Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Pagan cartoonists suck.

Apocamon: The Final Judgement ("recommended for mature viewers").

The truly sad thing is that the heathen who cartooned this probably spent more time reading the Book of Revalations than 97% of Christians have done.
On the other hand, maybe I will finally get around to sorting all those magazines this weekend.
Oddly enough, this doesn't sound nearly as scary as the lesbians at my High School. We didn't have dances (too cool and alternateen for dances), but if we did, I have a feeling all the teenage guys would've been chanting "Put down the knife! Put down the knife!" instead of "Kiss, kiss, kiss!"
Back in 1984, when I was eight, my parents would sometimes take me to this arcade on South U. in Ann Arbor. I don't recall the name of the arcade, but it was in the old Wherehouse Records store (which has long since closed). Anyway, on one of these trips I played a game which featured a bunch of elfs racing through the woods, falling into holes, picking up gems, and so on. I was entralled by this game, but eventually had to leave the arcade. I never saw that game again (the videogame market crashed in '84, and this game probably lasted all of a month in the arcade).

For almost 20 years now I've been searching for the name of this game. Numerous google searches for "elf footrace arcade game" have proven fruitless. Today, though, almost by accident I found it.

Behold Midway's Mystic Marathon. It's not on the Midway Arcade Classics disc, but I managed to find a ROM for this and give it a go. I remember the graphics being a lot better, but this was still a blast to play after all these years. It rules.

And now I am, at long last, at peace.
Video Game Cameos and Reference Database

If you're like me, this will be the coolest site you see today.
The Guardian: Captured python said to be world's biggest snake

Oh, yeah? I've got your world's biggest snake right, oh, never mind.

It's a fussy eater, apparently. But when you are longer than a double-decker bus, and weigh as much as six grown men, you can afford to be.

Certainly, the owners of a zoo in Indonesia haven't been quibbling over the dietary needs of an enormous python, which prefers to eat four fierce brown dogs every month.

I guess if the dogs are neither fierce enough nor brown enough the python won't eat them. Crazy.
StLinusReview.com: Poetry and prose for orthodox Catholics!

Scheduled for first publication in Autumn 2004, St. Linus Review is a new semi-annual magazine of poetry and short prose by orthodox Catholic writers, traditionally printed and mailed to our subscribers.

Members of SSPX need not apply, thankfully. I can't tell you how furious reading their sedevacantist poetry makes me: "I think that I shall never see, a real Pope in the Holy See". I keep telling them that homophones aren't really rhymes, but they never listen to me.

Seriously, it looks like it's shaping up to be quite the review. Please consider contributing and/or subscribing. No word yet if they'll be doing any sort of They Might Be Giants/McSweeney's-style crossover in the near future, but if they do consider it, I'm ready!

Monday, December 29, 2003

Burundi: Home of the Bujumbura Saintmakers.

Another loyal follower of Christ reaches the mandatory age of retirement.
I got some encouragement out of this article.

Indie -- An artist who produces, records, and promotes his or her own music without the aid of a major or feeder label.

Indie is not -- An artist that is signed to an "independent" label that is run by people from a major or feeder label.

I guess officially I am an "indie" musician and have been for quite some time. Still, what I wouldn't give right about now for a few "sycophants that believe in you solely based on a label-created image and will discard you when you enter your thirties or beyond".
Mercy and Mary, Thoughts from a Marian of the Immaculate Conception, has discovered my music.

Thanks for the comments and for all of you in the St. 'Blog's community (and anyone who liked Robot Love), I think you'll enjoy what I've got planned, musically speaking, for you in 2003.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Has anyone read this book? Is it any good? I mean, if Q endorses it, how could it not be? Just want to know if anyone has read it.
How ruin your brand new headphones and ears in .00001 seconds.
It's overpriced, but this is a really cool idea, especially with hard-drives being so cheap.
Cafeteria Catholics

Guess which part of Paul's letter to the Colossians didn't get read at Mass today? I've noticed that the new lectionaries are all printed up with those two or three sentences not part of the "for short form read only the part in brackets", as if adding 30 or 40 words to a 150-word epistle would make any difference.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Potentially the worst Christmas card ever.
Light 'blogging today because Midway Arcade Classics is just so much fun. Seriously, pick it up if you have any of the big three consoles. There are several of the included 20 titles which alone would warrant spending the $20 on the collection (Marble Madness is still so much fun). Anyway, it's a blast. From the past, even.

Friday, December 26, 2003

ABCNEWS.com: Fla. Gets Nation's 1st Faith-Based Prison

I guess if you have to go to (state) prision, this would be the one to go to.

Oh, and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

I've been to Mass (well, actually, for me it was a 2-year-old wrestling match with Christmas hymns, but such is raising a toddler) so it's official.

Merry Christmas to one and all! Puer natus est!!!

More Christmas tomorrow for tonight we NOG!!!!!
NORAD Tracks Santa

Last I checked he was flying by Mt. Fuji. This is pretty sweet, with the Santa Cams and all. 'Xander enjoyed it. He also enjoyed the big-band Christmas tunes on the "music" page.
Everybody sing about blue!

More music by Mike and additional "Blue" remixes (scroll down) here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

And in other 'blog news, Sarah Hempel seems to be making great progress on her neo-Classical sculpture of the virgin Mary (scroll down through the December entries for pictures). If the images don't come up for you, hit reload oncertwice.
Bekah Faith left this in my comments box and it was so great, I just wanted to be sure you all saw it.

I wanted to send you a Christmas card,
But they don't make those anymore.
For they all spoke of winter solstice;
"Baby Jesus, there's the door."

And what they've done to poor St. Nicholas!
As if they don't realize
He once punched out a fellow bishop
Who denied the divinity of Christ.

I'd like to follow in his footsteps
And smash a card maker in the nose,
And shout, "Parsley's greetings!"
As out the door I go.

But in the interest of peace on earth
The only thing I'll say
Is "Merry Christmas one and all,
And pagans can go eat hay."
ComingSoon.net brings us The "King Arthur" Trailer.

Okay, is it just me or is it going to be the case that every movie released over the next few years is going to have mutiple scenes of hundreds of shield-bearing extras charging across a field? Still, it's nice to see Clive Owen getting some legitimate work (well, as legitimate as a movie which purports to be the "true story of the real King Arthur" can ever actually be).

Check ComingSoon.net for other trailers, like the SpongeBob Squarepants teaser, which is actually a fairly clever use of about 10 seconds of animation. I am not, however, going to watch anything having to do with a Stepford Wives remake.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow looks smegging fantastic, though -- not bad for a movie with no actual sets at all. You can never beat giant robots vs. 1930s-vintage fighter planes. Hogarthhhhh...

It's almost enough to make me want to start seeing movies in the theater again. Almost.
Merry and Christmas

If the ACLU and the terrorists' mission was to ruin everyone's holiday, well then MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Seriously: Puritans (who once banned the celebration of Christmas), Terrorists, and the ACLU... can YOU spot the ideological differences or variances in the means of accomplishing their goals (read: self-aggrandizement and terror)? Because I sure can't.

A pox (not Epyx, because that was actually cool -- particularly this remix of the "Temple of Apshai" theme) on them all!

Sigh.... you can never go back to Apshai. I know that's a little off topic, but I miss it.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Click here to see a panorama shot of Jackie's Piano-top Christmas Village (by night).

Maybe tomorrow I'll do a daytime panorama.

"Join the College of Athanasius," by Steve Kellmeyer

This is a truly awesome article and should be read by everyone who reads this 'blog (and particularly by all the fathers and Fathers who read this 'blog). It's a call to not be cowards.

Let's never be afraid to speak the truth, people. No matter what the setting and context. No matter what the temporal cost. To paraphrase my Penny Catechism, God is Truth and lies cannot abide within Him. I suppose the broad category "liars" would also include all of us who, in Kellmeyer's words, are cowards and let those lies slip by unchallenged.

Besides, sometimes it's just fun to be a brat and make the liars of our culture get all frustrated ;). I especially like the part when they get self-righteous and, abandoning all logic or coherence, try to turn it back around. When it happens in real life, it's funnier than an episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond".

Best of all, you don't have to be all that clever or articulate to state the truth -- that's what's so great about it: it's the anti-Sophistry. So do us all a favor and tell some Truth to a total stranger today; even if it just means saying "Merry Christmas" instead of "Various inspecific felicitations of the presumed wintertime season."
I have temporarily disabled the annoying load voiceovers for now. I'll bring them back when I can do something cool with the idea :).

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Happy Holidays from Meeka and her Cool Cousins

Listening to this made me want to die. No offense to Meeka or her cool cousins, of course. But, hey, it's free and approximately 20-minutes long. What do you want? Okay.. okay.. when you keep listening to it, it's actually kinda cute. And I appreciate that someone is living out their dream (okay, my dream) of making music with their kids (at least I hope it's their kids). Sheesh. I take back everything I ever said about Meeka and her Cool Cousins. I'm not THAT big of a Scrooge.

Another free kids' music site I'm checking out is Playhouse Radio. So far some good (and some odd -- in the "Marching" category, check out "Thor, the Dinosaur") stuff there. If you can find "Dance Party" by ScribbleMonster it's well worth the search (hint: song category = "Dance").
Woohoo! The in-laws just proved how cool they were (actually, I already knew they were cool) by getting me "Gigantic" on DVD for Christmas. Can't wait to watch it (which I can now do, since I've put together 'Xander's Little People Auto Service Garage. Vocational training can be so cute sometimes.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

This last summer, while unemployed, I made some cartoons. 'Xander watched the Farmer Joe cartoon a few times back then and seemed non-plussed by it. Today, though, I showed it to him again and he couldn't get enough of it. Every time it would end he'd say "Watch, more!" and I'd play it again and again (until I found the handy "loop" feature in Quicktime).

He watched it so many times that he started doing the little robot dances in the appropriate parts (waving his arms around when Farmer Joe breaks and goes mental, bobbing his head up and down with the chickens). And after every time: "Watch, more!" As a father, it was one of the most gratifying moments of my life.
The Argument

Heard these cats on NPR's Mountain Stage program. Very good keyboard-driven rock band from West Virginia. Can't wait until their record comes out. Check out the free mp3s on their webpage.
CExchange.com: Infertility Heartache Results in Death of 200,000 Children in US
Lebanese Says U.S. Troops 'Tortured' Him with Rap

"They didn't torture us physically but they did psychologically by raising the volume of rap music all day until it became unbearable and by withholding food," he said.

But Jaber said he kept one secret from his captors, fearing the treatment could get worse.

"I mean I like rap, just imagine them playing jazz."

Link via regular 'blog reader, John. Thanks, John. I *did* find that link interesting.
They Might Be Finished!

I've been working here and there on setting up a Linux based Dial-A-Song answering machine for They Might Be Giants. I promised it to them in April, really buckled down in October, and I'm finally (almost) done today.

Way to go, Leo Laporte!

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Oh, and tonight I was reminded why I never became a lounge pianist: the sight of many middle-aged women doing the electric slide while two white guys (the "duelling pianists") belted out Clarence Carter's "Strokin'!"

Oh yes. THAT is going into the screenplay.
Prayer requests

Please pray for my cousin's husband, Lucas, who is a great musician, father to three children (one just born), and Arny Reservist who was just today, a week before Christmas, shipped off to Iraq.

Please pray for Jackie's best friend Dawn who was supposed to watch 'Xander tonight so we could go out but had instead to go into the hospital for emergency surgery. On her way to the emergency room she called, sobbing, because she didn't want to let Jackie down on her birthday.

Also pray for Jackie and 'Xander who seem to have this pneumoniatic bug that's going around. Jackie's almost beat it, 'Xander has just started with the hacking cough.

Thanks! And if you're an atheist or capitalist who doesn't believe in the power of prayer, I've got a PayPal donations button at the top of the page for you. Everyone can do something.
And if you believe that...

I've got a town in Arizona to sell you!

Tortilla flat? You bet your AZ!
Unfortunate headline.
Happy Birthday to my lovely wife, Jackie!!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Dude! I made my 'blog even MORE annoying! Turn on your PC speakers and hit "reload" a bunch of times.


Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Some thoughts for a cold Tuesday night... (your answers appreciated, particularly to question 1)

How much is the pearl of great price worth, anyway?

Wouldn't you think that if you sold out to mammon, you'd wind up getting paid at some point?

This is beautiful. But how come?

How could I forget the camera bag? It's the reason I went to the store in the first place.

What happens to all of the people who never followed their dreams when they die? Is there some reward for that?

What leads one to even ponder such things?

And if dodongo dislikes smoke, how come he eats bombs?
Because murder always has a "Plan B".

I think it's time to face the facts and hang it up: Civilization is lost.

Una salus victis nullam sperare salutem.

Roughly translated: "It's just about time to break out the case of scotch and the shotgun."
Please pray for R.C. of Catholic Light 'blog and the soul of his dear, departed mother.
Another argument for putting entertainers in cryogenic stasis tanks when they are not performing. Though I guess in Hill's case you'd have to put her in one even when she was onstage, too. How much navel-gazing do you actually need to do to make it to the point where you think this sort of thing is actually a good idea?


Monday, December 15, 2003

WashingtonPost.com: Hussein Exposed, By Jim Hoagland

Not so much for the article, but for the Crossfire ad on the right-hand side. Don't James Carville and Paul Begala look like siamese twins conjoined at the forehead? Hee!
Gimli for ruler of the world!

I've always liked John Rhys-Davies, ever since his turn as Sallah in Indiana Joneses I and III. I hope he makes it into IV. Seriously, though... I can almost imagine 98% of the journalists in the room holding back a collective gasp as he spoke (among those journalists present who understand words like "demographic" and "genetic", I mean). It's almost like Belloc entered our century from the past for some reason (usually because Samantha wrinkles her nose and screws everything up) and was lecturing modern-day journalists.

Anyway, you have my axe, John!
This month's KVR-VST contest topic is Covers! Be sure to check out the entries here.

Mr. Me's version of "Walk on the Wild Side" is not bad at all!

(And with that, the Music Monday hat-trick o' links comes to a close).
Nice Keyboard Magazine feature on young Jazz-Pianist Jason Moran.

The homepae of Zbigniew Preisner. About what you'd expect for the homepage of a world-class composer. Nice Flash work and some neat streaming music. Check it out.
All Hail our pro-life, Republican President. He gets results!

CExchange.com: Planned Parenthood Kills Record Number of Babies in 2002-2003; Profits Way Up

While the overall number of abortions are declining in the US, PPFA surgical abortions increased over 14,000 [to 227,385] from 2001 and the group's profits shot up 300 percent from $12.2 million in 2001 to $36.6 million last year. The profit margin is based on the 2002 PPFA income of $766.6 million, $254.4 million of which was US taxpayer money.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

New Song!

This one is a cover of the theme for the Midway arcade classic "Paperboy", put together for the KVR-VST December contest (the topic, apparently unaware that such things are illegal, was covers). Anyway, throwing caution to the wind, here is my 1970s jazz/funk fusion version of the arcade classic.

"Paperboy (1970s version)" 128kbps .mp3, approx. 1.8MB, right-click to save-as or stream by clicking here

Read more about Paperboy (and listen to audio snippets) here.
And all these years I thought I was "Deck Us All With Boston Charlie"

Okay, I deleted the image because it was just too big and awful, but...

You are 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing'. You take Christmas very seriously. For you, it is a religious festival, celebrating the birth of the Saviour, and its current secularisation really irritates you. You enjoy the period of Advent leading up to Christmas, and attend any local carol services you can find, as well as the more contemplative Advent church services each Sunday. You may be involved in Christmas food collections or similar charity work. The midnight service at your church, with candles and carols, is one you look forward to all year, and you also look forward to the family get together on Christmas Day.

What Christmas Carol are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
And so it ends: not with a bang, but a bunker.

It's like Lee Trevino said: "Grizzly Adams did have a beard!"

Saturday, December 13, 2003

I guess I missed the new ChopLifter game when it was released last year (I don't own a PS2, so that's probably why). Judging from the trailer, though, it doesn't look like you can blow the little bunkers open and then mow down with your chain-gun all the little hostages that come running out. And that's a shame.
Ain't it cool? Ain't it cool?

I've got two words for the planners of this. "Michael" and "Dorn".
If you missed those bygone days of Stereo's first introduction to the public, awing them with panoramic sound, zany sound effects zipping from one speaker to the other, and feel your life has been lacking something because of that, mope no further:

Dr. Chesky's 5.1 Surround Show on DVD-Audio.

Features 38 tracks of original music and wild sound effects that will shake-up your sound system - all recorded in 5.1 surround sound.
A mind-boggling array of original world music, percussion and a few very strange tunes [Track 9. Music for Cello, Helicopter and Cars!] especially created to highlight your 5.1 surround sound system.

Read more in this interview with Dr. Chesky.

I almost want to run right out and buy a DVD-A player just to listen to this disc. Almost. More realistically, I understand Pioneer has introduced a universal DVD player which plays all the new formats (SACD, DVD-A, etc.) for less than $200. One thing I've realised, though, is that when you're a single-income household coming off five months of unemployment, there's not much difference between $200, $2,000, or $20,000. Regardless, these are exciting times.
the pillows official website
A New Low

RCA Red Seal and Victor releases Shacking Up to Chopin. The Amazon.com page has some nice, outraged reviews (a well as a close-up of the "Parental Advisory, Sexual Content" sticker on the pornographic album cover). Also, don't miss Bedroom Bliss with Beethoven and Making Out to Mozart. Andre Previn was (suitably) outraged that one of his recordings appeared on one of these records.

We've come a long way since "Holding Hands with Holst" or even "Sucking Face to Stravinsky", haven't we? What's next? "Pants Off with Part?" I shudder to think what their record of Orff would be called.
Light 'blogging today. Our "free" Legend of Zelda: Collectors Edition disc arrived today (Friday night) and we dove right into Majora's Mask (after laughing at the graphics for The Legend of Zelda and Link's Adventure and how we thought they were so cool-looking when they first came out -- which they were... when they first came out). Majora's Mask is a lot less stressful than I remember it (you'll recall that each game episode has to be played in three days before the suicidal moon crashes into the clock tower and if you reset time too early you'll lose all your work for the past three days... it's my ultimate nightmare... not being able to save my work and having to do it all over again). Plus that moon always freaked me out. Still does.

"Tingle! Tingle! Kooloo-Limpa! These are the magic words that Tingle created himself. Don’t steal them!"

Thursday, December 11, 2003

I've been getting more agressive about spam and I think I accidentally deleted an email with the subject "Request to use your poem-tag". Unfortunately I didn't see who it was from. If that was you, email me again. But otherwise, yeah, you have permission to use my poem tag for just about anything, provided I get a cut (if there's money or prestige involved).

I gots to get GPO. It's important.
I heard about something else today that was a really bad idea, but I forget now what it was. If I remember what it was, I'll be sure to tell you. That's what I'm here for!
Okay, here's another BAD IDEA.

USAToday.com: 'Space Invaders' set for new U.S. invasion

Did anyone actually think this game was fun when it came out 25 years ago? I remember playing it then and it was the most boring thing I'd ever seen... and I was only three!! It was slow-paced, it took forever for your bullet to get to the top of the screen so if you missed the little space monsters, which was nearly impossible, you were left sitting around for like five minutes until you could shoot again.

And now they want to charge you 50-cents (that's the old-school equivalent of "Fiddy Cent" for all you new-school hip-hoppers out there) for it? Honestly, I like retro-video-game-nostalgia as much as the next guy. I'm looking forward, with all of my heart, to seeing Midway Arcade Treasures under my tree this "holiday" (I can not WAIT to play Rampage, Rampart, and SmashTV again! Not to mention Sinistar, Vindicators, Gauntlet II, Spy Hunter, and the other 13 games in the collection) but give me a break! Space Invaders? And they want people to spend 50-cents on it? Who is going to be fool enough to do that?

So, kids, here's your choice: you can sit at your table or at the bar or whatever and rip up a paper napkin into little shreds or take half-a-dollar and expose yourself to huge massive amounts of boredom for ten minutes during which time your girlfriend or wife or whatever will have taken the car and driven home to watch "Trading Spaces" which is even more exciting than Space Invaders (and, yes, Space Invaders is the ONLY videogame -- including "Elmo's Typing Adventure" -- which is more boring than "Trading Spaces").

Galaga or R-Type, I could understand... but SPACE INVADERS? Did I mention it was BORING? Oh. I did? Good.
Okay, can I believe my eyes? Did ABC really just broadcast something called the "Billy Graham Crusade"? Billy Graham?! CRUSADE?!


Not everyone likes the Billy Graham Crusade, of course. For some, it's just too Catholic-friendly. I'm just sorry that the link at the bottom of that page to the review of "The Assimilation of Evangelist Billy Graham Into the Roman Catholic Church" doesn't work.

My sincere apologies to everyone who felt compelled to gouge their eyes out with a grapefruit spoon earlier today after clicking on one of my links.

To make up for that, go to Google.com enter in "the most beautiful thing in the world" (without the quotes) and click "I'm feeling lucky". Prepare to weep at the sheer awe of it all. And if THAT doesn't do it for you try "the most beautiful thing that ever existed" (again, without the quotes) and prepare to go "Kitties!"

(What's weird, though, is how many of these beauty links "the most beautiful thing on earth" for example, link to science sites. Is science the one area of our lives where we, as Americans, can admit that beauty still exists? When was the last time you read a movie review or a music review that used the word "beautiful"? A discussion for another day, perhaps).
The Influenza Pandemic of 1918

The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than the Great War, known today as World War I (WWI), at somewhere between 20 and 40 million people. It has been cited as the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history. More people died of influenza in a single year than in four-years of the Black Death Bubonic Plague from 1347 to 1351. Known as "Spanish Flu" or "La Grippe" the influenza of 1918-1919 was a global disaster.

And yet you don't really hear too much about it these days. Which is odd in an era of medical triumphs where three dead people in Toronto constitutes an "epidemic".
Barbara Nicolosi nicely summarizes the reception of "The Passion of the Christ" by the Ain't It Cool News crowd. I pretty much got chills reading this.
Slate: Meet the Greedy Grandparents; Why America's elderly are so spoiled.

Why do we keep indulging the grizzled ones? The most obvious reason is that they are so tireless and well-organized in demanding alms. No politician ever lost an election because he was too generous to little old ladies. A lot of people are suckered by the image of financially strapped seniors, even though the poverty rate among those 65 and over has been lower than that for the population as a whole since 1974. But it's not just the interests of old coots that are being served here. Young and middle-aged adults tend to look kindly upon lavish federal generosity to Grandma because it means she won't be hitting them up for help. Paying taxes may be onerous, but it's nothing compared to the cost, financial and otherwise, of adding a mother-in-law suite to the house. Working-age folks also assume that whatever they bestow upon today's seniors will be likewise bestowed on them, and in the not too distant future. It's not really fair to blame the greatest generation for this extravagance. They are guilty, but they have an accomplice.

I guess even Slate can come close to getting it right every once in a while. Link via Zorak.
I'm Justin Katz' Song You Should Know this week, and, well, I really need to get around to re-recording those vocals.

Thanks, Justin!
After watching the streaming-video preview of Stephen Ray's "Footprints of God" series, I think I'm going to have to pick up a few of them on DVD. I know the "Jesus" episode is on DVD, and hopefully they'll go back and release the others on DVD, too. I'd be interested in picking up the "Peter" DVD.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

From the country what brung you the "lambada".

For years, apparently, men have been shoving cucumbers down their pants in an effort to emphasize or augment their manhood as perceived through tight-fitting swimwear. For years, it seems, women have been left out of this cycle of escalation and augmentation. Until now.

Warning: the following link will offend some of you but it's important (I assume) that you, as parents, know this sort of thing exists. And you'd probably never ever in a million years learn about this thing any other way. Which means that I'll be the first 'blog you've ever seen that links to it. And that makes me cooler than Mark Shea or Fr. Bryce. For today, at least. And even if I alienate 83% of my readers, I'll still have 52,943,876 of you left (beat that, Shea!!!).


Don't ask me what "Periquitex" means in Brazilian, because I don't know. Part of the text, when translated with Babelfish, reads "exhiba with pride, shows, points! horta goes to rain man in its." So I guess this sort of thing will attract Dustin Hoffman. And apparently it comes in three sizes depending on what level of Mariah Carey-ness you're going for. Whee.
KurthAlsey.com -- Depressing cartoonist.

This sums up his work. Poignant or just creepy? You decide. Imagine "Precious Moments" meets self-destructive one-night sexual-encounters and you've pretty much got the idea.

And he's nowhere near the artist/cartoonist that Sam Torode is.
Mark Shea keeps getting all sorts of ominous warnings about how he's alienating loads and loads of people (apparently -- I haven't actually seen the warnings). This is apparently because some folks disagree with Mark's very legitimate, carefully thought-out (I've been reading his 'blog for years now, and know that Mark -- unlike myself -- doesn't post something unless he's thought it through) objections to the war in Iraq. Clearly Mark is not entitled to his voice his opinion unless he's thought about how many people he's alienating (alienation from what? one wonders).

Obviously Mark doesn't know that the only sure cure for this is to post, on his 'blog, a picture of his bare buttocks pressed up against a plate glass window. The so-called "pressed ham" should take care of all those alienated by his voicing of his opinions. For good.

("Victor" makes beautiful music!).

I wasn't aware of these! Thanks, Don!.
CSMonitor.com: Preempting China's Missiles

Is anyone else disappointed with Pres. Bush's "Free for me (and the Iraq-i), but not for thee" stance in regards to Taiwan? Taiwan isn't even asserting their independence from mainland opressor, China, just wishing to put to a vote whether they're cool with China deploying missles aimed right at them (note: Pres. Bush is not cool with Chinese missles pointed right at us: witness missle defense).

Note to the president: some things, like a trade war with the European Union, or the impeachment of 5/9ths of our Supreme Court "justices", are inevitible if our country is to survive in any recognizable form. Taiwan probably feels the same way about their national identity (and liberty).
The promise of an authentic-sounding vocal synthesizer has eluded the music industry for many, many years (or some such superfluous lead-in sentence). Enter Zero-G's Vocaloid. And, well, as you can hear from these audio samples the technology clearly has a ways to go (check out the "Ave Maria" in particular and be prepared to laugh your butts off...). "Soul Vocalist", indeed.

I'm trying to think of a musical application for Vocaloid, and considering how easy it is to get your friends to sing for you, I really can't think of one (unless you're going to be doing a Robot-themed album in the near future, of course -- and even then, Vocaloid Lola doesn't sound nearly robotic enough). But, of course, three months from now don't be surprised if there's some big 30,000,000-selling record that comes along featuring Zero-G's Mongoloid extensively.
The Curt Jester's Avazon.com

$13.88 sounds about right for my CD+G. Does anyone have any CD+G players anymore? Maybe those new Bratz karaoke machines could play it.

Very funny stuff, anyway.
CatholicExchange.com: Parent Sues School Over Anti-Christmas Bias

A mother of two has taken the New York City public school system to court over its policy prohibiting nativity scenes.

When Andrea Skoros of Queens learned that a display of her sons' model of the baby Jesus in a manger was not allowed at their school, she sought the help of the Thomas More Law Center. With the Center's assistance, the angry parent filed a federal lawsuit against the school system.

The city permits Menorah decorations and displays of the Islamic star and crescent in schools, but has banned Christian symbols. Skoros believes the city is intentionally discriminating against Christians.

So the kid couldn't even bring in his shoe-box diarama? That he made? And meanwhile they're putting up taxpayer-funded Islamic Crescent decorations? Thank God (not Allah) for the Thomas More Law Center. It's so refreshing to finally see these abuses and usurpations of Americans' civil liberties in the public schools being challenged. It's important to keep fighting these things, until the public schools are free of these sorts of bigoted, anti-Christian jerk-offs (or until there are no more public schools).

In some respects I wish all the Christians in this country would just give up and let this self-destructive culture just implode or be overrun by Islamists or abort itself out of existence (or a combination of the three), but I realize we can't just do that. It sucks, fighting for the existence of people who don't appreciate you and would just as soon see you dead or shipped off to Iceland or something... but it seems to me there was once a Guy who did just that.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Not surprised.

Take a gander at these marker drawings and tell me they're not drug-induced. I thought everyone knew about Clinton's addictions, though. None of that changes that he's one of the best composers/arrangers/producers who ever lived. Put him together with Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell, Junie Morrison, and Fred Wesley and tell me their work doesn't match up favorably with the best of Bach or Beethoven in its complexity of harmonies, melodies, and of course rhythm.

Run out and buy "The Motorbooty Affair" on CD (or on vinyl, if you can find the picture-disc with Starchild water-skiing on the backs of the dolphins) right now.

I'd write more but Fairly Oddparents is coming on. I can't be the only one who though (and was surprised to find himself thinking) that the Fairly Oddparents "Christmas" special was better than the Jimmy Neutron "Christmas" special (even if it did have Mel Brooks as the voice of Santa).
If someone were to make an action figure of YOUR life, would anyone want to play with it?
The Passion of The Christ official website. Check out the teaser trailer!

Monday, December 08, 2003

Stupid Blogger.
So there's this 2-page flyer in our Parish bulletin this week, put out by the Office for Christian Worship of the Archdiocese of Detroit (written by a Dennis C. Smolarski, SJ -- who I guess is a pretty effective Math teacher) In addition to the bad woodblocky picture of Christ, this flyer has a bunch of text under the headline "What is the gesture of reverence for Communion?" Putting aside the fact that up until about six weeks ago I had spent 28 years as a Catholic and never once heard, in Church, anyone mention anything about any sort of gesture of reverence for Communion. But I guess when the Pope issues a document promoting reverence for the Communion, you have to do something, and if it means you can take care of the one or two young men in every Church who insist on genuflecting before receiving, or kneeling while receiving, so much the better.

So anyway, the flyer says that from now on we should bow at the neck (and presumably announce "domo arigato", though watching the folks receiving tonight, this comes to mind, too) just before receiving. Basically, the entire document can be summed up (I assume) in the quote they've pulled out (I forgot what that's called in newspaper terms, like a drop quote or something) from the main text: "The sign of unity is absent when people use different gestures or postures."

Tell you what. When the Cardinal does something about the sign of unity absent when prominent (and not-so-prominent) Catholics in his Archdiocese can't even agree that sticking a pair of sissors into a baby's skull as it's being born and then sucking out her brain is something that is morally "not good", then we'll worry about the sign of unity absent when Victor genuflects before receiving the Eucharist.
Electronic Musician's November, 2003, article on free (or inexpensive) Algorithmic Composition software. This is something I've always been at least a little interested in, though I don't know that I'd devote any serious time to the project. Still, it'd be interesting to hear what the Summa Theologica in Latin would "sound" like, run through MuSoft's Musical Generator. If you have a few minutes to spare, download the shareware (free for 30 days, $25 after that) and maybe you can be the first!

If you do this, let me know -- I would love to hear it!

Saturday, December 06, 2003

I want this. Someone buy me this. When it comes out, I mean.

Aww... who am I kidding: it's a top-flight sample library from Bela D Media (albeit one of Latin plainsong). It's going to cost at least $400.
'Xander found my current issue of Keyboard magazine with Daffy Duck on the cover and immediately started saying "Da Duck! Da Duck!" Now, we know he knows Jimmy Neutron ("Nootron!") and Spongebob Squarepants ("Spon-bob!"), but we had no idea he knew Daffy Duck.

And on top of that we're watching NickToons this afternoon and that freaky guy comes on after one of the shows to show the kids another "NickGroove", which is basically a short dance step, this one was called the "Cosmo and Wanda Hand Jive" (trust me, it's a lot better than the "Jimmy Neutron Butt Boogie" or the "Chalk Zone Freak-Bone Skank"... okay, that last one is a dance I made up) and the guy demos the move and 'Xander copies it nearly perfectly. The music starts and 'Xander starts dancing, doing the Cosmo and Wanda Hand Jive... pretty impressive for a 23-month old, but I guess kids are very impressionable at that age.

And, of course, he's a genius when it comes to dancing and cartoons! And numbers. What's most enlightening to me as a parent is how much of this stuff he comes up with on his own:

Xander and his hats
Democracy: Your choice of one of two appointed tyrants!

Not that it matters of course: any law that can be signed by our un-democratically-elected leaders can be overturned by our un-elected supreme-court Judges. To paraphrase a recent Pat Buchanan article: "The worse the better", though, as far as counterrevolutionaries are concerned.

The counterrevolution will not be televised, will not be televised, will not be televised....

Which reminds me. I should dig up my Gil Scott Heron CDs.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Women Dig In: The defense of Planned Parenthood is the latest battle in a long campaign

As long as they're digging their own graves, which is pretty much the case. I like how they say "Women Dig In" with reference to Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that the majority of women are Pro-Life.

It's been a month since an anti-abortion boycott brought construction to a halt on a new Planned Parenthood clinic at Ben White and South Congress, where all that visibly remains, for the moment, is a chain-link fence giving way to a cheerless dirt lot.

Yeah, because, you know, Abortion Clinics are traditionaly such cheery places, when compared with sandlots. Anyway, you can read the rest of the article, which reads like an editorial in the Bizzaro-World Times until you realise that this is indeed Amerika, 2003. This Chris Danze fellow is a bonafide hero. I hope we, in the culture of life, recognize and take care of him as befits a hero. The article unjustly calls him a Puritan because the writer, quite obviously, lacks the self-reflection to see that she is, in fact, the Puritan, up in arms over the one man who dares defy her purityrannical (that's my word) belief in the sanctity of murder on demand.

The article is pretty much unreadable, but note the quotes from Rep. Rodriguez a bit later in the article, where he expresses his endorsement for the abortion mill, as it would support the lower-income citizens of Austin. I guess when you've already got the Hispanic vote locked-up, you don't need to be too concerned about a mill pretty much set up in such a location as to kill Hispanic and other minority babies.

And of course the final quote of the article goes to some ponce who faults Danze for not coming up with a "positive way" to reach his "goals". Uhhh... reality check: "negative way to reach goal" = "blowing up existing clinic" vs. "positive way to reach goal" = "acting well within your rights and the law to let the Free Market do it's thang"
Uhhhh.... "Back" to the moon?

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Whatever you do, don't mistype "Google".
Pope: Music Must be Appropriate for Liturgical Celebration

VATICAN CITY, DEC 4, 2003 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, a chirography by the Holy Father for the centenary of the motu proprio “Tra le sollecitudini,” promulgated by St. Pius X and which considered sacred music in religious functions, was made public. A chirograph is a papal document which bears the signature of the Pope and which provides instructions on an administrative order.

In the message, dated November 22, the feast day of St. Cecilia, patron of music, the Pope emphasizes that “music used for sacred rites must have sanctity as its point of reference” and he underscored that “not all musical forms are appropriate for liturgical celebrations.”

My favorite bits so far:

"The sacred environment of liturgical celebration must never become a laboratory for experimentation or trial compositions and performances, introduced without careful consideration."


"It is necessary to be careful that the instruments are appropriate for sacred use, for the dignity of a church, and that they are able to accompany singing by the faithful and edify it."
Morpheus Labs is an Audio Production studio, specializing in professional, high quality musical composition and sound designing for videogames and motion pictures.

The Labs is run by 29 year old classically trained composer / producer....

Sadly, this is not my "About" page, but the "About" page of Rom Di Prisco. That's okay, though. I look terrible in eye makeup.
Beliefnet.com: Shamans at the Cineplex; The real-life American Indian shamanism behind Disney's 'Brother Bear'

Just in case there was any doubt left in your mind, Parents, after reading this.

Anyway, back to Belief-Nuts:

American Indian medicine powers are badly understood by those who conquered Indian country. One of the great American myths about native shamans is that they were rare. This fact applies only to more recent times. My reading of the historical records is that at least half of the people had spirit helpers. Yes, powerful shamans who could cure were rare, but the use of medicine powers was not. Most people had at least one small power.

Too bad the people who conquered "Indian country" (I guess that'd be next to "Bear County") are all dead, or else we could ask them exactly what their understanding of American Indian medicine powers were. My guess is that they had a pretty good and clear idea of what they were. Anyway, just one more brief excerpt.

Be sure to watch for how many times along Kenai's way a prayer is given in a time of need or danger, and help is instantly there. That's exactly the way it works in the reality where humans and animal spirits walk through life in unison. And, believe me, that reality still lives hidden away out there among our American Indians. So another star for Disney's realistic portrayal of that seldom seen realm of American Indian medicine powers.

"That's exactly the way it works in the reality where humans and animal spirits walk through life in unison." Yeah. Reality. Too bad all those people in the World Trade Center didn't walk in union with their animal spirit guides, eh? And, come to think of it, how were the Europeans even able to conquer the American Indians anyway? Seriously, pagansism is so lame.

Anyway, I guess it's good to know that even after 10 or 15 years, Disney can still be poison.
Slate: SCOTUS for Dummies! By even bigger, bigoted, Dummies!

Scope out that headline: "Rock of Ages and a Hard Space; The Supreme Court searches for breathing room in its religion cases." The phrase is "between a rock and a hard place", not "space" you morons. If you were between a rock and a hard "space" (whatever that could be: "Careful, Flash! The space is unbelievably hard on this planet!") you would just move into the space to get away from the rock. Unless you were a Slate columnist, that is, in which case you'd blithely and repeatedly beat your head against the rock until you got that one, remaining, annoying, functioning brain cell.

If you could bottle up all the stupid at Slate and sell it on the Internet... well, I'm not sure where I was going with that analogy, but -- golly! -- that'd certainly be a lot of stupid being sold on the Internet, wouldn't it?

Update: This must just be one of those weeks (you know, the kind where the names of all the days end in "-day"?): Dummy La Dimwit is on a roll!!

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

WorldNet Daily: D.C. to install free-condom machines

Great. And what D.C. really needs, in the interest of protecting its citizens (from the government, from muggers, from snipers) is free-ammo dispensers.

And seriously... who's going to take a condom from a free dispenser who wouldn't already have stolen one from the drugstore or gotten one for free at the local high school? I hope these condoms have little Department of the Interior logos on them or some other indiciation that, in addition to being of loose morals, your "partner" for the evening (or, in the documented case of most homosexual relationships, the next 10 to 15 minutes) is also exceedingly cheap.

"When you care to send the very best."

Oh, and those hideous Planned Barrenhood "Choice on Earth" cards are coming back again this year, which means that my Planned Parenthood Poster Contest entries should probably come back at some point this week, as well. Let's say... Friday?
Having been through this in the past year (last month would've been Baby Lams #2's birthday), I'm not sure how I feel about this. One the one hand it'd be good to know, to have time to prepare, on the other hand, it gives you time to know.... I don't know.
Rodny Greenblat has a new art gallery online, featuring a whole load of whimsey. And also 20 years of paintings, drawings, and digital art from his career as an artist. His online gift-shop contains many rarities (and over 200 different items!). Apparently the Baby Sea Robot EP (another Robot CD... this one predates my own by a good three years -- in fact it was Rodney Greenblat who first suggested I release a CD... If I ever catch that guy, I'm gonna... just kidding ;) is now available again on CD and fans of Um-Jammer Lammy will want to cast their attention to the MilkCan "Make It Sweet" Press Kit (regrettably priced out of my range at $50, but it's ultra-rare, of course). Good think I'm not an otaku fanboy. And here's more proof that life in Japan is a lot more fun than it is here.

Check out WhimseyLoad... it's been one of my favorite yearly stops on the web for a while now, though RodneyFun.com is probably a better representative of the impact Rodney Greenblat has had on Japanese pop-culture.
Boston.com: High court says every second counts in search for illicit drugs

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court yesterday strengthened the power of police to investigate drug crimes, ruling that officers are allowed to break down the door of a private home to make a search if no one answers their knock within 15 to 20 seconds.

That period is a long enough wait to let the occupants respond, but not so long that anyone inside would have a realistic chance to flush any drugs down a toilet or a kitchen sink, the court said in a unanimous decision.

Uhhhhh... yeah. 15 seconds is not enough time to flush anything else down the toilet either. Or wipe your butt or pull up your pants. Or step out of the shower. Or turn down the television. Or walk from the bedroom to the front door. Goodbye, civil rights.
My Robot Friend ... more Robot music! I'm trying to break into this whole independent record label, underground electronica scene, but somehow I think it would involve me having to leave the house.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Kim Jong Il (the illmatic)'s LiveJournal

Link via Meredith, who is absolutely right about Tron blowing away the Matrix trilogy in just about every respect.

Oh -- and to whom it may concern: "Quadrilogy" is not nohow a word.
"O, Tempora! O, S'Mores!"
Fortunately, I think my TV has a P-chip.
Cry Havoc! and let slip the 'blogs of... you get the idea.

How you know an article is going to suck: it's headline is The Bible’s Lost Stories. And then it begins:

The year’s surprise “it” girl is the star of a mega best seller, a hot topic on campuses and rumored to be the “special friend” of a famous and powerful man. Yet she’s still very much a woman of mystery. For close to 2,000 years, Christians have known her as Mary Magdalene, but she was probably named Miriam, and came from the fishing village of Magdala. Most people today grew up believing she was a harlot saved by Jesus. But the Bible never says that. Scholars working with ancient texts now believe she was one of Christ’s most devoted followers, perhaps even his trusted confidante and financial backer.

WHAT THE SMEGGING HELL?!?!? FINANCIAL BACKER!? "SPECIAL FRIEND"!? And has anyone even used the phrase "'it' girl" since Biblical times? Seriously, if you ask me the Church actually should have gone around burning the Gnostic gospels, as she is charged to have done in the relatively-enlightened (by today's standard) golden age of Christendom (being the Middle Ages). I am reminded of a day in college when Charles Robison asked Dr. Lorna Holmes, our awesome Hellenist Classcical studies teacher, "In the Illiad, were Patroclus and Hercules... uh, you know, was Patroclus Hercules', uh... minion?"

Dr. Holmes, who is about five feet tall, just STARED at him for a good minute and then said "Charles, is there any evidence that that was the case?" It seems to me these neo-Gnostics need a good dose of Dr. Holmes right about now. And HELLO -- ever hear of a little something called tradition?! And since when does the MSNBC/Newsweek cabal care about the veracity of anything remotely textual in the Bible (aside, of course, from the extent to which they can make it out to be anti-Semetic). Chesterton was right, once you abandon the Church (or, true belief in God... pretty much the same thing) you really do start to believe everything.

Anyway.... Scandal! Blasphemy most foul! But scroll down to watch video footage of charlatan Dan Brown working the crowd on the Today Show. The truly telling thing? Of the two, it's clear that Matt Lauer is the superior intellect. Honestly, Americans can be so crap-headed sometimes -- Dan Brown not the least of them. Makes me want to move to the continent where at least people wear their erroneous intellectual faddism on their sleeves... at least until the Fad Police come and take you away to a concentration camp. But then at least you're dead and don't have to endure such lies. The one, sole reason anyone might actually want to go to Hell for all eternity would be to witness the morally funny sight of Satan chewing on Dan Brown's entrails.
Father McKenzie, not their real name, has some rather nice posts (even if they spell "favorite" all wonky). Scroll down to read the humorous mergings of contemporary films (me, I'm still waiting for Peter Jackson's whimsical Christmas comedy "Orc!").

Also, scroll down to click this link to the worst Christian site ever. Not that they're bad Christians, necessarily, just that their website burns my eyes... click on the "Do not click" button and find yourself in a Hanna-Barbara cartoon -- the poorly-animated yet nonetheless nude humanity! Quick! Somebody page James Vipond!

It is truly like that Qui-Gon Jinn said: there's always a bigger freak.

Monday, December 01, 2003

After 6pm, the 'blog gets a little blue...

BBC News: Musharraf offers Kashmir pull-out

Sounds like something that would result in one taking one's sweater to the dry cleaners!

Sorry, that was too extremely bad, even for this 'blog. Erase that from your minds.
Since I'll probably never get around to writing it, check out the introduction to VSTi articles provided by TraxMusic.org. A good introduction to VSTi, details what you need, and it has pictures!!!

Music Studio Independence seems to be a relatively inexpensive ($39) audio/MIDI sequencer/VSTi host, and worth checking out if you're interested in computer music and on a budget (this, along with an ASIO-capable soundcard and all the free VSTis out there should get you started, even if you don't have a MIDI keyboard).

Read more impressions of Music Studio Independence in the kvr-vst.com forums. I haven't used the program myself, but the price seems about right (though for $13.95 you can pick up a copy of Computer Music magazine and get Computer Muzys and a bunch of synths and samples on the included CD).

Here's a TraxMusic.org article on free VST effects. I'm going to have to check out Flaser, Green Machine, and Ambience.

While I can't comment directly on the musical merits of 14 Year Old Girls' "Zombies In, Robots Out", I definitely disagree with the premise which their album title suggests: that we are somehow living in a global culture which is largely post-Robot and where zombies have become the preferred existential metaphor. I would argue that we are, in fact, far beyond the heyday of zombie-oriented entertainment: the late 1970s of the Ford and Carter administrations, where the mindless, walking-dead aspects of zombie culture seemed entirely appropos. We are, on the other hand, very much a part of the Robot era, where objectiviation of the human other results in the treatment thereof as purely functional entities.

Don't believe me? Weigh the entertainment industry's pro-Robot output of the last five years against the pro-zombie output of same: on the zombie side you have "Resident Evil", "28 Days Lamer", and Aston Kutcher -- all three of which adopt the now-commonplace post-modern "zombie-as-retro-virus-or-birth-defect" mythology. Meanwhile, on the other side, classical Robotism reigns supreme (with an iron fist, even!) with Robot-oriented entertainments such as "AI", "The Matrix Trilogy" (in the Matrix, Programs are Robots), "The Iron Giant", "I Was a Teenage Robot", "Bicentennial Man", "Whatever Happened to Robot Jones", "I, Robot" (due out next year), the new "Star Wars" Trilogy, and some guy who did a whole CD about Robots (which is just as timely now, if not more so, as when it was first released three years ago).

Consider the evidence. Zombies in, Robots out? I think not! Robots are very much the preferred cultural metaphor for human existence and show every sign of staying that way for an infinite number of years to come.

(P.S. Monkeys and Pirates: waaaaay out).
Who says Germans don't have a sense of humor?

Sunday, November 30, 2003

New Song

Victor Lams: "Holy Queen" (.mp3 format, 128kbps, approx. 4.5MB)

Netscape and Mac users, right-click to save as. Or click here to stream. Windows Media version available at System193.net.

Put together in FLStudio, intended initially to be a workout for my new toy, the Astrobelt VSTi. But there's some FLSlayer and iBlit (a very nice free VSTi) in there as well. I'll continue to refine this piece, but I thought you'd enjoy hearing this updated take on the old hymn.
Slimey Rider -- not a Dennis Hopper movie.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

I've been enjoying listening to the .mp3 demos of the Garritan Personal Orchestra. Don't know why I get a bigger kick out listening to these sampled and sequenced reproductions than I would if I had a real orchestral performance of them... actually, I do. Check out the Joplin and the Beethoven pieces. Ooh! And try the Bach!
It's always great to meet another Jimmy Neutron fan (Hi, Chris!). Another cartoon we're getting into lately is Fairly Oddparents, which, like Spongebob, I avoided like the plague because I thought it was just another extreme-to-be-extreme postmodern cash cow. It's actually quite funny (not as funny as Jimmy Neutron in my opinion) but Cosmo has some good lines. So we watched that last night (they showed a 90-minute Fairly Oddparent movie which was cool).

For some reason, though, I want some Bratz dolls now....
Today, a dream 13 years in the making is realized: I finally own "Flood" on CD.

She's not your satellite, she doesn't miss you, so turn off your smoke machine and Marshall stack....
I'm not always proud to be Flemish. Sometimes I'm proud to be Polish, too!

Michael S. Rose: "Mission Aborted: The Failed Dutch Invasion of Poland"

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Here's a picture of 'Xander. He never stands still, so it's hard to get a clear shot of him.

Xander 1

"Leave me alone! I'll take my meds when I'm damned good and ready!" Uncle Vittorio is always good for a laugh on the holidays.

Uncle Vittorio 1

And, last but not least, check out my pictoral meditation on "Hypertension, The Colorblind Killer". Remember: every twelve minutes, one in twelve Americans is killed by hypertension and other sodium-related disorders.
This is so awesome. Can you imagine any other president in recent memory flying, secretly, into a warzone to spend the Holiday with his troops? NPR made a big deal earlier today how Bush was chowing down on turkey and yams on his ranch in Texas while MEANWHILE future-President Clinton was kibitzing with the troops in Afghanistan. Guess NPR is a bunch of idiots. And lousy reporters.

I'd love to 'blog more about this but Jimmy Neutron is on (it's on about six hours a day on NickToons) and it's my favorite cartoon ever. Also we got our Christmas present early (today) so expect a cute 'Xander picture in just a moment or two.
I fell asleep yesterday for 100 hours and couldn't update my 'blog, sorry there was no Belgian of the Day yesterday. It'll return tomorrow, I promise!



(and Hello, Dalai!. Also, this is something I never expected to see in my lifetime). Now, off to work!

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

FinancialTimes.com: Japan threatens to retaliate against US tariffs

Ooh, scared! Like, what are they going to do? It's not like we even rely on battleships that much anymore.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

It may not be "Hot Fudge", but it appears to have far fewer low-budget demented puppets -- and in this case, that's a good thing: Confessions of a Hot Carmel Sundae: Thoughts about Catholicism, parenting, marriage, life, education, and take and bake pizza.

About the pizza: nothing beats a home-made crust.

"Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns) -- A Movie about They Might Be Giants". Buy me this for Christmas, somebody, before it's too late! Now I just await the release of "Bubba Ho-Tep" on DVD and my collection will be complete.
Michael Moore, Man of the People

Nice. Nice comments on the constitution, as well. By Liberal Larry of Blame Bush 'Blog (say that 10x fast): "Because Bush is to blame for everything."
Belgian of the Day!

Pieter de Coninck

Pieter de Coninck was a weaver who led the merchants, tradesmen, and townfolk of Flanders in an uprising against their French oppressors of the late 13th century. This culminated in the battle of the Golden Spurs on July 11th, 1302.

This is a pretty good account of the battle:

Both armies counted around 10.000 soldiers. The French army consisted mainly of heavily armoured cavalry, whereas the Flemish one consisted mainly of infantery tradesman. On the 9th and the 10th of July the French tried, in vain, to take the city of Kortrijk. A man-to-man battle in the open had become unavoidable.

This account makes some errors in its telling of the golden spurs themselves: the Flemish were well aware of the practice of ransoming captured knights, but these were the French we were dealing with. Anyway, during the battle the Flemish tradesmen completely beat the pants (and spurs) off of over 500 French knights.

This account of the battle is much better (I like this part the best):

The French rearguard with the two remaining battles hangs the shield on their back and runs. The French footsoldiers try to evacuate, but a lot of them are caught by the Flemings and are killed without mercy. Some Brabançons who fought with the French try to change sides and now shout "Vlaenderen die Leeu", but Guy of Namur orders to kill all those that wear spurs. The fugitives are chased for more than 10 kilometres from the battlefield. The Flemish victory is complete!

And here's the bit about the spurs:

That next day the booty is collected. From the battlefield, apart of the expensive knightly armours, some five hundred pairs of golden spurs are found. This gives the battle its modern name. Only knights were allowed to wear gold-plated spurs, squires only wore normal or at the best silver- plated spurs. The French baggage train falls almost completely in Flemish hands.

Just seven days later pope Boniface VII is woken up in Rome from his sleep to bring him the news of the Flemish victory. For the first time in recorded history an army of footsoldiers defeated an army of knights. Thanks to this fact and because of its extraordinary origins this battle is one of the most remarkable in history.

Because this battle was won, Flanders was able to keep its independence and was reinstated as a county. The French influence was halted and this made it possible centuries later that the states of Belgium and the Netherlands were formed. The men in Courtrai fought for their "Patria Flandrensis" and thereby prevented that not only Flanders but also the entire Low Countries were saved from disgraceful defeat.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Belgian of the Day!

Blessed Valentin Paquay

Valentin Paquay was born on 17 November 1828 in Tongres, Belgium, the fifth of 11 children to Henry and Anna Neven. His parents were profoundly religious and honest, and raised their children according to these standards. Following elementary school Valentin entered the school of Tongres directed by the Canons Regular of St Augustine in order to continue his literary studies, and in 1845 he was accepted into the seminary of St-Trond where he studied rhetoric and philosophy.


Valentin was ordained a priest on 10 June 1854 in Liegi. He was then sent by his superiors to Hasselt, where he remained for the rest of his life, serving as a guardian and vicar of his Order. In 1890 and in 1899 he was also appointed provincial.

Hasselt today is the capital of Limburg, Flanders. If you were there now you'd be able to check out, among the many fine regional beers, the Alcohol in the Comics ehibit at the National Genever Museum.

I would not look out of place there. In Hasselt, I mean. Not in the "Alcohol in the Comics" exhibit.
I don't know about that Sacred Heart Seminary here in Detroit. I'm listening to WDEO on the radio just now and this thing comes on: "At Sacred Heart Seminary, lay women and men...."

I was so weirded out, I turned off the radio right there.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Can't... Stop... Laughing...!

Julia Child Speaks Her Mind
Political Leanings of Selected Cartoon Characters

All from Kim Scarborough's website. Check out his weblog.

Where else on the web are you going to find actual Mercury Theatre shows to stream and download?
This month's entries (36 songs, total!) for the kvr-vst.com members' song-crafting contest are in -- just in case you want to hear all the different ways people make music on their computers: it's not all techno and electronica. Actually, over the past few months, the entries have become increasingly guitar and vocal-oriented.

Check them out!

Saturday, November 22, 2003

New Song!

Simple Synthpop instrumental because it's Saturday and it's time for a nice song with cool synthesizer sounds. That's why!

"Mr. Do" - 128kbps .mp3 format, approx. 3MB


Technical notes: made in FLStudio with all-free VSTi: JX220, polyIblit, CM-303, CM-505, 4Front EPiano.

One way to add instant credibility to your cartoon, at least to my mind, is to get Bruce Campbell to do one of the voices for it. We were watching NickToons last night and "My Life as a Teenage Robot" came on. I'd never watched the show before, mainly because "Robot Jones" totally ruined adolescent robots for me (the show actually got more disturbing when they changed it from a synthesized voice to a human-boy voice for Robot Jones). But the show was surprisingly original. Derivative of the Powerpuff Girls, perhaps, but with better animation and more heart (though what's up with the human characters always doing the "weirded-out" expression? It gets repetitive). And then Bruce Campbell does a turn as guest-villian "Him-cules" (the animators even got his profile right and the writers took him beyond Ash, which is more than any other voiceover project for him has managed to do).

And those with ears will immediately pick out that They Might Be Giants are doing the song for PlayDoh's Doh Doh Island.

Friday, November 21, 2003


I haven't even checked out any of their software, like HyperScore, the music painting program, and I'm already jazzed (so to speak). I'm almost afraid to download it... sort of reminds me of BlissPaint, a program I had back in my Mac days (still no Windows version available... pity), only instead of having graphics interact with music, it's music which interacts with graphics.

After playing with HyperScore for a few minutes, it appears to be a sort of algorhythmthic composition tool, only you paint the algorhytms yourself and then sketch out a score which incorporates these algorhythms and plays it in real time using your soundcard's MIDI instruments. I don't think you can export the MIDI files, though, once you're done. Maybe you can. I haven't RTFM yet.
Apparently this has been going on for a while now, hardcore game fans writing and programming their own sequels to (once) popular games. TechTv.com points me to "Zak McKracken 2". The original, LucasArts, "Zak McKracken" was THE GAME when it came out on the C64. It spanned three disks and took us around the globe (and even to Mars) following Zak's efforts to stop the Alien Mindbenders (who all wore cowboy hats with eye-holes cut out because their heads were tall and martian-shaped and their eyes were near the top of their heads and then Groucho Marx glasses under the hats so people would think their eyes were positioned down where they should be). It was a fun game. Maybe, if I get sucked into a black hole with my computer someday with no chance of escape, I'll download the fanfic sequel.
"Life on the Slide", Episode 4

LOTS 11/21/2003
Barbara Nicolosi on "Life With Bonnie", a show we started watching over the summer and now never miss on Friday nights. There's something about that half-hour of television (curiously programmed at 9:30 on Friday nights) which just makes you feel better after watching it. I appreciate all the improv'ed humor (whenever Martin Mull is on, you know it's going to be downright hilarious), too. They did a "Wizard of Oz" episode for Halloween and somehow managed to be both respectful (even reverent) to the movie and yet avoided being corny. Anyway, we really like the show, even though there are no vampires in it.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

"Life on the Slide", Episode 3

LOTS 11/20/2003
Fr. Bryce may be on vacation (should I be envious or grateful that a Parish priest gets more vacation time than I -- someone who's sold his soul to worldliness -- do?) but his review of "Elf" has just been posted at CruxNews.com.

Now I REALLY want to see the movie. Wonder why Steve Greydanus hasn't reviewed it yet? Seems like it'd be right up his alley.
I just received this anonymous email... I guess I'd better keep posting those cartoons.

Ransom note

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Well, it looks like after tonight, the weekly Angel post will have to go on hiatus for a bit: there was new "Next week on an all-new Angel" after the show tonight, so it may be several weeks before we figure out what happens next.

SPOILER ALERT: I had heard that they were going to bring back Lindsay, and frankly, even before I read that today on aintitcool, I kind of hoped that they would bring him back this season (his departure in the "evil hand" episode of Season 2 was, as they say, priceless), since they seemed to be (thankfully!) revisiting long-abandoned plot points and characters. If Linsday turned out to be the big bad of the season, or at least an intermediate big bad, I could live with that.

Another nice thing about this season: so far there have been no five-minute "Previously, on Angel" intros which basically tell you what the episode is going to be about by showing all the relevant clips from the past two seasons before you even watch the episode.
"Life on the Slide"

LOTS 11/19/2003

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

"Life on the Slide" Returns!!!!

Back after a seven year hiatus.... For those of you keeping score at home, this would be the upgraded "Life on the Slide 3.0". Enjoy!

LOTS 11/18/2003

And if you think THAT's weird, you're sure to love this. Or this. I wonder if that's the actual desk they used on the show?

Monday, November 17, 2003

Exquisite Dead Guy.
There's already a wealth of lame web comix which don't make any sense so...

Comix #1

(Actually, this is just my first attempt at using Moho as a static comic composition tool. More to follow, maybe).
For what it's worth, you can now get the four-game Zelda bonus disc with a paid-scubscription to Nintendo Power ($19.95), just in case you didn't want to buy a whole 'nother GameCube (or 2 GameCube games). Click here for details.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

More Corporate Mascots We'll Never See

Next up in our line of CMWNS, which previously featured The Real Shade Slimmy is "Lou Swiffer". I can't take credit for coming up with the name, as it was Britain or one of his brothers which first though it up, and I don't think Proctor and Gamble would ever actually consider him as a spokes'toon, but here he is (and you can click on his picture for a surprise, if you have RealPlayer installed):

Lou Swiffer

"Lou Swiffer"

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Well, I've never embedded a cheesy MIDI file on my 'blog before. Until now.

UPDATE: I've relented. Autostart now = false.
Streaming radio stations of old videogame music at 'Zone Radio Network. Cool, and you may have better luck getting these to play by right-click saving-as on the play button graphics and then opening the .pls files with Real player or whatever, depending on what is your default .pls player (it gave MusicMatch conniptions).

Link found via Keoz.com - Arts Vertical Portal.

Anyway, the only reason I scored only 46.5 on the '80s Music Quiz (aside from the fact that R&B was WOEFULLY underrepresented on that quiz and that I rushed through it in just five minutes right after waking up) is that I spent the '80s not listening to the radio or watching MTV (we didn't even have a TV), but rather listening to videogame music -- mostly on the C64 and Sega. My friend and I put an additional SID chip in the C64 so we could listen to the stereo six-voice version of "Orinco Flow". The fact was, with only three or four voices to carry the music and game sound effects, the songs had to be very strong, melody-wise, and catchy in order to be memorable (and certain tunes, like the theme to the 1982 version of "Spy Vs. Spy" will be with me forever). Anyway, very cool. And it's influenced my music to this day.

Friday, November 14, 2003

I could be mistaken, but I think Steven Greydanus has just rated "Master and Commander" higher than any other movie to date (87% fresh!). Definitely put that on the must-rent list when it comes out on DVD.

And I love how he refers to Brother Bear as "a throwback to what was worst in Disney nouveau".

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Workers of Iraq, unite!!!

Operation "Iron Hammer?" What's next? Operation Hooked Cross?
I get a lot of those spam emails that say "we like your webpage, link to our site" but this is the first one that's been truly 'blogworthy:

China-Inflatable.com is pretty much what you'd expect: truly frightening inflatable Chinese rip-offs of beloved Western icons.

"Mommy! Why is Santa rampaging through our city?" "No, Santa, nooooooooooooo!"

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Another excellent episode of Angel tonight ("Lineage") written by first-time Angel-writer Drew Goddard, who contributed a few episodes to Buffy last season (seems to be largely the ones which didn't suck) and who is only six months older than I am.

Anyway, it'd been a while since we'd had a good Wesley episode and this episode certainly did his character justice (I liked the telephone call scene which was nearly word for word -- but not quite -- the same call from season two). Plus it was really cool to see Wesley's dad and have all the references to the Watchers' Council. I can't be the only person, though, who wants Wesley to go call John Woo on Knox (I never liked Knox, though). Anyway, Spike had some good moments (including the sex with robots line). Did Eve ever get out of that elevator, though? I wonder. And this is the first real cyborg ninja episode we've seen (and they did it pretty well). So tonight's episode gets an A.
Word on the street (well, Fr. Bryce says anyway), that Elf is the funniest Christmas movie ever. This is supported, too, by it's 83% fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.com (presently the only movie in the top-five to be rated fresh by the critics there... the other four movies in the top-five being -- I guess, based on their reviews -- "Crappy-O", "Brother Bomb", "Sucky Movie 3", and "The Lametrix: Revopukin's").

I 'blogged about this at the beginning of October, I believe, how I hoped it would be good based on the trailers I'd seen and the fact that Jon Favreau directed it ("Made" is one of the funniest movies of the last five years, I think). We'll have to try and sneak out to see it -- remember, we haven't seen a movie in the theaters since Episode II in June or July of 2002 (and "Unbreakable" before that).

Fr. Bryce also passes along the link to the Church Sign Generator. Since it's too early in the morning for me to come up with a good one of my own, here's one I actually saw around town here, during the whole buildup to the Iraqi conflict:

Church Sign

The funniest Church Sign I've seen lately, though, was when a bunch of local teenagers rearranged the letters in "YOU HAVE A PURPOSE IN LIFE" to read "YOU HAVE A PENIS". If I didn't commute in so early, I never would have gotten a chance to see that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

One of the more amusing Internet quizzes (at least for me), in a while:

:: how nintendo are you? ::
More proof that the Green Meanies are not so much pro-environment as they are anti-people.
I was listening to BBC World News on the way into work (it's usually one of the best programs on that early in the morning/that late at night) and they had this piece about this guy in Uganda who has a minivan and inside the minivan is a computer, some marine batteries, a printer, a paper cutter, and a binder and what they've done is downloaded all of the books that are avilable online and in the public domain and then they go around to the villages around Kampala which don't have libraries and print up books for the school children there. I imagine the van looks something like this.

Anyway, the BBC reporter went along on the ride-along for the bookmobile's maiden voyage and it was really interesting to hear them talk with the schoolchildren. One, named Alice, was 14 and wanted to read about Ugandan history -- partly in an effort to understand why her parents, like many Ugandan parents at that time, were both murdered when she was 4 -- and also to learn more about railroads, as she wants to be a railroad engineer someday. They probably interviewed other children, too, but I had to go in to work at that point and missed the rest of the program.

Anyway, just that brief spot gave me hope in something or other....
My Russian police-sketch face. Or a rough approximation, thereof. "Book 'em, Danofski!"

Link via Misadventured Sarah Hempel. Click here to get the program's interface in English.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Help! (Again)

My webhosting lease (or contract, or whatever) is up at the beginning of next month and I'm looking for some good, cheap webhosts who don't really care too much about bandwidth or filespace restrictions and are fairly reliable. I'm not unhappy with my present webhosting service (far from it!), just unsure if I'll be able to afford it this time around. If you know of any, just leave a comment below or mail me. Thanks in advance!
A lot of people think by peppering up your 'blog with lots of spicy words and phrases, you can attract additional traffic to your site. I would never go for such a cheap, underhanded trick, of course -- because I know what REALLY will bring in the googlers: Biblical Commentary! So without further ado, here is my commentary on the heroes of the Old Testament:

In the books of the Old Testament, heroes could be members of either sex. Toys were something they never had, though, as Israel was continually in a state of bondage. And domination of the land was something the Israelites strived for, particularly in the barnyard -- hoes and rakes being but two of the tools they used, even as teens. Like it? Hard was their lifestyle and if you were there you'd never know where your pen is. Lengthening patches of their misery were all the times they mispelled Jehova, "HGH".

There we go. I bet now the hits just come rolling in and I didn't even have to sell out my principles in order to do it!
Sarah Hempel, probably one of the best sculptors I know (and one of the nicest persons I know, and one of the most closeted Libertarians I know... ;) has a 'blog: check it out!.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

It's the Hillsdale College 'Blogging Community webpage!

I had no idea this existed.

I did something stupid, awesome PC tech that I am, and lost about four months of email. So if you emailed me something in the last four months and it was really important you might want to email it to me again. I hate myself and I hate Windows XP Home, too.
Yahoo! News Photos: World Beard and Moustache Championships


Yahoo! News: Swiss bra supports smokers who quit

While I'm no expert on the subject, but I'd have to say those are some of the ugliest-looking bras I've ever seen.

We're thinking (me and the band) about doing some traditional Catholic hyms or traditional songs for an upcoming EP/Demo CD. Given my musical inclinations, do any of you wonderful readers have any suggestions as to which ones we should do? Preferably, these should only be songs which are in the public domain and not under copyright (so no Marty Haugen ditties, alas!) as those, realistically, are the only song I could do at this point. Let me know if there are any you'd like to hear me do!

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Atari Closes Former MicroProse Studio

Obviously, it hadn't really ever been MicroProse since Sid Meier left for Firaxis, and I don't recall seeing Atari/UbiSoft ever releasing a title under the MicroProse name, but this is still a sad day for all of those of us who came of age playing "Silent Service", "Pirates!", and (my favorite) "Airborne Ranger" on the Commodore 64. Relive those MicroProse memories here