Friday, December 31, 2010

Rock Slyde (movie, 2009)

I've been a fan of Patrick Warburton for quite some time--I guess I would have to put him close to the top of my list of favorite character actors as well as voice actors. I have found recently that he keeps turning up in unexpected places--the voice of the Wolf on Hoodwinked, which I and the kids saw recently and was quite funny, especially the parts including the Wolf; and the voice of the sheriff on the newest incarnation of Scooby Doo, to name two. Of course he's the voice of Brock Samson on The Venture Brothers, which is probably my favorite animated series at the moment. I was first introduced to him as Elaine's weird boyfriend on Seinfeld, who always wore that huge furry coat. But I've never seen him in a leading role. So I was pleasantly surprised when I came across a movie (I think it was on The Movie Channel) starring him, called Rock Slyde.

Rock Slyde is a comedy that spoofs both hard-boiled detective stories and villain-who-wants-to-take-over-the-world stories. Other major characters are played by Andy Dick (the villain), Elaine Hendrix (Slyde's secretary), and the beautiful Rena Sofer (Slyde's client). The rest of the cast is made up of many people who could, and have, starred in their own shows & movies but who play relatively small parts in this movie, which is unusual. For example, Jason Alexander plays a small part as a mailman. All three of the aforementioned supporting actors have appeared in lots of places and I'm sure you know them well.*

Andy Dick plays the leader of a weird pseudo-religious cult known as Bartology (which in itself is a spoof of Scientology), because his first name is Bart, although all his followers refer to him as "the blessed guru." However, instead of wanting to rule the entire world, Bart wants only to occupy one whole office building. The only one who stands in his way is Rock Slyde, who refuses to give up his office. Slyde has a shameful secret from his past, in that when he was younger and desperate for money he appeared in a gay pr0n musical called The Jolly Roger. Bart uses this information to attempt to blackmail Slyde. Slyde's skills as a detective remain in some doubt; he has a reputation as a poor detective and often makes stupid mistakes, however he has certain genius-level abilities such as being able to identify the make of a car, the key from which was used to key his own car, by simply looking at the shape of the scratch.

The humor is not over-the-top. I don't know if I'd go so far as to call it "subtle" but it doesn't usually (usually, I repeat) hit you over the head. I did laugh out loud several times, and I would recommend catching it sometime if you can. I think it's worth spending 90 minutes on.

*By the way, the first time I saw Rena Sofer, she appeared in a short-lived Sci-Fi series called The Chronicle which I enjoyed quite a lot. Unfortunately it seems this series has never been released to DVD; Netflix isn't even aware of its existence.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Stuff I want to see but can't get from Netflix

A self-explanatory post title. There are some titles that you can look up at Netflix, and they are listed but not available. So, instead of adding them to your queue, you can "save" them so you won't forget about them just in case they someday become available. So here is the list of stuff on my "saved" list. Some of them I've never seen and some of them I don't even remember what prompted me to add them.

Davy Crockett -- the TV series. Never seen. I've seen the movies.
Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow -- movie. Never seen.
Fat Albert -- the TV series. Saw it. Wanted to get them so my kids could watch them.
Get a Life -- TV series. Saw them all when they were on TV, but want to see them again.
Haibane-Renmei -- anime series. Never saw it.
Le Femme Nikita -- the movie. Saw it several years ago on some movie channel. Never saw the TV series, which I've read totally sucked if you were a fan of the movie, so I'm not interested in it.
Lupin the Third, volumes 1, 2, 3, 7 and 10 -- anime series. Never saw it. Volumes 4, 5, 6, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 are available, for some reason.
Philip Marlowe, Private Eye -- British TV series. Never seen.
Monster Squad -- Saturday morning live-action TV series starring Fred (Gopher) Grandy. Saw them all, I'm pretty sure, when it was on TV. Just thought I'd give it another go and also the kids would probably like it.
The Sword and the Sorcerer -- Saw this one in an actual theater, which is unusual for me. Of course they do have Krull (which I have ranted about before), so I don't know why they don't have this one. I saw Sorcerer as a double feature with the first Death Wish.
Tron -- They don't have Tron. WTF. Saw this one in a theater, too.
Vampire Hunter D -- anime movie. Never seen. Read about it. Read that Hellsing bore a lot of resemblance to this earlier movie.
Walking Tall -- the original. Can't believe they don't have it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Worst album covers of 2010

Link. I agree with most of them, but I thought the Devo cover was quite good.

Death Metal: Metalhit Free Download Series (mp3 download, 2010)

As I said before, I knew I wouldn't enjoy listening to some of this series, and this is one of them. I still downloaded it because all the intricate variations of the metal genre interest me.

Like all the other Metalhit samplers thus far, this collection focuses mostly on outside-the-U.S. bands; only one band from the U.S., the others being mostly from Europe, with a few from Russia, Mexico, and South America. Several of them are listed at Encyclopedia Metallum as "technical death metal," which is defined at Wikipedia thus: "a musical subgenre of death metal that focuses on complex rhythms, riffs and song structures." Further: "Phil Freeman, ex-editor of Metal Edge, has described the sub-genre of technical death metal as 'the hidden side of its genre, having more in common with prog-rock and jazz fusion than with the mechanistic, Satan-obsessed grinding that's the music's dominant public image.'"

I can't vouch for any of this stuff being "Satan-obsessed" or not, because I can't understand a word they're saying. It's all gutteral vocals, some reduced to the point of a monotone growl, which doesn't do much for me. I didn't hear a whole lot that seemed to be influenced by prog-rock or jazz fusion, either, but maybe that's just my uneducated ear.

There's not much point in me giving this one a rating of any kind, although if forced I guess I'd give it a 1.0 but I'll try listening to it more and see if I can hear anything I like. Still, it goes into the archive as a good collection of examples of what death metal sounds like.

Two more of these yet to go: Thrash, which I haven't listened to yet, and Doom, which hasn't been made available yet but which I'm looking forward to because it tends to be more "musical" to my ears and sometimes uses "clean" female vocals, which I really like.

Around the corner at Bill Miller's, probably

In the department where I work, we use our own personal vehicles when we have foot routes. Some routes must be driven, however, and for those we use a company truck. It was decided this past year that each employee should have his own permanently assigned company truck and never use his own personal vehicle again. That means we're getting 27 new trucks.

Today as I was working, I was struck by a thought. All parking at our office is full. There is no place to put 27 new trucks. So called in and asked my boss: "Where are we going to park all those new trucks?"

The answer: "That's what everyone is speculating about. I have no idea. I guess we'll find out when they get delivered."

I hadn't had a good, hard laugh like that in a long time. [Your utility company] in action, folks!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cleaning My Gun

I keep a weather eye on the horizon, back to the wall
I like to know who's coming through the door, that's all
It's the old army training kicking in
I'm not complaining, it's the world we live in

Blarney and Malarkey, they're a devious firm
Take you to the cleaners and let you burn
The help is breaking dishes in the kitchen, thanks a lot
We hired the worst dishwasher this place ever got

Hidden below the radar
They want to spoil our fun
In the meantime
I'm cleaning my gun

Remember it got so cold ice froze up the tank
We lit a fire beneath her just so she would crank
Keep a weather eye on the horizon
Tap the stone glass now and then
We got a case of old damnation
For when you get here, my friend

We can have ourselves
A party before they come
In the meantime
I'm cleaning my gun

We had women and a mirror ball, we had a DJ
He used to eat pretty much all that came his way
Ever since the goons came in took apart the place
I keep a tire iron in the corner just in case

Hang a little magic bullet on a little chain
Keep me safe from the chilly winds and out of the rain
We're gonna might need bullets should we get stuck
Any which way, we're gonna need a little luck

You can still get gas in heaven
And drink in kingdom come
In the meantime
I'm cleaning my gun

--Mark Knopfler, "Cleaning My Gun" from Get Lucky (2009)

Have a Heebie Jeebie Christmas

A really creepy Big Brother Santa flanked by a pair of sinister black-shirted elfenstürm. (I made that word up). Found today in a yard on a street that shall remain nameless in the far northwest nosebleed zone of S.A.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I hope all of you had a great Christmas. Ours was one of the best so far, I think. My best gift was just seeing the kids happy.

The new Wii is a lot of fun--it's some kind of special anniversary version that came with an extra Mario game plus the usual Sports disc. Oh yeah, and it's red. The kids are busy running Mario to death. I played quite a lot of bowling and tennis (btw, I almost look like I know what I'm doing with Wii tennis--completely the opposite of how I would look on a real tennis court), and after about the fifth round of bowling I really started wishing I had some demons or zombies or various other monsters to shoot or hack apart with a sword or something. I'm going to have to find something with a little more violence in it.

I fired up our little fireplace today, for the first time ever. It's nice. Doesn't do much to heat the house, but I still like it. I'll have to see if I can get my chainsaw working and start cutting up some of the dead wood around here.

As far as material gifts went today, I got a couple of new shirts, a new toolbox, some chocolate-covered cherries (a traditional gift for the adult males of our family, for some reason), and $50 cash. I also count the Wii as part of my own Christmas because I know I'm going to have fun playing with it, too.

I stuffed one of those pre-paid Net10 phones in my daughter's stocking. We activated it this morning and took it with us because I wanted to check its signal strength. That sucker had 5 bars solid all the way from La Vernia to Gonzales, while my T-Mobile phone is completely without signal starting around Stockdale until just outside Gonzales. The rest of the time the best I could get was 2 or 3 bars with T-Mobile. The Net10 phone lost its signal completely for a little while around the Nockenut area on 1681 on the way back (alternate route because I wanted to see if it had a signal back there in the boonies) but it just beat T-Mobile all to h***. I think I'm going to be switching mine and my wife's phones to Net10 also.

By the way, the reason we use T-Mobile is because way back in the olden days when we first got cell phones, back when T-Mobile was Voicestream and Jamie Lee Curtis did their commercials, that was the only company that got any coverage out here at all. We had tried AT&T before that but their coverage out here sucked--I actually had to stand on the roof of my truck one time to get a signal for a semi-emergency. Even now I have to stand next to a window to use my cell phone at home, and then I only get 2 bars and have to stand on the east side of the house or it goes completely dead. My daughter can go anywhere in the house with hers and get 5 bars.

And Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

There ain't no such thing as a universal universal remote

I don't for sure how long ago it was now, but I guess 4 or 5 years ago, one of the remotes for one of our DishNetwork receivers wore out. I was able to extend its life for a few months by carefully opening it and cleaning all the contacts with a pencil eraser (old computer tech trick), but eventually it gave out and many of the buttons had stopped working.

Thus began my quest to find a universal remote that I could use for a replacement. Note: I did not need a universal remote that would run everything. I just wanted one that I could program to replace the worn out satellite remote.

The first one I ever bought worked very well. Unfortunately, it wore out quite soon. I don't know why it wore out so quickly, but it did. Buttons stopped working, cleaning didn't help, it was shot. After that, I was never able to find one that worked exactly like I wanted it to. Something was always wrong with it that made it very inconvenient--something that I always had to figure out a workaround for. The last one was still working, sort of, but it kept doing things that infuriated me and finally I smashed it to pieces with my bare hands. I bought a new replacement a few days ago, made by Philips, which completely sucks. It sends the correct codes all right, but it sends a burst of repeat codes several seconds long so it's impossible to enter only one command at a time. Try selecting a channel with a remote that does that. My current workaround? I press a button and then quickly put my hand over the IR transmitter to block the remaining burst until it's finished.

And then suddenly it occurred to me: why not just see if I can get an identical replacement from DishNetwork? Man, how stupid I have been. I've probably spent $50-$60 trying different universal remotes during the past several years when I could have just spent $20 for an identical replacement.

So, the replacement is now on the way.

Don't think so...

You'd have to pay me a lot more than $1.00 to subscribe to that worthless garbage.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bizarre Records

Recently found this: Bizarre Records. Posts scans of strange record covers. Check it out.

I have pretty much lost all motivation for posting. I did make a start on writing up a review of Viva Max today, but those movie reviews I did before are very time-intensive, and it's going to take me a while.

So...that's all for now.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Today is this humble blogger's seventh blogiversary. Just thought I'd mention it. Nothing to see here now, just move along...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Folk Metal: Metalhit Free Download Series (mp3 download)

The Metalhit label ("the first extreme metal digital music store and digital record label") is releasing a series of free samplers via I wrote about their Gothic Metal sampler previously. I have learned over the past few years that I have an affinity for this type of music (and goth-rock in general), and as I mentioned I liked the sampler quite a lot. I am looking forward to downloading more of their samplers, mostly for my musical education and not necessarily because I think I'm going to like the stuff. In fact I know I'm not going to enjoy some of it.

The "Folk Metal" label piqued my curiosity; I had never heard of such a sub-genre before. Upon looking it up and reading about it, I didn't like everything I read. So I'll have to make a clear qualification here.

Musically, I really like this collection. It's metal, but with mostly clear (or clearish) vocals, and it incorporates various folk instruments from the various groups' countries of origin. Most of this sampler is European and Russian, with one British group and one Australian group (updated to add: and one Canadian group). Many of the lyrical themes are based on folktales and mythologies from those countries, which to me is also interesting.

The dark side is that these groups tend toward nationalism, along with all the uglinesses that can entail. Two out of the twelve groups on this sampler are openly racist--not necessarily in the songs included here, but according to some things I have read. So, you have been warned. This sampler gets a 2.4 in my personal scale of 0 to 3.

Nevertheless, there are songs on here that I will include in my general favorites playlist, the stand-out groups being Fferyllt (who, in spite of being Russian, seem to be focused on Celtic lore), Leshak and Temnozor from Russia and Heorot from Finland.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A couple of free Christmas Samplers

Both from If you do listen to some Christmas music this time of year, here are a couple of quick samplers to inject some freshness into your playlist. The Acorn sampler is all instrumental, while the X5 sampler is all vocal and sounds like groups of professional carolers. I would especially recommend track #1 of the Acorn sampler ("God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen") for a great example of some hammered dulcimer music. That's an instrument I haven't heard very often. If you haven't ever heard the hammered dulcimer, here's your chance.

The Cthulhu Ngram

From Ars Technica:
Is it possible to study something as ill-defined as culture in a quantitative manner? Researchers from Harvard have collaborated with Google and some traditional publishers to answer that question with a qualified "yes." By leveraging a portion of Google's massive library of digitized books, the team has created what they call a "culturome," with which they can track the use of language and terms across hundreds of years. This lets them track not only trends in language and usage, but the rise and fall of celebrities and historic events in the books of many eras. And, thanks to Google, the underlying data has been exposed via a Web interface, allowing others to perform their own analysis.

The authors didn't work with the full complement of Google's digitized texts, but the amount of material they did use is staggering: over 5 million books. They estimate that's about four percent of the books ever published. Google has about three times as many works scanned, but the scan quality and metadata on these—date and location of publication, etc.—isn't uniformly good, so the research has focused on the material with the best quality. Works start appearing at 1500, and include significant contributions in seven languages. They estimate that it would take someone 80 years to read it all, assuming said individual didn't eat or sleep.

Given this data source, the authors performed a simple analysis, identifying the frequency of a word relative to the total number of words produced that year. This compensates for the vast expansion in the printed word. In 1900, about 1.4 billion words a year were being printed; by 2000, that figure had reached 8 billion. With this data in hand, they performed a similar process for what they call "n-grams," or short phrases of up to five words.
And it's fun to play with. You can see it here.

click to enlarge

I don't know where that little blip at 1900 came from. Curious.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Maroon 5 - Songs About Jane (2002, yard sale CD)

I don't really bother to keep up with contemporary pop groups anymore. It took me several tries to listen to this; about 30-40 seconds into the first track I kept bailing out. Tonight I finally listened to the whole thing. This is the last of the CDs my wife picked up at a yard sale for 14 discs for $1.

Well, it's not really my thing. I understand this was one of those multi-platinum albums, but that doesn't mean much to me. I'm not going to delete it--it will go into the big archive, but that's about it. There's nothing on it that offends me musically, but I'm not thrilled by it, either, and occasional flare-ups of autotune doesn't help (apparently the singer isn't too solid on the high notes). So...mostly, this is the kind of group that would not make me change the station on the radio, although I'm stumped as to why I would be listening to a station that would play this in the first place.

I do like the cover.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Various Artists - Verve Unmixed 3 (2005, CD)

Just got this from yesterday. Apparently, Verve had put out a collection called Verve Remixed 3--part of a series in which jazz classics "were remixed by today's finest DJs." I am so totally uninterested in any such thing that I can't accurately say I have "zero" interest. My interest in it would be something more like negative 15. Anyway, they followed it up with this collection of the original untampered-with recordings which did interest me. It's basically a jazz sampler, mostly vocal, mostly female artists. Included are Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Anita O'Day, Sarah Vaughan, Shirley Horn, Blossom Dearie (who I hadn't previously heard of), Astrud Gilberto (who you probably know as the woman who sang "The Girl from Ipanema"), Jimmy Smith (instrumental), Hugh Masekela (instrumental, mostly) and Dinah Washington.

Pretty good collection, and it doesn't duplicate anything I already had except for the Jimmy Smith track. The Dinah Washington track is from her more jazzy stuff--not the kind of thing that could be considered pop by any means. "Little Girl Blue" by Nina Simone has a very strange and poignant juxtaposition of melodies--the piano is playing "Good King Wenceslas" but she's singing a completely different tune.

So...a good addition for the collection.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ultravox - Vienna (1980, LP)

I have mentioned this one before but I recently re-ripped it to encode it at a higher bit rate. In short, I bought this one because I heard Geddy Lee mention it in a radio interview. I have one other album of theirs but I haven't re-ripped it yet. Ultravox were a British synthpop (for lack of a better term) group, fairly heavy on the electronics. Their music--that is, of their music that I'm familiar with--has a kind of darkness of atmosphere to it. I like it quite a lot. It's not the kind of thing that ever got played on any radio stations around here, to my knowledge. They recently re-formed and are active again, I think. This was their first album with then new lead singer/guitarist Midge Ure. They had three previous albums with a different lead singer.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Gothic Metal: Metalhit Free Download Series (mp3 download)

I haven't been downloading as much this year as last year, mostly because I've been spending more time trying to digitize my old records. Anyhow, I've seen others from this series before but skipped them. This one was in the regular email from Amazon several days ago and I decided to download it and see what it was like.

I like it a lot--the lyrics I posted yesterday were from a song in this collection. In my personal ratings system, which, as a reminder, goes roughly from 0 to 3, although higher than 3 is possible but extremely rare, this album gets an overall 2.9.

Generally, in this collection you're going to hear metal that is heavy yet melodic and harmonic (that is, musical), some keyboards (including piano!), and some growled male vocals along with "clean" female vocals. Tempos tend to be slower and lyrics tend toward the dark and doomy, as they should in this kind of music.

One problem with this one, however, is that track #10 is incomplete. It is a sampler collection, after all, but since all the other tracks are complete and this one just abruptly stops at 5:55, it must have just been a goof on someone's part. A commenter at Amazon said that the actual track is about 3 minutes longer.

Twelve tracks, total playing time about an hour. I might also mention that I tried to look up several of these groups on Wikipedia, but of the ones I looked for none of them were included there. However, the Encyclopaedia Metallum has proven most helpful in filling in more information on these groups.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Word of the day: Mysteriarch

Darkness devours me again
the whirling, black depth of abysmal night
And he stands before me like a dreadful prophet
like some ancient Mysteriarch

O those eldritch eyes
they glow like sorcerous orbs
like fearful stars of unseen spheres
wise with the secrets of Time

I know he came for me
through the vast gateways of hell
passing from fearful, grey worlds
hidden deep in nightmare's well

The ravenous demons of time fed upon me
like vultures upon the flesh
O, cryptical phantasm let me drown
with the oblivious flow of non-existence

Come swiftly sublime spectre
reveal the endless voids that Night does hide
Spread thine empyreal wings
and lead me to the vast eternity of dark

--The Nameless Eidolon
Even Song

Doom metal. Very beautiful and ethereal music. Man, I'm really liking this stuff. Here's a link to the video, possibly, but I haven't watched it yet. Might download it later tonight. I actually had to use a dictionary for a few of these words--I felt like I was reading Clark Ashton Smith again.

More on this later.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A glimpse into the future...

Me in 40 years.

Actually that's Thomas Johnston Taylor, a.k.a. Lord Taylor of Gryfe, found at Famous Pipe Smokers.

If, and I repeat, if I lose that much hair. If I take after my father's side of the family, I will lose my hair but keep my hair color. If I take after my mother's side, I will keep my hair but it will turn a magnificent silvery-white, which is what I'm hoping for. Also my eyes will probably not change from blue to brown, but you get the idea.


Found this carefully laminated recipe today lying in the street near Fantasia & Reverie.

I got the stomach bug. I started feeling it Sunday afternoon, it hit with full force about 8:00 Sunday night, and kept me horizontal almost continuously through this morning, when I was able to get up and go to work even though I still felt (and feel) shaky.

My jerky supplies came in today but I don't think I'll be making anymore jerky just yet. I don't know if I'm up to handling raw meat yet.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Another pointless ramble

We were supposed to be at a Christmas tree lighting/flag raising ceremony tonight, but my daughter has come down with the stomach bug that my wife had last week. She is miserable, weak, tired and sporadically feverish. Since my wife has to work tonight I've just been trying to ease my daughter's discomfort all day.

Other than that, I have been setting up more "Santa with pipe" posts for The Briar Files, finished cleaning up/converting another record, and tried a couple of dehydrating experiments. Dried apple slices are quite nice and I have been enjoying them by popping a couple in my mouth along with a piece of jerky. I'm slowly working up to creating homemade pemmican.* Dried banana slices are also okay--my son likes them much more than the apple but he doesn't really care for apples. I'm just the opposite--I greatly prefer apples over bananas. And lastly, I tried dehydrating a little yogurt to make a yogurt leather. It tasted great, but I forgot to spray "Pam" on the leather sheet first so it stuck pretty bad. We scraped it all off and ate it, anyway.

My curing salt and liquid smoke have been shipped. Should come in this coming week. I bought more meat yesterday so I can get started as soon as the stuff comes in.

I note that my followers list for both this and The Briar Files have grown a little recently. Welcome aboard to all the new folks. Glad to have you around.

I have it on good authority that Santa is going to be bringing our family a Wii this Christmas. Can anyone recommend any halfway decent similar-to-D&D games available for it, if any? I understand that the system will also run older Gamecube games, so any of those are acceptable for recommendation, too.

I found two $20 bills blowing around in the street in Helotes this week. Christmas bonus!

"Pemmican" is in Firefox's spellcheck dictionary, but "briar" is not? My next project is to edit my own spellcheck dictionary. Also apparently in the previous sentence the first "spellcheck" is spelled correctly but the second is not. Neither is the one in that sentence. If anyone can see the difference, please let me know.

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Last Airbender (the movie)

Spoilers ahead.

Saw the movie version of Avatar: The Last Airbender tonight. If you haven't seen it yet, and if you have never seen the animated series, here is my recommendation: don't watch the movie. Just watch the animated series, from beginning to end if you can. The movie attempted to condense 20 half-hour episodes into an hour and 45 minutes. It resulted in about the same kind of movie that Dune was. If you had already seen the series, you knew what was going on, or what was supposed to be going on. If you hadn't, well... The bad news is, there has to be two more movies like this to finish the whole series.

A couple of technical gripes. Aang running sideways along a wall (using his airbending skills) looked really slow and lame. Actually, pretty much all of the elemental bending special effects looked far too slow. Also Aang never used his airball technique, which was a disappointment for both me and the kids. I was looking forward to seeing a CGI version of that. Another thing that bugged all of us is that the pronunciation of some of the names was changed from the series. And if you only watch the movie, you'll never know that Appa and Momo had names. Also the movie was entirely lacking in the humor that made a large part of the series, which meant there was no tension at all between humor and suspense. Another weird thing was that the Fire people all looked Middle Eastern, the Earth tribes looked Asian, and the Water and Air people looked like everyone else.

Another thing that was different was that in the movie, Aang was told by a spirit-dragon that the Avatar is not allowed to hurt people. This was absolutely not so in the series. Aang's avoidance of killing and even injuring when possible was purely his personal choice, and several spirit beings as well as the spirits of previous Avatars told him he was going to have to get over that if he was going to save the world.

And for the love of sanity, don't form an opinion on the overall story arc if you only see the movie. There is so much more background and development in the series that the movie is just a joke, but not the funny kind.

I keep thinking of more things I could say that were wrong with it, but I think I've had enough. Like I said, just watch the series.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Another jerky update

The last batch of venison jerky was very good. Very simple and old-fashioned, no measurements, just eyeball everything. Sprinkle lightly with tenderizer, bang it with a meat mallet, sprinkle with a little black pepper, flip all the pieces over and repeat for the other side. Then I dry them at 155 for about 3 - 3 1/2 hours, the smaller pieces get a shorter time than the larger pieces. Then just to be safe, I used a trick I read in a book on dehydrating that I recently got. I pop them all into a pre-heated 200-degree oven for about 30 minutes to make sure they're safe to eat.

I've begun carrying a small ziplock baggie with several pieces in it to snack on while I'm working; I'm able to go without stoking myself up with junk food to get more calories. That's sure to be a good side-effect in the long run.

One advantage of our new house is I have a lot more room for this stuff; I don't have to constantly move things around in the kitchen to make room for the dehydrator. I plan on soon getting more accessories for the dehydrator and trying some fruit leathers this weekend. Still waiting for my shipment of liquid smoke to come in. I won't be making any ground meat jerky until I get it.

I draw the line at tofu jerky, however. I'm not going to touch that stuff.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Quick update

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 29, 2010

Experimenting with venison jerky.

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

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

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

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms (1985, LP)

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

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

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

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

Jerky stuff

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

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

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

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Things to be thankful for

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

All your parts are belong to us

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

Tommy Shaw - What If (1985, LP)

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Queensryche injured in bombing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So there. Let the derision begin.

Monday, November 22, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 21, 2010

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

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


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

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

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

Saturday, November 20, 2010

And a couple of Charlie Chaplin movies

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

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

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

To Be or Not To Be (1983 version)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


That explains quite a lot, actually.

I'm famous again

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

Monday, November 15, 2010


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

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

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

Saturday, November 13, 2010

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

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

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

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

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: perfect rip.

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

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

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fun with playlists: rain

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

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

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

Paper CD display boxes, part 5

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

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Motown Legends Volume 3 (yard sale CD)

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

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

Spend a few minutes and watch this video first.

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Back from the (near) dead

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

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

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

Saturday, November 06, 2010


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

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

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

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

Friday, November 05, 2010

Special notice for all wives and potential wives

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Good news, everyone!

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

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

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Obligatory Cthulhu election humor post


Paper CD display boxes, part 4

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

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

The Southern Death Cult (1983, LP)

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


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

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

Okay, so I voted...

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

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

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

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

Fun with playlists: brain

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 01, 2010

Fun with playlists

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

Alphanumeric order.

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

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

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

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

Even with the giant-class humanoid damage bonus!

Since I'm on dial-up, graphics load rather slowly. So I just want to say that I laughed out loud at the very first panel in this comic, before I had even seen the rest. The intro was better than the punch line. probably won't get my post title if you've never played D&D, but I'm pretty sure most readers of this blog have, at one time or another.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Obligatory Halloween post

Some people have a resolution to make at least one post per day. There was a time when I couldn't have restricted myself to such low output. These days I can barely force out one per week, it seems.

Last week seemed quite hectic. Even the days when I thought I could slack off after work, something always happened to cut into my downtime. So I'm behind where I wanted to be in my music stuff, but I did manage to go through several tracks today, fortunately.

We had a great Halloween festival sponsored by our church last night (I should add great, as usual). My daughter had been invited by a friend to go to another tonight, and wife was working, so only my son and I went to church services tonight, but we hit the streets afterward and he still got a good haul. I scored myself during the cakewalk at the festival last night--I won a platter of white chocolate chip cookie bars, which is probably what I would have selected if I had been allowed to choose it myself anyway. By the way, someone at our congregation has been making these things called "cookie cakes" which I have tried and they are just about the best baked confection I have ever eaten. It's like a huge single cookie but covered with cake frosting. Yow.

For the record this year my daughter was an Egyptian princess (don't know where she came up with that), and my son was Batman. This time he had one of those costumes with the false muscles, which he liked but it made him sweat a lot.

My friend Brer at PowerOfBabel has been posting a series on witches (in pop culture and folklore) this week which I have enjoyed, so click on over and check it out if you have the inclination. Another friend (and Brer's brother) Babel has created a nice slide show for Halloween, you can visit his blog The Absurd Good News Network to check it out.

And finally, a few Halloween-themed links from the folks at Cracked.

The 7 Most Ridiculous Ghost Stories from Around the World
8 Psychologically Traumatizing Kids Halloween Costumes (I wonder if they make that goth cheerleader in adult sizes)
26 Sexy Halloween Costumes that Shouldn't Exist (I must admit that Darth Vader costume made me pause)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I hope you're happy, Chet

Today I was on a regular motor route that takes two people about two hours (we did some other stuff also). Since the other guy was driving, he got to pick the radio station (which is proper car radio etiquette, you know). He used to always listen to frikkin Jim Rome but for some reason no longer the way I always found Rome's shows highly amusing because pro sports means less than a rat's ass to me...lately my partner has been usually ending up on some rock station or the other, but today it was KJ97 all the way.

Now, I realize that "country" music has been going downhill in the past several (many) years because of pop/rock invading it. However, I didn't realize it was this bad. It seemed that they played one token country song per hour--I was so surprised to hear "Family Tradition" that for a minute I thought he had switched to KKYX, but no, it was still KJ97--although sometimes the token country song was really more of a token "country" song. The rest of the time it was just plain ol' straight up rock music. No finer examples of the typical rock song could be heard anywhere. There was even one song in which the female singer (I think it was female) went into what can only be accurately described as hip-hop for about 10 seconds--by searching for what I guessed was the title I found that it was Sugarland, who I had never heard before but now I understand first hand that they suck (and their fans are stupid). Hint: country music does not have power chords or autotune.

It's no wonder so many country music listeners are so cheesed off. Some of you realize that that stuff being passed off as country most certainly isn't, and the rest of you are so musically ignorant you don't know what the $#@! it is you're listening to. It's like someone made up a bunch of chocolate ice cream and started passing it off as vanilla, and almost everyone believed it.

Look, if you enjoy listening to it, that's fine. No problem. Just don't try to delude yourselves into thinking you have some superior level of integrity or plain-old-folksiness because you're calling it something it isn't. You poor hoodwinked dupes.