Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Church of the Walking Fish

So, a friend of mine posted this on Facebook the other day:

Let's just say it resonated.  And that resonance led me to post the following on my Facebook page:

I am proud to announce my intention to file for tax-exempt status for my new religious endeavor... The Church of the Walking Fish. Hit me up if you're interested in joining the clergy.
And after continuing to think about some more, I decided, "Fuck it, why not?"

So, I am proud to announce (again) my intention to file for tax-exempt status for my new religious endeavor... The Church of the Walking Fish.

I have no idea what the tenants of the church are just yet, but I promise you they won't be as silly as most of those other churches, and won't be as antagonistic as any of those other churches, and we'll probably just devolve into another one of those groups whose ultimate goals are humanistic and logical in nature.  No deified births here, folks.  No resurrections, either.  And certainly no raptures.

Also, perhaps sadly, no drunken or angry gods stabbing their wife-gods with pointy objects and making islands and continents from her blood and flesh.  But, also, no stupid boats big enough to carry the evolutionary history of planet Earth.

Win some, lose some.  You know how it goes.

Anyhoo... the first order of business to appoint the first disciple, and that shall be Tom at Half-Moose with a Twist.  He shall be henceforth known as Littoral Tom, the Literal.  And ye shall revere him as a friend and human being!

The second order of business is to properly attribute the creator of the cartoon that caught my attention, and that is Dan Piraro.  Go check out his Bizarro! comics.  You'll probably love 'em.

You can find this original comic here.

Stay tuned, loyal followers.  We shall soon be a force to be... tolerated!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

18 NFL Games is a Bad Idea

Added Thoughts: So, I had intended on finishing this back when an 18-game NFL season was being seriously debated.  Obviously, that never happened, but given my reaching back into unfinished work, I had (once again) intended on finishing this in the near future.

But then the San Diego Chargers announced that they were moving to Los Angeles, and I officially no longer give a single diarrhetic shit from a rabid dog about the National Football League.

So, here's the draft... just imagine how I would've ended it... you're probably not far off.

18 NFL Games is a Bad Idea


Theoretically, under the current system, it's possible for a team to win its division with a 3-13 (.188) record. Under an 18-game season, provided that the number of division games stays the same, it'll be possible to win a division with a 3-15 (.167) record. Remember the uproar caused by the Seattle Seahawks winning the NFC West with a 7-9 record in 2010 (which left both the 10-6 New York Giants and 10-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of the playoffs)? Well, guess what... sub-.500 teams winning divisions will become more commonplace in an 18-game season. It's called math.

Unless the NFL realigns to two divisions per conference (8 teams each, 14 division games), which would only leave 4 games for interdivision or interconference contests, the math alone suggests 18 games is bad for the sport.

Some might argue that 18 games supports expansion. Well, no, it doesn't. In order to maintain equality, the NFL would have to aim for a league of 36 teams and, as such, would have to return to a 6-division league (3 per conference), with each division having 6 teams. That would, to be fair, result in 10 division games, making it possible to win a division with a 5-13 (.278) record, which would make each division more competitive.

To put things in perspective, back in the days of the 30-team NFL (6 divisions, 5 teams each), the worst record a divisional winner could have was 4-12 (.250) record, so 36 teams, 18 games would be an improvement on that.

However, the current scheduling is about as perfect as it's ever been. Each team plays 16 games, 6 of which are divisional, 4 are interdivision against another division, 2 are interdivision against the same-placed teams (1st, 2nd, etc). from the prior season in the division not being played completely, and 4 are interconference.

18 games would obviously just add 2 more interdivision.

But, it's all about the money, isn't it?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Collecting Random Thoughts from Over the Years, Military Edition

This one was untitled, and starts like this:

It's been a while since I've had a rant about the military.  Sure, I haven't officially worn a uniform in quite some time, but as I've been dipping my toes back into that world (for completely different reasons than before), I've been rediscovering things to rant about.

I have no recollection what I was about to go on about.

Then there was this one, titled "Overdue Randomness":

North Carolina apparently wants me to come back.  Second intriguing offer in as many months.  Must resist, however.

Think about this... the south went to war with the north, lost, and some in the south still want the Confederate Battle Flag flown from government buildings.  1)  Who are you at war with?  2) Mexico went to war with the USA, lost... what the Hell would happen if some in the southwest demanded the Mexican flag flown from government buildings?

I'm thinking the North Carolina reference was either an invitation to a ceremony at Fort Bragg, an invitation to speak at Fort Bragg, a job offer in Wilmington, or... I dunno.  North Carolina pops up a lot these days.

Started one called "Spearhead Units," which only has an introductory line and some notes:

As we adjust from counter-insurgency (supposedly) back to conventional warfare (thanks, Russia)

but as my relationship with the military returns to its nominal levels (pre-bureaucratic hubbub of about, oh, say... 10 years ago)

The intent behind that one, however, remains clear to me.  I was going to rant and rave that, no matter what paradigm shift the military runs with, they should always maintain units trained in the then-unpopular types of warfare.  Hence, "spearheads."

I also apparently collected some quotes about me from the Army days. 

"You're a good dude, that's why I remember you." - David
"I learned most of that shit from you." - Joe
"I had a good team leader." - Erran

And on the 50th Anniversary of JFK's assassination, I tried to interview my father about his experience on that day (a blog article to be creatively titled, "Dad's JFK Day").  He answered a few questions, then promptly declared that he didn't want to do the interview anymore.  The following is all the information I got:
  • Navy Reserves -
  • Air Force - December 12, 1959 - 7 years, 3 months, 10 days - February 11/12 1967
  • Nov 22, 1963
  • Lived off-base.  Married.  Allowed to go home.
  • No longer K9 "dog handler."  Air Policeman.  Airman First Class (E-4)
  • Gate 51A - SAC (2nd Air Force) - Wright Patterson AFB (B-52 gates).  Only one.
  • Can't remember how you heard about it... you think someone you checked in through the gate told you.
  • Everything stayed normal.  An alert, but nothing was too out of whack.
  • SHOCKED when you heard.  Smoker (favorites: Winston).

Lastly, I was apparently going to be passive-aggressive towards someone. No idea who or what set this off. Had the earmarks of a "mental beat," however.  Maybe I'll finish it someday.  Probably not, though.

Call me a jerk. Call me an asshole. Call me whatever it is you think you need to call me to make yourself feel better. But don't call me a hypocrite. Reserve that for yourself. Think I'm wrong? Better remember everything you've told me in the past few months... rest assure I do.

Hypocrite.

I've never hidden the fact that I'm a hedonist... out for myself, by myself, in order to accomplish those needs and wants that I want to accomplish. You're going to throw that as an insult? Doesn't work. I can only thank you for finally recognizing the truth in what I told you when we first met.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Collecting Random Thoughts from Over the Years, Irreviews Edition

So, I've been going through my blogs and noticing a lot of started-yet-unfinished posts, and I figured I'd do a little of end-of-year cleaning.

I'll label each heading with the title of the tentative blog entry.  You know, for posterity's sake.  And then I'll add some thoughts were I see fit.

Without further ado...

Screwed-Up Movies: Antichrist


Antichrist (2009)
Director: Lars von Trier
Writer(s): Lars von Trier
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg
-----
There are well-made, excellent films that make you sick to be alive. There are well-made, excellent films that make you sick to be human. And then there are well-made, excellent films that just make you sick. Antichrist is the latter.

Lars von Trier is one of the originators of the Dogme 95 movement.

The most disturbing movie ever made. Or, at least, the movie with the two most disturbing scenes ever filmed.

Added Thoughts: That last point about the two most disturbing scenes "ever filmed" (what I really mean is, "the two most-disturbing scenes that I've ever seen")... yeah, that still holds up.  The first time I tried to watch this movie, I had to stop.  It was well-over another year before I decided to finish it.  Thankfully, Mr. von Trier was kind enough not to attempt the third most-disturbing scene I've ever seen.

Anyway, I had intended for "Screw-Up Movies" to be a series, and this was to be the third one (you can read the first two here and here).  But then I stepped back from blogging and gave up on the idea.

Irreviews, 2011


Up until some point in 2011, I used to write quick reviews of every movie I watched, be it old, new, whatever.  I got tired of it, apparently, and simply stopped the reviews, but not before prepping a number of review posts.

Added Thought: I have a feeling I consolidated these somewhere once before.  I probably did, right here on this blog, but I guess I just didn't delete these aborted entries from the "draft" folder.

Anyway, the "Irreviews" were all supposed to have the same format.  It was as follows:

Title in Bold (year of release)
Director:
Writer(s):
Starring:
-----
A quick description of the movie with a very condensed review.

Verdict: Either or "SEE it" or "SKIP it."  Occasionally I wrote something else, with perhaps a caveat or a conditional.

Added Thought: For the most part, if the information is complete, I've left it that way on purpose.  As I stated above, I'm lazy, so don't feel like looking that shit up.  And, fuck it... it's for archival sake.

Anyway, these were to be Issue VIII:

A Boy and His Dog (19 ) SEE it.
Audition (1999 ) SKIP it.
Breaker Morant (1980) SEE it. Great film.
Essex Boys (19 ) SEE it.
The Great Train Robbery (1979)
Known as The First Great Train Robbery everywhere else in the world,
Verdict: Genre fans, sure. Everyone else, SKIP it.
Hot Tub Time Machine (2010) SEE it.
The Krays (1990 ) Genre fans, sure. Everyone one, SKIP it.
Like Water for Chocolate (1992)Eh... women, SEE it. Men, SKIP it (unless with a woman).
Two Hands (1999) SEE it.
The Way Back (2010) It's good, but...

Issue IX:

Beowulf & Grendel (
The Coca-Cola Kid ( Verdict: SKIP it, unless you're in love with Greta Scacchi, which would be completely understandable.
The Cove (20) SEE it. And support it.
F/X (19) SEE it.
Let the Right One In (2008) SEE it.

Added Thought: I have no idea what happened to issues X, XI, and XII.  I must have combined them with something or posted them somewhere else.  I dunno.  Mystery, that.

Issue XIII:

The Debt (2010) Eh...
The Disappearance of Alice Creed ( SEE it.
Room in Rome (
It tries to hard to be a lesbian version of Before Sunrise.Verdict: SKIP it.
Tangled ( Hard to say this, but SKIP it.
Valhalla Rising ( Hmm...

Issue XIV:

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Not quite Iron Man (or even Iron Man 2), but better than either of the Hulk films.Verdict: SEE it
The Captains (2011)
A bit self-indulgent on the part of William Shatner.Verdict: Star Trek fans, sure... everyone else... nah...
Croupier () SEE it.
Dark Portals: The Chronicles of Vidocq () Eh... SKIP it.
Isolation (2005)
Bit of a plot hole (just fly out... duh), but okay...Verdict: Sci-fi/horror fans, SEE it.
Monsters (2010)
Bit of a plot hole (just fly out... duh), but okay...
Verdict: Eh...

Added Thought: I'm not sure why Isolation has the same "irreview" as Monsters, but I can say that said "irreview" applies only to MonstersIsolation was something completely different (and I liked it... definitely see that one).

Also, at the end of the aborted blog entry for Issue XIV, there was a list of films apparently in the queue for future installments of Irreviews.  Alas...

The Fog
Cowboys vs. Aliens
The Burrowers
The Right Stuff
Black Hawk Down
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
No Looking Back
Bonnie and Clyde
50 Dead Men Walking
Presumed Innocent
Monkey Shines
Catacombs 
Creep
The Square - brilliant
36th Precinct - excellent action, powerful performances
Dangerous Beauty - tried too hard
Red Hill - no clue what it was supposed to be... western/horror/wtf?
The Big Bang

Added Thought: The Square (the Australian film, not the documentary about Arab Spring) is so brilliant, I've since elevated it to my "All-Time Greats" list.

Book Irreviews: Issue III


Added Thought: There were also Irreviews about books.  Issue III was intended to cover:

The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton
Lines and Shadows, Joseph Wambaugh
Cloudstreet, Tim Winton
Grand Days, Frank Moorhouse

Added Thought: All very good books, by the way.

Irreviews: British Television: Issue III 


Added Thought: And, hey... I even did Irreviews about BRITISH television. How about that? They used the same format as for movies. Not sure why "Men Behaving Badly" didn't get a verdict... I think because I didn't watch enough of it.

The Comic Strip SKIP it.
Coupling SEE it.
Men Behaving Badly
The Office SEE it.
Rev. SEE it.
Whites SEE it.

Final Thought: And... that's about it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Photos from Australia, 2016, Part XVI: Return to Featherdale

In what's becoming a tradition, I returned to Featherdale Wildlife Park (my third visit in three trips to Australia).  And, like my 2014 Australia trip, it was last my hurrah in-country.

Of course I'll be back.

On the way to Featherdale.  I couldn't figure out if everything inside was 70% off, or the building was 70% off.

Sleeping wombat.  In case I haven't mentioned it before, their poo is square-shaped.

Alex had never seen a pademelon before.  Probably had never heard of one, either.  They're cute little guys.

Remember that cassowary I was looking for?  Found one.  But it doesn't count.

This dude is passed the fuck out.  Koalas might be my spirit animal.

Echidnas.  One of two mammals to lay eggs.

No one told her that her baby was folded in half.  And falling out of the pouch.  It's hard to tell, but the other roo has a joey, as well.

This photo doesn't do them justice, but quokkas are the cutest animals on the planet.  Google them.  I told you.

Salt water croc.  I'm pretty sure he's sleeping like that.

WHERE ARE THESE SWOOPING BIRDS???

Yep... definitely my spirit animal.

An assortment of the beers, ales, and ciders I tried this time around.  I couldn't find my bottle collection from 2014.

Farewell meal.  Spaghetti bolognese.  With minced kangaroo.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Photos from Australia, 2016, Part XV: Shenanigans

Finally back in Sydney to relax and recuperate before my return to the United States.

But, then, a buddy of mine that I met at a film festival randomly hits me up and tells me he's flying into Sydney... literally the weekend I'm leaving.  And, of course we pick him up and do shit.

First day, we run around the harbour area.  Second day, we pick him up, take him to Helen's, feed him roo and croc, and get him drunk.  Or try to.  The man doesn't drink much, it seems.

Ah, well... more for me!

They... they don't spell "chili" correctly down there!!!

Helen's dog, Brit.  Clearly happy to see us.

Brett, on the other hand... quite welcoming.

And he's a small one.  Puny bitch.

The Harbour Bridge.  Old hat, this one.

With its two flags... one of which, most New South Welshmen don't even know what it represents.  Funny, that.

Ate here.  Recommended.
 
Just a bunch of filmmakers doing their part for charity.

A topiary of spider monkeys.  Royal Botanical Gardens.

Alex has never seen the Opera House.  I have.  Been to a show there, too.  Nyer.
 
Kangaroo, I expect!  But croc!!! In a grocery store??? Oh, Hell, yes!


Krupnikas.  Try some.  It's brilliant.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Photos from Australia, 2016, Part XIV: Back to Sydney

After Mission Beach, it was back north to Cairns for an uneventful night (albeit with probably the best Thai food in Australia), then a flight south to Brisbane, an overnight with Helen's cousin, then a drive south to see Pat and Hannah (whom I met on my first trip to Oz in 2011), then back to Sydney.

Don't fret, though... this is not the last "Photos from Australia" post, as there was a surprise visitor in the Harbour City and a visit to my favorite zoo.

A double rainbow on the drive north.

Samgasat Thai in Cairns.  If you're ever there, go there.

I do this thing where I take a photo of all of my rental cars.  So there you go.

I swear Australian airport food just wants to make American airport food jealous.  Well, it's fucking working!

See that white streak just under the center of the cloud?  I'm fairly certain that's Michaelmas Cay, which is that sandbar island from the Great Barrier Reef trip with all the birds on it.

Remember the "Super Moon" from last November?  Well, that's supposedly it.  Caught it from the air.

Just a cool sunset over the ocean image... even though the Sun was setting on the other side of the plane.

Philippa's dog.  Can't remember her name, but she refused to let go of this stuffed animal.

People who know me will know why I took a photo of this.

Brisbane, in all of its glory.  Didn't get a chance to explore properly.  Will do so in the future.

If you don't think this is salaciously funny, then you're just stupid.

Don't mind what you've heard about Australia and guns.  There are plenty of gun stores.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Photos from Australia, 2016, Part XIII: Mission Beach

At long last, we reached Mission Beach!  And, by "long last," I mean about eight hours.  Maybe less.

The first night was drinking.  The second night was a bit of exploring.  Then a jaunt to a small island.  Then back to Cairns.

Now, Mission Beach is in a placed called the Cassowary Coast.  For those unfamiliar, cassowaries are these dinosaurs of birds.  Quite colorful, supposedly quite vicious, and an endangered species.  I wanted to see one.

I did not get to see one.  Well, except in a zoo (I'll show you that one in a couple of posts), but that doesn't count.

Which means I'm going back the Cassowary Coast at some point.

Look who greeted us as we drove into the neighborhood.

Bingil Bay Cafe.  Helen's friend, Toni, loves this place.  I can't recall the food, but the ambiance is cool enough.

Just another gorgeous overlook somewhere.

I was using a public toilet, and this guy was stressed the fuck out.  On his back, couldn't flap his wingie thingies, and ants were closing in...

So I grabbed some leaves, picked him up, and put him outside.  He disappeared shortly after.  Probably bird food.

Some poor guy's boat.  Or gal's boat.  I'm not sexist.  I doubt that salt water crocodile that did this was sexist, either.

Hunting for salt water crocs at night.  Do you see something???

DO YOU SEE SOMETHING???

Ah, Australian marketing... unintentionally funny since 1788.

About to catch that boat to that island.  On the left, my good friend Helen.  On the right, my instant friend Ash.  There's a story there.  I'm not going to tell it.

The inside of our water taxi.  And Ash's foot.

There was brief consideration given to snorkeling out to that smaller island from the slightly bigger island.

In 2011, a cyclone called Yasi knocked the fuck out of the island resort.  It hasn't quite recovered.

Sandbar peninsula, with Australia's mainland in the distance.

I was walking around the beach on Mission Beach.  These things are everywhere.  Some kind of crab does this.

I noticed that the nutrition label on my bag of beef jerky was a sticker.  So I peeled off the sticker.  Funny how things don't quite match up.

Looking back at Dunk Island.  At this point, I was wandering the area, looking for a fucking cassowary.

And I didn't quite find one...

The resort where a new friend, John, works.  He's Danish.  And a trip.

On our way back to Cairns, saying goodbye to the neighborhood roos.

Irreview, Book Review: The Nutshell Technique

I have, to date, read well over two dozen books on screenwriting and its related mediums (theatre, specifically).  While most - if not all -...