Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Glad I could help (again)



A few days ago I was telling a co-worker about this, and he said it was funny because the day before his wife had been in that area trying to find something while he was speaking with her over the phone and using Google maps to try and give her navigation. She had asked him something like "what's the difference between Theo Parkway and Theo Avenue" and he had to tell her "it must be something new, because Google maps doesn't have it."

Featuring the ghost of Henry Akeley

Yesteday Albatross mentioned the TV show Forever Knight in comments--a show which I also enjoyed. I was able to watch the full series, two shows at a time, when they were being shown on the Sci-Fi channel back when we first got satellite TV.

Unfortunately, I can't stream it from Netflix, although I can rent all the DVDs from them. I might get a few soon just so I can refresh my memory on their characteristics. Note: Crackle did have it available for streaming, but I just checked and it has been removed. Bummer.

One thing I do remember but which I didn't particularly care for was that the vampires in this show could fly, although they never appeared to shape-shift. This was an integral part of the story, however, allowing Nick Knight to catch criminals with swift and ruthless efficiency, but it's not something I would ever use myself. Vampires having the strength of Superman and the speed of The Flash just makes them much less interesting, for me.

I have not entirely abandoned my own attempt at a vampire (hunter's) tale, I'm just letting it lurk and fester in my mind, and have recently made several attempts at starting a new chapter but I can't get the mood right.

Also, I just couldn't stand that whiny chick who played his sort-of "love" interest. She just got on my nerves. On the other hand, I really liked the character of LaCroix.

Also I just recently thought of something: someone should write a mash-up/parody called The Ghost Whisperer in Darkness. It would end with Melissa Gordon banging her head against a padded wall in Arkham Asylum. Just a thought. Tagline: "It's not a gift...it's not a curse...it's just insanity."

Now downloading...

I think from now on, most albums I buy will be downloaded just because it's generally cheaper that way. There are a few that I will buy on CD, but mostly, I think I'll download.

So I have saved a few pennies and was ready to get something new today. New for me, anyway. A thought occurred to me, so I went over to Painted Ocean and re-read Albatross's Iron Maiden posts.

I also listened to some samples at Amazon before I decided which one to buy. So I am now downloading my first Iron Maiden album, although I'll let you guess which one, if you want. If you know anything of my own musical preferences from reading this blog, you may be able to take an educated shot. Or not. Anyway, I'm sure I'll have to write about it fairly soon.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Vampire's Ghost (1945)

For a while now I've been kind of paying attention to vampire variations in popular culture. Most vamps these days have pretty much gone oatmeal. I mean, they're all just about the same and there's really nothing new (except for the sparkling).

Today I watched a movie from 1945 called The Vampire's Ghost. It had some interesting quirks that you don't usually see nowadays. It didn't have anyone who I had ever heard of starring in it. However, I do want to show you a picture of the guy who played the vampire. By the way, I don't know where "the vampire's ghost" came from. He was just a normal vampire. Anyway, here he is:



John Abbott. He does look kinda like he could be a vampire, doesn't he? Especially when he does his mind-control stuff and his eyes bulge out. Freaky.

So...vampire characteristics:

  • No reflection (can use mind power to shatter mirrors)
  • No fangs
  • Enjoys cigars
  • Can go outside in daylight but has to wear sunglasses
  • Was created by a curse (NOT by being bitten)
  • Lead bullets go right through him as if he isn't there
  • Severely injured by a spear point that had been dipped in molten silver*
  • Can mind-control people into not squealing on him
  • Appeared to fear the cross
  • Extended lifespan (400 years)
  • To create new vampire, had to use a special ritual involving an ancient forbidden temple, a symbol traced on his victim's forehead with earth from his original grave, and biting victim
  • Was healed by lying with his head on a small box containing earth from his original grave and being exposed to moonlight (not clear if both moonlight and box are essential, but it appeared so)
  • Killed by burning; also a large stone statue fell on him while he was burning

Not a bad movie, but at 55 minutes it seemed a little short and I think it could actually have used a little more thriller-related padding.

I liked it. 3 stars.

* Don't ask me how the African natives got a pot of molten silver to dip their spear points in. I never figured that one out.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Chameleons - Script of the Bridge (1983)


For some reason, this band's initial release in the States had them called "Chameleons UK," but their real name was The Chameleons. Wikipedia calls them post-punk. This is one of those albums that, if you hear something from it, you probably won't recognize it but you'll immediately think: 1980s. Or at least, early 1980s.

Back when I used to work at the pizza place and had several co-workers with whom I discussed music almost constantly, this was a group that everyone else referred to as "one of those groups Alan likes." Also included in this list was Echo and the Bunnymen, The Mighty Lemon Drops, Shriekback and The Screaming Blue Messiahs (for example). I never actually got any of the Lemon Drops' albums, just for the record. And I'm still trying to replace my worn-out-beyond-listening tape of the Messiahs' Bikini Red, which included the immortal classic "I Wanna Be a Flintstone."

Seminal 80s. They didn't have great commercial success themselves, but were influential on later bands, most of whom I've never heard of (according to Wikipedia). This was their first album and the only one I ever bought, but then, I don't remember ever seeing any of their other albums of the 80s turning up in the local record store, either.

I just finished cleaning this one up today. One track had a dull pop that I had to delete to get it to sound okay. All other tracks turned out perfect.

Available as a 25th anniversary release on CD or mp3 download. This release has more music than the original, or at least my U.S. original, with about 57 minutes of music instead of the 37 on my record.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Apparently, tomorrow never came

If you’re reading this column, it probably means you hate Aerosmith. How do I come to that conclusion? Because if you’re reading this column, it means that you’re the kind of person who is prone to reading things.

That really cracks me up. I am recovering from my cold, the kids have gone to their summer church camp (first time ever for my son), my wife is at work, and I'm killing time by reading about bad music.

It started out I was working on the playlist and up came a song by dulcimer players Mark Biggs and Jeff Doty, called "La Paloma." No relation to the song in the previous post, but it reminded me of it so I looked it up. While doing so I came across mention of a book called The Worst Rock and Roll Albums Ever or something like that, and while looking up info on that book I came across The Worst Rock Stars Ever. Your mileage may vary, but I agree with pretty much everything there, except for a couple of them who I'm not familiar with and therefore can neither agree nor disagree. For example: Liam Gallagher, Shaun Ryder, and this guy:




I wonder if Gladys Knight really believed what she said, or if she was just reading a cue card. I never heard of this guy before, and hope never to again.

Who wishes they couldn't remember this?



From 1975. What struck me as utterly bizarre back then, and remains so to this day, is that this song was played on KKYX. Repeatedly. Every morning while I was waiting for the school bus, I heard this song.

I've been missing so much...

By using an ad blocker. I haven't bothered to look up an ad blocker extension for Opera yet, so I've been seeing some ads. Here's one that just turned up.


I...I don't know what to say about this.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Weekend update

Well, I've been sick. Got one of those bad head colds that started in the throat and worked its way up. I worked through it. I was supposed to be at a family reunion this weekend but decided yesterday that it was best if I stay home, recover, and more importantly, not make anyone else sick. So wife & kids are at the reunion, I'm at home taking cold medicine, drinking lots of fluids and trying to get well.

The Roku has come in quite handy, since I've been spending most of my time awake watching stuff on it, but only one movie so far. Yesterday afternoon I finally got around to watching Interview with a Vampire.

First of all, I'll just say that everything I've seen Christian Slater in (and that ain't much) has made me want to punch him. Except for The Name of the Rose. He just annoys me for some reason that I can't pin down, just like Helen Hunt.

I actually bought this book a long time ago, a year or two after it was released, but I never bothered getting around to reading it. I enjoyed the movie. It kept me occupied and I didn't ever check to see how much time was left, so that puts it well above a lot of other junk I've seen. However, I thought the ending was just a little trite. I'm getting tired of villains--vampires or otherwise--who can't be permanently killed. It was too Friday the 13th.

I liked Brad Pitt's character. I guess Antonio Banderas' character would have been okay too, if not for another of my personal biases. It's not that he annoys me. It's just every time I see him I start cracking up, thinking of that...how you say...SNL skit (I think it was SNL) where he keeps saying, "I, Antonio Banderas" all the time. I tried to find it on YouTube but can't. So if you've ever seen it, you probably know what I mean.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Opera: The Browser

Not the music.

Since Firefox 4.x stopped working, I tried Chrome. Chrome does work, which sets it apart from FF, but it works very slowly and stodgily. So...I'm giving Opera a shot. So far it's working much, much better than Chrome.

I no longer even have Firefox on my computer. I've been doing some Googling and have discovered that I'm not the only one who is having problems with it. Someone let me know if Firefox ever goes back to not sucking.

Been a little sick since yesterday. One of those head colds that comes on extremely fast. Went from feeling just fine yesterday noon to feeling somebody-please-kill-me by 4:00 PM. Feeling better today but still have sinus swelling, although oddly, no congestion. Don't feel nearly as dead tired today. Only somewhat dead tired.

I'm still working on the big playlist, and am now up to the "m's" with Marillion.

I want to take a minute to point out a pretty good sampler that I listened to recently. Link below. A collection of pop & ambient by various artists. I like it.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Lovecraft's Commonplace Book

This is quite fairly awesome for me. HPL's Commonplace Book is online in its entirety at La Petite Claudine.

Update

I would like to refer you to the post from last month about the infamous Mission Road route. You may recall that I had speculated: "Will we have two roughly parallel streets that are both called E. Theo?" And Albatross had commented that "that would be so awesome."

Well, Albatross, I have some good news for you. I was almost right.

The old E. Theo Ave., the part from Mission Road to the bridge over the river, is now named Theo Parkway. The new street that runs from Mission Road to the river, through the back end of what used to be Concepción Park is now Theo Avenue.

So the new street is now the old street, and the old street is now the new street. Which I believe is S.O.P. for San Antonio streets.

This review is retroactively hilarious

Check it out:


That review is dated Feb 20, 1999.

I don't know exactly how it happened, but today I found myself reading about this album. I always read the bad reviews first. I think I'll have to download this one sometime.

Even though, you know, I could just buy that one song for about a dollar. Bwahahaha!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Marty Robbins - Marty After Midnight (1962, LP)

A few months ago my wife found this at some flea market or yard sale, and promptly brought it home and requested that I rip and burn it to CD for her so she could listen to it in her car.

Well, it took me a while. Mostly it was not in really good condition and had a lot of pops & clicks that I couldn't remove by cleaning. There were a couple of tracks that needed only minimal editing, and one track that was perfect, but mostly it took a lot of work and it took me quite some time to finish. But finally, I did.

This was kind of an odd one, to me. It's a collection of pop standards, some of which are also jazz standards (such as "Misty") sung by Robbins, who most people (including myself) know as more of a country/western artist.

So it turns out I kind of like it and I'll be keeping it in my archives for future listening, and I'll even add a couple of tracks to my general favorites list: "Misty" and "Summertime." The latter of which was the one perfect track with no pops. "Misty" did need some editing but it was good enough that by the time I finished with it, it also sounded perfect.

"Misty," as I have mentioned before, is one of my favorite songs, regardless of artist or style. "Summertime" is also good. That is, I like it but there's something about that melody that always makes me think it came from a horror movie.




I was thinking about uploading some of these to YouTube but I discovered that it is still in print, sort of. Amazon has CD copies of it, but only as collectors items from other sellers, which usually means I consider it "out of print." However, they also have it available as an mp3 download. So here's only a portion of "Misty."



Different, but nice.


Friday, June 17, 2011

A graphical Lovecraftian bestiary

I don't know if "bestiary" is technically correct when referring to Lovecraftian entities, but this is a good site if you're interested in art and graphics: Yog-Blogsoth. Frequently updated one creature at a time, with literary references to where they came from.

Here's a recent entry, the "twisted toad" from "The Horror at Red Hook."

Interesting and weird

American Stonehenge: Monumental Instructions for the Post-Apocalypse:
"The strangest monument in America looms over a barren knoll in northeastern Georgia. Five massive slabs of polished granite rise out of the earth in a star pattern. The rocks are each 16 feet tall, with four of them weighing more than 20 tons apiece. Together they support a 25,000-pound capstone. Approaching the edifice, it's hard not to think immediately of England's Stonehenge or possibly the ominous monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Built in 1980, these pale gray rocks are quietly awaiting the end of the world as we know it."
via Hell in a Handbasket

Xombie: Dead On Arrival

Another movie I watched yesterday. A strange little movie running 50 minutes and divided into ten 5-minute chapters. So looked it up and originally it was a Flash cartoon on the web. Xombie: DOA is the second of a trilogy (so far) of Xombie stories.

Nice little tale. The animation is not exactly artistic but the backgrounds are good at establishing atmosphere and mood. In fact the background animation reminded me a lot of how Samurai Jack looks.

The story is a post-zombie apocalypse tale about a little girl named Zoe who washes ashore on a beach (according to the website, near the ruins of Washington D.C. but I couldn't tell that from the movie). She can't remember anything but her name. She hears music playing in the distance and follows the sound until she reaches a cemetery where she is beset upon by a horde of zombies. She is rescued by a "good" zombie, or xombie called Dirge who uses a shovel like a sword. He also uses a long chain for a weapon sometimes. Dirge was the one listening to the music, in his home (which is a small tomb or mausoleum?). He decides to take her to the nearest settlement of living humans, which is the only place she can be relatively safe. Dirge is accompanied by a zombie (or xombie) dog named Cerberus who was once a police dog and still retains his training and develops an affection for Zoe. They run into another xombie named Nephthys who was a museum exhibit: an Egyptian mummy who was mummified with her organs still intact (leading her to assume in her previous life she was not Egyptian royalty, but probably a servant), and she helps them on their journey to the human city. She tells Dirge that they are both what are called "variants," that is, zombies whose brains did not completely die before the zombie virus reanimated their bodies. This is why they retain their humanity to some extent and are not simply mindless zombies like that vast majority of undead. She is accompanied by a zombie velociraptor (how's that for an unstoppable monster?) named Chimaera, which she can't completely control, and she is armed with a scythe.

I liked it. The official website link is below. Also, there's a Dirge action figure that is not available yet but can be pre-ordered. According to the website, Dreamworks is interested in turning the story into a real movie, which will be pretty cool in my opinion.

H.P. Lovecraft is a friend of mine...


via Lovecraft eZine

Thursday, June 16, 2011

This is interesting

Statcounter recently upgraded their service so that it provides a little more information, among other things. Now it shows your Google page rank, if it's high enough. I have one page that shows a rank of 14, so I'm not sure how far down it goes. I have several pages over at The Briar Files which are #1. For example, Google "delayed gratification technique" or "albert king pipe." Pretty neat.

In Search of Lovecraft (2008)

Spoilers appear below. If it's possible to spoil a movie like this.

So I watched this movie today. Apparently, at first, they intended it to be in that style where they're filming a documentary, a lot like REC/Quarantine or The Blair Witch Project. It's the story of a rookie reporter named Rebecca Marsh (Marsh, that is), her camera man Mike, and their intern, a high school girl named Amber. Rebecca fills the role as the driven, career-obsessed reporter. Mike is a camera man who compulsively films everything--everything, including Rebecca waking up in her apartment--I mean, seriously, after 30 minutes I would not have been surprised if he had walked in on her while she was sitting on the toilet. Also Mike served in combat in Iraq and is apparently suffering from PTSD or something. Anyway, he's haunted. Not to belittle anyone who actually has PTSD--not in any way. It's just that our "Mike" was such a terrible actor that I just couldn't believe him. He looked more like some kind of poseur who only acted (cough) "haunted" to pick up chicks.

Amber was the comic relief, the young girl who only wanted to have fun and had a sweet, bubbly personality. This was so you would feel real bad when she was the first one to be carried away to her screaming doom.

So Rebecca is assigned what she considers a fluff piece for Halloween, and she goes to this big Halloween thing--I don't know, it was outside and she remarked to her editor-in-chief that about 300,000 people were there. Anyway it was this big Halloween thing and she was asking the people questions about their costumes, what they liked about the season and so forth, and someone mentioned H.P. Lovecraft. So she asked some other people there about Lovecraft and got a variety of answers, only a few of which included actual usable information.

She complains to her boss that she should be doing something more valid, but he tells her that before she can do that, she has to be able to make a minor story such as this "great." So she starts doing further investigation on Lovecraft and runs into a professor who tells her that there are some people who think it's all real. He points her to an "expert on the occult" named Dr. D'Souza who clues her into activity that points to an actual existence of an actual cult.

Somewhere along in here Rebecca and Mike discover the records of a pair of anthropologists (a man and a woman) from the 1930s who claimed to have uncovered cult activity, and they somehow manage to find some old film footage that these two shot during their investigations. The film footage of course shows that it's all real. Later on some of this footage somehow shows the woman anthropologist has become a devotee of Nyarlathotep and she kills her partner.

After about 45 minutes they abandoned their documentary style, apparently having run out of excuses for Mike to constantly keep his camera rolling, and it became a normal movie. Well, not normal...it's still pretty stupid but I mean normal movie style.

Dr. D'Souza warns them that their lives are in danger if they keep investigating, but Rebecca is so obsessed with her big story and inspired by the old film footage she found that she ignores him. So she, Mike and Amber go out to meet Dr. D'Souza at some old house that he has set aside for fighting unspeakable horrors from beyond mortal ken, but they get lost. While they're sitting in their car checking a map, they're attacked by something with big wings that makes a big wing flapping sound.

At this point there is what I consider the funniest part of the movie. The thing with big wings is shaking their car around, but their effects for it are transparently lame. They are obviously just wobbling themselves back and forth to attempt to create the illusion of their car rocking. It becomes even more obvious when the camera switches angles to show Mike and Amber sitting perfectly still but Rebecca continuing to rock back and forth like mad.

So the thing with big wings smashed through the back windshield and seizes Amber. She disappears into the sky and that's the end of her.

Later Mike and Rebecca are talking to Dr. D'Souza in a public place during daylight (the only way they can be safe, for now) and some spastic weirdo homeless guy comes up and shoves a bloody package into Rebecca's hand. It turns out that it's Amber's ear. They know it's hers because her ear ring is still attached to it. I screamed right out loud. Really, I did.

Mike and Rebecca do eventually find the house where Dr. D'Souza is. It had previously belonged to some cult members and they had allegedly done some vile, unspeakable things there. Also, Dr. D'Souza had enlisted the aid of a witch (good, apparently) named Keja to help them fight the cultists and their monsters or whatever.

By the way, the woman who played Keja is named Rachael Robbins and I thought she was unusually good-looking for a movie of this caliber. Rebecca (Renee Sweet) is also attractive, but in a more normal girl-in-the-next-cubicle kind of way. Turns out Robbins has appeared in Playboy.

Well, Keja tries to do a Tarot card reading of Rebecca to determine her past lives, but all the cards suddenly start turning black as she flips them over, which was one of the things I thought was actually kind of cool about this movie. But then she was using a Rider-Waite deck, which is so passé.

Somewhere around in here we learn that Mike is carrying a gun--a semi-auto pistol of some sort, which he plans on using to "banish the evil." D'Souza tells him it won't do him any good, but he won't listen. Apparently all one has to do to banish the demons or whatever is to trace a pentagram (Elder Sign) in the air with one's finger.

Also they're looking for a rock of some sort, which is supposed to be key in summoning Nyarlathotep's avatar The Haunter of the Dark, so I guess they're talking about the shining trapezohedron. If they can get the rock, they can stop Nyarlathotep's coming, I think.

Another thing that would have made me say "you can't do that" if anyone else had been around to hear me, was that the old house they were in didn't have any electricity, but they still managed to watch more of the old film footage because Mike was somehow able to run a 110-volt AC projector from his 12-volt DC car battery. Yes, I know it's possible if you have a transverter, but there was no indication of that. Mike just said, "I was able to wire it up to the car battery." But I guess in a world where Nyarlathotep is actually real, you can run projectors from car batteries.

Then suddenly Keja, or what appears to be Keja, comes to D'Souza dressed only in her bra and panties (the high point of the movie) and seems to attempt a seduction. He realizes something isn't right, traces a star in the air with his finger, and she (or it) vanishes.

They go to sleep and there's this acid-trip montage. When they wake up, D'Souza is sitting dead in his easy chair for some reason. Then a "dimensional hound" comes out of the door (not through the door, but out of the actual door itself) and tries to eat them, but Keja traces a pentagram in the air with her finger and says something, I think it must have been ancient Sumerian for "bad dog!" and it disappears. Keja tells them that dimensional hounds exist in another plane of existence (or something like that) and can enter our dimension only through spaces that are not curved (i.e., flat). This completely ruined the movie for me. Everyone knows that a Hound of Tindalos can enter our dimension only through corners, not flat walls or doors. However, this bit of special effects was really cool in my opinion and probably constituted 80% of their budget all on its own.

Then a zombie D'Souza appears and Mike puts him down with a double-tap. Then Mike goes away to sulk, leaving Rebecca and Keja alone for some l*sb**n witch sex.

Just kidding. That didn't happen, although I would not have been particularly surprised if it had. Rebecca and Keja talk about Lovecraft mythos stuff for a while, while Mike goes into another room to sulk and brood. Rebecca eventually goes after him only to see him kill himself with a shot to the head.

So some indeterminate time passes and Keja starts making a magic circle to protect her and Rebecca from the monsters. She does some kind of occult tai-chi or possibly some kind of interpretive dance and the circle is complete. Then zombie D'Souza (who apparently only went to sleep for a few hours when he got shot before) and zombie Amber come for them, but Keja makes a star in the air with her finger and they disappear. Then some old boyfriend or something of Rebecca's appears and tries to talk her out of the circle. I'm not sure, but I think this was actually supposed to be Nyarlathotep himself. Keja makes him go away by drawing a star in the air with her finger.

Let's see...I think I'm getting out of sequence here but it doesn't really matter. In fact, I think that may give you a better feel for what it was like to actually watch the movie. Zombie Mike also comes for them while they're in their circle, so Keja tells Rebecca to "take this sword..." Wait. Where did a sword come from? I can only assume Keja had it concealed in her cleavage, but that's only a guess. She tells Rebecca to use it to banish the monsters by--in case you haven't figured it out already--tracing a pentagram in the air with it and saying some secret word which she only whispers in Rebecca's ear so we can't hear it. We never hear it. Rebecca never uses it. She cuts off zombie Mike's forearm with the sword, he collapses just outside the circle, and she realizes some blueprints are still in his back pocket. Rebecca retrieves the blueprints but unfortunately breaks the circle in doing so. A tentacle comes out of the darkness and grabs Keja, dragging her screaming away to her doom. The tentacle was another bit of special effects that probably took up the other 20% of their budget.

Rebecca looks at the blueprints and suddenly somehow realizes where the rock is. Remember the rock? So she runs away to get it. She finds it quite quickly, even though she had to travel all the way back to the city and stuff. This really bright light shines in her face and the scene ends.

Rebecca wakes up in an asylum, wearing a straitjacket with one eye bandaged. Two orderlies are standing over her talking about what a shame it is for such a good-looking young woman to have gone totally nuts like this, and that she had tried to claw her own eyes out. Then one mentions that she is also pregnant. Rebecca, although gagged, attempts to scream, and that's the end.

I probably missed some details, but I think that pretty much covers it. Terrible movie. Not really bad enough to be good except in certain parts. Horrible acting, jarring discontinuities, and occasional rote regurgitation of random Lovecraftian phrases.

You can stream this movie from Netflix or get it from Amazon, although I don't know why you'd want to. It took me two days to watch the whole thing, and after 30 minutes I kept checking to see how much time was left before I would find the sweet peace of oblivion. If you watch it, roll percentile dice against INTx5 and permanently lose 1d4 INT if you fail. Fortunately, I succeeded. I think.

Computer stuff

Had a minor computer problem. The fan in my laptop finally died completely, so I went so far as to take it apart to try and remove the old fan--but couldn't, and couldn't figure out how to get the frame of the computer apart enough to get to the screws on the fan. I did get the heat sink out and cleaned all the dust out of it, also cleaned the dust out of the vents.

So I took the old machine to Altex this morning for a consultation. They said it would cost me $120 for parts & labor for them to do it, so one of them suggested a cooling bed, which I had never heard of, but it cost me only $20. It sits under the laptop with two movable fans so you just blow air on the outside of the computer to keep it cool--you position the fans wherever you want depending on where your computer's hot spots are. Since I always just use it for a desktop anyway, it was a good solution. I've already run some very intensive stuff (malware & adware scans with Malwarebytes and Spybot S&D) and it survived without shutting itself down due to overheating. I'll have to get used to the new positioning of the computer, but it looks like I'll be able to keep this one going for a while yet. Also now that the old fan is completely dead, it's much quieter. I can't even hear the cooling bed running, and it has two fans on it.

I also had them look up exactly what kind of RAM I can put into this one for an upgrade (DDR333 SODIMM), but I didn't do that yet.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Choose your Flag Day


Flag Day at Google


Flag Day at Bing

Monday, June 13, 2011

Long overdue answers

I was just checking my Statcounter stats and was reminded of an old post that I never fully answered. The post was a movie quotes meme. There were three quotes that no one ever answered, and apparently I forgot to ever provide the answers. So here they are.

"I think the end of the world just came for that bag of Fritos I had in my pants pocket."
Captain Cutshaw from The Ninth Configuration

"Don't make me take off my sunglasses!"
The big bouncer guy from Bringing Out the Dead

"He used to bring beautiful women here... eat fine meals, drink fine wine, listen to music... but it always ended with screaming."
Crawford Tillinghast from From Beyond

And possibly how to contact Nergal

New York Times:
Ninety years in the making, the 21-volume dictionary of the language of ancient Mesopotamia and its Babylonian and Assyrian dialects, unspoken for 2,000 years but preserved on clay tablets and in stone inscriptions deciphered over the last two centuries, has finally been completed by scholars at the University of Chicago.

This was the language that Sargon the Great, king of Akkad in the 24th century B.C., spoke to command what is reputed to be the world’s first empire, and that Hammurabi used around 1700 B.C. to proclaim the first known code of laws. It was the vocabulary of the Epic of Gilgamesh, the first masterpiece of world literature. Nebuchadnezzar II presumably called on these words to soothe his wife, homesick for her native land, with the promise of cultivating the wondrous Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

On all levels, this was the language of enterprise, the irrigation of lands and shipments of cultivated grain, and of fate foretold. Medical texts in Babylonia gave explicit instructions as to how to read a sheep’s liver to divine the future.
The full hardcopy set will cost you close to $2,000, but you can download pdfs of the whole thing for free: Chicago Assyrian Dictionary.

Don't let it bother you...

I never really knew what to do with a d12 either.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

This & that

It has been a pleasant weekend of staying inside and enjoying the air conditioning and doing little else. Today I did some research on a song that has interested me for a while and which I knew had been covered by multiple artists. So I went to the trouble of audio-ripping all the YouTube videos I could find so I could compare the different versions. I'm going to eventually do a blog post on it, but I'm thinking of trying an audio blog post rather than a written one. So it will take a little more production work, since I'll have to write it first and then create the audio version, which will involve recording my own voice and editing everything into an audio file. Still, I think it will be fun and something new to do.

I just found out today that Netflix now has the old Incredible Hulk TV series with Bill Bixby, which brightened my day. I've also been using Netflix to watch the series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I never watched a single one of those when it was extant. So I've been enjoying that.

I'm off almost all this coming week--except for Monday. I took it off so I could take my son to a Cub Scout day camp in Floresville Tuesday through Friday. I won't be staying there all day, just dropping him off and picking him up. He went last year also, so I know he'll be okay without me. The camp is good for getting some of their more difficult belt loops/pins that require more organization, such as swimming, BB gun shooting and archery.

So...one day of work and I'm on vacation for several days. Nice.

I haven't squealed on anyone yet for violating water restrictions, but I'm getting close. I'm getting especially annoyed by people who keep washing their driveways and stupid stuff like that. The water company is going to pull water from one of their reserves to try and stave stage 3 off as long as possible, but it's coming, folks. If you want to know what's coming up in stage 3 just click here. There is also a stage 4, but it's going to have to get pretty bad for that to happen.

If you want to see some current and historic aquifer stats click here. The aquifer is still about 30 feet above the record low from 1956. I'm glad my water comes from a different aquifer.

Also, it's hurricane season again, and if you're interested (like me) in tracking hurricanes, I found a good website for it. Just go to Stormpulse. Unfortunately, it looks like we're going to need a few bad storms to climb out of this drought.

Request for information

On the Eagles Live album from 1980, in the chatter/intro before they sing "Seven Bridges Road," they say the name of the man who taught them the song. Something like "our friend so-and-so taught us this song..." Whose name do they say?

I used to have this on cassette but the tape broke a long time ago and I can't remember who it was. Was it Steve Young (the writer of the song) or someone else?

So if you can supply me with this information, please leave a comment and I'll be much obliged.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bernstein, the motorcycle rider

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), the famous conductor, composer and pianist.
Arriving at an airport one day, Bernstein was asked by a photographer if he would mind posing for a picture astride a motorcycle. Bernstein objected. "I don't ride a motorcycle," he said. "It would be phony." The photographer tried to persuade him. He showed him the controls, explaining briefly how to operate them. "I'm sure you could ride it if you tried," he said encouragingly. Bernstein climbed onto the machine and, to the horror of his colleagues, shot off at top speed across the airfield. After a few other maneuvers he returned, grinning broadly. "Now you can take your picture," he announced. "I'm a motorcycle rider."
Here's another one that I also thought was funny.
Bernstein's father was criticized for not having given his talented son more encouragement when he was a child. He protested: "How was I to know he would grow up to be Leonard Bernstein?"

Cool picture I just found

Well, who knows how I end up doing these things, but I just checked Google Images for a photo of Theodore Sturgeon, since I had never seen a picture of him.

I have not read much of his stuff, but the little I have read--many years ago, now--deeply impressed me. I found his story "The Cosmic Rape" to be especially haunting.

So anyway, I did a search for his name and here's the first picture that came up.

Nice.

Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown

This morning I watched this documentary, made in 2008. Commentary provided by such well-known authors and movie-makers as Ramsey Campbell, John Carpenter, Neil Gaiman, Stuart Gordon, Robert M. Price, Peter Straub and Guillermo del Toro, along with HPL biographer S.T. Joshi.

Running 90 minutes, it serves as a good introduction to Lovecraft for those unfamiliar with him, and a biography of his life for those familiar only with his stories. It also covers the circumstances of his life and experiences during the creations of some of his more major stories.

Five stars.

I watched it on SnagFilms, which is a free channel provided by the Roku streaming device. It's also available on DVD from Amazon.com (see below), or it can be purchased for viewing from Amazon Instant Video, or you can watch it for free online at the SnagFilms website, just click Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown.


Thursday, June 09, 2011

Album update


Eagles: Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (1982)
James Young: City Slicker (1985)

I actually finished converting two records yesterday. I hadn't done any of this work in a long time, so I picked out two that were in good shape and wouldn't require much work, and two that were relatively close to being finished anyway.

Nothing really special here. I did the Eagles record so I'd have an option in case my Hotel California record has some problems. Also it has four tracks from The Long Run on it, and I don't have an probably will never get that one. And finally because it has "Seven Bridges Road" on it and I did want their version of that song. Someday I intend to get hold of all the covers of that song I can find and comparing them all, just for fun. I think I got this record as part of of the introductory offer for some record club back in the 80s because they didn't really have anything else I wanted.

The James Young record I bought at Hastings in Seguin as a new release because back then I was still a fairly big fan of Styx and I wanted to hear his "solo" work. I never heard anything from it on the radio and I guess there weren't any real hits from it. Nothing on it that sounds like it could have been a radio hit, to me. It has a couple of songs that will go on my big general favorites list, but nothing really great.

I've done a lot of free sampler downloading from Amazon lately and I took a break from building the big playlist to give them a trial listen. So far the only one that had anything I really liked was an EP from Dan Mangan called Robots vs. Indie Queens, especially the song "Robots." Also somewhat interesting is a collection from the industrial group Iszoloscope called beyond within and so on. But then I sometimes am in the mood for industrial and I realize that's probably not the thing of most readers of this blog.

There have been a few other downloads I'll probably get around to mentioning, but I want to listen to them more first.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

A trip around our solar system

In pictures.

A man and his cat

H.P. Lovecraft, in case you don't recognize him.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Wingsuit flying



A special suit that allows one to move 2 1/2 feet forward for every one foot of falling. I wish they had included his landing. A parachute is deployed for that.

Crazy.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

I think of you, and let it go...(#2)


I was poking around YouTube looking up some old videos when I came across this. The poster said it was a 2009 re-release, but it sounds French to me, which according to Wikipedia would make it a 2002 re-release. Anyway, it's definitely a new version and in my opinion Ms. Kerner is even hotter at 50 years old than she was at 20. I think her voice has improved, as well.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Images of Saturn from the Cassini probe

CASSINI MISSION from Chris Abbas on Vimeo.

The future of computer storage

At Physorg.com.
To store data, the PCM memory chips switch the alloy between a crystalline and amorphous state based on the application of heat through an electrical current. To read the data, the chips use a smaller current to determine which state the chalcogenide is in.

[...]

"We've found that you can build a much faster storage device, but in order to really make use of it, you have to change the software that manages it as well. Storage systems have evolved over the last 40 years to cater to disks, and disks are very, very slow," said Swanson. "Designing storage systems that can fully leverage technologies like PCM requires rethinking almost every aspect of how a computer system's software manages and accesses storage. Moneta gives us a window into the future of what computer storage systems are going to look like, and gives us the opportunity now to rethink how we design computer systems in response."
A new technology that is much faster than conventional hard drives and flash memory. Interesting.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Paying for advertising

Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923). French actress.
Clergymen across the United States...denounced Sarah Bernhardt from their pulpits as the "whore of Babylon," thereby ensuring massive attendance at her performances. The Episcopalian bishop of Chicago having delivered a particularly effective piece of publicity, Bernhardt arranged for her agent to send him a note and a bank draft. "Your Excellency," the note read, "I am accustomed, when I bring an attraction to your town, to spend $400 on advertising. As you have done half the advertising for me, I herewith enclose $200 for your parish."

UPS is pronounced "oops"

Check out the weekly Friday picture-post at The Daily WTF. Not the whole thing, just the first entry.

Not really related, but today after I finished my assignment I went by the Exxon at I10 & Hildebrand for a 99-cent 44-ounce Dr. Pepper. While attempting to pay for it, a UPS dude suddenly asked me if I was a meter reader. I told him yes. So he started talking.

I would like to say here that I am uncomfortable with and distrustful of people who talk too fast. I'm sure it's just the way they grew up or something, but people who speak too quickly (a subjective qualification, I admit) make me think they're trying to pull something over on me. Also I have a hard time sorting through their words to find their real meaning. This UPS driver was speaking far too quickly. At first I misunderstood him--he was saying something about the water restrictions and that he'd gotten busted for watering wrong or something. I told him that as far as reporting water violations went, I was no different than anyone else. I could call it in, but it would just be some guy calling some regular old line to narc on someone--I didn't have a special line to call that gave me added authority because I was an employee of the company.

But alas, I had misunderstood. He tried again, and this time I got it. He had a "vindictive neighbor" (he used this phrase several times) who had squealed on him--except that he hadn't actually violated the restrictions--his neighbor just wanted to jerk him around. His question was, did I have access to a computer from which I could look up the report and find out who had squealed on him.

Heh. No. I'm pretty sure there is no such thing, anyway. But wow, where was his head at that he thought he could talk me into divulging such information just because he said it was a bogus report‽

My conclusion: this guy was a whack-job. Also he had parked his van so that my truck and 3 other cars were blocked in until he left. A strange encounter.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

An appreciation for art

Tristan Bernard (1866-1947), French dramatist and novelist.
Bernard once won a newspaper competition by providing the best answer to the question: "If a fire broke out in the Louvre and you could save only one painting, which one would it be?" His reply was, "The one nearest the exit."

Playlist progress

Wow, there were a lot of J's. Finally up to the K's now, with k.d. lang.

Something I've thought about doing

Organizing your record collection with a spreadsheet.

In the late 80s, before I had my first computer, I created an index card catalog of my whole collection. At the time, it took up two of those little index card boxes. Back then I also had the physical collection itself quite organized, like this.

1. Male solo artists (alphabetically)
2. Female solo artists (alphabetically)
3. Groups (alphabetically)
4. Classical (not really sorted because most had multiple composers per record)
5. Odd stuff that didn't fit anywhere else (not really sorted, either)

It isn't organized very well anymore because first moving it from my dad's house and then eventually moving it from our old house to our new house pretty much wiped out the organization, and I just never have felt like fixing it. It would be a pretty big job.

I never bothered sorting by genre because I don't really think about that. For me there are really only two genres: stuff I like and stuff I don't like.

Not many details, but I thought this was interesting

German police are training vultures to find human remains. Quote: "The first bird, Sherlock, is currently being trained to love the putrid smell of dead human flesh."

Possibly also useful for hunting down stray zombies.

This is almost totally appropriate


What Flavour Are You? Cor blimey, I taste like Tea.Cor blimey, I taste like Tea.


I am a subtle flavour, quiet and polite, gentle, almost ambient. My presence in crowds will often go unnoticed. Best not to spill me on your clothes though, I can leave a nasty stain. What Flavour Are You?

Seen at A Trainwreck in Maxwell. I say "almost" because the er..."Britishness" of the graphic infers hot tea, which I don't like. Iced tea is my standard drink.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Never thought I'd see a video of this


Johnny Horton - The Battle of New Orleans. The part about the 'gator is pretty funny.

Interrobang


How 'bout that. It works.