Sunday, September 23, 2007

Lame attempts at being artistic #3...


Taken when I attended the annual British Car Show at Channel Islands Harbor.


Taken at the annual Ventura County Fair. I could just tell by the way he was looking at me that he was just begging for an apple.


Kinda speaks for itself. A little out of focus, though.


Part of an old iron, tile & concrete serpent at the playground of my old neighborhood. Plenty-a-skinned-knee crawling through this monstrosity as a kid.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Writing Resources...

Some book/resource suggestions on writing:

For scriptwriting, there are a slew of resources (more than there ought to be, actually), the main ones being from the following list of authors:

Robert McKee:

David Trottier:

Syd Field:

Linda Seger:

Blake Snyder:

William Goldman:

J. Michael Straczynski:

Michael Hauge:

Viki King:

Final Draft is the main screenwriting software program - recently updated. MovieMagic's Screenwriter is another good software formatting program.

For lyric writing (used only as a guide to various formats/song structures, and as a way of showing fine-tuning) is Sheila Davis' "The Craft of Lyric Writing". Remember... lyrics are not poetry... though lyrics can be very poetic, and poetry can be very lyrical.

For poetry, Ottone M. Riccio's "The Intimate Art of Writing Poetry":

For novels, "The Weekend Novelist" by Robert J. Ray (there are two editions, and they are very different from each other, so make sure to get the original early edition):

James Frey's "How To Write a Damn Good Novel":

James Zinsser "On Writing Well: 30th Anniversary Edition":

Stephen King's "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft":

There are many other (probably better) choices for novelists, but there is also a LOT of dreck out there. It seems EVERYONE has written a "how-to" book for novels and short stories. And 90% of them are written by people who couldn't write a novel or short story, so they wrote a how-to book instead (so true... too true).

Of course, the indispensible books for your desk (along with a good dictionary): Strunk & White's "Elements of Style"; Norman Lewis's edition of "Roget's Thesaurus in Dictionary Form"; the "Rhyming Dictionary by Clement Wood"; Ray Bradbury's "Zen in the Art of Writing"; and, of course, the Ralph Keyes's book "The Courage To Write: How Writer's Transcend Fear".

I'd also add "On Being a Writer" edited by Bill Strickland (a decent collection of essays/interviews/articles by various famous writers about being a writer and the writing process -- includes Hemingway, Steinbeck, Faulkner, Vonnegut, Capote, Carver, Bradbury, Jong, Robbins, Rod Serling).

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Words that make you go, "Wha-???"

So... how come you always hear about someone being "undaunted"... but you never hear about someone being "daunted"?

Or someone being "unhinged".... but you don't hear about someone being "hinged".

People are always "unfettered", "unhinged" and "unscathed"... but what about the girl who's living her life "fettered, completely hinged, and has come away scathed"?

If you are not impervious to attacks... are you "pervious"?

If you are not implusive... are you "pulsive"?

If James Bond is not incommunicado... is he "communicado"?

If you don't make a presumption... is it a "sumption"?

And if someone does not receive an award posthumously... does he receive it "humously"?

What about a location that's not nondescript... does that mean it's "descript"?

And if you break away from convention... is it a "vention"? Or are you "proventional"... but that can't be right because you're against the convention, so I guess you would be "conconventional".

I don't want to approach this whole subject nonchalant... so, does that mean I'm "chalant"?

And, if you don't contradict this whole absurd post... would that mean that you're "tradict"?

And if it's not absurd... is it "surd"?

*sigh*... words that make me go, "Wha-???"

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ted Nugent sums it up perfectly...

I don't know if this is a legitimate quote, as it came via a friend through one of those email chains, but it's hilarious nonetheless. Ted Nugent is an no-nonsense, up-front, in-your-face, conservative, pro-2nd amendment bow-hunter. This just sounds oh-so Nuge:

Ted Nugent, rock star and avid bow hunter from Michigan, was being interviewed by a French journalist and animal rights activist.

The discussion came around to deer hunting.

The journalist asked, "What do you think is the last thought in the head of a deer before you shoot him? Is it, 'Are you my friend?' Or is it 'Are you the one who killed my brother?"

Nugent replied, "Deer aren't capable of that kind of thinking. All they care about is, 'What am I going to eat next, who am I going to screw next, and can I run fast enough to get away.' They are very much like the French."

The interview ended at that point...

"Pro-Life" PA Dem. Senator Flip-Flops on Abortion Vote...

Hat-tip to the Curt Jester for this one. So-called "pro-life" U.S. Senator Bob Casey Jr. (Democrat) does a major flip-flop on an important abortion vote in the senate last week.

"Democrats who take a strong stand against abortion are few and far between -- especially in the United States Senate. When Bob Casey defeated Rick Santorum for a Pennsylvania seat in the Senate pro-life advocates hoped Casey would vote the same as his predecessor; but, Casey cast his first pro-abortion vote last week.

"Last Thursday, the Senate debate an amendment to a bill sponsored by pro-abortion Sen. Barbara Boxer of California regarding the Mexico City Policy.

"Boxer's amendment overturns the policy that President Reagan first instituted and President Bush revived in 2001 that protects taxpayers from funding groups that perform or promote abortions overseas.

"Pro-life groups strongly opposed the Boxer Amendment, but it was adopted on a 53-41 vote. Just 20 minutes later, pro-life Sen. Sam Brownback offered an amendment to undo the Boxer amendment but senators defeated it by the same margin.

"Casey voted for the Boxer amendment and but also for the Brownback amendment -- taking a seemingly contradicting stand on the abortion funding issue.

"On Monday, as David Freddoso of National Review notes, Casey said on the Senate floor that he had made a mistake -- but not because he voted to fund foreign abortions and abortion advocacy.

He said that, on the pro-life Brownback amendment, 'it was my intention to vote ‘nay.’ Therefore, I ask unanimous consent that I be permitted to change my vote since it will not affect the outcome of that vote.'

It goes on:
" 'If the Boxer Amendment, which Sen. Casey regrettably supported, was enacted,[' said National Right to Life legislative director, Douglas Johnson] 'it would force the removal of family planning funds from private organizations that stick to non-abortive methods, in order to give those funds to organizations that are committed to the promotion of abortion,' Johnson explained."

Pennsylvania voted out Santorum (an excellent senator, to say the least, and a 100%-firm pro-life senator) last November for this joke of an empty-suit politician with popular name-recognition (his dad, Bob Casey Sr., was PA governor).

PA was my home state for 30 years, but I've been a CA resident for the last 13 years... so, I don't have room to brag given that Boxer is my senator. But at least I always knew Boxer's stripes (and I've never voted for her). But, the Casey charade I saw from 3000 miles away. Yet PA still got duped.

Sometimes, you get what you deserve. Perhaps the citizens of the commonwealth of PA will wake-up and smell the coffee. Somehow, though, I doubt it.

Challenge to Scientific Consensus on Global Warming...

And this is just the tip of the iceberg (so-to-speak):

"A new analysis of peer-reviewed literature reveals that more than 500 scientists have published evidence refuting at least one element of current man-made global warming scares. More than 300 of the scientists found evidence that 1) a natural moderate 1,500-year climate cycle has produced more than a dozen global warmings similar to ours since the last Ice Age and/or that 2) our Modern Warming is linked strongly to variations in the sun's irradiance...

"Other researchers found evidence that 3) sea levels are failing to rise importantly; 4) that our storms and droughts are becoming fewer and milder with this warming as they did during previous global warmings; 5) that human deaths will be reduced with warming because cold kills twice as many people as heat; and 6) that corals, trees, birds, mammals, and butterflies are adapting well to the routine reality of changing climate."

Read the whole article.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where were you when...?

I was sleeping in bed in my California apartment. My alarm clock must have gone off earlier, and I must have hit the snooze button, because I faintly remember thinking that I had a dream about a plane crash of some sort.

I eventually woke up, and went to the bathroom. Then I headed toward my front door, opened it, and picked up the morning newspaper from the welcome mat.

As I re-entered my apartment the phone rang.

It was my sister, Valerie. She was hysterical. She asked me if my TV was on. I told her I had just woken up. I asked her what was wrong. She kept saying, "Just turn on the TV... turn on the TV right now!"

And there it was...

That strange dichotomy of the whole world both in utter chaos yet also standing still is stunned horror...

And all I kept saying was, "We're at war... Oh my God, we're at war."


Monday, September 10, 2007

OBL's 2nd tape, and more info on the Germany/Denmark captures...

Capt. Ed posts some more info about a supposed deadline for the terrorists who were captured in Germany and Denmark last week. Jihad Watch investigates that is could have involved up to 50 people.

Capt. Ed also mentions a second video tape by OBL, referencing 9/11 and one of the terrorists from that day. And Jihad Watch says that OBL is most likely in a remote northern area of Pakistan (Chitral).

Given that German surveillance tapped a phone call in late August from Northern Pakistan to the German terrorists who were caught, and that some of those same terrorists were recently trained in Pakistan, it makes sense that that's the location of OBL.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Osama Bin Hidin' sends us a little video greeting...

Yes, it's true... the demise of OBL has been greatly exaggerated. He decided to stick his head out of some cave and deliver us a message from his heart. His black beard is a sign that he's leading a jihad, otherwise it would be forbidden him to dye his beard. The fact that he mentions the new pro-American Prime Minister Sarkozy of France means that the message was recorded since the May French elections. He also is quoted as saying, "several days ago" Japan marked the 62nd anniversary of the Hiroshima & Nagasaki bombings. That places the time frame of the recording of the video to only four weeks ago.

Great updates and analysis from Jeffrey Imm over at Counter Terrorism, John Hinderaker at PowerLine, Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters, Robert Spencer's Sept 7 posts over at Jihad Watch, and Little Green Footballs. You can even read the entire 7-page transcript here (in .pdf format).

I urge everyone to read the transcript, and then read all of the analysis links. They're spot-on. They also point to the utter vapidness of the left-wing's take on the war in Iraq. When OBL practically quotes verbatim all of your key political talking points it's a sure sign that you're on the wrong side of the critical issue of our times.

Now remember... all we have to do is covert to Islam and submit to Shr'ia law, and all will be forgiven. As Capt. Ed puts it:

Isn't that sweet? If we just agree to live as slaves under our new Taliban masters, we can finance our homes at a flat 2.5% fee. Think of how liberating that will be! Well, except for the burqas, the barbers, the end of music, dancing, Judaism, Christianity, voting, the press, the 13th-21st centuries, science...

The Terrorism Timeline...

It's that time again to remind everyone about the extent of the actions and effects of terrorism throughout the world, and especially against the U.S. The following list (which I've posted here twice before) has been updated, but is by no means exhaustive:

Sep 4-5, 2007 --- Eight suspected al-Qaida linked terrorists arrested in Denmark (9/4) and another three arrested in Germany (9/5), foiling plots to attack U.S. and NATO sites in the respective countries.

Jul 21, 2007 --- Report alleges Iraqi smuggling ring works out of Chaparral, NM (can you say, "Secure the borders!"?).

Jul 20, 2007 --- TSA warns of dry-runs at airports. The seizures at airports in San Diego, Milwaukee, Houston and Baltimore included "wires, switches, pipes or tubes, cell phone components and dense clay-like substances, including block cheese."

Jul 5, 2007 --- San Diego airport checked baggage found containing two icepacks covered in duct tape. The icepacks had clay inside them rather than the normal blue gel.

July 2007 --- Michigan: The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday declared a Dearborn-based charity a front for the terrorist organization Hezbollah, and is an arm of the Iranian Martyrs Foundation, a group with offices in Lebanon and elsewhere that the U.S. government said funds the designated terrorist groups Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad and aids Palestinian suicide bombers and their families..

July 2007 --- Al-Qaeda threatens to escalate attacks in North Africa

July 2007 --- U.S. Muslim convert gets 10 years for Al-Qaeda training, participation in Somali jihad.

July 2007 --- links between British Jihadist investigations and threats against the USA included July 5 report that 45 doctors had used UK jihadist web site to make plans to attack US facilities such as the shipping facilities for USS John F Kennedy in Jacksonville, Florida, July 6 reports that two of the UK car bomb doctors sought work in Philadelphia, and July 4 report that AQ attacks in USA would follow attacks in UK. On July 6, it was reported by AP and the Philadelphia Inquirer that two of the UK car bomb doctors sought work in the United States in Philadelphia.

Jun 30, 2007 --- Jeep Cherokee driven into the glass doors of the main terminal of Glasgow International Airport, and burst into flames. A suspected car bomb failed to detonate, and the driver of the car, Kafeel Ahmed,[6] on fire after allegedly dousing himself himself in fuel, together with a second suspect Bilal Abdulla, accused of being the Jeep's passenger, attacked the police.

Jun 29, 2007 --- Two unexploded car bombs were discovered in London.

Jun 4, 2007 --- Milwaukee, WI: The carry-on baggage of a USPER contained several items resembling IED components, such as a wire coil wrapped around a possible initiator, an electrical switch, batteries, three tubes, and two blocks of cheese.

Jun 3, 2007 --- John F. Kennedy International Airport terror plot. Thwarted homegrown Islamist terrorism plot to destroy the fuel supply system for the airport located in New York City and cause a large amount of causalities by blowing up the connecting pipeline system that runs through densely populated neighborhoods.

May 7, 2007 --- Fort Dix attack plot: Six men inspired by Jihadist videos arrested in the US, in a failed homegrown terrorism plot to kill US soldiers.

Apr 28, 2007 --- Saudi Arabia announced it has arrested one hundred and seventy two people in an Al Queda plot to attack oil facilities, military bases and public figures using civilian aircraft as suicide missiles.

Apr 12, 2007 --- A U.S. federal grand jury indicted Christopher Paul, 43, a U.S. citizen and resident of Columbus, Ohio on charges of joining al-Qaida and conspiring to bomb European tourist resorts and U.S. government facilities and military bases overseas.

Nov 21, 2006 --- “Fly Imams” incident in Minneapolis Airport (U.S. Airways).

Nov 20 2006 --- A suspected terrorist bomb explodes on a train in India (West Bengal).

Nov 8, 2006 --- Houston, TX: A USPER’s checked baggage contained a plastic bag with a 9-volt battery, wires, a block of brown clay-like minerals, and pipes.

Sep 19, 2006 --- Military coup in Thailand by a Muslim General.

Sep 16, 2006 --- Baltimore, MD: The checked baggage of a couple contained a plastic bag with a block of processed cheese taped to another plastic bag holding a cellular phone charger.

Sept 2006 --- Threats to assassinate Pope Benedict XVI.

Sep 12, 2006 --- Failed U.S. embassy attack in Damascus, Syria.

Aug 10, 2006 --- UK to USA flights (arrests made - foiled plot to involve 10 airplanes over Atlantic Ocean)

Jul/Aug '06 --- Hamas & Hezbullah (kidnapping and bombing of Israel)

Jul 31, 2006 --- Koblenz & Dortmund, Germany (two unexploded suitcase bombs on trains found)

Jul 11, 2006 --- Mumbai (Bombay), India (train bombings)

Jun 3, 2006 --- Toronto, Canada (17 arrested - foiled plot to use 3 tons of explosives in Toronto)

Mar 7, 2006 --- Varanasi, India bombing

Oct 1, 2005 --- Bali bombing (two locales)

Jul 7, 2005 --- London bombing (trains/underground)

Jun 2005 --- Operatives discreetly practiced a mock attack while riding the London subway in late June 2005.

Thru-out '05 --- repeated suicide bombings throughout Israel

Thru-out '05 --- Paris riots

Sep 9, 2004 --- Bali bombing (Australian embassy)

Sep 4, 2004 --- Beslan school hostage (Chechen)

Jun 29, 2004 –-- Northwest Flight#327 from Detroit to L.A. The “13 Syrian Musicians” dry-run (confirmed as a dry-run by declassified Feds report in May 2007).

Mar 11, 2004 --- Madrid bombing (trains)

Aug 5, 2003 --- Jakarta bombing (Marriott Hotel)

Oct 26, 2002 --- Moscow theater (Chechen)

Oct 12, 2002 --- Bali bombing (Kuta)

Thru-out '02 --- Daniel Pearl and others kidnapped and beheaded

Dec 13, 2001 --- New Delhi, India (Parliament bombing)

Oct 29, 2001 --- New Delhi, India (bombing)

Sep/Oct, ‘01 --- Anthrax letters in the U.S. Postal delivery (5 dead, 21 illnesses)

Sep 11, 2001 --- WTC/Pentagon/Western PA

Oct 12, 2000 --- USS Cole attack

Dec 31, 1999 --- The failed attempt at major terror attacks on the Millennium (thanks to a sharp Washington State border patrol officer who stopped one of the terrorists trying to drive across the border, and found explosive materials in the trunk of the car.)

1999 --- Second planned attempt to assassinate Pope John Paul II in Manila (the Pope cancelled trip due to illness)

Aug 7, 1998 --- Nairobi (bombing of US Embassies – Kenya and Tanzania)

Jun 25, 1996 --- Saudi Arabia (Kobar Towers bombing)

Jan 1995 --- Planned assassination attempt of Pope John Paul II in Manila (Ramzi Yousef injured himself before the attempt)

In 1995 --- attempted airline bombing plot over Pacific Ocean

In 1994 --- Buenos Aires Jewish Center bombing

Oct 3, 1993 --- Mogadishu, Somalia (Black Hawk Down)

Feb 26, 1993 --- NYC (the first WTC bombing)

Dec 21, 1988 --- PanAm 103 (Lockerbie, Scotland)

In 1985 --- TWA flight 847 hijacking (Athens, Greece)

Oct 7, 1985 --- Achille Lauro (cruise ship killing)

Oct 23, 1983 --- Beirut (US Marines barracks bombed)

May 13, 1981 --- Assassination attempt of Pope John Paul II by Turkish Muslim, Mehmet Ali Ağca (hired by Soviets)

1979-80 --- Iranian hostage crisis (444 days)

Sep 5, 1972 --- Munich (Olympics - Israeli hostages killed)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

YES!!!... happy dance-happy dance...

I have successfully avoided jury duty service this week (woo-hoo)!

By just one number - the usually dreaded "group number" - I have avoided even the need to show up at the courthouse. They assigned me to Group 46, and they're only calling in Groups 1-45 for the week.

Now, I'm not against doing my civic duty. It's just that, since I've already served on two separate murder trials - and I'm in my mid-40s (ouch, that stumbled off the tongue a bit hesitantly) - I figure that I've more than fulfilled my lifetime supply of civic dutiness. Unfortunately, "they" don't seem to agree with me on that point. But that doesn't matter, for I am in the clear - at least for the next 12 months.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Links for some Catholic Humor and some Spiritual Common Sense...

Curt Jester has a hilarious post that will only make sense to fellow Catholics.

And First Things has "the secret" to spiritual common sense.


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Lame attempts at being artistic #2...


Round Two of my fledgling attempts at being artistic with a simple digital point-n-click camera.


These are obvious close-ups of some items just laying around on the coast. They both had some intriguing details.


I came across this little display that was propped up by someone and then just left there. The incoming tide eventually knocked it down.


Cropping is everything. This was the best of only three similar pictures I took that day. I just cropped it with a simple computer program, and "Wah-LAH!"... a perfect poster for framing (yeah, right).