Thursday, December 23, 2010

Viruses, Sticks, and Clean Dishes...

My computer came down with a nasty virus the other day.

It was called "SecurityShield", and is designed to shut down programs on your system, telling you that they are infected with Trojan.worm.backdoor.consume.black-hole-of-despair.death or some such or the other, and would you like to register your copy and clean these infections off of your system for the amazingly low price of $79.95, all major credit cards accepted?

This seems to me the cyberspace equivalent of the unscrupulous rat-catcher who carries around a packet of rodent droppings to scatter in your cabinets while you're not looking:

"All done here, but lemme show ya somethin. You got rats. Big 'uns, too, from the looks of it."

"Oh, um, wow. Can you..."

"Ayuh, I can get rid of 'em for ya, but rodents that size? It'll cost.

"Oh, ayuh, it'll cost..."

Thankfully, my tech-savvy brother was able to get rid of it for me without wiping everything and re-installing my operating system (see, Mom, when he was twelve and I told you not to kill him 'cause someday he'd be worth something, I was right), but it still left me with four days of almost no computer time except for the fifteen minutes or so that I could convince my mother to let me use her computer to check my email.

What to do?

Well, it started me thinking about things I used to do before computers and the internet were in almost every American household (yes, kids, I'm older than the dad-blamed intrawebs), so I dusted off my abacus and sat down for some recreational math.

Ha, ha; just kidding there, kids. We all know that math is evil, and on the list of Fun Things To Do When You Can't Get Online ranks somewhere below "ritual suicide", but above "cleaning toilets".

When I was a kid, way back in the pioneer days of the 1970's and 80's, we went outside and played with sticks a lot. Except they weren't really sticks, they were swords, and all you needed to have fun was enough kids to form opposing armies (of course, if one of those kids was lucky enough to have access to a discarded refrigerator box, well, then your adventures were complete).

My own kids were gone for the week with their mother's parents, and all of the kids I used to play with are long since grown up, so I didn't think it would look right to the neighbors if I went out and played with sticks by myself, so I decided to do some of the other things that needed doing.

Like cleaning the kitchen.

I know what you're thinking; that doesn't sound like fun, and quite frankly, it wasn't, but it had been awhile since I had done the deep-core cleaning that kitchens require every so often, the kind that involves a couple of hours of back-breaking labor that results in:

a. A clean kitchen

b. A rewarding sense of satisfaction at a job well done, and

c. One sore back

Well, now the kitchen was clean and I still had no internet access. I couldn't even write, because I couldn't access Word, and I long ago gave up writing longhand.

So I did some laundry. Then I sat down with my pencils and drew. Then I painted with watercolors a bit.

Over the next four days, I did all kinds of things that didn't require a wi-fi connection.

Most of you are probably wondering what the point of this is, so here you go:

I discovered, during my time of non-connectedness, that life was still happening.
There was still a world outside of the internet, and I have a place in it.

Don't get me wrong; I love being out here in cyberspace, sharing my words with you, and I have met some truly wonderful friends that I wouldn't have met otherwise.

The internet can be a good thing, but it can also make you forget that the world that's been around for millions of years is still going on strong out there.

Use the internet. Enjoy the people you meet here.

But don't forget to turn off the computer and do other things. Every now and again, it's good to be off the grid.

A virus taught me that.

My sore back teaches me that if anything like this happens again: whether the kids are here or not, I'm going outside to play with sticks.
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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Seasoned Greetings

I haven't posted in a couple of weeks; it's been busy.

I haven't had much time for writing either, but I haven't been completely idle.

I have completed my Christmas card for 2010, and thought I would share it with you, my gentle readers:


The next week or so promises to be hectic (as I'm sure it will be for most of you as well) and I'm not sure if I'll be able to post again before Christmas, so I'd like to take this chance to wish you all a very happy holiday season, no matter the holiday you celebrate.
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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: Dragonslayer

When I was ten years old, I was obsessed with fantasy. What had begun a few years earlier with a second-grade reading of the Chronicles of Narnia quickly led to a two-night reading of The Hobbit (I wouldn't read the rest of Lord of the Rings until a few years later, but by the end of second grade, I was already a denizen of Middle-Earth), which led to the eager reading of the Chronicles of Prydain by Alexander, which led to an equally-greedy consumption of The Tripods Trilogy by John Christopher (all right, strictly speaking, that's a science-fiction trilogy, but it was very influential to my young mind, and so merits a mention here).

I devoured any and every book I could find on mythology, fantasy, and history, leading to my love of swords, sorcery, unicorns, gryffons, trolls, orcs, and of course, dragons.

The point being, I loved this stuff. I couldn't get enough of it (truth be told, I still can't).

Then, in June of 1981, Disney unleashed Dragonslayer.


My ten-year-old mind was blown away.

Dragonslayer tells the story of young Galen Bradwarden, a sorcerer's apprentice who undertakes a mission in his dead master's name.

A mission to exterminate a very old, very nasty dragon named Vermithrax Perjorative, "The Wyrm of Thrace who makes things worse".

Coolest.  Dragon.  Ever.




Through leagues of travel, betrayal, murder, and love, Bradwarden and his deceased master prove victorious (just in case you haven't seen this movie, I'm not giving anything away).

It's difficult to explain the impact this film had on me. It was the first time I had seen a dragon (outside of animation; thank you, Rankin-Bass, for Smaug) that looked good; the first time I had seen my beloved man-vs-monster fantasy tales brought to such convincing life.

I have watched this film recently, and it is one of the few that truly stands up to my childhood memories of it.

Filmed long before the problems of bringing dragons to life could be solved with cgi, Industrial Light & Magic pioneered a process called go-motion photography to animate its dragon models and puppets, eliminating the herky-jerky crispness of the stop-motion photography that had ruled the industry since the 1930's (don't get me wrong here; I love that unreal, dream-like look of stop-motion, but ILM brought a level of reality to Vermithrax that is as impressive as anything wrought by a computer today).




Dragonslayer is the standard by which I judge dragon movies, and though some have been impressive, so far none have defeated the mighty Vermithrax in my imagination.

If you somehow haven't seen this movie, I encourage you to seek it out. You should be able to find it on DVD for five dollars or under.

If you have seen it, but just haven't seen it for a while, revisit it. You won't be sorry.

It is just as good as you remember.
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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Saturday, November 20, 2010

As promised, I've given a little lovin' to my poor, neglected Second Star to the Right.

Won't you please pay a visit and read about:

...dum, dum, dum, dummmmm...

Fear.
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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Thousand Pardons...

Okay, maybe just one:

Life has been really getting in the way lately (not in a bad way at all; just extremely busy), and my poor blogs are suffering for it.

Tuesday Treasures will be back next week, and Second Star to the Right will be getting more attention from me, too.

So, I'm sorry about my scheduling issues lately, and will be back on track in time for Thanksgiving!

And now for something completely different:


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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Trick or Treat--or--Penguin Dancin' On A Train...

Just thought I'd share some pics of trick-or-treating with my boys.  They have proclaimed this year the "best Halloween ever", so I think they enjoyed it.

Without further ado:

Ninja Hunter and SuperBlake

My friend's youngest daughter, Macie


Together with Macie's older sister, Mckenna

My nephew, Asher

Asher bustin' a move after some chocolate

The Ghost Train, before...

...and after

On board the train

Some guy's extremely cool yard

Another cool yard pic

Macie and Mckenna (and my arm) at the "after-party" dinner at McDonald's (this shot was actually taken by Blake)

I have so many other great photos I could share, but these pretty much sum up the fun of the evening.

The neighborhood we went trick-or-treating in was like I remember mine as a child: there were dozens of people walking around, folks were sitting out in their driveways or on on their porches passing out candy, and everywhere the train went, people were shouting "Happy Halloween!"

The only bad part about it was that it came to an end.

Til next year...
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Thanks for reading my ranting,
Brad

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Kids, Don't Try This At Home...Ever.

At the school I work at, snack time is an important part of the day.

Like second-breakfast for hobbits, it is necessary for the kids to have their daily after-lunch-but-before-snack-at-home bit of goodness.

Usually we make offerings of fruit gummies, Goldfish crackers (the snack that smiles back), animal crackers (the taste says "cookie" to me, but that's beside the point), fruit, etc...

These offerings are usually met with acceptance, and a promise to not tear around the room and destroy things for the amount of time it takes to consume said snack. It is a formula that has worked since time immemorial (or at least the beginning of the school year).

Til we (the grown-ups) messed with the formula.

Last Friday, we decided to do something just a bit different: we decided to have a "snack-time cooking adventure".

We discovered that the kids in our class don't take well to adventure.

We had our recipe for Cracker Jacks, a tasty treat that all kids love, right?

Heh.

We have ten kids in our class, and thought it would be fun if they could all participate in the snack-making process, so everyone got to put in a separate ingredient, stir the syrupy mixture that resulted (this is the point where I started getting nervous, but I kept my fears to myself), and they all seemed to enjoy that part of it.

Then came the cooking part.

I placed the bowl containing the goopy, pre-Cracker Jacks...stuff...into the microwave and set it for the time given in the recipe.

So far, so good.

We discovered that we had put the baking soda in one step too early, but that part worked out, 'cause it foamed up really cool, and we got several "ooh's" and "aahhh's" from the still-excited kids.

Then, we poured amounts of the sticky-and-quickly-hardening "candy" into paper sacks of popcorn. After letting the kids shake up their bags, I placed one back into the microwave, because the directions said at this point to "cook again in microwave for one minute". I followed the directions.

That was my mistake.

What came out of the microwave after only twenty-five seconds was a bag of fear that emitted a noxious, gassy smoke, prompting one girl in the class to remind us that she doesn't like fire alarms.

We promptly opened all of the windows, which also gave me a place to dump the horrible first results of our experiment (there was some concern that it would kill any animals which might happen upon it, but I argued that no animal would be stupid enough to eat what we had just wrought).

There was terror in the room now; terror that smelled of charred brown sugar and death.

We forged ahead.

There was enough of the tarry concoction left that we tried a different tack; we put popcorn onto paper plates, heated the candy-stuff just enough to keep it viscous (I love that word), poured it over the popcorn and mixed it up.

The first table to receive the benefits of our wisdom seated four children. As soon as the re-heated Cracker Jack "soup" hit the popcorn at the center of the table, all four chairs scooted away, scattering to the four points of the compass.

"No snack! No snack!" said one child, while another simply proclaimed, "Eeew...". The other two children were apparently terrified beyond the capacity for sound.

Seeing the gossamer strings that formed as the stuff stretched and cooled brought a comment of "I won't eat that! There's hair in it!" at another table.

We did eventually convince the children to try it, by trying it ourselves. I was a bit apprehensive about this, but I had to think of the kids.

We all discovered that, despite its horrid appearance and evil stench, it did, in fact, taste like Cracker Jacks.

Which I don't like very much, but again: beside the point.

Once they tried it, all fear was gone, and the kids descended upon the hapless homemade horror, reducing it to crumbs and little crunchy bits of whatever that Cracker Jack stuff really is.

For the rest of the day, kids from other classes were wondering why they smelled "burnt pancakes", and teachers from all over the school were stopping me to ask "Was...was there something on fire in your room?"

The kids got their snack (we felt bad about terrifying them earlier, so the little hobbits got "second-snack" a bit later), I got a lifetime of memories (once the fear was over, I laughed longer and harder than I have in a long time, and that's saying something, 'cause I laugh a lot), and the school got a new aroma that still haunts the hallway (I suspect that forty years from now, someone will be standing in our classroom saying "Something horrible once happened here...").

We even learned a valuable lesson:

We need to keep a lot more fruit snacks on hand.
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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Second Star

Please join me over at Second Star to the Right, where today I'm welcoming special guest blogger Janice Hardy, who is talking about brainstorming.

And now, I'm off to work.

Woo-hoo!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Another Reminder

For those of you who don't yet read my writing blog, Second Star to the Right, I hope you'll join me tomorrow in welcoming special guest blogger Janice Hardy as she stops by as part of her whirlwind Blue Fire Blog Tour.

I'll post a link here tomorrow, too, and I hope some of you will find out that you like Second Star, and maybe hang around for a bit.
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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bugs--They're Not Just For Breakfast Anymore...

There is absolutely nothing to be gained from explaining how I came by this knowledge, so I'll just jump right in there:

Today is National Chocolate-Covered Insect Day.

I'm surprised the kids don't get out of school for this one.

Apparently, this is a big deal.

A google search will pull up many informative websites, dedicated to everything from making sure that your chocolate-coated creepies are farm-raised, to the health benefits of this...interesting...use of chocolate, to taste comparisons--"The mantis has an earthy, nutty after-taste, while the fire ants taste like...fire ants".

I'm sure that somewhere, someone has figured out how many Weight Watchers points a candy-coated centipede is worth.

I've even found a recipe for chocolate scorpions, which pretty much amounts to:

a. Melt chocolate
b. Dip scorpion into chocolate
c. Eat said scorpion

Nothing says lovin better than something that can kill you, dipped in sweetness...

Wait.

Actually, lots of things say lovin better than that.

I mean, come on, they don't even put sprinkles on 'em?!?

Lots of people say they taste like chocolate-covered popcorn.

I think I'll just stick with the popcorn, and say it tastes like bugs.

Although I have to admit, knowing that you can buy big boxes of these things is going to make next Valentine's Day reeeeeaaaally interesting.
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Thanks for reading my ranting,
Brad

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: Thundarr the Barbarian

Last week's TT, about the Saturday Morning theme songs, got me to thinking a great deal about some of the old cartoons that made my Saturday mornings so exciting. I've been reliving some of those days in my mind, days when sticks were swords and the patch of woods a couple of blocks from my house was an enchanted (often haunted) forest.

Of course, from the beginning, there was Scooby-Doo. There was Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. Hong Kong Phooey. Wheelie and the Chopper Gang (I seem to be one of the few that remembers this late 70's treat, but remember it I do). The Tarzan/Lone Ranger Hour. If the phrase "Meanwhile...back at the Hall of Justice" means anything to you, you know there were the SuperFriends.

And from 1980 to 1982, there was Thundarr the Barbarian.

The 80's weren't all bad

Thundarr was a--well, a barbarian--living on the post-apocalyptic Earth of the year 3994. With his companions, the sorceress Princess Ariel and the savage, Wookie-like lion-man, Ookla the Mok, he traveled the world over, facing evil sorcerers and strange mutant monsters.

Actually, the intro to the show sums it all up:



I fell in love with this show immediately. I loved the premise, I loved the characters, and I loved that super-cool, lightsaber-like Sunsword.

I've always been a huge comic book fan, and one of the reasons that this show resonated with me so strongly is that its creators are a veritable who's who of comic book talent: Alex Toth (who also designed Space Ghost, another childhood hero), Jack Kirby (just about everything in the world of comics owes its existence to the King), Steve Gerber (creator of, among other things, Howard the Duck--forget the movie, the comics were great); many other comic book writers, folks responsible for some of the best stories of my youth, contributed to the twenty-one episodes eventually produced. This show felt like a comic book, and I loved it.

Of course, at the time, I didn't know any of the comic book creators involved; it was just a good cartoon that fired my imagination.

This was the first "post-apocalyptic" story that I was exposed to--I didn't discover Mad Max until a few years later when we got cable--and it created a love of the sub-genre that still carries strong.

The series is available on dvd, but I haven't watched it since I was 11 years old, and I really can't say whether it holds up or not.

But that doesn't matter. What matters are my memories of it; the memories of a nine-year-old boy who couldn't get enough of these kinds of stories, who dreamed of adventure.

A boy who has become a 39-year-old man who still dreams of adventure.

It's a part of my childhood, thus it's a part of me.

And "Ookla the Mok" would be a great name for a band.
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Thanks for reading my ranting,
Brad

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mars Needs Bread!

I went to make a sandwich for myself the other day.

Nothing unusual about this; I make and enjoy sandwiches frequently.

This time, things were a little different.

I rolled back the cover of my breadbox, expecting to find a fresh, unopened bag of tasty bread, ready for whatever ingredients I saw fit to deposit on it.

Instead, what I found was an empty bread sack, crumpled up next to every single slice of bread from the loaf, crammed into the breadbox and twisted almost beyond recognition.

Every.

Single.

Slice.

When strange and unusual things happen here, the first thing I usually say is "Blake", and this was no exception.

"Blake," I said. "What happened to the bread?"

"Oh," he replied in a very matter-of-fact tone. "When I took my flying saucer out of the breadbox, it tried to take the bread, and it all fell out."

Ah.

Of course it did.

I admit, I had not yet thought of this possibility.

Apparently, the little plastic Martians that fly around my house in their little plastic flying saucer (which used to be mine, by the way; my kids got most of my coolest old toys) could not find a field of wheat in which to make crop circles and decided to attempt the same feat with wheat bread, but managing only a stale, hardened construction that I call "breadhenge".

I would have called on the vacuum cleaner that is my dog to take care of the mess (I don't believe in the five-second-rule; if food touches the ground, it's forfeit), but Blake felt it more prudent to at least put the bread back in the bread box.

Despite the fact that I never got my sandwich (darn Martians) and had to throw away a full loaf of bread, I remain impressed that Blake actually cleaned up after himself.

This shows, in a roundabout way, that he actually does sometimes listen to me.

I consider this progress.

I now have more bread, but I don't think I'll make a sandwich right now. I'm afraid I'll find that Venusians have abducted my peanut butter.
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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: Toon Tunes

When I was a kid, Saturday mornings were magic.

Not only was there no school, not only were there mass quantities of sugary cereal, there were those wonderful, wonderful cartoons.

The freedoms and joys of Saturday morning will be covered in another post, but today I'm going to share an album that takes me back to those long-ago animation-fests.

Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits:


Released in 1995, Saturday Morning is a collection of various artists recording covers of their favorite childhood cartoon theme songs.

Some you will recognize, others you've never heard of, but all are good.

This music is just plain fun.

I've owned this CD for fifteen years, and still listen to it regularly.

Here's just a sample:

Spider-Man, by The Ramones (yes, The Ramones):



Popeye, by Face To Face (I'd never heard of them, either, but this is one of my favorites on this CD):



Fat Albert, by Dig:



And The Banana Splits, by Liz Phair and Material Issue:



It's hard to pick songs to show you here, because every song on the album is fun.

I enjoy this album as much now as when I bought it years ago; not only does it bring my childhood to mind, it's just good music in its own right.

I can't listen to this music without feeling good, and my kids love to listen to it, too; Blake often asks for the "Nana Spits" song.

If you're a child of the 70's and/or 80's, like me, you'll enjoy this record (that's what we used to call 'em in the 70's, kids). If you're a bit younger, I think you'll still enjoy the music and overall sense of fun in every song.

Go ahead. Listen to some cartoons.
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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Welcome Home, Ava

Every now and again, something happens that is so momentous--so joyous--that it has to be shared.

Today is such a day.

My friends Doug and Jennifer brought home their little girl today; not for the first time...but for the first time.

Ava's been with them as a foster child since January of 2009, and today, after a year and a half of starts, stops, frustrations, and scissors that have been too slow cutting through the legal red tape, her adoption is final.

She's been there; now she's theirs.

Ava worked her way into my heart the first time I met her. She's a wonderful, curly-haired little girl with eyes that shine as bright as her smile, both being made up of equal parts charm, glee, and excitement, with just a dash of mischief thrown in.



See what I mean?

You can't help but respond to that smile with a smile of your own.

She is mighty, in that regard; she has the power to lift you up when you don't feel like being lifted. One day recently I was feeling down, and she offered me her half-eaten Tootsie Roll.

How could I still be down after that?

She is with the parents she deserves, parents that will, and already have, love her unconditionally and unequivocally as the shining star that she is. She now has two older brothers who will love and protect her as much as her parents do.

I remember sitting next to her on the couch at their house one evening, letting her drag a comb through my hair.  She took her time, making sure that she left nothing untouched.

"Thank you, Ava," I said when she announced she was done. "Did you make me all pretty?"

"No..." she replied. "I pretty!"

Yes, you are, Ava.

You're beautiful.

And you're home now.

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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teusday Treasures: Some Movie With Turtles In It...


By the time the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie hit theaters in 1990, I had been a Turtle fan for six years.

I'm not talking about the silly, kid-version cartoon (my little brother was obsessed with it, though), or the plethora of Turtle toys (although I did own one each of the four Turtles--I'm a geek, whaddya expect?), I'm talking about the original, black-and-white comic book series from Mirage Studios, first published in 1984.

It was never meant as a serious book; it was a parody of famous comics of the period. However, it evolved into a serious (for the most part), story-driven, grown-up, dark action comic.

And I loved it.

When the cartoon series premiered and then exploded into every kid-run household in America, I thought "Let the kids have their fun with it. I still get to enjoy the books."

When this movie came out in 1990 (a year after I graduated high school), my friends and I were there to see how it compared to our beloved comic books.

I was blown away.

The film holds onto some of the more mature darkness of the original comics, while retaining some of the kid-friendly goofiness that made it so accessible to children. It is a tribute to both the comics, which were there first, and the cartoon, which made the Turtles an international phenomenon.

This movie worked for me on a great many levels: the casting and acting were far above what you would expect of a film based on a cartoon based on a comic book (c'mon, admit it: Elias Koteas as Casey Jones is one of the coolest movie heroes ever). The storylines and themes, as well as its humor, were that sometimes-difficult-to-achieve blend of mature themes easily digested by children.

The animatronic puppets and costumes created by the Jim Henson Creature Shop were exceptional (duh--Jim Henson, folks). During most of this movie, you easily forget that the main characters are, essentially, muppets. Incidentally, this is one of the last projects that Henson personally had his hands in--it was released less than two months before his sudden death in May of that year.

As a long-time fan of martial arts movies (c'mon, I was a kid in the 70's and 80's; Kung Fu Theater was a Sunday afternoon staple), I was impressed by the first-rate fight scene choreography, made all the more impressive when you realize that the performers were wearing cumbersome Turtle costumes while leaping and kicking.

The cast and crew seemed dedicated to making a good movie, and it shows.

One of the reasons I love this movie so much is for the simple reason that it shouldn't have been this good. By all rights, it should have been as stupid and unwatchable as the sequels became (Vanilla Ice?!? Seriously?!?).

But it wasn't. It was solid, entertaining story-telling wrapped up in incredible visuals.

It was, and is, just plain fun.

My kids just watched it for the first time, and have become addicts.

Just like their old man.

Cowabunga, indeed.

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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Memories of Adventure, and a Biker Cat...

After Grammy's funeral on Thursday, my brother and I went for a walk on her property, in the woods we played in as kids.

I thought I'd share some of the things that brought me so much adventure and inspiration when I walked there so long ago...

The road to adventure

Stairs to a forgotten nowhere

My own "Wood Between the Worlds"

The old, mysterious flood gate

The gatewall, where I became Indiana Jones

These are just a few of the places to go there; days and weeks of adventure and secret places abound in Grammy's woods.

How could I not be inspired when this was my backyard?

We also got a pretty good pic of my Uncle Tim's cat...

Please put me down...


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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: Grammy's House

Today's TT almost didn't happen.

I wasn't really in the mood; you see, my Grammy died today.

Grammy was my Dad's mom (my Mom's mom died at the beginning of the summer), and it hurts--a lot--because not only did I love her, but it's kind of like losing another piece of my Dad again.

No, I really wasn't in a very good, sharing mood today, until I started to remember going to Grammy's house as a kid, and I realized: there's my treasure. There's my joy.

From the 1930's until just about a month ago, my Grammy lived in the same farmhouse.  My Dad and his four brothers grew up in that house.

Grammy never threw anything away, and I remember my childhood visits to her house being voyages of discovery.

In one room of her dark, spooky basement (a very powerful memory in and of itself) was a huge collection of boy's toys from the 40's, 50's, and 60's. I would spend hours down there, playing with old toys designed to last, being made of metal and wood instead of cheap, easily broken plastic.

Cap pistols that had the look and weight of real, old-West revolvers. Toy cars and trucks that were so heavy, my brother and I actually sustained injuries from hitting each other with them (we're brothers; we're supposed to do that). Rubber-band rifles that shot two-foot-long bands and would leave welts on your victim (again, my brother).

Toys from that era were apparently designed to make kids tougher.

Aside from the basement, I remember huge, home-made country breakfasts and ice cream on hot summer evenings.

Grammy owned a lot of land (it was a working farm when my Dad was little), and I would spend even more hours wandering the fields and woods around her house, letting my imagination go wild.

I became a cowboy. I became a Revolutionary and Civil War soldier. I became Indiana Jones, and the abandoned sheds and foundations of old houses that dotted her property became lost temples containing mountains of treasure and hidden traps galore. I would walk through an empty field and become Jason, fresh off the Argos, or Aragorn, fighting legions of Orcs and living skeletons with sticks that were really swords, slicing their way through the evil monsters I encountered. I became Han Solo on the forest moon of Endor and defeated the Empire countless times.

More often than not, I would return to Grammy's house after these day-long adventures with my pockets full of arrowheads or rusty 19th-century padlocks or dozens of other interesting things I found in the woods, and my Dad and I would sit at her big table and eat ice cream while he told me about some of the treasures he used to find when he was a kid, doing the same things I did.

My Dad taught me to shoot in those fields and woods.

Grammy's house was a great place to be a kid, and I always knew that a visit there would be filled with adventure.

So there are some of my treasures this Tuesday. Treasures that both make the pain of losing Grammy today a little bit sharper and help me feel better.

Grammy had a long, sometimes difficult (she buried two sons, and I hope I never have to know how that feels) but good life. She got to enjoy my kids, and my brother's son.

She loved well, and was well-loved.

Good night, Grammy. I love you.
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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: Being a Quitter...

You may have noticed that I missed last week, and I do apologize for that. I got so busy that it was Friday before I realized that Tuesday had come and gone.

This week's installment is a little bit different.

Today I am celebrating being a quitter.

I quit smoking today.

Not for the first time; quitting smoking is relatively easy--staying quit is a different monster altogether.

One of the reasons that I've had so much trouble in the past is that I've always treated it like a habit that needs to be broken.

That's not true: smoking in an addiction, and needs to be treated as you would treat any other chemical dependency. It's no different than an alcoholic who quits drinking, or a heroin addict who fights to get clean.

Another reason I've had trouble, I believe, is that every time before, I've essentially kept it to myself. I've always figured, it's my addiction, I'll fight it on my own.

Which has led to failure. Every time.

Now, I'm standing up and declaring it out loud. I'm screaming from the virtual rooftops, "I AM A QUITTER!!"

I lost my dad because of smoking, and my boys deserve better than for me to put them through that. They need me to be around as long as I can be.

And, selfishly, I have a strong desire to be "not dead".

Hunter and Blake and I just went out to the grill and set fire to my last, almost-full pack.

I'm through. I was a smoker for at least twenty-one years (to be honest, I don't remember how old I was when I started, just that I was a full-blown addict in my senior year of high school), and I am through letting something as stupid as this stupid addiction to this stupid chemical control my life.

I've wasted a great deal of time and money on this stupidity over the years, and quite frankly, I have better things to spend both on.

I'm done being a slave to this.

It will be difficult. Nicotine has ruled my system (and my life) for so long that I don't remember what it was like to be in control of myself.

I guess in that respect, I'm not really quitting. The real "quit" was when I gave myself over to this insanity so long ago.

This isn't my "quit date".

It's my "start date".

I'm going to start being the real me again.

I'm looking forward to finding out what I'm like.
************************************************

Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where Were You?


My parents' generation asked the question "Where were you when you heard the news" about the day that Kennedy was killed, and most of them could vividly remember the exact moment in history when their world changed.

The world and our perceptions of it clearly changed again on September 11, 2001, and I believe most people who were old enough to be aware of it remember where in their worlds they were when it happened.

Today, nine years later, my memories of that day are clear, yet hazy with the feeling of unreality that still clings.

I was working third shift security at the time, and had stopped at the store on the way home to get stuff to fix breakfast. Hunter was just over a month old, and I was looking forward to spending a relaxing morning with him and his mother.

The checkout clerk told me as she scanned my items, "Turn on the tv when you get home. They just said that a plane hit the World Trade Center."

Wow, I thought. I need to check that out and see what's going on.

When I got home, I told my wife to turn on one of the morning news shows so we could see what was happening.

When I saw the smoke and flames engulfing the WTC, what I had thought was going to be a small, terrible accident transformed into a gigantic, horrifying accident.

Less than two minutes after I sat down to watch, the second plane struck, and I realized, along with the rest of the world, that this was not an accident.

My world-view shattered in that instant, and my memories of the rest of that day are clear but broken and disjointed; they are images caught in reflections on shards of falling glass.

The sense of unreality only deepened as the towers crumbled and fell.

My mind literally could not interpret what it was seeing; it took several moments for reality to break through the clouds of smoke, dust, and ash and drive home that this is not a special effect.

This was reality, and I was seeing thousands of lives ending, snuffed out by hate and stupidity.

My strongest memory, however, is not the planes striking the buildings. My strongest memory is not those buildings crumbling into so many pieces.

My strongest memory is weeping for not only the thousands of lives that were being lost, but for the one life that I held in my hands.

I wept as I held my five-week-old son in my arms, looking at him and thinking, I'm so sorry. What kind of place have I brought you into?

Please, God, let his world be better than this.

Hunter is now nine years old. He has been joined by another life that I hold equally important, his brother, Blake.

It's my responsibility as their father to help them make their world better than this. To help them see past the pages in a history book that September 11, 2001 will be to them; to understand that though it is real, though it changed the world, it does not represent the world. The world is better than this.

Humanity is better than this.

I work hard every day to teach them that even though horrible things happen, life is good. It is full of wonder and joy and laughter.

My boys are with their mother this weekend, and I can't hold Hunter today like I did nine years ago, but that's okay. They're always with me no matter where they are.

I'm man enough to admit that the tears are flowing freely as I write this, tears shed in memory as well as in hope:

Hope that perhaps my sons' inevitable "Where were you" memories will be something good.
*****************************************************
Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Sunday, September 5, 2010

This Explains Everything...

Hunter: "Dad, I like this mask! It fits great!"

Me: "Somehow, I'm not surprised."

Blake: "Look, Dad! I'm as old as you!"

Me: "Ha. Hunter, let me see that pitchfork..."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: Ace, the Bat-Pug

Once again, I find my planned installment of Tuesday Treasures taking a backseat to something passed on by a friend.

This is what I get for surrounding myself with people who
A. Know how easily amused I am, and
B. Know exactly what kind of stuff so easily amuses me.

This one comes from my friend Mandy.

There is absolutely nothing I can say to make this any funnier, so I'm just going to let you go at it:



I told you.
*******************
Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: Penguin Peril

I actually had something else planned for today, but then Jaleh from Ex Libris Draconis sent me this, and I realized that I had to use it; I laughed too hard not to.



The whole thing is great, but I really love how the penguin looks over the side of the boat, taunting the killer whales--"Hey, guys, whaddya gonna do now, huh? Got me a boat."

Then he gets his groove on with the ladies--"So, you float around here often? You see me get away from those guys? Pretty cool, huh?"

This was just too funny to not be used today.

Thanks, Jaleh!
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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: A Few Funnies...

With today being the first day of school (and consequently my first full week back at work), I didn't have time to put together a full post, so I thought I would just leave you a couple of funnies that I first heard on the Dr. Demento radio show years ago.

This first one is by The Frantics, a Canadian comedy troupe. This is the only video I could find that had clear enough audio, and I recommend closing your eyes and listening as though it were on radio. It just seems funnier that way.



Next up is the Smothers Brothers:



And an early "Weird Al" song that you may not have heard:



Tuesday Treasures will make a full comeback next week, but I hope you enjoy the funnies.

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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Sunday, August 15, 2010

SF Scrivener Post

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to let you know that I've posted a dvd review of Paranormal Activity over at The SF Scrivener, a blog created by writing colleague Tim Turner.

Please go check it out, and help me support the community effort that Tim has created for us.

As always,

Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Friday, August 13, 2010

They're Coming To Get You, Barbaraaaaaa....

If you recognize the title of this post, then you're a fan of a good zombie story.

Friend and fellow writer Lydia Sharp is not only a fan of a good zombie story, she's also the writer of a good zombie story.

A zombie story that has been accepted for publication in an anthology.

To celebrate, Lydia is giving away two signed copies of the anthology, Flesh & Bone, over at her blog (which you should be reading anyway), The Sharp Angle.

I encourage you to help me congratulate her by checking out her rules of entry, and then enter, for Pete's sake!

Not only does she deserve this, it's a chance to win a free book.

And Lydia's story is in it, so it's a good free book.

What are you waiting for?!?

Go!!!

Go now!!!!
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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: Fright Night


I love horror movies.

Especially vampire movies. If they're well-done, I can't get enough of 'em.

There are many very good ones that I enjoy, but always at the top of my list is Fright Night.


Released in 1985 (good heavens, was I really only fourteen when I saw this?), Fright Night tells the story of Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale), a typical American high school student who discovers that his new neighbor, handsome, sophisticated Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon--Prince Humperdinck and Jack Skellington himself) is a centuries-old vampire.

He attempts to convince his best friend, fellow horror movie buff "Evil" Ed (Stephen Geoffries) and girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse, who went on to become Marcy on Married...With Children) that his neighbor is a blood-sucking fiend. Of course, they think he's insane.

To help cure his "delusions", Ed and Amy enlist the help of Charley's idol, Peter Vincent (the always wonderful Roddy McDowell), the aging star of sixties-era, Hammer Horror-like vampire movies. Vincent, who has just been fired from his job as host of a late-night horror-movie tv show called--appropriately enough--Fright Night, readily agrees to be paid to help.

Of course, they eventually become believers, and Dandridge attempts to keep his secret, seeking to make Ed a minion, Amy his bride, and Charley and Peter dead.

Fright Night is a fond tribute to my beloved Hammer Studio horror films of the sixties and the subsequent late-night television shows that kept them alive (both of which I love dearly, and will certainly be future installments of T.T.).

It was followed in 1988 by Fright Night Part 2, which wasn't as good as the first, but still very fun in its own right. The first film is easily found on dvd, but part 2 has been out of print for years, and is very difficult to come by.

In Hollywood's efforts to mine its past successes for inspiration, the inevitable re-make has been announced for an October, 2011 release. While I remain cautiously optimistic about it, it can never replace the original.

After all, they'll never be able to replicate Sarandon's Dandridge, standing at the top of his ornate staircase, mocking the frightened would-be vampire killers:

"Welcome to Fright Night...for real."
*************************************

Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: Blake

(Blake is on the right)

Last week, I told you a little bit about Hunter. I was going to wait for Blake's birthday to post about him, but that's not til February, and I couldn't wait that long to tell you about my other most important treasure.

Blake is the polar opposite of his brother; loud where Hunter is quiet, ready to leap where Hunter is cautious.

I read an article several years ago which stated that children who have been born in the past ten years or so will be of the right ages to possibly be part of the first manned missions to Mars.

This demonstrates the differences in my two boys: Hunter would be the one to design the ship, using his intellect to figure out the mechanics of the voyage and how to keep the astronauts alive.

Blake would be the one to strap himself in and blast like a bat out of hell to another world, probably relaying radio messages to his brother the entire way. "I'm almost there, Bubby!"

I celebrate the differences; I can love them both the same while loving them both very differently.

Blake keeps me on my toes. In the past two years, he has:

1. Ridden his bicycle off the edge of a driveway into an empty firewood bin, leading to a week-long hospital stay due to a lacerated kidney. He loved the hospital. The first thing he wanted to do when he got out was "Ride my bike on Poppa's driveway and get hurt again so I can come back here".

2. Maced himself. Okay, it wasn't really Mace, it was one of those generic "Chemical Crime Deterrent Aerosol" keychains that had lain forgotten in the back of a drawer at my mother's house for about fifteen years. I was relieved when I discovered that he had "only maced himself", because I knew how to take care of that, having borne witness to my father and brother macing each other years before, "Just to see what would happen". Yes, it's in the family; Blake comes by it naturally. And a lesson has stuck with him. He cannot say "pepper spray" without a tone of hushed awe and reverence--"Robbers won't break into Mamaw's house because she has...Pepper Spway".

3. Put a nail through his foot because he "wanted to pick the board up with my shoe and twirl it around like a helicopter".

There are many other things that Blake has done over the years that make me want to call the E.R. to give them a heads up whenever he goes outside.

I've mentioned how Hunter is my hero because he helped me save my dad's life.

Blake is my hero, too; he came along a few months after my dad died, and he helped me heal.

I've been accused before of being overly sentimental about both of my children, but I don't see how that's possible. I have been blessed with two extraordinary kids, and I honestly don't know how I would have made it through the trials of the past six years without them. They truly are my most valuable treasures.

Hunter helped save my dad's life.

Blake? He helped save mine.

You're my hero, too, Pal. Just like Big Bubby.

I love you, Blake.
********************

Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Monday, August 2, 2010

Another Reason to Never Leave The House Again. Ever.

I've been researching spiders.

Why, you ask?

Easy. Because I hate them, and think the nasty, evil little monsters will make perfect nasty, evil little monsters in a story.

I have been able to overcome (for the most part) my revulsion well enough to read about certain species, I've even been able to see pictures (!) with only a slight shudder, and have only occasionally felt the need to brush off my shoulders to get rid of the spiders which may or may not be there.

Then I came across this:


This is the Chilean rose tarantula.

The picture is quite horrific enough by itself. But it got worse when I read that this spider can blind people by shooting hairs into their eyes.

Perhaps you didn't hear me.

This spider can blind people by SHOOTING HAIRS INTO THEIR EYES!!!!!

I didn't...I didn't know they could do that.

I'm not comfortable with this.

I'm immediately filing this in the "One More Thing To Worry About" folder.

The only thing left to say (besides "Get 'em off me! Get 'em off me!!!) is:

"GAH!!!!"
**************

Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: Hunter

Today is a very special installment of Tuesday Treasures. It's a happy coincidence because today is Hunter's birthday.



Hunter is nine years old today.

Since July 27, 2001, everything I've done has been for my kids, first Hunter and now Hunter and Blake.

I've already told you about the night I almost lost both of my kids, so I won't go into that here. If you haven't read it, you can see it HERE.

I love both of my sons equally, but Hunter does have the added distinction of being my first child.

He also did something remarkable before he was even born.

My dad was sick. He had been a heavy smoker for over forty years, worked in a machine shop with various fumes and microscopic metal shavings working their way into his lungs, and there's a possibility that he'd had some exposure to Agent Orange while serving in Viet Nam.

My dad was a wonderful man, but he did have his stubborn streaks. His view was "If I go to the doctor, he's just going to tell me I'm dying anyway, so what's the point?"

Shortly after I found out that I would be a father, I sat down with my dad.

"Dad," I said, "I'm going to be a Dad too, now. I need for you to go and see a doctor, because I won't know what I'm doing. I need you. I need for my son to know his Papaw. I don't want him to only know you from pictures."

My dad did go to his doctor. It turns out that, yes, his condition was serious, but not as bad as he'd been afraid of. He quit smoking, took early retirement from work, and was there the day Hunter was born.

The only time in my life I ever saw my dad cry was when he held Hunter for the first time and said, "When I think about how close I came to never seeing him..."

He went on to enjoy three more years of life, and I think they were among three of the best years of his life. He and Hunter were inseparable, and to this day, Hunter has good memories of his Papaw.

Because of Hunter, I had three more years with my dad than I would have. Because of Hunter, my dad had three more years of life than he would have. Hunter was strong enough, even before he was born, to reach out and save my dad's life.

Hunter is my son.

He is my pride, my joy.

He is also my hero.

Happy birthday, Hunter. I love you.
************************************

Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Good Taste is Relative...

I just wanted to share that Blake has discovered "Dr. Frankenpoo's Strange and Unusual Sugar-Free Sour Strawberry Spray Candy".

This stuff is atrocious.

How do I know?

Because Blake takes great delight in saying, "Daddy, try some of my candy spway...it's not sour, I promise," then cackling like an insane fiend when he sprays it onto my tongue and I make "the nasty face", running around and yelling, "Aaaarrgghhhh...it's in my mouth! It's in my mouth!!!!"

I don't have to fake "the nasty face", because this stuff truly is the most horrible example of spray candy (a concept I'm already leery of) that I have ever had the displeasure of sampling. I think he enjoys torturing me with it because it's so nasty that he certainly won't kill his own taste buds with it, no sir, thank you very much.

Why do I allow this torture to continue?

Because I'm willing to do just about anything I can to make my kids laugh. It's musical and precious to me.

Of course, the fact that he gains so much pleasure by tormenting a fellow human being gives me some concern, but that's something to be tackled in a different post.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go scrub my tongue with a Brillo pad and the harshest tequila I can find so I can get that horrible taste out of my mouth.
*********************************************************************

Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: the League of S.T.E.A.M.

I love the Ghostbusters.

And I love steampunk stories and visuals.

So when I discovered Victorian-era, steam-powered ghost and monster hunters, I was entranced.



The League of S.T.E.A.M. (Supernatural and Troublesome Ectoplasmic Apparition Management) is a California-based performance art troupe that specializes in interactive entertainment.



In addition to bookings and live appearances, they have produced a series of web episodes of their adventures which are popular on YouTube and are also available for viewing on their own site, www.leagueofsteam.com.

In a St. Patrick's Day episode, the League attempts to capture a Leprechaun, with very entertaining results:



I delight in this kind of creativity, and it's very obvious in each episode or image you see that these talented individuals love what they do. The fun that they have comes through in every performance.

When supernatural entities are bothering you, whom shall you telegram?

The League of S.T.E.A.M.
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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pineapple-y Pencils and a Happy Star, Please...

The purpose behind this post is two-fold: first, there is another post up at Second Star, and I hope you'll read it after you're done with this one. The other is to say:

My son Hunter is the greatest.

Late last week, I was in kind of a funk. A bunch of things hit at once, and I felt a bit overwhelmed. I'm sure you know the feeling.

Well Hunter comes up to me with his hands behind his back, and says "Dad, to help cheer you up, I made this for you."

Then he presents me with this:


He made me a pencil holder from a pineapple can.

If you can't read it, the star says "Pencil Holder for the Number 1 Dad--from Hunter".

He transformed my attitude in a matter of seconds.

And he put a uniquely "Hunter" spin on it by saying, "It has a cool secret power, Dad. It makes all of your pencils smell pineapple-y..."

I love this kid.
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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More Second Star

Hey, folks.

Until I build up a larger reader base at Second Star to the Right, I'll post over here to let you know when something new is over there.

*ahem, ahem*

Something new is over there.

Let me know what you think!
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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: Disney Ducks

I grew up with Disney.

Whether it was the films of my youth, such as "The Rescuers", "The Fox and the Hound", or "Escape to Witch Mountain", or those too-few-and-far-between-visits to Disneyland, Disney and its characters helped me populate my childhood with wonder, imagination, and fun.

As much as I loved Mickey, Goofy, and Jake the cat in "The Cat From Outer Space", the cast of characters that I loved the most (a love which I have carried into my adult life) are those wonderful, wonderful ducks.


 


Of course I love Donald Duck. Who doesn't? His uncontrollable temper and ability to turn the most mundane of situations into a gigantic, destruction-filled disaster still reduce me to a quivering mass of unstoppable laughter.

But what I truly love is Duckberg.

The late Carl Barks was a master story-teller and artist, and over the years, his duck stories in Walt Disney's Comics and Stories created a rich tapestry of connected tales and original characters, such as my personal favorite, Scrooge McDuck.



Barks was able to take cartoon ducks and, by paying attention to detail and story, weave tales that were full of cartoon silliness while being more than cartoon silliness (and I'm not knocking cartoon silliness here; I love this stuff).

The animated series "DuckTales" drew heavily from "Barksian" facts and characters.
Magica DeSpell, Flintheart Glomgold, and Gyro Gearloose are just a few of the characters you may remember from this show that made their first appearances in Barks' comics of the fifties and sixties (Lauchpad McQuack wasn't a Barks character, but I love 'im anyway). Though the show was aimed at children, I thoroughly enjoyed it despite the fact that it aired when I was in high school and "too old for that stuff".

Writer/artist Don Rosa (a fellow Louisville native whom I have had the pleasure of meeting a few times) is internationally known for his Disney Duck stories, most notably his 12-part "The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck", which takes nuggets of information and stories laid down by Barks and weaves them into the tapestry of Scrooge's life between 1877 and 1947 (this story is available in a collected edition, and I encourage you to check it out; not only is it just plain fun, but is an example of exceptional story-telling).

Watching the Donald Duck cartoon "Trick or Treat" is a Halloween tradition at my house. "DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of The Lost Lamp" is a movie I can sit down to watch with my children and know that we'll all be entertained. And of course, I'll always have those wonderful comic stories that started it all for me.

I've said it before, but you'll hear this a lot from me:

I love this stuff.
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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Water Wear

Our pool is temporarily shut down for cleaning (when the Swamp Thing comes out of the pool and says he won't be back til it's clean, I listen).

As a temporary replacement, Blake is playing outside with the hose. He's getting wet, and having fun, so it's all good.

Just a moment ago, I took Starbuck out, and Blake was walking around wearing a Wal-Mart bag filled with water as a back-pack.

"Buddy, what are you doing?"

"Just walking around with a bag of water on my back, Dad."

Ah.

Of course.

Why wouldn't he be?

I never know what's going on in his mind, but I'm always sure that it's something good.

No point to this post other than to illustrate the random strangeness and hilarity that I live with every day.
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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Second Star

Just wanted to let you know that my first real post is up at Second Star to the Right.

Since I don't have a big readership over there yet, I thought I'd let you know about it here, and hope you'll check it out.
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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Friday, July 9, 2010

Blog Deux

In order to control more of the known universe (and feed my megalomania), I have created another blog.

Bradley's Brain will continue to be my random-fun-hey-look-at-that-shiny-thing-check-this-out-you-might-find-it-amusing-merciful-zeus-why-can't-Blake-eat-ANYTHING-without-getting-it-all-over-his-face-and-looking-like-the-Joker-type of blog.

But I needed something more focused, a place where I can go to collect my thoughts and ramblings about the craft of writing.

And so was born Second Star to the Right, a place for me to hang my writer's hat (and please, no witticisms about it actually being a dunce's cap. Ok, maybe just a few.).

I hope you'll continue to check in here for the random stuff, as well as Tim's blog, The SF Scrivener, where I'll soon be contributing reviews.

But check out Second Star to the Right, and help me make it a good place for writers and readers.
*********************************************************************

Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Where's Mulder When You Need Him?


Sixty-three years ago today, the United States military issued a press release that it had recovered the wreckage of a "flying disc" from a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico.

The next day, that statement was retracted, and it was claimed that the wreckage was in fact that of a weather balloon.

And for thirty-one years, no one really cared.

In 1978, however, Major Jesse Marcel, who had been involved with the recovery of the wreckage years earlier, said in an interview that he believed that it had in fact been an alien craft, and that the government was actively suppressing the information.

A UFO-enthusiast Mecca was born.

In the years since, many other people claiming to have inside knowledge of the cover-up have come forward bringing countless theories with them:

Aliens (dead and/or alive, depending on which theory you subscribe to) were also recovered from the site.

Reverse engineering of the alien technology recovered has led to every single modern advancement, from microwave ovens to cell phones to cars powered by water (also suppressed by the government, but that's a completely different post;)).

Some believe that what was really recovered that day was the wreckage of top-secret U.S. or Soviet spy technology, and that's why everything is being covered up.

I don't know what happened that day in Roswell. Is there really a cover-up? It's conceivable; we know the government doesn't always play fast and loose with information.

Did something truly important happen that day, did nothing remarkable at all happen, or is the truth some strange amalgamation of the down-to-earth and the way-out-there?

I don't know, and I'm sure I never really will.

And I don't care.

Because the idea of it all is more fun than anything else.

The Roswell UFO Incident has worked its way into popular culture, influencing countless tv shows, movies, books, comics, etc...

Mega-cultural touchstones such as "The X-Files" wouldn't have existed if not for the Roswell Incident's influence.

Each year, Roswell holds a UFO Festival, and thousands of UFO enthusiasts, ranging from multi-degree scientists who are studying the phenomena all the way to that guy with tinfoil on his head descend on the area to meet, greet, discuss and purchase all things alien and UFO-related.

Some people believe with die-hard ferocity that something from another world crashed at Roswell, and that the government is hiding it.

Some people believe that it really was just a weather balloon.

Me? I don't really know which particular camp to place my tent in, but I can sit back and enjoy the entire spectacle with amusement.

No matter where you stand on the issue, July 8, 1947 is a date that certainly made the world a bit more interesting.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my alien neighbor is firing up his microwave, and if I don't put some tinfoil on my head, he'll be able to control my thoughts.
**********************************************************************

Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I've been interviewed!!!

Hey, everyone!

I'm being featured today in an author spotlight over at Brandi's blog, Cursings and Musings!

Please go check it out, and stay for a while to check out some of her past posts. Brandi is an amazing writer, and I think you'll like visiting her world.

After she is published (and I have no doubt that she will be), you can join me in saying, "We've been reading her work all along."
*****************************************************

Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: JibJab

Have you ever wanted to be in a movie?

Or a Weird Al video?

Well, thanks to JibJab, you can.

Here's an example, starring Blake as Luke Skywalker, Hunter as Han Solo, Starbuck (hey, she's the only girl in our family right now) as Princess Leia, and myself as the cooler-than-anyone-with-that-mustache-has-a-right-to-be Lando Calrissian:


To take full advantage of everything JibJab has to offer (e-cards, more movie parodies, etc...), there is a membership cost of $1 per month, but they offer many things like the above Star Wars movie for free.

You can also put yourself into a Weird Al video for a song called "CNR" about the adventures of actor Charles Nelson Reilly.

And, if it's your thing, you can even see yourself and some friends as Chippendale dancers (I considered this, but the mental scarring to any who viewed it would weigh heavily on my conscience).

Check out www.jibjab.com and make yourself famous!
*******************************************************************

Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Fire of a Thousand Suns...

Some things just beg to be shared.

Like this, a pic of my friend Todd at the cookout at his house yesterday.


















Todd is clearly being a responsible adult, by allowing us to tell the children, "Kids, don't ever do anything Todd does.  Ever."

What you miss by only seeing this in a still shot is Todd's voice, wafting from the cloud of smoke enveloping his head:

"Um, Guys?  It's getting a bit hot here..."

Good times...
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Thanks for reading my ranting,

Brad