Halloween Surprises

Last year, for my division’s Halloween potluck, my wife kindly volunteered to make kitty litter cake; it’s basically white cake and spice cake crumbled up together with vanilla pudding, but it’s the Tootsie Rolls — microwaved for a few seconds and hand shaped — that really make it. It was a big hit in my division.

This year, Jennifer volunteered to make cat poop cookies; basically chocolate cookies which are rolled into little logs and placed in a bed of Grape Nuts and served with a litter scoop. They weren’t as big a hit as the kitty litter cake, but I don’t think anyone was outright offended by them.

But it was during the awards portion of the division Halloween party that I got my biggest surprise: the quarterly PEER award, which stands for “Professionals Earning Employee Recognition”. It’s essentially an “Employee of the Quarter” award, and there’s a rather complicated process of nominations and review involved in getting the award. It was pretty cool. It’s nice to feel appreciated.

I really enjoy my job, because I feel like I’m actually accomplishing something and it’s always challenging. There are times when I wish for more variety, but no job is perfect.

Anyway. It was a good day. And now there’s one hour left until National Novel Writing Month starts.

Another Zombie Entry

I’ve barely done any writing at all over the past couple of weeks. In fact, I don’t think I’ve written more than a few words since I finished up “Joe’s Salvation”. It’s not that I’m giving up on writing or anything; quite the contrary. I’ve decided that I just wanted to step back, take a breather or two, think about what I want to do with my writing and where I want to go, and just sort of relax before diving nose first into NaNoWriMo.

During that time, I’ve been working hard on my website; those of you who ever swing by my front page may have noticed a few changes; I’ve developed a whole new theme engine which is date-driven, so that when November 1 rolls around, the theme will switch from my Halloween theme to my NaNoWriMo theme. When Advent rolls around, an Advent message will appear (developing the Advent function was fun, since Advent falls on no regular day; it’s the Sunday closest to November 30th, so it could be the Sunday before the 30th or the Sunday after). I’ve written a library of functions which lets me manage and update that cool menu bar on the top of my page really easily, without having to update the JavaScript every time and make sure I get all the right niggly little details in all the right places. And I’ve completely rewritten how the database calls are done in the “library” section; this is one of those things that won’t show up at all for the casual visitor, but it simplifies my life on the back end quite a bit.

So I’ve accomplished my website goals. Tomorrow, I think, I’ll actually start putting some thought into Fred, Again. Or, possibly, not.

Spooky!

Jennifer and I carved our pumpkins earlier today. Remember I mentioned them earlier as being a couple of huge pumpkins, easily 50 pounds plus? I was expecting shells at least three inches thick, but they were remarkably thin for the size of the pumpkins.

Anyway. Here is a picture of our two Jack O’Lanterns sitting side by side on our porch. I’m sorry for the quality of the picture; I have a feeling that the camera in my Clie is starting to head south.

Jack O'Lanterns

Jennifer’s is on the left, mine is on the right. I haven’t really carved a pumpkin in years, and I’d forgotten how much fun it was.

More zombies!

The website How Stuff Works has a great article on How Zombies Work. It’s mostly about Hiatian zombies and the mythology surrounding them, but it also covers zombies in modern movies as well. Remember that article about Pittsburgh being unprepared for a zombie attack that I posted last week? Maybe it’s time to break out your copy of The Zombie Survival Guide.

Elsewhere in the news, Information Week has an article entitled “Microsoft Hunts for Zombie Spammers“. These are computers that have been infected with one of the numerous viruses out there that don’t do anything but sit quietly on the computer and send out spam, without the user ever knowing that there’s anything wrong. But it also makes me thing of half rotted corpses sitting around at computer terminals, sending out spam. Nifty image.

And meanwhil, Marvel Comics has confirmed that they will be doing a comic book extension of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. I gather that they won’t be doing stories that take place after the final volume, but will be doing stories that take place elsewhere in the universe at the same time as the other novels. It’s such a big universe, I fail to see how King could run out of stories to tell about it (others will disagree with me, I’m sure).

So that’s your apocalyptic horror news of the day. Zombies taking over the internet. “Sennnnnd morrreee e-mailllllllll…”

Speaker of the House Blog

Denny Hastert, Speaker of the House, has just started a blog. Interesting. In it, he says, referring to the blogosphere, “This is the future. And it is a new way for us to get our message out.”

Reading his first entry, it seems to me that this actually is the Speaker of the House writing, and not any ghost blogger. It feels informal, almost rushed, and certainly not polished in any way. It feels almost like a rough draft.

It will be interesting to see if he keeps it up. I’d like to see more government officials creating their own blogs.

Bloodsucking Fiends

Bloodsucking FiendsBloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore
Publication: Harper Paperbacks (2004), Paperback
Date: 1995
ISBN: 0060735414 / 9780060735418
Buy it at Amazon.com

Review updated February 27, 2007

Christopher Moore is regarded as one of the better American humorists writing today, and the popularity of his novels Lamb and Fluke seem to support that. Bloodsucking Fiends is the first book of his that I’ve read.

Continue reading Bloodsucking Fiends

Some things are just wrong from the start

I already knew that Hollywood long ago ran out of anything even remotely resembling imagination and creativity (with a few rare notable exceptions, such as Serenity), but there really ought to be limits. They’re supposedly remaking Harvey, for example, with Tom Hanks in the lead role. Tom Hanks is a fine actor, but that film was really written for James Stewart, and not even Tom Hanks can take James Stewart’s place.

Today, while putting together resources for my James Thurber reference page (just a vague collection of links for now), I discovered that someone has taken it into their head to remake The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. With Owen Wilson in the title role. Now, James Thurber hated the original film and reportedly offered MGM $10,000 not to make it, but I personally love it, and I love Danny Kaye‘s portrayal of Walter Mitty. Kaye was funny and witty and brought a charm to the role that I really thought was delightful. But I can’t imagine Owen Wilson bringing anything like that level of wit to the role. It just seems wrong to me.

But, then again, I was appalled when I heard that there was a “re-imagination” of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the works, but the 2005 version with Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka proved to be very good, even though I also enjoyed Gene Wilder’s version (even if Roald Dahl despised that version of the film). So perhaps this film will turn out to be pretty good.

But Hollywood’s batting record is pretty appalling so far. If The Secret Life of Walter Mitty turns out to be any good, I will be very surprised.

The Gospel According to Anne

I know this is actually rather old news, but it hadn’t really hit me before. Anne Rice going back to her Catholic roots? I only hope she doesn’t do for Christianity what she did for the vampire genre.

The Gospel According to Anne

Abby… someone…

I haven’t vanished off the face of the Earth. It’s just been a bit of an insane weekend. Yesterday we went and got both of the cars thoroughly washed then went for a massive shopping trip at CostCo. Today we went to the pumpkin patch and got ourselves a couple of massive pumpkins; based on the trouble I had getting them out of the car and onto the porch, I estimate that each pumpkin weighs at least two hundred pounds; though I suppose in reality they’re probably only about fifty pounds each. No, really. For some reason, I took it into my head that I wanted a really, really big pumpkin. Next weekend we’re going to carve them, and we’ve already started hunting down saws.

The pumpkin patch we went to is one of the rare ones where they actually grow their own pumpkins instead of shipping them in from someplace else. Some of them are still on the vine, even. They may be the most sincere pumpkin patch I’ve ever been to, though the fact that they have a website — coolpatchpumpkins.com — may negate that.

The pumpkin patch also has a huge corn maze, which I love. We paid our fees, got our map, and headed in. I’ve always wanted to wander through the maze using the “always turn right” rule the entire time (you can solve every maze in the world by turning right at every intersection), thus maximizing the time we spend wandering in the hot, dusty corn maze, and thus maximizing our fun. After about half an hour of this, though, we’d had enough fun and decided to break out the map to make our way out the old fashioned way. That’s actually kind of fun, too.

Anyway, in the spirit of the season, I present to you the following resource, which should come in useful, as well as a bit of related dialogue from a classic film.

A very important resource

“Do you mind telling me WHOSE brain I put into that body?”

“Abby… someone.”

“Abby who?”

“Abby… Normal.”

“Abby… Normal?”

“Yes, I’m quite sure that was the name.”