November 30, 2008

Pick a metaphor

Any metaphor...but stick to just one or two...c'mon, man...

Linkity Blinkity

From the tubes...

What? I can't hear you...

If Mos Def were President


Freestyle


Reading Malcolm X


"Close Edge" (cleanish version)


About Jena 6


with Michel Gondry


about the man


in the Hip Hopera


fashion designer


casually and mushmouthedly shopping


"Umi Says"


Spoken word


On an interview show

November 29, 2008

For the birds

In honor of our feathered friends who valiantly gave their lives so we could all pig out on Thursday, enjoy today's playlist...

November 28, 2008

The words on the pages between the covers

Here's the deal, yo...

World War Hulk: Damage Control - It's a clear lock for me. World War Hulk is my favorite cross-over from either of the major publishers. It's way more fun and cohesive than anything else that either DC or Marvel has published. It puts Civil War, Infinite Crisis, Countdown, DC One Million, One Year Later, and every other cross over they've tried to absolute shame.

The main series is nothing but an awesome throw down, and the ancillary storylines are thoroughly entertaining. In this one, we get a bit of a look at the aftermath (Aftersmash by the title of some of the issues) of the Hulk's destruction of New York. We get to see how some of the secondary characters - Hercules, Goliath's brother, and others - deal with the changes and losses in their lives. In the other storyline, we're allowed to see the on-the-ground reconstruction from the Damage Control administration, a kind of comic Haliburten. We're introduced to a half dozen non-heroes who are just trying to get the city back on its feet and are willing to spend a few hundred billion to get it done.

There's nothing her that's necessary to get the whole World War Hulk storyline, but there are some entertaining, single-issue tales that are worth reading if just for the fun of them. The artwork's nicely done as is the characterization.

It's a fine if fluffy addition to the main tale.


World War Hulk: Gamma Corps - another in the tie-ins to World War Hulk, the Gamma Corps brings together a number of Hulk-related heroes to try to defeat the Hulk, at least they're supposed to be heroes.

The use of Hulk as both hero and anti-hero has been a revelation throughout the WWH event. Hulk has clearly been wronged by the "heroes" of Earth - Reed Richards, Tony Stark, Black Bolt, Prof X, Dr Strange, and Namor - but his mission to destroy and humiliate them ensures that his mission won't be one that is easily sympathized with.

Here we find five new characters - each introduced to us through extensive flashbacks - brought together by a shadowy government agency at the behest of a general who has a long-standing beef with the Hulk. Their one mission is the repay the pain that they view the Hulk to have brought to their lives onto the big green guy, himself. Their mission is simply to kill the Hulk and bring his body back to create more "heroes" like them.

They aren't, of course, successful - if they were, they'd be in the main storyline, not a spin-off - but the single-battle attempt is entertaining enough.

I can't imagine any of these characters being reused in subsequent series without the Hulk being the main focus as their origins and motivations are so closely and clearly tired to the Hulk that they would seem almost stupid outside the Hulk's tales. But they work here, and the story's a bit of fun.

The artwork's not bad, either, though there are a few issues with coloration as one of the "heroes" is simply a grey clone (give or take) of the Hulk, and the colors often confuse the two, often showing the Hulk in his old-school grey form by mistake.

Feel free to skip this one unless you're working on the entirety of the WWF event, but if you do grab it, it won't be a waste of your time.


Preacher - Ancient History & Dixie Fried - Preacher is a very odd series. There aren't a lot of comic books that would merit an essay in The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies nor are there many series that would put out an entire collection of issues that don't have single appearance of the main character. The titular preacher is nowhere to be found in any of the issues of Ancient History where we are given, instead, the backstory of two of the second-tier but important characters of the series: Saint of Killers and Arseface.

We'd gotten a glimpse of the backstory of the Saint of Killers a while back but here we get three full issues of his tale, from his lone shot at love to his revenge on and subsequent death at the hands of the men who had delayed him from returning to save that love and then to his subsequent actions in hell and beyond. It's an interesting story if one that is told with a rather broad brush, something that I am beginning to notice is a pattern with Ennis's storytelling. The details are typically left out of his stories in favor of very simple, almost two-dimensional motivations and actions.

The backstory of the Cassidy-named-Arseface is next and takes just a single issue and sets him on the trail of Jesse Custer, hunting the man down with the full intent to kill him. It's a palatable story but mostly here to push Arseface on the trail of the Preacher.

The third tale is the least enjoyable as it focuses on two of the hick morons from Jesse's backstory. The less said about this tale the better. It's a weird pastiche of horrible stereotypes, bad movie cliches, and Deliverence gags. It's almost enough to turn me off from the whole series.

At least Dixie Fried starts off a whole lot better, with a flashback of Cassidy's time in New Orleans, complete with a foppish vampire along the lines of Lestat of the craptacular Anne Rice tales. Cassidy proceeds to educate then eventually destroy the fop before we come back - after too long a digression - to the main storyline...which, of course, takes us back to N'Orleans where Cassidy's actions turn out to have repercussions.

The tale's getting a bit long, and I hope there's a bit of movement toward the goal soon, because my attention's starting to drift. The Cassidy betrayal storyline, however, has me intrigued.



Planetary - Warren Ellis' semi-regular series has been ongoing for nearly a decade now though it was on hiatus for a fair part of that time. I got into the trio of collections after picking up Crossing Worlds a while back. That collection, by the way, was an awful introduction to the Planetary world because it was written entirely for people already familiar with the series itself. I was, however, intrigued enough to go hunting the rest of the series.

Planetary is a fascinating concept, hodgepodging together much of modern comic and sci-fi into a cohesive and thoroughly independent world, something akin to Astro City's world in which heroes have been around for a long while, and there's clearly something going on below the surface that is revealed in slow bits and blobs through the series.

We enter as a new member is being recruited to the team of three - the titular organization. The others have been together for a while, and we're not privy to the things that they know until the new man - Elijah Snow - becomes privy to them. It's an interesting conceit and an absolutely fascinating whole.

Sadly, however, the three volumes collect only up through issue #18, which leaves the final nine issues uncollected anywhere. Which is killing me.

I need some closure, people.



Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends - I'm amazed at how utterly readable Neyer's work can be in small doses, a column at a time on ESPN's website and how utterly unreadable I find all of his books so far. They read like the columns, most of the book utterly independent of the rest of it, each little blurb fully digestible in a single sitting.

But they're boring.

Taken as wholes, they are less than the sum of their parts.

In this one, Neyer presents his research into the veracity of a number of what he calls baseball legends. The most notable of them is the famous called shot of Babe Ruth, but most of them are minor footnotes in history, things that most people - me included - would never have heard or even thought to consider as a source of anything more than the smallest, fleeting interest.

Skip this one entirely.



The World Without Us - Continuing my promise to read actual adult books from time to time, I checked into Alan Weisman's exploration of just what our planet would look like if every human on the planet were to instantly disappear.

Weisman has done an impressive job of exploring a number of aspects of the planet and how each would be affected by our disappearance. He examines the concentration of oil refineries in Texas, megafauna in Africa and the Americas, our changes to soil, nuclear energy and weapons, our largest cities, deforested regions, the oceans, and many more. In each case, he examines how the planet would undo the changes that we have wrought as well as what of our changes would be the most lasting.

Bits and pieces of these are fascinating - the examination of how New York City would fall and the underground cities of Turkey being the two most interesting to me. Others, however, left me entirely bored and forcing myself through the chapters - primarily those dealing with the large animals of Africa.

The book reads almost as a collected series of magazine articles in which the author has chosen to look at one aspect of our world each month. There is little if any connection among the chapters, and the book never held together for me.

Moderately interesting, however...



W. - Oliver Stone's third presidential movie - after JFK and Nixon - offers us a glimpse into the forces and events that helped shape our outgoing Commander in Chief. In the process, he makes the titular Dubya into a much more complex, sympathetic character than how he is generally portrayed in the media while making his entire supporting cast less complex.

The various supporters - both personal and political - are played gamely by a host of talented actors, and Josh Brolin's lead is impressive. The entire movie, however, comes of as boring and utterly unnecessary if not even misleading. The Austin Chronicle summary over on Metacritic says it well...
In our age of 24-hour news coverage, this rehashing of current events doesn't just come off familiar but completely unnecessary. And, worst of all, prosaic.
It's a bunch of stories that we've all heard before - at least the parts within the administration's time - with nary a revealing insight. The parts prior to the current administration, then, play like the most bland, stereotyped attempt for a man to get out of his father's giant shadow.

The movie bored me throughout, and I found its willingness to combine events - Bush speaks the "fool me once" line not in a press conference as he truly did but rather in a private White House meeting, something Stone seemed willing to do throughout the film - likely to confuse those who actually do remember the events shown in the film.

Stone's film is weak, lacks the judgment of historical hindsight and distance, and doesn't reveal anything whatsoever other than his own biases. Clearly, Collin Powell was a good man and a lone voice among the administrative team. Dick Cheney was weasely and evil. Condalisa Rice was shrill and annoying. These must be the true versions, because they are all that Stone offers us.

This one should be thrown on the trash heap, never to be shown again.

November 27, 2008

The nicknames

Okay, in case anybody joined our program a little late, I use nicknames all of the place because it's not my business to call folks out by name. I will provide, however, a bit of a primer on who these people are...
PHSChemGuy
That's me. I was MtHChemGuy before that because I was teaching at Mount Healthy High School, but I opened up the Hotmail account PHSChemGuy (no longer operational) when I got the job at PHS, and I've stuck with it ever since.
The Girl
That's my wife. She and I met in junior high, began dating in high school, and got married in 2000. She's asked me to keep her name and photo off of the blog because she doesn't like her identity to be out there any more than it already is. I have, at last check, slipped a couple dozen times - most recently this summer - and used her real first name.

The Girl came about because, when we were in college, she would typically refer to me as The Boy to her friends. As in "The Boy is coming to visit this weekend." Somewhere along the way, I picked up a similar nickname for her, partially because she refused to answer to Cutie Pie - which I still use from time to time and she has come to tolerate.
The Homestead
This is home, the house, the domicile, the place where I lay my head most every night. We've lived here in West Chester for three and a half years now, having moved out here from our home in Northside, a nice neighborhood in Cincinnati proper. Before that, we were in an apartment near UC for a year.

The Homestead was chosen because of it's approximately equidistant from PHS and where The Girl was working in Hamilton until last year. It has also lead to The Girl's new job a scant 1.1 miles from The Homestead.
The Surrogate Family
That's Calen's brood, the one with whom I've subbed picking Calen's eldest up for practice once, gone to a baseball game in the Dad role, and generally hung around with a bunch. Once, the youngest member of The Surrogate Family showed up with me when you Google image searched my name. No longer, however.
The Pater Familias
That's Dad, he of minor interweb fame. I'm amazingly close to who he is and find myself growing more and more like him almost every day - though he would clearly never make something like this ever lengthening blog. He's a high school teacher and has been at the same school for forty-plus years now, the same school that he (and I and The Sister) attended. He's a general presence in The Hometown as he's taught half of its residents (or so it seems), managed one of the local community (private, admittedly) pools, has run for office (unsuccessfully), and has been a member of the Police Merit Board (in charge of the police department) for as long as I can remember. He's a member of the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame. And he's a big fan of James Bond, Charles Bronson, and Chuck Norris.
The Sister
She's around here as - at different times - Amellia or Jadis. She's a teacher, too, but back in The Hometown, or at least in the same system we all went through.
The Hometown
Back home again in Indiana, this town is New Albany, colloquially known as N'Albany, right across the river from Lou'ville, KY.
CoachSullivan
He and I went to high school together. I was the best man at his wedding. If ever I end up on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, he's a contact...easy choice there.
ColdNorthGamer
Also a high school friend, and the one who's been the furthest around the world, he having lived in Singapore for a while. His kid's on the fridge a few times.
Calen
I work with her.
Joey, CMorin, Mr Echt, DanEcht, Murravener, Katydid, Grace
They're all former students of mine. I'll let their various blogs speak for themselves.
Achilles3
He's a bum...big bum. Used to teach at PHS, headed out to Korea under clearly shady circumstaces. Probably a security risk.
Did I miss anybody?

November 26, 2008

Distorting the world to reveal the truth


I stumbled across a CNN.com article about a book and website Atlas of the Real World in which computer mapping tools have been used to redraw the world map according to various statistics other than land area.

Up above, you'll see the map of AIDS deaths around the world as of 2002. There's also detailed information about this map available, as there is for every one of their maps found on their website where they offer their six hundred or so maps and information entirely for free.

Always good to see people finding new ways to present information to us.

November 25, 2008

The science

A while back, in one of the various catalogs that find their ways to our mailbox, I saw a listing for Weem's Stormglass with the following text...
Fernlike crystals? Expect cold and stormy weather. Clear liquid? Fine and dry. The Stormglass has reliably predicted the weather for 250 years. (Admiral Fitzroy used it on board the HMS Beagle during his voyage with Darwin in 1750.) No one knows quite how it works, but it does, indoors or out, without batteries. Brass cylinder holds a sealed glass chamber filled with crystals. Optional display plaque bears a brass plate explaining how to read the crystals and know what weather is coming. Plaque rests on a desk or hangs on a wall. Simple assembly. 10" x 8".
That sounds like some intriguing chemistry, and the "no one knows quite how it works" sounds like utter bullpucky, so I went researching.

The search for Weem's Stormglass didn't turn up anything other than links to the Signals catalog, but searching for a stormglass was a lot more productive.

About.com gives a little more info, telling a bit of history of the stormglass. According to About...
Admiral Fitzroy (1805-1865), as commander of HMS Beagle, participated in the Darwin Expedition from 1834-1836. In addition to his naval career, Fitzroy did pioneer work in the field of meteorology. The Beagle's instrumentation for the Darwin Expedition included several chronometers as well as barometers, which Fitzroy used for weather forecasting. The Darwin Expedition also was the first voyage under sailing orders that the Beaufort wind scale be used for wind observations.

One type of barometer used by Fitzroy was a storm glass. Observing the liquid in the storm glass was supposed to indicate changes in the weather. If the liquid in the glass was clear, the weather would be bright and clear. If the liquid was cloudy, the weather would be cloudy as well, perhaps with precipitation. If there were small dots in the liquid, humid or foggy weather could be expected. A cloudy glass with small stars indicated thunderstorms. If the liquid contained small stars on sunny winter days, then snow was coming. If there were large flakes throughout the liquid, it would be overcast in temperate seasons or snowy in the winter. Crystals at the bottom indicated frost. Threads near the top meant it would be windy.
...and gives a list of ingredients as well as some instructions to construct a stormglass of your own...
Ingredients for Storm Glass

* 2.5 g potassium nitrate
* 2.5 g ammonium chloride
* 33 mL distilled water
* 40 mL ethanol
* 10 g camphor

Dissolve the potassium nitrate and ammonium chloride in the water; add the ethanol; add the camphor. Place in corked test tube.

Mark Ford, who has been making storm glasses for years, e-mailed me to add that man-made camphor, while very pure, does contain borneol as a by product of the manufacturing process. His experience is that the synthetic camphor doesn't work as well as natural camphor, perhaps because of the borneol.

Mr. Ford advises dissolving the nitrate and ammonium chloride in the water, then the camphor in the ethanol. Next, slowly mix the two solutions (adding the nitrate & ammonium solution to the ethanol solution works best). It also helps to warm the solution to ensure complete mixing. Mr. Ford never uses a cork, preferring to seal the mixture in small glass tubes.
You can also check out a graphic showing what the crystals should look like in various weathers. There is, of course, also a Wikipedia article on the stormglass (linking to the tempest prognosticator, the finest weather predictor based on leeches).

No where do I see any sort of actual research suggesting that the stormglass's crystalline changes actually correlate to weather prediction in the least. Nor, however, do I see anything that explains the changes in the crystalline appearance of the goop in the glass.

I'm intrigued...anybody know anything about 'em?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storm_glass

November 24, 2008

Clearing the decks



And now we begin the rebuilding process...

In case you need another one

Just in case you needed another blog to check out, there's DHADM.com. They're into video posts - often centered around advertisements and television in general.

And there's the glory of Deputy-Dog.com with its admittedly infrequent posting (between five and ten a month), but those few posts are outstanding. Great visuals and some thorough research to find and explain them.

November 23, 2008

Commerce

Thanks to DHADM.com and the idiot box for helping with today's YouTube post...shop away, folks...

Macy's


Stanley Steamer


Holiday Inn


VW Routan


Nextel


Microsoft


AT&T


Lexus


Persil


AT&T, again


And, as a bonus, a hilarious Justin Timberlake visit to SNL.

November 22, 2008

Going old school

It's elemental today, folks...


November 21, 2008

November 20, 2008

How I became an adult...if ever I did

I'm not thirty three.

Not in my head.

I've read bits and bobs about the concept of self image, and I realize that everyone has an image of themselves in their head, a version of themselves frozen in time. I've no clue why we choose the version that we do - happiest time, most important time, most stressful time, self-loathing, self-love, whatever - but I do know that I am nowhere near the same age in my head as I am outside of it.

When I speak to myself in my head, I usually start the mental sentence with "ok, kid", and the flash of myself that I get is typically somewhere at Wabash (speaking of which, much sadness this weekend). There's been a lot of water under a lot of bridges since then, however, and I'm starting to think that my mental image is shifting a bit older.

The moment that it hit me was about a month ago, visiting a friend of mine (gotta get a nickname for him now that he doesn't live in my basement) and sitting on his back porch. It's a nice screened porch with a ceiling fan, and he's got a picnic table back there plus a decent glass-top table. I was sitting on the picnic table with my feet on the bench, and I had a pint glass in hand (water only, folks, I'm a fair lightweight). He came and sat down on the table as he waited for the grill to heat up, and I felt my self image jump a decade or so forward.

I have no idea why that image, that feeling jumped me forward, but it did. Maybe it was the concept of sitting around and drinking with friends - not because it's the weekend and we're drinking, not because we're in college so we're drinking, not because it's a party - just because we're guys sitting there having a drink and talking with our wives inside for the moment.

And it's been happening more and more at his house. See, he's got a kid.

He (seriously, need a nickname - something starting with The...maybe The Best Man, because he was mine...maybe The Don because he was in Aberdeen with me, and they're nicknamed the Dons...maybe The Zamboni because his last name's close to that...The Ice Man - going with the Zamboni reference...I'll think on things)...

Sorry...

He and his wife stayed with us through much of the summer of '07 and moved out in September, just a few weeks before The Junior Best Man (yeah, I think I'm going with it) came into the world. I've had a lot of friends have kids - CoachSullivan, Calen, ColdNorthGamer, a bunch more - some of whom I've been lucky enough to have met early in their lives. But all of them have been kids that I've known here and there on visits into town.

The Junior Best Man, however, is a kid that I'm getting to know through visits pretty much every week, sharing his first Christmas, his first Halloween, his christening, his development bit by bit. And I dig the kid. Maybe not for th first little bit - babies are pretty much lumps for their first while - but once a little personality started to develop.

And I find myself re-enacting photos that I remember my parents having around the house. There are photos of me as a baby being held by their friends, people who I came to know as friends of the family and who I have photographic evidence of them having known me pretty much from birth, the same way that I know The Junior Best Man. I find myself taking the parts of the young adults from those photos, first holding the kid tentatively then a little more confidently. Feeding him while the parents look on, hoping that I'm doing everything right.

It's an interesting place to be...enjoying the hell out of being the unrelated uncle but not wanting a kid of my own.

I think I might just be edging toward being an adult.

November 19, 2008

Back to the well

A few years back I pointed out a charitable endeavor from the guys at Penny Arcade: Childs Play.

The guys have put together a site where various children's hospitals around the world can put together an Amazon wish list, and you can buy needed toys for kids who have extended stays at the various hospitals.

When I last pointed this site out, Cincinnati didn't have a presence on the charity list, but now they do. So The Girl and I are going to forgo any serious gifts for each other (small knick knacks in the $20 range only) and instead give what we would normally spend on each other.

If you have a few bucks, you might want to consider checking out one of the hospitals in your area. Heaven knows that the kids are in need and that most of us have a little that we can send their way.

Or you can help children even less fortunate through the One Laptop program.

November 18, 2008

Two shout outs

Two quick shout outs to bloggers who have posted cool stuff recently...

Joey threw down a post to the newest projects from Randall of XKCD fame. I especially enjoyed BestThing.info, but do be warned that some of the things there are a bit from time to time.

And Grace banged out a cheap shot to FaceInHole.com with its awesome and amazingly easy interface.

Thanks, folks, for the quality linkage.

And to Weburbanist for the cool image.

Full frontal nerdity

If you're not into d20 gaming, feel free to move right along.

TL, Coldnorthgamer, read onward to enjoy a little Full Frontal Nerdity..

oh, and Calen, the first one's for you...






November 17, 2008

The image is backwards

So, a week or two ago, I made an off-hand comment about Chicago and Boston not having any filmic identity, and a bunch of you called me on that one.

Turns out that both cities have been filmed far more often than I had remembered.

Let's start in Katydid's adoptive town.
  • Blues Brothers - the second one never happened. It's like Rocky V and Superman IV. Pretty much every list has this one set entirely aside as being absolutely, hands down the quintessential Chicago movie. They're all right. It's #1 with a giant bullet.
  • Untouchables - "That's the Chicago way!" Gangster movies play decently heavily in the Chicago genre, and this is a fine one. Sean Connery's performance is as scenery-chewing as he ever got, and he didn't deserve the Oscar for it, but it would've been a crime if he didn't get one for some role somewhere along the way.
  • About Last Night - softball, a Belushi (the lesser one), Cubs fans. It's a bit of fluff from Demi Moore & Rob Lowe after the Brat Pack flicks had started to fade, but it's fun.
  • Adventures in Babysitting - I don't think of it as Chicago, but it's been years since I last saw it, so I'll take a pass and plead by ignorance.
  • Breakfast Club - not Chicago as big city. It's set in Shermer, a fictitious 'burb of Chicago. I didn't remember it being in or around Chicago, and I would argue that it doesn't do much to give the Windy City a film identity. It's a great film, yes, but not one that says "this is Chicago" to me. It will stand place for every John Hughes movie on my list. They're all Shermer movies to me, not Chicago movies.
  • Chicago - Set in a mythical Chicago. It's a film of an era more than of a city to me.
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off - An easy #2 behind Blues. This is Chicago with the parade being the absolute most Chicago moment. Outstanding choice, everybody.
  • High Fidelity - It's a London book but a Chicago movie. Again, another one that doesn't scream Chicago to me, maybe because there's never a big shot of the city skyline. I'm starting to wonder what it takes to be a Chicago film to me. Maybe it's got to be set in downtown. I don't know the neighborhoods too well.
  • Risky Business - Most outstanding use of elevated trains. Thank you, Tom Cruise.
  • Road to Perdition - Outstanding film but one that's more about the main character's journey than the city to me.
  • Hoop Dreams - Outstanding, heartbreaking. I shouldn't have forgotten this one.
  • Eight Men Out - It's Chicago in a way that Untouchables is, a strong period piece that couldn't have been set anywhere else because it happened there.
  • The Fugitive - Another strong Chicago feel to me. I'm feeling like I screwed up on ignoring the City With Broad Shoulders.
  • Red Heat - Never seen it, but I stayed in the hotel where it was being filmed while it was being filmed - when I was in 6th grade. We took a big field trip for like four days in Chicago. Good times.
  • The Company - Robert Altman's film set with the Chicago ballet. Excellent use of Grant Park in the finale. Gorgeous film, very Altman.
  • Doctor Detroit - In spite of the title, it's a Chicago film, and one I loved as a kid. Absolutely loved it. Stupid as can be. Amellia, how many times did one of us rent this moronic thing?
All these are movies I've seen but don't associate with Chicago in any way at all
  • The Color of Money
  • Home Alone
  • The Hudsucker Proxy
  • A League of Their Own
  • Payback
  • Sleepless in Seattle
  • The Sting
  • Christmas Vacation
  • The Sting
  • Wildcats
  • Barbershop (1 & 2)
  • Roll Bounce
Movies about/in/dealing with Chicago that I haven't seen and can't comment on
  • Backdraft
  • Child's Play
  • Continental Divide
  • Five Easy Pieces
  • Hoffa
  • Mad Dog And Glory
  • Mercury Rising
  • The Negotiator
  • Ordinary People
  • Running Scared - wait, is that the Billy Crystal one? That was kind of entertaining.
  • Candyman
  • Brian's Song - shut up, I haven't seen it
  • Rookie of the Year
  • While You Were Sleeping
The reference's used here...And, of course, Boston has had its fair share...that I forgot...
  • Departed - Overrated. It's Boston and all, but it's predictable and - I thought - lacked real drama.
  • Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone - however were outstanding and both very moving. Both dealt with similar situations - poorer people in a Boston neighborhood involved in making some poor choices. Excellent films, both.
  • Boondock Saints - Sorry, but this one was predictable, too. I saw the twist coming from the moment the character was introduced. Is it entertaining? Yeah. But it's a cult movie that people love for reasons that I just don't get.
  • Field of Dreams - The Terrance Mann scenes are great. I wish they could have used Vonnegut.
  • Good Will Hunting - I don't really know where Havahd Yahd is in reference to Boston, but it can't be too fah. Another quality film, easily the best thing that Ben Afleck had done until Gone Baby Gone.
  • Blown Away - A true guilty pleasure and one I saw with Coach Sullivan in E-town outside Louisville. This is a must-see if only for Tommy Lee Jones's Irish accent. Wow...just..I mean...wow.
References for the Boston flicks...Chicago kicks Boston's butt, but they both deserve more credit than I'd given them.

November 16, 2008

Playing around on YouTube

Richard Thompson's guitar school instructional video


KT Tunstall "Black Horse and a Cherry Tree"


Jeff Tweedy & Glen Kotche "Laminated Cat"


REM "Nightswimming"


Richie Havens "Handsome Johnny"


Primitive Radio Gods "Standing Outside a Broken Phonebooth"


Jeff Austin (of Yonder Mountain String Band) "Cuckoo's Nest"


Bonnie Raitt "Angel from Montgomery"


John Prine "Paradise"


Arlo Guthrie "City of New Orleans"


Neil Young "Needle & the Damage Done"


Crash Test Dummies "Superman Song"

November 13, 2008

But...uh...no...he's...why...


In the email today...
Dear Miami University Performing Arts Series Patron,
Thank you for purchasing tickets to our presentation of Kevin Smith November 22. Unfortunately, Mr. Smith has just had to cancel his performance at Millett Hall due to a schedule conflict with the overseas release of his new movie. Regrettably, he is unable to re-schedule his show at Miami University because of future movie commitments. I’m sure you are as disappointed with this as we are.
I doubt that.

Smith is now dead to me.

Until he comes back into town, that is.

Page 2 holds the jokes for a day

As much as we'd like to believe otherwise, our lives are what they are partially because of luck.

As this article reminds me, a single stroke of bad luck can change everything in a heartbeat. Thankfully Brian Boyle is an amazingly strong man. His story impressed the heck out of me.

You can also read his story in his own words at the same site that I got the photo.

November 12, 2008

Newer news than the new news

Sorry, folks...busy day...no glimpses my way, though I did get the pictures taken...

Instead, enjoy the very cool new use of Google.

And you can check the Google service itself.

So very, very cool...

November 11, 2008

Once more...with feeling this time

I've mentioned Niki Huey before (former student, current model).

Well, Calen sent me a link to another new video that features Niki. This time, however, she at least gets to express a little bit of emotion.



And based on the pacing of his singing, I think the black guy in the video just might be stuck in a closet.

Oh, and here're Niki's words introducing the video...
Hello everyoneeee
I swear I do lots of things other than music videos, I'm just really bad at the whole sending things home and showing people thing and music videos are the easiest thanks to youtube. :)

Here's Enrique Iglesias' new music video "Away". And yes, he is hot in person! hahahaha

Let the man speak for himself


Christopher Nolan's been fairly quiet about the future of the Batman franchise, and he's totally within his right to do that since he's made the best comic book movie ever. Thankfully, however, he's broken the silence with a lengthy interview in the Los Angeles Times...check out part 1...part 2...and part 3.

If you're gonna learn, might as well get it straight from the horse's mouth.

November 10, 2008

The weirdness that is

I love Wikipedia. If it weren't for the most awesomest user-edited encyclopedia in the world, I wouldn't know things like these...

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo is a linguistically correct sentence.

There have been hundreds of fictional US presidents including my favorite.

Some teams at the University of Hawaii (listed as Hawai'i) are still the Rainbow Warriors.

Prince has a lot of pseudonyms.

Only five albums were in the #1 spot in 1984.

Simon & Garfunkle were - I think - the last act to replace themselves on the Billboard #1 album chart.

The Monkees owned 1967.

Neil Young was not inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame three times like I'd thought. Apparently it's just CSN not CSN&Y in there.

"Rainbow Connection" was ripped off in 1979.

Bryan Derksen liked Wikipedia, too.

November 9, 2008

He's afraid of bears

Because the Colbert Nation allows embeds...

Digging on REM's new album...and getting all the chicks...


Getting jiggy with weatherproofing...


Wording the Mavericks...


Predicting the future of the intertubes...


Ron Pauling...


Talking to the past version of himself...


Introducing Sarah Palin...


Wording catharsis...


Checking in with Nas...


Bleeping a tribute...


Checking with Will Smith about playing Obama...

November 8, 2008

Short songs

Eleven songs...the total playlist won't even take you twenty minutes...they're brief...


November 7, 2008

LA's Story

What's Chicago's film legacy? Blues Brothers, maybe. But is there a second film that truly uses Chicago as a character?

Cincinnati's film legacy is pretty much WKRP in Cincinnati and a few scenes in Rain Man.

Hell, Lousivlle - my big city of birth, give or take - is pretty much one scene in Stripes.

Miami has a few more flicks, but it's pretty much Scarface and Miami Vice even then.

But there are a couple of American cities that live more in myth than in reality, whose image of them in our brains comes from film more than from reality. One of them is New York, and the other is Los Angeles, ye olde City of Angels.

And the publication of note out in LA has put together a list of the Twenty-five best Los Angeles movies, and it's a hell of a list with weighty flicks...
  • LA Confidential at #1
  • Boyz N the Hood at #4
  • The Player at #6 (genius, absolute genius)
  • Collateral at #9
  • Less Than Zero at #22
  • even Crash at #25
...and lighter fare...
  • Clueless at #7
  • Repo Man at #8
  • The Big Lebowski at #10
  • the freakish Mulholland Drive at #11
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit at #12
  • the vastly overrated Swingers at #14
  • Friday at #16
  • Speed at #17
  • Valley Girl (one of Calen's faves, I'm sure) at #18
  • my absolute favorite of the list LA Story at #20
  • Fletch at #23
It's a list to work trough some day...some summer.

November 6, 2008

Thoughts on an election

I am, by nature, a cynic.

My general beliefs are that...
  • there aren't ghosts
  • we have less control over our world than we would like to believe
  • dramatic changes are amazingly rare
  • that game you just saw that is the best ever probably is just the best recently
  • most politicians are trying to do their best but in a huge system that has amazing inertia
  • as much as you'd like to believe otherwise, your team probably isn't going to win because there are a lot more non-winners than winners every season
  • there isn't a higher power than science
  • all your cheering and lucky shirts have almost no effect on the outcome of the big game
And because of that inherent cynicism, I find it increasingly hard to get excited about much of anything. I watch almost every sports contest without much of a rooting interest and certainly without cheering or booing at the screen because I know that what will happen will happen whether I'm getting all worked up about it or not. And I tend to watch the news with a general level of dispassion.

But every now and then...

Every so often...

Something comes along that feels different.

That just might be significant.

I have heard people say in the days leading up to Tuesday's election that this election would be the defining moment of our times, our generation, our country. That things would somehow be different now. That history was being made.

My default position on most of those things was that we rarely know when defining moments happen until far after they've happened, that we don't usually know when history is being made because we can't predict the hundreds of millions of ripples that our every action will make upon our global pond.

In light of all this, it's tough for me to admit that the election of Barack Obama...excites isn't the right word...fills me with hope is too hokey...inspires isn't quite right. I wish that I were a speaker of German so I could make up a new word that mean fills me with a sense of hopefulness and joy tinged with a fear that this hopefulness will come to nothing if the source of the excitement turns out to be nothing but empty talk, because that's much closer to the feeling that Obama's election has brought me.

On Tuesday I voted for a president for the first time.

I'd voted in presidential elections before - which, by the way, major shout out to TL who fought for her vote much more than I did and got to cast her first vote in a big one - but I'd never voted for a candidate before.

Al Gore inspired me so little that I voted for Ralph Nader. John Kerry didn't inspire me. Nor did Bill Clinton, even, in my first presidential election.

I voted in all of those elections for the candidate that I preferred, but I didn't vote for those candidates as much as I voted for the candidate that I disliked less or least.

But I voted for Barack Obama because his words, his speeches, his campaign inspired me. He didn't run the default Democratic campaign even though many of his positions would have fit it well. He ran a campaign built on defining himself as a candidate of hope, of change (as cliched as that became in the course of this campaign), and of inclusion.

He offered to help and challenged us to set aside our differences to help each other. He warned us of sacrifices that would be necessary in his administration for us to help others - through health care, through charity, through taxes. And I didn't mind. Quite the opposite, I relished the honest turn in which a candidate didn't tell me that he could hang the moon and the stars without asking to stand on my shoulders.

And, damn, it's scary to think that I've put myself so far out there, allowed my cynicism to peel away even a bit and hope for once. I feel almost the way I would if I'd just written the words I love you to a girl in a letter and sent that letter out into the ether not knowing what would ever come of the admission, whether she would turn out to be worth the hope and the risk.

And we won't know for a long time whether this girl was...is worth the risk.

...

Opinions related to the election that I've particularly enjoyed and/or sympathized with...

November 5, 2008

In honor of whoever was elected yesterday

I'm writing this over the weekend, so I've no clue in whose honor the links list comes up today, but I'm sure somebody deserves it.That's it for today as I had to wait in line for a solid four hours thirty seconds yesterday to vote and didn't have time to put together any sort of real post.

The glimpses will come back next week...promise...

November 4, 2008

Don't leave a comment


The Cincinnati Enquirer's website has undergone some radical changes over the past year or two, something that was covered in Wired magazine a little while ago.

They've combined all their local newspapers (formerly the various community papers including the Princeton-area Tri-County Press) into the one website, no longer offering up individual homepages for each. And they've - more noteworthy - also encouraging a lot of what they call citizen journalism which seems to end up being a whole lot of people doing stupid and mostly non-newsworthy self promotion and a lot of very poorly-written local interest articles.

Seriously, look at this piece of crap. There are nothing but short sentences, not a single combination into an actual paragraph. It's like something written by a middle schooler.

The lack of actual reportage - and any sort of consideration for what is worth reporting and what isn't - isn't, however, my beef for tonight. That'll be for another time as we consider the dichotomy between what people want to see/read/hear and what they need to be told. Instead, my complaints for today lie entirely with their increased offerings of comments on every news story.

Take, for example, the comments recently left on a story about the Lakota contract talks:
When are teachers going to realize the make good money? Hey, I haven't had even a cost of living increase in over FIVE years! Do you hear my complaining? No, I understand it's tough out there right now. These teachers who are already making a LOT more than I ever will are never happy. Look, if you don't like being a teacher find another career! But you will quickly find that there isn't much out there which you will make more money. Yes, times are tough....grow up and deal with it like the rest of us. Or does it just kill you to drive home in your big SUV, pull into your huge garage, and then take the family out to eat? Yea, I bet. Spoiled teachers.....sheesh!

...

Be sure to have a full knowledge base of any situation before you rattle off a half-brained response. Don't assume the media has all of the information you need to be fully aware.

...

This sounds like sour grapes to me! I was curious do you have your masters degree? If not... Why don't you go back to school and get your master's degree so you can have a big SUV, huge garage, and go out to eat every night. Please do some more research before you make comments like the one you spewed out above.
We have a craptacular initial comment, one designed to set a tone of only the lowest level of discourse. It's an ignorant rant, practically designed to pick a fight. And it's dumb.

The Enquirer has added the opportunity for people to have intelligent discourse replying to any of the topics that the site covers, but they haven't set anything in place to prevent this kind of asinine, lowest-common-denominator commentary - which is what I find most common to the comment section. And then we get two people saying "oh, you should be more open-minded" when they should really be ignoring the moron and just letting him scream into the ether without response.

See, it's way easier to smack on people if you don't have to see them face to face.

Newspapers - and by extension news websites - should not be for the reporting of every mundane detail of the world nor as forums for every opinion to be bandied about without concern for the factual basis of that opinion.

As much as I want everyone to be free to report and to inform each other - it's important for our freedoms that we have some outlets - I also want there to be some sort of established news entity that can provide a researched, resourced, filtering of what is happening in my world, and a bulletin board service with commentary is not that entity.

Randall had it right.