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! :)


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.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Summer Upbeat Mix Volume 2

Here it promised.

1) Cher -- "Dov'e L'Amore (Video Version)" (What a kickass version of this song. I had to use sound capture on the DVD to get this version. Surprisingly, it's not one of the remixes on the maxi-single.)
2) KWS -- "Please Don't Go" (This song always reminds me of my college roommate Kim. She loved all those house dance songs. It was almost disappointing when she pretty much went cold turkey on them toward the end of the time we lived together.)
3) Toby Lightman -- "Devils & Angels" (I heard this song for the first time on my way to Ankeny the day before I started my new job. While I'm not all that impressed by the rest of the stuff she does, this song is still pretty good.)
4) Prince -- "Sign 'O' The Times (Mr. Aurel's Loud Club Mix)" (This is undoubtedly a bootleg remix of this song, but it's a pretty good one at that. Those DJ remixes are pretty hit and miss, but every now and again you get a good one. Not super different from the original, but different enough.)
5) Heart -- "Make Me" (I always forget how much I like Heart until I listen to them again. This song is from their new CD, Jupiter's Darling, and sums up all that is good about Heart. The fact that Ann Wilson can still use her voice like she does after all the years she's been singing is amazing to me. That woman can truly belt.)
6) Carl Perkins, Duane Eddy and The Mavericks -- "Matchbox" (An odd choice, yes, but it's a fun little country-blues song that if from the Red Hot and Blue CD. I always thought that it'd be a good song for my former brother-in-law, Rad, to cover at his shows.)
7) Nellie McKay -- "The Dog Song" (I owe my friend Scott for introducing me to this song. I doubt that I'd have ever thought to listen to it if it hadn't been in his "Heavy Rotation" section on his blog. A great little summer song, even though my jazz vocal heart really does belong to Diana Krall [see below].}
8) George Michael -- "Flawless (Go To The City)" (Another last minute add because I was feeling like the mix was weighted a little bit more in the past. Of course, George Michael hasn't had a true hit in years, but it's a good dance song from his latest CD, Patience.
9) Loretta Lynn -- "Mad Mrs. Leroy Brown" (This song just makes me laugh--it's in the grand tradition of country story-songs that can only be done by the grand dames of country. I haven't listened to much of Van Lear Rose, but this is definitely a highlight. I predict that we'll be hearing about this album again come Grammy time.)
10) Bananarama -- "I Can't Help It" (Contains a classic mishear on my part. In the chorus, the girls sing "I'm captivated by you honey." My young ears heard "I got debated by your heartache." Yeah, like that makes sense.)
11) Celine Dion - "Faith" (I have a soft spot for Celine. Especially for the stuff since she came out of her "retirement." She doesn't seem to wail as much as she did before and her songs are more upbeat and fun. Taking a break was the best thing she ever did.)
12) Cyndi Lauper -- "Primitive" (Ever since I saw Cyndi open for Cher a couple years ago, I have new respect for her. She's doesn't have the world's greatest voice--exceptionally nasal--but she sang her heart out at that concert. I remember how surprised I was by the strength of her voice.)
13) Blondie -- "Shakedown" (There's something oddly credible about Deborah Harry's rapping. If it were any other 58 year old white woman doing this, it would just be laughable, but since she pioneered rap in pop songs with "Rapture", I'm inclined to cut her some slack. This song is very female Eminem and the vocabulary just kills me. "Mediterrnean lassitude?")
14) Dave Matthews Band -- "Grey Street" (As I've said before, I'm a bit of a fair-weather fan of Dave Matthews, but this song is definitely one of my faves.)
15) Maroon 5 -- "This Love" (This dang song gets stuck in my head so much recently that I figured it had to go on here. Usually, I'm not much of a fan of the Matchbox 20 style rock because it seems so homogenized and similar, but I do like this song.)
16) Diana Krall -- "Love Me Like A Man" (Diana covers a Bonnie Raitt song and succeeds. Her CD The Girl In The Other Room is one of my favorites of the summer. It was so refreshing to hear Diana ditch the orchestra and elevator music and try something like her early stuff, but yet completely different.)
17) Madonna - "Vogue (Live from the Re-Invention Tour)" (I just had to throw this on there. It was the first time Madonna's ever sung "Vogue" live--all the other times have been lip-synched, and her voice is in fine form. A great closer as well as a great memory from the summer or 2004.)

Well, that's it. Hope someone out there enjoyed reading it.

Telegraph | News | Schlesinger blamed heart failure on Madonna

One last bit of blog before work.

Telegraph | News | Schlesinger blamed heart failure on Madonna

Great, now Madonna's getting blamed for a 75 year old guy's heart problems. Damn her! How dare she!?!? ;)

Summer Upbeat Mix 2004

Over the weekend, I managed to put the finishing touches on what I call Dan's Summer Upbeat Mix 2004. It's a CD that I make every summer which basically sums up what I've been listening to during the summer. I try to get some actual current songs so that it's not all oldies and Madonna and things like that. Last year was the first time that I've ever had so many songs that I made two CDs, and wouldn't you know it, this year is the same thing. Just thought I'd share the songs with a few comments here and there.

Volume 1:
1) Nick Lachey -- "Shut Up" (I know, I should be shot for listening to Nick, but this song is so damn infectious!)
2) Kylie Minogue -- "Your Disco Needs You" (put on there for my friend Jeff who really liked this song and went out and bought Kylie's new CD Body Language and was thoroughly disappointed. He ended up giving that CD to me.)
3) Madness -- "Our House" (one of my favorite little 80s ditties. But it always makes Heidi ask, "what is this song about other than a house?")
4) Janet Jackson -- "You Can Be Mine" (from her 1986 Control CD back before she felt like she had to have everything dripping in sex before she could record it.)
5) Eurythmics -- "Here Comes That Sinking Feeling" (this was always my theme song for going to work when I worked at Drug Town. For some reason, it's crept back into my life, although I don't usually have a sinking feeling when I go to work now. *shrug*)
6) Stevie Nicks -- "Stand Back" (probably my favorite Stevie Nicks song ever. As Stevie says, it just has this energy that comes from out of nowhere and just takes you away. Plus it's the only song you can sing "Little Red Corvette" over the top of.)
7) Clay Aiken -- "Invisible" (gotta love Clay. My folks are going to his concert at that Clay County Fair. Clay county. Heh.)
8) Madonna -- "Nobody Knows Me (Mount Sims Italo Kiss Mix)" (a great remix of a fantastic song from the Re-Invention Tour. As near as I can figure, this mix closely approximates the performance at the show. A little heavy on the vocoder, but we'll forgive her just this once.)
9) Bonnie Tyler -- "Holding Out For A Hero" (since it was so prominently--and successfully--featured in Shrek 2 this summer, it just had to make the cut.)
10) Sonny & Cher -- "Baby Don't Go" (a clip of this song is in one of the montages of Cher's Farewell Tour, and Anna just loves Cher so much I put it on there just for her.)
11) Counting Crows -- "Accidentally In Love" (another Shrek 2 song, but more importantly, it was a free iTunes download. It's a cute little song, I can almost forget "Mr. Jones" and "The Long December.")
12) R.E.M. -- "All The Right Friends" (a last minute add when I saw that I had room for one more on the first CD. I heard this song on my iPod one day walking home from work and more importantly, it's one of my favorite types of upbeat songs--a kiss off.
13) Basia -- "Drunk On Love (Downtown Radio Edit)" (Basia is a Polish born singer that started out singing with the group Matt Bianco but has had a fairly successful solo career. She's probably best known for the songs "Time & Tide" and "Cruising For Bruising" but "Drunk On Love" comes from my favorite of her CDs--The Sweetest Illusion.)
14) The Corrs -- "Summer Sunshine" (I really like the Corrs first CD Forgiven Not Forgotten, but after that, they pretty much trashed all the Celtic influences in their music for a go at mainstream success which made me less excited about them. While I did like that song of theirs from a couple summers ago--"Breathless"--I tend to agree with Entertainment Weekly when they said that they kind of went all Wilson O'Phillips.)
15) George Michael -- "Amazing" (A should have been hit for George Michael. Although I kinda think George Michael's a little bit pretentious, this was a fun song.)
16) Blossom Dearie -- "Rhode Island Is Famous For You" (Probably the only song that will ever make a CD of mine that I heard while on hold at work. I've already blogged about this song, so I'll let that entry speak for itself.)
17) Nsync (and others) -- "On The Line" (Yes! Yes! I admit it. It's cheeseball and it's silly, but it's damn fun. And no, I didn't see the movie.)
18) Eminem vs. Michael Jackson -- "The Real Slim Shady (Billie Jean Remix)" (I love mashups, but Eminem mashups are the best. This one is basically what you would expect--"The Real Slim Shady" over the beat from "Billie Jean.")
19) Blondie -- "End To End" (from Blonide's woefully underrated new CD The Curse of Blondie.)

Volume 2 later--I have to start getting ready for work!!

A new blog to the blog roll

I stumbled across a new blog in my attempt to collect a complete set-list of mp3s for Madonna's tour. Sadly, I didn't find what I was looking for there, but what I found was even better. I love discovering new blogs and this one is definitely one of my favorites. It's written by a guy named Scott and the blog is called The SaltwaterPizza Blog. He and I have a lot in common--like me, he's a die hard Madonna fan, but has somehow never managed to see her in concert. So check out his blog, it's great!

Oh, and I finally did manage to get the last two songs for a complete set-list of the Re-Invention Tour. Now I just gotta put them on CD.

Spiderman 2

Heidi and I made it to Spiderman 2 this weekend. And wow, the popular consensus was right. It's probably one of the best comic book movies ever made. It was just out of this world enough to be a comic book, but the superhero and action really took a backseat to the human element of the story. It doesn't help that I think Tobey Maguire is just about one of the coolest actors + whenever you have a sensitive, vulnerable hero like you have in Peter Parker, I'm always sucked in. Peter Parker is almost more interesting than Spiderman, as it's in Peter Parker that we get all the human, emotional drama. Sure, Spidey can swing through the streets of Manhattan and kick general butt, but it's the more human Peter Parker that really sells the story.

Ultimately, the story is about self-sacrifice and it's worth the 2+ hours in the theater to get to a very satisfying ending.

Of course, whenever I go to movies like that, I wish I knew someone like Peter Parker--or at least what my perception of Peter Parker is--someone who isn't afraid of their emotions or afraid to talk about real stuff. There just aren't enough of those kinds of people out there. Even here in Ames, I feel like I've stepped from one lonely place to another. Theoretically, there should be a larger population of people like me here because, well, there's a larger population. Granted I haven't exactly been really eager to join things because my schedule is all over the place and the general stress of the move has caused me to not want to be anywhere else but at home. Still, it would be nice to have a buddy to go hang out with. But then again, I think about how that would drain time from being with Anna and I will always choose her over anything else.

It just sucks to feel so lonely sometimes. It's not like I'm totally freaked out about it, but it just seems like there's no sense of community anywhere anymore. I mean, my job is good, but I don't see myself socializing with them. That's just not where I see the relationships going. And we have some nice neighbors, but I just don't think that there's anyone in the world that's like me and feels like I do and would be willing to talk with me like I want to. I'm a lot less obsessed with trying to find friends than I used to be. Mostly, I just figure that it'll work out if it's meant to and if it isn't, no big whoop.

Well, I'll get by. And I'm probably gonna go see Spiderman 2 again. The first movie of the summer that's merited going twice--I'm not sure even Fahrenheit 9/11 is a movie I'm going to go to twice.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

The song remembers when...

I was listening to a CD while I was in the shower this morning that I made a few years back. It's amazing how it used to make me feel so good, and now when I listen to it, it really just makes me feel bad. When I made the CD, I never thought I'd ever feel quite like I'm feeling again, and that really makes me sad.

Oh well--chin up, young person. Day 7 of 9 today. The end is in sight.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Salon People | Cher

Salon People | Cher

This is a pretty good Salon article about Cher which unfortunately, isn't entirely current. But I thought I'd blog it anyway. *shrug*