Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Coping with Infoglut

So, I'm going to have to scale back a bit on HDF for a little while. Not like I'm all that diligent about posting anyway, but now I have a legitimate reason. Since I started continuing my organized education seriously for the first time in almost a decade, I've been, well, freaking the fuck out over the workload I've put on myself. Sure, it's the teachers that assign it, but I'm the one who decided to take so many classes.

Anyway, as I start to process the amount of work on my table, I realized that the time I usually spend dicking around on the internet and observing will now be spent eating, sleeping, and trying to go to the gym. Yes, this too is a sad development in my life, but if I don't have the time to walk a couple miles a day or whatever and I'm spending that much more time staring at a computer, it means I'm going to have to start getting more exercise. The plus side is that I'll still have one outlet in which I can listen to podcasts.

Anyway, I'm going to try to post here as often as possible, but don't get pissy if I go a few days without posting here and there. I really am trying to get this done. So bear with me.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


It's Haiku season!!!!

Yawning on the porch,
the mountains say good morning.
My cat licks himself.

waiting in the mist,
it takes ages to warm up;
my stupid shower.

The airfield diner;
little planes will come and go
while we eat our eggs

we better pull this one off,
just to shut him up.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pennsylvania: Where flipping off a cop is your constitutionally protected right
Nerd out over coffee and espresso over here.

It's a very scientific but ultimately pretty interesting article. Kill some time with it.
I'm going to try to post regularly over the weekend, but I can't promise anything. Pitt being in the Elite 8 sorta shook up everything, and I'm trying to enjoy as much time poolside before my classes start on monday. In any case, Pitt won, and the Primal Scream show in Philly was scarcely attended. Was everyone watching the 'Nova game?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Despite that he forgets some of the words, or that his voice has changed entirely from when he recorded the song. Despite the fact that he punches up the rhythm and sounds 50 years older... Hearing Bob Dylan play "Billy" live for the first time still excites me beyond the words my brain can summon. I've seen him twice and to be honest always felt a bit underwhelmed. Not that I should've loved it (being the staunch traditionalist that I am, I've always preferred an acoustic Dylan), but hearing this, I'm wondering if I can catch him the next time he tours the US and maybe get to hear one of my favorite songs.

It's a conundrum.

PS There's also a new Theme Time Radio Hour on that site (this one's theme: "Truth and Lies"). So it's a pretty good day all around.

Man survived two A-Bomb attacks

You know what might be the only thing worse than surviving through an atomic attack? Living through two of them in four days, probably.


I've mentioned this before and I was mocked cruelly. Now I am here to tell you once again:

"A man picking fruit on an island in eastern Indonesia fell out of a tree where he was then mauled to death by two Komodo dragons."

Yeah, that's right. They're killing folks.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm really not all that sure what to make of this Away We Go movie. On one hand, I've enjoyed something from pretty much everyone involved at some point (except perhaps Maya Rudolph). On the other hand, this whole project is a They Might Be Giants soundtrack away from me hating it on principle alone.

Let's hope it's better than that (?)
Check out this statue in Moscow of two blindfolded children being chased around a park as "the victims of adult vices".

Now, being the youngest of 5 meant that I had no shortage of methods being employed in hopes of scaring the living shit out of me. Most of them worked pretty well. I remember one night when I was left in the care of my siblings when my parents went out somewhere. About halfway through the night, my oldest sister turned to me and said that they were all my parents now, since Mom and Dad weren't coming home. when I asked why not she told me, without batting an eye, that they were eaten by bears. I was 5, and my trouble with sleeping probably started right around there.
There was a belt that hung on the wall in my grandparents' home, one with these rusty coins attached to it. Every one of the children in my family had told everyone else about why it hung there, and that there were a few very sore asses that regretted having met it. I swear its' presence alone kept me from mouthing off to anyone until I was well into my mid-20s.
Now, that said, none of that affected me the way seeing this statue as a small child would. This is like the scariest parts of the The Wall movie* come to life.

Keep in mind that this is 2000 yards away from the Kremlin! The most haunting thing we have in DC is what... Arlington? The Vietnam Memorial? Arlington isn't scary, and the Vet Wall is more somber than scary. You can't be all that scared when there are wall rubbings involved, right?

Maybe we should consider one of these, but Americanize the whole thing. Put up a donkey playing Rock Band, or an aardvark watching a movie with CGI'd talking dogs. It's time to scare our kids straight! What if there was an elephant coordinating bum fights!?? Think of all the terrible shit we can help end, just by erecting some creepy-ass statues on the National Mall! I guess we probably can't afford it at the moment, but I'm gonna start writing some letters now...

Check out some more pictures at English Russia (but don't read the comments, okay? They're just not good for you. Ever).

*Come to think of it, this too was used to scare me as a child, along with KISS album covers, threat of BB gun, and clowns.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Eddie Bo, R.I.P.

New Orleans lost another giant in Eddie Bo, who passed away on Wednesday. Songs like "Hook & Sling" and "Check Your Bucket" were always favorites, and nearly impossible to listen to and stay in a bad mood. May your legacy never die, Eddie.

Learn and hear more of him here.
Just because it makes me laugh my ass off every time I see it

View-Master R.I.P.

There was an interesting article in last week's Economist about the decline of the View-Master, and a few mentions of its history and many uses. I know that it's really just the advance of technology and that these things cannot compete with a PS4 or whatever, but it still made me nostalgic for that time when I had one of those things. Despite it being somewhat antiquated by the early 80s when I used mine, it was still a pretty interesting toy to have. In addition to having all the discs for whatever movies and stories were popular with me when I was using it (The Black Hole and The Jungle Book were two I remember well), I also had whatever discs could float down through siblings, relatives, rummage sales, trips to national parks, etc...
So, as a kid I ended up with this weird , encompassing view (haha) of not only my own pop culture, but also that which preceded my by up to 40 years or whatever it was I found. It was kind of humbling, being presented with decades of expired fads in the face of your own, knowing that someday, Thundercats would be just some really godawful show to be exploited for nostalgic purposes by VH-1. And me, I guess. It reminds me when a friend's dad saw us all playing G.I. Joe out in the neighborhood somewhere and he decided to show us his old figures, which were at least 5 times the size of ours and looked much more like dolls than anything else we had at the time. Cloth fabric clothes instead of plastic!!??

Anyway, remember the View-Master fondly, folks. It's almost gone.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


How awesome is Steve McNiven? His artwork has only gotten better and better since Civil War, and it was already pretty breathtaking by then. In addition to being one of my favorite artists to ever draw Spidey, this week he gave us... DOOM in the future! Is it a coincidence that this image was released the same week that (formerly MF) DOOM's album leaked? Probably not. That said, who cares. I love this art so much.
(queue up the Quiet Riot)

Obama picks Pitt to go to the Final Four

Well, here's to that. Don't jinx us, buddy.

Actually, I get a little nervous every time I see this, but that might be more a result of my being weirdly superstitious or because I'm just not used to seeing it. Either way, I'm excited.

Also, I didn't comment on that Sixers game the other night in LA. I haven't gone out on St. Patrick's day in probably 8 years or so. I hate the big bar holidays, and this one is no exception.

But I wanted to see the Sixers play and beat the Lakers. And they DID, with Iguodala hitting a game-winning 3 in the last seconds of the game. I've never cheered so loud or come so close to getting beat up. What a great game.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dems pressuring Arlen Specter to switch sides

Rendell, Specter, and Biden, anyway.

Though I can't really imagine why. He's gonna have a hell of a time getting reelected, as far as I can tell, and no matter what side of the aisle he's running for, he's got a questionable last few years under his belt.

I actually like Specter, for what it's worth. Not on everything (not on all that much, to be honest), but I respect him for sticking to his convictions, especially when it's in the face of party mandate, which it's prone to do quite often. Which probably wouldn't make him the most ideal candidate for the Dems in the senate, right?

In any case, I'm glad he recognizes the desperate need for moderate Republicans at this point, and good for him for doing so.

Anyway, I put the odds at 50 to 1.


In continuing my theme of abandoned houses, there's a really cool photo essay at dornob of townhouses in Camden, half of which has been abandoned. You see a lot of these in the dwindling mid-Atlantic cities like Baltimore and Philly (and Chester), and it's always pretty remarkable Probably the result of regional architecture and urban flight as much as anything, but it's still an interesting sight.
(from Neatorama)
Apparently, my hometown newspaper is publishing op-eds by John Yoo.

That's about as embarrassing as it gets.

Holy Crap

Spider bites can cure the disabled.

That's probably the coolest story I've read in years. Except for that last sentence.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Forgotten exchange from the other night:

This occurred over the course of about 20 minutes late on Saturday night, while I was with a group in an outdoor area of a bar/bbq place in the midst of a pretty busy night. The streets were pretty crowded with arty people and seemingly drunk teens. I'm not making any of this up.

Man in his late 30s runs up to the fence, clearly under the influence of drugs, probably meth, and looking pretty destitute. His clothes are filthy, his beard looks like he poured motor oil into it, and he's got lots of missing teeth. He doesn't really appear to have anything else to do, so he's shouting at passerby, a longstanding meth tradition. My group and I are about 15 yards away, on the other side of a fence and having an animated discussion about South American parasites.
Man (to nobody in particular): "The West coast is the beeeeest!"
(everyone within earshot ignores him)
Man (still, to nobody): "Fuck that East coast shit!"
(at this point I sort of turn around, smiling. Apparently not patronizing enough, since he takes this as an invitation to continue, which I try to ignore. 5 minutes of him yelling shit ensues).
Man: "Yeeaaaaah, man!"
(after awhile, he comes up to the fence and starts yelling "hey!" until someone turns around. Again, I'm the sucker).
Man (pointing across a crowded intersection to a line of people waiting to get into a club or a bar or something): "Do you know what's going on over there?"
Me: "Um, not quite sure"
(then, being the idiot that I am, I add to it)
Me: "Probably some of those East Coast assholes!"
Man (suddenly excited): "Hey buddy, where are you from?"
Me: "Um, Outside Philadelphia"
Man: "Let me ask you a question. How come in Bufa- Buffalo, New York, there are methamphetamines, but in Philadelphia, there is none?"
(I pause at the question, not sure if there's a punchline he's going to spring on me).
I should remind you that this conversation is literally being shouted on a very busy intersection, with cops all over the place.
Me: "Um... Philly's more of a crack town?"
Man: "It's bullshit..."
(man trails off, eventually seeing something else to shout at and walking out of my plane of vision and raising his voice)
Things kind of devolved from there, but I just had to write it down, I'm still not sure why. It wasn't that funny, or interesting, or even that strange, sadly enough. It was just...something that happened.

Finally got around to seeing the Watchmen movie...

and I really liked it. Despite some of the more widespread complaints (the one about the music is completely valid), I thought it did a great job trying to tell the general story. I thought the opening credits were among the best montages in a movie I've ever seen (and for some reason felt almost Scorsesean). Of course I had my little nitpicks (he was supposed to look like Clark W. Griswold, right?), but in the end it was a film and I enjoyed it. It definitely left me with a lot on my mind.
First of all, I think that if I hadn't read the book several times, I probably would have spent the bulk of the film either completely confused or bored out of my skull. I don't mean to say this in a pretentious literary catfight way, but maybe to illustrate my own ignorance.
The story itself is not all that tough to follow, I guess, but I think so many references are made to the book without full explanation that I'd spend too much time focusing on the wrong things. It took me a few reads of the book before I really grew to appreciate it for what it was, and I can't imagine things being much different with the movie, though sometimes the really obvious stuff goes over my head and I have to assume that you are a more astute viewer/reader than I.
But I also think that the biggest challenges to this film are the medium in which it's told and the time which it's released.
One of the things that I think works the most for the comic medium* is that the artist decides exactly the pace in which the story is told. You can set panels as rapidly as you want, and rely on the reader to use their imagination to fill in what happens between them. One of the most jarring things about any comic movie to me is the fight scenes. In reading comics, you really have to make every punch, dodge, kick and parry count, since the last thing the reader needs is to see every little motion. Celluloid makes things harder, since you have to fill in those blanks, and often times the director tries to do that as quickly as possible, thus making every fight scene look like a fast-forwarded kung fu movie. As someone who spent a lot of time watching martial arts films in his youth, I can stand to watch a real-time fight every once in awhile. The same can be said for the conversations that take place. The reader also can take seperate time to ingest both the art on the page and the dialogue/narration being read, unlike the movie where both eyes and ears must be alert and receptive. I don't think either medium is superior, but there are definite advantages to either.
As far as the timing... it can't be stated enough how dramatically this has an impact on the story. Even reading the book now leaves one slightly unimpressed unless they consider both when it takes place and when it was written, which are the same, but also wildly different. With that I mean that both were around 1986, but I'm reffering to the difference between the political landscape and the comic book landscape. While we certainly haven't ended terror and war from our national mindset, it's hard to compare to that of the cold war, which I think might have seemed a lot more terrifying at the time. I mean, I was 8. My strongest memories of the cold war were probably formed by Rocky IV, Iron Eagle, and a slew of Chuck Norris films more than the newspaper or talking about bomb shelters. I'll never know how the Cuban Missile Crisis** would have affected my life, as much as in ten years, young adults might not have any idea how badly 9/11 fucked us up.
The comic landscape is a whole other story. Because despite the ills of America at that time: the post-hippie malaise aroused by Watergate, the oil crisis, and whatnot, despite the appearances of crack and AIDS, despite the beginning of the end for American manufacturing... comic books were still pretty goddamned optimistic and, well, still pretty much written for children. With a few notable exceptions***, most comics were bound by the comics code not to mention anything happening in the real world unless veiled in allegory so thick that it you find yourself comparing vampirism to AIDS (seriously!). Watchmen, along with books like Frank Miller's first two Dark Knight stories were pretty fucked up. It's hard to explain the leap they made in terms of storytelling. Imagine never knowing any Batman other than Adam West. Imagine going your whole life with the ridiculous dialogue, dumb plots, dumber villains, and enough piffs and pows to make you hate life. Then, you see Batman Begins. Hell, even the Burton Batman would freak you out a bit, but we're talking so much more than that....
These books effectively brought an end to the bronze age of comics by themselves. To go back and read it now, one has to basically ignore anything that was written after them. I can't say that writers like Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, etc... would never have existed without these books, but they certainly would have a different set of limitations on them.
I really don't even remember how I ended up on this tangent, but I guess my point is that it would be hard not to be a little underwhelmed by Watchmen, considering the decades of praise that have been heaped upon it. But it's such a massive milestone in the art of graphic storytelling that it can't be denied status as one of the all-time greats. The weird part is, I don't even think it's among my 3 favorite Alan Moore works. But that's a whole other post, and one which I might well have already written...

*(I'm not using the term graphic novel, because I think that this applies to more than that. A really great arc in a long-running comic deserves the same attention/respect that a graphic novel does).
**I'm sure I've mentioned this on here before, but one of my favorite professors in college used to love to tell us how during the Cuban Missile Crisis, he and his girlfriend lugged their mattress down to the basement of his apartment building, bought all the canned goods they could find and a case of whiskey and then spent the duration having as much drunken sex as they could. He always sounded like they were a little disappointed when after two weeks or so they emerged from that basement to find the sun still shining and kids playing on the lawn.
***The most obvious example is the incredible Green Arrow/Green Lantern series by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams, which tackled some pretty racy stuff for the time, including drug addiction, untion busting, hippie cults, etc...

I really didn't want to go on and on like this about a movie that's already been covered to death. The worst part is, I probably could've written this long before I saw the movie, but it's what was sort of running through my head as I was watching it.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What have I been up to?

I know I've been scarce, and I don't even have that good a reason, considering most of my time has been spend on the phone or emailing various administrations. So here's what's kept me from doing anything:

-actually trying to exercise
-buying a pair of swim trunks for the first time since I was 15. Normally I just wear shorts, but it appears that was no longer an option. It took me over an hour to find a pair that didn't make me look like I use the term "brah", and in the end I went with a pair that looks alarmingly like the ones I bought as a lifeguard when I was 15.
-running up an $84 bar tab while winning my first game of darts ever (I'm terrible) and getting my ass handed to me in scrabble.
-registration for school
-Signing my given name to about 250 emails, also a first.
-playing/fighting with my cat.
-catching up on podcasts.
-not watching the most recent episode of Battlestar Galactica, which has been on my hard drive for over a week.
-Pitt basketball
-web research: the Venona project, Tevin Campbell, Jules Bastien-Lepage, and the 100 Years' War. Fun!

yeah, that's pretty much it. Sorry, I'll try to make stuff more exciting soon.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Obama lifts stem cell research funding ban

Score another one for the good guys.

Listen, I'm not going to say that stem cell research can't be used for bad ideas. Obviously, the technology opens up hundreds of thousands of moral gray areas and can certainly be abused for the wrong ideas. There's such a vast array of uses for this science, and breakthroughs will be made for good or ill regardless of whether research funding is legal. Genius is genius, and it likes to work.

The ban hurt almost everyone, though, since under it there was zero chance for the legitimate and well-meaning doctors to obtain funding for combating the gravest of illnesses, while the shadier, more sinister side of the research* could always obtain funding, since they're not waiting for research money from endowments or above-the-board grants and whatnot. Anyone who personally has the resources to fund this stuff for ill gain certainly isn't going to let some pesky law stop them.

*I'm being somewhat vague with this because it's really, really hard to consider just how reaching this technology could go without sounding like a Philip K. Dick story. Needless to say, I have no doubt in my mind that in labs all over the world right now, people are already working on all sorts of ridiculous stuff that would make even my sci-fi addled head spin**. I find comfort in knowing that now we can put some of our brightest minds on to helping everyone.

**For some reason, I keep thinking of someone trying to create the cenobites from the Hellraiser movies in a lab. You can see why I don't actually type this crap out sometimes. I also know how little sense it would make to grow a cenobite, as opposed to a person with four arms or some Dr. Moreau-type shit. Yikes.

excuse me for not including any pictures with this. You rereally don't want what I was thinking, anyway. I should just put up a picture of a smiling, healthy child. But I can't be that sappy, now can I?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Moving Day

Yes, I'm moving today, so I gotta put this on hold for a day or so while I pack and fly and generally hate Bush airport in Houston.

anyway, there's that.

How bout that Wayne Coyne? He's a national treasure, folks!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

"Sex Cauldron? I thought they closed that place down!"

Note: If I ever become a brainwashed sleeper agent who has a trigger phrase to remotely activate them, I want mine to be "They should call this book Johnny Deformed!"

Great. Now I'm seriously considering watching all of the Swartzwelder episodes in a row.
Herb Magee: Basketball legend
Posts have been sparse, and probably will be for the next few days, as I attempt to help get my mother and grandparents moving as well as myself. This week already has me utterly exhausted, and there's plenty more of it. Anyway, I think the Globetrotters thing on the roof of the Spectrum today has been cancelled, seeing how there's 6 inches of snow on the ground (and presumably, the roof). In related news, Philadelphia Will Do has apparently been shuttered, which is a huge blow to area-themed absurdity.

Anyway, I should be back later with more.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Things I like in life:

Sleepwalking dogs!

Even better is that exact moment at the end when the dog wakes up already on his feet.