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,


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,


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.

Thanks for reading my ranting,


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.

Thanks for reading my ranting,


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!
Thanks for reading my ranting,


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.

Thanks for reading my ranting,


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."


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.

Thanks for reading my ranting,


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.

Thanks for reading my ranting,


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,


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,


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,


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,


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...
Thanks for reading my ranting,


Sunday, July 4, 2010

And she doesn't look a day over 233...

Happy Independence Day!

First, the funny:

234 years ago today, the United States of America was born when a group of rebels declared independence from England.

The Simpsons are funny, and humor is part of everything I do, but today is a serious day, as well.

I'm a history geek, and colonial/revolutionary-era American history has always been a subject of fascination with me. Studying this part of the past has helped me have a greater understanding of what it is to be free today.

The people that lived on this continent hundreds of years ago were just like we are today. They lived, worked, dreamed, and died.

They didn't want to live, work, dream and die under the rule of an absent king, seated on another continent.

So they did something about it.

It's become almost cliche, but the truth is that freedom isn't free.

Our freedom was secured by men and women who were willing to put their lives on the line. Christi Corbett, in her post "56 Men", helps put a human perspective on those who were willing to pay any price to breathe free.

Maintaining that freedom has not been cheap. Millions of Americans, including my father, have fought to keep freedom alive. Though my father came home, many didn't.
Emily White has a post on her blog that helps remind us of the continuing cost of freedom.

Is America perfect?


But we are free to be imperfect.

While you're enjoying the cookouts, family gatherings, and fireworks today, remember what it has taken for us to get here. We can't afford to take freedom for granted.

The men and women who have fought and died to purchase and maintain our freedom did so for a purpose.

What will you do with your freedom?

Thanks for reading my ranting,


Saturday, July 3, 2010

When was the last time you 8 something?

Hello, friends.

This is just a quick post to encourage you to visit Janice Hardy's blog, The Other Side of the Story, and enter her contest to win a copy of the new book, Eight Against Reality, a collection which contains one of her short stories.

The short story is an art form (many of today's best-selling authors cut their teeth practicing this art), which needs to be supported that it may continue to thrive.

I'm entering, and I hope you will, too.

If I don't win, I'm going to buy it anyway, not only to help keep short story anthologies alive, but quite simply because I can't wait to read it.

Writers and readers, let's go support this book, so that we can have more like it in the future.

As always, thanks for reading my ranting,