Friday, May 26, 2006

Separated at birth? <-------clicky clicky

(Like Larry the Cable Guy says, "Lord, I apologize for that there, please help the pygmies in New Guinea.")

Monday, May 22, 2006

Cross Enigma

Cross Enigma
Originally uploaded by Canis Major.
Cool double-image of a cross.
The World We Live In

This morning, riding up in the elevator, my two fellow passengers where sighing over the beginning of a Monday.

Fellow traveler #1: "Sigh. Mondays. Bleh."

Fellow traveler #2: "I hear ya. I don't like Mondays, either."

Moi: "I want to shoot the whole day down."

Cricket. Cricket. Cricket.

Moi: "Uh, it's a song, not a threat."


And then, on digg, I discover this case mod (making a custom container for a PC):

Info here.

I don't think this guy knows how much trouble he's going to have trying to transport that computer.

But I do feel better about my elevator joke.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Omnibus Music Postings (and other free stuff)

I've been cranking on today's posts a while now, it just so happens I've managed to bring them to completion at about the same time, so thought I'd post them as a set. There's at least two free songs to be had, if you're willing to hunt. Hope you enjoy them.

But before we get to the music stuff: this is the COOLEST piece of free software I've seen in a while (besides GIMP and Winamp). You can motor around the universe with photorealistic stars, planets, and even spaceships (with the copious add-ons). Kids of all ages, homeschoolers, and astronomy geeks need to have this software.

(Well, OpenOffice is pretty cool, too, but I have friends who work for Microsoft and so I have to keep up appearances (and, really, MS Office is still THE killer productivity app if you've got cash).)

(Heck, let's just let it all out; if you've got a bit of the geek in you, and are not afraid to read some notoriously snotty Linux documentation, Ubuntu (African term for "humanity" pronounced "oom-boon-too") is the first Linux distro that's ready for prime time on the desktop. The install is slick, and I honestly didn't need to configure a single thing to begin working. So if you wanna go free all the way, now you really can.)

On to the tunage!
Dear Lord, I've Actually Paid Money for Rap

But not entirely on purpose. I had hoped there wasn't any rap when I laid down the samolians, but was willing to take the risk.

Y'see, Gnarls Barkley's CD St. Elsewhere is one of those CDs I fell in love with instantly upon hearing a couple songs. It has one of those instant classics like Outkast's "Hey Ya" (go here or here, scroll down), entitled "Smiley Faces." (Btw, you can nab a low sample rate (but still great-sounding) mp3 of the best song, "Smiley Faces" by the method I describe in this post.)

My but the song is catchy. It's got this galloping bass riff and a hook that sounds much like orbiting kittens reentering the atmosphere. My 15-month-old has already given it the butt-dance seal of approval. can't get enough of it, either.

Gnarls Barkley is Danger Mouse, a/k/a Brian Burton and Cee-Lo Green, a/k/a Thomas Calloway.

Danger Mouse came to fame by creating the infamous Gray Album which mashed up Jay-Z's The Black Album and the Beatles' White Album, then released it into the wild on the web. It got him noticed.

Cee-Lo Green is relatively unknown, until now, of course. What a voice this guy's got.

The beginning of summer has always seemed like the time to get some new stuff for basking in the glory of a perfect hot day, when grooves seem to wrinkle the air itself. Once in a while an album comes out that's a product of everything that came before it, and this is one of those albums. If those two events coincide with one another, you've got a little slick of heaven and a bag of chips (throw on a cold beer you're there). Past alignments of summertime and great albums have been Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours", Dave Matthews Band "Stand Up", Steve Miller's "Book of Dreams".

Btw, the best way to find mp3s for sampling before you buy is Altavista's Audio Search. That's how I found those two versions of "Hey Ya."
A Kiss on the Cheek

Ok, the Flaming Lips are a great band. And I mean great in the true historical sense. They will end up on desert island lists for the foreseeable future.

I started with Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, still their best. At the time, I thought it was a one-time kinda thing. A rarity. That weird once in an artist's lifetime where everything just comes together and it's magic.

The other day one of the guys at work admitted to being a convert, thanks to me. I'd lent him a copy months ago, but he'd gotten busy, forgotten about it, and happed across it in your typical "what's this again?" fashion, and got totally hooked. He played it with "what's wrong with me?" dismay to his bemused wife - a scene I went through with my SO. And it's like that with the Flaming Lips, you find yourself liking them entirely in spite of yourself.

So I bought their latest At War with the Mystics blindly, not expecting it to be anywhere near as good as "Yoshimi," but was happily surprised.

Ok, so two good ones in a row made me wonder if their pre-Yoshimi CD, The Soft Bulletin, was good, too. It was a critic's darling, but the samples on Amazon didn't move me. Well, silly me, hearing any 30 seconds of Yoshimi wouldn't have either, but that didn't occur to me.

So, I just decided to try the real thing, and I ended up playing it as much as the other two. And that's when I realized, they had three total winners in a row. Open the pantheon. Alert the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that Bruce Springsteen, Keith Richards, and Bono will end up jamming with Wayne and the boys. That will be a sight.

Besides the fact that they're eclectic, weird, and funny, I had wondered why their sound appeals to me so much. Groovin' along the other day, it dawned on me it was the drums. The drumming is universally fantastic and unlike most other rhythm sections you've heard.

I do NOT expect you to take my word for it. Actually, I'd rather you listen to them before you shell out because you will either love them (and not be able to get them out of your head for days) or hate them with a passion typically reserved for "You Light Up My Life" by Debbie Boone.

So, go to their excellent site where they have complete versions of many of their songs available. Get the good speakers on, turn it up, because they sound better when allowed as much range as possible.

To listen: select the "Audio" tab, then "Select Track" and move your mouse over the squares. Song titles will pop up. Try "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song", "Fight Test", "Race for the Prize", and their old hit "She Don't Use Jelly."

Rock. On.
It's a Gift

Or a curse. As an adjunct to being the Cliff Claven of rock/pop trivia, I can compile a themed song list for about any occasion.

I ran out of rack space for new CDs a few months back, so I decided to whittle things down a bit by combining some artists onto a single greatest hits disc, taking older CDs that clock in at 30 and putting two on one CD, gathering one hit wonders together, etc.

I also create custom covers for these CDs I make, and I've found Flickr to be a fecund source for pictures.

I told you that to tell you this: I've never been much of a Lynyrd Skynyrd fan. Even though I love the riff on "Sweet Home Alabama", the swipe at Neil Young's anti-racism song always stuck in my craw. If I ever take hostages and you need to blast sound at me to rattle my cage, you couldn't do much better than "Freebird." So, when it came time to combine the lovely wife's Skynyrd CDs into one, I serendipitously found this photo you see on the right. (Here's a link to the unaltered original.)

Well, I felt it was only fair to tell the photographer, Michaelia, of my desecration. But then it made me start thinking of what kind of song list would be appropriate for a CD with that cover, provided that the compiler didn't have it in for Lynyrd.

And here it is (yes these are all real songs and groups):

She Came in Through the Bathroom Window - Beatles
Yellow River - Christie
Mellow Yellow - Donovan
Whoomp! (There It Is) - Tag Team
It's a Monster - Extreme
World of Shit - Eels
Feels So Good - Chuck Mangione
Another One Bites the Dust - Queen
Moon River - Henry Mancini
Splish Splash - Bobby Darrin
Kick It Out - Heart
Lump - Presidents of the United States of America
Let You Go - Big Mountain
I Can't Let Go - Head
Over the Falls - Primus (from "The Brown Album")
You Treat Me Like Chocolate - 30 Odd Foot of Grunts (from the album "Gaslight")
Swallow My Gift/Farm Noises/Folsom Prison Blues - 30 Odd Foot of Grunts (from the album "Other Ways of Speaking")
Pressure Drop - Toots & the Maytals
Bam Bam - Toots & the Maytals
Floater - The Cruel Sea
Wind Beneath My Wings - Bette Midler

My mother would be so proud. (Actually, because she's aware of my gift/curse, I got the job of putting together CDs for her casino. They were quite the hit, she informs me.)
The Five Stages iPod

(Based on Kubler-Ross' five stages of death/grieving/Receiving Catastrophic News.)

With the advent of the iPod, many folks are rediscovering the joy of listening to a wide variety of music wherever they may roam, since radio gave up on the idea a few years ago.

Generally, this is a great thing. If the music companies weren't being so brain-dead, they'd realize the market has never been riper for reaping, but instead, as we all know, they're trying to place everything in a vault that you have to unlock every time you wanna hear "Build Me Up, Buttercup." And if you dare make a mix tape (or the modern equivalent) for your sweetheart, they'll fine you more money than you'd ever pay in your lifetime for music, and lock you in a dungeon so deep, the only thing you'll be able to hear is the mental echo of "Sympathy for the Devil."

Well, while the labels are trying to close the box and find out who this Pandora chick is anyway, the rest of us are just grooving along. Finally, we all own the best freakin' FM station in the nation.

However, I've noticed a pattern of acclimation. I went through it. I read about it on blogs. It appears to be common.

The five stages of iPod are:

1. The Thrill of Discovery - Oh My Gawd! I haven't heard the Oooga Chackas on "Hooked on a Feeling" in forever! Ooo! and "More Than a Feeling" still gets it up! Wow! Is that Billy Joel throwing up near the end of "My Life"? How in the hell did I end up with Wayne Newton's version of "Iron Man"?

2. Organization Frenzy - I can't have "Snack My Bitch Up" popping up when I drive the kids to school. If the guys heard any of my Barry Manilow Live set, I'd never hear the end of it. The Bee Gee's "Tragedy" ALWAYS has to follow "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" dammit.

3. Complacent Groovin' - Man, I had the iPod on through the entire grocery store, and the commute, and during that phone call from my mother-in-law. Life is grand.

4. The Stephen King Principle or You Can Only Hear "Louie Louie" So Many Times - No, I Won't Still Love You Tomorrow, and that goes for Carole as well as the Shirelles, dammit! How come that song comes up every freakin' day? As hard as it is to believe, I've come to hate "Blister in the Sun" so I won't let it go on.

5. Fresh Meat - I hadn't appreciated the latter oeuvre of Natalie Merchant until now. And that box set of Bulgarian Wind Chimes is quite pleasant on a Sunday morning. How come I've never heard of David Wilcox until now?

And there you have it.

What stage are you in? Or do you have stages not captured here?
Songs that Never Fail to Satisfy

I must confess that I don't really have an iPod. See, I got into MP3s way before they became common amongst non-IT folks (and aren't I a snot for saying it like that?). So, they've always lived on my various PCs (I usually have about 12 Gigs of songs on each system), or I've purposely sought out portable CD players, and/or home CD/DVD players that play MP3 discs (excellent for parties or playing tunes around the house literally all day without having to swap discs), so I haven't had to have an iPod. Nowdays, with cheap, tiny FM transmitters, you can play one of these things literally anywhere there's a radio, meaning you can get into the portable MP3 world for around $50, if you really want to.

Therefore, after years of experience, I've found a set of tunes that I've never tired of hearing. These are the ones that when they cycle around, I almost never hit the "next" button.

Thus, if you're needing to fill up that iPod, or those MP3 CDs for parties and vacations, I humbly submit the following list.

18 - Moby
100 Years - Five For Fighting
A Thousand Miles from Nowhere - Dwight Yoakam
Already Gone - The Eagles
Amazing - Josh Kelley
American Idiot - Green Day
American Patrol - Glen Miller
And I Love Her - The Beatles (The Beatles must not allow samples, only their #1s CD has them anywhere.)
Another World - Joe Jackson
Any Major Dude - Steely Dan
Babylon Sisters - Steely Dan
Baker Street - Gerry Rafferty
Bananas And Blow - Ween
Be Aggressive - Faith No More
Be My Number Two - Joe Jackson
Beautiful Friend - Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass
Bennie and the Jets - Elton John
Black Cow - Steely Dan
Black Friday - Steely Dan
Bodhisattva - Steely Dan
Boom Boom Ba - Metisse (See the post for how to nab this song for free.)
Breakdown Dead Ahead - Boz Scaggs
Brilliant Mistake - Elvis Costello
Capn Kirk - Bob Schneider
Cars - Gary Numan
Chain Lightening - Steely Dan
Change of the Guard - Steely Dan
Classical Gas - Mason Williams
Coming Up Close - 'Til Tuesday (Aimee Mann)
Dancing in the Dark - Bruce Springsteen
Danny's All - star Joint - Rickie Lee Jones
Deacon Blues - Steely Dan
Deep Purple - Nino Tempo And April Stevens
Dirty Work - Steely Dan
Do It Again - Steely Dan
Dodo - Dave Matthews
Dog and Butterfly - Heart
Don't Do Me Like That - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Downtown Train - Rod Stewart
Dust In The Wind - Kansas
Elevation - U2
Eminence Front - The Who
Emotion - Samantha Sang (Bee Gees)
Engine Engine No. 9 - Roger Miller
Even The Losers - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Every Kinda People (live version) - Robert Palmer
Eye Of The Hurricane - David Wilcox
Falling Stars - England Dan and John Ford Coley
Feel Like A Number - Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
FM - Steely Dan
Free Fallin' - Tom Petty
Free To Go - Folk Implosion
Get Off My Cloud - The Rolling Stones
Go - Pearl Jam
Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues - Danny O'Keefe
Great Pumpkin Waltz - Vince Guaraldi
Green Earrings - Steely Dan
Hard To Say - Dan Fogelberg
Heart Hotels - Dan Fogelberg
Helen Says - Hank (This shows the album, but there aren't samples.)
Help Me - Joni Mitchell
Hey Ya - Outkast
Hungry Heart - Bruce Springsteen
I Can't Wait - Nu Shooz
I Love Rock And Roll - Joan Jett
I Wish - Stevie Wonder
I'd Really Love To See You Tonight - England Dan and John Ford Coley
If I Can't Have You - Yvonne Elliman
If You Could Read My Mind - Gordon Lightfoot
I'm on Fire - Bruce Springsteen
In Between Days - The Cure
Jeopardy - Greg Kihn Band
Josie - Steely Dan
Joy - Apollo 100 featuring Tom Parker
Jukebox Fury - Rickie Lee Jones
Just Another Day - John Mellencamp
Just Like Heaven - The Cure
Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First) - John Mellencamp
Kick Out The Jams - The Presidents of the United States of America
Kinda Fonda Wanda - Neil Young and the Shocking Pinks
King of the Road - Roger Miller
King of the World - Steely Dan
Kiss - Prince
Kiss Me - Sixpence None the Richer
Kryptonite - Three Doors Down
Learn To Fly - Foo Fighters
Lido Shuffle - Boz Scaggs
Lie for a Lie - Nick Mason and Rick Fenn (with David Gilmore on vocals)
Life In One Day - Howard Jones
Life Of Illusion - Joe Walsh
Life's Been Good - Joe Walsh
Linus and Lucy - Vince Guaraldi
Lion Sleeps Tonight - The Tokens
Llorando (Crying) - Rebekah Del Rio (from the "Mulholland Drive"soundtrack)
Longview - Green Day
Looking for Clues - Robert Palmer
Lotta Love - Nicolette Larson
Love Her Madly - The Doors
Lullaby - The Cure
Lyin' Eyes - The Eagles
Magneto And Titanium Man - Wings (Paul McCartney)
Mainstreet - Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
Man Out of Time - Elvis Costello
Memo To My Son - Randy Newman
Mexico - Refreshments
Mint Car(radio mix) - The Cure
Mississippi Delta City Blues - Chicago
Mofo - U2
Moon June Spoon - Spot
My Cherie Amour - Steve Wonder
My City Was Gone - Pretenders
My Head's In Mississippi - ZZ Top
My Maria - B.W. Stevenson
Mysterious Ways - U2
Nag - Joan Jett
Name - Goo Goo Dolls
Natural One - Folk Implosion
Never Die Young - James Taylor
New Year's Day - U2
Night Moves - Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
Night Ride Home - Joni Mitchell
Nights are Forever Without You - England Dan and John Ford Coley
No Such Thing - Dwight Yoakam
Nothing In The World To Do With Me - Charlie Rich
Nowhere Man - The Beatles (The Beatles must not allow samples, only their #1s CD has them anywhere.)
Oh Well (live version w/Lindsey Buckingham) - Fleetwood Mac
Once in a Lifetime (live version) - Talking Heads
One - U2
One More Cup Of Coffee - Bob Dylan
One Thing Leads To Another - The Fixx
Only the Strong Survive - Jerry Butler
Overdrive - Foo Fighters
Peg - Steely Dan
Pink Panther Theme - Henry Mancini
Play that Funky Music (White Boy) - Wild Cherry
Popcorn - Hot Butter
Pretzel Logic - Steely Dan
Question - Moody Blues
Radio Sweetheart - Elvis Costello
Rainy Season - Aztec Camera
Ready To Go (single version) - Republica
Reason to Believe - Bruce Springsteen
Red Neck Friend - Jackson Browne
Reeling in the Years - Steely Dan
Refugee - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Rikki Don't Lose that Number - Steely Dan
Rock And Roll Never Forgets - Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
Rocket Man - Elton John
Saint Of Me - Rolling Stones
Satellite - Dave Matthews Band
Satellites - Rickie Lee Jones
Sausalito Summernight - Diesel
Say Goodbye to Hollywood (live version) - Billy Joel
Scarborough Fair/Canticle - Simon and Garfunkel
Seether - Varuca Salt
Shadows In The Rain - Sting
She Blinded Me With Science - Thomas Dolby
She Came On - Super Deluxe
Short Skirt, Long Jacket - Cake
Show Business Kids - Steely Dan
Show Me - Pretenders
Slow Ride (original long version) - Foghat
Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
So Lonely (live version) - The Police
Song2 - Blur
Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand - Primitive Radio Gods
Suffragette City - David Bowie
Summer Breeze - Seals and Crofts
Superman - Five For Fighting
Supernova - Liz Phair
Sweet Emotion - Aerosmith
Take a Letter Maria - R.B. Greaves
Take Five - Dave Brubeck
Taste of Honey - Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass
The Boys of Summer - Don Henley
The Dance - Garth Brooks ("Barf" (as I call him) don't allow no samples. Pirates, you know. So this is a link to a WAV file of the song.)
The Fez - Steely Dan
The Fly - U2
The Full Bug - Van Halen
The Late Great Golden State - Dwight Yoakam
The Middle - Jimmy Eat World
The Obvious Child - Paul Simon
The One Thing - INXS
The Way It Is - Bruce Hornsby
There Must Be An Angel Playing With My Heart - Eurythmics
There She Goes Again - The Boo Radleys
Things Change - Dwight Yoakam
This Boy - The Beatles (The Beatles must not allow samples, only their #1s CD has them anywhere.)
Time Out of Mind - Steely Dan
Time Passages - Al Stewart
Tiny Explosions - The Presidents of the United States of America
Too Late to Turn Back Now - Cornelious Brothers
Top - Live
Trouble - Cat Stevens
Twenty Flight Rock - Eddie Cochran
Vertigo - U2
Walk On The Wild Side - Lou Reed
Walk Tall - John Mellencamp
Walk This Way - Aerosmith
Walking On The Moon (live version) - The Police
Wanton Song - Led Zeppelin
Westward Wind - England Dan and John Ford Coley
What You Need - INXS
Whatever's Written In Your Heart - Gerry Rafferty
What's New - Linda Ronstadt and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra
When I Look at the World - U2
Whisper to a Scream - Icicle Works
Why Can't This Be Love - Van Halen
Wild Wild Life - Talking Heads
Will the Wolf Survive - Los Lobos
Winning - Santana
Wondering Where the Lions Are - Bruce Cockburn
Wot - Captain Sensible
Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald - Gordon Lightfoot
Wuthering Heights (greatest hits version) - Kate Bush
Year of the Cat - Al Stewart
You and I Both - Jason Mraz
You Might Die Trying - Dave Matthews Band
You're So Cool - Hans Zimmer

And if you wondered why some obvious songs weren't on the list, it's because the whole damn CD is good. Those are:
Electric Light Orchestra - A New World Record (Finally, in a remastered version! I've messed myself!)
Elvis Costello - My Aim is True
Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
"American Graffiti" Soundtrack
The Cars - The Cars (first album)
Paul Simon - Graceland
Billy Joel - The Stranger
Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Great Song for Free

The phenomenal, fantastic, but sadly cancelled show Dead Like Me had some great music (the score itself was by Stewart Copeland of the Police). A recurring theme was this song by Metisse called "Boom Boom Ba." Even the baby would stop what she was doing and point at the screen when the song came on, it's that good.

I inadvertently discovered you can snag it for free.

Using Microsoft Internet Explorer (because it preserves the names of all files downloaded), go here and wait for the song to play all the way through.

Under the Tools menu, select Internet Options, select the General tab, select the Settings button, select View Files, using the "Views" control on the file browser select "Details", click the "Last Accessed" column so it sorts the most recent to the top, and voila, at the top should be the mp3 file. Just copy it to where you want.

You're welcome.

Treasure Trove

The Pirate
Originally uploaded by Paula Wirth.
Paula Wirth has scanned pages and pages of pulp novel covers. What a find.

Have a look.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Heaven is a place

... where nothing ever happens, according to Dave Byrne of the Talking Heads.

I've always found that lyric equally funny and exasperating. It certainly illustrates the fact that the human imagination is incapable of envisioning what Heaven might be. (I certainly can't.)

That's not to say that greater minds than I have tried. For instance, Sociobiology founder Edward O. Wilson gives it a go in a recent interview.

Wilson: Would I be happy if I discovered that I could go to heaven forever? And the answer is no. Consider this argument. Think about what is forever. And think about the fact that the human mind, the entire human being, is built to last a certain period of time. Our programmed hormonal systems, the way we learn, the way we settle upon beliefs, and the way we love are all temporary. Because we go through a life's cycle. Now, if we were to be plucked out at the age of 12 or 56 or whenever, and taken up and told, now you will continue your existence as you are. We're not going to blot out your memories. We're not going to diminish your desires. You will exist in a state of bliss -- whatever that is -- forever. And those who didn't make it are going to be consigned to darkness or hell. Now think, a trillion times a trillion years. Enough time for universes like this one to be born, explode, form countless star systems and planets, then fade away to entropy. You will sit there watching this happen millions and millions of times and that will just be the beginning of the eternity that you've been consigned to bliss in this existence."

Salon: This heaven would be your hell.

Wilson: Yes. If we were able to evolve into something else, then maybe not. But we are not something else.

I would surmise that outside of the fact that we have trouble conceptualizing eternity, the primary reason no one can really imagine what Heaven is like is because IT'S NEVER BEEN DESCRIBED, at least in the Bible.

Yeah, supposedly the Koran promises virgins and licorice whips to those who blow themselves up in the middle of a preschool, providing the vaporized preschoolers are on Allah's shite list. But if Heaven's a place of rest (see there I go, assuming), then to immediately be set upon by a herd of horney chicks (again assuming here - on the presumption that if you didn't get any in your earthly life, you're gonna be motivated for a little heavenly humping) who've had to wait 'til you got there for some fun, I'm guessing "rest" will elude you for a while. (Besides, I always wondered; once you've worked your way through the virgins, what awaits you then? This strikes me as a rather finite Heaven.) (Also, this covers the guys, but what of the ladies? Of course, we know the virgins will await a freshly fragmented fiancé, but what of the vast majority of women who got it on while alive? 'Tis a mystery.)

But I digress. Heaven is a great unknown. And I'm here to prove it.

Before I go on, I must recuse myself in that I'm not a Biblical scholar. I've read plenty of translations, and know some stuff, but I won't pretend I'm any sort of authority on the matter. I am a hobbyist, an amateur. (Also, the Catholic and Orthodox churches have extra-Biblical and "traditional" information that some consider to be further revelations, and some of those might have some descriptions of Heaven. Even though I'm dimly aware they exist, I have never sought them out.)

For this post, all I did was search the NRSV (my current favored translation (and for those of you in the cheap seats, the New Testament's original texts are in Greek, which I can't read)) for the word "Heaven." I ruled out all the stuff where "heaven" means "the sky" or "up" or "an ice-cold beer on a hot day."

No surprise, I found there are no descriptions of Heaven itself in the Bible.

...With the quasi-exception of "Revelations." In it, the author has visions of Heaven, with big thrones, multi-eyed animals, scrolls, horses, flaming swords, vials of death, lamb and lion living together, and so on. But it's pretty obvious that this is all symbolism and represents the appearance of heaven about as much as Alice in Wonderland represents the appearance of the English countryside. (One clue is that the author sees God directly, who we are told no human can do and live to tell about it.)

Without further ado, here are the results:
(I'm not gonna strip out the line numbers from the longer passages, just FYI. Any commentary by yours truly is in [brackets].)

Old Testament:

Jeremiah 33: 22:
Just as the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will increase the offspring of my servant David, and the Levites who minister to me.

2 Chronicles 18: 18:
Then Micaiah said, "Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, with all the host of heaven standing to the right and to the left of him."

[Again, anyone actually mentioning seeing God usually means he didn't and we are to take this a vision or allegory.]

Yes, just two mentions in the OT. And they give no description at all, other than Heaven's gonna be so filled with beings that a census would be an exercise in futility. (So much for the Seventh Day Adventist and American right wing fundamentalist views of Heaven.)

New Testament:

Matthew 16: 18-20:
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

[No real description of Heaven. However, this is the famous (infamous?) passage that's interpreted to mean that whatever Peter, the founder of the Roman Catholic Church, said was how things were in Heaven, shazam, that's how it is in Heaven. I'll leave it up to you to take that as you will.]

Matthew 18: 1-5:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Matthew 18: 10-14:
"Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

Matthew 18: 18-19:
Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.

[Note this last one ties back to Matthew 16:18-20 that what we do here will also apply in Heaven.]

Matthew 22: 23-32:
23 The same day some Sadducees came to him, saying there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying, 24 "Teacher, Moses said, "If a man dies childless, his brother shall marry the widow, and raise up children for his brother.' 25 Now there were seven brothers among us; the first married, and died childless, leaving the widow to his brother. 26 The second did the same, so also the third, down to the seventh. 27 Last of all, the woman herself died. 28 In the resurrection, then, whose wife of the seven will she be? For all of them had married her." 29 Jesus answered them, "You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, 32 "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is God not of the dead, but of the living."

[Ok, finally, a Heavenly fact. There will be no marriage and we'll be "like" angels in Heaven.]

Matthew 25: 31-46:
31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.' 37 Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' 40 And the king will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.' 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, "You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44 Then they also will answer, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?' 45 Then he will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

[Again, not a literal description of Heaven itself, but it is a description of an event that will occur there. Hint: You don't wanna be a goat.]

Mark 2: 25:
For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Luke 10: 18:
He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning."

[I find this one intriguing, and include it only because it describes a literal event viewed in Heaven. Jesus watched Satan get rocketed out of Heaven. That must've been a sight.]

[Now this next one isn't about Heaven, the place itself, but about the kind of bodies we will have. I thought it was relevant.]

1 Corinthians 15:40-50:
40 There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory. 42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. 50 What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

2 Corinthians 12:2-4:
I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat.

[Third heaven, eh? Gosh, are they numbered? (And would wonder what font would be used for the enumeration, no doubt.) No, it just means the Heaven God lives in. From What do the scriptures say?:
"The 'third heaven' is simply a reference to the abode of God. The Jews in Paul's day referred to the 'first heaven' as the place where the birds fly, the 'second heaven' as the place where the sun, the moon and the stars resided, and the 'third heaven' as the place of God's abode."]

And there you have it. I left out the parables that say "Heaven is like ________" because they don't describe Heaven itself, but rather stories about who gets in and who gets left out. (If you're interested, they are: Matthew 13: 24-52, Matthew 18, 21-35, Matthew 20: 1-16, Matthew 22: 1-14, and Matthew 25: 1 - 30.)

So, to sum up what we know about Heaven from the Bible:
- There's no marriage. For those who "Paradise by the Dashboard Lights" is an accurate depiction of grim reality and not just a fun novelty song, this alone cinches Heaven as a better place.
- We will be like angels in Heaven. Y'know, usually when angels are mentioned, they're either announcing something, delivering something, or doing some task. So this sounds like a job. I bet the benefits rock, though.
- We will have bodies that are different from our current form. Hopefully mine will be trimmer with better knees.

Oh, hey, and what of Hell? Just a few mentions (including Hades), all in the New Testament, and the descriptive used is "fire" that is "eternal" and "unquenchable." (Apparently, it's hot, Paris.) Though the last mention of Hades in Revelation 20: 14 has interesting information: "Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire." So maybe only Heaven's eternal. Looks like once your ass hits the lake of fire, all that's left eventually is the echoes of the hiss and maybe an odorous cloud.

The Old Testament's "Sheol" is mentioned 63 times, but only as the place that's not Heaven, often described as a "pit." Perhaps Mr. "Hope You Guessed My Name" has trouble getting good help.

Admittedly, this was a rather surface survey, hitting only those phrases where the actual word was used. Of course, Heaven and Hell are sometimes discussed obliquely, for instance: Re 14:13: "And I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord.' 'Yes,' says the Spirit, 'they will rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.'" This speaks, of course, to the rest we are to find in Heaven. Note that it does not say "bliss," as our esteemed prof. was worried about in the quote at the beginning of this post. The word "bliss" doesn't even appear in the Bible.

And that's all we know, for now.

Oh, and, Sharon ... be gentle.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Finite Diversity in Infinite Combinations

Do you suppose this trend is what Spock had in mind?

- MiniKISS (and MiniMotleyCrue)
- TinyKISS
- Rock Bottom

Via, the Poor Man,, and Buck Mulligan respectively.

I'm tempted to go to one of these shows wearing the old KISS t-shirt I have, which now is about 7 sizes too small, as my own twisted tribute.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Queen is Not Amused

Golden Langur
Originally uploaded by arunchs.
(Dear readers, please consider these postings from Flickr caption contests if you will.)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Recent viewings: Devil in a Blue Dress, and Godspell

Devil in a Blue Dress
I saw this because it was on the list of best adaptations ever. When it came out, I gave it a pass because it looked like it was gonna be sucky wanna-be noir. (After YEARS of watching trailers while working at theatres, I've got a good feel for what they do and do not give away about a movie.) Well, it was sucky wanna-be noir; my instincts were right. Yeah, Don Cheadle and Denzel Washington were great, but they always are, and that does not necessarily save a bad movie. Also, the conclusion was - I thought - kinda silly.

Turns out that all the bad stuff happens because Jennifer Beals' (yes, Ms. Flashdance) character is mulatto who can and does pass for white; however, the rich white family who's son is running for Mayor (Governor? I don't remember) doesn't want him to marry her in case the "awful truth" ever came out. So murders and violence ensue - as if that wouldn't also cause problems for a political career.

I know this stuff happened, and still happens to a lesser extent, but to treat it like a big, hush-hush conspiracy along the lines of The Da Vinci Code just sets everyone up for the anti-climax blues. It would have been better to let that one out of the bag right away so we could've just watched the events unfold rather than anticipate warmed-over race relations follies.

To be fair, I thought I could detect a fine novel between the lines. Washington's character, Easy Rawlins, strikes me as someone who would be very charming on the page, particularly if you were let into his thoughts. However, it will remain a mystery to me. I didn't like the story enough to bother reading it again. (If anyone has read it, chime in on the comments.)

I'd never gotten around to watching this 'til now, completing my survey of 60s/70s religious/message musicals (Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat). I don't really like musicals in the first place, thus I tend to procrastinate getting around to the "classics" thereof. I was searching for something else, this popped up, the library had it, and here ya go.

You've gotta have some context in order to watch this sub-genre of musicals that reek so much of the summer of love hippie ethos, BTW. (It's best to avoid the operation of heavy machinery afterwards in case you've gotten a stealth contact high.) Without the context of actually being there for the 60s/70s hippie movement, you might wonder what in the hell is wrong with these stoner moonbats who act like children with developmental delays and plagued with an over-fondness for mime - much like the mannered acting in the movies of the 30s and 40s is hard to bear unless you know the history behind it (overacting carried across from the stage until the method actors proved that more naturalistic acting served the medium better). Hair was the only movie version of these musicals that got away from that cloying hippieness, but only because it was done a decade after the fact by the master Milos Forman.

Godspell is based on the Gospel according to Matthew, kinda like JFK is based on the Kennedy assassination trials. As stated, we must wade through a bunch of hippie/mime/60s theater cuteness (even, egad, face painting) before the story actually starts. Then a bearded gentleman shows up who looks like Jesus, and I thought they did a fine job of casting there, until it turned out he was John the Baptist. Then the actor actually playing Jesus shows up, of course, and ... well, I find my reaction difficult to describe.

Heck, just see for yourself; he's the guy in the Superman shirt. (And guess who he is! Victor Garber! Shock me with a cattle prod! Most of you would remember his as the builder of the Titanic who goes down with the ship while adjusting a clock on the mantle a lot.)

My reaction was something along the lines of Foghorn Leghorn's reaction to the little nerd chick he's saddled with when trying to court his momma hen: "Thar's, I say, thar's something kinda ... eeeew ... 'bout a boy that don't play baseball." And that's putting it politely as possible.

One of the criticisms of the movie version of "The Last Temptation of Christ," besides the fact that it's a fictionalization of the life of Christ that takes a LOT of liberties, is that Christ was too wimpy and indecisive. Well, lemme tell ya, Willem Dafoe's Christ was a coconut-sized-cajones he-man compared to the Christ in Godspell. I just wanted to knock him to the ground and shave off his white guy fro while screaming that NO ONE needs an Art Garfunkel impersonator. The original is enough funkel for everyone, already.

Anyway, once I was past that shock, I enjoyed some of the songs. "Day by Day" is still pretty bitchin'. Every time I hear some of the more shocking teachings of Christ, I'm reminded what a rebel He really was (is). But ultimately Godspell has aged badly. I recommend waiting until you can see a stage production, if it's ever done anymore. I can only imagine a high school putting it on, but then in these days, I'm sure someone would scream about such an overtly religious play being put on by a public school, what with classics like Angels in America and Rent providing a better example to the kids today. (Damn ... I think I broke my irony filter..)

Which reminds me of the other reason I'd always wanted to see Godspell. My buddies and I got into the plays in high school because it got us out of the house, and we got to hang out with lotsa cool girls (that's how it is before college, anyway). The lore of those who came before was one of the perks for we lower classmen. The seniors, particularly the girls, could not talk enough about the time they put on Godspell. You'd have thought that Jesus Himself had come down to play ... Himself. The guy who did play him had a strong resemblance to Jason Patrick and sang so well that there wasn't a dry seat in the house, as the saying goes. Needless to say, the combination of his pipes, his looks, and the fact he was playing Jesus, wreaked all sorts of havoc on the knees of female student body, be they weakened, parted, or planted, and so forth and so on. The biggest part of the scandal was that before he played Jesus, the guy had been in one of those charming high school romances that had been around since Jr. High or something. But when all those temptresses did their thang, he strayed, a big messy breakup ensued, and then there were the many storms of jealousy over whom he was banging at any given time. Rumor had it that he eventually bedded over half the girls in school, and a couple MILFs to boot. Yes, these little stories of the Peyton Place that was our little high school theatre department just a year or so before we came along fueled many of the dusk 'til dawn storytelling sessions, only to be eclipsed when the uber-hottie Senior babe (who was rumored to have been one of the now famed boinkers of faux Jesus) slunk around on all fours in nothing more than a leotard and cat ears during our Freshman year's production. She nearly killed us all.
Too loud? Hmmm...

This article argues that today's CDs are mixed too loudly and compressed too much (he explains what compression is in the article, so I'll not bother here): Imperfect Sound Forever.

He may have a point, but I suspect it's really more about preference.

It seems he likes music that can whisper and shout at realistic levels, and he even presents the dynamic range typically found at live concerts as the ideal.

I had the distinct pleasure to see Lyle Lovett at Red Rocks last summer. One of the best concerts ever, mang. Twice during the concert, he played a song where the band plays nothing, and he just whispers a couple lines. For the first time ever in all the concerts I've attended, the entire audience was completely silent, and let the moment just be. It was transcendent. Then the band struck up again, and that grabbed ya, too. I gotta admit, it was cool live, but I'm not sure I'd want to have to have my stereo up that loud to recreate the exact sonic conditions of the show.

Personally, I find things too dynamic annoying. Further, if you have to have it way up to hear the soft stuff, when a big noisy part hits, it scares the holy hell out of the baby, and that's just not cool.

Further, the louder you go, the more component noise you get. I don't care how good your stereo is, the closer you get to 11, the more hum and hiss you're gonna hear just from the electronics doing what they do. When the artists whispers, I don't want it to sound like they recorded themselves in the middle of a transfer station (those sci-fi looking places where electricity goes to get spiffed up before it comes to your house).

Also, this guy complains that new albums that are mixed so consistently loudly tend to cause clipping when you turn them up. From my experience and understanding, that's mostly a function of YOUR equipment and not the mix. Frinstance, I can really crank the very album he uses as the "bad mix" example, the Flaming Lips' new "At War with the Mystics" (review coming), without clipping. When alone (in deference to the baby, the MPC1, and the lovely wife), I've cranked it up to painful levels (you should've seen the dirty look the dog shot at me on the way to the door) and I experienced no clipping. In my car, with its 7 year old speakers, yeah, I get clipping.

So, I disagree with this guy pretty much. However, it is an interesting read. Great info on how things are recorded and mixed.

High octane nightmare fuel...

Originally uploaded by estherase.
Go look at the other pics to get an idea how big this puppet is.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Writing isn't hard

So Garrison Keillor says, "Writers, quit whining."