December 31, 2006

There's no B

I've hit the Beasties and Wilco tours of YouTube, and I figure I might as well drop a tour of YouTube with another of my favorite artists...Here's some quality Ryan Adams for your listening pleasure...

Most all of these are live 'cause Adams hasn't done many official videos (kind of like Wilco in that vein), so the quality is a bit inconsistent, but I've tried to choose the best quality enjoy...

"Winding Wheel" - solo acoustic

"Come Pick Me Up" from Letterman - less electric than the album version

At his commercial peak

"Answering Bell" with Adam Duritz on Leno

"Let it Ride" on Letterman

"New York, New York" - an official video with an timely setting and disclaimer

"When the Stars Go Blue" - another semi-official video

"So Alive" - official video from his rock album

"So Alive" on Letterman (I'm thinking Dave's a fan)

"New York, New York" on Letterman (again)

"House is Not a Home" - on Later

"Touch, Feel, & Lose" live

"Oh My Sweet Caroline" solo, acoustic

"Winding Wheel" - solo, acoustic, and on a stool

"Sylvia Plath" on some TV show

"La Cienga Just Smiled" live

Turns out that the Austin City Limits videos I was hunting for and had seen on YouTube a while back have been removed...darn that Google merger...

December 30, 2006

I keep seeing and reading and hearing - why?

More quick hitter reviews...

Batman: Gotham County Line is the first cross-genre Batman title that I've seen that involves a very strong horror feel. Here Batman leaves the heart of downtown Gotham to visit the 'burbs and finds himself well out of his depth. He's gotten himself into something that he doesn't understand as the villian doesn't - at first - appear to be a villian and draws Batman into a mystical world of undying victims who return to haunt the Dark Knight.

The tone of the story isn't bad, though I found the whole thing a little heavy-handed, opening with Batman coincidently exploring his beliefs about the afterlife before he just happens to head into a case that involves that very thing.

The mini-series isn't abad one, but it didn't do too much for me. We get appearances by Deadman and the Phantom Stranger, and the artwork supports the creepieness of the setting and tone, but the whole thing seemed forced to me. THe story didn't flow together.

I didn't get Superman - Up, Up, and Away. It's the first Superman trade from after the one-year-later jump. The basics here are that Metropolis has been surviving a year without Superman. Clark's been around, but he's powerless for some mysterious reason following the events of Infinite Crisis. He and Lois have been enjoying each other's company, and Clark has turned into one heck of a reporter now that he's been able to focus his full attention on that rather than on saving the world.

Ah, but Lex Luthor has been plotting to draw out Superman and - of course - to destroy him. And if the world needs him, Superman will be there...

The best moments here are the ones of Clark and Lois together, enjoying being normal people in love. It's a side of the two characters that we don't get to see all that often, and it's a nice touch. But we all know that it won't last. Clark is Superman, and he'll somehow shake out of things (in the dumbest way possible here - apparently he's powerless because spoiler alert he's been blocking his powers, all he had to do was to want to be Superman again. spoiler done now, thanks)

Geoff Johns has been a bit of a golden boy of late in the comics world, and his work here shows that he's got a gift for characterization, but the rest of the storyline doesn't ring with me. Lex is plotting against Superman. Meh...

Lex has found a way to bring a bunch of Kryptonite out to fight Superman (and it feels a lot like aspects of the recent Superman Returns flick). Meh...

And Superman rebuilds the fortress of solitude using some crystals. Meh...

The best thing about New X-Men - Imperial is the logo in the top left corner.

Apparently I'm stupid enough to keep trying to read X-Men comics in spite of the fact that I am so clearly out of my depth. I have no frickin' clue what the back story is or who most of the characters are, so I give. I'm sticking to the Ultimate X-Men from here on out.

And the artwork in the second half of this book was horrible - possibly the worst I've seen in a mass-produced trade. Blech...

It's been a month or so since I saw Capote, but it's stuck with me as an outstanding film. The pacing is a bit slow, admittedly, and it took me a while to get into the film - the one weakness that I would offer is that it lacks a grabbing intro - but once hooked, I was amazed at the pain and struggle that Hoffman's Capote goes through in writing In Cold Blood - the struggle of wanting the protagonists dead and saved at the same time.

It is an impressive portrait of a man who - according to the film, at least - was crushed by the effort of laboring over his masterwork.

The now-cancelled HBO series Carnivale (sorry for the lack of accent marks) is a fascinating but ultimately unsatisfying tale.

The wife and I worked our way through the first season in fits and starts - checking out all six discs from PLCH - and found ourselves thoroughly engaged in the storyline in which we follow a deceptively complex carnival travelling throughout the southwest and southern plains states in depression-era 1934. The storylines center around two characters - obvious opposite numbers as forces of light and dark - Ben Hawkins, carnie, and Brother Justin, fallen preacher.

The first season introduces us to the major characters and sets in motion plotlines which will clearly take years of series work to properly tie up. The series's Wikipedia page provides guidance as to where many of those plotlines were heading, but it looks like that's all we'll be getting as the series was cancelled after its second season. Apparently the show's creators had planned for a six-year run broken into three "books" of two seasons each.

But the story was not to be told, leaving everything torturously unfinished.

I don't know whether we'll work through the second season or not, knowing as I do now that we'll never get all of the answers. It's a frustration, to be certain, and it makes me pretty leary to recommend the series, though I am thoroughly hooked and would love to see the tales through.

December 29, 2006

Wal-Mart's genius

Insertion of up-front honesty: I hate Wal-Mart and don't have an HD television or even cable.

I love the recent ad campaign that is based around two main ideas. The first point isn't too thrilling and is probably true: that HDTVs are cheaper at Wal-Mart. I can't argue - or even support - that fact. They probably are, but that's no biggie to me.

The second, fact, however, thoroughly entertains me. Wal-Mart is putting forth the idea that they've taken the helpful steps of sorting through all the HDTV options and presenting us with just the ones they think we'll want.

It's a wonderful twist and a great advertising strategy. Take what might be otherwise considered a weakness of your store (in this case, the fact that they have a limited selection) and turn it into a strength (we've eliminated the painful steps of making you actually think about things before you buy). It's absolutely genius.

Sadly, however, I cannot find a copy of the radio commercial online anywhere so I could share the genius with you. Sorry, folks...

December 28, 2006

Sports is funny...

ESPN's Page 2 reminds us - at the end of the year - that sports is funny in a two part series dropping one-liners about true sports stories of the year. It's nothing much, but it's worth a skim through: part 1 and part 2.

December 27, 2006

What's this man worth?

Whiz Kid recently posted a short entry about Adam Dunn in which he pondered what sort of future Dunn has and in what direction he might be headed.

If you're not familiar with Dunn, you better know a Red by checking a profile of the player from before this just-passed season or by checking Fangraph's information on Dunn.

Whiz Kid's primary point is that the players most similar to Dunn - according to his page didn't exactly age well, and I think I'd have to agree with that point. Dunn's career progression isn't one that screams of rising star at this point, rather it looks very much like Dunn is heading toward being a very powerful player but one with little more value than an average hitter - and he has almost no defensive value at this point.

Now, Dunn's an entertaining guy, sure, but he's not one that I'd recommend the Reds signing for huge multi-million dollar contracts.

Sure, articles a couple of years ago suggested that he might be heading upward rather than where he seems to be heading now. I certainly respect the three true outcomes as much as the next man, but I'm thinking it just might be time for Dunn to be traded out of the Queen City while he's still got some value.

December 26, 2006

The Godfather has left us...

He certainly wasn't at the peak of his powers in his last few years, but his absence in the world will be felt.

James, how we shall miss you.


Super Bad

I Feel Good

Sex Machine

Living in America

Papa's Got a Brand New Bag

Usher & JB

Eddie Murphy channels JB


JB calls MJ up on stage

More MJ with JB

It's a Man's Man's Man's World

JB in The Blues Brothers

Georgia on My Mind

Old-school JB highlights

JB under the influence in a TV interview

JB, MJ, and Prince together on Google video

"Cold Sweat" on Google video from Soul Train

"It's a Man's Man's Man's World" from the Ed Sullivan Show

December 24, 2006

Reading and watching and screwing around

So much media, so little time...

These first few came from a visit to Barnes & Noble. Thanks, as always, folks.

I started with Ultimate Fantastic Four - Vol 6, and this continues the gorgeous and impressive work from the Ultimate line of Marvel's comics. I'm starting to think that the Ultimate line might be the best thing to happen to Marvel - and comic books in general - in the past decade or two. It's given me a chance to follow Marvel's greatest characters and teams without having to know every possible thing that's come in the past. Marvel, in particular, had gotten to a point where every storyline (X-Men's being the worst) required a reader to know the past twenty or forty years of the character's lives before any possible understanding or joy was possible.

In all honesty, the Ultimate lines are somewhat along that same line, but they only require a backlog of five or six years reading to understand where things are, and all of those backlogs are readily available in trade paperbacks from the libraries and bookstores in every city 'round the country. I don't feel like an outsider coming into the movie halfway through. I feel like I've been on things from the beginning.

This Fantastic Four trade sees the team cleaning up a few loose ends that had come before - Momma Storm's work with Victor von Doom and the Frightful Four still hanging around the offices. The twists and turns of the storyline, and the tale ends with a twist that left my jaw dropped and me thoroughly impressed.

Then there's the second storyline in which a time-travelling Reed Richards heads back in time to make sure that the accident that created the Ultimate Fantastic Four never took place. Instead, the world becomes filled with superheroes thanks to an amicable meeting with the Skrulls. By the end, of course, the status quo is reset, but it's an entertaining ride along the way.

The artwork on this entire run has been gorgeous. The writing is tight and well-crafted. And the fun just pretty much never stops on this Ultimate line.

Another entry in the fine Ultimate universe was Ultimate Spider-Man Vol 16 - Deadpool which opens with Spidey and Kitty Pryde (of the Ultimate X-Men, you know) swinging around town trying to find out how to have their normal identities date without revealing Peter's secret identity to the world. It's a nice continuation of Peter's relationship with Kitty and a really nice addition to the most teen-themed Ultimate series.

The meat of the trade, however, comes in a rumble on the mutant-hunting reality show that the Ultimate X-Men broke up a couple of trades ago. It's a pretty entertaining fight that gives the writers a chance to introduce a number of other Ultimate characters - Deadpool, the foremost among them - as well as to rant back and forth about the discrimination that the mutants are seem with.

All in all, a the touch of preachy isn't badly done. While this trade isn't up to the high quality of the Ultimate Fantastic Four, Ultimate Spider-Man is a consistently fun read, and would be a perfect introduction for any teen comics reader.

The rest of these are part of a backlog that's been building to such an extent that I can't manage to give every one of these a thorough review like these first few. So, short reviews are now forthcoming...

Superman/Batman Vengance - I love the artwork in this series, and I love the huge, dopey, almost cartoony feel of their graphic novel collections, but sometimes the storylines leave me a bit cold. They're not bad (I especially like the parody of Marvel's Avengers in this edition) - and some are in fact quite good, but this one's just okay.

The artwork is fun, though, and the ride isn't a bad one. But it's prettier than it is moving by at least half and likely by more.

Skip this volume of the struggle. The first couple are of higher quality.

Mirrormask - I'd been waiting to see Mirrormask for some time now, and finally found it at the Sharonville branch.

The film didn't, in the least, disappoint me. It was a stunning visual spectacle. The computer-generated effects that create the Dave McKean-designed dream world are phenomenal. The picture is amazingly gorgeous. The storyline is a little less phenomenal, but it certainly ain't bad. The story is a fairly typical tale of a girl slipping into a dream world and then trying to find her way back.

Pay attention to the story or not, but see the flick. Watch it, drink it in.

HBO's series Deadwood had Karlen and me absolutely hooked from the very first few minutes of the very first episode that we checked out from the library. We're only two episodes in, but the acting and storylines are thrilling. It's a fascinating tale of a totally lawless Western town where the local saloon owner rules the town like a combination warlord and loanshark and where two of the newest men in town - come to make their fortune in the hardware business - are just a little too straight and narrow for that saloon owner's tastes.

We get a taste of the historic - with Wild Bill and Calamity Jane - and a whole heaping helping of vulgarity (swearing and swearing and swearing) and violence. People die - typically in very hard ways, but each death - each fight - each foul word - each moment - they all seem to knit this viewer in more and more tightly to the show.

It's a damn fine series, but it's definitely not one for the faint of heart.

To Catch a Thief is an old-school classic, a Hitchcock tale of a retired jewel thief whose name comes up in suspicion of some new crimes committed in his trademark style. As could only happen in the movies, the theif decides to pretend to be a thief again in order to - ahem - catch the thief.

For some reason, I find myself having more and more difficulties watching older films. In comparison to modern films, many of the older ones - this one included - lack subtelties that I enjoy and that make for a richer experience. The story was a little flat and plain, a little too linear for me.

It does have Grace Kelly, a beautiful woman, but even her presence is little more than that of a wooden manequin.

Hitchcock had better films, and many of those have aged more gracefully.

Apparently, Superman: Our Worlds at War was an absolutely massive cross-over event. It must've covered a fifty-plus issues of a half dozen comic series. I, being a wait-for-trader of the purest ranks, so I didn't read any of those issues until they made their way into the trades - this one being the collection of the two first attempts.

I imagine that the event that was Our Worlds at War was a huge undertaking - for writers as well as for readers, both attempting to grasp the entire storyline, and even in collecting that storyline into one volume seems to be impossible, because DC has left vast gaps and holes in what is being told. Characters act and vow to never act in another means for one issue , and then by the next time we see them, something has changed (invariably something unseen by our eyes, something the editors felt was less than necessary to our enjoyment of the tale) and that same character is acting in the very opposite of ways. Alliances are made and broken with no explanation in front of the scenes. If we're lucky, the next issue might provide some recap of the events we missed - or perhaps there's been a page of story saying "while you were away".

Admittedly, the story has enough interesting parts to keep me reading my way through, but there are too many holes putting this one closer to Swiss cheese rather than to a slice of Kraft American. It might be worth reading from tip to tale, but it'll have to be done by way of the back issues than the trades.

I like JLA: Strength in Numbers grabs another couple of Grant Morrison's strong story arcs - the introduction of Prometheus and a second story about the loss of probability 'round the world. Plus we get an extra one-shot with Starro and Daniel, the successor to Neil Gaiman's Dream of the Endless.

The Prometheus story brought an excellent new villian to the DC universe, a solo individual who nearly takes down the Justice League at the height of their powers and fame. His defeat of each of the individuals is creative and well-crafted, and his eventual defeat - while inevitible - is also well done.

Morrison's run on JLA was an excellent one, and this is a solid middle stretch in that run.

December 23, 2006

Hairy-palmed little bugger...

I got a chance to check out Kevin Kling's performance poem "Curious George's Trip to Hell" on NPR this past week.

I especially enjoyed the couple of false-rhymes that suggested that perhaps dirty words were coming, but they never did.

It's a neat lil' comedic bit. Worth checking if you've the time.

December 22, 2006

Sorry, missed one...

I'm not a fan of Michael Bay's work. The Rock was probably my favorite film of his, and that's not saying much at all. After that we've got both Bad Boys and the horrific The Island. I will at least give him credit for using titles that are easy on the theater marquee.

And yet, I'm still kinda grooving to the newly-released Transformers trailer.

I know, the movie'll probably be horrible, and I'll complain about it for months, but it doesn't matter. I just might drop my duquets to see this one on the big screen. 'Cause the first images look pretty cool.

Oh, and sorry for missing yesterday, folks. Stuff happens from time to time.

December 20, 2006

Wither the humble chemistry set

A co-worker of mine sent out a request to me and another science teacher looking for an old-school chemistry set for her son. My reply to her was sad but simple: nobody makes them anymore.

I knew this because of an article in Wired from earlier this year. The article discusses the difficult situation in which we've placed the future of science here in the US. We find ourselves in a state of governmental fear, in which we much check on every person who buys any chemical because they could be a terrorist. And anyone not labeled a terrorist is instead, a potential paycheck for a lawyer who finds the right client - the one whose son or daughter lost a finger or an eye or a bit of flesh to a homemade smoke bomb gone awry.

And at the same time, we're trying to maintain our top standing in the world's science community - a standing threatened by European nations and a growing Asian science population. Without the excitement of children playing with chemicals, how will be replace the current generation of chemists and chemical engineers? Without the taste of sulfur in the air, why would any young person want to grow up to be a chemist?

Thank, heaven, however for the few companies that still make chemistry sets. Sure, the chemicals are less dangerous than what they once were, and lots of the sets aim for making things that are some combination of gooey or tasty or icky or makeup. Good lord. Chemicals are supposed to explode, not end up in your mouth.

And then are the saviors, the people who - in spite of the governmental hassles and the crack of dawn raids - continue to sell actual science materials to the public. Sure, they sell the licensed and often regulated parts of the public, but it's still selling to people like you and me. I'm talking about United Nuclear. These people are some sort of bastion of chemical freedom.

You can buy all sorts of reasonably innocuous but still amazingly dang cool things from them like aerogel, spinthariscope - check that one out (I'm totally buying a half dozen for my classroom next year), standard lab glassware, amazingly bright glow in the dark stuff, full one-pound meteorites, and phenomenally strong magnets. But they also sell the really cool stuff: uranium ore, radioactive isotopes - alpha, beta, gamma - you name it, and cloud chambers.

These are people willing to sell you and me stuff that is so freaikin'ly cool that I've gotta buy something from them just to support them.

And for some reason, I'm totally feeling the aerogel.

I want it, I want it, I want it...

And at first blush. If you really are looking for a chemistry set, I would probably recommend this one.

December 19, 2006

Under the weather

Why, he's the poorest, clumsiest excuse of all the creatures that inhabit this earth. He has got to be coddled and housed and swathed and bandaged and upholstered to be able to live at all. He is a rickety sort of a thing, anyway you take him, a regular British Museum of infirmities and inferiorities. He is always undergoing repair...He has just that one stupendous superiority--his imagination, his intellect.
~Mark Twain, a Biography

Mark Twain's quote points out that the human condition is one in which we are often fighting off infirmities and inferiorities - illnesses both physical and mental.

I don't quite think that is the case, however, and my recent bout with illness (cold chills, headache, sore throat, general fluishness) left me a few moments to wonder about this very concept.

We are an incredibly hearty species. We came from a dessert climate, down from more damp forests, and have spread into every possible nook and cranny of our planet, finding ways to survive the harshest colds and heats, the wettest and driest environments that we can manage - often just so that we will know that we managed them.

We have not been laid low - for long, anyway - by the most horrific diseases, building up natural or synthetic immunities - and often, in the process, making those diseases even stronger so that we can have new challenges to make.

Sure, from time to time most individuals of our species pick up soemthing that we have to fight off, but for the most part, we fight it off. It might take a day or two, or a week or more in severe cases, but we survive. And even still, our species isn't set up so that an one individual is so important that the survival of mankind depends on that one person.

We have diversified.

We have spread.

We have, in every aspect of the word, conquered our world.

We are the rulers of all that we survey and have to find ways to fight over which one of us has which plot of land, which source of water, which respect of whichever group because we have been so successful.

Bow down before us, for we are legend.

And someday, in spite of all our success, we shall fall. Nothing is forever, and we are no more permanent than were the dinosaurs whose reign we still have millions of years to go before we overtake.

And the world will continue in spite of and without us.

For all our hubris and success, we are but a blip on the timeline of Earth, third rock from the Sun. We might nuke the planet, turn the oceans and seas into toxic waste dumps where no life that we recognize can survive, heat the air until we flood ourselves silly while causing other parts of the land to freeze solid in response.

And yet life will out.

We probably wouldn't recognize the next dominant species as anything more than - at best - a mote of dust on our radar, but it will dominate our planet as have we. It will grow and evolve until it has neared or even overtaken our roles as terraformers, and we will be long gone.

If we're lucky, we will linger on as memories and legends, having tales told of our reign as we speak of the dinosaurs.

Let's enjoy this place while we've got time, folks.

Kitsch doesn't begin to describe this crap

Thankfully Julie's Tacky Treasures collects all sort of tacky crap. That's important because you just never know when you'll need to get ahold of a rubber band vest .

December 18, 2006

Don't hit the skateboard kid...

Today's game is a an entertaining bit of fluff with a nice techno-ish soundtrack, opportunities to lop off a few heads, chances to exact vengance on cell users, and ways to make old people pee themselves. It's a whole bit of fun, this game is.

Pay heed, however, to the title of this post, will ya, though.

December 17, 2006


Irregular Webcomic! isn't the best webcomic out there, admittedly, but every now and then it hits a funny patch.

The most recent funny comics were a few weeks ago with a zen joke and a decent Canadian joke.

But that's not today's post topic, instead it's the recent comic about interpreting four black panels. The author - some Australian guy, I think - goes through some decently interesting points about abstract art and your interpretation of it. Neat reading...

December 16, 2006

Words have consequences...

LZ Granderson has a reasonably new column worth checking out over at ESPN's Page 2.

He explores his feelings about the n-word, the one that got Michael Richards in so much trouble a couple of weeks back. In the column, Granderson announces his intentions to try to expunge that word from the casual vocabulary of sports stars and - to a lesser extent since his bread is buttered by sports - rappers.

One quote from the article comes from a white public relations executive...
"On one hand it's just a word, but being raised in an environment where you're taught to never, ever use it because it's so painful, and then see the people who are supposed to be hurt by it use it with each other all of the time, I think sends a mixed message. I'm not using it, but nowadays you hear Latinos use it, young white kids use it. … It's ironic that as the world gets more and more politically correct, you hear that word more often, not less."
And I fully understand and agree with those feelings. I was taught that the n-word was just about the worst word I could possibly use, right there with any swear word. But as my professional career has moved me into two schools that have African-Americans as the largest single ethnic group, I find myself in situations where it appears acceptable for certain people to use that word. The message that I get, then, is a very mixed one: the word is awful but acceptable.

If the word is to still hold power, if it is to still be viewed as a word that marks the user (in my case, it certainly would if I used it) as a racist person, then the word should not be used casually. It should be held in a vault, unreachable in all but the most dire and offensive of circumstances. Or it has to be used casually by everyone. This middle ground simply cannot hold.

By the end of the article, Grandseron vows to cut the n-word from his vocabulary and to ask influential black athletes to do the same.

It takes a brave person to discuss racial issues openly, and I applaud Granderson for being willing to take a good first step.

December 15, 2006

Math chuckles

All credit here goes to a student of mine who brought this in...

The question: A mother is twenty-one years older than her son. In six years, the mother will be five times as old as her son. Where is the father?

The proof: - highlight below to read

Let Mom's age = X
Let Son's age = Y

X = Y+21 (first statement)
X+6 = 5(Y+6)

Via substitution...
Y+21+6 = 5(Y+6)
Y+27 = 5Y+30
-3 = 4Y
-3/4 = Y

So, the son's age is -3/4 years...or -9 months...

December 14, 2006

Rube Goldberg Variations

Whole bunch of YouTube Rube Goldberg machines today...the first two of which I've mentioned before...

There's the spectacular Honda Rube Goldberg machine commercial...

And the compilation of the great Japanese show Pythagoras Switch...

The first of the new stuff is a Christmas-themed Mythbusters machine - complete with Mentos and a giant coke bottle...

A Rube Goldberg machine from the film Waiting...

Yet another freakish Japanese reality tv show...

An Indiana high school's Rube Goldberg voting machine...

A great Rube Goldberg pool shot...

A more natural, environmental Rube Goldberg machine...

A long evening's work...

Where Rube Goldberg can get you - on Jimmy Kimmel...

And a history of Rube Goldberg, in case you were curious...and you can see some of his works here..

December 13, 2006

Bad idea #56923

Ah those wacky Texans.

Looks like one of the nutcases down there wants to introduce legislation to make hunting legal...for blind people.

I often thank the lord that common sense isn't a requirement to be elected in these here United States of America.

Otherwise, where would our comedians get all their source material?

More linky goodness

So much good stuff on Transbuddha and Technically Overboard lately that I just had to point some of it out...not replacing my single original post a day, just augmenting it...

December 12, 2006

The Least of the East

Wow the Atlantic Division stinks.

I don't follow the NBA very much - mostly just tuning in during the late playoffs when the games start mattering.

And I know it's early, but sheesh...

The NBA's Atlantic Division stinks to high heavens. The team leading the divison as I write this isn't even playing .400 ball. New Jersey - your current division leaders - are 7-12, sporting a .368 winning percentage. Last place in the division is only two games back at .263.

The Western Conference, on the other hand, has only two teams in the entire conference that wouldn't be in first place in the Atlantic Division.

I know things are cyclical with divisions and conferences becoming stronger and weaker in turn, but the Atlantic Divison is absolutely abysmal right now. Wow...

And a happy 50th birthday to Larry Legend.

I think right now he could lead half the teams in the league to the Atlantic Division a player...

December 11, 2006

Too's just too big!

I've mentioned a few really big things before, but today's link is to an article that proves the simple notion that no matter how large you can make a chair or a plug or a house, there simply cannot be anyone big enough to sit in that chair, plug in the plug, or live in that house.

The article du jour comes from a organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago - or at least my minor research suggests that he really is one of those. Dr. LaBarbera's thesis is that just doubling a creature's height can be enough to make the creature a physical impossibility due to the increased mass, volume, and surface area that coresponds with the doubling in height.

LaBarbera does a very nice job of explaining this is non-expert enough terms that most laypersons (with some minor science and math background, at least, should be able to follow along.

None of this proves, however, that Night of the Lepus couldn't really happen.

Bunnies give me the willies.

December 10, 2006

Another list is wrong

I just get excited every time I see that some media outlet has come up with a list of the all-time top hundred (or ten or forty or whatever) list of pretty much anything. Lists are what I'm all about.

This time the list comes from Time magazine and collects the top hundred albums of all time. Thankfully, the list isn't in order. Those lists are always a disaster.

My thoughts...
  • Four of the finest albums of the 2000s come from long dead artists: Hank Williams, Sam Cooke, Elvis, and Muddy Waters. Seems a little odd to me as I think there have been some outstanding albums this decade so far. Why do we have to flash back thirty or more years to find the good stuff.
  • I hate the ideas of words of Eminem, but his Marshall Mathers LP really is outstanding.
  • Time Out of Mind by Dylan isn't all that great. It's a good album, sure, but one of the 100 greatest of all time? I doubt that.
  • I don't get Achtung Baby. It certainly belongs in the hall of very good albums, but I don't get the "greatest of all time" gig there.
  • Again with the flashbacks in the 90s: Wlvis, James Brown, Phil Spector all make the list in the 90s.
  • Good to see that Paul's Boutique is in from the 80s. It's the greatest thing that one of my couple favorite groups have ever done. Outstanding album.
  • Two Prince albums show what phenomenal highlights he had: Purple Rain and Sign O' The Times.
  • I love London Calling but hate, can't stand Rumours or Hotel California.
  • Five of the top hundred are Beatles albums? Three are Dylan albums? Two Van Morrison? Two Bowies? Two Sinatras?
  • Appretite for Destruction got absolutely ripped.

December 9, 2006


It's been a long time since I've been able to see WKRP in Cincinnati. I remember growing up watching the episodes with my parents who were huge fans of the show during its first run, and I remember videotaping the episodes when it aired on WGN in the afternoons.

It was a spectacular show with entertaining and well-rounded characters like the nebbish newsman Les Nessman, the smarmy advertising manager Herb Tarlek, bookish Baily Quarters, station manager Andy Travis, rock jock Johnny Fever, smooth night DJ Venus Flytrap, station general manager Art Carlson, and gorgeous receptionist Jennifer Marlowe. And those characters got into all sorts of sit-com situations that were wackier than the rest of the things that happened on other lesser sit-coms.

The whole thing comes down to the fact that the show was absolutely hilarious, and the characters were well enough written that you were actually able to care about them along the way. And it appears that it'll be a sever long shot that it'll ever appear on DVD because of the problems of getting licenses for all the various songs that were played throught the show's various intro and outtros.

Luckily there are dozens of tribute websites as well as episode guides on the web as well as freakish music videos out there.

Plus there are a whole bunch of clips available on YouTube:

Thankfully they never tried to remake the show in a more modern setting.

December 8, 2006

Everybody into the van

That's pretty much it, isn't it.

I've found my next field trip.
Now, if I could just convince pretty much everybody I know to give me like five bucks, I'd be able to get even less physical activity than I do now.
Who here thinks that'd be a great idea?

December 7, 2006

Oh come all ye faithful, kitschy and not quite right...oh come, ye, oh come ye...

Kyle was nice enough to point out today's bit of linky goodness to me. It's the Calcalcade of Bad Nativities - also with links to Angelic Kitsch, The Passion of the Tchotchke, and Stations of the Kitsch - all full of the glory of misguided commerical religion.

To which I would like to add the following two entires: a modern nativity scene and a Lego nativity.

Don't forget that today is the eve of Saint Nicholas Day. Remember to put something in all the wooden shoes left out in your house tonight...and apparently to scare the living crap out of the kids.

December 6, 2006

Don't blame me, I voted for #4.

Look like the Reds are running a nice little poll in honor of the unveiling of their new unis'. I do wish the #3 would be above #11 and #10, though. But I like the general results (highlight to see the order of finish as of 12/4/06: 4... 5... 11... 10... 3... 6... 8... 12... 2... 9... 1... 7... 13... 15... 14)

In comment, I agree with pretty much everything that Uni Watch has to say about the new design.

December 5, 2006

Less sticky situation

Looks like the USS Intrepid is now unstuck from the mud.

In case you'd been wondering.

My favorites

In case you were ever wondering...
My Favorite Decently Nice Restaurant in the Cincy Area
Knotty Pine on the Bayou
My Favorite Much Cheaper Restaurant Near My House
Waffle House on Cincy-Dayton Rd
My Favorite Fall Flavor
Pumpkin - hands down, easily my favorite flavor pretty much year round
My Favorite Summer Fruit Flavor
My Favorite Flavor Combo
Peanut Butter & Chocolate
My Favorite Candybar Snack
Take 5 - the original flavor only, the rest of the flavors stink
My Favorite Game of the Moment
Volley Pollo
My Favorite Movie to Watch Over and Over
tough call - O Brother, Where Art Thou and Hoosiers probably
My Favorite Fast Food Milkshake Place
White Castle - but the hometown one only serves chocolate now, blech
My Favorite Milkshake (non-fast food division)
Pumpkin malt at the Cone
My Favorite Cartoon (phenomenally vulgar division)
South Park
My Favorite Cartoon (superhero division)
Justice League Unlimited - new entry here, used to be the 90's Batman
My Favorite Movie Theater
Rave - edging out The Esquire based on recent more-commercial fare at the Esquire
My Favorite Candle Scent
Any spice-ish thing...pumpkin, cookie, vanilla, harvest, apple pie...nothing with flowers
My Favorite Ultimate Series
Ultimate Fantastic Four
My Favorite Season
summer - no school
My Favorite Sport to Play
Favorite Sport to Watch
Tennis, again, though high school basketball is a near second
My Favorite TV Series (current)
The Office or Scrubs, probably The Office
My Favorite Basketball Player
The Basketball Jesus
My Favorite Joke
The Thor Joke
My Favorite Web Comic
Order of the Stick
My Favorite Food
steak - nothing fancy, just a very nicely grilled, medium-rare steak with olive oil, salt, and pepper (or Montreal Steak seasoning)
My Favorite Color
What am I, like four years old?
My Favorite Movie
The Muppet Movie
My Favorite Country (non-US division)
My Favorite Friend That I've Recently Reconnected With
Kristin Butler ne Reichow
My Favorite Temptation (today division)
chicken fried bacon
My Favorite Thing to Do This Time of the Year
Sit on the couch, late at night, snuggled with the dog, watching the Christmas tree with my glasses off
My Favorite Park
Turkey Run State Park
My Favorite Dessert (non-Pumpkin Pie division)
Tiramisu - possibly tiramisu gelato
Mr Favorite Band
My Favorite Guitarist
Richard Thompson
My Favorite Pudgy Comic Book Geek Turned Famous Movie Director
Kevin Smith
My Favorite Cooking Magazine
Cook's Illustrated
My Favorite Sunday Morning Breakfast
Cook's Illustrated's french toast
My Favorite Book
I'd like to say Electric Brae but I haven't read it in a few I'll go with one I read about once a year: Slaughterhouse 5
My Favorite Side Dish
Cook's Illustrated's roast potatoes
My Favorite Cookbook
The Best Recipe
My Favorite Single Issue Comic Book Story
Action Comics #775
My Favorite Graphic Novel
either Watchmen or Superman: Secret Identity
My Favorite Taco Bell Item
Carmel Apple Empanada
My Favorite Gift Ever
my pepper mill
My Favorite Online Service
gmail and google calendar
My Favorite School Cartoon from Chilhood
Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land
My Favorite Use of Tax Money
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (PLCH)
My Favorite Taste of Scotland
McVitie's Dark Chocolate Homewheats

The following have been added since the original post...

My Favorite Author
Chuck Palahniuk
My Favorite Sit-Com (no longer on the air division)
Mad About You
Anything else that anybody wants to know?

December 4, 2006

Common courtesy dies at the altar of constant contact

We are not a nice people any more.

Friday night, the wife and I stopped at PF Chang's to grab some take-out fare. We placed our order, dropped a few bucks into the Chang coffers, and headed down the strip to browse while our dan dan noodles were fixed up, chop chop.

When we got back - after sampling Coldstone's pumpkin ice cream (a favorite flavor of mine but not the best pumpkin around, honestly) - we had to wait for another patron to pay for her take-out before we could grab our stuff and head home for a night of watching Deadwood on library-procured DVD.

Ah, and waiting for that woman was a true pleasure.

She was texting on her Razor phone the whole time, never once speaking to the Chang's employee, slapping her credit card down on the counter instead of handing it across or even sliding it close to the employee. The woman then continued to stand in the food waiting area texting on her phone, partially blocking the server door into the kitchen.

On the way out, I asked Karlen whether she thought that our generation is/would be viewed as rude by the generation that came before us, whether we have lost some of the social graces that older folks might've had. She pointed out that the woman in line before us wasn't of our generation - being probably ten to fifteen years older than we.

My question, however, was a more general one: are we less curtious than the generations before us?

For example, I was in PF Chang's wearing a sweatshirt and baseball cap because it's my typical weekend outfit. I certainly wasn't dressed for a sit-down dinner in the restaurant, but I was just dropping off an order and picking up food. I wouldn't even have considered sitting down in the restaurant wearing a ballcap nor in the sweatshirt that I was wearing (my oldest, trashiest Wabash one). Someone from my grandfather's generation, however, likely wouldn't have considered even stepping into the restaurant with a hat on head, but I kept it on while I ordered and picked up the food.

Are we less curtious? Have times changed?

Sure, both are true, and it gets to the heart of the matter, I guess, in that it's a difficult thing to attempt to judge other people. Each of them - whether they're someone as lke us as was the woman in PF Chang's with me or a Borneo native who has never seen a restaurant much less a Chang's. How am I to judge someone from another culture - be they from another nation or simply from another era or generation? Am I to give them a free pass with the disclaimer that they're not wrong, they're just from a different culture or do I have some ability to say that my culture is somehow better and that their actions are, in light of my cultural background, somehow wrong or bad or at least less correct?

If I don't have that ability - if cultural relativism truly is the rule of the day, then what rights do I have to tell the student in the hallway outside of my door to not tell his friend to shut the f*&^ up? How do I explain the distinction between an appropriate action within the school culture without somehow also saying that his action is not ok? without devaluing his culture?

And why didn't I say something to the woman on the cell phone if I do have the right to judge someone else?

Why did I, instead, simply discuss the issue with Karlen, not even doing as I had initially planned and apologizing to the PF Chang employee on the rude woman's behalf?

The last is the easiest to answer: because when she took our money and gave us our order, she immediately had to answer a call-in order on the phone right next to her.

If you do feel like juding, feel free to first check out these links about cell phone etiquette...from Microsoft's website...from Road & Travel Magazine

December 3, 2006

A touchy subject

There are so many things throughout modern times that make me wonder just how far we're taking the ethos of every man created equal in America these days and whether it's a good thing or not. There are the increasing rates of IEPs and 504 plans, the general culture of entitlement, the requirements for many things in multiple languages, and now a recent court decision has said that paper bills in the US have to be redesigned to allow blind people to differentiate them from each other.

Possible redesigns that have been suggested in various news sources that I've found include texturing the numbers, printing the bills in different sizes, perforating the bills in certain patterns, and my favorite - imbedding a chip that would speak the bill's denomination when brough near a RFID reader.

Hopefully the new design will make it so that the bills don't look like somebody just spilled Kool Aid all over them.

December 2, 2006

A fine, cinematic death (or thousand)

Ah, a wonderful repository for more information that hadn't ever really been collected a'fore the wonderwous interweb: Cinemorgue in which the author allows you the chance to find every movie death (on- or off-screen) for just about any actor.

Good stuff, as always...

And it does include my very favorite on-screen deaths (the first on this page).

November 30, 2006

Bring back the A-Team

It's an entertaining premise, this one. Some crackers Brit has apparently convinced channel 4 to give him enough cash to fly to LA and spend a couple of weeks trying to get all the A-Team guys back together.

By the end, it proves that persistance, good nature, and freakishness will get you pretty far in this here world.

Take a gander, but beware that some of the language is not work-safe:

November 29, 2006

Check the cool wax again

There isn't much more that'll get you into the season than some cool christmas music.

I'm so eager for our first snow day and all the ornaments getting onto the tree this weekend.

November 28, 2006

Guerrilla blogging

Turns out that there is truly something new in the world of blogging for education.

There's the Guerilla Season blog project in which students from a Missouri school are holding a book discussion as big as the continent, involving students from schools in California and a few places a little closer to Missouri.

I think that might actually be envy that I'm feeling.

November 27, 2006

Wabash Forever...Co-Ed Never!

A week or so ago, a friend of mine sent me a link to an article in the Indy Star about Wabash College.

The title of the article reads Steeped in tradition or stuck in the past? with the subtitle Wabash College's all-male heritage is a point of both pride and introspection, and it's not a bad little article. It opens with a poor quoting of the Gentleman's Rule - the only code of conduct enforced at Wabash:
The student is expected to conduct himself at all times, both on and off the campus, as a gentleman and a responsible citizen.
The article continues to do a decent job of exploring some of the issues raised in Wabash's continued existance as a single-sex institution - all from a decidedly liberal slant, leaning toward the side of "why stay all-male?" rather than from a "what is good about staying all-male" angle.

Brian's simple question to me was Thoughts?, so I thought I'd take a few minutes to throw down my general thoughts about Wabash specifically as relates to its status as an all-male institution of higher learning.

In the abstract, I am probably pretty opposed to the concept of single-sex education. Any group that excludes people on a wholesale basis - be they whites, women, hispanics, Muslims, plumbers, or left-handed gay accountants, is anathema to the very spirit of these here great United States of America, and I went to Wabash as a stupid freshman who was probably in favor of Wabash becoming a co-ed school - as are at least some of the former students and at least current faculty member certainly still echo this sentiment, going so far as to refer to the current single-sex environment of Wabash College as An Albatross Around Our Necks.

And, in spite of all of that, I will fight for the continuation of Wabash's grandest tradition - its all-male identity - with every ounce of my spirit and hope until my last breaths.

Wabash is a unique place, one that is more special to me than is nearly any other place that I have every been lucky to know. I spent three years (one year spent overseas in Aberdeen) at Wabash and would struggle to find a place that I can imagine being more important in shaping who I am as an adult, a man, and a person. I was challenged intellecutally more at Wabash - inside the classrooms, at late-night discussions back at the fraterntiy house, and around campus - than I ever was before and in ways that I rarely have been since.

I learned about friendship at Wabash - admittedly, friendship with other men, primarily - and what it means to be able to lift up your brother and friend while at the same time challenging his way of thinking or going about his life without tearing him down. I learned how to challenge thoughts instead of the thinker behind them. And I was pushed more academically than I ever have been since or even remotely was before my time at Wabash.

Wabash is a place that can foster the most base instincts of young men - drunken frat parties, immature hazing, and sadly misogynistic jokes of the worst kind. It is the culture of the male sports locker room stretched over a four-year education, and there is little hope that every aspect of such a culture could possibly be positive.

There are, without a doubt, asses at Wabash. I knew a number of students - some of whom were certainly fraternity brothers of mine - who I would be loathe to say were on their way to becoming the gentlemen that Wabash purports to produce. This would certainly be the case at any institution - be it of college-aged students or much older "adults".

But Wabash made me, and it has made a great number of other outstanding men who would not be who they turned out to be if they had not been given the opportunity to attend Wabash College. For that reason alone, I will join the chorus of voices who long sing thy praise, Old Wabash!

If you're interested in knowing what Wabash College truly is like, take a while and visit the campus. Ask around what the professors and students think make it unique, why they think the college should stay all-male or why they think it might be better as a co-ed school.

I'll place money that the answer to "what makes Wabash unique" won't be the all-maleness, the local bars, the social scene, or anything that you might expect to hear. It'll be the tradition, the familial atmosphere, the common cause of 850+ men joined in a common pursuit of making themselves into the best that they possibly can be.

I doubt that many of my friends who went to Purdue or Indiana University would give similar answers. You might hear about better basketball teams than we had at Wabash or bigger bar scenes or more famous faculty, but I don't know that I signed up for those when I went to college.

I have a ton of new websites that are relevant to my topic today, and I couldn't fit them all into my above post, so I'll just give a slightly annotated list of them here: