Saturday, December 31, 2005

Next!

The only kind of axe this wyrm wants to see
Should auld aquaintance be forgot...Boy, I wish I could forget some of the stuff that happened in 2005. From Schiavo to Sheehan, it's been rough.

And that, kiddies, is about as political as I am going to get. :D

Okay, while Howlin' Smaug serenades us with a smokin' rendition of Clifton Chenier's I'm A Hog For You Baby let's look back: another year in the same house and we actually are trying to keep it in good repair. We still have April and my grandson Gage with us, which I consider a blessing. Becky and I hit the big five year mark with our marriage which I consider an achievement (for me at least). We both toured northern New Mexico which I enjoyed but it was a mixed blessing for Becky (still don't know why).

My DVD collection also has swollen: 2005 saw me acquiring (deep breath) Batman: The Animated Series Volume 1&2, The Bela Lugosi Collection, The Best of Bud Abbot and Costello Volumes 1-4, Beyond The Sea, Bob Clampett's Beany and Cecil, Brain Donors, The Castle of Cagliostro, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, two versions of A Christmas Carol, A Face in The Crowd, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Criterion) (again), Fractured Flickers: The Complete Collection, Freaks, The Front Page, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Incredibles, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 3, The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection, My Darling Clemintine, Napoleon Dynamite, National Treasure, The Producers, Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends Season 3, Slacker (Criterion), The Sting, The Tales of Hoffman (Criterion), Top Secret!, The Truman Show, The Val Lewton Horror Collection, Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald Volume 2, Walt Disney Treasures: Disney Rarities, Wizards and a whole buttload of Fox Film Noirs.

Oh yeah, 2005 will be remembered as The Year Smokestack Got Off His Duff And Wrote A Novel. As part of November's National Novel Writing Month, I came out of it with a nice, fun fantasy tale. Now to rewrite...

Still with me? Good. Now Smokestack's bad stuff of 2005:

The main pain was my older stepson going ballistic, attempting to beat me up and taking off to Dallas. The guy just didn't get the fact that staying out drinking, doing drugs and philandering while his girl and son were staying at home with us was not the way to run your life. The best thing coming out of this is he's been prospering in Dallas and is ready to come back. From what I've seen he's improved enough where I can give him the benefit of the doubt, but I'm going to make it quite clear to him that after this I'm out of cheeks to turn. We shall see...

As I've said before, Becky's Ru-N-Y has been quite traumatic for her. She's gradually getting better and I'm hoping she gets where she wants to be weight and health-wise. At least that's what I pray for.

And then there's my teeth. Or I should say my former teeth. I'm finally in a position where the dentures are comfortable. Now it's a matter of being able to eat withouthaving my uppers and lowers flopping around in my mouth. Someone pass the Poly-Grip...

DVD Bummers: I won Kinsey from DVD Verdict. Not a bad film, just not all that great. Guess I'll be trading that soon.
The last pain of 2005: someone ripped me off, taking my copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Criterion). Only the second time it happened for that title. I guess the lesson learned is: don't buy that title.

Okay, let's cool down a bit. I'm looking forward to 2006, but I'll discuss that next time. In the meantime I hope everyone has a Happy new Year and I'll see you on the other side.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Whoa! Christmas!

Training another generation of moiegoer
Haven't updated in a while, so let's do a catch-up:

Becky had her Ru-N-Y and, after some really rough recuperating, she's doing fine. She's lost about 50 pounds so far and I'm proud of her.

Next big news: new teeth. Yup, I got 'em. A full set. It's been rough the first month with mouth sores, learning to chew all over again, etc., but I persevered and now I'm more or less used to them. I finally got that dazzling smile I've always wanted. Now time to make a New Year's resolution to get healthy and lose some poundage. Gotta look good fer my smile...

BTW, the other Resolution is to update this blog regularly. I like to hear myself write.

I completed the NaNoMo competition in Novenmber so I'm now the proud owner of a novel: The Lumpers: When The Fat Orc Sings, a Hard-Boiled Fantasy. After the first of the year I'll have a go at editing it to see if I can actually get something publishable out of the mess. I also made some new friends doing it.

It was pretty uneventful going into the latter half of 2005. Halloween and Thanksgiving flew by (although I had to work on Turkey-Day, as I did on Christmas and will on New Year's). Gage, as usual, is a joy and blast to have living here. He's not quite gotten the idea behind Christmas but he does know it involves getting presents. He'll probably understand the Jesus and Santa notions next time. In the meantime he was overjoyed to get a new bed shaped like a firetruck (but he has yet to sleep in it - I think he thinks it's only for playing in).

As for my swag, I got a nice acoustic guitar from Becky and she got a jumbo George Foreman Grill from me (something I don't think she was too thrilled about; it was something she wanted, but she really wanted a sewing machine - however, she kept waffling on it so I went the safe route). The guitar was so's I could entertain Gage, who likes music in general and gui-tars in particular. Now comes the practice...


No DVDs under the tree this year. Surprised? I was too, but not disappointed, as I've pretty much got all the titles I really wanted this year (aside from The Val Lewton Horror Collection I told you about last time, my final planned purchases were the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 3 and two of the Walt Disney Treasures series: The Chronological Donald Volume 2 and Disney Rarities) so anything else was gravy. However, I found my collection woefully sparse as far as Christmas films were concerned. I rectified the problem by purchasing two versions of A Christmas Carol (the George C. Scott and Patrick Stewart versions - still can't find a copy of Albert Finney's Scrooge in retail shops) along with How The Grinch Stole Christmas (the Chuck Jones version) for Gage. That, along with a blind-buy of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory concluded my DVD buying for the year. I'll elaborate on what I'm looking forward to in 2006 in my next entry.

Oh yeah, I still got fifty bucks from my mom I need to spend. It'll probably be either the Aeon Flux box set or The Ed Wood Box. I'm leaning towards Ed Wood (I've long been wanting to add it the collection), but the other one looks mighty nice. Decisions, decisions...

Friday, October 07, 2005

Of Cat People and Cabman Grey or Write, Damn You!

We'll meet again on Thriller
Hoo boy. Got my mitts on The Val Lewton Horror Collection. All nine of the horror films Val produced at RKO, including three of Boris Karloff's best performances and some of the best early work by directors Jaques Tourneur, Robert Wise and Mark Robson. The set also includes a nice documentary with interviews from the likes of Harlan Ellison, Robert Wise, Ramsey Campbell, George Romero and Richard Matheson among others. Included is two personal favorites of mine (The Body Snatcher and Bedlam). Just in time for Halloween, too. Here's the Amazon link (no I'm not afilliated either Amazon or WB). If you're a classic film and/or classic horror fan you owe it to yourself to get this set. Worth it for the Karloffs alone. Elsewhere, I dood it. I committed myself (no, not that kind). I guess this blogging went to my head because I signed up to write a novel at the National Novel Writing Month website. Here's the way it works: you sign up starting in October and you start writing November 1st. You have until November 30th to write 50,000 words (approximately 175 pages, the size of a novella). If you make the deadline, you win. Win what, you say? Well, first off you get, uh, well...here's what it says in the FAQ: Write like crazy for thirty days. If you write 50,000 words of fiction by midnight, local time, November 30th, you will be added to our hallowed Winner'’s Page, and receive a handsome winnerĂ‚’s certificate and web icon. The adding of your name to the Honor Roll of Winners requires that you send in a version of your novel in text format (scrambled for security) to our site to be counted. That's about it. You write like crazy. Don't matter if it's good, bad or ugly. Don't matter if it's not finished after 50,000 words. You don't even have to win. The point is, you tried. I, who doesn't even like to sign my name, think it looks like fun (we'll see). Anyone else wanna try, you can sign up at the website. It's free, too. If you do it, remember, you can plan, outline whatever you want before Novembe1st but you cannot start writing before November 1st. That's all for now. More interesting stuff later.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Marty vs. The Geek

Looks like Shemp on a bender...
Hey it's Tuesday. Just like Monday . Go figure.

Last night, after a stimulating exchange of messages on DVD Verdict, I got the urge to watch Nightmare Alley, a great film noir. It's got everything: carneys, con-men, double-crossing dames, a neat morality play and Tyrone Power as a carnival geek. What more could you ask for? It comes Highly Recommended by me. Money in the bank, man.

Anyway, for some reason I don't understand, I ended up watching Marty. A great film, but a 180 from Nightmare Alley. I dunno what happened. Instead of a classic noir full of shady people and morality, I watch a heartwarming tale of a lonely butcher finding love.

I thought about it today, how my mind gravitated toward Marty. I've always loved the story. I also have it on VHS, along with a tape of the original TV production starring Rod Steiger. I've always said that if there's a stage version being done somewhere, I wanna do it. Then it occurred to me I mentioned it on DVD Verdict, as film that deserved a better release on DVD. That, combined with me being alone in the house probably contributed to it.

Thinking a little deeper in my brain (which a lot of times amounts to a Major Dig), I wondered why that story resonated so strongly in me. Probably because that epitomized my dating experiences when I was single (in all it's incarnations). It also seems that I'm not alone in that identification (it did win Best Picture in '55 after all). A lot if guys (and not a few gals) saw themselves in that film, even today. This, IMO, is the meaning of the universality of film. How worldwide, folks like me can see the story for what it is, no matter where it takes place or what time period it is set in. The feelings are real. To me, it meant a reaffirmation of why I like Movies.

So the geek was put on hold. The Bronx Butcher was my hero for the night.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Picture Time

Almost 3-D, too!
Here's an interesting one from the archives. Early Lojak, done by me. Enjoy.

It's All Downhill From Here, Folks

Weeeell, it's Monday. Got the stuff for my surgery out of the way, got a load of laundry in, now I can write. Then draw, right Smokestack? Yes Inner Me (who I refer to as Lil' Smokestack). Becky (Mrs. Smokestack) read the previous entry and got all mushy (although she was slightly miffed that I announced her weight for all the world to see). Ah, it's Good To Be King... Let's see, what else is going on? I should have a new copy of Mutants and Masterminds, Second Edition in my mitts by the end of the week, something I'm really looking forward to. I'm also looking forward to converting the few characters I have over to M&M 2nd Ed. Now if I can only find an M&M game, preferably one I don't have to GM. Farther afield, Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 3 is due out at the end of the month. I'll snap that up, of course. And around December I should have a couple more tins of the Walt Disney Treasures collection. That, aside from maybe one or two surprises, should wrap up my DVD buying for the year. Speaking of December, Becky goes into the hospital for her Ru-N-Y stomach surgery on November 24th and on December 1st Yours Truly will be in hospital (outpatient - thank you Lord) for the extraction of my teeth. Yes, Smokestack The Toothless will emerge with bright shiny new dentures. My plan is to wear them for at least a year (gotta get those puppies paid off) then it's teeth implants for me. Believe it or not, I'm actually looking forward to this, as it'll be the first time I've ever had straight teeth. Worth the trouble, if ya ask me. On the Creative Front, I submitted a D&D critter (The Moobit) to the Wanderer's Guild last week. It's for posting on the site. Trevis and I collaborated on it. Hopefully I'll see it up this week, as a lot of WG folks have been asking about it. It also looks like I'll be going to the GAMA Trade Show in March. I'm gonna be part of the 3AM Games group and will be hawking the WG's new book Explorers Of All: The Wanderer's Guild Guide to The Wanderer's Guild, which I got to be one of the coordinators (I was the Monster Wrangler). It's in Vegas and I'm really looking forward to seeing how much has changed (last time I went there was 1977). Wow. I guess I had more on my mind than I thought. Gotta go do the dishes. More interesting stuff later...

Sunday, October 02, 2005

About My Little Sweetie

Lemme tell ya about Becky. We're coming to our 5th anniversary, known each other for about 6 years. My Little Sweetie's 5' 10", 284 pounds (yes, I know and watch yer mouth - I'm 6-6 and 340 lb., so she's My Little Sweetie). Her hair is white, turned prematurely gray (through what she's had to put up with over the last 6 years, no doubt). She has twinkly blue eyes, a sweet smile and a gentle disposition. She also drives me crazy.

We have acknowledged that we have little in common - I'm a Gamer, she's a Christian (well, I am too, but as a former Catholic, it has made me quite a cynical Christian). She likes family, I don't mind family, but I'm more inclined to like my friends. She's from here (Oklahoma), I'm from SoCal. She's Conservative, I'm a Former Liberal currently a Moderate (I take what I want and leave the rest - like your salad bar). So, we have problems finding common ground. Fortunately it doesn't get in the way in day-to-day things, but it rears it's ugly head occasionally.

One thing that we're somewhat opposed on is that she's a Practical, Common-Sense Person, I'm a Dreamer and Recovering Stupid Person (I'm not really stupid but I've been doing a real good imitation for so long - for survival/coping reasons - it's a hard road). That gets in the way bigtime occasionally. I also don't always see the use in arguing most of the time. As a result, she gets frustrated with my way of "arguing."

These things are not the reason she drives me crazy.

She drives me crazy because she still loves me and I don't understand why. I know why I love her. Aside from the fact that she helped me when I was at one of the lowest points of my life, always encourages me even though I don't feel worthy of it and, despite the above, joins me on ventures that she obviously is not interested in, I love her touch, her voice, her smile, her caring, the fact that she's a wonderful bedmate and several other things I can't put into words right now.

But the one grievance, the one nitpick, the one thing that drives me crazy about Becky is that, my opinion of myself, my self-esteem and my faults is pretty low but she sees. She sees something deep down inside me that's good and right. Something I'm unable to see. Something I just can't wrap my brain around.

And she loves me for it.

That's what drives me crazy about Rebecca Jane. And I thank God for it.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Breakdown Cruise

Well, here we are. If the page looks different from time-to-time that's because I'm still trying things to see what I can live with.

Anyway, here I am. My real name's Glen and I'm stuck in a Sooner State. Those who live there know what I mean so for the rest, it means I'm unfortunate enough to live in Okalhoma City, OK. Yet it also seems to be a State Of Mind, something I try to avoid (I'm from SoCal and Don't You Forget It! :D ). The feeling has a few facets to it, one of which usually revolves around Football, OU/OSU Football to be exact. Now anyone who knows me knows I Hate Sports of any kind so having to deal with these obnoxious truck drivin' people takes a certain amount of finesse. On top of that , I work for Renda Broadcasting, specifically Talk Radio 1520 KOKC-AM as Weekend Honcho. Usually that involves running various pre-recorded syndicated conservative talk shows but now it's Football Season, something else I get to deal with. Fortunately, a co-worker runs all the Sooner Football games, so I handle the Coach's Show and the Moore Lions (HS) Football games. It also gives me most of Saturday off which, while it hits the wallet, I can relax with my family on the weekend.

Looking back on this it seems to be turning into a rant. Time to take a break.

More later. Stay tuned...