Wednesday, April 30, 2003

I gotta shut down my PC because it's storming here, but when I come back I'm going to share with you an exciting idea I've been having over the past few days, and I think many of you will be interested in hearing about it.
Experiencing Truth decay? Brush up with The Apologist, perhaps the world's pre-eminent Catholic rap artist. This hip-hop is actually very good, much better than what you'll find listening to conventional outlets. I think there's a great opportunity to the Church here, in terms of outreach, in rap music particularly if it's as high-quality as The Apologist's.

Yo, yo, yo! Phizzat is the shiznit! Representin' Levar Burton and J.R.R. Tolkien in the hizzouse! Voot! Mad Apologetics and Wallpapers, y'all! Don't be a praya-hata, be 'bout the phatmizzazzzz. Boyeeee.

Okay, all seriousness aside, the wallpapers and articles here (what I've skimmed of them) are pretty good and if you're like me you'll be amazed that a site of this quality and bent for young Catholics exists. Check out the music links, too. I'm only beginning to discover how deep the rabbit hole really goes.
Semi-Weekly Buffy Post

Justin has a nice post about last night's "BuffyLatin" inscription on Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. For those of you just joining us, every time the writers on that show need a magical incantation or an ancient inscription they break out the BuffyLatin, which is usually at least recognizable as you hear the actors reading it. Last night's inscription had some of its BuffyLatin written in Greek characters, which threw me a bit at first, but Justin has the downlow on the whole thing. I did think, and Justin notes this as well, that having Spike translate the inscription was a nice nod back to his erudite William "The Bloody (Awful 19th c. Poet)" days. I also enjoyed the onion blossom chat that he and Andrew had on the motorcycle (which was another nice nod back to an offhand comment pre-ensouled Spike made a few seasons back about how much he enjoyed onion blossoms). And there was also a nice Xander and Willow moment in the hospital (but judging from the previews for next week's episode -- which if it is at all representative of the episode would seem to indicate that we're in store for a 47-minute-long end-of-the-world orgy -- they don't hook up, which is A CRYIN' SHAME.... Seriously, maybe I just don't understand lesbianism as a whole, but I can't help thinking Willow could do a lot better than the womyn the show's writers keep pairing her off with).

Still, it was sad to see all of Buffy's friends turn against her at the end (not that I can blame them: I think the show's writers were really trying to come up with a patently Bad Idea for her to have so that everyone could turn against her because Old Buffy would have at least waited until Spike got back). Not as sad, in the classically tragic sense or even in the "play Sarah McLaughlin real loud and cry because I can't believe that we have to wait three months to find out if Buffy ever comes back to Sunnydale" sense, as the Season 2 finale (which they showed this week on FX as part of their syndicated Buffy reruns). I had forgotten just how much that whole "sending good Angel to Hell" deal had affected myself and the other fans. And I had never noticed (or had forgotten, until I watched it this week) that the little "Grr. Argh" monster on the Mutant Enemy production logo says "I need a hug" after that episode.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Things have been pretty quiet today. I'm working on a "new" song (I've scrapped the other two pieces I was working on to make way for this one). It's a bit of a departure for me into territory which encompasses the sort of music I think people will actually want to listen to. I don't want to give it all away (though I probably will with this big hint) but let's just say that fans of impressionistic piano music will find their appetites more than "satie-d" by this one.

No -- shh!!! Don't guess or prod for clues, I've said too much as it is.
One of these days I am going to become sufficiently annoyed with being forced to sing two Marty Haugen "hymns" plus a Marty Haugen psalm at every Mass that I will begin to write my own "praise" songs and have them published by GIA (check out their rogue's gallery) or OCP (Robocop fans, that's not what you think) or anyone else who'd have them. I figure the best way to go about this is to start with a number of satirical, parodic hymns ("Let Us Be Links In The Great Chain of Life", "We Are White And Ashamed", "I Am The Resurrection Muffin", "Adoremos el gran árbol", etc.) and, since they would be so outlandishly heretical, GIA and OCP would have no choice but to snap them up like hotcakes. Then, my credibility having been thus established, I could slowly introduce real music and maybe in 20 or 30 years or so folks would actually be singing my real hymns in Church on a fairly regular basis.

But this, of course, would require patience -- so right from the start I'm against it. And since I've just now published my little scheme, there's probably little chance of it ever succeeding.

Monday, April 28, 2003

One of my other $5 finds at the remaindered Borders book outlet store last week was a copy of the The Bourne Identity soundtrack, composed by John Powell. As Jackie and I were watching the move itself, a few months back, it struck me that the soundtrack I was listening to was almost as engaging as the movie itself (well, that's not entirely true -- the movie itself had 100% more Franka than the soundtrack did). I made a mental note of this because it's not often that a soundtrack reaches out and grabs me like that; though when one does, it's often because the soundtrack can stand on its own, apart from the movie, as a cohesive musical work -- which is certainly the case with this soundtrack.

So while John Williams is busy plagarizing whichever early 20th-century composer he fancies this week for whichever major blockbuster he's been hired to score ("Hmm. Shall I do Holst again? No, I did him all through the '70s and '80s. Orff? Nope: ripped him off in Episode I. Hmmmm.") Powell has put together an amazing blend of highly processed drum and bass grooves, sound textures, and symphonic strings for The Bourne Identity. That said, FilmTracks hated it, even going so far as to say that "There are passages that sound as though [Powell's] recorded the banging of metal garbage cans and the scraping of metal rulers on a blackboard and integrated them as rhythmic highlights in his music" (darn kids with their loud rock 'n' roll music!!!! -- wake up, FilmTracks, that's the Eurotrash sound which is very much a part of the arena of this picture and the world which its characters inhabit). Seriously, listen to "The Treadstone Assassins" off of that disc and you'll see what I mean: it fits the picture, it's energetic, it rocks, and it's no wonder a lot of folks in the more "traditional" film-scoring world are put-off by it. That said, I loved it. But some of my enthusiasm may be due to the fact that it recalled a bit of Tom Twyker's Run, Lola, Run soundtrack and any time music can invoke the mental image of Franka Potente, that's not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. Fair warning: the The Bourne Identity soundtrack contains neither the Paul Oakenfield Mini-chase-through-Paris music nor the Moby end-credits music, which was a bit of a disappointment.

Er, yeah. So check it out if you can find it someplace for cheap. Or, better yet, just rent the movie -- it's a good one. And if you're looking for a Franka Potente page in English check this one out. It's annoying, though. Speaking of Clive Owen, how cool would it be, as an actor, to always play roles which had the word "The" in front of them? In Bourne he plays "The Professor" and in all of those BMW Films he plays "The Driver". It looks as though he's also in line to play King Arthur ("The" King Arthur). Anyway, he's really cool in this movie, too. The Point Where Christian Musicians Come Together

Ah, yes. But at what point do they stop playing and go away?

Seriously, this site would appear to be a pretty useful one for songwriters and singers of any musical genre who are interesting in discussing topics regarding, well, singing, sonwriting, and music publication with others. You can skim through the forums without registering but if you want to read the articles (or post them, I would assume) you need to register (it's free and you get to pick out a cool little icon as your avatar. I wonder if anyone is going to pick the old school PC-gaming "Lemmings" character?). If you write or play music, you may find this site worth your time.
Britain has a score of great links today. Since I've been outside enjoying the sun for most of the day, I'll just cop them and put them here. But you should read Britain's commentary on them, too.

Buro Destruct Designer is a tool designed to generate random (and you can make your own, too) nifty designs like those you saw in print ads from the 1960s and 1970s. Click on the Flash version ("BDD Shockwave") and after that loads just keep hitting space until you see something you like (make sure you click on the design to change colors, use the letters to change the mode, and the arrows to change the size). Or hold down space until you find yourself twitching on the floor with foam coming out of your mouth. You also have a great amount of control over the designs but you might not find that all that useful.

Chesky's illustrations really are charming. They look like they'd be most at home in a book called "All About Me" or something.

And last but not least is the Dot-com Founder web app which generates a name for your very own dot-com and then plagarizes a logo for it. Fun! My favorite so far is "Info" and the logo has that little Amazon smile underneath it (though "Frog Systems" with it's Netscape "F" is pretty cute, too). Someone should alert their attention to their typo of "integration" (unless "intergartion" is some new business term I'm not familiar with).
Thanks to you, dear reader, and your faithful clicking of the banner ad up-top there, we have already "earned" a VSTi instrument. I chose the daHornet and have been enjoying it immensely (the guy who programs these instruments and runs the site is a really nice guy, so whomever it was who doubted that anything would come of this banner ad -- cough, cough, Nihil/Truthteller, cough -- has been proven wrong, I'm pleased to say). You'll hear this particular instrument featured as the bassline to my new song, to be released later on this week. Not only that, but I'm well on my way (just over 6% on my way, in fact!) towards "earning" another "free" instrument. So from my heart to yours (separated by a lot of ribs and lungs and other viscera), I offer my thanks.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

I.N.C.H. "Institute for Naming Children Humanely"

I really wanted to enjoy this site. I guess it's supposed to be some sort of funny joke but it's really too ethnocentric, even for my tastes. The authors of the site honestly seem to believe that in a perfect world, folks would only have certain anglo-centric names such as "Bob" or "Jane" and no one would have any of the "short but still preposterous" names like "Zoe" which appears on the "Scrabble-Draw" page. Obviously, the authors of the site are not familiar with that name's Greek origins. Perhaps the authors of the site aren't even aware that over on the other side of the world some folks may speak a different language from themselves and folks who respect their heritage as a part of those diverse cultures, or (gasp!) may not even be a part of those cultures but still somehow be aware of and respect them may choose a name different from the one with which the unimaginative, ignorant, illiterate, inbred parents of the site's authors chose to send them out into the world -- the big, scary world filled with people who have different names from them.

Honestly. "Zoe" is the Greek word for "life". Life: as in the names "Eve", "Vito", and "Vivienne". Look it up. Just don't tell the I.N.C.H.'s authors that that child-naming nut-job Stevie Wonder named his daughter "Aisha" which means -- anyone? -- "life". And, back to "Zoe" now, there are at least two Roman martyrs named Zoe who are Saints. Their lives, like their name, were short -- but certainly not preposterous. So maybe the I.N.C.H.'s authors should work a little harder on broadening their appreciation for other cultures and the next time they want to look at something that's "short but still preposterous" they should just take a good, hard, naked look in the mirror.
John Paul II
You are Pope John Paul II. You are a force to be
reckoned with.

Which Twentieth Century Pope Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Awwwww, yeah! And I wasn't even trying to "cook" this particular quiz.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

If you think my Photoshopped propaganda poster designs are out-there...

...check out some of these peace designs, provided thoughtfully by Mayize. Some of them I thought were quite clever. Some of them are not so clever (but really well-designed). Some of them are niether clever nor well designed. And some of them haven't even bothered to take the Al-Jazeera logo off the pictures they used.

I'm as pro-peace as the next guy, but it seems a little telling to me that so many of these so-called "pro-peace" posters are mostly just anti-Bush (or, in some cases, vehemently anti-Bush to some really ridiculous extremes) . Where were these poster-making people when Clinton was commander-in-chiefing military strikes on Bosnia or Somalia? Where were the "pro-peace"/anti-Clinton posters then? Aside from a few College Republican clubs in the midwest, I don't think anyone was making them -- certainly not the self-appointed artistic elites. It'd seem a lot more disingenuous, to me at least, if the pro-peace sentiments of certain anti-war protesters didn't coincide so conveniently with their distaste for a Republican in the White House.

That's why I'm glad we have Joe Sobran, who speaks his mind with intellectual honesty and clarity, regardless of who's in charge, even if it means we'll never see him on the Fox News channel -- even if it means relating stories like this, of which most other "conservatives" would surely choose to deny either the relevance or overall importance. At some point, though, there has to be accountability (isn't that what conservatives believe? Liberty requires responsibility for one's actions?) for this sort of thing, though one doubts anyone will ever have to answer for it (in this life, anyway). One wonders how many so-called conservatives actually would have the gall to look Ali in the eye and tell him his sacrifice was "necessary", that his life and the life of his family is/was negligible in the optional war to "remove" a regime which, we are told, did this sort of thing to "its own people" (though it seemingly had not yet gotten around to murdering Ali's family). I hope that if anyone does take it upon themselves to tell something like that to that little boy that he does not believe for an instant that bullshit. From a solely practical standpoint, though, the US (idadvertantly, to be sure) at least did the smart thing in making sure that Ali doesn't become a terrorist in the future and seek revenge against the US for killing his family (both parents, six siblings): we (you and me and everybody: we bought that rocket and hired the guy who shot it) blew off his arms and (as Sobran has noted elsewhere), it's awful hard to make bombs when you ain't got no arms. Of course it doesn't sound like he'll even live that long.

Ugh. The absolute last thing I needed was to be spending any more time in purgatory. "Risk: A Practical Guide for Deciding What's Really Safe and What's Really Dangerous in the World Around You"

Has anyone read this book? The author was on Fox News talking about the actual risk of SARS and I found what he had to say pretty sensible. I'm 'blogging it here so I can look it up and find it when I forget about it five minutes from now.
CatholicExchange: Mmmmm.....The Catholic History of Coffee

Pope Clement VIII is my new hero. Now, must go get coffee.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit.

Yesterday I blogged on a book I picked up at the Borders remaindered book store for one dollar: "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" published in Latin (with English translation). I checked out the publisher's website: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc.

Now, I'm a classics major and took about four years of Latin, and I'm also interested in Latin-Rite Churches so how this publisher has escaped my notice until now is beyond me. I blame a vast conspiracy of some sort. That said, once I'm employed again I reckon I'll be picking up a copy of "Medieval Mosaic: A Book of Medieval Latin Readings" as sort of a foray back into Latin (and as an introduction into Medieval Latin, with which I've had very little experience -- every Christmas my classically-trained tongue still sings "WAY-nite Adoremus, WAY-nite Adoremus").

Actually, looking at their site, I recognize "38 Latin Stories" from our Latin I class. That was a fun book. Full of Roman soldiers getting their arms burned off and stuff like that. Anyway, they seem to be a really cool publishing house. In addition to books in Latin, there are books in Greek, Slovak, and the publishers seem to have a certain affinity for World War II and mythology. They also have a selection of Latin buttons (images not available, unfortunately)... I'm not sure who would wear "Ego sum rex Romanus et supra grammaticam / I am a Roman king and above grammer" on a button or "Urbes constituit aetas, hora dissolvit / A period of time builds up cities, a single hour destroys them" (wear that second one in NYC and you're likely to get arrested) but there you go. My favorite Latin saying (of the moment, and no, it's not "Semper ubi sub ubi" thank you very much) is not featured, unfortunately.

I guess it's very, very sad that these buttons aren't considered by kids to be a lot cooler than they probably are considered to be. Maybe if they had a button with the phrase "Amat victoria curam!" coming out of Pikachu's mouth, or "Modus omnibus in rebus" over a picture of Oxnard the Ham-Ham gorging himself on sunflower seeds, more kids would think Latin was cool.

You know... I think I just hit on the next big thing. And you read it here first. And, you know, I bet there's not too many 'blogs out there which can bring together Hamtaro and Latin in the same post.
If you're looking at me between the hours of noon and 10pm on either this Saturday or this Sunday you will probably find me watching the first ever Portal marathon on G4 (TV for gamers). Over those two days they're going to show every episode of Portal ever made (which isn't a whole lot considering the network itself has only been on the air for a year) and then a new episode Sunday night at 10:00.

Okay, so I probably won't really be watching the marathon as I've seen most of the episodes of Portal already. To be perfectly honest, I didn't even get the show when I first started watching it. I thought that the show's creater/writer/host/etc., Dave, was either the worst actor I'd ever seen or the best actor I've ever seen (there's such a fine line; but it turns out he's really the worst actor I've ever seen). But once I got wrapped up in the characters and stories (which are often the funniest thing on television, I'm afraid to say: Dave Meinstein's writing for the show is very tight and funny and the voice-over work is also very good) I've made it a point to try and tune in to watch the first television show made with virtual "actors" from online multiplayer games.
Mindless Trivia Friday

Here is this week's question: According to popular legend, how many men died "trying to end the spree of the bloody Red Baron of Germany"?

Extra-Credit Follow-Up Question: What did at least one pilot exclaim upon the occasion of his being shot down by said Red Baron? (Hint: this same pilot would later take to the skies again and defeat his mortal foe).

First correct response to either or both questions wins. Since ads for "The Matrix: Retreaded" have been running non-stop (I must admit that the vanilla-dreadlocked Milli Vanilli look-alikes look pretty cool) this weeks prize is "there is no prize".

Thursday, April 24, 2003

So I'm out walking today and I look down and see a local Detroit newspaper on someone's sidewalk and this headline catches my eye:

Lions Add Black To New Duds

And I think, gosh! I mean, everyone knows that even the current Lions players may not be the best and brightest in the league and there's probably no reason to believe that any new players they bring in would be much different -- even if they did somehow manage to get Avion Black away from Houston -- but to call them all "duds?" That's a little harsh.

And then I realize that they're talking about the new team uniforms. But I guess being from a suburb of Detroit, you tend to read the worst into a headline like that.
I have some mixed feelings about this: Arkadia Records Edu-Songs.

Edu.Song is an exciting series which brings great books to life through music. Edu.Song distills the plot, characters and themes of a classic work of literature into a short musical format that is both entertaining and enriching, with the aim of helping us see the timeless beauty and eternal relevance present in great books.

Except one of the great books is Native Son by Richard Wright. I read this book in ninth grade and I wasn't even sure at the time if it was something that was appropriate for my tender, mush-filled brain. And I doubt having to listen to a song about it would've made me felt any better. I'd be willing to guess its inclusion in the Edu.Song series is intended to curry PC points with the NEA, but that's just my more cynical nature talking there.

Each carefully prepared Edu.Song release includes a cassette recording of a stylized, catchy song and a creatively thought-provoking study guide. Musical styles range from reggae/Caribbean-mood to country music to the blues to urban contemporary sounds.

Hmmm... Urban Contemporary and Country. I hope they didn't get Kenny G or Toby Keith to play on the Native Son Edu.Song tape. That would just be wrong.
"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -- Benjamin Franklin

Whenever I'm feeling unspired as of late I've found one of the best places to go is the Borders Books Outlet Store in Canton, where they sell all the remaindered books. Among the finds I found there on the dollar table was a novel which I'm sure is going to disturb me called "Automated Alice" as well as a beautifully illustrated storybook which is the "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" letter and reply in the New York Sun, only retold in Latin ("Vere, Virginia, Sanctus Nicolaus est!" -- Yes, Virginia, someone actually published the letter and reply in Latin. And it wound up on the dollar table at a remaindered book store. Go figure).

But the real exciting find was a CD I'd been meaning to pick up for about three years now but have never gotten around to it: Joanne Brackeen's "Pink Elephant Magic", a gorgeous jazz record on Arkadia Records. It's recordings like this which make we wonder why I ever listen to anything that's not jazz. Joanne is a wonderfully inventive jazz pianist (she actually gave a free jazz clinic in Ann Arbor about a dozen years ago and when someone asked her how to play jazz she said that music was a like a huge tree and you just have to tap into that... I think some of the younger cats, myself included, were a little underwhelmed with that answer at the time but I've come to appreciate that there is an underlying substrata to all music that you're either in touch with or not, only I wouldn't call it a tree) but the real reason I wanted this album (and did now pick it up since it was under $5) is because Kurt Elling is a guest artist on one track. This record was done in 1999 which was a couple of years after Kurt's second album, "The Messenger" (and EVERYONE do yourself a favor and buy this record from Amazon today -- I gaurantee it'll be the best $12 you'll spend this week. Seriously. "The Messenger" is one of the best records, of any genre, in the past 20-25 years) and Kurt was doing guest shots on a lot of different records by virtue of his distinctive and fresh jazz vocal stylings.

Actually, even if you've never heard of Kurt Elling, you've probably heard him. I recall being in DC a few years back and hearing him sing "The Best is Yet to Come" for some energy company's commercial out there. More recently Kurt is the jazz vocalist you hear in those commercials for Intel's new Centrino product -- you know, the one that lets you compute in all sorts of wacky and impractical places (like a diving board, in the middle of a track meet, running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, etc.). If your TV is broke, you can watch the ad here.

Anyway, not only has Kurt Elling has been an important figure in my life (I met Jackie one day after a Kurt Elling show in Ypsi, I proposed to her after a Kurt Elling show in Ann Arbor, we missed his show the next year because we were on our honeymoon -- but my sister got him to write out a little nuptual blessing, which is framed and hangs on our wall -- and for our first-year anniversary, guess where we went?) but I would hazard to say that he is probably the most inventive, proficient, and fun jazz vocalist (or indeed vocalist in any genre) you'll ever hear. So buy the record already! And while you're waiting for it to arrive, dig Kurt's FAQ list -- lots of good stuff there.
I really want to write some music now but I'm not really feeling it. I've already been for a walk so I think it's time for a drive.

Or maybe it's time to clean out the gutters on the roof.

No: if I drive the Neon then I can attempt to troubleshoot the intermittent fuel-starvation problem and that's pretty close to housework.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Weekly Angel and Buffy Post
(or Why You Should've Been Watching These Shows Before They Got Cancelled)

Really awesome episode of Angel tonight, full of quippy one-liners (Lorne/The Host was in rare form), over-the-top fighting sequences, spine-tingling dramatic developments, and a cliffhanger ending. This season of Angel, season four, seems to be mimicing season two the most in terms of the way it started out slowly for a dozen episodes then got really confusing and now, in the last few episodes, is getting really, really cool. I loved the "Spider Monster" (as he's called until we figure out what his race really is all about) and his gruesome "sacrifice" to the all-brainwashing goddess Jasmine (to hear her voice, as the entire State of California has done as of this episode, is to fall instantly in all-consuming "love" with her and become her walking meat puppet, essentially -- even to the point where her followers happily offer themselves up to be eaten by her in the name of said love). I also liked the little news bit on the radio about the Archdiocese of Los Angeles getting rid of all their "false idols" and worshipping only "she who walks among us" ("Way to go, Catholic Church!" says the peppy, brainwashed news reporter). As satire it was closer to the truth than the writers of the show probably know (though I could swear that the new-age goddess/big, bad, evil monster Jasmine was thought up by someone who's been reading their papal encyclicals). The closing shot of Jasmine laughing maniacally as she suffers the wounds (which instantly heal) of her interlinked, brainwashed followers from the battle royale they are waging with our heroes, unseen, several miles away was very nicely done as well. This particular image (and larger theme) of the followers lovingly dying (even offering up their bodies as food) for the sins of the goddess could be taken to be an exact inverse of the Christological figure one sometimes sees in science fiction. As an image it was used quite effectively to convey the sense of topsy-turvey moral disorder our heroes must now right, somehow (and it'll probably involve a great deal of self-sacrifice, as per usual). Anyway, that's part of why I think Jasmine works so well as this season's Big Bad; whereas this season's Buffy counterpart, "The First", leaves me pretty cold (it's so evil you can't really say anything about it and it has no physical manifestation. Whoopee).

Anyway, I hope they bring the show back for another season, I really do. We couldn't stand to lose Buffy and Angel both in the same year and of the two, Angel is definitely the show with the better cast, better fights, better monsters, and more developed stories.
Slate: Ford's Humiliation -- Is "Retrofuturism" a thing of the past?

A spot-on and, I thought anyway, sad article about the new Ford T-Bird (cancelled like Buffy) and the undoing of the retrofuturism craze in general (the cynical Slate author even goes so far as to call the "new" Beetle "retro-comical" -- though I will admit that it was funny that folks would adoringly pay good money for something which was, in essence, a Volkswagon Golf). I happen to think the styling of the new T-Bird and the Forty-Nine concept car were quite nice (actually the Forty-Nine is PHAT!), but if you're going to make a car styled like that, you should do what Chrysler did with the PT Cruiser and market it to entry-level car buyers, in the mid-$10ks, not in the low $40ks. Because, let's face it, anyone who can spend $40k on a car is going to want it to look like all the other cars people spend $40k on, not something radically different (or PHIZZAT!). The folks who want a radically different and cool car are the folks who can only afford to spend $16-grand on a new car (or $6k on that new car a few years later when it's used).
Well, I've determined that I'm not going to shave in the shower anymore. It may save time but it's just too risky.

Waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for the phone to ring,
Waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for the phone to ring,
Waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for the phone to ring,
Waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for the phone to ring,
Waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for the phone to ring,
Waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for the phone to ring,
Waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for the phone to ring,
Waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for the phone to ring,
Think I'll go to the park.
CONGRATULATIONS Mark and Christy (proud new parents!).

Now, Mark... I know you're not going to have a lot of free time... but about that weblog...

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Yay! Once again I am a Timshel Arts' "Song You Should Know!". And this week Justin has selected a song off of Robot Love which is one of my personal favorites: "Life Is Salty".

Not much to say, in terms of behind the scenes info, on this one. Ha. Actually this is probably the song most rife with subtext I've ever written. It was composed/performed/recorded (whatever it is that I do to music) early on in the "Robot Love" sessions. The main lyric was started about two-and-a-half years before the song was recorded after a 24-hour period in Salsburg, Austria, which begain with me drinking five litres of double-bock beer at the St. Augustine monastery there. Actually only three litres were drunk at the monastery. The rest were drunk back at the hostel where I, along with my three new friends from America who'd joined me on the Sound of Music Tour, were trying to convince the Australians who worked there that America was not, at heart, an imperialist nation. Ah, sweet days of my innocence. Anyway, the next morning some Australian girl woke me up because I was snoring too loudly (it was in one of those 12-bed big hostel rooms -- and how I'd gotten there from the stairs I still to this day have no idea) and -- I'm digressing. Perhaps for prudence's sake I should jump ahead a few hours. Right before I got on the train to Florence, Italy, which may or may not have been the right thing to do -- I never did sort that one out -- I had dinner which was, since this was Austria, a bavarian pretzel and a bavarian pastry. Like this dinner and the period of time which preceded it, life is salty and life is sweet, I thought. I think I scribbled some more words into my notebook while riding the train, I can't remember (much of anything, natch). Anyway, most of the rest of the main lyric was done in April, 2000, (under circumstances which found me far more imbued with sobriety) when I recorded the song.

As for the spoken bit in the middle, that is an actual transcription which Britain wrote down after the words spilled from Denis Hainsworth's mouth. Denis was a coworker of both Britain and myself when we worked at WorldCom before WorldCom (oops, sorry, Kiefer Sutherland says it's MCI now, doesn't he? Kind of ironic that the voice of the killer in the movie Phone Booth is working for the phone company now, isn't it? "Voice and Data will live harmoniously together. Or I will shoot you.") laid us off. Denis is still working there, of course, because he's a filthy whore (It's okay that I call him that, really: I guess you'd have to know Denis, our building's resident insanely brilliant angry person, to appreciate that kind of language, but he's called me and my infant son -- and everyone else and their small children, for that matter --- far worse. That said, he's one of the nicest guys I know and plus, since he's one of my few good friends, he was actually a groomsman in our wedding!). Anyway, that part about being a card and always losing is the sort of thing that would come out of Denis' mouth for most of a 10-hour shift. And Britain transcribed most of it and kept it in a file on his computer.

As for the music itself, I've always wanted to go back and put in the sound of a jazz cafe crowd talking underneath the vibraphone outtro on the tune. Never did get around to it, though.

Er, I guess this post was a little too enlightening. And I'm not sure any of it even counts as subtext. It's all part of the creative process, anyway. Hope I still have any readers left tomorrow. Maybe I'll go back later and edit this post. Or maybe I'll leave it all in and call it a sweeps-week post. Maybe I'll even go back and spice it up a bit more! Yeah, now I am talking.... I haven't even mentioned the Russian trio on their "business trip".
New Song

Something different this time out. By now you're probably all saying "You know, Victor, you write a long of songs that would be really appropriate for me to play as I drive my car over a cliff" or "You write a lot of music that sounds like my car going over a cliff". And then you say "Why don't you ever write something we can all chill-out to? You know, for those times when we want to pop the blue pill and take our mystical hovercraft into high Earth orbit and visit the jovial dancing shaman on the moon?"

Well, I'm not sure I know what you're talking about, but I have written a new tune which should take care of those among you who have found yourself saying any of the above three statements at one time or another.

Visit my ACIDPlanet page to listen to "The Ionospheric Express". You can stream it in Windoze Media or Real Player format or download it mp3 if you register (if you register for free, you can also review it. Whee!). If there's some demand, I'll post it here on the site for easier download. I hope you all enjoy it!
I just finished another new song. Once I give it a listen on a couple of different audio systems and tweak it from there I'll be posting it here, in just a little while. I also need a title for it.

Update: Found a title and actually the rough mix I did last night doesn't sound that bad (certainly it's as good as I could ever get it) so I'll be posting the song in mere minutes.

Monday, April 21, 2003

What I don't find humorous and remarkable is that Lowe's Home Improvement printed up millions of those bumper stickers with the American flag and the words "POWER OF PRIDE" in big blue letters. What I do find humorous and remarkable is that some folks around here have actually put them on their cars. Me? I'm waiting for someone to print up a mess of "POWER OF SLOTH" bumper stickers. I'll be all over those.
ABCNews: Two Men Arrested Near Bridge Linking Detroit, Canada; Police Say They Had Dynamite

Let's see... they had shotgun shells, a stick, and two M-80 firecrackers in their car.

Sounds to me like they were going fishing.
Britain points me to the Christian Console Game Reviews website ("Christian" modifies "reviews" as there aren't any consoles out there, which I know of, which are specific to any one religion). For the most part the reviews are pretty fair to the games, but they did knock Super Smash Brothers Melee down a point or two simply because it contains Pokemon (I guess they overlooked the fact that one of the characters, a Japanese schoolboy named Ness has psychic abilities and can whallop the other characters, including Princess Peach, with a baseball bat -- it's all good clean cartoon fun, though!).

Sunday, April 20, 2003

An inadverntant typo (scroll down to April 19th's posts, and yes, I know, I'm treading into Nihil Obstat territory here) at De Fidei Oboedientia 'blog (loosely translated from the Latin: "The faithful double-reeded wind instrument resists denting and scratching") leads me to believe that if we can pave Pawlak, can't we also Pave France? (Now with a spiffy new website! But I'm beginning to wonder, do the French really deserve all this bashing?).
RC sent me this great story about Marhsmallow Peeps (not to be confused with Samuel Pepys).

I enjoyed the story but disagree with this line:

Not everyone loves Peeps. There are plenty of people who don't like them or have outgrown the taste.
If you want more music, I just heard a piece on the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble's "Ancient Echoes: Music from the time of Jesus and Jerusalem's Second Temple", which is about as faith-filled a product as you're going to hear featured on NPR. The NPR lady doing the story actually referred to Aramaic as "the language Jesus is believed to have spoke". Is Latin the language Caesar is believed to have spoken? Is French the language Napoleon is believed to have spoken? Good grief.
The Lord is risen! Alleluia, Alleluia! Happy Easter everybunny!

Saturday, April 19, 2003

So we just got finished watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and I must say I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I was mostly familiar with the plot, having played through the videogame version several months ago, and I wasn't sure the movie was going to be anything more than a bunch of cool special effects. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was a bunch of cool special effects held together with deus ex machina after deus ex machina (and, in at least one or two cases, deus ex Anglia). In this movie we also learn that Harry Potter is a "parcelmouth" which I guess means that he can sing like Louis Armstrong.

All in all, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a fine movie to rent. Just make sure you have 161 minutes free to watch it (before noon on Sunday)... and that's not counting the 19 deleted or expanded scenes you can find on the second DVD which we are probably not going to watch. Maybe someday we'll read the books but without the gruesome special effects I'm sure "I am Lord Valdemort"'s demise (after demise, after demise -- and hey! if you like anagrams, did you know that "Victor Lams likes pudding" can become "A divorced slut king limps" if you rearrange the letters? Spooky!) proably isn't quite as thrilling.

Spoiler warning!

Oh, and for what it's worth: snakes, and I'm pretty sure this includes basilisks, er that is to say I mean basilisks (although the non-Harry Potter basilisks seem to be a lot more peckish), do not have a highly-developed sense of hearing but can, on the other hand, smell your every thought. So peck out their eyes all you want, Guy Fawkes, but Harry would still have been snake chow. The "Occultopedia" (there aren't a whole lot of sites with good basilisk info, I'm afraid, that pop right up when you do a Google search) does mention that in addition to a mirror you can also face-off against a basilisk by using a weasel (they can survive the basilisk's glare, apparently) but somehow I think (rightly) that Rowlings Inc. thought that "Harry Potter and the Weasel in Ron's Trousers" would not be a title that would sell a great many books.
The Mercury News: Private manned spacecraft unveiled by California company

And it's got Burt Rutan's name on it. Very cool. Of course I'm not sure if flying to an altitude of 62.5 miles really makes it a "space"-craft (as opposed to an upper atmosphere orbiter), but since that's as good as NASA's shuttle can do with billions of our dollars, it's very exciting to see private enterprise give it a go. Maybe someday we'll actually take a manned flight all the way to the moon.

I wonder who the anonymous backer is....

Friday, April 18, 2003

If you're a fan of HomestarRunner then you'll surely appreciate the Trogdor Game (thanks, Zorak!). The game itself is actually pretty fun (for a Flash game) and reminds me a bit of those great Atari games for the Atari 2600 (the first-party Atari games, especially those by Howard Scott Warshaw, were always a lot more complex than those made by the third-party developers like Activision -- which is why many of them were confusing and bad). Anyway, I would've liked to have seen some StrongBad voice samples in the game istead of the cheesy sampled Casio keyboard they have. Maybe we'll see that in Trogdor II. Click here if you have no idea what any of this is about.
Not too much going on around here... playing The Sims which probably is either responsible for or a outward manifestation of my general lack of interest in much. Oh! But I did go to our Maundy/Holy Thursday/Mandatum Mass/service tonight. It was, I think, the first one I've ever been to and the Church was fair-well packed. Afterwards there was Adoration for a while and that was packed, too. And, of course, I forgot that there'd be foot-washing involved and so I did absolutely nothing to make myself more pedally presentable. Which, I know, is not the point.

So almost everything was very good about the service, and I'm not knocking it in the least. But since this is my 'blog I would be remiss in my duties if I didn't take issue with the "new" version of "Amazing Grace" our music director is forcing down our throats. As if the old "Amazing Grace" wasn't bad enough, now we have a new arrangement (complete with the alternate phrasing "that saved and set me free" instead of the perfecling fine "wretch"ed lyric) which sounds like it would be most at home in the musical Cats, because it sounds just like "Memories" or whatever that song Grizilla or whomever sings. Anyway, whenever I hear it, and this is more a reflex than anything else, I want to jump out and sing my version of "Amazing Grace" (which you'll recall is to the tune of the "Gilligan's Island" theme). Why should the melodically brain-dead, Sondheim-bastardizing musical liturgists have all the fun? (And how long will it be before the tunes from Sweeney Todd are recast in a liturgical setting? Not long, I'm guessing, given the way things are going. And speaking of the "Demon Barber of Fleet Street", does PBS really need to promote their production of Sondheim's musical about cannibalism with a collection of recipes? At least "Toad-in-the-Hole" isn't made with real toad -- though it's hard to see how it could be any less appetizing if it actually were).

It brings to mind the story of the "Teen Mass" a few years back (okay, maybe it was more than just a few years back) where the orthodox teenagers, apparently with a sense of humor, were asked by their hip Young Adult Minister to put together a collection of contemporary pop songs for the liturgy. The kids tipped their hand, though, when they selected "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, I've Got Love in my Tummy" for the Eucharistic hymn.

Anyway, as traumatizing as that arrangement of "Amazing Grace" was (that, along with the fact that three of the songs, including the Psalm, were written by my supreme arch-nemesis) the Mass itself was, as always, well worth the time. And the other good thing today was that after six days of phone calls (and only seventeen days into the month) our COBRA health insurance provider finally got the information to our HMO so we have health insurance again. Best darn $750/month I ever spent.... If you really want to get dirty looks (we're not talking pitying looks, dirty looks) go into a doctor's office or pharmacy and tell them you have insurance because, as far as you know you paid the money and you do, when really you don't. I'm really learning a lot from this whole experience about the way folks are treated in less than ideal circumstances.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Tom Daschle's Duty to Be Morally Coherent:
A Weekly Standard Exclusive: The Senate minority leader is ordered to stop calling himself a Catholic.

A long time coming, if you ask me. It never ceases to amaze me, knowing what I know about the folks Tom Daschle supposedly "represents", how he gets re-elected for term after term -- and why none of the Catholic leadership there has said anything, considering that one of the best homilies I've heard in the past two years or so was in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

UPDATE: We can neither confirm nor deny....

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

When Jen Speaks, people listen. Or at least they read. When she writes, that is. Anyway, I'm glad I read what she said because I learned that Christopher Guest is doing another "mockumentary", this time about the 1960s folk-music scene -- and it arrives in theaters today. Read the interview about "A Mighty Wind".

Here's a bit with Guest and Harry Shearer from the interview about their style of filmmaking: Is there a lengthy rehearsal process?
Guest: No rehearsals.
Shearer: That's what I mean, that's the danger right there.
Guest: It's literally, "We're rolling." Do you even come to the table at all with an idea of where you might go?
Guest: No.
Shearer: There's no table.
Guest: No, there isn't. Literally.
Shearer: No table.
Guest: There is no table. ....
Since I had my 'blogcrawling Robots melted down into cufflinks last week I haven't been catching up on new 'blogs quite as I should and I had been missing, until now, Spiritual Pyromania 'blog, the weblog of the Frassati Society young-adult group in Memphis. I haven't given this 'blog a thorough once-over yet, but I did enjoy this post on a Marty Haugen music conference keynote address, ca. 2001 by Dennis Shenkel. Check it out.
"They call me Dr. Germ. Good morning! How are you? I'm Dr. Germ."
And since I'm stealing links from Britain's weblog, check out this cedar humidor PC case. This is a cool idea, it is very beautiful, but I still stand by my own idea: stretched rawhide PC cases. I don't have my little mock-up drawing that I did anymore, so maybe I'll have to do another sketch. But anyway, listen this: you have just a skeleton, or wire-frame PC case and then you stretch rawhide over it to make the actual PC case. It'd allow for maximum ventilation and rawhide is surprisingly impact-resistant. Not only that but you could get little mini bull horns to put on the front. And then each PC manufacturer which sells the rawhide case (I'd suggest Gateway, but they seem to be moving away from the whole "cow" image thing) could brand it with their trademark. I think it'd be cool.
Parodeities' Greatest Hits

Things that make you go "hmmm" (and I don't care if it has gotten nearly three million hits). Britain notes that volume six of the Parodeities contains a number which use the Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack as their parodiogenesis. I'm not sure if too many of these get anything above a C - in the "quality" department as they seem to just be a guy singing lyrics written without regard for metrics or actual fidelity to the source material over a downloaded MIDI file of the song they wanted to parody.

If it's decent Christian music parodies you're after, you should check out either Apologetix (though it looks like you have to jump through a hoop or two now to get to their sample mp3s, but you might check this fan page) or Nick Alexander (the "Catholic 'Weird' Al").

I don't know. I think I'm losing my appreciation for song parodies in my old age. Sure, I'll buy (the non-Catholic?) "Weird" Al's new CD when that comes out next month (something Puppy, I believe it's called) provided I'm employed by then but I don't know how I feel about the genre anymore. Who knows, though, maybe the only reason I'm feeling such ambivalence is because it's been FOUR !@#$-ING YEARS since "Weird" Al's last album came out and because all the non-"Weird" Al song parodies generally suck. Perhaps this puppy album, whatever it's called, will be just what is needed to reawaken my appreciation for song parodies.
Don McClane of Tancos has a new weblog!. You should all go and check it out. In addition to the usual weblog fun, Don also promises his own arrangements of old (we're talking Renaissance old) tunes. I can't think of too many 'blogs which can honestly say that they offer that. Definitely worth checking out!

Speaking of weblogs, what's up with Zorak's? Her weblog has been replaced with a South Park charicature... weird. And I was just about to tell her about these Matrix cartoons that are so hot with the kids these days. As for me: I really am not too excited about the new Matrix movie. I'm really not sure, storywise, where they can go. We already know the big secret: that our "real" world is a fractal-based illusion and Neo is the chosen one. By the end of the first movie he could make the Agents blow themselves up just by looking at them and he could fly. Any attempt at a second movie becomes Superman, am I right? The best we could hope for is a retreat of the first movie. Most telling is that the single trailer I've seen has Morpheus actually quoting himself from the first movie ("If you could catch time in a bottle, if you could get a low fixed rate with no points, isn't that worth dying for?"). Well, we'll see. The first Matrix movie was a great film with awesome special effects. Let's hope the second movie isn't just one long awesome special effect. Oh, and Zorak's 'blog is back now. Never mind.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Erg. It's been a while since Buffy: The Vampire Slayer has had the ability to actually disturb me (I think season 3 is the last time they showed an episode that was truly unsettling in the dramatic sense). But tonight one of the original characters who's always been the heart of the group and has made it through seven seasons relatively unscathed got one of his eyes gouged out and that was really disturbing. Any time anything bad happens to Xander it's disturbing. It's one of the few emotional caches the show has left. I can't think that too many fans, for instance, will actually be that sad to see Buffy die (for the third time) at the end of the season. Heck, I was rooting for Principal Wood to finally rid us all of Spike an episode or two back. But that didn't happen. Anyway, as bad as it was to see, though, it's good that the show is finally coming around to what made it so exciting to watch in the first place: you never knew what was going to happen to any of the characters. Not even characters which seemed integral to the show were ever safe -- and that's something that's been missing from the last three seasons (I guess I wasn't all that shocked when Tara got shot, for some reason). And this way Xander gets a cool new eye patch, I'm thinking. Or maybe Willow can build him a visor like the kind Geordi wore in Star Trek.
Here's one from the "I can't believe they had to spend good money to find this one out":

Telegraph: Single-sex classes get boys back to work; Boys can achieve higher grades at school if they are taught in single-sex classes, a new study shows.

Well, duh. I happen to know from personal experience that I would've gotten a lot better than a B- in Greek if Rebecca Reeder hadn't been in my class.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Hero of Time... again.

And oh yeah! We beat The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker this evening! I mean, we haven't found all of the pieces of heart or all of the treasures (we found 40/49) or made figurines of all of the characters in the game, but we did most of that "extracurricular" stuff (including getting all five Tingle statues). We'll probably go back and do some of the tasks we missed but we decided tonight that it was high time that we just saw what Ganondorf had in him this time around (for some reason he struck me as a lot more sympathetic a villian this time around). The ending music, while the credits rolled, was I think -- compositionally speaking -- the best videogame music I've ever heard. Nintendo still seems, for some reason, allergic to putting music of actual recorded orchestras in their games (even though, conceivably, they should have enough storage on a GameCube disc to do so) but my more nostalgia-prone side really loves a synthesized orchestral score (what is inaccurately called a "MIDI score" in many publications) and Windwaker has probably the best I've heard: the credits music incorporates the classic Zelda theme, the Ocarina of Time theme, as well as the sea-chantey-esque Windwaker theme with some really nice progressions and resolutions. I hope someone posts an mp3 of this music on their webpage and that I find it before Nintendo asks them to take it down. Failing that, I guess I could always take Ganondorf to school again and get my little recorder thing ready and tape it myself.

My one complaint with the game, though, is that the actual quest was a little on the easy side. There are tons of little side quests and things to do which will take hours and hours but the main quest itself was too easily completed, in my opinion. I didn't die once the entire game -- and I'm a guy who believes that if it's possible for my character to die, I should die at least once during the course of the game. Like in the original Tomb Raider: once I figured out how to make Lara Croft do a swan dive (as opposed to just a regular dive -- I think you had to push up and square on the controller while diving) I cannot tell you how many times I climbed to the top of a very large cliff or tower (the best were the huge statues since you could look at them on the way down) just to dive off and have Lara land head-first on the hard, rocky ground several storeys below. When she landed, there was this neat, hollow cracking sound and then Lara's body would go all limp like a marionette with broken strings and... uh, I guess you had to be there. It was a different time. Anyway, even though it would take me a good twenty minutes just to get back up to the top of the cliff, I could just do that all day and in Windwaker it's just too hard to die.
Time to catch up on my 'blogs. I've spent most of the past few days at the park so I'm a bit behind (one troubling development, though: the park seems to be filling up with bees). Domestic Punk 'blog has a nice "fisking" of a Ladies Home Journal article (scroll down to last Thursday) but I'm perplexed by this "fisk" we see popping up all over the place. What means it to "fisk"?

And at And Then? 'blog we find a link to a site that tells us how to make palm crosses, something I've wanted to know how to do for years. My sister can do this without any instruction because she's incredibly gifted creatively but whenever I've tried to make a palm cross it always turns out to look more like a palm reptile or palm sabre. University newspaper shut down over April Fools' issue

Call me old-fashioned, but I think that any college community that's libertine enough to have a sex columnist on its newspaper staff should be able to handle the sort of hijinks found in their paper's April Fool's Day issue.

You know, I'm thinking a random surrealism generator such as the one above could effectively put my 'blog out of business. And so close to my two-year 'blog anniversary, too.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

One of the big jokes for people from Ann Arbor, specifically U of M students, is to joke about how dumb people from Ohio, specifically Ohio State students, are. Of course, tragedy should tend to break down their barriers and there is nothing at all amusing about a fire that kills five students as a party was breaking up at four in the morning.

When you next read, however, that "investigators were trying to determine whether the people who died had been drinking" I believe that it is then safe to let the "dumb Ohioan" jokes fly (and that's even before one reads down a couple of paragraphs to "...there were four kegs and at least a dozen cases of beer at the party").

NOTE: None of these stereotypes apply to Stuebenville students, I should hasten to add. If there ever were an apartment or dorm fire at 4am on Stuebenville's campus I'm sure it would only be because someone's ficus bore some message of great exodal import.
So I picked up one of those big, purple pastic balls they sell at Target. I brought it home and 'Xander had a blast playing with it -- for about a minute and a half until it bounced into a bush and popped.

I believe in teaching these life lessons early.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

Since my dad is retired, he has time to clip ambiguous or funny headlines from the local Ann Arbor News and save them for me:

Showdown Over Baghdad Looms

I appreciate these a lot more than I ever let on.
Not much to report today. It was a lovely day, so there was not much time for 'blogging. I completed my PMP cert. prep. class today (yayy!) which means that as soon as I get everything figured out with how to apply I can start cramming for the cert. test. It was cool to have lunch with Britain in Ann Arbor, too. I don't know if this weekend was one of those High Schoolers come visit the U of M weekends or if college students are just really young these days.

Anyway, I've uploaded a remastered version of M.A.R.V.I.N. which sounds noticeably better than the original version you might have. You can download it by clicking on that link in the preceding sentence or head on over to my ACIDPlanet page.

One question I get asked a lot, speaking of music, is how come I write and play (primarily electronic) music in so many different styles as opposed to sticking with just one or maybe two styles and really making a name for myself there. Well, sure, I could do that, I suppose, but do I really want to limit myself to just playing "Uptempo Happycore" or "Electro Trancehop" or whathaveyou? If I did I wouldn't be staying true to my musical heritage which, most people probably don't know this, in electronic music, at least, stretches back as far as 1965. A while back the aforementioned Britain found this picture of me which demonstrates that fact. While I was a lot older back then (judging solely from my arms -- and I also possessed the unnatural ability to swivel my head around 120-degrees from center: very popular with the ladies) for some reason, you can see that even then my love affair with Robots was well underway.

And to answer a question from one of the comment boxes below: I don't yet have Soul Calibur II. I could import it from Japan, where it's just out, I suppose, but I can't afford that right now. But when I watch movies like this one, though, I almost start weeping. In addition to the Megaton Hammer which Link wields in that video, he can also wield the Fairy Sword (and I'm guessing the Master Sword as well).
Kat, below, made a funny comment about awaiting the Sims' "Shock and Awe" Expansion Pack. Sadly, this may never be: Sony is trying to trademark the phrase "Shock and Awe" for a videogame of their own. Let's see if they'll be able to win the trademark away from the other companies (including a shampoo maker!) who are trying to get it as well.

Friday, April 11, 2003

I've uploaded the mp3 of my new song Recurring Dream, Part 1. You can download it by right-clicking on that link, there.
Whenever the Vicster needs to sanity-check a lyric or two he heads over to This site has probably the most comprehensive list of TMBG lyrics I've -- er, he's -- ever seen.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

How long do you think it will be before a "Mobile Weapons Lab" character shows up in the next Twisted Metal game? And according to one poll they showed on the FOXNews ticker, more Americans think France is America's #1 enemy than they do think China (is America's #1 enemy. North Korea is tops on the list, followed by Iraq). Does that seem right to you?
Whoops: Clerics killed at Shiite shrine; Men hacked to death with swords.

Guess tempers are still running a little hot over in that particular corner of the religion of peace. They're not mentioning this story every three minutes on FOXNews for some reason.
New Music (And Now For Something Completely Different)

So by now you're thinking, "Yeah, Victor's pretty much mastered funk and every other conceivable style of dance music, but it's been a while since he's done a short, dark orchestral piece". Yes, it's true: it had been a while. Head on over to my ACIDPlanet page to give "Recurring Dream, Part 1" a listen. You can listen to the stream for free but downloading may require a "free" membership registration. If that bugs anyone, let me know and I'll upload it to my webspace here. If you want to use this in a movie or anything, just let me know.

It's not the most revolutionary thing, of course, since I put it together in just a few hours (using the sampled orchestral instruments in Sonic Reality's Sonic Synth instrument -- except for the somewhat crummy percussion, which is Editrol's Virtual Studio Canvas: I couldn't find the orchestral percussion in Sonic Synth) but expect to hear more music like this from me over the next few months or so.

And if you don't like that then... you can just listen to this instead.
The Curt Jester passes along a link to the SongFight site where every week a title is chosen and battle commences over who can write the most popular song on that title. I may enter this someday, you just never know!

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Feed Your Children Crap

Great big steaming spoonfuls of it in the form of the Alice books (check out the editorial review of "Alice on the Outside" for some clue as to content. According to some schools, this material is appropriate for kids as young as 9.

And when you're done with that review, read some of the titles of Naylor's other "Alice" books. Judging from the title, they're even worse!

"Achingly Alice"
"All But Alice"
"Upsidedown Alice"
"Alice Does Dallas"
"Alice, Alice, Uberalis"

(okay, so I made the last three up). The reader reviews on that page, though, just go to show you that P.T. Barnum was right when he said that there is an overly-sexually "enlightened" customer born every minute.

(Actual five-star reader review): "Alice learns the value of skin and hair color, when her school sponsers a week of judging people by hair color. ... Alice's friends also learn some values and one gets sexually abused. This book is really good with a suprising twist!"


"Gee, Debra: you sure learned some useful lessons this time around, what with getting sexually abused and all!"
"Boy, howdy! You sure said it Alice! And I also learned the value of having good hair color!"

We've gone way beyond Judy Blume's "Are You There, God? I'm Menstruating".
A Bible As Unique As I Am!

Thanks, Fr. Bryce, for the link! I like plugging in all sorts of "unique" abnormalities. It's fun!
Like most folks who don't work, we spent a good hour this morning watch the Iraqi people attack the huge statue of Saddam Hussein with a sledgehammer, then climb up on it with a rope, then go over to a bunch of U.S. Marines and ask them if they could borrow the use of their M-88 Armored Vehicle. The Marines were glad to help out, of course, and first hoisted a US flag over Hussein's face before quickly removing it and replacing it with an Iraqi flag and then removing that before finally pulling the statue over (I liked Brit Hume's comment as the statue started to come over "That statue's gesture has become something of a goodbye wave. 'So long!'"). And then of course the joyful Iraqi people riding Saddam's head around town was particularly neat as well. It was really a remarkable moment. When the statue first toppled over and the M-88 and fallen statue and Marines were swarmed with Iraqis everyone was smiling: all of the Marines, and the Iraqis. That was pretty neat to see.

And now I hear there's a huge party down the street in Dearborn, MI. All the exiled Iraqis are partying in the street, waving US flags. I guess that tells me all I need to know.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003 Mummy lit - chick lit with nipple rash - is all the rage. Sean Kelly thinks it's been milked dry.

There's some big, important issue here but I'm missing it (and it's not the word "Mummy" cleverly thrown into the title of the editorial either: I know that that that means "mommy" in Australianese). Perhaps it's because I haven't read anything lately written in the past forty years. Or perhaps it's just becuase I haven't read anything lately. Either way, thanks to Kat for the link, I now know how to make my romance novels written under my pen name "M. Madison Branwyn" even more authentic. Only now that I've told you about my secret pen name, I shall have to take care of you all. Yes... take care of you all in a manner which ironcially recalls the trauma my girlhood and yet I never truly become the patriarchal figure I most despise because the far-reaching sisterhood of those with whom I used to experiment in college somehow comes through in the end to save me from my own feelings of an irrational need for redemption. Heh, heh, heh.

Just kidding!!! I just made all of that up!

I'll be glad when all this snow finally melts. There's nothing worse than having a few 60-to-70 degree days and then, in April, getting six inches of snow dumped on you. I'd all gotten into a mindset to get in shape (or something) and take 'Xander to the park on a regular basis but now... well, it's below freezing and miserable outside. Today 'Xander walked into the office here carrying his shoes and it broke my heart to tell him that we couldn't go to the park so daddy got, er had to stay on the computer for a few more minutes. Anyway, we found the furbies we bought about four years ago and he just loves them. So I figure they've got to be worth at least one trip to the park.

Update: I came down from upstairs and found this on the fridge (in our brand new "Doug and Melissa's" brand magnetic refrigerator letters). Should probably schedule that trip to the park soon.

I Want go TO PARK! 'Die-ins' Target War and News Media

An otherwise boring account of war protesters is saved by this interesting little tidbit:

Fox News had its own response to the demonstrators. The news ticker rimming Fox's headquarters on Sixth Avenue wasn't carrying war updates as the protest began. Instead, it poked fun at the demonstrators, chiding them.
"War protester auditions here today ... thanks for coming!" read one message. "Who won your right to show up here today?" another questioned. "Protesters or soldiers?"
Said a third: "How do you keep a war protester in suspense? Ignore them."
Still another read: "Attention protesters: the Michael Moore Fan Club meets Thursday at a phone booth at Sixth Avenue and 50th Street" - a reference to the film maker who denounced the war while accepting an Oscar on Sunday night for his documentary "Bowling for Columbine."

And at the same time reports that Sesame Street is beginning its 34th season.

Thanks, Britain, for digging up both links! I also enjoyed reading the letter from Jackie Chan to his young fans, reading the letters they've written to him.

Monday, April 07, 2003

New Venture: Capital Required

We just got our income tax refund and one thing is pretty clear to me: if I want to get even more money back next year I should probably start a business whose sole purpose is to lose money. Now, looking around at the market today, there are any number of potential types of business I could run into the ground, but I'm going with that of "Catholic Book Publisher". The market is already pretty tight and with so many quality offerings already out there, my chances of success (by which I mean failure) are good. Still, to which the below entries will attest, I am not taking any chances.

So without further ado, here are the first two books to be offered soon from "The Stinky Censer Press, LTD":

Donkey-Punched by TruthNumber eight in the best-selling series of shocking and often violent personal conversion stories! No namby-pamby, cutesy, fluffy stories of warmth, mercy, and compassion here! Just plenty of gut-puking, heart-stopping, limb-tearing stories from those who have found their own unique path to Truth and have learned the real meaning of regret, sacrifice, and deep, personal loss along the way.

Let "Doctor" Viktor show you and your spouse the true path to marital bliss using his patented five-step "trouble avoidance" program! Learn that passive-agressiveness does have a cherished place in Christian marriage as you explore this second book in Kerplop's reknowned "Theology of Capitulation" series.

BONUS: Includes "Doctor" Viktor's laminated pull-out guide to passive self-urination!
Marriage is a Dish Best Served Cold

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Another very nice episode of The Dead Zone on USA tonight. It reminded me in a lot of respects of the fourth-season episode of Deep Space Nine entitled "The Visitor" (perhaps the best single episode of any of the Trek series) in the way it touched on the themes of leaving the shadow of one's father to find one's own destiny while still honoring him. All in all, the second season of The Dead Zone (since I guess this was the season finale?) or what we've seen of it has been a notably good one (with the very rare miss). In other happy tv series news, tonight's episode of Andromeda, the 16th of this season, was actually decent: probably only one of the two from this past season (so far -- though I missed an episode this season which sounded like it might've been a good one... grrr) that I'd actually watch again.
New Music!

Check out my AcidPlanet page for a new tune, "Shaker Funk". If you click on the play button next to the song, it'll stream in WMA format. If you can't handle that, click the download button to download your choice of WMA or mp3 formats.

In this tune I address many, many years of deep-seated psychological frustration with a certain piece of liturgical music. It's not the most polished thing I've ever done, but it's something I needed to do.
How ever Forever Inspired 'blog escaped my notice for so long I will never know. Suffice it to say that my web-crawling Robotic minions which were supposed to keep me informed of such developments in the St. 'Blog's arena have been melted down to form cufflinks (and I don't even wear cufflinks, which just goes to show you how petty and cruel I am when it comes to dealing with failure).

Anyway, Forever Inspired boasts some amazing graphic design and a songwriting page which contains roughly 30 original songs written by its author. About the author herself, however, very little is known, though much has been written.

In other news: stay tuned for a new song from me later on today.
Okay, I will concede that Mac OS-X allows you to do one cool thing that Windows XP will not allow you to do: hook up 5 1.4MB floppy drives into a RAID array.

It is really cool when you access the drives the way they flash each light and spin in no particular order that I can discern. It is of course faster than a standard single drive. I was able to transfer "DEVO Uncontrolable Urge.mp3" which is 3.6 MB in 32 seconds. Which is pretty good I think.

Saturday, April 05, 2003

The Honda Element: World's Ugliest Minivan

(These have been popping up around town lately so I thought I'd make everyone who bought one feel bad about their purchase and themselves with my little jibe. What can you say about a wannabe-SUV whose obvious strong trait is that its "waterproof FXC™ (For Extreme Conditions) seat fabric laughs at stains, whether they're from mud, coffee, ketchup or lipstick"? For what it's worth, I laugh at stains from a multitude of sources, too, until I realize that I'm the one who's going to be cleaning them up. And while it's more appealing, for me at least, to imagine seat fabric laughing than it is to clean anything up, the Honda website still doesn't say whether or not the waterproof FXC™ seat fabric laughs at cat barf).

Friday, April 04, 2003

Man! Even that gnome from Harry Potter is finding work through

Okay, so that may not really be Booblin or Doglorf or whatever the name of that CGI character from Chamber of Secrets is called. On that note: is it even possible for the DVD ads for that movie which air on television to mention the word "secrets" any more times in a 30-second spot ("Unlock the secrets of Hogwarts on this two-DVD set packed with secrets from The Chamber of Secrets")? I think not.
From the "How On Earth Did This Ever Make It Out The Door?" File

Caution: the following is not for the generally squeamish or for anyone who has pudding issues.

Okay, now that that's out of the way, I know I really should not post a link to this because it is so bad and will disturb most of you, but check out the packaging for Hershey's Portable Pudding Tubes anyway.

As truly awful as that packaging is, would you believe that it somehow won the Flexible Packaging Association's 2003 Highest Achievement in Packaging Excellence Award (note: not only did it get the highest achievement in packaging excellence award, but the tubes are also a Gold Award Winner in Technical Innovation and a Silver Award Winner in Environmental Achievement)? Unfortunately the FPA page doesn't say whether or not former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders was on hand (so to speak) to be recognized for her obvious contribution to the packaging when the award was presented.
Mighty, Mighty Barrister mighty funny.

(Since archives need to be republished, scroll down to the "Mork and Mufti" entry from Friday, April 04, 2003. It's funny on so many levels and, yes, I do wish I'd thought of it first but given how clever the juxtaposition of the images is, it's unlikely I ever would have. Still, I wonder how much Cafe Press stuff he (The Barrister) sells. If it was worth the time, I'd consider selling some et cetera merchandise through Cafe Press. Maybe T-shirts that say "I've Got A Headache" or "Plogged Lately?" would sell really well.
CBSNews: Iraqi Lawyer Dubbed POW's Hero

The 32-year-old lawyer, identified only as Mohammed, told several newspapers that he peered through a window at the hospital where his wife worked as a nurse and saw a sight that "cut" [stopped] his heart: Lynch being slapped in the face by the black-clad Iraqi security agent.

He said he decided on the spot he had to tell U.S. forces where to find the captured American private.


Mohammed walked out of Nasiriyah six miles along a treacherous road known as "ambush alley."

Despite the rather dubious grammar of the story's headline, this is an amazing story and should do more to foster respect of the Iraqi people among Americans than just about anything else I could think of.

UPDATE: I finally was able to parse the headline. "Iraqi" is the object of the sentence, not the subject, the verb is passive, not (perfect) active and so the possessive use of the apostrophe (which makes "POW" genitive, not accusative case) is appropriate (you see so many plurals inappropriately using the apostrophe-s ending these days, you hardly give it a second thought anymore). English really does need case endings on its nouns, I'm afraid to say.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Oh, my goodness. These had me laughing so much it hurt: The poetry of D. H. Rumsfeld (taken from actual interviews and press briefings). Very nice. I happen to, in the words of Slingblade, "like the way you talk", D.H. Rumsfeld!

Link via Zorak.
Every so often there is some exciting news of interest to lovers of giant squid: Ananova: New huge squid specimen caught in Antarctic waters.

My personal feeling, as far as the web is concerned, is that Giant Squid is next in the web-culture-fad progression cycle which runs Monkeys -> Robots -> Pirates -> Giant Squid -> Aliens -> Skateboards and then back to Monkeys. I think Stick Figures are finally done and no longer in the cycle. Now, if somoene could come up with a Flash animation detailing the epic struggle between a skateboarding, alien monkey and a giant, robotic squid-pirate then that cartoon would be crowned rightful king of the Internet.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

I know I swore off 'blogging for a couple of days, but this made me almost cry from my teeth grinding together so hard:

CNBC: Uncommon Sense: "I've given up spending for Lent"

Me: OW! What was that?
Conscience: I am smiting you, you idiot. You can't buy color-enhancing conditioner when you're on a spending fast! This is Lent -- or have we forgotten already?
Me: Good God! I've failed and Lent isn't even 24 hours old! But listen, Conscience. Everyone has that initial slip-up on the road to salvation. It was completely unintentional, and I won't do it again, I promise!

Disparaging comments about Britney Spears' virginity follow (no joke). First off, I don't consider it professional journalism to use the phrase "Um, no" in any piece you're writing, regardless of how much it diminishes the faith of another human individual, even if you are doing it in the style of a cutesy contemporary Dave Barry knockoff (which itself is even a knockoff of vintage Dave Barry). Second of all, the whole point of lent is not to save money. And if you are saving money, great, try giving alms with that money. This is like the people who fast during lent because they want to lose weight. But the point is that there's tons more fun you could have picking apart exactly what's wrong with that article, but I'm not going to do that because I'm going to bed. All in all, I think those NBC/MSNBC folks should do another round of firing, but quick. I don't know if this is life imitating "art" (how many so-called romantic comedies lately have been built around the premise that some woman's editor has asked them to do something outrageous and stupid in the name of journalism? How many of those idiot editors, inspired by "How to Lose a Guy..." and "Never Been Kissed", also saw last year's stupid "40 Days" as well? At least one, I'm guessing).

As for my personal experience regarding this particular season: if you try to run from lent, it will find you and it will not be pleasant.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

I'm probably going to be taking a day or two off from 'blogging. At least that's the plan. I'll see you on the other side!

In the meantime, I thought this was a nice site: Jocks to GIs Direct.
Har, har. Very funny, Britain!

The deal last night was that, and I think this affected multiple 'blogger-based 'blogs, someone apparently had found a way to switch templates among 'blogger users (as near as I can tell) and switched my own template at least three times before I finally removed my FTP password from my 'blogger profile (at that point whatever automated script was running couldn't access my FTP space to publish the corrupted 'blog, at least). Unfortunately I lost my most recent template, this one you're looking at now is about six months old. I'll try to reconstruct what I had and get that out this morning.

Anyway, yeah, yeah, very funny April Fools' joke.