Monday, July 16, 2018

Quote

"Whether fool or hypocrite, idiot or traitor, he has proved himself equally unworthy of the important functions that had been delegated to him."
—Thomas Paine, 1791

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Yeah, I'm ranking art.

Just getting my brain going.  I saw Ant-Man and the Wasp the other day, and I enjoyed it.

I've marveled (heh heh heh) at the rate with which Marvel puts out enjoyable movies.  Twenty flicks in to this cinematic universe, and I can say I truly enjoy 19...maybe 18... of them.

I re-watched Age of Ultron recently.  And my opinion of it keeps going down.  That whole Black Window speech about being made a monster really gets in my craw.  And I still feel like the whole destruction of Ultron's engine in Slovenia was a missed opportunity for Hulk...have Thor's hammer hurl him all the way to Sakaar rather than having the Quinjet take him there.  (How did the Quinjet get to Sakaar?)

I've ranked Iron Man 3 lower than I have in the past.  Not because it's not good...it really, really is, much to the chagrin of many Marvel Zombies.  But it just seems so out of synch with the rest of the Universe.  And, in truth, it kinda bugs me that the end result of Iron Man 3 is "I'm blowing up all the Iron Man suits, and getting the shrapnel removed" and then Avengers 2 shows up and Tony's EVEN MORE Iron Man.  It does fit with his personality, though, and I dig how his staying Iron Man stays in the background of his and Pepper's relationship, which falls apart, which was the impetus for Civil War....

I enjoy these flicks.  Very much.  More than a 41-year-old man probably should.  Anyway, just getting my brain moving this morning.....

1.  Captain America: the Winter Soldier
2.  Black Panther
3.  Guardians of the Galaxy
4.  Iron Man
5.  The Avengers
6.  Thor: Ragnarok
7.  Captain America: the First Avenger
8.  Spider-Man: Homecoming
9.   Guardians of the Galaxy, volume 2
10.  Avengers: Infinity War
11.   Iron Man 3
12.  Captain America: Civil War
13.  Thor
14.  Ant-Man and the Wasp
15.  Incredible Hulk
16.  Ant-Man
17.  Doctor Strange
18.  Iron Man 2
19.  Avengers: Age of Ultron
20.  Thor: The Dark World

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Lost World: Jurassic Park

I hadn't seen Lost World: Jurassic Park since its release in theaters way back in 1997.

I hated it.

I disliked the book.  Thought it was a weak money grab.

Then I saw the movie.

Last year, I listened to Jurassic Park again.  Helluva fun book.  Turned into a great movie.

Tonight, we thought we'd give it another try.

Like I said, I hadn't seen it in 21 years.

Now, understand this:  I forgive a lot in movies.  I generally just roll with it. 

What a horrible flick.

Just horrible.

From the trailer sequence to the maddening trek across the island.  It gets only worse when they get to San Diego, though the bit with the doghouse hanging out of the Tyrannosaur's mouth hanging by the dog's chain is a bit a genius and even in my aggravation, I had to give a nod of respect to.  That was pretty funny.

Still.  Horrible.

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Friday

I was supposed to be off today.  My boss is on vacation, and we've got an auditor in the area, so I went in.  Just for a couple hours.  Still, aggravating to have to get up at 5:20 on what was supposed to be a day off, even to work for just a couple hours.  I mean, I have to put on pants, you know?

Got off around ten.  Came home.  Decided to go see Ant-Man and the Wasp at the local theater.  

I dug it, though it felt a little busy and didn't really seem to crack any new ground for anybody.  It was competent, but after the home runs that where Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther, and the gigantor roller coaster that was Infinity War, it felt a little humdrum.  Still, it manages to push most of the right buttons.

Afterward, I caught sight of this gentleman, who impressed me by going to Little Caesar's on his riding lawnmower to pick up a couple pizzas...





Friday, July 06, 2018

A Read

My friend Steve has started a New Blog.  His third.

The impetus for the new blog was not a good one.  Steve has been diagnosed with ALS.

I was floored by today's news.

I invite to you read his new site, here.  I think, if ever I've recommended anything, this is more worth your while than any of that.

Steve is my friend.  He's my kind of weird.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The 2018 Reads, so far

Just a quick recount of what I've been reading this year, which is half over.  It seems like a bigger number than usual, but it's really just shorter books, and driving a little more.  A lot of audiobooks on this one this year, so far....

January

Death Without Company       by Craig Johnson

Johnson turns a good phrase.  This is the second Longmire book, and I've got an itch to go ahead and read the third....

Reading Stephen King      edited by Bryan James Freeman

A collection of Essays from Cemetery Dance.  I'd bought an autographed copy in 2017, and later in the year, had bought a grab bag from the specialty publisher, and another copy was included in that grab bag....

The Strain         by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

I did not like this one.  Seems like a few vignettes imagined by del Toro pieced together by Hogan.  Apologies if that's unfair.  This one was a mess.

Lamb:  The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal    by Christopher Moore

I have other favorites by Moore (Lust Lizard, Coyote Blue), but this one likely shows the most heart, and is probably his strongest novel.  I would call this one recommended reading....

Night Shift     by Stephen King

I'd had a New Year's Resolution to try to read a short story a day in 2018.  That fell apart pretty quickly, but I did read through Night Shift in the early part of the year.  Also part of my attempt to read through King's work in roughly chronological order of publication.  Lots of good stuff in Night Shift.

February

Hail to the Chin:  Further Confessions of a B-Movie Actor      by Bruce Campbell, Craig Sanborn

Light reading, but Fun.  Campbell's my kind of weird.

Fire and Fury:  Inside the Trump White House      by Michael Wolff

I didn't include this one in my Facebook list, mainly because I didn't feel like policing shitty comments.  Fact is, it's not a good book.  I agree with much of what was written, but was surprised by very little.  Wolff seems to be looking to build a Brand, which is unfortunate, since it's the prevailing criticism of the grifter sitting in the Oval Office.  I read wishing for a stronger read, perhaps from Bob Woodward....

The Long Walk      by Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman

Continuing my project.  Still one of my favorites.  Bleak as hell.  Though much about this one, as the week I read it, I was working a ridiculous 70-hour week.

The Civil War: A Narrative, volume I: Fort Sumter to Perryville     by Shelby Foote

Good read, even if it adheres a bit too strongly to the "Lost Cause" narrative for the South.

Eileen      by Otessa Moshfegh
..As much as anything I've read this year, this one keeps popping back.  Bleak.  Sad, and funny.  Manages to hide what was a pretty simple curveball quite efficiently in the narrator's narcissism.  Kudos.  Well played.  I'll be looking for more from Ms. Moshfegh

The Man Without a Face: the Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin    by Masha Gessen

I'd been wanting to read this one for a while, as it had popped up recommended on a couple sites, Sheila's among them.  Interesting, frightening read about Putin's taking power.  Something to take notice of, especially this:  you may believe in the demagogue, but the demagogue does not believe in you. 

March

The Left Hand of Darkness    by Ursula K. LeGuin

A re-read, following the death of LeGuin.  I went through a six- or nine-month phase when I was about 20 reading just about everything I could get my hands on by LeGuin, and then maybe a book or two since.  Just a special writer.  And deserving of mention among this country's greatest.

Whale Season    by N.M. Kelby

Goofy fun.  A Christmas gift from my buddy Micah.  Reminds me of early Carl Hiassen, with a mix of Christopher Moore thrown in.....

The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard      by David Goodman

The Kindle lunchtime read.  I wanted something I could put down without feeling too bad about having to leave it when I got called away.  Not bad, even if it stretches a little too often to reach out to some famous stories not specifically involving Picard in the mentioned canon of the show....

The Right Stuff      by Tom Wolfe

Great read.  I'd read maybe all of this over the course of my life, but never from front to back.

Ready Player One     by Ernest Cline

I wanted to re-read (or re-listen, in this case) to in advance of Spielberg's flick this past spring.  Pure dorky escapism.  The criticisms leveled of its being derivative (it's a grail quest, guys), nihilist (yeah, a bit, but that may be why I like it) and sexist (yeah, it is, and there's not a lot of defending it) are valid.  I like it anyway.  To this point, I consider Cline a one-hit-wonder.  His follow up Armada?  That's one you can really hate on....

April

The Hunger      by Alma Katsu

I loved this one.  Amazing period horror piece.  Unfairly compared to Dan Simmons' The Terror.  This one is vastly superior, if only becasue it doesn't slobber over its wordcount.  It manages to keep you off balance, uncertain for the cause of events nicely through most of the book.  It's not often that a book's atmosphere and isolation suck me in so completely.  Well done.

Deadwood    by Pete Dexter

I started this once in December of last year, and because it was the busiest time of the year, I didn't make it far.  I tried again in April, and I dug this one.  Great turns of phrase.

The Dead Zone    by Stephen King

Continuing the project.  This was one of the first King books I went through in the early 1990's, after I initially read The Shining.  I'd forgotten vast chunks of the book, but remembered odd things with startling clarity...the kicking of the dog; the wooden toys; the sawed-off pool cues Stillson's thugs carried in their pockets; the way Stillson's rallies were molded....the last one rang especially true with how Trump's rallies still proceed.....

Dear Committee Members     by  Julie Schumacher

An odd epistolary novel.  It made me smile, though it hasn't popped to mind once since I read it, I'm sorry to say.

The Fairies of Sadieville      by Alex Bledsoe

The last of the Tufa books.  Alex's books have heart, and they write about a South that I know very well, and they do so without a wry smile.  I came to enjoy the sense of community in the Tufa books most, and this one is the strongest of the bunch.  Laugh out loud moment:  a favorite character rants about getting horrible cell service in his own driveway (preach!!!!), but getting five bars at the lip of a magical land.....

Jack-Rabbit Smile     by Joe R. Lansdale

You know, Joe's got my loyalty.  If he hadn't, I'd be back again on the strength of likening a truck collision to heaven blowing a bean fart.  Hap and Leonard back at it.  This one might be some of my favorite Leonard Pine since Savage Season.....

May

The Girl with All the Gifts     by M.R. Carey

A gift from Shyam.  I enjoyed this one, even though I'm feeling very real zombie fatigue.  Surprisingly sweet.

The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels   by Jon Meacham

A Commute listen.  A good read, even if it is Meacham's most mission-oriented book.  A look at the Presidency as the Conscience of our nation.  Focuses largely on the administrations of Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson, with looks at Lincoln, Eisenhower, JFK and Reagan who all had periods where facing down Populism, Fascism and Terrorism, and not always in ways associated with the philosophies of their persons, or political leanings....

Dead Mountain:  The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident  by Donnie Eichar

Another commute listen.  I'd had this one on my periphery for a while.  The old Coast-to-Coast listener in me was familiar with the story, and with a few of the theories.  I was pleased with the theory presented as a cause for the "madness" by the author.

Strange Weather: Four Short Novels  by Joe Hill

Four novellas, presented with something of a Tales from the Crypt vibe.  Fun.  Hill's response to having just published two word-heavy tomes (N0s4A2, which I liked; and The Fireman, which I did not).  He wanted to streamline, keep it lean.  I dug a couple of the stories very much, especially Loaded, which had me leaning into an okeydoke pretty far, and left me swearing at the end....

June

Noir     by Christopher Moore

I've read a lot of Moore, and enjoyed nearly all of it.  This one made me feel very much like the first couple of his I read (Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove and Island of the Sequined Love Nun).  Funny.  Silly, in a time when we need a little silly.

Circe      by Madeline Miller

An extremely well put together book.  I tend to dig stories about people (or immortals, as it were) finding themselves....

Kitchen Confidential:  Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly   by Anthony Bourdain

I'd owned a copy of this for a while, and never read it.  Bourdain passed.  I went through it.  I think my favorite bit is the entire chapter Bourdain devotes to contradicting everything he's said to this point...a literary "so what the fuck do I know?"

Rowdy:  The Roddy Piper Story    by Ariel Teal Toombs and Colt Baird Toombs

A Kindle read, and one I'd been wanting to get to for a while.  Piper's own autobiography, a weird, skitty read that seemed just like a worker wanting to keep working the crowd, was apparently disappointing even to Piper.  In the last years of his life, he'd been compiling notes to do a better job, but was limited by a life lived hard, and perhaps a little bit of head trauma.  His kids put together a fun, infinitely readable tribute.  I dug this one a lot.

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark   by Carl Sagan

I read this one once upon a time, a couple decades ago, borrowing my roommate's copy.  It was interesting then, and gave me a couple things I'd carried with me since then (especially my stance that we, the richest nation in the world, have the ability to spend a literal fortune on every kid in this country in the name of education, but choose instead to spend the money on missiles).  Reading it this time around hit me a little harder, and scared me a little.  Especially since I've spent much of the last 2 decades working with the public, and seen the lack of functional literacy in a great many of our folks, as well as the lack of critical thinking skills and skepticism in even more of our population.  It also disappointed me in myself, a bit, for my own gullibility a handful of times.....

Tales of the Callamo Mountains    by Larry Blamire

This had popped up on somebody's feed.  Short stories.  Bleak.  Isolated.  A wilderness containing more than the wild.  I enjoyed this collection.....



Thursday, June 21, 2018

Three Deaths

I'm not a big believe that things happen in threes, but it still grabs my attention when it seems to happen.

Three small parts of my life passed in the past 24 to 36 hours.

Woke up this morning to find out Koko the Gorilla had passed.  It actually hit me a little hard, and it got dusty in here for a second.  I remember seeing Koko on Mr. Rogers, way back when.  And anytime a news piece would show up, I'd watch.  This segment with Flea always makes me smile.  The bridging of the gap between the animal kingdom and the human world sometimes reveals the childlike best in humanity.



Yesterday, woke up to the news that Leon White, the man they called Big Van Vader, had passed due to complications from congestive heart failure.  Man, that WCW run for Vader in the early 1990's was one of my favorites.  I always appreciated their ability to maintain the man as a monster for an extended run.  And I resented the hell out of Hulk Hogan for just turning him into another big man for him to defeat, when he wandered over to Turnerland.  I wish Vader had hit the WWE in 1993 or 1994, rather than the couple years later that he did.  And I wish we'd gotten a really, really killer Undertaker/Vader feud.  I think it'd have been epic.

Here's a cool match between Vader and Mick Foley, from the WCW Saturday Night era.  I have seen this match, but I don't know if I saw it on a compilation or on the Network (most likely), but it gives me a feeling of nostalgia that makes me wonder if it wasn't one I watched at a friend or relative's house.  We grew up in the woods with no cable or satellite....so any wrestling I saw from pretty much 1988 to 1995 was through a friend who did have cable....



Lastly, it was announced that John Ward passed away last night.  As the voice of the University of Tennessee sports, he was a ubiquitous presence.  When I play announced football games that we played as kids, there would always be the countdown by fives and the announcement: "Give Him Six!"  In fact, I still play that in my head, from time to time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Random Thoughts


  • We're through another holiday.  As holidays go, Memorial Day isn't ridiculous, normally.  This one kicked my ass.  I work today, as well, and when that's done, I'll have worked 12 of the last 13 days.  We were shorthanded, which was part of it.  We've hired a lot of bodies in, which means training.  Which means no days off. since last Monday.  And in the month of May, I've had 4 days off.  I'm tired, folks.
  • Summer holidays are tough, anyway.  When you work with young people, a lot of families take vacations around those summer holidays, and they go on vacation with those young people during that time, too.  It takes a body or two out of your roster.
  • Then you've got those who are older, but somehow think they're entitled to that day off, despite having worked with the company for a while.  Yesterday's was a "stuck jeep."  There were other complaints of ague and ache,  that somehow seemed fine when the person was told they needed to come on in.
  • And then there were real life issues.  A friend whose father was fighting cancer, and who'd had hospice called in, lost that father yesterday.
  • I've been thinking a lot on that.  Dad's been gone about 15 months now.  And there are days here in the past couple of weeks where missing him has hit me like a ton of bricks.  Dad went suddenly.  While I wouldn't turn down the chance to talk with him again, I'm glad he was spared a long period of suffering.  I watched Mom deal with both parents being incapacitated for a long period of time.  It's tough.  Dad and I had a good, honest relationship.  I'm confident we both knew how the other felt when he passed--I don't think there was anything left unsaid.  
  • I guess what I'm trying to say is that some days, I don't think I'm strong enough to watch a loved one die.  Most days, even.
  • Working as much as I have over the past few days means I haven't been able to make it out to the movie theater lately.  I'd really like to see Deadpool 2.  I'm ambivalent about the Solo: a Star Wars story flick, but have heard a couple good things.  I'd also kinda like to see Super Troopers 2, which is currently playing at the cheap theater up in Knoxville.
  • I'm off tomorrow.  Shyam's been working crazy busy, too.  April-July is pretty much nuts for her.  We see each other at night.  We've been living together for a year now.  I'm glad of that, because if we each had our own places, we'd probably not see each other that often.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Random Thoughts


  • I heard the word Fuck today on Good Morning America.  They were playing an excerpt from a Howard Stern interview with Gwyneth Paltrow.  I was delighted, as I am nine-years-old on the inside.  I was also scandalized, as I am also a 62-year-old on the inside.  Welcome to the Duality of Man.  Still, it didn't drive me to insanity.  I don't think.
  • Leaping from one Freedom of Speech moment to another. Making it mandatory to stand during the National Anthem isn't patriotism, folks.  It's authoritarian nationalism, and if you can't see the difference, you deserve to get eaten by a fascist regime.  Trump and his supporters are dangerous.  This is a weird time for the United States.
  • I've got a couple of people I know going through hard stuff.  One had to have hospice called in for his Dad.  Another just found out he has stomach and esophageal cancer.  It's a bummer, and it's been laying heavy on my mind over the past couple of days.
  • Been missing Dad quite a bit this week.  Had a dream the other night where he and I were going to some kind of show.  It had aspects of both a pro wrestling show and a concert.  In the dream, he went off to find his seats, and I spent the rest of the dream trying to find him, waking myself up when I realized he'd passed away.
  • I hate holidays.  And I hate being shorthanded at work.  When I'm Emperor, blah blah blah.
  • I had a meeting yesterday down in Chattanooga.  I got a text before I went that the location had changed from the store it was supposed to be in to the bank next door to that store.  I wandered into the bank, and they looked at me like I'd grown a second head that was spouting racist rhetoric when I asked where I needed to go for the meeting.  Turns out it wasn't a prank, as was my first instinct.  There's another meeting this week that will take place at a bank next to one of our stores.
  • I recently listened to Alma Katsu's The Hunger, which was a helluva read.  I found a hard copy at McKay's yesterday.  It's one of those rare ones that I wanted a hard copy of, after I've listened to it.   If you haven't, it's a creepy-as-hell period piece about the Donner Party.  I loved it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Today's Funny


Trying to get a better attitude about the job.  Trying not to feel somehow screwed over.  We're shorthanded right now, and it feels like every time I turn around, something else is going sideways.  The schedule's been difficult.  Too many nights.  Too many weekends, here lately.  It's not impossible.  It's just tough to enjoy, right now. 



Sunday, April 29, 2018

A Wasted Vacation

The problem working with experienced folks is that over time, they've accrued a shit-ton of vacation time.  Among my boss, my grocery manager and my front end manager and me, there are 27 weeks of vacation to work into the 40-44 weeks out of the year that we're allowed to take them.

I had a week down for the third week, or so, of May.  The Cubs are coming to Atlanta that week, and i wanted to take a couple days to go seem them play live.

Well, a floor strip and a mandatory meeting popped up.  I had a few things going on this past week, so I went ahead and used the week I'd scheduled for May this past week.

Well, I got to do the things I wanted to do:  my buddy Barry's comic show; a WWE house show with my buddy Jeff; watching my nephew play ball yesterday and heading to a picnic/baseball game thrown by my Mom's retirement company at the Lookouts today.

Still, I wanted to get a couple things done this week...get some shelves up in the spare room; do some work in the yard;  maybe get out of town one day.

I guess I did get a few things done, so it's not a total loss.

Gotta go back to work tomorrow.  We'll see how things go....

Monday, April 23, 2018

To Infinity and Beyond


I ran across this photo on Twitter this week, and I've enjoyed it more than I'd have thought.

I like the idea, now, that the Infinity Stones are things we've seen across moviedom over the years.  Perhaps the Maltese Falcon, and Dorothy's Ruby Slippers....the Sankara Stones....the Heart of the Sea....the Baseball Diamond from Great Muppet Caper.

And perhaps it was the gauntlet itself that Vincent Vega was looking at in Marcellus Wallace's briefcase....

Monday, April 09, 2018

Disney and Whatnot

We wandered down to Orlando this week.  We wanted to take Thomas to Walt Disney World while he was young enough to truly appreciate it.  And while we all are young enough to get around.

If we had it to do again, I don't know that we'd pick Easter Week as it's one of the most crowded weeks of the year.  But, we didn't want to try in the summer, owing to that it's so busy for April and Thomas, and it's not a guarantee this year that I could get the week off (as things stand, I may be trying to cram four vacations into a 13 weeks span from Labor Day to the Week after Thanksgiving).

Anyway, here's a few pictures...

The drive down Monday was surprisingly easy.  We had a little slowness in Atlanta, but truly, a little slowness is abut the best you can hope for in that city.  It did rain on us a bit as we got close to Orlando.  The drive in from the Florida Turnpike to I-4 to 535 did take little longer for April, Thomas and their dog Duke, who drove separately.

Duke, after their ride

We had 4-day passes.  We decided to try one park a day.

Day one was a lesson in how to budget time.  The house we rented was just four or five miles from the park.  Getting to the park in the morning, though, was a logjam.  It became a running gag, and a bit of learning from what's become a career in customer service.  4 times out of 5 (at least) the biggest obstacle to quick customer service is the customer.  We probably spent 20 minutes in this logjam.  Our line, when we got in, was 15 cars long.  Our time at the booth to pay for parking was 15 seconds.  Get your crap together folks...you know you gotta pay...have your money or cards out.....

The further lesson in how to budget time was the use of the FastPass, Disney's program that allows you into a fast line for a limited number of rides.  These, we had to schedule in advance.  We chose Haunted Mansion, A Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean, as the Fastpass for Space Mountain were already booked up the Sunday we scheduled things.

The day of, however, we found that we'd put too much time in between our Fast Passes....as Haunted Mansion, Small World and Pirates are all within stones' throws of one another.  The Haunted Mansion and Small World attendants were cool, as they let us in early for our rides.  We ran into a struggle, though, when Pirates of the Caribbean was down for a short time.  We were informed that we could use our fastpass on another ride.  Had we thought about it, we probably should have taken our time to walk across the park, and use that FastPass on Space Mountain.  Instead, we tried for Splash Mountain, which we couldn't because we were 5 minutes before our allotted time, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which also broke down for a short time.  We ended up using that particular Fast Pass on Jungle Cruise, as it was close and we were by then nearing the end of our 1-hour Fastpass Window.


Sam the Eagle is my Spirit Animal

Haunted Mansion is probably my favorite ride in the Magic Kingdom

I don't know, if we had things to do over, if we'd have picked Easter Week.  A lot of families are on vacation, and a lot pick Walt Disney World.  The Magic Kingdom was crowded.  And I know that it's almost always crowded, but we heard one employee (cast members, as they are called) remark that the Tuesday we attended was remarkably well attended (a choice of phrase I pondered for a while, given the nearly Universal upbeat nature of all cast members...I decided that the phrasing was such that it admitted the crowds without sounding like complaint).  We would deal with crowds all four days, but nothing like that Tuesday in the Magic Kingdom.

It can wear on a brother.

Happiest Place on Earth....
Each day, we'd go early, and ride rides and see shows until about 3, when we'd take the 10 minute drive back to the house (the 10-minute ride in the evening was usually a 20-minute ride on the way in...).  There, somehow Thomas would instantly re-energize when he'd remember the house had a pool to swim in.

And swim, we did.  Over the week, probably more than I've swam in three years combined.

Tuesday night, we wandered back over to the Magic Kingdom, with the express mission to ride Space Mountain.  Without FastPass, we had to wait in line a couple of hours.

This had better not end with a horrifying visit by Ric Flair
Space Mountain was probably the first roller coaster I've ridden since we visited Six Flags in college.  I just haven't visited many amusement parks since then.  In fact, now that I think about it, I may have visited Dollywood, just 90 minutes north of me, once or twice, but none others since then.

I'd forgotten something.  You can't wear glasses on Roller Coasters.  At least, I can't.  I forgot this, even after making a mental note to stow my glasses either in my cargo shorts pocket or my sister's bag.  I didn't, though.  After 2 hours of waiting, I spent my 2 minute ride on Space Mountain holding my glasses onto my face.  Disney's Magic Makers took my picture along the ride, and my hand is plastered to my face.

We wandered back to the house, fighting the sea of humanity who'd just finished watching the fireworks and were preparing for the light show at Cinderella's Castle.  I got a little wigged out in the crowd, trying to keep up with a 7-year-old and a 66-year-old....

Wednesday, we hit Epcot.  This was good, but also a small regret.  We spent so much time running in The Magic Kingdom that we never really got to enjoy it.  I've got an itch to go back, using a vacation week in late October or January or February to just take time to look around.  Enjoy how the place is put together, to watch how Disney manages several thousand moving parts in the form of cast members and, well, moving parts to get things done.  The engineering (civil and social) is interesting.  I've digressed a bit, only to say that I wish Thomas (and the rest of us) had gotten more time in The Magic Kingdom.

Anyway, Wednesday.

Epcot's cool.  I didn't want to sound like we didn't enjoy.  It's a great park, though I don't know that Thomas enjoyed as much as we did.  If I go back, I'd like to take a day just to wander around the Countries of the World, have a couple beers and enjoy the day.




The highlight of the day for me was lunch at the Biergarten in the German Pavilion.  Pretty good food, and a pretty good beer list.


We wandered back to the house afterward.  We swam.  We came back to watch the Firework show.  We took it in near the English and Canadian pavilions, where we got another tasty beverage or two.  Learning for me:  my nephew doesn't care for fireworks, which is kinda cool, since they've never really been my bag, either....

Thursday took us to Animal Kingdom

I wasn't sure what to expect.  A few reviews had been less than complimentary of Disney's newest park.   It was probably my favorite day, as it turns out.  The combination of weather and our better strategy when it comes to FastPass made for a lot less stress.  We hit the Dinosaur ride (which was great, though I underestimated its bounciness, and spent a great deal of time holding my glasses, though I was this time able to hold them in my hand, instead of plastering them to my face...), It's Tough to Be a Bug, and took a walk through of the African and Asian animal exhibits.  





We came back that night to wander through the Avatar/Pandora land, and then do the African Safari ride, which was very, very cool.  We had a white rhinoceros walk up to the riding craft.  No pictures turned out....unless you like this one:


Friday took us to Hollywood Studios, and I think it was the day my nephew looked forward to most.  We'd attempted to keep Disney a secret, but he'd figured it out, mostly.  Upon learning that we would indeed be heading for Disney, he wanted to do the Jedi Training.  It was the quickest we'd gotten him up all week.

As soon as we reached the Park, Thomas and April got in line to sign up.  There, Thomas had an encounter with Troopers from the New Order.



The last time I visited Disney was around 1993, not too long after the then Disney/MGM Studios had opened.  Several things had changed in the past 25 years.  Most regrettable was the lack of new foot and handprints at the Chinese Theatre replica.  The latest I could find was 1996.  I don't know why that bugged me.  It just seemed like something you should replace, if you're not gonna keep up with it.

Though I did like the juxtaposition of Bobcat Goldthwait and Audrey Hepburn.


One of my favorite bits at the Hollywood Studios was the Muppet 3-D show, which was still there.  A lot has changed at the park, in advance of the Toy Story and Star Wars areas opening up.  Mom was interested in the Backlot Tour, which was discontinued in the past few months, and I was interested in the Great Movie Ride, which is also a thing of the past.  Luckily, the Muppet 3-D show was still there.



It's a funny, well put together show.  Still one of my favorite things Disney has done with the Muppets since their acquisition.

Outside the Muppet Theater, Thomas and Mom got to meet Chip and Dale:


The day surrounded the Jedi training.  We had to rearrange a lunch reservation to make sure to accommodate it, but that worked out well.  We'd reserved lunch a the replica of the Hollywood Brown Derby, but we'd reserved it late, and we found ourselves hungry again around 11 AM.  We grabbed quick food at the Commissary, where Thomas made a friend in one of the employees.  Her name was Hasmita, and they traded stories about the Animal Kingdom.  Both enjoy the Safari ride.  Thomas drew her a giraffe.  Hasmita drew him an elephant

After lunch, we hit Star Tours, and the Indiana Jones Stunt Show (one of the extras was also visiting from Athens, Tennessee), and then waited for Thomas's time in the Jedi training.

The Jedi Training was a hit.  Thomas bought into the narrative completely.  He's at the perfect age where make-believe is strongest.  Several times during the rides or shows, he would be right there instantly and completely immersed in the narrative.  Suspension of Disbelief is one of his strong points.

The story involves a pair of Jedi, master and an apprentice, training younglings to face their fear at an ancient Jedi Temple.  They face down Darth Vader and Kylo Ren in a choreographed lightsaber battle. 






Several kids were completely overjoyed to be participating, but Thomas was one of three or four who hopped at the chance to face Vader.  He was the first to be chosen.  I tried to take video, but the video camera on the phone had gotten jenky with the number of videos I'd taken.  It did not decide to start recording until Thomas's encounter with Vader was done, and he was being led off stage.

I don't know what else to say about the Jedi Training, except that I think I was as happy to watch Thomas do it as Thomas was to participate.

We wandered back to the house to swim after that.  The only thing we hadn't done that I really wanted to do was ride the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which was being built when we visited last in 1993.

We decided to leave it.  We'll come back in a couple or three years to visit Star Wars Land, and perhaps go over to Universal to do the Harry Potter stuff there.  

Friday, I woke up missing Dad quite badly.  I had been off and on all week, but something hit me hard Friday morning.  I never took the time to take a big family trip with Thomas when Dad was still alive.  I regret that.  He would have enjoyed the trip.  Given the number of dimes I found over the week, though, I kinda think he may have been around.

We drove back to Tennessee.  The trip down took us about 9 hours, with relatively few traffic holdups that day.  The trip back up took us 12.5, with multiple hangups around the Florida Georgia Line, and then again between Macon and Atlanta.

We got back, tired, but all pleased we'd gone.  I don't get to see my family enough.  I'm glad we took this opportunity.

  


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Thoughts and whatnot

I turned 41 yesterday.  I celebrated by working like a Botard.  Not a big deal.  I'm not one for making a big deal out of it.  I did get several nice wishes from folks, so that's gratifying.

Today's the day off.  And the last one until March 2, owing to vacations and whatnot.  At least they're all opening shifts.  I've been doing mostly closing shifts since late summer.  It sucks.  Not only do you not get weekends or holidays off, you also don't get evenings.  Now that we have a fourth MoD (we've been essentially short for about a year), I'd like to see that schedule change a bit.  We haven't been able to do anything regularly since the summer.  And that makes me easily aggravated.

Spending the morning finishing up the Defenders series on Netflix.  Part of it was the move, and not having decent internet until the fall, but I keep noticing how much Iron Fist really took me out of the whole little pocket of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that Netflix has created.  I never finished Iron Fist.  It was bad.  It was boring.  It had little of the humor or action and none of the direction of purpose that the first seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage have.  And while I won't comment on the second season of Daredevil, which turded it up a bit, owing to this constant need to put The Punisher into things.

Defenders itself isn't bad, but it feels bland, compared to the others.  It feels too much like Iron Fist, if you wanna know the truth.  And while I like the Elektra aspect, I felt like it needed a bigger bad.  Maybe I'm just so enfatuated with Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin that I want to see him at every turn.

(A sidebar....during last year's Spider-Man: Homecoming, I was sitting next to a guy who was geeking out for every part of the flick.  During the mid-credits sting scene, you hear somebody offscreen yell to Michael Keaton's Vulture, and this guy next to me jumps for joy  And then out of the corner of my eye, you see him visible deflate.  "I was hoping it was the Kingpin," he says to himself.  I laughed, because that possiblity had occurred to me right about the time that he started getting excited). 

Anyway, Defenders isn't bad.  I just wasn't as excited for it as the other Marvel Netflix offerings.  Punisher is out already, but I'm just not all that interested.  A boring character with no arc that I'm interested in.  If I hear enough positive, I may give it a try down the road, but right now, I'll pass....


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Too many dumb shits

We have too many dumb shits in this country.

We have too much dumb gun love.

We have too much want for profitability in things that should just strive to be solvent.

We don't have enough health care.

We don't have enough mental health resources.

We don't pay cops enough.  We don't give the FBI enough resources.

Sorry, gun folks.  I'm telling you this as a guy who respects your right to bear arms:  if you aren't willing to belly up to the bar to help pay the tab on mental health care, to make sure that the FBI and local authorities (who are also paid like shit) aren't shirking their responsibilities when it comes to a guy who's had the cops called on him times running up into the dozens?  Then we gotta start taking some of the guns off the streets.  We gotta start making them harder to get.  We have to make it harder for dumb shits to get guns.  You don't get to yell about Libtards blaming the gun while yelling about cops coming to his house a few dozen times.

You wanna know why those cops didn't do anything more to stop him?  Because they had other shit to deal with, too.  Because they were tired, perhaps.  Because they weren't trained on how to recognize, perhaps.  Or because they didn't want to have to dive into a river of red tape when it comes to getting somebody proper mental health.  Or any combination of those and any other factors up to and including wanting to go home or having to go take a shit.  I'm just guessing.  But when you're risking your life for a pittance?  You're not gonna catch everything.  Should something more have been done one of those times?  As a person who's had the cops called on me less than once?  Yeah, that's excessive.  Something should have been done.  But it wasn't.  And now we have more dead kids.

Should there be accountability there?  Absolutely.  Roll some heads.  Still, it won't unkill those kids, though.  And won't change the fact that we have underpaid cops and federal agents all over this nation who don't have the correct combination of resources and wherewithal to get all the jobs done every time.

If you're a responsible gun owner?  That's great.  That's just swell.

Not everybody is.  They're not all responsible.  They're not all smart.  And worse, they don't all care.  They don't all respect human life.  Sorry.  We got a lot of bad eggs in this country.  I don't think the ratio is actually any worse than at any other time, in fact, oddly, that ratio may be a little better than average, but I just think we have two things working against us:  first, there's a whole helluva lot more of us in 2018 than there was even 30 years ago, and two, we have an echo chamber interweb that lets the crazies find acceptance and cultivation for their crazy ass ideas that wasn't around at this degree even 20 years ago.

I say all that to say this:  if you're not willing to help educate in that regard?  Shut the fuck up.

And if you are?  And those people aren't willing to sit down for an educational process?  Take their fucking guns away.

And don't come at me with some kind of argument about "well what's an assault rifle, Tommy?" or "any gun can be modified" or "even a chainsaw can kill people" because you're not looking to solve a problem, you're just looking to be the smartest guy in the room.  And on a mostly defunct blog called "Stupid" Tommy, that's just low hanging fruit.  You go back to 2002 and get your own goddamn blogamathing and go be the smartest person there.

Although to that last point, let me say this:  A knife is only going to do so much damage before somebody stops the knifer.  The chances of you coming in and knifing 17 people to death before they either stop you or run away is pretty slim, unless you're pretty fit and/or have a good amount of training.  (Which our guy didn't/wasn't) .  The chances of you killing 17 people with a chainsaw is also pretty slim, because chainsaws are pretty fucking heavy, when it comes to waving it around and trying to kill people, despite what Bruce Campbell has shown us (unless you've seen the classic My Name is Bruce, in which even he admits Chainsaws are heavy).

I'm tired.  I'm tired of people hollering about "liberals" do this and "conservatives" do this.  If that's your first, second all the way up to the fourteenth response to this endless cycle of calamity we find ourselves in?  Shut The Fuck Up.  Write your little opinion down on a piece of paper, roll it up really tight, and jam it into your nose until it won't come out.  If you look in a mirror and see a little piece of paper hanging out, you better just push a little farther.

Liberals aren't the bad guy.  Conservatives aren't the bad guy.  Get out of that lizard fight or flight reflex mindset.  Quit trying to turn your neighbor into the bad guy in your own little self-agrandizing superhero drama.

I'm tired.  I don't have an answer.  We need better health care.  We need stricter gun laws.

I don't have time to fix it because I'm working 60 hours a week.

Congress won't fix it.  Hell, somebody came and shot up a Congressional baseball practice last year, and they aren't in any hurry to fix things.  This shooting was hundreds of miles away, and if you turn off your TeeVee?  You don't have to hear about it!

The bottom line is this:  I'm worried.  I'm a 40-year-old middle aged man.  And this shit worries me.  I'm worried that some dumb shit teenager is going to walk into a school where my sister teaches and shoot the place up.  I'm worried that some old disgruntled piece of shit is going to walk into the Senior Center where my friend works and where my Mom does Tai Chi and shoot the place up because somebody turned off Fox News.  I'm worried that somebody will walk into my nephew's school, and shoot a bunch of kids because the cops made them come turn their music down.  I'm worried that somebody will walk into my store, perhaps an employee that I've disgruntled (and here's the rub....I'm in the business of disgruntling teenagers, lately) will decide to shoot my fat ass and the fat asses of everybody there.

So, I dunno.  What's the pragmatic answer?  Learn to run?  Because I'm a decent shot, but I've never been in a firefight.  I've never shot at a person, and I've certainly never been shot at.  So run?  Duck?  I probably need to shed several dozen pounds off my fat ass just to decrease my target?

I guess the last thing I'll say is this, and I echo my friend Sheila:   If I'm ever shot to death, please politicize the hell out of it.  I will not care. In fact, I'd prefer to you to shout it from far and wide that the person who shot me to death probably didn't need the gun he was carrying.