March 31, 2008

Easy, quick, and way cheaper

I'm getting tired of my glasses. They always seem to be smudged or scratched. They fog up every time I open the dishwasher or come in from the cold. They're just annoying.

And I tried contacts for a while but started to get eye infections and don't want to deal with that again.

I'd thought about Lasik but didn't want to pay the thousand dollars that it would cost or risk some quack ruining my sight by lasering my eye just wrong.

So Lasik is out...

...our it was until now. Check out the new Lasik at home website.

I'm buying me one of those today.

March 30, 2008

Bagpipies

My first experience with the bagpipes came because a man about a block away from the house I grew up in played the pipes from time to time on his back porch. We had a clear view from our front porch, straight across the street and to his back porch, so when he would head outside and practice, we could see and hear him clearly. I've loved their sound ever since...

"Amazing Grace"


The Tannahill Weavers


"Mull of Kintyre"


Amateurs followed by pros


A truly unique event in the history of the pipes


Or maybe not quite as unique as I would've hoped


"Scotland the Brave"


"Clumsy Love set"


When cultures meet


The bagpipes' appearance on Friends - with outtakes


That just seems like cheating


A medley from Edinburgh


And the last for today, Rare Air perform on a morning show...

March 28, 2008

A western update

Over on imdb.com, an amateur reviewer wrote this about 3:10 to Yuma:


As most westerns ultimately are, this was a movie about the measure of a man.


What we have here is a classic tale of man against man which turns into a tale of two men against themselves, and the two characters are well-enough written and masterfully acted that the tale rises far above and beyond the Western film cliches that have caused many of the original examples of the genre to age poorly.

This is very clearly a Western of the current age, one in which the characters' motivations are every bit as important to the story as the characters' actions. The dual leads are played by Russell Crowe, in the black hat, and Christian Bale, in the metaphorical white hat but a white hat that has a thick layer of dust on it as his living is eaked out of the drought-ridden dust of his poor ranch homestead where the film opens.


Bale in center with Fonda bringing up the rear


The film sees Bale happening upon our roguish black hatter, Crowe's Ben Wade who is clearly the moving force of the film. Wade sets the film in motion by robbing the local stage in spectacular fashion and lingering behind in town, celebrating with the local - and admittedly quite attractive - barmaid, leading to his eventual capture by the marshall and local railroad toughs. It is in the course of this capture that the plot is truly set into motion as Bale's character lucks into a paying job that just might save the farm if he can escort Wade to the titular 3:10 train bound for Yuma prison.


Wade's second in command - Charlie in the film's penultimate scene.


From there the typical things happen - Wade's gang races to rescue their leader, the rougue reveals himself to be both monster and man, and our hero eventually must stand alone. Typical, however, isn't what this film is. The depth of character of our dual leads as well as the acting - including Peter Fonda in a role that shocked me as I saw him interviewed on the DVD extras - is outstanding enough to carry the film even through its surprising and perhaps a bit unlikely ending.


The roguish Wade - killer and charmer in one package.


The film's reviews have suggested that it might be the best Western since Unforgiven, though that might be damning it with faint praise as the genre isn't exactly in its heyday right now. It is an excellent film that easily improves on - or at least strongly updates - the original film for a turn-of-the-century sensibility, and it's a very enjoyable view.

My favorite Westerns, by the way...just to give you some perspective...



  1. Unforgiven

  2. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly / Fistful of Dollars / For a Few Dollars More (the sum of the trilogy)

  3. Deadwood (series)

  4. Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid

  5. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

  6. The Magnificant Seven

  7. High Plains Drifter

  8. High Noon

  9. The Searchers

March 27, 2008

Alan Moore's opus

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

We need to take a minute to talk about Watchmen...

We're about a year away from the release of the Watchmen film, and I have a feeling that some of you out there aren't down with the story, so I'm here to provide something of a primer.

I'll try to avoid presenting anything in the realm of spoiler, but if I do, know that I have absolutely no inside information regarding the film itself. I've read, coveted, and now owned the collected series on which the film is to be based, and it's on that graphic novel (read: comic book) that I'll be providing commentary - with just a few thoughts on the film at the end of the post.

I've posted regarding my trepedation about the movie adaptation of Watchmen before, and it's my hope that by the end of this post, you understand enough about the original work that you can share in some of my trepedation (and excitement, too, I'll admit it) and you might even have an inkling to head over to la local biblioteca. In both of those endeavours, wish me luck.

First off, Watchmen is an outstanding book.

To call it a comic book or even a graphic novel is to sell it drastically short and to mark it as something that numerous people will dismiss out of hand. Yes, this is a tale of and about people who spend much of the book in various costumes, but it is a tale of people simply trying to make the best out of their dramatically flawed world, one that occupies a mysterious and tenuous position halfway between a Smallville-Metropolis-Gotham world and our very own.

It is a world where the Cold War is still very much in control of international relations, and the United States' position of power is due not to a willingness to outspend out rivals but because one of our scientists had an accident that turned him into the world's first true superhero, Dr. Manhattan, one who could unbuild and rebuild the entire planet with the blink of an eye but who is reluctant to change the path of time as he can see events already taking place in his future.

The world of the Watchmen is one in which the United States left Vietnam a conquering, heroic nation and where Richard Nixon has remained in the White House into the early 1980's by repealing the 22nd ammendment, where the cowboy actor RR mentioned for a possible run at Nixon is Robert Redford, not Ronald Raygun.

Their world first saw "costumed adventurers" appear in the 1940's as non-powered men and women who took up crime fighting nominally because they wanted to make the world a better place - though many of their motives are questioned throughout the course of the tale - as are the motives of the costumes villians that they initially found themselves facing until the heroes were eventually outlawed in 1977.

Theirs is a world on the absolute brink of utter destruction as the Russians have launched a full invasion of Afghanistan, putting the entire world at risk of destruction as Dr. Manhattan, whose position in the United States' strategic defense plan is found suddenly vacant.

It is this world that Moore crafted to allow him to explore such disparate subjects as the motivation of superheroes and villians, the effects of a mututally assured destruction policy to national defense, the reaction of normal people to the sight of masked vigilantes both powered and not in their midsts, the religions built up around a man who can unmake creation with not even the wave of a hand, the value of human life to such a being, the folly of punching out a gangster when the core of society is rotting from the inside, and the actions of a select few who find themselves eventually placed in a position where they must keep quiet in order to maintain the sanctity of peace for the world - as well as the effects of one who chooses truth over peace.

The tale is told in twelve issues, now collected into a single volume. Throughout the issues, Moore and Dave Gibbons - a perfect visual foil to Moore's tale - include numerous pieces that most people wouldn't remotely consider to be comic book in nature: exerpts from the memoirs of one of he retired heroes, business plans for action figures of the masked adventurers, an article abou "The Black Freigher" (a comic within the comic used as a framing device). These pieces round out the world and provide a much richer experience, allowing he characters to speak directly to the readers without breaking he fourth wall.

In addition to the addition of the false documents, Gibbons and Moore tried some pretty radical artistic decisions. In issue five - "Fearful Symmetry", for example, the entire issue focuses on the symmetry between two of the characters and has a recurring motif of symmetric images - skull an crossbones, RR logo, Rorschach images - and is, in fact, an entirely symmetrical issues with the first panel on page one being a mirror image of the last panel on the final page and many of the panels between lining up with each other. It is in visual statements such as this that take Watchmen above and beyond the realm of a novel and make the medium every bit as important as the message. Entire papers could - and have been written on the visual symbolism of Watchmen. This story simply could not be told - and if so, would not be nearly the magnum opus that it is - in any way other than in the comic book format.

And in the end, Watchmen is an exploration of so much more than superheroes. Moore and Gibbons crafted an outstanding exploration of the human condition in all of its subtle nuances, why we choose to step beyond our limitations, what happens when those limitations are brought back upon us, and what possible effect one man - or even a group of men and women - could possibly have on the entire chaotic world.

I have read Watchmen a half dozen times and am constantly amazed at how many nuances, references, and issues I have missed on each of those readings. I will be reading Watchmen dozens of times in the coming years, and I have no doubt that I will find new things on every one of those readings.

This is truly the greatest work of the greatest comic book writer. And even writing that line - with its limitations - sells the work short.

This is a great work.


If you're interested, here are some of the sources that I consulted and recommend for further reading about Watchmen:I close with the freak master himself discussing his greatest work...

March 26, 2008

Top five...back in force...

In honor of yesterday's post...

My favorite films starring - or involving...

...George Clooney...
  1. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  2. Thin Red Line
  3. Three Kings
  4. Michael Clayton
  5. Oceans Eleven
  6. South Park gets nixed because his part is about a minute long...
...Tom Wilkinson...
  1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  2. Batman Begins
  3. Michael Clayton
  4. Full Monty
  5. Shakespeare in Love
...Tilda Swinton...
  1. Orlando
  2. Michael Clayton
  3. Adaptation
  4. Constantine
  5. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - okay, I haven't seen it, but Calen swears that I'd enjoy it in spite of my revulsion to seeing it, and I need a fifth for Swinton
...Sydney Pollack...
  1. The Player (actor)
  2. Michael Clayton (actor, producer)
  3. Sliding Doors (producer)
  4. The Firm (producer, director)
  5. Cold Mountain (producer)
...Tony Gilroy...
  1. The Bourne Ultimatum (writer)
  2. Michael Clayton (writer, director)
  3. The Bourne Supremecy (writer)
  4. The Devil's Advocate (writer) - it's trash, but I enjoy the heck out of it
  5. Tie - The Bourne Identity (writer) - and The Cutting Edge (writer)

March 25, 2008

For just two of you...

Homonym was correct...two words spelled and prounounced the same but with different meanings...

"Melissa" was correct. "Sweet Melissa" was wrong.

Four for five...and three for four...

I've now seen four of the five films nominated for best picture at the 2007 Oscars, and I'm feeling okay about the choice.

Michael Clayton is outstanding, no doubt about it, but I'm going to stick with my choice of No Country for Old Men, though I'd put Clayton as a close second.

Michael Clayton tells - in case you weren't aware by now - the tale of a lawyer at a large law firm, a fixer whose courtroom days are long passed by but whose usefulness to the firm has rarely been higher, particularly when one of the firm's shining stars and senior partners cracks in the midst of a deposition on a half-billion-dollar case. Clayton is dispatched to reign his friend back in and bring him back into the fold, a rather challenging thing to do as Clayton finds that his friend's madness just might be catching and might not be madness at all.

Clayton is an impressive character sketch of a man pulled in a dozen different directions, all of which involve letting one of the others fall by the wayside. He is a divorced father trying to pay attention to a son who grows more and more distant from him by the day, a brother who is trying to help out his kin but finding that increasingly hard to do, a friend who wants to stay true, a cog in a giant money machine needing the machine to keep him on hand while the new owners take over, and a man hoping to make something more permanent of his life than a leased and - at the beginning of the film - destroyed Mercedes.

Focusing almost entirely on Clayton and showing him in utter isolation throughout the film (a wise choice in deleting a scene with a girlfriend - found on the DVD) and never moralizing the choices that he has to make, the filmmakers have crafted an outstanding character sketch and tied Clayton up in so many Gordian knots that his resolution stymied me until it was finally revealed - after a false ending seen when the film comes back to its beginning moments to find Clayton's aforementioned Mercedes in flames. The ending didn't ring false but yet left me with my mouth agape and even more impressed with the film.

Clooney (Oscar nominated), Swinton (Oscar winner), Wilkinson (Oscar nominated), Pollack, and the entire cast, honestly, give a masters class in acting in small ways, allowing their characters' emotions to dribble out in the smallest motions and briefest appearances.

This one should age quite well and certainly deserved its best picture nomination.
And now I'm left with just Atonement, which just holds no interest at all for me. I can't possibly imagine the pain of sitting through what looks like an English Patient-rehash with Kiera Knightly in another of her costume pieces.

Good god...

The only years for which I've now seen every nominated film are 2005 (Crash - horrible choice by the Academy) and 1994 (Forest Gump - defensible, but I'd put three of the films above it). Four out of five puts this year up with 2001 (A Beautiful Mind - not my first choice but not a travesty), 2000 (Gladiator - I'd take Traffic or Crouching Tiger easily), 1997 (weak year - haven't seen Titanic), and 1991 (Silence of the Lambs - good choice).

I'm a little disappointed in myself at that smallist list...

March 24, 2008

So, about this blog thing

Check out what the checker-outers are already checking out...

At long last...

I've been searching for this one for years as I've seen Thompson perform it a few times in person, but he's never released it on an official album...anybody know how to record the audio from YouTube?

March 23, 2008

Coast to coast fun

Space Ghost follows an ant (it's long, but the ending is perfect)


Space Ghost interviews Johnny Quest


Space Ghost with the Ramones


Space Ghost and Science Guy


Space Ghost with Weird Al


Space Ghost and George Clinton


Space Ghost enjoys his dainty cakes


The Best of Space Ghost - Part 1


Space Ghost with Hanson


And from the original Space Ghost...

March 22, 2008

More for your listening pleasures

And a wee bit of Celtic - a week late, sadly...


SeeqPod - Playable Search

March 21, 2008

Stalkers...for hire

There are times - not a lot of them but certainly a few here and there - when I wish I were living in a bigger city not out here in the 'burbs of lovely West Chester, and the services of Methodizaz put me in that kind of mood.

See, there is a sever paucity of photos of me as an adult on the walls as Casa del ChemGuy, and Methodizaz (the name befuddles me, too, I don't understand it in the least) claims that they could cure that kind of a thing. They work by getting your private-type information (from you, of course) and find out where you're going to be during your regular days. And then they stalk you. They take professional-type photographs of you in the casualness of your life - trying to show whatever emotion you want them to capture.

For a small fee - specific fee not mentioned on the website - you can act like you've got your own paparazzi.

Mental breakdown and controlled substance abuse not included.

March 20, 2008

Looking at lists

Because Entertainment Weekly is really just a bunch of fluff...

Their list of their favorite immortals with comments:
  • Connor MacLeod of Highlander - one of my favorite films...love it...the Sonnery Spanish/Scottish accent...the weirdo/artsy fades...the great Queen score...how do I not own this?
  • Angel & Spike of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" - the strange love between Spike & Buffy left me cold, but the Spike character was at least interesting
  • Legolas from those Rings things - in seeing the movies, I never thought of him as immortal...seemed like there was some chance he'd die in the fight scenes, hence wasn't immortal
  • Thomas/Tommy/Com Creo of The Fountain - the image that they have on the list makes the makup look horrible, but I enjoyed the film (as my review said)...I don't know that I'd say the guy was immortal, but I can't say difinitively that I thought he wasn't either...there are still a number of things I didn't get about the film
  • Orlando of Orlando - I've been obsessing about this film of late as I have the soundtrack and have been listening to it a lot lately...can't find it anywhere unless I break down and buy it...it's one I've seen a couple of times and have very fond memories of - though that's been a while
  • Zeus of Clash of the Titans - what an awful movie, one I couldn't tear my eyes from whenever it was on TBS as I grew up...horrible, entrancing film
  • Nick Night of Forever Knight - never seen it
  • Q of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" - I've only seen a couple of his episodes, but he was an enjoyable if a bit foppish character...truly a throwback to the old-school "Star Trek" episodes when they'd suddenly find themselves on a planet that was stuck in the 1940s or in Anceint Greece...always a bonus
  • The Oracle of The Matrix - first movie good, other films crap...she was a near character, but she certainly doesn't make this list for me
  • Peter Pan - again, meh
  • Grim Reaper of Bill & Ted's various - hilarious semi-foil to the boys...good times in both the flicks...sadly they've fallen out of the rotation
  • Pinhead of Hellraiser - never seen it
  • Dream of The Sandman - I just finished up reading the second Absolute Sandman volume, and I'd forgotten just how amazing is the run of stories that Gaiman put together...I look forward to getting the next two volumes as they drip out over the next year or so...an amazing tale from start to finish
  • God of Dogma - she's just so cute and bubbly...how could ya do anything but love her in this role...
  • Satan of South Park - he's certainly got his kinks and weirdities but he can still be pretty fearsome when it's his time to be so
  • Adam Monroe of "Heroes" - again, never seen it

  • I'd take Death over Dream from The Sandman, but it's not a bad list...
Their list of their favorite fairy tale flicks...
  • Enchanted - never seen it
  • "Snow White: a tale of terror" - never seen it
  • Cinderella - ya can't go without a Disney flick on a list like this, huh...I don't know that I've seen this one all the way through in one sitting, though I do remember having a series of Disney treasurey books with stills from this and lots of the other classic Disney films in it...loved the books
  • Sleeping Beauty - 'bout the same as Cinderella...
  • Legend - now we're talkin'...this is another one from my childhood that I couldn't ever turn the channel from...loved it to death and might be my favorite Tom Cruise film...love Tim Curry's part, love Mia Sara, love the sprites and the brownies...good times
  • Aladdin - this one I saw in teh theater, I remember that...entertaining the first time through, though I think the schtick of Robin Williams will make for a quicker age for this than for most of the Disney films of its ilk
  • Ella Enchanted - haven't seen it, though it kind of looked entertaining
  • Pan's Labyrinth - not a fairy tale, not a fairy tale at all...amazing film, marvelously well done but certainly not a fairy tale in the least...no happiness here
  • Stardust - haven't seen it, though the combo of Danes and Gaiman means I probably should
  • La Belle et La Bete - that's ferign ur somethin, right?
  • Shrek - I enjoyed it, but things got weaker after the first one...and I've seen it too many times to enjoy it anymore
  • The Princess Bride - wonderful...a classic of childhood for me...marvelous, note-perfect throughout
  • The Wizard of Oz - surprisingly, I still enjoy the heck out of this one...and "Wicked" helped me to enjoy it even more
  • The Neverending Story - way too sappy and sacharine to be enjoyable, and it's one of my favorite movies from childhood...don't think I've seen it in a dozen years, and it's probably best that it stay that way...I'm guessing I wouldn't enjoy it all that much now, even though it is basically a puppet show
Let's try basketball movies...
  • Semi-Pro - I'm guessing it's horrible, but it may age well...haven't seen it
  • Love & Basketball - not a good start for me, haven't seen this either
  • Glory Road - 0-3 so far
  • Hoop Dreams - I had a tape of this one a while back from when it was shown on its 10th anniversery on PBS with an update of both focuses of the documentary...it's absolutely heart-breaking and one of the best sports documentaries ever...hands down, ever
  • Hoosiers - my favorite film of all time...I cry every time I see it...the original (without the cuts that you can see on the newest DVD version) would've been even better if it existed
  • The Heart of the Game - haven't seen it
  • He Got Game - with my new-found respect for Spike, I should see this one sometime soon
  • Hardwood - never even heard of it
  • Coach Carter - never seen it
  • White Men Can't Jump - entertaining stuff, not a spectacular film, but certainly a fun way to kill an afternoon
  • Above the Rim - never seen it, though the little blurb makes me really curious
  • Pistol: birth of a legend - I saw this once on a Saturday afternoon, and it was so sappy but so fun...I'd kind of like to see it again
  • Rebound: the legend of Earl 'the goat' Manigault - again, never heard of it
  • The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh - I'm embarrased to say that I've never seen this one, either

  • How have I not seen nine of their 14 favorite basketball films?
Favorite movie musicals...
  1. The Wizard of Oz - It is a classic, and I enjoy it. I don't know that it's the greatest ever, but it's top five. At least they ordered things so it's not just "a list of favorites" in no particular order.
  2. West Side Story - never seen it
  3. Singin' in the Rain - I'd take this over Wizard, not as my favorite, necessarily, but Wizard feels more magical than musical to me
  4. Cabaret - never seen it
  5. Mary Poppins - too sappy by half to be enjoyable, though the bit about the penny-pinching banker is entertaining...Dick Van Dyke's accent is horrific
  6. The Band Wagon - never heard of it
  7. A Hard Day's Night - a musical?...I guess it is...it's a lot of fun with the whole plot of the sect trying to steal Ringo's ring...hilarious and fun from the four MopTops
  8. South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut - probably the only one of the list that I own and love more than any of the others
  9. Meet Me in St. Louis - I have to admit that I had a bit of a crush on Judy Garland in this movie - the fake red hair kinda did it for me...fun songs
  10. Love Me Tonight - huh?
  11. An American in Paris - meh, never seen or been interested in seeing it
  12. Swing Time - I've seen photos of it
  13. On the Town - perhaps this list was a mistake for me to run through
  14. Grease - ah, back into my wheelhouse...this is a fun bit of kitzsch and throwback to a time that may or may not have ever existed...and it's surprisingly dirty...listen to the words of "Greased Lightnin'" if you don't know what I'm talking about
  15. Hairspray - Amellia? any help?
  16. A Star is Born - nope, not this either
  17. Chicago - robbed, I'd put it at least five spots higher...much better than those other movies I haven't seen
  18. The Busby Berkeley Disc - wait, that's not even a movie
  19. The Sound of Music - I've been in a production of it, but I've never seen the movie
  20. Funny Girl - funny lookin'
  21. Beauty and the Beast - interesting, an animated musical...I guess South Park made it...good stuff...saw this in the theater and surprisingly enjoyed it
  22. Gigi - nope, not this either
  23. The Music Man - never seen it
  24. Seven Brides for SEven Brothers - I've seen one of the dance numbers, probably the big one...does that count?
  25. Once - G, I promise to see this soon

  26. Where's Guys & Dolls?
We're too long already, so I'll save the 80's teen sex comidies and sinister Satans for another day...'til tomorrow, folks...

March 19, 2008

Sad songs say so much

As always, I don't know why these are on the brain, but I offer you songs of lost love...stay strong, folks, 'cause we'll all get over it...


SeeqPod - Playable Search

March 18, 2008

Lessons learned about openness

It seems such a simple concept: tell the people more than you think they need or want to know.

Don't keep secrets.

If you do, you will just create more and more rumors about what you did behind those closed doors...whether you did anything sinister or not.

It doesn't matter, because once you close the doors, the same people who paid no attention to you before will just want to bang the door down.

Morons.

March 17, 2008

Moments of bliss

I'm a procrastanator and a perfectionist - two traits which don't go together all that well. What it means is that I spend a lot of my free time thinking about what I should be doing instead of just letting go and enjoying whatever it is that I'm doing. For example, as I type this entry, I'm thinking about this afternoon's bake sale and the notebook sitting next to me at the table - the ones I should be grading and will be in a few minutes.

Every now and then, however, there have been and continue to be moments in my life when the brain lets go and just revels in the moment, when the bliss takes over and all is well with the world.

Today I present you with descriptions of a few of those moments...and I ask you to share one of your own, a moment when everything, every thought, every bit of the rest of the world went away from you, a time when you lived purely and totally in the moment...
  • Each time I look up at the sky and see Orion - ideally in early morning hours of a winter day. - I've lost touch with a friend (entirely my fault here) out in the City of Angels who loved looking up at Orion herself. And every time I see the belt and the sword, I think of her. It's a shame that I haven't been more regular in my contact with her.
  • Senior awards chapel at Wabash when I won the chemistry leadership award. - There was an award for the outstanding student teacher. I expected to win that one - there were only about a half dozen of us student teaching that semester, and I thought I was hot stuff. But when Dr Dallinger began the announcement for one of the chemistry awards by saying (I'm paraphrasing here) "We have an outstanding chemistry class this year with a dozen chemistry majors. Six are headed to chemistry graduate school, two to law school, two to med school, one to English grad school, and one to high school. It is to this last that we present this award." And I went away. I couldn't catch my breath, couldn't hear another thing he said. I received the award in front of the entirety of the senior class and assembled parents - including mine. I've won a few academic-type awards in my time, but this one shocked and honored me as much as any that I've ever gotten.
  • After the first few runners come across the finish line at our 5K...in the middle of the second set of Rock 4A Cause. - Our students (especially those of you who make up a fair portion of this blog's readership) do amazing, phenomenal things to raise around $40,000 every year for the LLS (our total this year will be announced in the first week of April). Calen and I do a lot of work behind the scenes and in other ways, and we both tend to be about as tense as possible as our two largest events head toward their dates. But once things are underway and working, you'll typically find me in the lobby of the concert or at the finish line of the 5K with the biggest grin on my face. Everybody is enjoying themselves, and it's because of something that I've helped birth, and they're all having a great time 4A Cause. It's an amazing feeling.
  • As I stood there taking my vows at my wedding. - We had an outdoor wedding at Locust Grove on Easter Saturday and had absolutely no decent backup plans at all. If it had rained on us, we'd've been crammed into their reception hall with a very uncomfortable ceremony. It poured on Thursday all day long - until our rehearsal. Friday it was crystal clear, and they mowed the grass. Saturday was gorgeous - 75 degrees with crystal blue skies. On Easter Sunday they had ten inches of rain and horrific flood warnings.

    But for us, it was perfect. I was surrounded by the people who meant the most to me in the world, and I was marrying a beautiful woman. It was one of the best parties I've ever been to, and easily the best one that I've ever thrown. It was so beautiful, in fact, that the photographers kept the album as an advertisement for the next year...and that certainly wasn't because The Girl and I are that gorgeous as far as people go.
  • Sitting on the beach at 4am on my last day in Aberdeen, Scotland. - I'd spent nine months in Aberdeen - eight, really, with the rest around Scotland, England, and the continent. And I'd never seen the sun rise over the North Sea. I got up at 3:30, knocked on Luke's window but let him sleep as he was enjoying the company of a lass who he'd finally worked up the courage to chat up the night before, so I headed down to the North Sea alone - a fifteen minute walk in the darkness. And I waited for the fun to rise on my last day in Aberdeen. I have a gorgeous panoramic of the sunrise to keep the memories fresh, and my parents had it mounted for my Christmas present that year.
  • This weekend during warmups for New Albany's game against Brownsburg. - I've left the nest and headed two hours upriver from The Family Manse. I love where I live now and wouldn't trade my life for anything. But there is something so familiar and wonderful about going home from time to time, and this weekend screamed that at me as I stood up and cheered for the home team, surrounded by 7000+ Hoosiers in a high school gymnasium. The blind fervor, the excitement, the feeling of being part of a seventy-year-old tradition. It was amazing and so comforting, and I felt at home, something that I rarely connect with. I'm the one who left, and there aren't a lot of times when I miss home, but I missed it palpably this weekend.
And when have you been in bliss?

March 16, 2008

In honor of GG



We have a passage to note, folks - something that TL has already done for us but that I'll be doing in my own little way.

"d20 Love"


an old-school D&D commercial


Dungeons & Dragons: Satan's Game


What do you do with a level-2 ogre?


A documentary about two gamers


Breaking down stereotypes left and right


From the classic cartoon


Celebrity D&D (part 2's here)


The trailer


Again with the stereotypes

March 15, 2008

The king is dead, long live the dream

Over the past week or two, I've mentioned The Hometown's high school basketball team. They made it through the regular season undefeated (22-0) and then won their first four post-season games, making it to the final four of 4A teams in Indiana.

On Saturday (today as the date of the blog suggests, yesterday as I type this entry) the dogs ran into a buzzsaw and couldn't recover from their poor (6 of 19) free throw shooting in a 51-41 loss to an unranked Brownsburg team at the Southport Semistate.

Much sadness around here, and The Blog will be wearing black for a while in mourning.

Feel free to check out more details here, here, or here and photos here, as well.

March 14, 2008

Because it's easy

And the random ten with minor comments...
"Rocky Mountain Way" by Joe Walsh
Another bit of proof that I like the individual Eagles way better than I ever liked the collective...the group sucked...the guy weren't all bad
"In the Garden" by Van Morrison
The entirety of Astral Weeks is marvelous, looping back and forth on itself time and again, making for a great listen. The Girl hates the whole album and pretty much won't let me play it even once while she's around.
"Just a Kid" by Wilco
From the Spongebob Soundtrack...one of the more entertaining kids' movie soundtracks in a while.
"Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" by Wham
Forever tied to the tragedy that can come from gas fights for me now.
"Tainted Love" by Soft Cell
This is the short version, without "Where Did Our Love Go". For trivia, feel free to learn that the album from which this came is called Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret.
"Beautiful" by Smashing Pumpkins
Tough one to classify because it's sort of pretty but not identifyable as anything in particular to me. I do wonder why the Pumpkins had to self-destruct.
"Cry on Demand" by Ryan Adams
Amazingly sad song that just sounds beautiful is you're not paying attention.
"Scarlet" by U2
Very early U2, jangly guitar, almost a gospel feel with the repeated "rejoice" line.
"Waltzing's for Dreamers" by Richard Thompson and Shawn Colvin
This one's from the live boxed set that any Thompson fan should have. Amazing collection of his work.
"1979" by Smashing Pumpkins
They return and present a blast of an upbeat song. Great stuff...

March 13, 2008

Nothing says lovin' like...

So, you see a woman (or man, you make the call) across the room. She catches your eye - probably has some sort of visual thing goin' on that got your attention in the first place - and you wander over to her. You're not looking to make any sort of love connection or anything, just maybe pass a few minutes' time and perhaps make a new friend.

But as you get closer to her, the scent hits you again, suddenly like ape scent gloriola - she smells like WAFFLE CONES.

Before you know it, you're desparately in love and helplessly at her feet begging you to marry you that instant.

Or at least I would be...but I'm kind of a sucker for a fresh waffle cone.

And luckily, Demeter Fragrances has a full line of colognes for you ladies to snare a super stud like me.

There's all of these options and much more:
  • Angel Food
  • Play Doh (which I think I've mentioned before)
  • Mango Pineapple Salsa
  • Laundromat
  • Hot Fudge Sundae (from their Jelly Belly line)
  • Wet Garden
  • Basil
  • Condensed Milk
  • Funeral Home
  • Mushroom
  • Paperback
  • Holy Water
  • Clean Windows
  • Stable
C'mon, I mean who wouldn't be vulnerable and open to pretty much any suggestion if it was made by a woman (or a man, again, you make the call) if she smelled like condensed milk?

And they're all available in colognes (1- or 4-oz containers), bath & body oils & gels, and a room spray.

Be warned, folks, that next time you come over to The Homestead it may smell like Dirt, but that'll be intentional.

Aw, yeah...

March 12, 2008

Check, check, check it out...

Goly help me...Calen sent me a link to the work of a former student of ours - now posted on YouTube - that I'm about to include here...

The goly help me comes about because of the fact that I taught this young woman about six years ago, and how she's showing what God gave here in a video with some trashy Disney pop lothario...but here goes nothing...



...the video isn't anything bad enough that MTv is going to ban it, and that beat of the song is catchy enough, but the sight of seeing a former student in such a situation is very odd...I knew she'd gone into modeling (she was doing that while she was at good ol' PHS) and some acting (hold on a moment for more on that), but...well...this is just icky...sorry to be so vague...

...as is the experience of seeing the same young woman in the film Acts of Death (also known as The Final Curtain)...and which you can see in full streaming video right here...before you check out the film, however, be warned that she meets her end during the final reel (apparently splatter killed with some sort of caustic substance that her chemistry teacher - that'd be me - can't seem to understand just what it would be)...and to give further warning, here's a synopsis of the film's lengthiest review online...
ACTS OF DEATH is an above average low-budget slasher flick whose only flaw is it's slow pacing and to another extent, it's weak ending. The DVD itself features nothing in terms of special features , so I wouldn't recommend buying it... but if it's a slow night at the rental store and you're looking for something halfway entertaining (and you've seen just about everything else) then pick this badboy up... it won't blow your mind, but the kills are cool and well worth it.
After having watching most of the film myself (skipping around through some of the slower parts), I think the reviewer was being kind.

All that being said - and no matter the ickiness of seeing Niki in the Jesse McCartney video - it's awesome that she's apparently doing what she's wanted to do for years, that she's in the career field that she wanted to be in, and that she's apparently doing well enough for herself that she can send word of her career accomplishments homeward.

Congrats, Niki...

March 11, 2008

Probably more thought than the topic deserves

When all the archetypes burst in shamelessly, we reach Homeric depths. Two clichés make us laugh. A hundred clichés move us. For we sense dimly that the clichés are talking among themselves, and celebrating a reunion. Just as the height of pain may encounter sensual pleasure, and the height of perversion border on mystical energy, so too the height of banality allows us to catch a glimpse of the sublime. Something has spoken in place of the director. If
nothing else, it is a phenomenon worthy of awe.
Just under a year ago, Mike B of clapclap.org wrote a phenomenal piece on the prevelance of "Hallelujah" in television and movie sadness montages.

The piece is amazingly well written, phenomenally thorough, and a work of absolute genius. It is a bit long, I warn you, but it's well worth it.

And it got me to check out Mike's full blog with other writings about post-80's cartoons, a masters class on a single scene of Freaks and Geeks, an analysis of That's My Bush, and lots more.

Outstanding stuff, man...and intermittent enough that I can follow along.


SeeqPod - Playable Search

March 10, 2008

Check it out, folks...


Why yes, that is The Old Man there (in the white sweater over the blue button-down shirt - yes, I do have outstanding genetic fashion sense, thanks for asking - and I am destined for a life of glasses forever) giving out tickets to this year's hometown team's state tournament run...

Good luck to the boys with their rescheduled game tonight.

In case you're curious, the Bulldogs did win Monday's game and are now 25-0. If they win tonight's game (against the team that gave them their toughtest test in the regular season), I'll be busy Saturday.

March 9, 2008

Music of the people, by the people, for the people

I've been checking out the old folkies of late thanks to the release of the Best of Hootenanny DVDs, so you get to share in the joy and pain...

First, with the trailer describing the series...


Then, The New Christy Minstrels - pay special sttention to the racism at about 2:15...


The Kingston Trio tells the tale of Charlie on "The MTA"


Bob Dylan doing one of his most moving songs, "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol"...


And Dylan in his early days of doing folk covers...


Pete Seeger with "Guantanamara"...


And a bit too polished up, the Weavers sing "Goodnight, Irene"


"Eat at Joe's" from A Mighty Wind...


Peter, Paul, and Mary...


Phil Ochs - "I Ain't Marching Any More"

March 8, 2008

The reason for Thursday


I started last Thursday's post by wanting to put together a playlist of state songs. I'd just listened to Lyle Lovett's It's Not Big, It's Large album and was really enjoying "Up in Indiana" - no luck finding it on Seeqpod, however, so the playlist ended up being Ohio songs...

But, that doesn't preclude today's list post...

Songs with states in the title...let's find the best song for each state, many of which I've still got blank...

And just for the fun or it, I've bolded the ones that I'd say might qualify as the best state song ever...and I've put the ones added since the original post in italics...
Alabama
"Sweet Home Alabama" (Lynyrd Skynyrd), "Alabama" (John Coltrane), "Alabama Song" (Bertold Brecht and others), "Alabama Bound" (Leadbelly)
Alaska
"North to Alaska" (Johnny Horton)
Arizona
"Arizona" (Mark Lindsay, Paul Revere & the Raiders), "Arizona" (Alejandro Escovedo)
Arkansas
"Arkansas Traveler" (public domain)
California
"Going to California" (Led Zeppelin), "California Dreamin" (Mama's & Papas), "Californication" (Chili Peppers), "Goin' Back to Cali" (B.I.G.), "California Girls" (Beach Boys), "Hotel California" (Eagles), "California Sun" (The Rivieras and The Ramones), "California Love" (2Pac, Dr Dre), "California Stars" (Wilco & Billy Brag), "California" (Low), "Dani California" (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Colorado
-none-
Connecticut
"Connecticut" (Judy Garland, Bing Crosby)
Delaware
"Delaware" (Perry Cumo)
Florida
-none-
Georgia
"Sweet Georgia Brown" (various), "Georgia on My Mind" (Ray Charles)
Hawaii
"Blue Hawaii" (Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley), "Hawaii" (Beach Boys)
Idaho
"Idaho" (Yonder Mountain String Band), "Idaho" (Jesse Stone and others)
Illinois
"Illinois" (Dan Fogelberg)
Indiana
"Up in Indiana" (Lyle Lovett), "Back Home Again in Indiana" (Hoagy Carmichael), "Indiana" (Louis Armstrong)
Iowa
-none-
Kansas
-none-
Kentucky
"My Old Kentucky Home" (Stephen Foster), "Blue Moon of Kentucky" (Elvis and others), "Kentucky Woman" (Neil Diamond), "Kentucky Rain" (Elvis), "Kentucky Waltz" (Bill Monroe and others), "Kentucky" (Everly Brothers)
Louisiana
"Louisiana 1927" (Randy Newman), "Louisiana" (Count Basie), "Louisiana Lady" (New Riders on the Purple Sage), "Louisiana Man" (Doug Kershaw and others), "Louisiana Blues" (Muddy Waters), "Louisiana" (Percy Mayfield), "Louisiana Bayou" (DMB)
Maine
-none-
Maryland
"Maryland, My Maryland" (various artists), "Maryland" (Vonda Shepard)
Massachusetts
"MTA" (Kingston Trio), "Massachusetts" (Bee Gees), "Massachusetts" (Gene Krupa)
Michigan
"Say Yes to M!ch!gan!" (Sufjan Stevens)
Minnesota
-none-
Mississippi
"Mississippi Moon" (John Anderson), "Mississippi Moon" (Jimmie Rogers), "Mississippi Queen" (Mountain), "Bright Mississippi" (Thelonious Monk), "Mississippi Mud" (Ray Charles), "Mississippi" (Bob Dylan, Cheryl Crow), "Mississippi" (Red Foley), "Mississippi" (Pussycat)
Missouri
"Missouri Waltz" (Glenn Miller and others), "Missouri" (Merle Travis)
Montana
-none-
Nebraska
"Nebraska" (Bruce Springsteen)
Nevada
"Reno, Nevada" (Fairport Convention, et al)
New Hampshire
"New Hampshire" (Sonic Youth)
New Jersey
"Jersey Girl" (Tom Waits), "Jersey Bounce" (various artists)
New Mexico
"New Mexico" (Johnny Cash)
New York
(not the city, specifically about the state)-none-
North Carolina
-none-
North Dakota
"North Dakota" (Lyle Lovett, again)
Ohio
see Thursday's entire post, "Ohio" (Neil Young), "Ohio (back to Texas)" (Bowling for Soup), "Ohio" (Over the Rhine)
Oklahoma
"Oklahoma Hills" (Jim Reeves and others), "Oklahoma" (Rodgers & Hammerstein)
Oregon
"Oregon Trail" (Woody Guthrie)
Pennsylvania
"Pennsylvania 6-5000" (Andrews Sisters and others)
Rhode Island
"Sweet Rhode Island Red" (Ike & Tina Turner)
South Carolina
-none-
Tennessee
"Tennessee Sucks in the Summer" (Ryan Adams), "Tennessee Stud" (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), "Tennessee" (Arrested Development), "Tennessee Waltz" (Roy Acuff and others), "Tennessee" (Carl Perkins)
Texas
"Texas Flood" (Stevie Ray Vaughn), "T for Texas" (Jimmie Rodgers)
Utah
-none-
Vermont
"Moonlight in Vermont" (various - in my head, Willie Nelson)
Virginia
"East Virginia" (public domain), "Oh Virginia" (Blessed Union of Souls)
Washington
-none-
West Virginia
-none-
Wisconson
-none-
Wyoming
"Emperor of Wyoming" (Neil Young)
Oh, and to quote The Girl, "compulsive much?"

Back to the chaff

If I'm going to hang back with the blogging, I might as well link blog from time to time...

March 7, 2008

I know what I want

I am totally going to send away for my fontified handwriting.

I've always wanted to be able to type in my handwriting - actually in my printing because my handwriting it just shy of chicken scratching.

At nine bucks for the font, I'm tempted to buy a few and type up all of my worksheets in the new fonts. Students and former students, what would you think / have thought about that?

March 6, 2008

Back home again in Ohio

As The Girl just asked - "so, you're listening to Ohio songs?"...

Yup...enjoy 'em...


SeeqPod - Playable Search

March 5, 2008

Caption contest #1

The official caption was as follows
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) looks at Russian pop singer Fillip Kirkorov (R) after awarding him the title "National Artist of Russia" during a governmental award ceremony in Moscow's Kremlin on February 21, 2008. Putin gave out state awards of heroism and friendship among others.
...

but I'm thinking that it looks ripe for something much better than that...

keep it clean, though, folks...

March 4, 2008

The oldest stump I know

See that stump there?

The one floating in the lake?

Yeah, it's currently floating in Crater Lake in Oregon. It's called the Old Man of the Lake, and you could go out to Oregon and see it yourself if you wanted to.

Sure, the weather at Crater Lake's a bit rough this time of year with a bunch of snow on the ground, but it's above freezing during the days now that March has rolled around.

The neat thing about the aforementioned stump is that it has been floating in the lake (a pretty amazing lake in its own rights) for a documented 112 years now. It's been bobbing along through the lake - making pretty good time from what I can find - for longer than just about anybody on the planet could possibly remember. It's been drifting with the wind - with one notable exception...
Since he can be seen virtually anywhere on Crater Lake, boat pilots commonly communicate his position to each other as a matter of safety. At two feet across and four feet high, the Old Man would not be someone to meet when traveling by boat across the lake. During the submarine explorations in 1988, scientists agreed to the idea of tying up the Old Man off the eastern side of Wizard Island. They reasoned that this navigational hazard had to be neutralized until the day and night shifts of research work had ended. Strangely enough, the weather went from clear to stormy and even scientists get nervous when this occurs on the lake. It seemed as if the weather was poor so long as the Old Man remained bound. Once the log was freed, however, the weather settled.
...since Grover Cleveland took office the second time...since before my great grandparents were more than a twinkle in the eye of their parents.

And I'm thinking that I need to get out to Crater Lake sometime if he'll agree to bob along a couple more years.

March 3, 2008

The crappier of two craps - and a request

Tomorrow is the day, folks...it's vote or die time.

There are issues close to my heart, votes that I've already commented on, and even a candidate for whom The Parents are stumping.

And then there are the typical trashity-trash politicians of my now home of Butler County.

Two recent incidents have really thrown the Butler Co Republican party - a party that holds almost total and absolute control of politics here - into some horrible lights. There's the pathetic tale of the two candidates for county commissioner. From the article linked, you can see that one is accused of lying on her resume - twice, being arrested, not registering her dog, and being fired for pushing a political agenda and that the other is accused by an admitted cheater (more on her in a second) of ethical breaches such as using county buildings for campaign meetings, blowing a million or so tax dollars, and by budgeting poorly.

In comparison, he sounds like a real winner. And if the Republicans in Butler Co hold true to form, one of these will be the office holder come next January.

Then there's the tale of County Auditor Kay Rogers who just resigned after pleading guilty to filing a false income tax return and conspiracy to commit bank and mail fraud. Nice stuff from an auditor.
Our government was designed a couple of hundred years ago to be successful and to protect the people in spite of the people that we elect to office. There are to be enough checks and balances to keep any person from ever becoming too powerful enough to do any sort of permanent damage to us and to our nation.

But we have to exercise our rights and get out there and vote. Otherwise, we allow the scoundrels that we put in office to stay there.

So, do me a favor folks and rock the vote...educate yourself via the League of Women Voters or SmartVoter.org websites.

And vote...

Don't miss a single election...ever...

Thoughts on the afterlife

We're not talking heaven or hell here, just what to expect if you end up in limbo...

Your drink would always be either just a little too hot or just a little too cold...close enough to right that you'd go ahead and drink it.

Your clothes almost fit right...not so wrong that you'd change, but almost right so you'd go ahead and wear them anyway, but you'd spend the day fidgeting with the clothes.

Every television show would start five minutes into the episode or twenty minutes in if it's a two-hour movie.

Your fingernails wouldn't grow anymore, but they'd be just a little longer than you'd like them to be.

The music would be tolerable - but not good - cover versions of songs that you like.

Fruit would be permanently on the verge of being ripe but never would quite get there, and if it ever did, it would be just a little overripe.

You'd never be first in line - but there wouldn't be enough people ahead of you that you'd give up and come back later.

The vending machines would always pay up, but it would never be what you wanted.

The weather would change daily but would never give a full day or sun or rain...just a constant threat and intermittent drizzle...not cold but not quite warm either.

You wouldn't have to wash your clothes because they wouldn't get any dirtier but they'd always have just a slight smell to them - as though you'd been wearing them for three straight days.

The humming of the fluorescent lights would be the wrong pitch - and it would change every few days so you couldn't get used to it.

And the chocolate would've bloomed.

March 2, 2008

Matt Damien

I'm thinking that Matt Damon is way funnier and more talented than Ben Affleck. My proof...and this is also background for the recent back and forths between Jimmy Kimmel & Sarah Silverman - neither of which I'm able to post here...