Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Someone Keeps Moving My Chair!

Back when it first hit the web, I watched this thing everyone was on about, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. I thought it was the greatest thing I'd seen since that dude in the horse mask went dancing around with his mushrooms. But by the time I was going to tell everyone to see it, it was gone. So unfair.

But now it's back for a limited run! So go watch Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog if you haven't seen it. It's full of musical Joss Whedony, Neil Patrick Harrisy, Nathan Filiony, Felicia Day...y...goodness!

And the supervillain is Bad Horse, so it's not that far from my loony Japanese dancer.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Little Things That Make Me Happy

I swear I am so dull that discovering the insert key can be prevented from going into overstrike mode not only made my day, but my month. So far. Time will tell if it will be the greatest event of the year. Raising the head of my bed to prevent hernia nastiness might beat it, although I shouldn't have needed to do that. Then again, if my fingers were more accurate, I also wouldn't need to disable a key I ought not to be hitting anyway. I would also not need to plug in the headphones when I play music. Ah well.

How to disable the Insert Key in Windows

There are tips on how to disable the disabling as well, not that I see any reason to ever go back to making it even easier to mangle my writing.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Calling Plan of Doom Just Wants To Play

I don't write about the movies we've seen to be all, "Ha! Rented it on the first day," or anything, it's just that this is all sort of a writing prompt. There are few other times I'm experiencing the same thing as other people in the same room, so I try to remember it by writing it down. I think this week I'll totally go off on the movies, though, because these are two that have been out for a while.

I can't brag about seeing One Missed Call for instance, because I don't know what the hell it was about it lost something in translation. The movie was very short, so they could have worked some more plot in there and still made it under 1:45, but apparently the makers were content with the idea that the calling plan of doom gives out free candies. Also, peepholes are still a bad idea.

I feel bad about watching Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer without my aunt there to love every eyelash in Ioan Gruffudd's head, but she was at home with her own copy this week and we were down to that or Charlie Wilson's War (which was good, though, we saw that the next night). On Saturday we like to see the world get saved in a fun way that has little to no repercussions in the future, so we watched the Fantastic Four. If you liked the first one, you will probably like this one as well. Although I have fond memories of those cartoons, I like the movie versions better than the Hanna-Barbera version, because the cartoon people had scary eyes...I remember my childhood like it was a weird drug trip. It wasn't, either, man, aside from the occasional chewable aspirin and candy cigarette. But there's a surfer, and he's silver, and he surfs through planets but he can heal people and he hangs ten like nobody's business and Ioan Gruffudd dances and cries and I have to find out if my aunt's seen it yet because I swear I could hear her saying, "AWW!" in varying pitches as the movie went along.

Apparently my hair is really cute this week. I've heard that my hair looks nice. I'll be talking about the Asian long-horn beetle, and before I can say infestation I'm cut off with a compliment to my hair. Honestly, all I've been doing is wetting my head a lot so I don't die, but I guess that look is in this year.

Other movies we saw were an '80s movie set in the '40s, with Crystal Bernard (of Wings!) and Annabeth Gish (from X-Files!) as...women...I think they were detectives, unless only one was, I came in on it. It was okay until the dog got it. This is how I rate my movies, people.

We didn't stick with Sometimes They Come Back...For More after one character, played by Faith Ford, argues that the pissed off man heading for the door can't go out after someone because it's 60 below. "If he can survive it, so can I!" Mr. I-wear-green-camo-in-snow snarls, and proceeds to stomp out into the snow. I mean, I know I shovel in a T-shirt, but 60 below?

The rest of the week my free time went to catching up on the gardening I couldn't do in the heatwave that tripled in size overnight during the insane rainstorm we got. I would like a little rain every few days, please. Not three weeks of no rain and then 24 hours straight of water that will end up mostly inside my house.

Then I saw a baby pigeon. Baby birds are so cute in a freaky my-mother-could-peck-your-eyes-out way. It was standing on top of Domo-Kun. Luckily it flew back up to the trees and not into the sunscreen or the house. Because that would have warranted a post of its own.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Every Time The Sun Rises, Domo-Kun Eats Another Bee.

The ladies who really wanted that ginormous brown sunscreen just outside the back door have sat in it a total hour? The Puppy gets more use out of it, laying under the table in the dim brown-tinted sunlight.

To the right, you may be rather displeased to see what I believe is an extraterrestrial harvesting scout. I've seen a few of these over the years, once when I was twelve and much more likely to react by recklessly hurtling through the air to get away from The Thing On My Leg.

The weird-ass bugs that live in our neighborhood love it, though. Sure. They flock to it and can't get out, so we come out to a huge brown screened room full of flying insects. And ants. Sometimes the ants fly, too, but I haven't got the ability to take a really good photo of a flying ant. Bad enough the yellowjacket in the second photo went on to sting my Puppy in the foot. I think. They all look alike. They're also all dying by the sunscreen-load every day. I've had seven yellowjackets go to the great lawn and leaf bag morgue this month.

I can't be afraid of these things anymore when they're so fragile that the appearance of a great brown nylon thing kills them. Maybe it gets too hot, maybe they just can't find their way out and commit bee seppuku, I don't know, but my inner rabid environmentalist worries about the future of bees when my backyard has brought more death to them in one week than overturned trucks and cell phone towers.

All these bees and flying maniacs are upside down in the pictures not because they're dead, but because they're hanging from the ceiling of Domo-Kun.

The cats love the way Japanese beetles (or jitterbugs, or "those noisy bastards that end up in the water bowl") collect inside the sunscreen. The final picture shows the record number (so far) of three armor-shelled, blindly bouncing beetles. I took that picture surrounded by Japanese beetles. Twenty years ago, I would scream and run indoors and stay there for three days if I heard one of them bouncing off the siding. Now, I rescued one that got tangled up in the tied-back panel of screening.

Of course the panels of screening are tied back. If we didn't tie them back the cats and dog couldn't get in and out. Or the birds. Birds have flown in. Luckily, they fly back out again and don't cook themselves on the sun-heated pipes.

I sat inside the sunscreen one was hot.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

I Have Said Fluffernutters And Movies Are Life.

I seem to have completely shifted this review of what I've actually accomplished in a week down to what movies we've watched. In the end, I have the feeling that will be more conversation-worthy.

For instance, if someone asks me what's new with me, and I say I almost drove into another car because the sunlight flickering off my windshield caused me to become what they call in medical terms, "weird," that's not going to end as well as me saying I saw a movie I thought was great. Unless of course I'm dealing with some of the people I know who don't watch movies, and then I'm left with mentioning that I bought Round-Up to burn the grass out of the driveway. Also not worth blogging about unless I was telling a story from the viewpoint of one of those blades of grass, who did nothing to deserve such a hideous fate except come into being in the wrong place and time. Much like me. Except I don't even need chemicals to wilt in the sun.

On that cheery note, 27 Dresses was actually way better than I expected it to be. I liked the cast, though, so that could have helped. Nan has loved Katherine Heigl from the time she saw her in Love Comes Softly, so that was a main reason we even sat down to watch this one. Luckily in this movie no one gets a horse dropped on them, and it either wasn't too sappy for me or I'm getting old. If you liked While You Were Sleeping, you will like this.

The next night we watched The Mist. We're Stephen King fiends, so of course we watched it, come on. Don't watch it right before you go to bed because it will shake you up. The final horror of it is not the scary monsters, either. Also, Lisa Gerrard, please stop cutting my heart out, you siren, you.

One of Nan's late night finds was Angel's Dance, it's one of those wacky dark comedies that I grew up on. Jim Belushi is teaching a guy to be a hitman, and Sheryl Lee from Twin Peaks starts out as the kookiest mortician and I won't say what she turns into, but just watching her set up the wall of photos of bodies she'd made up cracked me up. I need to watch Twin Peaks again.

Due to the asinine removal of our local grocery store, we have to get bread from a bodega that Mum swears doesn't carry rye bread because, "It's Jewish and the owners are Middle Eastern." I'm not sure about that, but while we wait for the replacement store across the street to open its doors, I switched from rye bread to Wonder Whole Wheat. It's a momentous occasion, you know. I've been eating rye bread and peanut butter first thing in the morning nearly every day for 12 years. Now I'm eating some sort of whole-wheat-made-out-of-white-bread, and I like it. What is wrong with me? I caved, I rolled over, I shifted loyalties. Meh, never was crazy about caraway seeds anyway. (I'm aware rye bread comes without seeds, but my aunt and I are the only ones who like it that don't get that.)

This week I also shredded three bagloads of old invoices and statements, thereby falling behind in my goal to complete 24 comic strips in one month by a day, and I think I cut my hair. That might have been last week, however.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Things I Can't Believe Exist.

What a time to be alive. There is a grill--a small one, mind you--that has the ability to play MP3s.

MEAT AND MUSIC. Not entirely my thing, but wow. Gone are the days of having a radio sitting on the table taking up all that space that could be used for the potato salad, no, now there are 10-watt speakers inside of a George Foreman grill.

As a child, before my first boombox, Nan would pile her Barbra Streisand albums into the 6-foot long, 4-foot-high, 8-Track capable stereo upstairs in the living room and crank that baby up loud enough that we could hear it in not only the backyard, but Connecticut. To this day every time I smell a barbecue I can hear Guilty. (This was back before my intestines rebelled against 80% of the things I ate so that's one of my good memories. I know it may be hard to tell for some of you kids who don't get how fantastic an album Guilty really is. I'm not even playing with the title and saying I had nothing to be guilty of, eating a cheeseburger, really.)

As good an idea as this may seem, I don't understand how the wiring of the 10-watt speaker inside the MP3 grill doesn't get damaged by the searing heat of grillin'. Not only that, I mean, there's a plug for an MP3 player. Like, you have to plug your player into the barbecue. Think about this. Think about the ways this could go wrong. iPods aren't cheap, and I've heard rebuilding a library in one is like trying to reconstruct your ex out of Lego. To each their own.

The Tupperware boombox seems safer to me, somehow. Not that I'll be trying that any time soon as I wear my music on my head and since the time that I played my tape of Frank's Wild Years I tend not to try exposing my family to new music at dinner.

Here is some dinner music for your weekend by Barbra and Barry and Tom Waits, your results may vary.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Comics That Inspired Me: Cat And Girl

Yes, Peanuts and Mutts are two comic strips that started me down the path that is the hobby I enjoy the most, but it wasn't until I started reading webcomics did I realize I had "people."

It's pretty obvious that I was drawn to Cat and Girl because hey, it's a cat, and a girl! There's a vampire in there, too. Also they're hilarious and brililant and drawn great, and I seriously considered cutting my strip to once a week if I could make it half as fantastic as these, but why I'm linking to this particular strip is because the punchline sums up my life.

Obligations from Cat and Girl by Dorothy Gambrell.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

It's Like The Same Thing Just Keeps Happening

Hot weather means more movies! Yes, movies, because...moving around is dangerous.

After seeing the commericals for it quite a bit, we rented Vantage Point, which is not about tennis. No. I won't blow any of the plot because it has got suspense and mystery in it, but I will say Mum was glad 1159 didn't come out in the numbers the next day. Also, my joke about the story as seen by the ice cream cone ACTUALLY HAPPENS. Sorta.

Before we started the movie there was a Abraham Lincoln 77777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777biopic77777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777 777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777 with Walter Huston in it on PBS, and I had no idea that Lincoln wore lipstick and got into bar fights. Wow. This entry brought to you in part by The Slinky One of my cats.

I'd taped the remake of The Andromeda Strain a while back, and we finally decided to watch it in one sitting. I rank it with Robin Cook's Invasion and Atomic Train. Did I ever do an entire post about Atomic Train? Probably not, so instead I'll stick to the movie we saw. Things that will stick with me from this new Andromeda Strain include: If a character is introduced and he starts flipping out over an ambulance almost giving him a migraine, he won't be the only one having a bad time by the end of the movie when the alert flashers are going off. The food chain of the Utah desert is so dangerous that somehow a bunny being eaten by a snake who is then nibbled on by a rat who gets picked up by an eagle takes out a group of soldiers.

I have to go back and try to stress how much I was laughing when the scientist with the migraines had a frikkin' seizure from the self-destruct warning lights. He somehow manages to pull himself together and throw a thumb to save the day. I'm...not going to say whose thumb because that would be a spoiler, but the entire stopping of the self-destruct sequence in the movie was worth the three hours of sitting there watching things (people, rats, monkeys, birds, fighter jets, the story) die horribly. If you ever get a chance, just watch the last twenty minutes. Priceless.

One night, while I was writing and Nan was writing, Nan found Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, and the discovery I made is that I'm so old and tired that smoke no longer musters the strength to come out of my ears when the presumably diseased rats hop off the ship and the cross goes up at La Navidad. Benicio Del Toro and Catherine Zeta-Jones are in this movie, as a crazy man and a hottie. WHAT A STRETCH!

We finally watched Shoot 'Em Up. I say finally because I'd been playing the "But it's got Clive Owen!" card every week since the movie came out and well, Nan and Mum loved it. So there. It's up there with the Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez movies I've seen, so if you don't mind fake blood in action scenes, and you like carrots, holy crap this is a fabulous movie.

Nan had found the end of Blades of Glory one night, and know us for the figure skating, so I taped it and we watched it again from the beginning, which is always a good place to start a movie. I enjoyed it, it made me laugh and it also made me gag at one point but that' was a needed transformational plot point, I saw on the second viewing.

For some reason we'd also put off seeing The Kite Runner way too long. I think it was, "OMG, subtitles!" which I don't get because we turn the captions on for the all-English movies anyway. The story is amazing, though, and I keep thinking about how good the movie was. Look at the movies I saw this week. This was the best. I think it was one of the best of the year. One of the things that stuck with me from this was that the character of the father was one of the best movie fathers ever. Nice to see a break from the usual do what I say/you just don't understand me jive. Even though his kid didn't get that at first...but I don't want to give away the plot if you haven't read it already. See The Kite Runner. Read The Kite Runner, even.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pardon Me, The Music Is Moving.

It's been a while since I did a post which pretty much can be summed up with, "OMG watch this thing I found on YouTube!" mainly because I haven't have 4 minutes straight of free time in which to check anything in my "ToWatch*" folder--and if you find that hard to believe, I was called away as I was writing that very line--but also because YouTube pulls things down faster than I can see them.

But here, from the channel of the director of the video (and one would hope not so soon to be taken down, but there was always that Sequential Pictures Dune Re-Dub incident), is Eric Wareheim's masterpiece for a song I've loved forever, Polite Dance Song by The Bird and The Bee. It makes me ten kinds of happy.

(*I have a ToWatch, Read, and Replies folder on my desktop. afraid to do a count of how many items are in each folder. I've also got one merely titled "4," because there's a locked (damaged?) file in there and until I'm done with it I can't rename the folder...which has been sitting there since April. Of 2007.)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Daily Lit: Like P.G. Wodehouse Had A Blog!

I have to admit that all this Internet has cut in on my book-reading time. Back when all I logged onto Prodigy for was e-mail from my cousin and the latest installment of Abel Adventures, I used to read [insert impressive number here] books a year. Now...not as many. Yes, the books I'm interested in now are longer and have bigger words, but I spend too much time checking RSS feeds when I could be reading books.

Apparently I'm not the only one, because there is a place called Daily Lit, and THEY POST BOOKS IN AN RSS FEED. It's...insane, really, but I signed up for My Man Jeeves within an hour of finding the place. I chose something light that I'd never read, see. I could have gone straight for Ulysses, but no. Two-and-a-half months and I'll have read a book my great-grandfather once read. Unless I get behind on my RSS feeds again, then I may just give up and go back to hardcovers.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Almost Lost My Head

Last Saturday we watched Be Kind, Rewind, because it seemed so hilarious in the commercials and Jack Black has become a favorite of ours. It was funny, for the most part, but the plotline about saving the building reminded me of my life a little too much and not in a *Batteries Not Included kind of way. Perhaps it was just the day.

I totally fell over and got my head wedged against the wall. What are the odds? It sucked in many ways because on my way down the little MSG-laden caramel things I was planning to eat went all over the (eh, hairy) floor and once my head dropped below chest level I lost my voice and so no one knew I was in any trouble until my arse was spotted. Didn't help that the only arm I had to get away from the offending wall is the shoulder that I somehow messed up back in April. The moral of the story is that if you find someone wedged against a wall, don't just assume they will get up if you tell them to, even if you tell them really really loud. Also, don't be surprised if said slab of meat and bones flips you the finger because really, attempting to move the wall with the sonic quality of your voice is just not helping.

The next night we saw The Other Boleyn Girl, which reminded me that people kinda suck. I don't know, that's what I generally take from history. Other people get romantic notions about England back in the day of beheadings, but damn, I have yet to see a period in history where people were not screwing each other over and resorting to grudge killing. I liked the movie as a movie, though. Natalie Portman's a favorite of mine, though. I've read...unfavorable reviews. I shouldn't, really.

Tuesday was depressing. It was the last time I paid for groceries in the first store we shopped in when we moved here. Yes, the building hasn't seen a remodel since those days, but dammit, when you're as insane as I am, you get attached to things like people who know you and the feeling that no matter what's going on around you, you can get a damned loaf of rye bread after 1PM within ten minutes. Of course because of the weather, I was on Sudafed knock-off and so any real emotion was completely deadened to the point where I just ran around like the Tazmanian Devil. But I say it was depressing as the guy who was working the deli counter was holding his cellphone with the plastic food service gloves on. I think I covered this.

Nan found a doozy of a movie called either The Favorite or Intimate Power, neither of which title really does the film justice. Cuff from The Bloodhound Gang is the would-be sultan of...where were they, anyway? Turkey, I think. I would say watch it just so you can experience the strange, rushed lives of a bunch of people who were not French or Turkish in any way. Ah, '80s movies.

I got it into my head to create 24 comic strips in one month. That means every weekday in July, I have to draw, scan, put together and otherwise create a comic strip. Which is I think what I already said. But I don't usually do that many. If I pull this off, I will be able to take some time off from strip-making in August. Or at least it will give me a lot of lead time for when I go insane from trying to make 24 strips in as many days.

Perhaps unrelated, I had the strangest allergic reaction in all the time I know me. I was sitting here minding my business, when all of a sudden my hands started itching. That's not really rare, nor is the progression of the itching to my arms. No, I've been itchy before, I've been itchy for about thirty years, but when my throat suddenly closed up as if I'd been using Capsasin-P for toothpaste (I had not), that sorta weirded me out a bit. The wheezy nastiness in my chest that followed was entirely new. I've added the feeling to my list of ways I wouldn't like to die.

On the fourth, I stayed indoors. Many of the neighbors were setting off small explosives and it's best if I stay out of the way when they do that. So instead of maybe catching up on replies, I went and played with Twitter. I am now officially a twit. Somewhere along the sidebar is the Twidget, and anyone wanting to follow the moment-to-moment dullness that is me can find me at

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Do Yourself In Project #34: The Bed Blocks

So I have this hernia. I mention it only because it's the entire reason why I hauled out the sawhorse and the jigsaw and a bunch of wood to make my bed look like a funny car.

Why make bed-raising things out of wood when you can buy some ready-made? Because that takes mo-ney, and after all I have bits of wood left over from all the other things we've built...those heavy things that aggravated my hernia. So six months after this most recent big-time* hernia aggravation, I finally got it into my head to make proper permanent blocks to replace the stack of wood I had to remove because it wasn't safe for others. Nothing wakes you up faster than the sound of your bed killing people.

Raising the wheels at the head of the bed is really the only effective way to make a hiatal hernia stop being an annoying little bastard. So it had to be done. Once my mom saw the first one all stuck together with duct tape (makes it easier to nail), she realized why I was making her saw all these tiny little pieces into even smaller pieces. She was impressed the next day when I woke up and could speak without the use of gymnastics or caustic food. Before that she was just like, not enthusiastic aboutthe project.

This is what I had her cut:

  • Two 3-inch long sections of 2x4 for each leg (that would be 4)
  • "Sides" for each leg, sort of a box around the 2x4 blocks which were measured very scientifically by holding the 2x4 bits up and drawing a line around them. The purpose of the box was to keep the wheels of the bed from rolling off the blocks in case the bed is moved.
  • A 4-inch square to sit all that on, and a 5-inch square to sit that on, because pyramids don't tip, yo.

This whole thing, nailed together, brings the head of bed up six inches, which is said to be the proper gut-dropping angle. It worked, really. I mean, after lifting the bed to get the wood under the wheels. That part sort of sucked.

As of today it's been a week since this project and hopefully all the damage that started during the happy healthy Puppy time to eat too much Lo Mein and then prune trees day is healing. I can talk more often than not, which is a complete reversal of how it's been since that nice patch of weather in January when I decided to get a jump on the yardwork, followed by that bad patch of weather where I shoveled the slush...after er...eating too much. ONE TIME. ONE TIME AND I GET MY ESOPHAGUS HANDED TO ME. Fie foul noodles! They really were quite tasty, I can't lie. Not as tasty as the smell of fresh-cut pine boards, but hey.

*No, really, I knew it would take a while to go away, but dude, six months?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Dear Guy Behind The Deli Counter,

Those plastic gloves you wear are meant to keep your germs off the food. So holding your cell phone to your head while wearing the gloves (I appreciate you switching the phone to your other gloved hand while you worked the slicer...I'm sure you noticed me gaping in horror staring) sort of defeats the purpose. What else do you do while wearing the gloves, I wonder?

Shake hands with the customers?

Oh my.

I'm...sorry I saw all that.