April 26, 2006

McGriddles, Bar Flies and Blood

Let's get one thing straight. Nothing makes me salivate more than a quality breakfast sandwich. And as much as folks love to hate McDonalds and everything fast food stands for, I'm seriously smitten with their McGriddle breakfast sandwich. Sausage and egg smack dab between two heavenly pieces of mini-pancake with maple syrup inside. Sign me up!

So when I wandered through the new blogs on Livejournal, I had to admit I was entralled when I came across this blog: McGriddles Fan Fiction Community! Yup, you read correctly. Writers who love that sandwich are writing stories and poems about it. In my case, I wanted to write a fun little story where the sandwich makes a rather important cameo.

Bon appetit!


Bad Taste
By Bonnie Burton


"Dammit, this doesn't help at all!" Henry growled. He spit out the cheap whiskey shot and placed the dirty glass back on the bar with a loud thud.

"Sorry mate, it usually works for your lot, maybe you should give some tequila a go," the bartender smirked from behind the counter.

"Nah, forget it. I'm not much of a drinker anyway," Henry sighed. He never liked the taste of alcohol much before, so he wasn't too optimistic that this would do the trick. Spinning slowly on his bar stool, Henry looked to the back of the bar. Not many patrons at 1 am, but enough to keep him from feeling completely alone. Ever since he left the millitary, making friends didn't exactly come easily.

"Fancy a little company, love?" Henry didn't bother turning towards the cigarette-coo of the barfly who decided to sit next to him. He smelled her dank lilac perfume the minute he walked in. In fact, the dishelved woman smelled more like death than he did, and that was saying something.

"Sorry, not interested." He got up quickly and walked towards the Men's Room, but the odor from toilets that undoubtedly weren't scrubbed for a few decades, made him turn a sharp left towards the payphone. He walked up to the open wooden booth and closed the door behind him. He sat on the small seat and closed his eyes. The smell of the mahogany wood was calming and for once he could think without hearing the dull murmur of thoughts around him.

Henry fumbled in his pocket for a few coins and decided to pick up the phone and call the only person left he knew who could be of any help -- Morty. Around the 5th ring, a gruff voice answered the phone, then it seemed dropped it and picked it up again.

"What?! Who is this? Whatyawant?" Morty yelled.

"It's me, Henry. Hey, why are you asleep? Aren't you supposed to be out and about, lurking in the shadows and chasing after your prey or something?"

"I just got in a little while ago after a big snack. Didn't realize my dinner date was loaded up on Valium. Man that crap can knock you right out. So what do ya want?"

"Look I'm kinda new at this so I need your advice," Henry started. "I just drank and I can't get this awful taste out of my mouth."

"You're kidding, right?" Morty laughed hard. Henry was anything but amused.

"I'm serious. I hate this taste. I feel like I've been snacking on road kill and all I want to do is puke. Nothing is working, not margaritas, not mojitos, not cosmos, not straight up whiskey -- nothing!"

"Did ya try a Bloody Mary?" Morty snorted.

"Hardy har har, that's rich Morty, real rich. You gonna tell me what I should do or are you just gonna be a wiseass?" Henry growled.

"Here's some advice laddie, maybe you're not cut out for this sort of life. If you can't hack the taste of blood, you're gonna be one pathetic vampire. Maybe you better go find yourself one of those hunter kids and let them put you out of your misery. Or better yet you could always re-enlist. I'm sure Uncle Sam would love to see ya again." And with that last biting comment Morty hung up.

"Just great," Henry sighed. He didn't ask to be a vampire. He wasn't the gloom and doom type. Hell, his favorite band was Wham. But no, he had to go sign up for the army to pay off some college loans, and ended up in Special Services because he was too smart for combat and too psycho for a desk job. That'll teach him for volunteering for the classified drug experiment. In a way, he did ask to be a vampire. He just didn't realize that he'd be tasting blood in his mouth for the rest of his undead existence.

I guess it's better than being a zombie. Henry thought. Blood was one thing, but slurping up gray matter sounded a hell of a lot worse.

Henry hung up the phone and looked out the booth window towards the bar stools. Most of the patrons had left and it looked like it would be morning soon. Luckily for Henry, he wasn't one of the Ancients. He was a manufactured vampire who could withstand the sun as long as it was dusk, twilight or foggy. Thankfully, San Francisco never got much sun and ironically in his neighborhood of the Sunset district he could avoid it all together -- lurking in the constant thick fog.

He opened the telephone booth door and walked out. Throwing a few dollars at the bartender for his trouble, Henry grabbed his coat and headed outside. He wasn't sure what to do next considering that the vile taste in his mouth -- now mixed with cheap booze -- continued to linger on his tongue and twirl in his stomach. Drinking the blood of crank addict was a bad idea. The hot liquid that ran across his lips had the pungent properties of decaying flesh and fatty tissue.

How in the hell am I suppose to do this every night? Henry thought. He glanced down the alley in hopes of finding another victim before he called it a night. Most of the homeless he preyed upon were snug in their shelter or cockroach hotel of choice, leaving the streets fairly vacant. And he wasn't about to snack on another junkie.

Just as he was about to give up completely, a flash of purple and yellow flew by him, knocking him down onto the street curb. "Ouch! What the hell!?" Henry yelled.

As he looked up, he saw a man in his late '30s on a bike, dressed head to toe in neon racing gear complete with a blinking helmet. Oblivious to Henry, he was talking his cell phone headset and dangerously wobbling through traffic holding a large coffee and a messenger bag.

"He'll do just fine," Henry grumbled. If there's one way to make the top of a vampire's grocery list, it's by shoving him into the gutter while you chat on your cell phone.

The biker didn't know what hit him. Henry learned to move pretty quickly in the army, but once he became a manufactured weapon, he could beat half he Justice League on the track if he wanted to.

Henry knocked the biker down, tore off his headset, dragged him to an alley leaving his bike in the street and proceeded to drink -- all before the man could scream for help. His blood tasted like a mix of cheap coffee and Red Bull. Better than a junkie but not by much.

He finished quickly and dumped the man's crumpled body in the nearest dumpster. The taste of blood was still there, but Henry knew he'd just have to get used to it all. He was a vampire now and that meant drinking blood no matter how disgusting it tasted. As he turned to head back home, the biker's messenger bag caught his eye. Picking it up, he opened the top flap and a glorious smell wafted through the alley air. Maple syrup, sausage, eggs.... Henry hadn't smelled anything so tantalizing since he was a little boy growing up on his grandfather's ranch. He stood there breathing in the aroma of the breakfast, with a rare smile on his face.

He grabbed the sandwich that was carefully contained within a McDonald's wrapper --"McGriddle." Henry hurriedly unwrapped the sandwich and sniffed it awhile longer. Nothing made him happier than the smell of maple syrup. He hesitated before placing the sandwich in his mouth. Was a vampire allowed to eat real food or just blood? He couldn't remember. Partial sun was fine. Garlic didn't affect him. And their kind didn't give a squat about crosses.

"Screw it, this sandwich is worth dying for!" Henry said to himself. And with that, he delighted his senses biting into the pancake-wrapped treat and for the first time since he'd become one of them, he didn't taste blood.

April 26, 2006

ILM Gets Involved in "Every 15 Minutes"

The model makers, makeup specialists and special effects experts at Industrial Light & Magic have a unique talent for sparking imaginations of Star Wars fans worldwide, but not all their projects are for pure entertainment on the big screen. In conjunction with the Petaluma Police Department and local northern California area high schools, members of ILM volunteer their time and expertise to an educational program called "Every 15 Minutes" that shows students the dangerous, and often deadly, effects of driving under the influence.

Petaluma Police Department Officer Matt Thomas organized the event this year at Casa Grande High School with help from various ILM members including senior model maker and R2-D2 droid operator Don Bies, model makers Anna Bies, Danny Wagner, Carol Bauman, Mark Buck, Peter Bailey, and Erik Jensen, lead animator Jamy Wheless, and former ILMer George Sakellariou.

I was more than happy to interview Don Bies and other ILMers about their work on this important project. I have a feeling that if more teens participated in projects like this, we might have fewer reckless or drunk driving from teens. Ironically enough, I think more adults need to see this program as well.

Read all about it here:
ILM Helps Community Anti-Drunk Driving Project

April 24, 2006

Maker Faire 2006: Robots, Rockets and DIY Geek Projects

I'm a sucker for robots and rockets, so I knew I HAD to head over to the Maker Faire on Sunday in San Mateo with my geek pals. I witnessed everything from a gigantic electronic giraffe to the fiery fun of The Crucible. As I ate corn dogs and popcorn, I watched kids battle each other with robots. I saw hippies wiz by on their Segways (I still think there should be Segway jousting). And I had fun running into old pals like Grant Imahara (from "Mythbusters"). I got to show off my LED throwies skillz at the Graffiti Research Lab: Geek Mural. Plus I couldn't help but stand in complete awe at the expansive LEGO train exhibit from the Bay Area LEGO Users' Group and Train Club.

It reminded me a lot of how I wish those county fairs in my homestate of Kansas were. I was a 4-H crafting geek. I wasn't into raising cattle or training dogs for the blind, I was all about making bead dolls and tissue box cozies. Of course, if there had been ANY robotics course I would have dropped everything to take that! After all, the two best pals I could ever want would have been R2-D2 and K-9. But alas, there weren't any robots for me in the dusty midwest.

Thanks to Maker Faire, I could at least pretend I was a kid again. As I snapped photos of little kids dissecting mechanical frogs, standing in front of rockets 10 times their size and giggling as they crashed battle bots into each other via remote control, I couldn't help but smile. It's obvious that a fair like this helps ignite the imaginations of the next generation of geeks. And that's pretty cool in my book.

Be sure to check out this video of the highlights from my geek pal Conan.

If you want to check out what I saw, feel free to visit my Flickr blog here: Maker Faire 2006

(thanks to Mark at BoingBoing.net for the link !)

April 10, 2006

APE 2006

It's been awhile since I attended the Alternative Press Expo (APE) -- so I was more than happy to roll out of bed and join my pals at one of the coolest, low-keyest events of the year for craft kids, zinesters and DIY comic book artist/writers alike.

I had fun going from booth to booth checking out monster felt toys from Creature Co-Op and bizarre sculptures by Lucien Shapiro and Unethical Productions.

And I got the cutest Wookiee keyring from the kids at Stumpytown.com!

It was also fun to see art from new folks like Jaime Zollars, John C. Worsley, and tattoo portrait artist Shawn Barber, as well as old pals like and Martin Wong from Giant Robot magazine!

There were plenty of DIY zines and comics to browse through, and of course it was even more fun thanks to my pals who could make an appearance on Sunday. Oh and here's a photo of me looking all wannabe hipster.

Check out more fun photos here on my Flickr blog.


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