Category Archives: Rants and Ramblings

Gonna be a busy week.

Laura will be heading to Florida this Sunday with her sister, father, niece and nephew. This will leave me home alone without adult supervision. Hilarity may well ensue.

In an attempt to be somewhat responsible, I have made myself a schedule for the upcoming week:

Date Morning Afternoon Evening Late PM Early AM
Sun 27 Feb Sleep Host D&D Sleep
Mon 28 Feb Work Play City of Heroes Sleep
Tue 01 Mar Work Play City of Heroes Sleep
Wed 02 Mar Work Play City of Heroes Sleep
Thurs 03 Mar Work Play City of Heroes Sleep
Fri 04 Mar Work Play City of Heroes
Sat 05 Mar Sleep Play City of Heroes
Sun 06 Mar Complete “Honey Do” List D&D Sleep

I should probably eat, too. And feed the cats. I’ll pencil those in somewhere, I guess.

Is he sleeping with the peoples?

“Clean that crap off the bookshelf, I’m moving in.”

“Hey! Hey! Either you do something about those damn cats or I will. Keep them away from me, understand?”

“Watch it, pal. I can put the hurt on you in ways that would make the Marquis de Sade wet his pants.”

He was an angry, angry fish, and he deserved a better life.

R.I.P. Sushi
April 2003 – 13 February 2005

“Looks like an A2…”

I meant to take a Before picture of my teeth Friday morning, then an After picture post-filling replacement. Alas, I neglected to do the former, so the latter seems unimportant.

When I was but a lad, I had an unfortunate encounter with a wheelbarrow that knocked out a sizeable portion of my two front teeth. This left me with an inverted V between those teeth. Great for squirting water and looking like Buford Eustace Hillbilly. My mother, of course, found this unacceptable (good call, Mom) and made an appointment with Dr. Lawton to have the situation rectified. Thanks to the wonders of modern dentistry, fillings of the appropriate color were applied and my smile was repaired. There are probably one or two Before pictures available from that time, I’m sure.

Over time, the fillings discolored and decayed. They were touched up once years ago, but time had not been kind even if modern dentistry had. Until Friday, the fillings were noticeably discolored and degrading yet again. So, Friday morning the Good Doctor drilled out the old fillings and once more restored my front teeth to their former glory.

My mouth certainly looks better than it did (though my teeth are arranged in such a manner as to preclude me from seeking a career as a toothpaste spokesperson), but one of the fillings chipped a bit at some point during the weekend. It’s not really noticeable unless your eye is about eight inches from my mouth, but my tongue… well, that’s another story. To my tongue, the tooth in question feels like the surface of the asteroid in Armageddon (“Okay, so the scariest environment imaginable. Thanks. That’s all you gotta say, scariest environment imaginable.“).

So, I guess I need to make another appointment with the Good Doctor to have further repairs made.

In other news, The Venture Brothers is probably the funniest cartoon on television these days. You should watch it.

MLRWRFC for short.

When you tell the guy behind the counter at Caribou that you need (need) a medium light roast with room for cream and he gives you a medium light roast with room for cream and you pay for a medium light roast with room for cream and you leave the store with a medium light roast with room for cream and get in the MVoD with a medium light roast with room for cream and get halfway to work with a medium light roast with room for cream when you realize you forgot to add the cream to the medium light roast with room for cream…well, you’ve got a couple of choices. You can:

  1. present the medium light roast with room for cream without the cream to your boss with your humblest apologies and enjoy your large Va Va Vanilla (which doesn’t need room for anything else).
  2. stop by the cafeteria and steal some creamer for the medium light roast with room for cream.
  3. stop by the cafeteria and buy some half and half for the medium light roast with room for cream.
  4. present your boss with an empty cup which once contained a medium light roast with room for cream and tell her a woeful tale with much tripping and spilling involved.
  5. turn the MVoD around and go back to Caribou with the medium light roast with room for cream and add the cream.

So, WWKJD?

Here in my car, I can only receive…

The DLO TransPod FM has gotten mixed reviews on Amazon, but I think it’s a pretty snazzy gizmo. Hop in the MVoD, slide the iPod into the cradle, press Play and go. The TransPod charges the iPod and broadcasts on pretty much the entire FM spectrum. So far, I’ve had very good luck on 88.1 and 99.1 MHz. The transmitter appears to be more powerful than the iTrip (which connects to the headphone jack on the iPod and draws power from the iPod’s battery), and there’s no need to install additional software on KJToonz (yeah, you can name your iPod).

Now, it’s not perfect. There’s not really anything holding the iPod down, so hitting a large bump may jostle it free of the dock connector and cut off the sound. It won’t jump out onto the floor, but it would be nice if there were some sort of restraint keeping it snug in the dock.

For the most part, the sound quality is very good. On at least one album (Pianissimo by Suzanne Ciani), there’s a lot of static when the music is quite high-pitched. Listening to the same album with headphones I can tell that the rip is clean and crisp. I’m not sure exactly what the problem is, but it’s affecting less than 1% of my music, so I’m not going to worry about it too much.

Another issue I have is the volume. I’ve got Sound Check activated on KJToonz, so there’s some algorithm running to ensure that playback on all songs is at roughly the same volume level. Unfortunately, the volume on the FM broadcast seems a bit on the low side, which means I’ve got to turn the radio up quite a bit to get the volume I like. This wouldn’t be a problem, except that at a high volume there’s a noticeable static hiss between songs. Again, it’s nothing major, but it seems like it could be better.

The TransPod seems to be built solidly, though at least one Amazon reviewer said it was a poorly-constructed piece of crap. Go figure. Unfortunately, the location of my power port necessitates blocking the pull-out cup holders, which may be a bit of a nuisance on longer trips. It also appears that my power port remains powered after the MVoD is shut down, and the TransPod doesn’t have a power switch, so there may be some danger of draining the van’s battery.

There are a number of automobile solutions available for the iPod and I don’t claim to be familiar with all of them, but the TransPod FM has been a very good option for me. Laura made a very good choice (but doesn’t she always?).

Grounds for Immediate Dismissal

While listening to music at work, I keep my iPod in the left breast pocket of my shirt to avoid pulling it off my desk and onto the floor when I move around. If you can’t imagine what it looks like when I adjust the volume, you clearly don’t know enough about the iPod. If you can imagine what it looks like, and you’re imagining me doing that, I apologize and suggest sipping some water or coffee to remove the taste of vomit from the back of your throat.

New Claws for the Tiger

Okay, so comparing the MVoD to a tiger is probably a bit of a stretch. Nonetheless, after having driven for more than 43,000 miles without rotating the tires once, I discovered that the front tires were nearing bald, while the back tires were still in pretty reasonable shape. It’s all about the tread, you understand. It’s measured in thirty-seconds of an inch, and when you can count those fractions on one hand, it’s time for some new tires.

We had something of a reprieve from the Hideous Hand of Old Man Winter last week, when temperatures soared into the 60’s. Most snow in the area that was not piled up into hideous, filth-and-trash-encrusted mounds in the parking lot of Target had melted. Previous experience with slippery roads and driveways had kept the need for new tires fresh in my mind, though, so I visited an establishment whose very business is the vending and installation of round rubber.

Alas, the fellow I talked to on Monday assured that the only tire in stock compatible with the MVoD was some sort of bleeding edge über tire, and that other tires could be ordered, but would take three to five days to arrive. When he attempted to order tires that weren’t sent back from the future to destroy my bank account, his efforts were thwarted by the fact that the Office of Tire Ordering was closed for the holidays. On the third of January.

The Old Man turned his attention back to us once more yesterday, and it snowed pretty much all day, making driving conditions rather hazardous. Last night, as I inched my way along a very slippery and unpleasant 271 North, I watched a vehicle behind me suddenly veer to the left, spin out of control, slide across three lanes of traffic and come to a stop in the snow-covered grassy knoll separating the express lanes from something resembling sanity. Über tires it shall be, I thought, and (slowly) returned to the vendor and installer of the same.

I was met by a different fellow, who assured me that not only were the über tires not in stock, but every other tire of size P215/70R15 was. Amazing. In two days, the stock had completely inverted. I picked out a very nice pair of Michelin Symmetry radials. They have a slightly lower DEX than the über tires, but are comparable in both STR and CON. They are also about a double sawbuck cheaper per tire. With new claws installed (in about thirty minutes), my tiger definitely has a better grip on the road, and I’m less likely to be the next guy making an unscheduled stop in a snowbank.

Five paragraphs about getting new tires installed. Why would anyone still be reading at this point? Why am I still writing at this point?

The Naughties: Now Starting Their Fifth Fabulous Year!

Potpourri
New Years Eve dinner was at a fondue restaurant called Potpourri. Everything was quite yummy, and we all smelled like we’d been deep-fried when we left. Laura polished off most of a bottle of Chloe Sevigny Cabernet Sauvignon by herself, and was a wee bit on the tipsy side. Her condition was upgraded to Downright Drunk after we got home and she drank a strawberry daiquiri. There was a bit of channel surfing and we wound up watching part of an episode of South Park before switching to the ball drop. Afterward, I was very tired, and there was a lot of talking going on, so I didn’t really absorb much of Jabberwocky. I’ll have to watch it sometime this week.

Buried Blueprints: Camelot
It’s a puzzle I’ve had for probably six years, and quite possibly even longer. My every attempt to assemble this puzzle has been thwarted in some way until very early Sunday morning. Taking advantage of my new roll-up puzzle caddy, Laura and I began assembling the puzzle on Saturday afternoon. When it came time to leave for the movie, we rolled the thing up so the cats couldn’t get into it. After the movie and dinner, we came back home and finished assembling the thing. It took rather a long time, and we didn’t get to bed until nearly 5:00am. Methinks I’ll swing by the Great Lakes Mall to see if the puzzle place is still there. I need puzzle glue and a new puzzle.

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
I own and have read the first two books (The Bad Beginning and The Reptile Room) upon which the movie is based. I have yet to pick up the third (The Wide Window), but will likely do so very soon. The books are incredibly, horrifically funny. The movie adaptation is a reasonable effort, but doesn’t quite capture the feel of the books. It’s not a problem with the cast (good performances all around) or visuals (very pretty), but rather with the script and editing. Overall, the movie tripped over itself in the process of cramming three (admittedly short) stories into 108 minutes. On more than one occasion, characters casually mentioned some name or event in such a manner that it seemed the audience ought to have heard about it before.

1,023 Songs
I’m using roughly 20% of the capacity of my iPod. I’d guess that roughly one-fifth of that is Christmas music. I’m thinking about deleting all of the holiday tunes, though. Not because I’m worried about disk space, but because I don’t want “O Tannenbaum” coming up when I use the Shuffle Songs mode in July. I have more than enough music at home to fill up the iPod, but my computer time is torn between ripping CDs and playing City of Heroes.

Every (Work)Day
“If I check your [blog] every day, I’m going to expect you to write in it every day.” That’s what Laura said. So, I’m going to try to update once a day, Monday through Friday, whether I have anything to say or not (call it a New Years Resolution, if you must). And, honestly, not having anything to say has never stopped me from posting before.

Raising the bar.

The Big Mac has long been the gold standard, the sandwich by which all other fast food is measured. The Big Mac is a standard unit of Fast Food Badness. When Subway wants to sell you their sweet onion chicken teriyaki sub, they tell you that three of these sandwiches have less fat than a single Big Mac.

When you combine two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions, then enclose the whole thing in a sesame seed bun, you get 30 grams of fat and 560 calories. Yum.

The folks over at Hardee’s have just introduced a new burger that makes the Big Mac look like a small garden salad with light Italian dressing.

It’s the Monster Thickburger. “Two 1/3-pound slabs of Angus beef, four strips of bacon, three slices of cheese and mayonnaise on a buttered sesame seed bun.”

Hey, Big Mac. Thirty grams of fat? Amateur! How about 107 grams, baby? Oh, and 560 calories? Child’s play! Try 1,420 calories on for size. Or two.

Yeah. There was way too much blood flowing through my arteries anyway. Does this beast come with a free trial prescription to Lipitor, by any chance?

While restaurants like McDonalds are dropping the “Super Size” in an attempt to make their menus a little more friendly to health-conscious folks, it’s interesting to see Hardee’s bucking the trend and taking fast food gluttony to new heights. Damn the cholesterol! Full speed ahead!

He hurts me so bad, yet I keep coming back for more…

George Lucas
George Lucas, Inveterate Tinkerer

Despite the fact that George Lucas has repeatedly beaten my inner fanboy like piñata at a birthday party, I still take my place in line every time he releases something new. I did it for The Phantom Menace, I did it again for Attack of the Clones, and today I’ve forked over still more of my money for the DVD release of the “original” Star Wars trilogy.

It all started with Greedo. The slimy Rodian has always been a troublemaker, but the extent of his ability to vex wasn’t evident until the Special Edition in 1997. Suddenly, his trigger finger was slightly more itchy, and it was this that began (though we didn’t yet realize it) Lucas’ descent into madness. Not content to take this plunge alone, the man opted to drag my beloved trilogy along with him.

Perhaps we should have seen it even earlier. Perhaps even in 1983, when we first witnessed this exchange on Endor’s forest moon:

LEIA: Luke, don’t talk that way! You have a power I … I don’t understand… and could never have.

LUKE: You’re wrong, Leia. You have that power, too. In time you’ll learn to use it as I have. The Force is strong in my family. My father has it. I have it, and … my sister has it… Yes. It’s you, Leia.

LEIA: I know. Somehow … I’ve always known.

If that wasn’t warning enough, the following scene with Leia and Han should have driven it home. But I was ten, then. It wasn’t until later that I recognized just how bad the acting in those two scenes was, and I wrote it off as a fluke.

Then came The Phantom Menace. I had convinced myself in the year leading up to its release that cute little Jake Lloyd could act. I had assured myself that the prequel would manage to capture the magic of the originals … magic that I still see when I watch them today. I did such a good job that I talked myself into a year of denial after Episode I was released. I saw it in the theater three times, not recognizing that each consecutive viewing chipped away at the fine, delicate and oh-so-fragile construct of faith I’d created. Then, I bought the DVD and it all crumbled, the shards of my deception repeatedly lacerating my psyche like a shower of razor blades.

Still, I saw Attack of the Clones on opening day. By now, though, the veil had been lifted. I watched in horror as Lucas’ pawns played out his demented game. Anakin and Amidala were like zombies, loving one another not because of any magnetism or attraction, but because their wicked houngan master commanded them to. When the characters opened their mouths, it was as though they spoke the words of a crazed abductor, pasting words and letters cut from a newspaper onto the script. Special effects were at one turn impressive and another dismal. Each passing moment saw Lucas grind his bootheel viciously into the small of my inner fanboy’s back. My disillusionment was complete, utter, and irreversible. Or so I thought.

In days gone by, I shook my fist with impotent ire when Mr. Lucas declared that the original trilogy would not be made available on DVD until after the prequels were complete. Then my heart was lit with a piercing ray of hope when he announced that the trilogy would, in fact, be available much sooner. I longed to see each frame of The Three rendered in flawless, digital brilliance. The promise of this buoyed my faith once more, faith I had thought crushed and broken, lying in ruins beneath a sea of injustice and callous disregard.

I remain forever weak and easily manipulated. George rings the bell of promise and my mouth is filled to overflowing with the saliva of blind, eager hope. I kneel before him in humble supplication to his will, and once more taste the bitter steel toe of his boot as he delivers yet another punishing blow. Rumors trickle in, whispers of changes beyond those made in the Special Edition. Greedo will forever shoot first. The ghostly visage of Sebastian Shaw’s Anakin Skywalker will be replaced with that of Hayden Christensen. Boba Fett’s voice has been redubbed by Temuera Morrison. In the name of continuity, of course.

Lucas argues that the completed saga will be more cohesive with these changes in place. A fair assertion, but would it be so difficult to include the “alternative version” of the original trilogy? These three films, six hours all told, have integrated themselves so thoroughly into my life over the past twenty-seven years that I daresay I’d not be myself were their influence somehow expurgated. This statement is not mere hyperbole, it is reality. It is also an inescapable fact that there are those whose lives have been even more influenced by the phenomenon that is Star Wars than my own. It is at once sad and reassuring to recognize this, for whatever the length and depth of my own fandom, I am comforted to know that I am—at the very least—not as bad as that guy.

In the end, I will always do as I have done today. I curse myself under my breath as I lay my money down and take this latest offering from Lucas and his band of rogues. The attraction of experiencing these three movies in DVD format far outweighs the disappointment I feel in witnessing further changes to what I feel ought not have been so sullied in the first place.

You win, George Lucas. I have taken yet another step on the path to the Dark Side.