Friday, August 31, 2007

Phil Hendrie is BACK!!!!

When Phil decided to hang it up last year, I was so bummed. Now, he's back. I gotta confirm I can find him on the dial in Denver and in any case, sign up for his backstage pass if there is one - I like to listen on the iPod ideally - hopefully, he's canned that lame "podcast" software that wasn't a real podcast, and has instead embraced the RSS.

This is great news.

If you don't know who Phil is, he runs a great show, and it's a playful way to test people's gullibility and reality tunnels. It almost never grows old for me.

Another Slice of Americana

As part of our trip, we stopped in at Santa Fe. This was a photo snapped of a (homeless?) man's pets. If you think your eyes deceive you, they don't; that really is a mouse on top of a cat on top of a dog. Apparently, they like to hang out together.

Ideas for mixes

I recently picked up a new (to me) magazine, called Good. The bright background a picture of an AK-47 caught my eye when I was at Whole Foods. The mention of Bucky Fuller and an article on Mormons sealed the deal.

They apparently have ideas for various group projects in the back each issue, and last month's was for themed mixes. Being a fan of putting together mixes myself (I recently made one for the road that I called "UP" - as in upbeat.), my interest was peaked, so I went to their site to find others' mixes.

This one caught my eye, as it's in the same vein as my UP mix, and I also included Sly and the Family Stone on my mix:

Trenchtown Rock - Bob Marley
Caravan - Van Morrison
Dance To The Music - Sly & The Family Stone
The Beast And The Dragon Adored - Spoon
Uncle John's Band - The Grateful Dead
Play It All Night Long - Warren Zevon
The Late Greats - Wilco
Late In The Evening - Paul Simon
The Spirit Of Radio - Rush
Sir Duke - Stevie Wonder
Rock & Roll - Velvet Underground
Old Time Rock And Roll - Bob Seger
Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry

Pretty cool idea - I'm surprised they didn't get more submissions. Okay, so the above is pretty common stuff, but I thought the 80's mix was an interesting idea, and definitely had a cool cover! Some of the 80's tracks I don't know, and when I do, I didn't know they were covered:

How Soon Is Now - t.A.T.u.
The Heart Of The Matter - India.Arie
Brass In Pocket - Kelis
Where Is My Mind - Nada Surf
This Charming Man - Stars
She Sells Sanctuary - Keane
Rock The Casbah - Solar Twins
Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want - Muse
Ghost In You - Mark McGrath
The Killing Moon - Nouvelle Vague
Under The Milky Way - Tearwave
Love Will Tear Us Apart - Fall Out Boy

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fox Attacks Iran

Saw this wonderful short video called Fox Attacks Iran mentioned on I just cannot believe the ridiculous saber rattling coming from this administration and their enablers (like Faux). They are going to lie their way into another quagmire if they aren't stopped. And the Democrats are such a spineless "opposition" party.

I'd just like to re-invoke my hypothesis on how liberals actually think, while conservatives almost always feel, despite what the spin-doctors like to say. They let the emotional arguments that make no sense whatsoever bypass any rational faculties they might have and go straight to the reptilian brain (for example, arguments on flag burning and gay marriage are particularly embarrassing)...and that's why it doesn't matter that a network like Faux can't get anything right - at least correct in "the reality-based community", anyway. They don't need to get anything right, and in fact getting things wrong is probably necessary. They just make up their own fantasy world, and so many people follow them. Witness how conservatives flee from even something like Wikipedia - they have to make their own little reality in something called Conservapedia. Just shameful. And they have the cojones to actually repeat phrases like "intellectual honesty" - I notice that seems to be a favorite of Hannity's. Laughable, just laughable.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Slice of Americana

...and a little of Britain and Europe, by way of Beatles and Cirque du Soleil. :)

I haven't been making many posts here lately because we went on a road trip through 4 states - 5 if you include Colorado. We saw Love, but along the way to Vegas, saw many things, among the more notable being:

Roswell, Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, stayed in the famous wigwams on Route 66, the Petrified Forest, the Grand Canyon, the Grand Canyon skywalk, and the Hoover Dam.

Yeah, it was a lot to pack into a rather short time (after all, Americans do have the least amount of vacation in the industrial world), but it sure was fun. And we sure bought a lot of t-shirts. :)

DIY Coffee Roasting

I stumbled across an interesting article in a recent Utne magazine. It referenced an article in ReadyMade magazine about roasting your own coffee.

What peaked my interest was that beans that are fair-trade, organic, shade-grown, can supposedly be found cheaper if you are willing to buy them green and roast them yourself. I'm usually willing to roll my own sleeves up, and lately, I've been striving to be more of a Renaissance man [*] and do more DIY stuff, so this shouldn't be too much of a challenge.

Roasting my own coffee sounds like an intriguing idea - especially if I can avoid an assload of pesticides, and do it cheaply. Turns out that you can do it with an air popcorn popper. Okay, that was interesting...turns out we have the very popper model that some people recommend, so I ordered some sampler set from a company I found - I got about 5 pounds for about $30-some after shipping. I could probably find it cheaper, but wanted to try out the different types.

So the shipment came last week. I was going to wait until the weekend, but I couldn't hold out more than a day or two, so on the way home, I went to Costco to get a coffee machine (for the past few years, I've only had an espresso machine) and I tried it out when I got home. No one else was at the house yet, so if I created a stink, no one would complain. I followed these directions. All one does is plop about 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup of beans in the popper, put the top on, set the timer on the microwave to keep an eye on the time. Listen for the first crack, wait until most of the chaff has blown out, then take the top off and watch the beans closely. The timer is probably your friend, too, as it's probably a good thing to use as an upper bound. One tip I didn't see anyone else give was that you want to get ready to dump those beans out as soon as you turn off the popper - I think they get much more heat transfer from the surrounding metal in there after the air stops blowing and they stop moving and press against the sides and bottom. Pour them out into a metal collander and stir until they are cool enough to touch. Leave them out about 12 hours, then seal in a glass jar. Best used ASAP.

They smell unbelievably good. The coffee tastes awesome - I'm trying different roasts next - most of them so far have been just a bit lighter than a city roast. It's also much easier than I thought, and if you're careful, not very much cleanup at all to do. The first time, I was blowing the chaff into the collander, saw the beans getting very hot after turning off the air, and dumped the beans in the same container. Took a bit of doing to get all that chaff out of my beans...

[*] Without sounding too pompous - what I mean by that is not focusing on any one skill to the exclusion of all others - taking the specialization is for insects attitude. I've taken this attitude with my car ever since I bought it (used) - the only thing I haven't done with it is replace the serpentine belt and regular oil changes.

All other stuff that happens, I try to fix myself - so far, I've swapped out front rotors and brake pads, replaced the ignition coils, replaced the MAF sensor, as well as swap the rims and tires between all season and winter each fall and spring. Not only have I learned a bit here and there, I've saved unbelievable amounts of money (I figure doing the ignition coils myself saved me at least $600, and possibly more. The parts cost about $260 and I've had someone tell me the dealer charged them $1000+ to do that for their Maxima) and avoided the raise in blood pressure one gets from getting ripped off at the mechanic.

As for the serpentine belt, I'm glad I didn't try to tackle that one myself. I took it to a Sears, and the mechanic there apparently had a bit of a time getting it done. The guy looked like a seasoned guy, too, not just some kid in high school doing it as a summer job.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Tobe Hooper - What Happened?

I recently watched both Lifeforce (re-watched, actually) and Mortuary. What a juxtaposition! Lifeforce is one of my favorite sci-fi movies of the 80's - although I've only seen it a few times - once on TV back in the 80's, so it was heavily edited, and a few weeks ago on VOD. Intriguing concept, a lot of fun, maybe somewhat flawed in parts, but overall, very enjoyable flick. This was from a time when movies obviously weren't focus-grouped into the big budget sci-fi crapfests (think almost anything with Wil Smith in it) that they are now.

I checked out Mortuary on DVD from the library and watched it in the same week as watching Lifeforce...and afterwards, was just left scratching my head. This is from the same guy that did Poltergeist (well, that's controversial, but anyway) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre? It was watchable, and at times entertaining, but...let's just say I'm glad I didn't buy it on DVD.

BTW, I suggest watching (or re-watching to refresh your memory) Lifeforce, and then clicking on over on the 100 things we learned from Lifeforce thread on IMDB (I think you'll need a free login) - this list is done in homage to that list of things learned from Independence Day, I suppose. Pretty funny stuff. I like these:

96. Doctors played by Patrick Stewart will explode if sedated, viciously beaten and taken up in a helicopter.

95. The upside is his entrails will form a nude Mathilda May!

94. The downside is you'll be aroused by Patrick Stewart's entrails.

Monday, August 06, 2007

WSJ & Murdoch

I was out on vacation, and was sickened to find out that Murdoch acquired WSJ. I've subscribed to WSJ for most of the past 4 years...but probably won't be renewing. The only way it could be worse is if the Moonies owned WSJ like they own Washington Times.

I'll adopt a wait-and-see attitude to how it changes...he said he won't buy something just to ruin it, but given his track record of getting his start with tabloid journalism and using his properties such as New York Post and Fox News as his personal mouthpiece, I don't hold out much hope. And by "ruin it" - that's highly subjective - he could make it just another tabloid rag and make money. Depending on your perspective, that's not "ruining" it at all, though I suspect for current subscribers, that would ruin it.

Sure, the WSJ is a conservative newspaper - the op-ed often laughably so. Some of the op-eds are like reading the funny papers. But even the op-eds are not as shiny object-oriented and cartoonish as something like Fox News.

I fully expect front page stories on the likes of Paris Hilton, to be honest. :(

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