March 31, 2006

The carpets never looked so streak-free!

My wife reached under the sink, grabbed the Febreze upholstery freshener and spritzed the entire main floor. When she went to put the bottle away, she realized that she'd accidentally grabbed the Windex.

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Category: Square Pegs

Fantasy come true

From Pratt Hobbies, the Surface to Idiot Missile.

Disclaimer: It's a sad but true fact that in today's world it must be explicitely stated that it's a joke. *sigh*

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Category: Links Rocketry

Forest for the Trees

File this under "why didn't I see this?", from Hold the Mayo:

How ironic that the argument goes that illegal immigrants are just here doing the jobs Americans don't want to do when the one job the government seem to be trying hard to avoid doing is dealing with illegal immigration.

For that matter, why doesn't anyone else see the simple beauty here?

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Category: Links

Why I could never be a lawyer - 2

Chutzpah! With a heaping helping of poetic justice.

Me: So you snuck into the bar to drink even though you were under the legal age.

Plaintiff: Yeth.

Me: And an older gentleman bought drinks from the bar and gave them to you all night long, so that nobody would find out that you were underage.

Plaintiff: Yeth.

Me: And you were... let's see... almost three times over the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle when you left the bar.

Plaintiff: Yeth.

Me: And in the parking lot, you climbed up onto a pickup truck's tailgate, at which point you passed out and fell face first to the pavement. The impact shattered your teeth, lips and gums.

Plaintiff: Yeth.

Me: Wow-

Plaintiff's lawyer: YOUR HONOR, I OBJECT!!! He's going to call my client "stupid".

Judge: Sustained.

Me: Your honor, "stupid" is a given. However, "graceful" isn't.

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Category: Square Pegs

March 30, 2006

Whipping those tenants into shape

A Rocket Jones bondage post is long overdue, and wouldn't you know, the news provides the hook.

First of all, I have a problem with the headline:

Church ousts Dominatrix from Vicarage.

When you read the story, you find out that the Dominatrix rented the property from the church and she claims she held a long-term lease with an option to buy. Once the church found out what her business was, then they wanted to evict her.

She decided not to fight the church in court. They didn't "oust" her, because I suspect that they didn't have a legal leg to stand on.

A couple of questions come to mind. First, is being a Dominatrix illegal in South Africa? It doesn't appear to be, judging from the story. She had even given a tour of her "torture chamber" to reporters. Notice also that she didn't have sex with her clients and it wasn't a brothel. You were paying to be dominated by a woman, you weren't paying for sex.

Was there a "morals" clause in her lease? You know what I mean, something that states that the tenant will only behave in ways acceptable to the church. I don't know if that's enforcable, especially if said actions aren't illegal.

Finally, are any of the church congregation clients? Just curious. It would be professional suicide for her to mention names, because confidentiality would be crucial in her line of work. I wonder if any of the church members are heaving huge sighs of relief that this is all going away (semi) quietly.

Whip me, beat me, make me evict you. *snicker*

Personally, I think she was in the right, but decided that the fight just wasn't worth it. That's a shame. I'm all for tweaking the nose of authority whenever possible.

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Category: Links

Why I could never be a lawyer

iPod lawsuit.

Me: You never realized that piping music directly into your ear at high volume could damage your hearing?

Plaintiff: No.

Me: Wow. You're stupid.

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Category: Square Pegs

March 28, 2006

EU. Pronounced "ew".

Nanny Stateism strikes again:

The European Commission is to propose legislation aimed at slashing "unproportional" charges on international mobile phone calls within the European Union (EU).

EU commissioner for information society and media Viviane Reding said the executive European Commission has to propose an EU regulation after mobile telecom operators failed to respond to her calls for lower costs six months ago.

"I have warned the industry repeatedly that price must be brought down, but it seems the industry has had trouble understanding my message," Reding told a press conference on Tuesday.

Got that? She asked telecom businesses to lower their prices, and they had the gall to ignore her. So her solution is to ram through a binding "regulation" that will force the companies to limit their rates. Never mind what charges the market will bear, you've got to provide another entitlement to all those unemployed youngsters I guess.

I love this part:

"There is no way that these prices are justified," said Reding. "The regulation would ensure that operators do not charge substantially more than the actual cost."

The wholesale savings of operators would then be made to pass on to consumers, she said.

Yep. Don't allow the Telecoms to make a profit, then pass the "savings" on to the people!

She dismissed fears that EU-level intervention would push operators to make up their lost revenue in the domestic market.

Of course she did. Cause and effect doesn't apply to fantasyland. Just ask the California electricity industry.

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Category: Links

March 26, 2006

Drac Facts

Dracula (1931), Universal Studios.

  • Bela Lugosi only appeared in one other film as Dracula, in 1948's Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
  • Although Lugosi played Dracula during a successful Broadway run and subsequent tours, he wasn't the first choice for the film role. He wasn't the second, third or fourth choice either.
  • There were three versions of Dracula made at the same time. During the day the English version was filmed. At night a Spanish language version was filmed on the same sets with an entirely different cast and crew. And lastly, because at the time many theaters weren't wired for sound, a silent version of the film was simultaneously edited with dialogue boards.
  • Not once during the film does Dracula display fangs.
  • The word Nosferatu is widely considered to be Hungarian for "vampire" because Bram Stoker used the word after reading about it in a book on folklore and the occult. Problem is, no such word exists.
  • The studio insisted that Dracula only attack women in the movie because they were worried about homoerotic overtones. Dracula's first movie victim is male, but you don't see it.
  • The actor who plays Dr. Seward (Herbert Bunston), had met Bram Stoker earlier in his career when he appeared in a stage production at the theater that Stoker managed.
  • Actor Dwight Frye (Renfield) and Bela Lugosi had worked together before, on Broadway in a comedy production.
Posted by Ted at 07:22 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: Cult Flicks

Grab popcorn and a Rosary, it's movie review time!

Sometimes you see a thing that you simply must have. For a year I made almost weekly visits to a music store in Grand Forks, North Dakota to sit and play "my" guitar while I saved the money to buy it (the one on the right).

That's kind of an extreme example, but recently I had a mini version of that emotion over a movie (surprise, surprise), and of course I'm going to tell you all about it.

Now this category isn't called "Cult Flicks" for nothing, and if you've visited before you already know that I love B-movies and old horror and things a little (or a lot) off of the beaten path. This film certainly falls into the last category. Before I tell you about it though, I'd like to take a moment to give a little background on a type of these crappy movies that I love so much.

Exploitation films are movies designed to appeal to those looking for things like nudity and/or gore. Back in the 30's and 40's, nudist camp "documentaries" filled the bill, as did "danger of drugs" movies. In the 50's Swedish "blue" movies found their niche. Some makers soon realized that actual product quality was optional as long as plenty of bare breasts or simulated gruesome violence was on display, so true exploitation flicks are always low budget and almost always feature rotten acting, directing, dialogue, etc. Go through the Rocket Jones Cult Flicks archives, and you'll find other reviews of just these types of films. Yes, I am a fan.

Within the exploitation umbrella, there are subgenres. Sexploitation movies focused on nudity and softcore porn - Russ Meyer was one leading director - and so-called Blaxploitation movies aimed at the African American audience (Abby, aka "the black Exorcist" is a fine example, although films like Shaft and Foxy Brown are much better known). There were gory cannibal movies and mondo "documentaries" that went for shock valuie by being about taboo subjects (like Toys Are Not For Children which explored psychotic incestual themes). Women in prison movies were popular, and included the sub-subgenre of Nazi women prison movies. I've got my eye on a couple of Hixsploitation collections, just to round out my library of crappy films. That wikipedia link above is a nice little introduction to the concept.

"Director Norifumi Suzuki doesn't have a clue about Christianity, but his delirious visual style is reminiscent of 60s Italian horror in its rich colors and hysterical zooming"
--Chicago Reader

So by now you've gathered that School of the Holy Beast is an exploitation film, and it's of a type I'd heard of but never seen before: nunsploitation. Actually, that was only one reason why I couldn't resist it, the other being that I never knew that any nunsploitation flicks were made anywhere but Europe. This unusual movie was made in Japan! Nunsploitation movies are generally set in a convent with plenty of nudity, sex, and frequent appearances by sleazy priests because apparently, unbeknownst to me, every nun is not a lesbian (kidding!). This type of movie is also critical of the Catholic Church and it's policies.

So what do we have here? The movie starts off with a girl named Maya having one helluva great day. She enjoys a hockey game, does some shopping, picks up a guy and later sleeps with him. When he finally asks her name (pillow talk!), she tells him that tomorrow she enters the abbey to become a nun.

Maya isn't particularly devout, instead she's on a private mission to discover how her mother died in that same convent eighteen years before. Along the way she manages to unravel a long-held secret and finds her answers. She also sneaks a couple of guys into the convent to gang rape the Mother Superior (who doesn't fight very hard once it's begun. I guess falling asleep to her private porn collection might have made her a bit receptive). There are scenes of drugs, self-flagellation, bondage, blasphemy; in other words, everything you'd expect from the Church (kidding!). In the end the bad guys all get what's coming to them, and you're left sitting there thinking "wow".

School of the Holy Beast

Unlike the typical trashy exploitation movie, this film is beautifully acted and full of spectacular imagery. One memorable scene involves Maya being punished by being whipped with bunches of long stem roses. The thorns draw blood of course, and before long each punishing stroke results in a cascade of slow motion rose petals in a halo around Maya. Uncomfortable to watch, but undeniably beautiful.

This movie far exceeded my expectations, and it's worth seeing. In Japanese with English subtitles.

Besides, how can you resist two topless nuns involved in a whip fight?

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Category: Cult Flicks

March 24, 2006

That wasn't helpful

My beloved Sharks are scrambling to make the playoffs, and despite playing great hockey lately, they lost last night to the Detroit Red Wings. Congrats to Machelle and David.


If you don't know what the Jamboree is all about, click this link.

Posted by Ted at 06:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Category: Balls and Ice

Girls with Guns

More pictures of women in the military than you can empty a magazine at. Safe for work, but definitely not boring.

Thanks to the Jawa Report for the pointer.

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Category: Links Military

March 23, 2006

Bummer times two

Jennifer hangs it up.

The guys down at Whitakers, North Carolina lost their flying field. It's not actually lost, it's just been turned into a corn field without prior notice.

Posted by Ted at 04:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Links Rocketry

March 19, 2006

Don't Overdo

Putting a roll cage on your jeep impresses the ladies.

Painting a roll pattern on your jeep, not so much.

Posted by Ted at 09:13 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

March 18, 2006


Uncle Sam does, and he's had it for half a century now.

Happy 50th Birthday to the B52 Stratofortress
. One seriously bad mofo.

Thanks to Transterrestrial Musings for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 07:22 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: History Links Military

Pratt Hobbies Blog (aka "All the cool kids are doing it")

My friend Doug Pratt has started a rocketry blog, and named it, appropriately enough, Pratt Hobbies Blog. It will soon be on the sidebar.

He's off to a great start, including a post about how the BATFE is reacting to their recent smackdown by the Federal courts regarding rocket motors. Short answer: they are not taking it well, and it seems that the retaliation against the hobby has started. Read more over at Doug's blog, and, like most of us, he wanders off onto other topics as the fancy takes him. Check it out.

March 17, 2006

I didn't even know there *was* a Mrs. Peanut!

And he keeps his nuts in a can!

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Category: Square Pegs

Oh yeah, that's a winning marketing strategy

A pop up ad for weight loss surgery.

What they envision:

Dude, you mean I can get ready for the Summer beach trips *and* save big bucks doing it? I am so there!

Reality: posts like this.

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Category: Square Pegs

Do it again and make the girl happy.

Princess Cat is closing in on her first MuNuversary and has a goal. Click the link and bump her hit counter.

Oh yeah, just like that.



Don't stop.

And size does matter, so you higher traffic blogs should be joining in with a mention and links as well.

Treat the lady right.

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Category: Links

March 16, 2006

Vid Hits and Kicks

Over at Off Wing Opinion, Eric has been on a video jag lately. Check out the Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby highlights, and don't miss my personal favorite, the New Zealand National Rugby team doing a Maori Haka. Awesome!

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Category: Links

Not So Different After All

I was visiting Wegglywoo and found a link to a new group blog that she's part of.

The post titiled The Rules of Life for Australian (Heterosexual) Men had me laughing out loud. Here's a sample:

11. It is permissible to quaff a fruity alcopop drink only when you're sunning on a tropical beach... and it's delivered by a topless supermodel and it's free.

26. The morning after you and a girl who was formerly "just a friend" have carnal drunken monkey sex, the fact that you're feeling weird and guilty is no reason not to nail her again before the discussion about what a big mistake it was.

There's plenty more. Head on over, have a chuckle and don't forget to say hello.

Posted by Ted at 07:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Category: Links

I never heard of it before, but I got it

I was griping last weekend about my personal head-start on the Summer cold season. I spent all weekend in bed, managed to work a half day Monday but felt lousy enough to take Tuesday off. Yesterday I cried uncle and called the doctor because the sore throat just wasn't getting better, and left work early today for the appointment.

Turns out I have Tracheitis, which is kind of a bacterial infection that settles into the windpipe instead of going north to become a sinus infection, or south to become bronchitis. I'm running a slight fever (which I didn't realize), and antibiotics have been prescribed. It's a good thing I went in, because this stuff can cause enough swelling to block off the airway.

It's supposed to rain and snow tonight. I've already let work know I'm probably not going in tomorrow.

My wife told me to quit whining. I called her Nurse Ratchet. Bad move.

Posted by Ted at 06:54 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

March 15, 2006

In which I tell a parable that has absolutely nothing to do with work. Honest.

And lo, the worker was given to construct a vehicle to convey information, and it was simple. Yet he toiled mightily, said vehicle being tossed to and fro amongst the waves of conflicting priorities.

And the worker was chastised for the delay.

From on high, the original requester was given to using faulty logic, as explained by Werner Von Braun:

"Crash programs fail because they are based on theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby in a month."

And when the duplication of effort was discovered, it was also revealed that the worker now had two conflicting sets of instructions to accomplish said task.

And the worker was chastised for the delay.

So with patience and fresh resolve, he worked with the requester to define the precise requirements and once achieved, set them into stone.

Three times.

When the requester said, "it would lighten my heart to see an adjustment made to the headlights," the worker did adjust the headlights and looked and saw that it was good.

And the requester looked upon it and said, "that is good, but those are not the headlights that needed adjustment." Upon which the requester pointed to the tires.

And the worker was chastised for the delay.

And lo, finally the vehicle was complete and ready for testing. When the worker discovered a blind-spot in a mirror, he brought it up to the requester, so that the worker might truthfully say that the task was thoroughly accomplished.

And the requester said, "a problem that will not be, just make it work like this other vehicle," upon which the requester pointed towards a shoe.

And the worker will be chastised for the delay.

Posted by Ted at 07:22 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

Job Openings in Exciting Times

Mark Oakley hadn't posted anything for quite a long time, which is understandable since he's busy working for one of the original X-Prize challengers. They're still in business, because being the first to do it (Rutan) doesn't necessarily count for anything more than historical recognition (is the Wright Aircraft Corporation still around?).

Anyway. TGV Rockets is hiring.

Related to that, check this out from RocketForge:

You don't steer the elephant, you just drive around him in your new car.

Go here to read the rest (it's short and to the point). Were I an engineer, I'd be begging these people to hire me.

Posted by Ted at 11:57 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Links SciTech Space Program

March 14, 2006

Ya don't gots to be no musish'nin to enjoy these

From Parkway Rest Stop, an abundance of amusing bass guitars.

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Category: Links

March 13, 2006

There are female astronauts because the guys won't stop and ask for directions

Rich points out that there are now Google Mars and Google Moon. Very cool.

While you're there, check out his link to the worst Transformer and GoBot characters ever. Laugh out loud funny!

Posted by Ted at 07:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Links

Disturbing Images and Pleasant Surprises

Suncoast Video's parent company filed for bankruptcy, so the company buying the chain is closing many of the stores, including the one closest to me. The last time I stopped by, they were in the middle of a huge clearance sale. I hadn't planned on getting anything, but walked out with a few items at a terrific price.

One of those items was a five-pack of oldies grouped under the title "Vampire Collection, Volume 2". One big selling point for this batch was that each film was international: one from Canada, one from Italy/Spain, one from Germany/Spain, and a pair of USA/Philippine offerings. So let's take a look at each of them, shall we? (in the extended entry).

The Thirsty Dead

Here's the blurb on the box:

Beautiful young girls are being kidnapped off the streets of Manila by a death cult that needs their blood in order to remain immortal. This film is violent, full of nudity and a favorite of hardcore horror fans.

That sounds like an interesting variation on the vampire theme, and you can't go wrong with nudity and violence, eh?

I really want to hate this movie, because the synopsis is a crock of shit. Despite the fact that the violence is almost non-existant and "full of nudity" translates into zero nudity, I liked the film anyway.

"The Heroine, played by Meredith Baxter Birney's ugly brother in drag, is about as stupid as a bag of hammers." - IMDB Reviewer

Four ladies are kidnapped one by one by guys who look like Buddhist monks. They're taken under the city and loaded into a canoe which the monks paddle deep into the jungle. White slavery is mentioned a few times, but instead, it comes out that they're being held by an ancient jungle tribe that has found the secret of imortality and worships a talking decapitated head encased in a block of cherry jello.

These tribespeople are all young and beautiful and spend their days doing arts and crafts and being gentle and dressing in fashionable pastels. The Buddhist looking guys are their hired guards and dress like sumo wrestlers so you can tell them apart. The kidnapped girls all get makeshift bikinis to wear. The "jungle" tribe also live in a maze of caves.

Anyway, the tribe stays young by drinking the blood of young ladies in an ancient ritual. One of the kidnapped ladies is invited to join the tribe because of some vague prophecy. She declines, which causes all sorts of problems. Escapes are made, the smartass character falls to her death into a pit of rats, and the hero sacrifices himself for his true love.

Sounds silly? You bet. Kind of dull too in spots, and the acting is pretty bad. Calling it horror is outrageously overstating the issue, but there's something oddly likable about the whole thing.

Disturbing Image: Buddhist monks flogging octagenarian women.
Pleasant Surprise: An appearance by Vic Diaz as a police inspector. You might remember him as the corrupt Vietnamese Colonel Trang in The Boys From Company C.

Blood Thirst

Whoohoo, a Vic Diaz double feature! He plays a cop again in this one, also set in the Philippines. And once again the "vampires" are not the traditional kind.

Young girls are being murdered in a most unusual way. When their bodies are found, they've been drained of blood through incisions cut into their forearms. The local police are mystified so the chief inspector (Vic!) asks his American friend, a world-renowned criminology expert (specializing in sex crimes, although there is nothing sexual about the murders other than the fact that all of the victims are young, pretty girls), to assist him in discovering who is behind the grisly murders. The American character is supposed to be James Bond-like, but he's just annoying, all the more so when every woman in the vicinity goes into heat whenever he acts like an ass.

This movie is confused about what it wants to be. History's goofiest monster makes a few appearances for no particular reason, which leads you to think it might be going for horror. But the majority of the movie plays strictly as a detective flick. For a while it's almost a romance movie, when the ingenue falls for the hard boiled dick (I always wanted to use that line).

A local nightclub figures prominently, as do ancient South American blood cult immortality rituals (deja vu) and a blond belly dancer. The appearance of the monster is completely pointless, although there are enough plot twists to keep you interested. Once again, the movie is more entertaining than it has any right to be. Still no nudity though, and the presence of Vic Diaz only partially makes up for that lack.

The Vampire Night Orgy

No Vic Diaz here, although we are treated to some very nice, if rather small, boobs (pleasant surprise!).

A group of people are together on a charter bus, heading for a town where they've been hired by an aristocratic family for their various domestic skills (gardener, lady's maid, tutor, chauffeur, and so on). The bus driver has a heart attack and dies, almost wrecking the bus in the process. Since it's late and everyone is shaken by the driver's death, they decide to turn off the road and spend the night in the nearby village rather than continue on to their destination.

The village is strangely silent and deserted. Not abandoned, just seemingly depopulated, as the group finds when they go into the village inn and find the bar well-stocked and the rooms made up and comfortable. They do find one other person at the inn, another traveler who has stopped for the night.

In the morning, all is normal again. The villagers are back, serving breakfast pastry to their guests and the mayor makes an appearance to explain that last night was a local festival held in the cemetary, explaining everyone's absence. When it comes time to leave, the bus won't start, and neither will the car of the other traveller. The group is invited to stay a few more days until the local "guy with the car" stops by, then he can go to another village with a mechanic and bring back help. They are all to be guests of "The Countess", who rules the area with a benevolent hand.

Now, pastry works for breakfast, but people expect meat for lunch and dinner. A big creepy guy with an axe goes into the smithy and tells one of the assistants, a cripple, that he's there "on behalf of the Countess", and after a brief struggle removes the guy's leg. He was a cripple anyway, so it's not like he's gonna miss it, right?

"This film is great fun for those horror fans that also like all-you-can-eat buffets." - from the box description of The Vampire Night Orgy

So the next scene shows the travellers digging in to great platters of meat for dinner. Yum! Later, there's more fun when someone finds a finger on their tray, and the immediate "damage control" performed by the mayor must be seen to be believed.

Cannibals aren't vampires though, so where do the vampires come in? Oh, everyone in the village is a vampire, and the Countess is the Queen of the gang. By day, the travellers munch on long pig and bitch about the extended stay (gratis, because not a one of them has money to pay for anything), and by night they get picked off one by one by the villager bloodsuckers. Eventually the guy with the car and boob girl manage to escape (barely!) and when they return the next day with the police, the village isn't there. The signpost is gone, and it appears on no maps of the area. Very mysterious.

So far, this movie collection is batting .1000, because this was an excellent offering for the genre. I purposely didn't talk about some of the subplots that really added to the scare-factor, including one accidental death that's among the creepiest scenes I've ever seen (disturbing image). Bon Apetit!

The Werewolf vs. The Vampire Woman

Originally realeased as La Noche de Walpurgis in 1971, this is one in a series of ten movies where the werewolf character Waldemar Daninsky is played by Paul Naschy, (the "actor" psuedonym for actor/writer/director Jacinto Molina, a legend in Spanish horror films).

Paul Naschy, aka Jacinto Molina

Yes, there are the usual plot inconsistancies and "huh?" moments here, and as is often the case, the dialogue translation is among the most frightening parts of the film. On the other hand, the lead actresses are truly beautiful and there are nice cleavage shots (but no outright naked boobs, dammit), and the overall atmosphere of the film is outstandingly moody. What almost sinks this film, at least the version on this DVD, is the crappy sound quality. I've run into it before, where everyone sounds like they're shouting their lines up from the bottom of a well, and it can really ruin a film watching experience. The fact that this movie can overcome this usually fatal flaw is a testament to it's strength. Is is a good movie? No, not really. But it is entertaining enough to keep your interest, and the plot is deep enough to make you think.

Plot? With a title like that? Ha! Yes, oh yes, there is plot enough for the long-time horror fan, and far more than the slasher-flick kiddie of today is used to. Truth be told, sometimes there is a little too much plot, and the movie slows down here and there while pointless little side stories get dealt with.

The storyline tells of two beautiful women who are trying to complete their university thesis (???) about ancient folklore. They travel into a remote region of Northern France to look for the tomb of the legendary Countess Wandessa, a black magic adept who also practiced vampirism to achieve immortality. She was supposedly temporarily killed when a special silver cross was thrust through her heart.

When the ladies get lost, they almost run out of gas before meeting up with Waldemar Daninsky. He tells them that he is a writer looking for solitude. Apparently he's had enough solitude though, because he invites the ladies to stay at his country place until the handyman ("the guy with the car") stops by in a few days, and then he can get them some gas.

A mentally unbalanced sister makes an appearance to stir up the situation, and there are definite clues that all is not as it seems. Fortunately (for the story, rather less fortunate for the characters), the old documents and notes that the ladies bring, combined with the ancient papers that Daninsky has, are enough to tell them exactly where the tomb of the Countess Wandessa is supposed to be located.

They find the tomb and for some reason beyond fathoming (no matter how much you shout "don't do it", you know she's going to), one of the ladies removes the silver crucifix from the body of the dead Countess. Mayhem ensues, caused by both the reanimated vampire queen and Daninsky's werewolf.

And thus comes the ethical dilemma. You see, Daninsky was looking for the cross because the only way his soul could find peace was to be stabbed through the heart with the crucifix by someone who truly loved him. He was planning on having his unstable sister do it, but she becomes one of the Countess' vampire groupies, as does the girl who originally removed the cross. He has no choice but to take the other girl into his confidence, which is ok because she's falling for him.

He's conflicted about setting the Countess free again, especially since her plans include nothing less than handing Satan total control of Earth in exchange for invincible immortality. He wants to find peace (translation: permanent dirt nap), but achieving that at the expense of everyone else on Earth makes the price too high, so he and his new girlfriend frantically search for the hiding place of the Countess before Walpurgis Night, which is when hell is (literally) to break loose.

The ending is only so-so, and once again the story slows down when it most needs to speed up towards the climax, but still, this was another winner.

Disturbing Image: There's plenty of bare chest shown, unfortunately it's mostly the muscular torso of the lead actor.
Pleasant Surprise: The better looking of the two scholars (IMHO) gets major screen time in a wispy nightgown. I can completely relate to the goth tendency towards sexy vampire grrrls.

Reverse the above headings if you're so inclined.

Oh yes, one last note. For God's sake, if a man of science ever nonchalantly scoffs at folk tales or superstition just before doing something to disprove same, run like hell. It might save your life.

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things

On the plus side, this Canadian offering has one of the best movie titles ever. On the down side, there isn't a vampire to be found in it since this is strictly a zombie movie. What the heck is it doing in this Vampire collection?

An early effort by Bob Clark, who went on to direct Porky's, A Christmas Story and Turk182! (among others you've probably heard of), this flick approaches greatness by going the way of zen: simplicity without being simplistic. The sets are basic, few, yet extememly memorable and well done. The atmosphere is dank and moody, and the character interaction rings true with a few glaring exceptions. The show is stolen by Orville, who doesn't have a single line and stays dead until almost the final scene.

Alan is the leader of a group of people out on a midnight excursion. Apparently he's the owner of a theatrical company, and everyone else are actors and/or stage crew. Alan is obnoxious as hell, dictatorial, abusive, unfunny and must be some sort of genius because every time one of the others shows the least sign or rebellion or resistance, his mere threat of kicking them out of the troupe causes them to backpedal and commence sucking up. The recurring rebel/threat/simpering fawning cycle gets old quickly.

One thing is certain though, Alan (and it's hard to over-emphasize what an asshole he is) has these people under his thumb. With Alan acting as tour guide, they make a late-night arrival at a secluded burial island. Part party, part "theatrical experience", part black-magic experiment, the entire group is obviously aware of the final plans and are, if not neccessarily active participants, at least willing to overlook a little grave robbing.

"Get out of the grave, Alan. Get out of the grave and let an artist show you how to call a curse down on Satan!." - Val, from Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things

Alan selects a grave and the group quickly exhumes the coffin. After a little fun and games, they take the original occupant, Orville, to the caretaker's cottage. Once there, there are some more scenes of bickering, exploring, minor chills and major mockery of Orville's earthly remains. Eventually they get to the point of the whole evening, and Alan dons a robe and dabbles in a little amateur black magic over Orville, reading a reanimation spell from an ancient grimoire.

One of the actresses, Anya (Alan's real-life sister) is seemingly "in tune" with the spirit world and wigs out at the goings on, and here is where we get this movie's most disturbing image. Anya is growing more and more hysterical, and she falls to her knees in front of Orville's body, begging him for forgiveness for what they've done. It's chilling to watch as she sees and hears something none of us can, and the realization comes over her that they are not forgiven, and that revenge will be forthcoming. Truly frightening.

Still, nothing happens, as apparently it takes a while for the spell to take effect (but you know it's going to sooner or later). And when it does, it's all chaos and fun. These aren't terribly fearsome zombies, and the group are able to safely repel several attempts at gaining entry into the cottage. A nice touch is the fact that there are just enough zombies to prevent their escape back to the boat. They overwhelm with numbers and there are quite a few zombies, but the cemetary wasn't that large, so the place isn't wall-to-wall undead. It also adds to the fun that the living have nothing that will put a zombie down permanently. You can push or punch or kick and they're clumsy enough to fall, but without that head shot, well, they're just gonna get back up and come again.

This indie flick was created on a shoestring budget of just $50,000 dollars, and sometimes it shows. There isn't a lot of gore, and some of the special effects are pretty cheesy.

Few of the main characters are even remotely likable and it's hard to care when one dies, especially since they basically get what's coming to them. But the movie works, and partly it's because you realize that in a weird twist the zombies are kind of the good guys here and you find yourself urging Orville to come to life so he can kill that jerk Alan, preferably slowly. Orville displays the patience that the dead are famous for, but when his time comes he makes the most of it.

Fun little movie. Recommended.

Unlike another recent acquisition, a three-pack called The Fear Files, these five movies are long on story and quality (for B-movies) and short on gratuitous nudity. There's a place for both styles in my universe, and now, if you'll excuse me, I've a hankerin' for a tall glass of warm V8.

Posted by Ted at 05:33 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Cult Flicks

March 12, 2006

Pluto revisited

Not the frozen planet way out yonder, nor the Disney dog.

Project Pluto, which I talked about a couple of years ago, mostly in the context of the ramjet engine that was to be it's source of power.

For those needing a refresher, Pluto was to be a nuclear powered cruise missile, capable of Mach 3 at treetop level, dropping nuclear warheads in its wake. There were serious, ah, problems shall we say, with the concept. It was possible, but eventually people asked if it was desirable.

Thanks to Ghost of a Flea, we have a new link to a nicely detailed history of Project Pluto. Fascinating stuff.

Posted by Ted at 11:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Category: Links SciTech

Is it time for 'tussin yet?

It's been a beautiful weekend, and I'm down with a big-time cold.

Posted by Ted at 10:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

Things that make you go hmmmm

Rocket Jones is number 2 on the Google search for "how to meet a guy in the grocery store".

Number 1 is "The Best Places to Meet Gay Men".

I'm not sure what to think about that.

Posted by Ted at 07:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

March 11, 2006

Why is it?

Bosses are "visionary".

Peons are "hallucinatory".

Posted by Ted at 08:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

March 10, 2006

Digging through unposted "draft" articles

Alien loves Predator

Make your own Flying Spaghetti Monster. (Thanks Owlish!)

K, proprietor extrordanaire of Kimochii (Asian cuties in various stages of dress and undress), has combined his several sites into one. Enjoy K's Lounge (NSFW).

Posted by Ted at 09:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: Links

Rocketry Stuff (and a note for Russ)

Because this *is* Rocket Jones ya know.

I've been talking about "certification" and "Level 2" and such, without ever explaining what that means.

A while back I posted a Beginner's FAQ explaining the hobby rocket motor codes, and another post illustrating the size of some of these motors. You can read it for more detail, but I'll try to explain it here without needing to follow that link.

This all applies to the US. Canada, the UK, and probably other countries have their own variations.

Until recently, if you were younger than age 18 then the largest motor you could fly was a "G" motor (up to about 16lbs of thrust). There were ways around that limit, by having an adult purchase and possess the motor and take responsibility for the flight, even though a minor may have done most of the work. The National Association of Rocketry (NAR) has introduced a program where a youngster can legally fly high power motors, basically by standardizing the "sponsor" requirements.

High power motors are defined as "H" power and above, and you need to make a certification flight to prove that you can construct a safe rocket for the power involved. For Level 1, your flight has to be witnessed by two members of your rocketry organization who are also Level 1. Safely flying and recovering the rocket means you can purchase and use "H" and "I" motors (a little better than 140 lbs of thrust).

Level 2 requires the certification flight, but you also have to pass a written test about organization information, government laws and regulations and general rocketry knowledge. That's the level that I'm working towards, and once I get there I can fly "J", "K" and "L" motors (up to 1,150 lbs of thrust).

The top level right now is Level 3, for "M", "N" and "O" motors (and up I suppose, an "O" produces up to 9,208 lbs of thrust). For this, you're assigned two advisors who already have their Level 3 certification, and you must document the construction process and put together a binder showing details about the rocket and simulations of the expected flight. There are also additional safety requirements at this level. Like the others, you must make a flight and recover the rocket undamaged.

So that's the certification process that I keep babbling about.

Russ, I'd be happy to sign off on your Level 1 flight.

As for the Zinger drag race, well, you're on! Someone once described the Zinger as "arial pornography" and I've got to agree. I thought I had an unbuilt kit somewhere but I can't find it, so send me the specs and fin measurements and I'll have one ready for the next launch.

And since the next launch is on April first, I've got a few fun and/or odd April Fool's rockets that'll be ready to go as well. I'm looking forward to this one!

Posted by Ted at 05:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Category: Rocketry

Evil I tell you, pure eeeevil!

To all those cheering the "defeat" of President Bush on his stupid idea to let Dubai run American seaports, I have only one thing to say:

Dubya just made you his bitch.

Now Dubai will sell their interest to an American company. A company owned, no doubt, by a wealthy friend of President Bush. Meaning one of his rich friends just got a whole lot richer. And you asked... no, you demanded it. Just like he planned all along.

If it's Halliburton, I will laugh until I cry.

Posted by Ted at 12:14 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

March 08, 2006

No Easter This Year

They found the body.

Note: If this offends you, I don't want to hear it. Go burn down an embassy or something.

Posted by Ted at 11:27 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

NaNoWriMo - again, finally

Chapters 13 and 14 are in the extended entry.

You can find chapters 1 and 2 here.
Chapters 3 and 4 here.
Chapters 5 and 6 here.
Chapters 7 and 8 here.
Chapters 9 and 10 here.
Chapters 11 and 12 here.

There now, all caught up.

I know it's been awhile. No promises, but I'll try to get back into the once-a-week posting of this story. We're almost to the point where I'd lost a few chapters, so after this I'll be back to winging it.

Enjoy. Leave feedback. Thanks.

Chapter 13.

That night I tried to imagine where Ms. Halliday might have gone after crossing the field. I had a general idea of the lay of the land out in that direction, and it occurred to me that by following that streambed, you could possibly wind up fairly close, but behind the research laboratory. Before I fell asleep, I decided that I wouldn't volunteer that theory to anyone, but if Officer Ossie happened to offer me another ride, well, Mom couldn't be too unhappy with me if I mentioned it in passing.

As suddenly as the tension had built in our town, it seemed to dissipate. Posters stopped appearing overnight. Neighbors realized how petty they were being and became neighborly once more. Nobody beat me up again. It was as if everyone had, in one collective moment, taken a deep breath and counted to ten.

I still wasn't allowed to go over to Autumn's house, but she came over to ours every afternoon after school, and we did homework and one day after our first meager snowfall we made a pathetic snowman together in the front yard. We also learned more about being boyfriend and girlfriend, and I found out that I could make her tingle too.

I hadn't seen Officer Ossie lately, nor had Ms. Halliday visited the field again (at least on the days when Autumn had been able to follow her). Autumn was absolutely bubbly one day because she had happy news. The police had let them know the night before that a big break was about to happen in the vandalism, er, kidnapping case. But a few days later she seemed deflated because the authorities kept insisting that the big break would happen "any day now".

All of this was, as I'm sure you've already guessed, the calm before the storm. Or at least the next wave of turmoil to come crashing over the town. Once again, for some reason my family was the target. We'd minded our own business and not been a participant nor subject for the town gossipmongers. We'd managed, except for Autumn Crisp's daily visits, to completely separate ourselves from the local controversy. Yet still we found ourselves in the middle of "zombiegate", as some local reporter had tagged it (if you don't get the reference, look it up in the library: history section). And this time, there was no way we could ignore it and let it go away.

We were wakened from a sound sleep in the middle of the night by a banging on the front door. I had just pulled on my robe and stumbled into the hallway as Mom headed past me towards the front room. I stood there, scratching and yawning, when Mom opened the door a fraction and peered outside. Mom cried out, then immediately slammed the door shut again and stood there, arms akimbo and face pale, eyes wide as she leaned heavily against the door as if to hold out whatever it was she had seen on our front porch. She looked like she wanted to vomit. She looked like she wanted to pass out. It was a toss up as to whether she'd do either or both, and in what order. I was scared out of my wits, because I'd never, ever seen my Mom look like this.

Steeling myself to be the man of the house, I took Mom's arm and gently led her to the sofa to sit. Ms. Halliday, roused by my Mom's cry, appeared at the entrance to the room and, seeing Mom's shocked condition, moved to sit beside her, putting an arm around her and patting her arm in comfort. Ms. Halliday looked at me with dread and confusion in her eyes, for she realized that something, she knew not what, had frightened my Mom into her current state. I moved to the door and, grasping the knob and taking a deep breath, flung it wide open to confront whatever it was.

The porch was empty.

Just as I'd heavily exhaled (I hadn't even realized that I'd been holding my breath in anticipation), both Mom and Ms. Halliday cried out in unison. A split-second glance confirmed that the porch was empty, and the walkway and yard beyond, and then I spun towards the ladies to figure out what they had seen that I hadn't. As I turned, I came face to face with the cause of their terror. More accurately, I came face to arm with the cause, or rather, the arm that was the cause, because an arm, an entire, grotesque arm from shoulder to fingertips, had been nailed to our door with a large spike directly through the palm.

RAL had made it's reappearance in a big, big way, and judging by the announcement, they had decided that we were among their biggest enemies.

I stared at the arm for a moment, not really seeing it, but wondering how in such a short time and over such a seemingly innocent thing like walking a pretty girl home after school, things could come to this. One zombie-loving group scheduled regular intimidation and beating sessions for me, while another zombie-hating group had just begun their intimidation efforts. One side or the other had also tried to kill me, and I'd decided that it had to have been RAL, since ZAPT had already had several chances if they had actually wished me dead. Wasn't that a comforting thought? The group I actually knew something about (and the police knew too) wasn't the one I had to most worry about, it was the completely unknown and mysterious group.

Ms. Halliday called my name from behind me, and I shook myself out of my reflections enough to remember to close the door and thus hide the severed arm. I called Ms. Halliday over and quietly explained that I wanted her to call the police while I stayed and watched over the door. She looked at me questioningly, but she didn't know about the missing note that had lured me into the woodshop that day, and I was determined not to have another piece of evidence disappear right from under our noses. With a nod, she moved to the phone and made the call.

This was a thousand times worse than that night at the Crisp house, because this time it happened at mine. Whoever did this had threatened my Mom. Despite my best efforts, I kept slipping over the edge of reason and blindly raged about. When I'd calm down again I would remind myself that unless I was thinking clearly I wouldn't be able to protect Mom, but then I'd find myself thinking about the situation and once again be seeing red.

The police were there quickly and in great numbers, even though it was the middle of the night. Mom sat at the kitchen table, hands wrapped around a cup of tea and answered questions posed by two detectives. One of the two I'd seen the night Granddad had been kidnapped, the other had introduced himself as on special assignment from the state police. They asked their questions calmly and quietly, reassuring Mom that everything was going to be all right.

Ms. Halliday also answered questions, even though she'd come on to the scene late. It didn't sound as if she were able to shed any light on the matter, but I doubted that she was telling everything she knew. I was pretty positive on that point.

As I talked to another detective, I watched two guys in lab coats examine the arm nailed to our front door. I was fascinated as they took countless photographs from every angle and distance and then they taped paper rulers to the door and took even more pictures. The detective peppered me with question after question, scribbling notes the entire time. Once he learned that I'd been at the Crisp house the night the first zombie hand had been found, he wanted to go back and go over in detail everything that had happened since then. He seemed very interested in my "accident" at the school, and I told him that I'd watched over the arm until police arrived because of the note that turned up missing that time. I also told him about the beating I'd gotten at the hands of ZAPT, but I think he knew I was lying when I said I didn't know the names of my assailants. We also covered thoroughly my assertion that it was the RAL who'd done this, and why I thought they had also been responsible for the attempt on my life.

Before dawn the old doctor from the research lab arrived to examine the zombie arm. Once again they ruled out the possibility that it belonged to Granddad or the other kidnapped zombie, but it was disturbing that this arm was right handed, as was the hand spiked to the post near the Crisp house. Someone out there had at least two zombies, and maybe as many as four.

I also got the impression that the police were starting to treat this like more than simple vandalism or a series of trivial, unrelated events. As far as I was concerned, it was about time that they took this seriously.

The sun was already up before the police finished with their initial investigation. As soon as it was light enough, patrolmen fanned out through the neighborhood to look for anything suspicious that might've been missed in the dark. As a reassurance to my Mom, a patrol car was permanently assigned to our immediate vicinity, and would drive by the house at least twice an hour.

I wasn't even going to try to go to school, but I was much too wound up to go back to bed. In the meantime, I decided to write down everything I could think of related to the present circumstances, thinking that maybe by putting it down on paper, it might jog my memory or maybe let me see a connection that I'd been missing. That took several hours, and at the end I was yawning, and managed a short nap. When I woke up, Mom fixed us a late lunch and told me that Ms. Halliday had packed up her things and moved out.

Chapter 14.

Autumn stopped after school, her main news being that her mom was probably not going to allow her to come by any more. Our response was to sit close together on the front room sofa, my arm around her shoulders and her head leaning against me. We talked about the situation, and she actually had me laughing a little as she relayed the best of the rumors from school that day. By best, I mean craziest of course, and some were so wild and imaginative, you had to wonder at the type of mind that could dream up such scenarios. I also told Autumn that I was going to speak to Officer Ossie the next time I saw him about Ms. Halliday's walks out to that field and the possibility that you might be able to approach the research lab from behind via that streambed.

All too soon, it was time for Autumn to head back to her house. As luck would have it, we were saying goodbye on the front porch (tingles!) when the patrol car drove by. I waved it down and when Officer Ossie pulled over, I asked him to take Autumn home, and then I'd appreciate it if he could come back here, for I had some things to talk about with him.

I sat on the front porch and waited. When the car returned, Officer Ossie asked if I wanted to ride along for a bit, so I ran in and told Mom where I'd be. She was fixing dinner, trying to distract herself by keeping busy, and told me not to be too late. I ran out and climbed into the car.

As Officer Ossie pulled away from the curb, I asked him how he was doing after the other night. He looked a little sheepish and then apologized for not being more help. He went on to tell me that when he realized where he was, he was staring straight up at the stars. It took him a few minutes to collect his wits and crawl to the car. He was still dazed, and instead of calling in on the radio he found himself behind the wheel, sitting in front of the police station with the engine idling. When other patrolmen came out of the station and headed for their cars, they spotted him and that's when he realized they'd been looking for him. He hadn't answered the radio calls, he didn't remember hearing them. The police doctor said he'd suffered a mild concussion from the punch, and he'd been put on light duty status for most of a week. In fact, the closest he'd been to doing real police work was picking me up the morning after, because the chief knew we were friends and was hoping that I might talk about what happened and some leads would develop.

As we drove along, I told him about my suspicions about the RAL, detailing step by step what my thinking was and why I thought that way. He listened silently, and when I asked him point blank about what the police had discovered about the RAL, he told me that he really didn't have any information at all. I must have looked skeptical (probably because I was), but he insisted that he wasn't involved in that side of the investigation and anything solid that had been developed was being held very closely. That was a big if, because he hadn't even heard hints or rumors about it, which was unusual in and of itself.

Officer Ossie did agree that my reasoning seemed sound about the RAL. I changed tack and asked him if they'd found Mr. Brown. Once again, my policeman friend looked slightly embarrassed as he admitted that they had no idea where Mr. Brown was, but that they were actively looking for him. I remarked dryly that the police seemed to be doing a whole lot of actively looking without actually doing much actively accomplishing.

Figuring that since I wasn't learning anything anyways, I might as well ask anything and everything on my mind. I next asked Officer Ossie what they'd learned about the kidnapping of Granddad and the vandalism at the research facility. He surprised me by admitting that they'd gotten some solid leads there, and then confided that they knew of two people involved for sure. They hadn't made any arrests because the police were hoping that these two would lead them to the others or even to the kidnapped zombies. So far, those two had been laying low, staying close to where they were living and being careful not to have contact with each other nor anyone else. Officer Ossie hesitated, then told me that if nothing happened in the next couple of days, then one of the two would be very publicly arrested, in the hopes that it would drive the other into trying to contact his conspirators. It was a long shot, but at this point the police were getting a little desperate to make some progress.

I hadn’t been sure if I was going to mention Ms. Halliday and her trips to the “disappearing� field, but since he was confiding the investigation information, I decided to let him know about what Autumn and I had discovered (without mentioning Autumn just yet). I gave Officer Ossie directions, and we soon found ourselves parked at the edge of the field. Getting out and locking the doors behind us, we made our way across the field, I signalling to be quiet (just in case) and Officer Ossie taking careful note of the area as we walked along.

Coming up to the dropoff to the streambed, Officer Ossie looked surprised. He hadn’t realized that this was even here, despite the fact that the road was fairly busy and people passed by every day. He surveyed the area from the lip of the slope, and his experienced eye noticed the cave entrance. I explained that I’d already explored the cave, and that it was small and dead ended just inside. I didn’t mention the ladybugs.

When I told him that I thought the streambed might lead to close behind the research facility, Officer Ossie agreed that it looked like that might be true, and asked me several more questions about Ms. Halliday and how often she’d been coming out here. Then he surprised me by telling me that I shouldn’t come out here any more, and that neither should Autumn, because it might be dangerous if we were to get caught following Ms. Halliday. He told me that he was going to come back sometime in the next few days with some other officers and that they’d explore the area and follow the streambed. He promised me that he’d let me know what they discovered.

We walked back to the car and got in, driving down the road a ways, we turned around at the research facility’s parking lot and headed back into town. Officer Ossie dropped me off at my house and we said goodnight.

Despite the increased police presence, the Righteous Army of the Living made a big push over the next couple of days. Suddenly it seemed like their flyers were posted everywhere. Autumn told me that even with the ZAPT people watching their street, someone had snuck in and nailed another poster to the pole just down the street from their house. Mrs. Crisp had been livid, and went down to the police station and really raised hell.

ZAPT hadn’t been idle either, increasing their activities in response to the RAL. Unlike the mysterious group, ZAPT had decided to come out openly and several of their members were seen around town putting up posters and handing out flyers. Most people still avoided them, but I noticed that a few people would stop and talk to them. Gradually, their presence was coming to be accepted.

A third group emerged to make things interesting. Mrs. Partridge, the parson’s wife, had decided that the best way to calm the troubled waters currently stirring in our town was to drive out the troublesome elements. Of course, who the troublesome elements actually were was decided by herself, and I’d heard there was a merry row that happened when her gaggle of followers made an appearance at the Crisp house to insist that they move immediately because God wanted it that way.

I knew it was only a matter of time before Mrs. Partridge showed up again on our front porch, and I wasn’t sure whether I was dreading it or looking forward to it for the entertainment value.

In any event, Mrs. Partridge was gaining adherents every day as she talked to anyone and everyone who would listen. Her main point being that everything in town used to be calm and peaceful before the “zombie� problem arose, and that it was the Crisp family who had brought the trouble down upon us all. As for my Mom and I, the fact that Autumn Crisp was my girlfriend made an excellent excuse to tie us into the undesirable camp, and with God’s help the town would be rid of a whore and her evil spawn, who was obviously a bad influence on the wholesome and well behaved children in town.

I rather liked being described as “evil spawn�.

I didn’t like Mom being described as a whore, but she had three phrases that she always used that fit the situation. First, “if it looks like a duck� (being realistic, Mom was, charitably put, “easy�), the second was “sticks and stones�, and probably the key to everything else Mom ever did was “it’s what’s in your heart that matters�. Mom had a heart of gold and always had a kind word for everyone, so I wasn’t worried (too much) about Mrs. Partridge and her sheep. Thinking on it a little bit more, I figured that we’d be getting a visit from the Reverend Partridge any day now as well.

Little did I know that “any day now� would be that very afternoon, and that the Reverend would be accompanied by Mrs. Partridge herself.

When we heard the knocking at the front door, I got up from the table where Autumn and I’d been doing homework. Opening it, I found myself looking into the kindly eyes of the Reverend Partridge, and the not-so-kindly eyes of his wife. I honestly think that she was giving herself a headache as she tried to set me afire with nothing more than her gaze.

I smiled and held the door open, inviting them in. Mrs. Partridge turned crimson (and I would swear I actually felt a tiny smouldering sensation) when I asked them if they’d like some tea. The Reverend smiled behind his hand, apparently he’d found out from someone about his wife’s last visit and the humorous way she’d been routed before even beginning her righteous chastisement.

As they entered, I called out to Mom, letting her know that we had visitors. The whole time, Mrs. Partridge’s head scanned from side to side as if on a gimbal, trying to memorize every detail of our home. I think she was disappointed that we hadn’t been caught in mid-debauch or whatever it was she imagined went on. Reverend Partridge stayed by the open door and, pointing to the hole still visible, asked if that was where the zombie arm had been nailed up. At my nod, he asked if I’d like him to put a blessing on the doorway, and since I couldn’t see anything but good coming of such an act, thanked him.

While the Reverend spoke his words in the doorway, I heard Mrs. Partridge choke and sputter a little when Mom came into the room. To be honest, I think the reaction occurred when Autumn followed Mom in, bearing a tray with tea and cookies. I wasn’t too worried about Mom, because she’s tough, but I’ll admit I was watching carefully to make sure that Autumn didn’t burst into flames.

We all sat down and Mom served tea. As we talked, I realized what it was about the Reverend that I admired so. Everyone, no matter how important or influential (or not, as in our case), received the same genuine courtesy and respect from that man. He treated everyone as if they were royalty, without being patronizing about it. The Reverend Partridge was the Golden Rule personified, and I determined to make myself more like him.

After we’d sat for a short while and sipped and nibbled (Mrs. Partridge took one grudging sip and demurred on the cookies), the Reverend Partridge looked at his wife and she apologized to Mom for the things she’d said. It wasn’t terribly sincere, and the Reverend noticed that too but said nothing. After Mrs. Partridge spoke her words, she turned to me and apologized specifically for what she’d been saying about me. Her eyes were downcast the entire time, and it took her some effort to do it, but I’ll give her credit for actually apologizing (even though not one person in the room believed a word of it for a second).

I wondered if Mrs. Partridge would continue on with Autumn, but after running out of words to me she sat back down, still staring at the floor. Reverend Partridge told Autumn that he and his wife would be paying a visit to their house as well later that evening, and he’d appreciate it if she let Mrs. Crisp know beforehand.

I wondered if Mom would let me break her rule just for tonight, because I really, really, really wanted to be there to hear Mrs. Partridge make her apologies to Mrs. Crisp.

The Reverend and Mrs. Partridge stayed for a little while longer, and it was an odd feeling all around. Mom and the Reverend chatted away as if they were old friends (no, not that I know of, and I wouldn’t tell you if I did know), while Mrs. Partridge sat quietly and stewed. It was as if she emitted a chill field around her that defied anyone to feel comfortable and at ease, a field that her husband and my Mom seemed immune to.

I received a hearty handshake from the Reverend as they left, and I thanked him again for blessing our door. Mrs. Partridge barely touched my hand when I placed it out for her, she acted as if I were contagious or something. At this point, I felt more sorry for her than anything else, because it must have been a long hard life to get through with a soul as black as hers. With a final round of goodbyes, they were gone and I closed the door.

Turning around, I saw Mom and Autumn staring at each other, until both dissolved into giggles.

Posted by Ted at 11:26 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Category: Zombies of Autumn

Bashing Barry Bonds Brings Boffo Book Sales

I'm admittedly biased because I'm a Giants fan and a Barry Bonds fan, but this latest rash of headlines about Bonds starting to use "a vast array" of performance enhancing drugs in 1998 is bullshit.

The book was written by two newspaper reporters who covered the BALCO steroid scandal. Their sources? Nothing new, just the same trial transcripts, interviews and other documents that Major League Baseball, Congress and law enforcement authorities have had all along. And, you know, Bonds is soooo busted by what's there.


This is a rehash of old information, hyped to boost book sales. Does Barry Bonds have a history of cheating? I have no idea, but I do know that up to this point, despite numerous investigations and allegations, no one has been able to prove a thing.

Two "reporters" trash someone's name in order to make a buck. What a surprise.

Posted by Ted at 05:15 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs

March 07, 2006

Launch Report - 3/5/2006

Where: Great Meadow Equestrian Center, The Plains, VA
When: 10am - 4pm
Weather: Winds from 10-20mph

Our rocketry club, NOVAAR, had scheduled a two-day launch event for the weekend, but high winds scrubbed Saturday. Sunday was still quite windy, but we had a great time anyway.

I loaded up the car with some small rockets to fly, but wasn't expecting much because of the wind. When I got to the field I was amazed to see probably 50+ cars there.

I caught up with some friends and talked rockets for awhile, then I headed over to the launch control area to see what was up. On the way I passed a whole gaggle of high schooler's who were there with their Science teacher, prepping egg-lofting rockets. At the table I was drafted into helping do pre-flight safety checks because we were about to get swamped by all those students. I stayed busy for better than an hour, checking rockets, asking questions and making suggestions on things to do differently and/or better in the future.

Besides the egg lofters, there were a few high power flights made, including Mitch's Endevour clone on a J350. His rockets are so reliable that they're almost routine.

A young guy named Ben made a couple of memorable flights with a little orange rocket. By little, I mean about the length of your finger, and he stuffed the largest motor he could fit into this little thing, a C6-5. On the first flight, I watched it zoom nearly out of sight and somehow managed to pick it up on the way down and saw it land. It's too small and light for a chute or streamer, it does what we call tumble recovery. I had a line on it on the ground, and Ben and I walked out there and pretty much right up to it in the middle of the field. Unbelievable, because that combination is almost certain "fire-and-forget".

He did it again later, but lost it. After his family left the launch, Ben's orange rocket reappeared on the lost-and-found table. Someone else found it while looking for their rocket. Ben will be getting it back.

I picked several people's brains for ideas and suggestions for my Level 2 rocket. Then I admired Bart's photo album and stories about his successful Level 3 flight. Bart flew out to Arizona to launch with his brother at an event in the desert. His rocket flew on an "M" motor, weighed 40 lbs at take off and achieved an altitude of 7600 feet. It came down perfectly under chute and Bart now has his Level 3 certification so he can fly with the big big boys.

I did make two flights of my own, both small model rockets.

1. Vampyre - A10-3T - this minimum diameter ring-fin always screams off the pad and gives a great flight. Recovered undamaged on a streamer.

2. Groove Tube - B4-4 - a classic Centuri clone, you could see the wind pushing the rocket sideways as it ascended. It drifted a long way even though I used another streamer instead of a parachute.

Our next club launch is April 1 and 2. There will be contest flying (helicopter, chute, streamer and glider recovery models, plus an altitude event), and as always flying for fun is encouraged. I'm planning to be there both days, and I'll have something high power to fly too.

Y'all are invited.

Posted by Ted at 04:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Rocketry

March 06, 2006

Playing the game for the sheer joy of it

I was sad when Kirby Puckett was forced to retire from baseball because glaucoma made him blind in one eye. I'm stunned that he's passed away at age 44 from a stroke.

Thank you, Kirby, for all the joy you displayed on the field, and for showing us all that you could be great and still have fun playing the game.

Posted by Ted at 09:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

Skipping the "make an ugly woman your wife" part

Eat a live bug every morning when you wake up, and nothing worse will happen to you all day long.

Posted by Ted at 05:16 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

March 05, 2006

Hockey Whoopass Jamboree

Gir's Calgary Flames beat my beloved San Jose Sharks again last night, and so I will display her cool logo on my page.


Congrats, Gir!

Posted by Ted at 08:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Category: Balls and Ice

Play That Funky Music White Boy

70's music.

Do you remember back in old L.A. (Oh, oh, oh)

When everybody drove a Chevrolet (Oh, oh, oh)

Whatever happened to the boy next door

The sun-tanned, crew-cut, All-American male?

Disco. Bee Gees. Tavares. Donna Summer.

Beach baby, beach baby, give me your hand
Give me something that I can remember
Just like before we can walk by the shore in the moonlight.

The radio was filled with cheesy fun like Carl Douglas singing about Kung Fu Fighting and Paper Lace telling us about The Night Chicago Died. Disco Duck. Rubberband Man.

Beach baby, beach baby, there on the sand
From July to the end of September
Surfin' was fun we'd be out in the sun every day.

The Sound of Philadelphia. Average White Band. Wild Cherry. Tower of Power.

Ooooh, I never thought that it could end
Ooooh, and I was everybody's friend
Long hot days
Blue sea haze
Jukebox plays
But now it's fading away

Rick James. Sly and the Family Stone. Earth, Wind & Fire. Marvin Gaye.

We couldn't wait for graduation day (Oh, oh, oh)
We took the car and drove to San Jose (Oh, oh, oh)
That's where you told me that you'd wear my ring
I guess you don't remember anything.

Johnny Cash. Loretta Lynn. Marty Robbins.

Surfin' was fun we'd be out in the sun every day.

Black Sabbath. Robin Trower.

California in the 70's. Freakin' paradise.

Posted by Ted at 08:39 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

March 04, 2006

Internet Resource

Ever have a conversation and someone wonders which movie it was where what's-her-name gets decapitated/disemboweled/immolated? Or you wonder if a certain actress ever gets killed on the big screen? Yeah, me too. All the time.

Now you can find out at Cinemorgue. Indexed by actress name, he even includes nudity alerts (where she dies naked). These aren't just the big names either, he's got some very obscure performers here. Very cool, and the enterprising soul could come up with a few bar-bet winners too by golly.

And for the ladies, there is a separate index for actors and their on-screen demise. Just scroll down to the bottom of the Cinemorgue page for the link.

Posted by Ted at 09:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Category: Cult Flicks

If you didn't want to see it before, you really don't now

Over at Q&O, I saw that an animal rights group is complaining that Oscar nominee Brokeback Mountain was "too rough on sheep".

Stunt doubles? Setup for the sequel? I'll never know.

Posted by Ted at 08:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Category: Cult Flicks Links

March 03, 2006

To my fellow commuter

You drive straight stretches like Shirley Muldowney and you weave in and out of traffic like the Keystone Kops. The fact that you drive a Prius decorated with Habitat for Humanity and Save the Bay stickers doesn't make you an environmentally-conscientious world citizen.

It makes you a clueless prick.

Posted by Ted at 05:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

March 02, 2006

Show and a Dinner

On my way home from work this afternoon I stopped at the grocery store. Now normally I enjoy grocery shopping because I like to cook almost as much as I like to eat. The store I usually go to is pretty good, mainly because it's very convenient to get in and out. But it also seems to be a magnet for the mentally ill.

When it's nice out, there's one old nut-lady who sits out front and chatters away at everyone who comes and goes. Occasionally she'll wander inside and count the carts.

A very occasional visitor is "the preacher", who will try his best to strike up a conversation with you, which quickly turns religious. Come along about the second sentence you direct at him, he starts slipping random items into your cart. The first time he did this to me, I asked him what he was doing, and he explained that a good christian man like myself wouldn't begrudge a few groceries to someone in need. I had to laugh because he just grabs whatever is closest and acts like you'll never notice what he's doing. That day he caught me in a mixed-goods aisle and he wanted me to buy him a bottle of maple syrup, a potholder, dental floss and a home pregnancy test. He always blesses you, even when you make him take his stuff out of your cart.

Today was the first time I met the new loon. He's a tall thin guy, and at first I mistook him for a regular customer. He came in as I was headed towards the checkout lanes, and got in line behind me holding a bottle of wine. The lines were all hosed up because someone called in sick and someone couldn't stay late to cover and all that happy nonsense that you get when you try to manage a workforce comprised of motivated (hah!) high school dropouts confronted with that inexplicable rush at shift change. Next thing you know, wine-loon is in the managers face about opening up more registers because (as he grandly swept his arm around to include us all), there were important people waiting, and he should treat his customers better. I had to laugh.

The manager grabbed the wine from the loon and shoo'd him out. He came right back in, still incensed about the lines, and this time followed by lady-nut, who was scolding him for bothering people. They were escorted back outside (gently and nicely, kudos to the manager). When I left, lady-nut was on the pay phone (she spends hours talking to herself) and the loon was taking all the carts from the front of the store and neatly putting them in the cart-corral at the farthest end of the parking lot.


Posted by Ted at 05:12 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs


I was cutting fin slots in the new rocket's airframe last night, using a Dremel with a brand new fiberglass reinforced cutting wheel, and as the disk whined it's way through the tubing it occurred to me that the noise was probably exactly like what running a frozen cat through a band saw would sound like.

Posted by Ted at 05:19 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

March 01, 2006

Much to say, little time

If you do a search (over on the right) within Rocket Jones for "BATFE" or "Ashcroft", you'll unearth some posts where I talk about the hobby rocketry organizations in the US suing the Federal Government over their classification of our rocket propellants as explosives.

We won.

The BATFE is expected to appeal, although they're kind of stuck at the moment because in order to adjust their definitions, they'd have to classify other useful things as explosives. Things such as gasoline.

Basically, we've whupped 'em in every battle, but the war ain't over. Soon, hopefully, but the fat lady is still warming up her pipes.

In other rocket-related news, construction has begun on my Level-2 certification rocket. As soon as I get the beastie assembled, I'll post pictures. It's a bigg'un.

More rocket stuffs. BattlePark 2006 will be held again in Culpeper, Virginia on April 22 and 23. This is one of the biggies for the eastern US, with folks from all over attending (including those who say "eh?"). I'm planning on being there for both days.

Let's see... rockets... oh, how's about some hockey? Yepper, my beloved Sharks scored five, count 'em, FIVE power play goals and beat the mighty Detroit Red Wings last night. San Jose needs to rack up some wins to get back into the playoff hunt after their horrible start. They also signed goalie Toskala (maybe you saw him at the Olympics?) to a two-year extension to back up Nabokov (I know you saw him at the Olympics). If the Sharks play well, they'll keep 'em both, but the rumor mill is in high gear because Vesa Toskala is hot property right now (8-0-2 in his last 10 games) and that makes him worth some major trade value.

On the Cult Cinema front, I've been watching, I just haven't been writing! But I hope to remedy that in the near future. Zombies line dancing. That's just a hint.

Speaking of zombies, another couple of chapters of my serial story will be posted "real soon now". Honest. I haven't forgotten the title contest either, so you can sleep at night.

All that and more, coming soon to a Rocket Jones near you!

Posted by Ted at 11:27 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Category: Links
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