Saturday, June 18, 2016

How the Earth will look...someday

Here's a post that I have been meaning to place for quite some time, but never thought of it.

Those who have read through the end of the Book of Revelation have seen John's vivid description of what a new Heaven and a new Earth will be like.  It will be centered on a New Jerusalem, which is incredibly huge - 1,400 miles long, wide, and even deep.  According to chapter 21:
  • The city will not need any light sources since God will provide it.
  • There will be no temple, but Jesus Christ himself will have his throne there.
  • A "river of life" with fruit trees will run through the center of the city.
  • Twelve gates will lead into and out of the city - three from each of the four directions.

And this was my inspiration for the map you see below.  I have relocated 12 different parts of the world to the areas around each of the gates.   They are numbered as on a clock, as follows:
  • Gate 12 (due north) - Scandinavia, western Russia, Ukraine
  • Gate 1 - Eastern Russia, northern China, central Asia
  • Gate 2 - China, Taiwan, Japan, North and South Korea
  • Gate 3 (due east) - Southeast Asia, Guam
  • Gate 4 - Australia, New Zealand, southern Pacific
  • Gate 5 - Afghanistan, Indian subcontinent
  • Gate 6 (due south) - Middle East, north Africa
  • Gate 7 - Africa south of the Sahara
  • Gate 8 - Latin America except northern Mexico, Caribbean
  • Gate 9 (due west) - Hawaii, Alaska panhandle, southern Canada, contiguous United States, northern Mexico
  • Gate 10 - Western Europe
  • Gate 11 - Most of Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland

Please note that some places, especially Europe, have been separated to the point that they are no longer close to any piece of land now attached to it.  But those are unavoidable.  Also, I've placed the regions as close as possible to each other to fit the description of Rev. 21 that the new Earth "shall have no seas" (probably a paraphrase on my part).

Within the New Jerusalem, I have marked Jesus' throne, the river of life, the theater where the Barefoot family performed their Dixie Rising show, and Matt's American Boardwalk.  The last of these is an entertainment mega-complex owned by a character I'm introducing now, Matt Bump.  Features include video games, miniature golf, bowling, a water park, fair-quality rides, and a restaurant and bar.  Think of it as Dave & Buster's, Boomers, and Round 1 - all found in or near this area - rolled into one.

As I wrote as part of this summary page, the entire family goes to Matt's just hours before Dixie Rising - except for Miss Hambone and Ralph, who are left behind in the hotel due to a chaperone arrangement.  Hambone, sufficiently pissed off, has the performance of her life a few days later.  (It should be noted that they are picked up to go to Matt's to join everyone else for the pre-show dinner.  For dessert, they all have the Jack Attack, Bump's most brilliant creation ever.  It is an ice-cream cake with seven ingredients inspired by wrong answers in the bonus game of You Don't Know Jack - "boogers" [chocolate malted balls], "snot" [caramel], "chipped beef" [dark chocolate sauce], "tuna fish" [coconut/whipped cream mix], "chicken" [vanilla ice cream], bananas, and cherries.)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Harvey's "book report" on the Ultimate Fighting Championship

The favorite thing about creating and nurturing my characters is giving them what they need to expand them to the point of being realistic.  And where these features come from could literally be anywhere.

Harvey is one of my newer characters.  I immediately revealed a few things about him; among them, he was a wrestling star in his teenage years.  I had him reach the quarterfinals of the 165-pound class in the North Carolina high school state tournament.  (This is in the collage on the bottom right.)
Until a few years ago, there were few options for wrestlers once their high school - or for the best ones, college - career ends.  There's always the chance to go to the Olympics, but then what?  Real Pro Wrestling was an option, with freestyle wrestlers competing in a pro team franchise format, but it only lasted one season before it went away.  Of course, learning the choreographed style of professional wrestling is an option, but only those who are very big and who have the personality can succeed in the transition.

But in the last few years, another choice has emerged - mixed martial arts, and specifically the big dog of the industry, the Ultimate Fighting Championship.  Chuck Liddell and Brock Lesnar are probably the most famous of those who have made the transition from the mat to the octagon.

Harvey has a desire to one day compete in the UFC, but realizes that his full-time duties on the family farm will most certainly prevent that from happening.  Nonetheless, that hasn't stopped him from following the UFC and learning all he can about it.  Here's his all-too-brief history:

It's hard to believe how the Ultimate Fighting Championship started and how fast it has entered the public consciousness of sports fans.  When it began in 1993, it was literally style versus style in an eight-fighter tournament.  Royce Gracie, who helped invent Brazilian jiu-jitsu, was the first tournament winner.

Back then, there were no weight classes and very few rules.  It got so brutal that state regulators wouldn't allow the fights to happen, and television providers would not carry the pay-per-view.

What saved UFC were a few rules changes and a new and bold change in direction at the top.  First, by UFC 21 in 1996, weight classes were introduced and matches broken down into rounds, just like in boxing.  But the biggest move was when Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, two brothers who owned a Las Vegas casino, purchased UFC.  They then installed Dana White, a family friend, at its president.  The bald-headed Bostonian has since defined "tireless," spending every hour possible promoting the UFC and its fighters.

UFC not only attracted fighters with boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, jiu jitsu and other backgrounds that combined their skills to make an entirely new sport called mixed martial arts, they also attracted their fans.  Even the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, which had specialized in pro wrestling coverage, has covered UFC and other forms of MMA in depth over the last decade.

As UFC 200 approaches, the sport is one of the most-watched in the second tier in sports (that's the group behind the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball, and on par with NASCAR, the PGA Tour, and Major League Soccer).  For its cards, UFC can draw on a pool of some 600 fighters, men and women from all over the world and of all shapes and sizes.

And I firmly think UFC is here to stay - and I'm not alone!

(The files accompanying this article are screen grabs from a personal project in which I summarize all 199 of the numbered cards UFC has run so far.)

In upcoming, I will name Harvey's favorite moments and fighters from the UFC.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

You can't keep me down forever!

For my first post in nearly two months, I show you the results of some recent Photoshop work.  One is completely new and the other is a revision.  Both took less than 30 minutes to complete earlier this week.

First is the revision.  In my 2014 book, I depicted a "graduation photo" of Brandy after taking ballroom dancing classes with Lena Peacock in a space I would have opened up on North Carolina Route 96 just north of Meadow.  Although this was a good photo montage, I found some ideas to make it better.  For one thing, I now have a font (Edwardian Script) that was not available to me at the time.  Also, I wanted to change the text caption orientation so that it is printed around the chandelier in the backdrop picture of the ballroom.  (I also could have cropped the picture to remove the chandelier, but some captions would have been omitted.)  In addition, I changed Blake's doppelganger from a bookish, bespectacled young man to a more athletic figure, actually Campbell baseball player Matthew Barefoot.

Here's what it looks like now:

The new montage has some exciting news from the Barefoot family universe: Bubba Brister, blues/gospel singer and friend, is getting married!  His belle is Ashley Creech, actually "played" by Megan Leigh Naylor, a bride-to-be who lives in Harnett County, NC.  As for Brister, his face replaces that of Garrett David Godwin, Naylor's future husband.  The base ad appeared in a special edition of The Daily Record and I used the snipping tool to make it a distinct file.  Some cloning and new text later, and voila!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

BMN Celebrity Superfan New Orleans finally ends!

In an unusual turn of events, I decided to skip two entire scheduled episodes of BMN Celebrity Superfan: New Orleans and go straight to the finale, which would have aired on March 20, 2016.  The final three are Brooke Liptrap, Sean Lowe, and Sadie Robertson.

The three remaining contestants gather at an office building in downtown New Orleans.  There, a board has been set up, which is actually a mosaic puzzle.  When the lights are revealed in a certain way, it reveals a picture of the bow taken by the 13 Barefoot Farm residents at the end of their New Jerusalem show.  The object is to reveal the pieces that are actually in the picture and avoid the ones that are not, and complete it as fast as possible.  The contestant with the slowest time will be eliminated.

After they had competed one at a time in the building, Brooke has the fastest time at 2 minutes, 13.5 seconds.  Sadie (2:21.6) edges out Sean (2:23.4) for second and advances to the final test of the season.

The finalists are taken by sport utility vehicle to the Grants' residence to participate in the move-in of the family to the renovated house and backyard.  Meanwhile, a ceremony takes place after which the Grants react emotionally to their new surrounding.  "This is worth waiting 10 years for," Evelyn says, to which Shandi Finnessey replies, "And this had to seem like a lifetime."

Brooke and Sadie go into the final challenge.  Both take seats on the bottom of a five-level elevator, and each is given a series of questions about the season.  A correct answer moves them up one level; they stay at the same level for each wrong answer.  The first to reach the top level wins the grand prize of a $100,000 donation.

The season is decided when Sadie knows that LeCrae was the first to make a putt for his team in the golf competition, but Brooke does not.  The Duck Dynasty scion exults, "I'm so glad I didn't finish in second place again!"  Brooke, on the other hand, is proud to get farther than even what she thought was possible.
Prize list
$100,000 donation for winner:
$25,000 donation for second place:
$10,000 donation for third place:
  • Sean Lowe - True Love Waits
$1,000 donations:
  • Heather & Laura Beanblossom - CEN Foundation
  • Candace Cameron Bure - Sherwood Baptist Church
  • Alex Debogorski - Inuit Scholars' Fund
  • Melinda Doolittle - Music scholarships at Belmont University
  • Bethany Hamilton - Soul Surfer Fund
  • LeCrae - C.O.G.I.C. Health Care Foundation
  • Shawn Michaels - Texas Special Olympics
  • Ryan O'Quinn - Creation Museum
  • Tim Tebow - Tim Tebow Foundation
  • Nick Vujicic - Life Without Limbs

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Some "ads" I made in InDesign

As you can tell, it's been a month since I was last on this blog.  Frankly, this is because I have run out of new ideas to put on it.

I created two new episodes of BMN Celebrity Superfan: New Orleans, which would have taken it until Feb. 21, but then hit a writer's block after that.  I can tell you that when I stopped the competition, there were four contestants left: Sadie Robertson, Shawn Michaels, Bethany Hamilton, and Brooke Liptrap.  Fortunately, I have a weeklong break coming up, so maybe I will finish the season then.  Of course, I will post all the results.

In the meantime, I have some "advertisements" to show you.  All of these are from an event program I created about the Pink Barefoot reunion, which is actually a personal InDesign file.  In case you've forgotten, I've inserted Buddy Wayne and all of the associated characters into the real-life pedigree of Miles Vinson "Pink" Barefoot and hundreds of descendants would come to Meadow, NC, for a reunion in every year that ends in an odd number.

Meadow is an unincorporated township in Johnston County and the U.S. Postal Service has placed it within three different ZIP codes.  For the program, I saluted the three communities with those codes.

The center of the area, officially called Peacocks Crossroads, as well as the Meadow Lights seasonal attraction, is in ZIP code 27504.  Also in this ZIP code is Benson, located in Johnston County.  In this small town of about 3,500 people, B.W. lived for the first 18 years of his life, then returned after a brief period of time overseas.  Here's the ad, which spotlights its two major annual events.

The Pink Barefoot cemetery, which will become the site of the family reunion in the time to come as prophesied in the Book of Revelation, is in the southwest part of the township and shares the ZIP code of 28334 with the small city of Dunn, population 15,000, in Harnett County.  This ad recognizes the two times it has won the "All-American City" award.

The farm house is in the southeast portion and shares ZIP code 28366 with Newton Grove.  Only about 1,100 people live in this small town at the northern edge of Sampson County.  In recent years, the town has seen an influx of Mexican immigrants, as evidenced by a Catholic church and ethnic restaurant/market located in the center of town.  Here is the ad I made for it; unfortunately, the website was down the day I tried to visit it and the town's Facebook page hasn't been updated since June 24 of last year.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

BMN Celebrity Superfan New Orleans: Episode 5

This is the episode that would have aired on Feb. 7, 2016. - D.H.

A shakeup in the teams begins this episode, as a random draw determined new teams.  Sadie kept Alex and Laura, while Shawn kept Tim and Candace.  Everyone else gets new teammates.  Heather is especially distraught; she says she has never been apart from Laura for longer than "maybe an hour."  On the other hand, Ryan and Melinda are excited about going to what they see is the team with momentum.

The new teams are tasked with making decorations that will help welcome the Grants to their new home.  Both sides do separate parts of the house and are judged by professionals.  The new Team Shawn wins the advantage for the main challenge at night.

For the main challenge, the teams are locked into a luxury box at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  There, Jennifer - dressed as her mystery novel character, Ella Nellie Bell Littlebridge - greets them and gives them the rules: Using a series of interlocking and complex clues, find a way to get out of the luxury box as quickly as possible.  The team that does so in the fastest time wins immunity.

Teamwork is so important, but with these being two new teams, chemistry is obviously difficult to achieve on both teams.  When Alex Debogorski is seen misreading two clues, his new teammates on Team Sadie wonder if this is his way to subtly sabotage them.  On the other side, Tim Tebow tries to push Sean and Heather, maybe a bit too hard.

The new Team Sadie beats the new Team Shawn by about three seconds for immunity.  The panel then sends Heather home.  It was one of the most emotional moments ever captured on the show, as Laura says goodbye to her twin.  "Joni Mitchell was right: You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone," Laura says in confessional.

At the end of the show, Laura excuses herself to talk to Heather.  A producer then suddenly asks, "Would you like to go home, too?"  That's how the episode ends.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

BMN Celebrity Superfan New Orleans: Episode 4

It's time for me to catch up with the episode that would have run on BMN TV on Jan. 31, the week before the Super Bowl. - D.H.

For this episode, the teams come together to work on the backyard.  It will include playground equipment, a ball pit, a bounce house, tables, chairs, and a fire pit.  Shandi stops the work to make an announcement: Each team is now tasked with decorating the planters that will go outside!  The winning team in this part of the challenge gets the advantage for the dinner challenge.

Team Sadie's "patriotic" design of red roses and white and blue tulips is judged better than Team Shawn's hydrangeas in a vase shaped like an ancient Egyptian urn.

As with the previous week, the main challenge directly ties in to the work they've done all day.  It's a relay race through a mayhaw patch.  A maze is placed in the patch, and contestants have to answer questions about scenes from Gone Barefoot and its spin-off shows.  Answer correctly and the team member gets a clear path to tag to a teammate; get it wrong and teams will be diverted to paths surrounded by walls until they can guess correctly.  Alex Debogorski sits out as the extra member of Team Sadie.

Shawn Michaels gets his team out to an early lead, but LeCrae, Nick Vujicic, and Brooke Liptrap all answer incorrectly on their first times out, causing the lead to evaporate.  Meanwhile, Sadie Robertson and her teammates have a perfect score, leading to Team Sadie winning for the third week in a row.

At panel, factions against LeCrae, Nick, and Brooke develop, and the judges provide no clarity.  Brandon McLamb wants LeCrae to go since, in McLamb's eyes, the rapper has been the worst overall performer this season.  But Brooke and LeCrae want Nick to be eliminated, since they don't consider the limbless one to be a team player.  In turn, Nick wants Brooke gone, and tries to convince Mikel de Vries and Barbie Blank of the same.  Mikel agrees, but Barbie does not and prefers to send Nick home.  After nearly two hours of deliberation, Brandon convinces the others to go with his decision; therefore, LeCrae is eliminated from the show.