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Tiny Deathstars of Foulness

January 11th, 2016

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We really just stopped for chips and a Coke (everything carbonated was a Coke to me back then, being from the South). At the cash register, we thought that a cassette by a band called The Sex Pistols was about the funniest thing you could buy. I think we were 13 or 14 years old at the time. It was Nevermind the Bollocks. We started a band that week. Eventually, we all kinda’ lost interest (there wasn’t a Jody, but if there was he would have quit and got married).

I now have drums in the basement again. But it has been a very long time since I played with an actual band, and a very, very long time since I penned an original song. But during that time, I’ve been lucky to see some pretty awesome shows. And some terrible ones. Few were as bad as whatever the name of the band was the first time I walked into CBGB in New York. Few beers were as watered down. And no bathroom has smelled as bad.

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But this was the birthplace of The Police, The Talking Heads, Blondie, The Ramones, Iggy Pop, and so, so, so many more bands. I went there three more times. And each time I think I saw a progressively worse band play. I would have kept going anyway, just to be there (I probably just went on bad nights). I just enjoyed looking at torn concert posters on the wall. I’ve gotten to hang out at venues all over the world, from the 40 Watt Club (I went to college in Athens, after all – thank this place for REM, the B-52s, and many more), to the Troubadour, the Whisky a Go Go, and the Roxy, in Los Angeles, and everything in between.

But CBGB was one of my favorites. It was always a weird cab ride (although every cab driver knew exactly how to get there, without me having to say anything other than CBGB). I always hoped I’d happen to walk in and see one of those magical nights where Patti Smith or some other idol of their heyday was on stage randomly. That never happened. But you could feel the energy of something amazing that had happened there. The launch of something special. After seeing some pretty amazing shows at places like the Troubadour and Whisky in LA, I always felt like that feeling wore off. But it never did with CBGB. I’d go back to my hotel room before I went and change out of a suit and into jeans and a plain black shirt and find my way there whenever I could. I used to always pack a plain black shirt no matter where I was going. I never got to tap into that magic that they had. But I was happy enough to bask in its glow (er, aura) for awhile.

These days, I see a CBGB shirt and it puts me right back in my garage, playing my drums. I can close my eyes and see that cassette, randomly in a convenience store in Dahlonega, Georgia. And I can remember every word to songs we wrote. Colors we dyed our hair. Weird haircuts. Broken drum heads. Cracked cymbals. Chains snapping off of bass drum pedals. Double bass drum pedals during that weird Slayer phase. I can remember that first drum set. The way it felt to sit in that stool after saving up all summer working my first job. The way I bled all over the drums when I cut my finger while playing. The way I could sit and jam with my parents to Never Been To Spain and other classic rock goodness.

All those feelings, and this article, from a shirt I saw today. Sorry if this isn’t your jam.

January 11th, 2016

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Yup. Somehow I have made it this long. 3,100 posts later, or .77 posts per day, I’m still with ya’. Not sure what the next 11 days will bring us, much less the next 11 years, but I’m honored that so many people visit the site, and I hope I give you cause to continue to do so in the future.

At least the graphics are a little better these days…

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Thanks for stickin’ with me!

December 30th, 2015

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When I was closing in on the end of my comic book days, Apocalypse came at the tail end of the High Evolutionary. And it was great. And now I get to see it on the big screen!

December 20th, 2015

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December 19th, 2015

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The Holiday Season is upon us. My lights are up, my tree is decorated, and I’m looking forward to all the calories! And I’ve got something to help you get into the mood: Christmas movies! In fact, this is the 12 days of Christmas, where I somehow throw 112 movies out there (what can I say, I get bored easily) for your holiday spirit (or anti-spirit as the case may be) goodness.

On the First Day of Christmas, you had to watch: Die Hard. We’re gonna’ ease you into the holiday spirit. This movie isn’t about Christmas, or any other holiday exactly. It’s about Bruce Willis shooting things. It’s not first because it’s the best or worst. It’s first, because we’re gonna’ get you into the holiday spirit a little bit at a time here… “All right, listen up guys. ‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except..” If you need an encore, check out Lethal Weapon. They’re similar enough, like that…

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On the Second Day of Christmas, you get: Trading Places. It’s like A Christmas Miracle. But with Eddie Murphy. And Dan Aykroyd. And Jamie Lee Curtis. I mean, how can you go wrong. It was 1983, so you might think they went wrong with some of the clothes and hair. But give it about 2-3 years and you won’t think that any more. From an era when you were supposed to stick it to the stodgy old men, who earned getting theirs in the end, this movie mostly stands the test of time. It’s second on the list, because it’s about taking from the man as much as giving to those in need, so we’re continuing to edge (not me, the movie) our way into the spirit, here. If you like it and need an encore, check out 1985’s Santa Clause: The Movie. It has Dudley Moore. He makes me think of getting drunk. Which they do a lot in Trading Places.

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On the Third Day of Christmas, krypted gave to you: Gremlins. In this 1984 classic, it’s all about a Christmas gone terribly, terribly wrong. Like many relationships, Gizmo starts cute and cuddly and then grows sharp teeth, scales and starts attacking people. Just don’t get Gizmo wet, right? Um, ya. Cute little move, although a bit dated these days. If you’d rather watch Ben Affleck not wreck Daredevil (srsly) then check out Surviving Christmas. It has James Gandolfini, which makes it somewhat bearable.

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On the Fourth Day of Christmas, my true krypted gave to me: Home Alone. Yes, folks, where I learned to do many of my most successful practical jokes. You didn’t think I was original with those, did you? If you need something a bit more grown up, check out the star studded Four Christmases instead.

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On the Fifth Day of Christmas, krypted gave to you: The Nightmare Before Christmas. Tim Burton. Christmas. Instant Classic for the Rocky Horror Picture Show crowd. Come to think of it, watch both! But really, if you haven’t seen this, you must! Or to get your sci-fi on, check out Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. It’s kinda’ like The Nightmare Before Christmas meets Rocky Horror. But bad. Which makes it the perfect drinking game Christmas flick! While we’re on the Tim Burton kick though, Edward Scissorhands is kindof a Christmas movie…

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On the Sixth Day of Christmas, krypted gave to you: Bad Santa. Billy Bob Thornton (Mr. Soul Patch himself) in what seems like his most natural state. He’s a petty criminal doing terrible things. And it’s Christmas. And it’s funny. You should watch it. If Bad Santa doesn’t satiate your need for crime comedies over the holidays, check out Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. That will also satisfy your Robert Downey Jr quotient.

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On the Seventh Day of Christmas, krypted gave to me: Tokyo Godfathers. Yes, I can’t seem to make a list of movies without some anime here and there. As usual, there’s some mystical and technology and fight scenes. But with Christmas as a backdrop. Very different than the other movies on the list. But in the holiday spirit, and a change of pace is always good! If you’d rather stay in the US, check out Friday After Next. It’s not half the movie the first was, but it’s a movie… Or just watch one of the Christmas specials from Friends. Just an FYI, I’ve never seen Friends. Just making an assumption they did a few holiday specials…

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On the Eighth Day of Christmas, krypted gave to me: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. It’s weird. It makes my list because every time I go to Finland I think someone’s gonna’ stab me. If you want normal, watch Nicholas Cage (note the lack of connection in any way shape or form between these movies) in Family Man instead. OK, you got me, on the Eight Day of Christmas, I gave you one of the funniest Christmas movies ever made: A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas.

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On the Ninth Day of Christmas, krypted gave to me: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I felt so much better after seeing Cousin Eddie. We’ve all got one in the family. But I didn’t know that until watching Chevy Chase in his prime deal with his family. As Christmas gets closer, it’s great to feel a bit more normal about yourself! If you want kinda’ funny and sweet instead, check out Holiday with Jack Black.

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On the Tenth Day of Christmas, krypted gave to me: Brazil. Yes. Terry Gilliam’s Kafka-inspired deep dive into art-nouveau-meets-dystopian-future was actually set over the holidays. Granted, this close to Christmas, you might choose to mute it and listen to that Iron-Maiden-eats-New-Kids-for-Christmas album, but hey, it’s worth it. After all, the timing is perfect if you play it backwards to that album. Since Brazil isn’t for everyone I’ll give you another option for this day: Long Kiss Goodnight. Great little flick that’s fun to watch. And it will satisfy the need for explosions and gunshots over the holidays!

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On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, krypted gave to me: How The Grinch Stole Christmas. That scene, where the Grinche’s Heart explodes out of its box. Holy crapola. A sweet, adorable cartoon movie, that stands the test of time. And if you have time for an encore, check out the Ron Howard directed, Jim Carrey acted, Anthony Hopkins narrated live action(ish) follow-up. It’s not the original. But it’s better than most other things from the year 2000. If you’d rather watch a horror movie on Christmas Eve, check out Santa’s Slay. And then take the Turing Test…

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On the twelfth day of Christmas, krypted gave to me Love Actually. I’m a sucker for a romcom. There, I said it. Judge me all you want. But when the holidays are upon us, there might not be a better one than Love Actually. I didn’t end up seeing this when it first came out, as I was on a hiatus from movies that make people happy. But happy is what this one should make you. Every. Frickin’. Time. Especially if you watch it on Christmas, which is the day I set it to. Yes, I have a heart. But only when watching Love Actually on Christmas night. And if you don’t like Love Actually, then check out SantaWith Muscles, starring Hulk Hogan. Or watch the Grinch again and hope your heart finally grows…

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Honorable mentions:

Additional animated flicks for the kiddos: A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Little Drummer Boy, Ernest Saves Christmas (OK, it’s not animated, but the kids are sure to love it!), The Polar Express, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Arthur Christmas, Frosty The Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Muppet Christmas Carol

The Classics, which include We’re No Angels, A Christmas Story, A Christmas Carol, 8 Women, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Bishop’s Wife, Miracle on 34th Street, Stalag 17, The Shop Around The Corner, Meet John Doe, The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t, Holiday Inn, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, Remember the Night, The Apartment, The Nutcracker, Bush Christmas, It Happened On Fifth Avenue, Holiday Affair, Christmas in Connecticut, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Holly and the Ivy

From the past couple of decades: Scrooged, Elf, Unaccompanied Minors, A Midnight Clear, UN CONTE DE NOËL, In Bruges, The Santa Clause, One Magic Christmas, Tangerine, Batman Returns, The Nativity Story, Prancer, Jingle All The Way, About a Boy (surprisingly not about NAMBLA), The Family Stone (not at all like the classic Heinlein book: Rolling Stones), Scrooge, Eyes Wide Shut, Joyeux Noël

Christmas Horror Movies: Black Christmas, Sint, The Dead, Krampus, Silent Night Deadly Night, Jack Frost, One Hell Of A Christmas, Don’t Open Till Christmas, Santa Claws, To All A Goodnight, The Children, Treevenge, Feeders 2: Slay Bells, Home for the Holidays, Elves, Christmas Evil

Note entirely honorable mentions (which isn’t to say they suck, but they might): Christmas with the Kranks, The Lemon Drop Kid, All I Want for Christmas, Just Friends, I’ll Be Home For Christmas, Angels Sing, Beyond Tomorrow, Metropolitan, Home Alone 2, The Best Man Holiday, Reindeer Games, The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs Clause, Trapped in Paradise, Susan Slept Here, The Ref, Mixed Nuts, While You Were Sleeping, The Man who Came To Dinner, White Christmas, Bell Book and Candle

December 7th, 2015

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I was young, I needed the ruppies. It’s an old saying in the world of tech-nerds that describes doing silly things early on in your Legend of Zelda games in order to build up money to buy better swords, bows, and other things that you needed in Zelda. The first time I did an interview with someone in the press, I got caught of guard and said something wasn’t exactly what I meant. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but when an article came out a few weeks later I was surprised to see that the one quote used was the flippant remark I made; a remark that was arguably true or false. But not at all what I intended.

Later, I reviewed some of my high and low points from the year with a friend who was a district attorney at the time (due to her great judgement, she’s now a judge). She told me that in law school, they taught that when they prepared witnesses for the stand, they tell them to listen to the whole question and then only provide an answer once they’ve gone through it in their head. I did this for a long time in press interviews. And I should still do it. These days I have a lot of the answers on the tip of my tongue already. So for those I can just say them and then for new questions, I can think it through.

Not everyone in the press is exactly understanding or patient. But, I speak about Apple topics. And anything about Apple (especially security-related) is often spun to put Apple in a negative light. It’s a price of success and Apple seems to embrace it by providing free PR training to employees and being gracious. The press will often look for something to sensationalize. It sells papers. Or drives links. Or get social media love. But it can often put interviewees in the hot seat. So unless you know an answer to a question, feel free to take your time answering it. If you don’t, you might wish you’d ever done an interview.

December 4th, 2015

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Many devices die the day their warranty expires, but my trusty Apple Airport that carries wireless signal to my drums lasted forever. OK, not forever, But let me tell you, music notes can visibly be seen traveling through the air to get to me when I’m on those drums and that Airport is beaming Spotify or Apple Music to me. And this Airport, it just kept huffing and puffing along. For 6 years, as though to say, “I must be worth more per day of use that that craptastic Linksys the neighbor spent $40 on.” It’s a pride thing, ya’ know… Until today. And let me tell you, you gotta’ have wireless signal extended to your drums. So what do you do? You go to the Apple Store. I jump back in my little Prius, and go to pull out of my garage, about 3 miles from the mall. And pulling out of my alley the traffic starts.

Seriously, there’s never traffic on my street. I look at the next street, and there are people trying to pull out of their house too. And we’re all just kinda’ stuck. All pointing in the same direction. I try to pull onto the street, but the 84 year old lady next door is already there, and flicks me off. This, after I raked her leaves all fall. And trimmed her bushes. I figure maybe she doesn’t recognize me, but then she tells me to roll my window down. I do, and she says “Charles, if you try to pull in front of me, I’ll kneecap you in your sleep.” Guess she does recognize me…

After she pulls up, I edge into the lane and she flicks me off again from her rear-view mirror. Aggressive. I get my phone out and put on a little music. My soundtrack for this drive will be That’s Still Mama, from Cody ChesnuTT. I recommend reading this to that soundtrack.

There’s a wall of cars. More cars than I’ve ever seen in my neighborhood. And it’s snowing. When I make a right turn a couple of blocks later it’s a straight shot to the mall. I can see ahead of me, there’s a sea of cars. And there are people getting out of their cars, running away. Why? Because there’s a group of nuns eating a poor child. Once all of the cars are clear, I see the nuns jump up, wipe off, and the kid gets up. Wait, what? They jump in their van and drive along the shoulder in a straight shot to the mall. Wow, the kind of preparation to fake a zombie apocalypse in order to get to the mall quicker, that’s some serious premeditation… Then I recognize them. They chased me a few years ago in the mall… I look at my watch and remember that back in 2009, I took a trip to the Apple Store on a random Friday to get a new Airport. It turned out to be quite an adventure, filled with homicidal nuns, a vorpal bell toting Salvation Army guy (very different than a green army guy), and a hipster wearing an outfit that has now become somewhat mainstream (as all edge fashions will do before they become old hat and you get stoned for wearing them). You can find the description of this journey here: http://krypted.com/mac-os-x/friday/.

You know, this year, I think I can do without my wireless, so I just go home. One less flannel-wearing bearded guy to contend with. And one who will have his holiday decorations done today. Happy holidays, ya’ll.

November 27th, 2015

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A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. A true classic. Especially here in Minnesota, where it all started. Woodstock and Snoopy save the day, you learn a simple lesson about the pilgrims. And of course, Thanksgiving dinner served up on a ping-pong table. Classic.

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Steve Martin and John Candy in their prime. Traveling across the country to get home for Thanksgiving. “Those aren’t pillows” is still a classic line from a classic movie. It is a different time. 1987. And a few of the jokes might not be as PC today as they were just before Jeremy Piven made it where it was only PC to wear flannel in PCU. Another classic. But Planes, Trains and Automobiles is on Netflix; PCU isn’t. And PCU isn’t about Thanksgiving.

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The Scent of a Woman. Al Pacino as a blind alcoholic colonel who tangos and drives a Ferrari. Prep school kid (Chris O’Donnell with great hair) falls for a girl, shows the utmost integrity and impresses the colonel, who it turns out served on LBJ’s staff. A young Philip Seymour Hoffman and Gabrielle Anwar are also in this movie, which is not on Netflix.

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Alice’s Restaurant. Produced in 1969, amidst counter-culture turmoil, this movie follows the wild adventures of Arlo Guthrie, visiting Alice for Thanksgiving, making questionable decisions and having Cool Hand Luke-style issues with authority. It’s quirky, slow, but endearing. Not on Netflix at the moment.

Dutch. Ed O’Neill (Married with Children, Modern Family, etc) is a typical 90s-era construction worker, picking up an unwilling private school kid. The two immediately hate each other and travel across the country just being awful. I like awful, so I like this. Except of course there’s a happy ending. But then, it’s kicking off the holiday season, so why not have a little happy… And it’s on Netflix.

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A New World. I’m not sure that Colin Farrell makes a convincing John Smith, but it is good to have a little history lesson in the day to be thankful. Of course, it’s a love story. Complete with Pocahontas, a Native American princess. Not currently on Netflix.

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Pocahontas. Disney. Good cartoon for the kids. John Smith can’t hold a candle to the wisdom of the tree spirit. Better than Sleeping Beauty. Good to have the heroine save the day. Aaaand, it’s available on Netflix.

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Home for the Holidays. Robert Downey Jr (who was young once), Holly Hunter, Dylan McDermott, Anne Bancroft, Thanksgiving stress, boyfriends, turkey, family drama, more family drama. A great saw-toothed tension structure, good writing, somewhat realistic, and some pretty darn good acting. Although not on Netflix… But if you take Thanksgiving out of the equation, the best stand-alone movie on the list, for sure!

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The Blind Side. Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for rescuing a poor, really big, kid from the streets. Of course, it’s an ‘Ole Miss tradition to do so when the kid is an NFL-caliber football player. True story. Thanksgiving is for football. The whole darn weekend. But the movie is not on Netflix, so you’ll have to get it elsewhere if you’re gonna’ watch it while the turkey followed by Wild Turkey is putting you to sleep.

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Hannah and Her Sisters. If anyone can make a day off and lots of food suck, it’s Woody Allen. Oooooof course, as with all Woody Allen movies, Woody Allen is in love affairs with the leading ladies,including Mia Farrow and a young Dianne West. Also like all Woody Allen movies, amazing dialog. Not on Netflix.

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Honorable Mentions:

  • The War at Home
  • Avalon
  • The Ice Storm
  • Rocky finally gets a date with Adrian!
  • She’s Gotta Have It
  • Pieces of April
  • Stagecoach
  • Broadway Danny Rose
  • The Myth of Fingerprints
  • Free Birds
  • Addams Family Values
  • Grumpy Old Men
  • Son in Law
  • The Big Chill
  • Four Brothers
  • You’ve Got Mail
  • Annnnnnd of course, ThanksKilling!

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November 26th, 2015

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November 24th, 2015

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