Bugged by a crazy idea

For the last few days a silly idea has been bugging me.

We moved into this condo a year ago in May, May 2008 to be precise. In what has become my office we have a nook where someone expected a wet-bar to be installed. There is a sink, wioth working water, and racks above for cocktail glasses. We’ve not planned to use it as a wet bar and mainly just use it as storage currently.

I was online at Amazon and I saw home soda kits available for purchase. Now I buy a lot of soft drink and thought that this might be a way to save money. (The mark-up on soft drinks is outrageous.) Well, the kits for sale certainly didn’t pan out. These counter top units make two liters at a time and that would have been plenty for me, but they use off brand syrups. In other words it would have been generic colas and not the name brands I like. The name brands are not sold in consumer sized lots, but rather in three and five gallon bags-in-boxes for used with pressurized soda fountains. I am very picky about the tastes of my soda and I certain the off-label brands would not have satisfied me.

Soda fountains…..

Here’s where the madness began.

How about installing a soda fountain in the nook where the wet-bar would be. It has water line, power, and space. There would be easy access from my office and the living room – where my friends and I game and watch movies — which is right off my office.

I went as far as to do internet searches on systems. Boy, are they expensive.  Two flavor towers brand new can run $1500. It would be a long time before that investment paid off in savings. ( about a 12 pack per week, @ 5.99 per pack means I spend per year about $312. Evne if I cut my costs in half it would take about 10 years to pay off.)

Of course used systems are much cheaper…..

It’s a silly idea, but one that holds a strange fascination for me.


Sunday Night Movie: The Princess Bride

theprincessbrideIt is hard to believe that it has been twenty-two years since I first saw the film, The Princess Bride. The film took my breath away with its romance, its humor, and its action. This was and still is a wonderful  film to discover. William Goldman, author of the novel and the screenplay, subverts the cliches of the fairly tale without mocking them. He takes a fairly standard plot-line and set of baseline characters and weaves something truly original. The novel is well worth the time to read, even if you have seen the movie. People interested in adaptation of novels to screenplays should pay strict attention as Goldman is the master of the art. (Some of his previous adaptations, include Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, Marathon Man, and The Ghost and the Darkness.) This perfect date movie was directed flawless by Rob Reiner, son of comedian legend Carl Reiner and a talent who has become a force for directional skill and artistry in his own right.

Reiner cast the film perfectly, Carey Elwes as Westley, Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, and Andre the Giant as Fezzik the Giant. (in fact Goldman tells us that the role of Fezzik was written with Andre The Giant in mind so it truly was perfect casting.)

After suffering through The Mist as last weekend’s Sunday Night Movie, I knew I wanted to watch a film that would make me feel good about life and love and dreams. Something to cleanse my palate, my mind, and my soul of the foul taste that wretched film left behind. It was down to my favorite — emotionally speaking – film of all time, The Princess Bride.

Despite suffering from a headache all day Sunday (one that plagues me even now even as I write this on Monday night) The Princess Bride lifted my spirits, brought joy to my heart, and laughter to my lips. I also had a spot of inspiration into the ending fight for my novel Cawdor.  It will sort of be the inverse of the final fight between Inigo and Count Rugen – The Six Fingered Man. The hero will say nothing all during the fight. She will be an implacable force for vengeance.

This film is medicine for the soul. It washes away cynicism and helps reveal a better heart.


Board Game Review Last Night On Earth

My sweetie-wife and I are board and card gamers as frequent visitors to this blog are aware and recently we had the chance to play a new boardgame. We have now played three games of Last Night On Earth: The Zombie Game.

The creators of the games certainly know their zombie and horror movie cliches. The game is a contest between the human player(s) and the Zombie player(s). The game can support from 2 to 6 players. The game board has a central section, and four outer boards that make up the playing surface. There are a total of six outer boards in the game, so that creates a number of different board layouts. Players act as heroes, individual characters with special traits and abilities trying to survive a night of Zombie infestation. (In the most basic game victory conditions for the Heroes is to kill 15 Zombies before 15 turns expire. Other scenarios have different victory conditions.) Heroes have the advantages that they can get items and weapons and move faster than the zombies. The Zombies have the advantages of endless numbers and a limited time factor on The heroes.

The game mechanics are fairly straight forward and simple. Combat is risk-like with each side rolling dice and comparing the highest dice to determine the winner of the fight.

The game plays in 60-90 minutes and it is fast paced. I found the play to be exciting and with enough decision points to keep the game from becoming stale or predictable.

If you watch zombie movies and you like boardgames give this a try.


Board and Card gaming tonight

So tonight we’ll have friends over and try out a six player game of ‘Last Night On Earth’ the Zombie board game. I’ve played two games of it so far, one with my sweetie-wife and one last night with a total of four players and its a fun little game. Tonight with six should be interesting, and tonight we’ll play the soundtrack CD that came with the game.


The New Model

If any doubts that theatrical exhibition is becoming a form of advertisement for the DVD/Blu-ray version of movies, consider this point of evidence:

G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra went from theaters to Blu-Ray in 90 days.


The recent off-cycle elections

First point to make: everyone spins there losses as not being pertinent to the situation and everyone conversely spins their victories as great and meaningful. So a lot of the spin going on from on high and punditry in general is meaningless. Were the results of any particular result reversed, the sides would smoothly flip to saying the exact opposite.

Not too long ago prominent Republicans were telling us that “deficits do not matter.” Now they are a matter of life and death and when power switches hands again in Washington — and it will boys and girls it’s only a matter of when — then they will once again feel that deficits do not matter.

All that said I think the NY-23 district was an interesting race. The forces of Conservative Populism (A term I picked up from Nate Silver) chased the Republican candidate from the field and delivered the district to the democrats. So far the CP movement has delivered two seats to the Democratic party. (Sen. Arlen Specter and now NY-23) There are those who think this is a good thing. That the Republican Party needs to be more Conservative and there is an argument for that. It’s hard to win if you are trying to be the opposition-lite. However, in our two party, winner take all system, to win you need your base and you need the middles. Whoever does that wins. Making your base more extreme at the cost of the middle doesn’t strike me as a winning strategy. (This would matter less if we had proportional representation, then we’d have more parties and the parties could be more ideologically defined. That’s not our system so a drive for purity yields losses.)

I will not extrapolate these results into predictions for 2010 and hell no for 2012., There’s way too much time and way too many events between here and there.


Odds and Ends

So I worked overtime tonight at my day-job and that sucked up some hours out of my day. That means I didn’t get as much writing done as I would have liked. Oh well, it will look good on my next paycheck,

I currently reading a non-fiction Book, ‘The Evolution Of God”. It;s really interesting and will likely influence aspect of Cawdor as I write it.

Loscon 2009 is coming up and I am started to get jazzed. I’ve had my membership for a year and rooms are now reserved,


Sunday Night Movie: The Mist

the_mist_movie_poster So with a nod towards Halloween my Sunday Night movie this weekend was The Mist. The Mist is a monster movie based on the Stephen King novella os the same title. I had hear a number of good things about this film and it’s been sitting in my Netflix queue for sometime, so I decided that Halloween was the perfect time to give it a spin.

I was disappointed. This film did not work for me and frankly left me rather cold. It may be that I have grown out of my Stephen King phase or it could be that King has grown stale. Either way too many of the elements to the story felt like stock and formula elements rather than facet of a storyline.

The Mist is a story about a small New England town that is suddenly engulfed in a mysterious mist one day following a terrible storm. The protagonist of the film is David Drayton, played by Thomas Jane, a graphic artist with a loving wife and intelligent little boy. His life is complicated by his neighbor, Brent Norton (played by Andre Braugher) a big shot lawyer with whom Drayton has scuffled in court over property damages. The two, along with Drayton’s son, drive into town for supplies following the storm and are trapped in the local supermarket when the mist closes in around the town.

Quickly it become apparent that there is something in the mist and it is death to go out into it. There are a number of other people trapped in the supermarket and it’s clear that everyone here is part of the stock company of Stephen King characters. David Drayton himself is the smart, talented and usually liked artist. Brant Norton is the unlikeable lawyer/business man type, you have the not-too-bright and even less courageous mechanics in Jim and Myron, the likable and sweet high school girl who babysits for the locals, the shy boy, and the character no King story can possible be without, the Christian Zealot, here embodied by Mrs. Carmody, played by Marcia Gay Harden.

Mrs Carmody is truly a character I am tired of seeing. She is not a character as much as she is parody of a character. King’s dislike of christian characters is evident in  work and Mrs. Carmody is no exception. There was nothing interesting, new, or exciting with this set of characters captured in this plot.

The majority of the screentime is spent as a siege movie. The people trapped in the store struggling to over the the events tossed at them. This whole story is pretty much the opposite of a character driven piece. Here events happen, tentacles grab people, giant bugs fly into the store with deadly stingers, and people react to these events. Overall I will give this to the film, the main characters do NOT act like professional victims. They generally figure out the right approaches and right techniques to deal with the situation. However they are reactive and that in my book generally makes for more boring stories.

The film remained so-so right up until the resolution when it jumped the shark and turned into utter garbage. To explain why I feel that was will mean spoilers, so if you wanna know, follow me through the jump.

Continue reading Sunday Night Movie: The Mist


Literary Saboteur

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