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Thanks for stopping by. With some quick and valuable assistance from Jonah Weiland, I've put together my own blogger on my own web site. So I'm closing this down. Or, rather, I'm leaving it open as a pointer to the new blogger.
Please come and visit me at VariousAndSundry.com now. I'll be sticking around there for awhile. It's that whole "pride in ownership" thing. =) You won't need to register or anything, but you can if you'd like. Whatever makes you happy.
Forget your wish list of movies you'd like to see on DVD. We'll do that another time.
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Right now, I want some way to keep track of what's coming out DVD and when so I can remember when I'm supposed to be buying all the discs that look really good. I want to budget things out better. I should just start a simple text file and cut and paste names, dates, and prices into there as I go along and as movies are released. Yet, I don't. It's all my fault. I'm just whining now.
But I think it might make for an interesting web app. I know there's a place to keep track of your DVD collection on-line. Why not a DVD Want List collection? The closest I can do right now is go to Amazon.com and add discs to my wish list, but even that's a pain sometimes. Amazon doesn't always update their listings right away, so when a title is first announced (say, on The Digital Bits, I want to update right then and there while I think about it. I don't want to have to remember to look it up on Amazon a week later.
Back to the text pad, I suppose.
MONSTERS INC. this week, by the way. Very cute movie.
I have to pop in here to recommend Cindy Adams' column from today. It's a hilarious romp through modern fashion, and one I can't help but to agree to. I'm so glad I'm a guy and don't have to worry about not being able to find jeans in stores that don't hang six inches below my navel, or hug my thighs like spandex. Of course, being completely non-fashion oriented probably helps, too. Give me a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and I'm fine.
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Update: Unreal Tournament 3000's demo seems to be going well. There's talk of a patch coming out for it today already, and it seems the server system is down all ready. I can't play any games on-line this afternoon.
Picked up the COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO DVD this weekend. I enjoyed the movie in the theater back in January. It's nothing spectacular, but it did modestly well and deserves more praise than I think it originally got. The DVD includes a bit on crafting a swordfight, which I can't wait to get around to. Nothing like a good swordfight to make a movie cool. ;-)
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The new demo for UNREAL TOURNAMENT 2003 is now available for download from a million different places. Just went up last night. If you want to find it, do a Google search or, better yet, do what I did and run straight to your local friendly P2P service, such as Kazaa and download it. Search on "UT2003". This morning, I tried a dozen mirror sites and couldn't get through. I went to Kazaa and had it downloaded through my cable modem in 20 minutes. The download is 100 MB, although I believe the main UT web site offers the chance to order a CD with it.
The game was originally scheduled for full release at the beginning of October. I wonder if that's been pushed back, also. From what I've heard, this demo was due months ago.
So excuse me now while I go do some on-line gaming. Ah, the glories of having a cable modem. Someday I'll stop downloading stuff and actually use my computer to do things I've always used it for -- like writing Tuesday's column! UGH, I'm falling behind again already.
I'm skirting close to the comics line here, but not really. You'll understand in a moment.
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I don't read too many novels anymore. I rarely have, to tell you the truth. I had a couple of summers in high school where I did, for fun. Mostly Isaac Asimov stuff, some Ben Bova, some Michael Crichton. I get a bit hesitant to commit to reading 300 pages at a time, though. I'm not that fast a reader. I'm not one of those who can sit out on the porch with a book for the afternoon and read it cover to cover. It must be a generational thing, but I just can't sit still and do one thing for that long.
(That said, there are a couple of books that I've read in one day. I had a job one summer to sit in a bank's record room to "guard" the files while lawyers looked through them. I sat at the end of the table and read novels and comics all summer. At that time I was going through my STAR TREK phase. I read Peter David's book, IMZADI, in one sitting. Great book. Peter David is one of two people who can write exciting and interesting STAR TREK books. Diane Duane is the other. I also believe I read all of Michael Crichton's TIMELINE in one day -- Christmas Eve, as I recall.)
But back to Rucka: I met him at a comic book convention in 2001. I mentioned to him how I wanted to read his novels, but I haven't gotten to them yet, and that I seem to have been ruined by comics. Novels drive me mad because they're all cerebral and nothing ever happens. Rucka looked straight at me and said, "No. That's just bad writing."
He's right. This summer, I read the first three books of his Atticus Kodiak series. KEEPER, FINDER, and SMOKER. They're amazing books that I just couldn't put down, no matter how hard I tried. I don't think a single one lasted more than three days before I finished reading it. Kodiak is a "bodyguard" in New York City, who takes on an interesting assortment of cases seemingly designed to keep those with a left wing political view happy. (Abortion clinics in the first book, a military man with AIDS in the second, and the tobacco industry in the third.) But these books move. They're the very definition of page turners. They're not dumb action books, either. Rucka's done his research and it shows on the page. He goes into detail on things like weapons and procedures. You'll learn stuff you didn't realize you wanted to know through these.
You can read any one of the books separately, but I would suggest starting at the beginning and going in sequence. It's not like with other authors, where their first book is interesting only for historial purposes. Rucka hits the ground running and never stops. These are very good books.
Rucka is currently writing the politically-charged spy comic, QUEEN AND COUNTRY, for Oni Press. Give that a shot sometime, too. It's one of the best comics published today.
Not much on television today. It's all September 11th coverage. I hate to jump on this particular bandwagon, but I don't have any big desire to go reliving that right now, thanks. Me and mine came out of it without a scratch, mind you, but it's overkill. I'll probably pop in a DVD tonight. No, wait, I have a column to write tonight. Crap. Deadlines creep up when you least expect them.
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Oh, and JUNKYARD WARS might be new, too. There's a documentary on the Washington Monument on one of the cable stations, also. Having just been to the top of that landmark this past weekend, I'm interested in seeing what might be in that special.
In the meantime, I'll include some of the text of a DVD column I wrote back at the beginning of the year. Some of this will, obviously, be dated by now. I was working on a format to submit to a web site, that I didn't get done in time. I had two days to put something together. At least, I thought I did. Then I realized I had misread the page and it was actually due the day before and submissions had been closed off. Ah, well...
So, here's the first half of the column. I'll present the other half in the coming days.
I am one of those people who often open a DVD package to look at the discs long before I actually play them. There’s a DVD retailer downstairs from where I work, and I'll often pick stuff up there. When I get back to my desk, I'll crack open the package and take a look in. Why? I don't know why. I suppose part of it is curiosity over packaging. Will there be a booklet inside with anything interesting to read? Usually, there's not. It's just a disc or two. If there's an image on the disc, it's one of the promo shots I've already seen.
Yet I still open the package early. It just completes the experience of purchasing a disc. Weird, but true.
I picked up BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: Season One in that store today. I ripped the plastic off as soon as I got to my desk and opened the box right up. (Luckily, my co-workers are used to the sound of plastic being ripped from DVD cases in the office by now.) I saved the plastic in this case so I could show you the sticker on the packaging: It boasts that "All 24 Episodes" are contained on the three-disc set.
Whoops. There are only a dozen episodes (the first being two hours) in the set. And who would want 8 hours of video compressed on a DVD? Wait, you couldn't. It wouldn’t look any better than VHS, if they could. Oh, well.
I was more disappointed, however, that the packaging didn't open into the nifty cross layout that the Region 2 set did.
One of the discs had popped off the holder meant to keep it in place. I've noticed that happening more and more lately. It's like the replication facilities just don't press the disc down far enough to hold it down anymore.
(To be concluded...)
Welcome to my little multimedia blogger/journal thing. If you're visiting for the first time due to the link in Pipeline today, then I welcome you. This is a work in progress. Some things are still being ironed out. For a mission statement, see the bottom of this page for the first couple of entries.
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Please e-mail me with any and all comments, or just post your comments to this blog, itself.
But for now, back to the wonderful world of television tonight, and the beginning of the fall television season. It's the best of times; it's the worst of times. It's best that there are lots of new shows starting up soon, old favorites returning, and just plain old lots of new stuff to occupy my time. It's bad in that it'll soak up all my free time that I've enjoyed over the summer and set me back on lots of other things I'd like to be doing.
The first couple of months are always the worst, as I attempt to record it all to see what I like. Inevitably, I'll sit down and notice that I have the first half dozen episodes of some promising new series sitting on TiVo or recorded on VHS, that I just haven't watched. That's when I'll erase it all and decide to skip the series. I have a feeling that's what's going to happen with CSI: MIAMI this season.
The first two new shows are THE DREW CAREY SHOW and WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY, two of my favorites.
DREW CAREY is starting what will probably be the first of its last two seasons, due to various contracts. This season, they've toned the show down, created a new opening theme, and decided to forego the gimmicks. Sadly, they're trying to make the show like every other sit-com on television. Thankfully, it retains its own unique flavor due to the insanity of the situations. My favorite moment on tonight's new episode is Drew walking into his Dot-Com bosses' office, where the pair are playing PUMP IT UP, the Dance Dance Revolution-like arcade game. I like that one better than DDR, so it was fine by me. (DDR is just too hard and too twisty for me. PUMP IT UP keeps my body straighter and is a little easier.) After that, some Linux terms got thrown around and a joke was even made at Red Hat's name. Gotta love it. There are geeks writing that show!
The addition of Cynthia Watros can only be a good thing, although I miss TITUS an awful lot. What a great show. But any excuse to get Watros on screen in skimpy outfits is fine by me. Here, her character is a stripper starting a new career as a waitress. The DREW CAREY show is unapologetically male. It doesn't attempt to pretend its anything but a show for guys. Gotta love that.
WHOSE LINE begins this season with an appearance by Whoopi Goldberg, who only seemed completely lost in one of the bits of tonight's show. That's pretty good for a second-timer on the show. Any time a guest or a new player are introduced to the game, they inevitably look lost and scared on-screen, trying desperately to figure out what's going on, or to just get a feel for the other players. The show's still great, though, and the laughs were voluminous.
Ryan Stiles and Laura Hall sports slightly new haircuts (shorter and longer, respectively), but otherwise nothing's changed. Wayne Brady is still in the cast, in addition to his new daytime talk show.
Here's my WLIIA wish list for things that would only make it better:
* Ryan, Wayne, and Colin are great improvisers, but I would like to see more variety on the show. While the British edition had its own regulars, it also had a great mix of people. Heck, I'd love to see one or two of them appear on the American show, too. Josie did one American episode, but how cool would it be to see Tony Slattery on American network television? I get the feeling, though, that he didn't mix too well with the other American regulars. Looking back on some of his later appearances, there just didn't seem to be too much synergy or even comaraderie with the other improvisors.
* More games. They are mixing it up more and more as time goes on. Love Three Headed Broadway star. Wish we'd see more of World's Worst, though, and more of that Hats game, but with topics other than "Dating Videos." They're hilarious, but redundant after awhile.
* More "Whose Line Too Hot" episodes. Some shows are just too dirty to air complete. They've shown four or five of them after 9 p.m. so far, and they're bust-a-guy funny. It's great to see them cut loose or just go crazy. I know those episodes just happen to turn out that way and aren't planned to be bluer, but I'd love to see more such stuff.
* Get rid of "Helping Hands." It worked out OK tonight, but it seems to be one of the duller games, right up there with Impossible Mission. Even "Film and Theater Styles" is losing its interest for me. It seems that, more often than not, the performers lose track of the story and just do parodies of the styles.
* Bring back some of the British games that they haven't used in this series yet. I liked the Storytellers game, for example, where each player came with an author or his or her choosing to tell a story in.
* One can never have enough Ho-Downs, although a March might not be a bad idea to mix things up just a tad.
In any case, it's good to have both shows back. Let the fall season begin!
Just got back from a weekend in Washington D.C., thus explaining the weekend silence. Sorry I forgot to mention it.
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Didn't have much to catch up on by the time I got home, though. In the world of reality TV, all I missed was one episode of BIG BROTHER 3, in which my local hero, Roddy, got voted out to nobody's surprise. It was pretty cool to see Morristown, NJ briefly featured on Thursday's show, though. Some of the video footage was shot just around the corner from where I work in Morristown. I found it odd that they chose to show a strip mall in the center of town to represent the area. Sheesh. Washington's Revolutionary War headquarters is just down the street, for example. That would have been cool to show. Instead, we see strip mall and Rite Aid. Just across the street from that Rite Aid is "The Green," the center point of town, and a lovely small park to eat lunch at in the summer.
Also watched the latest episode of JUNKYWARD WARS, a show I haven't talked about here yet. It's only of my favorite. Two teams spend 10 hours in a junkyard putting together various vehicles and devices. It's all on The Learning Channel. This week, they built paddle boats. Pretty cool show, and if you have the slightest bit of interest in How Things Work, this show is for you. I've learned a bunch. I know what torque is, how a fan blade works, and more about water displacement than I'll ever need. At least, I hope I'll never need to know any more. Certain information has a useful limit, you know?
I was a little disappointed by the ad I saw last week touting the season opener of BOSTON PUBLIC. It's not that the story looks lame or anything like that. It's just that we have to wait another month and a half for it to start. And just when it starts up, it'll be straight to reruns around Thanksgiving and Christmas. I guess this means FOX has the World Series again this year, eh?
Harry Senate's new haircut is going to take some getting used to, though.
The tricky part now is to see if the show has legs without its creator behind it. Heck, it'll just be interesting to see if a David E. Kelley show has any legs, period. The knock against his stuff is that it tends to flounder fairly quickly.
MOVIES: Lots of interesting movies coming out this month. I'm seeing more and more commercials that look interesting, starting first and foremost with THE TRANSPORTER, which is now actually set to debut in October. The movie was recently pushed back to increase awareness of it. (In other words, they forgot to put trailers for it in front of other movies, and forgot to start a TV promotion.)
I find it very amusing that there's Yet Another Pokemon movie coming out that same week. I thought Pokemon was finally dead? Or is this just set up to be the final nail in the coffin?
Don't worry -- Pokemon retro fever will strike by 2010.
The thing that makes the ratings system for movies such a joke is the way it is so selectively applied. No two R's are the same, and one movie's R would be another movie's PG-13. There is no standard. That's what drives moviemakers crazy.
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Then there's the world of adult contemporary radio stations. My local favorite, WPLJ, is playing Pink's new song. I don't know the title. It's the one she sang at the VMAs last week. You may remember the visual of her in skimpy leather punctuating every usage of the word "b!tch" with a raised middle digit.
Well, PLJ plays the song now, but blurs out the naughty word. Of course, after the previous lines end with "itch" and "stitch", it's fairly obvious what word is coming next. These are songs written for MTV. What else would you expect? So "b!tch" gets effectively censored.
I actually don't have much of a problem with this. I understand there are rules under which radio stations much live. And I can understand trying to keep the station kiddie friendly. After all, the target demo for most music these days are the teenagers. They're edited other songs so well that I never would have realized they were edited without hearing the original versions off of Napster. (Third Eye Blind's "Semi-Charmed Private Life" and Three Doors Down's "Kryptonite" spring to mind.)
Here's my problem with the Pink song being edited, though. The same radio station gleefully ran the CD into the ground for Meredith Brooks' "B!tch" without a second thought. And I've heard them play Elton John's "The B!tch Is Back" repeatedly. I'm sure there are three or four other more recent songs we could put into this category.
I guess the excuse would be that the word is used as an expletive and not a descriptive sense, but jeez... It's just very very weird to me.
TV: If Kelly doesn't win AMERICAN IDOL tonight, then it's a damned shame.
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DVD: The 24 DVD boxed set is due out soon, and I'm still not sure if I'm going to get it or not. I have 24 other DVD movies sitting at home unwatched. Maybe I should see some of those first. But 24 is presented in widescreen... But it doesn't contains the scenes deleted for American broadcast but shown in the U.K. Ah, the heck with it. I'm saving my money.
BLOGGING: MarkEvanier.com is worth visiting just for the Showbiz anecdote sections he's added in his blog lately. It's an all-around entertaining site (including bits on cartoon voice actors, GARFIELD AND FRIENDS, and much much more), but be sure to click on the "News From Me" button in the upper left to get to the blog.
MUSIC: Picked up the second Weezer album this weekend. It's the first one I've ever listened to. I'm impressed. It's very catchy. I think I'll go back for the first album next, before I listen to this one a third time and start to think it all sounds alike...
I like the new Pink single, but it inspires a longer thought that I'm saving for another post later.
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING is the movie story of the year. Produced for $4 million dollars, it's been in movie theaters now for five months and grossed more than $80 million. Movies today burn out after their first two weekends, but this one gets stronger. Heck, it even beat SIGNS on Labor Day. Check out Box Office Mojo for all the relevant details. It'll probably hit $100 easily at this rate.
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There's a good reason for this: The movie is REALLY good (despite a romance which comes out of left field, but so long as you buy that, you're golden), it started off small and slowly built the number of theaters it showed in, and it has very little opposition in movie theaters. Really, how many great movies are out there right now? I could argue for SIGNS, which I enjoyed an awful lot.
But what's after that? SWIMFAN? FEAR DOT COM?!? BLUE CRUSH? They've all tanked. AUSTIN POWERS lost its power after its first three weeks. No big surprise there. XXX is out there, but hardly shares a demographic with MBFGW.
So go see the movie. It's more than a chick flic.
Another small movie that did relatively well at the box office (tho not nearly as well) is KISSING JESSICA STEIN. That's due out on DVD on September 17th.
Hugh Grant's ABOUT A BOY is probably due out in the next month or two on DVD, as well. It's a fairly good television movie of the week. Personally, I liked his character more at the beginning than at the end, but that's just me. I'm not a kid fan...
I finally watched the train wreck on my handy TiVo this afternoon. It's a 3 hour and 15 minute extravaganza that I managed to fast forward through in a little under half that time. I only skipped three musical performances. The rest was just commercials. There were commercial breaks in that show that lasted 10 commercials. I can only imagine how the attendees of the awards felt about sitting there in their chairs for 5 and 6 minutes straight while nothing happened. Sheesh
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The show is a good way to make me feel old, I think. Of all the nominees in all the categories, I think I own albums by two of the artists: Elton John and Avril Lavigne. Don't care much about the rest, quite honestly. It was nice to see names put to songs I recognized from the radio though. (Radio stations never backtrack anymore. There are songs I've heard on the radio a dozen or two dozen times that the DJ has never bothered to recognize before or after it. I have no idea who sings it or what the title is.)
Watching Michael Jackson accept an award he wasn't being given was hilarious, only made more so by his belief that a cake decoration was the award. Jimmy Fallon did as good a job throughout as you can do, aside from one or two instances where I can only assume the director told him to vamp for time. His opening musical number was hilarious, even if I had never heard two or three of the songs he was parodying. Oh, well.
Shakira can sure shake her hips, can't she? Yowch. I had hip pains for a half hour after watching her number.
And can ANYONE featured by MTV sing live? I think Bruce Springsteen (who opened the show despite not having a video for the song he sang in regular airplay on MTV) is the only one who actually sang on the show. Except Jimmy Fallon. If you call that singing...
I thought the American Idol judges were hilarious, but it appears nobody at the awards show had ever seen the show.
Rudy Giuliani got a standing ovation from an MTV audience. I'm still floored by that. A year and a half ago, they were comparing him to Hitler. Go figure.
For the first time in a long time, I'm actually enjoying an album from an artist that MTV props up. Avril Lavigne's album is a lot of fun, I think. It's got a good mix of sounds, although it does tend to repeat a mantra about "keeping it real." ::sigh:: I'll forgive her; she's young yet. It's worth a listen, if you're looking for something sung by a cute Canadian teenager. ;-)
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In other good news, I just heard the new single from THE WALLFLOWERS on the radio this morning. Their third album is now due out on November 5th, if I heard correctly. Jacob Dylan sounds a LOT like his father on the new single, but I still like it. The Wallflowers strike me as a band that got burned by early popularity. "One Headlight" was overplayed to the point that a lot of people burnt out on the band. The solution to that is simple: Just skip over that track in the first album and listen to the rest. Their two albums so far are really strong.
BIG BROTHER 3 is a big fake, and I finally figured out why. It never rains. Now, I know the weather patterns are varied in California and all, but: They've been in that house for nearly two months now and I can't recall a single day that it's rained on the show. It's obviously all a sham. ;-)
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AMERICAN IDOL wraps up this week, at last. I admit it: I was rooting for Nikki. No, I don't think she's the best singer of the lot. Kelly, by far, is. She should win this week. If Justin wins, it will be due to the hordes of female teenagers jamming the phone lines. Look what that demographic can do for movies like TITANIC and SPIDER-MAN. They can do it for Justin here, and that would be a shame.
Back to Nikki: AMERICAN IDOL is looking for a diva. Nikki is not a diva. Kelly is. Nikki should be fronting a band of some sort. She's not the type to be singing Maria Carey songs. And thank heavens for that.
Look at the big singers they keep referencing on the show: Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion. The first is a laughing stock now. The second is a drug-addled joke. The third took time out to raise a family, but mostly to hide from the overexposure for a bit. Now she's back to do a Vegas gig.
You want to know why Nikki made it to third place in the competition? First, because so many of the others were so much worse, including everyone whose name was made up of initials including "J." Secondly, it's a diva backlash.
Kelly, though, has the talent. Let's hope the voting moves all her way now.
I'm fascinated with blogs, bloggers, weblogs, livejournals, whatever you care to call them. Always have been. My first was nearly 6 years ago with Slashdot, News For Nerds, Stuff That Matters. The code to it was freely made available, and it covered a lot of great geeky stories, mostly revolving around the world of Open Source coding.
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More than once, I've thought about converting Pipeline to some sort of blog format. Instead of two hard deadlines a week, I could just post as I wrote throughout the week, get things done in shorter bursts, etc. I'd probably end up being more productive in less time, which is a good thing. Plus, you've gotta love the extra hits from people stopping by every day to see what's new.
The blog seems to have come to life in the comics community lately, including two more new ones this week. So I'm sure I'll be scorned as a bandwagon jumper, but the heck with it. Let's have fun.
I do have my own reserved web domain name. It's housed at Boiling Point, and will someday have something on it. While teaching myself a bit of coding a year and a half back, I made an effort to code up my own personal blogger style program. It was half Slashdot/half LiveJournal. But screw it. Why bother with all that, when someone else has already coded it, made it open source, and offered it up to me to use for a small fee?
I just hope LiveJournal doesn't go nuclear the way Peter David's site seems to have gone. Damned thing's been down for quite awhile now...
Here's what this blog is all about.
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It's not about investigating every little detail of my personal life. You'd all probably just find that laughable, anyway. Trust me; you don't want to hear that crap.
I write a column twice a week for Comic Book Resources called Pipeline Commentary and Review. I get all my comics discussion out of my system through there. And I've pledged to write about comics on there only. Hence, you won't be reading any comic book reviews on here.
But there's more stuff out there that interests me, and a lot of other people. It's stuff that I sometimes include in a Pipeline that's far off-topic but generates e-mail responses, anyway. We're talking every other form of entertainment here: movies, television, TiVo, DVDs, novels, computers, video games, the works.
That's what this blog is for. With the new fall television season about to start, this is as great a time as any to start conversations about the new seasons of old favorites and opening salvos from new friends.
Plus, I just got a new computer and am having fun catching up with a lot of software and games and stuff.
Several attempts at starting a DVD review column have met with utter failure from the hosting web sites.
Ergo, this blog. It all goes here. Whatever is entertaining me on any given day, and hopefully some stuff that's entertaining to all of you, as well.
Check in 5 or 6 days a week. I'm aiming to update the site in some manner or form at least that often.
Feel free to introduce yourselves by posting messages to this entry. I'll be back later this weekend with more fun and merriment.
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Don't all blogs start with a "This is a test" post? It's like programming "Hello, World!" in your twentieth programming language...
What this blog is all about and who the hell I am to do one will be announced shortly.