Sunday, June 29, 2003

She has been missed.

Remind me to rent "The Trojan Women" one of these days. I haven't seen that since High School.
This piece by Mark Shea is one to remember.
Well, I'm still coming to terms with this whole "2-day weekend" thing. In my opinion it's not nearly enough time to visit with family AND write music. I did get a bit of both done, though, as well as taking care of the most important thing on my list which was taking 'Xander to the park. Hopefully I'll finish something up music-wise in the next week or so and have that for you to listen to.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Ughh... If you had asked me yesterday whether or not I thought there was such a thing as having too many barbequed ribs, I would've answered without hesitation: "Hell naw!"

Today, I am not so sure.
When you download the They Might Be Giants Clock Radio make sure you check out the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) band. Not only do they have a few new recordings of their classics rearranged for brass ensemble, but they have a new tune there called (as near as I can figure) "Am I Awake?". That song rules ("The coffee's cold now, did I forget to drink it yet?").
I'm not entirely out of the 'blog loop. I know, for example, that Barbara Nicolosi saw The Passion, of which she had this to say: "It is so good, I almost couldn't stand it" (and many other things as well, of course). After hearing her assessment I am now officially in a state of being unable to wait for this movie, something I haven't felt since the long, long wait for Star Trek VI to come out (after Star Trek V, any wait for anything which could possibly redeem the Trek francise was too long). I also can't wait for Paramount to revisit Deep Space Nine in either movie or tv format, since I can't afford to spend $700 to own all seven seasons on DVD, and because I still wonder, to this day, if Sisko ever gets out of that wormhole -- excuse me, "celestial temple" -- and what happened to Quark and Odo and Jake and Cassidy and Garak and Hot Dax and the O'Briens, of course (I could possibly care less what happens to Bashir or Kira)... but who knows how long I'll have to wait for that. Do you know, gentle reader?

Friday, June 27, 2003

I was going to comment on the whole Sodomy Law thang but I can't really say as I'm surprised: the Totalitarian Court turned a corner some 30 years ago which basically makes any arbitrary ruling possible (and increasingly likely), regardless of any respect to the natural law or the US Constitution.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to celebrate my new rights of privacy by biting the heads of many live chickens with wives 36 through 43 (several of whom, by the way, are underage male cousins of mine). And it's none of your business!

Anyway, Mark Shea has some rather more lucid things to say on the subject. I, like him, found it hard to believe that the Texas anti-sodomy law still even existed, until there was all the news about the decision. I wonder if there are many heterosexual couples in Texas who are anxiously awaiting the inevitible (well, not entirely inevitible, since this is still Texas we're talking about) repeal of the law ("The SCOTUS says you're in for a real treat tonight, Martha!"). Like I said (well, I didn't acually say it -- Mark did), it was a pretty stupid law to begin with.

Thursday, June 26, 2003


Vatican Museums Online

Not only do you get to see all the great art contained therein, but it saves you the walk around the outside of the Vatican from San Pietro to the Museum's Entrance (not to mention the plane ride over to Rome, as well).

This is an ideal application of web technologies and the fact that we're seeing this before the year 2080 is a real reflection on how readily the Vatican is accepting these new technologies.
Woohoo! My 'blog's 'Blogger interface has been updoodled (I wasn't able to post to my 'blog last night because it was busy updoodling). Not too much going on... just testing out the new interface, which is pretty darn slick (I especially like the way it tells you exactly which pages where published when you hit the publish button. For free, this is tres nice.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Keep in mind that the picture which accompanies the article was not intended to be used as a movie publicity poster. Nor was Sandler rehearsing a scene from one of his movies. No, this was a "real-life" wedding shot... which leads you to wonder how much of Sandler's schtick is really put-on and how much of it is innate.
I sure am glad we got this UPS for the computer. We hooked it up on Sunday and already we've gotten to "use" it three times as Detroit Edison can't seem to manage to keep the power on, despite the absense of any sort of inclement weather conditions. It is the first really hot week of the season, though, and they probably just weren't ready for all the AC units being turned on this week. Anyway, stop lights at major intersections were out near our house and the local CVS was closed because of lack of power. Oh yeah and people are acting like nuts, too, because of the heat.

Anyway, tomorrow is the Freedom Festival in downtown Detroit (Greektown). I asked at work if this festival used to be known as the "French Festival" (you know, before the recent unpleasantness) but I don't think everyone got the joke.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Heh, very funny. Are my comments boxes really that slow? I'll have to look into Haloscan when I get a few minutes. So much for putting the ol' 'blog on hold, eh?

Not that I feel like posting anything deep or illuminating at the moment. Chalk that up to these being the 'blog days of summer.
First day and I had fun. The commute wasn't the nightmare I thought it would be, so that's an added plus. It's 94-degrees outside, though... and that's HOT!

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Okay, here's the deal: I know I said I was going to give the whole 'blog thing a rest for a while but now I'm not certain if I'll be able to or not. It feels a little weird to be going back to work. I just realized today that I've been home with the family for over 1/4 of 'Xander's lifetime.... Granted, it's absolutely 100% necessary that I go back to work -- we'd be living in a box if I didn't -- but I still get that watching-the-parents-drive-away-from-summercamp feeling I used to get when I was 10. Just like at camp, I'll get over it in a couple of days, to be sure (and it just hit me right now how much I miss all my old coworkers, just talking to them at work about technical stuff and movies, working with them, etc.), but still....

So maybe I need this 'blog, at least for a couple of days, for normalcy in the evenings if nothing else. We'll see.
"I can't come back, I don't know how it works!"

Thanks to the outstanding genrousity of my parents, I'm back online! But just for the day. As promised (and I can hear the collective sigh of relief out there), I'm putting the 'blog on break for a few weeks so I can get into the swing of things at work (and work on fixing Dexter, our PC which is sick).

I would say check back in two weeks. You'll probably find some new stuff here by then (maybe even a new cartoon... you never know). I'll miss you all and your comments, but every good thing must take a break every now and then.

Please email me, though, if you have anything you want me to read or comment on or just want to say Hi: I would love to hear from you!

Goodbye for now!

Friday, June 20, 2003

Hey, everyone! Here's some sad news: I have to put this 'blog on haitus for a little while. I killed our PC at home (I'm at the library now) and it doesn't look like I'll be able to save it this time (I made that assessment sometime after the ninth re-install of Windows 98SE failed). Maybe it's for the best this way.

Anyway, I'll be checking in as often as I can over the weekend, email-wise, but if I don't respond to email right away, don't take it personally.

End Of Line (for now).
The Spanish Prisoner was on one of the Sundance channels tonight and even though I've already seen the movie at least three times before, I watched it again tonight. It really is one of my most favoritist movies. I don't know if it's Carter Burwell's superb score (he's done a lot of music for the Coen Bros., too) or David Mamet's off-beat and vaguely surreal dialogue or if it's any one (or all) of Steve Martin, Campbell Scott, or Rebecca Pidgeon's performances (or Ricky Jay's, for that matter) or the fiendishly clever storyline or what, but I can't not watch it whenever it's on. I also can't believe that I first saw that movie nearly four years ago. Where does the time go?

It's a toss-up as to which I think film is a better example of David Mamet's writing, Glengarry Glen Ross or The Spanish Prisoner but it's no question which movie I'd prefer to see again: it's The Spanish Prisoner. Everytime I watch that movie I pick up something new.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

This is kinda cute:

You can get a great deal on Skull Island... only $150 million!!! I'm sorry to see that the Xlaixu Global Disintegrator Key (in the "Doomsday Device" gatecory) has already been sold.
A nice write-up on Kurt Elling (ca. 1999).

I'm happy to be going back to work, don't get me wrong -- we were mere weeks away from the plane crashing into the mountain, so to speak -- but I'm also sad. I look at 'Xander and realize that I'll only see him now for about an hour or two everyday before bedtime and will probably not get to make him an egg every morning or take him to the park every day like I've been doing. It's sad, that's all.
Hispanic population grows rapidly

That far off sound you hear is Patrick Buchanan going "Duh!!" (or would that be "Doh!"?). Like I've always said, the Earth belongs to whomever would populate it. Our country is not exempt from that fundemental fact and since it is a such a basic law of nature, I have no problem with it -- even if it means I need to learn another language at some point in my life. Don't want to learn Spanish or Arabic? Have more kids and teach them whatever language you want. "Waar is het toilet, alstublieft?"

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

If I were ever sent back to the so-called "middle ages" I think I'd find myself saying certain things an awful lot. Things like "Would you like me to hazard a guess as to why your drinking water is making everyone sick" and "I know you can't see them, but they're there and the only way to get rid of them is to set your cloak ablaze!" and "If you expect your son to see dawn's light, fetch me a loaf of mouldy rye bread!" Yes, I would sure wow them with my knowledge that tiny little creatures called "bacteria" exist, even if I didn't know much about how to get rid of them. I only hope that they speak english otherwise I'll have to pretend that I'm mute.

Anyway, as the song says, "I love a rainy night."
"Weird" Al's "ALTV" special last night on VH1 was pretty funny, I have to admit. I certainly need to pick up his new album, "Poodle Hat", once we have some cash flow again -- if only for the Bob Dylan parody if nothing else (I hear there's also a Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention parody on the disc, too). I really enjoyed Al's re-edited "interviews" with Celine Dion and Marshall Mathers (the Eminem interview was priceless: "'Gender of rap'? Are you sure you don't mean 'genre of rap'? I mean, I don't want to argue with you since you're the Oscar-winning, critically-acclaimed wordsmith, and all").

Well, I'm off to orientation now but if you're looking for a handy place from which to stream my music and videos, check out my ACIDPlanet page. You can stream three of my cartoons there in both RealMedia and WindozeMedia formats.

I'm also thinking about shutting my 'blog down for a week or three starting next week, just so it's not a temptation or a distraction. I'm still just only thinking about it, but I'll reach a decision by Sunday.
Yay! Thanks to Justin Katz, I'm the Song You Should Know this week! This week it's "Shelly (The U-Scan Robot)" off of the Robot Love album. On the album cover it's just "Shelly" because U-Scan is a registered trademark of ... well, the company that makes those check-out scanning robots at the grocery store. I don't actually mention "U-Scan" in the song because that would possibly violate copyright... Anyway, the song was inspired when Kroger's installed all those U-Scan robots and I remember checking out through them and feeling sad for some reason. Here, finally, were cashiers which could never take a break or go home to be with their families. They really couldn't ever aspire to be anything other than what they were being used for. They really don't have a reason, no hope, to keep on going and yet they do keep right on going -- and so in some ways they are models for everyone who works (or who worked for the company I was working for at the time the song was written). When Kroger's put up a sign referring to them as "U-Scan Robots", it all sort of clicked for me. The whole "Robot Love" philosophy up until that point had been about "Loving the Robots" in a kind of '60s understanding of the term, you know "like, Love, man". But with the realization of the tragedy that is the existence of a U-Scan Robot, another layer was added to Robot Love (which became increasingly a commentary on the functional objectification of human beings, in addition to Robots), and I think I did that element of the (at that time) emerging philosophy justice with this song.

So head over to Timshel Arts (which is Justin Katz' weblog) and check it out!

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Thanks for all the really nice comments, everyone! It will be good to be working again. I'm still a little skeptical (that whole twice bitten or however that goes) and it may be several months after I'm working there (nothing's been signed yet) before I stop asking if I still have a job whenever I walk in. Well, retirement has been fun but it's a little too financially limiting for me to consider it full-time just yet. At least I know what I'm working for (even if it's backwards in this country: you don't retire until your kids are all grown so you totally miss out on playing with them and watching them grow up. I think people should retire from age 20 to 40 and then work from age 40 until they drop. On second -- and third -- thought, maybe that's not such a great idea). Anyway, as far as wacky songs and stuff goes, you haven't heard the last of me (though there may not be any new 'BlogTones for a while). I was able to do the Robot Love CD in five months while working full-time... I've learned a lot these past few months about what I want to be doing and that's not going away.

Anyway, on top of my own personal good news, there was good news on a more national and cosmological level as well. I'm no lawyer, though, so I can't really tell you if it has any chance of succeeding.
Thanks for your prayers everyone! They just called and told me they want me to start on Monday! I keep expecting them to call back and say "Oh, we meant the other Victor J. Lams" or something but so far no one has called to say that, so it looks like I'm going back to work (if I'm not premature in saying so). It feels a little weird, I will admit, but I am ready to come out of retirement, that's for sure.

Working full-time will probably cut into my 'blog and cartooning time (and I'm being facetious here) so don't expect anything wonderful and great for a while... I just feel really fortunate that I was given a chance to "discover" my interest in Animation before I went back to work. Anyway, I'll see what I can get done between now and Monday, though. Hopefully a song and a cartoon.

Speaking of which, that "Gomu Neko" program I told you all about last week is shaping up to be something really scary. My Robots have intercepted another broadcast and it's looking less and less like an entertainment show for small children and more of an experiment in social conditioning. In addition to some tweaks to the music this broadcast introduces two new characters: Helmet Kid and Quick-Drawn the Cowboy.

Here is the latest broadcast in Real format and in Windoze Media format. Both are about 4MB in size and, since my Robots had to compress the broadcast down in order to smuggle them off of the Gomu Neko battle engine, the quality isn't perfect (the Quick-Drawn sections appear to have been the most impacted).
Job interview this AM... wish me luck!

Not that I beleive in luck, you understand....

Monday, June 16, 2003

They Might Be Giants' "Clock Radio"

Here is a rather nice (and lengthly) streaming interview with John Flansburgh, who is one-half of They Might Be Giants. Very cool. Also check out their new "clock radio" -- which is billed as "hours and hours of TMBG pleasure" and which is actually a standalone Flash application which plays both live ("FM band") and studio ("AM band") recordings of TMBG, Mono Puff (Flansburgh's side project), Jon Linnell (Linnell's side project), and "People Are Wrong" (another Flansburgh side project) recordings, as well as providing TMBG info (on the "emergency band") and a nice clock for your desktop Mac or PC -- at The audio quality is superb and the installation appears to be very "clean" (just a single executable file for Windoze PCs, anyway). If you've been interested in checking out the band and don't want to spend any cash on their recordings, this is a cool way to do it. And if you're a fan, even a big fan, you'll surely find recordings here you've never heard before (they just played a slow version of Linnell's "Pennsylvania" which I hadn't heard yet). It's a very cool application of Flash and streaming audio technologies and is highly recommended.

And if that wasn't enough, Weird Al's ALTV resumes tomorrow night at 11pm on VH1.

So the music is very much alive... even if they did cancel the EWF concert on Friday.
Catholic Another First for American Education: 'Gender-Blind' Dorms

The true tragedy here is that parents actually PAY to send their kids off to these sort of institutions which are becoming less and less about anything remotely approaching education and increasingly about trying out new trendy social experiments on an endless supply of willing and confused teenagers. Why is that whenever anyone (colleges, universities, federal and state governents) want to test some doomed (and nearly always previously debunked) social experiment someone else always has to foot the bill in terms of both money and personal consequences? I personally think that the Wesleyan administrators, and everyone who thinks like them, should be given the opportunity (non-optional) to spend the rest of their lives in a non-televised round of Survivor. Then we'll see how they like it when someone tampers with the natural social order in ways which can seriously mess up their lives.

This is also why I don't "get" programs like "Paradise Hotel" (where non-fornicators get voted off the show -- by sole virtue of their inability to fornicate), In substance, "Paradise Hotel" is no different from your average "University Dorm". The premise of the show, in addition to being monumentally disordered (bordering on the pathologically so), is not even novel.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Arrrrrrrg! Thick as a brick? U. of I. invents one that thinks.

No, no, no, no, no! Just because a brick can "sense temperature, balance and vibration" does not mean it can think (although, as every first-year philosophy student can tell you, strictly from external observation, a thermostat can be said to appear to think). We don't want a brick that can think: a brick that can think is a brick that's capable of one day deciding that it doesn't want to be a brick anymore.
Happy Father's Day to we dads all! I don't really have anything profound or philosophical to offer on Father's day. If you're a dad (or a Father), you understand, hopefully, the responsibility and joy and how things that used to matter a lot don't matter so much any more (like if your entire CD collection gets ripped off the shelf and smashed to the floor) associated with being a father and if if you're not, you probably don't (and, fatherhood being something that can't readily be eff'ed, I won't waste precious words trying to describe it... at least not tonight seeing as how I'm so tired from picking up CDs).

Saturday, June 14, 2003

I'd just like to take a moment to say that I think I've got the best group of readers in all of 'blogdom. You guys are the absolute best! I love you, man!
As one who is 50% Flemish, stories like this just further sicken me. In my mind Beligium officially "died" on the day King Boudewijn abdicated the throne (though he was subsequently reinstated) rather than sign the 1990 law, demanded by parliament, legalising abortion in that country.

But at least it died with a great, though not widely known, demonstration of public heroism (imagine what it would take for President Bush to resign, even for a day, should the Senate not pass his tax bill -- even considering that a president has far, far less interest in their country and its people than a King does), which is more than you can say for the Netherlands. In any case, the Caritas organization over there, which runs the Catholic Hospitals could use our prayers now more than ever.

Update: Thanks to a commenter on Mark Shea's 'blog, here is a very good article about good King Boudewijn. And I didn't know Alice von Hildebrand was from Belgium!
As a parent, I can't be too careful about the shows my child watches. That's why when one of my remote spy Robots brought back this footage of a show Nick Jr. apparently has picked up from Japan, I was a little alarmed. The program, Gomu Neko, which literally translated from the Japanese probaby means something like "rubber cat" is 30 minutes long. What you're about to see is only one minute's worth of a typical broadcast. This single minute is pretty representative of the entire show.

"Gomu Neko" Sample footage, 1 minute, Real Media format (2MB)

I'll bring you more (and higher-quality) footage of this show as my loyal Robots bring it to me.

Friday, June 13, 2003

If you're not already a "Good Eats" fan, shame on you. And check out these Alton Brown audio and video clips from NPR.
EGM sits Henry Hill, the inspiration behind the movie Goodfellas, down to play some video games. Yeah, I didn't know EGM was still in business, either. But they got Henry Hill (who, before that day had played only one videogame in his life: "Bong") to play the recent crop of Gansta-based games... and Animal Crossing. Not surprisingly, Animal Crossing is the game he enjoyed most.

"Hey, I never had a childhood. Growing up with Paulie [former mob boss Paul Vario], you don't have a childhood. My childhood was taking a Molotov and throwing it through a window. If it didn't have dice, cards, or pistols, I never played it."

That game totally rocked. No wonder it's on roughly 50% of G4TV's G-Phoria lists (where you get to vote on the best game of the previous year in many different categories).
PS. I've uploaded a RealMedia version of "Farmer Joe" for all of you Real-exclusive webbites out there.

Tonight we go to see Earth Wind & Fire at the Ford Centennial. I am so stoked! I haven't seen the elements since 1996. Now, a lot of people think that I'm too young to be such a die-hard EWF fan. Looking at this picture of the latest incarnation of the Elements of Love Dancers, you may have a point.

Okay, okay, so those aren't really the EWF Dancers. They're liturgical-dancing nuns (according to Father Bryce -- scroll down to today's second post. Also see this liturgical jig Father found).

Getting down at an EWF concert: mandatory. Getting down in the sanctuary (as these photos show): EVIL!!!

Update: Arrrrghhh!! Rumor has it the concert has been cancelled because the ground is too wet! No fair!!!

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Prayer to Saint Michael

I really like illuminated manuscripts and I wanted to do a cartoon sort of in that style, with some iconic influences. And so I thought: why not make an animated prayer card? (So, stylistically, this cartoon is supposed to resemble a card cut-out/manuscript/icon-type thing). The Prayer to Saint Michael is one every human being on this planet should know but for some reason the only place I've heard it regularly is at our monthly Catholic men's group meeting. So here is your animated prayer card, complete with a brief taste of Celtic music, so you can all learn the prayer (if you don't know it already). Please pass this around to anyone you know who could benefit from seeing it (you can click on the "click this date to link" link below to get a convenient URL).

Michael, in Real format
"Prayer to Saint Michael" (35 seconds, Real Media format, 1MB)

"Prayer to Saint Michael" (35 seconds, Windows Media format, 1.2MB)

For a nice webpage with this prayer, please check this page at And if you're interested in seeing more cartoons like this one, just let me know (preferably by writing me a note of encouragement on the back of a $50 bill ;-) ). Maybe someday you'll be able to see these on TV!
Sorry about the light 'blogging over the past few days. As you might well imagine, I'm working on The Next Big Thing which should premiere here tomorrow morning, sometime.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

God, No.

David Alexander is in rare form today as he brings us this heads up on the US Bishops' review of a document on liturgical dance at their meeting in Dallas this weekend (scroll down to today's entry, Wednesday, June 11).

The only way to do justice to the post is to go read it for yourself. I defy anyone to stage this sort of abomination in front of Victor J. Lams for then they would learn the meaning of the word "crushed". Honestly, how much more wussification of the Mass are we going to take?
Lords of the Rhymes

And people say I have way too much time on my hands.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Mark Shea's archives aren't working, but scroll down his posts for today to read a rather nice summary of Canada.

And on that note, I rather enjoyed Peter Kreeft's characterization of Canada (in How To Win The Culture War) as a nation of "terribly nice" people.
Update: 'Thank you for your prayers. Xander's surgery went really well this morning and he's resting at home now. Supposedly the pain reliever they gave him was supposed to immobilize him from the waist down, but so far we've yet to notice that effect. The biggest challenge will be keeping him from running off and roughhousing.
Please pray for 'Xander... he has surgery this morning.

Monday, June 09, 2003

More reports (and here) on something I've been 'blogging about for over a year-and-a-half.

Once can only imagine what these hormones, present in our drinking water, are doing to male (and female, for that matter) fertility within the human population. Given how dense the populations are in Europe, and how prevalent BC use is there, perhaps that explains how Europeans have gotten so wussy over the past few decades (witness the EU, the wussiest federalist body ever). Nothing scares a wuss more, of course, than people who have some cojones, which explains why free and unrestricted access to BC is always part of the platform wherever you find wussies in charge (and why it isn't part of the platform wherever you find non-wussies in charge: say what you want about radical Islamicists but, by-and-large, wussies they ain't).
UPDATE: Prairie dogs tied to 3 more suspected monkeypox cases.

I know it's a potentially dangerous disease, but "monkeypox" sounds like something Chuck Jones would've dreamed up.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Jonah Goldberg responds to an incredibly nutty New York Times Magazine article about the organized "hip conservatives" movement but comes across as a flaming nerd (or whatever the nerdly equivalent of "flaming" is) in the process.

Don't get me wrong: it's a measured and precise response, but... well, it's just not at all "hip" or "deck". Okay, you ask, what would a truly hip conservative columnist have done in response to the outlandish claims of the NYT article? All right, I will tell you.

First you get the editor of the National Review (the print version) to agree to run a full-page photo in the next issue, without asking any questions. Then you get Victor Davis Hanson (the other Victor) to dress up in a black robe (and wig) just like Alan Rickman's Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies. Then you get Hanson to flip the camera the bird, like in that classic Johnny Cash photo and take a picture of that. And, finally, maybe in the upper-left corner put the word "Rebel" and then a line or two of copy that ties the photo in with the NYT Magazine article.

What? It can never happen, you say? Egg-zactly.
Saddam's weapons of mass inflation.

(Or should that be "weapons of volumetric expansion"?). Meanwhile, the real biological weapons continue to scurry around, unchecked, beneath our feet.

Question: Who, in their right mind, in this day and age, actually buys prarie dogs? That's not a zoo, I mean? From what I've learned from my Great Plains farming relatives, that would be kind of like a New Yorker buying cockroaches.
Was it just me or had 'Blogger been acting weird the past few days?

Either way, I'm back! Today I watched "Gate to the Minds Eye" which they had on DVD at our public library (a most wonderous place which contains, among many other things, the entire BBC sound-effects library on CD). This particular movie came out in 1994 and, with an awesome score by Thomas Dolby, was one of those features which spliced together a few dozen different computer-animated films without any regard to story. You were supposed to let the music and animation take you on a journey; this time the journey was into the gate to the mind's eye. I remember watching a few of these in the early 1990s when they'd come through Ann Arbor's Michigan Theater (an early-1900s movie house, restored and awesome) as Computer Animation festivals.

Anyway, it was really cool to see unique, creative computer animation from the days when the medium held such high promise. Don't get me wrong: the medium is capable of being nothing short of breathtaking still, these days, but it was nice to see such early, imaginative works. This as opposed to nowadays, when the pinnacle of computer animation seems to be the quest to more accurately render snow in fur or how to most properly light the idealized figure of a seventeen-year-old Japanese schoolgirl from behind.

Friday, June 06, 2003

I'm not really certain what I think of this product: ShowerMate. I hope whomever thought it up ("I need to come up with a product quick! Let's see... I have some clear plastic and some wall anchors... Now where can I... I know! The SHOWER!") is proud of themselves.

The video presentation is a nice touch, I guess. But, really: who drinks coffee in the shower? Or am I missing out on something here?
It's been a few weeks since I've done any new music, so here's a taste of something I'm working on. Since it's the weekend, put on those hot pants and go-go boots (I know you got 'em!) and get ready to frugue!

"Purgatory Rock (Demo)" (1.1MB .mp3 format. Right-click to save-as).
Peas Grow There

Some time ago -- I believe it was yesterday -- Agustine J. Hippo approached me about the possibility of producing a little-known Orson Welles' script, "Peas Grow There". The script (originally recorded by Welles and which appears to feature legendary writer/director/actor Welles struggling with horrendously bad advertising copy as he records the voiceover for a television commercial about frozen peas) seems to have originated sometime in the 1960s and has never been produced, until now, in cartoon form.

While the film you are about to see (if you have Real Player installed) does contain one or two instances of "PG-13" language, I feel that this is more than offset by its historical value.

Agustine J. Hippo presents Orson Welles' "Peas Grow There" (Real format, 2.4MB, approx. four minutes)

Okay, so Gus didn't really come up with the idea by himself -- and neither did I. Britain found the audio and suggested I animate it. After listening to it a few times I couldn't not produce it. So, thanks, Britain! If you'd like an .mp3 file of just the audio, check out the 365 Days project.
Please stand by

My webserver has been having fits today and it's preventing me from uploading some stuff I wanted to share with you all. Hopefully this will be resolved by this afternoon (but as it's been going on since yesterday morning, I'm not optimistic).

Thursday, June 05, 2003

McSweeney's: Journal of a new COBRA recruit.
New Cartoon!

If it's Thursday, it must be cartoon time! Today we have something new and different: the first cartoon ever featuring my two new characters Augustine J. Hippo (aka. "Gus") and Tommy. This first cartoon here -- entitled "Emotional Baggins" -- started off just as a test to see if I could get two characters talking to each other, the lip-synched and all that. The joke itself is pretty awful, but you might have some fun with it (note to parents of small children: 'Xander absolutely loves the little "hot-cha-cha!" at the end and has been trying to imitate it all night. You have been warned).

Emotional Baggins
"Emotional Baggins" Windows Media format, 1.5MB

"Emotional Baggins" QuickTime format, 4MB

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Woohoo!!! This rocks: Catholic Exchange is carrying their first article by Joanna Bogle!!

And it's a good one, too (previously published in Voices). One which speaks directly to my situation when I was a young(er) man, four or five years ago:

If you are a young man, you are not especially interested in watching other people's small children on parade, or seeing their cut-and-stick artwork on display. You do not want to listen weekly to a girls group playing the recorder and guitar. You are quite polite and will not be rude about all of this — after all, the children are probably quite charming. But you will just quietly slip away. It is not part of your world. And these displays certainly do not inspire anyone to contemplate the Divine mysteries of the Mass and the worship of God.

You may recall that I've blogged about Joanna Bogle in the past. It's cool to see that she's gaining an audience on this side of the pond.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Here is Mark Shea's article which appeared in Crisis magazine which mentioned my 'blog amongst many others.
Justin passes along a link to what has got to be one of the best Flash Game/Multimedia sites ever: Orisinal. What elevates these flash games among the rest is the amount of whimsical tenderness and polished design which went into each of them. Take the spider shooting game, for example: who would've thought that Silent Scope style gameplay could be so cute and artsy? Spend some time here and I gaurantee you'll smile at least once.
Catholic Light 'Blog has made the jump to a new server: No word yet on whether or not other 'blogs will be able to be hosted there. We'll just have to wait and see (or should that be "wait and RC"?).

Sorry about the light 'blogging today. I've been busy making "Farmer Joe" better. Jackie designed a new logo (we're calling these "Lamtoons" or "Lamstoons" depending on how you interpret the logo... every logo should allow for some ambiguity, I think) and I completely re-rendered all of the animation to look better in both the QuickTime and Windows Media formats (it looks a lot clearer and thanks to the re-editing I did, is more in sync with the music). Check them out (either in the links in this post or in the post below... the older files have been removed).

And if you do have QuickTime installed and ever wondered what goes on in the backyard when no one is around, click here.

"Farmer Joe" (Windows Media Format, 4.6MB)

"Farmer Joe" (QuickTime Format, 13.4MB)

Sunday, June 01, 2003

"Farmer Joe": The Music Video

Many of you are familiar with the song, Farmer Joe (it can be found on my music page, just in case you don't have the Robot Love CD yet -- and folks who do have the CD will recognize the Farmer Joe character from the liner notes). For a while now I've wanted to do a music video for that song, above all my other songs, but didn't figure that folks would want to sit through 2 minutes of me wearing overalls and dancing around in my yard (and if there's someone out there who does actually want to see this, I don't want to know about it).

Another dream of mine, since I've been about 5, was to be an animator. When computer animation came along, you could find me at the various Computer Animation Film Festivals which ran in Ann Arbor every year (this was about '91, '92, in that timeframe). Finally, I took the big step and checked out the various computer animation packages out there. Flash was too expensive and seemed not ideally suited for animation. There are some freeware 3-D computer animation packages out there but I really don't have the patience to build 3-D models. So I looked into Lost Marble's Moho program, and that seemed to do nicely.

I downloaded the demo of that program last Saturday and now, just over a week later, I have a finished cartoon. The biggest challenge wasn't in animating it (once you have the characters and backgrounds made, things go fairly smoothly and you can animate around 10 seconds of footage in just a couple of hours). The biggest challenge was finding out which video codec to use when rendering (well, and then there's the whole taking six hours to render bit) so I could get broadcast-quality avi files without filling up my remaining 8GB of disk space (MPEG-4 v2 works best). Then I had to find a free video editing program (MovieXOne) which could export the edited result onto my digital camcorder (I don't have a DVD-R drive) so I could watch it on tv. Once I had that, I could look into compressing the video (which is over 500MB in its uncompressed form) for online consumption. So it was far from glamorous.

I'm indebted to Jackie not only for drawing the background which is featured in the cartoon but also for giving up the computer (and her husband) for nearly an entire week while I worked on this. The boring title graphic on the video, too, will be replaced sometime in the future.

I hope you enjoy it! (And let me know if your kids dig it). Clicking on the image below will bring up the streaming Windows Media version. There is a QuickTime version for download (at 8.7MB) so please save-as the file if you want to watch it again (to save me some bandwidth ;).

"Farmer Joe" (Windows Media Format, 4.5MB)

"Farmer Joe" (QuickTime Format, 13.4MB)
"Farmer Joe" (Real Media Format, 4.5MB)