When Howard Stern left the airwaves for satellite radio, New York's K-Rock panicked. Their first brilliant idea was to take an FM rock station and turn it into talk radio, all day every day, with the exception of weekends. Their second brilliant idea was to put rocker David Lee Roth on in the morning as Stern's replacement. When that idea bombed, they brought in Opie and Anthony. Rechristend FREE FM, the station was poised for an eventual departure from my car's presets. I never did remove it, but most of my time was spent with the surprisingly good variety of the eclectic 101.1 Jack FM, or the classic rock of Q104.3. I remember when I first started listening to the Q, when they played alternative and 80s rock closer to K-Rock's fare, before they switched to the classic format. Now I'm actually old enough that the stuff I was listening to in the ‘90s is considered “classic”, and that station is again a place I can find Nirvana. I don't think I'm that old, but then in a digital age of music I'm sitting here writing about radio.

The FREE FM experiment ultimately, and not surprisingly, failed. KROCK is BACK. Opie and Anthony still talk in the morning, but the rest of the day music can be found. B13 had mentioned the reversion a few days ago, but it wasn't until I was almost at work on Wednesday morning that I checked the station and found a Linkin Park song playing that I remembered. Things had come full circle, and my ride home was amazing. Cool breezes soared through my open window as the sun was setting, and my radio blared as I sang along to Mother, In Bloom, Creep, The Hand That Feeds and more. I actually detoured under the pretense of checking if a moving company had gotten their trucks off my dad's lot before he had them towed(long story), but really I just wanted more music time.

Life is full of bad ideas and mistakes. Many are irreversible, or people simply let a bad situation continue. A format change is a small thing, but I don't need much to be happy. Never assume you've seen the last of something good. The wheel in the sky keeps on turning...


PBW: Another Air Show

In 2005, I went to my first air show. In 2006, I returned with a better camera. This past weekend, for Photo Blog Wednesday, I went once more to the Jones Beach Air Show, with the same camera, the same friends, and a larger crowd.

It took me a half hour to get through a toll booth and find a parking spot. If it wasn't for cell phones, I would never have located B13. Real estate was scarce, and even when we found an open plot of beach, people still walked through. When the tide came in and I tried to move back, a woman warned me to not let my umbrella fall on her kids, who had busied themselves digging a trench directly behind my chair. When I folded up and carefully tried to find a path, another lady first beckoned me, “well walk through now!”, then as I edged along careful not to step on her towel she shook her head and muttered, “Unbelievable.” I find people in general are best in small doses.

In spite of claustrophobia, it was a nice day. Between my umbrella and sunblock, I managed to burn only my ankles, exposed beyond the umbrella's reach of my lounge chair. I'm good as long as I don't pull up my socks or wear tight jeans. I didn't feel the need to shoot every plane that flew by, because I was comfortable and because a lot was the same as the previous years. I did get some good video footage to switch things up a bit, although at one point I hit the record button too many times and ended up catching some dialogue between flights. For all the annoying people and repetitious performances, I still enjoyed my annual escape from an office to the shore. Sure, I do make it into some form of nature with my camera nearly every week, but not like this, not like this...



MCF's Perilous! 3.IV

We have reached the fourth round of the third set of answers in MCF's Perilous! Where does the time go? You know where we've been; let's see where we're going...

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. He had blood all over his shirt.

2. Changing the oil in his car.

3. Two first names.

4. There's nothing on.

5. Ray Liotta and Rainn Wilson.

6. Jerry and Curt.

7. Mackenzie Crook.

8. Cracking a joke that absolutely no one gets.

9. He was French in the book.

10. 250 GB.



Phantasmic Links 5.28.07

My dad's not a very patient person. He rewired some light switches in our house, and didn't take the time to note which wires went where; he just wanted to get the job done. As a result, two of the switches turn on both the light in our living room and an outside light over our front steps. On the way to a parade on Sunday, he asked our friend Bill if he knew anything about electricity. Bill's explanation of red and black and white wires sounded logical to me, but my dad disagreed. It actually made me feel better about when he asks me music questions then argues with me; it's his own personality and not any shortcoming on my part.

”The waiting is the hardest part.” I'm not as impatient as my dad, who complained my mom's IV was dripping too slowly when she was in the hospital and tried to adjust it before I stopped him, but I definitely feel boxed in or bored at times. Sunday was the first of three Memorial Day parades we're playing this weekend, with the other two on Monday. The parade itself was great, between music and watching the people we walked by, it went fast. The half hour standing around waiting for it to start after we lined up was torture, though. I've had longer waiting periods of course, so I wondered if I was becoming more like my dad as I got older, or if impatience is a natural by product of aging. I know my perception of time is different than when I was a child, so I can imagine what it will be like forty-five years from now. When time grows short, any delay is too long.

I also think people speak their mind more as they get older. I don't think my dad's ever been bashful; that's one thing we don't have in common. Yet, as he yelled at Senator Schumer, “Why don't you lower the gas prices?”, I realized he's gotten more outspoken. Schumer shook his hand, said he was going after the oil companies, then moved on.

I hope everyone's having as much fun this Memorial Day weekend as I am, if not more. Here are this week's PHANTASMIC LINKS:

This fun and funky mix of animation and music is brought to you by B13.

A triple-amputee finishes med school. Wow, I really have no excuse for not making anything of myself yet...

Artists re-imagine a legendary cinematic villain in The Vader Project. HT: Sean.

Deflector gets progressively harder and, of course, more addictive. Can you draw lines and protect your base from increasing enemy forces? Sometimes the best offense really is a good defense...

I wish my furniture transformed into an Obelisk. It's another good one from B13.

You won't see this in the new Transformers movie, but I wouldn't mind if we did.

Here's what Transformers would look like with no budget....

I found the following at Kev Bayer's, and I wasn't surprised by the results:
My Score: Hiro Nakamura
I scored 58 Idealism, 62 Nonconformity, 41 Nerdiness.

Congratulations, you're Hiro Nakamura! You're a high-minded idealist, a huge nerd, and you enjoy being a unique and special person. Your combination of positive personality traits makes you impossibly lovable, and your energy and enthusiasm are absolutely infectious. Your dedication to any mission you take on, in addition to your cheerful sense of humor, are qualities anyone should be proud to have.
Your best quality: Spunk
Your worst quality: You are too cute. Some people may not be able to handle it.
Link: The Heroes Personality Test written by freedomdegrees.

Finally, are you fast enough to Connect It? Watch out for that monkey...

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!



Change, it has to come...

I had it all written out, in my mind. The language would be poetic; the word smithery at its finest. I was going to announce a Summer hiatus, in which I would cut down posting to three days a week, recurring features only, so I could focus on another facet of my life. I wouldn't say it was one I was solidly neglecting, but certain career-related items did need a bit of dusting off.

Then I read that B13 hit his 86th consecutive daily post. After nearly three years of daily posting myself, that number shouldn't have meant much, but it did raise my curiosity. And when I saw I was at 959 posts, I realized I couldn't stop now, not before I reach an even 1,000. Once there, I might reconsider, but it's more likely my borderline autistic personality will focus on higher round numbers with lots and lots of zeroes.

On the plus side, there isn't much on television right now. Sure, I have two more episodes each of both The Sopranos and the canceled Drive on the horizon, and the pilot for Traveler was watchable, but otherwise my evenings should be free, usual stream of DVDs notwithstanding. Maybe there will be an increase in memes, or a decrease in my usual 10,000 word minimum length rants. Or maybe nothing will change at all.

The problem is, I get comfortable very easily, and sometimes even a good thing can become boring and predictable. I went to my third air show this year, for example, and while I had a relaxing time on the beach, I was perfectly content to lie under an umbrella and didn't feel the need to take 200 pictures of the same planes I saw the last two times I went. It was an awesome day, but I felt at times that I'd been there and done that. The only major differences this year were an insane sized crowd, and a little girl dancing like she was alone in her room and not surrounded by tens of thousands of strangers. That might change when she gets made fun of in high school, or learns that B13 put her on the internet. I am so glad the Web wasn't around when I was younger.

So, if I seem to be slacking off with my posts, hopefully it means I'm devoting more time to becoming awesome in another area of my life. If I remain awesome as a blogger, it either means I've learned to juggle really well or I'm slacking off elsewhere. Sometimes change is forced on us, but it's always better when we take the reins and effect change on our own. I will reach 1,000 posts; I'm not going anywhere. As for the rest of my life, maybe it's not too late to start going places...


For a Friend.

Many things can motivate us, can snap us into action or change our mindset. A catalyst can be anything from job loss to death to illness, but it usually takes us by surprise and we learn what instinct truly is.

On a typical Friday night, I sat in front of my computer watching a DVD, the original 1972 Solaris. It was a change of pace from a more action-packed film I'd seen earlier in the day with my friends, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. My dad was in the living room watching TV, whilst my mom potted plants out on the verandah. Other than the occasional cry of “watch the cat!” when she'd come back in the house for something, it was quiet. Then I heard:

“He got out!”

“What?! Go get him!”

There was no thinking involved. I was on my feet in a heartbeat, past my mom in the kitchen looking for food to lure our little friend back, past my dad watching television, looking over his shoulder at our screen door, and finally outside where I saw Chirp's little black tail disappear around a corner into the darkness of our yard.

Indoors, he loves attention. A snap of the fingers and he'll appear, throw himself at your feet or leap to the nearest table and roll around until you pet him. But when he gets a chance to explore, to run down to the basement or outside, he'll only return when he's ready.

Thankfully, he has some white fur, so I caught a glimpse of him before he headed up a trail into my mom's garden. I knew I'd never catch him if I followed, but I also knew where the trail came out, so I ran ahead, and up some makeshift steps made of rocks. “Where is he?” called my mom, shaking a container of cat food. I told her to head him off, but somehow in the dark she misunderstood. She passed the other entrance to the trail, giving him a clear path to run away from me. But, he was headed back to the house.

“DIDJAFINDIM??” cried my dad, loudly slamming open the screen door and spooking Chirp so he sprinted away from the house once more, across our front yard toward the street. Now my mom and I both followed, snapping fingers and shaking food. I ran out wide into our driveway, and curved back in, descending upon a small dark shape in front of our hedge, scooping up what I prayed was my cat and not a raccoon or a possum. He purred and curled against me, enjoying the game.

Inside, my conscious mind started working again. I hoped the neighbors hadn't looked out at any time, as I was only wearing shorts and no shirt. That must have been some show. But the real epiphany came with my bare feet, as I realized I'd run across wood chips and who knows what else out there. I was so focused on recovering my pal, I could have been running on hot coals. Each step hurt, and even brushing my ankles against something hurt. Were there splinters? I asked my mom what she had growing out there that might have thorns, and ultimately we realized I'd run through some cacti with fine needles. I've been over both of my feet with a pair of tweezers, and I still haven't found them all. Ouch.

The things I'll do for a friend...


Loose Ends.

Sometimes things are left open. Cliff hangers remain unresolved. Questions have no answers. It's nice when things can be wrapped up in a neat little package. Closure is good.

Last Sunday, I posted the final gang of Blogroll Villains. These rogues may be identified as follows:

26) Captain Eucalyptus.
27) MCF.
28) RC of Strange Culture.
29) Dosetaker.
30) Wil Wheaton.

And so the world is safe...for now. On Saturday, I also ran a second movie meme in which sequels had to be identified solely on their plot keywords. Those films were:

1) The Empire Strikes Back.
2) Superman II.
3) Spider-man II.
4) Army of Darkness.
5) Saw III.
6) Shrek 2.
7) Back to the Future Part III.
8) X-Men 2.
9) Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.
10) U.S. Marshals.

Excellent! Resolution is a good thing. And now, I can get back to sleep and shake the cold or allergies that seems to be knocking me out...

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Casting MCF

This week, Janet wants to know who would play me in a movie, and what the title of the film would be. My mind is reeling with possibilities. I think that at different stages of my life, different actors would be appropriate, not so much for physical appearance as the type of characters they play.

”Hold the Broccoli” would tell the tales of my college misadventures, improbable things I said and did as I acquainted myself with the outside world. Jason Lee would be my first choice for such a comedy, but Rob Schneider is who I could afford.

John Cusack would be perfect as the star of ”Fancy Restaurants”, a romantic comedy/drama about a young hotshot who gets a job, gets the girl, and has it all go to his head before he gets the message from reality.

In ”He's Not Heavy...”, Samm Levine would play a high school student who suddenly finds himself transferred to a school run by strict Marianist brothers. Can he make new friends, survive psychological bullies, and keep his tie out of his pasta at lunch?

”Off Key” would feature Zach Braff as a young geek who escapes a dead romantic life and the tedium of office work by pouring himself into karaoke. The drunker you are, the better he sounds.

Finally, ”I've Wasted My Life” would star Danny DeVito as a single writer on his deathbed, looking back on his life and wishing he had done some things differently. Enter Morgan Freeman as a guardian angel who appears and transports his consciousness back to his younger self, played by Paulo Costanzo. Armed with knowledge of the future, will he still make the same mistakes or allow the same opportunities to drift by? The film would jarringly flip between past and present, and neither the viewer nor the protagonist would know if it was real or his imagination until the stunning twist ending in which...well, you'll have to buy tickets once it gets made. I'll probably make films about my friends first, starring Daniel Stern, Daniel Radcliffe, Alfonso Ribeiro and Nicholas Turturro. Can you guess who's who?



PBW: Staten Around

Lately, I’ve been learning a lot of important life lessons. Perhaps someday I’ll be able to share all of them. For this week’s Photo Blog Wednesday, I can share a lesson of time. Just because I’m working through my weekend, doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy my photo hobby as well as my music hobby. Knowing I was working on both Saturday and Sunday, and that I’d have some time to kill before Sunday’s procession in Staten Island, I decided to bring my camera. Rather than sit on the steps of a church for an hour making small talk with my dad and the other musicians, or simply floating in a bored silence, I walked around the neighborhood. From bits of the the feast to the sculptures decorating the church to highlights of the neighborhood, I proved that life offers pockets of time to do great things, so long as one knows where to look...



MCF's Perilous! 3.III Questions

Round II of the third set of MCF's Perilous! has now concluded! Wow, those numbers are going to become a mouthful after a while. This was a good week as usual, though.

In MCF's Perilous! I provide 10 answers for which you, my readers, have to come up with the corresponding questions and post them on your blogs. Scoring is 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(such as the challenging Blogroll Villains).

Here's how everyone is doing:

Round 1: B13 R1 10
Round 2: B13 R2 11
Round 3: B13 R3 10
Total: 31

Round 1: Otis R1 25
Round 2: Otis R2 10
Total: 35

Round 2: Darrell R2 25
Total: 25

Round 3: Jamie Dawn R3 10
Total: 10

Round 3: Lorna R3 25
Total: 25

Lorna nailed the 15 point bonus with question #8. Yata!

Now, here are the questions I had in mind:

1. “BOOM.”
What was the name of one of my favorite Shareware games?

2. Sweet Home Alabama.
What song now conjures to mind KFC commercials?

3. Peter.
What was the name of a cat I once owned with a stumpy tail?

4. She tagged up her gown.
While in the hospital, where did my mom write her name followed by the words “was here”?

5. Too many.
How many days did my mom spend in the hospital with pneumonia?

6. Molly.
What name did I once devote an entire post to?

7. Because he's fluent in Japanese.
Why will George Takei be presenting a Nebula award to Miyazaki?

8. Soooo many French Fries!
What should I cut back on on weekends?

9. Flying.
What form of travel have I only experiences twice in my life?

10. You would think that...
Are all these questions related to Heroes?



Phantasmic Links 5.21.07

I am exhausted. After a fun happy hour on Friday night, I only got about four hours' sleep before I had to drive my dad and two other musicians to a procession on Saturday morning. Miraculously, I woke up on my own and managed to get through both the chauffeuring and the gig as well as get home in time to take my mom to our first mass since she got out of the hospital. Sunday is when the lack of sleep caught up to me, but I had to drive even further to a gig. Once again I prevailed, even bringing my camera to sneak in some photography during the downtime before we started playing. Driving home however, we hit traffic on one of the worst parkways on Long Island. Our band leader wasn't very talkative, nor was I, while we sat perfectly still in bumper to bumper traffic watching the occasional impatient soul drive over curbs and lawns to escape. My dad made “conversation” to break the silence by lamenting the loss of fuel, or inquiring multiple times whether I could get to the right because the right lane looked like it was moving. It wasn't. We were trapped in a parking lot. After an hour we finally were moving again and got our band leader to his train station. I'm hoping for a quiet week in which to recuperate. For now, I'm trying to stay awake long enough to post this week's PHANTASMIC LINKS:

B13 was Dr. Doom in the Supervillain Quiz. I was Two-Face:
I make impulsive decisions at the flip of a coin.

Two-Face 65%
Dr. Doom 59%
Venom 58%
The Joker 52%
Mystique 49%
Mr. Freeze 47%
Magneto 47%
Riddler 46%
Green Goblin 45%
Apocalypse 43%
Lex Luthor 38%
Dark Phoenix 28%
Catwoman 25%
Kingpin 25%
Juggernaut 21%
Poison Ivy 0%

Click here to take the "Which Super Villain are you?" quiz...

You won't find me on Flashface, but you can use your imagination and make your own. Police sketch artists beware! Thank J-No for the awesome link.

Countdown 100 movies with 100 carefully chosen quotes. I bow before superior free time, knowledge of the obscure, and sheer creativity.

Sheep fear the “Devil Sheep”. Somewhere in that video, sent to me by Darrell, is a metaphor for man's inhumanity to man.

Darrell also sent me information about an awesome viral campaign for the next Batman movie. I participated and did my part in removing a pixel to reach the creepy ultimate reveal. Creepy.

According to B13, The answer is not always “C”. I'm glad I can still be educated at my age.

B13 also sent me a ridiculously addictive Zombie Game. Must....stop...wasting...my life...

Rey sent me some good ones this week as well: The Militant Black Guy defends Political Correctness...Terry Tate takes down insensitive office workers...The Lazy River yields a Warm Surprise....

New Smashing Pumpkins, anyone? Smashing! I'll resume typing once I finish moshing to the guitar solo...

...and now, I'll drift off to some fun clouds.

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!



Blogroll Villains: Gang Six

Have the Blogroll Villains been defeated...for now? No one guessed this week, and so I get to keep the fragment of the Mysterious Master Prize™ that was at stake.

Heroes transform into villains, thanks to the power of Heromachine, and here's who we faced last time:

21) Kristine.
22) Big Orange Michael.
23) Jeff.
24) TV Goddess.
25) Spaceman Bill.

Leave a comment correctly identifying all five of this week's Blogroll Villains and you'll receive a piece of the rare Mysterious Master Prize™! Can this be the final gang?



A Movie Thing Too.

Yesterday, I did a movie meme from The Hidden Blogger. After a night of drinking with some coworkers, I have just enough energy to post a sequel. But first, here are yesterday's answers:

1) Big Fish.
2) The Transformers: The Movie.
3) Flash Gordon.
4) Clash of the Titans.
5) Back to the Future.
6) Ghost Busters.
7) The Naked Gun.
8) The Crow.
9) Wayne's World.
10) Lethal Weapon.

Congratulations to anyone who guessed these! Now let's do it again...with a twist:

1) Go to IMDB.com and look up 10 of your favorite SEQUELS.
2) Post five (5) official IMDB "Plot Keywords" for these 10 picks.
3) Have your friends guess the movie titles.

Let the game begin again:

1) Dismemberment; Outer Space; Training; Spirituality; Secret Identity.

2) Revenge; Bully Comeuppance; Alien; Terrorism; Moon.

3) Agility; Crime Fighter; Guilt; Mad Scientist; Chainsaw.

4) Steampunk; Bizarre; H.P. Lovecraft; Good Versus Evil; Chainsaw; Hit In Crotch.

5) Female Psychopath; Blood; Drill In The Head; Killer; Disturbing.

6) Sword And Sorcery; Secret; Immaturity; Secret Plot; Cat.

7) Girl Next Door; Clock; Manure; 1880s; Model Train.

8) Anti Hero; Super Power; Invasion; Telekinesis; Catholic.

9) Shakespearean Quote; Death Of Hero; Father Son Relationship; Terraforming; Amazing Grace Hymn.

10) Prison Escape; Accident; Prison; Tense; Search.



A Movie Thing.

The Hidden Blogger tagged me with a pretty interesting movie meme. I usually try to pace these things out, and considering how I'll be busy with multiple musical gigs pretty much every weekend until the middle of June, then after a free weekend busy until August, I probably should save meme posts for when I'll really need them. On the other hand, I watched four hours of season finales on Thursday night, so there's that. Anyway, with all the movies I've seen, this caught my attention:

1) Go to IMDB.com and look up 10 of your favorite movies.
2) Post five (5) official IMDB "Plot Keywords" for these 10 picks.
3) Have your friends guess the movie titles.

There was an additional bit about tagging people, but I'll leave it wide open for anyone to do if they so choose. I've seen a lot of movies--well over 1,000--but I haven't seen every movie and my tastes are somewhat specific. This is more than a meme; this will demonstrate just how well my readers know me...or not.

Let the game begin:

1) Thunderstorm; Father Son Reunion; Funeral; Loss Of Husband; Ventriloquist.

2) Messiah; Futuristic; Alien Contact; Space Station; Good Versus Evil.

3) Tragic Villain; Extraterrestrial Being; Emperor; Floating Island; Laser Beam.

4) Bizarre; Ancient Greece; Greek Mythology; Greek God; Medusa.

5) Self Worth; 1980s; Fall From Tree; Telescope; Fire.

6) New York City; Mission; Whimsical; Scientist; Demonic Possession.

7) Student Driver; Mind Control; Femme Fatale; Police Detective; Queen.

8) Vigilante; Sword; Revenge; Supernatural; Industrial Music.

9) Cantonese; Music Video; Breaking The Fourth Wall; Product Placement; Flying Monkey.

10) Loss Of Wife; Blood Splatter; Famous Line; Car Battery; Christmas Tree



The Inevitable Eight

I saw it at Rey's. I saw it at Big Orange Michael's. And now, I'm going to share 8 Random Facts About MCF:

1) My real name isn't MCF, nor do any of those letters correspond to my actual initials. One or two readers have the notion that my last name is “Whorenelli”, but I won't confirm or deny that. Only five readers that I know of possess even a portion of my true secret identity.

2) I write about being self-conscious, and I maintain a secret identity, but I'm so competitive that I really would post a real, current picture if I got the most votes for Best Geek Blog or Best Blog About Stuff. I just want to win something.

3) I might be competitive, but I'm more passive than proactive. When I was much younger I used to initiate, used to actively seek out people and plans. Over the years, I became more laid back, and let stuff happen, reacting. It's not that I'm incapable of desire or foresight. I can see what course of action I should take in various situations, and anticipate outcomes. I'm secretly very good at planning, but actually executing more than the first step of a plan proves difficult. More and more, I keep thinking about a Chinese proverb posted in my gym: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Thus far, I applied it this past weekend when I opened my shed and saw how many boxes, tools, and other items blocked my access to the lawnmower. Maybe I'll apply the philosophy to something more significant one of these days.

4) My mom finally was released from the hospital on Wednesday. My dad had a bad back from standing around or sitting in uncomfortable chairs, and our cat Cubby moped around, but it was Chirp who suffered the most from her absence. Cubby will eat anything and as often as food is put in front of him. Chirp has always been a more finicky eater, and if he doesn't like a certain dish he'll scratch at the wall or pull a napkin over it, and generally make the same gesture he makes burying his business in the litter box. The cat can't speak, but knows how to tell us, “this food is crap”. So when I came home Thursday night, I found out he hadn't eaten all day, and my mom thought he was skin and bones and that we hadn't fed him while she was away. She was mad that my dad brought home the wrong baby food, and he didn't want to go back out in the rain, so I soon found myself in the local supermarket buying baby food for a cat, along with some special crunchy food actually meant for a feline. I had to call her on my cell phone to verify, and when I got home she dished out some strained lamb and he gobbled it up. “You saved his life!” she said, probably exaggerating, but he did seem to perk up.

5) I'm not a fan of the supermarket. I hated being dragged there by my mom as a child, especially because she takes so long to shop. Sometimes we'd leave one supermarket because an item was too expensive, find it was more in a second supermarket, and double back to the first one. When I need something specific, like milk, I go to the milk aisle, grab milk, then go to the cash register. But my mom, no matter what she was going to the store for, always walked up and down every single aisle, in case something was on sale. It was fun for her; torture for me. I got to an age where I was embarrassed to be seen with her, afraid kids from school would make fun of me. Then I was sent to a private high school, and refused to go in local supermarkets even by myself, because I didn't want to run into anyone I used to know and get made fun of. I'm happy to say I've gotten over that irrational fear, and while the supermarket is a necessary “evil”, I'll go when I need to, like when my little friend was in trouble Wednesday night and needed special food.

6) My mom is a packrat. We have a house full of our own stuff, stuff from when our neighbor moved a few years ago, and stuff from when my uncle moved a few months ago. She hates to see things thrown out, and will take stuff just because its free. We currently have a refrigerator full of snacks from the hospital, individually wrapped slices of pound cake and other treats she hoarded with each meal. I'm not quite as bad as she is, but I definitely inherited that gene and she just has a head start. I had over 4,000 comic books when I stopped collecting and tallying them about 10 years ago. I used to buy 20 or more a week; now I might pick up 5 or 6 once a year at a convention, or buy the occasional trade paperback. I stopped collecting for various reasons, but one of them was that I was running out of room. I've stopped buying DVDs for the same reason, and because the technology will soon be obsolete. But I still have all of them, and all of my VHS tapes. I bring more in than I get rid of, and my solution to a space problem is to stop or slow down my intake of junk, but never to part with any I've gathered already. “God forbid there's ever a fire in this house.” has been a frequent saying of my mom's for as long as I've known her....

7) In elementary school, I used to breakdance. I wasn't very good, and kids laughed at me, but I enjoyed attention back then, even negative attention, so I did it more and invented my own versions of dances. Even though they weren't even trying, my classmates still had to critique my skills and for some reason I listened to them. I never kicked anyone, though.

8) If it were socially acceptable, I probably wouldn't walk around in a cloak out there in the real world. I'm not really as big of a loser as I paint myself to be. I do think my own armor would be pretty sweet...


PBW: Nebulous

From the sidewalk, Ground Zero looks like any other construction site. To be honest, I wasn't even sure I was taking a picture of that solemn ground until I got home, and at the time I had other concerns. I will have to make a specific trip with my good camera someday, but today's Photo Blog Wednesday is about the 2007 Nebula Awards.

It was a great honor when my editor invited me to join our team's table. One of my coworkers joked with her that he expected a lot of costumes, but she quickly dismissed that notion by pointing out that these were professionals. Authors, editors, and others in the publishing industry who create science fiction and fantasy should never be confused with the fans, especially fans of the popular stuff. It was no different than any other literary awards banquet, save for the subject matter.

As the day approached, I considered whether or not it would be good form to bring a camera. There would be no easy way to conceal my good camera, and I didn't want to come across as the geeky fanboy I am. I work in the same industry, perhaps on the fringes. So I brought my old one which has no flash and no real zoom and figured at the very least I'd get to Manhattan early and get in some good city shots before the sun went down.

My luck ran true to form. Despite checking the subway schedules online the day before, posted notices in the station eventually informed me of construction taking place last weekend only. I watched two of the trains I was waiting for go by on a different track before I changed platforms. When I switched platforms and finally caught the right train, the announcer said that 14th Street would be the next and final stop. It barely got me out of midtown.

What could I do? I could have waited on the platform, hoping another train would run that line further downtown. Or I could walk from Greenwich Village to the Financial District. That's just over three miles, but it was a nice evening and I needed the exercise. Other than a few tricky intersections, such as by the Holland Tunnel where cars blocked the intersection consistently to make their turns, I made it there unscathed, and only a half hour late for the cocktail hour. The rest of the evening was a blur, a banquet followed by an awards ceremony headed by Ron Moore, most recently of Battlestar Galactica fame:

Did I mention I had my old camera? I did film some of his speech:

He went on after that first joke to speak about protecting the rights of creators, especially in a digital age when novels might soon be as easily distributed as videos and music. I'm not sure if filming even a clip of his speech infringes on anything, but it didn't seem right to film more than that. Besides, I was there in a professional capacity.

The complete list of winners is available at the Science Fiction Writer's Association web site. When an episode of BSG lost to Howl's Moving Castle for best script, Moore joked about burning down the hotel. I'll still have to see that movie. Mr. Miyazaki wasn't in town for the awards, but they announced that George Takei would be heading to Japan to present it to him. Ohhh my.

The awards themselves were interesting, glass blocks with swirls and planets, and no two alike. The authors, gifted wordsmiths, all gave great speeches. Joe Haldeman joked about missing a nomination by one vote and wondered if his special time machine glasses might not cause him to read a name like Herbert George Wells instead of someone from the present. D.G. Compton was genuinely moved when he was awarded a meteorite as Author Emeritus, and didn't joke that he ”got a rock”.

The ceremony concluded around midnight and, still two or three trains and two hours from home, I opted not to attend any of the after parties. I caught a subway with some coworkers who knew their way around, and made the journey back in a fraction of the time. The next day, it was still light out after I got back from visiting my mom in the hospital, so I shot this nifty robot we got as guests:

My mom is still in the hospital by the way, possibly with a Hiatal Hernia according to the latest tests. I suspect this resulted from all the coughing when she had pneumonia. I guess it's better that the doctors are erring on the side of caution, but I know she's eager to come home.

While I was shooting those robots, I decided to capture some of my action figures while the sun was still out, clear shots to offset those nebulous ones:



MCF's Perilous! 3.III

Welcome to MCF's Perilous! round three point roman numeral three. Things certainly got interesting in our last round, didn't they? And it's not too late for anyone else to join in...

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. “BOOM.”

2. Sweet Home Alabama.

3. Peter.

4. She tagged up her gown.

5. Too many.

6. Molly.

7. Because he's fluent in Japanese.

8. Soooo many French Fries!

9. Flying.

10. You would think that...



Phantasmic Links 5.14.07

I hope all the moms out there had a super Mother's Day! My mom's was a little disappointing; it's impossible to find a doctor to release someone from a hospital on a Sunday, let alone a holiday. Even though her fever's down, they hooked her up to an IV again and kept her for at least another day. She's getting really antsy and I found her wheeling her IV pole and roaming the halls when I got there. When my dad and I left several hours later, she offered to walk us out to the parking lot. The nurse laughed at her escape attempt. I'm not going to jinx her any more by predicting when she'll come home. I'll just move on to this week's PHANTASMIC LINKS:

I'm still up for Best Geek Blog as well as Best Blog About Stuff. It's a great honor, and I appreciate the votes I've received so far. And if I win, I have to unmask.

Slow down and enjoy the 10 Greatest Movie Car Chases!k

A Wasp builds a nest, and the detail is insane.

Photoshop can be used for good or evil, depending on your point of view. I think I've dated both of those girls....

Aww, look at the cute Alien baby costume...

While perusing women's clothing, Curt came across the Lochers Collection, innocent looking shirts with not-so-innocent doubletake-inducing sayings. Warning: sit contains adult language and brilliant marketing.

When I inevitably try filming a train like this, either my camera or I will end up with serious damage. Hat tip to B13.

Also from B13, an addicting Sunburn Game is perfect for this time of year.

I wasted a lot of time on SuPuzzle before I discovered it was impossible, and yet there is a way to beat it. Can you do it?

Fire and Rube Goldberg are another combination I should probably avoid.

Here are 1,000 ways to waste time at work, other than actually working, of course.

Finally, generate your own LOLCats. I didn't have time now, but I'll have to try this during the week.

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!



Blogroll Villains: Gang Five

Before we begin, some points of interest:

1) My mom is feeling fine. As of Saturday, her temperature was down to 96 degrees, which is normal for her. The doctor expects her to come home on Sunday, though she wants to stay at least until lunch because she liked what was on the menu. She's ok.

2) Saturday night found me attending my first Nebula Awards ceremony, a very cool experience. I may go into more detail later this week, but highlights included unexpected subway construction causing me to walk a great distance, some low quality photos due to bringing my old digital camera because it was more compact and fit in my suit pocket, and some very funny hosting by Ron Moore. Also, I got a robot.

3) Wendy does it again! On her first try, she correctly identified all five of our last batch of Blogroll Villains. Now that she's the first reader to win more than one fragment of the Mysterious Master Prize™, I may have to make these harder. I'm running out of blogs though, so there will only be one or two more of these. Meanwhile, Aerelon.jpg is on its way to Wendy.

Heroes transformed into villains, thanks to the power of Heromachine, and here's who we fought last time:

16) Diana Prince.
17) SwanShadow.
18) Jamie Dawn.
19) FawnDoo.
20) Sean.

Will one of you successfully leave a comment correctly identifying all five of this week's Blogroll Villains and receive a piece of the rare Mysterious Master Prize™? Will I find a way to make “froom” a running joke? Will I win Best Geek Blog and post my real face as a result?

And who are these people?