Sunday, August 31, 2008

Nothing much Sunday

Grilled some hamburgers today, and built a teeny-tiny "campfire" so the kids could roast marshmallows. Ripped a couple of tapes (forgotten gems by Jeff Beck) and had a potluck lunch at church today. Have a usb hard drive on order and should be able to order a usb turntable before too long--then the vintage album ripping is going to get serious.

Got a call from my dad today, he tracked down the hymnal that has "Angel Band" in it. I'm looking forward to seeing it and seeing what other great old songs might be in it.

Tomorrow will probably be pretty slow, too. I have been so beaten down by working outside in this heat that I just don't have the heart to do anything recreational outside right now. Maybe in a few weeks or a month when it cools off a little.

If Lovecraft had been a Whitman's Sampler copywriter

At McSweeney's Internet Tendency:
Chocolate Cherry Cordial

You must not think me mad when I tell you what I found below the thin shell of chocolate used to disguise this bonbon's true face. Yes! Hidden beneath its rich exterior is a hideously moist cherry cordial! What deranged architect could have engineered this non-Euclidean aberration? I dare not speculate.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

And this is the kind of song I have written

Since I'm in a rare mood tonight, here's one of the last sets of lyrics I committed to paper. The first stanza and chorus were written sometime in the mid-late 80s, the last two stanzas several years later. It took a while. I never have been able to think of a title for it.

Monday took me by surprise
Tuesday didn't find me any more wise
Wednesday came and Thursday went
I thanked God for Friday, but it wasn't heaven sent
Saturday took too long, everything went all wrong
Then Sunday came and I still felt the same

So take me by the hand
Lead me to the promised land
Take the long way home
Let the tears fill up my eyes
I've come a long, long way
From those hometown days
But I still can't say goodbye
Gotta find my way,
Gotta find my wings and fly

Heaven only knows the score
I haven't tried to keep track of things since 1984
I don't have much to do or say
I don't think that it would really matter much anyway
It makes no difference at all if I run or if I crawl
Or if I fly so high I touch the sun


I feel like a pair of old blue jeans
Kinda comfortable, faded and frayed
I get a misty kind of laid-back feeling
When those psychedelic blues are played
Sometimes I think that I was born too late
Sometimes it seems that I was born too soon
Sometimes at night I to hide away
On the dark side of the moon
I'm too far gone to be confused, I think I paid someone else's dues
Or maybe someone else paid my dues for me

This is the kind of song I wish I could write

After converting the old tape of "Eldorado to the Moon" and moving the file into a "misc" directory, I loaded up the directory and am listening to it. Here's one song that I can't hear without getting choked up. This is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard.

I Try by Macy Gray
Games, changes and fears
When will they go from here
When will they stop
I believe that fate has brought us here
And we should be together, babe
But we're not
I play it off, but I'm dreaming of you
I'll keep my cool, but I'm feigning

I try to say goodbye and I choke
Try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it, it's clear
My world crumbles when you are not near
Goodbye and I choke
I try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it, it's clear
My world crumbles when you are not near

I may appear to be free
But I'm just a prisoner of your love
And I may seem all right and smile when you leave
But my smiles are just a front
Just a front, hey
I play it off, but I'm dreaming of you
I'll keep my cool, but I'm feigning

I try to say goodbye and I choke
Try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it, it's clear
My world crumbles when you are not near
Goodbye and I choke
I try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it, it's clear
My world crumbles when you are not near
Here is my confession
May I be your possession
Boy, I need your touch
Your love kisses and such
With all my might I try
But this I can't deny

I play it off, but I'm dreaming of you
(but I'm dreaming of you babe)
I'll keep my cool, but I'm feigning

I try to say goodbye and I choke (yeah)
Try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide, it's clear
My world crumbles when you are not near
(when you are not near aahh)
Goodbye and I choke (yeah, yeah, yeah)
I try to walk away and I stumble (hey, hey, hey)
Though I try to hide it, it's clear (sick of love)
My world crumbles when you are not near (your love, kisses and)

Goodbye and I choke (I'm choking)
I try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it, it's clear
My world crumbles when you are not near
(when you are not there, yeah, yeah yeah)
Yeah, yeah..

Take right off into the starry skies...

A long time ago I used to tape songs from a local radio program called Sunday Night Session. It's on Sunday nights (naturally) on the public radio station KSTX, and it's an hour-long program of "Texas music." One night I captured this really cool song by Michael Nesmith, but I had trouble tracking down the details, lyrics, etc. Don't know why. But today my daughter came across the old tape and it got me looking again. Today I finally succeeded in nailing down the album.

The Newer Stuff by Michael Nesmith is the album I've been looking for, and the song is "Eldorado to the Moon." The song has a calypso kind of beat, with very sweet vocal harmonies in the chorus. And here are the lyrics.
We know someday mankind will travel to the stars
But it will not be done in tiny compact cars
The interstellar trip would take a hundred years
And we don't want to cramp your pretty legs up, dears

So I will pick you up
About a quarter to
And we will pick up speed as we hit the hill
And then I'll drop the Caddy into overdrive
And we will take right off into the starry skies

We got a million dollars worth of ethel gas
And a reservation for the room
Tonight we're gonna fly the Eldorado to the moon
We're gonna fly the Eldorado to the moon

I know the Soviets (la la la la)
They must be most upset (nyet nyet nyet nyet)
Because they cannot build a car like me El-D yet
It's got the fireplace
It's got the swimming pool
If we need extra space, it's got the backseat, too

We got a million dollars worth of ethel gas
And a reservation for the room
Tonight we're gonna fly the Eldorado to the moon
We're gonna fly the Eldorado to the moon

Cthulhu statue by Paul Carrick

At The Nightserpent Blog.

So we don't have to...

Dan O'Brien Reviews Roseanne Barr’s Blog.

I thought she was just another wanna-be celebrity *ssh*l*. I didn't realize she is actually a total raving lunatic.

Friday, August 29, 2008

What is fusion, anyway?

Today I finished work early enough to hear the last hour or so of the lunch time special on KRTU. This week's focus has been on various "jazz fusion" musicians and groups. Today I got to hear some Pat Metheny, which is always nice and unusual on KRTU since they usually stick to more "classical" jazz. So it reminded me that I thought I had some dub tapes of Metheny. I found one of them and converted them to mp3 today. I also logged back into and checked my queue, and yes I have already added several of his to the queue so I'll be getting the CDs before too long.

Ripped today was American Garage of 1980 and Offramp of 1982. Now these are both dubs of records, so the quality isn't up to CD-level, but they will get me by for now because they still sound pretty good. I know I used to have a dub of As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls also, but haven't been able to find that one. All three of these are in the queue, as well as Pat Metheny Group's eponymous debut album. I also currently own CDs of the Group's Still Life (Talking), Metheny's Secret Story, and the album Question and Answer that Metheny made with Dave Holland and Roy Haynes. Still Life is one of my favorite albums.

It seems to be a quirk I have of being able to remember the place and circumstance of almost every book and music purchase I have ever made. I didn't purchase these exactly, but I should still be able to remember from whom I got the albums to create the dub tapes. But I can't. I have no idea who owned these records from which I made the tapes. It strikes me as quite strange. It must have been sometime around the very late 80s or early 90s, but I just can't remember.

Well, I've been trying to think of something clever or at least intelligible to write for the next installment of the Digital Collection (tentatively subtitled "If you want to get into it, you've got to get out of it"), but since nothing much has come to me I've just been putting it off. Also I'm trying to think of another book review. I've already picked out the book, and it relates to music, I'm just trying to think of something interesting to write about it. I looked for it on Amazon today and discovered it's another book of mine that has become a collectible, with used prices starting at $66. Here's a sneak peek at the cover.

I got your 'KAPOW!' right here!

via Oddee

Thursday, August 28, 2008


The only word I could utter when it was over. While driving home today and listening to KRTU, I heard a version of the old jazz standard "Night Train" by World Saxophone Quartet. I had never even heard of them before, and I was totally blown away. I almost had to pull off the road. All those textures of golden brown generated by four saxes in perfect synchrony was almost too much.

Another group to collect!


via Cryptomundo

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

No they weren't

A meter reader from the other company got caught estimating:
"They were essentially stealing from us," said customer Steve Kulawik. "To find out that the water we're being charged for may not be what we're actually using. There's no trust in that anymore."
No one was stealing from anyone. One person got caught fudging the numbers, and he was fired. The next guy will read all the meters, you get an accurate bill, and everything evens out. You had a bigger bill this time but you'll have a smaller bill next time, so get a grip, Steve.

The other company has bigger problems than this, believe me, but they took immediate and corrective action, so get your knickers out of that knot.

"It must have been a hot day or something..." You have no idea, Mike.

P.S. I don't work for this company. And my language is intentionally vague so this post will be difficult to g00gl3.

Mixing cocktails with cocktails

Self and property defense in San Antonio:
Police say Shawn Degan, the owner of Perfection Tattoos at 3507 Blanco Road, shot and killed Ricky Davis Jr. about 2:35 a.m. in front of the business.

Degan was sleeping inside his shop, police said, when he heard breaking glass at the front window. He looked outside and saw a man going to a car. The man returned with a Molotov cocktail and tossed the burning object inside the broken window.

Degan retrieved a shotgun and fired toward the suspect, police said, later identified as Davis, 29.
So, a question for gun-banners. Are you also going to ban glass bottles, rags, gasoline and oil?

The worst thing about all this is that it seems that the Molotov-thrower was after the wrong tattoo artist. What a stupid, senseless waste.

Thanks again to Strange in San Antonio.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Interesting observation

Cabinet of Wonders posts a summary of the recent Bigfoot hoax fiasco, and concludes with this interesting observation:
So who came out of it well?

As you can probably guess from the name checks throughout, it was Blogsquatcher, who have have done sterling work keeping everyone updated with a storm of blog postings (sacrificing sleep in the process) as examined all the angles and the developing shitstorm, with a suitably critical eye. Also thanks to being hosted by Blogger they seemed to suffer very little from the vastly increased traffic (even as bemused bystanders we got a big spike in folks coming from Google), which meant they could keep going while all around them were falling over due to hacking and server overloads.
Blogger takes a lot of **** for being a free blog service, but there's something to be said about a free service that thus far apparently has no bandwidth limit. That was a big problem I had with Eponym. Ten dollars a month and I really only got 3 weeks of service per month because the last week I was over the bandwidth limit and got shut down. If I accidentally made a popular post I might be online for only half the month.

By the way, Cryptomundo had to be rebuilt, and the RSS feed is now different. Just figured that out today.

The answer is obvious

Man Attended Church Mass Before Going To Nearby School With Gun
Police don't know why he showed up at the school.
Obviously because he knew that there were going to be lots of easy targets there, and no opposition. He only had the bad luck to run into an off-duty deputy who held him in check until reinforcements arrived. And if the deputy had not been there, what then?

via Strange in San Antonio

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Not much done today

I haven't been feeling all that well since Friday, probably got the cold that my wife had, although at least I didn't get the fever like she did (so far).

Logged onto today and did some browsing. They have a whole bunch more Jimmy Smith albums available now, including a remastered version of the legendary Back at the Chicken Shack (which I have on vinyl).

I've also been snooping, both on- and off-line, for a possible SATB (church music) version of the old song "Angel Band," which was part of the O Brother Where Are Thou soundtrack. That version is by the Stanley Brothers, but I also have a version by Carl Story. My dad thinks he knows where there's a hymnal that has it, so it's looking good. If that fails, I've already started working on arranging such a version myself, partly by ear and partly by guitar tabs that I snagged off the internet.

We didn't go to church today because my wife was working and I felt terrible and didn't want to get out of bed unless I had to, so I got almost nothing accomplished today except writing a few notes on "Angel Band." But I was also looking through one of the old hymnals and found a version of "Amazing Grace" with 5 stanzas. I had never seen more than 4 before. I also found a version of "How Great Thou Art" written in C, which is different to me. Every time I've ever seen it, it was in B♭. And that's about all I did today.

Interesting wall decoration

At Sam's Burger Joint. Scroll down to the third row of photos, the one on the right. That's the standard silhouette target as used in the Texas CHL qualification. Heh heh.


Written by Derek Dick (Fish), recorded by Marillion. Interesting take on the story. I'd say it could have been inspired by the John Gardner book, if I had to take a guess.

I. Heorot's plea and Grendel's awakening

Midnight suns bid moors farewell, retreats from charging dusk
Mountain echo, curfews bell, signal ending tasks
They place their faith in oaken doors, cower in candlelight
The panic seeps through bloodstained floors as Grendel stalks the night

Earth rim walker seeks his meals
Prepare the funeral pyres
The shapers songs no longer heal the fear
Within their eyes, [their eyes]

Wooden figures, pagan gods, stare blindly cross the sea
Appeal for help from ocean fogs, for saviour born of dreams
They know their lives are forfeit now, priestly head they bow in shame
They cannot face the trembling crowd that flinch in Grendels name

Earth rim walker seeks his meals
Prepare the funeral pyres
The shapers songs no longer heal the fear
Within their eyes, [their eyes]

As Grendel leaves his mossy home beneath the stagnant mere
Along the forest path he roams to Hrothgars hall so clear
He knows that victory is secured, his charm will testify
His claws will drip with mortal blood as moonbeams haunt the sky

As Grendel leaves his mossy home beneath the stagnant mere
Along the forest path he roams to Hrothgars hall so clear
He knows that victory is secured, his charm will testify
His claws will drip with mortal blood, as moonbeams haunt the sky

Earth rim walker seeks his meals
Prepare the funeral pyres
The shapers songs no longer heal the fear
Within their eyes, [their eyes]

II. Grendel's journey

Silken membranes span his path, fingerprints in dew
Denizens of twilight lands humbly beg him through
Mother natures bastard child shunned by leaf and stream
An alien in an alien land seeks solace within dreams
The shapers lies his poisoned tongue malign with mocking harp
Beguiling queen her innocence offends his icy heart

III. lurker at the threshold

Hounds freeze in silence bewitched by the reptile spell
Sulphurous essence pervades round the grassy dell
Heorot awaits him like lamb to the butchers knife
Stellular heavens ignore even childrens cries

Screams are his music, lightning his guide
Raping the darkness, death by his side

Chants rise in terror, free round the oaken beams
Flickering firelight portraying the grisly scene
Warriors advance, prepare for the nightmare foe
Futile their sacrifice as even their hearts must know

Heroes delusion, with feet in the grave
Lurker at the threshold, he cares not for the brave, he cares not for the brave

IV. finale

So you thought that your bolts and your locks would keep me out
You should have known better after all this time
You're gonna pay in blood for all your vicious slander
With your ugly pale skins and your putrid blue eyes
Why should I feel pity when you kill your own and feel no shame
Gods on my side, sure as hell
I'm gonna take no blame
I'm gonna take no blame
I'm gonna take no blame

So you say you believe in all of mother natures laws
You lust for gold with your sharpened knives
Oh when your hoards are gathered and your enemies left to rot
You pray with your bloodstained hands at the feet of your pagan gods

Then you try to place the killers blade in my hand
You call for justice and distort the truth
Well Ive had enough of all your pretty pretty speeches
Receive your punishment
Expose your throats to my righteous claws
And let the blood flow, and [let the blood flow], flow, flow, flow.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I've downloaded some singles from Amazon before, but today I decided to go for it and download a whole album. It's going to take a while on dial-up, even though I have almost the fastest connection possible for dial-up.

One reason it's going to take extra long is that the mp3s are at 256 kbps. When I rip CDs or digitize my analog recordings, I just save them at 128. I'm not sure my ears can even hear the difference between 128 and 256. But one of these songs I had downloaded from a file-sharing system several years ago (and subsequently lost). At 128 it was about 16 megs (it's a long song). At 256 it was over 29 megs.

I was hoping to be able to individually download only the bonus tracks on the 1999 re-release of Marillion's Clutching at Straws, because they document a transition phase between Marillion with Fish and Marillion after Fish. But unfortunately, none of the tracks are available for download, so I'll have to buy the CD set (I already have the original Clutching at Straws).

So today I'm downloading B'Sides Themselves, which is a collection of b-side singles from Marillion. The opening track is the epic "Grendel," which is the 29 meg file I mentioned. It was the b-side of a 12-inch single, not a 7-inch.

More details on all this stuff when I work my way up to Marillion in my collection.

UPDATE: I was wrong. They are not recorded at 256, but at 320. This makes more sense, because if I recall correctly, 320 is considered "CD quality."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Feedburner stats

Wow. I don't know exactly when I broke 50, but this has gotta be a record for me.


Found at by accident when I was looking for something else.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Discontinued Olympics

Duelling Pistol Shooting:
The duelling pistol event was held twice, in 1906 (at the Intercallated Games - not officially recognized by the IOC) and 1912. This event required competitors to shoot at manniquins dressed in frock coats. There was a Bull's eye were on the dummy's throat. The event was held over 20 meters and 30 meters.
...and my favorite...

Live Pigeon Shooting:
Live Pigeon Shooting was held only once in Olympic history, in 1900. The object of this event was to shoot and kill as many birds as possible. This was the first and only time in Olympic history when animals were killed on purpose. The birds were released in front of a participant and the winner was the competitor who shot down the most birds from the sky. The participant was eliminated once they missed two birds. Nearly 300 birds were killed. The event turned out to be quite messy in the end with dead or injured birds on the ground and blood and feathers all over the place. An award of 20,000 Francs was the prize for the winner, though the top four finishers agreed to split the winnings.
"...turned out to be quite messy in the end..." I'm not laughing. That would be in poor taste. But later after I shut down the computer I might snicker a little bit.

A Celebration of American Folk Music (2001, Reader's Digest)

My wife got this collection from somewhere. I think she may have inherited it after her mother passed away a couple of years ago. There are spots where the tapes are starting to get a little warbly, so I've ripped them all for her and will be burning them to CD so she can play them in her car.

Folk music isn't a big part of my collection, but I have always been interested in it because that's where it all started. Some of these songs are can only loosely be defined as "folk," and a couple of them aren't even American.

But then of course it was slapped together by Reader's Digest, where brevity is...wit.

An interesting collection, in spite of some weird inconsistencies. Four Bob Dylan songs but none actually sung by Dylan (which may be a blessing, on second thought). Too much Joan Baez. Each tape is divided into two topics, one per side, but sometimes they don't entirely make sense.

Tape 1, Side A: The Legends of Folk
Okay, Woody Guthrie doing "This Land is Your Land" fits, but "Honeycomb?"

Tape 1, Side B: Timeless Troubadours
Three songs by Bob Dylan start this section, but covered by others. A cool song in this section that I'd never heard before is "The Last Farewell" by Roger Whittaker. Oddball song: "Kumbaya." Yes, yes, I know. But couldn't someone somewhere put together a folk music compilation and ignore it for once?

Tape 2, Side A: All-Time Folk Classics
"The Lion Sleeps Tonight?" Really? "Silver Threads and Golden Needles?" I think some of these songs were chosen by throwing darts at a corkboard. Nothing wrong with either of those songs, but "all-time folk classics?"

Tape 2, Side B: Unforgettable Folk
Pat Boone? Only Reader's Digest would put Pat Boone in the category of "unforgettable folk." Too bad they didn't use "Rock Boll Weevil." "Me and Bobby McGee" I have no problem with, except that this version is by Kenny Rogers. WTF?

Tape 3, Side A: Folk-Country
Here's where it starts to get interesting. Some old country songs that I mostly remember from childhood, and which don't get played on the radio anymore, even on "classic country" stations, like "Sixteen Tons" or "Wolverton Mountain." Although I don't know how "The Highwayman" got on here. I like that song, but "folk-country?"

Tape 3, Side B: Western Folk
This is the cowboys, guns & Texas section, complete with the obligatory "Riders in the Sky." Although I've always considered the Sons of the Pioneers as the definitive version. This one is by Burl Ives, who turns up in almost every section of the collection. Also includes the classic "Ringo," by that master of old-school cowboy rap, Lorne Greene.

Tape 4, Side A: Story Songs & Sagas
Songs that tell stories, apparently, and other than that it's pretty much a mish-mash. The Kingston Trio, Jimmy Dean, and Harry Chapin are all included. (Jimmy Dean: the other master of old-school country rap).

Tape 4, Side B: Folk-Rock Favorites
This is the "we're down to one side so we need to stick a bunch of songs on it so it won't be blank" section. I'll give them credit for using the original version of The Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" instead of copping out with the Joan Baez version. But "Vincent?" Another one I don't get. I think there's probably someone at Reader's Digest who puts "Vincent" in every compilation somehow, regardless of the theme of the collection. America makes an appearance here with "A Horse with No Name," and Van Morrison with "Brown Eyed Girl."

Okay, so I poked some fun at this collection, but I really have no problems with any of these songs, except maybe "Kumbaya" and that one song by P*t* S**g*r. It's just that the way they put it together doesn't always make a lot of sense, and it seems there are songs and artists that should be on such a collection as this, but aren't (Pat Boone gets on here, but Peter, Paul & Mary don't?). Seventy-six songs, nearly four hours of music. Or should I say: nearly four hours of what Reader's Digest considers to be definitive American folk music.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

No surprise

In a long statement on, Kulls reveals what he found early Sunday morning Eastern time as the body thawed out.

"I extracted some [hair] from the alleged corpse and examined it and had some concerns," Kulls writes. "We burned said sample and said hair sample melted into a ball uncharacteristic of hair."

Kulls called Biscardi in California, who told him to heat the body to speed up thawing.

"Within one hour we were able to see the partially exposed head," Kulls continues. "I was able to feel that it seemed mostly firm, but unusually hollow in one small section. This was yet another ominous sign."

Then came the clincher.

"Within the next hour of thaw, a break appeared up near the feet area. ... I observed the foot which looked unnatural, reached in and confirmed it was a rubber foot."
Anyone who is slightly familiar with Bigfoot lore knows about Biscardi. He was involved in another big scam in 2005. He's a con-man who seems to specialize in Bigfoot cons, as weird as that sounds. There's still money out there, and it should be followed.

Someone from the website says it looks like one of their Bigfoot costumes.

What about the original Georgia hoaxers?
Asked for comment on Officer Whitton, Clayton County, Ga., Chief of Police Jeffrey Turner, corrected "You mean ex-officer Whitton."

"As soon as we saw it was a hoax," Chief Turner explained, "I filed the paperwork to terminate his employment."

Turner said he hasn't heard from Whitton, and that he was mystified at the former officer's involvement in such a blatant scam.

"He was a real go-getter," Turner said, citing Whitton's wounding in the line of duty earlier this summer while apprehending a suspect who had allegedly shot a woman in the head. "For someone to do a complete three-sixty like that, I can't explain it."
I wasn't going to quote that much but the "three-sixty" cracked me up. If he did a "complete three-sixty," wouldn't he be going in the same direction? (I and a few other people I know have used this expression, but only in a spirit of ironic self-deprecation).

By the way, since the last time I linked to Cryptomundo a few days ago, I haven't been able to bring it up. I must assume hackers got to it, too.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

That common sense thing

Kelly started it, then Hammer and Drew chimed in. I almost wrote something myself yesterday, but then decided to sleep on it since I often do my best thinking while I'm asleep.

"Common sense": Those of us who believe we have it know it when we see it, but how can it be defined, and why do some people have it and some don't?

Upon awakening this morning, an answer--perhaps--had come to me, and it sounds pretty good, so I'll go with it.

Those people who have "common sense" are those people who have accepted intellectual responsibility for their own thought processes.

Accepting responsibility for one's own thought processes spills over into accepting other kinds of responsibility for other things--it's a chain reaction. So if I had to explain the above statement, I would say that it describes those who believe and behave the way they do because they have decided themselves that it is the best way to go--not because someone else told them to: someone else who they can blame for making a bad decision for them.

I would not be surprised at all if it were revealed that there is a vast conspiracy, a sort of anti-Bene Gesserit who are dedicated to breeding the stupidest person in the history of humankind. A person who won't remove his hand from the box, not because he has the willpower to overcome his own instincts against pain, but because he thinks someone else should remove his hand for him.

That's my take on it, anyway.

I have your soap...

Via Oddee.

Ah, for just one time I would take the Northwest Passage...

To find the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea:
Franklin's vessels are among the most sought-after prizes in marine archaeology.

Tantalising traces have been found over the years, including the bodies of three crewmen in the 1980s.

The bodies of two English seamen, John Hartnell, 25, and royal Marine William Braine, 33, were exhumed in 1986 and an expedition uncovered the perfectly preserved remains of a petty officer John Torrington, 20, in an ice-filled coffin in 1984.

But the ships have never been seen.

Experts believe the ships came to grief in 1848 after they became locked in the ice near King William Island and the crews abandoned them in a hopeless bid to reach safety.

Relief efforts financed by Lady Franklin, the Royal Navy and even the Hudson's Bay Company vainly scoured the region for more than a decade.
An expedition has been launched to try and find the remains of Sir John Franklin's mid-1840s expedition to find the Northwest Passage, which they think might be easier to find now due to "global warming."
Westward from the Davis Strait 'tis there 'twas said to lie
The sea route to the Orient for which so many died;
Seeking gold and glory, leaving weathered, broken bones
And a long-forgotten lonely cairn of stones.
[Lyrics by Stan Rogers.]

Monday, August 18, 2008

Some music news via email

Alex Woodard's self-titled fifth studio album is out tomorrow on Adrenaline Music Group. The album features Brian Young (Fountains Of Wayne) on drums and a duet with Grammy-winning Sara Watkins (of Nickel Creek fame) on "Reno." Here's "Reno," feel free to post the MP3.
So here's the link to "Reno." Very cool song, the kind of borderline-country I can really get into. I must admit I've not heard of either of these artists before, and I'm glad I got this email, although why I got it I don't know.

Lots more info at

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Selection's from Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem

Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem:
The proof of Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem is so simple, and so sneaky, that it is almost embarassing to relate. His basic procedure is as follows:

1. Someone introduces Gödel to a UTM, a machine that is supposed to be a Universal Truth Machine, capable of correctly answering any question at all.
2. Gödel asks for the program and the circuit design of the UTM. The program may be complicated, but it can only be finitely long. Call the program P(UTM) for Program of the Universal Truth Machine.
3. Smiling a little, Gödel writes out the following sentence: "The machine constructed on the basis of the program P(UTM) will never say that this sentence is true." Call this sentence G for Gödel. Note that G is equivalent to: "UTM will never say G is true."
4. Now Gödel laughs his high laugh and asks UTM whether G is true or not.
5. If UTM says G is true, then "UTM will never say G is true" is false. If "UTM will never say G is true" is false, then G is false (since G = "UTM will never say G is true"). So if UTM says G is true, then G is in fact false, and UTM has made a false statement. So UTM will never say that G is true, since UTM makes only true statements.
6. We have established that UTM will never say G is true. So "UTM will never say G is true" is in fact a true statement. So G is true (since G = "UTM will never say G is true").
7. "I know a truth that UTM can never utter," Gödel says. "I know that G is true. UTM is not truly universal."

Think about it - it grows on you ...

With his great mathematical and logical genius, Gödel was able to find a way (for any given P(UTM)) actually to write down a complicated polynomial equation that has a solution if and only if G is true. So G is not at all some vague or non-mathematical sentence. G is a specific mathematical problem that we know the answer to, even though UTM does not! So UTM does not, and cannot, embody a best and final theory of mathematics ...

Although this theorem can be stated and proved in a rigorously mathematical way, what it seems to say is that rational thought can never penetrate to the final ultimate truth ... But, paradoxically, to understand Gödel's proof is to find a sort of liberation. For many logic students, the final breakthrough to full understanding of the Incompleteness Theorem is practically a conversion experience. This is partly a by-product of the potent mystique Gödel's name carries. But, more profoundly, to understand the essentially labyrinthine nature of the castle is, somehow, to be free of it. [emphases mine]

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Coleman was hacked

From Loren Coleman:
BTW, my personal websites ( and the museum site, have been hacked, destroyed, and I will have to re-build the entire two sites at new locations. For those that think this is all a joke, I just don’t see it that way. If you ask me, hacking in and taking down a website sort of reminds me of, well, burning books.
No word on why Cryptomundo itself was down. For all the news on what's been happening, just go to the top and scroll down.

Heh. "Abominable Snow Job." I like it.

Alien autopsy, anyone?

ABC News: A Monster Discovery: Bigfoot or Big Hoax?
Instead, Biscardi said he plans to keep the body at an undisclosed location while scientists, including two Russian hominid specialists, study the creature. Biscardi said the entire process will be filmed and then released as a documentary.

Friday, August 15, 2008

"As much as we can"

My mind just closed a little.

Cryptomundo is down today, and I hope it's nothing serious. He has been the target of hackers or a DNS attack or something like that before. So I just G00gl3d it.

Here's the link.

Well, they promised a Bigfoot, they promised DNA evidence, they promised a lot. They delivered nothing. For a body that was supposedly fresh-frozen, the results of the three DNA samples were 1) inconclusive, 2) possibly human or (my favorite) 3) a possum.
In what may sum it all up, one reporter asked Biscardi how much money he and the two men hoped to make from all this.

"As much as we can," he said.
And in the process, will make all cryptozoologists look bad.

Wrong again, Monk

I really enjoy the TV show Monk, but they constantly make serious errors just to get their stories to work. Tonight's episode had a murder take place on a U.S. Navy submarine. I am almost positive that the murder weapon was a P-38. Okay, you say, maybe the murderer just snuck that sidearm on board so he could commit murder with it.

No. Because when Monk asked another sailor for his sidearm, he handed him another P-38.

Oh, and if you're about to ask if anyone actually cleared the weapon before decisively stating, "it isn't loaded," then surely you must know that you're about to ask a silly question.

P.S. The most egregious error in the show that I ever saw was when Monk's dad visited. I had to spend the last 15 minutes of the show explaining in minute detail why what was happening to his 18-wheeler was absolutely impossible and could not ever happen under any circumstances whatsoever.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I keep thinking of albums that I should have but don't. One is a tape of "truck driving songs" that I bought during that phase of my life. I must have lost it somewhere, or possibly I left it in my trainer's truck. It had my most favorite truck driving song on it, and here are the lyrics. P.S. This song has been covered all over the place. I bet some modern cowpop singer could cover it again and it would be a minor hit again.

It was his first trip to Boston in a big long diesel truck
It was his first trip to Boston he was a havin' lots of luck
He was headed the wrong direction down the one way street in town
And this is what he said when the police chased him down

Give me forty acres and I'll turn this rig round
It's the easiest way that I found
Some guys can turn on a dime or turn it right downtown
But I need forty acres to turn this rig around

When he finally found where to outload he had the dreadful shot
His trailer pointed toward the road and his cab right to the dock
And as he looked around him through his tears he made the sound
Oh give me forty acres and I'll turn this rig round


When he finally got unloaded he was glad to leave that town
He was feelin' fairy happy goin' back to Alabam
And up ahead he saw a sign said you are northward bound
He said give me forty acres and I'll turn this rig round

He was drivin' down the right lane when ahead he saw a sign
Yet to make the left turn but he could not be gettn' in line
The tears were streamin' down his cheeks and they all heard him yell
Give me forty sticks of dynamite and I'll blow his rig to hell


Tuesday, August 12, 2008


One of the things with which I'm keeping myself busy offline is cataloging my entire music collection. I'm just making a few spreadsheet lists, dividing things into a few basic categories. I'm looking forward to remembering albums that I'd forgotten I had. For example, I knew I had both Sgt. Pepper's and Revolver, but I had forgotten that I also have Rubber Soul. Some of them I can only blame on my wife picking up somewhere, probably at a yard sale or a flea market. For example: Billy Squire? I wouldn't know a Billy Squire song if I ran it down in the street. And Donna Summer? Greatest hits both volumes one and two? Where did these things come from?

Anyway, this should be fun, and it will help me when I get ready to start digitizing records again. I still have a stack of cassettes to go through.

UPDATE: Cher?! WTF?! Still, I'm going to have to listen to them (them! two so far!) out of sheer morbid fascination. Gregg Allman, what were you thinking?

Here it is...

Cryptomundo reports on the official press release for the claimed Bigfoot body that was "found" (didn't they at first say they killed it?) in Georgia. This Friday, August 15, the body and DNA details will be presented at a (closed) press conference.

There are a lot of things I don't like about the secrecy involved in this. And I will not believe it until the so-called "DNA evidence" can be examined by impartial third parties, which may not ever happen if I understand the details as described in the press release.

Still it's worth mentioning, and is big news in the cryptid field.

UPDATE: More here, with photos. Like Mr. Coleman said, I'm retaining my skeptical open-mindedness.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Codex Sinaiticus

I saved this as a note in Scribefire a couple of weeks ago and then forgot about it.
Codex Sinaiticus, a manuscript of the Christian Bible written in the middle of the fourth century, contains the earliest complete copy of the Christian New Testament. The hand-written text is in Greek. The New Testament appears in the original vernacular language (koine) and the Old Testament in the version, known as the Septuagint, that was adopted by early Greek-speaking Christians. In the Codex, the text of both the Septuagint and the New Testament has been heavily annotated by a series of early correctors.

The significance of Codex Sinaiticus for the reconstruction of the Christian Bible's original text, the history of the Bible and the history of Western book-making is immense.
Interesting on more than one level. Not only a very early version of the New Testament, but it is constructed into something that we would look at and immediately identify as a bound book. And 1,600 years ago, book-making wasn't easy.
Codex Sinaiticus was copied by more than one scribe. Constantine Tischendorf identified four in the nineteenth century. Subsequent research decided that there were three, but it is possible that a fourth (different from Tischendorf’s fourth scribe) can be identified. Each of the three undisputed scribes has a distinctive way of writing which can be identified with practice. Each also had a distinctive way of spelling many sounds, particularly vowels which scribes often wrote phonetically. One of them may have been a senior copyist.

To make their manuscript, the scribes had to perform a series of tasks. They had to

1. determine a format (there are very few surviving manuscripts written with four columns to a page);
2. divide the work between them;
3. prepare the parchment, including ruling it with a framework for the layout of columns and lines;
4. prepare the manuscripts they were copying;
5. get pens and ink together;
6. write the text;
7. check it;
8. assemble the whole codex in the right order.
Of course it contains a few books that are now considered "apocryphal," and the order of the books is different from the modern Bible. There is a project now in progress to put the whole thing online in several different languages, but the project is still relatively new and there doesn't seem to be anything available in English yet. Read all about it at Codex Sinaiticus.

This & that...

Ripped the Bob Mould CD that I had somehow missed before. This was his first solo piece after Hüsker Dü split up. The Sport of Kings is not my favorite Triumph album, but right now it's the only one on a dubbed cassette that I can easily digitize. Triumph was always pretty big around here, thanks mostly to a DJ and music promoter named Joe Anthony who used to work for the radio station KISS in San Antonio. He also worked pretty hard to promote Rush around here, back before they were really famous. All of my other Triumph albums are older than Kings, and I'm not really interested in anything that came after it.

There was even one group that sprang out of the San Antonio area in the 80s called Winterkat, who were basically a Triumph sound-alike. I have their only album, an EP-length record with five songs. It's apparently sort of a collectible now ($34.99!). I think I paid something like $5 for it at Stage Door Music in Seguin. Or was it free? Well, I know I didn't pay much for it. That was a music store that carried instruments and so forth, they didn't usually stock any albums, but there was a push on to give Winterkat some publicity so the proprietor there put some of their albums out and told people about them. I think all of its members went on to other bands and are still in the biz.

I've been going through my entire library and snagging all the album cover art thumbnails I can with Winamp. The ones that I can't get via Winamp I'll probably snag from Amazon or somewhere. It's good pipe-smoking work.

Old computer update

I got some stuff from that really helped. I now have the old machine running. It's a 100MHz Pentium running DOS 6.2 and Win 3.11. The next step will be trying to get Aces running on it. After that, I'll start looking for some good old ham software to put on it. I can't find the install floppy from one of my favorite programs that I used to use. It should have been in a safe stash with a bunch of other old floppies, but I don't know what happened to it. It could still be packed away somewhere from the move.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Scuba fhtagn

Not much activity, but some cool photocthshops Cthulhu's Holiday Photos. NSFW!

The dream has just begun...

To me, Fleetwood Mac is one of those groups that it's nice to have a "Greatest Hits" of, but not really necessary to have anything else. Lindsey Buckingham's voice kind of irritates me, and Christine McVie's voice is so immaculately polished that it seems to have lost its character. I believe this tape was purchased in Abilene when I was in college there. It couldn't have been more than a year after this album was released, yet it was already in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart. I've copied the Stevie Nicks songs into her directory on my computer, but I usually don't go much for the group. Unfortunately, I'll have to wait until I can get a turntable before I digitize any of her old solo albums. I bought them all on vinyl way back when.

So is a CD. I was looking through all my mp3s and trying to figure out what I've missed. I realized that some stuff was missing last week when I was digitizing the Hüsker Dü tapes and I noticed that I had ripped only one of my Bob Mould CDs. I found about 20 CDs that I had either just not noticed or neglected somehow. I have five Peter Gabriel albums, and they never get old. So is my favorite. I have only one of his eponymous albums (the melting face), and I'd like to get the other two. I had a room-mate once (Brer's brother) who had a bunch of old Peter Gabriel records, and I listened to them all. He had a few that I've never seen anywhere else, and never heard of otherwise. I remember really enjoying the Birdy soundtrack. I also really like Passion.

No, I made a mistake. I have six Gabriel albums in all, and all on CD. I have that double live album of his, too. I always forget the live albums because I don't think of them as real albums, since usually live albums are redundant.

I think next week I'll have to use some of that money I've squirreled away and get a USB hard drive for mp3 storage. I'm down to less than 4 gigs of unused space on this one. By the way, I got the USB floppy drive today, so I'll probably see what I can do with the old computer tomorrow.

tinWiki is the first online encyclopedia dedicated exclusively to all the topics that inspire the authors to consider tin foil hats. Topics such as conspiracy theories, UFO cover ups, extraterrestrial programs, New World Order, Illuminati, secret government programs, top secret bases, and nearly any other "alternative topic" are the focus of this collaborative wiki.
Very entertaining, if you find that kind of thing entertaining. Just hit "random page" a few times.

via Swallowing the Camel

Two more old ones

Down on the Corner is not part of the discography of CCR according to both Wikipedia and the official CCR website. It must be some kind of semi-bootleg, probably printed in Malaysia or something, dated 1991. I had to scan the tape jacket to create a thumbnail for it. Bought it in a truck stop somewhere while I was truck driving. I bought several tapes during that time that I don't listen to much now that that's over. It may be hard to believe, but there are still lots of places in this country where you can't clearly pick up any radio stations. At least not when it comes to FM. I suppose you still might pick up some AM skip no matter where you are. Anyone want to take a guess at what format of FM music station is the most commonly found, no matter where you are? Go on, take a guess, and I'll answer later.

I also have Chronicle (2-record set). Funny story. It arrived in the mail one day. But I never ordered it. I was somewhat perplexed. That night around the supper table I told my family about it. My oldest sister said she had ordered it for me, because she thought I might like it. That was nice of her, but it still had me puzzled, because she didn't normally do that sort of thing. I never really got into CCR that much, but they have lots of songs that I don't mind hearing on the radio. Except, of course, for the song that shall not be named. "Down on the Corner," "Lodi," and "Who'll Stop the Rain" are some favorites from this tape. I also like Bonnie Tyler's version.

The first Heart album I ever bought was Greatest Hits Live sometime in the mid-80's. This one was a few years later, partly because it was in the bargain bin and partly because I thought it might fill in some blanks. I really like Ann Wilson's voice on "Mistral Wind." I wouldn't mind getting more of their earlier stuff, but I'm really not interested in anything after 1980 (although I do have Heart from '85).

Prohibited frogs

State wildlife officials raided three residences in the Reno area where they seized more than 100 African clawed frogs, which they say are prohibited because they can pose a serious danger to native frogs and entire ecosystems.

No charges have been filed against the people who illegally possessed a total of 119 frogs because they are cooperating fully with law enforcement to "get any and all prohibited frogs off the streets," the Nevada Department of Wildlife said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We are very pleased we were able to seize them before they were circulated to people in the area and possibly escaped into the wild," said Cameron Waithman, game warden captain for NDOW's Division of Law Enforcement.

African clawed frogs grow about as large as bullfrogs and can destroy entire ecosystems by voraciously eating native fish, amphibians and just about anything they can swallow, he said.
This is not an anti-nanny state rant. There are plenty of good reasons to control how humans might arbitrarily move animal species around the planet. It doesn't matter how you believe they got there; if there was a good reason for any given area to have a certain animal, it would be there. Look at what happened with the cane toad in Australia, for example.

But: why? Why would three people in Reno be hoarding 119 of these enormous African frogs? I also thought "get any and all prohibited frogs off the streets" was pretty funny.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Banned Books Week

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression and the American Library Association have launched a website to promote the freedom to read:
Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. Started in 1982, Banned Books Week was launched to draw attention to the growing number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries. Banned Books Week is held in the last week of September and is sponsored by the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of American Publishers (AAP), the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), and the National Association of College Stores. Banned Books Week is also endorsed by the Center for the Book of the Library of Congress.

Books have long been censored for the ideas and words they contain. Often, book challenges were based on religious grounds and included censorship of seminal works such as Martin Luther's translation of the Bible, and the Talmud. In modern times, books are challenged on a variety of grounds including language, race and ethnicity, violence, sex and sexuality, and religion. Challenged books include works by Voltaire, Shakespeare, Steinbeck, Flaubert, Hemingway, Nabokov, Twain, and Fitzgerald, to name a few, as well as contemporary works by authors such as Toni Morrison, Julia Alvarez, Richard Wright, Maya Angelou, Chris Crutcher, and Judy Blume. J.D. Rowling's popular Harry Potter series has faced numerous challenges for "occult" themes. Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is banned frequently for objections to language. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell has topped the ALA's list of Frequently Challenged Books for two years because the book tells the true story of two male penguins from New York City's Central Park Zoo who parented a chick together.
This year Banned Books Week will be September 27 - October 4. Celebrate by reading a banned book.

via The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression

Memories of memories

Seguin Photo Blog has been posting some photos of cotton bolls, growing in the field.

I remember once when I was a kid and we were going to visit my aunt who lived in Corpus Christi, we passed some cotton fields. It was the first time I had seen cotton actually growing, so I was interested in it. But for my grandmother, it sparked other memories.

She told me how she and her family had worked as cotton-pickers when she was young. Back then they needed money, and they had to work hard for it. Her father was a carpenter by trade, but he couldn't bring in enough to support the whole family. She was the youngest of her family, but even she wasn't spared in the cotton fields. She told me all the details of picking cotton by hand as a child, and there wasn't anything good about it. She wasn't reliving pleasant memories of childhood, but memories of back-breaking, excruciatingly hard, hot labor under the south Texas sun. When she became a teenager, she said, she was able to get a job working as a maid for a "rich family in San Antone." She said she promised herself that she would never pick cotton again.

And one of her duties as maid was to have a mint julep ready for the man of the house when he came home from his job every day. That was a much more pleasant memory, and she told me how to make a mint julep.

And it was still eldritch

From El Capitan via email.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A Thousand Years of Prohibition

Last night before I went to sleep I was studying the old hymnal I had mentioned previously: Treasury of Song. This is the oldest hymnal I have. By checking copyright dates I had guessed that it was published no later than 1920, but later I noticed that someone (probably a seller somewhere back down the line) had penciled in the year 1917 inside the front cover.

1917. Remember that year? Of course not. But what was the Big Thing at the time? Something that would affect our Constitution and change the course of history in a couple years' time?

[NOTE: The paper is very yellowed, really browned, so I tried to make them more legible by adjusting the brightness and contrast. Click all images to enlarge.]

Perhaps the ultimate manifestation of nannyism in the history of the United States: Prohibition. In the back of this old hymnal are included five "temperance songs." Written in standard SATB harmony suitable for congregational singing. I find this horrifying. The above song isn't all that atrocious (just wait!). Only a statement of purpose and a song of encouragement.

This little ditty was written for a male quartet, as shown by the tenor clef in the top staff. This one is almost silly. I could easily sing this myself, if I were drunk enough and feeling especially ironic. In fact, it looks like the lyrics were written by someone who was drunk at the time.

Now it gets a little scarier.

"God's on our side." In spite of: 1) According to the apostle John, the first miracle Jesus ever performed was transforming water in wine. Good wine. ("Why did you bring the best wine out last? You should use it first, and save the cheap stuff for after everyone's drunk!" --my paraphrase). 2) Paul stated that "a little wine is good for the stomach." 3) Deacons of the church are prohibited from being "given to much wine." (Although I will admit that elders are prohibited entirely). So if the old Baptists (I'm about 90% sure this hymnal belonged to a Baptist congregation--based mostly on the piano grace note notation in many of the songs) were really paying attention instead of just being a bunch of nannies, they would have known that the evil is not the drink itself, but how the drink is used.

I saved the best two for last.

It is not fair that I can't control myself. Was it you who allowed me to make the choice as to whether I'd be a useless drunk or not? Was it you who voted to ruin my boy? Because I raised him, so it's definitely not my fault. Sure, he's an adult, but it can't be his fault, either. It's yours, for giving him the choice.

I'm sure the nannies have been with us from the beginning of time. But this was one time when they essentially took over the government. And you know something? We can directly thank them for many of the anti-gun laws we have today, especially the laws concerning fully automatic firearms.

It was Prohibition that gave organized crime its start. Nobody was going to quit drinking, and supplying the populace with illegal liquor gave birth to organized crime. It was mainly due to the bad publicity (stirred up by still more nannyists, I'm sure) of gangsters using machine guns that made it nearly impossible today for the average citizen to own any such gun. There was a time when anyone could order a "Tommy gun" by mail, and I'm sure it made one heck of a coyote gun.

Note: I'm not saying we wouldn't have organized crime if not for Prohibition. There are plenty of other prohibited things that would still have given us organized crime today (drugs other than alcohol, of course).

It seems that almost no one learned a lesson from the failed experiment of Prohibition. But of course the nannies never learn anything, except that they didn't do it hard enough.

It's a sick world...

Today's tape rip is my only Ramones album. Released in 1984, but I didn't buy it until three or four years later, about the same time I was getting several other punk records and tapes (note to self: check the shelf for the Extra Hot Sauce tape). When I bought it, I had intended to get several other albums of theirs, but my priorities kept shifting and I didn't have infinite funds for buying records, unfortunately. I guess "Chasing the Night" is my favorite from this one. Or maybe "Howling at the Moon." It's a toss-up.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Shape of Things, part 2

Way back in July 2004 I had made a brief post about shape note music. I had linked to a site that had exhaustive information on the subject, however, I just checked it again and the site is gone now. For anyone who read my post about hymnals, the "shape note" remarks might have been confusing. Here's an example of shape note notation from a song I wrote (music only--someone else wrote the lyrics). Click to enlarge.

I understand this may look bizarre to people used to regular "round note" notation, but there is a purpose. The vast majority of church-goers are generally pretty much musically illiterate. Nothing wrong with that. Most people just never get around to learning how to read music, much less sight-read songs they've never seen before. Couple that with congregations that don't use any instruments other than the human voice, and it would be very difficult for most people to learn new songs. Shape notes are a sort of intermediate step between not being able to read music at all and being able to get a pretty good idea of how it sounds. Each shape corresponds to a specific note of the scale. Once you get the key fixed in your head, most people, even if they can't actually read music, have a pretty good idea of which notes are which in relation to the key note. This especially applies to people who have grown up singing two or three times a week during church services.

This is essentially my native tongue, when it comes to music. I first learned to read music...uh...well, I can't remember. I remember right after I learned to read (around the age or 4 or 5) I was reading some elementary church music books that my dad had picked up. But round note notation has always looked strange and, well, lacking in substance to me. I still think in shapes even when I'm only listening to music. Of course I learned to be proficient with round notes because I was in band all through junior high and high school, as well as my stint in college.

Anyway the shapes are:
Do -- Equilateral triangle.
Re -- A cup without a handle.
Mi -- Diamond.
Fa -- Right triangle.
So -- Oval.
La -- Rectangle.
Ti -- Ice cream cone.

This is the seven-shape system with which I am familiar. There is also a four-shape system that uses the same shapes for some different notes, but I'm not familiar with it. Someone explained it to me once about 20 years ago but since I never used it, I've forgotten it. The seven-shape system is, I believe, newer than the four-shape system and was developed so that each note would have a distinct shape with no duplicated shapes. Still, both systems are pretty old.

By the way, I use software called Melody Assistant. It's much easier than writing by hand, and allows one to print the music in a very easily readable typeface. In the olden days (10 years ago or more), the only way to go was to have someone professionally typeset it for you, and that cost money. Melody Assistant was not really meant for this kind of song writing, but it does have all the shapes necessary, and I've fiddled with it long enough that I've come up with a few workarounds when it won't do exactly what I want it to.

Devious, devious

Have you ever seen the SpongeBob with R. Lee Ermy as a tough prison guard? He makes them make their beds so tight that a quarter bounces off of them. My son asked me if you can really do that. I told him yes, but it has to be made just right, and really tight. He's been in his room for 15 minutes making and remaking his bed and tossing coins on it to watch them bounce.

Heh heh.

Technology of the Living Dead

As in: technologies that are dead but haven't yet realized it. Cracked does it again with 6 Technologies That Don't Know They're Dead. Although written for humor, as usual, sometimes their articles contain some real information, and this is one of them. I thought the entry on phone books (photo above) was especially profound. Why are they still around?
Since you've probably never opened one, you may not realize that phone books are chock full of so many ads that they generated $13.9 billion last year. That sort of makes sense when you realize these ads are being force fed to every single household in America, like giant bricks of spam just appearing on your porch once a year. The only difference is you can click out of a pop up ad. Phone books weigh 10 lbs and have to be disposed of in special ways, to avoid becoming even more than 30% of your local landfill. Yes, it would appear that Satan works in advertising, and he's damn good at what he does.
Here's a little tidbit of personal trivia for you. Since we don't live actually in San Antonio, we don't get San Antonio phone books. But we, or my wife really, and some other people we know can really use S.A. phone books. So every year when they come out, I just pick them up from in front of vacant houses. Every house gets a phone book, no matter if someone lives in it or not, no matter if it has a phone in it or not, no matter if it's been condemned and is halfway demolished or not. I once saw a house that was in the process of being moved. Half of the house was already gone, half was still sitting there. They threw a phone book in the driveway anyway. (No kidding. My previous job, when I had to work on the south side a lot. I stood right there and watched them do it). In fact, many houses that do have people in them never pick up their phone book. It just rots in the driveway until somebody decides to toss it next to the garbage can on trash day. (P.S. I know which houses are really vacant because that's part of my job).

I almost never open a phone book. I especially hate looking for something in the Yellow Pages, because whatever I happen to be looking for is always nearly impossible to find. I usually have to hunt under 7 or 8 different categories before I find where they've pigeon-holed it. When I want to use the Yellow Pages, I just go to Yahoo.

I also thought this was a great quote:
How many of you read an actual newspaper this morning? Yeah, didn't think so. If you're reading this you know how to use the internet, and if you know how to use the internet then you have no reason in the world to read a newspaper unless you're sitting in the dark for refusing to pay your electricity bill. In that case, stop reading this and go get a job.
Several years ago a co-worker of mine at the time told me about how the S.A. Express-News had called him to try and get him to subscribe. He had two phone lines at the time: one for regular phone use and one for his internet connection. So he was online while talking with the solicitor. Every single thing they told him he could get from the newspaper, he just did a search for and found it online. And this had to be at least 8 years ago. He said the lady finally, sounding kind of desperate, said, "Well, you can get coupons in the newspaper!" So he typed in "coupons," and poof, there they were. Coupons ready to be printed out on his own home printer and taken to the store. He told her that. She hung up without saying another word.

Anyway, the Cracked article is some pretty good reading. Funny, too.

Today's rip

My only Smithereens album. I don't remember where/why I bought this one. But in 1986 I was working the closing shift at a pizza restaurant and we always put MTV on both big screens when we were cleaning up. Possibly I saw a video of theirs, maybe "Behind the Wall of Sleep."

Great album. Some interesting remarks on it at Wikipedia.

Amen to that

An excellent Wondermark this morning.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The spice must flow...

Warp Speed Engine Designed at Discovery. Well, no, not really designed. More like suggested.
The tricky part is that the ship wouldn't actually move; space itself would move underneath the stationary spacecraft. A beam of light next to the ship would still zoom away, same as it always does, but a beam of light far from the ship would be left behind.

That means that the ship would arrive at its destination faster than a beam of light traveling the same distance, but without violating Einstein's relativity, which says that it would take an infinite amount of energy to accelerate an object with mass to the speed of light, since the ship itself isn't actually moving.

The fabric of space has moved faster than light before, says Cleaver, right after the Big Bang, when the universe expanded faster than the speed of light.

"We're recreating the inflationary period of the universe behind the ship," said Cleaver.

While the theory rests on relatively firm ground, the next question is how do you expand space behind the ship and contract it in front of the ship?
Some interesting speculative science. Of course, we could always just change the speed of light.


Converted a couple more old Alan Parsons albums today. These are more tedious than usual, because many of the songs fade into each other. No clean breaks. So to satisfy my aesthetic sensibilities, I first have to decide exactly where I want the break, and then fade out one song and fade in another.

Once I get all their albums digitized, I'm going to create a playlist of all the instrumentals. That should be cool.

Oh yeah, and I know that's not the original cover art for the first printing of Tales. But it is the cover art for the print that I have.

All American Blogger on Keith Olbermann

All American Blogger rips Keith Olbermann a new one on the topic of Heller v. DC and the Second Amendment. Good read.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Collecting Hymnals

[NOTE: This is a post that many regular readers might want to just skip. But it's something I've been wanting to write up for a long time, and today I finally broke open the box that held all these books. So, you were warned.]

[Later addendum: If you do find this of any interest, you may be further interested in my newest blog project, The Hymnomicon.]

Another part of my book collecting intersects with my interest in music: my small hymnal collection. Sunday is a good day for this topic, I think, even though I'm sure most readers won't have any interest it. But I write this post because I've learned that if you write something, eventually someone will G00gl3 it. So if any of this stuff rings bells with a random G00gl3r out there, leave a comment or send an email.

I'm not sure of the exact date of publication for all of these, but I'll take a best guess if I have to. My interest in hymnals, especially older hymnals, is more than just some kind of odd obsession of a hobby. I have become interested in studying and preserving the way old hymns were originally written, because in many newer hymnals, editor(s) have dropped stanzas, changed words, and even changed the music. So here's a list of pretty much all I have. There might be a couple more on odd shelves, but I got the vast majority of them together today in one place. Many of these are small paperbacks that were more or less self-published or published by very small publishing houses. They contain many songs that never were picked up for use in the "mainstream" modern congregational hymnals, unfortunately, because they are usually superior.

Treasury of Song -- No information for this one, but it looks like it couldn't have been published later than about 1920. Round note. Scanning through it, it seems to include some old standards with which I am familiar, and a great many songs I'm not familiar with, which are almost all around 100 years old. UPDATE: I noticed the date 1917 written in pencil inside the front cover.

Gospel Melodies -- 1928 Robert H. Coleman. Self-published. Round note. Unlike many of the hymnals I have collected, this one was not made for use particularly by the Church of Christ. Accompanying books could be ordered that provided orchestration for 15 instruments. Therefore it contains many old standards that never became true "standards" for the C of C, which makes it very interesting for me since it has many songs that I've not seen anywhere else. Older books like this and the one above are especially valuable for preserving the original compositions in the original key, original wording, etc.

New Ideal Gospel Hymn Book -- 1948 Firm Foundation Publishing House. Compiled by Austin Taylor, J.W. Acuff, W.D. Erridge and G.H.P. Showalter. Shape note. Some old standards that are found in other books, and some others that weren't. I think it was published mainly to include these "other" songs that weren't in any other books at the time.

The Majestic Hymnal No. 2 -- 1959 Firm Foundation Publishing House. Compiled by Reuel Lemmons. Shape note. This book is what I think of as one of the last of the old hymnals. It was the standard congregational hymnal for congregations of the Church of Christ for, I'd guess, a good 20-30 years. Includes old standards and some other songs that would have still been quite new at the time. This is another book that I learned to read with in the 1960s.

Sacred Selections -- 1960 Sacred Selections. Compiled by Ellis J. Crum. Shape note. Another hardback that could be used as a stand-alone congregational hymnal, it contained mostly songs that were still under copyright at the time, rather than mostly old standards that had become public domain. Although it may arguably be a better book than The Majestic Hymnal (above), it never became very widespread (as far as I know) as the Majestic--possibly because it cost nearly twice as much per copy.

Great Songs of the Church No. 2 -- 1961 Abilene Christian College Book Store. Shape note. Another competitor with The Majestic Hymnal, and competitively priced as well. Yet, another one that in my experience did not become as widely-used as the Majestic, probably because it didn't have the relative publishing might of the Firm Foundation behind it. Arranged differently than most hymnals, this one is broken into four sections, and within each section all songs are arranged alphabetically. Includes almost entirely old standards, many of which are no longer seen in modern hymnals.

Gospel Quartet Music No. 1 -- 1961 Gospel Quartet Music, Inc. Compiled by the Blackwood Brothers Quartet. Shape note. Although titled as quartet music, it is still written in the format that can be used in regular congregational singing. Includes many older hymns that aren't seen in modern hymnals.

The New Wonderful Songs -- 1944 Firm Foundation Publishing House. Compiled by Thomas S. Cobb and G.H.P. Showalter. Shape note. A collection of hymns that are now old standards, and many that are no longer used in modern hymnals.

Christian Song Album -- 1968. Compiled and self-published by Holland L. Boring, Sr. A collection of what at the time were hymns written by "living song writers," including photographs and biographical sketches for each.

Awakening Songs Number 1 -- 1971 Firm Foundation Publishing House, compiled by Holland L. Boring Sr. Shape note. Similar in form and purpose to Number 4 below.

Awakening Songs Number 4 -- 1971 Firm Foundation Publishing House, compiled by Holland L. Boring Sr. and his son, Holland Jr. Shape note. Similar to Songs for the Master below. "[D]esigned to help fill a glaring deficiency in our church music repertoire." This "glaring deficiency" is that at the time people were stuck in singing nothing but old standards, and the singing had become too mechanical and rote. This book included many new hymns that were just as good as or better than the old standards, collecting them all in one book so people would have easy access to them.

Songs for the Master -- 1973 Firm Foundation Publishing House. Compiled by Holland L. Boring, Sr. Shape note. Made up of songs written by faculty of the Foundation School of Church Music (or "Singing School" as we all called it) as well as the earlier generations of writers who taught and influenced them; also includes some old standards.

Light Reflectors -- 1970s. Another compilation of old standards and new hymns, compiled by Boring. Shape note.

Songs of the Church -- 1977 Howard Publishers. Compiled by Alton H. Howard. Shape note. Here begins (in my opinion) what I think of as "the modern hymnal." I have a lot of gripes about the books put out by Howard. He has a bad tendency to change words and music to how he thinks they should be, rather than leaving them as the original composer wrote them. Includes mostly old standards plus a few songs written by Howard himself and some of his cronies.

Hymns of Praise -- 1978 Firm Foundation Publishing House. Compiled by Reuel Lemmons. Shape note. Although this is what I think of as a "modern hymnal," it includes many old standards the way they were originally written, as well as new (at the time) songs written by faculty of the Foundation School of Music and their associates. Unlike many of the other small paperback hymnals published by the Firm Foundation, this is a full-sized hardback, completely suitable for congregational singing all on its own. One of the best hymnals ever published, in my opinion.

Songs of Hope -- 1979 Firm Foundation Publishing House. Compiled by Holland L. Boring, Sr. Shape note. Similar to Awakening Songs and Songs for the Master, and compiled and published for essentially the same purpose.

Our Garden of Song -- 1980 Howard Publishing Co. Compiled by Gene C. Finley. Shape note. Not meant to be a congregational hymnal. This is a very expensively-bound book that includes only songs written by members of the Church of Christ. Each writer profiled has one example song included, as well as a photograph and biography. Especially valuable to me because it is one of only two hardbacks that I know of that includes Don Boring's "Mighty is the King of Glory" (the other one being Hymns of Praise above).

Gleam of Glory
-- Early 1980s (best guess). Compiled by Holland L. Boring, Sr. and as far as I can tell, self-published by him. Shape note. Made up of songs written by students and faculty of the Foundation School of Music (such as your humble blogger).

Songs of Love -- 1985 Leoma Music Co. Compiled by Holland L. Boring, Sr. Shape note. For those who knew and were taught harmony by "Paw-paw," as we all knew him, this is an essential book. It contains all 141 gospel hymns written by him, plus more than 40 other hymns written by other singing school teachers and some old standards.

Golden Song Through the Years 1937 - 1987 -- 1987 National Music Co. Compiled by Robert S. Arnold. Shape note. A collection of songs copyrighted by the National Music Co. from 1937 - 1987, as the title. Seems to be mostly songs written by faculty and students of Gospel music "normal" schools: schools designed to turn out hymn composers and song leaders who in turn could teach others or otherwise possibly pass along what they had learned.

Songs of the Church, 21st Century Edition -- 1990 Howard Publishing Co. Compiled by Alton H. Howard. Shape note. Basically an updated edition of Songs of the Church above, printed in a more easily readable typeface. Not identical to the previous edition, some songs are different and the overall layout is completely different. Still, the same compiler and the same general overall purpose and scheme. Another one I have some complaints about because of the way Howard changes original compositions to make them what he seems to believe is catchier, or easier, or something.

Songs of Faith and Praise -- 1994 Howard Publishing Co. Compiled by Alton H. Howard. Shape note. And here we come to it. This is currently in very widespread use among congregations of the Church of Christ. It is what is used almost everywhere in this area. Hardly a Sunday goes by that I don't see something in it or hear something from it that makes me groan. Keys are changed, words are changed, notes are changed, stanzas are deleted, etc. Includes many old standards as well as many modern "contemporary Christian" pop songs that Howard and/or his cronies tried to turn into hymns suitable for congregational singing. It doesn't work. They were written as pop songs, and trying to turn them into hymns that can be sung by the average and largely musically illiterate congregation just doesn't cut it. Also has songs written by his group who make very bad mistakes in their harmony that I would never have been allowed to get away with. Sometimes it feels like someone is stabbing me through the temples with an ice pick. Parallel fourths, fifths, and octaves; double thirds in a major chord, no third at all sometimes...doubling the Ti in a dominant chord? What the...?! Sigh. It's too bad Howard won the publishing wars.