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Leif M. Wright is author of true crime thriller Deadly Vows
and gritty murder mystery novel
Minister of Justice.

I started out thinking The Magicians was Harry Potter for American college kids. But I was wrong. The series follows the lives of young adults who have been recruited into a secret college where they learn magic - so you can see the connection with the Harry Potter world.

And, of course, there's a big, bad villain who people don't talk about. So there's that, too.

But it turns out the show is really about growing up, feeling alone, feeling inadequate, knowing everyone else knows more than you, is better than you, and there's something to resonate with viewers if I've ever heard it.

And tonight's episode completely broke the Potter mold - the main protagonist woke up to find himself in a mental hospital where everyone, including his best friend, was doing everything they could to convince him he's crazy and there is no magic school.

I think I'm turning into a fan of the show. Add that to The Expanse, and I barely miss any of my regular shows.

Nothing shuts up a bunch of bragging like shutting down a ballyhooed offense. Wade Phillips' Denver Broncos defense did that tonight in dominating fashion. Everywhere the Carolina Panthers went, there were Broncos, slamming them into the ground, swatting down passes, hammering them, beating the will to win right out of them.

But I'm not going to do a Super Bowl recap. Instead, I'm going to say, Lady Gaga. HOLY SHIT.

The woman can sing. And not only that, she kept it almost traditional, singing the melody straightforward with only a few glisses and arpeggios here and there. The result was magical: an anthem worthy of the 50th celebration of America's sport.

Peyton Manning will never be John Elway, but he did an appreciable job making sure the defense was the star of the game - the way the team was built to play. There's something to be said for restraint, and Manning showed it. Overall, great game.

You may recall (if you don't, you can just scroll down) that I'm working on getting the Content Management System finished very quickly for a client that owns a bar.

Well, tonight, I finally cleared the biggest hurdles to getting that done.

Here's what the buttons are and what they do:

To the left of the headline:

  • The first button (with the pencil on it) lets the user edit the text.
  • The second button lets the user move the headline down to the top of the next paragraph. If this headline wasn't already at the top of the page, the user would be able to move the headline up, too.
  • The third button lets the user delete the headline.

To the left of the paragraphs:

  • The first button edits text
  • Second deletes the paragraph

Above the photo:

  • First button edits the caption.
  • Second, third and fourth buttons let the user move the image on the page. If the image wasn't at the right side of the page, there'd be a fifth button to move the image right.
  • Sixth button (with the double arrows) lets the user resize the image.
  • Seventh button (with the circle arrow) lets the user rotate the image.
  • Eighth button lets the user delete the image.

I can't reiterate enough how difficult it was to get all that stuff to where the user could do it without ever leaving the page. That page is already using my IneffableDB database engine, which handles all the back-end data, then Javascript is displaying and manipulating the page as the user changes things.

I'm pretty proud of it. I'm still working on other stuff, but it's minor stuff. I think IneffableCMS might be nearing alpha stage.

I sent this to my wife just now:

She's always had a weird phobia where hive-like holes in things give her the creeps. So occasionally, I'll poke at it.

I don't know what that picture is of, but whoever it is may need an exorcism. Or a chainsaw.

Today, I hooked up a third screen to my workstation in my office, because when you're working on large programming projects, it's handy to have different parts of the program displayed on different parts of the screen. That is for multiple reasons, one of which is sometimes you have to look somewhere other than where you're programming to make sure the part you're working on is correctly interacting with the other parts of the program. Other times, you have to make sure everything is exactly how you remember it.

So my wife came in while I was working and goes, "NERD!"

To which I answered, "Nerd's wife!"

Oh, burn.

I was offered a publishing contract for Robby the R-Word today. I haven't accepted it yet, because another publisher is also reviewing my manuscript, and I'm going to give it a little while before I make a decision. It's good to be wanted, though.

The acquisitions editor who read Robby the R-Word had some really flattery stuff to say about it:

There’s no shortage of evidence in this manuscript that Mr. Wright is a very talented writer. His quality level of writing is high and immediately draws the reader into the story. Robby the R-Word is inspiring, engaging the reader in several levels of thought as they follow the murder mystery cases while simultaneously empathizing with Robby. It encourages the reader to think about the dark shadows lurking in the otherwise vividly bright world around them. Above all, this manuscript is dark, detailed, daring, gritty, gruesome, emotional, and it isn’t suited for the faint of heart. It reads like a horror film, and it leaves the reader with a heavy weight in their heart and a sense of satisfaction (from righteous revenge) in their mind.

OK, lady, you're hired as my publicist forever! But then she went on:

The story demands the reader’s attention from the very beginning, and is engaging enough to keep the reader on their toes the whole time. This book is suited for an audience that is open to feel uncomfortable, wincing, feeling, and crying as they read. The daring style is comparable to Chuck Palahniuk’s novels.

That's right, you heard it here first: I've been compared favorably to Chuck Palahniuk. I've never read any of his writing, but I know people think he's great, so I'm flattered. And I loved the Fight Club movie, so there's that.

The truth is, you can't ever let flattering stuff like that go to your head, because it will turn you into a giant, throbbing douchebag.

That said, I think I'll bask in it for a few hours, anyway.

So I'm designing a website for a client who owns a local bar, and one of their requirements is to update it frequently. Well, I have no desire to get calls every night to post what band is about to play or whatever else passes for news at a bar, so it radically accelerated the need for my Content Management System to allow them to update the site themselves without my involvement.

And that meant rethinking how the thing worked. Currently, on this site, I log into a control panel and compose entries. To edit those entries, I go to the same control panel. But that's a habit I developed while using old-school CMSes - ones that, in my (not so) humble opinion, are poorly designed, which is one of the reasons I embarked on this project in the first place.

The very idea of a "control panel" means a user has to know more stuff than the average person, and that's exactly the kind of thing I was hoping to avoid. So last night, I redesigned the way the system works (I haven't implemented it here yet, but it's working smashingly on the bar site):

No cracks about my design skills, or lack thereof. The wood stuff is the actual bar top in the bar. The logo is designed to look like a coaster on the bar top.

When the owner logs in (a simple matter of going to the site and entering in his username and password), the site refreshes itself with buttons designed to facilitate editing individual items on the page. When he clicks on one of the items:

Then he can edit the site right there, without ever leaving his front page. If he wants to dig deeper, notice at the bottom of the white area, he can add to his page's text, add an image, add a completely new page (which will then appear on the menu on the left) or delete the page he's currently working on. When he adds a new page, the system creates a dummy page based on whatever template he selects (or the main page's template if he doesn't select a different one), fills it with dummy data (like the "lorem ipsum" stuff) and presents him with the editing buttons.

For blog-like pages (pages where there are multiple small "articles"), there is a button to add a single entry, which looks a lot more like a blog editor, but still appears in place.

I'm pretty stoked about it, and though there may be one somewhere, I can't think of another CMS that operates this way. I guarantee there's not one that operates this way AND is almost brainless to install. So I'm pretty excited.

Here's a page with a few more elements on it (this is a dummy page for another client using the same system):

For comparison, I looked at the source on a page at a newspaper in my hometown (my competition). I know from working there that they use a very complicated CMS. While viewing the page's source, the developer tools registered more than 400 errors (things that don't work) on the page and more than 300 warnings (things that should be fixed). That's the result of a system that's entirely too complicated.

So then I looked at the source on my CMS. Zero errors, zero warnings. That's heading in the right direction.

My love for reading police reports is well-documented. This morning, I came across this gem, from the Tahlequah, Oklahoma police:

I love that the dude was either:

  • So drunk he thought a $10 bill was his license
  • So drunk he thought a cop could be bribed for $10
  • So drunk he didn't care

On, by the way, a Thursday night.

So the next report is from an officer who clearly took a few English test, in which he done poorly on:

Whenever I play guitar, Asa runs from wherever he is in the house to jump up in my lap so he can grab all the strings and pretend like he's playing, too.

So when my friend and longtime bass player Gene Longcrier came over last night to pick out a few tunes in my office, it was fun to see Asa pick up his doggy guitar and play along:

My just-about-two-year-old's personality couldn't be more different from his four-year-old brother's.

The older boy, Axl, loves nothing more than learning. Loves to watch ABC shows on the iPad - or maybe shows of people scaring cats, which he thinks is hilarious. The younger boy, Asa, would rather put on a mask and run around the house yelling "rawrrr!"

Axl looks like a cartoon in everything he does, and he likes to make cartoon noises when he's playing imaginary games with his letters. Asa looks like a stunt man, and there's pretty much nothing he won't try, like riding Cowboy:

Axl is completely stoked when he gets new letters, or play-doh that he can make into letters or numbers, or letter stickers that he can put on the back of a door:

While Asa would much rather get in his little car and ram it into a barb wire fence:

Ultimately, both these kids are brilliant, but one is what I'd call "book smart" and the other is clever. Neither thing is right or wrong, but I think there's some definite difference in how we raised them. Axl was raised with unfettered access to educational games and shows on the iPad - and later YouTube, which he could deftly navigate before he was 15 months old.

He took full advantage, learning his alphabet forward and backward before he was 18 months old. He could count to 100 before he was 2. And letters are his best friends.

But Asa was born with an older brother who was jealous about iPad time - to the point that we had to keep one charging at all times so when he burned through the battery on the other one, he'd have one ready to watch. So Asa really never got access to the iPad the way Axl had, so he had to apply his intelligence to other areas - mainly humor. The kid is hilarious, and he has a very mature sense of humor, realizing what's funny to adults.

It'll be interesting to watch them grow and see how their early childhood plays out. Both boys are razor sharp, and I'm guessing their IQs are pretty similar, so it will be fun to see how they apply those big brains down the line.

Right now, Axl is watching Garfield on the TV, and Asa is playing with his grandparents. Probably trying on hats and watching to make sure he looks funny enough to make the adults laugh.

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