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Monday, March 31, 2003

We are experiencing some technical difficulties. My 'blog template seems to have been switched with someone else's. Some else who really likes Linkin Park. Let's see if I can't fix this.

I think someone is playing tricks on me (or else 'blogger is really fouled up). Everytime I reload I get another, uh, crummy template. We'll have to resolve this tomorrow, I think. Hopefully tonight, though, I can at least restore an older version of the template.






I ran across this weird Chicago Sun-Times editorial and skimmed through it because it seemed to be talking about deregulation of certain areas in the telecommunications industry. I don't know, however, how you can pose the question "What's best for consumers vs. telecommunications?" and wind up at the end of the editorial with the conclusion "School desegregation isn't working". Maybe I missed something.






Every day, another new thing

And today that new thing is my new page on AcidPlanet. Check out my songs on my AcidPlanet page. Please give them a listen and rate them. I gaurantee that there is at least one song there which in unavailable any place else (see if you can guess which one. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised). New music will be posted there first, too, so be sure to check back every now and again.






Zelda, Zelda, Zelda, Zelda, Zelda, Zelda, Zelda, Zelda, Zelda, Zelda!

Since we've all been so sick this past week we've been doing nothing, pretty much, except playing The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker on the GameCube. If you have $200 to spare run, do not walk, to your nearest BestBuy or whatever and pick up a GameCube (for $150, and that includes a free game. I recommend Metroid: Prime) and a copy of this game. People who have invested the time in The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time will find their familiarity with that story and the land of Hyrule particularly well rewarded. But even if you've never played a Zelda game before this game stands, and will stand for years, as a yardstick in gaming: something against which all future games will be measured. It's nothing short of outstanding: all of the little side quests and exploration you're free to do in this game. Little hints are dropped which leads to putting the main quest on hold for hours while you go off and explore some as-yet uncharted island, gain some new ability or chart there, and go off on another tangent from there. You could literally play this game for months and not see all the game world has to offer. The unique (and very family-friendly) art style, too, creates a jaw-dropping situation whenever a new environment or enemy is revealed. The enemy character animations stand out particularly as it feels, more often than not, like you're playing an actual cartoon -- and not a crappily-animated cartoon either.

Maybe it's because I have a cold or maybe it's because I've been playing videogames all week, but words fail me when I try to describe just how big and intricate this game is. Just check it out, even if you're not a gamer, you will be impressed.






Every so often I have a killer idea for a domain name and then the race is to see if it's already been taken. Sadly, this is the case with oatmail.com, oatmail.net, and oatmail.org. None of the three, though, seem to be fully utlized.






Ugh. Still recovering from this cold, my head feels like it's filled with pixie dust. Or sawdust. One of the two. Just as soon as my head clears, normal 'blogging for the day will resume.






The Belgians have already offered to replace the Statue of Liberty (should, you know, this anti-French thing go far enough). I think every Monday should begin with Mannekin Pis. Thanks, Britain, for the link!








Sunday, March 30, 2003

There are a number of cute Flash Animations at FlashKit which appears to be sort of a users' group for Flash. Lots of neat short stuff there.






Chemistry.org: Scientists Find DuPont Chemical Likely Affecting Women, Girls

When you read things like this or the recent studies which shows that our drinking water is chock full of hormones secreted by folks using birth-control drugs (corollary to a recent USGS study) it makes you wonder how any of us can still be fertile (answer: many of us aren't) and why we're not either extinct or just all a race of funky-haired, mutant eunuchs.

Interstingly enough (I hesitate to say "ironically"), the only people who seem at all concerned with entire male fish populations suddenly developing eggs thanks to secreted hormones are the transgender advocacy folks. This is really something with which more people should be seriously concerned.








Saturday, March 29, 2003

Today I had my first of three classes designed to gear me up to be able to take the Project Management Professional certification test. Basically, as far as project management is concerned, you have to have your PMP certification to even be considered for a position in this tight labor market. I'm not sold on Project Management as my vocation, or anything, but it's something I've done and frankly speaking probably one of the few things I could ever get paid to do.

Initially I approached the PMP certification (it's advanced by the Project Management Institute and you can read all about it on their website) as a bit of a scam: you need to have so many hours of classtime, so many hours of project management experience before you can even take the test (which, itself, is something like $500 -- and some people spend upwards of that much again on prep materials). But after this class and a couple of meetings with our local chapter of PMI, I'm less inclined to think of it as a scam or professional clique. Once you move beyond the sort of loosey-goosey "let's all get together and have a conference call, put together something which we call a project plan but is really just an email telling you to do some stuff whenever, and then talk with each other every week or so until there's a re-org and we're all either laid-off or moved to another group" attitude my previous employer had towards project management there really is a formal structure that any business could really benefit from following and the PMI (and their certification) ensures that it's standardized and adhered to.

I guess I sound like a bit of a corporate tool, here. But it was just so astonishing to me to find that anything like this could even broach, to some small degree, the walls of cynicism I'd built up....






Watch me almost get banned from Zorak's 'blog for my comments. I thought it was funny, anyway. I should be careful, though, as her husband, O.O. (or DJ O-Nasty, as I call him), is a bonafide hero. Honestly.






Where have I been? Well, we've all been pretty ill this week, but more than that we've been playing Windwaker. The game is a perfect synthesis of Skies of Arcadia (itself not a Zelda game, but one of my favorite Dreamcast games ever) and The Ocarina of Time (and the way the game ties in with the story from Ocarina of Time is pretty astonishing: it seems completely unrelated and yet there are so many neat, subtle references which seem to all be building towards something big). Oh, and I have Project Managment class today. So enjoy your Saturday! I'll be back this evening.








Thursday, March 27, 2003

From the sublime to the ridiculous now, with two links provided by Kevin:

Is the war in Iraq a War for Oil? Or is it in fact instead America's Triumph and Europe's Angst: The Secret Race To Control Iraq's Extraterrestrial Heritage? You be the judge.

There is evidence that powerful exotic weapons such as scalar electromagnetic devices are being used around the planet in an effort to warn the US about overstepping itself, and to 'encourage' a diplomatic solution to the current crisis over access and control of Iraq's ET heritage.

And all this time I thought those scalar electromagnetic devices were just the Palm Pilots of urbanite war-protesters as they IM each other as to at which Starbucks they will meet when they get tired of standing around holding signs. Again with the poorly translated Sumerian cuneiform, though. Why is it that everyone who translates Anunnaki (Sumerian for 'those who came from Heaven to Earth') to mean Aliens. Why not Angels? For more on the scientics' (my term for those who claim to practice science but then take their reductionist/materialist worldview into matters "spiritual") read what Greg Popcak has to say on DNA creator's Dr. Francis Crick latest thought nugget: that our DNA is a gift from space aliens to us! Oh and co-creator Dr. Watson says now that all religion everywhere is nothing more than "myths from the past" (all right: but where did those myths from the past come from? I mean, to the folks in the past who came up with them initially? From further in the past? All right, but where did those myths come from?). Anyway, now Dr. Crick will have something else to think about as he watches the war coverage on television. Maybe the Iraqi ETs have some new DNA stored in a bunker somewhere and maybe the Husseins are the next step in human evolution.

Think about that while you look at some nice pictures and movies of what happens when you throw a big block of sodium into the water. This trick also works with magnesium, too, if I recall.






I Like The Park

One of the things I have been able to do the past two weeks, since it's been so nice out, is to take 'Xander with me on my walks about town. The really nice thing about downtown Plymouth is that every three blocks or so there is a nice neighborhood park. Since 'Xander was too little last summer, we really didn't take him to the park much. But now that he can walk, run, and climb I've started taking him there. And I had no idea just what a social hub the neighborhood park really is. Tons of kids all there with their moms (and sometimes with their dads -- the moms today remarked how odd it was to see a kid there with his dad) most about 'Xander's age. So it's been fun doing all the introductions, yes, he's tall for his age, and talking about teething and so on. It's really a nice time.

And another thing: when I check in on 'Xander as he's taking his after-park nap I like to imagine him dreaming about the trips down the slide with Daddy and I hope that those dreams make him happy.






Self-referentially Incoherent Statement of the Week Award

"We are a very tolerant state and people in the military also expect to be treated with the same courtesy and respect that we show to others," Lt. Col. Scott Stirewalt, director of security at the Vermont National Guard, told WCAX news.

I hear that there is even legislation pending in Vermont to allow two people serving in the armed forces to be married to each other! Seriously, I wonder if this is even considered a "hate-crime" in Vermont: public stoning based on one's chosen profession.






FOXNews: Saddam Hussein Helped Detroit Church, Got Key to City

I hope this really is a situation where someone has changed from an otherwise nice guy into the monster folks would have us believe he's become. You don't find too many people, including other Christians, being that helpful and generous towards the Chaldeans (which is a real shame). The fact that Saddam would help them out to such great lengths, even when it wasn't (as near as I can figure) a requirement of his being set up in power in Iraq, is troubling in as much as this isn't at all the Saddam Hussein folks tend to hear about anymore. I guess you can never really know what's written on the hearts of men, though. I would like to read more about Hussein's relationship with the Chaldeans, though, if anyone can provide me with any resources.






How to tell when your religion is being successful:

They have to pass a "law" (without allowing debate) to crush it.

Even someone who converts to a new religion of his own free will can face a one-year prison sentence under the Gujarat legislation, if he fails to gain prior approval from local authorities.

So say what you want about the state of civil-liberties in America, but there's a contrasting snapshot from one of the more "civilized" countries on the planet. I'm reading Dorothy Sayers' "Mind of the Maker" now and a lot of what she had to say, some 47-odd years ago, still rings true today.






Windwaker: First Impressions

We've played our way through about the first two or three hours of the game, all the way through Windfall Island. Without giving too much away (and mainly for the purposes of annoying James Preece) here are our first impressions.
  • Overall the game seems to be oriented to a younger crowd than Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, and Link to the Past (my chief frames of reference). If it's only because those earlier three games had seeminly universal appeal, I don't know, or what, this one in its dialogue and action so far seems to be appealing to the 10-year-old set. Perhaps it's the new cel-shaded graphics, too, which creates that impression.
  • Whatever you think about the new approach in the graphics, though, they are awesome. A lot of folks were concerned that they would be too cartoony. Well, when you see the expressiveness for which the cel-shaded animation approach allows in the game's characters, you'll put any doubts behind you. It's not the gorgeous photorealism like Metroid: Prime but more than once I had Link run up and down the same area of a fortress or island, playing with the camera (which can be user-controlled, unlike in Ocarina of Time (though other than the camera, for the most part the controls are exactly the same), just to see how cool the scenery looks.
  • What's up with that (literally) snot-nosed kid? Is he just there to gross out anyone over the age of 10? Still, computer-animated snot never looked so good.
  • Overall, though, having played through one dungeon and a couple of towns, the game is awesome. The story, despite its rather kiddie trappings is shaping up to be the mega-epic Zelda stuff we're used to. In a way it almost seems like it's going to take on a more RPG-y feel than previous games, if only because of the "boat traveling to different points on the overland map" device which they seem to be about to implement. I'll let you know if that turns out not to be the case.








Wednesday, March 26, 2003

FOXNews: Vandals Burn Statue of Liberty Replica

Wow. Some people are taking this anti-French thing a little far, don't you think. Oh wait, the vandals burning the replica statue are from France? I guess self-loathing just comes naturally to the French.






No time to be mopey or embittered now!!! The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker just arrived via FedEx. I'll talk backatcha'll in a couple weeks!






I happen to disagree with Kevin Miller's agreement with the reader who disagrees with NRO contributing editor, Michael Ledeen's statement (which is in agreement with Patton) that Americans love war.

I think your average American does love war. To the "average American" (if such a thing exists) watching war coverage on television combines the thrill of the SuperBowl (Hooray for our team!) with all the seriousness and bilious humour of the WTC attacks. It's like the ultimate sporting event because not only do we have a clear-favorite to root for but also people die and stuff blows up. Were this not the case would we all be glued to our television sets just waiting for the British troops to storm into Basrah already and take out those Iraqi troops who are clearly not "playing by the rules"? I really doubt most people would honestly say that they "love the nobility for which war can be an occasion". What we love watching are the tanks and planes and bombs and the winning.

Any true concept of "nobility" in warfare died in Ypres on April 22, 1915, and then again in Verdun over the next year. "Nobility" is, at best, for those Americans who even consider such things, an intellectual and anachronistic curiousity. But -- you have to appreciate the US military for their publically expressed belief that modern warfare has "rules" or any notion of civilized conduct left attached to it.






Since folks asked: No, I forgot to tape "The World Over" on EWTN where Raymond Arroyo interviews Mel Gibson. You can listen to the entire program, though, as a RealAudio stream from EWTN's webservers. Just imagine a really tired-looking yet still animated and articulate Mel Gibson talking to a (as per usual) perfectly composed Raymond Arroyo, and that gives you some idea as to what it would like like with video. If you really want the video you can either wait until the interview re-airs (which it probably will in a few months) or buy a copy of the video direct from EWTN for $15.






Zorak's links never cease to bring a smile to my face (mainly the O.O. quotes just leave me concerned for the mantis' safety, but I digress), and now we have something to compete with the old Ninja Attack web-thingie: Send an anonymous Rat Attack.






Arg. So I didn't get The Job. The one we were sure would be The One. Not much to do now except start over at square one, I suppose. I'm beyond the point of even feeling frustrated about such things anymore. Just persevere (to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement), I guess. Truth be told, I'm starting to get used to not working. It's actually a lot of fun hanging out with 'Xander all day. Not that I'm complaining, but if there were such thing as a "reversal of fortune" card and if I had one, I'd probably play it now. Though that's not even true, thinking about it. I have pretty much everything I ever wanted or need, just not a job. Hmm. Now where did I put that unemployment paperwork...








Tuesday, March 25, 2003

"Something is being done to our nation deliberately, something sinister... something horrible."

Er, call me a patriotic idiot but I don't think that anyone did anything bad to Ali. In other words: I don't think the black helicopters descended on his house in Metro Detroit in the middle of the night and carried him and his family off to Area 51 where they and every other Iraqi-American are sure to be detained in the coming weeks (or whatever paranoid scenario you want to work out). If his family felt they had some reason to leave the area before they could possibly be interviewed by the government (and not all Iraqi-Americans are even being questioned, largely just the ones known to be in our country illegally -- i.e. the ones which arguably shouldn't even be here to begin with), it's probably a good thing for everyone concerned that they left.






Gus Fink: The world's finest outsider art.

There should probably be a big question mark after that sentence. If you poke around in the art he offers on eBay, you can find a portrait of artist Peter Max. I asked a friend why Peter Max's eyes were bleeding in Gus Fink's portrait of him and my friend replied "He must've seen his portrait."






Kat proves once again that even her mindless blather is still some of the best, most blog-spirited stuff around. By my own count it had been nearly 20 years since I'd seen the Burger Chef "Orange Licky" (I don't know if that's its actual name, I just call it that because everyone could stand an orange licky -- whatever that might be -- every now and then) logo. Sure brings back memories of... something. Oh, I know... I'm five and totally into prehistoric and contemporary deep-sea creatures and my mom takes us to Burger Chef and I'm showing this book off to the woman behind the cash register and it's a photo of a huge snake with little beady eyes and a huge toothy mouth and she says it looks just like her ex-boyfriend. I also remember straws. Lots of straws.

Note: Burger Chef is most vehemently not to be confused with Happy Chef (or as I call him "Maniacal, Towering, Wooden-Spoon Wielding Chef") which you can find in even the smallest of towns in South Dakota (where they pronounce "chef" with a hard "ch", like in "chariot" or "charred remnants"). Sure the webpage only says they have 23 restaurants, total, in the Midwest but that's just what they want you to think....






God bless our allies, the Moroccoans.

I guess that's kind of a 21st-century take on the powder monkeys.






MSNBC.com: U.S. enlists dolphins to aid Iraq war effort

Those dolphins look like they're just having the time of their lives. At least they're employed, anyway.






Britain waxes nostalgic about Animalympics. To answer his second question: I think there has been a long tradition, in American animation, of dancing animals falling out of their costumes. I think this happened at least twice in Fantasia and one or twice, perhaps unintentionally, in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which is just available today on DVD.






FOXNews.com: Military Wipes Out Iraqi GPS Jammers

Oh, you mean the Russians weren't opposing the use of force against Iraq out of some deeply-held, peaceful convictions (though I guess they now have someone who'd be in the market for another six GPS jammers, should the Iraqi economy ever recover to such an extent where purchasing them becomes possible again)? I wonder what they'll turn up on the Germans and French (maybe the Republican Guard will start attacking coalition troops with bad techno music) as the conflict drags on.








Monday, March 24, 2003

I don't think there is a single thing in this wide world which is as sad as a sick kid. Except, maybe, two or more sick kids.

Anyway, if you have a spare portable CD player and wanted to turn your living room into a Borders, complete with CD listening kiosks, this may be a semi-affordable way to do just that.






It's been a loooong time since I've seen anything on the Internet which made me laugh as hard as these did:

Weight Watchers recipe cards from 1974

You think your diet is bad? Look at the appetizing morsels cooked up roughly 30 years ago. The commentary presented along side each card is pretty funny, too, but there is some occasional mild descriptive language (which you might expect, looking at some of the pictures) so don't plunk your kids down in front of these if you care about such things. The only way to enjoy these, in my opinion, is to start with the first one and take the "tour" through all of them. These are dangerously funny.

Memo to Alton Brown: this is the real "Food Gallery."






"What's the matter, McFly? Chechen?"






Some things, you wonder why they even qualify as "news."

Director Moore Criticizes U.S.-Iraq War. Michael Moore opportunistically using a nationally-broadcast television appearance to promote his own half-formed and uninformed idealogies? Quelle surprise! I'm from Michigan and I'll be the first to say that Michael Moore is a big, fat idiot. From all reports, "Bowling for Columbine" isn't remotely even a documentary. It's a polemic; a one-sided broadside. In short: the only kind of film Moore is capable of making (or The Academy recognizing).






Well, I've remixed and remastered "M.A.R.V.I.N." (below) but the mp3 version still sounds too boomy in the bass (one disadvantage of making music with a free piece of software that doesn't let you insert EQ on each channel. It does allow you to do things very quickly, though, which is why I used it). I'll work again on correcting that perhaps later today. The baby has a bad cold and I'm not feeling so hot myself, so we'll have to see.






"You know. For kids!"

Thanks to Britain for passing along the link to The CIA's Homepage for Kids. Remember: "Fly high on intelligence NOT drugs...". Or you can visit Dr. Disguise and get a wacky disguise for your agent. Loads of fun to be had here for future snoops.








Sunday, March 23, 2003

New Music!

It's not the latest ISS song, but it's better! It's a little funky piano tune I worked on a bit tonight. I mixed it using headphones, though, since the little one has a cold and went to bed early, so the bass may need additional taming (I'll listen tomorrow on the speakers and adjust accordingly). It's the grooviest thing I've done in a while though. Pretty cool, check it out.

Victor Lams - "M.A.R.V.I.N." mp3 format, 3.7MB

You might need to right-click save as.







This is pretty cool. I had almost forgotten that I'd ever ented this particular songwriting competition, and I just found out I got fourth place. Woohoo. This means I won a softsynth VSTi instrument of my choice (from the same company whose banner ad you can click on up there... and I'm up to $24 with the ad campaign which means that very soon I'll get a second VSTi from that company). Neat-o.








Saturday, March 22, 2003

Dude, this is so wack.

Seriously, if you really want to blow up one of your fellow soldiers wait until after the war. Or at least wait until you're on the battlefield and something like this is even a little bit more plausible. And, honestly, if you really want to die that bad there are probably cleaner and less painful ways (at least as far as your surviving family is concerned) to committ suicide than court martial and being hanged.






So far, we've caught a couple episodes of Nashville Star on the USA television network. It's definitely far superior to American Idol, the show on which it is so obviously based, in that the youngsters (and there are a couple of older guys -- read: in their 30s --- on there, too, which is another refreshing departure from Idol) can actually play instruments (most of them) and sing. You can't fake singing in country music, especially when you're performing in front of a packed arena full of country fans and even if you can only marginally tolerate country music (which is how I'd characterize our level of country music appreciation, though we both like Texas Swing and Bluegrass to varying degrees) you should check out this show.






I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

I mean, it's really sweet that the Transformers were there for him to fill that void when his father died. I know how it is when you're a kid to latch on to whatever it is that's available and find meaning in that, so I'm very sympathetic in that regard. But I wonder if Mr. Prime knows that the Decepticons actually kill Optimus Prime (in the movie, I believe, until a massive letter campaign back in '87 brought him back. Interesting factoid: Hasbro lost money on both the Transformers movie and My Little Pony). But I guess "Rodimus" isn't as cool a first name as "Optimus". Though neither is as cool as just naming yourself "Starscream" in my opinion. Thanks, RC, for the link!

I hope the Iraqis don't destroy their valuable energon cube fields before Mr. Prime gets there! PS. Now that I think about it, Starscream has got to be the coolest name ever. Our next child will proudly bear the name of the second-in-command of the Decepticons, regardless of his or her sex. "Starscream Lams". It's got a certain goth ring to it... like "Worldkiller Jones" or "Glorious Harbinger of Night O'Connor". Or maybe not.






We just watched last year's Spiderman movie as part of Comcast's one-cent on-demand feature. It was pretty cool: Bruce Campbell and Ted Raimi were both great in it. But watching it, though, we made another observation: if stainless steel is the new black and orange is the new red then is it becoming the case that bra-less breasts protrubering through wet or otherwise tight fabric is becoming the new naked, at least as far as PG-13 movies are concerned? Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, but I must admit I that I have some rather conflicted feelings about that, if that's the case.








Friday, March 21, 2003

Did you see Mel Gibson's interview on EWTN just now? Did that not just kick ass?! I'm going to tape that when it's rebroadcast on Sunday night and watch it everyday from now until The Passion comes out. Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock.






Friday Toast

It's time for the Friday Toast, which is a new feature on this 'blog. This is the part of the week where I start off a more or less famous toast, and then you, gentle reader, complete it. Don't worry if you don't know the particular toast because it's likely someone else knows it and when they respond, you can just move your mouth and then drink your drink.

"Here's to us! Who's like us?






If you're looking for a way to add five thousand visitors to your 'blog each day you could always move it to Baghdad.

Don't believe that "Salam Pax" is "real" (really from Baghdad? Really has access to the Internet? I'm not sure...). Here's proof: he's a nice guy!






I think that if you were ever to become a malevolent deity, one who specializes in hearing the deepest wishes of people and then turning those around on them by granting them in hideous, awful ways it would be way too easy to fall into the habit of just giving people what they want, but way, way too much of it (you know, like drowning the man dying of thirst), as opposed to coming up with something unique and particularly ironic every time.

Well, I'm off to my interview!






I don't normally like 'blog poaching from Fr. Bryce (I do it all the time, but that doesn't mean I like doing it), but this is too good not to 'blog: JesusComes2Play.com.

How come my "cross necklace" doesn't light up and change colors? Better yet, why does Jesus even need to wear a "cross necklace" -- is being crucified something one could ever forget? And, as a commenter on Fr. Bryce's 'blog points out, shouldn't He play "I am Your Sunshine" instead? And since the makers of the doll obviously want Him to be all hip, why isn't Jesus wearing a bracelet that says "WWID?" Still, it's a little cute, I will give it that.








Thursday, March 20, 2003

Prayer Request redux

Praise be! I've been called back for a second interview, tomorrow morning, and this one will be a lot more technical, so any and all prayers are muchly appreciated! I've been petitioning Sts. Joseph, Anthony, Joachim, Rita, and Cecilia as well as Ven. Fr. Solanus Casey, Blessed Miguel Pro, and Father Pierre De Smet for their intercession. Thank you!!!






I think I should change the name of my 'blog to "Virtual Antwerp" because it seems to be the place where the various 'blog superpowers hash out their differences (see comments, a few posts below). Of course, to the extent to which I bring this all about myself any comparison to the actual Antwerpians of 1944 is a little unfounded.






Project Gutenberg: Chamber Music Archive, doing for chamber music what the original Project Gutenberg did for public domain works of literature: preserving these works of art for many future generations to come. Thanks, Kat, for the link! I wonder if Steve Guttenberg wishes there was a Project Gutenberg for all of his movies. That way all the Police Academy, Short Circuit, and Three Men and a 'X' movies (as well as more recent projects like P.S. Your Cat Is Dead) could be preserved forever.






Welcome Jeanetta of De Fidei Oboedientia 'blog (or as it is apparently translated into English: "Domestic Punk 'blog") to et cetera, by far the greasiest member of St. 'Blog's Parish. Er, I mean me, my 'blog is greasy, like in a good way, not Jeanetta. Is greasy. Hmmmm... hey "Domestic Slide" would be a great name for a dance tune, don't you think? It's domestic!






TVGuide: Slay What?! Joss Whedon on Life After Buffy

Whoa, there, Joss! Don't give us too much information or anything. Sigh. Buffy for sure is ending, though. Angel was kick-BUTT tonight, though. Faith and Willow both sharing the stage with the gang from Angel, Inc. That was cool.








Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Slate: Baby Talk: Can a 20-year-old host handle his own show?

I'd heard of this show but have never seen it. It does sound very creepy. Like that episode, well episode in the movie, The Twilight Zone where the omnipotent kid rules the house by making his sister lose her mouth and by doing who knows what to his parents. Only this kid doesn't have any siblings.






Greg Popcak is working out a solution to the hyperlong posts at HMS 'blog.

My original suggestion, I think, is a good one: it's time to thin the herd a bit. You don't have to kill off some of the regular characters, though, if you don't want to (as I originally suggested). No. Here's another idea: spinoff 'blog! Seriously, if it's done right, it's a perfectly respectable thing to do when your cast gets a little too big. Look at the success of Buffy spinoff, Angel. And who could forget Laverne and Shirley?

One must, of course, exercise discretion in such matters. But we're not talking about a mediocre sitcom like "Growing Pains" here; we're talking about HMS 'blog! The liklihood of a spinoff achieving such mind-blowing stupdity as, say, "Just the Ten of Us" has got to be pretty rare.

"Just the Ten of Us". Hmm. That actually sounds like a good name for HMS 'blog proper, now that I think about it (especially since everyone knows that when it comes to group 'blogs, "Eight is Enough"). Seriously, it's not even 6pm (EST) yet and already there have been 71 posts today. SEVENTY-ONE! That's not hyperbole, that's an actual count (as of 5:30 EST). Who has time to read it all? And who else, without reading them all, could tell which ones of the multitude of posts were really worth reading?

Say it with me: Spinoff! Spinoff! Spinoff! Or at least look into doing something with a message board or forum format, you know where you can view posts by thread instead of having to page down 30 or 40 times to try and find the post being referenced in post #52. Voice of the Faithful had some degree of success with this, I believe.






Electric Aunt Jemima
by Frank Zappa

Electric Aunt Jemima
Goddess of Love
Khaki Maple Buckwheats
Frizzle on the stove
Queen of my heart
Please hear my plea
Electric Aunt Jemima
Cook a bunch for me

Tried to find a reason
Not to quit my job
Beat me till I'm hungry
Found a punk to rob
Love me Aunt Jemima
Love me now & ever more

Love me Aunt Jemima

Tried to find a raisin
Brownies in the basin
Monza by the street light
Aunt Jemima all night
Holiday & salad days
And days of mouldy mayonaise
Caress me
Caress me
Caress me Aunt Jemima
Caress me
Caress me Aunt Jemima
..etc..






WashingtonPost.com: Mall Standoff Enters Third Day

Goodness. Three days and this is the first I've heard of it. I guess we've all been a little preoccupied with the nice weather here in Michigan to much care. But seriously, I think this is the way a lot of folks wished "The Straight Story" would've ended.






They Might Be Giants: Direct From Brooklyn

If you've been sitting around thinking to yourself "Hey, I wonder when the collection of They Might Be Giants videos, Direct From Brooklyn, is going to be released on DVD" wonder no more. It's out and features all of the videos they did from about 1986 to 1996 including the Tiny Toons videos. Also included is some footage from the 2002 tour (of their tour manager eating fire to the tune of "The Sun"), two tracks which were on the Japanese version of Mink Car but not on the American release (including "Your Mom's All Right" which is a pretty cool tune), a remix of "Man, It's So Loud In Here", a short, short preview of the documentary "Gigantic" as well as John and John commentary on the videos (which I haven't watched yet). The best thing of all about this DVD? Buy two at Amazon and you get free shipping, so buy one for a friend, too!








Tuesday, March 18, 2003

FoxNews.com: Ridge Unveils 'Liberty Shield'

I'm a little confused by the name. Is this another renaming of something French? Like when French Fries became Freedom Fries and the French Dressing became Democracy Dressing? If so, I'm trying to recall what might have at one time been called a "French Shield". It sounds like a novelty prophylactic device.






Things I will miss once I'm working again (hopefully soon): going to the mall with my wife and kid on a Tuesday morning just because.
Things I will not miss: paying $750 a month for COBRA health insurance coverage.








Monday, March 17, 2003

MSN Health: Songs Stick in Everyone's Head

Stuck song syndrome annoyed, frustrated, and irritated women significantly more than men. And earworm attacks were more frequent -- and lasted longer -- for musicians and music lovers. Slightly neurotic people also seemed to suffer more.






I'll support the president no matter what, but I really don't know what good sending Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy to Iraq is going to do for us... except maybe make sure there are no more Klumps movies.






Brains In Space

Lest all you think I do is goofy one-off tunes, well, I have been known to do some serious music every now and then. Just don't ask me to recall when the last time I did anything serious was. Anyways, now that spring is here, I'm feeling the creative juices starting to flow and I rediscovered one of my favorite things to do: realtime sound sculpting. This is when I grab a virtual-analog synth, my beloved blue (blue being the "new black" back in 1999/2000) Novation Nova, hit a couple of notes on the keyboard, latch the arpeggiator and just fiddle around with the knobs on the Nova's control surface and listen to the sound evolve over the course of 1, 10, or 100 minutes. It's like grabbing a lump of clay and working it without any real end result in mind (or I guess you could say it's like the dreaded "free write") but it's the audio equivalent and when it's done, it's done. It's a very relaxing process and I would recommend it as therapy to anyone. Today this took seven minutes (to bliss) and I actually recorded the process in case you're curious. If I could build a time machine and go back about 30 years, I figure I could put this on a record and sell it but since time travel seems to be impossible, I guess I can only post the .mp3 on my weblog. It has no musical value but if you need a dose of chaotic spacey sounds, this might possibly give you your fix.

Victor Lams - "Brains In Space" 128kbps mp3, about 6.5MB






Be sure to check in with ThereseaMF's Destination Order. College life seems to have taken its hold and it's not as updated as frequently as it was in months past but most recently there is a rather interesting post of a clinic protest.






Check out Vector Park for some really neat, simple Flash "toys" (they're not games and they're not animations... "toys" suits them best I think). I had a blast with "Levers" (click on the birdhouse) but the little critters are pretty cool, too. To my mind, this is what Flash was designed to do.

It makes me wonder what the brothers Miller (Robyn and Rand) are up to these days? I truly loved Cyan's Cosmic Osmo when I was in High School (it was all Hypercard back then) and of course I knew Myst was going to be huge even before it came out back in September of 1993 (I had one of the very first copies for the Mac). But last I heard Robyn was working on a movie (?) or something (??). Anyone know what they're up to? Their old company, Cyan, is now Cyan Worlds and I don't think either of the Millers is still affiliated with the company, but I'm not sure of that.






The Spectator: Rome v. Washington

‘How many divisions has the Pope?’ Stalin asked derisively. The role of the present pontiff in the subsequent liquidation of Stalin’s empire provided the answer, besides making him a hero in the eyes of American conservatives. The problem is that the Vatican cannot be wooed, like some dirt-poor member of the United Nations Security Council, by bunging it a power station and a couple of billion dollars.

...

Today, the Vatican is enjoying the rare luxury of finding its rigorous doctrinal posture endorsed globally by the secular zeitgeist. Unlike its opposition to abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, artificial birth control and a host of other controversies, Rome on this occasion is singing from the same hymn sheet as secularist progressive opinion. To the potential discomfiture of the Bush administration, many American Catholics will rally to the Pope on this issue, for the same reason that they defy him on contraception: it suits their convenience.

A very interesting article which makes a few more interesting observations, in addition to the two I've included above. It shows to go you, though, just how much we need a Russell Kirk today.








Sunday, March 16, 2003

If you get a moment, check out George Duke.com. It's both one of the nicest recording artist sites I've seen and one of the funkiest places on the Internet. There doesn't appear to be any free mp3s to download though (grrr!) so in that respect I have to give the nod to Bernie Worrell.com (which also wins out in the baby pictures category, as well). I've already mentioned Herbie Hancock.com on this 'blog in the past, though, (factoid: Herbie Hancock had a T1 line running to his house way back in 1993 or 1994... back before there was anything on the Internet to download!) but I'm mentioning it again because now you have a full three-course helping of funky keyboard players.








Saturday, March 15, 2003

No doubt. And don't act all surprised. It's pretty much been the policy of every military since time began to try to kill people who invade your bases during a war. All the armies who didn't make this their policy were losers, historically speaking.

Anyway, we're still taking suggestions for this week's song title, though it will be hard to top "That Chicken Sure Could Rap" (but as I'm not "The Henhouse Five plus Two", which was the 45rpm record featuring fake chickens clucking "In The Mood" that my parents would play every morning real loud to get us out of bed -- I guess I'll leave that to you, gentle reader, to determine if hearing something like that every morning of my childhood has made any great or lasting contribution to who I am today -- we'll have to see if it makes the final cut). See two posts below.






NIMFY!

I don't know if you all have these where you live, but here in the quiet suburb of Plymouth signs have been popping up on front yards which read "NO WAR!" I recently drove through Ann Arbor (The People's Republic Of...) to visit my folks and there were even more and varied signs there and many of them had website URLs underneath the messages of "Peace For Me!" or whatever they said (the URLs were all forgettable jumbles of letters.org so don't ask me to recall any of them).

Okay: it's fine to be all anti-war, that's cool. But do you really need to put a sign up in your front yard expressing that? I mean, if you don't want people leaving advertisements hanging on your doorknob, that's one thing. A sign could be quite useful in that case. But what possible response are you hoping to elicit from the folks driving by when you put up an anti-war lawnsign? "Oh, look, Harold. That nice house there is against the war. And they have nice, new Pella windows. Those sure are nice windows. Maybe we should be against the war too!" Or is it more a question of one's own self-importance as regards one's place in the world, particularly if one lives over 600 miles from the White House? "Why, I bet President Bush must drive down this street in his gas-guzzling SUV every day! Next time he does, he'll see this sign I put up here and either forget the war or at least he'll be really angry. I can't wait to see the look on his face. Hee hee hee."

Or perhaps it's a more noble reason which drives a person to erect a "Peace is Groovy" sign in their front yard. Perhaps the owners of the house have the safety of their family at heart. Perhaps, like the protagonist of Aristophanes' The Charcoal Burners, the homeowners are trying to broker a private peace with the opposing side. Perhaps they really are expecting Iraqi tanks or Al Queda operatives to come barreling through their upper-middle-class residential neighborhood and when the armies do they'll just pass over the houses with bold "NO WAR!" signs in the front yard, sparing the property and residents inside: "How about this house? Should we torch it?" "No, man, don't you see the sign? That's probably been up there since, like, before day one. Let's rape and pillage at the house across the street. See? No sign."

Are bumper stickers simply not good enough anymore? Maybe I should get a sign for my front yard that says "If you can read this, you are too damn close." Or I could get a sign that says "Give me free money!" That'd be a lot more realistic.






ISS Format Change

We're going to do ISS (Interactive Songwriting Sunday) a little differently this week, just for the sake of variety. This week we'll start taking submissions on Saturday (so I guess the name will change to Interactive Songwriting Saturday) and instead of taking the first suggestion out the gate I will choose from among the various responses to the ISS post... and if there's only one suggestion, then I guess I'll be choosing that one.

So here is this week's topic (and yes, I did finish the song from last week. Check two posts down). I need the name of songs which would appear on a low-budget compilation album "Worst Dance/Party Hits of the '90s". So if you ever sweated to tunes like "Shake That Body", "Jump Around", "Sexy MF", or "Everybody Dance Now!" back in the day then this is your week... only we're looking for what would've been the worst dance/party hits from time period: songs which probably would not have gotten people up on the dance floor, with titles like "Let's All Meditate!" or "Waiting For An Oil Change!" or "Sit!". Stuff like that. Post your suggestions, as many as you can come up with, below.








Friday, March 14, 2003

I figured out why I really like all those Sprint PCS commercials. I mean, I like their pitchman, Brian, who wears the black trenchcoat and who is in all the commercials, even if he's just in the background somewhere, so that's one reason I like the commercials, but what I really like about them is that, yes, while their gags can be a little weak at times (though some are pretty funny), they never truly run the commercials into the ground. You see the commercial maybe four or five times and then it's gone and then there's a new Sprint PCS commercial for you to enjoy before you ever get really sick of the old ones. Even so, I wouldn't mind seeing the "get The Captain and Tenille for the halftime show" commercial again, though.






ISS Song Completed!

At long last, here is the song from last weekend's Interactive Songwriting Sunday. You may recall that this one was supposed to be "something tasteful about naked fat peaceniks", subject suggested by Don of Tancos, and was to be performed by guest alter-ego "Big Mouth Dave and the Blues Blowfish 20" a mid-1990s alternative pop/rock band. This one was a toughie. Not to write, of course, but just because this week was so busy. The music itself was completed last Monday but then I didn't have any time to work on it until today. I had about half an hour before dinner so I scribbed down some words (stream of consciousness, of course... click here for original lyric) and then hastily sang into the microphone (again, stream of consciousness). So this one came together in under three hours. Considering it's over two minutes, that's not bad.

Naked Human Shields (mp3 format, 2.2MB) (Netscape users may need to right-click to save as).






I will say this for the Internet: it's made waiting for paint to dry a lot more fun.






Is the world ready for a $4500 synthesizer which features not one but four orange joysticks? Seriously, this beast looks awesome. Any keyboard which is based on neural networks and has a 10GB hard drive and a cool aluminum case like that has my vote for coolest axe of the year.






I think part of being a good dad is claiming responsiblity for some stuff you didn't do, you know, in order to enhance the aura of parental mystery which surrounds you. This probably makes you a more authoritative and effective parent, too. You shouldn't overdo this, of course, and claim responsibilty for too much stuff, but when 'Xander is a little older I don't think he'd have a problem with me saying that I'm the fifth Wiggle or that I singlehandedly made all the VeggieTales tapes. The trick, of course, is that you have to be able to make your claim credible. To the extent which I know all the VeggieTales tapes by heart (except for Esther, which we don't have, and Lyle the Kindly Viking, which we've misplaced) and can sing "Fruit Salad" in an Australian accent, I should be able to pull it off.








Thursday, March 13, 2003

Ugh. I've been trying to do without coffee today and I'm feeling it a little. I have been busy, though, got new tires for the family car (my dad saw the ones we had on there, which, thanks to gravity, still mostly contacted the pavement, and got a little concerned for the welfare of his onliest grandson) and am helping Jackie paint the baby's room. As one quart didn't cover a whole wall like we planned, it was time for another trip to Lowe's. So light 'blogging and music-making today. I can't wait until I'm working again... I'll have so much more free time!








Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Tell me about it!

Though I guess even as cold as things have been up here in Michigan, the extreme alternative is far worse.






Hey! Sorry about that. I've been out of comission today, mostly. The interview yesterday went well, but it's just the first step in a long process, so please keep praying for us. I had to take a personality test, which is a new one for me, so hopefully my personality is what they're looking for (has anyone else had to take such a test when applying for a job? It's not completely a bad idea in my opinion unless, you know, it costs me the job this time). The song is coming tomorrow, I promise. I "stopped the clock" on it back on Monday, so it's not like I've been working on it all this time.. there's been plenty of other things to keep me busy!

Well, more tomorrow!






MSNBC.com: Au revoir to French food names; Politics of culinary nomenclature captivate U.S. House

I'm sure the French are just crushed at this news considering "French Fries" were never ever French!!!. The originated in Belgium, created by my ancestors!!! They only got the name "French Fries" because my ancestors used to also pour boiling hot oil over the French invaders, as well as over potatoes.

Okay, okay. So they're called "French Fries" because the potatoes are "frenched" to created the strips of potatoes which you then fry. But they did originate in Belgium... they're called frites, I believe, and yes they eat them with mayonnaise and other wacky toppings... "mit stoofles" sometimes even.






Miami Herald: 'Massive' Air Force bomb tested at Eglin; nearby buildings shook

"To us, it's just the sound of freedom," says the Sheriff. So, okay: what's your "sound of freedom?" My sound of freedom would definitely have to be the neighbor's dog which barks loud and continuously at any time of day or night because for some reason they won't let it back into the house. Failing that, my other sound of freedom are the neighbors down the street who occasionally throw loud parties where you can actually discern the lyrics of the music with all the windows closed a half-block away until 2:30AM... this in a mature, residential neighborhood.








Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Sometimes the MSN article is so dumb you have to click on it.

MSN.com: 10 secrets to the perfect kiss.

The ten secrets, of course, are three statements of personal preference as towards what three "experts" (the experts are unnamed but it's safe bet from their detailed descriptions that none of them are of the male persuasion) think is a good kiss and then the rest of the seven are pretty obvious things that could potentially wreck a kiss for most people ("I don't like it when I'm being kissed so hard I bleed" is not one of them, but it could very well have been).

So mainly beacuse I can't believe someone actually got paid for writing that "article", here now is the apocryphal secret of what makes a good kiss -- as related from the wise man on the mountain to the young lad who asked: "What determines the worth of any kiss? Location, location, location."






Woohoo!

I'm a Timeshelarts.com "Song You Should Know"! Thanks, Justin!








Monday, March 10, 2003

MSNBC.com: Drug may help fight peanut allergies

If this works on other food allergies as well it may not be long before I'm able to eat in a Chinese restaurant again without breaking into hives all over and going into anaphylaxis. Which is a great name for a band, now that I think about it. Ah, but it's already taken.






Failure

I fail this week's ISS challenge. I have the lyrics written in my mind but ran out of time what with errands and mental interview prep. to record them. Perhaps tomorrow or Wendesday. But I do expect this song to change the world, and a song like that might take two days instead of one day to write and record.

But I would expect you'll be far too busy tonight listening to Hugh Emerson's songs (see below, and I would encourage you to listen to them. He really is a good composer) to listen to anything about fat naked human shields anyway.






Yamaha unviels the "Vocaloid" (page translated from the original Japanese by babelfish).

"Vocaloid, he was a Vocaloid, and he had a house..."

Sorry 'bout that. Been in a bit of a Devo phase lately. Anyway, Yamaha's "Vocaloid" uses the articulations and voices of real singers to sing any melody you want with any words you want. Play in a melody, write up some lyrics, and bammo: you've got yourself a real professional vocal track.

Of course some people have already been doing exactly this for years. Until now, though, the fidelity of the synthesized voices has been, shall we say, less than inspiring. Hugh Emerson is an inspired composer whose gift for ascerbic and ironic lyric writing (some of them in Latin) is unmatched among composers writing for synthesized voices, this much in beyond dispute, but one can only hope he makes friends with a singer or two. Of course, not having any friends nearby who are singers and not being able to sing myself hasn't stopped me a bit.






Slacker!

Still working on the vocals for the tune. Spent most of the day so far at my folks' house and had a great time. The baby's asleep now and that means no shouting into microphones nearby (if I recall my parenting classes, anyway) so expect the tune a bit later. And if you happen to be reading this, I'll leave a pause of a few seconds at the end of this post so you can say a quick prayer for our job hunt as well as the job hunt of so many of my WorldCom brothers and sisters who are also unemployed today. Here we go:




Thanks!!!!






Well, the music track for this week's ISS is done. I just need to write and record the lyric. I'll be busy as a beaver on Monday getting ready for the job interview Tuesday (thank you for your prayers!! Please keep praying!) as there's car oil to change, groceries to get, etc., but I should have the song done by 5pm. Hawaiian Standard Time, if nothing else.






A new fan from Germany writes in:

"i listened to your song hooray for kobe-san. i think its very, very cool. but, you must also bee slightly nuts...no offense."

None taken! Thanks for writing!








Sunday, March 09, 2003

Don of Tancos fame gives us this week's topic: "Something tasteful about naked fat peaceniks." And this will be done by my guest alter-ego Big Mouth Dave and the Blues Blowfish 20.

So there you go. Check back tomorrow afternoon!






Official Interactive Songwriting Sunday post

Now is the time for you to suggest your favorite topic for Interactive Songwriting Sunday. Just give me any topic or thing, be it a current event, school of epistemological thought, favorite kitchen appliance, or whatever it is that you have on your mind, and be the first one to reply below (if you've had your idea used in the past, we'll give someone else a chance this week) and I have until 5pm tomorrow to write a song about it. Remember: this week's song is being performed by special guest alter-ego Big Mouth Dave and the Blues Blowfish 20, a mid-1990s alternative rock/pop band.








Saturday, March 08, 2003

AudioBlogger.com

This could be really dangerous for me. If anyone's interested in me doing this, though, it could be a lot of fun... for $3/month, it's almost worth doing for the heck of it. Of course I could record my own audio'blog mp3s, but this way I can do it from anywhere. Though it's not like I go anywhere. Maybe I'll give their free trial a try.






I thought it would've gone for more. Shows to go ya how post-Christian our society is.






Fair Warning

Another Interactive Songwriting Sunday (ISS) begins tomorrow morning. Keep your hands on your buzzers to buzz in with this week's song topic, just as soon as you see the Official Interactive Songwriting Sunday post, Sunday morning. This week's song will be performed by special guest alter-ego Big Mouth Dave and the Blues Blowfish 20, a 1990s alternative pop/rock band. So put those thinking caps on and get ready to suggest your song topic. Once you see the official post tomorrow morning, that is. This here is not the official post. This here is a teaser for the official post. Tomorrow morning.

Note: Urine-stained carpets, having been last week's topic, are not valid fodder for this week's ISS but just about everything else is.






My Big Fat Greek Wedding...

...is the movie we finally got around to watching last night. It's a very sweet movie and you should see it. The commercials which feature the Portokalos family in the videostore call this movie "the most #1 romantic comedy of all time" but to call this movie a romantic comedy is not really fair. Toula doesn't even really meet Ian until a full third of the way into the movie and you never really get an appreciation for what they see in each other (Ian says that he "came alive" when he met Toula, and we know that he's become bored with the bimbos he used to go-round with, but those are pretty weak reasons to get married -- especially when one considers all he must "endure" with regards to Toula's family in order to make the marriage possible) nor does one ever really get the impression that there are any real obstacles in the couple's way (it's already been established that Gus, the "head" of the eccentric Portokalos family, loves his daughter, wants what's best for her, and wields no real pater familias-type authority so his initial objections to the marriage are easy to dismiss), which is a required element of "romantic comedies" (which I find, more often than not, neither romantic nor comedic).

So this movie is more of a "familial comedy", I guess. One in which the traditions and bonds of a family are tested but never broken. For that alone it's worth watching. And it's an awfully sweet and honest movie, too. And the lovable antics of the Gus Portokalos character ("put some Windex on it"), especially his interactions with Ian's antiseptic WASP parents, alone makes this a must-see. So you should definitely watch it.






Just in case you haven't read it yet:

Here's Raymond Arroyo's piece on Mel Gibson's "Passion" in the Wall Street Journal.

It's a good piece and you should read it if you haven't already. That Mel is bringing the picture in under 90 minutes and for $25 million is no small miracle in itself. Now that I know it's not going to be any three-hours long I'm definitely looking forward to watching this movie in any local venue which shows it.






Not an Onion article:

MSNBC.com: Hooters Air, with hot pants, takes off

“I expect Hooters Air to bounce along until they go bust,” Harteveldt said. “They will never be a major factor in the scheduled market. It is proof that there is no shortage of stupid ideas in the airline business."








Friday, March 07, 2003

Prayer Request

I know there's a great many things to pray for, this being Lent and all: you have a possible war about to break out, Al Kresta's health to pray for, lots of big issues coming across the Senate in the next few weeks, but if you get a spare moment or two I'd appreciate a prayer for my job hunt. I've got another lead and I'm really hoping this one pans out. Some saints I'm going to be hitting up pretty hard for intercessions on this one are St. Joseph, St. Joachim (both patron saints of fathers), St. Anthony (to find my lost job), Venerable Father Solanus Casey (who is capable of getting anything done in this town: Detroit), and Father Pierre Jean De Smet (who hasn't heard from me in a while and probably isn't as busy as he'd like to be). To all of them and all of you, thanks a bunch!!






I'm with Popcak -->

If I had a t-shirt, that's what it would read. Greg is dead-right about Rod Dreher's latest in this post on HMS 'blog -- I feel. Anyone who's made it through the first 30 or 40 pages of Fr. Laux's "Church History" (which is available from TAN Books) gets the impression that the Bishop of Rome has never been the SuperPope many American Catholics (myself included, at some times) would want him to be, able and willing to micromanage the minutest of affairs and swoop in at a moment's notice to put things right. It's been said that JPII is a "pope who knows how to pope" and while travelling more than any other pontiff in history and canonizing more individuals than the rest of the popes combined he has stuck to the job description (aka. "charism", I suppose) as it has been historically defined. And, I have a hunch, given the longevity the papacy and the Church herself, that this is the way the Holy Spirit has wanted it to be. Anyway, read Greg's bit on his 'blog. I feel he's right on.

Has it become the case that (with apologies to Pope Pius XI) one cannot at the same time be a sincere Catholic and write for the National Review?








Thursday, March 06, 2003

BOOOYA!!!!

For years now everyone has assumed that the reluctance of the Vatican to give just anyone access to their "secret" archives was some lame attempt to cover up for some unknown documents which contained some form of pro-Nazi sentiment or at least ambivalence towards Hitler's regime. Despite the insistence from the Vatican that, no, we don't give access to our archives because we've only got two or three people there working on cataloging all the documents there which is the way we've done things for centuries now and we're just almost caught up with all the documents from the 19th century and we'll be getting to the WWII documents in a bit, so just be patient for a few decades. Well, the Vatican stepped up the pace, apparently, and now there is proof (even beyond the tens of thousands of Jewish lives saved in Rome alone, directly attributable to and often housed directly within the Vatican (or papal estates)) that future Pope Pius XII, Eugenio Pacelli, vehemently opposed Nazism, even 10 years before Hitler rose to power.

In an intellectually honest world this letter (along with the mounds of letters and other evidence like it which have been easily available for decades) would be cause enough for all copies of Cornwell's book to be burned and its author sued for libel but as we all know, a lie often enough repeated becomes the truth and as Cornewell et al have seen little fit in the past to include actual historical evidence in their diatribes I don't think we've seen an end to their lies.






Speaking of music...

You may be wondering why you haven't received your copy of "Radio Victor" just yet. Well, I've been hard at work searching my harddrives for tunes and finalizing the tracklist. And while I know I said there wasn't going to be any mastering of the audio involved, some of the tracks really needed it. But I have the final tracklist now and as soon as the last four tracks are mastered, I'll be burning these and sending them out. 26 tracks, 74 minutes of original music, for $5, shipping included. You can't beat that!

1-7 are from my tape Laissez Affair; 8-10 are from a play, The Illusion, I did back in college; 11. "2 Damn Muggy"; 12. Sweetheart Serenade; 13. Barry White vs. The Chipmunk; 14. Dig That Sound! (Rapping Sunglasses); 15. Pentatonic Pulse; 16. Take Your Widgets Home; 17. Sweetheart Serenade remix; 18. Accuracy, Precision, Exactness; 19. Hooray for Kobe-san!; 20. Fake Cop; 21. In My Way (Long Version); 22. Tech Support; 23. Piano Piece; 24. Jean Michel's Lament; 25. Underground Places; 26. My Weblog (Demo Version).

This special rare introductory bootleg also features a new original cover designed by Don of Tancos fame. So be sure to check out his site and order up a couple of his original CDs, too.

Click the button below to order via paypal. Be sure to send me your address, too, so I'll know where to send it.
Click button to make a $5 donation and receive the "Radio Victor" bootleg!






Music4Games.net is my favorite site of the day. I appreciate their reviews of games (which place special emphasis on the soundtracks) and mp3 samples of what they deem to be the best soundtracks out there. Bookmark this site and check back every month for more cool reviews and features on game music.








Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Faith Rules

If you saw tonight's episode of Angel then you know what I'm talking about. And it really does illustrate something that's been missing from the Buffy universe for about three seasons now: an appreciation for just what a Slayer really is (the scene in which she broke out of prison was worth waiting all season for), a mythic power beyond mere mortals. It was also really cool to see Faith show such respect to Wesley, her old Watcher. The one thing I don't like so much about Angel though is that it's become completely a serial now. They don't do any self-contained episodes anymore (the last one which comes to mind was the electro girl episode and then the haunted theatre one before that). There's nothing wrong with the serial approach, mind you, and it does make for greater payoffs for those who watch every episode but you watch the hour-long show and then it's like... oh, that was cool. But what happens next? You don't come away with the satisfaction that you've watched a whole story. 24 is the same way.






Here are a couple more blogs which you should start checking in on a daily basis if you don't already (that is on those days when you can battle off the stifling and everpresent ennui and make it out of bed and over to the computer): Gospel Minefield by Kathy the Carmelite who must be cool because she lets her kids play GTA and Chirp which is authored by Davey's mommy -- 'nuff said.






MIESKUORO HUUTAJAT

MIESKUORO HUUTAJAT (Men's Choir Shouters) was formed in 1987 in Oulu, Finland, by a group of young men who clearly had nothing better to do. The idea was to dress ca. 20 men in black suits, white shirts and black rubber ties, and train them to shout some of the most beloved songs in the Finnish song heritage.

They also have a levitating conductor (check out their "History" page along with their mp3s, particularly their take on our national anthem which, and I had no idea that this was the case, is apparently a much-beloved song in Finnish song heritage).






"Hey Everybody,
I want to tell you about the launch of a new web site for the movie THERESE, produced by Luke Films and scheduled for theatrical release October 2003. Please visit the site and support this beautiful family film on the life of St. Therese of Lisieux. There are all kinds of things to do and see on the site. You can learn about the people who made the film, learn more about St. Therese and join the discussion group, plus there's a contest where you can win a free trip to the movie premiere. The more of you who visit the site the greater the impact the film will have and it'll show the theater owners and the distributors what kind of films you want to see. Make sure you post a message on the discussion board to show your support. Here's your chance to make a difference in the entertainment industry.
Check it out, www.theresemovie.com."

So read the email I got today with a request to post it, so here it is. I checked out the site and the music they got for the movie sounds pretty good as do the costumes. I mean the costumes look good, not sound good. We'll probably have to wait, though, until October to see if THERESE is itself a good film or if it turns out to be a Catholic Left Behind. My hope, though, is that it will be the former.






Happy Lent, everybody!








Tuesday, March 04, 2003

More Jonah

After a very poignant and tear-jerking episode of 24 which ended with the detonation of a large nuclear bomb (kaboom!), we dove once again into the bonus features of Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie and I think for die-hard VeggieTales fans, this is where the real meat of the 2-DVD purchase really is. There are more features here than on just about any other DVD I can remember -- and most of it is stuff you'd actually want to watch. Since the whole Veggie franchise is built around two guys, Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki, and all of the music for the series has been done by the same guy, you'll appreciate their involvement in the special "making of" featurettes which are surprisingly interesting on this set. I particularly enjoyed the bit about the scoring of the film (and there's this cool feature where you can watch 2 short scenes and flip between four audio tracks including the very early stages of Phil Vischer humming the music he wants, Kurt Hienricke's synthesized sketches, and then the full-blown orchestral recording). But at other points during the making-of featurettes they give you the option of hitting 'enter' and listening to, say, ad-libbed dialogue. So if you like VeggieTales and were disappointed with the movie (and I'm not saying I was at all disappointed -- for my full, pithy review, jump ahead to the next paragraph) this is the stuff you'll want to pay for.

Okay, here is my pithy review of VeggieTales, the movie: I can appreciate how difficult it must have been to take a show the format of which is a half-hour episode which is really two ten-minute shorts separated by a Silly Song and bookended by Bob and Larry and turn that into an 80-minute feature. That said, there is only one thing I would've done differently, had I had some say in Jonah: for gosh sakes why didn't they put in a Silly Song with Larry at the 45-minute mark? Right at 45 minutes there's this break -- it fades to black, boom -- and you think: perfect spot for a Silly Song, only no Silly Song comes. It would've given the second half of the second act a nice shot of energy, and given the fans something to look forward to (aside from, you know, the movie itself), but alas. That said, I still give this movie 5/5 stars because it has most of what makes VeggieTales so great (a lot of humor you know the kids won't get... how many kids have even heard of "Alf"?) with much-improved animation (though it may not quite be Pixar-level just yet, it works for the style and far exceeds even Ice Age, I think, in terms of creating a cohesive feel) and also they put one of my favorite Contemporary Gospel groups, Anointed, in the movie (as some awesome singing angels, vegetable species indeterminate -- I recognized their voices right away). If you have kids or are any kind of fan of VeggieTales, you'd be well served by purchasing this DVD.

So, overall... 5/5 for the movie because we're die-hard VeggieTales fans, probably 3/5 stars for the movie if you're not really a fan and no matter who you are, the DVD presentation is phenomenal, so it gets 10/10 stars.






Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie

Okay, if you are any sort of fan of the VeggieTales, this is the 2-DVD set to own. I'll get to the movie in just a moment, but nothing has had both Jackie and myself laughing harder than the special features on this disc. The "Outtakes" were easily as funny as any we've seen (including those from "A Bug's Life" which started the whole computer-animated outtakes craze). But before we even got that far we were already rolling on the floor (laughing) from just the special features menu, which features an hilarious ad-libbed conversation between Larry, Pa Grape, and Mr. Lunt. The "Digital Dailies", too, which are done in character, look like they'll be fun.

Well, the review of the movie itself will have to wait as it's time for 24 to start and we have to see if Jack Bauer really flies his plane with the nuclear bomb into the desert or not. I will say this, though, if you saw the movie in the theater and didn't stay through the credits to hear Larry's credits song, you should do that this time.






Very soon (meaning after we watch the thing) you will find here a review of Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie. Now, I know what you're thinking: it didn't get the best of reviews so why did you run right out and spend $18 on the 2-DVD (plus bonus CD-ROM) set? Well, because 'Xander is completely enraptured by the VeggieTales. No joke. If he's fussy, often times the only thing that will calm him down is if either I or his mother sing the VeggieTales themesong (we did this at a "grownup" party this weekend and the entire place got quiet and everyone looked at me when I started singing... but it made 'Xander forget the bump on his noggin, so it's all good). Anyway, mo' Veggies is mo' better and Jackie and I know all of the videos and DVDs we already have, line-for-line, by heart (our favorite, by the way, is still Madame Blueberry). So the DVD says it has three different commentaries (one of which is with the show's creators, Mike and Phil, and one commentary is with Larry and Mr. Lunt!), music videos, making-of featurettes, both widescreen and fullscreen versions, and more. And it came with a CD-ROM which has demos of the various VeggieTales computer games you can buy.

So regardless of how crummy the movie is, we have to watch it and if we ever want 90 minutes or so to ourselves on a moment's notice, it'll be good to have it handy.






Light posting today, as if you haven't figured that out already, as I'm rather sleepy for some reason. Perhaps I'll be bitten by the blogger bug a bit later and come up with something :)








Monday, March 03, 2003

Finished!

With time to spare. Yes, it's true: the first ever "Interactive Songwriting Sunday" entry has been completed. Yesterday, in response to my challenge, Karl Shudt asked "How about a song about people who show homes for sale with great big pee stains on the carpet?" I picked the genre (1980s synthpop/punk rock) and here is the result for you to listen to and enjoy:

"(There's) Urine Stains on the Carpet" (roughly 1 minute, 5 seconds, about 1.1MB). Download on the music page if this doesn't start streaming for you.

If you happen to enjoy this kind of bizarre music, why not check out my "real" CD, Robot Love, which you can purchase for just $9, plus $1 for shipping and handling. If $10 is too rich for your blood, why not check out my brand new CD-R collection of around 18 songs or which I recorded between the years of 1996 and 2001, "Radio Victor" and threw together in cool bootleg CD-R format (Sharpie marker applied to iMation CD-R), with liner notes, for a $5 "donation". Or get both CDs for a $13 "donation". Some of the songs on the collection are available on the website, but some aren't (such as the rapping sunglasses song). All are weird and most are unpolished. Click the button below to order via paypal. Be sure to send me your address, too, so I'll know where to send it.


Click button to make a $5 donation and receive the "Radio Victor" bootleg!






Over at HMS 'blog, Robert Gotcher and Kevin Miller have been added today to the ranks of official HMS 'bloggers, bringing the total number of contributors there to twelve. It is great to have some many perspectives and you can always count on checking in on things there and finding something new -- often five or six pages of something new. But... I dunno. With this many characters, er, I mean contributors, keeping all of the storylines and subplots separate is becoming really difficult. Miss a day and it's like, whoa! when did Zoe Romanowsky suddenly get the power to bend glass with her eyesight and why is Mark Shea evil now? Perhaps it's time to do what most folks do when their ensemble cast needs a little thinning out: "kill" one or two of them off in bizzare ways so as to suggest that it's not impossible that they could suddenly be brought back at some future time (for example, Duncan Maxwell Anderson could heroically sacrifice himself and be sent into a non-temporally-linear wormhole for a while). This would give the other characters, I mean contributors, a chance to get all tough and band together and look for revenge and stuff and would be really cool and then this coming May or November Duncan could pop out and be all "I'm not really dead but my time in the wormhole has convinced me that it would be unwise for me to stay around you guys for more than one episode" and then there could be another tearful goodbye and we'd be back to the "core" cast of five or six contributors, er, characters... whatever.

And I've been watching a lot of the Disney channel these past few weeks and I have to say that I'm really beginning to enjoy "The Wiggles." I enjoy them at least as much as I enjoyed either "The Dangles" or "The Struggles".








Sunday, March 02, 2003

I suppose I deserve this...

Karl Shudt of Summa Contra Mundum 'blog responds to my challenge in the comments box below: "How about a song about people who show homes for sale with great big pee stains on the carpet?" So, a punkish synthpop tune about urine-stained carpets it is. Watch this space over the next 24 hours for the musical results.

In the meantime, keep clicking on that banner ad if you haven't already (or if you've cleaned out your broswers cookies recently). I'm almost to $17! When I hit $30 I can get another cool computer instrument.






NEW!!!!! Interactive Songwriting Sunday

Hey! Today is the day I finally give something back to you, the readers of this 'blog, by introducing a BRAND NEW SURPRISE FEATURE which I bet you never even knew this 'blog had (not unlike the VCR+ feature on your VCR or the cruise control on your car). So, here's the deal: you help me out of my writers block and I'll write a song about ANYTHING YOU WANT.

How does this work? Well, the first person to leave a comment in the comment box below will have a new-wavy synthpop song written about whatever concept, idea, topic, historical figure, breakfast food, etc. that you, the reader of this 'blog, wish! I know -- I must be crazy! So consider your options closely and when inspiration strikes you, let me know in the comment box what you want me to write a song about (since this week's song is a synthpop/techno song, preferably something I can put "electric" or "space" in front of, or "girl" after, but not necessarily). Then simply wait 24 hours or less and see your song posted here, in this very space.

Not quick enough to have your comment listed first? Don't worry -- there'll be another one of these next Sunday, maybe, in another musical style if this one isn't a total disaster.








Saturday, March 01, 2003

Best site ever!

RC of Catholic Light sends along a news article which contains a link to the website which is quickly becoming my most favoritist site of all time: The American Song-Poem Music Archive.

What is song-poem? As near as I can tell it's the musical equivalent of vanity publishing: let's say you've written a lyric (or "song-poem") and you think it could be the next hit song. You just need someone to record it. So you send a hundred dollars or more to one of these song-poem companies and they record your song for you. Some people consider this a scam, but I really can't see it that way. If someone wanted me to record a musical version of a lyric they've written for $100, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Anyway, this website has TONS of mp3s of the best (?) recorded song-poems of all time.

Some of my favorites (so far): "Domestic Violence is a Deadly Sin" (imagine Billy Ocean only not), "Wish I Could Shoot a Gun" in which a woman bemoans the fact that since her man got a truck, he hasn't paid any attention to her, and further, she wonders, how would it be possible to shoot and kill that truck?, and "Rocking Disco Santa Claus" and the title tells you about all you need to know about that one. "The Amazing Helicopters", an anthem for the common helicopter, is also quite good. Some, like "Junkies and Monkeys", defy description.

Anyway, give a listen to any of the mp3s on that site that seem interesting to you. The site is fast (I got download speeds of over 200k) so you don't have to wait long to start enjoying the real American songwriting experience. And, seriously, any of these songs is a lot more representative of America than any of the Top 40 hits of the last 40 years.

And, if you do find a really good song there, why not tell me about it in the comments section?





Currently,

©2004 Victor Lams