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Friday, May 30, 2008

Braintax for My Taxed Brain 

My new favorite hip-hopper is Braintax. Apparently he just retired, which sucks because he's got some really well-sculpted lyrics. Here he is with someone named Dubble Edge:

I wish he made a video for Retail or The Beast Is Us. Listen at Amazon.


Dirty Diggers are also good.

Today I'm listening to: Braintax!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Utah Phillips 1935-2008 

I just found out Utah Phillips died. This makes me sad, as he was a tremendous radical American activist, storyteller, and cultural treasure. He was the lovechild of Mark Twain and Emma Goldman.

If you don't know who he is, please read the Wikipedia article there and watch the video below.

I maintain that the first album Ani Difranco did with his work is the best thing she's ever done.

Today I'm listening to: Utah Phillips!

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Fantastic Story 

The pterodactyl gestured with its head. It wanted me to climb on its back. "I cannot believe this!" I cried. It gestured again, as if to nod. It almost seemed to be smiling. Where had it come from? Why had it chosen me? I didn't know – all I knew was that this would be the most fantastic experience of my life.

As I sat across its wings, it soared into the air. The ground fell away and I held on with a giddy rush as euphoria swept through me. Then – even more amazing – the giant lizard bird spoke.

"So," it said in a raspy voice, "where shall we go?"

Stunned, thrilled, and breathless, I said: "I don't know. This is all so tremendous!"

"There's a performance of Bizet this afternoon," it said. "We could go see that."

"Uh," I said.

"Or we could go down to the library and see what new books they've gotten in recently."

"That's really dumb," i said. "Why don't we go fight some other dinosaurs?"

"What other dinosaurs?"

"I don't know. Aren't there some other dinosaurs somewhere?"

"Just my mom."

"Well, let's go fight—"

"We are not going to fight my mother!"

"How about the Blue Angels?" I said. "They're performing today over the state capital. I bet you could take down two or three of them."

It twisted its head to shoot me a confused, angry glare. "You want me to attack a steel jet plane?"

I threw up my hands and nearly fell off. "Well I don't know! Let's do something fun!"

One hour later, we were parked in the uncomfortable wooden chairs of a lecture hall, listening to a 90-year-old bald guy talk about the textiles of Ancient Mesopotamia.

"This sucks," I said.

"Shhh!" the pterodactyl hissed. "I'm trying to hear this."

It was the most boring day of my life.


Apparently a pterodactyl has been spotted in Texas:

Today I'm listening to: The Burnside Project! This video – for a nice song of theirs – is like watching people suck face in front of Koyannisqaatsi.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Two Things 

I know I linked to her from the Tumblr site back when, but I feel the need to remind people that Kate Beaton is a fantastic comics artist. Think US/European history mixed with Snake 'n' Bacon. (TPCQ: "Sssss." "I'm real bacon.") Click on the image here to the right to see the full-size version. (Warning: It has bad words.)

I'm also reading The Nightly News, a graphic novel about a cult which attacks reporters. I bought it because I was flipping through it and found this exchange on page two:
"The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfill this role requires systematic propaganda." – Noam Chomsky & Edward S. Herman, Manufacturing Consent

"...Chomsky's a [bad word] retard." – Senator M. Jay Rector, D-GA
I have mixed feelings about the book so far (which hopefully I'll share when I'm done – oh boy, hang on!), but I thought this was an interesting exchange, on p. .. well, it appears there are no page numbers. This is maybe 1/3 through the book:
Government Agent: "remember... 'Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.'"

Media Magnate: "Who's that? Chomsky?"

Government Agent: "Goebbels. Goodbye."
Okay, back to COD4.

No more TimeWasters&trade today. Go read Beaton's comics.

Today I'm listening to: See the post from earlier today. I'm still listening to that.

My Astronaut Friend 

I had lunch with NASA astronaut Sunita Williams recently. She came to the school where I teach in order to inspire the kids to explore space and fight the bugs who attacked Buenos Aires. (Wait, I think that part is from Starship Troopers. We never tried pulling out of the insects' territory, Garrett.)

The school had an essay competition to allow students to eat lunch with her, and I was the first person to turn one in. (Even though I'm not technically a student.) I read up on her life and some of the wacky experiences she's had, including squirting wasabi paste all over the International Space Station. My essay was called 3.. 2.. 1.. Lunch: Why I Should Be Invited to Have Lunch with Sunita Williams. To my joy, it was selected as one of the very best, and I was invited to join the special event.

So when the Big Day came, I brought a tube of wasabi paste to replace the one she lost in space. It was a lovely lunch (even though I was seated at the kids' tables, away from the central table where she ate with all the grownups like the mayor and superintendent). (TPCQ: "Hi, Principal Skinner. Hi, Supernintendo Chalmers!")

I tried to get the Colbert SEG down, but I wasn't able to really get the grin or the lean right. Still, it's a cool picture, even if the camera does add thirty pounds. Oh, wait. That's my constant inhalation of snack cakes and Taco Bell. Whatever; I'm not going into space. And she said my tie was cool.


Here's a video of Suni speaking to Earth from space and giving a tour of the space station. I wasn't able to see the wasabi floating around, but you can see India from space.

Today I'm listening to:

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Monkey Shines 

If you saw the movie For Your Consideration, you may remember the weather lady and her ventriloquist monkey. Her name is Nina Conti, and the monkey is named Monk. The extra scenes they do on the DVD are excellent (see YouTube link below), mostly because Monk is totally deadpan, and they're one more example of why in general comedians from the UK (Ricky Gervais, Eddie Izzard) are kicking the arses of US comedians (Dane Cook, Carlos Mencia) all over the place.

Maybe we could have a moment of peace for Bill Hicks and Mitch Hedberg. Oh, Dmitri Martin's good, and so's Eugene Mirman, who has a creepy singing child on his website. And Maria Bamford.

Silly goose!

Enjoy the clips of Nina and Monk below. YouTube has other clips of them performing in clubs and stuff.


Today I'm listening to: Alec Empire!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Death, where is thy sting? 

The Microsoft zombie priests have completed the penultimate blessed ritual of post-mortem revivification. The corpse I sent to them has been cleansed of its wandering spirits, and is moving – like a creeping mist, edging through the paroxysm of dawn – to my home at this very moment. Soon my precious will be alive once more. I have named it Emily, and I have picked a rose for it.

On Tuesday I enjoyed the outdoors by riding my bicycle to complete a series of mundane errands. Upon returning in the evening, an automated message from the undertaking/overtaking service was on my messaging device. The robot told me that the resurrected body would complete the final steps in its long journey come Wednesday. It further explained that a preliminary delivery attempt was required, after which time differing arrangements could be investigated. Whereas I shall be in the classroom at such a time (and therefore unable to provide the necessary signature), these conditions were clearly – woefully – unacceptable.

I called the overtakers at UPS and demanded to know, specifically, where the body was at that moment. I spoke to a woman named Lenore. This I took to be a bad omen. Though a delightful woman, I worried that she was a herald of Mr. Poe's dreaded phrase. Might I see my beloved Emily.. nevermore?

Lenore confirmed the robot's missive. Chagrined, I inquired as to the possibility of some unadvertised option which is not offered to all UPS customers, whereby I might meet someone at a back door, receive my package, and slip someone an envelope containing many unmarked bills. Amused, she regretfully declined my offer, so I tried a different approach: I asked if she played video games. "Sometimes" was the reply.

"So perhaps you'll understand," I said. "The package you currently possess is my XBox360, which has been rescued from the River Styx by powerful voodoo priests working for the Microsoft corporation. I have been waiting for this package for many weeks. Imagine if a heroin addict were expecting a delivery from a good friend of his; would you expect him to say: 'It's okay. I can wait until tomorrow afternoon.'?"

She laughed, and mentioned that her own three children are similarly ... shall we say, devoted? to their pixellated entertainments. Then she reiterated that no prior-seizure options were available to me. Waiting was the only opportunity. She suggested I check the UPS website from school, to see if the delivery attempt had been made. (When it has, I can arrange for a pickup.) I noted that perhaps our school's sophisticated censors would prohibit such an activity, and she reminded me that I could call from a standard touch-tone telephone. I thanked her for this reminder and assured that I would request her by name. I shall bring the number of tracking to school, to have it ready when I call.

So now I must wait. The agony of my dream deferred is no mere withering grape under pleasant sunlight; my suffering is compounded mightily by the knowledge that my beloved Emily is somewhere close to me – and yet I may not hold it. The worlds we have come to know together remain locked to me. My blue-tiger AK47 with the ACOG scope and marytrdom grenades sit useless on the floor of my barracks. (There are many blue-tiger AK47 rifles with ACOG scopes in the Call of Duty 4 universe, but that one is mine. Without me, it is nothing.)

But soon the moment of destiny shall arrive. My beloved shall breathe here, with me, once more. I can move its elderly father aside and make room once more to situate the sensual lines of its console. My headset will become a part of me once again, and I shall be able to listen to DMX while shooting virtual terrorists (or SAS troops, as the situation may require).

But even more importantly, my wife Diane is coming home tomorrow, too. Yay!

The image above is La Résurrection de Lazare (d’après Rembrandt) by Vincent Van Gogh.

Monday, May 05, 2008


I was worried that OnionTV would just be re-hashing stuff from the newspaper.* But gems like this make me pee myself. WARNING: Some bad words toward the end.

McCain Declines Secret Service, Dares Assassins To Try Something

*Which is what they appear to be doing – with enticing results – in the forthcoming Onion Movie. Check out the trailer! WARNING: Some bad words – and Steven Seagall (yes, it's really him) toward the end.

Today I'm listening to: Jedi Mind Tricks!

Oof – too much YouTube. Oh yeah, the title is from this:

Sunday, May 04, 2008

No It Hasn't 

Psyche! Tumblr's lack of comments and weird archiving system have proven to be insurmountable obstacles. I like being able to browse easily and have comments for each post and .. you know what? I don't need to justify myself to you! And I want to be able to put YouTube videos right in my posts. And also: Shut up. So we're back here, baby. I figured out how to fix my monthly archives, so I'm back on Blogger. Eat it, Tumblr! You suck! (Actually, no you don't. You're good for many things. But I need my HaloScan comments, yo.)

So yeah. Hopefully I'll get to the three remaining teacher movie posts soon. Right now I got me some papers to grade.


Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is a mentally unstable person.

Today I'm listening to: DI Breaks!