Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Well, I didn't expect that.

Which is somewhat strange, since I had asked for it.

We do magic every New Year's Eve. Everyone at my friends' party writes something down on a slip of paper that we'd like to leave behind in the coming year. Then we go outside and shiver on their deck as we watch the paper burn.

I've burnt things I've been angry about, and other times I've burnt habits I've had a hard time shaking. Last year, as I was approaching five years of editing a hunting magazine and then a firearms retailer magazine, I wrote "Guns." I was planning to go to one more Big Gun Show, then start looking for a new job, on new subject matter. By this time next year (a.k.a. today), I would be working somewhere else.

It didn't really surprise me when I never got around to looking for a job. I was comfortable there, I did the job well--and I was surrounded by friends. So there wasn't a whole lot of incentive to go, and when the economy started getting shaky, I decided to stay put. Rather than being the new guy when cuts came wherever I landed, I'd stay where I was safe, and my job was secure.

Foot, meet banana peel.

I don't know how many times I've been burned by choosing the safe route. I don't think it suits me. Safe? Ain't no such thing as safe.

With that disclaimer in mind, I wanted to offer a word of warning for 2009. When you're doing the magic of wishing and hoping... remember to work for what you wish for. Follow through on your magic, and don't leave it up to the fire to determine what burns and what endures.

Not all wishes are granted the way you expect. But even when they sideswipe you, granted wishes are nothing to be sneezed at.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Wii Celebs

I've added Ben Franklin, Edgar Allen Poe, Cap'n Jack Sparrow and Velma to our cadre of Miis. Cap'n Jack was from a build I found online, but Poe came from an attempt to make the Fisher Price doggie (who originally started out as a Nancy for Sluggo, come to think of it).

As for Velma, I pretty much found her as a sample Mii and only needed to tweak her a little. I'll leave it to Kathy to come up with a female who doesn't wear glasses. (Then again, her own Mii and Sarah Palin were both hers...)


Sunday, December 28, 2008

You, Mii, Us.

My mom completely surprised Kathy & me -- and everyone else in our family -- by giving us a Wii for Christmas yesterday. We've spent some of the time playing Wii Sports -- Kathy kills me at Tennis and Boxing, but Bowling and Baseball are my games. (Golf is anybody's bet.) But when we're not playing games, we're making Mii characters -- the little avatars you can use to play the game.

So far we have one for Kathy, one for me, and a few celebrities: Heatmiser, Snowmiser, Sarah Palin, Sluggo and Bob Ross.

Happy trees, my friends. Happy trees.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Uncle Sam's Little Helper

The CIA is using Viagra as a reward for informants in Afghanistan.

Make love, not war.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tis The Season

Merry Christmas, everyone. And for Rao's sake, don't stay out in the cold.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Let's Play Balderdash!

What the hell... I feel like amassing a bunch of comments. So why not click to post a comment, see what the verification word is, and define it? It's not like you're going to get any work done today.

I don't see wordverf on my blog, but I had to type "discrea" to post my most recent comment on Sharon's blog.

Discrea: An inflammation of the lumbar region most often found in ex-breakdancers.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Me, Here, Now

My pal Diane from The Mommy Diaries tagged me in a photo meme, and I hereby present the result. It's posted a couple hours late, but this is exactly as I am and was when I received word of the memage headed my way:

Now for the rules:

1) Take a picture of yourself right NOW!

2) DON'T change your clothes, DON'T fix your hair... Just take a picture.

3) Post that picture with NO editing.

4) Post these instruction with your picture.

5)Tag 10 people to do this..

Ten? Here goes...

Jim the Bastard, Greg at Define a Life, Jaynanda, KTBuffy, Sharon at the Center of NJ Life, El Naco, Jeff at My Greatest Adventure, Mike at Just Sitting and Thinking, and Ana at A Cocqui In Winterfell.

And anyone else who can find the time is more than welcome, too.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Unlikely To Blog Today

Swamped with freelancery.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Satan's Little Helpers

I was browsing around on Google Images and I stumbled across this little gem:

As wrong as it is, the fact that we're only 8 days from Christmas makes it even wronger.

("Wronger" may not be a word, but it's the right word, dammit!)

Rob is Overcaffienated



Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Okay... SLOWLY spreading like kudzu

I've *finally* got a new post up at Blog@Newsarama... though I can't seem to get the proportions right on that illustration for the life of me. It's simple pixel division, but something keeps squatting the image down to a square.


Common Sense Prevails

I just spoke with someone at the NY Department of Labor. Since it's my first notice, I can come anytime during the next week without loss of benefits.

Which makes me doubly happy. First, of course, I can spend Christmas with the fam. And second, I always get a little giddy when people are considered more important than rules, even in little ways like this.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Injury? Meet Insult!

You know what's nice about being laid off over the holidays? At least you have time to spend over the holidays.

Unless, that is, the fuckers at the unemployment office send you a letter for a MANDATORY two-hour meeting in New York City on the day one of your families is actually celebrating Christmas.

There is no fucking upside.

(Oh, and the letter? On Grinch-colored paper.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Big Day For Petr Prucha And Other Stories

When I watch hockey games with Kathy, I'm always impressed by the play-by-play. The game moves so fast that the announcers have to speak in short, declarative sentences so they can move on to the next declarative sentence. The result often sounds like a series of children's book titles:

Drury Drops It In

Lundqvist Keeps Control

Rozsival Takes a Hit

Dubinski Sends It Back

When I'm in a whimsical mood, I imagine there's a whole shelf with books like this in Canadian elementary school libraries.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Bettie Page, R.I.P.

There are some people whom our imaginations never let grow old.

Rest in peace, Bettie.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Attention Souvenir Hunters

For the last year or so, we've been bombarded with Obama merchandise of every type. Commemorative plates, T-shirts, buttons, replica coins, photographs, "Yes We Can" posters. And it was an historic election, I'll grant you, and his will be an historic presidency. There's nothing wrong with celebrating that fact through the proud American tradition of kitsch.

But this guy goes a little overboard, don't you think?

Selling Obama's Senate seat?

First of all, I don't even know how he got it. The Senate's not like an old ballpark scheduled for demolition. You can't just walk out with a row of seats or a men's room sign -- and there's not even a legal way to buy them, as far as I know. And they're not going to make one senator stand when there's a packed house. They'll just take a seat down from the bleachers, and let the last senator to come in sit in that. So you know who loses out? The fans.

Still, assuming the seat can be authenticated (maybe the President-elect carved his name into the arm?), I imagine this guy will get some high bids for the chair where Obama parked his magical heinie for four years. Even in a recession, rich people are always willing to spend money on all sorts of craziness. If it's not Obama's Senate seat, it's John Wayne's waffle iron.

What's that? He's not selling the chair at all, but Obama's vacated position?

Oh, that's just corrupt.

(Need I say it?)

Never mind.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

My Words Spread Like Kudzu

I just joined the new crew of bloggers at Blog@Newsarama. Here's the kickoff post -- kind of a mission statement, really -- of a series called The Long-Distance Runner.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Shake Shake Shake

tYesterday, I spent the afternoon in Barnes and Noble, looking at magazines and researching which ones I should query and thinking about the sort of stories they'd need. And I drank two jumbo ("venti," in coffee parlance) cups of coffee.

This isn't terribly unusual for me. I drink a lot of coffee when I'm at work.

Except I'm not at work anymore. And in the month I've been cooling my heels, I've totally lost my tolerance for the type of caffeine coffee puts in me. I've been drinking lots and lots of tea, but only a cup of coffee here and there.

Until yesterday.

I spent some time defragging our computer last night, and getting rid of some files here and there. It was 4:30 a.m.

I finally left the computer to do its business and went to bed. And rolled over. And stayed put. And rolled over again. And just lay there as Kathy slept beside me and I. just. couldn't. stop.

I know it's out of my system by now, but I can still feel the hum of my ribcage vibrating.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Live! From Madison Square Garden!

I can't help it. Whenever I sit down to watch a Rangers game with Kathy, I always catch myself thinking that head coach Tom Renney...

... is actually Saturday Night Live executive producer Lorne Michaels.

(Shown here with power forward Tina Fey.)

There are never enough jokes in hockey for my tastes. But sometimes, at the end of the third period, it can feel like they're just killing time. Just like SNL.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Shut Your Mouth

Mark Evanier is right: You really want to see the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain perform the theme from Shaft.

Can ya dig it?


Hin Dagh

As promised, here's my full review of Epiphany Project's Hin Dagh.

It impresses before you even hear it. Epiphany Project's newest CD, Hin Dagh, arrives in an artful hardcover book, with two pages devoted to each song and its translation.

Translation? Yes, almost every song on the album is in another language, often an ancient one. Sanskrit, Ancient Welsh, Aramaic... they're all represented. And in the hands of Epiphany Project (vocalist Bet Williams, pianist/percussionist John Hodian and an international cast of friends), somehow they all co-mingle, seeming absolutely at home together, side-by-side. Sacred texts, bound together by new music.

The album opens with "Ashem," a lyrical prayer from the Khorda Avesta, the sacred book of the Zoroastrians. It's mysterious and welcoming... and then, suddenly, inexplicably danceable. It's followed by "Charents I," a partial translation of a poem by Armenian poet Yeghishe Charents called "I Am Not That Anymore: An Answer to My Enemies" - and it absolutely soars. Williams and Hodian continue with "Ararat (Arto's Song)," in English, making it one of the album's most accessible tracks. Despite the familiar language, the rolling motion of the song makes it feel, somehow, like travel.

I don't want to get into a description of every track; suffice it to say that every one of them stakes out a little plot in the imagination and begins to flower there. "Sarmad" recalls a busy bazaar full of exotic sounds and spices; "Taliesin's Dream" whispers of ancient rituals and anticipations. "Ujamu Yangu," in Swahili, is a delicate remembrance of lost youth.

"Postcards from Beulah," a sultry track in English, has as its source postcards written by Bet's grandmother. The band promises to expand this piece in a later album, but the song as it stands seems in no way incomplete. Still... it's good to have something to look forward to.

Hin Dagh conjures up exotic locations, and the mystery of the ancient and unfamiliar. There's a measure of exploration, even trepidation, when listening to it, but rest easy: Williams and Hodian are sure-footed guides, and know this territory well.


Monday, December 01, 2008

This Week In Weight Loss

So despite the turkey, stuffing, gravy, corn, mashed potatoes, broccoli puff, cranberry sauce, candied sweet potatoes, cheese & crackers, beer, tea cooler, pumpkin pie, apple pie, whipped cream and other delights...

I lost 1.8 pounds over this last week. Or, in terms of explosives, the weight of this World War I German grenade.

Which, festively enough, is nicknamed a "potato masher." Try bringing one of these to the Thanksgiving table!