Monday, February 26, 2007

A survey by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg planning Dept

Got some opinions on how Charlotte is being developed? Tell the yokels in charge at the survey link to here.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Being there

I know I have mentioned it before but one of my favorite Youtube searches is the name of the racetrack of NASCAR's most recent race. A couple of days after that race you can usually find some good footage shot from the stands. I like how you get a good feel of what it's like to be at that race from a fan's point of view. I found this nice footage of the last lap of this year's Daytona 500 that demonstrates my point.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Video bowling in a retirement home

OK, if this article doesn't legitimize gaming in the library, I don't know what will. Well, I guess the amazing numbers they rack up for those gaming nights legitimizes gaming more than old people Wii bowling in Chicago. I've been thinking outlould recently that I thought the Nintendo people hit one out of the park when they undercut Microsoft and Sony and built a cheaper system that only played games instead of trying to be the core of your home entertainment system. I was leaning that way and became completely convinced when I talked to a gentleman who had brought his son in to participate in my most recent Madden tourney (which bombed by the way). He essentially said that there was no way he was going to spend $600 on a system his son was going to use in a small room upstairs that had been set aside for the kids. I'll bet this guy will be a Wii next Christmas and not a Playstation 3 or an Xbox 360. I think I may also.

In case you were wondering

Yes, Dick Cheney is still a scum sucking fear mongerer. This from ABC news: "Cheney also had harsh words for Democratic leaders, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa., who says he wants to stop the surge of more U.S. troops into Iraq.

Cheney said Pelosi and other Democrats were pushing a policy in Iraq that would "validate the al Qaeda strategy."

"I think if we were to do what Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Murtha are suggesting, all we'll do is validate the al Qaeda strategy," Cheney told ABC News.

"The al Qaeda strategy is to break the will of the American people, knowing they can't win in a stand-up fight, try to convince us to throw in the towel and come home and then they win because we quit," he said."

Toothless wussy-ass opposition to a failed war policy now validates the strategy of a group that has a small presence in the country they weren't in to begin with? He is a disgrace to his office.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bit Torrent Goodness

At the bottom of this webpage there is a torrent featuring a song from every headliner at the SXSW shindig down in Austin in March. Over 700 bands and songs. Have fun.
Accessible SF

I've read in quick succession recently two novels by an up and coming SF writer named John Scalzi. I've been reading his blog and he brought up an entry he made a while back concerning entry level SF. Specifically, SF for people that don't read science fiction.

Personally I have always found good science fiction to be entry level science fiction. Every new science fiction (or fantasy) novel has to introduce readers to a new universe and a good writer should be able to do that for a long time SF reader and someone that has never picked up a SF book before. I think Cormac McCarthy's "The Road," Roth's "The Plot Against America" and Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" all straddle that line nicely.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Him say enemy is us

I have been reading Pat Lang's blog consistently for several months now. He always has something intelligent and nonpartisan to say about current international affairs. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned him before but I just like what he has to say. I'd like to point you towards a piece he wrote for the journal Foreign Policy recently: "...our foreign policy tends to be predicated on the notion that everyone wants to be an American."

I get home from work around 6:15 yesterday. There is still a nice chunk of the Daytona 500 left and the race is under caution. Cool, I can sit and watch the end of the race before dinner. As the cars come off pit road who is in the lead? Why only my favorite driver, Mark Martin, in his new 01 Ginn Racing Army car. Holy crap, Mark Martin is leading the Daytona 500 with less than thirty laps left? That's huge! It's a dream!

Since this is Daytona and they are racing with evil restrictor plates there was a wreck late in the race. Because of that we had to sit through a green/white/checkered finish which is essentially a two-lap shootout. On the final trek through the trioval on the front stretch Kevin Harvick was able to squeeze by Martin and get a win by less than half a car length. It was agony. Agony! All those years of watching Mark finish second to Gordon and Ironhead for the championship had set me up for a gloriously unexpected Daytona victory. It wasn't to be.

Not only did Mark not win the 500 but he lost to Harvick who is driving Earnhardt's old car. Once again, that former Goodwrench Chevy #3 finishes ahead of Mark Martin. It ain't fair.

The picture below is what I saw mocking me on the cover of the Charlotte Observer this morning when I went to drop "Departed" into the Big Red Box at the Harris Teeter. Sometimes being a Mark Martin fan feels like you're a Cubs fan.

The look on Mark's face right here pretty much mirrors how I was feeling when I watched him not come home with the win when he had the best chance he's ever had at winning the biggest race of the year

More of the agony

Of course, any race that features a car finishing it while sliding on its roof isn't a complete loss

I think it hurts a little less with the cars less dominate in the frame.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Blogging Kitties

Just in case you thought the internets were not completely filled with worthless shit then you should head on over to my cat's blog.
Woe is me

My computer died yesterday. I don't know if it's the motherboard or the power switch and I don't have the know how to find out. I went to both Radio Shack and CompUSA and neither store had replacement switches. I reckon I might have to buy a new case and, if I have to do that, I might as well get a new motherboard anyway. I need a new CPU so I can play Civilization IV. I gots to get it fixed because I have been really enjoying posting MP3's on the blog. I've heard from a couple of people that have downloaded, listened to and enjoyed the music. That's pretty cool. No music for at least a week and probably longer though.

What really bums me out about the computer going tits up is that I was using the computer as the sound system in my room. Now I gots no tunes in my bedroom. I didn't realize how much I counted on that computer for music until yesterday. My room felt like a tomb without the usual jams.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lie here and shake for a while

A few of the best shows I saw in Charlotte in the early 90's were by the local band called Me and Emma. I saw them a few times at the Milestone and what I remember most vividly are the lights being turned way down, a long haired lead singer snarling his lyrics and a mesmerizing power trio pushing a wall of sound over onto the crowd. What I liked about Me and Emma, what really grabbed me, was the intensity and desperation of the singing and playing without the normal macho agressive stance.

I remember singer and guitar player, Tim MacLean had two guitars with him one night. One was much more beat up than the other. After he slammed the older guitar off the wall behind the stage of club I began to refer to that older guitar as his "throwin' guitar."

I also remember eventually that Tom Montefusco played with Me and Emma a couple times as a second guitarist. Those shows were played with the lights on at the Milestone, a little less chaos but with a much tighter band. Those were special shows.

The MP3 I link to below is the song Shake by Me and Emma. It's off a release called "Muthahutch" that came out in 1992. This song features an very intense ending. It's one of my favorite song endings and puts a perfect exclamation point on the song. It's not even like the song ends, it's more like the narrator just wants the listener to go the fuck away.

For more information on this band you can visit the website of the singer, Tim Maclean. You can also download Me and Emma songs and, if you explore the site a little further, you can download recent material that Tim has recorded.

Me and Emma Shake

Also, I took one of my favorite live photographs at a Me and Emma show at the Milestone around 1993 or 1994. I know I've shown this picture to a lot of people but I'll share it one more time.
She's back

Oh boy, oh boy! Camille Paglia is back writing for What better way to welcome her back than to lift a paragraph from her new column: "I want American troops out now -- not next year but tomorrow. Support of the troops means not subjecting them to an unsustainable and ultimately unwinnable mission, cooked up by armchair cowboys who see the world in simplistic cartoon terms ("good guys" vs. "bad guys"). The provincial philistines of the Bush administration blundered into the Mideast with little more than superficial knowledge of its tangled history and ancient culture. And they have colossally wasted American blood and treasure on a project that had only a tangential relation to the atrocity of 9/11."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Internet Goodness

Click on the open spaces of this test and when you are finished the website will display where you clicked and where everyone else clicked.
Revolt in 2100 and revolting 2007 politicians

I am currently listening to "Revolt in 2100" by Robert Heinlein on my Ipod as I drive around and go for morning walks. I came across a passage today that reminded me of Dick Cheney and his wimpy-ass reasons for not going to Vietnam followed by his gleeful support of war as a tool of foreign policy.

"...the man who buys the meat is brother to the butcher. It was squeamishness, not the man who favors capital punishment but is himself too "good" to fit the noose or swing the axe. Like the person who regards war as inevitable and in some circumstances moral, but who avoids military service because he doesn't like the thought of killing.

Ethical infants, eithical morons - the left hand must know what the right hand doeth and the heart is responsible for both." (Page 52 of the Signet paperback version of this book)

Monday, February 12, 2007


Over the weekend I went to the Comet Grill on Friday and saw Lenny. I saw someone there I didn't expect to see and it was not nearly as awkward as I thought it might be. I reckon that's a good thing? No? Yes? Maybe?

Saturday was the Budweiser Clash at Daytona. It was a decent restrictor plate race with a great pass by Tony Stewart near the end. Typically of restrictor plate races when the first of the fastest three or four cars gets into the lead near the end that car usually wins, Tony Stewart won easily after he air bumped Busch out of the way. It was a heck of a lot better than the wreck fest that was the ARCA race earlier in the day.

Sunday was an exeptionally lazy day until the evening when I did dishes, made a nice dinner and watched "Flags of our Fathers" with a couple of buddies. It's an impressive unconventional war movie that plays out a bit like "Unforgiven." I don't know if I would call it an antiwar movie but it is a movie that sure as hell doesn't let you forget that sending men into a war, if it does not kill or mutilate them physically, will at the very least alter them mentally for the rest of their lives.

Saturday I finished up "You suck" by Christopher Moore. It is a sequel to the book "Bloodsucking Fiends." Like most of his books, it really pushes the envelope between farce and story. What keeps me going in his books when the plot goes a little into left field are his characters. He creates a teenage character named Abby in this book and some of the later chapters are excerpts from her personal diary and those chapters feature some of the funniest writing in the book. I still need to read "Lamb." I am going to put it on hold today. Funniest line from the book: "Well, you look like 300 pounds of cat vomit poured into a cheap suit." That's not an exact quote but close enough.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Woodwork squeaks and out come the freaks

The The One Big Loud Guy chuckles quietly to himself whenever I mention Was (Not Was) because I am the only person he knows that likes the band. I'm not sure where I first heard of the album called "Born to laugh at tornados" but I did subscribe to Rolling Stone in high school and it may have been this review that introduced me to the album. Being a teen in the woods of northern Michigan maybe it was the smart, weird and from Detroit that caught my eye.

I bought the album on cassette. I remember it was white with black lettering and, since this was the time before automatic reverse play the lettering was eventually rubbed away from the top of the cassette from all the times I flipped it over. I remember spending a lot of time at school with this album blaring in my headphones.

My other favorite album around this time in my life was Tom Waits' Swordfishtrombones and if you listen to both albums they have some similarities. Both are experimental lyrically and musically and they are nice and weird. It's pretty amazing to me that I was able to find them back before there was the wide ranging music press that came later and the internets. I guess that comes from reading Rolling Stone's reviews closely back when it was the only decent music magazine I could find. Back in the early 80's it was Rolling Stone magazine and a local college station, WNMC, that were the two windows I had onto the world of good music. Sure, the local rock station played good stuff now and then but it couldn't touch WNMC.

(Speaking of WNMC, I would like to know whatever became of a dj called Dennis Sophie (sp?) that had a show on Wednesday nights called the Mondo Radio Show. He introduced me to Tom Waits one night and he deserves a hug just for that. The week before Swordfishtrombones came out he played three solid hours of Tom Waits. I've been hooked ever since. I remember he announced he was going to do this special show and I recorded ninety minutes of it because he had played some Waits before and I was more than a little intrigued. I mentioned his show about three years ago on this blog and no one has stepped up. I was every college DJ's cream dream, a teenage kid that listened to your show every week and recorded it on occasion.)

Today I provide in MP3 format one of my favorite songs from the 1983 Was (Not Was) album, Born to Laugh at Tornados. The song is called (Return to the Valley of) Out Come the Freaks. It's a good example of what the band could produce. The sound is crisp and clean, it has a nice groove and smoothness that sounds like a traditional R&B song with vocals by Harry Bowens that would be fitting in a nice slow love song. The lyrics are about people getting their freak on. The initial incongruousness of the lyrics and sound just defines Was (Not Was). I guess this is what happens when you combine two stoned songwriters/producers and a couple of solid R&B singers from Detroit.

Was (Not Was) (Return to the Valley of) Out Come the Freaks
An essay on criticism

The last page of the New York Times Book Review always features an essay on some, uh, book related topic. It allows writers to let their muse free as they muse upon some topic. Sometimes it reads more like a blog entry than a literary essay. In the February 4th edition the editor, Sam Tananhaus, reflects on the futility of reviewing a truly great writer.
Kill the Messenger

Doonesbury has been very good recently.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

MP3 Blog

One of my favorite singer/songwriters is Mojo Nixon. Oh sure, you're saying, "Ed, Mojo Nixon? Singer/songwriter?" Yes, he sings and he writes songs. He's not in a band and when he tours it's all about him. That is the definition of singer/songwriter to me. Most people think Mojo is the guy who wrote the immortal song "Elvis is Everywhere." They are correct but there's more to Mojo than just that craziness. He has written quite a few songs that are just meant to entertain and/or gross you out but he does have a serious side and I like when he shows that side of himself. The following song is from an album he did with Jello Biafra called "Prairie Home Invasion." This song is called "Hamlet Chicken Plant Disaster" and it's about this terrible event.

Hamlet Chicken Plant Disaster by Mojo Nixon

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Deja Vu

"Given the often horrific nature of the old regime, and the common interest that the people, including the peasants, might have had with the more or less benign new regime, or at least with the promise of modernization, why did they resist so fiercely? Bell argues that the insurgency was fuelled by the extraordinarily tenacious hold of religious culture. It seems to have been not so much religious faith as the whole, enclosing framework of Catholicism, which, whatever its faults, gave order and meaning to the great mass of Spaniards, and which they were not about to surrender. “O happy gothic, barbarian and fanatical Spaniards!” one Spaniard exclaimed. “Happy with our monks and with our Inquisition, which, according to the ideas of the French Enlightenment, has kept us a century behind other nations. Oh, if we could only go back two centuries more!” It was as if, to take the terrible dialectic one step further, the dream of total peace that had produced the fact of total war threw the bleeding and bewildered masses back on the only fixed point left: an absolutist religiosity, made more fanatic by persecution. During the siege of Saragossa, which began in 1808, a miraculous apparition of a palm tree with a crown raised the morale of the entire population. At a time of complete disruption, the Church represented cultural continuity."

Has anyone gone ahead and made of list of situations similar to Iraq? Vietname is the easy one and now you've heard about this situation in Spain. There must be dozens of similar wars that failed. God, George Bush is a piece of garbage.
Former NASCAR driver living in poverty

"Ard hasn’t raced since suffering severe head trauma in a 1984 accident at North Carolina Speedway. He had to learn how to walk and talk and feed himself, and did much of his therapy on an old sawdust pile near the woods behind his house.

“That’s where I learned how to walk again, I’d run up and down that sawdust pile because if I fell, it didn’t hurt,” he said. “I about wore that sawdust pile out.”

Before the accident, Ard seemingly had the perfect life. A job as a Ford mechanic and a four-year Air Force stint gave him the financial security to quit the 9-to-5 grind and focus strictly on racing.

In his early 40s, he had enough money put away for all four children to attend college and had the talent for a successful NASCAR career.

It ended the moment he hit the wall at Rockingham."

Sunday, February 04, 2007

MP3 Blog

One of the best live shows I've ever seen was at the Double Door Inn about five or six years ago. The band was the Backsliders from Raleigh, NC. They were supposed to have an opening band and that band didn't show up so the Backsliders started early and played all night and, according to what the lead singer said late in the show, played about every song they knew and a few they didn't know. What I liked about the Backsliders was how they could play different styles of music. They could play ballads, honky tonk and some smoking rock and roll. They seemed to really have a talent for balancing their shows well. They knew when to slow it down and they knew when to kick your ass. The highlight of the show that night was a song called "Hey Sheriff." I imagine that song was the highlight of many of their shows. Real good bands seem to have a show stopper or two in their repertoire and "Hey Sheriff" was the Backsliders crowd killer. Each time I saw them this song was played late in their set because no other song they had could equal the intensity of this tune. Each time I hear it the image in my head is of lead singer, Chip Robinson prowling the stage working himself, the band and the audience gradually into a frenzy. I love songs that have a slow burn that builds to a logical explosion and resolution and "Hey Sheriff" does that as well as any song you'll ever hear.

This version of "Hey Sheriff" below is off the live EP called "From Raleigh, NC" and it came out in 1999.

Back sliders Hey Sheriff

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Winter's fury

Since it was so dangerous out today the library has wisely chosen to close for the day. Since there was so much freezing rain all day conditions weren't conducive to me going out for a stroll and getting a good picture of the snow but I do give you this panorama of my backyard.