Sunday, July 31, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
Although I was kind of a mission buff from the time I was a kid, I had never heard of this one until I noticed the historical marker one day while working on Mission Road.
The Mission San Francisco Xavier de Nájera. Now it's a golf course. And some loser had to tag it, of course. It's easy to miss this marker because it's behind a mesquite tree when northbound on Mission Road, and partly covered by draping mesquite limbs when southbound.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
This series along with the movies has generated a lot of really good music, and there are several CD soundtracks available.
The music for the opening and ending themes of this series was written by Japanese composer Yoko Kanno. The lyrics for this song were written by Origa and Shanti Snyder, and sung by Origa.
Origa, real name Ol'ga Vital'evna Yakovleva, is Russian but works mostly in Japan. The lyrics of this song are mostly in Russian, with some English and a little Latin. This following is the only version of the opening I could find on YouTube. Unfortunately the username of the person who uploaded it is overlayed on the entire video, which is annoying but can't be helped.
I took this one last week while killing a few minutes before going back to the office. Now, I don't know much about Catholic iconography, but my question is not about the woman surrounded by flames. My question is: What is that scary-looking thing crawling out of the earth beneath her?
P.S. I'm almost certain this mural is older than the "Go Spurs Go" slogan. I think that was added on to the kid's t-shirt as an afterthought.
This was amusing.
Yesterday I loaded up my phone with a bunch of newer mp3s so I could play them as I was working. So I was going along and came to a house where a 20-something guy was doing some yard work. He paused as I read his meter, then he said, "Man, that's metal metal, isn't it? Not just rock metal."
Unfortunately my phone only displays the track title and not the artist, unless I go through the whole list and look it up. I couldn't remember who did the song by just looking at the title, so I took a shot and said, "Yeah, it's a group from Finland or France or somewhere. It's like a combination of doom metal and death metal, but they sing instead of just doing the cookie monster vocals."
"Cool...cool," he said, and went back to his work.
I gotta remember that: metal metal, not just rock metal.
However, later on it came to me who the group was, and I was mistaken. It was Woods of Ypres, who are from Canada. And here's the song that was playing.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
I was refreshing the mp3s on my phone today and was reminded that I had taken several photos recently. Here's one from last Tuesday, 7:36 AM. I'm surprised it came out at all, but if you enlarge it you should be able to see the moon above the tower. Taken from Sunset Station.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I've posted something about that Concepción Park for past couple of months, every time I've done my regular cycle 17 route. I did it again last week.
This time, I was given a "need read" note for that meter at the park which I had said was going to be a "lost" meter. A "need read" note is their way of saying, "We all know you could read this meter if you weren't such a lazy piece of ****, so read it this time." For some reason, they can't understand that when a person has been reading a meter unfailingly every month for the past 4 years and suddenly says he can't read it anymore, he really means he can't read it anymore.
I find these little notes to be very insulting.
I told them before I left that morning that that little note wasn't going to do them any good. I still wasn't going to read that meter. I was right.
So yesterday I finished early and had to kill a few minutes before I went back to the office, so I parked in a shady spot on Theo--that is, Theo Parkway, which used to be Theo Avenue--and as I was sitting there another company vehicle came slowly by, then threw a U-turn and came back. For a minute I thought maybe I was in trouble, but he rolled his window down and asked me if I knew that route.
I told him that although I had done that route already last week, yes I was in fact the guy who was turning in that meter as "removed." "Where is it?" he asked. "I can show you more or less where it was," I said. So I drove him around and I was very amused that when he jumped out of his truck (actually one of those Nitro things) he had his hook with him, as if he thought he was going to immediately find it and solve the problem. He didn't. So I showed him, based on where the old parking lot is, about in the general area where it had been before.
"No problem, bro," he said. "We can't find it, I'll just write up a work order and turn it over to the heavy equipment guys." "So what do they do with it?" I asked. He shrugged. "I don't know. Once I turn it over to them, it's not my problem."
And there, folks, in that one sentence, is the de facto mission statement of your w4t3r company.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Chris is a west Texas pipe smoking blogger who hosts The Daily Briar, wherein he discusses his ongoing education about and appreciation of wine, and who writes about mixing pipe smoking with wines and beers, which I find interesting.
I am sometimes partial to a bottle of Shiner Bock myself, especially in the company of a pipe of Bayou Night. Although I shudder to mention it, Chris has even found a liking for Shiner's Ruby Redbird.
I guess you need to like grapefruit before you can like a beer with grapefruit juice in it, so that pretty much puts me out of the picture. I can't even imagine such a thing.
Anyway, interesting reading! Click and go read.
This post is for the Pipe Smoking Bloggers event #1.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
So I haven't posted anything in the last couple of days, but I've been working on a new installment for my vampire hunter story. The funny thing is, it isn't either of the two ideas I've been mulling over. It just sort of sprang itself on me sideways.
Been listening to some videos too. Here's one that I really like, but it's quite popular so chances are you've already heard it. I really like the image of all the glasses with the water vibrating in them. I could watch a video of just that.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
The prosaic and unimaginative told me such a thing could not exist--when they dared even to speak of it at all. Indeed, there were those who shuddered and averted their gaze when I dared even to hint at such a thing. Still, I refused to be denied, searching for clues where most others seldom ventured to tread.
Now they look at me askance, speaking together in hushed whispers of one such as I who dared the unimaginable; one who has laughed in the face of the maddened universe; one who now possesses...the foon!!!
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Here's an unusual choice for anime theme music. The music is in English, by an American band, who until I saw this show I had never heard of. Mr. Big is a rock band from Los Angeles, founded in the late 80s. They've had many hits but no real chart-toppers in the U.S. They are much more popular in Japan than in the U.S.
Even this short 80-second theme version of their song "Shine" really caught my ear; it was stuck in my head for days after I first heard it. I went to Amazon and bought the mp3 and it's on my favorites list and almost always can be found on my mp3 player. "Shine" went to #1 on the Japan charts and was from their 2001 album Actual Size.
This ending theme version was the only one I could find on YouTube, except for one which had been muted by YouTube because of copyright problems. I don't know why they left this one alone. I was not able to find a "clean" version, and if my ears don't mistake me, it's in mono. So here it is...
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Hellsing. This is among my most favoritest anime shows. I got lucky and caught it from the very beginning when it was being aired on one of the movie channels I had subscribed to several years ago. At the time, I had never heard of it and was not watching anything anime yet, I don't think. They showed two episodes per night, back to back, so they covered the whole series in one week. Long-time readers may remember the "guns of Hellsing" post that I had on my other blog when I was at Eponym: the post which drew so much traffic that it continuously crashed my bandwidth until I was finally forced to delete it. Now that I'm back on Blogger, I could put that post back up, and this time make it more detailed and accurate, but I also kind of got tired of the fanboys leaving stupid comments and arguing over insignificant details. So I think I'll just let it die. I still have all the graphics saved, though. Maybe I'll figure out some other way to regurgitate them.
Anyone who has any awareness of the music industry at all knows that copyright laws around the world are, pardon my language, a massive cl*st*rf***. For this reason, the Hellsing DVD releases don't have the same music everywhere in the world, but I'm not sure exactly how it all plays out. I do know that the German release has completely different opening and ending themes, which I've listened to and am not terribly impressed. The music under discussion in this post is on the original Japanese release, the U.S. release, and I found out accidentally, the Spanish release.
So without further ado, the short opening theme version. The "clean" version, without credits.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
It's set on a wild and desolate planet called Gunsmoke, and is very much an Old West kind of plot, but with many science fiction elements. The protagonist, called Vash the Stampede, is a mysterious nomadic character with a bounty on his head, who everyone believes is a bad guy but he's actually the good guy. Just about everyone on the planet carries a personal firearm of some kind, because it's a dangerous, mostly lawless place. The firearms themselves are also interesting in their own right. Some of them are real guns, others are not necessarily real, but are realistic, and others are quite fanciful. It seems that no two characters ever use the same kind of gun. Vash himself carries a large revolver that I would call realistic yet fanciful. It uses the common .45 Long Colt cartridge, yet fires from the bottom of the cylinder instead of the top (unusual, but there are real revolvers like that). However, that part on top houses another kind of entirely different weapon that has nothing to do with conventional firearms.
But now, on to the music...
Monday, July 18, 2011
Saturday, July 16, 2011
It's that time of year when I kind of lose the ability to think clearly. I'm pretty sure it's working in this heat so much. When I get home, I just go into a semi-vegetable state and don't think or do anything. This was the hardest week of the month also, when most of my hardest and longest routes all come together at once. I'm just waiting for September, when the heat should start slacking off a little.
I have been investigating a lot of music that's new to me via YouTube. One new metal group that I'm definitely going to get into is Amorphis, at the suggestion of Albatross. The research I've been doing on anime themes has also sent me in some new directions. I think I've listened to more non-English lyrics this week than in all the rest of my life put together.
Does anyone remember a cartoon called ReBoot? One of the protagonists, a female character, was named Dot Matrix, heh. I think it was the first ever computer-animated TV series, back in 1994. Netflix now has it. I watched a few minutes of it yesterday and it just looks godawful now. But back then I watched it just because the animation was so fascinating. Netflix also now has Home Movies, which I always liked, but I think I've seen them all by now from airing on Adult Swim. I finally finished the Arrancar story arc on Bleach. Man. Although there were some digressions*, when that story arc came to an end, I realized that only at that point had the original beginning story line come to a real conclusion, at 300+ episodes. I should say that I haven't seen all 300+ shows because there are several seasons that aren't available from Crunchyroll, I guess because those are the ones that are currently being aired on TV here in the U.S. It will be interesting, when they eventually get up to the ones I've seen ahead of time, to see how the English overdubbing comes out different from the subtitling. Oh yeah, I've also been doing some reading at the Bleach Wiki.
I've been buying those big drinks from Valero that come with a free mp3 download credit for Rhapsody. I only need one more and I can get the new Stevie Nicks album. Haven't heard any of her stuff in a long time, so I thought I'd use these credits to get it for free.
So...a few new videos beyond the jump...
Friday, July 15, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
And so, the opening theme...
I noticed that in switching (finally) to the new post editor so I can use the jump break button, when I edited the video posts it screwed up the paragraph formatting on the old posts. I'm not going to fix all that. Not a big enough deal.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Imagine if you're storming Utah or Omaha beach during the Normandy Invasion in 1944, you reach the cities of Bayeux or St. Vigor le Grand and you have no way of communicating with the locals.
In World War II, the U.S. Army wasn't quite concerned about communication skills, with understanding. However, there was an attempt in 1943 to teach American soldiers enough foreign language for basic interraction. Former Sulphur resident Gary Doucet found this out, while combing through a flea market in Winnie, Texas.
Doucet, who is an avid collector of vintage vinyl records, stumbled upon a World War II Audio teaching aid in near mint condition, which he considers to be one of his prized possessions.
"I've been collecting records for several years and enjoy coming across vintage items," he said. "But this one, was really unusual. I basically came upon an old beat up box at this flea market in Texas. Inside this tattered box was a few old 78s in their original sleeve.
"When I reached the last record, the memo sheet was underneath," he continued. "It was miraculous that the record and the memo survived over 60 years."
Interesting. More at Collecting Vinyl Records.
By the way, "OVA" stands for "original video animation" and just means "direct to video." It was released direct to DVD without first being released to either TV or theater.
So, although the original Hellsing uses the same opening and ending themes throughout its 13 episodes, Hellsing OVA uses different theme music for each episode. Much of it was written by Hayato Matsuo, such as this one, titled "Merche Funebre" or "Funeral March." It was performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra.
Most of episode 2 shows the slaughter of huge numbers of Hellsing soldiers by their enemies, the vampires. It was only fitting that the ending of this episode would depict their mass funeral. The music runs almost 3 minutes, during which the Japanese credits roll over background scenes of the funeral proceedings without any voice or other sound effects. The video version below is the "clean" ending, that is, the ending theme without credits rolling over it. This is a bonus feature that is quite common to anime DVD releases. I'm pretty sure all the Hellsing DVDs (of either series) include either clean openings or endings, or both.
Saturday, July 09, 2011
So hey, blog fodder!
Bleach has been running for about 15 seasons now, as far as I know, and has changed theme music many times. However, it doesn't change music specifically with the seasons. I haven't ever been able to figure out exactly why it changes when it does. Sometimes it seems the new music indicates a shift in the story arc, sometimes it doesn't.
Also, the theme music of most anime that I am aware of uses shortened versions of previously released songs. Bleach, for example, generally uses 90-second versions for the opening theme and 60-second versions for the ending theme. The opening is always a different song from the ending.
"Asterisk" was a 2005 hit by the Okinawan band Orange Range. Their music is sort of alt-rock with some rap thrown in (to the best of my knowledge). It went to #1 on the Japanese charts and stayed in the top 20 for 22 weeks. It was used as the Bleach opening theme for episodes 1-25.
Here's the opening theme version for comparison.
I've been using the Roku to watch Crunchyroll, which is an anime website/channel. So I've skipped well ahead of where Bleach is being aired now in the U.S., and begun watching season 14 episodes with subtitles.
That guy above is Tōshirō Hitsugaya. He's technically a secondary character, but he's one of the more prominent of the "secondary" characters and although he didn't appear much in the beginning, he has since become a major part of many story arcs. Also, one of the Bleach movies was made specifically about him (The Diamond Dust Rebellion).
Anyway, as I was watching yesterday he had what I think is the best Bleach line ever: "I didn't come here to fight you. I came here to violently kill you."
Oh yeah, he's one of the good guys.
Friday, July 08, 2011
Fall, Obsidian Night is a 2010 release from funeral doom metal band Remembrance. They're from France, but lyrics are (apparently) in English. As is usual with these kinds of vocals, I can't understand anything they're saying, but I don't really think of these vocals as lyrical vocals. I think of them more as a specialized form of vocalese. All the lyrics can be found online and, as expected, "place an emphasis on evoking a sense of emptiness and despair."
Instrumentation includes both electric and acoustic guitars as well as synthesizers. Both male and female vocals are used.
I love this music.Here's the only purely instrumental track from the album, "Our Memories are Made of Stones."
The CD is available via Amazon but from third-party sellers and the prices are high. The mp3 download is quite cheap.
Monday, July 04, 2011
This morning I watched Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995). I'm sure this isn't something new to most, and in fact I think I saw it myself once a long time ago, but I didn't remember anything about it except the part where Harker says, "But Lucy...I'm British!"
Was this the only movie that Mel Brooks and Leslie Nielsen made together? It's the only one I know of. Just wondering.
It didn't do well as far as making money goes, but I really enjoyed it. 4 stars.
Of course this is a send-up of classic vampire movies regarding Count Dracula himself. That skinny little guy who played Renfield was also great. I've seen him numerous times and I think this was his best performance ever.
This movie had sort of a kitchen sink approach to vampire characteristics.*
- Flight in human form: yes, or at least sort of a controlled glide.
- Shape change: yes, bat only, but keeps (miniaturized) human head. Can fly in bat form.
- Appearance: attractive/normal. Looks strange with high Oldman-style hairdo but then reveals that the apparent hairdo is actually a hat.
- Mind control: yes, limited. Has trouble separately controlling two people in the same room.
- Fangs: retractable.
- Fears/repelled by: garlic, cross.
- Killed by: stake (Lucy), sunlight (Dracula).
- Increased strength.
- Enters house without being invited.
- Sleeps in a coffin.
- Creates new vampire by killing (drinking blood to the death), but not all kills result in new vampire.
A halfway-decent knowledge of previous vampire movies help improve the humor; some jokes are related to more general vampire lore. Also, I was surprised by a brief appearance at the beginning by Avery Schreiber, who I best remember as Mister Evil from The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine.
I also started re-watching a movie that I watched a few weeks ago and didn't mention in much detail so I could make notes on it. I'll get to that one again soon.
*I kept jotting down notes in a little notebook. My wife says, "What are you doing?" I answer, "Taking notes." Wife: "..." I guess that's just another odd little quirk of mine she's gotten used to.
For those of you with country-ish leanings in your music preferences, here's a nice sampler that might freshen up your mp3 player of choice just a bit. This is from 2010, but I missed it when it was released last year.
Not all country, mind you. Some rock & some pop. Unlike many Amazon samplers, there are some names you'll probably recognize.
When I was a kid, a friend of mine and I used to play with flourescent tubes under power lines. Some people didn't believe me when I told them the tubes would light up.
Check out the Richard Box website.
FYI, the small ones (about 7-8 inches long) that are made for battery-powered lanterns will glow so bright you can sit down and read by them. The big ones didn't glow quite so bright, but were bright enough that they were clearly visible in the darkness.
Bruno Busch, a farmer on Palo Alto Road, killed a seven-foot alligator, thus clearing the mystery of the disappearance of young pigs from his farm.
From San Antonio Remembers.
It might be good for people in the area--especially the south side--to remember that alligators are not "out of place" animals around here.
Sunday, July 03, 2011
Saturday, July 02, 2011
Iron Maiden - Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
I bought this one based partly on listening to samples at Amazon, and also because I read in more than one place that they had heavily used synthesizers, so I thought the sound of this one might appeal to me more.
I really like it. So far my favorite track is "Can I Play With Madness."
I'm sure I'll get more of their stuff in the future, but for now I'm probably going to go in a completely different direction for the next couple of albums that I'll get with my self-imposed music allowance.
Today I watched The 50 Worst Movies Ever Made. It suffered from its compactness; running only 1 hour, they could only do about a minute per movie, and for some that just wasn't enough. For others, it was far too much. I think it would have benefited from running 2 hours or maybe even 3, in 1-hour episodes like a mini-series.
If you're a fan of badfilms, then it might be good just to check on some movies that you didn't know about. I'd recommend keeping a list and writing the titles down as you go. There are a few of those movies that I'd like to see. I might have to watch it again, in fact, just so I can actually make this list. (Future blog post!)
I must confess that it couldn't entirely hold my interest; I dozed off at about #15 and didn't wake up until #1.
In other news, Netflix now has available for streaming ST:TNG, ST:Voyager and ST:Enterprise. I'm pretty much burned out on ST:TNG by now. I sometimes turn it on at night when they're showing it on Syfy so I can have something familiar on while I go to sleep. I've seen all the Voyagers, I think, when it was extant but I am going to enjoy watching it again. I never saw all the Enterprise shows. I know it was hated by lots of fans but I never had any big problems with it, except possibly for the deus ex machina plots when the people from the distant future kept popping in to fix things. Actually, the time-travel plots from Voyager also annoyed me--it seems to me to be a lame excuse to fix a plot line gone awry. But, you know, Seven of Nine (and T'Pol).
Anyway, so far DS9 is not available for streaming, although it is available on DVD.
A new update on my YouTube list. The #1 has now broken 1,500 views so I thought I'd do this again, since it will be a little different. Parentheses indicate the rank at the previous update.
1. H.R. Pufnstuf theme song (same)
2. Kathy Dalton - I Need You Tonight (same)
3. H.R. Pufnstuf theme song reprise (same)
4. H.R. Pufnstuf - Ice Cold Lemonade (same)
5. H.R. Pufnstuf - End of the Road (same)
6. H.R. Pufnstuf - Pronouns (same)
7. The song of a chuck-will's-widow (previously not in the top 10)
8. H.R. Pufnstuf - Oranges, Smoranges (same)
9. Kathy Dalton - Pour Your Wine (previously #7)
10. H.R. Pufnstuf - I'm So Happy to Be Here (previously not in the top 10)
Fallen out of the top 10 are:
Kathy Dalton - Ride Ride Ride (previously #10, now #11)
First Quest: The Music Begins (previously #9, now #13; #12 is Kathy Dalton - Justine)
It's nice to see that my recording of the chuck-will's-widow is moving up the list. I've been hearing some barred owls lately and I hope to get a decent recording before too long.