Archive for the 'Texas' Category

Various things

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

No one thing worth posting, so here’s a bunch:

Thanks everybody who welcomed me back in my comments! I’ll really try to post more.

It’s June in Dallas, so of course it’s HOT AS HELL, plus it’s miserably humid.

Just worked six days in a row, finally get one day off tomorrow.

Last night I rented “He’s Just Not That Into You” for The Wife to watch while I was at work today, but I didn’t watch it.

I repeat, I DID NOT WATCH IT.

If you want to see more of my posts, friend me on Facebook, because I got my screen name now: facebook.com/brykmantra , of course.

And the only reason I’m active at all on Facebook and Twitter is because I got a widget to make my Twitter posts show up on Facebook. Two birds, one stone, no waiting.

But as it turns out, thanks to Facebook I’m in touch with old high school friends and acquaintances, most of them for the first time in MANY MANY years.

But not many relatives, for some reason, just my cousin’s daughter Sherilynn.

That reminds me, my wife said that my cousin (Sherilynn’s aunt) left me a message today, something about a bunch of other cousins getting together in the Dallas area. I guess I need to listen to the message …

Speaking of cousins, our old blogging pal Gigglechick has been having some intense cousin problems

Anyway, here’s a cool video I discovered during the winter when my blog was busted. Put on your headphones, turn off the lights, and enjoy!

Up There on the Silver Screen (Maybe)

Monday, May 18th, 2009

I just found this out last week: You might catch a glimpse of me in a new movie that’s coming out soon.

Maybe.

You may remember that almost a year ago, I wrote about being in the audience for what was supposedly the pilot episode of a talk show — but it was obvious to me and others there that it was all a big setup for some kind of joke.

At the time I wrote that I suspected that the actor playing the gay Austrian model (who was trying to adopt a black American baby) might have been Jamie Kennedy or Mike McDonald (from MadTV).

It turns out I was aiming too low.

I’m learning now that I was actually seeing Sacha Baron Cohen, best known for his characters of Borat and Ali G.

The sad part is that I had known since the Borat movie came out that Cohen’s next movie project was going to be about a gay Austrian model named Bruno.

But during the taping I just failed to put make the connection — I think that I blocked out the possibility that such a big movie project would actually travel to Dallas and intersect with my life.

But it did, and now there’s a small chance that my image (along with the images of 40 other people) might flicker across a movie screen near you.

I say a small chance because, as I mentioned last year, they weren’t happy with that taping session and did the whole thing again that night. And, judging by previews and advance screening reviews, the audience was “predominantly black”, and the audience I was in was only about 25% African American. (The producers were probably trying to evoke a stronger reaction, so in the second taping they most likely focused on the fact that the baby was black.)

Anyway, I actually hope I’m on the cutting room floor on this one, since I have the feeling that anyone in the audience at the time will be edited to look like a Maury Povich reject.

But I’m getting a kick out of the fact that I got to see Borat, almost up close, even if I didn’t find out for a full year.

A Death in the Class

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

I got some sad news yesterday: My mom’s next-door neighbor — a guy from my graduating class — was found dead in his house, apparently from a heart attack.

It was very sudden. He had had friends over earlier in the evening, and they had left thinking he was fine.

Just shows you can never tell.

This also marks the first death in our graduating class, which left high school 36 years ago this month. Other people in the class have passed on, but none of them actually *graduated* with us. Of course, there were only 44 people in our graduating class, but still, that’s a long time to have everybody still alive, especially since three of us have had cancer.

I was starting to think that OHS Class of ’73 was invincible, but apparently I was wrong.

Now I’m bummed.

3 Days, 3 Birthdays!

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Three of my friends (1 former co-worker, 2 Internet friends, all female) are having birthdays these next three days:

First of all, today is the birthday of Kim Novak of Yay! Kim Blog. Kim was one of my first blogging friends when I first started over 6 years ago, and about the only one from that era that I still keep up with. Bonus points: She’s a fellow Texan! Go wish Kim a great birthday, and listen to some of her great music while you’re there!

Tomorrow (the 29th) is the birthday of one of my newest friends, Debra from Atlanta. I met her in Second Life last summer (where she goes by the name of Stephi), and she’s one of my best friends in that virtual world. Bonus points: We were born just 3 weeks apart!

And finally, on Thursday it’s the birthday of Vickie, a longtime reader and commenter on this here blog, and former co-worker at Chucky’s Madhouse, where she still endures to this day. Bonus points: She’s a fellow Texan too!

Happy Birthday to all my friends!

We Interrupt These Updates for a BIRTHDAY

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

Yes, if you’ve been keeping up with my blog in past years, you know this is about the time that I wish my ol’ college buddy The Spook a happy birthday! Since last year, he had a song written about him by country singer Jake Kellen … I’ll see if I can get permission to play it here …

In the meantime, if this is the first you’re hearing of the Spook, go back in my April archives of previous years and read up!

Ha ha!!! I’m BACK, baby!!!

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Wow, after more than six months, I FINALLY got my blog editing interface fixed!

I’ve got a lot of things to catch y’all up on …

Well, no, just 3 or 4, actually … I lead a dull life …

But those things will wait for another post; in the meantime, Texas is on fire and we’re breathing smoke.

Ike-Carumba!

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

Here in the Dallas area, we can get pretty smug about our distance from any coastline, and thus the low likelihood of being threatened by hurricanes …

That is, until one is predicted to come barreling up the middle of Texas right toward us with just a little loss of power, still having tropical storm strength as it reaches Oklahoma.

At least, that’s what was supposed to happen. Then they began predicting that Hurricane Ike would make a sharp right turn just north of Houston and give us only 50 MPH winds and 100% chance of rain, measuring from two to four inches.

Now, at about 2 PM on Saturday, it’s scaled back to an 80% chance of rain for the whole Dallas area, with only an inch or two of precip and 30 MPH winds.

And for my little burb (about 35 miles NNW of downtown Large D), it looks like we’re going to get Mr. Jack Squat.

All that water to go around, and none for us?

That could change, of course, but for now I’ll set my attitude meter at Smug with a side of Envy.

UPDATE: It’s now 10:30, and we probably got a little over an inch of rain, and little wind, so I’m happy

But we took all the herb pots off the patio for nothing …

First Post of the Summer

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

It’s the first week of summer, and the brutal Texas heat is upon us. It is time, therefore, to blow the dust of the old Blazing Sun mini-icon and give it its inaugural showing for the year.

And now, some miscellaneous stuff, and let’s try to make this fast:

Thanks to our blogging friend Renny (whose weather is not near as hot as ours, being in Oslo) for being the only one to comment while I didn’t post for a bit. I appreciate it, Renny!

Renny recently posted photos of a Seafood Fair in his city, so go check it out!

Speaking of my blogging friends, Kim likes to take tours of state capitals and collect souvenirs, and thus one day last week or so we got a postcard from her from Little Rock. Thanks Kim! I’ll scan it in and post it when I get a chance.

She’s got one picture from her trip posted on her site now, but we’re looking forward to seeing more. (Hint, hint!)

Speaking of collectible snail-mail, my mom sent me a letter for the sole purpose of getting it postmarked with our town’s 100th Anniversary postmark, which I think was a one-day thing, and because which the town leaders the town’s leaders and movers-and-shakers (not necessarily the same thing) were tring to get eerybody to mail a letter to family out of town that day.

That too will be scanned in when time is found …

Speaking of noteworthy goings-on back home, I’ve mentioned in times past that ol’ college buddy The Spook was instrumental in helping make the first CD for country singer Jake Kellen a reality. This year, Jake (whose mom and aunt and uncles I went to went to school with, BTW) wrote and recorded a song for Spook for his birthday, and I was lucky enough to get an advance demo copy of the song, which is pretty funny, especially if you know the Spook.

Spook was going to call me to detail exactly how I would be allowed to distribute the song, but I haven’t gotten that call as of yet, so you Dear Reader are out of luck for now, but keep checking back.

Speaking of friends, another friend (and former co-worker) Todn8r has taken me to task for not commenting on the passing of comedian George Carlin.

Yes, yes, in due time; it’s just that Carlin fits nicely into a theme post I’m doing, so that is yet to come as well.

Speaking of former co-workers, my good friend Misty called on Friday to say that she had bid a fond adieu to Chucky’s Madhouse (my term of affection for what our old company has become), and she even found a job first so that she could leave on her own terms.

I’m so proud!

Speaking of jobs: I had a job interview last week! Woo-hoo! And this was for a job as the tech support guy for a mortgage insurance office. I don’t know if I’ll get it, since I didn’t immediately know some of the more esoteric network admin terms on the skills assessment test, but I have to say that the person who interviewed me was the most un-Catbert-like HR person I”ve ever met — and that’s a GOOD thing.

And now for something completely different: Waterloo TV.

Adventures in Television

Friday, May 30th, 2008

I had a little adventure on Wednesday … a weird adventure, but it was interesting.

In addition to my job hunting efforts on the regular sites, my wife combs CraigsList for job listings. One day last week she found something that wasn’t a job exactly (though it did offer $20), but rather a chance to be in the audience of a pilot episode of a local talk show. I thought, Hey, I’d like to see how those are made, plus it’s 20 bucks, so I applied and got accepted.

Here are the high points:

1. They made us leave our cell phones and cameras in our cars! It’s Communism! I took my phone back, but kept my camera.

2. While we waited in the atrium of the building (with access to cold water and a wide variety of snack treats), I looked around at the facilities as best as I could. Apparently the place where the show taped produces a whole line of training and educational videos, specializing in the areas of security and first response. Near the entrance was a big, circular war-room type area, with lots of ceiling mounted monitors in a circle in the center, surrounded by curved desks for computer workers, and open to the waiting area via a glass wall. Also off the atrium was a small CNN type newsroom, also with the requisite wall of newsroom monitors in the background (one of the stories they were tracking apparently involved The Price Is Right) and the word NEWS in the mandatory Times Roman font repeated on the wall over the TV screens.

There were also some editing booths lining the atrium and visible via windows, one of which was in use, and a young woman was apparently trying to overlay the audio of a woman being interviewed (her video was on the right screen) with footage of an SUV pictured on the left screen.

Needless to say, I was in video-hobbyist heaven.

3, There were some delays, apparently due to not having enough audience members show up, so we were soon shuttled off to Audience Holding Pen #2, which seemed to be some kind of classroom area and which also doubled as the Toastmaster meeting room.

(Hey, I went to a Toastmasters meeting one time, and boy was I disappointed — not one damn piece of toast in the whole place!)

(Sorry, comedian’s reflex.)

ANYWAY: Got to talking to one guy named Dan — Hi, Dan, in case you’re reading this! (I gave him my blog card, of course) — and we got into a discussion of the future of free vs. premium content.

(My argument for free content is that in this Age of Bits, as opposed to the old Age of Atoms, value is determined not by scarcity but by abundance. This was outlined, of course, by Kevin Kelly in his seminal Wired article 10 years ago, and we’re still seeing that principle, The Law of Plentitude, unfold.)

And again we had water and snacks, with the addition this time of bananas.

(PS: Dan didn’t laugh at my Toastmasters joke either, just like you didn’t laugh at it.

4. Finally we were herded like the cattle we are into the taping studio — except that cattle aren’t scanned with metal detectors on the way into the corral.

That’s right, the bastards found my camera, and I had to take it back to the car.

We ended up sitting in the studio for about an hour before anything happened, and even then it was just warmup — but still, it was interesting. It started with local comic Craig Frasier (who I think worked with us in Comics On Tap about 10 years ago), getting the audience loose and laughing, and then the director came out to get sound levels, and a few fake reaction shots.

That was probably the wildest part: The got shots of the audience faking reactions. They had us laugh, and boo, and shake our heads in disgust — keep that in mind when you watch one of those talk shows.

5. Anyway, let’s cut to the chase:

They told us it would be a talk show on the order of Jerry Springer or Maury Povich, but, long story short, it turned out to be more like The Jamie Kennedy Experiment (or Punk’d, or Candid Camera) — in other words, an outlandish situation was put on and our reactions were caught on camera.

Except that several of us figured out that something wasn’t quite right early on: The set that was too small, the first guest who was barely controversial at all, the fact that the lines of the second guest (the setup, the actor posing as the outrageous individual) were on the teleprompter, the fact that the actor’s fake foreign accent was far from convincing …

In fact, when he first came out, he looked to me exactly like Michael McDonald — no, not the mush-mouthed lead “singer” that killed the Doobie Brothers, but rather the MadTV actor. He looked just like McDonald’s character of Stewart, the creepie overgrown child.

In fact, here’s some video of Stewart in actin, in case you’re unfamiliar:

ANYWAY: I don’t think it was actually Michael McDonald that I saw, because I think this guy was too young. I also think he wasn’t ugly enough to be Jamie Kennedy (hey, I’m just saying), although the nose was almost big enough.

But it was certainly the kind of thing Kennedy used to do on his show, and all his lines had over-the-top comedy writing all over them.

So it absolutely was not the real thing, but some of the other folks in the audience didn’t seem to catch on.

The only thing is, they didn’t even tell us, “You’ve been X’ed!” or “You’ve Been Punk’d!” or anything else to that effect. That’s probably because they had to retape that night, and wanted all different audience members (they sent me another email, saying that people who weren’t at the first one were desperately needed for the night taping). Maybe too many of us caught on, or maybe they weren’t satisfied with the actor’s lack of convincingness, or maybe they wanted a version without the audience fanning themselves because it was so miserably hot in the studio.

But anyway, it was a great experience, and I made some new contacts I can use with my job search.

Plus I got 20 bucks.

“Down-Town, Everything’s Waiting for You … “

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Big old building!There once was a time — it seems a million years ago — I was having to drive in downtown Dallas all the time, finding this office or that, navigating the maze of busy, narrow one-way streets and somehow getting where I needed to be. Visiting friends and relatives would marvel at my calm ability to pilot a car through the urban labyrinth while at the same time avoiding the violent death of everyone in the car.

But, as I said, that was another lifetime, and since then I have enjoyed a peaceful, sheltered existence in the far suburbs. The hazards of the asphalt gauntlet have become but a distant, hazy dream — until today.

Today I found it necessary to brave the city’s gaping maw once more, as I was tasked with one of the seven Holy Quests: Interview for the Job.

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But seriously: Recently a corporate H.R. specialist that we know, the daughter of my wife’s co-worker, was giving me some pointers on how to polish my resume in order to better get a job, or at least an interview.

Her chief recommendation: Make no mention, ever, that I have a blog. If the word “blog” comes up in conversation, I’m supposed to say, “What’s a blog?”

She said something along the lines that not only have blogs never helped anyone get a job, but that merely bringing up the subject of blogs would cause most Human Resources people to accuse me of being a witch or some other kind of creature with unsavory ties to the supernatural.

Okay, maybe that’s not quite what she said, but that’s how I remember it.

I usually try to downplay my blogging on my resume anyway, unless communications skills are somehow part of the job requirement, but either way it hasn’t seemed to help.

The reason I bring this up is because my interview today was for a job in which not only did I not have to hide my five-year track record of blogging, but it was actually an integral part of why they wanted me!

Even more interesting is the fact that the interview was not for a blogging or writing job, but for a corporate job in which social networking played an integral part.

Suddenly all these years of rattling on about trivial stuff, of posting pictures of mundane things, of posting on forums about Lost and Survivor and Elder Scrolls, of playing a wood elf druid, and, more recently, churning out quirky videos and music and dog pictures, have finally reached a critical mass and are considered to be a web presence.

‘Bout freaking time.

As for the interview itself, it was exhilarating to be, for once, elaborating on my blogging techniques and on web theory as it applies to social networks. This was the first time ever in my life that a boss or potential boss was listening to what I knew on the subject and actually understood the words coming out of my mouth.

I’m not sure a work authority figure has ever actually achieved the listening part of that equation with me before, much less tried for understanding.

Whether I actually impressed the interviewer to a sufficient degree is still to be seen, but I’m just thrilled that we were able to have that particular conversation without him looking at me like I just flew in from Mars and said, “Must kill all humans!”

Sometimes the little victories are the sweetest.