Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Weird search hit

I know why this string could result in my Briar Files blog turning up, so that's not the strange part.  I just wonder what in the heck they were looking for.

Monday, November 28, 2011

No Bankai!

This cracks me up. If you watch the original Bleach episodes on DVD or streaming--that is, not the version that has been shortened a little for American television, they have these short, 30-second pieces tacked onto the end that are not considered canonical and are there only for humorous purposes. The phrase "Shinigami zukan!" at the beginning is translated in the English dub as "Illustrated Guide to Soul Reapers."* The old man in this one is Head Captain Yamamoto, the leader and most powerful of all the Soul Reapers.

So I realize if you're not a Bleach watcher it probably won't be very funny.  The "bankai" is what a more powerful Soul Reaper can do to release his zanpakuto to its final, most powerful form.  They do it only when the S is really hitting the F.

There is actually quite a lot of humor in Bleach, but you have to pay attention.  Most of it is character-based, so it only works once you know the characters.

*The world "shinigami" is the same word that's translated in Death Note to "death god," but in Bleach it's translated as "soul reaper."

P.S.  I think Yamamoto would make an awesome action figure.  And the variations!  There would be "Old Man Yammie" before he lost his left arm, after he lost is left arm, and with his zanpakuto disguised as a walking stick or released into its flaming blade form.  Nice.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Who did you say?

Of newts and salamanders

Glenn B. writes an interesting post about newts and salamanders.  His two newts remind me of a Lovecraftian critter which HPL never officially named but which for convenience sake is now referred to as a Deep One.

The Deep One was said to be immortal unless killed, and couldn't even starve to death, merely shrinking smaller and smaller but never dying, and regrowing to normal size when they get to eat again.

Not that that's related to anything except that it's what I was reminded of.  Anyway, very interesting post by Glenn B., who shows a photo of his two newts and tells about them.  Check it out.

Ah Pook The Destroyer - The Silver Key

Ah Pook The Destroyer are a duo consisting of Paul Shapera on vocals, keyboards and percussion and Matthew Broyles on vocals, guitar, bass and vocoder.  The Silver Key is their musical interpretation of the H.P. Lovecraft story of the same title.  From their website:
When people think of H.P.Lovecraft, the first mental impression tends to arise from the dark depths of the Cthulhu mythos. But Lovecraft was also a philosopher, a true iconoclast untempered by the literary zeitgeist of his age. One of the clearest expressions of this aspect is the short story The Silver Key. Ostensibly belonging to his dream-tale canon, upon further examination this is actually in many ways a manifesto, an accounting of one man's attempt to understand the society into which he was born, and the judgment that it is found lacking.
The most interesting aspect of translating this story wasn't the actual storytelling, which was secondary. It was the soundscapes and depths of emotion that different ideas the story presented could lead to musically. This story lends itself particularly well towards being reconceived into music because it is not an event oriented tale. It's a rumination, which suggests music so very well.
As far as musical style, I would say it's safely within the genre of progressive rock.  Too many attempts at "Lovecraftian music" fall into styles (death metal, for example) that are not easily accessible to most listener's ears, but this is not one of those.  This album is a mixture of spoken narration and sung lyrics.

You can listen to the whole thing by streaming it online.  Just go to Ah Pook The Destroyer and follow the links.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Run, Tommy! They're starting their tractors!

Arnold was my favorite comic back in the 80s.  It was probably the most twisted comic strip ever to make it into mainstream newspapers, and I was sad to see it end.

Fortunately, a few precious strips have been preserved for all to see.  Here and here.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Causing chaos at Wal-Mart and other things

Pretty good holiday week here.  On Sunday we went to my dad's house for an early Thanksgiving feast, in which there was no turkey but there was (H.E.B. smoked) brisket and spring rolls home-made by my technical step-brother's Filipino wife.  I say "technical" because he is my dad's wife's son but we didn't grow up together and I hardly know him.

On the day itself we went to my father-in-law's house and did have turkey as well as ham.  Most importantly, to me, were the desserts.  I was able to have both key lime pie and lemon meringue pie.  After I had let it settle for a while and taken a short walk to burn a little off, I topped it off with some cheesecake.  Today I stayed far away from all the retail store mayhem and did nothing.

I have--at long last--finished uploading that whole album of First Quest:  The Music to YouTube.  So if you remember my old post on that subject and you want to sample some of the sounds, just go to my YouTube channel and they are all there (YouTube links on the sidebar).  I've also uploaded a few tracks from another out-of-print album I've mentioned:  Medieval Music by The Jaye Consort.  I'm looking through my collection now and trying to find something else obscure and out of print to upload.

I did go to Wal-Mart on Wednesday for a few things, and used one of those hand baskets which have that little alert thingy affixed to the bottom of them.  When I came out, there was no stack of them by the exit, so I just dropped it and walked through those alarm detector things, and suddenly this doorbell-sounding alarm started going off.  Customers began backing up because the greeter couldn't figure out if someone was trying to steal something or what--it wasn't the same kind of alarm that goes off when they forget to demagnetize something.  About a half-dozen drones were walking around chaotically because they couldn't figure out what was setting it off until finally someone else walked up and said it was that basket and moved it.  Some old guy was standing there surveying the chaos with me and I told him, "Oh, you know what?  I put that basket down too close to the exit.  It must've been me that set it off."  He laughed heartily at that.  I thought it was pretty funny, too.

By the left frontal lobe of the Sky Demon!

If you have a Netflix subscription that includes DVD rental, here's a tip for you.  They do have Doctor Who:  The Pirate Planet on DVD.  This one is from the Tom Baker era, and features a cyborg pirate captain who swears oaths by various body parts of "the Sky Demon," whatever that is.

Most importantly, you should know that this adventure was written by the late, great Douglas Adams.  It's quite funny.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Interesting and very cool trail cam photo

This came to me via F*c*b**k, and I thought it worth passing on here.

This was taken by a trail cam near Jacksonville, Texas.  Some of the comments seemed strange, to me, as if people were shocked to see such a thing.  Jacksonville is over in eastern Texas, quite far from here, but as I may have told some of you before, cougars used to live around here, too.  Some old-timer coyote hunters told me tales of their hounds trailing a "lion," as they called them, and I saw one myself in broad daylight when I was six years old.  Scared the cr*p out of me, too.

Back then the school bus didn't go down our road, and we lived about two miles from the highway.  So every day the bus would drop me off and I'd walk the two miles home.  At that time, there were no other families with school-age kids living back there, and my sister was still only two years old, so I walked it alone every day.  My grandmother lived with us then to baby-sit my sister, and she didn't drive so she didn't have a car.  I had gone about a mile down the road, well out of sight of the highway, when I just happened to look behind me and saw one saunter across the road about 50 yards away.  I knew what it was, since I'd seen pictures of them in books and movies, and like I said, I was a scared little six-year-old kid.  I knew there was an elevated deer blind near the road not much farther along, and I considered maybe climbing into it and trying to hide until I heard a car coming, because I knew my dad would be coming home from work within an hour or so.  I kept watching carefully for any signs of its approach, staying in the middle of the road where I'd have plenty of open space around me.  By the time I got to the deer blind, I hadn't seen it again and I knew an old retired couple lived a little farther down the road, so I kept going until I got to their house.  I knocked on their door and told them what I'd seen and that I was afraid to walk all the way home, and the old gentlemen gave me a ride the rest of the way.

That night, I told my dad what I'd seen.  He asked me to describe it, and then he said, "Well, I've heard them screaming at night sometimes, but I didn't ever tell you because I didn't want to scare you."

That was the only time I ever saw one.

But it really happened

Today I called a co-worker on the Nextel and told him, "I almost stumbled over a homeless guy crashed in the alley.  He was lying on his sleeping bag reading a Stephen King book."

He answered, "That sounds like the beginning of a story."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's not a ch*p*c*br*

But it sure looks weird.

Via Weird Sh*t Blog, who also makes a ch-word joke.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

50 Words for Snow pre-listen

Although it won't be released until November 21, you can listen to the entirety of Kate Bush's new album 50 Words for Snow at NPR.  Just click.

NOTE:  The popular adage that Eskimos have "50 words for snow" is a myth.  They really have only one, and roughly translated into English it means "not this damn stuff again."

FOLLOW-UP:  Disappointing and boring.  It sounds like she's just noodling around on the piano and melodically muttering to herself for 65 minutes.  Worst Kate Bush album ever.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

CD on the way out?

Interesting article at Daily Finance.  Major music labels are unofficially saying the CD will be phased out in only a year?  Seems too fast, to me.  If so, I hope they begin packaging "digital booklets" with their downloads.  I'd rather have a paper booklet, but a digital one will be better than nothing.  I also hope more major digital retailers begin offering FLAC as a file format option.

I'm not snobby enough to have anything against the mp3, but when I buy a download album and then discover it's in only 256 kpbs, it kinda pisses me off.

I mean, I re-encode high bitrate mp3s that I plan on putting on my phone/mp3 player to a lower bitrate just so I can cram more on there, but the audio produced by these gadgets isn't good enough to bother with high bit rates anyway.  But I still want the original high bit rate files for my home system, and if I pay full album price, I think it's not unreasonable to expect at least 320 kbps.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I think the answer is obvious

But what if my favorite map projection is a great circle map with me in the center?

Saturday, November 12, 2011


First, I should say that I watched the entirety of Wyrd Sisters and enjoyed it very much.  The three witches are some of my favorite Discworld characters, especially the interactions of Granny Weatherwax and Magrat.  I had said before that the only actor I recognized was Christopher Lee, who played Death.  However, I then also noticed Annette Crosbie, who I know best as Margret Meldrew from One Foot in the Grave, who performed the voice of Granny Weatherwax.  A pleasant diversion, if you ever get a chance to watch it.

On the subject of documentaries, I watched Texas Chainsaw Massacre:  A Family Portrait.  It was made in 1988, so it's already somewhat old, and it consists entirely of interviews with the people who played the Chainsaw family, but not with any of the actors who played the victims.  It was still interesting, as they gave many details regarding the making of the movie, and I think the most interesting (and entertaining) interviewee was Edwin Neal, who played "the hitchhiker."  Also tacked onto the end was some very brief commentary by Forry (as in Forrest J.) Ackerman, who had something to do with it.  He wrote the original screenplay?  Anyway he's not officially credited on the movie itself, as far as I can tell.  Filming the movie was a very grueling experience, and some of them didn't finish it without injuries.  Neal was in two scenes which I thought should have been included but which were cut from the movie and which they showed brief clips of.  One funny thing I learned was that Tobe Hooper was trying to film it so that it would also look good on television, and Neal laughed about this because he knew it could never be shown on TV.  So if you're interested at all in this seminal horror flick, it should be interesting to you.  It runs 64 minutes.

The second documentary I watched was H.H. Holmes:  America's First Serial Killer, from 2004.  I thought it was odd that I had never heard of him because of the books I've read on serial killers in general, but there you go.  Holmes' real name was Herman Mudgett, and his story is amazing, because of what he got away with.  He was an actual physician who started out just being one of the world's best ever con men.  He built a "castle" in Chicago near the site of the 1893 World's Fair, and would offer lodging in his "castle" to tourists who were in town to attend the fair.  Since he focused so heavily on tourists, no one even knew they had gone missing.  He had numerous secret rooms and passages in his "castle," which was a combination of his own home, some offices and some alleged "hotel rooms" available for rent.  He built a secret system of gas pipes which he could control from his master room to asphyxiate people who rented rooms from him.  In the basement he had a veritable torture chamber.  He was able to afford building this huge place mostly by defrauding his contractors and suppliers, and rarely paid anyone for anything--and somehow got away with it.  And for a real kicker:  after he killed someone he would clean and mount the skeleton and sell it to medical schools and hospitals.  No one knows how many people he killed because of his method of choosing mostly tourists, but he was eventually caught and hanged.  Watch the show if you want to find out how, because I shouldn't give away everything.  It's a fascinating story of someone who was operating during the same time frame as Jack the Ripper, killed many times more people than the Ripper did, but today is almost unknown.  This one also runs 64 minutes.

Oh, and I almost forgot.  I also watched Dracula:  The Vampire and the Voivode.  From 2008, running time 84 minutes.  It starts out with a biography of Bram Stoker, then has a lot of information about Vlad Tepes, then spends a lot of time showing how Tepes was not the inspiration for Stoker's Dracula except for the name.  It also tells about the discrepancies between Stoker's Dracula and the real Transylvania and finishes up with the modern day legacy of Dracula.  I already knew most of this stuff, but one thing that I was amused to learn was the Dracula was banned as "decadent Western literature" in communist Romania but was one of the first western books published after the death of CeauČ™escu.  These days, modern Romania makes big tourist bucks because of that book.  Not a bad documentary, but it would probably be more interesting to someone who hadn't already spent a lot of time reading about this stuff.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

This & that

I have a holiday tomorrow.  I mention this only because it's the first time in my working life that I've ever had a holiday on Veteran's Day.  I didn't even know about it until this past Monday, and in fact there were still a few people in my department who didn't find out about it until just this morning.  I lost the list of our scheduled holidays for this year, but I already have next year's and it isn't on the list for next year.  So I don't know what's going on.  Maybe they decided to add it at the last minute?  I don't know.

I got in a fresh pound of Bayou Night today, which as I have mentioned is my favorite pipe tobacco.  My substitute that was made simply by mixing up some Virginia and Perique was okay, but I had gone overboard with the Perique and was running out, so the last batch I mixed didn't have much in it.  Straight bulk Virginia is kind of bland and sweet.  Better than nothing (better than straight burley, for example [in my opinion]), but pretty boring.

I discovered on Netflix yesterday that there are two animated series made from Discworld books:  Wyrd Sisters and Soul Music.  Made in the U.K.  The first is made up of six 24-minute episodes, the second is seven 24-minute episodes.  I've read Wyrd Sisters so I decided to watch it first.  So far I've watched only the first episode--tried to watch episode 2 today but I was feeling quite drained and fell asleep.  Of course they aren't as good as the books, because Pratchett is so good at describing things, and his method doesn't translate well to the screen.  Still, I enjoyed that one episode that I did watch and am looking forward to seeing the rest.  Christopher Lee does the voice of Death, although his voice is electronically altered--deepened and echoed.  I don't recognize any of the other voice actors.  The animation is a little odd, especially in the way the characters' faces look--there seems to be a preponderance of reddened noses.  By the way, the TV versions of The Colour of Magic and Hogfather are also available for streaming on Netflix--two 2-hour episodes each.

I found a site called 19 Nocturne Boulevard that does "radio" dramas.  Today I listened to part 1 of their version of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror" and I liked it.  It isn't just a straight reading of the story, but has been adapted to sound like a real radio drama, although made for downloading rather than broadcasting.  You can find it here.  It's in four episodes of about 33 minutes each.  They don't focus exclusively on Lovecraft, but on horror tales in general.

The cooler weather has made working much easier and nicer.  I got rained on a little Tuesday when that norther blew through, but not much.  The funny thing about Tuesday was, I went from using the air conditioner in my company truck to using the heater and then back to the a/c again before the day was over.

We are in the middle of a project of changing out old meters with new ones, so if you have a meter that's more than 15 years old there's a good chance it will be swapped with a new one before we're done.  I did my cycle 11 route yesterday--that's the one that's all alleys at Rittiman & Harry Wurzbach.  It's the worst foot route I've ever done and mentioning it can make meter readers wince if they've ever done it before.  My previous best time on it was 3 1/2 hours, and that was in the summer of 2009 when it didn't rain at all for a long time and nothing was growing in the alleys all summer long.  This time, because of all the new meters that had been installed, I did it in my fastest ever time of 3 1/4 hours.  Previously this year it was taking me 4 hours or longer.  That was the route where I attempted the video the other day.  By the way, a meter is supposed to be swapped out with a new one when it reaches 15 years or 1200 units (1200 centicubic feet).  There were quite a lot of 30-year-old (and some older) meters out there before this project started.

And if you live around here I'm sure you've already heard that the other w4t3r company has been dissolved and will be taken over by my company of employment.  I don't know anything about that and if I did I wouldn't be allowed to talk about it, so don't bother asking.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Work video

Well, that didn't come out too well. I tried taking a video of some dogs today with my non-smart phone just to see if it would work, but the sun glare was so bad I couldn't see what was on the screen. Decent audio, though.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


BobG mentioned this in a comment to the previous post, but I thought it was worth its own post.

Amusing.  However, I don't agree with this pronunciation of R'lyeh.  It's much too elegant, simple and human-sounding.  I think the apostrophe should be used as a sort of glottal stop or perhaps a fricative, and the whole word should sound like you're trying to gag up something distasteful.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Voting for the greatest evil

Of course, that depends on your definition of "evil."  Anyway, here's a collection of past & present Cthulhu/Lovecraft election posters at The Lovecraftsman.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Charlie Brown and Schroeder

How did Schroeder begin playing the piano anyway?  And how young was he at the time?  He was introduced to it by Charlie Brown, of course, before he even learned to talk.

And how began his obsession with Beethoven?  Charlie Brown, again.

And who gave him his first bust of Beethoven?  Who do you think?

Charlie Brown and Schroeder.  They go way back.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Now it all makes sense

I finally understand the relationship between C3PO and Darth Vader.

Thanks to Regrettable Music.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Spite candy never tastes very good

I've just discovered what appears to be the full run of Peanuts at GoComics.com.  I'm going to busy for a while.

A very eldritch Great Pumpkin

By M.S. Corley.