April 30, 2008

That's a heck of a pair of pants

And that's how you mess with your brother.


April 29, 2008


Since TL pointed out One Sentence, I've been reading incessently through the archives - thankfully they allow clauses.

April 28, 2008

The good, the bad, and the worst

A few reviews...'cause it's been a while...

Next in the run of Teen Titans was Titans East, the tale of Deathstroke's Titans killers.

The setup is that Deathstroke - a quality villian who's been terrorizing and trying to kill the Titans since back in Judas Contract. He's, at this point, become the Titans' arch enemy - their Joker, their Lex Luthor, their...um...Wonder Woman's Circe, I guess. This volume certainly isn't on par with Judas in terms of rocking the Titans' foundations, but it's a fun read as each Titan gets taken down one member at a time and eventually have to come together and fight back - a pretty standard Titans story but one done pretty well here.

We get an explanation of why Batgirl has seemingly gone off the rails - a bit too easily explained and undone for my tastes. We get Titans dealing with aspects of the past - Superboy's death foremost among them. We get some decent fight scenes.

Good read.

Two things did bother me about the art, however. One, I'm used to Deathstroke's mask being a solid thing, leaving the face totally expressionless - like this - but throughout this volume, his mask is a flexible thing that clings to him and allows his facial expressions to come through.

Two, Raven and Batgirl are hard to tell apart without the red ruby in Raven's forehead. They're both drawn in ickily skin-tight black leather with identical hair lengths and surprisingly similar facial features.

The Titans good read is contrasted ever so easily with Diana Prince: Wonder Woman which may just be the worst graphic novel that I've ever read.

We open with a very much old-school Wonder Woman, big doe eyes, crushing hard on Steve Trevor all girly girly with her head on his shoulder one panel and knocking bullets with her bracelets in the next. By the end of the first issue, however, Steve's in jail - supposedly because of WW's dual life as WW and Diana Prince. So in the next issue, WW gives up all of her powers and loses her connections to Paradise Island - wiping out nearly every essential aspect of the character in about a page and a half - and turning her into a very clear Emma Peel knockoff complete with faux mod language, a new hairdo, and an Eastern, martial arts guru known a bit too spot-on as I Ching. And then, by the end of this volume, the writers try to turn WW back to her history by making her have to go back to the instantly and inscrutably available-again Paradise Island to save momma from some Ares gobbeldy gook.

Had any of this been done with an entirely new character, hoping to hope on the mod/Avengers bandwagon, the comic might have been merely thrown into the dustbin of hundreds of such comic series that have gone with the whims of society. Instead, these stories were told with one of the alleged icons of comicdom, the greatest female hero that the four color panel pages have ever seen. Instead of treating that character's history with any respect or even knowledge, this volume simply throws off every story told before as though they were nothing more than first drafts by some third-rate seventh-grade writer...and replaces them with dreck equally as embarassing.
  • The artwork is poor.
  • The storylines are poor.
  • The fight scenes are lame.
  • The logic used is internally inconcistent.
  • The changes are half-baked and only half committed to (as Diana falls in love with some new, hip guy - Reginald Hyde-Whyte, seriously? - in about three panels, leaving her no more independent than she'd been before the rewrite.)
This volume is worth picking up only if you run out of toilet paper or think you're a little too smart and want to make yourself dumber.

I'm about three quarters of the way through Black Dossier, the third volume in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and I'm not sure just yet what to think. The initial volume of the League was fantastic, and the second volume every bit as impressive.

What Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill seem to be attempting to do is to gather together a number of disparate ideas about the league - various adventures that the League could have gone on in different eras - and to put them out there without quite fleshing any of them out into entire series as the previous volumes had. These tales - told in numerous different styles throughout this book - are collected in the book-within-a-book Black Dossier that contains the bulk of this volume and that serves - within the tale - as a McGuffin to get the framing device moving.

To some extent, this book feels very much like Moore trying on a dozen different styles - including, oddly, different types of paper, even - and providing admittedly interesting and well-written individual adventures that never quite come together into a unified tale. Each of the pieces is fascinating - well, maybe other than the Beatnik-styled story that I'll admit I just couldn't get through - in and of themselves, but the pieces just never coalesce into anything more.

The entire volume is every bit as dense and referential as anything that has come before, but the different between the greatness of the first two volumes and the goodness of this one is that lack of cohesion.

That being said, this is well worth reading. And rereading a few times - because of the aforementioned denseness.

A few years ago I reviewed In the Name of Gog - the second of the Superman-Gog trades (following Wrath of Gog and came away thinking rather poorly of the collection, it having the feel of being a major, big event but turned out to not have any repurcussions - sort of like the mess that the Ruin arc turned out to be.

On rereading each of the Superman-Gog trades, I was surprised at how much - agreeing with Collected Editions - more moving I found the trades to be. In all honesty, the reviews on Collected Editions - of the first volume, as well - are spot on. There are a issues with the trades - the Lois-Lana bit is a mess, the Creeper storyline never develops, there are too many villians and heroes on hand in the first, the Preus storyline also dies on the vine, even the rehabilitation of Doomsday fails for me - but the trades end up working for me in the long run.

And now, for the pick of the week...

It was about five months ago now that I first heard a bit of Vampire Weekend on NPR, and I immediately threw their eponymous debut album onto my reserve list at the library. The fact that it took until this week for the album to make its way to me, however, speaks to the popularity of their first album.

And the wait was totally worth it.

From the first strains to the last, the album as a great shot of Afro-raggae-pop love. The references are amazingly literate - not surprising once I found out they met at Columbia - referencing Cape Cod, the Khyber Pass, Louis Vuitton, and the music is disasterously catchy.

This is easily the best new album I've heard this year, and I'm thinking it's going to stay in heavy rotation for me for a fair while.

Check it if you haven't already.

SeeqPod - Playable Search

April 27, 2008

Walken a mile in his shoes

He's a Renaissance man...he cooks...

...he dances...

...he reads children's stories...

...he wins thespian awards...

...he played Hawaii-5-O...

...he gives good interview...

...he plays Puss...in Boots...

...he does a mean pelvic thrust...

...he produces nothing but hits...

...he fights like a madman...

...he inspires millions...

...millions, I tell you...

Check the non-embedding interview with Henry Rollins...

April 26, 2008

Happy spring, folks

The weather here in the midwest is turning from winter very quickly into spring as all the trees have now passed their blooming stages, and we're smack in the middle of mow-your-lawn-twice-a-week season.

Last night The Girl and I took honorable dog #2 out for a walk around the lake at Voice of America Park, and the weather was gorgeous. This morning it's turned a little chillier, but that doesn't mean I'm any less ready for summer.

And these spring afternoons have been reminding me of spring afternoons at the Lambda Chi house. We would walk back to the house after classes, and from a block away - straight up the street leading home - you would start to hear the strains of music blasting from the house stereo, one of the brothers having dragged it out onto the second-floor balcony and thrown in one of the half dozen discs that seemed to be in permanent rotation.

Spring afternoons, to me, sound like this...

SeeqPod - Playable Search

Like the Allman Brothers have said...

Sometimes I feel...

I said sometimes I feel...

Like I been tied to the whipping posts...

April 24, 2008

In which our intrepid blogger tries to recapture a taste of his youth

The Girl came home from Jungle Jim's this Sunday announcing that she had a surprise for me.

After letting me throw down a couple of guesses (tiramisu, Homewheats, The Good Salsa), she gave up and pulled out a six pack of 8oz cans of Big Red.

That's right, Big Frickin' Red.

America's #1 red soda - and the #6 best-selling carbonated soft drink in all of America...it's Big Red, boys, or it's nothing.

I remember growing up in Southern Indiana - right across the river from Louisville - and loving whenever Dad would stop by the store and pick up a 2L of Big Red and a box of ice cream (he's still a Kroger brand guy) and make Big Red floats for days. The grossness of the pink-colored, milky dredges left at the bottom of the glass where your long teaspoon wouldn't quite reach.

It was like heaven in a glass.

Or at least that's how I remember it.

And The Girl gave me a chance to relive. She's good to me that way.

I remember Big Red being a regional delicacy, available only in Southern Indiana and obviously named after our homestate Hoosiers - the Cream and Crimson in all our heart. But it turns out that our regional treasure wasn't our at all, hailing originally from Texas and until the late 70's being available...
exclusively in Central and South Texas and around Louisville, Kentucky...according to Texas Monthly
How weird is that, only in South/Central Texas and Louisville, KY? And what a fortuitous stroke of luck that I was able to grow up in one of the two hotbeds of Big Redness.

So - sadly without the vanilla ice cream of my youth - I checked out the new design of the can - the first such container I'd seen in probably a decade and the first time I'd ever sampled Big Red from anything but a glass or a 2L bottle. They'd gone with a spring theme and put tulips around the top edge of the can. Kinda cute, really.

And then I snapped open the pop top and took a deep draught of just the smell of the nectar.

Oh, sweet gooey sweetness. Swwet saccharine sweetness of a hundred bubble gum suckers. Pink sweetness and cotton candy sweetness.

A quality nose is always appreciated on any fine vintage.

And then the first sip.

Too sweet...



bubble gum?

seriously? It tastes like bubble gum?

I thought this was supposed to be cream soda? Vanilla, yes...gum, no.

What the hell did I ever see in this thing?

It's like licking a million bubble gum suckers all at once.

Oh, god...

Anybody who wants to share in the joys of this unique treat - sans ice cream, which might actually be tolerable, I dunno - stop by my classroom anytime tomorrow as I'll have five cans that are fair game to any and/or all.

And if anybody has a tongue scraper, I'd be much appreciative.

And yet, after that experience, I'm still tempted to try their Big Peach and the Big Red Vanilla Float.

April 23, 2008

Trying something else

Seeqpod certainly has its value - letting me hunt down a rare song or one that I, at least, don't have. And I can make my playlists as long as I want to make them.

Today, however, I'm trying Muxtape which allows you to upload up to twelve songs from your computer (mp3 only, no larger than 10MB per song).

Different sites for different uses.

Enjoy my favorite Richard Thompson songs today...

April 21, 2008

A softer alternative

AshleyAnn (first time commentor, long time lurker - cause of a Seeqpod a while back) suggested - in yesterday's comments - that A Softer World might be a better option than Tiny Ghosts.

I dunno...the tone's a fair bit darker, and the language a bit more . Doesn't mean it's worse, but I'm only a third of the way through the archives, so I haven't made up my mind.

Vote in the poll after checking out a few examples from A Softer World.

We're not talking about Band of Horses here

This post over at Transbuddha probably should've gone into the weekend link dump, but it's too good for that by far.

So I wanted to point out the newest in absolutely awesome webcomic out there: Tiny Ghosts.

It's a two-panel strip with photos and overlaid captions - nothing terribly fancy.

But it's done with note perfect execution. Sometimes they go for the funny, sometimes for the sad, sometimes just for the straight up weird. Check the following examples and sign up for their RSS.

April 20, 2008

Ads among the tourney

The campaign of Coke Zero suing Coke hasn't gotten old to me yet at all...

The first Bravia ad was perfect...this one's the first since then that I've enjoyed...

So simple...there are no cinderellas...

Another fine Nike ad - "my better"...

A bit of Schweppervescence..."burst"...

The clown makes it funny...

Sadly not playing in the US...

I've seen it a hundred times thanks to the NCAA tourney

These haven't gotten old to me at all

I'm pretty sure he's channeling Dave Chapelle - especially as the shooter

April 19, 2008

If you hadn't noticed...

In perusing the vast reaches of the information superhighway, I stumbled upon a number of items that you might find interesting. Perhaps you might take a moment and consider a few of them:
  • I am amazingly glad that my life isn't nearly as surreal as those of these poker buddies. Heck, I haven't had an Orange Julius is years.
  • Johnny Wright's iPod has finally let slip this mortal coil. You can read its obituary online, which seems amazingly appropriate.
  • I'm always impressed with close-up shots of toys posed in various ways. Very cool stormtrooper ones here.
  • #10 on this list reveals that Zach Snyder is releasing a Watchmen featurette each month on the 6th. Check the first one via the link.
  • There are outstanding new products out there, and the Beamz Music System doesn't appear to be one of them. But it is funny.
  • I didn't know the origin of the infamous running man steps, but now I am aware. It's a surprising story.
  • The best part of this Anthony Michael Hall tribute video is about twenty seconds in when he pops his collar that isn't there.
  • I've pretty much given up on Guitar Hero, but this short regarding its performance outside the televised milieu isn't unhumorous.
  • Here you can find one man's collection of the best fight scenes on YouTube as well as my comments regarding his list. No direct link to the post, however, as he doesn't have that set up, the schmuck.
  • Yes, this video from Kobe does seem pretty irresponsible. Be prepared to see a rash of broken ankles, THorton.
  • If "Banana Man" doesn't get stuck in your head and stay there for days and days, you just don't understand what catchy is. Plus it's got a midget, so not only is it an absolute earworm, it's funny.
  • The absolute genius of The Super Mario theme played on bottles by an RC car has my jaw absolutely agape. Oh, wow. Seriously, oh, wow.
  • Twenty artists who peaked with their first album - I don't know a lot of the list, but #9 & 8 are both great albums.
  • These PSAs from Canadia are so much more awesome than anything we have south of the border.
  • Transbuddha's link dump has one outstanding thing - Fleep. It's a must read, and it's quick. And kind of terrifying.
  • Shut up! Superman does not suck. Nu-uh.

I'm not telling you the theme today

Before you click on the link in the title, see if you can figure out the theme of today's seeqpod playlist...if you get stumped, feel free to click on the title and go that way...

SeeqPod - Playable Search

Or a direct link to the playlist...

April 18, 2008

Three things - not even remotely related

This graph is gorgeous. It presents huge amounts of data - GDP per capita by country, survey results within each country, and average satisfaction on a 10-pt scale by country - but it presents the data in an amazingly clear fashion, allowing anyone to quickly see that there is a clear pattern in the satisfaction vs income data of nations as we shift the average GDP per capita of those nations.

The original article containing the graph can be found here, and it's a moderately interesting article. The graph, however, is way better than the article.

I have now, officially had the best brownies in the world. The recipe from king Arthur Flour is surprisingly simple, and it makes a brilliantly fudgy brownie with a nice, slightly-crunchy top. Outstanding stuff, though I do warn you that I had the variety without nuts, 'cause that's how I likes my brownies. I cannot vouch for the nutty version.
Chocolate chips will provide tiny molten pockets of chocolate within the greater brownie landscape. Add them if your desire for fudginess knows no bounds.
And they are correct...yum...

Apparently we got a trembler here in the Midwest this morning.

I was up and checking the interwebs at 5:30 but sadly didn't feel a thing.

You can check out the major media's craptacular reporting of the event or some significantly better reporting of the same. Your call.

I won't judge you either way.

It did remind me, however, that there is a heck of a fault line running through the heart of our country, something that Iven Browning did, at least, teach me.

April 17, 2008

It came from Channel 41

I apologize in advance, but this one popped into the brain a couple of nights ago, and I just have to purge it...


If you haven't seen Gymkata, then you just haven't lived. It's something that I was lucky enough to catch once on WDRB - Channel 41 in Louisville when I was a kid. It was one of the myriad movies that they ran to fill time on Saturday afternoons, and this may well have been the absolute worst of them all.

It's a movie that is notorious for being horrible and a movie that clearly deserves that notoriety, because Gymkata really is a horrible film.

It's pure horrificness, however, isn't the reason for this post. Instead, the reason is for the one scene that has stuck with me for twenty years.

It's the most famous of the scenes in all of Gymkata: the village of the Crazies.

The Village - seriously, the movie actually calls the place The Village of the Crazies is where this rinky-dink, Eastern European nation throws all their crazy, dangerous people and gives them pitchforks and hatchets - apparently hoping to thin the herd a bit.

It is into that Village that Kurt Thomas - yes, Olympian Kurt Thomas - finds himselfs trying to run through. He stumbles into a narrow alleyway - straight out the forest - and sees the big, iron gate lower shut behind him. From there, all modest amounts of hell break loose.

Crazy people start doing crazy things left and right - man in monkish outfit turns out to not have any back to his outfit, guy has a mask on the back of his head, loony chops off his own hand while the hand stays holding on to a rope - crazy people, I tell you.

And then the crazies come after our noble American with the hatchets and pitchforks, herding him into the tiny town square where there happens to be some sort of stone pommel horse - practically tailor made for our intrepid, gymnastic hero. From the horse, Kurt commences to run flairs back and forth, kicking - with gigantic *snap* sound effects - each Villager in the face, one at a time, until he can escape.

It's a horrible scene - poorly coreographed, poorly dubbed, poorly acted, poorly stunted, not dramatic or effective in the least.

And two nights ago, in a dream, I found myself attempting to explain the scene to someone.

I have no clue to whom I was trying to explain the scene or why.

But here it is in all its glory.

We simply are not worthy.

And if you want more, there's a much more thorough breakdown of the film - with animated gifs for your enjoyment - over at i-mockery. The Village scene shows up on the third page of the review.

Thankfully, Gymkata is available on DVD.

If you're still looking for that elusive gift for my upcoming birthday. Please, do not consider this DVD.

April 16, 2008

This happened to be funny

I've got a friend who send me every possible joke, funny picture, or juvenile video that happens into his email inbox. You know the type - we all have those friends somewhere along the line. He clearly needs a blog to clear the bilges.

A couple of friends of this ilk have gotten themselves permanently blocked from my work inbox - thank you Outlook rules wizard - but this friend's emails happen to be funny once every blue moon, just often enough for me to not entirely clock him.

The latest email to merit a chuckle had nothing more than these motivational posters - as well as one that nudged toward inappropriate for posting.

That is, unless you're nine popped collars cool.

They're not hilarious, but they're certainly chucklesome.

April 15, 2008

And in the food news...

The Waffle House online menu may not reflect it just yet, but Casa de Barquillo has added biscuits and gravy, and apparently they're selling the dickens out of them. The Girl and I took a Sunday breakfast, and I tried the new menu item with a little trepidation, afterall, The Girl makes some dang tasty B's & G's (more on that in a few lines).

The biscuits weren't exactly homemade. Nor were they the highly butter versions that you get at some placed and that leave you craving a spoonful of jam. These were a decent, frozen, premade biscuit that was split and lightly toasted. They then spooned a couple of labels across the two biscuits and handed it right across.

I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the gravy. They'd said that it was made from a mix with milk and freshly cooked sausage, and I wasn't expecting too much. Instead, I got what I would consider a good, nice gravy. It was nicely rich and creamy and had a little bite to it. It wasn't what I would call bold, but it wasn't too bad. I don't know that it'll be replacing the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich that's my usual, but it'll make its way into the rotation.

The Girl's recipe for sausage gravy, by the way...a roll of Jimmy Dean bold sausage, fried up to a nicely dark color and then drained...back into the pan with flour for a few seconds to let everything coat well...and skim milk...let it simmer...

Amazingly simple, but it's awesome. Packs a really nice kick - she used to add a dozen different spices to get things to a nice level, but the bold sausage takes care of that for her. The biscuits are usually a simple Bisquick biscuit - mix plus water.

Makes for a really simple, very much enjoyed breakfast from time to time.

Do yourself a favor and go out and try a Havana Cola. They were being sampled at Taste of the World this past November, and The Girl and I have had a few six packs in the fridge since then.

It's not the cheapest cola around, but the coolness of a sugar cane cola - there really is a vast difference - is really nice. It's got an entirely different taste from the corn syrup colas that most of us are used to anymore.

Good stuff

In searching for a link to the Garden Fresh Gourmet Artichoke & Garlic Salsa (known simply as The Good Salsa around Casa de ChemGuy), I stumbled upon The Salsa Review, and I'm thinking I should try a few of the salsa's out and compare to the reviews found there before trusting her reviews blankly.

And she clearly needs a way to search for salsa's by spiceness index. I wanna find the 10's even if I don't want to eat them.

April 14, 2008

Run through the media

With the campaign wound down (a full update on that in a couple of weeks, no worries), I've been able to take in some media of late. Thought I'd give you folks the quick versions...

Borrowed a couple of Wii titles to give 'em a try. Rayman Raving Rabbids looks amazingly dumb. Dumb, however, turned out to be surprisingly fun.

Your character - the duckish Rayman, apparently some sort of franchise character himself - is kidnapped along with his good friend Globox by the rabbids. Taken far underground, Rayman has to make his way through a series of mini-games in order to free himself and his friend. You play five mini games a "day" and work your way to freedom, changing the enmity of the rabbids game by game into eventual near-worship.

To complete the game and win your freedom, you have to make it successfully through about eleven days of mini games in ten or so different styles. Many of the styles - the dance game, shoot-'em-up, warthog racing - appear numerous times, and some of the others make a second appearance here and there. The recurring games come back with enough variety and changes, however, that they seem more familiar and challenging than they do repetitive.

Throughout the mini games, Rayman interacts with the rabbids through the use of the Wii in fairly innovative ways: finding and smacking a rabbid singing out of key in the choir, closing the door to the rabbids in beach outhouses, milking the rabbids' cow, timing a jump rope chain while jumping with the nunchuck, shaking in rhythm to the beat of a discoed-up "La Bamba". Both The Girl and I had our favorite games (mine was the shooting - only shooting plungers as it's very much a kid-friendly game - and the warthog racing, hers were the dancing stages), and there was certainly enough variety that we could each enjoy different parts of the game while being challenged throughout.

There are both story - day by day, working through each of the game - and party modes. We went through the day-by-day, eventually freeing ourselves after an obsessive bit of gameplay. From there, the game simply ends with a lengthy credit sequence that turned out to be much more of a disappointment that we had hoped for. In the story mode, all games are single-player. In the party mode, however, the game takes a much different tone, allowing you to play any game in any order and with up to four players. Some of the four-players versions worked much better than others - the warthog racing was particularly fun as a pair - and the game feels like it could really shine in a party setting.

For simple, one-person gameplay, the game can be a bit straight forward and closed-ended. As a group activity - the exact thing that Wii seems made for - this could be great fun. Certainly worth a check out - as is the game website which has clips of the rabbids and their hilarious antics.

Other reviews can be found over at metacritic. And clips of the between game entertainment can be found at YouTube.

The other game that we borrowed was Zack & Wiki, an adventure/puzzle game in which you hunt through fifteen or twenty different stages, each time trying to get to a treasure chest with another piece of the treasure. Each stage opens with an overview of the whole stage map, hinting at what puzzles you will have to overcome. From there, you use the Wii remote to hunt through the stage and click on different aspects on screen. The secret to getting to the treasure chest is to go to the right places and click on the right things - picking up and using various objects - in just the correct order. Hints and replays are available - for an escalating in-game cost.

The Girl loves the game, taking lots of time to work through some of the puzzles and running through the early, easier ones with fair quickness. She enjoys the mystery and challenge of finding why each item exists in the stage and how each item has to be used in the course of the stage clearing.

I couldn't stand the game. The initial stages were very straight forward and easy to solve, and the later stages quickly passed my frustration level and sent me directly to one of the many full walkthroughs available online.

The animation style is very cartoony and the voice work is straight out of Japaname with most characters sounding like Pokemon and uttering sounds rather than words. Within and between the stages players are treated to click-through animations that move the story along but just seemed to be time-consuming to me.

The best part of the game is the innovative use of the Wii remote to accomplish various tasks as part of the games - pointing and turning as a key, holding up to open an umbrella, pulling back as a lever, and many more.

The game is very well-crafted, beginning easily and using simple instructions and increasing difficulty levels to ready players for the later levels.

I couldn't stand it - but I have a very, very low frustration level for games (or even stages) that provide no instructions and require you to just click around and try things until they work.

The Girl loves the game because she enjoys that very type of game.

You know yourself.

You more like me or The Girl?

Three discs have hit the player of late - none of which merit much more than a whole-hearted meh:

The album Punch from The Punch Brothers...the fiddler from Nickel Creek has headed out on his own and put together a band. Oddly enough, their first disc is heavy on fiddle - who woulda guessed that the drummer's new band would feature drum solos?

It's okay, but it's drifts a bit much for my tastes and has been rightfully described as bluegrass emo. A hearty meh...

Then there's the second newest release from The Mountain Goats Get Lonely. There isn't a single song of the dozen or so that grabbed me on the first listen through...or the second or third...

Mostly, I didn't get any connection with the disc. I don't know that I looked into the lyrics as much as most of the reviewers I found, did, but I tend to lean more toward a sound of the song first before hearing the words themselves.

And I won't be hearing this disc again anytime soon. I second that e-meh-tion.

And then there's the sound track to Roll Bounce, something I picked up because of the nice 70's groove of the flick. Sadly, the groove didn't keep through the soundtrack for me. Instead, I got 70's classics re-recorded with a combination of new and old artists - Jamiriquoi with Earth, Wind, & Fire...Michelle Williams covering Al Green..."Boogie Oogie Oogie" redone by Brooke Valentine with a hip hop crew worth of guests.

This one didn't even merit a meh.

I give it a single m and move on...

Only two comics of late, and one was a repeat read.

Fantastic Four: The End stunk.

Alan Davis's art has driven me nuts for years - since he worked on the Outsiders. I really can't stand his artwork, and this six=part miniseries's attempts to include pretty much every Marvel superhero (and half the Fantastic Four villians - all of whom happened to have chosen this very moment in future time to hatch their final, deadly, earth-controlling plot) all of whom appear to have not aged more than a couple of years in the hundreds of years since (ahem, Deus Ex Machina alert) the Methuselah Treatment has magically allowed all of them - and pretty much all of humanity - to live like forever without aging I guess.

It's dumb.

Don't read it.

Instead, read Hulk: House of M. It's an enjoyable read that doesn't take itself too heavily. As an imaginary storyline, but it's kinda fun. There are a few jokes here and there, and it's a good, quick read.

April 13, 2008

More Sammy...

...Sammy admits to using some harder stuff...

...speaking about James Dean...

..."The Candy Man"...

...not embeddable - One Cool Cat...

...channeling Michael jackson...

...tap dancing at a very young age...I especially am impressed by the Tip, Tap, & Toe clip of a different dancer...

...singing Shell...

...doing impressions on Frank's show...

...pushing for the Great American Smoke Out...

...with Ella Fitzgerald...

...some background on the man...

...appearing briefly in Gotham City...

...covering "Henry the VIIIth I Am"...

...in Cannonball Run (skip to 55 seconds in)...

...and finally, "E-O-Eleven"...

Anybody up for really going to a show?

I've mentioned the Avett Brothers before (and have even provided a Seeqpod playlist), and I thought I'd give an early heads up to any fans in the Cinciucky area. They're going to be hanging at the Southgate House on May 1616 - a Friday, even. Tickets are $17 in advance, $20 day of the show, 18 and over admitted.

So, who wants to go?

I'm in - hopefully with The Girl, though she could take some convincing, because when I mentioned the band, she asked if they were that twangy band I'd been playing into the ground.

April 12, 2008

Enjoy 'em, Chuckles

'cause these didn't come from me...

A couple that even Calen might not know

Today's seeqpod playlist is U2 rarities - some of which just sample U2, but most of which are full out U2 live or in the studio...but that didn't see a lot of light of day...

SeeqPod - Playable Search

do enjoy...I've had the U2 vs Lyrics Born track on near-constant play for the past couple of weeks, since I found it in putting this playlist together.

April 11, 2008

One's a request

'Cause it's my blog...my fantasy baseball team this year...

A little background: The league has undergone some contraction this year - down to eight teams (instead of last year's twelve) but still draws from the same full-MLB pool of players. We play a head-to-head, ten-category scoring league.

I've made one pick-up (Soria) since the season started and dropped one player (Jeremy Bonderman), as well, and this is how I've gotten my team to here:

C - Brian McCann (ATL)
1B - Travis Hafner (CLE)
2B - Richie Weeks (MIL)
3B - David Wright (NYM)
SS - Rafael Furcal (LAD)
OF - Chone Figgins (LAA)
OF - Alex Rios (TOR)
OF - Grady Sizemore (CLE)
UTL - Vernon Wells (TOR)
BN - Brad Hawpe (COL)
BN - Hunter Pence (COL)

P - Francisco Cordero (CIN)
P - Jokiam Soria (KC)
P - James Shields (TB)
P - Brad Lidge (PHI)
P - Jake Peavy (SD)
P - Jered Weaver (LAA)
BN - Cole Hamels (PHI)
BN - John Maine (NYM)

First week, I went 6-2; second week I'm currently down to Calen 4-5 but with a weekend to come. Don't know that I have much to say about the team yet other than it's a tiny league so the free agent pool is amazingly deep. It's kind of weird having so many choices to play with in swapping guys into and out of the lineup.

And because Joey asked, a quick run-through of some of my iTunes playlists, a glimpse into my madness...
  • 80's Music - this is mostly my eighteen cd's of the greatest 80's hits, broken up into cd's by genre (Big Hair, Brit Pop, Bubblegum, College Hits (3 of those), Miscellaneous, Movie Hits (2 of those), New Wave, Rock (3 cds of those), Sap, Soul, and Women).
  • All the Wilco - Wilco's obvious here (my favorite band), but we also get Loose Fur (one of Tweedy's side projects), Jeff Tweedy solo, Uncle Tupelo, and Golden Smog (another side project).
  • Children's Music - From a couple of cd's that I made for a former colleague heading out on maternity leave. I hunted down two cds worth of my view of kids songs. Not a whole lot of plain, jane, kiddie lullabyes here. We're talking about Brian Dewan, Bob Dylan, Enya, Jerry Garcia, PPM, Tom Rush, Willie Nelson, Don White, Los Lobos, Linda Rondstat, and - sure - the Muppets and Bobby McFerrin. Plus it throws in my faves from the Spongebob soundtrack.
  • Cold Songs - Pretty straightforward...any song that contains any of these words in its title: ice, cold, freeze, snow, or winter. No real reason for this playlist, just curious.
  • Days of the Week - Same as the last one but with a day of the week in the title.
  • Five Star Song - 397 of those, my most-played of which is Wilco's "Wishful Thinking" and then "Hummingbird".
  • Hot Songs - Fire, hot, or warm in the title.
  • Least Played - If I haven't played it more than 9 times, then it heads here. That way there aren't any sort of favorites played - it's an egalitarian system we're running here. Not in a "Harrison Bergeron" kinda way, either.
  • Rain - Took a second try to get the train songs out of here, but I was surprised to find that I have 34 songs with rain in the title - including two versions of "Rainbow Connection".
  • Ryan Adams - Ryan and the Cardinals, Ryan solo, and Whiskeytown - his first major band. He's a petulant snot, but the music's good.
  • Summer - I'd been working things through for various seasons and was surprised to see that I'd struggle putting a cd of the seasons together - especially with only five summer songs in my library. Maybe someday I'll hit this project again.
  • Cornhole Music - For this year's Cornhole 4A Cause tournament, I worked up about five cds of music. Clean, up-beat, mix of new and old. I like the mix.
  • For Grace - G-Race was looking for some warm-up music for her rec-league basketball team, and I've got 38 songs that qualify as rockin', up-tempo, good for girls to dunk to.
  • For Red - Before I lost track with Krisin the Red, she and I would record tapes for each other, things that we would send back and forth in our snail mail packages. I've got these sixteen songs ready for the next time I get ahold of her. I should do that.
  • From the Heart - I've mentioned my lament of the mixtape untimely demise, and I've had a start of a new tape for The Girl going for years. One song in it so far - "My Best Friend" by Weezer.
  • Instrumental - Seventeen songs without any words. They were bound for a cd theme that I did in class five or so years ago, before iTunes at school.
  • Lost Love Songs - Twenty-five songs all dealing with lost loves, lots of regret here. This'll be another Seeqpod post for another day.
  • Quiet - When I was in Dallas, and I'd headed back early from the conference - skipping the last session on the Friday - I wanted to have some music playing while I took a nap. So I put this playlist together really quickly. I've added things since then, but the idea's stayed the same - quiet, calm music.
  • Sad songs - This one just started a few weeks ago, and it's working up to be songs that are just pathetic. They're not all about sad things, but they give a miserably sad feeling.
  • Steve Duke - When people 'round school need something music-related, they tend to head my way. When Steve-o was looking for a definitive collection of music of the sixites, he came to me, and I put together this 34-song collection. I'm really proud of it as it does a good job covering Philly Soul, protest songs, psychadelia, the death of 50's pop, Motown, and the British Invasion in those 34. One of my better collections.
  • Train Songs - Wait a couple of weeks as this is a Seeqpod that I've got already ready and waiting.
  • Upbeat - Sometimes you just need to party. There's no sequencing here, but all the songs keep the mood up.

April 10, 2008

I think this might work...maybe

Sheriff Jones has done a number of things that seem pretty radical and have gotten him some negative press, but his newest idea looks frighteningly reasonable.

He's aiming to take the county dog warden under his office's purview and institute a number of new programs. The one that caught my eye was this one:
One such program that could start within a month would involve bringing animals into the jail for the inmates to care for, which Jones said is done in other states.

"They groom the dog, they work with the dog and they get the dog used to people," Jones said. "And then the dog goes back to the humane society for adoption."

"It has the potential to be a really good thing," said Dog Warden Julie Holmes
I can see that this could give some great benefit to both the prisoners and the animals. Most animals in the various sheltes I've known certainly could use a little love and companionship, even if that meant a little time behind bars.

April 9, 2008

The drawbacks

I'm a teacher.

Please skip forward to 5:40 in this video and avoid the part before that.

I love my job and very much love where I teach.

That being said, there certainly is a downside to being a teacher.

I can't listen to "Don't Stand So Close to Me" without thinking of the friend of mine - and coworker - who was falsly accused of some inappropriate behavior a few years back as well as the four or five teachers I've known who have ended up married to former students of theirs.

I can't watch The Breakfast Club because I spent my first couple of years at Mt. Healthy watching the Friday afternoon, three-hour detentions. Anymore, I feel every bit as much sympathy for the Principal Richard Vernon as I do for the kids trapped in that library.

I can't watch the movie Teachers - the source of the clip up top - even though a number of the moments throughout ring true - because there are so many scandalized, sensationalized portrayals of my profession that I find myself more bothered than entertained.

I can't watch Dangerous Minds because I don't care to see the story of the school year told in leaps and jumps, fits and starts. I need to know day by day how the nice white lady made the miraculous changes she supposedly made. Don't give me Bob Dylan is like Dylan Thomas, give me daily lesson plans and her adjustments to get the students on her side.

Oh, sure, I get the summers off and free access to the copying machine pretty much anytime I want it, but there will always be the drawbacks...

April 8, 2008

How to cherry-pick lyrics

I tend to check the National Review Online pretty regularly, and I stumbled upon this interesting article titled National Review's Top 50 Conservative Songs.

Okay, that's a lie.

I never "check the NRO" reguarly. Heck, my beliefs lie about 180° from the National Review, but I did stumble upon an article when googling the lyrics "Kyle William they called him...washed away little Kyle's sins" because they were stuck in my brain, and I couldn't remember what song they came from. (Springsteen's "Reason to Believe", thanks for offering, but I already found it.)

From that article, I went to the original article being commented on...

And I absolutely love what the National Review has done. They went searching for the greatest conservative rock songs, and their list reads like an absolute primer on cherry-picking lyrics to fit your needs. Like Ronald Reagan using "Born in the USA" as his theme song, a lot of folks hear a lyric here or there and think that the songwriter must believe with their political view.

Let me say this plainly: lyrics taken out of context can say just about anything.

Sure, "Won't Get Fooled Again" (NRO's #1 conservative song) does express skepticism about leadership change, but that doesn't mean that Pete is going to be lining up to endorse Ron Paul anytime soon.

"The Trees" from Rush - clearly one of Canadia's top seven or eight musical exports (probably right behind Triumph, Ashley MacIsaac, Gordon Lightfoot, Amy Grant, Alannis, Neil Young...but that's another post for another day) - talks about survival of the fittest, sure, and maybe even the tyrany of the majority but to say about it...
Before there was Rush Limbaugh, there was Rush, a Canadian band whose lyrics are often libertarian. What happens in a forest when equal rights become equal outcomes? “The trees are all kept equal / By hatchet, axe, and saw.”
...seems a little nuts.

"My City Was Gone" from the Pretenders always seemed like a song talking about a woman's repugnance at the change that had overtaken her hometown, paving what were once beautiful fields. I never knew it "display[ed] a Jane Jacobs sensibility against central planning".

Neither #31 ("Small Town" by John Mellencamp) or #35 ("Who'll Stop the Rain" by CCR) would ever make their songwriters happy to find themselves on this list. Mellencamp even asked John McCain recently to stop using his songs at the McCain rallies.

They avoid Neil Young (who clearly and openly stumped for Reagen in the 80's) and most of the conservative country market and instead just grab a few lines from a couple score songs. Cherry-pickers...

Oh, and on a totally unrelated note...this trailer has me thoroughly intrigued...

April 7, 2008

How to avoid web traffic

So, let's say that one of your newspaper photogs - probably a freelancer because you're too cheap to send people all over the communities you serve - takes a really cool photo of this weekend's Kite Fest (no, I didn't go - got busy, shut up).

What do you do?

Do you put it up in a slideshow on your website? Sure...

Do you put up an alternate slideshow view but without the ability to let people save the photo? Okay, I can even get down with that.

Do you provide a link so that people can buy a copy of the photo - likely not to pass the cash along to the photographer? Fine, whatever...

But at least provide the option to link directly to that photo of the slideshow so I don't have to tell people that it's slide #6 in the show and ask them to click through five far more pedestrian photos first.

That, my friends, is how to make sure that your website doesn't get any more traffic than the absolute minimum - customer service.

This month's Wired

Skimming through this month's Wired...
  • Humans have been changing the climate for eons. There's reason for hope. - This short article posits that we've been changing climate for a lot longer than just since the Industrial Revolution but rather much, much longer - since the development agriculture which lead to the first part of our recent, sharp increase in CO2 levels and then the development of rice paddy farming which lead to another spike, in methane levels. If it's true, it means we've been terraforming far longer than most of us believe we have been. It also means that we might be more likely to undo what we've done.
  • Futurist Ray Kurzweil Pulls Out All the Stops (and Pills) to Live to Witness the Singularity - This guy's crackers. He's thinking that within his lifetim - and he's doing everything possible to extend that lifetime so he'll be around - computing power will increase enough that he can make himself eternal by dropping his conscious into electronic media. Crackers - and Wired just about says so in the sidebar with the article.
  • Wired's Geekster Handbook, a Field Guide to the Nerd Underground - I certainly recognize a few of these geek types from 'round PHS.
  • Clive Thompson on Why the Next Civil Rights Battle Will Be Over the Mind - An interesting proposal by Thompson pondering whether the growing ease of use of truth-detecting equipment will someday make us consider whether we have freedom to lie, to think dishonest thoughts. Let's hope that we take some precautions before it becomes an issue.
  • Test: 1080p Projectors for Less, Pared-Down Multitools, VHS-to-DVD Converters - The Girl and I have talked about out next TV - and we will need to replace things within the next year (or go for a converter box) - and considered replacing our current one with an LCD projector, so we're going to have to do some research in this area. The biggest initial issue (other than the $$ requeired) is trying to get it to receive the signals as most projector's don't have any sort like that - at least we'll need a second bit of equipment stuck up there to the ceiling. Plus it still looks like it's going to be a pricey investment.
  • Hype Machine: Searching for ZAP's Fleet of No-Show Green Cars - Now there's a charlie foxtrot (look it up, I'm not linking). The electric car has been right around the corner for decades now, and I certainly don't see more of them driving around than I saw when I was young. This company has, however, or at least the couple of folks at the top of the company have made a buttload of money on promising folks electric cars left and right for the past decade. It's a cautionary tale for folks looking to do a little green investing.
I do dig the subscription to Wired as it's the only magazine to which I currently subscribe. It's an interesting read through the world of tech and tech-science each month. Good stuff.

Weirdly, however, Wired.com isn't the magazine. Apparently they're now different business interests, and the magazine is Wired.com/wired. Odd but good to know.ul>

April 6, 2008


...doing impressions while singing...

...late career classic...

...singing every showtune ever...

...reaching for a gun...

...on All in the Family...

...a tap dance challenge...(sound's a little low, though)...

...singing a jingle...

...going a little more serious...

...a funky bit of improv...

...speaking about entertaining in Vietnam...

...weirdly, a gun-spinning performance...

...his final televised performance...