Sunday A’La Carte’: February 15, 2015

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radio shack adios

Greetings and salutations, everyone. It is once again Sunday, which means it’s time to dispense with the week’s brain droppings and various other inane babbling that bubble forth from my head. Meanderings, maybe? I don’t know anymore.

I had to work yesterday. I usually don’t work on Saturdays, but yesterday was a bit different as I had to get something done during the week that I couldn’t do on the weekend, nor was I able to do so after I got off work during the weekdays. So, I traded the one day off that I had during the weekend that my place of employment was open—Saturday—with Wednesday to take care of rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. I also chose Wednesday to do the deed, as that was also Youth Group night, and I figured I would just hang out at my sister and brother-in-law’s place before heading out to the group, then going back to the Victorian in Omaha. Make a day out of it and all. Which meant I worked on Saturday. Which gave me a reminder of why I usually don’t work Saturdays. The call volume was relatively low; it’s just that there was an unusually high number of people who made my brain hurt talking to them per capita. I’m content with my usual Monday through Friday, thank you very much.

That also meant that I had to miss my youngest nephew’s birthday party. The kid turned 5, a monumental year, as that means he has to now go out and find a job, earn his keep and all that. Or, you know, get set to go to Big Boy School soon. One or the other. I brought him his birthday gift on the afore-mentioned Wednesday: a bunch of Hot Wheels cars and a semi trailer set. His favorite part of the gift was the card that had a pop-out monkey inside. I think he played with that more than the Hot Wheels themselves. The 10-year-old nephew came back home from school, we all hung out watching a space documentary series from the History Channel, where I amused them with fun comments with the CGI dinosaurs and referring to solar flairs as “Sun Farts”. The five-year-old spontaneously made up a song about these “sun farts.” My work there was done.

Speaking of space, it looks like the Hubble telescope has finally found God’s emoticon

Radio Shack is finally going belly-up after 94-some-odd years of being in business. I used to work at the Radio Shack in Fremont, Nebraska. It was in the “Mall” there since I could remember, and was the source of my family’s very first computer purchase back in 1985. It was a Tandy 1000, and didn’t even have a hard drive–it booted up with a series of floppy discs. It predated Windows, and came with a complementary copy of the very first King’s Quest. Anyway, Radio Shack was already showing signs of stress fractures when I was hired on back in 2005, starting to emulate the Apple stores rather than be the niche place for gadget tinkerers and other tech geeks of the like. There was talk of eliminating the entire parts and pieces stock and focusing more on cell phones, media players and televisions, before my tenure there ended. Frankly, I’m surprised they lasted this long after that. They will be missed, but because of the parts and encouragement to mess around with electronics. But, we have New Egg and Think Geek for that now, I guess.

In kind of related news, though: the Family Christian book store chain recently filed for bankruptcy as well; however, it looks like none of the 250 stores will be closing. Don’t really know how that works. I am relieved, though, as where else am I going to go to replenish my stock of Testa-Mints?

STUFF I’VE WRITTEN: The Hard Rock + Proto-Metal month of February in this YEAR OF METAL continued with posts for the Scorpions, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin. Also, I picked up a bit on my reading, and thus cranked out reviews of the recent Stephen King novel, and a handful of Doctor Who novels here, here, here and here.

That’s all I’m willing to give for this week, folks. I’m going to do some more writing on other things, do a bit of reading, then it’s off to bed for my beauty rest. Gotta look good for the office, and all that. I leave you now with a classic Bugs Bunny cartoon. Because, why not? Cheers, all…


::END TRANSMISSION::

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Sunday A’La Carte — November 30, 2014

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black fridayHey, everybody. It’s Sunday evening, on the last day of November none-the-less, so it’s time for another helping of brain droppings and general ramblings from your Uncle NecRo, blogger extraordinaire and self-described \,,/METAL DEMIGOD\,,/. Note, I said “demigod”, and not the more blasphemous (and really egotistical) “god”, there. There is a difference, and I invite you to check for yourself what that difference is. But, not until after you’ve finished your blog post reading. And no fair trying to feed this to the dog. Because you can’t. I don’t even know why I brought that up.

complex carbohydratesSpeaking of \,,/METAL\,,/, one of the new time-wasters I’ve stumbled upon on Thanksgiving was the reviewer of one Happy Viking’s Frothy Pint Of Metal. This is a fellow \,,/METALHEAD\,,/, reviewing more obscure but awesome bands—and sometimes movies and television—in a rather entertaining way. Since my OCD dictates that I must watch all of whatever I come across and find amusing, I was able to get through all six pages of his episodes in a day or so, mainly due to each being brief enough to get to the meat of the matter and not linger too long. I would urge any \,,/METALHEAD\,,/ to check it out as well. And yes, I am very much obligated to use the \,,/METAL HORNS\,,/ emoticon and all caps whenever I make reference to the music of awesome.

And also, speaking of anything scarier than a mosh-pit at a Slayer concert, did anyone participate in the yearly blood ceremony known as Black Friday? I never do, personally. I’ve been on the retail end of Black Fridays before, enough to not only sour me on the whole concept of Black Friday sales like this, but like I mentioned in last week’s A’La Carte, humanity is at its true lowest at this point of the year. Regardless, on Thursday (that would have been Thanksgiving), since I had nothing else to do due to my family already having the year’s turkey day gatherings out of the way, I decided to go into town (the one that’s 20 minutes away and has more than just the one gas station) to put gas in the Aluminum Falcon, and then stop by the WalMart to pick up a salad for din-din and replenish my dwindling Mountain Dew stash. That was at 4:30-ish. When I got to Wally World, there were already lots of people camping out inside of the WalMart for some kind of Black Friday kick-off sale that started that night at 6pm. I’m not even going to attempt a logical explanation about that. ‘Twas rather hard trying to maneuver my cart to get my paltry items, with a horde of sale hounds clogging up the isles, staring at that forbidden palate of Buy-One-Get-One Wrangler Jeans and DVD overstock that they can’t touch until the big hand was on the 12 and the little hand was on the 6. Boy, did I need the comfortable seclusion of my crypt. I was down there, completely dark save for the one blood-red candle lit, chanting, “Less than a month, then the evil will be over”.

Did I mention I hate this time of year? I think so, last week. Bears repeating. As many times as possible.

eek black fridayFrom both the Great Band Name and Great \,,/METAL\,,/ Instrument departments: Aztec Death Whistle!

And this one, I don’t think I even need to say much more about, other than reproducing the title of the news piece: WINNIE THE POO BANNED FROM POLISH PLAYGROUND FOR BEING “INAPPROPRIATE HERMAPHRODITE” (and also not wearing pants).

One of the big headline-worthy news stories (at least for the “Trending” column on my Facebook page) was that Snooki—the Hobbit-sized “star” of some kind of reality show, I can’t remember the name of it at the moment—got married in a Great Gatsby-style wedding. And no, I’m not going to provide a link to the news piece, go Google it yourself if you’re curious. I’m not familiar with what I will assume is her Thespian-level of television work, outside of a two- or three-minute cameo on an episode of Supernatural last year that was very painful to watch, but I still bring this up because of the sheer irony of the situation. Not that I’m expecting much for literary understanding from someone whose name sounds like an item on the Applebee’s dessert menu. Then again, my reading list this year has consisted of a bunch of Star Wars and Doctor Who novels, so what do I know?

that's how science worksSpeaking of Star Wars (how’s that for a segue-way?), I’m going to assume you’ve watched the highly anticipated teaser trailer for the upcoming Star Wars The Force Awakens set for 2015. Even if you haven’t, and you have no idea what this “star wars” is (in which case, I congratulate you on your reinsertion into regular society after being locked down in that bomb shelter since 1963), for the sake of this paragraph, I’m going to go ahead and assume (there’s that word again) you have. As predicted, the reactions and write-ups on the interwebs have exploded like a metaphor using something blowing up in a Star Wars movie. My favorite one has been the Angry Joe video. I’ve seen it a few times myself, now (the actual teaser trailer), and my impression of this is…well, it looks like a Star Wars movie. Yeah, I know that’s a lame non-committal statement, but let’s be honest, here—the last time I was really excited about any movie about to be released, Star Wars or not, they always seemed to be a let-down. Except for The Avengers. The Avengers was beyond awesome. So, I’m just going to say that, Disney set out to make a Star Wars movie, and it looks like they succeeded in making a Star Wars movie. As to the awesome-ness of this Star Wars movie, I’m going to have to wait until December of 2015 like everyone else to see if it is. Until then, we have another Avengers movie to get stoked for. See what I did there? It’s called a “call-back”, I’m told.

q&aSTUFF I’VE WRITTEN: Still working on the re-postings onto this one, and this week I manage to stick on my musings on journaling, and also a list of how to know if you’re a Goth or not. As far as movie reviews, there’s ones for the uber-awful Transformations, the awful-but-in-an-awesome-way Trick Or Treat, the just flat out awesome Trick R’ Treat, some ham-fisted socio-political slasher wackiness with The Tripper, one of the few non-nerd rage-y looks at Tron: Legacy, the remake of True Grit, and the direct-to-video animated movie Ultimate Avengers. Then, as far as music reviews go, I review a Holy Blood album here, a couple of Holy Solider albums here and here, something by House Of Wires here, a couple of Horde albums here and here, something by Hope Has Failed Us here, Industry Eleven’s album here, Incrave here, Impending Doom here, Illuminanti here, and Independent Opposition here.

Free Hugs CaveThat’s all for this week. Next week I get a three-day weekend, on account I took a day off to commemorate my day of birth. I’m not going to say what day this week it is. Just know that the \,,/METAL DEMIGOD\,,/ demands a sacrifice of cake to appease his awesomeness. I leave you all now with the only birthday song I will allow in my earholes. God bless, my wonderful freaks.

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SUNDAY A’LA CARTE – October 19, 2014

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40399-Jack-O-Lantern-PatchSunday evening yet again, and I’ve been spending the evening watching a couple of old horror B movies from one of the 50 Horror Movie packs that Mill Creek Entertainment puts out. Lovely things, those. You get a whole bunch of cheesy movies for $8. A nice way to get my cheesy horror movie fix. Once in a while, you can find a gem,; but most of the time, you have to wade through a lot of cheese to find it, if it’s there at all. These two (I’m pacing myself at two per night), however…eh. Anatomy Of A Psycho was really more of a juvenile delinquent exploitation from 1961, with acting you would expect from the era of Ozzy & Harriet, so not really horror. Or good. And Night Of Bloody Horror…well, it’s quite a bit more entertaining, but that’s mostly due to the use of some cheesy psychedelic effects. Oh, late 1960s exploitation. Nothing finer, really.

After a bit of a delay, I finally received my super-duper, glow-in-the-dark Grave Robber tee shirt. At least, I think it glows in the dark. Hold on for a minute, let me check…no, I was mistaken. It does not glow in the dark. Pity, as that would have been rather cool. Regardless, it’s a cool shirt anyway.

CAM00154It’s the middle of October, and then HALLOWEEN will be upon us in no time. Have you thought of a costume? Will it be something besides one of those “Sexy Something-Or-Other” jobs? I do so prefer the ones that go beyond just titillating. Give me something with braaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiinsss. Now we’re talking. Since Halloween does fall on a Friday, and since I now work at a job that allows dressing up at the office, I’m putting a little bit of thought into the matter. Hard to believe, only two more weekends left. Well, one if you count the fact that it’s this next weekend, then just the Friday after that one. Time goes so very fast. Soon I shall be experiencing Post Halloween Depression. Then the seasonal downward spiral that won’t abate until well after New Years. Can’t wait. Especially after everything that’s been going on this year.

Behold my randumb thought processes. It’s like trying to have tea in a kangaroo pouch. And the kangaroo’s hopped up on speed. No pun intended.

emo clownSpeaking of random (yes, I went with the proper spelling), here’s the YouTube clip of alternative rock band The Foo Fighters with country singer Zac Brown covering Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” on Late Night With David Letterman. Unlikely pairing, unlikely situation, completely awesome result. And I love Letterman’s reaction at the end:

Years ago, I was always tapped to play Satan whenever my old youth group did a live video (that would be the Evangelical way of saying “lip sync performance”) of “Total Eclipse Of The Heart”. Never been in a youth group that put on one of those to that song? Consider yourselves one of the blessed. And yes, I’m always the first one to be tapped whenever someone’s play/skit/Hell House needs either Satan or one of his minions. Eh, I don’t mind really, as long as Lucifer (“Lucy” to his friends) loses in the end. And no, I’m not going to show you a video of another youth group doing one of those “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” live videos…instead, I’m going to make you watch the “literal video” rendition of the song, which is much more hilarious.

STUFF I’VE WRITTEN: I posted book reviews of novels featuring the Fifth and Sixth Doctor, then reposted my review of the movie Silent Hill. And HALLOWEEN’ING continues this month, with posts about Haunted Houses, a Nostalgia Critic video of Halloween Movies, a rather awesome zombie-themed snack setup, scaring people, the first eight issues of the classic Neil Gaiman Sandman series, Jack O’Lanterns, and a classic Disney animated short.

when the clock strikes midnightThat’s all for this week, methinks. I’ve some reading to do before beddy-bye time. Tomorrow’s another work day. Cheers, my wonderful freaks.

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Sunday A’La Carte: July 27, 2014

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buffet_mto_gallery

It’s Sunday again. Well, it still is for another couple of hours, as I write this. Eh, better late than never. It’s been one of those classic Midwest summers this week, where the heat index soars high as eagle, and walking outside is like strolling right into a heavy, moist wool blanket. I don’t know about everyone else reading this, but here, the weather sucks mighty buffalo. To say nothing of the mosquitoes and clouds of gnats searching for giant haemoglobin Slurpees such as myself. And as a type-2 diabetic, believe me when I say I’m extra sweet. Fortunately, I work indoors now.

Speaking of where I work, I normally don’t watch broadcast television (more out of laziness than any sense of self-righteousness, here); while the break room at work has the telly on constantly, and this commercial caught my attention:

Amusing, yes; of course, it was the use of the Scorpions’ “Rock You Like A Hurricane” that kept me from reading my book. I did cause to pause a bit: A song from my youth, being used to hawk overpriced brand-name cookies to middle-aged ladies (which is technically my age group, come to think of it)? Nothing like the soundtrack to my carefree High School days being used to boost cookie sales to make me feel old. Besides, considering that Fiber One is supposed to contribute to dietary regularity, I don’t think “Rock You Like A Hurricane” may be the best choice.

escher get up here

The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that the real hero of the Harry Potter series was Severus Snape. Besides, having to put up with the ego of that kid and his mates would make me a bit more cranky than my usual lovable curmudgeonly self.

introverts assemble

33 REASONS WHY HUMANITY IS DOOMED. Read this, and simultaneously despair for humanity, and feel like a god among the ants. It’s like a trip to the local Wal-Mart, only without having to actually go to the local Wal-Mart.

Took the CAN WE GUESS WHO YOU ARE IN ONLY 20 QUESTIONS? quiz that has been making the rounds on Facebook. Eh, it was Saturday morning, and I was what you would call bored. And everyone else kept saying this thing was way off, so I wanted to see how badly this thing could do. And after answering several  questions, here were the results:

1. You are male.
2. You are currently in your mid fifties, still working hard and enjoying every minute of it.
3. You are starting to go bald, but you don’t care about it as much as you thought you would when you were younger. You still have your good looks, your gray eyes and your sense of humor.
4. You have a beautiful loving family, great life-long friends, even the doctor is happy with your annual check up!
5. Things are generally good, and you just wish they’ll stay that way for much, much longer.

Well, they were right with me being male. The others…not so much. Especially number 5, there.

Stuff I’ve written on the blog: I reviewed the movies The World’s End and Skeleton Crew, and the book Doctor Who: Ten Little Aliens.

Currently Reading: The Best Of Robert Bloch. I do so enjoy this man’s body of writing. His style is like if H. P. Lovecraft and Alfred Hitchcock got smooshed together into one being. Which makes even more sense, when you factor in that Bloch used to be pen pals with Lovecraft in his early years, and one of his novels was made into a movie by Hitchcock, a little something-something named Psycho. This collection of short stories is fantastic.

Also, Season 2, Session 18 of NECRO SHOCK RADIO is up for the listening. Bit different, but another great two hours for listening.

That’s all for this week. Hope to get more writing done, as I aclamate myself with my hours and work, and my status as reclusive introvert. Cheers, all.

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Book Review: DOCTOR WHO – Wishing Well (Trevor Baxendale)

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doctor who - wishing wellTrevor Baxendale
BBC Books
2007

‘At the end of this tunnel is the treasure,’ said Nigel Carson.

The old village well is just a curiosity – something to attract tourists intrigued by stories of treasure, or visitors just making a wish.  Unless something alien and terrifying could be lurking inside the well.  Something utterly monstrous that causes nothing but death and destruction.  But who knows the real truth about the well?  Who wishes to unleash the hideous force it contains?  What terrible consequences will follow the search for a legendary treasure hidden at the bottom?  No one wants to believe the Doctor’s warnings about the deadly horror lying in wait – but soon they’ll wish they had…

Another book in the four-book boxed set featuring adventures of the Tenth Doctor, this one taking place in a current-day English town that featured as a centrepiece an ancient well that happens to house a long-dormant intergalactic sentient space plant thingie that’s recently awakened after centuries of sleeping, due to its brain finally arriving on Earth.  Don’t ask me to try and explain that.  Of course, the Doctor and Martha just happen to arrive in time for tea, and discovering the mystery laying literally underneath the town.

As a Doctor Who yarn, “Wishing Well” was a fun, decent enough romp featuring an alien entity that seems to be cribbed a bit from Lovecraftian mythology.  Nothing new when it comes to Doctor Who, really.  There are a few rather creepy moments, and the story kept things at a decent clip.  The ending was another happy affair that tied up nicely, which I’m beginning to get a mite incredulous about, really.  Otherwise, “Wishing Well” was another good Doctor Who story to while away a few hours.

Book Review: DOCTOR WHO – Peacemaker (James Swallow)

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doctor who - peacemakerJames Swallow
BBC Books
2007

The sun rising over the top of the distant mountains made them shine like polished copper, and Matthew Belfield held up a hand to shield his eyes from the glow.

The peace and quiet of a remote homestead in the 1880s American West is shattered by the arrival of two shadowy outriders searching for “the healer”.  When the farmer refuses to help them, they raze the house to the ground using guns that shoot bolts of energy instead of bullets.  In the town of Redwater, the Doctor and Martha learn of a snake-oil salesman whose patent medicines actually cure his patients.  But when the Doctor and Martha investigate they discover the truth is stranger, and far more dangerous.  Caught between the law of the gun and the deadly plans of intergalactic mercenaries, the Doctor and Martha are about to discover just how wild the West can become…

As time goes on, and the wait between new episodes of Doctor Who seems to get wider from the perspective of this American fanboy, I’m finding that the set of novels continuing the further expanded adventures of the Doctor and his various companions go a long way to not only satisfying my geeky addiction, but also given the fact that, in prose form, the special effects of my own imagination can trump anything used on the television medium any day of the year.  The only drawback being, when it comes to the Doctor Who books, I find I can breeze through them in a few hours’ read time.  That’s not to say that the stories are sub-par, mind you; I just seem to read a bit faster than the given norm nowadays (comes with being a lifelong voracious reader), thus making the overall cost of the book itself, depending on where I get it from, not exactly cost effective.  And considering BBC Books are imported…yeah, it could be a bit costly, here.

But, anyway, enough of my miserly whining.  Just trying to demonstrate the speed at which I made it through this particular Doctor Who yarn, “Peacemaker”.

Once again featuring the Tenth Doctor and companion Martha Jones, “Peacemaker” takes place in the later 19th Century wild west of America, in a ramshackle desert town that has found itself cured of a deadly smallpox outbreak, but is suddenly beset by two rough riders searching for the man who cured the town of the plague, wielding unearthly weapons that cause more destruction than a platoon of six shooters ever would.  And the Doctor and Martha have to figure out who – or what – these two regulators are, what they’re after, and try to prevent more death and destruction.  Just another typical day for the Doctor and his companion, it seems.

I’ve always liked the thought of the Doctor interacting with the Old American West; indeed, I’ve liked the stories set in historical times more than the intergalactic spacefaring yarns, and while I’m not a straight western genre buff, I do like a bit of sci-fi in my genre mixing.  And “Peacemaker” was a rather enjoyable tale in that vein.  Not exactly Zane Grey…but then, I’ve never read Zane Grey, so I have no idea why I brought that up.

Anyway, “Peacemaker” was included with the four book box set collection I got at Half Price Books, and went a long way in sating my lust of Doctor Who stories.  Worth checking out, indeed. Then again, I have yet to come across a Doctor Who book that I was bored with.  Yet.  A good excuse as any to continue looking, yes?

Books Review: STAR TREK – How Much For Just The Planet? (John M. Ford)

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How Much for Just the PlanetJohn M. Ford
Pocket Books
1987

Dilithium. In crystalline form, is the most valuable mineral element in the galaxy. It powers the Federation’s starships… and the Klingon Empire’s battle cruisers. Now on a small, out-of-the-way planet named Direidi, the greatest fortune in dilithium crystals ever has been found.  Under the terms of the Organian Peace Treaty, the planet will go to the side best able to develop the planet and its resources. Each side will contest the prize with the prime of its fleet. For the Federation – Captain James T. Kirk and the Starship Enterprise. For the Klingons – Captain Kaden vestai-Oparai and the IKS Fire Blossom.  Only the Direidians are writing their own script for this contest – a script that propels the crew of the USS Enterprise into their strangest adventure yet!

This is the first novel I’ve read that was set in the Star Trek universe.  Ever. Yes, I’ve read Star Wars series books and Doctor Who series books, and dabbled a bit with Dungeons & Dragons’ Choose Your Own Adventure-type books, but Star Trek hadn’t been on my list of expanded sci-fi series reading; odd, because I am something of a low-grade Trekkie when it comes to the franchise.  As it just so happens, though, my ladyfriend has read a Star Trek book or two (*at-hem*), and lent me a copy of her favorite story set in the Original Series: How Much For Just The Planet?

You can tell pretty much off the bat, just by looking at the cover illustration, that this isn’t going to be a typical Star Trek tale: Captain Kirk and a Klingon that looks a tad like Kruge from The Search For Spock (though it’s not) dressed in tuxes, with a vaguely W. C. Fields-looking guy in the foreground.  And lo and behold, How Much For Just The Planet? is quite the opposite of your typical Star Trek tale; the story is a farcical comedy of errors.  Mystery, intrigue, slapstick, absurdist, musical numbers – this is like nothing I’ve ever read.  The fact that it involves the crew of the Enterprise and some Klingons negotiating for a planet’s supply of dilithium only enhances the wackiness that ensues.  And boy, will it be ensuing.

Trust me, you will be LOL’ing at least once in the course of reading this book.  I know I did.  Overall, a decent yarn to occupy your time. I’m not too sure as to how easy it is to secure a copy of How Much For Just The Planet?, as it seems to be out of print, but if you do come across one at a used book shop, check it out.

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