Any thoughts or theories on this?

I'm not Mr. Online or anything, but over the course of a year or so I received fairly regular vitriolic, threatening, and/or generally hostile e-mail responses to a fanboy fiction story I wrote that was published online (I received more positive responses than negative, I might add). The story had a theme of race in it, which every "negative" response seemed to totally, utterly misread.

Is it possible that people who send these kind of violent, threatening cyber communications are, quite simply, fucking idiots?

I hope that's the case but somehow I think not.

(slapping self on forehead)

Remember last week when I updated the blogroll? I totally forgot to add Axis of Evel Knievel. Because I am an idiot.

Now the green grass grows

Wobblie's latest installment of Punk Rock Monday reminds me of a thought I had last night while listening to Ritual de lo Habitual. Wobblie wrote about The Pixies that, "While I can listen to every single track on every single album they released, it's obvious that Surfer Rosa and the Come On Pilgrim EP are head and shoulders above the rest of the catalog."

I think that's about right. What I was thinking last night was that although there was a time when I would have told you that my favorite Jane's Addiction record was the live album, or maybe even Nothing's Shocking, it seems obvious to me now that Ritual is the best of the bunch. I guess I used to have trouble believing that a record could both be ridiculously popular and awesome.[1]

Just to throw some controversy into the mix, let me add that I think Check Your Head is the best Beastie Boys album.

1 This even though I was one of the people who started listening to Jane's Addiction on the basis of the radio single from Ritual. I can even tell you where I first heard Been Caught Stealing. It was in Joe6Paq's car on the way back from selling plasma (or maybe on the way there). I didn't see the video until years later, but I understand that the kids liked it.

The innocence of youth

Here's a fun game: what did you write in junior high that would be most likely to get a student arrested nowadays?

For my part I'm pretty sure that it's the short story I wrote about the guy who had such bad luck that every time he stepped on a plane somebody hijacked it. The story that actually got my pops called in for a parent teacher conference, though, was a comic piece called A Day in the Life of a Mass Murderer. I'm not really sure why I thought serial killers were funny, but it might have had something to do with this.


Saturday sporting thread

Item:: Playoff games on NBA TV? Unacceptable.

Item: JaMarcus Russell is the second coming of Ryan Leaf and I'm excited to see that he'll be failing for the Raiders.

Item: I think we can all agree that the worst draft choice in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs[1] was Todd Blackledge, but who was the best? Among players currently on the roster the choice seems to be between Tony Gonzalez (13th pick in 1997) and Larry Johnson (27th pick in 2003). Will Shields was a third round pick in 1993, Dave Szott was a seventh rounder in 1990. Neil Smith (2nd in 88), Derrick Thomas (4th in 89), and Dale Carter (20th in 92) should probably all be in the mix as well.

Item: The Detroit Tigers will have a great season if they can figure out a way to hold leads in the late innings.

1 - I know, I know. If I had my way they'd rename the team 'The Monarchs'.


(Un)like father, (un)like son

I can't recall which class I read it for, but I believe Money by Martin Amis was the only book in it that I actually finished. Recommended. This is my first post in a good long while, and I'm just testing, bloggy blog testing...and tipping you off to a good article in the New York Times Magazine about Kingsley and Martin, the Amis authors. I wonder what it's like to be so close to one's father that one can recount information like the following with authority:

That Kingsley was an enthusiastic drinker and philanderer (someone who “lived for adultery,” his son says) was well known to most of his British readers, who watched with amusement or dismay as he turned himself over the years from a handsome young socialist into a monstrous caricature of an old buffer: fat, reactionary, alcoholic, rude and intolerant. He grew so devoted to the queen (who knighted him in 1990) that he had erotic dreams about her. They usually began, Martin says, with Sir Kingsley attempting to paw the royal chest and Her Majesty protesting: “No, no, Kingsley. We mustn’t.”

When I get paid I'm gonna get me some dope stupid gold



Reader participation Wednesdsay, "how lossless is lossless?" edition

Items needed: A reasonably good stereo system capable of playing cds and accepting input from an iPod, an iPod, iTunes, a couple of cds.

Step One: Using iTunes, import a couple of tracks using the Apple Lossless Encoder. Be sure to pick tracks that you know pretty well and that exhibit a variety of sonic qualities.

Step Two: Put those tracks on your iPod (duh) and hook it up to your stereo (duh dum).

Step Three: Simultaneously play the encoded tracks and the source cd through your stereo, occasionally switching between sources and comparing the sound.

Step Four: Post your results in comments.

I tried this with Well, You Needn't off of Steamin' With the Miles Davis Qunitet, which is pretty much my go to track for testing stereo equipment. I found that while neither source had great flaws (no clipping or anything like that), the encoded track lost quite a lot of detail. This was especially noticable on Miles' solos, which were missing the breathiness that makes Miles' tone so remarkable. Also disappointing was the way that the encoded track rendered Paul Chambers' string bass solo. What was there was fine, but on the cd you can hear the sound of the notes reverberating within the bass, and that was entirely gone from the encoded track.

My understanding is that the Apple Lossless Encoder uses an algorithm that predicts, on the basis of what sound is being produced now, what sound will be produced not very long from now. I don't really see how that saves space, but whatever. Given my results, I'm left wondering if the algorithim just has a particularly difficult time with acoustic music because of the way that the notes trail off.

Reader participation Wednesdsay, annoying science reporting edition

I can't quite decide which paragraph from this article is more annoying.

Sample A:
There's still a lot that is unknown about the new planet, which could be deemed inhospitable to life once more is learned about it. But as galaxies go, it's practically a neighbor. At only 120 trillion miles away, the red dwarf star that this planet circles is one of the 100 closest to Earth.

The first problem here is right on the surface. Planets and galaxies are different sorts of things that exist on different sorts of scales, so telling me that the new planet is 'practically a neighbor' for a galaxy doesn't tell me anything at all. But then things actually get worse, because now my curiosity is piqued. How far away is this new planet? Oh, 120 trillion miles. What the hell does that mean? Just that if I were to drive I'd have to fill the tank 400 billion times and if I were to fly I'd get a bunch of free round trip tickets. Twenty lightyears is the right answer. Six parsecs also would have been acceptable, but only because I'm a geek.

Sample B:
Until now, all 220 planets astronomers have found outside our solar system have had the "Goldilocks problem." They've been too hot, too cold or just plain too big and gaseous, like uninhabitable Jupiter.

And now we see why the article had to be so dumbed down. The only cultural knowledge that the reader is expected to have is knowledge of fairy tales. Let me suggest, though, that Goldilocks' real problems only began after she found porridge that was just right.


Rove Probed

"We're in the preliminary stages of opening this expanded investigation," Loren Smith, a spokesman for the special counsel's office, an independent investigative and prosecutorial agency, said Tuesday. "The recent suggestion of illegal political activities across the executive branch was the basis we used to decide that it was important to look into possible violations of the Hatch Act."


Links, links, links

Item: It's time to make some additions to the blogroll. Please update your lifestyle accordingly.
  • Seasonville is graphic, bracing, and occasionally revolutionary.
  • The blog previously known as The Blog and presently known as That Cagey Girl will be known on the blogroll as Ksenya.
  • For the sake of consistency, the blog titled For Real Things I Know will be blogrolled as Solomon.
  • And then there's Mike Bader, who should rename his blog The Constitutional Robot.
  • Lastly, so this isn't just all people I know, I'm throwing up True Hoop.

Item: Speaking of the blogroll, several of the blogs over there seem to be moribund, so I'm removing them. Farewell to Confined Space, dailysoy, Fall of the State, funferal, Malcolm Gladwell, House of Labor, Glenn Greenwald (which I know just moved to Salon, but that's death to me), january girl, Running from the Thought Police, and Strip Mining for Whimsy

Item: There are a number of movers on the blogroll, some of which are shakers. The blogroll has been updated accordingly.

Item: I came across this video when clicking through to Uffish Thoughts for the first time in awhile. How could I not post it?

Item: I added a link to Jazz Discography Project under Useful Stuff because it's freaking awesome. Also, I eliminated the link to The NY Times Link Generator because the Times now makes it possible to get a permalink for any article.

On the spontaneous generation of applesauce

What Scott Lemieux said.


Nothing to see here

One of the finest moments comes when Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., busts out a big, big chart. Which happens after almost everyone has gone home. The chart compares the Clinton protocol for appropriate contacts between the White House and the DoJ on pending criminal cases with the Bush protocol. According to Whitehouse, the Clinton protocol authorized just four folks at the White House to chat with three folks at Justice. The chart had four boxes talking to three boxes. Out comes the Bush protocol, and now 417 different people at the White House have contacts about pending criminal cases with 30-some people at Justice. You can just see zillions of small boxes nattering back and forth. It seems that just about everyone in the White House, including the guys in the mailroom, had a vote on ongoing criminal matters. |Lithwick|

Everything is applesauce




A retraction

I don't know what universe I was in when I wrote,
I feel bad making fun of John Derbyshire, as he tries very hard (and usually fails) to keep The Corner anchored in something resembling reality
Whether it's thinking that the captured British sailors should maybe have broken free and taken the whole country, or that one of the VaTech victims should have gone all John McClaine on dude's ass, or whatever, he's proven to be the crack-smokinest one in the bunch. I must have caught him being sane about social security, or something, and drawn the wrong conclusion.

Sound, fury

When I bought a Judas Priest cd a few months back, a one time sound tech guy friend of mine took one look at it and told me that I had made a terrible mistake. You see, I'd bought the digitally remastered re-release and, he said, that particular remaster was notorious for the way that the sound had been fucked up. I'm pretty sure this sort of thing is what he was talking about.

So I guess I'm convinced. But what should I, music consumer that I am, do about it? Is there some kind of directory to tell me which remasterings to avoid, or should I just avoid them all? My casual acquaintance with the audiophile press suggests to me that while they do publish music reviews, they rarely publish reviews of music that I'm interested in listening to.


And the prize for most reprehensible response to the Virginia Tech shootings goes to...

John Derbyshire.

The runner up: Petey.

Can you say distinction without a difference?

From CNN.com's review of the new Tolkien novel:
But they were truncated and contradictory. Outside of Tolkien scholars and Middle-earth fanatics, few read them.

Speaking of the literature, a friend of mine is helping to put together a lefty sci-fi convention in Chicago this summer. I'm thinking about going, and I know that Neal is intrigued. Any other geeks out there?


You bet your ass this is safe for work

Whatever you do, don't anger the bees

We haven't yet discussed Colony Collapse Disorder on this blog. Better late than never, though, so, let's take the emergence of a new hypothesis about CCD's cause as an occasion to dive in. First, what is CCD? I'm glad you asked:

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when a hive's inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers, like so many apian Mary Celestes. The vanished bees are never found, but thought to die singly far from home. The parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a colony dies, refuse to go anywhere near the abandoned hives.

The alarm was first sounded last autumn, but has now hit half of all American states. The West Coast is thought to have lost 60 per cent of its commercial bee population, with 70 per cent missing on the East Coast.

CCD has since spread to Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. And last week John Chapple, one of London's biggest bee-keepers, announced that 23 of his 40 hives have been abruptly abandoned.

News articles about CCD are ritually accompanied by a quotation from Einstein:
The implications of the spread are alarming. Most of the world's crops depend on pollination by bees. Albert Einstein once said that if the bees disappeared, "man would have only four years of life left".

So, that, in short, is what it is. This new theory is that it's caused by cell-phones:
The theory is that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees' navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up.

They are leaning on one small study which showed that "bees refuse to return to their hives when mobile phones are placed nearby." But the immediate question that comes up for me is why this began in the U.S.

Cell-phone networks enjoy much greater coverage and penetration per acre in Europe than they do in the U.S., and in Japan and Korea it is even higher. One would think that if these technologies screw with bees, the problems would emerge there first, instead of beginning in the U.S.

Let me toss out this question to our tech-savvy readers: Is there some bandwidth--or some new use of existing bandwidth--that is being rolled out in the U.S. and is just this year being rolled out in Europe? One that for some reason has not been deployed in Korea?

Or alternatively, is there a species of bee that is prevalent here and in Europe, while a different species entirely is native to Asia?

Oh, while were at it, there's another issue with the cell-phone hypothesis. So far it appears that "the parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a colony dies, refuse to go anywhere near the abandoned hives." Are they affected by the radiation, too? Seems unlikely.

Louder than a bomb

After disappointing out of the gate, Grindhouse collapsed 63 percent to an estimated $4.2 million. The hyped horror double feature from directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez limped to $19.7 million in ten days. |source|

I'm reminded of an episode ten or twelve years ago back in Manhattan, Kansas. A bunch of us went to see a midnight showing of Repo Man and we were the only ones in the theater except for a lone punk[1] sitting in the back row. About thirty seconds into the film the punk yelled, plaintively, "Where is everybody? This is Repo Man!"

1 Of the shaved head, white t-shirt, Doc Martins variety.


Public service announcement

There was a guy I knew who didn't watch Freaks and Geeks because he couldn't ever figure out what night it was on. Fair enough, but after it came out on DVD he didn't rent it, and never even considered putting it in his netflix queue. Do you know where he is now? HE'S DEAD!

Also, it would be irrational to assert that you KNOW that there isn't an invisible immaterial monkey sitting on your head

The latest from the fever swamp.


Chess makes man wiser and clear-sighted

Kasparov under arrest.


[First attested 1835-45; Origin uncertain]

1. A violent gust of cold wind blowing seaward from a mountainous coast, especially in the Straits of Magellan.
2. A sudden gust of wind; a squall.


Friday the 13th politics

You see, the president and his associates keep referring to historical events that never happened, at least not as they did in the fields we know. And they keep referring to the same ahistorical events. Over and over, the secretary of state and the (now former) secretary of defense have referred to guerrilla warfare in Germany after the Nazi surrender. But there just wasn’t any. You can’t find it in the history books or in the memories of people who were there at the time. My uncle was in Bavaria in the summer of 1945: no trouble. Secretary Rumsfeld repeatedly talked about the similarities between today’s Iraq and America after the Revolutionary War, but again, I’m pretty sure that there aren’t any. I don’t believe we found tortured corpses in the streets of Philadelphia every morning back in 1784. And why does President Bush keep saying that Saddam refused to admit those UN arms inspectors back in 2002 and early 2003? Why did Condoleezza Rice, in 2000, say that Iran was probably backing the Taliban, when in fact the two had almost gone to war in 1998?

Now some might say that these statements were just talking points—that is, lies—but I sure wouldn’t want to accuse anyone of lying. More to the point, there have been many ahistorical statements that are just strange and don’t seem to advance any particular political agenda. For example, when President Bush said that the Japanese lost two carriers sunk and one damaged at the Battle of Midway (instead of losing all four, which is what actually happened), who gained? When POTUS said that Sweden has no army (it does), what political argument was advanced?

We’re talking about the rulers of the most powerful nation on earth. It can’t be that they’re just pig-ignorant—of their own history, yet. There has to be a deeper, more subtle explanation.

Indeed. And the author's hilarious, and quite likely accurate assessment? They are from an alternate earth with a different history!

Read the whole thing for maximum funny, but here's a highlight:
The casual mention of World War IV strongly implies that these interlopers also had a World War III. They must have suffered greatly—maybe bombed out, likely short on resources such as oil. I would guess that those disasters irretrievably darkened their political perspective, just as our World War I left an entire generation embittered and disaffected. Certainly some kind of civilizational blight is needed to explain Vice President Cheney’s “Dark Lord” shtick.

Twilight Zone, via the splodinvark


The shape of jazz on my iPod

In his most recent column (someday this link will take you to it), John Marks takes on the project of, "'put[ting] together a short list of musical works or recordings that people should have heard at least once or twice, to satisfy the most basic requirements of cultural literacy in music for contemporary Americans." Marks' own preliminary list starts out with considerable promise -- the first four selections are Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, Willie Nelson's Red-Headed Stranger, and Miles Davis' take on Porgy and Bess -- but you know there's a problem when Bruce Springstein and Steely Dan both make the cut.

Leaving aside the essentialism and elitism inherent in the question, it's an interesting project. Also, there's a contest -- the reader who submits the most interesting list of 12 works wins a prize. I gave it a shot.

The result was abject failure. You're welcome to give it a try yourself in comments, but I couldn't make any headway on a list with only 12 entries. I even failed when I gave up on the broader question and tried to come up with a list of 12 essential jazz records. The best I could do is after the jump.
  • Saxophone Colossus - Sonny Rollins
  • Cookin' with the Miles Davis Quintet - Miles Davis
  • Jazz in 3/4 Time - Max Roach
  • Pithecanthropus Erectus - Charles Mingus
  • Ellington at Newport '56 - Duke Ellington
  • Django - The Modern Jazz Quartet

There are some great jazz records before '56 (Miles Davis' own 'Round About Midnight comes to mind), but 56 is the year when hard bop really came into it's own. Cookin' was one of four albums the quintet recorded over two sessions in 1956. They're all pretty short, and nowadays would have been released together. The others are Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet, Steamin'..., and Workin'.... Duke Ellington is the odd man out on this list, but his Newport performance is significant in that it signalled a renaissance that would ultimately include such masterworks as Jazz Party, Money Jungle, and The Far East Suite. Also, it's awesome.
  • A Night in Tunisia - Art Blakey
  • Blue Train - John Coltrane
  • Miles Ahead - Miles Davis
  • Thelonious Himself - Thelonious Monk
  • Way Out West - Sonny Rollins
  • Plenty, Plenty Soul - Milt Jackson

I'm not sure how I came across it, but A Night in Tunisia is the record that convinced me that postwar jazz could have the same kind of energy found in swing and dixieland. When people talk about Coltrane, the phrase you often see is 'cascades of notes', and there's no doubt that the cat can play fast. But it's also true that 'trane can play with as much emotion and feeling as, say, Lester Young, and Blue Train brings that quality to the fore. Lastly, the sessions don't fit the criteria for this list, but Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong recorded together several times in 1957, ultimately producing three records. My favorite is the first, Ella and Louis, mostly because it includes what I take to be the definitive take on one of my favorite songs, "The Stars Fell on Alabama".
  • Misterioso - Thelonious Monk
  • Cool Struttin' - Sonny Clarke
  • Somethin' Else - Cannonball Adderly
  • Soultrane - John Coltrane
  • Freedom Suite - Sonny Rollins

It's tough to pick a favorite Thelonious Monk record, but if I were trapped on a desert island and could only have one Monk track on my iPod, it would definitely be "Nutty" from this record. Maybe the best way to grok Monk's brilliance is to randomly listen to a selection of tracks from Misterioso and Cool Struttin'. Sonny Clark is a brilliant pianist, but his work just doesn't compare.
  • Kind of Blue - Miles Davis
  • The Shape of Jazz to Come - Ornette Coleman
  • Cannonball and Coltrane - Cannonball Adderly and John Coltrane
  • Mingus Ah Um - Charles Mingus
  • Time Out - Dave Brubeck
  • Giant Steps - John Coltrane

Oh my fucking God 1959 was a good year for jazz. If you, somehow, don't own any jazz or, somehow, think that jazz sucks, buy these six records and you will come to understand the glory. While you're at it, you should also pick up Ellington's Jazz Party and Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain, both of which were also released in 1959.
The 60s
  • My Favorite Things - John Coltrane
  • Ole Coletrane - John Coltrane (1961)
  • Money Jungle - Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach (1962)
  • GO! - Dexter Gordon (1962)
  • Out to Lunch - Eric Dolphy (1964)
  • The Empty Foxhole - Ornette Coleman (1966)

There's no question but that jazz lost something after 1959. In some sense, the seminal recordings of 1959 were a dead end. The form had been pushed to its limits, and what looked like a new direction was really just another step on the road away from the audience. And yet, the 60s produced at least three masterworks. Dexter Gordon disappeared from 1955-1960, and so GO! which would have fit most comfortably in 1957 or 1958 wasn't recorded until 1962. Coltrane's Ole Coltrane is an underappreciated classic. Trane's blowing on the title track is as far out there as anything you'll find, but the rhythym section grounds his playing and gives the listener something concrete to hold on to. Money Jungle is, simply put, the greatest work of jazz ever recorded. Ellington's staccato thumping of the piano keys demonstrates that he has digested the innovations of the 50s -- which is to say that he has understood Monk -- but doesn't distract from his unparalleled melodic sensibilty. Mingus, for his part, turns in a virtuoso performance that is unmistakably angry. And then there's Max Roach, who is somehow able to make his own voice heard while staying out of the way of those two marauding geniuses.

It must be said

Fuck Andy Stern.


Morgellons Desease update: attack of the nanotech

Find something slightly unexplainable out there, and soon it will be cited as evidence of every conspiracy theory on the planet. In no time, I'd wager, people will claim that it's the 17th-century creation of the Bavarian Illuminati. In the meantime, however, check it!
Morgellons Disease is an intelligently designed radio-receptive nanotech invasion of living human tissue

Nice intro. Farther down:
The preliminary findings were alarming. Morgellons Disease appears to be a communicable nanotechnology invasion of human tissue in the form of self-assembling, self-replicating nanotubes, nanowires, and nanoarrays with sensors.
The nanomachines which precipitate Morgellons Disease use the human host's bio-electric energy as one of their power sources. There is evidence that certain of the tiny machines possess their own internal batteries as well. The Morgellons Disease nanomachines are configured to receive specific tuned microwave, EMF and ELF signals and radio data.


As long as we're covering the extremely odd, please accept this classically fortean bonus post:

Frogs rain down on serbia!
He said: "A whirlwind has sucked up the frogs from a lake, the sea or some other body of water somewhere else and carried them along to Odzaci where they have fallen to the ground. It is a recognised scientific phenomenon."

As I discussed in our tragically missing archives, this phenomenon is not adequately explained. "Recognized" does not mean "correct." Where the heck are all the leaves, snails, sticks, pebbles, and so on that were also presumably sucked up by the whirlwind? Maybe they landed on another town.

Ducks up, geese down!

This is crazy but true:
From Morning Edition on NPR:
This is the morning that kids were invited to the White House for the Easter egg roll. The roll for Laura Bush includes reading a children’s book. It’s called, “Duck for President.” The first lady will read the story of a duck who takes over the farm, then runs for governor, and then runs for the White House. He wins after a recount, but Duck gives it all up to go back to the farm. The duck concludes, “Running a country is no fun at all.”

According to the book’s publisher, “President Duck,” who didn’t realize being president would require a lot of “very hard work,” ends up with “a very bad headache” before passing his duties off to his Vice President.

Sometimes, the jokes write themselves.

Indeed they do. Another line from the book I heard on a different news program:
"The duck gave speeches that nobody could understand, except for other ducks."

Watch this



Brew a pot of coffee, Martha, it's going to be a long haul

Here is my new, sinister plan to make the Bellman the number one blog on planet earth! Just keep posting and posting, and wait for the others to die off:
The number of new blogs isn’t the only thing that’s slowing down. The company reports that they’ve noticed a slowing in daily posting volume as well. Technorati was tracking about 1.5 million blog posts per day in March of this year, compared with 1.3 million posts per day from just a year ago.


Bachelor cooking 201

Three words: boil in bag.

Another post about Grindhouse

I'm with DR. I give it an unqualified WOOT.

Some further notes:

-- Megan and I had seen Jungle Julia billboards around town for awhile. I was perplexed by the ad campaign, partly because I couldn't make out from the billboard what station they were advertising. "What a poorly designed advertisement," I thought. Now, of course, it makes sense. I never saw the one pictured here, or I might have caught on since she's dressed like The Bride (or, of course, Bruce Lee). The one in my hood had her in rollerskates.

-- Speaking of rollerskates, it was cool to see Punky, who actually worked at the Chili Parlor, playing "Punky," a bartender at the Chili Parlor. Apparently Tarantino told a joke about Punky getting drunk and falling out of his truck when he appeared on one of the late nite shows. (I also have some good drunk-Punky stories, but unlike Mr. Tarantino, I have the good taste not to broadcast them. Unless you ask very nicely.)

-- Watching Grindhouse was a lot like seeing any old film at the Alamo Drafthouse. As I have seen both directors at the Drafthouse several times, I don't think it's a coincidence. Austin kicks ass.

-- What are we to make of this?

-- Lastly, from Wikiped,
The Canadian release of Grindhouse also featured a faux trailer for a film titled Hobo With A Shotgun. The trailer is the winner of Robert Rodriguez's SXSW Grindhouse Trailers contest and was created by Dartmouth, Nova Scotia filmmakers Jason Eisener, John Davies, and Rob Cotterill. Outside of the Canadian release, the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX also features Hobo With A Shotgun in screenings of Grindhouse.

The trailer was funny. Hopefully it will get included on the DVD release, so those not fortunate enough to live in Austin or Canada can see it.

Did I mention that Austin kicks ass? I guess Canada's okay, too.

The morale of the fleet continues to rise

On the classic Battlestar Galactica the Viper's stick has three buttons labelled "thrust", "fire", and "IM". Two questions:
  1. What does "IM" stand for?
  2. Doesn't forcing a pilot to stop thrusting in order to fire seem like a really serious design flaw?


You know what I'm talking about.

  • Robert Rodriguez received screen credit as his own chef.
  • On the whole, I'd say that I'm anti-pustule.
  • Even though I've liked all of his films, for some reason I'm always skeptical when Tarantino releases a new one. What's up with that? Lots of people must have similar reactions because Grindhouse didn't do well at the boxoffice.
  • Planet Terror isn't getting much love in the reviews, but I thought it was hilarious.
  • The character of Zoe was played by a stuntwoman named Zoe. That's pretty dang awesome.


Goodbye, James

This post is really just to test this cool ImgRed.com service, which you can read about here. But click on the image for the rest of the very funny comic. Also check out this comic.

Using ImgRed, you can also easily display a thumbnail:. It seems that the thumbnail attempt is just generating an error. I'm going to let it stew for awhile and try again.

But you gotta admit, it would be fun




I ain't tryin to round up drama

Here at the big bad grad union we've just finished up a semester long effort to modify the constitution (yawn) and raise dues (yikes!). In the end, we collected votes from 620 members and, naturally, they decided by an overwhelming margin to approve both changes. I don't think this news will mean much to anybody who isn't involved in the day to day affairs of a grad union, but let's just say that I'm extremely pleased and very tired.

We've also been working on this.


What we chat about: Living longer than Keith Richards

(Note to self: Spend less time chatting and more time blogging working.)

Oddly, the prospect of Keith turning 100 came up independently and virtually simultaneously in two separate chats. Regarding this:
"The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father," [Keith] Richards was quoted as saying by British music magazine NME.

"He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared," he said. "... It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive."


Reader poll

Grindhouse: Worth seeing this weekend?

For the foodies in the house


Morgellons Disease update

Via PR Leap ("Over 2400 companies use PR Leap to get free press release distribution!"), this little gem just came in:

Retired Elementary School Teacher Locked Up in the Nut House For Having Morgellons Disease

Marlene Gregor is a gentle, kind woman who has suffered from a disease called Morgellons, tells here story of how her family felt it best for her to have onsite psychiatric care because she was complaining of “bugs biting and scratching me”. The truth is, she did have bugs under her skin, along with lesions all over her body with multi-colored fibers protruding from them. She also suffered depression, ‘brain fog’ and deep bone pains that no doctor could diagnose.

This horrifying and fascinating disease affects thousand of people in the United States and globally with major concentration of victims in California, Texas, Florida and Oregon. However, many physicians do not recognize Morgellons as a disease and are diagnosing the victim as Delusions of Parasitosis.

Whenever she would see a doctor, and she saw many, they would tell her “it is all in your head”. Marlene knew differently. She began to take a “clustered silver” product that drove the bugs out of her body. She could actually see them exiting. Her depression began to fade along with her brain fog. Her energy returned. And just when she thought she was over the hump, her husband and daughter had her committed, by court order, to the psychiatric ward of their local hospital.

While in the hospital, she convinced her neighbor to smuggle treatment into the hospital where she continued to heal. Marlene spent 4 weeks in the hospital and when she was finally released, nearly all of her Morgellons symptoms were gone. Marlene believes that it will take time to rebuild the trust that was broken between her and her husband. For the moment, Marlene is functioning well without the horrible symptoms of Morgellons consuming all of her time and attention. Marlene plans to produce a video telling her story to the world so that that it will bring hope to those who continue to suffer from this dreadful disease.

Her story and the video will be the second featured on www.MorgellonsHope.com, a site dedicated to supporting Morgellons sufferers, and their friends and families. Jeff Sohler, the site’s founder states, “Morgellons really is the first Internet disease. We felt the best place to support sufferers and bring more awareness to the disease is through this medium. Eventually this awareness will spill out to other areas, and the disease will get the research funding it needs. Of equal importance, its sufferers will be taken seriously and stories like Marlene’s will become a thing of the past.”

MorgellonsHope.com is an on-line Community dedicated to supporting sufferers of Morgellons Disease. The site features the Latest News, Articles, Pictures, Videos, Blogs, Case Studies, a Forum, GeoMap, Product Information, links to just about everything Morgellons on the

Yeah, it does just trail off at the end like that. The only alterations I made were the bolding on some of the more ludicrous sentences.

Mostly B-Z list blogs will be affected

Earlier today, I read all about how A list blogs really need links from D- list blogs (via which was via) so in the spirit of community I beg you to follow this link to Mathew Yglesias' blog. Alternately, you could just follow this link and go directly to Alanis Morissette's performance of "My Humps".


"wildlife" s/b "rat"

While walking to work this morning, I noticed[1] the following written on the side of a Waste Management garbage truck:
Our landfills provide 17,000 acres of wildlife habitat

A casual look at the company's website suggests that my snarky reaction may be unwarranted. Then again, it'd be pretty easy to fool me.

1 Due to the uncommonly aromatic smell.
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