Another badbartopia email spoofer,
Sunny-day Disney adventure, and
Raymond E Feist book signing
This isn't a malware site. Honest injun!
A few years ago, I mentioned that some mass-mailing scumbag was sending out emails likely filled with links to malware using my domain as the sender address. Well, history has repeated itself. I was notified by GodDaddy (my web host) that my email account had likely been hacked and was told to change my password. I did, just to be safe, and then started looking more closely at the traffic on my email account. I discovered that I had received a whole bunch of undeliverable email messages on May 12 between 7:10am and 11:59pm, but I didn't see a single email to any of these addresses in my "sent items" email folder.
After changing my password (around 6 hours after these undeliverable messages started coming in), I continued to receive the undeliverable emails, which makes me wonder how many of these messages were actually deliverable (they were being sent to seemingly random telephone firstname.lastname@example.org). So there's probably a big group of angry Asian people out there (all the undeliverable emails I saw were full of Asian characters sets) who want to tear badbartopia down.
I assume Godaddy just didn't do the legwork to determine that the emails weren't actually coming from my email account and the aforementioned scum bellies were just spoofing my email address as the sender (something that's not difficult at all to do). But maybe I'm wrong - the messages stopped coming in by the end of the day on May 12, so maybe the password change did thwart them somehow. Or maybe Godaddy did something. I don't know.
So if you're one of the lucky email recipients coming here to see why you got malware email from my domain, hello. And don't blame me.
The Land of Disney!
As I mentioned, the wife and I went to Disneyland again earlier this month. Unlike the previous visit that was so perfect for deterring crowds, this visit, sadly, was cloud and rain-free. The sun was out and so were the crowds. The lines were long, and people were everywhere - much less bundled up than they were on our previous visit.
We used Downtown Disney parking again, but this time we used 4.5 of the 5 hours allotted to us with validation (we ate at our usual restaurant, the La Brea Bakery, and had another overpriced, but very tasty Disneyland meal - mine was breakfast, the wife had a sandwich). This time, when getting validated by the waiter, I actually mentioned the 4 hours specified on the parking ticket vs the 5 hours outlined on the Disney web site. And our waiter had an actual explanation. He told us that the 3 and 5 hour hour validated-parking deal on the web site is the actual parking policy in Downtown Disney. Disney Management ordered way too many cards (and validation stamps) when the 2 and 4 hour validated-parking policy was in effect, then changed the policy soon thereafter. The correct validation policy is also visible on the signs you see when giving your parking ticket to the parking attendant on the way out (too late to be of any use), stating the 3 and 5 hour policy. So there you have it.
I've never really spent much time in the Hollywood section of California Adventure, so we decided to take a walk down that street before heading into Disneyland. Along the way, we grabbed fast-passes to Soaring Over Whatever-It-Is-Now (I haven't been on the ride since it was redone). But the passes weren't good for almost 3 hours from the time we got them, so it seemed unlikely that we'd use them (we didn't). We headed over to HollywoodLand street and took a closer look at the shops and restaurants on the street, quickly discovering that there really wasn't much that we'd missed by not spending time in this section of the park (mostly fast food and attractions for young children). We did take a walk through an art shop and I found a Mermaid/Pirate painting that was on a wooden plank and was super expensive that I wanted. A lot. But it was way too expensive, so it didn't get added to my art collection in the garage (where all the other art I've created or acquired over the years sits in boxes).
As I mentioned, the park was super-crowded, so I really hadn't planned to go on a lot of rides because I dislike standing in lines in the sun. My lily-white, albino skin and the sun are not friends. But we did head over to Pirates of the Caribbean, the one ride that's always worth the wait. As we neared the bridge over the end of the line, there didn't appear to be an eternally-long line stretching past the bridge (as there always is now on busy days), so we initially thought that, by some miracle, the ride had a short line again, as it had the previous visit. But as we came down the hill, we saw why there was no line - the ride was closed. So bummed.
So we headed over to The Haunted Mansion since it was nearby. And the line was just as crazy long as it always seems to be these days.
We walked around to a few of the other rides, finding the same heinously long lines everywhere. The Star Wars zone was still under construction and had a new obstruction preventing anyone from peeking through the door. After an hour or two of ride-free exploration, we decided to head to the ice cream shop and have our usual treats (my go-to is the Fanta orange cream float. Delicious) and then head out without going on a single ride. On the way out of Downtown Disney, we popped into anther art shop (the Wonderground Gallery) that caught my eye. There were a lot of the same old Disney prints you see in every Disneyland shop, but this shop also had a bunch of very unique prints I'd never seen by an artist named Jasmine Becket Griffith. She paints odd, big-eyed, very unique interpretations of all the most well-known Disney princesses and a couple of Star Wars heroines. The framed prints cost way more than I would spend, so I just picked up a couple of $5 3x5 postcards of my favorites: Leia and Rey. They're hanging on my cubicle wall now.
This concludes the latest episode of How Not to Visit Disneyland.
Raymond E Feist Signing
As I also very briefly mentioned last time, I attended a book signing for Raymond E Feist's newest book, King of Ashes, held at the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore on May 8. If you're a fan of the fantasy genre and over the age of forty, it's very likely you're familiar with the Magician series of books from the 80s: Magician (published in 1982 - a publisher cash grab led to the initial book being split into two volumes: Apprentice and Master), Silverthorn (1985), A Darkness at Sethanon (1986). I took my original paperback copies of Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master to the signing, along with the new hardcover of King of Ashes. There were about forty of my fellow nerds in attendance at the signing, many who had large tote bags filled with books they wanted R.E.F. to sign along with their new book (were it not for the requirement that you could only attend the signing with the purchase of the new novel, they doubtless would have just brought the stack of old books to be signed and then later sell on eBay). The two paperbacks I brought were purchased in 1990 (they don't look so bad for being 28 year-old paperbacks - I still have the original receipts for each one from Waldenbooks - but they're paperbacks, so signed or not, they won't be going up on eBay).
As with most signings, the author takes a while to talk about how he became a writer. R.E.F. said that he kind of accidentally became a writer. It sounds like writing as a career wasn't something he thought would ever be possible or even remotely likely until one of his D&D nerd buddies read some of the stuff he'd written to provide backstory to the role-playing games he played with his coven of weirdos. After reading the story, he looked at Ray and told him, "You're a writer." And the rest is history. There were a lot of other details about his climb to bestselling authorship, but that was a couple of weeks ago and the details now blur together with all the other stories R.E.F. told.
Amongst the stories I do remember (thanks to the barest of notes I took after the fact):
the similarities to Hamlet and Great Expectations in the Magician (showing that he's also pretty well-read). He mentioned that Pug's name was originally going to be Pip but Alan Dean Foster already had a Pip (I don't know that I've read that series - though the titles are familiar).
the way the first chapter of Magician kept being moved to later chapters as ideas for backstory kept interjecting themselves.
the characters in his stories live lives of their own in his subconscious, telling him how to write them.
R.E.F. didn't go to college until he was 27.
He's a native San Diegan and talked a lot about his kids who live in the Bay area and Massachusetts. He spends time with his kids playing World of Warcraft (he's a guildmaster in the game). He mentioned the specific server he plays on, but I haven't played Wow in so long, that I didn't really pay much attention to all the WoW talk.
He also talked a lot about his other books he's written and some of the character in those stories (some of which I may have read, but I have no specific recollection of any of the others - it's been almost thirty years since I read the Magician series).
He mentioned his books being optioned by Hollywood studios (it was a similar story to the one Tim Powers told about On Stranger Tides, except for the part about none of R.E.F.'s books being made into anything more than a video game in the 90s). As I recall, the game company didn't really have great success with the games.
R.E.F. name-dropped George R.R. Martin (apparently they know one another pretty well) and talked about how Game of Thrones could never haven been published in the 80s because book publishers would have considered it too "adult." Which is funny, because I remember the original Wild Cards anthology from the late 80s and early 90s (edited and occasionally contributed to by George) being pretty explicit. Maybe not GoT explicit, but explicit for the times.
R.E.F. didn't mention the 2006 comic book adaptation (which I had completely forgotten about before the signing, or I would have brought a couple of issues with me to be signed) of Magician. I have the 12 issue Dabel Brothers/Marvel Magician Apprentice series and the 5 issue Marvel Raymond E Feist's Riftwar series. I mumbled something about this to R.E.F. at the signing and he mostly just looked confused. He did eventually say something about "oh, the adaptations. Context!" when he figured out what the deranged mumbler in front of him was saying.
I still have a bunch of stuff to blather on about (a quick trip to Idaho, a whole bunch of books I've read recently, the CDs I keep mentioning, etc.), but to be merciful, I'm going to end here for now. More soon.