Monsters… from the id!

Okay, so my wife is out of town for the week, at an education conference in Florida. They are definitely making sure these people get their money’s worth, as they’re starting out at 9am and going until 9pm. I’ve gotten to speak to her once, and exchanged text messages a couple of times. I miss her terribly. She comes home tomorrow night, when I’ll be performing, and doubtless by the time I get home, she’ll be trying to catch up on sleep. There is, at least, a better than even chance I’ll get to see her at some point Sunday.

So somehow, in all this missing my wife and wishing she were closer, my subconscious decides it needs to drag one of my old girlfriends into my dreams last night.

Now, I already know that my subconscious is a jerk. It likes to give me auditory cues when I’m asleep. For the past few years, it has been the doorbell ringing. I hate the sound of a doorbell. I fucking despise it. Were it not for the fact that my wife would inevitably disapprove of it,  I would have disconnected our doorbell ages ago. But I’ve started getting wise to the mechanations of the id; I learned to ignore it and go back to sleep at 3:30 in the morning. And I’ve started to apply the same logic to occurrences during an afternoon nap. If they’re a real person, they’ll ring again.

The wily Id has figured this out and has lately trotted out a new one: the sound my smartphone makes when my wife sends me a text message or an e-mail. It’s the Jetson’s doorbell, so the curse of that particular household “convenience” continues.

Then, last night. My dreams were filled with people turning around too rapidly and accidentally hitting me with their elbows; for some reason this was known as doing a “Jared”, so I can only assume my Id is  addicted to obscure inside jokes. The last person to do this to me was the aforementioned old girlfriend. and I gave her a hug anyway.

The elbow thing I can see… my left shoulder’s been killing me this week, an old injury that seems to need no trigger to reassert itself, it just movies in for a while when the fancy strikes it. The old girlfriend thing I can also see; I really, really miss my wife, and my subconscious is a jerk. It could have trotted out an image of her, or of any of the past girlfriends with whom  still have cordial relationships; no, it had to drag out the one who ripped my heart out of my chest and proceeded to eat it while absently sprinkiing salt over the gaping, still-bleeding wound. Yeah, that one.

Along with the doorbell, I would really, really love to disconnect that damned subconscious.

Twitter makes me spend my money

Yeah, it does. But then it has helped me spend it in a much smarter manner.

Chris Sims (@theisb) once tweeted he was “buying the hell out of this”, and the link took me to the woot! shirt of the day, which was an intensely clever Shakespeare design. I, too, bought the hell out of that. Twice, as I wasn’t so stupid as to not buy one for my wife. At the time, it was only $10. It’s $15 now, which is still cheap for such a cool shirt.

Then Web comic luminary Bully the Little Stuffed Bull (@bully_thelsb) starts working me.  First announcing that Barnes & Noble dot com is selling the two volume MAD’s Maddest Artist Don Martin, formerly $150, for a mere $20. I had always looked at that beast with desire in my eyes and lust in my heart. Even with shipping… and I have handled granite counter tops that are lighter… it was still like 1/6th the original cost. That’s an 80% discount. I think.

Then the pernicious little plush toy sends out a link proclaiming that the very same Barnes & Noble site is selling Criterion DVDs for half-price. This would have been the ruin of a lesser man. And it almost was, for me.

Well, not ruin, but drama is coin of the realm for me, doncha know.

I’m definitely on a budget these days, but I had a bit that could go for such a worthy cause. The Criterion discs are the whole reason the digital format was created, and anytime I can glom on to one for twenty bucks or less is a micro-Golden Age for me. I limited myself to three, one being a stripped-down Art House Essential disc, which was already reasonably priced, but suddenly became downright cheap (and how I had gone my life without owning a copy of Cocteau’s Beauty & the Beast is beyond me).

All well and good. Until I was going over my online bank account and noticed I had gotten charged for the discs twice, kinda negating the half-priciness of the whole thing. I immediately shot off an e-mail to their customer service department (the 800 number is a masterpiece of robot uncaringness) and this morning the offending charge was erased. Customer service is not just a legend, and B&N has insured they will continue to get my money, the clever fellows.

So. Almost-ruin. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m ranking that under first world problems.

That Criterion sale is still ongoing, should you be interested, and not afraid of ruin.

Into the Concrete Jungle

Never, ever examine the workings of the Universe. In other words,  I woke up this morning long before my alarm clock rang. Or beeped. Or did anything like that. In spite of some difficulty getting to sleep last night. Who knew that a post-9PM Grande Vanilla Latte would be a bad idea?

Why, you might ask, would you do such a thing when you cut out all caffeine in your life so you could still have your morning coffee? Well, there were extenuating circumstances. I had already had two beers, and didn’t need another one.

I journeyed into Houston from my suburban stronghold to attend a meeting of SWAMP, which stands for the SouthWest Alternate Media Project, a filmmaker’s support group. I know they were instrumental in getting Belezaire the Cajun made, and had a hand in lots of local indie films. They’ve been around at least as long as I have, so they’re doing something right. And the latest thing they did right was bringing my friend Chris Holland in to speak last night.

Chris has been in the trenches working for film festivals the last five years, noticed he was answering the same questions over and over again, and did the logical thing and wrote a book, Film Festival Secrets. He distilled salient points into a ten-step presentation, said a lot of things that the budding filmmakers needed to hear, and had a very strong turn-out. Eventually we managed to get away from the attendees to get a drink and play catch-up (and for me to go awww at pictures of his newborn baby girl). The meeting had taken place in a bar in Montrose, and I had quickly determined that they had Guinness and had availed myself of that during the meet-and-greet and presentation.

Chris mentioned there was another bar a block over that might be quieter for our conversation, but I had lived in the Montrose and knew that bar a little more, um, interesting than we might have cared for. Went to where a nice coffeehouse had been next to the art house theater, found that it had gone the way of most of the things of my youth (how disturbing that I now consider my 30s my “youth”), and settled on a Starbucks, allowing us to suck down their free wi-fi with our coffees.

My shoulder starting acting sometime during all that – why, I’m not sure (though it probably contributed to my poor sleep). In a fantasy world, it was because Chris and I indulged ins some crime fighting. In reality, it’s because I’m an old fart who had to be wrestled out of his reading chair to join society.

Still up: taking The Boy to see Predators. Oooh, that will end well.

Feasts, Famines, and Emcees

The laptop now plays Half-Life. Peace reigns throughout the universe. The Boy even got up with me at 7AM to resume playing the game.

That was an absolute lie. The snooze button got a workout this morning. I wish I knew what was different of late; usually I hit the sack at 1AM, when I am too tired to do anything but sleep (yes, this is necessary – otherwise, I don’t sleep), then my traitorous brain awakens me at 6AM or even earlier. Lately, I’ve been sleeping until my alarm. I’m grateful, but I’d love to know what is making my nighttime different.

Possibly it’s due to the prospect of the feast/famine dichotomy finally turning the corner into Feast territory. People are nibbling at the outreaches of my availability, intimating they are getting ducks in rows for future productions. Whip those ducks into shape, say I, Daddy needs a new pair of glasses.

But the part about The Boy not sleeping in until Noon? That was The Truth.

Now, if you’ll forgive me, I have to go work magic on some emcee speeches I promised to write for a church function. That would be the one where I was waiting for more information to be given, and I now realize this info is not coming. Or if it does, it won’t be what I need. Why, for instance, I was given the recipes for the desserts that will be served is quite, quite beyond me. This is to be an evening of jazz music, not a cooking show.

I’m not even sure why they need anyone to write emcee speeches. They are not that difficult. “Good evening, Here’s the band. Bid at the silent auction. Give us money. Don’t drink and drive. Thank you.”

I will just, as ever, throw up my hands, exclaim, “Civilians!” under my breath, and get on with it.

(The image is from Savage Chickens. They funny. Go read.)

Man vs Machine

Caramba, that was a weekend. Or, rather, it wasn’t, if a weekend is defined as “time off”. There are a certain number of things which need to be accomplished this week, and I’m trying to spread them out so as to not get overwhelmed. Ha! I almost said that with a straight face.

My wife is in Florida at an education conference this week, and took her shiny new netbook with her. This, of course, was causing my pre-teen son to wither and die, as he was consuming gaming videos 18 hours a day on the damned thing and would now be forced to… oh no, do something. (again, ha! Like I’m any different)

SO I’ve been attempting to resuscitate my old Gateway M675 laptop, which is hard to do on a limited budget. I had figured out, long ago when it went to techno heaven, that it was the hard drive that was the main culprit, with a boot sector that was defying all attempts to repair. The model is now old enough that I can get a replacement on eBay fairly cheap, but then comes the next hurdle: where the heck did I put that driver disc?

That question is still not resolved, incidentally. Gateway’s support pages provided most of what I needed, and another week was spent trying to get those to work in harmony. Kept getting the dreaded blue screens with a different stop code every time, started over, same thing happened, pulled one of the RAM chips – sorry kid, you’ll have to get by on a mere 512 megs – and everything works. At least for a netbook substitute.

So now he’s wondering why he can’t play Half-Life on it (heavy pre-teen sigh).

Well, while wrestling with the damned thing yesterday I watched (deep breath) Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (long title) with him, because he’s a big fan of the books. I was entertained. Some of the CGI didn’t hold up too well; that may be one of the reasons, besides money, that I’m in nooooo hurry to upgrade to Blu-Ray; watching Spider-Man 3 on a monitor at Fry’s Electronics I found myself looking at each scene and cataloging the various CGI elements therein.

Back to the library this afternoon to turn in the Simon/Kirby Sandman collection, among others, and pick up more Osamu Tezuka manga. Then trying to get the laptop to play Half-Life without screwing up what I’ve accomplished to this point. Pray for me.

Pause Button.

Wow, now that I’m done with this week’s work deadline, I find that it is not yet time to relax.

I have two shows in the next 36 hours. Have to take some folks to the airport. Shop for groceries. Return important correspondence which may (I hope I hope) mean more employment in the coming year. Try to finish repairing my old notebook so my son can use it while my wife takes her netbook to an education conference in Florida (yes, she’s one of the folks I’m shuttling). Also need to go to the grocery store. That at least has to be put off until I get the pay from the shows, so I guess that’s not an “A” priority.

I don’t blog over the weekend, and I probably won’t be doing much of anything else, social media-wise. In fact, I am considering actively withdrawing from every-bloody-thing this weekend except perhaps a book and some cartoons, because frankly folks – the air of stupidity and meanness that has typified what passes for conversation and coverage in this age went from merely toxic to positively carcinogenic this week. Comic strip artist Tom Tomorrow has Tweeted that he doesn’t want a Kill Switch, but a pause button would be in order, and I am actively going to use it before I get seriously ill again.

That said, have a nice weekend.

Deadline Blues

It happens, folks. Up against a deadline, got no time to urp up 500 words on flossing or suchlike. Instead, have the results of two minutes surfing on YouTube:

Is it just me?

Listening to NPR on the way to work, heard a story about the tip structure at restaurants – turns out some guy had noticed that the “suggested gratuity” on the ticket printed was a percentage of the post-tax total, not the pre-tax total, as he had done in his head. Who was to blame? INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM AHOY!

Sitting in the driver’s seat, I thought, “Uh, that would be a function of the processing software, no?”

After grilling Mastercard and the owner of the restaurant (who was shocked, shocked that this was happening), our intrepid truth-seeker found out… it was the processing software.

I swear to God, sometimes I think I’m the only guy tangentially involved in the industry who has ever made a spreadsheet.

Conversely, you gotta fill that air time somehow.

But enough of that. Here is a girl being eaten alive by pug-dogs. Enjoy.

This is how movies happen, people

From the LA Times: Thousands of Spiders Pour From Ship’s Cargo.

This is, of course, a recipe for a very profitable exploitation film. (or at least, it would be, if the box office failure of Snakes on A Plane hadn’t poisoned that particular well) It follows the lines of a classic Hollywood pitch: “It’s Kingdom of the Spiders … on a boat!”

Correspondent Professor Mortis suggests using Bill Cosby rather than the over-exposed Samuel L. Jackson: Cosby’s version of swearing would, at the very least, ensure the all-important PG-13 rating. I would also suggest Steven Seagal as a Buddhist scientist who hampers our hero by insisting that we try to communicate with the spiders. And we must have William Shatner for nostalgia value.

(Despite the title of that clip, I think blaming Shatner for the ridiculousness of the moments is, to quote Bobcat Goldthwaite, like blaming Ronald MacDonald for a bad cheeseburger)

But enough of this. Let’s have a pug dog saying, “Batman!” (He can be in the movie, too!)

Rumors may not have been rumors

So, without a show Saturday night, I found myself with two days off in a row, an oddity in my life as it stands now. So, of course, having convinced myself I was well enough for two grueling days of outdoor shooting and two days in the office, my body decided it was time for a complete collapse. My body can be a real jerk sometimes.

So I lost a fair portion of Saturday to fitful sleep, but awoke feeling somewhat better. Overall, the best way to describe weekend (besides urpy) is to state that as of Friday evening, I had 18 books checked out from the library. As of today, that number is 11, and I am better for it.

I finished 101 Sci-Fi Movies You Must See Before You Die. and (I suppose) unsurprisingly, I had seen most of them.  Like the documentary Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession, it serves mainly as a reminder of movies I haven’t seen yet that I really should, like the original Solaris or The Amphibian Man. There are some entries that are unapologetic, too, though they make good points about the much-reviled Signs and the personally-despised Starship Troopers. Though not I, Robot. I ain’t never gonna like I, Robot.

Also finished How to Survive a Horror Movie. It ran out of steam for me in the last quarter, but I feel that was largely me and certainly not the writing, which remains sharp and funny to the end. I think I had simply tired of the central joke and was ready for it to be over. That’s a danger for extended riffs.

The rest were from the world of graphic novels. Welcome to Tranquility, which is a great story set in a retirement community for super heroes and villains, written by Gail Simone, art by Neil Googe. I loved this book, and apparently it is coming back, but without Simone at the helm. Le sigh.

Next up was the first volume of Weapons of the Gods by Tony Wong. Chinese kung fu comics! I loved the Jademan translations during their brief American runs, and the genre is occasionally problematic. This is the culture that brought us novels like Heroes of the Marsh and The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, thousands of pages long with hundred of characters. This shows in the comics, and there are at least three major cliffhangers in play by the time the volume ends.

Next up, a volume of Larry Marder’s Tales of the Beanworld, A Gift Comes! – I had forgotten just how beguiling Beanworld was. The expansion of the world beyond the process that is Beanworld doesn’t feel forced, but rightfully makes you miss the simplicity of the early world. If that doesn’t make sense to you you should be reading Beanworld.

Then, finally, the first volume of Russ Manning’s Magnus, Robot Fighter 4000AD. Quite a title, and one of the favorites of my youth. An admitted attempt to re-invent Tarzan in a science-fiction setting, Magnus is trained from birth by an intelligent robot to be strong enough to smash robots with his bare hands. You see, in the year 4000, man has become too dependent on robots, and would be helpless in the face of rebellious metal men were it not for … wait for it… a robot fighter! Yeah, the stories are kinds simplistic, but these were definitely adventure comics for boys. And, I suppose, girls who liked men in shorts who could shatter steel with their bare hands.

Still in my possession: three works by Osamu Tesuka – the youthful mandate for more manga has some benefits for me, even if I gave DMC a try and found it not to my liking – more Batman and Jack Kirby. I heart my library.