Monday, December 28, 2009

Randy 'Brianna' Beth Clarke (1980-2009)

No doubt you all have been wondering where I've been the past couple of weeks. The day after my last post, my dear friend Bri died at the age of 29. Bri had a mitochondrial disease, whch affected her on a cellular level. Despite this, she never stopped doing whatever the hell she wanted.

We met when I rejoined DS495, a DC area Star Trek fan group (that sadly no longer exists). She and I were a lot younger then and got along quite well. At the time, she wanted to be a writer in the worst kind of way and often submitted stories to the group newsletter. When DS495 dissolved, we would chat online fairly often and see each other at conventions. Bri eventually decided to concentrate on her Master's degree in History rather than working to be a novelist. She had just finished her two final papers before her passing. George Mason University will be posthumously awarding her degree, which I think is just awesome.

Bri's death was quite sudden and has hit her family and friends like a freight train. As cliche as this sounds, it's been a bit of a wake-up call to me. Hopefully, I won't put that call on hold like I've done so many times before. Thanks for indulging me and my absence during what's been a rather difficult time.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A View from Borders

Every once in a while, I hang out at Borders and type up blog posts. Each time brings something odd, annoying, and sometimes even cool.

  • A young couple sitting at the table adjacent to mine felt the need to pour through women's fashion magazines citing who was ugly... rather loudly. And the guy offering most of the commentary? Horses laugh at him.
  • Invariably, people come in with their laptops and stay for hours, believing the one cup of coffee they bought three hours previous entitles them to park at the outlet-accessible tables forever.
  • There's just something about a woman confident to wear jeans and a sweatshirt with her hair up that I find incredibly alluring.
  • Matt, the barista here at the Manassas Borders, is pretty cool.
  • If the squirming in the chair is any indication, I think the girl in the comfy chair near the window is trying to pull off a one-cheek sneak.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


No time for love, Dr. Jones! Heading to Tony Stark's party at the Udvar-Hazy Annex of the Air & Space Museum.

Update: Here's a blurry pic!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pirate Radio

Editor's Note: If it's not one thing, it's another. First connectivity and now, for some reason, I can't get the automated posting thing to work. Bear with me if you would. Thanks.

I caught the movie Pirate Radio the other night and if I were a schoolteacher, the film would get a B or a B- from me. For those unfamiliar, there was no radio station in Britain during the late 1960s that broadcasted rock for any length of time. To right this particular wrong (it was the 1960s after all), ships anchored themselves off of the British coast and piped in unlicensed broadcasts to the masses -- not unlike the Voice of America effort.

There's a lot to like in the film. The DJs on the ship are a fun, rowdy lot and even the government bureaucrats trying to end the very popular pirate radio transmissions are fun to watch. We see a minor Coming of Age story, a bit of angst, a DJ pissing contest, and cartoonish government bumbling. While this is all fun, there's a plot point that hinges on a massive piece of BS drama resolved only by suspending your disbelief, attaching it to a hot air balloon, and never seeing it again.

That said, the film's cast is simply amazing. Bill Nighy continues to be one of the most awesome underrated actors of our time. Philip Seymour Hoffman is good but not nearly as much as he was in Capote. Kenneth Branagh gets a chance to do some comedy and the rest of the cast makes a good effort to make this enjoyable.

Pirate Radio is a fun movie, but not the sort of thing you'll want to watch over and over. It's worth a rental.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Biggest Loser Unhealthy?

A friend of mine sent me this article in the November 24 edition of the New York Times. The gist of the article is that some contestants on The Biggest Loser resort to high school wrestling tricks to maximize their weight loss at those end-of-episode weigh-ins.

Honestly, I'm not surprised that some folks would do this. There's a $250,000 prize in addition to having two professional trainers, round-the-clock medical coverage, and a bit of relaxation in the form of "The Ranch". Money is a hell of a motivator, but that's not really why these people are supposedly participating. Every season, all season long, every contestant talks about "getting my life back." I'm curious when the motivator moves from getting healthy to show me the money.

I hate to sound like a dork, but the show did inspire me to lose some serious weight this summer. May began with yours truly weighing in at 275lbs. Today, I'm 230. While I've more or less taken the month off from the gym, the loss came from working out every day and eating better. This isn't to say I was a perfect angel about food all the time. Occasionally, I'd have a burger or hit Taco Bell but the key was moderation. That said, maintaining willpower was incredibly hard to do after the second month started. That's when the cravings began. I would wake up wanting to eat a dozen tacos or be tempted to eat an entire box of granola bars on a random workday afternoon. Either I'm somewhat unique about the cravings or it's an issue that's never been addressed on the show.

This week's finale showed some truly ghastly contestant transformations. A couple of the women appeared as if there might have been starvation used to make that final weigh-in. Some of the men looked just plain uncomfortable. While I'd jump at the chance to spend 12 weeks on The Ranch with a stocked kitchen of healthy food and a fully-equipped gym, I don't think money would ever be my reason for participating. I'd just want the chance to stay there as long as possible.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Weight A Minute

Biggest Loser finale is on tonight, so I'll be parked in front of the TV like the other 35 million slack-jawed American viewers.


This is what I was doing instead of posting last night. My bad. Today's post coming later.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

DC Comics Double Feature Tonight!

Looking forward to finally seeing Green Lantern: First Flight and Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. The direct-to-video DC stuff has mostly been lackluster thus far (though I still adore New Frontier) so I don't have high hopes. However, I remain optimistic.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Watch Out for That Plane!

Heading out to see Hitchcock's masterpiece, North By Northwest at the AFI Silver in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Friday, December 4, 2009

This Guy Rocks

If you like songs about zombies, higher math, and dreams of world domination, Jonathan Coulton should be your songsmith. Listen to his songs for free here and I highly recommend ordering the MP3s and CDs because you will never ever get those songs out of your head.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Selling Stuff for Amy Zahn

My pal Smacky has inspired me to begin selling stuff on Amazon instead of eBay. The once vaunted eBay has become more and more frustrating to use as a seller and I still have a ton of stuff to clear from my cluttered house. I figured I would give Amazon a go and the results have been rather busy.

Over the past two weeks since I started this, I've been averaging one order per day. Every day on my lunch break, I've been carting stuff off to be shipped. I'm not making a mint from this by any means but I am making back most of what I paid for this stuff in the first place. Of course, with the holidays coming up, any extra cash is a good thing to have around.

Here's a list of what I have so far. I'll try to get around to putting this stuff in the sidebar eventually, but here's the list for now:

More DVDs and stuff will be headed toward Amazon in the coming days. Look for the seller known as filmfaninva and leave off the last 's' for savings!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lists and Lists

Shameless stolen from my pal Smacky...

Websites I Check Daily:

Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin
Siskoid's Blog of Geekery

Magazines To Which I Subscribe:

Symmetry (it's about particle physics and it's free)

Things I Can't Live Without:

(we'll leave out the obvious stuff like food, water, etc.)

Places I Have Lived:
Aylesbury, United Kingdom
Wichita Falls, Texas
Goldsboro, North Carolina
Jacksonville, Florida
Clemson, South Carolina

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sea-Goin' Blockbuster

Not a lot of time to write tonight, so here's something you can never have enough of: dinosaurs in World War II!

I bet JFK could have kicked a dinosaur's ass with one arm tied behind his back. And how do we know he didn't?

Kablaam! It's a Ferrous Wheel!

Ever wonder where you can buy the t-shirts worn by the cast of Big Bang Theory? Well wonder no more as Sheldon's Shirts has done most of the legwork for you. Big thanks to Smacky for finding this site.

If that doesn't sate your appetite for geeky t-shirts, there's always the clothing section of ThinkGeek.

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