Saturday, November 14, 2009

Yes, I'm Still Alive

Yeah, okay, I think I'm back. Took way longer than I thought it would be - I actually thought about coming back on November 1st, but then I'd have felt obliged to try for NaBloPoMo and I'm not sure I have 30 posts in a row in me.


Everything is cool. Finishing up in Boston was faster-paced and busier than I thought it would be, and immediately after I checked out of the net and went on vacation for a week at the beach in southeastern Mass.

Then between settling in to the new residence in Rhode Island (the master bedroom is finally 100% unpacked!), getting the kids into school and getting me into school, and returning to an academic environment myself, three months pretty much disappeared. I went "full bore" for the first trimester and I'm glad I did; I needed every minute I put into it, just to get into the habit of researching and writing again.

So, 3 months, thousands of pages of reading and 53 pages of writing later, I'm 1/3 of the way to another master's degree and I think I can finally start posting here again. This trimester is supposed to be much easier, so I plan on having more time in the evenings. That and I'm already half a week ahead on reading before the trimester even starts.

Yawn. Okay, enough boring bullshit. Reading nothing was probably more interesting. So I promise I'll be more interesting in the posts that follow.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Splotchy's Story Virus Is Back...

It took me a few days to get over the virus the last time it got me. I was infected with this one about a month ago, decided to do it and promptly went on bloggy burnout. But as I said before, I would complete it. Think of it like H1N1. It showed up, it may go away, but there's a good chance it will flare up later.

Da' rules: Splotchy is patient zero. In his own words...

Here's what I would like to do. I want to create a story that branches out in a variety of different, unexpected ways. I don't know how realistic it is, but that's what I'm aiming for. Hopefully, at least one thread of the story can make a decent number of hops before it dies out.

If you are one of the carriers of this story virus (i.e. you have been tagged and choose to contribute to it), you will have one responsibility, in addition to contributing your own piece of the story: you will have to tag at least one person that continues your story thread. So, say you tag five people. If four people decide to not participate, it's okay, as long as the fifth one does. And if all five participate, well that's five interesting threads the story spins off into.

Not a requirement, but something your readers would appreciate: to help people trace your own particular thread of the narrative, it will be helpful if you include links to the chapters preceding yours.

Here is the first chapter:

The ground crunched beneath my feet. Besides my noisy footsteps, I heard only the sound of the gentle crackling fire behind me. Its faint orange light lazily revealed my immediate surroundings. Beyond the glow, there was total blackness. I whistled. I took the small rock I had been carrying and whipped it away from me, expecting a thud, crack or plop -- but a soft yelp of a cry answered. (by Splotchy)

Ice shot straight up my spine as my gut contracted in a terrified knot...he'd followed me. He always knew where to find his master. I heard him shuffling closer and knew what I had to do. Tears welled up in my eyes and my throat tightened as I remembered all the nights camping at this very spot, the hundreds of slobbery tennis balls and bags of Kibbles 'n Bits that had defined our lives together. I braced the butt of my M4 assault rifle into my shoulder and whispered, "Goodbye, old boy."

The stiffly-shambling form materializing at the edge of the darkness around the fire pit immediately drew my aim up, my finger squeezing as the sight swung to its cranium. A banana-clip-worth of brass arced its way to the base of the fire as a foot-long muzzle flash and the ripping sound of automatic fire broke the artificial silence of the night.

Making a sound like a baseball bat clobbering a rotten cantaloupe, the shadowy head disintegrated as the once walking corpse fell to its knees and slumped down into the light. Pongo - or, rather, Pongo's corpse - crawled into the light, his rotting innards exposed behind a the exposed right half of his ribcage. Half the flesh had been avulsed from his face, giving him a gruesome visage as his tongue hung over his mandible. He sniffed the stump of the rotting, headless thing before he dragged his broken, undead doggy body my way, his head lolling from side to side. Instinctively, I released the empty clip, shoved another one home and drew a bead. Pongo stopped and sat at my feet. Bowing his back and lifting his leg, and began licking a place I could never reach on my own body for about 5 seconds before the now cleaned organs fell off and settled a few inches from his hind leg.

Pongo looked up at me and I could read the eyes on his zombified face. They said, "My nuts! Can you believe this shit?" I lowered the weapon. I'd forgotten to chamber a round anyway. I knelt down and hesitatingly reached out to pet what had been Pongo. He offered no resistance. Of all the zombie apocalypses I'd been through since moving here, this one was by far the weirdest.

Something on the creature I'd just shot caught my eye. It had something odd-looking tucked underneath its arm. I looked from the shadowy object over to my truck and slowly back down to Pongo as he dejectedly contemplated his former genitals. I heard the dragging feet of several undead, man-eating motherfuckers approaching the fire...

Now, should I tag someone? Who the fuck knows if anyone's even reading this thing anymore...but I'm feeling all "follow the rules"-y tonight, so here goes:

, because in the month since I first contracted it, it mutated enough that you are no longer immune.

Beach Bum, because you write well.

Briwei, because if you ever start reading your friends' blogs again you might see this. And I know you like to write.

, because you tagged me with a meme that I'll get to soon, and I don't want you to feel left out.

Anyone else who sees this and wants to give it a shot, leave a comment and consider yourself tagged.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Eating My Wife's Sweet Warm Pie

...with ice cream. It's one of my favorite things to do...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Stars Are Almost Right...

Image found at

...for me to start posting again regularly. What have I been doing? Oh, nothing much...hanging out, laying back, drinking rum, and watching the economy and auto companies spasm under the weight of money that has appeared miraculously from thin air that will never get paid back while pundits debate the merits of Latina judges and some crazy guy figures God will be cool with him shooting someone in church as long as that someone is a sinner. It's been entertaining.

In reality work/life has been coming at me quite hard and fast these last several weeks - I've barely had time to notice the above - and I still have seven more very fast-paced weeks ahead before I roll out of here. And THEN I will be laying back for a week on da' beach before reporting to my next duty. It turns out my previous prediction was incorrect - I won't be heading on my Rudyard Kipling adventure straight away but instead will be going back into an academic environment for ten months. THEN I will most likely head to "The Sandbox".

Oh...and I just got burnt out. When it stops being fun, you just need to stop doing it for a bit.

I should be able to start posting here and there in the coming weeks, and once I'm a stoo-dent again in August I should be able to pick things up some more. Which is good because I have some catching up to do - Splotchy has a new story virus that is incubating in my list of draft posts, and nunly has tagged me to post some of my favorite things. Plus, I've lined up a whole bunch of shit I have yet to conceive.

Should be fun. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Another Movie I Need to Review...





Behold that which is too good for theaters and was released into DVD just today!

And who might that big-nosed beauty starring alongside Lorenzo Lamas be? None other than...

Anyone guess what she has to do with these guys?

Click here to find out. (Oh...and FUCK YOU to MTV who won't let you embed the video. 15 years ago you didn't suck but about 12 years ago you turned into a piece of broadcasting shit.)

Uh...where was I? Oh yeah!!! Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus!!!

I've already reserved my copy...stay tuned for the review.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mythos Monday - Cthulhu the Movie (2007) Review

Here is the plot summary. It's pretty basic. After the final sentence you can add "shit goes steadily downhill for Russ from there".

1. Based upon the above, would you say that Cthulhu - Welcome Home to the End of the World is a ____________ movie.

A. Lovecraftian
B. Scary
C. Gay
D. Worthwhile

The answer is actually E. All of the above, as you probably guessed I would write. I will caveat that "All of the above" with "to varying degrees"...

How Lovecraftian? On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it the letter "Q". Because to me it really makes no sense to try and quantify just how much it is, because it is and is not at the same time. The trailer states that it is based upon the "Classic Tale" by H. P. Lovecraft although it really draws on two. The first and most obvious is The Shadow Over Innsmouth - from which the Marsh name, Esoteric Order of Dagon, some characters and the concept of going to "live in the sea" as servants of Cthulhu are drawn/adapted. The second is The Festival - from which the seasonal festival (Yuletide in the original story, "The May Festival" in the movie) and the main character's resistance to having a family legacy forced upon him as he uncovers its horrors. While things aren't revealed to the protagonist exactly the same way as in TSOI, it works in the context of the movie. The film takes many of the issues society deals with today - environment, climate change, resource overuse and infrastructure decay - and uses them as a backdrop of activity that alludes to the coming the Great Old Ones. While the film does not go deep into it or smoothly integrate it into the plot, it's not altogether a failure. I will say that you don't go through the whole movie feeling like your watching an H. P. Lovecraft story brought to life, it does have its moments.

How scary? A little. Not hugely. The movie does a decent job of moving the mystery along and revealing parts as Russ discovers them, but doesn't really reach any crescendo of horror that makes you jump out of your seat or anything. The ending is somewhere between okay and pretty good.

How Gay? There is a strong gay agenda viewed through an H. P. Lovecraft-inspired lens. How religions alternate between ostracizing and trying to "cure" homosexuals, homosexuality as not being in line with patriotism or community/family values, and outright homophobia. There are plenty more. Face it. Innsmouth, being isolated, under the thumb of a cult (religion), with a small homogeneous population that is wary of strangers or anything "different" is a fertile backdrop against which to express these issues. This should not be a surprise as the movie is a here! TV production. (It DID surprise me a little bit - simply because my brain didn't make the connection between the logo on the DVD case and the channel.)

How Worthwhile? It's worth watching. There are some parts that didn't work well for me - in particular Tori Spelling's part; I think the movie could have been just as good without her or her part in it. But then again I'll say that for most movie or TV productions that include her. It doesn't always flow smoothly, horror isn't really at the forefront, works. While it's not even close to "in step" with the original stories, I think the attempt to draw on these stories written three quarters of a century ago to frame a social issue of today is admirable. The movie is definitely worth seeing.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Chip Off the Old Crawling Chaos

I got nuthin'...I mean I got more nuthin' than mortgage-backed securities. But still, press ahead I must. Think, write, try to put something down, even though I don't have to, to keep the blog-fires burning.

So when all else fails, tell a story about your kids that only you would be interested in. Yeah! That's it! Tell some mundane story about something cute or cool or silly...

...or insidious...or evil...or chaotic...

So while frantically running through the house this morning trying to transition from the Mother's Day breakfast and presents in bed for the wife to getting ready to jump in the car and head south for an hour to meet everyone for brunch and talk about the same old shit I notice something is different. I can't say wrong, but different. It's coming from downstairs where we have our kids corralled by plastic gates and waiting for the inevitable departure among their toys and a Comcast channel blaring kids music.

It's a weird noise. Muffled, crunching, pounding...strangely musical. The running around, jumping and general destruction of the living room has stopped. Wondering what is going on, I cautiously approach the stairs. A voice...strangely monotone, as though reading from some ancient tome, comes drifting up the stairs in snippets. I grow afraid, wondering what sinister fate has befallen my spawn, or - worse yet - what sinister deeds they may be performing on some poor passer-by, who was just coming through this historic landmark for a Sunday morning walk. The swift, grinding, screaming sounds swell and invade my brain, almost inducing panic as I reach the bottom of the stairs, turn around, and behold the genesis of what I was certain was fueling a ritual I did not want to witness...

The oldest...who answers to a range of nicknames, is sitting between his sisters, The Songbird and Rocker-Girl, reading to them the sacred text of Archie and Jughead while the youngest, whom I have previously referred to as Chub-Niggurath, bounces and practices his newly-found jumping skills to the newly-found metal.

My firstborn looks up at my puzzled face, "What? It's metal. You know."

I smile. He has come a long way...his education is almost complete, and he has earned himself a new name, one that commands fear and respect for the path of insanity that he is ushering his younger siblings down. I will now call him Nyarlathotep.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Free Comic Book Day Report

No, no, no, no, no....this report isn't what's free, even though it is...just like everything else on this blog because if even if I charged half a dingleberry for this information I'd be ripping you off bigger than Bernie Madoff. It's the COMIC BOOKS that were free!

Between Little League for the boy, swimming for the girls, housework, taking the kids to dinner cuz we were too lazy to cook and purchasing tickets for last Sunday's NHL East Semi-Finals game (fucking Bruins...the ONE game I go to in years and they lose!) I didn't think I'd be able to get my son and me to the comic store to take advantage. But I did...and we walked away with some cool stuff...

The comics across the top are the free ones, chosen by my son. The ones across the bottom (and the Munchkin Cthulhu expansion pack) were most decidedly not free.

They were not all, in my opinion, good buys. I do not care for the Lenore comic; I read the back cover, flipped through a few pages to check out the art work, and it looked "cute" and novel enough, so I got it - actually for my wife of all people who said to get her something if the mood so struck me (The Tank Girl comic was also purchased with that in mind...her being the tough, independent Aussie Sheila and all).

The primary focus of the graphic novel is dark humor, with many of the stories having amusing twist endings.

Errrr...amusing is not what came to mind when we read the first episode. In it she babysits and takes the baby out to feed the birds. After she unwittingly leaves the seeds in the baby carriage, birds descend upon the baby and peck it to death. I haven't read anymore. I plan on seeing if they'll take it as a return (a gift for someone who didn't like it) and trade in.

The high point is definitely the Spider Man book the store manager gave my son. He'd got a stack of them to give away as promotions and had been "consistently forgetting to do so" as he said. So now my son has the "Ten Greatest Spider Man Stories Ever, Vol. 1". As I have mentioned before I was not a big follower of the Marvel Universe so I couldn't tell you if they are, but my son is happy, and loves reading the villain stats.

The Fall of Cthulhu and Cthulhu Tales graphic novels will probably wait longer than I want them to before I read them. But hey, I'm a busy guy for the next few months...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

This Swine Flew ... Into My Mouth and Down to My Belly!

Finally, we had the year's first grilling of an object larger than a London Broil. We've had a nice looking pork loin in the freezer for some time, and it just felt like the time to cook some pork again. The last time I blogged about pork loin I smoked it and attempted to shred it only to give up after maybe doing half of it...I was working too hard for my vittles. I decided to roast it instead, but on the grill.

I searched until I found a recipe that looked good (and was reviewed as such) and settled on it. I made some adjustments for preference and ingredient availability, so here is the complete ingredient list:

1 (4 pound) boneless pork top loin roast (single loin)
1 teaspoon olive oil

2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

I did not have any onion salt, so I substituted onion powder and seasoned salt. I also prefer brown sugar to regular sugar, for a more caramel-like, barbecued flavor. After brushing the loin with olive oil and applying the rub I wrapped it and let it marinate in the fridge for about 90 minutes before grilling.

Instructions seemed simple enough. The grill is simple enough. Count on me to complicate shit. Temp was around 400°F when I put the loin on, with the fattier of the two sides on the grill itself. I resolved to check it every couple of minutes and at the first check I noticed the temp had gone up so I adjusted the flame down up because I wasn't freaking paying attention. A minute later the temp is still rising, so I turn it down up again, but realize I'm doing it this time and correct way down. I check again two minutes later and the temp is runaway, above 500°F but all I needed to see was the smoke pouring out of the grill to know there was a fire inside. After pulling it off the grill, knocking the charred bits off and flipping it (I figured that side had had enough!) the rest of the grilling went smoothly, as did the follow-on roasting. The only minor issue was that my grill wasn't able to hold 400°F (only about 380) with only two burners running.

We roasted up some peppers and onions to enjoy with it, and cooked some corn on the cob.

The meat was excellent! No sauce needed; marinating with the rub provided all the flavor it needed, just enough balance of sweet and spicy.

...and plenty left over for sam'iches!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Obligatory Swine Flu Post

Groan...I almost can't stand doing this, but it's low hanging fruit and I'm out of ideas...and I feel obliged to somehow contribute to the struggle to save humanity from just another strain of the flu before we are all turned into mutants for Will Smith to kill.

I could just offer my economic advice...

or are people trying to kill us?

or am I being too glib?

Hmmmm...probably. I tend to scoff at the masses when they lose perspective...or when they appear to lose perspective...or when the media tries to push a loss of perspective. I wonder if that last bit isn't the most true. Haven't seen a lot of panic around here.


What this means is we have
human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region. While most countries will not be affected at this stage, the declaration of Phase 5 is a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short.

If you read the page you see that it doesn't matter if we go pandemic or not from here. We've already got community infections in the U.S. and Mexico - it doesn't matter where else it goes within or outside our WHO region.

So I officially don't care if we have a pandemic or not. I want to not hear people say the word "pandemic" like they have one in their neighborhood. Because what they really have is a virus.

I guess we'll see some widespread infections...infections with what?

Streiffer said it's important to keep the threat of swine flu in perspective. It's a new strain of influenza, so people haven't built up immunity and vaccines won't block it, but there is no indication that it is any more virulent or dangerous for normally healthy people than the more typcial strains of flu.

"What people don't seem to understand is it's not worse than the average flu, except there's no herd immunity -- which means there's no immunity in the general population -- therefore, everyone's at risk, but not necesarily for anything more virulent or dangerous than average influenza.", we could be seeing lots and lots more of what looks and acts like the flu, a virus that killed slightly fewer people last year than automobile accidents. (h/t DrMomentum for the link!) Crap. I was hoping I'd get night after night of feverish dreams of Cyclopean cities of Titan blocks and sky-flung monoliths, all dripping with green ooze and sinister with latent horror.

So maybe the H1N1 virus is just the slugger the influenza team needs to get out of the basement and into a distant third behind heart disease. Then again, maybe not...we may just see a bunch of people on Nyquil and anti-virals (buy stock NOW!!). We have a pretty damned good track record against the flu here in America.

Would it suck to see a widespread outbreak of a flu few could avoid? Absolutely. By all means, I'm taking precautions for an extended flu season, especially with my younger children, and keeping myself informed. But beyond that it's biz as usual.

Oh wait, this just's not a government plot! They've found patient zero!

h/t @billmarrs

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I've Tweeted My Meat...

I've seen (that is, been followed by) people who are tweeting serial stories...I usually block them as soon as I read their twitter homepages because the stories are boring as shit and they seem to picture themselves as far more artistic than they actually are.

This one, however is a bit different:
“Where is it?” She grasps, fingers scraping. She yanks. It peels. A gallbladder. “Damn.” She reaches back in. _"Will you quit wiggling?"_
It's a sample tweet from one of the editors at Tweet the Meat, a Twitter-based horror e-zine that seeks to publish complete, 140-character-or-fewer horror snippets from its readers. And they even pay a buck per submission via PayPal.

Anyway, the concept sounded interesting enough so I submitted a tweet on Sunday, and it got accepted. As they have first digital rights to it, I can't reproduce it here for you, but I'll let you know when it's up. I don't want to sound like it was a monumentally difficult thing, but I did think about it for at least a couple of days. Trying to complete an action and create enough of an atmosphere to capture the imagination of a reader in 140 characters, while being grammatically correct, was an interesting task. Definitely fun.

I have a PayPal account, but I don't need the dollar. In this case, they will make a donation via PayPal to the charity of your choice in your name. I think that is an excellent idea. I believe I will choose Project Valour-IT, who help "provide voice-controlled/adaptive laptop computers and other technology to support Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand wounds and other severe injuries." They can use the dollar way more than I can, and maybe I'll try and do a submission a week to get them more money...

It'll be interesting when they start posting reader-submitted stuff, to see the quality that made the cut. It's definitely more interesting than some wannabe wovelist trying to feed you mediocrity 140 characters at a time.

On other publishing news, my "Monster Byte" was accepted by the Innsmouth Free Press, though it has not been published yet. I hope to see it soon, but I also had planned to make a couple more related ones to round the story out...I should get cracking. I had also wanted to write a piece of short fiction for them; something of a Cthulhu meets Patrick O'Brian in the Oregon territory circa 1820. I should get cracking on that, too. I was also going to set up an invitation only blog to display works in progress for comment. I should get cracking on that, too.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mythos Monday - The Call of Cthulhu (2005) Movie Review

Before I start, I'm going to say that I'm not much of a movie all. But since I say "Yeah, sure!" last week, I might as well keep my word. I'll also say you can find the IMDB page here, and some cool stills from the movie here.

The film itself is a black and white, silent film production of H.P. Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu. It's around 47 minutes long and goes to great lengths to faithfully re-create the story on screen. They succeeded amazingly.

I won't bother with a plot synopsis - read the Wikipedia link above if you want one. What I will do is point out that the story itself as written does not lend itself well to modern film. Since the story is a narration based upon the notes and experiences of people other than the narrator and contains little dialogue, addressing the story with a movie full of dialogue would (I believe) unnecessarily complicate the movie. The silent format was excellent for visualizing the three separate stories that make up The Call of Cthulhu, allowing just enough "dialogue" to be put in to fill in gaps and keep the story rolling. Taking only a small amount of license with events and people, the plot is adhered to almost exactly.

Highlights: I liked that the producers took the time to vary the images of Cthulhu used in the film - particularly the idols. The ones from the Louisiana Bayou, the Esquimax tribe in Greenland, and found aboard the freighter in the South Pacific are all distinctly different and horrid in their own ways. The cult scene was great - the battle between police and the cultists was carried out in true silent movie style. The Cthulhu stop animation reminds me of "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms" with the exception that the detail put into Cthulhu itself is phenomenal. The DVD carries several minutes of bonus footage, much of which is stop animation creation and outtakes.

The DVD also has a behind the scenes feature, about 25 minutes with the producers, cast, crew, set designers, etc. Quite impressive. Being an independent film with a low budget (not to mention forcing themselves into a specific "era" of film making) they went about it "the old fashioned way" - though with modern equipment - and it was great to see how they put things together, created perspective with small sets, and built a two-story R'lyeh in the narrator's back yard and figured out how to make a sailor get "swallowed up" by the city's bizzare geometry. Watching it was just as worthwhile as watching the movie.

Quibbles are so minor, they bear no mention...really.

In short - this is DVD not simply worth seeing, but buying and enjoying again and again.

As a bonus, it was also an excellent way to introduce my 9 year old to the story (and the basis of the mythos) a few years before he can read at the level Lovecraft wrote.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Okay, I Admit ... I'm A Jumper!

I'm mostly a baseball / football sort of guy; I admit I'll listen to the basketball talk on the local sports radio, and I almost never listen to the hockey news that's going around.

Not that I dislike hockey. I didn't watch a lot of it growing up here in Massachusetts, but in the early 90's when I lived in Long Beach and then in Monterey California, hockey was just starting to catch on, tickets were relatively inexpensive, and I started to take a liking to the game. I became a San Jose Sharks fan in 1993, and a die-hard fan after their against all odds playoff run of 1994 (even though they only made the second round). Even though I was from here, it just didn't cross my mind to become a Bruins fan. It would have seemed somewhat disingenuous of me. So I watched former Soviet Army players Makarov, Larionov and Garpenlov tear up the ice while Irbe overachieved in goal and had a great time going to the Shark Tank for games.

Getting married, moving around a lot more and going back on sea duty did a lot to cool my hockey fandom, and in reality I haven't paid attention to the game since about 1997.

But this year both my original "hockey love", and my local team the Boston Bruins are in the playoffs and, of course, it's hard not to get a face full of the local hysteria over hockey. So my curiosity has sparked again. And yes, I'll admit, I was stoked at the Bruins' sweeping of The Habs. I watched two of the games. And last night on "Versus" I watched Game 5 of the Sharks / Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (I'm sorry - FUCKING STUPID NAME, anyone? Never mind that the team was bought by Disney to milk the popularity of their stupid fucking movie. But it seams ANY team from Anaheim just has a shitty proof, I also give you the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim". Cuz Anaheim is close enough to LA to be part of LA, even though it takes more than an hour to get from one shit hole to the other on the freaking freeway and nobody in shitty old Anaheim wants to be part of shitty old LA. Can we just nuke both cities and be done with it?) It was great watching the Sharks pull it off in OT, but to tell the truth, I think the Duckies will end up taking the series. Hope I'm wrong.

I guess hockey may be the only sport where I pull this crap. Football? Nope. If my Patriots aren't there, I don't give a shit. I don't "have" and NFC team. Baseball? Hah...don't even consider. There is but one team; all the others are trying hard. I had a guy who worked for me tell me, "If a team beats my team in the playoffs, I root for that team to go all the way." Aaaaaw, what a nice guy. If a team beats my team even in the regular season, I ask Cthulhu to fly their plane into a mountain on the way home. Preferably a mountain in Antarctica.

Now according to ESPN's Bill Simmons' 2002 Rules for Sports Fans, I am all kinds of wrong here and am going to Hell. Now he's from Boston, and his book Now I Can Die in Peace is a good read (he articulates his rules early on in the book as well), but fuck him on this one.

Besides...Jeremy Roenick was born in Boston.

And if they face each other in the finals well...I'll be happy with whoev-... no, that's just as fucked up as allowing Anaheim to have sports teams. Suppose I need go with Rule 19.

Maybe I'm just some English pig with no brain, you know...maybe I go to box for two minutes, all by myself and, you know...I feel shame.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

THoroughly Useless (THU) Thursday - Really? Is Walking That Hard?

We have evolved to do certain things well, and for long, sustained periods of time with little to no degradation to our capabilities.

The thing that comes most quickly to mind is walking. It's easy, it can wake you up, and while regular walking alone won't get you into shape, it does maintain a nominal measure of cardiac health. Okay, it's not a great way to get from Philly to Tampa, but it is a good way to enjoy a city for a day.

But not now, and not in Boston. Now you can pay $105 NOT to have to walk around Boston and see sights, many of which are free, for what used to cost you maybe at $10 fare card for the "T".

This shouldn't bug me so much...really. I saw one of these "tours" come cruising by me last week as I crossed the road in Charlestown. They looked like they were having fun. And all I could think of was "I guess walking is just too fucking hard."

And then there is what I saw today driving home from the market. A bumper-mounted towing platform for the Segway on a car. So now you can not only drive to a curb, you can now step off onto the sidewalk and not have to move any major muscles to go the rest of the way!

Now maybe there are some people who need access to technology like the Segway to overcome physical limitations. Maybe the guy with the Segway on his car bumper was one of them. However, whenever I pull up images of the damned things, it seems they are simply expensive toys.

Now I'll admit that they do not generate any CO2 like internal combustion engines, and as such can be useful for day to day business travel over long distances through city streets instead of taking cabs.


I just can't.

Maybe they're just not badass enough...

There!!! Now go around and wipe out the rest of the Segway geeks...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sci-Fi Movie Hangover

My son really loved watching Forbidden Planet, as I mentioned yesterday. One of his favorite parts of the DVD was the "bonus" track of old Sci-Fi trailers. He was watching them this morning with his younger sisters (5 and 3) as part of his school vacation TV when I came downstairs at 6:30 this morning. His favorite trailer?

...and for your viewing enjoyment:

I guess I gotta' get "Them" next...

Other trailers he liked...

...and just because I felt like it, if anyone remembers Channel 56 Boston (or Channel 48 in Philly) in the 1970's...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mythos Monday - Taking the Easy Way Out

With little in the way of creativity or insight to offer, I'm just gonna' highlight the fact that I am, at heart, a consumer. Particularly of the two following things:

I ordered them this evening, should have them bu Thursday...Cthulhu Mythos mini-film festival is in my future.

Both films are fairly recent. The Call of Cthulhu is a 47-minute silent-film adaptation, that is by many accounts very faithful to the story. It was filmed by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society and released in 2005. Cthulhu: Welcome Home to the End of the World was released in 2007. It's unique among Cthulhu-inspired horror films in two ways. First, the protagonist is gay and second, it is the only film I've ever bought that features Tori Spelling. I wonder if Cthulhu's tentacles come out of that honkin' schnozz of hers? I mentioned this movie a few months ago, and even linked a trailer.

This was born out of a non-mythos-based endeavor; I decided to start watching some good sci-fi films with my oldest son, as a sort of weekly father-son movie night. We started tonight with Forbidden Planet. Hadn't seen it in years, and it's interesting to see a young...I mean YOUNG...Leslie Nielsen. But you hear old Detective Frank Drebin come out when CDR J. J. Adams raises his voice emphatically. Anne Francis wasn't bad, either.

Hubba, hubba!

Oh yeah...son loved it, too.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Meat Plans

Last August I wanted to try smoking some meat, so over the course of a couple of weeks I made some kick-ass homemade barbecued pork and beef. I finished the summer vowing to get a smoker.

Here it is, April, and I still haven't got one. But I'm going to get one, and am trying to plan a few opportunities to put it to the test. I'll definitely re-do the recipes I did last year, but like I mentioned I'm going to use a cut of meat with more connective tissue - shoulder or butt. I'm salivating just thinking about it. This summer, this place will change from Cthulhu's Family Restaurant to Cthulhu's Smokehouse.

Oh...and there's no sense in doing it again if you don't intend to improve things or explore new things. So this year, I'm going to add homemade bacon to my list of smoking feats. I found that post when I was looking for a pulled pork recipe. Over the winter I found a local meat store that sells good-sized, good quality (non-industrial/corn/petrol-based) pork bellies. They cost a bit, but they look like they'll make great bacon.

I just need to figure out when...I'll probably need to throw a good-sized cookout at least once this summer. This will also be the second year we spend a week on the South Coast (Westport MA) at the beach, and I think smoking up the bacon for that trip (breakfast and BLT's) will be the thing to do.'s 11pm and I need barbecue.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

THoroughly Useless (THU) Thursday - Two Things

First THoroughly Useless thing:

These two people.

Ugh. I understand they are facing charges. If you ask me, it's the wrong way to go. I think Domino's should estimate the business lost and litigate to get their wages - if they ever work again - garnished at 25% until the money is made up...which will pretty much be the rest of their lives. Apologies for the sound. It was the only one I could find that wasn't from a newscast, but apparently the poster thought it would be artsy to add the reverb.

Second THoroughly Useless thing:

My brain right now. My clunky, cement-filled, dry brain filled with painfully linear thought processes. Absolutely 0.0 on the creativity scale, so I have to resort to low hanging fruit like this shit.

Man, when you hit a dry spell, you hit a dry spell.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


What do you do when your party's "raise spending and reduce taxes" plan is replaced by your rival party's "raise spending and reduce taxes" plan?

First, you act shocked...shocked, I tell you, that this horrendous unchecked spending is going on. Then, you grab on to as many general and hollow slogans as you can. Finally, you misinterpret an important American historic event by throwng a crybaby tantrum like my kids do and claim it to be a similar historic act of defiance and liberty.

When I first heard of the idea of a Tax Day Tea Party I was excited. I love a cup of fragrant Earl Grey and a fresh baked scone with clotted cream and jam. But the more I read, the more I realized it really had nothing to do with a tea party - either the nice kind I refer to, or the one in December 1773.

Andrew Sullivan had an interesting take on the whole thing, but instead of taking his word for it, I also spent a while going through their page and came to the same conclusion.
As a fiscal conservative who actually believed in those principles when the Republicans were in power, I guess I should be happy at this phenomenon. And I would be if it had any intellectual honesty, any positive proposals, and any recognizable point. What it looks like to me is some kind of amorphous, generalized rage on the part of those who were used to running the country and now don't feel part of the culture at all. But the only word for that is: tantrum.

And it's not a very focused one at that. But since when is a tantrum focused? I mean really. Look at the site. Try to find a coherent mission statement that explains EXACTLY what they are trying to accomplish...they've gone all "Mad Dr. Bernardo" on us.

They've gone all "Tea-tarded" if you will. Some gems...

(Rick Santelli) called for a “Chicago tea Party” where advocates of the free-market system could join in a protest against out of control government spending.

People speak as if Republicans are all free market advocates and Republican administrations are the free market administrations. This is absolutely laughable. We have not had free markets here since forever...

On February 27th, an estimated 30,000 Americans took to the street in 40+ cities accross the country in the first nationwide “Tea Party” protest.

That's about 750 people per city. Sounds a lot bigger than it is. Though I understand the group tantrums are getting much bigger.

And some of the various comments...

The Boston Tea Party was a protest, but it was more than that. It was a refusal to pay unjust taxes. ... I say, if everyone of you truly believes in this cause, then don’t pay your taxes.

Except the Boston Tea Party really wasn't about not wanting to pay was about wanting the representation that came with taxation. These people want the opposite...representation without taxation.

If you love your country, and you want your tax dollars to be spent not only wisely, but ethically, then refuse to contribute tax dollars to this administration. Don’t participate in the system. Make a REAL statement, just like Samuel Adams and the rest of the men who met and did the right thing at the Old South Meeting House.

How can you ensure your tax dollars are being spent wisely if you don't participate? This is the exact opposite of what the namesake of my favorite commercial beer wanted. He WANTED to participate. He WAS participating, as much as he could, up until and after the Boston Tea Party. Oh, and the administration doesn't spend your money. Congress spends the vast majority of it.

Dear Patriots of this great country— Rise up to be heard not to be taxed. This is the way to be heard. We need to be united and show our flustration (sic) before it is too late.

Read that again...giggling yet?

I believe that we pay too many taxes but not that it is because people voted in Democrats and not Republicans. ... The Tax Day should be a way to do some action that will work to reduce taxes.

Funny...our taxes are the lowest they've been in a long, long time...

I think that we should do exactly this….don’t pay taxes on April 15th. If enough people actually did this, say 30,000+, they would have to change. ... I think that would send a greater message to our government that we don’t want our money spent this way.

Ahem...when approximately 10,000,000 people fail to file their income taxes annually, I don't think an additional 0.3% increase will be noticed.

And lastly...

I love the idea of these Tea Parties, but I think we need to be careful and not sound like a bunch of cheap bastards that just don’t want to pay taxes.

Oooh, too late. They already do. (In deference to the author of that comment, he does go on to explain why taxes are necessary.)

I could go on, but you get the idea. There is room for reasoned debate about taxes, spending, the current tax system and reform. There just doesn't seem to be any discussion going on there.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

THoroughly Useless (THU) Thursday - Stone Temple Pilots Lyrics

They always seemed, to me, like they were trying to hard to be "deep" and ended up being lousy.
When the dogs do find her
Got time, time, to wait for tomorrow
To find it, to find it, to find it
When the dogs do find her
Got time, time, to wait for tomorrow
To find it, to find it, to find it
Feelin' uninspired
Think I'll start a fire
Everybody run
Bobby's got a gun
Think you're kinda neat
Then she tells me I'm a creep
Friends don't mean a thing
Guess I'll leave it up to me
...and other meaningless (or seemingly so) drivel.


I'll let Mike Judge do the talking:

Beavis : Is this Pearl Jam?
Butt-head: This guy makes faces like Eddie Vedder.
Beavis: No, Eddie Vedder makes faces like this guy.
Butt-head: I heard these guys, like, came first and Pearl Jam ripped them off.
Beavis: No, Pearl Jam came first.
Butt-head: Well, they both suck.
Well, I'm not that down on Pearl Jam...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I said goodbye to my maternal grandfather this past weekend. He would have been 92 years old this month. He went peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by his four daughters and one granddaughter, Friday morning last. I had some small pangs that I could not be there with him when he stopped breathing, but I made the 50 mile drive the night before and two other times that week, and the week before. It was good to be with him, even though the last time I saw him conscious was two weeks ago.

My mother and her sisters asked me to give his eulogy. I would like to be able to write it here, but I didn't really write it before hand. I just put some notes down on note cards and went from there. But I will jot (or type) a few of the most memorable things about him here...some of it wasn't said, some of it was, but it's all true.

- my mother's side of the family is Lebanese. The Lebanese call their grandfather "Giddo" (JID-doo). He was my Giddo Joe.

- Giddo Joe was born in 1917. Interesting things that happened that year: doctors first linked lead poisoning in children to eating lead paint chips. Also, J.R.R. Tolkien began writing his first "Lost Tales" that eventually became The Silmarillion.

- Giddo Joe played amateur football in 1935. The team was called "The Roughriders". I remember him telling me that for protective headgear he wore not one, but two stocking caps. Apparently, it was enough protection. He remained sharp as a tack until the very end. He loved football til the very end, too.

- Giddo Joe joined the Army in WWII and served as a combat engineer in the Pacific, and the occupation forces in Japan. He left the service a Staff Sergeant and became a civil engineer for the state of Massachusetts. After he retired he was a freelance surveyor. He must have surveyed about 5 million-billion miles of road and property boundaries. Seriously...if you've driven a Mass. freeway, he worked on it. I used to help him during the summer and when I was home from college. It paid well; you'd be surprised what someone will pay to find out the four corners of his lot so he can scream at his neighbor for having a shrub 2" over the boundary.

- We would go around on these jobs in a 1971 Dodge Dart. I can still smell the vinyl and the oil, hear the loud, mechanical sound of the directionals, and visualize the array of tools - mallets, plumb bobs, hundreds of feet of steel tape, wooden stakes, nails, ribbon, spray paint, you name it - in the trunk. I remember how meticulous he was. If we did a job and he found out a week later he was half a degree off on an angle, or a foot off on a measurement, he'd call me up and say we needed to get back out there asap and re-measure. Close enough was not good enough. He was doing something for someone, and he was damned well going to do it right.

- He had the most beautiful singing voice, and led the church choir for 50 years. Even though I'd quite lost my religion by adulthood, I could still go to mass when Giddo was singing. There was little that sounded better to me than him singing a hymn in Aramaic. It would make the hair stand up on the back of my neck and give me goose bumps. I don't think he missed a mass or holy day in 50 years. I figure at least 60 masses a year, his audience was in the hundreds of thousands.

- Giddo Joe was the most humble and kind person I'd ever known. He was always helping people, encouraging them and mentoring them. What stands out the most is that he treated children - everyone's children, it didn't matter - like they were his own. He'd joke with them, play with them, and talk to kids like they were the most important and special people in the world. Last night my wife and I agreed that if everyone treated children like Giddo Joe did, we would have far fewer problems.

I am absolutely not doing him justice here. It was an emotional weekend for me, but in all, it's really a "good" and natural thing. He had 92 great years (his decline was rapid and spanned only the final 5 or so months), he got to know his great grandchildren (I never got to have a strong relationship with my great grandparents) and was never not surrounded by his family. I can't think what could have been left for him to do. When my time has come, if I could be judged as half the man he was I will consider my life a success. I love him, I miss him, and I'll never, ever let my kids forget what a great person he was.

...and with that, I'm back.

Friday, April 3, 2009

THoroughly Useless (THU) Thursday - A Day Late and a Buck Short

There's been a lot of thoroughly useless shit surrounding Madonna lately.

First, there is her thoroughly useless bid to adopt a Malawian child to be a sister to the one she has already adopted. Thoroughly useless not only because it failed, but because of the thoroughly useless American adoption system that drives frustrated people to adopt children from overseas.

Okay, I'm going to take a break here and clarify a little bit. First of all, while I do not care for Madonna anymore - she has completely jumped the shark in my book - I give her credit for her charity efforts in Malawi. I applaud any private charity effort overseas, especially in this economy when the government needs to focus its money and energy here at home. Also, I am not against overseas adoption per se - it saves a child from poverty and (assuming the parenting is good) gives them a very good chance at a good life. However, it does nothing to relieve the burden on our own system or provide relief to hundreds of thousands of kids equally deserving of a shot.

Which brings me back to the celebs. They piss me off. King Brad and Queen Angelina and Madonna, while benefitting individuals, are doing harm to masses of people. If adopting underprivileged children is truly important, are they actively using their celebrity to push for adoption reform RIGHT HERE? Now I've researched this...meaning I've Googled the question like, three times...and can find no evidence of our most glamorous pushing to help kids right here. So, unless I can find some other evidence, I can blame these particular celebrities for not recognizing a real domestic problem and taking action.

I can also blame them for making shitty movies. And proposing thoroughly useless remakes.

In the name of the Blind Idiot God Azathoth and all his pipers this is a bad idea. Maybe the worst idea ever. In fact, I'm downright angry about it. Hasn't she fucked enough movies up already? Is nothing sacred?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lovecraft, Age 9

Old, untitled books should not be casually opened, for you never know what horrors you will find inside. Especially if you're a parent stumbling upon your kids' writing journal.

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl ch'ken fhtagn...

It's true. Why else would the Great Old One open a restaurant? I'd be pretty fekhin' hungry sleeping all those aeons.

Junior fancies himself a Lovecraft...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mythos Monday - At the Wuthering Heights of Madness

Great, I'm in for it now...because of H.P. Lovecraft, I have to read Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. How in the name of Yog Sothoth did this happen?

I vaguely remember the circumstances. It was yesterday, but it seems like a strange aeon ago. We were driving back from Fall River to Boston after visiting my ailing grandfather, and NPR's story on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies came on. I think I snarkily remarked about that being the only way pieces like Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights could possibly be made interesting to me, because it's just a bunch of ye olde British people saying (insert blustering, throaty British sounds here).

My better half was quick to defend both books, stating I would probably like them, and mentioning that we have a copy of Wuthering Heights at home that I should read. I snickered, and tried to make like I was only joking, but I had already mentioned that I hadn't been reading enough fiction lately, so I was running out of escape routes.

"I'll tell you what," she says as I claw for a way out of this. Shit. I'm cornered now. She's gonna' challenge my manhood or something, "if you read Wuthering Heights, I'll read Lovecraft."

I smiled, because I'd been trying to get her to read Lovecraft, and also because I knew I was locked in, "Just tell me what I should read." I couldn't resist. It's a deal.

So I decided she'll read the stories of the Cthulhu Mythos. Much, much much easier said than done. There's about 4,000,000,000,000 different ideas of what stories and what authors make it up, so I had to narrow it. I decided to make her reading syllabus approximately as many pages as the Penguin Classics' version of Wuthering Heights (story text only), about 330 pages give or take. I would also limit her reading to stories written by Lovecraft.

Here is what she is reading:

At the Mountains of Madness
The Call of Cthulhu
The Shadow Over Innsmouth
The Dunwich Horror
The Colour Out of Space
The Dreams in the Witch House
The Shadow Out of Time
The Whisperer in the Darkness
The Unnamable

Not completely complete...there are quite a few more, depending on how you slice it. I could have added The Nameless City simply to show where ideas for later stories like At the Mountains of Madness came from and it is, I believe, the first of his stories to mention Abdul Alhazred and the "That is not dead which can eternal lie..." line, but it shows up elsewhere. I could have easily added The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and/or The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath but it would have been almost another 200 pages, and would have necessarily meant cutting out many of the stories listed above. So the best I can hope for is that she reads the above and gets more interested. Not likely, but you never know. She resisted Patrick O'Brian for more than a year, and then got hooked. I know, I know, different genres, but one can hope.

When we got back I made one last attempt to find an easy way out of my part of the deal. They did it for Austen, maybe someone did it for Brontë. Could there be an At the Wuthering Heights of Madness? Maybe The Call of Catherine? Wuthering Heights and Fungi from Yuggoth?

No luck. Oh well, I guess I'd better grin and bear it. Stiff upper lip, you know. Wot-wot?!?!

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Random Task

Whoda' thinked that Austin Powers' "Who throws a shoe?" question would be answered so resoundingly in 2008?

4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them...if you want to do this, consider yourself tagged. Link to yourself in the comments.

But this post has nothing to do with that. It has to do with fish. No, wait, with mummified horse penises. Ummmm...6.022E+23. No, hang on...shit. This stuff is random, but what does any of it have to do with me?

6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up. Hey CRUM!!!! It's up.

3. Under stress, I consistently bite my lip until it splits and then bite the dead skin that hangs off. It drives my wife apeshit.

random - adj. having no specific pattern, purpose or objective.

2. Post the rules on your blog.

So it's really fucking stupid to call this whole exercise random as there is a purpose and objective to it.

6. I'm supposed to be slicking an old iPod for my son to use instead of doing this.

A number of factors may influence the accuracy of semen analysis results, and results for a single man may have a large amount of natural variation over time.[3] For this reason, a subfertile result must be confirmed with at least two further analyses.

5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.

1. I don't always feel like following all the rules of a meme.

Christopher Anvil (born 1922) is a pseudonym used by author Harry C. Crosby. He began publishing science fiction with the story "Cinderella, Inc." in the December 1952 issue of the science fiction magazine Imagination. By 1956, he had adopted his pseudonym and was being published in Astounding Magazine.

1. Link to the person who tagged you.

In 2006, for the seventh consecutive time, Allied Irish Bank (GB) won the title of "Britain's Best Business Bank" from the Forum of Private Business, being ranked top for customer service and maintaining its lead over other major banks.

2. I love to use the word "fuck". It also (rightfully) drives my wife apeshit.

The majority of trench maps were to a scale of 1:10,000 or 1:20,000 but maps of 1:40,000, 1:80,000 and smaller scales were printed. Many of the 1:40,000 maps show trenches but were of little use to front line troops. The infantry preferred 1:10,000 and the artillery, mainly 1:20,000 but 1:40,000 were used by the heavy artillery. In the Report on Survey on the Western Front 1914-1918, published in 1920, Colonel E.M. Jack wrote "The 1:20,000 was the map commonly used by the Artillery, and as trenches could be shown on it in sufficient detail to be of use to the infantry it was the most useful scale of all, and the one that could least easily be dispensed with." Colonel Jack was a key figure in Great War cartography.

4. Although I have had considerable success in my career and am well-respected, I feel I am of mediocre ability at best and perpetually not up to the the point of self-defeat sometimes.

Procatalepsis is a figure of speech in which the speaker raises an objection to his own argument and then immediately answers it. By doing so, he hopes to strengthen his argument by dealing with possible counter-arguments before his audience can raise them.

3. Write six random things about yourself.

Izola Curry was an African-American woman who attempted to assassinate civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Born in Georgia, she stabbed King with a letter opener at a New York City book signing on September 20, 1958. King was eventually assassinated about ten years later.

5. I met my wife over teh intarwebs 12 years ago, and drove from CA to RI with her three days after meeting her in person.

Should I use facts from random Wikipedia articles to mix this shit up? Sure...

200 X = INT(RND*100)+1
400 GOTO 100

Thursday, March 26, 2009

THoroughly Useless (THU) Thursday

I tried formalizing the words in the chorus of this song, and this is what I came up with:

Because Diminuitive William, William refuses to return to his domicile
However, you will not force him against his will, William refuses to return
Attempt to inform all who have a vested interest, however, you will not succeed
Diminuitive William, William refuses to return to his domicile

When I repeated them to my wife she recommended I post it here, under this title.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mythos Monday - Images

...a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind. This thing, which seemed instinct with a fearsome and unnatural malignancy, was of a somewhat bloated corpulence, and squatted evilly on a rectangular block or pedestal covered with undecipherable characters. The tips of the wings touched the back edge of the block, the seat occupied the centre, whilst the long, curved claws of the doubled-up, crouching hind legs gripped the front edge and extended a quarter of the way clown toward the bottom of the pedestal. The cephalopod head was bent forward, so that the ends of the facial feelers brushed the backs of huge fore paws which clasped the croucher's elevated knees.
(from "The Call of Cthulhu" by H.P. Lovecraft)

It's a fairly descriptive paragraph by Lovecraft, and about 10 days ago Ectoplasmosis posted an picture that Lovecaft drew himself of Cthulhu, though it's hardly as fear-inspiring as many modern ones we see. I like that the link talks about the eyes...apparently clustered and spider-like vs. what is normally seen today, though I haven't seen any story text in "TCoC" to indicate they are spider-eyes. Spider-like eyes would add such an incredibly alien character to Cthulhu though...which is probably closer to the intent.

There is a further wealth of images of Cthulhu and mythos-related monsters and some film shorts here as well. Scroll down, lots of good pics.

There's yet another image and a lengthy explanation of Cthulhu, the mythos, and its impact on pop culture etc at How Stuff Works. Interesting picture on the first page...not much of a bloated corpulence there...I think Cthulhu had been hanging out with Brian McNamee and "Raw-jah" for a while.

Still, to each his own. This artist has the bloated corpulence down, but has undersized the wings a bit, methinks. It's still funny as Hell. I hope he produces something new soon.

Or, you could just dress your kid up and take a photo of his non-plussed ass...

Unconnected to the above, but still with roots in Lovecraft and the Mythos, briwei took the time to point me toward the web comic Shadowgirls by David Rodriguez and Dave Reynolds, about a mother-daughter team who discover they have "dark powers" as evil creatures invade their home town of Innsmouth. It's been running for a while now and there's a lot of it I haven't read, but I always dug girl fights. Magical ones are even better. Interesting the mother's name is Charon...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Twitter-Blog Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone

"I'm telling you this to tell you what I told you before about things I've already told you."
photo: suzukimaruti

So lately I've been seeing a lot of blogger posting their "Daily Twitter Roundup" under various titles. I mean, only in the last couple of weeks. Turns out the daily roundup is delivered by

Now, I don't see anything wrong with putting your Twitter feed on your blog. It's an interesting addition to the site. I have my feed up, many blogs I follow do as well.

But it's kind of a "side dish" if you will. I don't go to blogs to see what someone tweeted. I mean really, who is so important that you want to visit their site just to see what they tweeted?

And many people (myself included) tweet links to their blog posts...including these "Twitter Roundups".

Okay. That's enough. I like Twitter. I like blogging. But when you have a website post your daily tweets to your blog, and some of those tweets are about your blog posts, and then you send another tweet telling people to come to your blog to read a blogpost to review your tweets, some of which also tell people about your blog YOU'VE GOT A SOCIAL MEDIA SELF-LICKING ICE CREAM CONE.

I can't see why someone would do it that way. I try to think about it. Maybe you gather and tweet lots of links that people want to see. But they can just go to your Twitter home page...and there are better ways to push links via social media. I am by no means a social media ninja. Troglodyte is closer to the truth. If someone knows or has a better reason or gets utility, I'd like to know. I guess it's a good way to screw around on Twitter all day and still complete all your NaBloPoMo goals.

I post things here because they are, to me, worth more than 140 characters. If I don't have something worth pointing out or discussing, I don't bother. I would argue that a post generated by the LoudTwitter / Blog self-licking ice cream cone stands a good chance of not even being worth one of the 140-character tweets it lists.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I wonder if I'm overreacting or being a typical "my kid is smarter than you and can do no wrong" parent. I probably am, a little bit. But my (and my wife's) hide is slightly chapped. Last week, my son turned in what appeared to be a typical piece of homework, geared toward preparing for the state standardized academic tests he will go through later this year. We really have a problem with the outcome.

First, I have a problem with the entire process. I find that the homework, especially the math homework, is more geared toward teaching problem-solving mechanics than actually comprehending concepts. I've talked about this before. Teaching toward understanding concepts is more effective.

This time it was in a reading comprehension piece, not math. The story was an adaptation of the classic fable of Androcles and the Lion.

There were a series of multiple choice questions, and a final question requiring a written answer. The final question was "Did Androcles deserve to die? Why or why not?" My son's answer was very basic - No he did not, because he was escaping slavery, and nobody should be made to be a slave. My wife and I reviewed the answer, and agreed.

It turns out the teacher didn't and awarded 50% (2 of 4) for the question. Her comment was "What about helping the lion?"

What about it?

First of all, the question misses the entire point of the story - which is simply that kindness and friendship are repaid many times over. While it definitely influenced the lion's decision to let Androcles live, it has absolutely no bearing on whether or not he "deserves" death. Take the Lion out - does Androcles deserve to die simply because he is an escaped slave? Put the lion back in but assume Androcles is a child molesting AIG executive who routinely waterboards endangered polar bears. Does he deserve to live because he helped a lion?

Secondly, the grade automatically discourages thinking beyond the face value of the story. Which is bad because, as I stated, the very question was not germane to the moral.

But my wife and I were in an absolute funk over this. He wasn't happy either; he wondered what he could do and we told him he could always ask her about it and explain, which he did. Nope. He deserved to live because he took the splinter out.

Now I don't think we're going to press anything. It's small potatoes, really - it's not going to keep him from going to Harvard (the cost will, though), the state standardized tests are not "counted" at this level, and his teacher repeatedly sings his praises when we see her out and about. I'll just chalk it up to "It's those stupid standardized tests."

What we really wanted to do was write a letter and attach it to the paper stating that the actions of Androcles, while demonstrating friendship and kindness, have zero bearing on the ethical and existential question governing whether he retained or forfeited his right to continue breathing. I still might. Or, maybe I'll just write "What if Androcles were a child-molesting AIG Executive who routinely waterboards endangered polar bears?"

No, I won't do that either.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mythos Monday - Better Late Than Never

I meant to have everything put together long before now, but with a damned busy job, four young children, and a myriad of other things going on in my life, I usually can't sit down to start doing anything until around 10pm...but nonetheless, there is plenty to stick up here from the world of politics, entertainment, pop culture, and even here goes:

Paul of Cthulhu, creator of points out The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society's Dark Adventure Radio Theatre (DART). Radio re-creations of four outstanding Lovecraft stories: At The Mountains of Madness, The Dunwich Horror, The Shadow Out of Time, and The Shadow Over Innsmouth. You can listen to (or download) the trailers for free, but the programs themselves cost. I normally wouldn't point someone towards something you need to pay for, so I'll say that I'm not affiliated with HPLHS in any way, I can't vouch for what you're going to get and I don't get paid to do any advertising for them. The trailers are cool, and they were all I needed to hear.

Also in entertainment, looks like we may see Lovecraft's work on TV soon. Fangoria reported recently that Herbert West - Reanimator: The Series is currently in development.
What BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER was for Gothic storytelling, HERBERT WEST: RE-ANIMATOR will be for sci-fi and horror.
Little secret: I liked Buffy - the movie and the series. If you look at the pictures, however, it looks more like 90210 or The O.C. meets Lovecraft. I'll probably end up watching it anyway. And when I realize that it's too adapted to the youth of today, I'll probably still watch it, using my need to heap unimaginable amounts of scorn upon it as the rationalization...

Earlier this month the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka KS protested at the University of Chicago over some bullshit or other, dragging along their usual gang of fucktards. It turns out the Phelpsian douchebags were met with a ferocious counter-protest from all walks of student and staff life, including this young lady:

Immediate popularity among people who've actually heard the name Cthulhu on various social networks like twitter, flickr, etc. know, I got to give the gal "snaps" for poking fun at Freddie and his gang of hatemongers, but I find the sign sort of lame...Maybe I'm just being a party pooper.

Since I just talked about goings on at a university, the final few links are going to be more "academic" in nature.

Jason Colavito is an anthropologist and journalist who enjoys debunking fringe science and "Ancient Astronaut" theories. On his website he takes some time looking at H.P. Lovecraft as a jumping off point for the whackos who actually believe in this stuff...

Dr. Justin Woodman is another anthropologist who studies the occult extensively and is also a Lovecraft fanatic. Look at his profile on his blog and you'll see what I mean. He apparently did a series of four lectures in 2007 concerning Lovecraft and his influence on the occult; I bookmarked the page on some time ago, but have yet to get around to listening. You know...all that spare time I have.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Yokels Gone Wild...

Aaaah, the local St. Patrick's Day Parade...the Sunday before St. Paddy's Day, it is the quintiessential reason for tens of thousands of people to line the streets, drunk, and scream "WHOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" at anything and everything that walks by. It's such an amazing behavior...

They're just dumber (looking), drunker and have fewer teeth...but hey, they're standing around, with drinks, holding their hands up in any one of several gestures meaning anything from "Number One" to "Hang Loose" to "Sign of the Devil", and they're screaming. So they must be cool.

As it so happens, this year it fell today - the 72nd anniversary of the death of H. P. Lovecraft. Oh, and it's the 2053rd anniversary of Julius Caesar getting stabbed to death. Hmmmmm...Caesar stabbed, Lovecraft of intestinal cancer, the common thread? Massive internal organ damage. I think there's a connection here...but I digress. My point? None, really. I just wanted to do this...

Happy Death Day, Howie...