Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Wherein I ask, "What?"

Someone in Argentina is Googling Monica marries Chandler and I'm the fourth entry on the page. What this means, I have no idea.

Style Guide question

Wherein I offer a small glimpse into my day

Question: Should we say "Creating a AAA club" or "Creating an AAA club"?

Using a or an is determined by the way the abbreviation would be read aloud. If it sounds like a vowel, then use an; if it sounds like a consonant, use a. For example,
  • a NATO flight
  • an NAACP meeting

Checking the Chicago Manual of Style Q&A, I found this confirmation:
Q. Dear Sir or Madam: My client prefers to use the article a before an abbreviation such as LCMS. I suggest using an, since the letter L is pronounced “ell.” What does the Chicago Manual of Style recommend?

A. When an abbreviation follows an indefinite article, the choice of a or an is determined by the way the abbreviation would be read aloud, so in this case, we would use an. Please see CMS 15.9 for more information and examples.

So, since "AAA" is normally pronounced "Triple A," I created this handy example, "Bob Drunkard was late for an AA meeting because he had to wait for a AAA tow truck."

Cute and clever, I thought. Then I actually read CMS 15.9:
An initialism such as AAA, normally pronounced "Triple A," should not follow an indefinite article; resort to rewording (e.g., "a map from AAA," not "a AAA map").

Killjoy. Of course I'd rewrite as "Bob Drunkard was late for his AA meeting because he had to wait for the AAA tow truck." For the record, our style guide disallows the use of latinate phrase like "e.g." A simple "for example" works just fine, thank you.

Mystery or Hoax?

Wherein I recommend an interesting read

Bruce Schneier receives an unsolicited email. It reads like a bizarre chainmail, but concerns an event that really happened:
I know this is going to sound like a plot from a movie. It isn't. A very good friend of mine Linda Rayburn and her son Michael Berry were brutally murdered by her husband...the sons stepfather.
They were murdered on February 3rd, 2004. He then hung himself in the basement of their house. He left behind a number of disturbing items.

However, the most intriguing is a cryptogram handwritten on paper utilizing letters, numbers and symbols from a computer keyboard. Linda's daughter Jenn was the one who found the bodies. Jenn is a very good friend of mine and I told her I would do everything within my power to see if this cryptogram is truly a cryptogram with valuable information or if it is a wild goose chase to keep us occupied and wondering forever what it means.

Bruce posts a copy of the cryptogram. Reading the comments the serious responses are falling into two main camps: could be a password cheat sheet or it's bogus.

Read Handwritten Real-World Cryptogram

New Additions

Wherein I add three links

I almost saw the New Edition in 1984? Maybe 1983, but probably not. They were to appear at Duffy's, a seedy little punk bar in South Minneapolis (26th & 26th for those familiar with the area; later it became Norma Jeans.).

Whichever the year, I doubt any of them could have gotten in by themselves, even with a legal drinking age of only 19. Not that it mattered: bastards didn't show up. Instead we were treated to a break dancing contest with the best popping and locking crews in the Cities. Pretty entertaining and since the bar skipped the cover charge - must of known the band was going to bail - nothing more than the cost of the beer and a few games of pinball.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Iron Chef meal

Wherein I notice the price doesn't even include a glass of tea

A New Orleans restaurant reopens with a special dinner. Poppy Z. Brite has a comment:
$175 for eight courses with communal seating? I don't theenk so, señor. Sakai-san is mighty, but Chen Kenichi is the only Iron Chef for whose food I'd consider paying that kind of money to sit with strangers.

Following the same Poppy Brite link, she also explains why New Orleans needs Carnival.

Stacks of processed wood pulp

Wherein I make a list of books

List of books I'm currently reading or have recently purchased, along with a few I've had for awhile and started but never finished. My goal is to finish these before buying anything else.

Listed alphabetically, by author, but to be read in no specified order:
  • Alias Grace: A Novel, Margaret Atwood
  • Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
  • Baudolino and The Island of the Day Before, Umberto Eco
  • Secrets from an inventor's notebook, Maurice Kanbar
  • The Art of the Start, Guy Kawasaki
  • Mommy Knows Best, James Lileks
  • Mirror Mirror, Gregory Maguire
  • Commander's Kitchen : Take Home the True Taste of New Orleans With More Than 150 Recipes from Commander's Palace Restaurant , Ti Adelaide Martin, Jamie Shannon
  • God: A Biography , Jack Miles
  • The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness, Virginia Postrel
  • Unmentionable Cuisine, Calvin Schwabe
  • Misfortune, Wesley Stace

I should easily have these finished by Spring, but just in case I get distracted and haven't finished the list, I will be reading Soul Kitchen by Poppy Z. Brite on July 25. Might even take the day off and read it with a bucket of beer while sitting in the sun.

And based on a recommendation, I will add A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles by Thomas Sowell to the list.

Don Quixote or Donkey Kong

Wherein I effuse enthusiastically

Great pop songs are rare. By great, I mean the ones that get stuck in your head and you don't mind. It's not change the world for the better music, just pleasant music that makes you smile. Rarer still to find an entire album full of great pop songs.

John Wesley Harding has trod the earth for about 16 years singing his unique mix of folk and gangsta folk, occasionally plugging in and rocking out just a wee bit. But always with style and wit and the sharpest deprecating humor. He's a wonderful story-teller and I'd pay just to hear him talk. Picking up a guitar and actually singing is a bonus.

If I had to pick a favorite album, it would probably be Awake. A bit dark and fatalistic, it's full of vivid images and scenes. One of my favorite concert moments was Mr. Harding standing alone onstage playing Sweat Tears Blood And Come. The band slowly joined him as they segued into Prince's Come and finished up with a raucous encore of AC/DC. Another song on the album, Miss Fortune became the inspiration for his first novel, MisFortune published last year under his real name, Wesley Stace. Lyrics:
I was born with a coat hanger in my mouth
Oh yeah, and I was dumped down south
I was found by the richest man in the world
Oh yeah, who bought me up as a girl
My sheets are satin but my mind's a mess
But there are worse things I confess
Than drinking tea in a pretty dress
and I'm here to tell you that it's not all bad
Count your blessings and maybe you'll be glad

But if I were to recommend one album to someone unfamiliar with his work, it would have to be Confessions of St. Ace. ( Read more here on the mythology of St. Ace) Where to start? There's the hilarious Goth Girl:
Goth girl
What are you wearing today
Black again
Goth girl
It's such a fine day in May
But you think it's raining
One day I'm gonna kiss the lipstick off your mouth

The spooky Bad Dream Baby sung with the spooky Jimmy Dale Gilmore. The ultimate, lonely driving song, Our Lday of the Highways:
Sometimes the weather's worst
When you have some place to be
Like the time we drove to Boston
In the snow from New York City
Frozen to the bone
And we saw the planes fly high above
On metal wings and prayers
And tried to find some radio
Hoping one day we would be there

...But what makes the album, is the brilliant pop perfection of the first four songs. They are bouncy, and catchy, and the lyrics are literate.

She's a Piece of Work:
She's up and down, she's round the wheel
She's governed absolutely by the way she feels
That's a lethal combination in a small house when it rains

I'm Wrong About Everything
The colours fade to grey
And I'm left with black and white
Don't know why I try
To fight with what is right

People Love to Watch You Die (there's a lot of anger in this song, I'd love to know the story behind it. Harding as the chronicler of St. Ace, does offer a number of suggestions):
People love to watch you die
It gets them sexually
And then they smoke a cigarette
And make a cup of tea

And the song that starts it off, with the bouncy, insistent piano, Humble Bee
Once upon a time
I could have had it all
A princess with a price on her head
Or the prince who'd climb her wall
But when pride has it in for someone
None of us can check the fall
Now I'm humble as a bumblebee
I'm getting used to how things have to be
Just another mumble
Buzzing round and round in rings
So afraid that I won't be king

This is the sting, I still want everything
Here is the twist, you're on my list and
Here's what I mean, you're still the queen
And I want you

Now I wonder
If I will ever be
The lighthouse in a sea of shadows
That you were when you shined for me
When I was going under
You knew when and where to be
Now I'm as good as Ebenezer after his conversion
I'd give all my goods away with no coercion
I'd give almost anything
Just to hear the hum of your wings

This is the sting, I still want everything
Here is the twist, you're on my list and
Here's what I mean, you're still the queen
And I want you, honey, I want you

I was as 'umble as Uriah
Just before his tumble
But I fumbled for the best of me
Amongst the jumble
Heaven knows where we went wrong
Don Quixote or Donkey Kong

This is the sting, I still want everything
Here is the twist, you're on my list
Here's what I mean, you're still the queen
And I want you, honey, I want you
I want you

Sunday, January 29, 2006

No pictures please

Wherein I wonder if the text works on its own

Is Dennis the Menace still published in newspapers? Skipping that, does anyone remember the strip enough to just read the captions and still be able to picture the art?

I have a collection from 1966, Dennis the Menace...Here Comes Trouble, original price was 40 cents. I'll pull a few captions and we'll see what works.
  • Now we'll NEVER know how long it takes a snail to crawl from the kitchen to the livin' room!
  • Operator, so you know any other little boys who feel like talking?
  • I never saw my mom so mad. I thought she was going to jump out of the tub and spank all of us.
  • Gee, mom, you sure look weak without make-up.
  • If we'd all go to bed when I do, you wouldn't have such a big electric bill.
  • Remember how you say 'wow' when you look at the thermometer, dad? It's way below wow this morning!

Google searches

Wherein I trot out a classic template for a blog post

You, maybe not you, maybe a person you know of--perhaps it's a story of a friend of a friend--someone types a couple words into Google and suggested websites are presented in a list. No, it's true. For the sake of argument, let's consider it a fact. Also for the sake of argument consider that the person running a blog can see reports of how people get there. How? Look, it's just a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo so let's call it "FM." Fucking Magic, that's what; does it matter? It happens, it just does...moving on...

To recap:
1. People
2. typing phrases
3. Into Google
4. There are results

These are some recent Google searches that have brought people to So Quoted:
  • eddie murphy and Mr. T buttcheeks homosexual - best search term ever
  • waht are the manifest and latent functions of a health club - what the hell does that mean?
  • dodge intrepid hazard lights flashing by themselves - I recommend reading Christine

Saturday, January 28, 2006

They're through being cool

Wherein I totally stole the title from the comments

Just go read it. Sad. Sad. Sad.

Homeland Security is anti-American

Wherein I'll also say mostly a waste of time and the claimed security is a sham and disgraceful window dressing

Photodude points out that Homeland Security is being used to spy on vegans protesting ham:
However … these people were protesting HAM. And I think you would have a very hard time finding someone willing to publicly take the position that these ham protesters are endangering our national security, or our soldier’s will to fight. Even here on the home front, I personally do not feel that my ham purchasing rights are threatened in any way. Nor is anyone forced to buy ham.

In America today, we just do not seem to have a ham problem.

Is it legal to take pictures of a legal ham protest? Of course. That’s not the question. The question is whether county, state, or federal resources that are supposed to be devoted to “Homeland Security,” i.e. protection from a primarily foreign terrorist threat, should instead be spent in a CVS parking lot watching vegans protest ham.

And the next question is, if they’re doing that, what the hell else are they doing that is so stupid it ought to be illegal?

Much news lately about wiretapping and privacy rights, but this is nothing new. The government, in an ever expanding need to "protect" us spends every year trying to reduce our liberty. Bruce Schneier is a security expert who spends much time detailing the differences between actual security and the perception of security. Privacy rights also factor heavily in his writing. The following quote is from Secrets and Lies (2000). Note this was written before September 11, 2001. That date was just an excuse for the newly formed Homeland Security to institute anti-citizen measures that law enforcement had already been asking for:
The government, and the FBI in particular, likes to paint privacy (and the systems that achieve it) as a flagitious tool of the Four Horsemen of the Information Apocalypse: terrorists, drug dealers, money launderers, and child pornographers. In 1994, the FBI pushed the Digital Tekephony Bill through Congress, which tried to force telephone companies to install equipment in their switches to make it easier to wiretap people. In the aftermath of the World Trade Center Bombing, they pushed the Omnibus Counterterrorism Bill, which gave them the power to do roving wiretaps and the President the power to unilaterally and secretly classify political groups as terrorist organizations. Thankfully it didn't pass.

...The debate is ongoing. The FBI has been pushing for stronger anti-privacy measures: the right to eavesdrop on broad swaths of the telephone network, the right to install listening devices on people's computers--without warrants wherever possible.

...Also interesting (and timeless) are the philosophical issues. First, is the government correct when it implies that the social ills of privacy outweigh the social goods?

...Second, can a government take a technology that clearly does an enormous amount of social good and, because they perceive that it hinders law enforcement in some way, limit its use?

...I don't know the answers. A balance exists between privacy and safety. Laws about search and seizure and due process hinder law enforcement, and probably result in some criminals going free. On the other hand, they protect citizens agaisnt abuse by the police. We as a society need to decide what particular balance is right for us, and then create laws that enforce that balance. Warrants are a good example of this balance; they give police the right to invade privacy, but add some judicial oversight. I don't necessarily object to invasions of privacy in order to aid law enforcement, but I vociferously object to the FBI trying to ram them through without public debate or even public awareness.

In any case, the future does not look good. Privacy is the first thing jettisoned in a crisis, and already the FBI is tryng to manufacture crises in an attempt to seize more powers to invade privacy. A war, a terrorist attack, a police action...would cause a sea change in the deabte. And even now, in an environment that is most conducive to a reasoned debate on privacy, we're losing more and more of our privacy.

Also agree with this

Wherein this sounds reasonable to me

You know, to me Wal-Mart is a lot like George W. Bush. It's not that I'm that big a fan in the abstract, really, it's just that the viciousness and stupidity revealed in its enemies tends to make me view it more favorably than I otherwise would.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Laura Love: I want you Gone

Wherein i post a lyric

Laura Love is one of my favorite vocalists. Amazing voice: strong and forceful, yet soft and sweet. She refers to her style as "folk-funk", "Afro-Celtic" or "hip-Alachian". Her first major release was Octoroon. Got decent reviews and even an interview with Scott Simon on NPR, but sales weren't enough and the label dropped her. Since then, new CDs have been sporadic.

Her last CD (2003), Welcome To Pagan Place, might be her most accessible. What it lacks of the giddy enthusiasm of Octoroon it makes up for with her most constant melodic effort. Worth pointing out is her seamless mashing of Fly Like an Eagle with the Beatles' Come to Together.

Also worth mentioning is that many of her topics are very political. Here, I'll highlight one of the sweetest sounding protest songs I've ever heard. At least listening to her sing; probably doesn't sound song that sweet just reading the lyrics. It's about how much she hates Bush. It's very nice.
I want you gone
We can solve this problem with just one bullet
Well you better hope that they don't think that too
We're the only ones that get to have the bombs
Well you better hope that they don't think that too
My bigass god can beat up yours - Hey, Hey, Hey
Well you better hope that they don't think that too

I'm tired of being smooth
I'm tired of being nice
I'm tired of making it sound pretty
I want you gone like the wind
I want you gone like the wind
I want you gone, gone, gone, gone, gone!

Ak 47, B-52, C-130 Transport, F-16 - Hey, Hey, Hey
Since we're talking numbers and since we're talking letters
How about my 401k? - Hey, Hey I'm tired of being nice
I'm tired of making it rhyme
I'm tired of making it sound pretty
I want you gone like the wind
I want you gone like the wind
I want you gone, gone, gone, gone, gone! - Hey, Hey, Hey!

It's the economy stupid
not all the brown people in the world
I don't want a moron
gettin' this war on - and "nucular" is not a word
I want a lot more readin' and a lot less bleedin' and "nucular" is not a word - Hey, Hey Hey
I'm tired of being nice
I'm tired of making it rhyme
I'm tired of making it sound pretty

I want you gone like the wind
I want you gone like the wind
I want you gone, gone, gone, gone, gone!

I get a wiki link

Wherein I am bemused

Wiki topic linking to my Who wrote the banana boat song post.

While the wiki page pretty much agrees with my work, I would like to point out that I show more of my research than the wiki author does.

Kill me now

Wherein it appears most of my day will be spent working with marketing

They don't pay me enough for this shit. It is so a FU Friday.

A warning label

Wherein I fail to be bothered

James Frey was on Oprah, she's pissed. I haven't read Frey and have no plans to. Still, I can't work up any indignation over James Frey and it sure seems that the resulting reaction is over the top. Here's the description still up at Random house:
In writing his shattering, beautiful memoir, A Million Little Pieces, James Frey does away with a lot of things: punctuation, standard grammar rules, 12-step programs, belief in a higher power, and, eventually, his addiction to alcohol and drugs. In doing so, he has rewritten the rules 'Recovery Memoir' and established himself as a major literary talent.

He isn't writing history. He isn't trying to teach. He's trying to tell a story. He wasn't famous or telling a story that others had a vested interest in, it's just him. Yeah, it would be more accurate to call it fiction, but in the final analysis, isn't that just marketing? What should be important is if the story is a good one. Can he write, is it literary? There is much in the world of fiction literature that speaks to universal truths and readers hold dear. Is the story James Frey tells any less powerful because he exaggerates and invents? If the Frey readers feel defrauded, then maybe they were too caught up in a cult of personality and being seen with a cool book.

For future memoirs, I recommend all publishers use the warning Lynda Barry reads at the beginning of The Lynda Barry Experience:
The stories you're about to hear are true. Except for the ones that are big honking lies.

Update: More

Dude, get out of my head

Wherein I agree with about 95% of what he says

For a fence sitter like me, Stephen Green makes a couple goods points about the Democrats:

What do you do with a broken party
In the space of 48 hours, the three top Democrats for 2008 proved themselves to have all the staying power of a nervous virgin on the set of a porn shoot.

If this is how the Democrats play when not much seems to be going well for Bush, then they're toast. It's too soon to predict exactly what will happen in 2008. But if today is any indication, then I can make a confident prediction about this year's midterm election: The Republicans will gain a seat or two in the Senate, and at the very least hold even in the House.

Late Night Rambling
I just don't know what to do with the Democrats.

Look at me.* I'm pro-choice. I support gay marriage. I think porn is OK and that drugs (which aren't OK) ought to be legal. My taste in music and movies and entertainers are a lot more New York and LA than they are Nashville or Branson.


Democrats: I'm your target voter! Appeal to me! I'm sick of the Republicans already! Don't make me perform impossible physical acts! Please!

But they won't listen and, come November, I'll vote for a bunch of Republicans again. (Although I'll probably leave a bunch of choices blank.) I'll feel bad about it, of course, but I'd feel even worse if I voted for a Democrat.

And I'm their target voter. Sheesh.

What's for breakfast

Wherein I can kill plants and small animals with my breath

Two everything bagels with scallion cream cheese.

Be glad you're not my coworker. And if you are a coworker - sucks to be you.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

What I'm listening to

Wherein I suggest pleasurable auditory experiences

Rhythm and Grooves
Streamed live, Tuesday at 10:30 pm - Midnight (LINK); or listen to the archives (Realplayer).

Hosted by Larry Englund, it's a fascinating mix of jazz and soul. Back in the mid-to-late 1980s, Mr. Englund hosted Streetlight Serenade which focused on doo wop, jump blues, and that blend of blues and jazz and big band that immediately preceded rocknroll. In other words, our greatest music.

Stumbled across Rhythm and Grooves back around Thanksgiving and listen every week. Rarely live, but when working on the computer at home or just sitting around reading, I might pull up the archived show a couple times a week.

Crap From the Past
Also from KFAI is Crap From the Past. Hosted by Ron "Boogiemonster" Gerber, it's heavy on the Dr. Demento production values - and I don't mean that as a compliment - but features another nice mix of music if you're nostalgic for the 1980s. Archives are downloadable as MP3s.

Laurie Berkner
As a parent, you end up listening to a lot of bad music, no matter how hard you try not to. We watch a lot of the Noggin channel (bonus points: no commercials!) and Jack's Big Music Show has surprisingly good music. One of our favorites is Laurie Berkner. Geared towards children without being candy-coated sacchrine, she also includes songs you wouldn't be surprised to hear on a nonkid CD. Catchy songs the kid enjoys singing along to and the parents don't mind joining in. Buy CDs from her site or download from iTunes.

Podcast interview with Norah Vincent
By Dr. Helen and Glenn Reynolds. Norah Vincent masqueraded as a man for 18 months and wrote a book: Self-Made Man : One Woman's Journey into Manhood and Back.

Go here for download information.

Quotidian Quotables, part 2

Wherein a continuation of part 1

James Lileks
Why he didn't Fisk Joel Stein:
Some wrote to ask why I didn’t pick apart the piece line by line – well, my appetite for fisking has abated; it feels like angry break-up sex, and I don’t quite see the point much anymore. Not to say I won’t ever again, but nowadays I read fiskable essays and just sigh: whatev.

Cathy Young
Partisan loyalty shuts down your brain:
Presented with the results of the study, Republicans vehemently insisted that its findings applied mainly to Democrats, while the Democrats maintained the reverse.

Brian Tiemann
If it means John Lasseter will be a chief Disney director, though, it could mean great things. Like, say, maybe the reemergence of a 2D Feature Animation unit. And wouldn't it be funny if buying Pixar was what it took to reawaken Disney's interest in 2D?

Jaime J. Weinman
Pretty LIttle Pixar:
My gut reaction is that Disney may have bought into a declining market. Pixar is a great company, but the computer-animation boom shows signs of having peaked; remember the reports that DVD sales of Pixar's The Incredibles and DreamWorks' successful albeit pointless Shrek 2 were less than expected. Of course, Jobs, Catmull and Lasseter are smart guys who know how to keep up with changing public tastes, so there's every possibility that they'll be able to keep turning out hits -- but I just wanted to raise the possibility that we've already seen the highest heights of the vogue for computer-animated movies, much as the vogue for hand-drawn movies hit its peak with The Lion King in 1994.

Lord Floppington
Close Encounter of the Seinfeld kind:
Jerry: No, it's smorgasbord, smorgasbord, with a "d" at the end.

George bluffs: Actually Jerry, it's you who is mistaken. It is smorgasborg, with a "g" at the end.

Jerry: George! It's smorgasbord. It's Swedish. It means sandwich table. What do you think? You go for the mashed potatoes and they tell you you're going to be assimilated?

Rudyard Kipling
Stalky & Co., excerpt from Slaves of the Lamp, Part 1:
`I didn't think,' said Beetle meekly, scooping out pilchards with a spoon.

`'Course you didn't. You never do.' M`Turk adjusted Beetle's collar with a savage tug. `Don't drop oil all over my "Fors," or I'll scrag you!'

`Shut up, you -- you Irish Biddy! 'Tisn't your beastly "Fors." It's one of mine.'

The book was a fat, brown-backed volume of the later Sixties, which King had once thrown at Beetle's head that Beetle might see whence the name Gigadibs came. Beetle had quietly annexed the book, and had seen -- several things. The quarter-comprehended verses lived and ate with him, as the be- dropped pages showed. He removed himself from all that world, drifting at large with wondrous Men and Women, till M`Turk hammered the pilchard spoon on his head and he snarled.

`Beetle! You're oppressed and insulted and bullied by King. Don't you feel it?'

`Let me alone! I can write some more poetry about him if I am, I suppose.'

`Mad! Quite mad!' said Stalky to the visitors, as one exhibiting strange beasts. `Beetle reads an ass called Brownin', and M`Turk reads an ass called Ruskin; and --'

`Ruskin isn't an ass,' said M`Turk. `He's almost as good as the Opium-Eater. He says "we're children of noble races trained by surrounding art." That means me, and the way I decorated the study when you two badgers would have stuck up brackets and Christmas cards. Child of a noble race, trained by surrounding art, stop reading, or I'll shove a pilchard down your neck!'

`It's two to one,' said Stalky warningly, and Beetle closed the book, in obedience to the law under which he and his companions had lived for six checkered years.

The visitors looked on delighted. Number Five study had a reputation for more variegated insanity than the rest of the school put together; and so far as its code allowed friendship with outsiders it was polite and open-hearted to its neighbours on the same landing.

`What rot do you want now?' said Beetle.

`King! War!' said M`Turk, jerking his head toward the wall, where hung a small wooden West-African war- drum, a gift to M`Turk from a naval uncle.

`Then we shall be turned out of the study again,' said Beetle, who loved his flesh-pots. `Mason turned us out for -- just warbling on it.' Mason was that mathematical master who had testified in Common-room.

`Warbling? -- Oh, Lord!' said Abanazar. `We couldn't hear ourselves speak in our study when you played the infernal thing. What's the good of getting turned out of your study, anyhow?'

`We lived in the form-rooms for a week, too,' said Beetle tragically. `And it was beastly cold.'

`Ye-es; but Mason's rooms were filled with rats every day we were out. It took him a week to draw the inference,' said M`Turk. `He loathes rats. 'Minute he let us go back the rats stopped. Mason's a little shy of us now, but there was no evidence.'

`Jolly well there wasn't,' said Stalky, `when I got out on the roof and dropped the beastly things down his chimney. But, look here -- question is, are our characters good enough just now to stand a study row?'

`Never mind mine,' said Beetle. `King swears I haven't any.'

`I'm not thinking of you,' Stalky returned scornfully. `You aren't going up for the Army, you old bat. I don't want to be expelled -- and the Head's getting rather shy of us, too.'

`Rot!' said M`Turk. `The Head never expels except for beastliness or stealing. But I forgot; you and Stalky are thieves -- regular burglars.'

The visitors gasped, but Stalky interpreted the parable with large grins.

`Well, you know, that little beast Manders minor saw Beetle and me hammerin' M`Turk's trunk open in the dormitory when we took his watch last month. Of course Manders sneaked to Mason, and Mason solemnly took it up as a case of theft, to get even with us about the rats.'

`That just put Mason into our giddy hands,' said M`Turk blandly. `We were nice to him, 'cause he was a new master and wanted to win the confidence of the boys. 'Pity he draws inferences, though. Stalky went to his study and pretended to blub, and told Mason he'd lead a new life if Mason would let him off this time, but Mason wouldn't. 'Said it was his duty to report him to the Head.'

`Vindictive swine!' said Beetle. `It was all those rats! Then I blubbed, too, and Stalky confessed that he'd been a thief in regular practice for six years, ever since he came to the school; and that I'd taught him -- à la Fagin. Mason turned white with joy. He thought he had us on toast.'

`Gorgeous! Oh, fids!' said Dick Four. `We never heard of this.'

`Course not. Mason kept it jolly quiet. He wrote down all our statements on impot-paper. There wasn't anything he wouldn't believe,' said Stalky.

`And handed it all up to the Head, with an extempore prayer. It took about forty pages,' said Beetle. `I helped him a lot.'

`And then, you crazy idiots?' said Abanazar.

`Oh, we were sent for; and Stalky asked to have the "depositions" read out, and the Head knocked him spinning into a waste-paper basket. Then he gave us eight cuts apiece -- welters -- for -- for -- takin' unheard- of liberties with a new master. I saw his shoulders shaking when we went out. Do you know,' said Beetle pensively, `that Mason can't look at us now in second lesson without blushing? We three stare at him sometimes till he regularly trickles. He's an awfully sensitive beast.'

`He read Eric; or, Little by Little,' said M`Turk; `so we gave him St. Winifred's; or, The World of School. They spent all their spare stealing at St. Winifred's, when they weren't praying or getting drunk at pubs. Well, that was only a week ago, and the Head's a little bit shy of us. He called it constructive deviltry. Stalky invented it all.'

`'Not the least good having a row with a master unless you can make an ass of him,' said Stalky, extended at ease on the hearth-rug. `If Mason didn't know Number Five -- well, he's learn't, that's all. Now, my dearly beloved 'earers' -- Stalky curled his legs under him and addressed the company -- `we've got that strong, perseverin' man King on our hands. He went miles out of his way to provoke a conflict.' (Here Stalky snapped down the black silk domino and assumed the air of a judge.) `He has oppressed Beetle, M`Turk, and me, privatim et seriatim, one by one, as he could catch us. But now he has insulted Number Five up in the music-room, and in the presence of these -- these ossifers of the Ninety-third, wot look like hair-dressers. Binjimin, we must make him cry "Capivi!" '

Stalky's reading did not include Browning or Ruskin.

`And, besides,' said M`Turk, `he's a Philistine, a basket-hanger. He wears a tartan tie. Ruskin says that any man who wears a tartan tie will, without doubt, be damned everlastingly.'

`Bravo, M`Turk,' cried Tertius; `I thought he was only a beast.'

`He's that, too, of course, but he's worse. He has a china basket with blue ribbons and a pink kitten on it, hung up in his window to grow musk in. You know when I got all that old oak carvin' out of Bideford Church, when they were restoring it (Ruskin says that any man who'll restore a church is an unmitigated sweep), and stuck it up here with glue? Well, King came in and wanted to know whether we'd done it with a fret-saw! Yah! He is the King of basket-hangers!'

Down went M`Turk's inky thumb over an imaginary arena full of bleeding Kings. `Placetne, child of a generous race!' he cried to Beetle.

`Well,' began Beetle doubtfully, `he comes from Balliol, but I'm going to give the beast a chance. You see I can always make him hop with some more poetry. He can't report me to the Head, because it makes him ridiculous. (Stalky's quite right.) But he shall have his chance.'

Lost comments delayed until tonight

Wherein i say nothing

Quotidian Quotables, part 1

Wherein a short survey of interesting

Reason's Hit and Run
Comment by: Phil at January 25, 2006 11:51 AM:
Did some of you get your BA in Missing the Fucking Point?

Poppy Z. Brite
The Sound of Hope Dying:
After a brief spate of hope, it turns out that the Bush administration does not care about us after all. The block grants are not enough, and this plan makes no provision for some of the hardest-hit areas (e.g. most of the Lower Ninth Ward). The Baker bill was one of our biggest and best hopes, and thousands of people in Louisiana, possibly including yours truly, are going to lose their homes because of this imbecilic decision.

Hillary Johnson
Does my ass look fat in these pants?:
Take a picture of your ass in the questionable pants and send it to: howsmyass@gmail.com.

Please don't tell me who you are, this is anonymous. Comments will be moderated to weed out cretins and letches. Now for the fine print: no porn, no g-strings. Full-coverage pants only, please (or trousers if you're a Brit). Photos under 400 x 300 mp might not make it.

Why? Because a) you can't see your own ass, and b) no one you know is going to tell you the truth.

Scott Stevenson
Wired's Leander Kahney is confused:
Bill Gates's PR problems in the technology industry come from foisting low-quality products on an unsuspecting public. No clear-thinking, healthy person will confuse these misdeeds with the issues of the human race. In the same sense, no sane individual will directly compare the merits of Pixar to that of the One Campaign.

Brokeback Top Gun
You can be my wingman any time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Maybe the further exploits of Sangamon Taylor, the Toxic Spiderman?

Wherein I am looking for Neal Stephenson

No word on what, if anything, Neal Stephenson is working on or if books/essays/articles are due at the printer. I'm starting to have withdrawal. Still, searching through newsgroups did turn up the following:
Has there been any news (at all) regarding Stephenson's next novel?

Not that I'm aware of.

Idle speculation: either he's stopped writing for a few years to pursue other interests, or his next book is going to be big, for values of Cryptonomicon scale bigness. (It took him seven years to write the Baroque Cycle. It's already been a couple of years since "The System of the World" came out. Therefore, if he's not taking time out, he's had sufficient time to emit another wrist-breaker.

One thing I will say: On the basis of his interviews and public statements, I have no reason to believe that he next novel will be a slim, 150 page long volume that is free of digressions, curlicues, diverticulae, lacunae, footnotes, appendices (veriform and otherwise), endnotes, illuminating codicils, cryptograms, caveats, perambulations on foot through the Black Forest while meditating upon the impact of 16th century silver-working techniques on biodiversity west of the Urals, gothick embelishments, whoopee cushions, monologues, flights of fancy, barock excrescenses, meditations upon the manifest evils of Livejournal, dialogues upon the nature of True Love meandering betwixt pillar and post while the disputants duel with grenade-carrying carrier pigeons, exploding cigars, maps of uncharted territories, and divers alarums and excursions.

I'd read that.

How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Young Men

Wherein I pass along an interesting conversation

I've been remiss in not passing this along. Readeriam has a wonderful post about her son and how the educational system treats boys. Read the whole thing as there are links to follow for more information.

Short quote:
Our son, despite whatever innate abilities he may have, at age 5 is primarily about being, well, the classic little boy. He's interested in aliens and battles and knights and asteroids and taking things apart (ahem!) to see how they work inside. He's active and wiry and full of energy and very physical (though not particularly athletic, in the team-sport sense) and hands-on. It's not so much that he won't sit still and pay attention for long stretches of time, it's that it's an immense struggle for him to do so. When he succeeds at that struggle, there's not much energy or focus left to do the actual task at hand.

Especially if it bores him (like teddy bears) and he wants to learn about something else (like the 10th planet). Especially if it's coloring, which he's never, ever liked. (Now, drawing--and copying figures and forms out of art books--that he enjoys.) And most especially if it's filling out handwriting sheets to precise letter-forming specifications, which he hates and, understandably, being a boy of his age, struggles over.

I mention the letter-forming specs deliberately, because he has openly asked us--on a number of occasions--why he has to write them in just one way for them to be right, when he sees them in different fonts all the time. (And yes--he knows what a font is--regular readers may recall all of my allusions to him watching me work on the computer too much.) To which we say, "Because the teacher says so; it's just something you have to do." What else can we say?

Affliction bingo

Wherein I repeat old office humor

There was a coworker in an office who had some of the most annoying habits. Loud outbursts, inopportune singing to himself; you'd run into him in the hall and he'd do his odd thing with his arms and shout out one of a handful of pet phrases. Basically, just annoyed everyone. I was convinced he had a mild form of tourettes.

One day, being bored and having internet access, I went to the Tourettes website and copied down a few symptoms. Next I mixed in a few of the coworker's more infamous tics and created a bingo sheet. Forwarded to a couple other coworkers as a little joke and moved on. Time spent, maybe 15 minutes.

Next thing I know, copies have been made and are being used at meetings. People I barely know are stopping me in the halls telling me they had a "bingo." In a couple days it was everywhere. Don't know if the subject in question caught wind of it.

Just in case you have a similar coworker, here's a version I was able to locate and convert to html table (with help - thanks!)

Print your Tourettes Bingo Card

Spits sunflower seeds in cupSays "waz up?"Says "what up dawg?"Says "FANTASTIC!"Makes animal-like noises
SqueakingSnortingYelling or ScreamingWhistlingHumming
Facial GrimacesSmelling ObjectsFREE SPOTCoughingEcho phenomena: own words or sounds; other's words or sounds
SnifflingUnusual changes in pitch or volume of voiceSays somebody's full name by drawing it out unnecessarily longThroat clearingBurping
Give the two thumbs upTouching peopleSays "AWESOME!"Singing with headphones onSays "WooHoo!"

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

How Will and Grace should end

Wherein I reference another final episode

Also canceled, along with West Wing is Will and Grace. Here's how this show should end.

Closing minutes of final episode
Scene: darkened bedroom

Grace (Debra Messing): [Grace wakes up as Stacey from "Ned and Stacey"] I just had had the strangest dream. I just dreamt that I was living with a gay lawyer and working as an interior designer.

Ned Dorsey (Thomas Haden Church): [wakes up, turns the light on] That's it. No more Merlot before bed.
[Turns light off]

Ned Dorsey: [turns light back on, confused] Gay?

Update:mentioned at Toobworld. Thanks!

Open Thread

wherein I'm bored

Entertain me, people.

Update: Open thread is canceled. Everyone should feel embarrassed about their poor effort. No stickers today. Just pitiful.

How West Wing should have ended

Wherein I again try to fix television

West Wing has been canceled. I watch it every week, but feel no sense of loss. I'm with the crowd that says the show has never been the same since Sorkin left. The last couple years have found it to be particularly heavy-handed and simplistic. Yet, I stick around. Why? Probably because I enjoy many of the characters and the actors often rise above the pedestrian writing. Last Sunday's moralizing that nuclear energy is evil and that anyone who disagrees hates children and puppies was not one of those occasions.

I did find that the presidential election story started last season breathed new life in the show. And I'm not talking about Jimmy Smits' Matt Santos. Nope, it was Alan Alda's Californian Republican Arnold Vinick that brought complexity to the show as one of the few characters that recognized the world was a messy place. Also, Vinick had the more interesting staff. Stephen Root and Patricia Richardson were great additions and I think would've made fascinating characters if the show had continued with a Republican admininstration.

Like that would happen. To keep the majority of the current cast, Santos had to win. Shame.

Here's where West Wing missed a brilliant opportunity to explore new storylines and inject new blood while keeping the core of the current cast. Both Matt Santos and Arnie Vinick should've lost their party primaries. Then, recognizing their common interests, combined forces to run as a third party. The show had hinted the two had many complementary views and even respected each other's integrity, and both were party outsiders. This would not have been surprising. Then, when they win, the show can explore the difficulty of a third-party presidency.

I'd make Vinick president and Santos vice, with maybe Josh Lyman as chief of staff. As the show was originally intended to highlight the staff with the president in the background, we can get back to that as the two staffs, formerly Republican and Democratic advocates, now have to find common ground as they fight Congress.

Did I mention this would have been brilliant? Now it's dead, and we await the airing of Sorkin's Sports Night-like take on SNL. Lawrence O'Donnell can go back to work on his throbbing neck veins.

A week after Geronimo Jackson

Wherein people keep staring at me

Two weeks ago, the official Lost podcast mentioned "Geronimo Jackson." I discussed it here. Before last week, I was in the range of 30-50 visits a day, immediately after The Hunting Party aired I finished Wednesday with about 1000 visits, Thursday was close to 5700, and Friday was almost 800. Since then, it's held steady in the 400-500 range. For a few days I was even the #2 result on Google, but have since slipped to the third page.

Begging to Differ also saw a huge increase in traffic and Greg discussed it here.

What can be learned from this? Beats me, but that's no excuse to forego mindless speculation:
  1. Lost is an easter egg show and the viewers enjoy finding and discussing.
  2. That some are a bit overboard in analyzing every single detail. Referring here to the podcast where a questioner asks what it means when a flashback shows peaches with a date of 2005, when that was impossible, since they were already on the island. ANSWER: Continuity error, relax.
  3. That I foresee an inevitable backlash from (a) the casaul viewer feeling increasingly left out; and, (2) the easter egg hunter frustrated that the easter eggs, more often than not, serve very little in the way of plot advancement.

Personally, I've avoided the major discussion sites, wary of too much discussion and spoilers. There are people scrutinizing cast lists for clues and news of who has been hired or fired. Nothing necessarily wrong there, just too much for me. I like the narrative and the character studies and enjoy a conversation based on what's just aired. I even try to avoid the "next week" teasers. Having said that, with all the traffic, I did visit some of the places that were linking to me and did see a theory with popular acclaim:
  • There is still a spy in the group.

The bearded one knows too much about the group and seemed surprised by the mention of Ethan. I think it's Rose. She was just too sure that Bernard was still alive and we have enough mystical people without adding one more.

Just shoot me

Wherein the always funny Partially Clips is funny

Monday, January 23, 2006

Official Lost podcast: 2/23/06

Wherein we learn that the smoke monster did attack the pilot and that we might see some Hurley-burley action; plus a flashback tease that probably serves no purpose other than overloading Google.


Executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse discuss "The Hunting Party," offer exclusive clues, and give a preview of the episode "Fire + Water." Also featured is Part II of an interview with actor Harold Perrineau, who plays Michael.

Carlton: The Hunting Party is a precursor for where the show is going this year. The episode does key up the conflict with [the Others].

Damon: One of the things that's frustrating for us as storytellers is we have these designs and we've known since early in season 2 we'd have this bit with the computer where Walt...where Walt - parentheses, question mark - someone claiming to be Walt at least...would communicate with Michael. And once Michael got back with the fuselage folk, he'd go rogue and go running after Walt.

Carlton: This episode sets in motion the story line "We need to get Walt back." ...Clearly the Walt story will be resolved this season and you will get your answers about what happened to Walt.

Carlton: Viewers watching the show wanting just answers are bound to be frustrated. We hope the character stories will be compelling and we will be providing some answers to question while raising others. But the ongoing nature of mysteries and the fact that the show will be on for a long time means that some questions can't be answered. If we answered those questions, there'd be no core to the show left.

Carlton: We are answering questions this year. You will know a lot more about the others, you will know where Walt has been, what happened to him, among other things, including, hopefully another chapter of Jack's marriage and finish that run of episodes...

Talking about Fire and Water

Damon: It's a Charlie episode. One of the things that the writers hear is "what's going on with Charlie and Claire, what's going on with the Virgin Mary statue." ...This episode is not a big island mythology episode. It's about settling into the core relationships of the show. There's actually a story in Fire and Water featuring Hurley and has a little bit of romance to it. The key relationship here is Charlie and Claire after he lied about what was in the statue. Also interesting is that Claire begins to develop a bit of a relationship with Locke.

Carlton: To go back to your comment about Hurley, I'd say the number one question we get asked is "Why hasn't the fat guy last weight?" I'd just like to let you know that that question will be addressed in the narrative of the show coming up very soon.

Damon: Not THIS show, but very very soon. As a tidbit for the Easter egg hunters, there is a flashback that takes place in London and you will see the London skyline and you might want to check it out very, very carefully. There is an iconic building there that you music fans might recognize....There is some signage there that may pay off for those who are easter egg hunting that you should write down and say "what does this mean?"
My guess - not a damn thing - bill

Answering Questions
Why did the monster attack the pilot, but not Eko and Locke?
Carlton: The monster is discriminating. The monster does not treat everyone equally.

Damon: What's very interesting is that when Locke sees the monster for the second time, it attacks him and tries to drag him down a hole.

Carlton: I think that at that particular moment on time Locke's behavior and attitude may not have been the same as when he was confronted the first time.

Damon: Maybe a little less secure in his faith that he was on the right path.

Carlton: That would be a very good assumption, Damon.

Damon: There are many mysteries about what is beyond that concrete. Whether it is a strong electromagnet or just strong enough to draw keys to it, is something we'll be pealing back the layers of as we approach the finale. I think all be revealed about what is the nature of that wall and whether or not it has a real function. It could be just a hoax.

Carlton: I think we can promise you we will deal with what happens when you don't press that button this season. You'll see more story material about the button and the electromagnetic force field.

Fixing the Olympics

Wherein you begin to learn of the idyllic nature that would be your life in Billszakistan

Problem: too many sports in the Olympics.
Soultion: Eliminate.

I'm shocked. I was sure more events would be eliminated. Apparently, NBC clutters up their programming with what I don't want to see. Considering E.R. is still on, I am not surprised. Is there anything on NBC I watch other than Earl and West Wing? Can't think of anything.

For the winter games, I'm only eliminating 4 2/3 disciplines. For the summer games, I've eliminated 5 disciplines. Scroll down and take a look...notice anything in common? That's right, I am eliminating all nonsport events. Which is not to say these people aren't athletes - they are. Many of them are incredible athletes; but this is about competition and beating your opponent, not performing in front of a judge.

I am tired of the irregularities we often see in judging events like gymnastics, and figure skating, and diving. There is just too much discrepancy to account for honest opinions. What we see is favoritism and nationalism. Not to mention abominations like synchronized swimming and rythmic gymnastics that should be stricken from the face of the earth.

In my Olympics, you win by scoring more points, being more accurate, going faster, farther, higher. In affect, being categorically and undeniably better. There is no waiting for the judges to add points and have their "judgement" clouded by comparing one performer to another. You win. You lose. You go home.

And boxing is just corrupt. If someone can figure out a way to score it fairly, I'll let it back in. I've left judo and Taekwondo in because it is my assumption the scoring is understood and fair. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I love watching ski jumping, always wanted to do it. But it isn't a sport. There are style points involved and if the jumpers start flying too far they start over. Fix it or take it away.

I have left one real sport on the list and that's tennis. An event in the Olympics should be a unique gathering of talent, but what do we have with tennis? Just another professional tour event with with fewer names. Is Olympic tennis much different than watching Wimbledon? I say the competition is the worse for it.

There you go. No judges, just harder, faster, stronger, longer.

Winter Olympics
SKI JUMPING (3 events)
Halfpipe: M | W
PGS: M | W
Snowboard Cross: M | W

ALPINE SKIING (5 events)
BIATHLON (5 events)
BOBSLED (2 events)
ICE HOCKEY (men and women)
SHORT TRACK (4 events)
SKELETON (men and women)
SPEED SKATING (7 events)

Summer Olympic
Synchronized Swimming

24 track and field events
Field Hockey
Modern Pentathlon
Table Tennis
Water Polo

Saturday, January 21, 2006

New blog

Santa Tour

I'm collecting information for a Christmas trip to Finland. I'll be posting travel articles, info about tour companies, and just general travel information, about Finland, Lapland, and Rovaniemi. Definately a single topic blog and I will only update when I find something new.

This started as a need to have a white Christmas, but why stop at a simple ski resort when we could eat reindeer meat 24 hours a day and we can have a personal visit with santa on Christmas eve!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Fish and chips!

Wherein I ask do you prefer tartar sauce or malt vinegar?

A whale is spotted in central London.

Four words that are like fingernails on a chalkboard

Wherein I advocate the outlawing of a pernicious phrase

"Try this thought experiment"

Without fail, whatever follows will almost always be mindless and arrogant and wrong. If you see it, stop reading. Make a note of the author's name and try to skip in the future.

Who uses that phrase? People who are losing an argument.

Why do they use it? Because the sky in their world does not exhibit the same hues as ours and if only our feeble brains can be trained to the proper point of view, then we may see the error of our ways.

Does it ever work? No.

Why do they continue to use it? Because the rules of logic do not apply to them.

What should we do? I recommend castration, followed by a lengthy application of tar and feathers.

What's next? People who cry "Strawman" are getting out of hand and better watch it. Consider yourselves on notice.


Wherein I mention ideas for future posts I probably won't get around to

  1. The Olympics need fixing and I should be the one to do it. First, we take it away from NBC and outlaw all sappy stories of overcoming adversity. You want to know why they're trying to win a gold medal? Because they're A) genetic freaks of nature, and B) train really really hard. But everyone knows that. What I will do is get rid of half the sports.

  2. The Aristocrats is out on DVD next week. I'll probably buy it; I wanted to see it in the theater, but missed it. I'm really not much into the scatalogical humor--watched the "40-year-old Virgin" last week and thought the language was a bit much--but I'm a sucker for comedians talking about comedy. In honor of the release, I might work up my own versions of the aristocrat joke as told by:
    • The cast of Lost
    • The cast of Harry Potter, focussing on the Weasleys
    • Mother Teresa, as told by Christopher Hitchens
    • Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam

Update: I think I have the germ of a brilliant concept. Instead of writing actual posts, I'll write about what I would write about if I ever got around to it. Now that is comedy gold. Just to remind everyone - most of what you see here is for my own amusement.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

On any weekend 20 years ago

Wherein I pretend I am back in Minneapolis

In the 1980s, the Wallets were the best band in the Twin Cities. Better than The Replacements, Husker Du, The Time, and maybe Prince. This band should have been huge, but just never got the big break they needed. Part of the problem is their recordings never captured the infectious groovitude of the live shows.

When I first caught them around 1983, they were like some funky avant garde jazz combo. Jim Clifford smacked the hell of the bass, Erik Anderson was the meanest looking drummer I've ever seen - I think he hit the drums because he didn't like them, Max Ray was the cool saxophonist, and Rod Gordon and Steve Kramer played dueling keyboards. And when they were really rocking, Steve would pull out the accordian. In these early days, many of the songs were like out of control stock car races, each musician flying as fast as he could, slamming up against the wall, but never quite losing control; then they'd all come together in a glorious controlled dance.

They became a bit more new wave in the later years, and at times a bit poetic, but always unique. I think it would be fair to say I saw the Wallets at least 50 times before they finally broke up.

Here's a CD, 17 Songs, that combines their first two albums. They're short samples, so listen to them all. Can't say I have a favorite as they all bring back good memories. Gonzoi Polka and There was an Old Lady are good examples of why I hurried to Duffy's (26th and 26th) on a Friday - that and the 2 for 1 beers until 10pm; also the Wallets would often share the bill with the Urban Guerillas.

Totally Nude got a couple plays on MTV and in the credits for the Talking Heads Naked there's a thanks to the Wallets because the Heads had a song by the same title. How To Keep Time To Music was the flip side of Totally Nude and I thought a superior song.

There's also a video for Body Talk. Not representative of a true concert, but it's a damn good song.

Where are the Wallets now?

Steve Kramer, (vocals, keyboard, accordian):
Partner, Composer, Hest & Kramer (advertising). Fast Channel article

Jim Clifford, (bass):
According to this Mail list from 1999, he's an elementary school teacher.

Max Ray, (Saxophone):
And the same source for Jim Clifford says that "...in addition to playing in his own band with his wife, Rochelle, (and when he isn't fishing,) is also the handyman for my duplex in Minneapolis."

New: the X-boys

Is this Max's and Rochelle's band, Gondwana? yes. I will most likely buy this.

Erik Anderson, Drums:
No news. Though if you wish to hide in plain site, having the name "Erik Anderson" and living in Minnesota is a good start.

Rod Gordon, Keyboards:

Weekly features

Wherein I link to a couple ideas I'll be checking out

You ain't wrong Thursday
A new feature (I'm going to be all about the features) I'll be playing with on this blog is 'You Ain't Wrong Thursday'.

Just a few links to other bloggers who 'Ain't Wrong' (and being 'ain't wrong' won't automatically mean that the commenter is 'right').

Asshole of the week:
So that leaves fantasy sports. Naturally, MLB has decided to discourage fantasy sports by charging a licensing fee. Yes, they are taxing their fans. As if Personal Seating Licenses, municipal stadium initiatives and 8 DOLLAR BUD LIGHTS are not enough. Not only is this greedy, it's stupid, and it will be darn right impossible to enforce. It's almost as if baseball is trying to lose its 'exemption' from the antitrust laws. Of course if drive of all of your customers, the Sherman Act is the least of your worries.

What to do with a problem called success

Wherein I keep talking about Lost

Kim Cosmopolitan ponders:
The comments regarding last night's episode of Lost raise a more macro level question about the show. In the unexpected world where Lost proved to be both a critical and a popular phenomenon, thus eliminating any concern about ratings or cancellation anytime in the foreseeable future, what do you do if you're JJ and the Island Band, busy planning the show's arcs for the season? They pretty much have to slow things down and dole the big events out sparingly, lest they be left with nothing to write about after this season or next.

I think Lost is the very definition of a show that needs a defined expiration date. Sooner or later, they'll have to give concrete resolutions or keep spinning even wilder diversions. Then you're left with two outcomes: a show that collapses from its own weight leaving fans disgruntled and disappointed; or a bunch of people hanging out on a tropical island until the Harlem Globetrotters show up. Cue disgruntled and disappointed.

It seems clear to me that Lost is setting up a large conflict to end this season with probably the fates of a handful of cast members in doubt. But I don't think this conflict is necessarily with the group we met last night. Greg looks at the geography of the island and it looks like the entire Western portion of the island is unknown to us (viewers). I'm speculating that there is another group of island Others and they are much more dangerous than the ones who took Walt. It's probably the group Ethan came from. Our survivors will form an alliance with last night's Others....and then other stuff will happen.

Here's the comment I left at Throwing Things with very broad outlines for the future of the show.
  • fantasy projection #1: Stop the show at the end of season 3. Have them rescued. Happy endings all around, except for the handful killed off for dramatic purposes.
  • fantasy projection #2: Spring sweeps features the big battle. Last episode of season shows a rescue ship on the horizon. Next season the survivors realize they haven't been rescued, but picked up by a new version of the D.H.A.R.M.A. initiative. Lather, rinse, repeat. Basically turns into The Pretender - an interesting idea that loses our interest because it is unable to resolve anything.
  • fantasy projection #3: stuff happens, people die, season ends being rescued. Next season, everyone tries to reenter their old lives. But they're probably being observed and keep having weird flashbacks they don't understand. Rent Jacob's Ladder for plot points.

I think Lost may be popular

So I check my site stats out of curiosity and it says I've had over 1400 visits today. That can't be right. I had a little mini-launch from Reason's Hit and Run last week, but that barely topped 100 visits. Since then I've settled into a very comfortable 40-50 visits a day. Nice and obscure.

So what happened? After last night's Lost episode about every other person on Earth got on the internet to google "Geronimo Jackson," an obscure album from a nonexistent band that grabbed about 3 seconds of air time. I mentioned this here.

And now my stats look this this:

Update: In the comments for the first Geronimo Jackson post this was left:
It's more likely an Alice in Wonderland reference. The two main directors of the 1951 classic were Clyde Geronimi and Wilfred Jackson. It's also worth noting it's not the first AiW reference in Jack-centric episode.

Update 2: It's like a virus. Because not many had mentioned Geronimo Jackson, I was near the top of Google. Begging to Differ also mentioned them, we'd linked to each other, so Google searches hit us both. With that, it gets mentioned at the hot Lost sites. Here's where I have people coming in from:

That's quite a list. As of 12:30pm EST, I've had 2,932 visits and 10,697 page views:

Update 3: At 3:30pm EST, 4,490 visits and 12,879 page views.

Update 4: At 9:15pm EST, 5,597 visits and 7,783 page views. For earlier page views I mistakenly grabbed the overall total, not the daily total. Looks like traffic is slowing down so I'll probably top out at a little over 6,000 visits for the day. Not bad. Unfortunately (or fortunately), as not a lot of them clicked through to the rest of So Quoted, not a lot of stickiness, either. Traffic should be back to normal in a few days.

Lost: The Hunting Party

Wherein Jack tries my patience and I wish someone would push him off a cliff

"From the dawn of our species, Man has been blessed with curiosity. Our most precious gift, without exception, is the desire to know more - to look beyond what is accepted as the truth and to imagine what is possible.” Alvar Hanso, Address to the U.N. Security Council, 1967

"Michael won't find us." What does that mean? Did they not lure him out or not? Is he dead, lost? Zeke knows everyone's names, is the hatch bugged? Was Desmond a plant? If not, seems like The Others should have known about the hatch.

Sayid moment - Halfway thru filming someone realized Sayid wasn't in the script. After sobering up a scriptwriter and dragging Naveen off the beach, we have two lines of pointless dialogue. High Five everybody.

I would love to see Daniel Dae Kim nominated for an Emmy. There are a couple fine actors on the show, but I don't think anyone else could do as much as he does with so little.

Love Hurley. Hurley is great. And I'm wondering if the Hurley-love took the producers by surprise and that character became larger than intended. Is it Lilly? I going with she was a therapist (but not an analrapist), at the loony bin Hurley did his time.

And are we supposed to feel sympathetic towards Jack? Because he's my top nominee for an Arzt moment. Want to train an army, who should Jack choose?

1. Sayid - the guy who was in an army and has demonstrated survival skills?
2. Locke - Sure, he can be a bit creepy, but he knows weapons, has shown he can train people, and is probably the one survivor who could survive on the island alone?
3. Ana Lucia - she's been with the group 4 days(?) after killing another survivor. But she was a cop and Jack, pissed off at Kate, needs to focus his whiny maleness towards someone.
Let me quote myself, from Season 2, Episode 4:
If this was a real situation, I suspect Sayid and Locke would emerge as the leaders and everything would be organized and all would have tasks to keep them busy and prepare for survival. Jack would be made to sit quietly in his first aid tent waiting to fix boo-boos.

Bah, I say. Bah. Worst show EVAR? Pretty close.

Finally set up conflict with The Others. I speculated at the beginning of the season that we would see this season culminate in a battle royale with The Others. That's finally set in motion. I also predicted a leadership struggle between Locke and Jack. That could still happen and maybe with the survivors having to choose between the emotional hotheads Jack and Ana Lucia or the calmer and rational Locke and Sayid, we'll get there.

Here's one thing I like about this show. Locke is supposed to be the man of faith and Jack the man of science. Yet Jack is the more impulsive one prone to acts of irrationality and Locke is the more pragmatic one.

Still no definate answer on how many groups are on the island. I'll assume all the plane survivors are together. We have The Others who have Walt. But are these the same ones who picked off the tailenders? And did Zeke seem surprised by the Ethan mention? Based on the opening quote, I'll speculate that The Others we met last night are original scientists from the Dharma project. Let's list who we know is on the island:
  1. Plane survivors
  2. Crazy French Lady
  3. Desmond
  4. The Others who have Walt (Dharma survivors)

I think it's possible that we will learn that the island has more than one group of The Others. Possibilities include:
  1. Others who kidnapped tailenders
  2. Others that Ethan was with

I'll need to stew on this for a couple days, but I'm expecting that the plane survivors will need to form an alliance with a group of The Others and fight off the group of truly dangerous The Others.

Off the cuff thoughts, I'll tweak and add as necessary. As always, I'll list my two favorite spots for Lost conversation:

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Notes from the Lost podcast, The Hunting Party

Wherein I practice the lost art of transcription

Michael goes off the deep end and we're teased with the possibility that he shoots the computer. Is Michael talking to Walt on the computer? Four possibilities:
  1. Yes, but least likely
  2. Yes, but Walt is controlled by The Others
  3. No, it's The Others pretending to be Walt
  4. No, Michael is insane and no one is on the computer

I was leaning towards #4, but think we'll find #2 or #3 to be the correct answer. Whatever the answer, Michael goes loco and the previews tease interaction with another group of island people.

Huh? Talking of last week's episode:
One of the things we wanted to do on that episode was answer the question about the plane.

No you didn't. You explained why the heroin was on the plane, why the passengers were wearing priest garments, but in no way did you explain how the plane got from Nigeria to an island in the South Pacific. Moving on...

About the monster and the flashes:
The thing that all the flashes had in common was they seemed to be moments from Mr. Eko's life. Some of which we might not have even seen yet. So I don't know what I would intuit by the way the monster was sort of the ethernet connection to his emotions. Was in some way downloading his fears and anxieties. And analyzing them. And then somehow able not to attack him based on the fact that Eko didn't seem particularly afraid of it. Which might explain why Locke was not savaged by the monster.

I would put a lot of credence to that speculation. The monster might be reacting to certain aspects of the character it's facing.

Tonight will explain why Jack is no longer married to Sara and what happened. We'll get some of it, not all.

More from the Q&A.
  • The Dharma iniative logo is on the shark
  • Dharma is an anacronym, not an anagram
  • will we learn more about survivors we haven't met?Maybe, to paraphrase their answer

Previously, in the Friends post, Pooh asked me to reveal how Lost would end. After tonight's episode I'll try to catalog some of the unanswered questions and try to devine a path towards the end. At the end of Season 1 I expected this season to be a leadership struggle between Jack and Locke and that hasn't happened.

Love Monkey worth watching again

Wherein I find enough to like about Love Monkey

As said earlier, I expressed an interest in Love Monkey. It exceeded my expectations. I could easily see this falling off the cliff into cloying sentimentality or annoying cliches, but for a premier it did a decent job of setting up the premise and the characters.

Thomas Cavanagh (Ed) plays Tom, an A&R guy for a big time record company also dating the "perfect" woman--i.e., one not interested in marriage. When he gives a rousing speech explaining they should be about good music, not money, he is fired. When his girlfriend reveals an interest in permanence, he is dumped. Not a bad start, establish the character by turning his world upside down and we'll learn who he is by how he later adapts.

The casts of friends is also reasonably sketched out. He has three main male friends and we'll often see the four of them drinking at the bar or playing playground basketball discussing male/female differences. Two of the friends are single and talk a big game. The third, played by a very old looking Jason Priestly, is happily married to Tom's sister (The sister is pregnant and here I must mention the baby shower - they had a bartender). One of the closing teasers revealed that one of the friends, the ex-ball player is gay. No one knows this.

Probably my favorite early character is Judy Greer's Brandy. She's Tom's best girl friend, but not a girlfriend. She's Tom's voice of reason. She's also the unrequited love interest that is practically a requirement in this type of series. Hinted at, but never expressed, is that she's probably in love with Tom and is waiting for Tom to grow up and realize he's also in love with his best friend. The nice thing is, the two of them work well together so this wouldn't be an annoying pairing. I'm thinking Brandy could find someone else and this will wake Tom up to his real interest. Does this sound too much like what Ed was doing, or is it a generic enough of a concept?

I enjoyed the writing, the dialog was witty and not excessively forced, and it had pleasant moments when a cheap laugh would've been easier.

One criticism is that I think it relies too much on the narrator track. This trick has become popular with shows and, frankly, only little Opie Cunningham with Arrested Development has done it justice.

Final thought on the first Love Monkey: I'll watch it again.

The Blues Brothers

Wherein I give the only answer that matters

Pooh, by way of LGM asks:
You have to explain America to someone from not here, but you can only use ten movies to do it. Which ten do you choose?

The idea is not to give them a history lesson, so you don't have to start with The New World and end with Jarhead.

What you're trying to do is give them a sense of who we are---your take on our dreams, our attitudes, our idioms, what we think we are, what we are afraid we are, what we really might be.

Crap. Don't you hate it when, for years, you've had the same idea as someone else, but they put it out first? I've emailed and discussed versions of this for years, but did I write it up when I started this stupid blog? Noooo.

If I were to explain America in ten movies I don't care what numbers two through ten are. The only movie that matters is number one: The Blues Brothers.

One of the all-time great American movies and vastly underappreciated. It's the best overview of American culture: car crashes, blues, car crashes, country AND Western, car crashes, religion, car crashes, road trips, 4 fried chickens and a coke, car crashes, hammond organs, rooting for the underdog, car crashes, electric guitars, car crashes, disregard for authority, car crashes, eternal optimism in the face of overwhelming odds, car crashes, hating nazis, car crashes, you know - for the kids, and car crashes.

You go have your big long film festival on the American Id; we'll be over here in the land of a 1000 dances having a beer and some fried food.

A journey through frequently read websites

Wherein I practice the lost art of cut and paste

The James Lileks Bleat
By Ogdard’s girth, it’s cold!

(Got that from the Random Thor Oath Generator. There is no Norse god named Ogdard; sounds like Osgard's hapless twin brother.) (Note: there is no such thing as the Random Thor Oath Generator. But there should be.) (Sigh. Now checking the interwebs to make sure there isn’t.) (By Gromnar’s Fistula, I find the results lacking! Someone get on this right away. A need goes unfilled? In this day and age?)

The Brian Tiemann Peeve Farm
But what can Apple do? AppleWorks belongs to the earlier era of Mac app design, where Apple made defeatured, not-very-compatible equivalents to well-established programs that would otherwise cost lots of money (or that weren't available on the Mac). AppleWorks was specifically meant to give people a low-cost alternative to Office, one that didn't necessarily have great file-format compatibility and far less than anyone could consider feature parity, but at least it let people write term papers and do their rotisserie stats. But it's old, it's decrepit, and it has no future on Mac OS X—and it's being left out of the Intel Mac game altogether, it seems.

The Something Old Something New
I know I'm not the first person to notice this, but the Golden Globes have become far more entertaining than the Academy Awards.

The A List of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago
A lifesaver to many of us in the hinterlands, the mini-market chain Trader Joe's will be invading Manhattan in just a few months.

A list of all the Trader Joe's products I find essential would take an essay, but let me single out one -- that frozen marinated rack of lamb kicks ass, and comes out perfectly every time.

The Either End of the Curve
"I Just Like To Impress The Ladies A Lot"
My son, explaining why he insists on applying deodorant and aftershave after his bath.

He added: "That's an important technique to know, Mom, don't you know that?"

His 6th birthday isn't until June.

The Amy Alkon
It's My Life, I'll Take It If I Want To
Or hire somebody to take it for me. Because it's mine, and I get to decide what gets done with it, same as I get to decide what gets done with my pen or my desk or my iPod.

The Photodude
But let’s assume Iran acquires nuclear weapons by early 2009. What then?
  • The Couch Spectator Solution...
  • The “Don’t Make Us Spank You” Solution...
  • The “No More Fondue Forks For You” Solution...
  • The “Look Away and Let The Israelis Do It” Solution...

The Vodkapundit
Tehran took over the American Embassy – an act of war - in 1979, and President Carter quickly responded months later with a half-assed military operation which failed completely. Three years later, Iran's proxies in Lebanon killed hundreds of Marines, and President Reagan responded by forcefully withdrawing the survivors back to the homeland. When the first President Bush was presented a golden opportunity to depose a Middle East dictator, he instead sold out the future (and Iraq's Kurds and Shiites) to the brutal status quo. Faced with 18 dead American soldiers in Somalia, President Clinton, taking his cue from Reagan*, caved in.

The Waiter Rant
I’m being paranoid you say? This sounds like complete bullshit? Au contraire! There’s a place in Manhattan where, if you order a glass of soda with no ice, you’re charged more money! That’s right folks! This place makes you pay for the extra volume the ice would normally occupy. Next thing you know they’ll be charging for ice on the side too.

The Matt Welch
From my admittedly cranky perspective, Bush/Cheney are lousy on the Bill of Rights, Clinton/Gore were lousy on the Bill of Rights, and everyone within bribing distance of the 2008 election (Hillary, McCain, Giuliani) are lousy on the Bill of Rights, too.

The The World According to Pooh
1. Contact 2. Office Space/Fight Club 3. ...and Justice for All 4. Dirty Harry 5. Reality Bites 6. The Big Chill 7. Miracle/Hoosiers 8. 8 Mile/Walk the Line/Ray 9. Do the Right Thing 10. Wall Street.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

many questions pondered

Wherein I am sympathetic to random thoughts caused by a long car ride

Francesco Marciuliano asks many questions. Here are just two:
  • Does Delaware have so many toll stops because of a crippling infrastructure or because they know that no one is actually going to stop in the state and spend money?
  • Did Jesus ever let a roofing job go unfinished for several months or was he one of the more reliable carpenters?

More Harry Potter fan obscenery

Wherein I link to links

Most works of literature are ignored, some are enjoyed, a rare few are savored, and every now and then there's the special book that causes a special kind of pychosis. Catcher in the Rye is a favorite with murdering loons.

Harry Potter causes a more general, usually less harmful, kind of freak. The publication of The Half-Blood Prince was a tipping point and more than a few people noticed. Following are two sites that recorded some of the more egregious actions.

Probably the most famous example was the freak who spazzed out when a baby won a costume contest instead of her. I feared it had disappeared forever. Ha! The internet always wins. There is a page dedicated to documenting the Childless Freak Hardcore community and the Harry Potter meltdown in particular. Read the whole thing. Here's a small quote:
I'm so pissed about this, sorry. It's just that in ten years time, this kid won't remember what she was doing on July 16th 2005. In ten years time, I will be remembering how I was deprived of this nerdly honor by an opportunistic twat breeder and her shitling. I'm hurt. All my life, nothing has gotten to me more than being deliberately ignored, or passed over. Honestly; that's the sort of thing that can make me cry in public. Or key your car. Or viciously murder you and your family in the heat of frustration and never-ending denial Congratulations breeders, you win.

Another show with voiceover narration

Wherein I find a show I'll watch if I'm up and the power isn't out

Tim Goodman at the San Francisco Chronicle has good words for the new CBS show, Love Monkey (Tuesdays, 10pm EST):
So you've got the Cavanagh factor, good writing, cynicism in the one-liners and a love of top-shelf music, which gives it that "High Fidelity" cachet. There's a rich visual style in "Love Monkey," attacking New York from fresh angles. But this is ultimately a grown-up series about music and the passion it inspires. Yes, it's a what-am-I-doing-with-my-life tale of discovery and also features a commitment-phobe looking for sex in New York, but the music is the core, and CBS has apparently cleared quite a bit of good music.

I am interested, which surprises me. First, the "High Fidelity" comparison should scare me off. I haven't read the book, but found the movie to be very unpleasant.I've never quite been able to put my finger on it, there was just something very unlikeable about the John Cusack character.

Second, it's also being called a male "Sex in the City." Not having seen "Sex in the City" and having no real interest in seeing it. This doesn't help.

Third, it stars Tom Cavanagh from "Ed." Another show that never worked for me and Cavanagh never did anything to interest me.

Fourth, Jason Priestly.

But I did say I'm interested and for that I can blame Tim Goodman. He's become one of my favorite TV reviewers and I trust his opinion. While there are differences of taste, we line up enough for me to give this show a shot. I doubt there's anything else on I'm watching.