A Fork in the Road

As we roll into day 30 of National Blog Posting Month and Nanopoblano, I find myself surprised to have completed the entire month.   When Rara asked me in late October to participate, I initially said that my life is too crazy-busy right now to do a blog post every day.  Nevertheless, on the first of November, I posted a thing.  On the second of November, I posted another thing.

One a day, every day, until we reached today.   I didn’t even write ahead and schedule posts to go up in the future until Thanksgiving- I wrote a new post each day, or had three-fourths of a post almost ready to go in the drafts folder, needing some polish.

The truth is that I’m kind of grateful to this little project, because it’s been a wonderful distraction.   I’ve mentioned only a few times in the blog that my employment is ending on the fifteenth of December, but I haven’t really shared just how terrified that makes me.   Writing something new every day has helped me to stay sane and to keep the stress at bay.  I didn’t know that my blog could do that-  I’ve never really used it that way before now.

I didn’t realize until just recently how much of my identity is tied up in what I do.   And I also wrote a while back about how my highly specialized product knowledge will be useless after this job ends.

This is a fear that I have-  I worry that my skills won’t transfer to a new job, or that even after more than fifteen years doing tech work, I won’t be any different than any other resume on some hiring manager’s desk.   I worry that I won’t stand out enough to get hired.  I worry that if I do get hired, I’ll hate the job and be stuck in a soul-crushing perdition from which I cannot escape.

I worry, also, that this might be the last time in my life that I can really choose a career path different from the one I’ve been on.  I’m two days from 44, and I still haven’t got the foggiest idea what I want to be when I grow up.

I don’t really know if I want to keep doing this kind of work.  I don’t really know where I want to live, although Orlando and Portland are both very appealing to me.  (And, frankly, Orlando is the more likely of the two because it’s right there and it has Disney!)

The image attached to this post is my laptop wallpaper right now, because I find myself  at a fork in the road.   For just this moment, I’m not attached to a lease.  I have, thanks to some creative application of time off, roughly six actual days left in the office before I’m unemployed.

And I don’t know what to do next.

Except to keep blogging,  I guess.   Probably not every day, though, because I have a feeling things are about to get a lot busier around here.

fork-in-the-road

What was your favorite post from my last thirty days of bloggery?

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?

My Favorite Scream

Have you ever heard of the Wilhelm Scream?  It’s been in over 200 movies, and it’s so recognizable that if you didn’t notice it before reading this post, I’m sure you’ll start to notice it everywhere.

It was introduced to modern cinema by all-around amazing sound guy Ben Burtt when he was designing the sound for Star Wars in 1977- he used it for a sequence where Luke shoots a Stormtrooper across a chasm while trying to escape the Death Star.  When the trooper falls, you hear the Wilhelm Scream.

Ben Burtt didn’t create the sound, though-  he just found it in the studio sound archives, on a reel labeled “Man being eaten by alligator.”  The scene described there is from the 1951 movie, Distant DrumsIn that movie, a cowboy in the Everglades was indeed eaten by an alligator, yelling out the scream as he is dragged underwater.

The scream was used again in the 1953 movie, The Charge at Feather River, and it’s heard by several different people as they die.  One of them is a guy named in movie dialogue as Private Wilhelm, and he makes the scream when he is shot in the left leg with an arrow.

When Ben Burtt found the sound on the “Man being eaten by alligator” reel, he also found the Private Wilhelm footage, and it was Ben Burtt who named it the Wilhelm Scream.  He went on to re-use the Wilhelm in all the remaining Star Wars movies as well as the Indiana Jones movies.  It wasn’t long before other sound designers started to use the Wilhelm in other movies, and now it’s all over the television and movie landscape, including Toy Story, Batman Returns, Aladdin, Howard The Duck, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hobbit, Lethal Weapon 4, and many many more.

Everything up until this point is material that I knew as I began to write this post.  There’s one interesting fact that I didn’t know until I started researching to write this up:  It is now widely believed that the voice of the Wilhelm Scream is none other than Sheb Wooley, known to most for his novelty song, “The Purple People Eater.”  Ben Burtt found notes at Warner Brothers which indicated that Wooley was on a short list of people who recorded dialogue for Distant Drums, and he recorded material for several types of screams.

Here’s two short compilations of a bunch of Wilhelm Screams:

What’s the last movie you saw containing a Wilhelm Scream?

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?

A Speedster, an Archer, and a Kryptonian Walk Into a Bar

I mentioned this a few posts back, but tonight is the start of a four-way crossover on all the CW network’s superhero shows.   It starts towards the end of tonight’s Supergirl, continues tomorrow on Flash, then on to Arrow on Wednesday, concluding with Legends of Tomorrow on Thursday.

This is the closest thing we’ve ever seen to a live-action Justice League.   It’s already better than next year’s Justice League movie with emo-Flash, Aqua-grunge-man, and Batfleck.

Just look at this line-up!   This picture contains Supergirl, Green Arrow, Flash, Firestorm, Atom, Vixen, and a bunch of other people!     Honestly, this is the closest we’ve ever come in live action to the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, which was always kind of amazing and wonderful.

fourwayteamup

I’ve been enjoying the hell out of The Flash ever since his first pre-lightning appearance on Arrow in season two.  I love that they leaned into the comic book aspects and showed that not everything has to be darkness and grunge and pain.   In this respect, the DC television universe is infinitely better than the DC movie universe, which was so loathe to do Superman as bright and hopeful that they didn’t even call him Superman until the last few minutes of Man of Steel.

At the beginning of this season of Supergirl, they brought Superman onto the show and he was everything that the movie Superman isn’t.  He was charming and colorful and true to the original comic vision for the character.   He was optimistic and hopeful, which is how Big Blue is supposed to be.  I feel like the people behind the movie iteration have forgotten this, if they ever knew it.

On the television side, however, they definitely know it.  Superman, Supergirl, and Flash are all characters who inspire hope.  That’s part of why Arrow has floundered a bit since the first two seasons-  this version of Arrow is heavily Batmanned-   full of darkness and broody angst.   (And let’s face it- the 1941 first appearance of Green Arrow was obviously trying to cash in on the success of the 1939 first appearance of the Caped Crusader, right down to the Arrow-Car.)

It’s kind of interesting that although Arrow paved the way for the current crop of CW Superhero shows, it’s the one that is the least comfortable with embracing the fantastical nature of comic book heroes.  Arrow has, for the most part, tried to keep things grounded.  They didn’t do superpowers until after the Flash had premiered, and they waited until season four to bring up the idea of magic, not counting the Lazarus Pit.  Even with powered characters like Firestorm and Hawkgirl running around the “Arrowverse,” the show that started it all still prefers to work with non-powered characters.

That’s part of the fun, for me though-  one of my favorite parts of bringing the Flash into the Arrowverse was seeing Diggle’s reaction (and stunned disbelief) at what Barry could do.   The first time these two had a proper team-up, I was super psyched, even though Oliver is kind of a dick to Barry most of the time.

The cross-network Flash-Supergirl crossover last year was much more satisfying.  Barry is way more at home in Kara’s world than in Oliver’s.  The entire episode, from start to finish, is just fun as heck.   (Kara’s reaction when Barry demonstrated his super-speed by getting everyone in the room ice cream is one of the best moments on television so far this year.) The Legends of Tomorrow, while not the strongest show in the current line-up is still entertaining enough, and it takes its tone cues more from Flash than from Arrow.

Tonight, the whole lot of them start to battle an honest-to-goodness alien invasion.  It’s gonna be great.

And I can’t wait to see how Diggle reacts to Supergirl.

Are you a DC or a Marvel?   What’s your favorite live-action superhero adaptation?

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?

Three short thoughts about hair.

Sometimes, a string of  semi-random thoughts sits in my draft folder for so long that I give up on the idea that they’re part of a longer post and just use them as-is.  This is one of those times.   Just roll with it.    Longer posts resume tomorrow!

1) Sometimes, I use Amelie’s shampoo instead of my own. I just like the smell of it.  I’ve also learned over time that I really like the smell of coconut in hair products, but I can’t stand shaved coconut on pastries.

2) I hate shaving with the fire of a thousand suns, but I hate being unshaven, too.  I thought about laser hair removal for my face a bit.  I know someone who had that done and he only has to shave about once a month now.  I always have other things to spend my money on, though.  Besides, you never know when you’ll have to go on the run and will need to grow a disguise-beard.

3) Speaking of shaving, I think I have shaving gnomes.  There’s a large-ish bald spot on my left shin, close to my ankle.  It’s on the front of the leg, and it’s super smooth.  Logic dictates that it’s probably from the way I cross my legs at work, but I’ve spent lots of time crossing my legs in various comfortable ways to try to duplicate that rubbing, and none of them contact my shin on top of the bald spot.  I have not been able to figure out exactly how I’m rubbing my shin at the point of baldness. So: gnomes!   Gnomes with Nair!

I usually try to end my posts with a question, but I honestly can’t think of one for this topic that wouldn’t be patently ridiculous.

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?

The Best Of.

Watching blog statistics is an infurating hobby.   I’ve been writing here now for just over five years, and no matter what I do, the same two posts are always at the top of my stats.

1)  ICE, ICE, Baby! (A Beginner’s Guide To The Deutsche Bahn) – Written in early 2013, almost halfway through my time in Germany, this is a fairly detailed how-to styled post about how to use the rail system in Germany.  I took a lot of time to write this one, and gathered a ton of photographs from my own travels.   I left the comments open for the first couple of years, and I would routinely get comments from people about to go on their first German rail adventure, seeking advice.    I still get the occasional question through normal e-mail about this one, and it is always, always, always at the top of my stats for the most visits on any given day.

2)  Germany’s Most Dangerous Export: Kinder Surprise Eggs – This post from late 2013 is the second busiest post on my entire blog.  These little chocolate eggs are illegal to import into the United States, with a very steep fine per-egg if you get caught bringing one through customs.  I see them for sale from time to time in places like Sawgrass Mills, and I haven’t the foggiest idea how they got them through customs.  Rumors persist that the ban has been lifted, but I haven’t seen anything official to confirm that and I guess regular google searches about Kinder Eggs bring up my post.

The third place for top post is usually the most recent thing I’ve posted.   There are a few older posts that I really enjoyed putting together, though.  Sometimes I wish some of these would be in the top stats instead.

1)  Grokking Expatriates in Sci-Fi – This is another post from early 2013, and it’s one of the few posts where I got really geeky.  I went through an insanely long list of television, movie, comic, and literary characters out of the sci-fi genre who could be considered expatriates, and I grouped them into categories I made up.  This post was so much fun that it’s the first and only time that I’ve ever been Freshly Pressed.  (Thanks again for the nomination, Rara!)

2) Last Looks – I wrote this in late 2014, as I was preparing to move back to the United States.  It’s a long list of things that I thought I would miss about Germany, and things that I wouldn’t miss.  I also mentioned a lot of stuff that I was looking forward to about being back in the US, and I was right about everything except the cell phone signal.  That still sucks.

3) – Hunting Krampus in Berchtesgaden – Besides being a fascinating look into holiday traditions that are a little bit less tame than modern Santa, this post is a very fun look at the time in late 2013 that I went on a Krampus hunt with a friend from work.

4) Any of my travel posts.   I’ve written up many fantastic trips, with lots of great photos.  For some of my favorite examples, check out Cairo, Budapest, or Reykjavik.  I’m immensely proud of some of the posts I’ve written up about my travels.

What gets the most traffic from your blog?

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?