In the past 24 hours, I finished the book I've been reading at night, 60 Songs That Explain the '90s (a series of semi-autobiographical essays adapted from a podcast of the same name), the book I've been reading in the bathroom, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (a very in-depth history of the New Hollywood movement of the 1970s), and the video game I've been playing in between, Deathloop (a stealth action sim set in a repeating time singularity).

I hadn't intended that those endings should so neatly coincide; it just sort of happened. I only comment on it because it is kind of unusual. For example, in the time it has taken me to get through Easy Riders, I also finished the books Three Rocks: The Story of Earnie Bushmiller the Man Who Created Nancy, The Quality [Comics] Companion, and Surely You Can't Be Serious: The True Story of Airplane (as well as the video games Marvel's Midnight Suns, Psychonauts 2, and Portal 2).

And, of course, none of that counts the movies I've been watching and rewatching, including such classics as The Bad News Bears, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and The Thin Man.

What can I say? I like to stay entertained.

The big question now is what will I be reading next? I've had Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania on my bedside table for months now, but I think I'm going to start These Are the Voyages: TOS Season 1 instead because I always need more classic Star Trek. (Thanks, Cam!)

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How much is a canine tooth going for on the black market these days?

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Happy Belated 3rd Birthday, Henry!

Henry's having a ball

His birthday is April 17. His present was a pizza party. (Henry loves pizza more than he loves playing ball.) He's an adult dog now, so I didn't make him wear a hat. That would have been undignified.

I was skeptical when I got him, but there's definitely a reason both Mom and Dad call him "The Good One." Thanks for (usually) living up to your reputation, Henry.

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Eleven years ago, "friend" Keith predicted that my then-new DC Bullet tire cover would outlast the Jeep. I'm happy to report that he was wrong.

The Jeep is still going strong, and it's time to unveil this decade's tire cover!

To be fair to Keith, these days it's not so much a *spare* tire as some uninflatable rubber I lug around

Yeah, it's still black and white and red all over. When you find a color scheme that works, why change it?

As for that new url, try it yourself: wriphe.com/poodles

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27/2338. Guns Akimbo (2019)
Daniel Radcliffe's choice of offbeat roles continues to delight. He adds necessary empathy to this pretty dumb action film about a man who trolled the wrong guy on the Internet and ended up with guns bolted to his hands in an underground Mortal Kombat-style tournament. I look forward to where I might bump into Radcliffe next.

28/2339. Dear White People (2014)
As if you couldn't tell from the title alone, this is a very pointed comedic satire of race relations in the stuffier upper-echelons of higher education. It recognizes that there are no easy answers to society's stickier problems, which means the ending may not be the most satisfying. But it's certainly worth a watch.

29/2340. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023)
This, on the other hand, should be watched by no one. To say that this is not my Aquaman is an understatement; I honestly hope it is no one's Aquaman. True story: I turned off the tv at the 2/3 mark when the bad guys killed Aquaman's father and kidnapped his baby because I thought that was the ending this movie deserved. Blech.

30/2341. Bangkok Dangerous (2008)
Nick Cage plays a cold-blooded assassin who can't keep his personal and professional lives apart as a job goes sideways in guess where. It's not great, but compared to Aquaman.... Damn, I hated Aquaman.

31/2342. A Little Romance (1979)
An antidote to bad action movies! This is a gentle coming-of-age romantic comedic adventure of two adolescents in Paris (and Venice) that any fan of Wes Anderson films will love. I sure did.

More to come.

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As is usual this time of year, our power went out in yesterday's storm at 10:12PM. The first notice from the power company estimated a restoration by 1:15AM. After they missed that deadline, they said 4:30. Then they said 6:30. They did finally get it back on... at 11:30AM.

I get it; they were busy. It was a blustery night, after all. And mine was the only outage in my county, whereas there were many counties to my north fairing much, much worse. But if you know you're going to be busy helping others, can you at least give me better estimates, Georgia Power?

I've gotten used to these sorts of long-duration springtime power outages over the years. What made this one a little more annoying than usual was that I had just made the mistake of putting all my pillowcases in the washing machine just before the power failure, so I didn't have any pillows to sleep on during the long, dark night. (You don't think I'm going to put my head on a pillow without a case, do you? Ye, gods!)

Dad said that the lesson I should take away from this experience is that from now on, I should never wash all of my pillowcases in one load. I hate to say it, but he's probably right.

Don't expect me to say that again, Dad.

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Louis is only 2-and-a-half; at this rate, he might live to see two more eclipses!

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A timely excerpt from Mark Twain's
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)
Chapter VI, "The Eclipse"

As the soldiers assisted me across the court the stillness was so profound that if I had been blindfold I should have supposed I was in a solitude instead of walled in by four thousand people. There was not a movement perceptible in those masses of humanity; they were as rigid as stone images, and as pale; and dread sat upon every countenance. This hush continued while I was being chained to the stake; it still continued while the fagots were carefully and tediously piled about my ankles, my knees, my thighs, my body.

Then there was a pause, and a deeper hush, if possible, and a man knelt down at my feet with a blazing torch; the multitude strained forward, gazing, and parting slightly from their seats without knowing it; the monk raised his hands above my head, and his eyes toward the blue sky, and began some words in Latin; in this attitude he droned on and on, a little while, and then stopped. I waited two or three moments; then looked up; he was standing there petrified.

With a common impulse the multitude rose slowly up and stared into the sky. I followed their eyes, as sure as guns, there was my eclipse beginning! The life went boiling through my veins; I was a new man! The rim of black spread slowly into the sun’s disk, my heart beat higher and higher, and still the assemblage and the priest stared into the sky, motionless. I knew that this gaze would be turned upon me, next. When it was, I was ready. I was in one of the most grand attitudes I ever struck, with my arm stretched up pointing to the sun. It was a noble effect. You could see the shudder sweep the mass like a wave. Two shouts rang out, one close upon the heels of the other:

"Apply the torch!"

"I forbid it!"

The one was from Merlin, the other from the king. Merlin started from his place—to apply the torch himself, I judged. I said:

"Stay where you are. If any man moves—even the king—before I give him leave, I will blast him with thunder, I will consume him with lightnings!"

The multitude sank meekly into their seats, and I was just expecting they would. Merlin hesitated a moment or two, and I was on pins and needles during that little while. Then he sat down, and I took a good breath; for I knew I was master of the situation now. The king said:

"Be merciful, fair sir, and essay no further in this perilous matter, lest disaster follow. It was reported to us that your powers could not attain unto their full strength until the morrow; but—"

"Your Majesty thinks the report may have been a lie? It was a lie."

That made an immense effect; up went appealing hands everywhere, and the king was assailed with a storm of supplications that I might be bought off at any price, and the calamity stayed. The king was eager to comply. He said:

"Name any terms, reverend sir, even to the halving of my kingdom; but banish this calamity, spare the sun!"

My fortune was made. I would have taken him up in a minute, but I couldn’t stop an eclipse; the thing was out of the question. So I asked time to consider. The king said:

"Ah, too bad. Oh, well, if'n we can't have the sun, we can at least have a barbecue. Light 'im up, lads."

Reaching up one sleeve, Merlin produced a wand. Reaching into the other, the magician revealed a bag of marshmallows. Piercing one with the other, he asked:

"S'mores, anyone?"

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Cecilia update:

Practicing her puppy-dog eyes

Every day (weather permitting) at about 4:30 PM (give or take), I take my boys over to her house and they play ball in the yard for a half hour or so. More specifically, my boys play ball. Ceci just loves to chase Louis and bite at Henry's legs. The boys are generally very tolerant of the puppy (much more so than I would be), and a good time is had by all.

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A random thought while doing the dishes: Why is unwise a word but unsmart isn't?

Unsmart does not appear in the dictionary on my desk, my trusty Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary Unabridged (which I still deep into the 21st century because I don't want to grow up, I'll always be a 20th-century kid). Unwise is also nowhere to be seen in either The American Heritage Dictionary, 2nd College Edition we keep upstairs or my copy of The Official Scrabble® Players Dictionary, Second Edition. If it's not in the Scrabble® Dictionary, it's not a real word.

However, the Internet has never cared about reality. Merriam-Webster online recognizes "unsmart" as meaning exactly what you would think it means (i.e. "not smart"), but their example for how to use the word comes from the October 18, 2022 issue of Elle magazine:

Tweets swimming reports from Barton Springs pool; carries an unsmart phone so as not to be distracted by the internet; has lived in France; and read Anna Karenina in 16 hours.

So in this case unsmart means essentially landline. That's nothing like unwise (in word or deed).

Elsewhere, the online Oxford English Dictionary also has an entry for unsmart, going so far as to quote itself when it says "OED's earliest evidence for unsmart is from before 1500, in the writing of Robert Henryson, poet." Curiously, that citation is absent from the Online Etymology Dictionary, but I looked up The Complete Works of Henryson at the University of Rochester's Robbins Library and did find this in the "Prologue" of his 1480s work Fables, lines 22-25:

For as we se, ane bow that ay is bent
Worthis unsmart and dullis on the string
Sa dois the mynd that ay is diligent
In ernistfull thochtis and in studying.

As you can see, that is not English. (Henryson wrote like what he was: a Scotsman.) It's Middle English, where smart had nothing to do with intelligence but a "stinging, sharp pain." In other words, in this case unsmart is akin to relax. I wouldn't say that's unwise either.

So call someone dumb, but don't call them unsmart lest you sound stupid.

Next time: Why is uncharismatic a word but unfortitudinous isn't? Actually, wait. No, this one makes sense. Never mind.

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To be continued...

 

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