Friday, June 30, 2017

Happy Birthday, Canada!

150 years old today.  Here are some fun facts.

As an American, I think we're darn lucky to have them as a neighbor.  It could have been worse.  A lot worse.  Just look around the world for examples of testy border relations.  For that matter, look no further than the U.S.-Mexico border.  All sorts of shenanigans go on down there, and in both directions.

So thanks for being a pal, Canada.  :)

I also found this on Wikipedia:

Today there are close cultural ties, many similar and identical traits[13][14][15][16] and according to Gallup's annual public opinion polls, Canada has consistently been Americans' favorite nation, with 96% of Americans viewing Canada favorably in 2012.[17][18] According to a 2013 BBC World Service Poll, 84% of Americans view their northern neighbor's influence positively, with only 5% expressing a negative view, the most favorable perception of Canada in the world. As of spring 2013, 64% of Canadians had a favorable view of the U.S. and 81% expressed confidence in then-US President Obama to do the right thing in international matters. According to the same poll, 30% viewed the U.S. negatively.[19] Also, according to a 2014 BBC World Service Poll, 86% of Americans view Canada's influence positively, with only 5% expressing a negative view. However, according to the same poll, 43% of Canadians view U.S. influence positively, with 52% expressing a negative view.[20]

So we like them, but they just sort of tolerate us.  Lol...  Oh, well.  Can't win 'em all, I guess.  No hard feelings, though, guys.  :D

Monday, June 26, 2017

I sort of want one

Talking about toothpick crossbows:

Despite its tiny size, a toothpick launched by the crossbow is powerful enough to pierce an aluminum can from 20 to 66 feet, according to toy packaging shown in a video by China's state broadcaster CCTV.

I think it would be more fun to build one, though, than to buy one.

And on that note, I've always thought it would be cool to build a ballista.  Should be easy enough with materials from Home Depot.  Maybe some day...

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Stephen Furst has died :(

The Babylon 5 curse has struck again.  Stephen Furst, who played Vir Cotto on the show, has passed away at the age of 62.

I suppose most people will remember him for playing Flounder on Animal House, but he'll always be Vir to me.  His character was an uncertain, sort of nervous fellow, and could be taken for a wimp at first glance.  And that's exactly how most of the other characters saw him: as a spineless butterball.  But there was a core of iron in Vir.  He was one of the few to resist Mr. Morden's tempting offers.  He assassinated an insane, murderous emperor, and later became emperor himself.  He was a good, honest, noble guy, very different from his fellow Centauri.  One might even say he was the conscience of the show.

And he was a patriot who didn't take any crap from the Drazi:

In an early season--the second one, I think--he meets with Mr. Morden, as each of the main cast did:

Later, in season 4 (I think) Vir gets what he wants:

Stephen Furst lost a lot of weight at some point in the series, and it shows in these two clips.  You can see the difference in his face and build.

It sucks that he finally lost his battle with diabetes, and at such a relatively young age.  He was a fine actor, and, from what I can tell, a fine man.  R.I.P., Mr. Furst.  :(

Big, Bad, and Blue!

One of my favorite DCI shows of all time is now on youtube in its entirety.  It's the Blue Devils' Big, Bad, and Blue show from 1992.

The clip ends right at the end of the performance, so you don't get to hear the crowd reaction and the commentary from the announcers like you would have if you'd seen it on the live broadcast.  But the crowd loved it, and one of the announcers called it, "Sultry, sultry stuff on a Saturday night!"

It was indeed sultry, and the finale, When A Man Loves A Woman, was pure sex.

It looks like DCI has uploaded a bunch of videos in the past few days, so if you're into those old shows, there's plenty of new content on their channel for you to watch.

Anyway, without further ado, here's Big, Bad, and Blue:

Friday, June 16, 2017

And now for some bluegrass

I browse youtube occasionally, and sometimes I find some good stuff.  This video isn't the best quality--probably a cell phone--but you can tell those fellows can play.  The guitarist's voice is pretty good, too.

I just wish the cameraman had kept the focus on the banjoist for the whole of the banjo break.  Always focus on the soloist!

Anyway, nice job, guys, and keep on picking.  :D

For comparison, here's Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys performing the same song back in the 1980's:

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thanks, Tennessee!

There's been a lot of tension here in Georgia recently due to the escape of a pair of convicts.  The two men, Ricky Dubose and Donnie Rowe, killed a pair of guards during the escape and took their pistols.  That's a real "point of no return" thing to do, because it means you are armed and have committed murder, and if the cops find you, they will shoot you if you don't surrender immediately.  Dubose and Rowe knew that, and that means they had nothing more to lose, and that made them very dangerous.

Not only were a number of law enforcement agencies involved in the manhunt, but ordinary citizens also became a bit more wary than usual.  People who don't normally carry guns started toting their AR-15s around their farms while feeding the livestock.

But it's all over now, thanks to the good folks of Tennessee.  Dubose and Rowe made it as far as the Shelbyville area before their luck ran out.  They tried to steal yet another vehicle, but the brave homeowner confronted them and held them at gunpoint until the cops could arrive.

Anyway, I'm glad it's over, and thanks to the people of Tennessee for putting an end to it all without any further loss of innocent life.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Wars of the Roses

Those wars were the inspiration for George R.R. Martin's series.  Here's a brief comparison of the wars to the tv show Game of Thrones for fans who might be interested.  Check it out:

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Michael Sullivan chimes in about audio rights

There's a thread on kboards about how Michael Sullivan wasn't able to negotiate audio rights as part of standard contract negotiations.  Apparently, audio is non-negotiable as far as trad-pub is concerned.  The thread goes on for a few pages of speculation before Sullivan himself shows up to clear up some of the confusion.  It's some "good to know" stuff, so check it out:

Sullivan is the author of the Riyria fantasy series.  (And yes, I totally misspelled Riyria on my first attempt.  I had to look it up.  Lol...)

The takeaway from his experience: trad-pub wants All The Things from authors who don't know any better, and they're less likely to negotiate now than they were a few years ago.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Thinking of Jerry Reed

A recent thread on kboards got me to thinking about Smokey and the Bandit, and that, naturally, got me to thinking about the music of Jerry Reed.  Here he is with Chet Atkins:

And again, a number of years later:

Jerry Reed also wrote and performed some of the music for Smokey and the Bandit, such as this intro song:

Jerry Reed died in 2008.  I hate the fact that his last acting role was as a villain in an Adam Sandler film.  He deserved better than that.  But them's the breaks, I guess.  Life is what happens to you while you're making plans.

Anyway, I was thinking about Jerry.  Man, what a talent.