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May the Fourth (grumble, grumble, grumble…)

May 4th, 2011 No comments

So, basically all day today I’ve been trying to pithily pontificate the joys and wonders of Star Wars: this being the unofficial holiday of one of the greatest Sci-Fi properties in the history of Man.

For all that Star Wars means to me, it is a downright crime that I haven’t done much writing about the subject.

Basically stated, I’m a huge Star Wars nerd. I couldn’t tell you how many different copies of the original trilogy I have on VHS and DVD, and the amount of Star Wars ephemera that occupies my house borders on ridiculous.

I’ve read all of the novels of the Expanded Universe (and actually like those characters and scenarios better than what I’ve seen on the screen so far), collected trinkets from the four corners of the Earth with “Lucasfilm, LTD.” stamped on them and I’m a tad embarrassed at the amount of money I’ve spent on individual action figures.

All that and I find it incredibly hard to write about. It seems that only when I get hot under the collar (reference my “heated” Why, George, Why? blog from last year) do I delve into my Lucas-inspired nerdery.

To be honest, I often only talk about Star Wars to address the things I’m not happy with. I guess that’s all part of being a “critical” fan. Why can’t I just be happy with Wookies, Mandalorians, Jedi, Sith, etc. and ignore the horrible gaffs like Episodes I-III, the Marvel Comics and Rokur Gepta? To that end, why must I justify my love of the Expanded Universe to “purist” fans who find it anathema to look beyond the six movies (does the Christmas Special count?)?

Oh wait. I know. Star Wars fans just LOVE to complain. We bitch about “special editions,” proposed “ultimate editions,” lack of Blu-Rays, lack of the “Yub Yub” song, being a little short for a Stormtrooper and a bajillion other little things that just bug the ever-loving shit out of us. In general we will sit in awed silence for ninety minutes at a time, and many of us will still tear up at the “I know” line on Bespin during Empire Strikes Back, but when that is all over, it’s right back to the bitching.

Honestly, I should really focus my attentions on mocking continuity-lacking Trekkies or those freaks who stuck through Battlestar Galactica (and I don’t mean the one with Lorne Greene).

An apparent Emergen-C

January 27th, 2011 No comments

I came to the realization a few days ago that I have a serious Emergen-C habit. Sure, it started as just an electrolyte replacement regimin due to the fact that I sweat like a stuck pig during yoga (and apparently sleep), but it’s gone beyond that.

Here is some background on my “plight.” I am one of the few Americans on this planet who doesn’t drink soda. Every so often I get a craving for one, but I have, effectively, been soda-free for just about fifteen years. Considering my proclivities towards vices, I’m throwing out a big “yay me” for this one.

As a result of my nonsodaness, I drink a lot of water. I pretty much cut caffiene out of my diet a couple of months ago, so my options for constant beverage were effectively reduced down to water.

Don’t get me wrong, I love drinking water. In a typical day, I drink almost ten liters of the stuff. What I discovered when I started yoga, however, was that I was sending my body chemistry way out of whack. I’m all in favor of lethargy, but having it forced on you is no picnic.

Enter the Emergen-C: chock full of vitamin C and a mess of other stuff that the packaging tells me is good for me. No sugar and awesome flavors like tangerine (an apparent Whole Foods exclusive) make me a pretty happy camper. I, apparently, was missing flavor in my life.

Now comes the downside. On a typical day I consume up to three of these tasty little packets. That’s a total of 3000 milligrams of added vitamin C in my life. Silly me decides to get on the interwebs and look up “vitamin C toxicity.” While non-toxic (how a toxicity can be non-toxic is beyond me), due to the fact that vitamin C is not stored in the body, but, rather, water-soluble and flushed out of your system, high doses of vitamin C can lead to other issues: kidney stones being the scariest.

I may be overreacting. I drink enough water in the day to keep a pretty constant flush going all the time. I would hope that keeping my kidneys in constant “motion” would keep me from getting those nasty engine deposits that can cause knocking, pinging and crippling pain. The thought of a “stone” growing in my body terrifies me. That’s right, I’m afraid of my First World problem. Where else but America would someone worry about getting too damn much of something other than fast food and booze. Scurvy has been on the rise in English children for the past couple of years and I’m bitching about how much vitamin C just pours out of my body. That’s right England, I just took away your First World status.

This worry, much like my impending kidney stones, will pass. I’m not sure I’ll ever jump on the Crystal Light kick that seems to be sweeping the nation, so I’ll just dutifully stand by my Emergen-C.

I think I’ll have one now and worry about my future.

Categories: food, monkey, Ravings, Vice

POP pilgrimage

April 30th, 2010 No comments

For the past couple of years, squeezle and I have spent our Memorial Day weekend in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We are big fans of Santa Fe (read that as “we like to drink and eat a lot in Santa Fe, NM”), and we try and make a trip at least once a year to relax, throw the munch at some of our favorite restaurants on the planet, and spend money on art that one would usually not expect to be showcased in Santa Fe.

In fact, the Memorial Day Weekend is when we travel to Santa Fe for a very special event. No, it’s not Pancakes on the Plaza (which falls on July 4th and is pretty damn awesome), rather, it’s POP Gallery’s POP Femme Sugar Coated Strange opening and reception. Squeezle and I have been incredibly impressed with Michael and Sharla McDowell’s little shack of wonders since they opened it back in 2007. We had known both of them from their work with the Chuck Jones Gallery in Santa Fe, so we were both delighted that they cut out on their own to showcase artists and works that were more in line with their own tastes, and, subsequently, ours.

One of the best things about the Sugar Coated Strange show is that it really bucks the mentality of a typical art gallery “opening.” Sure, there are loads and loads of fabulous pieces of art, patrons swigging back glasses of champagne, but where it differs is that it really seems to be more like a reunion than an opening.

While this year’s show is just the third, it seems like it’s been going on for just about forever. Squeezle and I have been fortunate enough to meet a gaggle of very talented artists and really get a better feeling of where their art really comes from.

One of my favorite things about this show is that it involves artists who do an incredible amount of “crossover” work into the realm of vinyl and resin toys (one of my other obsessions), as well as other media. See if you recognize some of these names: Kathie Olivas (and, by proxy, Brandt Peters), CJ Metzger, Miss Mindy and (former Dallasite) Marie Sena.

Squeezle and I have purchase multiple pieces from each of these artists and consider ourselves very lucky to have had the opportunity to have met them and spent some time chewing the fat.

All-in-all, it’s a party with just about everything I love about a nice chill weekend. It’s got booze, it’s got green chile, it’s got art, it’s got friends and it even has tattoos (Marie is an incredible tattooist as well as an incredible artist). If you throw in a soccer match, I’d think I had died and gone to heaven.

What I’m saying is that you should go to Santa Fe and definitely go to POP Gallery. At the very least, spend some time with their website and pick out a piece or dozen you’d like to add to your collection. What, you don’t have a collection? Well, it’s high time you got in touch with Michael and Sharla to get one started for you.

If you’re there on Memorial Day Weekend, let me know and I’ll buy you a beer.

Bastard little circus punks

March 2nd, 2010 No comments

I suck at Skee-Ball. There, I’ve said it. I also suck at most carnival-related game (even though all of them are fixed in one manner or another), so I had little hope for Iconfactory and DS Media Labs’ little torture device of an iPhone/iTouch game Ramp Champ.

I’ve been a fan of Iconfactory for a whole mess of years, so the game caught my eye when I was looking for a new time waster a few months ago. I played it a couple of times and then jumped right back to my standby of Bejewelled to numb my brain. A couple of weeks ago, however, I came back to Ramp Champ. I had it in my head that I could earn a few more trophies (three are available per “ramp”) and maybe even earn enough tickets to buy some cool in-game trinkets.

Did I mention I suck at games like this? To date, I have one trophy each in the four ramps that come standard with the game: Clown Town, Breakwater Bay, Space Swarm and the Icon Garden. Wait, I have two in the Icon Garden now (I got you, you bastard Moof). Anyhoo, my lack of being any good at the standard ramps made me venture into some of the expansion ramps that are typically available for a pittance in order to expand my trophy collection. Not only do the new ramps come with new trophies, but they also come with new crap you can buy with your virtual tickets. Sure, it all just ends up being dusty pixels on dusty pixelized shelves, but who am I to laugh in the face of reward-based instant gratification?

The coolest thing about Ramp Champ is the huge variety of little targets that pop up after being knocked down in a certain order. In Grave Danger, for example (part of a Halloween expansion that I just wasn’t going to say no to), depending on which tombstones you knock down determines what pops up. Kill the three tiny stones with crescent moons on them and a moon appears. Hit the moon and a full moon appears along with three wolves. It’s Skee-Ball, so you get nine chances to get all the points you can muster, so I’ve not managed to see what happens past knocking all wolves down.

The real secret is to figure out a way to knock down multiple targets with a single ball. It’s tricky as hell, but there are certain techniques (I like to think) that maximize the potential for double and triple target clearance.

I’ve spent 45 minute jags just doing round after round after round trying to uncover new sections of a ramp while getting so infuriatingly frustrated that I really wanted to throw my phone across the room. To me, that’s the sign of a damn good game. Despite the fact that a trained chimp could probably score thousands of points more than me, I’m not giving up on Ramp Champ.

Stalin’s got nothing on me

January 18th, 2010 No comments

I’m a hoarder. I’ve mentioned it before and I totally own up to the fact that I probably have a pathological problem.

The thing is, I don’t give a rat’s ass. I enjoy my behavior. In fact, I can’t even bring myself to watch the crazy Hoarders show on A&E because it depresses me that packrat behavior is the new disease of the week.

Part of my natural cycle as a hoarder is occasional periods of purging. I get tired of the piles of crap around me and want new piles of crap. Over the years I’ve attempted to steer these periods of pseudo-asceticism towards a definable goal: be it the digitization of my massive music collection (an effort in grand fail) or, my current purge, “redefinition” of my toy collection.

I’ve got a metric crapload of toys. More importantly, I’ve got a metric crapload of toys from a company that has pissed me off with their practices and quality (read this; it almost mirrors my feelings). Therefore, I am dumping Western vinyl like crazy.

This is a good thing. I’m sure I’ll fill up just about the same amount of space with Eastern counterparts, but at least (I hope) I’ll be able to make a transition.

It’s actually a fun exercise. It’s like going into your house and saying, “Everything blue has got to go!”

Change is good.

Do not jack with my jawbreakers!

December 18th, 2009 No comments

jawbreakerI’m a candy junkie. Oddly enough, however, my habit did not form until I was well into my 20′s. I’m almost convinced that it’s related to my body’s craving for alcohol, but I can’t prove anything.

Anyway, I loves me some candy, and, therefore, I can motor through a crapload of the stuff if given the opportunity. On several occasions I have easily polished off a pound bag of Runts and once even got through three gigantic boxes of Hot Tamales before I lost all feeling in my tongue. Yes, I do almost everything to excess.

The one way I have found to curb my excesses is jawbreakers. Even most dime-sized jawbreakers are resilient under the power of my chompers, so I usually take my time and actually pace myself when it comes to the damn little thing.

Unfortunately, unless it’s Halloween or if I’m near one of those creepy candy stores that all malls seem to have, jawbreakers just aren’t in abundance in retail environments. Sure, there are those wacky quarter machines near the front door of most grocery stores, but, after hearing about a news story here in Dallas when I was a kid where a man used one of those machines to get a handful of peanuts and ended up with a couple of newborn baby rats, I’m pretty much out on those clockwork deathtraps for anything other than Homiesand those sticky jelly hands that you can whip out and grab things with. That pretty much leaves me with Wonka Everlasting Gobstoppers as an option at most retail outlets.

This isn’t a bad thing. I grew up on the long yellow box of color changing Gobstoppers, and really have a sense of nostalgia for the indescribable flavor the little monsters have.

Sleeves of three Gobstoppers are a Halloween mainstay, so I’ve been pretty good for the past couple of months. Yesterday, however, I had me a huge craving and none in sight, so I bounced down to the local grocery and picked up a couple “movie sized” boxes (what does that even mean?) of the little boulders to get me through the next couple of weeks.

The invective that came out of my mouth after opening up the box I choose not to repeat here, but I was irate. Gone were the dime-sized, multi-layer balls of sugar; replaced by a smaller ball about the diameter of a plain M&M. Worse, the candy was not scaled in kind, but rather, reduced to merely two color layers before hitting the packed candy powder center. Bottom line, I can crunch through these things like a rat baby’s skull.

Damn you Wonka, damn you straight to hell. I know it’s all really Nestle’s fault, but, just for this slight, I’m going to avoid both Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp movies for the next month or so.

What? Did Gobstoppers last too long and you weren’t able to sell enough boxes to keep your candy-coated yachts afloat? Are children’s bones getting so brittle from modern living that jawbreakers are becoming contraband? Why, Willy, why?

That’s it, I’m headed out to buy me a 5lb tub of Atomic Fireballs.

Categories: food, monkey, Ravings, Vice

I’m like the techno-Jesus

December 11th, 2009 No comments

poplar_wine_rack_product_pageAbout a week ago I got saddled with a project at work that was the ultimate definition of “last-minute.” This little project was so time-sensitive that I got it at 4PM and it really needed to be up and out for consumption by the next morning. Things like this put me in a really foul mood and make me not all that pleasant to be around. Coupled with an already festering bad attitude and I was approaching meltdown even before I got that deep into the mess.

When 2:30AM rolled around I was pretty much deliriously toast. In this fugue state I do unpredictable things: generally involving my PayPal account.

When the dust cleared and I was checking my email the next morning, I came to the realization that I had ordered 32 mini Fortune Cats (made by RealxHead) from Lulubell Toy Bodega. I already had a mess of the little one-eyed freaks, so it wasn’t that big of a shock, but then I got to thinking about just where in the hell I might be able to put these guys once they arrived.

I’ve spent the better part of a week digging around the interwebs for a cubby-like shelf system that would allow me to display the optimal number of these two-and-a-half inch beasties with the minimal amount of used space. I knew exactly what I wanted, but just couldn’t find a reasonable solution.

All that bitching about me “not feeling” the future I felt I deserved when I was eight years old got thinking about my little shelving dilemma. Using my favorite illustration program, I could plot out exactly what I needed to make what I needed, but I’m not the greatest about translating plans into physical deliverables. In addition, I’m notorious for hurting myself when I’m playing with powertools.

Ponoko to the rescue!

I’d used Ponoko a little over a year ago to manufacture some acrylic pieces that I turned into zipper pulls. Basically, Ponoko is a New Zealand-based company that will take your designs and turn them into physical items. More simply stated, they have laser cutters a mess of materials to choose from and a couple of standard sized sheets that you can work with.

I was able to scale my shelf design to their largest sheet size(the P3) and I picked out a nice birch veneer. The whole thing (materials, cutting, shipping) cost me around $51, about $40 cheaper than any analog I had found on the web so far. That gives me more money to buy more kitties with. Plus, I get the added bonus of having shelves “from the future” since they were cut out with freakin’ lasers!

If you don’t feel like making up your own designs, Ponoko also has a storefront where you can peruse and buy designs that other people have made. Many are even offered for free.

Now I play the waiting game. In less than a month I’ll have my big chunk of laser-carved wood that I can snap out and assemble Lincoln Log-style into a groovy grid that will hold my plastic crap.

Carpentry, your future is now.

Categories: Awesomeness, Useless Junk, Vice

Gimmee, Gimmee, Gimmee!

November 30th, 2009 No comments

I’m a horribly hard person to buy presents for.  First off, I generally buy whatever I get a hankerin’ for and nip the whole concept of waiting to receive something totally in the bud. I’m all about the instant gratification. I know, I know, patience is a virtue and all that shit, but I really suck at it.

Since I’m attempting to be all preemptive this week (believe me, it won’t last), I thought I’d throw out a few suggestions as to what I would like this year. Almost all of it is pie in the sky, but it really doesn’t hurt to put it out there in case it sparks something in someone. These are also in no particular order, but some grouping is involved as my strange logic sees it.  OK, here we go.

1977 Triumph Bonneville Silver JubileeTriumph-Bonnie-SJ-1977(3)
I’ve wanted this motorcycle for several years. It’s probably the single reason I have a motorcycle license (though I do enjoy tooling around town on my Vespa).  This bike is pure badass. I’ve had the opportunity to purchase two over the past three years, but passed due to stupid things like one being in England and the other being somewhere in Iowa, but I will possess one of these someday. At this point, I’d be happy with just about any model of Triumph Bonneville, but my heart really really lies with the ’77 Silver Jubilee.


vanson33House Industries/Vanson Leathers Vanson 33 Jacket
This goes right along with the Bonneville.  I’ve been a huge fan of House Industries for over a decade and have really loved the direction they have taken their typography. This jacket first came out a couple of years ago and I have wanted it ever since. Gotta have the right jacket with the right bike after all.


BBON_11Vanson Model B with Bones Jacket
Long before the Vanson 33 jacket, the old-schooler in me wanted this jacket something fierce. It’s got a pre-paunch Jerry Only vibe to it, and I believe it comes with a membership to Cobra Kai. Vanson also makes a set of deerskin leather gloves with skeletal hands on them, but that might be a bit excessive. Besides, I’ve got knit gloves from Balzac that already have that (of course).


ratfink-teeHouse Industries Rat Fink Shirt
People fall into two categories: they either love Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s Rat Fink, or they hate him. As with much grotesque stuff in the world, I love me some Rat Fink. Much to the chagrin of many (and probably Disney the most), Rat Fink is as much a part of popular culture as Tony the Tiger or Toucan Sam.  Hmm, Rat Fink cereal.  I might be able to get behind that.


pixies-minotaurThe Pixies, Minotaur (Limited Signed Edition) Box Set
I love the Pixies. Their music holds a prominent position in the soundtrack of my life from high school forward. The Pixies music combined with Vaughn Oliver and Simon Larbalestier’s amazing artwork makes for a seriously dangerous combination. I really can’t think of many other bands (at least any not with 4AD releases) that have album art that affected me quite the way the Pixies’ artwork did and Minotaur just gathers all of that up in a 25+ pound bundle of joy. We are talking 5 CDs, 5 LPs, 6 BluRays, 6 DVDs, two books for about 150 pages of artwork, a giclee print and a poster. To top that all off, this edition is signed by all the Pixies and Vaughn Oliver. The only thing missing is a tour of Fort Apache.


bertie-wwrAshley Wood – World War Robot – Berties
As previously mentioned, I’m a huge sucker for plastic crap and an even larger idiot for comic books. Ashley Wood is a stupidly talented artist from Australia who has been lucky enough to transition some of his cooler works into toys. As part of his World War Robot line (which was an awesome comic in itself), Ashley has teamed up with threeA to release a mess of the robots from the work.  I’m partial to the Berties and the Brambles, but I’d also never turn down a Large Martin. The styling on these little plastic bastards is just amazing and the accessories and articulation are enough to cause even the most exclusive toy collector to drool uncontrollably.


logitech-dinovo-mini-keyboardLogitech diNovo Mini
I love my media PC (even though it’s really a Mac Mini). Nothing makes watching downloaded movies and television easier than having a computer hooked up to your TV.  The one major pain is the keyboard and mouse.  With my current setup, I’ve got a Gyromouse and accompanying keyboard that handle the job, but are a pain to coordinate and the keyboard is full size.  This little bluetooth monster (it even has a little lid!) were designed with media PCs in mind. Back-lit in several colors, integrated mouse controls, it even comes with it’s own power adapter!  Did I mention I need two of these things?


flepiaFujitsu FLEPia
I love my Kindle. Since I’ve gotten it, I have been able to tote a book just about everywhere I go. Now that it has a native PDF reader, I might even be able to use it for some sort of work application (don’t ask me what quite yet). The one thing the Kindle lacks is a color screen. In fact, almost all ePaper eBook readers don’t have color screens. There are a couple with a small color feature that does little more than provide a place to click on to get through to other parts of books, but no standard color screen.  Fujitsu came out with one in Japan called the FLEPia and I want it for one reason: comic books. As I mentioned before, I have a huge comic book habit and a limited amount of time per day to sit down in my inner sanctum to read them. Much as I’ve done with the Kindle, if I had a way to easily transport my weekly comics electronically (many companies are offering digital downloads of comics nowadays), I’d be caught up. These things aren’t really available in the US yet, but that’s not stopped me from obtaining tech from those clever Japanese in the past.


the-ripperClassic Powell Peralta Skate Decks
Back when I spent all of my time trying to figure out how to get out of homework, read as many comics as possible and consume as much old-school punk as I could get my grubby paws on; I rode a skateboard a lot.  Sure, I had my share of Santa Cruz and Vision decks, but the Powell Peralta ephemera was always what I lusted for. Back then, anything done by Vernon Courtland Johnson (VCJ) was perfect and magical and a lot of those decks still exist out there in pristine condition, and many have been reissued by the reformed Powell Peralta company.  I’ll also probably need a new pile of Sk8ology display kits to go along with the decks.


That’s about it. I probably should have thought about breaking this into a series of postings that would have allowed me to go into more details on each of these tasty items, but that would have required work. Is it too late to also ask for a Red Ryder BB Gun?

Resolute

November 30th, 2009 No comments

Well, it’s that wonderful time of year again. I’m referring to that time of year where the general populace makes promises to themselves in full knowledge that they have no intention of keeping said promises. The icing on the cake is that many people genuinely get disappointed with themselves for failing themselves on something they never intended to do in the first place. No wonder we have so many ads for depression and anxiety meds on television and in print.

Generally, I do not partake in the making of resolutions because I’m horribly impulsive and also pig-headed when it comes to making changes that, while do seem worthwhile and probably healthy, inconvenience me and make me change my already meticulously orchestrated routine. At the very least, resolutions should be considered more “sound ideas” than these horrific monstrosities that everyone seems to portray them as.

That being said, I’m attempting to be proactive right now. My first step of pro-activity is by trying to change my behavior now, at the cusp of the holiday season, before I get wrapped up in the tumbling miasma of holiday “cheer,” and before 2010 shows it’s ugly, misshapen head.

Sound Idea #1: quit smoking
I’ve been a casual smoker for a very very long time. Sure, I’ve had the nicotine monkey on my back something fierce a times, but, for the past decade at the very least, smoking has been more of a social hobby for me than anything else. I don’t needthem to survive my day to day. I’ve even gone on months long jags where it just doesn’t sound good, but I always come back. Cost doesn’t even seem to be a big deterrent. While I shudder each time I shell out eight dollars for a pack, I still haven’t had the gumption to bother quitting.

Saturday I decided that I had my “last cigarette” on Friday night. The concept of “last cigarette” is a massive failure in itsself.  If you have a defined jumping off point for something like smoking, it gives you something dangerous to focus on. By deciding after the fact, I’m hoping, I don’t have the opportunity to psyche myself out with such inane thoughts as “It’s been 27 hours, 14 minutes since my last smoke.” I’m not like that generally, but I could see it happening.

Sound Idea #2: dry out a little
I’m a drinker. Unlike my approach to smoking, though, drinking rates as much more a serious hobby. There are probably six thousand psychological reasons why I like to drink so much, but I could care less: I just like the booze.

To be fair to myself, I have cut down significantly over the past several years. It is my belief that once one enters their 30s, one must either devote themselves to full time alcoholism or cut back on that party lifestyle that made the 20s so marvelous. Since I’m still scared shitless of Leaving Las Vegas, I had little choice but to cut back. By cutting back, I’m only actively seeking a night of drinking two to three times a week as compared to my five or six previously. I still probably drink too much on those nights where I get my drink on, but that’s what I would like to address presently.

I’m a social creature. When I think about going out to hang with my friends, going to a bar is the first logical choice. It’s like those places were designed to sit around in the dark with your friends and a beverage. I cannot even comprehend what non-drinkers do when they want to hang out with other non-drinking friends other than gather in their Mother’s basement to play D&D (which I’ve had a horrible nostalgia for). Therefore, I’m going to keep going to the bar.

Scarily enough, not drinking is a lot easier to do than not smoke. Since I always smoke a crapload more when I drink, I think that leveraging drinking against smoking is going to make the first sound idea work out well. My only big flaw in not drinking is that I do not drink soda products. I cut those out of my life, for some reason, almost fifteen years ago. It’s a good thing I like water. At least I’ll get a good jump on flushing out all those toxins.

Wish me luck.

Categories: monkey, Ravings, Vice