Thursday, December 16, 2004

CD Spotlight -- 12/16/2004


Sheena Easton -- The World of Sheena Easton (1993)

Anna and I have been listening to this extremely cheesy CD recently while she plays with her Barbie Princess & The Pauper Castle--which was her reward for a very successful foray into potty training. This is a CD that I bought in the summer of 1993 to replace another Sheena Easton best-of CD that I had which was woefully incomplete. And by woefully incomplete it was 19 tracks vs. 10 tracks, so one can hardly blame me for trading up.

It has all the best known stuff--"Morning Train (9 to 5)", "Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)", and "Strut." But it also contains the lesser known but absolutely fabulous "So Far So Good" which is just a great pop song and is about as close to perfect as pop gets. Add this to the fact that it's from About Last Night... and, well, how can you possibly go wrong? The rest of it is pretty much standard 80s cheesefest. The production on tracks such as "Machinery" and "Devil in a Fast Car" (both minor hits that I'd never heard before this compliation) postiviely reeks leg warmers and Rubik's cubes. But yet, there's something oddly intriguing that pulls you into "Machinery"--of course, it could be the fact that the word "machinery" is in a song, let alone the title of the song but who knows.

Sheena's voice is always kind of weak--or at least never the strongest. But these are pretty slight songs, so it's not that big of a deal. It'd actually be a little bit disturbing to hear a big Streisand or Celine Dion-ish voice doing these songs. I always remember the running gag on "Just Say Julie" about how Sheena sold her soul to the devil for success.

The songs are fun, but they're not going to light the world on fire. But they make for a fun time playing with my daughter. Moments like that you can't put a price tag on.Posted by Hello

Tin roof's burnt to a crisp!

BBC NEWS | Americas | Cult band's 'Love Shack' gutted

I have a love/hate relationship with the song, but it's undeniably catchy and undeniably a part of my senior year of high school.

Bizarreness


This is, once again, shamelessly stolen from another blog--Planet Dan in this instance. But if ever a picture begged for a captioning contest, this one's it. Heidi's come up with the best one so far:

"Hilda was very unhappy when she found out that Barbara was wearing her favorite pair of underwear."

And don't ask me what the origin of the picture is because I have absolutely no freaking idea.Posted by Hello

Should be in bed

...because it's freaking 12:54AM and I have to get up and take the car to the shop at 8AM tomorrow. Oh well, I can always throw a hat on--it's not like I have to impress these people with my devastatingly good looks. *rolls eyes* I'm stuck in a rut tonight listening to music, putting the finishing touches on Jeff's annual CD that I make him every Christmas. We're getting together on Friday to have our Christmas which will be fun. Anna is always happy to see Jeff because he dotes on her like crazy and showers her with attention. I'm so excited to give him his Christmas present because it was a total coup on my part. I don't dare mention it here until after Christmas in case he reads this (I don't think he does, but who'd want their Christmas present ruined that way?)

I found out today that Andy Bell of Erasure is HIV positive. Not good news.

Other than that, I'm off work today and tomorrow which is weird--I don't usually get two days in a row off during the week--but I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I hope to get some shopping for Heidi done sometime tomorrow. I tried today but Anna just didn't cooperate with me and we ended up just heading for the library and hanging out there. Heidi's been sick the last couple days and we were trying to get out of her hair.

I'm reading this book called What's The Matter With Kansas? and it's (so far) been very enlightening. I was expecting yet another left-wing diatribe against conservatism, and although there is that, it's much more subdued than anything else I've ever read on the topic. I was telling Heidi that if the book is doing any one thing, it's helping me to understand moderate Republicans a little bit better. I still don't get the right wing crackpots like Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity, but the more moderate Republicans are a different breed. They agree with the power of the market and that taxes are bad which I still think is misguided, but they're not all running around like chickens with their heads cut off being one issue voters on abortion or gay rights or anything like that. Some of them are even *gasp* compassionate and tolerant. It's so interesting to read the infighting in the Kansas Republican Party between the moderates and the ultra-right wing conservatives. I still have a hard time believing that you can support Bush and claim to be a moderate because Bush really is anything but, but I have a better understanding. And isn't that what reading is supposed to do?

Monday, December 13, 2004

Photo Essay: Chicago Then & Now

Gapers Block, Chicago, IL - Photo Essay: Chicago Then & Now

Found this via Metafilter, natch. This is so damn impressive--a guy attempts to recreate some photos taken of Chicago 50 years ago. The results are shocking and rather sad for the most part. But it's defintely worth a look-see.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Place The State

Place The State - Intermediate

Try this--I can pretty much guarantee you'll do worse than you expect. I did, but I was never off by very much. I think my average error at the end of the quiz was about 12 miles or something.

Remaking a mix tape

Ever since the advent of CD burners, I've been remaking old mix tapes from my past into CDs. Only trouble is, the tapes I bought were usually 90-100 minutes long and CDs can only hold 80 minutes worth of music. Consequently, I've always had to make crucial cuts which, while necessary, compromised the original integrity of the mix I made. The thing that's hard to remember in this day and age of instant custom CDs is how much of a time sink making mix tapes used to be, so making any kind of cut was akin to cutting off a finger or taking out a kidney.

Anyway, now that we have iTunes and iPods, I no longer have to make such cuts. And we're getting into the time of the year where I listen to a lot of Streisand. (just take a look at my Audioscrobbler page for more evidence of this) I came across a tape that is so chock full of memories of my time in Ames as a student that I had to make a playlist out of it. It's a tape I made called "Highlights from 'Just For The Record...'" which I made from the Barbra Streisand box set. I remember so vividly walking all over the ISU campus with that playing in my headphones (nerd alert!) and I figured, what with us being back in Ames, what a great time to remake it. Here's the playlist:

Don't Rain On My Parade
Starting Here, Starting Now
You Wanna Bet
On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever)
People
Stoney End
You're The Top! (w/ Ryan O'Neal)
Evergreen (Demo/Soundtrack Version)
The Singer
We've Only Just Begun
Hello Dolly!
Second Hand Rose/"My Name Is Barbra" Medley
Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead
Guilty
You Don't Bring Me Flowers (w/ Neil Diamond)
I Know Him So Well
Putting It Together
Excerpts from "The Judy Garland Show"
Miss Marmelstein
Keeping Out Of Mischief Now
Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf
Lover Come Back To Me
Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most
Have I Stayed Too Long At The Fair/Look At That Face
Here We Are At Last
Over The Rainbow
Like I said--probably only appeals to me, but hey, who cares?

Monday, December 06, 2004

The Thing (1982)

I just got done watching John Carpenter's The Thing (checked it out from the library) and it wasn't a bad little horror flick. It had some genuinely good scares in it (which is always a pleasant surprise--I always feel like I've become so jaded by horror films that nothing really scares me all that much anymore) and really good special effects for the early 80s. Watching films like that reminds me of how "lazy" a lot of filmmakers have become by relying on CGI special effects so much. I'm not so stupid to thing that a movie like Lord of the Rings could have ever been made without the miracle of CG technology, but it's always heartening to see good use of makeup and foam latex and other such things.

The movie was good--I did grow a bit weary of the whole "which one of the guys can be the most macho?" thing that seemed to persist throughout. It was also really a dark movie--the contrasts between black weren't all that profound so it was hard to watch and tell what exactly was going on sometimes. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that I was watching it on my computer because I don't want Anna watching this kind of stuff until she's older and can make conscious decisions about it.

And for just about everything you ever wanted to know about the move (spoilers as well, so be warned) go to this unofficial The Thing site which is pretty comprehensive and cool.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

CD Spotlight -- 11/30/2004


Original Soundtrack -- Who's That Girl (1987)

Another apparently random choice this week but for some reason, I've blown the dust off this CD and have given it another spin. It's the soundtrack from Madonna's 1987 movie flop Who's That Girl. Even as a Madonna fan, I have to say that the movie itself is pretty insufferable--it captures forever one of Madonna's worst-ever looks (the fact that her eyebrows are so dark and her hair is so white has always bugged the hell out of me) and she's just not all that good in it. However, the music is not bad. It's fluffy and forgettable in a mid-to-late 80s sort of way, but you have to hand it to Madonna--even when it's fluff and forgettable, it's still pretty good fluff. I think the reason I've been thinking about this soundtrack recently is because of the Scritti Politti song that's on here called "Best Thing Ever"--and whenever I see the VH1 show "Best Week Ever" it always makes me think of that song. So blame it on VH1, I guess.

The Madonna songs on here do make the movie worth the effort--that is to say, if suffering through this abysmal movie is what it took to get "Causing a Commotion" it's probably worth it. Truth be told, I think I've read that most of the songs on the Who's That Girl soundtrack were True Blue rejects. But there's something fun about the giddiness of "Can't Stop"--it's something that we really don't get from Madonna anymore since she's so busy being all serious and all that. I certainly can't begrudge her for following her heart in the kind of music she's doing, but she doesn't really cut loose anymore, and that's a bit sad.

Here's something I wrote about "Who's That Girl" (the song) a long time ago, back when I was on the Madonna listserv and we were doing Song of the Week (SOTW). It seems apropos to post it now.

I really like this little song. It's not very substantial, and I suppose that's a trait that it shares with last week's SOTW "Don't Stop." However, there's something that separates WTG from DS, even though they are pretty much in the same vein musically--slow groove pop music. Lyrically, the song is pretty well constructed with yet another Madonna patented-brilliant bridge "Light of my life/So blind I can't see." The instrumentation is fun and lightweight. I was surprised to see that it had such a Latin feel to it considering that it came on the heels of "La Isla Bonita."

Yeah, I was just a little bit obsessed.
Posted by Hello

Monday, November 29, 2004

Post Turkey Day

Well, back to work after four days off. Well, techincally 4 1/2 because it's weird to leave work at 3:30 PM on Wednesday and not come back until 2:00 PM on Monday. It was a good time off. A lot of people at our house for Thanksgiving, saw my brother and his wife and spent time relaxing. I watched Freddy vs. Jason which was way better than it had any right to be--I'm thinking it might have benefited from insanely low expectations. Not a bad mixing of the two mythologies but after a while, watching Freddy and Jason fight was akin to the scene in Pirates of the Caribbean where Jack Sparrow is dueling Captain Barbosa even though they were both undead skeleton guys. I mean, no one's ever going to win, right? And if they'd have left the last scene off of F vs. J, why, then it would have at least made a tiny bit of sense. But still a fun slasher movie with some inventive slashing. But nothing I ever need to see again.

I'm reading Dante's Inferno right now. I haven't read that since I was in high school--and since I found the entire set in paperback at the Good Will store in Washington, I figured I'd give it another go. Surprisingly not all that tough of a read. But I was thinking something as I read this morning--Dante and Virgil are heading across the River Styx toward the demon guarded City of Dis--and the wrathful and sullen are condemned to inhabit the river. The sullen are below the surface and the only signs of their presence are the bubbles of their despair. Sullenness a sin? Yep, at least according to Dante. And boy do I know a lot of people that walk around in a permanent state of sullenness. Makes me all the more determined to not get sucked up into that mindset. Of course, at this time of the year, that's always easier said than done, but it's worth a shot, no?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

CD Spotlight -- 11/21/2004


Olivia Newton-John - The Rumour (1988)

An interesting CD pick this week--it's Olivia Newton-John's 1988 comeback attempt (emphasis on the attempt part) The Rumour. I remember hearing the title track on the radio in the waning days of the summer of 1988. It was fun and lightweight and it seemed like a guaranteed hit (at least in my naive eyes.) I eagerly awaited the release of the album, which happened while we were on a family vacation in the Rocky Mountains. I actually owned this album as an LP originally--I think it was one of the last LPs I bought. I was stubbornly resisting the transition to cassette tapes (even though everyone else I knew had made the jump--and some were already on the CD bandwagon.)

Livvy covers a whole raft of social topics on this CD--AIDS ("Love & Let Live"), ecology and the environment ("Let's Talk About Tomorrow"), single parenthood ("It's Not Heaven") and growing older ("Tutta La Vita"). I remember liking the album a lot when it first came out--and listening to it now it hasn't aged as horribly as say Physical or Soul Kiss has--those CDs pretty much scream 80s. The production is pretty middle of the road--not great, but not offensive either. Overall, I think that the timing was poor on ONJ's part because her viability as a hitmaker just wasn't there by the time we hit the late 80s. Even with Elton John writing what should have been a sure-fire hit ("The Rumour"), radio just wasn't willing to play it--this was prime hair band time, after all.

One side note--there's a radio remix of "The Rumour" which is highly superior to the album version. The album version seems very empty and bare bones, whereas the radio remix filled it out with synths and overdubs. I managed to dub a copy of that from a cassette single I had of "The Rumour" to mp3 a few years back before the tape completely went to pot. Shep Pettibone also did a remix of the song in the early 90s which was damn fine as well.Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Rawhead Rex

I'm reading this collection of short stories by Clive Barker called Books of Blood Volume 1-3. It's pretty good as horror fiction goes--sometimes it can get pretty cheesy and not very satisfying. But these are pretty intelligent stories for the most part and it looks like I'm actually going to finish the book--which is saying a lot for me these days. Anyway, there's a story called "Rawhead Rex" that I'm reading right now, and it is freaking the crap out of me. It's a pretty straight-forward giant monster story, but the images that Barker puts on the page (and consequently in my head) are pretty intense.

Rawhead Rex is an ancient demon that was buried alive ages ago and is inadvertantly unearthed by an unsuspecting farmer. The carnage starts pretty much immediately after Rawhead is released. There's a priest who is apparently a disciple of Rawhead (he's baptized by Rawhead's urine in a particularly vivid scene) and many people have died rather gruesome deaths. I haven't quite finished it yet, so I don't know how it ends--not that I'd dream of spoiling it here anyway.

Apparently, Rawhead Rex was made into a movie back in the mid-80's. One site I found while Googling tonight called it a "shit-stain" and it looks pretty bad. Not at all how I pictured the monster (pictures here--don't look if guys in rubber suits scare you easily) As one of the reviews on IMDB says, "This movie is as horrifying as a hamper with too many clothes in it." Good thing there's a graphic novel of it, but I can't find out much information on that.

All in all, I'll probably read more Clive Barker, but I think he's a little bit like Anne Rice--a little bit goes a long, long way. Speaking of which, I think I'm just about to the point where I can think about reading Lasher.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Crazy In Love

I've been listening to the new Eminem CD Encore on Rhapsody--I haven't sprung for the CD yet--and dang if I'm not really liking it. I agree with some of the reviews that it doesn't seem as inspired as Eminem's previous stuff. As I've written before, there's more than a few songs where he seems really bored and just going through the motions. But there's one song that really stands out--the song "Crazy In Love." It's pretty typical Eminem lyric-wise, but the greatest thing about the song is the sample of Heart's "Crazy On You" which is used pretty much perfectly. I've come to expect nothing less from Eminem as far as his use of samples. Usually, I'm all "oh, samples are so unoriginal" but I have to admit, when it's done right, they really work. Anyway, check it out if you can.

St. Joseph -- start yelling at him

It's been 9 months since we put our house in Washington on the market and it's still for sale. And Friday, I got a notice in the mail from my insurance company that they're going to be cancelling my house insurance because there's no one living in the house. Of course, we're more than welcome to purchase a "non-occupancy" plan which insure the house at the tidy sum of $1,100 for six months. Great, that's all I need--another 200 bucks a month that I'm going to have to pull out of thin air.

It's hard sometimes to feel like this move was for the best, although I know that it is. I simply hate that house sitting empty in Washington while I throw money at the mortgage. I've already lowered the price $10,000 since we first listed it, but I think it's just the market in the town. I mean, there are probably 100 houses for sale in that town of 7,000 thanks in no small part to the general tanking of the local economy. My father says that if it takes me 5 years to dig out of the debt that I incurred by moving, it's still worth it. And I know that he's right--I would have been crazy to pass up this job and the opportunities it gives me. But still, with the house still sitting there not selling and with us moving into winter, it's disheartening.

We've buried St. Joseph in the yard (any port in a storm) and I just don't know what to do any more. It sucks because I know that no matter what, I'm going to lose money on the house. I keep telling myself that any money I lose is the cost of getting out of Washington, but that's a small consolation most days.

Monday, November 15, 2004

CD Spotlight -- 11/15/2004


Barbra Streisand -- People (1964)

This is something I want to try to do at least weekly. So get ready for some rather bizarre choices along with some rather reasonable ones as well.

I've been listening to this Streisand CD a lot these days. It's one of the few that my wife can stand and it's truly one of her best moments. Streisand is kind of a weird animal in the fact that she's probably one of the greatest singers to live during a time period where her entire career can be recorded for all time. It's also odd that she's been recording for 40+ years and none of her work has ever gone out of print. Anyway, this is one of my favorite of all the Streisand CDs, and that's saying a lot because there are simply a slew of them.

It's a mixed bag of fast and slow songs--but on the fast songs Babs really gets to let loose and be goofy. Best example is "When In Rome (I Do As The Romans Do)" which is just a hoot to listen to. Barbra even vamps some Italian:
E molto difficile resistere agli uomini di Italia
Per esempio, per esempio i biondi,
I biondi di Firenze, di Venezia
E i bruni di Palermo, di Milano...
You know what I mean?
Actually, Babs, no I don't. But it hardly matters.

The other highlights of the album are the back to back songs "How Does The Wine Taste?" and "I'm All Smiles." I think I summed it up best in my journal way back in 1993 when I first picked up the CD.
But anyway, this song "How Does The Wine Taste?" has these really cool shaker sounds, followed by "I'm All Smiles" with the wicked vibraphone introduction. Vibraphones must be one of the wickedest instruments. The greatest thing about it is that this music is old enough that when you hear the cool shaker sounds or the wicked vibes, you're really getting cool shaker sounds and wicked vibes, and not some computer generated sounds.
Of course there's also "Love Is A Bore" and the most mournful saxophone I've ever heard on the song "Suppertime" (Suppertime/I should set the table 'cause it's/Suppertime.) Anyway, you can probably tell that I really love this CD.
Posted by Hello

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Dead Alive

I just got done watching Dead Alive--a Peter Jackson zombie movie from the early 90s. When I first heard about it, I thought "Oh, man! Peter Jackson and zombies? What a combination." Well, I'm sorry to say that I was completely disappointed in the movie. While I was watching it, I was having a hard time figuring out why it was so bad, but I think I figured it out: The movie had absolutely no respect for the genre.

Even in something as throwaway as a zombie movie, you have to follow certain rules. And Jackson pretty much threw them all to the wind in the interest of making an incredibly gory movie that was exceptionally low on real scares and high on cringeworthy scenes. Dead Alive's biggest offense is that it broke the cardinal rule of zombies: Kill the brain and you kill the ghoul. Not only were headless zombies abundant, but seemingly random intestines suddenly became "zombified" and attacked people. People whose skin had been completely torn off so that they were basically a walking spinal column with a head were passed off as effective zombies. Just doesn't work.

As if breaking the cardinal rule of zombies wasn't bad enough, Jackson also was tripped up by one of the most common misconception in making horror films--and that is a gory film is a scary film. The movie was so gory that after a while, I had to turn away from the screen. By the end of the movie, everyone's covered in blood and you forget what the real point of the movie was to begin with. The movie also messed around with the whole zombie mystique, which while not entirely a bad thing just didn't work in this movie.

Clearly, I won't be watching that again, and it's a good thing that Jackson's improved as a filmmaker--his Lord of the Rings trilogy will certainly be a film classic.

Next up on my zombie movie fest: Resident Evil--I have it on good authority (aka Wendy) that this is a good movie so I'm eager to watch it.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Star Wars Figure -- Mint in Package


Posted by Hello
The best part of this was that I originally thought the joke was the "mint" part, judging from the rather poor condition of the figure. A second look made me laugh out loud, which was really good for me today.

(shamelessly reposted from Planet Dan)

Friday, November 05, 2004

Remixed Re-Invention

Amidst the craziness of the last week or so, I've managed to complete what was a germ of an idea in my head a while back. I've been listening to the Re-Invention Tour a lot--re-living a lot of fun memories of going to the tour in D.C. this summer. The recording that I'm listening to a lot is one from Atlanta which is probably the best sound quality of all the ones I've heard. I also love how when she's singing "Material Girl" and she's all "this song goes so far back that I can't even remember the words to my own fucking song! So you're gonna have to help me out." Anyway, I've put together a mp3 playlist (maybe a 2-CD set if I get around to it) of a remix of each song from the Re-Invention Tour. Some are official, most are bootlegs. Anyway, I'm really enjoying listening to it. Here's my list

The Beast Within (A!O Words of Prophecy Mix)
Vogue (RA's Superfiltered Mix)
Nobody Knows Me (Above & Beyond 12" Mix)
Frozen (Dens54 Musette Remix)
American Life (Felix Da Housecat Devin Dazzle Club Mix)
Express Yourself (Coming Out Local Vision Edit)
Burning Up (2004 Revised Edition)
Material Girl (Extended Version)
Hollywood (Jacques Lu Cont's Thin White Duck Mix)
Hanky Panky (Bare Bottom 12" Mix)
Deeper & Deeper (Marc Hanumm Remix)
Die Another Day (Brother Brown's Bond-Age Club Mix)
Lament (Dying In Your Arms Tonight Mix)
Bedtime Story (Luscious Vocal Radio Edit)
Nothing Fails (Peter Rauhofer's Classic House Mix)
Don't Tell Me (Victor Calderone Sensory Mix)
Like A Prayer (Mixman Mike's Pious Anthem Club Mix)
Mother & Father (Forfait Mix)
Into The Groove (DMC Mix)
Papa Don't Preach (M-A.N. Cosmos Mix)
Crazy For You (Tony Moran Club Circuit Mix)
Music (Idaho's Musicology Remix)
Holiday (A!O Live Collection Medley)

Bonus Track:
The Re-Invention Medley (mixed by Madonna-Addiction)

Pretty cool, eh? Yeah, some of the remixes are not really remixes ("Lament" is basically an extended version of the CD version.) The version of "Holiday" is really cool because it starts with the version "Holiday" from the Virgin Tour and ends with the version from Drowned World Tour. The whole playlist is a lot of fun to listen to and was even more fun wading through the nearly 1000 Madonna mp3s I have on my hard drive trying to find just the right one for the mix.

(updated on 11/6 with link to Re-Invention Medley mp3)

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

My last political post for now...

...and then I'll get back to music and movies and much more fun things. I'm starting to reconcile myself to the fact that Bush is the president. I'm not happy, but I think Kerry did the right thing in conceding and not dragging it out in the courts for weeks on end. The American people chose Bush. Sadly, I think that means that the majority of American voters are ignorant, but I guess that remains to be seen.

In the meantime, here's a letter posted on Salon.com--which will continue to be one of my favorite lefty sites for a long time to come

Many of my liberal friends are seriously discussing leaving the country, for Canada or Europe or New Zealand. It is, of course, tempting. How could we not feel a violent disillusionment and disconnect when we discovered this morning that the majority of voters in the country have a worldview we cannot comprehend? That hate and fear and ignorance can run a successful presidental campaign; that people will respond to these things with eager glee?

And if I wasn't tempted before leaving the house, one look at my car with its Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker -- the only car with such a sticker in the lot -- and how overnight it suddenly acquired a political statement consisting of eggs and shaving cream -- the only car in the lot so decorated -- certainly pushed me in that direction. I imagine the decorators (or their parents) voted on "moral values," as so many Bush supporters did.

But I'm not going to leave, and I made a list of reasons why.

Because this is my country.

Because I'm not letting them have New England autumns, New Mexico sunsets, the Grand Canyon, or Revere Beach.

Because Barack Obama, Ted Kennedy, Barney Frank and a few other stalwarts are isolated enough in a Capitol gone mad without their supporters pulling up and getting out.

Because over a million people voted for Alan Keyes, and that means even in Illinois we can't relax.

Because Massachusetts elected a far-right religious zealot in a gubernatorial race no one bothered to vote in.

Because I do, honestly, want my kids to be American citizens.

Because 200 years ago Americans believed in a separation of church and state, and if there's one thing we seem to be good at, it's regression.

Because we have to speak up even if they're not coming for us personally yet. We're educated and energized and relatively financially secure, and there are a lot of people out there who are none of those things and are at least initially going to suffer far more than we are. We have to speak for them if they can't speak for themselves.

Because this is still my country, and being female and pro-choice and pro-gay rights and an environmentalist and a pacifist and a believer in intelligent leaders and an atheist does not make me un-American or unpatriotic -- and that needs to be screamed from the fucking rooftops.

Because they vandalized my fucking car, and that is their level of discourse.

Because I am not afraid anymore. I am angry.

Settling down...

Not as angry and full of vitriol as I was last night. Barely got any sleep and have to work in half an hour so we'll see how that goes.

I decided there's one thing worse than a Bush win. It's what we have now--an election headed for litigation in Ohio (and most likely several other states) and a country that will be wounded and its faith in its own democracy shaken.

I'm trying to decide if I want to delete my previous two posts, but I think I've decided to leave them. It's raw emotion which is good and it was entirely me just venting on what I consider to be so incredibly important. But MeteorBlades over at Daily Kos just posted this and I'm reproducing it here in it's entirety because I think it needs to be read.

'Don't Mourn, Organize'
by Meteor Blades
Wed Nov 3rd, 2004 at 10:10:13 GMT

OK. I read thousands of comments and dozens of Diaries last night and this morning. And you know something? I’m going to forget I read most of them. Just erase them from memory along with the names of those who posted them. Chalk them up to adrenaline crashes, too much rage and reefer and booze.

Because what I found in my reading was a plethora of bashing Christians, bashing Kerry, bashing gays, bashing Edwards, bashing Kos, bashing America and bashing each other. As well as a lot of people saying they’re abandoning the Democrats, abandoning politics, abandoning the country. This descent into despair and irrationality and surrender puts icing on the Republican victory cake.

Why were we in this fight in the first place? Because terrible leaders are doing terrible things to our country and calling this wonderful. Because radical reactionaries are trying to impose their imperialist schemes on whoever they wish and calling this just. Because amoral oligarchs are determined to enhance their slice of the economic pie and calling this the natural order. Because flag-wrapped ideologues want to chop up civil liberties and call this security. Because myopians are in charge of America’s future.

We lost on 11/2. Came in second place in a crucial battle whose damage may still be felt decades from now. The despicable record of our foes makes our defeat good reason for disappointment and fear. Even without a mandate over the past four years, they have behaved ruthlessly at home and abroad, failing to listen to objections even from members of their own party. With the mandate of a 3.6-million vote margin, one can only imagine how far their arrogance will take them in their efforts to dismantle 70 years of social legislation and 50+ years of diplomacy.

Still, Tuesday was only one round in the struggle. It’s only the end if we let it be. I am not speaking solely of challenging the votes in Ohio or elsewhere – indeed, I think even successful challenges are unlikely to change the ultimate outcome, which is not to say I don’t think the Democrats should make the attempt. And I’m not just talking about evaluating in depth what went wrong, then building on what was started in the Dean campaign to reinvigorate the grassroots of the Democratic Party, although I also think we must do that. I’m talking about the broader political realm, the realm outside of electoral politics that has always pushed America to live up to its best ideals and overcome its most grotesque contradictions.

Not a few people have spoken in the past few hours about an Americanist authoritarianism emerging out of the country’s current leadership. I think that’s not far-fetched. Fighting this requires that we stick together, not bashing each other, not fleeing or hiding or yielding to the temptation of behaving as if “what’s the use?”

It’s tough on the psyche to be beaten.Throughout our country’s history, abolitionists, suffragists, union organizers, anti-racists, antiwarriors, civil libertarians, feminists and gay rights activists have challenged the majority of Americans to take off their blinders. Each succeeded one way or another, but not overnight, and certainly not without serious setbacks.

After a decent interval of licking our wounds and pondering what might have been and where we went wrong, we need to spit out our despair and return – united - to battling those who have for the moment outmaneuvered us. Otherwise, we might just as well lie down in the street and let them flatten us with their schemes.
Dang, wish I'd have written that.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Wait a minute, I'm not done yet.

This election is so bupkis. Yeah, I know that Bush is winning "fair and square" this time with no discrepancy between the popular vote and electoral college. But what I'm refering to is how all these really good people are being beaten by these bastards. What is our country going to look like in four years? Will there still be any public education for Anna to use? Will there be any national parks left or will there be oil wells in all of them? Corporations will only gain more power under a second Bush term, and the media, well, so much for the fucking so-called liberal media.

Do I think Kerry was the perfect man for the presidency? Hell no. I mean, he voted for the war in Iraq which is just turning into the biggest clusterfuck since I don't know what. But what I know for certain is that Bush is absolutely the wrong man for the job. I mean, I would prefer my president be interested in learning things rather than just surrounding himself with yes-men. I would prefer my president not be somebody I want to go drink with or even have lunch with. I expect more from my president than that. Which is what kills me every single time I see people saying that they're voting for Bush because they think he's "one of us" I just have to shake my head in complete bewilderment. Yeah, that's how I pick my president. Jesus.

So the country's a mess and will remain a mess and all those smug Republicans across America will be on TV and at work and at the grocery store acting like they just averted the apocalypse by keeping John Kerry out of office. Well, you know what? Screw them. Screw everyone who voted for Bush and wasn't conscious enough to see the damage that he's done to this country. Good-bye civil liberties with Patriot Act II. Good-bye equal rights under the law and hello discrimination into the U.S. Constitution via the Hate Amendment. Good-bye environmental protections and good-bye to the working class. They're pretty much screwed now anyway.

I know I'm overgeneralizing and I know that I'm speaking mostly out of hate right now. Well, so be it. I get to be angry. I get to be irrational. I get to be irritated. I just can't believe that half the country is so crazy. Even if Kerry pulls a win out of his hat now (which looks increasingly unlikely unless Ohio falls into the win column) the fact that it's this close is just devastating to my morale and my belief in the innate good and common sense in people. I can't believe I'm watching what I'm watching. I can't believe that I'm going to have to put up with four more years of cowboy foreign policy.

You know, Ronald Reagan asked the question during the 1980 election -- "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" For me, the answer would probably be yes. We live in a nice neighborhood and I have a good paying job with good health benefits and we have a lot of creature comforts that many people can't afford. But you know what? Sometimes, it's not just all about me. What about the people that have no job that had one four years ago, or have a job that pays significantly less than the one they lost? What about the people who have no health care? What about the people who can't even freaking afford to put food on their table? Tell that to all those evangelical "Christians" who voted for Bush because he's anti-abortion.

No, instead we have to vote based on guns, God, and gays--as Howard Dean put it during the primaries. Who cares if we have money as long as we get to keep our AK-47s and keep those damn homosexuals from destroying the fabric of society? I just can't believe it. I'm in utter shock.

And it all started here in Iowa. Iowans chickened out at the last minute and sent Kerry on his way to the nomination because he was the man who could "beat Bush." Well, here ya go. Maybe Dean would have been beaten even more decisively--who knows?


Blech

Well, I'm starting to get used to the fact that Bush is probably going to win the election, despite all the great GOTV that the Democrats did. This fucking sucks. This man is the worst president in the history of America and just over half of the American public isn't awake enough to realize this. His tax cuts to the wealthy are in the process of bankrupting the country and are creating a sort of class warfare. He's created the biggest deficits of any president and has presided over the first net loss of jobs of any president since Hoover but it looks like we're going to return him to office.

All I can say is that anyone who voted for him that has children anywhere between the ages of 13 and 20 better not be surprised when he starts drafting them to fight his holy wars.

An over-reaction? Perhaps. I'm just super fucking pissed at our country right now and am almost ashamed to be American. He may be the president, but he's certainly not my president.

At least it looks like we're going to deliver Iowa for Kerry.

It's going to be a long four years.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Salon.com | American nightmare

Salon.com | American nightmare

Requires a Salon.com day pass or subscription (as I've said before, totally worth the price and then some.)

It's a day before the election and I'm confident of a Kerry win. Talking to my sister, who is very guardedly confident--she described it as "I think Kerry will win, but I'm still holding my breath."--I realized just how far gone the right wing in this country has gone. Their arguments don't even make sense. And so much of the time, right wing voters are one issue voters--abortion, health care, etc. Which is not to minimize those issues, but seriously, not voting for Kerry because you don't like socialized medicine? OK, first thing, his plan isnt socialized medicine and secondly, do you think any kind of health care reform has a prayer of passing an almost certainly Republican controlled Congress? Not likely.

I shudder when I think about the damage done to this country by Bush and his cronies. I agree with the Salon article linked above.
"Historians will likely judge the Bush presidency one of the worst in the history of the republic--an amalgam of arrogance, radicalism and folly so egregious it's almost laughable."
Only trouble is, no one's laughing.

I'll be knocking on doors tomorrow trying to get out the vote for Kerry and our local Democratic slate of candidates. I hope we have cause for celebration tomorrow. Hopefully, this is the end of Bush's presidency. Power to the people!

Seems appropriate to link to this today. Dean may not be the nominee, but he did have his finger on the pulse of disaffected Democrats.

Friday, October 29, 2004

The Real Slim Shady Stands Up

AlterNet: Election 2004: The Real Slim Shady Stands Up

Yep, I'll be the 5 millionth liberal with a blog to blog Eminem's newest video. Color me impressed (although I wasn't initially, but I've come to expect that from my reactions to Eminem's work.)

Be sure to watch the video here.

Update: Here's another article from Alternet -- Eminem, Anti-Hero. I swear, I have new respect for this man. I think I'm going to buy his new CD just on principle.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The New Yorker: Kerry for Prez

I guess the New Yorker magazine hasn't ever endorsed a candidate for president. But this year, they have. And it is scathing to Dubya. In the last third of the editorial, this paragraph sums up pretty much how I've been feeling and puts into a few sentences the gross incompetence of Bush and his neocon cronies.

The damage visited upon America, and upon America’s standing in the world, by the Bush Administration’s reckless mishandling of the public trust will not easily be undone. And for many voters the desire to see the damage arrested is reason enough to vote for John Kerry. But the challenger has more to offer than the fact that he is not George W. Bush. In every crucial area of concern to Americans (the economy, health care, the environment, Social Security, the judiciary, national security, foreign policy, the war in Iraq, the fight against terrorism), Kerry offers a clear, corrective alternative to Bush’s curious blend of smugness, radicalism, and demagoguery. Pollsters like to ask voters which candidate they’d most like to have a beer with, and on that metric Bush always wins. We prefer to ask which candidate is better suited to the governance of our nation.
I was talking to the lady who cuts my hair and she's not even going to vote because she hasn't paid attention to politics this year. All I can say to this is (in my best Chandler Bing mode) "OH MY GOD!" I just can't understand how Bush might end up the president for the next four years. I try to stay positive, I read all my favorite lefty blogs and news sources, but the trouble there is the danger of ending up in an echo chamber. That was ultimately the biggest trap of the Dean campaign. Towards the end when you were checking Blog for America every 5 minutes and surrounding yourself with people who agreed with each other all the time, you lost a lot of your objectivity.

I just hope that election night turns out the right way. I hope Kerry blows Bush out of the water. I hope he wins by a much larger margin than anyone's expecting. If not, may God help us, because we're sure gonna need it.

Monday, October 25, 2004

JohnDean: The Coming Post-Election Chaos

Dean: The Coming Post-Election Chaos: "

This is a frightening (although I think it borders on overreaction) possible scenario which, according to John Dean, we might be seeing in a mere week.

(via The Left Coaster)

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Cher on Bush

Cher Issues Bush Warning at Disco

Always love to hear what Cher thinks about things, even though, unfortunately, she didn't come across as incredibly intelligent (what with referring to Supreme Court justices as Superior Court justices.)

And that picture has *got* to be one of the most hideous pictures of Cher that I've ever seen.

Personally, I loved her comments from 4 years ago during the Bush/Gore election.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Omen Trilogy

Finished watching Omen III: The Final Conflict this afternoon. Man, that movie simply sucks. There's no two ways about it. I can't believe how that series of movies went downhill so fast. I mean, Damien: Omen II was at least tolerable, but TFC was pretty much beyond redemption.

I wonder what Sam Neill thinks of that.

I think the thing that got me the most was how Damien was kind of like an evil John Edwards. And I'm apparently not the only person to think this (although I swear I thought of it before I saw the web site.) :)

Monday, October 18, 2004

(Didn't Know I Was) Unamerican

(didn't know I was) unamerican

This came via Metafilter. It's a little bit over the top but I think we need to get this message out to everyone. I don't have any grand illusions that my blog is going to put this into the "This Land" category, but I just want to do my part.

God, I wish we weren't so divided. It really and truly makes me sad.

A Romantic Comedy. With Zombies.

Wendy was here for the weekend and we went to see Shaun of the Dead which so many people have told me that I need to see so I figured I really must need to see it. If people are seeking me out and specifically telling me that I'll enjoy this movie, it's definitely something that I need to go see. We went down to Jordan Creek Town Center in West Des Moines as it wasn't playing anywhere in Ames and even though JCTC is repulsive in its "buy something, you'll feel better" atmosphere, the theaters are pretty cool. As Wendy said, Jordan Creek makes Coral Ridge Mall look positively quaint.

But anyway, the movie. It was fantastic. It had slow zombies (as opposed to the fast ones from 28 Days Later and the Dawn of the Dead remake.) I think I can say without any hesitation that I truly do prefer the slow zombies. The fast ones were scary and all, but zombies are so much about the power of the mob. These zombies were George Romero slow, but they were no less deadly than the fast ones. And with all these zombies lumbering about, there is just this undeniable sense of dread that seems to be pushed to the back burner in the fast zombies movies. That's not to say that the 28DL and DOTD (2004) aren't scary films. In fact, I applaud these movies for resisting the overwhelming urge to play for laughs as well as scares. (see the rapid deterioration of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies.)

But Shaun of the Dead was one of those rare films where the laughs and the scares really played well off of each other. It's got to be the only movie where a zombie gets beat up to Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" or where zombies are being attacked with record albums (the Batman soundtrack, most notably.) And then there's the love story as well, which was fun.

Definitely a buyer when it comes out on DVD. In the meantime, I'll just have to settle for the DVD release of DOTD (2004) which comes out on October 26th.

The Wheels on Madonna's Bus

...go round and round.

Anna loves this video. I'm not sure where they got the Madonna sound alike, but it's pretty much dead on. And it's hilarious how well the nursery rhyme fits in with the backing track from "Ray of Light."

More videos at mothergooserocks.com. While you're there, check out the Chumbawumba inspired "Humpty Dumpty" and especially the Cher-ish version of "Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe."

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Finn Brothers


Finn Brothers -- Everyone Is Here Posted by Hello
I've been listening to a lot of this CD recently. It's Tim and Neil Finn of Split Enz and Crowded House and various solo careers. My sister Wendy just adores Neil Finn--she probably has one of the most complete collections of his music (thanks in large part to Napster) of just about anyone on the planet. I don't usually go so much for it, although I did listen to a fair amount of Crowded House when I was in college. However, there's something about this CD that just appeals to me on a gut level. I don't know if it's the time of year (probably is--fall always gets me into more serious music) but this isn't exactly deep down serious stuff either. But it does have some meat to it which is kind of fun and it serves as a brief respite from the pop that usually dominates my listening landscape.

Jon Stewart to Tucker Carlson: "You're a dick"

AlterNet: Election 2004: Jon Stewart to Tucker Carlson: "You're a dick"

The best thing about this is that when Jon Stewart was talking, I'm sure a lot of the audience members (as well as Begala and Carlson) thought he was trying to be funny. But he was as serious as a heart attack.

Trying to find the video link, but am so far unsuccessful. Will post it later.

Update: Here's the link to the video. (via Waxy.org)

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Read this. Now.

I haven't waxed political here in a long time, but this is absolutely positively required reading for anyone even considering voting for Bush. Maybe a vote for Kerry won't result in anything different, but you simply need to read this.

The Option Nobody's Pushing. Yet.

Granted I'm probably on the high end of the draft age, but still. There's no way on God's green Earth that you'll get me to leave my little girl to go fight in a stupid war that never should have happened.

The debate made me feel positive for the first time in forever, but I'm still waiting for an October surprise. And even if Kerry gets elected, we'll be decades undoing the damage that this president has done. I'm with Janeane Garofalo (even though she took a ton of heat for this statement): "a vote for Bush is a character flaw." Plain and simple.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

A couple new songs...

I heard a couple of new singles today--initial singles from upcoming releases--by a couple of major artists today. One of them is "Just Lose It" by Eminem from his upcoming CD Encore. It's the first actual thing of Eminem's that I've purchased (got it via iTunes) so I guess that's a big step. It's not a bad song but forgive me for saying that it draws a little too much from "Without Me" and, frankly, Em sounds a little bit bored on it. Still was worth the 99 cents from iTunes, but I hope the rest of the CD is better. I don't know that I'll buy it, because a little of Eminem goes a long way for me, but we'll see.

The second song I got via an mp3 blog that I visit. It's Gwen Stefani's new solo single "What You Waiting For." It's a great song--and even though the version I got was a radio rip, it just made me that much more eager for Gwen's solo disc. I kind of view Gwen as being a modern day combination of Madonna and Deborah Harry, so it's no big shock that I think she's pretty cool. Plus the new song is probably the only song that can get away with the line "Take a chance, you stupid ho!"--except for maybe a song by Madonna or Deborah Harry.

Check them both out. I'm off to watch the rest of The Blob + I'm trying to rearrange my body clock a little bit in preparation for working the graveyard shift on Wednesday and Thursday.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Godfather horse head prop pillow

The Godfather horse head prop pillow

Too good not to blog. Sent it to my friend Kevin, and he told me I was a sick, sick man. Your point? ;)

(via PlanetDan)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

An odd coincidence

I've been listening to this CD that I got from the library -- Blossom Dearie's eponymous debut from 1956. And by doing a random web search for information on her, I found out that "Rhode Island Is Famous For You" wasn't the first time I'd heard her. She was the voice behind "Unpack Your Adjectives" and "Figure 8"--both classic Schoolhouse Rock clips. How odd.

Her voice is so little, but it's so pleasant. Plus I kinda like all that lounge stuff anyway in a really bizarre sort of way. Maybe that was my last lifetime or something. The songs are just long enough (hardly any of them are more than 3 & 1/2 minutes) and they all blend together just right. It's going to totally skew my Audioscrobbler stats, but it's so much fun to listen to it.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Three years later...

...ok, plus a day. Yesterday was hell on Earth for me at work, so I didn't get a chance to blog this on the day that it was appropriate.

Matthew Yglesias has written a very elegant, heartfelt piece on what 9/11 was like and how we may have largely missed the boat in the months and years to follow. Definitely worth the read--and make sure you read the whole thing.

I can hardly believe it's been 3 years. Anna wasn't even born then, so it truly was a completely different lifetime for me. I'll still never forget the first heart-stopping images I saw on the TV after Heidi called me telling me that I had to turn on the TV because a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I thought surely it was a little twin engine plane, but when I turned on the TV and saw the billowing smoke coming out of the building, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I can't remember if I turned it on before or after the second plane hit, but I didn't have the TV on for long before they were saying it was a terrorist attack.

It was weird to go to work that day--surfing news sites (that you could get to) whenever you had a free minute, watching the TV down at the nurses' station. It was so surreal. Gas lines in small town Iowa because there were reports that gas was going to be 7 dollars a gallon. That was when it hit home for me. Something that occurred thousands of miles away could penetrate small town America was a wake-up call for me. I mean, it's not like I was nonchalant and blase about the whole thing before that, but that's the first time I remember really being scared. Because lets face it, they weren't going to fly a plane into city hall or my house in the middle of Iowa. But that scared me.

I always feel like the Pentagon gets the short end of the stick because it's the less "sexy" of the attacks. People tend to forget that a lot of people lost their lives at the Pentagon too. And many more could have potentially lost their lives had the fourth plane not crashed in Pennsylvania. It's scary to think about.

Read it. It's good stuff.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Greetings from the hinterlands

Yet another verbal gaffe from our ridiculous president. This one was uttered not 30 miles south of where I live.

Iowans bristle at Bush putting them in 'hinterlands'

Of course, it's not really getting any sort of real national coverage. (Sorry, USA Today doesn't count as serious media coverage.) If Kerry had said that, it'd probably be all over the news followed by loads of commentary about how out of touch he was with "the little guy."

I have to say that I'm losing faith in Kerry. He doesn't respond to any of the blistering attacks coming out of New York City this week. He reminds me so much of Dukakis--all he needs to do is get into a tank and look stupid. Oh wait--he's already got those NASA pictures. Strike that.

I just can't believe that we're actually going to re-elect Bush--that's not a given yet, but it's looking increasingly likely.

For an interesting look at what it might (read: will) be like, read this article from the Sierra Club magazine. Yeah, I know it's the Sierra Club, but it's pretty much spot on.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

And the planets of the universe go their way...

Stevie says it better than I ever could.

The bright light is lying down
The earth and the sea and the sky
Is at rest with the ocean
And the days go by
They go into the seas that have no shores

Haunted by that same closed door
Looking up at skies on fire
Leaving nothing left of us
To discover

Chorus:
And the planets of the universe
Go their way
Not astounded by the sun or the moon
Or by the day
You and I will simply disappear
Out of sight
But I'm afraid soon there'll be
No light

No doubt, no pain
Come ever again, well
Let there be light in this lifetime
In the cool, silent moments of the nighttime

(Chorus)

We will never change again
The way that we are changing
Well, you'll forget the chill of love
But not the strain

Now I know
Well, I was wrong
To live for a dream
If I had my life to live over
I would never dream, no I still wish you gone
And I will live alone
Yes, I will live alone

(Chorus)

You will remember
But I will die a slow death
It's only an overture
To something that was best
And don't condescend to me
Take your leave
Take your leave
Take your leave of me now
Disappear into the air
I wish you gone
And I don't care
I don't care
I don't care
Take your leave of me now

You will never love again
The way you love me
You will never rule again
The way you ruled me
You will never change again
The way you're changing

Friday, August 27, 2004

The New York Times | Tunes, a Hard Drive and (Just Maybe) a Brain

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > Tunes, a Hard Drive and (Just Maybe) a Brain

A great article on shuffling as it applies to iPods, CD players, etc.

When was the last time you listened to a CD all the way through from beginning to end?

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Sunday night blogging

Not a whole lot of time to blog tonight--I'm bushed from a weekend in Washington. We're dropping the price on our Washington house by 10,000 dollars. We're going to lose our shirts on it, there's no doubt about it. But it beats the crap out of paying a double mortgage for the rest of my life. Hopefully someone will come along now and see it and totally fall in love with it and buy it. I'm serious, I'm going to accept the first reasonable offer that we get.

I finished watching The Weather Underground this weekend. That was one heck of a good documentary. It appealed to a lot of my base interests--post WWII American history, lefty politics, pop culture and plus there was a lot of cool video of the 1970s. It's so weird to see stuff like that--it's a time gone by (thankfully, for the most part) and it's so neat to have been able to capture it on film, unlike say the Civil War or something like that. It's truly a crime that late 20th century history is glossed over so much in school. I daresay that a lot of that stuff is more relevant than the War of 1812. Maybe they need to make some Schoolhouse Rocks about Watergate, Iran-Contra, 60s activism, Vietnam, etc. Hey, it worked for our generation.

Speaking of Schoolhouse Rock, this was a pretty good parody of "Elbow Room" that I stumbled across (probably via Metafilter which has all sorts of cool stuff.) It's called "Shock and Awe." WARNING: Right-wingers and people with no sense of humor should consider themselves duly warned.

Heidi said that it could have benefited from a little bit of subtelty, but it's still pretty damn clever. I especially like the guy (I presume it's the guy who made it) saying so seriously..."Because knowledge is power."

But back to The Weather Underground. Go rent it if you can. There's a reason it was nominated for an Oscar. I think I'm probably going to end up buying it.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Fantastic aerial photography...

...plus you learn a thing or two while you look.

This site (via Metafilter) has some pretty awesome aerial photography. I really had to tear myself away from the computer to get my butt to bed--the pictures are fantastic, plus the captions are so informative. You can search by country (just go to the little pull-down menu at the top left of the page.)

A lot of the pictures are available in wallpaper sizes for your desktop--which is way cool. Unfortunately, not all of them are, and invariably, the ones I really wanted to have for wallpaper, alas, did not have that option.

Oh, and I'm not some guy that lives in the suburbs either so it's not like I idolize them or anything. The picture is cool in a really evil way. Because sprawl is bad.

Madonna remixes

I am in love with a new site that I stumbled across where Madonna fans can trade UNOFFICIAL remixes with each other. It's called MadonnaTribe and it's just the coolest thing. That's one of the biggest things I miss about the Napster/Audiogalaxy days--the unofficial remixes that you're not able to find anywhere else. I remember when I was in college and forking over some pretty incredible bucks for Madonna bootleg CDs, be they remixes or live concerts. Now, thanks to the power of the internet and file-sharing, all that stuff is available pretty much for free. (Of course, having broadband does help, which isn't free, but there ya go.)

Pretty much the only people losing out are the bootleggers, and I don't feel too sorry for them. They've been gouging fans for years with CDs of (at best) variable quality. It's nice to be able to get all that stuff again without having to spend loads of cash.

And the really cool thing about sites like that is that the stuff is unofficial, so there's really no worry about copyright issues. Well, I suppose there is because the original recording is still copyrighted, but it seems to agree with my conscience a little bit better when it's stuff I would have had to buy from a bootleg CD store. Not that you can find those anymore anyway.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Uniquely Iowa

We went down to the Iowa State Fair tonight--which, incidentally is celebrating its sesquicentennial. 150 years of the fair is pretty cool. The thing you have to realize about the Iowa State Fair is that it is the state fair to rival all others. Other states look at Iowa's fair and just turn green with envy. There is nothing more uniquely Iowan than the fair. And I'm so glad I get to experience it.

The funny thing about the fair is how predictable it is. I mean, even the midway rides were in the same place as they were last year. Of course, this did not matter to Anna who just wanted to ride rides until she passed out from pure exhaustion. The only trouble is you can hardly ride the midway rides unless you're independently wealthy or just don't want to eat for the next week. Although after you've eaten fair food, you may not have to eat for a week, so maybe I'm on to something there.

Fair food is not what you would call healthy. Pretty much any kind of food they can put on a stick they will. In fact, this comes from the Iowa State Fair's trivia page.
Approximately how many types of food can be purchased "on-a-stick" at the Fair? More than 20. The list includes pork chops, dill pickles, corn dogs,
cheese, Cajun chicken, caramel apples, German sausages, beef, cotton candy,
veggie corn dogs, turkey drumsticks, nutty bars, chocolate cheesecake, hot
bologna, chocolate covered bananas, taffy, fried pickles, honey, wonder bars and
deep fried Twinkies. New in 2004, meatballs-on-a-stick!

We had a deep fried Milky Way on a stick (also known as heart attack on a stick) but it was quite yummy and totally worth it. Last year I sampled the deep fried Oreo cookies which were good, but not as exciting as you might have thought. The yummiest thing you can buy on a stick though is pork chop on a stick--they sold 60,000 of these suckers in the 10 days of the fair last summer! And technically, they're not really on a stick--the "stick" is just a conveniently cut out bone--but dang they were good.

But perhaps the oddest thing about the fair this year was the weather. Granted it was just opening day, but it just didn't fit expectations. Here in Iowa, we have what we call "State Fair weather" which everyone knows is the hottest, stickiest, muggiest possible weather you can imagine and then multiply it by 100. When we went last year, it was definitely State Fair weather--you can tell because you're seriously tempted to go naked rather than have to deal with any layer of clothing. This year, I not only wore jeans, but Heidi and Anna were both wearing sweaters by the end of the night. That's right--it was 69 degrees in Des Moines today. While it was a welcome change, it was simply bizarre. There's just no other word for it.

The Iowa State Fair--it made the book of 1000 places to see before you die. Don't you think it's time you showed up?

Stuck On You

Normally, I don't like Matt Damon, but I have to admit, after watching The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and most recently Stuck On You, the guy is starting to grow on me. I watched Stuck On You last night--you know, the one where Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear are conjoined twins. I remember just laughing myself silly to the teaser trailer which featured "Academy Award Winner Matt Damon, Academy Award Nominee Greg Kinnear, Academy Award Winner Cher and 4-time Academy Award Watchers the Farrelly Brothers."

Of course, I was mostly sucked in by the Cher factor. And for the little bit of time that Cher was actually in the movie, she sure camped it up. That's the thing I just love about Cher--she just refuses to take herself all that seriously. It was definitely a goofy turn--she played herself stuck in a contract for a TV show called "Honey & The Beaze" where Cher is a lawyer and Greg Kinnear is her partner. Perhaps the funniest line of the entire film was during a scene from the TV show where Cher is being held captive and the kidnappers demand the "smegma from that dead hooker's perineum." It was one of those things that went by so fast you almost missed it if you weren't paying attention.

So yeah, Stuck on You was a fun little comedy. Endearing and it's always fun to see movies about brothers.

Oh, and hearing Cher use the word "buttplug" in one of the deleted scenes was definitely worth the price of admission. :)

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Inclement weather in New Canaan, CT

Watched The Ice Storm last night on DVD. It was on sale at Borders for 8 bucks or something like that so I bought it a few weeks back and just got around to watching it again. That's a movie that really defies easy definition and description. It's cool for a lot of reasons. One, it takes place in 1973 and the trouble the filmmakers went to to recreate the time period is just astonishing. They have a reference to The Crying Indian ad, Watergate, macrame vests as well as all the free love and sex that seemed to be creeping into the suburbs during that time period. Cripes, it's probably the only movie I know that has a key party in it.

I think one of the things that really made me think last night was the idea that The Ice Storm really is a period piece. Usually, you think of period pieces being movies that take place in Victorian England or during the Revolutionary War, but the simple fact of the matter is that 1973 was 30 years ago! And a movie made today about that time period qualifies as a period piece as much as anything else. But what struck me is the difference between a movie like The Ice Storm which was made in the late 90s looking back on a time in history vs. movies like Taxi Driver and Saturday Night Fever, which are movies that really are slices of the time during which they are set--the difference being that the latter movies were actually made during that time period. How do they differ? How are they the same?

For one thing, I think that movies that look back on a time period are always going to overdo it a little bit. Saturday Night Fever effortlessly captured Brooklyn during the disco era whether that's what it set out to do or not. The Ice Storm deliberately sets out to recreate an era, and in so doing, goes a little bit over the top. I can forgive this of the movie--it's still a great re-creation of an era, but it's still only that; a re-creation. And ultimately, there's something false about it.

You have to hand it to Christina Ricci in the movie though. She is, without a doubt, one of the most talented young actresses we have. She'll always have a little bit of Wednesday Addams in her for me, and of course, she'll always be my sister Wendy's celebrity double, but she's a very good actress who plays a wide variety of roles quite well.

I love the history of the late 20th century (mostly 1960 on) and this movie appeals to me on that level. Definitely worth a watch if you get a chance, but the book, of course, is better.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Meet The Fockers

Admittedly, I wasn't a big fan of Meet The Parents. I thought the jokes were lame and I really am not all that crazy about Ben Stiller. But Jeff told me about the trailer that he saw for Meet The Fockers which comes out in December and said I had to go see it. Maybe you have to have followed Barbra Streisand's career like I have to truly appreciate it, but I laughed my ass off.

Watch it here. I never thought we'd see Barbra in a movie that wasn't written, produced and directed by her as well. And she's cutting loose, if just a little bit.

Monday, August 02, 2004

More Bush/Republican insanity

Hmmm...let's see, since Bush has already passed three extremely irresponsible tax cuts what else does the Republican party have to say about taxes? Why, let's eliminate income tax altogether! Granted, the link is from Drudge, but it just speaks to the complete and utter alternate universe the neo-cons and their following are living in. Although they propose a national sales tax or a value added tax. I'm no economist, but this just seems totally ridiculous.

It likely won't happen, but the fact that it's even being entertained is just insanity.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

The Murder of Scarecrows

A really cool (and morbid) Flash game that I stumbled across via Metafilter.

The Murder of Scarecrows

I can see it getting old really fast, but it was very Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark--which, by the way was illustrated by Stephen Gammell who is from Des Moines. Who knew?

Friday, July 30, 2004

Single parenthood

Heidi's been in Dallas since Wednesday for the Romance Writers of America National Conference. She called tonight and she's having a great time which is really good because she really needs some time to not be Anna's mom and be just Heidi. So I took Wednesday and Thursday off work to be home with Anna. My folks came over tonight to watch her while I worked which worked out well.

Anna and I have been to the zoo, the library and the ISU campus (which is the home of two swans--Lancelot and Elaine which Anna just adores, but I find rather unnerving because they have no problem coming really close to you.) We have a good time when we're out together, but she's very demanding of your attention and time. It's not like last year when Heidi went to National and Anna was very content to sit and watch TV or other less strenuous things. It also was nice that she took naps last year and she's pretty much given those up except when she's really tired.

As usual, I have new appreciation for the things that Heidi does while she's home with Anna. I also understand why sometimes even though she's home all day, the house is still a mess and the dishes don't always get done. Anna wants attention (which is normal) and I'm always going to choose to give it to her. I figure there'll come a time when she doesn't want my attention, so I'm going to take advantage of it now while I can. She's a good little girl, really. She's just high-maintenance at times. And I love her so much.

I have a baby monitor going down here (I'm in the basement, she's in her second floor bedroom) and I thought I heard her stir, which caused me to just bolt right up out of my chair and check on her. We had to go out and buy a baby monitor especially for this as we never really had much need for one when she was a baby--beings she slept in our bed from birth.

Never thought one little girl could make such a big difference in my life. But she sure has. But there's definitely a reason she has two parents! :)

Audioscrobbler

Via my friend Scott, I've discovered Audioscrobbler, which is a really cool music application for your computer. You download their plug-in and it keeps track of what music you're listening to on your computer. Then, it takes that information and collates it and matches you with other people that listen to similar music, as well as making recommendations for other music you might like.

Check out my page here.

And to no one's shock or surprise, Scott's pretty high up on my Musical Neighbors page.

Yahoo! News | Unhappy Workers Should Take Prozac -- Bush Campaigner

Yahoo! News - Unhappy Workers Should Take Prozac --Bush Campaigner

I don't care if this was a joke. You don't joke about things like that.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Not exactly placebo controlled

Today I had a root canal on one of my teeth that had been giving me some trouble for about a week now.  While I was in the dentist's chair, they had Fox News playing on the TV.  Now the root canal was no picnic, I can still feel them pulling the nerve tissue out of my tooth (OUCH!) but once it was all said and done, I managed to tell the dentist that I appreciated a head-to-head trial of a root canal vs. Fox News to determine which one was worse.  He laughed and asked if they were neck in neck.

My response?  It was the root canal by a hair, but only because the sound was muted on the TV.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Who says Toys R Us is just for kids?

We all went to Eden Valley Nature Center today for a picnic with Heidi's dad's side of the family.  It was a dang long drive--about 3 hours by the time it was all said and done.  It's just south of Baldwin, Iowa which I think redefines the word "podunk."  It was a pretty good time.  Not being much of an outdoorsy type guy, I spent a lot of time reading and chit-chatting with various family members while Heidi, Anna and her sister went for a hike around the place.  That just wasn't something I was in the mood for today.

On the way home, we stopped at Toys R Us because we'd never taken Anna there before plus the fact that we needed to wake her up if we ever hoped for her to sleep tonight.  We walked around for a while and I must say that I find the current state of kids' toys deplorable.  But I did run across something pretty cool that I picked up for myself.  It's an Alien figure, complete with egg and two facehuggers.  Here's a picture.  Heidi kind of looked at me like I was on drugs for wanting that, but hey, it's cool.  Anna, of course, is fascinated by it.  She talks about how it's a "scary guy with sharp teeth."  The facehuggers are "spiders" and the alien is "angry now."  She's my daughter, that's for sure.

 

Friday, July 23, 2004

Definitely not Joss Whedon's vampires...

I watched From Dusk Till Dawn tonight and it was quite the movie.  Besides the fact that George Clooney is just so damn cool in almost anything he's in, it was fun to see a bank-robbery-brothers-on-the-lam movie get turned into a vampire movie.  When the vampires showed up about 2/3rds of the way through the movie, I found myself thinking--"what would this movie have been like if we hadn't known there were going to be vampires in it?  What kind of kick-ass surprise would that have been?"  Too bad we always have to have movie trailers that give away all the best bits of movies.

But perhaps I've seen too much Buffy The Vampire Slayer because the vampires were really bloody and gross and not at all what I've become accustomed to a certain plucky blond staking.  For one thing, the makers of the movie obviously subscribed to the zombie theory of vampirism--which means that all it takes is a bite from a vampire (and not necessarily in the jugular either) to become one yourself.  Hello!  These are neither zombies nor werewolves and most "authoritative" sources (i.e. Buffy and Anne Rice) require the vampire to drink the victim's blood and then the victim to drink the vampire's blood before the transformation can occur.  Otherwise, think of all the vampires we'd have running around!

And when they staked these vampires, they didn't just crumble into dust leaving behind no trace of the monster.  These things melted a la the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark and exploded right and left leaving blood and guts all over the place.  Not appetizing at all.  But I guess that wasn't exactly the angle they were after. *shrug*

So it was a good movie, but it's going back to Netflix.  The next three movies coming are The Matrix: Revolutions, The Bourne Identity and The Butterfly Effect.  Have I mentioned how much I love Netflix?

And check out this site for some more good stuff on vampires and zombies.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Pinball Counting

Anna and I just got done watching "The Pinball Song"--one of those classic Sesame Street clips from my childhood on one of her Sesame Street DVDs.  I'm sure you know the one--it's the "one, two, three, FOUR, FIVE, six, seven, eight, NINE, TEN, eleven, twelve" song that takes place inside the pinball machine.  It's pretty funky.  And come to find out, it's the Pointer Sisters doing the vocals.  Who knew?  Click here to walk down memory lane.  It's not quite the original, but it's good in a pinch.

Of course, I'll always love that orange haired piano player that breaks his piano while playing "Eight Balls of Fur."  Not sure what his name is, but I think he also sang that song that goes "tell me why do you always do the opposite of what I do."

And I also never realized that Roosevelt Franklin was retired because he was considered a negative stereotype.  According to one book, he was the only African-American muppet (although he was purple) and was mostly seen in detention!  Who knew?

UPDATE:  Here's the orange haired piano player.  Chrissy of Chrissy and the Alphabeats.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

AtomFilms - This Land

AtomFilms - This Land (static)

Forwarded to me by John, my former boss and partner in crime for liberal politics and Lord of the Rings discussion.

Early morning griping

Well, it's raining to beat the band this morning, so I guess I'll be driving to work.  That just figures.  It's not been the best start to the day.  Anna woke up at 4:45 AM and wouldn't go back to sleep.  She always seems to do that when I have to be to work at 7AM.  Never when I'm the 10 o'clock or 2 o'clock.  So consequently I'm already exhausted and I haven't even been to work yet.  Add this to the fact that today I have to go around and check outdates on the floors and I was trained in that exactly once so I don't really know what I'm doing and I'm just so worn out that I don't want to think about having to ask for help.  Sometimes, I think it would have been easier to stay at Washington.

Easier, yes.  But definitely not the right thing to do.

So I'll just muddle through as usual.  Dang, I'm not very positive this morning, am I?

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Updated All Music...

...and it's not all it's cracked up to be.

All Music Guide is one of my favorite sites on the web. And it got a spanky new look and complete site makeover. Only trouble is, now you have to register and log in to access the information on their site. No problem, I've done that a million times before on other sites. So I put in my email address and get my password and go back to the site and try to log on. Zilch. Oh, not exactly zilch, I got "INVALID LOGIN; TRY AGAIN." Changed my password to one of my tried and trues and tried again. Still nothing. Changed the e-mail address I was using. Still nothing. So I sent them a little love letter asking for their help. I'm sure they'll work the bugs out, but as it stands it's not that great.

Gee, I wonder if all my links that I've used in previous posts work. Hmmm.