Archive for December, 2005

Post #25 of 36: 2005 TV Top 10: #8 & 7

Saturday, December 31st, 2005

Another inadvertant grouping of similar shows (in this case, new Lost ripoffs):

8. Surface – This is better than I thought it was going to be, centering on three strangers who each begin an investigation of a new phenomenon, which turns out to be the sudden re-emergence of a sea monster, which looks to be an “invasive species” — that is, it’s probably going to take over as the planet’s dominant life form … which wouldn’t be so bad, if it didn’t mean destroying most of the human race in the process.

The constantly developing story has got me hooked into coming back each week.

And Lake Bell in tight, wet clothes is by no means a bad thing either …

7. Threshold – Marginally a better show, I give this one the edge because of the presence of Star Trek veteran Brent Spiner. The best part of the show is how the whole story changes slightly each week, as they add the knowledge learned in previous weeks (for example, when they realized that the alien signal has no effect on pre-puberty brains).

Unfortunately, the network idiots moved it around the schedule, then took it off the air for more than a month. As is standard procedure for these morons, they predict that the show won’t make it, then take every measure possible to make sure the prediction comes true.

It’s a wonder anybody still watches television at all …

Post #24 of 36: Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 31st, 2005

Here’s wishing you a happy and prosperous 2006!

For that matter, here’s wishing ME the same.

Hey, I’m not greedy; all I ask is that 2006 be better that this past month or so: An injury, a family emergency and a respiratory infection in the span of two weeks can wear a person out.

The rest of 2005 was fairly uneventful: My personal highlights included my achievement of my own web domain, my inclusion in the 100 Bloggers project, my metal blog logo (seen at the top of this page, a gift from The Spook), my 50th birthday, my DNA testing that finally revealed some clues to my genetic heritage, completing production of three fairly good training videos at work, and our acquisition of several pieces of really sweet audio equipment.

The lowlights included the December disasters I mentioned above, my busted truck window (and being rousted out of bed by the cops at 2 a.m. just so they could tell us they probably wouldn’t be able to find the people who did it), a prolonged summer, the fact that the production of the videos has resulted in pretty much zero career traction at work, and … well, something else about work that I can’t talk about here …

… but I’m sure my co-workers that read this can guess what it is …

But enough whining: HAPPY NEW YEAR, and I hope it’s a good one for you.

Post #23 of 36: 2005 TV Top 10: #10 & 9

Saturday, December 31st, 2005

Every year I mean to do a countdown of the best TV, but I never get around to it; this year I finally made myself make suome notes (twice! I lost the first set), so here goes:

10. Grey’s Anatomy – My wife likes this better than I do: I overuses all the medical series cliches that have been in play since St. Elsewhere, starting with way-too-good-looking doctors having indiscriminate sex and thus having soap-opera-calibre problems; and highly unlikely variations on diseases and conditions that are already almost unknown in the real world.

Still, this show does it with more style (i.e., cooler music) than most other shows of this type (I’m thinking ER), so even though I usually just have it on in the background while I do stuff on the computer, it makes my list …

… but just barely, and mainly because there were so few other good shows …

9. Scrubs – Yet another medical show, this should be higher on the list, but the network idiots keep preempting it, and moving it, and keeping it off the air for months at a time, so my high opinion of the show is little more than a distant memory at this point. But they’re brining it back in January — after most people have assumed it was dead, thanks a lot — and it’s a great show, so I’m including it here. The smirky flashbacks and fantasy sequences get old quick, but the writing is still funny, and the appealing supporting cast (especially Sarah Chalke, John C. McGinley and Donald Faison) is what keeps me coming back.


Coming up: Shows 8 through 1 …

Post #22 of 36: The Viking-ing

Saturday, December 31st, 2005

One of the highlights of my year was getting a glimpse into my genetic heritage: Finding out that my ancestors most likely came from Iceland! So, to highlight that part of the past year, let’s look at the wonderful world of Vikings:

First, here’s some music to listen to while you read.

Next, let’s start at the very beginning: Your new word for the day is Ginnungagap, which is the word in Norse mythology for the vast nothingness that existed before it was created by the Norse Gods.

Let’s all say it together: Gin-nun-ga-gap.

Try to use it in conversation tomorrow, to practice the word in common usage.

Next, read what Wikipedia has to say about Vikings and the Viking Age. Among other things, the image of the Vikings as unwashed and ungroomed seems to be undeserved. Remember that many cultures back then put personal hygeine on the back burner, and many of these people considered the Vikings to be just a bid fastidious with their soap, and their bathing once a week whether they needed it or not, and their extensive arsenal of grooming tools. (“This week on the Discovery Channel: ‘Vikings, the First Metrosexuals’!”)

Read about the epic Viking Sagas and the Viking Heritage.

Viking food, feasting and recipes.

Vikings in Ireland.

Okay, enough of this educational stuff, let’s have some fun:

A Flickr comic strip set: Duck Vikings Raid Toronto.

Play an online demo of the classic Lost Vikings computer game. Man, I used to waste many hours on this …

Viking blades on Ebay. Check ’em out, some of these are pretty sweet …

Kirk Douglas in The Vikings.

Full-size Viking ship made of ice cream sticks in Amsterdam.

The Viking 5, a stop-action animation film about Vikings.

Real-time strategy game: Tribal Trouble:

A group of Viking raiders got so drunk that, thanks to navigational ineptitude and the occasional tropical storm, they were shipwrecked and washed ashore on one of the South Sea islands. What’s bad about this is that the (now somewhat sober) Vikings decided to stay for a while and raid the native villages for fun and new loot.

Hagar the Horrible, the Viking that’s probably best known to most Americans (and my Outgoing Boss’ favorite comic strip, BTW.

Viking images on Google.

The 13th Warrior: Vikings team up with an Arab to fight a flesh eating terror. There’s some great dialogue too, like when one of the Vikings asks the Arab (Antonio Banderas), “When you die, may I have your sword? I want to give it to my daughter!”

Vikings on Flickr.

And finally: The Viking Kittens!

Post #21 of 36: The Commemorating!

Friday, December 30th, 2005

Can you believe I kept at it this long???So this is it: It was three years ago that I first set up my Blogger account and wrote a couple of paragraphs.

Then I packed some wet towels into a laundry basket, and drove to the local laundrymat.

What, that’s not what you did after your first blog post?

Seriously, though: Our clothes dryer had stopped drying a couple of days earlier and I was in the process of trying to figure out which parts were defective and replace them; in the meantime, the show must go on, and by “the show”, I mean “my wife’s beauty shop”, and by “go on, I mean “dirty up a lot of towels”, which, it follows logically, have to be washed, and — here’s the crucial point for purposes of this post — dried.

Thus, after I did a quick “Hi-how-are-ya-I’m-new-at-this-blogging-thing”, I did my husbandly duty (no, not that one) and lugged a basket of laundry to the nearest dryers, much as men have done since the time of the caveman.

But don’t worry, my new blogging fever was still burning hot, and I took a legal pad with me, and in spite of almost debilitating carpal tunnel syndrome, I wrote an 800-word blog post, which I typed up the next day and posted.

That’s right: I composed my second blog post on paper — again, just as men have done since the time of the caveman.

Seriously, though: There was something very artsy, very Hemingway, scratching out a post with a brace on my wrist, and on that rickety table, and with the washers and dryers rumbling all around me. I think that intense creative immersion gave me a great jump-start to maintaining a blog; after all, work is easier when the vision is there …

So anyway, here I still am, three whole years after that initial set of primal experiences.

Who would have thought …

Post #20 of 36: The Substituting

Friday, December 30th, 2005

For this post, I did the heavy lifting elsewhere: I did a post on the old blog, because I hadn’t posted there in 10 days, so I was overdue, plus I had to announce the blogiversary, and put in a pointer to this 36 Posts mess.

Also: See that party-hat banner at the top of this page? I also spent almost 90 freaking minutes making it, and — this was the hard part — getting it formatted into the templates of the two blogs (my HTML is rusty, shut up).

So let’s call it a post and move on to the next one …

Post #19 of 36: The Downhill Mix

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

As we enter the downhill slide of this foolhardly project, it’s time to dump some random ideas:

Thursday’s over! And nothing’s happened to me!

I’ve had three crappy Thursdays in a row: Three weeks ago I slipped on the ice and hurt my arm (nothing broken, thank God, but it hurt like heck for a long time); Two weeks ago my cousins called saying that I had to drop everything and fly home because my mom was having minor surgery and an overnight hospital stay; then, one week ago, in an event probably brought on by the previous two, I was suddenly hit with an intense fever and set of chills due to an upper respiratory infection.

It was getting to where I was dreading Wednesday being over.

In fact, it doesn’t even seem like a whole week that I first came down with this crud — perhaps that’s due in part to spending 12 hours a day asleep (three of those hours were naps) and the rest in pain.

But now I’m feeling a lot better, and, more importantly, nothing happened today to knock me back down.

Fate Takes A Holiday.

Fract_L, my co-worker and a reader of this blog, took my advice last week and downloaded “Little by Little”, the new album that the band Harvey Danger is releasing for free on the Net. She mentioned it to me this week. which reminded me that I needed to make it a point to give it a few more listens, so that’s what I’m doing right now.

People, this album is so good it’s scary. In various parts it reminds me of The Beatles, Queen, Green Day, Patti Smith, Todd Rundgren, Elvis Costello, Television — not just in sound but also in creative genius. These guys have a great knack for avoiding the usual traps of pop songwriting, always keeping every line fresh.

I may just have my first favorite current album since Elastica’s debut 11 years ago.

Seriously, go download this album, and here what music sounds like when made by people who don’t put the money first.

Today is the 160th anniversary of the admission of Texas to the United States — a great move for America, but personally I can’t help wondering if we wouldn’t have been better off staying a Republic …

Post #18 of 36: The Halfing

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

Halfway point! Woo-hoo!

In case you’re just tuning in, I foolishly decided to do 36 posts in a ridiculously short period of time to commemorate by 36 months of almost-daily blogging.

Last year I did “24 Posts in 24 Hours”, but that extra 50% I’d have to do this year is the crucial tipping point that makes it undoable.

Three years ago tomorrow (Thursday) I finally decided to stop thinking about doing a blog and take the plunge. (Read my first two posts here and here.)

For those of you who have stuck with me the whole way, thanks for your superhuman endurance!

And for those just joining us: Stay tuned, because I’m committed to at least 18 more posts …

Post #17 of 36: The Hamstering

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

My wife likes to call me, among other things, her little Idea Hamster. That’s because I’m constantly spinning off ideas; there’s not always a complete follow-up, because a lot of my ideas are long-form (novels, scripts, etc.), and besides, coming up with the ideas — then doing the initial brainstorming from that idea — is the fun part.

I didn’t used to be quite such a hamster, but the past ten years have made a difference. Getting my ADD under control (to some extent, anyway), getting involved in standup comedy, and, more recently, forcing myself to post on my blog pretty much every day have really honed those creative blades.

The reason I bring this up now is because I wanted to note, for my own future reference, that I had a really cool song idea a couple of nights ago. Sure, I get lots of song ideas, and have since I was in a band in my 20s, but for the most part they’re ideas for song fragments or structures. The idea I had Tuesday night arrived almost fully formed, or at least outlined, and it strikes me as being fairly unique.

For one thing, it’s a story song, which don’t seem to be nearly as popular these days as they were in the Fifties and Sixties: Big Bad John, Tell Laura I Love Her, Last Kiss, Ringo, A Boy Named Sue, El Paso — the list goes on and on.

And this idea of mine recalls some of those old tunes — or at least it will when I get it written.

The best part is that this is a short-form idea: Writing a whole song is absolutely within reach of my puny attention span.

The interesting thing about my having the idea is what she and I have come to call my “toothpaste ideas”: Concepts that come to me as I’m brushing my teeth last thing at night, right before going to bed.

The first and best of such ideas occurred almost exactly 9 years ago. I leaned out of the bathroom, toothbrush in hand and a mouth full of toothpaste, and said, “Hey, I just thought up a joke …”

It turned out to be one of my best jokes; Dan Merryman kept trying to buy it from me, but I was using it as my opener, and wasn’t interested in selling.

My co-worker Marrissa is the exact opposite of me: She’s constantly writing and submitting screenplays, but sometimes she gets stuck for ideas.

I’ll toss out ideas faster than she can work on them: “Hey, Marrissa, I’ve got an idea for a black buddy comedy!”

Or a TV series about ghost researchers. Or a series about werewolves.

Personally, I don’t get into those horror/supernatural works, but she does, and I’m obliging.

She keeps saying that she her dream is to someday have a suite of offices in HBO headquarters, with my in the next office, playing computer games and occasionally going, “Hey, Marrissa, I just got another idea.”

Yeah, I could get used to that. Except for the part about having to move to wherever HBO’s HQ is …

But the best part of my idea is that it gives me a glimpse of my creative process. As you know if you’ve reading here, I’ve had a tough couple of weeks, and now, as I’m emerging from my feverish cocoon and start feeling better, the ideas just keep bubbling to the surface.

I haven’t had much energy or even awareness for the past week, and I think that did a lot to giving my brain, especially my subconscious, the rest it needed to start fresh.

I can’t wait to see what ideas come next — but first I guess I’d better work on that song …

Post #16 of 36: The Geeking, Day 2

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005

The encroachment on my time of computer problems continued again today.

I thought I’d never get the UPS computer working again; Some days Windows just doesn’t want to let itself get repaired. I put in the installation disk, but after twenty minutes of loading all this worthless junk, it just brought me back to a DOS prompt.

Finally I found an older install disk (SP1) and the recovery console worked on that one.

Except that it did what looked like it did a full install.

At least the UPS software was still there, so maybe it turned out okay.

The next job was to repo a computer from a supervisor who had been getting just a little distracted from her supervisory duties by the Internet.

It was a weird feeling, taking away somebody’s web access like that, especially with everybody watching, but it was for the best.

And that job furnished me with the spare computer in which to implant the microbiologist’s HDD, since her motherboard might be going out.

Also, I finally got an opportunity to swap out the receptionist’s CD-ROM drive. I’ve been meaning to do that for a long time, and she’s been patient and hasn’t said anything, but I can feel those waves of guilt radiating from every look she gives me.

The downside to all this merriment is that my regular duties are backing up like an off-brand septic tank, but it’s worth it knowing that these simple tasks are something that most of my co-workers can’t do.

Like I said last night, a little indispensibility is a good thing.