Welker vs. Weaving

I don't want to be one of those fans.

There are people in this world who are passionate about the things they love, but people can be more passionate about things they profess to hate. They'll go to a movie, and register their disgust online immediately, like Comic Book Guy. I'll watch an episode of Lost, enjoy the storytelling and the twists(this past week's was especially twisted), and then go online to find message boards flooded with people who hate it. “I'm done with this.” “This show sucks.” “That didn't answer any questions!” The haters dominate the boards, and it mystifies me that they don't simply stop watching the show and instead spend more time talking about it than the people that do. I usually shrug and close the window, and the day I get drawn into a fight about a movie or a television show on a message board is the day someone needs to put a bullet in my brain.

I've approached the upcoming Transformers movie with that attitude. I don't expect an exact duplication of the 1984 cartoon, nor should I. There have been comic books and cartoon spinoffs, and it's been over 20 years. Inevitably, there will be changes as the variety of source material is adapted in to a cohesive, modern live-action movie. Bumblebee might not transform into a Volkswagen Beetle because the filmmakers didn't have the rights to use that vehicle, but the Chevy Camaro is pretty cool and as long as the spirit of the character is intact, I don't mind the change.

Optimus Prime, the heroic Autobot leader, is best known as a red and blue Cab over truck. In the movie, he will be a Peterbilt 379. In robot mode, his head is similar to his animated forefather's, but he has a radically different paint job otherwise, blue with flame detailing. It's an odd choice if these alien robots transform into vehicles to blend in on our world. But, I haven't seen the movie yet, so I'll have to reserve judgment until I see how the plot leads to this alternate mode. The spirit of this character will probably be intact as well, as original voice actor Peter Cullen reprises his role.

Now, the latest “controversy” seems to be in the casting of a voice actor for Megatron, Prime's evil nemesis. In the past week I've read conflicting reports based on a cryptic message on Sector Seven, a site marketing the film. It seems that Hugo Weaving has the part, and not Cullen's original costar Frank Welker. I can guarantee that anyone looking at Welker's resume will have seen some cartoon featuring his voice, even if they haven't seen the same ones I have. Of course, fans were registering displeasure, and I have to admit to some disappointment myself. Having two stars from the original series would have been a nice nod to the older fans, and the other changes wouldn't seem so bad in light of such symmetry. But the movie opens July 4th, so I had to wonder if they were in fact not only still recording, but still casting.

My skepticism was not unique, and I read conflicting reports. Finally I came across some comments that Weaving didn't even know about these rumors, and the studio was trying to create buzz to get the fans talking, knowing that the internet would be in an uproar and the revelation that it was Welker all along would be insanely well received. It was a strategy too good to be more than wishful thinking on the part of these posters, and U.S.A. Today and some other sources seemed to confirm the Matrix and V for Vendetta star was in fact voicing the villain, even if IMDB has yet to be updated.

I don't want to be one of those fans. Maybe this movie will be great, or maybe it will be horrible because of the changes and twenty other reasons. I'm not going to rant on message boards; it's bad enough that this is a topic on my blog. The problem with those fans, and one of the reasons studios aren't too concerned with their wishes, is that they're still going to see the movie. Even with reservations, I wouldn't be kidding anyone by announcing a boycott. It's giant robots and explosions; there's no way I won't be in the theater on opening day or a day or so after.

There's not a lot of love for voice actors in Hollywood. If they wanted a Megatron that sounded like Weaving, and wanted someone with Transformers history, David Kaye might have been more palatable to the fanatics. Weaving isn't a bad choice, just a new one. Sometimes a casting change is hard to accept, like when soap operas get a different actor to play the same character without a plastic surgery backstory, and everyone else acts like it's the same person anyway. When Cullen didn't reprise his role as K.A.R.R., it was a noticeable difference. When Christopher McDonald supplied the voice for Superman in two episodes of Batman Beyond, fans definitely missed Tim Daly, who had the role in the prior continuity. Daly didn't reprise his role in Justice League either, but then George Newbern sounded enough like him that it worked out fine.

A recent clip also indicates that, after all this time, Welker's rendition of Megatron may not be what it once was. Maybe that was a factor in auditioning as much as the desire to cast a celebrity, but to be fair the old series did add some electronic distortion. For now, it seems like Weaving has the part and not Welker, but I'll probably read the opposite a few more times between now and July. I'll close with some classic clips of what was and might have been, and what might be.

Optimus vs. Megatron in the 1986 movie:

Weaving's most famous villain:

David Kaye's Megatron (II) in Beast Wars:


MCF Might Know

I was surprised while visiting an old college friend a few weeks ago, when my host interrupted me to ask, “What's IMDB?" After about four people said, “Internet Movie Database" in near unison, I went on to explain that any time I see a movie or television show, and wonder where I've seen an actor or actress before, I'll log on, and commit their name to memory. “Man," said my friend, “Tell me MCF wouldn't be scary in Trivial Pursuit."

How is it that one of my smarter friends had never heard of such a popular site? Here was a skilled painter and illustrator, a fellow cinephile, and a guy who had gone back to school to better support his family, and was in the midst of a six year pharmacy program. Earlier he showed us some of his thick textbooks and frighteningly complex notes. I guess once you commit the nervous system to memory the way a mechanic might study a wiring diagram for a car, other information shifts aside. I don't think I'm any different from anyone else, but I guess a lot of my surfing consists of looking up the answers to trivial things I'm curious about. And for whatever reason, though anyone can use a search engine, a lot of times I find things quicker than my friends could. A lunch conversation will often lead to me seeking more information upon my return to a computer.

TheGreek suggested this week that I start a second blog focused on all the celebrity connections and other useless information in my brain. I think that might be redundant, and lately I've had trouble keeping up with this blog, evidenced by the fact that I went to sleep last night without posting and am now scrambling to catch up. Maybe this could be the start of a new feature though, and readers could e-mail me questions about things they want to know, or even just to try and stump me. Since no one's done that yet though, I'll go with some questions I've answered in the past:

”Why do some of my friends end their e-mails with the letter “J”? Is that some kind of emoticon? What does that even mean?”

It is an emoticon, though not the way you think. This most commonly occurs when someone on a Mac corresponds with someone on a PC. Rather than an ASCII smiley, :), the PC user opted to put in a single character from the font Wingdings, which will appear as a smiley if the recipient has the same font, and his or her e-mail hasn't lost the typeface in translation. Otherwise, the corresponding character in a default font will appear, which is the letter “J”.

”Where have I seen the guy that played Samson, Tommy's rival for Jenny's affections on The Black Donnellys?

That would be James Badge Dale, whom 24 fans might remember as Chase Edmunds. Other familiar faces on the show include the Donnelly matriarch Helen, played by Kate Mulgrew of Ryan's Hope and Star Trek: Voyager fame, Kevin Corrigan, best known for his Grounded For Life role, and the ominous Peter Greene, from Pulp Fiction and The Mask. As soon as Zed gets there, you know it's going to be a real party....

”How big are traffic lights?”

You might not realize it since you're never up close normally, but a traffic light is almost as big as an average human being. I drove by some workers this week in the process of putting up new ones, and was amazed to see the size relationship. You can actually purchase a used one, if you're so inclined, 44" tall with 12" lenses. And in London, an artist made a bunch into a Christmas Tree Sculpture, something to slow down and stop to admire before you go on.

”What is your real name?”

Sorry, we are out of time. J

* M * C * F * * M * I * G * H * T * * K * N * O * W *

Is there a question you can't find the answer to? MCF might know...



The Ultimate To-Do List

On Tuesday, my old friend Rey celebrated his 33rd birthday(A.K.A. “third palindromic” per Scott of Scoboco). He humorously pondered what well-known people in various fields had accomplished by that age, and how much he still had left to achieve. Of course, in some cases, people got more done because their lives were shorter back then, while in others there's simply a reason why they're famous and the rest of us aren't.

I joked about my own to-do list, which Rey quipped he'd like to see. Here now is that list. Some are things I will achieve in my lifetime, while others I will not. There are dreams, realistic and otherwise, and goals, realistic and otherwise. Some are important; others are quite trivial. Some are just silly; you decide which is which. It's the ultimate list of things I should be doing, would like to be doing, or think about doing. If I get around half of these checked off in the next 30 to 70 years, I think I can leave this world with no regrets.

In no particular order:

• Buy a house.

• Host the best barbecue ever and invite all of my friends.

• Get married.

• Read the complete works of Tolkien, beyond The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

• Sire a male heir to carry on the “Whorenelli” name.

• Score higher than “300” in Boom Shine.

• Finish updating my resume.

• Become independently wealthy.

• Embark on the mother of all cross-country road trips.

• Complete reading the last 100 pages in the last book of Dark Tower Series.

• Watch every single movie seen by everyone I know, or will know, or read about.

• Watch every single television series of interest seen by everyone I know, or will know, or read about.

• Did I mention becoming independently wealthy?

• Brave an ocean flight and visit Italy.

• Buy a new car.

• Get that mole removed.

• Drop back down to 150 pounds at least one more time.

• Visit the Statue of Liberty.

• Train a gang of monkeys to be my loyal hench-chimps.

• Become a Level 20 Arena fighter in Dragon Fable(I'm at level 16; less than 1,000 trophies from my goal!)

• Independent wealth...that'd be sweet!

• Complete Marvel Ultimate Alliance, including all bonuses and unlockable characters and costumes.

• Finish reading A Song of Ice and Fire, once George R.R. Martin finishes writing them(I've read the first three; four have been completed so far and eight are planned).

• Also finish reading The Wheel of Time.

• Sing lead vocals at a rock concert.

• Climb to the top of The Empire State Building(with or without hench-chimps).

• Write more significant blog entries and less filler when writer's block strikes.

• Win a race of three or more miles.

• Attain fame from something creative, be it writing, music, photography or drawing.

• Inspire the world's most successful web comic, and mooch off that person's wealth.

• Find a cure for every major disease, including psychosomatic ailments.

• Get over all my fears.

• Obtain everything from Steve Martin's Christmas Wish.

• Play through Fantastic Four a second time, getting all the items and unlockables that I missed the first time I beat it.

• Figure out how to turn Web 2.0 to my advantage.

• Finish this list and get some sleep.

• Everything else I need to get done in my life, that isn't already listed here.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

So, what do you have left to do?


PBW: Back to Caumsett

Cubby was ready to regale you all with his prolific prose this week, as he struck that classy pose. Had I not returned from Caumsett Park on Sunday, he may have had to cover for me. I've been there before for Photo Blog Wednesday, but it's huge, 1,750 acres. I could go many times at different times of the year, and never cover the same ground twice.

After a matinee of TMNT on Sunday, I was eager to stretch my legs, shed some Winter weight, and take in some sunshine. My plans were nearly derailed when I arrived home to find Ma and Pa Kent hard at work in the yard with a pile of branches. My mom said they didn't need help and she was really just keeping an eye on my dad to make sure he didn't rip up any of her flowers by mistake. I ran in, grabbed my camera, and was about to take off again when my dad asked, “Where are you going?” He wanted me to stop behind the local liquor store and grab some cardboard boxes. As the sun moved across the sky, I quickly agreed, and realized as I was loading my car that I couldn't go off gallivanting in clear conscience while they toiled in the yard.

When I got home, he said I could go, but I just grabbed some clippers and started turning the vines and branches into manageable segments, loading the boxes as I went. Within half an hour nine boxes were filled and our lawn was once again visible. More importantly, it was only 3:00 and still sunny. Winter wasn't that bad or that long, but it seemed like forever since I took a really long walk, and I spent an excellent two hours covering about six miles of terrain.

I'll have to check out that walled garden when things are actually growing.

Before heading into the woods, I checked out various structures like a Winter cottage and a brick mansion.

With most of the snow melted, the “No Sleigh Riding Permitted” sign seemed kind of funny. Shortly thereafter, the steep, steep slope proved irresistible, and I ran down it at my top speed, feeling like I was falling with every step before the ground leveled again and I could stop and look back up the hill. I continued on to the beach.

I think those were crickets, or maybe frogs. I never saw them, but they were deafening.

The waves are so peaceful. If I had gotten to the beach earlier or if the parking lot wasn't three miles away, I could have lingered and listened to that sound a while longer.

I wasn't tired when I saw the big tire, but then I opted to take a trail laden with hoof prints and bicycle tracks. The trail kept splitting, always offering 2-3 possible directions. I kept the water at my back and the sun to my right, and I knew I was heading South. The problem arose when the trail I'd been on for a while curved West, then back North toward the beach. I had to back track quite a bit, but soon found my way to a more pedestrian friendly trail.

I saw a lot of birds, but though I kept my distance many flew away just as I took their picture, except for this cooperative little fellow. Afterwards, I tried an idea inspired by something my friend TheGreek had done, and fastened the straps of my camera to the passenger side head rest in my car. Before pulling out on to the shoulderless road leading back to the mainland, I hit the record button and hoped for the best. It's not exactly what I was going for, but you do get a sense of what it's like to drive with me, assuming you always look up at the trees instead of straight ahead at the water and other interesting scenery. We'll call this one a learning experience, and enjoy the fortuitous guitar solo from Avenged Sevenfold's “Bat Country” that I found on the radio.



MCF's Perilous! 2.IV Questions

Round IV of the second set of MCF's Perilous! is over! There's only one more round before our next big winner is revealed!

What is MCF's Perilous!? Well, I provided 10 answers for which you, my readers, had to come up with the corresponding questions and post them on your 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

Each series has five rounds, at the end of which the player with the most points gets a prize. Only I know how many prizes there are, and I know what they form when combined. Even if MCF's Perilous! runs its course before all the prizes have been given out, I'll probably think of other fun ways for you to earn them.

Here's how everyone is faring so far:

Round 1: B13 R1 23
Round 2: B13 R2 12
Round 3: B13 R3 27
Round 4: B13 R4 13
Total: 75

Round 1: Lorna R1 24
Round 2: Lorna R2 25
Round 3: Lorna R3 11
Round 4: Lorna R4 11
Total: 71

Round 1: Kev Bayer R1 38
Round 2: Kev Bayer R2 12
Round 3: Kev Bayer R3 10
Round 4: Kev Bayer R4 12
Total: 72

Round 2: Scott R2 12
Round 3: Scott R3 11
Total: 23

Round 3: Darrell R3 10
Total: 10

Round 3: Otis R3 10
Round 4: Otis R4 26
Total: 36

Otis nailed the 15 point bonus with question #8. Kudos!

Now, here are the questions I had in mind:

1. I'm going to use it to clear all 100 levels.
How do I plan to employ the Konami Code with regards to TROGDOR!?

2. Because at my age, I don't think The Transformers: The Movie is a socially acceptable choice for that.
Why should I give some consideration to what my favorite movie might be?

3. 617.
What three-digit combination to a boat appeared Michael Scofield's tattoo on last week's Prison Break?

4. September 11, 1984.
When did the first three-way tie on Jeopardy occur?

5. “The cowards never started./The weak died on the way./Only the strong arrived./They were Pioneers.”
At an historic site, what quote sums up Jack Nicholson's journey in About Schmidt?

6. Boxey.*
On the original Battlestar Galactica, what was the name of Apollo's adopted son, who appeared as an orphan in the new series?

7. Heroes and Law & Order: SVU
What are two NBC nighttime dramas that have featured Hayden Panettiere as a high school student, albeit vastly different roles?

8. They both went from fantasy heroes to science fiction characters.
What do Kevin Sorbo and Lucy Lawless have in common?

9. Through a crowbar.
How did The Wrecking Crew obtain their powers?

10. B12
What vitamin do I take every day for my nervous system?

* * * * *

* I gave everyone who participated this week an extra point, because I realized I'd left out the “e” in “Boxey”.



Phantasmic Links 3.26.07

I can honestly say that, so far, TMNT is the greatest comic book movie of 2007. Before this statement causes an uproar, let me remind you that 300 was based on a graphic novel and Spider-man 3 hasn't come out yet.

I have fond memories of seeing the first live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, mostly because after a lot of begging, it was the first movie my parents let me see with my friends at night and without adult supervision. The original trilogy doesn't stand the test of time, but after a new animated series debuted in 2003, following the comics more faithfully than the kiddie series from the ‘80s, the time was right for a return to the big screen. Rather than puppets and costumes though, the choice to use CGI was a good one, and well executed. Fans of the comic books and/or the newer series shouldn't be disappointed, though a few details might be lost on newcomers. We don't really get introduced to the cast since this is a rough sequel, so it's more like catching up with old friends to see how they've been and what they've been up to. The brothers have drifted apart without an enemy to fight, and some have turned on each other, so when a new threat arises, there's as much internal conflict to overcome as external. There's also one character included that I wouldn't have recognized if not for the new series, and though this character's background is barely hinted at in the movie, it does plant seeds for a potential sequel that I'd gladly pay money for.

I actually did a lot more with my Sunday than see a nostalgic new film, but now it's time to focus on this week's PHANTASMIC LINKS:

This week, Newsarama provided a timely field guide to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I didn't even know about the comics until I was in college, and I haven't read most of them, so this was a really informative article.

Though I've listed Starship Dimensions in the past, when Otis sent it to me I decided to link to it again, since they've done a LOT of updates. It continues to be one of the most comprehensive online guides to science fiction ships and constructs.

This week, Otis also brings us the PG version of 300, which is every bit as good as the original, but a lot funnier.

Sure, we've all seen plenty of online maps and satellite views of our world, but now WikiSky turns things around and looks outward at the stars. Now you can see how people around the world view the constellations!

Is Hugo Weaving the voice of Megatron in Michael Bay's Transformers? I hope this is a red herring; I've really been hoping the incomparable Frank Welker would reprise his classic role, just as Peter Cullen is. I think voice actors are largely overlooked in Hollywood. Even in the TMNT credits, the supporting cast got first billing because they were all voiced by onscreen celebrities. It does seem late in the game to still be recording dialogue for this movie though, so we'll see if it's true or not.

B13 tipped me off to that last item, and he also told me about Dinner in the Sky. I would be so embarrassed if I dropped my knife...

B13 also sent me this awesome Boom Shine game. I got 256 on my first try, and 270 on my second; that last level is frustratingly hard and took me the most time.

I am Mighty! Rey will be defeated! Hat tip to Rey! Whoops, sorry I'm still shouting. Trailer music does that to me; I wonder if I have epilepsy?

Well, let me check by flying into Zoomquilt 2

Finally, enjoy the Top 15 Unintentionally Funny Comic Book Panels and the Top 10 Action Hero One Liners! I'll buy those for a dollar!

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!



"Kick 'im to the Side!"

Well it's been a while since I've done one of Janet's “Tell It To Me Tuesday" memes, and I've put this one off for a few days until I could tackle it properly. This week she asked, "Who, in your opinion, were the best sidekicks of all time and why?"

She of course meant supporting characters in films and televisions shows, but being a recovering(who am I kidding?) comic book geek, some four color sidekicks will make this list as well, starting with the one who inspired the title of this post:

• • • • • • • • • • • •

When I was touring the university I eventually attended, I visited the offices of the school paper. There the staff proudly showed off their comic strips, including one in which the sidekick was actually more capable than the hero. I thought it was a pretty original idea, albeit crudely drawn, but ill-informed in the exploits of independent comic book characters, I wasn't aware of The Tick and his partner Arthur(probably the inspiration for the student’s idea) until they got a hilarious animated series. The Tick was super strong and nigh invulnerable, but a complete moron. Arthur was a timid accountant with no real powers and a pair of giant moth wings he used to glide around with. In an early encounter with some antagonists, when he introduces himself as the sidekick, one of the mobster quips, “Boys, kick ‘im to the side!” Arthur might not have been a powerhouse, but he was definitely the brains of the operation and I definitely know what it's like when one's sidekick has his act together more than the hero of the story.

• • • • • • • • • • • •

I think when most people hear the name Dick Grayson, they think of Burt Ward in uncomfortably small green briefs slamming his fist into the palm of his hand, exclaiming some relevant word preceded by the word “Holy-!” The televised Batman has the most recognizable incarnation of Robin, but how many people know that several successors have taken on that role in the comics, or that Dick eventually grew out of the shadow of the Bat and made an identity for himself as Nightwing? There was even a brief period of time during which he covered for an injured Bruce Wayne and donned the cape and cowl himself. He's the best choice as a successor, but has successfully carved out his own identity as a hero.

• • • • • • • • • • • •

Switching gears now from comic books to television, my next choice is Cosmo Kramer from Seinfeld. His off-the-wall mannerisms and unique approach to life often made him the most animated of the quartet, and with the debatable exception of George he was probably the funniest. He's definitely more memorable than Elaine and the show's “star”, Jerry. His popularity can be likened to that of The Fonz, but Fonzie can't really be considered a sidekick or a supporting character as he was intended to be, since he got a larger role. These days Michael Richards might be a washed-up racist, but at least he has a character we can look back on fondly, kind of how I like to think of O.J. as Nordberg from The Naked Gun series, rather than someone who probably stabbed a couple of people...

• • • • • • • • • • • •

Joe Pesci's Nicky from Easy Money is one of film's more memorable sidekicks, and to this day the first thing I think of when I think of that movie is his telling a boat operator to “take a right by the statue of dat broad in the harbor”. I wish I had more movie sidekicks on this list. I've seen so many, but wracked my brain trying to think of more. I'm sure they'll come to me after I post, or after a few comments of “how could you leave off so-and-so?”

• • • • • • • • • • • •

Big Guy and Rusty The Boy Robot was a 26 episode animated series based on a graphic novel of the same name. The show had an interesting twist, in that while Rusty was an actual advanced artificial lifeform, he was unaware that the Big Guy was actually not another robot, but a battlesuit piloted by the man who posed as the Big Guy's mechanic. In this dynamic robot duo, only the sidekick was a robot.

• • • • • • • • • • • •

The Flash shouldn't be considered a sidekick, so I'll have to defend my reasoning. Specifically, I'm referring here to his animated incarnation, as voiced by Michael Rosenbaum. That Flash was Wally West, whose comic book counterpart began his career as Kid Flash before going from sidekick to senior hero. On Justice League, he definitely behaved as a junior member of the team, always cracking jokes and being scolded by the more serious members. Often his one-liners stole the show, and in one episode, “Flash and Substance”, we learn that a lot of his juvenile behavior is an act, that he cares about his friends, the people he saves, and even his enemies. One of his best moments was in the episode “The Great Brain Robbery”, in which his mind switches places with Lex Luthor's. Rather than describe it and not do it justice, here's a clip.

• • • • • • • • • • • •

R2-D2 is a sidekick only because C-3PO treated him as one. We all know the little beeping droid had all the knowledge. He knew the score, unlocked locks to get them out of tough jams, and of the pair had the better idea of what was really at stake. In fact, in light of the prequels, R2 was more informed than his human allies as well.

• • • • • • • • • • • •

Joey Ice Cream from The Black Donnellys has a great role as the show's narrator. In jail, he's spinning the tale of four brothers he grew up with, and their ties to the Irish mob. With a Brooklyn accent and a sharp wit, we're never quite sure if he's telling us the truth or not, and there are many hilarious occasions on which he's called on it. “How could you know all this?” asks a cop after he recounts a private conversation between two of the Donnellys in an empty bar. “Oh yeah, I was there.” adds Joey, just as he appears at the bar in the flashback. “What's Joey Ice Cream doing here?” asks one of the brothers, noticing the sudden addition of the character. It's a great execution, and movies like Fight Club and The Usual Suspects have me expecting some possible twists down the line, but we'll see what happens. In the meantime, he's a great character to watch.

• • • • • • • • • • • •

Lost is an ensemble series, and through flashbacks each week any one of the cast could be brought to center stage. Still, in both the structure of the show and the social hierarchy among the survivors of a plane crash on a remote island, some have more important roles than others. Hurley is as important to the story as anyone else, but socially he's more of a sidekick than a leader. This hefty survivor keeps everyone's spirits up and hopeful, and he always has a great show-stealing one-liner, even if it's something as simple as “Dude....”

• • • • • • • • • • • •

Brian Griffin has his share of problems. He's an alcoholic. He's in love with his best friend's wife. He'd rather go to the bathroom on the lawn than on a toilet, and he barks uncontrollably at black people. Some of these traits are understandable, since Brian is a dog, after all. For all his faults though, Brian talks and is a really smart dog. He'll often point out in dry sarcasm to his owner Peter why an idea is stupid right before Peter does it anyway, and there have been many occasions in which he'll outsmart Stewie, a genius baby who can build high tech weapons but lacks some of the family dog's street smarts.

• • • • • • • • • • • •

That's all I have time for, for now. Maybe someday I'll write about Norton, Kato and other sidekicks. That post will be a sidekick to this one, and just might outshine it....



Things you don't wanna hear...

1. “Oh wait...we had this x-ray backwards!”

2. “They only bite if you’re afraid of being bit.”

3. “You kiss like my brother!”

4. “I forgot to tell you; we’re out of toilet paper.”

5. “Hey, has anyone seen the pin from this grenade?”

6. “I hope you’re sitting down...”

7. “I’ve got bad news and I’ve got worse news. Which do you want to hear first?”

8. “I’m a chef; I don’t have time to wash my hands!”

9. “You’d look good on my wall.”

10. “Your keyboard is waterproof, right?”

11. “Bring your own food, but make sure it’s classy so the meeting seems like a catered affair.”

12. “Hey, I forget; did we fuel up before taking off?”

13. “All bloggers are now required to disclose their full names and likenesses to the public.”

14. “What happened to the tissue samples I left on the kitchen counter?”

15. “It’s not me; it’s you.”

16. “Would the owner of a burning car please report to the front desk as soon as possible?”

17. “Hey, do you usually glow in the dark?”

18. “Yeah, those brakes don’t actually work.”

19. “Bundle up; it’s going to be a cold Summer.”

20. “And now, here’s President Clinton. Let’s hear what she has to say...”


Hidden Places

Yesterday I speculated about dreams of lunch and superheroes. Little did I know that in my travels on Thursday, on a typical lunch stroll with my friends, I'd first see an R2 D2 mailbox and then eat in a diner concealed in the back of a bakery. These are small things to be sure, but I lead a small life, so I'm not entirely sure any of it is real.

I've survived at my current job for a little over seven years. I've had lunch on one particular street near work literally thousands of times. And while I've been in this bakery before, I never knew there was a diner in the back until a couple of my friends who found it yesterday, told us about it. Sure enough, after venturing far enough along the counter and passing under an arch, we found a small seating area with a skylight and a food counter, a waitress waiting to take our order while we perused menus.

Hidden places are surreal. I've always liked discovering new locations within old ones. Maybe it was in Middle School, when my friends and I planned expeditions to the legendary tunnels beneath the building. I chickened out after the first dark room beyond a crawl space behind a hole in a brick wall, while my friends armed with a rope and flashlights mapped the whole place out. I've always liked finding new trails and nature preserves, and venturing down side streets in between roads I normally take, to find new routes. Often I'll plan a photo expedition by panning around the satellite view of Google™ maps until I see something interesting. (What are the Netherlands hiding?)

Video games probably influence me as much as the mix-and-match nature of my dreams. There's always a pipe to jump down, a brick wall to break, or a place to fly up to and gain hidden treasure and bonuses. Even a game like Marvel Ultimate Alliance, which could be played as a straight forward smash and run game, requires a walkthrough to point out hidden ledges or rooms that I might not otherwise find.

When I was a child, I once dreamed that I opened a cabinet in my room, the “forbidden closet” in which my mom stored toys I wasn't allowed to play with, like a cap gun someone gave me for my birthday. There was no lock, but I respected(feared) the edicts of that Sicilian woman. In my dream, I finally dared to open it, and inside were the steps leading to my basement. At the bottom was our local beach, where I made sandcastles, threw a frisbee, and basked in the sunlight before waking up. I remember the first time I discovered the various layers of Penn Station, and found that not all Roy Rogers had vacated this state. I remember the dark arcades of my local malls, and venturing far enough back into the shadows to find an air hockey table concealed around the bend. I remember indoor flea markets with hidden basements loaded with video games.

Sometimes I feel like I've found everything, like there's nothing new to discover around here. I don't really change, and sometimes that gets crushingly boring, but then things change in the world around me or I find cool places, hidden right under my nose. I should break through more walls, metaphorically of course.


The 44.

44 questions I found at Sean's.:

1. Were you named after anyone?
My father, and technically his father, although my grandfather's first name is the Italian version and lacks one letter.

2. When was the last time you cried?
Every couple of a years, a film will catch me off guard and leave me a wreck, disgusted at my own blubbering. When I finally saw The Color Purple about a month or so ago, that did it. Before that it was Big Fish, and before that Saving Private Ryan. Most recently, there were moments I definitely wasn't expecting in both Barnyard and Stranger Than Fiction that caused a little lump in my throat, but neither were intense enough that I couldn't hold my composure.

3. Why are you so fickle when it comes to women?
I blame comic books, soap operas, and movies. I also have an odd masochistic streak in which I'm only attracted to the 87% of women that I perceive to be out of my league, and I'm usually too shy to think of anything to say to them.

4. What is your favorite lunch meat?

5. Do you have kids?
Oh, I hope not...

6. If you were another person would you be friends with you?
Absolutely. In fact, if I were another person I think I'd like me better than I do now. I'd be more forgiving of my idiosyncrasies, the way I am of others.

7. Do you use sarcasm a lot?
Could I be more sarcastic? I think a lot of it is lost in the written word though, so I might not come across that way in my writing.

8. Do you still have your tonsils?
Yes, I do.

9. Would you bungee jump?
No, I would not.

10. What is your favorite cereal?
Wheaties ranks high if I have to pick just one. Kix, Cheerios, and Corn Chex would be runners-up. I rarely have a sweet cereal, but the greatest of those and a rare treat for me is Honeycomb.

11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
No, and my mother constantly asks me why I don't just wear loafers instead of sneakers.

12. Do you think you are strong?
I think I'm strong, but I don't think I'm strong enough.

13. What is your favorite ice cream?
Cookies and Cream.

14. What is the first thing you notice about people?
Their face and voice.

15. Red or pink?

16. What is your least favorite thing about yourself?
My paralyzing lack of self-confidence.

17. Who do you miss the most?
Alive: My ex-girlfriend. Deceased: My music teacher and my Aunt.

18. What color pants and shoes are you wearing?
Black pants and bare feet.

19. What was the last thing you ate?
Ziti and turkey meatballs.

20. What are you listening to right now?
The increasingly loud hum of my computer's fan and the sound of my cat curled up on a quilt purring.

21. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Navy blue.

22. Favorite smells?
Bakeries, Ice Cream stores, pizzerias, vanilla perfume, and the salt air of the ocean.

23. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
My boss, although B13 may have actually called me after that. I can't remember for sure, so I'll go with the latter, which is a less depressing response.

24. Hair color?
About 9-10 years ago I got into an argument with a coworker who maintained that only Asian people had truly black hair, and what I considered black was really just a dark brown. I do get the occasionally brown hair in my eye brow or facial hair when I wear a goatee, and I have a single gray hair that keeps popping up, but for the most part I will continue to maintain that I have black hair.

25. Eye color?

26. Do you wear contacts?
No. (There was no #26 on Sean's, and I found an nearly identical set lacking a #26 but adding a #45. In the end I found a few other similar sets that had this as a natural follow up to the eye question).

27. Why aren't you married?
Wait, did my mom write these questions?

28. Favorite food?
Pizza or steak.

29. Scary movies or happy endings?
Happy endings(Alllll right!)

30. Last movie you watched?
Stranger Than Fiction.

31. What did you dream about last night?
I'm not sure, but probably lunch or super powers.

32. What book are you reading?
The Dark Tower. Maybe I'll finally finish it this weekend; I think I only have 100 pages or so to go.

33. Summer or Winter?
Spring. But I'll take staying warm in the Winter over sweating in the Summer any day.

34. Hugs or kisses?
Kisses, please.

35. Favorite dessert?
Cookies and Cream.

36. Do you have any special talents?
Yes, I'm very special.

37. What are they?
The only thing I'm really good at with little to no effort is playing the Baritone Horn. I have to work really hard at everything else, from running to designing to drawing, so those can't really be considered natural talents, or special since there are a lot of people who are better in those areas. I do pick up computer programs pretty quickly, and I can curl my tongue, so I really don't know the answer to #27.

38. What color shirt are you wearing?
Black/Dark Brown and Caucasian.

39. When are you going to start preparing for your move back home?
A better question would be, “When am I going to move OUT?”

40. What did you watch on TV last?

41. What is your favorite sound?
The original transformation sound from the 1984 Transformers cartoon, and suddenly #27 isn't such a mystery.

42. Rolling Stones or The Beatles?
Pearl Jam, but that's not an option so The Beatles.

43. What is the farthest you have been from home?
North: Boston, Massachusetts South: Winston-Salem North Carolina. East: Montauk Point. West: Pennsylvania. I think South is the farthest.

44. Most likely to respond to this meme?
B13 will comment, and may tackle it. Either Lorna or Darrell might try it or at least comment. It may elicit a joke from at least one of the Geekfriends™. Some will feel unworthy, but one shall rise from our ranks to light our darkest hour. A cheerleader will be saved, but the world will still be in peril. Cats will live with dogs, causing mass hysteria. On the 13th day, of the 13th month, parents will gather at an elementary school to discuss misprinted calendars. And I will make four consecutive pop culture references without any links.

Little did I know how accurate or inaccurate my predictions would prove to be....


PBW: Chunky Vs. Mama Squirrel

Usually I go looking for Photo Blog Wednesday, but sometimes it finds me first.

Take this past Sunday, for example. As I reclined in my room watching a DVD and resting a neck stiff from hoisting ice chunks, I heard my dad cry out from the dining room, “You gotta see this cat!” Normally in our family, that's code when two of us want to summon a third in to the kitchen to blow out the candles on his or her birthday cake. But it was no one's birthday, and the middle of a Sunday afternoon.

Right outside our dining room window, in the branches of our dogwood tree, perched Chunky, one of our neighbor's cats. He was staring intently at something in our front yard, at one point noticing me and my camera before shifting his gaze back to the subject at hand. I went over to our kitchen window to see what was in his line of site, and there was our friend, the pregnant squirrel who enjoys our bird feeder every day. Chunky eventually made his move, leaping down and prowling across the ice even as Mama Squirrel perked up, sensing danger, and skittered around our bushes.

In the end, she made it up on to our neighbor's fence, while Chunky leapt up on my mom's shed in pursuit. The feline hunter knew his prey was near, but was looking in the wrong direction. Shortly thereafter my mom put some food out for Chunky and summoned him away before he noticed where the squirrel had gone.

Even the most domesticated animals retain sharp natural instincts, although some adopt more human ways of spending a cold Sunday afternoon....



MCF's Perilous! 2.IV

We are nearly done with another quintet of MCF's Perilous! As of round 2.III, some of the scores were VERY close so this set and the conclusion will be VERY important in determining our next winner.

For those who don't know or remember, MCF's Perilous! is a quiz in reverse. I post ten answers. You get 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 a “prize”. Every five rounds, the scores reset, and 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? Here are the next 10 answers:

1. I'm going to use it to clear all 100 levels.

2. Because at my age, I don't think The Transformers: The Movie is a socially acceptable choice for that.

3. 617.

4. September 11, 1984.

5. “The cowards never started./The weak died on the way./Only the strong arrived./They were Pioneers.”

6. Boxy.

7. Heroes and Law & Order: SVU

8. They both went from fantasy heroes to science fiction characters.

9. Through a crowbar.

10. B12



Phantasmic Links 3.19.07

When a weekend starts out as bad as this one did, it can only get better.

After the mess of ice Winter saw fit to dump on us Friday, Saturday cleanup was a challenge. My car was completely encased, and breaking through the driveway was futile as well, though my dad was out there trying. I managed to clean the car off and make it to the bank to renew a CD and make my 2006 IRA contribution just in time, driving over the blanket of ice.

It was a lazy day spent indoors, and while I played a video game and battled my way through Asgard, my parents watched snow plows and playing children from the windows.

“Now your father's yelling at the guy.”

I hadn't been paying attention, but one statement from my mom got me to pause and get her to repeat the story. Apparently one of our neighbors hired a snow plow, who was pushing the snow from their yard and blocking our driveway. My mom suggested he talk to him, but 77-year-old men who are hard of hearing never simply talk.

“Now he's shoveling again.”

So, I grabbed a shovel and went out to help.

“Get inside. You want the neighbors to laugh at me?”

It was an irrational statement, and he elaborated that he was embarrassed after yelling at the guy who just ignored him, and didn't want them to see us with shovels. Meanwhile, my dad was shoveling and the snow was melted enough that I could clear out behind my car and make it easier to drive my mom to church later. My dad got really irrationally angry that I kept working, stormed inside, then stormed back out and told me I was a “real wiseguy”, and if I couldn't “follow orders” I could just “get the heck out”. Rather than argue, I continued shoveling. He wasn't making any sense, and I could tell it wasn't me he was angry at. When I came inside, he mostly gave me the silent treatment and mumbled things like “this is still my house” under his breath.

After mass, my mom and I picked up some Burger King as we always do. My dad was a little more talkative, but still sulking a little bit. Meanwhile, I returned a call I'd gotten earlier from an old college friend, and learned he was having an impromptu dinner party, sort of an informal housewarming since I hadn't seen him since he moved. It was good to get out for a few hours, and his wife cooked an amazing Indian dinner. I'm not a fan of Indian food, but there was one spicy chicken dish that tasted one thousand times better than it looked and had me coming back for seconds. “Are you expanding your culinary horizons now?” quipped my friend, right before telling everyone a tale I'll never live down, about the time I ordered “Chicken with Broccoli hold the broccoli” from a Chinese restaurant. It wasn't until I got home later that I realized I'd celebrated St. Patrick's Day with fast food, Indian food and donuts. At least the donuts had green frosting in honor of the holiday(I hope).

Even though I had cleared half the driveway on Sunday, I awoke to the sound of a shovel chipping ice. I got up and went out to help my dad, not sure if he was still mad or not. “Work from the ends, and put it over here so it melts,” he instructed, our fight dissolved in the face of father-son teamwork. I found that while a three-inch thick sheet of ice still covered half the driveway, I could get a shovel underneath it and break it into smaller sheets. We made short work of it, exposing the pavement beneath through cooperative efforts. The rest of the day was sunny and peaceful, and I'm now ready to deal with another week of work. But first, here are this week's PHANTASMIC LINKS:

I'm ready to start thinking about the beach. This video of reverse sand castle explosions that Curt sent me is a good start.

This is a horrifying skin condition, not frayed mittens as I first thought. I don't know where B13 found it, but thought I'd share.

On a less gross note, B13 also discovered The real Fortress of Solitude.

How intelligent are you? I got 8 out of 11 right.

Sean posted an awesome comparison between 300 the movie and the original graphic novel. I love how faithful the movie was, and I really need to pick that book up...

Mario and Luigi wander into the wrong city. Video game crossover hilarity ensues.

Did the unicorn crash his truck?

I've seen versions of this before, but they still hold true: 40 things that only happen in the movies.

”Stare at the middle of the strobing lines for 20 seconds and then look away.” I don't feel so on this plane of existence....

UFO Mania sends you and your flying saucer around the globe in an effort to collect humans and bring them home, without dropping them or getting yourself shot down. After that last link, I call this one “Mondays”.

A new species of leopard has been discovered.

Here's one last hilarious one from B13: Jack Bauer vs. Chunk from Goonies.

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!



Evil Lord Villifarous

I can't draw.

Those three words are the greatest adversary of any artist, no matter what skill level they possess. As a would-be illustrator, I've always learned from others. In elementary school, when my friends were drawing Voltron or various Transformers, I'd try to emulate their style. By high school, I was copying from my favorite comic book artists, and by college I found some good friends who were also aspiring comic book artists.

One such friend was Rey. Each of my friends taught me something, and while one taught me to pay more attention to underlying anatomy than costume designs, Rey taught me by example to loosen up a little. I'd often commit too soon to lines and shapes that weren't quite right, but he had a more frantic, sketchy style, evidenced in a recent Gambit drawing he posted. I've seen him scribble, and his drawing style is a lot like sculpture. A lot of lines hit the page, and as a figure takes shape, he solidifies the ones that look right. In the end, he has a lot more dynamic characters leaping off the page.

The process is fascinating, since every artist has his or her own approach. That's why I love seeing artists like Nico Di Mattia post speed-painting videos. Even accelerated, you see him draw and erase lines until it's precisely the way he wants them to be. Sketching can be a free and fun experience if you let the pencil take over, and it can be frustrating on those frequent occasions when you never find the right line.

Like Rey and many other friends who were all better than me, I eventually dropped my dream of becoming a comic book artist. It's a competitive field in which even the best of the best struggle, and there's no guarantee of wealth or security. Graphic design was a little easier, and something I was better at. These days I'm happy to slap words over illustrations and call them catalog covers or book jackets.

I'm out of practice, and from time to time try to draw and get frustrated. In college I made a LOT of progress, and while I still have no business criticizing the likes of Rob Liefeld, I'm happy that my stick figures and square people developed into renderings I never thought I was capable of. If only for my own personal satisfaction, I might take a page from Rey's book and post a sketch from time to time.

A while back, when Kev Bayer mentioned an “Evil Lord Villifarous”, the mental image was tempting and I doodled several costume designs, none of which were good enough to post. I took another crack at it tonight, and may revisit this character in the future. It should prove interesting if I improve, to see where I started out.

Scary, huh? To be continued...?


Winter Strikes Back

Denial isn't just a river in Egypt. (Sorry.)

It's hard to believe that just a few days ago I was walking through the woods wearing a light jacket, unzipped. A week ago I reunited with one of my bands for an early St. Patrick's Day gig and though we wore coats, the walking and the sun soon made those coats unnecessary.

So when I heard we'd have snow this weekend, I dismissed it. We were done with Winter; this was March. Spring had sprung. Ain't nothing going to break my stride; nobody going to slow me down. Oh, no. The news was exaggerating, and it would all turn to slush and rain. By Friday evening I'd be in a bar with coworkers, possibly enjoying a green beer. It's not that I never learn; I'm just a subconscious optimist.

Needless to say, Friday morning I awoke to clear roads and covered cars and yards. Ice crystals bounced off of everything before settling down and, in case there was any doubt about what sleet was, an announcer on the radio explained that it occurs when snow melts and then freezes once again before reaching the ground. I cleaned my car off easily enough, with minimal scraping. Temperatures were just slightly above freezing, and I hoped they wouldn't drop. My view was clear, and as I pulled from my street on to the main road I turned on my windshield wipers which, apparently, had regained some of the ice I'd cleaned off. They spread a thin film of water, turning my windshield into a giant magnifying glass. I turned the defogger on full blast and checked my rearview mirror to find my back window was somehow covered in ice again. Yet I was confident it would all clear up by lunch time.

Traffic wasn't bad, and few idiots tried to pass me. I was almost at work when I saw a bus blocking the right lane, its hazard lights flashing. I checked my left mirror and saw with horror that it was completely caked over with crystals. I rolled down my window and stuck my head out to look, yanking it back a split second before an SUV took my head off. There weren't any vehicles in the left lane, but it was the first of many that swiftly cut to the left and zipped around me. After about ten cars, one slowed down and let me get out from behind the bus.

At lunch, the crystals continued to fall, sharply and with painful force. Just before a railroad crossing, we passed a police car, then a white car in which a woman sat resting her head on her fist looking miserable, then her crumpled hood and finally the undamaged school bus she must have slammed into. Buses stop for train tracks, but cars gliding on a slick surface behind them? Not so much. After lunch, our company issued an e-mail offering the option to leave at whatever time we thought would get us home safely. Rey, my window to the future in Pennsylvania informed me that they had accumulation, and his brother in New Jersey had even more. It's good to have advance warning like that, though he pointed out he wouldn't be much help if nukes flew overhead. B13 pointed out that I'd probably see missiles before Rey, though. In any case, the immediate danger was the coating of water and ice crystals that was now freezing and being covered in snow. I finished two or three catalog covers and left the eerie silence of my office around 4 PM. I didn't want to be the first one to leave, and with a handful of more dedicated employees still working, I wasn't the last one either.

The roads weren't bad, as far as traffic was concerned, but I couldn't do more than 20 or 30 miles an hour without skidding. It took me nearly an hour to get home, almost twice as long as normal, and a blanket of snow coated my yard and the mound of ice plows had blocked our driveway with. A few hours later I looked outside, and my tires and footprints were nowhere to be seen. I thought we were done with Winter, but I was wrong.

I'm still hoping rain and higher temperatures do my shoveling for me, but I'm no longer holding my breath. I think you'd have to be a kid or a dog to appreciate the mess that's out there. As for me, I did what comes natural in such conditions. I played video games, surfed the net, and fell into hibernation a little before 9 PM. Wake me up when Spring really gets here.


MCF's Visual DNA

I found this great widget via Lorna. By choosing from a selection of pictures, it estimates your personality. Hers seemed pretty accurate, so I gave it a whirl. From television, video games, nature, and more it labeled me a Dreamer, a Conqueror, a Junkie Monkey, and a Love Bug. The widget above doesn't include further elaboration, so I'll add it below:

Moods: Dreamer
I can be both calm and peaceful, and I like to feel free to explore my environment. I can be a little nostalgic and I love revisiting familiar places and memories. When it comes to art, I appreciate natural beauty. i take the time to soak up the nature favoring the coastline and countryside to the city galleries. As for music, it's the soundtrack to my world. An open road, my favorite tracks—clichés are there to be enjoyed! My choice of treat shows that I like to be able to switch off, so I like to switch on...I'm glued to the box.

I can't find anything in there I disagree with, although I spend more time listening to the radio driving back and forth to work than I do on road trips. Given a choice though, I do like to turn on the radio and just drive without any destination in mind, and I've found some of the best photo opportunities on such adventures. I wish I could do that more. It's interesting that by choosing the shell, I was thinking of the pattern while the site classified that as more of a love for natural beauty, probably factoring all the other outdoor images I chose. I think it's both. And I do like to watch television at the end of the day and not think about anything else.

Fun: Conqueror
I love physical activity—I've got a real spirit for adventure. Keeping a clear head and healthy body makes me ready for whatever life throws at me. For kicks, I'm definitely competitive and easily hooked. I like the discipline of honing my skills and getting really good at something. I tend to stamp my foot when things don't quite go my way! When it comes to holidays, I'll take experience over comfort every time, whether under canvas or under the stars. I love the chance to be in the wilderness and the freedom of being in charge of where I'm heading. What grosses me out? I favor the natural look and can't stand a pumped and plumped, plastic appearance.

At first, I didn't see how someone quiet and laid-back like me could be considered a “conqueror”, but when I read the description it made more sense. I wouldn't describe my body as “healthy”, but I do try, and when I miss a day or two at the gym, I definitely feel more tired, more stressed, and have a shorter fuse. I do like honing my skills, and tend to focus on one thing for a very long time, to the exclusion of everything else. I picked the shiny bosomy male torso because it was a shiny bosomy male torso, but the natural look thing can be applied to females as well. I like a natural beauty over someone who's had a lot of plastic surgery, and it goes without saying that a female body builder would also be gross, since she'd have the same physique as that guy and be wearing a top as a formality. I like freedom and the wilderness, but not real camping. I tried it once and it wasn't for me, and subsequent camping trips were spent in trailers with plumbing and electricity. I like being near the woods and exploring, but I like having a modern structure to return to.

Habits: Junkie Monkey
Even if I have a healthy approach to life, I still have my vices and a craving hunger drives my needs! So I'll supersize it, I love convenience and that taste...I'm not neurotic about making healthy choices...I've got more of an easy going and carefree approach to my lifestyle...and a sweet tooth too. As for the home, style is not top of my list—I'm too busy with other things in life. I collect and store—I can be a hoarder.

It's like they had a camera in my brain. I can't find a single thing to disagree with or modify in this section. It's all part of my frustrating and baffling dichotomy. I have to have some things a certain way, but neglect clutter. I run three miles a day, and can finish a box of cookies on my ride home. It's like half of my traits are working in direct opposition to the other half sometimes.

Love: Love Bug
I'm a real romantic and a bit of a dreamer. OK, life may not be a movie, but what's wrong with thinking it is? When I think of freedom—nature takes over. Getting back out into the wilderness is a big draw.

Again, this is spot-on. I might not come across as a romantic in real life, but my brain is always playing out movies and thinking of suave things to say to girls, even if I never say them. When I was in a relationship, there were things I said and did that surprised myself and I'd later wonder, “where did that come from?” or “who am I?”

Of course, back in those days I didn't have internet access to get such valuable answers.