Saturday, April 29, 2006

Dinner at The Melting Pot

Yesterday was Lisa's birthday. So we celebrated by going to The Melting Pot here in Greensboro. It's a fondue restaurant where you get a 3-course meal fixated around the... well, a melting pot in the center of the table. Appetizer was a selection of bread and fruit that got dipped into a creamy cheddar cheese concoction. The main course was the "Ultimate Sampler" of various meats (chicken, tenderloin, lobster, shrimp, salmon) done in "fondue court bouillon" cooking style. And after that was an incredibly tasty chocolate fondue (the "Pure Chocolate" selection from the menu, we chose to use milk chocolate). It being Lisa's birthday the staff had a vase with some roses and balloons waiting for her at the table. Later on they took a great picture of the two of us together and by the end of the meal had presented it to us in a really nice frame.

The Melting Pot has locations all across the United States, definitely worth checking out. The price is a little on the steep side and maybe it's too much for a casual dinner, but for special occassions and times when you feel like doing something a little different, it's certainly worth going to and enjoying a different dining experience.

Oh yeah, last night was the first time I ever drank a martini. Lisa had one too. Hers tasted like apple and mine had a definite chocolate flavor to it, and then my taste buds felt like kerosene had been poured onto my tongue. We ended up switching drinks. And now I get to finally say that I've had a martini at least once in my life :-)

Friday, April 28, 2006

A thing of beauty

Two gallons (one already in use) of Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q Sauce. We always bring a gallon or two (or three) of the stuff on our way back from Lisa's family in Georgia. Of all the barbecue concoctions I've had over the years - and there've been plenty - Williamson Bros. sauce stands out as my favorite. Having an ample supply of the stuff in our kitchen is such a glorious thing.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Same car used to deliver pizza and corpses

This is just too weird to not post here. Here's the story from The Smoking Gun:
Stiffs And Slices
Domino's delivery man transported pizza, corpses in same car

APRIL 27--In what will surely repulse Pennsylvanians, a Domino's delivery man used a car to transport corpses to funeral parlors when he wasn't using the vehicle to bring pies and Cheesy Bread to pizza enthusiasts. Last Friday, a Lower Southampton Township Police Department officer pulled over a 1993 Buick after noticing the vehicle did not have an inspection sticker. Additionally, William Bethel, 24, was driving with a suspended license, so cops informed him that the vehicle was going to be impounded. According to a police report, a copy of which you'll find below, when officers began taking an inventory of the station wagon, they noticed a stretcher in the rear of the vehicle (along with rubbish and wet clothing) where "pizzas were sitting to be delivered." Asked about the items, Bethel explained that when he finished delivering Domino's pizzas, "he transports deceased bodies in the same vehicle for a funeral home." A police check with local health officials determined that the use of the car for stiffs and slices did not violate county ordinances. Bethel, who was not arrested, is facing $400 in fines for driving with a suspended license and operating a vehicle without an inspection certificate. The station wagon is registered to Carl Delia, owner of a so-called removal service that delivers dead bodies to Philadelphia-area funeral homes.

So I wonder: if the corpse isn't delivered in 30 minutes or less, does that mean the next funeral is free?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It's "The 6-6-Sims"! More from the Left Behind franchise

Last year I posted a rant about the Left Behind books, and how it was becoming too much of a franchise. Some people said it might be one of the best (and funniest) things I've written here so far. In that screed I wondered why it is that Left Behind needs so many books to tell one story across seven years: Harry Potter needs only seven to tell his story for the same amount of time. One of the commenters to the article said it best: "16 full length books. Didn't John of Patmos accomplis the task in 22 chapters?" Those sixteen books include the "core" twelve novels, a book taking place a thousand years later and a prequel trilogy... the last of which comes out this June Sixth. So on 6-6-06 we'll not only have The Omen remake but The Rapture.

Oh yeah, and there's also the "young adults" books (about three dozen of those) and two series about the political and military action going on during the time of the main books.

And that still isn't enough! Check this out...

This is a screenshot from Left Behind: Eternal Forces, a real-time strategy game coming out soon. Here's the game's description that's on its official website:
Wage a war of apocalyptic proportions in LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces - a real-time strategy game based upon the best-selling LEFT BEHIND book series created by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Join the ultimate fight of Good against Evil, commanding Tribulation Forces or the Global Community Peacekeepers, and uncover the truth about the worldwide disappearances!

· Lead the Tribulation Force from the book series , including Rayford, Chloe, Buck and Bruce against Nicolae Carpathia – the AntiChrist.

· Conduct physical & spiritual warfare : using the power of prayer to strengthen your troops in combat and wield modern military weaponry throughout the game world.

· Recover ancient scriptures and witness spectacular Angelic and Demonic activity as a direct consequence of your choices.

· Command your forces through intense battles across a breathtaking, authentic depiction of New York City.

· Control more than 30 units types - from Prayer Warrior and Hellraiser to Spies, Special Forces and Battle Tanks!

· Enjoy a robust single player experience across dozens of New York City maps in Story Mode – fighting in China Town , SoHo , Uptown and more!

· Play multiplayer games as Tribulation Force or the AntiChrist's Global Community Peacekeepers with up to eight players via LAN or over the internet!

This is the one that cracks me up: "Conduct physical & spiritual warfare : using the power of prayer to strengthen your troops in combat and wield modern military weaponry throughout the game world."

I'm sorry, but this is just... wrong. It's like The Sims with a dark side or something.

I think they should scrap this RTS-style game and make Left Behind into a massively-multiplayer online role-playing game. For fifteen bucks a month you could run around the world playing some poor "lost" dude and do things like taking the Mark of the Beast without ever having to worry about automatic damnation. Maybe Sony Online Entertainment could run it: they've already shown they can destroy entire worlds like Star Wars and The Matrix :-P

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Star Wars Celebration III... one year later

It was this weekend last year, April 21-24 of 2005, when Star Wars Celebration III was underway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Lisa and I packed up my car and left Greensboro, NC around 6:30 the night before the festivities began. We drove through some crazy countryside (Ohio seemed to go on forever) but about noon local time the next day, we made it. We were there for all four days of the events and had a rollickin' good time. Can't believe it's been a year already.

Well, I meant to post some of the pictures we took while we were there not long after we got back. Lots of things happened between then and now and the best I was able to do was post some photos that proved we were really there. But now with the anniversary, and having a little time today to do it, I thought it might be a good time to post a lot more. Be warned: this is going to be pretty graphic-intensive...


The main hallway of the Indianapolis Convention Center. This picture is really just one small part of everything that was going on.



That's Deborah, a really good friend (and master costumer/jewelry-maker) from Texas, with Lisa and me.


Lisa with the Darth Vader costume used in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

This being a Star Wars convention, naturally there were many people who came in costume...










I swear, there must have been a dozen or so ladies walking around wearing the "Leia metal bikini"...
Wherever a Slave Leia was at, she stopped traffic and all the guys wrestled into a good spot to take pictures of her.

These next two were undoubtedly some of my favorite costumes of the thing. Here's a guy who dressed up as the original 1977 Luke Skywalker Action Figure released by Kenner (even the backside of it was printed like the original, and check out his "lightsaber")...



And then there was this guy, the "Janitor-trooper"...

This next guy may be at a convention devoted to a whole 'nother genre, but his costume is aces...
I liked what was in the exhibition hall, even though it didn't seem as good as the one from 2002. The LEGO area was definitely one of the best places of the entire convention. Check these out...

Get a load of this all-LEGO Chewbacca!
This next one is kinda ironic: there's a line in Forcery where it's mentioned that Jar Jar Binks got frozen in carbonite. Well, someone went and actually DID that!

Now, this next picture requires some explanation. On the morning of April 22nd, there was a near-riot that broke out at Celebration III regarding the collectibles store. Star Wars Fan Club guests were supposed to be allowed in an hour or so earlier than the general public. Although I was a member, Lisa and I didn't get in until an hour and a half after general admission started. Well, about the time I got to the doors of the store the guy in the center of the photo came out and said that they were closing the store down for the day, after only being open for an hour and a half! Supposedly it was the fire marshal that made them do it. No one knows for sure exactly what the deal was...
This, more than anything else, is why I believed then - and still believe - that Celebration III wasn't as well organized as Celebration II had been in 2002. The '02 convention was just about as perfect an event as you could probably have. I think the reason for that is because in 2002 it was Lucasfilm themselves that was managing everything. For '05, they farmed-out the running of the thing to Gen Con LLC. Gen Con runs role-playing game conventions, not serious sci-fi/fantasy conventions. So much disaster happened at C3 because of their foul-ups. From what I've heard, it was so bad that the last day and a half or so of C3 the Lucasfilm guys saw what was happening and started taking more direct control of everything. I do believe that things were better from Saturday morning on. But next time they have a Celebration I hope that they learn from the mistakes of this one. Having more than one convention store is one idea, with a lot more stock.

By the way, I was finally able to get into the store on Sunday morning, and got to buy four of the last of the limited-edition Celebration III Darth Vader figures. In addition to a few other souvenirs. But I ain't kidding: when the Gen Con guys came out Friday morning and announced they were closing for the day, you could feel the rank anger focused on them from the fans. It honestly surprised me that it didn't come to physical violence. Lucasfilm, if you ever read this, PLEASE run the next Celebration by yourselves. Gen Con plainly wasn't up to the challenge.

Here's Yoda, on display in the Lucasfilm Archive room:


One of the biggest highlights of the event was the live appearance of the creator of Star Wars himself, Mr. George Lucas. We got into the second session (of three) that he did with an audience. We got fairly close to him, though you can't really tell that from how dark it was in the auditorium:



That's Rick McCallum on Lucas's right, and master of ceremonies Jay Laga'aia (Captain Typho from the Star Wars prequels).

Whew!! So may pictures, and so little space to put them in. It was a year ago to day that we got to see George Lucas in person... can't believe it's been that long already. Maybe I'll post these with Flickr or something eventually. Hopefully before the rumored Celebration IV next year.

And, that was our trip! Which we both enjoyed and I think it helped Lisa: my wife is now at peace in the knowledge that however "far out" her husband is with Star Wars, that there are many, many others who are way more worse than he :-P

Saturday, April 22, 2006

At Stone Mountain

Lisa and I visited Stone Mountain in Georgia a week ago. We checked out a lot of stuff and then stuck around to watch the laser show that they do on the side of the mountain every night this time of year.

Gas prices in Greensboro, North Carolina

These were taken just today:

These prices averaged about twenty cents cheaper about a week and a half ago. There's at least one station that is selling gas at $3.09.

The oil company execs claim there's no price gouging going on. They're saying they aren't out to exploit any situation. They want you to believe that they're as helpless as the rest of us are when it comes to the price of gasoline.

So earlier this week Exxon-Mobil's board of execs vote to give a $400 million retirement package to this man:


Lee Raymond, CEO of Exxon-Mobil
$400 million... that's more than any Powerball lotto I've ever heard of.

It wouldn't surprise me if we saw $4.00 gasoline and up by the end of this summer. Definitely gonna skyrocket if President Bush ("The Decider") attacks Iran.

Heck, it wouldn't surprise me in the least bit if he did attack, just to "help out" his old oil buddies.

Bill O'Reilly has a good article today about all this.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Thursday, April 20, 2006

KWerky Productions website is back up!


Ed (the co-founder of KWerky Productions) has spent the past few days working to bring our website up. He did all of that, plus all the things that come with him getting married just 11 days from now :-) Anyhoo, KWerky Productions is officially legit (again) now that we've got two movies under our belt and currently working on a bigger project.

Here's the address if you want to go to it manually: www.kwerkyproductions.com.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

40 days or so later...

The season of Lent is 40 days, counting from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday. But that's only figuring in every day during this period except Sundays, so from between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday there is about an extra week that doesn't figure in Lent. On those Sundays, you can technically get away with partaking of whatever it was that you vowed to abstain from during Lent.

Lent is very much a Catholic tradition. It being that I'm not Catholic, I've never done anything for Lent before. Lisa did it once when she was in college. She says the experience was a good one for her. So I decided to give it a whirl.

I gave up on blogging for Lent, starting with March 1st, including not breaking my "fast" on Sundays. I wanted to use this opportunity to focus more on God and what He wants me to do. But I also wanted to step away from active online writing altogether. Having a blog is a lot of fun, but I needed to take a break from that. And what energy I've spent continuously writing here is energy that’s been kept away from other pursuits. I wanted to focus on those things, without the distraction that comes from actively maintaining a blog.

So here it is, a few days after Easter, and I'm finally blogging once more. And I can't help but believe that it was a wonderful experience to sacrifice something I really enjoy doing during these past 40+ days. I feel renewed, and a lot more creative. Almost like a new man. Giving up an activity I enjoy these past few weeks really compelled me to channel whatever passion and ability I have into more constructive endeavors.

One of those is my next film. Which has sorta been percolating in my head for several years now. It won't be a Star Wars fanfilm like Forcery was. I'm going to attempt to do something that, to the best of my knowledge, only one other person has done in filmmaking. Right now it’s the "pre-production phase", where I take a look at all the elements that I want to work into this, and how to use them. This is going to be a full-length motion picture... or an attempt at one anyway. I've set a goal of having this movie ready by the end of next year. There is a title for it, have made a concept "teaser" poster for it, and I've already written the beginning and ending scenes. Now I just have to figure out how to cram all this other neat stuff into it. I'll talk about this some more after a lot more pre-production work gets done.

(Well, there is this one other film, a short one, that I finished last week. But I'll share more about that in a few weeks, after we "world premiere" it on television on May 1st. Right after that we'll make the online versions available :-)

So if anyone had wondered where I was, it was just that I vowed not to blog for Lent, and now I get to say that I was able to do that. But one result of this period is that I'm probably not going to be blogging so actively for awhile to come. Like I said, other things need consideration as well. But I do promise that I'll try to keep this place interesting, thought-provoking, and of course a good healthy dose of humor.

Will write more later. There's been a whole month-and-a-half stuff going on that I can weigh in with commentary on, and I need to catch up :-)