Monday, August 23, 2010

Various and Sundry

Didn't have any specific reason for updating today, so I thought I'd throw together a bunch of various observations about what's going on in my life these days. Didn't feel like throwing all this up on Facebook, since that place is pretentious and crowded lately, and I just need a break from that scene.

So, what's been going on? Well . . .

--- The rugs we haggled our hearts out for back in Turkey were delivered this past week. If you would like a refresher of the whole experience, click on this link to read the original report. If you recall, I haggled for an hour to get a reasonable price on both hand-knotted rugs -- which included shipping and insurance on top of that! Well, it turns out I now know how the company pulled this last bit off. Tracing the packaging on the rugs, as well as piecing together clues from the various phone calls we'd received in the week leading up to the delivery, it seems the rugs were shipped from Turkey to a wholesale oriental rug gallery in California. From there, the wholesaler shipped the rugs to one of their roving salesmen staying at a Ramada Inn in New Jersey. This guy called us up on the phone to set up a day when he could drive by and drop off our rugs. He showed up on a Tuesday, removed the packaging for me, and even unrolled and set up both rugs for us. It was a quick and efficient affair. The salesmen then asked if we were interested in any more rugs, but I told him no, we were good for now. So now we have to figure out just what to do with our old, rag-tag rugs. Plus, read up on how to keep these new and very expensive heirloom items clean yet usable for the next hundred years or so.

--- Ever since getting back from our 2-week cruise vacation in late July, I just haven't had the heart to get back into gaming. I'm still only in the beginning stages of that awesome Western sandbox title from Rockstar Games, Red Dead Redemption. Yes, it really is an amazing title. But the month leading up to the trip--plus the trip itself--had occupied so much of my time that I fear I've learned to do without gaming now. And that's something I can't allow to happen. I'm sure I'll get back into the game at some point, but right now I have more immediate concerns.

--- Like what? Well, for one, I'm still working on that Castlevania III novelization. And by "working," I mean outlining. Yeah, I should have been long finished writing this novel by now, but too many things kept getting in the way, none of which were related to writing. If I have my way, writing of the novel will begin in earnest no later than October 1st. Hopefully a lot sooner than that, though. Of course, this wouldn't be a problem if not for . . .

--- Yup, that's right! Wouldn't you know it, a cool new idea for a sci-fi short story has invaded my brain these past few days. And, if you know how these things go for me, I simply cannot ignore it. I mean, literally, I am unable to think or do much of anything else but constantly work on this little kernel of an idea and see what tale I can spin from it. I wrote the first 500 words or so last night, and will continue to work on the burgeoning story for the next week and a half. The title right now is "Jan Ken Pon" which, if you don't know already, is the Japanese version of that beloved and timeless decision-making game: Rock, Paper & Scissors. Yes, this game is one of the central themes of my tale. And, no, this is not a humorous piece of prose. How the hell this plays into a sci-fi story full of aliens and humans struggling on a far off, frozen ice planet . . . well, that's what you'll just have to wait and see, won't you?

--- Watched "The Hunt for Red October" on glorious Blu-ray over the weekend. It was Lisa's first time seeing the film and, to be honest, my first time in such a very long time that it might as well have been a new experience for me, too! I remember way back in the early 90s when the film first premiered how people complained about the overly complicated and hard-to-follow plot. Which is funny, because by the standards of today's thrillers like the Bourne movies, "Red October" is hardly all that difficult to piece together. And while the special effects of the submarines and underwater guided missiles is very laughable by today's standards, I have to say the movie did not really age all that badly. It actually brought a smile to my face, because I realized how much I'd missed the days when movies were serious and not so "Hollywood-ized" as they are today. "Red October" is a gritty, no-nonsense and brooding political thriller that also happens to be disguising some action-movie tendencies somewhere under its overcoat as well. Not bad.

--- Had a little fun at the expense of others' misfortune this morning. Yes, I'm a bad, bad man who delights (sometimes) when folks leave their houses in the morning totally unprepared for the day's weather. See, when I woke up this morning and saw that skies were leaden and ominous, and heard the heavy rain pattering against my windows, and felt the absolutely chilly winds blowing in . . . I knew to dress for a day of cold, continuous precipitation. But apparently everyone else still wanted it to be Summer really, really bad. I stepped out into the brisk rainy morning on my way to work wearing heavy boots, my light Autumn jacket, and a big ole sturdy umbrella. Everyone else? Short-sleeved shirts, open-toed sandals, and flimsy-looking umbrellas (if they bothered to bring an umbrella at all). So all the way to the subway I see people having veritable fits as they skirt this and that huge puddle, sock-less feet completely drenched, and looking like drowned rats under a relentless October-like rain. Then, as if that wasn't enough, I see these same people shivering and trembling on the number 4 train in to work, because of course the MTA keeps the air-conditioning running full blast inside the subway cars no matter the weather. It was a pathetic sight, I tell ya. Just pathetic. People, you really need to turn the news on in the morning. Or, for fuck's sake, at least stick your damn head out the window before you leave the house. PAY ATTENTION!

--- Been really taken aback by this iPhone book app, iBooks. It's available for the iPad, too, which seemed the more sensible home for such an app. when I first heard about it. I assumed the iPhone's screen was too small to properly enjoy a book on. Not to mention the back-lit brightness factor. But, color me impressed! I'm having no problems reading on my phone on the way to and from work each day. In fact, I now read far more often than I normally get the chance to do, and it's all because I have my iPhone with me wherever I go, anyway. So now I read on the train, on line at the bank, in the movie theater when I'm waiting for my wife to show up -- everywhere! And you can customize the options in so many different ways so that the backlight doesn't put too much strain on your eyes. Since I don't read outdoors like most people, the shininess of the screen has been a non-issue. I only read when I'm indoors, you see. But, yeah, I was already hooked on reading. Now I'm hooked even more, all thanks to iBooks on my iPhone. In my honest opinion, this is better than a dedicated eBook reader or even the iPad, which would only take up room and end up being left behind at home most days. Don't you just love technology?

Well, that's all for this update. Like I said, it's been a slow last couple of days. But, this always happens at this time of year. August is an extremely boring month. No holidays, no anniversaries, no birthdays, no vacations. Just 31 days of sheer nothingness. But starting September, things should get more interesting. I should be in full-on write mode. Lisa and I both have our birthdays. And the weather should start turning a tad cooler and the days shorter as my favorite season arrives. Oh yeah!


  1. Sounds like you've got almost as many distractions in your life as I have, David.

    I did say "almost"...

  2. Yeah, not quite as many as you, Ian. Pirate ship building is definitely not a goal I've set before me -- not unless it involves popsicle sticks and generous amounts of Elmer's glue. And even then . . .


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