This?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pi-Rambler

Nothing much for tonight. This is Rambler No. 315. Perhaps I shall start a countdown to the 365th Rambler? And try to fit in all unfinished Rambler business from the past year - such as, or mostly, the Floyd reviews.

D.

Shilling



I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here before, but I just wanted to sing the praises of Plasq's Comic Life - a playtime application for putting together comics pages with photos from your digital library that's so well designed that it actually turns out to be the best method of putting together layouts quickly. A real boon to productivity.

While not powerful enough to do full, finished pages, in terms of a place to assemble sketches and throw dialogue down and get the story moving past whatever mental roadblock you're staring down, I find I can put layouts together in record time.

Of course, my hang-ups were always in the storytelling department in comics - my finishes look great, but sometimes are hard to read to the degree that the point is lost. By being able to solve all of those problems in a low-labor environment like Comic Life, I can save enough energy for the final page. For cartoonists who excel at storytelling but might find polish to be more difficult, Comic Life will prove kind of pointless. Maybe a fun distraction, but in no way a valuable addition to the process. But for me, it's ideal - the right tool at the right time.

Perhaps I'll now invest the ten bucks in getting my lettering made into a font over at Fontifier, a neat service pointed out to me by Dave Zapanta (the creator of Hairbat, linked to over in the links for your convenience). And Comic Life was shown to me by Kalliope, so I can claim to have discovered nothing on my own.

D.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Counting to None

Yesenia & I just spent four hours going through every single one of our bills from 2007, for our financial advisor report. That includes going through every one of our 48 credit card statements - each of us has an American Express and a Master Card - and breaking down our purchases into about twenty different categories.

And that doesn't include any of our other expenses that need to be tallied - mortgage, home equity, utilities, etc.

Wow. What a drag.

Still more to do tomorrow, but the bulk of the work was the parsing of the credit card statements. And I can't tell you how un-chatty that has made me. Enjoy your Saturday.

D.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dave Abhors a Vacuum



Breaking the 'don't fuckin' blog about PCMA' rule I usually maintain on the Rambler, tonight. Mostly because tonight's PCMA session is done, so I can't jinx the one that's past - although I suppose that I could be setting loose the bad-luck black dog with the evil eye on the next PCMA practice/recording session.

Scenario: A couple of the songs on the album have been left as instrumentals. I say 'left as,' because about 90% started life as instrumentals and stayed instrumentals for however long it took for someone to generate lyrics or melody for them - in some cases, were talking years. In fact, there's only one song on the album that was actively written as a song, with lyrics and melody developed roughly in tandem with the chord structure and arrangement. Everything else was just a glorified jam until we worked out how to give it form.

Still, given how much we all prize instrumental music, and having a strong desire to keep the flow of the album a little more interesting (to us, at least), we aimed to get at least a couple of pure instrumentals on there. One is essentially a texture piece, based around a Shaun chord change and filled out with some pointless (and rare) guitar noodling from me and rolling drums and bass from Edz and Karl. The other is much more tightly arranged, and about the only through-composed thing we've attempted. It's also paired in a suite with another song, and will eventually be given the string-quartet treatment by w√ľnderkind Christian.

Meaning that the whole thing has an air of satire about it - it's essentially a full-fledged stately-ass waltz by a group of musicians that don't really have any business playing such music, which, of course, is the reason it has genuine value. When a band plays the kind of music you'd least expect them to play, it's almost invariably welcome. At least when it's done with genuine purpose. I can only vouch for that.

My part of the arrangement is some light Rhodes setting up the theme at the top, reinforced by some organ that's as close to church-sounding as I can coax out of my Roland and Fender Amp set-up. You know, the Fender amp that gives off a sympathetic, high-pitched ring on some notes.

Of course, the ring really cut through when we tried to get the big organ sound we were looking for. Thankfully, Karl had worked out that it might be one of the pre-amp tubes (for some reason, I'd always assumed it was the power amp tubes), and we tested it by turning the amp all the way up and tapping the tubes (12AX7's, for those who care). Rang like a champagne glass at an Italian Wedding, it did.

But when I took a closer look, I realized that it wasn't the tube itself, but the socket. I mean, yes, the tube was the thing that was ringing. But the amp has three pre-amp sockets, and two of them have plastic rings - whereas the pinging tube socket didn't. And to prove my theory that the plastic rings actually serve a function, and that function would be making sure that the tubes don't make that noise, the replacement tube rang just as much. And it always has, no matter how many times I've replaced the tubes - sometimes more, sometimes less, but it's always been there.

And here's the curse I'm undoubtedly calling down on myself by writing about this in advance of acting: some online sources suggest just popping a couple of silicone o-rings on the offending tube, and that will take care of it. And I like the sound of that - it's cheap and straightforward, and much easier than tracking down the right socket ring or replacing the socket outright. So let's hope that cheap and easy wins the race, this time. I dislike the alternative of pricey and hard.

The best case scenario is that the o-rings kill the amp ring (connected to the cock ring). The bad case scenario is that the o-rings melt to the tube and make it useless. That's an okay scenario, because I've worked up a small stockpile of 12AX7's over the years, and I bet they're all just fine. The worst case scenario, naturally, is a smoking crater where my Fender Blues DeVille used to be. And possibly the smell.

D.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bowlless

Yesenia & I planned to go bowling earlier this evening. This would be at the Lucky Strikes, at Da Mall. However, Yesenia doesn't much like the food there, so we opted instead to eat at a place just down the - uh, hall? - from Lucky Strikes, called Cheeseburger/Cheeseburger.

Which is odd, when you consider that the main reason Yesenia doesn't like the food at Lucky Strikes is that they have no vegetarian dishes. But Cheeseburger/Cheeseburger at least offers a grilled portobello sandwich, and so we went there.

And I made the mistake of allowing my recent diet and exercise regimen to go to my head, and had a cheeseburger, fries, rings and a huge chocolate malt.

Needless to say, the waves of nausea started before we even left the table, and rather than bowl, we hightailed it out of there so that I could be ill in the comfort of my own home.

But I'm fine, now. Apparently, I can't eat like a 12 year old anymore. Really, I wonder if I ever could?

D.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Stumbly, The Magic Horse-Clown

Fuck it. What year is this? How did it get to be 2008?

That's what you get when you hit the snooze button one too many times, I guess.

D.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Salad Days





Happy Easter. Y'all.

(Hey: I got paid, okay? The economy in Rhode Island in the early 90's was not such that I could turn down any paying job...)

D.

P.S.: Oh. Duh. The whole point of yesterday's blog was to reference the fact that the original Twilight Zone featured appearances by at least three future Trek:TOS actors - Shatner, Nimoy & Doohan - and that it seems like some kind of weird proving ground for the franchise. Only I forgot to leave that in, so my stray observations seemed even more pointless than usual.

Another one today, btw: Andrew Robinson (Garak) as JFK.

Anyhow, the game of 'Spot the Future Starfleet Officer Working for Scale on the Twilight Zone' is proving more entertaining than the show, sometimes.

Chock Full of Trek

An interesting(?) side-bar to the reviewing of the 1980's Twilight Zone (TV) is the number of soon-or-eventually-to-be Star Trek regulars in the casts. Thus far, I've spotted John DeLancie (Q), Brent Spiner (Data), Jonathan Frakes (Riker) and even a young Nana Visitor (Kira) and very young - as in teenaged - Robert Duncan MacNeil (Paris).

D.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Beer Run

Yesenia and I went with Karl, Jim and Sean to a fairly new microbrewery in Pleasantville, the Captain Lawrence Brewing Company. A small place in a slightly rundown corporate park, but home to some excellent and reasonably priced boutique beer. Sure, a 64 oz. 'growler' of theirs is about $12.50, but when you factor in the free 30 oz. samples of beer you get upon visiting, you end up with almost 96 oz. of beer for $12.50 - whereas a six pack of good beer might cost you $7 - 9 for 72 oz, meaning that the Lawrence ends up costing either the same or even a little less.

[Edited to add: "a six-pack of some other good beer at a liquor store..."]

Of course, there is the gas mileage and bridge toll to take into consideration. But - hey! - free and informative brewing lecture from the brewmeister, and a tour of the small but still impressive facilities.

Anyhow, Sean and Karl made excellent pizzas - one margherita, one tapenade with ricotta, and one roasted pepper with goat cheese - for lunch at Sean's house, which we ate both before and after the trip to the brewery. The second lunch also featured more crackers and cheese and chips and then several bars of chocolate... Everyone involved felt like the beer samples gave them the munchies.

And for the record, while fresh hops are sometimes preferable, they're harder to get and only in season towards the end of the summer, so they use dried hops (I asked).

D.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Burning Down the House

Here's hoping that title is only satirical, and not prophetic: today, my father and I did an exploratory mission into the attic to deal with the rest of the old, old wiring that's up there - wiring that is all of the lighting and outlets on the second floor.

Thing is, of all the things that I thought I would be able to handle as a homeowner, electrical work was at the bottom. But it turned out that I had something of a skill for at - at least it made sense to me, and as long as you're really careful and thorough in your work, you can feel pretty confident about it. Whereas things that I thought would be easy and straightforward - replacing the gutters, for example, turned out to be a symphony of incompetence.

Anyhow, the plan is to replace the cabling for the ceiling fixtures and outlets in the hall, master and guest/baby room. Thankfully, when we redid the bathroom over the last couple of years, I had an electrician come in and run not one but two new lines up for it, so the load on the one circuit breaker that up until that point had powered the entire second floor and the attic has now been split by at least a half.

The new cables will run through the beams, rather than resting on top of them, which means I can lay down a nicer floor and maybe make the place less of a hellhole overall. First things first, though - we need to get all of the crap that's up there out, which amounts to a couple of truckloads of thirty years of junk that the family didn't want but couldn't bear to throw away - such as my father's collection of Scientific American that goes back to the mid-60's.

I'm a pack rat myself (I am my father's son, after all), so I can sympathize, but when you have issues of a science journal so old that later issues start to disprove the earlier ones, I think it's probably time to just send them to the recycling pile. And given the current editorial voice of the magazine, that's probably the way they'd want it.

We're also going to replace all the crappy old insulation. The most difficult removal will be the old ballast tank for the original radiator system. By my estimate, it's probably about three hundred pounds - which means there's no way we're carrying it out of here. If we try, they'll have to carry us out. Various solutions come to mind - torch cutting, rolling it over to the window and tossing it out - but none are particularly appealing. I can see why it was left up there after its days of service were over.

Anyway, that's my spring and early summer, in a nutshell. Somewhere in there, the master bedroom will be patched and painted - the last room on the floor to be done. And whenever I do that, I replace the ceiling fixture and outlets. The fixture in the master bedroom is a light/fan, and it's probably approaching three decades of service. Oh, the sounds the fan makes. So that will be good to get rid of.

Again: all in the future, and a busy future it looks to be. But today? I fixed Yesenia's nightstand lamp. New socket.

One step at a time.

D.

Shirk for Hire

For those who don't recall, KPMG GO! is a recruitment magazine that megalithic multinational accountancy firm KPMG drops on college campuses. The previous two issues won some sort of award. I'm sure that had nothing to do with the presence of a strip from me in each. *cough, cough*

Anyway, here are the two sketched comics I worked up on Monday, for the next KPMG issue. Neither of these are world-beaters, and have been world-beaten themselves, neither meeting approval from the creative director (although he liked the "Pundit" one), so I put them here. Hey! Exclusive content!

This does illustrate some of the perils of doing creative work for a company of this sort. Obviously, the company has to maintain a corporate voice - but the theme for the issue is the upcoming election, and how the hell do you do a comic about politics under any kind of editorial constraint and still be funny enough for a college audience?

Clearly, you don't... as this first, completely soft strip shows:



No real joke to speak of and even the play on historical perspective/visual perspective that was the germ of the strip is pretty much lost. But I like the girl's pose.

For the second strip, I thought I'd see if I could get a little more topical - but, still, not really talking about politics directly. Because I can't, see?

Pundits! Nobody lies a pundit, right?



Still, too strong for the magazine, as I was afraid it would be. The original idea was a little different - Trying to confront the fact that I couldn't actually discuss politics but had to do a comic about them, I wanted to do something called Generic Political Cartoon Theater, which consisted of two people engaged in a heated political argument, only the topics and politicians were left out, so that an exchange would read, literally, "Senator A is trying to hide scandal B by using C!" But it didn't seem strong enough to support a full strip, and when I tried to draw it, the pundit thing came out instead.

Maybe I'll polish the writing on the pundit strip - it still doesn't have the rhythm I want - and see if I can make it work for me. I at least like the offhanded Ann Coulter caricature, if only for her bon mot. I did seriously consider having her call her opponent a 'faggot,' but a) I knew there's no way that was going to be in the magazine, and b) I doubt most people remember her referring to John Edwards in that fashion, and would think it was something I was saying, rather than my lame Coulter caricature.

There's a thin line between parody and hate-speech, and a corporate-owned college recruitment magazine is not the place to find out which side of it you're on.

Anyway, back to the drawing board- to see if I can be funny without being specific, which is a little like trying to steer a car from under the dash.

D.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pure Geniush

I'm sure I'm behind the curve on this one - you can always tell that viral video has reached the end of its trail when I finally am presented with it. Still, for those who are even further down the pop-culture chain than me, enjoy the trip to stupid genius that is Drunk History.



D.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Put All the Satellites at Half-Mast

Well, I was going to put up the new KPMG comic proposals I'd done last night, but on my way to Blogger, I took a brief detour over to CNN. And there it is:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/books/03/18/obit.clarke/index.html

About which I have two things to say:

1) Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck fuck fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.

2) There are fewer than five people on Earth that I can say truly molded me into who I am today. And now there's one less. Of course, Clarke is in no way responsible for any of my negative parts. He dreamed a big, optimistic dream of man's place in the cosmos, and dreamed long enough and hard enough that bits of his dream were dragged into reality.

And he wasn't such an innocent that he wasn't aware of the dangers of technology - an early short story of his had someone beaming non-stop pornography over the airwaves into enemy territory to weaken their society from within, and everytime I have occasion to marvel at the sheer volume of porn available online, I can't help but wonder if that's a projection of his that came true.

But the invention in the story that allows that moral decay is Clarke's own - the telecommunications satellite in geosynchronous orbit that he dreamed up in 1945. And, sure - you can now send crap streaming around the world in seconds flat, but that doesn't discount this astounding miracle of technology and foresight. And so much good has come of it as well, and I believe - as Sir Clarke did - that the global web of chatter will eventually prove to be our salvation, having shrunk the globe down to the size and speed of a single photon.

And there are so many other dreams of his in his books and essays just waiting to break out and transform our world into a peaceful, prosperous paradise.

Any takers?

D.
Addendum: In perhaps his final act of prognostication, Sir Clarke predicted that I would write my obituary, and then half an hour later read the obituary on Salon, and that it would turn out that both the Salon eulogist and me would independently take the exact same angle.

We are all living in Clarke's future, now.

Night of Work

One of those, again: several deadlines converging on a single Tuesday.

You'd think maybe I'd budget my time better by now...

D.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Bargain at Just $43,000 a Month for 30 Years!



A notable home in the Jersey town of Old Tappan - just across the border from me - went on sale this week. I say 'notable' not because of the owners (although they're either Greek importers or Mafia, depending on who you ask). I say 'notable' because you cannot drive past this beaustrosity and fail to have your eyes seared by it.

For years, it was only the impression from outside - but the bizarre jumble of styles and complete over-the-top statuary in front suggests that neither money nor taste nor even a clean bill of mental health were impediments to its construction. But, thanks to the miracle of the internet and the subset miracle of realtors with digital cameras and access to web servers, I can now share with you this work of genuine architectural harikari. And the photos of the interior do not disappoint. The curb appeal continues all the way down, and it is sweet.

I swear, the state of New Jersey should buy this place and open it to the public as a museum, as Westchester has its Lyndhurst, San Simeon its Hearst Castle, and Hyde Park its Springwood.

Bergen County historical board: I beseech you to acquire and maintain this treasure as an ode to the style known either as "Old Tappan Crazy" or "Faux-Modern Wincing." These rooms can not be allowed to return to private hands, to the person with $9m in pocket, and be forever locked away from public view.

Sure, James Lileks has his "Gobbler." But, ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to present Jersey's finest: The Prongthenon.











Note the telling details, like the chalk-white Corinthian columns in the main hall, reflected and contrasted in the polished obsidian tiles. Or the subtle thematic repetition of the chandelier in every room. Or the... oh, sweet Jesus... the stuffed cheetah placed at random in the middle of the guest bedroom. That just positively screams "class."

Actually, it damn well bellows "class," while simultaneously bashing you in the frontal lobe repeatedly with a flame-hardened Louisville Slugger that has the word "class" painstakingly carved into the business end with an ornate ceremonial dagger.

Seriously: at what point does the aesthetic sense atrophy enough to allow you to live in a place like this? When does it happen that you feel the need to live in Liberace's mausoleum? Is there a DSM-IV diagnosis for such a condition? Does your brain make a 'ping' sound at that moment, like it's been cooking for long enough and now it's done? Is it possible that this is all just the world's biggest practical joke by the world's richest practical joker? Is Reggie Van Dough just waiting in the wings with a video camera, ready to catch Richie Rich in the act of buying this compound?

Here's what the listing has to say: "IN AN UNDERSTATED SURROUNDING, THIS EXTRAODINARY HOUSE EXISTS, FULL OF INCREDIBLE BEAUTY. LAVISH USE OF MARBLE, BEAUTIFUL WOODS. INDOOR POOL, TENNIS COURT, THEATER, CABANA. THIS HOME HAS IT ALL. SEE FACT SHEET FOR DETAILS. 18 ROOMS, 10 BRS, 15 BTHS. ALL SET ON 2.8 ACRES"

All I can say is, I'm glad they're reinforcing that the house 'exists,' because it means that even the realtors have a hard time believing it does.

The best part of all, though, is the thing that's being conveniently cropped out of that exterior shot: right in the front yard sits an electrical tower. And I don't mean those pissant ones that try to blend in with the landscape - I'm talking one of the triumphant jobs that's clearly built to catapult voltage from here to Ohio.

Easily 70 feet tall, visible from the surface of Europa with a halfway decent pair of opera glasses. So, maybe 15 bathrooms and an indoor pool and a tennis court and and indoor theater and everything else from the lap of luxury can make you overlook the perversion of the senses that is the decor. But who in their right mind is going to lay down nine million dollars for a house with an electrical tower right next to the statue of the discus thrower?

There's only one person I can think of that's that kind of crazy - and, sadly for them, they're the one selling the place.

D.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

300

No shit. The three-hundredth Rambler. Maybe not as exciting as a bunch of oiled-up Spartans protecting Virtual Thermopylae from the Xerxes Brothers Traveling Carnival and Landing & Occupying Forces, but still a big deal to me.

And all I have for you is a sequel to last night's Mac startup/crash FX festival.

I would suggest that you watch yesterday's little video first, or this will only be odd, and not funny. Of course, it could still not be funny even after you know the context, but let's give it all the help it can get:



And I'll see you tomorrow for #301.

D.

Friday, March 14, 2008

One for Karl

Just in case Karl (and any one else who cares) missed this week's Ask the AV Club over at The Onion, here's a short and moronically hilarious clip with every Macintosh start-up and/or crash sound. I think this is probably what I'll hear in my head as I die - the music of my last neurons firing.



D.

Sorry, Sorry, Sorry



Yeah, another night's Rambler missed. What the hell, man?!

Would it be unchivalrous to blame it on my wife (hint to all of those single men out there: yes, it would be). Still, circumstances this week have rendered my Rambling a low priority, and primary among those circumstances is Yesenia's schedule this week. Her employer (Olympus Industrial America) is deploying a new database this week, and she's had to be at work at 6:30 every day this week.

Of course, this has totally exacerbated the respiratory infection that she's had for the last month or so, so that the new iteration was pink eye. Generally, she sleeps better when I'm there - or, at least, when I don't get into bed too long after her and wake her up. And whereas I usually would blog in bed (prefer, in fact, to do so), I'm trying to do everything I can to make sure she gets a good night's sleep.

Tonight's a little different, because I didn't get in until around midnight anyhow, and since she was already asleep, it seemed like I might as well write. To that end, I grabbed The Thing (the laptop, that is) and am writing this from the office. Lord knows why I didn't just write it on my work computer (the G5) or the Femputer (the MacMini) - or, hell, even Pazuzu (the crappy old Dell laptop), all three of which are already here in the office (see pic, above, minus Pazuzu).

I don't know. I'm punchy tired. What do you want from me? It's not like I charge for these things, anyhow. You know had it is... you get a set method of doing things, and you hesitate to deviate. I'm more of a creature of habit than most. It's not like I have a lucky shirt or anything (seriously), but my life is made up of a surprisingly small list of elements that are configured in various ways to create the illusion of complexity. I was discussing my feel for music earlier, and I described music I like as having a similar construction - simple parts that create complexity through combination. At least that means that I live like I play.

I suspect that will make my epitaph: a simple man who only seemed complex because he owned several matching combinations of shoes and belts.

My, this is more Rambling than usual. Truth in advertising, you know.

D.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My Derogative

Whenever a really lame pun ends up as the title, you can be pretty sure that I haven't got a damn clue as to what I'm writing about. So perhaps today is a good day to just put up a video link for your entertainment and then get out of the way.

Let's see:



How's that?

D.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tele-Porting

Well, that was seamless. My webhost finally got around to moving my site to their new server, notifying me of this with a friendly email on Saturday morning that all would be well within 24 hours, and, besides, people can still see it anyway.

48 hours on, with no email and no site to speak of, I finally broke down and decided to call them. So, now we're back up - I'm frankly not even sure what the problem was, but it has now been unproblemed, and since all it took from me was about fifteen minutes on hold and having to listen to some unclear techspeak from India, I think I can say I'm satisfied.

Anyhow, we're back on for the week, and I took the opportunity to look at the available templates that the host offers, and think that maybe I'd just be lazy for the first revamp and just go with a template. I'll let you know how that turns out.

D.

P.S.: Of course, I had to dig through pages of crap to find out what the new directory, ftp, etc., was, so that Blogger could find it and post again. So add twenty minutes of befuddled 'coding' on my part to the effort column, and take it away from the 'satisfied' column.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Sin Titulo

Mostly a day of loose ends, tied about as neatly as I could make them. Put the finishing touches on a piece I did back in October (details to come) and - surprisingly - I actually was able to improve it.

I also finished up the Prog mixes (three in all, as suspected) and even put together the covers and burned the CDs. So now it's just a matter of getting them to the post office, which I'm going to try to do tomorrow.

Then I'm going into standby mode to await new instructions.

D.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Cat Ate My Rambler



Sorry I missed last night - been working straight since Saturday, then sat in traffic for an hour last night on the way to PCMA. I probably could have blogged easily, but the Thing (the nickname for the laptop - keep up, people!) was in Yesenia's office and I couldn't be bothered to get out of bed and go down the hall to retrieve it.

Note that I didn't write: "I couldn't think of anything to write..." I can never think of anything to write. And that hasn't stopped me before. Heck, never mind blogging... not having anything to say hasn't even stopped me from talking, but I bet people wish it would, already.

Anyway, the power went out yesterday morning for a few hours, so I viewed one of our Blockbuster mailers that Yesenia didn't feel like seeing: the remake of Theo Van Gogh's Interview, directed by and starring (the quasi-eponymous) Steve Buscemi, with Sienna Miller as the interviewee.

And I have to say, Yesenia was right. There was not a single believable moment in this film. Which, considering it's a character piece entirely set within the confines of a single apartment, is bad news. And for the record, there are levels of disbelief that I should define:

Acceptable: in a film where a bunch of Hobbits and Dwarves set out to drop a magic ring into a fucking volcano, I can accept that a dude can mount a galloping horse by leaping backwards onto it. 'Cause, see, he's not a dude. He's an elf.

Unacceptable: in the course of a 90-minute interview, two complete strangers will completely divulge every single secret in their lives, right on the exact dramatic beats that the script requires in order to fit into something like a three-act structure. The film also loses reality points by proposing that Sienna Miller could ever be the target of seemingly universal slavish fandom.

Anyway, both actors do alright - she does a halfway decent generalized American accent, for a Brit ex-model - but the script is bad news. I'd be almost interested to see the original Dutch version to see if it was any better, but it would have to be a lot better, and, frankly, I doubt it. I think the stink of annoyance that rose off Buscemi's version had the familiar odor of way-too-cutesy-in-faux-cynicism that seems to lurk inside most European indie auteur films, and I'm guessing was a holdover from Van Gogh's original.

More interesting than the film was the central mystery that I posed above, that you read and didn't even think twice about: how did I watch the DVD if the power was out? Fuckin' battery-powered laptop, baby!

D.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

In Defense of Fort Phil



This big shuffling through the Kopperman Prog Archives has gotten my juices going, so, a threat for a lengthy Rambler sometime in the near future: a list of reasons why it's not just my opinion but an empirical fact that Phil Collins was the best drummer of the rock era.

Feel free to raise objections in advance of this posting, and I will happily demolish them on a point-by-point basis.

D.

You Are Ell

Really, it's March 3rd and I need to get back on overhauling the Copper Man website that the Rambler is vaguely attached to. I've promised a friend of mine that I would put together her site (in exchange for something at some point), and I've got work-work to do and also some progress to make on a comic I'm working on with Kalliope, but the time has seriously come to do something about my site.

And, oh yes: sad to report that the little plastic anole that hung by its tail off of the front door here at Beadboard Manor has finally retired. I'm not sure how, but that little thing has become the unofficial house mascot, and has probably been hanging there since Yesenia and I moved in six years ago - first hung as a joke, then obsessed over. Came time I couldn't leave the house unless I was sure that the mascot was still hanging out there, greeting all visitors.

The curved part of the tail snapped off, but the rest is okay. Unlike a real anole, I doubt the tail will regrow. So now, I have the option of going to the ¢99 Store for another one, or finding another way to get the original to return to his post.

D.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Progressive Slab of Rock

I'm in the process of trying to put together a prog rock mix disc (or two) for a friend of mine, and I find that's it's very difficult to do. I'm afraid to put on some of the more outrageous examples of the form - Van Der Graaf Generator doesn't have anything in their catalog that I would consider an 'entry point.' But, at the same time, if you don't put anything, you know, prog on it, it really isn't going to be representative of the genre.

My solution (I think) is to make a three disc set - one that covers the poppier end of the genre, one that is all about the soft and introspective end, and one that's a full-on deep end of the pool 'I bet you didn't know music could get this ugly' mix. At least that way the discs won't be uneven in tone. Now I just have to see if I can find enough material to fill three discs. Thank Steve that prog is a genre littered with single songs that fit on what used to be an entire album side. Heck, I could end up with a mix that's three CDs containing a total of 9 songs.

Now that's what I call music.

D.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Well...

Okay, on longer view, my revisit to the 1980's Twilight Zone TV show is about what I remembered: some very, very good television, and some really crappy crappyvision. Which really puts it on a par with the original series, I suppose.

What's really amazing is the talent they unloaded on this thing: Wes Craven, Harlan Ellison and William Friedkin all play a pretty big creative role. The big Friedkin episode is the first one I remember as being outstanding, and I think it's coming up at the end of the first disc, so we'll see. That would be Nighthawks, a pretty tense piece about a Vietnam vet who ends up with spooky mind powers thanks to Agent Orange, but is also haunted by terrible flashbacks. The flashbacks and the spooky mind powers get together and shoot up a diner somewhere in the midwest. It's pretty cool...

But: why am I on to Twilight Zone, anyhow? Wasn't I in the middle of rewatching all seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation? Yes, but apparently we can't get season six from Blockbuster Online, so, anyone who has a copy of season six, please mail to us in a S.A.S.E. and we'll send back in a few days.

D.