Monday, March 30, 2015

Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Pong, and Donkey Kong... all in one game


Using the paddles from Pong to shuttle Pac-Man back and forth through his maze while dodging the aliens of Space Invaders.  All while Donkey Kong showers the screen with barrels.  This wonderfully schizoid mash-up of four of the most classic video games of all time is called Pacapong and it comes courtesy of a clever lad named Dick Poelen as his contribution to the Ludum Dare 58 video game jam.

I look at this screen and visions of my childhood erupt across my inner retina.  This is the kind of thing that we used to dream up as kids: crossovers between video games.  I think one idea was to have Pac-Man gobbling dots as he moved up Donkey Kong's girders.  Kinda weird to see something like that actually come to pass.

Kotaku has more about Pacapong, including where you can play it (bear in mind that it's a two-player game just like Pong).

Watch George Lucas photobomb documentary about nuclear waste!

Look!  A wild George Lucas sighting!

"Nuclear Waste: Fission Products & Transuranics from Thorium & Uranium" is sincerely fascinating in its own right.  A short documentary about the valuable materials often left in used-up fuel rods from nuclear reactors and how they might be extracted.  Very interesting if you're at all into nuclear engineering and chemistry in general.

But let's face it: most people are going to want to see the creator of Star Wars stumbling into view on a Chicago street as research scientist Bruce Hoglund explains pyroprocessing (using molten salt and electrochemistry to pull out the desired substances).

You can choose to watch it all, OR you can fast-forward (I recommend moving it to 13:00 to get the full effect):

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act: An affirmation of liberty, and other thoughts

Some musings on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act now on the books in Indiana and that so many are in a tizzy about...

The act does not discriminate.

The act is not "anti-gay, anti-lesbian, anti-bisexual, anti-transexual" or anti-anything at all. Nowhere in the text of the legislation is there found a clause stipulating that any one or any group in particular is to be given any less protection under the law.

The act simply reasserts something that Amendment One of the Bill of Rights has codified for well over two hundred years: that there is a right to assembly and association. This also means that there is just as much a right to NON-association.

The act simply does as its title indicates: it allows for individuals and businesses to not provide a service if doing so violates the religious beliefs of that individual or business.

There are many people who do not believe that such a valid concept exists as "gay marriage" or any other kind of marital relationship apart from one man and one woman. These people have a right to those beliefs even if they are not agreed to.

The act asserts the rights of such people to act in accordance to their religious beliefs.

The act applies across the board to every citizen of the state of Indiana. Thus, a Moslem photographer cannot be compelled to be hired for a Jewish bar mitzvah. A Jewish carpenter cannot be forced under penalty to build a creche for a church’s Nativity scene. A Christian-owned bakery will not be obligated to bake a cake meant for a homosexual marriage celebration. And a homosexual-owned catering service cannot be made against their will to provide food for the "God Hates Fags" nuts at Westboro Baptist Church.

Those who are against the act have every right in the world to look for another business with which to solicit service as a customer.

Why are two homosexuals who want a wedding cake going to a bakery that they know is against homosexual marriage, anyway? Are there no more bakeries around, or could it be that they desire to forcefully compel that bakery to provide against its owners beliefs?

If the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is going to legalize discrimination and if those against the act are concerned about it on such a vast scale, then logically they have accused most of the people of the state of Indiana of being pro-discrimination and that said discrimination is deeply entrenched in that state's society. I have to wonder what most citizens of Indiana would think of that.

Those who are in favor of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act are not consumed by hate toward anyone.
And if they were, I would not want to associate with those people. Christians are not to hate anyone. But that does not mean that Christians must give approval of behavior that according to their convictions is sinful.

The ones who are most preaching "tolerance" seem to be rabidly intolerant of those who hold to the beliefs of marriage being solely between man and woman.

The ones who are most preaching "tolerance" seem to be rabidly intolerant of, for the most part, Christians.

Businesses have the right to serve or turn away who they wish. If a business does not want me as a customer, it can do so. Just as I can choose not to solicit service from that business or any other. If a business so chooses to discriminate, I have the right to go to or not go to that business. If a business decides it will no longer serve celibate white males with bipolar disorder, then I will not try to force the issue and neither would I want to. Neither would I try to be a customer of a business that discriminates against women or other ethnic groups. I will gladly take my money elsewhere.

Those against the act are naturally welcome to boycott Indiana. However such boycotts in general are counter-productive.

I would even dare say that boycotting the entire state of Indiana is akin to cutting off one’s face in spite of his or her nose.

The people who disagree with those against the Religious Freedom Restoration Act are not "bigots". They do not hate anyone. They are not followers of an outdated religion. They are not pro-discrimination. I have been called all of these things and more in the past few days, by people who do not know what they are talking about.

If a church is truly discriminating against homosexuals, I would not want to be a part of that church. Jesus loved the prostitutes, the tax collectors, and every other sinner as much as He loved His disciples. So must I. But neither did Jesus affirm or approve of their sins. Neither can I. He told them to "go and sin no more." So they must. So must I, for that matter. No church should turn away any sinner. But no church must be compelled to give approval to any sin, either.

There are already laws such as Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act in place in 19 other states. That is almost 40 percent of the country. These states seem strangely bereft of any boycotting on the part of those who are anti-Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

It has been a very long time since I have seen any alleged discussion as has been about Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act with so much incivility and raw hatred. And the vast majority of it seems to be coming from those against the act.

I like to think that we can be better than that.

You are free to agree or disagree with me as you wish. Regardless, Jesus loves you and so do I.

Video for Lindsey Stirling's "Take Flight"

It was this past July when I wrote about discovering Lindsey Stirling and her enchanting mastery of the violin. That and how she choreographs herself while performing. So taken in by her music have I been, that by a vast margin it's been her album Shatter Me that I've listened to the most while writing my book.  And her music videos have been no less arresting, even hypnotic.  In every way Stirling has astounded the senses in ways that very few examples of music nowadays have achieved.

A few days ago Stirling released the video for "Take Flight", also from Shatter Me.  I can't remember any video lately that has got me scratching my head wondering "how did they do that??"

Here it is.  Prepare yourself for a beautiful ride on a melodic journey through geometry as wild as it is beautiful...


Friday, March 27, 2015

New sponsor: HyperMind, for all your gaming needs!

The Knight Shift is proud to welcome a new advertiser, and if you've been a longtime reader you'll already know something about HyperMind.

A positivalutely abundawonderful game store in Burlington, North Carolina, owners Nick and Denise Shepherd have established a place that draws loyal customers from as far away as Virginia, Raleigh/Durham and Winston-Salem.  And by "games" we're talking about the old-fashioned stuff that doesn't require batteries or a specialized console... but does require you to play with others and have fun.

Whether you're looking for time-honored pastimes like Monopoly and Risk, or new classics such as The Settlers of Catan, HyperMind has something for everyone.  They also stock a healthy amount of miniatures-based games (including my current drug of choice, X-Wing Miniatures).  One of the biggest sellers is perennial favorite Magic: The Gathering.  And HyperMind goes all-out to provide for its devoted players, with an ample stockpile of cards (just about every kind of current booster pack you can think of) and a huge room serving as a place of casual play and weekly tournaments.  Role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons are also a favorite.  If they don't have it on shelves, the folks at HyperMind will gladly order it for you.

Serving the Triad area since 2006, HyperMind is an experience that you will want to return to again and again.  Stop by today, and discover the fun!

Deadpool entices you to come hither...

From Ryan Reynolds' Twitter feed...


That may be the best translation of a costume from comic book-to-big screen that I've ever seen.  Looks spot-on perfect.

How are they going to handle Deadpool's legendary mouth?  Lots of fans demanding a hard R rating, noting that PG-13 won't cut it.  One idea I heard a few weeks ago was that for almost the entire movie there could be a white word balloon with "&$*#" whenever Deadpool uses profanity.  That Deadpool would be aware of it just like in the comics.  And that they save the big "F-bomb" for a critical spot in the story.  I could accept that.

Deadpool arrives in theaters next February.

Dean Smith left $200 in his will for each of his players

Now this fits the definition of "classy" to a tee...

Last month legendary basketball coach Dean Smith passed away.  He coached the Tar Heels of UNC-Chapel Hill from 1961 to 1997 and when he retired he was the coach with the most wins of any in collegiate basketball history.  He had two national titles to show for it.  Along the way he coached about 184 players.

And every one of them is getting $200 to enjoy a nice dinner out.

From the story at Fox 8:
 Each player who lettered under late North Carolina head men’s basketball coach Dean Smith is receiving a surprise gift from the coach himself: $200.

Smith, who died last month, willed the money to each former player in his trust. Tim Breedlove, who wrote the letters to the players, confirmed the gift to SI.com on Thursday. The letter from Miller McNeish & Breedlove, PA, reads, “enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.” The enclosed checks also included the notation, “Dinner out.”
My respect for this man continues to grow.  Again, very classy.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ten years ago today...

...Doctor Who returned.

"Run."

The first episode since 1989 was titled "Rose". London shop associate Rose Tyler stumbled across murderous store mannequins and then came to be rescued by The Doctor. Christopher Eccleston was the first actor of the revived series to portray the legendary Time Lord.

In those early days before Doctor Who became a true global phenomenon, its loyal base of die-hard fans were doing anything to watch the new episodes immediately, instead of waiting a year or so before they aired outside of England.  A lot of us learned how to download via torrent because of that first new season of the show, I'm telling ya.  We would not be denied our Doctor!

Ten years.  Wow.  Who would have thought that a full decade later, the Doctor Who mythos would be as world-renowned as it has become?  Being a fan since watching the Tom Baker episodes on PBS, I can still hardly believe it.

Happy anniversary Doctor Who.  Don't go on hiatus again, ever!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The most interesting carpool passenger in the world

I did something like this coming through Atlanta alone several years ago.  Except instead of what this guy did or having a mannequin, I used a pillow wearing my leather jacket and I went the whole way through the high-occupancy lane with my left hand on the wheel and my right one holding the pillow up and in sight.

How I cleared Atlanta while doing that, I'll never know.

From the Associated Press via Q13Fox News in Seattle...

Most Interesting Man in World' fails as carpool lane ruse

FIFE, Wash. (AP) — A Washington State Patrol trooper says it’s by far the best carpool scam he’s seen, but it didn’t work.

A motorcycle trooper parked along Interstate 5 near Tacoma on Monday afternoon spotted a driver and a rather unusual “passenger” pass by him in the carpool lane.

When the trooper stopped the car, he discovered the “passenger” was a cardboard cutout of the actor who portrays “The Most Interesting Man in the World” in Dos Equis beer ads.

The driver’s response?

“He’s my best friend.”
The highway patrol didn't confiscate The Most Interesting Man in the World, but they did tell the driver to not use him again.

Later on the patrolman tweeted: "I don’t always violate the HOV lane law … but when I do, I get a $124 ticket."

I love stories like this.  You have to give this guy props for some ingenuity even if it didn't work.  And hey, from the photo above it looks like he's still having a good time despite the error of his ways.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Large Hadron Collider could open up other universes this week (this may not end well)

In the process of investigating a good idea (said process being one that even Stephen Hawking said could destroy the Earth), those wacky boffins in Switzerland are preparing to generate in excess of 5 trillion volts of juice with their Large Hadron Collider in the next few days.  The result could be the creation of miniatures black holes.  But more than that: it could punch a hole through the normal dimension of space-time and allow a peek into universes other than our own.

Reed Richards, take note!

From the article at IGN.com...
CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is being fired up this week after a two-year hiatus and a group of scientists think the results could prove the existence of parallel universes.
A paper published by Dr.s Ahmed Farag Ali, Mir Faizal, and Mohammed M. Khalil in the journal Physics Letters B argues that the second run of the LHC produces or detects miniature black holes, which they argue could point to entire universes hidden away in higher dimensions folded into our reality.
“Normally, when people think of the multiverse, they think of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, where every possibility is actualized," Faizal explained to Phys.org. "This is not what we mean by parallel universes. What we mean is real universes in extra dimensions."
One of the cooler things about this is that it could demonstrate a phenomenon called "gravity's rainbow", which among other things theorizes gravity "leaking" into our universe from others.

Hmmmm... dunno if this is such a good idea.  If memory serves, it was such experimentation that was the backstory of the classic video game Doom.  Do we seriously want a potential gateway to Hell getting opened up in the Swiss Alps?

Large Hadron Collider:
Where the sanest place... is behind a trigger.

Wonder if Black Mesa is in on any of that action.

STAR WARS: TIE FIGHTER anime-style short will leave you lusting for more

If Disney was really smart, they would hire this guy to make a bunch of traditional-animated films like this!


There was a shorter version that Paul Johnson released a few years ago, but this is the full-fledged vision: Star Wars: TIE Fighter.  And it is breathtaking.  I dare say that I speak for a lot of fans out there when I say that this... THIS... is what we want to see.  And see more of.

Here it is:

For all the wonder of CGI-animation, the traditional 2D style has more... I dunno... "character"? "Emotion"? How about "heart"? And that's what this video has in spades. This is as much of a Star Wars story as the live-action films, in my opinion. And it's one that I would gladly pay to see more of at the box office.

Two new advertisers with The Knight Shift

If you have a product or service and you would like to reach an average audience of 20,000 viewers a month*, please consider this blog as a venue for your advertising.  I am very thankful that the The Knight Shift's readership represents so vast a variety of interests and backgrounds.  And you can reach out to them!  Write to me at theknightshift@gmail.com with "Advertise on The Knight Shift" in the subject line, and let's get started.  I'm looking forward to working with you to build your brand and give you solid results.

http://www.sweetwick.com/And now, I am proud to announce that this blog has two new sponsors!  The first is Sweet Wick Candle Company.  Makers of fine hand-crafted candles infused with the best of fragrances, the good people at Sweet Wick are dedicated to the art of creating their products to be as much a beauty to look at as they are an aroma to indulge in.  Since its founding not too long ago, Sweet Wick Candle Company has enjoyed tremendous success and is already beginning to see nationwide distribution.  Don't wait for their amazing products to show up at your local shop, visit the website and check out their offerings today!

And next up, we have Yard Draggin...


Inventor Stephen Shumate has pulled off something that has not been done in at least one thousand years: he has re-envisioned the wheelbarrow.  Except that Yard Draggin has no wheels.  Instead, advanced materials are used in the construction of... well, to be honest I don't know how to describe it in words.  If you go to the website you'll find some videos of Yard Draggin in action.  It's just now hitting the market and I wouldn't be surprised if there are soon going to be television commercials for this product: something so useful and versatile, that you'll wonder how did you get by so long without it.

Be sure to keep watching The Knight Shift, as this blog continues to bring new products and services into the public eye.


* based on Google statistics for March 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

Cruz-controlled? Candidate holds Liberty hostage

Let me preface this by saying this: that I've been watching Ted Cruz for a long time and though we may not agree on everything, I believe that he is an exceptional leader.  Dare I say even "statesman"?  Among other things he and I are on the same level when it comes to repealing Obamacare.  It's broken, it has been broken from its inception, and it will continue to be the most enormous disaster of American government ever if it persists.  The only sane thing to do is to roll it back completely.  Anyone who is enthusiastic about doing that, has gone a long way in earning my vote.

I would certainly consider casting a vote for Ted Cruz (with my usual caveat that I will under no circumstance mark a ballot for any candidate who runs even a single negative ad against an opponent).

But I am extremely disgusted by how Cruz chose to announce today that he is indeed running for President.

He did so at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.  This is the school that was founded by the late Jerry Falwell.  It's a school that I have an immense amount of respect for.  I could certainly understand why a candidate would want to make an announcement there.

The thing is: Liberty University made attendance at Cruz's announcement MANDATORY for all students.

Liberty holds convocation for the entire student body three days a week.  Well what would you know, but Cruz's hat-in-the-ring moment coincided with the Monday convocation.  TV cameras caught an entire sea of young faces looking at Ted Cruz.  Nobody could back out.  It was either be there or be penalized.

Let's consider something: what if my alma-mater Elon Univesity ordered every student, on and off-campus, to herd themselves into the football stadium to watch Hillary Clinton make her candidate announcement?  Lots of people, perhaps way more than would be anticipated, would vehemently  raise their voices in outrage, and rightfully so.

The same thing as what happened today at Liberty.  The Cruz campaign was devious in projecting a message that all of those students are behind him.  When if he wanted to be more honest and honorable about it, he would have made his announcement a a time that did not obligate every student and instructor to be there.

(There were "dissidents" at the rally: several students supporting Rand Paul were in attendance, resplendent in Paul t-shirts.  To these students, I must tip my hat toward their "rebellious spirit".)

The more I think about it, the worse this spectacle is.  Using mandatory convocation to force all students to watch Ted Cruz announce his candidacy is pretty low. Cruz should have no problem garnering enthusiasm for his run without such cheap tricks.

And then, the place of venue could be called into question, too.  Liberty University is well-renowned for its Christian ideals.  For any GOP candidate to have any sort of political presence there reinforces the notion that conservatism... and especially evangelical Christianity... is on common ground with the Republican Party.

As recent years have demonstrated, this is not so.

EDIT 10:24 p.m. EST:  I'm very much led to direct your attention to Jerry Falwell Jr.'s statement about the Ted Cruz announcement.  Because I must profess: he makes a case and strongly so.  And I have some more healthy respect for Liberty University and its convocations: that students are allowed to boo if they so desire, well... that's much more than some colleges would tolerate!  In that regard, this is not a situation of forcing students to comply with the politics of the faculty.  So far as the Liberty leadership goes, this statement by Falwell assuages my contempt tremendously.

Nonetheless, this was an inappropriate action on the part of Ted Cruz and his campaign.  I can't say that I've lost respect for him as a candidate who I may or may not cast a ballot for, but for now it is something that has led me to lose some amount of admiration for Cruz.

Something funny I've discovered about this blog...

During the past few days I've come to learn a lot about my own blog.  F'rinstance, according to Google's statistics this site is getting many, many more visits than have been accounted for by the site's meter.  How many more?  Well, let's just say the actual hit count is now well over two million, if I've figured it right.

Wow.

There's a "tags" tab in the sidebar, containing the names of labels for posts given them.  But I've gone so crazy with labeling that there are too many to reasonably include in the sidebar!  So I spent the better part of an hour last night going through them all, picking out which ones to have show up.  The most important criteria was how many posts each label had.

It was... enlightening.  Some labels genuinely surprised me at how many times I had used them.  I won't say which but there was one in particular that I had to include, when otherwise I probably would not at this point in the blog's evolution.  But those posts are still there, and I'm not going back to delete them, so have fun figuring out which label I'm referring to.

And then there is the popular posts tab that is the default when you go to the blog.  For years now I've been telling everyone that there are three items that consistently draw the most traffic to this blog: ghost photographs, visiting a Seventh-Day Adventist church, and Popcorn Sutton (about his life but mostly about where to buy his moonshine).  Go figure.

Some didn't believe me when I said that.  But there's the proof!  Ghosts, visiting a church, and moonshine are the top three draws to The Knight Shift.  That ain't looking to change anytime soon.  Good lucky finding that moonshine!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

AAAAAANNNDDD... We're back!!

So... the blog has a new look.

Not all thanks to me, no doubt.  I had help.  Thanks/blame Brian Fesperman, "Weird" Ed Woody, Stephen Shumate and maybe a few others for encouraging me to keep my sanity during this process, especially just today as some serious kinks were worked out of the new template.

Please note that the redesign doesn't have the post's full text on the front page.  You have to click the "Read More" button on the right of each entry.  If I had known it would look this pretty, I would have done it like that a long time ago.

There's a responsive menu at the top of the page.  Play around with it, see what you find!

The sidebar is tabbed.  Which if you remember the previous sidebar, this one is also much easier to navigate around.

And certainly most obvious is the photo slideshow.  I'm going to do what I can to keep that updated in a timely fashion.  Looks beautiful, aye?

A little fine-tuning still to go, but otherwise The Knight Shift is officially re-skinned.  Hope you all enjoy it :-)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pardon our dust

Methinks it's time to change things up a bit around here.

Don't be surprised if this blog experiences some trauma during the next few days or so.  I've a hankering to get creative with templates and Photoshop.  Hope to have a new look ready to go soon :-)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Help a friend with a missions trip to Guatemala!

To be honest, this is the kind of thing that I'm always leery of doing on this blog.  I really do wish that I could do what I can to help everyone but there's only so much time, and so little of me, to spare toward the effort.  However when such a wonderful longtime friend asked me to spread the word about what she'll soon be doing, I couldn't resist.  It's an honor to do whatever I can for her and this very worthwhile effort.

http://www.gofundme.com/oodyqw
So it is that Destiny Edwards will soon be going on a missions trip to Guatemala, for the purpose of assisting those in need of food, shelter and educational supplies.  It's in coordination with a group called House of Hope Guatemala, which helps the people of that country and especially its children.

Right now Destiny is looking for physical supplies, such as crayons and pens and erasers.  But there is also a financial need for other materials, including food and other educational instruments.  To that end Destiny has set up a contributions page on GoFundMe for her trip.  The goal is to raise $1,500 but much more would be greatly appreciated.  Destiny leaves next month on her humanitarian journey: still plenty of time to make donations and help with her efforts.  I can vouch for her: she's one of the most dedicated and passionate people who I've ever known and she will absolutely make the most of and be extremely grateful for anything that can help out.

So pick up those pho... errr... click on that link and whip out the ol' magic plastic and do a good deed for those sweet kids in Guatemala!  She will appreciate it.  And I as your humble blogger and narrator will be thankful for it also :-)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Blow-by-blow account of "We Are The World"

This past week was the thirtieth anniversary of the release of "We Are The World": the multi-multi-multi-talented collaboration of most of the biggest stars during the era.  It was a song to inspire relief from hunger in Africa.  Recording legend Quincy Jones miraculously corralled all of that musical force in the wee hours of the night right after the American Music Awards had wrapped.  The result?  Still a monument to pop culture at its best.

Something we'll probably never see the likes of again.
Rolling Stone has published an astounding account, practically moment-by-moment, of the night that Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Cindy Lauper, Willie Nelson and 40-some of their closest friends (who also had Dan Ackroyd among them, strangely) came together to record the song.  There is some really crazy material here.  My favorite is probably the heated argument, at 1 a.m., between Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles (several hours after Wonder escorted Charles to the restroom in a true "blind leading the blind" moment).  This was just about everybody who was major on the music scene at the time (except for Prince, whose conspicuous absence is remarked upon in the article).

Can you imagine something like this happening today?  We'd probably have Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks, Hozier, Lorde and maybe even "Weird Al" Yankovic along with dozens of others in the same studio.  Personally, I can't see that.  What can be said?  It was the Eighties.  This is a product of that era.  And one well worth remembering.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Die in this game and you can never EVER play it again

Thank the Lord this isn't a Super Mario Brothers game.  Or a Fallout title.

So here's the conceit: if you die in Upsilon Circuit, you get perma-permadeath.  As in: you'll never play the game again.  Not because you won't want to play but because you literally can't play.  Ever again.  You get one life, one chance to make it through.  And that's it.  One shot at making it through to final screen.

And it won't be easy.

From the article at Kotaku:
The fantasy RPG plops specially selected players onto a single server and divides them into two teams of four. This means only eight players will ever be playing Upsilon Circuit at any given moment, and their adventures will likely come to swift, brutal ends. Sounds terrifying, right? Every move you make can literally be your last.
On top of that, the game will have a participatory audience watching live, something nearly as cool as the "one death ever" conceit. Here's how it works:
"Each Contestant explores the overworld and generated dungeons in search of the Dream Tech Crystals. They fight monsters, avoid traps, and compete with the opposing team."
"When the Contestant fights monsters or gets treasure, the EXP and other rewards go to the Audience. EXP is used collectively by the Audience to level up the Contestant's Skill Tree. Simply put, the Audience is part dungeon master, part strategist, and part judge & jury."

Sorta makes you wish Gary Gygax was still alive and making easy stuff like "Tomb of Horrors", aye?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Time and mind

Who can say where the road goes,
Where the day flows?
Only time...
 
And who can say if your love grows,
As your heart chose?
Only time...
 
-- Enya, "Only Time"

Manic-depression has a time dilation effect. There are periods when time slows to a snail's pace. There are others, like what I'm going through right now, when time goes by too fast.

Either results in the same thing. An oppressive sense that time and life itself is being wasted. That the harder I try to wrest control of time the more it flees away from me. I think, for me anyway, that is the source of a lot of the paranoid thoughts. My mind is either extrapolating situations and outcomes beyond rationality or it is deathly afraid of being "left behind" by the rest of you who have a normal perception of time. I'm too fast or too slow. Too young and too old, and sometimes both at once.
Maybe if time was not so inconstant for me, I could have had a normal life long ago...

Just some musings today while sitting at the keyboard, trying to collect thoughts through the walls of dark being as I struggle with problems regarding my book.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

The astounding eye-popping artwork of Cameron Hobbs

What's Your Mindset? by Cameron Hobbs, 2015

This is someone to keep an eye out for, because he's going to go far. Way, way far.  Cameron Hobbs is the son of a dear friend.  A little over two years ago she began posting some of Cameron's art on her Facebook page.  It was... well, a lot better than most kids at the age of 12 can do, that's for sure.  Not long after Cameron created a page devoted to his work.

I've been following his progress ever since.  And it has been nothing less than an absolute marvel to watch this young man grow and develop into an amazing artist.  His forte is comic book art, but as you can see from What's Your Mindset? above, his skill and imagination make him a force to be reckoned with across a myriad of genres.

It really would not be surprising to see Cameron working on a best-selling comic book/graphic novel in the next ten years.  And quite possibly much more than that.

Want to see more of Cameron's portfolio?  He's got a virtual gallery on Facebook.  And also be sure to check out the original Superhero Art to see what else he's been working on.  Who knows: you too might be wanting a print to hang on your own wall!

Friday, March 06, 2015

I gotta get this out of my system...

$7.49 for a box of one-dozen original glazed.

What.  The &%$#.  Is WRONG.  With you.  Krispy Kreme. ?!?

In a different time and a better reality, those were something that all and sundry enjoyed to no end.  Not anymore.

They used to be a dollar a box.  And then two dollars.  Just a few short months ago it was five bucks and change.  Now it's closing in on eight dollars a dozen.

Donuts should not be luxury items.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Pong, and Donkey Kong... all in one game


Using the paddles from Pong to shuttle Pac-Man back and forth through his maze while dodging the aliens of Space Invaders.  All while Donkey Kong showers the screen with barrels.  This wonderfully schizoid mash-up of four of the most classic video games of all time is called Pacapong and it comes courtesy of a clever lad named Dick Poelen as his contribution to the Ludum Dare 58 video game jam.

I look at this screen and visions of my childhood erupt across my inner retina.  This is the kind of thing that we used to dream up as kids: crossovers between video games.  I think one idea was to have Pac-Man gobbling dots as he moved up Donkey Kong's girders.  Kinda weird to see something like that actually come to pass.

Kotaku has more about Pacapong, including where you can play it (bear in mind that it's a two-player game just like Pong).

Watch George Lucas photobomb documentary about nuclear waste!

Look!  A wild George Lucas sighting!

"Nuclear Waste: Fission Products & Transuranics from Thorium & Uranium" is sincerely fascinating in its own right.  A short documentary about the valuable materials often left in used-up fuel rods from nuclear reactors and how they might be extracted.  Very interesting if you're at all into nuclear engineering and chemistry in general.

But let's face it: most people are going to want to see the creator of Star Wars stumbling into view on a Chicago street as research scientist Bruce Hoglund explains pyroprocessing (using molten salt and electrochemistry to pull out the desired substances).

You can choose to watch it all, OR you can fast-forward (I recommend moving it to 13:00 to get the full effect):

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act: An affirmation of liberty, and other thoughts

Some musings on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act now on the books in Indiana and that so many are in a tizzy about...

The act does not discriminate.

The act is not "anti-gay, anti-lesbian, anti-bisexual, anti-transexual" or anti-anything at all. Nowhere in the text of the legislation is there found a clause stipulating that any one or any group in particular is to be given any less protection under the law.

The act simply reasserts something that Amendment One of the Bill of Rights has codified for well over two hundred years: that there is a right to assembly and association. This also means that there is just as much a right to NON-association.

The act simply does as its title indicates: it allows for individuals and businesses to not provide a service if doing so violates the religious beliefs of that individual or business.

There are many people who do not believe that such a valid concept exists as "gay marriage" or any other kind of marital relationship apart from one man and one woman. These people have a right to those beliefs even if they are not agreed to.

The act asserts the rights of such people to act in accordance to their religious beliefs.

The act applies across the board to every citizen of the state of Indiana. Thus, a Moslem photographer cannot be compelled to be hired for a Jewish bar mitzvah. A Jewish carpenter cannot be forced under penalty to build a creche for a church’s Nativity scene. A Christian-owned bakery will not be obligated to bake a cake meant for a homosexual marriage celebration. And a homosexual-owned catering service cannot be made against their will to provide food for the "God Hates Fags" nuts at Westboro Baptist Church.

Those who are against the act have every right in the world to look for another business with which to solicit service as a customer.

Why are two homosexuals who want a wedding cake going to a bakery that they know is against homosexual marriage, anyway? Are there no more bakeries around, or could it be that they desire to forcefully compel that bakery to provide against its owners beliefs?

If the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is going to legalize discrimination and if those against the act are concerned about it on such a vast scale, then logically they have accused most of the people of the state of Indiana of being pro-discrimination and that said discrimination is deeply entrenched in that state's society. I have to wonder what most citizens of Indiana would think of that.

Those who are in favor of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act are not consumed by hate toward anyone.
And if they were, I would not want to associate with those people. Christians are not to hate anyone. But that does not mean that Christians must give approval of behavior that according to their convictions is sinful.

The ones who are most preaching "tolerance" seem to be rabidly intolerant of those who hold to the beliefs of marriage being solely between man and woman.

The ones who are most preaching "tolerance" seem to be rabidly intolerant of, for the most part, Christians.

Businesses have the right to serve or turn away who they wish. If a business does not want me as a customer, it can do so. Just as I can choose not to solicit service from that business or any other. If a business so chooses to discriminate, I have the right to go to or not go to that business. If a business decides it will no longer serve celibate white males with bipolar disorder, then I will not try to force the issue and neither would I want to. Neither would I try to be a customer of a business that discriminates against women or other ethnic groups. I will gladly take my money elsewhere.

Those against the act are naturally welcome to boycott Indiana. However such boycotts in general are counter-productive.

I would even dare say that boycotting the entire state of Indiana is akin to cutting off one’s face in spite of his or her nose.

The people who disagree with those against the Religious Freedom Restoration Act are not "bigots". They do not hate anyone. They are not followers of an outdated religion. They are not pro-discrimination. I have been called all of these things and more in the past few days, by people who do not know what they are talking about.

If a church is truly discriminating against homosexuals, I would not want to be a part of that church. Jesus loved the prostitutes, the tax collectors, and every other sinner as much as He loved His disciples. So must I. But neither did Jesus affirm or approve of their sins. Neither can I. He told them to "go and sin no more." So they must. So must I, for that matter. No church should turn away any sinner. But no church must be compelled to give approval to any sin, either.

There are already laws such as Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act in place in 19 other states. That is almost 40 percent of the country. These states seem strangely bereft of any boycotting on the part of those who are anti-Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

It has been a very long time since I have seen any alleged discussion as has been about Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act with so much incivility and raw hatred. And the vast majority of it seems to be coming from those against the act.

I like to think that we can be better than that.

You are free to agree or disagree with me as you wish. Regardless, Jesus loves you and so do I.

Video for Lindsey Stirling's "Take Flight"

It was this past July when I wrote about discovering Lindsey Stirling and her enchanting mastery of the violin. That and how she choreographs herself while performing. So taken in by her music have I been, that by a vast margin it's been her album Shatter Me that I've listened to the most while writing my book.  And her music videos have been no less arresting, even hypnotic.  In every way Stirling has astounded the senses in ways that very few examples of music nowadays have achieved.

A few days ago Stirling released the video for "Take Flight", also from Shatter Me.  I can't remember any video lately that has got me scratching my head wondering "how did they do that??"

Here it is.  Prepare yourself for a beautiful ride on a melodic journey through geometry as wild as it is beautiful...


Friday, March 27, 2015

New sponsor: HyperMind, for all your gaming needs!

The Knight Shift is proud to welcome a new advertiser, and if you've been a longtime reader you'll already know something about HyperMind.

A positivalutely abundawonderful game store in Burlington, North Carolina, owners Nick and Denise Shepherd have established a place that draws loyal customers from as far away as Virginia, Raleigh/Durham and Winston-Salem.  And by "games" we're talking about the old-fashioned stuff that doesn't require batteries or a specialized console... but does require you to play with others and have fun.

Whether you're looking for time-honored pastimes like Monopoly and Risk, or new classics such as The Settlers of Catan, HyperMind has something for everyone.  They also stock a healthy amount of miniatures-based games (including my current drug of choice, X-Wing Miniatures).  One of the biggest sellers is perennial favorite Magic: The Gathering.  And HyperMind goes all-out to provide for its devoted players, with an ample stockpile of cards (just about every kind of current booster pack you can think of) and a huge room serving as a place of casual play and weekly tournaments.  Role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons are also a favorite.  If they don't have it on shelves, the folks at HyperMind will gladly order it for you.

Serving the Triad area since 2006, HyperMind is an experience that you will want to return to again and again.  Stop by today, and discover the fun!

Deadpool entices you to come hither...

From Ryan Reynolds' Twitter feed...


That may be the best translation of a costume from comic book-to-big screen that I've ever seen.  Looks spot-on perfect.

How are they going to handle Deadpool's legendary mouth?  Lots of fans demanding a hard R rating, noting that PG-13 won't cut it.  One idea I heard a few weeks ago was that for almost the entire movie there could be a white word balloon with "&$*#" whenever Deadpool uses profanity.  That Deadpool would be aware of it just like in the comics.  And that they save the big "F-bomb" for a critical spot in the story.  I could accept that.

Deadpool arrives in theaters next February.

Dean Smith left $200 in his will for each of his players

Now this fits the definition of "classy" to a tee...

Last month legendary basketball coach Dean Smith passed away.  He coached the Tar Heels of UNC-Chapel Hill from 1961 to 1997 and when he retired he was the coach with the most wins of any in collegiate basketball history.  He had two national titles to show for it.  Along the way he coached about 184 players.

And every one of them is getting $200 to enjoy a nice dinner out.

From the story at Fox 8:
 Each player who lettered under late North Carolina head men’s basketball coach Dean Smith is receiving a surprise gift from the coach himself: $200.

Smith, who died last month, willed the money to each former player in his trust. Tim Breedlove, who wrote the letters to the players, confirmed the gift to SI.com on Thursday. The letter from Miller McNeish & Breedlove, PA, reads, “enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.” The enclosed checks also included the notation, “Dinner out.”
My respect for this man continues to grow.  Again, very classy.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ten years ago today...

...Doctor Who returned.

"Run."

The first episode since 1989 was titled "Rose". London shop associate Rose Tyler stumbled across murderous store mannequins and then came to be rescued by The Doctor. Christopher Eccleston was the first actor of the revived series to portray the legendary Time Lord.

In those early days before Doctor Who became a true global phenomenon, its loyal base of die-hard fans were doing anything to watch the new episodes immediately, instead of waiting a year or so before they aired outside of England.  A lot of us learned how to download via torrent because of that first new season of the show, I'm telling ya.  We would not be denied our Doctor!

Ten years.  Wow.  Who would have thought that a full decade later, the Doctor Who mythos would be as world-renowned as it has become?  Being a fan since watching the Tom Baker episodes on PBS, I can still hardly believe it.

Happy anniversary Doctor Who.  Don't go on hiatus again, ever!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The most interesting carpool passenger in the world

I did something like this coming through Atlanta alone several years ago.  Except instead of what this guy did or having a mannequin, I used a pillow wearing my leather jacket and I went the whole way through the high-occupancy lane with my left hand on the wheel and my right one holding the pillow up and in sight.

How I cleared Atlanta while doing that, I'll never know.

From the Associated Press via Q13Fox News in Seattle...

Most Interesting Man in World' fails as carpool lane ruse

FIFE, Wash. (AP) — A Washington State Patrol trooper says it’s by far the best carpool scam he’s seen, but it didn’t work.

A motorcycle trooper parked along Interstate 5 near Tacoma on Monday afternoon spotted a driver and a rather unusual “passenger” pass by him in the carpool lane.

When the trooper stopped the car, he discovered the “passenger” was a cardboard cutout of the actor who portrays “The Most Interesting Man in the World” in Dos Equis beer ads.

The driver’s response?

“He’s my best friend.”
The highway patrol didn't confiscate The Most Interesting Man in the World, but they did tell the driver to not use him again.

Later on the patrolman tweeted: "I don’t always violate the HOV lane law … but when I do, I get a $124 ticket."

I love stories like this.  You have to give this guy props for some ingenuity even if it didn't work.  And hey, from the photo above it looks like he's still having a good time despite the error of his ways.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Large Hadron Collider could open up other universes this week (this may not end well)

In the process of investigating a good idea (said process being one that even Stephen Hawking said could destroy the Earth), those wacky boffins in Switzerland are preparing to generate in excess of 5 trillion volts of juice with their Large Hadron Collider in the next few days.  The result could be the creation of miniatures black holes.  But more than that: it could punch a hole through the normal dimension of space-time and allow a peek into universes other than our own.

Reed Richards, take note!

From the article at IGN.com...
CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is being fired up this week after a two-year hiatus and a group of scientists think the results could prove the existence of parallel universes.
A paper published by Dr.s Ahmed Farag Ali, Mir Faizal, and Mohammed M. Khalil in the journal Physics Letters B argues that the second run of the LHC produces or detects miniature black holes, which they argue could point to entire universes hidden away in higher dimensions folded into our reality.
“Normally, when people think of the multiverse, they think of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, where every possibility is actualized," Faizal explained to Phys.org. "This is not what we mean by parallel universes. What we mean is real universes in extra dimensions."
One of the cooler things about this is that it could demonstrate a phenomenon called "gravity's rainbow", which among other things theorizes gravity "leaking" into our universe from others.

Hmmmm... dunno if this is such a good idea.  If memory serves, it was such experimentation that was the backstory of the classic video game Doom.  Do we seriously want a potential gateway to Hell getting opened up in the Swiss Alps?

Large Hadron Collider:
Where the sanest place... is behind a trigger.

Wonder if Black Mesa is in on any of that action.

STAR WARS: TIE FIGHTER anime-style short will leave you lusting for more

If Disney was really smart, they would hire this guy to make a bunch of traditional-animated films like this!


There was a shorter version that Paul Johnson released a few years ago, but this is the full-fledged vision: Star Wars: TIE Fighter.  And it is breathtaking.  I dare say that I speak for a lot of fans out there when I say that this... THIS... is what we want to see.  And see more of.

Here it is:

For all the wonder of CGI-animation, the traditional 2D style has more... I dunno... "character"? "Emotion"? How about "heart"? And that's what this video has in spades. This is as much of a Star Wars story as the live-action films, in my opinion. And it's one that I would gladly pay to see more of at the box office.

Two new advertisers with The Knight Shift

If you have a product or service and you would like to reach an average audience of 20,000 viewers a month*, please consider this blog as a venue for your advertising.  I am very thankful that the The Knight Shift's readership represents so vast a variety of interests and backgrounds.  And you can reach out to them!  Write to me at theknightshift@gmail.com with "Advertise on The Knight Shift" in the subject line, and let's get started.  I'm looking forward to working with you to build your brand and give you solid results.

http://www.sweetwick.com/And now, I am proud to announce that this blog has two new sponsors!  The first is Sweet Wick Candle Company.  Makers of fine hand-crafted candles infused with the best of fragrances, the good people at Sweet Wick are dedicated to the art of creating their products to be as much a beauty to look at as they are an aroma to indulge in.  Since its founding not too long ago, Sweet Wick Candle Company has enjoyed tremendous success and is already beginning to see nationwide distribution.  Don't wait for their amazing products to show up at your local shop, visit the website and check out their offerings today!

And next up, we have Yard Draggin...


Inventor Stephen Shumate has pulled off something that has not been done in at least one thousand years: he has re-envisioned the wheelbarrow.  Except that Yard Draggin has no wheels.  Instead, advanced materials are used in the construction of... well, to be honest I don't know how to describe it in words.  If you go to the website you'll find some videos of Yard Draggin in action.  It's just now hitting the market and I wouldn't be surprised if there are soon going to be television commercials for this product: something so useful and versatile, that you'll wonder how did you get by so long without it.

Be sure to keep watching The Knight Shift, as this blog continues to bring new products and services into the public eye.


* based on Google statistics for March 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

Cruz-controlled? Candidate holds Liberty hostage

Let me preface this by saying this: that I've been watching Ted Cruz for a long time and though we may not agree on everything, I believe that he is an exceptional leader.  Dare I say even "statesman"?  Among other things he and I are on the same level when it comes to repealing Obamacare.  It's broken, it has been broken from its inception, and it will continue to be the most enormous disaster of American government ever if it persists.  The only sane thing to do is to roll it back completely.  Anyone who is enthusiastic about doing that, has gone a long way in earning my vote.

I would certainly consider casting a vote for Ted Cruz (with my usual caveat that I will under no circumstance mark a ballot for any candidate who runs even a single negative ad against an opponent).

But I am extremely disgusted by how Cruz chose to announce today that he is indeed running for President.

He did so at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.  This is the school that was founded by the late Jerry Falwell.  It's a school that I have an immense amount of respect for.  I could certainly understand why a candidate would want to make an announcement there.

The thing is: Liberty University made attendance at Cruz's announcement MANDATORY for all students.

Liberty holds convocation for the entire student body three days a week.  Well what would you know, but Cruz's hat-in-the-ring moment coincided with the Monday convocation.  TV cameras caught an entire sea of young faces looking at Ted Cruz.  Nobody could back out.  It was either be there or be penalized.

Let's consider something: what if my alma-mater Elon Univesity ordered every student, on and off-campus, to herd themselves into the football stadium to watch Hillary Clinton make her candidate announcement?  Lots of people, perhaps way more than would be anticipated, would vehemently  raise their voices in outrage, and rightfully so.

The same thing as what happened today at Liberty.  The Cruz campaign was devious in projecting a message that all of those students are behind him.  When if he wanted to be more honest and honorable about it, he would have made his announcement a a time that did not obligate every student and instructor to be there.

(There were "dissidents" at the rally: several students supporting Rand Paul were in attendance, resplendent in Paul t-shirts.  To these students, I must tip my hat toward their "rebellious spirit".)

The more I think about it, the worse this spectacle is.  Using mandatory convocation to force all students to watch Ted Cruz announce his candidacy is pretty low. Cruz should have no problem garnering enthusiasm for his run without such cheap tricks.

And then, the place of venue could be called into question, too.  Liberty University is well-renowned for its Christian ideals.  For any GOP candidate to have any sort of political presence there reinforces the notion that conservatism... and especially evangelical Christianity... is on common ground with the Republican Party.

As recent years have demonstrated, this is not so.

EDIT 10:24 p.m. EST:  I'm very much led to direct your attention to Jerry Falwell Jr.'s statement about the Ted Cruz announcement.  Because I must profess: he makes a case and strongly so.  And I have some more healthy respect for Liberty University and its convocations: that students are allowed to boo if they so desire, well... that's much more than some colleges would tolerate!  In that regard, this is not a situation of forcing students to comply with the politics of the faculty.  So far as the Liberty leadership goes, this statement by Falwell assuages my contempt tremendously.

Nonetheless, this was an inappropriate action on the part of Ted Cruz and his campaign.  I can't say that I've lost respect for him as a candidate who I may or may not cast a ballot for, but for now it is something that has led me to lose some amount of admiration for Cruz.

Something funny I've discovered about this blog...

During the past few days I've come to learn a lot about my own blog.  F'rinstance, according to Google's statistics this site is getting many, many more visits than have been accounted for by the site's meter.  How many more?  Well, let's just say the actual hit count is now well over two million, if I've figured it right.

Wow.

There's a "tags" tab in the sidebar, containing the names of labels for posts given them.  But I've gone so crazy with labeling that there are too many to reasonably include in the sidebar!  So I spent the better part of an hour last night going through them all, picking out which ones to have show up.  The most important criteria was how many posts each label had.

It was... enlightening.  Some labels genuinely surprised me at how many times I had used them.  I won't say which but there was one in particular that I had to include, when otherwise I probably would not at this point in the blog's evolution.  But those posts are still there, and I'm not going back to delete them, so have fun figuring out which label I'm referring to.

And then there is the popular posts tab that is the default when you go to the blog.  For years now I've been telling everyone that there are three items that consistently draw the most traffic to this blog: ghost photographs, visiting a Seventh-Day Adventist church, and Popcorn Sutton (about his life but mostly about where to buy his moonshine).  Go figure.

Some didn't believe me when I said that.  But there's the proof!  Ghosts, visiting a church, and moonshine are the top three draws to The Knight Shift.  That ain't looking to change anytime soon.  Good lucky finding that moonshine!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

AAAAAANNNDDD... We're back!!

So... the blog has a new look.

Not all thanks to me, no doubt.  I had help.  Thanks/blame Brian Fesperman, "Weird" Ed Woody, Stephen Shumate and maybe a few others for encouraging me to keep my sanity during this process, especially just today as some serious kinks were worked out of the new template.

Please note that the redesign doesn't have the post's full text on the front page.  You have to click the "Read More" button on the right of each entry.  If I had known it would look this pretty, I would have done it like that a long time ago.

There's a responsive menu at the top of the page.  Play around with it, see what you find!

The sidebar is tabbed.  Which if you remember the previous sidebar, this one is also much easier to navigate around.

And certainly most obvious is the photo slideshow.  I'm going to do what I can to keep that updated in a timely fashion.  Looks beautiful, aye?

A little fine-tuning still to go, but otherwise The Knight Shift is officially re-skinned.  Hope you all enjoy it :-)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pardon our dust

Methinks it's time to change things up a bit around here.

Don't be surprised if this blog experiences some trauma during the next few days or so.  I've a hankering to get creative with templates and Photoshop.  Hope to have a new look ready to go soon :-)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Help a friend with a missions trip to Guatemala!

To be honest, this is the kind of thing that I'm always leery of doing on this blog.  I really do wish that I could do what I can to help everyone but there's only so much time, and so little of me, to spare toward the effort.  However when such a wonderful longtime friend asked me to spread the word about what she'll soon be doing, I couldn't resist.  It's an honor to do whatever I can for her and this very worthwhile effort.

http://www.gofundme.com/oodyqw
So it is that Destiny Edwards will soon be going on a missions trip to Guatemala, for the purpose of assisting those in need of food, shelter and educational supplies.  It's in coordination with a group called House of Hope Guatemala, which helps the people of that country and especially its children.

Right now Destiny is looking for physical supplies, such as crayons and pens and erasers.  But there is also a financial need for other materials, including food and other educational instruments.  To that end Destiny has set up a contributions page on GoFundMe for her trip.  The goal is to raise $1,500 but much more would be greatly appreciated.  Destiny leaves next month on her humanitarian journey: still plenty of time to make donations and help with her efforts.  I can vouch for her: she's one of the most dedicated and passionate people who I've ever known and she will absolutely make the most of and be extremely grateful for anything that can help out.

So pick up those pho... errr... click on that link and whip out the ol' magic plastic and do a good deed for those sweet kids in Guatemala!  She will appreciate it.  And I as your humble blogger and narrator will be thankful for it also :-)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Blow-by-blow account of "We Are The World"

This past week was the thirtieth anniversary of the release of "We Are The World": the multi-multi-multi-talented collaboration of most of the biggest stars during the era.  It was a song to inspire relief from hunger in Africa.  Recording legend Quincy Jones miraculously corralled all of that musical force in the wee hours of the night right after the American Music Awards had wrapped.  The result?  Still a monument to pop culture at its best.

Something we'll probably never see the likes of again.
Rolling Stone has published an astounding account, practically moment-by-moment, of the night that Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Cindy Lauper, Willie Nelson and 40-some of their closest friends (who also had Dan Ackroyd among them, strangely) came together to record the song.  There is some really crazy material here.  My favorite is probably the heated argument, at 1 a.m., between Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles (several hours after Wonder escorted Charles to the restroom in a true "blind leading the blind" moment).  This was just about everybody who was major on the music scene at the time (except for Prince, whose conspicuous absence is remarked upon in the article).

Can you imagine something like this happening today?  We'd probably have Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks, Hozier, Lorde and maybe even "Weird Al" Yankovic along with dozens of others in the same studio.  Personally, I can't see that.  What can be said?  It was the Eighties.  This is a product of that era.  And one well worth remembering.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Die in this game and you can never EVER play it again

Thank the Lord this isn't a Super Mario Brothers game.  Or a Fallout title.

So here's the conceit: if you die in Upsilon Circuit, you get perma-permadeath.  As in: you'll never play the game again.  Not because you won't want to play but because you literally can't play.  Ever again.  You get one life, one chance to make it through.  And that's it.  One shot at making it through to final screen.

And it won't be easy.

From the article at Kotaku:
The fantasy RPG plops specially selected players onto a single server and divides them into two teams of four. This means only eight players will ever be playing Upsilon Circuit at any given moment, and their adventures will likely come to swift, brutal ends. Sounds terrifying, right? Every move you make can literally be your last.
On top of that, the game will have a participatory audience watching live, something nearly as cool as the "one death ever" conceit. Here's how it works:
"Each Contestant explores the overworld and generated dungeons in search of the Dream Tech Crystals. They fight monsters, avoid traps, and compete with the opposing team."
"When the Contestant fights monsters or gets treasure, the EXP and other rewards go to the Audience. EXP is used collectively by the Audience to level up the Contestant's Skill Tree. Simply put, the Audience is part dungeon master, part strategist, and part judge & jury."

Sorta makes you wish Gary Gygax was still alive and making easy stuff like "Tomb of Horrors", aye?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Time and mind

Who can say where the road goes,
Where the day flows?
Only time...
 
And who can say if your love grows,
As your heart chose?
Only time...
 
-- Enya, "Only Time"

Manic-depression has a time dilation effect. There are periods when time slows to a snail's pace. There are others, like what I'm going through right now, when time goes by too fast.

Either results in the same thing. An oppressive sense that time and life itself is being wasted. That the harder I try to wrest control of time the more it flees away from me. I think, for me anyway, that is the source of a lot of the paranoid thoughts. My mind is either extrapolating situations and outcomes beyond rationality or it is deathly afraid of being "left behind" by the rest of you who have a normal perception of time. I'm too fast or too slow. Too young and too old, and sometimes both at once.
Maybe if time was not so inconstant for me, I could have had a normal life long ago...

Just some musings today while sitting at the keyboard, trying to collect thoughts through the walls of dark being as I struggle with problems regarding my book.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

The astounding eye-popping artwork of Cameron Hobbs

What's Your Mindset? by Cameron Hobbs, 2015

This is someone to keep an eye out for, because he's going to go far. Way, way far.  Cameron Hobbs is the son of a dear friend.  A little over two years ago she began posting some of Cameron's art on her Facebook page.  It was... well, a lot better than most kids at the age of 12 can do, that's for sure.  Not long after Cameron created a page devoted to his work.

I've been following his progress ever since.  And it has been nothing less than an absolute marvel to watch this young man grow and develop into an amazing artist.  His forte is comic book art, but as you can see from What's Your Mindset? above, his skill and imagination make him a force to be reckoned with across a myriad of genres.

It really would not be surprising to see Cameron working on a best-selling comic book/graphic novel in the next ten years.  And quite possibly much more than that.

Want to see more of Cameron's portfolio?  He's got a virtual gallery on Facebook.  And also be sure to check out the original Superhero Art to see what else he's been working on.  Who knows: you too might be wanting a print to hang on your own wall!

Friday, March 06, 2015

I gotta get this out of my system...

$7.49 for a box of one-dozen original glazed.

What.  The &%$#.  Is WRONG.  With you.  Krispy Kreme. ?!?

In a different time and a better reality, those were something that all and sundry enjoyed to no end.  Not anymore.

They used to be a dollar a box.  And then two dollars.  Just a few short months ago it was five bucks and change.  Now it's closing in on eight dollars a dozen.

Donuts should not be luxury items.