Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

May 2011 bring you peace, happiness, and a new puppy from your local Humane Society. Or a kitty. Or even a tiger.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

It doesn't will confused me.

Using ambiguous tenses is only confusing to those who haven't yet mastered the art of Time Travel.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Quote for the Day

"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." (Carl Sagan)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Moody Bluegrass

I came across this used-CD, a 2004 issue, while Christmas shopping. Since I like The Moody Blues and love Bluegrass, this seemed to be a nice fit. . Sadly, it wasn't. Oh, the Bluegrass was good - they even brought in Alison Krauss for big-name backing vocals. And the song selection was decent too. . But the bottom line is - the two genres don't go together well. Let's face it, we listen to Bluegrass for the pickin' and grinnin'. The vocals don't count for much (didn't anyone ever tell Bill Monroe he couldn't sing for sh*t), and the lyrics count for even less. Alison could sing us the words from the Sears catalogue and we wouldn't care. . OTOH, Moody Blues music is complex, tightly arranged, and the lyrics are an integral part. Forcing fiddle pickers to play Moody Blues songs is like making Michael Bolton do a Frank Zappa tribute album. So overall, Moody Bluegrass gets a 5*/10 rating. The effort was there, but it was doomed from the start. . Track Listing (best ones in pink) :
01.Lovely To see you Again
02. Land of Make Believe
03. The Voice
04. The Other Side of Life
05. It's Up to You
06. Ride My See Saw
07. I'm Just a Singer in a Rock & Roll Band
08. Legend of a Mind
09. Your Wildest Dreams
10. Nights in White Satin
11. Late Lament (this was terrible)
12. Never Comes the Day

Monday, December 27, 2010

Book Excerpt for the Day

Hunt had been born in New Cross, the shabby end of East London, south of the river. His father had spent most of his life on strike or in the pub on the corner of the street debating grievances worth going on strike for. When he ran out of money and grievances, he worked on the docks at Deptford. Victor's mother worked in a bottle factory all day to make the money she lost playing bingo all evening.
.
(from Inherit The Stars, by James P. Hogan)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

RIF - Xmas 2010

I hope everyone's Christmas Day was fabulous and Santa brought you lots of kewl presents. He brought me over 6000 pages of fantastic books to read in 2011. Iain Banks, Neil Gaiman, Ian Rankin, Peter Hamilton, China MiƩville, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and David Foster Wallace. Is that a great list of authors, or what?! . Yeah, it was a great trade for the cookies, milk, and coffee-with-Bailey's I left him.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

May peace and happiness abide and abound in your household this holiday season.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Book Excerpt for the Day

my neighbor gives me the key to his house
when he goes on vacation.
.
I feed his cats
water his flowers and his
lawn.
.
I place his mail in a neat stack
on his dining room table.
.
am I the same man who planned to
blow up the city of Los Angeles
15 years ago?
.
(from Charles Bukowski's "The Old Anarchist")
.
I once vowed that I would blow up various Valley National Bank locations in and around Tempe. It had to do with them charging a $10 ISF fee when I was trying to close out my account at the end of a college year. I miscalculated (or they steered me wrong), and missed by 39 cents. For that I was penalized the ten dollars.
.
It felt good to vent to all my friends and acquaintances, and threaten VNB with explosive catastrophes. Later on however, it occurred to me that if anybody ever really did start vandalizing VNB banks, I would instantly become the prime suspect.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My favorite Christmas CD's

Well not really. Although I did see a Flaming Lips Christmas CD today when I was out finishing up my shopping. I almost bought it, just cuz it seemed so bizarre. If I get motivated enough, I may go back tomorrow are snag it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Book Excerpt for the Day

Florida's beauty creates the illusion of civilization. It is a thin but functional veneer, like fake-wood contact paper stuck to flimsy particle board. Glistening condos, palm trees down the median, corkscrew water slides and waiting lines of retirees spilling onto restaurant sidewalks at four P.M., hoping for a shot at an early-bird $3.95 Sterno tray of Swedish meatballs. Spring training, mermaids, trained whales. Brave New Disney World, where commercial microbiologists try to isolate the DNA responsible for bad thoughts and free will. Space shots and orange juice with more pulp and roadside hot dog vendors in T-backs causing traffic mishaps at the latest apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who chose to appear this time in squeegee residue on the plate glass of a financial tower on U.S. 19.
.
(from Hammerhead Ranch Motel, by Tim Dorsey)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Waiting for Godot

Miss Emily on the left; Preacher on the right. Alternative title : Firesign Theatre's "Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him".

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fraggle Rock

(Sighs). Nowadays, they just don't make TV shows like they used to.

Friday, December 17, 2010

RIP - Captain Beefheart

a.k.a. Donald Glen Vliet. Born : 01/15/41. Died : 12/17/10. In the music world, where everybody tries to sound like someone else, you were an original. Unfortunately, that didn't translate into a lot of sales.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tomorrow's Schedule

01. Quit dawdling.
02. Get my act together.
03. Stop playing HOMM-3.
04. Caffeinate.
05. Get my butt out the door and GET STARTED XMAS SHOPPING!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Book Excerpt for the Day

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose above the misty peaks of Imfaral. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.
.
(from Towers of Midnight, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wonderphilly Cliff Lee

The big news of the (sports) day is that Cliff Lee surprised all the experts by spurning the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees, and signing instead with one of his former teams - The Philadelphia Phillies. . Since I'm both a Phillies and Rangers fan, this is okay. Particularly since it means the "we don't win championships, we buy 'em" Yankees at least didn't get him. For the Phillies, it means a dynamite 1-through-4 starting rotation, and come Spring Training, they will probably be the oddsmakers' favorites to win it all next year. .

As a Texas Rangers fan, I suppose I should be upset about this, as Lee seemingly willed the Rangers to the World Series. last year. But the going price was a 7-year contract (6 years plus an option, actually), and summers can be brutal in Arlington. Lee would have been great next year as a Ranger, but for how long after that? Seriously, Texas' next major acquisition should be an indoor park. I don't see a top-flight pitcher ever signing a long-term contract with the Rangers until that happens.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Book Excerpt for the Day

"Father, what more should I do for the cleansing of my soul?" ventured Eluric, quivering to the last subsiding tremors of guilt.
.
"Penance may well be salutary for you," admitted the abbot somehwat wearily. "But beware of making extravagant claims even upon punishment. You are far from a saint - so are we all - but neither are you a notable sinner; nor, my child, will you ever be."
.
(from The Rose Rent, by Ellis Peters)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

December Vacation

It's been a busy and successful year where I work. As with a lot of people in our Tech Services Dept, I face the end of the year with a poopload of vacation days and a need to use 'em or lose 'em. To accomplish this, I am off quite a bit in the near future. In fact, I only work two more days this month. . I haven't had many chances to time- and dimension-travel for a while, so I think I'll go hiking with my buds Xthnrr and Gnmmkq, under the dual suns on the planet Delvinium-25 (see above) and travel back 3,000 years or so for the Winter Solstice celebration at (what you folks call) Stonehenge. . Or go Christmas shopping. Which seems rather mundane, but would keep peace in the family.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Quip for the Day

"My faith in our Afghanistan mission will be restored when the president can pre-announce that he's making a trip there." (Bill in Portland, Maine; via Dailykos)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

RIP - Elizabeth Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards
b. : 03 July 1949
d. : 07 December 2010
. Rest easy now, Elizabeth Edwards; your trials are over. You had a tumultuous life, but Lord knows, you would've made a fabulous First Lady. Hell, you would've been a better choice for Chief Executive than your cheating husband and/or the Alaskan idiot. .

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Monday, December 06, 2010

RIP - Don Meredith

"Dandy" Don Meredith
b. : 10 April 1938
d. : 05 December 2010
. Yeah, I'm a Redskins fan. So we don't give a lot of press here to ex-Dallas Cowboys. But Don Meredith was the epitome of class. A good football player, and an excellent announcer on Moday Night Football. .

Friday, December 03, 2010

ASU 30 - UofA 29

It's been a miserable season for my Arizona State University Sun Devils, but at least it ended on a high note last night, when we whupped the Arizona Wildcats 30-29 in double-overtime. Blocking two extra point attempts, which was the margin of victory. . No, we won't be going to a Bowl game - for the third year in a row now. But we knocked UA down a couple of pegs. And we did it in Tucson, no less. .
So congratulations Sun Devils!! It makes me kinda wish I had remembered to watch it.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

What makes my job exciting

Yeah, that's me he's talking about. Except that my title is Director of Quality Control, not Quality Assurance. And those poisonous spines were more of an irritant than an actual safety hazard.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Book Excerpt for the Day

"Why is it," Ash said under her breath, "that when the brown and sticky hits the fan, I'm always standing real close by?"
.
Thomas Rochester shrugged. "Just lucky, boss, I guess..."
.
(from Carthage Ascendant, by Mary Gentle)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

RIP - Leslie Nielsen

Leslie Nielsen
b. : 11 February 1926
d. : 28 November 2010
. So long, Leslie Nielsen. I won't call you Shirley anymore. You were great in the Airplane! series, and fantastic as Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun films. But you also were an outstanding dramatic actor. And some of us geezers still remember you as Colonel Francis Marion in Walt Disney's The Swamp Fox. .

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Roger Waters Concert!

Yes, I had extremely high expectations for this concert, and yes, it lived up to them completely. Excellent music (The Wall, obviously) and a fantastic visual extravanganza. I'd tell yooze folks to go see him when he's in your town, but the tour is almost complete. He's got about 5 more dates in California; then he's done. .
Plus my ticket and dinner were birthday presents from Jason and Ryan! How kewl is that!? Thanks guys!

Friday, November 26, 2010

a Slate Fire Pit!

I had one more task scheduled for yesterday before friends arrived - put together the above-pictured Slate Fire Pit. Because Arizona does occasionally get cold enough to where one of these is downright comfortable when sitting on the back porch after dark. . The instructions promised me 15 minutes of entertainment putting this together. But I managed to stretch it out to 45 minutes, plus two skinned knuckles, and roughly 75 cusswords. . In the end, I got it together. Alas, it didn't get used, despite us being on the back porch until 9:00 PM or so.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

My schedule for today :
Watch some football.
Walk the dogs.
Watch some football.
Discusss political stuff on the back porch.
Watch some football.
Stuff myself silly on turkey and assorted side dishes.
Watch some football.
Sample every dessert.
Watch some football.
Dream about going to see Roger Waters tomorrow night.
Snack on leftovers.
Watch some basketball.
Doze off for a couple minutes.
Wake up, watch some basketball.
Laugh at those going shopping tomorrow.
Get told to make a Xmas list.
Have one more slice of pie. Mega-Burp!
Discuss philosophical stuff on the back porch.
Watch Sports Center.
Read some Bukowski poetry.
Zzzzz.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dancing With The Stars

I admit it. I've watched more hours of this season's Dancing With The Stars than probably all the reality shows of the past put together. But that's only because it was on 1-2 hours every Monday and Tuesday night, and Liz was thoroughly hooked on it. So if we were still eating supper at 7:00 PM on those nights (and that's usually the case), I was forced to watch it. . Congratulations to Jennifer Gray. She truly deserved to win. At least it wasn't the baby-making Bristol Palin, who finished third and gave Mama TeaBagger entirely too much free air time. . Liz swore if Bristol won, she would never watch DWTS again. A hollow threat, you say? She was hooked on The Bachelor a few seasons ago when they did their phony ending of the guy dumping the winner for one of the losers. Liz said she'd never watch that show again, and to this day, she hasn't.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Frank Sinatra - September of My Years

Artist : Frank Sinatra
Album : September Of My Years (1965)
Genre : Easy Listening Overall Rating : 7½*/10
. I must be getting old, cuz I never used to be able to listen to Frank Sinatra. I converted this LP for a friend, and was surprised how many songs I recognized and how ...um... pleasing-to-the-ears the music was. . And it isn't just me. My carpool partner's 18-year-old son recently became a fan of Sinatra as well. Wow! I know The Beatles maintain their popularity from generation to generation, but I didn't know Old Blue Eyes has the same gift. . All in all, this was a pleasant surprise. I don't think it'll become one of my top ten favorite albums, but if you force me to do Easy Listening (and take away my Sarah Brightman CD's), this will be my first pick. . Album Tracks : (my favorites in pink) :
01. The September of My Years (3:15)
02. How Old Am I? (3:30)
03. Don't Wait Too Long (3:04)
04. It Gets Lonely Early (2:57)
05. This Is All I Ask (3:03)
06. Last Night When We Were Young (3:33)
07. The Man in the Looking Glass
08. It Was A Very Good Year (4:25)
09. When The Wind Was Green (3:22)
10. Hello, Young Lovers (3:41)
11. I See It Now (2:50)
12. Once Upon A Time (3:30)
13. September Song (3:30)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Quote for the Day

"Bacchus tells me that they have communicated with many peoples and they respect all forms of language, finding each beautiful in its own way. The language of this gray land is a flowing tongue in an alphabet long ago perfected. On writing, they are conflicted. It is necessary, but they warn that writing encourages forgetfulness and discourages memory and they are correct." (pgs. 407-08)
.
from The Charlemagne Pursuit, by Steve Berry)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bambi Chess

and I just hate it when someone kills my Bambi's mother before I kill their Bambi's mother.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Arizona Spelling Note

Remember : You can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ. (kos)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Libertarians

I have a relative and a co-worker who call themselves Libertarians. Both are insufferable. And both introduce their political viewpoint by saying, "I am a ...(dramatic pause plus an ever-so-slight sigh)... Libertarian". . Reading that sentence doesn't really convey the true sense of political righteousness they infuse into it, so find yourself a Libertarian, and (even though you already know the answer) ask them what political party they support. They'll be happy to tell you, using the full audio effect.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hayabusa!

This is an incredible close-up picture of the asteroid Itokawa, taken in 2005 by the Japanese space probe, Hayabusa. That shadow you see is of the spacecraft itself, which actually landed on the asteroid, gathered some cosmic dust, and brought it back to earth. You can read the full article about this here. Live long and prosper.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Working on "Porgy and Bess"

Porgy & Bess. I'm working on converting this from LP-to-CD. Same album cover, except the LP I have was issued by Columbia Records, not Philips. This soundtrack is not available as a CD. And in researching it, it appears very unlikely that it ever will be. . I also found an LP with the music from the Porgy & Bess Broadway musical, which goes all the way back to 1935 (the music, not the LP). It is not nearly as cool as this movie soundtrack is.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The world in 2050

I'm a time-traveler. I've been there. This is pretty much as it will happen. Except for China. They don't really invent Dimension-Hopping by 2050.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Melanie concert tonight!

Report to follow. Expect lots of gushing praise by me, as I've been a fan of hers for decades. Even though she isn't considered "cool".

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sunday Punnery

I am a fan of puns. The more contrived, the better. So I was delighted last Sunday morning to find not one, but two strips with compound and groan-inducing puns. .

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday's Brain Teaser

Think of two words whose pronunciation changes when they are capitalized. Answer in the comments.