Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Pursuit of HappYness

Simply put, this is the best movie of 2006; and one of the best movies I've ever seen.

Let me tell you, as someone who's been rich, and someone who's been poor and homeless; being rich is better.

This is story about a man who hit absolute bottom, without any of the "normal" reasons; drugs, alcohol, abuse, whatever; but, because of his own choices, and the actions of those around him. Then he picked himself up, and climbed up to the absolute top of the American dream.

Well, I've been there myself; and as I watched his life disintegrate, while he was trying to better it and rebuild it at the same time... all I can say is, I know what that is. I watched Will smith portraying these actions, and decisions, and emotions, and I absolutely saw in his face what I know the character was feeling.

Smith hasn't had a performance this good since "Six Degrees of Separation", and if he doesnt get an Oscar nomination for this, I'll be pissed. I don't think he'll win it, but he deserves the nod.

This movie is funny, it's sweet, it's smart, it's sad... most of all, it's REAL. You watch every minute of this movie, and you are living this guys life with him.

Now, all that said, I have one little problem. As this guy's life is falling apart, he maintains an incredible focus on his goal (becoming a stock broker to improve his and his sons life), which is great, and important; but he never has any contingency plans; and he allowed himself to get into a position where there was no margin for error or failure, to focus so tightly on that goal.

When you're a single guy with no-one depending on you, that's ok, in fact I've done the same thing; but when you've got a kid to take care of, your dreams and your ideals have to be prioritized, behind feeding, clothing, and housing your child. I don't care what you have to do to manage it, that comes first.

Anyway, that niggle aside, you really should see this movie. If you can walk out of it and not feel touched by this mans life, and his struggle; well I guess you must have had a much better life than I have, and you're lucky; but somehow I don't think that's going to happen.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The corpus...




...follows the effigy.














May the sonnuvabitch rot in hell, and may the victims of his regime rest in peace.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Push and the Kick

Recoil... touchy subject that. To some people, anything more than a .22 "kicks too hard", then there's Rhinos like myself who get a BSG (Big Stupid Grin) every time we touch off a .454, or a .300 win mag.

And people aren't just recoil sensitive, they're sensitive about recoil; as if because they don't like being punched in the shoulder by a 9lb piece of wood and metal at 20 feet per second; they are somehow less of a man (or woman).

Well folks, that just aint so. The fact is, some rifles or shotguns, or pistols are just plain more pleasant to shoot than others; doesn't matter who you are; and different people have different tolerances for the different types of forces involved in recoil.

Different types? Yeah that's what I was referring to in the title of this post "The Push and The Kick". There are two dimensions to recoil, it's velocity, and it's force; and they have a very different effect on the body, and on recoil handling.

The "Push", is the total force being applied; and is usually measure here in ftlbs. The "Kick" on the other hand, is the speed at which that force is applied, and is usually expressed in feet per second.

Now, factoring the force, and the speed together with the distance the object travels, using something called the "time work equation", gives you the effective "impact", but that's more complex than I want to get into right now.

Let's just say that the "Push" is what wears you out, fatigues you etc... and the "Kick" is what causes pain. Kick bruises you, push gives you joint aches etc..., and that's just because of the way the human body deals with the forces of recoil.

John Ross has posted a spreadsheet on his site showing you how to estimate the recoil force and speed of a particular load in a particular weapon here: John Ross on Recoil

Now, there are a lot of guns out there with a reputation for substantial recoil. On the rifle side, most Americans are liable to think of anything above about the .30-06 level as heavy recoiling. On the 'big and slow" side of things, the .45-70 is considered to be heavy recoiling. Also common would be complaints about the recoil of 3" magnum slugs.

Of course, the design of the gun, the action, the stock, and the weight of the gun are all as important (or more so) than the actual chambering itself.

For example, part of the reason the .45-70 has a reputation as a heavy kicker; is that it's often chambered in light weight lever action or single shot guns; with western straight grip stocks, and flat or crescent solid butt plates with little or no recoil pad. Oh and they are most often shot while wearing standard street clothes. Pretty much the worst possible combination for dealing with recoil

The recoil of the .45-70 is stout, but not ridiculous. Even in a relatively light weight Marlin guide gun, the .45-70 has a hell of a lot of push, but it’s not too sharp push.

First thing, there's a hell of a broad range of .45-70 loads; from cowboy bunny farts, to long range Ballard match type loads, to elephant/cape buffalo loads (350gr at 2150fps).

Compared to milsurp 7.62 nato in a semi-auto rifle; even with relatively light loads, it’s a hell of a lot harder; just because you’re talking twice the mass, in a lighter gun, and without the action to act as a buffer. The impulse is slower, but there’s a lot more of it, especially in the heavy loads. Even the relatively light plinking loads there's a lot of push, but not a lot of kick.

Compared to a 3” magnum slug, personally I’d take most .45-70 loads though. The recoil impulse is far more pleasant.

The heaviest of .45-70 loads, at the highest pressures, can get into unpleasant recoil territory. In a lighweight single shot, with a hard buttplate they can be downright painful. In an 8 or 9lb gun with an optic, a sling, soft rubber recoil pad etc… they aren’t too too bad.

But then again, I’m a recoil monster.

Now, away from the subjective, there are some objective measures to help compare; though they aren't necessarily directly useful they at least give you some basis for comparison.

1. 8lb guide gun (sling and optic)
  • Max load 350gr at 2150fps = 28ftlbs at 15fps
  • Maximum antique rifle load 300gr at 1850fps = 18ftlbs at 12fps
  • Medium hunting load 300gr at 1750fps = 14.9ftlbs at 10.9fps
  • Bunnyfart cowboy load 300gr at 1250fps = 9.7ftlbs at 8.9fps
2. Remington 870 Express (7.25lbs)
  • 3” magnum slug, 1oz at 1780fps = 36.3ftlbs at 18fps
  • 2-3/4” slug, 1oz at 1560fps = 29ftlbs at 16fps
3. Winchester model 70 in .308 (8.5lbs)
  • Maximum hunting load 180gr at 2750 fps = 14.7ftlbs at 10.5fps
  • Standard milsurp 150gr at 2800fps = 11.4ftlbs at 9.3fps
So you’ll see, the 2-3/4” slug is actually very similar in terms of both recoil energy and velocity to the maximum loaded .45-70, and the 3” magnum slug is actually significantly worse; both harder and faster (though from a lighter gun). That said, the 870s stock is a bit better for recoil handling than the lever gun.

The medium hunting .45-70 loads, would be very similar to the heaviest .308 hunting loads; or a medium heavy .30-06 load. Mil-Surp 7.62n would be a bit harder on the shoulder than cowboy action loads in the guide gun. Again, a Model 70 stock is shaped a bit better for handling recoil than a Marlin guide gun.

If we were comparing recoil of Mil-Surp 7.62x51n in a 9-12lb semi-auto; well, it would feel a lot lighter than any of the others listed here. Both the "push" and the "kick" of the recoil would be reduced significantly.

So, how much recoil can you handle?

Well, that’s a complicated question.

As I said above, size and weight of the gun, and the design of the action and stock are as important as the chambering when it comes to recoil management. Not only that, but there's a big difference between what you can only shoot one or two of because it hurts, what you can shoot a few boxes of before it wears you out, and what you can shoot all day.

Also, muzzle brakes can make a huge difference; in that they tend to reduce the felt "kick", but they so drastically increase the muzzle blast that they can actually make shooting a gun more unpleasant, as the shock of firing batters your eyes and ears.

Remember this is all subjective, so what can I take?

Well, I’ve fired 20lb .50bmgs before, and 10-14lb .338 Lapua, .458 win mag, .460 Weatherby etc… and they weren't so unpleasant that I wouldn't do it again.

In fact, the 9lb or so .460 was far more unpleasant than the .50, because of the light weight; and the .50 having a remarkably effective muzzle brake, and recoil handling stock.

I've even fired an 8 bore, and a .577; and both were painful enough even at 20+ lbs that I didn’t want to do it again, after a single firing (the only normal, prolery functioning rifles I've had that problem with).

Generally speaking though, the medium bore high intensity magnums (in the 7mm to .350 range) are generally far less pleasant to shoot than the larger, but generally slower rounds. Yes the .458 win mag or the top end .45-70 loads hav a lot more push, but that push is slower; and the body handles that better. One of the worst recoiling weapons I’ve ever fired was a 6lb .300 Weatherby. The big Dakotas and Lazzeronis are chambered in some light weight rifles, with VERY high velocity loadings of medium to large bullets, and they’re a handful as well.

Shooting position makes a big difference as well. All of the above were far worse on the bench than either standing/offhand or even prone. Hell, I fired a .50bmg McMillan standing, once (using a standing rest). It was an interesting experience. No, I didn't fall over, but I certainly wasn’t steady or stable for a few seconds afterwards; but importantly, it wasn't nearly as painful as firing a .460 Weatherby in ANY position.

Ok so that the maximum, but who wants to beat the hell out of themselves for just a round or two?

So, what could I shoot all day and still be having fun? 7mm mag to .300 win mag is about the max for a 50-100rd session in street clothes for me. The same goes for 3” magnum slugs. Actually I find they are a bit more unpleasant than a medium magnum rifle, and after about 20 I start not wanting to shoot more of them.

With a really good recoil pad, a well designed stock, and a shooting jacket; from a reasonable weight gun (say 12-14lbs), .338 Lapua and the like are just fine for a half dozen boxes. Try that with a .460 Weatherby and get back to me though. Even compared to the .458 win mag, the .460 is a nasty beast. .458 is strong, but it isn’t fast and sharp like the .460 is.

The .458 launches a 350gr bullet to about 2500fps, or a 500gr bullet to 2100fps. The .460 takes that same 500gr bullet to 2600fps. Presuming both are chambered in a 9lb rifle the recoil difference is substantial.

.458 = 52ftlbs at 19.5fps
.460 = 77ftlbs at 23.4fps

Remember, the speed of the recoil is far more important to the “pain” factor than the total energy; but the total energy is what wears you down.

The example of the 6lb lightweight .300wby I was talking about above?

.300wby = 45ftlbs at 22fps

Less than the .460; but more than most any other rifle I mentioned.

Another gun with a reputation for heavy recoil, but of the "heavy and slow" variety, is the .375h&h. In a 9lb .375 by comparison has 27.4ftlbs at 14.8fps; about the same as top end .45-70 “magnum” loads.

Speaking of .45-70 magnums, there is a factory super .45-70 called the .450 marlin, and it's a pretty impressive beast. .450 marlin in a 7lb gun with the hottest heaviest loads I can find runs 42.8ftlbs at 19.8fps; pretty substantial, and fairly fast as well; about equivalent to a .458 Winchester... but it's in a 7lb lever gun.

Like I said, with a well designed stock, recoil pad, and the right clothes OK; but not for a long range session in street clothes.

Then of course there's rapid fire. Most people can't handle anything above intermediate power in rapid fire without spraying all over the place. Rapid fire, I am one of the few folks I know who can easily control a full auto in .308 or .30-06 (I’ve never tried a handheld weapon in full auto more powerful than that); but I’m also a huge guy with gorilla arms.

I've fired full auto M14s before, and I owned a semi M14. I bought 20 m14 mags and a couple thousand rounds of surplus ammo so I could learn to featherfire (a technique for rapid controlled semi-auto fire) my m14. I can easily empty an entire M14 mag into the kill zone of a human silhouette, offhand at 50 yards, in less than 5 seconds, sometimes less than three.

A lot of folks though, can't even handle 9mm full auto from an AR carbine; which I don't really understand, so long as they are using the proper technique...

Anyway, as you can see, perception of recoil is strongly effected by what you're trying to do with the gun.

... And then there's hand guns.

Now, in a handgun, you're generally talking about anywhere from 1/2 to 1/20th the energy of a rifle round. Of course you're also talking about a gun that weighs 2-4lbs (usually), rather than 6-25lbs, but still.

The heaviest recoiling handgun specific rounds out there can be pretty harsh; but in the right gun they can also be pussycats. In a handgun, weight and grip shape and composition are even more critical than in a rifle.

For example, the S&W J frame scandium pistols have a fearsome reputation as knuckle cutters when fire with .357 loads. They after all only weigh 12oz, and have a very small grip frame. Now, I personally don't find them all that unpleasant with .357. Yeah, they’re stiff and sharp, but I don't have a problem putting a full box through one.

On the other hand, when I fired a 329 (a 22oz .44 magnum) with the factory wood grips, and a full house factory .44 mag load, I put the gun down and said “I’m not firing that again”.

Firing the 329, I was actually concerned about damaging my wrist; and as well I should. That particular gun and load combo was delivering 29ftlbs to my wrist, at 33fps; which is more than some big bore rifles; and substantially more than a cruiser grip 12ga firing a magnum slug for example (about the most painful thing most people would ever want to do with a gun).

For some reason, some folks seem to think the .45acp, .40S&W, .357 sig, and 10mm chamberings all have "too much" recoil.

Well, in fact, the .45acp is a very mildly recoiling round in any reasonably sized pistol. The absolute heaviest .45 SUPER loadings (far more powerful than the acp), from a standard 1911, would produce 10.7ftlbs at 15.2fps; and standard pressure rounds produce 5.4ftlbs at 10.8fps. Now that's not exactly a gentle breeze, but it's not going to knock you off your feet either. Even from a much lighter gun like the Glock 36 (the smallest and lightest .45 in common use) you'd get 9.3ftlbs at 18.5fps.

I'll grant, that at 18.5fps, the gun can be a bit dificult to hold on to in rapid fire unless the grip fits you very well; which is in fact why I sold mine; but at no time was the gun uncontrollable or painful to fire.

The .40S&W and .357 sig both produce similar but slightly less recoil force to the .45acp, but they are a fair bit faster, in the 15fps range; and the 10mm produces recoil at about the same speed and force as the .45 super.

Again, not nothing; but not uncontrolable; and none of them are in the range of the really big bore handguns.

The heaviest recoiling common handgun rounds are generally considered to be the .500 S&W, .475 Linebaugh, the .454 Casull, the .460 S&W, the .480 Ruger, the .50action express, and the .44 magnum. All of them offer energies at least equivalent to those of a small rifle (or even medium magnum) cartridge, and in fact are often chambered in small rifles, They are all used for hunting up to medium game, when fired from both handguns and rifles.

Of these, the "power" king is certainly the .500; and it's one hell of a beast indeed.

The top end .500 S&W loads, which to my mind really should only be used in a carbine, produce 58.6ftlbs of recoil at 29fps when fired from the X-Frame revolver; which really is enough to cause damage to your wrist.

Standard loadings are much lighter, producing in the 20-25ftlb at 16-20fps range; which is a lot certainly, but it's not painful for most people given proper technique; and good gun design (which the X-Frame is). Because of the weight, and excellent recoil controlling design, I don't find the standard loadings of .500 S&W to be painful, but I do think it’s excessive for a handgun.

I’ve also fired several handguns in .45-70 (a bfr, and a couple of TCs), and I found them to be ridiculously excessive, and more than a bit painful. In fact, in general as I mentioned rifle rounds are far more energetic than pistol rounds; and firing them through a far lighter weapon, with far less capability to absorb recoil built into it's design and nature... well that's just a recipe for pain.

All that said, I love shooting hot handgun rounds.

I LOVE 10mm, .45 super, hot .357 and .44 magnum, super hot .45 colt and .454 casull. I can’t wait for the .460 S&W to be chambered in something other than the X-Frame, because I don’t care for the X-Frame (and especially to get a companion carbine for a .460 pistol).

I’ve fired a heck of a lot of rifle caliber pistols; and in an encore, an XP100, and other similar large single shot designs, anything up to about the .308 range isn’t too bad; but those are very large, relatively heavy single shot guns with stocks specifically designed to deal with heavy recoil.

So what's too much recoil?

Well, as far as velocity goes, anything more than 20 feet per second tends to be quite shocking to the body; be it in a handgun or a rifle. That's about where the "kick", and often the bruise really set in; and other than a good recoil pad and shooting jacket (or glove) there's not a lot of mitigation there.

In terms of recoil energy, handguns with more than about 10ftlbs, or rifles with more than about 15ftlbs tend to be thought of as "hard recoiling", but don't seem to be "painful" or "uncontrollable" to most until you get over about 20ftlbs, and 30ftlbs or so respectively.

If you are well prepared for recoil, with a good gun design, shooting pad, proper shooting position etc... Then pistols with 40+ftlbs of energy, and rifles with 100+ftlbs are still shootable, at least once or twice anyway.

Of course this is all entirely subjective; as I know folks who shoot .50bmg from 2olb guns all day long (purse permitting), and others who think that .223 is painful.

Ok... those .223 folks are nuts... and the .50cal shooters aren't far behind; but really there is a very wide variation even within the standard deviation. I can shoot my '03 springfiled sporter with a solid plastic butt pad all day (200 rounds in one session anyway) like it was a .22; whereas my friend JohnOC starts flinching after 5 rounds, even when he's got his PACT pad strapped on.

Hell, try one of the thumpenblitzenboomers, you may really enjoy it; and if not you can sell it to me cheap.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Here's my favorite Christmas song. As far as I'm concerned should only be in latin, but I'll include both versions.

First the traditional gregorian version. This isn't the one made popular by "the three tenors", this is a lot older than that:

Adeste fideles,
Laeti triumphantes;
Venite, venite in Bethlehem;
Natum videte,
Regem Angelorum:

Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus Dominum!

Deum de Deo,
Lumen de lumine,
Gestant puellae viscera;
Deum verum,
Genitum, non factum

Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus Dominum!

Cantet nunc hymnos
Chorus angelorum,
Cantet nunc aula caelestium:
Gloria, gloria,
In excelsis Deo!

Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus Dominum!

Ergo qui natus
Die hodierna,
Jesu tibi sit gloria;
Patris aeterni
Verbum caro factum!

Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus Dominum!
And theres one of the many english versions, none of which really come close to transliterated from latin, but some at least get the sense of it. This one is the version my church sings:

Oh Come All Ye Faithful
Joyful and triumphant,
Oh come ye, Oh come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels

Oh come, let us adore Him,
Oh come, let us adore Him,
Oh come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Oh Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing all that hear in heaven God's holy word.
Give to our Father glory in the Highest;

Oh come, let us adore Him,
Oh come, let us adore Him,
Oh come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

All Hail Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning,
Oh Jesus for evermore be Thy name adored.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
Oh come, let us adore Him,
Oh come, let us adore Him,
Oh come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

And then of course, there's Ol' Dee and the boys, and their take on the matter at hand:

'Twas Christmas Eve Babe

Down at the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won’t see another one
And then he sang a song
The rare old mountain dew
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you

Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I’ve got a feeling
This year’s for me and you
So happy christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

They’ve got cars big as bars
They’ve got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It’s no place for the old
When you first took my hand
On a cold christmas eve
You promised me
Broadway was waiting for me

You were handsome
You were pretty
Queen of new york city
When the band finished playing
They howled out for more
Sinatra was swinging,
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night

The boys of the nypd choir
Were singing galway bay
And the bells were ringing out
For christmas day

You’re a bum
You’re a punk
You’re an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy christmas your arse
I pray God it’s our last

I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can’t make it all alone
I’ve built my dreams around you

Pogue Ma`thoin, and Merry Frikken Christmas

UPDATE: No, I'm not having a bad christmas, it's sort of an Irish thing. Traditianl as it were. Our chritstmas is going great.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Satch, Nature Boy, and The Viking

So, last week I was talking about greatest guitarists, and I mentioned that I thought Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai were absolutely technically brilliant, but lacked soul. In the same breath I rated Jo Satriani as the fifth greatest guitarist of all time.

A few commenters agreed, a few did not. Let me clarify my opinions here.

I LOVE Steve Vais work. It's absolutely brilliant; and he does have soul, but it's lacking in comparison to other players. He clearly sacrifices soul for some of his technique. If you listen to him talk about guitar, it's an intellectual fascniation for him. The man is a musical genius, and guitar is how he exprecesses his understanding and appreciation of the structure of music; it's not an end in and of itself, nor an outpouring of his soul.

Thus, while I believe he is technically the second greatest rock guitarist of all time (behind Malmsteen), he's only ninth on my list (and Yngwie is tenth).

Malmsteen, when he's on his game is simply faster, more precise, and can jsut do MORE different things with a guitar than anyone in the history of rock...

But his work is cold. Even when it's angry or loud, it's cold. Yngwie plays guitar as a cynical "fuck you" to all his classical music teachers. If he'd never picked up the guitar he'd be first chair in the Swedish Philharmonic, or he'd be conducting it. Yngwie doesnt express himself with the guitar, he uses it to our out advanced musical theory and show you how much better the is than everyone else.

Yngwie is also a drunken abusive bitter bastard who everyone hates. Surprise Surprise.

Satriani though, he's different. Satch is not only a truly great technical guitarist, and a great musicion; he SPEAKS, and sings with the guitar. His work, when it's more than jsut the technique, is emotionally and spiritually expressive in a way that Vai can't quite match, and Yngwie doesn't even try for.

I'mna give you an example right here:



This is Yngwie, Vai, and Satriani all on the same stage, playing Hendrixs Voodoo Chile; which is a kinda twisted classic blues tune.

Listen to what all three of them are playing, and you'll see exactly what I mean. This song is Hendrix absolutely busting a gut with soul... but Yngwie isn't even close.

Listen to Yngwie play, and the notes are there, a hell of a lot of them in fact, but he isn't SPEAKING to you; he's just wanking the guitar.

Then Vai comes in, and you can hear him singing a bit with his solo; teasing it in, getting a bit of expression in. He's playing less than Yngwie is, but he's saying more.

Then Satriani starts to play; and he's absolutely saying something. He's getting the emotion across. He's playing half as many notes as Yngwie, but he's saying ten times as much.

THIS is what I'm talking about when I say Vai and Malmsteen lack soul. Vai at his best can express his soul through the music, but most often it's an interesting intellectual excercise and a bit of fun to him. Malmsteen simply cannot put soul into his music; the closest he gets is ego and arrogance. Satch, is just natural. The soul pours out when he's playing.

Now, you want to hear Vai absolutely tear it up, and really get the low down grunt into it, none of this supersolo arpegio from hell, wanking stuff? Find a live version of "Bad Horsey" when he was playing with Billy Sheehan on bass and crank it up.

Yngwie can't do that, and actually neither can Satch. Stevie has one thing over both of them, in that he's absoltuely great in a band. Satriani never seems to really FTI into a bands music, and Yngwies ego is to big to let anyone shine but him.

Oh and one thing about Yngwie. He's so technically great, that even near crippled he can still do that. Why do I say near crippled? Because when he filmed this he was so drunk and high he could barely stand or speak; and that's how he spends most of his time. Yngwie is the portrait of a genius so angry at the world that he destroys everything around him. Oh, and I think he's got a serious Paganini fetish. Seriously I don't think he can do anything without invoking Paganini at least once.

Update: Here's some more of what I was talking about; in this clip, the three of them play "Little Wing", one of Hendrixs most emotional and experssive songs (I think Vaughans version was better, but that's a rare opinion). If you listen to Yngwie, he's just shredding. Vai is treading the line between technique and soul. Satch though... it's jsut flowing out of him. He's saying more, with less; and to me it has a far greater voice.

They're No Angels, but They're Close Enough for Me

Although I won’t say we’ve got perfect little angels, we often get comments about how well behaved our kids are; and I have to agree, they are among the best behaved kids of their age I know of.

In the past year we’ve had maybe one screaming fit and tantrum from Shaila outside the house, nothing like that from Rosie; and saying that with a 2-3 year old is a pretty impressive feat. The kids are obedient to us; respectful to us, and to family, friends and strangers; and of course very loving; in public or at home.

Yes, of course they break the rules, every child does; but in doing so they are far nicer, more respectful, quieter etc.. than the run of the mill American parent has come to expect from their young children.

Honestly, I don't understand why so many parents tolerate the behaviors that they do. Screaming, throwing fits, poking, throwing things, speaking inappropriately in public, poking into other peoples business, hitting and fighting... These are all behaviors that 30 years ago would have exiled a child from public, and put them on a restrictive punishment; but for some reason parents today don't seem to see such rudeness and indiscipline as unacceptable.

Actually, the sheer gall of most parents our age appals me. They let their children throw fits and scream and wail in public; committing the most gross abuses against public decency and civility; and yet they expect all around them to give them special clearance and dispensation, because of their little monsters.

I don't think so.

A poorly behaved child, unless they are mentally ill, is nothing more than an indication of a poor parent. I always say, expect mediocrity and that is surely all you will recieve; expect excellence and you may just get it. Well, parents who expect nothing but bad behavoir, and tolerate it; will recieve nothing but bad behvavior and disrespect from their children; and neither will the world around them. A badly behaved child is far more likely to be a badly behaved teen, and a badly behaved adult; who we call either louts, or criminals depending on the severeity of their poor behavior.

So we simply do not accept it, and therefore we do not have poorly behaved children.

People ask us how we do it, and it’s simple. Love, Discipline, Respect, and IRON CLAD rules and boundaries.

We instill the values in our children, of respect, discipline, good behavior, and kindness; in everything we do, and in every lesson we give. We also teach them to expect if from others.

We give them firm boundaries, and clearly understood rules; because kids NEED those things. No, you shouldn't be too restrictive, but a kid should always know where they standl and where they stand should always be clear and consistent, with clear and consistent results and consequences for every action.

If the kids break the rules, they get punished. The rules are flexible and reasonable, but if they break the rules in a way that isn’t justified, it absolutely does not matter what arguments they make, how they feel, what they say, they get punished. If they do it again their punishment escalates.

We treat them absolutely fairly, we always explain every punishment, and why they are getting it; and this one amazes folks: After they are punished, they always thank us and tell us how much they love us.

No, we don’t make them thank us, they thank us because they understand we do it because it’s the right thing, and because we love them.

We don't negotiate with our kids, we don't bribe them, and we don't beg them to obey us. We make it very clear and direct, "you must do what we say, or you will be punished", and in the main they do it. The biggest problem we have is that they frequently don't want to clean up after themselves (something I'd call a bit of a universal issue).

Our punishments aren't harsh. It starts with being sent to their rooms for a short time and not being allowed to do whatever it is they wanted to do, then it’s sent to their rooms for half a day, then its no lunch or supper, and finally our most severe punishment, which we’ve probably had to use perhpas a dozen times this past year.

The most severe punishment we ever give is a light spanking; always accompanied by a trip straight to bed. By light I mean not enough force to make their butts red. If they resist the spanking, they get more spanks. If they scream too much about it before hand, or try to run away, or try to block the spanking, they get more spanks. Every step of the way we calmly explain to them why they are bing spanked, why they are gettign more spankings, and how "it doesnt matter that you don't WANT a spanking, you've got to be punished. If you don't want to be spanked, don't do make us spank you".

After the spanking, the girls always do the same thing, they grab and hug us, and tell us they're sorry and how much they love us; because they know they did wrong, they know they need to be punished, and they accept it.

Some folks say spanking isn't effective, or it's cruel, or kids don't understand why you're doing it, or it's just causing useless pain.

Bull.

The point of spanking isn’t to cause a lot of physical pain, it’s to physically reinforce the emotional consequences of misbehavior. The physical pain they recieve is nothing compared to the normal scrapes and bumps of their days; it’s the EMOTIONAL pain caused by the realization that they have made someone they love, and who loves them, hurt them; which is the real effect of the punishment.

That emotional pain is a far more effective reinforcement against bad behavior than any physical pain. Physical pain can be endured. Kids can get used to being spanked, and then where are you? You can escalate the force, but at that point, what’s the point? You’ve lost their respect and their sense of consequence and proportion, and you are now falling back on fear.

Your children should never truly fear you, or fear your punishment, in a physical sense. Terror of punishment is a far less effective, and far more negative motivator, than the prospect of the loss of respect and disappointment of a parent.

Those who fear punishment will only do the minimum necessary to avoid it. Those who wish to avoid dissapointing or losing the respect of the ones they respect or love, on the other hand; will generally do their best to earn or keep the respect of those people.

Friday, December 22, 2006

This year's lessons...

The odd mixture of lessons I've learned this year:

  • Fairy tales really exist, even if Cinderella already has two kids.
  • More money means more problems to handle, not fewer.
  • Social classes are meaningless, and class warfare is patently stupid. Class has nothing to do with money, and everything to do with behavior.
  • A 12 gauge shotgun has a helluva lot of recoil, and the recoil reducing stock from Knoxx rocks.
  • Self defense is both a right and a responsibility.
  • No one with clinical narcissism can ever be trusted.
  • Responsible parenthood means wanting and striving for what is best for your kids. Many, many parents fuck that up.
  • It's impossible to have a useful debate with a flaming liberal.
  • Being judgmental is not a bad thing. All people are created equal, but that doesn't make all behavior equal.
  • Most of what I find attractive in a firearm is the finish, and how "old" it looks (the older the better!).
  • Just because a person knows how to defend themselves and is skilled with firearms doesn't make them "dangerous". When SHTF, it is far better to be with a person who knows how to commit violence, but chooses not to unless the situation is dire, than a pacifist who very well may hand you over to save their own ass.
  • People skilled in self defense and hunting are the nicest, most polite, and often innocent-looking people. Thus I've learned to assume that if a man looks like a kindly grandfather, he's most likely packing.
  • If I want horses, I need to buy Chris machine guns. That is, after all, how Beth got hers =).
  • An innocent picture of a woman wearing a Kalashnikitty t-shirt while posing with an AK will circle the gun blogs at an amazing rate.
  • Flying coach with two larger-than-life men sucks.
  • Clay birds make really nice reactive targets when placed on garden stakes.
  • If I ever write a best-seller, I want to see a script before I let someone buy movie rights (like that will ever happen).
  • Sometimes 4 month old kittens can act suspiciously like lapdogs.
  • Court is not for nice people.
  • Males who shoot find women who shoot extremely sexy.
  • Life changes at the speed of light, even when you're perfectly happy where you are.
Mel

Just call me Mel, everyone else does.

The Mrs. gets it right once again

Go. Read.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

My New Camp Knife

A couple weeks ago I posted that I hard just bought one of these:

"This is a Lynn & Cook Saturn; which I ordered in 3/16" ats34, no scalloping on the blade spine, dark red, heavily figured redwood burl scales with mosaic rivets, and a hand tooled leather sheath. I don't have it here for a pic right now, because mine was a custom order; so I could get exactly what I want (it's usually in 5/32" 440c, with the vine pattern on the spin, and a kydex sheath)."
And now, here it is:


3/16" ATS 34, with hand shaped redwood bastard burl (the type of burl pattern), and mosaic rivets. Excuse the lighting, and the smudge marks from my hand; I just took a few pics quickly this evening after the big brown van of happiness dropped it off.





It's got a very unusual burl pattern; that doesn't show up very well here. I asked Lynn and Dennis to just pick a piece of pretty, heavily figured wood, whatever they thought looked good; and I really like the results. As I said, in photos you can't really see the depth of the burl, but it's very nice. Also the scales are left satin hand rubbed with no lacquer etc... because it's intended to be a hard used knife; if it were fully finished the figuring would really pop.

I may polish it up with some lemon oil and take some pics just to see what it would look like.

But, like I said, it's intended to be a work knife. Look at the thickness of the blade here:


and the depth of the grind, the choil, and the strength of the tip and false edge.


This is one seriously tough knife, that should stand up to years of camp and field use.

The knife is very specifically right handed; you can see the scales are offset shaped, and in the pic at the top you can see the finger grooves are slightly angled, so that a right handers grip is reinforced:


It's still quite comfortable in the left hand, but the grip is greatly reinforced in the right hand; it's just more natural and secure. Also note that these scales are thinner than those on most knives; because the blade stock is so thick. In order to keep the grip slim, the scales were slimmed down by 1/16th. The sculpted shape of them is EXTREMELY comfortable; I could easily see working with this knife for hours without hand pains.

Of course, I ordered it with a right handed leather sheath, rather than the standard kydex:


My only real complaint actually, is that I don't care for the Finnish style of sheath, that has become very popular with custom knife makers because it is very simple, tough, and attractive.

The problem I have is that the knife slips deeply into the tube of the sheath and is held in by friction. For a camp and field knife, I prefer a loose sheath, with a secure strap. With this style of sheath, if you push the knife in deep enough to be very secure it can be hard to draw the knife, especially if your hands are wet or slippery.

The knife came hair popping sharp, but the edge is still ground at a relatively strong angle, that I don't anticipate having to regrind either way. Given the quality heat treat, and good base alloy I'd also expect the edge holding to be as good as any stainless knife can be, provided I don't do much cutting of bone, or other hard abrasive media.

All in all, it's a gorgeous, sharp, strong knife, and I'm very happy; especially considering the total cost including shipping, was $160. I'd easily rate this knife as high as my $300-$400 knives.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I have a problem..

I admit it, I'm an addict.

I am a Christmas-cookie-baking addict.

In the past 4 days I have made a total of 46 dozen cookies, including:
4 doz double chocolate chip
6 doz caramel and pecan shortbread
2 doz chocolate sandwich
2 doz chocolate snowflakes
2 doz chocolate buttons
2 doz sugar snowflakes
4 doz sugar angels (40 decorated)
1 doz gingerbread reindeer (10 decorated)
1 doz gingerbread trees (10 decorated)
1 doz gingerbread candy canes (10 decorated)
6 doz peanut butter cup/ chocolate chip
15 doz butter cookies

Yeah, I got a little over-exuberant. That's 552 cookies.

Of course 15 doz of those are so small, that any male of our acquaintance could down an entire dozen and still consider it "dessert". And as of this morning, 7 dozen are already gone, either through gifts to Rosie's teacher or through family consumption. Then there are the friends and family who will receive large gifts of cookies or eat them with us Christmas Eve.

Still, that's a damn lot of cookies.

Maybe next year I'll manage to be more conservative in my estimates and choices. But somehow I don't think so.

Mel

Just call me Mel, everyone else does.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Buying things you don't need

It's been a while since I bought myself a gun (well, except for the buggered up $40 Mosin I bought but I don't count that), or really anything else "big". I've bought Mel a gun for her birthday, and another as an early christmas gift; and I bought the family a new Digital SLR a couple months ago; but nothing big really just for myself.

It's not that there weren't guns I wanted to buy, or even had the money for, so why not? Well, because there are things I want, or need, to do with that money, more than I want or need those guns. Bills, tuition, legal expenses...

Actually this whole year I've really only bought myself two guns, the DFMAS, and my Springfield1903 sporter. That's really not very much for me. Hell I've only even been to two gun shows this year.

We've put off purchasing a new TV, or a new AV system for a while; because we needed new furniture rather badly. Then in the middle of this year we had to buy a new car unplanned, which was a big hit; and we went to Reno for the gunblogger rendezvous, which was a non-trivial cost. Overall, my personal discretionary spending this year has been almost entirely limited to small items, under about $200.

I havent bought myself a new watch, guitar, any video games, any computer gear (though that's coming in the next couple months), and only one new knife this year.

So, in fact, this entire year I've really only made two large discretionary purchase that werent entirely for the family. The first was the camera; in that we didn't NEED it, but I've been wanting a DSLR to replace the SLR gear I sold off a few years ago for quite some time; and the digital camera we had wasn't cutting it, so I dropped $1400 on a Nikon D80 with lens and accessories. The second was the home gym setup, which IS for both me and Mel, but really she only uses the excercise bike.

For me, that's a record. I think my personal discretionary spending this year is the lowest it's been since I moved back from Ireland. Sure we've spent a lot, but it's been on house and family etc... Lord knows we spent a TON on furniture this year and the like.

Anyway, Mel has a problem buying things she wants. She feels guilty, or anxious, or worried she's wasting money. I on the other hand have no problem with it. Money is there so you can exchange it for the goods and services you want and need; there's no point in it otherwise. Money isn't an end to itself, it is used to provide for the necessities, enable the pursuit of activities you enjoy, and to alleviate worry.

Lots of people have a problem prioritizing, or dealing with a sense of proportion, or managing their pruches; or really balancing their want s and their needs.

When you're trying to decide whether you should buy something you don't actually directly need, there are a lot of things to consider, quality, features, options etc... ; but the most important one is whether to actually go ahead and buy it or not.

Now, with guns, guitars, watches, knives, cars... anything collectible and/or with a highly variable value; a lot of folks get hung up on "is it a good deal", or "is it worth it".

Well, those questions are completely invalid. If you absolutely need something, it's worth whatever you have to pay to get it. Otherwise, something is worth exactly what you're willing to pay for it.

So how much are you willing to pay?

First things first; there is no such thing as inherent value in a discretionary good. If it isn’t food, water, shelter, fuel, or sex; it’s a discretionary good.

So don’t be concerned with how good a deal it is, unless you know you can easily get a better one.

There are four questions you need to ask yourself here:

1. Do I want or need my $X more than I want this good (service, item, or experience)

2. Is there anything I could do with that $X, that I want or need more than this item or experience, and that I would not be able to do or buy otherwise.

3. Is what I want to do with the $X a unique good that cannot be purchased or experienced at another time; or is what I would otherwise spend $X on a unique good that I could not purchase at another time.

4. Would this good, or the good I would purchase alternatively to it, be significantly more, or less expensive if I purchased them at another time or from another source.

That is the only evaluation of a discretionary purchase that matters. Something is worth what you are willing to pay for it at the time; and by extension what you are willing to give up for it; no more, no less.

If you have the money for something you want; you dont need that money to do something else, you aren't giving up too much opportunity to purchase it, and you want it more than you want your money... what the hell are you waiting for?

The Supidest Thing I've Ever Done as a Pilot

So I'm over reading Mr. Completelys blog, and he relates a story of a guy making a dumb mistake and nearly ditching his CH-46 into the ocean.

Ouch.

Dumbest thing I ever did while flying an airplane (I've done dumber things while riding in them), was in a 172.

Now, as just about every pilot knows, a 172 has rather generous fore and aft CG limits, and a rather large gross weight margin. Those cessna boys were mighty conservative; and that fact alone has saved more pilots lives than I could ever count.

Now, I was never really one to bust limits, I'm pretty paranoid about safety; and I didn't intend to that day, but I did it without thinking about it, which is about as bad.

So anyway, there's four of us, two guys, two girls. I estimate the ladies are both about 120lbs, the other guy is 160, and I'm 260; and a 172 has a useful load of between 700 and 860lbs depending on the exact model, and equipment. This particular 172 was good for 760lbs.

Again, as every pilot knows, a 4 seat airplane really means two seats and a luggage rack; but if your pax are small folks, you can get away with four, so long as therie's no luggage and you don't need full fuel.

We're headed out to a grass strip on Marthas Vineyard; about a 45 minute flight; so we don't need much gas, about 7 gallons plus reserve, let's call it 14 gallons just for safety. I check the tanks and we've got about 18 gallons in there, so there's another 108lbs (100ll avgas is 6lbs per gallon).

That puts us right at gross; but it's a cool breezy day, I've got a long runway, and I'm not worried about it. It also puts us right at the rear CG limit, but again, I'm not worried.

So, we start up, and it feels a little heavy on takeoff, and we're about to go make a soft field landing; but hey, we're gonna burn off half that fuel anyway so I'm not worried.

The airplane seemed to need a lot of trim too, but I'm not used to flying full load and two pax in the back, so hey, I'm not worried.

So we get out over the water; and the weather is closing in a little behind us. The wind is picking up, and we've got one hell of a crosswind/headwind vector, at about 300 degrees to our direction of travel.

That's OK, we've got plenty of fuel... I'm not really worried.

At this point, we should have turned around. We're over water, with a strong headwind, and an airplane that isn't handling too great.

But I wasn't worried.

So, our 45 minute flight has just turned into an hour and 15 minute flight; and we've burned through about 2/3 of our fuel, because I've had to throttle up to compensate for the winds. Again, not too big a deal, we've still got enough to make it to several other airports, and back to land if necessary.

Then the winds get worse; and we've got a bit of a problem; now I'm starting to get a little worried.

The way the wind is blowing now, it's going to take us everything we've got 'cept a 15 minute reserve to either get to the Vineyard; or get back to a convenient mainland airport. We're actually a bit closer to the Vineyard than to land, so we decide to press on.

As the fuel burns off, it's increasingly clear we're aft of CG, because the plane is a bit mushy and because of the trim required.

At this point the wind is now near dead abeam, and I'm quartering into it by 20 degrees just to maintain our direction of travel.

So I call in and get the airport information, and we've got a BIG problem.

Cross winds, steady at 20kts, gusting up to 40kts.

The Cessna 172 has a maximum demonstrated crosswind component on landing of I believe 24kts (it's been a few years), and that number is not for a near gross weight aircraft, with an aft of limits CG, landing on a soft field. Flat out, it isn't safe to land this plane on a soft field with more than about 16-18kts of crosswind.

Unfortunately, at this point we don't have a lot of options. We can't fight back through the wind to get to the mainland. We could bingo to vineyard haven (the paved airport across the island), but if you try and fly a private light plane into vineyard haven without a flight plan filed for them, and a landing reservation, they get REALLY nasty; they'd probably make us declare an emergency before they'd let us land...

The good thing about this field though, is that it's wide and long. You can angle a lot into the wind and still have runout room. So, ok, I decide I'm going to make the approach, judge the crosswind on the field while I'm on final, and if I have to I'll go around and head for vineyard haven.

So I'm coming in on short final; I'm slipping it across the wind with a crab angle like you wouldnt believe; if I landed like that on a concrete strip I'd be off the runway in two seconds, presuming I didn't rip my gear off. You can believe my hand is ready to slam that throttle to the firewall for the go around in a heartbeat.

Just as I'm about to call it a missed approach, the wind dies to near nothing, and I drop it down as hard as I can without bouncing or digging in; then scrub the speed as hard as I can and hightail it for the tiedowns.

We got the airplane tied down; and ended up having a little microburst a few minutes later; though nothing of the sort was on the forecast or the radar when we left. It's New England, on the ocean; you can't predict the weather there any more than you can predict when a woman is going to change her mind.

So anyway the girls get out, and they both reach into the "luggage compartment" (kind of a joke on the 172, since it's just an empty space behind the seats, not some fancy compartment) and grab out these HUGE bags... or at least they look huge to a pilot who was edging gross weight anyway. I hadn't seen them load the bags in and hadn't accounted for them.

At this point I was a bit pissed; those bags had to weigh like 30 or 40 lbs each, what the hell. Not only that, but they're WAY behind the datum (the point from where the center of gravity is calculated)

Anyway, I borrow a scale, and I make everybody get on it. both of our little miss 120lbers are more like 140 each, Mr. 160 is actually 184, and I'm actually 272 that day. Plus the two 40lb bags; and that's 816lbs.

Plus the 108lbs of fuel... 924 lbs.

In an airplane with a 760lb useful load.

I recalculated what my weight and balance was on takeoff... turns out I was about 4" aft of limit; and I damn near shit my pants.

160lbs over gross with a C.G. 4" aft of the limit... I've known people who ended up smeared on the side of a hill for less than that.

Thank god for Witchita conservatism.

Contiuing the REAL greatests of Hard Rock - Frontmen

Ok, so I've done guitarists, lets move on round the band to the frontmen. Now please note I'm not talking about vocalists necessarily, frontment and vocalists are two different subjects.

The reason I say they are two different subjects, is because sometimes a guy can be a horrible vocalist, but a kickass frontman (or vice versa), and in at least one case of one of the greatest frontmen of all time, he wasn't the lead singer.

The frontman, is all about the show. He's the personality. The guy people associate the band with in their heads. Some bands don't have a prominent frontman, some have nothing but; and when the frontman goes, so does the band (sometimes he takes the band with him, like Lemmy, or Alice Cooper).

A frontman may not be a great artist, or a great musician; but he's always a great showman, and usually a great star. It's not absoltely necessary to have a great frontman to be a great band, but it sure helps.

So, for this one I'm going back to hard rock only; because otherwise this field again gets way too huge... also, this time I'm going to exclude punk, because half the list would be taken up by punkers on the list simply because they were so outrageous.

So, greatest hard rock front men of all time

1. Freddie Mercury
2. Ozzy Osbourne
3. Gene Simmons
4. Lemmy
5. Robert Plant
6. Rob Halford
7. Bruce Dickinson
8. David Lee Roth
9. Alice Cooper
10. Steven Tyler

Why these choices?

Well I don't think there's any greater frontman for any type of band in all history than Freddie Mercury (I also happen to thinkl he's the greatest rock vocalist ever). The man had style, grace, showmanship, energy, crowd rapport, talnt that is only seen once in a million years... I don't think anyone else comes close.

Uhh, it's Ozzy Osborune for chrissakes. It's not like any explanation is necessary.

Gene Simmons. Well, he's Gene Simmons; like Ozzy, any explanation would be superfluous.

Lemmy? Dude, if I didn't include Lemmy there, he would, and rightly so, find me and kick my ass. Why? Because Lemmy kicks more ass than anyone except Chuck Norris. Seriously though, Lemmy has been doing this since 1965, and he still does 100+ shows a year, at full volume, and living his life exactly the way he wants to. There isn't anybody cooler, or with more cred than Lemmy.

Robert Plant simply set the mold for what a hard rock singer should be. He is the prototypical hard rock singer from 1969 onward.

Rob Halford invented heavy metal vocals... in fact basically invented Power Metal as a genre. He took gay S&M and turned it into the look of metal, which EVERY SINGLE METAL BAND ON THE EARTH then copied; which I find hilarious. He's without question the greatest metal vocalist of all time. He is, was, and will be Judas Priest (fuck Ripper Owens, and fuck Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing for thingkint they're Priest without Halford).

Iron Maiden with Paul Dianno was getting ready to be another Diamondhead/Blackfoot/Saxon etc... and then they snagged Bruce Dickinson from Samson, and history was made. The epic, sweeping, four octave vocal metal that Dickinson made with Iron Maiden (though it was almost entirely written by Steve Harris) defined the other half of the genre. Judas preist had the rough and ready; Iron Maiden had the horror and the fantasy, and that WAS Bruce Dickinson.

David Lee Roth reinvented the rock frontman for the 80s, nothing else need be said.

Alice Cooper, was the anti-plant so to speak. He was the original heavy metal lightning rod front man. He set the mold for the ugly, dark, evil etc... bands to follow. Without Alice Cooper, we wouldnt have the Marilyn Mansons of this world. Of course the funny thing is, he's actually a remarkably intelligent, funny, pleasant guy (I've met him a couple times. He lives not too far from me, and he's very publicly active here in Arizona).

Steven Tyler, is to Plant, what Rob Halford is to Dickinson. He's the raw, gritty side of hard rock whereas Robert Plant was the melodic, and mythical side. If you look at traditional American and British hard rock, the two bands that together cover the broadest portion of it are Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin, and their front men are the archetypal frontmen.

Again, just as with guitarists, there are way too amny guys who need to be mentioned here at some point. Axl Rose, Phil Anselmo, Bon Scott, the Nuge, Marc Bolan (stretching it I know), Anthony Keidis... hell the entire universe of Punks that I left out (Johnny Rotten and Iggy Pop would definitely be in the top ten otherwise, and Billy Idol not far behind) Ronnie James Dio, Dee Snider, Ian Gillian, Hetfield and Mustaine, Layne Staley, John Bon Jovi (give the man credit for being a great frontman)...

Okay, I could jsut keep going til this list was like 200 guys long (though this one would have some women on it, like Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Nancy Wilson, Wendy O. Willams... OK I'mna stop) but it's 3am and I'm tired.

Next up, just vocalists; not specifically frontment.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Eragon - Don't go see this movie

No, seriously, don't. If you loved the book, you'll be seriously pissed off; if you haven't read the book, you'll be confused, bored, and irritated; if you read it and didn't like it, you'll be pissed off you wasted your time.

How in the hell did they screw this one up? The book is a total slam dunk of a movie...

Ok, for those who don't know, Eragon is a book written by, at the time 15 year old, Christopher Paolini, as a lark/ homeschooling assignment. Christopher is a huge SF/F (Science Fiction and Fantasy) fan, and taking what he'd read, and his own creative efforts, smashed it all together and wrote a book.

The book itself is a reasonably well written, quite simple retelling of the "hero with a thousand faces" story. The homages, references, language, geography etc... read like a combination of Tolkien, Brooks, Goodkind, Eddings, Jordan, and McCaffery; wrapped all together and written from the perspective of a 15 year old kid... which actually isn't all that bad if it's done well, which Eragon was.

This is literally the archetypal fantasy story where a boy is born to great (or terrible) origins, which are hidden from him, or disguised. He generally loses his parents and is sent off to live with others, to protect him, but sometimes his parents simply hide things from him. Eventually he accidentally finds a portion of his special powers or secret history, and as a result he is put into danger and must leave everyone he knows. Sometimes those people are killed, or put at great risk. On his quest he is guided by an old man, as his mentor, who usually has something to do with his secret past, and is frequently secretly related to him. This mentor teaches him more of his powers and duties. The boy initially rejects his responsibilities, then is forced to embrace them to protect that which he loves; at which point the mentor is killed. By this time, the boy has usually developed a love interest, an overriding quest, or both. The death of his mentor catalyzes him to complete his quest. He is sent across the wilderness to face hardship without his mentor, calling on the mentors valuable lessons, and grows into a man in the process; then, strong and powerful, the boy returns to complete his quest the end.

Every single human culture, across all time, has this story in some for or another; with minor variations. Jesus Christ himself is an archetypal hero in this mold.

It's also the most common single fantasy or science fiction story, one of the most common historical fiction stories, and there are literally thousands of books and movies with the same basic plot line and characters.

Anyway, as I was saying, Eragon is a basic hero with a thousand faces type story; 'cept with dragons. Dragons are always a big fantasy plus.

How can you screw this up? Hollywood has done this story a million times, they know how to do it?

Well, you give it to a hack screenwriter who doesn't read the book; and you have it directed by a CGI supervisor who's never directed a movie; then you edit it like a music video, or maybe a Saturday morning cartoon.

There was no plot, no story, no character development, no motivation... At any time, if you'd asked a character "Why are we doing this", his only response could have been "because the script said so".

They cut out or drastically cut down perhaps half the book, including several characters absolutely critical to the plot and the story... which is OK, because they weren't planning on having any plot or story anyway...

The dropped characters in with no warning, and no reasoning and pretty much said "Ok, here's your new love interest. Here's your new best friend. You don't know why you're doing this but I'm the directer and we need this for the next shot".

The movie had no internal logic or consistency, but I'm guessing they thought you wouldn't notice because they cut every shot and every scene down to a few seconds at most, interspersed with pretty scenery (I think about 30 of the movies 100 minutes are spent riding horses around Slovakias carpathian mountains), and shots of the dragon.

The CGI in this movie is excellent; which considering the movie was directed by the Visual Effects Supervisor for Industrial Light and Magic is no surprise, but it looks like they spent all of their time, and all of their budget on the dragon, rather than.. ohhh I don't know,telling a story maybe?

What was good about the movie? Jeremy Irons was good, with what little they gave him, the dragon was gorgeous, Sienna Guilorry would have been good if she had any lines (mostly she just sat there and looked pouty), what cinematography wasn't left on the cutting room floor was pretty good, and in general the visual effects were good.

Seriously, that's it. Everything else was a big steaming pile of dragon crap.

I actually thought this movies was worse than Dungeons and Dragons, my previous low water mark for a major theatrically released fantasy movie.

The worst part is though? With a little more time and effort, a better director, and about 45 minutes more (making the move 2 hours 30, which is just fine for epic fantasy), this could have been a GREAT movie. The bones were there in the movie, and the meat was in the book. They could have very easily not cut it for the attention span of a crack addled ferret, and added in those missing story elements which would have developed and motivated the characters. 45 minutes would have been all it took to actually tell the story and develop the plot. I can't understand why they had to cut it down to 104 minutes. Honestly, it looks to me in a lot of places, that they actually DID film some of those missing elements, but then cut them out later for some reason.

So close, but no, they spent all their time and money on the visual effects, and their attractive leads, and absolutely none on just telling a good story.

Go and pick up the book, it's a good light read, and it's really worth reading. The second volume in the trilogy (the third is coming out in 2007 or 2008), Eldest, is a lot better; considering the kid was 4 years older when he wrote it, and actually, you know, expected it to be a real book and all..

If by some chance you do go see the movie after reading the book; be sure not to take any guns with you, because you're going to want to shoot the screen, then find the writer and director, and shoot them both too...

...No, wait, shooting's too good for them... You want to make them watch the movie over and over and over again like Alex in "A Clockwork Orange" until the mere thought of the movie causes them physical pain... then lock them permanently in a room where it plays on an endless loop, until they slowly starve to death, like Fortunato in the Eragon Oubliette...

Or maybe that's just me... I really need to get out more.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Currently being massively spammed

By a botnet, leaving simple hexidecimal character strings in comments, and spamcounter emails.

Of course my comments arent google indexed so it won't help them; I wonder what the hell they are doing, and if anyone else on haloscan or blogger are getting hit.

OK, how about just the top ten rock guitarists

Ok, since some of you don't seem to understand that the post I made last night on greatest guitarists was limited very specifically to the VH1 list, let's just chuck that out the window and list the ten greatest guitarists in the history of Rock.

No, not just hard rock, all rock. Top ten, best rock guitarists of all time; across all genres of rock.

Rock, not blues, not jazz. This leaves out, B.B. King, Robert Cray, Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, Stanley Jordan, Pet Metheny, Wes Montgomery, Django Reinhardt etc... but includes mostly blues or mostly jazz artists who also play rock like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Eric Johnson, Leo Kottke, Ry Cooder, Al DiMeola etc...

Also, this is only for their guitar work; nothing about how good their bands were etc... pure guitar; but it ISN'T just about how technically good they are. This is just all around greatness, including technical, soul, funk, rhytym, balls.. everything that makes a guitar player great.

This one really sucks, because there are so damn many absoltuely incredible all time great guitarists in different genres, and it can be difficult to compare.

Ok, here's my list

1. Jimi Hendrix
2. Stevie Ray Vaughan
3. Eric Clapton
4. Jimmy Page
5. Joe Satriani
6. Eddie Van Halen
7. Ritchie Blackmore
8. Eric Johnson
9. Steve Vai
10. Yngwie Malmsteen


Ok, now, before y'all start ripping my head off (and lord knows this comment thread should get interesing), remember I have to limit it to 10, and theres about 200 other insanely great guitarists I could name in a heartbeat. If I expanded it to 20, or 30, or 40 I wouldn't run out of people you'd recognize as great rock guitarists.

I think by the time I got down to around number 100... somewhere around Link Wray or so I'd guess, I'd cover all the folks I love to listen to and would kill to play like. Maybe not.

Ok, so who do I absolutely have to mention in this post or be eviscerated?

Tony Iommi
Jeff Beck
Duane Allman
John Petrucci
Randy Rhoads
Steve Morse
Gary Moore
Ry Cooder
Leo Kottke
Billy Gibbons

AAArgh... I actually put in about 30 names above before I realized what I was doing and had to stop and limit it to 10 more.

If I could just categorize this like top ten metal, top ten blues rock etc... I could actually get like.. half of the guys I want to list on there.

One funny thing though; they are all guys that I want to list on there. I think guitar is the only instrument where I can name 200 (or more) top guys straight before I get to a woman. I think it's because guitar virtuosity requires such a concentration on the instrument to the exclusion of all else, combined with the types of music that top quality guitar is played in; that there are very few women willing to do that. Some of the greatest violinists, floutists, vocalists (of course), cellists etc... are women, but really not guitar (or bass or drums really either, but its closer)

I actually have one small problem with my intial top ten list. See, I have a thing with the difference between technical brilliance, and soul... Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen are probably the two most technically brilliant rock guitarists of all time. There is literally noone better technically then Yngwie, at least to my knowledge; and I've heard a hell of a lot of guitar.

But they both lack something...

There are a lot of other guitarists I like more, who are not nearly so technically good, because they have fire, soul, ... something... that Vai and Malmsteen lack. But they are literally so good technically that I could not leave them out of the top ten.

As it is, it pains me to leave off Tony MacAlpine, Al DiMeola, Steve Lukather, Phil Keaggy, Fripp and Belew,and about 40 other guys who are just absolutely amazing; but their work doesn't move me as much as the others.

Ok, now REALLLY go at it boys and girls. This one should be fun to watch.

For That Special Week (or so...)

Yes, I know this is about 12 hours early, but hey, I'm a gentile we don't do that sunset to sunset thing.

Hanukkah Song
--Adam Sandler

Put on your yalmulka, here comes hanukkah
Its so much fun-akkah to celebrate hanukkah,

Hanukkah is the festival of lights,
Instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights.

When you feel like the only kid in town without a x-mas tree, heres a list of
People who are jewish, just like you and me:

David Lee Roth lights the menorrah,
So do James Caan, Kirk Douglas, and the late Dinah Shore-ah

Guess who eats together at the Carnegie deli,
Bowzer from sha-na-na, and Arthur Fonzerrelli.

Paul Newmans half jewish; Goldie Hawns half too,
Put them together--what a fine lookin jew!

You don't need deck the halls or jingle bell rock
Cause you can spin the dreidl with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock--both jewish!

Put on your yalmulka, its time for hanukkah,
The owner of the seattle super sonic-ahs celebrates hanukkah.

O.j. simpson-- not a jew!
But guess who is...hall of famer Rod Carew--(he converted!)

We got Ann Landers and her sister dear Abby,
Harrison fords a quarter jewish--not too shabby!

Some people think that Ebeneezer Scrooge is,
Well, hes not, but guess who is:all three stooges.

So many jews are in show biz--
Tom cruise isnt, but I heard his agent is.

Tell your friend Veronica, its time you celebrate hanukkah
I hope I get a harmonica, on this lovely, lovely hanukkah.

So drink your gin-and-tonic-ah, and smoke your mara-juanic-ah,
If you really, really wanna-kah, have a happy, happy, happy, happy
Hanukkah. happy hanukka!

The inappropriateness of this overwhelms me

From the Cigar Intelligence Agency:

I was busy typing away a report on antisocial personality disorder as my final paper for Psychology class when my almost 7-year-old hands me a blue slip from school…

December 19th, 2006

1st grade

The district HIV/AIDS curriculum will be presented by the school nurse. Parents are welcome to attend. Please contact the Health Office if you choose to have your child not participate.

Someone please tell me that this is a joke.

That’s right folks, it says 1st grade! Now mind you, I don’t live in one of the best neighborhoods in Phoenix, but somehow I highly doubt that our 6 and 7-year-olds are sharing needles or having unprotected, gay sex. That’s right, I said gay sex. Advocates for the gay community may say that they’re not more likely to be transmitting HIV/AIDS, but cold, hard statistics say different. Sorry, folks, no PCness from this gal.

Don’t think that I don’t want my child to learn these things, but at 6?!? What exactly are they going to be indoctrinating our children’s innocent minds presenting them with? What’s going to happen when they get to the topic of transmission? Who in the H-ll thought it would be a good idea to discuss intravenous drug use, unprotected and anal sex with any 6-year-old? I half expected to see the slip say, “Featuring guest speaker Suzi Landolphi”. Why don’t they just take them on a field trip to the local sex shop as icing on the cake?

This is what happens when we allow fruitcake libtards to dabble in our educational system. I can only imagine the conversation that would take place after my little girl learns about needle-pushing, sodomy and casual sex. Needless to say, I will be calling the Health Office to opt her out of this completely irrational and ill-timed bullshit, liberal circus act “presentation”.

Yeah, that about sums it up for me too. Some please tell me how introducing an HIV presnetation at this age is in any way useful or appropriate?

Of course it won't really be about AIDS, how dangerous it is, how to avoid it now will it? Of course not. It will be about how AIDS can hit anyone, and that it's not about gays; except in America, about 55% of the time it is (actually it's probably more than 55%, because black men are about 60% of all new infections, and are reluctant to admit to homosexual behavior. About 30% if the time it's IV drug related, only about 15% of the time is it from straight sex), and being gay is OK, and it's not right to judge people.

Well yes, being gay IS OK, but as for the rest of it it's crap. As for the truth of it, and the morality of it, that's for Mel and I to teach, not the damn school nurse, and certainly not to six year olds. Is there any rational reason why a six year old should be taught anything at all about sexually transmitted diseases, excpet by parents who believe it's appropriate?

The only explanation for this, is that they want to start indoctrination early; so they'll resist less.

We’re in Scottsdale, and it’s crap like this that have us ignoring our “good” school district, and sending our kids to catholic school. It’s one of the best K-8 schools in the state, and a very reasonable price for parishoners, with no "alternative lifestyle" teaching.

The education of children in morals and principles is the job of the parents. Parents decide what is appropriate for their children, and what values their children are inculcated with. Educators should educate, not indoctrinate.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The greatest GUITARISTS of hard rock?

Ok guys, expanding on the post from the other day, let's break it down a bit and talk about the best guitarists.

So here's the rules:

Top ten guitarists from the list, only including the bands that you actually think SHOULD be on there, and very importantly, only considering that guitarists work with THAT band (or those bands, because a couple guitarists have been in more than one of those bands). Now, if you think some of the bands I marked as "shouldnt be on the list" SHOULD be, then feel free to choose their guitarists.

For example, I think Robert Fripp is one of the greatest guitarists of all time; but as I said, King Crimson are a prog rock band (really THE original prog rock band) not a hard rock band. Billie Gibbons is one of the greatest blues rock guitarists ever etc; and of course the Yardbirds had Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, AND Eric Clapton, but they were a bluesrock band (and with those guitarists, of course they were - 2 of the top five guitarists of all time there, 3 if you expand it to the top 20).

Yes, a hell of a lot of guitarists are going to be missing here; this is ONLY based on the VH1 list, otherwise this could take YEARS. I can easily think of fifty or more missing hard rock and metal guitarists, because their bands arent on the VH1 list (John Petrucci anyone? Yngwie Malmsteen?). Also remember, this is both hard rock, and heavy metal. If it were jsut one or the other, the list would be very different.

Even just limiting it to the VH1 list; cutting down to ten is painful. When I first went through the list, I pulled up 40 great guitarists from it.

Anyway, here's the short list:
1. Jimi Hendrix (the Jimi Hendrix Experience)
2. Eric Clapton (Cream)
3. Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
4. Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen)
5. Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple, Rainbow)
6. Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)
7. Brian May (Queen)
8. Randy Rhoads (Ozzy)
9. Zakk Wylde (Ozzy)
10. Slash (Guns N' Roses)
Yeah, there are some more great guitarists on the list, but I had to cut it off somewhere. Here are the rest of the folks I would put "on the list" if I didnt have to cut it off, presented in no particular order:
Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing (Judas Priest)
Dave Murray and Adrian Smith (Iron Maiden)
Uli Roth and Michael Schenker (The Scorpions)
Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman (Slayer)
Scott Ian and Dan Spitz (Anthrax)
Al Petrelli (Megadeth, Blue Oyster Cult, Alice Cooper)
Marty Friedman (Megadeth)

Gary Moore (Thin Lizzy)
Steve Morse (Deep Purple)
Ted Nugent (Ted Nugent)
Phil Campbell (Motorhead)
Viv Campbell (Def Leppard, Whitesnake)
Darrell Abbott (Pantera)
Vernon Reid (Living Colour)
Kirk Hammett (Metallica)
Ace Frehly (Kiss)
Kim Thayil (Soundgarden)
Dave Navarro (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Janes Addiction)
John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains)
Joe Perry (Aerosmith)
Angus Young (AC/DC)
Jim Martin (Faith No More)
Jakey Lee (Ozzy, Ratt)
Warren DeMartini (Ratt - no, seriously he is good. Seriously, I mean it)
All of those guys are spectacular guitarists, but they aren't individually among the top ten guitarists on the list, as taken only from their work with the bands on the list. Some of them had spectacular solo work outside of those bands, some of them were great, but not individually outstanding, some of them were great when taken together with their co-guitarist etc...

For example, in the case of King and Hanneman, Murray and Smith, Tipton and K.K. Downing, Uli Roth and Michael Schenker etc...; I left them out because they are great as members of the band, but their guitar work doesn't standout as individually great work. Or rather, their work as members of those bands doesnt stand out (Uli Roth has done some spectacular work outside of the Scorpions for example).

Oh and yes, if you take the whole of their career, some of the guitarists outside of the top ten are better than those IN the top ten (like Steve Morse or Gary Moore who are both in the top 20 guitarists of all time); but as I said, we're only considering the work with the bands in question.

I also left off two more of the greatest guitarists of any kind in all of history, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani; who respectively toured with Deep Purple, and Whitesnake for one album each late in both bands careers, because I don't consider them to have ever been integral members of either band; unlike say Steve Morse, who Replaced Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple.

Oh, and I plan on doing this with the singers as well; and if their is interest drummers and bassists.

At some point, I'll do the same thing for ALL metal and hard rock guitarists, vocalists etc... not jsut on the lsit, but that's a HUGE number of artists to work through and I'm feeling pretty lazy right now.

Ok folks, your turn.