Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Busy Today, Have Some Music

I'm trying to finish up my last article *sniff* a little early so there aren't any issues with it later, and I just can't think of anything I want to blog about today, so have some music.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Going Geek

I picked this meme up from Konstantin's blog. It's very simple to play along, just copy the list and make the stuff you've done bold.

  • You spent a day watching all of the Lord of the Rings/Star Wars/Star Trek movies.

  • You spent next two days after watching commentary, outtakes, and behind the scenes footage.

  • And you bought the soundtrack.

  • You went to a midnight release of a movie.

  • You camped in front of the theater for more than 12 hours to get tickets.

  • Camping did not prevent you from being in costume.

  • You can have an entire conversation with friends consisting of quotes from your favorite movies.

  • You own at least three game systems.
  • -Wii, Xbox, DS, SNES/NES
  • You have lost weight because you forgot to eat while trying to reach the next level in your game.
  • -Is that the secret?
  • You own more than four game controllers (of any kind).

  • You have existed on three hours of sleep per night so that your "Sims" get eight hours and are refreshed for work.

  • You upgraded your computer because you wanted to buy a new video game/expansion pack.

  • You have dressed as your game avatar, or as a npc in that game.

  • You achieved level 60 on World of Warcraft.

  • You have played Dungeons and Dragons or any other RPG.

  • You know what "RPG" stands for.

  • You dressed as your RPG character would dress.

  • You own dice with more than six sides.
  • -At least 6 sets, but it's probably closer to 9 or 10 sets.
  • You have been accused of having a "gamer" scent.

  • You can identify a Black Lotus.

  • You can identify a Charizard.

  • You have bought any of the Harry Potter books after standing in line until midnight.

  • You waited to get your Harry Potter book in costume, quoting favorite lines.

  • You have attended any function with "con" in the name.
  • -And going to at least one this summer.
  • You stood in line at said con for more than four hours to have an item signed.

  • You spent more than $50 on a costume to wear to a con because you wanted it to be authentic.

  • You own more than 50 comics.

  • You collect your comics in longboxes.

  • You know what a "longbox" is.

  • You've met and had your comics signed by the creator(s).

  • You know how many Robins there are.

  • You know that the portrayal of Rogue in the movie X-Men is completely wrong.

  • You have chatted online more than in person.

  • You chatted online enough to learn the time zones.

  • You think that when the Mythbusters say "Don't try this at home," they really don't mean you.

  • You have participated in a movie/tv marathon that involved a drinking game.

  • You can sing along with the Buffy musical episode.

  • You know Seth Green from more than just the Austin Powers movies.

  • You can name all eight Kevin Smith-directed movies without referring to IMdb.

  • You have participated in a Clerks-esque discussion about Star Wars (or any other movie).

  • You have participated in a Kirk vs. Picard discussion.

  • You have participated in a Star Wars vs. Star Trek discussion.

  • You have participated in a Babylon 5 vs. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine discussion.

  • You know who "jms" is.

  • You have ever corrected anyone who called you a Trekkie.

  • You have worn a Star Fleet uniform.

  • You own a Star Fleet uniform.

  • You think Twilight is lame because everyone knows that vampires burst into flame in the sunlight.

  • You have written fanfic.

  • You have watched Bizzare Foods and thought "I'd try that."

  • You can pinpoint the moment at which Lost jumped the shark.

  • You know who Stan Lee is.

  • You know who Jack Kirby is.

  • You know who Geoff Johns is.

  • You have built a website.

  • You have started a blog.

  • You maintained a blog for over a year.

  • You know what the Genie SFRT is.

  • You have a Twitter account.

  • You have over 500 followers on Twitter.

  • You purchased a smartphone just so you could check Twitter on the road.

  • You forget your family members' birthdays because they aren't your friends on Facebook.

  • You have given virtual gifts on Facebook.

  • You have gotten a date through Facebook (and we're not talking dinner and movie with your buddies).

  • You have broken up with someone/been broken up with through Facebook.

  • You've reached level 30 or higher in Mafia Wars.

  • You know what Mafia Wars is.

  • You participated in more than three social networks.

  • You've spent more than 200 hours playing the same video game.

  • You've seen any movie in the theater more than three times.

  • You can name the episode of MST3K where Joel was replaced by Mike.

  • You've argued why the comic is way superior to the show/movie when discussing The Tick, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, etc.
  • -Original TMNT kicked ass!
  • You have the soundtrack for Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog on your MP3 player.

  • You are willing to defend the Star Wars prequels.

  • You openly disparage the Star Wars prequels because they don't live up to Empire.

  • You're openly concerned about the timeline ramifications that J.J. Abram's Star Trek movie presents to the canon.

  • You own anything written by Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, or H.P. Lovecraft.

  • You have a flying spaghetti monster on your car.

  • You've seen a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show with live actors in front of the screen.

  • You know the REAL reason Spider-Man had a black costume.

  • You know the NCC numbers of at least two starships other than the Enterprise.

  • You know what "NCC" stands for.

  • You own an original Star Trek Concordance, Technical Manual, and Blueprints.
  • -I have Star Wars blueprints, but I guess that doesn't count.
  • You own at least two medieval weapons.

  • You have participated in battles with foam-covered swords.

  • You know who "Major Matt Mason" is.

  • You have seen bootleg copies of the original Fantastic Four and Justice League movies.
  • -hours of my life I can't get back.
  • After having had children you realize there's now more people to costume and relish it.

  • You've managed to turn four days at Euroquest* into nearly eight because, who needs sleep?

  • You've spent more than $1000 on your "spot-on" costume (and it's still not quite right...).

  • You've made a fan film.

  • Your fan film has been seen by more than your immediate family.

  • People know you by your online name instead of your mundane name

  • You know what Pennsic is.

  • You've camped at Pennsic.

  • You have/had personalized plates on your car proudly proclaiming your fandom.

  • Your spouse and/or friends do as well.

  • You yell at your kids when they try to open a toy/book/comic/figure/etc. that you're collecting.

  • Your kids have broken your Hallmark collectible Star Trek/Star Wars, etc., ornament.

  • You've traveled more than 500 miles to attend a con.

  • You have a tattoo related to your fandom of choice.

  • You met your spouse at a fan-related event or con.

  • You got engaged (to be married!) at a sci-fi convention.

  • You are publicly willing to defend Dollhouse, because Joss Whedon must be trusted.

  • Ah, pretty geeky. But there's no big surprise there.

    Friday, March 27, 2009

    So Much To Do, So Little Time

    To be done this weekend:

    -Finish laying down floor in dining room
    -Re-install 1/4 round in dining room
    -Clean house before my mother comes over Sunday
    -Clean up the play area in the basement

    To get in the way of that, there's watching a two-year old, working an 8-hour shift tomorrow, lunch with friends on Sunday, and any other little thing that might pop up.

    Thursday, March 26, 2009


    Big things going on here at TTBC. I think most of my regular readers will know what I’m talking about, but for the rest of you here’s the scoop. Last week I talked about waiting, and now the wait is over.

    First off. My lovely wife is pregnant again! She’s due on September 30, give or take, and while we had a couple scares early on, everything appears to be ok. The last doctor visit showed everything to be on track and there was no cause for concern with the initial screenings. For purely nerdy reasons, I’m hoping the baby’s born on September 28, because then we’d have a birthday exactly every two weeks for a month and a half. It really doesn’t matter to me when the baby’s born as long as it’s healthy, but I think we’d have a good rhythm established if it turned out that way.

    Secondly, I got a new job! This is such a relief to Brandi and myself. I’ll be working full-time at the library now, and while I’m supposed to work 40 hours a week, I was warned that for managers it’s more like 50, which is still 10 less than I’m working now. The call came yesterday after I’d gotten home, and I told my boss this morning. She didn’t want to see me go, but took the news well and wished me luck. I’ve still got a couple weeks to finish up here, finish my assignments and tie up loose ends, but I’m looking forward to the new opportunity.

    I hope everything’s going well for all of you.

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    The Secrets of Getting Published with Marcus Sakey

    Last Wednesday I went to "The Secrets of Getting Published" Seminar with Marcus Sakey at the Des Plaines Public Library, and because I'm a lazy blogger, I'm just getting around to writing about it now.

    For those of you who don't know, Sakey is a Chicago-based crime/suspense novelist who has four novels out now with another one on the way this year. I read his second book, At the City's Edge, after seeing it on one of John Scalzi's Big Idea pieces. I really enjoyed the book.

    So, Sakey came to tell us all about the process of getting published. He outlined the process which, according to him, goes like this:

    1. Write the book
    2. After the book is finished, put it aside and give it time to let it cool.
    3. Give it to friends and family to read, at least 5
    4. Read it through yourself, all in one sitting if possible
    5. Mark it up A LOT
    6. Remember it's not going to be perfect
    7. There should be tension and conflict on every page
    8. Get an agent
    9. Agents get 5-50 quesry letters a day, so make sure there's no reason to disqualify you
    10. While you're waiting for agents to respond, get going on the next book.

    Aside from that, he said the most important rule for beginning rules is "Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard." The process of writing must be treated as a job. He recommended 1,000 words per day, five days a week, which unfortunately, I haven't been able to do lately. He said one way to get an agent is to look at the acknowledgements of the books of the authors you like to build up a list of agents to send to. He also equated self-publishing to the kiss of death.

    Then he opened it up to Q&A for about an hour. I took a recording of the event, but haven't checked to see how well it came out yet. Maybe I'll transcribe it (don't hold your breath). One of the most interesting things that night, aside from the talk, was that about half the room appeared to be made up of retirees. One gentleman, 75, sitting in front of me had spent five years writing a young adult novel, and was going to have it self-published because he was "too old to wait around for the whole publishing process." Another gentleman, who looked even older, said he has a 360,000-word autobiography of his time in WWII. When the guy said 360,000 words, Sakey's jaw just about hit the floor. You're average novel, you see, is about 85,000 to 100,000 words.

    I'm glad I went, and afterward, Sakey signed the copy of his book I brought with me and gave me some encouraging words. Aside from what I've shared here, he also has some documents for writers on his website that are worth checking out.

    Monday, March 23, 2009

    Busy Weekend

    Last weekend was a busy one, and I feel like I need a weekend to recover from the weekend. Home improvement will wear a guy out I guess. I spent Friday walking a local trade show. There was a Mary Kay convention/recruitment drive going on next door (no, I didn't sign up) and there were at least four light pink Cadillacs in the parking lot when I left.

    Friday night was spent painting the ceiling in the dining room. It wasn't a terribly difficult task. I put up one and a half coats of paint and now the ceiling looks a lot better. It took a little getting used to the edge tool, so there'll be a little touching up at the top of the wall, but we had to touch up toddler marks anyway.

    Saturday and Sunday I had to work all day and when I wasn't doing that I was installing our new faux-hardwood laminate in the dining room. I started the project Saturday night later than I wanted to because of all the prep-work that had to be done. There was a bit of a learning curve on Saturday night, mostly because I didn't take the time to think things through as far as where I cut the laminate. I was using a miter saw, but that was pretty noisy and it was chipping the boards, so I switched to a hand saw after a few cuts. Our awesome neighbor lent me his shop light after he saw that I was using the single bulb and the headlights on my wife's car to see what I was cutting in the garage.

    Sunday's installation went a lot smoother, but since I had to work, I didn't quite finish. Three quarters of the room is done, with the most difficult part yet to be done. There's a corner cabinet that I'll have to cut around that I'm not looking forward to. Good thing I bought an extra box of flooring. Brandi took some pictures of the work in progress, which I don't have at the moment, but I'll get them up some time this week.

    Friday, March 20, 2009

    A Moment of Silence

    Yesterday, one of my fellow UCFers suffered a horrible personal tragedy. In respect for her loss, member blogs are off today. Our thoughts and prayers are with her.

    Normal blogging activity will resume tomorrow.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    Anticipation Is Driving Me Mad

    Waiting can really suck some times. And when you've got more than one important thing your waiting on, that can doubly suck. And right now it feels like I'm waiting on a whole bushel of stuff.

    One thing I'll find out about for sure tomorrow. The other thing, will work itself out soon, maybe even this afternoon. Until I know more, though, that's about all I can say here.

    In other news, tonight I'm going to a Secrets of Getting Published author event at the library in town. It will be conducted by Marcus Sakey, a Chicago author who's written three books, one of which I read. Hopefully it'll be interesting and informative. Not sure if I want to bring my tape recorder or just a notebook.

    Friday, March 13, 2009

    Support Your Local Indie Bookstore and Win Stuff!

    Novelist Joe Hill, author of the very creepy Heart Shaped Box and son of Stephen King, is running a contest for March-is-love-your-Indie-Bookstore month. Basically, if you go to your local indie bookstore in March, spend more than $0.99, and email him (indie@joehillfiction.com) a copy/scan of your receipt, you'll be entered into a contest to win a signed slipcased copy of GUNPOWDER, his new novel.

    But wait, there's more. Subterranean Press has decided to add a whole slew of limited editions (10) to sweeten the deal. And then Joe Hill added a limited 1st edition copy of Heart Shaped Box to the contest, so there will be a total of 12 winners. So everyone run out to your local indie bookstore and buy some books!

    More info on the contest can be found here and here.

    Pointless/Random Question of the Day

    I was brought up to hold the door for people. It's something that I do, sometimes to the annoyance of the people I'm with if I get to the point when I'm holding the door for a line of strangers. Yesterday, some of us from the office went to have lunch with a former coworker, and the restaurant (Portillo's) had a revolving door. And so I thought:

    How would you hold a revolving door for someone?

    Would you let someone into one of the chambers and then give it a shove? Or do you stay in one chamber, reducing the efficiency of the door by 1/4, and push the door around for everyone?

    As an aside, if you're in the Chicago burbs, Portillo's is a must.

    Thursday, March 12, 2009

    Home Improvement

    No, this isn't going to be some kind of commentary on Tim Allen or that nauseatingly cheesy sitcom. As things start to warm up and we have some money to dedicate to home improvement we're getting into that mode.

    We purchased Logan's big boy bed, and once we get a matress, I'll be putting that together and we'll be updating the decor of his room. This weekend I'll be painting the ceiling in the dining room (white) and then last night I picked up flooring at Menards to put in the dining room. This will cover up the ugly, ruined, ugly hard wood floors that we have in the dining room now. I'll be putting down a Pergo-like laminate flooring, and hopefully I won't botch it up too much. I'll get some before and after shots of the project.

    Further on down the road there's landscaping we'd like to do, but more importantly, there are cracks in the foundation that need to be investigated and repaired. I'm sure my wife has a whole, groan-inducing list of stuff that she'd like to get done, but I don't know what alls on there at this point.

    Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    When Would You Go?

    I've been uninspired for blogging of late. There are a couple things I'd like to blog about, but at this point, I cannot find the words. So then I stumbled on this question on Konstantin's blog.

    "If you had a time machine where would you travel first? Assuming the fact of course of universal invincibility."

    He suggested such ponderables as going to see the Big Bang and see the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs. Then Ilya had something to say about the nature of time travel and using it for personal gain. Then Nathan picked it up and before you know it, you've got a meme going.

    So when would I go?

    Konstantin had said he might go see the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs, which sounds interesting, but I think I'd rather go see the dinosaurs in their prime. I'd also take a trip to Roswell, New Mexico to witness the infamous spacecraft crash. I'd also like to see a pyramid being built, or possibly the Sphinx. I would also like to see vikings. There are so many possiblities that I don't think I could name them all.

    Then there's the future. It would be interesting to see the future, but then it might be pretty freaky too. And how do I know that the future that I'm visiting is the actual future? Maybe it's an alternate future, or a future that only exists because I went there.

    One must be careful when traveling through time. The meathods can be dangerous.

    Ultimately, what better purpose for time travel is there than for the truly academic?

    So when would you go?

    Thursday, March 5, 2009

    Kitchen Experimentation, Office Lunch Edition

    I’ve been bringing a lot of oatmeal to work lately. We have plain Quaker Oats at home and I’ll add whatever (cinnamon, maple syrup, brown sugar, etc.) in the morning in a little Cheerios container and then add the hot water whenever I’m ready to have lunch at my desk.

    Well I’ve been getting sick of oatmeal with those ingredients, so I decided to try something a little different. Today, I put garlic and onion powder, a splash of teriyaki and a sprinkle of soy sauce in the oatmeal this morning on my way out the door. I’m eating it now and it’s…different.

    It’s not bad, but then it’s not all that great. The lack of sugar has changed the consistency of the oatmeal from what I’m used to, and the garlic and teriyaki are overpowering the other flavors. It reminds me, a little, of fried rice. Also, without the cinnamon or maple syrup, the oatmeal has a sickly pale color, so the presentation leaves something to be desired. I also tend to make my oatmeal pretty thick (the spoon can usually stand up in it) and this could use some more moisture. It definitely smells better than it tastes. Fresh garlic and onion would probably be better.

    It does open the door to other possibilities though. I have a jar of pizza seasoning at home and some Parmesan cheese, perhaps they could be used for an Italian lunch oatmeal. Even as I typed that it sounded kind of disgusting. But I’m curious enough that I might still try it.

    Any suggestions? Any oatmeal recipes y’all are fond of?

    Update: After finishing the oatmeal, I feel like I want to yak and my tongue feels like it's coated in garlic. Thankfully I also brought an apple with me and there are mints in my desk.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    The Problem with $*#%^@! LOST

    ABC’s LOST is an incredible show. It’s the only show that I make a point of catching every week. But then, if you’re a fan of the show and you want to know what’s going on, you’d have to watch it every week. If you’ve never heard of it before (have you been living under a rock?), it’s about a group of people that have survived a plane crash on an island somewhere in the Pacific. The island is strange and craziness ensues.

    If you’re into science fiction, good writing, drama, crazy shit happening all the time, twisty plot lines, and long, involved story lines, then you should check it out if you haven’t already. The show isn’t all gold though. There are filler episodes just like any other show, and there are many, many episodes that make you ask more questions than you get answers for.

    My main problem The issue that I have with the show is that it’s not realistic. I know, that sounds dumb that I would praise the show for how clever, interesting and absolutely messed up it is, and then say it’s not realistic. I’m not talking about the show’s story. What I’m talking about is the fact that no one on the island swears.

    And I know the reason why is obvious. It’s ABC prime time television and there are rules that keep shows from uttering such language. Still, it seems the show would be more realistic if we’d get an F-bomb, or other swear word, every now and then. For instance, when the plane went down in the first episode, it would be perfectly normal for someone on board to yell “Holy shit the plane’s goin’ down!” Or perhaps an exclamation of “Is that a fucking polar bear” would have been appropriate in season one. I don’t think we’ve even heard someone say something like “I hate this God damn island.”

    It’s completely normal for people in such circumstances to let loose a barrage of expletives to describe their situation. If LOST was a little freer with it’s language, though, it would probably be on HBO or something, in which case I wouldn’t get to watch it on Wednesdays and I’d have to wait for the DVD, which is a pain.

    Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    What’s the Deal, Pixar’s Cars?

    I’ve done this once before, and I’m starting to think that maybe I’m looking into these movies a bit too much.

    Lightning McQueen, the red-hot hot rod with a lot of talent and a lot to learn.

    If you haven’t seen it, the Pixar movie Cars is the story of a race car, Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), who is more than a little full of himself and has a lot to learn about racing. The overall theme would imply that no man is an island unto himself and with the help and support with others, anything can be achieved.

    At first I was skeptical of the movie, but then once I saw it, I found that it was a really enjoyable movie with genuine funny bits and sad bits and everything else that one would come to expect from a Pixar movie. One of the things that I really like about Pixar is that if the story isn’t there, they won’t make the movie.

    Anyway, all of that is well and good, but there are certain things that I noticed in teh movie that beg the question, What’s the deal?

    First off, there’s the matter of technology and how the cars interact with the world around them. The cars can only manipulate their world through their tires, antennae, and their tongues. Some more specialized vehicles, such as McQueen’s pit crew, have forklift-style “appendages” that allow them to manipulate some tools. With such a limited means of manipulating the world around them, how do the cars build the structures in which they live? How do they fix, let alone manufacture something like a radio? They can’t possibly use their tires to piece together a circuit board. Do they have special robots that are used to manufacture these items? If they do use robots, seeing as how the cars are machines, would the robots be some kind of slave? How would the cars make these robots or anything else in the first place? It doesn’t make any sense.

    The cars appear to have combustion engines, that take fuel, yet they give off no apparent exhaust (aside from the tractors in the “tractor tipping” scene, but I’ll get to the tractors in a minute). This is awfully convenient, seeing as how a world populated by machines would surely be a nightmare landscape, the by-product of so many greenhouse gasses.

    Some of that could be helped by the type of fuel. I would assume by the flashes of crops going by as McQueen makes his journey to California that the cars consume some form of ethanol. Otherwise, what would the purpose of such extensive field crops be? Then there’s the matter of the tractors, which are the cows of the Cars world. What is the purpose of the tractor? We never see the cars consuming any solid matter. Are the tractors used for scrap metal to make parts and/or repairs on the cars? Otherwise, the tractors’ only purpose is for comedic effect.

    And the last point that I wanted to touch on is how do the Cars reproduce? There are clearly male and female cars, and they are able to fall in love with one another, which one would assume means they would be able to reproduce. Sadly, though, I think the answer to that question is as mysterious as how Transformers reproduce. The cars appear to get old, and one would therefore presume that they die, so there must be some means of bringing new cars into the world. Is there some kind of car assembly line where they produce car bodies and then somehow recycle old car souls? What if a car is created/born/whatever as a sports car, but it’s really more of a monster truck? Is the soul put into some kind of Car blank that is formed by the spirit that is put in it?

    Sadly, these questions are not answered during a viewing of Pixar’s Cars. Luckily, I’m here to ask those kinds of questions so that hopefully these things will be more completely thought out in the future.