Saturday, December 26, 2009

A decade: books I enjoyed

Wherein huh

2001: Ken Layne, DOT.CON; Peter Reinhart, The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread

2002: Po Bronson, What Should I Do With My Life? ; John Frederick Walker, A Certain Curve of Horn: The Hundred-Year Quest for the Giant Sable Antelope of Angola

2003 Michael Lewis, Moneyball

2004: Christopher Buckley, Florence of Arabia; Barbara Feinberg, Welcome to the Lizard Motel: Children, Stories, and the Mystery of Making Things Up

2005: Daniel Coyle, Lance Armstrong's War; Wendy Moore, The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching, and the Birth of Modern Surgery; Sarah Vowell, Assassination Vacation

2006: Jason Bardi, The Calculus Wars: Newton, Leibniz, and the Greatest Mathematical Clash of All Time Frank Portman, King Dork

2007: Chris Rose, 1 Dead in Attic

2009: Nick Hornby, Juliet, Naked; Louis Maistros, The Sound of Building Coffins

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A decade: tv shows I enjoyed

Wherein by debut year This looks pretty close though I'm sure I'm missing a couple

2000: Malcolm in the Middle, Coupling (UK version, seasons 1-3; definitely not season 4)

2001: Samurai Jack, Pardon the Interruption, The Bernie Mac Show

2002: Firefly

2003: Mythbusters, Two and a Half Men, Arrested Development, Joan of Arcadia

2004: Lost

2005: Rock Star: INXS, Deadliest Catch, The Colbert Report

2006: Love Monkey, Thief, 30 Rock

2007: The Riches, Big Bang Theory, Chuck, Reaper, Life, Pushing Daisies

2008: Life On Mars

2009Better Off Ted, Kings, Castle, Parks & Recreation, Glee, Community, Modern Family, White Collar

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry gravmas to all

Wherein the explanation for that mentioned above in the title

1. Including Marley, four

2. Cupid

3. Pittsburgh

4. Dreidel

5. Little Drummer Boy

6. Double-Double, animal style

7. Shoot out in a tree lot

Friday, December 18, 2009

A decade: music I enjoyed

Wherein If a couple of these are off it's because I'm using the year listed in my iTunes catalog without verifying

2000: John Wesley Harding, Confessions of St. Ace; Laura Love, Fourteen Days; Sinéad O'Connor, Faith and Courage; Zap Mama, Seven; Kirsty MacColl, Tropical Brainstorm

2001: Loudon Wainwright III, Last Man on Earth; Nikka Costa, Everybody Got Their Something; Poets Of Rhythm, Discern/Define; Shirley Bassey, The Remix Album; Tori Amos, Strange Little Girls

2002: Badly Drawn Boy, About a Boy; Gordon Gano, Hitting the Ground; Paul Westerberg, Stereo; Peter Wolf, Sleepless; Prudence Johnson, Moon Country; Robyn Hitchcock, Robyn Sings; Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Dap-Dippin' With…; Whitefield Brothers, In the Raw

2003: Grandpaboy, Dead Man Shake; soundtrack, Wicked; Laura Love, Welcome to Pagan Place; soundtrack, The Triplets of Belleville; Paul Westerberg, Come Feel Me Tremble; Petty Booka, Let's Talk Dirty in Hawaiian; Richard Thompson, 1000 Years of Popular Music; Trailer Bride, Hope is a Thing With Feathers; Voodoolulu, meooow Royale

2004: Har Mar Superstar, The Handler; k.d. lang, Hymns Of The 49th Parallel; The Muffs, Really Really Happy; Patrice Pike, Live at the Brushwood Lounge; Paul Westerberg, Folker; PJ Harvey, Uh Huh Her; Tangle Eye, Alan Lomax's Southern Journey Remixed

2005: Jack Johnson, In Between Dreams; Mike Doughty, Haughty Melodic

2006: Amy Winehouse, Back to Black; Bootsy Collins, Christmas is 4 Ever; The Little Willies, The Little Willies

2007: John Doe, A Year in the Wilderness; Paul Cebar, Tommorow Sound Now for Yes Music People; Rickie Lee Jones, The Sermon On Exposition Boulevard

2008: Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet, Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet; Bob Mould, District Line; Windmill, Puddle City Racing Lights

2009: Mike Doughty, Sad Man Happy Man; Neko Case, Middle Cyclone; Robyn Hitchcock, Goodnight Oslo; Wendy & Lisa, White Flags of Winter Chimneys; John Wesley Harding, Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead; Pomplamoose

And I want Hurley to be happy

Wherein three TV critics sitting around talking about TV

For the first section, most of the conversation is about Lost. I'm agreeing with Sepinwall in hoping that Desmond, Penny, and baby Charlie make it to the end. And Hurley. He's the only original castaway I care about.

Ryan: What do you guys personally want out of the last season?

Poniewozik: Honestly, I don’t know if there’s anything that I particularly want. I want to be entertained and impressed. And I want to have some sense of why the island is important and why it was necessary that they all be there, if it was necessary that they all be there.

I don’t necessarily need all the parts of that to add up. It’s not like there’s an outcome that I’m rooting for. I’d love to be surprised.

Sepinwall: There’s one outcome I am rooting for, and that is Desmond, Penny and baby Charlie have to be OK. If they [expletive] with them, I’m not going to be happy and that’s the only area. But beyond that…

Ryan: Yeah, I think I'm with you there. I think they probably know they cannot break our hearts with that. If they do, they will be dead.

Sepinwall: And I would like to know what Smokey is. They’ve teased that out so much that if they don’t answer that -- that I think would be disappointing.

Poniewozik: It’s funny that the thing that you guys come to is Desmond and Penny and little Charlie. And not Kate and Jack and Sawyer, for instance. [But] some people have this idea that, for a show like this to be any good, should know exactly what it’s going to do from the beginning. You know -- have a map and follow the map militarily to the end.

And the fact is, it’s like a novel, it’s like writing and developing anything else, it's like making a movie -- if it doesn’t happen organically, if it doesn't come out of the characters, who are human beings and will surprise you and take you places that you didn’t expect to when it started out, it’s going to be [crap]. And therefore, [the show] has to allow for the possibility that things that the creators thought were going to happen in Season 1 just end up not happening at all. And some character who is down a hole at the beginning of the second season ends up having the relationship that is cared about most at the end.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A decade: movies I enjoyed

Wherein for a better attempt go here and here and here and 2003-2009 still to be done his list of lists

I'd watch these again.

2000: Bring it One, Chicken Run, Miss Congeniality, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Shanghai Noon, Unbreakable, Wonder Boys

2001: Bubble Boy, Enemy at the Gates, A Knight's Tale, Fellowship of the Ring, Moulin Rouge, Shaolin Soccer, Shrek

2002: About a Boy, Bend it Like Beckham, Bubba Ho-Tep, Drumline, The Two Towers, Orange County, The Rookie

2003: The Core, Elf, Kill Bill Vol 1, Return of the King, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

2004: Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, The Incredibles, Kill Bill Vol. 2, Mean Girls, Mr. 3000, National Treasure, Riding Giants

2005: The Aristocrats, King Kong, Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, The Matador, Nanny McPhee, Sin City, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

2006: Stick It, The Illusionist, Stranger Than Fiction, Casino Royale, Thank You For Smoking

2007: No Country for Old Men, Shrek the Third, Stardust, Surf's Up

2008: Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Frost/Nixon, Slumdog Millionaire, Tropic Thunder, WALL-E

2009: Bandslam, Inglourious Basterds, looking forward to Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Sherlock Holmes

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ten more days

Wherein it's been very foggy the last few days

  1. I'll guess Steve Martin and someone else

  2. The "Hunt For Red October" guy. Because...because I was thinking the CIA was in Langdon, VA, but instead it's in Langley, VA. I have no answer.

  3. Didn't know. Of course there's a wiki page for this. I thought Cuba would be on this. I guess since the U.S. "leases" Guantanamo then it's not technically divided.

  4. no idea.

  5. Is the monster Cerberus? Is it cervix?

  6. Drowning

  7. not even going to attempt this one

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gretchen Rubin doesn't understand lists

Wherein everything that follow is extremely boring Extremely

Take a look at Gretchen Rubin's Eight Tips to Know If You're Being Boring. Having read a few of her previous articles and become highly annoyed by her uber-extroverted approach to happiness, I guessed I'd nail at least six items on her boring list. Unfortunately, this list was so poorly written I had to redo it.

Maybe a quick review of lists would help. First, from Read Me First! A Style Guide for the Computer Industry:
Lists are used to extract information from the paragraph format and to structure the information into an easier-to-read format....You do not want the reader to confuse a list with steps, which denote actions....Use [bulleted] lists when the entries are not dependent on the sequence in which you present them....make the list items parallel....Make sure that the items in a bulleted list are similar in value

And from the Chicago Manual of Style:
All items in a list should be syntactically alike....

The first problem is this is not something that needs to be structured in a list. These are eight paragraphs with introductory headers. Or they could be paragraphs if she took the time and care to treat them equally. Her #1 is two sentences stating "this is boring." Her #5 is a journal of personal reflection concerning some anecdote about something while she scoffs her feet and stammers a bunch of "I suspect," and "In general," along with a "probably" and a "maybe." Also, if we can restructure these as paragraphs then we can do away with discussing whether there's a need to number them or does a bulleted list make more sense.

With that out of the way, the main problem is the lack of structure of the headings. Whether numbered, bulleted, in a table, or even chapter headings, parallel construction goes a long way towards keeping the reader focused on your message. Take the first two:
  • Repeated,perfunctory responses
  • Simple questions

We can probably figure out where she's going, but a more helpful, and parallel structure would be:
  • Repeating perfunctory responses
  • Asking simple questions

Isn't that better? Now you know the offense and if you want more detail you can read further.

Now based on the introduction I'm expecting eight boring behaviors that are followed by an explanation for each. In a glancing fashion, skipping most context, I should be able to cruise through the topics -- yes, no, no, yes -- and come up with a score. Even in the original and uncorrected form, the first two work this way. Then there's third and fourth:
  • Interruption
  • Request for clarification

Because the first two were examples of being boring, I'm expecting the same here. I can understand interrupting but asking for clarification is being boring? Turns out that's not what she means. Rubin "thinks" interrupting is a good sign and that an interested person will ask for additional information. Fixing,
  • Repeating perfunctory responses
  • Asking simple questions
  • Not interrupting
  • Not asking for clarification

I have created a parallel construction problem by starting the first two with gerunds and the next two without, but at least the logical agreement is correct. Once we get all eight pointing in the same direction, then we can get down to nit-picking.

Numbers five, six, seven, and eight are also vague. However, "imbalance" offers even less of a clue where Rubin is going. Since I was burned by assuming that interrupting was bad, I'm not guess on what she thinks of talking time. Changing it to "Talking too much" would be a huge help.

Skipping ahead, here's my first draft rewrite.
  1. Repeating perfunctory responses
  2. Asking simple questions
  3. Not interrupting
  4. Not asking for clarification
  5. Talking too much
  6. Abruptly changing topics
  7. Leaning
  8. Slouching

Basically this boils down to displaying a lack of enthusiasm, failure to act interested, and assuming a posture of someone trying to escape. Again, Rubin is assuming the tyranny of the extroverted is pleasant behavior. These aren't signs that you are boring, they're signs you're doing a poor job covering up that you find your chit-chat partner to be boring. Relax, it's their fault, not yours. Of course a large part of social interaction is pretending you care, but that can be another ill-thought out list.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

How can you tell the difference between a Finnish introvert and a Finnish extrovert?

Wherein When he's talking to you a Finnish introvert looks at his feet. A Finnish extrovert looks at yours!
  1. Finnish
  2. Ohio. Ooh, missed by just this much.
  3. no guess. Oh, perhaps if we'd gone to that exhibit at the High museum I would have known this.
  4. Clap for the wolfman, or just shoot him with a silver bullet
  5. slate
  6. Mahalia Jackson
  7. DK. I did learn the Vatican bank's ATM has instructions in Latin.


Bonus trivia: Here's a wiki category, Television shows set in the United States. According to these lists, there are three states that have never been the setting for a TV show. Can you name them?
Part II: That leaves 47 other states. How many of them can you place a show in? No points will be awarded, this is for your own enjoyment.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Songs of an ecumenical nature

Where I have no idea why I own a World Party CD

Aids and Amageddon, Fishbone 
Angel, Eurythmics
Angel, Jack Johnson
Angel, Chaka Khan
Angel, Kirsty MacColl
Angel From Montgomery, John Prine
Angel Man, Joan Armatrading
Angel of Harlem, U2
Angels, David Byrne
Are You Drinkin' With Me Jesus, Mojo Nixon
Armagideon Time, The Clash
The Angels Sang, Solitaires
Beat Angels, Rickie Lee Jones
Black Angels, Kronos Quartet
Blind Faith, Levellers
Blue Heaven Rendezvous, Jimmy Buffet
Boys From the County Hell, The Pogues
Calling All Angels, Jane Siberry & K.D. Lang
Children's Prayer, Disneyland Boys Choir
Church Bells May Ring, The Willows
Church On Sunday, Flip Wilson
Christianity, Bill Hicks
Christianity, Wolfgang Press
Christians I Hate 'Em, Mojo Nixon
Closer to God, Kirsty MacCall
Come to Jesus, Audra McDonald
Creatures of Little Faith, Ray Davies
Dear God, Fishbone
Devil or Angel, The Clovers
Dr. Laura Who Made You God, Mojo Nixon
Don't Pass Your Judgement, Memphis Nomads
Earth Angel, The Penguins
Every Night's a Friday Night (In Hell), The Suburbs
Fairy Godmother Song, Jennifer Saunders
Faith of Our Fathers, Bing Crosby
Faith Salons, Brenda Kahn
Five O'Clock Angel, Peter Wolf
Gee Angel, Sugar
Get Me to the Church on Time, My Fair Lady soundtrack
God, John Lennon
God, Tori Amos
God Blasts the Queen, Urban Dance Squad
God Cries, Zuzu's Petals
God Don't Own a Car, Jimmy Buffett
God Lives Upstairs, John Wesley Harding
God Loves a Drunk, Richard Thompson
God On My Side, World Party
Dog Part II, U2
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Andre Previn, etc.
God Said, Mary's Danish
Grace of God Go I, Flogging Molly
Hang On St. Christopher, Tom Waits
Heaven, Joan Armatrading
Heaven, Talking Heads
Heaven, Tangle Eye
Heaven, Until December
Heaven and Paradise, Don Julian & the Meadowlarks
Heaven on Earth, Two Nice Girls
Heaven On Their Minds, Jesus Christ Superstar (Indigo Girls version)
Hell Hound On My Trail, Robert Johnson
Hell of a Hat, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Hellflower, Mary's Danish
Hello God, Dolly Parton
Her New Church, Paul Cebar
Hills of Shiloh/Faithless Love, Bernadette Peters
Hold to Gold's Unchanging Hand, Ima Thomas
Honky Tonk Angels' Medleu, k.d. lang
How Great Our Lord, Randy Newman
Hymn to Her, The Pretenders
Hymn to Love, Edith Piaf
The Host of Seraphim, Dead Can Dance
I Don't Want to Bring Your Gods Down, Terence Trent D'Arby
I Have Faith in These Desolate Times, Terence Trent D'Arby
I Want to be in the Land of Milk and Honey, Vicki Anderson
If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day, Robert Johnson
If I Should Fall From Grace With God, The Pogues
I'll Always Have Faith In You, Carla Thomas
I'm No Angel, Dido
In God's Country, U2
In Heaven There is no Beer, Frankie Yankovic
Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile), Dexy's Midnight Runners
Jesus, Second City
Jesus and Mary, Martha Wainwright
Jesus and the House is Empty, Julia Sweeney
Jesus at McDonalds, Mojo Nixon
Jesus is the Only Answer, Bela Fleck
Jesus Walking On the Water, Violent Femmes
Jesus Wrote a Blank Check, Cake
Junkie's Prayer, Fishbone
Kiss Me Song of God, They Might Be Giants
Last Hymn, Gavin Bryars
Leave Heaven Alone, Exene Cervenka
Like a Prayer, Madonna
Living God, Bill Hicks
Lookin' Up In Heaven, Paul Westerberg
Lord Only Knows, Beck
Lord's Prayer, Second City
The Lord's Prayer, Barbra Streisand
The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow, Kay Robinson
Merciful God, The Roches
My Favorite Angel, John Wesley Harding
My Lover's Prayer, Otis Redding
My Prayer, The Platters
Nunsense, Julia Sweeney
O, Doctor Jesus, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
Oh Lord, Don't Let Them Drop That Atom Bomb On Me, Charles Mingus
Pennies From Heaven, Mandy Patinkin
Personal Jesus, Depeche Mode
Pray No More, Momma Stud
Pray to the Junkiemaker, Fishbone
Prayer For Demo, Urban Dance Squad
Prayer of Love, Subdudes
Prayer of the Comfort Counselor, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Cast Album
Praying Hands, DEVO
Pretty Little Angel Eyes, Curtis Lee and the Halos
Rebel Jesus, Kate & Anna McGarrigle
Road to Emmaus, Rickie Lee Jones
Running on Faith, Bernadette Peters
The Secret Angel, John Wesley Harding
Seventh Heaven, Peter Wolf
Sex Goddess of the Western Hemisphere, Maggie Estep
She's an Angel, They Might Be Giants
Show Me Heaven, Maria McKee
Snowball in Hell, They Might Be Giants
So What If I Saw Jesus, Brenda Kahn
Sojourner's Battle Hymn
St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast, Frank Zappa
St. Judy's Comet, Paul Simon
St. Patty's Polka Medley, Jimmy Sturr
Stairway To Heaven, Dolly Parton
Straight to Hell, The Clash
Talking to My Angel, Melissa Etheridge
The Tao of Heaven, Rick Springfield
Thank God It's Christmas, Queen
Thank You for Sending Me an Angel, Talking Heads
Thank You Lord For Sending Me the F Train, Mike Doughty
There Must Be An Angel, Eurythmics
This Jesus Must Die, Jesus Christ Superstar
Venus is Hell/Overlords, Stan Ridgway
Waiting at the Church, Richard Thompson
When Did You Leave Heaven?, Diane Schuur
Where the Hell's My Money?, Mojo Nixon
With God On Our Side, Wire Train
Ye Sleeping Knights of Jesus, Robyn Hitchcock
Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore, John Prine

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

I haven't demanded it, I'm just vaguely compelled to open email every Tuesday and guess. If it stopped coming I'd quickly adjust.

Wherein never been to Turner Field because I have no interest in the Braves and never much cared for National League teams

  1. Rough Riders. Also a great song by The English Beat, but had nothing to do with Teddy Roosevelt.
  2. The number of Hank Aaron's home runs, which is ~756?
  3. Pak/Afghan istan
  4. The Moon
  5. Drawing a blank and I should be all over 1984 sci-fi films. David Lynch played a large pile of sand? Ah, scrolling here, the answer was obvious once I got to S. That movie sucked.
  6. Eff Mr. Blackwell and the people who paid attention to him. If you know the answer to this your soul is less full than it could have been. I do not know, though based on "beehive" I will guess Amy Winehouse. My soul remains intact.
  7. I've read Flatland, The Hobbit, and The Little Prince. They're all journeys...and I have nothing. Researching thru wiki I've uncovered the answer. Authors did more than write.