Friday, September 28, 2007

Da Bash

Latest from

<Anonymous> Last night, Helen and I were sitting in the living room, and I said to her, "I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug." She got up, unplugged the TV, and threw out my beer.
<Anonymous> She's such a bitch.
[Personally, I think she's a hoot. Had my wife done that, I would've laughed the rest of the evening.]

<%makat> Marcel Marceau dead.
<%makat> After all those years miming it, he's now genuinely trapped in a small box.

<Kuiper> Well, it rained today, but as a whole it's been warmer than it was last week.
<kikuichimonji> Why does it seem like every time you join this channel, you end up talking about the weather?
<kikuichimonji> Is your life so unimaginably dull that you can't think of any events in your life to describe that might be more interesting than the weather?
<kikuichimonji> Let's think of something for you to talk about other than the weather.
<kikuichimonji> I mean, we barely even know anything about you, other than where you live.
<kikuichimonji> Let's start there. What do you do for a living?
<Kuiper> I'm a meteorologist.

<Quadlex> sparc: One of my mates works for a porn company and is keeping an ear open for vacancies
<moreon> Quadlex: I wouldn't hold my breath on that. I bet they plug every hole they find pretty quickly.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace

The new Foo Fighters is fantastic.

Albums like this restore my faith in music. I've often warbled in woe here about getting old and that must be why music not reaching me like it once did. When it's been a while since something got those endorphins up, I think it's me, not the music that's available. But I sat there through the first listen enraptured, even doing a little head-banging (which slightly alarmed my two-year-old at first).

I feel this is their best good-all-the-way-through LP since There Is Nothing Left to Lose.

What kind of amazes me is that no one has mentioned in any review that it appears Dave Grohl has finally written his "Kurt Cobain" album. "Let It Die" is a screamfest about (no surprise), letting everything die. Nearly every song can be viewed in the context of Grohl's relationship with Cobain. "Statues" which contains the lyrics "time will turn us into statues, eventually" is the most blatant exploration of being in "Nirvana."

(But then, I had a theory about One by One being the Vampire Lestat album. Maybe I'm seeing things that arent' there.)

I urge everyone to check it out. Of course, fans have already been spinning it for a couple days.
A Big Day

Made a big technological leap yesterday: I purchased my first downloaded songs. Amazon has opened an MP3 store that kicks out high-fidelity MP3s (256 kbps, 44 kHz) with no DRM (for those of you in the cheap seats, DRM is Digital Rights Management which doesn't allow you to move or copy song files). Finally!

I'll say it again. Fuckin' finally!

This is so cool. As I sit here listening to my purchases, I feel like I did when I was old enough to walk down to the local Red Owl (our local grocery store / everything store) and buy 45s of songs I heard on the radio that day. It's literally thrilling.

I never hopped on the iTunes bandwagon because you had to sign up, and most of the time the tracks have DRM. And, like most other places that sold MP3s, you had to create an account just to look around. Just didn't interest me.

Amazon makes the purchases extremely straightforward. The average price of an entire album is $8.99!!!!! Singles are 89¢! The previews/samples work much better than they ever have before, too, so you can get a good listen before you click "buy."

The Foo Fighters album might just be the last CD I ever buy.

Here's another cool thing. I can recommend stuff, and you can procure it RIGHT NOW if you want.

For example, some great stuff:

- Elvis Costello's "Bedlam" from his Delivery Man CD. One of his best latter-day tunes. It sounds like a drunken stripper careening into poles and garbage cans. Only Elvis can spit a lyric like that.

- "Saint of Me" by the Rolling Stones. Like with Elvis above, this is one of their latter-day classics that got no airplay, but it's as good as "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and personally, I think it's a companion piece - a look at the other side, say - to "Sympathy for the Devil."

- "Blue Avenue" by Elton John. The only other good track on the LP, but it didn't get airplay here in the states. Beautiful song.

- Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes," which everyone loves, but it's never been on one of his anthologies (that I know of).

- "Moon, June, Spoon" by Spot. I was amazed to find this available. A great rocker about trying to choose which girl to stay with, and about rhyming, another great theme. Of all the songs I'm recommending here, this is one I'd politely beg everyone to check out. It ends up on about every 5th CD I burn, and I never tire of it.

- A Magic World (really "From Which I Came / A Magic World") from the Eels. Get past the intro noodling, and a gorgeous song starts. I pulled my copy into Audacity and cut the intro off so it'd go right into the song.

- The live version of Robert Palmer's "Every Kinda People" has about the best bass performance I've ever heard. The atmosphere of the live tune is amazing, too.

- Joe Cocker's phenomenal live version of "Unchain My Heart." Just listen to that groove they hit.

They even have wonderful obscurities, like A Lecture on Geek Mythology by wax.on that Whisky Prajer recommended a while ago (and I second that emotion).

They've got plenty of biggies like Stevie Wonder and John Lennon, and great guilty favorites like Steve Miller and Sweet (who I've always thought was who they were jabbing the most in This is Spinal Tap).

They have lots of goofs like A Gregorian Chant Tribute to Elton John! And k-tel albums!

A great way to find a single you might be look for, search for "20th century masters," which are a series of compilation albums for many artists. Do be careful about all the "sound alike" albums they have out there. For now, always always listen to the sample before you buy.

My right pointer finger actually hurts this morning after yesterday's surf-fest. I'm surprised my mouse didn't blow up. Let's be careful out there.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Was on Vacation for a Week

Don't really have anything wild to report. 'Twas just a relaxing time spent on beaches watching the MPC's build sand castles during the day and laughing over dinner and beers with the adults at night.

Didn't read a lick. Saw no flicks. Didn't really surf the web. A media blackout, essentially.

And the only thing I appeared to have missed was Britney Spears' sleepwalking through a supposed "comeback" dance number, and folks said she looked fat. Well, I've seen the vids and photos since, and if that's fat, I don't understand what they could mean by thin. She looked just right to me, mother of two or not.

The other funny thing, found via, is a Swedish game show host blows her groceries on the air during a live broadcast. This version has subtitles which contain her explanation for the accidental personal protein spill. If what she says is true, then it's reason number 257 I'm glad I'm a guy. Having to hide boners behind science texts in high school is nothing compared to getting the Technicolor yawns when the little friend visits.

Not for the easily queasy:

Perhaps this is what she's really saying:


Oh, and I've finally happed upon the fabulous Shatner "have you ever kissed a girl?" SNL skit:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

It occurred to me:

Perhaps Scientology exists so that Christians (and Jewish folks who believe in God) can better understand how atheists feel about us. Perspective is always good.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I'm tellin' ya... is really funny!

Check these out:

- The 8 Most Common Sci-Fi Visions of the Future (And Why They'll Never Happen)

- The Top 10 Secret Celebrity Scientologists

- How to Resign in Public Like a Coward
It's Broken

"Just tell your readers that you have a source who knows a lot about the Republican party from long experience, that he knows all the key movers and shakers, and he has a bit of advice: People should not vote for any Republican, because they're dangerous, dishonest and self-serving. While I once believed that Governor George Wallace had it right, that there was not a dime's worth of difference in the parties; that is not longer true. I have come to realize the Democrats really do care about people who most need help from government; Republicans care most about those who will only get richer because of government help. The government is truly broken, particularly in dealing with national security, and another four years, and heaven forbid not eight years, under the Republicans, and our grandchildren will have to build a new government, because the one we have will be unrecognizable and unworkable."

"Broken Government"
By John W. Dean

Monday, September 10, 2007

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
by Gregory Maguire

Let me deliver the punchline so I can get to the outgassing: for the most part, I found this book a slog and wouldn't recommend it to anyone other than rabid fans of anything Oz, or someone who's interested in the genre of gay fiction.

The oddest thing about Wicked is that it's compelling yet boring. It's like listening to someone at a party who just slaughters jokes, but the jokes themselves are so good, you're willing to reconstruct them in your head so they're funny again. This novel is full of concepts that are intriguing, but the execution thereof ... well let's just say the "execution" hews closer to the "killing" definition rather than "realization".

The style defied judicious skimming, too. When I tried to skim, I often had to go back to dig out a detail in the middle of a tedious paragraph in order for things to make sense. I was impressed and infuriated at the same time.

The biggest flaw was that Maguire has no sense of magic. Every time magical events occurred, they were anticlimactic. Often they felt like afterthoughts, or grudging inclusions due to the fact they were in the original stories, or movie.

For example, a character other than the witch, Nor, discovers that the witch's broom actually flies. She goes for a quick, surprise ride, and when the witch sees her, she takes the broom back and goes for a ride herself. (The scene contains a cute dirty joke about how the broom at first tries to distract her by rubbing itself lustily against her crotch.) Now, she's been carrying the broom around for a while (which is never explained), but someone else figures out it's magic? Please.

Wicked (the novel) is really a sociopolitical fable about being gay. It ain't easy being green, especially when it's subtext for being gay. Also, there are animals and Animals, being those who don't talk and those who do. During the course of the novel, the Wizard has the Animals hunted down and put back out to pasture, taking them from their jobs and homes, etc. There are so many levels of gay subtext, it's like an Escher piece on gay subtext.

That is not a put-down, but more of a complaint about a limitation. You can only work that angle so many ways, and then it gets tedious. A story has to be about more than one thing to be whole. Let me give you another example, though it's beloved (even by me): the famous Catcher in the Rye. It's a one-trick pony, too. The style elevates it above its limitations, but really it’s a few hundred pages of "this one time, at band camp" as told by a teenager having a nervous breakdown. Great read because of the style, but the story is numbing.

Beyond that, the tone of Wicked is bitter. It reminded me of an author I loathe (though I don't loathe Maguire - I think he has a talent of a sort), Margaret Atwood, where everything in her fictional worlds is adulterated, ugly, dying, cancerous, and fetid. She has a "cookbook" (how to write), where she offers the concept that everything is about death. Gosh, ya just wanna have her along on a long road trip, doncha?

My final complaint is that after a slog through hundreds of pages of Elphaba's backstory, the last part of the novel is almost completely detached from it, and Elphaba's sole motivation is getting her sister's freakin' shoes back! Well, you may say, that's that happened in the Wizard of Oz, too, Mr. High and Mighty. Fine! I'd shoot back, but many OTHER things were changed in this re-imagining of the story, so couldn't the finale been about a bit more than SHOE SHOPPING!

To me, the most intriguing thing about Wicked and the original Baum Oz novels is how they both spawned superior works. The original movie is much better than the novel(s) - sorry Oz fans, it just is - and the musical Wicked is head and shoulders above its source material, according to my wife (and from what I can tell of the plot summary of the play).

As most avid readers know, the phenom of the derivative being better is exceedingly rare. The only other one I can think of is Bladerunner, which is so much better than the source novel, I'm tempted to make the sick joke that Philip K. Dick's death might have been from embarrassment. (See? That's just wrong.)

Anyway, I wonder why lightening struck twice when it comes to The Wizard of Oz and Wicked, though?
Slave Lea, the curious scificon meme I'll never understand, but always enjoy

It Can't Happen Here, Part 87

Cheney has issued instructions for the media to sell a war with Iran to us. The mind sorta boggles. It would full-goose bozo boggle if these poltroons hadn't done this kind of crap before, but it's still outrageous.

In other news, the police in DC are being Gestapo-like, breaking up peaceful protests, and trumping up BS reasons like they're using unapproved tape when hanging signs. No kidding.

The 2blowhards have a nice guest posting on da war (as usual, make sure you check out the comments).

And, what the heck, let's top it off with a bullet list of the Shrub's accomplishments.
Media Consumption, 9/6/2007

I Think I Love My Wife

Chris Rock's I Think I Love My Wife was a fun little flick, even though it has some awkward moments, probably since this is Rock's first time (hopefully not his last) as writer, director, and star. I continue to be impressed at what a full threat/whole package artist Rock is.


Sandra Bullock (who I just love to watch, even if her films haven't been great in a while), like Vonnegut's Billy Pilgrim, comes unstuck in time the week her husband dies in a car accident. If I were to guess, though, I'd proffer that the screenwriter, Bill Kelly, has neither been married, nor has kids - the relationships feel false. If you look past that, though, it's an OK time at the movies. Buck rental, say, or loan from the library.

Pan's Labyrinth

Here I go, having to recuse myself again because I just can't cotton to a story in which a child is killed. Now before you think I've given something away, you learn this at the beginning of the movie. I had just hoped it would turn out differently.

The movie is visually brilliant, the creatures look real, and it's compelling, so it's a good movie.

But I just can't walk away from a movie where a child dies and say I liked it. Alas.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Free song alert

The group "Cake" has samples from their new release on their site, and among them is the old Muppet classic "Mahna Mahna (Bop Bee Bahdeepee)." [Right-click, save as for Windows - Macs, you know what to do.]

Here's the original:

And for the heck of it, here's probably the funniest Muppet sketch ever (well, on Sesame Street anyway).


Here's an alternate take on "Mahna Mahna" - ROFLMAO:

godfather pop art

This is a thing of beauty. Can you imagine the time that went into it?

I wonder if the text is from the novel or the script.

Your Eyes Colorize

This is one of the better optical illusions I've come across. Note that the color holds until you move your eyes.