Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Quick update

Last night's small experimental batch of venison jerky was far too salty, but still edible.  I just used way too much tenderizer on it, which is mostly salt.  Why tenderize jerky? you may ask.  I can understand that question if all you've ever eaten is store-bought meat, or even butcher-shop prepared meat, which is all already tenderized for you.  If you've ever tried to gnaw a hunk of untenderized venison, you'll understand.

So anyway, I started a new batch as soon as I got home today, still tenderized but with quite a bit less tenderizer.  Should be ready about 6:00-6:30.  I'm hoping it won't be so salty.

I achieved a life-long dream of mine last night:  I was able to see the movie Viva Max (1969).  It has never been released on DVD.  New (that is, unused) copies on VHS are insanely expensive and if you've had the same experiences I have had with used tapes you won't touch one with a 39 1/2 foot pole.  They showed it on one of the cable movie channels last night and I was able to record the whole thing with my DVD recorder.  I'll have a full review with plenty of screen caps as soon as possible.

I will go ahead and say now that the biggest reason I wanted to see it was because I know an elderly gentleman who was an extra in it when he was much younger.  I was not able to see him even though he is supposed to be visible if you know where to look.  I'll have to ask him about it next time I see him.  The secondary reason I wanted to see it is because it was largely filmed in San Antonio.  Thirdly, it's a comedy about the Alamo and the DRT were all upset about it because you just don't make comedies about the Alamo.  Heh.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Experimenting with venison jerky.

I got a haunch of venison from my dad today, cut off about a half pound or so and sliced it very thin to try making some jerky. Nothing special with this little test batch. I just tenderized it, sprinkled some black pepper on it and threw it on the dehydrator. I figured there was so much salt in the tenderizer that I didn't need to add salt.

Well, I check it not long ago and the excess salt has caked up on it and turned white. Looks weird. I think next time I'll try washing the slices to get the excess tenderizer off before I start drying them. They're drying quite quickly, though. It's been about 3 hours now and I think it might already be ready.

I did cut the slices quite thin. Might need to cut them a little thicker next time. I'll update when I know how edible it is (or not).

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms (1985, LP)

This is the only Dire Straits album I have, and I remember exactly why I bought it. I was cleaning up the Mr. Gatti's late one night in 1985, and as was our usual wont, we had put MTV on the big screen TV. The haunting strains of the the beginning of the title track came on and I turned off the vacuum cleaner and stood there perfectly still and silently watched and listened to the whole video. The next day I went to Hastings and bought the record.

There is not a bad track on this album. It's just as solid an album as you could ever hope for and it's one of the all-time greatest rock albums, in my opinion. My favorite track of them all is still "Brothers in Arms," but this is one album that is always worth listening to in full.

Another reason I like it is because Mark Knopfler's rather limited vocal range makes it easy for me to sing along. But that's only a minor perq.

Pretty much perfect rip, and it'll go on an audio CD as well as into the big mp3 archive.

Jerky stuff

Well, today I had to resort to ordering both Morton's Tender Quick (meat curing salt) and liquid smoke online. Neither were to be found at H.E.B. Since I have meat that I need to use, I went ahead and tried one of the old flavor packets that I've had for a while. The "original" recipe packet (from Nesco) was no good--it was only a paper/foil packet that had let moisture in. However, the "cajun spice" and the "fajita" packets had an extra layer of plastic inside that kept them fresh, so I'm giving the cajun one a shot tonight. If it's edible, I'll use the fajita and possibly another cajun tomorrow to finish the rest of the meat. I'll start making my own recipes again once I get the ordered ingredients in. I'm going to try as hard as I can to get some of the habanero stuff made soon so I can mail it before Christmas. If you read this and you've received my habanero jerky before, you know who you are, so please be patient.

By the way, I also liked Nesco's teriyaki seasoning. Since it was powdered, it works well for ground beef. Liquid teriyaki sauce doesn't work so well unless it's "real" meat that you can marinate. I might order some from them. I also plan on ordering more trays for my dehydrator. A couple of my old trays somehow got a little broken and I have to lay the meat down around the broken spots, which is a minor hassle.

I'm also going to take a shot at marinating some venison for jerky. I remember I've done it once before when some friend of my wife's had some that she wanted me to jerkify for her. So I've done it once, but I don't recall any of the details, except that they liked it enough to pay me a little for the job.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Things to be thankful for

As I said before, we celebrated our big Thanksgiving meal last Sunday because my wife worked today. She works at a nursing home, so it's one of those places that can't just close for a holiday. She gets to choose between having either Thanksgiving or Christmas Day off, and she always chooses Christmas.

So yesterday I chopped up the vegetable ingredients for my chili so I wouldn't have to do it today, and early this morning started it going. I make it in a slow cooker and it takes a few hours before it's ready to eat, so we all had homemade chili for lunch today.

I made one pound (raw weight) of jerky today. Unfortunately when I began gathering up my ingredients I realized I had forgotten to restock liquid smoke. So I threw something together anyway and the kids love it but I don't think it's all that great. Another unfortunate thing is that one of my favorite ingredients--McCormick's hickory smoked salt--is no longer manufactured. I have looked around and there are other hickory smoked salts available at various places online, but it's going to take me a while to try a few and decide on one to stock up on. It's a bummer that I can't just buy it at a grocery store anymore.

Yesterday I watched the movie Smilla's Sense of Snow. It was okay, but not what I would call great. I have never read the book, but I went out online and read about it, and I think it's safe to say that the movie just doesn't measure up to the book. I don't remember why I added this one to my Netflix queue several months ago. It's basically a murder mystery set in Copenhagen, Denmark and at the end of the movie, in Greenland. It has some sci-fi-ish overtones with a big conspiracy plot built in.

Last week I saw a BBC miniseries production Count Dracula, recommended by my friend Babel. Two episodes with a total playing time of around 3 hours, and made back in the 80s. It is the most faithful-to-the-book version of Dracula I have ever seen. So if you're a fan of the more traditional vampire tale it's recommended. If you're a fan of the more modern kind of vampire tale, you're probably reading the wrong blog.

Today has been a very relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving. I recorded another album and cleaned up several songs already in progress, finishing one album. Other than I have just spent time with the family and watched the temperature fall.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

All your parts are belong to us

Glenn B has a humorous collection of new TSA bumper stickers.

Tommy Shaw - What If (1985, LP)

This is just pure 80s nostalgia on my part. I was a big Styx fan way back when, and I bought a few of their solo albums after the break-up. I think Shaw was better off as part of a group rather than a solo act, and in my opinion his best song-writing was when he was in Styx.

The title track of this one was the theme song for Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. There's nothing really spectacular about this album, nor anything especially bad. It just is.

Perfect rip, but I won't be burning this one to audio CD. It'll just go in the mp3 archive. Maybe a few tracks will go on my general favorites list.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Queensryche injured in bombing

Armed forces supporters Queensryche were the victims of a bomb attack during their recent visit to war-torn Iraq, however frontman Geoff Tate insists making the trip was the least the band could do.

The prog metal outfit played a series of shows for military personnel. While in northern Iraq they were forced to take cover when a battle exploded around them, and although none of them were killed, they were left injured and shaken by the experience.

"We got bombed. We had to spend a lot of hours in bunkers there, waiting for the insurgents to get under control. We all lived through it although we got injured – that was a scary situation," Tate tells BraveWords.com. "A mortar landed about a hundred yards from where I was standing – the ground just shook. It was amazingly powerful and scared the hell out of me. I'd just been standing there watching the sun come up, eating a little container of yoghurt and boom – the bomb goes off."
via Collecting Vinyl Records

The Moffatts - Chapter 1: A New Beginning (yard sale CD)

I have tried to write this post several times now. I just can't see any way around it, but I'm sure this is going to somehow come back and bite me in the butt.

This was one of the yard sale CDs, so I dutifully listened to it. I had never heard of these guys before, so I had to look them up. When this CD was released, the oldest one was 15. The other three, who are triplets, were 14. This was their third album. The first two albums were country (allegedly--I've never heard them), but with this one they changed their sound to pop/rock. They released only one other studio album after this one (not including a "best of" album) and then broke up, seemingly because they couldn't escape the "boy band" stigma and were looking at a future wherein they would be the world's oldest "boy band." Unlike many such bands today, they were not discovered nor propped up by the Disney behemoth (although they did appear on one episode of So Weird (one of my favorite shows, btw)). They're all still in the music biz, but so far they haven't achieved much fame in their separate efforts.

They all play their own instruments, and they can all sing. They can really sing. Their harmony is sweet and immaculate and there is not a trace of autotune. I can't find any reason to hate this album. There isn't anything in it that I would (so far) want to add to my favorites, but the album will be going into the Big Shuffle.

So there. Let the derision begin.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rock of the 90's [disc 2] (yard sale CD)

Okay, I take back what I said about the 90s. There was some good stuff that came out of that decade. Not all of it is on this CD.

This is another disc that came in a ziplock bag from a yard sale. I like most of the songs on it, and some of them will make it to my favorites list. Here's a track list.

1. Soul Asylum - "Runaway Train"
I really like this song. I've heard it before, of course, but never really paid attention to it--it was just something on a pop/rock station to keep me from going to sleep on the drive home. Now that I've sat here and listened to it a few times with no distractions, it has become one of those songs that hits me in the gut and I should have paid better attention to it before. It has a very mournful quality that I always like in a song.

2. Toad the Wet Sprocket - "Walk On the Ocean"
Already on my favorites list. I have this and several other of their albums.

3. Ben Folds Five - "Brick"
I have nothing against this song. It's okay, but so far it doesn't hit me in the way that would get it on my favorites list.

4. Spin Doctors - "Two Princesses"
I can't frikkin' stand this song. This is one of the most monotonous excuses for a pop/rock song I have ever heard. I feel so bad for them because they sound like they put so much enthusiasm into it and it still came out sounding like something a 5th grader would write. It's deleted.

5. Tal Bachman - "She's So High"
This one I had never heard before, and it's another one that I really like. Favorite.

6. Shawn Mullins - "Lullaby"
Not sure if I heard this one before or not. Sounds vaguely familiar and another one for the favorites list.

7. Chris Whitley - "Big Sky Country"
I've heard this one before, although I didn't know anything about the singer until I just now looked him up. He passed away just a few years ago at the young age of 45. Worth putting on the general favorites list.

8. October Project - "Ariel"
This song doesn't even sound like it belongs on this CD. When I think back on the radio stations that played these kinds of songs back in the 90s--and I heard that kind of station a lot because that's what everyone listened to where I worked back then--I can't even imagine this song getting played. I like it and it will also go on the favorites list.

9. Sponge - "Molly (Sixteen Candles)"
Okay. I won't delete it but it won't go on the favorites list, probably.

10. Chantal Kreviazuk - "Surrounded"
Another one that almost sounds like it's on the wrong CD. But I like it. Okay for the general favorites list.

11. Henry Lee Summer - "Till Somebody Loves"
Looked him up. Most of his hits were in the 80s, and this song sounds like an 80s song even though it hit the charts in '91. It's okay.

12. Firehouse - "All She Wrote"
And here the disc begins to rapidly spiral down the toilet. Another one that sounds like it's from the wrong decade. It sounds like just another 80s glam band to me. Deleted.

13. Warrant - "Cherry Pie"
Good grief. Warrant? Really? Gimme a break.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

You know you're in San Antonio when...

...there's a Valero on every other corner. Literally.


I know posting here has been sparse of late. I have a few albums that I could write something about and my conscience tells me not to let my legions of fans down, but I just have no motivation.

I'm looking forward to a short work week. We had an early Thanksgiving today because my wife has to work on Thursday. I am hoping to be able to pull off not going anywhere or doing anything on the Big Day. Actually I'm planning to start making jerky again. Some for my own family and some for Christmas gifts. I'll probably do that Thursday. Recently ordered a big book that looks to be quite comprehensive on dehydrating foods. I'm looking forward to getting that in. I figure if my wife is going to get into canning, I'll get into dehydrating just to hold up my end. That reminds me, when I went to HEB this week to get jerky meat, I found they have a new kind of chub meat that they didn't have last time I made jerky. I used to use their one-pound chubs of 90% lean ground sirloin, but it has gotten to be quite expensive ($3.29/pound). This time they had some 93% lean ground beef that isn't sirloin and is quite a bit cheaper, something like $2.39/pound. So I'm going to try it and see if comes out as good as the sirloin. Oh yeah, the jerky I make is made with ground beef and squeezed out with a jerky shooter. Some people don't consider it real jerky but I've had lots of customers who were willing to pay for mine so I think that speaks for itself.

Also, HEB buttermilk pies are back in season. I opt for them over pumpkin, because everybody has pumpkin pie. Man I love those buttermilk pies.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

And a couple of Charlie Chaplin movies

This morning I also watched two Charlie Chaplin silent films, The Kid and The Pilgrim. They ran them on TCM earlier this week and I recorded them to watch them at my leisure. I'm not very well-versed on his films, and both of these were a first for me. I enjoyed them both very much.

The only other Chaplin movie I've seen is Modern Times, which was screened for me once by my friend Brer. That was a long time ago, though, and I'd like to see it again sometime.

I was very impressed by Jackie Coogan's acting in The Kid. It's amazing to me that a child could emote like that in a film with no dialogue. Watch it sometime just so you can see what Uncle Fester looked like when he was 7 years old.

To Be or Not To Be (1983 version)

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had watched the original 1942 version of To Be or Not To Be, starring Jack Benny and Carol Lombard. Today I watched the 1983 remake with Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft.

First I would like to say that they are both good movies and worth watching. Although I might go so far as to call the original "great" rather than just "good."

The essential plot remains the same in both movies and the storyline remains basically unchanged. Some of the characters' names were changed in the remake; I don't know why but possibly it's because they sounded more Polish than some of the names in the original. That's only a wild guess on my part, however, and probably wrong.

One important new character was introduced in the remake: the homosexual "dresser" Sasha, played by James Haake. As the "dresser" he is responsible for the clothing and makeup of Anna Bronski (Anne Bancroft) and he is also her good friend. At one point near the movie's end he is arrested by Nazis because he is gay and his rescue becomes part of the remade storyline.

The comedy in the remake is broader and has the trademark stamp of Mel Brooks--it's just the kind of movie he makes. Sometimes the comedy even verges on the slapstick (when Brooks stomps on his prompter's hands, for example).

In my opinion, the original movie made better use of the suspense created by the conflict between the theater troupe and the Nazis; occasionally you almost forgot you were watching a comedy until suddenly another joke (almost) sneaked in. This gave both the suspense and the comedy greater impact. Like the difference between a pin-point shot with a paintball versus slathering a wall with a broad-stroked brush. The original's humor was more pointed and aimed; the Brooks version applied more or less equally throughout, and as a result, the suspenseful scenes lost some of their intensity.

I would easily recommend watching both, but personally, I think the original is better.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


That explains quite a lot, actually.

I'm famous again

Another 15 seconds of fame (I think I'm up to about 75 seconds now) is mine. Derek at The Gallery of the Absurd has rerun one of my old submissions, from the dark ages of the internet back when the gallery was a website rather than a blog. I'm not sure, but I think I got that from a Harriet Carter catalog, and would have scanned it with a hand scanner.

Monday, November 15, 2010


The last three records I have grabbed to rip have all been from 1985, although I was not intentionally selecting them for that; it has been more of a hey-I-haven't-heard-that-one-in-a-while method.

Stormtroopers of Death - Speak English or Die
Tommy Shaw - What If
Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms

Makes me think maybe I should come up with some playlists based solely on the year of release. This is not as difficult as it sounds; my archiving method uses the year of the release as part of the directory name--although only for full albums. There are lots of singles that I would have to pore through selectively.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Stormtroopers of Death - Speak English or Die (1985, LP)

I bought this one right away upon first seeing it just because it looked so ridiculous and I assumed was made mostly for laughs and to offend people. As far as I can tell, I was right.

The uh...music? is something called crossover thrash (or hardcore thrash), that is, a crossover between thrash metal and hardcore punk. If you're wondering what the difference is, I'm not the one to tell you. You'll have to find someone whose ears are more closely attuned to the subtle genre variations to explain that one to you. However, I can quote Wikipedia.
Thrash metal is a subgenre of heavy metal that is characterized usually by its fast tempo and aggression. Songs of the genre typically use fast percussive and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead work. Lyrics of thrash metal songs often deal with social issues using direct and denunciatory language, an approach which partially overlaps with the hardcore genre. The "Big Four" bands of thrash metal are Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica and Slayer*, who simultaneously created and popularized the genre in the early 1980s.
Hardcore punk is an underground music genre that originated in the late 1970s, following the mainstream success of punk rock. Hardcore is generally faster, thicker, and heavier than earlier punk rock. The origin of the term hardcore punk is uncertain. The Vancouver-based band D.O.A. may have helped to popularize the term with the title of their 1981 album, Hardcore '81.
I hope that cleared things up.

Anyway, the original LP is made up of 21 tracks that pound with the subtle insistency of a dead-blow mallet. Some are astute commentaries on politics and the world such as "Speak English or Die" and "F*ck the Middle East" (asterisk not in original). Other songs tell the troubles of the workaday man (or woman): "Kill Yourself," "Pre-Menstrual Princess Blues" and "P*ssy Whipped" (once again, asterisk not in original but I am trying to avoid certain word searches if you know what I mean and I think you do). There are couple of instrumentals that would make Bach wish he could shred if he had lived to hear them: "March of the S.O.D." and "Chromatic Death," the latter of which is 42 seconds of sheer sonic catastrophic brilliance; and finally, heartfelt ballads which are sure to bring a tear to your eye but which are not on contemporary CD releases of the album: "The Ballad of Jimi Hendrix" and Joan Baez's "Diamonds and Rust." And, as they say on TV, many more.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: perfect rip.

P.S. I hope no one thought I was being serious when I wrote this.

*I can say that to my own ears, Metallica and Slayer sound nothing alike.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fun with playlists: rain

One of my favorite playlists. There are a few songs on here I could do without, but I have them on here for my wife (notably Eddie Rabbitt--I have simply never understood his popularity). Comments for additions to this list are welcome, and to perdition with the genre.

1. Agent Orange - Fire in the Rain (3:22)
2. Auriavizia - Rainbow Drops (7:39)
3. Belinda Carlisle - Summer Rain (5:28)
4. Billie Holiday - Keeps On A-Rainin' (3:16)
5. Bob Dylan - Early Morning Rain (3:34)
6. Bob Dylan - Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (4:39)
7. Bob Mould - Black Sheets Of Rain (7:42)
8. Bonnie Tyler - Have You Ever Seen The Rain? (4:10)
9. Bryan Ferry - A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (4:15)
10. Carpenters - Rainy Days and Mondays (3:34)
11. Christian McBride - Rainbow Wheel (6:32)
12. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Who'll Stop the Rain (2:23)
13. David Schnaufer - Somewhere Over The Rainbow (3:13)
14. Deuter - Rainforest (11:11)
15. Duke Ellington - Raincheck (4:35)
16. Eddie Rabbitt - I Love A Rainy Night (3:13)
17. Enigma & Deep Forest - Rain Song (7:21)
18. Enya - A Day Without Rain (2:38)
19. Eurythmics - Here Comes The Rain Again (5:04)
20. Gordon Lightfoot - Early Morning Rain (3:18)
21. Hüsker Dü - Standing in the Rain (3:47)
22. James Taylor - Fire And Rain (3:18)
23. Jane Siberry - It Can't Rain All the Time (5:33)
24. Jennifer Warnes - Famous Blue Raincoat (5:27)
25. Jerry Giddens - Spanish Rain (4:08)
26. Joe Chambers - After the Rain (5:22)
27. Joe Chambers - Mind Rain (8:35)
28. John "Roc" Mateo - One Rainy Day (4:48)
29. John Cougar Mellencamp - Rain on the Scarecrow (3:45)
30. Joni Mitchell - Rainy Night House (3:24)
31. Kenny & the Kasuals - Raindrops to Teardrops (1:49)
32. Liz Story - Wedding Rain (5:30)
33. Melanie - Lay Down (Candles In The Rain) (3:50)
34. Michael Forrest - Looks Like Riggiddy Rain (4:49)
35. Michelle Shocked - No Sign of Rain (3:49)
36. Mike Oldfield - Celtic Rain (4:41)
37. Moby - The Rain Falls and the Sky Shudders (6:02)
38. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Buy for Me the Rain (2:21)
39. Pat Metheny - Rain River (7:09)
40. Peter Gabriel - Red Rain (5:39)
41. Peter, Paul and Mary - Early Mornin' Rain (3:03)
42. R.E.M. - So. Central Rain (3:16)
43. Stan Getz - Double Rainbow (3:32)
44. Stevie Nicks - Outside the Rain (4:13)
45. Tanya Tucker - Lizzie And The Rainman (3:05)
46. Tanya Tucker - Rainy Girl (2:30)
47. Temptations - I Wish It Would Rain (2:47)
48. The Alarm - Rain in the Summertime (3:46)
49. The Alarm - Rain in the Summertime [Live] (6:12)
50. The Benjy Davis Project - The Rain (4:19)
51. The Cult - Rain (3:56)
52. The Lovin' Spoonful - Rain on the Roof (2:13)
53. The Pogues - Rain Street (4:01)
54. The Pogues - Rainbow Man (2:45)
55. Tori Amos - Somewhere Over The Rainbow [Live] (4:31)
56. Triumph - Tears in the Rain (3:51)
57. Trudy Desmond - Make Me Rainbows (4:15)
58. Uli Jon Roth (Electric Sun) - Just Another Rainbow (3:51)
59. Uriah Heep - Rain (4:01)
60. Uriah Heep - Rainbow Demon (4:27)
61. Yellowjackets - Liam / Rain Dance (6:33)

61 tracks in playlist, average track length: 4:27
Playlist length: 4 hours 32 minutes 0 seconds

Paper CD display boxes, part 5

Pink Floyd, Works and Wish You Were Here; Peter Gabriel, So. A note on the inner flap of Works shows that I purchased it on 1/19/88.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Motown Legends Volume 3 (yard sale CD)

I am happy to report that this CD was undamaged and ripped perfectly, bringing me 11 classic hits from the Motown label. Track list follows.

1. Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing
2. Diana Ross & The Supremes - Stop! In the Name of Love
3. Jr. Walker & The All Stars - Shotgun
4. Stevie Wonder - Uptight (Everything's Alright)
5. The Temptations - Ain't Too Proud to Beg
6. Gladys Knight & The Pips - I Heart it Through the Grapevine
7. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - I Second That Emotion
8. Contours - Do You Love Me
9. Diana Ross & The Supremes with The Temptations - I'm Gonna Make You Love Me
10. The Temptations - I Wish it Would Rain
11. Diana Ross & The Supremes - Someday We'll Be Together

Of course there are several of these that I'm already familiar with--how could I not be?--but some others are new to me. I'll keep them all in the big archive. Bonus points for track #10, another great song for my "rain" playlist. Did I ever post that full playlist? I'll have to check.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rudely Interrupted - Don't Break My Heart (2008, mp3 download)

Spend a few minutes and watch this video first.

I read about this group just last week in an Oddee post about strange bands. So I went straight to YouTube and found this video, then went to Amazon and downloaded the first album of theirs I found. It's only a short (EP-length) album of about 14 minutes total playing time. They have a very 80s kind of sound.

The thought that mostly goes through my mind when listening to this is: if they can do it, then what's my excuse?

Yeah, I can see myself buying anything of theirs I come across. Coincidentally, I have an old record in a similar vein that I have in my to-be-ripped stack. I think I will have to get around to it sooner rather than later. Their website can be found at Rudely Interrupted. Their first full-length album, Tragedy of the Commons, is due to be released later this month.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Back from the (near) dead

I did buy a new hard drive today and installed it. It wasn't quite as straightforward as the owner's manual of the computer made it out to be, but I still got the machine back up and running very easily. I'm amazed at how much easier it is to install a hard drive than it was 15 (or 20) years ago.

The old one was a 40 gig; the new one is 80. I don't think anyone even makes 40 gigs anymore. The system restore discs that came with computer worked perfectly snaglessly in getting the OS installed on the new drive.

It worked so well I think I might upgrade the RAM next. I might even upgrade the microprocessor if I get really brave.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


In spite of my computer crashing again today, I got some stuff done. I lost one album that I had just recorded, but since I hadn't done any actual work on it, I don't consider it a loss. Also, I'm now certain that the problem lies entirely with a failing hard drive. I removed and replaced it today just to see how hard it would be--apparently replacing hard drives is a lot easier now than it was 15 years ago--and next week I think I'll stop by Altex and talk to them about getting a new one to replace the old one. If that goes well, I think I'll also upgrade the RAM.

And you know, I knew that hard drive was going to be small--it would have to be to fit in a laptop, but I was still somewhat stunned by just how small it is. The main thing I'm wondering about is if I can use the restore discs that came with the laptop to install the OS on a new drive. I'll run this by the folks at Altex and see what they say.

Well, Bloglines is not going to cease operation after all. They're just going to be taken over by a new owner. However, I have found that Google Reader works better (for me) than Bloglines did. For one thing, it updates almost immediately when a new post is made, unlike Bloglines which updated only a few times a day, it seems. So I think I'll keep using it, but I may go back to using Bloglines just to generate a blogroll.

My son recently picked up a book at the school book fair. They have these a couple of times a year, selling donated books to raise money for new books for the library. So anyway, the book he got is titled The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda. I read some of the books they bring home just to see what's in them, although I tend to avoid the stuff my daughter likes because she reads typical girl stuff (although note: she didn't much care for Twilight). Anyway Origami Yoda is a very cool book. It's told in first-person by a kid named Tommy, who has this weird friend named Dwight who seems stupid but is mostly just socially very awkward and does strange things to put people off. Dwight doesn't get very good grades except in math, in which he makes straight "A's." He is also quite an expert in origami for some reason, and although there are many methods for creating a Yoda available on the internet, he creates one of his own design which he can use as a finger puppet. His Yoda puppet begins giving advice to several of the other kids, and often his advice doesn't seem to make sense until later. The book is a "casebook" of Tommy trying to figure out if the Yoda's advice is for real or if Dwight is just making stuff up and getting lucky. Highly recommended.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Special notice for all wives and potential wives

When you work the night shift and you get home at midnight, and your husband is already asleep because has to wake up at 5:00 AM to go to his job, do not wake him up to ask him which color of new toothbrush he would prefer.

The color of a toothbrush for a man--as a general rule--is utterly inconsequential. The color of his truck--yes. The color of his shirt--possibly. But the color of his toothbrush makes absolutely no difference.

I didn't think this was something I would ever even have to think about posting, but apparently at least one wife was not aware of this.

P.S. I'll take the silver one.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Good news, everyone!

Quite a long time ago I took a pipe to The Humidor to get the stem replaced. This was an eBay rescue that a previous owner had bitten through the stem. I forgot about it for a long time. Today I remembered it since I was working next door to them and I went in to see what had become of it. Since it had been such a long time, and they had never called me to let me know it was ready, he let me take it for no charge.

This is an unusually large and distinctive pipe. You can read about it at my other blog, just click here and here.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Obligatory Cthulhu election humor post


Paper CD display boxes, part 4

I got sidetracked on these but here's a couple more. Le Voix des Mystere Bulgares and Bob Mould Black Sheets of Rain. Click to enlarge.

I also found one of these. I used to have a couple of them. This one came with The Dregs Off the Record, a promotional mini-CD that was enclosed with an issue of Keyboard magazine way back when. Haven't had to use one of them in a long time, since it's been awhile that I had a CD player that loaded like that.

The Southern Death Cult (1983, LP)

I finally finished up another album. You can read all the details about this band on Wikipedia if you are wont to do so. For this post, I'll just say that this was a precursor to the more popular The Cult, and had only one member in common with the group when it put out its second album, Love (one of the two Cult albums I have). Ian Astbury is at the helm in both, and they sound quite a bit the same.

This wasn't an actual album release when the band was together. They make some studio recordings as well as live recordings, and this album is made up of various songs from both of those sources. The recording is not the best throughout--there are times when it sounds like someone overdrove their microphone and made some bad noise, and a couple of tracks sound too echo-y but maybe they meant for them to sound that way.

I bought this one at Sundance Records in San Marcos and I think it must have been pre-owned because it wasn't in shrink wrap, but was instead enclosed in a plastic slipcover, which is how they always packaged their used "collectibles." It cost $9.99 at the time, and I'm pretty sure it was also an import.

Perfect rip on this one, just some weird noises now and then from the bad recording that aren't too obvious.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


I had my official Easiest Day of the Month today and got home quite early. I was planning on finishing up some mp3s but then I decided to watch a couple of movies while no one was around to bother me. Saw The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Younger Brother, which was okay but it's not one of those movies that I would go around telling everyone they needed to see. Then I watched the most recent arrival from Netflix: To Be or Not To Be, the original 1942 version. As I said on FB, it's amazing to think it was made during some of the darkest times of the war. Stars Jack Benny as the ostensible leader of a troupe of Polish actors at the time of the Nazi invasion of Poland. It teeters between hilarity and suspense and in my opinion is very well worth watching. Also stars Carol Lombard and a totally unrecognizable (to my young eyes) Robert Stack.

There's also a 1983 remake made by and starring Mel Brooks which is further down my queue. I think I'll wait a few weeks before I move it up to the top.

Okay, so I voted...

Even though I still believe it's, in the long run, a waste of time.

Once, one of my relatives gave me that bull about "if you don't vote, you can't complain." I let her have it, thus:

If I didn't vote, I have more right to complain than you do. Because if I didn't vote, it was because I could not in good conscience support any candidates even with my one insignificant vote. I was a disenfranchised voter before I could even get to the ballot, so you'd better believe I have a right to complain.

This time I mostly voted so that if Cuellar manages to lose, I can say "nyah nyah nyah" with a clean conscience. I will be surprised if he loses, though.

Fun with playlists: brain

The list of "brain" songs is quite short--short enough to make a single CD of them.

1. Attila - Brain Invasion (5:40)
2. Devo - S.I.B. (Swelling Itching Brain) (4:24)
3. Hawkwind - Brainstorm (8:32) (Zones version--live)
4. Hawkwind - Brainstorm (11:32) (Doremi Fasol Latido version--studio)
5. Hawkwind - Running Through the Back Brain (6:13)
6. Jeff Beck - Scatterbrain (5:32)
7. Petra - Computer Brains (3:53)
8. Pink Floyd - Brain Damage (5:19) (Works version)
9. Pink Floyd - Brain Damage (3:50) (Dark Side of the Moon version)

The Works version of "Brain Damage" is longer because it includes "Eclipse."

9 tracks in playlist, average track length: 6:06
Playlist length: 54 minutes 55 seconds

Monday, November 01, 2010

Fun with playlists

Before I posted the "rain" playlist a while back, I had to delete out several "brain" and "train" songs. So I thought I'd try those words to see what I had deleted. First here's a "train" playlist, from which I deleted only one song that had the word "Ponchartrain" in it.

Alphanumeric order.

1. 4 Non Blondes - Train (3:42)
2. Bill Monroe - New River Train (3:40)
3. Billy Berry & His Ellington All-Stars - Take The "A" Train (from "For Duke") (4:25)
4. Brown Recluse - Night Train (2:41)
5. Dan Zanes - Catch That Train (3:22)
6. Duke Ellington - Take The "A" Train (5:22)
7. Duke Ellington - Take The "A" Train (2:58)
8. Duke Ellington - Take the A Train (4:12)
9. Eagles - Train Leaves Here This Morning (4:06)
10. Emmylou Harris - Mystery Train (2:37)
11. Golem - Train Across Ukraine (3:37)
12. Jimmie Rodgers - Waiting For A Train (2:45)
13. Jimmy Smith & Wes Montgomery - Happy-Go-Lucky Local (aka "Night Train") (6:48)
14. Johnny Cash - Blue Train (2:01)
15. Joni Mitchell - Just Like This Train (4:24)
16. Marc Cohn - Ghost Train (4:13)
17. Michelle Shocked - If Love Was a Train (4:07)
18. Moxy - Train (4:39)
19. Norman Blake - Eastbound Freight Train (3:35)
20. O'Jays - Love Train (3:00)
21. Ottmar Liebert - Dreaming on the Starlight Train (4:55)
22. Pat Metheny Group - Last Train Home (5:41)
23. Precious Few - The Train Kept A-Rollin' (3:07)
24. Richard Davis - Take The A Train (3:15)
25. The Clash - Train In Vain (Stand By Me) (3:08)
26. The Doors - Black Train Song (12:25)
27. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Hear My Train A Comin' (5:00)
28. The Monkees - Last Train To Clarksville (2:46)
29. The Psychedelic Furs - Into You Like a Train (4:27)
30. Trainwreck Riders - Don't You Know (2:30)
31. Wednesday Week - That Train (3:31)
32. The Highwaymen - Desperados Waiting For A Train (4:36)
33. World Standard - Hollyville Train (4:31)

Easy to see one piece that stands out on this list. Three different versions of "Take the 'A' Train" by Duke Ellington alone. Plus two other versions by other artists. Another notable jazz piece is "Night Train." Note: the one on this list by Brown Recluse is a pop song, not the jazz standard. The Jimmy Smith version titled "Happy-Go-Lucky Local" is an older version of the piece (originally composed by Ellington) and was more jazz-oriented. Later versions that were titled "Night Train" have a more R&B/pop sort of feeling.

Errata: Oops, just noticed #30 should not be on the list. Turned up because of the group's name. I don't think #26 should rightly be there either, because I think that's "train" as a verb rather than "train" as a noun.

Winamp details: 33 tracks in playlist, average track length: 4:07.
Playlist length: 2 hours 16 minutes 6 seconds.

Even with the giant-class humanoid damage bonus!

Since I'm on dial-up, graphics load rather slowly. So I just want to say that I laughed out loud at the very first panel in this comic, before I had even seen the rest. The intro was better than the punch line.

Uh...you probably won't get my post title if you've never played D&D, but I'm pretty sure most readers of this blog have, at one time or another.