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Friday, February 28, 2003

WaPo.com: Appeals Court Won't Reconsider Its Pledge Ruling

Back at WorldCom we would've called this a "career-limiting maneuver." But, you know, maybe some people are just too principled to care about representing their constituency or the Constitution or what's right.






Victor comes out of the closet

Today I finally felt an end to the shame. For years I'd been feeling, I dunno, ashamed of my recordings. Some folks seem to like the music I make, but it's not exactly mainstream. So for the past four weeks I've been sitting down in front of the computer and, when I'm not searching for jobs on monster or flipdog, I try to make music. If you've been following along at home you know that my attempts lately have not exactly been inspired. See, I haven't exactly been motivated. You'd think that with all the time in the world writing music would be easy. But it's really not. Without a real job all I can think about is that day four weeks from now when the severence (and benefits) runs out and.... Anyway, without a job I haven't been able to justify spending time on music, especially on the weird sort of music I turn out, and wouldn't have the motivation or creative energy even if I could.

But that's going to change. Today. Yesterday I took some of aforementioned severence to the local Barnes and Mega Book Store and scouted around for "The CD" there. I'm always looking for "The CD". "The CD" is the CD that's finally going to make it all click for me. It's going to justify my musical hobby and inspire me onto the Next Big Thing. I've, at various times, bought CDs I thought were "The CD" (like the most recent from The Supreme Beings of Leisure) but none have warranted more than 2 or 3 listens. Disappointments all. This time, though, in addition to a VeggieTales singalong CD ("Pirate Boat Load of Fun", which is pretty good itself), I picked up a 2-disc compilation called "Electro Nouveau" from Moonshine Records. I gave it a brief listen at the kiosk they had there and it blew my mind. If it's not "The CD" at least it's good enough for now. Synthpop! Nu-Electro! Tech! Foreign terms for a very familiar sound... listening to this CD is like hearing a distant echo from the days in High School when I would drive around in the huge 1978 Lincoln Towncar and listen to the WCBN, the way-out University of Michigan student radio station (I actually made a demo tape to become a DJ there once, but I made it 85 minutes into the 90-minute demo tape -- no cuts or stops were allowed -- before I miscued one of the turntables, starting up the song I'd just carefully faded out instead of the next track I wanted to play, and started cussing into the microphone... I didn't have the heart to do the whole thing again, which is probably best -- I knew nothing about music then... I still don't).

Anyway, if I've learned one thing from this CD it's that I don't have to be ashamed of my Commodore-64-sounding warbly synth lines and pounding, repetitive basslines, or obviously synthesized drums. Who aside from me thinks that's cool? Well, that's what I used to think. Come to find out that some people used to think that was really hip. And, in fact, some folks still do: enter Freezepop, a synthpop band just formed in Boston in 1999. Check out their website for tons of free mp3s ("Harebrained Scheme" is my favorite so far -- it's in stereo). They've got it all: synthesized drums, cute warbly synths, and a singasong female vocalist who sometimes sings with some pretty mean band-filtered, flanged vocals.

So -- not ashamed anymore. In fact, I think I'm going to get better at what I've been doing, rather than trying to become something I'm not (like a club DJ or jazz singer). Sure, I'll still do more-or-less "serious" projects (I've got one I'm working on now, honest, I'm working on it!), but it'll be cool to have something as a side-project, a creative outlet for those times when my more serious muse gets backed up. And I'll be able to do it better, having some guidance in such matters. If nothing else, maybe you'll hear one of my songs in a Volkswagon ad someday.

Rock. Now I just need a name for my synthpop band....






MSNBC: NASA releases shuttle's last video

The fact that this is the only video, from the more than 250 videos which they took that mission, which survived the accident is amazing. I don't know if it's miraculous or not. But it is certainly amazing. Now, I don't know if it's amazing in the same sense that our country's space program was capable of doing something 34 years ago which we're now told is impossible or not. But it is amazing.






Cartoon Tributes to Mr. Rogers (by all the top cartoonists).

Some very tender and well done, some slightly less well done, none unwelcome.






Yes, yes: I know. But I've been in denial about it, okay? Still, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought last week's Buffy, The Vampire Slayer (or "Buffy, Slayer of the Vampyres" as one character had it for his homemade documentary) was top-notch.






If you've never gotten around to reading Ulysses, I reckon this handy cartoon summary could save you a lot of time. Thanks, Jane!








Thursday, February 27, 2003

How do you really feel about Lady Elaine?

Pansy over at Two Sleepy Mommies (No Waiting) 'blog rightly comments on just how scary Mr. Rogers' Lady Elaine puppet/character was. Britain picks up on this, too, of course. If there was any puppet in the Land of Make Believe who I could, as a child growing up, invite you over for tea and then hit you with a blunt object and throw you into a cauldron, I was certain it could be her. Seriously, she seemed to weild some otherworldly power which set her apart and over the other puppets. To this day I'm still not certain what the deal was with her.

Greg: you worked with the guy. Any ideas?






Some of you out there may be collecting those nude anti-war protest pics. Here's another one for your collection. And far be it from me to comment on the size of another man's placard, but the "Rumpsfield" sign is a bit of a stretch. I think "No War: Colon" or "No War: Condol-ass-a" would've been well, not more appropriate, but less of a stretch.






Rest in peace, Mr. Rogers.

This news isn't as sad as I thought it would be, when the day finally came. There's reason to look forward to seeing him in heaven. Perhaps by the time we get there he'll have composed another song or two. Perhaps one like "You'll never fall off, you'll never fall off, no, you'll never fall off the cloud." Anyways, X the Owl was one of the coolest puppets of all time and even if that was all Fred Rogers had ever done, I would miss him for that. The loss to we parents is great.

Greg Popcak shares his personal reflections on the neighborhood.






Things that go "bump" in the night.

So last night around 4AM, 'Xander woke up really, really fussy. Jackie got out of bed, went downstairs into the dark kitchen, flipped on a light and started to heat up a bottle we'd premade the night before. A few seconds later there was a thunderous cracking sound which shook the house and woke me up clear on the other side of the house. It sounded like someone or something had broken right through the roof and into the kitchen -- directly behind and above Jackie -- but there was no one there (all the animals were asleep in other rooms). Jackie was a bit shaken up, as you might imagine, so I went downstairs to investigate and the only thing I noticed which was amiss was a pugent acrid smell. Eventually, somehow, we all got back to sleep.

We checked this morning and the snow on the roof hadn't been disturbed. Nothing had fallen over in the kitchen or in any other room and the ceiling and walls weren't cracked, as I thought they must surely have been, given the sound. Eventually I crawled up onto a chair and looked above the cupboards at the ropelights Jackie had installed to give a nice soft glow during the night and sure enough, they had exploded, rattling everything in the cupboards and making that awful noise (and judging from the charred plastic remains, the awful burning plastic smell, too). So remember that: ropelights don't burn out when they've reached the end of their, er, life expectancy: they explode, often times in the middle of the night when you've just turned them on. Still, it's nice to know our house isn't haunted.








Wednesday, February 26, 2003

FOXNews.com: Supreme Court Rules for Abortion Protesters

I really don't see this so much as "a major victory for people who regularly block clinic doors" like the article says so much as it is a victory for the US Constitution and those who still believe in the protection it affords for the people and the limits it puts on their government. Eight-to-one is a pretty good majority, too, and encouraging coming from that court. Here is the decision itself.






The 'Plog That Would Not Die

Justin Katz directs my attention to this Tech Central Station piece, "Guerilla Media" written by Glenn Harlan Reynolds in which the 'plog is linked. Woohoo! It bears repeating, though, that without Katz' own 'vlog as inspiration, the 'plog would never have come into being.

That said, there has been a request to Closed Caption the 'plog. While this is beyond my means, I will write up a transcript this afternoon.

Update: Transcript complete.






NewsMax.com: Mel Gibson Does Jesus Movie the Hard Way

"Put a cross on the edge of the Grand Canyon, surrounded by thousand-foot cliffs, all around you. The wind whips down the ravine, where the river is at the bottom, and when it hits that island you're on, it literally shoots up the side of the hill," Caviezel described the 15-day-long ordeal he underwent.

"When it hits the cross, several feet up in the air, it's just bone-chilling. Crazy. The cross starts to sway and you think, it's going to break. All you do is shake - and pray - all day."


Jim Caviezel has more to say in that article. He's the man.








Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Tonight's episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, "Storytelling", was really quite good. It was the first "Andrew" episode (meaning that it featured a character who had heretofore been only a minor plot consideration and much-needed comic relief -- comic relief which was actually funny). There was a lot of unique and creative storytelling elements to the particular episode (it involved home video camera footage, fantasy montages, flashbacks involving reworked old footage, flashbacks involving all-new footage, multiple flashbacks of the same event (Rashimon-style, but all envisioned by the same, not multiple characters), and manage to bring new viewers up to speed as well as offer a lot to the loyal viewers who've seen every episode (okay, so we missed one episode because our local UPN affiliate booted it to show NBA basketball instead) by having many of the bad things which happened at Sunnydale High School during the first three seasons happen all at once (a girl goes invisible because no one notices her, another girl sees ghosts in the mirror, and a stressed-out kid explodes). So very creative, funny, creepy, and morally serious all at the same time.

Nice touch: the only thing which could calm and close the Hellmouth (a mystical portal to Hell, through which all the really mean and nasty evil things come into our world) which had been "activated" by the blood of an innocent character (and even though Jonathan is now dead, it seems that thanks to the magic of flashbacks and an evil force that can take the form of any dead person, he's been in more episodes dead than he was alive) was the tears of remorse cried by the one who had murdered him, his best friend.

Oh, and it also featured some light (played for comic effect) girl-on-girl action, for those viewers who like that sort of thing.

Addendum: I corrected my typo up there, so it's not mispelled anymore, but not before I had coined a new word: epidose, as in "we got our weekly epidose of Buffy tonight."






Is America ready for this much suck?

I mean... movie remake of "Bewitched": suck one. It's being written by Nora Ephrom (You've Got Mail!): suck two. And they're raking Nicole Kidman (wearing prosthetic eyelashes, no doubt) through it? Suck three and I'm out of there.

Update: I am curious, though, if they're going to mirror the television sitcom by changing Dicks midway through. I can almost see Dick Gere mysteriously disappearing halfway through the movie and being replaced by "new Darrin" Dick Dreyfuss or Sir Dick Attenborough.






If you would've told me a year ago that both Fred Willard and Chris Elliot would be on Everybody Loves Raymond I would've said "nuh-uh." And if you would've told me that they'd be playing the father and brother of Robert's fiance and doing a very good job of playing the comedic roles straight enough to be credible dramatically, I would've said "no way!" But, yes way. That is what is happening lately on Raymond.

And then after Raymond they showed the premiere episode of My Big Fat Greek Life which is the sitcom adaptation of the movie which has a similar title and I'm too lazy to type it all out but it ends with "Wedding" instead of "Life". And it's pretty good. I haven't seen the movie yet, but the cast is pretty much the same (except for the Anglo husband guy) from what I can tell and it picks up right after the honeymoon. It was pretty funny and was honest, too, which is always nice. Lately all of my favorite new shows posessing anything resembling quality have been getting cancelled, though, so I'm not optimistic. When they bring back Firefly, Do Over, and A Family Affair --oh, and when Andromeda stops sucking like it has been all season (though this may change soon -- the upcoming episode brings back Rev Bem!!!! I guess the costume department and the actor playing that character worked out the makeup/allergy issue) I'll probably perk up a little bit.

Though G4TV's serial Portal which features amusing characters and situations "starring" "actors" from various multiplayer online games keeps topping itself and gets better and better with each episode as it begins this, its second, season. That's cool.






Jim Caviezel is a badass. These photos from Mel Gibson's "Passion" movie prove it. In other movie news, James Bowman gives "Gods and Generals" zero stars, which is one-and-a-half less than even Roger Ebert gave it.






Feeling intelligent? Check out Arts & Letters Daily. That's the name of the site, I mean, not that you should check out the arts daily. If you're experiencing a shortage of either ideas, criticism, or debate (or perhaps any combination of the three) you may find what you're looking for here. Thanks, Jane, for the link!








Monday, February 24, 2003

Can you draw a dragon?

I'm going to watch this tomorrow with the sound.

UPDATE: Turn up the volume when you watch this. It's pretty cool... "TRAG DORRRRRRRR!!!!" I'm busy checking out the rest of the site right now. "Can't Say Jorb" is pretty cute. I guess it's only a matter of time before these flash animations pop up on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. Any one of them has to be better than Aqua Teen Hunger Force.






I'm the winner!






Amazing Flash Mindreader.

This is actually pretty clever, though it only took me one try to figure out how it works, of course. If you're boggled by this, read my rather verbose explanation of it in the comments section below.






I don't know how some companies can claim to be all equal opportunity, treating all sexes fairly, and then still post openings for a "Post Doctoral Fellow". Give me a break!






Yahoo! News: Taiwan's Sewer Covers Pop Up in China

Just goes to show you, no matter how hard you try, sometimes you just can't keep the lid on something like this.








Sunday, February 23, 2003

You can always tell who our real enemies are: they're the ones who get all the foreign aid. Sanctions and US troops for Iraq, free food to North Korea. Still, I guess we should laud our administration's efforts to divorce North Korea from the Axis of Hungry. Though I get the feeling it's not so much a "loving your neighbor" gesture as it is a "fearing your neighbor's nuclear arsenal" gesture.






Hey, you! Yeah, you: reading this 'blog! Don't be so holy poly over my souly!








Saturday, February 22, 2003

Hero of Time

We finally beat Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time today. This most recent time through it took us about two weeks to beat it, though technically we started it way back on the Nintendo 64 in 1999 (Jackie liked Zelda on the Super Nintendo so much that when we were engaged and I had to go to Virginia for a month on business, I bought her a Nintendo 64 and Ocarina of Time). We made it almost all the way to the end, all the way to the Great King of Evil, Ganandorf's, Castle but I was so terrified of Ganondorf at the time that I couldn't bring myself to fight him.

This time, though, we were playing it with the far more forgiving (unless you're trying to aim the fairy bow) GameGube controller and we went through the trouble to get Biggoron's sword which helped out a bunch, too (it does twice the damage of the Master Sword). Anyway, Ganondorf and then his even more evil monster-incarnation, Ganon, went down, the six sages were able to seal him back into the sacred realm or whatever, the land of Hyrule rejoiced, and Link went back to being a little boy. I was very impressed with the level of attention they put into the game's story and play mechanics (I could appreciate the part the ocarina played a lot more this time through for some reason) and even though the game is now about 4-1/2 years old, it's still one of the best adventure games I've played.

And there's only 30 days until The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is released. While none of the official sites have mentioned it, I certainly hope Ganondorf is in the next game. I want to be able to crush him again.






On the war and menstruation.

Thanks to A Saintly Salmagundi, I have a new site to check up on from time to time: Brain-Terminal.com. Watch BT's Evan Coyne Maloney interview War Protesters in NYC. The guy has guts, a sense of humor, and also a really cool camera. I'll be checking that site from time to time to see what's new.

The latest topic of contraversy on St. 'Blog's of course is not the war (and you have to love Joe Marier's comment made in a comments box on the Saintly Salmagundi 'blog that a convention of St. 'Bloggers would have to contain an "Iraq War Ambivalence Rally") but an ancient article, "Where Angels Fear To Tread (on that site, reprinted without footnotes) written by the good Salmagundi. I consider the answer, as I consider the question, to not be so much one of attempting to determine historical fact as much as it is an intellectual or logical exercise, akin to the old question "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin." Of course no one, not even at the time, thought there was a "right" answer to such a question or that the answer really had any bearing on one's salvation (and medieval philosophy is continually mischaracterized as being concerned only with such unanswerable metaphysical pedantry, which is not the case. Though, the correct answer to the question, of course, is all and none of them). I believe the point of the article, as is the point of even asking the question, is that you can believe in Mairan menstruation or not believe, as you wish, and here is some evidence for or against. It's something interesting to think about, but don't expect anything ex cathedra on it.

But really -- why, in the end, would anyone even really care so strongly as to, as some readers of Bill Cork's 'blog have expressed, get emotional about it? Belief or disbelief in this matter really doesn't affect our salvation either way.

And people say *I* have too much free time. One can only imagine the field day some folks would be having if, had I become a priest as was the plan at one time, someone had dug up my old Comparative Mysticism seminar paper which used Stevie Wonder's liner notes from the Songs in the Key of Life album as a framework to compare and contrast the ineffable qualities of the letters of St. Francois de Salles and the main tenets of Mahayana Buddhism.

And I'm liking the idea of an ambivalence rally. We could hold signs which said "Don't much care, either way." And if you do have that Stevie CD, read over those liner notes again and dig all that about seeing into forever with sightless eyes or whatever it was. That's some pretty deep stuff right there.






Wa come to St. 'Blog's!

St. 'Blog's Parish continues to grow. Please welcome this relative newcomer to the fold: Shin Wa's: Wa On My Mind 'blog. It seems we share a common affinity for TMBG and Space Ghost, along with our Catholicism, so be sure to check it out. Wa On My Ming 'blog also may have just set a new record for longest subtitle in blogdom.

Banner Ad Update: we're well over $11 on the banner-ad click-a-thon! When we hit $30, I can collect my new softsynth! Or I can hold out for the bundle package. Again, it seems to be one click per person unless you're the sort of individual who cleans out their browser cookies a lot.








Friday, February 21, 2003

SEGA Music Post

Not much can be found on Hideki Naganuma who contributed many songs to both Sega games, Jet Grind Radio and Jet Set Radio: Future. Here is an interview, however. I wish he sold CDs somewhere.. I really like his stuff. Does anyone know much 2,520 yen is in American dollars?

That interview, though, did lead me to Wave-Master.com which seems to be the corporate site of the group, apparently inhabited by tiny elves, within Sega which produces much of their music. If you click on the "promotion" page and then click on the links which look like little "]]" brackets you'll get to hear some newish-sounding J-pop (accompanied by a bizzare video which appears to have been acted out by the characters from Shenmue and also a giant bear). AltaVista translates the bit about the video as:

Also " the polo Lee springtime of life " promotion movie is in the midst of releasing!
As for the person where the circuit is quick the coconut , slowly as for the person of the please from the coconut!"


So that wasn't much help.

Also it seems that this same group did the music for Space Channel 5, Part 2 which will be released on Playstation 2 and which features, as did the first Space Channel 5, a guest appearance by Michael Jackson.






Dick Clark's funky letter to the Greatest Generation (ca. 1967) from the 365 Days Project. Check out the cheesy patriotic ending Dick tacked on to this otherwise pro-Hippie nonsense.

On the other hand you could be listening to "His Kids" (from the same site). Check out the soulful jazz ruminations from this Christian rock choir (though that's being far too charitable), 'round 'bout 1971, including one tune which compares God to Santa Claus, a vending machine, a computer, a museum, and a silver lining (??). Yes, please: shoot the piano player.

Remember: "God doesn't see with mystic powers, chanting mumbo-jumbo words."






Justin Katz, our 'blogger in Rhode Island, has a bunch of links to video of the horrible nightclub fire there which killed at least 75 people, which seems like it was a pretty substantial percentage of the people who were in club at the time. I've said it before: fire is the natural enemy of mankind. You have to treat it with respect. Songs like "Disco Inferno" and "Burning Down the House" just are not appropriate anymore.

Also, another thing of which to take note: didn't it always seem like the only places which had horrible tragic nightclub fires were 2nd and 3rd-world countries like the Phillipines and India? I don't know what this means, if it's a sign or not. Just people shouldn't get so crowded into small places, I guess, especially not if you're going to be shooting off fireworkds. And if you look at the video, it's really not a large club... the ceiling is only about 12 feet high, it looks like.








Thursday, February 20, 2003

Shameless cute baby picture time!

Baby pictures


His latest thing is singing along to the VeggieTales themesong. Whenever I enter the room, though, he starts singing "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything." Heh. Soon, kid, just you wait! Your daddy has a job interview tomorrow morning!






It's hip to be a Squares.

Thanks for stopping by!

And if you're looking for a link of substance, check out what I borrowed from A Saintly Salmagundi: The Atlantic: "Kicking the Secularist Habit" by David Brooks. Brooks is always amusing and enlightening and probably one of the more efffective writers as far as reaching the secularist bobos is concerned. All writers and rhetoriticians could learn a thing or two from his approach.






Tantrum Ergo

I've checked all of the baby books and websites and nowhere does it say that at 13-months a toddler should be able to 1) close and open doors (using the doorknobs! I didn't even know 13-month-olds were supposed to be tall enough to reach the doorknobs!) and 2) press stop on a VCR, hit the eject button, take the tape out of the VCR, throw it aside, and then grab the VeggieTales tape off the shelf that he wants to watch.

The tantrum, ergo, is daddy's because at that particular moment he happened to be watching an episode of Andromeda he taped last weekend.

Anyway, here's another attempt at a Robot Love Remix: Dr. Apostrophe X: Robot Love (Nightmare Shopping Mall Remix) -- .mp3 format, and short (only about 2:40). Right-click to save as; you know the drill. The reason these remixes sound so.... ah, authentic to the club experience (ca. 1998) is because I'm not using an audio sequencing program to "compose" them. Rather, the doctor is "performing" them in real time on a Mixman DM2 which they're selling on clearance at Target. Imagine a USB device resembling two turntables with a bunch of buttons on it, and that should give you some idea. Dr.'X will be a mad DJ yet.

If, on the other hand, you want to hear music by Victor lams, check out my music page.






La Blogilia

One of the most beautiful voices of my generation, Steph of Au Revoir Borealis has a 'blog: "When I Drop Dead" 'blog. Incidentally Steph is also the sister of one of the original 'bloggers, Heather Anne of LemonYellow.com (if you weren't 'blog-conscious prior to 2001, you probably haven't heard of LemonYellow. And, as filmmaker Marty DiBergi says, "Don't bother looking for it, it's not there anymore." In its time, LemonYellow was a lot like Eve Tushnet's 'blog, only a lot more erudite. Update: you can find LemonYellow mirrored here).

Though I suppose there's nothing ironic about that, "When I Drop Dead" 'blog is worth checking out on its own merits. No comments section, that I could see, but witty and entertaining throughout.








Wednesday, February 19, 2003

A Saintly Salmagundi provides me with two superb stories for the day:

Michigan Daily: Race-conscious bake sale stirs controversy. The fact that this happened at all on the U of M campus, mere minutes from where I grew up, is reason to hope.

LATimes.com: An unwitting participant in 'Scare Tactics' sues, claiming real-life trauma. Heck, yeah! I'd sue, too! Of course I'd settle if they'd drop the criminal manslaughter charges against me which would be the result of me taking out as many of their alien "actors" as possible in my trauma-induced blind rage.






Got Ready?

Er, I mean, got readiness? Or something. Anyway, you can be ready or afraid or ready to be afraid, and the choice is yours. What I like about ready.gov is that it wasn't entirely paid for by the taxpayers. And you can find some great pictures there, too. So here is your Office of Homeland Security's Guide to Ready. Readiness. Whatever.


"The aliens will come in boombox-shaped spacecraft. There is no escape."

"That's okay. Sperm is overrated anyway."





"There is no 'bad time' for shadow puppets!"

"What to have for lunch? The biohazard sign, the pollywog, or the trout?"


Have fun coming up with some more captions of your own!






If you like music than this website is sure to become your new best friend for the year 2003.

365 Days Project

One obscure and unusual piece of music a day for 365 days!






Jeff Miller blows the lid off of so-called St. Blog's Parish.

I'm not implicated in Jeff's post in so many words, but since it's probably only a matter of time before this gets back to me, in my defense I can say only this: "rm -rf etc/*".






Yahoo! News: Chicago had been trying to close E2 nightclub

City officials had been trying for seven months to shut down the E2 nightclub, where 21 people died in a stampede Monday. But the club's owner had support from prominent black civic leaders who lobbied to keep the club open, an official said Tuesday.

It just shows to go you that no matter how hard you lobby, you can't change the laws of physics. Though, I guess it depends on Whom you lobby.






The new issue of SLANT is out! Yay! Aside from having the best cover yet, this issue seems to have reset the bar in terms of quality of writing... and that's after only a brief skim through. Check out the new "Whereabouts" section (prose writers read this and take note).






I've got two turntables and my mommy's home!

(If you saw the episode of Space Ghost where Beck was the featured guest, that would make sense). If Dr. Apostrophe X, my techno alter-ego, is going to make any kind of a name for his or herself as a DJ, then he or she is going to need to attempt The Remix. So here is Dr. Apostrophe X's first attempt at a remix. The results are less than encouraging, I'm sure you'll admit, but... well, we'll give it another try a bit later.

And what better song to remix (as far as getting copyright clearance is concerned) than Victor Lams' classic "Robot Love" of course!

Dr. Apostrophe X: Robot Love (Terrible Mix) .mp3 format. Right-click to save as.






Please, please, pray for Al Kresta.

Even though I've never met him in person, despite him working literally down the road from where I live, he is a bit of a local hero of mine. Read this post on HMS 'blog to learn about his condition. And then pray hard for him.








Tuesday, February 18, 2003

They Might Be Giants News

Head over to They Might Be Giants to download a remix of TMBG's "S-E-X-X-Y", it's under the news items for February 18th. Not a great remix, but a good one (the remixers, Kendal Mintcake, get points for using Carl Stalling's "Powerhouse" followed immediately by Vanilla Ice's "Ice, Ice, Baby". And any remix which includes Herbie Hancock's "RockIt" -- it comes in briefly at 2:14 -- deserves a permanent place in my mp3 collection). Since none of the samples have been cleared, apparently, it probably won't be up for long.






If you love Raymond (the show, not the guy, but the guy, too, I guess) check out Patricia Heaton Online which contains, among many other pages of Heatonelia, photo galleries. Seriously. And you don't even have to pay to view them! Seriously. They could charge $19.95 a month for access to this site. As Thayrone of the Bone Conduction Music Show might say, Lord have mercy on my sweet young mojo.

Okay, back to being serious now. Besides the pictures you can find articles, nearly everything, written about and by Heaton, too, so check that out. Link from Church of the masses 'blog.






Pay a visit to Mark Shea's 'blog and scroll down (the archives aren't working) to "The Ballad of Petey the Parrot: An Uplifting Poem for Children" (posted Monday, February 17, at 9:30am, if that helps). Brilliant. Oh what the heck, I think I can squeeze it into this post... it's that well done. Pity I don't know who wrote it.

The Ballad of Petey the Parrot: An Uplifting Poem for Children

Petey the Parrot served twenty-one months
Of a rap for indecent exposure.
His Bishop paroled him and give him a perch
On his pear-wood episcopal crosier.


He scolded the skeptics who labelled the bird
Unsuited for pastoral placement:
"I'm giving him charge of the CCD staff
And an office in Barney Frank's basement."


Chorus:
Hide the eggs, Gwendolyn, hide the eggs Tom!
Hide the eggs Kate and Kareem!
Petey the Sinister Young Adult Minister's
back on the pastoral team!
With an aawk! and a squawwk! twenty months and you walk,
back on the pastoral team!


Petey was therapized, pampered, prepared,
Pronounced cured by professional weasels
Who shortly thereafter were found to have died
From a sorrowful shortage of T-cells.


The cops nearly nabbed him at Cock-a-Two's Bar
But Petey was just enough quicker
To fly through the window, and home, where he found
He'd been named archdiocesan vicar.

Chorus:
Hide the eggs, Gwendolyn, hide the eggs Tom!
Hide the eggs Kate and Kareem!
Petey the Sinister Young Adult Minister's
back on the pastoral team!
With an aawk! and a squawwk! twenty months and you walk,
back on the pastoral team!


When the parents complained that his ministry style
Included non-standard relations,
The kindly old bishop asked Petey to screen
First his phone calls, and then his vocations.


It didn't take long for the entering class
To grow from near thirty to -- zero.
Now Petey's a bishop himself, don't you know,
and described as "The NCR's hero."


Chorus:
Hide the eggs, Gwendolyn, hide the eggs Tom!
Hide the eggs Kate and Kareem!
Petey the Sinister Young Adult Minister's
back on the pastoral team!
With an aawk! and a squawwk! twenty months and you walk,
back on the pastoral team!








Monday, February 17, 2003

Now you have NO reason not to own Army of Darkness on DVD. Preorder it, shipping included, from Best Buy for $20 and get a $10 digital coupon. Such a deal. And this is the "Boomstick Edition" which has scads of special features: more even, it seems, than the Special Edition DVD which was only available, it seems, from May until July, 2000 or something.

Thanks, Britain, for giving us all a reason to "hail to the king, baby!"

ps. For members of St. 'Blog's Parish who haven't seen it: Army of Darkness, despite the title, is a film with very strong Catholic themes. And there is also an actual Army of Darkness in it, too. Check it out.






Not For Sheep is an interesting 'blog, just started within the past two months (so if you're the type that won't read a 'blog after missing the first few months, better get in on this action quick). Self-described as "the musings of a Jesuit-trained philosopher" (but here at et cetera, we don't hold that against her) this 'blog seems to strike a good balance between journal and um... brain shutting down... must get caffiene... sorry.






ABCNews.com: Google Buys Web Publishing Tool Blogger

I guess when Google realized that nine out of ten results you get from any given Google search lead to pages created by 'Blogger the decision to buy Pyra Labs was pretty much a no-brainer.






Dylan was right.

You really don't need a weathervane to know which way the wind blows. Just take a gander over towards Farmington Hills, Michigan, and let Mercy High School show you: seems like they've reinstated the Granholm auction item after pulling it last week due to due protests. This according to a press-release I was just mailed. I'll link to the laudatory Detroit Free Press editorial, once that's written and published, which should be by tomorrow or Wednesday.

I guess now it may safely be said that the only thing which rolls over easier than a Mercy High School student on prom night is a Mercy High School administrator.






Eep! Too many people in too small a space, I guess.







Take the test, by Emily.



Rock on! Thanks Michelle, undisputed master of on-line quizzes, of And Then? for the linke.








Sunday, February 16, 2003

Not that I'm all callin' for a war, this piece from the American Prowler is delicious in that it points out the obvious but as-yet unstated fact that the very people who are burning Michael Novak for disagreeing with the US Catholic Bishops are the same ones who, historically, have had little respect for or agreement with what those same Bishops have had to say in the past (though I guess it really doesn't matter when the Bishops stop saying anything intelligible at all, which is pretty much the case as of late).

Not sure I buy the whole Hitler/Saddam comparison the author makes, at least not yet. I do think, though, that if nothing is done about Saddam and he somehow does go all nutsy and kill a bunch of people the same folks who are in 100% complete agreement with the Vatican now, that is to say anti-war, will be shrieking at the top of their lungs, "why didn't the Pope do more to stop Saddam and save the Kurds/Iranians/French/etc." People are idiots that way. Link from A Saintly Salmagundi 'blog.






He doesn't know the territory...

So we watched the updated version of The Music Man on The Wonderful World of Disney (with the cheesy, computer-animated Tinkerbell and the awful commercials featuring Michael Eisner) which starred, as ABC/Disney was billing him, "Inspector Gadget's Matthew Broderick!" Not "WarGames' Matthew Broderick" or "The Producers' Matthew Broderick". No. They had to tie him to the most embarassing project he's ever done (the movie contained a huge endorsement for Skittles bite-sized candy, for crying out loud). So I watched the entire three hours (and it was all very well done with really good performances from everyone, including the latest iteration of Disney's Freckled Little Boy), and kept expecting helicopter blades to come rocketing (pardon the mixed metaphor there) out of Professor Harry Hill's hat.

Okay, I'm joking, but the show was actually very good. About as good as musicals can be these days (and since I haven't seen Moulin Rouge, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, nor Chicago about all I have to base my assessment on is a half-dozen Veggie Tales videos and the last two weeks' worth of The Wiggles). Anyway, all the characterizations were spot on, the music sounded good, and the dance routines were not altogether stale. And Matthew Broderick was as charismatic as ever (even if his jacket didn't inflate and send him rocketing all about River City: "With a capital T and that rhymes with G which stands for Go, Go, Gadget Dance Number!").

Then we watched Dead Zone and they're actually making the evil Senatorial candidate to be more like Clinton than like Bush so that's cool. Major Dad played the incumbent who resigned at the end of the episode and gave a great speech about how we should treasure guilt because sometimes it's the only thing that awakens our sense of morality. But... well, as you might expect the episode was practically crawling with Canadians. One of the characters (Stillson's henchman, if you must know) actually said "aboot" twice in two consecutive sentences. Since it was right at the beginning of the episode it took me nearly the remaining fifty minutes to put myself back in the mindset that the show takes place in Maine, not Nova Scotia. Once I could do that, though, the last few minutes were pretty good.






Barbara Nicolosi of ChurchOfTheMasses 'blog (to avoid any undue confusion, please be certain to mentally put the space before the 'm' and not after it when typing out that URL in the future) has some things to say about "this year's Academy Award gayla". Go down a few entires and read some encouraging words about Gods and Generals, too. She's encouraging everyone to see that movie on opening weekend.






Dark Link is a punk. I hate him.






I've been BAMBOOZLED!

Hoodwinked! Uh, blindsided! And more! Okay, so Andrew Sullivan never actually reads my 'blog and doesn't have an opinion on the puppet one way or another. I thought I had put my foot in my mouth by saying that I never read his 'blog (which I don't, unless I'm looking on it for the post where he says the raccoon is gay) and then having him read my 'blog. Well, since it turns out he doesn't read this 'blog, I didn't put my foot in my mouth on that occasion.

So, to recap: Andrew Sullivan and I have some sort of mutual and unstated understanding whereupon we don't read each other's 'blog.

Sheesh. If you can't trust a angry, green mantis anymore, whom can you trust? Seriously, no hard feelings. Hey, Zorak! Did you hear that Eve Tushnet reads your 'blog, like, all the time? (Hee hee hee hee hee).

That said, we're moving on to the Water Temple next. Something tells me that the Link and Ruto wedding may be off....






The Bourne Identity

If you haven't seen The Bourne Identity yet you really should check it out. It's not going to blow anyone away with surprising plot turns (although the story is well-constructed) but it looks and sounds great. They did a really great job the way they introduce the special guys who are supposed to do-in Matt Damon's character (I was banging my head against the wall for a good hour before I recoginized "The Professor" as Clive Owens, who plays "The Driver" in all of the made-for-BMW BMW Films) and the characterizations are very good throughout (as is the car-chase in Paris... Ahhh, Paris. Gare du Nord never looked so clean -- at least not when I was there). That little Mini would've really stolen the show had it not been for Franka Potente (her Run, Lola, Run from 1998 is still one of my favorite movies of all time, though Twyker's follow-up, The Princess and the Warrior was a bit of a disappointment). It looks like she's been in about four or five movies since The Bourne Identity so I had better start looking some of those up though most of them are probably in German and suck.

Anyway, I look forward to seeing the rest of The Bourne Identity. Oh, I sat through the entire movie (and the mesmerizing credits sequence) all right. What I missed was the 40% of the picture or so that was cut off because all Blockbuster had was the stupid Full-Screen Pan-and-Scan edition. Seriously: who would buy a DVD player, equip themselves with a DTS-compatible digital receiver (the full-screen The Bourne Identity came with DTS sound, if you can believe it) and then watch a stupid Full-Screen movie instead of the Wide-Screen version? Still, I guess a Full-Screen presentation means a bigger Franka in the long run....

Oh, and another good thing about The Bourne Identity? The hero never once sits down at a computer and gets some information out of it that he could not possibly ever have gotten (even if he had known that the password for his boss' account was the name of his son, or something idiotic like that).








Saturday, February 15, 2003

While I mourn the loss ('Blogger ate it!) of my insightful post on the most recent episode of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer check out this story from Slate which attempts to solve the age-old quesiton of why The Simpsons started to suck (which most folks agree was in 1997, right around the time I stopped watching it).






No Watermelons Allowed 'blog where you'll find a lot of stuff you won't find on any other 'blog. Very nicely compiled.

Oh, and it turns out that while I don't read Andrew Sullivan he, reportedly, reads me from time to time. So, welcome, Andrew Sullivan. (Also) reportedly, Andrew Sullivan also thinks that Randy Racooney (one 'c'), featured in one 'plog so far, is gay (though I personally can't find this statement anywhere in his archives). That the puppet is gay is clearly not the case, however, as can be seen by Randy's demonstrated commitment to the survival and preservation of his species. Until he is eaten by our dog. Whoops! Was that a spoiler?

I hope that clears up any confusion. Oh! And if you haven't already, please click on that banner up there. I'm almost up to $8! When I hit $30, I get a free softsynth! I think you're only allowed to click it once, though, unless you toss your cookies before clicking it again.






Oddball music time!

First RC passes along this outstanding link to the News Music Search Archive. Pick your market (Detroit, MI, for us, natch) and then let the waves of nostalgia flow as you listen to the themes which kicked off the news throughout the years, arranged by television station and then period during which those themes were used. Neat!

My friend Kevin then passes along this MIDI arrangement of "Carol Of The Bells" arranged as what appears to be a Japanese console RPG Battle Theme. If you, like I, spent a combined total of 100 hours playing the "Phantasy Star" games on your Sega or 45 hours playing "Final Fantsy VII" on your Playstation (and I never once figured out how to raise a chocobo) you will dig this. If, on the other hand, you had a life in the 1990s, well, maybe not so much with the digging.

And of course not to be left out, I feel I must pull something out of my, er, archives and post it here. Here is a Victor rarity (unavailable in any form until this very moment!) from way back in 1998 (for you young'uns, that was about five years ago). This was primarily an exercise in utilizing the formant-shifting effects on the Roland VS-880EX multitrack recorder (the effects which make your voice sound all funny like that). All the parts were recorded directly to the VS. It's a little ponderous, but what the heck:

Victor Lams: "Barry White vs. The Chipmunk"

Right-click to save as.








Friday, February 14, 2003

Detroit Free Press Promotes Hate-Speech By Marginalizing, Branding "Intolerant" Anyone With Principles.

Seriously, if the Free Press wants to specialize in inflammitory and hateful headlines for their hateful and inflammitory Op/Ed pieces the least they could do is put some effort into it.

And what's up with the whole "we wouldn't take this sort of crap from the Muslims (aka. terrorists -- wink, wink), would we?" line of reasoning in that editorial? If I were a follower of Islam I would be thoroughly outraged by this piece of bigoted Dickery.






Saint Valentine's day kind of snuck up on me this year. In honor of the day, here is an Internet oldie-but-goodie:

ACME Heart Maker: Make your own candy valentine!

Candy Heart


Results not typical, your mileage may vary. Good luck getting it to work today (the server is pretty overloaded -- keep hitting that back button and resubmitting, though, and it will go through) and have fun! NOTE: view the "see recent hearts made by other folks" page at your own risk -- unlike the Noggin Doodle page, these are not screened. Some of the more printable and humorous heart messages when I last checked: "LOVE UNIX", "SORE BABY", and "WHIP ME".






D-O-O-D-L-E-!

By now you must know that I am forced to endure the "Noggin" television network, which shows childrens' programming by Nick Jr., Sesame Workshop, and a bunch of British and Canadian studios. Well, every so often their little logo (a kind of blue face usually inside a green square thing) will show doodles that viewers have done over on the Noggin website (and the little blue face will say things like "Doodle-rific!" or "Doodle-iscious!" or "Doodle-f'in-incredible!"). So of course I had to do my own doodle because most of the ones the kids were submitting and getting on the air were of snowmen and Grover and stuff like that.

So I went to Noggin.com, selected Doodle Pad, downloaded Macromedia Shockwave v8.0, restarted my PC, and I was ready to doodle:

Doodle-rific!

Nogzilla!


So I was all excited about the prospect of getting my doodle showed on TV and I'd be able to point at the screen and say to 'Xander, "Look at what Daddy drew!" but it turns out that before you can even view the drawing in your child's portfolio on the website, the Noggin staff has to "approve" it. And then if you want it shown on TV you have to give them your email address so they can send you the permission form. Arg. Oh well. Instead, my doodle is posted here for all to enjoy.








Thursday, February 13, 2003

America Gripped by Possum Lodge Mania!

I guess has been because of my semi-cloistered unemployed existence that I was largely unaware that Terror Fever had been sweeping our nation and that people had been buying duct tape (the handyman's secret weapon) and other rations in order to seal themselves up into their homes -- as if that was even possible.

Good grief.

I will tell you one thing, though. With gas prices being what they (reportedly) are, I'm glad I don't need to commute anywhere. And heck, not having to worry about driving on Michigan's freeways in February? You can't put a price on that.






(In best Kermit the Frog voice) Yaaaaaay!

Barbara Nicolosi finally has a 'blog! And it's called "Church of the Masses" which, refers to, anyone? anyone? Right. The cinema. I met Barbara Nicolosi, who heads up the Act One Program (for some reason that site's not working right at the moment, tho') for aspiring Christian screenwriters, at the Catholic Writers Festival in Stuebenville, Ohio, this past September (I gave her a ride up the hill, she gave me a copy of her book.. what a deal!) and she mentioned that she was an avid reader of Eve Tushnet's 'blog and expressed some interest in setting one up at the time. I'm glad that day has finally come (actually it came about a week ago) and that her 'blog has... COMMENTS! Woohoo. Oh yeah, I think I also promised her a screenplay or something, too... erm... I'm a little behind on that, I'm afraid.

I especially enjoyed her recent post on awards shows. We folks in "flyover" definitely get off easy.

Anyway, in order to spread the word (thanks Kat!), I'm coming up with some publicity quotes which could be used to publicize her 'blog -- you know like the big Hollywood movie studios use on their commercials and all what-not. Wait -- don't applaud yet, we need to see if any of these turn out any good or not.

"A love letter to anyone who appreciates film!"
"Exciting, exhilarating, with a comments section that will have you on the edge of your seat!"
"Sure to become a St. 'Blog's classic!"
"The 'must-read' 'blog of the summer!"
"We don't have to take Mark Shea's word for it anymore!"

Hmmm.... Those weren't even funny. Clearly I've spent far, far too much time these past weeks waching Oobi on Noggin. I can't believe someone actually gets paid to put eyes on their hands and dig around in the dirt or pet a dog. What a crock.

G4TV's "Portal" on the other hand is nothing short of genius.






WorldAnthem.org

Now, if you're like most people you're probably wondering "Hmmm, I wonder what it would sound like if, in the interest of world peace, a computer created a composite composition from 193 different national anthems?"

Well wonder no more! Check out the lyric and audio sample here. And while the website doesn't say so, it almost looks like the lyric as well as the music was created by some cut-and-paste algorhythm, containing such incomprehensible and seemingly Lucas-inspired gems as: "May we sing loud, To fire our hopes and joys, And let us now, Believe in trust, Eternally for all." No better or seemingly less-randomly-generated are the reasons for why the World Anthem was wrought into existence (which may be found on the suitably titled "why?" page): "In this troubled time, the world is stunned, grief-stricken and searching for answers. Most people believe the world has changed forever. Communication among nations and citizens of the world is taking place at unprecedented levels." Seriously, that almost reads like the introduction from a poorly-translated Japanese console RPG.

As for the music itself... it sounds like the best the "amazing computer-based Musical Intelligence Software System" (hit... or MISS?) could come up with is a cheap imitation of all of those horrible, horrible Menken / Ashman / Rice songs from the horrible, horrible Disney-animated musicals from the early 1990s.

And why is the World Anthem in english, anyway? Shouldn't it be in Esperanto?

And somehow, tragically, I missed the big Solstice Singout this past December. Pity. I wonder how many virgins they sacrificed on the altar of World Peace during that big blowout.






Okay, here's a pet peeve of mine. Well, it's not so much a pet peeve as it is an observation. Have you noticed how many parts in American television today are being played by Canadians? I mean, these are parts, written for Americans, which are being played by folks who have made no effort to cover up their Canadian-ness. This is especially noticeable on the low-budget USA Network shows such as Monk and Dead Zone (last week's Dead Zone, by the way, was an outstanding example of ... okay, hold on. It's trash day and it's 1am and I forgot to take out the trash. I'll get back to this later... okay back... I forget what the name of the movement is which makes a point to utilize the architecture of a given situation, almost turning the setting into a character itself. This was done very well in the first 20 minutes of "Panic Room" and it was done very well in this episode of Dead Zone, with the Plaza being the recurring location throughout the episode and the place where John must save the life of one of the five or so of his blood donors. The ending of that episode was nice too, which had psychic John not saving the life of the person he knew would die, but rather the inadvertant actions of all of the other people's whose lives he'd touched saving the life of that character in the end. Contrast that with the upcoming episode of Dead Zone which seems to be living out the Canadian fantasy that George W. Bush is the next Hitler who will bring about the Apocalypse and must therefore be Stopped at Any Cost).

Anyway, the point is that Dead Zone, like Monk and many other shows, are set in America (Dead Zone in Maine, Monk in San Francisco) and yet both shows, and many others, are obviously filmed in Vancouver (grey skies, forests of evergreens in the background, endless rain). So much for credibility! I need more than one or two establishing shots of the Golden Gate Bridge and then the words "San Francisco Chronicle" superimposed by computer over the sign for the Vancouver, BC, Times Picyune. And don't get me started on the actors!! They're all Canadians! I'm sorry, but if you feature a homeless person, an AMERICAN homeless person, in a scene then they had better not talk like Red Green and ask for money so they can buy some poutine, okay? Granted, many years of work with a good dialogue coach can fix it so you don't end every sentence with "eh?" but there is a Candian accent which one can never fully get rid of... there's just something "aboot" it. I'm "soory", there just is. And even if the accent isn't even all that noticeable (to most people!) I can tell. It's the way the actors look. They're all so pale and pasty-faced. And, again, the credibility of the production takes a big hit.

Of course since I am so observant, I like to make sure everyone is aware that what they are watching is a farce. For example, that street-hardened gang-banger with impeccable manners who just asked for some donairs? He's a Canadian. The closest thing that actor has ever come to the street is waiting in line for Kids In The Hall tickets. I make sure to point this out to everyone within ear shot. This of course drives my spouse nuts, but I feel I have a message to get out. The realism and believability of our entertainments depends upon it.






Oh, alright. So I didn't get this job. Next time for sure!








Wednesday, February 12, 2003

How cool am I? I don't even read Andrew Sullivan. I don't even know what his URL is. Heck, I probably ain't even spelling his name right.






Via Zorak:

ProfQuotes.com

Loads of fun. Since Hillsdale College was under-represented, I added a couple of my favorite quotes.






Discover Magazine: Music of the Swarms

As we watch the shapes on the screen, Blackwell plays a series of chords on a music keyboard at his side. With each chord change, the shapes swoop together toward a new spot on the screen, like a flock of birds suddenly spotting a food source. It's a delightful effect, like a musical score in which all the notes have come alive and started dancing across the sheet music. "You could really lose a whole day just playing with this," I say. Blackwell laughs. "More like a whole year," he says.

And if YOU would like to lose a whole day playing with something like this, check out the demo version of Anarchy's Swarm Synth. Though in that case the swarm seems to be acting as controllers for the oscillators rather than as generating notes and creating compositions. I really don't know how to view the whole computer-generated algorhythmic composing rage. On the one hand it's really a very cool concept and on the other hand why can't people just write good music, instead of hoping a computer comes up with something vaguely passable?








Tuesday, February 11, 2003

You may have noticed that I'm not much keeping up on the current events lately. I wish I could say where my lack of motivation is coming from. I haven't even read another 'blog (well, aside from A Saintly Salmagundi) in a few days. Nothing seems to matter to me much aside from getting a job. What I thought could be this great, long vacation is getting old quickly. I want to be productive and have a future again.

Failing that, of course, I'll gladly spend my days with my son (who, I am convinced, is one of the happiest people on the planet). My only wish is that there were more children around here. It should strike me as no surprise that no matter what I think it is that will make me happy, posessions, career, or even making music, nothing comes close to comparing with making that boy giggle. If you don't have kids you're really missing out... and if you don't have several kids, well, I feel like we're missing out.






Well, I had the interview today and considering that it was my first interview in nearly five years, I think it went pretty well (meaning: I didn't vomit or wet myself or start cackling maniacally from nervousness -- but just barely). I just went and was myself. If they want me, they'll hire me... not much more I can expect beyond that. :) I should hear back today or tomorrow either way, however, which is nice.

Besides, if they don't want me, it sounds like Hyrule still needs my help. Our pre-order bonus disc (we pre-ordered Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker a while back) arrived yesterday which contains two different flavors of Ocarina of Time (regular and Master's Quest). The graphics have been updated... slightly. The original N64 graphics are running in hi-res mode on the GameCube which means that all of the characters, which were made up of flat-shaded polygons look great but all the original textures and pre-rendered backgrounds (like in the huts in Kokiri village and the Hyrule Castle Market) look a little dated. Well, okay: they look a lot dated (the game is five-years old!) but next to the slightly higher-res characters it looks a little funky. The game still rocks, though. We'll be collecting Skultula tokens well into the night, I am sure.








Monday, February 10, 2003

It's here!

I guess it shipped early and it just arrived: the Legend of Zelda pre-order bonus disc. Very cool. I haven't taken it out of the shrinkwrap yet because Jackie isn't here and I know that she's been looking forward to this even more than I have.

And, I don't want to jinx it, but I have a job interview tomorrow morning at 10am. Prayers are always appreciated -- not so much that I will get the job, but that I don't totally freak out... I'm pretty nervous. :)






I decided to enter a song in those monthly contest they have over at kvr-vst.com where various other computer music heads come up with a 45-60 second song to meet some topic for that month. This month's contest was to come up with the quintessential '80s song. So I got down and came up with a Midnight Star/Zapp/Axel F/et al.-inspired homage to an obscure flick from 1986: Wes Craven's "Deadly Friend" about a guy who falls in love with a girl who's beaten to death, he brings her back to life, she starts killing people, and then, finally as a last ditch effort -- if I remember correctly -- he puts her into the body of the nerdy kid's robot (look it up on imdb.com if this movie didn't absolutely traumatize you when you were growing up).

Victor Lams -- "Deadly Friend" mp3 format, .9MB

Tech notes: I used Muzys' free sequencer to get the TR-808 parts right (from Sonic Synth... gotta have that awful, awful 808 cowbell) and the bass parts down (thank you Dash Synthesis' daHornet). Everything else was added in Sonar 2.2. The synth lines and comps are from Sonic Synth as well. The Vocoder part (gotta have those vocoder parts!) are courtesy of Akai's Vocoder plugin (demo version) and the vocals are all me, baby!








Saturday, February 08, 2003

I took that "Which Poetry Form Are You" quiz and, as I suspected, I am the limerick. The sample limerick they gave on the little image you're supposed to post on your site, however, was so poor and ametrical that I really can't post it here.

And, no. If it had been about the man from Nantucket, you can bet I would've posted it.






HE'S BACK!!!

No, not Shinobi the ninja, Fr. Bryce, the Saintly Salmagundi! He's back after his six-month exclusive tour of Europe, Scandinavia, and the sub continent. Please welcome him back by making his 'blog what it deserves to be: the most visited 'blog in the St. Blog's ring.

And since it's his first post back (technically second) I'm not going to poach Fr. Bryce's link to RapSnacks: The Snacks With the Rappers on Them (though I'm not sure if you're supposed to eat the snacks with the rappers still on them... like Botan Rice Candy). Make sure you watch the animated flash intro. Maybe in the future we'll see Eminem featured on a bag (mmmm! Vitrolic Bile Snacks!) and then that'll be the "snack with the plain white rapper".






If you haven't checked it out before, be sure to check out Tunes by Tancos: 1000 years of Rock n' Roll.

His updated arrangements of ye olde tunes sound great -- very Jazz From Hell, in a way. And he uses a lot of the same equipment that I use (Sonic Synth, Crystal, et al). Check out the synth guitar work on "Morrison's Jig". And also be sure to check out the various meditations on the wholetone scale (again, Zappa would've approved). Very nicely done. I may have to drop the $60 once I'm employed again and pick up SR's Guitar Collection. He also has a nice resource of links to various VSTi softsynth sites. I wish I had a page like this.






Most folks know how pleased I've been with my Sprint PCS service and yesterday they did it again: I'd been having problems with the LCD on my Kyocera phone I purchased (well, I got it for free because, as I'd been a PCS customer for three years up until that point, I'd accrued $150 in equipment credit... if you've been a PCS customer for a while and want a new phone -- my previous one happened to be broken -- give them a call and ask to speak to the cancellations department. Then ask about equipment credit. Anyway...) over a year ago and I'd already taken it in and they'd fixed it (in about three minutes) by realigning the glass plates of the display. Well, that lasted about three weeks so I took it back in and they gave me a brand new phone, free for nothing. They even transferred over all my saved numbers. Can't beat that.






Rolling Stones Give Free Concert -- No One Killed

This really is one of the funniest wire stories in a long time. Thanks RC (and Zorak!) for the link!








Friday, February 07, 2003

Not really sure how this song today came to turn out like it did: "Picado por la Avispa" (mp3 format, .9MB -- loosely translated it means "stung by the wasp"... I hope). It wound up sounding like a cross between Super Mario Brothers and the worst '60s synthesizer record ever made. Somehow I wound up channeling Esquivel and Jan Hammer and I really didn't want to.

I was trying to use the gritty, retro-sounding VSTi provided by DashSynthesis... the ones which emulate the old Wasp synthesizer and the old combo organs. Maybe I'll give them another try some other time. Anyway, the big lesson I learned is that the folks who were doing all those synthesizer and electronic music records in the '60s really had to know what they were doing because on their own (and in the wrong hands) those old synths and those old console organs really sounded terrible.

That said, this latest tune is starting to grow on me... but then, I love all my musical mutant offspring.






This is puzzling. I had thought that the "free" bonus disc (you know, the one with not one but TWO enhanced versions of "Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time" -- Jackie and I played that game for a while, she collecting rupees and I fighting bosses, but we wound up putting it on the shelf before it was completed because the evil wizard Ganondorf really freaked me out at the time and I couldn't muster up the courage to take him on at the peak of Death Mountain... I mean, he came at you OUT OF PICTURES which were hanging ON THE WALL. And that's just creepy) one gets for pre-ordering "The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker" for the GameCube (we pre-ordered it back when I had a job, so it's cool. I'm not just some welfare recipient ordering Nintendo games, here) wouldn't ship until the end of the month, and yet EBWorld says it's just been shipped. The bonus disc, I mean.

Woo-hoo! James Preece (what's with that URL, anyway? Is "~py00jfp" supposed to be British for "it's just about time for Paraguay to disappear for naught ought Jiffy-Pop" or something? ... Ha! I slay me! Erm...), eat your heart out!






COOL SITE OF THE DAY

Kevin writes in: "I think we all suspected this, but here's proof (of sorts)."

ScienceHobbyist: Traffic Waves -- Physics for Bored Commuters

I'll need to review this a bit more tomorrow but at first blush, this seems to hold with my own experience of those "phantom" traffic jams we all come across (particularly if we commute at all on any of the freeways around Metro Detroit).

You know what? Many years ago, actually, I went to my dad and said something like "Hey, Dad! I think I've found some sort of waveform patterns to illustrate why traffic gets backed up and why drivers around here behave the way they do." He thought a moment and replied: "No," he said "I think it can be explained as a mixture of greed and cowardice."








Thursday, February 06, 2003

Welcome back, Pennsylvania .






This story is funny for two reasons.

1) It contains a factual use of the phrase "[Senator] Boxer, toting a shoulder-fired missile launcher...." and

2) It means that now it can't possibly be long before we hear "Hel-lo, this is your Captain speaking. At this time we've climbed to our cruising altitude of about 30,000 feet and have deployed our eeee-lectronic countermeasures. Those of you sitting on the left side of the plane will see our heat flares diii-verting the course of that heat-seeking shoulder-launched missle while those on the right side of the plane will get a great view of the chaff as it spirals and trails off behind us, taking care of any radar-guided bogeys out there. The flight attendants will be coming down the aisle with the drink carts. We know you have a choice when you fly so please enjoy the rest of your flight."






Joseph Pearce's talk tonight was awesome. It was really the first time I'd heard him talk about anything other than J.R.R. Tolkien (well, I guess I have heard him on Al Kresta talking about any number of Literary Converts, now that I think about it). Anyway his talk to the Catholic Men's Movement (the last time I went to the group's meeting it was about 8 months ago -- work used to conflict with it -- and in that short period of time the group has nearly doubled in size and the median age seems to have dropped by about 20 years... I guess if you were a single woman and wanted to meet a young, devout, nice Catholic single guy you'd find one there, only since it's a Men's meeting, you probably couldn't go in... I honestly don't know how those things work) was about growing up a fascist National Front hooligan in London (not Ontario). Eventually through a series of riots and imprisonments, from London to Derry and back, he came to read Chesterton and Belloc's distributist theories of economics (which I think I would totally dig given my present economic situation) and that eventually led him into the Catholic faith.

Also, this was the second time (the first time was in Steubenville) that someone recognized me from my 'blog (I mean, I wear nametags at these things, too). Hi, Del!






Happier news: Joseph Pearce will be the speaker at the Catholic Men's Night - this evening. So I better get a move on if I don't want to miss Mass. I'll have a full report when I get back!






Looking for work? Check out Dan's Get That Job! 'blog. I was considering doing something like this, linking to all the great resources I come across, but it looks like Dan's already beat me to it. And besides, if you are currently employed there's really nothing more depressing than reading about people who are out of work. We're almost like cancer patients in that regard. I've learned, quickly over the past few weeks, never to take my job for granted (I think that was one of the Big Life Lessons I'm Supposed To Learn Through All This). I don't think I'm taking my health for granted, so hopefully that's not the next thing to go.






I am not selling out.

Seriously. If you click on that ad up there I get $0.14 which I can use to spend on a DashSynthesis virtual instrument (which I use to make more music on my computer :). It doesn't appear to be a scam and clicking on the banner just takes you to a product info page you can close quickly. It's free for you and makes making music cheaper for me. Act now and maybe I'll name my next child, er, song after you!








Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Uhhhh.... Note to CBS News: "KISS" doesn't stand for "Keep It Short, Sailor". It's "Keep It Simple, Stupid". Next thing you know they'll be trying to tell us that FUBAR stands for "Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition" or that AMF-YOYO stands for "Adios, My Friend, You're On Your Own".

That aside, I missed Powell's pitch this morning. I did hear Al Kresta and Ron Rychak (who is da man) discussing it today. I didn't know that Dubya was sending Michael Novak to the Vatican this week to try and make the case that the attack on Iraq would meet the criteria of a Just and "Preventative" War. The fact that Dubya would even bother to do this (especially since it's not, as some may say, calculated to win the Catholic vote in '04 -- there are probably only five Catholics in the country who even care if the US bothers to makes the just war case to the Pope or not) says a lot about how far he's willing to go to ensure that he has the blessing of the world-at-large (and particularly its moral leaders) before he sends in the F-117s and B-2s. The Pope, by the way, will be meeting with like the prime minister of Iraq next week, hopefully to plead for some peaceful resolution to this... that seems increasingly unlikely, though. But hey -- miracles have been known to happen.






In the past week my novel (in Word format) has been accessed about 20 times. That's cool. If you're actually reading the beast, please let me know if you have any feedback on it. It's something I wrote for NaNoWriMo '01 and it's kind of, um, Walker Percy meets ... some other kind of writer who is young and interested a bit in science fiction. The actual story structure was markedly improved for the treatment I was doing of it for the screenplay I intended to write (and may still write someday). But yeah... novel. Woo!






Thanks, Kat! You're a pip :)






The Joy of Not Working, Day 1

Yes... day 1. Thanks to an old friend from elementary school (met at a State-sponsored "Pink-Slip Party" at a local brewpub which, unfortunately, came up a little short on the promised representation by employers looking for employees) I'm beginning to appreciate the need for a routine when one is unemployed and hunting for a job -- you know, some reason to get out of bed in the morning (though with a toddler this generally hasn't been a problem). Many folks in this position have a list of about a dozen or 20 job sites which they review daily. I had only been checking one or two but now thanks to this same friend I have a comprehensive list to sort through. Anyway, with all of these sites to go through (as well as the various steps required to start collecting unemployment benefits and the responsibilties of having a house and a family) it's turning out that I'm quite a bit more busy unemployed than I was employed.

I never was really pro-welfare, you know, paying folks for not-working... until I came to work for WorldCom. I'm beginning to appreciate that it's not my fault that I'm unemployed. I'm not even all that angry about what happened... I'm just coming to some realizations: A few executives performed some criminal acts and pulled off the largest case of corporate fraud in the history of the world ($10 billion and counting). It's impossible for anyone to make good business decisions (such as whether or not one has the capital to purchase the company to which my group belonged before we were bought by WorldCom) when you have bad information. Justice in this case demands, for the sake of every taxpayer who's paying into my unemployment benefits (not to mention for everyone who lost their shirts when WorldCom's stock tanked), that the criminals responsible go to jail. Of course it's very unlikely that any of them ever will (not to sound like cynic, but the folks responsible are very, very rich). This all may be obvious already to everyone else out there, but I'm just starting to make these connections...






If you read this story as limiting secret fillings instead of filings, it gets a lot more intersting. There are a bunch of Lean Pocket fillings I'm still not sure about....








Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Somehwat ironically I'm busier (and less bloggier) unemployed than I was employed... granted most of this involves going to going-away parties or networking parties at the bar, or picking up a new suit for interviews, or reviewing jobs online but there is still much to do. At least initially.






Vodka

Clear and good
Best case scenario: tastes like nothing
Like water, only better.






Not a bad set of Space Shuttle Q&A from MSNBC.com.








Monday, February 03, 2003

In case you're wondering. In order to get welfare in Michigan nowadays you need to 1) put your resume on the Michigan Works website online 2) wait a few days and then go to a Michigan Works office and have them stamp your unemployment application (which you would need to get from the unemployment office if you didn't have one already) which says that, yes, you put your resume online. 3) Once you have your stamped application you mail it in to the state and then 4) I guess, wait for the money to start showing up in a few weeks.






EWTN News: VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES: THE NEW GENERATION

This story, of course, could just have easily been written 10 or even 20 years ago. Games are getting more realistic and more brutal, however, thanks only in part to advances in graphics and storage medium.






Justin Katz' "Just Thinking" this week is about the Columbia disaster. Others have noted, Mayize and Mark Shea most notably, to my mind, that this latest shuttle disaster almost seems like less of a disaster, somehow, when compared to the Challenger disaster 17-years-ago. I remember being in our sixth-grade class when we got the news and the sole TV in the school (this was 1986, remember) was moved into the auditorium so the teachers could watch the news... And since the school was in green Ann Arbor, some silly girl made some comment about "all the poor animals" on the space shuttle and I was so angered at that comment that I remember it to this day.

Anyway, the Columbia is no less of a tragedy and yet notice peoples' reactions to it in this post 9-11 America... 17 years ago something blowing up in our country was almost unthinkable. And now? A plane with seven astronauts disintegrates and the biggest shock for many of us, I think, is that the human remains weren't completely pulverized or vaprotized in this disaster as those of the thousands of World Trade Center victims were.

It's an unthinkable, unspeakable tragedy... but how desensitized to it have we become? And I don't, personally, think there's any greater, cosmic, apocalyptic significance to this disaster (as some are beginning to think). Anything trying to get through our atmosphere is subject to extreme friction and heat... in a respect it's amazing that we've been doing this for so long with so few accidents.






Since we're all playin the name game, here at our last day of work, please check out the MP3.com: Rock Star Name Generator to get your Alternative, Blues, Hip-Hop, Classical, etc. names.






What's YOUR hobbit name?

Mine is "Falco Boffin of Whitfurrows".

And my elf name is Mahtan Mithrandir.






For the first time in over four-and-a-half years I really do not want to go to work today.

I think that's because today I have to bring a big empty box with me.

And have HR teach me all about welfare.






McGonagall Online: "widely hailed as the writer of the worst poetry in the English language".

Link via Mark Shea. Check out some of the poems on that site. They're wonderful.

The Battle of Waterloo (excerpt)

"Then, panic-struck, the French were forced to yield,
And Napoleon turned his charger's head, and fled from the field,
With his heart full of woe, no doubt
Exclaiming, "Oh, Heaven! my noble army has met with a total rout!" "








Sunday, February 02, 2003

Mostly for the benefit of James Preece (who manages a very enjoyable 'blog -- you'd like him, Mayize... he's British ;) here.... yes, I beat Metroid: Fusion and hooked it up to Metroid: Prime (still in my opinion one of the best games ever). My excitement was palpable as I unlocked the original Metroid for NES. Here, at long last, was what had been missing from my Nintendo-deprived childhood (okay, so I did have a C-64 and a Sega Master System): Metroid. How often had I heard my friends at school go on endlessly about this game, about fighting the metroids, about ridding the planet Zebes of every trace of the evil Space Pirates? I had been waiting for over a dozen years, and I was ready.

So I unlocked it and started playing and.. yep... it's an original NES game all right. We actually used to play these? And for weeks on end? At least the "Justin Bailey" code still works (since I never owned the game since it is about 13 years old, I'm impressed -- or rather sickened -- that I remembered the secret code) and you can start the game with full missles and health (and minus Samus' power suit... rrrowr!). Maybe, if I can find it cheap (like $5 cheap), I'll pick up Super Metroid used for the SNES and dig our Super Nintendo up out of the crawlspace.

After all, it looks as though I'm going to have some time on my hands.






My Smurf name is... Waspinator Smurf.

I don't think there actually ever was a Waspinator Smurf, so I must be the first one. This must be in honor of my heroic triumphs against all wasps which are legend (legend I tell you!) on this 'blog.

Thanks Mayize, for the link!






New Music Sunday

Well, kinda. It's more of a equipment test I just threw together (mainly to see if I could make a trumpet part more realistic by using CC7 data -- since SampleTank apparently doesn't use CC11... arrrr). But those desperate for new music will want to check out the tune I did in honor of the dinner Jackie's been cooking: Mandarin Stir-Fry.

Check out some soulful Meanderin' Orange in .mp3 format, about 1.4MB.

Look out, Freddie Hubbard!






Open Labs: OpenSynth eKo

Ha ha ha ha ha. This is so absolutely nutty you have to love it! It's a keyboard, it's a PC, it's a keyboard, it's a PC -- wait! It's both! Props to Open Labs for creating the first keyboard instrument that comes with your choice of Windows XP or Linux (along with its own ethernet adapter, UPS, and room for an optional 500GB harddrive).






Ow.

I had the absolute worst migraine (at least I hope it was just a migraine) last night... probably all those hours spent squinting at a GameBoy Advance screen trying to complete Metroid: Fusion (if you complete Fusion you can hook your GBA up to your GameCube and unlock the original NES version of Metroid within Metroid: Prime) so I can give it back to my coworker on Monday -- before we all cease to be coworkers. And watching FoxNews for six-hours straight probably didn't help matters any, either.

Whatever the cause, around 8pm I was in bed curled up in a ball because it felt like someone had put a railroad spike down next to my right eye and then violently kicked it into my face... Jackie finally managed to force some of the strong migraine medicine down my throat and that knocked me out for about 10 or 11 hours. And I'm feeling much better now, though I had some pretty interesting dreams.








Saturday, February 01, 2003

Turner Classic Movies: Young Film Composers Competition: If you're ages 18-35 and ever wanted to have the chance to score an old silent movie, this would be your chance. The deadline is March 31, 2003.






God bless those seven astronauts and their families.






Huzzah!

Cakewalk just within the past couple of hours released their v2.2 upgrade for Sonar! This upgrade brings support for ASIO-powered soundcards like my Edirol UA-5. This means that on a Windows98SE machine like mine (without the WDM drivers XP has) I can finally play my VSTi and DXi softsynths in Sonar with like no latency (okay, 13.1ms latency... but compare that to 150ms). Woohoo!





Currently,

©2004 Victor Lams