October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!!!

Yeah, try to top some of these jack-o-lanterns. I didn't even make one this year. Kinda sad...

There are, of course, other sites with neat pumpkin carvings, too.

October 30, 2005

The genius behind the ignorance...

Something a little less intellectual for those of you who don't want to go through my comments on the top 500 albums of all time. Here we see the true genius behind President W's alleged fumbling grammar. It's all PG and clean for work or school or wherever.

And, in a bonus, the main character has the same name as one my dogs. He's the one in the back, howling here.

Five hundred good and bad choices...

Yeah, so this article was posted two years ago, but I just ran across it, so I feel like throwing down a few comments here and there...

Four Beatles albums in the top ten? I agree that they were a phenomenal group, hands down the finest ever to make rock and roll, but I think Sgt. Pepper's is overrated - same with The White Album. Revolver and Rubber Soul are both better albums.

Blonde on Blonde and Highway 61 Revisited are deserving of the top ten. The latter continued the shocking departure for Dylan from his folk roots, the former is just a knockout - with "Visions of Johanna" being one of Dylan's finest songs.

Stupidly, I've never heard Exile on Main Street all the way through. And I don't even know that I could tell you which songs are on the album. I probably should give it a listen at some point, particularly since I love Exile in Guyville by Liz Phair so much.

#13 - Velvet Underground and Nico deserves to be higher. I'd honestly put it above The White Album but I don't know what else I'd move downward to replace it.

I don't get #17 Nevermind. I've listened to it a couple of times, and I just don't get it. Pearl Jam were the bigger band. Maybe it's a blind spot of mine, but I just didn't and still don't get the whole Nirvana thing.

The Great Twenty-Eight by Chuck Berry shows a real difference in how things were released from then to now. A modern greatest hits album wouldn't be considered for this list, but for many of the older artists represented here, they didn't put out what we consider traditional albums. They didn't step into the studio and record a cohesive dozen songs to be put out all at once. They stopped into and out of studios to record singles that their record labels might or might not ever release all together as an album

#40 - Forever Changes by Love. Who? What? Huh? First appearance of a band that I've never heard of with an album that's not ever mildly familiar to me.

Legend by Marley at #46 is the album that I most closely associate with spring afternoons at Wabash. We had a big house stereo system that somebody would invariably drag out onto the balcony or front porch and blast music all day long - either weekdays or weekends. And it seemed that at some point during every day, Legend would get a turn or two through the rotation. Great album. Probably the single view of reggae for 90+% of America.

A Love Supreme shows up with only three tracks and a feeling of drifting in and back, through and through the same music over and over again. It's a phenomenal album and deserving of its place. Reminds me of #19 Astral Weeks by Van Morrison. Both were very spiritual, both albums circled back on themselves beautifully, both are timeless.

Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart is another that I'm not familiar with. About the only thing I know about it is that it's associated with Frank Zappa.

I love U2. They're one of my favorite bands, and Joshua Tree deserves it's place in the top 20, but Achtung Baby is one that more critics loved than I ever did.

I'd switch Led Zeppelin at #29 for Led Zeppelin IV or II down at #66 and #75. The band's debut is great, no doubt, but they got better later.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is the only Elton John album that I've ever owned. I got rid of it because I didn't listen to it often, but it's a near-perfect pop album. A double album without any filler. Phenomenal. Just not my tastes.

October 28, 2005

Get a lid...

Just in case you were looking for a nice baseball cap, I'd recommend the Cooperstown Ballcap Company - the finest purveyors of old time and semi-current baseball caps in all the land. They custom make every hat to size and to match their historical research. Awesome selection of caps from every imaginable league, every time period, every possible city.

Thought they don't offer a hat for the Los Alamos Bombers anywhere. It'd be like my dream gift, better even than that Albuquerque Isotopes hat.

October 27, 2005

Quick hitters...

It's the first time all week that I've been home before 5:30, so I thought I'd celebrate with all of your folks by throwing out a few quick hit links:
The iBelieve
A replacement cap to make your iPod shuffle look like a cute little cross. iPod shuffle not included
We know nothing about ths issues
File this under the well, duh file because this is about the least surprising news I've read in a really long time. Possible voters don't really understand or know much about the issues on the Ohio ballot this November. The issues are wordy, long, and actually complex. Too much for most voters to handle. Check this website to learn more before voting, please.
Charter schools have to educate - finally
And file this one under the freakin' finally file. Charter schools have been marketing themselves as magic solutions to the problems of children at low-performing or parentally-disliked schools for a number of years now but have never been asked to prove that they're really teaching anything at all. Apparently, that's going to change. What a radical frickin' concept, folks. Hold the public schools accountable, blast them (and sometimes remove students) if they don't meet the standards, and then don't ask their replacements (charter schools) to meet those same standards. Morons...

I got a Philo!

That's right, buggers, I have finally been rewarded for my hours and hours spent slaving over the outstanding design of one of my webpages. I've been given a Philo!

I'm the co-coordinator of the PHS Pasta for Pennies campaign (we start at the end of January and hope to raise $40,000 this year in the three weeks of the campaign), and a couple of years ago I started a website to keep folks informed about our campaign. This past spring, unbeknownst to me, the other coordinator of the campaign entered the website into the Philo. T. Farnsworth competition in the category of best non-profit website in the four-state area (IN, OH, KY, MI), and feakishly, we won. Amazing to me.

There's an awards dinner coming up on Friday, November 3rd, but I don't think I'll be making it down to Louisville because of my school schedule. Pretty awesome, though. I'm kind of jazzed - even though Philo looks a little like Joe Piscopo in Johnny Dangerously.

October 26, 2005

Stupid humor...

With a scientific bent comes Doctor Fun to save you from the boredom of crappy internet cartoons.

Well, honestly, his cartoon's pretty hit or miss. I'll got three or four crappy cartoons and then find one that's funny. Take a while, they're quick reads.

October 25, 2005

The Leg-old time religion...

There are so many different religions that at least one of them's gotta be right. Admittedly, I haven't the foggiest idea which one of them it is, and I don't really practice any of them. But I'll readily put money out there that this one isn't the right one.

In my eyes everybody should be free to express their regilious beliefs pretty freely so long as it doesn't interfere with anybody else's beliefs. They can build a church and dedicate it to their cat. They can choose to illustrate their religion in populist ways. They can even build versions of their houses of worship if they'd like to.

Now, if only Google came up with anything neat when I type in
lego mosque or lego temple.

October 23, 2005

From the hills of Maine...

I'll readily admit it: I am amazingly proud of Wabash College, my alma matter.

And today I'm going to take the opportunity in this forum to throw out a few interesting tidbits and links to good ol' Wabash...

This morning I thought I'd check in to see how the football team is doing, and it turns out that they're 7-0, ranked 27th in the nation and first place in the conference with the second-best scoring defense in division III football. The team even got a chance to visit the Colts practice facility and speak to one Pete Metzelaars - Wabash alumnus, four-time Super Bowl participant, and former all-around division III sports stud.

I also saw a link to a story detailing various alumni associations' plans for this coming weekend's Wabash Day in which students, alumni, family, and friends of Wabash will be spending this coming weekend doing charity work all around the nation. Here in the Cincinnati area, we'll be helping out the Holly Hill Children's Service center by doing some brush clearing for them. It'll certainly be unskilled labor, but it's always good to give back to the community in any way possible. If anybody'd like to help out, I'd be thrilled to sign off on community service hours. Give an email if you're interested.

Apparently, I'm not the only one curious about Wabash. Looks like Details magazine has done a story on Wabash, just seeing what it's like to go to an all-male school. I can't find a direct link anywhere to the story since Details's website stinks.

Wabash isn't content with what it's got, either. They've recently done a study and went through a massive fund-raising Campaign for Leadership in which they raised of $136 million to help improve the campus itself. They also have an institute on campus that is designed to study how to improve the liberal arts education that they value so dearly.

And I'd like to give a quick shout out to a couple of current Wabash students that I have close ties to. One is Jay Horrey, a former student of my father's and a guy I've played tennis with a couple of times. The other is Nate Rutz, a swimmer and freshman at Wabash, and a former student of mine who I helped recruit toward Wabash. And you can even see me in the background of one of the pictures during the 2005 Cincinnati dinner - where I was recruiting Nate (he's got the blue and white floral print shirt on). Oh, and Nate comes from a great family, too.

And, you don't have to take my words for the glory that is Wabash. Check out some other sources:

October 22, 2005

Our greatest resources...

No, stupid, it's not friends...nor the Alaskan wilderness...not human capital...or even children...

I'm here to chat about books. I don't know that I would qualify as a bibliophile or anything, but I'll readily admit to having gotten myself lost in a number of great books over my years (to check my favorites, head over to my other blog). And in the past few days I've run across a couple of links that caught my eye under the guise of stuff about books...

First, there's the news that Google has begun scanning copyright materials again even though five major publishers have filed lawsuits against them. Seems that Google is scanning in major works of copyright material in hopes of building a massive database of searchable text from lots of works of non- and fiction. The publishers are afraid, however, that if Google has entire works scanned in, that they will eventually be available online in some non-paid form, and it sounds like a reasonable suposition. As much as I'd like to be able to find the exact quote from any book I want and maybe read a bit of the context around it, I understand the desire for copyright holders (I'd like to think the original authors might have some say in the deal here) to control their works.

This whole thing runs into such shaky ground the just didn't exist before the internet/WWW. Throughout our media age, we've seen media become more and more accessable: printing presses, telegraph, telephone, lp's, cassettes, VHS, cd's, dvd, now nearly instantaneous electronic transfer of anything you can imagine. It's tough to restrict the flow of something that people so clearly want more and more access to, and once that access is granted, nearly any attempt to put it back into its bottle just seems foolish. If you're a copyright holder (company, author, publisher, record company) who isn't thinking three steps ahead of how your media is currently being published, you're way behind the times. Good luck...

Second, in a celebration of the old schools worlds, Time magazine has released its list of the 100 all-time novels in the English language. A number of them are ones I'm not familiar with (Midnight's Children, Atonement, Money and a number of others), but there are a bunch of books there that I've read with varrying levels of enjoyement (wonderful: Salughterhouse-Five, enjoying: Animal Farm, respected but hated: Grapes of Wrath, understood but never loved: To Kill a Mockingbird, and reviled: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe).

Time even put out a list of the ten greatest graphic novels - only three of which I've read. Apparently, I've got work to do...

October 21, 2005


During my first year teaching at Mount Healthy High School, I had a student tell me that his name was Ambrosia. First day of class, first day for me at the new school, and I'm asking the students if there's anything they'd rather be called instead of the official name on the roll call. I'm expecting some Jimmy's instead of James's, a Mike instead of Michael. Instead, the kid says to call him "Ambrosia, because without me, the gods would die." Sure, I call him Ambrosia through about November when he asks me to start calling him Orange because he doesn't use Ambrosia anymore. Nope, you're stuck with Ambrosia. I can't even remember his full name anymore.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about. I'm here to talk about the glory that is friend dough - elephant ears, funnel cakes, doughnuts, fritters (the best in town), and any of a dozen other ethnic varieties of dough. The finding of this website - in my search for a picture of donuts to send out this morning as I lammented a co-worker's tardiness in providing Friday morning donuts for us - brought me to the Oso-Ono website, apparently a company that sells dough all ready to be fried, able to morph into any of a dozen different fried dough products, all with minor variations in frying method or seasoning. I'm a sweet breakfast kinda guy over a savory guy, but that's just how my tastes run.

As a general rule, though, fried dough is a very tasty thing...

October 20, 2005

Top magazine covers...

The American Society of Magazine Editors has named its top 40 magazine covers of the past 40 years. I wouldn't have been able to come up with any of the covers off the top of my head, but there are a number of them that I recognize and remember.

You can view the thumbnails of the top 42 here.

Tiny little movies...

I'm a junkie, I'll admit it. I check into Apple movies nearly every day. I've downloaded the new Quicktime just so I can watch the HD versions of the trailers. And then I end up with a giant list of movies that I want to see - not because any of them are likely to be any good at all, no, rather just because some monkey can work magic with an editing machine.

Today's favorites:If you're looking for other stuff, you might also want to check the buzz bin, and for a little lighter synposes of some great films, check the Angry Alien website.

October 19, 2005


On my test today in honors chem, I had some extra space, so I included the following list of words - all inherently funny to me:


And in looking - via Google, of course - for funny words, I ran across this Wikipedia article, and let me just say that I would love to hear the show I'm Sorry, I Haven't got a Clue.

Edited: Another link that I ran across while searching for some of these words was this language fun page.

October 18, 2005

Liberality for all...

The conservative right now has its ultimate medium through which it can convey its message to America's youth: Liberality for All.

In this new comic book, G Gordon Liddy, Sean Hannity, and Oliver North - true heroes, all - band together in a near apocalyptic future - to save the United States from "Usama Bin Laden's plans to nuke New York City...And wake the world from an Orwellian nightmare of United Nations dominated ultra-liberalism." Seriously, that's what it says they're doing. I promise that I didn't make up that phrasing.

And they've chosen as one of their "heroes" a man who would be 90 when the comic takes place and who is best known for being the leader of the most famous break-in in American history, an avoider of income taxes, and who has been successfully sued for libel. Another of their "heroes" was convicted of obstructing a congressional inquiry, sold weapons illegally to Iran, and believed that the Iran-Contra sales of weapons was a "neat idea". Oddly, Sean Hannity - a decidedly biased political commentator - is the finest of the lot, as he has yet to be convicted of a serious government-related felony.

The comic entertains me, but it's a little scary as well because it labels itself as some version of the truth - an apocalyptic future if "ultra liberal[s]" are allowed to continue thier destructive course.

Because we all know that pulling out of Iraq...or staying in the UN...or caring for people and voting for a reasonable living minimum wage...will lead to Osama bin Laden's naming as an ambassador to the UN.

October 17, 2005

In advance, I'm sorry...

I apologize in advance because I'm going to offend somebody somewhere along this post.

A bit of history so perhaps I might offend a few smaller number out there. I grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons. I spent many a weekend night or afternoon in a friend's basement describing what my level-seven chaotic-neutral elven ranger would do if he ran across a creeping slime in some dark dungeon. All of that is true, I'll admit it.

I know the difference between a d8 and a d12, can probably tell whether something's a d20 or d30 just by feel.

And about ten years ago, I went to GenCon or some other gaming convention in Columbus with a good friend of mine - Wayne - and his friend Prakash.

And while I was there, I saw the offshoot group of costume folks. In a group of people who most of society considers the outcasts (gamers), the cosplay folks are the outcasts from the outcasts. They've found their niche that they enjoy filling, and they seem to have a blast doing it.

Heck, the Sharonville library branch of the PLCH even recently held a cosplay night with prizes for the best attire.

All that being said, if this is how you spend your Friday night, and if you spend as much time getting ready for the night as these folks seem to have, then I'm suggesting that you pick up another hobby - maybe tennis, perhaps some frisbee golf, something - anything that gets you outside into the sun.

C'mon folks, a little vitamin D for the soul's sake, please...

October 16, 2005

Baseball - plain and simple...

It's probably the simplest baseball game on the web, and it used to be all over the place - though many of the links have begun to die here and there. Check out Steve A. Baker's baseball.

Another comic book blog...

As I always seem to, it all comes back to comic books. I collected them when I was in junior high and high school, finally cleared my dc-dominated collection when I first came to Cincinnati nine years ago now, and I find myself still reading a number of trade paperbacks from the library or spending time in the local bookstore grabbing a stack and working my way through on a Saturday afternoon.

Obviously, I'm not the only one doing this. Check today's cool comic book review and commentary website...

October 15, 2005

Two bits of news...

First, continuing my coverage of the ickiest fluff entertainment story of the calendar year, I report - from reading like a half dozen soources (I'm not doing any original research here, c'mon) - that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are expecting. To see a timeline of the relationship, head over here. And remember, there are doubts about the honesty of the relationship.

Second, a new James Bond has been announced, and it's going to be Daniel Craig, the suave cocaine dealer from the outstanding Layer Cake. Looks to be a good choice as Bond's heading back to his earlier days, and Craig should be a great choice for that.

Better comics reviews than mine...

In searching for a review of the new Catwoman title (check my other blog to see my take), I stumbled across this outstanding blog that targets the changing comic book readership, specifically the part of us who don't really do any monthly/weekly reading of the original comic books themselves, opting instead to follow the storylines through collected editions of multiple issues. If it doesn't happen in a trade paperback, it doesn't really happen in the comic book world as far as I see.

Another 5x5...

My favorite films with Wilco on the soundtrack:
  1. The Upside of Anger
  2. The Spongebob Square Pants Movie
  3. Me, Myself, and Irene
  4. Feeling Minnesota (better than #5 even though I've not seen it)
  5. A Guy Thing-possibly the worst film I have ever seen
My favorite Matt Damon films:
  1. Ocean's Eleven
  2. Dogma
  3. The Bourne Identity
  4. Rounders
  5. Good Will Hunting
My favorite comedy spoof movies:
  1. Young Frankenstein
  2. Galaxy Quest
  3. Airplane
  4. Naked Gun
  5. High Anxiety
Favorite movies that won the Best Picture Oscar:
  1. American Beauty
  2. Unforgiven
  3. Chicago
  4. The Godfather
  5. The Apartment
Favorite sports movies:
  1. Hoosiers
  2. Field of Dreams
  3. Caddyshack
  4. Bull Durham
  5. Tin Cup

October 13, 2005

Too many choices...

Ok, I know that I've crabbed about this before, but there are too many stupid choices from too many brands.

7up is a fine product. It's a classic, competing with Sprite for the majority of the lemon-lime market share. It's a fine beverage.

But apparently, it's not good enough. Ok, Diet 7up makes prefect sense. I understand the desire of some people for a sugary drink without the sugar. No worries.

I cna even endorse cherry 7up because it's tasty, and I guess if I take cherry 7up, I have to take no offense to diet cherry 7up.

But then things got weird. We have 7up plus cherry, 7up plus mixed berry, 7up plus island fruit, dnL (a mountain dew clone), 7up ice, 7up raspberry, 7up lime chill, 7up ice cola, 7up light, 7up gold, 7up orange, 7up tropical splash, wild cherry 7up, 7up clear raspberry, 7up clear orange...

Of, course, it could be much worse.

Why would they do that? Why?

Stupid facts...

It's clean, I promise. There are a couple of moments that come close to not being quite clean, but these guys dance along the line, so it's all good.

Here Stephen Colbert discusses his issues with bloggers and their darn facts. Check it...and feel free to search through the rest of the Daily Show archives. I make, of course, no promise about the perfect cleanliness of the other videos.

October 12, 2005

Smurfing the smurfs...

Seems like it'd be a pretty effective ad campaign. Take a beloved children's cartoon character, show idyllic scenes of the characters, and then carpet bomb them to holy heck. End with pictures of dead chracters and one crying baby character. Close with your message after everybody is shocked.

To see the Unicef video of the Smurfs being bombed to smurfdom, click here. It's certainly not as sick as it could've been, but I'm guessing that the ad campaign is working pretty well.

October 11, 2005

The hand of God...

Ah, castle...

I spent a fair part of my class time last year playing Castle or at least letting Castle play while I taught. The game's a pretty simple one: you're the hand of god trying to defend your castle by picking up and flinging everybody who runs at it. You get points for killing the stick people and for surviving the round. You use the points to improve your castle, buy archers, train wizards, convert barbarians, get workmen, and eventually, you don't have to do anything. The game can play itself as your castle becomes invincible.

I've included a picture of my best castle - just before the game got lost on my computer and I had to decide to start over or scrap it. I chose to scrap it. Notice that I had killed over 2.4 million stick people, had amassed 506 million points, and had 4440+ archers, 888 tradesmen and 888 wizards. There was really no point in playing by then.

Have fun, folks...

Again, this comes at the request of a student of mine...See, I'm a nice guy...

Oh, and if you want the FAQ and strategy guide, head over here...

October 10, 2005

It was a three-Earl day...

You know, because my social life is so hip and happening, the wife and I were at home Saturday night and caught three straight episodes of the new NBC comedy My Name is Earl. Overall review - pretty entertaining, but not spectacular. I'm guessing a short shelf life but a decent run during that time. For the snarkiness of Jason Lee in other things I've seen him in, he's a pretty endearing character.

I'd recommend the show for his kick-butt porn-star mustache if for nothing else.

Plus it does have Jason Lee, one of my favorite actors working right now. He's been great in the Kevin Smith flicks, quality as the lead singer of Freakwater in Almost Famous, and absolutely horrible in A Guy Thing - possibly the worst movie ever made. Terrible, horrible, beyond description.

And there's the presence of Ethan Suplee, Fat Willam from Mallrats.

There's also the presence of a character known pretty much as "Crab Man" - oficially Darnell - but better known as the Rubber Band guy from the Office Depot commercials.

All in all, it's a cute show with a decent enough number of laughs, nice little message (do good, and good comes back to you), solid sitcom material. Check it on whatever night it happens to regularly be on.

October 9, 2005

Shuffling again...

It's a Sunday afternoon, so that means I'm at school grading notebooks. I've got to start getting more work done during my plan bell.

Another visit to the shuffle feature on iTunes.

The first ten to come up at school:
  1. "Last Exit" by Pearl Jam - it's a little harsh...I like the more melodic Pearl Jam ("Who Are You", "Black", "Daughter") better...
  2. "The Ballad of Laverne and Captain Flint" by Guy Clark - a month or so ago, I was on an Outlaw Country kick, and this is the remnant...too much funky, late-70's rock guitar for me...reminds me of Jimmy Buffet (this song, anyway)...
  3. "Thin Air" by Pearl Jam...there's a lot of Pearl Jam at school...this is more like what I like best from them...slower, more tuneful...
  4. "Ride On" by AC/DC...probably my favorite song that they did...nice, slow blues...builds well...before Bon left 'em...
  5. "Can't Get It Out of My Head" by ELO...they're schmaltzy and over-produced, true, but there's something catchy about a lot of their work...I prefer "Goodbye Blue Sky"...this one's too sappy...
  6. "Georgy Girl" by Baja Marimba Band...I've got a thing for cheesy lounge music, and this version fits in perfectly...from the great Ultra Lounge series...
  7. "Beat of Your Heart" by Paul Kelly...his Words and Music album is outstanding...incredible guitar rock and easier songs from this Australian...woefully unknown of here in the US...
  8. "From Hank to Hendrix" (live) by Neil Young...I'm a big fan of Neil's easier stuff...though Silver and Gold went too easy for me...I'm not sure of Prairie Wind as I haven't picked it up yet...his Harvest Moon and this live recording from that tour are wonderful...
  9. "Mofo" by U2...ah, Pop...I think it's underrated...this isn't the best song of the disc, but I love that U2 are willing to experiment and see what they haven't done yet...give it a try...much better than, I think, Achtung Baby...
  10. "Jackie Brown" by John Mellencamp...from his fiddle and accordian music phase...this might be the best thing he's ever written...so much more moving and gripping than any of his hits...so sad, so well-done...from the greatest rock musician to come out of Indiana - Michael Jackson, not rock...Axel Rose, one great album...Hoagy Carmichael, not rock...
...And now we return me to my scheduled grading...

The robots are coming...

Phenomenal...twenty-three robot-controlled (not remote-controlled, mind you) vehicles set off across the Majave desert Saturday morning in a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)-sponsored race across the desert. Last year's race, the first, saw none of the vehicles manage more than 7.5 miles, but this year saw a large number of the competitors finish the 132-mile race.

The vehicles had to manage to cross dry stream beds, hills, rocky terrain, roads placed right next to precipitous drops, and three tunnels designed to knock out their GPS.


And relevant to our world because the whole driving force here is to have more autonomous vehicles for our military, vehicles that can cruise around war zones without endangering human soldiers. Kinda neat...

October 8, 2005

Bigger badder boxes...

Caught the last few minutes of this documentary last night. I've got my beefs against Wal-Mart, admittedly, as I've previously discussed on this blog, but rarely have I seen the arguments against Wal-Mart put forth so succinctly, so factually, or so elequently. Now I just have to hunt down a DVD of it (I don't want to buy the thing, admittedly). I'm off to the local library catalog, I guess.

(edit 10/9) No luck at the PLCH, so I'm going to keep looking. Got a couple of interesting things in the emailbox this morning in relation to this:

Pain and suffering...

There's value in the simple pleasures of the world. One that I tend to enjoy is the pleasure of a truly awful joke. The kind of joke that a third-grader would find funny, that everybody from about fifth through ninth grade would enjoy, but that people after that age start to find funny again. Not that dirty jokes aren't fun, sure, but I'm talking about the pure joy of a hammy joke. Take some time and read through some of the finest collections of them:

October 5, 2005

Extreme Sports!

No, not those lame guys from Harold and Kumar...it's ExtremeSportsClips.com. Admittedly, it's got its share of people being hit in the face or crotch by balls of all sorts, but it's also got some gruesome injury footage (the Willis McGahee injury against OSU comes to mind) and of some incredibly entertaining stuff like Matrix ping pong.

It's not perfect as sites go, but it's worth killing a few minutes. I do warn you, however, that there are a couple of videos that probably aren't school appropriate - nothing that wouldn't air on network tv, but not all nice stuff here and there.

Get some balance...

Just a couple of blogs to point out here...one is called Daily Kos: State of the Nation, and the other is called Blogs for Bush. Neither is in anyway truly balanced news coverage, nor have I seen either claim to be balanced. Of course, if you're only getting your news from one source - be it print, television, internet, or especially blog - you're probably getting a pretty limited picture of the world anyway.

Take a little time, make yourself more educated. Read the BBC news, CNN, Fox News, News of the Weird,or even Fark. Just educate yourself and get a couple of opinions on the world around you.

October 4, 2005

Showing some growth...and taking requests...

Got a couple of requests from a friend and semi-regular reader, and just to prove that I'm not a weenie who doesn't answer requests, I've added an RSS feed to the links over on the right side of the blog. Now you can have updates automatically delivered to your news feed - as we get closer and closer to EPIC 2014.

The same friend also took a dip into the graphic novel pool but choose an iffy title to start on - the Brad Metzler run of Green Arrow, a little too back-story-intensive for a rookie. So I suggested some other graphic novels that might be more in line for somebody who hasn't been reading DC comics for years and years. Many of these have already been mentioned over at my media blog (with its new RSS feed as well). In case you're a graphic novel rookie who's looking to start out in the genre, here are a few suggestions with annotations:
  • Superman - Secret Identity by Busiek and Immonen...does a wonderful job of turning the legacy of Superman into something that isn't too far from reality in our world...wonderful, moving touches of family and a love story that works well...the artwork is gorgeous, and the story very heartfelt...perfect opening act because it has no previous knowledge (other than the names Clark Kent and Lois Lane) needed or assumed
  • Sandman - Preludes and Nocturnes - by Gaiman...the first volume (shown here) isn't the finest in the series - it's good but not great - but it has to be read to get to the amazing run of stories after this...there are ten graphic novels in the main canon and three or four others associated...the story of the Endless, entities that govern emotions and change in the universe...one of the richest and most involved fantasy stories ever published, and not just in graphic novel form
  • Maus - by Spiegelman...as my librarian wife puts it, "if a graphic novel wins a Pulitzer prize, that's pretty good"...it's Spiegelman's father's story of living through the camps during the holocaust as told in graphic format...the Naxiz are cats, the Americans are dogs, the Jews are mice...it's hard to read at times because it is so well written...two volumes, the first of which is linked to here...numerous history teachers at middle and high school levels use this in their classes as it's an incredible, emotional opening to start to understand the holocaust...I'd also recommend, by the same author, In the Shadow of No Towers - Spiegelman's coping with the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy
  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - by Alan Moore...it's not the movie - which was awful...it's a classic in graphic novel storytelling, bringing together the greatest/most infamous heroes and adventurers of lore into a team meant to defend jolly old England against her greatest foes - Moriority, martians, Chinamen (not the preferred nomenclature, I know)...certainly not for the children as there are numerous scenes that are violent or simply not appropriate for a school-linked blog...but by the same token, there are more references to literary figures in this than in any other work ever...so dense with references and allusions is it that there had to be another book to explain them all...
  • Watchmen - by Moore...one of the greats of the genre...Moore takes the idea of superheroes and turns them entirely on their ear...beginning in a world without heroes, building up normal people in costumes until they realize the folly of their fight, and finally tearing the whole thing down with the most involved plot that I've seen...good philosophical thinking here and there...admittedly, also not for the kiddios...but Moore's stuff rarely is...no prior knowledge here at all because it doesn't connect in the least to anything else ever written...a singluar work in quality and storyline
  • V for Vendetta - by Moore...he's a giant, what can I say...this was one of his first graphic novels, and it may be his darkest...a very 1984-ish vision of Great Britain in which a terrorist/freedom fighter tears down the system and hands power back to the people...we never see his face, but he is eternal...not popular in these post-9/11 times, but soon to be a major studio movie with Natalie Portman...my adivce is to read the graphic novel before seeing the movie...I have high hopes for the movie, but this will be tough to top...very British in feel, basing many details on the Guy Fawkes plot...
  • Road to Perdition - by Collins and Lone Wolf and Cub - by Koike...I've not read either, but Karlen recommends both highly...I know that the Koike is very graphic at times...not for the faint of heart...and I know that the film based on the Collins is excellent...there are both two that I should pick up and go through but just haven't...
  • Supreme - Story of the Year - by Moore...Moore's response to the tearing down of superheroes in Watchmen...here he tells the origins and rewriting of Supreme, a Superman-esque (at the very least) hero whose comics are being relaunched...the character begins to notice the fabric around him beginning to slip as authors rework his history...one of the finest examples of metacomics in which authors write for somewhat self-aware characters...along the lines of Animal Man, Supergirl, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead - but Supreme is more well done...and it requires less in the way of background understanding...if you know the basics of the Superman mythos (Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, Superboy, Ma & Pa Kent), you'll enjoy this one...if those sound odd to you, it might be one to work on a little later...
  • Invincible - Family Matters - by Kirkman...you'll get in on the ground floor here of a teenage son of the world's greatest hero as he longs for and receives powers...wonderful family dynamics...great character book...neat artwork...great sense of light-heartedness (for the first volume, anyway)...no prior knowledge needed at all...
  • Marvels - by Busiek...gorgeous artwork from Alex Ross matches this very human story of the first years of the Marvel universe as told from the point of view of a photographer who saw it all...focuses on how the emergance of superhumans affected the lives and believes of those mortals who lived around them...touching story...photo-realistic art...
So, that should get you started...and if there's anything else you'd like me to recommend or change about the blog, give a comment...I'll see what I can do...

October 3, 2005

Because I can...

The first ten songs to come up on my iTunes when switched to random order...with some commentary...
  1. Love Bizarre by Michael Hedges - great cover of a great song
  2. Pan American Boogie by Kate KacKenzie - from my train songs compilation
  3. What is Hip by Tower of Power - nice funk, former theme to the Drew Carey Show
  4. Dance All Night by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals - not his best, but I'm a fan of Ryan in general
  5. Making a Noise by Robbie Robertson - great album mixing Native American rhythms with avante guard music
  6. Bar Lights by Whiskeytown - Ryan Adam's first major band
  7. Purple Rain by Prince - true classic, not quite When Doves Cry but still great
  8. Bone Machine by the Pixies - Karlen's a fan of the band, this is one of the few I like
  9. Light Up or Leave Me Alone by Traffic - so many songs by them that I like more
  10. Traffic Jam by Yonder Mountain String Band - great jam from a bluegrass/jam band

October 2, 2005

Another Star Wars parody...

Admittedly, this one's better than many of the myriad Star Wars parodies floating around on the internet, but I'll admit that the idea of a parody of Star Wars at this point doesn't really entertain me much anymore. It takes something pretty spectacular to shine above the morass that is Star Wars fan films.

Heck, there are entire contests of Star Wars fan films. There are bunches and bunches and bunches of fan films of this trilogy. Some of them are good enough to stand above the others, but most just cause us pain in the sharing of them around the world.

I'm a little confused...

So, Pat Knight has been hired as the next coach of Texas Tech's men's basketball program. Sean Sutton has been hired as the next coach of the Oklahoma State men's basketball program. Tony Bennett has been hired as the next head coach at Washington State's men's basketball program.

The only issue is that none of the three schools have openings for those jobs. All three are currently filled by the fathers of the new coaches: Bob Knight, Eddie Sutton, and Dick Bennett - three great coaches, all of whom still have years left on their current contracts, all three of whom are still being pretty successful.


I just don't understand this. Admittedly, there's been a movement of late for leaders in business to ensure that they have a succession plan in place long before they make their way out of the door, but this seems a fairly new development - or at least a weird fluke of timing for these three - in college basketball. Sure, it's been done a couple of times before - Joey Meyer following Ray Meyer at DePaul and Murry Bartow following Gene Bartow at UAB - but those two were disasters.

The argument made by Gregg Doyel in his column is that these three great - but old - coaches would start seeing a drop in their recruiting, as Gene Keady at Purdue did, if a successor who would keep continuity with the program wasn't named. Other coached would tell potential recruits that the old coaches would be out the door before the new player finished his time, hence the new player simply wouldn't come to those schools. He also writes that these three schools aren't traditional basketball powerhouses and wouldn't be able to draw the great coaches that a larger program could - Kentucky, Lousivlle, NC, Kansas, Indiana (dear god, please fire Mike Davis) - and the schools should do everything possible to guarantee that the current success at the schools continues.

My biggest problem here is that there are a ton of talented, young coaches out there who would give anything to have a shot at these jobs when they open up, coaches who have paid their dues at smaller schools and have worked their ways up through the ranks as it's been done for decades and decades. None of the three coaches-in-waiting have had any head coaching experience at any level. Each has interned under a great coach, admittedly, but they're going to be rookies when they step into the job.

I wish them each luck - well, maybe not Sean Sutton, but that's a beef I've had with his daddy since he was at Kentucky and left their program in a shambles that Pitino had to come in and clean up.

October 1, 2005

Chemistry and fun...a perfect pair...

I've seen the commericals a few times - admittedly, usually while I'm watching some cartoon on the WB, this morning's was The Batman, and I've been growing more and more curious about the new Hot Wheels Formulas Fuelers. It's looks like they're little cars or motorcycles that are powered by liquid-filled containers. The cool part to me is that it appears that if you fill the containers with some liquids - like water or other liquids, you get almost no speed. If, instead, you fill them with some "energy-rich" liquids, you get a much faster ride.

Sounds kinda cool to me. I'm thinking this is something that I need to get a few of an to play around with - like this guy did.