Wednesday, November 30, 2005

New 5.1 goodness

The other night the One Big Loud Guy came by with disc five of the Beatles Anthology. The documentary has a few segments where a full song is allowed to play with some video for you to watch. The video is either footage of the band recording, playing live or doing Beatle things if no live footage or studio footage is available. The music tracks are remixed in 5.1. You have never heard I am the Walrus until you have heard it in 5.1 goodness. It's like hearing the song for the first time again.

What I don't understand is why the Beatles catalogue has not been released on DVD audio. I'd buy that shit. If Don Henley's End of Innocence can be given 5.1 treatment why not then the Beatles? How about some Hendrix? Some Tom Waits? Shit, anything except the dang Eagles.

By the way I did get a chance to listen to the Flaming Lips 5.1 mix of Yoshimi and it was incredible.
OK, that's enough of that

Umm...time for a new book. This one will be a children's fantasy novel.

Skordongo: Lord of the Monkey People

Long before there were big people, the little people flourished. The little people lived in trees and ate what the Maker provided for them. They were happy and lived long fruitful lives, except for criminal monkeys who stole. They were executed at the zenith of every full moon. All other monkeys, though, lived obliviously happy lives since they were monkeys and didn't pay much attention to anything that didn't involve acquiring food or pleasuring themselves.

Skordongo, Lord of the Monkeys was different. He had many other monkeys that acquired, prepared and served him food. He had a wide variety of other monkeys that pleasured him at all hours of the day (except when he was too sore). He had a comfortable bed and was never cold and rarely was he ever too warm. He was allowed, then, to cast his mind out like a net and ponder the mysteries of life.
Smooching in the Bloody Stacks

Chapter One (continued)

While Roger was fixated on his Yahoo billiards game Bob continued to email his wife. The wife he thought loved him as much as he loved her and Roger combined. Not the wife that was plotting his murder at the hands of his boss/boyfriend. Bob paused in his email, he was stuck for a synonym for "ball wash." He had already used the term three times in the email to his wife and Bob was a believer in good writing. If you couldn't be creative, even in an email to the old lady, then why bother writing at all. He said this to Roger. Roger looked up from his Yahoo billiards game, which he was losing horribly, he couldn't goof off as much as he liked now that he was in charge of the monkey house.

"What?" He said.

"I said, if you can't be bothered to write well in an email then why bother writing at all?"

Roger looked at him for a second. "Don't you fucking have something you should be doing?"

"I'm writing an email to the wife."

"Yeah, I know. What number is that today? Five? Six?"

"Seven, but the first one was before we opened."

"We open at nine. You came in at 8:30 and were on the clock while writing that email."

"I love you."

"Leave me alone for a while, OK?"

Bob finished up the email and sent it off to his wife Becky.

Becky was at work also. She opened the recent email from Bob with a sigh. Email number seven was even more explicit than the borderline pornography he had sent earlier. God, she wished for the thousandth time, if only he was as good in the sack as he was in emails, phone calls and leering looks.

Becky was a fallen librarian. She was suspended and had her certification revoked the year before for screaming at a homeless man who wanted a toll free number for a milk bottling plant in British Columbia. In was considered one of the great flip outs in the history of the library system she worked for. Now she was a stripper at the Platinum Pooter on the west side of town.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

November Novel Writing Month

OK, I've decided to go ahead and start. I don't have time to register with the site because time is so short so I'll just start now. This is an erotic thriller set in a large library in a mid-sized city. The library is attatched to a high school. The book is called

Smooching in the Bloody Stacks

Chapter One

Bob and his boss, Roger, were playing footsie under the reference desk as they were simultaneously emailing Bob's wife. Bob was writing that about how he couldn't wait to get home and lay her down and Roger was writing about how he couldn't wait for her to wear Bob out tonight so she he could enter through the broken sliding glass door of their home and murder his underling and free the woman he loved from the insufferable nerd next to him. "The insufferable nerd with the tiny dingus," he thought and then typed. He saved the draft as a teenager from the school came up to the desk.

"Can I help you?" Roger axed.

"Yeah, um...which way is the restroom?"

"It's behind you..."

"...and to the left" Bob interrupted.

God, I hate when he does that, Roger thought. He bit his tongue and did his best to bury his rage. The times when Bob would interrupt him while he answered the simplest questions almost caused Roger to throw himself down the stairs in front of the desk in hopes of breaking his neck on the way down. Jesus, did this tool sitting next to him actually think he was incapable of telling a brain dead teenager how to get to the fucking men's room? Was it a contest he was playing with himself to see how rude he could be before being told to fuck off? It was illogical and had no answer. It just made Roger more anxious to whack the dill hole.

"Roger," Bob whispered, "You're hurting my foot."

"Oops, sorry. I guess we should stop for a while."

"Yeah, I guess so. You were pressing down so hard I thought you were going to break a bone in my foot."

"Sorry, go back to emailing your wife. I'm going to play Yahoo Billiards."

More to come. I bet you can't wait.
Quote book

"'Some of you are bad and kill other kinds of life. Others of you are good and protect life'

Thought I, is that all there is to good and bad?" - Cordwainer Smith

Yesterday I got my package from Amazon. In it was the book Science Fiction Quotations edited by Gary Westfahl. I like it although it doesn't have a single quote from Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny. It has a section on God and that's all that awesome book is about is god and faith. Strange, thinkest me.

One more. "Honor is only a label they use for what they want you to do, Chernon. They want you to stay, so they call staying honorable." - Sheri S. Tepper

OK, I can tell you would like another one: "There ought not to be anything in the whole universe that man can't poke nose into - that's the way we're built and I assume that there's some reason for it." Robert Heinlein

Monday, November 28, 2005

National Novel Writing Month

This is the second or third year in a row that I have seriously considered and then abandoned the notion of entering that National Novel Writing Month thing. Next year I plan on thinking about it again.

Friday, November 25, 2005

5.1 heaven

I've been thinking about it for a while and today I decided that it was pointless to have a DVD player and nice speakers and not have a receiver that has 5.1 capabilities. I was out farting around today and after I ate my brunch I said fuck it and drove to Best Buy and bought a Pioneer receiver. Holy crap, it sounds good. Band of Brothers has never sounded so good. The Lord of the Rings movies have never sounded so good. Football? It sounds good too (there were a couple of college games on and I checked them out for a few minutes). Now if I can just convince Wendell to go out to his car and get that 5.1 version of the Flaming Lips album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. I gots to hear that in 5.1 goodness.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Rock and Roll and Bittorrent

Thursday night me and a few friends joined up at the Tremont Music Hall here in Charlotte for a Drive By Truckers show. The Drive By Truckers have entered that hallowed space in my personal music pantheon of "must see" show. There are a lot of people on the "must see" show list. People like Tom Waits, Modest Mouse, Primus, Neil Young, Tom Waits, Kenny Brown and, of course, Tom Waits. The nice thing about the Drive By Truckers is that they actually come to my town at least once a year now. I think if you want to see Tom Waits you have to fly to Berlin once every five years.

How was the Drive By Truckers? It was as good as the last three times I've seen them. Every time I've seen them I've walked out of the venue thinking that the show couldn't have been better. They are just that good. If they ever come to your town you should go see them. They play rock and roll like it's supposed to be played: loudly and with a joyful enthusiasm. Of the five of us that went I was the only one that had seen them before. Three of them were blown away and raved as we left. Sam left early but I'm sure he had a good time. I guess I should email Sam and found out how he felt about it.

A day or so later an email came through on the Drive by Truckers email list that someone had posted to bittorrent a copy of the show. I've been wondering just how bittorrent works and I read up on it, got really confused, tried it, saw how it worked, realized it's just counter-intuitive and not all that hard. Bittorrent rocks. So far I've downloaded two recent Drive by Truckers show and Neil Young's performance at Farm Aid. Me happy.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Crash

The other night I saw the movie Crash with a friend and it was a strange movie experience. Parts of the movie were riveting, others were manipulative and boring. It was odd to enjoy and roll my eyes at a movie at regular intervals like a slowly revolving emergency light. It was obvious that they makers of this movie were trying to make a great movie about race relations in L.A. They made a movie that was interesting enough to not even consider turning off. At least they went for it, I guess that's saying something.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Isn't that nice?

I just saw in a news story that the president now says that debate over Iraq is good. This is just days after his pit bull Cheney was back in dissenters-as-traitors mode. Isn't that nice of Bush allowing that dissent and discussion is now good for our government? Truly, a great leader is emerging here.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Ebert and Oprah

OK, I saw this first on Metafilter but that don't mean I can't link to it also. Besides, I link to Ebert all the time and just because those sons a bitches at Metafilter beat me to it doesn't mean I ain't. I guess some time ago Roger Ebert advised Oprah to syndicate her show. I'll try not to hold it against him.

Isn't he a good writer?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Screwball

Coworker o' mind was just dealing with a screwy nutjob patron for about twenty minutes. You know the kind: the type of person who will sit in front of a computer for fifteen minutes and not even really try to do any research. They won't read directions, then get so flustered that they couldn't read them if they tried and after that come over to the reference desk and use you as a research assistant. Of course what they are searching for is usually something so crazy you cant understand what they want you to find for them or so obscure you don't have the resources in this state to find the information they need.

After this nutjob wandered off into the bathroom (which she is still in, by the way. What in the hell is she doing in there?) coworker o' mine turned to me and said "we should have some kind of craziest patron of the day medal to give out here every day." Then I told her about the "Screwball Flag" we had in telephone reference.

The screwball flag was designed and drawn by Tom. It was modeled on the flag you see attatched to the transmogrifed Daffy Duck in the old Warner Brothers cartoon. Now that I look at it, it wasn't designed by Tom. He just copied it onto a 3x5 piece of paper. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It still looked cool.

The Screwball Flag was attatched to a pencil. The rule was whoever had the current craziest person on the phone would take the flag and tape it to his or her computer monitor. This usually meant taking it off the monitor of the previous victim. I distinctly remember Tom pounding his desk one day and asking the room, "Where's that goddman screwball flag?!"
Criticizing lies about lead up to Iraq war is bad for troop morale

I was going to rant and rave about Cheney and Bush and this nonsense about their lies can't be lies if their lies were supported and/or believed by wimpy ass Democrats but Josh Marshall is better at it than me and he does it with less bile.

It still kills me that Cheney, the man who didn't want us to allow the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud because Bush was so on top of things (as was perfectly displayed by Hurricane Katrina), is now on the offensive, trying to defend his bullshit.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Me teach, you listen

Today, for the second time, I taught the beginning internet class here at my library. We offer the class at 9:30 in the morning. I work mostly nights now because my boss is an angel sent straight from heaven and when I have to teach this class at 9:30 on a Wednsday morning it's actually nice because I am generally more worried about getting to work on time than I am about teaching the class.

We have a handout we can use to teach the class and I seem to deviate from it almost immediately. Hey, it's the internet let's get hands on mices and start surfing. There was an inquisitive man with a British accent that kept interrrupting what I was saying and he took me further and further away from the handout. By the time I tried to get back to it they weren't interested no more in the handout or any lecturing I was attempting. Fine by me. I spent the last half hour just answering questions and helping people get unlost. Right as I was starting to show one lady how to open a Yahoo email account our internet died. It's hard to teach an internet class with no internet access when you've covered most of what's on the handout. Right as the students were getting comfortable and were hitting the free range internet the internet poops out on us. They drilled me with questions for a few minutes longer and filed out one by one.

I think the best answer I gave today was my description of a blog. One fella axed me about blogs and I compared a blog to that holiday letter some families send out. Instead of receiving a letter once a year you can check in on people you know a few times a week or a few times a day depending on how devoted you are to stalking. I also mentioned how there are people out there like Joshua Micah Marshall whose opinions I respect and I like to get their take on current events. He bought that. I did tell him that any yahoo in the world, like me, so you have to consider your source. Of course that is true for blogs and all web pages.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Ramblin' Guy

I did something I hadn't done in a while last night. I hung out in a bar and had a few drinks. Met a friend around 9:30 after work and had three Harps on tap and then went home. It was nice. For the last couple of years the only time I have entered a club or bar has been only to see live music. I used to be a bit of a bar fly in my twenties and it is nice to belly up now and then. I guess you just don't want to make a career of it.

I see that piece of crap president and his dumb-ass secretary of defense are dropping Democratic names as they defend the lies they told about going to war. Just because those democrats you quote don't have the backbone god gave an earthworm don't make your lies any more true. The most honest thing you could say, assmunch, is that you are a lying scumbag spoiled rich boy and your democratic opponents are wimpy wish washy flip floppers and none of you deserve the your elected titles. Something like that. Mmmm...anti-Bush bile.

I am still slogging my way through that Mark Twain biography by Ron Powers. Slogging is a bad choice. It's not slogging. It's just a big ole rich book that you can't fly through. It's capital.

The library had a staff day on Friday. Man, was it long. We got there at 8. It started around 8:30 and we got out of there around 4:15. Too long. It's unfortunate that they kept us sitting around listening to speakers for such a long time because a lot of what was said was interesting and helpful and motivating. It just would have been nice if they had cut out a lot of the chaff and kept us there for a reasonable amount of time. I don't want to be a negative Nancy but that's a hell of a long time to be sitting on your but passively listening to speakers. Ug.

I went for stroll this morning around 9:30. I've been trying to get back in the habit of walking a few times a week. I was being so good about that up until the last year or so. I don't know what my deal is. I think I may be fatter than I ever have been before. I'm a house. A boat. A land monster. I was really feeling the burn on that last hill today. Yikes. I thought my calves were going to blow out on me. I would be really embarrassed if I had to crawl down the sidewalk on Park Road for a quarter of a mile. At least I got to listen to the new Constantines album on the headphones. Man, I wish that band would come to town.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Ancient technology

At my work station at work the computer I do a lot of work on is running Windows98. That's right, the last work station in America running Windows98 is mine. I inherited the computer from one of our computer people who has been demoted and sent to another branch. I had forgotten how Windows98 will lock up on you randomly. You can just be typing away at some email or Word document and then nothing. Everything freezes and the dreaded blue screen of death appears. Lovely. I can't wait until the day we get our computers updated. Please god, let it be soon.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Yikes

So I was just doing dishes and listening to the Giants-Vikings football game and I heard a commercial for AOL. The tagline: "Want a better internet? You deserve AOL." I'm still laughing.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Weird

Yesterday when you looked out the window while sitting at work you saw that nice warm soft autumn sunshine. You saw leaves blowing across the street in the blustery wind. You saw some trees full of color and others half full of color since much of the foliage had hit the deck. I know you said to yourself, mmmm...fall weather. Then you stepped outside during lunch and it felt like summertime in the midwest. You gotta love fall in the Piedmont. One day it's 75, the next day it 60. Then 70, then 50, then 65, then 72 and then there will be a freeze warning. If you travel here in November bring a sweater, a jacket and shorts.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hey Robert, What about a Led Zeppelin reunion?

"We were a boy band and I’m not a boy anymore. I prefer my career to have a bit of dignity now" - Robert Plant
Howdy

I finished the new Kurt Vonnegut book today called A Man without a Country. It made me sad, made me happy, made me think and made me laugh. It's short, you can read it in about two days. You'll probably want to go back to it occasionally. I think that's the best thing you can say about art.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Tabloid Hell

As you know we here at All You Need is Blog attempt stay out of the gutter. We keep the language foul but our topics are always as highbrow as possible. Not today, baby. As you are probably aware a couple of our local NFL team's cheerleaders got busted in Tampa Bay for lesboing out in a club bathroom and then starting a fight when women in line for the bathroom stall they were in asked them to hurry the hell up.

That's not the funny part. What killed me was that the team had posted bios of each cheerleader on its webpage. One of the questions asked of Angela was what is the "best thing about being a Topcat." Her answer: "Friendships." Insert punchline here.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Dropping Whoppers

I saw in a news story today that Bush declared that we do not torture people. Of course he is working from his administration's redefinition of torture. What he don't consider torture most civilized people do. What might make you view this remark with incredulity is the fact that this numbskull is threatening to veto a military spending bill with an amendment that would bar any prisoner in U.S. custody from being treated inhumanely. But we don't torture people.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The long wait

Yesterday I spent hours and hours waiting for my car to be repaired. I don't have to tell you how much that sucked. The repair shop is on N. Tryon Sreet and there is a bridge nearby that has railroad tracks running under it. I've crossed this bridge many times and I've noticed you can see the rail yard that is northeast of downtown. I've wanted to take a couple of pictures of that area for a while now. Since I had a bunch of time to kill I wandered down there and took the following picture. I took a few more but the all look pretty much the same.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

They was this time, you know

I had this grandfather that died in 1977 right around the time Elvis died. I was nine years old at the time. He died of a stroke just a few months shy of his 79th birthday. I never realized until much later that he was a good deal older than my grandmother who had turned 60 that year. Their marriage wasn't one of those old-time Little House on the Praire marriages. He was her second husband and she was his second wife. They didn't meet until he had retired as a fireman in Detroit and moved to northern Michigan. They met in a bar. They met sometime in the fifties because my Dad met his future stepfather while hitch hiking as a teenager. He was skipping school that day. He admitted to admiring this man because he did not turn him in even though he guessed pretty quickly his young passenger was playing hooky. In a way my Dad is Tom Sawyer but I don't think he knows it.

My grandfather's name was Ed. He was the first old person I ever knew well. Around the time I knew him as a man in his seventies the rest of my grandparents were in their late fifties. I remember him as being a big solid old guy. Like a gentle offensive lineman. The kind of man whose home people would congregate if the world started to end. "Oh shit, aliens have landed and they've nuked Detroit and Grand Rapids. Let's get on over to Ed Zimmer's place and see what he wants to do."

I have snippets of him. Little hazy memories that have lasted almost thirty years. He made the best pancakes in the world. Any pancake you have ever had pales compared to the piles of manna he would slap on the middle of the table. He drove a big blue Ford LTD that was designed with him in mind. He once showed my sister and me how to ice fish on the lake outside his home. He drilled into the ice with a manual corkscrew drill. He used to completely obliterate a bathroom when he had to make a number 2. My grandmother would always run there and light a match when he finished. I remember him being pretty proud of that. Since he was a fireman he had bad hearing and the only way he could hear the telelvision was with a pair of headphones. He was an affectionate man, he loved to have kids climb in his lap. When I was tiny it was the safest place in the world. A fire in the fireplace, a snow covered lawn, a small grove of pines and a frozen lake and a warm grandfather's lap. My grandmother's name was Mildred and he called her Millie. They slept in seperate bedrooms. She liked her room too cold for him. He had this ancient homemade tool he used to get worms to surface. It had two metal spikes attatched to an electrical cord. He would stick the spikes in the ground about two feet apart and plug the cord into an outlet. The current would cause worms to surface and once the device was unplugged we would pick the worms off the ground and drop them into a container. His favorite hobby was the finding and polishing of petoskey stones. His old workbench stood gathering dust until my grandmother died in 2000. He had a favorite chair with copper-colored rivets in it. It was the color of stained bone. When I had chicken pox I scratched my back on it and he griped good naturedly about that. He had an old boathouse on the lake that bordered the backyard. In it were old bamboo fishing poles, wooden water skis and fishing tackle galore. The remnants of his former outdoor lifestyle balanced on rotting wood and surrouned by spiderwebs. He had a big bald round head. His belly was just as round as his head, just as solid and about twice as big. He had a voice I can't hear anymore. I can almost bring it back sometimes when I imagine him saying my grandmother's name.

The moment my Dad told my sister, stepbrother and stepsister he died I remember distinctly. It was night and he had been in the hospital for a couple of days due to a stroke. I think he may have woken us up to tell us. He said something along the line of "Grandpa Ed is dead." I remember us four kids immediately crying uncontrollably. Hugs all around from Dad and the stepmom. I think we just cried ourselves out and then went back into bed. I'm sure my stepbrother and I talked long into the night. We tended to do that anyway.