Tuesday, June 23, 2015

An Impossible Wish

I apologize for this being a "downer" post, but I've got to get these thoughts out of my head before they drive me into depression any deeper.

Back in the... 1940s, I think it was, my grandma Nellie moved into a house in Dearborn Heights. She would live there for the remaining 60+ years or so of her life; even in her final months, when complications from a hip injury meant that she would have to stay in the hospital and rehab center, she just wanted to go back home.

In a way, I understand how she felt. I'm more than 800 miles away from the city where I was raised. It is impossible for me to return there; my own hatred for driving and traveling is working against me, and even if I were inclined to go there provided my parents went there for vacation, someone has to look after the cats. Added to that is the fact that my mind has become increasingly distracted by minor things over the past decade, plus my constant state of tiredness---a deadly combination if you're driving a vehicle, hence why I've never had a driver's license. But for all that circumstances have conspired against me, and for all that Dearborn Heights isn't what it used to be anymore, I still have that truly impossible wish:

To be able to walk through the neighborhoods that I once called home just one last time.

I miss Grandma.

...

But enough sad and depressing stuff. Hit it, Zorak! BWA-HAHAHAHAHAAAA!


Monday, June 23, 2014

When You've Got A Tomato Growing Out Of Your Forehead, It Gets You Thinking...

I've been thinking a little bit about stuff recently. And for me, it's never a good sign that I'm thinking about something. It tells me that I'm either bored or have a cold. Maybe I should start playing more Pac-Man or something. Or maybe I just need to get more sleep.

First off: this whole thing with the Washington Redskins. I recall thinking as a kid that 'Redskins' was a really cool name for a football team, not knowing that it could possibly be considered derogatory. Nowadays, there are people who feel that the name and brand are insensitive and need to be changed, and I suppose on some level they have a point. Personally, my own opinion on this whole Redskins thing has not changed: it's still a really cool name for a football team. Why, I can't say, because I don't know: it just is. I can't explain it any more than I can explain fantasy sports leagues.

(For the record I do have a little bit of Native American blood in me, but it's been so long ago that no one in my family was ever able to recall which tribe it was from, and it's difficult to see any sort of similarity between me and them. Aside from whoever it was that contributed to my lineage, my great-grandparents all came to the United States from western Europe, to the best of my knowledge. ...Or was it great-great-grandparents? ...I dunno.)

There is a term I've become familiar with in recent years: "insult backfire", wherein someone takes a disparaging comment about them and makes it out to be the greatest thing that ever happened to them. The ultimate in 'insult backfiring' in this situation, I feel, would be to have the Redskins win the Super Bowl within the next few years. I don't think it'll get people to believe that the name's connotations are ineffectual nowadays, but it should at least shut some of the critics up for a little while.

Yeah, I'm a naive idiot who doesn't always know what he's talking about, but it's not like "noisy" is all it's cracked up to be. Take it from someone who's had to put up with The O'Reilly Factor in my house for about seven years.




Second: a house devoid of Sabrina. As I've mentioned previously, she was our eldest cat... with emphasis on 'was'. Three months ago, over the course of about 4-5 days, her condition rapidly deterioriated to the point where she couldn't eat, use the litter box, or move very much at all. My parents made the decision at that point to have her put to sleep, and I said my good-byes to her on March 30, 2014.

I hate having to write about this. Even as I'm typing this I'm crying, but I just can't help it. That spunky little runt (seriously, she really was a tiny kitten, and I couldn't tell when she stopped growing because I couldn't see any difference) was part of my life for 19 years, bridging the gap between my adolesence and my adulthood. No words that I could ever say could fully describe that sense of loss, and it would be pointless for me to try: words have never been my strong suit. It's probably ridiculous of me to like cats that much, but when you get right down to it it's no less ridiculous than liking anything else to that degree. Those of you who paint yourself in team colors and attend professional hockey games without your shirts know that I'm right.

(And on that note, have any of my readers actually done that? For another, isn't it cold in those places? I mean, I've never been to Joe Louis Arena or anything like that, but I have to believe that they keep the interior cool to keep the ice layers from melting. Maybe it's your team pride that keeps you warm, or something; I've fallen asleep at pep rallies before, so I wouldn't know.)

It wasn't all fun and petting, admittedly. As a kitten, Sabrina and another cat were tearing around the house at high speeds and ran straight across my arm while I was waiting to go to school; I still have the scar from that experience. Still, it was nice to come home from school and talk to someone who neither insulted me or tried to toss my duffel bag into the locker room shower.

I hate saying good-bye. Too many of those good-byes have turned out to be permanent, leaving nothing but memories of better days behind.

Third: those whose vehicles are allowed to roam the roads. People have been wondering for decades: "where are the flying cars"? Here's why we haven't seen any: if they get in an accident, it's a long way to the ground. And judging from what I've seen of peoples' behavior on the roads, there's going to be a marked increase in casualties if the hovercraft ever becomes commonplace.

If you honestly believe you're a good and safe driver, then props to you. But if you're doing things like attributing quicker speeds to pedestrians at intersections, travelling 80 MPH on a 70 MPH highway, ignoring no-passing zones, having dates with Captain Morgan before driving, and believing that everyone else on the road are morons, and you have the nerve to suggest to me that I should learn to drive just because I'm 30 and I'm long past due... ... *stops to catch his breath* ... ...Really not helping your case there, people.

Fourth: I can't get the Tick's theme out of my head, so I'm going to pass it on to you and see if it helps. C'mon, sing along with me. Duh-dweeeee-da-da-da-dwee-dow...





Sunday, May 19, 2013

Times Gone By: Drawing and Imagination

I used to draw as a kid. A lot. When I was in the 5th-8th grades, I pretty much averaged one drawing a day during the school year. Most of them were of nonsensical stuff: my fuzzball creations annoying each other, fighting bad guys and what not.

Nowadays, not so much. I consider myself happy if I'm able to do even one drawing a year (and I won't even be able to keep this year's one; my oldest sister had her first kid earlier this year, and I wanted to do something that would cheer her up a little). Part of it's because some small portion of me is annoyed with my drawing style, and part of it's because there's no place in the house where I can just sit down and concentrate on my artwork without a bunch of hairy beasts walking all over my efforts (sorry Sabrina and Callista, I'm talking about you.)

I'm also... unmotivated. My mother told me once that if I was so inclined, I could probably make a career out of drawing by working as a comic strip artist. She's probably right, except for a few things: #1, I go through most of my days in a daze, feeling somewhat empty-headed, tired and unwilling to do stuff that I don't consider important. #2, I'm lazy and somewhat of a procrastinator. I don't know much about the comic strip industry, but what I do know is that a lot of deadlines need to be met. I hate, and I mean hate needing to rush to do anything.

(I suppose an alternative would be to draw a webcomic, but... yeah, that would still require a lot of work.)

Ah, well... I don't think much of my art anymore, as I said before. Some of it I consider 'alright', such as this picture of my creation Ellen Harrison below (click to see it at 100%)...


You can't tell by looking at her, but that's her "Ha-ha-ha-ha
-ha-ha-this-is-really-funny!" face. 

 ...but the rest, not so much.

This particular character should give you an idea of how twisted my imagination can be at times. As a baby, Ellen did not make noise. At all. No crying, no audible learning to speak, nothing. Instead, she waited until she had a solid grasp of the English language before saying anything at all. In fact, her first words were not "mama", "daddy", or anything like that. They were: "...You're standing in my light", spoken when her mother cast a shadow over the Tom & Jerry comic book she was reading. Even to this day, she rarely goes out of her way to talk to anyone and generally only speaks when spoken to.

I'm not done yet. Out of all 5 kids, Ellen's the only pure-blooded human. Yes, you read that correctly. She and three of her siblings were quadruplets: her sister is a felinoid, like most of my other characters; one of her brothers is a human with cat ears and a tail, and the fourth one is a Black Maine Coon. The last child, born a few years later, randomly changes between the species once a week.

If that doesn't make you question my mental stability, I don't know what will. >^_^<

In closing, I have a request to make. Most of my current drawing skills came from this one particular book that my older brother used to have in the late 1980s, early 90s or so. The book focused primarily on various techniques used to aid one's artistic ability, but there were two characters that played a dominant role. One was an aspiring artist who was willing to learn and improve, and the other was a stage magician who demonstrated different tricks that could be used to improve the artist's drawings. I remember that much about it, but what I've forgotten is what the book is called and who wrote the book in the first place. If anyone reading this knows those things, please let me know. Thank you.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

It's been a while since I've been able to write anything down and post it here, but recently I've been reminiscing about the past and the changes I've both experienced and seen.

The schools back in Dearborn Heights, for instance. The middle school I attended had this large art room, and the teacher gave us a lot of leeway. He had this stereo at the back of the room, and the kids were allowed to play their own music on there as long as they got their work done. There was artwork of various Marvel Comics figures on the wall behind it: the Incredible Hulk next to the door, Wolverine right where the clock was, DC Comics' own Flash next to him... well-done works, too. The Genie from Disney's Aladdin was near where I typically sat, logos of various musicians, including White Zombie and (I think) Nirvana...

And then after the teacher retired (which was after I had moved on to high school, thank goodness), the new teacher had the walls repainted the same color on the basis of her belief that the stuff up there wasn't art (call me petty, but I still think that's rather jerk-ish of her).

Since I've left that school, all but one or two of the teachers that I've known there have either retired or moved on.

After I graduated from high school, some remodeling claimed the classroom where I used to help work on the school paper (contrary to what some in my graduating class might think, that picture of me in there does not depict me helping someone with the computer; the kid was browsing ESPN's website, and I was reading over his shoulder :D ), making room for a larger library and a curve in the hallway. The cafeteria was expanded, removing the senior courtyard where I used to watch kids play hackey-sack and occasionally kick the things onto the roof.

A lot of the teachers I've known there (and a few I didn't) have also flown the coop; one of them has since died, which saddens me because he was easily the funniest out of all of them. There was one occasion where in response to a kid's question he saluted him, shouted something in a fake German accent and shoved one of the desks halfway across the room for no real reason. Nowadays you have to pay some serious money to see that kind of entertainment in person.

As for me...well, let's just say I miss the days when I could gulp down bottles of Faygo soda or Mountain Dew and not have to worry about the aftereffects.



Time really does keep on slipping into the future...

Friday, September 16, 2011

From one Extreme to Another

People who drive responsibly and safely tend to get annoyed at the reckless idiocy of others on the road. They're not alone; people who don't drive period tend to get annoyed, too. In my case, while I was on my way to work, it almost led to an unneeded stay in the hospital.

I was a block from my destination this morning, crossing the street at a green light. You know how those intersections have these white lines painted on the road to show where vehicles should stop at the lights? There was this truck that approached from my right, slowed down and stopped at that white line. As I was walking just to the left of that line, I thought that the driver was letting me get past first (sometimes those cars will come to a stop partway across the line, forcing pedestrians to go around), so I hurried up and started to go in front of the truck. In retrospect, I should've walked behind it instead; when I was about two, maybe three feet away from actually being in front of the truck, it abruptly sped back up and cut in front of me in order to make a turn.

Is it any wonder why I don't drive? Stuff like that bothers me something fierce. I've griped in a prior post about pedestrians who cross the street at red lights, but this is a whole other kettle of meat loaf (I don't like fish). People, your destination isn't going anywhere. It doesn't matter if you're five minutes late or five minutes early: taking a few extra seconds to look around and make sure you're not going to hit something or someone is not going to kill you; just as importantly, it's not going to kill us. Not all of us are intelligent people who can cross the street intelligibly; some of us can be complete morons who forget things at the worst of times, like I very nearly demonstrated.

You want to prove that you earned your driver's license? Then for our sake and yours, MAKE SURE THE AREA'S CLEAR BEFORE YOU PROCEED. It does not take a genius to figure this out, people. It's called "common sense"; exercise it!

*sigh*

Alright, I'm sorry. I'm through venting now. Since we started on a low note, why we don't continue on a higher note--- preferably a few octaves higher with a 4/4 signature?



Pictures of my family's cats, ladies and gentlemen. The one up top is Sabrina, the resident old lady of the house (around 16 years old, if my memory is accurate). While her health isn't as great as it was when she was younger, it hasn't effected her mobility; when she's not asleep, she demonstrates more grace than any other pet I can recall us having. Jumping from the counter over a person's shoulder onto the kitchen table, jumping from the table clear over a large baby gate, stealing our computer chair while our backs our turned... she does it all so quietly, with not even a 'thump' to mark where she landed. If it wasn't for the bell on her collar, we'd never know where she was.

Next is Callista, right around 3-4 years old (closer to the 3 than the 4). She was originally a feral cat with a group of kittens, but my mom took a shine to them and started feeding them outdoors. Eventually the cat and her surviving kitten (three of them disappeared without our knowledge, leaving just the one) took a shine to her in exchange, and my mom was able to catch them and take them to the vet to take care of the neccessary health issues. She lives indoors now, and for those that she's used to she's probably the friendliest cat I've known. And she's very protective of her last kitten, despite it being nearly as large as she is now.

Speaking of that last kitten, Clover's the resident tomboy. When we first brought in her and her mom, we couldn't give them the standard cat toys to play with (fake mice, feather toys and the like), so we had to give them dog toys instead. Both of them play very strong and rough, but Clover moreso than her mom. She still exhibits traces of kitten behavior, and while she's friendly with us she still gets the urge to swat at us while we're petting her. And she's a bit of a bully, too.

Our most recent fuzzball, the tortoiseshell and scaredy-cat, is Gianna. She's rather distrustful of humans as a whole. She'll let my mom pet her, but only on her terms. My dad and I she avoids like the plague; she'll usually lay around quietly or play with the others, but the second I reach down to pet her, she's gone. We've only had her since this past winter, so time will tell how she turns out.

That'll be it for now, folks. Maybe next time I won't be quite as mad when I decide to write something. >^_^<

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In a word: Arrrrgghh

There's this one old computer game I've been taken with the last few years: Redhook's Revenge, originally published by ImagiSOFT, Inc. in 1996 or thereabouts and now available as freeware on their website. The goal of the game is to collect the most gold doubloons---oh, right. Forgot to mention that the characters are the very images of 17th-18th century pirates.

On first glance, it's hard to determine why I keep playing this game. I already know the answers to all the trivia questions. I know where almost every Treasure space and Disaster space is located. The pirates' faces scare me when they get angry, and the music unnerves me when something bad happens. It ought to get dull after a little while, wouldn't you say?



Well, here's a few reasons why I do. #1: Winning the game is not a foregone conclusion. You can answer all the trivia questions right, get all four cannons and thus have a higher chance of gaining treasure when faced with other players or cities, and still lose. Something will end up happening: you could lose half of your treasure by landing on a certain space near the end of the board, or your opponents could win in a fight and gain a large chunk of your funds, or they could have more success in defeating their foes, or... anything could happen. Knowing the game inside and out gives me an advantage, but my win-loss percentage is not as overwhelmingly high as you would think.

#2: The variety. It happens, but it's not often that a game board shows up the same way twice. There are two different start points and two different end points that the computer is allowed to choose from, and at least 6-7...hmmm... let's call them "middle map pieces" that can show up in virtually any arrangement (with 3 of them actually being used). Depending on the layout of the board and the number of player- or AI-controlled opponents, each game could take anywhere from 15-45 minutes to finish.

#3: The bugs. Yes, the bugs. This is probably due to a coding error, but from time to time something bad will happen to one of the players: losing a turn, losing money or showing up too late to a razed city... and the pirate will be happy about it or at least remain neutral. The reverse can be true: treasure will be gained or what have you, and the pirate will be angry, as if gaining riches beyond his/her dreams was not how he wanted to spend his vacation. It's fun watching when this happens, although a few of the other bugs---such as certain messages disappearing too quickly for anyone to read the first word, let alone the whole message---is a bit annoying.

Anyway, that's part of why I like to play it. Another part is because I like to see how high the final scores can go; this might have happened only once in the 14-15 years I've been playing this game, but I've seen doubloon counts go as high as 90,000. Like I said earlier, though, it's not a given; don't be surprised if you finish a game and find out that your score is a straight flat zero.

Feel like you want to give the game a go? Visit the website above. Download. Play, whether using DosBOX or otherwise. And, if you're half my age, tremble in fear as Bastian Blood sneers at you.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pet Peeves (and what not)

Pretty much what the topic implies today.

First off, we have: People Who Turn At Intersections While Pedestrians Are Still Crossing The Street. I realize that they have to get to wherever they need to go, but I still don't feel comfortable walking across the road and having them be only 3 or 4 feet away from me.

Hand in hand with the first one is: People Who Cross The Street At Red Lights. Come on, people: red lights. RED...LIGHTS. They are not there to look pretty; they are there to make sure that your relatives do not have to pay for funeral costs. You never know, especially in the busier cities, when a car or truck's going to come roaring around the corner straight at you; and who's to say that the person who you think might stop for you might actually be drunk?

Next: Stray Cats. I like cats as much as the next person does, but I'm not a big fan of letting them run loose. That just leads to more cats running around the streets if the critters' kids survive kittenhood (I know of one cat who used to have four kittens, but only one of them was still alive by the time we were able to take them in). Cats may be able to take care of themselves, but unless they are spayed or neutered they'll end up taking care of more than just themselves, if you get my drift. And really, cats belong indoors anyway; feral ones just aren't good stress relievers.

Finally: Cleaning Out The Litter Box. This one's obvious. :)