August 31, 2007

Discovery of the Croque Madame

In a last week before summer kinda celebration, The Girl and I headed down for our semi-annual downtown lunch celebration. We're both displaced from the city - by choice and job location, admittedly - and like to head into town any time we can just so we don't feel like total deserters.

On this late-summer trip, we started in Mt Adams, wandering around one of the highest points in Cincy on a hundred-degree day. It was certainly warm, but the views were gorgeous. From there, we headed into Eden Park for the Art Museum - which, it turns out, doesn't open until 11 am - we got there at 10. So down into the heart of the city, to a stop at the gorgeous main branch. Onward a bit further downtown to the find of the day - Bistro JeanRo on Vine Street, just below Tower Place.

Bistro JeanRo is labeled as a Cincinnati French Bistro, but I didn't see much Cincinnati in there. Instead, we were treated to a spectacular lunch of a croque monsieur (for The Girl) and a croque madame for me. Beside a healthy serving of marvelously crisp and flavorful pommes frites, I was served a marvelous concoction of ham and swiss on two perfectly butter-toasted slices of bread, topped with an egg over easy and a bechamel sauce. It can't get much richer and tasties than the croque madame. The sandwich - clearly eaten with a fork - was marvelous, tasty, hearty, a true find.

If you ever get a chance to drop down to JeanRo's, treat yourself to a croque monsieur deluxe. It won't get any better than that.

August 30, 2007

Thanks, again, to NPR...

"You have to paddle really hard in the beginning, not so you can rest on your oars, but so that you can get down to real teaching and learning as soon as possible and actually get somewhere with your kids..."

Emily Wiley's commentary yesterday on All Things Considered, heard locally on WVXU and other stations...

She doesn't do a perfect job describing September (or August for lots of us) for teachers, but it's pretty close.

August 29, 2007

Thanks to a former colleague...not Lakes, though...

Wonderful new stuff from the folks down at Disney...click here if the embed doesn't work for you...


If ever there was an attraction that might drag my backside to Disney, this would be the one.

More info can be found here, here, here (when they visited Pixar), here, and here.

How abso-frickin'-cool...

August 27, 2007

Nothing to see here

Check the sky tomorrow morning just before sunrise ('round 6am here in the Cincy area) when it looks like most of the US will be getting a full lunar eclipse. The ideal viewing areas will be more west coast than east, but that's life. To check the exact moment of most totality in your area, click over here and enter your relevant info. It's rare that we get this full an eclipse, so take advantage folks.

And thanks to Calen who told me 'bout this.

August 26, 2007

America's Best

The perfect intersection of science and food...America's Test Kitchen...

The Girl has a subscription to Cooks' Illustrated and their companion website. She's had the subscription for a number of years, and I absolutely dig the magazine...and the website...and their recipes...and pretty much the whole crue.

The recipes are really the thing, and they do some really cool stuff to create the recipes. It's this little thing called the scientific method, and it makes their recipes just about as foolproof as any that I've ever tried.

They start by defining the problem. For example, they might want to find a recipe for pound cake that is moist throughout, crusty on the outside, and strongly enough flavored that it can hold up to some fruit sauce.

Next, they do their research, checking out dozens of recipes from cookbooks and websites. They look for commonalities and sort of average out the recipes to make a simple starting place.

From there they adjust each variable up and down to see what the perfect amounts and procedures are. For example, if the recipes call for everything from one egg through three eggs, they'll make a half dozen cakes - identical in every way except they'll vary the eggs until they get that amount right. Then they'll move on to repeat the process with the flour. Then they'll adjust the type of flour. Through every ingredient - amount and type - through every procedure - adjusting the order, adjusting the length of mixing or whatever - they make dozens and dozens of the recipe until they've figured out the perfect recipe.

Then they write the whole thing up, including everything from their impetus to perfect the recipe through the process they went through to find it, and then finally the recipe itself. Sadly the website doesn't have the full stories like the magazine does, but I can safely say that between The Girl and I, we've made probably a hundred of their recipes, and there hasn't been a dud in the bunch. Everyone turns out exactly like they've promised.

Seriously, any monkey can make their stuff and make it perfectly if you just follow the recipe.

Plus they've got all sorts of science to back things up.

Check these clips from the show...

First, behind the scenes, part 1...

Then, there's behind the scenes #2...

Their recipe for blueberry cobbler...

Some funny moments from the show...

Taste testing the best parmesan...
And I realize that I've blogged about these buggers before, but I'm highly impressed with them, so I'll do it anyway.

August 25, 2007

Not entirely unlike a regular post

So we're gonna have breakfast at good ol' PHS this year.

We've finally reached whatever magical threshold of free and reduce lunch-eligible students that we're required to offer those students a free breakfast as well. Other students can get the same breakfast, but they'll have to pay for it. I knew this was coming back in the spring, but it was just a couple of days ago that I found out the details of what the kids would be getting for their breakfast - cereal bars and juice. Nothing too tough to cook each morning, and nothing terribly nutritious either, I'm guessing.

In a conversation not entirely surprising for me, I used this as a jumping off point (not intentionally, mind you - things like this just happen inside my brain) for considerations of how we might be able to get a little more nutrition into the breakfast. Maybe we could throw in some Pop Tarts, particularly of the blueberry variety so that the kids could get a little more fruit for breakfast.

Ah, but do fruit-flavored Pop Tarts really have fruit in them? And if they don't, how exactly would you label them to try to trick people into thinking they were truly fruit-filled?

In a world where food isn't cheese but it is cheesy...where Chik-Fil-A sells ice dream...where food isn't beef but it is beef-flavored, what is the best appellation for Pop Tarts that don't have blueberry in them (I can't find the actual ingredients anywhere on the web because the official Pop Tart website - while fun - is about as useful as toilet paper to a centaur)?

Would you call them...
  • Bluererry-y Pop Tarts - the addition of the extra y makes pronounciation tough
  • Blueberryesque Pop Tarts - a little more high-brow a version of the previous
  • Blueberryish Pop Tarts - and a little more low-brow
  • Pop Tarts Reminiscent of Blueberry - a little wordy but doesn't actually say there are blueberries in there - the definition just says it "bring to mind"
  • Pop Tarts with a hint of blueberry - you can give hints without really giving away the real food, the answers
  • Pop Tarts not entirely unlike blueberry - my personal favorite but probably a little obvious
  • Blueberry-Flavored Pop Tarts - lame, predictable
  • Pop Tarts with the essence of blueberryness - what, though, really is the essence of a blueberry if not real blueberries - could be trouble
  • Pop Tarts that make you think of blueberries - it clearly doesn't say there are blueberries in there
  • Bluebarry Pop Tarts - ah, the old malk trick
  • Bluuberry Pop Tarts - see previous
  • Blueberry-Smelling Pop Tarts - when they're heated, this could work well
  • Pop Tarts with artificial blueberry flavor - again, lame
  • Pop Tarts that remind you of blueberries much more than just about any other Pop Tart flavor does - could be a bit lengthy for the label
Your thoughts? (Other than the fact that my mind is a scary place to be sometimes...)

August 24, 2007

A requiem deserved

Spike Lee has evolved into a truly amazing filmmaker. His initial films (Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, School Daze, Malcolm X) are impressive, don't get me wrong, but all of those were so strongly product of Spike Lee, that the message almost got lost in the hype, the style, the Mars Blackmanosity of the whole thing.

But Spike's late career work (25th Hour, Inside Man, and - most recently for me - When the Levees Broke: a requiem in four acts) shows that he has evolved so much further beyond where he started, that he is beginning to edge toward being mentioned in the upper echelon of greatest American directors of the last century. he has taken his persona, his previously-omnipresent personal style and subsumed it almost entirely when it better serves the story to let the words speak for themselves. Instead of Spike screaming into the camera with vulgarity after vulgarity, racial slur after racial slur, we get Spike sitting behind the camera and letting things roll, happy in his position of framer of the story rather than ranter of the tale.

Most recently, I saw this impressive maturation in Spike's sublime and painful HBO documentary, When the Levees Broke. I sat down this past week and watched all four acts, finding myself drawn more and more tightly into the world of the Katrina victims through the simple act of hearing them tell their tales. There were no fancy camera tricks, no tracking shots through the city, no scripted screaming at the screen (as Spike has used so powerfully - even recently in 25th Hour, though I can't link to it because of the strongly school-inappropriate language search for it on YouTube, really, Ed Norton does a hell of a job). Spike is, in fact, heard only once in the documentary's four hours when he prompts a subject to tell a little more of her story.

The documentary is amazingly well put together, beginning with the storm warnings and briefly tracing back the scientific community's previous attempts to warn the government of what could happen if a huge hurricane hit New Orleans. The first act continues through the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, while the second act covers the immediate aftermath - in the Superdome; on the expressways out of New Orleans; in the lower Ninth Ward; in the corridors of power where the state, federal, and local governments each attempted to both barge in and fall back, saving neither their backsides nor the lives of trapped New Orleans residents; and on the rooftops of New Orleans where so many people risked their lives to save those of the stranded. The third act covers the late storm repurcussions of New Orleans residents scattered to the winds and trying to find their families, returning home to ruined or missing houses, and beginning to consider rebuilding. The final act sees New Orleans host their first post-Katrina Mardi Gras, take on the insurance industry, and begin to lay blame - and there is much to be laid, at many feet.

Never does Spike give us an answer, however. He doesn't say what should have been done or who is to blame. He lets people of New Orleans tell that they believe that the government bombed open the levee walls to save more affluent neighborhoods, and he even shows that there is prescedent for that, but he also lets other people tell that the explosive sounds were from barges hitting the eye walls or even just from the walls themselves failing and being thrown back into the city they were built to protect. Spike seems to know that the tale is too big, too messy for any tidy answers, for any certain conclusions, so he never steps forward to offer even his opinions as to what he thinks probably was the case. (That's a problem I had a year or so ago with another documentary.)

We all know what happened in new Orleans with Katrina.

I knew. I'd seen it on the news and heard the stories on NPR.

But I didn't have a clue as to what it was like to be in New Orleans when Katrina came to town until I saw When the Levees Broke.

If you have the time, you could do a lot worse than sitting down to learn something by immersing yourself in this film.

August 23, 2007

The viking is dead. Long live the viking.

Sad news...

The Cleveland State Vikings are changing their viking logo. Apparently the old logo wasn't exactly fierce enough - even though the new Lil' Vikings logo for all the Princeton elementary schools was just changed to a logo remarkably similar to the CSU viking just a year ago.

Looks like it's a good time to get clearance CSU gear with the old logo on it.

And I know that I should have the red viking killing the green viking in the picture, but I'm too lazy to make my own graphics. I just steal them from various sites and do minor modifications. Deal...

August 22, 2007

To entertain and protect

And yet another post begins with "So I heard this story on NPR..."

Today's NPR-provided news is of Gordon Lee, founder of Legends, a comic book store in Rome, Georgia. According to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's website (more on that group later, by the way), the case comes down to this:
During Halloween week 2004, Gordon Lee’s comic shop, Legends, of Rome, GA, participated in a trick-or-treat event in downtown Rome by distributing free comics. "Alternative Comics #2," the Free Comic Book Day edition from publisher Alternative Comics for 2004, was inadvertently included in the mix of books being given away. The comic was a single copy among thousands of comics being given away that day, and was accidentally handed to a minor, whose parent filed a complaint with the police.

The comic book features a variety of stories from the company's line, including an excerpt from Nick Bertozzi's now published graphic novel The Salon, depicting the first meeting between Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. On three pages of the eight page section, Picasso is depicted in the nude, a factually accurate detail for the period during which the story is set. There is no sexual content in the story.

Upon learning of the error in distributing the comic, Lee admitted that a mistake was made and offered to make a public apology for the first of many times. That apology was rejected, however, so days later, Lee was arrested.
Now upon initial reading, I wasn't entirely sure that such an action should be forgivable. The man gave a comic with nudity to a child - depending on when the details of the case were given - of the age of either six or nine or children of both. Perhaps the parents overreacted, for I certainly doubt whether seeing a comic book with a fat, nude artist in it would scar a child for life, but giving the kid a nuddie mag doesn't seem quite right.

Upon further reading, however, the law with which Lee has been charged sates that it is illegal...
(1) for “distributing a book, pamphlet, magazine, and printed matter containing pictures, drawings and visual representation and images of a person an portion of the human body which depict sexually explicit nudity, sexual conduct, and sadomasochistic abuse and which is harmful to minors;” and (2) for knowingly furnishing and disseminating to a minor materials “containing explicit and detailed verbal descriptions and narrative accounts of sexual excitement, sexual conduct, and sadomasochistic abuse and which taken as a whole is harmful to minors.”
...doesn't seem in the least to describe a graphic novel (note the change in terminology there...it's subtle but powerful to use semantics in the argument, I'll admit) that lacks sexual content and retells a historically-signficant (in the art world, at least) event which happens to involve a rather gnomish, naked man.

There are a number of other details to the case which make me hopeful that Lee is found not guilty:

  • The prosecution changed the charges on the eve of the April, 2006 trial.

  • Prosecution changed the charges a second time in special session of the Grandy Jury without notifying the defense team.

  • Lee has a history with this prosecution office:
    In fact, this is not his first run-in with a Georgia obscenity law. In a 1993 case, Lee was convicted of selling a pornographic comic book to an adult. In the process, says Cadle, who defended him in that case, police illegally seized hundreds of “obscene” comic books, and refused to return them. Cadle sued the city and the district attorney’s office on Lee’s behalf and won an $18,000 judgment along with a court order requiring the return of the books. “I think what we’re seeing today is in part retaliation from them,” says Begner. Paterson denies this, saying that she did not work on the 1993 case and that the prior conviction is only significant as an aggravating factor. Cadle did not comment on possible retaliation, saying only “I think [Lee] would be possibly facing a stiffer penalty if convicted. You’d rather take a client into court who has no record.”
...but the fact that one prosecutor has acted oddly and is pursuing a case that seems, at best, overly harsh if not downright spurious.

Instead, the part that truly bothers me is in the continuing erosion of our freedoms that we see happening all around us. The text of the first amendment is simple, and it is something that should be memorized and learned by every person in the United States. It is probably more important to know and defend the following words than it is to be able to quote the first lines of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution Itself:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Thankfully there are a few organizations out there that regularly fight to defend the first ammendment.And lots of them are out there particularly fighting to help protect the rights of comic book creators. The ALA put out some recommendations for great teen graphic novels and advice for librarians in defending their graphic novel choices. The CBLDF also has put together a fair bit of work on why graphic novels aren't just for kids and shouldn't be treated as such. And a neat-looking t-shirt...

We all need to remember that any erosion of our freedom that doesn't happen to catch us this time just lays the ground work for our own freedoms to be taken later down the road.

I'll close today with a plea from Jim Lee for donations to the CBLDF. So get out there any buy a t-shirt or something, folks.

And thanks, by the by, to any friends and fellow bloggers who might've pushed the limits themselves last year.

August 21, 2007

So, whatcha been doin?


Me, I've been working on a new template for the sports website over at good ol' PHS.

Check it and comment as you see fit.

August 20, 2007

More media, more media, more media...

When we last left our heroes...

>Superman/Batman - Enemies Among Us - Love the whole Superman/Batman thing...the series rolls along like few comic series that I've read in a long time with loads of touches and tips of the cap to the old school comics (Absolute Power & With a Vengance, especially...this arc, though, stunk...random characterization throughout...weird switch of artists midway...overly saccharine ending of Batman & Superman realizing that they really are friends - in spite of the whole Infinite Crisis hullabaloo...I miss Jeph Loeb...


Superman & Batman vs Aliens & Predator - no better...in fact, even worse...the whole concept of Superman & Aliens never really worked...Batman/Predator at least did for a fair while...then things just got ridiculous...in this one, Superman & Batman bumble on a cache of Aliens & Predators, both of whom have been living deep within a volcano for centuries, evolving and hunting each other...but the American Government needs to nuke the site - at this very moment...Superman, stupidly-written boyscout that he is, has to save the two races...moronic...poor...weak artwork...here's to hoping that the concept of throwing DC in with Aliens/Predators has finally died...



JLA - Tornado's Path - it feels like the Justice League...where the last series had clearly run its course, this one feels good, old school...the Tornado's dead (again), and the JLA has to pick up the pieces...it's like we've been through this before, but it's good, familiar ground to tread...genius idea by Metzler to start with this old chestnut...and the team just falls together around the new threat that isn't quite revealed in this collection...and the opening issue with Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman picking the team is absolutely perfect...then at the end of the whole trade, they've given up that control to the group that's come together by happenstance...it's so right...it feels good to have them back together again...



Civil War: X-Men Universe - collecting some bits and bobs from X-Factor and Cable & Deadpool...surprisingly entertaining, especially the Deadpool bits where his internal monologue was having some trouble...the Cable parts of the story were a bit preachy but fit with the character...I even enjoyed the X-Factor stuff...interesting characters like the little girl who can tell the future, leader who doesn't know if he should really be the leader, neat support crew...if I were a Marvel guy, this is a series that I think I'd be following 'cause so much of the rest of the X-Universe is a mess...



Digging the Super Paper Mario (henceforth SPM) for the Wii...feel free to check the trailer above (or at the link)...The Girl and I rented SPM to check it before buying it...aweseomly cool game...very neat features that are totally new to the Wii...kind of hard to explain, but you're wandering a 2d world like a normal Mario game, then by hitting the A button, your 2d Mario turns 90 degrees into the third dimension and is able to step in front of or behind what would normally be hinderances to him...it's a mix of simple Mario game - wander from left to right, find coins, stomp mushrooms and turtles, etc - and a puzzle game where you have to do certain actions in certain orders to get to the next part...loads of fun for players of all ages (my younger niece was in to visit, so I have anecdotal evidence)...the only beef I had was in the framing device - stupid story about badguy kidnapping Mario's friends...the between-level animations are impossible to skip, and the there's a whole lot of text to read, some of which seems important enough that you can't skip right through it...if you're willing to hit the buttons a bunch of times and halfway pay attention to get back to the next level, it's a wonderful game...sadly, I didn't buy it because I got halfway through it (solving the first four levels) in about twelve hours of play spread over five days...at that point, it didn't seem like a good investment to drop another $30 to own it and probably solve it in a week or so...loads of other reviewers agree, strong buy on this one...



Rant:an oral biography - new Chuck Pahlniuk means new reading for me...I've read six of his books now, and four of them (Fight Club, Diary, Haunted, and Rant) are among the finest books (IMHO) of the past couple of decades...the others - Choke & Lullaby - weren't awful, just not good...Rant is subtitled as an oral biography, which means that the entire story of Rant Casey - who we learn in the first chapter is dead - is told in bits and pieces by people who knew bits and pieces about him...the story switches through dozens of narators, each of whom reveals a little more about our subject...I got it as an audio book, and the premise worked marvelously - different voices telling bits of the story, different performers reading each voice...wonderfully well done...by the time the book gets rolling, the identities of each character seem to fade as you forget just who is telling you about Rant at the moment...in this way, Pahlniuk has written a book almost the way an impressionist would paint a picture - no one spot of paint is important, no one is the key, but the sum of the parts is near perfect...and the book's got a cool website, too...apparently Rant is to be the first in a trilogy of books about Rant Casey...if the others turn out to be this good, I'll be happy...



Ratatouille - love the Pixar films (didn't see Cars, admittedly)...in spite of the fact that they're pretty much all excellent, this one is - frighteningly to say, the best of their line so far...simple enough set-up - rat loves food, finds himself in Paris, wants to eat & cook...the movie's marvelous, and pretty much all the critics agree (averaging a 96 out of 100 on metacritic.com)...not a single missed note...near-perfect from start to finish...hilarious, touching, great ending...great acting, amazing animation from Pixar (not that it's a surprise at this point)...wonderful film - no extras after the credits, though...heads up there...



Ocean's Thirteen - better than the second one, still well below the fun of the first...first half of the film is boring - lugubrious, if you were more lexicographically inclined...they've eliminated all the eye candy (and horse face, too) for the boys in the audience leaving us with just the boys this time around...I mentioned to The Girl after the film that all the ring-a-ding-ding is pretty much gone...she agreed (in perhaps her greatest quick-witted comeback ever) that it had been rung...I've been fooled twice by these jokers, but this is it...I'll watch the first one again, but I'm done...the dialogue has gotten stilted - too many names and comments that mean nothing other than let us know that these are guys who know what they're doing...too many non-sequitor entries (just Brad Pitt this time, thankfully)...too many funny noses and mustaches...this isn't a must ache, it's a mistake...though there were apparently lots of Godfather references throughout...



Bourne Ultimatum - excellent action flick...like one big chase/action scene from start to finish but not to the point that there were no breaks...Bourne gets in a fight, travels to another city, breaks into an unbreakable place, fights, travels...rinse, repeat...very strong cast (Julia Stiles, Joan Allen, Matt Damon, Jason Straitharn (sp?)) giving excellent performances...Damon's an absolute beast or at least portrays one very well...best of the three film-run and a clear cut ending...serisouly, the best non-Asian action movie in a number of years...I'd recommend seeing the first two before this one, but well worth going through all three...things blow up and crash, people get kicked and killed, the government's evil but there are good people in some of the marginalized positions...excellent film...




Four starving lions which dug their way out of a Baghdad zoo have been shot dead by American soldiers, the military says.
Two of the big cats lunged for the US troops who then fired at them, one soldier said.

The lions were among hundreds of animals abandoned at the zoo.

Most of the others were stolen by looters or released in the aftermath of the US takeover of the Iraqi capital.

But the thieves left seven lions and two tigers in their cages, unfed for 10 or more days.

Sergeant Matthew Oliver said three lionesses and one male lion clawed their way out of their outdoor pen through a crumbling wall.

"Two of them charged our guys. We had to take them down," he said.

"The zoo keeper came the next day and he was pretty cut up, but I think he understood."
And that's the entire BBC story on which Pride of Baghdad is based. Some lions got out of the Baghdad zoo, and American soldiers killed them.

From such humble beginnings comes a marvelous work of fiction from Brian K Vaughn in which the four escaped lions attempt to find their way in a bombed-out Baghdad where no one is handing them food anymore. The lions consider staying at the zoo and waiting for the keepers to return, eventually leave the zoo, and soon find themselves in need of a good, freshly-killed meal. In the process they run into a larger predator defending its home as well as a column of American tanks rolling through town.

The tale is wonderfully told, seeking to reveal much more about the inhumanity of war than any sort of alergorical tale - as some reviewers had hoped for. The gorgeous artwork throughout the volume is both understated (never turning the animals into charictures) and lush (rich color washes bringing out the alternatingly hopeful and terrifying emotions of the pride), making the story even more accessible than the words alone could ever do.

By the end of this graphic novel, I was in tears. Vaughn's words and Henrichon's works of art allowed me to so thoroughly identify with the lions that I couldn't help but shed tears when we found them dying from the American gunshots.

The Girl skimmed through the book and thought that the subtlety of the story would be lost on her ninth-graders, and that's a shame, because so many of them (and adults, too) think that comic books are simply for kids. This volume, however, could very easily prove the point that at their best, graphic novels tell a wonderful story and give us stunning visuals to match them. Pride of Baghdad is one of the highlights of the last year in comic books.

Please read it...

August 19, 2007

Four more...

I'm still all over Seeqpod.com because it lets me pick very specific playlists and access them from any computer in the world. Pandora.com and Musicovery.com are both good for picking music in a general mood, but neither one can quarantee me that the music's clean or that I can get the very specific songs that I want.

So today I drop down a few more playlists for ya - three of my creation and one from a regular reader.

Let's start with GRob's Gratuitious 80s Playlist..

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SeeqPod Music beta - Playable Search

Then we'll go to A whole bunch of Wilco...can't guarantee that they're all perfectly clean...

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SeeqPod Music beta - Playable Search

Next up is a survey of The Mountain Goats...again, some not school-appropriate music mixed in there...

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SeeqPod Music beta - Playable Search

And the last one's new...a bunch of my favorite folk and country songs...August 19, 2007...

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SeeqPod Music beta - Playable Search

August 18, 2007

Deep in the heart of Texas...

Sure, their voices don't sound like they should work together, but I do so love Bonnie Raitt duetting with John Prine on his "Angel from Montgomery"...wonderful version from Austin City Limits...in case you need a direct link instead of the embed...


And some Richard Thompson (with Danny on base, of course) doing "Mingus Eyes"...again with the link...


Robert Earl Keen doing "Shades of Grey"...with linkage if you need it...


Some Son Volt with "Catching On"...linked before embedded...


Eric Johnson (THE modern guitar hero) shredding away in the link space and...


The rest aren't from YouTube but rather from the Austin City Limits tv show website...no embedding for these...

My all-time favorite performance from the show: Cafe Tacuba..

From Bright Eyes doing "At the Bottom"...you'll need Real Player (I think)...

Sheryl Crow brings out Ryan Adams for "If It Makes You Happy..."...again with the Real Player...

A gorgeous "All At Sea" from Jamie Cullum...RP...

Too short a "Babylon" from David Gray...RP...

Chris Isaak (wonderful live performer, if you ever get the chance) doing "Let Me Down Easy"...RP...

The inimitable Etta James "At Last"...RP...

A lighter-looking Blues Traveler doing "Amber Awaits"...no RP needed...

Great ol' Ray Davies with "All Day and All of the Night"...RP...

Brilliant Sufjan Stevens on "Casmir Pulaski Day"...with wings, even...no RP required...

My favorite, Wilco, doing "I'm a Wheel"...all without RP...

Alison Krauss got "Restless"...RP...

Ray LaMontagne belts out "I've Been Saved By a Woman"...RP...

Another all-time favorite of mine, Lyle Lovett, with "My Baby Don't Tolerate"...RP...I particularly enjoy his pre-song patter here...

A near-perfect performance of "Float On" by Modest Mouse...in the RP format...

"Monkey Gone to Heaven" by the reformed Pixies...thoroughly RP...

The ever-freaky Polyphonic Spree throws down the cacophony of "Hold Me Tight"...RP...

Damien Rice's "Volcano"...hauntingly in RP...

Local boys Spoon give out "Girls Can Tell"...RP...

Joss Stone's tiny frame and massive voice on "Victim"...RP 'cause that's what they do on the site...

There are a bunch more clips on the Austin City Limits website, but sadly lots of them are of the thirty-seconds-or-less variety.

If you're not reguarly watching Austin City Limits on PBS's Saturday nights, you have only two excuses: you're out of the country or you've got a social life.

Other than that, your butt should be down on the couch.

The return of the Keepon

Looks like the Keepon has returned to our rockin' little world...


And if the embed doesn't work, here's a link...

August 17, 2007

Friggin' heel dragging so and so

I screwed up...dragged my heels for two years before getting around to buying Absolute Watchmen.

And by the time I did finally order it, it was out of stock all around the internet.

I've checked a couple of commerce aggregators, and nobody's got the Absolute edition left on the web. Sure, I can pay $125 through Amazon or at least $90 through eBay, but the original retail was $75. For some reason I just can't bring myself to pay triple digits for a book.

To make sure this doesn't happen again, I've already pre-ordered Absolute Sandman, vol 2.

So, Kyle, is it as wonderful as I expect?

August 16, 2007

The continuing coolness of recycling

C'mon, who doesn't love Reading Rainbow?

I know I do.

Today, for example, LeVar told me that there's an artist - Jeff Davis - in New York who takes old vinyl LPs & 45s and turns them into vinyl bowls - like the one in the picture, smooth vinyl bowls, wall clocks (personally, I prefer the ones made from full LPs), snack trays, and coasters. He even turns the LP covers into sketchbooks.

Very cool...

Especially since you can even do custom bowls from your favorite album.

August 15, 2007

In which our hero reveals - yet again - his dorky side

I've got a thing for the periodic table.

It's nothing freaky and weird, nothing unhealthy or marriage-risking. It's not like I curl up next to an inflatable periodic table each night or anything.

It's just that I dig the periodic table in all its myriad forms.

Each year, I kick off my chemistry classes with a unit about the periodic table. It used to be a larger unit before the preceeding course started covering more chemistry than they had before, but it's still something that I like to begin with because so much of our chemical information comes from the simple discovery of the periodic law by Dmitri Mendeleev. (If you want to know more about the discovery itself, check out the amazingly thorough but sadly boring book Mendelyev's Dream or a more succinct article here.)

Today's post, however, isn't about how the periodic table works but rather just how cool it is that loads of chemists have looked at the same information, the same hundred and some elements and come up with such amazingly different ways to show the relationships.

There's the typical one that most everybody sees in their chemistry class, but it turns out that even that one is only typical here in the US because our paper fits the right proportions for it. A lot of other countries show the same table in a different arrangment because it fits their paper better (all it does is move those bottom two rows up into the tan rows shown below)
But the rectangular arrangments - stretched or not - just isn't good enough for a lot of chemists. They want some sort of spiral arrangement, showing that the end of each row connects right into the beginning of the next. The most attractive edition of that maps the elements onto a spiral galaxy and is shown at the top of this post. It's also available for purchase here. The spiral folks have all sorts of disciples as seen in Edgar Longman's 1951 mural or Prof Benfey's lumpy spiral or on periodicspiral.com or even on cyclicalcontinuum.com.

Lots of people even take the periodic law into the third dimension with chemical helixes, Alexander Arrangements, elementouch, and even a wooden model that I can't find right now.

And of course there are the periodic tables that don't add much to the study of chemistry but are all about the love.

There's the periodic table of the elephants (which you can buy as a poster here) that began as a class project and grew into something a little larger.


Theodore Gray also has a thing for periodic tables as evidenced by his amazing collection of elements which he has photographed and turned into a beautiful poster, a very cool wooden table, and a neat plexiglass version, too.


I even found a cake version of the table. So tasty...

And I'm not even going to get into the various "periodic table(s) of" that make periodic table-shaped posters of everything from vegetables and desserts to sexual positions (I'm not linking to that one or displaying it in the classroom, thanks for asking) and cupcakes. Those aren't really periodic in any way and are just made for the cash. They're just sad, really.

But I do kind of dig the Kansas version of the table.

Many thanks to Chemogenesis for the help with research in this post.

August 14, 2007

Big timer...step clear...


I have apparently made the big time as Transbuddha linked to me in yesterday's post about the wonders of Wikipedia.

Between that and a permanent link on Technically Overboard's sidebar, I do belive that my blogging life is complete.

You know...it's that thing I do from time to time...

You might have seen this somewhere else before...

Back to my favorite twenty-five flicks

In honor of the recently-seen Bourne Ultimatum...

My favorite Joan Allen films:
  1. The Upside of Anger
  2. Off the Map
  3. The Bourne Ultimatum
  4. Pleasantville
  5. Face/Off
My favorite Scott Glenn films:
  1. Apocalypse Now
  2. The Hunt for Red October
  3. The Bourne Ultimatum
  4. Nashville
  5. The Silence of the Lambs
My favorite David Strathairn films:
  1. Bob Roberts
  2. Sneakers
  3. Good Night, and Good Luck
  4. The Bourne Ultimatum
  5. Eight Men Out
My favorite Julia Stiles films:
  1. The Bourne Ultimatum
  2. The Bourne Identity
  3. Save the Last Dance
  4. The Bourne Supremacy
  5. 10 Things I Hate About You

  6. I had to go with the three Bourne films - which I was avoiding on the others - because I've seen so few of her films and am not willing to dignify A Guy Thing which may be the worst movie I've ever seen.
My favorite Matt Damon films:
  1. Ocean's Eleven
  2. Dogma
  3. Rounders
  4. The Bourne Ultimatum
  5. Good Will Hunting

August 13, 2007

Summer's third act

Ok, loads of media to cover...let's roll through quickly...

Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix - pretty good...special effects keep getting better...actors keep getting more proficient...loads of storylines excised for the virtue of the time constraints of the film...still nothing like the books - not nearly as good...two more coming, both of which I'm sure I'll end up seeing anyway...better than the first two...on par with the fourth...behind #3...

Breach - excellent film with Ryan Phillippe as a real-life undercover FBI agent hunting another FBI agent turned traitor...high drama...very tense...excellent acting from Chris Cooper & Laura Linney...surprisingly short film...

The Fountain - wow, ciritical reception all over the place...some people loved it, others hated it...I loved it...beautiful love story...the importance of being with the one you love over everything else (especially your job)...amazing film...gorgeous special effects, wonderful themes...the ending was a bit 2001-ish for me, and critics have complained, too...the first 90% if the film are marvelous...

All-Star Superman - kinda weird volume here...reworked version of the standard Superman storyline...a bit of an Ultimate line for DC but not interconnected like Marvel's real one...lots of steampunk version of Superman crossed with the old-school, imaginary stories (Jimmy Olson and Lois both get temporary super powers in the half dozen issues collected here...neat stuff to read, though...artwork left me cold - nothing special at all...neat stories...worth checking out and seeing if you wanna go with the new version of old school superman...

Ultimate Fantastic Four - God War - generally like the Ultimate FF, but didn't feel anything for this volume....introduced Ultimate Thanos...weird stuff about people from another universe far more advanced than the Ultimate one...but, of course, Reed saves that day...'cause he's the smartest guy in like all the universes or dimensions or whatever the storyline needs him to be...art's still good, series is still rolling along, but this volume just didn't do it for me...

Ultimate X-Men - Cable - the Ultimate universe continues to drag in more and more characters...here we get Cable - dragging back from the future to do something about changing the way things turn out...it's a revolutionary storyline...never been done before... now there is a big deal 'bout killing a major character (not that I'll say who dies - or whether he really dies or not)...interesting read with Cable having pretty clear plans but not clear reasons...solid storyline..continuing good stuff from Ultimate...

August 12, 2007

First! First! First!

As the year of eternal campaigning rolls ever onward, we were greeted this week with the shining, happy news that the first primary may come in December of 2007.

Seriously, I heard a promise of this yesterday on NPR in a preliminary story, and even today it isn't in the least the last word in this stupid, ignorant, desparate attempt by a number of states to push earlier and earlier toward dropping ballots in the month of December rather than waiting until at least late January.

This is absolutely nuts...freakin' crazy...stupid, dumb, and asinine.

Somebody has to be first. You can't all possibly be first, you morons.

And in a related issue, I am already tired of the aparently eternal campaigning for the primaries. The official announcements appeared this year nearly a year before the first primary (whenever the heck that turns out to be), and I'm bored.

On a related note, I've heard that the Evendale Fraternal Order of Waterbuffalo will be holding their GOP candidate debate (supposedly to be attended by seven of the eight front-runners for the GOP nomination) in two weeks. Get your tickets early, folks, as it'll be one of only 239,323 candidate debates this year.

Anybody know anything about this stuff?

I've got three lists going on Amazon.com. The one I want to mention today is the one I call Things to Read, See, or Hear. The other two are My Wishlist and one of possible gifts for folks (I'll not link to that one in case any of those folks stumble 'round here).

I'm curious today as to whether any of you have read, seen, or heard any of the stuff on my list. If so, two questions:
  • Should I continue to pursue that item - if so, why...if not, why not?
  • What other item should I add to the list based on that item?

August 11, 2007

A design challenge

The Girl is looking for a webpage for her library, and I've worked up an initial design. There's still a bit of coding to come - loads of stacked tables and some java script to make some of the pictures load at random.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

August 10, 2007

Dorks of the world, unite!

Somebody pointed out to me that there's a new card game out there, and it's based on a bit of chemistry. The whole game's based on some sort of chemical reactivity kind of thing.

Honestly, I've got no real idea how the game works because the set hasn't been released yet, but it's a set of chemistry cards. And it was developed by thirteen year olds.

I'm gonna order me one of these sets once they're available.

August 9, 2007

A matchup for the ages!

...specifically for the 12-and-under crowd.

Make that crown.

In a titanic battle, it looks like NALL will face WSLL in Saturday's regional finals.

Check you local ESPN for times.

Name that theme

I live in a themed subdivision. The streets are named Quail Run, Eagle, Heron, Mallard, Dove, Sandpiper, Pelican, and Falcon.

When I was teaching in Mt. Healthy, a number of students lived in a neighborhood they called The Planets with Neptune, Zodiac, Polaris, Aquarius, Venus, Moonlight, Sirius, Morningstar, Mercury, Mars, and Planet. (I know, they're not all planets, but they still called the neighborhood The Planets.)

I've known friends who lived on Lord Alfred with Tennyson, Percivale, Gareth, Bedevere, and Locksley (admittedly, not the most masculine of neighborhoods) right nearby.

But I've not yet found any neighborhoods whose streets have themed names that I'd be happy with. Today's challenge to you is two-fold. First, gimme some street names in a theme that you'd like to make if you were a developer. Second, see if you can identify the themes I used in the following possible neighborhoods:

Neighborhood theme #1
  • Wayne St.
  • Prince St.
  • Jordan St
  • Kent St.
  • Allen St.
  • Curry St.
  • Jones St.
Neighborhood theme #2
  • McCormick St.
  • Marsh Blvd.
  • Stotch Ave.
  • Broflovski Ln.
  • Cartman St. (probably the giveaway)
Neighborhood theme #3
  • Summers Ave.
  • Worthington Ln
  • McCoy Dr.
  • Drake St.
  • Grey Ave.
Neighborhood theme #4
  • Berry St.
  • Brown St.
  • Charles St.
  • Cooke Ave.
  • Domino Ln.
  • Everly Rd.
  • Holly Ct.
  • Lewis Pk.
  • Richard Circle
  • Presley Ln.
Neighborhood theme #5
  • LeRoy Ave.
  • Harlan Ln.
  • Willie Rd.
  • Sheebie Ct.
  • Charlie Circle
  • Blitz Blvd.
  • Nick Rd.
  • Tillie St.
Neighborhood theme #6
  • Marbury St.
  • McCulloch Ave.
  • Plessy Blvd.
  • Buchanan Ct.
  • Debs Ct.
  • Brown St.
  • Gideon Rd.
  • Miranda St.
  • Escobedo Ct.
  • Kelo Ave
Neighborhood theme #7
  • Stirratt St
  • Cline Ct.
  • Kotche Circle
  • Sansone St.
  • Jorgensen Dr.
  • Bach Blvd.
  • Johnston Rd.
  • Bennett Blvd.
  • Egan Ln.
  • Coomer Ct.
  • Tweedy Rd.
Neighborhood theme #8
  • Cobb Ct.
  • Ruth Rd.
  • Wagner Way
  • Matthewson St.
  • Johnson Circle
And where would you go with things?

August 8, 2007

Put your crap to good use

Okay, time to get your crap together.

Check the recent article 'bout composting over at the Journal-News. The article really isn't anything special except for one small mention right at the end when they point out that Cox Arboretum up in Dayton is offering a series of three free classes in how to get composting at the end of which you get a free composting bin!

Seriously, free composting bins for all the folks who take the class.

Personally, I'm signing up with The Girl so we can get two bins. That'll let up chip up the crap left over from the now cut-down willow tree from the back yard.

Speaking of which, I'm in need of somebody who can turn a six-foot tree stump into some kind of sculpture using...I dunno...a chainsaw or something.

I'm not terribly picky as to what the sculpture depicts (probably nothing too graphic or vulgar, donchaknow), but The Girl's got a bug in her bonnet about turning the stump into a sculpture.

So...

Any available artistes out there wanna do a blogger a solid?

August 7, 2007

Smack the ol' ball around

Been a while since I posted a quality online game 'round these parts, but luckily the good people at WeAreGame haven't slowed down with throwing games and games and more games our way. Luckily, today we're blessed with a quality li'l time waster in the form of Pinch Hitter 2.

So, take some time and smack the cowhide around a bit.

Do remember, however, to follow the rules when you do play. And if it's a rule, don't complain about it when you get punished because you broke it. Sure, try to change the rule, but accept that you have to follow them until they're changed.

Sheesh...

PS - Congrats to the Hamilton Nine who beat NA's Little Leaguers 2-0 in last night's game. According to my reporter on the scene, it was amazing.

August 6, 2007

Like rabbits, I tell ya...

Would you believe that the picture to the left is now three kids short?

The Duggars Family (check their website has apparently added a seventeenth pup to the brood.

So many comments come to mind on so many different topics - overpopulation, use of our resources, reproductive health, Christianity's views on birth control, dressing your kids alike, why I don't have kids, getting overrun, starting all your kids' names with the same initials - that I don't even think I can coherently comment in any of the areas.

If you want to know more, feel free, also, to check out the Discovery Channel website.

Dude, I saw that!

If you've been hanging around the blog for a while, you might remember a while back when I mentioned the Milwaukee Brewers introduction of the new chorizo addition to the famous Sausage Race. And a couple of weeks ago I even got the chance to head to Miller Park and see the Sausage Race in person.

Oddly enough, it turns out that ESPN had sent an intern - or some crap-level journalist, maybe - to take part in the Race that same night, and he has some tips to offer for anybody out there who might hope to one day take part in the race (not that it's regularly open to the public). Another site has offered up a backstage view of the race, itself.

I'll tell ya, the race was everybit as exciting in person as it is on video - and probably more exciting than some video versions.

August 5, 2007

Hot stuff at the Jungle

Similar to yesterday's posting, I've got another last-day warning for you today. Jungle Jim's Weekend of Fire started yesterday and ends today as you could get a chance to try loads and loads and loads of hot sauces and hot foods for a pretty cheap ($4 per person) entry price.

If you need to know the kinds of stuff you might be getting yourself into, feel free to check the Journal-News's story on the festival, and the video of their reporter trying the hot sauces. Good stuff...

Are you nuts?!?!?!

I'm currently watching the Republican debates on the ABC Sunday morning show, and I'm amazed at how far many of my beliefs are from many of the Repbulican candidates. In particular, the words of Tom Tancredo when he said that the largest deterrent against a nuclear attack on US soil by radical Islamic terrorists was to threaten to bomb Mecca and Medina. To make sure that I'm not misquoting Tancredo, here he is on a radio show reaffirming those words:


I am amazed and abhored.

August 4, 2007

Don't sit on this opportunity

Again, we turn to the happenings in Hamilton - City of Sculpture for an update on the continuing sculpturification of the city.

This past year has seen Hamilton sculptureized with a whole plethora of sculpturific park benches. They've been thrown down 'round the city with most of them ending up near the courthouse, leaving the courthouse area thoroughly sculpturitized.

But to make thing even more sculpturetastic, the benches are now availabe to buy via an auction that, sadly, ends today at 5pm. I'd especially recommend the sculptursome New Twist, sculpturistic Inspired by Gaudi, and Phil Moore's very own sculpturinizationalized The Thinker. Bidding started at $100 but has been going up ever since.

Make sure to check 'em before their gone.