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Dear WordPress Readers: Smirk has a New Home

September 22, 2010

Well, its official, Smirk has a new home! It’s actually been official since August 25th, but being a bit overzealous and focusing mostly on that, I forgot to mention on my WordPress site that Smirk as moved to http://www.richardtimothy.com/ So please check it out. If you have been coming here to get caught up on Smirks and have not seen any, I do apologize for not thinking to do this sooner.

On a plus note though, there are a month’s worth of Smriks for you to catch up on.

On one small side note: Because I changed my host, this means that my e-mail subscriptions host and RSS feed subscriptions have changed as well. So this is a little public service announcement to let you know that if you had subscribed to the old site, that you will need to re-subscribe to the new site.

Again, Smrik’s new home is at:

http://www.richardtimothy.com/

I look forward to seeing you there. Cheers!

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A RiffTrax Reefer Madness Review

August 23, 2010

So last Thursday, the 19th, I and a few of friends, made it to the RiffTrax Live! performance at one of the local theaters. Now usually when I mention RiffTrax I have to give a brief history about what RiffTrax is. If you already know, feel free to skip the next paragraph. If you don’t, a little history never hurt anyone… except all the people that were harmed in the making of the history involved… right! So about the history of RiffTrax, in order for me to do that I need to first tell you a little about their origins.

RiffTrax is essentially the love child of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) and short lived Film Crew. MST3K made a cult name for itself doing the very thing that we all do when watching something “sort of” to “epically” lame on the television, which is… making fun of it with your own open commentary. MST was a show about watching people watching bad movies while making fun of it. After the show ended, the three guys that finished the series started a new venture called the Film Crew. After a few hang-ups there, namely MST owner Jim Mallon (who, in my opinion, is kind of a douche bag) told the distributor of the DVDs that he would pull all future MST title distribution unless they passed on the Film Crew series, the Film Crew ended and RiffTrax began.

I know, it’s a lot of exposition just to get to the point, but I think it helps those who have no idea what RiffTrax is. A RiffTrax Live! event is where the RiffTrax crew do a live performance in a theater where you get to watch them on stage making fun of a movie. In some cases they broadcast this live event to a bunch of other theaters across the country. This is what I went to and enjoyed last Thursday.

Having been to a few of these broadcast events now, and being an MST3K fan that treads somewhere around of the edge of the “devoted” to “ludicrous” waters, I always know I’m in for a good time. One of the best things about these events is that you are surrounded by like-minded and like-humored people, people who are there because they too love MST. The audience is full of that ready to laugh energy. It’s infectious and it makes the whole event that much more entertaining. The experience did offer two new additions that I had not experienced before, namely Frank and Dwight… two of the friends that join me for the show were pretty much MST virgins.

Ok, so maybe Dwight had gotten to second base with an MST episode or two before, but that’s about it. Frank had heard about it, but I don’t think he’d ever had a full and true MST experience… which, technically, he still hasn’t, but he will. I can say that neither are RiffTrax virgins anymore. Not that it was ever on their “bucket list”, but at least now they can now put it on the list and cross it off at the same time. Also, both are newly devoted fans to the riffing on movies experience. I must say, there is something incredibly satisfying about introducing friends to one of your favorite things in the world and having them become fans of the art that is MST.

It felt a little like saving the Oompa-Loompas’ from total destruction and introducing them to a new life filled with songs and candy… and what really kind of comes across as slavery… hmmm, ok bad example. I guess you could say it’s more like smoking… minus the disgusting, smelly, smoky, cancer causing affects. What I mean is when a smoker meets someone who is also a smoker there is a sort of bond, an unspoken connection to that other person, I guess the same could be said for scrap booking… and I know I feel the same way when I learn that someone loves MST3K.

So what did we watch? Reefer Madness… in color no less. If there is one thing this 1930’s propaganda film can teach you about pot, it’s how to laugh at people who smoke too much of it. It really was a grand time, accompanied by a few really crappy special effects and some “crazy eyes” camera angles that will keep you giggling for a good two or three days after. Frank and Dwight loved it, which I loved because, guess what that means? Yep, I’ve got some MST/RiffTrax/Cinematic Titanic parties to plan. One universal truth about MST is that, even if they are fun to watch, they are so much better when you are watching them with friends that are enjoying them as well.

The point I wanted to make with all this is this… tomorrow, August 24th they are doing an Encore performance of the Reefer Madness RiffTrax Live! event. If you are a fan, but missed it, or didn’t even know about it, tomorrow is your chance to check it out. If you enjoy MST3K at all it’s well worth the price of the ticket. I just hope you live in a town that will be showing the Encore performance. Hope you can make it.

Click here to check and see if it’s playing in a theater somewhere close to you.

If you did happen to make it to the show, what did you think?

Google Images, key words: RiffTrax Live, second base, and Reefer Madness.

Eat, Work, Sleep – Part 1: Eat

August 20, 2010

I think the suggestion behind this Smirk originated from the up can coming Eat, Pray, Love film starring Lyle Lovett’s ex-wife, which is a bestselling novel of the same title that does not star Julia… which I never did read. So the suggestion was to take a look at a few of those everyday things that most of us do every day. The idea was to take a look at things that all of us experience on a regular basis, and since the Pray and Love concepts are no concepts that everyone seems to adhere to, the alteration of them to Work and Sleep seemed a logical fit. It’s clear that this topic is a touch to vase to make into just one Smirk, so let’s take a look at each one of these topics, one at a time.

There is always going to be occasional breaker of these every day functions and since today is about the eating aspect of our day, let’s begin with a few breakers of this functionality. This list includes but is not limited to:

  • Kids on the wrestling team try to make weight
  • Supermodels
  • Jockeys
  • Cheerleaders
  • Actors trying to downsize for a role
  • People trying to fit into their wedding dress for the big day
  • Or those people in South Korea who died playing Starcraft because they were and forgot to eat for a few days

And the list goes on… well it would if I would to continue to keep writing them (feel free to add to this list in the comments)

I do concede that there are some situations, such as authentic homeless people or people starving in Third World countries that could go on the list, but I feel this is a different classification. These are people who want to eat, but have no food, where as the other is people have food, but choose not to eat it.

Traditionally eating is something that people schedule time from three times a day… unless you are a Hobbit (in which case we get that you eat a lot, so please shut the hell up about for the next three hours). Each meal time has its own name as well. First is breakfast… our egg, bacon, and pancake themed meal of the day. Then there is lunch, which for most of us is our get-up-and-out-of-the-office meal or, for management types is the meal-to-skip-so-we-can-go-home-early meal. Finally we have dinner/supper, which is our end of day reflection meal… or the drive-thru sack filled with food-like substances that claim is happy, but in the end is only going to make you sad. Not to mention is a fuel source for assisting people in becoming factories of hideously repugnant odor production. Still, dinner seems to be the one meal of the day that has a bit more of a togetherness feel around to it.

I always smile when I hear people say they are having breakfast for dinner. Oddly though, breakfast is not just a meal time, it also constitutes a very specific collection of food. It seems to be the only one too. You never hear people say, “Let’s have dinner for breakfast,” or “Let’s have lunch for dinner.” Or some other variation, but breakfast is a meal that has the label “breakfast” associated to the food as well, no matter when you eat it.

This does make me wonder about people with different sleep schedules. Let’s say you work the graveyard shift. You get up around 6 PM to have dinner with the family and get ready for work. Now, since that dinner with the family is technically your breakfast, does it become breakfast or is it still your dinner? Which means lunch in your breakfast, and breakfast is your dinner. Do these names change because the meals and meal times change, or do you keep the meal time associated to the traditional time frame they are for? (If you have an answer, please feel free to share it.)

I will state that for the record, I am a big fan of eating… it’s one of those things I enjoy a lot, and as a plus it’s one of those things a do a regular basis that helps keep me alive. Likewise, I accept that if I ever decide to quit eating, then my life expectancy will decrease dramatically. Funny thing about eating, it can also be one of those things that can kill you as well… for example, peanuts are not everyone’s friend.

The thing I am discovering while writing this is that this is a topic that will continue to give me something to Smirk about. Just today I had a potluck at work… and believe me, there is a Smirk already forming in my head about that one.

Eating, we all do it. It’s one of those things that make us all the same… and all different, depending on what it is you eat. As Wikipedia says about the topic, “Eating is the ingestion of food to provide for all humans and animals nutritional needs, particularly for energy and growth.” It not so much funny as it is true, but what makes it funny is our interaction with it. Things like pie eating contests, without the use of your hands. That one always strikes me disturbingly amusing to watch. There is the never ending fascination that Americans have with trying to deep-fry everything… and I mean EVERYTHING. There is also the practice of feeding babies new flavors just so you can laugh at their facial reactions.

So here’s to eating, for making us happy when it tastes sooo good. For making us sad, when we eat something that our body did not appreciate. For bringing people together and constantly allowing us to evolve out senses as we explore with trying new things to eat. And finally, for enabling us to make those uncontrollable “Mmmmmm” sounds that expel from our mouths when we taste something so good that only that sound, followed by our eyes rolling into the back of our head can truly convey its grandeur. It is the goal of every great chef to be able to create a dish and demands that reaction from the eater. And when it happens, it is always worth it.

So, what are some of your feeling about this whole eating habit?

Image Sources:
Google Images, key words: eating, breakfast, may contain nuts, deep fried pickle, and savoring food.

Doppelgangers and Smirky Suggestions

August 17, 2010

If there is one thing about the world wide series of tubes that we call the web, it’s that it makes it much easier to find your doppelganger. In my case, he was the one to invite me to be his friend on Facebook. Well, maybe he’s not exactly a doppelganger, but when I first saw his name on my invite list, I did have to wonder. His name is Timothy Richard, and… well, I think that’s about all the doppelness involved. I mean we look nothing alike and since he’s really a nice guy, and not evil in any way, it pretty much blows the whole evil twin element out of the doppelganger connection.

In fact, he doesn’t even have a goatee. I mean come on, if there is only one universal truth that we should all have learned from the Mirror, Mirror episode of the original Star Trek series it’s that your evil twin has a goatee. And, since I’m the one with the facial hair I know that this Timothy chap is in no way a doppelganger… ahhh, damn it! I guess based on Star Trekian logic that makes me the evil one.

I suppose that’s the problem with facial hair. You’ll always be mistaken as the evil twin… if you happen to have a twin. Although I’m not sure how that works with the opposite sex. I don’t remember any evil goatee toting female twins on that episode. Maybe their hair is the exact opposite color instead?

So this Timothy guy (with the doppelgangish name) sent me a message the other day. No, he has no intentions on taking over the world… but, since he’s the good one I guess it would be more accurate to say he has no plans on establishing world peace and blaming it all on me. Does the evil twin thing work like that? In the whole cross dimensional playground of life, does your evil twin, if you are the evil one, do acts of kindness in your name? Thus doing things you would never have done and blaming you for them?

Makes you wonder… I mean in a cross dimension realm of evil twins is there a vegetarian Jeffrey Dahmer who has opened a soup kitchen to feed the homeless? Or a Saddam Hussein who has been received the Humanitarian or the Year award. Or how about an Ingrid Newkirk (PETA Founder) that owns a chain of Steakhouses. Oh, or a Stephenie Meyers that no one has ever heard of, but writes really good novels.

The point is (I knew we’d get there eventually) Timothy’s message. It was a Smirk request, which I liked on two accounts. I like that idea and I like that he asked me to Smirk about it. I would have started on today if it had not been for that whole doppelganger tangent. Thanks for making the request Timothy. I’ll get Smirking on the suggestion soon.

Timothy’s suggestion did get me thinking. I’ve had people in the past send me a news article, or comment on something, or ask me to tell the story about a random reference I made to them at some point, and a number of these have turned into their very own Smirk. I don’t recall anyone actually making the request to make it one though. I think the request to write a Smirk about a specified topic is a little different experience for me, but I appreciate the interaction involved with sending me the suggestion.

So, I want to open it up and invite any of you motivated to do so to send me a Smirk request, suggestion, idea, tangent, etc. E-mail it to me at: rtimothy1@hotmail.com or send a message to me via Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you and seeing what happens as a result.

Image Sources:
Google Image, key words: doppelganger, evil twin, and suggestion box.

So Much Writing…

August 16, 2010

I suppose I could follow that up with “so little time,” but I do think that if I were to hire someone I could dictate too it would reduce the ‘so much’ portion of the writing and increase the ‘so little’ time factor. Hmm… no it’s still the same, just someone else would be doing a lot of the work and truth be told, I’d feel a little dirty inside for dictating. Besides it’s amazing how much rewriting I do between getting the thought from my head and onto paper (even if that paper is a visual aesthetic on my computer monitor), and published as a Smirk.

Over the past two weeks, the Smirks have been slowing down a bit. Not because of lack of motivation to write, it’s just the focus has changed a little. I’ve been putting in a lot of focus on getting my novel revised, and part focus has resulted in me putting together a bit of a review committee for my novel… or as I like to call it, ‘The Roy Mastermind Group.’ The group is a committee of willing, able, and literate (which is very important) people that I send my revisions to once a week. They, during that week, review what I’ve written and send it back with grammar corrections, notifications of missing words and bloody long sentences that really need to be shortened down a bit to keep the flow going, and pointing out sections that are confusing and/or need to be expanded on for the sake of reader clarity.

So far it’s been a brilliant and grand help. One of the things I like the most is that it gives me accountability buddies, which are people that I am accountable toward in regards to setting and keeping deadlines. It keeps me on task with writing the novel and in return they have committed to review, edit, and resend by the end of the week. I love them! We also plan on meeting once every two weeks to talk about the process, to share some of the reworked sections and to play around with some ideas that I’ve had in regards to the characters development. We also discuss things that might need to be removed completely, or moved to a later section of the book.

The first meeting was this past weekend and was a rather grand time. I made sandwiches and they showed up with beer. When the beer proved to be too hoppy I opened some wine and we got to work. I would like to point out that if you do choose to try this review committee system out for your own writing, as a general rule of thumb, keep the wine consumption to a minimum until you are finished reviewing and going over notes. The reason being, by the time you’ve opened your third bottle, everyone is in full agreement that the book is “… really, really good and if people don’t they can just…” Yeah, the productivity and effectiveness of the group can sway a bit in those moments.

Another update that I feel is worth mentioning is the Smirk eBook I was going to do of my first 100 Smirks. Well, it is still in the works. However, I noticed as I began going thought the first 100 Smirks that not all of them are Smirks. Some are updates, some were a collection of funny images I had a friend e-mail me, and some use videos. This means there needs to be some rewrites for a few of these because eBooks don’t have hyper-links or allow for embedded videos from YouTube. Yes, it has become a little more complicated that I originally thought. Still, I have the goal to get the Smirk book done and available, and I will… eventually. I’ll keep you all posted as the process progresses further.

One last little update, I’ve started looking at switching everything from my blog’s WordPress url and will be moving it all over to a .com site. I’ve had one meeting about this already and it seems like the next natural progression of my blog. I am a little excited about it and it’s something that I’m looking forward to.

So there you have it, a few updates about things of a Smirk nature… topic anyway. I did have a friend make a Smirk request this past weekend, so I’ll be getting that written and posted in the next day or so.

Image Sources:
Google Images, key words: crucial part of writing, mastermind group, and writing.

Hey Commercial, Want to be Friends?

August 12, 2010

So I recently accessed the hard drive of my old computer that died about 9 months ago. There were two brilliant things that happened as a result of this. First, I was able to retrieve about 30GB of music that I had ripped to MP3s and then sold the CDs to a used CD shop. The second thing I found was a download of a commercial that I absolutely love.

My brother found it years ago and sent me a copy because he too thought it was well worth the viewing. I remember I use to watch the thing about once a week. As time passed, and eventually when the computer died, this commercial got stored into the spring loaded closet in my mind. This is a closet that we all store memories in, memories that are only lightly or barely forgotten. When something finally triggers one of these memories it is not a subtle “Oh yeah, I think I remember that” experience, but instead it is a sudden jolt or remembrance, which shoots the memory with such an intense remember fondness that you are surprised you had ever forgotten it in the first place.

It’s a foreign commercial, so I have no idea what is being said, but it is made well enough that you will definitely get the message. Enjoy (click here if video does not play).

It’s subtle and absolutely brilliant, and it makes me want to be better and help others. I remember when I first saw this, years ago, I tried to find out what the site was, but all my Internet searches kept coming up as ‘not found.’ Today however… let’s just say it’s amazing what five plus years of internet evolution can do for situations like this. This time, with Google as my search buddy, I discovered a link to the company Friends. They even have a section in English explaining what it is they do.

Turns out Friends is a ‘stop bullying in schools’ organization that was founded in Sweden in 1997. It was set up to help schools create a system for addressing the issue of bullying. To sum them up, I’m just going to give you the following excerpt from their site, “We work with helping pupils to speak up against meanness and injustice, to make them believe in themselves and to respect and care for each other.”

I remember my own being bullied experiences, granted, usually it they were from my older brothers. Winter time was always the worst because I always found myself being attacked by a barrage of snow balls by my oldest brother and his ruffian friends. All of which were at least five years older than I was. Sure I always lost, but every once in a while I hit one of them in the head with a tightly packed ball of snow, which always made for a sweet defeat. There were a few instances though that I remember from grade school that terrified me for a few weeks until the bully found some new victim that couldn’t run as fast as I could.

I have to admit though, that having found out what the organization does helps me enjoy the commercial that much more. I think I appreciate it so much because it’s the subtle, simple acts of kindness that can transform a situation from horrible to passable, dreadful to encouraging, or simply bad to good, or even good to the best day ever. Random acts of kindness, they make the world a better place. Making friends instead of controlling minions seems to be a growing part of our evolutionary approach to others; at least I hope it is. Maybe there will always be bullies, but helping the next generations create a dialogue and experience that reduces that number every year, that’s just pretty damn cool.

So, what did you think of the commercial?

Image Sources:
Google Images, key words: commercial, anti-bullying, and free hugs.

Do I know you?

August 11, 2010

Have you ever been hanging out with a good friend, family member, loved one, significant other, or some other combination signifying that you know the other person very well, and have known them for quite some time? Then one day, as you are in the middle of a conversation with them, they come up with something so incredibly random and out of character that the only logical reaction is to say, “Do I know you?” Another variant of this is, “Ok, who are you and what have you done with the real (insert name of the person you are talking to)?”

I managed to have this happen twice last week with none other than my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie. The first incident occurred while we were in her car going out to dinner. As we were going over how each others day had gone up to that point, which is a pretty standard practice for when we both get home at the end of the day. Well, in the middle of her telling me about her meetings that day, and going over her schedule for getting ready to leave town for two weeks, she suddenly shifts topic and says, “I ate a hot dog for lunch. I know I’m trying to steer clear of meat, but my justification for it was hot dogs really aren’t made of meat. So it’s technically ok.”

And yes the first thing out of my dumbfounded self was, “Do I know you?”

“I know!” was really all she could come up for in her defense.

I did find it a little comforting that she was just as shocked by her actions as I was. It was clear that there was no rhyme or reason for it. She is so consistently opposed to the American version of the hot dog (bratwurst, usually chick filled is acceptable to her) that the consumption of one is kind of like going to dinner with a vegan and having them order a rare steak wrapped in bacon with a side of squid salad, and Spam flavored ice cream topped with caviar for dessert. She blames the odd craving on her childhood, and it rarely happens, but when it does it always catches us both off guard. We finished the conversation by laughing at the stranger in the car named Angela. And that was the end of our “Do I know you?” moment.

The other one that readily comes to mind also took place in her car. We were on our way to a friend’s birthday party (woo hoo Frank!) and as we were flipping through the radio stations Angela stopped at a song she knew and loved, and starting singing along. I’ve ‘Smirked’ about the topic of Angela’s singing ability before, and her cunning and consistent ability to sing along with the sounds instead of singing along with the actually lyrics of the song.

There were two things that left me a touch concerned that the woman in the car was a possible Angela impostor. First was the song… Sweet Child o’ Mine by 1980’s defining hard rock band ‘Rifles and Carnations’… I mean ‘Gun N’ Roses’. The second thing is that she knew all the words, and belted them out with the same fervor as someone who is singing in the shower, or alone in their car. I just drove, baffled as she sang though the whole song. Then as the next song started, within the first three seconds of the song, she comments, “Ooo, Barracuda,” then after noticing my look added, “… by Heart.”

“Who are you really?” I asked.

She just laughed and changed the station.

Neither was major in any way, the exact opposite really. It’s just those random 180 moments that catch you a bit off guard, and make you rub your eyes to make sure that you are talking to the person you thought you were. Followed by a possible little pinch you give yourself to make sure you are not dreaming. Regardless though, they always seem to be quite entertaining, and well worth the unexpected laugh or two you get from them.

What are some of your “Do I know you?” moments?

Image Sources:
Google Images, key words: confused look, singing in car, and couple laughing.