Friday, June 29, 2007

Who Put the PU in My Supper?

I'm at a restaurant yesterday, taking my mother out for some lunch, and just as we are seated at a table, a nearby woman uncaps her lotion bottle and begins lathering the pungent cream all over her hands.

She is a mere few feet away and the sickly sweet smell quickly roils over to invade my rather sensitive nostrils. I try to ignore it. It doesn't work. The woman spreads even more noxious slime across her raspy knuckles and the fumes waft over me in waves of excruciating reek. I literally begin to gag.

Now, I am pretty sensitive to strong odors. Specifically floral and other "sweet" smells. Not everyone is, I understand this. But, more than a few are. I am seconds away from reversing the natural digestion of my earlier breakfast. My plan is to aim it Lotion Lady's way.

Instead, I grab my menu and previously delivered beverage, and move to a booth a few dozen feet away. I gasp for fresh air, as my mother explains to the waitress why we moved. Lotion Lady and her husband are looking our way ... laughing.

Other than the laughing, this is an all too common scenario for me as I go out in public places. Mostly it occurs in restaurants, but even trips to the grocery store, mall, or Wal-Mart assault my senses with women laden in lotions, poured in perfume, or clouded with cologne.

Typically, it is one of three demographics who are walking miasma clouds; teenage girls, "desperate" housewives, or old women.

I think the teenagers bathe in the perfume to cover up the un-washed smell of themselves. Teen boys also do this with colognes, but it is far, far less noticeable to me. In the hot Florida weather everyone sweats, and no girl wants to smell like dirty socks. So they pour perfume on themselves to mask the stench. This only makes them reek in a different way.

Yuppie women, the desperate housewives, also seem to delight in making themselves into walking perfume counters. My theory on this is that the yuppie penchant for having aromatic candles burning in their houses, scented bath products, and designer perfumes, their sense of smell has been so overwhelmed that, instead of a moderate amount of scent, these nasal terrorists require massive quantities to be able to smell it.

Old women are in a simimalr position. Your sense of smell fades as you age (one of the reasons food seems to get blander, and spicy food tastes better, even if your heartburn tells you not to eat it). Therefore the older women use more product to be bale to smell it. This explains why scents popular with older women seem to come in huge bottles. They need the quantities it hold so they can get enough to smell it themselves.

Several years ago, I had severe respiratory problems. I'd miss weeks of work at time fighting off lung infections, double pneumonia, and excruciating asthma attacks. Just as the doctors would clear me safe to go back to work, I'd come down with another go-round of problems.

One doctor asked where I worked. I figured he wanted to make sure it wasn't with harmful chemicals or other toxic fumes. I described my open air phone center, with it's rows upon rows of low-walled cubicles. He nodded and asked me if there were many women who worked there. Around 80% were women, I answered. He asked how many did I see using lotions, spritzing perfumes, spraying desks with sanitizers, hair spraying their coiffures.

I paused ... most of them.

And that was my problem. I was breathing in all this chemical garbage for 9 hours a day. It aggravated my weakened lungs and immune system, setting off a chain reaction of bronchial inflammation, mass mucus generation, and other nasty reactions in my chest and throat. It also pushed my allergies to the limit.

Government has banned smoking in most public places, and I applaud that. But I sure wish some restrictions on the use of perfumes, lotions, and other scented products would be imposed.

How do you feel about strong scents in public places? Does it bother you? Do you get sick from them? Do you contribute to it with your own barrage of aromatic concoctions?

Blogger has a new Polling feature I have taken advantage of. Please take a moment to answer the poll to the right, in the sidebar. It's near the top, so you may have to scroll up.

Answers are anonymous, and no personal data is gathered by clicking on it (maybe your IP, though). I dunno if any cookies get transmitted.

The poll will up for a week, after which I'll revisit the numbers in a future blog post.

Until then, you got a spare clothespin on you?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

Live Free or Die Hard Poster

Oh Noes!
Terrorists stole teh Interweb!

The fourth installment of the Die Hard action franchise (Die Hard 4.0 in most non-US markets) pits Bruce Willis' everyman hero, Detective John McClane, against Internet terrorists bent on the destruction of the United States ... or are they?

The movie plays out like a watered-down Hackers (1995) meshed with Bruce Willis' own, more recent, 16 Blocks (2006), with more explosions, cursing, and improbable situations thrown into the mix.

And, since when was it decided the Die Hard franchise was to be turned into buddy movies?

Die Hard with a Vengeance paired Samuel L. Jackson with Bruce Willis. It was a departure from the previous two films; not only by adding a secondary "buddy" character, but by moving the location from New York, losing Reginald VelJohnson's Sgt. Al Powell, and not happening on, or around, Christmas. For all that, Die Hard with a Vengeance was a fun, entertaining action romp.

Live Free or Die Hard pairs Bruce Willis with Justin Long as Matt Farrell, a computer super-nerd. I was extremely worried Long would pull the movie down and was very surprised when he didn't. You actually begin to like the mousy computer nerd as he slowly transforms from the whiny, scared spitless punk in the beginning of the film into "a guy who does what is needed because there is no one else to do it."

Along the way we are also introduced to McClane's grown up daughter, who while not having a lengthy part in the film, plays an important role. Okay, she ends up playing a hostage, thus giving McClane more incentive to beat the snot out of the bad guys. It's not like he wasn't already trying to stop them from mucking up the country, now he's really pissed at them.

What is wrong with bad guys, anyhow? In every single action movie where a villain uses the protagonist's loved ones as a hostage, it always turns out bad. All it does is make the good guy madder, and sets him on a bee line straight for the main baddie.

If they absolutely have to use a beloved hostage, why take that hostage with you?

Put the hostage somewhere as far from where you are, or plan to be, as possible. then make sure the good guy knows exactly where the hostage is and how to get there. Send them to MapQuest for directions if needed. But make sure he goes after his daughter / wife / fiance /best friend / whatever far, far from you. While he's out saving the hostage across the state, blow up the world from the relative safety of your good-guy-free command center.

Better yet, don't actually have the hostage at all. Fake it. So when Good Guy finally arrives to save her, she's not there. Never was there. He can call her on a cell and find out she was okay, never in danger, just over at a slumber party enjoying make-overs, popcorn, and talking about boys or something. Good Guy is now tired, all his anger used up on killing disposable baddies, and now relieved to find out his daughter is safe. Bad Guy laughs and presses the Big Red Button ... BOOM ... plan completed.

Of course, if McClane didn't take out the main bad guy's love interest, he might have left his daughter alone. The baddie love interest is played by Maggie Q, and is a sexy computer nerd ninja. Seriously. And you get to see her and McClane go mano-a-mano. Or would that be man-a-womano? Talk about women gaining equality. ~.^

Timothy Olyphant plays Thomas Gabriel, the mastermind behind the Internet terrorists. He starts off a bit stiff, but quickly warms up to be a credible nemesis for McClane. He's brilliant, ruthless, and just a bit off his rocker. And, like all Die Hard villains, there is more under the surface of his actions than what it seems. Not terribly far under the surface in this guy's case, but still ...

What I liked is that he was the mastermind, the brains behind the whole thing, not the toughest SOB McClane has to face. He manipulates, he schmoozes, he gives the orders to do the dirty work, then watches it all unfold. Of course, as it unfolds, McClane begins to unravel it, and Gabriel becomes more and more unhinged. You can see the seething anger roiling beneath the surface of his carefully maintained calm exterior. The eruptions of anger, the losses of control, are interesting to watch.

Anyhow, McClane gets his ass kicked almost as bad as he kicks the bad guys', as usual. He always bounces back. Sometimes cleaner, and less bloody, than he was in the previous scene.

As Gabriel growls to McClane at one point, "I thought I killed you," McClane's "Yeah, I get that a lot," puts his violent day into perspective.

The action sequences are as good as ever, though Willis is showing his age in more than just his heavier features and lack of hair. He seems a little slower, a little stiffer, more world weary ... but this is counter-pointed by his experience with this sort of thing, and referenced, tongue-in-cheek, several times throughout the film. He is an anachronism in a high-tech world.

Over all, it was a good movie. Very fun, very entertaining, not too cerebral. It moved at a decent pace, though the beginning was a bit slow, and the various cut-aways to the FBI dragged down the pacing a bit. The action was what you would expect from a Die Hard film, as are the improbable situations McClane finds himself in.

I mean, he takes out a helicopter with a car. He fights a sexy computer nerd ninja girl inside an SUV inside an elevator shaft. He fights an F35 with a semi-truck. He even suddenly knows how to fly a helicopter ... sorta. The ending is a good, yet typical, McClane shocker, but you never get to hear his full catch-phrase.

The price they paid to get a PG-13 rating. Though, with all the other rampant cursing and heavy violence, you wouldn't know it.

I recommend seeing this in the theater for the Big Screen and the Movie Sound (and the Jumbo Coke Freezies). I'm also getting it on DVD when it comes out. Not the best action movie of the summer, or of the series. But it's better than Vengeance and a worthy addition to the fast fading (and fast aging Willis) Die Hard franchise.

Next up ... Die Hard with a Respirator!

Yippie Kiy Yay. Mother Fu ... *cough cough cough*

Raivynn Rating

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Cable Guy

The Cable Guy Came
No, His Name Wasn't Larry
Everything Works Now

I'd been having intermittent Internet outages caused by my cable modem. After I went through TeleHell to get a live technician, he eventually set up an in-house technician to come out.

The tech came today. Nice guy, contracted out by BrightHouse to service cable equipped homes.

He did a signal test on the cable line which runs to my modem. It was at a -2. Now, I thought -2 sounded horrible, but he assured me that the cable modems are rated to work well at signal strengths of -7 to +7. He also told me the sporadic outages were likely due to the modem overheating.

I don't know anything about it. I suppose he was telling me the truth and not feeding me a line. When my modem was not on the fritz, it worked fantastically well. But, I can see the overheating thing. I am online way more than I should be. Also, it is pretty dusty down where the modem sits, though the modem itself had very little dust on it, or in it, when I blew it out with compressed air.

There was, however, a HUGE sticker with esoteric scribbling on it which the previous cable guy had placed over a significant portion of the air vents/heat sink on one side of the modem. I had removed that the other day, at the urging of a good friend, and only had the cable modem crap out on me once since.

Anyhow, I also mentioned that the digital signal to the tv set-top box occasionally was distorted, resulting in staticy pictures, skipping frames, or garbled sound.

He replaced a splitter piece with a new, better one. And he also replaced a length of cable which had a barrel connector (a splice, basically). The Brighthouse guy who installed my digital service less than year ago apparently spliced a R59 cable into an R6 cable. (I didn't know the significance of that either ... cable man enlightened me).

The R59 cable is pretty thin, extremely flexible, with less wiring inside, resulting a poorer signal and increased chance of kinked and broken lines inside the sheath. He was pretty shocked that someone would use that kind of cable to carry a digital signal and wondered that we did not have even more problems than I described.

Cable man cut an new, single length piece of R6, a much thicker, less flexible line, and installed that. He also exchanged some hardware components out in the main box outside.

Everything seemed fine when he left, no troubles since in the hour he's been gone.

Hopefully, everything stays working with no distortion or outages.

Time will tell.

Found out he plays Everquest, the original version, since 1999. So we discussed online gaming for a while as he worked. I used to play EQ, then played NWN Neverwinter Nights), followed by GW (Guild Wars), leading up to my current obsession with WoW (World of Warcraft). We agreed to disagree on which was the better MMORPG (Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game).

Speaking of which, my new Blood Elf Priest is feeling lonely. I think I'll get her some exercise slaying evil critters or something. ~.^

Monday, June 25, 2007

Jokes My Kids Told Me

Here Are Some Riddles
Mouse Over to See Answers
My Kids Told Me These

Q - What do you get when you cross a centipede with a chicken?
A -   Drumsticks for Everyone!  

Q - Why couldn't the elephant get on the airplane?
A -   Because his trunk wouldn't fit in the overhead compartment!  

Q - How do you keep a moron in suspense?
A -   I'll tell you next week!  

Q - Why was 6 scared?
A -   Because 789!  

Q - What did one IM'r say to the other IM'r when he noticed the last donut was gone?
A -   OICU812  

Q - Why would you never starve on a beach?
A -   Because you can always eat the sand which is there!  

Q - If one child has 6 2/3 sand piles and another has 3 1/3, and you combine them, how many sand piles do you have?
A -   One! (If you combine them, there is just one)  

Q - What is the greatest worldwide use of cowhide?
A -   To cover cows!  

Q - What one word has the most letters in it?
A -   alphabet  

Q - What is the longest word in the English language?
A -   smiles (there is a mile between each s!)  

Sunday, June 24, 2007

My Desk

My Computer Desk
A Fire Hazard in Waiting
No Open Flames, Please

So, a few of the blogs I visit regularly have been showing off their desks recently. I was stuck for a short post today, and decided I would, as well. Try not to look away at the horror. It will just sear itself into your mind anyhow ...
One Spark and I Lose It All It's one of those corner-style units, and fits perfectly in the bay window of my room.

As you can see, I'm a slob. The bookcases and night stand in the room synergize fluently with the clutter and disorganization of the desk. (Actually, I know exactly where everything is. It's when I clean up that I lose things.) Think of it as Funky Feng Shui for Freaks.

Items of note:
  • Clear space on top for cat to laze in the morning sun, tail hanging down atop my monitor.
  • Cardboard stand-up of Varesh from Guild Wars: Nightfall
  • Tennis ball (used for boredom relief and tension release)
  • Stuffed toys (Pikachu and Snorlax from Pokemon; Sully from Monster's Inc; Gamera, a cheap turtle made in China claw game prize that goes on all my trips with me)
  • An old mirrored compact (strategically set to show me whatever is going on at my bedroom door ... blasted kids!)
  • My box o'meds (if I keep it anywhere else I forget to take them)
  • A 20-year-old ceramic statue of Oliver from Disney's Oliver & Co.
  • Paring knife used to open DVDs (lousy security tape)
  • Cruzer micro 1.0GB thumb drive (on the monitor base)
  • Several Dungeons & Dragons reference manuals from 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 3.5 editions

Missing, and my most prized possession, is a hand blown glass dragon. It is no longer up there because said cat from item one knocked it down and broke it! Said cat is lucky she is cute and fluffy, or said cat would be in the doghouse. I've had Yazinperindacles (what I named the glass dragon) since I was in my late teens. (Actually, Tek was with me when I got it at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival).

Strangest thing is probably a box of Fiddle Faddle (two weeks old, half eaten, stale, and should be thrown out) laying down in one of the large cubbys.

So there you have it. My home within my home. The place I spend the vast majority of my life.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

How Much is Too Much?

The Wall o'Movies
Towering Over the Room
I Hope It Won't Fall

Raivynn's DVD Collection

I own 371 DVD movies and 17 boxed sets of TV shows.

As you can see, it takes up a whole wall of my house. Well, okay, not the whole wall. Not even both bookcases. Media cases, actually. Got 'em at Best Buy for about $75.00 a year or so ago. They hold up to 756 CDs, or 360 DVDs per unit.

Still, that's a lot of DVDs in there. A few CDs with Christmas or Kid's songs on it, some blank VHS tapes for .. a VHS I no longerhave ... Hmmm ... and a plethora of stuffed animals.

The drawer unit in the middle has ... I don't really know, but I'm sure something is in those drawers.

I love to collect DVDs. And, I've even watched most of them. Not all, but most.

Like, my mother has the Thornbird mini-series. Blech. I just recently got her Roots on DVD. She has watched it 5 times. Me? None.

My newest aquisitions were Ghost Rider (saw), Bridge to Teribithia (in Mom's room, haven't seen outside of theater), and a 10-disc, 11-hour Pokemon collection (austenibly for the kids >_>).

I seem to collect, on average, 3-5 new DVDs each month. Sometimes more.

The collection ranges from Saw 1-3 to Fraggle Rock. From Star Wars to Stargate SG-1 (seasons 1-9). From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to several Gamera movies. From Bruce Almighty to Ben Hur. From Spirited Away to Finding Nemo.

I've got comedies, animation, horror, drama, sci-fi, classics, anime, action/adventure, and everything in between.

Disney and Pixar animations make up one long shelf (3 compartments). Super-hero movies make up a little more than one compartment. As do the horror flicks (on the No-Kids shelf). A couple compartments are comprised of movie series ... Harry Potter, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Spy Kids, Tremors, Jurassic Park, Riddick, Matrix, Doctor Doolittle, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and more.

The TV series include Lost (seasons 1 & 2), Stargate SG-1 (1-9), Little House on the Prairie (1-3), The Greatest American Hero (pilot and season 1), and a few others. I'm going to be adding Heroes and possibly the rest of TGAH fairly soon.

We have a system for the kids to "borrow" the movies ... Each has a laminated 4x6 index card with their name on it. When they take an authorized movie (which most are, excepting one compartment), they remove the DVD from it's slot and insert the name card in its place. This way they know where to put it when they are through with it. We also have a notepad for them to write the date and movie down. (Mainly because they'll conveniently forget they have watched their allotted amount for the day ... 3 on weekends & non-school days, none on school days, 1 on summer camp days).

I pretty much know where I took any I watch from, so I don't have a card. Nor does my mom. She cannot really make out the titles with her poor vision, so i generally retrieve what she wants to see by her vague descriptions of the movie ... "Do we have the one with the gay lawyer who gets AIDS? (Philadelphia)" or "Do we have the one where the guy takes his space helmet off and dies? (Mission to Mars)" My favorite she asks about once every few months is, "Do we have the one with the girl who turns old and ends up in a walking house with a little boy and a talking fireplace? (Howl's Moving Castle) No matter how many times she see it (and it is one of her favorite movies), she just cannot recall the name of it.

I pretty much know what movies we have, and which ones we don't. Though I do sometimes get confused when we are out and decide to get some of the Wal-Mart bargain bin DVDs. We used to have around 300 VHS tapes before we went strictly DVD. (We donated all those to the local Salvation Army.) There's been more than one occasion where I've thought we had it once on VHS, but not on DVD and been wrong. Or, vice versa. I just return the duplicates and get something else. hehe

One day I'll catalog this huge collection. Or seek therapy for it. =/

Friday, June 22, 2007

Charlie the Unicorn and the Candy Mountain

Pastel Unicorns
Hopping and Prancing Around
Please, Please Make It Stop

My buddy TekPhreak had the following video posted on his website/blog a few days ago. I was simply going to provide a link to the page he had it on but I cannot find it now. *shrug*

Ever since I saw this video, I cannot get the damned thing out of my head.

It seems I see or hear the name Charlie dozens of time per day now, and my mind instantly starts doing the high pitched, whiny "Chhhhaaarrrrlllieeee" in place of the actual name. I also see pastel colored unicorns hopping about.

Okay, I always see pastel colored unicorns hopping about, but that was from a bad trip on prescription cough syrup, muscle relaxers, a fever of 103°F, and some My Little Ponies. We won't go there just now. >_>

So, since my brain is now infected with Charlie the Unicorn, I am now compelled to infect the rest of the world with it, too. Sort of like the rage infection in 28 Days Later, but with annoying voices, prancing pastel unicorns, exploding singing letters, and a mountain of candy.

Yeah, so ...

I hope you watched it.

And, Tek?

Damn you. Damn you to Hell!


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Oops, I Forgot ...

11 o'clock
Errands, sick Mom, and played WoW
I forgot my blog

Ever got so busy with Life that you simply forgot to do something you usually do every day?

For those of you who checked in all day, you saw mine was the Roost. Clean forgot about it today.

Not, too, late now is it? Eleven at night?

Oh, well ... I should have a movie review tomorrow, or the next day of Evan Almighty or 1408, depending on what I see tomorrow ... and if I see one.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Die Hard - Music Video

Live Free or Die Hard
McClane is back in action
Yippie Ki Yay, Mo ...

This music video contains adult language.
It may not be suitable for kids or work!

Saw this today at Ain't It Cool News and thought it was great.

The lyrics, adult language and all, seemed to capture the spirit of the Die Hard franchise. One I am slightly disappointed was neutered to a PG-13 for the 4th outing.

Live Free of Die Hard opens on June 27th. I plan on seeing it, with a review to follow, of course. Until then, enjoy the video by Guyz Nite.

Movie Trailer: Punch-Out!!

Little Mac is back!
The Sandman is going down!
Uppercut now, Mac!

This was Team Awesome's entry in the Nintendo Short Cuts Showcase Contest.

It's not as polished as the winners, or runner-ups, showcased on the Nintendo site, but I loved it all the same.

Punch-out!! (and it's successor, Super Punch-Out!!) was one of my favorite NES titles.

I didn't own the game myself, but a neighbor boy did. When I went over to play with he and his sister, invariably we'd get into a Punch-Out!! match. I was pretty good, but Sandman was always tough for me to beat.

This faux movie trailer brought back all those fun memories of virtually bludgeoning Don Flamenco, King Hippo, and the other racially stereotypical digital boxers into oblivion.

Ah, those were the good old days.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Internet was down.
A simple call to fix it,
I foolishly thought!

Today began much like any other this summer.

Woke up around 7:30, got myself dressed and ready as the kids finished eating their breakfasts, doing their morning chores, and getting ready for camp. Leave about 8ish. Had to stop for gas. It's only $2.85 a gallon, but still takes $46.00 to fill up the truck. *sigh*

Get to camp around 8:30, drop them off, and drive back home. Play with my cat, Tut, for a bit, then turn on the ol' computer for some blogging, email, games, and whatever.

Except my Internet connection ... was GONE!

I check my Device Manager. All is as it should be.

I make sure the lights on my router and modem are flashing what they should be flashing. Verdant lights twinkle happily at me from the modem. Amber sparkles merrily from the router.

They were lying.

I reset both the router and modem. Nothing.

I power down the computer, shut off the monitor, and kill the power from the surge protector. Everything goes dark. The only sounds are the rattling whumps of my ceiling fan and the distant rumbling hum of someone mowing their yard a few houses down.

I drum my fingers impatiently, silently counting to 100 in my head.

With a flourish I tap my CPU to life, click the monitor back on, and watch as the modem and router flicker through a cheery power-up cycle.

My desktop soon glows softly in the still dim room. My mouse eases the cursor over to Thunderbird and ... nothing. Cannot connect to pop server.


Knowing the outcome, I resolutely open Internet Explorer, hoping more than a white screen of nothingness would appear. It didn't.

I call Brighthouse Networks local support number.

A cheerful woman's voice comes on and begins telling me to speak this, or say that, say nuevo for Espanol. Do I want Sales? Do I want Billing? Do I want to order new products? Am I having technical issues?

Gone are the days of button mashing. Technology is now such that I merely need to speak my requests to this disembodied, vaguely digital woman's voice and all my worries and cares will slide from my burdened shoulders like butter on a hot griddle.

I speak clearly. I take care to enunciate each word, each syllable, each glottal and vowel.

"Technical Support."

The digital woman must be hard of hearing.

"I'm sorry. I did not understand your response."

I repeat myself.

"You said you wanted Belt Buckle Sports. Is this correct?"

I answer clearly, "No!" to which she asks me to repeat my previous request. I speak slightly slower, slightly louder, with enough forced enunciation to make my high school English teacher weep tears of unfettered joy.

"Tehkk-Nih-KhahL Suh-PorrrT!"

"I'm sorry. I did not understand your response."

I blow a frustrated blast of air through my pursed lips, as I debate the ethical ramifications of cursing out an automated answering service voice.

"One moment, and I will transfer you to Sales."

What? No! When did I ever get close to saying Sales?

I sigh to myself and figure at least I'll get a live person who can then (hopefully) direct my call to the proper place.

The hold music is a bit creepy. Something you might hear as mood music on a Sci-Fi Original movie about haunted houses, or zombie filled graveyards. I wasn't encouraged.

The strange music is interrupted by another vaguely digital voice, this one male, informing me that I now can bundle my cable, Internet, and telephone services into once package and save money. Please ask the customer service rep about this spectacular bargain when they come on the line. Which, by the way, may be a while as they are all busy helping other customers and would I please wait while they take my call in the order in which is was received.

The cheesy Scooby-Doo mystery music comes back on. I swear it's louder than it was before.

Three more times over the next ten minutes I get the sales pitch to bundle my services with the busy sales rep spiel following after.

Just as I decide to open up solitaire and amuse myself, the music stops. I hear a click ... another click ... any moment now a real, live person would help usher me to the correct line. I begin to smile, happy this long, annoying wait is near an end.

Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn

They ... Hung ... UP!

I calmly depressed the Off button on my cordless, set it down, and took a slow sip of water.

1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 5 ... *grumble grumble* ... 6 ... 7 ... *mutter mutter* ... 8 ... 9 ... "Son of a @#$%$!" ... 10.

I took a deep breath and once again dialed the Brighthouse number.

The electronic answering girl must have gotten a dose of digital Q-Tips, because this time she understood everything I said on the first try.

I was again eeking towards happiness as she cheerily informed me she was transferring me to the Technical Support department. Yay!

A click ... I held my breath ... a second click ... I began to worry at my lower lip ... silence.

At least there was no disconnected signal. I hung on the line, daring to believe I was being connected.

Suddenly the same voice was back in my ears telling me a simple reset of my modem should solve the problem I was having. (I'd already done this manually once). She would be happy to do so remotely for me, if I wished.

I said, "Yes." I would like that. Anything. Just get my Internet working!

She asked for my account number (Ha! Like I knew that) or my home telephone number, area code first, please.

I spoke my number out, in the same manner, tone, and clarity I had used to get this far.

"I'm sorry. I did not understand your response."


"I'm sorry. I did not understand your response."

I resolutely TYPED the number in.

Wonders of wonders, she informed me she was accessing my account. Why the blue blazes didn't she just tell me to say or type the lousy thing in in the first place? Grrrrr!

"Your modem has been reset. Usually the effect is immediate, but may take up to several minutes to see a change. Thank for calling Brighthouse Networks. Goodbye."

What? No wait, you flat-toned, digital demon. I want someone LIVE!

I hung up and silently fumed to myself for a minute. I'd at least see if this had worked or not.

It didn't.

I waited longer.

No go.

I called back, my fingers strangely calm, my emotions eerily silent. I think I had the placid look of a serial killer just then. The kind where the interviewed neighbors always claim the killer was "quiet and kept themselves, never saw 'em hurt a fly".

As soon as Betsy Babbles came on the line with her recorded banter, I mashed the 0. Repeatedly. With great force. I think my phone may have said ouch. I'm not really sure, as all I heard was my blood rushing.

The male automaton came on and again informed me all reps were busy, would I please wait until my call was blah blah blah. Yeah, yeah. Just hurry it up, will ya?

My wait was a mere 15 minutes.

During this time I learned about service bundling, modem resetting, cable set-top resetting, how to pay my bill online, how to pay my bill through my cable TV, how to use On-Demand programming, that Brighthouse Networks was yet again rated #1 in customer service and satisfaction (I missed more that was said during the pealing laughter which burst out of me at that last).

Finally, a very sweet voiced, polite, and awfully youthful woman came on the line and asked for my info. I provided it. Calmly. It wasn't this poor wage slave's fault the automated phone system was the bastard child of Machiavelli, Satan, and half a dozen political bureaucrats.

I told her my problem. I suggested my modem may be malfunctioning.

She tried to be helpful. She really did. But she was utterly clueless.

At one point, she told me that if I could open my email program, then I had to be connected to the Internet. =/

Eventually she placed me on hold to "check her resources".

I worked years as over-the-phone technical support for a large communications company. I knew "check my resources" was a euphemism for asking your boss for help.

A few minutes later she was back on the line, relief evident in her voice, that she couldn't do anything from her station and I needed to be transferred to the local office because obviously my modem wasn't working.

Um, yeah. That's why I spent the last 45 minutes trying to navigate the labyrinthine phone system and said the same thing at the outset of the communication with her.

I kept my voice calm, even cheerful, thanked her and said, "Yes, I'd love to transferred to someone who could help me."

Another few clicks, a short stretch of silence, and I was once again mired in the hold music form hell, punctuated by droning advertisements of services, products, and I think even one may have discussed the mating ritual of the African honey bees. I'm not really sure because my eyes had glazed over, my butt had fallen asleep, and my elbow seemed permanently locked in a phone holding position.

Then, joy of joys, a young man got on the line.

He seemed to know what he was doing. He was confident in his speech, yet a titter of nervousness could be heard behind the bold front. I think he was one of those people who are pretty smart, know a lot of things, but just don't quite grasp the intricacies of personal communication.

He walked me through a few tests, laughed nervously at my attempts of humor, fiddled with something on his end, then had me recycle the whole system. Power it all off, unplug the router, unplug the modem, disconnect the modem from the cable line.

Then we waited.

I tried small talk about my cat, who was loudly meowing at me because I was strangely sitting on the floor, under the desk, where he took afternoon naps and he wanted know if he could join me. Mr. Technician laughed that nervous twitter of his, likely wondering if my problems weren't caused by a surfeit of feline fur clogging some vent somewhere.

Judging by the amount of dusty fur and dander particulates floating around under there, he may have been right.

A few minutes passed in uncomfortable silence after that until he asked me to reconnect everything and power it all back on.

I did, and it all worked.

Still, he said, my signal was weak and he would set up a in-house technician to come over and test my cable lines, the modem, and my patience. The last was a joke he said. Ha ha ha!

So, after an hour plus on the phone, on the floor, and in a bad mood, I was back online. Yay! I could now read my bloglist, post to my own, play WoW, surf the Internet for funny and interesting videos, whatever I wanted. The Cyber-world was mine for the taking again.

So I ate lunch.

Monday, June 18, 2007

re: Your Brains

Grab a gun! Run! Hide!
Zombies are on the rampage.
Brains on the menu!

I love this music video created by Jonathan Coulton using World of Warcraft as his visual media. The parody nature of the song, as well as his vocals, remind me of Weird Al. You can find more of Jonathan's work at

The video combines three things I love: Funny Songs, WoW and Zombies.

They aren't called zombies in WoW, though. Undead is their general term; Forsaken and Scourge are the two factions of Undead. Players basically play Forsaken with Scourge being the "enemy".

Forsaken are real nasty pieces of work. They are tenuously allied with the brutal Horde. An alliance of convenience only. While they dupe their Horde allies into fighting the Lich King and the Scourge, they secretly (okay, sorta secretly) are developing a plague which will destroy humanity.

They don't eat brains, per se. But Undead do get a skill called Cannibalize. Players can induce this skill to "eat" a slain humanoid or other undead foe, thus restoring a portion of their own life force (health).

The game models of Undead are great, too. Bones and withered muscle tissue showing through pasty, necrotic flesh. Wild hair styles. Quick, yet jerky movements.

Surprisingly, I only have one Undead toon: Dropdeadhot, female mage. (On the Anvilmar server if you want to drop by and say hello! ~.^)

Hmmm, now I'm in the mood to watch one of my zombie movies ... Dawn of the Dead, perhaps?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day

Father's Day is here.
A time to celebrate Dad
With another tie.

Happy Father's Day to all my paternal readers!

I hope you have a great day with your families, eat lots of good food, and don't strangle yourself by accident trying on the new tie you likely got! ~.^

What is the deal with giving a tie anyhow?

It seems the gifts most given to dear ol' Dad on Father's Day are either a tie, a wallet, or a bottle of Brut or Old Spice cologne.

Are we telling Pop that we wish a noose around his neck? That he's only good for making and dispensing money? That he smells?

This year, break tradition! Take Dad out to eat. Give him a gift certificate from his favorite store. Wash his car for him. Mow the lawn for him. Maybe just leave him the heck alone to snooze in his easy chair for the day.

But don't give him a tie.

Unless it's one of those gag ties that light up, play "I'm Too Sexy", or has #1 DAD emblazoned across the front.

Those are perfectly fine.

Especially with the matching coffee mug!

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Summer of Sequels

Movies. Some good, some bad.
Little new under the sun.
Yet we eat them up.

2007 may go down as the Summer of Sequels.

Spider-Man 3
Shrek the Third
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Live Free of Die Hard
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Rush Hour 3
Bourne Ultimatum
Oceans 13

There are other sequels this year. Not all for summer, not all blockbuster, tent-pole releases. Mostly horror sequels such as 28 Weeks Later, Saw IV, Hannibal Rising, Hostel: Part II, Halloween (okay a remake more than sequel), Resident Evil: Extinction ... maybe more I missed. We also have Daddy Day Camp (which, after seeing the trailer for this, I'm tempted to place under horror), Alien vs. Predator 2, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Evan Almighty, and I'm sure a few others I don't know of.

One I didn't list, that I'm actually very excited to see, is a re-release of Tim Burtons The Night Before Christmas in Digital 3-D!

Now, I saw Meet the Robinson's in Disney Digital 3-D earlier this year. It was phenomenal! Gone are the days of cheap red and blue plastic lenses. No more rough cardboard frames gouging furrows in your nose. Leave behind the myopic disorientation of the old 3D ways. Now we have digital projection onto a silvered screen (yes, the silver screen is back!) with polarized lenses set within study, comfortable plastic frames.

The 3-D effects are astounding, and in their true colors and clarity. You can see normally out of the glasses without headaches, disorientation, or dizziness. Plus, when you look at another person sporting the cool lenses, you get this sci-fi glimmer in the lenses and their eyes from the special coating.

Anyhow, Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D will be freaking cool.

There are new movies this year which have come out, or are coming out, that are not retreads or sequels. Many of them comic book properties, or based on popular books.

The Mist
and the Golden Compass

Of all those mentioned, I am most eagerly awaiting The Golden Compass. I've read the first two books, and while I'm not particularly impressed with the theology espoused by Philip Pullman, his story is engaging and adventurous. The trailers for the film are stunning, and it is lining up to be a huge trilogy in the vein of Lord of the Rings or Pirates of the Caribbean.

I'm also interested in The Mist.

It is based on one my all-time favorite Stephen King short stories, a novella, actually. An end-of-times, monsters-on-the-loose romp of action and terror. I'm worried, as with most of King's book-to-film conversions, it'll lose it's charm for me on the Big Screen. I'll have to wait until November to find out, though.

More contemporaneous, is another King conversion, 1408. The short story was intriguing look into a haunted hotel room, with typical King weirdness and even more of his much-loved creepiness. The trailer for the film version, starring Samuel Jackson and John Cusak, seem to capture the spirit and feel of the story. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

One sure-fire blockbuster movie this year I am surprising not interested in seeing is Ratatouille. I love Pixar films, and have seen each and every one they've released in a theater, as well as own them on DVD. Something about this one, however, doesn't draw my attention. In part because I despise Andy Dick. I don't know why, really, but he annoys the crap out of me. Also in part because, while the animation seems as good as anything, nothing i saw makes me want to see it anymore than other animated movies this year.

Though, for animated movies, TMNT was the best I've seen recently. Darn good story, fun and exciting adventure, and just plain coolness on the Big Screen. Of all the super-hero flicks I've seen this year, TMNT wins hands down.

Maybe I'll post a list of films I planned to see this year, along with whether I've seen them, and school-style grade for them. Hmmmm ....

Friday, June 15, 2007

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

I enjoyed the movie. Even though most of the critics and comic geek purists said I shouldn't, I did.

I went in without any expectations except to enjoy myself, drink my freezie coke, and ogle super-hero antics on the big screen.

The movie is much better than the first, in my opinion.

First, it was a mere 85 minutes long. There was plot, story, and action ... no tedious fluff that tends to pad out and bloat more recent movies. I felt almost as if I were watching a comic book come to life. (Well, okay, comic books from a few years ago, not these melodramas the comic industry seems keen on churning out lately. I'm all for backstory and seeing the inner workings of super-hero, but 20 of 24 pages of standing or sitting around chewing the fat gets old, fast.)

With the origin of how the Fantastic Four came to be already told, the story could focus more on ... well, the story.

It was lifted from classic Fantastic Four comic mythology.

A being of cosmic enormity which devours worlds to sustain itself is on its way to Earth, sending its Herald (Silver Surfer) to prepare for its arrival. This being is Galactus.

Stop Laughing at Me! I Am the Devourer of Worlds! Stop Looking Up my Kilt Thinggie, Too!Now, comic purists are howling that Galactus is not realized on screen as he is in the comics. And, to be brutally honest, I'm glad. I mean, would you really want to see a bright pinky-purple and blue clad cosmic giant with a goofy horned helmet and no pants show up to eat your world?

Of course not! He wouldn't even have to destroy life on Earth before he ate it. We'd already have laughed ourselves to death at first sight of him.

Instead, we get this destructive, cosmic nebula-type thing, with vague shadows of the classic horned helmet and other anthropomorphic details here and there. If you aren't looking for them, you may not even notice them.

Could Galactus have been designed better for the movie? Possibly. But I feel this was a decent choice given the absurdity of the original (yet classic) look of the Devourer of Worlds. (Early appearances of Galactus even had a huge G emblazoned across his chest, while latter showings added blue pants to his outfit).

I suppose the film writers could have opted for the Ultimate version of The Devourer of Worlds, Gah Lak Tus. An immense, 100,000 mile long hive mind conglomeration of city-sized robots. It may have worked on screen, but I do prefer the more simplistic (possibly shrouding?) space cloud used in the current film. The novelization of the film does refer to Galactus as Gah Lak Tus, however, so ... who knows?

Maybe the shrouded mystery is what it should be. A being so immense, so powerful, so far beyond mortal comprehension that we can only see a swirling vortex of cosmic nebula.

Victor von Doom is also back again. The cosmic power which gives the Silver surfer his abilities as Galactus' Herald, revive and restore Dr. Doom. He plays a typically villainous role in the film, one suited to the comic book style. He wants to steal the Surfer's power. I am not a big fan of Julian McMahon as Doom, though he is less stiff and annoying than in the first film. He does pull off the smarmy, egotistical persona fairly well, however.

The titular heroes of the film, the Fantastic Four, are played with more familiarity then in the first one.

Thing is more at ease with his grotesque appearance. Even in love with his blind lady friend, Alicia Masters. Michael Chiklis seems to be the comedic side-kick of the series. Much more so than in the first, or in the comics. It is not overly distracting, but it is slightly overdone. I missed him bellowing his signature battle cry in the film, though he does quip it once. He makes a darn good Ben Grimm, though I always envisioned the Thing to be taller.

The Human Torch is as arrogant and greedy as ever, yet still with the strong core of love for friends and family. Chris Evans plays him perfectly, I think. He has the looks, the build, and the attitude to carry off the disaffected sarcasm and hot-headedness of Johnny Storm.

The Invisible Woman has the best powers of the bunch, in my opinion. Force fields, invisibility, and telekinesis (basically). Jessica Alba is a credible Sue Storm, though she too has gotten bashed for her portrayal of Invisible Woman.

Mister Fantastic is as pliable as ever, and he seems to be loosening up in this go-round. He even steals a page from ol' Spidey and gives us a dance number, Fantastic style. Ioan Gruffudd comes into his own as Reed Richards in this movie. I did not care for him in the first one, but he really made the part his own now.

All the characters' powers were showcased, more believably than before, and with more versatility. I particularly enjoy seeing the powers used in everyday circumstances. I mean, c'mon, who in their right mind wouldn't use their super-powers to make life easier for themselves?

Lastly, we have the Silver Surfer.

An iconic character from Marvel, who got his start in the pages of the Fantastic Four.

He was portrayed nicely in the movie, much as I imagined he would be were he a real entity. You'd think a big silver man flying around on a surfboard would be ludicrous, but you somehow buy into the fantasy without question.

The great Doug Jones plays the non CG-body of the Surfer, with a melodramatic Laurence Fishburne providing the voice. Jones was fantastic, Fishburne was adequate. I'm not sure who's voice would have fit the character better, but the stilted enunciation of Fishburne, coupled with the attempted other-worldly deepness of voice just didn't quite fit for me.

On second thought, I think I would have rather seen Doug Jones provide the voice, as he did for his portrayal of Abe Sapien in Hellboy. But then the producers may have feared for too much comparison between Jones' Ape Sapien and the Silver Surfer.

It's bad enough everyone is saying the Surfer looks too much like the T-1000 terminator from Terminator 2.

I say the T-1000 looks like the Silver Surfer.

Speaking of which, the look was dead on to what I expected he would appear as. The CGI was a bit stiff, a bit other-worldly, but that may have been what the SFX guys were going for. Still, I feel the Silver Surfer was the best part of the movie, and the rumors of a Silver Surfer movie make me very happy.

I'm definitely getting this on DVD when it comes out. And I would love to see a third film, perhaps one featuring Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner! (Who has his own movie in the pipe-line, but I'd like to see him in a FF film first).

If you didn't like the first movie, you may not like this one. It is an improvement, and as I said, more like a live-action comic book than a typical super-hero flick. Try it and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised.

If you liked the first one, you will really like this one. Less fluff, more stuff. Brighter, faster, and more fun than the original. A very good successor to it's progenitor.

It's not the best movie you'll see this year, by far. But, by far, it's not the worst.

I recommend seeing it at the theater for the big screen experience and the great surround sound effects. Especially if you can suck down a freezie coke while you watch! ~.^

Fantastic Flop?

Super-hero movies
I can't get enough of them
Hope this one is good

In about an hour, I'm heading out to go get some Twinz hotdogs (or maybe some Chick-fil-A .. hmmm) and go see Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

The movie has been panned by critics, though much less than they did for the first outing of this super-hero franchise.

I liked the first one. Maybe it's just me, but I go to enjoy a movie, not to tear it apart bit by bit, looking for flaws. Even if it is a beloved comic book super family (of which I still have many comics). I'll make notice of what is different from the source material, but I won't decry the film maker, actors, or production studio for deviating from it. Instead, I'll try to enjoy it for what it is ... a retelling.

Now, sure, the first film had it's flaws. I think the whole Doctor Doom bit was poorly acted, and his costume was just ... jarring. But, overall, I enjoyed it as a fun, super-hero movie.

I'm there to shut my brain down for a little while and have fun. FF4 delivered for me in that respect. I have it on DVD, and have watched it several times. (OK, I seem to only really watch and rewatch my superhero movies .. and my zombie movies).

So, I go to FF4:RotSS not with high hopes, or grand expectations, but with a desire to relax, have some cinematic fun, and enjoy the special effects and seeing one of my favorite super-hero teams on the big screen. Plus, the Silver Surfer.

He was always one of my favorites.

I'll likely post a sort of review later today or tomorrow of the movie.

Until then, be good and watch the skies!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I See London, I See France ...

A small, Southern town
Some indecent exposure

Someone Needs to Take a Belt to This Kid

A Louisiana town has officially banned saggy britches.

You know, those drawer drooping dimwits that parade around flashing their unmentionables for all to see. I never got the supposed fashion statement they are trying to make. "Look at me, I'm an idiot"?

It was bad enough when it was just the waistband of their underwear being broadcast in Technicolor. Now, like the pic shown here, kids (and some "adults") are wearing their pants below the 49th parallel.

It can't be comfortable.

I want to rush over and yank the pants down the rest of the way whenever I see it.

Now, I don't find it particularly "indecent". The underwear baring butts are still basically covered. It's more stupid looking than obscene.

And I'm not entirely sure an ordinance against it, with penalties of up to six months in jail and a $500 fine, is any less stupid. It may even be more obscene.

And, the verbiage of this new law covers more than flashing your skivvies. (Hehehe I made a pun!)

The ordinance states, "It shall be unlawful for any person in any public place or in view of the public to be found in a state of nudity, or partial nudity, or in dress not becoming to his or her sex, or in any indecent exposure of his or her person or undergarments, or be guilty of any indecent or lewd behavior."

So ... women with those see-through blouses should fall under this law. (Another stupid fashion statement, btw.) What about middie tops? Are belly buttons next on the list of do-not-show?

Plumbers need to beware.

And what of those women with the hip-hugger jeans and those lower back tattoos (ha! lower back, upper ass is more accurate) that look more like a patch of unruly and highly displaced hair than art when more than twenty feet away?

What about breastfeeding?

Sure, I don't really want to see some woman whip one out and suckle her young while I'm trying to enjoy my milkshake at the mall food court. But, if discretion is used, and some modicum of modesty, it never truly bothers me. Inevitably, some bare flesh does show while breast feeding. Will that woman go to jail for nurturing her child?

It is a very broad-based ordinance. One with which I am not at all comfortable. It leaves much too much open to interpretation. And that paves the way for unequal enforcement.

Is this something that should be legislated? If so, aren't the penalties imposed above much too steep?

What are your thoughts?

Me, I'd just take a belt to 'em! ~.^

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Back in the Saddle Again

For a time, no posts
My log-in was not working
Now it is fixed. Yay!

You may have noticed there has been no activity on the Roost since June 2nd, 10 days. Well, there have been comments. One was from me about not being able to log in.

But who reads those things?

Besides me? Some funny haiku replies, though. Keep 'em coming!

Blogger took it's sweet time in getting back to me about the problem. But, in the end, it was corrected. Something about when I changed my password, my email address was screwed up somehow.

Ah, well. It worked out okay, anyhow.

I was really, really sick for about a week. Severe sinus infection slash head cold. Fever, chills, aches, pains, dehydration, diarrhea, chapped lips, sore nose, and enough mucus production to put all the children of every Kleenex worker through college. Twice!

So there you have it. The deep, dark mystery of my long absence.

The Roost will get back to normal in the next day or two.

I'm off to shovel the drifts of tissues decorating the house as if a deranged Old Man Winter summoned a snot storm ...

Saturday, June 2, 2007


A mighty wind blows
Water cascades from the sky
No pictures today

Tropical Storm Barry is currently about 50 miles or so Southwest of Tampa. Where I live.

Now, ol' Barry isn't a particularly powerful storm. His winds are just barely Tropical Storm strength, but his rain is pretty heavy. Lots of lightning, too.

I live in a mobile home, and winds aside, the main problem we're having is periodic power fluctuations. Tiny brown outs.

It makes doing anything on the computer an issue. =/

This means taking an hour or so to write up and organize the rest of the Busch Gardens pics. I already lost some work from the power cuts. Very annoying. So I'll finish it later today, assuming the storm passes by this late afternoon as predicted, and when the power stops playing peek-a-boo.

Enjoy your, hopefully less windy and wet, day!

Friday, June 1, 2007

5, 7, 5

Busch Gardens pictures
They are postponed yet again
My apologies

If you didn't recognize it, the above was a Haiku. A style of Japanese poetry utilizing a pattern of five syllables, then seven, followed by another five. Though true Haiku has even more rules to its creation, mine just follow the 5,7,5 rule.

Ahhhh ... now the post title suddenly makes sense. ~.^

All this month, I will begin each post with a relevant Haiku.

Don't ask me why I am doing this. I have no real reason, no underlying cause. I simply thought it might be fun.

Some of the Haiku might be funny, some serious. I am sure more than a few will be out right strange. But, it sounds to be a fun project for the month.

I am also discontinuing the Penny Doubled Daily footers at the end of each post. (Unless I get people who actually like seeing it down there). It is extra work each day, and the numbers are becoming too huge to handle daily. The main page for it will continue to be updated, though I am moving from a daily update to a weekly one. Again, the work now involved in deriving the numbers is challenging and a pain to do every day.

I'll have the last of the Busch Gardens pics up either later today (hahaha) or, more likely, tomorrow.

The reason for my not posting them today is I seem to have contracted a sore throat and chest muck. I'm not feeling very well, at the moment, and don't want to deal with actual thinking beyond this post.

It sorta of sucks, too, because today I had planned to begin my exercise regimen at the YMCA after I dropped the kids off for camp. Since my nose is stuffy, and my breathing is labored, I decided starting would be counter-productive. I am going to rest (and do laundry) today instead.

I'll be keeping a blog-log of my progress once I begin. I'm not sure how I'll be doing it, but ... I'll figure something out.

Oh, for those of you may have been wondering (all one of you) ... my visit to Tek went great. We chatted, and laughed, like old times. We reminisced, we talked of the future, of things current. We watched "Stranger Than Fiction" while eating pasta Mrs. Tek cooked. Mmmmm- mmmm.

I alternately was barked at, growled at, nipped at, played with, and slept on by one of the other of their two dogs, Amber and Joey. My cats' noses almost twitched off when I came home as they smelled me from top to bottom.

A good day, with good friends. Can't ask for more than that.