Saturday, July 29, 2006

What's on the iPod? - Kinkytoons!

Kinkytoons have been available on (the next Texas Govornor!) Kinky Friedman's website for a while now, but it's nice to have them available for the iPod through iTunes.

Now they can be viewed anywhere and shared with friends.

Although they're devoted mainly to what was the uphill battle to get on the ballot as an independent, they're still a blast. Now that the Kinkster is on the ballot and making Gov. Rick Perry sweat about a debate, they still have plenty of irreverent humor and pithy political points.

Check out "10 Things that are Easier to Do Than Run For Texas Governor" and "I Looove Texas" and visit the Kinky website for a third.

The campaign rolls on
I've been watching the Kinkster's campaign as it's developed, and I'm proud to say I went out to sign his petition to get on the ballot when it passed through my town.

There was a time I would have said an independent candidate was a vote in the wrong direction, but the Ten Reasons To Elect Kinky Friedman Governor Of Texas(.pdf format) makes some excellent points, No. 8 being "The Two Party System is Broken" and 1o. It's time to declare independence from politics as usual."

Somehow Kinky's points about special interest groups and the like resonate much like a passage from Jon Stewart's political work:

From America: The Book:

“This model of direct elections by the people for representatives of a lawmaking body to be overseen by corporate lobbyists with obscene amounts of cash has proven so efficient that 96 percent of Congressmen are reelected. Clearly the system is working. Why else would the same officials be elected over and over and over again? Voter apathy? Entrenchment born of a corrupt system designed to ensure those in power stay in power? Tell it to Castro, Paco.”

NPR recently reported on a study that Stewart's The Daily Show is getting young people engaged in the political system.

Are we moving into an era where pop culture impacts an entrenched and corrupt system?

The cynic in me says nah. The optimist says maybe.

Get your Kinky toons and look for the Kinky action figure press conference on iTunes too. It has my favorite Kinky one-liner: "I can't screw it up any worse than it already is!."

More Kinky audio and video

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Ray Bradbury The October Game - major spoiler

Read my interview with Ray Bradbury

Really, don't read this if you plan to read the short story "The October Game" by Ray Bradbury and you don't want the surprise spoiled.

It's a really good story and I mentioned it here a while back, so I get hits from Google for "October Game Meaning Of" and stuff like that.

Since you land on the band The October Game if you do the "I'm Feeling Lucky" search in your Goo Diligence, and you otherwise get a lot of hits about degrees of success of various sports teams in the month of October, apparently there's not a definitive critical analysis of the Bradbury story out there online. (Not that this is going to be, but I do what I can.)

Cosmic Ray
Many people think of Cosmic Ray as a science fiction writer, and he did his share of Martian tales and things from outer space, but in the pulp days especially--and if you watched The Ray Bradbury Theater you know this--he penned his share of tales of terror.

"The October Game" is copyrighted 1950 in the collection I own (Gooseflesh pictured with my other favorite old time horror collection above.), although Wikipedia lists it as 1948. At any rate, the story is a masterpiece of suggested horror. It evokes literally visceral imagery without stating it and leaves a chilling, unsettling after effect. For many readers--me, me I'm one of those--remember it for years.

"Revenge is the best way of gittin' even." -- Archie Bunker
It's a tale of revenge, a horror achieved without graveyards or magic and with ghosts and witches only in costume or imagination.

It's Halloween, you see, and the bow-tied and cufflink wearing protagonist, Mich Wilder, I think, is contemplating a way to hurt his wife, Louise, as the tale opens. He rules out murder because he's seeking revenge with "duration." Killing her won't hurt her enough.

Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way
We get the impression this is a middle class family. Bradbury tells us they live in a "warm two-story house," but, relations are frigid and, by the way, Mich wanted a boy. The couple has an eight-year-old daughter, Marion, and a big Halloween party is planned. Louise has showered her affections on Marion since her birth.

A.B.C. - Marion loves the daughter very much, Mich has a bad case of cabin fever and an eight-year case of a male post partum depression.

As the party planning goes on, Mich's sense of being trapped in his existence unfolds. There's mention of failed business ventures and we are told October means winter is coming and he just can't face another Northern one.

So eventually everyone shows up for the party, and "the husband" decides to take everyone to the cellar which he proclaims "The Tomb of the Witch."

The real October game
That's where the impromptu game begins. It's one played in the dark. Traditionally grapes are passed around and the kids are told they're feeling the dead witch's eyes.

Then they get a bowl of spaghetti and that's described as "the witch's innards" and so on.

Here's where the spoiler comes in -- don't read on unless you've read the story or just don't care --

Bradbury has established the shoddy emotional state of the Wilders, the depression of the husband, the desire to produce a lasting hurt of Louise who adores their daughter. The tale is a brief portrait of a very dark domestic situation.

I really mean it - spoiler, close your eyes now...

Dude, those weren't grapes and spaghetti!

Order books by Ray Bradbury.

My interview with Ray Bradbury.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

An Education in Civics

No matter what your sympathies or political affiliation, watching a bill wend it's way through Congress and the hands of those who wield power is educational. Especially seeing who they wield power for. If you don't follow CSPAN regularly you just don't pick these things up.

Sometimes you don't realize how asleep at the wheel you are about your country:

Thoroughbred Times: Horse Slaughter Bill Discharged From House Energy and Commerce Committee

The Washington Times: Stop Horsing Around

If they're this sneaky about horses...

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What's on the iPod? Aquaman!

OK, it's probably a sign that I'm too easily amused--see my previous post, the uh, one with the dictionary--but I always get excited when new shows turn up on iTunes.

Warner Bros. shows were added yesterday including The Jetsons, The Flintsones and Babylon 5, although it's the season with the commander I didn't like.

I like finding things that might otherwise not have seen the light of day, though. That's why I popped for the Aquaman pilot.

Oh yeah, there's an Aquaman pilot
The potential Smallville spinoff was previously just past the edge of my peripheral vision, but I was pleasantly surprised when I watched.

It made a half-hour on an exercise bike set to a cardio cycle feel about like a half hour, but it was an exciting tale.

Revisionist history
It should be noted for future generations that the show's not how it really happened. (That's my old Aquaman action figure from Mego to illustrate how the A-man really looks, except when he has long hair and the metal hook for a hand.)

In this version Aquaman doesn't have green pants. Those were pants weren't they? His shirt always looked kind of scaley.

He's touched by the sea as a youth when he and his mom are lost in the Bermuda Triangle and thus he becomes a troubled older youth with phenomenal swimming abilities.

Lou Diamond Phillips is his costguardsman father, who'd be happy if he'd just take the civil service exam and settle down.

Aquaman has other things on his mind like clashing with federal agents and meeting other sea worthy folks and Ving Rhames who has more to reveal about his past.

It's kind of a shame the show didn't make it upstream.

Read more about it at Aquaman TV.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Look up Idiot in the Dictionary

I ran across the image generator that creates these dictionary definitions with your picture on this blog.

So, I've heard the crack enough times, right?

I keep thinking of the great exchange between Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang:

Perry: Look up idiot in the dictionary. You know what you'll find?

Harry: A picture of me?

Perry: No! The definition of idiot. Which you fucking are!

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Dropping My Question

I posted a question at Dropping Knowledge, the website devoted to the "Table of Free Voices."

Mine's nothing profound, but the site's concept is enthusiastic and refreshing and it felt good to get a little involved.

In spirt at least it seems to transcend liberal and conservative, Democrat, Republican, neocon and next week's buzzword.

It kind of reminds me of this quote from Unitarian minister James Freeman Clarke:

“A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation.”

What's my question?
Visit the site and look for it, and while you're there peruse the other content and read the other questions. Skip the ones that are tongue in cheek. There are plenty of sincere ones.

(Full disclosure: There are blog programs that reward bloggers with clicks for mentioning Dropping Knowledge. I'm not applying for any of those for this mention. I'm dropping it because I like the site.)

Black Beauty Ranch

I should have mentioned Cleveland Amory's Black Beauty Ranch in my previous post.

It's a refuge for horses and many other animals and it needs support.

It's certainly a good answer to the: "Where will the horses go if we don't slaughter them?" question.

I've called many of the committee members listed in my previous post also and in each case I've had very pleasant conversations with their staffers.

If you read this before 2 p.m. 7/25, take time to act.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Horse Slaughter Action Needed

The Texas Humane Legislation Network is reporting that H.R. 503, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (AHSPA), is to be reviewed at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 25, 2006, by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. That's the national body, so everyone can get involved.

THLN notes:

"Crowded into trailers and exposed to the elements, horses are hauled for up to 28 hours without a break. When they reach the slaughterhouse, callous workers poke and beat the animals as they are shoved into the kill box. Despite the federal mandate that horses be rendered unconscious before having their throats slit, repeated blows with captive bolt guns are often necessary to stun them, and their death is protracted and excruciating. Members of Congress must end this practice by adopting the AHSPA in its original form."

What individuals can do
THLN recommends those wishing to stop the slaughter:

"Please contact ALL subcommittee members and urge them to strongly support the AHSPA as written. Make a special effort to respectfully request all members of the subcommittee who are cosponsors (indicated by * in the contact list below) ATTEND the committee hearing and SUPPORT both the AHSPA and Representative Whitfield, who is participating in the hearing. Call or fax TODAY until the hearing takes place on Tuesday. Please share this Action Alert with family, friends and co-workers, and encourage them to call or fax their Members of Congress, too."

Chair and Ranking Min. Member Phone Fax

Chair: Cliff Stearns (R-FL) 202-225-5744 202-225-3973

Rnk: Janice Schakowsky (D-IL)* 202-225-2111 202-226-6890


Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)* 202-225-2906 202-225-6942

Charles F. Bass (R-NH) 202-225-5206 202-225-2946

Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) 202-225-2811 202-225-3004

Mary Bono (R-CA)* 202-225-5330 202-225-2961

Sherrod Brown (D-OH)* 202-225-3401 202-225-2266

Barbara Cubin (R-WY) 202-225-2311 202-225-3057

Jim Davis (D-FL)* 202-225-3376 202-225-5652

Nathan Deal (R-GA) 202-225-5211 202-225-8272

Diana DeGette (D-CO)* 202-225-4431 202-225-5657

Michael Ferguson (R-NJ)* 202-225-5361 202-225-9460

Charles Gonzalez (D-TX)* 202-225-3236 202-225-1915

Gene Green (D-TX)* 202-225-1688 202-225-9903

Edward Markey (D-MA)* 202-225-2836 202-226-0092

Tim Murphy (R-PA) 202-225-2301 202-225-1844

Sue Myrik (R-NC)* 202-225-1976 202-225-3389

C. L. “Butch” Otter (R-ID) 202-225-6611 202-225-3029

Joseph Pitts (R-PA)* 202-225-2411 202-225-2013

George Radanovich (R-CA) 202-225-4540 202-225-3402

Mike Rogers (R-MI) 202-225-4872 202-225-5820

Mike Ross (D-AR) 202-225-3772 202-225-1314

Bobby Rush (D-IL)* 202-225-4372 202-226-0333

Tedd Strickland (D-OH)* 202-225-5705 202-225-5907

Lee Terry (R-NE) 202-225-4155 202-226-5452

Edolphus Towns (D-NY)* 202-225-5936 202-225-1018

Fred Upton (R-MI) 202-225-3761 202-225-4986

* Denotes HR 503 Co-sponsors

The committee site is here.

More reading

A .pdf on 5 reasons horse slaughter in America is a disgrace.

Willie Nelson speaks out against horse slaughter

Kinky Friedman on horse slaughter - Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy

The Washington Times - Stop Horsing Around

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Cat dieting

We're trying a new cat diet program at our house. My one female cat, Miss Daisy, is pawing my arm as I type this to register her disapproval.

Miss Daisy is the chief reason we have a new diet program. Christine's mother once observed: "She looks like she's going to have kittens," as Daisy sashayed into a room.

Ash, one of our newer arrivals at our ranch of cats, likes to eat about as well as Daisy does and is starting to build his girth also.

Monty, our oldest Tom, lost weight when he had a fever of unknown origin a while back and hasn't put it all back on. He likes food moderatly less than Miss Daisy, but he is prone to poke me in the leg when he's hungry. He pokes me a lot when he's hungry.

Oliver, probably the youngest, looks like the illustration on the cat food bag, the one that depicts the cat that's too thin. He doesn't care much for cat food. He'll give Ash his food pretty regularly and sit patiently waiting for him to clean the bowl.

Each cat now has a separate bowl and we're measuring the food with special cat food measuring cup the vet gave us.

I forget if that was two or three "Miss Daisy is getting too fat" lectures ago.

Anyway, four bowls - measured amount, distributed usually by Christine at night and me in the morning. It's a bit of a juggling act because they all want their bowls at once.

They eat from their respective bowls. Except when they don't. Daisy eats from Monty's, Monty eat's from Ash's etc. We try to put the food up after they've finished it and let them nibble again when Monty starts tugging my pantleg.

A couple of nights it seemed to work really well. They didn't even get through the entire measured amount. But I think they're getting wise.

Monty has always had a technique of getting me up when he wants something. He doesn't howl himself, even though he has quite a voice for such a small creature.

He corners Daisy, who hisses warnings.

Christine then urges me to get up and separate them. That never works. Instead, I feed Monty to shut him up. Christine calls it rewarding bad behavior.

Daisy usually eats too and Ash if he wakes up.

You see the source of the problem.

We'll see how the weight loss goes.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Doctor Who Season 1

I haven't watched and rewatched anything in a long while the way I have Series 1 of the Doctor Who revival from producer/writer Russel T. Davies.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Psychological Horror

My friend Charles has a new blog about writing. Does he look like a psychologist in his profile pic? He is also a biker and I'm not sure about the order in which those appropriately fall.

Maybe he is a scientist of the mind first, but he's also a horror writer noted for many short stories in many collections and for Cold in the Light, a horror novel set in the Ozarks.

He's also serious Robert E. Howard fan. In that pic he does look a little like Conan of Cimmeria, doesn't he?

Anyway, if you're interested in horror and writing and all that, you should check out Charlie's corner of the blogosphere.

He's a cool guy I've known since we bumped into each other at the New Orleans Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival sometime back in the Hyperborean Age.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Another page from one of my horror comics

This is from the hard to find--if anyone was looking--fourth issue of The Mantus Files, a comic book mini-series I wrote for Malibu Graphics back in ancient times. It was edited by my buddy Roland Mann and drawn by Thomas Giles.

Horror Comic Scene - The Mantus Files from Sidney Williams and Thomas Giles

This page comes near the end of the tale, right before the story's version of "all Hell" breaks loose with a twist about the dragon talked about and anticipated through most of the series. I thought we came up with kind of a cool way for Mantus, our occult investigator hero, to kill him. The guy in the pic's not the dragon, by the way. He's a guardian from the dark side.

Hmm, guess that dialog could have been a little better.

The defeat of the rampage involved some saintly relics that we made up, though the course to them took Mantus through a lot of real New Orleans locations.

Mantus files can be ordered from The Nostalgia Zone


What's on the iPod? - The Husband

If iPods are now providing the soundtracks for our lives, my score is not limited to music. Lately we've been painting our house on our own, as we have time. Christine watches a lot of HGTV.

I follow orders.

In the pink room
Listening to books on tape is not new to me. In our previous house the owners had attempted to paint a long living room dining room combination an interesting shade of rose. It didn't turn out rose.

It turned out pink.

I listened to Spock's World through two coats of Kilz. That was in boom box (aka the iPod mega) days. It took another Eric Van Lustbader novel to finish the job, two coats of a deep Martha Stewart tan. I suspect when the light is right, the new owners can still see a few flecks of pink showing through.

The new Dean Koontz
Eventually I'll be able to mark the rooms of my current house by audio books. It's not bad having pop-literature sort of permeating rooms.

The master bedroom was Stephen King's Cell. A hallway was Bad Twin. Two walls of the living room were Dirty Blonde by Linda Socottoline.

The Husband
Dean Koontz helped finish the living room. I guess that's appropriate in more ways than one since I was working for Christine.

The Husband is my favorite Dean Koontz novel since Life Expectancy. It made the work go nicely.

Back to the book
Velocity and Forever Odd are good Dean Koontz books. They just didn't quite grab me in the way Life Expectancy did.

The Husband is a race against time story with a killer twist -- a guy who doesn't have $2 million is ordered to get it or his wife will be killed.

On its own, that's a Lifetime thriller, but it's not about just getting the money together.

It's about who the hero, Mitch Rafferty, is.

And how he grew up and why that puts him in harms way.

In other words, it has the Dean Koontz master style.

Certain action scenes reminded me a little of action scenes in False Memory, but the characters are all new. Don't want to do spoilers here, but know that as with many Koontz characters, Mitch's past is haunting him.

And it puts his happy present day existence at dire risk. His wife, whom he loves unwaveringly, is in peril and thus his entire existence is on the line.

It's no wonder this one is already set to be a movie, but I predict even though it's sort of ready made for an hour-and-45 minute thriller, much of the love story and the back story won't translate to the big screen in quite the way Koontz can tell it in prose.

With rich scene settings and descriptions blending with rich emotional detail, The Husband is the perfect score for painting a room or a summer drive, or I'm sure in its hard copy form it's wonderful for the beach.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Struggling to do the right thing

This is not a political blog, and I've struggled over the weekend, putting up posts and taking them down because of my frustration over my Congressman.

I took down the long post and the short post I wrote.

The long detailed my letters and his team's responses to two issues I feel strongly about -- net neutrality and horse slaughter.

The short post simply linked up a You Tube video displaying some Congressional buffoonery as shown in The Daily Show.

I decided neither really helped the horses or other causes, or I worried that they were not part of the solution.

The Bottom Line
There are many great blogs devoted to both issues I mentioned. I'm going to write the polite letters to my Congressional delegation and vote against those who don't represent me.

Find your representatives here and do the same, or they'll do what they want.

And I'll keep looking for the right thing.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Speaking of elaborate mazes

Some aliens must have had landing gear that looked like Mr. Spock.

Actually an interesting article at about a Star Trek TOS maze.

And you thought I was goofy with my weekend on Mars photo.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Signs in 3D

Apparently the aliens who produce crop circles have developed more elaborate landing gear.

The Daily Mail is reporting the first 3-D crop circles. (I found it via the daily headlines on Fortean Times.)

M. Night Shyamalan made good use of crop circles and grey aliens for horror purposes in Signs, of course. These don't seem quite as menacing as they are perplexing in our real world.

Mr. Pragmatic spoils the fun
Skeptics have long considered crop circles to be hoaxes, and they're probably right. Intellectually I have to agree with skeptics most of the time.

But in my heart, I like a bit of wonder. I think this is one of those areas that's fun. Unless it was your wheat field, anyway.

Sense of wonder anyone?
Sure they're probably all made by guys with time on their hands, but they stimulate the imagination a bit and give us a little mystery.

Even after documentaries that show guys with wheat cutting tools, when something new like this, pardon me, crops up, you find yourself asking anew - "How the heck did that get there?"

And is there something more than the pseudo solid world that surrounds me?

An opening epigram in the Robert Aikman collection Cold Hand in Mine, went something like this: "In the end, it is the mystery that remains and not it's explanation."

Words to live by.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

New Profile Image - Cosmic Sid

Wayne, my buddy, dredged up an old photo of me from his hard drive.

That was a great weekend on Barsoom.

OK you got me
The actual shot was taken on a snow day, and I used it when I was first getting the hang of Photoshop.

You may recognize the sand dunes from one of the standard Photoshop sample photos.

The planets were created in Paint Shop Pro 5 or 6 with one of the picture tube features that Adobe seems to build into Illustrator but not Photoshop. ?!


Friday, July 07, 2006

Ear worms

The other night as I tried to drift off to sleep--while my cat sat on my chest stealing my breath--lyrics from an old song started playing in my head. Except I couldn't remember all of them, so it went something like this:

"Mmm, mmmm, mmmm ... and a cat named Kalamazoo." Not mmm mmm like the Crash Test Dummies song, though.

I'd already turned off the computer and I didn't really want to uproot Miss Daisy to do the Goo Diligence (I saw that on and I'm doing my part to make it a real term) on it, so I just kept my head on the pillow and suffered. "Mmm, mmm, mmmm ... Kalamazoo." This went on for hours.

If the cat could talk
I thought maybe I was thinking of that song because the cat was on my chest. I decided not to change her name to Kalamazoo.

The next morning I realized that ear worm was planted by my friend Wayne. Damn you Wayne Sallee and the Cal-Sag bus you rode in on.

It was payback for joking about him and multifuction copiers. He titled a blog entry "Della and the Dealer," you see.

Deutsch Hoyt
It all became so clear as I checked his blog that morning. It all came back: "It was Della and the dealer and a dog named Jake and a cat named Kalamazoo" from Hoyt Axton.

My brain deposited his post title and dredged up the end of the phrase.

I loved Hoyt Axton, so I thought "Della and the Dealer" would be a great tune for the iPod after a night of living with:

"Mmm, mmmm, mmmm ... and a cat named Kalamazoo.".

They only have a version in German on iTunes.

If I'd been a comic book character when I discovered that, there would have been a word balloon over my head with ?! in it.

Why THE HELL is there a German version of "Della and the Dealer" on iTunes but not the Hoyt Axton version? Steve Jobs is going to leverage Hollywood into $9.99 movie downloads and he can't cut a deal for the entire Hoyt Axton music library?

That's gonna show up in the third quarter. I was gonna pop for two (2) greenback $s and also download that song Hoyt sang on WKRP when he was supposed to be Loni Anderson's ex-boyfriend and thought Dr. Johnny Fever was her love interest. But no.

I had to settle for looking up the lyrics so I could then sing it myself all day: "It was Della and the dealer and a dog named Jake and a cat..."

Prompting Christine to go: "Shut up DAMN YOU!."

Did I mention Christine was home, too?

It's amazing the damage a cat stealing your breath and an ear worm can do.

Maybe the ear worm was named...ah forget it.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Where's Jay McCarroll - Staging a Fur Free Fashion show

Christine and I don't watch many reality shows, preferring programs that give writers work instead.

However, we watch avidly the endeavor that is celebrated in Bravo's Project Runway, which returns with a new season later this month.

We hadn't noticed news of last year's winner Jay McCarroll in a while, but Christine discovered today he'll be offering a spring line at the September fashion week.

Unlike many designers--including Kenneth Cole who's reportedly using fur trim--McCarroll's going fur free in his efforts, according to a release from The Humane Society of the United States.

Given inhumane conditions at fur farms, especially those in countries where no humane treatment laws exist, it's wonderful to see a new designer taking a stand.

Bravo, Jay.
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