Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Old church building


The video clip in the previous post was another from my phone, of course, taken last week at Sunset Station.  I tried to edit it with some humorous credits but for some reason Windows Movie Maker wouldn't save it.

So anyway here's an old church in the far background that I liked the looks of.  I mostly took the picture to remind myself because I thought I might put it in a story.  This was on the near southside, but I don't remember the street.

I have a few other work pix that I'll post soon, but I thought I'd spread them out into separate posts just to have something to do.

Train

video

Sunday, January 29, 2012

One example of a comment I'll delete

A screen cap of a notification email for The Briar Files.


Good grief.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Weekend update (It's a Jeep thing)

Knocked a couple of shows off the Netflix queue today, taking it easy on a Saturday afternoon.

First was Hobo With a Shotgun (2011).  This is a ridiculously over-the-top vigilante movie starring Rutger Hauer, who is one of my favorite tough-guy actors.  The gunplay is completely unrealistic and the gore technology is pure splatterpunk.  Also for some reason they filmed it with a bunch of different weird color filters, so at times everything is green, other times blue, and sometimes...uh...there's a word for this I'm looking for...can't think of it right now but I mean almost cartoonishly garish and bright.  Shotgun fu, lawn mower fu, noose fu, switchblade fu, and manhole cover fu.  Actually I thought the thing with the manhole covers was quite clever.

If you want to see a fake trailer from 2007 for this movie, here it is.  It pretty much encapsulates the whole movie in 2 minutes.  NSFW.


The other thing I watched today was a documentary called A Film Unfinished (2010).  It's about a Nazi propaganda film about the Warsaw ghetto which was never finished and was found--in bits and pieces--over the course of many years in the Nazi archives after the war.  It was intended to show that Jews were living in a mixture of opulence and poverty in the ghetto--that is--some lived in opulence and crassly ignored those who were starving.  Of course, it was all lies and manipulation and the scenes were staged; anyone who failed to perform to expectations was beaten or killed.  Here's a trailer.



Some people might think they know enough about World War 2 and the aftermath.  I think this is a foolish position.  Many parts of the world are only a hair's breadth away from, and some have continued to engage in, genocides of various sorts.  The Earth's population as a whole still hasn't learned.  I highly recommend this documentary, but I will also warn that due to its graphic and realistic nature, it is absolutely not for children (just in case you're not smart enough to be aware of that on your own).  Next up on my Nazi propaganda movie list is Triumph of the Will.  I've heard a lot about it, but haven't seen it yet.

This past week I also finished up Star Trek:  Enterprise.  My old opinion that the writers just killed this show because they got tired and ran out of ideas was only reinforced by seeing the last season again.  I was especially annoyed by the two "mirror universe" episodes which had no overlap with the "our universe" characters.  Utterly pointless.  I've now begun watching Farscape, which I've seen some of when it was being erratically aired on Sci-Fi, and which I liked a lot.

Well, I traded in my old Ford Ranger this week.  It had 191,000+ miles on it, and had several problems, the most recent of which was the transmission was beginning to get funky.  My wife and I went to DriveTime yesterday and got a Jeep Liberty, a small SUV.  This one has a 4-cylinder and a manual transmission so it should get much better mileage than the Ranger did with its V-6 automatic.  I somehow reached 22 mpg one time with the Ranger; most of the time I got 19-20.  The Jeep is rated for 24 highway, and almost all of my driving is highway.  This is our third vehicle from DriveTime so I guess that says something about them (first, a Dodge Durango for my wife, which we wore out and traded for her current Ford Freestar minivan).  Oh yeah, one other problem with the Ranger was that the kids were having a hard time cramming themselves into it and I wanted something with room for them so no one had to climb into that back "extended cab" part.  I finally have an air conditioner again!  The a/c was one of the first things to go, about 2 years ago.  A couple of months ago the fan also stopped blowing so I couldn't even heat the thing on cold days.

Another thing I like about the Jeep is that "it ain't got no power nothin'," as one of my in-laws has said.  Mirrors, doors, windows, locks, seat adjustments...all manual.  This is my first Jeep, so we'll see how it goes.

The Big Dog

An animated gif that helps demonstrate how huge some stars are, here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Genius...


Art posters with the topic, "What if modern movies had been made decades ago?"  Found here, along with several others of a similar ilk.

Monday, January 16, 2012

How to listen to classical music

A 20-minute lecture/demonstration by conductor/pianist Benjamin Zander.  I have known for a long time that my biggest problem with listening to classical music is because my musical attention span is too short, having grown up listening to pop (which includes country), and the phrases are much longer with most classical pieces.

This is informative and entertaining, and quite funny.  I really liked the part about raising one's eyebrows to indicate a deceptive cadence.  That really cracked me up.  It reminds me of one time when someone at church asked me how I could hit the high notes when I'm leading singing.  I told them, "I stand on my tiptoes."  Which is partly a joke, and partly the literal truth.*





*But since I'm a tenor, hitting the high notes isn't that hard. The low notes are what really tear my voice up.

Oh... waugghhh!!! YEEEAAHHHH!!!

If you can listen to this without laughing, you might want to get yourself checked.

David Lee Roth's vocal track isolated from the rest of the song on Runnin' with the Devil.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Good link: CBS Radio Mystery Theater

I don't usually post unsolicited links that I receive by email, but this is an exception because I am definitely going to make use of it.  I have taken to listening to old radio shows during my afternoon commute home, and I recently was sent the link for a very cool site:  CBS Radio Mystery Theater.
Enjoy all 1,399 episodes of CBS Radio Mystery Theater old time radio free! You can stream or download old radio shows in MP3 format or copy radio shows to CD. We're big fans of Radio Mystery Theater and by offering shows from the golden age of radio for free, we keep the spirit of the old time radio alive!
Check it out.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Weekend update

This has nothing to do with the Mayan calendar, but I think it must still surely be a sign of the end times.

I got behind on my usual blog reading this week due to just being too busy and working more than I rightly should.  Also my internet service was out for a while last night, which was a real drag.  However it was back at full force this morning and I did nothing but rest today.  Finished watching the anime series "Claymore."  Well, I gave it 3 stars.  It started out with a halfway decent story and had some character development but the last half or so was pretty much just anime action without any real story.  I read up a little about the original manga, and I think it would have been better if they'd more closely followed the manga and maybe made 52 episodes instead of only 26.

My wife's grandfather passed away this week, not unexpectedly since he'd been in declining health for a long time and had spent the last year in a nursing home.  We inherited one of his few remaining possessions:  a 26-inch flat-screen TV that he'd purchased about 3 years ago.  So now I have a good TV in the bedroom, which is where I watch most of the shows that I like but no one else does (anime, for example).

The old TV I was using was the one I bought when I was truck driving, and it was a very small (15-inch, I think) conventional CRT model.  The color had gone off some time ago and all the reds had pretty much shifted out, which made some things look kind of strange.  For example, black & white shows were more of a purple-scale than a grayscale, and I didn't watch them.  I think the last B&W thing I watched before it went bad was Nosferatu, and that was quite some time ago.  So anyway, now I'm going to hit some of the old shows like the complete run of Twilight Zone.  I hardly ever watched the show when it was rerun when I was a kid so most of it will be new to me.

I did see the one with Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Taylor, the one with Burgess Meredith when his glasses broke, the one with the good-looking woman who was the weird one because everyone else looked like monster pigs, and especially the one with the doll.  You know which one.  That one gave me nightmares when I was a kid, probably because I already had a very strong aversion to any dolls larger than an action figure G.I. Joe.  I still don't like dolls.  They creep me out.  Also there was one with the guy who played Sargent Carter on Gomer Pyle that I remember spooking me quite a bit, too, way back then.  I think I also saw the one with Captain Kirk and the gremlin, but I'm not sure.  I did see the movie version with John Lithgow.

Also I just saw that Netflix now has the entire run of Rawhide, so I'm going to watch at least a few of those.  I've never seen any of the shows with Clint Eastwood and I've always wanted to see those.

Another nice thing about the new TV is that it's big enough that I can now read subtitles, so it will be much easier to watch the subtitled anime from Crunchyroll.  I might even watch "Le Femme Nikita" again now that I can read the subtitles.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Covers #3: Don't Fear the Reaper

First of all, I am aware that all of these versions, including the original, need more cowbell. There: I said it, so you don't have to. Now, can we all agree that the cowbell skit was a great moment in SNL comedy and move on with our lives? Thanks.

Some of these versions aren't really noteworthy except to help the exceptions stand out. Original Blue Öyster Cult, from Agents of Fortune, 1976. This is the longer album version, not the radio edit.




Monday, January 09, 2012

Working

I'm working on a new "covers" post, and I'm finding a lot of covers for this particular song--and it's not "Yesterday." I think I'll leave that one alone. Maybe a dozen so far? I didn't count. Anyway, I'm not finished researching it yet. Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Found knives


In the course of my job I often come across interesting items just a-layin' around.  For example, yesterday I was in a neighborhood where they were doing junk collecting and I found a box full of random Lego pieces that someone was throwing out.  I brought the whole box home, which to my son was like getting a late Christmas gift.  I sometimes find cash, although it's most often coinage or dollar bills.  On two occasions I've found a twenty and a five in close proximity, and once I found two twenties just blowing down the street one very windy day.  I had to chase one of them.

I've also found several knives, however, most of them are Chinese junk.  They have plastic bolsters, the blades are wobbly and the lock isn't positive.  I do pick these up but just throw them in my toolbox.  I wouldn't use them for anything but tackle box knives--by which I mean I wouldn't be bothered much if I accidentally dropped one in the creek while I'm fishing.

However, I have found two very good knives which I thought I'd show because one of them I found just today.

The upper knife in the photo I found last year sometime, and I carried it for a while even though the belt clip wasn't as tight as it should have been.  And then I snagged the clip on something and bent it even worse, which you might be able to see in the photo.  I haven't carried it since then, but if I can find a small enough Torx driver I can take the clip off and bend it back the way it should be.  It's a Gerber with an assisted-opening 3" semi-serrated lockblade.  It's a great general-purpose medium-duty knife, and I did use it several times to cut landscaping fabric that some idiots insist on covering their meters with.  The blade locks both opened and closed, with a button on the bolster that releases it.  So as soon as I can find a proper Torx driver, it will see use again.

The lower knife I found just today, and is a Swiss Army knife "Forester" model, if I read their website correctly.  The knife blade and the large screwdriver/bottle opener both lock.  There is nothing wrong with this knife except that it's missing the toothpick and the tweezer, and those can be replaced.  I do need to clean it up a little and apply a tiny squirt of Rem oil or two to smooth out the action, but that's about it.  I couldn't believe it when I saw this knife just lying in the street and immediately noticed the SAK logo on the bolster.  They sell on the Victorinox website for $42.  The blade and the saw are both still extremely sharp.  I've never had a SAK that failed to hold an excellent edge.

P.S.  And now I have TWO corkscrews!