Tuesday, December 31, 2002

"We're making fun of men, but the reality is, there's a serious problem," said Lindy Schweiger.

Yeah, the problem is that we live in a world where, even after someone else has published a blank book as a joke, other folks can still come along and publish their own blank book. I sense a John Cage-esque lawsuit coming along here.

Monday, December 30, 2002

A Dead Ringer for The Dearly Departed: Process Turns Deceased Into Jewels (by way of Zorak).

I say: why go through all the trouble and expense when it's easier to just whip out your pocketknife and grab a knucklebone or tooth?
MediaGuardian.co.uk | Broadcast | C4 to show artist eating dead baby

Be warned that while this is not a particularly graphic story it is nonetheless the most disgusting thing I've ever read.

So it's come to this... honestly.
A friend here is on a Diogenes-like quest: to find one good review of Begningni's Pinocchio. A movie so awful that the RottenTomatoes page links to about 23 reviews of the film, and all of them bad; a movie one reviewer called "absolutely (and unintentionally) terrifying" and other called "lethal for kids and an unspeakable insult to adults, this unreleasable fiasco is a torture for all."

In short: I need to get a bunch of friends together, get plastered, and watch it.
Video Review: Turkish Star Trek

Apparently the Turks have a long history of "adapting" western classics to fit their own sense of production values. A hilarious piece.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Just between you and me, I'd rather be doing just about anything than working on this, my third revision of my resume. The feedback from family has been outstandingly instructive. Oh, and Santa was very good to me this year, in case you're wondering: new Carhartt coat, turtlenecks, and bib-overalls (yes!) and then new walking shoes (yes!!), games, and of course books on how to mix audio and a new VST instrument so I can make better-sounding music.

But the coolest thing of all was Fr. Joe's homily today. First off, he dismissed the "optional" readings (which were the only readings in our sorry-assed OCP liturgy-lite publication) and stuck to the standards for the feast of the Holy Family. And then he actually layed into the congregation (rock on!) for being disobedient to God and His laws. Wonder who the "They" is that supports products and lifestyles contrary to God's laws? They is us, essentially. It was really unexpected and wonderful. And 'Xander was a little angel during Mass today (he smiled and the little baby behind us and slept) so, no wrestling out in the vestibule today!

Oh, and don't watch the Scooby Doo movie. Just don't watch it. I still hate "The American President" more than Scooby Doo (the Movie), but unless you absolutely hate the Scooby Doo cartoons (at least as much as the screenwriter, James Gunn, seems to hate Scooby Doo: word to studio execs, don't EVER give an adaptation job to anyone who thoroughly loates the source material!), you will hate the movie. It totally craps all over the cartoons (pardon my French) and then attempts to pull itself off as being cleverly cynical or something. I can't believe Hanna and Barbara (who were given co-producer credits) let this one out the door. But I suppose I should have learned by now (after watching years of The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, etc.) that Hanna and Barbara are absolute whores for money and care nothing about actually creating cartoons (or movie spin-offs) that are enjoyable to watch.

"Ice Age" and "Lilo and Stich" were both thoroughly enjoyable to watch but the writing/pacing on Lilo and Stich could've used some tightening up.

Saturday, December 28, 2002

Kat Lively links to this story on the Clonaid situation (I really dug her Kool-Aid ad parody by the way :).

Maybe it's just me or my Francophobe tendencies, but doesn't the president of Clonaid look like a Sid and Marty Krofft puppet? Or one of the Letter People (one of the crappy Letter People puppets I mean, not the crappy Letter People drawings)?

Anyway, I think this situation is a fraud (or fake, take your pick) but is being put out there by the pro-Cloning cadre as a trial balloon. If no one seems that outraged, hey, why not really clone someone? The truly rotten thing, though, is that it's never going to be the cloners who are properly villianized but the clones themselves which, I shouldn't have to add, should be treated with the full dignity owed a human being (I should hasten to add "the dignity owed a born human being, I suppose) because that's what they are. My personal belief is that the cloners themselves should be put into a particle accelerator and be deconstructed atom by atom. Since I can't do that, though, my only recourse is to compare them to puppets. Seriously, though, doesn't she look just like H.R. Pufnstuf? Kindasortamaybe?

Friday, December 27, 2002

ABC News: Children Find Porn Photo in Barney Book

Interesting if only because the photo wasn't "planted" by preverts but rather the result of a printing error at the Chinese printing plant where the Barney books are lovingly crafted by the finest slave-labor our pro-freedom, preferred-nation American dollars can buy.

"They want some sort of apology and maybe reassurance for the children that Barney is pure," Arnold told The Record of Bergen County for Friday's editions.

Uh, dumb and dated "Barney is evil" jokes aside, can anyone really expect to receive reassurances that a 7-foot-tall purple dinosaur whose lips flap inarticulately whenever he speaks and whose left arm appears to be paralysed by some sort of stroke and who has to have his books printed in Chinese gulags is pure?
ABC News: Cult says it has first human clone

Of course if you're a member of a cult which believes that all human beings are the result of cloning by aliens might you not really be considered to be the foremost authority on whether someone is or is not a clone, as the term is commonly understood? "Mormon claims to be first to have baptised long-deceased relatives!" And I'm not really certain ABC News understands what "reporting" is... "Reporter says is first to promulgate wacky and literally incredible story!"

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Nixon Ordered Nuke Alert to Signal USSR

This sort of thing takes cajones and is further proof that when all is said and done, Nixon was one of the best presidents of the 20th century (Theodore Roosevelt being the other best president of the 20th century). My guess is that the Rooskies didn't even notice the alert in '69 and that the US should've realized that. We could've ended this whole cold war thing 20 years sooner had we recognized that the Soviets weren't nearly as formidible in any area not involving either deporting (or starving) their own countrymen or building crappy knock-off space shuttles as we had thought.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Merry Christmas to all!!
And God's blessings for a happy and prosperous new year!

Santa Vic
Merry Christmas from victorlams.com

Monday, December 23, 2002

Ananova: A Brazilian woman, shot in crossfire between police and drug dealers, was saved by her silicone breast implants.

And you know in most cases that'd be all you'd ever need or care to know about this sort of thing, but no... this story continues on:

A plastic surgeon was called in to fix the damage and took the opportunity to increase the size of Mrs Soares' breasts with more silicone.

She said: "I'm twice happy, first because my prosthesis saved my life and also because now I look even more beautiful."

Like they say: "Everybody wants prosthetic foreheads on their real head."
Greg Popcak has some good advice viz. Santa and what to tell your kids when.

I still don't think there's anything wrong with telling them that Santa exists. If your kids believe in such abstract concepts as "time" and "play" then I would say they should believe in Santa, too.
Zorak the Mantis won't lie to her kids about Santa.

Putting aside the fact that parents "lie" to their kids all the time about a whole bunch of stuff because it's loads of fun for both the parents and the kids and helps to foster a sense of wonder in the world, I don't know if this means she won't tell her kids that there is or that there isn't a Santa. My parents told me long ago that the year I stopped believing in Santa, whatever year that was, would be the year Santa stopped bringing me presents. Since then I've always kept the belief in the existence of Santa alive in my heart and whenever I go over to my parents' house there's always some pretty nice presents for me from Santa. Call it pragmatism, call it ontological efficiency, or call it whatever you like, but I still believe in Santa and my kids will, too. At least as long as they want to keep getting presents from him, they will.

And I can tell you right now that Santa brings a lot better and a lot more presents than I do.
How to say "Oh, my God! There's an axe in my head!" in many, many languages.

Becuase you just never know where you'll be the next time you get an axe in your head.

And yes, included are sanskrit and Klingon translations. No elvish, though, unless, as far as the language is concerned, it's not called elvish.

And if that's not enough for you head on over to Zorak's 'blog which has been very good and frequently updated as of late. E-pressing, indeed.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

So tonight we caught a bit of "Lair of the White Worm", a British vampire/horror movie from 1988 featuring Hugh Grant and some other folks, as well. As far as British horror flicks go, this one was not bad but I would caution against it for anyone with any particular aversion to hermaphroditic vampire snake demons. They did a good job setting up the demon lineage of this particular snake demon, though (and Joss Whedon outright ripped this movie off, I'm now realizing, when he did his own snake-demon episode of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer)... and there are some religious overtones to the movie as well. Mostly, though, there are awful double entendres (some of which are almost so unbelievable that it becomes doubtful that they were really intended as such and in that way they are very clever). Actually the movie was mostly just a lot of boring talky-talk parts broken up by a few intense minutes of naked people and weird composite film techniques (apparently snake vampires are most comfortable not wearing clothes. Just an FYI...).

Okay: Yeah, we didn't get to see Lord of the Rings OR Nemesis this weekend. But the cool thing about being married and not going out to movies a lot (this is by choice of course: we hate movie-going audiences and not being able to pause to movie to get another drink -- and not being able to drink) is that, sure, you may not get to see the latest hot movie but at least you know that you're not the only one.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Check out The St. 'Blog's Cookbook! So far it seems to only feature recipes for those kinds of dinners that you drink. So I'll have to recommend the beer bread recipe Jackie uses.
An interview with Kat Lively. Way to go!

Over on her 'blog Kat has a nice bit on "Holiday Specials" (when I see the Wild Thornberry's movie billed as a "holiday treat for the whole family" because it has "new music from Paul Simon" I know we're in trouble). By the way, you know that new movie they're soing on the Fox/ABC "Family" channel, the one with Kelsey Grammar (It was called "Jolly Old Sucky Movie" or something predictable like that), the one where in all the previews he makes that crude comment about "freezing his ornaments off"? Well, despite the fact that it has Charles Durning as Santa and Wallace Shawn (on stilts!) as the Wizard who, in addition to celebrating many druidic rituals, also (apparently) is responsible for making new Santas the movie (or rather the 20 minutes I could stand to watch of it) really blew. So don't bother with it. The Jason Alexander movie, "The Man Who Saved Christmas (From The Defense Department)" the one where he plays A.C. Gilbert (inventor of the Erector Set) was a nice movie but at 2 hours (including the requisite 40 minutes of commercials) it was still 45 minutes too long (though the costumes were nice). I guess whoever wrote it really didn't feel there was anything that interesting about a guy who at first agreed to cancel Christmas and then changed his mind. It was also very simplistically written and without any sense of wonder at all. The movie featured a young Franklin D. God -- er, Roosevelt -- and when Alexander went into a forced and unprecidented speech before the Top Brass about how great toys were I more than half-expected the actor playing Roosevelt to stand up and start singing "Tomorrow" from Annie.

Even scarier than these movies, however, is the old puppet/stop-motion-animation "Christmas" movies they've been showing every night on ABC Family. One, from the '70s, I reckon, showed how Santa was really a mortal child (okay so far) but raised by immortal Pagan Spirits (the Great Ak, Father Winter, etc.) and the big thing of that show was whether or not the pagan immortals would vote to grant Santa immortality. Wuzzah-huh?! Oh, and then there was the "Robbie The Reindeer" special on one of the networks last weekend which featured Ben Stiller as the voice of Robbie and Britney Spears as the voice of a girl deer and of course Jerry Stiller, Brad Garret, and the usual roundup of famous people who do cartoon voices when they need famous people to do cartoon voices. It was okay. It was produced by the BBC (and yet featured no overtly anti-Catholic or pro-homosexual messages, believe it or not) who apparently couldn't afford Aardman studios-grade stop-motion animation and had to settle for Aardvark studios or something. The animation was terrible and it had nothing to do with Christmas, but it wasn't 100% unwatchable. I would say it was actually about 55% watchable. Watching it was not as bad as getting laid off is turning out to be, let me put it that way.

But I'll agree with Kat. Aside from the Charlie Brown Christmas, there really aren't any good made-for-TV Christmas movies or specials. I can take or leave the Grinch, I'm afraid to say. I grew up without a TV and so grew up without the Grinch (or Rudolf or Frosty or Mr. Freeze or the killer snowman Jack Frost). I do like Vince Guaraldi, though. OH! I thought of one I do like: the Emmy-winning Will Vinton Claymation Christmas special from 1987. That one rocked. Check out the reviews on Amazon.com. Very spiritual and artfully done (though Vinton's stuff from the 1980s looks a bit dated to our jaded CGI-inundated senses nowadays). Check that out if you can find it if only for the "Joy To The World" sequence, a sort of claymation painting which evolves over the a'capella choir music.

Actually, I dig in an unqualified fashion all of Will Vinton's stuff, including the freaky "Mountain Music" short from 1975 that they seemed to show us every year in elementary school (if we had been really good and begged the teacher lots we even got to watch the movie again backwards as it rewound through the projector!). I'm sure the intent in showing it wasn't to keep us off of hallucinigens for the rest of our lives, but in my case it had that effect.

At Will Vinton's website, Vinton.com, check out his latest short, Washed Up, which I intended to watch right now.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

From Mark Shea comes this link to a curious sighting in Indiana.

I don't know what it is, but I bet it would be just delicious cooked on a grill!
At some point in the past 24-48 hours the page-counter on the bottom of my page here passed 30,000 views (approximately since January 1, 2002). Woohoo! Of course, this was due in large part to a link from Mark Shea on Heart, Mind & Strength 'Blog.

I'm happy to see I've still got my Deranged Genius standing. I'm really really sad because I haven't been able to read my 'blogs this week, all of my websurfing time being spent mostly at Monster.com, HotJobs.com, and MedicalResearchSubjectsWanted.com.

As the jolly, old priest (we need more jolly priests, consarnit!) told me at the penance service earlier this week (and I was glad to hear it): "You've still got your life!" I know everything will be all right (and I do have my health, praise Jesus!) but I still feel like the guy who wasn't close enough to the nuclear blast to be vaporized instantly and now only can wonder how long they've really got left....
"That sometime is now."

Hawala Union: It's the fastest way (short of adopting a little Cuban refugee) to send US federal agents -- into your house!
I thought I'd gotten everything out of the Internet that I possibly could've tonight, and then I stumbled upon this article from ProRec.com (a new site for me), an analysis about how pop music has gotten louder and louder over the last few years and how this is not only destroying our appreciation for the music but the actual music itself. Very relevant for my particular situation as I'm trying not to make the CD That Is Too Quiet (again) and yet also not trying to make The CD That Is Just Loud Noise:

"Everyone has heard the CD That Is Too Quiet. This is usually your (or your buddy’s) first demo. You pop it in and you can barely hear the music. There are many reasons for the CD That Is Too Quiet, and it isn’t my intention here to go into them all. But we’ve all heard (or made) the CD That Is Too Quiet and regretted it.

"The problem with the CD That Is Too Quiet is this: when you put the CD into the CD changer, it’s YOUR music that nobody hears. Well, folks, if you’re a record label exec, that’s the ONE problem that you know just cannot be allowed to stand. Quiet CDs became synonymous with Amateur Recordings, and Loud CDs became synonymous with Professional Recordings.

"Understandably, nobody wants to have the quietest CD in the CD changer. Nobody wants to have the one CD that doesn’t get heard. The problem with the LOUDER IS BETTER approach is simply that with any medium – digital or analog – there is only so much signal that will fit in the space provided. Beyond a point, you cannot gain anything without losing something."

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

What a day! Jackie and I journeyed to Ann Arbor on the wild bonsai hunt (we opted not to go to the nursery in Tecumseh, sorry Mayize). We went to Downtown Home and Garden center, which is right on South Ashley. Very nice place. They had a selection of about 8 different bonsai and Jackie picked out a nice juniper bonsai and a pair of clippers. Then we went to Borders and got a book on bonsai. And then we went to Treasure Mart and looked at all the stuff. It's probably my favorite consignment shop and Jackie's favorite store in Ann Arbor. Then we came back home and the baby was really, really cranky because he's sick. We had a really wonderful dinner, courtesy of the in-laws, and played Scooby-Doo some more. I saw a panhandler on Liberty St. in Ann Arbor (not an uncommon thing at all) and remarked that that would probably be me in a few months only instead of ... hold on, baby's crying gotta go.

Back. And after taking care of the baby I remembered it was Trash/Cat Litter night so I had to take care of all that, too. Anyway, I was saying, instead of panhandling for a couple of bucks I'd be asking folks for 15 minutes to discuss their financial future: this because the only people who've gotten back to me so far is Primerica. Has anyone had any experiences with this company? Should I go to their recruitment day?

Another dilemma: I downloaded the very good guides to mastering and dithering audio in preparation of producing a CD at iZotope.com (the guides are really intended to sell their oZone mastering plug-in, and if I had $230, I'd probably buy it). Okay, so I'm reading all about compression and expansion and exciters and all that and I'm digging that because I applied some of the principles in those guides to a track I've been working on and it did sound a lot more alive. Cool. But then I start reading the dithering guide and that's blowing my mind. I've always worked with just 16-bit audio and, sure, I knew 24-bit was out there (my Edirol interface can record 24-bit audio) but since I've always just worked on 16-bit CDs, why bother? Well, it turns out if you work in 24-bit and then dither down to 16-bit it does sound better (they say) than just doing it all in 16-bit. It also chews up a lot more hard-drive space and I can't just run out and buy a 100GB firewire drive right now... so that's the dilemma: stay with 16-bit, good, simple, 10MB-per-minue 16-bit audio or bother recording at 24-bit/96kHz? Anyone have any strong feelings on this, either way?
So we're watching a very good episode of the cathartically violent show 24 last night ("The following takes place between 3:00pm and 4:00pm") and then the most recent anti-drug ads come on. They're the ones featuring Nick and Nack or Mutt and Jeff (I can't remember the actual names and when I went to TheAntiDrug.org which I thought was the website for the ads, it turned out to be a pro-drug site. Oh well). One of the guys is younger and probably addicted to cocaine (I'm guessing) and the other guy is older and either his dad or an FBI agent. Anyway via the marvelous cinematic technique of The Extreme Closeup they talk about how drug money goes to fund terror and even if you just buy a little bit of pot, a couple of dollars makes it back to the terrorists (albeit, in the case of pot, these terrorists most likely live in Ohio and use their ill-gotten gains to buy XBoxes, but I digress). What they don't mention, of course, is that gas money goes to fund terrorists as well (since we're dependent upon Saudi oil, the Saudis most likely support terrorists, etc.). But we're probably not going to see Nick and Jeff talk about how driving that SUV supports terrorism anytime soon.

Oh and if you are interested, the DKNY Anti-Drug Jeans Calendar has arrived.
I had no idea that the demographic which is my 'blog's readers overlapped so much with The Wiggles' audience. Fascinating! Thomas, in the comments section below, makes the observation that a lot of their songs could've been written by The Talking Heads. I hadn't thought of this before, but it makes an eerie kind of sense. And as for the "Let's Have a Barbie on the Beach" comment, well... we'll address that one some other time perhaps.

Oh, and a friend says that this 'blog isn't "personal" enough, so here's my "personal" udpate for the day: baby is sick with a cold (his little nose is just running all over the place) and I'm not feeling 100% myself. Got some feedback on my resume from Jackie's sibs, who are both hiring managers and I need to break up my huge paragraphs into bullet points. Today is Jackie's birthday! So we're going bonsai shopping (for her birthday gift) in Ann Arbor in just a few minutes (grandma is over to watch the baby while we're out -- she also brought over steaks, re-stuffed potatoes, salad, Panera Bread-brand bread, and wine for dinner tonight (Yummy! And it gets us off the hook for spending a lot of money at a restaurant). Since she's also a Scooby-Doo fan I got her the Scooby-Doo game for GameCube (also available for the PS2) which is actually pretty cool (it includes the voices from the most recent series of cartoons, a laugh-track, monsters from classic Scooby-Doo episodes, and Don Knotts -- yes THE Don Knotts -- in a recurring guest-role as the creepy groundskeeper: "Bring me some zombies; they make good mulch." I don't know yet if Scrappy-Doo is in it -- if he is, don't tell me! -- but I hope they let you squish him if he is; LucasArts' Star Wars: Episode I game wouldn't let you kill Jar-Jar Binks no matter what you tried and I stopped playing it as soon as I figured that out).

Bonsai voyage for now!

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Bad Art Tuesday!!!

From the Museum of Bad Art, it's Predatory Pumpkins!

And from Bert Christensen's Weird, Strange & Just Plain Bad Art Collection comes this weird and strange picture of Nurse Bradshaw". Warning: picture contains depiction of a parsnip c-section (???).
Weekly Sci-Fi Post

JB The Kairos Guy, in the comments section below, requests a review of Star Trek Nemesis. Well, I haven't seen it yet, unfortunately, and since Jackie and I have seen exactly three movies in the theatre in the past three years (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Star Wars Episode II) any review of my own will probably have to wait until the DVD comes out -- even though I really, really, really, really, really want to see it in the theatre. But here, in the meantime check out the DecentFilms.com review by James "Jimmy" Akin. I really want to see it now because the ratings guide on that site says it contains "intense sci-fi action; menace; brief sci-fi horror images; a passionate kissing scene between newlyweds that takes a profoundly disturbing turn." Sci-Fi is at its best, as a genre, when it's disturbing, I think.

And yes, last week's Firefly introduced the most compelling Joss Whedon villian (he wrote and directed the episode) in a long, long time: villaneous bounty-hunter/philosopher Jubal Early, who has clearly spent way, way too much time all by himself in his teeny, tiny bounty-hunting ship (did it look like the Fetts' Slave 1 on purpose? Memo to Lucas, completely off the subject of Firefly now, make a weekly show for kids about the adventures of Lil' Boba Fett -- I think it'd be really cool). Even though the crew sent him spiraling off into space with just his spacesuit ("Well, Jubal Early... Here you are.") I have a feeling he'll be back next season: from Niska to that assassin chick to, now, Jubal Early, Firefly has yet to kill off any of their more interesting villians (though that the captain didn't kill Niska is still something I find a little unbelievable due to the fact that he so readily socked Niska's henchman into the spinning turbine of his ship's engine). But yeah, I personally wanna see more Jubal in the future... Especially since Andromeda this season has set to strike any sort of balance between obtuse and obvious, rather instead swinging between the two like a pendulum.
You asked for Wiggles, I give you The Wiggles...

Be sure to check out The Wiggles' Official Website for tonnes (hee!) of great information about this Australian touring groupe, including the answer to the question which was on my mind when I saw the short bit of live concert footage: Do The Wiggles lip-synch when they perform live?
I may have to modify my opinion on The Wiggles. Sure, they all look pretty anemic -- even for Australians -- and their idea of "dancing" seems to be mainly running in place and all of their costumes (puppets seems like too much of a stretch, especially if you remember that old MST3K sketch where Joel -- or is it Mike? -- and the 'bots are arguing over whether or not H.R. Puffenstuff is a costume or a puppet) are decidedly low rent but their "holiday" program is the only one I've seen on Disney's Playhouse (Disney's "commercial-free" kid-friendly morning lineup, every show of which, from Stanley to P, B, & J, has a "holiday" episode. In P, B, & J, though, the holiday the otters were celebrating was "Hoo-Ha Hoo" -- you don't need to do a noodle dance to figure what that's all about) which actually mentions the word "Christmas" in the songs (some of which are traditional English carols. Of course they are traditional English carols with a rock drum-machine loop behind them so that the Wiggles can do their inane running-in-place dance to them, but still, it's more than I expected from anything on the Disney channel.

UPDATE: I finished watching The Wiggles' Christmas special "A Wiggly Wiggly Christmas" and they actually did "Away In A Manger" and "Silent Night" (with some children dressed up like the Holy Family) -- on the Disney channel! Outstanding. And the majority of the children on the show are actually the kids of The Wiggles (who write and perform the music), themselves. So that's increased my esteem of The Wiggles tremendously. Also at the end of the show they showed a segment from their live show The Big Wiggly Show (or something) -- obviously this medley was near the end of their show, judging by how fatigued The Wiggles looked, and those guys really booked! I guess it's hard to sing and bounce up and down for an hour (never tried it, myself) and you have to be in pretty good shape. One of The Wiggles, Jeff, is the "sleepy" Wiggle and he didn't have much chance to sleep here. So yeah, they're simple and dorky to the extreme, but also kind of endearing.

NOTE: The end credits referred to Henry the Octopus, Dorothy the Dinosaur, and Wags the Dog ("Wags" obviously being, as The Wiggles are from Australia, a clever reference to the Imperial Brits old practice of calling their colonized peoples "Wogs") as puppets, not costumes. Quite clearly they are costumes, not puppets but, as Jackie mentioned, perhaps in Australia "puppet" and "costume" have different meanings.
Woohoo! I'm another Timshel Arts "Song You Should Know" this week! Thanks, Justin!

Actually, that particular tune, "Captain Bigshot, Part I" is not available anywhere else online -- not on this site and not at my mp3.com space so you better hurry over there and download it. Truth be told it's among the humbler of my songs but also one of my personal favorites (if you're allowed to play favorites with the stuff you make up). I meant to go back at some point and rerecord the vocals, make them more polished, but never did. The sort of disaffected roughness of the original vocals just fit the song too well (plus I guess I was in a hurry to record "The Video Store Song" -- one of the drawbacks of holding yourself to a one-song-per-week schedule). If you turn your speakers way up, you could probably wreck them with all the bass in this song. Or maybe not, on the other hand. Either way, I'll be the first to admit, that both this song and the sequel "The Return of Captain Bigshot" were inspired by TOBASOL's Legende of Jeb Minor, if only in theme. BUT my chief motivation in writing this song was to write a song with the word "bo'sun" in it.

Unto this day I'm haunted by the voice of Sir John Gielgud in Prospero's Books (a movie which, though I checked it out from the college library on many occasions, never managed to watch much further than the spellbinding "urinating-cherubs-on-the-swing" scene -- I think on this movie's Amazon.com page it should say "People who enjoyed this movie also recommend: gouging out your eyes with a grapefruit spoon."): "Bo'sun! Bo'sun?!"

That has nothing to do with my song, of course. And yet... it has everything to do with that song.

Monday, December 16, 2002

ParentCenter.com, the online division of... one of the baby magazines, I forget which one, but we're on their email list somehow, passes along this advice for how to "raise a spiritual child". I thought you'd all get a big kick out of this. Particularly this bald-faced lie right here:

This is the perfect age to begin nurturing your child's spiritual side — as sustenance for her soul, as a way of answering her cosmic questions, and as a means of strengthening her interpersonal skills. Every religion has some kind of belief embedded in it about loving your neighbor.

Aside from missing the boat as to the purpose of "nurturing our spiritual sides" (they also suggest it comes in handy in times of crisis, but that's about it), when it comes to religions with "embedded beliefs about loving your neighbor", I can really think of only one. That is, of course, unless "your neighbor" can be taken so narrowly to mean only "other Muslims in your family" or so broadly as to include "everything everywhere in the universe which doesn't even really exist."

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Way #467 How Not To Endear Yourself To Your Friends And Family: BuyNothingChristmas.org, started by the Canadian (what is it about that country? Buy Nothing Christmas? That's downright Un-American! But I guess if you have those 17% sales taxes or whatever, you'd probably be better off buying nothing. And with income taxes in Canada the way they are, you're probably better off producing nothing, too. But I kid Canada. It is a fine country. The air is very clean there, what with all the non-production).

But check out the Flash "animation": What Jesus Thinks of Christmas. The author of the "story" (now there's a stretch) seems to have confused Holy Thursday and Christmas. On Christmas, remember, Jesus did receive some pretty expensive gifts. Of course, the whole gift-giving thing breaks down when you realize that none of us are kings, really....

Thanks to Kat Lively for the link.
I stayed up late tonight to watch The Russia House, a fine Sean Connery espionage flick from 1990. It's well worth the watching: excellent performances and a great narrative structure (that takes a while to really get into, but rewards those who make the effort). This is probably because Tom Stoppard wrote the screenplay adaptation of John Le Carré's novel (but no, there are no scenes where a character repeatedly flips a coin 500 times and it always comes up heads or where Gwenyth Paltrow gets nekkid with William Shakespere, sadly enough -- but the scenes that are actually in this movie are all fairly good). The picture totally out-Mamets David Mamet in terms of twisty plots and cool dialogue (The Spanish Prisoner has nothing on this movie). And I believe that that was Branford Marsalis' name in the opening credits: the music for this movie is really excellent. It's the first time I've sat all the way through the closing credits just because the music was so great (okay, I probably did it with Wayne Shorter's score to Glengarry Glen Ross, too... and Run, Lola, Run of course...). So check it out: The Russia House.

Also, a lot of people are linking to my PP posters I posted last week (check the archives for this month). You're all free to use them, just don't bother giving me credit (really... please, don't bother). They were just 'blog fodder and not really portfolio-ready.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

In Mark Shea's piece today he talks about something I've been saying for weeks now: that parents who bring their small children to such films as 8 Mile (locally there were folks bringing their 6 and 8 years to the R-rated movie) and probably even Harry Potter (I'm talking about kids who are 5 and 6 now) are engaged in a form of child-abuse.

When I was five, The Wizard of Oz was the outermost limit of terror. The flying monkeys, in their fakey makeup and phoney suits, gliding in on barely concealed wires to snatch Dorothy out of the haunted wood were the stuff of nightmares for me. I had no ability to distinguish between reality and the primitive movie magic up on the TV screen. And I was an ordinary kid.

How much less, then, can a small child today discern the difference between the absolutely lifelike Velociraptors dismembering their victims and reality? Parental idiots who expose (or worse yet force) small children to endure the psychological torture chamber of such films and hiss at them to stop screaming in terror during daddy's two hour self-indulgent child abuse sessions are wretched parents, plain and simple.
Be sure to check out And Then?, Michelle's 'blog. West Coast, represent! Woo!

Seriously, it's a breath of fresh air for St. 'Blog's!

Thursday, December 12, 2002

One of my favorite actors, John Rhys-Davies, recounts being crushed by a wall during the filming of a French film, about three weeks ago, in this FilmForce Exclusive Interview.

The experience, and subsequent long nights of pain, have actually had a positive impact on Rhys-Davies' life, as this particularly nice part of the interview (it's on the second page) illustrates:

"I mean, the other night I woke up in pain and I suddenly realized why perhaps a priest might need to be celibate. (He laughs.) Now, I'm a man who believes actually that any night you spend waking up in bed without a beautiful woman being there is a wasted night. But, when you wake up alone, in pain, it gives God a chance, should he be there – it may only be the echo of your own voice perhaps, but it gives him a chance – to talk to you in that silence. And you have to listen, and you might have to ask questions about yourself and where you're going. You know, what really matters."

He also talks about playing Gimlii in The Two Towers and about suriving a plane crash while filming King Solomon's Mines. Probably the best actor interview I've ever read.
Self-proclaimed body lotion and beauty magainze whore Karyn (who enjoys a good book: "books are just good reading" says Karyn) has paid off her $20,000 in credit-card debt through her website, savekaryn.com.

Now, even though I've lost my job, I'm not going to take Karyn's lesson to heart (the lesson is that 'blegging pays). I am going to say, though, that copies of my CD, Robot Love are available for the obscenely low price of $9 plus just $1 shipping. If you request it, I can ship these prioirty mail and you'll have them in time for Christmas (probably). If not by Christmas, you'll definitely have them in time for Love Your Robot Day, which is February 7th. Either way, you haven't heard anything like them and they're really cool and colorful.
Here's a really cool link from superfriend Britain: The Dragon's Lair Project, "The ONLY source for ALL your laser disc gaming needs."

Especially cool is their collection of Laser Disc Game Flyers.

This is so cool.
Okay, I'll be the first to admit that I'm a sucker for that new Stevie Wonder (and India Arie) Target commercial (that's the high-bandwith version, here's the low-bandwith version). I'm a big Stevie Wonder fan, of course, and the commercial is filmed very cool but I really like how they sing about "Christmas" in that commercial instead of about "Holidays". It makes me feel validated about my beliefs.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

In the comments section below, Nihil wants to know why, aside from my many spelling errors, Gregg The Obscure should be assisting with my spiritual shoring-up. I may have alluded to it a few posts down, but the company I work for (a large telecommunications and Interet service provider which has been in the news so often recently that I need not mention its name) has given myself and everyone else who works in my Operations Center 60 days notice that we're no longer mission critical. Well, actually they gave us notice last Friday so we're down to 55 days at this point.

It's not so bad: those of us who can go the whole 55 days without doing anything stupid (and believe me, we've had our share of ideas) and getting ourselves fired will get some severance but I really loved my job (especially the people I was working with and the sort of work I was doing) and will miss the times I've had here. The Company has been really good to me (not as good as they could've been, of course) over the past four-and-a-half years, allowing me to earn the money I needed to meet my wife, buy a house, get married, and have a kid so I really can't complain at this point. (I'll probably start complaining, though, when we have to start paying for all of our own health-insurance).

I can say with some degree of certainty that I'm not as anti-Labor as I once was (our state's WARN act is the primary reason we weren't given our papers and escorted out last Friday with out the benefit of the 60 days). And I certainly was a lot more pro-business before I actually started working for a business and realized that, with a little creative accounting, The Market really doesn't have to remove the goofballs who screw everything up like we were once taught by all those Austrian Economists. In tough times, it seems, the only people retained are the same high-level managers and directors (with the exception of a few high-profile whipping boys who are lynched in the media with such ballyhoo as befits the situation) who got the company into the bind in the first place.

And so, for the given reasons of "increasing synergy" and "a shift towards a more holistic approach to the network", our jobs are all being moved 1,000 miles East. Of course the real reasons behind it all, which I don't care to go into just yet (mainly because no matter how accurately I state them, I can come accross only as seeming bitter and resentful -- which I'm not... entirely), simply boil down to a group of really great, hard-working, motivated people being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So... just in case you're wondering why you're not all getting XBoxes from me for Christmas this year.

But I, for one, am very hopeful. I never would've left The Company on my own, no matter how bad things got (and things had already gotten pretty bad over the past couple of years -- try being a manager when all you can do is fire people). And, as in all things in life, the difference between something which sucks donkey and something which is a once-in-the-lifetime opportunity is a choice you, yourself, make.

I loved my job, but since it's possible that it wasn't the absolute best use of my specific talents (and, more importantly, since it's now gone) I have to consider that there are other things out there for me to be doing. I certainly thank God that this is happening to me now, while there's still time to correct my course.

But, hey, if you happen to have yourself a Network Operations Center and need managers or technicians, drop me a line. I'm one heck of a manager (I've been told by more than one employee) and not a bad technical troubleshooter by any stretch of the imagination.
To heck with eBay! If you need a service vechicle (say you're a terrorist plotting some spectacular explosion and you need a fire truck, because, just say, you wanted to spray down an entire Major League Baseball game with spicy brown mustard) you might want to check out these guys: Nationwide Auction Systems: The World's LARGEST Auctioneering Service Company.
From the "I Can't Make This Stuff Up" File: Now you really CAN live in your car!
AutoWorld.com - Ford & Maytag bring conveniences of home to personal transportation with new concept: Windstar Solutions

Home is where you are -- Ford & Maytag bring the conveniences of home to your personal transportation with a new concept: Windstar Solutions.


Research conducted by Ford and Maytag showed consumers are dealing with many lifestyle demands, including longer commutes, record numbers of working mothers and people's need to achieve home and work life balance.

What's inside? Well you got your refrigerator, your microwave, your cooler (though why you need both a refrigerator and a cooler is beyond me), your trash-compactor, your wet/dry vacuum (by Hoover), your washer/dryer ("a shirt or party dress could be washed and dried in 15 minutes"), your tray table, your home connection (assuming you keep your house or condo), and a multimedia entertainment unit.

Not included: the psychotherapist for your children for when they grow up and wonder why their party dresses always smelled like burnt transmission fluid when they were growing up.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Singapore's $25 Billion Booty.

(Okay, so my headline is a little misleading....)
Catholic and Loving it! takes St. 'Blogs into the wired generation with a webcam and all sorts of anecdotes about the life of hip young people. It's by someone named James Preece who apparently is a student in the UK (which explains why all of the 'blog updates are from five hours in the future) and why all the people are named Gavin, Paul, Andrew, etc.

Great 'blog! The only words of encouragement I can offer are these: enjoy your youth while it lasts. One moment you can be a happy-go-lucky undergrad riding in a shopping cart and then, before you even realize what's happening, WHAMMO!, you're employed, have a mortgage, and responsibilities. Not only are your shopping-cart, webcam-having days over before you even began to get the hang of it all but the next thing you know you're being laid-off just before Christmas basically because you're just in the wrong place (or location) at the wrong time (wrong time largely determined to be anytime after your corporation admits it committed $9 billion in fraud -- and forget about cashing in any of your precious stock options or 401k) and all of a sudden you have a lot more liabilities than you ever imagined possible and the only thing that pops to mind as a possible option for the future is hopping into the next shopping cart you see and heading off for anyplace resembling a Corona commercial but, of course, that's just impossible (not to mention silly) becuase you've sold-out your youth and vitality long ago for something (you thought at the time) was "security" and while you're thinking "never again" at the same time the words of St. Paul ring ever dully in your ears: "win the bread, bring home the bacon" and you always do what St. Paul recommends because, let's face it, while starting your own polygamous love-cult may sound like a fun idea, it would be generally frowned-upon by most everyone you know and respect (not least of all yourself, though whatever modicum of self-respect you once had is sinking away from you faster than a frozen Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic) and the only thing you've got going for you is your health (though Lord only knows how long it'll be before all that boozing you did in college will catch up with you) and if you were to get some unpronouncable social disease -- or be raided by the FBI for that matter -- well, how much is that going to cost you? So why even bother.

But, yeah, check out James' 'blog. It's pretty cool!
Time to pay a visit to the 19th Century Anti-Catholic Museum

I'd still take any one of those cartoons over an episode of The Practice any day (and not just because the 150-year-old single-panel cartoons have more believable character devleopment and better-structured stories than your average The Practice episode).
CNN.com - Marvel Comics to unveil gay gunslinger - Dec. 9, 2002

I don't really see this ever becoming anything but another caricature, a cartoon, if you will. I mean, we've already seen "The Ambiguously Gay Duo" on Saturday Night Live and "The Scoutmaster" as a Batman villian on The Simpsons, both of which were extremely cartoony caricatures of homosexuals. I just don't see anything that cutting-edge about a cowboy (now THAT'S relevant! Note to Marvel: any comic about a cowboy is already 40 years out of date) who likes the Lone Ranger's "power-blue outfit". In fact, I can't see it being anything but silly and, quite frankly, offensive to homosexuals.

But maybe this is what some folks consider to be progress.
From the "It's Not Slander If You Prove Us Right" Department:

CNN.com - Ex-jurors file $6 billion suit against '60 Minutes' - Dec. 10, 2002

Two former Jefferson County, Mississippi, jurors have filed a $6 billion lawsuit against CBS' "60 Minutes" and a newspaper owner over comments about the size of jury awards in the county.
DLA's back! DLA's back!
Greg Popcak nails it in his response to those who even consider the "ethics of 'blogging". It's a shame he ever needed to write it in the first place, though.
BBC NEWS | UK | England | Vicar tells children Santa is dead
Thank you everyone for all of your helpful advice (and I really mean that). I was *this* close to installing Windows in another directory but if I'd done that, I never would've discovered the awesome significance of the hidden Applog folder. Renaming that (once you make it visible) fixed all of my problems (well, all of the problems I was having BEFORE I reinstalled Windows -- my registry is going to need a few days of TLC, I can tell, and not even Norton can read all the way through it).

But we're back up and Jackie is no longer cut off from the outside world. If bad things come in threes, this was number three (by my count) and we should be in the clear. Now I'll be posting my resume over the next few days....

Monday, December 09, 2002

Very funny (for Buffy fans, anyway) statistical analysis of Vampire Ecology in the Jossverse.

Oh, and sorry I haven't been 'blogging or responding to emails. Our PC has been dead since yesterday afternoon and until I can figure out how to fix invalid page faults with Kernel32.dll in Windows98SE (re-installing Windows -- no joke -- 11 times hasn't fixed it), we're going to not have a PC. :(

Saturday, December 07, 2002

Happy, happy, happy! My favoritist CD burning software, CeQuadrat's WinOnCD, is now available in a new version and is being released in the US. The last version of WinOnCD available in the US was 3.6 -- and it easily blew away Adaptec's (now Roxio) Easy CD Wrecker at the time. I used it to prepare the master CD for Robot Love. Only problem was that v3.6 was incompatible with my burner when I upgraded my 2x burner to my current (blazing at the time) 16x Plextor. When I tried to upgrade the software they told me that since CeQuadrat had just been purchsed by Roxio, version 4 was not going to be released in the US -- only in Germany.. in German. Spoil sports. So I had to chuck it. Since that time I've been using an old copy of Easy CD Creator and the demo version of Nero.

But apparently millions of Germans can't be wrong (unless, you know, they're choosing political parties) and due to its popularity in Germany, I would presume, WinOnCD is back in the US. Assuming the new version of WinOnCD, version 5.0, is compatible with my burner (and doesn't have some terrible bugs I don't know about), it's easily the hands-down choice for entry-level CD-burning (it's 1/2 the price of Easy CD Frier, and even less than Nero) and probably what the master of the new album will be prepared with (after each track spends its time in Sonic Foundry's Sound Forge -- still using version 5, I'm afraid: I just can't keep up with Sonic Foundry's "spend $100 each to upgrade every piece of software of ours you own every year" scam -- though the upgrade from Acid Pro 2.0 to 4.0 was tempting, to say the least).

Anyway, happy to see that Roxio is a sport enough to bring back a product which, at the time it was scuttled in this country at least, blew away their own product in every respect.
The absolute last one...

Thought I'd wrap-up the series of poster submissions on a slightly more poignant note:

Ceci n'est pas un bebe

(Image from GE Medical Systems 4-D Ultrasound page. Check it out).
Okay, I cranked the "dark satire" knob all the way to 11 on this one. I'm figuring, though, on winning this Planned Parenthood Poster Contest and in order to do that I need to develop some stealth tactics. Just hope it's not too obscure.

Poor Michael

(It's still not as sick as any one of the many variants of the Michael Jackson baby-dangling game).

Friday, December 06, 2002

The new episode of Firefly is still half-an-hour away which is just enough time to enjoy the most recent issue of SLANT, a bimonthly online magazine publishing essays, memoirs, reviews, interviews, poems, and fiction.

I know I just 'blogged it, but it really is a good magazine. Not only is it free but since there are usually five articles, three poems, and a short story -- all of which are about things you are really interested in, but just haven't heard of yet -- it can actually be read in a sitting or two at the computer (as opposed to soo many e-zines which are just too dang long).

Check it out.
They've finally found a good use for Canadians.

Seriously, it's cute how far some countries will go to prove that they're relevant in the grand geopolitical scheme of things.
Stephen Greydanus of DecentFilms.com reviews Adaptation.

He's my favorite film critic of all time because, while he can appreciate a good film and good filmmaking technique (and tell you exactly why it's so good) he can also see through the flash and glitter of novelty which sometimes passes for good filmmaking, as is the case in Adaptation:

Formally, Adaptation resembles the sort of essay a clever student will sometimes pull together by taking the assigned topic as a point of departure for a composition of his own choosing, knowing that it will stand out for originality amid monotonous submissions and win points for daring and wit from a bored teacher appreciative of any show of interest.

The rest of the review gets even better.
Putting all of my irreverant satire posters in perspective is this poster from one of the Cathmoms: choicehasastory.

Check it out. It's very sobering and beautiful.
Ship of Fools presents the 12 days of Kitschmas -- kitschy Christmas gifts for you and yours. I dunno. A couple of these look like they may be worth picking up.
Why is it taking this 'blog so darn long to load?

Because of the posters, that's why! Here are two for the WWII Propaganda nostalgia set.

More postersMore posters

For more cool WWII propaganda posters, check out the US Government's "Powers of Persuasion" exhibit online. (And remember, when you ride alone, you ride with Bill Maher!).

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Planned Parenthood poster contest continues...

Planned Parenthood Celebrates #3

Don't like my pictures? Make Grover your dance slave (click "skip intro" enter a name, age, and then click the "Groove" button).
Calling all Photoshop artists!

Rachel Watkins over at HMS 'blog thinks we should all participate in the Planned Parenthood Celebrates 30 Years of Roe vs. Wade poster contest. And Mark Shea provides some slogans to get us started (which I have not yet read). Sounds like a fun, though, so I'll be posting some of my own designs over the next few days! Here are two to get us all started:

Planned Parent Celebrates 30 Years of Roe v Wade

Planned Parent Celebrates 30 Years of Roe v Wade
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Issue Number 4 of Slant has just been published. Check it out!
Greg Popcak 'blogs on some important good news from right here in Plymouth (well, in Plymouth Township, which is close to the city):

(ANN ARBOR, MI) - In a case that has drawn national attention, Detroit Federal District Judge Victoria A. Roberts has ordered that Plymouth Township, Michigan, pay monetary damages, attorneys' fees, and costs totaling $39,545.15 and has permanently enjoined the Township from interfering with the rights of pro-life demonstrators to display signs of aborted babies.

You can find the whole article at that link up there in the first paragraph. The article doesn't mention whether or not the cop who assaulted the protesters, taking away their signs, will be going to jail or not but I guess real and thorough justice is simply too much to hope for.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

The front page story of the National Catholic Register (I don't read that publication, personally) is written by my former Hillsdale Classmate and Student Fed member Josh Mercer! Mercer (whose story should be in Surprised By Truth IV, if it wasn't already in III) actually had his story linked off of the DrudgeReport page -- certainly a huge milestone (I, uh, would imagine) for any journalist, much less a NCR journalist. It's about the Senate race in Louisiana. Which apparently is still not over (now, I knew folks from Louisiana liked to take their time, but...).

Oh and I found out today that, genetically speaking, it's only by some mere random chance that I'm not a mouse.
Let us never forget this aphorism:

"Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day,
But set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life."
HometownAnnapolis.com, Naval Academy - Academy seizes computers from nearly 100 mids

Hmmm. So downloading pirated mp3s is a court-martialable offense. Who knew?
BBC NEWS | Technology | China blocks news not porn online

I guess that if you're an oppressive totalitarian regime who's engineered a severe shortage of women through your "one-child" policies you have to make some allowances to keep folks from going on a rampage.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Novel fridge cools with sound

Now that idea really sounds cool! Er, I mean "sound cools".

And I want some of MY sounds to set people's hair on fire... that would just be cool.
Will Smith Winds Up 'Robot'

I hope they let Will Smith do "The Robot" in the movie. He's a pretty good dancer.
Victor Watches Joe Versus The Volcano

The reason we're up so late is that Joe Versus The Volcano was on one of the movie channels and since we flipped to the channel just as the movie was starting and as I'd never seen it, we decided to watch it. I must say I was very impressed. When it first came out in 1990 I was at a stage in my life where I hated everything so I never got around to seeing it. It's well worth a watch: not just because it features Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan at a stage in their careers where they still had to act for a living (as opposed to just being "Tom Hanks in _____" or "Meg Ryan in _____", though it's Ossie Davis steals the show -- can't wait to see him and Bruce Campbell in Bubba Ho-Tep -- Davis plays JFK and Campbell plays Elvis as they fight an Egyptian mummy!) but because the story has an actual moral (Hanks' character actually -- gulp! -- prays to God at one point thanking Him for his life! I about did a spit-take and nearly sent a perfectly good screwdriver sailing out over the family room rug) despite borrowing from postmodern story conventions (the sort of conventions the Coen Bros. would later exploit to delicious perfection -- and only occasionally stumble upon a moral, quite unintentionally). I have to admit: I love the postmodern story conventions, but am often left feeling unsated by the postmodern stories. Not so with this movie. Er, film. Yeah.

I have a feeling I'm the last person in the world to have seen this movie but, if by some small chance, you haven't yet seen Joe Vs. The Volcano, or if you haven't seen it recently, check it out. It's very very very very very good.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Crud. It just hit me: I know what I've lost -- what I've been lacking -- in these many months. It is Whimsy whence I've bene bereft.

Well, good. I've identified the problem. That's the first step. The next step is to seek an infusion of Whimsy, and the quickest way to do to that is to visit Rodney's Whimsyload.

Which 'Whose Line is it Anyway?' actor are you!?

brought to you by Quizilla

That's cool. I can deal with being any of the gang except for Greg Proops (his illustrious Star Wars career not withstanding).

Thanks to Kat of Come On, Get Lively for the link!
Mennonite Midwife Behind Bars

Everyone should read this article to read about a woman in Ohio who really is imprisioned, has been for months, unjustly. It's also an illustration about how destructive an autocratic judge really can be (seriously, who but the most overcompensating turd in the world would threaten a prisioner with harsher punishments if their supporters were to hold another prayer rally?) and why it's so important to know who you're voting for in these elections.
Encouraging news about the new Star Trek film fron Ain't It Cool News.

And yet, sadness for what might've been included but wasn't (particularly any speech in front of the Romulan Senate is always to be missed).
New Scientist: Infant rat heads grafted onto adults' thighs

Infant rats are being decapitated and their heads grafted onto the thighs of adults by researchers in Japan.

If kept cool while the blood flow is stopped, a transplanted brain can develop as normal for at least three weeks, and the mouth of the head will move, as if it is trying to drink milk, the team reports.
"I'm not sure that this complicated technique offers an advantage in any way - I can't see it being widely used."

Yeah, but I guess someone just had to try, though, now didn't they? I've always wondered where those Capcom game designers get all their ideas for those horrible Resident Evil monsters, and I guess now I know: they just pay a visit to their local Pointless Animal Research Laboratory.
FOXNews.com: Cops Give Porn Movie Report to College

I will admit: there are certain things you can get a state university that you just can't get anywhere else.
FOXNews.com: 'Eco-Terrorists' Go to Extremes

Just have to say that you would never have seen Janet Nero's FBI going after these terrorists/criminals. Not unless one or two of them happened to also coincidentally be jaywalking in front of a Planned Parenthood mill, of course.

What's up with that picture, though? "Gisele: Fur Scum". Fur Scum? What the heck is that?
Amazon.com Listmania!: Kitchen Items That Sound Like Bands

One of the more entertaining Amazon.com lists. Just a little on the short side, though.
Thanks to many Nigerian muslims the funniest joke of 2002 was also the bloodiest: 200 dead, dozens of churches and thousands of homes destroyed. Let it be said that I have little appreciation for any group of people that can't take a truthful joke.
"The color of your skin determines so many important things about your life experience — where you live, where you go to work and with whom you work. Race still matters in our society. The ideal of colorblindness does not mean we can or should be blind to that reality." - University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, as quoted at FoxNews.com.

Race only matters to folks who make a living out of making it matter: folks like Mary Sue Coleman. These people, people who have some interest in making race "determine so many important things about your life experience" can accurately be called, as they have always been called, racists. (This coming from someone who was himself turned down for a good-paying U of M summer science internship because of the color of his skin. Whether or not this was the deciding factor which turned me away from the sciences for good, I cannot say, but it certainly turned me away from the U of M for good. Bigoted bastards).

Monday, December 02, 2002


Silly Padre! Now hit the skids.
Bonsai Potato - Zen Without the Wait!

Good deal!
Heart, Mind & Strength Weblog: Catholic Doctors Experience Discrimination in Michigan

Go read the piece. Very interesting. And of course, the repercussions for everyone is great: if even medicine, science now, is subject to the whims of whomever yells the loudest -- well, I think we're all in trouble.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

So Thanksgiving really is a Catholic thing. Who knew? I suppose, then, that when the time comes and the elementary school teachers make 'Xander want to dress up in dippy little buckled puritan hats (assuming they let kids dress up as anything readily identifiable with any particular ethnic group in the public schools five years from now) I shall send him to school in Spanish Conquistador armor.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, actually, we had two Thanksgivings! One with my family, and then one with the in-laws. It was great to see all the families, whole and complete, for the holidays. I'm thankful for much (pretty much everything I could name, I'm thankful for, so really Thanksgiving is probably a pretty redundant holiday), but I'm especially thankful for this.

So, Deo Gratias!

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Free PC toy of the week

If you have a PC and a CD-ROM drive, head on over to cdscratch.com and download a copy of the free Ots CD Scratch 1200. Basically this application emulates two turntables (you'll have to provide your own microphone) and allows you to play two tracks off the same CD (or two tracks off of two CDs, if you have two CD-ROM drives) at the same time (I have no idea how they manage that), match their tempos and pitches, and then scratch them on the two turntables. The app also provides some nice effects whch emulate various record characteristics (like surface noise and belt worble). It's a lot of fun. Or, as Jackie put it when she walked in during one of my furious DJ sessions: "Well, that looks really useful."

Most impressive for a free toy.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

So I'm home sick from work this evening and I'm curled up on the couch surrounded by wadded-up kleenex and 24 ends (seriously, I don't really think they needed to do a whole 'nother 24 hours for season 2. The second season should've been called 12 or 8 and it would've been more effective and watchable. It's still Keifer Sutherland, though, and he's real cool as Jack "I Will Kill You!" Bauer... though his wife really got the short end of every kind of stick last season, which sucked. And for those of you who haven't seen tonight's episode: Darlene from Roseanne -- or Melissa Gibert's sister for the Little-House-inclined -- dies. Yeah, like we didn't see that one coming. Michelle Forbes is still on the show but she's looking a little worse for the wear when compared to her Ensign Roe days on ST:TNG -- though she was still at her best in Swimming With Sharks in my opinion, but I'm getting way far afield here) and then the news comes on.

I haven't watched the news in ages and I came to this conclusion: you have to be really really mentally sick in the head to watch the news. Either that or watching the news will make you mentally sick in the head. All it is is one terrible story about some awful thing happening to someone after another. And then they have the "Problem Solver" story which was about a dog who lost a litter of puppies (stillborn) and then the owner finds a litter of puppies in a shoebox in a dumpster, half-frozen to death which she then gives to the sad mommy dog ("Problem solved!"). It was just such a hollow thing to hear, such a lame attempt at a "canine interest story" coming right after the story about the young couple with the baby who had the house they were housesitting at broken into by crooks who raped the 22-year-old woman. There's no framework provided for how one should deal with any of these stories, no explanation, no letup; they just hit you with them one after the other. Oh, and then they keep you on the hook for 20 minutes by telling you at every commercial break that a "very popular" Christmas toy that is "probably on your child's list" will make their eyes burn and get puffy -- and then after 20 minutes of this sort of setup we learn that "very popular toy" is Crazy String. Like we didn't learn in elementary school that shooting Crazy String into another kid's eyes will make them burn? Duh! That was half the fun!!

So yeah, you have to be mentally sick in the head to watch the "news".
The Hillsdale Collegian, publication of my alma mater has a nice editorial about the lack of hipness over at the Natrional Review. I think a lack of hipness is the least of their problems.
Rod Dreher on Mary Stachowicz & Hate Crimes on National Review Online

Read this article. If you read nothing else today or this entire week, read this article. It's almost enough to make me change my opinion of NRO. But read this article.
Save your brain. Here's AnalogX's handy delay calculator. You tell it the tempo and it calculates the delay in milliseconds. Though I don't suppose there's any reason you couldn't make your own sliderule to do the exact same thing.
Zorak hates this kind of article and so do I.

First, it's too long. Way too long -- even for a pointless feature piece, which is what it is: a pointless feature piece... of crap. Ahem. Judging from the little scrollbar on the side of my browser I didn't even make it 1/4 of the way through the article before I lost interest. Had I managed, by some miracle, to maintain interest I would've been reduced in short order to vomiting. Sorry, but it's true. Which brings me to the second reason why I hate this article and others like it. I hate it because it's a blatant attempt at normalizing and legitimizing the shortcomings in character of the baby boomers. I hate it when the baby boomers (not all of them, just most of them) attempt to normalize their selfish, childish, irrational, mediocre behavior. God forbid anyone should ever be forced to face up to the consequences of their actions -- heavens, no! that sort of responsibility is only for society's convincted criminals! But I hate this selfish, mediocre tendency even more (if that's possible) when kids have to suffer because of it (as will happen in this case, should divorce become even further normalized in the minds of even one more couple).

It's not selifshness? Read what perfectly divorced wife Debbie has to say is the reason why she and Eli (not their real names, I hope) drifted apart:

Even now, it's hard to describe precisely what was wrong. You could call it a lack of connection, she says, which was a word she used in counseling a few years before the separation, but "what does that mean?" She understood "on a primal level" that there was something missing in her marriage, a kind of emotional understanding and support that she hadn't, at first, even known that she needed.

"Lack of connection" on a "primal level"? Give me a break.
So I'm reading all these headlines about a French air-strike and I'm thinking "Whoa! Way to go French! It's payback time for basically being a doormat for the last 200 years!" (and I would just like to say that the Flemish, unlike the Germans, defeated the French back in 1302 when they, the French, were actually a formidable and superior military power and not in the 20th century when all they, the French, could manage was a little stunt in Vietnam). But sadly, no. It's just an air traffic controller strike. How lame is that?
One of the disadvantages of working with some sixty or eighty other employees in a center with recirculated air is that when someone gets sick, everyone usually winds up getting sick (we call them plagues). So I have the latest iteration, it would seem: a headcold which, while not too debilitating (I'm still well enough to go in to work and ensure that the plague circulates for another week or so), has left me with what feels like a head full of Spaghetti-Os. So if my thoughts seem a little off this week, that's why.

Oh, and I will probably be moving to HaloScan comments sometime in the near future. The YACCS model, as they say, just doesn't scale. And I haven't given up on Moveable Type either. I just couldn't get that darned mt-load cgi to work (within 15 minutes so I gave up).

Monday, November 25, 2002

MIKE WENDLAND: Spam king lives large off others' e-mail troubles

I come in from the weekend and have to delete 120 messages -- multiply that by 60,000 employees and you have some idea of just how badly this affects just this single company -- and the spam king lives in a $750,000 house.

PS. His personal contact info isn't that hard to get. Not that anyone should do anything with that information, should they be able to get it.
SAPD to probe storming of wrong house.

Zach writes:

So a SWAT team invades a house. They shoot through a glass door, throw a concussion grenade into the building, beat the hell out of the three people living there (sending two to the hospital), handcuff the residents... and then realize they have the wrong house. Here is the best part:

"Later, after the scuffle, Officer Darron Lyn Phillips and other officers went to the correct address two doors down, knocked on the door and arrested the suspect without incident."
Weird: today I went into BestBuy -- traditionally one of my favorite stores -- and I felt physicially sick. It could be I'm coming down with something, but it was more than that. The store felt empty and hollow instead of exciting and fun, like it usually does. I don't know if this is because I didn't have any money to buy or even ogle comfortably all the things I would have wanted (I did buy a spindle of 50 blank CD-Rs and 25 cases for $5 after rebates and a music CD, though, so I'll 'blog about that tomorrow or the next day), ordinarily, or if it's because I don't want all those things like I used to and now when I see it all there with the loud music and the people throwing Radeon graphics cards into their carts and then with all the Xboxes and DVDs coming at you from every direction... it was truly oppressive and I couldn't wait to leave: only I had to wait because they had the checkouts cordoned off so one had to walk all the way to the back of the store to then file around the queue back to the front of the store to check out and leave -- yes, just like pigs. Last Christmas season I went to BestBuy like 8 times to buy gifts for everyone. I think, this year, I've just made my only trip to that store. This is very anti-capitalist of me, but there is the beginning of feelings of disgust in me for people who buy things they don't really need (or don't need in order to make the world a better place or their families happier). I know: it's good that people can spend their money on whatever dumb stuff they think they want. Our whole way of life is based on people who spend way too much on cars, toys, housing, and whatever else. I'm certainly not going to be the one to tell other people how to spend their money: it's just by-and-large bad stewardship is all (most people don't need that faster, bigger computer -- especially not if all they do is game or surf the web... Now, electronic music production, on the other hand...). And I guess it's a good sign that I'm starting to feel sick about all this materialism and what-not... it was certainly a lesson I needed to learn as I doubt I would've given any of this a second thought even as recently as three or four short months ago.

But there are many good things out there. To whomever invented the casserole: THANK YOU! It's so great to just take whatever leftovers you have in the fridge, mix them up, throw them in a Corningware dish, top with cheese, and cook for 35 minutes. Instant dinner. Tonight we had baked surf n' turf ziti. Believe me: it was better than it sounds.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

I loathe Susan Ager, but she's on to something here... of course, usually, as soon as she gets on to something, she shoots herself in her silly Birkenstocked foot with her tired freeze-dried incohate liberalist rhetoric. But she doesn't get that far this time. Which is good.

At Cedar Creek Church outside Toledo, for example, worshiper Laurie Wuerfel sipped on coffee and told a reporter, "Who wants to sit in church if you're uncomfortable? I grew up in a Catholic church, and I hated sitting on those benches."

She brought her two sons along to the new, nondenominational church with 1,400 seats soft with four inches of cushioning topped by burgundy upholstery.

The boys drank hot chocolate.

As a friend might say "if you think your butt got sore sitting on those hard Catholic benches, think about how much more it's going to get hurt when it's licked endlessly by unquencheable fire?" Of course a Catholic Church nearby in Canton which Jackie and I went to once when we were Church shopping has the same individual, padded comfy seats (and a huge overhead projector which projects the latest prayers and song lyrics -- they change far too quickly to be contained by any single hymnal! -- onto a screen high above the altar).
I have to say again how much I appreciate reading Zorak's 'blog. Anyway, as much as I love her 'blog, I couldn't make it past the first paragraph of this article she linked to: New Gadgets May Spark Deregulation.

NEW YORK (AP) - It almost sounds too "Star Trek" to be possible: A multipurpose cell phone that also serves as an FM radio, walkie-talkie, garage door opener and TV remote control.

Huh? Has this person, Brian Bergstein, ever watched an episode of Trek? I don't recall in any episode, including those of the goofy Original Series, any character using their communicator to open a garage door or change the channel on a television (though the way "Enterprise" is going, those days are probably not long off: "T'Pal... activate the garage door opener!" "No!" "C'mon, T'Pal!" and the episode just runs on that little disagreement as "drama" for the next 53 minutes). It's just... too silly for me even to think about. I'm sorry. This isn't so much "Star Trek"-level technology as it is "A-Team" technology.
MSN.com the "everything is either about Harry Potter or sex or why your boss is a dummy" web-portal attempts to provide some enlightenment this "holiday season" with a list of Eight Sexy Holiday Tips. I'm not sure where the "sexy" is supposed to come in. Good communication (which encompasses tips one through... well, eight) is pretty much required for holiday survival, much less paving the way for any sort of "sexy holidays".

So, all in all, I was disappointed to see that none of the suggestions even mentioned Christmas lights.
I guess this counts as web ephemera if anything does: it's a page where alamuni of Richelieu Valley Regional High School (I'm afraid to speculate as to where that might be, exactly), in this case the class of 1985, have left posts. Why is this interesting? Well, because right at the top of the page is a post left by Steve Rooney. Who is steve Rooney? Well, aside from playing bit parts on Alton Brown's "Good Eats" program (Rooney plays the Mad French Chef, among other characters), he also went to Italy for a spell with Mario Botali for the "Mario Eats Italy" (trust me, Mario really did... all of it... seriously, it's not there anymore... look for yourself!) program.

So if you ever wanted Steve Rooney's hotmail address, I guess now you have it.
The Food Network was good enough to run one of the original pilots of Alton Brown's "Good Eats" television program tonight. It was cool to see how it all began. Anyway, I began looking online and found a number of good sources for all my "Good Eats"-related questions, including this very comprehensive FAQ.

Here are a couple of questions that have bugged me the most:

111a) Where are the kitchen scenes from seasons 1 to 4 shot? They are shot in a real home in the Atlanta area but the house does not belong to Alton. (Post 251.1)

111b) Where are the kitchen scenes from season 5 and on? Beginning with season #5, Alton's own production company, Be Squared, began shooting Good Eats. My sources say that they purchased a real house—also in the Atlanta area—solely for use by his company. No one actually lives there.

And, oh no, that same site actually has transcripts for each of the episodes, including my favorite, "Three Chips for Sister Martha" (three tweaks to the famous Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe which yield puffy, chewy, and thin cookies). I love the green muppet they have in that episode, noted cookie expert Maj. Wilfred D. Cookie.

Alton: Now, I'm a little pushed for time so I'm going to turn this over to a noted cookie colleague. You may know his brother from ...
Maj. Wilifred D. Cookie: I told you never to mention that ruffian. All he knows about cookies is how to shovel them into his face!


Friday, November 22, 2002

I think my favorite "Weird" Al song of all time is "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota". No other song even comes close, I think. It's on the UHF album which, regardless of if you're a "Weird" Al fan or not, should be in your CD library (though they haven't released a 20-bit gold remastering of it, though... which kind of stinks).
Recurring Dreams

In a post below I mentioned a cryptic dream I had a few nights ago. Every once in a while I have a dream (they're always different) that gives me a glimpse into a different potential life I might've had (or might still have, God forbid). It's kind of cool to think of all the different Victors in all their possible worlds, some affluent -- and really big(ger) jerks -- some really impoverished. Some Victors live in Moscow, some live in New York, some still live in my parents' basement, and some in Hillsdale. I guess the dreams are their way of checking in with me. I wouldn't trade my life now for any one of theirs.... But still.... Well, curiousity, they say, is a sin -- or at the very least an occasion to sin. And I'll buy that.

But my post inadvertantly sparked a conversation about dreams, and particularly recurring ones. I think we've all had a variation of the dream Kat Lively mentions below. Mine usually involves Latin and I'm either back in High School or in College. I know I need to go to Latin Class and it's always on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But I can't remember what time. Or what room. And so I always miss it. Is it four absences and you automatically fail the course or can I be absent as many times as I like so long as I pass the midterm? The midterm is this week? But I haven't been to a single class!!! And Dr. Holmes is going to be so disappointed.... Arrgggh!!

(It should be said I never fully applied myself to Latin and that I regret that. I regretted it then and I regret it now. My conscience is a MoFo).

I can't say as I've ever had (and remembered) quite as Portentious a dream as The Kairos Guy had (in the comments below). I've heard the voice of God clearly on only one occasion and He coud only manage to say "two" before I started interrupting: "Weeks? Months? Not years, I hope? What?! Oh, shoot. Sorry, God!" So, God, if you want to reach me, probably keep at it with the whole ineffable epiphany punch-to-the-stomach bit: those seem to be doing the trick so far.

But I, for one, fully expect and hope to have The Karios Guy commenting in my comment boxes for many, many years to come!
Some days I really miss playing videogames. I mean the really violent shoot-em-up games with the really cool graphics and explosions. I've pretty much reconciled myself to the fact that I'll be playing (in a couple years) Elmo's Great Chicken Adventure (or whatever) but still it would be nice to play Resident Evil 0 or Dead To Rights... games which are rated 'M' for Mature and most definitely not allowed in this house (since we've had a baby who really doesn't need to watch Daddy make the man's head explode in a hail of bullets).

Of course, I'd be just as happy playing a round of Mappy every once in a while. I WANT MAPPY!!! Are you listening all you retro-gaming publishers? BRING BACK MAPPY!!!

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Hope in the war against terror!

Best Defense May Be a Good, Offensive Stench

Thanks, Minute Particulars!
Goebbels comedy hits Germany, something the BBC finds tastless and morfifying as opposed to Popetown, which it produces and promotes.
Well, we knew this was coming for a while... Ave Maria University is moving to Florida. After the board of Ann Arbor Township shut Monaghan down earlier this year, Plymouth Township made an offer but just couldn't compete with Naples, Florida. And that's a shame: not that I ever had anything to do with Ave Maria College while it was nearby (though if I'd been about four or five years younger, I might have) but I do enjoy a number of the activities associated with the various other Ave Maria groups around Domino's Farms (which is about 15 minutes from my house): WDEO (the Catholic radio station), the Mens group (which I used to attend before my work schedule changed), and Credo, though that's not around anymore.

What's most interesting is that they're going to create a "town" down there called Ave Maria. I don't know if this will be a real town with other things besides the college (like a recording studio and/or record label? Hmm?) or if it'll just be, like, a Starbucks, a snack bar, and a Shell station and then they'll call that a "town". Should be interesting to see.
It took almost a full day of instrospection (since I wasn't in a position to drink heavily, it probably took longer than it could have) but I think I've finally gained some insight into why I was haunted last night. I figured out rather early that it had something to do with the date -- November 20 -- but I had to go back five years to associate some meaning with it. The good news is that it wasn't one of those regret-what-you-did-what-you-never-thought-you-could-do-and-learn-something-about-yourself moments but rather a warning, I think, not to give up in quite the same way a second time. Fun stuff, my subconscious! Or maybe it was the Holy Spirit. Or just a regular spirit (or even spirits). Who knows.

Well, I'd go into this more but 'Xander, who was asleep, woke up, started crying, and just burped all over himself (gas in, gas out), so I'd better see to that. :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

The Gleeful Extremist really is an enjoyable read. Go read it. It's enjoyable.

Thank's Zorak!
I can handle nightmares. I rarely have them and when I do they're easily dismissed. It's those other dreams, the ones which show you a glimpse into another life, an unrealized potentiality, which I find troubling and which are not so easily dismissed.

I shouldn't spend quite so much time sleeping.
Planned Parenthood: Election 2002: The Mourning After

Okay, yeah, I bogarted this link from Emily Stimpson. And yeah, that essay title is pretty offensive when one considers the actual mourning many women experience for years and years after having an abortion. And what's with the photo on that page of the young woman doing the Kellogg's Special K/Flintstones Vitamins pose? But the point to be made is that, reading the essay, it really becomes apparent that once you start killing innocent people, and then do it for 30+ years, you start to lose all perspective on things. Notice the way Dr. Harrison and his abortionist friends become Christ (defending "our environment, the middle class, the poor, ... girls and women of childbearing age, their children, and their families") and anyone who disagrees with him is someone who would rape (simultaneously? Try not to think too hard about that) the forests, streams, shorelines, and public lands. Oh, and also a war-munitions manufacturer (but not the good kind, like that Shindler's List guy).

Fortunately for Dr. Harrison, there is a cure for this kind of complete and total loss of perspective. It's called "shut the hell up."

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

ABCNEWS.com : Jackson Dangles Baby From Balcony

No doubt, Mark. If anyone else dangled their baby out a fifth-story window you can bet they'd be spending the night in jail...
Stuffing a turkey doesn't have to be rocket science: RecipeSource: White Castle Turkey Stuffing
U.S. Catholic Bishops - Office of Migration & Refugee Services: Race Car Circuit Apostolate

How come you never hear those "Priesthood: Try it on!" vocations directors talk about this? Become a NASCAR chaplain and see all the races for free for life!

One question, though: how does this fit into the Office of Migration and Refugee Services? I mean, I know some NASCAR fans dress a little shabbily, but I wouldn't classify them, by and large, in the same camp as most refugees.
So let's say you've got $5,000 to spend on transportation. Do you buy this... or this?

Monday, November 18, 2002