Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Noodle Soup Not So Tasty...

I have always prided myself on providing what I think are off-topic, interesting attention-getting posts here on my blog - I shall not disappoint today.

Just when you thought I would be commenting on the death of uber actor Jerry Orbach, or the devestation from the recent tsunami that continues to tear a hole in the pavement as people's jaws drop, I have a startling revelation that may just open your eyes.

Today I found out what "noodling" means:

Do you know? I didn't think so.

Is it perhaps a new kind of "soup terrorism" taking the nation by storm - creating lines the likes of which have never been seen by St. Louis Bread Companies?


Perhaps it's yet another slang term for doing the nasty, the ol' blanket drill, diving in the dark, giving attention to the plumbing, having a bit of the giblet, horizontal refreshment, tooli -- you get the drift.

No. That's not it either.

"Noodling" or "hogging" is the art of catching fish with your bare hands - something I knew nothing about until my recent visit to USAToday this afternoon during lunch hour.

The state of Missouri has apparently OK'd this "act" in several counties and according to the article:

"The commission agreed to a June 1-July 15 season, during which handfishers who have bought a $7 permit can use only their bare hands and feet to catch a daily total of five catfish. Fish under 22 inches long must be thrown back.

Handfishing will be legal only along specified stretches of the Fabius, St. Francis and Mississippi rivers."

What's the hullabaloo all about? Apparently conservationists are concerned that fish that are of the appropriate "sexual age" are going to be taken during the process which will significantly effect the population of Missouri's rivers. I suppose I can see that.

Where else but on this big o'l blue call, can you charge someone $7 for for a license putting their hands in dirty river water?

Ahhh, American ingenuity and commerce at work.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Pimp Up Your Xmas!

I hope that everyone that reads here is having a great Xmas! I have an excellent story for you that will surely rock the fabric that makes up your lives.

It all started when my father had purchased a pair of "camouflage loungers" several months ago to add to his collection of around the house attire. They were very average looking and something that was good and comfy - something to toss on when you got home from a long days work to just chill at the house. Surely an excellent purchase for a mere 9.77 at Walmart a few short blocks from his house.

One evening while waiting for his tenant living upstairs, he sat down to wait for her to come back downstairs. While glancing at his newly-acquired pants, he noticed something in the pattern:

Still don't see anything? Let me turn this upside down for you:

That's right! It's the NAKED LADY MUDFLAP CHICK right there on his pants that he bought at the local WALMART!

How's that for an interesting purchase to help pimp up your Xmas with some fly naked chick pants from the local Walmart!!?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Spring Cleaning Before Xmas...

Recently I had acquired the hot, new video game "Half Life 2" and had a devil of a time installing it. I got it just after it's release date on the 16th of November (EEK!), and have just been super-ultra busy with a variety of things - and hadn't revisited it.

I tried three shots at online tech support from the people at Vivendi software to try to get it installed: The note's I had provided went something like this:

"Interrupted Installation" of Half-Life 2?

I am having trouble installing Half-Life 2 and was wondering if the Community can give me some assistance.

I install the first disk, I click thru about 6 windows, and get to this window:

Where it will "initialize" for, on average 4-6 minutes.

I then have this error message shown to me:

"Half-Life(R) 2 Setup Canceled

Half-Life(R) 2 was interrupted before your new software was fully installed. You can rerun this installation at another time to compmlete the setup of this software" and an Ok Button that closes that window.

How what do I do? Originally I thought it was just a busy authentication server as per other postings, but it smells a little left of center.

System is as shown below:

AMD 2600
128mb 9800 ATI All in Wonder Graphics Card.
1gb of RAM
Windows XP (w/o service pack 2)
No other Windows Programs ruinning
No other programs having trouble


I got several attempts at assistance which are also posted on the Half Life 2 Support Forums.

Eventually, I've uninstalled every program on my system and still problems installing.

I reinstalled Windows XP.

Still have the problem.

Mentioned it to a friend at work who'd asked if I "had more than one CD-ROM Device in the system.

I do - a regular burner and then a dual-layer DVD burner.

I tried the second drive - it worked.

So, for Xmas, I've gotten myself a new install, and while it was a pain in the ass, it's turning out to be a good deal.

For those of you that have any kind of "interrupted error" while installing Half Life, or any other game for that matter, try "the other CD-ROM" in your system and you just may strike the gold that I did. The game is both masterfully written, and visually striking and I am happy that I was finally able to play it.

Now, if the tech support people at Vivendi, my friend at work, or anyone else could help me put a few more hours in a day. :)

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Immersion Therapy - It's All in the Presentation...

I can remember years ago when someone asked me "why is it you like Steven Spielberg so much?"

The answer wasn't ultimately clear until the digital effects revolution that was Jurrasic Park, but when looking back at his career there is one thing that he absolutely is a master of - putting you in the moment.

Whether it be turning you into an 8 year old meeting an alien with a hand full of Reese's Pieces, making you understand the terror of swimming alone in black salt water, understanding the pain, angst, and undeniable courage in our WWII veterans, or living the life of an individual who's just had a star of David attached to their blouse - Steven Spielberg immerses you in the environment that he creates with film.

Gloria and I were just going to go sit down to a Sunday evening DVD, when I got an Email regarding to new movies that will be hitting the silver screen in the not too distant future:

Willy Wonka & and the Chocolate Factory has been in production and has yet another genius at the helm: Tim Burton is directing what will be clearly a memorable film. Johnny Depp is apparently starring as the irrepressible Willy Wonka. Tim has the skills, and "immersion" ability (though clearly in a different way than Spielberg) and I have high hopes in seeing something memorable. The trailer is online - it took a very long time to get it (site is very busy) and I would anticipate them removing the trailer because of traffic. It is ZANY to say the least and I look forward to seeing more.

The second note in my Email was a link to a trailer that clearly sparks curiosity: WAR OF THE WORLDS is being made by none other than Steven Spielberg - Mr. Immersion himself. Again, if you take yourself back to any of the movie moments I list above, you will understand the terror, emotion and drive that Steven can create with a movie, and I have just inserted that into my moviewatch radar for more details. To sweeten the pot, Tom Cruise is starring in it - I cannot hardly wait to see what happens with this classic-classic-to-be. Give the trailer a sniff when you get the chance.

Regardless of content, previous vision, and anticipation, one thing is clear - when it comes to Spielberg, it's time to put on the reality SCUBA suit and prepare for a dive into the constructed reality that Steven manufactures during each movie.

One Frame to Rule Them All -
Middle Earth Mania...

This last month at work has been one for the books: I've probably collaborated with the most people at the office on things than I have in long time and it's really felt great. Over the last couple of weekends I've been taking some "me" time that I haven't been doing much of lately and working on projects that are near and dear to my heart, interests and - honestly - just shit that I haven't taken time to work on because I've been juggling so much lately.

Topping the list of today projects, was the manufactured frame for my "Lord of the Rings - Middle Earth Mega Map" that I bought for myself (UGH!) last Christmas time. The thing is huge and I can't wait to get it all set and up in the theater. I made some concept art for a couple of weeks ago and posted that online. A picture of that is below:

To commemorate the movie that comes out this week (Return of the King, Ultra-Mega-Ridiculously Long and Unbelievably Feature-filled Edition), I put the development on this project into overdrive.

Last week Thursday afternoon I went to Home Depot to acquire some frame materials, and after a brief search and call to the father unit, I decided that I would use cedar. After finding the 4 most mangled pieces, and acquiring the nails with the largest heads I could find, I brought it all home and put them into the garage for safe keeping. Fast forward to today.

This morning I got up and dug into them first thing after breakfast. Searching thru the garage, I was trying to think of great ways to weather the material so that it would show age, and not be "cedar fence planks" and turn into something like "remnants of an ancient fortress after a great battle in Middle Earth". My final decisions: A hammer, a detail carving tool, a 3/4 chisel, the widest regular screw driver I could find, a rough saw that I've had for years, a bag of nuts and bolts from years ago, and some good old fashion blood, sweat and effort.

I took pictures of the wood on top of the map to see what it would look like when we were done cutting and outlined areas on the wood, marking them for destruction. The plan is to make these look weathered and more "in place" rather than just fencepost planks. I also wasn't too happy with the color that I had - I wanted something darker, so I went later to pick up some darker stain for the planks for when we were done.

Several hours later, I completed the "planned destruction" of the planks and began staining the planks. They've been drying for several hours and I just went to take a picture of what it looks like now - chipped out and stained.

All that remains is to put the false nail-heads on the front, attach the four sides to contain the map, and then attach the map to the frame. MMmmm, nothing like cutting a project close. :) More Soon...

Take a peek of the map straight on...

Update: I took the time to sneak it onto the wall this evening and took a picture of it "in place."

I think I'll be using the left hand side of the open space to create three little custom shelves that will hold the movies and their "statuettes" from the Special Collector edition discs (three vertically to fill that space). I'll post more details there.

All that remains now is to put the faux ancient nail heads (upholstery nails) on the front corners in rustic fashion! Tally ho!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Better Red(bird) Than Dead...

This last year was a Redbird season to remember. While the Ghost of World Series Past will be stalking the Cardinal locker room, at least until June 5th next year, there is always a bold ray of hope from last years excitement in the guise of a new 248-page baseball-laden entertainment-fest called "A Redbird Nation Reader".

The book is a compilation of the ultra-entertaining Blog contents that can now be purchased and I recommend it heartily.

To put the cherry on the sundae, the proceeds for the book, ALL GO TO CHARITY.

Just when you thought that Brian and Company couldn't possibly make another great move, they astound me again.

Thanks again to Brian, a very gifted writer, for being an inspirational influence to get my own blog started, for having some of the best writings in recent memory, and providing to great efforts even during the "end" of a blog career that will be greatly missed.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

That's Entertainment...

As I get older and experience more in life with my family, friends and strangers, I come to have a really great appreciation for movies in general. The advent of DVDs has become the ability to "keep a library" for a guy that doesn't in general, like to read books.

My collection is mostly a compendium of passions, pleasures, guilt-ridden geekery, stuff from directors I appreciate, and discs with commentary that many are completely unaware of. It continues to grow as DVDs that I have interest and money for are acquired and has become, literally, a library of entertainment that I value greatly.

That being said, this month overall will be be offering what is easily one of the most satisfying months for a DVDphile like myself and I've broken down this month's offerings, along with a quick few thoughts about each below.

This series, starring Kiefer Sutherland, is one of the ripe, golden treasures, that everyone should be watching. The story cris-crosses like a visual ballet during the very short 22-episode season and truly is a wild ride. The overwhelming benefit of this and the other very few shows on my network television watching list? They are completely unafraid to kill characters, regardless of their status. The first two seasons were filled with "getting to know you, 6 episode greatness" and then BAM! That character that you've really built a rapport with is suddenly gone, raising the intensity and anticipation levels infinitely. You never know who, even Kiefer Sutherland's "Jack Bower" might be next. Pick it and it's predecessors up when you get the chance.

This is the second movie in what is a fantastic series of novels. Though they've "hollywood'd" this one up complete with Matt Damon, they have found a visual style and storytelling aptitude that not only supports the base details of the novels, but also provides an exciting ride. I have not yet seen the second one and look forward to seeing this one. I will be waiting to purchase after the third one is release and they make a multi-pack for it.


I am a pretty avid Tom Cruise movie fan and appreciate the intensity and willingness to jump into a variety of roles that other mainstream actors wouldn't always take a stab at. This, like Bourne 2 above was one I had intended to see, however I never had the chance to. DVD will happily change all that.

I, ROBOT ---
Will Smith is one of the legends of our movie-creation time, but I am uncertain that everyone, including himself, knows it. This TOTAL RECALL-esque takeoff was a fantastic romp, and I am certain that the DVD (as are most from SONY Picturecorp) will be filled with features and goodies. Knowing the comedic genius that is Will Smith, I would anticipate a solid Gag Reel as well.

Extended Edition ---

There are movies, and then there are movies. The same can be said for DVDs. The previous two extended editions of the first two LotR Movies are not only about great legends, but the stuff of DVD legend. The care, passion and total geek-phreak level that the creative team that made these films translates so incredibly to the DVD sets that I continually amaze myself every time I have the chance to view/listen to them. They are at the top of the DVD-feature totem pole and will be for a very long time. If you think you have a great DVD set, and it doesn't include any of these extended edition DVDs. you should be
arrested. Two words - BUY IT!

I recently acquired the second season (still don't yet have the first) to help push a TREK Marathon event for a local science-fiction fan club that I am the president of. The transfer of the episodes is some of the highest quality stuff I've ever seen. You can see the textures of their clothes, their face complexions, extra make up on aliens. The sound has been remastered for the opening music and it is something to behold. Mike Okuda, uber trek geek extraordinaire, has offered text commentary for a variety (but not all :( ) provided episodes and they are very entertaining. I look forward to getting this one and the first season eventually.

I doubt there is a film that I can admit to, in my collection, that makes me a perceived phreak of the 80's more than this movie. I can remember the day seeing this movie, planning to go to the recruiter's office. I remember seeing this movie more than any others until after college when STAR TREK II eclipsed all common sense. ;) The features on this disk look to be ultra cool and will shed a great deal of light on the movie that was the box office blockbuster in 1986, and a driving air-based force in my adolescence.

There are few things that are more fun than the incessant onslaught of sad but true caricatures and witty writing that are featured more and more as these Simpson Season sets are released. This is right in the middle of the time that I truly was interested in the "lore" of the Simpsons, and the episodes are a piece of Americana that everyone should make a part of their lives. Those are the releases that are on their way (there are more but sleepy-time's-a-wastin'.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Another New Addition to the Wilkerson Household...

In my email two days ago, was a note about two dogs that were looking for homes. Ahh, dogs.

Gloria and I had been the proud owner of what arguably was the best dog on the planet, Molly. Molly was a 14 year old Shetland Sheepdog that unfortunately contracted urinary tract cancer and we made the decision to put her down March two years ago. That was easily my worst day in a very long time, but it was a day we knew would come.

As I read about the two dogs that were looking for a home, I was happy to see that they were housetrained, one already knew some verbal commands, and after a nice phone call, I learned that same one was a quiet dog.

I have to tell you that I was very excited when I found out this last part. Living in a more rural area has been great, mostly because there is not the incessant barking of dogs that we had when we lived in the city. I have, for a very long time, been interested in finding a new dog, but as with as my friends and family will attest to - I am ultra picky.

The only other overriding x-factor was that the dog would get along with children, and so I packed up Jade, our 17 month-old, and headed the the friendly expanses of a city called Troy, MO, about 20 minutes north of our current location.

The facility that the dog was at is wonderful and clearly has people that care not only about the people that come into the place, but the clientele. The place is probably the cleanest animal care/humane society-type place I have ever seen. After Jade and I had a nice adventure finding the place and met with a great lady named "Claire" who introduced us to "Zada". Zada is clearly shy, and just about everyone thinks that there was a man in her life at some point that was beating on her. I share that perspective as well. Her and the other dog, "Zippy" were found on a very large farm wandering where they had been abandoned. Claire has done a wonderful job caring for Zada in particular, and as Jade and I spent time with her, we found that after the initial "new shyness" she was also very calm, patient, and -- drumroll please -- quiet.

I have to admit that I was immediately sold at this point, but the final gauntlet had yet to be thrown down: how would she react to Jade the Vunderkid? It didn't take long to get the answer. After Jade met Zada and had a short, but very clear conversation (that only Jade can understand however), she patted Zada on the head and squeezed her nose. Being the recipient of said nose-squeeze, I can tell you that they are not fingers, but high tensile poly-carbon rods, covered with flesh, connected to a hydraulic pumping system that open and close on demand - she is very strong and determined for a 17 month-old.

Zada didn't flinch at all and just blinked.

Check please :)

Tonite, my wife Gloria, Jade and I ushered in the newest member of our family, "Zeta", complete with a spelling change to the name, but losing none of the sound or cuddly goodness that is a dog.

As I sit here writing this blog, Zeta is sitting along side my desk (snaps a picture) and I have to wonder to myself: how is it we've gone almost two entire years without a dog at our side?

I look forward to having Zeta to draw blog fodder from and invite you to meet her - she is a welcome and early Xmas present to our entire family, and I have high hopes that she will provide us with the same great moments we had when we had Molly and more.