Thursday, October 31, 2019

October Words of Wisdom

Once you hit a certain age, you become permanently unimpressed by a lot of stuff. --Unknown

You must listen to your heart and follow it or it will find a million ways to remind you that there is something missing. --Unknown

Without the horse, none of this would be possible. We owe them our lives. They give us so much and ask only for basic kindness in return. I believe that horses and humans have a connection that draws us to each other. I believe, in their own way, they know we need them, and they are pleased to be our partner, whether it be in work or sport. We need to remember never to take advantage of this privilege of working and living with horses for granted. To never lose our appreciation for what they have given us throughout the history of time, and to be sure that their relevance in our society does not fade away. This is our greatest responsibility as equestrians. --McLain Ward

Should you ever find yourself the victim of other people's bitterness, smallness, or insecurities, remember things could be worse...You could be them.

In order for you to insult me, I would first have to value your opinion.

When you stop blaming other people for your problems...when you stop procrastinating, bitching and complaining about how unfair life is truly amazing what the fuck you can do with your life! Once you realize no one is coming to save you, you only have two options - you can say "fuck it' and lay there and do nothing OR you can sack it the fuck up and become the badass motherfucker you were meant to be! --David Goggins

The democrat debates are millionaires arguing with other millionaires about how evil millionaires are. --Mike Rowe

Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence. --Henry David Thoreau

When my toes are sunk into warm sand and the ocean is lapping my feet, when I breathe in the scent of salt and hear the cry of a seagull, I know that I am returned to a place of restoration. I am home. I can heal here. --Toni Sorensen

You will actually find that if you keep your story tight, with no swerving from the proper path, it will curl up quite naturally at the end, provided you stop when you have finished what you have to say. --Shirley Jackson

If you're gonna be a smartass, first make sure you're smart. Otherwise you're just an ass. --Unknown

Happy Halloween!!!

Hope you all get lots of candy!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

To NaNo or not to NaNo

I've been debating whether or not to do NaNo this year, going back and forth like crazy, wondering if it will get me back into writing mode. And I finally decided today that I'm going to do it. I need to do it.

For those of you who have never heard of National Novel Writing Month, it's an online community that in the month of November commits to writing 50,000 words of a novel. That works out to 1,667 words per day in a month that includes Thanksgiving. I've tried it a few times in the past but never made it to 50k.

All that matters is word count - no editing or rewriting, no worrying about how it comes out. Just write. Just get the words down and worry about fixing it later. It's basically a month-long writing sprint.

Here's some NaNo advice and freebies and 30 tips for doing NaNo. These articles are what finally pushed me to go for it.

If you've ever considered trying to write a novel (even if you don't consider yourself a writer) NaNo is a great way to give it a shot.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Recent reading: "Reel Stuff"

Reel Stuff by Don Bruns

I picked this up at a writing conference and Mr. Bruns was kind enough to sign it for me.

He even drew the palm tree! How cute is that? And as for what he wrote to me, I did indeed enjoy the ride.

Private investigator Skip Moore is working security on the set of the TV show Deadline Miami, where Oscar-winning actor Jason Londell is making a guest appearance as a favor to the show's producer, a longtime friend. And to the despair of the episode's director, Londell is insisting on doing his own stunts, in this case jumping off a building. But that stunt turns deadly when without warning, Londell leaps to his death on the pavement below, far from the giant air bag that he was supposed to hit.

Moore, his PI partner James Lessor, and Skip's stunning girlfriend Emily get roped into investigating what increasingly seems like more of a murder than a suicide. As part of the investigation Skip and Em head to from Miami to Hollywood to investigate Londrell's estranged wife/ex-agent, which unexpectedly leads to Em getting booked on a pilot, a development that turns her usually level head when it awakens long-dormant glamorous dreams. Meanwhile, Skip in L.A. and James back in Miami sift through a large, interconnected cast of suspects, trying to figure out the who, how and whys of Jason Londell's shocking death.

Bruns writes short chapters and that, along with his characters and fast pacing, propel the story forward non-stop so well that I finished this in one day. The closer I got to the end, the harder it was to consider putting it down. It was a wild ride.

"Sometimes it's just stupid to do your own stunts." The director let out a long sigh, shaking his head. He looked at me and said, "We've got stunt guys who can do this jump with their eyes closed, so why the hell does this prima donna think he should do it himself? Damned actors. Life would be a lot simpler without them."

Monday, October 21, 2019

Trying to get unblocked

Thank you, UCLA Extension Writers' Program on FB, I needed this:

I've been blocked all year. I'm not sure why (although I have my theories) but I've just been so unproductive. Hoping this pushes me over the hump. It's a new week - here's to new beginnings!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

It's funny cuz it's true! Ikea edition.

Yeah, I've assembled my share of Ikea items.

H/T to Everyday Culinary on FB.

Monday, October 14, 2019

CSI: Party City

I can't decide if this is funny or cruel:

The sick part of me is leaning toward hilarious!

H/T to im not right in the on FB.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Recent reading: "Breaking Bad 101: The Complete Critical Companion"

Breaking Bad 101: The Complete Critical Companion by Alan Sepinwall

I had bought this book a while back but for some reason never got around to reading it. Given the release this weekend of El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (which triggered me into starting a new binge of Breaking Bad) I thought it was appropriate.

Sepinwall takes a psychological dive into the motivation behind Walter White's evolution from a mild-mannered and disrespected husband, father, and high school teacher to the drug lord known as Heisenberg, and the wreckage that journey left in its wake.

These aren't detailed recaps - you will need to have seen the show to understand what he's referring to. But it's a fascinating take on the world of Breaking Bad. Sepinwall focuses particularly on Walt's pride and the poor decisions it prompts, his long-simmering resentment at having missed out on the prestige and wealth that Grey Matter generated, and his desire for control and respect. That notwithstanding, he doesn't neglect the other characters. Everyone gets attention. He also heaps well-deserved praise on the cast, particularly Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, as well as the writers and directors.

The pieces are brief, which makes it easy to get through the book quickly, plus once you get to the final season and start hurtling toward the explosive ending, it's impossible to put it down. Sepinwall actually wrote these as the show was airing, but many have been rewritten or updated for this book, which also includes contributions from Vince Gilligan, Cranston and others involved with the show.

"WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?! WE'RE A FAMILY!!!...We're a family." - Walter

Almost seven seconds pass between the time Walter White screams the words "WE'RE A FAMILY!!!" and the time he whispers them, and they are an eternity. They are everything. Those seven seconds are what Breaking Bad has been building to for the previous fifty-nine hours. They are the shattering of every illusion Walter White has ever had about himself. They are the terrified faces of his wife and son as they huddle together on the floor, trying to wish him into the cornfield. They are all his bogus self-rationalizations being dipped in acid until they are no longer recognizable. They are Walter White finally, after so much time and so much sin, coming to terms with everything he has lost.

Friday, October 11, 2019

"El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie" has arrived...

...and I've already watched it twice.

Some observations (with SPOILERS - you have been ALERTED):

  • Could have been tightened up a bit. Quite a few scenes seemed to meander unnecessarily. Sadly, one of the scenes they could have cut was the Walter White flashback. As great as it was to see Bryan Cranston as Heisenberg again, the scene was totally unnecessary IMO, unless it existed to reinforce how much Jesse has changed by having a scene where he's still a goofball, which I didn't think was needed. But that's really the only criticism I have.
  • A lot of reviews that I've looked at use "epilogue" to describe the film, and I would agree with that. I'm not sure it stands up on its own, but it's a great epilogue to Breaking Bad. I know a lot of fans wondered what would happen to Jesse and hoped he'd be okay. 
  • Aaron Paul's performance was stunning. Jesse has certainly been shaped by his experiences in Breaking Bad. Crazy comparing the guy in El Camino with the idiotic Captain Cook of only a couple years earlier. Not the same guy at all.
  • Todd took the kid's tarantula! Nice bit of callback there, in case we needed a reminder of just what a remorseless psycho he was. Killed the kid, but made sure his tarantula was taken care of. Asshole.
  • Who knew Skinny Pete was so clever? I was sorry his interrogation scene wasn't in the film, especially with the placement of photos of Hank and Gomie in that teaser. El Camino does explain why he wasn't wearing his trademark knit cap during his interrogation.
  • Very cool reveal on the two cops who arrived to search Todd's place. I actually twigged to it a couple seconds before Jesse did. Rewatching it, I understood why the guy was tipped off immediately that his "partner" was in trouble. Speaking of rewatching, I actually liked it better the second time around.
  • As I mentioned in this post, one of the big discussions among Breaking Bad fans after the show ended was whether or not Walt actually died from his gunshot wound. El Camino answers that question for once and for all.
  • I thought it was interesting that they left the ending rather open-ended. Could we be looking at the further adventures of Mr. Driscoll at some point? Because like Breaking Bad, the last we see of Jesse is him driving off to an uncertain future. I'd be up for seeing what happens to him next.

Updated 7:45pm: News just hit that Robert Forster, who reprised his role of Ed, the vacuum salesman who moonlights by relocating criminals and setting them up with new identities for $125k a pop (and who was awesome in this) died today, the same day El Camino was released. Earlier today I was marveling at his performance and now this. Forster was 78 and succumbed to brain cancer. Such a bummer.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Happy Birthday, Dad

My Dad would have been 79 years old today and heading to Kona Inn for dinner to celebrate. It also means he would have been 80 next year, and I think that would have been cool.

And that's all I have to say about that. I've rehashed the family drama and all the shit that went down after he died, so there's no reason to go over it again. So Happy Birthday, Dad!

Monday, October 7, 2019

This is how you deal with it when someone gets "offended"

Last week's South Park took a big shot at Hollywood entities kowtowing to the Chinese government over censorship issues and the Chinese government responded by making all things South Park disappear from the Chinese internet.

Matt & Trey "apologized" by not caving in or apologizing:

Allow me to translate from South Parkese: "Piss off!"

Apparently China had previously banned Winnie the Pooh because people online decided that Chinese President Xi Jinping resembled the classic cartoon bear. Talk about not having a sense of humor. No way they were going to be happy with South Park making fun of that.

Here's a side-by-side comparison from the Guardian article linked above. You decide:


Also, you know what comes up when you start typing Xi's name into a search engine? You get this:

All the Chinese censorship did was bring a bunch of free publicity to South Park and brought more attention to the Xi/Pooh thing. I certainly hadn't heard about it before. Can you imagine having that oversensitive jackass in charge of your country? No wonder the Chinese people are rioting.

To be honest I'm more surprised South Park gets away with using Disney characters in its episodes than the idea an entire country would get their panties in a twist over a half hour of animation. This wasn't Mickey's first appearance on the show. If anyone should be taking action you would think it would be Disney. A boatload of their characters made appearances in this episode.

This is how you deal with offended idiots. You tell them to eff off. And the "May this autumn's sorghum harvest be bountiful!" line is totally going onto my social media accounts.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Recent reading: "To Catch a Predator"

To Catch a Predator: Protecting Your Kids From Online Enemies Already in Your Home by Chris Hansen

This is both a riveting look at how easily children can be preyed upon online as well as a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the To Catch a Predator TV program.

Interspersed with chapters detailing the show's episodes/sting operations are stories of online child predators, their tragic victims, law enforcement entities targeting predators via sting operations, and even a chapter devoted the blindsided wives of men convicted of pursuing underaged kids online. There are transcripts from Predator's stings that are shocking in how graphic they are despite the men believing they were talking to underage kids. Equally shocking - and terrifying - is learning how easily children can be groomed and manipulated online. And even as the show became a phenomenon, it was stunning how many of the men caught in the sting operations were showing up despite the fact that many of them were aware of - and in one case, a big fan of - To Catch a Predator.

I was also a big fan of the show and picked this up used recently. It was published in 2008 so some of the references are a bit dated (mainly MySpace being the big social media network at the time) but the warnings and advice are relevant today. This book contains a ton of helpful information and advice to help guard against online predators and is a must-read for anyone with kids.

The first day, August 25, 2006, was wild. Twelve men showed up. Once again we saw some "To Catch a Predator" firsts. Among the first through the door was a twenty-three-year-old who went by the screen name strega_num_7. He had been chatting online with a decoy posing as a thirteen-year-old girl. First he apologized for chatting up someone so young, but in less than twenty minutes he was asking questions like: "Would you ever suck dick?" He also asked: "Would you ever let me fuck you? How big are your tits?" and "Is your p___y shaved?" The last one is a question we have heard dozens of times and seems to be a common curiosity among predators.