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.