Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

RomeToad & Tadpolette

Act III, Scene 1

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mandatory Training

The Horror! The Horror!!

Whether you're in the corporate world or the public sector, those two words in the title should send chills down your spine...

Tomorrow I'm slated to spend the better part of 8 hours in a seminar on Risk Mitigation training. No, not a session on how to not play Risk, but instead play Monopoly or Boggle, but a whole day on how not to show your ass to the general public in a manner that would attract lawsuits.

I'm so tempted to start swilling vodka on the drive to work, so that by the time I'm in the conference room, the world will take on a rosy shine, and the instructor's voice will fade to a dull hum as I drool on my shirt in the corner.

Look, it's not that there won't be anything useful taught, it's just that I live this stuff every single day. Any email you get from me in an official capacity has about 12k of legalese pasted to the bottom. We don't EVER talk to the press, and no matter how much we suck up to the whiners and malcontents, sooner or later someone gets a wad of sand in their cooch and sues us all lopsided. Usually they win.

I wonder if there's any way to test out of this...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fun With Word Puzzles

Ignore The Subtle Subtext!

Fill in the blanks, then write an angry letter to the newspaper editor, if you're so inclined!

Friday, June 26, 2009

"In The Jailhouse Now..."

Adventures In The Greybar Hotel

I spent a good chunk of the day Thursday over at the Harris County Jail, aka Houston's 24-Hour Scumbag Storage Facility.

I was an invited guest, not an inmate. Well, I suppose upon reflection they're all invited guests too... In my case, though, I was free to leave on my own volition.

I was consulting on the addition of some specialized communications equipment that's getting installed in some of the prisoner "pods". 4 or 5 cellblocks are connected to a central dayroom, and the whole thing is called a "pod".

I have to say, the administration side of the facility is a pleasant and comfortable place. The side with the steel bars and wire-reinforced safety glass? Not so much...

Dealing with the public on my side of The Man's realm can be aggravating, but it's a cakewalk when compared to the shenanigans that the County folks have to deal with. I have to say, in 5 years of playing with The Man's equipment, never have I had to consider if it was urine, feces and vomit-resistant technology.

In addition to excreting bodily fluids on the equipment, the inmates also like to break things. You learn that the term "shatter-resistant" means "takes 5 hits to break instead of 2", and that a armored steel cable (like on a payphone handset) will snap like soggy spaghetti when a amped-up methhead goes to work on it.

There's a small city going in and out those bars on a daily basis. You can check out this link for the list of those arrested in the previous 24 hour period. I had no idea there that many knuckleheads on the loose. A bunch seem to be arrested for multiple traffic tickets and failure to appear in court.

Living a law-abiding life might not be the most exciting thing in the world, but it beats the hell out of crapping in a steel terlit in front of an audience, wearing an orange jumpsuit and laceless Keds, and eating green baloney sandwiches twice a day.
Pay those outstanding tickets, folks... The thug life seems WAY overrated.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Even More Foul Doggerel

Asking For Original Content On Hot Days Can Be Perilous...

Ode To A Product Of The Chicago Machine

Once long ago in the Land of Lincoln,
Lived a man whose digits were stinkin'.

He rarely washed his hands or his feet,
and indulged himself with a daily treat!

He'd sneak up behind some fellow Illini,
and ram a finger deep up their hiney!

Sometimes he'd decide to insert a toe,
but that usually led to tales of woe.

'Cause a finger poke could be withdrawn quickly,
'but a toe caught in a bunghole got really sticky!

He continued his perversion with no one the wiser,
because who would suspect the Community Organizer?

He parlayed his skill at ass-poking and running,
to a career in the Senate, a feat quite stunning!

The sky's the limit for a man with sphinctery skills,
even when you vote "Present" on most of the bills.

He bum-poked the frontrunner on the national stage,
and she fell by the wayside, shrieking with rage!

He charged towards the finish, sure of his winnin',
though a good chunk of voters still thought he was Kenyan.

And now he's the leader of these United States,
With his hand firmly grasped 'round the national prostate.

That lone finger became a fist up our national bum,
and it's gonna be there for the three years to come...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Separated At Birth?

Must Have Been All Those Years Spent Near Roseanne Barr...

John Goodman ain't lookin' too well these days. Is there an Addams Family revival that I'm not aware of?

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Return Of Colander Man!

Next Year, He'll Squeeze On A Chinoise...

Elisson's at it again...

El Estacionamientos Diabólicos

The Mysteries Of Living In Houston

I'll have to remember to ask the Banana Republican about the evils of parking lots down in Latin America, and how they got that way.

They must be horrifically dangerous places. I can tell this by the habits of the Hispanics that I see entering and leaving them.

OK, I might be doing a bit of racial profiling by saying that, but when 98% of the vehicles in question have either the local Hispanic radio station bumper sticker, or a huge decal of a Hispanic surname on the rear window, I'm gonna take a flyer and guess that the driver speaks Spanish as their native language!

OK, about these dangerous parking lots...

When driving in Houston, first you have to understand that the use of turn signals is largely regarded as an optional activity. Therefore, you're always on the lookout for the car in front of you to hit the brakes no more than 10 yards before their scheduled turn. This is a cross-cultural trait, one of the downsides of a melting pot society...

Next, when entering a parking lot from the adjacent street, almost without fail, the Hispanic driver will either come to a complete halt, or put the gearshift in Granny Low before slowly creeping into the parking lot, no doubt on alert for guerillas and the random wandering junta.

When leaving the parking lot, the opposite is true. The parking lot must be so frightening and/or traumatic that exiting cars do not brake at the lot edge and wait for a clear spot in traffic, but instead barrel out into traffic at a high rate of speed, often smoking their tires in their zeal to leave the parking lot behind.

Pity the poor driver that had the right-of-way on the thoroughfare. "Right-Of-Way" is one of those terms like "Legal immigration procedures", "self-funded medical insurance" and "Quit impregnating 13-year-old girls" that just doesn't seem to translate into Spanish.

Now, don't get me wrong, gringos are culpable of some pretty blatant vehicular assholery, but it mostly manifests as tailgating and driving at twice the speed limit on the access roads...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

How To Annoy A Tiger

Water Buffalo Farts Are The WORST!!

"Oh, NASTY!!! Who Broke Wind??"

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Riverbend Remembrance

Mountain Dew Or Die!!

Eric SWG posted a story about attending the Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga, TN. I had the pleasure of attending Riverbend back in the early 90's, when the band I was working for played a gig there.

It was June of 1993. The band I roadied for, called Killbilly, was on a summer tour all over the Central & Eastern US, and we'd been booked into several festivals.

For a band that played mostly in bars, festivals were a welcome addition to the tour. They paid a lot more, usually, and you got a much larger crowd. This was a huge plus for CD & T-shirt sales, and as roadie & "swagman", I got a cut of the gross sales. Usually, a festival meant you played on a big professional stage & had a real lightshow setup as opposed to a tiny riser in the back of a hole-in-the-wall club lit by a 60 watt bare bulb. As a scheduled performer, you got assistance with the load-in & load-out, and usually there was a greenroom with food & free drinks.

The band was scheduled for two 90 minute sets, one just before dusk, and one after the featured artist finished. I recall joking afterwards that Killbilly not only opened for Glenn Frey & Joe Walsh, they closed for them, too!

After the first set finished around dusk, the crowd drifted off towards the main stage and the other attractions. The band had a couple hours to kill, so beers were opened, and we grabbed some chow and hung out on the stage. It was great to look out at the lights of Chattanooga, and hear Frey & Walsh play "In The City" and other great songs from the Eagles & The James Gang & their solo stuff.

I got to see one of the most spectacular firework shows of my life that night. When it hit full dark, the rockets started flying up over the big steel girder bridge across the river and exploding above the water. A long stretch of sparkler fountains were lit on the bridge, making a shower of white sparks that looked like a burning waterfall. As the show reached a climax, they shot off dozens and dozens of salutes, the charges that just make a thunderous report and bright flash. There were so many detonating in the air you almost felt your heart skip a beat as the compression waves pounded your chest. I can only imagine what an artillery barrage is like, but this would have served for the soundtrack.

The crowd was fired up after the fireworks show and Frey & Walsh tearing up the main stage, and migrated over to the stage as the guys burned through their second set. Killbilly was Thrashgrass, Country Punk, a unique mix of mountain music and electrified mayhem. The Tennessee crowd ate it up, and screamed for more. I sold a sh!tload of 'Lone Star Posse' shirts that night with Killbilly's skull & crossbones "Uncle Baldy" logo...

It was a great night, one I remember often. If you get a chance to go to the Riverbend Festival, don't pass it up!

Monday, June 15, 2009

That's Not Right!

The Faster We Build You Up, The Faster We Tear You Down!

This showed up as a banner ad on Facebook this morning:

And people wonder why she took a break and checked into the Padded Cell Hotel for a while...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Nazi Zombies??

Someone Please Drag Eric SWG To See This!

ZOMG! It's Nazi Zombies!

This looks like a whole lot of fun. You got your sledgehammer-fu, your sickle-fu, your chainsaw-fu, your MG42-fu, and of course, the zombies will contribute their selection of dismembered teeth, hair & eyeballs!

The film is called Dead Snow, it opens Friday in limited release. If it's playing here in town I think I'll drag my lazy butt out to see it!

Enjoy the trailer! The zombie attack set to Beethoven's 9th is excellent!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Under Siege!

Bug Me Not!

I'm being bombarded by a constant stream of June bugs! They actually waited until June this year. Most years they're out by late April.

They're slapping up against my window, and won't stop as long as the room is lit up. I think they want to mate with the lamp on my nightstand...

Icky things. I need an iguana or a shitload of horny toads.

It Takes A Lot Of Candy To Fill An Elephant!

I'm Not Going To Try Pulling That Rope...

Gustavo couldn't wait to see the look on his daughter's face when she saw the piñata he got for her birthday party.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Proboscis Monkey Blues

You Know They Have To Be Thinking This!

"Mother Nature, she is a bitch!" thought the Proboscis Monkey. "Colobus monkeys get pretty black & white coats. Gibbons get to swoop around on long arms. Spider monkeys have long tails they can hang from! How cool is that?"

"Me? I get a scrotum on both ends..."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In The Presence Of Royalty!

I Probably Ought To Learn How To Bow & Scrape...

Wow. It's not often that you're treated to a glimpse of royalty. I'm kicking myself for not having a camera at hand to record the momentous occasion...

There I was, minding my own business, just putting gas into the Redneck Chariot, when the Royal Automobile approached the humble purveyor of gasoline & oil-related products.

I could tell he was of The Quality by the manner in which he approached, about 65 mph down the access road, slowing only at the last second by leaving about ten bucks worth of Goodyear Eagles smeared on the concrete.

The shark-nosed Corvette gleamed in the morning sun, the piss-yellow paint buffed to perfection. No doubt wanting to announce his presence to all and sundry, the Royal Personage blessed us all with numerous revs of the engine as he idled towards the pumps, the force of the exhaust blast enough to blow clean the parking lot. We were all most impressed.

His Majesty stopped at the lone full-service pump, and signaled his royal prerogative to be waited on instantly by laying his Royal Hand upon the horn and leaving it there for several seconds. When the humble attendant ventured out of the small office, I noticed he failed to genuflect or tug his forelock. I fear he will be flogged for his impertinence...

As the attendant lavished care upon the Corvette, the August Personage exited his conveyance and continued a loud conversation on his Bluetooth-equipped cellphone. As he spoke, he withdrew a second device and began texting furiously, pausing to peer at his reflection in the station window and primp himself accordingly.

He was a sight to behold... From his pointy-toed Italian shoes worn most dashingly with white crew socks, to the way the broadcloth cotton shirt almost entirely concealed his gotch-gutted figure. The black jacket was cunningly creased along the back, where the fabric strained to cover a body two sizes larger than the garment was meant to fit... This left about three inches of shirt cuff on display, where we could all see the cufflinks straining to maintain a grip on the sleeve constricting a well-fed wrist.

The hair of the Royal Personage was a wonder to behold. Some might call it a Jewfro lacquered down with hair gel, but I deduced it was likely a perm past its prime and allowed to poof out to cover a thinning scalp, then anchored by half a can of Aquanet.

The tank of the Corvette filled, His Majesty handed the attendant a wad of cash, still talking on his cellphone. He waved a 'hurry up' gesture to speed the return of his change as he fired up the Royal Automobile's engine and continued to blow clean the parking lot. The attendant returned, carrying bills and a handful of change, and was most graciously allowed to keep the coinage. That's true class, right there!

Away he rocketed, leaving another smear of expensive rubber on the pavement, leaving us to pursue the adventures of royalty, wherever they may be found.

I'll always treasure my encounter with The King Of The Douchebags!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Han Solo, P.I.

This Totally Would Have Worked As A Series!

I saw this linked to over at Tam's place this morning, and it was too good to not pass along!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Trekked Out

To Boldly Go... Home And Get Some Sleep.

Finally got around to seeing the latest incarnation of 'Star Trek' on the big screen last night. The last showing on a Sunday night is my preferred time, most of the cell-phone chatting teenyboppers and parents with screaming babies are already home, and not mucking up my cinema experience.

So, how was the movie?

Didn't much like it.

Oh, it was a whiz-bang popcorn muncher to be sure, but ultimately it was saddled with a half-ass plot, and a few too many technical gaffes that got under my skin and kept me from buying into the story 100%.

See, it's all fiction set in the Trek Universe, so my gripe is not the existence of transporter technology, or warp drives, or the sphere of cherry Jell-O that can kill planets. You take that as a given. What bugged me was, in no particular order, the ridiculous engineering & industrial design employed by the Romulans (who, in spite of rejecting logic, were still a ruthlessly efficient race)... the illogical architecture of the Vulcans... the haphazard command structure of Starfleet... the completely unnecessary industrial-sized Waring blender in the Enterprise... and so on.

I won't even go into the overblown character tropes. All I'll say is, if you're going to reboot the series, don't have the main characters act exactly like the originals. You might see an homage, I see a bunch of actors hamming it up.

There can be only one Kirk... and he must be Canadian, and have an awesome toupee...

Friday, June 05, 2009

What's Next? A Plague Of Frogs?

Someone Up There Absolutely Hates My Guts.

Just when you think things can't get any worse, they do...

OK, so I'm just barely staying afloat financially, trying to get the last bits of truck repair paid for before it's time for the Blownstar Blogfest. I got paid this morning, and had prepaid half the rent last month, so I had a bit of breathing room to get things done.

The thought of a mobile, solvent El Capitan angers the gods, however. This positive state of affairs could not stand!

So, I'm leaving for work this morning, and not 3 blocks from the house I completely flatten one of those three-wheel adult trikes when the rider pulled out into the street in front of me. You'd think that you'd see something that big, especially when it's equipped with a full canopy as well as a hefty abuela and her grandson riding in the rear basket. Nope, they came outta the sun, apparently. They didn't even register on my radar. It's a good thing the old lady was quicker on the brakes than I was, 'cause the first I noticed something was amiss, I already had her front tire wedged under mine. My tire, to say the least, was a hell of a lot bigger...

Fortunately, neither the old lady nor the child was hurt. Whatever this ends up costing me, it's a damn sight cheaper than having to live with the knowledge that I'd flattened two people on the pavement. It was a bloody near-run thing, though...

My neighbor from across the street happened to be on that corner hanging signs for a garage sale, and said I had definitely stopped at the stop sign. It's a good thing he was watching, 'cause I couldn't have said whether I did or not. I'm in the habit of stopping for them, after all, but who knows?

The old lady spoke virtually no English, but another lady out watering her yard spoke Spanish, and we managed to swap contact info. The abuela was pretty pissed off at me, but she was dead-set against filing a police report or calling out an ambulance, even though I was pretty insistent about it. All she wanted was a new trike. I pressed about insurance, 'cause then I'd have to get a police report filed, but she wanted no part of that. I'm thinking perhaps she's wanting to avoid contact with the authorities. Damage to the truck was inconsequential, just a shattered turn signal lens where the handlebar poked it out.

I called Carlos the Unreliable, the contractor who's been helping remodel the house, and gave him the old lady's contact info. He confirmed that she'll settle for a new trike, and it looks like it's going to cost me somewhere around $350. Comparable models I priced on the internet are running close to that, so Adios! on the brake job until another 2 weeks.

Maybe I'll ask her to give me the wrecked trike, and I'll carry it around in the truck bed as a trophy... Mount the handlebars on my wall or something...

Sigh. OK, keep repeating it to yourself... "At least no one got hurt... At least no one got hurt..."

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Tearing Up Tarrant County

Poking Fun At Suburbanites

In today's 'Something Positive' comic strip, author/artist Randy Milholland tears a strip off of the City of Euless. As a former resident of Tarrant County, TX from 1990 to 1998, I have to say he's right on target.

There are some parts of Tarrant that aren't too bad. Parts of Ft. Worth, Arlington, Mansfield, even Lake Worth and Southlake aren't too bad. OTOH, the trio of communities known as Hurst, Euless & Bedford Worst, Useless & Deadford are a sun-baked suburban hell. I hate to even drive through.

Fort Worth & Arlington ought to switch to an Imperial form of government, and start forcibly annexing all the little bedroom communities that litter Tarrant County, leaving the severed heads of the former City Councilmen mounted on pikes outside the city limits...

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

More Mini Movie Reviews!

Like Real Movie Reviews, Only Smaller!

Here's the latest roundup of flicks I've recently viewed. All should be available through Netflix or at your local purveyor of rentable movies.

1. 'The Spirit' - A dismal dump of a movie, trying to imitate & thereby capitalize on the success of '300' and 'Sin City'. Based on the comic strip by Will Eisner, it's a pain to sit through, and even some hammy scene-chewing by Samuel L. Jackson fails to liven up this gloomfest. Pass this one by.

2. 'Transporter 3' - OK, I'm embarassed to admit I rented this one. I should have quit the Transporter franchise after the first movie... The car stunts aren't as good, the fight scenes are kind of humdrum, and the love interest is a butterface PITA. Jason Statham has a wry, low-key sense of humor about the entire affair. He deserves a better vehicle than this flick.

3. 'The Wrestler' - Holy shit, Mickey Rourke can actually act! This is a fascinating film, not just for the interaction between Rourke and co-stars Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood, but for the light it shines on the seedy underside of the professional wrestling circuit. Painful to watch at times, it's an unflinching look at a man desperately clinging to the only life he knows, aware that the end is creeping up faster than he can prepare for it. This one's worth watching, and not just for Tomei's nekkid rack. That's a huge plus, though...

4. 'Taken' - Ex-CIA "problem solver" Liam Neeson's daughter flies to Paris, gets kidnapped by Albanian slavers and sold to sleazy Ay-rabs. This annoys Liam Neeson to a great degree. Moral of the film? Don't fuck with Liam Neeson's daughter. Even without Qui-Gon Jinn's lightsaber, Neeson kicks all kinds of Albanian and Arab ass all over Paris. You got your kung-fu, gun-fu, knife-fu, Jeep-fu, & alternating current-fu. Extremely farfetched plot twists, but for those not too fond of Arabs or Albanians, it's a fun show.

5. 'Traitor' - Ex-Special Forces demolitions expert Samir Horn hooks up with Islamo-baddies, and Kaboom-age ensues. But is everything what it seems? Starring Don Cheadle, it's a fast-moving tale of terror and espionage. Good supporting roles by Guy Pearce and Neal McDonough as FBI agents. Don Cheadle's one of my favorite actors working today, and brings a lot to the role of the conflicted Samir. Well worth watching, especially for the big kaboom at the end. I have to admit, I didn't see that coming...

6. 'Zack & Miri Make A P()rno' - It's a Kevin Smith film! Of course I enjoyed it! OK, for those not living in the View Askew-niverse, Zack & Miri (played by Seth Rogen & Elizabeth Banks) are two underemployed slackers so behind on the bills they resort to making a p()rn film for quick cash. The initial idea ("Star Whores"!) goes awry, and a forced change of filming locale to Rogen's coffee shop workplace sparks the idea for "Swallow my Cockuccino".
It's rude, it's crude, and it's completely hilarious. Real-life p()rn stars Traci Lords and Katie Morgan add to the fun, and Jason Mewes is a riot as Lester "The Molester" Cockenschtuff, who wants his p()rno name to be "Pete Jones".

I'm El Capitan, and until next time, the balcony is now closed...

Monday, June 01, 2009

Adventures In Reloading

Still With Ten Fingers And Two Eyeballs!

We should have filmed it for YouTube... We'd rush to the top of the comedy charts! It's... Laurel and Hardy Reloading!!

Yes, it was Reloading Day for El Capitan yesterday, where I went to simply dip my toe in the waters of metallic cartridge reloading, and ended up mired in sludge up to my kneecaps.

OK, maybe it wasn't that bad, but I've got a LONG way to go before I reach any kind of proficiency in reloading ammo.

I wandered up to northwest Houston Sunday to procure two bottles of gunpowder from 10-Ring, then moseyed over to the Cisco Kid's place to set up the progressive press for a batch of .45 Long Colt. The Cisco Kid & I went halves on a Lee Loadmaster press and all the assorted gadgets needed to make ammo, and he had already reloaded several hundred rounds of 9mm ammo, and had the press mostly figured out.

With the assistance of some online videos, we managed to get approximately 312 little tiny fiddly bits bolted into place on the press, and after much griping and gnashing of teeth, got the automatic powder measure worked out before we blew up his living room.

In theory, reloading is simple. Put a bunch of cleaned cases in the feeder tubes, and yank the lever. The cases auto-feed into the shell plate, go into the decapping die, and the old primer is removed. Each pull on the lever advances the plate, and the case is primed, then filled with a set amount of powder, then the bullet is seated, then crimped, and finally it dumps out into a hopper.

In reality, things are a bit different. F'rinstance, the auto feeder needs to be jiggled every time you go to a filled case tube, or the case goes in cattywampus. Then, the primer seating mechanism beshits itself on a random basis, either squeezing in a primer sideways, injecting a primer into the feed chute bass-ackwards, or failing to prime altogether. The powder measure seemed to work OK, and threw reasonably consistent charges. We couldn't get a setting for 5.5 grains of Trail Boss powder, and had to settle for 5.2 grains. It should still get the bullet down 4 5/8 " of barrel!

Most of my fired cases were overlength by a (#*%hair, but they crimped OK, and the overall length of the cartridge was within spec. The dozen or so that miked a bit long, we ran back through the crimp die, and they shortened up to under the max length.

We had some issues with primers not seating deep enough. I think that was due to my not getting enough arm into the lever action. The Cisco Kid's got these long gibbon arms, and was able to give it enough ooomph to make it work. When he mounts the press on the custom frame he's building, it'll be tall enough I can make it work reliably.

We quit for a dinner break, and that was perhaps a mistake, since it broke the rhythym. One of us had turned off the powder feed before leaving, and when we sat down to load the last 20 or so rounds after dinner, we were merrily chunking away at the press and had no clue we were loading "blanks". I didn't discover this until I had dumped those 20 rounds into the box full of loaded rounds, and went to flush out the measure. Ooops....

So, it'll be a long evening measuring each round, setting aside the ones that weigh 5.2 grains less than the average and pulling the bullets. There's also going to be some variation in weight since I used 5 or 6 different brands of brass, so odds are I'm going to have a squib load at the range, and have to pound a bullet out of the forcing cone!

Despite all the hiccups, I'm reasonably sure I've got 175+ rounds of .45 Long Colt ammo to feed through my six-shooter. I don't have a breakdown of cost per round yet, but compared with a retail price of $40 for 50 rounds, I'm way under that. I've got to factor in the cost of the press & tools, but this first batch looks to cost somewhere in the 10-12 cents per round range. I had the bullets & cases, just needed powder ($14.99/9 oz, used approx 3 oz.) & primers ($45/1000). Next time, I'll have to purchase bullets, and that will raise the tariff a bit, but it's still more economical than paying retail!