Kubuntu, Firefox, Adobe, GoodReads and Opera: Can’t we all just get along?

Yesterday, I switched from Firefox to Opera on my Kubuntu Linux install, primarily for performance reasons. I’m running Kubuntu from a USB thumb drive and in the past few weeks I’ve found that Firefox 3.0 is entirely unusable for 5-10 minutes at a time while Ubuntu reads and/or writes to the thumb drive. This seems to happen on a regular basis; perhaps once every 30 minutes. I noticed that I didn’t have the same issues when using the Konqueror browser, but I can’t say I’m a big fan of Konqueror. So I installed Opera and so far have not seen the same performance issue I did with Firefox 3.0. Granted, I haven’t quite gotten the Adobe Flash Player plugin working yet, but that’s a minor quibble; I’m okay with sacrificing the ability to view videos on YouTube if it means the browser doesn’t lock up for 20 minutes out of every hour.

I thought by now we were beyond the whole “this site best viewed in” garbage from the Great Browser War, but apparently I was mistaken. I browsed to GoodReads last night and saw this:

Browser recommendations from GoodReads

Now, I really like GoodReads; it feeds into my obsession for keeping track of my stuff online and allows me to see what my Interfriends have been reading. It’s part pack rat’s delight, part social network. But no “official support” for Opera (the only browser that, once upon a yesterday, I paid for)? What kind of nonsense is that?

Spice World: The Many Versions of Frank Herbert’s Dune

Audio Renaissance presents Frank Herbert's DuneI’ve been a little Dune-crazy over the past couple of weeks. It all started when I stumbled across the Audio Renaissance production of Dune on CD at the local library. Several weeks of 15-minute (and occasionally longer) chunks of audio later I finished the 18-CD production. I followed that with the 1984 film version directed by David Lynch and starring Kyle MacLa…McLach…Maclach…Jürgen Prochnow. Two hours and seventeen minutes later, ((This is the theatrical running time of Lynch’s version. An “extended version” edited for television adds another 30 minutes, but I decided to stick with the original this time.)) I started watching the miniseries produced by the SciFi Channel in 2000.

That’s a lot of sand.

In fact, it’s just under twenty-nine hours of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood, the weirding way, the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, CHOAM, Fremen, carryalls, Shai-Hulud, Paul Muad’Dib and above all, the spice melange. If you add the time I spent poring through the Dune Wiki, I’m sure my total time invested in matters relating to the desert planet Arrakis is well over thirty hours.

Oops, almost forgot: I installed Emperor: Battle for Dune on my PC, too. Might as well tack on another two or three hours of playtime (so far) to that total.

So, how do the various iterations of Frank Herbert’s science-fiction masterpiece measure up against one another?

Frank Herbert's DuneLet’s start with the book: I’ve never finished it. Like Stephen King’s The Stand, the first volume of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series and The Bible, ((NIV Study Version)) Dune is a book that I’ve started multiple times but have never managed to finish. In fact, I’ve got all six of Herbert’s original Dune novels in paperback but I’ve only ever read the first half of the first volume. I consider this an abyssmal failure on my part and it almost certainly reveals a fatal character flaw.

Fortunately, I’m of the opinion that listening to the unabridged audio version of a novel counts as reading it ((That assertion is certainly up for debate, but I already know which way I’ll cast my vote should the issue ever appear on the ballot, and there’s little anyone can say to sway me.)) and, as far as I can tell, the Audio Renaissance production is unabridged. Double-fortunately, Audio Renaissance has completed audio versions of at least three of Herbert’s original Dune novels and I’m told by very reliable sources ((The Internet.)) that the ultimate goal is to produce the entire series in audio format.

The Audio Renaissance production is twenty-two hours long, narrated by Scott Brick and features voice actors in many of the major roles. Unfortunately, the narrative switches back and forth at seemingly random intervals between the full cast and a solo performance by Brick. This was very distracting at first, but I was eventually able to ignore the transitions.

Dune (1984)My first exposure to Dune was David Lynch’s 1984 film, though I can’t remember exactly when I first saw it. Lynch, true to form, brings his twisted vision to the story of the desert planet, especially when it comes to the treacherous House Harkonnen. The bloated Baron Vladimir Harkonnen’s crippling disease takes on new dimensions under Lynch’s eye, as do his depraved appetites. Unfortunately, Lynch takes the wind out of Harkonnen’s nephew, Feyd-Rautha (memorably portrayed by a very buff Sting), omitting the na-Baron’s schemes to kill his uncle and seize control of the Great House.

Lynch also introduces “weirding modules”, new technology being used by House Atreides to create a secret army. This threat to the Emperor leads to another variation in Lynch’s story: a conspiracy between the Spacing Guild (who control all interplanetary commerce and travel) and the Emperor himself in which the Guild orders the Emperor to have Paul Atreides killed.

Despite the fact that Lynch’s Dune makes significant changes to Herbert’s original story, is chock full of clumsy exposition (mostly in the form of multiple voiceovers) and was a critical and commercial failure, the movie is really quite enjoyable, and its distinct visual style is so closely associated with the Dune universe that it was adopted by both Cryo Interactive and Westwood Studios for most of the Dune video games they produced. ((Cryo Interactive released the RTS Dune in 1992. Westwood Studios released a series of real-time simulation games: Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty—also known as Dune II: Battle for Arrakis—in 1992, Dune 2000 in 1998 and Emperor: Battle for Dune in 2001. Only Cryo Interactive’s 2001 3D action game, Frank Herbert’s Dune borrowed the visual style from another source: The SciFi Channel’s miniseries.))

Dune (2000)The SciFi Channel miniseries was written and directed by John Harrison and featured a largely unknown cast, with the primary exception being William Hurt as Duke Leto Atreides; Hurt was a big enough star that he got his name before the title: William Hurt in Frank Herbert’s Dune. I thought Hurt came across a little flat in his portrayal of the Duke, but I was pleased with most of the other performances, if not always with how the characters were written. Paul Atreides, for example comes across as a whiny, spoiled rich kid—with a haircut bad enough to rival Luke Skywalker’s disastrous coiff in the first Star Wars film—at the outset of the series, which (with the possible exception of the haircut) is not at all true to the novel.

From the design of the stillsuits and other costumes to the color of the spice itself, ((The Dune Wiki describes the spice melange as a “reddish-brown powder”, though I’m not sure whether that description originates in the novels or in Lynch’s film. The SciFi Channel miniseries depicts the spice as a green powder.)) the SciFi miniseries clearly wanted no visual resemblance to the 1984 movie. Usually, this worked very well, but some of the costumes (in particular the odd dorsal decoration on Feyd-Rautha’s jacket) verged on outlandish. I had a hard time taking the Sardaukar—the Emperor’s elite soldiers—seriously when they were all wearing large, floppy tam o’shanters; they looked like a squadron of goth Darby O’Gills wielding miniguns.

Storywise, I felt that the miniseries stayed fairly true to source material; certainly more so than did Lynch’s version. There were a number of unfortunate omissions, including the Atreides Mentat Thufir Hawat’s fate following the Harkonnen invasion of Arrakis, and the role of the Harkonnen’s twisted Mentat, Piter de Vries, was made all but insignificant, ((Brad Dourif was both creepy and funny as Piter in Lynch’s version, but he consistently mispronounced “landsraad”. On the other hand, he did recite the Mentat’s mantra, “It is by will alone I put my mind in motion…” which was excluded from the SciFi version, so I forgive him.)) but certainly the expanded format allowed for more of the original story to be preserved, especially in the Director’s Cut.

The Lynch version, on the other hand, is more fun to watch. It may not be the best choice to introduce the unitiatiated to Frank Herbert’s universe (Duniverse?), but the sheer, overblown, cheesy spectacle of the thing is enjoyable in and of itself.

Soon, there will be yet another version to add to the already expansive list. Peter Berg, director of The Rundown and the Will Smith reluctant-superhero movie, Hancock, is helming yet another film adaptation of Herbert’s novel. As of this writing, the details about this new version are scarce: only that Berg is directing and the film will likely be released sometime in 2010.

With just about any other novel I would probably say one adaptation is enough, but Dune is a special beast and I’m looking forward to yet another take on the universe. I’m interested to see what the stillsuits and the spice harvesters and the Guild heighliners will look like and whether they’ll finally cast someone who at least looks the right age (fifteen, at the start of the novel, eighteen or nineteen at the end) as Paul Atreides. And then there’s the matter of Chani, the Fremen woman who becomes Paul’s concubine. In 1984, she was played by Sean Young; in 2000 she was played by Czech actress Barbora Kodetová who is at the very least eleven times hotter than Sean Young (no slouch herself in the hotness department). I am interested to see if this elevation of relative hotness can continue. Very interested, indeed.

Bring it, Peter Berg. Show me what you can do. The spice must flow.

Art from The Fuzzy Slug: Natalie Metzger

Natalie Metzger is The Secretary of Artistic Propaganda over at The Secret Lair. In addition to designing our site banner and Overlord avatars, Natalie also writes and draws our official webcomic. In the (very) quiet times between podcast episodes, it is Natalie’s webcomic that keeps The Secret Lair alive.
The Secret Lair Crew by Natalie Metzger
The Secret Lair Crew(L-R): Kris Johnson, Chris Miller, Natalie Metzger

Before she turned Chris and I into cartoons, Natalie turned us into a zombie and an orc, respectively. Code Zombie is her rendition of a Twitter avatar that Chris used once upon a yesterday, while Ootk’j, Orc Warrior is an adaptation of one of my early 5 O’Clock Shadow self-portraits.

Between drawings of Chris and I, Natalie has created several covers for the PDF version of Mur Lafferty’s superhero audionovel, Playing For Keeps as well as the cover of for Sam Chupp’s sword-and-sorcery audionovel, Heart of the Hunter.

KJToo FaviconNatalie also (at my request) created the new favicon for KJToo.com. If you’re the sort who visits the site rather than reading the RSS feed, hopefully you’ve already seen it in your browser’s address bar. As an added and unexpected bonus, Natalie also created two critters that each contain the letters “KJToo” cleverly integrated into their design.

KJ Kritter 1
image-944

The Fuzzy Slug is the home of all of Natalie’s artistic creations, not just drawings but photographs and even the occasional furred beastie. One never knows what may show up at the Slug from day to day, but you can bet it will be interesting.

On DVD: Black Water

Why wasn’t I told about Black Water? Why did I have to stumble across it in the local video store? I need to know these things. Don’t you understand? I need to know.

Black Water
image-966

“Inspired by true events”? That tears it: I’m never going swimming again.

And what’s with all the crocodile movies coming out of Australia all of a sudden? ((See also: Rogue.)) Shouldn’t they be making movies about marsupials?

Oh, wait. Never mind.

In the News: Comcast acquires Plaxo, threatens my worldview.

Comcast is buying Plaxo.

Unless you’ve been living under Dwayne Johnson for the past 10 years or so, there’s a good chance you know what Comcast is: they’re the cable giant that wanted to charge me $70/month for cable Internet ((A service which, by many accounts, was governed by draconian usage rules and secret bandwidth limits that customer service representatives wouldn’t disclose to subscribers.)) because I don’t subscribe to cable television. Rather than pay what I felt was an exorbitant rate, I suffered with dial-up for six long years before Time-Warner came to my rescue, buying out Comcast and charging a much more reasonable $34.95/month for the same service. I still don’t subscribe to cable television; more on that in moment.

Comcast is also the company that gutted TechTV; they bought the home of The Screen Savers, merged it with their G4 network, and promptly fired pretty much everyone who made the geeky channel worth watching. The result is pretty much SpikeTV with more video games and I’ve removed it from my channel lineup so I don’t have to see the grossly inferior Attack of the Show sullying my on-screen guide. On the other hand, Leo Laporte and Patrick Norton went on to start This Week in Tech, one of the first podcasts I ever listened to, so maybe I owe Comcast a vote of thanks on that score.

So, that’s Comcast, but what the heck is Plaxo?

Well, it’s essentially an online address book. A sort of social network-cum-contact manager that combines the functionality of a Rolodex with the networking capabilities of Facebook or MySpace, but without all the auto-playing music, sparkling animated GIFs and vomitously bad page templates that make me want to toss the entirety of the Internet into a dumpster and run off to live in a cave. Unlike MySpace or Facebook, I can see how Plaxo might actually be useful, and I don’t feel like I’ll spontaneously develop ocular stigmata just from looking at the site.

Except now Comcast owns it. Comcast, the corporation that tarted up TechTV. Comcast, the corporation whose nigh-extortionary cable Internet pricing kept me on dial-up for half a dozen years, a period during which I commonly referred to the very idea of writing them a check each month “dealing with the devil”. Exaggerated? Probably. Irrational? Perhaps. But the idea of continuing to use Plaxo now gives me a bit of the heebie-jeebies. Not out of privacy concerns, which I know have given others pause, but just on general principle.

So I tweeted about it this morning. And Comcast’s human face, ((Perhaps one of many humans they employ.)) a VP named Scott Westerman tweeted right back at me. I’d heard of such things—megacorps monitoring Twitter and using it as sort of a public relations/customer service playground—but this was the first time I’d been the recipient of this new brand of personalized attention.

I wasn’t really sure how to respond. Ranting against a faceless corporation is one thing, but Westerman is, from all appearances, a flesh and blood human being! So I Googled “scott westerman comcast” and found that I’m not the only one who’s a bit unsure of how to handle this. In a blog post titled How Twitter is Humanizing Comcast and Why That’s a Terrible, Terrible Thing at goodCRIMETHINK, self-proclaimed “conscious comic and vigilante pundit” Baratunde Thurston wrote “CORPORATIONS DON’T LAUGH. THEY EXPLOIT. Stop acting like people! stop ‘talking’ to me!!”

I’m neither pundit nor activist, and I’m definitely not confrontational. I’m not used to telling people I think the company they work for is…well, “evil” is such a strong word.

See? That’s what I’m talking about, right there! Before there was a “Scott Westerman”, Comcast was evil! It was so easy to throw words like “draconian” and “devil” and, yes, “evil” around when it was just a logo, a website informing me that the company behind that logo wanted seventy dollars a month to provide me with high speed Internet service, and a couple hundred anonymous customers and former customers ranting about their horrible customer service experiences. Of course, it’s that last bit that Scott Westerman is trying to tackle, isn’t it?

My response to Scott’s tweet was truthful, but I felt like the righteous wind had been taken out of my indignant sails. My rants (large and small) are supposed to be answered by a handful of friends chiming in to agree, not by the source of my annoyance extending an offer to address my concerns. What’s next? Is Bill Gates going to respond the next time I bitch about Internet Explorer’s mangled handling of Cascading Style Sheets?

Is Westerman going to convince me to keep using Plaxo? Honestly, I don’t know if I really need convincing; the idea of trying to find a similar service and then transferring all of my contacts isn’t terribly appealing and the basic Plaxo service is free…for now. I don’t anticipate abandoning the service, nor do I expect I’ll be upgrading anytime soon. ((I understand that current Comcast customers get a complimentary upgrade.))

And it’s not like I can be talked into Comcast’s cable television or Internet service; Time-Warner owns their northeast Ohio network these days. But in a bit of irony, I placed a customer service call to DirecTV (my alternative to cable television lo, these many years) when I got home this evening. Seems I need my dish relocated because the trees behind the house have grown quite a bit over the past six years and are now occasionally blocking the satellite signal. At least Mother Nature continues to reaffirm my long-held belief that change and growth are bad.

Top Ten Superhero Movies (Spring 2008 Edition)

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a blog! It’s an ordered list! It’s the Top Ten Superhero Movies as ranked by me!

Batman: The Movie (1966)10. Batman: The Movie (1966). The Dark Knight makes three separate appearances on this list and this is arguably the least dark of his incarnations; in fact, I’ve previously referred to the relative darkness of the Adam West version of Gotham’s nocturnal vigilante ((Actually, Adam West and Burt Ward do most of their crimefighting in broad daylight.)) as “a skim milk vanilla latté with a shot of raspberry syrup”. Batman: The Movie is classic, campy fun that still makes me chuckle, ((“Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb!”)) but this movie proves that superheroes don’t have to be dark and gritty to be enjoyable.
Superman: The Movie (1978)

9. Superman: The Movie (1978). Superman movies trouble me. Christopher Reeve was a fantastic Man of Steel, ((Brandon Routh did a find job of imitating Christopher Reeve in Superman Returns, but that was just about the only thing worthwhile in the entire movie.)) but I’ve never really been a fan of the “funny” Lex Luthor. Why pit the most powerful man on the planet against a clown with delusions of grandeur? How about a villain who actually has a menacing presence on the screen? ((Sorry, Nuclear Man, you’re about as menacing as Gunther Gebel-Williams with a head cold.))

Most people I know would probably rank Superman II higher than the original, what with Terence Stamp and all that business about kneeling before Zod. In truth, the first two movies kind of blend together for me and I don’t really consider them separate entities.
Batman (1989)

8. Batman (1989). The first movie I ever stood in line for on opening day, Tim Burton’s Batman pretty much revived the superhero genre. Michael Keaton was surprisingly good in the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, but it is Jack Nicholson who stole the show as the maniacal Joker. Unfortunately, this set a bad precedent for bringing in big-name actors to portray the villains and The Shumachery that followed damn near marched the genre off a cliff in a rubber-nippled batsuit.

Spider-Man (2002)

7. Spider-Man (2002). All hail Sam Raimi for bringing the web-slinger to the big screen! Now please, stop making superhero movies. Though Spider-Man 2 had a better villain and better action sequences, the overabundance of whining and preaching knocks it down several pegs in terms of sheer enjoyment. We will not speak of Spider-Man 3. Is that understood? We will not speak of it.

The Incredibles (2004)

6. The Incredibles (2004). Here’s a special beast: a well-made superhero movie that was not adapted from a comic book. Actually, The Incredibles has roots in a whole slew of comic books, especially Fantastic Four (the movie adaptation of which only wishes it could be The Incredibles). For sheer imaginitive use of superpowers, no movie has yet matched this one.

X-Men (2000)

5. X-Men (2000). In 1997, Joel Schumacher drove what I thought might be the final nail into the coffin of not only the Batman movie franchise, but into the entire superhero movie genre. Then along game Bryan Singer, Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart to revive it. Sure, Halle Berry, James Marsden and a bunch of other folks were along for the ride, but let’s face it, X-Men fans only cared about two things: getting Captain Jean-Luc Picard into Professor Xavier’s wheelchair and finding the right guy to wield Logan’s adamantium potato peelers. Ian McKellan as Magneto was icing on the cake. As for the other X-Mean…yeah, whatever, we got Patrick Stewart, baby!

Unfortunately, Bryan Singer went on to murderize Superman Returns while Brett Ratner came in to do the same to X-Men: The Last Stand.

X2: X-Men United (2003)4. X2: X-Men United (2003). Why does the sequel rank higher than the original? Two reasons: Brian Cox and BAMF! Brian Cox plays an excellent bad guy; the perfect antagonist to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. ‘Nuff said on that. Now on to the other thing: Nightcrawler’s teleportation attack on the White House was simply stunning. I spent the following five minutes trying to reattach my lower jaw and to this day I’m still not sure what happened immediately after that scene.
Batman Begins (2005)

3. Batman Begins (2005). Holy franchise resurrection, Batman! Director Christopher Nolan rolled the stone away from the tomb and we found that George Clooney was gone—replaced with the American Psycho himself, Christian Bale. The retelling of Bruce Wayne’s transformation into the Dark Knight Detective is the grittiest silver screen version of the Batman to date, and the Gotham-under-siege storyline lays a solid foundation for a resuscitated series.

Hellboy (2004)2. Hellboy (2004). How much do I love this movie? Let me put it this way: I wish I had not one but two wombs so I could have both Guillermo del Toro’s and Ron Perlman’s babies. That is all.
Iron Man (2008)

1. Iron Man (2008). The latest is, indeed, the greatest. Jon Favreau is clearly an Iron Man fan, because he got everything right: casting, story, special effects, pacing, beards; it’s all brilliant. Iron Man is the first movie I’ve seen in quite a while that had me wanting to stay in the theater and watch it again after the end credits had rolled. Speaking of end credits, if you haven’t seen Iron Man yet (and you should), be sure to stick around for an extra piece of geekery after they roll.

As the self-appointed Arbiter of Superhero Movie Worthiness, I declare that this list is truth absolute ((Until my whim changes and I update it.)) and its accuracy is above question. However, if you should wish to offer your opinions on the topic—whether they rightly align with my own or not—you are encouraged to do so in the comments.

Condolences to C.A. Sizemore

I don’t make a habit of directly copying what we post over at The Secret Lair, but I think this unfortunate occasion warrants an exception to the rule.

C.A. Sizemore has been a fan of The Secret Lair since day one. He has provided us with feedback and even contributed a manuscript that we simply haven’t gotten around to publishing yet. C.A. has been with us since long before The Secret Lair became a reality: he followed us here from The House of the Harping Monkey and Volcanicast, where he was a loyal, involved fan. I’m hard-pressed to think of a podcast that C.A. doesn’t listen to and equally hard-pressed to think of a podcaster who doesn’t know him. He is the best kind of fan we could possibly ask for and we are all lucky to have him.

This morning C.A.’s wife, Kelly, passed away unexpectedly. Our hearts, thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences are with C.A. in this difficult and tragic time.

I’ve taken down the tip jar because there is something better you can do with your money today: you can give a little to help someone who has always been there for us, a loyal fan like no other. Please visit the donation site established by Mae Breakall and give what you can to help C.A. cover the expenses that tragic events like these always incur.

One More Year, One More Super-Duper Year

Another birthday has come and gone and I have officially fallen out of the target demographic. Only a few days ago I was still in the “18 – 34” range, the folks to whom marketers constantly pander their movies and video games, their sexy body sprays and their late night talk shows. Until Saturday, my opinion counted. Now the only thing marketers want to know from me is whether I find my fiber supplement too gritty or if blue is really the best color for a certain little pill.

What a load of crap.

The truth is, I love birthdays. I love them because I’m surrounded by people who get me. Friday night Laura prepared a Tex-Mex feast: black bean fajita pizza, taco pizza, and all the trimmings for tacos y burritos. My in-laws came over for dinner and birthday cake, the boys came over for a Very Special Game Night, and Kyle helped me blow out an obscene number of candles.

After everyone had eaten, we played Descent a dungeon-crawl board game from Fantasy Flight Games, the folks who brought you Arkham Horror and Marvel Heroes. As with the aforementioned Horror and Heroes, Descent is jam-packed with fiddly bits and rules that describe how those fiddly bits are to be utilized. This leads to play sessions that last several hours. The game wrapped up after midnight, when the evil overlord crushed the pathetic do-gooders (except for my mage, who kicked acres of ass and was never slain) beneath his evil boot.

Miscellaneous G™ was the aforementioned overlord, and—to be frank—I don’t think he has the stomach for villainy. I got the distinct feeling that he was going easy on us. Even so, he did manage to emerge from the dungeon victorious. Or perhaps he didn’t emerge at all; perhaps he’s still down there, spawning beast men into empty rooms in preparation for the next party of foolhardy, ill-prepared adventurers.

On Saturday when Kyle was taking his nap, I went shopping. I had a little gift card goodness burning a hole in my wallet and the only remedy was to amass stuff. Here’s the rundown on the loot:

  • Alien vs. Predator: Requiem 2-disc Unrated Digital Copy Special Edition. This is where my blind belief that more discs equates to better finally bit me on the ass. The Digital Copy Special Edition does indeed include a second disc, the contents of which do not include special features above and beyond what is on the first disc. The second disc contains the movie in three different file formats designed for use with portable media devices (e.g. video iPod, iPhone, Microsoft Zune). I don’t own such a device, so the second disc is essentially useless to me. You’d think after thirty-five years on the planet I might have learned a little something about comparison shopping, but you—like me—would be sorely mistaken.
  • Dark City. Here’s a movie that really, really needs a special edition DVD. I’ve been holding off on picking it up until such a special edition was released, but finally realized that the only way to ensure a new release is for me to buy the current, unspecial edition. ((For supporting historical data, see the Hellboy 3-disc Special Edition.))
  • Rush: A Show of Hands concert DVD. A Show of Hands was (along with Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, “From The New World”, both on cassette) the first album I ever owned. I acquired it as a “prize” for selling magazine subscriptions in my sophomore year of high school. ((Yes, I was nearly 16 years old before I started buying my own music.)) I’ve got a lot of memories of that album; along with Yello’s Stella, A Show of Hands was the soundtrack for much of my mis-spent computer gaming youth. ((What was I playing? Why Thexder and Pool of Radiance and The Ancient Art of War at Sea, for starters. Plenty of others, too, but many of them had their own soundtracks.))
  • Deadwood soundtrack. It’s nearly two minutes into the album before Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) utters the word “cocksucker”; I believe that’s about a minute and a half longer than it took in the first episode of the series. There’s some very, very good music on this CD. Gustavo Santaolalla’s “Iguazu” in particular is very evocative of the tense, edgy feel of the series, though it probably wouldn’t feel that way if I didn’t so closely associate the two.
  • The Nymphos of Rocky Flats by Mario Acevedo. I’ve heard good things about this war-veteran-turned-vampire-private-detective novel, so I thought it was high time I picked it up. The sequels are titled X-Rated Bloodsuckers and The Undead Kama Sutra, but I can’t imagine they’re any raunchier than the Anita Blake novels Laurell K. Hamilton continues to crank out on a weekly basis.
  • Idlewild by Nick Sagan. If I have my way, this will be the next title in The Secret Library. I’ve never read any of Nick Sagan’s stuff, but there is reality of an entirely virtual nature, which ought to prove interesting provided it in no way resembles Second Life.

Kyle helped Laura pick out a very nice Marvel t-shirt featuring Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Wolverine and the Incredible Hulk. The print on the shirt seems designed to make me wear it untucked. I only point this out because Laura frequently urges me to wear t-shirts untucked but I am compelled to tuck. I suspect it is a weakness of character on my part.

I also received some very funny birthday cards and one, from my younger brother, from which Spongebob Squarepants shouts “One more year! One more year! One more super-duper year! One more super-duper, extra-spectacular…” when it is opened. Yeah. Kyle likes that one. Again and again and again.

Coffee Shop Writing – Week 2

I probably should have written this on Friday, but I was too busy composing my pre-Shutdown Day entry. Had I written and posted this on Saturday, I would have been in violation of Shutdown Day and the Internet police would have locked me away in a virtual prison. ((Unfortunately for Interprison, files are easy to smuggle in; no cake required, just send it via FTP. Ba-dum-ching.)) Sunday was…well, I’d hate to ruin a perfectly good Monday with talk of this particular Sunday.

So, what’d I write at the coffee shop last week? Well, it was a short week.

Monday

Chris had conflicting plans and wasn’t able to make it to the coffee shop, so I decided that my desire to sleep past 7:30 would conflict with my writing and I bailed, too.

Tuesday

I started writing a script for something Chris and I are doing for The Secret Lair.

Later, I wrote an eleven hundred word short story, complete with beginning, middle and end. This is a rarity for me, as anyone who follows this blog will be aware. I won’t lie: it left me with a sense of accomplishment. But…I didn’t write it at the coffee shop, so once again it doesn’t count.

Wednesday

I have no idea what, if anything, I wrote on Wednesday. Yet I know for a fact that I was at the coffee shop, consumed 20 oz. of decaffeinated brew, and had my laptop. Or perhaps I was abducted by aliens. From outer space. And they stole my words.

Thursday

Thursday was the first of May, so I used my time at the coffee shop to compost my annual ode to Jonathan Coulton and the joys of…interfacing in the great outdoors.

Friday

Chris wasn’t able to make it to the coffee shop so naturally I was there early, for a change. I’ve been rolling in at about 7:53 for our 7:45 session for a week and a half and the one day Chris isn’t there I show up 25 minutes early. Typical. So I fired up the iPod and wrote the aforementioned Shutdown Day post.

This week, we’re supposed to write something that we can exchange with one another for critique, so blog posts probably won’t cut it. Which means I’ve just blown a day. So typical.

BrightKite: The friendliest of friends.

I received an invitation to BrightKite this morning, a service that—by most accounts—seems to be Twitter with location tracking. ((And some sort of photo feature, from the looks of it.)) Why would I want the entire Internets to know where I am when I post my inane, 140-character updates? ((Why would people want to read my inane, 140-character updates? Because I bring the funny. We’ve been over this.)) I haven’t figured that out, yet. What I do know is that I have an irrational desire to create accounts and set up my profile on every newfangled, whizbang Web 2.0 “service” that comes down a series of tubes, regardless of whether I’ll actually get any real use out of it.

So here is BrightKite. Will it become the next Twitter, or will it become a Jaiku (which I use occasionally) or a Pownce (which I don’t use at all)? Time will tell, but BrightKite has one feature that none of the others do: love.

Almost immediately upon signing in to BrightKite, I noticed I had a friend request from Chris Miller. “Good ol’ Chris Miller!” thought I, and immediately accepted his request and designated him a “trusted friend”. ((Am I naïve and foolhardy to place this kind of trust in another man? Perhaps, but if trusting Chris is wrong, then I don’t want to be right!)) I’m sure that means something extra special, like giving him access to my library records or making him executor of my will…whatever—I’ll get around to the particulars later. The important thing is that it puts a little heart next to his name.

Codeshaman on BrightKite: Best Friends Forever!

Awww, isn’t that sweet?

Thanks, BrightKite. Thanks for bringing the love back to the Internets.