part of the group when they start finding new ways to tease you.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:26 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 12, 2009

Confession

I have never seen the Wizard of Oz all the way through. I've seen bits and pieces, but not the whole thing. Also, the only reason I've seen Sound of Music all the way through is because I was the lighting director for my high school's production of Sound of Music. The "real" version? Haven't seen it all the way through either.

In fact, I've only seen two musicals all the way through. Brigadoon, because it was Celtic and I was feeling stubborn. (I believe, however, that I walked out of the room during some huge dance number.) And Chicago. Because my other half forced me into the theatre to watch it. The deal was that I'd watch Chicago if she's go see 8Mile in the theatre with me. (Later I had to twist her arm so she'd watch the DVD ... she did not see it in the theatre.)

So yeah. I hate musicals. With a passion. They're long, they're boring and nothing happens. And when it looks like something IS finally going to happen? The actors freaking break out in a song and dance number.

Meh.

So there's my confession.

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:07 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 7, 2009

Just ... Gone

Spoiler Alert:
If you, like me, didn't watch the 4/6 episode of House Monday night, if, in fact, you have still not seen it, click away quickly. In fact, you should probably avoid the internet completely until you've watched it. That is, if you don't want the big plot twist revealed. Personally, I should have known not to even log in to Twitter today. *sigh*

Okay, so Los Interwebz are abuzz with last night's episode of House. People are talking about the "shocking" death of Dr. Lawrence Kutner. Of all of the various underlings, it seemed that Kutner was the most well-adjusted. He was a geek. He had a great sense of humour. He had some of House's crazy ideas without House's callous obsession with learning the answers no matter the emotional cost (or just about any other cost).

As it turns out, Kal Penn (who played Kutner) has been teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. He was working for Obama's campaign. He's pursuing a graduate certificate in international security from Stanford University. He decided he wanted to pursue political science more than he wanted to pursue acting - at least right now.

That's some of the background.

Now, Los Interwebz have gone bonkers about the way in which Kutner's character was "deleted" from the show.

You see, people insist that there was no warning that Kutner was going to commit suicide. The other characters on the show certainly seemed to think they'd had no clues. The viewers seem to agree and many are calling it a cheap dramatic punch.

I have to say, I very much disagree.

Before I explain I should say something about one of my favourite movies - it relates, trust me.

That movie is Joss Whedon's Serenity. The pilot in this movie is a geeky li'l boy and definitely one of the most beloved characters in the series (and the movie). You can guess where this is going, right? (Cuz if not, it's a spoiler ... ) When we're most of the way through the movie, but still have plenty of time left to go, he pulls off a beautiful maneuver and they all land safely. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief. And then a part of another ship bursts through and skewers him. Dead. Major character, major beloved character, taken away suddenly and seemingly without warning. We spent all that time getting invested in these characters and no one writing the show even considered putting a red shirt on the guy so we'd know not to get too accustomed to him. We had no real warning. That's just unfair.

Actually, it's very much like life, which is generally a theme Joss pursues in everything he does. He's not about dumbing down his shows to match some Hollywood misguided concept of what we'll understand or accept.

Now, back to House and Dr. Kutner.

The show has, in many ways, reminded me of some of Joss's shows. It's more "Hollywood" or "network" than realistic, to be sure. Still, the characters are a little more complex than many network shows. Motivations are a prime focus of the show and they're not always the motivations that seem easy. It's a show known for try some intriguing twists - and for tackling some serious issues around the topic of depression.

So. Does it surprise me that the tv show House killed off a major character by suicide? No. Does it surprise me that it was done suddenly and without much warning? No. Was I surprised that Kutner was the one who killed himself?

Yes ... and no.

Do I think there was no warning?

No.

Kutner was pretty well adjusted, yes. And he was a wonderfully fun character. But he was troubled and there was no doubt about that. He was adopted; his parents were shot in front of him when he was 6; he didn't have a steady love interest; he didn't really talk of friends. His ethics were quite questionable - after all he started a website capitalizing on House's reputation - and he talked about depression. In fact, to a certain extent, he defended suicide to Taub in a couple of episodes. Insisted that it was not necessarily an "idiotic" choice.

One writer states, it was "like the writers realized they hadn't done anything useful with Kutner in all this time and decided to make suicidal lemonade out of superfluous lemons." His fear, and I can understand it given the last season or so, is that there will be no overarching impact on the characters after Kutner's death. He says:

But based on how the show's been operating for a good long while now, I don't see his death having any real impact on House, and only slightly more of one on the others. And if I'm right, then Kutner was sacrifice for the sake of a Very Special Episode -- and for an incredibly creepy cross-promotional website (that I'm not going to bother linking to, or else it might help encourage future sites along the same line) -- and that's a waste of a good actor, if not a memorable character.

I tend to disagree with Mr. Sepinwall about this. We've seen some long term effects on all of the characters over the last year - certainly Wilson has been deeply affected by Amber's death. Taub is starting to show some long-term effects of many of his decisions. I think House is as well. He keeps trying new solutions to his pain ... and then gets scared and wants to get back to "normal." But I think something is breaking down in him ... he's beginning to "get" how he affects other people and he's beginning to not like that effect.

However, the show is still a mainstream network show, not an indie flick, and I certainly don't think they've done with any of the characters nearly as much as they should have. There's no overarching plot consistency as there is on the best shows television has offered (shows like Joan of Arcadia, Saving Grace, and even Dexter). Instead, there's a loose theme that runs through all of the episodes, but the focus seems to be the Scooby Doo mystery of the current patient's illness.

With the caliber of cast and writers, someone needs to let them do the show right ... to really explore the depth of these characters and not be so terribly constrained by one hour, once a week. Take a risk and break out of the mainstream and give us the depth we need.

Kutner's death could be a step in that direction. For now, it's a warning shot to all of us ... to remember that we need to be involved with those around us. Not just a surface engagement, but reaching out to get to know each other.

See, no one really reached out to know Kutner. He was the cute, silly geek. No one needed to really worry about him.

And that's how it often is in real life as well. Not everyone slashes a wrist and cries about it. Not everyone comes to work drunk just for the attention. Not everyone shoots up the American Civic Association.

Sometimes they just disappear. Without warning. Without a reason that we can fathom.

Just ... gone.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:36 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | Struggles | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 22, 2009

If It Weren't For Those Meddling Kids

Once upon a time, I went to elementary school. Well, actually, I went to three of them, but this story takes place at the third one.

Nice suburban neighborhood in a part of Dallas/Fort Worth with loads of creeks and trees, sat Butler Elementary school. It was this insanely progressive school, on the cutting edge. Or that's how they portrayed the school. The reality was it was one huge one-room building, real cutting-edge. o_O

The year after I began attending, my language arts teacher was well-aware that I was determined to be a cop. Actually, I wanted to be Joe Hardy, but that's another story completely. So, when a flasher was reported to be in the woods behind the school - the woods that butted up to our playground - things were a little tense. Add to that, the fact that the group of kids I hung with and I played at the very very outer edges of what was allowed and I think we made our teachers a little nervous. Plus, we played detective stories almost every day. (Except when we were managed to get the entire fourth grade to play Star Wars and made Leia and Darth Vader walk out of the interrogation room stumbling drunk ... yeah, we were ahhhh, interesting kids.)

We were told, rather explicitly I might add, to NOT go anywhere near the woods.

Umm, yeah. Like THAT was gonna work on us. We understood how policework was done. I mean, we weren't just some snot-nosed kids poking around and messing up evidence. (Please forgive the old sketch...one of these days I'll redraw just this portion as a separate sketch.)

Those Meddling Kids

Of course, we hung out at the edges of where we were supposed to be, all but bringing binoculars to school in order to scan the woods more effectively. If my parents had owned a pair of binoculars, I would have brought them to school, no doubt. As it was, I crept as close as I thought I dared and convinced our little group to be very observant of every adult male near the school.

And then I found him!

The parks department had a man with a leaf blower in the park next to the school. There was NEVER ever someone from the parks department there blowing leaves. We found the flasher!

So we ran up to the teachers, panting, out of breath and delivered our discovery. I'm fairly certain that at least some part of me wanted to go run up and bop the dude on the head and drag him in to the teachers, but we did settle for just telling.

The teachers rather pooh-poohed us. There, there, child, sure you have identified the ra--err, flasher.

Turns out we were being incredibly observant. Turns out the dude was not an employee of the parks department after all.

He was, however, a city employee.

Yes, we managed to ID the undercover cop.

Oops.

I bet that poor cop never lived down his Scooby Doo reputation after that.

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:40 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

January 27, 2009

Hell Hath Frozen Over

I have always been accused of having a sick sense of humour and I've never denied it. I am, undoubtedly, a bit warped. I've found Despair funny since my teaching days. In 2006, I discovered this little t-shirt place which made me guffaw at damn near every shirt. It's one of those places that does social commentary that hurts and it's only for those who have a warped sense of humour.

I mean, you can take "Arrest Black Babies Before They Become Criminals" one of two ways. Either the person saying such a thing is a freaking racist dumbass ... or they're making fun of the freaking racist dumbass idiots who think that statement isn't too far off the mark.

Of course, I found the "Don't Mess with Texas ... it's not nice to pick on retards" offensive (no, not really, just cringe-worthy) because there's just no truth to that one at all, and I got sick of some of the drinking/sex shirts. But that's just me, those aren't my taste.

"Slavery Gets Shit Done"
Pezbians (you have to see the image on that one)
"This T-Shirt is 100% Organic"
"You Can't Have Manslaughter Without Laughter"
"White Flour" (I still snort every time I see this one. No, not snort the white flour OR the white powder. Sheesh.)
"I Put the Syn in Synagogue"

These are just a few of the ones that make me snort, guffaw and chuckle.

Of course, skating the knife edge of satire means that some folks just don't get it. My mom, for example, would be highly offended (or think she should be offended - there's a difference) by most of the shirts at T-shirt Hell. Some folks are looking to be offended. Some are born without a funny bone ... and some just honestly don't see the black humour as funny.

Unsurprisingly, people who don't get it have to bitch about it. "We're not going to buy your shirts and we're gonna tell our friends not to buy your shirts." Uhh, fine. You're not the target audience anyway.

Apparently, though, some folks took their little whine-fest threats further. The owner of T-shirt Hell is sick of the idiots. Sunshine Megatron (really? Please tell me that's a screen name. Or that Sunshine's mom was the hippy from hell) has announced the closing of T-shirt Hell.

I'm done. I'm finished. I can't take the stupidity anymore, so I'm leaving and I'm taking my website with me. As of Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009, T-Shirt Hell will be no more.

Most of my longtime readers (I know, there's like one of you and even my best friend from high school quit reading this blog a long time ago), know that I'm gay. A queer. One of "those" people. My other half, in my opinion, often is a little too quick to be offended by something she thinks is directed at gay folk. But apparently, the straw that finally broke Sunshine Megatron's happy centered around a t-shirt that made me and my other half guffaw:

I just don't feel like dealing with idiots anymore. I'll give you an example of the kind of misguided morons we deal with on a regular basis at T-Shirt Hell. We released a new shirt a couple weeks ago that says "It's not gay if you beat them up afterwards". I will not explain the irony or the social commentary of the slogan because anyone with half a brain should be able to handle that on their own. Problem is, we've been besieged with emails from angry people complaining about the "fact" that the shirt is hate speech or that we're promoting gay bashing and should take it down immediately. ...
Now, I can't say I'm surprised we're getting hate mail from people who have nothing better to do than to start half-assed campaigns because of their lazy, just enough passion for an email, ideals towards a misguided cause. It happened when we did our first really controversial shirt, "The School Shootings Tour", it happened when we did our "What About All The Good Things Hitler Did" shirt, it happened when we did our "Arrest Black Babies Before They Become Criminals" shirt (boy did it happen then). It used to happen all the time when we did more social commentary and didn't give a fuck about what anyone thought and did shirts that did not leave anyone out. Unfortunately, as a concern for the safety of my employees, we don't push the envelope as much anymore...and I can't say I feel good about having caved in.

And so, if you want any shirts from T-shirt Hell, you've got a very limited time to get there.

And that makes me sad. The world needs more funny. Even warped, biting funny. Hell, especially warped, biting funny that reminds us what effed up critters we really are as a species.

Things like losing T-shirt Hell makes the economic downturn even more depressing.

The world just got a little colder.

(Full disclosure - yeah, that's an affiliate link (most of the time) when I'm talking about T-Shirt Hell. If you click thru any link except the one to Pezbians, and then you buy a shirt, I get $4. Well, I only get $4 per shirt if four more shirts get sold before they close. Yeah, I suck. In three years of being an affiliate, only 9 shirts sold through my links. That's $36. They pay out at $50. I sooooo suck.)

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:31 AM | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

January 18, 2009

Wrong Planet

I have often been accused of being an alien creature. Kids in elementary school often didn't quite know what to do with me, and, I admit, I really didn't quite know what to do with them either. I can remember the summer before oh, probably eighth or ninth grade when I spent time with my much beloved aunt and uncle who lived in Milwaukee.

I saw the old Brewer's logo for the first time. A baseball glove made up of an m and a b ... with the baseball the negative space inside the lowercase b. I was completely enthralled. (Check it out in desktop size here.)

I loved things that were made from ... well, from themselves. Milwaukee Brewers ... m b ... in the shape of a baseball glove and baseball. It just struck my symmetry bone, I guess.

This conversation all comes about because of the logo of the Minnesota Wild - a bear's head logo that's a nature scene (check it out here) ... the mouth of the bear is a river ... the eye is a star (yanno, their old hockey team was the Stars). These kinds of double meaning logos just utterly enthrall me.

And all of this reminds me that not everyone is fascinated with what I'm fascinated with. I no longer always think that makes me an alien ... but this particular instance I'm about to relate ... well, it certainly made the sales clerk think I was at least "special."

Mom and I were in some stupid girly store that I wanted to leave as quickly as possible. High end this and that which I cared nothing about. We go over to the sales counter to check out and there's a little display of girly jewelry. Including necklaces similar to this:

Gold Leaf Necklace from Dreaming Dragonflies dot com

I instantly began giggling like a mad thing. I could barely stand upright. Finally, I managed to weakly whisper, "Gold leaf" and then immediately collapsed in a fit of guffaws the likes of which the poor sales lady had apparently never seen before.

I, on the other hand, could not only not stop laughing, I could not understand why everyone who saw a necklace representing a gold leaf and which was made out of something similar to gold leaf (think old leather books embossed in gold - that stuff was called gold leaf), I could not understand why everyone who saw that necklace did not see the humour inherent in it.

My mother, luckily, chose that moment to listen and understand me. She smiled and tried to explain to the saleslady that I was laughing because the gold leaf was made of gold leaf, but the sales clerk just gave mom that "oh you poor thing having to deal with a special child" look. Which both offended me and made me laugh harder.

Oh my, but I was rather a child from another planet. Good thing I've always enjoyed being that way.

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:03 PM | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 7, 2008

Time Capsule

I have always had a love for "old things." If I found an ad, a magazine, a newspaper clipping, radio ... whatever ... that was "old," I was in heaven. I poured over photo albums, fascinated by the changes in clothes or hair or even body types. I noticed the "old-timey" fonts well before I could name them. The way that little curlicues or plain lines were added to newspapers or ads.

So when our church decided to build a family bathroom that was accessible and we pulled out the "cornerstone" which held the church's time capsule, I knew I wanted to take pictures and scans of as much stuff as possible. Unfortunately, I completely forgot about it last weekend - the holiday and some various "real life" issues kind of distracted me. Then I got sick this week and didn't go over Saturday ... so today after service, I had my computer, scanner and camera with me and proceeded into a back room with all the stuff that had been inside the time capsule.

The time capsule is a copper box which was welded shut and placed in the A.D. 1964 cement block near the front door. Inside were newspapers from 1914 and 1963 ... photos ... bulletins ... magazines ... meeting notes ... all sorts of stuff.

One of my favourites, though, was a little envelope with a small card inside ... marked Ladies Aid 1924 ... and 3 pennies: 1902, 1916 and 1963. Of course I scanned the pennies!

1902 Indian Head Penny

One of my other favourite things, though, I admit it. I love old marketing things. Whether it's an ad or packaging, I'm just fascinated. This was one of my favourites from a directory:

Elebel Brothers Pianos

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:36 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 3, 2008

This is Whack, Yo

So, because I'm just essentially a very irreverent person who enjoys a sick sense of humour just a little too much ... and probably because I went to high school with one of these dudes (well, two of them, but I only knew one) ... I bring you ...

Whack A Santa

This was an early Flash project for me ... one of these days I keep intending to go back and clean up the graphics a bit.

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:11 AM | Design | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

November 29, 2008

There's Just No Explaining Comfort Food

With most of my readers stuffed to the gills with turkey these past few days, I thought I'd share one of my most favourite recipes ever - one that does NOT include any turkey of any type.

Having grown up primarily in Texas, chili was actually not one of my favourite meals because I was not fond of my mother's midwestern version of the dish. She used stewed tomatoes, which many folks use, but I happen to hate. In addition, there was no heat to any of mom's cooking, and I have to admit, I love the heat. Her chili was really more of an odd hamburger and tomato soup to me.

And then dad brought home some Wolf Brand Chili.

Yeah, I know. It looks a lot like dog food. But the truth of the matter was it was a better style of chili for me. It wasn't long after this discovery that I also discovered a little side dish at Sonic: Frito Pie.

Now, at Sonic, they took one of those little red and white paper "baskets" that they served french fries in, they sprinkled some Fritos in there, spooned some good chili over the top and then decked it off with shredded cheese and some onions.

Absolute heaven to me.

Today, sadly, Sonic has totally screwed up their Frito Pie and turned it into a freaking WRAP! As if it needed to be wrapped up in a tortilla. WTF?

Anyhow, some midwesterners (and others) know this as a "walking taco" ... made in a single serving Frito bag instead of in a little paper basket.

Out of curiosity and helpfulness, I decided to look up an official Frito Pie recipe to share with my Twitter buddies down in NOLA. (That's New Orleans, Lousiana ... but I just like saying NOLA, so that's what I type now.)

The best article talks about the start of Fritos ... a story I found pretty interesting. I don't know what the secret is to Fritos over other similar corn chips, but there's a very distinct difference - and when making a Frito Pie, I guarantee you'll notice a difference even if you can't tell the typical corn chip from the Frito under normal situations.

Fritos were originally "invented" in the 1930s, in San Antonio. Eventually they were moved up to Dallas.

Without further ado, here's the best "recipe" for Frito Pie ... found at TexasCooking.com: (with of course, my variations)

  • most of a bag of Fritos corn chips
  • half a chopped red onion
  • 1 package shredded cheese - I prefer the Mexican blend with queso blanco y asadero cheeses
  • 1 can of Hormel hot chili with no beans
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Pour about half the bag into a baking dish. Sprinkle about half the cheese and about half the onions in next. Dump in the chili and top off with more cheese and onions.

Bake for 15 or 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Serve hot.

Now here's the odd thing. (I mean if you don't think Frito Pie is odd enough.) If you do the same thing but make it in the microwave? It's not as filling nor as good. I do NOT understand how it is more filling if you bake it instead, but I no longer make this in the microwave after discovering the baked version. I can fairly easily polish this meal off on my own if I microwave it. (My other half thinks this is one of the most disgusting concoctions ever - even worse than guacamole.) But, if I bake it, I can barely eat a quarter of it.

So, there you have it. One of my favourite comfort foods.

(And, Sonic, if you're reading this ... ditch the damned Frito Pie wrap and bring it back the way it's supposed to be!)

Posted by Red Monkey at 12:24 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

October 31, 2008

No Real Than You Are

Once again, Ego Leonard has struck. Last August, some folks in the Netherlands discovered a 2.5 meter giant LEGO man washed ashore at Zandvoort beach. Later, the LEGO dude with "No Real Than You Are" emblazoned on his chest showed up at Dance Valley.

This time around, another giant (this one 6 foot) LEGO man with the same "No Real Than You Are" emblazoned on his chest has washed ashore on a beach in Brighton, England.

What I wanna know is ... why? I've yet to see anything on the point of the giant LEGO men and, in fact, why is this not some kind of copyright infringement - I suppose it's because Ego Leonard has only made a couple of them.

But why? What's the point of giant LEGO men?

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:44 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

September 12, 2008

But Officer, We're Gonna Be Late for SCHOOL!

It's true.

A 17 year old female student in the Crown Point school system (around the Merrillville, Indiana area) was just DESPERATE to get to school Wednesday morning.

At 6:30 a.m.

You see, Tuesday night was a big deal but Wednesday morning was important too. So ... we'll call her Natalie ... and her three male buddies had to go out Tuesday night and blow off some steam. And, of course, get drunk off their arses. Okay, so I don't know they got drunk off their arses, but considering that they were still testing positive for alcohol at 6:30 a.m., I feel reasonably certain that there was some overindulgence going on.

So, Natalie decides to rush everyone home so that they can all get ready to go to school. School is important you know.

She was clocked at 117 miles an hour.

So she could get to school on time.

And the sad thing is, I can somehow just feel that intoxicated "but we HAVE to be at school on time" obsession and panic. I can even just hear young Miss Natalie trying to explain to the ociffer that they were going to be LATE and they couldn't be LATE, I mean, this is SCHOOL and we're gonna get in trouble if we're LATE.

Inebriated and driving 117 miles an hour.

At 17 years of age.

And university presidents want to lower the drinking age.

Great googly moogly WHAT are they thinking??

The problem with the drinking age is not that it's 21. It's not that it's not 18.

The problem is a culture of over-indulgence and a refusal to comprehend moderation in anything. I mean, do we really need to ban fast food? No. We need to learn moderation - it's great to pick up a fast meal every once in a while. It won't destroy your body if you do it every once in a while.

But as a culture, that's not really how we do things. We're an all or nothing, zero tolerance policy, laissez-faire kinda culture.

There is something to the fact that cultures which don't demonize the rum have fewer young people who go hog-wild with firewater in college and binge drink. But if we bump it down to 18, we're just pushing the problem down a few years, not getting rid of the problem.

Next thing you know, we'll be teaching junior high classes in flavoured vodka and rum appreciation - just to make sure that the kiddies can handle their liquor quicker than they can now.

And you thought teaching kids about sex was a naughty thing for a school to do!

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:18 AM | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 22, 2008

WaHOOOOoooooo

I am now cleared to drive (which is good, since I've done it twice already) and better still, walk! I'm to put 50% weight on the leg and use either crutches or a walker, but I can finally ditch the 'chair and use my leg!

My left leg is so happy to not be the sole weight bearer anymore.

Now I'm just waiting for the left hip to crumble into dust. At least, it feels like that's a possibility.

Turns out the doc said it would be four months before I'd be back to relative normality in the right leg - not "no weight at all" for four months. WOOHOO! Over the next 6-8 weeks, I'll be able to put a little more weight on the leg and about the time of my cousin's wedding at the beginning of October, I'll be able to walk without the walker. (I think.)

Now I'm ready to go back to New Mexico, head out to Largo and Crow canyons, Chaco ... Shiprock ... I have picture-taking to catch up on! (And of course, can't afford to get back out there now, dammit.)

At any rate, I'm a happy camper now.

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:03 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 16, 2008

I'd Like to Make a Donation

Calvin wants to make a donation of snot

Surely someone needs some of the mucous my body excretes. I mean, there must be a point to this besides my body hates me, right? Right? I mean, when you have so much that it comes out your freaking EYES, there's gotta be a higher purpose, right? RIGHT?

And people wonder why I insist that my body hates me.

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:04 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 11, 2008

The Killing Joke

So, I finally got around to watching Dark Knight this weekend. I read Batman comics from about the late '80s until the early '00s and I enjoyed them immensely. As a result, I avoided most of the Batman movies ... I had the interpretation of the character I liked from the comics. Of course, the fact that I'm actually a Tim Drake Robin fan and Dick Grayson Nightwing fan also meant the movies just weren't for me. I did see Batman and Robin and Batman Forever - two utterly wretched movies despite the fact that I like Chris O'Donnell quite a bit. The writing was blah and the directing was wretched - didn't leave much for the actors to interpret.

So, it took quite a while before I watched most of Batman Begins on cable. Interesting, but not as compelling as the comics. But Dark Knight looked intriguing, particularly the spin we were hearing about the Joker's character. I love the Joker in the comics and in Batman: The Animated Series - a lunatic, yes, but one whose goal is simply to play with Batsy as long as possible. While many of the other Batman villains would exist in one way or another as criminals, the Joker's whole purpose is to "play" with his Batsy.

So, when I went to see Dark Knight this weekend, it was with pretty high hopes but a fair amount of trepidation as well.

I really liked it. I think it was too long - or maybe I drank too much lemonade and had to pee for 2/3 of the movie which messed with my sense of time. I liked the characterization of everyone - the bit with the Scarecrow was unnecessary and could have - probably should have - been cut.

But the Joker? It was truly beautiful. Psychotic, crazy ... and yet there was always a purpose to him - to play with Batsy. The characterization was more complex than the Nicholson version - not because Nicholson did it "wrong," but because the writing in Dark Knight actually captured the Joker's personality from the comics. And, watching the rise of Two-Face was a beautiful touch.

There's loads of buzz over whether or not to award Heath Ledger a posthumous Oscar for his work in Dark Knight. I'm not sure I would go that far. It's an excellent portrayal and it's beautifully done. But to give it to him just because he died? I don't think so. It was a good performance and a great interpretation - but I'm not sure it was really an Oscar-winning performance.

Many people are also prattling on about how no one will be able to play the Joker any time soon because Ledger nailed it so well. I agree that Ledger nailed it and I think this is easily my favourite screen interpretation of the Joker - even better than Batman: The Animated Series because it is much darker than the cartoon was allowed to be. But I think there is one other actor who can take the quirky, dark and wonderful interpretation that Ledger created and also make it work - Johnny Depp. The odd head movements, the flicking of the tongue periodically - these are all hallmarks of some of Depp's more quirky work. In some ways, it's almost as if Ledger was playing Depp playing the Joker.

Definitely worth seeing it in the theatre. Shoot, I might even buy this one on DVD and I don't think I own any Batsy movies. My one gripe is Christian Bale's Batman voice. HIDEOUS. Seriously, WTF? We get that Bruce Wayne needs to disguise his voice. For God's sake, build a voice changer into the suit and do the voice through voiceover if you have to. Or do what Kevin Conroy did for Batman: The Animated Series. Hell, my voice hurt every time Batman-Bale opened his mouth. It was ridiculous.

Anyhow, if you're not sure about seeing this flick and you're a comic book fan, I think it's worth seeing. If you're not a comic book fan, I think the interpretation of the Joker will be something new for you and ultimately much more true than the Hollywood bilge that's been shown before.

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:03 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

July 18, 2008

BFF

As I was watching the season premiere of Saving Grace the other day, I realized I was jealous of Grace. Not for Earl, who let's face it is a pain in the ass; not for her job - although I wanted to be a cop for much of my growing up - not for the reckless abandonment in how she lives her life.

As far as I can tell, Grace's character grew up in Oklahoma City - a town I lived in briefly as well and spent many summers there as my mom's parents lived there for much of my growing up. I envy Grace's roots and her ability to have a childhood friendship mature into that thing I find so very rare: an adult "BFF."

Since we moved so very frequently when I was a child, I really never felt rooted to one place. I suppose that since we lived in Austin the longest during my early childhood, that's why I feel the most connected to that area. Even though my "BFF" was due to move to Longmont, Colorado, within a few weeks of our moving to Arlington, I was devastated by having to move once again and losing the friendships I'd made.

Growing up Catholic in Texas - as I'm sure Grace felt in Oklahoma - was something that made you a bit of an outsider. You knew who all the other Catholic kids were in your class because you knew each other from Wednesday night CCD classes.

That was one strike against me.

Then, I made friends with Tracy and Jill (and then Annette and Jenny), which was wonderful while it lasted - but unfortunately, the self-appointed leader of the group apparently decided I was a threat and tried to convince much of the school that I was crazy and forbid other kids to have anything to do with me. Of course, she didn't have nearly as much power as she thought she did ... but most of the kids I knew at that time were at least influenced by her. It was ages before I found new friends. By that point, it was 6th grade and we were all going to different junior highs the next year. And just as I settled in to some new friendships? I was shuttled off to the other junior high and started over again.

Today, I live some 800 miles from Arlington and I keep in touch digitally with only a couple of friends from back in the day. And all of that moving - whether it was moving home or changing schools - didn't make it easier for me to make friends - it made me quieter and more reserved with my friendships.

Until the internet.

Don't get me wrong, there is still no childhood BFF lurking on Los Interwebz for me. But back in 1993 or so, I discovered a Listserv email list out of Missouri called the Crewtons, a list for Creative Writing types. From that list, a small subset of us became friends. We called ourselves the Banshees: Sara and Annie/Maureen out on the left coast. Suz from Missouri. Luann from Illinois. Tamara from Georgia. Dawn on the east coast. We chatted about everything for about ten years. And then, our little group just faded apart. Luann lost her internet access, and her computer. Annie's world more or less collapsed on her. Suz was struggling with several things - Tamara was getting well and truly established in her life and was having issues with family. Dawn faded out and then back in a few times.

Essentially, everyone became consumed by "real life" and gradually eased away from their computer friends.

When I started blogging back in 2005, I stumbled across BlogExplosion and made friends in the shoutbox there. It was a lot of fun and I made a few really good friends. We kept in contact for quite a while after we all tired of BlogExplosion. The same thing happened when we moved to BlogMad. And then BlogCatalog.

And just as with the Banshees, people keep dropping away because their "real life" demands it in some way. The guys I used to work with at my last job - we kept in touch via IM for a while. Today, one never really logs in, one rarely talks - the third and I still have good talks.

And it occurred to me as I was watching Saving Grace, that I am tired of moving from online community to online community as we moved from state to state as a kid. I am tired of watching tiny online groups of friends dissipate like so much morning fog, insubstantial in the light of day despite how real and solid it felt in the night.

You see, the problem for me might be a symptom of ADHD or perhaps how I was raised or perhaps Asperger's. But when I can deal with only text on the screen, the interactions make more sense to me. If we add in both tone of voice and body language - I can't figure out intent any more. Phone conversations often drive me completely batty. But just one set of input - words - and I feel like I "get it." So the dearth of staying power for many online friendships is a source of frustration for me.

All friendship is fleeting and subject to a plethora of ups and downs, I know. But there's something particularly poignant to me about watching Grace and Rhetta's friendship.

How many of you have a BFF, childhood or not? A few close friends? A slew of people you talk to?

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:50 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 19, 2008

Just a Sprain

x-ray of broken bone with plates and screws

To the left of each red line is a break. I can't see the break on the smaller bone for all the hardware that's in there, but there's at least one if not two on that bone as well.

And I thought this mess was just a sprain ....

Posted by Red Monkey at 12:58 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 15, 2008

Done Right

When I was born in 1968, my mother thought she was getting a nice, docile Shirley Temple child. A daughter she could bond with, could dress up, teach to dance and sew and sing and be a delicate flower of baby-woman-hood.

Instead, she got a wild li'l red monkey baby, whose first words were practically, "I can do it myself."

In short, we were at odds from day one.

We fought about the length of my hair - my scalp is sensitive and I had very fine, very straight, very fly-away hair. My mom insisted on combing my hair with a very very fine tooth plastic comb. This meant screaming, crying rebellion every day.

We fought about appropriate toys. I wanted airplanes and cars and trucks and six-shooters and drums. And a banjo, but that's something of a digression.
Mom wanted me to have pretty dollies and Barbies and play dress-up princess.

We fought about clothes. I preferred to live in jeans and t-shirts. Mom wanted me in if not frilly dresses, at least cute li'l jumpers. I came home in tears on more than one occasion in kindergarten because some little boy tried to look up my jumper whilst we were on the jungle gym or slide or swings or what have you. Mom's solution was to not do those things in a jumper - my solution was not to wear jumpers.

The problem was more in the time period than anything else. Parents at that time had been led to believe that children could be told this is how things will be, and so mote it be. At the same time, however, it was the time of "Free to Be You and Me" - where kids were encouraged to be themselves.

I also grew up with two very creative parents. My father played honky tonk piano for hours, completely losing himself in the music he generated. I never heard him play anything other than "his" song, but it was an endlessly mutating and developing creation.

Mom also played piano, although she played less frequently and always played from sheet music - not because of any lack of skill or desire, but, I think, because she feared doing it "wrong." And, in addition to her piano playing, my first memories of her are of her painting and drawing and sketching. Whether it was Toll painting some wooden box or serving tray or actually doing a pastel portrait or acrylics on canvas, Mom was always creating something new.

But like with her piano playing, Mom seemed scared of somehow "doing it wrong." She laboured over every detail, often stressing herself beyond belief to get every detail exactly "right." And, she was far too hard on herself when a shadow wasn't perfect or some tiny detail was out of alignment just the slightest bit. I would watch her scrape paint off, in tears, sure that this was another example of her failure as a human being. And I would watch her, once she was finally done - put herself and her work down. I didn't get it. Her stuff looked easily as good as things I saw in the stores.

I think it was sixth grade when I took a serious interest in drawing myself. I was interested in cartooning, in comic strips, and in technical drawing. I enjoyed drawing fictional maps and would spend days creating new lands. In social studies, we had an assignment which included drawing - and I discovered a latent talent for drawing flintlock rifles ... and then more modern rifles ... swords ... and airplanes. (I have no recollection where that jump came in except I loved F-15 and F-16 planes.)

So that summer, when told I needed to take a summer enrichment class, I picked a class on drawing. I had a blast with it - it was mostly just a scheduled time to draw with the teacher critiquing us gently and there was little actual teaching of technique or theories of perspective or something along those lines. The class went along swimmingly for quite some time.

And then we had to do a still life.

I set up an apple on the kitchen table and scrawled something. Erased, re-drew. I hated it and I couldn't get the chiaroscuro to make the apple look 3d instead of flat. I finally got it "done enough."

Mom looked over my shoulder. I don't remember our exchange, but the gist was "You'll sit here and re-do it until you get it 'right.'" I sat there for what felt like weeks, and I think I switched from pencils to pastels or pastels to pencils. Eventually after much temper tantruming and fussing, I had something that did resemble a decent still life of an apple.

But the shine had gone off of it. I didn't see it as an exercise in improving my drawing eye. I didn't see it as a learning experience in shading or use of colour. Drawing had become just another thing that I didn't do well enough to please my mom ... and so I stopped sharing that with her ... and eventually decided that I simply could not draw since it didn't come easily and perfect the first time I attempted something ....

Instead, I turned to writing stories and novels - and simply didn't share most of those with my mother. The bulk of them involved children in peril from kidnappers or evil parents - not things Mom would actually approve of.

I doodled now and again ... I reveled in Chaim Potok's My Name Is Asher Lev - kind of the Jewish Portrait of the Artist as He Develops. But I had stopped drawing "seriously."

Then, in the mid-90s, I discovered this nifty thing called the world wide web. For ten years, I learned digital art in the form of creating website designs with Fireworks and then Photoshop. And I re-gained my interest in art and creating imagery.

But I still insisted that I couldn't draw.

Then, I took a job as a copy writer who was to also help with web design at a large e-commerce company. I worked with a gentleman who'd had his own design company at one point ... and another with a degree in graphic design. And as I observed them working, I realized something. The skills I had honed over the last ten years were comparable to theirs. I didn't have all the techniques nor all the same knowledge and theory - but I had the skills and the instincts. I started reading theory and observing more - asking more questions, learning more programs, growing more confident.

And then I picked up pencils again.

I'm still more confident with my digital art than my sketching, but both have improved dramatically over the years. There is no doubt that web design is more forte, at least for now, but my ability to create brochures, flyers, layout manuals, create signage, all of that has suddenly exploded - because I stopped being afraid about how to do it "right" and began studying theory, studying good design and began trusting my self.

I'm tickled to be in the process of designing a tattoo for a friend over at Cre8Buzz. I started out sketching it by hand until I had the design the way I liked it - and then I transferred the design to the computer to clean it up. I'm beyond flattered that she likes the design so far.

Tomorrow, I'll take a copy or two of the design to the hospital with me so I can continue to tinker with it whilst I wait three freaking hours for them to prep me for surgery on my leg. (Will someone explain to me WHY I need to be at the hospital at 6:30 a.m. for a 9:30 a.m. procedure???) Over the last couple of years, I've taken artwork to the hospital to keep me busy whilst my other half had surgery ... it's a wonderful way for me to focus on something other than the stress at hand.

Like my mother, I do still worry about doing my art "right" ... but I think of that a lot less nowadays than I used to. Instead, I'm spending time looking at what other artists do "wrong" which actually gives them their own distinct style - and then working on my own style.

Today, if I sit down to draw a still life, I'm still not going to enjoy it. It's not the type of art that I really enjoy. But today if I sit down to draw an apple, it's because I know that really concentrating on capturing the form and essence of an apple will help hone my eye and my hands and that I'll apply those skills to my own way of doing things.

Meanwhile, I have to laugh at all the times I told my students who were afraid they were not writers simply because the first draft of their essays were not perfect ... no one is perfect on the first draft. There isn't a writer today who completes a short story or novel or academic essay or even speech writing in a single draft. What makes you a writer - or an artist - is a passion for what you do so that you are willing and wanting to do it over until you get it as close to that picture in your mind as you possibly can.

I get that now. There's no way to do it "right." There's just the way you enjoy doing it.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:06 PM | Design | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 12, 2008

Stubborn? Who, Me?

As many of you know, I have my own set of priorities. I mean, that's kind of a stupid statement, because we all have our own priorities - but mine are often something of a mystery to other people.

Literally the first thing I thought of when I fell and "sprained" my ankle last week was, "I better be able to go on this trip with a sprained ankle. It better be healed by then." And when I found out it was broken, I hoped I wouldn't need surgery - not because it's expensive to have surgery and I have no health insurance and no job (although those things also crossed my mind), but because I didn't want to miss this trip.

So, Monday I had a CT scan done of my leg/ankle and today I went back to see the orthopaedic specialist to see if surgery was definitely in the cards as well as when that might be.

Frankly, I assumed we'd have to do surgery. If I just think of the way I broke my bones in terms of wood, I can't imagine any way to put that particular kind of diagonal and spiral brokedness back together short of something like plates and pins. Well, assuming that wood would, you know, grow back together. But you get my point. Mechanically speaking, I don't see how you could fix something like that strongly enough without a reinforcement of some sort.

So, Doc pours over the CT images - and for once in my life, I was not intensely curious. When I broke my arm as a kid, my little toe in college, all the little surgeries for my Hodgkin's and then the bone marrow transplant, I wanted to watch, to see, to know every gory detail.

Apparently, I have found my limit.

I really don't wanna know much of anything about this leg except how to take care of it and make it better. I don't want to see how the bone spiraled in its break. I got one look of a diagonal-looking shear, and that's all I wanna know.

So, Doc pours over the images, I stare at the ceiling and he walks up to me and says, "I wanted to find a way to do this without surgery for you, but ... I just don't see a way." He then proceeded to "talk me into" getting surgery. Pfft, I'd already decided that was the best course of action. No persuasion necessary.

"We wanna fix this right," he said, putting his hand on my shoulder.

"Yes, I really do. I assumed we'd do surgery. I don't want to mess around with this; I'm too active to take a chance."

And then he sat down on his little stool and hammered out details, like he will be using Smith & Nephew. I don't know what he's going to be using from Smith & Nephew other than parts, but that's okay. I don't really need to know.

He walked up to explain there'd be two incisions ... and then I told him that I had a really important question to ask him. I told him I was pretty sure he'd say no (so he said no right then - I love this guy - damn smartass lol ), but that this was really important to me and I would feel better if I could just ask/explain the whole thing.

"We've been planning a mission trip to the Navajo reservation in New Mexico for over a year now and I was wondering if there's any way I can still go - if there's room in the van for me to keep my leg elevated the whole time. We leave next Thursday and that day will be a short ride, but Friday and Saturday will be all day drives."

This tumbled out in a rush. I was somewhat surprised to hear my voice thicken, as I don't cry, but then, this trip means the world to me.

I expected him to tell me that I was crazy. That my priorities were all screwed up. Three days in a car just a couple of days after surgery? Freaking lunatic!

He just blinked and said, "I don't see any reason why not, as long as you keep it elevated."

I about fell over.

"Let's see, we'll do surgery Monday or Tuesday, you'll probably be in overnight. Maybe not, but probably. Yeah, I don't see why you can't leave on Thursday."

WAAAAAAAAAAAA HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Now the only "if" left is to make sure that the swelling in my ankle goes down enough that they can do the surgery. If it's too swollen Monday morning, they won't be able to close the skin back up after they operate. So I'm continuing the 45 degree angle constant elevation and adding additional sessions with ice.

I can't wait!

Of course, almost everyone else going on the trip is just floored. You just broke your leg so badly you need surgery and all you can think about is going on this trip???

You betcha, dude. You betcha.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:43 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 7, 2008

Bored Already

First, thank goodness for the wireless keyboard, cuz otherwise I'm not sure I'd be on the laptop much as a 17" laptop just doesn't balance super-well when trying to keep one leg elevated by 45 degrees.

Secondly? This is gonna be a LONG freaking four month recovery. I'm already bored out of my mind and wanting to rearrange the furniture so I can watch TV and be on the computer. Right now, if the laptop is open, the TV screen is blocked.

*sigh*

My attention span is back to normal now - well, normal for me anyway. This is good because it means I can read - but it's bad because I already finished all the books on the ground floor. My poor other half is going to have to go downstairs and pick up a couple of my monsterously thick books to keep me busy for a little while.

I've got crutches to get from the futon to the bathroom. And to get to the kitchen - plus I had the other half grab a small camping stuff bag that I can loop my hand through and carry an unopened pop can from the kitchen to the futon again.

Yes, the leg is elevated at as close to the doctor mandated 45 degrees as we can get it with a nice stack of pillows. Yes, I'm staying on the futon 90% of the day, resting. I feel bad for the fact that my other half now has to do absolutely everything herself for most of the next four months.

The dogs are beside themselves trying to take care of me - it's funny to watch them.

Honestly, though, this entire episode is just about as surreal as they come. I periodically look down and just marvel - I broke my leg. It's just ... beyond fathoming. Maybe if I'd been screwing around on my skateboard, I'd believe it more easily. But to do this on the way to feeding the animals? Just ... wow.

All right, apparently it's time for a little nap.

Posted by Red Monkey at 12:01 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 6, 2008

Red Monkey Special

I rarely do things by halves. In junior high and high school, I didn't get a normal eczema or crazy zit issues. Nope, I got some weird-arse rash that split the side of my hand open every time I lifted something with my left hand. And my fingertips? No fingerprints as they were solid rash.

Never did find out what that was. Just another Red Monkey special.

I don't usually get a heat rash. Nope, I get a cold rash. Yes, that's right, I am allergic to the cold. And "cold" is a relative term. It might be 65 degrees and I'll get a cold rash (hives - it looks like hives).

Back in the late 90s, I kept going to the doctor with a rash and these weird little infections, fevers. Doctor kept "pooh-poohing" me. At that time, I had a low-paying adjunct job and no health insurance. The doctor wanted to run, get this, an AIDS test just because I'm gay. Never mind I'm in one of the lowest risk groups. I finally told him he could, but that wasn't the issue. He never did even draw blood for a CBC.

Turns out I had Hodgkin's - a lymphoma cancer. Only about 7500 new cases a year. Another Red Monkey special.

So, Wednesday night around 6 p.m., I went out to the garage to get the animal food for the dogs and the cats. Apparently, I missed a step. There's only two steps there. But when my partner came to ask me what the heck was the hold-up because the cats were starting to riot - I was sitting on the top step, rocking back and forth.

I thought I'd sprained the heck out of my right ankle, so we didn't go to the doctor until nearly noon the next day.

Nope. I pulled another Red Monkey special.

I spiral-fractured both freaking bones down near the ankle.

CT scan is on Monday. Surgery consult is on Thursday. Surgery sometime the week after that, I guess.

No job. No health insurance. I knew I should have immigrated to Canada.

And the kicker? I was going to go on a mission trip to one of my favourite places in the world - the trip is due to start June 19. Out to my beloved Navajo lands. Won't be making that trip now.

Oh, and the recovery time after surgery is about 4 months.

Yep, a Red Monkey special all right.

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:47 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 4, 2008

People Are Really Really Insane

Los Interwebz is a great invention. I love it. You find all sorts of cool information.

But you also are exposed to the sheer insanity of humanity.

Seriously.

So in the town in which I sadly live (and you can diagram that section of the sentence to make sadly refer to me or to the town, take your pick) - there was an accident on Monday. Apparently two cars collided - pretty much right in front of a cop. The "offending" car (for lack of a better word), suddenly accelerated into the parking lot of the apartment complex near where the wreck took place, down a hill and into the St. Joseph River (which has a NASTY undertow and crazy currents - it's not a river you want to be in). The article, should you be interested in such things (or, should you wish to verify the veracity of the story I'm about to impart below) is here.

That in and of itself is a news story, no doubt. And I hope everyone who was in the car - and the other car that was hit - is okay.

But the story I want to share is just beginning ...

Our local online news affiliates allow comments on their news stories. Sometimes this is a good thing as you get some details from friends and family that you might not have otherwise known.

But the rest of the time, you get to see the sheer insanity of the people who live near you. What I'm about to repeat are the real comments from this story. I've left out some of the comments which don't apply to this "subplot" of comments, but I've not edited any of the following in any way.

Monday, Jun 2 at 4:19 PM Fledge wrote ... This person must have been going at quite a speed to have gone that far after a collision. Probably another drugged up lowlife looking for a cheap thrill. Well, I sure hope he finds one in the County lockup! Of course, if it turns out it's another person who was sadly taken ill while driving then, well ...my bad, glad they're ok. But probably, its gonna be another DUI...Drivin Uh Idiot! As a practicing demoncologist, I hope this person gets the help they need to fight their inner torment.
Monday, Jun 2 at 5:11 PM Sue wrote ... Fledge, as an active proctowiccan, I'm not entirely clear how this applies to demoncology. Could you clarify?
Monday, Jun 2 at 5:46 PM Joe wrote ...Wow Fledge...Just Wow. you might consider changing your dosage.
Monday, Jun 2 at 7:19 PM Steve wrote ... There's no such thing as proctowicca! I know, I looked it up on wikipedia, and i am a bit of a wikipediphile!
Monday, Jun 2 at 8:10 PM Susse wrote ... What Dr. Fledge is saying is that the person in question is a consumate victim, almost to the point of being masochistic. My ex-wife was like that.
9:12 AM Hey Fledge wrote ... I hope you get the help you need too. Look in the Bible....
9:49 AM Fledge wrote ... Haters, all of you. I just said what I thought. I'm glad this guy is ok and the police did a great job. As for those knocking my faith, you are entitled to your own beliefs, no matter how wrong they may be, as long as you are happy. But, the day you feel your soul being ousted from your body by a seething entity of vile black hatred, you'll wish you had listened. Have a great day!
11:47 AM Marcus wrote ... Do not make light of the principalities. You probably feel quite witty, but it's just a tool of Lucifer to weaken your resistance to his vile manipulations. You, Fledge, are at the greatest risk of losing your soul to the fires of hades. Bode well. Bode often.
6:58 PM Clarification needed here lol but seriously people wrote ... Demoncologist is that a OB DR for demons? eww hate to deliver those ugly babies...and what is a proctowiccian anything like proctologist? a wiccian specializing in proctology? hum kinda yucky

Yeah. This is the town in which I live. Chock full of demoncologists, proctowiccans, proctowiccians and people who make light of the principalities.

The one-liners in this exchange simply boggle the mind. "My ex-wife was like that." ... "I know, I looked it up on wikipedia, and i am a bit of a wikipediphile!"

No wonder I can't find a job here ....

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:18 AM | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 30, 2008

The Triumvirate

As a kid, I rarely paid much attention to what time or channel my favourite shows were on. The local paper's TV guide was often useless for afternoon shows because the little independent stations which played the best stuff often changed their line-ups on the fly.

But the first choice was always, always, always The Carol Burnett show, whatever the incarnation. To be perfectly honest, most of my role models as a kid happened to be male. I think Carol Burnett was perhaps the only female role model I had and I adored her even more for that. She was so genuine when she walked out on the stage and started taking questions from the audience. How I longed to be in the audience and get a few moments of attention from her. Maybe she'd adopt me; maybe she'd mentor me to be just like her; maybe she'd hire me to be on her show. (This was well before I knew how badly I suck at improv comedy - not suck so much as absolutely, positively can NOT stay in character once the audience starts laughing.)

I adored watching my triumvirate of Burnett, Conway and Korman act silly with such panache, with such seriousness - and not taking themselves too seriously. I could watch the same episodes over and over again and laugh my head off every time. It didn't matter that I knew half the lines and all of the gags. Watching their faces, the interplay of personality ... and either Tim or Harvey or Carol starting to crack up as one of the others said or did something the others hadn't quite expected.

The first time I saw one of them start to crack up, I was confused and almost alarmed. My whole life had been very, very structured around The Rules. And everyone knows, you are supposed to stay IN character and not crack up when you are doing a TV show. I was afraid they were going to get in trouble with the network. But as I watched the show and saw how they tried to crack each other up, I could feel my fervent belief in Adhering To The Rules beginning to crack and fade. They were having fun. Sure, they wanted to do a professional job - but they were also genuinely friends and genuinely enjoying cracking each other up.

They were having fun.

Years later, I discovered the TV show Fame - never did see the movie. I adored that show as well. I sympathized with Danny the most, probably. He wanted to be more than he had the talent for and he always seemed a little bit jealous of all of the mega-talents around him. (At least, that's how I remember it.) I loved Doris as well. Just wonderful characters.

I can't remember why I stopped watching it for a while. Maybe the main cast had graduated ... but when I caught an episode later on, I utterly fell in love with the character of Reggie. Thought she was just awesome - someone so herself and fun.

Turns out, that was Carrie Hamilton, Carol Burnett's daughter. I should have guessed.

I was looking forward to following her career ... but cancer took her far, far too early.

And now, of course, the Don of comedy has passed as well. I never wanted to imagine a world without any one of my triumvirate ... but the tall, gentle soul who could don a dress in one skit and a tux in the next and make Carol and Tim both lose it, has gone on without us.

I didn't think it would hit me this hard, losing someone I've never even actually met.

Requiescat in pace.

Posted by Red Monkey at 1:04 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 26, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull

No Spoilers here!

And, in order to keep this a spoiler-free zone, it'll be a short review.

I loved it.

I watched Raiders and Temple of Blech Saturday night. I made the mistake of watching Last Crusade before I went to church Sunday morning. (It was a mistake because I was beyond hyper during church.) We grabbed a quick bite for lunch and headed over to the theatre.

Okay - without spoilers - here are some elements of the movie.

1) As with the other movies, this is a "throwback" to the old serial adventure movies and the golden age of comic books. It is not a realistic action flick. (Actually, I don't think any action flicks are realistic. I guess I mean modern.)

2) It is now 1957. So far as I can tell, Indiana Jones was "born" in 1900 - this makes him 57. (There's a plot for an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles which puts him at age 5 in 1905.)
Fifty-seven year old archeologists of any genre are no longer physically capable of stunts without pain. This holds true throughout the course of the movie and becomes a running gag much as the younger Indy's ability to do stunts with great good luck and little pain were a running gag throughout the first three movies.

3) It is now 1957 and archeology has changed. Let's face it - in the first three movies, Indy was a professional grave robber. He wanted museums to have the stuff he found - but not the museums of the countries of origin. Of course, most archaeologists of that time period did the same thing. It was status quo for the times. However, in 1957 Indy has to change his tactics as he is probably also in the process of changing his opinions on ethics.

4) It is now 1957 and the country has also changed. Quite dramatically, actually. Hence, the characters around Indy are different than they were in earlier films - and some have moved on in one way or another.

5) All of the Indy movie plotlines revolve around one premise: Indy is looking for some mythological, mythical something. The culture varies from Judaic to Hindi to Christian. Indy searches for this thing even though he thinks it's "just" an artifact. He never believes in the mysticism around the artifact when he begins the search - and at the end of the movie that mysticism is always proven to be truth and not just a myth.
In this fourth movie the myth is actually a somewhat 1950s, somewhat American, somewhat South American conglomerate. I found it utterly fascinating that it took several myths and tied them all together - much, quite frankly, as was hinted at but not fully done in Last Crusade.

6) The puzzles in this movie were almost meta-puzzles. That is, they were almost more about the myth of Indiana Jones than they were physical archaeological gimmick-traps as seen in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Did we still see cool bits of "rock mechanics" and "rock gears" and such? Yep. Loved it.

7) Characterization - I thought Indy's character made as much sense as he ever did. His supporting cast made as much sense as the previous supporting casts (in some ways, even more so). Were some of the characters cardboard? Umm, well, let's think about this. Were any of the bad guys in previous films more than cardboard? Not really and that's where the whole "throwback to the old adventure serials and golden age of comics" comes into play. I don't want them to be fully developed. I don't want to have any sympathy for the bad guy characters. They are mere plot device spear carriers only there so I can watch Indy be Indy.

I'm hearing some people complaining that they are Indy fans and think this movie sucks. Lemme put it this way, it was heads and shoulders above Temple of Doom. I thought it was on par with Last Crusade (and I have a hard time deciding if I like Last Crusade or Raiders more - Raiders is more of an action flick; Crusade is more of an Indy flick, so I think I come down on the side of the more fully developed Last Crusade).

So did I like it? Hellz yeah. Did I think it was a good Indiana Jones flick? Hellz yeah. It was far better than I feared and it was exactly the right script to bring Indy back.

Bravo! (Yes, I do give it five stars out of five.)

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:53 AM | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 23, 2008

Funny Thing Happened ...

So. Umm. Yeah.

I have a confession to make. Confession is supposed to be good for the soul and, to be honest, I tarnished mine this week.

Nectar of the GodsI am addicted to Diet Vanilla Pepsi. And, as I wrote last year around this time, it's become difficult to find again. Dammit.

I have spent the last two weeks NOT drinking it because I couldn't find it. Zilch, zero, nada, goose egg. Diet Vanilla Coke is ucky, although I buy it on occasion when I cannot find my sweet nectar. I have spent the last two weeks doing Diet Mountain Dew. Meh.

So, whilst at the grocery store this week, once again NO nectar of the gods. Try another store. Nope. And then, then, I tarnished my soul. I couldn't stand it anymore.

I went to EvilMart. (Also called WalMart.)

I know, I know. I am going to hell for this. But just wait. It gets even worse.

I go in, grab a cart and put four 12-packs in my cart. I'd take ALL that they had, but I can't quite reach the fifth pack that is way in the back and I don't feel like rummaging through the store for a broom or a mop just to fish it out. (Yes, by the way, I have done that before. I told you, I'm addicted to the stuff!)

On a whim, I decide that I should just make a quick dash through electronics to see if they have the thing I have been obsessing about for the last week and a half. At least in this area, this item is still in high demand and most stores almost never have them on the shelves.

I stood in electronics at the lock-up in complete and utter disbelief. It is sitting there. Several of them. In their compact and clean little white boxes.

Yeah. I know. I'm going to hell.

I used nearly half of my stimulus check to do what I said I was not going to do - I stimulated the economy. At EvilMart no less!

But I got a Wii!!! WOOHOO!!! A Nintendo Wii all for me! And I kick arse at tennis -

I mean. Umm.

Oh my blogging peeps, I am most heartily sorry for having offended even myself. I detest all my sinful EvilMart shopping, because of the unfair business practices, but most of all because EvilMart offends thee, my most valued readers, who are all good and deserving of better things. I firmly resolve with the help of thy grace to shop at EvilMart no more, to do two hours of Wii daily penance and to amend my buying practices (and buy the Wii Fit somewhere else). Amen.

(Am I going to hell for spending money I shouldn't? Or for shopping at EvilMart? Or for re-writing the Act of Contrition? Yeah, that's what I thought. For all three. Crap.)

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:48 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 16, 2008

Red Monkey - Starting Year Four

Here's my blog anniversary post for your enjoyment ... Jodi asked a year ago, why the red monkey ... here's the answer. Oh ... and the red monkey graphic? That's not the red monkey that I talk about here ... that's a vector graphic I drew for this blog ... based on one of my other passions: Fisher Price Little People. So now you know.

I love antique stores and junk stores. I have this thing for toys, particularly old toys. I'm fascinated by everything from the packaging and advertising to the toys themselves. The problem is a lot of those so-called antique stores - at least the ones that also sell old toys - are really antique store and collectibles store combos. So I'll see a booth full of Nascar stuff next to one with clothes from the 20s and 30s. Not a big deal, really, it's usually all interesting stuff - if it wasn't for the crazy prices some of the collectibles folks tend to charge.

Anyhow, this is about 1999 or 2000 and I'm walking through a pretty cool antique store when I round the corner to the biggest flippin' display of Ty Beanie Babies I've ever seen. And despite their frenzied, must-have popularity, some of these little guys are really cute and clever. I already had a handful of the things, ones I thought were really cool or cute. I have the otter, the Ireland bear and a few others. (Why haven't they made a dolphin yet??) I also have the first monkey they made, cuz I've always really liked monkeys.

So, in this display case they have this really cool new Beanie Baby I haven't seen yet, a little red monkey with a cute tan face and a little fluff of hair on top of his head. I have to have him. DId I mention that some of these collectible places think they can charge 4-5 times the retail prices on a toy that's just come out? Not a toy that's been out and then discontinued, excuse me, "retired." A toy that is currently being mass produced but just barely started hitting the shelves - those toys are worth the retail price. Not "scalper" prices.

So this scalper booth wants $20 or $25 for a $5 stuffed animal. I stomped past, growling and grousing about opportunistic scalpers and this kind of artificial supply and demand being among the worst of human impulses. I do not "have to have" something like a little stuffed animal so badly that I will pay 5x its actual worth. I would pay $1 or $2 more to have it now - I can be that shallow and that careless about my spending money from time to time. But this, this is not capitalism - it's stupidity. Stupidity on the part of the seller and on the part of anyone who gives in and buys the overpriced goods.

Yeah, my friends are tired of that rant, too.

So, later that night, my friends and I are sitting in the living room watching a movie. It's a pseudo-SF movie called Strange Days. It's an awesome movie set just a touch in the future when people don't just watch reality tv, they experience it through virtual programs on the computer.

Well, I'd seen the movie before and it was fast becoming one of my favorites, but I was a little restless and bored that night. So everyone's really really into the movie, the tension's building and I'm kinda looking around the room. I see my little beanie-baby monkey on the bookshelf.

"I really want that red monkey," I say aloud.

The whole room turns to stare at me in shock. "What?"

The movie had to be paused and rewound a bit. Evidently it was a really intense point in the flick.

"What?" I ask, all wounded innocence and surprised at their reaction.

"Where did that come from?" they reply.

"I was just looking around the room and saw my little monkey and that reminded me of the beanie baby we saw in that store today - " there's much eye-rolling at this pronouncement "-and I just realized that I really want that little monkey."

"We're in this intense part of the movie and you're talking about a stuffed monkey?"

Somehow, my explanation did not help my case at all. "I've seen the movie before" I point out helpfully.

"I repeat, we're in this tense and intense part of the movie and you are thinking about a toy monkey?" The room is staring at me now. Finally someone grabs the remote and flips the movie back to play, muttering, "You are so ADD."

You've maybe seen the t-shirt that says "They say I have ADD, but I don't think ...Hey look! A chicken!" Well, my chicken is a red monkey.

Interestingly enough, a year or so later I was diagnosed as ADHD.

Now, I have a McD's teenie beanie version atop my monitor at work and the regular-sized one in the home office.

So, that's the story of the red monkey.

And now you know lots of important tidbits about me.

So now you know.

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:48 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 1, 2008

The Island Who Lost Its Name

It's true, Virginia, there really IS a Lesbos.

Seriously. It's a Greek island just off the coast of Turkey, near Ayvalik (which was a Turkish city filled with Greeks until about 1922). Today, it's often referred to as Mytilini - which is actually just the name of the island's capital.

And, they want their name back. They do not wish to be residents of the isle of Mytilini (which sounds vaguely Italian anyway), they want to be ...

Lesbians.

Wait, wait, wait. That came out wrong. ACK! Not "came out" like "came out of the closet" ... I mean, it didn't sound ...

Oh bollox.

It's simple. Waaaaaay back in the 7th century B.C., there was a woman named Sappho. She wrote poetry. Love poetry. Sappho lived on the Greek island of Lesbos. She wrote love poetry to women. Hence, Sappho was a Lesbian lesbian. Or was she a Mytilinian lesbian? Maybe she was bi, we just don't know. At any rate, somewhere along the line, instead of being accurate and calling women who write love poetry to other women Sapphians, which would have been more accurate, they called them lesbians. And then, of course, they attached the word to females who were attracted to other females, instead of being more precise and only referring to women who wrote poetry to women as Sa - I mean lesbians.

So it's quite obvious that the entire process of naming women who happen to be homosexual as lesbians has been very much botched from the beginning. Or at least since the 7th century B.C. Or, to be more precise, B.C.E. (before the common era).

At any rate, the people of the island sometimes called Lesbos and sometimes called Mytilini would actually like to be called Lesbians now. Never mind that there are plenty of people who would prefer to NOT be called a lesbian, these people would like their name back.

It's been badly misused by the media in the United States. All throughout the 1980s, any news story involving Sharon Gless using began in this way: A crazed lesbian broke into Gless' home or perhaps Gless has taken out a restraining order on the crazed lesbian who broke into.

And anyway, why bother to divide the gay community into "gay men" and "lesbians" anyway? Shouldn't the gay community try to band together and show their numbers instead of subdividing into minute special-interest groups? What if the civil rights movement of the '50s and '60s had subdivided into Africans, half blacks, quadroons, Baptists, Catholics, etc, etc, etc?

I say, let the island of Lesbos have their name back. I don't want it, anyway.

Now, if the Dutch start demanding "dyke" back, we're gonna have problems ...

You can read the BBC article here.

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:46 AM | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 25, 2008

Withdrawals

3:05 PM
Inexplicably, nothing will load in Firefox. As the machine hasn't been restarted in a while and is bogging down, I decide to restart. All lights green on the router.

3:10 PM
Machine restarted. Now nothing on the internet works. N O T H I N G.
Everything still green on the router.

3:15 PM
Begin running the diagnostic on the router. "No internet connection can be obtained." Really, Sherlock? Thanks for that bit of stunning information. Dammit.
Oh, and now the router thinks there might be a problem. Middle light is now orange. Little behind the times, there, hoss.

3:16 PM
Now the router thinks my login/pwd might be wrong. WTF?

3:17 PM
Now it's back to can't find an ATM circuit and cannot obtain an internet address. Hit the Diagostic Test one more time and pick up Hampton Sides' Blood and Thunder. I'm down to the last 100 pages and the part I was most dreading to read about: the Navajo Long Walk.

3:20 PM
Peek up from book. Light still orange. Diagnostics still refreshing approximately every 60 to 90 seconds. Sometimes it's "login/pwd wrong," sometimes it's "can't obtain internet address." Attempt to plant book in front of face so I can't see the computer screen.

3:30 PM
Internet still down. Meh.

3:40 PM
See, when I was little, I read a biography of Kit Carson and I wound up thinking he was the coolest guy in the world, a real advocate for the native Americans. Of course, it was a fairy tale, legend-based biography which in many respects only had a passing glance with truth. But I didn't know that at the time. I thought he was cool.

I also absolutely adored the Navajo. I'd announced when I was three that I wanted to grow up to be an Indian, and it was the Navajo tribe that had fascinated me from that day on.

This biography, Blood and Thunder, is wonderful. Not only does it give a nice, academic look at Carson, it also tells the story in a readable way. (The book's selected bibliography is 17 pages long!) And it does more than just talk about Carson - Sides makes sure to give all of the surrounding context of Carson's life, including constant overviews of the Navajo life at that time. Of course, this is all building up to Carson's worst mistake ever - his scorched earth campaign against the Navajo.

These last 100 pages are simply difficult for me to stay focused on at the best of times. Two of my favourite Old West entities clashing. I hate it.

4:10 PM
Other half comes home. The house is no longer peacefully quiet, but absolutely drenched in words. Talking to me, to the dogs, to the cats, to me, to the dogs. I can't tell anymore when to listen and when not to. My processing filter is broken. After trying to read one sentence at least a half dozen times, thinking she's done talking to me, only to find out she's still in the middle of some story ... I put the book down finally.

Damn internet is still down.

4:11 PM
Get a word in edgewise: The internet is down.
Response? Oh.
And then she picks up her computer. Pushes buttons. "How long has the internet been down?"
(Okay, so I'm exaggerating a bit here. That's what it felt like, though!)

"About an hour." Luckily for her, she had a story already loaded in her browser and could sit there and read it. Since I restarted my computer, I had nothing. Besides, most of my online work is dynamic. And I couldn't concentrate on the website design I was doing - I rely a lot on being able to upload and check the code against four different browsers on two computing platforms. If I can't do that cross-checking, I get very out of sorts very quickly.

4:30 PM
Begin obsessing again over restarting the router and performing diagnostics. I know at this point that it's AT&T's fault. I know at this point it's not going to come back just because I restart the router. I know constantly running the diagnostic is not going to magically fix things.

I keep doing these things anyway.

Stupid Kit Carson and his overblown sense of "my country needs me and even if I don't agree, it's my duty to do what the Army general says I should do." He knew he shouldn't take on the Navajos. He knew it was wrong to round them up this way. He knew they weren't going to fare well at Bosque Redondo.

Stupid AT&T DSL.

Meh.

5:00 PM
We take a nap to prepare for choir night. Internet still out. The other half has to wake up at 3:30 AM in order to get to work by 5 AM. Generally, we go to bed between 8 and 9 PM in order to get a full night's sleep. Since she suffers from severe, debilitating migraines, we have to be very certain that she gets enough sleep and follows a regular sleep pattern. Thursday nights, though, choir starts at 7:30 and usually runs until at least 9, which means we're often up until 10 or 11 PM. In order to make up for this, we try to take an hour or two nap Thursday before choir.

6:10 PM
Feel like I could have slept another couple of hours at least.

Damn internet is STILL OUT!

Reboot the router. Meh. Damn AT&T anyway.

Boy oh boy. Scorched earth. Carson either took any stock animals for his army or he killed them and left them to rot or burned them. He fed his army's animals on the fields of the Navajo and then burned whatever was left over. The Diné (the name the Navajo use for themselves) were starving to death and sure that it was not just a war against them, but an extermination of their entire people. His last act before leaving Canyon de Chelly was to chop down the peach tree grove of which the Navajo were so proud. Talk about insult to injury.

When Kit did something, he did it thoroughly. I am still disgusted.

6:15 PM
Restart the router again. Meh. Fix a cheese sandwich with some Cholula on it for dinner.

Turns out Bosque Redondo was far outside the Dinétah (Navajo lands) and the people did not fare well there. Carson didn't even lead them on the Long Walk. Somehow, that seems kind of insulting to me. All this work to subjugate them ... and then I wonder if it felt like he didn't even think enough of them to walk them to their new reservation himself. That doesn't appear to be his reasoning, but still ... I think that's what I would have felt like.

The first year, the Navajo threw themselves into farming the land. The corn crop looked great and General Carleton (who was the one who ordered Carson to subjugate the Navajo and make sure they got to the bosque) Carleton thought he had a great thing going. His benevolent plan was working.

Cutworms got the corn.

6:45 PM
Reset the router again. Why do I keep doing this? I know it's not the router, it's the service from AT&T.

Unsurprisingly, things do not get better at the reservation. The Mescalero Apaches who had been brought to Bosque Redondo before the Navajo eventually slip away one night. The Navajo try to farm the land for three years and with the coming of the fourth year, they give up. Cutworms two years in a row and a hailstorm the third year. All they can think about is how they had always been told not to leave the Dinetah or their medicine would no longer work and they would wither and die. It certainly seems to be true after three failed years. Why should they continue to fight it? They lost their wealth, their lands, their gods.

Meanwhile, Carson is mostly retired. At least, he keeps trying to retire, although he allows the bleat of "duty" to call him back at least once. Seems he's developed an aneurysm on his aorta. It's a slow leak, leaking into a "balloon" in his chest. The thing could pop at any time and he'll die. There's nothing to be done for him. His wife, Josefa, has given birth to their seventh? eighth? child. She suffers some complications from the birth, but perks up ... only to suddenly die. Carson follows her in death within a month.

And the Diné, after an army investigation into the Bosque Redondo experiment, are allowed to return home. Their traditional lands have been made much, much smaller, but it is in the Dinétah. They are going home at last.

7:00 PM
Still no fricking internet.

9:30 PM
Back from choir. Still with the damned center orange light on the router. Seriously, WTF? I mean, I finished my book, dammit, I was virtuous. NOW WHERE IS MY INTERNET????

Meh. Damn AT&T.

We watch the Unbeatable Banzuke that recorded last night, plus the new Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.

Still with the orange light. A handful of games of solitaire. Meh. Boring. I pull out Jerrold E. Levy's In the Beginning and begin preparing for bed.

This is a more academic treatment of the Navajo creation and origin stories. It's fascinating to me, but it's the kind of book that I read very very very v e r y slowly. I'm soon ready for bed.

The orange light mocks me as I fall asleep.

3:30 AM
Rob Zombie's "Dragula" pierces my dreams and I'm up.

THREE GREEN LIGHTS!!!!

I'm back, baby, B A C K, back!

Now, please. Don't ever go out again, okay? Please? It was horrible without you, baby. Horrible. I swear I'll not cheat on you with my phone ever ever ever again. (Wait, I never do internet with my phone. I don't even text with it.)

Well, the important thing is, I'm connected again.

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:54 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 3, 2008

SUCH a Geek

Alternate title: I SOOOOO need a job.

I hang out at BlogCatalog far too much. It's my primary form of entertainment on days when the other half is home with a migraine and I have to be quiet. Of course, that backfires sometimes when people like Ekim get to thinking they're funny. As punishment, and because I was boreded and wanted a non-productive project on which to work, I give you ...

Ekim-Diego. Go Ekim Go!

For those of you curious as to how you can do such a thing as insert a photo of someone into a cartoon character, this time I also wrote a tutorial of sorts, complete with screen caps. Sadly, the Claire/Smurfette picture would have been a better one to do the tutorial to since the picture turned out better - but ... eh.

The trick, for those of you kind of curious, but not curious enough to slog through the tutorial - is to pick a facial picture in which the shape of the person's face comes close to the shape of the cartoon character's face. Otherwise, you'll have to copy/paste just the eyes and nose and such and place them in the picture and smooth out the edges - it's a long and tedious and not very worthwhile endeavor. Trick the second is to pick a cartoon character with a very different skin tone than your real person. What makes this type of image actually work at all is the colourizing of the original face. Otherwise, it's just a lame cut and paste job.

Put a face on a cartoon

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:31 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 31, 2008

Hang On, Lemme Process That For You

In high school, I can remember my speech teacher, Mr. Schumacher, talking about different kinds of learners. Some people learn visually, some aurally, some through written word. I'd never thought about this before, but I could instantly apply it to various classes and friends. Mr. Schumacher went on to talk about introverts and extroverts and a variety of other personality differences - he did this partly because we were a class of sophomores, juniors and seniors with varying comfort levels about high school, and partly because his was one of the very few high school classrooms where I rarely saw any kind of bullying happen. Mr. Schumacher was excellent at observing his students and preventing crappy behaviour before it even started. To this day, he is my role model when I consider going back to teaching.

Since I've left high school, I've done loads of reading on developmental stages of psychology, personality tests such as the Meyers-Briggs and processing issues like dyslexia, ADD and austism.

What I find fascinating is that nearly all of this really speaks to how we process the information which bombards us each day and how our filters deal with the overwhelming amount of information.

For example, many autists cannot stand tags in their clothes. Why? Because those individuals cannot stop processing the sensations from the tag. Think about the worst itch you ever had in your life - chicken pox, mosquito bite, poison ivy - that itch that you just could NOT stop thinking about and acting upon. What if the tag on the back of your shirt felt like that? What if that "itch" was literally so intense that it locked up your ability to think and became something you HAD to deal with NOW, regardless of what people thought? What if, in fact, you could not even fathom the thought "what will people think about my gyrations to get this thing off of me" because that itch was literally all you could focus on?

That's one form of processing disorder and often a common trait in autism.

What if, on the other end of the spectrum, every bit of information being tossed at you seemed equally important? Everything from the way the seam of your shorts feels kind of funny under your thigh to the rocking motion of your recliner to the level of light in the room to the feel of the keyboard under your fingers, the sound of the rain outside, the ringing of the phone, the colour of the dust motes floating in front of you, the sound of the keyboard, the sound of the cat walking across the room, the sound of your partner shifting weight slightly and lifting a beer, the smell of the Glade plugin that you read somewhere was a fire hazard and you keep meaning to unplug, the way the light flickers across the black polish of the television casing, the little bit of dust on your monitor --

Of all of those things, what is the one item that probably needs an immediate response?

With some kinds of processing disorders, you literally can't classify those according to importance. Sometimes that's an issue with autism; sometimes one with attention deficit.

What if you are so focused on what you are doing - on a regular basis, not just every once in a while - that you cannot see nor hear all of those stimuli?

What if you are so focused on your peculiar interest, that you have never learned to interpret the nuances of facial expressions? Would you know the difference between polite interest, avid interest and flirtation?

What truly fascinates me is not just the many ways in which we process (or don't process) the world around us - but the reasons why as well. For some, it's an official diagnosis of autism or asperger's or attention deficit disorder. For some, it's simply "absent-mindedness" or "bad social skills" or simply the function of a particular time, place and project.

For some, it's a biochemical process of the brain which "fouls" the "normal" ways of processing. For some, it's a matter of learning or training. For others, it's that they were never taught how to process or their environment kept them from processing in a "normal" fashion. And if that happens at an early enough age, that also affects the brain chemistry so that it might not be fully possible to learn to process "normally."

We all have our processing quirks and blind spots. Some are by choice, by faith or due to hard wiring.

And all of these processing foibles are a small portion of what makes so many of us exclaim, "If you'd just listen to me" or "if you'd just do what I told you" then all the ills of the moment could be fixed.

But the truth of the matter is ...

... we process all of those bits of information through our own experiential filters in our own ways ... and that inevitably leads to differences in what bits we process as most and least important.

It is the variety of ways in which we process the world around us which makes communication and accord so difficult, and yet it is also one of our greatest strengths as well, as new ways of processing teach us new concepts and ideas.

It's just that sometimes, we need to remember that the other guy's way of processing may not be wrong, merely different.

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:18 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 10, 2008

Celt Claire

Today we have a quick li'l lesson in Photoshop and why you do not want to annoy a graphic designer. This is actually a very easy tutorial. Which, of course, is made more difficult by the fact that I'm not taking screenshots or making this into a video. Why? Because I didn't think of any of that until after the whole thing was done. So, you get text and the final result.

Step One - find images. In this particular case, someone suggested that a friend should be made a Smurf, yes, a Smurf, one of the bollox-y little blue buggers. So, I went looking for a Smurfette image, just to add insult to injury. I'm mean that way. You might be nicer, I dunno. This friend enjoys hiking and I very quickly found an image of Smurfette rock-climbing. Close enough for government work. I then went to her Flicker account and swiped an image of her. Whilst there, I saw some gorgeous pix of Derwent Edge - just the thing!

Step Two - open Photoshop. Open your background image first. Now, open your cartoon and your person. Align your windows so that you can see a wee bit of your background image file. Now, go over to the layer window and drag the layer of the cartoon over to the bit of background image window that you can see. Voila! you have now added a new layer to your Photoshop file. Hit save. Do the same with the image of the person. You should have 3 layers now. Make sure the background image is on the bottom, the cartoon in the middle and the person on top.

Step Three - Face-off. In this case, I want to insert just the face onto the cartoon image. First, I need to erase everything that is not the face from the person layer. Make sure you've selected the person layer in Photoshop, then use the lasso tool to do a "rough cut" and get rid of all the superfluous background crap from that layer. Then use the eraser tool to smooth things out. The best part about inserting this face over the cartoon is that cartoons have a nice black line to define edges ... so your edges don't have to be perfect. However, you will need to be perfect as you delete all the superfluous stuff around the cartoon character. But! don't forget you have those pretty black outlines to rely on, so it's really not so bad to clean the background off of that layer.

Step Four - Colourizing. In my case, I need to make my friend a nice Celtic blue. If I just use Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation, I'll change the whites of the eyes to blue as well and I don't want that. So, the next step is to duplicate the person layer. To make it easier to work, I hide the person layer which is below this one - just for a few minutes. Now, I'm going to erase everything except the whites of the eyes. When that's done, make the person layer below visible again and hide the layer which only has the eyes.
Make sure you now select the visible person layer. Go ahead and change the Hue/Saturation to get a nice blue colour, trying to match the blue of the cartoon. You want to make sure to select Colorize (darn Photoshop spells that wrong), so you can get a great blue hue. When you have it how you like it, make the layer with the eyes visible again. Merge those two layers together. You've got a blue face with white eyes now!

Did I lose you? Really? I'm sorry. I suck at tutorials when I don't use 3495027 screen shots to help you along. Maybe one day I'll do one as a video. (You can check out Donnie Hoyle's excellent tutorials. If you're not at work, that is.)

Step Five - Smooshing the Face. This is a tad bit tricky. I change the opacity of the face layer to between 50 and 85% depending on the background and how well I can make out what I want to do through the semi-opaque layer. First thing, if you need to rotate the face so it matches the head on the cartoon, do that now! when you've got that lined up, then you smoosh the size of the face down with the re-size handles. You do not necessarily have to do this evenly ... you might take more off the height and leave the face a bit wider - this is a cartoon, remember. You want the face to overlap as much as possible of the cartoon to make later steps easier. You'll want to erase some of the face so it looks like the cartoon character's hair is covering the face.

Step Six - Cleaning Up. Chances are you'll need to use the clone tool or the healing brush or even the smudge tool to get rid of some small flaws.

In my case, I had to copy and paste some of the rocks so they poked out a bit more to the side so the cartoon's hands were actually grasping rock instead of thin air. That required some judicious smudging and cloning to keep the edges looking natural and not like I'd just copied and pasted them. Also, I had to move the two pointing dudes off the near rock and put them on the next stack over. And then make them point at Smurfette instead of something off to the right.

Click to get a beautiful 1024x 768 wallpaper version.

And yeah, I'll make a for really tutorial about this one of these days. :)

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:45 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 7, 2008

March Showers?

So, our shower has some issues. First, it's the only fixture in the bathroom which is an almond colour. And I don't think we can actually wrangle a new tub in through either the doorway OR the window. Bugger. So, we did the nice tub paint thing on it. Except the paint was a little "stiff" on the last coat ... and somehow we never got around to buying another can of it to finish up. Then, turns out, you're really not supposed to leave your wet shower curtain on that paint forever and ever in the corner. Cuz now all the paint in that corner has worn off.

Next, and more important on a day to day level ... is the showerhead. We were getting next to no water pressure for the last couple of weeks. And the hot water was just not wanting to get hot - but ONLY to the shower. No drippy pipes.

Today I decided I'd had enough. I carefully took the showerhead down. Easy fix, there's a pressure adjuster in there that we don't need since there's only adults in the house. And, it was gunked up a bit with some rust particles. Yank that sucker out and screw the showerhead back up.

Good news? We have hot water which is actually hot. We have water pressure. I fixed the showerhead.

Bad news? Then I broke the showerhead.

GAH! I had to take it off with a wrench, but I started putting it back on by hand. I pulled out the hand wrench to give it the infamous "last little twist" - trying to gauge the force correctly since I didn't want to --

Oops. I didn't want to break the damn plastic screw-on connection, but guess what? Literally one twist with the wrench and POP!

Dammit.

Now I have to go buy a new showerhead. Frankly, the other half is ecstatic as she didn't like that one anyway.

Just what I wanted to do today! WOOHOO!

(Maybe I'll go to Chipotles for dinner ... mmmm ... burritos and REAL guacamole.)

UPDATE: I didn't go to Chipotles ... wound up not on that side of town. And you know what? We're out of food now. I ate chicken fajitas tonight ... without any tortillas (or guacamole). Damn.

Anyhow, I installed the new showerhead shortly after getting home. Works like a charm. :)

Posted by Red Monkey at 1:04 PM | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 5, 2008

Six Years

Happy birthday, little man!

(Yes, I'm one of those weird people. But dammit, he's a sweetie.)

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:09 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 4, 2008

The Speed of Dark

I read an excellent book by Elizabeth Moon called The Speed of Dark a few years ago, a really interesting look at a future not too far away and a man named Lou Arrendale. Lou works at a company where he is employed to "find patterns."

As it turns out, Lou is one of the last generation who is an autist. By the time Lou was born, there are wonderful educational techniques which enable people with autism to interact and socialize with the world more like the high-functioning autists of today. But, not long after Lou is born and learning through these new methods, a new treatment for autism is discovered -- correcting the issue and making those who've had the newest treatment normal (or nearly so - we get some intimations that their social interactions are a touch off, but no more so than the typical insensitive person).

What I found fascinating about the book - besides the wonderful writing and really vivid characterization - was the similarities between geek culture and the culture that Moon created around these folks with autism.

Lou and the other folks like him at his work, enjoy a small gym where they can go to calm themselves down. There's a small trampoline and a treadmill; there's classical music to help them get into a project or calm down; there's lots of colorful spinners in Lou's cubical which help him focus himself on his pattern finding projects.

Geek culture has some similarities, I think. Our jobs often involve either a creative process or programming process (sometimes both) that the higher ups generally don't even pretend to understand. And most true geeks that I know have at least a few toys (action figures, cars, PVC statues or minis, LEGOs, Star Wars and/or Star Trek, Nerf!!!). They have these toys to keep them creative, to keep them focused, to keep them sane under pressure - even though others may think them childish or simply silly.

And, of course, there are a lot of geeks (not all, by any means) whose social skills are still not very great. A great many geeks would prefer to do away with some of the niceties of social interaction and just "say what you mean." We see a lot of this in the book, too. Lou often thinks to himself about various common social phrases and has to think through both the literal meaning and then what he knows the social meaning of the phrase or act is. And he constantly asks himself if it wouldn't just be simpler to say what you mean instead of these weird social codes. You can still see the "damage" that autism has caused in Lou's interpretation of social cues, where he has a fundamental confusion over why people do some things that's not even seen in geeks.

But the parallel is there.

And, of course, there's been a lot of news coverage and research lately into the creativity and ... well, the geekiness of high-functioning autists. How they get into art or music or computers or pure math.

Just makes me wonder ... how many "diseases" or disorders are out there where the diagnosis is only quantifying a segment of a continuum? Does talent in one area cause a deficit in another? Or does a deficit in one area cause a talent in another?

If we know the speed of light, why don't we know the speed of dark?

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:21 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 21, 2008

Steampunk Nerf

First, let me kind of react to some of the comments about the Nerf Sniper Rifle post. My issue is not with the toy's existence, it's with calling it a "toy." I don't want to legislate crap like that. I am for involved parenting.

All of that said, and as fun as most of the Nerf guns are for ALL ages, I still don't think a sniper rifle that shoots foam darts is truly a toy. Do some mods on it like the good folks out at Nerfhaven.com and get better accuracy and firepower out of it and go play a nice game of "foam-paintball." Now, if my 10 year old wants it ... I doubt it. Not without a buttload of rules like, "never point it at a person or animal." Not because it's as physically dangerous as a BB gun, which kids have been playing with and surviving without shooting up their schools for decades, but because I believe in involved parenting, as several of my commenters on the previous post stated. Involved parent who lets their kid play with a Nerf sniper rifle under rules and such ... okay. I'm just saying how many parents are NOT thinking and just buying Nerf?

Anyhow. Enough said.

For a complete change of topic, I bring you to the realm of Steampunk. What is Steampunk, you ask? From Wikipedia:

Steampunk is a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction which came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used--usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England--but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of "the path not taken" of such technology as dirigibles or analog computers; these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or a presumption of functionality.

Think 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Or Steamboy.

Need a visual? Try the Datamancer. Or this iPod gelaskin from GelaSkins.com.

Now, enter my goofball self.

As I was running some preliminary research on the Nerf sniper rifle, I discovered Nerfers and Nerf Wars ... well, really that was a re-discovery. I already knew about the sport/hobby, but hadn't really gotten into it. But then I found Chris (from the weekly geek show) and his Steampunk Nerf Maverick gun. Oh my. I haven't done a good modding project in quite some time. Most of my equipment is in the basement, including my big-ass box of Citadel paints that I got and then never opened. (I know, I know.)

So, of course ... I HAD to! Click the images to see the larger size version. (Oh, and the blue "lights" on the gun look better in person, more glow-y and less paint-y)

 

 

 

Fun times!!

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:19 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | hobbies | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 16, 2008

New Species of Dog Discovered

The aKC announced this week a brand new species of dog. Originally thought to be a dachshund, genetic testing has proven that the Indiana Nesting Hound, is, in fact, a separate species from the more common Dachshund, or wiener dog. These two specimens below are in their semi-nested state. You can click the image to see a larger version. Make sure to wait for it to fully load so you can see the nesting process in action.

News story and photo courtesy of the aKC ... the almostKennelClub.
Heh
(Scout is on the right and Scraps is the serious nester on the left.)

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:42 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | Vacations and Photos | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 2, 2008

Mastermind

As a child, I was constantly re-vamping something. As I underwent the rapid change of elementary schools and landed finally in a school which instead of encouraging me to excel, actually tossed me back quite a bit, I began re-designing the school system. I didn't realize that third graders do not design school systems. It didn't occur to me that I was being presumptuous or precocious. I saw an inefficient system and I wanted to improve it. I walked around for days contemplating various issues from how to decide which classes were tracked, how many tracks to have and how to train the teachers to treat everyone. That last was especially important to me because I had started noticing what damage a teacher could do by choosing the wrong methodology.

Yeah, I know. What third grader does this?

The Mastermind.

You see, when taking the Meyers-Briggs personality questionnaire, I come out as an INTJ. Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging.

People like me tend to build systems, to look for inefficiencies and fix them. And to a third grader forced to re-do 6-8 weeks worth of work upon arrival at the new school, the entire issue of public education seemed highly inefficient. And since this particular move from Austin to Arlington involved not just a movement within the area ... but a larger move ... it occurred to me that there was no national school system. Just lots and lots of little school systems.

So how in the bleeding hell could there be any standards across the United States? There weren't even visible standards going from Austin to Arlington.

Obviously, this is an inefficient way to educate our youth and build a nation.

Of course, I was the one to do this.

No wonder the teachers at my new school were at a loss regarding how to handle me. Since the INTJ personality type is found in just 1-2% of the population and tends to have far more males than females in its category, they were at a loss as to just how to get this "hysterical female child" who was pretty close to emotionless as well as quite serious and logical to shut up so they could get on with their jobs.

I considered going to the principal to discuss the issue, however, during the new student orientation, I had already decided that our principal did not understand that children are real, reasoning beings. She had that saccharine smile and was so quick to look away from child to the important adults. Marina Margaret Heiss says that INTJs tend to look at anyone who is "'slacking,' including superiors, [with dis]respect -- and will generally [make them] aware of this." I had learned by the age of ten that letting it be too obvious that I disapproved of lax or illogical behaviours (which I defined, of course, as behaviour not following my system of logic, which was, of course, the RIGHT system ... after all, I had honed it to an art form) ... I had learned that letting my opinion about such wrong logic or lax attitude was rather dangerous to my well-being and peace of mind. So, instead of talking to the principal for whom I had no respect, I began asking my teachers why they set up their classes in the way they did.

I rarely got a straight answer.

So, I began developing my own rules. In fact, by fifth grade, when I read Robert Heinlein's The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, I was utterly enthralled with the character of Professor LaPaz who stated:

I will accept any rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.

I drove teachers batty ... I hated being in trouble ... I was a good kid ... and yet, there were times when they would watch as I deliberately disregarded a rule, cooly, calmly and whilst looking them straight in the eyes.

There was the instance of the substitute teacher in fourth grade. I needed to pee during math class. The substitute decided I was simply going to cause a disruption or that I was going to wreak havoc instead of going to the restroom. She told me that I absolutely could not leave. First, I hated it when any adult "decided" that "all children are X way." What an illogical system of belief!

Secondly, the deal is ... if I actually admitted to a teacher that I needed to go ... I was at least 10 minutes into the wriggling dance which means if I don't go soon, I'm going to burst my bladder or pee all over my desk. I absolutely HATED having to ASK to go to the bathroom. I wriggled and debated. I asked again. The substitute got angry and lectured the class.

I got up and walked out whilst she was distracted a moment later. I had to PEEEEEEEEEEEE, dammit.

Since our school was always in a state of utter chaos, with some 200 children in my grade level all in one huge "room" ... this was not quite the feat of stealth you might otherwise think. I went to the bathroom and then waited until one of the teachers rang the bell indicating it was time to change class areas. I waltzed back in, gathered my stuff, ignored her and went to my next class as if nothing had happened. I then, on the advice (okay, the insane egging on) of my friends, proceeded to write an "anonymous" note to the substitute telling her how evil she was and how behaviour like that was exactly how she was going to wind up "with dark puddles in the classroom."

Apparently, my regular teacher informed me upon her return, I made the substitute cry with that note. Not that I saw. She just looked pissed off to me. Which I thought was far better than pissed on, which was another option I had considered (actually, I thought about peeing in her desk chair ... meh, close enough). And the thing is, I didn't do this out of meanness to her ... but so that she would learn. Even considering peeing in her chair, I didn't understand this as a vicious act of grossness or vandalism. I thought I was logically teaching her something she needed to learn in order to be a better teacher. When a child claims they have to pee and does "that" wiggle ... you better freaking rush them to the bathroom!!

This happens in part because many INTJs do not readily grasp the social rituals; for instance, they tend to have little patience and less understanding of such things as small talk and flirtation (which most types consider half the fun of a relationship). To complicate matters, INTJs are usually extremely private people, and can often be naturally impassive as well, which makes them easy to misread and misunderstand. Perhaps the most fundamental problem, however, is that INTJs really want people to make sense. :-) This sometimes results in a peculiar naivete'

That's from Marina Margaret Heiss again.

I was obviously having issues grasping the social rituals there!!

The thing which perhaps confused my teachers and my family the most ... that confuses my friends today ... is that an INTJ tends to define success for themselves. We don't necessarily define it the way others expect.

I was a smart kid. I could work incessantly on some projects and pay attention to the smallest details - my system building tendencies at work. Worksheets and tests, I would race through, doing less than a stellar job and getting tagged as "not living up to full potential." I got high enough grades to keep almost everyone off my back or at least keep their displeasure to a level of background noise I could live with. The more astute teachers knew I was hitting that minimum just to shut them up and it either drove them nuts, or they docked me points just to make me work harder ... and a few special ones left me alone because my grades were my choice (of course, some didn't give a crap, either).

All of this has led to complications in my adult life, of course. The novel I completed for my master's degree remains in a drawer. I've never sent it out to be published. Most of you find that mad, don't you? All that work to create a world and write some 300 pages ... and do nothing with it? What was the point?

Eh, while a great many unpublished writers claim that they do not write for publication, most of them do at least have publication as a serious goal. I mean it. I wrote it for me. I enjoy having people read it ... but ...

My goal was to write the book. It was publishable when I finished it in 1996. At least, it was comparable quality and theme to other science-fiction books being published at the time. Today, I've seen other writers hit some of my same ideas. It doesn't anger me. It makes me smile. I was right on target. If I were to bother attempting to send it out today, I'd need to do some updating. It wouldn't be all that hard. But I don't do it.

Why? Largely because you need a one page summary of your novel to send out with the first three chapters and your cover letter - whether to agent or to publisher - provided either actually accept "over the transom" manuscripts. It's a process in which your work often gets rejected unread.

And, I find marketing myself difficult. I can market for products, for other people ... and I do a damn good job at it. But myself? Not so much. I want to fan out some of my work and let my work speak for me. I shouldn't need to do anything else. So trying to summarize my 300 page novel into a single page ... writing a cover letter for a job ... these are impossible tasks for me. Insurmountable problems. Social rituals that I do not comprehend and yet am forced to attempt to fake my way through.

From Personality Zone:

Masterminds are rare, comprising no more than, say, one percent of the population, and they are rarely encountered outside their office, factory, school, or laboratory. Although they are highly capable leaders, Masterminds are not at all eager to take command, preferring to stay in the background until others demonstrate their inability to lead. Once they take charge, however, they are thoroughgoing pragmatists. Masterminds are certain that efficiency is indispensable in a well-run organization, and if they encounter inefficiency-any waste of human and material resources-they are quick to realign operations and reassign personnel. Masterminds do not feel bound by established rules and procedures, and traditional authority does not impress them, nor do slogans or catchwords. Only ideas that make sense to them are adopted; those that don't, aren't, no matter who thought of them.

My partner, indeed, most people who know me well, wind up guffawing when they read that paragraph describing the INTJ ... it's so very much the distilled essence of me.

I enjoy being an INTJ and couldn't imagine being any other way. I'm quite comfortable with myself. However, I constantly seek to minimize certain INTJ tendencies ... I constantly grapple with how to market myself ... with trying to be a bit more outgoing instead of so intensely focused on whatever my goal is. (As Heiss says, "Whatever system an INTJ happens to be working on is for them the equivalent of a moral cause to an INFJ" ... and that can sometimes be quite off-putting to other people!)

And here's the real deal ... whilst I have a tendency to refuse categorization (I hate About Me boxes, for instance and mine universally say little about me except that I hate the damn things) ... this one category of INTJ does tend to "hold" most of my traits. But like any category, it describes an aspect or a trend and does not contain me.

So while I am an INTJ and proud of it ... I am myself as well. I am not constrained and defined by my personality type any more than other people are truly defined by theirs. I use that box as a jumping off point to understand why I act the way that I do and how I can improve my relations with others. I do not use it to limit myself but to improve myself.

And that, I suppose is why I hate About Me boxes. They don't serve to improve me, but to encapsulate me ... a distilled short form of me to feed to other people.

As with marketing myself in general, I prefer to fan out a selection of my work and let that speak for me instead.

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:44 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | Why Johnny Won't Learn and Mrs. Curnutt Is Tired of the System | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

January 21, 2008

Tag, She's It

I was tagged by Mark Stoneman to name 8 random things about myself. Like Mark, I often ignore tags. But when reading his 8 things aloud to my partner and coming across his gem about the chickens. I decided, as usual, to twist the meme and change it up.

Here are 8 random things about my partner. (Done with her approval cuz even though with as much as she's tossing and turning and flopping around at night with her surgery sliced hand, I don't really wanna sleep out here on the futon.)

1) In homage to Mark's chickens: My other half was raised in farm country and the entire family was very into 4H ... her younger brother LOVED fowl. At one point they had, and I quote: a bunch of "cross beaked little inbred freaks which did not help the hillbilly impression since they were loose all over the yard, the FRONT yard." Apparently their beaks did not line up. The top beak was not in the same line as the bottom beak which did make the entire family wonder how the durn things even managed to eat.

2) She cooks wonderful things. Delicious, wonderful things. This is both because of 4H and the fact that her mother was a Home Sciences teacher (involved far more than your typical Home Ec stereotypical stuff).

3) She is the messiest cook I have EVER met.

4) She forces ME to do the dishes. (Okay, okay. To be fair, she does all the laundry and I do all the dishes.)

5) She is clutterblind. I have watched her as she stacks papers and books and objects on her little table until it's literally a foot high. And then attempt to place something else on top. And then get mad when half of this slides inevitably to the floor.

6) She reads fem slash fan fiction based on Law & Order SVU and also of the Birds of Prey (DC comics, Batman universe). (And I bet she makes me delete this one.)
(Her first response was to say, Hell yes, you have to delete that. Her second, grudging response, was Okay, you can leave it. But you have to correct it to say fem slash fan fiction ... because if you have to out me about this, at least you can let people know I'm not reading that horrid straight shit.)

7) I introduced her to comic books and now when she recognizes something and makes a comment like, "That's not really a part of the Batman canon, is it?" ... she then whips her head to me and says, "You see? You SEE what you have done to me? I should NOT know these things!"
(hehehehehehe)

8) She FORCED me into getting a dog. Now we have two and I want a third.

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:51 AM | Blog | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

January 8, 2008

That Sleep Thing

Several people asked if the great sleep experiment actually worked. The short answer is yes. I am tired by about 8 every night and ready for bed. It's still not easy to force myself to go to bed at such an ungodly early hour, but it's much more do-able than it has ever been before.

This past week was the first week back to work for the other half, so naturally, the first night she had to be at work by 5 a.m., the animals woke me up after I'd slept for only two hours. I was up for another 4 after that and was sure that all the work we'd done to reset my clock would be ruined, but it was fairly easy to keep the correct hours anyway. I call that a LOT of progress.

Things have been quite quiet here ... seems my brain is on a bit of a minor shutdown, resting up for further trouble, no doubt. I've had a quickie freelance job to work on, and, of course, I've been working slowly on Cheese Circles as well.

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:54 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 26, 2007

Gifts Received ... and not received

What I got:

  • a reminder that all families fight ... and somehow most of them come through it
  • the memory of Dec 24, 2007 ... one of the most beautiful days and nights of my life
  • a more full understanding that the people around me listen to me and genuinely like me
  • time to reflect on how utterly amazing this year has been, even though I got laid off and my other half had major, routine surgery in May and will have routine day surgery in another couple of weeks
  • the realization that I am much stronger this year, more balanced

What I didn't get:

  • world peace, surcease of sorrow and the answer to world hunger
  • flashbacks of rotten holidays or birthdays past
  • sad or depressed or angry
  • the chance to see my family
  • a new job

I see so very many topics in various forums and blogging sites: What do YOU get for Christmas ... What did Santa bring you?

And I just think, how crass. I guess I really am getting old, but too many of these conversations just sound like "looky what my family and friends can afford." I know some of it is people genuinely excited over getting something they wanted. (I could hardly keep from telling everyone I saw about my big gift this year ... actually, it was the first words out of my mouth to nearly everyone for about 4 hours after we opened gifts.)

And I'm equally kinda blah about posts ... well, posts insisting on NOT looking at the commercial end of the December holidays ... yeah, kinda like the post I'm writing right now, huh? I dunno, just seems like there should be a balance point.

For me, I'm glad I had a chance to do some reflection the last couple of days ... and to be honest, I am glad for the stuff I got too.

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:51 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 14, 2007

Edicts

My mom went to Catholic school. I think this is where she picked up her intense love-affair with edicts - rules which were written in stone and were absolutely iron-clad. And they worked for her throughout much of her life ... when I was first diagnosed with asthma and allergies at age 3, her love-affair with organization and rules (commonly known as OCD today) rose to the challenge. Monday and Friday were vacuuming days. The ENTIRE house was vacuumed those days. Since one of my allergies was dust, the doctor told Mom that the house had to be very clean - I had a box springs covered in plastic. Actually, I probably should have been in a bubble.

Anyhow, Mom had her set days to vacuum, to wash clothes, to wash the sheets. In time, it went from a routine to a full blown obsession, as did most of Mom's edicts.

Many of her edicts didn't make sense, however. Not long after we'd moved away from my beloved Austin, my new school had "Hat Day." I was in third grade now and after so many peer group moves in short succession, (kindergarten and first grade in one school, second grade in another, a new peer group when I went back to my old school for third grade ... and then moving to Arlington after just the first six weeks of third grade), I was struggling to make friends. I was eager to participate in Hat Day. This just seemed perfect for my Donald Duck baseball cap. It was a nice red ballcap with a circle appliqué of Donald's head. Not too kiddie, but cartoons are a great way to start conversations when you're eight.

Mom's edict: no Donald Duck hat for school that day. I was too old for such things and I would be teased.

I was in shock. I argued. I presented cogent arguments. When I realized that logic would not budge her, I whined, wailed and threw everything short of a full-blown fit.

And then I got stubborn. I shoved the cap down the back of my pants. (I had no homework and so I never had a bag to take stuff home ... and if I'd had one, she would have checked that.)

I went to school and my hat was a huge hit, just as I'd known it would be.

All hell broke loose as I attempted to smuggle the hat back into the house. She'd gone looking for it whilst I was at school. I denied, quite plausibly. She couldn't see where I'd hidden it. She screamed. She hollered. She told me she'd invaded my inner sanctum and conducted a thorough search. She KNEW I had worn it to school explicitly against her wishes, and by gum, I was to cough up that damn cap NOW!

I fished it out (and wasn't she just HORRIFIED to discover it was keeping my li'l ass warm when it wasn't on my head) and I handed it over.

It went into the kitchen trash.

I fished it right out.

YOU ARE NOT WEARING THAT AFTER WHERE IT'S BEEN!

She yanked it out of my hands and threw it in the trash again. This time I did throw a complete and total fit. I had disobeyed and been caught and I fully expected punishment. But this? This didn't seem like a punishment to fit the crime to my about-to-turn-nine-years-old mind. Grounding, no TV, no hats for a month. But throwing away my favourite Disney World souvenir because I wore the cap to school on Hat Day????

(And no, I'm still not over that hat. I see a red ball cap like that to this day and whine about my Donald Duck cap.)

There were other edicts passed down through the years. A favourite one is that you have to make a recipe EXACTLY like the recipe card or book says. If an ingredient says "(optional)" next to it, that comment you ignore. Everything on that card goes into that recipe, darnit! It got to the point where I hated it when my mom made "Grandma's Chocolate Cake" ... because she always put nuts in the frosting. I like nuts, but not in that frosting. And they made the roof of my mouth itch, which didn't make for a pleasant birthday cake, really.

Once, after a hard day at high school, I decided I wanted some chips and dip. We didn't have any dip. So I thought for a moment. Most dips were either cheese based or sour cream based. I got out the sour cream, dumped some in a bowl and headed to the spice rack. I don't recall now everything I dumped in there ... it was more of an open the jar, sniff and dump kind of thing. Hey, that smells good, put some of that in there.

I sat down to enjoy my snack and my little sister waltzes in. I share, not super willingly as I really hadn't made enough for two people, but I do let her have some. We're chowing down happily.

INT. HOUSE - KITCHEN - AFTERNOON

ENTER Mom

MOM: Where did you get that?
LI'L RED MONKEY: From the fridge.
MOM (horrified): That wasn't in there this morning. Where did you get it?
LI'L RED MONKEY: I made it.
MOM (panicked now): Where's the recipe? (looks around frantically)
LI'L RED MONKEY: There's not one, I just added stuff to it until I liked it.
MOM: You can't DO that!
LI'L RED MONKEY: Why?
MOM: You have to have a recipe! You'll get food poisoning and die!

I think I was about 15. You can imagine the snotty teenaged reactions after that. Unfortunately, my sister did get a stomach upset after eating it, which just further codified Mom's belief that You Must Always Have a Recipe Created By a Licensed Chef.

Never mind that my sister was lactose intolerant and just ate a bunch of sour cream ....

Don't confuse Mom with facts. It's not nice.

The interesting thing to me, though, is how all of Mom's edicts were supposedly designed to keep us as collectible children in mint condition ....

Posted by Red Monkey at 12:15 PM | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 8, 2007

Paddington Bear ARRESTED

Prime Minister Brown is set to take on illegal immigration in the U.K. and has served notice by going after one of the most loved and well-known illegal immigrants in the U.K. - Paddington Bear.

"It's an outrage!" claimed Paddington from his home West London after his initial release pending further investigation. "I was a mere cub and was forced onto the boat by my auntie. I knew nothing of immigration papers or applications."

However, a neighbor in Notting Hill recalls a gleeful young Paddington bragging about beating the system. "He was constantly laughing at me and telling me to call the Border and Immigration Agency but that it would do no good. He said he knew someone on the inside and that I was simply a cranky curry to be tossed in the bin and thought of no more."

"I may be from darkest Peru," the angry bear stated early in the day from his holding cell, "but I know this is just a ploy to boost his polls. I don't understand why the government must persecute me in this way."

The Home Office had this to say: "We are taking a robust approach to tracking down people who have no right to be here and removing them from the UK."

However, Mr. Bear's family and friends claim this is all a dark plot to paint Mr. Bear as a terrorist. "We just don't understand why the government would make these claims! Certainly his fur is a sand tan colour, but he is Peruvian, not Middle Eastern. This is racial profiling at its absolute lowest form - because it's not even based on facts, just the appearance of a different ethnicity."

Long-time friend and companion, Pooh Bear of 100 Acre Woods, declared he overheard two bobbies claiming Paddington Bear quite obviously fit the profile of a suicide bearer. "I mean, indeed!" exclaimed Mr. Pooh Bear. "Everyone is quite well aware that the phrase is suicide bomber, not bearer. This is simply gross bearism in its most heinous form."

Mr. Bear has resided at 32 Windsor Gardens, Notting Hill, west London since his arrival in the U.K. some fifty years ago.

BBC article regarding the arrest here.

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:59 AM | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

November 7, 2007

Losers. Failure. Despair.

Quite a while back, I discovered a little website with some funny posters ... and, not being one of the great dissatisfied at the time, promptly forgot about it. I snickered my ass off in 2001 when they filed a trademark for :-( and "threatened" to sue some seven million email users for trademark infringement. I snickered harder when I realized that despite the obvious satire of the entire Despair site and definitely of the press release about the trademark, people took this stuff seriously.

I rediscovered the site in early 2006 when I was finally trying to adjust to the corporate world ... and fell in love. They are true motivational posters.

For example, my favourite one remains:

     

The story of this website is one of those, "Good lord, what the heck is wrong with me for not doing this myself" kind of deals. Essentially two brothers and a friend were working at a company who was jerking them around ... as companies are wont to do. They sat around making up "fake" motivational posters one day as they flipped through a "real" motivational poster catalog ... and the idea was born. When they got their "settlement" money from the buyout of the company they worked for, they took it, raised more capital ... and began to discover and create Despair.

So far as I can tell, they've spun off all of the customer disservice and fulfillment duties to a sister company, Amplifier, and Despair itself is just a handful of people. (One article said just one of the founders ... another said four people.)

Other favourites:









     

Today, of course, Despair has branched out a bit. You can pick your favourite DeMotivators and make a calendar out of them. You can get the pessimist's mug. DespairWear is taking off in a big way. And, of course, there's the book.

Enjoy! Check out more from www.despair.com.

Except you won't find this one over there ... what? you really didn't think after getting laid off I'd be able to resist, did you?

The truly funny thing? When I signed up for Despair's email list, every person in the marketing department was frustrated. We wanted to make cool, hip, edgy emailers like the beautiful sarcasm in the Wailing List emails. But, dealing with a product that really wasn't very cool, hip or edgy, we were destined to relative dullness.

And when I went to my high school reunion, someone brought up Despair. Turns out that I went to high school with two of the three founders. And one of them sat in front of me during Spanish class. He was a kinda quiet guy, into art and poetry. We had a lot of fun commiserating on the idiotic tendencies toward conformity in my high school. He found it amusing that I was in serious trouble at home because I refused to have my senior picture taken. You see, for our yearbook picture senior year, we all wore the exact same outfit. The guys had a suit/tux thing ... and the women had this weird black dress top with a seemingly feather boa. Okay, it was a bit nicer looking than a feather boa ... but still.

My senior class was full of rebels and non-conformists. And yet, every one I can think think of who insisted on individuality and not following the herd ... every single one of them had their senior pictures taken like that. So "Eric" found it amusing that despite all the people in common we knew, I was the only one stupid enough or stubborn enough to actually refuse to have my picture taken like that.

It's funny. I know a lot of people who can't remember their childhoods at all. Many who can't remember high school. But I can still picture "Eric" sitting in front of me during Spanish. There were perhaps 3 of us in the class who would cruise through the work with no effort, which left Eric and I with a lot of time to chat and pass notes. I can remember some intense conversations ... but not quite so much the specifics of what we talked about.

Odd how small the world can be. And how excellent it is that a guy I used to worry about on a regular basis for the despair that he seemed to have back then ... how excellent is it that he has turned that "characteristic" (for lack of a better word) into such a wonderful business.

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September 7, 2007

WHY?

Scout does not understand why I must torture her. She is a cute, sweet li'l girl of a tiny li'l puppy dog. WHY would I want to torture her until she must hide far far away, tucked into a nice cuddly safe spot?

scout hiding behind pillow

 

scout hiding behind pillow

 

Poor little thing. All tucked in, shivering, abandoned and alone. Her little toys too far away to cuddle with and too scared to go get them and comfort herself.

And why? What torture did I invoke?

I vacuumed the dining room and kitchen ... and was nowhere near where she was at all.

I'm just mean that way, I guess.

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September 3, 2007

Still Busy ...

Cocoa Mulch
Cocoa Mulch
Cocoa Mulch

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August 28, 2007

Very Very Very Busy

Without any warning from Nautilus/Bowflex at all ... eight boxes of THIS came today.

I'll be busy putting it together for a few days. And after that? I'll be busy becoming svelte and shit.

Oh, and then next week the drawing table should be here. I'm gonna be real tired for a while.

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August 24, 2007

64

I love computers. I have ever since I saw the Commodore-64 in junior high. There was a thrill of discovery for everything we did. I never knew what I would find on one of those 5 1/4" diskettes.

My dad got into computers back in the day of full room, punch card, ridiculous tubes and all. The thought of a tiny little computer at home which could hold a whole 64 KB of memory (and had no hard drive!) was irresistible to him. He and his buddies swapped computer programs, eventually cracking or writing tools for each other to use to beat the copyrights on the few programs they actually purchased.

As a result, we NEVER had the directions to any of the programs we had -- and there was no W3 to go look things up on just yet. So for me, everything about computers involved discovery. Not only did I usually not know what was on a disk, but how to play the game or use the word processor was a process of explorations. I still remember a game called Bugaboo that we never did really figure out beyond making the little guy hop. When I first played the game, I did my usual: hit every key once until I found out the controls for that game. You died a lot trying to brute force your way through the controls of a game like that, but that was all right. It was part of the adventure. And adventure is rarely as much fun with a clear map as without.

Of course, using that method to figure out the word processor was a lot more tedious and involved figuring out how to access the help menu and then lots of tedious handwriting of directions. Then the directions were typed into the computer and then printed out so the whole family could use them. It was kind of a wacky process.

Flash forward to today when I've got a little flash USB drive that holds 64 Megs of info. 64 MBs of info. That little C-64 seems pretty silly to me now. It couldn't do a whole lot. And what it could do it took forever to do.

But I learned to open up a program and start digging around in it. I learned a little bit about how computers think. That little machine was one of the best teachers I ever had.

I think of my students over the last nine years. I moved from teaching in a "traditional" classroom (desk chairs, a podium and chalkboards) to teaching in a net-worked computer classroom. I was the only instructor at Notre Dame to move my writing class into the computer classroom. Why'd I do it?

I watched first-year students struggle so much with their computers. They couldn't figure out how to do automated page numbers. I had one student who didn't know you could tell the word processor to double-space your paper. That student had been manually hitting return at the end of every line and another return to make the paper looked double-spaced. They knew they hit the save button, but they couldn't find the file unless they opened up Word and used the "Recent Files" list. Learning to use the university webmail program to attach a file gave some of them conniptions.

But the Dean of First Year Studies, who has very recently retired, I believe, insisted that "these kids grew up with computers, they don't need a computer class." Never mind the student, who at the height of the 3.5" floppy disk, tried to put his disk in upside down and backwards; never mind the student who picked up her mouse and placed it on the computer screen and wanted to know why the cursor wouldn't move; never mind the graduate student who couldn't find the "My Computer" icon on his plain and nearly empty desktop.

I felt sorry for my students, truth be told. So many of them struggled with their computers and their minimal computer skills. I'd spend a day showing them the basic ins and outs of Word - changing fonts, font size, color, centering, doing page numbers and indents. All sorts of basic word processing skills. I didn't even get into adding pictures or graphs or integrating with Excel. If we had enough time in a semester and they requested it, I'd even show them some rudimentary HTML.

But mostly, I wanted to teach them to play with their computers as much as I wanted them to play with their writing. I wanted them to explore both. I think those who did begin exploring really got something out of the class. Those who thought I was a jerk for trying to do stuff that "so obviously wasn't about writing," well, they didn't get much out of the class. I never stopped trying to reach those kids, though.

Think what we could accomplish if we could just explore and play a little bit more.

Thank goodness for that Commodore-64. Easily the best $500 my Dad ever spent on anything.

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August 20, 2007

Lamar High School ... 1987

Lamar High School ... 20 Year Reunion ... Arlington, Texas

For some incredibly geeky reason, I've been looking forward to this since ... well, since a couple of months out of high school. Here's the basic skinny:

Reunions by the Party People
Friday, October 19th, 2007 ... Ice Breaker Party ... J. Gilligan's ... 8:00p.m. - Midnight

Saturday, October 20th, 2007 ... Reunion Celebration ... (Casual Attire) ... Rangers Ballpark in Arlington ... 7:30p.m. - Midnight

More info? Check out http://www.alumniclass.com/lamarhstx/

There's a slew of people I have not been able to find that I would love to meet up with there. I've gotten in touch with Lori Goe and Annette Simonini ... but I'm still looking for:
Janet Kim (Kyungah)
Brenda Heath
Kate McDonald
Shannon Heizer
Suzanne Gruchow (even tho you moved before going to Lamar!)
Veronica Cano
Susan Stetson
Anna Tan
Amy Alexander
Ashley Aguilar
Kristi Grimm
Alison Campbell
Paula Gill
Lisa Pawloski
Suzanne Scott
Jill Stewart
Jenny Britton
Tracy McGuire

And, of course, there are a slew of other folks that I'd like to catch up with again as well.

Really, I just posted this in the hopes that those people who haven't found out about the reunion can perhaps hit this info thru Google since the info's not all that easy to find.

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August 3, 2007

Can't Be Careful on a Skateboard II

I adore the X-Games. We have DISH and a DVR now, so I can actually WATCH the X-Games. So it was with great anticipation that I waited for the DVR to flip the channel last night.

I was excited to see some "no-name" (Scott Murray) from Helps, Michigan, make it to the X-Games. It's great when some "youngster" gets a shot at the big time. But my word ... the first event was the skateboard Big Air and the ramp!! Take a peek:

 

These dudes are just flying over this thing, doing tricks across the gap, land that, then go up the vert wall as high as possible (they were mostly hitting right around 18-20 feet high), do a trick and then, of course, land it. Scoring was on both how high they could go and how impressive their two tricks were. For this, you've got to have the tightest trucks you can imagine (I know most of you don't know much about skateboarding - loose trucks = wobbliness and easy turns ... tight trucks = less wobble, much more difficult to make a turn).

Jake Brown from Australia does a freaking 720 degrees of rotation across that gap. SEVEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY degrees of rotation! He's going fast, fast, fast. Up the quarter pipe ... and then:

 

He falls about 50 feet. I'm not gonna show him hitting. I was totally flipping out. I've never seen a pro boarder hit that hard. It was insane. I thought he was dead, or paralyzed ... the whole place was just chilled. One skateboarder friend said he was sure that Jake was dead, because when he got up there, the dude's eyes were open but he wasn't breathing.

No effin' way! Jake Brown hobbled off the ramp. I'm still waiting to hear how much damage was done, but the dude was able to walk (sort of) away.

Unreal.

What I find most interesting is the reactions of those into extreme sports ... and those who don't understand them at all. For me, I know I would never ever be of the skill level to attempt a mega-ramp like that. But would I push myself to do some skillz-appropriate similar stunt? Yeah, sure I would. It's about defining a goal and feeling that utter freedom ... the rush of speed ... the wind ... pushing yourself to your limits until you achieve what you set out to achieve.

Those people who are not so much into extreme sports look at just the ramp and ask WHY?

And so far as I can tell, it's because we all feel that freedom and expression of stretching and joy in completely different ways. For some of us, it's the challenge to program something more efficiently which works better, to design something more efficiently, to write something which captures a universal longing.

There's a million ways that we feel that need to express and share and push ourselves. And, not everyone is going to "get" all of those ways.

But when you're watching someone who truly loves their way of expressing ... well, to me, even watching Jake damn near kill himself, watching skateboarding for me is probably what listening to a really good symphonic orchestra playing Beethoven is to someone else.

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July 30, 2007

Jesus Talks

This is a satirical post. If you are super-sensitive about religion, ya might not wanna read this post. In fact, I should probably rip off the intro to Kevin Smith's Dogma for this. Yeah ... yeah I should.

Disclaimer: 1) a renunciation of any claim to or connection with; 2) disavowal; 3) a statement made to save one's own ass.
Though it'll go without saying ten minutes or so into these proceedings, View Askew would like to state that this film is from start to finish a work of comedic fantasy, not to be taken seriously. To insist that any of what follows is incendiary or inflammatory is to miss our intention and pass judgment; and passing judgment is reserved for God and God alone (this goes for you film critics too...just kidding).
So please before you think about hurting someone over this trifle of a film, remember: even God has a sense of humor. Just look at the Platypus. Thank you and enjoy the show.
P.S. We sincerely apologize to all Platypus enthusiasts out there who are offended by that thoughtless comment about Platypi. We at View Askew respect the noble Platypus, and it is not our intention to slight these stupid creatures in any way. Thank you again and enjoy the show.

Okay, so this isn't a film and has nothing to do with Kevin Smith. But yanno ... sense of humour ... satire ... it fits ... really.

According to the BBC, Walmart will soon be test marketing a new line of action figures and toys in 425 of their 3300 stores in the U.S. I believe the toy line is called the Tales of Glory ... a Bible based set of action figures as well as a 12" (the "big" G.I. Joe size) talking Jesus doll who quotes scriptures and three inch high preschooler figure of Daniel and the lion's den.

I can see it now ...

Loki: Hey, Danny. Guess what I got for Christmas? I got the big collector edition of Optimus Prime and I got the new Spiderman playset and a stormtrooper blaster that fires pieces of potato. What'd you get?

Daniel: Well, I got Jesus for Christmas. (beat) Wanna hear him talk about fishing for men? (whispered) Do you think Jesus was gay? I mean, he's fishing for men ... and he only hung out with the disciples and they were all men.

Act NOW and get a BONUS tape for your Talking Jesus with fun quotes like these:

"Great, you got GOD for Christmas and all I got was a lousy manger full of hay. Do you have ANY idea how scratchy a bed of hay is?"

Coming soon:
Talking Paul ... he'll read you the book of Leviticus and remind you of such things as:
Don't play football (you can't touch the skin of a dead pig) (11)
Don't eat blood. (17:10)
And ... the story of the Good Samaritan will play every other time you pull Jesus' string! No more will you have peace as you blithely pass by the homeless begging for booze and food and work ... no more will you be able to pass a broken down car on the side of the road without your good little Christian children telling you that you should stop and help because Jesus SAID SO.

and soooooo much more!

Hurry, order your child's indoctrination today!

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July 21, 2007

Deathly Hallows - No Spoilers

It was excellent.

I need time to digest it and then go back and re-read it again ... I'm sure in my haste to finish it, I missed a LOT of Rowling's subtleties.

I will say ... I'm happy, I'm satisfied ... it all made sense without any of the annoyances of the locked room mysteries which neglect to give the reader some vital piece of information so the reader couldn't possibly figure it out.

There were, perhaps, not the utterly stunning surprises that tricked me in early books ... but that was because I'd become a much more cautious reader than before. It's easy to think you know how Hollywood does things ... and be surprised when a movie doesn't follow the formula (it happens so bloody rarely). But the ever clever Rowling had so many beautiful touches that I did not expect ... and yet, really, i should have. It was all there.

At any rate ... an excellent read. If you haven't read the books, they are worthwhile. And the ending ...

it's the ending. comments/what.gif

(What about Snape? .... ain't tellin!)

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July 20, 2007

Buffy-Fest 2007

Which is not quite the same as Slayer-Fest 1998 ... but close.

When you gonna get this, B? The life of a slayer's very simple:
Want
Take
Have

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July 18, 2007

Tuff Guy

Yeah ... what a tuff li'l hombre in my boots and cowboy hat with the vest mom made me. The skirt, of course, was relegated to the floor of the closet the instant I saw it. What righteous cowboy wears a frigging SKIRT?

hehehehe

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July 7, 2007

Notre Damn Strikes Back

Well, Notre Damn didn't really strike back, but it sounded like a good title.

I just had to share this tidbit as I was perusing my stats (which I forgot to look at for about the last three months). Someone from Toledo, Ohio, hit my site with this search string in Google:

who called Notre Dame "Notre Damn"

LMFAO

I'm the third hit on Google for that string. It goes to this little story, which I'll repost now, because, well, it makes me laugh still.

I hate the telephone. I was never one of those teenagers from whom you had to surgically remove the phone from the ear. In fact, once the internet really matured, I'd so much rather deal with an email or even an IM than the phone. Why? Well, I choose when to do my email or IM. The phone interrupts at any given moment with its shrill and demanding call.

Most of my friends know how much I hate the phone and so, we rarely get calls at our house ... so much so that it's become habit now to think "wow, what important thing has happened that someone had to actually call us?" when the phone rings.

So telemarketers really bug the crap outa me.

So, last night the phone rings and this young woman's voice comes piping out, "Hello, this is Muffy O'Donnell. May I speak with Red Monkey?"

Now about half the time if I don't recognize the voice or the name, I might just hang up. Friends who thought I would certainly recognize their voice have long since learned I don't recognize voices well. I figure hanging up now is saving the telemarketer time and money. They're not gonna get a damn thing out of me, so now they know and they can dial the next number on their list and maybe make some money off that mark.

If I'm in a decent enough mood, I might attempt to be polite. Last night was somewhere in between polite and really really onery. I decided to answer literally and honestly and see what happened. She asked if she could speak with Red Monkey and I answered:

"Sure."

Pause as she waits for me to put Red Monkey on the phone. "Hello?"

"Yes, we've done that part already."

I can now feel the confusion coming through the phone line. "Umm, well, is this Red Monkey?"

"Speaking."

"Oh, well, like I said, this is Molly Maguire and I'm a student here at the University of Notre Dame."

"I'm sorry."

Pause. "Hello???"

"I didn't go anywhere."

"Umm, so I'm a sophomore at Notre Dame and --"

"Yeah, I heard you the first time. I said I'm sorry. That's a pretty bad school."

"But ... what? But why? Why would you ... I'm sorry. It is not."

At this point I hung up out of kindness. The kid is likely trying to raise money for a school that has more money than most state school systems, and she's probably getting a small commission on each "sale" she makes. If I have to take the time to explain to her exactly why the education that she's getting there is deficient, well, she'll never make any money!

I'm curious to see if I get another phone call from them, though.

(Oh, and the title of this post? That's from an IM conversation I had right after I got off the phone. I was explaining to someone who had called and typo'd Notre Dame as Notre Damn. Given my feelings about that place, it seemed faaaar more appropriate!)

Apparently, however, this is an old stand-by for non-Notre Dame fans ... and, in fact, looking at some of the Google hits for just the "Notre Damn" search string, apparently it's a common typo.

Has ND ever called back? Yep. And, they sent me some bullshit letter about how lucky I am to work there, and shouldn't I give them money. I grabbed a Sharpie marker and told them to NEVER contact me again. They sent a letter apologizing (OMG, someone there knows HOW to apologize for something? AND has the decency to DO so?????) Alas, other departments still send me crap from time to time. It all goes in the recycling now.

Sad that it's still so painful. Maybe I'll get around to posting about that one day. Maybe not.

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July 3, 2007

Bagthorpes

I adore the Bagthorpes. And, having FINALLY placed hands on the elusive The Bagthorpe Triangle by Helen Cresswell, I must share a bit of the humour of this book ... whether you want it or not. comments/bad_egg.gif

"I feel all of a frazzle," I told 'im. "As if my right arm don't know what my left leg's doing." It's 'orrible.
... Nor could anyone else [imagine such a thing]. Jack could not help wondering if your right arm needed to know what your left leg was doing. He tried mentally to connect up these two parts of his anatomy, and the effect was quite strange. He immediately abandoned the experiment, out of a real fear of ending up like Mrs Fosdyke.

Oh my, but I love these books. I think ... perhaps ... finally ... I have them all now. I've been haunting eBay and used bookstores for the last couple ... there are nine total, I think.

Not quite Harry Potter, of course, but FAR funnier. Then again, Harry Potter was never meant to be funny. (Can you tell I'm ready for July 21?)

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July 1, 2007

Stripes of Lies

I was a candy striper.

I admit it. I need the volunteer work points so that I could be in the Honors Society in high school. I'm not sure why I needed that, I never went to any meetings. Oh yeah, so that I could have a great transcript thingy to show colleges.

At any rate, myself, Kyungah (Janet) and Trisha worked Sunday mornings, 8 to noon. We attempted to be assigned to the children's wing, but alas, on Sunday morning they needed us to go all over the hospital.

Understand ... I was 15, I didn't want to be there, I didn't think anything we did was of any importance, and we didn't get paid.

We didn't have the world's best, most altruistic and helpful attitudes. Well, at least I didn't.

So, we wandered from nurse's station to nurse's station every Sunday morning. We were supposed to get a 15 minute break, but the cafeteria was right next to the "Pink Ladies" station ... the older, retired volunteers who would give us additional jobs. If we didn't manage to sneak into the cafeteria, we didn't get a break at all.

Breaks and "fairness" take on a great deal of importance at 15.

So, we began hanging out in the 4th floor auditorium for our breaks instead.

Now, one detail about me as a kid:
I made up stories.

Whether it was spinning a tale of utter fiction on paper and calling it the beginning of a novel or answering a friend's question with a totally implausible answer (and somehow, a straight face), I enjoyed making things up.

So ... bored out of my wits one day whilst doing the whole candy striping thing, I decided to have some fun with Trisha. We took our break in the 4th floor auditorium and someone had left a few lights on. Far from making it more comfortable, the room was now creepier than ever. And, for whatever mad reason, I decided to begin spinning some story-lies. I don't remember exactly how I started ... something about my parents being abusive and mean. No details, just generalities.

So, when I was seven, I just couldn't take it anymore. I went out to the shed in the backyard and got an ax. And I killed them both.
Oh, you did not, Red Monkey. Kyungah has been over to your house and met your parents before.
No, she met my adoptive parents. My birth parents are the ones I killed. But ... (I rubbed my face a little and with the anticipation of getting her to laugh, I started grinning ... I just couldn't keep a straight face any longer.) ... but my adoptive parents are starting to get on my nerves now. I'm thinking of doing them in too. You won't tell on me, will you?

What I hadn't really fully understood when I decided to tease Trisha with this story was that
One ... she was truly one of the most gullible people I'd ever met in my life.
Two ... umm, yeah. I should have noticed this part, but umm ... yeah. I was sitting under a can light. So I was lit from above and it was one of the very few lights in the room. I'm guessing the effect must have been rather creepy.

Of course, being me, I just couldn't comprehend that someone would buy this story, particularly not when I kept laughing through most of it. (Again, I couldn't see myself with that can light coming down ... in retrospect, I'm sure that between the lighting and the laughing, it was actually pretty creepy ... I mean, who laughs at that except serial killers?)

So, there was a knot of girls in high school, all seniors, who were just terrified of my little sophomore self. (Was a 10-12 school.)

But, as they say in the commercials, that's not all!

Stunned that Trisha believed me, I teased her mercilessly about it ... that is, on those few occasions I could talk to her ... she seemed to be avoiding me for some reason.

The last day of candy-striping, I had an excellent plan. One that would certainly let her know I was just teasing her.

I grabbed a plastic knife from some fast food place and then got out my mom's happy prismacolor art markers (they're not nearly as nice as my beloved Copics, but I don't think Copics were around then). I coloured the handle and part of the "blade" with a nice grey colour. And then added some red to the tip of the blade. If I remember correctly, I rather artfully let some red trail down the blade as well.

The last day of candystriping, before the start of high school, I "pulled the knife" on her whilst we were in the elevator. I know, I know. I thought it was funny. I was 15.

The look of utter terror on her face was umm, priceless at 15. I fell to the floor of the elevator, I was laughing so hard. I tossed the "deadly weapon" at her, which I think terrified her more as she did a funny little hop-skip out of the elevator. I honestly thought I was going to pee my pants I was laughing so hard.

I hauled that fake knife around high school for days, asking everyone and anyone if it looked even remotely real. No one thought it did, so of course, I teased Trish about it the few times I saw her.

Good thing that was before Columbine and all the rest. I'm sure I'd have been in mandatory, court-ordered counseling (at the LEAST) if that had happened today. But back then, at 15, that was truly the height of hilarity.

Poor Trish.

(Although you would think that someone who had asked me how the elevators worked and I gave some cock and bull story about the old fashioned elevator operators now being put in closets to pull on the ropes ... anything becomes light if you use enough pulleys and leverage ....
you would THINK that a person who'd been thru one of my silly explanations would have twigged that I was kidding her .... ahhhh, youth.)

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June 15, 2007

Dog Days

Fridays are the dog days at work right now ... last week I brought them both, and they were amazingly good. But I only brought both because I thought it would be the only doggy day. Now that it's a regular thing, I'm taking one dog every other week.

Yep, she's sitting on the desk in between me and the keyboard. Happy as can be.

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June 13, 2007

Things that Frighten Me

Whilst the car itself is "just" a Photoshop creation, apparently there are tailpipes out there for real (although I believe research has shown this particular one to be a fake, there's another image out there snapped from a cell phone which is probably legit).

Still ... frightening!

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June 8, 2007

But, OH, What a Ride

So, you've got muscular dystrophy. You can still do stuff. Ben Carpenter rode his motorized wheelchair all over Paw Paw, Michigan. And, as he was attempting to cross the street June 7, 2007, he got a wee li'l bit of a surprise.

The 911 calls flooded fast and furious into the Paw Paw dispatch. Ya see, a semi-truck started to go when the light changed. He couldn't see that Ben was in front of him.

No, don't panic. It was the best possible outcome. The 21 year old Ben got the equivalent of a roller coaster ride in his wheelchair. Pushing the semi up to 50 miles an hour down Red Arrow Highway ... a road I've been on many a time ... it winds back and forth, goes through the woods, and is essentially kinda hilly and woodsy ... anyhow, Mr. Semi Driver didn't know it, but Ben's hand grips managed to get caught in the grill, which meant that Ben had a great view (if he could stand the possibility of bugs in his eyes) as they zoomed through the countryside.

In fact, when all was said and done, Ben was just irritated cuz he spilled his pop. And if he's as addicted to the difficult to find Diet Vanilla Pepsi as I am, I don't blame him!

What I'm incredibly curious about is this ... how the HELL did the wheelchair managed to get facing the exact right way AND the hand grips get lodged exactly right to keep Ben essentially safe and enjoying the ride?????

BBC front page (well, it was on the front page for a while ... and I couldn't believe a local story hit there!)
Local News

Posted by Red Monkey at 12:39 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 18, 2007

Don't Drink and...

Don't drink and park ...

Accidents cause people.

And, from Mastermind at Blogmad:
life is like a raw file. there's so much post processing to do...

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:07 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 16, 2007

Red Monkey

Here's the blog anniversary post for your enjoyment ... Jodi asked a few days? weeks? ago, why the red monkey ... here's the answer. Oh ... and the red monkey graphic? That's not the red monkey that I talk about here ... that's a vector graphic I drew for this blog ... based on one of my other passions: Fisher Price Little People. So now you know.

I love antique stores and junk stores. I have this thing for toys, particularly old toys. I'm fascinated by everything from the packaging and advertising to the toys themselves. The problem is a lot of those so-called antique stores - at least the ones that also sell old toys - are really antique store and collectibles store combos. So I'll see a booth full of Nascar stuff next to one with clothes from the 20s and 30s. Not a big deal, really, it's usually all interesting stuff - if it wasn't for the crazy prices some of the collectibles folks tend to charge.

Anyhow, this is about 1999 or 2000 and I'm walking through a pretty cool antique store when I round the corner to the biggest flippin' display of Ty Beanie Babies I've ever seen. And despite their frenzied, must-have popularity, some of these little guys are really cute and clever. I already had a handful of the things, ones I thought were really cool or cute. I have the otter, the Ireland bear and a few others. (Why haven't they made a dolphin yet??) I also have the first monkey they made, cuz I've always really liked monkeys.

So, in this display case they have this really cool new Beanie Baby I haven't seen yet, a little red monkey with a cute tan face and a little fluff of hair on top of his head. I have to have him. DId I mention that some of these collectible places think they can charge 4-5 times the retail prices on a toy that's just come out? Not a toy that's been out and then discontinued, excuse me, "retired." A toy that is currently being mass produced but just barely started hitting the shelves - those toys are worth the retail price. Not "scalper" prices.

So this scalper booth wants $20 or $25 for a $5 stuffed animal. I stomped past, growling and grousing about opportunistic scalpers and this kind of artificial supply and demand being among the worst of human impulses. I do not "have to have" something like a little stuffed animal so badly that I will pay 5x its actual worth. I would pay $1 or $2 more to have it now - I can be that shallow and that careless about my spending money from time to time. But this, this is not capitalism - it's stupidity. Stupidity on the part of the seller and on the part of anyone who gives in and buys the overpriced goods.

Yeah, my friends are tired of that rant, too.

So, later that night, my friends and I are sitting in the living room watching a movie. It's a pseudo-SF movie called Strange Days. It's an awesome movie set just a touch in the future when people don't just watch reality tv, they experience it through virtual programs on the computer.

Well, I'd seen the movie before and it was fast becoming one of my favorites, but I was a little restless and bored that night. So everyone's really really into the movie, the tension's building and I'm kinda looking around the room. I see my little beanie-baby monkey on the bookshelf.

"I really want that red monkey," I say aloud.

The whole room turns to stare at me in shock. "What?"

The movie had to be paused and rewound a bit. Evidently it was a really intense point in the flick.

"What?" I ask, all wounded innocence and surprised at their reaction.

"Where did that come from?" they reply.

"I was just looking around the room and saw my little monkey and that reminded me of the beanie baby we saw in that store today - " there's much eye-rolling at this pronouncement "-and I just realized that I really want that little monkey."

"We're in this intense part of the movie and you're talking about a stuffed monkey?"

Somehow, my explanation did not help my case at all. "I've seen the movie before" I point out helpfully.

"I repeat, we're in this tense and intense part of the movie and you are thinking about a toy monkey?" The room is staring at me now. Finally someone grabs the remote and flips the movie back to play, muttering, "You are so ADD."

You've maybe seen the t-shirt that says "They say I have ADD, but I don't think ...Hey look! A chicken!" Well, my chicken is a red monkey.

Interestingly enough, a year or so later I was diagnosed as ADHD.

Now, I have a McD's teenie beanie version atop my monitor at work and the regular-sized one in the home office.

So, that's the story of the red monkey.

And now you know lots of important tidbits about me.

So now you know.

Posted by Red Monkey at 1:37 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 14, 2007

Common Ground

My mom and I have never been on spectacular terms. We fought about the length of my hair, the clothes I wore, the interests I had and the toys I liked.

The last few times we've talked, we've finally discovered a common ground.

This last week we discussed the most innocuous of art supplies ... markers. I can remember trips to the university bookstore when I was a kid. The Grumbacher paints in their odd little containers (which I would use to make space shuttles for my action figures) ... the aisle of different kinds of pencils ... colour pencils, black pencils which were other things than a #2. And then, the big display of markers. Prismacolor markers, double-ended markers with a fine tip and a broad tip in more colours than Mr. Binney OR Mr. Smith ever thought of.

I would spend most of the time drooling over the colours, curious about the pastels and the oil crayons ... but mostly fascinated by the markers.

And now I've discovered Copic markers.

It was amazing to have such a wonderful conversation with her ... where she would ask questions and listen to what I had to say. We talked about techniques and papers ... and the colours available ... the fact that they're refillable and you can even change out the nibs as well.

I'm not sure if that was my Mother's Day present to my mom ... or if something else gave a much-needed present to the both of us.

All I know is that I'm incredibly grateful for it.

My sister and I proudly holding aloft one of Mom's 3D projects. They had to build and fly a kite. The star clown that Mom built from a kite-making book didn't quite fly, until she thought fast and creatively and went to a shoe store for some helium filled balloons.

(I liked her other kite best, a big rectangle made to look like an envelope ... complete with a "Return to Sender" note stamped across it. I thought that was pretty clever, too ... enough so that I hung that kite in my room for years. Sadly, I don't have a photo of that one.)

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:51 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 12, 2007

Ambrosia Denied

It's getting harder and harder to find the nectar of the gods. My Diet Vanilla Pepsi ... I swear half of my bloodstream is this stuff. I've been substituting Pepsi's Jazz Caramel Cream ... but it's just not the same. It's not as good.

Today I happened to see a Pepsi guy stocking in one of our local stores ... so I asked him ... that fateful question:
Have they stopped production of the Diet Vanilla Pepsi.

He gave me a pouty face and said, "Yeah. They have."

"SHIT!"

I thought my other half was going to die of embarrassment as I stood in the middle of the grocery store exclaiming a curse word just because Pepsi is no longer making a certain flavour of pop.

But ... then I went tootling around online tonight ... which is what I do ... tootle around online alla time ... and discovered:

Apparently from the picture ... I think it's hopefully coming back. Looks like it from this picture ... that's a new paint job that I've never seen on any of the Diet Vanilla Pepsis.

HURRY UP ... I NEED MY DIET VANILLA PEPSI ... I'M GOING THROUGH WITHDRAWALS ... I NEED IT ... NECTAR OF THE GODS ....

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:31 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 22, 2007

Visual DNA

Read my VisualDNA Get your own VisualDNA™

Read More

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:24 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 4, 2007

Stimulations

I asked Jodi the other day why she paints. And, as I was surfing first Mike's blog and then following the link to fellow 9Ruler blog by James Mathias, I got to thinking about my own creativity.

Since I was very small, I've told stories ... no, not tall-tale lies ... I mean I have always been a writer. Sheesh, damn peanut gallery around here. Anyway, words, I suppose come easily to me ... so easily that I'm convinced there's really nothing special in my writing, despite what others have said. That doesn't mean that I stop writing ... and I do enjoy it. I suppose it simply comes so naturally that it just seems normal to me.

So, in high school, I wrote like a fish swims. Constantly. I wrote my first novel in high school ... and all of my teachers thought that I had suddenly started taking excellent notes. I got an idea for my second novel in the last year of my college years ... and again, my teachers simply thought I was taking excellent notes.

In the in between years, and, in fact, since ... I've not been one of those writers who insists on writing every day ... I've always considered myself a binge writer ... writing when I have something rather than the CONSTANT VIGILANCE of daily practice. (Can you tell I'm ready for the Deathly Hallows to come out???)

I guess my writing has been much more the case of Gordie in Stephen King's "The Body" (or the movie Stand by Me, whichever you prefer): my stories bubble up like bubbles in soda. It just kinda happens.

But since I graduated from a creative writing program, I've been oddly dry of stories. The fizz just kinda up and left for a while, I suppose. Without any real challenges, I went flat.

However, since I started drawing again ... I've noticed not just the desire to practice every day ... but a compulsion to improve what I do and stretch it every day. Not because "great artists" or paid artists or whatever, draw every day ... but because I was not given the same "easy" gift at drawing that I was at writing, it's more of a challenge to me. And that challenge is eminently more interesting to my li'l ole ADHD self than the ease that writing had become.

I suppose that is why I'm drawn to comic books, cartoons and graphic novels ... I can combine writing and drawing ... a segment with which I'm very confident and secure ... and another where I can feel myself stretching and beginning to achieve what I want. The challenge of it all stimulates me further.

I suppose it's the fact that I have to concentrate on a good story ... character design ... backgrounds ... how to show the action ... shading ... highlights ...

There's just so much more to do. So much, in fact, that I've noticed myself stopping to look at how a cartoonist will set things up ... how they shade ... how they make things "imperfect" and thereby make it more real. It's all fascinating to me. And I've noticed that I've begun seeing almost everything in shapes instead of seeing objects.

No point to this post, I suppose ... just a bit of an internal dialgue into just how my mind and eyes are working lately.
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Posted by Red Monkey at 12:41 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 2, 2007

Intelligent Design

Typos are a good thing sometimes. Take this classic typo today in a chatroom:

I am of today.

Now, what the dude meant was ... for once he had the day off work after working 34928057234059823 days in a row.

But really ... how existential is this?

I am of today. Doesn't that hold true for all of us?

Despite the fact that many of us worry incessantly about the future and many of us live or are controlled by our pasts ... we are actually simply beings of today.

Many cultures, most notably the American southwestern native tribes, have no verb tense for future or past. Instead, time ... such as it is ... was notated by the context. I am going up the mountain. I am going up the mountain yesterday. Sounds strange to us since we're so incredibly ruled by time, counting the minutes until our time is "our own" again instead of the clock's or the spouse's or "the man's."

Those who don't recall the past are doomed to repeat it.
Those who don't plan for the future are doomed to live it.

And yet ... really ... that is a true phrase: I am of today. I can choose my own destiny, my own outcomes, my own "tapes" to play in my head ... today.

I am of today.

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:43 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 6, 2007

Feeling Random

Just saw someone in a shoutbox deciding to run their own blog traffic site ... they were being silly ... but it gave birth to this bit of insanity.


The new traffic generator that's sweeping the blogosphere ... that's right ... join us and you'll never want for quality traffic -- or quality ideas for your blog -- ever again!

BlogBoreded Dot Com ... where you go when you're tired of listening to yourself type alone
BlogBoreded Dot Com ... steal the ideas that come naturally to other people
BlogBoreded Dot Com ... you might lead a bloody boring life ... but then so does everyone else
BlogBoreded Dot Com ... inflict your pain upon the world whine web

Meanwhile, anyone wanna donate to my "I want a new 17" macbook pro" fund? I mean, it's not like buying Heather new boobs (has she given that site up yet?) ... or the televangelist that my great-grandma used to send money to because he said he wanted a new pink Cadillac ... wait ... I guess it is the same. Crap.

Posted by Red Monkey at 2:29 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 5, 2007

Wheels

Let's see ...

50s skateboard
70s skateboard
happy happy World Industries board
Stowboard
Mountain board
Long board
Practice board (without wheels) ... with a deck of my own design
Pivit

and now

The Wave ....
2 wheels ... 360 degree casters ... OMG

Yeah, I'm crazy. Don't care. More from me after I break some bones on this thing and am forced back to the computer.

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:02 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 19, 2007

Drama Drama Drama

There are more drama queens online than in the gay bars anymore.

What?

I'm just saying.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:36 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 8, 2007

The Mind Boggles

Oh my. Oh dear. I mean, really.

Run to see the newest thing in model railway accessories. I KNOW you're not all that interested. But you really really really do wanna see this. Trust me. You do.

The mind boggles.

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:38 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 2, 2007

Whirling Dervish

1. Go to amazon.com
2. Remove everything from the address bar, then copy & paste the following into it:
javascript:R=0; x1=.1; y1=.05; x2=.25; y2=.24; x3=1.6; y3=.24; x4=300; y4=200; x5=300; y5=200; DI=document.images; DIL=DI.length; function A(){for(i=0; i-DIL; i++){DIS=DI[ i ].style; DIS.position='absolute'; DIS.left=Math.sin(R*x1+i*x2+x3)*x4+x5; DIS.top=Math.cos(R*y1+i*y2+y3)*y4+y5}R++}setInterval('A()',5); void(0);
3. Hit enter.

This will work on any site using HTML to place the images ... if the site uses CSS to position the images, it won't work. Don't believe me? Try it on this page and you'll see the two Mooninite images move to a different spot ... but they won't whirl for you. Try the CSS Zen Garden ... won't work there either.

Enjoy!
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Posted by Red Monkey at 11:00 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

January 22, 2007

Playing Dress Up

I'm a member of a wonderful church - wait! this isn't a religious, church post, I swear it! You just have to understand a little bit about our church in order to understand the story.

Back in the late 80s, the congregation was thinning out, people having moved and died. The remaining folks brainstormed for a few years, did studies ... trying to decide to what group or groups they felt a call to mission.

In the early 90s, they decided to become "open and affirming," meaning that they would not turn anyone away due to race, disability, sex, AIDS status or sexuality ... or any other issue. They reasoned that Jesus often reached out to those whom society rejected ... and so they should follow that example.

Fast forward to two winters ago ... time for our bi-annual coffee house. Our MC for the evening's entertainment was a lovely man who does a nice, clean-ish drag act. I mean, if you've ever seen a real drag act ... ummm ... wow ... some of these folks would make a sailor or a longshoreman blush a brilliant red! But "Jake" has a nice act which includes a mild version of the cattiness that keeps it fun ... and family-friendly.

In the audience this night is "Michael," his mom, "Judy" ... and Judy's two granddaughters, around age 5 or so.

The girls are utterly and completely entranced with MC Jake ... or "Ginny" as he was called that evening. Now, there are three basic types of drag queens. One, the idiots who think they look good ... but they don't. Think of some of those folks who audition for American Idol who honestly think they are a gift to singing - and they're really really really not. Two, the ones who look wonderful. A lot of these drag queens you might never know were biologically male.

The third category is gender-fook. These drag queens are simply playing with the various gender roles in voice, appearance, mannerism and the like. Maybe not shave the beard, but wear a dress. Maybe talk with a deep voice, but have beautiful make-up. Basically, they're challenging what is male and female roles and stereotypes and having fun blending everything together.

Ginny was this type.

Apparently Michael's girls were completely fascinated with "Ginny" and her wardrobe changes. HERE was a grown-up who understood dress up in ways they had never fathomed! There were no questions about whether Ginny/Jake was male or female. All the girls saw was a grown up who understood how to play.

For the next week or two, both girls played dress up incessantly ... but not just dress-up, no! Michael got a great kick out of telling people that his girls were playing "Drag Queen Dress Up" ... proudly MCing imaginary shows, artful use of scarves around the neck ... and, apparently, some questioning of Daddy as to how they could draw beards on themselves.

If playing dress up ... if playing pretend ... is about stretching our minds to the edges of what is possible instead of merely plausible, these girls have a head start on learning to think outside the box.

Remember, there is no spoon.

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:03 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

January 16, 2007

Good Things to Know

1) Drinking too much water too fast can kill you. BBC (Yes, I put this in here because of the "Hold your wee for a Wii" contest)
2) Being boreded is a bad thing.
3) The word boreded is my trademark word. I use "Dude" a lot too.
4) I only take 3 maintenance prescriptions a day. How many do you take? (My sister seems to think this is a lot ... but I'm an asthmatic ... well so is she ... still.)
5) Many people do NOT want to LOOK for something. They want someone else to miraculously know the answer. Now, look. I know we all get in a hurry and want a fast answer. But when someone tells you "I don't know where the "do this" option is on this website ... then answering with "I don't see it?" doesn't miraculously make the answer clear to everyone else. And why a question, anyway? "I don't see it?" Do you not know if you see it or not? Do you have difficulties?
6) I'm apparently cranky with most people lately.
7) I do not understand why people refuse to poke around a website or computer program and learn the answers they need for themselves. If you go look for it and find it ... you're far more likely to remember it. If it's told to you once, you'll probably have to ask again.
8) I have learned the definition of "stupid question." A stupid question is one which you have asked the same person more than once, expecting to get a different answer.
9) Starting Effexor and a beta blocker on the same day makes you really sleepy.
10) Moving to an office which actually has actual sunlight and not just fluorescent buzzing lightbars makes for a more pleasant work environment and actually improves productivity.

And there you are. Some good things to know.

Now ... how many meds do YOU take a day? Really. Cuz I want to get my sister to calm down and quit worrying about me.

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:56 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 31, 2006

Vinyl Redux

So, my grand idea for a Christmas present for my aunt and uncle was to convert some of their old vinyl records into CDs. I remember they've got a ton of vinyl from the summer that I spent with them back when I was 13 (and vinyl was still a better choice than cassettes ... and there were no CDs yet). I've got a USB record player that plugs direction into my computer, and I've been attempting to get through my own small stack of records.

So, Christmas day, I make sure that my mom opens her present early ... I've already converted some of our Kingston Trio records for Mom ... designed new covers and tray cards and even labels. So I wanted my aunt and uncle to see that before I told them that I'd do the same thing for them.

Not only did Mom flip out when she saw (and heard!!! much more important, that) what I had done with those records, but when I told my aunt to pick out some favourites and I'd do the same for them ... wow. Talk about some eyes lighting up. She looked like a giddy schoolgirl the day the first Paul Simon solo album debuted.

For the remainder of the short trip, any time that it looked like my aunt might have a few minutes, I reminded her about choosing some vinyl for me to take home. Finally, the morning I was to leave, she trekked down to the basement for a look-see.

She came upstairs with just a crushed look. I know she thought they'd gotten rid of the vinyl at some point during their moves. But my uncle was positive the vinyl was still there. He trekked down and came back a few minutes later. Bundled with armfuls of records, we spread them out on the huge Heywood-Wakefield dining table from the 60s (or was that 50s? it was Grandma's first).

Both of my cousins, my sister, her husband, my aunt, my uncle, me ... we're all in this crazy daze (not a crazy daizie ... that's something else entirely) ... we're all frantically looking through these musty records ... amazed at the original Beatles pressings (yes, I said originals ... and damn, if they're not in great condition, too).

There's the pressing of the soundtrack to Hair ... There Goes Rhymin' Simon ... some Cat Stevens ... some Kenny Loggins ... The Kingsmen ... various people from Woodstock ... Joan Baez.

By the time we leave, I've got about 50 records between those my aunt, uncle and cousins have selected ... a couple I added to the pile ... and the slew of records that my grandmother dug up whilst we were all lost in time looking at my aunt and uncle's records.

Now, I've got Kingston Trio, Dean Martin, Barbra Streisand, Joan Baez ... and on and on.

It's going to be a fun few months, exploring music I've always loved along with songs that I've never heard before. The fun part will be deciding which of the 50 will also get full graphics treatment as well as being converted to digital music.

But you know, I love my aunt and uncle ... I adore my Grandma ... and my cousins are just as excited about this as I am. 'tis a good thing all in all. comments/what.gif

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:09 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 30, 2006

Men Can't Sculpt

Geek time. Just a warning.

WTF is wrong with the companies producing action figures, huh? Look, we all know that the "realistic" looking action figures are sculpted largely by comic book geeks for comic book geeks. However, check out this new offering of Supergirl:

Now, this particular picture does not really do justice to the hideousness of the male neck which dominates this figure. I saw this toy in Target the other day and, for a moment, I thought, "Hey, I wouldn't mind having that figure -- they finally got a female figure --"

I trailed off as I picked her up off the peg hook.

Hideousness incarnate.

Now, I've collected action figures for quite some time. And I've noticed a couple of things. First, toy executives are absolutely, positively convinced that female action figures do not sell. On the other hand, they remain completely convinced that 873 versions of Batman in increasingly garish colours, with sculpts that are exactly the same, only changing the colours and sometimes the accessories, will sell in spades. I have heard 8 year olds in the Batman aisle at Toys R Us and Target, frustrated and confused as to why Batman is suddenly bright neon orange when they have NEVER seen him that way on the cartoons.

I, too, wonder about these things, but in recent years, I've particularly been struck by two areas. First, vital but ancillary characters. Until the customizing community became big in the late 1990s, there had never been an Alfred action figure made for the Batman toy lines. Sure, Alfred is not necessarily the crime fighting front-page type. But really, can you think about Batman without ever thinking about Alfred? What about Jim Gordon, the police chief for Gotham? Once action figure customizers began rounding out the lesser known villains and the supporting cast of some shows, that the toy companies sat up, took notice, and began doing the same.

Sadly, they have learned NOTHING about sculpting women in this time. Check out some of these early female sculpts:

     

Seriously. WTF?

Now, the hideous green thing and the similar looking blob next to it are She-Hulk and Xena, respectively. I know they're supposed to be muscular. But do they have to look like pumped up on steroids eastern European Olympic Frankensteins??? Lucy Lawless did NOT look like that. The neck is particularly egregious. That's the neck of a weight-lifting Schwartzenegger, not a female athlete.

What kills me is that they KNEW the neck was a bad job at sculpting and they "covered it up" by adding the strange little neck band. Really, all this does is make the figure look even more like a poorly done-up drag queen attempting to hide an adam's apple.

And the 1995 Princess Leia?

Look at the picture of Carrie Fisher on the packaging ... the whole figure and the close up of the head. Really? What the hell?

It comes down to this, in my opinion: stick boobs and an attempt at make-up on the figure, and it's good enough. The "men" buying these toys are only buying them for the boobs anyway, right?

OH COME ON!

Now, back up to the Supergirl figure that made me start this rant. The midriff is actually really well done. This is not a man's six-pack, but the muscular torso of a woman. Obviously this sculptor paid attention to more than just the boobs. Sadly, though, the neck is still the trunk-like thing of ... of ... well, I think the eastern european female athlete is still the best analogy. The arms were sculpted well, and even the shoulders have a nice, decent proportion.

And then we get to the legs, which obviously didn't truly matter as they look to be standard male superhero legs fitted into this body.

Certainly this is a wee bit better than the hideousness that was She-Hulk and Xena ... and somewhat better than the 1995 Princess Leia. But, look what happens when instead of trying to be perfectly "realistic" about a female sculpt, they go into their nice little fantasy world:

Here, we have another neck piece covering any possible thickness to the neck, but we also have a much more feminine face (even if it's demonic ... this is, after all, Corrupted Supergirl), a feminine torso, even feminine legs. The tops of the arms ... not exactly the shoulders, I'm talking about the top of the piece of plastic that makes the arm ... these are too large for the rest of the figure.

But overall, this is a much better female figure. Sadly, she's also pretty much just a sexual fantasy.

Why is it that the Slave Leia action figure ... the Betty Page action figures (oh yes, they did make those) ... and any female figure that can be sexualized to the extreme - THOSE are the female action figures which look female. The rest? Bah. Slap boobs on it and call it done. The kids won't care. The male collectors won't care, they just want the boobs.

The only exception to this that I've found is action figures which are done in the cartoon style. Seems once you completely simplify the lines, the sculptors have a much easier time sculpting women.

*sigh*

I suppose I'm just going to have to learn to sculpt action figures myself and stop simply customizing existing pieces. (Of course, that means I have to learn to paint eyes better. I'm shuddering to think of the last female action figure I customized. Scary eyes. Very very very scary.)

Posted by Red Monkey at 12:48 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 27, 2006

Anatomy of a Holiday Trip

Friday, December 22
We are scheduled to leave Sunday after church. We both sing in the choir and I am trying to figure out when in the hell I am going to learn the new song we were given Thursday night. Naturally, 2/3 of the choir that sang it last year, thinks this is an easy song. However, it has odd little repeat sections ... at the end of page four go back to the middle of page 2. At the end of page 8 go back to the middle of page 5. At the beginning of the song, tenors sing alone for 16 measures, then rinse, lather repeat, but this time with the altos joining in.

Work is a little goofy. None of us want to do anything. Those who aren't taking vacation time are looking forward to the three day weekend. Those of us who are taking vacation time are looking forward to ten full days of no work.

The boss emails us around 11 to say he's leaving at 12:30. Emails again a few minutes later to tell everyone to work six hours and then leave ... or until you've got everything done that you have to get done. I leave at noon. (Hey, I got there at 6 a.m.) I begin wrapping presents.

We spend a nice evening at home.

8:55 a.m., Saturday, December 23
I am playing on the computer for a while, getting the present for my mother finished.

The phone rings. It's A's mom. She wants to make sure we know that she's really looking forward to seeing us on the 26th and that Aunt "Jeanette" and Cousin "Kevin" will be here for a while as well.

The 26th? WTH???? We're not leaving my aunt and uncle's house until the 27th or 28th. I'm confused, but do NOT tell my mother-not-in-law that. We are leaving after church on Christmas eve ... we should get to my family's gathering around 5 p.m. ... have Christmas day ... then turn around and leave?

I wake up the other half to tell her that her mother called. And then we begin the ever-popular ... "when are we leaving my family's house to go to yours?" game. This did not bode well for the start of the trip, but the end result is a call to the choir director and the decision to leave the house at 5 or 6 a.m. on Sunday. That will put us there at least a half day ahead of schedule and then I only miss about a half of a day that I thought we were going to be there.

We take the dogs to the kennel about two. And immediately we run into the oddest construction I have ever seen in this area. Just outside the airport, they have built two roundabouts for no apparent reason whatsoever. And, naturally, the kennel closes at three. This is a 20 minute drive or so ... and now we're beginning to wonder how we're going to get there since this is the only road we know to take ... and the second roundabout is finished ... except for the road we need to take to get to the kennel. That one no longer connects up.

BAH.

As it turns out, the new way is much faster.

We return home and begin the serious packing, wrapping, laundry ... I am sent to the store for nutmeg so that A can make the jelly. (And so I can pick up the presents I forgot but had been intending to buy for ... umm, prolly over a month. All picked out. Totally forgot to pick UP.)

11 p.m.
Jelly is done.
Bedtime without the lickle doggy-wogs is odd.

Sunday, December 24, 4 a.m.
Alarm goes off. A does not wish to open her little peepers. I am up and putting the labels on the now dry jelly jars. Begin hollering at A about 4:30. I wanna get on the road and get going.

5:50 a.m.
One the road, with a planned stop on the way out of town at the choir director's house to leave their jar of jelly ... and, apparently, to pick up our tub of chocolates. Then, on the road we go.

10 a.m.
We arrive a full two hours before anyone expected us. Yea!!!! for us.

The mayhem of my family then ensues. My cousins are both a good 6+ feet tall and built like linebackers. They are loud and silly and fun and I love them to pieces. My mom is picked up from the airport around noon ... and then the last minute shopping sprees begin. My cousins, A and I are in one vehicle. "Da Women-folk" in another. We go to the cool stores. The closed action figure store in which I drool like an idiot despite the locked door and posters which covered most of the window. The five and dime slash Halloween crap store in which we bought stocking stuffers. The comic book store in which A and I were both going to buy one thing ... but then the boys yanked those out of our hands and said, "We needed to know what to get you." LMFAO

I see that I have left out the fact that for every store we had to visit (including the trip to Bed Bath and Beyond), my cousin made a wrong turn. He also attempted to drive into the construction walls. And back into a car. And generally attempt to get me to laugh hysterically for the entire trip. (They forget that they can get me to laugh easily.)

Christmas Eve
Time to put up the tree. And decorate it. And attempt to decipher the odd scrawls that my uncle has used to mark the boxes. Usually we just have to open it up to see. No one really figures out "x-mas decpr things." (Well, yes, but who makes a "typo" whilst handwriting something???)

Then comes the battle I've been nervous about. Due to a million and five reasons, I decided to not go to Mass with them this year. I just can't do it this year. Everyone is surprised, but they let it go without really a question. Whew ... instead, A and I finish up the tree, the vacuuming, the skirt under the tree and putting the presents out. I am SO looking forward to opening presents on Christmas Eve like always.

Sadly, I am mistaken.

My favourite Christmas tradition of opening presents on Christmas Eve and then doing Santa stuff on Christmas is dashed. We'll be opening all presents on Christmas day. Ugh.

Christmas Morning
The boys are supposed to be over by 9:30 a.m. They arrive around 10. Then we have to eat breakfast. WTH is wrong with these people????? It's PRESENT TIME!!!! *sigh*

We FINALLY get around to present time. It's utter and complete chaos and cacophony despite the fact that we open presents one person at a time. The crowning moment that most of us have been waiting for, though, comes at the very very very end.

Cousin "Topher" opens a smallish box with a nice, green apple in it. Thinking this is a promise from his family to get him a laptop computer later on when they can get the money together, he acts silly like always. He frantically starts eating 'round the apple, trying to get as much into his mouth as possible.

My aunt and uncle try to get him to stop being silly for a moment (whilst laughing our butts off, all of us), so he can see the new box that's been pushed into the room.

He looks at the sticker from Apple Computers and he honestly does not believe that's what's in the box. My cousin "Teo" and I have done a stellar job of misdirection. (Okay, most of it was Teo. But I helped.)

I thought Topher was going to actually burst into tears. A 15" MacBook Pro. Nicely tricked out with extra RAM and the like. Definitely a happy and very very very grateful boy. Was much fun to see how happy he was. His computer's been dead for a while, and was putting along on hamster power for 2 years before that. When he was sent to another museum to do some research, poor guy had to do everything with paper and pencil because he had no computer to take with him.

Great time was had by all ... Christmas dinner was fabulous as my aunt, in addition to being a stellar academic, is a great great great cook. Mmmmmmmm.

December 26th
I wake up a bit on the early side (again) and wait for A to get up and the boys to come back over again. We're supposed to be leaving at noon. comments/sad.gif

We get most everything into the car in plenty of time, but my aunt is running around the house, sad, because she can't find their record collection. I was planning on taking some of their records and converting them to CDs for my aunt and uncle for their Christmas present. They finally find them and there is MUCH oohing and awwing over the various titles they have. Some original Beatles pressings. Kingston Trio, TONS of Cat Stevens, Crosby Stills & Nash (& Young).

We finally get this all loaded in the car, directions to the highway back in hand ... and we're off to A's family by noon, as planned.

4 p.m.
We arrive. Exhausted beyond belief at this point. Go in, visit with her sister and her husband, her brother, her cousin, her folks, her aunt. It's a quieter family gathering without my rowdy and beloved cousins there. As an introvert, I am grateful for the quiet whilst missing my cousins terribly, all at the same time.

We eat dinner late-ish and then head into the living room for presents. It seems highly odd to be over at their house without our doggy-wogs, but we didn't have the time to snag them on the way over if we were going to meet up with the aunt and cousin. Again, a good time was had by all, but immediately upon finishing presents and a few minutes of chitchat, I am gathering presents into piles and setting them by the door so we can go soon.

We almost can't get everything into the freaking car.

11 p.m.
Home.

We drag everything into the house, grateful the dogs aren't here for the moment since it is always a hassle to get things in with them underfoot. There are suitcases and bag of loot everywhere. I set up the animals' new pump water bowl. Veg a few minutes in front of the computer ... and it's off to bed.

I would not have missed any of it for the world, but why we had to smash it all into 3 days, I have no idea. Never again will we squish it into 3 days. Never never never.

But I'm glad we did get to everyone this year. Best family visit ever.comments/haha.gifcomments/haha.gif

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:02 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 20, 2006

Sad News

Please join me in remembering a great icon of the entertainment community.

The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and trauma complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 71. Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and Captain Crunch. The grave site was piled high with flours. Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded.

Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times he still was a crusty old man and was considered a positive roll model for millions.

Doughboy is survived by his wife Play Dough, two children, John Dough and Jane Dough, plus they had one in the oven. He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart.

The funeral was held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes.

If this made you smile for even a brief second, please rise to the occasion and take time to pass it on and share that smile with someone else who may be having a crumby day and kneads it.

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:31 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 18, 2006

g33k

Some days, all you can do is look at the pretty geekiness and drool.

For those who have not found these places of drool-worthy geekiness, I give you my current favourite at ThinkGeek (which I desperately want).

And also, the electronics joy that is HobbyTron ... all those electronics kits have me drooling.

Otherwise, it was a long weekend. I'm tired, I'm frustrated. And above all, I'm pretty much just bored with everything. Why the hell didn't someone tell me that "real life" was E X A C T L Y the same as high school?

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:01 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 15, 2006

HEADLINES

FLANDERS IS THE NEXT QUEBEC
That's right, folks, Dutch speaking Flanders has decided it's no longer interested in being a part of Belgium. Hey, Flanders, like Quebec, has a specialty language and they're tired of being kicked around by the French speakers. Of course, in Canada, it's the French speakers who think they're being kicked around by the English speakers. But, you know, your boss kicks you, you come home and kick the wife, who kicks the kid, who kicks the dog, who barks madly and drives everyone into a mad killing spree and --
What? That doesn't happen to everyone?
Umm. Oh.comments/blush.gifcomments/blush.gifcomments/blush.gif

So anyhow, Dutch Flanders is now fighting for its independence separate from the Belgian Frenchies.

I wonder if we'll have to call them Freedom Waffles now?

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BLOGGING IS DYING (finally)
Big wig analysts Gartner has made ten predictions about technology, the most important of which being that Vista will be the last major release of Windows. Wait, wait, wait. I mean the most important of which is that blogging will peak in 2007, with the overall number of blogs stabilizing.

After all, some 200 million blogs have been abandoned. Apparently, some people have actually gotten bored with the 9 million things they thought they had to say ... and then realized when they were reduced to typing in such things as "I went to the grocery store today and bought some bread," that they were boring themselves AND the bits and bytes they were using on the server.

Reportedly somewhere between 50 and 100 of the 200 million abandoned blogs (and that's not 50 million to 100 million ... just plain 50 to 100 blogs) were written by people who got a life and thus, no longer had time for telling the world what a cute dog they have. (Have you seen the pictures of my dogs? They, of course, are important to the natural order of the universe.)

Best quote from Gartner analyst Daryl Plummer: "Everyone thinks they have something to say, until they're put on the stage and asked to say it."

Of course, he left off an important reason for people losing interest: having something to say ... and getting no readers or no response. No matter how much you have to say at that point ... what's the point?

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:24 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 13, 2006

Bones

Okay ... I just adore the show Bones. It's clever, it's funny, it's well acted. And after an episode which deals with Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and voodoun ... there's this line:

"I have noticed that very few people are scary ....

once they've been poked in the eye."

Right after Bones does literally poke the voodoun sorcerer in the eye as he is attempting to curse her.

Then ... the previews for the next new episode ... she holds a gun, and the FBI agent says, "Where the hell did you get that?"

Her response with a totally blase and "what?" attitude: "At the mall, why?"

LMFDAO

(LMFDAO is the new LMFAO ... laughing my fooken damn ass off ... just for you, Mikey-Mike)

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:55 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 10, 2006

SANTA!

Things are percolating ... more posts are being worked on.

Meanwhile ... in the holiday spirit ... enjoy this insane little flash game I came up with a while back.

Hopefully I'll have something about the Vickie Shaw performance that I went to last night ready for the blog tomorrow.

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:29 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 1, 2006

Hello What??

So, okay, first I have to say ... I hate pink. I've always hated pink. I'm sure it's because my mom wanted a girly-girl and I most certainly was not a girly-girl.

But I understand the current movement to make everything pink. Everything from Cubs hats done in pink to pink snowboards and skateboards and the resurgence of Hello Kitty. Regaining girl power and all that ... girls ... women ... doing things that used to be the realm of da boys.

But this? THIS??? This is an abomination!

(Okay, I admit it, I think the butterfly one is actually kinda cool for what it is. ... but still! i'd rather have an ergonomic guitar than a butterfly.)

All right now ... there's now need to get all shirty and such. That stupid butterfly guitar is simply the least offensive of the three. If i had a five year old, who loved all things girly and wanted some such abomination of a guitar, I would be more likely to give in on the butterfly than I would the other two.
However, it cannot be stated strongly enough: these are all still abominations of guitars. ... and Mr. Mikey-Mike there is cruisin' for a bruisin', methinks!

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Posted by Red Monkey at 4:50 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

October 26, 2006

Mahna Mahna Revisited   music.png

Felt like early morning, but maybe it was after nap-time ... creeping out of my room, hair fuzzy and full of static electricity, carefully pulling the knob to turn the crappy (even for the time) old tv on. Sesame Street.

I am cracking up at this silly little Muppet monster who is getting so incredibly carried away with the song.

Years later, the skit is re-done for The Muppet Show and every time I bring it up, people insist that it first premiered on The Muppet Show.

Thanks the to magic of Teh Internets (tm), the argument has been resolved.

The original ... 1969 version ... long before the advent of The Muppet Show ... Sesame Street's Mahna Mahna:

I think I loved this because little mr. Mahna Mahna was doing his own thing despite the looks the little pigtails and cute dresses girls were shooting him. Such was my life in kindergarten as well. Whether it was the fact that I simply had a very strong personality and sense of self or if it was that ADHD ability (curse?) to do my own thing because I'm amusing myself ... this skit cracked me up every time. When he wanders out of frame and back, he's subverting everything a performance is supposed to be ... but he's having FUN.

But what I really loved the most was the fact that he was helping the girls out ... they needed one more person to sing the song ... they couldn't do it by themselves. And he was happy to help out ... but on his own terms. They may not have liked his silly riffs. They were terribly unhappy about his popping up from below and his wandering far far off behind them ... but he certainly helped them "make" the song. On his terms. That was a great lesson for me as an already very independent child. You can help others and do what you're supposed to do ... without losing your own style and sense of self.

Not all of my teachers were glad I'd learned that lesson and I know my mom really hated that I'd learned that lesson. But if there's one thing I have always tried to pass on to the students I used to teach and the kids (and adults!) that I meet today ... is that you can "subvert" the requirements of whatever system you're working within and develop your own style. And that style is every bit as important as the "official" way of doing things.

For good measure ... here's the later, more polished skit from The Muppet Show. It's good and it's certainly the one that people seem to remember the most ... but I think for me, the original on this will always speak the loudest despite the fact that it's really just an "early draft" of a skit. There's a raw and uncomplicated power to the message for me. Then again, maybe what that skit first meant to me is simply colouring it. comments/what.gif

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:27 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

October 23, 2006

Doomed

You know already that when you are going to a Catholic wedding, you're already somewhat doomed. Growing up Catholic, I can honestly say that there was nothing about the ceremony which was not designed to make you fall asleep and actually wish for the fires of hell just so you could feel something for a minute.

Well, okay, maybe that's just me.

Anyhow. So when you're going to a Catholic wedding and the priest starts out by talking about a funeral, don't you know your marriage is doomed already? "I don't normally do this, but ..." is apparently the way the priest began a marriage this weekend ... by talking about a funeral. I think I'd be looking at my bride very carefully to make sure the maggots weren't rolling around in her head.

Next clue that you're doomed: When the priest calls your wife-to-be by her full name and then you screw up the name you call her every day. Example: Do, you, Elizabeth Doolittle, take this man ... blah blah blah. Then, instead of calling her Lizzy, like you've done every day for the last five years, you suddenly call her: Beth. Nervous or not, you should at least be able to get your bride's name right, fer crying out loud!
(Names have been changed to protect the slim amount of dignity for the bride and groom.)

You know how this marriage is gonna start out? This dude thought he was getting a little something-something tonight ... instead, he's gonna get the REAL introduction to married life: the couch!

I wonder what their third strike will be.

In other news, I discovered much goodness at the BBC over the weekend ... please you should to make click here for beautiful and important movie.

And then ... check out the most awesome new restaurant in Beijing ... and that link is more safe for work consumption than it looks like when you see the title.

And I leave you with one of my favourite links of all time ... Cannot Be Displayed. It is NOT a broken link. Go look again. Sheesh, pay attention, will ya?

Oh ... and on a related note ... Area 51 may be mythical ... but this site is even better.

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:30 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

October 12, 2006

The One That Got Away

So I have no use for camera phones. Sorry. I hate cell phones with a passion and only have one so the other half can keep up with me (she kind of insisted). That's about the only person who even has my cell number. I did wish, on Christmas day about two or three years ago, that I'd had a camera, any camera, to have taken a picture of the Assembly of God marquis which stated, in its locked streetside sign: "We love God because he fist loved us."

That's not a typo.

How very old testament of them.

Anyhow, I didn't have a cell phone with me then, so owning a camera phone at that time wouldn't have done me any good, I suppose.

But yesterday as I drove to my allergy shot, oh, how I wished for a camera phone to capture the absolutely stunning Virginia license plate in front of me. I sat, stunned for just a moment ... in shock ... doing the whole LOL-thing for really ... cursed myself for not having a camera phone ... and then, in a moment of rare clarity ... I remembered! There's a camera on my PDA! No sooner had I reached for my briefcase than the light changed to green. Had I not had an allergy appointment, I would have followed the dude until I got the snap. Alas, like God fist-loving the Assembly of God church, it was not meant to be.

However, Google Images + Photoshop = a nice recreation of the license plate.

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:23 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

September 29, 2006

Nerd

music.png
ROTFLOL ...

This song's been stuck in my head - in a good way - since I first heard it yesterday. Naturally, I had to pass along the pain ... I mean the goodness.

For the record, I don't like Star Trek, don't speak Klingon or Javascript - although Javascript is something I do need to learn. I love M.C. Escher, and D&D, but I hate tea of any flavour. My action figures are sometimes cherry, sometimes they're cut up into little pieces and made into frankensteins. I don't have any Stephen Hawking in my library, know pi beyond 3.14, have a myspace account or like mayonaise.

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Posted by Red Monkey at 12:46 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

September 27, 2006

Anal Retentive + ADHD = OH CRAP

As I said in the last post, I like to know what makes people tick. The online world is utterly fascinating to me as I watch (and participate) in how people present themselves, how they react to each other and the general ebb and flow of interaction. Most people play themselves ... some create characters that they would like to be. Some can separate character and life. Some simply like to interact with others during the "vegging" hours in the evening ... and on and on.

When I first heard about "going online" it was 1992 or 1993 and a friend started talking about this online game called MUDdog and how people would spend hours playing the game, interacting with people from around the U.S. and sometimes from other countries ... and then they'd CALL each other on the phone. I thought this was one of the strangest things I'd ever heard. I'd known about modems and bulletin boards for years, but "realtime interaction"??

Today, of course, I understand it a lot better and when I'm exhausted, or not feeling well, or just need a break for a while, I'll log into Blogmad and chill out in the shoutbox for a while. Since I never log out and tend to pop in during odd moments, it can seem like I never leave.

Here's a segment of conversation from someone I've never seen there before, Crock_Pot, let's call him, and a few of the "regulars." I've changed the name of the intriguing man and moved a couple of comments closer to the comment they were responding to just to make things a little more clear. Other than that, I left the text alone (including all of our speedy typos).

‹Crock_Pot› Dont you lot have lives?
‹Red› yeah do you?
‹blueyes› not really
‹Crock_Pot› well i just popped in to check my stats and find the same old names here
‹Crock_Pot› live a little
‹Crock_Pot› go outside
‹ender› been there done that
‹ender› it made me sneeze
‹ender› repeatedly
‹blueyes› i cant im working
‹Crock_Pot› it's called actual reality
‹Crock_Pot› sad
‹ender› lol ... dude, i been in actual reality all day
‹Red› as have most of us
‹ender› why don't you try to not run other people's lives or make presumptions about them comments/big_smile.gif
‹Crock_Pot› and the rest of ya life on the interweb
‹Crock_Pot› sad loney folks
‹ender› LMFAO
‹Crock_Pot› ?#
‹ender› sad lonely people who don't have anything better to do ... than log into a chat and tell people to go get a life
‹ender› hello??? pot?? yeah, this is kettle
‹Crock_Pot› no log in needed
‹Crock_Pot› loads of popular chat room out there
‹Red› wel go quick and visit one (H)
‹Crock_Pot› blog mad is your world ya numpty
‹ender› *looks under a rock ... finds Crock_Pot with the creepy crawlies*
‹Crock_Pot› cheers for biting....
‹ender› no prob ...i enjoy the "debate"
‹ender› *sigh* ... you just can't find good help these days
‹Red› lol
‹ender› comments/big_smile.gif
‹ender› woo-hoo!!!!! someone finally said something about me being in the shoutbox all the time (despite the fact that i've hardly been here today)
‹ender› wait ... does it count if he didn't mention me by name?
‹Red› yeah we can count it ender ;)

Now, what I find particularly interesting about this exchange is that I can't recall having ever met Mr. Crock_Pot before. He's not interacted with us. Yet, he apparently feels that it's his duty to inform us to go outside without knowing any of our situations. Today, I had already worked all day, spent an hour and a half with my pastor, went home and did some chores, practiced one of the choir songs, played my happy new Star Wars Lego: The Original Trilogy game, played with the dogs and was now simply waiting for the other half to get home from classes. Rather than flipping on the boob tube, and tired already of my runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing, I decided to continue to stay inside the house and hang out at my favourite chat box.

Is the online world the only interaction I have in my life? Nope. Do I spend a fair amount of time there? Yeah. But, I'm also ADHD ... so I may spend ten minutes talking there, then walk away from the computer and play with the dogs, come back and join in the conversation, go do the dishes or mow the yard, then collapse at the computer. Then again, I may get engrossed in a book and not show up there at all.

I enjoy "back story." I enjoy figuring out why someone said something in particular or behaves a certain way or makes certain choices. That may have something to do with being a creative writer, I'm sure. The online world is something that I both love to observe how we all interact with each other (and every exchange of human interaction is research in a way for a writer), and I enjoy chatting with many folks. Getting different perspectives on events or people that I wouldn't have had if I lived only in the "real world." After all, in the real world, I probably wouldn't have met Mo from Wales; Lydia, Smash and FuzzBuckFuzz from the U.K.; Rush and FX and DocMoo and Danette from South Africa; Manic from Belgium.

My life's been enriched from all these people. So I find it interesting that someone can waltz in and without knowing any of this ... assume that people in a chat have no lives. And even more fascinating that he can then decide that he knows better than any of us what we should be doing. That we should be turning off our computers and heading outside.

Like "Laura" whom I talked about yesterday, I cannot fathom why we must do what we must do. Why some people must judge others on a spur-of-the-moment shoot-from-the-hips amount of pseudo-information. It doesn't matter to me whether it's someone who's decided that if you have more than two pets, you're a spinster or forever-bachelor; or if you're a Catholic, you're a pagan; or if you chat frequently online, you've got a scarlet L on your forehead. Judgement and self-imposed rules and realities without real reason.

It's interesting, this human condition we find ourselves in. Endlessly fascinating. Endlessly repeating patterns with back stories hidden, for the most part, in the background.
Fractal action and reaction. Complex and endless.

Posted by Red Monkey at 12:19 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

September 26, 2006

OCD + ADHD = Uh-Oh

Back in the dark ages when I was in elementary school ... back before people medicated and worked with people who had OCD (Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder) and certainly before anyone connected that eccentric and "womanly" trait of everything-absolutely-MUST-be-in-the-correct-place with abnormal behaviour, particularly in a kid, I was in fifth grade language arts class with a girl named, umm, "Laura."

First of all, let me explain this particular elementary school. (It was the third one I'd attended, so even as a fifth grader, I felt like I was something of an expert on elementary schools.)

Butler Elementary began as an "open concept" school, with grades one through six in one large "room" of the building. Each grade level was "divided" by rolling bookcases about five feet high and more of these bookcases were used to lightly subdivide each "classroom" within a grade level. Teachers' desks were in a cluster in the center of the grade level area.

It was utter cacophony and chaos in that one large room. Now the one-room schoolhouse does have some benefits ... but only when you've got a total of maybe 30 or so kids. Butler had more like 1000 to 1200 when I attended there, not counting the kindergartners, since they had their own room.

At any rate, there was a LOT of chaos in the building. A lot of noise. A lot of movement.

And then there was Laura who had to have everything just so.

Sitting down next to Laura in language arts class, I observed the ritual straightening of the books and supplies. Laura was a diligent student. Hard worker. Earnest. Determined. She was bright, too, but I think the other adjectives far outshone nearly every other trait she might possess. So, no matter what was going on around her in our madhouse of a school, she was diligently listening to our teacher.

Except, of course, for the first three or so minutes of class. It took her that long (at least it seemed that long to me) for Laura to stack her books neatly on top of her desk, largest volume on the bottom, progressively smaller as we got to the top of the stack, which was her assignment notebook. On top of her books, were her pens and pencils and the nifty eraser-thing. All placed in a particular order and lined up exactly so. Once she was done getting everything exactly right, then she turned to listen to the teacher.

As I said, back then, nobody really put fifth-grader and OCD together in the same sentence.

I, being me, would be utterly fascinated by this procedure.
comments/electric_shock.gif

Naturally, as soon as Laura turned her attention to the teacher ... her full attention to the teacher, I would carefully move the books out of alignment with one another.

She'd look back and immediately fix them.

Now, I'm not talking about shoving everything askew, here. I'm talking nudge one book a small fraction of a centimeter one direction ... another one a tad the other direction.

I mean, at first I tried the cruder methods. I simply reached over while she was looking and mussed the pens and pencils. She'd sigh and fix them all. It was after a few days of this, that I decided to become ... well, what passes for subtle in a fifth grader.

I began to keep the pens and pencils lined up perfectly ... but out of order. That took her a while to notice, but when she did ... yep, she had to get it all back to her order exactly. She got up to do something ... I re-stacked her books to change the order of two books nearly the same size.

She noticed that instantly upon returning.

Yeah, back then they not only didn't know OCD, but they really didn't know ADHD, either. I could NOT simply pay attention to the teacher and I certainly couldn't leave this scientific experiment known as the girl who sat next to me alone either.

Eventually, of course, I'd either grow bored, or distracted, or the kids around me would begin giving me THAT look ... I honestly wasn't trying to pick on Laura and I felt bad when the other kids would let me know I'd been at it too long. I simply could NOT figure out why she had to have things EXACTLY so. I could understand having things just so. But absolutely precision aligned, military corners on your bed, EXACTLY so just boggled my mind.

And if nothing else, I subscribed to the idea that you can understand everything around you in your environment. You may not want to expend the effort, but you can figure everything out if you put your mind to it.

I could NOT figure Laura out and it bugged the crap out of me.

Even at that age, I could usually figure people and their motivations out. I knew that Miss Gillette absolutely hated me and took every opportunity to pick on me ... why? No, I wasn't being paranoid. It was because at the beginning of the school year, I didn't do well on my spelling test -- because the teacher with the thickest East Texas accent I had ever heard was pronouncing the words. I was placed in the second high language arts group. Within the first six weeks period, Mrs. Gaines realized I belonged a level up, but ... and to this day I can't fault her for this ... she enjoyed having me in her class. (See, apparently flattery does go a long way.) But, the last six weeks of the school year, she bit the bullet and had me moved up because she wanted to make sure I was placed in the high group for sixth grade as well. Long story short, Miss Gillette didn't really believe Mrs. Gaines ... and she really resented having a new student at the end of the school year.

So while I couldn't stand Miss Gillette, I knew her motivations. I understood why she often made fun of my handwriting publicly. (It was atrocious handwriting ... I had no patience for trying to write cursive neatly. Legibly, okay. Neatly ... impossible!)

Laura, on the other hand, I really couldn't figure out. And that just bugged me for the rest of the school year. Luckily, the teachers did NOT allow us to sit together the next year. I'm sure Laura was beyond relieved. (Provided she didn't request it to begin with!) comments/haha.gif

Today, of course, I realize that Laura either had OCD "tendencies" or full-blown OCD. I'd treat her a lot differently today. Of course, most of us don't still act the same as our fifth-grade selves, thank goodness. But for me, it's as much because now I understand why she behaved that way ...

... and I better understand why I couldn't leave it alone, too.

Still ... to the teachers out there ... don't put the OCD kid and the ADHD kid next to each other, okay?

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:45 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | Why Johnny Won't Learn and Mrs. Curnutt Is Tired of the System | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

September 16, 2006

HA!

HA! Hahahahahaha.

What? Why am I rolling around on the floor laughing and frightening the dogs (the cats fled into the other room at the first guffaw).

Well, it's partly because I'm watching like 18 Eddie Izzard shows in a row.

But really, the best belly laugh was my arch-nemesis, Notre Dame. sports/sport_football.png

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:56 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 31, 2006

Oh, I See

I was born in Amarillo, Texas. Then we moved to Houston. Another place in Houston. Then Albuquerque, New Mexico. Then, off to Oklahoma City. Then Carmel, Indiana. Austin, Texas. Then I started kindergarten. Some of you regular readers and obsessive archive perusers know the litany of places I've lived already. In addition to that, I started elementary school at Pillow in Austin ... then was transferred to St. Louis, which I hate hate hated, and went back Pillow ... for the first six weeks of third grade. Then we moved to Arlington, Texas, where I finished elementary school (that was elementary school #3, for those keeping score). Instead of 6 semesters at the local junior high, I had 3 at one school and 3 at another. The only school I stayed at all the way through to completion was high school ... and my father announced one day that we'd be moving to Singapore. Luckily Mom refused, which saved me from having to figure out how to become an emancipated minor or the best way to run away.

Ooops ... that wasn't the point of this post. I told you all that just to point out that my mom's parents also lived in Oklahoma City for most of my childhood, eventually moving to Tallequah, Oklahoma for their "retirement" home. (Well, okay, if you know the Tenkiller area, they technically lived in Cookson, which at the time was nothing more than a couple of houses and a post office ... in fact, I'm not sure that there's much more to it than that now.) At any rate ... it's an ADHD kind of day, can you tell? I feel sorry for the guys I work with today. Maybe I'll get really into a project and calm down soon. Anyway, I was really excited when my grandparents moved to Lake Tenkiller, because, well, it was a LAKE.

So, probably the first summer they lived there, I got to spend a big chunk of my summer with my grandparents. Naturally, they were a little unsure exactly how to keep a 13 year old (almost 14!) occupied for the entire summer, so they enlisted the aid of the local youth group at their church.

After working on the house of some elderly members of the church for a couple of days, we all went out to the lake for a picnic and swim. Naturally with teens of that age, we separated into a group of boys and a group of girls. The boys, being completely unsure how to show their feelings, decided to let us know of their undying interest in us (at least until a cool car drove past) by throwing rocks at us. Well, they were trying to see who could throw a rock the closest to us without actually hitting us. Kind of like a game of pitching pennies on the stoop.

Also, they were trying to see if they could annoy us and who would move away first.

Being the stubborn little shi- err, twerp, that I was, I insisted that we hold our ground. Err, hold our water? Hmm. At any rate, I insisted that we were going to stay put.

That was when it happened.

I looked up and over at the boys. One of them looked a bit panicked. I wondered why. Briefly.

Then my eye hurt like hell.

Yup, the inevitable had happened, and I got nailed just barely above the eyeball. Everyone flew everywhere. The boy who'd hit me was horrified. We rushed back up to the picnic tables and one of the nuns (yes, nuns ... another time I'll have to tell you about being in the van with the nuns ... frightening!), one of the nuns handed me ice to put on the eye.

Slowly my vision in my right eye, my good eye prior to this accident, was turning white. Before long, the stolen moments of opening the eye and sneaking a peek confirmed it. Everything was like some thick, fluffy white cloud through which my vision could not penetrate. I sighed. Apparently I was going to lose the vision in that eye. I was hoping that it was simply the ice on the optic nerve causing my vision to essentially freeze, but I didn't want to get my hopes up. I began preparing myself for the worst. And that meant preparing myself for telling my mother how I had been so careless as to lose the vision in my right eye. Because, of course, this happened the one week she was visiting her folks.

Well, as it turned out, I was "in trouble" for being so careless as to get hit above the eye, but my vision was ultimately unharmed. The ice, had indeed, been depressing the optic nerve and froze my vision temporarily. Examining the tiny cut in the mirror, though, showed just how incredibly, amazingly lucky I had been. Literally a millimeter or two lower and the small rock probably would have popped the eye out of the socket or at the very least, damaged the eyeball itself.

A week or two later, when I returned home from my summer at grandma's, Mom took me in to see the doctor and have this near-eye injury examined. (Yes, really, a week later before I saw a doctor.) He confirmed that it had been a very near thing and he asked me to tell him what happened.

"I got hit in the rock by an eye," I rattled off.

He blinked. Tried to decide if he was concerned or going to laugh. "What happened to you?"

"I got hit in the rock by an eye." I decided he didn't hear me clearly the first time.

He smiled a little. "I don't think that's what happened to you."

Some part of me utterly panicked at this point. What the hell was wrong with this dude??? "I got hit in the rock by an eye!"

He turned to my mother and gave a little grin. "What happened to her?"

Mom was utterly puzzled. "She got hit in the rock by an eye."

At this point he must have decided that it was genetic instead of a concussion. "I don't think that's quite how it happened. I think," he turned back to me, "you got hit in the eye by a rock."

"That's what I said, I got hit in the rock by an eye!"

He chuckled.

It wasn't until Mom and I returned to the car and were talking about what the bleeding hell was wrong with this doctor that we caught the problem that you've already seen.

Oh. Oh yeah. Umm. Sure. I got hit in the EYE by a ROCK.

Good grief.

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:04 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 14, 2006

The Big Cheese

Via YouTube, of course.

I dunno if this'll work ... it's nearly 9 minutes long and I've yet to see it download all the way ... but I thought I'd try anyhow.

UPDATE: I did get it to load ... it just takes a long freaking time. And here's part two ... because it's a GREAT episode:

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:06 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 13, 2006

CHEESE!!!!!!

I love Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. Cheese rules. And I think the animators are having far too much fun with Cheese. Far too much.

Episode 47 rocks. "The Big Cheese." If you have not watched this cartoon ... you are missing the best in television entertainment.

I need every episode on DVD. Like yesterday. Anyone know where to get it?????

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:14 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

Little Red Monkee

OMFG

No, really. I know that phrase is overused on the internets. But I've seen people hit my site while looking for "monkey animation" and "dancing monkey animation" and couldn't quite figure out why they thought Red Monkey blog might be what they were looking for. After reading the archives at { decadently } (which I highly recommend ... excellent read), I discovered MonkeeHub. Which led me to:

And while the Little Red Monkee isn't actually a red monkey, at least I know why people are hitting my site looking for it. And now ... here it is ... you're one link closer to it.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE ....
The OMFG wasn't really for the Little Red Monkee cuz, well, that's just a basic Flash animation piece. (Sorry, but I didn't dig it that much.) The real discovery from { decadently } was learning about this music video:

And I was so impressed with the animation style, that I then discovered another video from MonkeeHub.

And I was so tickled with THAT video that I had to download the album from iTunes. Awesome.

Now I think I'm going to go sketch for a while and daydream about creating my own cartoons again. I'm determined to have my own animation done for next year's Nick and Cartoon Network contests. Where's the freaking ActionScript book now?

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:48 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 11, 2006

Mr. Gas Masher Guy

And now for some good old-fashioned fun and parody. (And many thanks to each one of you who commented on my last post.)

For my good buddy, Smash, who is one crazy dude.


(Diary not for those under 18 ;) )

Mr. Gas Masher Guy
(sung to "American Pie")

A long, long time ago, I can still remember how
His s used to make us smile
And I knew that in a flash
He could make the shoutbox laugh
And maybe we'd be happy for a while

But his gas mashin' made us nervous
We'd turn on e'ry news service
We'd joke around at Blogmad
But you could tell, we were all scar'd

We all recalled how TheMoo cried
When we finally heard that he'd died
Yes, something touched us deep inside
The day ... the convo ... died

So, bye bye, Mr. Gas Masher Guy
Drove his Chevy to the levee and there he did die
Them good ole boys were drinking Stella all night
Singing this'll be the day that he dies
This'll be the day that he dies.

Well, did you write the book of speed
And do you have faith your brakes won't bleed
If the cylinder stays intact
Do you believe in ROCK N ROLL
Can Slayer save your mortal soul
And can you teach me how to slam dance?

Well I know that he's in love with speed
Cuz I saw him racing out in Leeds
He blasted past those blues
Just watch those bobbies lose

He was a crazy teenage scouser dude
WIth a black bike jacket and a big qualuude
But nothing helped that rocker's 'tude
The day ... the convo ... died

Bye bye, Mr. Gas Masher Guy
Drove his Chevy to the levee and there he did die
Them good ole boys were drinking Stella all night
Singing this'll be the day that he dies
This'll be the day that he dies.

Now for 10 minutes, we've been on our own
And a shoutbox dies when it's all alone
But that's not how it used to be

There we were all in Blogmad
A group of Bloggers lost in space
None of us able to log in
So come on, Smash be nimble, Smash be quick
Smash Flash sat in the driver's seat
Cuz speed is the devil's only friend

As we watched him go along the moor
Our faces said his speed we abhorred
No angel born in hell
Could warn him 'fore he fell

And as the explosion ROCKED the night
We all stumbled at the site
Cuz Big Al was laughing in his spite
The day ... the convo ... died

I met a man who mashed the gas
And I asked him for some belly laughs
But he just stepped back in the car

I went down to the Mustang store
Where we'd seen our Smash in days of yore
But the man there said the speed was now sub-par

And in the streets, the children screamed
The lovers cried and the poets dreamed
But not a car was revved up
The bobbies had all turned up

And the three dudes I admire most
Gas Masher, Big Al and Manic
They're all gone in a panic
The day ... the convo ... died

They were singin'

Bye bye, Mr. Gas Masher Guy
Drove his Chevy to the levee and there he did die
Them good ole boys were drinking Stella all night
Singing this'll be the day that he dies
This'll be the day that he dies.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:20 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 6, 2006

Diversion

I am completely addicted to Monkey Kick. It's insane that a game this simple can keep me occupied for an endless period. The highest score I've seen is over 6500 ... my best is just 4881.

But, as I was talking to friends, I recalled this little Flash game that I'd cooked up on spec for someone with the domain "www.ikilledsantaclaus.com" ... that should give you a hint about the game. It's not bloodthirsty, really, it's just Whack A Mole ... except that it's Smackin Santa. Anyhow, I haven't bothered to put it on a nice webpage or anything because it's just a silly little game like a million others out there. One of these days I need to go back into the code and see about making it a little more fancy. Enjoy!

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:27 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 4, 2006

Kitchen Sink

I'm utterly swamped at work right now, which means by the time I get home, I'm too exhausted to think, much less continue working on the computer. So, the template tweaks are undone (I know the sidebar shows up way low on the page on the test url ... depending, that is, on which browser you're using.)

So, I've collected some fun links for you to amuse yourself. First of course, is the happy new t-shirt:

Separate Church and Hate shirt

Next, Cap'n Platy from the Platypus Society wanted to know if my Red Monkey was moonlighting as the driver of a 4x4 ice racer ... I have to say it certainly looks like my Red Monkey, but he didn't tell me he was accepting an evening job ... hmmm ... I'll have to look at his contract again. Thanks for the heads-up, Cap'n!

My Monkey drives?

Last, I ran a search for t-shirts the other day and found the t-shirts from hell. Seriously. Check them out. They are politically incorrect, offensive as ... well, offensive as hell, and most of them are downright funny as hell, too. An example of politically incorrect (and just downright wrong ... as a Texan I'm offended): Don't Mess With Texas ... it's not nice to pick on retards (See, I told you ... politically incorrect ... mean ... and yet, despite the fact that I HATE the word retard, I laughed when I saw it.)

Now, it's 5:20 a.m. here and I have to head in to work. I'll probably be there another 10 hours today. And if I don't get a crapload done today, I'll probably be back there Saturday and possibly Sunday as well. Oooo, it's the weekend! NOT.
*sigh*

oh yeah ... here's the link to Monkey Kickoff ... actually my best score was 4733, but I've lost that link now.
MONKEY KICKOFF

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:02 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 1, 2006

WWJD

I heard someone the other day mention there should be separation of church and hate ... and well, those of you who are a bit touchy about religion might not like this so well, but it's what instantly came to my mind upon hearing those words.

Get your WWJD: Separate Church and Hate shirt now!

Separate Church and Hate shirt

And a close up:

Separate Church and Hate shirt

Hopefully I don't get too much hate mail for this one. :)

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:02 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 30, 2006

Smaug's Hoarde

Okay, so several people commented that the picture of 14 monkeys constituted a collection. Maybe for most people that would ... but not for me. In general, I collect toys. Also, books. Within those two large collections, there are subsets. For example, I collect the pre-1990 Fisher Price Little People. The last time I attempted to catalog and count just the peoples, I had well over 400 of the little guys. I would guess right now that I'm in the 500-600 range just in the people. I think I now have every Fisher Price Little People base piece as well. That means the brown house, the yellow and blue house, the McDonald's, the Nifty Station Wagon, the castle, the Sesame Street buildings ... and the list is way longer. Most of those sets, I have all the little pieces for. A lot of this stuff I got at garage sales and thrift stores, but some of it I bought off eBay and Fisher Price swap meets. In fact, one year I got to go to Toy Fest in East Aurora, New York ... home of Fisher Price.

And, because I enjoy working with my hands and re-creating nifty things, I even did this to an old beat-up Fisher Price Little People village building:

pueblo
(Click to go to the post about this building set)

This takes up an entire 12' bookcase ... and spills over a bit. My plan is to eventually have a nice little outbuilding where I can set up a Fisher Price Little People museum. The intent is to set up a town kind of along the lines of a model railroad set-up. I already have sections of this town kind of set up in my head ... and a plan for making the cars and such move around the town ... it'll be awesome if I can ever find the money and space to do it.

So to me, THAT'S a collection.

Then there's the Fisher Price Adventure People. I've got all but one set, there, I think. That's about a decade's worth of a toy line. Then there's Star Wars ... divided into Original Star Wars toys ... and New Star Wars toys. Then there's a smattering of Batman stuff ... mostly playsets so that in one of the rooms of my toy museum I can build this awesome freaking batcave that I have planned out in my head. And, of course, to populate that, I have nearly every figure from the Batman: The Animated Series lines.

As a subset of the Batman figures, I think I have just about every single modern Robin action figure that's been made. Even the really stupid re-paint versions. Hey, I'm a sucker for the little sidekick. In fact, there's a shot of the 8 Robin figures I have in my office here.

Young Dick Grayson

Then, there's a sub-set of action figures I collect as well ... kids. The girl from one of the Jurassic Park movies, the kid from Lost in Space, the Captain Planet kids, Space Academy, etc.

Umm, yeah ... I collect stuff. :)

Some people think I'm nuts or a "hoarder" for having all these toys. Eh, I prefer to think of it as fun. I enjoy getting new pieces, getting them fit into the collection, setting up dioramas ... and I really, really, really look forward to the day that I can actually set up my little toy museum.

But the monkeys a collection? Eh, not so much. At least, not for me.

But, something occurs to me now ... several people have commented on the toy posts I've made in the past. Would anyone be interested in my starting a toy category and perhaps posting one of my toys and its story once a week or something? Drop me a comment and let me know what you think.

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:28 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 27, 2006

More Monkeys

Okay ... this should be the last time I bring up photos of the monkeys ... but after showing off pictures of my office, several people asked about the red monkeys and if I collect monkeys. The deal is that I do not actually, actively collect monkeys, but when I see one I like ... well ... this results:

The funky "convict" monkey in orange is actually one of the little dog's most favouritest toys (hence, no eyes). Stitch is here as an honourary monkey ... cuz he may be an alien, but we all know he's a crazy li'l monkey at heart. In the back are "the" 3 red monkeys. (Story of the red monkey here.) The littlest one is usually atop my monitor at work - I brought him home especially to take this monkey picture. The other large monkey is Davin Michael ... from the Build-A-Bear Workshop.

So that's the monkeys.

Oh yes, others have asked about the red monkey icon on the page. That's a vector graphic I drew in Adobe Illustrator which is based on the Fisher Price Little People monkey which came with the circus sets. There is no "real" red monkey which looks like that ... I simply blended my Ty Beanie Baby red monkey with the drawing of the Fisher Price monkey.

Oh ... and then I put it on a t-shirt at GoodStorm.

Next post: something of substance. :)

Posted by Red Monkey at 2:20 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 21, 2006

Suffering From Delusions of Adequacy

Ahhhhhhhhh, the smell of parody in the morning ... is there anything better?

Ever since I was warped by Rocky and Bullwinkle, I've loved sarcasm, parody, dry humour and general smart-ass-ness. The concept of taking something familiar and re-thinking it ... generally in a really warped way ... was just utter brilliance to me. Naturally, when I discovered Monty Python, I thought I'd found the height of comedy (well, for some of the skits anyway).

Sure, it takes talent to create something new, whether it's a novel, a painting or a song. But it takes another kind of brilliant creativity to come up with really good parody.

When I was in high school, we had a poetry test every Friday, followed by a discussion of the previous week's poetry readings. I hated it with a passion. It just about ruined Fridays for me during senior year. I've never been one much for poetry and have been known to say on more than one occasion: "Poetry is like a bodily function. You don't mean for it to come out, it just does." (Sure, you can quote me ... just trackback or otherwise attribute it to me :) )

So, despite being in Honours English, my teacher wasn't overly impressed with me as I ran through the poetry and the tests as absolutely quickly as I possibly could in order to minimize the pain. And then, after two weeks of hurrying through the test quickly so I could then write a parody of the poem we were supposed to be analyzing and showing them to my friends, I finally said, "screw it," and started turning those parodies in along with my exam.

The teacher was frustrated and yet, still amused. What was funny to me, though, was that she seemed to assume that I couldn't analyze the poetry because I wrote parodies. I'm not sure why the two things were mutually exclusive, but there it was. When I did make a "brilliant" analysis of one poem (her word, not mine), she began discussing it in class after handing back the exams. It was hysterical to watch her flounder with the author of this "brilliant" analysis. First, she was sure that Kyungah, our valedictorian, was the author.

"Well, this person thought that 'Mr. Z' must be a reference to the fact that black people during this time period were considered last and lowest."

I almost laughed outloud. Let's see ... black ... poem about oppression ... this seemed like a no-brainer to me. Evidently this was not obvious to the rest of the class (I wish I remembered the name of the poem so I could look it up). The teacher quickly ran through the top brains of the class, but no one claimed the interpretation. As the teacher got more frustrated trying to remember, I finally said that this had been my idea. She looked pole-axed. Despite having a class FULL of smart-asses, she'd tagged me as a harmless, lazy and not-really-bright student. She'd pegged me as a B honours student with no new ideas. I didn't really care what she thought, actually, but I did find it interesting how she viewed parody and intelligence. After one particularly brilliant parody (my word this time), she told me after class that she'd started showing the parodies to some of her college professor friends who thought I was really talented. But, she hastened to add, I was not -- say it with me now, folks -- "living up to your full potential."

Because, of course, parody is essentially a waste. At least in the eyes of people like that instructor.

I'm not sure why parody and intelligence are not more closely linked to more people, but I was the kid with the parodies, not the kid with the brains. Ah well.

My life is brilliant, your life's a joke, you're just pathetic, you're always broke

While attempting to catch up on blog reading yesterday, I discovered Capn Platy's Depressing Link-o-Rama which included a reference to Weird Al's new free MP3 download. It's a parody of James Blunt's "You're Beautiful" ... a song that I love even though it really doesn't make much sense. Weird Al has done one of his most stellar jobs since "that Anakin guy" version of "American Pie."

You're suffering from delusions of adequacy

Check out Weird Al. You'll love the song. It's brilliant.

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:09 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 19, 2006

The Airsoft Update

I still cannot get Darth Vader to fall over.

I am sad. I am depressed. I can shoot the two Pez dispensers from across the room and topple Grievous and the Death Star (sometimes with a single shot, if I get the angles just right). I can kill the little Storm Trooper, no problem. But no matter how many times I drill Airsoft BBs at Darth Vader, he stands resolute. I would say he's an immovable object, except that with each BB that strikes him, he moves further and further back, retreating beneath my onslaught.

But he never falls.

Yeah, umm, I had four hours of sleep last night.

I had intended to write something today about Juneteenth ... but with four hours of sleep, my brain cannot seem to rise above the obsession with shooting Darth Vader in just the right spot to knock him over. Maybe it was the fact that I read Betrayal last night when I couldn't sleep. (A Star Wars book ... really good if you like the concept of Star Wars. Good enough that I'm going to have to find some of the others by this same author.)

and then ... then ... THEN ...

I've been freaking tagged. :(

I normally do not do them because they are evil spawn of satan. But ... just to prove why I should not be tagged, I'll do this one.

five things in my fridge
milk (2%)
diet Vanilla Pepsi
sliced cheese
jalepenos
Goldschlager

five things in my closet
not me!
skateboard helmet
cowboy hat
stage sword
neon green sleeping bag

five things in my purse
my WHAT????

five things in my car
gas
transmission fluid
oil
brake fluid
air

five people to tag:
the sun
the moon
the stars
the trees
the internet at large

:)

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:46 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 13, 2006

Note to Self

Note to self:
Never buy a trackball with an easily removeable ball ever ever ever again.

I think I spend more time with the ball removed and spinning it on the funky mousepad than I do actually using it. Sure, it gives me greater control than my Gateway mouse. Sure, it's more ergonomic. But boy, is it a great toy to roll around the desk. And spin without letting it leave the mousepad (and thus make loads of noise). Or to occasionally bounce when no one else is in the office.

I wonder if I could replace it with a superball ... you know those really big superballs in the vending machines for a dollar. Hrm. I think I have one of those at home ... I'll have to bring that in and test this new theory out.

Yeah, so I'm thinking maybe I need to go back to the doctor and see about some ADHD meds again ... *sigh*.

Posted by Red Monkey at 1:24 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

Get Off My Lawn

I posted last week that I'd had a great post idea on Thursday and then promptly forgotten it. Well, after hanging out in the shoutbox at Blogmad (again) the other day, Capn Platy reminded me what it was.

Back in 2001, I lived in the 'hood. I was just a few blocks south of Notre Dame, but it was SO the 'hood. Little known tidbit (unless you know a lot about gangs or about South Bend, Chicago and Detroit): South Bend, Indiana, is considered a halfway point between Chicago and Detroit by the Crips and the Bloods. And probably other gangs and I don't really wanna know more about it. Suffice it to say, there's a lot of gang activity around here. And, in 2001, we had a crack house across the street from us and a whorehouse back behind us. In fact, early that summer, I was standing outside talking to my elderly next-door-neighbor when we heard a commotion. A lady started running down the alleyway, barefoot, barely clothed ... and a somewhat more fully dressed man was half-heartedly chasing her. Before I could spring into action (forgetting momentarily that I'm not a superhero and that my other half would kick my behind if she knew what I was planning), my neighbor put a hand on my arm and said, "That's one of those whores from the house behind you."

I blinked rapidly. The man saw us watching, and resignedly walked back and let the woman go.

With my spidey-senses no longer tingling, I relaxed and looked at my neighbor in shock. "Whorehouse?" Who says 83 year old women are not observant? I'd totally missed it. I mean, I was really tired of people parking in the alleyway behind our house, but I completely missed the fact that it was only men ... lots of different men ... and that they were all visiting the same house. Where there were lots of women apparently living. Oh. Yeah. Huh.

The crack house across the street was more obvious, even to me. Something about the red light in the porch on some evenings and the green light on other evenings. And then there were the green light conversations that went something like this:
"Man, you gotta go into the alleyway ... can't sell out here on the street."

That particular crackhouse did not last long. It was, of course, replaced by another one later.

So all of this is to set up just exactly what kind of neighborhood I lived in at that time. A bit rough. So when I say the neighborhood children were not scared of much, you have some idea what I mean. One of the women who lived in the house behind us, regularly had her children climb our fence to cut through our yard. I don't know why. If you went down just one more house, you were at the corner and didn't need to cut through anyone's yard. And our fence was not easy to climb, either. It was decorative wire ... too sturdy to bend easily ... not sturdy enough to climb like chain link. Too high for an adult to step over. After a few weeks of this, the fence was finally beginning to droop and I eventually had to take it down.

Unfortunately, after that, the neighborhood kids thought playing around our dinky, crappy little shed was fun. It made me nervous because our landlord had moved that rickety thing from who knows where and just kind of plopped it on the property. It was seriously falling apart. I'd already gone out a few times and tried to shore up falling supports and replaced a few slabs of walls, but I always thought a good wind would knock that sucker right over.

So the kids are playing tag around this rickety thing and I can just see it: the freaking shed falls on one of them and the whole neighborhood comes after us.

Now, I'd yelled at the kids to "GET OFF MY LAWN" so to speak, a few times before. To very little avail.

But in the spring of 2001, I was undergoing the ESHAP chemo protocol in preparation for a bone marrow transplant. And I'd lost most of my hair. And shaved my head because I really am not very vain, but watching your hair fall out in chunks is just NOT a fun process.

On a whim, I opened the backdoor, removed my now ever-present ballcap and screamed in my deepest, most authoritative, "scary" voice:
"YOU KIDS GET AWAY FROM THAT SHED RIGHT NOW!"

Hehehehehe. They paled. They freaked.

I took a step out onto the tiny cement back porch.
"I DON'T EVER WANNA CATCH YOU BACK HERE AGAIN, YOU HEAR ME?"

And I took a second step out to the yard.

They flew.

Was the only time the neighborhood kids ever listened to me. Even if I did feel a bit like Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace.

Apparently bald white women screaming out their back porch is utterly terrifying to the fear-less children of the local gangs. Who knew?

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:10 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 11, 2006

Alligators and Gorillas

So, there's a whole silly reason that I call this blog Red Monkey, but of course, one of the reasons I wanted the red monkey, was because I do adore monkeys and gorillas both. So tonight, as I was watching Growing Up Gorilla on the Discovery Channel, I remembered my trip to the Brookfield Zoo and the pictures I got of a new gorilla mommy.

Mama Gorilla and baby
 :
Mama Gorilla and baby

The best part of the show was watching four little guys playing together. The one male of the group, second to youngest of them all, decided he was a silverback already. Posturing and pulling all the others to the ground, even the one several, several months older and much bigger. Once he'd decided he'd dominated them, he went to the electric fence that separated them from the toddler gorilla-kids, he kept trying to get through the fence to prove himself king of the big kids too!

Ahh, gotta love the politics of the playground. I can remember when I wished there was an electric fence to keep the bullies away from the younger kids, too. In fact, there are times on the internet when I still wish the same thing, what with people not conversing in comments left on other blogs, but instead just spitting insults and venom. And no, I'm not talking about here ... somehow, at least up to this point, I've managed to avoid any trolls or venemous spitting comments, but I've witnessed it on the blogs of many other people. I never do understand it ... it always makes me think of junior high.

In fact, back, waaaaay back when I was in junior high and the abacus had only recently been tossed in favour of some funky hand held device that weighed about 6 pounds and could add, subtract, multiply AND divide!!! (all on one single 9 volt per every 100 calculations) ... anyhow, back in the day, the rage was Lacoste Izod shirts. These were the little three-button shirts with a collar. Sometimes called a polo. Sometimes called a golf shirt. Well, there were Izods back then and then there were just plain shirts. The Izod had the little alligator and was thus considered cool. The reason why is lost in the mysteries of time and the brains of the then pre-adolescents. Everyone wanted that stupid alligator on their shirt.

I just thought those shirts in general were the height of cool. Obviously, they were dress-up shirts because they had a COLLAR. And, still, they were t-shirts. Casual and dress-up all in one package!!! I loved them.

I really didn't care if they were plain, had the alligator or the Sears Le Tigre tiger on them. Whatever.

However, most of my classmates were terribly rabid about the Izod alligator. Oh, you weren't made fun of for wearing a plain 3-button. But you certainly weren't "in" if you did that.

Of course, as soon as I hit seventh grade and junior high, my mother decides this is the perfect time to pick up sewing. And she proceeded to infinitely increase my cool factor by making most of my clothes. It's not that she was bad at sewing, but her taste in materials left much to be desired. At any rate, in my perpetual attempt to make fun of my classmates for being slaves to stupid things, I found a nifty -- and quite large -- alligator applique whilst whiling away the interminable hours at the fabric store. Mom was looking for the cheapest cloth and the best cloth: a search continually doomed to failure, so she usually chose cheap. (I'm surprised we didn't have shirts made out of that funky white crap that I can't remember the name of ... edging? no ... whatever.)

I bounded over to my mother with this freaking three inch alligator and announced that I wanted THAT on one of my shirts. My mother looked at me sadly. Obviously I was a challenged child in terms of spatial relations and she said tenderly, "Honey, no one is ever going to think that's an Izod alligator."

I rolled my eyes in the fashion of teens and pre-teens everywhere. "I KNOW, Mom, that's the POINT."

She reluctantly purchased my joke alligator and dutifully sewed it on one of the shirts.

All I heard that day at school was "That's not a real Izod you know."

To which my reply was a big grin and a delighted, "I know ... that's the point."

There were a LOT of confused kids in my school the first few times I wore the shirt.

But, the saddest thing to me was that while I got a lot of confusion over that shirt, I never did get teased. On the other hand, "Donna" wasn't so lucky. She couldn't afford an Izod. Her mom got her the next best thing, at least in Mom-Think. Donna got a Le Tigre shirt instead. She spent an evening getting the tiger off that shirt and then, skipped athletics one morning and took an alligator off some unsuspecting girl's Izod. She tried to glue it onto her shirt.

Watching the gorilla kids on the tv show tonight reminded me very much of that scene in the girl's locker room in the 80s. A pack of girls, converging on Donna. Yelling at her. Screaming, "That's not an Izod, you faker!" And other, less nice, things. Donna, frightened, insisting that it was. Truly, it was an Izod. She tried to divert attention to me, reminding the girls I had a HUGE alligator. They were tearing at Donna's shirt now, trying to get to the tag on the inside back. Donna was squriming, terrified, trying to get away.

All she'd wanted was to fit in.

All I'd wanted was to let the other kids know you didn't have to fit in.

I got ignored.

Donna got her shirt literally ripped off. And the tag held up triumphantly. Le Tigre.

The coach had to find her a shirt from the lost and found. Luckily, there were some just back from the laundry.

In the show tonight, the slightly bigger toddler gorillas were picking on the littlest one. Something that wouldn't really happen in the wild, according to the researchers, because the older adolescents and the adults wouldn't stand for it. But in this habitat, they get groups of babies, not the adults. So the humans sometimes have to just let the "kids" sort it out for themselves ... sometimes they have to step in.

What is it in us, that makes us go after the weak or those we perceive to be weak? Is it a throw back to some more survivalist instincts in which only the strongest survived and if you killed off the weak, it was more food and survival for you?

I hear some folks, adults, talk about this phenomenon with disgust for the weak. I've heard others talk about with hurt and confusion. Others with a determination to fix it all.

For me, it was in junior high that I realized that this behaviour the adults called "junior high" was prevalent everywhere. I saw adults being just that petty as to be asinine over what brand of clothes someone wore. What neighborhood they "chose" to live in.

And all I could think ... all I can think ... is our need to not be alone really that strong? That this is one of the largest worries in so many people's lives in the western world? (I presume it's the world over, but I don't know other cultures well enough to presume to speak for them.)

Schoolyard bullies. Proving strength like the young gorillas. Proving they're cool like Cordelia in the early seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Proving we're still essentially animals despite our insistence that we're civilised.

Wow. This post took some turns I didn't expect.

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:51 PM | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 1, 2006

Airsoft Update

In the spirit of continuing the airsoft experiments, my supervisor yesterday was intensely curious. After all, the graphic designer had now been shot, I'd shot myself ... he wanted to know ... just how bad it hurt. So the graphic designer, upon invitation, shot him in the calf.

He opens his mouth to say, "That doesn't really -- OW!" He looked somewhat shocked. "Doesn't hurt at first, but after!"

Now the only person in the room who hasn't been shot directly, insists that enough experimentation has been done and he feels no burning desire to find out for himself how it truly feels. Ricochet shots and our example is apparently enough for him.

So, the experimentation has moved on. We've discovered that, sadly, airsoft does not penetrate Play-Doh effigies. It will knock over the Star Wars Galactic Heroes StormTrooper, but not Darth Vader. Apparently the force is still strong with that one.

It also leaves small dents in the wall behind the targets.

Particularly if you use a battery operated rapid fire pistol, you can tear a business card to shreds. Or, you can simply catch it just right and knock it to the floor.

You cannot do more than a tiny dent in a coke can, which is sad.

You can "take out" the Star Wars Death Star Pez dispenser, however. Even better is when you angle it just right so that you take out both Grievous AND the Death Star all with one shot.

Of course, after all of this, you then have to rummage through the room looking for little green plastic BBs which have mysteriously, in the manner of toys everywhere, multiplied far beyond the original number.

Several people have asked now where in the world I could possibly work that would allow me to not only have toys all over my cube, but not throw a screaming fit about firing off an airsoft pistol in the office. Well, I'm part of an online company's creative department. You know, advertising and such. So between being one of the "creatives" and being a part of the geeky web coders, the toys are actually kinda normal. The airsoft is a bit more unusual, but just about everyone comes down here to use it now.

One day, I am determined, Darth Vader shall fall to a sparkling green BB shot. One day.

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:57 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 26, 2006

Vinyl Update

So other than me not paying attention (No! Imagine that!) and recording most of this album in one channel instead of two, I think the digitizing of my records is going quite well. I've converted a piece of one of my favourite Goofy Gold songs to an MP3 (smaller than an AIFF) for you to listen to. So, remember that I forgot to check 2 channels (left and right) and that I have only done the most basic cleanup on this. Pretty good for a song recorded in analog in 1959 or so.

Click here for a snippet of Johnny Horton's "Battle of New Orleans."

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:01 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 25, 2006

Vinyl

I have a handful of Vinyl left ... some things that I either can't replace on CD, haven't gotten around to replacing yet ... or hold some sentimental value for me. For example, those of you old enough to remember, that is, I have a few records which have photos as part of the vinyl ... the prime one is 2 LPs from Ralph Bakshi's rendition of Lord of the Rings with some of the artwork from the movie.

I also have a record that my grandmother got me ... waaaay back in the day. Her story is that she saw a commercial on tv, and she just knew that this record was for me. She was so right! After getting for my birthday, well, let's just say I'm very surprised I didn't completely wear the thing out. It's full of old novelty songs ... "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor" ... "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" ... "Ahab the Arab" ... "Running Bear" ... "Purple People Eater" ... "General Custer" ... and many many more (I can just hear the K-Tel announcer now).

So, I was reading my copy of MacAddict the other day (actually a few months ago) and I ran across a quickie review of this little beauty:

Ion USB Vinyl Player

Yeah, that's right. A record player that connects directly to your computer through the USB port. With software compatible for Mac, WinDoze and Linux.

I finally received mine yesterday after having it on order for about five months now and I have to say, it was really worth the wait. The software is Open Source software from SourceForge (Audacity, if you're interested) and while the documentation with the turntable was not great, the software did a wonderful job.

So, I snagged my Goofy Gold album and recorded one side of one of the records last night ... without any clean up at all, the sound was pretty decent. "Monster Mash" was a little fuzzy, but that could honestly have been the fault of the record or the recording that I had. "Running Bear" came out nice and clean. Others will follow and I might try to put up a sound bite from one of the songs later this week to give you an idea of the quality. Right now I'm just excited to finally get to listen to some of these songs again!

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:37 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 20, 2006

Play

So I'm in Target the other night and on a whim I decide to look at the Play-Doh because we'd talked about making some little PlayDoh shapes and using those for target practice with the airsoft pistols at work. (Hey, we're the creative department ... we're weird that way.) But I notice that the package does not have the huge Non-Toxic scrawled all over it that I remember from being a kid.

So I actually read the fine print. Content ... blah blah blah. Compound colors may vary. Well, that's fine cuz I'm already planning on mixing the blue and yellow to make green, anyway. Then, in bold ... in a paragraph of its own:

Fun to play with, but not to eat.

Okay, that's kinda funny. I would think if they really wanted kids to not eat the stuff, that statement would be somewhere else instead of in the fine print, but ok, whatever. The next paragraph insists that "Molded results vary depending on child's age and level of skill."

Really!??? Do you mean that Play-Doh does not automatically turn everyone into Michelangelo? Hmm. I was unaware of this.

Then, down past the copyright and the list of Hasbro mailing addresses, there's another bit in boldface:

Modeling compound. Not intended to be eaten.

Now this is all a far cry from the large Non-Toxic label that I remember, so I trotted on over to the Hasbro Play-Doh website in an effort to figure out why Play-Doh was no longer listed as Non-Toxic. It wasn't until I looked at their FAQ that I found this:

PLAY-DOH compound is non-toxic, non-irritating and non-allergenic except as noted: Children who are allergic to wheat gluten may have an allergic reaction to this product.

Okay, this makes sense, I suppose. With the way some people use the word "toxic" to mean harmful at all, it could be considered harmful to kids with wheat allergies.

But what doesn't make sense to me is this:

PlayDohPerfumeBottle

Let's see, purchase $20 bottle of perfume ... or 97 cents for a two-pack of Play-Doh to smear around (and then sculpt nifty effigies of the person you're irritated with and act out lovely Gumby scenes). I mean, if you really want to smell like Play-Doh, why not have the fun of playing with Play-Doh too???

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go buy some Mr. Sketch markers so I can smell like licorice tomorrow at church. :)

Posted by Red Monkey at 1:02 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 16, 2006

Red Monkey

I love antique stores and junk stores. I have this thing for toys, particularly old toys. I'm fascinated by everything from the packaging and advertising to the toys themselves. The problem is a lot of those so-called antique stores - at least the ones that also sell old toys - are really antique store and collectibles store combos. So I'll see a booth full of Nascar stuff next to one with clothes from the 20s and 30s. Not a big deal, really, it's usually all interesting stuff - if it wasn't for the crazy prices some of the collectibles folks tend to charge.

Anyhow, this is about 1999 or 2000 and I'm walking through a pretty cool antique store when I round the corner to the biggest flippin' display of Ty Beanie Babies I've ever seen. And despite their frenzied, must-have popularity, some of these little guys are really cute and clever. I already had a handful of the things, ones I thought were really cool or cute. I have the otter, the Ireland bear and a few others. (Why haven't they made a dolphin yet??) I also have the first monkey they made, cuz I've always really liked monkeys.

So, in this display case they have this really cool new Beanie Baby I haven't seen yet, a little red monkey with a cute tan face and a little fluff of hair on top of his head. I have to have him. DId I mention that some of these collectible places think they can charge 4-5 times the retail prices on a toy that's just come out? Not a toy that's been out and then discontinued, excuse me, "retired." A toy that is currently being mass produced but just barely started hitting the shelves - those toys are worth the retail price. Not "scalper" prices.

So this scalper booth wants $20 or $25 for a $5 stuffed animal. I stomped past, growling and grousing about opportunistic scalpers and this kind of artificial supply and demand being among the worst of human impulses. I do not "have to have" something like a little stuffed animal so badly that I will pay 5x its actual worth. I would pay $1 or $2 more to have it now - I can be that shallow and that careless about my spending money from time to time. But this, this is not capitalism - it's stupidity. Stupidity on the part of the seller and on the part of anyone who gives in and buys the overpriced goods.

Yeah, my friends are tired of that rant, too.

So, later that night, my friends and I are sitting in the living room watching a movie. It's a pseudo-SF movie called Strange Days. It's an awesome movie set just a touch in the future when people don't just watch reality tv, they experience it through virtual programs on the computer.

Well, I'd seen the movie before and it was fast becoming one of my favorites, but I was a little restless and bored that night. So everyone's really really into the movie, the tension's building and I'm kinda looking around the room. I see my little beanie-baby monkey on the bookshelf.

"I really want that red monkey," I say aloud.

The whole room turns to stare at me in shock. "What?"

The movie had to be paused and rewound a bit. Evidently it was a really intense point in the flick.

"What?" I ask, all wounded innocence and surprised at their reaction.

"Where did that come from?" they reply.

"I was just looking around the room and saw my little monkey and that reminded me of the beanie baby we saw in that store today - " there's much eye-rolling at this pronouncement "-and I just realized that I really want that little monkey."

"We're in this intense part of the movie and you're talking about a stuffed monkey?"

Somehow, my explanation did not help my case at all. "I've seen the movie before" I point out helpfully.

"I repeat, we're in this tense and intense part of the movie and you are thinking about a toy monkey?" The room is staring at me now. Finally someone grabs the remote and flips the movie back to play, muttering, "You are so ADD."

You've maybe seen the t-shirt that says "They say I have ADD, but I don't think ...Hey look! A chicken!" Well, my chicken is a red monkey.

Interestingly enough, a year or so later I was diagnosed as ADHD.

Now, I have a McD's teenie beanie version atop my monitor at work and the regular-sized one in the home office.

So, that's the story of the red monkey.

And now you know lots of important tidbits about me.

So now you know.

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:25 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 11, 2006

The Office

Click the thumbnails for a bigger peek into the office of the Red Monkey.

fountain

Randomness. Pick a thumbnail.

Monkey       more monkeys       LEGOs

Can you guess what these things are before you click?

TeenTitans       Robin, Boy Wonder       ToyDrawer       Shooting Targets


My Wall       The Board       Big Red Monkey       Navajo Bear

Posted by Red Monkey at 12:46 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 5, 2006

Hearts

I am a very tangential person. You start talking about tomatoes, and I start thinking about spaghetti sauce which leads to thinking about the cat who LOVES good, chunky tomato spaghetti sauce, which reminds me of how he likes avocadoes, which makes me say aloud, "I want some guacomole." Well, it made sense to me, anyway.

So a couple of years ago, I'm at a conference and there's really not any phone service out there. But we are wired to the internet. So, the ony communication we have is via email because she didn't like the idea of a chat program.

I get this email from her in which she is going on about some Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode she just saw (we both love the show) and then, she tries to be all sweet and romantic at the end of the email. She says something like, "I hold your heart in my hands."

And all I could think was: eeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwww, messy!!!

One of these days I'm going to tell that story one too many times and she's gonna haul off and whack me one.

But really, this says more about my tangential thought processes than anything else.

I wonder when the animated series is gonna finally come out?

And if you could follow my line of thought on that last question, I'll give you 50 BlogMad credits. Put the answer in the comments along with the appropriate web link to what I'm referencing. :)

Oh, and if you're looking for Red Monkey jeans, I don't have any here and I don't know where you can get them, and I wish Google would put Red Monkey Jeans ads in the sidebar so you people could at least get your fricking jeans and get off my site. :) Have a nice day.

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:21 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 16, 2006

I Don't Remember You

So, I'm sure a lot of Christian blogs around the blogosphere are babbling on about resurrection and joy and bunnies and chicks and new life.

I'm gonna tell a couple of kid stories instead.

Of course Easter often brings out folks who haven't been to church in a while, and today was no exception at our church. One couple, who'd missed the last several months while "Anita" went through a rough pregnancy and then finally delivered a whopping 9 pound "Alejo" (and she's a tiny woman). Finally getting back into the swing of things, they were there with both little Alejo and the now three-year-old "Matteo." Matteo and I had a great friendship going before the Alejo hiatus began ... I adore kids when they hit those "terrible twos and threes" and start expressing their personalities and independence. To me, they are just so much fun ... especially because that internal editor is turned off and they blurt out exactly what they mean (and generally what everyone else is thinking, but won't actually say).

So Matteo's being pretty good through a service that is a bit longer than normal until about the time for communion. He starts getting restless, trying to have conversations with the people around him, getting shushed and generally frustrated at every turn.

Then our pastor begins the words of institution ... "on their last night together .... broke bread, blessed it ... do this and remember me."

Matteo pipes up with that calculated look.

"I don't remember you."

Just loud enough to crack up people all around him but not actually loud enough to disturb the pastor and the whole service. Then he shoots me this goofy little gleam in his eyes and gives me that shit-eating grin ... little twerp knew that was going to get a rise out of everyone. ? And boy did it!

The second funny is one from my way-back files.

My mom is the kind of woman who very much prefers to fade into the background and not be noticed. So, having an outspoken and brash three-year-old (my sister, not me ... I was pretty quiet at that time), was a bit of a trial for her. My sister hadn't been in a while, being a little kid and something of a babbly one as well. So, we go, sit in a pew in the middle, but had to sit out toward the middle aisle, not Mom's favourite spot. Suddenly, the church got quiet, the procession started and the young-ish priest began walking down the aisle ... and my sister comes to attention. And asks a question in her ever-so-quiet stage whisper:

"Is that GOD?????"

The whole church broke up in giggles and of course the priest had to come see the little kid who thought he might be God once the service was over.

Ahhh, isn't it great to have that internal editor on your questions and thoughts?

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:27 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 15, 2006

Underground

I remember getting World magazine as a young teenager ... and swiping Dad's National Geographics (no, not to look at the half-naked people from other cultures). I did a science fair project in 3rd or 4th grade about archeology because I was fascinated with the kids' book Secrets from the Past that Mom got me from National Geographic. I was fascinated by stories of the Mayans, Aztec and Incans ... I thought that the underground houses in one issue of World were the coolest things I'd ever seen. I toyed with becoming an archeologist for a long time because I'm fascinated with the thought of uncovering the past. By fifth grade, I was furious that we still took a lame social studies class but had not yet started history class. Instead, we went over the same old ground about the U.S. every year and then added choice bits of culture (most often already out-dated) about other countries. So I turned more and more to those National Geographic publications and learned about as many different cultures and situations and ways of living, being, thinking and learning as I could. The articles were always too short and I found myself going back to the library to find out more about some of the things I'd discovered.

Today, I still have a tendency to want to know more about some of the things I read, particularly about other cultures, but today I have the happy happy internets to get some of that instant gratification research done.

So, I was watching the History International
Channel
last night and came upon a great show called Secret Passages. Last night's episode had a segment on Baldasare Forestiere's Underground Garden just outside Fresno, California.

Magnificent! This is one of the coolest things I've ever seen.

Baldasare came over from Italy, worked his tail end off and eventually bought the perfect land for a great citrus farm of his own.

Unfortunately, just a little ways down, the soil turned to "hardpan" and Baldasare was stumped on how he would ever be able to plant his orchard and give the trees any chance at all of maturing and surviving. Working in others' orchards, Baldasare began building a wooden home on his property and soon realized that in the high temperatures of California, he was simply building a wooden oven for himself.

So, he dug a cellar.

That was the start of what was to become a major obsession. Baldasare soon decided to build his living space underground. He used the hardpan, cement and mortar to build grand roman arches, tunnels, rooms ... and some of the rooms he completely dug from the top down so that you could have the "outdoors, indoors." It was in one of these circular areas that Baldasare built a planter and planted a citrus tree. He wasn't sure if he could truly get it to grow and bear fruit, but his experiment paid off and soon he was planting his orchard ... as much as 22 feet below the surface. For the next forty years, he used just $300 in supplies ... pickaxe, shovel, cement, mortar ... to build the underground gardens.

There's skylights, grape arbors, and even an aquarium in which the fish swim above you.

Baldasare never "struck it rich" in the traditional sense by his move to California. But he claimed that "To make something with lots of money that is easy � but to make something out of nothing... now that is something." He spent forty years building the visions in his head and it was worth far more than the gold rush of the previous century or the lure of TinselTown.

I only saw a 15 minute segment on this place, but I already want to go there, explore every nook and cranny ... take pictures of it all (I didn't find many on the happy happy internets, sadly).

I don't know exactly what it is that fascinates me so about the things we uncover from the earth, from our past. I don't know why caves fascinate me so, or why the thought of the ruined building on Alcatraz (which I can just see on my desktop outside of this window).

Explore the links ... have fun ... imagine.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:14 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 11, 2006

Post 200

This should probably be some really insightful and meaningful post, but you know what? I'm too damn wiped out after the last couple of weeks to be insightful or meaningful. In fact, I'm too wiped out to do much of anything.

You want insightful, go check out Seawave's Soliloquy or Living with Multiple Personalities.

Or, you want meaningful and insightful, check out Anna Nalick's "Breathe (2 A.M.)." You can listen to a snippet of the song there on her site. I picked the song up on iTunes this morning and haven't stopped listening to it yet ... I do that with songs sometimes. When they hit that perfect mood and message that I know I need to internalize ... and this one came about at exactly the right time for me.

Here's the lyrics:

"Breathe (2 AM)"
Anna Nalick

2 AM and she calls me 'cause I'm still awake,
"Can you help me unravel my latest mistake?,
I don't love him. Winter just wasn't my season"
Yeah we walk through the doors, so accusing their eyes
Like they have any right at all to criticize,
Hypocrites. You're all here for the very same reason
'Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button, girl.
So cradle your head in your hands
And breathe... just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe
May he turn 21 on the base at Fort Bliss
"Just a Day", he said down to the flask in his fist,
"Ain't been sober, since maybe October of last year."
Here in town you can tell he's been down for a while,
But, my God, it's so beautiful when the boy smiles,
Wanna hold him. Maybe I'll just sing about it.
Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable,
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table.
No one can find the rewind button, boys,
So cradle your head in your hands,
And breathe... just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe
There's a light at each end of this tunnel,
You shout 'cause you're just as far in as you'll ever be out
And these mistakes you've made, you'll just make them again
If you only try turning around.
2 AM and I'm still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them, however you want to
But you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable,
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button now
Sing it if you understand.
and breathe, just breathe
woah breathe, just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe.

There are some weeks when all I can do is wish for that damn rewind button even though I know I really don't want it. I don't really want to rewind to back then ... and all I can do is cradle my head in my hands ...

and breathe.

There's simply too many things running around in my head, too many thoughts, emotions and so little to actually do.

So for now, I'll just breathe.

(And I think that me listening to this song on endless repeat must be what people feel like when they get stoned ... I'm sooooo mellow right now.)

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:31 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 10, 2006

(de)Motivate Me

While surfing around and being a lazy scum this weekend, I discovered a site that has those beautiful motivational posters. I want this one desperately:

And then, of course, there's this one:

This one seemed highly appropriate last week at work:

And this one seemed appropriate this past weekend:

And then these two were just too good not to share as well:



Enjoy! These are all from www.despair.com ... and if anyone wants to get me the one on Sacrifice, I will GLADLY post pictures of it up in our cubicle area for your amusement.

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:09 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 18, 2006

Sky Surfer: the Update

< GeekFest>
Okay ... so I'm interrupting the seriousness and all to bring overjoyful happy happy news.

Back in mid-December, I talked about The Sky Surfer, a toy that I have been haunting eBay for ever since I first opened an account some 10 years ago. Well, I finally won an eBay auction for the Sky Surfer.

YEA!!!!! It should be here sometime this week ... yes ... I've only waited about 20 years to get this thing back.

< /GeekFestOver>

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:47 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 6, 2006

NEWSFLASH

Whole internet outage scheduled for today at 1 p.m., eastern time. You have just minutes left to backup every internet file you have or risk losing it all. Most financial institutions in utter panic as they frantically attempt to re-learn the use of the abacus to prepare for the loss of the internet.

This is not a drill ... burn all data to CD or DVD and they might just survive this internet outage. Flash drives/Jump drives will be vulnerable to invasion by remote virus at this desperate time. Hard drives will be deleted. This is the worst internet disaster since Galileo claimed the Earth moved around the Sun.

Keep in mind that all satellite TV will go down, most traffic lights (unless you live in a small city) ... and most of all ... you're going to lose your blog.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled surfing. Enjoy your last few moments of free surf, tomorrow you'll have to go outside and surf waves instead.

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:48 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 27, 2006

What's in a name?

I first discovered this little acrophonology site through Ms. Cat Eyes' site, Living with Multiple Personalities. (And, let me say, she's got a WONDERFUL site here!)

The acrophonology site is something about letters and names actually shaping or reflecting who you are. While some of the stuff doesn't reflect me (in my opinion, anyway), it was kinda creepy how much of this felt true. Of course, all good oracular pronouncements are that way. :)
What's interesting is you can see how this is based on the letters in your name ... for example, my middle name has 2 Rs ... and you can see two sentences repeated in that section. You can see those same two sentences repeated in the last name ... where there are again 2 Rs in those spots. However, the first name doesn't have that sentence ... not because there's no R, but because the R is the first letter instead of in the middle of the word. Interesting.

firstname:
You make impersonal decisions quickly, but not so with personal concerns. You like to think things over carefully, but tend to be indecisive. You have a great deal of loyalty to those you love. You have much inner strength. You are a constructive thinker. You have a need for monetary security. You are relatively demonstrative in your affections. You enjoy being stroked verbally and physically. You can handle details well. You have a methodical mind.

middlename:
You are a quick study, and can be self-taught. Your curiosity can get the best of you, but you must learn to concentrate. You work hard to achieve material success through your own efforts. You have a lack of confidence in your mental abilities and do not like being forced into giving your opinion. You need to learn to give and receive love for love's sake. You have a need to be assured of affection. You try to be prudent. You have good business acumen. Your privacy is important to you. You have a rich inner life. You need to learn flexibility. You have a talent for working with people on a one to one basis. You need to learn the true value of material possessions. You have a natural protection in life. You are always saved - especially from yourself. You can be quite inventive and quite curious. You have a lack of confidence in your mental abilities and do not like being forced into giving your opinion.

lastname:
You want to be productive and feel useful, and enjoy helping solve problems. You like to be busy and not waste time. You have much enthusiasm with a driving attitude toward achievement in life. You need to learn concentration and not to scatter your mental energies. You have a lack of confidence in your mental abilities and do not like being forced into giving your opinion. You need to learn flexibility. You have a lack of confidence in your mental abilities and do not like being forced into giving your opinion. You need to learn to give and receive love for love's sake. You have a need to be assured of affection. You need to learn to be expressive. You are a person who cannot tolerate being misunderstood.

Heehee ... "you are a person who cannot tolerate being misunderstood." That is SUCH an understatement.

And, to round off this post, here's a related tidbit ... a meme from Lonnie over at OneManBandWidth involving looking up your name on Googlify. I was going to ignore the meme despite the fact that I love Lonnie dearly ... because I HATE MEMES. Ugh ... yuck. But, this seemed to fit into the whole name thing, so I'm gonna do it ... I'm just not going to tag anyone else :D

So ... there's this site called Googlism. Put your name in there and it Googles you and comes up with some really funky quotes ... "what Google thinks of you." Since Lonnie tagged me using my internet handle, and knowing that "Ender" will bring up some interesting quotes, that's what I used. (Besides, my full name didn't yield any hits, dammit.)

So, here are the hits for "Ender":
ender is female???
...heehee. I love the internet. There's a good chance that this particular tidbit is actually about me instead of the character ... since I don't talk about whether or not I'm male or female very often, there are still a lot of people who know me on the internet who don't know if I'm male or female and continually question this. If you look through the blog carefully, you'll find out. Of course, the faster way is to hit the Home button on the top of the page and look through my larger site. The SCG link in particular will put all doubts to rest.

ender is lying on the raft laconically looking at the overcast sky
... great line from Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

ender is by far superior
ender is brave
ender is silly
ender is a special guy
...Well, all of these just go without saying ... of course I am.

ender is made of durable abs plastic that installs easily and quickly at both ends of the tub
... Damn! I'm plastic????

ender is a child genius with a probable iq of about 300
...Well, duh. Anyone who's seen the toy collection knows I'm a child. And, of course, if I'm a child AND I've taught college writing, then it logically follows that I must be a child genius.

ender is a turkish word meaning "rare or unusual" hmmm
... I did not add that "hmmm," that was part of the Googlify thing. I'll agree. I'm both rare and unusual. Most people are quite happy about that. More Enders might just make the world a VERY odd place!

ender is an ergonomically correct way to insure that your worst painting nightmare won't come true-the paint can falls off of the ladder
... I have no idea what to say to this one. I'm ergonomic AND a genius??? Cool!

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:12 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 19, 2006

Small Things

Just a quick entry to show what I've been up to lately ... I just got a Nikon Coolpix 8700 (tax return treat, don't ya know). I thought I'd take a few stills and get used to the camera ... it's far more advanced than anything that I've owned in quite a while.

This is simply a little "shrine" of special things that I have in my home office room. The bits of driftwood are from Lake Michigan and my time at the Wakonse teaching conference. The stones are various pieces that I've found or bought over the years. The little pitcher is from my time in New Mexico, the beaded bookmarker is from my sister's trip to Colombia and the medicine pouch was a gift from friends during my bout with cancer.

And, of course, Robin (as in Batman &) features off to the left, with my favourite Fisher Price Little People, Chris, in the back center.

Nothing fancy nor super-interesting ... just learning the new camera. :)

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:48 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

January 6, 2006

Household Rulers

They rule, of course, by assuming that they rule. Here's a photo of Scraps just after I've gotten up in the morning. He's a bit unthrilled about the hour of morning when we get up and leave for work. In fact, he doesn't really understand why we ever bother to leave. Given his druthers, he'd stay tucked in bed like this all day every day.

Of course, the fact that we don't do his bidding upsets our little prince terribly. Lazy hound that he is, he's sure he ought to be running things.

And then there's Scout.
Which is pretty much how we usually refer to her. Scraps is a pretty normal male hound (even if he is a tiny little dachshund). He's lazy, he's protective, and he's got lots of personality.

And then there's this one.

The little princess ... those are my pillows she's perched on ... the same morning as Scraps is sleeping with the toy dog.

I'm feeling a little extra protective of the dogs lately. We've just recently figured out that Scraps' "little episodes" are most likely canine epilepsy. He starts out by either snapping at his blankie as if it's biting him or he begins a particular frantic and obsessive pacing. This is followed by him completely losing his balance ... so badly the other day, I thought he was going to literally land on his back. It's a terrifying thing to watch.

But once I jumped online and did a little bit of research, I realized that it's "just" epilepsy and a fairly mild form at that. We'd talked to the vet a bit about it before and he had us put Scraps on Benedryl twice a day which, when we remember it, has kept the episodes to a minimum. Now that we have a better idea what it is, though, we've been keeping to a more rigid time schedule on his meds and it seems to be helping a bit more.

And he just loves his "magic cheese" -- a bit of an american cheese slice with half a Benedryl pill stuck inside. Jealous, of course, Scout gets some "mundane cheese" without the medicine.

It's a good thing to know what's wrong with him instead of simply being scared for him. I was afraid that it was some kind of neurological damage left over from when, as a six month old pup of about 8 or 9 pounds, he ate an entire one pound dark chocolate bar. Since dark chocolate and baker's chocolate acts as a toxin to dogs, staying in their system and building up each time they manage to scrounge a bit, I'd been more than a little concerned that this had caused some kind of damage ... but considering that his epilepsy started right at the expected time period for genetic epilepsy, I'm starting to relax a bit and feeling a lot less like it's somehow my fault.
(And if you know something about chocolate causing such neurological damage or epilepsy in dogs, please don't tell me!)

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:53 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 16, 2005

A Picture

Albuquerque, New Mexico. 1973.

After the humidity of Houston, New Mexico seemed like heaven to me. As much as I love Texas, Houston just isn't made for asthmatic kids ... Albuquerque was easier on my allergies and my asthma ... and I responded to it by constantly wanting to be outside.

I was fascinated, as most three and four year olds are, by the pueblos we passed and the buildings made of adobe. But 1973 was also a time of stress for anyone living in "Indian Country." Native, white, black, latino ... tensions were particularly high. In 1972, the American Indian Movement (AIM) began talks with Washington, D.C., in an attempt to begin rectifying some of the terrible conditions on many of the reservations and general rights of native Americans. And, of course, the Wounded Knee "incident" was in 1973 as well.

I didn't know any of this back then, of course. All I knew was that the air was dry and I could breathe and the outdoors was beautiful and very very different from the towering pine trees and skyscrapers of Houston. We weren't too far from some "mountain" or another ... I've since looked at maps and it must have just been a mesa or tallish hill. But evidently after being outside-deprived for so long, I would bolt out the door at the slightest provocation, causing Mom tons of trouble. Instead of don't let the dog out, visitors heard, "don't let Red Monkey out!"

I would fly out the door and haul-ass to the nearby mesa, trying to make my way to the top before Mom could catch up with me.

The crowning blow for my mom was our trip to "The Mall" in Santa Fe. Evidently, I became fascinated with one of the local vendors and didn't notice when Mom walked off to go to another shop. I wanted to know what everything this poor guy had made meant. I was sure that every bit of it had meaning, from the crappy little vinyl pouch-thing in kid-fantastic bright turquoise with beads in a thunderbird design, to the little painted pitchers of red clay. I was busily quizzing this poor man when Mom finally came back for me ... just in time for her to hear me announce to the guy:

"When I grow up, I'm gonna be an indian, too!"

We moved to Oklahoma City shortly after that ... but I never forgot that fascination with New Mexico and running up the mesas.

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:41 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 14, 2005

The Sky Surfer

I am, without a doubt, a huge geek. That's cool, I enjoy being a geek. Because I'm a techie kind of geek, I was an early adopter of computers; I fiddled with programming; I played D&D; I played with toys. I don't care ... I think being an adult also means being a kid and remembering how to have fun. I'm not so invested in being an adult that I can't also remember what a mystery and delight the first day of kindergarten turned out to be.

So, being a techie kind of geek, I was also an early adopter of eBay. I was also rather cautious at first ... I only bid an amount of money that I could afford to lose. That meant I mostly just bid a few dollar here and there for some things that I'd like to have. After almost ten years on eBay, I've only been ripped off once ... not bad.

Also, being a geek who is into action figures, most of my purchases have been toy-related. I've nearly completed my collection of Fisher Price Little People.

This little green boy is from the first Fisher Price play family that I had, so he's circa 1971 or so. But, he's one of the few Little People that I have left. To keep an incredibly long story relatively short, let's just say that by the time I was ten, my sister and I had a LOT of Fisher Price Little People and their attendant accessories (most of the buildings were given away by the time I was ten).

I was going to try to find a way to tell you how important those little wooden (and later, plastic) "peoples" were to me ... but it's a terribly depressing story that I'm sure you don't want to hear. So, let me just describe what one incident that ought to make the rest of this post make a little more sense.

At 15 I was mostly done with my toys, of course. I wanted to buy some good Rubbermaid storage containers and put all of my Fisher Price Little People ... and Adventure People (the precursors to the Star Wars action figures that everyone else had) into these containers, store them in the attic and give them to my kids. These little guys had meant so much to me that I was positive that my kids - whenever I got around to having some - would love them every bit as much as me.

My mom told me no.

There would be no storing them in the attic. There would be no renting of a storage unit (which, really, would have been overkill ... I had a lot, but not THAT many). There would be no keeping them at all.

Instead, I was told to have a garage sale just to sell off the Adventure People action figures. No, I don't know why she made that decision.

Unfortunately for me, my sister decided that I was going to make a million dollars at this garage sale, so she decided to sell off all of our Little People. I threw a raging fit and managed to get some of them saved. The castle went out to Grandma's house. A few of the Adventure People sets (the ones that didn't sell) also went to Grandma's.

And the day of the garage sale, I was literally going through the things my sister had put out for sale and began shoving favourite Little People into my pockets to transport back into the house. I saved Chris that way as well as the other members of that very first family I had. And I saved Tommy, Smitty, Peter and a few others. I let Chris's best friend go (he, oddly enough, never had a name like many of the others did).

I had wanted to hide some of the Adventure People as well, particularly the kite and the guy who rode on it like a hang glider. this set:



As it turns out, you see, that set was recalled ... evidently the little guy fell out and bonked some kid on the head. Well, I incurred my mom's wrath by choosing to ignore the recall and refusing to return the toy ... after all, I knew I wasn't gonna sue Fisher Price if I bonked myself on the head with the kite!

Fast forward to today. I have almost completed my Fisher Price collections ... I have nearly every Little People set and accessory and the same for the Adventure People. Except, I can't find that Sky Surfer anywhere.

It was on eBay this week. And somehow, I just couldn't stay up late enough to protect my high bid from the snipers. I knew when I woke up this morning that I had probably lost the auction. And yet, when I went to the computer first thing to check ... I was just like that slightly older little kid opening birthday presents ... knowing intellectually that the "pony" (or whatever the most-wanted present was that year) was most likely not there. But still unable to quench that quick rush of hope, that maybe, just maybe, the fates had been kind and the most wanted toy ever was really there waiting for me.

Nope. I was outbid.

One of these days I will find that Fisher Price kite and complete my collection. Someone asked me today if I would fly the kite if I ever got it. You bet! These toys are meant to be played with, not protected under glass.

In fact, if I ever get rich, I intend to build a nice little outbuilding and set up my Fisher Price Town (tm) and make a kind of showplace for these favourite old toys. I've already laid out the streets, figured out where the airports go, the main street, the village, the gas station, the lumberyard ... even Sesame Street has its place.

And, of course, the Sky Surfer will be hanging from the ceiling, surveying the whole place from his kite-hang-glider.

For me, at least, nothing has ever captured that level of pure joy and imagination as my Fisher Price did.

Posted by Red Monkey at 2:38 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 11, 2005

sssssore

Went snowboarding for about 7-8 hours today ... first weekend the slopes were open ... first time to 'board since last year.

Nothing broken, lots of improvement, but dear lord am I TIRED and SORE.

Real posts should resume tomorrow. :)

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:13 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 5, 2005

Airport Security

I love toys ... and Playmobil consistently makes some of the best toys ever. To that end, I give you:
The Airport Screening Playset.

And yes, you can truly order this magnificent piece of semi-reality and stage your own scenes of mass privacy invasion. Doesn't that female security guard look just a little TOO eager to use the wand? I think she's got a pat-down planned out already.

Playmobil charges a mere $14.99 for this set.

But be sure to check out the full scenario that has been staged for your enjoyment at The Airport Screening Playset. You'll love it ... I promise.

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:56 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

November 25, 2005

Dr. Seuss & the Computer

Another funny ... which reminds me, do you have a green star on your belly? the best of the best have a green star upon thars!

What If Dr. Suess Did Technical Writing?
*****************************************

Here's an easy game to play.
Here's an easy thing to say:

If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port,
And the bus is interrupted as a very last resort,
And the address of the memory makes your floppy disk abort,
Then the socket packet pocket has an error to report!

If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash,
And the double-clicking icon puts your window in the trash,
And your data is corrupted "cause the index doesn't hash,
Then your situation's hopeless,and your system's gonna crash!

You can't say this!
What a shame sir!
We'll find you
Another game sir.

If the label on the cable on the table at your house,
Says the network is connected to the button on your mouse,
But your packets want to tunnel on another protocol,
That's repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall,

And your screen is all distorted by the side a
effects of gauss
So your icons in the window are as wavy as a souse,
Then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang,
"Cause as sure as I'm a poet, the sucker's gonna hang!

When the copy of your floppy's getting sloppy on the disk,
And the microcode instructions cause unnecessary risk,
Then you have to flash your memory and you'll want to RAM your ROM.
Quickly turn 0ff the computer and be sure to tell your Mom!

Posted by Red Monkey at 2:55 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

November 11, 2005

This is what Boredom looks like

I'm the hunting kitty down the hallway ....

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:48 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

October 21, 2005

Ahhh, the much anticipated Fall THAW

It may sound odd, but every fall I have one great anticipation. Last year and the year before, this was a big THUGgish of me, but this year it's bringing spring into my least favourite time of the year and that's a good thing.

Tony Hawk's American Wasteland came out Tuesday. I was a little behind the curve and only heard about it last week ... I'd not quite finished THUG2 and wasn't thinking that the next game would really come out this fall. But, sure enough, here it is. THAW. Ahhh, I can feel the relief of spring air already warming up the stupid freaking chill that fall is bringing.

And, as if that weren't enough for my skateboard fix, one of the guys at the church is going to go to the skatepark with me Saturday and teach me to ollie. I'm psyched.

I started playing last night, of course, and began in story mode. I won't bore those non-gamers out there with a super-long entry, but suffice it to say that
1) best storyline so far
2) no levels is growing on me - they found a way "around" the level thing
3) they actually have a chic in the game who's not a huge-boobed dimwitted idiot ... which makes the huge-boobed dimwitted idiot that we see at the start of the game actually funny instead of pissing me off again.

At any rate, I'm likely to be a bit distracted this weekend by the THAW (and skateboarding in general).

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:32 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

September 29, 2005

time in a bottle

After graduation and drinkin' goodbye to friends
And I go back to watchin summer fade to fall
Growin up too fast and I do recall
Wishin' time would stop right in its tracks
Everytime I hear that song, I go back, I go back
We all have a song that somehow stamped our lives
Takes us to another place and time
So I go back ...
Kenny Chesney -- "I Go Back" -- When the Sun Goes Down, 2004

I have always been fascinated with time. As a kid, I can remember just pondering about the concept of "tomorrow." I always thought that was just the coolest concept, the idea of fresh beginnings. But I also thought the concept of "yesterday" was equally fascinated. I'm a Sci-Fi geek who loves the past -- not so much a contradiction as it may sound. Not all cultures have those concepts. The Dineh, for example, and I think most of the pueblo tribes, don't have a past tense or a future tense for their verbs. All time was fluid to them (in the old cultures -- I'm sure most modern Laguna Pueblos, or Hopis, or whoever, have no problems with our Western concepts of time now).

I was also fascinated by knowing -- even at seven, eleven, thirteen -- that I would one day be looking back to those ages and get that nostalgic feeling. Not necessarily wanting to be that kid again or be back in that time again.

In fact, I can still remember the day I learned about the concepts of yesterday and tomorrow. My mom, Grandma and I were in the car, exiting a highway and in the middle of one of those cloverleaf round-abouts that spit you back out into local traffic. I don't remember what led up to the conversation, I just remember that light bulb going off in my head -- tomorrow is like we're endlessly exiting this highway, I thought to myself. It's full of possibilities, but we'll never actually get to "tomorrow" because there's always another one following right behind it. Time is this weird cloverleaf circle that never ends -- you can look behind to see where you've been, but you never get back to it, and you never reach that "destination" of tomorrow.

What's odd, besides the fact that I was thinking this at age five, was that I can still remember that feeling that went with this revelation about time. It's one of those typical little kid feelings that I think we adults tend to forget as we get older: that feeling that the world is a magical place, full of wonder and completely amazed at all of the concepts and ideas around me. It's an exciting feeling, thinking about all of that potential out there.

In fact, despite being one of those kids who got the rubber-stamped "not living up to full potential" on the report cards, I have always hung on to that feeling of tomorrow's potential. I'm not one to say it's too late to change careers (I may not enjoy having a forced change of career, but there's potential still out there). I don't mind the thought of going back to school to learn something new. I just choose to place my efforts into what I'm interested in -- both back in the day during schooling -- and today. Sure, I'd like to make a million bucks a year and not have to do anything I don't want to do. But I'd rather strike a balance between doing what I love, living the life I feel is right, and paying bills. Why worry about getting A++s in school but not be worried about not having social skills? I knew kids like that. Why? Why spend absolutely all your time studying and not spend any time living? Seemed stupid. I found a balance that I was happy with, despite my mother's demands that I do some all-nighters to get even better grades. Why? I was already on the honor roll. I felt it was important to also have time for my creative writing and for my hobbies.

After all, there's always tomorrow, right around the corner from today. And if your time is up and there are no more tomorrows for you, isn't it better to have lived your life for you than for someone else?

None of us ever get everything done before we die. We always leave before that one, last thing is done. Isn't it better to try to live a life balanced in a way that makes you happy instead of trying to do what everyone else thinks you should?

I woke up this morning with that snippet of Kenny Chesney's song in my head. I haven't heard it lately as I've been listening to a playlist on my iPod that I call "writing," and that song doesn't match the mood of the others. Anyhow, it's true, what Kenny says. There are songs that take all of us back to another time and place.

For me, hearing REO Speedwagon goes to high school. Journey's "Open Arms" takes me to my first junior high dance and my first dance. A guy named J.T. asked me to dance and I was so surprised to have a guy interested in me.

Remember the theme song from St. Elmo's Fire? The title is something like "Break My Stride," but the line is "ain't nothing gonna break-a my stride." That takes me back to junior high and high school basketball. Long bus rides to rival high schools and long bus rides back home, after dark, watching out the bus windows at the passing lights. I'd get lost in my headphones, watching as we left town and passed through the woods at night. Possibilities. That's what I'd think as we passed through town. Think of all the people out there, all the stories they have. And the dark woods. The possibilities, the tomorrows out there in the woods ... the potential.

Yeah, I was an odd kid. But you know what? I was happy with that. Still am. I've always been content to march to my own internal drummer and I've always felt somewhat sorry for those people who either can't hear that internal rhythm or choose to try to ignore it in favor of trying to please everyone else.

Just some ruminations. Anyone else wanna add any thoughts?

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:23 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

September 16, 2005

Original Battlestar Galactica Flight Jacket???

Like many kids who grew up watching the Original Battlestar Galactica show in the 70s, I want a flight jacket. You can get them on eBay and some decent costuming online stores ... but they're made out of cloth. Now, I'm sure the original ones were actually made out of cloth and the purists in the world of SF-geekdom have to make things exactly right. I understand that. I dig it.

But I thought they were made out of leather when I watched the show back in the day.

I've found Chris Pappas' site where he sells several costuming bits.

What I can't find is the pattern for a Battlestar Galactica flight jacket so I can make my dream jacket out of leather.

Google is failing me. Anyone know where you can find a pattern for one of these awesome jackets?

UPDATE - March 9, 2011
I have found a pattern!

The Colonial Fleets message board is an artists' site dedicated to the original show. A member there, Marla Trowbridge and her friend Curtis Kidd, have created a pattern and offers it freely. Close ups of the pattern pieces are on this post at the Colonial fleets site. Please note you do need to sign up for a membership in order to see the pattern images.

In addition, Marla has posted some in process pictures of her making a jacket, including a leather one! These are on her Facebook page (which is a public album, so you don't have to have a Facebook account to see this).

Now I just need to source the buckles again ... can't remember where in the world I saw those for sale a while back. Thought it was Chris Pappas' site, but apparently not.

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:44 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 19, 2005

Silliness and Distractions

Various and sundry bits of silliness and distraction while I finish the tale of the bad ghost.

From the amazing, and deceased, Mitch Hedberg:

I think Bigfoot is blurry, that's the problem. It's not the photographer's fault. Bigfoot is blurry. And that's extra scary to me, because there's a large, out-of-focus monster roaming the countryside. Run. He's fuzzy. Get outta here.

And then there's this:



What Famous Leader Are You?
personality tests by similarminds.com

And to completely back that up, there's this:



What Classic Movie Are You?
personality tests by similarminds.com

hehehe
Those are both based on the 45 question tests --check them out, it's pretty funny.

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:21 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 10, 2005

Hmmm, More on the Speed of Dark

Very interesting ... I found this at lunch today: The Adhd-Autism Connection : A Step Toward More Accurate Diagnoses and Effective Treatments by Diane Kennedy.

Ever since I read Stephen Levy's Hackers, I've thought that a lot of computer geeks sure seem to be ADD or ADHD. Just reading about the personalities of the folks who worked on and with the first computers -- I mean, there's almost a single personality type there (with two classifications: introverted/extroverted ... insofar as any geek gets extroverted).

And given the sense of recognition while reading the Moon book ... I'm just saying ... very interesting.

More on this soon.

Posted by Red Monkey at 12:05 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 28, 2005

I Have NO Self-Control

Okay. I'll admit it. I'm weak. I went from thinking about my Commodore-64 to idly blipping through eBay . . . I know, I know. I couldn't resist. Yep, I bid and won a C-64 with monitor and old 1541 disk drive. And some software.

While I was flitting around the C-64 stuff on eBay, I did notice that NO ONE had my favorite game of all time: it was either called Space Shuttle or Space Station. It came in a container similar to a Disney VHS -- all plastic-y and big, unlike most software in its little cardboard box. This game, though, was really complicated, which meant that it was nearly impossible to complete a game on the old 64 kb Commodore. First, you picked out your shuttle crews -- you had profiles of all these different scientists and you were supposed to try to match up their psych and personality profiles AND make sure that you had the scientific specialties that you needed. You had to schedule enough scientific experiments and payloads for other companies/countries to keep your NASA program in the black. Then, you have to schedule the actual shuttle launches and get enough pieces of your space station in orbit so that you could do more involved scientific experiments and make enough money to fund the rest of the project.

I never did finish a game. I'd set aside a nice chunk of time . . . get everything set up . . . play for maybe 30 minutes . . . and then Mom would decide I'd been on the computer too long.

Damn! It just occurred to me that this pretty much still happens to me today. I get a chunk of time all set aside for working/playing on the computer (hey, it's all the same thing to me) . . . get everything set up . . . really get into the project . . . and then something from outside the computer demands my attention. Time to feed the dogs; time to go to bed; time to go to work; time to let my other half work on her criminal justice paper . . . details, details, details.

The worst, actually, is being deep into doing something in Photoshop or Dreamweaver and then having to pee. I don't want to stop and lose my place in the project. I'm going to forget that niggling little bit of code that I've been fine-tuning for an hour. It will just take me a second to get the last of the background cut out.

Did you ever notice that computer time and "real world" time are NOT the same? They flow at vastly different rates. A thinks that I'm just hyper-focusing again and need to up my Strattera. I maintain that there is some weird time vortex secreted in all processors - Motorola and Intel alike.

At any rate, I can't wait to get my hands on that C-64 later this week. Now if I can just find copies of all my favorite EA games: MULE, for one. Then there's Broderbund's Bard's Tale games. Blue Max.

Oh! Did you hear, did you hear? There's going to be a NEW Bard's Tale game. Oh, and the PS 3 is due out in March of '06. I'm saving my pennies now.

I think my Strattera wore off.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:52 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 16, 2005

The Story of the Red Monkey

I love antique stores and junk stores. I have this thing for toys, particularly old toys. I'm fascinated by everything from the packaging and advertising to the toys themselves. The problem is a lot of those so-called antique stores - at least the ones that also sell old toys - are really antique store and collectibles store combos. So I'll see a booth full of Nascar stuff next to one with clothes from the 20s and 30s. Not a big deal, really, it's usually all interesting stuff - if it wasn't for the crazy prices some of the collectibles folks tend to charge.

Anyhow, this is about 1999 or 2000 and I'm walking through a pretty cool antique store when I round the corner to the biggest flippin' display of Ty Beanie Babies I've ever seen. And despite their frenzied, must-have popularity, some of these little guys are really cute and clever. I already had a handful of the things, ones I thought were really cool or cute. I have the otter, the Ireland bear and a few others. (Why haven't they made a dolphin yet??) I also have the first monkey they made, cuz I've always really liked monkeys.

So, in this display case they have this really cool new Beanie Baby I haven't seen yet, a little red monkey with a cute tan face and a little fluff of hair on top of his head. I have to have him. DId I mention that some of these collectible places think they can charge 4-5 times the retail prices on a toy that's just come out? Not a toy that's been out and then discontinued, excuse me, "retired." A toy that is currently being mass produced but just barely started hitting the shelves - those toys are worth the retail price. Not "scalper" prices.

So this scalper booth wants $20 or $25 for a $5 stuffed animal. I stomped past, growling and grousing about opportunistic scalpers and this kind of artificial supply and demand being among the worst of human impulses. I do not "have to have" something like a little stuffed animal so badly that I will pay 5x its actual worth. I would pay $1 or $2 more to have it now - I can be that shallow and that careless about my spending money from time to time. But this, this is not capitalism - it's stupidity. Stupidity on the part of the seller and on the part of anyone who gives in and buys the overpriced goods.

Yeah, my friends are tired of that rant, too.

So, later that night, my friends and I are sitting in the living room watching a movie. It's a pseudo-SF movie called Strange Days. It's an awesome movie set just a touch in the future when people don't just watch reality tv, they experience it through virtual programs on the computer.

Well, I'd seen the movie before and it was fast becoming one of my favorites, but I was a little restless and bored that night. So everyone's really really into the movie, the tension's building and I'm kinda looking around the room. I see my little beanie-baby monkey on the bookshelf.

"I really want that red monkey," I say aloud.

The whole room turns to stare at me in shock. "What?"

The movie had to be paused and rewound a bit. Evidently it was a really intense point in the flick.

"What?" I ask, all wounded innocence and surprised at their reaction.

"Where did that come from?" they reply.

"I was just looking around the room and saw my little monkey and that reminded me of the beanie baby we saw in that store today - " there's much eye-rolling at this pronouncement "-and I just realized that I really want that little monkey."

"We're in this intense part of the movie and you're talking about a stuffed monkey?"

Somehow, my explanation did not help my case at all. "I've seen the movie before" I point out helpfully.

"I repeat, we're in this tense and intense part of the movie and you are thinking about a toy monkey?" The room is staring at me now. Finally someone grabs the remote and flips the movie back to play, muttering, "You are so ADD."

You've maybe seen the t-shirt that says "They say I have ADD, but I don't think ...Hey look! A chicken!" Well, my chicken is a red monkey.

Interestingly enough, a year or so later I was diagnosed as ADHD.

Now, I have a McD's teenie beanie version atop my monitor at work and the regular-sized one in the home office.

So, that's the story of the red monkey.

And now you know lots of important tidbits about me.

  1. I collect toys
  2. I rant about scalpers and other stupid people
  3. I like SF and computer-type movies
  4. I like comic books
  5. I have ADHD
  6. I like monkeys, evidently particularly red ones

Important tidbits that got left out:

  1. Apple computers rock
  2. WWdN rules
  3. I'm from Texas
  4. Notre Dame sucks
  5. I'm utterly fascinated with the southwestern tribes and the concepts of hozho and koyaanisqatsi
  6. Hodgkin's disease is Cancer Lite

So now you know.

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:36 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble