Soon To Be Classics

Saturday, July 30, 2005

My mutant power

When I was younger and doing Radio in Ohio, a good friend of mine and I used to joke that my mutant power was "luck". Everything seemed to come up right for me. I had a great job doing morning radio. I loved to go to work everyday. I also did part time contractor work for a game company that let me work on my own time and paid me for it. Things just seemed to go right for me. Hence, it was my "mutant luck factor".

When I was a kid, I had a clover patch next to my house. Pressed in a Bible that I still have, are several four leaf clovers and one five leaf clover. Added to my luck, I suppose. ("But our four leaf clover goes to five!") I also once heard an idiot radio DJ say that if you lick your thumb and press it to the celing of your car when you go through a yellow light, you can make a wish and it will make you lucky. TO THIS DAY, I still engage in this idiotic superstition.

I began to think that I had run dry on that luck lately. Although I did manage to escape the crumbling foundations of my last job and pull another dream job, it just seemed like the blind luck was no longer there.

And then my phone rang tonight.

In Seattle, where I'm moving to, my realtor FINALLY returned my call regarding Friday's inspection of the house I'm buying. Make no mistake, this house is more expensive than I'm comfortable with and the family knows we're going to be sucking it in for a while until we get settled. Thus, I really don't need any nasty surprises. I was worried about the inspection, because with the way the market is now, any surprises that come up can cause problems. The seller can just plain refuse to fix things and easily sell the house again the next day. Back to square one. It's a seller's market, so if you're a buyer, you aren't holding jack for cards.

So Jeremy says "You won't believe what happened at the inspection."

Great. Here it is. Cracked foundation, leaky roof, built on ancient Indian burial ground, etc. The Great Big Wrench has been dropped and I'm about to be crushed.

Jeremy continues. "The water main in the front yard ruptured and flooded out the yard. The seller is responsible to pay for it so $5000 later, you have a brand new water main. If this had happened a week later, you would have been screwed"

It took me a second to process that. This house was built in 1988 and the water main cracked and ruptured. It turns out, the cherry tree in the front yard ("We have a cherry tree?" the wife asked to which I confidently lied "Yeah, I told you about that.") grew into it and broke it. Further, I had this happen to me in Ohio and my yard ended up looking like Beirut. Jeremy told me that the crew who did it, NUMBERED each piece of sod when they cut the lawn and rebuilt it perfectly.


As for the inspection, it was fine other than the chanting and rumblings from under the garage.

I won't chalk this up to luck, as that way is fraught with peril. But I am looking for my five leaf clover.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Because I Can

Originally uploaded by Mkae.
Someday I would like to be put in charge of something really big, really well known and horribly iconic.

Then, I would change it completely.

Just "because I can".

Hollywood likes to do this alot. Colorization was one of the first big attempts at this. Of course, "Miracle on 34th Street" and "Boys Town" would be much better pictures if they were presented on the big screen in muddy, pixelated color. I don't remember if it actually happened, but I'm sure SOMEONE suggested that they colorize the opening of "The Wizard of Oz", which they could have done "because they can".

Anyway, I'm ranting a bit on this due to the upcoming "Superman Returns". Bryan Singer is promising to do for Superman what "Batman Begins" did for that franchise. Superman IV didn't exactly "schumacher" the franchise but it didn't help.

(Editors Note: To be "schumachered" means that you're bent over and driven to Cleveland the hard way by a French costume designer.)

Anyway, "Superman Returns" deals with Superman leaving Earth in a snit after some foggy references to Superman II and the battle with the Kryptonian criminals. He comes back, and finds a married Lois (with kid in tow, sans the spit curl) and essentially "wins her back". This could be the worst "ex-boyfriend showing up and being an asshole movie EVER".

Alright, so far, not too bad. What's getting me is the costume. The "S" was disgned by, according to artist Mike Vera, Bryan Singer.

Excuse me? It seems to me that this icon was created years before Bryan was an itch in the zipper. Could it be no coincidence that 'Singer' begins with an 'S' as well?

Bryan liked the 'S' "he" designed so much that it's also now on the belt buckle of the suit. Now, I'm about to go out on a limb here and actually put a level of ridiculousness on an outfit with the underpants on the outside. However, this double 'S' looks more like something that would come out of the 90's comic book genre when the X-Men had no less than 30 'X's adorning their costume. The simplicity of the "super suit" just doesn't need that, nor did it really need updating. The image above actually has a very nostalgic look to it as it reminds me of the very classic Fleischer cartoons of the 40's. However, the rest of the suit, from the low-cut bikini trunks (hello, what??) to the "Look at my belt! It's very Thuper!" belt buckle just really takes me out of the moment.

I suspect it was done when someone thought "because I can".

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Domo Arogato, Mrs. Roboto

One small step for man, one giant, f'ing leap for lonely Japanese men.

This is just truly frightening.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The following people are NOT God. Discuss.

The bloggers from my former company seem to be a little quiet lately. Here's a post that I have been cooking up a long disertation for, but don't think all the wordage is necessary. So, here is the short list of people who aren't God.

Kevin Smith - Not God. Makes cute movies. Believes he can make the best comic book movies ever. Whatever. Finish "The Evil That Men Do" miniseries before you tell me you're God's gift to comicdom.

Joss Whedon - Also not God. Buffy was ok, but c'mon. My respect for his work did increase when I saw his name in the credits of Toy Story.

Neil Gaiman - Again, not God although oddly enough, I discovered I own a book he wrote that wasn't a comic. He did a small guide to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. That work of course was written by:

Douglas Adams - Not God, but he did briefly fill in.

Alex Ross - Still not God, but almost makes me believe God wears a red cape.

Tom (Xenu will save me) Cruise - Why is he on the news every night? Still??

Steve Jobs - Ok, so 3% of the computer buying public think he's God. Doesn't make it so. He is mightly translucent though.

Peter Jackson - Not God. Rather, he's one of the Illuvatar. (5 pts.)

Captain Hanson Crockett Gregory - Hmm.....ok, maybe. (5 pts.)

Howard Stern - Ok, let's assume for a moment that he was God. That would make the film "Private Parts" the Bible. By comparison, that would mean the Christian Bible was written by Dr. Seuss and illustrated with finger paints.

God - Nope, sorry. He's not God. At least not in schools or government buildings. Until there's a bombing or shooting rampage, and then no one has the guts to interrupt the televised prayer vigil with crazy-eyed rhetoric. (Sorry, that got political. I lose 5 pts.)

Bill Gates - Not God, he just writes His paycheck.

Lance Armstrong - Still not God, but if anyone has Him on the shoulder, Lance does.

Warchowski Brothers - Did you see the third Matrix film?? I mean did you SEE it???

The tiny little bug that crawled onto my foot while I was sitting on the porch tonight and made me, just for a moment, forget the crushing stress that's weighing on me - THAT was God.

My dreams, my hopes, my life

Silly Smiles
Originally uploaded by Mkae.
It's all right there, in two smiling faces.

Everything I've ever done, leads to them. Everything I'll do for a very long time, is for them. They are two innocent souls that look to me to make everything right. And I will.

For those of you who choose to never become parents, I can't begin to tell you what you're missing. For my friends who are soon to be first time parents, you have a wonderful adventure ahead.

Sorry for the sap. But I haven't seen my kids for 12 days now.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Things Will Be Different When I'm God

I've been in management for a LONG time.

15 of my 17 years in Radio were in a management position where I had to supervise, set policy, hire, fire, bend the rules, be the disciplinarian, and just basically keep things running. Radio is a brutal busines and if you're the boss, you're responsible for 154 straight hours of programming. Whatever's going on on-air, is your responsibility. Thus, you surround yourself with good people, earn their respect, and trust them to do good by you. I think I always did that.

Now, there always came the time when people left. Long ago, I decided upon a steadfast rule. If someone was leaving my employ, no matter how important they were to me, I was ALWAYS happy for them provided they were moving on to an opportunity that bettered themself and their situation. If there was a problem, then I expected them to come to me and try to work it out. Each and everyone that was moving forward in their career got a handshake or a hug, a big smile, and a heartfelt "good luck". Thus, I kept in touch with many of them, some to this day. I never spoke bad of any of them.

If you ever reach a management postion, I strongly suggest you adopt this policy. Your former employees will think much better of you in the long run and you'll be remembered as "a good guy". Consider the alternative.

Tourists Are Stupid

So I'm driving 3000 miles across country, on my 40th birthday, to start a new job that promises to be MUCH more positve and uplifting.

It is a very long drive, and it's impossible to determine what could happen to you along the way. Breakdowns, construction, traffic, bad weather, Indian attacks, almost anything is waiting to smash you to a pulp when you hit the open road. So, I tried not to dally and front load my drive time as much as possible. I only gave myself one "slop" day before I had to start work.

Thus, I passed numerous "scenic viewpoints" along the way. These are signs that let you know you're about to drive past something that could change your life. Or you could fall off of to a horrible death. Either way, I missed a lot of them.

So somewhere in western North Dakota (which was AMAZING, btw) I saw a sign that said "Scenic Overlook Ahead". Thus, I decided to stop. To my amazement, I was in The Badlands. As I stood looking over the small, 2.5 foot tall rock wall into the canyons below, I was absolutely awed by the beauty of nature. This was truly God's handiwork (someone else did the Fjords: 5 pts) and it was magnificant.

So taken was I by the sign, that I barely registed reading the "Do Not Approach Wildlife" sign. The sign, I should point out, was very misleading in that it featured the profile of a buffalo. Since it was very doubtful I would ever approach a buffalo, sign or no, I opted to ignore it.

There was a father and an 8 year old boy there having a picnic on the short wall. It was a not plummetting death on the other side, just dirt and scrub that gracefully bent down toward the canyon wall. Thus, the boy was perfectly safe to sit there, right?

Uh huh.

He goes to swing his legs over the outside edge of the wall and suddenly yanks them back up, yelling for his dad.


His dad, and myself since the boy didn't technically specify WHICH "dad" he wanted, hurried over to see the commotion. The boy said he "heard" a snake below him. We looked over the 2 and a half foot wall, and looking up at us, was a roughly 3 foot long brown rattlesnake.

Snakes, why did it have to be...

I should point out, this was NOT the zoo, nor the pet store. There was no cage, glass or Jack Hanna standing nearby. So here's three idiot tourists, leaning over a 2 and a half foot wall at a THREE foot rattlesnake who is furiously shaking his rattle.

Do the math. Tourists are stupid.

To his credit, the snake got bored with us when I went for my camera phone and slithered off into the brush thinking "too easy".

Had I been bitten, I was going to sue the state of North Dakota, the sign maker, and Jack Hanna (on principle) for making me believe that the only danger was poisonous buffalo, and not the real danger; an eight year old boy with a peanut butter sandwhich.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Drivers of Red Trucks Are Maniacs

Why is this?

I drove 3000 miles last week and without exception, red pickup trucks always passed me on the left, doing no less than 30 mph faster than I was doing. I was doing 70.

Red trucks are always spotless clean, very shiny, and obviously never used for any sort of manly, Levi wearing work. They're toys and are probably meant to overcompensate for something. (Editor's note: I drove a very small Honda Civic.)

So if you drive a red pickup truck, here's a request. Drive through a mud puddle. Load some firewood in the back. Dent the bumper. And slow the Hell down.

Searching for a home

The last time I had to look for a house, there were three of us, and one on the way. This time, there are four of us plus mom. Five is much more than 3 and a half. It's really proving to be quite daunting.

The market is high, but no more so than in Virginia. The big problem is the commute to work. No matter what I do, it's going to be brutal. I'm willing to take that, to make sure my family is in a good neighborhood and my kids go to good schools. That's what dads do.

What does amaze me is how frickin' lazy home sellers are. I've seen more pieces of trash than I care to count. If you're trying to sell your house, clean up your shit. At least do the dishes and pick the peanut butter toast up off the counter. White trash shouldn't own houses.

Rant off.

PS: NEVER push the "red button" in a house. The last house we looked at tonight apparantly had the world's most paranoid elderly couple. The house is LOADED with panic buttons. I'm genuinely surprised that you couldn't hear the alarm in Virginia.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The First Day (or two, rather)

Today marked the end of my second day at my new job at WizKids. I was big-time nervous. Not because I thought I couldn't do the job, but rather I just hated being in the position that I didn't know the policies, procedures and where the bathroom was. Not necessarily in that order.

I could go through the entire list of things that I saw and did, but I'll cut to the highlight reel. Roll it:

1) WizKids keeps a fully stocked break room with pop (they say "pop" here), water and tea as well as cookies, crackers, popcorn and other assorted goodies. Fair game, was the phrase they used. This could be bad.

2) The young sales assistant (which may or may not be his title) is a great guy. He's already been invaluable to helping me get up to speed. When I tell you what I started calling him, you'll understand his personality. I call him Jimmy Olsen. :)

3) My office is very nice, has soundproof walls, and looks out to Mt. Rainer. Doesn't suck.

4) They really don't like it when you wear a tie to WizKids.

5) Very friendly people kept dropping by my office and introducing themselves, followed immediately by "you don't have any toys in here. We'll fix that!" By days end, my desk was covered with toys.

6) My daughter told me on the phone tonight that she wanted me to come home right away. I almost cried.

7) When you order the "Meat Lovers Bowl" at Denny's, you also get a stack of pancakes and another order of sausage. I don't get it.

8) As God is my witness, I was telling a story about Grunties to two of the employees. Five minutes later, a Gruntie seemingly appeared balanced on the wall between two cubicles. I do NOT remember it being there when I told the story and Jimmy Olsen, who's cubicle it was, didn't remember where it had come from either. Weird shit.

9) The traffic here is awful. There's no way to sugar coat that. It just sucks. No matter where I live will require a horrible, hour long drive each way at least.

10) Microsoft Outlook, when used properly, as WizKids does, is the most amazing business tool I have ever seen. It does email, integrates meeting invites and notifications, allows access to documents in public folders and more. Take note big D, drop that Macintosh bullshit and get a system that is designed for business.

I should also point out that I spent two evenings in a row looking for houses. That's another entry entirely.


Sunday, July 17, 2005

3000 Miles!

Hello all!

3000 miles, more gallons of gas than I care to mention, and a lot of really bad food later and I've arrived!

America is a beautiful country and I have some great blog posts ahead including:

1 - Always stop at scenic viewpoints
2 - Why tourists are stupid (also titled "Yes, that is a real snake")
3 - People who drive red trucks are maniacs
4 - It's good to have friends in big, scary cities
5 - My first day at work!

Coming soon to a blog near you!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Blogging From The Road

24 hours and over 1200 miles later, I made it almost halfway to my new job's city. I'm now sitting at the in-laws house in St. Paul, MN.

And it's my 40th birthday.

I really didn't spend anytime sightseeing or taking pictures, although I did want to take a photo of a giant sign that said CHEESE in Wisconsin for Cheddar. I assume he's seen it before.

The trip was pretty fast, quiet and without any real incident. That's what happens when you drive a mini-van like a stock car. People will get out of your way.

The highlight of the day was of course talking to my kids on the cellphone. I miss them already and hope the time apart will be short. The low point of my day came when the wife told me ON THE WAY TO TAKING MY SON TO THE DOCTOR that "the company" didn't pay the health insurance bill and we'd been cancelled. Nice.

Tomorrow, I leave for the last two days and will add three new states to my game. (I'll explain that later.) I promise at least ONE funny picture.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

We hope you had the time of your life

And just like that, it's over.

Yesterday was my last day at what we all agreed, at one time, was the dream job. I packed my desk, made three trips to the car, looked desperately for something I wanted to steal (and found nothing, sadly enough) and left at 3pm. My boss' last words to me were "You're leaving? It's only three o'clock!" I'll assume it was a joke. Yes, I was leaving.

As I walked away from the building, I told myself I wouldn't look back. Prior to my coming on full time, this front door was considered a Mecca to me. A treasured, holy place where magic of unimaginable scale was crafted by people who (although I'd never say this to their faces) became very dear to me. I did look back, once I crossed the street, but only because I couldn't remember what color the Wonderbar sign was as I tried to commit the street to memory.

We had our "last lunch" at a local Mexican place that always had hot waitresses. Lots of old friends were there and we talked about the good old days. It was like "The Big Chill" only with chips and salsa. And no dancing. Or women. Come to think of it, it was nothing like "The Big Chill".

But it was sad for me. When Juz (do I still get to call you that?) suggested we do "one last group photo" like we did at all of the cons, it really hit me that this was probably the end. There will be at least one or two people in that eight or nine person group that I will NEVER see again as long as I walk this earth.

The dream fell apart. But as this door closes, another opens. I was very fortunate to get another job in the industry that I really do enjoy almost as much as Radio. Through this job, there's hope I can see some of these people again, but it will never be the same again.

This song sums up how I'm looking at the future:

"Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)"

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time

It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial
For what it's worth it was worth all the while

It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

To all my friends; goodbye, good luck, and don't eat the con tuna.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

When Spellcheckers Attack

I put the word "blog" in a post today. Then I read the spellchecker. The first word flagged as mispelled was


Here were the suggestions:


..and some others.

This is at and the spellchecker doesn't know the word "blog".


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

My First Picture

Originally uploaded by Mkae.
I have decided to add visual insanity to my blog. Of course, the first picture had to be this.

Please caption at will.

Why the Fantastic Four will suck

I hate to sound like Gene Shalit here, and I certainly have no basis to make such an assertion, but I truly believe the Fantastic Four movie will suck. I'm basing this strictly on the preview and another odd phenomena. Everytime a really good, opinion-changing genre film is released, it's quickly followed up by something that makes superhero movies look ridiculous. Cyclically, we're coming out of Batman Begins, a great film, so it's time for one that sucks.

Why it will suck:

1) Changing the origin. Yes, it's a minor point and I'm trying not to be a purist here, but the fact that the comic version of the FF literally had Reed and company breaking the law by launching the rocket into space just highlighted the desperation of the scientific mind that is dead-set to prove a theory. It hasn't been played much in the comics because the focus has always been on Reed's guilt for what happened to Ben, but it's still a story chunk that is missing.

2) Doom. Ok, maybe the Latverian angle won't work. I mean really, who says "Bah!" anymore? I'll even give you the whole "rich, philanthropist" angle. But the first time you see Doom in the trailer he is wisecracking. "I'll get a second opinion." A quick note here, this FF is NOT the one from the original comic, but rather from the Ultimate Fantastic Four title Marvel is currently running. Look at the origin, look at Doom and you'll see.

3) The Thing. In a movie world where you can now, literally, do anything, Michael Chiklis looks ridiculous in the suit. Pre-screeners have said that the suit looks spongy and "gives" when someone touches it. I also saw a still where Ben is easily 6 inches shorter than Reed. Ugh. Did Tim Story see The Lord of the Rings? Couldn't they have at least used some CGI to make Ben a foot or two taller and wider? Even the forced perspective shots inside Bilbo's home would have worked. I'm sorry to say, but the Thing from the Roger Coreman filme looked BETTER. In fact, so did his Doom.

4) Street Fighting. Why are they fighting in the middle of the street in NY? This just doesn't seem like Doom. This worked in Superman II. It also worked in Spider-man 1 and 2. It just doesn't seem "big" enough for FF.

5) Rumors. FF will have to work very hard to make us forget Elastic Girl (?) from The Incredibles. There were rumors that several SFX shots of Reed were re-done at the last minute after that film came out because they realized they look lame.

6) Bad clips. I saw Michael Chiklis on Letterman the other night. He brought the worst clip imagineable. It was nothing more than Doom and the Thing punching each other. That was it.

So, I could go on about the bad, but here's some gems to look for.

1) The Human Torch. This looks really good and the young actor playing him (who's name escapes me even though he's on my TV Guide - a connection I still can't make) seems to be having a ball.

2) Jessica Alba. She looks great although not how I picture Sue.

3) Large buttered popcorn.

And that's all folks. We'll find out this week.

Friday, July 01, 2005

A day in her life

Let me tell you about my daughter. The single most beautiful, wonderful thing in my existence. The last 24 hours have seen some pretty rough spots, and she came through it like a trooper.

Thursday at work, my wife called at 5pm. (start the clock) Bailey jumped off the couch, landed flat on her face and bent her front tooth into a dangerous angle in her mouth. Blood was spraying from her lip and she was hysterical. Of course, 5pm means that the traffic nightmare in Norfolk just began and I can't get home in under an hour. The wife takes her in to the emergency dentist. Being that she's four years old, the dentist decides to just pull the baby tooth and tells us that the adult tooth will come in within three years. So by 6:30pm Thursday, she had her first novacaine shot and a tooth pulled. Thank God she landed on the carpet.

So on Friday, she wakes up to me telling her that we need to get dressed to go to the doctor. This appointment has been on the schedule for weeks. She needs to have surgery to have tubes put in her ears to help the drainage that isn't working. She's had numerous ear infections, been on WAAAAY more anti-biotics than I'm happy with, and she has some mild hearing loss in her right ear. So we go to CHKD and spend three hours in the waiting room for a 20 minute procedure. Don't get me wrong, CHKD is wonderful, but today was just ridiculous.

Around 2pm, they come get me in Surgery Waiting and take me to recovery. Poor Bailey is just sobbing in tears, screaming that her ears hurt. She wraps her arms around me and just sobs. There's a little blood on her ears, she has a fat lip, and missing a tooth. As a father, you just wish you could take all of it away into yourself. But you can't, so you just hold your daughter, whisper that it will be alright, and be the rock in her little life.

Eventually, it's time to leave. She's still in pain but won't get in the wheelchair, so I carry her all the way from Surgery downstairs and over to the parking garage. By the time we get to the car, my arms are dead but it's nothing compared to what she's been through so I don't say a word. I offer to take her to lunch (it's almost 4pm by now) and then the toy store, but she's still in pain and a little groggy from the gas. She falls asleep in the van and finally has a little peace.

By 6pm, we're in McDonald's and she's running through the play area with three little boys her age. She whistles a little when she talks and occassionally picks at her ear but she's pretty much back to herself. She has a new Care Bear in her collection and mom and dad looked the other way when bedtime rolled around.

Today was her day. She's earned it.

Not with a bang, but a whimper

I turned in my notice yesterday.

It was a short little email (does anyone send letters, anymore?) that merely stated my regret at leaving, my future adventures, and my responsibility to family. I thanked everyone for my time with the company (11 total years from first "rules question" I answered on AOL, the playtesting for THE GAME, subsequent contract work, and finally 2 years worth of full time) and gave them my final work date.

The rest of the day was pretty normal. Doing odd projects, chatting with the few co-workers left, lunch at Hooters, and fending off a co-worker who wanted to sneak out and see War of the Worlds in the middle of the day.

The irony was not lost on me that my exit was more graceful (and planned) than so many of my friends who suffered from earlier layoffs. What was odd to me was the question that was asked many times. Instead of "what's your new job" I heard "do you have a new job". It's as if getting out was more important than landing gracefully.

I DO have a new job. I will be moving to Seattle to take a position with Wizkids so I'm staying in the game industry, although this veers quite a bit into the realm of toys, which I'm very exicted about. They seem to be a great company and I'm looking forward to the move.

I don't have a lot to say about it yet because I'm very busy with the second move and house sale in two years. I had hoped my time in Virginia would have been longer, but it doesn't appear to be "in the cards".

I hope I get a chance to see as many of you as I can before I go.