September 30, 2006

Advice, part 2: Enjoy

Let's see, I've warned you that it was coming, then I gave you week one, now it's time for you to sit back and


It seems a simple enough concept, but one fraught with duality. Stephen Stills put it beautifully with "[i]f you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with," and therein lie the two sides of Enjoy.

First, there's the side that says "be with the one you love".

Take some time to figure out what it is you really enjoy. It might be running or playing tennis or sitting in the bathtub eating spaghetti and drinking a beer. Whatever that thing is, find time for it in every day. Maybe it'll only be a few minutes here or there or maybe it'll be something you do every Saturday all day long, but make sure that you do it.

No matter the hectic, the tired, the must, the hafta, the anything else, find at least a little bit of time to do what you enjoy. It'll keep you sane. It'll keep you going. It'll be the carrot dragging you forward just long enough to make it to the finish line.

And when people tell you that you're not accomplishing anything by playing around with those pewter miniatures or reading that fluff celebrity magazine or screwing around on the magical interweb box, remember that you are accomplishing something. You're enjoying.

The flip side is to "love the one you're with".

There is so much that happens day to day, moment to moment that we can't quite control. Tires blow out. Pipes burst. Your wife backs into your car in the driveway.

And almost none of it is really all that bad. Most of your life is pretty good. You're still alive. You're still eating. You're still breathing. You've got some friends, maybe even a pretty girl (or guy, who am I to judge) to spend your afternoons, evenings, and - if you're lucky - nights with.

Everything else that happens is just stuff along the way.

Smile through it all.

And I don't even mean to say this in the high, preachy voice of that tells you over and over again that it could be least you've got your health...think about the less fortunate. Nope, that's not what I mean.

I mean that the most random series of events had to take place for you to exist. Your mother had to meet your father. Your grandma had to meet your grandpa. Your dad had to look past all of your mom's faults and love her - at least for a few moments, if I understand my biology. On the most microscopic of levels, the exact sperm had to find that exact egg at that exact moment.

Why waste the rest of your life moping about.

You are a miracle.

Shut the hell up and smile.

And the invariable flip side - enjoy in moderation.

Almost no matter the enjoyment - beer, swimming, playing with dolls, horseback riding, whatever - when it's more than just carving out minutes and day as you can, with everything there comes a level when you're enjoying just a bit too much.

Maybe the signs will be that your pants are quite fitting as loosely as they did last fall, and you might want to consider enjoying the pumpkin milkshakes just a little less.

Maybe the bank's knocking on your door, and you're answering with "take the couch, take the tv, all I need are my mint in the box action figures from Titanic".

Or maybe it's when your friends start saying that they haven't seen you in months, that they miss you, that your collection of belly button lint is really starting to smell.

Just note that enjoy doesn't mean obsess.

September 29, 2006

Bang Your Head!

Caught Inside Man - a Spike Lee Joint - over the weekend (review coming, don't worry) and was absolutely floored by the must running over the title and credit sequences. It's a ditty called "Chaiyya Chaiyya" - a remixed version for the film, anyway.

Here - thanks to the phenomenal YouTube - is the opening sequence from the film. The song itself starts about ninety second in.

After hunting around and being wildly disappointed by iTunes because the soundtrack is only available as the entire album (when I want only the one song - I thought we were in the post-album era) and by PLCH and my other local libraries who don't have the soundtrack, I went hunting online.

Turns out that the song's from a Bollywood spectacular called Dil Se... and is one of the larger musical numbers in the film - filmed entirely on the top of a moving train. It's kind of a cool sequence and lets you check the original version of the song - give it a listen with or without subtitles.

PS - turns out that the library has a copy of Bombay Dreams some sort of Andrew Lloyd Weber schmaltzfest with a version of the song in it. I've reserved it but am not terribly hopeful.

September 28, 2006

September 27, 2006

Sir Paul and the tools of ignorance

Paul McCartney is a twit, a git, a wanker.

Had we been lucky enough long ago that the rumors had been true, then music would be better in the world for it.

But, no, the cute one lived and has continued to poison the airwaves with craptacular album after craptacular album.

And now that he's apparently older than dirt, and getting raked over the coals, it seems like the appropriate time to mock him further.

Thank heaven for the combination of YouTube and a gigantic friggin' moron who has no shame at all.

In case you missed it - I'm trying to get you to check out the video of Paul McCartney who appears to be a total moron who can't cook and tells horrible jokes while doing bad children's-story-time accents. It's like a train wreck. I just couldn't look away.

September 26, 2006

The wrong forum...

It's pretty clear to me that television commercials are not the place for a rational, reasoned discourse on any issue. I know that, but I am still - from time to time - amazed at what passes along my tv screen from time to time. And things just seem to be getting worse as we head toward election day.God help us all...and, just so you know, it was the first ad in the list that really got me disgusted, particularly in light of recent news.

September 25, 2006

Dear lord, why?!?!?

Dear lord, why?

What have we done to anger you so?

First there were the catastrophes of 2005: Katrina, Monkey Business, plagues of locusts, mine disasters, Rita, and Match Point.

And now it looks like 2006 is shaping up to be even worse. Evidence #1...

Have we strayed from your path?

Have we not worshiped your image enough?

Tell us what we can do to get back in your good graces...please...

September 24, 2006

Hey! Hey! Hey! Ya! Ya! Ya!

It's hard to believe that it's been three years since "Hey Ya!" ruled the charts for months and months, rocking every last corner of the media world.

Sure, the original video rocks, absofriggin' rocks. We all know that. And there's a longer version that's, admittedly entirely clean (check YouTube for it if you wanna see it - it's got dirty words, so I won't be linking to it).

Since that summer blast of 2003, there have been an absolute rash of "Hey Ya!"-themed goodness.

For example, there's the great cover from Debrah Messing from Will & Grace, a cool lip synching version from four dorky guys, a video of the Peanuts gang rockin' out to "Hey Ya!", and - sadly - there have been a few crappy covers.

This past month, however, I got a chance to catch the most amazing cover of "Hey Ya!" by Mat Weddle. He's apparently part of a duo called Obadiah Parker who also covered the song. The dio version isn't as cool as the Weddle solo, but it still ain't bad.

And nearly everybody loves "Hey Ya!".

September 23, 2006

Advice, part 1: Do

(ok, big breath, take it nice and slow, here we go)

The much anticipated series of one-word advices (with long-winded explanations) starts...RIGHT NOW!


I hate starting with something that seems to tightly tied to a corporate slogan, but Do feels like a quality starting point. It's the essence of so many things, the antithesis of so many mistakes.

Whenever you have something that you want or need to do, do it.

Don't procrastinate, don't put it off, don't reason it out of your life, just get up off of your backside and get it done.

The drip in your chimney is just going to get worse if you don't get it fixed.

The grass is just going to be harder to cut tomorrow when it's a little longer and you finally get around to cutting it.

The Red Sox will never again win the World Series in your lifetime - or, if they do, it won't be the same - so buy the frickin' tickets. Mortage the house, sell the baby, do whatever it takes to buy the tickets, moron.

And you've been telling everybody that you desperately want to get to Europe for years, so go.

Don't let anything stop you; don't make up reasons to not go, to sit and wait for a better time to do it.

The best time to do whatever it is you want or need to do is now.

If this means that you have to start making lists everyday and posting them huge on the refrigerator for eveyone to see so you'll be accountable, then do it.

If it means that you should grab one of those books that list places to see (or things to do) before you die - or to write one of your own - then do it.

This bit of advice - Do does have one correlary that you need to be aware of, however, and that's the also important Do No Harm.

We are not beings who live in isolation. Every action that we take has reprecussions, like ripples in a still pond.

Before you take that leap and throw yourself willy nilly into the great wide open, remember that your actions have reprecussions. Make sure that those reprecussions won't hurt other people.

That is the only way that I can suggest tempering today's simple directive to Do, because as Lincoln told us...
And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."

Thanks for getting this far, folks...

September 22, 2006

Don't let the kids see that...Save it for yourself...

So, you've got the kids and ya wanna go see a movie, but all the movies at the local multiplex seem to be nothing but films made by the obviously liberal media, flicks clearly designed to undercut the very moral fiber on which this great country of ours is made.

What's a good conservative patriarch to do?
Or, in another plausible scenario, you've got a night out with the guys. You wanna pop in a movie - but nothing that's entirely pornographic, just something with a whole bunch of sex, violence, and cursing.

How can you find the most depraved, filthy flick for you and your friend to work your way through without checking the local anime section of the local movie rental hut?
In either case, you should he checking out Kids In Mind where you can see exactly how many vulgarities and movie has or how many times any movie takes the Lord's name in vain, how many shooting or stabbings a flick has - either to avoid them or to hunt them out.

It's your business which...

Who doesn't love Star Trek?

Let's be honest, we all loves us some Star Trek - especially when mashed up with Charlie Murphy. There's...

September 21, 2006

Some people don't like us...

I think Hugo Chavez, Venezuala's current President, is a fascinating character.

The first thing that makes him fascinating to me is that he's openly willing to absolutely lay the smack down on the US in about as big a forum as he could manage, the United Nations. He has been allying himself with Cuba and China and does just about anything that he can manage to slam the US and our status as the last global superpower.

The second thing that makes him fascinating is his history of political failure and success and failure and success again and again. This man's had more lives than Nixon, than Superman, than Jimmy Frickin' Hoffa.

Then there's the allegedly unfair press coverage that Chavez is supposedly getting here in the US. I don't honestly have any clue as to how Chavez is received in his country - whether to believe that 600,000 marched against him or that 200,000 marched in support of him at the same time.

Am I supposed to believe what Time said about him or what The Times said?

Then there's the fact that Pat Robertson apparently wants him dead which suggests to me that Chavez must be doing something right.

And, he's apparently offered us oil at $50 a barrel. Clearly the man's worth knowing about.

Plus, I just kind of like the jaunty parrot...

September 20, 2006

Fear, trepidation, and hope...ya dope...

It appears that another director is ready to step into the quagmire that is the movie version of Watchmen, and I don't know whether to be hopeful or not.

It's rare that any great work of art (fiction, nonfiction, music, whatever) is ever translated into another great work in a different medium, and Watchmen is a truly great, genre-shattering work of art. If you have any interest in graphic novel ([cough]comic books[/cough]) at all, then you should read Watchmen. To even begin to explain its greatness would do nothing more than show how inferior my prose is, so I'll just recommend that you swing by the Sharonville branch and pick it up - because it's seemingly always on the shelves. If you need some help, give me a holla, and I'll help you through the thing, but I doubt that you'll need any help.

Off the top of my head, great works that have been translated into great works in other media:
  • Fight Club - book & movie
  • MASH - movie & television show
Ok, I can't think of any others where I've read the original and seen the movie or television show and thought both were outstanding. Can anybody help me?

Here are some lists to get things started:

September 19, 2006

Oh, and arrrgggh...

In case you missed it...

Thoughts on educational stuff...

I'm taking two online classes at the moment, both dealing with educational theory and the use of technology in the classroom...

A posting that I just dropped over there interests me because of what I said and exactly how much/whether I believe it or not...

The professor's original questions:
Some interesting replies to some of the most engaging questions. Rarely do we stop to consider the answers to such meta-questions unless we are teachers. Can you calculate the square root of 2570 exactly without a calculator? Who cares? You might ask, and you'd be right to ask that question… who in fact does care and why do they care? What are they trying to do or make? What does it mean to be active or engaged in an activity? Can we learn without engaging in an activity? Better yet, is it possible to not learn if you are thinking about something? What is thinking anyway? Can we not think? (regardless of what your mother may have said to you when you were 14 years young… "Think…. can you please think?!") Can we be shamed into thinking correctly about something in order to learn it "properly"? Descartes and Locke had a lot to say about the changeless core that most of us believe endures to make up our identity and enduring self. Does our thinking and learning continually change us and transform us and our values? Many of your comments have both a social and emotional aspect as you related your stories and experiences. As several of you have pointed to, the things we hold in our memory and construct our knowledge upon definitely have emotional and social underpinnings.

As you read these questions and responses do you get the feeling that learning and thinking are such very personal activities that we cannot possibly predict what one individual may learn from certain online words, icons, pictures, movies, or simulations? Do you get the impression that each of us creates her or his own flow of meaning or dialogue around a particular topic? Do we learn more in our shaping of the question or trying to find our solution or answer? If this is so, what does “shared meaning after learning” mean to us as a group?
And my reply:
Do you get the feeling that learning and thinking are such very personal activities that we cannot possibly predict what one individual may learn from certain online words, icons, pictures, movies, or simulations?

If that were true in its purest, most extreme form, then there would be absolutely no reason to teach. Every person would have to learn every little bit of everything in their own way, and it would be stupid of me to even try to guide the class in the same direction. We wouldn't be a crew of twenty-plus heading in the same direction in one big boat, we'd be the plastic men in an electric, vibrating football game. Any little bump would send us all outward in a different direction from everybody else.

But I do think that the question is closer to the truth than it is far from the truth. We each take everything into our brain in ways that depend on everything from what we had for breakfast this morning to what mom/wife/dog said to us on the way out the door this morning to which way the wind's blowing to bring random scents to us as we learn.

I can hope to throw out experiences and situations that seem to have lead my students in a certain way in the past, but I sure as heck had better not assume that those same situations will lead this new group in the exact same direction this year.

Do you get the impression that each of us creates her or his own flow of meaning or dialogue around a particular topic?

We see through a glass darkly...everything that I take in is colored by everything that I have taken in before. Sure, you can't understand a man until you walk a mile in his moccasins, but even then, you still don't have the full picture.

If this is so, what does “shared meaning after learning” mean to us as a group?

It is a hope that we aren't alone, that somebody else can reassure us of our beliefs, memories, and thoughts so that we won't be fully and totally isolated. If we can't at least hope that our friends remember and learned the same things from our common experiences, then we might as well not have them.

(Wow, that last answer really turned out dark. Sorry 'bout that, folks - but on rereading it, I think I might believe what I wrote there.)
I hate my online masters program because it takes my time, because it feels redundant, because of so many reasons, but from time to time it does actually force me to think, and I have to say that I do a lot of my best thinking when I'm talking or typing. I find that so much of what I throw out there almost on a whim seems to ring true once I take a moment to listen to it.

For the friend who crosses you

Thanks, Sully, for pointing this one out.

If anybody has a good, quality Fredo in their life, this gift is for them. (I know it wasn't Fredo who got the horse in his bed, but he would've deserved it, and I can't remember which character got the horse head.)

The company that makes the horse-head pillow seems to be willing to make tons and tons of movie replica props, some of which they sell, but many of which appear to be custom one-off jobs.

September 18, 2006

A brief hometown update

A while back, I pointed out that I had some issues with MLB's Hometown Heroes program. Apparently I'm about two months ahead of ESPN's curve as they just posted their thoughts about the program...Just thought I'd point out how much more informed you will be if you read my stuff instead of ESPN's.

All the same...that's the point!

It's a pretty simple concept...

A business is decently successful. The owner wants to have a few more locations but doesn't necessarily want to go too far out on a financial limb, so they offer folks the right to franchise the original business's success.

That way the various outlets, the newly franchised locations, all can have exactly the same high-quality products offered at the original location. That way I can safely wander into any MickyDonalds and get the exact same, identical, wonderful double cheeseburger without worrying that this double cheeseburger would be better or worse than every other double cheeseburger from every other MickyDonalds around this glorious country of ours.

It does seem, however, that a few places have dropped the ball on the whole franchising means everybody's the frickin' same tip.

First there's the various Dunkin' Donuts franchises 'round the country and their clear lack of respect for the glorious and noble apple fritter. In most of the Dunkin' Donuts that I know, the apple fritter is a batter with apple chunks mixed in, fried, and iced. That's the true classic (let me recommend the fritters just after 6am when they're nice and hot).

This past weekend, however, I stopped into the Dunkin' Donuts in Milford and got some sort of Frankenfritter - a fried dough ball into which apple goo has been injected - like a jelly filled fritter. This isn't quite as freakish as the Frankenfritter that I got down at the Dunkin' Donuts in Atlanta (in the CNN center where I stayed for the NSTA convention a few years back) where there wasn't any sort of batter with apples. The Atlanta Frankenfritter was a simple jelly donut (a big donut, admittedly) filled with apple stuff.

What the heck? The franchise concept means that every frickin' fritter is supposed to be the same. That way I'm happy with all my Dunkin' Donuts no matter where I am.

And don't even get me started on the randomness that is the Dairy Queen cookie dough Blizzard - which seems to be made with a standard vanilla ice cream (or whatever their soft serve technically is) and cookie dough pieces. Easy enough. But seemingly at random, some franchise locations add in chocolate syrup.

All I ask for is a little consistency. Is that so wrong?

September 17, 2006

OJ Mayo and the downfall of Western Civilization

I don't know whether to simply talk about one young man or to broaden things out and make this a commentary on our entire society. My honest guess is that I'll take a few diversions into each of those sides of the middle line that I'll try to walk here.

Let's start with my own admission of culpability in the whole thing. Last winter, one of the most-hyped high school basketball game in a long while: Oak Hill Academy vs. North College Hill. The two were ranked #1 and #2, respectively, in the national USA Today Super 25 high school basketball poll at the time. It turned out that Oak Hill beat North College Hill somewhat handily, but I didn't get a hcance to see it. I was out of town. And I lamented that fact, having hoped to see one of the supposedly greatest collection of high school talent in a while.

Luckily two of those talents were just juniors, so I'd have a chance to see the hometown North College Hill (which bordered on the first Cincinnati district in which I taught) this year, and especially to see OJ Mayo, the supposed second coming of Lebron James.

But that second chance wasn't to be as OJ has transferred out of Cincy and back to his hometown in West Virginia. And his first mate on the court, Bill Walker, was ruled ineligible for the coming season as he had apparently school hopped enough and used up his eight semesters of eligibility in Ohio.

I know all of this mostly because people from WVa sportscasters all the way up to ESPN have been reporting this - which heads toward my issue: high school sports are out of hand.

I am a born and raised Hoosier, and Indiana boy who loved seeing Damon Bailey break the state scoring record, and drove for hours in a driving snowstorm to see high school basketball tourney for the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. I love seeing the Vikings play just about anything from water polo to tennis to basketball. And I know that I am far, far, far from without sin on this issue, but...

If I had the chance to recreate the American educational system, I'm not sure that I would even build a gymnasium attached to a single high school in the nation, or maybe I'd just have 'em all built without a single bleacher or press row.

The priorities of the American education should not be split in even the slightest way toward education, no matter how many of them depend financially on the athletic department, no matter how many young men and women better their lives by gaining a college degree after an athletic scholarship, I often feel that we might be better if we fully jetisoned the athletic department, moving instead to a physical education system that focused on life-long health - teaching how to eat right and fit in daily workouts instead of sending kids to hoop it up in the gym, holding signing parties for the top ten in the class instead of the kid who can pick a quarter off of the backboard. With the athletics gone, we could spend all of our money on simply educating.

Of course, I'd be afraid for what the athletics might look like if they were given entirely to a body with no real governing body - you know, all AAU style and such.

September 16, 2006

Some advice (a preview)

It would be an act of the most ridiculous hubris to believe that anyone came to this blog looking for advice on anything more than which entertaining video to watch today (heck, for that, TransBuddha would be the better choice), and yet I feel like taking a stupid step.

Over the next half dozen Saturdays, I will be doling out advice in drips and drabs, one word a week.

It's a format that I have been attempting to put to words for a number of months now: single word advice explained in a larger context, somehow attempting to sum up my best life lessons (admittedly meager though they may be) in one word.

The list so far:
  • Do
  • Enjoy
  • Give
  • Improve
  • Help
  • Love
  • Be
  • Learn
So, next weekend, tune in here - or feel free to tune right out if you would rather wait for the Sunday's typical offering of frivolisoty - for whatever words of wisdom await.

If you'd rather get some classic sitcom goodness, learn about the greatest Thanksgiving Day radio promotion ever.

Crap reading

For those of you who have switched from the magazine to the laptop for your bathroom reading pleasure, I offer a topical page.

September 15, 2006

Mmmm...fine, aged cheese...

Today's post is pretty simple: the "Apache" video over on YouTube.

If you're alergic to dairy product or are named Tom Price, you might want to avoid it.

September 14, 2006

I drank radioactive urine

If it's cheap, I'm probably willing to try it for the novelty.

Doesn't really matter much what that it is, but I'm probably willing to try it. (Note: But not the insects in lollipops that a few students gave me a few years ago. Those I chucked without trying, I'll be honest.) And $1.99 qualifies as cheap - especially when it ends up ringing up as $1.49.

Heck, yeah, I'm there.

Thanks to my local Target store, I got a chance to try Jones Soda's Candy Corn soda in four cute eight-ounce cans. I'll admit it that the taste is way better as a novelty than it is as a real drink, but for $1.49 I've got no real reason to crab.

the first taste isn't bad - if you can get past the radioactive urine coloring of the drink to actually taste it. It's a simple carmel taste that's about right for candy corn, but the cloyingly strong taste starts to get worse and worse with each taste. I can't recommend this as anything more than novelty, but thankfully, I have a hundred students that I see every day who would probably enjoy the chance to taste this nastiness.

Check a couple of other reviews - from x-entertainment and i-mockery - if you need to know more.

In short, they're no holiday pack, and I'm still desperate to try the pumpkin pie soda. Anybody got one of those hanging around?

September 13, 2006

The Cute Lil' Bushpig

Okay, so it's a hedgehog, but it's still kinda cute.

And, apprently it's vulnerable to the horrors of nibbly dogs (LeRoy loves the plushy hedgehog), horrific photographers, forgetful little girls, and apparently to the evils of the McFlurry. Who knew?

Speaking of the evils of Ronald, check out his first ever appearance - starring a certain centegenarian-celebrating weatherman.

September 12, 2006

Comix rarities

The whole the site that has everything is a little bit pompus and incorrect. It doesn't have, for example, this phenomenal cover. Ok, so I'm being sneaky with Transbuddha.

But it does have some rarities from a couple of the coolest comics of the past couple of decades. I'm talking about those comic classics: Bloom County (before it became Outland which was vaguely rehashed crap) and Calvin & Hobbes.

This Peter Paltridge fellow has gone around and collected a whole bunch of rarities related to those two strips. There a whole bunch of the Bloom County and Outlands that are missing from the various collections that exist in print. There are also a few of the strips that are different between the original and collected versions.

Then there's his vast collection of rare stuff from Bill Watterson. There are t-shirts, original strips, calendars, and a bunch more stuff for the Watterson fanatics out there.

He also offers shout outs to US Acres, but it was a load of manure from the get go - stupider, even, than Garfield which is phenomenally stupid - unless you really mess with it.

Now, if somebody could just find some rare Doonesbury and Boondocks cartoons, we'd be set for life.

September 11, 2006

Killing Kill Bill

I dig Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and have had discussions with friends of mine who didn't care for it at all. I enjoyed the art and style of the film, accepting the fact that our emotional envolvement in the story is all but absent and that the movie has flaws, but those discussions that I have had come with almost no background in the Hong Kong cinema to which Tarantino is paying very direct homage.

Luckily, there are people out on the web who are willing enough to engage in very knowledgable, thorough discourses on Kill Bill: Vol. 1. I do warn you that it's a very scholarly article, referencing numerous films that I haven't ever seen but doing an excellent job of explaining those films and their relevance to Tarantino's film.

It does give me pause in my enjoyment of the flick, but it doesn't change my mind on Vol: 2 which stunk.

September 10, 2006

Science is cool and rockin' and scary

Thanks, Studer.

Douglas sent me a link to a nice little video about blowing up some alkali metals. Kinda cool, nice attitude, interesting science, and a cool British accent from the host.

The British accent makes sense because the video came from a British show from G4 called Brainiac, and the show seems like it'd be a whole lot of fun to get to watch regularly. Google video has a few more videos (testing products like underpants, testing your perception, and melting an engine block) if you're not convinced and there are more on the series website has a rotating series of videos from the show, as well.

Other than a single phrase - the dog's nuts, this looks like something I'd love to show in class, so I went hunting for DVDs or videos or something. No luck, everything I found on both eBay and Amazon looks to be for Region 2 - no use to me in the US, sadly.

From what my research found, the series might not be all that scientific all the time, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't still enjoy the thing.

There are a bunch of quasi-scientific shows that I'd love to use in my classroom.

September 9, 2006

Sell a few sea shells, Sally

Who doesn't love a good bunch of tongue twisters?

This all came about because of something that Stephen Colbert said in his original Gravitas-off:
Amidst the mists and coldest frosts,
with stoutest wrists and loudest boasts,
he thrusts his fist against the posts
and still insists he sees the ghosts.
It struck a chord with me because the last two lines were also used in Stephen King's Dark Tower series, but I'd never heard the full thing, so I went hunting.

First, I happened upon the most thorough collection of tongue twisters and a similar site with thousands of tongue twisters - English and otherwise.

Then I bumped into a site that just seems cruel: tongue twisters for the ESL classroom.

There's the International Tongue Twister Contest, and of course wikipedia has an article on tongue twisters, and then there's two videos on YouTube - one is some sort of weird animation, and the other is yet another freaky Japanese gameshow.

Lemme just point out that I wrote this post like a week ago - and at that point, the same video hadn't been posted on Transbuddha yet. I swear.

September 8, 2006

Dropping it like it's cold

Loads of media that's been building up for a while... just sort of a catch-all... enjoy

Now there's something I didn't expect. I'd been looking forawrd to seeing Brick since the spring when I first saw the trailer, and it finally got around to Cincy in early August with the DVD coming out the next week - such is life in the Midwest, I guess.

Luckily, I wasn't disappointed. As I said, I was a little surprised, however, at what an outstanding job the film did in aping the old, hard-boiled detective style of the Phillip Marlowe / Dashiell Hammett films. Everything from the at-first-hard-to-understand quick patter of the dialogue, full of the sort of slang that - in years past - would have seen two jakes gabbering about dames with gams, hard cases packing heaters, all while tipping back whiskey in highballs while keeping their fedoras just slightly askew. Here, however, the entire noir world has been transported almost perfectly intact into the world of California high school students who are much more worldly wise than any real high school students I've known, been, or taught.

The characters involved - from the main character whose ex- turns up dead in a culvert in scene one to the femme fatale who just might not be as bad as she's presented, or who just might be the death of our lead - do an outstanding job of keeping the mood note perfect throughout, clearly combing the second-hand stores for vintage clothing and managing a massive under-culture that operates on levels that only barely pay any attention to the adults who are almost entirely absent from this film - except for one hilarious scene with one of the character's mom offering apple juice to his guest.

The only sour note is rung by a scene late in the film where our lead character shows a fair bit more vulnerablitity and humanity than his older echoes would ever have considered. This scene doesn't in any way ruin the film, however, as we're not exactly sure of which side everybody falls on until the denouement.
The film is outstanding, and the acting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt is excellent. Throughout the film, I kept trying to figure out if he was or wasn't Tommy from 3rd Rock, and it is a compliment to him that he so nearly changed himself that he was nearly unrecognizable.

Reviews of Brick have been mixed but on the positive side of things and tended to focus on whether the transfer of the older ideas into the modern setting was pastiche or homage and how successful that transfer was.

I enjoyed the film but do warn that attention will have to be paid as the writer does not make things easy and clear, and the character's dialogue is clearly that of insiders who have no shame in shortening things up so as to make their language impenetrable for anyone who isn't an initiate in their culture.

The Island, on the total otherhand is about as deep a a kiddie pool. It's pure explosions, chases, and pretty people running a lot.

There's some sort of plot, but it's nothing you wouldn't be able to understand from the first ten minutes of the film: bad people make clones - keep clones stupid - kill clones to harvest organs - oh, no - clones escape and become aware.


Luckily, it did have Scarlett Johansson who is really pretty.

Seriously, if you thought Speed was too confusing and had too much character development, then The Island is for you.

In all honesty, it doesn't pretend to be anything more than a popcorn flick and it does at least deliver some nice explosions and chase scenes, but it'd thoroughly and totally disposable.

Love among the old folks tends to make me a little icked out. I'll admit that.

It might be a things that's been trained into me by the media or something, but it doesn't really matter, because the thoughts of Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton bumping uglies - especially Jack, for some reason - just icks me out.

Luckily, Something's Gotta Give has a lot more to recommend it other than just that nasty thought.

The film is somewhat predictable with a protagonist whose schtick is that he's an old man dating nothing but beautiful young women (and Amanda Peet who has more than a passing resemblance to Julia Roberts). Then, along comes a woman his age (or ten years his junior, really). Amazingly, something clicks with Jack, and he starts to maybe appreciate a model with a few more miles under the hood.


Luckily, the entire cast - even Keanu Reeves - are solid enough performers that they turn what could be a rather pedestrian flick into an enjoyable little journey. The lead gets his comeupance and changes his stripes. The female lead comes out of her shell and gets to turn the tables a bit. But they end up together.

Not bad.

Enough with the flicks, might as well read something. This trip to the library brought me into a couple of decent trades (and two crappy ones - yes, I'm talking about you, Nightwing - it really is a crime that DC keeps putting out such crappy product for such a great character. They might as well have gone ahead and killed him in the recent Infinite Crisis).

The first good was is pictured to the right and is Teen Titans: The Future is Now and just left me drooling to get my hands on an Infinite Crisis trade - even though I know that trying to catch everything in order is going to be nearly impossible. In this volume, we get two storylines - the first has the Titans headed into the future to help the Legion of Super Heroes in a battle againt the Fatal Five. They then jump back into the "present" but find themselves battling a future version of themselves - a team that has split in half and divided the nation because of something disastrous that came about in "The Crisis" - which isn't explained here.

DC has done a masterful job leading everything up to the Crisis, truly masterful. The distrust from Identity Crisis and then all of the hints at a coming Crisis. Serious drool dropping on the keybord now, I tell you.

The Titans return to the present, of course, but with a number of warning from their future selves. They then get a new member - Speedy - and face a murderous and renewed foe in Dr. Light who lets loose the secret that the Justice League had engaged in a few mind games, referencing Identity Crisis again and sewing serious seeds of doubt in the Titans long-ongoing hero worship of the JLA.

The artwork is consistently solid throughout the volume, and the feeling of the Titans as a family - their most important and consistent trait - is played up brilliantly, particularly in light of the dissolution of the Justice League that is playing out at the same time.

This is an absolute must read for any DC fan, but I do warn everybody that there are spoilers galore here (and probably in my review), so check the guide to the Infinite Crisis trade paperbacks before reading this.

More Infinite Crisis ground work is laid in the trade Power Girl which collects the various origins of Power Girl - Superman's cousin, Atlantean daughter, exhibitionist . And then comes the meat of the trade in the collection of JSA: Classified, the Power Trip arc.

Power Girl is going bonkers. She's seeing people that nobody else sees, having her powers fade in and out, and fearing a breakdown. Different visions continue to haunt her, each presenting a different possible origin for her - villians pop in and claim to be her parents while long dead heroes appear, claiming to be her sisters.

And then the Psycho Pirate shows up and throws down the Crisis on Infinite Earths refresher. Drool all over the keyboard at this point as, again, DC has nailed - absolutely nailed - characterization of a brilliant character whose entire history was rocked in that decade-old cross-over. Again, it's a gotta read (well, I'll admit that I skipped the first couple of issues and went straight to the Power Trip arc) but in order.

Music has popped across my media radar of late, as well, including two retries from Jewel. I caught Bill Maher's Amazon Fishbowl with Jewel performing and remembered how much I like her as an artist (please ignore any fanboy leanings). Karlen and I saw her live about ten years ago when she'd first hit big, and she was hilarious and personable on stage. Any time I hear her perform solo, I'm impressed. She's got a great voice and writes some entertaining, intelligent songs.

And then she puts out crappy albums time and time again, none of which sound even remotely like her solo performances that I enjoy. suggests that her last two albums have been her best albums (4.5 of 5 stars each), but I just can't stand them. Both 0304 - with its synthetic beats, totally unlike anything that Jewel has done before - and Goodbye Alice in Wonderland are over-produced and don't let the simplicity of Jewel's voice and writing come through.

I don't know if she just isn't worried about putting out things that are pure to what I expect her to be or if she thinks that the higher production values flatter her music, but I don't care for her albums. It's her busines. It does mean that I won't be buying any of her music anytime soon.

Alan Moore's pretty much a pantheon graphic novel guy. He's put out pretty much the finest portfolio of any graphic novel artist of modern times.

His stuff is so spectacular that I was willing to wade through Promethea Book 3 in hopes of another revelation like the final issue of Book 2. Sadly, such a revelation just didn't come through in this one.

Weirdly, exactly four years ago to the day, Weasel Words summed it up pretty well:
Rather than a story with characters and plot, Promethea is now a tutorial on the occult, thinly veiled behind the merest facade of story. I kept paging through this volume, hoping that this bizarre digression would end soon, but it never did.
The story is becoming wordy and meandering as Barbara and Sophie drift along some sort of Kaballic (sp?) path looking to find Barbara's dead husband. All sorts of things happen along the way, but most aren't vlearly real or metaphor or education or, well, much of anything.

There's some neat visual storytelling along the way - gods made of mercury, a mobius strip path (which kind of reminds me of something my work neighbor showed me recently), and an issue entirely in red and black - but it just seems like neat visuals for the sake of neat visuals. There'e no revelation to make up for the wandering.

I will keep working through, however, as I'm desperate to read issue #32.

A few years ago, I checked out a couple of compilations from the LA radio show Sounds Eclectic - (review here). For some reasons, I went ahead and grabbed them again and gave them another listen.

The first cd - Sounds Eclectic (review here) - is a nice collection of live performances from the radio show, and the collection makes for a pleasent enough listen, but it's without any real excitement. It's a nice, decent album to listen to, and it's not much more than that. The versions of most of the songs (the ones that I know, at least) are barely different from their original album versions, but those minor differences make for a little cleaner listens - "Babylon", in particular, is a really nice live version. The Supreme Beings of Leisure song "Never the Same" is also a nice one. Nothing really special here - luckily the local library had it so I could grab the David Gray song and a couple others.

The second volume - Sounds Eclectic Too (review here) - is more of the same: good but nonessential live performances from a wide spread of artists. On this second volume, I didn't have as many artists that I really enjoyed, so I didn't get quite the same highlights, but that didn't diminish the feeling of the album being a "nice album", not much more.

An adendum - apparently the Sounds Eclectic release series was apparently preceeded by a series called Rare on Air from the same radio station.

Ah, more Stephen King. Weirdly, this book was published by King under the pseudonym Richard Bachman - one that he used for a few years back and which he has apparently abandoned for a decade or so before publishing The Regulators as Bachman and its companion novel Desperation as King.

I came to The Regulators by way of the which suggested that the book fit in with the Dark Tower series, but I didn't see the connections in my read. That didn't mean, however, that it wasn't an enjoyable read (or listen, in my case, honestly).

The basics of the setup are pretty familiar for long-time readers of King's books: a mysterious force latches on to a psychically powerful youngster in an anonymous small town (weirdly in Ohio instead of Maine). That mysterious force then sets about transforming its new home block into a mixture of the youngster's dreams (which come via television westerns and cartoons) and the neighbor's hells. In the end, it's one of those neighbors that has to step forward to hopefully save his friends and his world.

The journey from first glimpses of the weirdness to the final resolution are very much reminiscent of King's earlier Bachman books, tales that tended toward the more violent side of things than his main books did. In retrospect, it is hard to believe that King's writing would have been anything less than abviously his - even when published under another moniker. The standard King techniques are here - introductions for all the characters, even the most minor ones; a scenario that takes place without much explanation as to how it came into being; and a resolution that leaves hints that it might not be an entirely final resolution.

It wasn't until after listening to The Regulators that I found out there was a companion novel. Sadly, my library only has the abridged version of Desperation so my enjoyement of that one might have to wait a bit since school's back in session now, but I'll get to it eventually.

Oh, and since this post was so stinkin' long, enjoy something a little more mindless if you've gotten this far.

September 7, 2006

This is going too far

When we can't even trust the little kid with the round head, things have clearly gone too far.

Check the testimony.

September 6, 2006

Serious reading about crap reading

The first comic I remember buying is the first issue of Black Lightning. I absolutely remember it. I remember where my dad bought it for me, and I remember how my mom took it away once she got a look at it because it was too violent.

That's all relevant because of the first paragraph in Jeff Tepper's gigantic essay on the entire comic book medium.

It's seriously massive, and I've only read the first two parts (three have been published on

September 5, 2006


I'm digging on Mr. Beck Hanson.

Not every single move that he makes is spot on, but enough of his moves are hits that I'm willing to accept the occasional odd steps here and there.

The newest cool step is that each of us will be getting a chance to design his new album cover. His new album - due October 3rd - is called The Information and is already streaming over at his website - along with loads of his songs and videos from past albums.

Of course, Beck's been doing a lot of odd stuff for a while now. He's sort of alternated from upbeat, electronic albums (Odelay, Midnite Vultures, Guero) and slower, more folky stuff (Mutations, Sea Change, One Foot in the Grave) and seems equally at home in each genre. He's also full on into the remixes, as evidenced by Guerolito and his release of B-sides, Stray Blues.

And now it appears that Beck thinks he's beyond the album.

And there's the "Clap Hands" video that I've mentioned before. Of course, not all of his songs get translated to live performances quite as well as some others.

If you're new to Beck, I'd recommend starting with Odelay or Guero, they're probably his most accessible albums, though I do enjoy One Foot in the Grave, Mutations, and Midnite Vultures. Sea Change left me a little cold, admittedly.

September 4, 2006

A decade and a half, seriously?

Has it really only been fifteen frickin' years since the world wide web came into being?

I remember being a freshman at Wabash bitnetting to distant friends at Wooster, telnetting to the library at an Israeli university, and trying on Mosaic for the first time.

And now I can't even consider doing something as ridiculous as looking something up in a print encyclopedia.

To quote Berkeley Breathed, "what exactly does it mean to wind a watch?"

September 3, 2006

So the Germans could march in the shade.

It's amazing how many groups adopt derogatory terms used against them and take them to heart, reappropriating the terms to become words that they use to each other.

The most prevelant one in the US would have to be the N-word (something that white people aren't even able to type but that younger African-Americans call each other constantly.)

A little less well-known is the slang name frog for French-speaking people the world 'round.

Apparently, some of those French people have taken the name Frogs to heart.

Please help me in welcoming to the world the Quebec Jumping Frogs of the American Basketball Association.

Speaking of the ABA - there seem to be fifty-eight teams in the league with ten more coming. What the hell?

James Blake goes old school...

Looks like James Blake has a sense of humor and fashion. On Friday Blake came out wearing a throwback uni as a tribute to Andre Agassi who is playing his final tournament this week at the US Open.

Nice touch, big guy.

September 2, 2006

Super severe but cool narcissism

To quote the page from that has this video:
The idea is simple, the result is stunning. On November 1, 2001, artist Ahree Lee began taking daily digital snapshots of her own face; and she has continued this project every day since. In 2004, Lee compiled all of her daily images into a montage with a wistful musical score. In the fast-paced parade of images you're about to see, each second of screen time represents about one week's worth of pictures. also has a higher-quality but slightly shorter copy of the video if you'd rather head over there.

September 1, 2006

We're Goin' Old School, BOYZ!

Thank god that some people are taking the time to recreate a bunch of old-school video games for us to play while browsing the weird wide web.

Take a minute and check out or (I especially recommend tennis at the latter site).

And, if you want to, download a tune or two or three to play along with your games.