Saturday, May 31, 2003

I make no promises, but my very first computer animated cartoon/music-video should premiere here tomorrow (if the Lord is willing and the creek don't rise) in some form or another. I'm doing the "final" renders now (they take about six hours on this poor machine) and should have it edited together and mixed with the sound tonight or tomorrow after Church. So check back tomorrow afternoon!

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Think this page loads slow?

Well, it does. Much of the time. As RC helpfully pointed out, I rely on about 8 different "free" webservices for all the neat stuff on this page. Unfortunately, that slows things down some of the time (for example, at this moment, the comment boxes aren't loading, due to problems with the YACCS servers, no doubt). The ol' 'blog is due in for an overhaul soon (what you're looking at is the original template I threw together in late April, '01, with a few modifications and additions along the way) but I have a couple of other projects on my plate before that can happen. So bear with this old 'blog a little while longer and hopefully in June we'll see a redesign (Jackie's offered to do some new graphics for it, and because she's an awesome graphic artist -- Fine Arts degree and everything! -- they will be very cool).
Mark Shea is my Hero!

Thanks, Mark, for the awsome article in Crisis magazine (the June 2003 edition)! Mark has some very nice things to say about this here weblog (on page 28, right under the bit about Nihil Obstat -- not that I'm saying you should run right out and buy a copy... Oh, okay, run right out and buy a copy!).

Anyway, if you were brought here by the article then welcome! As regular readers know, this is my weblog and I 'blog about a whole bunch of different things, as I have been for the past two years. I never really use strong language (except a few days ago when I talked some smack about Andrew Greeley and some people didn't like that -- but, excuse me, in every picture I've seen of him, on book liner jackets or in the paper, he's never got a Roman collar on and that pretty much tells me everything I need to know about him: you'd best believe I'd catch hell if I made a habit of going out into public without my wedding ring) and I try to make sure my sentences are as coherent and structurally correct as possible. I don't spell-check, though, so watch out for that.

Anyway, here's the links to some of my more multimedia-riffic stuff:

And the next exciting thing will probably be out on Sunday, or something, so watch for that!
Seriously, if you haven't checked out James' "UBlog" video yet (Das 'Blog?), watch it now. That's an order, soldier! It is totally the future... and very nicely done, too. A++
We're watching "Elmo's World" on Sesame Street and there's the part at the end of each show where Elmo bangs on an animated piano and sings the song of the day (usually a single word sung to the tune of "Jingle Bells"). Today, when this part came on 'Xander, who is about 16-1/2 months old, climbed up on the chair near our piano and started playing it and singing at the same time.

Very cute.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003


Be your own Will Vinton (or, for you younger cats, Aardman Studios) with Stop Motion Pro. What's that you say? You can't afford to spend $200 or even $100 on a piece of stop-motion animation software? Sometimes I think I don't even know you. Very well, check out The (free) Anasazi Stop-Motion Animator (for Windows only). If you've got a digital video camera (or webcam) and a PC (and some patience), you can make stop-motion cartoons!

Why should James (good show, by the way!) and I be the only members of St. 'Blogs who make funny videos and animations (watch this space, Friday or Saturday evening) which enlighten, entertain, and reflect and broaden our understanding of our Catholic faith? Grab that shoebox of G.I. Joes in the closet or your kids' stuffed animals and make something neat for us to watch! Like maybe a movie about St. Ignatius getting hit with a cannonball!
A Real Treat!

Justin Katz passes this one along: The 1980s TV Commercial Archives! Woohoo! I don't even have to download most of these because I still know them by heart (but where are the Mad Scientist Monster Lab commercials? "Too gross! Too yucky!" Or the Inhumanoids: "The Power that lies wi-i-i-thin!"). I always thought, or rather I think now, that when people get hit by grotesquely-oversized falling fruit that is actual, and not just computer animated, it seemed/seems to hurt them a lot more.

The site gets BIG KUDOS for preserving the original Legend of Zelda teaser ad from 1985 (near the bottom of the page, on the left). That ad has lingered deep within my memory, haunting my subconscious, for the past 18 years ("LEEVERS!!!!"). Now I can finally confront it and put it to rest.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Britain is correct as usual: these are some really neat digital photo tricks. And they are real photographers' tricks (putting sunglasses over the lens for a polarizing effect, etc.). None of that useless "make sure you have plenty of digital film on hand for holidays and other fun occasions!" info you'll find at Best Buy.

Britain's also found the internet treasure trove of vintage Match Game transition music. Check out "Theme 4 (Cowbell)" if you think you're funky enough to handle it.
Found on Mark Shea's 'blog:

At Heathrow Airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a compass, a protractor, and a graphical calculator. Authorities believe he is a member of the notorious al-Gebra movement. He is being charged with carrying instruments of math instruction.
Cardinal Arinze is my new hero:

"In many parts of the world, the family is under siege," he said, according to a transcript of the speech. "It is opposed by an anti-life mentality as is seen in contraception, abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. It is scorned and banalized by pornography, desecrated by fornication and adultery, mocked by homosexuality, sabotaged by irregular unions and cut in two by divorce."

A theology professor and several students walked out during the speech, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. About 70 faculty members also signed a letter of protest, which was delivered on Wednesday to Jane McAuliffe, dean of the university's school of arts and sciences.

This was at Georgetown, of course. How it was that anyone from the Vatican, much less Cardinal Arinze, was able to speak at Georgetown is a minor miracle in itself. Unfortunately the only news article I could find on this was this awful Yahoo News piece which, along with most of the Georgetown faculty, I'm sure, missed the point entirely and only heard the word "homosexuality" used with anything other than glowing reverence and took that as an opportunity to get their panties in a bunch (puritan bastards). The Cardinal was invited to speak on Christian-Muslim relations and part and parcel of those relations is the disintegration of the family in the largely post-Christian West. If you can't understand what's happened to the family in the West, and why it's happened, then you can never hope to find any "common ground" as it were, with the Muslims and can only hope to subdue them with force. Tough, come to think of it, it'd be a mighty funny thing to watch the Georgetown faculty, try to subdue anyone with force themselves (as opposed to hiring the poor folks' kids to do it for them), much less a bunch of disaffected Muslims. So maybe in their case, this ought to be encouraged.
Rerun: "'Blog! The Musical"

I'm going to be fairly busy this week pouring most of my computer time (and then some) into The Next Big Thing. I'll not go into details about it just yet, but it's a project which I hope to have done by Friday. And it will be cool.

In the meantime, check out my "'Blog! The Musical" short video from last week if you haven't already.

Monday, May 26, 2003

Victor reads a book and somewhat enjoys it, even though it makes him angry.

So today I did something different and read a book, "Angel Light," by Andrew M. Greeley who is, according to the bookjacket, "a priest and a sociologist" -- never a particularly encouraging combination (find me something written by a "priest and Airborne Ranger" or a "priest and wheelman" and now, there's a book worth reading).

Of the two James brothers, it is said, William was the better novelist and Henry was the better psychologist. Andrew M. Greeley is neither.

Among the unbelivable character "development" and endless, circutous ponderous psychobabble which passes as dialogue between two young lovers there probably was the makings of a fine love story in there, somewhere (no wonder, considering the biblical story on which it was based -- my sole interest in reading the book). Also, on matters metaphysical (not to mention theological) Greeley demonstrates himself to be a shithead (God is a PERSON. Three of them, in fact. Persons have a definitive sex or gender (if you prefer). Changing the gender of the personal pronoun you use to refer to Him -- "Him/Her" -- confounds that personhood. And if God, excuse me "the Other", gets some sort of erotic pleasure out of seeing naked people then I probably should enjoy watching naked mole rats a lot more than I do -- which is not at all. Note to Greeley on the topic of angels: reread your Peter Kreeft). But, because his heroes demonstrate such innocent displays of traditional Catholic piety (praying for the dead on a regular basis, going to morning mass every day for a week for nuptual blessing, etc.) I guess that makes him our shithead.

In the end, Greeley does pull off the remarkable task of making the supernatural seem predictably workaday and not at all wonderful, which is something most novelists really have to work at and most can never bring themselves to quite achieve. Case in point: the simple toothache device in Percy's "The Second Coming" had me out of my seat and cheering with all of it's divine, grace-filled implications when I read that book many years ago (READ THAT BOOK! In my opinion "The Second Coming" is the most accessible of all of Walker Percy's novels, and one everyone should read) while the mindless mechanations of "Seraph" (again, an intentional metaphysical misstep on Greeley's part) Raphael as "she" (In the Greeleyverse angels apparently have sex... in both senses of the phrase -- yes, I know, they're supposed to be purely rational beings, incorporeal in form... like I said: as a Catholic priest/novelist/sociologist Greeley's both a populist and a shithead) picks out our hero's wardrobe in excruciating detail every single blessed day gets old really quick and I almost hoped she'd never show up again or get eaten by a demon (which, apparently, also don't exist). Quaint also is Greeley's understanding of the Internet. Though, since he wrote the book in '94, this can be forgiven to some degree. And there are guns and bombs and explosions and people getting shot, so I guess that's not too bad.

Too bad the dialogue, development, and metaphysics are such a muddle. With a pair of sissors and a black magic marker I could take about 60 pages off of this book (it goes around and around and around in circles for a while there) and it'd be on the way towards being something really good -- which is why I'm all the more frustrated by it. Though, I must be getting mellow in my old(er) age: only five or six times did I find myself with the insatiable urge to tear the particular page I was reading to shreds. Since it was a library book, I refrained.

Anyway, MY version of this particular story will not suck.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

When my album-cover doodles come to life.
If you find flatulent cartoon pigs who sing along to eurobeat techno highly amusing then this QuickTime movie, KnorSong, will make you say "Joepieee!"
My F Score is: 3.6
I am disciplined but tolerant; a true American.
If you want to see a much higher-quality version of that TMBG video, to which I linked a few posts down, check out it's page on the Brand New School website. It's in QuickTime format and it looks and sounds way better. Brand New School has been responsbile for a number of very cool looking promos and animations which you can all find here (be sure to click through the various pages).

Friday, May 23, 2003

Yeah, but is it CHEERFUL?

"Boinger: The Cheerful Doll"

"BOINGER THE CHEERFUL FUN LOVING DOLL". Boinger is a funny lovable Doll that lives in Heaven and was named Boinger because each time Boinger hops ~ his legs make a cheerful happy BOING sound.

On earth a little 4 year old orphan boy named Jimmy is so sad that he cries almost all day long because Jimmy feels as if no one in the world loves him. So our Loving Heavenly Father, because he loves Jimmy, God asks cheerful happy Boinger to go to earth to be Jimmy's new pal.

Yep. God sure does have a sick sense of humor, all right. "And to the dejected little orphan boy, I give thee... BOINGER!" Not only that but "God gives Boinger the power to take Jimmy back into Bible History". There is a catch, however: "But Boinger and Jimmy can not interfere with the events taking place in each Biblical true life adventure". So I guess BOINGER isn't all that great of a toy after all.

For what it's worth, my legs sometimes make a cheerful happy BOING sound too, though it's usually only if I bend them suddenly and haven't done that in a while.
Badass Monk saves Cop

I'll have to wait until the channel six website stops misbehaving so I can watch the video. Link via Justin Katz.
Apprently "They Might Be Giants" has gotten over that whole TinyToons episode and have recorded a couple of new songs for the Cartoon Network you can watch their video for Courage, The Cowardly Dog (a far better video and song than that crummy show deserves) online. No word on what show the other song might be about.. but you can check out some other music videos here. For some reason Dexter's Laboratory seems to meld really well with hip-hop... at least in the minds of certain Turner Broadcasting execs.

"Uh, oh... Back to the lab again. We messed up! Back to the lab again."
'Blog! The Musical

As promised, here is the next great leap forward in 'blogging: 'Blog! The Musical. As you will soon see it is certainly the next evolutionary step up from 'Plogging. Click on the graphic below to stream in .rm format (or right-click to save as for those of you with slower connections). Windows Media format is provided below.

Blog! The Musical

'Blog! The Musical!

Starring Victor J. Lams as "Little Andrew 'Blogpundit"
Produced and Directed by Victor J. Lams
Running Time: One minute, thirty-three seconds.

Click here for Windows Media format streaming.
Click here for handy lyric sheet.
Click here for soundtrack of the Original Cast Recording in .mp3 format.

'Blog! The Musical words, music, and video production © 2003, Victor J. Lams

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

For those of us not blessed with an XBox, Buffy: Chaos Bleeds will be our first chance to slay vampires as Buffy (and 'Xander, and Willow, and Spike, and ... is that Faith, in the video preview?) on our Nintendo GameCubes. The game's script is supposedly being written by the show's writers and is, according to the article, a sort of "lost" episode from the fifth season. If that's really Faith in the preview (and not Anya), I would say that would make this a lost episode from the fourth season (and that much cooler). The only really troubling thing I've seen about the game, so far, is that some of the screenshots I've seen would seem to imply that Sid, the demon-slaying ventriloquist's dummy from Season 1, is a playable character. And that has enormous suck potential -- unless they're able to write him back into the story in in a convincing way.

As Eurocom is producing the game, and did an excellent job with the Harry Potter: Chamber of Secrets game engine, we'll have to wait until August (realistically, I think December) to find out.

Update: a comment on this preview page claims to have more info on the story: Ethan Raine (yay!) is back and is in league with The First (boo!) and it's up to Buffy, 'Xander, Willow, Spike, Faith (it is Faith), and Sid the Dummy (still not sure I'm cool with that -- they couldn't maybe find anyone better? Like Anya? Or Riley? Or Jonathan?) to take him out. Enemies include Kakistos and Ripper Giles (double yay!)... And "the cast" has signed on to do the voices... they couldn't get Gellar for the XBox game, so we'll have to see what they manage for this one. Since they even went so far as to get the show's writers, perhaps they can get Gellar to do her own voice this time.
Ran into the nCase parasite today. Killed it dead.
"Don't think low-yield, think small apocalypse."

Still, I guess that every dollar that's spent on developing new nuclear weapons (the whole idea even sounded absurd when I typed it just now) are dollars that can't be spent on promoting abortion and population control overseas, so that's a qualified good thing, I guess.

Well, as long as folks can keep from blowing stuff up until Friday. Why? What happens on Friday? Well, that is when the next big thing in 'Blogging will be unveiled, on this very website. And you don't want to miss it.

'BlogTones Update: because of this next great leap forward the 'BlogTones project is on hold for a week or so. If you have an outstanding request, it will be honored probably in the next week or so.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Buffy: Go Bye-Bye

Spoiler warning!

So we watched the series finale of Buffy tonight and it was overall pretty good. What they (Joss) did to the mythology/ontology of the Slayer, though, was total crap. But it made for a very cool fight sequence. I didn't see any real reason for Anya to buy it, but I didn't feel too bad about her dying (all she's been good for this season is the odd sex joke or two -- and if we're going to play the cold, hard calculus game, there's probably no real reason why any of the characters had to live, either). Spike's death, while rushed (like Anya's -- if they could only have killed her off a couple of seasons ago, it would've had so much more impact) was probably what was required to make him a Real Live Boy and I predict that The Powers That Be will bring him back on Angel as a human (you can't have a show with two ensouled vampires, now can you?). The Faith/Wood moments in this episode were probably the character (non-battle) highlights (sadly enough) and I really would've liked to have seen Angel stick around for the fight sequence, because as it was he was totally wasted as a messenger boy. And while the CG effects were tres cheesy (chalk that up to having no money), it was nice of Joss to have the entire town of Sunnydale (sign -- featured prominently in the closing moments of season 2 -- and all) get sucked into the hellmouth. And the "Grr, Arg!" guy over the Mutant Enemy production logo actually turned towards the camera this time. I was hoping for more, though, like maybe a cartoon Sarah Michelle Gellar (a la' the intro to Bewitched) would come out and stake him. As with the rest of the episode, I was a little disappointed but it was more than I really expected.

But who else caught the Trogdor the Burninator reference when the characters were playing D&D? I guess the folks at HomestarRunner know they've made it when one of their characters makes it into the series finale of Buffy, eh? Anyway, all in all not a bad way to end the show... I just get the feeling it was two years too late for me to really even care.

If you're a real loser, er, I mean, fan you can check out the BuffyAuctions, powered by eBay, where costumes and set pieces (lots of stuff from the Magic Box it looks like, but no picture of what the female robot w/ remote might actually be -- any ideas?) are being auctioned off to wealthy fans. Be prepared to pay between $2,000 and $4,000 or more for any article of clothing that may've actually touched Sarah Michelle Gellar or David Boreanaz (and slightly less for things which have touched Savion Glover).

Anyway, if you want to read one of the more recent interviews with Joss "Girl Power!" Whedon, check out this Salon article. He clears up some things about the evil priest villian (who got sliced in half tonight): yes, Joss was making a statement about "the patriarchy", yes he thinks "religious insitutions" are bad (since he is a self-profession atheist... for now, anyway), no he doesn't think priests are evil. And his next project? This isn't a hint, supposedly: "I won't miss having to turn out 22 stories about Buffy in a year. I feel like we did the best we could for a long damn time and it's time to tell the next story. Even if it's about Willow." (Dohhh... "Willow, The Twentysomething Goddess"... that was probably the onliest part of the finale which out-and-out sucked... I never thought I'd miss Tara... but Kennedy really needed to die). So Joss clearly has some issues regarding manhood and womanhood -- but we already knew that. Anyway, if you want to read the whole thing you'll have to sit through the usual disproportionate and slanderous Salon advertising, though.

Oh, and the season finale for 24? It tied things up nicely. Kiefer Sutherland, despite several heart attacks, was able to kick some butt and get reunited with his daughter (the dumbest girl alive). We totally called that the President would die, though, in the closing moments which was a shame: I really enjoyed watching the actor who played him. Still, I guess it's better than Jack's wife dying, like what happened last season (speaking of which, what happened to Nina Myers? She kind of dropped off the radar by hour 12 or so). I guess we'll just have to wait and see what the next 24 hours will bring.
The plan is to make 'blogging history again this week, weather permitting. Check back on Friday.
Okay, it's official: I cannot play First-Person Shooters anymore. I played about five minutes of that ChexQuest game I linked below and now I feel like I'm going to yarf. Ugh.
The new album by Hiromi Uehara sounds like it's one of the most exciting progressive paino-jazz dates in years. Too bad the clips on the Telarc page are way too short (though check out the clip for "The Tom and Jerry Show" in which the 24-year-old Uehara handily out-Oscar-Petersons neo-bop virtuoso Benny Green. And then check out the other clips as well). I can't beleive she's got only two hands. Particularly amusing are the reviews on the page in which a fellow jazz pianist seems to think Hiromi shouldn't be releasing records and touring at all until she's "paid her dues" and should be content to focus on her studies. Ummm... Herbie Hancock was 19 when he started touring with Miles Davis and releasing his own albums. I wonder what jazzsnobs had to say about that, at the time.

It's cool that there are still young artists like Uehara and Jason Moran to breathe new life into the music without departing from its roots completely. I guess into each generation a few are born to keep jazz new; they are the chosen ones. I can't wait until I can get this CD. If I wait long enough maybe I'll have a SACD/DVD-A player by then... dare to dream.
So I'm up late watching Robocop 3 because, well, it's on and I've never seen it before and I'm thinking, this is actually a pretty good movie! And then Robocop hops into a 1979 Lincoln Mark V and it's pink with fuzzy dize and rope lights and I think: this is a GREAT movie. And then the robot ninjas pop out with the samauri swords and flip around and I'm just thinking... awwww, yeah.

So check it out. 1993 was a great year for movies.

Monday, May 19, 2003

I can't imagine why you'd want it, but thanks to I now have an RSS feed for my 'blog.

This was part of the assimilation agreement with Borgs4God.

And WorldCom gets off easy.
I Predict (2003)

I predict that this summer, soon, there will be at least one song off of Cooler Kids' new album which will sweep across the nation like a storm with it's infectious pop hooks and be completely unavoidable. I don't know which song because I don't have the album and haven't heard all of them, but that's my prediction anyway.
Ruh, roh...

It sounds like it's about as I feared. Go to Barbara Nicolosi's 'blog and scroll down to "DARE TO BREAK FREE OF THE MATRIX RELOADED". I haven't seen The Matrix: Again, yet, but based on reviews like that one it looks like I can afford to wait until it comes out on SuperVision DVD or whatever.

And then there's Steven Greydanus' take on it. I'll have to check Rotten Tomatoes to see what the overall consensus is (update: generally favorable, but the really telling part is that all of the favorable reviews cite the special effects as the raison d'etre of this film -- though Salon liked all the sex, I believe -- and all the negative reviews cited the lack of anything resembling a story and as I'm rather bored with special effects movies and always love a good story, I'll probably skip it). Based on these two reviews alone, however, I'm really, really, really glad that the one movie we see in the theaters this year wasn't this one.
Thanks to Britain, who found the URL, you can now download ChexQuest, the freebie CD-ROM game (a kiddie version of Wolfenstein 3D, if I recall correctly) which shipped inside boxes of Chex cereals in the mid-1990s. Fun!

Sunday, May 18, 2003

So today in Church we sang that song about the Bible salesmen.

You know: "Lord You Give the Great Commission".
Every two years or so we like to tune in about 1/2-hour of Saturday Night Live -- no joke, the last episode we probably watched was when Dana Carvey was on a while back, just before the 2000 elections. As far as sketch comedy programs go it's long been eclipsed by the likes of In Living Color, The Ben Stiller Show, MAD TV, Mr. Show, Cedric The Entertainer, and Disney's Out of the Box -- which isn't even a comedy/variety show: it's a show where kids play make-believe with junk inside of a big cardboard box -- and it's still more entertaining and well-written than SNL. When I heard Dan Ackroyd would be hosting the season finale, we tuned in just to see the new cast members and skits. Aside from probably getting themselves another letter from Bill Donahue for not only slandering Rick Santorum but misquoting him as well, there wasn't really much to write home about the first 45 or 50 minutes when we finally gave up. The show is still the same tired, drained, boring experience with skits that run a good three minutes (feels like ten) too long that it was the last time we tuned in. Daryl Hammond is funny no matter who he's doing and the guy they had doing Letterman did a good job, but there's really nothing there. What was the big post-monologue skit? A joke about how Irishmen like to drink and have a lot of kids. While folks in Ireland undoubtedly like to drink, as for the latter point you may want to check a source of Ireland's population statistics more recent than the 1973 World Book encyclopedia: Ireland's birth rate has been dropping same as everyplace else in Europe. But I guess that particular skit would've been extremely topical... anywhere from about 80 to 120 years ago.

So Saturday Night Live still is as limp and irrelevant as it has been for about the past 11 years (Jackie goes further than most people would, I suspect, and extends SNL's funny age to near the end of the Rock/Farley/Spade/Sandler epoch. Me, I break it off right after the Hartman/Jackson/Nealon/Lovitz/Miller age). The fact that it's still on is a kind of curiousity in itself. It's kind of neat, in a weird, morbid kind of way, to tune in a venerable comedy show and have it be so unfunny for such a long duration of time. You want to blame your TV almost for the show sucking so bad but since the TV is actually, itself, relatively new (within the past year or so), I really don't think it's to blame.

Anyway, that's done for another two years.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Since I can't go see The Matrix: Redux, I have to be content with playing out my own version of the fist Matrix, The Mo'Trix, in my mind. In this version Robert Townsend plays Neo and Christopher Reeve, wheelchair and all, plays Agent Smith. The bullet-time fight in the subway is particularly exciting in this version, as Townsend and Reeve fly at each other narrowly missing the other's head with bullets. I just haven't figured out how Reeve can shoot his gun. I guess it's another of the unanswered questions behind the Matrix. Fun stuff.
My shortest movie review ever.

"Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Opportunities"
Experimenting with some new sounds, that's all: "Belly of the Creep" .mp3 format, 1.2MB.
Overheard on Elmo's World:

"If balls didn't bounce, basketball would be boring -- and impossible!"

Friday, May 16, 2003 U.S. bans Baathists from ruling Iraq

"Okay, you liberated peoples can elect aaaanyone you want to be your rulers in your brand-new democracy -- so long as we get to pick the candidates. Is anyone not cool with that? Yes? You in the back? Please follow that gentleman there with the M-16. Anyone else? No? Good!"
Naughty Bunny, indeed! I personally think this is every PC-owner's deepest fear. Or something like it.

Thanks, RC, for the link!

WB renews Angel for a full fifth-season!!! And they get James Marsters (would've preferred that they got Andrew or 'Xander, but maybe there's a spinoff in the works for Andrew and it looks like Nicholas Brendan will be working on his own Fox show, and TV guide says that one of the "main characters" on Buffy will eat it next week, but not Buffy herself (darn), so who knows?). Cordelia, it sounds like, will not be a show regular which is probably not a bad thing. I didn't miss her that much when she was out for most of the season (being either in heaven or possessed or in a coma), and her character has lost a lot of appeal now that her catty days from Buffy are long behind her.

But yes! There will be at least one show on TV worth watching next season. More good news: Fox cancelled John Doe.
Barbara Nicolosi links to the 'blog of a real-life Catholic screenwriter, Disordered Affections. It's not updated very frequently but if you just found out that you'd be taking over "Judging Amy" for your sister who is going to be producing "Joan of Arcadia" in the fall (I'll tune in to watch it, despite the fact that it's not on the WB or Fox and will probably, it follows, not be wildy earthshattering or entertaining and not suddenly disappear midseason) you'd probably have precious little time for 'blogging, too.
Catch Me If You Can

So we watched "Catch Me If You Can" last night and... well, Watch It If You Must. It was a fairly entertaining movie but at 141 minutes it was at least 40 minutes too long. I don't think Steven Spielberg is capable of making a caper movie, in the classic sense, to be perfectly honest. Every movie he makes has to be An Important Film, which worked to the detriment of the youthful spirit of this particular story. I mean, who would hire John Williams to do the score for a frolicking caper movie (though Williams' score in this case is largely inoffensive: the main title theme -- and that's another thing: three minutes of credits before the movie even begins? That is *so* 1970s -- was actually pretty good)?

So "Catch Me If You Can" which should've felt more like Mamet's "Heist" turns out feeling more like Zemeckis' "Gump" (the story is so needlessly wide-spanning that Hanks' FBI agent character needs to wear at least three different styles of glasses to keep up). Spielberg also seems to hold onto the antediluvianbelief that the best way to get across the point, dramatically speaking, that two characters had sex is to actually show them having sex (of course we now know this to be true only in certain, narrowly-defined categories of movies, none of which I believe Mr. Spielberg was trying to make here -- cf. "The Bourne Identity" for how it should've been done: ie. more Franka. Just kidding). So he may be one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, whatever, but he's increasingly being left behind by the changes in the medium -- in my opinion. Maybe to you he's not a dinosaur (and, to be fair, I haven't seen "Everybody Runs" yet, which is supposed to be a great film).

Still props for including Amy Acker ("Winifred Burkel" on the WB's Angel) in one short scene. Okay, she didn't actually have any lines, and if I were editing the movie I would've cut that whole scene because it was needless so late in the movie (just have him addressing the audience and then cut to the airport and give me those five minutes of my life to do something I really enjoy), but watch chapter 17 (I think) where Frank is picking the eight Future Stewardesses or whatever: she plays "Miggy Acker" (just "Miggy" in the credits) and says "Yay!". Anyway, that was cool to see her in a major motion picture.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Britain thinks I'm being too harsh on the "Law & Order" franchise. Perhaps that's true. Perhaps I just need to wait for the Law & Order show that's right for me to come along. Perhaps I will have found my match when they finally get around to producing "Law & Order: Mall Parking Lot Patrol". Sound farfetched? Here is what a four-track demo recording of the "Law & Order: Mall Parking Lot Patrol" themesong might sound like (if it had hastily to be thrown together in under 15 minutes, that is).
So I'm staring at this story which I found on Fr. Bryce's 'blog and I'm wondering what the punchline is. But I guess it's genuine. Hopefully folks don't ask him to play anything by Elvis Costello and then start shouting "Hey, Abbbottt!" at him or something.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

I'm sorry but I can't agree with Salon, and Britain, and everyone on this one.

I can't stand "Law and Order". I find it humorless, dull, and, well, watching even a single episode of it makes we want to become an anarchist (who, as the great G.K. Chesteron so eloquently described in his classic work The Man Who Was Thursday -- or maybe it was in The Ball and the Cross -- are people who "throw bombs"). Seriously, if everone in the criminal justice system is that pompous, that arrogant, that conceited... they're all a bunch of jerks. The only wheels of justice I want to see working on that show are the 18 Wheels of Justice as they grind Sam Waterston's bones into a fine paste. Okay, and there are no demons, no quippy one-liners (I mean that actually are funny and that work... I'm not talking about the stupid "Looks like someone's dead and in a dumpster!" line that Officer Fossil, I mean Jerry Orbach, always seems to say at least once per show right before they play that cheesy "bongggg" sound effect), no Matrix-style fight-scenes, very little clevage (that actually works)... and somehow they still get away with calling it "entertainment". Come on! If I want to watch a bunch of vainglorious, uh, jerks (sorry, PG-rated 'blog) be boring I'll watch C-SPAN.

I'm sorry, but that's just the way I feel. Let me know when they show an episode where a bunch of good ole boys storm the courthouse with shotguns, shoot Sam Waterson's idiot jerk character dead, and then someone says "Now that's what I call law and order!" (or if the writers are really clever they could have they guy holding the shotgun to McCoy's idiot jerk head say something like "Who ordered the law?" and then BANG! and then, looking down the barrel of the smoking gun, he'd say "Order's up." heh... that'd be cool) and maybe I'll start watching the show.

Errr... See what even just thinking about that show does to me? Can you imagine how bad I'd get if I ever watched it?
I Bow to the Master

James Preece, Hero of Time, introduces the next Big Thing in 'blogging. And it's wayyyy beyond 'Plogging. Shall we call it... Zlogging? Any girl should feel just smarmy keen and lolly for a snog (or whatever they say in Britlish when someone is pleased) to get such a barmy and bazzin' anniversary present.

By God, James, give those Octorocks what for! And people say I have way too much time on my hands. Once you're done ogling that you may want to check out James' treatise on the origins of holy water. Informative and engagingly-written.

If you think those Game Boy Color graphics are too newfangled you may enjoy the awesome Nintendo Game & Watch page that Britain found. I had one of the Donkey Kong Circus panorama-screen games and sold it for $100 on eBay a few months back. I do have a complete set of the MicroVs. games, though (Donkey Kong III, Hockey, and Punch-Out), as well as Donkey Kong Jr., Donkey Kong II, Snoopy Tennis (with book, in box), and many more if anyone wants to make me an offer on those.
Fr. Bryce is right, those Matrix premiere photo captions are hilarious! This is my favorite, but the rest are good to. This one is funny. I can't believe that person, whoever he or she is, still has a job. Must be pretty boring to write up photo captions all the time.
The Roof! The Roof! The Roof is on... the house.

Because our roof has such a gentle slope, we have a gravel roof which means that every so often (well, okay, this was the first time) I have to go up there with a couple of fifty pound bags of pea gravel and a couple of cans of roofing compound to fill in some of the more exposed areas. That's what I did this morning (I've got five more 'BlogTones on my plate, if you're curious. They're also starting to get a bit more wacky and "unique", so keep that in mind). In doing the job, keeping in mind my fear of heights, I had a list of four well-defined, prioritized goals:

1. Don't fall off the roof.
2. Seriously: don't fall off the roof.
3. Put down 100lbs of gravel and roofing compound so the roof doesn't leak all over our stuff.
4. While accomplishing goals one through three, don't fall off the roof.

I'm happy to say that I accomplished all four of these goals. But as you can plainly see "Make sure no roofing compound gets all over the eaves, the walkway, or the patio furniture" was not on this list. Roofing compound is powerful sticky stuff, as C.S. Lewis once said. And it also smells like the freeway. And when you hit it with a garden hose it just turns brown and oily and stays stuck to whatever it's stuck to. So in a couple of weeks, once it dries and I don't smell like the freeway anymore, I'll probably be trying to scrape it off the eaves. The walkway can take care of itself and the patio furniture isn't all that bad and probably got off easy, all things considered.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

So it's probably somewhere between the part where 'Xander knocks Dawn out with chloroform (yay!) and the part where she wakes up and then hits him in the neck with a taser (boo!) that I begin to realize just how much the show has begun to suck (has been sucking, whatever) and just what a great dynasty the show's writers and producers have very nearly utterly destroyed over the past three seasons.

But then Angel shows up in the last two minutes of the episode and does his always endearing, always humorous "smug L.A. vampire" bit and all is good in the world.
One of the things I picked up today at the Borders Outlet/Remaindered Book Store (along with a nice, brand-new hardcover edition of Percy's "The Last Gentleman" for $4.99) is the CD by a group from Spain named Las Ketchup. They call themselves Ketchup because they are three daughters of someone named Tomate. This group is probably best known, worldwide, for a song I'd never even heard of before, "The Ketchup Song" ("Hey, Ha!") (and you can watch the video for the Kecthcup song, which looks almost like an episode of Baywatch meets "Tropic of Cancer" or something, there). I guess they're like Spain's answer to the Dixie Chicks... only they don't seem to play instruments (though they do a mean hand-jive). So there you go. It's not bad pop music at all. It's got a good beat and 'Xander can dance to it. And it's in Spanish.
The Oracle of Starbucks

Astrology is lame and Myers-Briggs is for losers.

Hint: don't enter in "large coffee" as your drink order, even if it's what you order, or the oracle will mock you. Actually, it seems to mock you (well, me, at least) no matter what I enter... it did catch that "big-assed mochacino" isn't a real StarBuck's drink, though. Clever, but spiteful, oracle.
Everything you ever needed to know about home/auto repair:

If something doesn't work, take it apart, clean it, and put it back together again.
If something electronic doesn't work, turn it off, wait two minutes, and turn it back on.
If something isn't moving and you want it to, squirt it with WD-40.
If something is moving and you don't want it to, wrap it in duct tape.

And that's exactly how it happened.
PromoGuy's Monday Mission

Skipping questions 1 through 5 and going right to the bonus question this week:

BONUS: Do you remember the 21st night of September?

Oh, yeah, I remember the 21st night of September! Why, if I'm not mistaken Love was changing the mind of pretenders, while chasing the clouds away.

Of course I remember! We're talking about the elements here! That's my group, since like High School. And if we're lucky, Rachel and Peter will be taking us to see them next month at the Ford Centennial.

Monday, May 12, 2003 Unexplained Rally on Wall Street

Unexplained? Could today be... the very day I unveiled my new 'BlogTones? I knew they would bring joy to the world, but I never expected this!

Speaking of 'BlogTones, if you've been unable to listen to the RealMedia formatted files, check out the 'BlogTones page. I've put an mp3 file there which has all nine of them (so far) in one file (the link is on the page after all the individual 'BlogTones).
Did they ask me if I wanted to be emerged in video games? No. But that's Sony for you. If they decide they're going to emerge Victor in video games, that's what they're going to do.
A rudimentary 'BlogTones Webpage has been launched. Come hear what all the fuss is about!

UPDATE: There seems to be some Mac compatibility issues (big surprise ;). I'm looking into better ways of embedding the Real file, as apparently there are sites on which this works, for Mac users. If you're an embedded wizard, please let me know if you have a better way of doing things.

Apparently things work fine with Apple's Safari browser (shouldn't they call it "Surfari?") so give that a try, Mac users.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

The Mighty, Mighty 'BlogTones

So far three of you have taken me up on my offer to create unique 'BlogTones for your 'blogs. Tomorrow, hopefully, I'll put together a 'BlogTone page so you can listen to all of the 'BlogTones yet created.

At the moment I'm encoding them as 8bit .wav files which mean that they do take up about 700k (which is quite a bit to download, especially if you're on a dialup connection). I'd prefer to do them as RealAudio files as that means better quality with less filespace. To this end, if you like, try listening to my 'BlogTone, below, in RealAudio format and let me know if this doesn't work for you, and if the .wav version (in the post below) does (this is my informal survey I'm doing). I'd really prefer to use RealAudio since it sounds so much better and is 7x less massive, sizewise.


If you happen to just love your custom 'BlogTone, please consider a donation of a couple of dollars. To this end, I've put a Donation button up there, just underneath the MastHead. A donation is certainly not required, of course, but it may just determine if I keep doing this or not.
Free Musical Logo for your 'Blog ("'BlogTone"), if you want one.

Britain, I believe, first tuned me into Eric Siday and his "Identitones" which were short musical phrases/electronic sound effects which he created as musical logos from everything from Maxwell House Coffee to CBS News. Listen to the Identiones Demo (1968) and you'll recognize that many of Siday's "Identitones" are still in use today.

So I got to thinking, since I have all this free time, wouldn't it be cool if the various 'blogs had their own identitones? If you're interested, drop me an email and I'll put together a unique, short (5-10 seconds) "'BlogTone" for your 'blog. I should be even able to come up with a way to embed the audio in your 'blog (I can host it here, if need be) and whenever someone loads up your 'blog, it would play your "'BlogTone" so everyone would know which 'blog they were reading.

My only requirements for doing this for you, absolutely free of charge (though donations are always nice, if you wind up liking what you get :), is that you have no say over what your "'BlogTone" ends up sounding like (sorry -- you don't have to use it if you don't like it, but I'll try to capture the essence of your 'blog, musically, to some degree. And if someone else winds up with one you like more, maybe they'd trade with you!) and you give me 7-10 days, depending on demand and my own schedule, to get it to you.

If any of you are interested, just email me and I'll get you your "'BlogTone", along with the HTML code to use it in your 'blog, within 7-10 days.

If you still have no idea what any of this is about, check out my 'BlogTones Homepage.

UPDATE: Legal verbage: Since this is just for fun, I retain all copyrights to any 'BlogTones I create (just in case I wanna turn the melody into a chart-topping dance hit later on or something). If you want the rights to your 'BlogTone for whatever reason, though, just ask me and we'll work something out.
Happy Mothers' Day to all you Moms out there!

I was going to write an ode to motherhood, but we're running a bit late for our brunch at the Fairlane Club with the in-laws. Maybe when I get back. In the meantime, mom's rock! Without them none of us would even be here. So kick back and enjoy your day!

Note: I was going to put links to all the mommy 'blogs I know of in this post, but I'm almost certain I would've missed one and then felt awful about it. So if you're a mommy 'blogger -- sleepy, Davey's, or otherwise -- and have any thoughts on mom's day, just pop a comment in the comment box below and we'll all check out your post!

Saturday, May 10, 2003

If you liked the "Poor Leno" video below, and even if you didn't, you may want to check out the other Röyksopp video featured on Astralwerks' website, "Remind Me". Besides establishing that electro is back to stay (this time, hopefully, for sure), the video is a wry and animated look on our metrics-obsessed culture, utilizing the metaphor of all of those colorful, cheerful diagrams and graphs you see in the newspapers (and on the news' websites).

I also don't know much about Gemma Hayes (other than the observation that she's probably not Issac Hayes' daughter), but I guess I'll wait for Fr. Bryce to buy her CD and see if he thinks it's any good.
Help Me!

When I was growing up I remember two games which looked really, really cool but never had the chance to play them. Unfortunately, I don't know what either of them were called, so I can't look them up online. If you were active in the video arcade scene between the years of 1980 and 1985, maybe you can help me out. The first game I remember was a side-scrolling race game where you played a little gnome or elf and raced, on foot, against a number of other gnomes or elves. The game was really cartoony (in a Bally/Williams sort of way, though I don't know if they made the game or not) and there were a lot of holes along the course (which was in the woods) for your gnome to fall into. In the other game you played a wizard in a long grey robe (I think) and had to make your way through a number of different rooms, each with its own collection of puzzles. Each of the rooms took up a single screen (a la Dark Castle) and I remember there being this huge eye in one of them.

Not much to go on but then if I had any additional information I'd already know what I'm looking for. Can anyone help me out with either of these? Nothing is at stake here except my own mental tranquility.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Spirited Away

We finally had the opportunity to watch "Spirited Away" tonight. It's hard to believe that both it and "Treasure Planet" (see below) share a common medium, as the two films (or movie, in "Planet"'s case) are very different. We both really enjoyed "Spirited Away" which, if you knew of Jackie's aversion to Anime, is really saying something. Some Western audiences may think that some of the characters and story elements in "Spirited Away" are a little weird, but if you're familiar with traditional Japanese religion and folklore such characters as the old witch, the water dragon, and the faceless monster who swallows people whole and then starts talking like Cliff from "Cheers" will be immediately familiar to you. My only hesitation in renting this movie was that Hayao Miyazaki's previous film, "Princess Mononoke" was pretty much a mish-mosh of several confusing stories thrown together without much regard for anything resembling continuity. I think the only reason my friends in the sci-fi/anime crowd liked that movie so much was because the American version featured the voice of Gillian Anderson. As a talking wolf. Tress MacNeille was also in that movie, apparently. You probably know her as the voice of Babs Bunny or about 100 other animated characters (including the voice of Lucielle Ball in "Weird" Al's "Hey Ricky!" -- though that's not an animated... never mind. She's our generation's June Foray).

Anyway, before I get too far off-track, "Spirited Away" is a beautifully crafted film and the DVD version we rented has both the English dubbed and Japanese original language tracks. We watched the dubbed version and it was done very well (in addition to Ratzenberger, you get David Ogden Stiers, in the voice department). The color palette used is really amazing as is the animation of all the various creatures (my favorite was Noface, of course). 'Xander kept himself awake and glued to the screen through the entire thing, which is remarkable because a) he's 16-months-old and b) he loses interest about five minutes into your average Roly Poly Olie show (and he lost interest in "Treasure Planet" about midway through). Anyway, it truly deserved the Academy Award it won and is worth seeing if you're any kind of fan of animation or want to see a fantastic movie filled with incredible characters and cool things to see. We both, I think, wouldn't mind seeing this one again, which makes it Highly Recommended.
Poor Leno

Britain is right.

This anime-inspired video for Röyksopp's "Poor Leno" is pretty darn cool (I like the part where the cute little Leno guy is running down the mountain, trying to get away from the helicopter -- poor little Leno) and the song ain't bad either. Actually, it's darn near catchy. Jackie just asked me if it was my new song. No, it's not, but I wish it was. I do think, though, that it's time for the Antares Auto-Tune effect (you know, the robotic vocal effect which first reared its synthetic head on Cher's "Believe") to die. And I'm not saying that because I don't have the $300 to buy one for myself. Well, that's not the only reason, anyway.
Yahoo News: Eminem Won't Allow Weird Al Video

"The only reason I could glean was that making a Weird Al music video would detract from his legacy as a serious hip-hop artist," Yankovic said Thursday. "It's very disappointing. This could have been my best video ever."

I don't know which is better: the story itself or the name of the reporter in the byline. I also note that other parodies on the album will be of Nelly and Avril Lavigne. Unfortunately, since I haven't been listening to much Top 40 over the last two years (chalk that up to two really good NPR stations in our area, one which plays Jazz and Blues -- even if they did fire the host of one of my favorite shows for dissing, on-air, NPR for its liberal bias and recommending listeners turn to FoxNews for war coverage -- and another that plays electronica and everything else), I'm not certain how much of "Poodle Hat" I'll "get".

And, please, no one tell me stuff like "Victor, how do you expect to be the next American Pop Star, or whatever, if you don't listen to what's currently popular with the kids?" I do listen to what's popular with the kids -- just... the really, really cool kids. So there.

Thanks, RC, for the link!

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Treasure Planet

We watched Disney's "Treasure Planet" tonight and I have to say that it is the most visually stunning Disney film since "Tron". The ship designs and art and animation were all around beautiful. And they did a nice job with the story adaptation and characterizations as well (Martin Short was actually very funny in this movie, which is something you don't get to say often). Overall it was far better than I could ever have hoped. Recommended.
Call me infantile but there ain't much in the way of malaise that a big bowl of Coco-Puffs can't cure.

Update: Truth. Perhaps.
Barbara Nicolosi is back (has been back) at the helm of Church of The Masses 'blog with some nice posts about, among other things, the new Jim Carrey movie "Bruce Almighty" which I had hoped had some deeper worth (like "The Truman Show") beyond just, you know, being ninety minutes of Jim Carrey being Jim Carrey (like "Ace Ventura's Dumb Pet Mask, Parts I and II") and I'm pleased to see that this seems to be the case. Nicolosi's archives aren't working at the moment so I can't direct link, but scroll down to Wednesday, May 07's entry.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Angel Comes Home

A very nice episode of Angel tonight, the season (hopefully not series!) finale, "Home". No big cliffhanger (they took care of the Big Bad last week and it was cool how they developed Connor's reason for doing that in tonight's episode, leading to Angel's sacrifice at the very end), just a very, very fine ending. There's not many shows where they could work it so the hero has to give up his son, whom he loves more than anything, forever and have this be the occasion for a very sweet and touching and positive resolution ("pro-life" in the most literal sense: what do you give someone who's entire life has been one of violence and for whom the only thing that is not an empty lie is death? Answer: a family), especially when one considers that this episode had some of the funniest lines ("Okay, I get the evil limo bit but does that mean you can't stock cherries?") and most surrealistic moments (Gunn is the panther, is all I can figure) and nail-biting suspense of the entire past two seasons (the siege scene in the sports shop was very stressful to watch), but Angel is a show with just that sort of finesse. In any other series the final moments would've been cloyingly played merely as a sentimental tear-jerker but in the context of the past two seasons all you can think in the final moments of tonight's episode is "this is soooo sweet; Connor has what he's always wanted": in a word the feeling created more than anything is one of coming "home". And it all works, dramatically speaking. And that's not an accident: it takes very tight writing, story planning, and acting to bring all of that off.

Very nice writing and direction by show co-leader Tim Minear (not much you can say about a scene where you have all the lead characters standing around doing and saying nothing -- no music, nothing -- for a good minute and a half and it works). When they release season four on DVD, pick it up just to watch this episode. If nothing else it'll serve as a history lesson to show your children what television, as a dramatic medium, was capable of at it's peak (I'm convinced that the days of really good television drama are now truly behind us, largely due to economic factors though also due to the fact that the viewing public -- on a whole -- no longer recognizes quality when it sees it and has lost any aesthetic sense it once had and now views television more as a medium of cheap voyeurism than anything else and where a "hit drama" consists of fantastical crime-scene investigators standing around saying ridiculous things like "this building will be our witness!"). You may not hear much about it now, but we'll be running across references to tonight's episode of Angel, and indeed the show itself, for many years into the future. Quality may not always be popular, but it lasts a really long time.

But you don't have to take my word for it: here is a capsule review of "Home" from The Boston Herald. "Could the hour work as a series finale? Perhaps. Should it? Absolutely not." Amen to that.

Oh! And for all you Buffy fans who don't watch Angel: a) shame on you and b) we learned tonight that Angel is on his way to Sunnydale with a case file and charm which will put the big hurt on The First. See? The Buffy gang can't even stop their own villian without some help from the better show. (not to be confused with -- which has a great new look, by the way: I love the main graphic on the music page) is one of those places that will market your music or something if you pay them some money. I haven't paid them any money, but sometimes it's fun to see who wins the various "Songs needed for Major Label Artist X" contests. For example, when The "Who Let The" Baha Men "Out" finish recording every song in the Disney Songbook and need new party anthems, what sort of songs get passed along to them?
And, yeah: while it has been a slow news day (I was going to comment something about the whole High School Girls Haze With Feces, Paint story but there's not really anything I could add that could make the story itself any more funny or sad, except to say that I hope that everyone involved all get bacterial infections and die or lose a limb, at the very least; which I guess is more sardonic or spiteful than funny... but seriously: too many people take antibiotics for granted) but I was busy with my dad doing some odd jobs around here (the old lawnmower works again -- yay!).

To sum up my feelings, a few posts below, on the whole ressentiment thing: we all know that Godless Communism doesn't work and it would seem that Godless Capitalism doesn't work either. We conservatives need to recognize this because sometimes we sound like total jackasses, especially when we talk to people like me -- out of work due to the unmitigated greed of criminals who will never see the inside of a jail cell. Maybe Godful Communism (am I the only one who cringes when they read that reading from Acts, the Sunday after Easter, with the whole "from each according to his ability to each according to his need" dealie-o?) is the answer. Though I'd certainly prefer Godful Capitalism.... You know, the kind where people actually have to take responsibility for their actions and therefore conduct themselves accordingly. Seriously, whatever happened to public hanging? Though even that's probably too good for the likes of Ebbers, et al.
Ah, the joy of being a scientist. The thrill of discover, the prestige, the honor! And also the long, luxuriant, flowing hair.

And yet, strangely enough, all of this is not even enough to make some people cool.

Thanks, as always, to Britain for the link.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

You know the rich are getting richer and the working class is, by and large, out of work when your car guy tells you that folks are bringing in cars with 140,000+ miles on them to have fixed, despite the fact that you can find great deals on one or two-year-old used cars. Folks who are doing well and can afford to buy cars are buying new ones and other folks can't even afford their used cars.

Like I've said: the past three months (and the prior year or so at WorldCom) have been a real education for me in terms of how our economy really works. I'm not saying that "Spaz", two posts below, has a valid point about what she's saying about Bush's tax relief plan because the truth is that any tax relief can stimulate the economy (and get me hired) but I'd feel a lot better if the crooks and rich dummies (and anyone who spends $60,000 on an automobile, like the butt-ugly H2, is either a crook or has more money than sense or both) were passed-over this time and I got my ten or twenty grand from last year back. I'd find that very stimulating.

All in all, I was a lot more pro-capitalist before I actually worked for them.
World Wide Web Words I never, ever want to hear again because they're stupid and meaningless:
  • Fisk
  • Snark(y)
Actually, that's all I can think of right now. "Wonky" will stay in my good graces for now as it has not been overused, despite the fact that they used it on an episode of Buffy a few years back.
Again from Mark Shea's 'blog: "Today, I live in an America that makes my stomach hurt and fills me with terror" by Jill "Spaz" Nelson.

Honestly, I don't think she could sound more paranoid or alarmist (and, okay, perhaps there are valid reasons to be alarmed and perhaps a little paranoid in this country, today, but Jill mentions none of them) or crazed if she were to add "and everyone is too busy picking their own bellybuttons to notice the fleet of Rylan death cruisers led by Lord Kril which has secretly abducted my innocence and then there was this one time at sleepover camp when Mother Theresa was playing 'Blue Bossa' on the tenor saxaphone while Ed Asner made merry with my womanhood -- which was the only time this whole country hasn't completely sucked in the last two years!"

In any case, Ms. Nelson should probably lay off the Red Bull for a while. That'll take care of the tummy burning and maybe a few of the less psychotic delusions. And I'm not saying any of this to be mean-spirited... not, at least, any more mean-spirited than Jill Nelson is when she calls me a "Christian bogeyman".

Though she has given me an opportunity to get up and shake my groove thang: "I'm your boogyman.... yes I am! I'm your boogyman.... yes I am!" Okay, my thang's all shaked out.
UN: Civilization is waaaaaay overrated.

The decision to make the cafeterias into "no pay zones" spread through the 40-acre complex like wildfire. Soon, the hungry patrons came running. "It was chaos, wild, something out of a war scene," said one Aramark executive who was present. "They took everything, even the silverware," she said. Another witness from U.N. security said the cafeteria was "stripped bare." And another told TIME that the cafeteria raid was "unbelievable, crowds of people just taking everything in sight; they stripped the place bare." And yet another astonished witness said that "chickens, turkeys, souffles, casseroles all went out the door (unpaid)."
Stupid UPN channel 50. Because of them it's NBA playoffs all night so Buffy has been pushed off until Saturday at 2pm or something. Grrr.
Thesis: That the decline of the respect for the human body and decline of morality in the latter 20th century and today is directly linked to the decline of the theater as a form of art, entertainment, and instruction and the rise of the "disembodied" forms of television and film as same -- nearly completely irrespective of content -- and that an effective way to bring back the respect and meaning for the body, and "traditional" morality, would be to promote theater as a form of entertainment.

Now if anyone wants to pay me $30,000, I'll develop that into a book, showing how the Pope would agree with me.
McSweeney's: Unused audio commentary for The Fellowship of the Ring DVD (Platinum Series Expanded Edition), recorded by Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn.

Monday, May 05, 2003

Bad Human Factors Designs
A scrapbook of illustrated examples of things that are hard to use because they do not follow human factors principles. By Michael J. Darnell

Some of these are pretty astute. And some of these, well, sound marginally Andy Rooneyish. You ever notice how Andy Rooney is coming off more and more like a feeble old person? A few weeks back he was complaining about foods which had too many flavors -- no joke -- actually complaining about foods which contain more than one flavor: "Here are some potato chips which taste like sour cream and onion" (direct quote). I could continue with my Andy Rooney-esque parody of Andy Rooney but my heart just isn't in it. He has funny eyebrows, let's leave it at that.
I would admit to being as annoyed as anyone by those new AOL for Broadband (tm) commercials which show the cowled Spanish monks getting around their vow of silence by using the new AOL for Broadband (tm) service to chat with each other (in English?) on their $3,000 laptop computers. The commercial is very annoying, to be sure, but there is one nice touch in it: if you look closely, the mp3 file that the one monk is sharing with the other one is an mp3 of Thelonius Monk. Some frustrated jazz fan in some ad agency had some fun with that one, I'm sure.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

"Go Ahead: Sweat the Small Stuff"

That's going to be the book I write one of these days. The subtitle will be "But leave the big stuff to God" or something socially redeeming or whatnot. It's the small stuff that I let get to me these days. The big stuff is just so totally out of our control that I don't even really see the point in praying prayers of petition anymore (in fact, I'm beginning to question the whole validity of prayers of petition at all: can we really ever change God's will? Shouldn't we work more on our own attitude of faith in accepting what comes, and make sure we react faithfully to whatever that is, rather than trying to change it?): now it's just "God, whatever. Thanks for the good stuff and we know you're taking care of us so your will be done." We don't even try to guess what His will is anymore because we're pretty much 0-5 guessing-wise over the last few months here. So, whatever. Just go with the flow. It's less stressful and frustrating and it saves time, too. Honestly: if I found out tomorrow that I have cancer I probably would just think something like: "Oh, well. I guess that's what happens." No point in getting worked up over it.

But the small stuff, that's mine to freak out over and bore the people around me with my endless tirades and complaints. Like this morning, I'm playing my favorite driving game (Burnout 2) and it's one of those games where everything is "locked" when you first start playing it and after you win a bunch of races you unlock more cars and modes and stuff. So I've invested quite a chunk of time in this game and had unlocked most of it. I just had one more gold medal to win in "Crash" mode (where you crash your car into other cars on busy city streets and freeways to try and cause the most expensive pile-up possible -- it's really cool) when the power goes out. Perfectly blue clear sky, no wind, and the power goes out. It comes back on immediately, and goes right back out again. This happens about five times in rapid succession and I think "Stupid Detroit Edison wankers playing with the power switch again: 'On! Huhuhuhuh. Off! Huhuhuhuh. On! Huhuhuh. Off! etc.'". So of course this afternoon when I go to play my game, you can guess what's happened: the memory card I had my data saved to is now corrupt (power hits while any console is writing to the memory card is bad, bad, bad but I guess no one told Detroit Edison this) and all of my effort has been completely lost. So now I have to unlock everything all over again and while on the one hand it's great because it effectively doubled the value of the game (since I need to replay the entire thing all over again) on the other hand it sucks because I need to replay the entire thing all over again.

The whole thing is just stupid. Anyway, if you are bored with my guile and want to read RC getting wonderfully snarky, check out this Catholic Light post.

Saturday, May 03, 2003

The Era of et cetera Trundles Ever Onwards Into Its Third Year

Congratulations!!! You, dear reader, have made this 'blog what it is today: active and updated more or less regularly. Without you, there would be no 'blog and so it is you that I thank and recognize on this day, the second anniversary of my 'blog.

Yes, two years ago on this date I finally took Mayize and Britain's advice and started one of these weblog things I'd been hearing so much about (though at the time you didn't hear quite as much about them as you hear now).

In that time I've been proud to be the one bringing you (among other things):
Those are just a few that stick out in my mind. You probably have your own favorites, too. I also realize that this 'blog has gotten a lot less political as the years have passed, probably because there are now many more 'blogs out there to fill that void which can do a much better job of it than I was doing.

Anyway, thanks again! I hope to be around, 'blogging, for the next two years, as well. Who knows what new facets we'll see this form of media develop by then! And for those of you keeping score, this here is et cetera post number 1,886 -- or something like that.

Friday, May 02, 2003

It sneakyed up on me!!!

Hey, everyone! Guess what tomorrow is! Can anyone guess what tomorrow is?

I'll have to do something extra-special tomorrow to commemorate this anniversary.
Karlheinz Essl's Playing Strategies

This is a random-driven text oracle that generates playing instructions which should help to overcome your internalized behaviour when composing or improvising alone or with other musicians. Those sometimes weird, but always mind-challenging sentences should be interpreted according to your own personal taste, mind and skill.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

"'Tain't a fit night out for man nor beast!"
I'm going to sit on my exciting new idea for a couple more days. I still think it's a good idea, but it could potentially mean a lot of work and I'm not sure I want to let the monster out of the box just yet.

Besides, there are bigger fish to fry: Britain reports that Lady Miss Kier (the washed-up diva from Deeeeeeeee-lite) is suing SEGA for modeling their orange-vinyl mini-skirted dance sensation, Ulala, after her own pink-tressed image.

"The similarities and likenesses are so close that viewers, listeners, and consumers were and are confused or likely to become confused between Ulala and plaintiff."

She wishes. Besides, everyone already knows that the real-life Ulala is Apollo Smile who gave Ulala her voice in the US release of Space Channel 5 (the second Space Channel Five game was never released in the US -- and you can blame that either on the fact that it was released for the Dreamcast in Japan right as SEGA was pulling the plug on the system in the US or you can blame it on the fact that American audiences don't have quite the same fascination with pretty girls and tentacles that Japanese audiences do have). This is a better Apollo Smile page.
There was a very fine article on electronic gaming in this month's Crisis magazine (either Crisis is getting hipper by the issue, or they're just getting more desperate for stories). Anyway, I really enjoyed the article and next month when it becomes available on their website I'll post a link to it.

And just in case that doesn't interest you then here is the sound of a lamb's "baaa" played really low on the keyboard and then run through several filters, delays, and reverb. I think I missed my true calling as a sound designer for sci-fi movies or something because this would probably make a really cool ship's engines effect.
It's only May 1st in Michigan and I already have a sandal tan! Being unemployed ROCKS!!!

Of course I'm probably ready to go back to work now anytime, too...
The Real Slim Something

Not much is known about the enigmatic Mr. Tyde. That is, until you visit his bio page. For it is there that you can learn more about the hottest Christian MC to ever blossom out of Homer, MI (population: 1,758. Homer also has a darn good pizza place right downtown, too, if my memory serves me correctly). But if it's his music you're after, you'd best visit High's page.

So a part of me is sitting around this morning and wondering "Hey! I wonder what it would sound like if I took the sound a lamb baa-ing off of my sound effect CD and put that into my software sampler. I bet it would sound kind of neat." And within about 30 minutes (it almost took longer to save the file as an mp3 than it did to throw it together) I had this: "Sheepy!" (mp3 format, about 720k), a track which illustrates why I can never get any "real" tunes done.

They've been featuring footage from this masively multiplayer online world quite a bit recently on Portal (last night they recreated the set and cast of Seinfeld in SecondLife) and it looks like, just within the past three days, they've opened up the world to public betatest which means that if you wanted to explore it and play for free during the beta period all you need to do is head over and sign up. It looks very, very cool -- but I don't meet the minimum system requirements.