Monday, August 31, 2009

So, I just handed in the first of my 3 exams, and I've made myself an old-fashioned while I watch Mad Men to calm myself down from the crack-like symptoms of post-examity. I went out onto the porch for a minute, and for the first time so far, it actually smells like burning outside. Not like burning leaves or any of the other September burning smells I'm used to (including those from Mad Men tonight), but like burning earth. The fire is still far enough from me that I'm not to concerned, but still one thought enters my mind:

I've had dreams like this

it's going to be a long week.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bomb shelter pictures!

These are from a book of Photographs taken by Richard Ross of one of my favorite things: bomb shelters.

While I don't have the time to ruminate right now, click on over and take a peek. They're pretty awesome.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Say what you will about Ted Kennedy. He was the last of a dynasty, he was the "lion of the senate", chappaquiddick, etc...

the fact is, he got more legislation passed than any of his brothers ever did.

I, like much of my generation, was raised to worship John and Bobby, but at the end of the day, they died before they ever got the change to make the difference they wanted. As a professor I had once stated, JFK never came close to LBJ when if comes to civil rights legislation. that's a fact. Even Bobby (my favorite of the bunch), never got the chance.

While Teddy didn't have the clime to have the same impact that his brothers dreamt of, he still accomplished more than they ever would. The guy reached colossal levels of influence (and I can complain as much as anyone the reasons that put him there), and he made the most of it. when he got sick a couple of years ago, everyone expected him to lie low and expect him to go gentle. But no, he decided instead to work through things. This isn't as common in the US Senate as you would think it is. So stop and give him a moment of your time. Believe me, regardless of your beliefs, he deserves it. I'm sure the next few days, he'll receive a lot of glad-handing, and her deserves it, but remember that he was more important to the Democratic party than anyone since Tip O'Neill. Which says far more than I can put into words than ever after just getting home from the bar. But if you care about bipartisanship, if you care about Irish-Americans, if you care about the little guy, shut up and respect for a minute.

He was always that great combination of the influence and te smarts/influence that we've sought in a leader, with the real background desired of a policy maker. He was never perfect, but always there for us over 37 years, and I like to think he was the one who made more of a difference than anyone else.

We like to think that the President is who gets things done. While he (so far) is who guides policy, it is the stalwarts in the Senate who really have a say. In that regard, there are few in US history who've had the impact of TK. He was there through the bulk of if, and though he wasn't there for everything I wish he was, he was still there. He is of that generation that made for the greater good. and I promise you that both sides will miss him.

that's all.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

As a big fan of public-domain, early 20th century science fiction, it pleases me to know that they're making a Princess of Mars movie. I think it should to be pretty interesting, and perhaps followed up by 9 or 10 repetitive, but nonetheless entertaining sequels. I'm also excited by Dominic West playing Sab Thar (what's up with his role choices lately? Did he attend villain school after the Wire?), though I'm thinking they're going to have to CGI the shit out of this production. What I'm terrified of is that they're going to try to update this in some ultra-sleek, action packed movie, which is just sorta wrong and weird. Which isn't to say I don't shudder at the thought of a steampunk-inspired movie, either. But I guess it don't count as steampunk if it's set on Mars, does it? I guess the best course of action would be to just read the damn books. They're each like 60 pages long.
One of the things I always enjoyed about the books is just how surreal the whole planet is described, especially its' inhabitants, which range from dog-like creatures to a variety of civilizations spanning the planet. I always liked that notion that Martians, despite having advanced technology, still can't get their shit together enough to stop fighting with each other. Good on Edgar Rice Burroughs for including racism in outer space.

alright, back to work for me.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Though, I detest Philadelphia Magazine (and pretty much all of its ad-heavy overblown counterparts in other cities), there's a pretty interesting article in the new issue about what's happened to the Philly mob.

It's been a long time since they blew up the Chicken Man...

Whatever happened to the South Philly Mob?

(via Secret Dead)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

See those mountains in the banner up top? Here's how they look today. Go smog.

I've been working constantly on web development and cataloging for the last... ugh, I don't even know. But I got real ambitious at 3 AM this morning and began a post about Mat Fraction's recent open letter to Philip K. Dick (as featured in the most recent issue of the comic adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep), Pink Floyd (particularly 1977's Animals, and the box art for the old Atari game Defender. As you can imagine, it was the sort of thing that will take me at least a few hours to write, and at the moment, I don't have that sort of time. I did get most of the ideas down, though, and I look forward to wrapping it up. In the meantime, though, I need to do some more work on Cutter numbers (seriously, I hate these things) and pretend I don't want to ram a darning needle into my ear.

I know this is kind of an empty post. Consider it a placeholder of sorts. But in the meantime, go here and check out some of the other Atari art. It's astounding to think about how much more entertaining this art is than the actual games were. Considering how many dumb movies have spawned from video games, I think we could get a good decade out of this stuff. Missile Command? Totally. Dodge 'Em? Oh, hell yes. Super Breakout? Holy shit, make it now. How did that art even come around? what about that game made you think "astronaut tennis"? It doesn't matter, I want Michael Bay's dumb ass working on it, stat.

Anyway, I'm gonna have a little break in a few weeks, at which point I'm going to flood this thing with poignant and well-considered posts. Or at least ones that don't trail off into nowhere.

Friday, August 14, 2009

and thus I find myself in the completely unexpected role of defending Michael Vick. As someone who is almost absurdly fond of animals and will readily admit that he's the least dedicated male football fan he knows, I can say it's a strange position.

Still, I can't pretend to be outraged by the Eagles' choice to sign Mike Vick. He's a talented guy and they got him for cheap. and I while I'm horrified by what happened at his house or farm or whatever, I also believe in second chances and rehabilitation. Vick did what he did (and while I read those initial reports, I'm not going to pretend to know just how involved he was in the whole thing), and he got caught and then punished for it. He got punished more than anyone has ever been punished for a crime like that. His fame and money put him in front of a bus, and he paid the fines and served his time. He lost a fortune and two of the most profitable years of his life, and I haven't heard him complain once.

Look. I'm sure that Vick regrets his little dogfighting adventure more than anyone. And I'm even more sure that considering the scrutiny, he's not going to think about so much as sneezing towards an animal for the foreseeable future.

So I'm fine with signing Vick. Shit, we have a better chance now than we did yesterday, right? Vick didn't circumvent the law. He didn't manipulate jurors. He did his time and how he's ready to play ball again. Good for him. and good for us.

I can't blame the Eagles for signing him. On the contrary, they'd be foolish to pass up on the offer. They're not condoning what he did. They're not harboring some unrepentant killer. They're giving the guy a second chance. and while I'm proud of the progressive mindset, I think it has far more to do with the Eagles organization's desire to win, and I'm just as proud of that. I want my team to have that desire. I want them to be willing to do almost anything to win, aside from cheating or doping or whatever. If you take a few knocks from PETA, so be it. There were worse people in the NFL than Vick 3 years ago, and there are worse people than him there today. I think he knows what he has ahead of him, and I hope we can help him do it. and maybe we'll impress everyone in the process.

update: there's a good article by John Gonzalez here that does a good job of summing up what you just read here. I'm pretty sure he wrote his first.

Monday, August 10, 2009

So, I've been taking this quiz (cataloging, which a lot harder than I ever would've expected to be) on and off all day, and while I'm doing this I'm going through these big stacks of blank or unidentifiable CDs that I have. They go back at least 10 years, which means that they go back almost as long as I've had access to a CD burner. 1998? It was something like that. Anyway, It was such a revelation at the time, and years of crafting and shaping these mix tapes, I was blessed with the ability to make a mix in 5 minutes to last me exactly one walk to work. Thinking about it now, it's the first time I really could just dump a bunch of songs somewhere for later listening. I mean, I could do it with tapes, but it never really made sense, because two weeks later, I'm driving around listening to the damned thing and hating every other song, but still forced to listen to it because I didn't have a CD player in the accord.

But suddenly, I could go to the computer lab at Pitt, download 20 songs right there, browse Addicted to Noise* while I slap 'em on a CD, and then I'm walking out the door listening to them ten minutes later. The problem is that the files would never be labeled well, and I'd have no idea what I was listening to most of the time. This was also at a time, mind you, when the internet was a lot less slick than it is now. Even looking at the ATN sheets linked above I sorta cringed without even realizing. Like watching old basketball or football footage and when they flash the score at the bottom of the screen, you think "how did those neanderthals ever get by without graphics of little animated players or robots to deliver the score?". And then you realize that you were 15 when that game took place and you realized that yes, things do move by that fast sometimes. But I digress. Where was I?

Oh, the CDs. Yeah, they're mostly these last-minute collections of unlabeled songs, sometimes half a CD by one artist, and the rest of the disc crammed with whatever else I could find at the time. There was so much flotsam on the internet then for me. I wasn't thinking about discovering new bands through the internet just yet (and to be fair I'm not sure I was alone there), but I would exhaust every band I'd ever loved up until then looking for rarities and b-sides and the like. One year I think I made 50 CDs that had A) Beck covering a Rolling Stones song, B) something from the Matador website, or C) Ween's "Booze Me Up of Get Me High". What a weird time.

Anyway, I'd make them at work. I'd make them in the library. I'd make them for a drive just up to Wawa. and I rarely throw them out, because I forget if there's anything I want on them. I can also pretty much narrow them down to what year I made them, because for some reason there's been a pattern to what brand/type of CD I've used changing every year since 2000.

and it's nice. it's filling in these little blanks and forcing me to look up songs by googling the lyrics (yes, while I'm taking this quiz. Smart, right?), songs I would've never thought to revisit on my own. As I write this, I'm listening to what I'm pretty sure is a New Order cover (and an awful one at that) from somewhere around 2001. Then it'll go into Bob James and then something that I think is the Karl Hendricks Trio (who are still together!?) , but I can't be certain. It's like these little, clumsily-arranged time capsules left for myself.

What I should do, is arrange a CD of my favorite songs of the year, not label any of them, and then listen to it 10 years later and see how many I know right away. Hell, I guess I already am.

so that's what I'm up to. I've been writing so much about the internet lately for two of my classes that I'm sorta shocked my mind went here on it's own. Two themes for my online class discussions this week: The first was more or less the internet will destroy us all, once it's plugged into OUR BRAINS (trust me, I've seen a lot of movies). The second, and I'm quoting, was "The Library of Congress: Kinda racist, right?" Both were a little ridiculous, but both of them have spawned some interesting conversation, and that was the point, right?

anyway, I'm going to turn this devil box off and go watch some old-fashioned television. Now playing that Grand Funk Railroad song that Chief Xcel sampled for that song on Soleside's Greatest Bumps.

Have a wonderful week, everyone.

*holy shit, look at that list of artists! Ani DiFranco + Turntablism!!

Little known fact: Option Magazine had Thurston Moore on the cover of every single issue they printed in that 5 or 6 years.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

This picture has been sitting in my bookmarks for months, and I think at some point I was going to make a mix called "Battletruck". I never got around to it (though I will be posting a new mix sooner than later), but I can't let this graphic go to waste. Thus, BATTLETRUCK.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Flames consume a replica of the 17th-century flagship Prins Willem in Den Helder, northern Netherlands, early Thursday, July 30, 2009.
via riotclitshave
(also this one, which I love:)

Go check out some Russian space program snapshots at English Russia, because... wait, do you need a reason for that? If so, you really shouldn't be here...
For the first time in, I dunno, 18 years or so, my hair is turning blond again. So's my "beard", for that matter. I put beard in quotations because basically what I have is completely accidental and more a result of it being too hot to shave and my only having what could generously be described as the worst razors ever made. I don't mind using a 2-bladed razor. In fact, that's all I've ever used. But having those blades spring-mounted makes a huge, huge difference.

just ask my neck.

so what's next in my changing appearance? Perhaps glasses? I can't be that far off by now. An eyepatch? That might not be out of the question, either. I'd suggest a neck brace, but that seems awfully restricting.

There's one thing I can promise you: It won't be a mustache or any other ironic facial hair.

I considered posting a picture of this, but I've long decided that I'm too old to be taking cell phone pictures of myself in a bathroom mirror.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The San Diego Zoo. I only took one picture, but I like it well enough.

The best part of this trip was when looking at the koalas (who, not surprisingly, were all asleep) and one started shaking for a second. I thought he was going into a convulsion or something, but it turns out he was just pooping from his tree branch.

He then scratched himself and went back to sleep.