PBW: Stillwell Runs Bleak

I'll be glad when Winter is over. I'm already looking forward to longer, sunnier days, even though it only got cold around here a few weeks ago and I've yet to shovel snow. I'll stop jinxing myself for now.

Sunday actually was warm and sunny compared to most of the days we've been having, but I promised my folks I'd help some more with cleaning out my uncle's house. By the time I dismantled his kitchen table and loaded the pieces into my trunk, the world outside had turned gray once more. Undaunted, with a Photo Blog Wednesday mission to complete, I left my family and set out for Stillwell Woods. A network of trails on Long Island primarily used by bikers, it was one of the few wooded areas I had never explored. The entrance is set back behind several playing fields, and a horrific howling resonated from the trails beyond. I took a few cautious steps, trying to decide if I was hearing dogs, wolves, geese, or any combination of the above locked in deadly combat. I opted to walk a bit further before entering the trail system, emerging in a large open field where some people were flying model planes in the distance. I still didn't see the source of the bestial cries.

I explored a few trails tentatively, where mysterious rustling turned out to be nothing more than birds. I spotted a Cardinal but the underbrush was too thick for a clear shot. I spotted another one, but it flew off too quickly. It was cold, and many of the trails were muddy. Rather than rely on my sense of direction, I backtracked to the first field. In the distance, two dogs of unknown species ran free, ahead of their owners. I stood frozen in the middle of the field, realizing they were blocking the entrance to the trail that lead back to my car. I waited, half pretending to watch the small planes flying overhead, concentrating with all my might not to make any sudden movements or smell afraid.

Soon they left, on the trail I needed to take. I followed cautiously, and got back to the first field in time to see them pile into a truck with a dog trainer's mural on the side. I suppose holding back isn't always necessary, but it's better to be safe than bitten. Without any colorful or interesting subject matter to shoot, I made my way back to my uncle's house to help pack some more boxes.

I'll be glad when Winter is over. Brighter pictures have to be in my future....



MCF's Perilous! V Questions

Wow! I can't believe there have already been five editions of MCF's Perilous!, can you? I provided 20 answers for which my readers had to come up with the corresponding questions and post them on their blogs. Scoring was as follows:

1 pt=each question
2 pts=each question that matches MCF's
-1 pt=any sentences not in question form, or forgetting a question mark
15 pts=Bonus for the Best Question

This was a special week indeed, for once these totals are tallied, one of you will be a WINNER! I don't mean in the sarcastic sense that people might refer to me as a “winner”, either. Next week, we'll start fresh with a clean scorecard and the first of another five rounds, so tell your friends it's a great time to join in! I haven't decided if I'll call it round 6 or 1B or something less confusing.

Here's how everyone fared:

Round 1: Darrell R1 21
Round 2: Darrell R2 20
Round 3: Darrell R3 38
Round 4: Darrell R4 21
Round 5: Darrell R5 21
Total: 121

Round 1: Scott R1 20
Round 2: Scott R2 22
Round 3: Scott R3 23
Round 4: Scott R4 23
Round 5: Scott R5 36
Total: 124

Round 1: *NAME HIDDEN* R1 21
Round 4: *NAME HIDDEN* R4 17
Total: 38

Round 1: Lorna R1 20
Round 2: Lorna R2 21
Round 4: Lorna R4 35
Round 5: Lorna R5 20
Total: 96

Round 1: Kev Bayer R1 20
Round 2: Kev Bayer R2 11
Round 3: Kev Bayer R3 20
Round 4: Kev Bayer R4 20
Round 5: Kev Bayer R5 14
Total: 85

Round 1: Otis R1 21
Round 2: Otis R2 29
Round 3: Otis R3 23
Round 4: Otis R4 24
Round 5: Otis R5 22
Total: 119

Round 1: Rey R1 21
Total: 21

Round 2: Wendy R2 20
Round 3: Wendy R3 25
Round 4: Wendy R4 24
Total: 69

Scott got the 15 point bonus for question #14. Well done!

And our first winner is Scott with a score of 124! Good show! Check your inbox for your mysterious master prize, a file called “Geminon.jpg”....

How many prizes are there? What happens if you collect them all? Could there be only one way to find out? Will I ever stop asking questions? Are these the questions I was thinking of this week?:

1. A one-inch vertical scar.
What was inexplicably on my face below my left eye the morning after my last karaoke adventure?

2. Fat Albert.
Which live action cartoon adaptation had a surprisingly moving and emotional conclusion?

3. Initially, I was convinced there were two different actresses.
What impressed me about Kim Novak's performance in Vertigo?

4. “Can you dig it?”
What's the best line from the famous speech in The Warriors?

5. 010010000110111101110111001000000111011101101111

How would you write this question in binary?

6. Donald Sutherland.
Who disappointingly won't be playing Jack Bauer's father?

7. A rap battle.
What would I say I did well in at a party back in college?

8. Because he's just that white.
Why would MCF write down rhymes in advance for a freestyle competition, and twelve years later refer to it as a “rap battle” and think he did well?

9. “Ice Ice Baby, to go, to go...”
How might a Karaoke machine mess up the refrain to Ice, Ice, Baby?

10. You would explode on contact.
As explained in the movie Time Cop, why would a time traveller want to avoid running into a past or present version of himself?

11. Mash up leaves in a plastic bucket full of water.
As a child, what was I doing when I told the neighborhood kids I was making “protoplasm”?

12. His black costume.
What will Spider-man soon be seen wearing in the New Avengers?

13. A room full of college girls in their underwear.
On a college trip, who danced around Rey without reservation or concern?

14. No, I'm 98% sure that she already knows that story...
Will the previous question get Rey in trouble with his wife?

15. They would be stone by day.
What ancient curse plagued the Gargoyles?

16. Terminator 3.
What would you call a presidential race between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hillary Clinton?

17. He was there to show kids people like him could be handicapable, and to explain alien technology to aliens.
What role did Chip Chase fulfill on The Transformers?

18. The dimwitted son of a garbage man.
What was one of Matt LeBlanc's first sitcom roles?

19. It was impossible to land.
What is one of the many flaws in the Top Gun video game as cited by this reviewer?

20. To get an “Innie”.
What is one frivolous reason to have surgery on your belly button?



Phantasmic Links 1.29.07

Sunday was an interesting day. My cousin brought over a table and a bookcase from my uncle's house, and he and his father marveled at how small our basement had become. My mom did get rid of a few boxes though, since she had gone through old photos and found ones she decided her brother could have, ranging from pictures of them as children to pictures of my cousin as a child over 40 years ago. And my dad managed to get rid of the larger of the two televisions my mom was reluctant to part with, by disassembling it. “You just don't want me to have anything...” sulked my mom, while he innocently said he did it to make it easier to carry. He also got a shock apparently, since as most people may or may not know, those things store electricity long after they've been unplugged. It was yet another reminder of how lucky I am to still have my dad around.

It was a sunny day and I wanted to take pictures, but I also wanted to help them (hopefully) finish clearing out the other house. We got a lot done, and threw a lot away, and though clouds gathered, I took a break to head for some nearby trails I mapped out. Either people were training dogs there, or there was a pack of wolves, but I heard some terrifying howling. I did get some interesting shots though, and I'm debating whether to show those later this week or the three weeks of pictures from my uncle's house. I'm leaning toward the former since I'm tired of the latter, but I'll decide in a few days.

Maybe I should take a page from our cat Cubby's book; that feline knows how to spend a Sunday afternoon:

Now sit back, relax, and click your worries away with this week's PHANTASMIC LINKS:

Nehring's latest cinema carnival is up, and you should definitely check it out, and not just because I'm among the links this week...

This Hamster Launching Game pretty much nails the award for most addictive game of the week, if there were such a prize. This awesome time-waster comes to us from TheWriteJerry.

The Quantum Sleeper offers a resting place that's not the least bit likely to induce claustrophobia. This one's for the weary and the paranoid, courtesy of J-No.

Here's one more from Jerry: What would Star Wars® be like in Glasgow? It sounds really specific, but it's funny.

NYCNomad sent me a link this week to Ken Robinson, a motivational speaker. He's very funny and inspirational, but I found myself angered by his accurate description of how our society stifles and discourages creativity. Listen especially to the story about the fidgety young girl.

The Slogan Maker has probably been linked to here before, but someone reminded me about it this week. I just tested it and got “Just do MCF” on my first try. I'll be placing t-shirt orders as soon as I finish this post...

Paper Optimus Prime will smother your puny rock, and I'm not sure your scissors can handle him either. Thanks to Curt.

Curt also sent me this link to Star Wars® reenacted with hands.

B13 also sent me the hand wars video, but Curt beat him to it. Fear not true believers, for B13 had plenty of other phantasmic fun this week, including bears on a playground, the fascinating octopus, and a recipe for beatboxing. I'm going to have to mix up a batch of that last one...

A prehistoric shark recently was sighted. There are some truly fantastic things on this world, and we've seen but a fraction of them.

Why is Superman crying?

Does anyone want to buy the Ecto-1?

Metisse is a pretty interesting new Linux desktop. It is both 3D and foldable...

Is Darth Vader more effective as a PSA than a father?

Have a link to a game, movie, article, or anything else you think might be “phantasmic”? E-mail me and it just might appear in an upcoming PHANTASMIC LINKS!



The Light is a Train

One morning this week, I awoke to find my father sitting in the dark in our dining room, a weary king in a matriarchy filled with boxes.

“MCF, I've got a problem.”

“What's wrong?”

“What am I going to do about your mother? We've got three more boxes in the car from your uncle's, and a bag of rocks.”


“Rocks. From the yard. We don't have enough rocks in our yard? I don't know where we're going to put everything. Don't say anything to her though; you'll just get in a fight.”

Over the years, I've accumulated more than I've parted with. I save movie stubs. Toys have sentimental value. Furniture has sentimental value. Comics have value both monetary and sentimental. In many ways, I can understand where my mom is coming from. All the years her brother remained in that house, she never had to say goodbye to the stuff that was there, the things that once belonged to her parents. Though she moved out and got an apartment, and later married my dad and started a life in her own house, that stuff was always there. Now she must part with it. But, as I stubbed my toe on an old laundry basket and my dad trailed off into old man grumbling about getting himself an apartment so we'd have more room here, I realized that sometimes you do have to part with things.

After a two day tag sale, a lot of items remained. I placed an ad on Craigslist, my first experience with that site, and response the following Saturday was overwhelming. I even advertised some of my spare comics and sold a few issues. My mom was so impressed by the response that, while she intended to only do the sale for one day, asked me to extend it. Last Sunday the response wasn't as great though, and once more we had to pack things away in boxes. It was starting to feel like there was no end in sight, that every weekend we would be packing and unpacking old books, glassware, sneakers, and more.

During this past week, my mom asked me to put a new ad up with her cell phone number. I listed most of the major items that were available, and anyone interested could meet us at the house. I mentioned comics in passing, and nearly every inquiry we got was about comics. No one was interested in the ones I had left, though. Midway through the week she decided to do another sale this Saturday and asked me to change the ad. I hoped for a massive response. The more we sold, the less I'd have to carry home.

Things didn't go as well as last week. Some large pieces of furniture finally went, but we were still boxing things. But now sale of the home is final, and we can't continue this indefinitely. Everything has to be cleared out this week, so the stuff packed up this time went not in the back rooms, but into our cars. My mom isn't going to keep it all, but rather bring it in to a thrift shop in a few days. As I filled the last open areas of floor in our dining room and basement, I remembered a year ago when the only thing my mom intended to take from that house was her old piano. Even though a lot of these boxes are temporary additions, a lot will still remain.

My mom's been staying up late every night, going through boxes and sorting and consolidating. I think she's consolidating more than she's actually getting rid of. We have two televisions that she's held on to for a long time, that my dad finally got her to agree to get rid of, in exchange for him agreeing to let her take home two tables. One large set, originally from our living room, displays static when it overheats. A smaller one from her room turned on sporadically, and my dad and I bought her a replacement months ago. I took a vacation day on Friday, and found my mom fiddling with the small set. I looked at my dad who sighed, “I missed the garbage man by five minutes.” My mom was intently working with the antenna and hitting the side of it. “It was just working...we can sell it if I can get it to work...” I was standing there holding bags with birthday presents for her, small things like snacks, a scarf, gloves, a jigsaw puzzle and a CD player. It's very hard to consider bringing new things into this house right now. When I told her that it was just a fluke that the television worked that morning and she quipped like I was a child, “There are no fish swimming around in here,” I dropped the bags on the couch and decided to come back when she was feeling more sane.

I'm glad that after this weekend, there will be no more driving back and forth to the other house. We've done a fantastic job clearing it out for the new owners, and the small residence seems huge with only a few boxes and pieces of furniture in it. The basement is completely empty, and all that remains in the attic is a chair, a bookshelf, and one box of stuff, all things my mom is planning to keep. My cousin is also going to bring over two benches and the aforementioned pair of tables on Sunday. After that, one house will be empty, while another will be very full.

We're finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel which, unfortunately, seems to be a freight train. Perhaps my mom will donate a lot of items to the church thrift shop. And maybe all her talk of consolidation isn't wishful thinking, and she'll find a way to organize the basement so there's room to walk once more. I'm thinking that, come Spring and warmer weather, we might have to have a sale or two here. If that doesn't work, then we'll need another house, or at the very least another floor...


Hitting the Ceiling

Theoretically, we should always be improving. Whether it be art or writing or our jobs or driving or whatever, the more we do something, the better we get. The unfamiliar becomes familiar, and where we once struggled to find a solution, we learn what works in certain situations. Faced with the same problem, there's always a tried and true method to fall back on.

The problem with growth is that there are limits. Physically for example, once we attain our maximum height, we're there for the rest of our lives. In fact, by the time we're elderly, we may even start shrinking. Can this be true of our skills and talents? If every year is better than the last, and the bar is continually raised, is there ever a point where a year is the same as the previous one, or worse, somehow less?

A plateau is a tough place to be on, and worse when you don't realize you've become complacent. It's like in Rocky III, when the boxing champ enjoyed a long winning streak, until he learned that none of his opponents were at his level. I may have reached that point in my career. I don't want to go into too much detail, because while I leave both my real name and the name of my company shrouded in mystery, I try not to discuss work for fear of being ”Dooced”. I also know the detailed specifics of my job will only interest two or three of my readers. Suffice it to say, my annual performance review wasn't bad, and acknowledged all the hard work I did last year. The problem was that I didn't do anything different or special, and the challenge issued to me for 2007 is to change that.

I've proven I can handle any heavy workload, and that I'll never miss a deadline. I’m a team player with a positive attitude and a friendly manner. But in many ways, I've fallen into a rut. I can get my work done because I have a rotating arsenal of basic design templates that I know are acceptable. After more than a decade of being a designer though, I'm starting to think there are only so many ways of designing certain things. And then there's the jaded voice of experience and other workers lurking in my subconscious, telling me not to take any critique seriously, because ultimately something has to be criticized to justify a smaller raise or a lack of a promotion. It's easy to get jaded like that, and yet it would be foolish not to address a criticism. If it is valid, then it should be remedied, if not for one's current job then for one's own skill set for the future.

Just doing my job isn't enough; I'm supposed to do that as a bare minimum. This year I'll have to be more creative, and come up with some radical things that get noticed, that I can be proud of. I have to find inspiration, and not be content to quickly win a “fight” and go on to the next one. I have to try.

The other day, when I reminisced about learning the Mac, I thought a lot about the stuff I designed in college. That stuff really sucked. It was bad. I had the barest grasp of color and type, and I used a fraction of the full capability of the computer software. Some days I wondered what I was doing in a classroom with real artists, and how I would ever find a job after graduation. The stuff I did for my first job wasn't anything special, but designing for a purpose rather than a class assignment gave me a little more focus. I have made progress, and I can say I'm a lot better than I was ten years ago. I even added InDesign to my arsenal in 2006, and with practice I'm beginning to feel really comfortable and confident in a new program. The technical aspect of my job has never been a problem though, and I always learn quickly in that regard. I guess all those video games paid off. The software isn’t a struggle; it’s what I create with it.

I have no idea what I'm going to do differently in 2007. I have no idea how. “Be more innovative” is, to me, a vague statement. The first step, which I'm wrestling with right now, is to assess whether or not I truly have hit the ceiling. Can I go any further with my talent? Given time, I probably could take a second look at some of my designs and revise them drastically. That's my other challenge, because the workload and deadlines are still there. I can do something acceptable and on time, but I might do something fantastic but late. Sometimes I feel like I'm expected to do both, leading to rambling paragraphs of analysis and introspection with no clear conclusion...


Ablogger says what?

Darrell has done this exercise in which he takes an excerpt from someone's blog, translates it into another language via Babelfish, then translates that back into English where hilarity ensues. Rey recently did the same thing to one of his own posts, which was already created using voice recognition software.

I'll be honest; I have nothing profound nor trivial to say right now. It's been a long and trying week, and I've worked late and missed gym two nights in a row. I'm completely burned out creatively and feeling very unmotivated and uninspired, so instead of my words I'm going to rely on your words. To make things a little more interesting though, I'm not going to say whose words are getting scrambled up front as Darrell did. See if you can guess who said what before clicking each of the 10 excerpts below:

1. When I first will start the appointment my future and the current wife, I have helped her stemming from the jam she am. She has a love dog named she to nurture Abby since her is the puppy. The Abby nine years old and my wife's landlord could not let her stopping over at that time in hers apartment. So, is the generous person, I am (perhaps), I decided, Abby and I stayed in my wife left together in mine house for the next three months her lease.
(English to Chinese and back)

2. I started this as blog because I love abso-friggin-lutely the music of the metal heavy and I feel drawn to write on it, of an angle or another one, the time to the time. I love the metal. I grew above in it. I age teenager in 80's, during the height of the popularity of the metal, and I never stopped to appreciate it. I always do not think of I will. I am certain that I will spend I rest of my life that I read books comic, playing the games video, and crankin' above of the metal.
(English to Portuguese and back)

3. I had a little negotiations with my following neighbor of door (by mat'yu of dears of girl and husbands putz), and 4 ogorchenn to report that it seems that it passes more than a little the cells of the brain. The poor thing probably did not have much, was which necessary to begin s, and sudyashch to difficult life which it it bears on its side, Lethe assumed duty upon it this will be they gave by woman it disturbs in order to have a talk s, is which that it it has a tendency to make 2 things thus far vklyuchayushch in discourse with me.
(English to Russian and back)

4. Now you can include/understand because my husband one found that it sleeps under two layers of the sleeping bag and my cat one found that is moved around one of my feet.
(English to Italian to French to English)

5. Really, I do not mean this. Well, I mean to say "geja'soy," and I mean you to wish the happiness, but this entire thing of "new year" it is good arbitrary - and I think that it should it is better - known for the challenge of problems from, what for his revelry and reduction of balls.
(English to Greek and back)

6. I am a large aerator of the legion of super heroes. My father redeemed their first verschijning in the fifties ' (yes, it in pockets is done and and worth concerning grand embarked) and he let study its first born zoon each of their adventures by the seventies. By most of the eighties ' and nineties, I bought comics in their several incarnations and collect today the version of Waid of the sign of the teenager heroes of the future.
(English to Dutch and back)

7. Me it gets married, me marriage it loves, it loves my wife. The marriage savage for of the shoes futures and the mankind, all the few people will not be good but and quite the man who will be being a condition which is only there is a life first thing flesh l possibility inside lonely creating of being sufficient me it thinks.
(English to Korean and back)

8. This last six-month period I took a class of drawing. I calculated that it slackens, and that may be which is entertainment. It was incorrect. It was an enormous portion of work. With solved 3 hours twice a week. It was really more for which it had stipulated, but never I fell a class before thus I stuck it out.
(English to Spanish to French to English)

9. all O connected by that, with the usual attacks at the work, in order to receive things battened down for the holidays, has me away from recently blogging and it is held, I a probability receives only now there, a fast entry for the cooked egg to in addition-sit and exist. At the moment in the small calm point between the manufacturing of the preparations for Christmas and the large daily landing on us, I receive the probability, somewhat in addition-sit and to write out.
(English to German and back)

10. A friend once that he is said that the clinical definition of the madness is a person who renders several times the same precise thing while completely she holds account of various turns out to you. I do not know you specify that the definition is but important center sees its: if conserved to repeat of the errors an at least six moron.
(English to Spanish to French to Italian to English)


I'm a Mac.

In the Summer of 1992, prior to starting college, my parents and I met with one of my future professors to discuss my major. While I was certain I wanted to major in Fine Arts and become a comic book illustrator, a perusal of my portfolio at the time led him to wisely steer us toward Graphic Design and commercial art. To be honest, I didn't fully understand what that was, but I would soon learn.

I struggled with those classes that first year, with the monotony and precision required. Layouts were hand drawn, as were the crop marks at the corners indicating where a design would be trimmed. For those who don't know, most printed pieces are designed with bleed, usually an eighth of an inch larger than the final page, package, or whatever, and then trimmed. Today computers can place crop marks, but when I was a freshman I had to draw them, and draw them exactly an eighth of an inch from the trim, and make them no longer than three eighths.

It was boring and I was bad at a lot of it. I started to wonder if my driver's education instructor was right in telling me to become an accountant when he heard I had a 98% average in math after high school. Some days I still wonder about that. But then, I saw my first “real” computer.

I had dealt with basic computers before. In elementary school, they were connected to cassette players and data was actually stored on the same tapes used to record audio. In middle school, I dabbled with a very basic machine known as a Wicat. I still remember my username, which was my last name and the first two initials of my first name, because I eventually used that for my e-mail account.

In middle school I also learned Logo, a drawing program in which a person had to type commands for a small turtle on the screen. If you wanted to draw a clockwise circle you had to type “CIRCLER” for example, while a counterclockwise circle was achieved with the command “CIRCLEL”. Retaining knowledge that will never, ever serve a practical purpose is fun! I even had a computer attachment on my Intellivision, and I thrilled at Basic programming and making ASCII characters do jumping jacks or making the word “sex” scroll infinitely. 20 GOTO 10!

So what was the first “real” computer I encountered? After a semester of working with rubber cement, metal rulers, X-acto knives and tracing paper, I was impressed with gaining entry to our school's “computer lab”. In it we had what I believe were two Macintosh Classic II machines, though a fellow alumnus like Rey might better remember the exact model. All I know is that even then they were old machines with yellowed casings and black and white monitors. The monitor and computer were one unit, with a floppy disc drive, and no longer did we have to paint letters by hand. Now we could type! Now we had...FONTS! Granted, we had about twelve, but it was a step in the right direction.

Somewhere in my basement there is a wine bottle filled with water, on which a badly designed label appears. This was my first Mac creation. I typed something in a word processing program, then saved it to a floppy disc. Next I took the disc to Kinko's, where the contents were printed on a clear acetate. Then I could overlay that on top of a colored pencil sketch of grapes, photocopy it all on to one page, and my work was done! Today I would use a high resolution photograph of grapes, choose from thousands of fonts, and composite everything on a computer screen before sending it off to a printer. Back then things were severely limited.

Thankfully, by my sophomore year we had a real computer lab with Quadra 800s and later Power Macs. Suddenly we could choose colors and had more fonts! We could scan in photographs and very quickly were making posters for parties using childhood photos of our friends or superimposing our faces on different bodies. The possibilities were endless and the operating system was incredibly self-explanatory. You could click a menu with a mouse to see basic options like “save” or “print”, and the corresponding key commands like “apple+s” or “apple+p” were equally logical. There was a simple hierarchy of folders in which we could arrange our files and applications, dragging and dropping with ease, and best of all, no programming language was required. It was the most user-friendly machine I'd ever encountered, and thousands of dollars out of my price range. Some students opted to buy less expensive Mac clones for their homes. I spent many a late night in the lab getting my homework done.

My first job after college had very basic machines compared to what I was used to. We had a pair of Quadra 800s and one Quadra 650 that was basically a typewriter, good for little else than word processing. The Mac OS we had on the 650, System 6, was slow and prone to a lot of deadly secrets. Naming a folder with a period at the beginning was bad; naming one “.sony” if memory serves was deadly. But, we did have really cool AfterDark screensavers on the other machines running System 7 and, in between scanning photos, making type corrections, and other grunt work, I learned to customize them. Sometimes my face would bounce around the screen. At one point, I created an entire wallpaper of photographic Avengers by manipulating pictures of people in the books we were publishing. Alas free time, I knew it, readers.

Eventually we got our boss to cave and buy us better monitors. They came with “Ready for Power Macintosh” stickers, which I taped on each of them. Eventually, we got our Power Macs. In my time with that company I maintained our whole network of machines, a chain of new and outdated models linked by a fragile coaxial cable. If the cleaning people tapped it with the vacuum cleaner, the whole system would go down. At home meanwhile, I finally got a Power Mac G3 Tower. I was running OS 8 and loving all the third party features that had been implemented. Once to “windowshade” and close a window by double clicking it we needed to obtain a plugin, but by system 8 that any many other nifty things were native to the platform. I even had a Zip Drive, and loved that I could store 100 MB of information on a solid small square a little larger than a 1 MB floppy disc, and much smaller than the clunky 44 MB SyQuest cartridges we dealt with at work, often mailing to printers in Hong Kong, and getting back in worse condition. After time they sounded like lawn mowers, but were still too expensive to replace. Prices on hardware and media had dropped drastically in the few years I was out of college, but not by much.

These days, you can get a lot more for a lot less, and fit a lot more on CDs and DVDs than you could on any disc. Most PC hardware is cheaper than Macs, and while a lot of the software I use in my profession was once exclusive to the Mac, you can now get Photoshop and other programs for any computer. I still have an easier time navigating on a Mac because it's what I'm used to, but I have used Windows and things aren't radically different. “Save” is still “Save”, even if I'm using an “alt” key instead of the “apple” key for a shortcut. PC hardware is far more affordable, but Macs are less prone to viruses since most are written for the more prevalent platform. With the introduction of Intel Macs, we're now living in an age in which the same hardware could run OS X or Windows. In college, I would defend my Max vehemently, and once got into a heated argument with a PC guy at a party. Now I acknowledge the benefits of both, prefer the Mac which I'm comfortable with, but miss the wide range of games I could be playing if I had a PC.

I love my iMac G4. It's served me well, and after a few years my biggest problem was a dead mouse, which I later learned could have been replaced with a much cheaper PC model. I imagine eventually things will level off, as Macs incorporate PC advantages and vice versa. I'm happy with my small network for now, my G3 “Homer” and my G4 “Marge”. I think Apple still has a trendy stylistic advantage, continuing to be clean and simple on the outside as well as in the operating system. iPhone is the latest in a series of trendy items preceded by “i”, as the iTrends continue. I still think anyone with the barest computer knowledge could navigate a Mac after a few minutes, while the PC learning curve might be a little steeper.

And, that's the story of why I'm a Mac. Which are you?



PBW: Muttontown Ice

Remember that time I got lost in the Muttontown Preserve? Well, there were a few structures I didn't get to see, and I had a free hour or so on Sunday in between shopping for my mom's birthday and helping with my uncle's tag sale, so I decided to try again. Unfortunately, the section with the Chelsea Mansion was closed when I arrived. I did find a break in the fence and was brave enough to venture in to get a picture of a gazebo amid weeds, but not further into the estate. However, Photo Blog Wednesday wasn't a total loss as frozen ponds and streams offered a different view of a previously visited location.



MCF's Perilous! V

At last, destiny lies before you. Questions will be raised, and heroes shall stand tall in the face of the answers, as round five of MCF's Perilous! rocks the planet. Are you asking the list? In one week, one of you is going to stand proud with the first of a finite number of prizes. Every five rounds there will be a new winner. Win them all to solve the greatest mystery of all. Last round things were close with a few players, but who knows what will happen this week...

Below, you will find 20 answers. You will have one week to come up with the corresponding questions and post them on your blogs, leaving a link to your post in the comments below. Next week, I'll reveal the questions I was thinking of, along with everyone's scores.

Points carry over from one installment to the next, and after five rounds the person with the most points can redeem them for the first “prize”. After five rounds, the scores will reset, and every five rounds a new winner could potentially gain a piece of the Mysterious master prize. Here's our current scoring system:

1 pt=each question
2 pts=each question that matches MCF's
-1 pt=any sentences not in question form, or forgetting a question mark
15 pts=Bonus for the Best Question

Will you face the perils below and attain the maximum points possible? I can't wait to read your questions. Here are the next 20 answers:

1. A one-inch vertical scar.

2. Fat Albert.

3. Initially, I was convinced there were two different actresses.

4. “Can you dig it?”

5. 010010000110111101110111001000000111011101101111

6. Donald Sutherland.

7. A rap battle.

8. Because he's just that white.

9. “Ice Ice Baby, to go, to go...”

10. You would explode on contact.

11. Mash up leaves in a plastic bucket full of water.

12. His black costume.

13. A room full of college girls in their underwear.

14. No, I'm 98% sure that she already knows that story...

15. They would be stone by day.

16. Terminator 3.

17. He was there to show kids people like him could be handicapable, and to explain alien technology to aliens.

18. The dimwitted son of a garbage man.

19. It was impossible to land.

20. To get an “Innie”.

Good luck, heroes...



Phantasmic Links 1.22.07

Another weekend has come and gone, as have two more days of running a tag sale at my uncle's. Response on Saturday to an ad placed online at Craigslist was overwhelming, but as with last week there were fewer people on Sunday. As I helped my folks and my uncles pack everything up once more, it seemed like we had more stuff rather than less, though that isn't the case. Of course, coming home to this house with all the things my mom has saved from the other one is a quick reminder of just how empty the other house is getting. I guess progress has been made on one front.

Let's kick off a new week with this week's PHANTASMIC LINKS:

Pertinent to the situation at my uncle's house, our house, and every facet of life in general, ”How To Get Rid of Stuff” is probably going right into my bookmarks, even though I already have too many site locations saved as it is. I like their stress advice, especially #13 which I practice regularly...

The story of this collapsed salt mine and the lake above it is absolutely fascinating. Thanks, B13!

B13 also sent me some important gaming news: Who ya gonna call on your XBox 360?

A house can have many security flaws visible to a would-be intruder. Can you spot them all? Hat tip to Rey.

If you had fifteen seconds to address the world, what would you say?

Can you spot the ghost in the video? Link found at Sean's.

Here's another cool one from B13: An inventor devises hi-tech battle armor for soldiers.

Who would want a toothbrush to put the Village People in his head?

Brain Drop is a short yet challenging game in which you must slide platforms to allow gold but not silver spheres to fall through to the bottom.

Finally, I leave you trapped in Swan's Room. Can you escape?

Have a link to a game, movie, article, or anything else you think might be “phantasmic”? E-mail me and it just might appear in an upcoming PHANTASMIC LINKS!



Revisiting 202 Movies

When Jeff posted a list of The Top 100 Movies of All Time, I was happy to see that I'd caught 83 out of 100. As of Saturday night, with a viewing of Vertigo, I'm happy to report that number is now a solid 100 out of 100. (I wonder if I won Kelly's race to see every movie on the list?)

I liked this list a lot. I agreed with the inclusion of most of the titles, and as I caught up I found most of those other movies deserved to be there as well. Vertigo was great, possibly my favorite Hitchcock movie after North by Northwest and Rope, especially after I pondered the two possible interpretations of the film. And while I wasn't sure whether or not I had seen Vertigo when I first posted this list, I was a little disappointed in myself to realize I was thinking of High Anxiety and most definitely not this classic masterpiece. Mea culpa. The spoof focused on the barest of cosmetic elements from the original though, so I really had no idea what to expect and came in completely cold, enjoying the surprises it offered. The second I noticed that I'd “seen” the opening rooftop chase scene before since films such as The Matrix and Dark City paid homage to it, I realized I know nothing of movie history. A staggering amount of films have been influenced by Vertigo.

There are hundreds of thousands of movies in the world, and I know I'll never see them all. Beyond the mathematical impossibilities, some don't interest me while others are just not that good. Currently, I've rated 1,519 titles through Netflix, but that includes television shows on DVD. I'd still say I've seen over 1,000 films in 32 years, so I'm not doing too badly. I don't want to see every movie ever made, but I do want to see all the best ones, and the ones enjoyed by most everyone I might come in contact with. Let's take a look at that list again, along with how I've rated each one on a scale of one to five:

1. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back*****
2. Fight Club*****
3. Pulp Fiction*****
4. The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King*****
5. The Shawshank Redemption*****
6. GoodFellas*****
7. The Godfather*****
8. The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring*****
9. Jaws****
10. Donnie Darko*****
11. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope*****
12. The Usual Suspects*****
13. The Matrix*****
14. Raiders Of The Lost Ark*****
15. Se7en*****
16. The Godfather: Part II*****
17. Gladiator*****
18. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind*****
19. Aliens*****
20. Sin City*****
21. The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers*****
22. LA Confidential****
23. Taxi Driver*****
24. Die Hard*****
25. Batman Begins*****
26. Back To The Future*****
27. Schindler's List*****
28. Spider-Man 2*****
29. The Big Lebowski***
30. Heat*
31. Reservoir Dogs*****
32. Blade Runner*****
33. Terminator 2: Judgment Day*****
34. Alien*****
35. X-Men 2*****
36. Annie Hall****
37. Léon*****
38. Casablanca*****
39. Apocalypse Now*****
40. Memento*****
41. Jurassic Park*****
42. It's A Wonderful Life*****
43. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest*****
44. Monty Python And The Holy Grail*****
45. The Third Man****
46. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly*****
47. Toy Story 2****
48. A Clockwork Orange****
49. Moulin Rouge!*****
50. The Apartment*****
51. The Wild Bunch****
52. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial*****
53. Trainspotting*****
54. Raging Bull*****
55. City Of God*****
56. Stand By Me*****
57. The Thing****
58. Scarface (1983)*****
59. Airplane!*****
60. The Silence Of The Lambs****
61. Blue Velvet****
62. Seven Samurai*****
63. Citizen Kane*****
64. 2001: A Space Odyssey****
65. Shaun Of The Dead*****
66. Pirates Of The Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl*****
67. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind*****
68. Lawrence Of Arabia****
69. Halloween*****
70. The Searchers***
71. Rocky*****
72. Once Upon A Time In The West*****
73. Platoon*****
74. Kill Bill: Vol. 1*****
75. Magnolia*****
76. The Deer Hunter****
77. The Shining****
78. American Beauty****
79. Fargo*****
80. Chinatown****
81. Saving Private Ryan*****
82. Vertigo****
83. King Kong (2005)*****
84. Goldfinger*****
85. The Wizard Of Oz****
86. Dawn Of The Dead**
87. Requiem For A Dream****
88. The Terminator*****
89. Psycho****
90. Brokeback Mountain***
91. Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love the Bomb****
92. The Bourne Supremacy*****
93. The Incredibles*****
94. Some Like It Hot****
95. Spirited Away*****
96. Rear Window*****
97. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre***
98. This Is Spinal Tap*****
99. Forrest Gump*****
100. The Exorcist****

So, where do I go from here? Well, a few months before I tackled this list, I examined a list of the ”102 Essential Movies”. I didn't do as well, with a mere 38, and the first one I tried, The 400 Blows, was good but didn't grab me enough to continue with the others. The title of today's post is a bit innacurate in adding the totals of both lists though, since about 35 titles overlap, but that might mean I now have a higher score on the “Essential” list:

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey*
2. The 400 Blows*
3. 8 1/2
4. Aguirre, the Wrath of God
5. Alien*
6. All About Eve
7. Annie Hall*
8. Apocalypse Now*
9. Bambi*
10. The Battleship Potemkin
11. The Best Years of Our Lives
12. The Big Red One
13. The Bicycle Thief
14. The Big Sleep
15. Blade Runner*
16. Blowup
17. Blue Velvet*
18. Bonnie and Clyde
19. Breathless
20. Bringing Up Baby
21. Carrie
22. Casablanca*
23. Un Chien Andalou
24. Children of Paradise / Les Enfants du Paradis
25. Chinatown*
26. Citizen Kane*
27. A Clockwork Orange*
28. The Crying Game
29. The Day the Earth Stood Still
30. Days of Heaven
31. Dirty Harry*
32. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
33. Do the Right Thing*
34. La Dolce Vita
35. Double Indemnity
36. Dr. Strangelove*
37. Duck Soup
38. E.T. -- The Extra-Terrestrial*
39. Easy Rider
40. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back*
41. The Exorcist*
42. Fargo*
43. Fight Club*
44. Frankenstein
45. The General
46. The Godfather*, The Godfather, Part II*
47. Gone With the Wind
48. GoodFellas*
49. The Graduate*
50. Halloween*
51. A Hard Day's Night*
52. Intolerance
53. It's a Gift*
54. It's a Wonderful Life*
55. Jaws*
56. The Lady Eve
57. Lawrence of Arabia*
58. M
59. Mad Max 2 / The Road Warrior*
60. The Maltese Falcon
61. The Manchurian Candidate
62. Metropolis
63. Modern Times
64. Monty Python and the Holy Grail*
65. Nashville
66. The Night of the Hunter
67. Night of the Living Dead*
68. North by Northwest*
69. Nosferatu
70. On the Waterfront*
71. Once Upon a Time in the West*
72. Out of the Past
73. Persona
74. Pink Flamingos
75. Psycho*
76. Pulp Fiction*
77. Rashomon
78. Rear Window*
79. Rebel Without a Cause*
80. Red River
81. Repulsion
82. The Rules of the Game
83. Scarface (1983)*
84. The Scarlet Empress
85. Schindler's List*
86. The Searchers*
87. The Seven Samurai*
88. Singin' in the Rain
89. Some Like It Hot*
90. A Star Is Born
91. A Streetcar Named Desire
92. Sunset Boulevard*
93. Taxi Driver*
94. The Third Man*
95. Tokyo Story
96. Touch of Evil
97. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
98. Trouble in Paradise
99. Vertigo*
100. West Side Story*
101. The Wild Bunch*
102. The Wizard of Oz*

The ones with a red asterisk (*) in this case indicate the ones I've watched, 52 out of 102(technically 103 since The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II were paired together). So, I'll try to work the other 51 into my rotation going forward, amid new movies and other classics not listed here. I'm sure I'll succeed eventually, only to find someone else has compiled a subjective list of titles, and the cycle will begin anew. Either that, or I'll end up like Burgess Meredith in that Twilight Zone episode in which he was the sole survivor of a nuclear war, finally with enough time to read all the books in the library, only to have his glasses fall off and break. In my case I'd have a full collection of DVDs, but only a Blu-Ray player will have survived the devastation with me...


A Karaoke Adventure

I'm not going to have a voice when I wake up, but it was so worth it.

After studying business in Japan, my old high school buddy developed a taste for Karaoke, and in the early part of this decade while he was living in Manhattan, frequently hosted the most insane parties. There were dancing girls, vodka everywhere, and at one point puppets. He filmed a lot of it and in an age before YouTube, aired the “episodes” on a public access channel.

As sometimes happens in life, we lost touch for a while. The last time we hung out was about two years ago, and I recently found him online and contacted him. When he invited me to “kick it 2001 style” and come to a Karaoke party on Friday night, I realized it had been even longer since I'd made a fool of myself with a microphone and enjoyed it.

Back in the Fall, one of my friends at work tipped me off to a great free van service our company offers. Since the trains run more frequently near my job than they do by my house, a night in the city is simplified by this service. I leave my car at work, get a free ride in on the van, and take the train back to my car later on. I met up with my friend and met his girlfriend, and caught up on the last few years over some pizza before meeting everyone else at the Karaoke place.

Since I'd eventually have to drive, I opted not to drink too much. My friend's girlfriend made an amazing combination of apple juice, vodka, and papaya juice. I had a glass or two and didn't notice any effect on me. I'm sure the fact that I was standing on a couch belting out Danzig's mother fifteen minutes later had nothing to do with it.

I guess we eventually had 10 people in the room, and a good blend of veterans as well as newcomers. Some of the first timers were wary, but I got them all on their feet during the heavy portion of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, and by Bon Jovi's Living on a Prayer every soul in that room was on his or her feet singing in one big circle. Another high point of the evening was my friend demonstrating his mastery of Snow's Informer, which he's honed over the past decade. There weren't many low points, although I found Journey's Wheel in the Sky and Styx's Renegade to be ambitious choices. I've never had a problem singing either one in my car, but those choruses are a lot higher than I realized.

The selection of songs was awe-inspiring and I can’t possibly list everything we sang or rapped. After four hours, I wasn't ready to leave but other people were tired, and a room does get expensive over time. Outside in the main bar area, the place was packed, so it was good that we started as early as we did to got the room. On the way to a hot dog place, I nearly got sidetracked by a comic book store with a half-price sign that seemed to be open after midnight. We're doing one more tag sale at my uncle's this weekend though and after placing an ad for it online and getting an inquiry about comic books, I decided to try and sell some of my doubles and beat-up copies. I still can't part with my core collection, and I definitely shouldn't add to it. I caught up with the group.

There was a sign in the hot dog place cautioning customers that prices were subject to change based on our attitude. I was careful not to irk the girls behind the counter, but later on with a snarkiness worthy of Questionable Content baristas, we watched the manager rip in to a customer for not realizing that the bathroom was hidden behind a sliding panel that looked like ordinary wood siding next to an old phone booth, and she had to buzz him in to the concealed chamber from behind the counter. It was all very surreal.

Back to the Future Part III was playing on a nearby television. One of the girls thought it was some Western, but then recognized an actor she referred to as ”Doc Hollywood” because she “could never remember that guy’s name.” Now that made me feel old. At least last week I got carded at the Vaeda show. Does the fact that being asked for I.D. flatters me make me old?

On the way to the train station I had an interesting conversation with a cab driver who wanted to know the exact geography of Long Island and roughly where I was taking the train to. He suggested that an hour train ride could be accomplished perhaps in 45 minutes by a taxi, but I told him I wasn't sure. Finally he mused, “the train is probably much cheaper, yes?” I looked at the meter, which in a few blocks already cost more than my train ticket would, and replied, “definitely.”

After making my train and catching a connecting one, I was ready for a nap. I overheard the conductor tell a guy in the seat behind me that he had gotten on the wrong train. She told him which station to get off at, to transfer back to the junction and pick up the correct train. Across the aisle, a girl spoke up that she was in the same predicament. Despite the fact that the next stop was a railroad service facility and not the station the conductor told either of them to get off at, both of them disembarked. As we pulled away, they were on the platform looking bewildered. I'd like to think of it as a romantic How I Met Your Mother scenario. I could just imagine the guy talking to his children several years from now, telling them the story of how he met their mother back when they were both morons on public transportation...

Back to my car at last, a little before 3 AM, I made the greatest possible discovery. I had left a bottle of water in my car, which acted like a freezer in this cold weather. It was an amazing thing to have for my throat on my ride home. And now, my adventures chronicled while still fresh in my mind, I shall pass out for several hours before I go work at a tag sale. I'm surprised I'm this awake, but I always feel juiced after doing fun stuff.


In Case Anyone Careys...

”I wonder what Sinead O'Connor is up to...” So did a random instant message from Rey pop up in the afternoon, to break up the monotony. Always responding to randomness with more randomness rather than inquiring about context, I shot back, “I wonder what Diedrich Bader is up to?”

My friend accurately surmised that I'd later be checking up on the cast of The Drew Carey Show and see where everyone is now. It was a quirky show about a hapless loser working in an office, amused and distracted only by his strange childhood friends, and for some reason I identified with Drew. He managed through sarcasm to often dismiss and be crushed by his problems within the same sentence. A nice guy who generally meant well, he never knew when the world would turn on him.

In a wholly unrelated story, I pulled out of a parking lot at lunch today and cut quickly across to the shoulder to avoid a school bus barreling down the road. I stopped a few feet from an old man crossing the street. As I sat waiting for the bus to pass so I could pull back out into the road, the old man stopped, turned, and stared at us. I gave what I thought was a friendly wave, letting him know I was in no way going to hit him, and he was free to continue on to the sidewalk. Bewildered, he resumed his walk, and paused again on the sidewalk. Though my windows were closed as I pulled back into the street and continued on my way, all of my passengers and I clearly heard the man scream “A**HOLE!!!” at me at the top of his lungs, which were clearly in good shape at his age. Hey, that's life. Anyway:

Drew Carey played a character of the same name, working in human resources. After the success of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, he continued doing improv with Drew Carey's Green Screen Show, and loaned his voice to a character in Robots. One fact I discovered that I did not know, was that the actor and comedian also does sports photography, and has had images published under a different name.

Ryan Stiles played Lewis Kiniski, a janitor at the fictitious DrugCo. He's done improv on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, and in 2006 appeared several times as a doctor on the sitcom Two and a Half Men.

The aforementioned Diedrich Bader, already a notorious H!ITG! by my standards from films such as Office Space, played Oswald Lee Harvey. Where Lewis was brilliant but deranged, Oswald was his simpler foil. Bader continues to show up in small comedic roles, from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back to Napoleon Dynamite to Eurotrip, and you can catch him in the upcoming Balls of Fury(title hat tip TheWriteJerry?)

Christa Miller played Kate O’Brien, rounding out Drew's childhood friends. They had an on-again-off-again romance, which I believe Drew screwed up after inadvertently marrying her while he was already married to someone else. Miller, niece of Susan Saint James, left the show prior to its last two seasons to regularly devote more time to her role on her husband Bill Lawrence's hit show Scrubs, where she continues to be today.

Kathy Kinney played Drew's heavily eyeshadowed rival Mimi, and has appeared on both of his improv shows. She recently showed up on an hilarious My Name is Earl, portraying a police officer in an episode shot almost entirely as an episode of Cops.

Craig Ferguson, who played Drew's boss Nigel Wick for the majority of the show's run, now hosts his own late night talk show. Fun fact: his first credited role was on an early episode of Red Dwarf, playing Lister's personified Confidence.

Cynthia Watros certainly made an impression on me when she joined the cast as Kellie Newmark, another childhood friend and potential love interest for Drew after Kate's departure. By the end of the series, the attractive blonde became the mother of Drew's first child and married him. Watros went on to join the cast of Lost, and I'm hoping this season to learn more of her back story in a mental institution....

The series ran for nine seasons and had big name guest stars and recurring supporting characters too numerous to mention. I think we're caught up on the whereabouts of the main cast now, in case anyone cares...



After yesterday's technical woes, I might zig and rant about how I can't function if I unplug from the Matrix. Technology makes our lives better, yet there's as much of an addiction and dependency as with a controlled substance. I spend plenty of time out in nature, but at the end of the day, whether I've been hiking in the woods, hanging out with friends, or sitting in front of a computer at work, I still come home and turn on my machine right away.

I'm going to zag now, and talk about something far simpler than technology, but no less necessary. Janet asked ”What one toiletry item could you never live without and why?”, which is a ridiculous question because if there's only one item then it must be toilet paper. There is no other item more important. The one time I went camping for real in the woods with tents, as opposed to subsequent stays in trailers with full facilities, I managed to go three days without creating the need for toilet paper. There was one bug-infested facility that was too gross to approach, and I wasn't hardcore nature boy enough to contemplate leaves. I think we all know that with me, I would find poison ivy or oak or something to cause a rash. No, a seemingly infinite roll of paper to create layers of safety is a must, and something technology has yet to replace or improve on. I don't want to know what the deal was in Demolition Man with the three shells.

Well, that's probably far too much information. If I could choose two items, then I'd have to choose floss next. There's nothing worse or more embarrassing than going to the dentist for a cleaning after slacking in the flossing department. I always feel like I'm taking a test, too. Things are going good, the scraper isn't finding anything in the front where the toothbrush reaches, and then they find that one spot, maybe on the bottom row behind one of your back teeth. You hear that first ugly sound of the metal, and then the hygienist goes to work like she's excavating some archaeological treasure. After an experience like that, I'll usually floss excessively for the next few days, then taper off to once a day for the next few months, then I might have a month where I get lazy. One day I look at a calendar and realize my next cleaning is coming up in a few weeks. From that point on it's like I'm cramming for a big exam, and flossing resumes. So if there were two toiletries I couldn't live without, it most definitely would be toilet paper and floss.

Now, were I to choose three items, then minty Listerine would join the group. Maybe the strong stuff is killing skin cells along with the germs that cause bad breath, but I like to feel like a product is working, and like exhaling mint for a few hours before burgers or pizza enter the fray. If every toothbrush in the world caught fire tomorrow but I had unlimited floss and mouthwash for those hard to reach places, I think I could get by. So toilet paper, floss, and mouthwash are all essential.

Deodorant is important too, as is a good dandruff shampoo. That brings me to five items. Deodorant is really just a mask though, so I think a bar of soap would rank higher. Toilet paper, floss, mouthwash, soap, deodorant, and shampoo are important in that order. If I were allowed eight items, I'd tack a toothbrush and toothpaste to the list respectively, because floss and mouthwash really shouldn't do the job alone. Some might consider bandages an important item, but I've managed with tape and paper towels whenever I was working, out of bandages, or simply didn't have the time to address a cut properly. In a world without bandages, I could always MacGuyver something.

So in conclusion, toilet paper, floss, mouthwash, soap, deodorant, shampoo, a toothbrush, and toothpaste are the toiletries I can't live without. If I had a ninth wish, it would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace. Actually, nail clippers would be more crucial than that crap about the kids, so let’s make those ninth....