Archive for December, 2007

My 5th Blogiversary, Part 2

Monday, December 31st, 2007

Continuing now with my Five-Year Blogiversary commemorations, here’s more yammering about personal things that nobody cares about, just like bloggers used to do it during The Golden Age:

I have several long-sleeve dark t-shirts that are among my favorite things to wear in the winter, because they’re comfortable, they’re relatively warm, most of them have pockets, and even I look better in dark colors.

The reason I bring this up is that, as of last night, I have one fewer of those shirts.

Well, I still have the shirt, but two places on the collar — right in the front, very prominent — have big chunks torn out of them.

Yes, Bristol Destructodog has struck again. We keep thinking that he’s over that phase, then we turn around and find something of ours with huge chunks forcibly removed by tiny but powerful little jaws.

Here’s a picture of some of his early work, along with a picture of the artist (inset):

You can click here to view a gallery of more of his destruction.

Speaking of pictures … But first, here’s a bit about one of my favorite films, Koyaanisqatsi. Throughout the movie, Hopi Indian prophecies are sung in their native language, and those songs are translated at the end. One of the prophecies is:

“Near the Day of Purification, cobwebs will be spun back and forth across the sky.”

Well, here’s a picture that I took on Christmas morning:

Click on the picture to see the large view, and click here to see all the pictures I took.

Pretty strange, huh?

“Day of Purification”, remember those words.

I made stuffed mushrooms tonight, for the first time in at least three years, and they were wonderful, probably my best ever.

No pictures, though, sorry.

We watched another movie today: Open Season (the one about the domesticated grizzly and the one-antlered elk [Martin Lawrence, Ashton Kutcher] trying to get back to civilization on the first day of hunting season. It wasn’t bad, but it’s no Pixar work. It seemed very derivative, and of second-tier works like Shrek and Madagascar.

I’ll bet you’re wondering what music I’m listening to right now on my Logitech USB headphones as I labor over this mess.

Well, since you ask, little Miss Nosey-Nose, I’m listening to Luscious Jackson‘s Fever In Fever Out.

‘Cause you know how I feel about Chicks with Guitars.

Here’s a video of their biggest hit, Naked Eye:

Well, that should be enough pointless Blogiversary blogging just to prove that I’ve still “got it”.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a New Year’s date.

It’s My 5th Blogiversary!

Monday, December 31st, 2007

Today is my Five-Year Blogiversary! Yes, it was on this day in 2002 that I figured I had nothing better to do with my life, so I might as well waste it nattering away about nothing to people who don’t care.

And so far, so good.

Which is to say, I can’t believe I’m still at it.

But since I am, let’s get down to a big old pile of that nattering away about random personal things, just like we used to blog when it was still old-school:

Sure, this blog (and domain) only goes back to April 2005, but my first three years — my Blogging Glory Days! (BGD) — were on Blogger, with mutiple posts every day. Unfortunately, Blogger/Blogspot somehow ate that old blog, but I was able to save all three years, and I’m making it available in a zipped-file format. Just right-click here then click Save-As. A lot of the layout doesn’t work like it should, since you won’t be accessing it on the same server on which the links were written, but it’s still all there.

Ah, those were the days, when not every fourth-grader and their pet lemur had a blog, when blogging was new and exciting, and when everybody, bloggers and civilians too, spent several hours a day checking out other people’s blogs.

Yes, it was a veritable Golden Age of lost productivity.

And I made lots of blogging friends then, many of whom are still around and still checking in here occasionally: Yay Kim, Pamibe, Gigglechick, RennyBA, The Presurfer … but back then I had several dozen blogfriends, all of whom checked out my blog (and I theirs) daily. Everybody was always frantically searching for fresh content to post, and that led to more and more blogs and sites to have to monitor, and more friends, most of whom don’t stop by here any more, just like I don’t stop by there.

But blogging has cooled a lot since that heyday, and most of us are just casually posting now. I guess it’s the nature of red-hot trends to burn brightly until they finally burn out.

So why am I still doing this? Here’s why: It’s a map of my 100 latest visitors, according to SiteMeter:

Pretty cool, huh? Look at that: Two in the Russian Federation! Turkey! Hong Kong! The Philippines! A veritable squadron of visitors from Germany!

People in Egypt are reading about me cooking a big pot of beans for the first time in two years!

Somebody in Taiwan knows about Bristol tearing up my wife’s barley-hull pillow!

My accounts of my pointless goings-on are boring somebody in Italy! And the Czech Republic! Brasil! Israel! Thailand!

There’s somebody checking me out in The Netherlands! (That’s The Presurfer, of course, which doesn’t make it any less amazing.)

Of course, the bulk of my readers are right here in the good old You Ess of Ay: Several wise-guy types in New Jersey and Jamaica, New York, have checked in today, as well as a half dozen or so people in Florida.

And I can’t figure out who is out there in Gouldbusk, Texas, apparently getting here from typing in the URL, and not from a link or search engine. The town is close to where my old college friend Terry lives now, and I think it’s also not far from where The Spook currently resides. (It might also be close to where Mollie is …)

And for that matter: If you’re the person out there in Louth, Ireland, who visits here fairly regularly without hitting a link somehow — leave a comment and let me know how you got here, how you found out about me. If you’re shy, just send me an email at brykmantra[at]gmail.com.

And for that matter, whoever is out there reading this, leave a comments!

This post wouldn’t be complete without some boring nonsense about my personal life, so here goes:

Today I raked about half the leaves in our back yard; I quit there because I had completely filled up our entire trash tote, as well as a 30-gallon paper leaf bag. Plus, if i overdo the squatting and lifting, I can really overdo those thigh muscles.

We finally got around to watching Casino Royale tonight. Daniel Craig takes some getting used to — he looks like some scruffy version of Kevin Costner that a cat dug up in the back yard — but I like the new Bond character better than all the old ones. This one has to actually work for his pay, and he gets pretty roughed up. This version of Bond is much grittier and down to earth; it just might work out pretty well.

We also watched lots of movies over the Christmas weekend: Die Hard 4 (eh — same old stuff), The Bourne Ultimatum (superhuman guy is three steps ahead of the entire U.S. intelligence community, with lots of formulaic foot- and car-chases in stock urban and exotic locales; this is the epitome of a color-by-numbers movie) , Transformers and Superbad. Those last two were okay, but nothing special.

Oh, and we also watched Ratatouille, which is excellent and hilarious, and which is serious about being about food. We definitely recommend it.

Okay, that’s all for now. Thanks for checking in on my Blogiversary, and please keep checking back.

Fake Drink Movie Promo

Friday, December 28th, 2007

I’ve been seeing these odd Japanese commercials for what is apparently a drink called Slusho, and looked up the site because the ads mention a video contest. Here’s the ad, including at least one idea lifted from the Invader Zim cartoons:

And now it turns out that it’s not a real drink (not yet, anyway), and the ad appears in J.J. Abrams’ new monster movie Cloverfield (I mentioned it several months ago, remember?), and it’s appearing on TV as viral marketing for the movie: you look up the site, and eventually follow enough clues and are reminded of the movie.

But people are still submitting contest entries, like this:

Obligatory Bristol Pic

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

Which would you rather have, another blowhard post by me, or pictures of the cutest puppy on the planet?

Good choice! Click here, and be sure to check out the largest versions of each.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

Hope you’re having a great one!

Elves Have (Not) Left the Building

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

This time of year all you hear about is Santa, Santa, Santa — no love for the elves!

Well, almost none: NPR this afternoon did a report on something I had heard before: Most Icelanders believe in elves, so much so “that Icelanders halt construction projects or divert roads to avoid disturbing the mythical folk.”

They even have a national Elf School.

That’s what happens when your national liquor is given the nickname “The Black Death”.

Moving a bit further south: Did you know: In Dutch tradition, Santa doesn’t have the help of elves, he relies on the assistance of Black Pete.

You’re welcome.

But enough of this educational junk:

Check this out: Full Metal Elves. (Don’t let the scene from “Rudolph” fool you; there’s some rough language, some don’t play this with the kiddies around.)

Next: Skydiving elves!

And finally: Christmas Bohemian Rhapsody:

Winter & Christmas

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

Tomorrow (Saturday) is the Solstice, aka The First Day of Winter, aka The Shortest Day of the Year (in the Northern Hemisphere), anyway. Our Nordic friend Renny, who is particularly affected by the long nights where he lives (Oslo), has documented the short day with pictures.

I was just thinking last night how much I love winter … but it’s really more about how I love winter in Dallas — more to the point, how much nicer Dallas Winter is than Dallas Summer.

I used to love summer when I lived in Lubbock (low humidity, less misery) and hated winter (colder than here, snowier, and with frequent dust storms).

Funny how I how much my seasonal opinion has changed since then — but of course that’s easy when daytime temperatures have gotten up past 70F this week. I’ve been able to comfortably go on my 30-minute walks for three days in a row.

That all changes tomorrow, when, just in time, the weather will be celebrating winter with a high around 50F and freezing temperatures at night.

I feel like such a slug; here I am unemployed, and yet I sent out three Christmas cards just today (yours is on the way, Yay Kim!). In my defense, under the circumstances we’re only sending cards to those who sent to us (and not even all of those), and we had only received one of those incoming cards yesterday (from my former supervisor of 12 years). But for the cards I’m sending Curtis (former co-worker and office mate who jumped ship last month) and Kim, my only excuse is: Hey, I’m job-hunting! (BTW Kim, you get a bonus photo of The Brat!)

And finally: The legendary David Bowie/Bing Crosby Christmas special duet from 1976:

Three More Things

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

I’ve been meaning to mention this for a week or more (assuming that I didn’t already mention it, and just forgot about it: DJ Rike has finall release the 2007 edition of his annual Merry Mixmas mashups, and you can download it (and all previous years, back to ’02) here.

Songs on this year’s edition include a Christmas song to the tune of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”, “Silent Night” sung in the style of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, and a (spoken word) song by the old cast of Bonanza, including Dan Blocker.

It doesn’t get any more Christmassy than that.

On a completely different note: The new Hellboy movie looks great. It looks like they actually give Selma Blair more to do this time, actually using her powers to make a difference, plus they seem to be playing up the sper team angle a bit more — although I don’t recognize the fourth member of the team (on the far left of the group shot). Anyway, here’s the trailer, so enjoy!

There’s a project I’ve been mulling over since July of last year, and my wife asks me occasionally how it’s coming along, or if I’ve done anything with it, and I keep saying that I’m working on it, or I’ve had more ideas.

But then, late last night, I finally decided to do something about it: I researched some possible variations on the title, registered new accounts at a couple of key places, typed up a few paragraphs, made some design modifications to a template, and voila, I released it into the Wild that is the Internets.

By this point you may be wondering exactly what it is, but I’m not announcing it just yet, at least not here. I want it to be totally separate from everything else I’m doing, at least as far as the public is concerned.

That doesn’t mean that I’m keeping it that secret; just send me an email and I’ll probably tell you. And in case you don’t have my email address, use brykmantra[at]gmail.com (and, of course, replace the [at] with @, duh).

But suffice it to say that the new thing is a return to my roots, my basic underlying skills and knowledge bases, in more ways that one, and that getting it completely off the ground is going to take some daily effort for at least a couple of weeks.

So bear with me if my posting here appears to become lazy (“Watch this video! Bye!”). Remember, it’s for the greater good.

And my roots.

Three Short Rants, Pre-Christmas Style

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Just a few things that I hope I can keep quick:

TIME Magazine reveals their Person of the Year tomorrow, and I get the sick feeling that it’s going to be Al Gore. Why do I think this? Because he has just had all the Nobel publicity on him, on top of all the other Me-Too awards this year, and TIME is such a shameless bandwagon jumper, just as all the Old Media dinosaurs are these days.

PLUS it’s a liberal cause, PLUS it’s an election year and what a better note for them to start the year on.

I won’t start on the Gore and the Global Warming thing here — except to say that I do believe that we need to drastically reduce our emissions (and also our fuel consumption, and thus our national SUV addiction), and that, contrary to Gore’s policy, so-called developing nations like China and India need to make sacrifices right along with us, since they pollute more.

But I think that was isn’t realized internationally is that Gore is actually hurting his cause in the U.S. more than he’s helping it, because a lot of us here realize that Global Warming is his Golden Meal Ticket, and that he conveniently disregards any data that doesn’t support what he wants to preach.

See, you got me started. I’ll rant more at a later date, but for now … You just watch, those idiots will pin him for this prize too.

Okay, I already ranted, so I won’t go on about how much I HATE HATE HATE Windows Vista.

Suffice it to say that I’m glad we’ve only got it installed on our laptop PC.

We’ve been watching Clash of the Choirs on NBC this week, and it’s pretty good. My wife is a huge Patti LaBelle fan, plus she loves being in the choir, so of course she wouldn’t miss something like this. And apparently, unless there’s a sequel (always a possibility), I think the whole thing will be over by week’s end. Tonight was the second night, so if you’re going to watch, better start tomorrow.

It’s pretty interesting, but I wish Michael Bolton’s group had been the first kicked off tonight — and no, not because of all the crappy music he’s brought us over the years, and not because of the people in the choir.

I just felt — and my wife agreed — that he did the worst job with his choir, trying to form it in his own image as a solo singer: He had one singer (male, of course) sing most of the song, with the rest of his choir as his backup … singing only the melody, and very little harmony!

That’s right: Just like his act, but worse.

Okay, I’ll stop ranting now.

Movie Followup

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

To follow up on what I posted yesterday:

We did actually get to see I Am Legend, and it was pretty good (albeit dark, depressing, sad, and with lots of loud, jarring surprises). Will Smith is an excellent actor, which is a good thing since he’s the only person on-screen for the majority of the film

This best part is that not only did we see an opening-weekend movie (something we rarely do even when both of us are working), we also ate lunch at On the Border, and, because of our rain-check passes and thanks to a gift certificate from Dr. Mary the World’s Greatest Dentist (I’ve mentioned her before, think back), we ended up spending a grand total of four dollars.

Was that sentence too long? Yeah, I thought so.

Blogger’s prerogative. Get over it.

Anyway, check out the cool embeddable Daylight Meter from the movie’s site. Type in your own zip code and customize it for your location!