Thursday, October 30, 2003

Napster--So Much (So Far Wasted) Potential

Downloaded the new Napster 2.0 software the other day. I was lured in by the promise of 5 free songs if I preregistered, so I did. The interface is slicker than hell and it's got a really good selection of songs. Trouble is, I tried downloading one tonight and I couldn't get it to play. Not on Winamp, not even on Windows Media Player (and the dang file is even wma so I don't know what its major malfunction is.) Thank goodness I didn't have to pay for it, because basically now I'm stuck with a song that I can't listen to.

Think I'll be sticking to iTunes unless things shape up in a hurry.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Camille Paglia on Everything Under the Sun has a great feature interview with libertarian anti-feminist Camille Paglia. She comments on everything from Bush to the Democrats to Madonna and conservative commentators. Her comments on Madonna are pretty accurate (unfortunately, and this coming from a dyed-in-the-wool Madonna fan) although she's a bit rough on her I think.

Camille also goes on the record as really not liking bloggers. While I can see her point (Camille says "People say that the best part about writing a blog is that there's no editing -- it's free speech without institutional control. Well, sure, but writing isn't masturbation -- you've got to self-edit.") I do think that blogging can be fun and if you find people that share your interests it can be fun to read the inner workings of their brains. I don't fool myself into thinking that very many (if any) people are reading this, but if just one person bookmarks it and comes back to it a few times, hey, it's worth it.

(BTW, the interview is linked from is a subscription service. If you like what you read, please consider subscribing to Salon. Totally worth the price of admission.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Scariest Movie Moments

Just in time for Halloween, is listing the 100 scariest movie moments. The list is not complete as of this writing, but by Halloween it will be. It's fascinating reading and is reminding me of a lot of scary movie moments that I had forgotten about or had not known about in the first place.

And in the "not for the easily offended" category, here's a review of "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" that had me laughing my ass off this morning.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Blogging at ISU

I've spent the last several hours walking around the ISU Campus. It's eeriely the same, yet different. For example, the place where I am currently sitting (in the main library) was once where the card catalog sat! Actual cards in drawers that you could go through. Of course, all that's given way to computer technology (as well it should) but it's still pretty funny to think about.

I went up to the dorm floor where I lived when I was here--Lorch-Russell house in Friley Hall. It was pretty much the same except the walls have been repainted (one would hope that they would have been repainted in the 12 years since I last lived there!) And next to the rooms they have little paintings of people a la Keith Haring (one person next to single rooms, two people next to double rooms.) It still smells the same all through Friley Hall. I was worried for a little bit because every door that I was trying was locked. But then I went to the main entrance and it was open and that allowed me access to the floor where I lived.

It's funny how everything smells the same. The library, Friley Hall, Fisher-Nickell Hall (where Jeff & Holly lived while they were here and I just found out IS CLOSING!!)--everything. That's the part that doesn't change. Sure there are a lot of new buildings and things have definitely been updated for the 21st century, but so much is the same.

It's a little bit bittersweet to come here, as I was telling Heidi earlier, because I spent a lot of time on this campus feeling very lonely and sad. I probably have no one to blame but myself, but I still feel that way when I come here. I find myself wandering through the campus and seeing younger versions of what I must have been like at that time, and I wonder "Are they lonely too? Do they feel like they're the weird ones? Or if they are weird, do they at least have other people to be weird with?" There are times that I wish I could go back and do it differently, but you really do have to be careful with that wish. It's a silly and overdone movie cliche, but changing just one thing can change everything around you in ways you can't even imagine. Kinda like that new movie with Ashton Kutcher called The Butterfly Effect.

I did spend a lot of time feeling so lonely and sad. I was also angry. Angry at people for not understanding me and for not taking the time to get to know me. Truthfully, it was probably me that was the problem there--I had this insurmountable wall built around myself. And I basically damned people before I even got to know them. That was pretty silly, but I was 18 and what can I say?

Still in shock that Fisher-Nickell is closing. I wonder if Jeff knows that. It makes me want to walk back over there and take a picture of it just for the nuts of it.

More later if I can manage it. I'm going to go try to find Heidi.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

I'm cranky and I need sleep. I'm just so irritated today. I can't even articulate why.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Yikes, I think I've successfully scared the bejesus out of myself tonight. I rewatched the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre from 10-11:30 tonight. I had to have ever light in living room on and I always kept feeling like someone was sneaking up behind me. I had to watch it wearing headphones because I didn't want Heidi (who is sleeping) to have to hear the screams and the revving of the chainsaws, etc. I think I've had just about enough chainsaw murder and mayhem for one 24 hour period.

It wasn't quite as scary as I remember it being from the first time I watched it (summer 1995) but it was still freaky. Something about those Vietnam-era horror movies that really worked. I just don't think that in our day and age they can really make something that can scare us on such a visceral level as that kind of stuff did back then. I mean, you could argue that I just spent an hour and a half watching utter rubbish and depravity (which would probably be true) but it's an example of cinema at its most raw. It's real, even though it isn't. There's just something about it. Night Of The Living Dead is the same way. Halloween is also in that same category, although rewatching it this last summer I realized how even though it was supposed to take place in Illinois, it was so California and California will never, no matter how hard it might try, pass for the Midwest.

I'm just on a scary film binge right now--I want to go out and rent Wrong Turn (admittedly part of it is the Eliza Dushku factor) even though it got absolutely horrific reviews. Sometimes I think that those types of movies are always going to get bad reviews, even if they might be effective films. There's a definite bias out there against horror. Done right, it can be very effective. Done poorly, it's merely laughable and disposable.

TCM (1974) is still a superior film to TCM (2003). But I'll have more commentary on that tomorrow, I'm sure.
Hmmmm, it seems to me that when you start calling people names, you've really run out of things to say.

Thanks to Steve over at No More Mister Nice Blog for linking to this.

Saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre this afternoon--more on that later. I want to rewatch the original before I write anything.
OK, iTunes officially rocks. It's amazing that someone finally got the legal music downloading thing right. As I was writing to Kev tonight, a great interface, large selection, reasonable usage restrictions, and the price is right. I have always maintained that I would pay for downloaded music, and truthfully, at 99 cents a song, they've about found the right price. One could argue that since there's no packaging or any expense like that, they could lower the cost, but hey, it's a start. I downloaded the Cher & Rod Stewart duet "Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered." I can see where it could get easy to spend a lot of money on that--99 centing yourself to bankruptcy, but fortunately there isn't a whole lot of music out there that I'm just dying to have right now.

I did see the Dolly Parton tribute album at Wal-Mart tonight when Anna and I were out there buying a head cleaner for the VCR. I would have picked it up had I not already decided that I was going to buy the 30th Anniversay DVD of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I've heard some sound clips from it, and the song selection is a bit on the odd side, but it might be worth putting on my Christmas list or something. I can just imagine how Sinead O'Connor's version of "Dagger Through The Heart" must sound. But true to form, I'm most interested in Dolly's rerecording of "Just Because I'm A Woman" which is such a ridiculous little song, but it was 1960's country and I guess that's the best excuse I can give it. The CD itself will probably not sell that well, but I'll definitely get it at some point--even, like I said, if I wait till Christmas and receive it as a gift.

In other Dolly related news, Anna was reading her "Coat of Many Colors" book to her Teletubbies today which was pretty funny. Heidi had to call me at work to tell me about it. I think that's probably the only children's book that Dolly's gonna be able to cull from her songwriting. I mean, it's not like she can turn one of her multitude of dead baby songs ("Down From Dover", "Me & Little Andy", "Mountain Angel", or "Little Blossom" and one other one I can't remember the name of where the kid runs out in the street and is hit by a bus or something!) into a children's book.

Dolly's such a guilty pleasure--but dang she sure is fun to listen to because she's just so darn cheesy!

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Not as much time to blog as I'd like, but hey, I'll get by. I'm listening to this song from O Sister 2!: A Women's Bluegrass Collection called "Reason Enough" and this lady's voice is so smooth. You'd hardly know that she's a country singer--no twang whatsoever. Reminds me of Mary-Chapin Carpenter (is that with or without the hyphen--I can never remember any longer.)

iTunes has a Windows interface now! I'm gonna have to give that a whirl. I've heard nothing but good things about it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

I took a walk this morning before the sun came up and I'm remembering just how much I love fall. If it weren't for the whole SAD thing, it'd easily be my favorite season. And I guess it still is. The fall is turning out pretty good for the most part. It's hard to believe that we're already half way through October.

I think we're gonna go to Carroll/Ames next weekend. My dad's birthday is the 24th and it'll be fun to go home and see my folks. The plan is to get to Carroll in time for supper on Friday and then leave Anna with Mom & Dad on Saturday while we go to Ames and spend some time together--and apart. Heidi's really wanting to spend some time writing and I really love walking around the campus and revisiting old haunts. So she's taking her AlphaSmart and is going to find a place to write and I'm gonna just walk around. The Iowa State campus is just beautiful. And chock full of memories to boot, so it'll be a fun time.

We'll also plan to eat at Hickory Park which is mandatory eating whenever you're in Ames. It's a barbeque place with awesome food and even better ice cream desserts. It was always the place where you had to take your folks when they came to visit. The funny thing is that the first time I took Heidi there, we went on a January evening and there was just fog as thick as soup. I hadn't been to Ames in a while, and Jeff had told me that the restaurant had been remodeled. So here I am driving up and down the street where it is and it is just plain and simple NOT THERE! Well, what Jeff neglected to tell me was that they had demolished the old building and built a new one at a different location. Eventually, we found it, and although the atmosphere is not quite the same as the old one, it's still good food and you get seated a heck of a lot faster than you did at the old building.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Short post re: updates

Not much time to blog tonight as I've spent most of my time getting my sidebar in order. I've finally acquiesced and decided to stick with this blog template. It's not that offensive even though there are a ton of other blogs out there that look exactly like it. I also got a comment thing going on which is courtesy of BlogSpeak, so if you're reading this, please comment. I'd love to know who out there is reading this, if anyone!

Heard a little bit about Howard Dean's prescription drug thing. Not so keen on the preferred drug list, but am glad to see he's taking on direct-to-consumer advertising which is one of the biggest money making ploys the drug companies have done in recent memory. As somebody on another blog wrote, it's not like prescription drugs are deodorant or toilet bowl cleaner. They shouldn't be advertised like that. My opinion, natch.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Lots Of Garbage

It's large garbage week a/k/a "trash amnesty week" which basically amounts to you can put just about anything on your front yard and the city will come around and take it away. There are limits--no matter how many times the city says "NO WATER HEATERS" you invariably see water heaters sitting out on the curb in hopes of being picked up despite all evidence to the contrary. But the funny thing isn't really what kinds of crap people will put out on the curb for the garbage collectors to pick up, but it's what gets taken by various people in the meantime.

We wanted to go out and kiss the people that were taking our old bathtub for use as a watering trough on their farm. We were worried that the city wouldn't take it, in which case we wouldn't know what in the hell we were going to do with it. But now that question has been answered--a horse or cow or some other animal will be drinking out of it. Truthfully, it's nice to know that it won't be sitting in the landfill until it rusts away into nothing. In addition, someone came along and took our old bathroom sink, an old pressed-wood bookcase that had fallen to pieces, three broken box fans, the old living room chandelier that we had up before we put up the ceiling fan. There's still the old bathroom mirror sitting out there as well as some chicken wire we figured some farmer would love to take. Oh well, I know that the city will take everything that's left. I hope. :)

In a way, it's sad that we're throwing so much stuff out. It doesn't make me feel like a very good steward of the earth, but what can you do. And then I feel doubly guilty because all this stuff that gets thrown out is being taken by people who must really have nothing because they're going through people's garbage for Pete's sake! Heidi said it's the equivalent of a "redneck garage sale" which I suppose there's some truth to, but that's still not a really nice thing to say.

That's the thing about our town though. I like small town life enough, but I don't really feel like I fit in very well here. It's not really a blue collar town (although there is an element of that because we do have a couple factories that are somewhat large employers) but it's almost like sometimes I just don't feel like I click with anyone here in town. Sure there are other educated people, but then there's our tendency to be hermits and not really get out very much. I wish I were more outgoing, but right now I really don't have the energy to be forging new relationships and friendships. Heidi and I sometimes think we'd fit in better in Grinnell, mostly because it's more liberal and we'd feel less like radicals and more like middle of the road people.

Yesterday when I was walking to church I thought about Rick H. who I haven't thought of in forever. I'm not sure what brought him up in my brain, but I thought "Y'know, I should e-mail him and see how he's doing!" His twins are probably 3 or so now and he and his wife have been married for almost 10 years. The last time I talked to him was--shit, I can't even remember when the last time I talked to him was. It must have been when Heidi was pregnant. I know the last time I saw him was at our wedding. It's kind of sad to me how that relationship has fallen apart. And it's not like anything bad happened, we just drifted apart and man, that kind of makes me sad. And just as soon as the thought about e-mailing him entered my brain, I thought "Geez, what would I even have to say? Not much. I wouldn't even know where to start." So I forgot about it.

So I'm sitting here listening to Dave Matthews, despite the fact that I mentioned in here not all that long ago that I really don't like Dave Matthews. But this kind of music is really speaking to me these days. I'm not sure why. It's just cycles, that's all. I'm sure I'll cycle out of this musical phase soon enough.

The good news is that Wendy and I are going to go see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre next weekend! I'll have to write a review or something. I'm looking to exercise my writing muscles (which is part of the reason I'm writing in here) and it gives me an excuse to not think about my job.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Anna's driving us all crazy tonight as she's just totally manic running on days of being sleep deprived. And she's pulling this trick of when you lay down in bed with her, she lays there for a minute or two and then starts this crying business until you get up and read to her again. It's highly irritating and has resulted in me getting no time to write, read and/or blog before bed most nights this week.

The motivational speaker was actually pretty good--I'm almost embarrassed that I was so negative about it. He didn't really say anything that I didn't already know, but it never hurts to have that kind of stuff reinforced. I did notice that I was the only male in the morning session that I went to. I asked one of the nurses that went to the afternoon session, and there were no males in that section. So what does that say about me? Is this the irrefuteable proof that I'm from Venus while the others are on Mars? Does it say something about me that I was there, or does it say something about the other male employees of the hospital? Or is it both? I think the answer is yes. And no.

I'm kinda tired tonight and was going to call Kev this evening, but I did it over my lunch break today. Was good to talk to him again--hadn't talked to him in forever. Sounds like Gretchen sure is growing up. It was fun to talk and all that. I'm afraid we may never see eye to eye on politics, but hey, what can ya do? He's a way cool friend even if he's not a Dean supporter. :)

Tomorrow's our 6th wedding anniversary. We've been married long enough that our anniversary is on a Saturday again, just like it was when we first got married. We're gonna try to go the Niabi Zoo in the Quad Cities with Anna tomorrow, but it looks like rain so maybe we won't do that after all. I wouldn't mind just staying around home, but it would be fun to get away for a day.

Sounds like Anna's going to sleep pretty well for Heidi. That's good--we all need a break. I probably am going to go to bed here pretty quick, but just thought I'd check in and blog a bit. I was reading on the internet today that some obscenely large percentages of blogs are abandoned within the first couple of months. My goal is to NOT do that. I want to keep this up. I also want to get a cooler blog template--I haven't given up that goal--but for now this one will have to do. I wonder if you can get cooler ones if you pay for the thing?? I'll have to check into that.
It's early morning and I have to go into work at 8AM to listen to a motivational speaker. Is there something inherently wrong with having to go to work early (something I'm not very motivated to do) to listen to a motivational speaker? I have it on good authority that he's pretty good, so maybe it'll be worth it, but I can't help but think how it'll just put me behind for the entire day and invariably make me have to stay late. Oh well. I'll just take it as it comes.

Today I'm fighting a bit harder than I've had to. I think it was my crappy sleep last night. I had this dream that I was in a big city driving (I think it might have been Cincinnati, but I can't know for certain.) But I took the wrong turn and got lost so I was driving all over trying to find my way. Finally, I parked the car and got out my palm pilot and was trying to do Trip Planner from that. (!) But I kept on screwing up putting in the information. The biggest thing I remember was trying to put in where I was starting from--and it was at this store called Dr. Dean's Cologne Shop. But then it was a liquor store, so who knows? And then someone I work with (for the life of me, I can't remember who it was) told me just to get back in the car and take turn the other way, and that'll put me back on the path I needed to be on. Dreams are the weirdest things.

We watched the Democratic debate last night with the Dean Steering Committee, which was enlightening, but I was angry how the press had such a bias against Dean. This is the first time I've seen the moderator of a debate so blatantly have it out for a particular candidate (Dean.) Since when is it okay for the moderator of the debate to pull a press release from a rival campaign that up to that point had not been public knowledge and attack him with it. Isn't the moderator supposed to be impartial? Yeah, right. It was a very poorly run debate. Part of the problem is there are so dang many of them that barely anyone gets to speak--I really wish some of them would drop out. I would say that Kucinich needs to drop out, but he seems like he really believes what he's saying, even though I disagree with a lot of it. He also reminds a lot of people where the way-far-left actually is. When they try to start pinning the "too liberal" tag on Dean, Kucinich stands there in stark contrast. Mosely-Braun really doesn't stand a chance in hell, but I like her presence. She's like a big den mother and while I don't think that kind of attribute would suit her well for the presidency, it really helps temper all the animosity between the male candidates. And this is also the first time I've heard Edwards talk. He would probably be my second choice after Dean. I sat there thinking that he might make a good vice-presidential candidate if Dean got the nomination, but Dean really needs to get someone on the ticket that has some foreign policy experience.

Clark really ended up looking bad last night, I thought. And they say Dean's a hothead!

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

OK, I just downloaded a copy of the new Britney Spears song (featuring Madonna)--it was from the AOL First Listen thing. One word, three letters. U-g-h. Maybe it'll grow on me (a la "Die Another Day") but I'm having my doubts. The best part is the bridge and then the part that Madonna sings by herself. I really don't have the patience for Britney Spears anyway.

Insipid lyrics, musically not very interesting. Could have been so much better.

Monday, October 06, 2003

It's tough to blog when you're listening to Eminem. Yesterday I was examining exactly what the appeal of Eminem is to me. I mean, I'm a 31 year old man who never listens to rap music ever but I do really like Eminem. I pretty much credit (blame?) :) Kev for the Eminem thing because if he hadn't persuaded me to listen to "Lose Yourself" I would have never listened to anything else. But the bottom line for me is that Eminem is a lot like Madonna. Eminem does with anger in his music what Madonna did with sex. I can't really explain it any more clearly than that. Plus there's the fact that he's running a close second to Dolly Parton as far as celebrities milking their white trash past to maximum profit! :)

And 8 Mile is really a modern day Saturday Night Fever. And I mean that as a compliment.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Haven't blogged in a while--not sure why. Crazy life I guess. Went to another wedding this weekend--this one in Des Moines so it was a bit more metropolitan and sophisticated than the one last weekend. Anna had a great time dancing and I made a bloody fool of myself doing the hokey pokey. And I hadn't even had anything to drink!

We stayed with our friend Mary on Saturday night so as to avoid the nearly 3 hour drive back on the same day that we made the drive there. That was pretty fun--watched the first episode of Season 4 of Buffy and the first episode of Season 1 of Angel. We've gotten Mary hooked on those shows--she practically devoured the first 3 seasons of Buffy. We're currently watching Season 2 of Angel on DVD and I have to say that it's pretty good. I like watching the eps where the story of Angel's past is told. Plus the whole Barry Manilow karaoke is just a crack-up.

I was noticing on the official Dean blog that there's a link to Mormons for Dean. I mean, there's even a Mormons for Dean blog! I'll have to run that past Kevin and see what he thinks of that. I'd be really interested to hear his take on it. I know he's definitely not a Dean supporter, but I'd be curious to hear his reaction to all that. He should be coming back from his trip sometime soon (can't remember when right off) and I'm looking forward to getting in touch with him again.

I bought the new John Mayer CD Heavier Things today on the strength of Room For Squares. It's going to be a slow burn, I can tell. However, there is a pretty cool song on there called "Daughters" which just makes me think of my own daughter and how much I love her. We had a great time at the children's museum today--made me hope that when Kev comes to visit that he brings Gretchen so we can all do that. Talk about a way fun time! But the CD is quite different from RFS, and consequently, I think it'll take a little getting used to.

I'm listening to Diana Krall right now--"Peel Me A Grape." I'm thinking of making a fall mellow mix CD or something. Kind of in that mode right now. It's not a depressive thing or an SAD thing, but I'm just feeling like that kind of music right now. Hence, all this John Mayer I'm pretty sure. I even pulled out Simply Streisand the other day because I'd heard one of the songs on that CD on Yahoo! Launchcast Friday. (Launchcast, incidentally, is the absolute best internet radio that you can possibly get for four dollars a month.) Simply Streisand has got to be one of the guiltiest of all my guilty pleasures (as well as one of the shortest--I think it's only like 29 minutes long or something!)