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“The WordPress.com stats helper-
monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.”

I really have no idea what most of that sentence meant, I sure didn’t write it but I can’t deny it either.

Below are the stats WordPress sends annually to let bloggers know how awesome they are. I feel pretty awesome but… let’s see if we can do better. I can’t get any of these numbers without you. It sucks but it’s true. Readers are awesome!

Thanks for your participation!

-VR

Oh and I’ve been to San Francisco but I have never ridden on a cable car. California sucks!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,400 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 40 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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The Best episode of Angel by far:

Serious Muppet-ass kicking action!

Honestly, what more could you ask for?

Okay, It’s Angel. As a PUPPET! Carrying a sword?! Seriously, what’s not to love?

I hadn’t seen the episode before though I remembered when it aired how – from the buzz amongst friends and strangers long before Facebook connected everyone –  it was humorous and very well-done. Better than you’d think.

My hat’s off to the puppeteer(s).

Check it out on Netflix when you get a chance.

-VR

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There’s a story in the latest issue of Esquire magazine that touched me deeply. It’s the current issue – as I’m writing this – that has Liam Neeson on the cover pointing at you with a look on his face that seems to say, “kiss my ass”.

It's not polite to point!

Kiss it!

This issue is chock-full of great articles and interviews, the one featuring Neeson is pretty good, though the author, having an issue with time continuity, does have a weird way of phrasing things and I had to read some paragraphs a couple of times over to make sure I was getting what he was trying to say.
Liam is interesting and I like him as an actor and have since I saw him in Krull when I was a child. In the article he seemed to have a hard time talking about his late wife Natasha Richardson which is completely understandable. She was a good actress that brought something different to the films she was in, like Neeson himself (and I honestly think I saw her in person when my wife and I were having dinner with a couple of friends at a very overpriced and overrated Taco joint near an Angelika theater. We have no idea if it was really her since we assume celebs don’t like to be pestered by the common public and, above all else, why in the heck she would be there of all places – with some guy I could only guess was an agent – but it’s one of those things I’ll hold on to and always wonder).

The article made me sad, definitely because we lost a star but also because I am a human and a husband and the last thing I want is to lose my wife to death. I would rather screw up and have her leave me and know that she’s still alive than have her die. It’s happened before and I don’t prefer it.

But as touching as that article was it didn’t quite compare to the story that you won’t find listed as a “must-read” on Esquire’s website – even if you search for it (I tried!) – about Raymond D. Towler, entitled “The Someone You’re Not“. **Update – I did find the Towler article when I searched for images. You can read the article by Mike Sager by clicking the article title above.

[If you want to read The Hard Luck and Beautiful Life of Liam Neeson click here!]

Raymond’s story struck a familiar nerve with me as a person who has been wrongly accused – for the ease of blame placement – more than I’d like. The problem is that Towler was, according to the article, accused of child molestation/rape and the poor guy was nowhere around when it happened. It was, at the very least, a case of racial profiling. Yeah I said it! He was around 24 years old when sentenced and spent nearly 30 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. The man had to live every single day in several different correctional facilities under the stigma of child molestation. How sick is that?

The reason he was there, as the article suggests, was in no small part due to legal incompetence combined with the drive and push that the Judge and Assistant Prosecutor appeared to have to get the trial over in a way that worked for them.

But here’s the thing that got me after reading it all: Towler isn’t all festering and pissed off about it. Sure, he’s “a little mad” but he’s just happy to be out of there. That’s nearly 30 years of an innocent person’s life; you can’t pay a man enough to fix that sort of thing, but it would be a nice start. He had to endure watching people come and go, either being transferred or dying all through the years most people, like you and I, just piss away doing nothing but worrying about the next time we get to eat at McDonald’s. The only time he was able to get out for a moment was when he attended his mother’s funeral in ’84. Even then he was in shackles.

On another positive side he’s a very talented guy. As an artist and a musician he was able to do things other inmates really couldn’t. He even took some classes in various vocations, got his GED as well as an Associate degree and could have gone further if there was proper funding. Needless to say I thought it was the best real-life Shawshank Redemption story ever! But unlike that story he didn’t have to tunnel through the walls and swim through crap; he just had to be patient and put up with crap. Kinda.

Can I relate to this man? In some ways yes and that’s why I thought it was something worth posting about. But unlike him I don’t think I would have been strong enough to have lasted all those years incarcerated for something I didn’t do. Of all the things I’ve been falsely accused of I still keep some anger and hurt over it all – I even have doubts sometimes as to whether I did them or not – and they’re on a scale that doesn’t even compare to the crap this man had to put up with. Through it all it makes you wonder what the justice system is really about. I can’t help thinking that there is something wrong with the system and I know that’s not an original idea. It’s guilty until proven innocent and that’s pretty scary.

Who knows what Raymond Towler could have done or what he would have been if the justice system was a little more justice than system; if it actually had hard evidence other than the testimony of a scared little child that probably thought all black people looked the same or a prosecutor and a judge that wasn’t out for… who knows what really.

I don’t want to assume anything and throw the “race” card out there but more often than not that seems to be the real case. It’s sad.

Sure, I have my misgivings about people who use the word “racist” to somehow get ahead in life, especially the people who already have everything but seem to think it will help them even more. I don’t know how it works that they can use a word to get power over you but I do know it sucks when people think you’re something that you’re not.

Mr. Towler is in his 50’s and was one of the many people released in 2010 because of DNA testing. I think that is amazing. I’ve never been in prison but something tells me it’s not a place I’d like to be, I don’t even know if I want to visit. I’ve seen the inside of a holding facility and that’s all I care to see.

If you’re interested in reading an actual article about Raymond Towler check out this one from Cincinnati Magazine entitled “The Correction“.

-VR

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For the Holiday’s I chose to disable my Facebook account because:

  1. I don’t really care how happy and wonderful people think their families are.
  2. I really don’t like it when people have an alert to when my birthday or anniversary is. If they want to know then they can ask and wish when they want and not have to be “pressured” into something possibly insincere.
  3. I could not care any less how awesome your significant other is and what they got you and what you got them; feeling like I have to compare notes or something so meaningless as that isn’t what I call “fun”.
  4. No, I don’t want to go to your party unless you can go that extra mile and call me. It’s so token to invite a bunch of people through a social network and expect them to contribute food-stuffs.
  5. If I’m not that special you’re not that special either.

It’s not that I don’t think I’m a Grinch or something comparable. I know that I am actually because my birthday – which just happens to be 2 days after my anniversary – is 2 weeks before the biggest commercially driven Holiday ever(!) and 3 weeks before the apocalypse of the year in which I had just spent a good part adapting to.

So whatever.

It’s a new year and a new age to remember and hope I get it right.

All that said, I think I did good this past Christmas. Only two people gave gifts I actually wanted but the other gifts aren’t bad either. I can probably make some money selling them on Craig’s List or potentially re-gifting them later on. You really can’t go wrong with gift cards unless they’re for some random place most people have never heard of. The true spirit of a cheerful, giving person indeed!

All I wanted was any of the items I had accumulated in my Amazon wishlist(s). Not just in any random order though. If it’s a series I wanted them in order not just #3 here and #5 there.

By now I’m sure you’ve realized that I’m an avid reader of graphic novels and really a big kid at heart or in whole.

No?

Well I am. Honest!

My favorite is Flight.  For those not in the know it’s like one of those anthology series that have short stories in them by different artists and writers and sometimes featuring collaborations between several of them. So far I’ve gotten them all with the exception of volume #’s 6 and 7. And yes, they are listed on the aforementioned wishlist.

So Christmas came and Santa brought me Flight Volume #6 along with an Iron Fist action figure, which, for a guy that I haven’t believed in for years, was a pretty snazzy thing to do!

And because Kazu Kibuishi is the editor, cover artist and often contributor to the Flight books – and probably hand-presses the pages made from his own ink and paper recipes – I wanted to get his Amulet series which was also listed as a wishful item.

Kibuishi has a beautiful style that meets my fantasy needs and he hasn’t let me down yet! Just Google him and check out some covers to the previous Flight books and you’ll see what I’m talking about. That’s not to say that the other contributors to the Flight books aren’t equally as talented, but I didn’t score any of their books for Christmas so no need for honorable mentions, right?

Along with the books and action figure I also managed to score a couple stocking-stuffer movies I’d wanted for years now but had been reluctant to buy myself:

  1. Sling Blade – which is an awesome movie on so many different levels. Don’t sweat the fact it’s a drama because if you pay close enough attention to it you’ll end up laughing your ass off! It’s guarenteed to offend just about anyone on any level.
  2. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – another clever and vulgar yet funny movie. I know Robert Downey Jr. seemed to reinvent himself with the Iron Man flicks but I think this one helped push that metamorphosis along.. Though I’m not sure wtf is up with the name. My nerdy hope originally was that it was based loosely on a dead comic book series of the same name but no such luck. en Espanol?

Since Christmas was a while ago now I’ve come across a few more great finds that I’ll have to get around to posting about at some point in the hopefully near future.  I will say that Half Price Books is a great resource for any books, games and DVD’s. I can’t promise they’ll have exactly what you’re looking for, but oftentimes neither can they and I find more things there that I forgot I wanted than what I actually went in to find. Ha!

So kiddo’s, the moral of this story is throw out the joy and great cheer and give me presents that I actually want for Christmas. Is it too much to ask?

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Many years ago my brother bought a CD that contained a hot new song played over and over on the radio, if you listened to KISS FM, but never seemed to lose its charm: Torn by Natalie Imbruglia.

I used to stare at this picture for hours. Just staring mind you!

Yeah, I know… that proves my brother and I both had a little too much femininity in us for whatever it was worth. But sometimes we liked songs we heard on the radio sang by chicks, especially cute European-looking chicks. Go figure!

Like usual when he bought a new CD I would wait patiently for when he’d go to work, then sneak into his room so I could listen to the entire CD first and pick out all the “good” songs on it. lol

Weird sibling competitions on a very basic level. Sorry if you don’t understand, it’s a whole different dynamic on a psychological level.

Back to the story. It just so happened Natalie Imbruglia’s début album, Left of the Middle was an album that I could understand… on some weird level. Torn was a beautiful song that to this day I still sing along with. Eventually I made it past the first song and discovered a song called Pigeon’s and Crumbs. Now I liked to give the CD a good listen-through before opening the booklet and making sure the lyrics meant and said what I thought to have heard. Pigeons and Crows sounded more poetic to me but I grew up out in the country never having pigeons all around, pecking at crumbs and the like. I liked my version better but that’s beside the point; I felt the song could relate to my family situation at the time and thusly applied!

I didn’t understand the other songs but they eventually grew on me as the years passed by.

"I'm all outta faith..."

One of my favorite memories was when I stayed a week with a friend in San Antonio. If we weren’t somehow getting into trouble we would watch VH1’s Pop-up Video all day and Torn would come on at least 10 times. And I would find myself hoping every time that she would actually be, “lying naked on the floor”. But the illusion never changed.

While listening to the album I enjoyed how her song entitled Leave Me Alone put images in my head of rainy autumn days being observed from the window of some loft looking out over a busy city. Bright paint brushes filling a colorful coffee mug to one side of the window sill and a clear glass jar filled with bright flowers on the other. A woman wrapped in a bath towel leans in and sits on the sill then lights up a smoke and watches the rain pelt and cascade down the window. The woman was a tease and I liked it.

Other songs from her album had to grow on me as well like Smoke. I hated it for so long and now it’s a must-listen when plugging the CD into my car or home stereo.

When her second album came out I didn’t hear much about it on the radio. The pop sound was moving more toward dance and away from the urban post-grunge era. And where is LaBouche now? Hmm…?
So my brother and I both opted out of purchasing her second album and any following albums. I’ve since corrected that mistake and have enjoyed the albums following Left of the Middle but I still wonder: Where did Natalie Imbruglia go?

I saw her on a youtube video using sign-slanguage with some dude who made a career out of mocking Torn. It was only slightly amusing before Nat herself came on stage and performed with him! It made sense because it sounded like a different vocal recording of the song at the time – lo-and-behold…!

Now what?

The world needs your style of music and your huge eyes and lips gracing their stacks of CD’s!

That’s all I can say.

Sorry if you were hoping I had an answer to the question. What, you want me to do research or something? Ha! I laugh at you!

Natalie Imbruglia can be found with many more artists on either Twitter or facebook. I mean… where else would you go to fit your isocial needs?

-VR

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My phone has a mind of its own.

Yes, this is what I call a dry spell when it comes to blogging.

It’s what happens when you’re working on something outside the blog and you’re discouraged because you haven’t yet created an independent voice for yourself so that you can talk about any subject, add a little personality and have readers enthralled.

I watched Julie & Julia with my wife the other day and realized the potential this blog allows, but then I also realized that I’ve dug myself into a hole because I write only about animation, comics and all things nerdy (the gaming industry the exception) like me. What can I say, I love Superhero’s and I love animation and when they mesh well then you’ve got one hell of a ride!

Once in a while something new will come along and it’ll be post-worthy but so far nothing. Though my most recent blog about a local 2-screen theater in Garland follows more along the original “Clean Dallas” idea, but it’s one of those things you – in this case me – would find yourself in the middle of and just have to scrap and start over. I hate that. Such a waste of time really.

And I did just that. But what’s next?

When boredom strikes, pull out the Transformers!

Well, restaurant reviews are something I’d like to add. I’ve thought about Action figure reviews as well. I’m definitely open to suggestion(s) though.

Dry spells….
It’s not that there isn’t anything to write about, I just haven’t found it, at least not in the circles I follow. And the creative juices have dried up a bit – though that sounds kinda nasty.

Lately school has taken a good percentage of my focus. In order to progress I need a break.

Wait, what?

Yeah, a break. I’ve taken it and I’m trying to get back into the swing of things so if I have any regular readers out there please bear with me as I try to get this machine rolling once again.

Thanks for staying loyal, I’ll try not to disappoint or maybe I should try to disappoint and see if that’s a better goal to aspire to.

Who knows?

It could work!

-VagueRant

By the way… the layout of this post looked better when I was inserting the pictures than the real finished product. That sucks!

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You know, since I’m on a roll I guess I can post this trailer too.

When I think of being under the “red hood” it always brings me back to my ’88 Beretta. Yes, the car.

Hopefully I’ll get lucky again and get to put in a review before the release, but I believe the link I’ve posted for the trailer has that covered as well. But it won’t be as good as mine I’m sure!

Enjoy!

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