Friday, July 30, 2010

The Future of Coffee Shops

I'm addicted to coffee.  I have been for many, many years.  And I love coffee shops.  I even worked in one for awhile.  But anymore it seems harder and harder to find one.  They're all closing down!  Is it the economy?  Most likely . . .

When I first moved here, Kayla just raved about this little cafe in town that had great coffee.  But, it was CLOSED!  Kayla wasn't aware that it was closed and was rather upset--as was I--but the gods saw fit to bless us with a quaint little coffee shop down the street. 

Roots was a pseudo-artsy cafe that specialized in coffee and bagels.  It was cute.  It had an out-of-tuned piano, chairs and a sofa bought from some thrift-shop, the walls were painted various colors and were stenciled in Etsy-fashion, and there were paintings everywhere for sale.  Ugly paintings that were way too expensive.  Nevertheless, it was cute.  It was owned and operated by some college girls, which I think ultimately was the cafes downfall.  Sure, it had a lot of potential, but with regular brand-name bagels overpriced by one dollar and lattes that tasted like camel feces, I wasn't too upset when that place hung up a giant CLOSED! sign. 

Roots packed their stuff up and sold the lot over to a new place called Manna Cupcake Cafe.  A shop for cupcakes and coffee.  It's been there for quite awhile . . . in fact . . . it's done nothing for quite awhile.  A sign on the door informed possible patrons that the cafe would be open for business sometime in late May.  It's now August and they still have sheets hanging over the windows . . . but at least they have a purple and white Manna Cupcake sign in front!

So, that left only one last place . . . a place that had switched titles over the years but has always remained a coffee shop.  The one, the only, Fullcup Cafe.  Coffee, Christ, and more!  A coffee shop that not only caters to the hopelessly caffeinatede addicts, but to the hopeful and spiritual as well.  Selling everything from coffee to muffins to paintings to crucifixes to Lebanon school-spirit gift baskets.  It wasn't a bad place.  In fact, they made really good white-leprechaun-on-the-beaches . . . my favorite flavored latte! . . . and their muffins were pretty good as well.  And so there I was, headed to Fullcup Cafe this morning for some drinks and muffins when suddenly dread and fear swept over me as I pulled into the parking lot.  It was 9:30am and no one was there.  And of course, there it was . . . CLOSED!

"NNNOOOOOO!!!!!" I screamed.

I jumped out of the car and ran to the door, praying that it was just a temporary thing, something akin to: the staff caught the black plague over the weekend, sorry for the inconvenience.  Instead, what I saw was a little letter taped on the inside of the window.

Dear customer,
We regret to inform you that after much prayer and consideration, Fullcup Cafe will be closing its doors and blah-blah-blah.

I stood there, hopeless.  My mornings, crushed.  I looked to the heavens and cried "Thanks a latte!" (insert flam on snare drum and a hit on a 14" fast crash Zildjian)

In the end, I ended up at the Starbucks in Kroger.  I bought bakery-fresh donuts which were made yesterday and a carmel latte from Starbucks . . . in Kroger . . .



So, I drew a couple of mazes for fun this week.  It was kind of hard, but extremely enriching.  It's like trying to find yourself while attempting to create a solution, and of course a deception, when erecting the correct path to the end . . .

I have a plan in mind, but won't reveal too much right now.  Nevertheless, mazes . . .

I really like this video.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Sketchbook Project

Kayla stumbled upon this today while surfing the world wide interweb! 
It's a tour of sketchbooks submitted by anyone and everyone who wishes to participate!  Registration for the 2011 tour is open currently and the fee is a mere $25 . . . which includes a sketchbook and a theme of your choice.  Then, when finished, simply return your sketchbook and it will be gauranteed (as long as it's within the rules) an exhibition on the tour.  And for another small fee you can have it uploaded!  Check it out!

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

The Most Horrible Person Alive . . .

. . . is living in my town. 

I'm sorry to say this but I do believe that some people are nothing more than a plague of humanity.  That's a rather hateful statement, borderline so many levels of -ists and -isms that it probably lumps me into that plague-like group as well.  But sometimes hate is justified . . . and I do believe that if anyone had been in my position, they too would've had one thought in their mind: you, sir, are the biggest piece of shit alive

It was 2:30pm and Kayla and I were on our way to work.  We stopped by a little gas station for some much needed provisions--energy drinks, cigarettes and chewy cow-tails--and it was I who was elected to acquire said items of interests.  And so there I was, standing in line, behind a rather un-comely man and his daughter. 

The daughter was a mess.  An absolute mess.  It looked as if it had been days since she had bathed, her hair was a matted and disheveled, and the gia-normous tee-shirt she was wearing was quite possibly the only thing she was wearing as it hung down to her knees.  Yet, despite such an appearance, one cannot blame the young and innocent.  Instead, one could only smile as she attempted to buy a piece of candy.  She had a handful of change, but was short about twenty-five cents.  And so, she turned to her father who smiled and handed over a quarter, like a father should.  His daughter was happy and waited by the door for her father.

when the father approached the counter it was evident he was of the low-life category.  His clothes were dirty, with holes in them, and he had an enormous wound on his face (like the result of a fight) and he wore a gold chain despite talking like a true-blooded country boy.  And he placed on the counter a forty ounce bottle of some cheap, fizzy beer and a giant forty ounce Styrofoam cup filled with ice . . . filled only with ice.  (Gee, I wonder what he was going to pour into that forty ounce cup of ice while he drove around town with his daughter?)  And guess what . . . when all was said and done, he was twenty-five cents short of the total. Twenty-five cents which he had given to his daughter so she may buy a piece of candy.  The man was not pleased . . .

And so he begged his daughter to come back to counter and refund her candy so he could get his twenty-five cents back and quench his alcoholic-low-life thirst.  He did, however, promise to buy his daughter ice cream.   

That really ruined my day yesterday.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Look, a Book!

A Storm of Swords
by: George R. R. Martin

This is the third installment of George R. R. Martin's magnificent series: A Song of Ice and Fire.  Chances are you've already heard of it.  George R. R. Martin has been in the lime-light of fantasy for a number of years now, winning numerous awards; this particular novel was nominated for the Hugo award.   Undoubtedly, this epic fantasy is his most famous work.  And with good reason . . .

A Storm of Swords continues to tell the story of war and its participants.  The whole premise of this novel, and it's two predecessors--A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings--is centered around the political intrigue of a land known as Westeros, which is currently in strife as many lords and QUOTE-UNQUOTE kings battle for the realm.  In what is nick-named the seven kingdoms, the land of Westeros is without one great king, though the family occupying its castle at King's Landing would argue differently.  Such is the plot of the story, in which everyone battles everyone else for their right to rule the seven kingdoms.  There are other problems however . . .

The land of Westeros is not only divided up into seven kingdoms with lords and rulers, but the very northern part is cut off by an enormous wall which spans from sea to sea, several hundred feet high.  This wall is controlled by a group known as the Night's Watch, who kneel to no particular king or kings and have no interests in the political struggles that affect Westeros.  Their only interest is to protect the entire realm of Westeros from the monsters (including reanimated corpses [but not in that cliched zombie way . . . at least, not yet] and hideous beasts [including giants and mammoths] and of course the people of the frozen north [including savage killers and toothless women]). 

There's also a land to the east consisting of free cities ruled by various tyrants.  It is here that the last heir of the overthrown king Aerys Targaryen resides with power.  There she builds an army and a vast following of peasants, gaining strength while waiting to head back to Westeros to claim her own right for the throne.  She has a trick up her sleeve . . . or rather a pet . . . or pets, for that matter.  Dragons.  Three dragons.  

In the long run, this book is far too in depth (like its predecessors) to go into very much detail.  And in fact, this is the largest book in the series (at least concerning the ones that have been published).  Roughly, in basic paperback format, the book consisted of 1100+ pages of pure enjoyment.  It's a long book, to be sure, but as it just continues the tale from the first two novels, in the end it's nothing more than just an additions to a great story.  A story, which like I said, is far too complicated to explain. 

It's easier to sum it up as a political intrigue involving a kings and knights and mythical creatures.  There's battles a plenty, as well as drama, and sex, and ultimately what you're dealt is a damn good story.  The story consists of several characters, with overarching plots, some of which criss-cross one another.  There isn't one central plot, other than that everyone is fighting everyone, nor is it easy to pinpoint a protagonist and an antagonist.  Sure, it's easy to spot who leans toward the side of good and who leans toward the side of evil, but ultimately all you're really left with is a mystery.  Who's going to win?!  But just when to start to calculate the chances of this character or that character, thinking that they'll ultimately be force to reckon with towards the end of the series, off goes their head!  And just when you think that this character over here is a horrible menace and a jerk and deserves death, you begin to sympathize with their plight until ultimately they redeem themselves through some act to which you (the reader) find a glimpse of hope in their evil caricature.

So in the end . . . there is no end.  Only another installment in the series.  The last book to be published, sadly, is the fourth novel in the series, A Feast For Crows.  George R. R. Martin has stated that he plans on writing seven novels in the series, but thus far only four have been published while he currently is working on the fifth and sixth one.  Although, it's been five years since his last novel was published in the series and fans are worried about whether or not the series will ever be completed.  With such a huge story consisting of so many characters and plots, it would be incredibly disappointment to have been dragged through the bloody mud of Westeros only to discover . . . nothing.  But I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Anywho . . . GOOD BOOK!  GOOD READ!    

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Story Time With The Satanic Teddybear

Time To Get Going!
by: C. D. Brinker

A big, beautiful butterfly began flap-flapping his wings for the first time. Just several seconds earlier he had successfully overcome his struggle in freeing himself from his small cocoon. But now he sat on a branch flip-flap-flapping his wings, preparing for his first flight out into the world.

Flip-flap-flap he went. Flippity-flappity-flappy-flip-flap, and away he went, lifting himself up off of the branch and onto the wind, flying freely. It was ever-so exhilarating as the wind whoooooooshed beneath his wings.


Oh the joy he felt.


SNATCH-SNAP-CRUNCH went the bird that caught and ate the butterfly.

Copyright © 2010 C. D. Brinker

Friday, July 23, 2010

New Background

I got bored of the white oblivion that was my background.  This new background was created by The Background Fairy.  I know that some uber-bloggers (and yes, I said uber) judge a persons blog-skill by their ability to pimp their blog with all manner of fancy headers and images and links and yaddah, yaddah, yaddah . . . but you know what, I have more important things to do with my time than sit down and figure out some html code thingy!  (Actually, that's a lie!  I spent three days trying to create my own background image but couldn't seem to get the damn thing to fit the entire page and so, with much frustration and several wasted hours, I said [naughty word alert] "Fuck it!" and just yanked one off the web.) 

I wanted something simple, yet interesting enough.  I know that a lot of people delete the little banners of the creators, hiding their signatures from the rest of the world (if indeed the rest of the world visits their blog) and I used to do the same many, many, many, many, many, many moons ago when I roamed the origins of Myspace . . . but I figure, I didn't create the background, someone else did.  It's their art, and I'm supporting it . . . by yanking it.  And posting about it.  So . . . yeah.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Maniac On Drums

This is some cover band known as Rick K. and the All-nighters.  But the drummer . . . just WATCH IT!  And don't stop watching it!  This dude's awesome!  Stick tricks are hard enough as it is . . . but come on!  I'm jealous. 


I love my job (and hate it as equally).  Truth be told, it's an easy job, pays extremely well, offers great benefits, but the real perk is the fact that you can wear headphones while at work.  That in itself is the greatest benefit of my job.  Where else can one sit in a cubicle all day and listen to iPods, mp3 players, CD players, et cetera?!  Well . . .

For over a year I was what was known, in the company, as a SME (or Subject Matter Expert).  Within that time frame, I ran back and forth from department to department, correcting potential mistakes, performing uptrainings, researching errors, and just plain ole' sucking up to the man.  What sucked about it was the fact that I had little time to sit and relax and enjoy the many splendors of Internet downloads.  I had music on my iPod of course, I always have, but I like stories (short stories in particular) and rarely had the opportunity to listen to one.  Do you know how frustrating it is when you're at the climax of a story and someone taps you on the shoulder asking "How many orders are left?  Are we going home early or not?"  So I kept my iPod filled with music and the occasional short-short story.  Then, as it were, fate intervened and saw fit to promote me to the pharmacy technician department where . . . guess what . . . I'm no longer a SME and am now expected to sit rather comfortably while processing prescriptions!  Yay!  More money PLUS less work PLUS eight full hours of audio enjoyment EQUALS:


So, I was able to hop back into it . . . the world of podcasts . . . fictional podcasts.

For years I've been subscribing to a number of podcasts which feature fiction--mainly in the science fiction, fantasy and horror markets.  I'm so excited, literally, to go to work.  However, yesterday I was let down . . .

But why?  You may (or may not) inquire?

Because . . . after a year and a half of minute tickles of pleasure from fiction podcasts, I downloaded a larger number of stories and episodes from various podcasting communities and a number of the tracks didn't download correctly.  And so there I was, at work, ever so joyful about the Batman download when . . . oh, I only have episodes 2,3,5,6,7 . . . where's 1 and 4?!  But, it's all good now . . . all episodes have been downloaded and uploaded onto my iPod.  So on Monday, at work, I will rejoice as I am once again able to listen to fiction podcats, unfettered and uninterrupted by fellow employees!

As such . . . here's a list of some of my favorite podcasts.

NUMBER 1 (which means it's my favorite) . . . Darker Projects
Darker Projects offers an ever expanding list of projects presented as audio dramas.  It's not just stories read with wonderful narration, they're actual dramas featuring various voice actors and dazzling sound effects.  And their presentations are done extremely well.  They offer everything from science fiction to fantasy to horror to just funny and weird. 

Undoubtedly, their most popular dram is The Byron Chronicles which dramatizes the life of a mortal-immortal who resides in Portland, Oregon (everything is happening in Portland, Oregon these days . . . isn't it?!) where he encounters both friends and foes in all manner of creation: vampires, zombies, werewolves, demons, Satan, angels, immortals, Santa Claus, et cetera.  Definitely worth checking out.

Another cool presentation of theirs (which I have yet to listen to because episode 1 and 4 wouldn't download!) is Batman: No Man's Land.  Someone finally had the bright idea of taking the ever popular Batman: No Man's Land story and turned it into an audio drama.  Um, dude, I don't care what you may think of such geeky endeavors, but that's kick ass. 

So definitely check out

NUMBER 2: Escape Pod, PodCastle, Pseudopod
All three podcasts are in relation to one another, one offering science fiction (Escapepod), one offering fantasy (Podcastle) and one offering horror (Pseudopod).  It's easy to say that if you're a science fiction, fantasy or horror writer/fanatic, then you've probably heard of these podcasts before.  They're immensely popular.  And well worth a visit on a weekly basis as they constantly offer audio fiction in the form of short stories.  Everyone seems to have a favorite . . . and I'll just say that I'm not upset Steve Eley quit hosting Escapepod, just as long as he promises to read any future anthropomorphic stories!  I highly recommend checking out: Escapepod Episode 169: How I Mounted Goldie, Saved My Partner Lori, and Sniffed Out The People’s Justice by Jonathon Sullivan.  If you don't laugh, then you're dead inside . . .

In which case you might wish to check out Pseudopod!  Or maybe even Podcastle (though I must admit that I'm growing rather weary of ancient eastern fables, plots and settings . . . I live in Ohio, dammit, and I love sushi, but enough is enough!)

NUMBER 3: Clone Pod
"Voices of the future, podcasting today's science fiction and fantasy!" - Clonepod.  How cool is this place . . . another science fiction and fantasy market, but controlled by children!  the hosts are a couple of kids who feature stories, but not necessarily stories for young adults.  It's pretty cool.  Sadly, however, the podcast as been on hiatus for well over a year and looks to be dismantled . . . so a mere 27 episodes is what's up for grab.

And there are many more.  I have also subscribed to podcasts such as The Drabble Cast, Metamor City, Transmissions From Beyond . . . but the about five are by far my favorites.  I posted them here because I always like to share anything I'm into and enjoy in hopes that someone else will like it and think that I'm cool!  So if you managed to stumble upon my blog, if you managed to come across this post, then definately check out the world of fiction-podcasting!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

An Amateur Artist: Oddity?

I hate this picture, but I did it . . . originally in pencil, for practices of shading.  Then I went over in pen months later . . . the night Kayla and I left for Hilton Head Island.  I hated it then, I hate it now.  So why I am I posting it?! 

Because . . . I did it.

P.S. Hilton Head rocked . . . even if my folks tagged along . . .
. . . okay, okay, Kayla and I tagged along . . . but still, it rocked.

Anywho . . .

~ Oddity? ~ 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Story Time With The Satanic Teddybear

Don't Try To Grow Up Too Fast
by C.D. Brinker
The worm wiggled his way up and out of his burrow.  He squiggled out into the grass, enjoying the day only the way a worm could.  He was headed nowhere in particular, but found himself wiggling towards a blossoming  apple tree . . . with a nest.  A birds nest.  Wherein was a young bird that  spotted the worm  squiggling through the grass.
The bird tweet-tweet as his belly began to ache with hunger.  It had been so long since he had a fresh, plump, juicy worm.  Tweet-tweet sang the bird, for he wanted the worm.  And so, with his beady, little eyes, he focused on the worm  and prepared to strike.  He sat back, flapped his wings vehemently, and then leaped into the air.  Valiantly, the bird soared towards the worm which wiggled and squiggled through the grass.  But as the bird had no feathers, for he was merely a baby bird, he plummeted suddenly to his doom.
The worm continued to squiggle.

Copyright © 2010 C. D. Brinker

Look, a Book!

a fable by Steven Bauer
Every summer the local library has a used book sale which is a killer deal for any book fanatic. For a mere ten dollars you buy a box and cram as many books in it as possible. It's been a year since I've last been and I'm still trying to get through the box. In fact, I have too many books as is and tend to just reach for whatever one strikes my fancy at the particular point in time. The latest book was Satyrday, by Steven Bauer. I remember picking this book up at the library book sale because it was A) sitting amidst the science-fiction/fantasy table and B) had an interesting cover . . . yes, yes, I judge books by their cover. Who doesn't? I must admit that a part of me was leery about this book, simply because I never even heard of this author, but since it was going to cost nothing more than a little space within a ten dollar box, I thought: why not? And it took only one year for me to get around to reading it.
My initial suspicion about the author proved correct. What little research I've done on the author proves that he's (more or less) a one-time-novelist. I remember seeing somewhere that he was working on another novel, but seeing how Satyrday was published in 1980, I'm not going to anxiously anticipate another novel anytime soon. Not only has been thirty years since he's written a novel, in sincere honesty, he's not a very good author.
That's not too say that I didn't enjoy this book . . . which, well I didn't really, but neither did I hate it. In truth, I've read far better and I've read far worse. Overall, I generally liked the writing style, though it did become tedious at times. Apparently, the author is a poet (or at least was), and Satyrday is rich in poetic phrasing. Slant rhymes, alliteration and of course lush imagery are on every page of this book. But as I said, this heavy poetical influence did become rather blase, oftentimes having a rather dull affect during climatic scenes.
As for the climax, and with regard to any scene within the book, Satyrday felt a bit stilted, yet hackneyed. The characters were not terribly fascinating and seemed far too dramatic than was needed . . . of course, by dramatic I don't mean individual-character mannerisms or actions, but their overall presence within the story. For example, the evil owl which wished to cloak the world in eternal darkness and proclaim himself as ruler . . . a rather weak antagonist. Weak because there was little description of his wickedness. He kidnapped the moon, he wanted to kill the sun and he did banish a few creatures here and there, but overall he wasn't as villainous as he should have been. Most of his wicked attributes were thoughts and plans for action. Also, it was hard to view the owl as a convincing antagonist when it was difficult recognizing the main protagonist. In fact, every other character within the book seemed to be the protagonist, all of whom finally brought the evil owl's reign of terror to an end. Ergo, was it really an evil owl or an isolated character with opposing ideals?
Without getting too deep into a plot synopsis, the idea behind the story was appealing. An evil owl kidnaps the moon and a boy and a satyr and all manner of critters set forth on adventure to rescue the moon. And on the way there's a lot of poetic vices, but not enough literary compliments to keep one's attention. It wasn't a difficult read by any means, in fact it's a rather short novel, but from the very first few pages I knew it was going to be a novel which I would trudge through simply to finish it.