Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Holiday Gift to You: Remove Audible DRM!

I found these instructions in pieces across the net, but mostly here.  Just thought I'd repost it in a short, concise format for your holiday usage.  I want to give you back the files that you already bought.  This conversion method requires the use of two Windows computers.
  1. Using the first computer, get an Audible account and the latest version of Audible Manager.  Make sure your account is set to download .aa files in Format 4.
  2. Download some books!
  3. Download an older version of Audible Manager.  Version 3.5 seems to work pretty well.  Install the old version on the second computer.
  4. Download dbpoweramp.  You'll also need to download the dbpoweramp DirectShow codecs.  Install both on the second computer, where the old version of Audible Manager resides.
  5. Transfer the .aa book files from the first computer (new Audible Manager) to the second computer (dbpoweramp & old Audible Manager).  Open Audible Manager on the second computer and import the files into that computer's library.
  6. Open dbpoweramp music converter or batch converter.  Select the files to be converted and click the big "Convert" button.  Choose to convert the files to mp3 (LAME), CBR, 32 kbps.
That's it!  dbpoweramp should start converting those horrible aa, DRMed files into non-DRM mp3s.  It will most likely take a while, but it will work at 14-30 times the play speed.  That's a LOT better than many of the other solutions I found - most of those will only work at 1-1.5x, which would make the conversion of a four-hour audio book take four hours.

Here's hoping this helps you enjoy your files!  Happy holidays!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Road-Trip `08!

V., E. and I usually make a road trip to Americus, GA to see my family at Christmastime.  This year, we also brought along V.'s older kids, Britches and Stiney.  I worried about how the trip would go - it's a long way and we're not used to having all three kids in the car for more than an hour.  We prepared as best we could, using a lot of the ideas and print-outs from Mom's Minivan and finding all of our audiobook CDs.  We gave each kid $5 with which to buy their own snacks for the trip.

In the end, what Google estimates as a 12.5-hour drive took us 17 hours.  Surprisingly and thankfully, most of it wasn't because of the kids.  We consolidated all rest stops (save a short one that I requested near the end) and really only halted once for food.  (The short trip to Krystal, then trip back because my order wasn't right don't count.  Because that's what I say and I'm writing the blog post.)

Here are a couple of tweets from yesterday that summarize our biggest hold-up:


The folks at NTB were very friendly, as always.  Our other major stop was when the end of the trip was in sight, in Phenix City, AL:


I couldn't tell you the cause, but Stiney got carsick for whatever reason.  Even that wasn't as bad as it could have been.  She gave us warning and we stopped in time to get her out of the car before she unwillingly redecorated the interior.  It did add time, though: we waited for her to feel better, stopped at a drugstore to get some chewable Tylenol for her, and then made the ill-fated Krystal stop to make me feel better after losing so much time (which, in turn, cost us more time than anticipated).

Today, we're here.  We  all slept well last night, and today is a nice, relaxing day.  My dad even went in with me on a wireless router so we can all benefit from the DSL modem in the den.  There's generally not a lot of stress here at my grandparents' house, so it counts as a real, honest vacation.  It was just rough getting here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Yippies!

Check it out!  This is my first attempt at a video blog, and it's all about the Youth International Party, better known as Yippies!

VIDEO GOES HERE WHEN I CAN GET IT ON A BETTER HOST WITHOUT AUDIO ISSUES


More about Yippies:

Online copy of Steal This Book
Yippies Colorado, and details of their protest at 2008's Democratic National Convention

Domains.

I'm pretty lucky. About nine or ten years ago (good God) I created an interesting, unique name to use online. Aside from sharing it around as a surname with a select few people, no one else uses or has ever used it. If you search for "thraeryn" on the net, I can tell you something about every result. If you message "thraeryn" on an instant messenger (and the user exists), you'll get me. It's so much my second name that if someone in a crowd shouted "Hey, Thraeryn!" I'd immediately respond - no momentary lag as the recognition dawns that "oh, that's me they're calling".  

Thanks to those folks that I let share the name, the top three "thraeryn" TLDs (com, net, and org) have almost always been in "The Family"'s possession. They have pointed at various things over the years, from a family information page to a KoL wiki to a personal gallery, etc. A couple of days ago, I asked for control of all of them and pointed them all at this blog, The Pizza Box Dilemma. We don't have a server set up at our house currently for other projects, but when we do again, I'll be able to pick one of the domains and point it there. That's a damned nice luxury to have.  

Being able to say that you are pretty much the only person on the net using a certain name is a very cool feeling. Owning all three of the best-known top level domains for that name is a rarity. Big thanks to Jim for keeping them alive at times when I couldn't (and getting .com back), and to Bill for giving me the first space at which they were ever pointed. Huge hugs and well-wishes to everyone that was ever part of The Family. Whatever happened between us, know that there was a time I was happy to have every last one of you share my name.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Where IS Everyone? Oh, Right, It's Cold.

For  several days, E. pestered me to go to the zoo.  I finally decided that we would go yesterday, Wednesday.  (Didn't change the pestering much; little girl has very little time sense yet.)  Of course, yesterday was one of the coldest days we had this winter season.  Regardless, E. was still dead-set on going, so I obligingly dressed us warmly, put on our snappy gloves, hopped in the car and headed out.

This was the scene when we arrived:

It's Empty!
Something about this picture seems a little odd, no?

That's right.  Aside from a smattering of zoo employees, we were the only people in sight.  Granted, the temperature was damn near freezing, and that usually sends Houstonians running for cover, scrambling to cover all outdoor pipes with insulation.  The zoo has plenty of heated buildings, though, and to a properly-bundled father and daughter, the walks between weren't a problem.

Despite the camera's battery dying on arrival, I made sure to take several cell phone pictures:

The Aquarium
Natural Encounters
Natural Encounters 2
Lonely Girl
We didn't really see any other patrons until we got to the lizard building, where two guys were inside talking.  (There was one guy who thought about entering the Natural Encounters building, but he decided against it when he saw us making a beeline for the place.)  I may never see the zoo that empty again, but it was a lot of fun to have the run of the place that once.  

Most amazing part?  As we were on our way out, it began snowing.  Not much fun for the man who moved away from Winnipeg, but a ton of fun for his Houston-born daughter.

Sad Dream.

I had a very, very sad dream at some point last night.  That's pretty unusual for me.  First, I don't regularly remember my dreams.  Second, my nighttime mental ramblings routinely fall into the "weird" category, with plots revolving around my being able to fly and back in high school, etc.  I can only remember one other dream that really, truly fits the "sad" bill, and in that one I died.

I didn't die in this one, thankfully.  In the dream, I had another daughter older than E. by a few years, which would make her seven or eight.  She was slightly overweight and I knew she wasn't the most popular girl in her class at school.  She came to me hesitantly while we were out at what I think was a bar or restaurant and asked if I could keep a secret.

I told her that I loved her; of course I'd keep a secret for my girl.  She nodded and quietly pulled her shirt up a little to show her tummy.  What I saw there threw me into a rage: there was a healing cut in the shape of a small "K" on her side.  I looked closer and it was surrounded by words and little pictures drawn and written in pencil.  They were notes, the sort of nonsense an eight year old would write on the back of a notebook or inside a bathroom stall.  My daughter had let herself become a sort of graffitti wall for her classmates in order to gain a little popularity, and one of them had even gone so far as to begin CUTTING HIS NAME into my little girl's stomach.

"Rage" is a very small word for the big, big emotion my dream-self felt.  I asked her who cut her, and she quietly replied "Kyle."  I nodded and not-so-quietly said that tomorrow, I was going to school with her, she would show me who Kyle was, and I would kill him.  I spent most of the rest of the dream hugging Dream Daughter, trying to find V., and verbally ranting that anyone who tried to cut their name into my little girl would meet a painful, terrifying end.

Sadly, I could see something like this happening in real life.  Kids are still pretty cruel, and while it's pretty tough to write on skin with a pencil, Sharpie makes tiny keychain markers that would work perfectly.  The idea of some unpopular child letting their classmates scrawl on them as a desperate attempt to be accepted makes me want to cry even now.  If you have children, let them know how excellent you think they are.  If you know friends that have kids, show those kids respect.  Don't ever make a child work for acceptance - simply accept them.  They are who they are, and your respect will only help them figure out just who that is.

(A note: I'm pretty sure my dream was influenced by a recent episode of House, MD.  The episode featured an overweight, unpopular girl, but one with a different problem.  My brain gets 3 out of 5 for originality.  Also, this morning I had a second dream in which I told my mom about the first dream over the phone.  That was a bit odd.)

Addendum: A brief discussion regarding this post, from Twitter:
KeviKev @thraeryn On the plus side your reaction in the dream was a healthy Protective Dad reaction.
@KeviKev Yeah, any dad would've done the same. "I'm gonna KILL that little shit!" is the Gold Standard of fatherly responses.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Technology BITES.

Apparently, all of my technology is deciding to take the holidays off.  What a fun time of year for this to happen!

The phone I borrow from a friend of ours has been on the fritz for a long while now.  Its battery is particularly fussy, and if it's nudged just a bit out of whack it turns the phone off.  Remove the back cover, reseat the battery, and all is fine again.  It's not a big problem . . . until you find yourself missing texts regularly, and frequently reseating the battery four or five times a day.  Just now, the phone turned off after sitting not in my cramped pocket, but ON MY LAP.  If anyone has an old BlackBerry that's unlocked or AT&T branded that they want to get rid of, let's work something out.

My seven-year-old desktop computer, Bloodslick, bit the dust for the moment.  A breaker blew, causing Bloodslick and everything else to shut off momentarily.  The frustrating thing is that everything else turned on again, while Bloodslick didn't.  I took a can of compressed air to his insides to no avail.  He's dead for now; won't even load BIOS.  I'm thankful that we have the kid computer and the laptop, Thraepokolips.

Thraepokolips's "a" key is funny.  There was a rock under it minutes ago; I removed that.  I can't get the plastic key on the right way, though, so trying to type is still a little wonky and frustrating.  "A" is a pretty common letter in most English texts.  No one wants to buy me an MSI Wind netbook from Microcenter or NewEgg, do they?

The One-Glove Dilemma.

I lose so many gloves. 

Every year, I buy at least one pair of gloves.  Sometimes they're cheap, knit wool gloves.  Other years, they're sexy (and cheap) Thinsulate driving gloves.  While I was in Canada, I found myself the not-so-proud owner of a thick pair of lobster-claw mittens.  With the exception of the black lobster claws, I always face the same problem: one glove somehow becomes separated from the other and is never seen again.  My daughter, of course, has the same problem, except her gloves remain a pair for less time than mine.

This year, I vowed to keep our gloves together as pairs.  It won't stop us from losing them, but we will avoid the frustration of finding just one glove, goddammit.  (Even thinking of it makes me grumpy!)  Gentle readers, I give you . . . SNAPS!!!
Yes, this year I installed half of a snap in one glove and half in another, providing a convenient way to keep `em together.  I'm quite proud of myself, too - normally I waste a lot of the little snap pieces, squeezing too hard and smushing them.  This time, I didn't smush a single one!  Go, me!

[10:56] V.: make it snappy!
[10:57] Me: I did!
I turned a minor mistake into a "feature" with E.'s gloves.  When I realized I installed one of the snaps "backwards", I made sure to do the other side the same way.  I call the result "butterfly gloves", a moniker that E. really likes.

I have to resist calling this a "stroke of genius" because I know it's totally not.  I do hold out some increased hope that I might keep a full pair of gloves from this year to the next.  E.'s are just slightly too long in the fingers, and mine are a very nice pair of knit work gloves (with Thinsulate!) that only cost me $3.  Keeping both pairs and using them next year would be great.  I eliminated the problem of losing one glove; now I just need to install a $50 RF locator in each pair.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Moved!

This blog has successfully moved!  It's on its own domain now, http://www.thraeryn.com.  Blogger tries to make this sort of thing easy, but it was still full of sucktastic little errors and pitfalls.  I have triumphed, however, and not only does www.thraeryn.com redirect here, but so does thraeryn.org!  (The method is a little different, but it works.)

I encourage everyone reading to do two things to celebrate:
  1. Join the site using the Google Friend Connect widget on the sidebar.
  2. Plug your blog in the comments.  If I know you or if it seems halfway interesting, I'll add it to my list!
Get crackin'!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Charity.

There shouldn't be a season involved with charity.  Seems like the current one is, though, so it's on my mind lately.

I donated $10 earlier this week to Child's Play via the Desert Bus for Hope crew.  Those folks really have their hearts in the right places: they realized that together, they could do something silly and (reasonably) painless that would make life happier for many children in hospitals.  All it took was their getting a few days off work so they could hang out together, and a willingness to put themselves through minor, temporary hardships or embarrassments.  Their simple act of ridiculous, self-imposed "torture" earned around $24,000 for charity last year.  It may have earned over $70,000 this year.  That's a LOT of Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii consoles.  That's a lot of video games.  The best part is that it's part of an even larger total given by people who think that children with serious illnesses already have it hard enough, people that want to try and make those kids smile.

FOX has recently adapted a UK show called "Secret Millionaire" for audiences here in the States.  The premise is that a millionaire spends a week living in a very tough, impoverished urban area.  They have none of their possessions and only a welfare budget (which came out to $150/week in the first episode).  At the end of the week, they help the people who helped them by doling out at least $100,000 of their own money.  It's a good show; you can watch the first episode on Hulu.  I imagine it'll be a little frustrating for the folks that were helped when tax season comes around; a $25,000 check will probably bump any one of them into a higher tax bracket for the year (even if only $12,000 of it is taxable).  It's nothing like the property tax they'd  to pay on an extreme home makeover, though.  The cash can do a lot of good in the meantime.

V. and I don't have a lot, but I happily put a little bit toward a cause I appreciate.  Don't just think about giving to a worthy charity sometime soon.  Give a little bit now.  Give a little bit later.  Give a little after that.  Volunteer, too, or just call and ask how you can help.  These are groups founded by, run by, and staffed by the people who will be there for you if you ever need them.

A flipside note: The Slackmistress was (fairly mildly) harrassed by a door-to-door charity worker today.  If someone says they don't have money to give you at the moment, don't go and call them a bad person.  A little statement like that makes a damned lot of assumptions, especially when life happens to all of us.  Also, if you're volunteering for (or being paid by) a charity, aren't you supposed to understand being down on one's luck, and shouldn't you want to help?  Gah.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Things!

The holidays are a wonderful time.  Not because I like turkey or fellowship (Psh!), but because Child's Play starts their annual charity push, and that means . . . Desert Bus for Hope!  Watch people play the most boring video game ever created in order to raise money for charity!  If you donate, they keep playing!  They are also dancing monkeys for the donations.  All manner of tomfoolery can be brokered in the chat.  Tune in around 3 AM Pacific Standard for some of the most drained, low-energy webcam torture you'll ever see.

Also, apparently I am a cool enough kid now on Twitter that I get invited to events (before they happen, even).  It gives me the warm fuzzies.  I don't really drink coffee, but you know I'll show up just in case I can stalkmeet The Bloggess.

I wish we could remove all of the carpet in our house.  It is smelly and makes me sad.  I want to enjoy entertaining again without worrying that the house is stinky.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Question for AT&T Wireless:

Why, if I pay my bill online Friday morning, don't the charges at least register as pending on my bank account by Friday afternoon? Which clearing house do you use - Publisher's?
(sent via their contact form.  we'll see what response I receive.)

In Which the Author Fails to Comprehend.

Me: I will shortly send you a file that should help you view Hulu and other US video sites.
Her: thanks :)
Me: Oh, wait.
Me: Yeah, never mind, you are on mac.
Her: true. I'm out of luck!
Me: Mac usage makes me sad.
Me: You use mac. J1 and J2 use mac.
Me: I can't send you folks anything useful.
[ snip ]
Me: I don't understand Mac usage. :(
Her: **patpat**
Her: It's for people who don't want to think about computing.
Me: That's what bothers me.
Me: It's like there's a whole section of the population that would happily cry from the mountaintops that Swanson Hungry-Man Dinners are better than home-cooked food.
Me: Yes, you have to know something about how to choose and prepare ingredients to make lasagna at home, but Swanson doesn't even OFFER a ready-made lasagna.
Me: Mind if I use some of this in a blog post?
Her: go ahead
Me: Thanks. <3
Me: Uh-oh. I dunno if I can make a new blog post; The Pizza Box Dilemma has 69 posts right now.
Her: the perfect number!
Me: Yeah. Oh, well.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Frustrations of Technical Support.

An excerpt from a conversation with a friend.  Bear in mind, I'm not a pro - I only do tech support on the family computers.  If I had to go into work and deal with similar issues, I'd be on the fast track to substance abuse and suicide.
[17:16] Thraeryn: God, I hate that computer
[17:27] J1: J2 has a secure position in my family as the only one who can fix their computers
[17:27] Thraeryn: It's a frustrating position.
[17:28] Thraeryn: I would almost rather shoot myself than fix that computer sometimes.
[17:28] J1: Yeah
[17:29] Thraeryn: I don't even want to go into everything potentially wrong with it. It suffices that there is a long list, part of which should be fixing now,
[17:29] J1: My mom called last night because she deleted all the settings for her printer and everything.
[17:29] Thraeryn: part of which - oh, man.
[17:29] Thraeryn: As someone comfortable with the things, you want to just turn on all the administrative options because you know you're smart enough not to kill the damned thing.
[17:30] Thraeryn: But then you give it to someone else, and it's like they never learned that you need to feed it, water it, and give it love; that they never knew it needed to go to the bathroom at least three times a day, probably more, etc.
[17:31] Thraeryn: They cut off its tail because once when the thing was acting funny its tail did something they hadn't seen before and it looked like it might be bad. . . .

Loving.

Love is giving your daughter the last of the potato chips without telling her you wanted some, too.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Postdating? Post dating?

This post is supposed to wait a little while before appearing.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Addendum:

Yeah, in the future I should just talk to people when I feel weird instead of posting on my blog because they're not available to talk that very second.  I'm sorry.

Inactivity and Confusion.

I'm not doing a very good job of keeping this blog updated, am I?

I spend a lot of time these days online (which is nothing new) chatting with V., my "three weeks new" lover, Lady J., and her husband, J.  We talk about a lot of different things, as you'd expect new friends to do.  We slowly learn each others' pasts while sharing and helping with a few of the problems the present brings.  I feel very close to these two despite the short time we've been acquainted.

I know Lady J. thinks very highly of me.  She allows me past a lot of the barriers she's built over the years, and I appreciate it all.  She wrote a blog post recently that basically shouts from the rooftops how much she likes me.  After reading it, I can't help feeling awkward.  Even after slicing through so many of the walls she has like a hot knife through butter, I still don't really see what makes me special.  It's hard for me to believe that of all the partners Lady J. had, I somehow touch her in a way that doesn't happen very often.  Reading the sort of compliments she gives me actually makes a part of me frustrated, irrational as it is.  I don't fully understand the praise, and I certainly don't understand my reaction to it.  I just hope my confusion doesn't bleed through and alter my feelings the next time I'm with her.

On a much lighter note, I signed up for one of those "free iPod" sites and actually had my free trial recognized as completed.  If I can get five of you fine folken to sign up for a free trial of something using my referral link, I might get a very nice iPod.  The trial I signed up for was an "Option B - Complete One Offer" trial that gave me 25 free downloads from eMusic.com.  I used several of the 25 downloads to get mp3s of Mitch Hedberg's final, posthumously-released comedy album; I'm sure you could find something that interests you.  Cancelling my account wasn't too difficult, either: I set an e-mail reminder a day early via Google Calendar, and the cancellation link on eMusic's site worked the first time, no issues.  (Of course, it's a decent site - you might want to subscribe instead of cancelling.)  If you've wondered whether anyone actually benefits from these "free gift" sites, please click my referral link, sign up for any of the offers that looks interesting, and we'll find out together.

I'll try to be around more.  :P

Friday, October 17, 2008

Burger Wars: Where's the Bacon?

You know, I remember it all starting with the Hardee's Monster Burger. I believe the BK Stacker came next, followed by the Wendy's Baconator.  A new era in the Burger Wars began.  Each restaurant raced to put a huge bacon cheeseburger on their menu, striving to offer more bacon, thicker patties of beef, better sauces.  Each tried to give their public something more patently health-ruinous.  Even Jack in the Box has its Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger, and I wouldn't ever call them a major player in the Wars.  My question to you, Reading Public, is this:

Where is the excessive, heart-clogging, hedonistic McDonald's bacon cheeseburger?

Where, indeed?  While McDonald's formerly had a regular, wimpy bacon cheeseburger on their menu, a perusal of today's offerings yields no bacon whatsoever.  The closest one can come is most likely a smattering of vegan "bacon bits" on one of the several salads McDonald's offers.

Frankly, this change is quite frustrating.  McDonald's is striving to be a health-conscious purveyor of fast food.  Is there really a place for such a monstrosity?  And how "health-conscious" can McDonald's be?  It's not as though the double cheeseburger is served with any less grease than before.  However, the venerable Chicken McNuggets have had all dark meat (and, hence, all TASTE) removed to become a solely white-meat extrusion.  Instead of mayonnaise-based sauce, the Crispy Salsa Roja Snack Wrap is slathered with a thin, red tomato sauce that hints at having been stored next to a pepper in a past life.  I doubt those changes make any serious impact on their truly health-horrific offerings.  They certainly don't improve the taste of the food.  So what's the point?  Where is the payback, the whole "comfort" aspect of one of America's most recognized comfort foods?

I could continue, but thinking about today's McDonald's menu makes me sad.  Would it kill your mild "health cred" to offer ONE burger with bacon on it?  Christ, Wendy's offers one for the impressively-low price of 99 cents.  (Or is the Junior Bacon Cheeseburger one of the items whose price was bumped recently?  It may cost as much as THIRTY CENTS MORE now!)  Is there actually a cost to trying to offer "healthy" fast food?  Why is McDonald's falling so far behind in an arena where even the Triple-A teams compete?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Okay, so.

I think I'll be able to manage my time a bit better this week. I need to at least try. No neglecting this blog when I have ideas, no guest blogging elsewhere unless something awesome happens that deserves documentation.

How many times in your life have you met people that you're just naturally comfortable knowing? For a while, it seems like you try to find any excuse to see them because things ARE so easy, even not being "social" and just hanging around. It can easily lead to "new friend burnout" if you aren't careful.

V. and I tried to be careful, as did Lady J., but it wasn't long before J. and I stopped trying. I really didn't mean to see the woman every single day of the week past. I certainly didn't expect to sleep with her for all of them, either; in fact, one or two nights I tried to make platonic plans or to expressly have no plans at all. It just didn't work. Looking back, I'm glad it didn't.

Unfortunately, I think my attitude is changing slightly. I can feel myself not getting possessive, but anticipatory and expectant. I consider the possibility of hearing "no" a little less each day, and that's not good. I hope to adjust - I need to move away from the realm of expectancy and back to the realm of hope. Things are better there, more special.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sorry!

I know I've ignored you lately, little blog. I'm sorry, but I'm just having too much sex right now to stop by regularly.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Guest blogging!

A friend of mine has asked to be a regular guest on their blog!  :D

. . . I totally can't tell you which one, though, or where it is.  Sorry.

If you're in the know enough to have figured out whom I'm talking about, keep an eye out for my first entry on there.  ;)

Good things.

You're familiar with the phrase, "Man's reach exceeds his grasp"?  It's a lie.  Man's grasp exceeds his nerve.
It's strange.  I don't really believe that there's ever too much of a good thing.  However, I still worry that if I try to take too much, I'll suddenly find my hands empty.  Ridiculous.

Most of the time, thankfully, I can simply live in the moment and appreciate the good that I'm getting.  Try it sometime!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Quick Realization:

Since I started my relationship with V., I have more sexual partners under my belt (so to speak) than I did in all the years before.  I don't think that's the sole reason our relationship is the longest and strongest I've ever had, but it sure doesn't hurt.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

An Open Letter to the Asian Girl in the Yellow Top:

You are beautiful.

There I was, sitting with a vodka cran and waiting for The Prestige to start at River Oaks last night.  Suddenly, you and a stream of your compatriots flooded the theater aisle and overtook the stage like a well-trained junta.  The watching crowd (all seven of us) sat in awe, awaiting the next move, wondering what this invasion portended.

The boom box came out.  The music began.  Youthful bodies in aerobic gear pumped and gyrated to the sound of Steve Winwood's voice and Eric Prydz's beat.

You immediately outshone the rest.  It was just of you to be in the front row, though you should have taken center stage.  While the others slogged through a practiced set of moves, you clearly meant them.  I felt each one of your eager pelvic thrusts, hungrily took in each of your gyrations with my eyes.  You were perfection in a yellow top, and I would have watched you all night.

Sadly, that was not to be.  It couldn't have been more than thirty seconds before the agents of the theater came crashing down on your display.  The music ended, and you and the rest of your troupe ran out of my life.  I can tell you, though, with firm conviction: you will never run out of my heart.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Frustrating!

I love my little brother.  He's a genuinely good, smart guy.  He's friendly and nice and would do a lot for people.  Right now he is overseas doing missionary work (which is why I can't link to his blog; the authorities over there aren't always kind).  He's involved in something he strongly believes will help people spiritually.

As such, it would be mighty awkward to go bragging to him about the hot date I had last night.  Sure, he'd try to be happy for me, but it's probably not as easy for him to wrap his head around the whole "live with, love, and raise child with one woman while dating other women" notion.

It's always been like that between us, really.  He was the good son and I was the rebellious son.  As such, I'm not sure how much he ever looked up to me after he was about eight or nine.  He's not the one who used to burn himself with cigarettes.  He never stole any of my girlfriends, and he was amazingly forgiving when I informed him one silly girl was more interested in me than in him.  He was never sent home from high school for wearing makeup and he never had an angry mob of students chase him at lunch. 

It's a little weird and slightly frustrating that I've never been able to share tales of my more interesting exploits with him.  Books and movies always stress the admiration younger siblings have for the older ones.  They paint a picture of boys growing into men and sharing the experiences at which life only hinted before.  I don't remember having much of that.  I know I'm happy with the things I've done and seen; I also know they're not always the sort of things my brother would enjoy.  We lead very different lives.

Adventures in Dating!

So, I took a friend of mine out on a date tonight.  We had a fun time, despite:
  • nearly missing the turn for the restaurant we wanted,
  • arriving to find that the Indian restaurant was decidedly NOT open,
  • doing a lot of circling to get to our second choice of eatery, and
  • spending the dinner under the watchful gaze of an androgynous, painted angel with a tuft of cloud on its helmet.
The food was pretty good, and the company was better.  I hope for more evenings like this one.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Foot Network!

From the "Kinda Wish This One Existed" file: Giada De Laurentiis apparently has a show on Foot Network!
click to enlargeFoot Network!I always hear complaints about her creepy smile; maybe someone close to Giada let the networks know they were focusing on the wrong end of the woman. Either way, I hope Everyday Italian's move to a new network is a happy one for cast, crew, and fetish viewers.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Phrase of the Moment: 22 Sept. 2008

Here is your Phrase of the Moment for 22 Sept 2008:
I'll take "Beautiful Tits" for two handfuls, Alex!
Try to use the phrase in your conversations over the next few days, or until the next Phrase of the Moment!

Rights to this and all Phrase of the Moment entries reserved under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works license.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Life Gets In The Way.

Ah, Ike. How you have disrupted Houston's blogging community, uprooting trees and breaking windows like the lovable scamp you were. None of us are sad that you're gone, for your memory stays with us.

I don't want you to think I disappeared. As Sinistar would tell you, "I. LIVE!" My time was spent reading Neal Stephenson's Anathem (which is a wonderful book, and one you should all read), cleaning house, riding my new yard-sale bikes around the neighborhood, and cooking for the people at the HoD. I met (or possibly re-met) the wonderful Priscilla of Foodielicious and spent an enjoyable evening hanging with her and others. I reaffirmed my belief that people can be good to each other, now and then, if the circumstances are right. I faced and beat my apprehension of major streets to ride a bike to not one, but two places to which I wouldn't walk.

Things were pretty good.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Disaster.

I wish the world was a bit more dangerous. If there were more small disasters that affected communities, there'd be more community action. More people would randomly help their fellow man, and they would be far less full of themselves. It's hard to feel full of yourself or separated from your neighbor when you're both waiting in line for water and ice. It's easy to feel like part of a community when you go outside to move a downed tree and find others already out there, happy to have the help. People drive by and offer up the things they had to wait to receive.

It makes me sad that in a week or two, everyone will largely go back to their isolated homes. It won't be quite as neighborly as it is now. I may have to organize a block party in October to combat the detachment that will resume.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rhymes!

E. rhymes really well these days.  She listens to conversations, takes one or two words, and changes the starting sounds to make new words (real and fake).

A recent discourse here at the HoD:
R.: I wondered who you were talking to, Tim.
Me: I was talking to Chris.
E.: You were talking to piss!
She's a funny moppet. :D

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hurricane Ike.

It was very strange.  We sat around Friday with nothing to do until the evening.  The wind started first, blowing and rattling windows, but the rain didn't follow until HOURS passed.  We had power and internet for quite a long while (with an occaisional stutter) and were strangely connected to our friends while we were simultaneously bottled inside our house.

It rattled.  It rained.  The windows sounded like they would blow out every few minutes, but they survived.  We got a little water inside the house, mainly due to someone's bad idea.  V. and I sat in our bedroom and listened to the radio by candlelight.  We slept in turns and fits, eventually waking to a morning of relative calm.

I took some photos.  They're here.

V., E., and I took refuge lately at the House ov Discord.  They have electricity, water, and internet because they're in the medical district.  The HoD also has lots of friends, so we're in good company.

We have decent water pressure at our place, but no power as of yet.  Hope it comes back soon; cross your fingers for me.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sick.

There's a tight, twisted feeling in my stomach right now.  I hope writing this post will get it out.  I'm reluctant to do so, because it's largely about another person and I know they read this blog now and then.  To that person: I have forgiven you, and I don't think of this very often.  That said, I will probably always hate this night.

Just one night.  My woman at the time went out with some friends of hers, not an unusual thing.  I figured she'd come home around 3 or 4 and we'd snuggle ourselves to sleep.  (It's hard writing about this; my chest feels tight and I'm almost shaking.)

She didn't come home at 3.  I sent her a text to let her know I was thinking of her, see if she'd respond, basically see if she was okay.  No response, and she didn't come home at 4.  I probably sent another two texts between 3 and 4, possibly more because she hadn't responded all evening.  I started feeling sick, with worry that she was okay, with anger that I was in the uncertain situation.  I couldn't sleep.  I could barely sit still.  (I can barely sit still right now.)  I have no idea how many texts I sent between 4 and 5, but I do know that at some point I stopped texting and started calling every five minutes.  I figured the phone would wake my woman up eventually and she'd respond, tell me everything was okay, that she was coming home.  

I believe I stopped calling around 5 and just sat, consumed by worry, anger, and fear.  I know I tried to sleep, but it was a futile attempt.  I don't remember why, but I know I was in front of the computer when I got a message from my woman at 6:30.  I demanded that she call me, and when she did, I let her have every last ounce of the anger, worry, and fear that I had all night to build up.  I demanded to know why she hadn't come home, why she hadn't called or responded to any of my attempts to reach her.

Her explanation was that she and her friends weren't at the friends' place like I thought; they were out at a hotel and they had been rolling on E all night.  She'd kinda noticed the phone at some point, or someone had, but they were all too busy talking and snuggling and sucking cock and eating pussy to bother answering it.

I demanded the female half of this couple get on the phone and I let her have a piece of my mind, too.  My woman and her friend were both crying by that time.  I demanded to talk to the male friend, too, but the female wouldn't let me.  She was too scared; she had lied to him time and time again about various things, and she was worried that I would try to break her relationship up in anger.

I WAS angry, too.  I felt I'd been lied to about where my woman was, I was angry that I had been ignored.  I knew it was this woman's first time dropping E, too.  (While I didn't think about it then, it makes me angry now that this was probably her first drug experience EVER, and she was so eager to please these two that she couldn't wait to share her first drug experience with ME.)

That night was everything that has ever been wrong with any open relationship, rolled up into one night.  Fear, doubt, jealousy, anger, lies & half-truths, missed experiences that should have been shared ones.  I can't describe the anger and hurt that I felt.  It still makes me feel physically sick with anger when I think of it today.  Thinking about it makes me realize that it could never really be put right; I'll never have a chance to drop E with that girl for the very first time, to be with her the very first time she does recreational drugs.  At best, the people involved can be forgiven (which I've done with all but one of them) and we can try not to think about the event, try not to dwell on it.  

I don't think about it often; I try to gloss over it very quickly when it does enter my mind.  I know what it does to me.  This blog post is an example of what it does to me.  I had to write this in an attempt to get it out somehow, to make the angry dynamo in the back of my head slow down, to make some of the rage drain off so that I can stop feeling ill.  It's mostly worked.

To you: I'm sorry that I made you think of this and go through it again with me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Disturbing Dream.

I looked up at the two small baby dolls of the sort that E. carries.  They both had faces that were exceedingly ugly: not inhuman or grotesque, but with odd, creepy features better suited to old people than babies.  Wrinkles, wide eyes, a tuft of wispy, white hair atop each head.  They sat on a counter, and I knew they were asleep before, but awake now.   Their mouths opened and gaped at me in dumb, toothless smiles as I came closer and picked them up.  I asked them how their naps were, then put them in a sitting position on a shelf near my shoulder.  Their mouths opened and closed with soft smacking sounds.

As I put one of the dolls down, I realized that its head came off.  I went to put the head back on the doll, its eyes watching me with a vague, dumb awareness.  Instead of being two dolls, now there was one large doll body, already sporting two large heads.  One of the heads was a large version of the one I held in my hand; the other head was the intelligent face of a crotchety old miner, watching with a careful, yet transparent air of disinterest.  He was the dangerous one; if I didn't replace the head I removed correctly, he was likely to eat it.

I had several placement options.  I went with the least obvious first, ignoring the typical socket that most rubber and plastic dolls have.  Instead, I pulled the gray rubber collar around the other two heads loose, revealing the mass of rubber bristles beneath.  The bristles, the sort one would find on a rubber basting brush but short as a fingertip, swayed and reached eagerly for the base of the severed doll head.  I closed the gray collar around all three heads now as the bristles took firm hold, only to realize that they swallowed the new head whole.

I didn't bother to pull the collar loose again as I tried to save the smaller head from the hungry doll body.  The larger doll head smacked its gob stupidly as I shoved it askew, reaching past its base and pulling the smaller head into position beside it.  All three heads now rested snugly in the body's shoulders, to the obvious dismay of the miner head.  It glared openly, and I forced its face away with a shove of my hand.

I returned to the game I was playing before the doll attracted my attention.  The pirate skeleton grinned at me with eager malice.  I looked at the cards he had produced for me previously; they were surprisingly good.  I still knew he meant me harm.  I played a card and moved my piece around the board, landing on a spot that triggered the little robotic skeleton.

He drew a card from his stack inside the game's treasure chest that turned out to be four cards, all linked by cheap chain so they would slide apart and swing like a rope ladder.  The skeleton proclaimed they were prize cards entitling me to a special card, a member of the royal family that was only in the treasure deck and not in the normal stack from which I pulled.  I saw the lie and malice on his "face", though, his grin too eager, his explanation too quick, completely without his usual verbal color.

Grabbing the cards, I read each with growing surprise.  The first allowed me to take the entire royal court from the usual deck, giving me an amazing advantage.  The second entitled me to the special Princess card, just as the skeleton said.  I puzzled through the third, reading with the difficulty of dreams as V. and the little undead pirate grew impatient.  The third card, when sent to an address on the fourth, awarded me no less than four, no more than 360 birthday cupcakes, divided as I liked over thirty years.  (It also had a description of the cupcakes and how they were shipped, how the company ensured their freshness through transit, etc.)  I tried to hurriedly scribble the address from the fourth card into a notebook, but V. pulled me away.  We had things to do.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Why?

Why do politicians tell so many easily-found, demonstrable lies these days? Some things are facts, and a couple of interns with access to news archives can prove that a candidate DID work with the other party on bipartisan legislation, that a candidate DID change most of his professed views to align them with the current President, that a candidate DID support government money for local construction projects and is, in fact, still completing half of the project that they're supposed to be against now.

History extends beyond what happened last month. I do mean "history", too, because events, votes, viewpoints, and comments are chronicled and archived and available for review. It's not every day one gets to quote Kid Rock:

"I was born at night, but not last night, baby!"

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sarah Palin.

If you want to know about her speech last night, read this.  It's a pretty good (if poorly formatted) review.  My thoughts on the woman:

She is the Republican Party's Trophy Wife Candidate.  
  • As one person said about her speech, she came off a bit like the school valedictorian who was also a former cheerleader.  
  • She's not a spring chicken, but is still good-looking enough to make your buddies envious.  
  • She has her own hobbies, like running the PTA.  They make her feel important!
  • She has her own job as Governor of Alaska, so she can get the better parking spots, waive your traffic tickets, and pay for her own shopping trips.
  • She knows how to use the computers and put things on eBay, thereby getting them out of the garage.  We can make it a rumpus room once she clears out all that space!
Governor Sarah Palin is the completely sexist "look, we're not sexist, here's a woman" candidate.  There are other female politicians, legislators like Sen. Olympia Snowe, who have experience in Washington and have earned the respect of their peers.  Nominating Sarah Palin is the choice that only a misogynist would make.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

An Open Letter to Beer Drinkers:

(Edit: This is to the average beer drinker.  You'll know if you qualify by the end.)

Fuck off.

You're not really drinking, you know.  When you drink, the liquid you consume is more than 10% alcohol by volume.  Even most of the girliest components of the fruitiest bar drinks are at least 40 proof.  That's right: Midori has twice the alcohol content.  MIDORI has twice the alcohol content.  Midori has twice the alcohol content.

You know what you're really doing?  You're having a beer.  You're downing a glass, bottle, or can of yeast, hops, and barley.  If they put a port-a-let inside a bakery and encouraged all the breads to piss in it all day, then collected and bottled it after, someone could have themselves quite a nice little micro-brew.  I can't even finish a can of the stuff; I can choke it down for a little while, but before long all that watery bread leaves me pretty full.

One of the more frustrating things I hear about beer is that people just drink it to get drunk.  Excuse me, but YOU'RE NOT REALLY DRINKING.  And don't get onto me about "most" people enjoying the taste; I was at a Fark party a few weeks ago and mentioned that I don't drink beer because of the taste.  Half the table's response? "I don't drink it for the taste!"

I think the saddest thing about beer, though, is its pervasiveness.  States that won't let you buy tequila on Sunday will let you buy three cases of beer.  Stadiums and ballparks won't sell you a vodka cran.  I was at a four-day rock festival with acts like RATT, Warrant, Bret Michaels, Gilby Clarke, and Sammy Hagar on the bill, and I didn't get drunk ONCE all weekend.  The only drink general admission people could buy inside the festival was beer.  No glass bottles allowed at the campsite, so everyone brought a cooler or two of beer.  People stayed up until 3:30 AM most nights, laughing and carousing, and were they drinking?  No.  They were having a few beers.

Goddammit, people.  Man up.  I want you to each have a plastic bottle of something 80 proof or higher (McCormick's is a good start; Everclear is better) by the next time I post.

Update: I'm glad you actually enjoy the stuff, Mander, and fully admit that it's not worth drinking when you're trying to get drunk.  Those two simple facts mean you are not the average beer drinker and not whom I'm really upset with.  And yeah, Midori is horrible by itself, but it was also the girliest, fruitiest, greenest liquor I could imagine, then and now.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Labor Day Weekend Update:

  1. Rock the Bayou has been awesome, and should continue to be so. The organization leaves much to be desired sometimes, but I'm giving the promoter a bit of leeway since this is apparently his first event ever, it's the first year for this festival, and the lineup of bands is EXCELLENT.
  2. I have no worries that Gustav will hit Houston. I don't even worry that we'll get enough rain to flood seriously. I wish we would start to get some cloud cover and maybe sprinkling at the festival.
  3. I have a pretty bitchin' sunburn right now. :P
  4. The purple in my hair is almost completely gone due to my constant sweating. It is a failed experiment; I loved the color, but it won't hold unless I bleach. I'm not going to bleach again any time soon.
  5. I'm totally psyched to see ALICE COOPER tonight. Sammy Hagar rocked the house last night, and there was an appropriate level of appreciatory tit-flashing.
I think that's it for now. I'm just chillin' at la casa before today's lineup on the main stage really gets going. See you later!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Hairy Update.


I don't know how many blog posts I've made about my hair lately. I had to go with Manic Panic Ultra Violet; they didn't have Purple Haze.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hair Color Poll!

(There's a poll at the end of this post, so please click through!)

I am trying to decide what color I should next dye my hair. I want a dark, strong color that will take without bleaching. I looked at my options, and I settled on two choices: the Manic Panic colors Purple Haze and After Midnight Blue. I know which color I like, but I wanted to get opinions other than my own (especially female ones).

In the interest of making the visualization easier, I give you: poorly-Photoshopped versions of hair coloring!

After Midnight Blue:
After Midnight BluePurple Haze:
Purple Haze. . . Yeah, that's the best I could do. Sorry. Feel free to follow the links above to Manic Panic's page on each color to see how they REALLY look. Now, which do you like more?


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Here Comes The New Hair

Same as the old hair! I haven't had hair this short in years.
It surprises me every time I walk by a mirror. Looks good, though. Sometime soon I'll probably start dying it purple. Purple shouldn't require bleaching, shouldn't damage my hair so much. I might even be able to dye my mustache and beard purple. Think I should?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Temporary Despair!

My hair is breaking too badly in the front due to bleach. As a result, I'll have to cut it off for now. :( I plan to let it grow back, and perhaps choose a color next time that won't require bleaching. Maybe a purple.

In any case, expect me to be nearly bald the next time we meet. I'll get some pictures up after the deed is done.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Any Given Episode: Rocky and Bullwinkle

I feel ill today. Despite that, I bring you Any Given Episode of: Rocky and Bullwinkle!

Bullwinkle: I have no brain! Well, time to get to work!
Rocky: Bullwinkle, be careful! You've got no brain!
Bullwinkle: That's never stopped me before!

Narrator: Little did our heroes know that danger was right around the corner!

(from around the corner)
Boris: Quickly, is time to stop moose and skwirrel!
Natasha: But Boris, darling, you've got no brain!
Boris: That's why it is difficult mission!

Thank you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sports, Shmorts.

Who cares about the 2008 Olympic Games? I really, truly don't this time around. Sure, China's constant revelations of fakery during the opening ceremony are pretty amusing. Yes, Michael Phelps is a freak of nature designed to swim. Do I care about any of these things? Aside from some anger that Bushy Jr. gets to hobnob with the women's volleyball team, no. I don't.

Here are a few reminders that other things are, in fact, happening across the globe:
. . . Seriously, the Olympic Games are probably the least interesting thing going right now. Athletes performing in athletic competitions? Happens all the time. College presidents pushing for a lower drinking age? Kelly Bundy willingly getting her claims to fame cut off? Those things are news.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

SO Much Better.

Okay, we didn't have quite enough cash on hand to finish the flooring in the living room. We got a lot, though. BEHOLD, our new, awesome living room!
We moved a couple of things out, did a little redesigning. V. and I agree that it works quite well this way. We look forward to buying the three boxes or so it'll take to finish the room. It's just fine until then, though. If you're in the area, drop by and see it yourself sometime!

Street views!

Google Maps' Street View is pretty fun. Here's my house, and here's our new favorite local eatery, Troy's Dawg House.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Soapbox & floor planks.

First: The RIAA has finally paid off the dues for one of their significant losses in a filesharing case. You can read about it here. It's promising news.

Second: V. and I finally ripped up the carpet in our living room. It was all sorts of pet-piddle nasty, and we're quite glad that it's gone. In its place: the remainder of the laminate flooring from the old house!
Doesn't it look pretty? I hope that we can go to Sam's Club this weekend and get a couple more boxes to finish the room. I love this stuff so much more than carpet.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Take Advantage.

I'm not sure why, but ZoneAlarm is offering ZoneAlarm ForceField for free today, August 12, 2008. It's a tool that virtualizes your browser, basically setting it aside in its own little bubble. Web threats are trapped and only affect the bubble instead of your whole system. Learn more about ForceField here and download it today here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Let's press Congress.

Forget baseball. There. I said it. I believe our national pastime should be American Gladiators. Why? I'll tell you why: I have a dream wherein kids play pick-up games of Atlasphere on those long summer afternoons.

"Oh NO, the ball went through Old Man Johnson's window! RUN!!"

Friday, August 8, 2008

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Our Faces, Red with Shame

From the look of things, it seems that the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing are going to be the world's largest organized apology to the Chinese government ever attempted. There have already been apologies for US cyclists wearing masks to combat the Beijing smog, and it's likely that Amanda Beard will apologize for revealing racy ad-campaign photos while in the conservative nation. For what other things will the world try to make amends before the closing ceremonies?
  • Tour group apologizes for ordering Chinese menu items with their original names: "We planned this trip for a long while, including studying local cuisine. We heard about the government ordering dishes to be renamed, but we didn't think we were hurting anyone"
  • Woman caught publicly breastfeeding apologizes for nurturing, showing preference to female child
  • Man claims he's "deeply sorry" for spitting on flaming Tibetan protester: "I swear, I wasn't trying to put the fire out at all"
  • Families of the ten Austrian tourists dead due to poor quality of drinking water send their "heartfelt sympathies" to China as government deals with embarrassing media coverage
  • Representatives from 204 nations call their victories at the Beijing Summer Olympics "nothing special" and "[not indicative] of superior athleticism"

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Thanks, Edouard!

Today is a "do whatever you want" lazy day for V. and me. Why? Tropical storm Edouard was scheduled to hit Houston, and instead hit Port Arthur. Houston Public Library branches are closed, and we are taking full advantage. Examples of our decadence:
  • got up at 9:30 instead of 7:30
  • used champagne from New Year's to make yummy mimosas
  • sat around all morning and did nothing but make mimosas `til the champagne ran dry
  • watched video online
  • watched E. play Peggle
  • got out some bacon to thaw for lunch
These are the days, I tell you. I think that bacon is going to make a WONDERFUL bacon sandwich. :9

Monday, August 4, 2008

"This, too, shall pass."

News comes today that beloved actor Morgan Freeman is in serious condition in a Memphis hospital after a road accident. I wish him, his family and his friends well. This is undoubtedly a trying time for them.

His doctors and attending staff, however, are probably the most at-ease of anyone. How could you stay nervous with Morgan Freeman's calm, strong voice asking you questions, sharing stories and making little jokes that belie the nature of his injuries? If it's anything like what I imagine, the hospital staff leave Mr. Freeman's room with a renewed spirit and a liberal dose of hope.

I hope the reality of the situation is like my imaginings. All the best to you, Mr. Freeman; I hope you're well soon.

Wherein Art Makes Tim Grumpy.

So, I'm reading these books by Stephenie Meyer. They're part of her "Twilight" series, the latest book of which apparently debuted this past weekend to "record-breaking sales". The stories involve a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire and, in a dramatic turn in a later book, develops a serious friendship with a werewolf, her vampire boyfriend's sworn enemy. The books are pretty fast reads and generally entertaining.

I mentioned being grumpy back there in the subject, didn't I? Why should I be grumpy that a book whose prequels I enjoyed sold 1.3 million copies on Saturday? It's because I hate the characters! Oh, how I hate these -

Well, let's not get carried away. The protagonist's vampire boyfriend, Edward, isn't that bad. He does some stupid things that you wouldn't imagine someone more than 100 years old would. . . . Er, honestly, things like falling in love with a 17-year-old girl. When the character of Edward Cullen was born, the automobile was still in its infancy, having been patented slightly less than twenty years before. Even at the "ripe, old age" of 29, I know that most times looking at 17-year-old girls is far more rewarding than talking to them.*

Really, though, I don't mind Edward's character. The one that truly gets under my skin is the protagonist, Bella. She exemplifies everything worrisome and frustrating about the stereotypical teenage girl. She is amazingly, dramatically in love, eclipsing everything else in her life. She wants desperately to join her boyfriend, Edward, and his family as a vampire. She is scared of getting married just out of high school.

Wait, what?

Yes, the girl who desperately wants to become a vampire can have it anytime she wants, ending her life as she knows it and starting an eternity with her beloved, but only if she ties the knot. There isn't even any mention that it has to be a public ceremony. Her boyfriend springs this condition on her when she has pleaded with the head of his family to do the deed immediately.

This is exactly the sort of thing that makes a good-natured adult sigh and shake their head, that makes those a little less forgiving quite frustrated. The character of Bella is FULL of these "endearing" flaws. She's amazingly beef-headed: she lives in a town with vampires, but doesn't figure out that her friend, Jacob, is a werewolf until a full two chapters after the reader. She never imagines that the voices she hears when she's in danger might really, truly be the thoughts of her mind-reading boyfriend, because "oh he can't read my thoughts normally! Aren't I special?" Yet, despite that obvious feeling that she is unique, she doesn't feel worthy of her ultra-perfect boyfriend. It goes on and on.

The books aren't horrible, and I don't want you to get that idea. Lots of interesting things happen to Bella, exciting things involving vampires and werewolves and flying off to distant lands to face danger. I decided, though, that the real reason I started the current book is that I hope Bella gets over herself and makes a decision on becoming a vampire, a REAL decision that culminates in her becoming a vampire. Seeing as I'm not reading the latest release, and that new release isn't even the end of the series, my hopes are falling.

Why is this so frustrating? It's because the series is wildly popular. Bella is a teenage everyman (. . . girl). Teenage girls read these books and say to themselves, "I'm just like her!" From an outside perspective, it means that teenage girls all see themselves as twits with thick skulls full of helium and hearts not just worn on their sleeves, but surrounded by blinky LEDs. (They'll show you all of the ten million wounds and bruises if you ask! Or if you don't. Or if you pass by on the street and steal a passing glance.) They think themselves unique and destined for greatness, yet completely unworthy of the good things in life.

Sadly, I think I'll finish reading the book I started. I don't really care what happens to Bella. I just want to read about vampires and werewolves.

*Don't be offended, please. There are always exceptions.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

It Must Be Hard. . . .

The world would be a far funnier place if Snoop had slipped up while recording the famous "Gin & Juice":
So what you wanna do? Sheeeeit, I got a pocket full o' rubbers and my homeboy's tutu!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

My Favorite Superpowers!

I spend a lot of time thinking about this sort of thing before I sleep. Superpowers, wishes, what I'd do if I won the lottery, etc. Thought I'd share with you some of my visions of an awesome, superpowered future! Here are a few of the abilities I'd choose:
  • turn every slap into a high-five or a friendly hand-clasp
  • turn every punch into a fist-bump
  • turn every kick into the iconic Kid `N Play dance move (seen at 2:17)
These might not be the most useful powers, but with them, a person could be the most annoying fighter EVER! :D

(It really does bring me great joy to imagine making snarky comments to people, then turning their attempted smacks into high-fives and annoying them even further. Can you see someone trying to kick you in the balls, then finding themselves hopping on one foot in a bad `90s hip-hop dance move? I can't think of anything funnier.)

Friday, August 1, 2008

How best can we waste $1,000,000?

What would you do if you had one million dollars to spend? Would you pay off your debts, buy a new home, take a relaxing vacation, or perhaps bankroll a monumental, coke-fueled orgy? While those all sound like things your average person would do, the people of Lavonia, GA (ah, my home state) had a different idea: they bought the town's sole strip club as a way to close the establishment.

This offends me for several reasons. First, I like strip clubs. (Sorry, Mom & Dad.) I simply don't see anything wrong with going to a bar, having a drink, and watching (hopefully) attractive women show off what nature and genetics, and possibly a skilled surgeon, provided them. It can be quite relaxing to go, sit, and have a cute female who's already half-naked pretend to like you for a little while. I fail to see the harm in all of this, so it astounds me that others consider it so amazingly offensive that they'd spend one MILLION dollars (pinky to lip) of what were presumably taxpayer funds to buy one of these places and shut its doors.

Second, the town attempted to close Club Risque before, but were denied by local judges who agreed "that nude dancing was a constitutionally protected form of expression." They asked the interpreters of the law, and those people said, "No, there's nothing wrong with this." The city asked several times, and each time the answer was the same: that it's okay for a bar to hire women who want to shake their aptly-named moneymakers for cash.

The final straw is that the money obviously had better uses. Lavonia has roads that need maintenance, does it not? I bet there's a school system in the area that could put $1,000,000 to pretty good use. Or, as the linked article mentions, the town has a bond fund for a water treatment plant upgrade, and that money would've paid the fund nicely. The mayor and the city council decided that no, closing the doors of the one strip joint in the area was far more important, and this was their chance! I can see the pulpit-pounding argument now:
Yes, this money could be used to pay for our town's continued clean water. The people of this town, however, know what's REALLY important: keeping our minds clean! And the only way we can do that is to clean our community of Cafe Risque!!
A friend commented that perhaps with cleaner water, the residents of Lavonia would think a bit better. I'm not sure if their treatment plant was already upgraded; if not, it seems like we can only speculate.

I think the saddest part of the whole story is that this deal took place after the original owner died. He fought to keep the establishment open until his death in 2006, and I assume its new owners eventually tired of the city council's enmity. The city certainly expressed that enmity openly, just as they openly showed their glee at Cafe Risque's closure. City crews removed Cafe Risque advertisements "and burned them in a large bonfire at the strip club site, near a major highway." You can draw your own parallels.

The question I still ask is this: What's so wrong with naked women? Why would a city government work so hard and spend so much public money to close what amounts to a bar whose majority of workers are women happy enough with their bodies to show them?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Random Funny Moment:

  • hearing Phil Collins sing that he's too young

More Horrible Jokes!

Joke, really.
Q: What's green and annoys Christians?
A: Kermit the Jew! (from a Fark thread)