Saturday, December 31, 2011
Friday, December 30, 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Without further ado:
Saturday, December 17, 2011
On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
12 Rorschach coasters
11 nerdy pencils
10 custom Muppets
9 smoking bunnies
8 walnut rockets
7 bad swear snow globes
6 candid doormats
5 hooooooooowling rings
4 squirrel games
3 Apple charts
2 airquote mittens
And an elaborate outdoor cooker
Also, when exactly is the 12th day of Christmas? Is it January 5? Is it December 25 (making the first day today)? Or given that the Christmas crap hits shelves as soon as the Halloween crap exits for the bargain table, is it November 12?
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
For the first time The Project seems like it might actually have an end.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Saturday, October 22, 2011
But of course when she turns around there’s nothing there.
In fact, maybe mirrors in horror movies in general should be absolutely goddamn forbidden.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
And on only tangentially related lines, George Romero was inspired to make horror movies at least in part by an early experience shooting a segment for Mr. Rogers Neighborhood about the host getting a tonsillectomy.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Yeah, it doesn’t particularly amount to much, just 15 seconds or so of an LED circuit I built out of Elector magazine (and modified a bit). The trick here is that I shot it with my phone, uploaded it to YouTube and added it to this blog entry just to see if I could do it.
And lo and behold, I can. Fun stuff.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
Spot the fake story in that list. Hint: none of them.
In honor of Rooney’s professional passing, I’d like to share one of my favorite quotes from the Book of Beavis:
“Why do they call it ‘taking a dump’? You aren’t taking anything. They should call it ‘leaving a dump.’
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
When it finally showed up, it was weird. There it was on Amazon, just like everything else on the largest online retailer in the world. Disorienting, really. But in a fun way.
Monday, September 26, 2011
I started with Staban Beria’s “Witchy Women and Diamond Girls,” as it was pretty much the perfect length, neither too short to be inconsequential nor too long to be cumbersome.
What I haven’t figured out is how to make it available for free. Amazon insists that we charge at least 99 cents for the title (presumably because it isn’t a public domain work). Now, why anyone would want to pay even a buck for something that’s available for free at the site and via downloadable PDF, well, that’s another question. Maybe in the future 8sails Press will produce something that isn’t available online for nothing.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Basically what you’ve got is a class full of people who have little or no understanding of the topic at hand, and they’re supposed to learn the ropes from each other. Other students are even worse as teachers than some random person dragged in off the street, because at least a non-student stands a chance of being a typical reader rather than someone blindly stumbling around in the early stages of learning a craft.
Imagine if other subjects were taught this way.
Physics: “I thought the part about the masses of two objects was fine, but I think the Gravitational Constant needs some work. And distances between two objects? Please! Nobody’s going to buy that.”
History: “I felt the Constitutional Convention was trite and unconvincing. I mean seriously, who would go to all the work to set up a new government? Plus the ending was an obvious set-up for a sequel. What are you going to call it, Constitutional Convention Two: The Bill of Rights? Audiences hate it when you pull tricks like that.”
Anatomy: “Why do you have both a large intestine and a small intestine? Save everyone some time by just combining them into a single intestine. And what’s with all this extra nonsense? Gall bladder? Pancreas? Nobody even knows what any of that’s doing in there. Just cut it out.”
I openly admit that my own efforts in the creative writing realm have been less than stellar. I’ve never taught creative writing, and I probably never will. So perhaps I’m in no position to criticize the earnest efforts of professional practitioners of the art.
However, in my undergrad years (when I wasn’t busy running away from the dinosaurs) I did take a Fiction Writing class from Paul Lim, one of KU’s full-time writing teachers at the time. We did a lot of the group critique stuff, most of which was useless and none of which I even remember. What I do recall was that Lim placed some limitations on the discussion (such as “Nobody is allowed to say ‘This reminds me of ...’”) that helped cut down on the “group therapy” aspect of such exercises.
I also remember his direct feedback to me. That’s what I was there for: some help from a professional who knew the craft and could tell me what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong. Not a bunch of blather from frat boys and emo kids who were there mostly because they figured the class would be an easy A and didn’t read the kind of writing I was trying to do.
There’s nothing wrong with having everyone read everyone else’s writing. But the bulk of the feedback needs to come from the pro in the room, not the other students who represent neither learned expertise nor the market for the product.
Friday, September 9, 2011
Lay this failure at the doorstep of writer/director John Milius. The setting – Borneo in World War Two – is an environment rich with interesting stories. The lead character is a little Colonel-Kurtz-y, but his struggles to save his adopted people from Japanese invaders and Allied "help" aren't without dramatic merit, though someone besides Nick Nolte might have done a better job in the role. The landscapes are beautiful, though the filter work could have been a little more subtle. All the gripes are minor save one: the script is really, truly dreadful. Milius seems to think he's writing a philosophical instruction manual to help 12-year-old boys live more honorable lives. This plus Red Dawn makes me wonder what kind of sadly cartoonish life this man must lead. See if desperate
This section of the 8sails web site is like no other, as its distinctive look and feel indicate. It’s designed to be a little “edgier” than the rest, more openly antagonistic to some of the nonsense that goes on. If 8sails in general is the guy muttering criticism to the other folks at his table in the bad American Media Comedy Club, then DtC is the extra-drunk heckler down front.
The new section may eventually include essays and maybe even original art. At the moment, however, all the entries – all four of them – are lists of grievances. Which is nice, because lists are easy to add to, and we’ve all got grievances now and again.
I’m also pleased that activation of this section means that we now have no more “dark” pages on the left-hand side of the Octopus. Still some dark and dim spots in the Media section, but we’ll get there soon enough.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
This is likely to be the last work on the guide that's going to be visible anytime soon. I've got a lot of behind-the-scenes prep work (info gathering, organization, writing, graphics, etc.) to complete before I'm going to be ready to upload more stuff.
Still, I'll keep you posted.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Friday, September 2, 2011
Some trivia about the ones I added today:
In the Television graphic, the picture faintly visible in the background is a Soviet-era test pattern from Russia.
The Radio picture is of course our friend the Survival Cow masquerading as the inestimable Dr. John Romulus Brinkley.
And the Books graphic is a combination of a couple of pages from the Book of Kells (plus a little 21st century addition).
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
For the last day or two I've been focused on "The Herd," the splash page for the whole Survival Guide. I've finished all the "road signs" and four of the chapter buttons. Fans of last month's Custer Expedition take note: the background of the "Socialization" button in the lower righthand side of the Herd is the sky above the Little Bighorn Battlefield.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Further, if you're visiting it now you'll notice that most of the pages have spots for links at the bottom and that there aren't currently any links on them. My workflow scheme at the moment is to finish the text itself and then backtrack to add the links I've been piling up. I may change my mind later and add variety to the project by intermixing writing and linking. But for the moment it's just my pearls of wisdom and no hyper-ties to the rest of the universe.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
Today I finally figured out how to make a small icon for the bookmarks bar (and other similar browser locations). So now we're represented to the outside world by a tiny octopus. Fun stuff.
Work on the Media Survival Guide is genuinely underway at this point. I've finalized the page design, and I'm roughly halfway through creating master blank pages for all the subsections. Just about ready to start adding content!
Saturday, August 13, 2011
If having kids makes you into this bad of a sappy idiot, then I'm glad I never had any. The title character (Steve Martin) struggles with the expense and complications of putting together a storybook wedding for his daughter. All the humor involves the efforts of people around him to tolerate him while he spazzes, and especially toward the end even that limited modicum of entertainment gives way to pure sap. So if you need some treacle to adjust your blood sugar level, enjoy. Otherwise avoid. See if desperate
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
Friday, August 5, 2011
However, yesterday during an 8sails staff lunch we floated the idea of Getting Rich and Quitting Our Day Jobs by starting a reality show called "Pay Attention to Me." Contestants will face an American-Idol-esque panel of judges, and all they'll need to do to win is get the trio to pay attention to them for five minutes. Anything short of physical contact with the judges is allowed, but if anyone's attention drifts the buzzer sounds.
I want to be the Simon Cowell judge.
SeacrestBotMark7: Bryan, what did you think of that performance?
Me: What? Oh, sorry. I wasn't paying attention.
Anyone who survives the first round goes on to Level Two. This time the judges have their cell phones with them, so the acts must compete with incoming calls, texts, chat notices, pushes and various and sundry other 21st century interruptions.
If this show turns out to be the success we're hoping for, the spin-off will follow the same format only with a panel of teenagers for judges. This one will be called "So You Want to Be a Teacher."
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
As promised, here are the answers to last week's quiz. If you haven't done the quiz yet, view the previous post before reading this one. Oh, and credit where credit is due: this website provided the slang.
Bees in a Thicket - Firework
Flap Dragon - STD
Jumping Bug - Fireworks
Blue Boars - STD
Fire Ship - STD
Hot Pot - Fireworks
Burner - STD
Nimgimmer - STD
Tonga Exotica - Fireworks
Autumn Drizzle - Fireworks
Crinkums - STD
Nutty Monkey - Fireworks
Cats in the Cupboard - Fireworks
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
Each of the following items is either a firework we bought for our annual Fourth of July celebration or a Victorian English slang term for sexually transmitted disease. Can you tell which is which?
For the answers, come by the house at around 9:00 or so (or whenever anyone sobers up enough to be trusted around explosives) and see what we've got. Otherwise I'll post the answers next Tuesday.
Bees in a Thicket
Cats in the Cupboard
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Just about every issue the magazine includes the latest entry in its list of "101 Masterpieces." In the July-August issue the masterpiece being celebrated is The Who's Tommy.
I don't begrudge it a spot on the list. Though the work is a little uneven, it stands on its own as a legitimate work of art. The problem is the notion that it spawned other art works that contributed significantly to the world.
Here's the list of albums and shows that, according to writer Bill DeMain, owe a huge debt to Tommy:
- Pink Floyd's The Wall
- Green Day's American Idiot
- Jesus Christ Superstar
- Hedwig and the Angry Inch
To which let me add at least two more:
- Kilroy Was Here
- Trapped in the Closet
Yeah, thanks guys. Western civilization marches on.
As does computer repair. I've got Dreamweaver reinstalled and the site downloaded. So now I just need to busy myself with getting caught up.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Bored and in need of distraction, I noted that one of the stars was Sean Bean. Though I'm sure he's a perfectly good actor, I've had trouble taking him seriously ever since his appearance in Patriot Games many years ago. The problem didn't arise from the movie itself or his performance in it. Rather, it cropped up during the opening credits.
While we were watching the credits, Bean's name appeared (naturally enough, as he's the lead bad guy in the movie). Someone in the group (I'm looking at you, Ms. Rauber) was temporarily puzzled by the spellings of his first and last names. "Sean Bean?" she asked.
It isn't odd at all if you pronounce his first name "Shawn." But because of the similarity to his last name, she read his first as sounding like "Scene." And of course that made it funny.
What made it even funnier is when we started coming up with relatives for him, such as his grumpy grandpa Mean Bean. His creepy uncle Obscene Bean. His eco-friendly niece Green Bean (try making it through grade school with that one).
Did I mention that this was years ago?
In site news, guess what? Another massive hard drive crash! This time it was the desktop computer from which I do almost all my work.
Thus this crash took just about everything I've created for my classes for the past 13 years. Oh, and a big chunk of the preliminary work for my sabbatical project. At the moment the dead hard drive awaits more expert attention than I can give it.
Fortunately just about all the content for 8sails was already uploaded to the ISP. And having at least partially learned my lesson from the laptop crash a few months ago, I've been doing a lot of my work "in the cloud" using the 8sails wiki.
So if you absolutely can't stand to wait a couple of days for me to set things right, you can toddle off to the wiki and read the drafts before they're officially made part of the site. Otherwise just give me a bit and I'll recover from this mess and get back on track.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
I am curious no longer. I sincerely hope the show was a misrepresentation of the actual experience, because if it's accurate then the Appalachian Trail is the habitation solely of Trail Nerds, white people sufficiently well-to-do that they don't have to concern themselves with anything but hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Quick symptom of the problem: all of the interviewees had "trail names," sort of like CB radio "handles" only with a distinctly more hippified flair.
So on the off chance that I might ever lose my mind and give this a try, I'll need help picking a trail name. Here are the leading contenders:
1. Bryan Whitehead
2. Frodo Baggins (just in case I decided to give in and play along)
3. Jason Voorhees
4. Watongo (do a search on "Deadbolt Zulu Death Mask" if you want to track down the origin for this one)
Email me your fave (or another suggestion if you've got one)!
In site news, a bout of insomnia this morning gave me the chance to finish the rest of the backlogged site updates. Though my original plan was to include more material than just movie reviews for January and February, the fixes were taking too long. Besides, I expect the world can wait until next February for the (currently incomplete) list of our eight favorite Presidents' Day movies.