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.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Vacation

Wandered out to Fall Creek Falls for a few days.  Got a cabin over the water.  Ended up with pretty decent weather...highs in the fifties and sixties.  Was nice, even if it did rain a bit.  All the better...Shyam and I between work and illness have been wandering withing spitting distance of exhaustion since Thanksgiving.  I think we both put 10 hours of the big sleep board between nights and naps in a day...

A couple pictures: 

Frog Eggs we found a a damp ditch.  Gift card added for scale.  They were jiggly....

Mongo and Shyam.

Sunrise, on a Windy Morning



Sunday, January 28, 2018

Challenger


32 years.

It was a snow day.  Mom had taken me to my sister's babysitter for the day.  One of those moments I'll always know where I was.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Thoughts from the Ass End of the Night, Chapter 313, Verse 4

Insomnia night.  The first in at least 6 days.

Two people died this week.  Well, more than two.  It's a big old world with a lot of people.

But two people important to me.

My Aunt Annette passed this past weekend.  Here's her obituary.  I hadn't made all the efforts I probably should have to have gone and seen her the past few years.  Her health had been in decline for a while.  She was a smart, sarcastic woman.  She loved to read.  It was her who introduced me to Harlan Ellison, I do believe.  She read my writing, and encouraged it.  She was a fan of this blog, such as it is, anymore.  I won't get the chance to go visit with her, anymore.  Make the time, folks, because people disappear.

My friend Marty passed a few days later.  His obituary hasn't been posted yet, beyond a blurb from the funeral home.  There might not be much more.  He didn't want a service, beyond being cremated and taken up to the bar one last time.  Marty and I worked together for about five years.  He was a funny guy.  He'd been fighting cancer for a while.  He'd been out from work since September.  He'd been back and forth among the hospital, an assisted living facility and home several times since he took leave.  I still have a book for him on the Cubs that I'd picked up for him for Christmas, and hoped to give to him when he or his son stopped in.

Aunt Annette's funeral is later today.  I can't sleep.  I suppose I'll try here in a bit to lie back down, but will go over to Mom's so we can head up to Bristol at 8.

Marty's makeshift service, a trip to the bar one last time, will be Saturday.  Don't know if I'll make that one.  I'm going to try, but it would take somebody covering for me at work, and don't know if that's going to be able to happen.  Marty, a career retail guy, would probably appreciate the irony.

Work's been tough.  We've been covering for Marty since September.  Since before September, really, with his getting treatment for his cancer.  With his being out, though, most of my shifts have gotten moved to closing.  I'll go in at 1 or 2, and I'll usually get out around 11:30. 

It's made life a little more difficult, lately.  Some days, I feel like I get to see Shyam for a half hour, in the fifteen minutes before she goes to work in the morning, and in the fifteen minutes when I get home...midnight's past her bedtime, most nights.

It's made going to see Mom, or go down to see April or Thomas, or trying to get together with friends difficult.  Almost impossible, some weeks.

Add to that, we're short on help.  I've hired two new folks in the past couple of weeks.  One never showed up for his first day.  The other has called out for his two shifts after the first day. 

I've got more interviews scheduled for later in the week.  We need a couple or three dependable bodies.

The lack of help leads to my next problem at work:  I can't get weekends off here lately.  We don't have enough bodies to stock the deliveries we get, so we have to schedule the grocery manager there during the week.  He's hourly, so he can only work 40.  He'll use up the largest part of his hours working truck, which doesn't leave much time for weekends.

I dunno.  I'm tired.  I'm frustrated.

And it's all that much more aggravating on nights like tonight, when I can't sleep.

Monday, January 08, 2018

The Short Reads project, week 1

The project I gave myself for 2018, at the turn of the year, was to read a short story a day for every day of the year.  This was amended on the sixth day of the year to include short nonfiction, essays and whatnot.  The intent of this was to spend less time scrolling through Twitter and Facebook on my lunch breaks.  I've been working mostly nights, lately, and my lunch break is generally spent in the office, since the rule seems to be the further I get from the store's front end, the more likely it will be that I'm called back to the front.  So, instead of scrolling endlessly through Facespace, I'll just find something to read.

So far, I'm pretty thankful for the Kindle app, as well as Americanliterature.com which has a lot of public domain stuff.....

The loose rules: 
  • No reading the same author two times in a row, or three times in the same rolling week.
  • No reading from the same anthology two times in a row, or three times in the same rolling week
  • Short stories may come from any source, published, unpublished, online or not.
  • Nonfiction must come from a published source.  (A dubious rule, but in my head, it means vetted by another person, and not something simply that pops up on a blog somewhere....)
Here's what I read in the first week:

January 1      "Night Surf"       Stephen King
January 2      "A Rose for Emily"        William Faulkner
January 3      "Ching Witch!"      Ross Rocklynne
January 4      "I am the Doorway"      Stephen King
January 5      "Bivouac of the Dead"     Ambrose Bierce
January 6     "Twins and Twinning in Stephen King's Dark Tower Novels"   Robin Furth
January 7      "A Lost Masterpiece"         A.A. Milne

Monday, January 01, 2018

Disjointed Thoughts, and the Reads of 2017

Disjointed thoughts on the closing of the year, including what I've read.

2017 finished itself up last night.  We rounded it out playing Cards Against Humanity with friends, and wandering home to watch the ball drop (a statement possibly true on multiple levels, considering it's been wandering down toward single digits at night).  It was actually the first New Year I stayed up to watch in a few years--it's also the first New Years Day I haven't had to open the store in many years. 

2017 was a tough one, and it impacted reading in odd ways.  Dad passing in the Spring, multiple illnesses among co-workers at work, and a handful of other deaths in families led to perhaps the least amount of continuous spare time I've had in a year.  Still, it led to a lot of escape reading.  

Dad's passing also led to a project that'll take a few years, as I started reading through Stephen King's work.  He was a writer we both enjoyed, and talked about.  We didn't talk about books often, but King often came up.  I'm a few books in on that project.

2017 was a lot of work.  In short, I've been working like a Botard for years, but the Botardism was rampant in 2017.  The Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons were rough.  Most of my reading was left to the audiobooks I listen to on the way to and from work in the last quarter of the year....

Still, there was a lot of reading overall in 2017. More than any of the past few years.  I finished a move in with Shyam during the late spring and summer, and we spent a decent amount of time without decent internet or TeeVee.  So, I spent a lot more of that spare time reading.  

This list doesn't include a crazy amount of comics I've been reading.  I think there will be a separate post on that....

Anyway, here's a listing of the books and audiobooks I wandered through in 2017:

January

Shardik          Richard Adams
Post Office           Charles Bukowski
TV: the Book        Alan Sepinwall & Matt Zoller Seitz

February

TheYard            Alex Grecian
The Lost Sun          Tessa Gratton
The Immortal Irishman       Timothy Egan
Norse Mythology            Neil Gaiman
Gather Her Round          Alex Bledsoe

March

The Yiddish Policemen's Union            Michael Chabon
Fever Dream              Samanta Schweblin
The Dragon Factory           Jonathan Maberry
Carrie                   Stephen King
Masters of Atlantis             Charles Portis

April

Rusty Puppy              Joe R. Lansdale
The Cubs Way             Tom Verducci
The BFG                      Roald Dahl
Moby Dick                 Herman Melville

May

The Dreams of Cardinal Vittorini             Reggie Oliver
Station Eleven                 Emily St. John Mandel
Stay Crazy                    Erika Satifka
Anansi Boys                Neil Gaiman

June

Bird Box            Josh Malerman
Ghost Road Blues                Jonathan Maberry
Brimstone                Cherie Priest
All Quiet on the Western Front              Erich Maria Remarque
Hillbilly Elegy                  J.D. Vance
Gwendy's Button Box            Stephen King and Richard Chizmar
Double Wonderful             John Swartzwelder
Bunker Hill                Nathaniel Philbrick

July

Salem's Lot               Stephen King
Dark Cities                 Christopher Golden, editor
The Great Terror: a Reassessment        Robert Conquest
Touch                         Courtney Mamm
Inherent Vice               Thomas Pynchon
Opening Wednesday at a Theater or Drive-In Near Year: The Shadow Cinema of the American
'70's                                 Charles Taylor

August

The Time Machine Did It             John Swartzwelder
Silence                              Shusaku Endo
Redshirts                          John Scalzi
Meddling Kids                  Edgar Cantero
The Shining                       Stephen King
Rage                                 Stephen King  (writing as Richard Bachman)

September

Ty Cobb:  A Terrible Beauty              Charles Leerhsen
An Unattractive Vampire                   Jim McDoniel
The Vine that Ate the South                J.D. Wilkes
King's Mountain                                 Hank Messick
The Fifty Foot Detective                     John Swartzwelder
The 13 1/2 Lives of Capt. Bluebear          Walter Moers

October

Busting 'em                                  Ty Cobb
Sleeping Beauties                     Stephen King & Owen King
Jurassic Park                                Michael Crichton
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid              Bill Bryson

November

The End of the World Running Club                Adrian J. Walker
Slobberknocker: My Life in Wrestling              Jim Ross, with Paul O'Brien
The Trespasser                                                 Tana French
The Forensic Records Society                          Magnus Mills

December

The Stand                                         Stephen King
Absurdistan                                     Gery Shteyngart
Star Wars: the Last Command                 Timothy Zahn

A few notes:


  • John Swartzwelder's little self-published novellas were my favorite find of the year.  I've ended up buying a whole set, and sent a few around to a few folks I figured could use a laugh.  They're just silly, and just the right length to read in a sitting or two.
  • I reread the Stand in the late part of the year, on my Kindle.  I've probably re-read it more than any other book. 
  • Meddling Kids was a pleasant surprise.  I didn't want to like it as much as I did.  It's goofy, but has an odd heart.
  • Forensic Records Society was interesting fun.  I'll be looking for more Mills.
  • Leerhsen's biography of Ty Cobb was amazingly good.  Also, Cobb didn't get to go spray fire on the Germans, and it was probably the most laugh-out-loud line from anything I read this year.
  • Other Favorites:  Alex Bledsoe's Gather Her Round, Joe Lansdale's Rusty Puppy, Cherie Priest's Brimstone, Timothy Egan's The Immortal Irishman, Jim McDoniel's the Unattractive Vampire.
  • The two that provoked the most thought:  Endo's Silence, which I end up thinking about once a day or so.  And The Vine that Ate the South, by J.D. Wilkes, is this beautifully grotesque oddity.  It's probably my favorite single thing I read this year....




























Sunday, December 17, 2017

Random Thoughts

Day off.  I'm working too much.  I'm working too many nights.  I'm tired of going home exhausted, and feeling like I haven't accomplished a thing.  This feeling comes every holiday season, so maybe it'll pass.  I'm tired of dreading the holidays, though. 

With dad's death, I'm really not feeling it.  I miss him.  Very much.

I find myself envious of my teacher friends who have a couple weeks off.  Makes me wish I'd finished my attempt at going back to school.  Kicking myself over that one. 

Had an odd thought regarding Christmas last night.  Outside of family or church events, I can't recall ever having gone to a Christmas party.  There have been work events, but they're at work, and I don't go unless I'm already going to work, so I don't count them.  I may be wrong, and completely misremembering something.  But I don't think I've ever been to a Christmas party with friends.

Going to see the new Star Wars flick today.  I've managed to avoid spoilers as much as I could.  It means staying off social media, for the most part.  I've come to think of that as The Lost Rule.  In that I couldn't go on Facebook or Twitter the night Lost was on, if I was working, because people can't help themselves...






Thursday, November 16, 2017

Oddity

I haven't bern sleeping well, lately.  I'm blaming my shifting work schedule, which has me closing the store and working until 11:15 or 11:30 at night three or four nights a week, but also opening the store at 6:45 a day or two a week.  It's pretty regular that there's gonna be a night or two where I'm going to get four or five hours under the best of circumstances.

I closed Tuesday night, and was off Wednesday.  I had trouble sleeping that night, but was able to get a little back since I didn't have too much to do. 

Tonight?

But there's a bit of an oddity tonight.  Easily explained, but giving me the willies nonetheless.

I still have Dad's contact info in my phone.  We've given up that phone number.  We did that back in the summer.  I feel like his number's since been reassigned.  While helping Shyam find her phone last night, I dialed it so it would ring.  After she found it, I must have brushed my finger up against Dad's contact tile, since I still have it in my speed dial.  This was at roughly 10 PM last night.

I got a phone call at 3:37 AM this morning from Dad's phone number.  I answer, but the caller hangs up.

Like I said, a hypothesis other than my Dad calling from the other side is pretty easy to come up with.  I called that person accidentally, and hung up, possibly after they'd gone to bed.  Perhaps they're an early riser who decided a little payback was in order.

Still.  It weirded me out enough that it kept me up.  I read a bit, and decided to blogamathing about it.

This is a tough time of year at work.  Kinda stressful, with bodies being out.  Having weirdness abound isn't my cup of tea, right about now.

Monday, November 13, 2017

XV

Fifteen years ago, I started this blogamathing.  I don't post here nearly as often, but I occasionally pop an odd thought or two.  I am still amazed by the people it's introduced me to, and the friendships it's helped me forge.  I am thankful for the laughs, for the thoughts.

It's been a tough year.  Lots of adjustments.  Dad passed back in the Spring, and that's still a rocky road.  He was one of the blog's biggest fans.  Many of the jokes that showed up here were ones he passed along.  He was a funny guy, and he was one of the people I looked to make laugh, from time to time, with what I wrote here.

Shyam and I moved in together.  That's been relatively easy, though having lived by myself for more than a decade has made me have to adjust certain routines (farting) and habits (more farting).  It's been an internet adjustment, as we went a good part of the year without anything but what internet our mobile phone providers gave.  What we have now is still not great, but it's better than what we had. Hoping the effort at bringing high speed to the rural areas via Volunteer Electric bears fruit some day.  (We're not all that rural, by the way.  We're two telephone poles away from being able to have Comcast.)

Still, I get to live with these goofballs, and I've enjoyed that..




I continue to work like a botard.  We've been short a couple key people at work this fall.  (Fuck cancer, by the way).  Finding two days off in a row is a rarity, here lately.  And being a manager short means picking up more closing shifts, which leaves me punchier than normal, since I also end up with a couple opening shifts.  I'm 40, now, and I can't afford to be losing any beauty sleep, folks.

Still.  We find time to do stuff.

Came in seventh in a Chattanooga City Trivia contest yesterday.  Probably could have done better, but talked ourselves out of a couple answers, and didn't bet enough on the final question.  Still, we crapped the bed at our last City Finals, so we're happy to have played well, even being short a body or two....


Well, now you're up to date on the news from Lake Wobegon, my home town.  Thanks for continuing to read, folks.  I'll keep posting here, from time to time.



Thursday, November 09, 2017

Victory?

I think I finally found that thing to knock the theme song from WKRP in Cincinnati out of my head.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Random Thoughts

First day off after a stretch where I worked 31 hours in a 51 hour period.  Don't ever go salaried in retail, folks.  We've got a couple of key component folks out sick.  We could cover it if one were sick.  Both is a stretch.  While you can make the argument that perhaps, as a company, there should be a body or two floating around to help in such situations, in a publicly traded company, stockholders don't like paying for possibilities.

I'm worn out.  And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about how the next couple of months, traditionally the busiest and most difficult of the year, are going to go.  We could get one or both people back soon.  We could also get them both back after the first of the year.  Hooray

----

The Knoxville Ice Bears have their regular season Home Opener tonight.  Shyam and I gonna head up.  The Ice Bears have a new coach, Jeff Carr.  Excited to see a new look for the team.  The SPHL has been moving away from the Enforcer-heavy style that's been the norm for the league since its inception.  The league's everything but publicly stated goal is to eventually become part of the official feeder system to the NHL.  There's been a change in stance on fighting, including longer penalties and suspensions for instigation, the goal being making the league a more palatable place for NHL clubs to send prospects.

The Ice Bears seemed behind that curve, especially last year.  I'm not generally a "Fire the Coach" guy, especially the unaffiliated minors, but Mike Craigen seemed unable or unwilling to adjust.  The product on ice last year was one that was slower than other clubs, and one that seemed lacking in fundamentals. 

Interested to see if Carr brings a more interesting product to the ice.

----

I re-read Jurassic Park this week.  Read and listened.  It popped up for cheap on the Kindle a few weeks back, and then they said you could add the Audible version for cheap as well.  Blew through it in just a couple or three days.  Still a lot of fun.  I'd give the book an 8 or a 9 out of 10.  Just a great romp.

And, as great as it is, I think I still like the movie better, which is something of an accomplishment.  The movie manages to streamline the story a bit.  It manages to merge a couple characters that really are redundant, and it gives Ellie Sattler more to do, making sure the story isn't much of a White Male Fest.  It also manages to give dimension to Ian Malcolm, whose philosophy in the book grows tiresome, for me, even if I tend to agree with much of what he says.  I tended to append any statement he made with a stoner "Maaann...."

Still, the movie did cut out a couple of the best sequences from Crichton's book....the raft and aviary scenes where Grant and the kids are trying to get back to the compound are some of the book's tensest moments.  I was always glad to see Jurassic Park III finally bring the aviary scene to fruition.

Re-reading this one has gotten me curious about re-reading The Lost World, and perhaps watching the movie again--a flick I disliked enough that I haven't watched it since its release a couple decades ago.  The book had a handful of pretty intense scenes, even if the resurrection of Ian Malcolm felt pretty cheap at the time....

----

I'm also about to finish Bill Bryson's Life and times of the Thunderbolt Kid.  Troy sent that one to me, and I'm enjoying the hell out of it....

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

VHS! VHS! VHS!

Somebody's VHS collection ended up at the Goodwill the other day.  And in 1997, their collection was On Point.  Some good stuff there.  A real film buff.  I wander in there once every week or three to look at books and movies and such, hoping to find something like this.  I think I actually gasped aloud.


I think I owed it to 1997 me to buy that copy of Meet the Feebles.  I was in the midst of a mini-tour of Peter Jackson's stuff, after having watched Heavenly Creatures in a film class.  I knew I'd dug The Frighteners (which my roommate had seen in the theater, but I had not until it popped up at Videoculture).  I'd watched Dead Alive and Bad Taste.  I'd run across people talking about Meet the Feebles, but had never even laid eyes on it.

Videoculture was a minor haven in college.  Lots of good stuff.  Not just porno, though there was that.  A good little video store, staffed with a couple of true film geeks.  It was a fun place.  I've spoken about it before, and when I did I was pointed in the direction of the Videoculture Store on Amazon.  The former owner still owned a bit of the stock, and was selling it there.  I bought a copy of a Leningrad Cowboys tape that I'd rented from them.

I've digressed.

Anyway, in the midst of that Peter Jackson frenzy, I was heading to Videoculture three or four days a week to see if Meet the Feebles was in.  It wasn't.  Until it was.

I watched it.  I liked it, but not in a way that I becoming a frothing maniac about it.  I think I've watched it once since then.

But, I did gasp when I found it at the Goodwill Monday. 

I do have a VCR, but I'm not sure if it works.  I'd have to give it a test toast before I decide to try my 49 cent copy of Meet the Feebles.

Also pictured:  Enemy Mine, another flick in the vein of Hell in the Pacific or Red Sun.  Fun flick.  I like the movie, and the cover.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Internet?

I might have decent internet again.

We'll see.

Update:  Yeah.  I've got internet.  It's not too quick.  May not be able to stream too much.  But it'll do for what ails us....