Monday, April 30, 2007

Image Hosting Woes

Yesterday, I noticed that some of the pics I uploaded to Image Shack were not rendering. I have occasionally used Image Shack in the past to host pictures for use with eBay, etc..

I realize now that having Image Shack as an image provider for my blog might not be a good idea. I guess having the word 'Shack' in their company name should have been a red flag to me.

So, last night I went through all the pictures in my posts and moved them to my website, which, as of today, seems to be under a Denial of Service (DoS) attack. So, now all my images are failing to render.

Would someone please work the kinks out of this piece-of-crap Internet for me?


Sunday, April 29, 2007


My entry to Chris Sims' Spider-Man meme.

If it's not obvious, he is speaking to Harry Osborn.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Notes On A Scandal

I recently read a post by Dale about Notes On A Scandal, which pushed me to finally get off my couch and then sit back down to watch it.

It was pretty good, but I had a couple thoughts during my viewing.

1. If you're going to have a suspenseful film featuring two strong female leads with a lesbian component underlying their relationship, one of them at some point *has* to kill a guy by hitting him in the eye with a stiletto heel.

2. I don't see how any self-respecting fan of Strangers With Candy can avoid wondering how this story would play with Amy Sedaris as Jerri Blank taking the Judi Dench role.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Some YouTube Parody Domain Names Still Available!

I would not recommend visiting these sites as they will most likely give your computer herpes.

Website -- Availability -- Taken -- Taken -- Taken -- Taken -- Taken -- Taken -- Taken -- Available!

Meme Manners - Don'ts


If you wish to start a meme, you really need to follow the Meme Guide to Manners (tm).

Rule #1: Don't include questions that people might be unwilling to answer.

Sample "Don't" questions
1. What's the strangest smell you have ever farted?
2. What's your most embarrassing public moment -- be specific.
3. Most disgusting habit?
4. Have you ever fled the scene of a crime?
5. What, exactly, IS your f*cking problem?

Moved To California

Everyone knows the phrase, jumped the shark, right?

Well, I have thought of an alternative to this phrase, and it is also from a 1970's sitcom produced by Garry Marshall, Laverne & Shirley.

Now, the majority of visitors at agree that the show really started sucking when they moved Laverne, Shirley and the gang from Milwaukee to California.

Then, I thought. How about this as an alternative phrase to "jumped the shark" -- "moved to California".

Here's a sample of an exchange using this alternative catchphrase:

Person 1: Boy, E.R. really moved to California when they killed off Anthony Edwards.

Person 2: What do you mean? I think they have always shot E.R. in California, with only the occasional exteriors shot in Chicago.

Person 1: No, no, that's not what I mean.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Blogging and the Wet Vac

This post comes to you courtesy of the fact that I am waiting for seepage to stop in my basement. Wet vac, take a break, wet vac, take a break.

I have learned a few things with this experience.

1. If you can you avoid it, don't have living space in your basement.
2. If you're buying a house from some shady Eastern Europeans, make sure it's not during a drought.
3. They moved the cemetery but they didn't move the bodies! THEY ONLY MOVED THE HEADSTONES!!!

Fun With Google

Performing a web search for symbols via Google, where nothing happens.
There are no results, not even an acknowledgment that you perfomed a search.


Symbol searches that return results.
_ (underscore)

Symbol searches that acknowledge you searched for it, but yielded no results.

It is YOUR responsibility dear reader, to further investigate the full gamut of ASCII symbols that I am too lazy to complete.

Don't forget to retry all the symbols by searching on Google News, Google Blogs, and Chinese Google.

I want a double-spaced, heavily-footnoted report on my desk by tomorrow morning at the latest.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sharing the love

Something to counteract the negativity of my "He Better Be Dead" post.

If gorilla-on-gorilla violence can be considered positive.

He Better Be Dead

This is old news, I know, but I saw Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room for the first time last night when it aired on PBS.

I had followed the Enron case, but there were things that I learned of that I hadn't known. For example, Enron traders actually had some of their power plants shut down under various false pretenses during the rolling blackouts in California in order to artificially inflate the cost of electricity they were passing on to you, the consumer. They have some audio of traders patting themselves on the back and laughing -- it's really beyond my ability to comment on it, it's so horrid.

This kind of crime just makes me boil with rage. Someday this kind of crap will hopefully be seen as just one notch above child molester. Maybe when we stop worshipping the almighty buck.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Misheard Lyrics, Vol 1

Often times I'll mishear song lyrics and merrily sing the wrong words.

Even when I learn they aren't the right words, it would take a nuclear bomb covered in salsa to get me to stop using the lyrics I first thought I heard.

So, here's the first installment in a continuing series of lyrics that only exist in my head.

Moby - Natural Blues
What I Hear/Say
Oh no, trouble with God
Oh no, trouble with God

Actual lyrics
oh lordy, trouble so hard
oh lordy, trouble so hard

Harry Belafonte - The Banana Boat Song
What I Hear/Say
A beautiful bunch of ripe bananas
Highly deadly black tarantula

Actual lyrics
A beautiful bunch of ripe bananas
Hides the deadly black tarantula

Joyful Bubbles of Ordered Chaos

As I mentioned before, they are shooting a scene for the new Batman film The Dark Knight near where I work.

As I was hoofing it to Union Station to catch the train home yesterday evening, a police officer stopped me from my usual walking route on Canal Street. The Dark Knight production had a couple block radius cordoned off around the old Chicago Post Office. I was kind of irked by this as I would have to go out of my way to get to the train station and did not want to miss my train. As I walked up Clinton Street, I briefly looked down Van Buren to see what was going on. At that time a black helicopter whooshed off the ground into the sky from the corner of Canal and Van Buren. Cooooooool.

My annoyance was replaced with a "gee whiz" kind of feeling.

I have worked on a couple movies before, as a production assistant, as an electrician, and once as a jack-of-all-trades on a low budget 16mm feature film I was doing with a friend of mine. There's something really appealing about being a part of a film production, particularly when you are shooting "on location." It's like being part of this self-contained world which seems to defy the traditional conventions and logic of good ol' fashioned reality.

One time I was working on a film where there was a dialogue scene in the middle of a cornfield. I was there for several hours as they were filming. There's a lot of downtime as things are readied and perfected prior to them actually starting the cameras rolling, so I'm just standing there, thinking...
I am standing in a cornfield...
I am standing in a cornfield...
I am standing in a cornfield...

Something about that, that I was part of some beast that was, for its own reasons, hunkering down in a cornfield for a few hours, just struck me as really neat. I have felt the same way when I have been part of film shoots in businesses -- offices, restaurants, bars, etc. Often times I have met the real owners and workers of establishments we are filming in, and I get a sense of excitement from them when we are there as well. I am possibly misinterpreting the excitement vibe I get (maybe they're hoping being in a movie will help out with business, for example) but the way I think about it is someone you don't know has entered your place of work and suggests everyone go out and play a spontaneous kickball game.

My film experience is pretty paltry compared to most people who make a career out of the movie business, but I did have something amusing happen to me that others might not regularly experience. The 16mm feature film I mentioned was all done in various locations around Chicago, and we didn't have any permits to shoot anywhere. We were out on Columbus Drive near Buckingham Fountain shooting a scene where a character is on a pay phone. Across this big street was a large number of trucks, people, some police cars, etc. We eventually realized it was another film shoot, but not a dinky one like ours.

A production assistant (P.A.) from their crew yelled at us from across the street, "GET YOUR SHOT!" -- as in finish up, you film hoboes, because WE are filming here.. We noticed a guy with a large rolled-up newspaper sticking out of his back pocket, and we realized it was Kyle Chandler, and the cast and crew was from the CBS show Early Edition, whose bubble we were bumping against. It would have been nice if the P.A. could have personally walked over and cut off our balls, but he probably was busy doing other things.

So, if you have an opportunity to be on a film, as an extra, etc., give it a try. It will be freaking boring and there will be lots of waiting, but you might catch some of this "joyful bubble" feeling. Just make sure you don't set any buildings on fire.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Movie Theater Meme

Okay, one more freaking meme to get out of my system, this one is about movie theaters.

I did a quick blog search for movies and I saw an existing meme about film, and I'm gonna overlap for just a few of the questions. I am deeply sorry for the overlap, but this is a Movie Theater specific set of questions and I gots to ask them.

First movie you saw in a theater?
Last movie you saw in a theater?
Crappiest moviegoing theater experience?
Best moviegoing theater experience?
What's a movie you *have* to see on the big screen?
Have you even seen the same movie more than once in the same day?
Have you ever snuck into a theater to see a movie?
Ever walked out on a movie?
Movie snack of choice?

First movie you saw in a theater?
I remember going to a drive-in double feature with my family, where Jaws was the second film after some crappy thing I don't remember. I freaking fell asleep before Jaws started, so I guess I can't count that. It's probably best that I fell asleep. I was afraid of my own shadow back then.

Star Wars is the first movie that I definitely saw in the theater and didn't fall asleep. Other movies I remember from my green years -- the crappy Roger Moore Bond movie Moonraker, and The Villain (with Kirk Douglas, Ann-Margret and Arnold Schwarzenegger!). Of course I am saying "crappy" in retrospect. They were the absolute coolest things when I first saw them. A wristwatch that shoots darts? A live-action version of the Coyote/Roadrunner saga? Damn!

Last movie you saw in a theater?
Grindhouse. All six and a half hours of it.

Crappiest moviegoing theater experience?
Well, I have seen 5 year old kids chasing each other during a 9:30pm showing of an R-rated movie, I'd had people smoking cigarettes in front of me, but both these things were expected because I was seeing movies in a cheap theater. I would say that the a-hole looking at his extremely bright cell phone during the entire duration of The History of Violence I paid full price for would count as the crappiest experience in recent memory. He was sitting smack-dab in the center of the aisle, and close enough to the screen that I didn't want to move in front of him. And the thing was, I was afraid to ask him to stop messing with his phone because the movie was giving me the heebie-jeebies about some possible violent altercation ensuing.

Best moviegoing theater experience?
It's really great living around a big city sometimes. I really enjoy seeing classic movies I missed when they first came out, and especially movies that prolly would not have been available for me to see even if I was around when they were released. I have seen a lot of great movies at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago -- I was especially excited to see a kind of obscure Roman Polanski movie, Cul De Sac.

What's a movie you *have* to see on the big screen?
When I finally got to see 2001: A Space Odyssey on a big screen, I was really bowled over. If you haven't seen that one sequence in space with "The Blue Danube" music behind it on the big screen, for God's sakes try to. The Road Warrior is also incredible on the big screen, too.

Have you even seen the same movie more than once in the same day?
I'm curious how many people have done this. I have done it twice. Once for Raiders of the Lost Ark, and once for GoodFellas. I was just so excited when I saw these movies for the first time that I had to see them again the same day.

Have you ever snuck into a theater to see a movie?
I think I have snuck in after seeing a dollar movie to catch the last 20 minutes of another, but I don't know if you could technically count that as having snuck in. I'm kind of a wuss.

Ever walked out on a movie?
I did this once, for the movie Apt Pupil by Bryan Singer. It just struck a really negative chord with me. I just found it really offensive.

Movie snack of choice?
Salty - buttered popcorn, preferably in a tub (all food should be available in tubs!). Sweet - plain M&Ms. And Coca-Cola to drink.

So I tag:
Coaster Punchman

I would tag bubs again, but that's plain rude to tag someone twice in a row, right? Consider this a non-tagging tag.

If you s'wanna tag yourself, please do so. I do so love enjoying other people enjoying the cinema.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I come from a long line of intentional mispronouncers. A favorite catchphrase of my dad's is "Hope to sh*t in your mess kit!" spoken in the same context and tone of voice as "Have a nice day." I still have no idea what the hell it means.

My dad is also big with the spoonerisms, and permanently scarred my older brother by having him learn the phrase "Chi Chi Boo Boo" when waving goodbye to a train. Needless to say, I did not fare much better than my brother.

So, I am now stuck with a habit of intentionally mispronouncing words in casual conversation.

I couldn't find any word to describe this concept, so I'm making one up. A stiglet -- an intentionally mispronounced word.

There's really only one stiglet that I can use quite a bit, and believe me, I use it quite a bit. Click on the word to hear how it sounds coming out of my piehole.


The rest I use when I can, but they don't come up that often.

pneumonia (you see where this is going don't you?)

On very rare occasions, I'll hear a word mispronounced and adopt it as my own. Here's a favorite of mine:


Thursday, April 19, 2007


Okay, here's another one of those things I just somehow happened to notice which you may or may not have noticed.

I have seen The Shining in the theater once, and have seen it on DVD four or five times. During my last viewing of the film, a line of dialogue popped out at me for the first time.

So, in my last viewing of the film I happen to notice that a line spoken by the Stuart Ullman character (the character Jack Torrance goes to interview with for the job of the Overlook Hotel caretaker) has a strange change in it. The word 'isolation' sounds very slightly different -- louder, with more force, having a slightly different quality (music snobs would call it timbre, but I'm not a music snob, folks).

Stanley Kubrick, to put it mildly, could be called a detail-oriented kind of guy. One could even go so far as to say he is somewhat of a perfectionist. The chance that this use of 'isolation' somehow slipped in unnoticed by the man to me seems pretty slim. He could have easily re-recorded the line of dialogue so this difference wouldn't be there. But he wanted it to be there.

What? You say you can't hear the difference? Close your eyes and play the clip again. Still nothing? Okay, put on headphones, close your eyes, play the clip again and concentrate.

Now, you say, okay, I hear it. So what?

So what? You ungrateful bastard.

The Blogger's Hyperbola

Back in ye olden days I enjoyed putting up the odd webpage when a certain topic struck my fancy enough to do so, but I found the whole process of presenting page(s) devoted to a new topic, what with all the accompanying homemade images, font choices, color schemes, etc., to be nauseatingly time-consuming and dull. I didn't want to do things half-assed (not to say that the results still didn't often appear half-assed), so I eventually chose to do nothing at all.

Consequently, my webpage just sat there like an old chair, letting the digital cobwebs gather.

Flash forward to years later, where I began pretty regularly checking in at Bubs and MizBubs' darling l'il compound. I got inspired to start a-postin' again.

As I don't need to tell you (but nevertheless am, by gosh), blogging is a nice catalyst for throwing thoughts straight from your brain onto the INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY.

The one problem I have with blogging is that it seems to me to be a pretty time-sensitive medium. "New" is good, "sorta new" is sorta okay, and "old" is disregarded --- which brings us to The Blogger's Hyperbola:

Note how high the reader interest is when one's post is as fresh as a baby's recently-filled diaper! Sadly, as that diaper gets older and older, no one cares anymore. Throw that diaper away.

Now, sometimes my posts are relevant to the time they were written in, but other times I am sharing timeless nuggets of wisdom. Sadly, these posts will end up in the diaper pail of history, unless I proactively do something.

Oh! That reminds me! Did you ever wonder what songs I would sing in a crowded elevator?

Seven Songs Shaking My World

Continuing the chain, the last link being Johnny Yen

List seven songs you’re into right now ... no matter what they are. BUT they must be songs you’re presently enjoying.

The New Pornographers - The Bones Of An Idol (from Twin Cinema)
Any song that Neko Case sings in the New Pornographers invariably is their best. When the instruments kick in overdrive after she sings "but something keeps turning us on" it is head-bobbin' time.

Lou Reed - Halloween Parade (from New York)
This song from his New York album is achingly beautiful, simple and sad, and filled with lots of affection. One of my favorite songs of his, I'd also match it with any songs of the Velvet Underground. It's that good.

Pylon - This, That (from Chain)
Man, I am digging Pylon. They were contemporaries of R.E.M. way back when in Athens, GA. Not to be confused with some recent band from the UK also calling themselves Pylon. Great guitar, singing, drumming. This just happens to be the Pylon song that is getting the most airplay these days for me.

Donovan - There Is A Mountain (from a Greatest Hits collection)
I heard this song emanating out of the PA speakers in a store called Hobo, which is basically a cheap version of Home Depot. I had never heard it before, but really, really liked it. As soon as I got home I popped some lyrics I was able to make out into a search engine. Minutes later I was grooving out to it. Fantastic song.

The Everly Brothers - Illinois (from Roots)
I really love the Everly Brothers. I immediately went for this song, 'cause I am sucker for all things Illinois. A really pretty song, with nice piano and their great, inimitable voices.

Leonard Cohen - The Captain (from Various Positions)
I love this song, it's really bouncy. And I love the lyrics, particularly the lines:

"Complain, complain, that's all you do
Ever since we lost
If it's not the Crucifixion
Then it's the Holocaust"

The Magnetic Fields - I Don't Want To Get Over You (from 69 Love Songs, Vol. 1)
Nice synthy song. Like a lot of Stephin Merritt's songs, the lyrics are really clever. He drops a nice lyrical bomb at the end.

"Or I could make a career of being blue
I could dress in black and read Camus
Smoke clove cigarettes and drink vermouth
like I was seventeen
that would be a scream
But I don't want to get over you"

Consider yourself tagged if you haven't done this yet.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Rory's First Kiss Update!

There is a gargantuan old US Post Office building off of Van Buren Avenue in downtown Chicago that, to my knowledge, has sat dormant for at least 10 or so years.

A week or two ago I noticed some people building this wooden "gateway" at the service entrance of this building. I was curious as to what its intent was. The fact that it was just a wood frame made me think there wasn't anything permanent about it.

Later, the facade was painted to match the stone of the post office building. It matched surprisingly well, I thought, but still, what the hell were these people doing?

Last week, I had lunch with a friend who knew someone in the "Industry" who said they were building a set for the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight.

Sure enough, this is true...

Latest on The Dark Knight Filming
Dark Knight Set Pics

To not stir up the comic book geeks, they have all the Production signs referring to the film as Rory's First Kiss. Of course, by having all these 'RFK' signs everywhere, they don't even realize the amount of buzz they are creating for fans of the Kennedy family, a far more rabid group of people than your average comic book gaggle.

Seeing this cool set in person (I walk by it every day to get to work) reminded me of the time I was walking downtown when I saw a parking lot full of police cars that said "Gotham" on them during the time they were filming Batman Begins in Chicago. I was only mildly interested, due to the fact that the Batman movie franchise up until then was absolute garbage (yes, even the Tim Burton ones). I figured, oh wonderful, they are making another crappy Batman movie.

Now with the realization that Batman Begins was such a good film (up there with Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films, even), it's fun to be excited about Rory's First Kiss.

Go Rory!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


What does somebody have to do to be a permanent fixture in one's culture? And what's the least amount of effort one can put forth to get this to happen?

Here's an idea... introduce a new word into your language. "Truthiness," for example. Right now, the Blogger spell-checker is marking "Truthiness" in this typed post as an error, but, if this word somehow survives its novelty as a satirical concept promoted by a TV comedian, and enters into the holy halls of Regular Usage, perhaps someday the spell-checker will nod, yes, no problem with that word. That seems like a pretty amazing accomplishment to me.

So, now, I present... my word that will spread like a filthy little virus -- hell it might even enter the OED with balloons and party horns:


So far, two definitions.

1st Definition -- The act of an actor in a film or TV show, who in a line of dialogue mentions the name of the TV show or film he/she is acting in (e.g. "Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.").

Character actor Dick Miller is a notorious ringdinger, and has ringdinged in at least two films that I have seen.

He uses the word "gremlins" in the Joe Dante film Gremlins, and says the words "after hours" in Martin Scorsese's After Hours. Even when he isn't ringdinging, I am on the edge of my seat expecting it. He played the gun shop owner in The Terminator, and when Arnold asks for a "Phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range" I always expect Dick Miller's character to reply, "What are you, some kind of Terminator?"

2nd Definition -- The act of promoting one's self through the introduction of some lazy conceit, or a feeble twist on a preexisting novel concept.

So, by the second definition above, I myself am ringdinging in attempting to introduce the word "ringdinging" into the language.

Wow, I am the coolest loser on the planet!

Monday, April 16, 2007

This post contains no YouTube content

This post contains no YouTube content.

Thank you, drive safely!

The Best Goddamned Band Ever

Did I mention The Feelies were my favorite band?

The Feelies are my favorite band.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Tropicália Video Primer

I have much affection for Tropicália, a wonderful musical movement that started in the late 60's in Brazil.

Here's some choice video clips from artists of that movement.

Os Mutantes - Panis Et Circenses(1969) - Ain't they cute?!

Tom Zé - Hein? - The song is from the 70's. The performance is from 1991. From my favorite album of his, Estudando o Samba.

Gilberto Gil - Expresso 2222 - From the album of the same name. Fantastic!

I couldn't find a decent clip of Caetano Veloso, so I present another Brazilian clip, not really associated with the Tropicália movement, but a wonderful song nonetheless.

Elis e Tom - Aguas de Março - Prolly my favorite Antonio Carlos Jobim song - take that, Girl From Ipanema!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Don't Mess With Illinois

First, you probably have seen some of the GI Joe PSA spots by Eric Fensler.

If not, check them out in glorious color here.

Okay, you're back now? Pork chop sandwiches!!!

Anywho, I believe he is also in a local Chicago band, TRS-80. He did a video for a song of theirs called "Don't Mess With Illinois" which I happened to find on the YouTube.

I'm a sucker for this kind of grooving-yet-off-kilter music, plus I really like when people make found footage films.

Plus, it's about Illinois, I mean how about that, huh? HUH? Well?!!!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Hooked On Audiobooks

First, there was Hooked On Classics...

Now "catch" the "excitement" in Hooked On Classics' new series:


Thomas Friedman's - The World Is Flat
Hear An Excerpt

Ann Coulter - Godless
Hear An Excerpt (warning - extremely funky)

F***in' Profanity

In visiting various people's sites 'n blogs, the usage of profanity always sticks out at me.

Not in that I am offended by it, but I'm always interested in how people use it, particularly when they mask the word in some way.

I do this masking thing, too. Why do I do this? Maybe for the protection of the random 2nd grader that is browsing my latest love letter to Captain Beefheart, who'll stumble upon an especially excited sentence of mine where I expound on the f***ing polyrhythm drum part.

Or, is it that the word itself looks too vulgar sitting right there staring at you?

How much mask is required? How much is too little, too much? If people know what you're typing, even when you mask it, how is it any different?

I dunno, maybe it's somehow the equivalent of Jon Stewart swearing on The Daily Show. You know what he's saying, and he knows you know what he is saying, but somehow the "bleeped" presentation of the profanity is less blatant, and subdued, and maybe undercut a bit. He's operating within some boundaries -- it's swearing with a wink and a nudge.

So, I present some mask examples, followed by some alternatives to masking.

Standard Meat 'N Potatoes Masking
f*cking - No one is kidding anyone here.
f***ing - Hey, he could be saying "funning".


This isn't very satisfying. Makes you sound like a chickensh*t.


Comes in handy sometimes. Occasionally works used in polite conversation.


I don't know, something about it doesn't work. It makes me think of ducks, and still seems like a vulgar word. If you can use this and make it work, I give respect to you.

Complete symbolic nonsense

I think of this as too reminiscent of comic books or Mad Magazine. It's too confusing. You don't know for sure what dirty word the person is trying to use.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Um, Tag, You're It?

Seeing as the traffic to my blog is nearing a fever pitch, I thought I'd try and start one of them taggy things that meme all over the place.

I'm actually providing my own answers below to the questions. Hopefully that's not impolite.

Here goes.

The questions:
What was the first recorded music you bought?
What was the last?
What was the first "professional" music show you ever went to?
What was the last?
What's your "desert island" album?
What's your favorite album/song title? (the *title* which is your fav, not the actual album or song)
What's your favorite album art (include an image of it if you can)?
Ideal choice for a karaoke song?
Song you don't like that WILL NOT LEAVE YOUR HEAD if you hear it.
Which is cooler? -- Vinyl? CD? Cassette? 8-track?

My answers:
What was the first recorded music you bought?
The single of "Mr Roboto" from Styx.

What was the last?
A Tom Ze double-CD, containing the albums Todos Os Olhos and Se O Caso E Chorar

What was the first "professional" music show you ever went to?
I saw Harry Chapin at Sangamon State University in Springfield, IL when I was a kid, back in 1981. Months later, he died. Coincidence?!!

I think the first show I paid for myself was at the Assembly Hall in Champaign, IL, for R.E.M.'s Green tour.

What was the last?
I saw Os Mutantes (among other acts) at 2006's Pitchfork Music Festival.

What's your "desert island" album?
It changes from time to time, but right now it's Moss Elixir by Robyn Hitchcock.

What's your favorite album/song title?
I have two album titles that tie for first.
Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space -- by the band Spiritualized (actually have never even heard this record, just like the title!)
Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On -- by Funkadelic

What's your favorite album art (include an image of it if you can)?
I'm going to have to go with Parliament on this one. On Motor Booty Affair, it might be on the picture disc only, there is this amazing picture of George Clinton dressed up in a cowboy outfit riding dolphins while listening to a boombox. Damn!

Ideal choice for a karaoke song?
I have done karaoke only once, and made the mistake of picking a song that was light on vocals. I know if I do it again it'll be something off of Led Zeppelin IV. Prolly "Stairway To Heaven". It's wall-to-freaking-wall singing.

Song you don't like that WILL NOT LEAVE YOUR HEAD if you hear it.
"Two Princes" by the Spin Doctors ("Just GO ahead now")
The theme song for the kid's show The Wonderpets ("What's gonna work? Teeeeaaammwork!")

Which is cooler? -- Vinyl? CD? Cassette? 8-track?
Vinyl is cooler for the cover art. 8-track is cool for all the chunky clicks it makes when you switch tracks.

Okay, so I tag Bubs and Mizbubs. And you, dear reader. I tag you.

Let the wild stallion that is this meme run free.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Traffic Patterns and Emergent Behavior

Around twenty years ago my brother was living in Atlanta, Georgia, and while I was down there visiting him I was struck by how people drove differently there.

People drove at about 85 mph on the highways, which was a shock to me, at that time being used to a more calm 55 or 60 mph. Even stranger was how courteous everyone was -- if you needed to switch lanes, you simply put on your turn signal, and without fail, you would be let in.

I was amazed that there seemed to be a set of internalized rules governing people's driving habits, and that this was a localized phenonema.

Years later, I was driving in Chicago on a daily basis, growling at the countless driving a-holes would pass me on the right at a red light. Chicago was no Atlanta.

Well, now I have a label to put on this phenonema -- emergent behavior. Apparently it's all the rage now, what with the INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY and all.

Here's a nice article about emergent behavior and traffic patterns from the Boston Globe:

"THE FIELDS OF computer science and education suffered a blow on Dec. 5, when Seymour Papert, the 78-year-old cofounder of MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab, was struck by a motorbike in Hanoi. Papert, who had come to Hanoi for a conference on teaching math with computers, remained in a coma as of Friday.

Strangely, shortly before the accident, Papert had been discussing how to build a computer model of Hanoi's notoriously chaotic traffic. He found it an interesting instance of a theme closely associated with his work: "emergent behavior," or the way that large groups of agents following simple rules, with no central leader, can spontaneously create sophisticated systems and activities. Examples include schools of fish, anthills, bee swarms, and, apparently, Vietnamese motorbike drivers."


Monday, April 9, 2007

It Was 25 Years Ago Today

This Day In Usenet History: April 9, 1982
(according to a Google Groups search)

It was all in place, folks, lo those many moons ago.
UNIX, Deadheads and Leprechauns.

Negative gold
First off , my thanks to Ken for providing us with 5.2. I have but one flame. It seems that a lot of the gold at lower levels, particularly any dropped by Leprechauns, 1. produces no message ...

thoughts on a vi quiz
Group: fa.editor-p
From sdcsvax!draper@NPRDC Fri Apr 9 11:28:29 1982 Here are some comments on issues underlying Bill Mitchell's recent quiz on vi - issues that are sort of obvious but perhaps would benefit from being raised explicitly. ...

An APL quiz question
Group: net.lang.apl
The problem (changing a vector to a matrix with rows as separate words) is well-known. One solution appears in "APL: An Interactive Approach" by Gilman & Rose. Still another appears in APL News, V. 2 No. 1 (1977) in the APL Play column. ...
Apr 9 1982 by G:shal... - 2 messages - 2 authors

Group: net.lang.apl
In reply to ihuxi!otto, I have used the APL here at Purdue EE, and it seems fairly good. The number quoted for concurrent users is a bit low. I have run APL while 45 other users were running APL ...
Apr 9 1982 by pur-ee... - 1 message - 1 author

Group: net.lang.apl
I do not see that the problem mentioned by ihuxi!otto is a serious one, except for a special case that I will mention. First, each APL character is a single entity, even if it is formed on a conventional ...
Apr 9 1982 by rabbit!... - 2 messages - 2 authors

Run VMS Binaries
Group: net.general
I should have known ... I could only be a matter of time ... I have a request for a method to run VMS binaries under 4.1BSD UNIX. Has anyone already done this, or even currently working on it? How about tried it and failed? ...
Apr 9 1982 by pur-ee!mah... - 1 message - 1 author

Quiz time
Group: net.lang.apl
A solution to this problem was given by Michael Halpern in his IBM technical report "Algebra, Scan, and Permutations". I would be glad to mail copies of his functions to interested parties. /Jeff ...
Apr 9 1982 by G:shal... - 2 messages - 2 authors

single elements vs. scalars
Group: net.lang.apl
In regards to Ned Horvath's comments of april 7. I don't know of any primative scalar function that does not distinguise between scalars and degenerate, one element, higher order arrays. Anyone care to find one? charles honton (CWRU)
Apr 9 1982 by cwruecmp!hon... - 1 message - 1 author

Dead Heads
I'm new to the net; is where music lovers of the One True Religion hang out? If not, then where?
Apr 9 1982 by G:w... - 1 message - 1 author

Whats a paradox?
Group: net.math
A very small clinic, of course. Sorry, I've been waiting years to use that joke in public. If you think I'm going to sign this.....
Apr 9 1982 by eagle... - 2 messages - 2 authors

Friday, April 6, 2007

Oh Mickey, Heavy Mickey

Okay, okay, I'll admit it. I bought the single "Mickey" by Toni Basil on 45 when it came out. Throw me in hipster jail.

But, one very nice thing came out of it. I had a habit of playing around with the speeds of the records I would play. And, lemme tell you, this single sounds absolutely kickass slowed down to 33 1/3. The drums are heavy. I mean, HEAVY.

And the song takes on this very intense homoerotic undercurrent. "I'll take it like a man" indeed!

It's really another song entirely, and I now present it to you, for being so special.

Oh Mickey, Heavy Mickey!


Cynomolgus Monkey

From time to time I'll look up a word online - sometimes for the definition, the spelling, the pronunciation -- or, occasionally, when I just want to hear an official-sounding reading of the word "ballsy".

Here's some sound files I saved off for some unknown reason, which I'll share with you now.

01. ballsy
02. chomp
03. cretin
04. crunchy
05. cynomolgus monkey
06. dickey
07. exeunt
08. finagle
09. foosball - The guy is really having fun with this one.
10. garbanzo
11. homunculus - Ah, one of my favorite words. Unfortunately, it is difficult to drop in casual conversation.
12. party pooper - I would have put the emphasis on 'party' rather than 'pooper', but that's just me.
13. peanut
14. prima ballerina
15. sangroid
16. stanch
17. supine
18. undulate
19. Uranus ("You're in us")
20. Uranus ("Your anus")

If you work in an office setting:

1. Save off a whole bunch of these kinds of sound files
2. Turn up your computer speakers
3. Pop the files into your favorite music player
4. Hit shuffle/repeat
5. Take an early lunch

Warning: This may result in early termination or a solid pummeling.

As you may be already aware, there are people who take these online sound pronunciation files to the next level.

Visit to see people who string together these sound files into vocals for covers of their favorite pop songs.

Now you too can know what "Rock the Casbah" sounds like if crooned by a group of dweeby dictionary pronouncers.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Songs To Sing In A Crowded Elevator

Okay, to be more precise, snippets of songs to sing in an elevator. I'm not talking about singing a whole entire song in an elevator.

Oh, heavens no. I'm talking about blurting out a line or two from a song to briefly entertain the passengers. Sadly, Aerosmith's "Love In An Elevator" did not make the cut, though I realize the appropriateness of it and all.

Without further ado, I present tiny sound samples of the song snippets I would sing...

1. "How you gonna get the money?!!"
The White Stripes, "Hello Operator" from their album De Stijl
Pretty much any single line in this song would work, but I'm partial to this one, as it poses a question to your fellow riders. How, indeed, *are* you gonna get the money?

2. "See Chameleon, lying there, in the sun!"
Slade, "Run Runaway" from their album Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply
Again, you're attempting to attract the attention of your fellow riders. See it? See the chameleon? See it lying there, in the sun?

3. "Dead .. Beat .. Club!!"
The B-52's, "Deadbeat Club" from their album Cosmic Thing
Honestly, pretty much any Fred Schneider vocal would be fine to use. I just happen to be partial to this one.

4. "The Thousandth And Tenth Day Of The Human Totem Pole"
Captain Beefheart, "The Thousandth And Tenth Day Of The Human Totem Pole" from Ice Cream For Crow
This is a nice one to spook people out with.

The Pixies, "Tame" from their album Doolittle
I don't think I have the cojones to sing this in an elevator, but I give respect to anyone who does.

6. "Everybody's crazy, even MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"
The Method Actors, "Halloween" from their album Little Figures
I could make this vocal line my cell phone ringtone I love it so much. Singing this will, similarly to 4 and 5, make people a little uncomfortable.

7. "Pussy pussy pussy marijuana!"
Brazilian Girls, "Pussy" from their album Brazilian Girls
If you sing this happily enough, everyone will smile and wish you to have a nice day.

8. "Has anybody seen the BRIIIDGE?!"
Led Zeppelin, "The Crunge" from their album Houses of the Holy
Without a doubt the worst single vocal line Robert Plant has ever produced. Singing this line will make everyone think you are a crack addict looking for a quick, easy way out of your hellish life.

9. "[Now] Tell the truth."
Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Sweet Home Alabama" from their album Second Helping
Probably the least likely song bit I would sing in an elevator, unless someone happened to say the magic line "Does your conscience bother you?" I know they don't say, "Now" in the line from the song but I can't help it, dammit.

10. "The Longest Time"
Billy Joel, "The Longest Time", from his album An Innocent Man
This, this, my friend, this is where you can prove your worth as a public singer. Start singing, and then point to other people in the elevator to join in with you. Extra points if you can get somebody to do the falsetto part. This is the Holy Grail of elevator singing, so go get it.

Coyote Now Free As Bird

Just so you don't worry too much about l'il buddy...

Again, from the Chicago Sun Times:

April 5, 2007

"Sandwich lovers beware -- the most famous non-cartoon coyote in America is back on the loose.

Adrian, the lost coyote that wandered into a Loop Quiznos sandwich shop Tuesday and settled into its bottled drink cooler for 45 minutes, was released in northwest suburban Barrington Hills Wednesday.

The little guy didn't waste much time getting out of his cage, although his getaway was not exactly flawless."


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Loop Coyotes Love Quiznos!

From the Chicago Sun Times

"So a coyote walks into a Quiznos . . .

Sounds like the start of a joke.

It's not -- although dozens of downtown folks got a good laugh out of it Tuesday.

A male coyote really did wander into the Quiznos sandwich shop at Wabash and Adams -- in the Loop! -- just before 2 p.m. Tuesday. Workers had propped open the front door for the warm afternoon, and in sauntered the roughly 30-pound, 18-month-old wild animal."


Tuesday, April 3, 2007

If You Needed Another Reason To Like The Watchmen

Occasionally, I'll get a minor epiphany, where I'll realize a cool facet about something (usually music/movies/pop culture stuff) that to my knowledge has not been remarked on by someone. So, here's a first post trying to convey my geeky excitement about one of these occasions. Hopefully you get at least 1/3 the pleasure from it as I did.

First of all, if you haven't read the Watchmen, read it.

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, a little background. I used to be big with the comic book collecting and reading, mostly of the superhero variety. I was more into Marvel stuff, Spider-Man mostly.

I stopped collecting comix in the mid-80's. The last comics I bought were a DC mini-series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons called the Watchmen, which pretty made every other superhero comic look like a big pile of superpoo. The comic is incredibly dense, with many, many references, puns, intricate storylines, all that stuff. It's an impressive piece of work.

Anyways, I had a hankering to reread it again recently, and didn't have the original comics on hand. I was able to obtain a digital copy of it (basically a zipped-up file of jpegs) and in quickly flipping through the images suddenly realized something I had never noticed when I was reading the actual comic.

There is this part where Dr. Manhattan, a very powerful superhero, has his sense of time all messed up, and he starts acting a little goofy as if he is not in complete control of his own actions. So, by flipping through the digitized images of the comic I noticed that in two consecutive pages the artwork is completely different except for two images of Dr. Manhattan, which remain completely still...

This is something I doubt I would never have noticed had I not viewed the comic digitally. For God's Sakes, look at Dr. Manhattan's word balloons in the second detail. Even those are in the same position!

Once again I geekily bow to the feet of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

A Face In The Crowd

I recently saw Elia Kazan's 1957 film A Face In The Crowd, starring Andy Griffith as a drunk in a county jail, who through a variety of circumstances quickly rises to a position of power, predominantly through his charismatic behavior on radio and television.

It was the first time I had seen the film, and it had a lot of interesting echoes given the current situation the world is in. I'd recommend you see it if you haven't, and see it again if it's been a while.

I thought the movie was very well-made. Andy Griffith had a great scenery-chewing role, and Walter Matthau gave a nice early career performance.

The film had a pretty strong political message, which I took it to be mostly an apprehension to the new media (television) coming down the pike, and how it could be used by a common rube to sway the masses of common American rubes and possibly ruin our country.

I know a little about the politics of director Elia Kazan -- he considered himself liberal, but testified and named names in the HUAC hearings in the 50's. This film --and don't get me wrong, I liked it -- seemed really threatened about the rise of some form of populism, that could spread virulently through the airwaves of television and radio.

This kind of grassroots populism never really took root, at least via the medium of television. The best example I can think of this is when Ross Perot spent millions of his own money booking airtime to show us pie charts. People were excited, but then it just sort of fell apart. What's wrong with being excited? Isn't it offensive to paint the involvement of everyday Americans as a threat, or something to be ridiculed?

From time to time I've seen the mainstream media belittle the involvement of the American people. I remember seeing a puff piece on the NBC news where it showed everyday Americans running for President. Tom Brokaw chuckled at the audacity of American citizens attempting to run for office. Don't they know how the political process works?

Now, decades later, people are somewhat empowered by the rise of the Internet. I don't want to paint an overly romantic picture about it, but there seem to be more options and a give-and-take, perhaps the faintest whiff of a new populism.

One thing that the film sort of glosses over, or doesn't make much of, is that Andy Griffith's character is being shaped by various people in power in order to further their own agenda. I remember reading a while back about how neocon George Schultz convinced Dubya to run for President. The two situations seem very similar, except for the fact that Dubya's charisma seems a little forced and manufactured. For me, this is the big threat -- unaccountable people pushing chess pieces on a board, outside the realm of a democracy. But, for Kazan, it's the rubes.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Bees and Band Names

In case you weren't aware, honey bees have been disappearing rapidly in the last year or so:

Colony Collapse Disorder []

Of course, the first thing that sprung to my mind was how "Colony Collapse Disorder" sounded like an indie or hardcore band name.

Here's a few more bandnames, along with what I imagine they sound like:

Massive Bee Death
..sounds like..
The Rollins Band OR 10,000 Maniacs

No More Honey
..sounds like..
The Stranglers

Where Are The Honey Bees?
..sounds like..
Belle and Sebastian