Thursday, December 27, 2007

This Too Shall Pass

Four days ago I didn't know it existed. Two days ago I was convinced I needed it. Now the fever is passing and reality has set it.

Like most males, my toys are relatively expensive and unnecessary. You see, I've got a lovely $80 strat-copy that I've painted neon green and it matches my electric guitar abilities.

But then I saw this lovely creature, on sale for a mere $250 and a bargain at that. Besides, we just got our property tax rebate!

The first time I suffered guitar lust was this dandy DanElectro Mod:

A bit goofy and retro, I still think this one fits me best but it was a mega-blowout discontinued $100 at a time when $100 was $100 more than I had. And so I let the opportunity pass and they are no longer available except on eBay.

The other guitar that has held my attention for some time is the Ibanez Artist line which I find asthetically pleasing.

But as I said, the fever has passed and I no longer am under the compulsion to OWN STUFF. That is until the next issue of Musician's Friend comes in the mail.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Spam

Good mornin' y'all! Hope all 1.28 of my regular readers had a fabbo Christmas, or a similar experience.
This morning I sliced into my annual can -o- Christmas SPAM. Carefully. With 150% of your daily fat (and probably 375% of your daily sodium) in each can this is not something to take lightly. Take the time to enjoy the process because once this stuff hits your heart it may be the last thing you see. Relish in the embryonic and mysterious SPAM jelly, immerse yourself in the sizzling on the skillet (NEVER microwave SPAM. Never taunt SPAM (or Happy Fun Ball).) (How's THAT for punctuation?). Savor each bit, pehaps enhances with a bit of scrambled egg or toast with your favorite jelly (although I don't recommend SPAM jelly... WAIT! Maybe that's what the stuff is for! But alas, I am not that brave to spread the gelatinous goo on my toast even though it may be nirvana and open up the secret of life). (Am I using too many of these? I've been up since 5:00.)
Um, that's it. No more. Go home. Drink some coffee. Nothing more to see here... move along.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Primiti Too Taa

One great thing about YouTube is that you can see great animations you remember from your past. So now I present the classic primative poem "Primiti Too Taa" animated one page at a time using a manual typewriter by some obviously manic fellow with too much time on his hands during the late eighties.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Manly Man's Guide To Christmas Morning

Nothing is worse for the macho manly man than to be unprepared. Except being humiliated. By packaging. So, with Christmas morning a mere eight days away I, the ultimate manly machismo man, am here to help you prepare for the big day.

Assemble the following tools and you will surely be able to break into the toughest box, remove even the sturdiest product display/protection devices, and make sure your Christmas morning goes smoothly for you and your children.

Item 1: A box cutter or pocket knife. Today is the day to begin sharpening your knife using a whetstone or double-sided grinding stone with oil. Don't use scissors... think of the damage you would do to your children to have them seeing their manly father using dainty scissors to open a box. From China.

Item 2: Wire cutters. Many a toy is clamped in place with plastic bands. Again, scissors will buckle and your children will gasp in disappointment as their father is defeated by Chinese ingenuity. Wire cutters are the way to go. Or tin snips. Needle-nose pliers with a wire cutting edge also work. Especially macho men may opt for bolt cutters.

Item 3: Regular Philips Screwdriver. Sometimes the toys are actually screwed into the box or into special protective plastic pieces that make great gobs of poisonous black smoke when tossed into the Christmas fire.

Item 4: AA Philips Screwdriver. If you don't already have a set of tiny screwdrivers for opening the battery panels you need to get them TODAY. A manly man uses the right tool for the right job and though they are dainty, these tiny tools will not strip out a screw head, one of the ultimate shames for the manly man.

Item 5: Batteries. Lots of batteries. Even if none of the presents you are giving need batteries you will need to be prepared with lots of batteries. AA, AAA, and 9 volt. Sure, pick up some D and the increasingly scarce C size while you're out. Stop by Batteries Plus and get the mysterious N size to shock the kids.

Item 6: Flame Thrower. What? You're gonna leave all that paper and cardboard just laying around? There's FIRE to be had!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Family Secrets

Last night we made a variation on a Hoffman family favorite ~ Orange Julius. Hold onto your blenders kids 'cause it's PINEAPPLE JULIUS TIME!

1 Cup milk
1 Cup cold, cold water
1/2 Cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla or vanillin or your favorite synthetic imitation vanilla extract
A whole buncha pineapple (6 oz orange juice concentrate may be substituted for olde worlde taste)
10-12 ice cubes

Blenderize/ice crush the mess for 30 seconds. Enjoy!

* Baby shown for sake of comparison. The author of this web site does not condone, approve, or recommend the making, imbibing, or digesting of Baby Julius.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Taggers on the Public Pay

Ah... the daily morning walk into work. The crisp morning air, the nearly empty streets, the towering office buildings, the spray painted graffiti on the sidewalks and streets. No, Fort Wayne isn't home to an active group of taggers but for some reason utility employees find it necessary to mark out the paths of their pipes and wires with spray paint. I can understand if you're going to do some work under the street but lately it seems they're just spraying lines because they have five minutes left before a coffee break. If you look close you'll see the mysterious orange dots that run for six blocks and just stop... not sure where they lead or if I'm even following them in the correct order. These were all sprayed down six months ago or longer and I've yet to see a jackhammer or a backhoe digging around that would have needed to be warned about the dangerous pipes below.

Monday, December 10, 2007

My Crazy Employer

The place I work for, a web-based application, is in dire need of managerial direction. Here's the timeline:

Four months ago we put out a new version. It had an entirely new look and feel to it. It took three months to get the thing out, making our customers wait for minor bug fixes while we added some snazzy, exciting, non-essential features. We vowed that we would never again wait three months between releases.

Last month we put out a new version, the first since the one three months prior. It had an entirely new look and feel to it. Imagine going to eBay or Amazon and finding that they completely changed the look of their web site every three months, moving things around seemingly on a whim, disabling such non-essential functions like the ability to cut and paste and being able to search for something with fewer than five mouse clicks. They don't because they are real companies. This version, like previous versions, was full of bugs and errors and a complete disregard for usability. It's almost as if we are actively TRYING to irritate our customers, seeing how far we can go before they leave us. It surely has nothing to do with the lead application programmer slamming things into the system after it has been tested and approved by Quality Assurance. Certainly our clients appreciate that we are using the latest technology even if our system is as slow as a Vic 20 and, well, doesn't always exactly work on fundamental items. I mean, seriously, if you type in an account number in a search window do you really expect that hitting the ENTER key will make the application search for the account? That is SOOOOOO last year!

If you were such a company you could A) Listen to your employees who were telling you that there were problems with fuctionality and usability and fix these things before release or B) Put the thing in place anyway and after clients complained and threatened fly five or six of them to Chicago to personally air their grievances but make sure you put in another hurried release the weekend before so that you'll be surprised by additional bugs while face to face with your most important clients.

Guess which one we picked?


This morning being a Monday I decided to celebrate with two extra Snoozes. Normally when I go into work twenty minutes later than normal the roads are 238% busier than my normal time due to school buses and soccer-mom vans. Due to a two hour delay such cars were absent. This and the recent goofy yahoo headline made me start thinking...


I figure that if the gaia tree huggers were serious about their love -o- the earth they wouldn't support forced busing/integration via diesel chugging yellow buses or all the precious oil that is burned in transporting our precious imps to and from the public institutions of brainwashing. But then they'd have to be responsible for personally brainwashing their own children and what about those poor children whose parents believe in all the wrong, conservative things and would never have a chance to be corrected by government employees?

So it's time for them to choose... their earth or forced indoctrination.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

If they weren't serious I'd laugh

My homepage is the Yahoo home page (even though I was using Google when it was in beta I'm currently anti-Google) so I get to read loads of headlines.

Until I saw the one for today: Divorce Hurts the Earth, Too

I wish I were making it up. It turns out that when couples divorce there are now two households which use up more water and electricity and... No, I told you, they are serious! They also tell married people not to get smug (a trait normally associated with liberals) about being green because hippy communes are also very earth-friendly. No, really. I am not making this up!

See for yourself.

Thoughts on the Way To Work

So there I was, walking to work at 7:35 AM on the south side of Berry Street heading west (my stalker likes details) and I'm trudging through about two inches of fresh powdery snow. The traffic is hushed and not in it's usual rush, instead plodding carefully along at a respectful pace so as not to disrupt the peace.

As I'm walking through the fluffy stuff my thoughts turned to the miracle of snow. God didn't have to give us snow but instead He blessed us with weather you can play with. Before I left for work I brought up the box of gloves, hats, and scarves that have patiently waited since last year, knowing that today the kids would be excited at playing outside. And rightly so. It truly is a miracle as a child to wake up and see the expected front yard magically transformed into a white playground. Want to make a snowman? Want to slide down a hill? Build a fort? Go right ahead! Fun is free today, compliments of a benevolent Father.

On a lighter note, quite a few of us park five blocks from work and walk in. So it was my pleasure to track one of my co-workers in, following a trail of distinctive shoe-prints through the concrete jungle. Once in the office I identified the co-worker as Mike Jones. Being the true hunter that I am I shot him. Now I need to go skin and clean the carcass. If anyone wants to help I'll share some Jones Jerky with you!

7102 - it's been a bit slow

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Weight Gain?

Two great ways to control your weight over Thanksgiving:

1) Be pregnant and nauseous
2) Get a cold and lose all appetite the day after
3) Eat only giblets

Melynda picked option 1, I picked number 2. The cold wasn't severe (no need to send cards or flowers but e-mails notifying me that you've sent an anonymous e-card are encouraged) but it's given me an unusual dueling pain around the kidneys. Saturday night left me unable to sleep and my sleep-deprived brain conjured up the possibility that the pain was the result of pnemonia. A quick check of the Encyclopedia Britannica (I'm old school) found no trace of fever. Shoof! Sunday night I woke up at 2:15 wondering if perhaps it was a kidney stone. Fortunately I fell back asleep and didn't waste any time on it. We all know that back pains during a cold are the natural result of cold germs taunting our kidneys with miniature cocktail spears.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Kids- Don't Read This

With all the media-worry concerning toxic toys via China this year a lot of parents are unsure of what to do... buy presents that may later be recalled or cause harm to their bubble children? What to do... what to do...

As for me, I'm not going to buy any toys. Instead I'm getting each child a large vial of curiosity-encouraging science-satisfying mercury. It's a gift they can play with for hours and never grow bored.


Monday, November 19, 2007


I picked up a book at the library that I've been wanting to read for a while, Psycho by Robert Bloch. While there I read the first few pages and thought it was a bit familiar but since I'd seen the movie and read a detailed book on the making of the movie I figured it was probably something along the lines of the introductory paragraphs of the novel being quoted in the "making of" book.

But I decided to check my dorky list that I keep of all the books I've read. Sure enough, I read Psycho a whopping twenty-one months ago. The last time I did this was, er, this past summer where I re-read a book I first read back in 1998. What's that Bible verse about looking at yourself in the mirror and instantly forgetting what you look like?

Friday, November 16, 2007


For some reason this struck me as extremely funny and I sat at my desk stifling laughter until I blew a corpuscle.

Politics... BLECH!

"Fort Wayne already has the highest pay level for mayor in the state of Indiana."

Yes, even higher than Indianapolis. Even more than the Governor of our state, both of whom earn $95,000. But that won't stop the just-elected not-in-office-yet official-politician Tommy Henry from potentially getting an 8% raise of $10,000 when he takes office while other non-union city employees (council members who approve the raises) a 3% raise. It's interesting that in 2006 our current mayor asked for a raise from $104,504 to a whopping! Our lovely council, many of whom thankfully got voted out, didn't give him his hearts desire, just $15,496 of it. The position already paid more than Indy and the Governor!!!!

No, there's no corruption or collusion in the Summit City. Fortunately the recently elected members of city council are (so far) still too tied to the people who voted them in so it's unlikely that they will approve the raise.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Post-Voting Blues

It's a week after the elections and most of my top candidates lost. I seriously think I jinx candidates by supporting them. My only bright spot was that Crawford got voted out of the city county at large spot. The man voted worse than any liberal and called himself a Republican. The biggest issue was voting to rescind the rights of business owners in making decisions about their own businesses (a.k.a. the smoking ban). I thought the Constitution guaranteed such rights but I must have been mistaken.

As a consolation prize, please contemplate this picture from the past.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Election Day!

Today is Election Day and they expect low turnout in the Fort Wayne area. Not to toot my own horn but I'm an avid voter. I vote whenever I can. I vote early AND often. When they have primary elections and you read that only a few people voted, I was one of those few, walking into the desolate voting precinct, just me and six volunteers.

Then comes the regular election and suddenly there's throngs of people and I can to stand in line behind these schmoes who couldn't be bothered to fritter away their time to vote during the primaries. Now they're wasting MY time by stumbling through the voting process and oggling the donuts set out for volunteers.

To better serve our regular voters (that would be me) I hereby suggest that everyone who votes in the primaries be issued a FASTPASS ticket. Then, come regular election day, they can present the FASTPASS and move to the front of the line!

Monday, November 5, 2007

78 and Comfortable

I love music and I love keeping track of things in databases. By extension, I love (see every-changing grid at right) which keeps track of the music you listen to and gives you rankings and similar artist lists to aid you in finding more of what you like.

One "trick" you can do is to take your top 20 artists and click on each of their links. Each of these have a list of ten or so similar artists. Write down the top five similar artists for each of your top 20. Remove any duplicates. The number that results in your Eclectic Score. Oooooo! I ranked 78 out of 100 which is pretty durn high. If it weren't for all my prediliction for John Denver I'd probably be in the high 90s.

Too Little, Too Late

While we are both exquisitely happy with the shrimp percolating inside her we both wish the child had been conceived off-the-grid. Then we could be trendy and hip and yet still old fashioned.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tag Team

In conjunction with an entry from my wife here's Shining.

Friday, October 26, 2007


I hate it when I think my spidey senses are tingling but it turns out it's just that my leg is asleep.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Beware the PHANTOM!

Tonight I thought I heard strange music coming from the basement. Odd, I thought, since it was 2 a.m. and everyone was asleep. Did I leave a radio on? Being the cheapskate that I am I didn't want to waste the electricity to power a radio all night (street value 3 cents) so I got out of bed and walked through a dark house, down two flights of steps and into my workshop/music area. Lo and behold (fo shizzle too, for that matter) but what to my wondering eyes did appear but the Phantom of the Hoffmans playing my keyboard!

The music was bewitching and I did my best not to make a sound, part in fear of being discovered and part in fear that the music would end. The Phantom finished the piece with a flourish and then, proving he knew I was there all along, slowly turned his horrible glowing eyes my way, hissed a hair-standing noise, and then disappeared into thin air.

* Parts of this story may be fabricated. The part of the Phantom may have been played by Matthew who I actually did find playing the keyboard in his costume. And a.m. might have been p.m.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Table Saw Saga

For over a week the Amazon web site has shown that my table saw has been sitting in Chicago with an estimated delivery date of Oct. 11 to Oct. 16. Yesterday came and went and no table saw graced my garage (that there's alliteration).

So last night I used the Amazon Customer Service option which is kinda freaky. You enter your phone number for Amazon to contact you and the instant you click on the OK button your phone rings. Spooky.

It turns out that the table saw has been in Fort Wayne since last week but they haven't been able to reach me at my work number. I guess entering my extension or using the keypad to enter my name is not within the realms of trying to contact a customer.

But shipping was free so unless it took a month (currently it's only at half a month) I don't have much room to complain. The saw will be delivered tomorrow by a team of white horses and tomorrow night I get to cut off the obligatory finger. YEAH!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Order In The Court

Having loads of music on your PC allows one to, say, listen to your collection sorted by song length. I've been at it all morning and am just up to 0:55. A large part of this is due to having three CDs of Bartok's short piano pieces for children but I'm also getting to enjoy songs by Mr. Rogers and "Jingle, Jingle, Jingle" from some Rankin and Bass Christmas special.

Okay... I admit it... I'M BORED... BOOORED!

But at least I'm not a Googins.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


At my work we just added a new client who just happens to be named Googins. Just like the words "gravy", "wombat", and many others, for some reason I find this name highly amusing and cannot keep myself from using it frequently throughout the day.

"Honey, please pass the googins."

"I would have made the light if it weren't for those googins."


"Where in the googins did I put my googins?"

"Few things hit the spot like googins and toast on a brisk autumn morning."

"My googins is in the shop. Can I borrow your crustacean until it's back?"

"Anybody seen the googins?"

Monday, October 8, 2007


You know those ceramic Chia Pets? Ever wonder what would happen if you took just one of those wee sprouts and nurtured it?

My apologies for not taking this picture earlier when there were lovely cornflower blue blooms.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Yes Kids, It's Freaky Video Time

< MOVIE PREVIEW VOICE> In a world where most bands are lucky to get played six times, this amazing band has managed to hold his attention for over six months < / MOVIE PREVIEW VOICE >

Is it the accordion? The 50 gallon drum in the percussion section? The twisty aggressive rhythms? The dramatic compositions? The barrage of sounds? One thing.. it certainly isn't the Hot Topic Goth lyrics.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Because the smell nauseates members of my family it had been two years since I made and ate the delicious treat known as Tuna Noodle Casserole. In fact, I ate too much. Almost as much as that time when I had chipped goat on pumpernickel after a five year hiatus.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why We Don't Get The Newspaper

Yesterday while waiting at Pios for my pepperoni to be sliced I started reading the story on the cover our local newspaper, my attention having been caught by a headline of a local property tax cut for 2008: Tax cut likely as city levy frozen. Those in Indiana will understand as taxes for many rose sharply last month. Mine was only slated to go up a paltry 34% but I talked them down to 8%. Sheesh.

The story (see below) goes on to state that instead of increasing property taxes for 2008, as our beloved corrupt mayor wants, they will most likely use the same painfully high tax rate as 2007. I may only have a public school education but this is most certainly not a tax cut. The liberal paper is trying so hard to spin a positive Democrate message out of this that it's ridiculous. The 2008 tax rate was not even official, and yet by not raising our taxes for 2008 we have somehow gotten a tax cut.

That's like a bully saying that he gave you a sandwich as he takes your twinkie because originally he was going to take your entire lunch.

They want me to pay money for news like this??!?!

< stolen article >
Fort Wayne residents should see a drop in city property taxes next year after the City Council unanimously approved a flat tax levy for 2008.

The council Tuesday approved a proposal from Councilmen John Crawford, R-at-large, and Tim Pape, D-5th, to cut Mayor Graham Richard’s proposed property tax levy by $3.7 million. The levy is the total amount of property taxes collected by a government.
With the cut, the city would collect the same amount of property taxes next year that it will this year: $99.4 million.

Controller Pat Roller estimated the cut would mean the owner of a $100,000 house in the city will save $15.50 in city property taxes next year. Richard’s proposed budget would have meant a $3.38 increase in city taxes for the same home owner.

Taxes will drop even though the amount collected remains the same because the overall amount of property taxed is expected to increase through appreciation and new construction. The more people who pay the same bill, the less each one pays.

The cut, however, was challenged by Roller. She said it would lead to the emptying of the city’s cash reserves by 2012. If the council approves a proposal to begin saving money to pay off $226 million in unfunded police and fire pension liabilities, she said the cash reserves will run out in 2010. Roller also said several financial factors remain unknown for next year’s budget, including how much income tax revenue the city will receive.

The council also unanimously approved about $1.3 million in spending cuts, including removing the money for 10 police officers and five firefighters. Crawford, who authored the cuts, said they reflect the two departments’ history of having open positions and spending less money than budgeted. He said the council would likely approve more money if staffing levels were higher than normal.

The cuts in spending, however, don’t match the cut in revenue for the city, meaning the city will have to make further cuts or dip into its cash balance to pay for the difference. Pape said the easiest way to make government work more efficiently is to give it less money to operate.
“Do you really think there isn’t any more excess, fat or performance to be improved upon?” he asked. “This is not risky. This is not irresponsible.”

Crawford said the city also has an estimated $40 million in a trust that will come due in 2009 that can be used to pay off obligations if necessary.

Pape said he hoped cutting the amount of money available for city government would again spur discussions on how to combine like departments with county government.

Councilman Tom Hayhurst, D-4th, said the cut was a good way to show taxpayers the council is responsive to their concerns about rising tax bills. Many on the council said they have heard from residents how rising property tax bills are hurting them.
< /stolen article >

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

And the results are in...

The Jet 708315LSB. It's got the belt drive for greater accuracy, a big'n'wide table, doesn't weigh 287 pounds like the other finalist and is $300 less than the other finalist. Sure, it may have the crappy motor that may only last 5-7 years (hopefully more as Jet is a fine maker of tools) but even if it does I can buy one very nice replacement motor with the money I've saved. It's a gamble but I'm just crazy enough to try it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Decisions AHOY!

Like most guys in their mid-thirties with a mortgage and family, 98.2% of my income is allocated for things that have the purchased: mortgage, food, utilities, home repair supplies, payments to the mob, and caulk. I'm not complaining, just stating a well documented fact.

But a few times a year I get the luxury of making a NON-REQUIRED PURCHASE! Now is one of those times. Normally my selection is a non-required piece of music gear. Earlier this year I bought two drum machines from a co-worker: an Alesis SR-16 and a Roland R8. Sure, I still had my trusty Casio RZ-1 and the ten drum banks on my jammin' Yamaha consumer keyboard, but he only wanted $100 for the both of 'em and I could sell one on eBay make nearly $100 so it's like it was free, right? Well, all three drum machines are now enshrined in my music area, chomping at the bit to be the one used for the two or three songs I record each year. Despite that I have yet to fully learn how to program the incredible sounding R8 (used by seven out of ten 80s new wave bands) I have no regrets on this transaction.

When I'm not buying superfluous drum machines I usually have a piece of gear that I pin my hopes and dreams upon. For the last year it's been the Behringer DSP2024P effects processor. Sure, I already have reverb and echo and chorus and flange and LFO oscillators and... Well, this thing also has spring reverb and aural exciters and expanders and a few other tricks up it's sleeve... and again at the magic price of $100! I even went so far as the buy the bolts and nuts to install it in my effects rack. But it's difficult to justify such an extravagant, frivolous purchase when the car needs brakes or the co-pay of a monthly medicine is $35 or the property taxes/car insurance are going up again.

However I am currently at an important junction... I have the necessity to purchase an item that also falls into the "fun loud guy toy" category: the table saw. I've been using a Sears bench top version for about fourteen years. Seven years ago the motor burned out and the replacement motor was almost as much as buying a whole new saw. Seven years seems to be the magic number because when I turn my table saw on these I smell ozone. I did a bit of work yesterday and two hours later I walked into the garage and the ozone was still thick and palpable. The writing is on the wall that the motor is not long for this world.

The conundrum is that I could buy another $100 motor. Or another $120 saw. Or I could even upgrade to a $200 saw with a larger table and more accuracy. But there would still be the seven-year time bomb ticking away under the hood. No, the question is do I spend a little now and get the same mediocre quality along with the knowledge that I'm only renting the tool or do I invest my money instead of just spending it, taking the plunge to finally buy a beefier saw that comes with a beefier price tag but will last until my beefcake body is speckled with liver spots.

This decision, along with which saw will eventually entice my bank account, will require much rumination, consideration, and self-discovering therapy. The effects processor will have to wait...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Or maybe it's just a new video from Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. This creepy, changing instrumental is a favorite of mine from their latest album and much more indicative of their sound than their earlier video.

The Widening Eye

Friday, September 14, 2007

Looks Just Like Me

My daughter Lyndi drew this a bit ago... it's what I would look like if I had my neck stretched out with those brass rings.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

So Many T-Shirts, So Little Time

While putting away laundry the other day I realized that out of the five drawers in my dresser, four of them are given over mostly to T-Shirts. That’s a lotta T-shirts, especially when I realized that I haven’t purchased a T-shirt in years*. So where do they all come from?

Well, the few that I had purchased about five years ago were solid colors and probably a size too large. No words or pictures or designs. A tabula rasa that refuses to divulge personal details to strangers.

I have a number of shirts purchased for me by my wife and kids for father’s day or just for fun: The Beatles circa 1964, Underdog, Napoleon Dynamite, an aardvark. From my sister is a very cool Mickey Mouse shirt in black and red, given to me back in college and she couldn’t understand why if I liked it so much I didn’t wear it more often… now in worn thin tatters.

There’s a one of a kind hunter green with a white woodcut of Abraham Lincoln, still in great condition, a “proof” shirt from my days at The Lincoln Museum over ten years ago. There’s also a grey one that has fared less well.

Let us not forget the Mr. Peabody T-shirt from my grandfather for Christmas. This was the year that he ordered everyone’s gifts from catalogs, in retrospect a sign that his aging lifestyle was slowing down even further.

Various other shirts now used for painting and working on the car… one with a train on it, one for a long-defunct band Frog Hollow- a gift from a high school teacher who was also a friend when I went to see his sons band (the aforementioned Frog Hollow) and he was indirectly asking my opinion if his son was wasting his life away pursuing music instead of a college degree- various shirts that I forgot or was too lazy to change out of before painting or working on a project, now doomed to a decaying life of paint streaks and oil circles.

The few concert T-Shirts are packed away for archeological studies in the year 2105, most notably an Alice Cooper shirt from his 1987 tour. Possibly saved is a gorier one from his 1988 tour (both of which narrowly missed being eBayed with I needed some cash a few years ago). Most likely gone is a Welcome To My Nightmare shirt that I had custom made in 1985 at the Woodburn County Fair, tagging along with Brad Owens, the best guitar player I knew. Also MIA is a custom made Fluid Imbiber shirt with artwork penned up in that plastic fabric pen gunk, a nearly sheer (it came that way) yellow beauty from the Baa Baa do Sheep Manure company, and the shirt for Adam Again’s album Dig.

Speaking of “not in the drawer” is a T-shirt of my dad’s business, Hoffman Nursery, framed and hanging proudly in the basement alongside a shirt from my father-in-laws business, Davis Construction.

Perhaps I should mention the asterisk above… the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum T-Shirt purchased just this past summer as part of a “package” with their latest album for just a few dollars more. It’s a very dark green and the smallish design is in black so you can barely see it. But sometimes I wear it, a vain hope in my head that some other SGM freak will be hanging out at Lowe’s and befriend me. So far nothing but there’s always Home Depot.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Tax Dollars At Work

I took a nice walk over lunch, perusing the downtown of our lovely city. My journey brought me to a four-man concrete crew that was replacing a section of sidewalk that I'm almost certain was just poured at the beginning of summer. Even stranger was the other city utility employee waiting on the sidelines, shaking cans of yellow and blue paint, just itching to spray water and gas marks on the wet concrete.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day

The girls stayed up until 12:30 last night, the boys didn't come over as planned, and I woke up at 8:00 regardless of my resolution to sleep in late.

But the crabbiness has been very minimal, I got a bit of work done around the house, and I finally got to do something with Melynda that we've been wanting to for years. Yep, we rode on the River Greenway all by ourselves for a full six miles going from Anthony almost to the park between Fort Wayne and New Haven - a dream come true. The sounds and smells and sights reminded me of days at my dads and it was a great adventure that we'll surely remember as we sit in the parlor of the olde age home. A good time was had by all and Neale Carr preached a brief Bible message.

Now it's 8:00 PM and we're all exhausted, sticky, full of mosquitoe bites, and rested from an enjoyable Labor Day.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Hello. My name is uvulapie and I have a problem.

So there I was, watching a VHS tape on the last five years of Bela Bartok's life, and they were playing bits of his Concerto For Orchestra. This astounding piece has always been a favorite of mine but having not heard it for a few years, hearing the melodies and anticipating the music to come actually made my heart beat a tad faster, an affliction that has also occurred with some Sleepytime Gorilla Museum songs, but I digress. Oddly enough, I accidentally "discovered" Bartok's Concerto For Orchestra when I bought a CD with Lutoslawski's work by the same name after hearing the local orchestra play it and the CD just happened to pad out the album by throwing on the Bartok piece. But I digress again.

Also on this video was excerpts from Bartok's Third Piano Concerto. While listening to these I found myself wondering why it didn't sound even slightly familiar to my ears. I rushed (okay, it's Saturday afternoon so I did my usual drunken crawl) to my collection and sure enough, I owned it on a CD with his other two piano concertos. Picking up the album I realized that it was still in it's shrink wrap. I need help.

Bartok Midi.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Case in Point - FREE MUSIC!

Everyone likes to get (non-ticking) packages in the mail. Every so often I arrive home to find an unexpected tan package with my name on it and free music inside. It used to be that a lot of companies would send me their albums but these days that I'm not as aggressively reviewing music there are only a few who send me albums for review. One of these that still sends me music is Inside Out Music, a label that specializes in progressive rock music.

Such was the case yesterday.

Three albums forming a mixed bag. The most promising is The Hemulic Voluntary Band by Ritual, a Swedish group who really, really love the earth. But the delivery is coated in effusive melodies and organic instrumentation (in addition to the usual rock stuff there's piano and flutes and pan flutes and other pastoral flotsam) and dramatic Freddie Mercy-like vocals that make the icky medicine go down easier. And to be honest, by Al Gore/Unabomber standards they are barely environmentalists. I really enjoyed their first two albums and so hope to enjoy this one.

Also included was an album by Riverside whose first album sounded like modern radio gaga. It gets one listen and if it fails to grab me, it's gone.

Last is the newest by The Flower Kings. Lots of bands I like love this band but despite repeated listens to many of their albums over the years... nothing. I don't have high hopes for this one either but it will get one, maybe two listens before being stacked neatly away in storage with Riverside.

One out of three ain't bad!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Last Watermelon

My darling wife is sitting next to me eating a piece of what might possibly be the last watermelon of the season. Sure, we could take out a loan on the cat and buy a melon in December but they aren't as juicy or ice-cold-satisfying in the middle of a (Northern) Indiana winter.

It's not easy to write a blog post with my darling wife sitting next to me offering editorial comments on every sentence. That's why I'm glad her mouth is full of the delicious last watermelon of the season.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


There are many perks to writing music reviews... you can often schmooze free CDs that you would have paid for anyway (and get them before the release date), you get paid cash dollars that come in handy in exchange for goods and services in the United States and abroad (especially good for bribing Mexican officials to turn their heads while you escort a pack of llamas over the border in the dead of night), and sometimes you get music for bands that you didn't know existed but eventually come to overhaul your entire musical world.

But this here entry isn't about the positive. Nope. It's time to be NEGATIVE! Because sometimes your editor gives you local albums to review. And sometimes these are decent, good for a few listens. Of the hundreds of local albums I've reviewed less than ten could compete with a national release. Sometimes it's the production that holds it back. Often it's the lackluster songwriting skills. And almost always it sounds like two or twelve bands currently being played to death on the radio. Knowing that these local bands and their fans comprise a good part of the advertising dollar for my unnamed print publication I do my best to find the good and write what is in essence a glowing press release that will be read almost exclusively by the band's parents and girlfriends. Everyone is happy and I get to pocket my payment and my pride.

Only once did I give my true feelings about a band in undisguised verbage... really, they deserved it and I found the experience quite cathartic... and the editor politely asked me to be more polite.

But today I am faced with another difficult task that has reared its head a few times in the past: reviewing an album by an artist who is extremely well known and loved in the area but whose music I find bland and without any uniquely defining characteristic. Somehow I will pound out four-to-five hundred words of tripe using my boilerplate and everyone will be happy.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

More Music Stuff (snore)

I just listened to Ben Fold Five's Whatever and Ever, Amen for the first time in a long time. For some reason, the album just opened up for me. While it wasn't the first time I've enjoyed the album with headphones I'm sure this helped in making the bass sound leap out and meaning of the songs suddenly pop into focus. I mean, I subconsciously knew most of the lyrics and had a general awareness of what each song was about but this time everything clicked. And then there was hearing and appreciating all the nice touches like clarinets, cellos, brushed drums and upright bass. It's about as much fun as one is allowed to have at work.

While I'm not a rabid Ben Folds fan I sincerely believe that he is a master songcrafter. The man can write melodies and put a song together like few peers. Plus you add in his penchant for melancholy melodies and I'm there. Now that he had kids he's going the route of the family friendly soundtrack, which in most ways is good. I mean, his early habit of throwing superflous swear words into his songs did help in marketing him as "angsty" and "Not Your Fathers Piano Player" but in the long run they did little to service the song. And anyone who knows me knows that I'm all about servicing the song. I have no clue what that means.

Or possibly the illumination comes from me switching to WinAmp because Windows Media Player 11 doesn't work with Last.FM and WMP version 10 doesn't work my "operating system"... although they played well together last week before the latest Windows update.

Contest For Stuff

My dahlink wife would simply LOVE to win one of these purses... and you can to, or maybe you can buy a purse from her fledgling web business. Or maybe you can even read her blog.

Heartwarming Holidays

It's almost as if Santa whispered into her ear: "On Christmas Eve I'm going to come down your chimney AND EAT YOU! Kinda looks like he means it, too.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


If you have a memory longer than mine you'll remember the pictures of our garden and the amazingly massive tomato plants. Well, they've exploded in ripeness. I think in the last three or four days they've cranked out close to thirty ripe tomatoes. We ate quite a few, maliciously tossed a few at transients, and then decided to make spaghetti sauce. It isn't easy to find a recipe that calls for fresh tomatoes (and I'm sick of typing the word "tomato" so from here on out I'll refer to them as goats) as most call for canned goats or small rodents or tofu goats. But I found one in a slow cooker recipe book (that THAT internets) that did us quite nicely. So the other day I spent an hour skinning and seeding and slicing ten or twelve goats to make a double batch, letting it simmer all night and into the next day. Today we are on our second double batch of goat sauce. There are still about twenty more goats in the garden threatening to ripen but when they do, we'll be waiting but probably not for more sauce... most like we'll turn them into BLGs.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Matthew received a volcano kit about, oh, eight months ago. On-the-ball parent that I am I figured it was about time to mold a volcano and set it off. Then we realized that this kit allows you to make UNLIMITED VOLCANOES (extra plaster of paris not included). The kids each made and painted their own volcanoes (see photos below).

Then it was time to add the secret ingredient... FUN! AND CHEESE!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Swirling Eddies

Possibly the most disturbing video ever from my pals, The Swirling Eddies.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Fun In The Country (With Ticks)

Okay... here are the videos. I guess I should remember that even though I'm recording the video on a digital camera that turning it sideways (a common technique in photography) doesn't translate well to video. So while watching a couple of these feel free to turn your monitor on its side or lay down on your own side. DO NOT lay down on someone else's side without getting written permission.

This one also played "Mr. Tambo-Urine Man" and other great hits of the 60s. I almost begged the manager to let me tune it.

A pity more of the instruments weren't allowed to play.

Flea, Jaco Pastorius, Les Claypool ... eat your hearts out! Tim Chandler... yours is in the mail.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Fun In The Country (Without Ticks)

My lovely wife and I recently enjoyed an evening at a Bed and Breakfast in Berne. Part of our trip, well, most of our trip involved visiting Bear Creek Farms where the buffet is reasonably priced and the clientelle use their AARP discount.

But there are other things. Wonderful things. Spoooooky things.

There are a few museums and stores on site as well. Our favorite was (drum roll please)...
Once inside visitors are treated to a wall of giant beer cans and a wall of giant pulleys, all behind giant protective glass.


You also get:

But best of all was this lonely box sitting upstairs. BEWARE! DON'T LOOSE THE BERTHA ACCORIDON!

There were also a number of clockwork musical instruments. Yes, video was taken and will be available soon. I know all three of my readers are itching with anticipation and should probably go purchase the appropriate ointment or check for ticks.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Meant To Be

My wife is a notorious blogger and often gets tagged to take quizzes from other bloggers. One recent quiz was to find out what Jane Austin female character she is most like. She scored Elinor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility:

As Marianne's older sister, Elinor lives at the other end of the emotional spectrum. She rarely reveals her intense feelings and is more concerned with being honest and loyal than having what she deserves. Even though her intentions are pure, she sets herself up for loss by constantly placing other people before her own needs. Overall, Elinor is gentle and rational but is just as capable of radical emotions (despite her withholding them) as her sister.

She's just taking their word for it because, try as she might, my lovely wife is not able to choke down more than a few pages of Jane Austin before erupting with "WHY DON'T THESE CRYBABY NINNIES STOP STABBING EACH OTHER IN THE BACK?!?!?!" and putting the book back on the shelf.

I then took a quiz to find out what Jane Austin male character I am most like and scored Edward Ferrars:

Edward Ferrars from Sense and Sensibility is one of the most awkward characters you'll come across, but it's endearing once his better qualities come out. He's devoted, extremely true to his word, and gentle.

I'm taking their word for it because, try as I might I could not choke down more than a few pages of Jane Austin during high school before erupting with "NOTHING IS HAPPENING!!!! WHY ARE THEY ALWAYS JUST TALKING?!?!?" and turning to the Cliff Notes.

As it turns out, our characters fall in love and get married to each other in Sense And Sensibility. *sniff* True love...

Friday, August 3, 2007

Decisions, Decisions

Tomorrow I'm going to be doing a bit of work at my church, framing a small wall and installing a twelve-foot high barbed wire electric fence to keep the commies out. Most likely I'll be there for a number of hours and most likely I'll have the entire building to myself. Which means I'll bring along my trusty BOOMBOX to provide distraction and time expedition. The question remains as to what albums to bring. I'm pretty sure that if they heard Sleepytime Gorilla Museum I'd have quite a bit of 'splainin' to do even after the got the tongue-in-cheek lyrics. It doesn't help that my church is the headquarters for the local Bach appreciation society so I'd probably have the same amount of 'splainin' if I brought in Ives or Prokofiev. This pretty much leaves Burl Ives Sings The Hits Of Godsmack and Wing.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sweeping the Nation

In have a discussion with Mr. Shumway (see blog links at stage left) about a mutual past acquaintance, I wrote a line of which I'm mighty proud. So before I fall under the weight of my own pride, allow me to present the catchphrase of August 2007:

He certainly has jumped headfirst into the empty concrete pool of liberalism.

Increase Your Gas Mileage By 9%!

I just increased my gas mileage by 9% by switching to GEICO!

Or by fixing a collapsed brake line that prevented my right rear brake from fully opening. Since I don't drive all that much I estimate I just saved myself about 2.25 gallons of gas a month, or a whopping $6.75. While fixing this it was necessary to replace the brake pads, the rotor, the bracket, the caliper (maybe didn't need to on that but I was on a roll trying to figure out what was wrong), and the line. Doing the math I found that I'll make my money back in just over two and a half years. After that I'll be rollin' in dough and plan to put that extra $6.75 per month to work for me, possibly by investing it in pinto bean futures.

Friday, July 27, 2007

yeah, yeah, yeah... more music talk.

So my pea brained one-track-mind was wondering what my favorite albums were a decade ago. Since I'm such a music dork (and a dork in general) that I have all my music cataloged on a handy-dandy database (plus ratings to prove I am an ultra-dork) this was an easy task. Until I discovered that either 1996-1997 were bad years for music or that it existed but I've yet to find it. Sure, I owned quite a few albums from those years but only a few were decent enough to rate a nine or ten... and none achieved the lofty rank of 11.

PFR put out a best of album which made the list. The Choir, at the end of their touring days, put out Free Flying Soul, an excellent albeit dark album. They Might Be Giants released the excellent Factory Showroom and Ben Folds Five issued Whatever and Ever, Amen. Sir McCartney also graced us with Flaming Pie, which was about as consistent as he is able. One final great release was The Neverhood Soundtrack by Terry Taylor and friends.

Ten years ago seems like forever. Rich Mullins and Gene Eugene were still alive and musically active. Kevin Gilbert had just passed away. King's X and Galactic Cowboys has just moved to Metal Blade records and were learning how to make great albums without a great producer. Ben Folds was still part of Ben Folds Five.

One wonders what bands will still be around, what cherished musicians will still be alive, in 2017.

To go along with this nostalgic and morose post, kindly enjoy the live video of a strange but thoroughly enjoyable band Black Moth Super Rainbow. Listen once and find yourself confused. Listen twice and find yourself hooked. In case you are wondering, they are singing "I want to be with you in the summer time" and "We miss you in summer time."

Monday, July 23, 2007

TMBG update

It's growing on me... even the Flans songs. Better than The Spine.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Our local school system just asked for, oh, half a BILLION dollars for repairs and enhancements. The taxpayers collected signed petitions against the irresponsible proposal by three to one. Of course instead of backing politely off after seeing the huge tidal wave of response they insisted that the city count and verify (and pay for the counting and verifying of) all 40,000+ signatures. So now it's back the drawing board for the school board.

One thing they are considering is actually looking at trimming the fat from their budget (GASP!). The below is from the WANE TV web site:

Next, is looking at the capital projects fund, which is what the school district normally uses for improvements, and figuring out how to get more maintenance money from it, possibility by reducing the $8-million used for racial balance.

"If the capital projects fund is so drained, we need to look for another source or reduce the budget. That $8-million will go a long way to fix buildings without any borrowing," said school board member Jon Olinger.


What "racial balancing" can cost eight million a year? Forced busing? It really makes you wonder what other pork is crammed into the budget that could be used for, oh, teacher salaries, air conditioning, or any of the other things the school board said they desperately needed.

Since our schools are failing so miserably in math (and English and science and...) how about I help them out a bit. They wanted to tax the taxpayers 500 million and pay it back over thirty years (to the total tune of about $840 with interest). Hmmm... $8 million per year for thirty years is $240 million! All they need to do is find another "racial balance" in the budget and they're set!

Monday, July 16, 2007


For those of you not "in the know" TMBG stands for They Might Be Giants, who just released their 12th album this past Tuesday. Sure, I could have bought it online about a month ago but this band, once cherished at the top of my fanboy list, has lost quite a bit of footing.

It's my theory that TMBG does albums in thematic pairs, perhaps unconsciously but it makes sense in my twisted little mind. The Pink Album and Lincoln were both very heavy on the experimental/Greenwich Village angle - good, slightly underdeveloped, but very enthusiastic. With Flood and Apollo 18 they removed the "underdeveloped" while keeping the enthusiasm and adding loads of guests in the studio to give their keyboardy sound a more organic rock feel. Also while touring for these albums they realized that they needed a band and so went out and bought one. John Henry has TMBG in full rock mode, feeling their oats with this new power behind them and pretty much gleefully flying through loads of great songs. Factory Showroom is also solid and full of rock but with a bit more whimsy.

Then bassist Graham Maby (one of the most inventive bassists on the planet) left and the Giants brought in "The Band of Dans" and started working on soundtracks and stuff, taking a break from studio albums while Linnell worked on his family. With Mink Car, their first album in five years, the band turned in a bunch of lame ducks surrounded by a few inspired tunes... and even those has been previously released on an EP. Three years pass and The Spine comes out and it's little more than a bad caricature of themselves. Eight years is a long time to wait for two mediocre albums. Around this time, however, the band puts out two very good children's albums. And it should be noted that their EPs, with the exception of any Dust Brothers remixes, are always in excellent form.

So we've got two experimentals, two developed, two rock, two stinkies, and two great childrens albums. Their latest, The Else is playing for the second time for my ears so it's too early to tell if it's any good. My fingers are crossed. I'd really hate to demote this much-cherished band from the "buy anything they put out without listening" to "check it out first" status.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


My dad just gave us some fresh catnip for our cat, Dippy. As this cat is an unusual beast, full of social inclinations with other felines and fond of chewing the heads off chipmunks, I was curious to see how this tough-guy would act "under the influence."

But I think our cat has a past he hasn't disclosed. When offered the stuff he took one sniff and walked away. Again I lured him in, a single sniff, and off he went. It's almost like he's had his problems with The Nip in the past, gone through detox, and now knows enough to stay away from it. Or maybe he's on Nipabuse and fears the side effects.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

If you're reading this you probably know me and probably know that music is an extremely important part of my life, causing me to spend vast amounts of time and money searching out new, exciting, and inspiring music to feed my soul and mind. Every few years it seems I hit a lull and become bored with the standard fare. Three or six or nine months later after I've given up hope of ever finding anything new under the sun suddenly a new band will explode my ears with a sound or ideas that was inconceivable to even imagine, at least to my wee mind.

The last time this ennui happened was a few years back and the band that brought new life was Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. Imagine the music of Bartok interpreted by amiable and articulate but clearly insane gardeners wielding electric guitars, industrial percussion, a orchestra-quality violin, and a few homemade instruments. Their sound is organic (no studio gimmickry here) and constant changes in tempo, mood, dynamics, and rhythms abound. All this would be your standard prog-metal except they always incorporate catchy melodies (no matter how rugged the foundation) and exhibit huge amounts of pathos.

Their third album recently came out and I was hoping against hope that they wouldn't let me down by releasing tripe. They didn't. I devoured the album and have mostly memorized every word, melody, and rhythm. I was also puzzled as to their choice of song to release as a "single." While every other song has varying moods and thematic development, "Headless Corpse Enactment" is almost straight forward black metal. Yes, artistically done, but still very heavy and dense. It fits in quite well in the flow of the album, nestled in between two lighter pieces, but to put it out on it's own seemed a very odd choice.

Today I found out that they have a video for this song. While watching and enjoying the video (including the hints of their dark humor) I realized that not only don't I know the words to this song but I can barely understand or even recognize them. A quick check revealed the reason: They are lifted out of James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake.

So sit back, make sure you're sitting down, realize that lighter moments abound in the rest of their songs, and do your best to sing along with "Headless Corpse Enactment":

The oaks of ald now they lie in peat yet elms leap where askes lay. Phall if you but will, rise you must.

A hand from the cloud emerges, holding a chart expanded. The eversower of the seeds of light to the cowld owld sowls that are in the domnatory of Defmut after the night of the carrying of the word of Nuahs and the night of making Mehs to cuddle up in a coddlepot, Pu Nuseht, lord of risings in the yonderworld of Ntamplin, tohp triumphant, speaketh.

Of all the stranger things that ever not even in the hundrund and badst pageans of unthowsent and wonst nice or in eddas and oddes bokes of tomb, dyke and hollow to be have happened! The untireties of livesliving being the one substrance of a streamsbecoming. Totalled in toldteld and teldtold.

Ascend out of your bed, cavern of a trunk, and shrine!

Vah! Suvarn Sur! Scatter brand to the reneweller of the sky,
thou who agnitest! Dah! Arcthuris comeing! Be! Verb
umprincipiant through the trancitive spaces! Kilt by kelt shell kithagain
with kinagain. We elect for thee, Tirtangel. We
Durbalanars, theeadjure. A way, the Margan, from our astamite,
through dimdom done till light kindling light has led we hopas
but hunt me the journeyon, iteritinerant, the kal his course,
amid the semitary of Somnionia.

Too mult sleepth. Let sleepth.

The oaks of ald now they lie in peat yet elms leap where askes lay. Phall if you but will, rise you must

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Everything's GROWING

When we moved a few years back I had to figure out what to do with the height measurements that were marked on a door frame. One option was to chisel out the door frame and bring it with us. But the new owner was reticent to part with his recently acquired lumber, regardless of the fact that he just became the owner of many (them's was big words). So instead I sliced a 2X4 into a 2X2 and moved the measurements over, girls on one side, boys on another, and, um, two blank sides for guests and livestock.

We would use said measuring plank every 4-6 months to record everyone's height. During the past few years everyone has had a chance to be the biggest grower during the time period... except Matthew. That is, until today when we found that he grew a whopping one and one-eight inch in the past four months, finally pushing him half an inch over the four-foot barrier! Please note his many watches... the boy is a collector!

Just Tomatos
Also growing are our tomato plants. After trying to start them from seed (what were we thinking?!?!) we broke down and bought five from ye olde Walle Marte: three Brandywine, one German Heritage something heirloom, and a standard, generic tomato. There should be a warning label on these beasts because they've broken out of their cages, actually tilting them over in four of the five cases, requiring me to stake up the cages. As for that pesky German one, well, it definitely wants to join the Third Reich and take over the world, starting with our tiny garden. Not only has it's growth required a second cage but also a stake and various lengths of yarn to keep it from bothering the other countries, er, plants.

And finally a big hearty "YO" to Brooke and Joshua, seen here respectively enjoying the first bearably warm (instead of swelteringly hot) day of July.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Our taxes are going up $871 per year. Too bad eBay won't let me sell my spare kidney.

Remember the Coop

Those who know me know I'm a long time Alice Cooper fan. Those who don't know me are probably not reading this. Having recently completed his entertaining autobiography Alice Cooper, Golf Monster I decided to fill a gap in my CD collection by purchasing Lace And Whiskey, my record of the same album being stored in an undisclosed location for future generations.

His first solo outing, the groundbreaking Welcome To My Nightmare is, well, groundbreaking. 1976's Alice Cooper Goes to Hell is also quite good, an easy 9 out of ten with some outstanding songs. In 1978 he came out with the creepy From The Inside which had a couple -o- weak songs but was mostly loads of fun, being based on his time in detox before detox was trendy, an 8 on the Hoff-o-Meter. But between those, in 1977, was Lace and Whiskey.

My memories of the album were that it was, um, not all that good. There have been times when an album I didn't cotton to in my youthful days appealed to the older, more mature, more gray me (Mark Heard, anyone?) so I hoped that perhaps this might be the case. Nope. The few songs that I remember, "Hot Tonight", "You and Me", and "I Never Wrote Those Songs" are still solid. But the rest have got to make you wonder what the man was thinking.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Exciting Adventures in Filmland

In our endless quest to avoid talking to each other (joke), my wife and I have been working our way through Netflix. Last night we watched Unbreakable, director M. Night Shanana's follow-up to The Sixth Sense. Forget the fact that The Sixth Sense had a twist ending that was stolen from Carnival of Souls, that movie was beloved by the public and so Mr. "twist ending" Night was in demand in Hollywood. So he called up Bruce Willis and the girl from Forest Gump and decided to make another o' them picture shows.

This time out, in the shadow of Sixth you keep wondering where the twist is and if Bruce (I can call him "Bruce" because we're on a first name basis, what with him having attending one of my melba toast parties back during his Moonlighting days) is alive or dead. When the movie is over you realize that Mr. Twist is doing little more than trying to create a new comic book franchise. Which isn't to say that we didn't enjoy the movie (despite the sometimes hokey dialogue) or that it didn't occupy my brain a bit today. But most of what went on in my brain was not "how could I have missed that?" but rather that the movie was horribly misnamed.

I don't remember if Unbreakable broke box office records but how could it with a lame name like that? During the movie Bruce Willis is incapble of being hurt and goes around in a poncho righting wrongs. I am not making that up (see pictures). In light of that, I think that if the movie had been named PonchoMan it would have gone gangbusters. Too little, too late.

It also occured to me today that Bruce performed his feats of strength and psycho-histo-touchosis (incidentally stolen from Stephen King's The Dead Zone but with less blood and feminist dogma) ONLY when he was wearing his poncho. This may or may not be coincidence as he wore his poncho during most of the film but I earnestly put forth that it was not Bruce who was a new superhero but rather that he had somehow got hold of a MAGIC PONCHO, possibly left over from one of the Harry Potter movies. If this is the case then perhaps the film should have been called El Magico Poncho and His Subervient Man. The world may never know.

Also of interest is the director's theme of water. In this movie both Bruce and his arch-nemesis Mr. "Bad Haircut" Glass, are vulnerable to water. In his other movie Signs the aliens amazingly decided to try to take over a world that was 3/4 made up of the one thing that could hurt them... you guessed it, water. But it took the humans a number of days to figure this out, which makes sense (six of 'em) because they were too busy sitting slack-jawed in front of American Idol. In The Village water was evil and would turn you into a newt unless you received prior approval from the village elders and don't even ask about bathing (and if you look close you'll see Bruce as an extra at the party playing a kazoo). The Lady In The Water, well, that music just stunk so badly that it would have benefitted from a twist ending. Perhaps something about the ego-inflated director who happened to be playing someone who would write a book that would change the world meeting up with Little Red Riding Hood who happened to wield a tommy gun, but the tommy gun can talk.

And speaking of bad endings, another movie we watched was Ghost World which we enjoyed 95% of the way through. A great movie for Steve Buscemi fans... and you know who you are. Except the ending was so atypically unHollywood that for once you wanted a Hollywood ending where everything turns out peaches and cream. So Melynda and I each came up with our own endings the next day, endings that did not involve Steve Buscemi donning a magic poncho and lifting a school bus off of ten screaming orphans.

And of course, all this talk of ponchos reminds me of a classic post from the early, funny days of The Daily Journal, a blog before there was the term "blog".

December 19, 1998
There is no "real" logic behind the poncho that I always wear. However, it does create a certain aura about me. When the folks in the office see me getting coffee with my poncho on, they are perhaps thinking to themselves, "There is that mysterious wanderer who always wears the poncho. There are so many questions we have for him and yet we are afraid to ask. The coffee must warm his soul." Either that or they just scream out, "Hey, Poncho Freak, don't drink all the coffee like you did yesterday!" like they always do.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Bugs Bunny

Right now I can hear the familiar strains of Bugs Bunny coming from the other room. On some days when all the kids are together there's nothing like the comatose-inducing flicker of a DVD to get them to calm down. But at least it's something of quality (and supreme violence) like a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Even though they came out decades before I was born I feel like these classic cartoons are mine, having grown up with them on channel 55 back when it used to show black and white movies during the afternoon (and were the only thing on during sick days from school besides soap operas so you subliminally grew to love old movies), well before there was a FOX network to homogenize your viewing pleasure. But I digress.

So the kids are experiencing some great Bugs Bunny cartoons like the one with Pete Puma ("How many lumps do ya want?" "Oh, three or four.") and the hairy monster that Bugs shrinks. I also subject the kids to Leave It To Beaver. Lyndi, my youngest, says she hates anything in B&W but you'll always find her eventually sitting and watching with the rest. Brainwashing at it's best.

Oh, happy 4th of July! Vote out all encumbants, throw all lawyers into the sea, states rights, etc. etc.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Feeble Beginnings

My lovely blogging wife has signed me up with my own blog. Up to this point I never had any kind of urge to blog. Still don't. But I suspect it's kinda like that weird sweater you got for Christmas from your Aunt Unibrow, you know, the one with the frolicking emu. It appeals in some odd way that you know may become a cherished gift, something you wear for job interviews under your suit, causing you to sweat profusely due to it's woolen nature. Then you start to itch and eventually you are so distracted that you can't even hear the questions the interviewer asks you so you mumble something about bacon. Of course you don't get the job so it really shouldn't be considered a lucky sweater, but it is.

Which is to say, thank you, lovely and talented and beautiful wife, for the gift of Blog. One day we shall unite our creative forces and become the next Burns and Allen, except we'll be Hoffman and Hoffman. Or maybe just Hoffman squared.