Friday, June 30, 2006
Superman, Church Music, And The Ubiquitous Metallica Mention
More of the usual… religion, rock and roll, and at least one post that's about both:
- The Superman / Jesus Connection
I'm not saying that I agree with this stuff, I’m not saying that I disagree with this stuff, I'm just saying that I read this stuff and I thought it was interesting.
Get Religion has collected various points of view regarding the possible Christian allegory of the Superman story. One clip from the New York Times asserts that…
There’s always been a hint of Jesus (and Moses) to the character, from the omnipotence of his father to a costume that, with its swaths of red and blue, evokes the colors worn by the Virgin Mary in numerous Renaissance paintings. It’s a hint that proves impossible not to take…
Every era gets the superhero it deserves, or at least the one filmmakers think we want. For (director Bryan) Singer that means a Superman who fights his foes in a scene that visually echoes the garden betrayal in “The Passion of the Christ” and even hangs in the air much as Jesus did on the cross. It’s hard to see what the point is beyond the usual grandiosity that comes whenever B-movie material is pumped up with ambition and money. As he proved with his first two installments of “The X-Men” franchise, Mr. Singer likes to make important pop entertainments that trumpet their seriousness as loudly as they deploy their bangs. It’s hard not to think that Superman isn’t the only one here with a savior complex.
Not everybody buys it. From the Dallas Morning News…
…there’s a vital difference from the message of Christianity: The caped, comic book “savior” is not sent to save people from their own evil. “He comes to help us find our potential,” (pastoral professor) Dr. (Reg) Grant said.
In fact, the new movie, despite its Christ imagery, could hardly be less theological. There’s nothing of prayer or heaven. Superman offers salvation only from the perils of this world.
To hammer that point, Luthor steals a quote from science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Or, though he doesn’t say so, from divinity.
Other commentators find parallels between the new Superman movie and The Da Vinci Code. Honestly, I don't much buy any of this… but it's interesting reading.
- A Return To Musical Reverence At Mass
If you attend a church where the music is reverent and traditional, I really hope you don't take it for granted. It seems like a lot of churches these days… even Catholic churches… are changing over to more "contemporary" sounding music during the worship service. According to at least one source, Pope Benedict would like to see a change. Of course, different sources report the story differently. The UPI version of the story is blunt:
Pope Benedict XVI is calling for an end to guitars and a return to traditional choirs in the Catholic Church.
The recital of mass set to guitars has grown in popularity in Italy and in Spain it has been set to flamenco music, the London Telegraph reported.
"It is possible to modernize holy music," the Pope said, at a concert conducted by Domenico Bartolucci, the director of music at the Sistine Chapel. "But it should not happen outside the traditional path of Gregorian chants or sacred polyphonic choral music."
It's no surprise that a Catholic news source reports the Pontiff's feelings with more nuance:
Pope Benedict said, "An authentic updating of sacred music cannot take place except in the wake of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony."
The pope said that in music, as in art and architecture, the church promotes and supports "new expressive means without denying the past -- the history of the human spirit -- which is also the story of its dialogue with God."
Speaking for my wife and myself, we prefer the more traditional kinds of church music… pipe organ, choir, etc. Nonetheless, each church has to do the best it can with the resources available to it. The music at the church that our family attends isn't exactly what Wendy and I would like to hear… but part of making a church work is compromise and unity. So we sing along and we don't complain about the guitars, bongos and clarinets. Nonetheless, like I said before, if the church you attend features reverent, traditional music during service, please don't take it for granted.
- Mandatory Metallica
Seems like I have to always feature a Metallica update these days, right? Well, if you're like me… a Metallica fan and a fan of The Simpsons, then you'll probably be amused to know that Metallica will be lending their voices to the program in an episode to air this September. Of course, this won't be the first time Metallica has been animated, and the picture here is yet another link to my favorite Metallica-related cartoon.
By the way, Lars says we should look for the next album about the middle of next year… and James reports that the album is being shaped by jam sessions and full-band collaboration… just like the last one was.
- New Alice In Chains Collection
Sony reports that a 2 CD collection called The Essential Alice In Chains will be released in July. I, for one, am thrilled to hear the news. It's about time somebody put together a good collection of tracks from Alice In Chains albums. Once this comes out, fans won't have to settle for listening to the songs collected in The Greatest Hits collection and The box set and the abbreviated version of the box set and the live album. Now if only Sony would take the incentive to do a "Best Of Alice In Chains" single CD collection, I'd finally feel like I have these same thirty songs collected together in enough different versions.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Mary, Marketing, Mutants, Movies, Metallica
Here's today's ramblings and absurd observations...
- Our Lady Of The Pruned Tree Branch?
Another one of those "Mary Sightings." Some folks in Cleveland have found an image of the Blessed Virgin in a piece of wood in their backyard:
Donna Vicarrone says it's truly a miracle that she found an image of the Virgin Mary in her backyard. Vicarrone and her husband were clearing out tree branches for a new sitting area. The beauty of one of the branches caught her eye so she kept it. But it was her husband who first saw Mary's likeness.
Since then, the Vicarrone's have shown the tree branch to a local priest and to a local prayer group and they all agree it looks like the Blessed Mother. The Cleveland couple have not yet decided what they will do with the image, but they are hoping to display it somewhere people can view it.
I've written about these kind of Mary sightings before, and my take on it then was that these kinds of things were probably harmless and that they had the potential to be good things if they inspired more reverence. Since I wrote that, my attitude has changed a little bit. I've gotten to the point where things like this make me a little uncomfortable.
These days, my personal religious practice involves a great deal of devotion to Mary. I had something of a personal epiphany about Mary a while back, and I've come to love and admire her very much. She means a lot to me and I try to keep her example in the forefront of my mind. I'm at the point now where I almost see these kinds of "Mary sightings" as a bit of a distraction. Mary's life is a wonderful example of Christian devotion and obedience to God. It bugs me a little bit when things like this happen because I don't like the idea of her becoming simply a pop-culture icon. Please keep in mind that all of this is just my opinion and I don't mean to present myself as an authority… I'm just one more sinner trying to follow Christ.
- The Passion Of The Billboard
The Unseen Blogger posted this picture the other day:
It's a billboard encouraging people to vote no in a municipal election regarding alcohol sales.
Unseen found the billboard distasteful:
Does anyone else, as Christians, find this campaign completely inappropriate and offensive?
What's next? Invoking the name of Christ for jaywalking? Littering? "You crucified Christ again by not recycling that aluminum can!!!" …
Christ's sacrifice was the ultimate sacrifice anyone could make. It should not be trivialized for the sake of self-righteousness.
I'm in totally agreement with my bandaged buddy about this. I think it's terribly insulting and that it really trivializes the passion of Jesus Christ. I'm particularly upset that Jesus is presented on the billboard with such an accusatory expression on his face. I don't think that the people who came up with this campaign understand the real point of the passion of our Lord at all. I'm not fit to judge them, of course, I know that… but my impression is that they see the image of the crucified Christ as a valuable tool for use in political propaganda. It's my belief that using Christ to achieve any kind of personal or political objective is blatantly taking the Lord's name in vain.
I'm going to make a further comment that is based on a speculation on my part, so please forgive me for that. My speculation is that this billboard was most likely put up by Christian Fundamentalists… and most of the Christian Fundamentalists I've known have told me that they consider crucifixes to be improper because a crucifix is a "graven image." Look, I can't define irony… but I know it when I see it.
- Spider-Man 3 Stuff
WARNING! Spidey-related links and videos below may contain spoilers!
What appears to be a legit teaser trailer for the next Spider-Man movie has leaked. Well, the trailer itself might not be legit, but it looks like it has some legit footage from the as-yet unfinished film. Watch it below, and then read my comments under the video.
OK, gut reaction: I'm underwhelmed by the trailer.
Looks like they've gone Hobgoblin for Harry Osborn instead of Green Goblin 2. I'm fine with that. In fact I predicted it.
I'm very disappointed by the images of Venom in the trailer. He just doesn't look right. In the comics, Venom is a huge, hulking thing. In this he looks more like a skinny vampire or something.
No peek at Sandman in the trailer? What's up with that?
A lot of info about the movie is supposedly leaking all over the net. Who knows how much of it is real or not. As of right now, my hopes are pretty low. My gut tells me they're trying to cram too much into one movie. They'll never top Spider-Man 2, and I'm actually starting to dread this film.
- United 93
I've posted a review of United 93 at film geeks if you want to read it. Rhodester has also posted a brief story about a friend of his with a personal connection to that flight. Interesting stuff.
- This Week In Catholicism
In a recent column, Pat Buchanan argues that the abhorrent trend of political correctness is threatening to make Catholicism an unacceptable faith in the political arena. I thought his point of view and the story that inspired it were interesting. By the way, even if Catholicism is under attack here at home, it seems to be growing in South Korea.
- Live Metallica
A while back I mentioned that Metallica has been doing a new old-school sounding song at recent concerts, and that they've been focusing on their older material live, even playing every track on my favorite Metallica album at recent concerts. Well, if you're willing to shell out a few bucks, you can go download authorized recordings of those recent shows. Personally, I'm unwilling to spend the money, so if you purchase and download those shows, send me a note telling me how they sound. Of course, I'm not suggesting that you send me copies of the shows themselves. Why, that would be wrong! And we all know that Lars wouldn’t approve.
Chad Is Not Enough is a blog by a fellow new convert to Catholicism. A Catholic Life clued me in to Chad's blog. Sometimes I come across a new blog and just like it right off the bat. This is an instance of that, and I can see me reading Chad regularly.
For more than a year now I've been reading another blog, A Southern Catholic Convert… but the other day I noticed that her blog was gone. I thought it might be a blogger issue, but I noticed today that her blogspot URL has been grabbed up by a new person. I guess I'll take the link down until I find out what this new person is all about.
I mentioned that my old blogspot URL was grabbed up recently. I wish the guy (or gal) who grabbed it would post more so I can get an idea of what he or she is all about, too.
A spambot comment at Where Have You Gone Ronald Reagan ended up leading to a fairly funny comment thread.
Oh, I also found another Catholic blog, Per Christum, with some good stuff by some good contributors. Go check it out.
- Funny… I don't Look Like Famke Janssen
Thanks to a link provided by
Wolverine…I mean Rey, I was able to find out which X-man I am:
This particular quiz was far more exhaustive than the one I took a year and a half ago. That one said I was Hank McCoy. I didn't agree with that one and I don't agree with this one, either. The X-man that I'd want to be is Kurt Wagner, the devout Catholic mutant known as Nightcrawler. This stupid quiz said I was Phoenix instead and said that my wife was Nightcrawler… which is dumb because my wife is clearly Kitty Pride. Stupid quiz.
That's all I got for today… and, frankly, that's plenty.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
AOL And The Myth Of Customer Service
Like just about everyone else in the world, Wendy and I both cut our internet teeth with America Online. We no longer use it, but there have been a couple of times over the years when "exciting new features" promised in the latest version have lured us back to try it out again. We've always figured out pretty quickly that the "exciting new features" were really the same old crap packaged differently… or else they were AOL's versions of services that could be obtained in a better form elsewhere. So we were lured back a couple of times and we ended up canceling our membership shortly thereafter both times.
The thing I remember most was that canceling an AOL membership was like pulling teeth. The sales reps that I spoke with were extremely pushy and determined to talk me out of canceling. They'd beg, bargain, argue… they'd do everything except provide me with actual customer service. Since I was an AOL customer and since I wanted my account canceled, it's my opinion that acceptable customer service would have been to simply cancel my account without hassling me about it.
The last time we canceled an AOL account, the telephone interaction with the service rep went so badly that I ended up actually yelling "JUST CANCEL THE DAMN ACCOUNT!" about three times before the guy finally agreed to do what I wanted. I'm not proud of that, I shouldn't have yelled, I shouldn't have sworn. I do believe, though, that if I hadn't sunk to that level, I'd have been on the phone with him for probably ten more minutes.
Apparently, I'm not the only person who's had this kind of trouble with AOL.
If you haven't seen Vincent Ferrari tell his AOL horror story on the news, check out the YouTube clip below:
Check out Vincent's blog, Insignificant Thoughts, where you can read his post about the incident with AOL. You can also click here to here the entire, unedited tape of the phone call with the AOL rep.
Hopefully, this will have a snowball effect and maybe… just maybe… lead to some positive changes at AOL. They're share of the ISP pie is smaller and smaller every day. They need to give people reasons to want their services instead of reasons to believe that signing up with AOL is like making a deal with the devil.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Da Vinci, Darth Vader, DMV, Etc, Etc...
I've reviewed The Da Vinci Code at film geeks if you care.
And thanks to the Unseen Blogger, I've also been insulted by Darth Vader while he tried to guess what I was thinking of in 20 guesses.
By the way, he didn't pull it off. It took him 23 guesses! HA!
By the way, if you've got any reason to think about moving to Virginia, you can go to the state's DMV website and get a virtual version of your personalized plates all ready to go.
And let me tip my hat to Strange Culture, who clued me in to a really worthwhile blogging effort. Check it out if you'd like to pay tribute to one of the people who died on September 11, 2001.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Just a few things I stumbled across on the 'net and the blogosphere this morning:
- I always look forward to MCF's Phantasmic Links on Mondays. It's almost a guarantee that I'll find something there that I enjoy. Like this little video, which made me laugh out loud. It's true. It's soooooo true.
This clip is rated PG-13. Don't watch it if you'd be offended by the site of a stranger groping Amy Poehler.
- Gibb Droll is an amazingly talented guitarist and I've had opportunity to see him play a number of times. The guy is gifted. He blows my mind. Check out his site, and read Jambander's loving tribute to the whole Gibb Droll experience.
- We've all seen those Claw vending machines. the kind where you drop in a couple of quarters and try your hand at moving the joysticks… you move the claw slightly to the left, slightly to the back, slightly to the front… and then you push the button to drop the claw and maybe get yourself a stuffed animal… or maybe a watch… or maybe a three year old boy. Read this news story, it's real and it's kinda freakly.
- Of course, people are still talking about the announcement of the location of WMDs in Iraq. A Regular Guy is one of those people, and his comments solicited a typical bone-headed remark from an anonymous liberal. Go read the post and then read the liberal's remark. With elections coming, we need to have constant reminders that the liberals don't really have any ideas, still haven't woken up to the realities of our post 9/11 world, and bring absolutely NOTHING to the table.
- Wendy and I had a childless weekend, all of our kids are with their other parents. So last night we took in a double feature at Hull's Drive In, one of the few remaining Drive-In movie theaters in the country… and, as far as I know, the only non-profit, community operated drive-in in the whole dang world. We saw United 93 and The Da Vinci Code, both of which I'll review at film geeks as time allows.
- Apparently, My Old Blogspot address has already been grabbed up by a new blogger. I wish him (or her) the best.
- I followed a link that Jerry posted and found out that, according to the commercial value of a human life, I'm worth $1,092,502. Jerry himself is worth $1,961,170. My Jerry and I are the same age, but my resale value is probably lower because I have had a great deal of spinal surgery. Besides, I'm not for sale. I am, however, available for rent, eight hours at a time, to a nearby paper company.
- I found a new blog I like. Check it out.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Does That Make Me Crazy?
I mentioned the other day that my favorite current hit song is Crazy by Gnarls Barkley. The chorus of the song is "Does that make me crazy?" That chorus inspired the introspection that lead to these observations about myself:
- When I pay for gas at the pump, I'm obsessive about the receipt. I always print the receipt and I always keep it on the seat beside me or on the dashboard so that I can grab it quickly. The reason for this is that I am convinced that I'll eventually be falsely accused of a gas drive off and need to be able to prove my innocence.
- Whenever I hear the song "Africa" by the band Toto... and assuming that someone else is around... I always say "Did you know that this song is about David Arquette?" Usually, this just gets me a weird look... but now and then there'll be someone around who knows the real story, which is that the Toto song "Rosanna" is actually about Rosanna Arquette.
Usually, such a person will correct me and try to make me understand that I've got it wrong, but I always hold steadfast with a straight face and adamantly insist that the song "Africa" is about David Arquette. There have been a few times when I've been able to drive people into a buldge-eyed state of raging frustration with this act. Those have been among the happiest moments of my life.
- When I was six years old, if a genie had shown up and granted me one wish, it would have been "Turn me into Spider-Man." I am now almost 38 years old. These days, if a genie were to show up and grant me one wish, that wish would still be "Turn me into Spider-Man." I am absolutely serious.
- When I yawn I make a horrible, hideous, terrifying gasping sound. It's the kind of sound that causes people who've never heard me yawn to jump from their chairs and ask, in absolute seriousness, if I'm going to be OK. There is nothing I can do about this. I wish I could stop making this horrible sound when I yawn, but I can't. This is just how I yawn.
- I didn't learn to swim until I was 24 years old. I was taught to swim by the guitarist from one of the worst bands I've ever heard in my life.
- I once accidentally shattered my neighbor's window by throwing an onion through it. I swear, that's the truth. I swear, it was an accident.
- One of my most deeply held beliefs is that there is no such thing as being too old to wear the Burger King paper crown.
- I have to sleep with a box-fan on... on high... year round.
- Most of the songs on the radio these days suck. One especially bad song is called "Tipsy" by some moron named J-Kwon. The chorus of the song is the phrase "Everybody in the club getting tipsy" repeated about a thousand times. Because this idiot slurs his words so badly, I honestly thought for a very long time that he was singing "Irv Gotti in the club eating chips." I only found out that I was wrong a night or two ago when my wife corrected me.
- I chew ice. Manically.
- I have an almost obsessive hatred of hippies. I really, really, really hate hippies. I don't hate individual people, so if I see a person who is clearly a hippie, I don't find myself thinking "I hate that person." I do, however, hate the whole hippie ethos, and the mere sight of a hippie sometimes puts me in a good, long bad mood.
- While driving, walking, etc... if I look up and make eye contact with a stranger, I'll typically wave and/or say hi. I don't think that's a big deal, but it seems like almost everyone I am currently married to thinks that it's evidence that I'm crazy.
Friday, June 23, 2006
Friday Fundamentals: A Return To My Roots
With my bandwidth issues behind me (at present), let me get back to what I do best: irresponsible, extremist right-wing tirades:
- WMDs, Cover-Ups, Political Spin, Etc
The Hidden Blogger wrote a darn good bit about the recent announcement of the location if WMDs in Iraq. The thing is, the WMDs that were found in Iraq were kept secret for a number of valid reasons... reasons that may have saved lives:
The revelation that Coalition forces have discovered about 500 shells containing chemical weapons (mostly sarin nerve gas and mustard gas) since 2003, most of which are pre-1991 Gulf War vintage, leads to the question as to why the U.S. waited so long to reveal this. The U.S. government has taken a beating for supposed failures to find weapons of mass destruction in the press, and from political opponents...
If the United States were to have announced WMD finds right away, it could have told terrorists (including those from al-Qaeda) where to look to locate chemical weapons. This would have placed troops at risk – for a marginal gain in public relations...
In other words, the Bush administration kept their mouths shut, sucked it up, and let the press and the liberals trash them all this time with the hopes that by doing so, lives would be saved.
Once again, the futility of thoughtless liberal outrage is writ large for all who care to pay attention.
- Abortion Is Racist. Period.
Ohio GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell makes a strong point:
(Blackwell's) book (Rebuilding America)... says: "Statistics show that between 1882 and 1969, 3,446 blacks were lynched in the United States. That number is bypassed by the number of African-American abortions every three days." He calls it "genocide by abortion."
Another chapter says: "The politics of guilt, rage and violence have now had more than four decades of robust expression in America. Yet making white America feel guilty for the racial discrimination suffered by African-Americans has not worked."
Look around. Pay attention. Who shows up waving signs at the pro-abortion rallies? Middle-class, liberal whites. In other words, the people who enthusiastically support abortion through political action are, according to the numbers, NOT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE HAVING ABORTIONS. Wake up, black Americans. The white liberals are trying to kill you off, one by one, in the womb.
HT: A Regular Guy.
- Our Lover, Who Art In Heaven
The leadership of the Presbyterian Church in America has proposed some radical, gender-free changes to the age-old names by which we Christians refer to the Godhead. Apparently, the terms Father, Son, and Holy Spirit just don't cut it in today's oh-so sensitive world.
Strange Culture has a great list of the terms they're considering:
- Mother, Child and Womb
- Rock, Redeemer and Friend
- Lover, Beloved, and Love
- Creator, Savior and Sanctifier
- King of Glory, Prince of Peace and Spirit of Love
- Rainbow, Ark, and Dove
- Speaker, Word and Breath
Oh, my rainbow.
- My Favorite New Music Video And Song
First of all, you need to know that Gnarls Barkley isn't a he. Gnarls Barkley is a them. Now that you know that, check out this amazing video. The visuals are great, and the song has a catchy, Marvin-Gaye classic soul feel:
Have a good weekend. I'll wrap up with a picture that I stumbled across on the net. It made me laugh out loud.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Bandwidth Theft: Summation
One week ago tonight I checked the server stats at darwen.us (our family site) and noticed that about 70 percent of the bandwidth getting pumped out was actually being stolen. Stolen by a process called hotlinking, which had been done by various MySpace-Cadets, assorted forum posters, and sundry other internet riffraff.
I won't bother to recap everything that's happened between now and then. I blogged about all of it and it's in the archives if you care to read it.
Suffice it to say that I tried everything I can think of to solve the problem:
- I tried harassing the thieves into getting their grubby paws off my bandwidth by replacing the files they were stealing with embarrassing graphics. Sometimes I'd feel guilty about having done that... but then I saw some of the things that other bandwidth theft victims had done to strike back. Suddenly I felt very minor league.
- I tried solving the problem technically with java codes and php files. Each of them was, according to the author, the miracle cure. None of them worked for me.
- I tried learning to create and alter an .htaccess file that would forbid bandwidth theft. The coding proved to be beyond my abilities.
So far, here's what I've figured out how to do:
01) Check my server stats and see how much bandwidth is being stolen.
02) Express my frustration with several vulgar words and a grunt.
03) Move all of our family blogs to our central server space so that stolen bandwidth is easier and quicker to find among my stats. No more long hours will have to be spent combing the stats, looking for bandwidth fraud. I can catch 'em at a glance. In short, if a file is going anywhere other than darwen.us or one of it's subdirectories, it's a big red flag.
04) Continue changing the graphics being stolen so that they lead to something other than what the bandwidth thief thinks he or she is getting.
So I guess that's how I'll continue to handle the situation. However, instead of taking the trouble to create an elaborate and time-consuming graphic with the goal of embarrassing the bandwidth thieves, I'm simply going to replace everything they steal with this huge, obnoxious, ugly graphic. Hopefully, this ugly thing will so badly screw up the look of their pages that they'll notice it right away and take it down.
In the meantime, thanks to all of you who've put up with my ranting about this topic. Thanks, also, to those of you who've taken the time to update our links (mine, Wendys, and film geeks) at your blogrolls. Your kindness is honestly appreciated.
And thank you to my wife, who has put up with me during what has honestly been an unhealthy obsession. I've actually lost sleep about this.
You'll also notice that there's a new Department at SouthCon. This department is simply called Bandwidth Thieves, and it's just a post where I'll expose people when I catch them. I scrapped an old post so I could hide this thing deep in the blog. Mostly because I'm a little sick of it. If this kind of thing interests you (and I guess that's possible), feel free to check that department from time to time. I must admit, I do enjoy exposing them.
And, with that, other than in that one specific department, I don't intend to ever mention the topic here at SouthCon again.
Until the next time I think about it and get good and PO'd and wanna gripe about it.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Still Working On Code
Still trying to prevent bandwidth jacking. No luck so far.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Working On The Bandwidth Theft Thing...
...so things might look kinda screwy around here for a while. I'm trying to learn some new kinds of coding. Meantime, if SouthCon looks weird, that's because as of yet, I don't know what I'm doing. Be patient.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
MyWar 5... A Quick Update
I got an e-mail from a Karen Swain KarenKaren07@hotmail.com which simply said "Thanks for the VD." Well, I assumed that she was one of the MySpace-Cadet Bandwidth suckers who'd been stealing my bandwidth. So I checked to see who'd recently taken the "smartbomb" banner down and came across two.
One was our buddy "Terry" (you might remember him from yesterday's post). Terry decided to stop stealing my bandwidth and no longer has a social disease. Good for you, Terry.
I also found that someone who calls herself Sonia Pneumonia had wised up and taken the banner down. Could Sonia Pneumonia possibly be Karen Swain?
I noticed that Sonia Pneumonia listed herself as living in Santa Cruz, California. So I did a Google Search for Karen Swain and Santa Cruz. One of the things I came across was an East Bay Municipal Utility District Directory in PDF form, which does have a listing for a Karen Swain ... with phone numbers and everything. I think there's a good chance that we've got a positive ID on this culprit. ;)
So, Sonia Pneumonia, all I can say is that you never know what you might end up with when you suck on a stranger's bandwidth. I hope you learned your lesson.
The war continues....
MyWar Part 4: The Jihad Against MySpace Continues...
If you're not up to date on my little personal war against MySpace, you might want to read over some of the previous day's posts. Or, you can settle for the Readers Digest version, which is as follows:
Point One: This is a picture of the MySpace users who have been stealing my bandwidth:
Point Two: This is a picture of me:
So now, on with the latest.
- I noticed the other day that a French girl had been jacking my bandwidth for an image from a Tim Burton movie. I changed the code so it directed the bandwidth she was stealing to this image:
But then I noticed that a a number of people were jacking that same image, and that most of them weren't French. So I changed the code again to my all-purpose MySpace smartbomb image, which, of course, is this:
- I also noticed that an image of mine was being jacked by a girl who was a big supporter of PETA. So I changed that image to this one:
But then I noticed that it was popping up at lots of different MySpace sites, too... and it crossed my mind that some of them might actually be antiPETA and might enjoy the new banner. Well, I can't have that. So I changed that image to the smartbomb banner, too.
Striking back at bandwidth thieves is downright addictive.
- I found a message board where a guy had jacked an image of a musician from my server space. He's got the smartbomb posted there now, too. The irony is that he makes an anti-MySpace remark during his post. This message on the board is so old it's likely that nobody will ever see it again anyway.... but just in case... just in case...
- I found another old message on a board where some guy was swiping my Sandman image from a post at film geeks. It seems like lots of people like to swipe stuff to post on message boards. Well, that guy isn't stealing what he think's he's stealing anymore. And neither is this guy or this guy or this guy or this guy or this guy or this guy or this guy or this guy or this guy.
- Here's one where someone stole bandwidth from an image on Wendy's blog. They took her lip balm image. They aren't taking it anymore.
- This person has one of my images somewhere on her website... but I decided not to seek it out and alter it simply because I liked her anti-abortion banner. I guess I do make exceptions. Hey, double-standards are allowed when you're dishing out your own bandwidth.
- Now this one I can't figure out at all. Some AOLer has my whole blog in an embedded window at their AOL personal page. Why?
It's safe to say that I'll be using the "MySpace smartbomb" banner as a replacement for EVERY bit of code that a MySpace-Cadet jacks from me from now on. It's a good multi-purpose banner, and I'm sure it'll accomplish my goal regardless of who ends up displaying it through bandwidth theft.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Me Vs. Myspace... Part 3
Read part one and part two if you're not up to date so far.
It is amazing to me how many of these MySpace users just don't bother to check their websites. That Vonnegut picture that they'd been bandwidth jacking from me... the one I changed into a Larry the Cable Guy image.... well, most of them still have it up at their site.
Somebody offered me a good explanation for that:
I was told that most of these MySpace users are just looking for someone to hook up with... they don't really care about their site, they just create it and let it sit there and hope that the e-mails and instant messages start rolling in.
Apparently, from what I'm told, MySpace is just used as a quick and meaningless way to arrange a quick and meaningless date.
Once that knowledge sunk it, the whole Larry the Cable Guy graphic seemed futile.
Therefore, the code that once linked to a Vonnegut picture... and that then linked to a Larry the Cable Guy picture... now links to the banner below:
If you're still seeing Larry there, hit refresh so the new banner will load. I think that maybe I'm going to replace every bandwidth-jacked image of mine with this banner from now on.
Here's a list of the MySpace sites that are still stealing my bandwidth. This is just BOUND to get their attention and get them to stop stealing my bandwidth, right? You can check them whenever you feel like it and see if they've wised up or not... and I'll update this list, just like I've been updating the original Larry list.
Remember, you may have to hit the REFRESH button to see the new banner.
Let's start out with this one.
Then this one. Update: Thanks to The Governor for pointing
out this one... one of this moron's friends has noticed
the poster and left a comment: "What the hell? You better
take down that VD poster, Terry."
Here's still one more.
Hey, how about another?
This guy has the banner in his "Who I'd Like To Meet" list.
And another one.
Here's one last one.
This war, of course, will continue until they stop stealing my bandwidth... or until the English have me drawn and quartered with me screaming "FREEDOM!! the whole time.
They can take my bandwith. They can steal my graphics. But they can never take away my honor.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
My MySpace Campaign Continues
If you didn't read yesterday's post about how I'm striking back at the MySpace Bandwidth vampires, then go read this first. If you did read it, you might want to check it anyway, as you'll notice that I'm keeping tabs and posting updates.
Anyway, I've been checking the stats and finding a TON more instances of bandwidth theft by MySpace-Cadets. And, of course, I've been messin' with 'em.
Now, keep in mind that any one of these doofuses could notice the changed image and get rid of it at any time, and then the fun is over. But, surprisingly, sophimost of them seem to be staying up for a while.
Today, I'm not taking the time to craft elaborate images, like the Larry the Cable Guy graphic. I just don't have the time... instead, I'm just pulling random, obtuse images from the net. I don't have time to get elaborate today. I DO, however, want to make sure that these MySpacers get Punk'd.
I have no idea how long the images will remain up before any given MySpace-Cadet notices what's happened and makes a change, but in the meantime, here are a few that you might get a chuckle out of:
- A certain young French lady is obviously a Tim Burton fan and thought it would be fun to jack one of my Burton movie images. If you look at her site, you'll probably notice my replacement graphic pretty quickly. You might say I wanted to put up an image of my idea of the average Frenchman, and you'll probably spot it fairly quickly. As a bonus, this totally NonFrench MySpace-Cadet ended up with the same image. I can't help but wonder what she'll make of it.
- What is it about Kurt Vonnegut fans that makes them feel soooo comfortable stealing people's bandwidth? This next thief really wants to meet Vonnegut, and stole my bandwidth from a previous post to make her point. I think she should expand her horizons, and I changed my Vonnegut graphic as a way of giving her a gentle nudge.
- How about this adorable young lady? She bandwidth-jacked an image of mine that I'd put up to make a point about wrong-headed racial stereotypes. I looked around her MySpace profile a bit and noticed that she's a big PETA supporter. However, thanks to a bit of tinkering with the code that she stole from me, she is now making a strong anti-PETA statement. Go check it out. That one also popped up in discussion threads here and here and here and here. Boy, I just love altering the way these people present themselves to the public. Oh, well... steal my bandwidth and you're at my mercy.
- This next scumbucket offended me right off the bat. Again, a while back I posted a picture of a horrible racial stereotype in a post that was intended to make a point about how hurtful it can be to stereotype people. This guy must have thought that the racist picture was just delightful because he stole my bandwidth and used the racist image as his MySpace background. I thought he could use a lesson in racial harmony, which is why his background is now a happy multiracial group of children.
- This bandwidth leech was sucking a still from The Exorcist at my film geeks top horror movies post. I'm sure she'll be surprised to find that now, instead of Linda Blair, she has a picture of an entirely different Linda. This goofball got the new Linda, too.
- A while back, MCF hosted a blog party involving formidable females and femme fatales. My list included Oprah, who was amazing in The Color Purple. When I posted that list, I included this graphic:
Well, today's investigating revealed that a number of people are using that image as their avatar on various message boards, at MySpace, etc. And so, of course, I changed that image as well. I wonder what they'll think of their NEW Avatar...
Something tells me they might make a change once they see their new avatars. (The change is quite dramatic. This one here is my favorite, scroll through, I think it's worth it. this one is good, too.) Hey, nothing against the VP, and that pic is obviously fake anyway... I was just trying to make a little commotion.
That's all I have time for today. But rest assured... this war is far from over.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
How I Screwed The MySpace Bandwidth Vampires
(Update: I'll be posting the latest on the MySpace links below when I notice that they've stopped jacking my bandwidth. If you see one that's changed, let me know.)
Alright, so I was checking my server stats today and noticed I was getting a heck of a lot of hits from MySpace. I figured What the ever-lovin' HECK is going on here?"
I looked into it and found out that I was being jacked for bandwidth.
You see, some time ago, I put up a picture of Kurt Vonnegut at in a post at film geeks. It was this picture here:
When I got to looking around at some of the MySpace sites that were tagging my server space, I saw what was happening. See, these MySpace losers were using my Vonnegut picture on THEIR website. Now, don't get me wrong, if they wanted to download it and put it up on THEIR OWN server space, that'd be fine with me. How do you think I got the picture in the first place? I got it the same way they did: by doing a Google Image search and finding it.
The difference is, I saved the picture on my own server space. These losers on the other hand just jacked my code and pulled the picture right off my server, using up MY BANDWIDTH for THEIR STUPID MYSPACE PAGES!
As you might imagine, I felt a bit violated.
If you want to see some quick examples of the MySpace pages that were using my image, pulling it right off of MY server, you can click for thumbnails here and here and here and here and here.
Of course, you know that this meant war.
I looked around at their MySpace sites a bit and asked myself... "what's the best way to get back at these pretentious, smug little snot-noses?"
It didn't take long to come up with an answer. I simply changed the code of the old Vonnegut picture and then created a new image and loaded it up on the server with the same name as the oldVonnegut picture.
This is the new image I created:
So that means that the MySpace scumbags are still stealing my bandwidth... or, at least, they will be until they eventually notice that where they once had a picture of their beloved counter-culture hero Kurt Vonnegut they now, instead, have a picture of that abrasive idiot Larry the Cable Guy.
I encourage you to check these MySpace profiles for yourself... just as a little experiment to see how long it takes them to find out that they're now promoting Larry as their favorite comedian.
Here's one of them. Update: Replaced with a picture of
Eeyore as of 6/16.
Here's another one.
Here's still one more.
And another. Update: Replaced With Keira Knightley as of
about 10:30 PM, 6/14. And that makes sense: "Kurt Vonnegut,
Keira Knightley, whatever...as long as I seem like Mr. Cool Guy, right?"
Hey, how about another?
This guy has Larry in his "Who I'd Like To Meet" list.
And yet one more. Update: Replaced with a new picture of
Vonnegut, this time jacked from another site. Wendy noticed
the change about 9:30 AM Thursday 6/15.
And another one.
Here's one last one.
So let that be a lesson to all you little MySpace idiots. Steal SouthCon's bandwidth, get SouthPunk'd.
Big Piece Of Pi, Thieves With Bad Taste, Hitler Youth, Etc
These stories caught my eye because one of them involves a semi-local kid... one involves an area local to where Wendy used to live... and one involves an area where I used to live...
- Yes, But Can He Bake A Pie?
A young local math wiz has done good:
Gaurav Raja can't really explain how he memorized and recited 10,980 digits of pi.
"I just can do it," Gaurav said Monday after breaking the North American and U.S. record, which stood at 10,625 for 27 years. "I don't think it's amazing, but it's like, yeah, I can do it!"
The achievement ranks Gaurav ninth in the world. The world record is 42,195.
It was the Salem High School junior's third attempt to break the record.
Gaurav, 15, has worked for the title since 2004.
I have to wonder how long it takes to recite pi out to 10,980 digits. I can't even imagine how long it would take me to recite 10,980 random digits. I don't know if I could do it without going into some kind of spasms. Of course, I've made no secret of my dysfunctional math phobia. I look at even the simplest sequence of numbers and I see this.
- Maybe They're Bad Kids, Maybe Not.
A Northport New York high school has apologized after two students picked a Hitler quote for their photo captions in the year book:
Two high school seniors picked quotations from Adolf Hitler's book "Mein Kampf" to appear under their high school yearbook pictures, prompting school officials to apologize.
The quotes were picked by Christopher Koulermos and Philip Compton, both 18. Koulermos' read "Strength lies not in defense, but in attack." Compton chose "The great masses of people ... will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one."
"It's our responsibility and we failed miserably," said Northport High School principal Irene McLaughlin. "The fact that the book went out in the form it did was a grave mistake on our part." ...
Compton's father, Steven, said that his son meant no harm in picking the quote. "I guess he didn't seriously consider the source; he was more interested in the quote," he said. "He's a child."
I'm inclined to believe that the kids really aren't young Nazis. I mean, sure, you don't want to go around quoting Hitler, you'll come off like a fascist. But the thing is, that one quote really is a good quote... and, ironically, I think that quote is a great explanation of how Hitler came into power in the first place. Hitler told big lies and Germany believed them. That quote works on more than one level. My gut reaction: Cut the kids some slack.
- Stealing Is Wrong. Stealing Dumb Movies Is More Wronger.
I used to live in Beckley, West Virginia... and I saw some weird things happen there. And this bit isn't even the weirdest thing I personally know to have happened in Beckley:
Thieves swiped more than 270 copies of the 20th Century Fox flick (Cheaper By The Dozen 2) from Wal-Mart stores in Beckley, MacArthur, Summersville, Lewisburg and neighboring Virginia shortly after it was released on DVD in late May, along with 22 copies of "Hollowman 2" and several other random items, said State Police Trooper M.S. Efird.
Efird said the "Cheaper by the Dozen" DVDs alone were worth $6,000.
A man and woman were captured by video surveillance that showed the pair entering the Beckley store and getting a shopping cart and storage container. They were briefly joined by three other people. The man and woman then went to the electronics department, where the man stuffed the DVDs into the storage container, Efird said.
The man talked on a cell phone and then the pair escaped through a rear fire door and climbed into a van, Efird said.
By "neighboring Virginia," I'm sure they mean the local Wal-Mart that Wendy and I shop in almost every other day. It is, after all, a straight shot on the interstate to that Wal-Mart from Beckley and Lewisburg.
Why would anyone pick that particular movie to steal that many copies of? What was going on in their heads? "You know how we can get rich? Well, Cheaper By The Dozen 2 comes out on DVD soon, and there's gonna be such a huge clamor for that film. If only we could get hold of some hot copies and sell 'em on the black market..." I mean, WTF??
- Speaking of Bad Movies...
If you're so inclined, you can visit film geeks and read my review of a piece of garbage film called Room 6.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Play The Spot The Fake News Game
What follows are my summaries of five news items. One of these news stories is from the parody site, The Onion. The other four are real, legitimate news stories. Can you figure out which one is fake without checking the links?
- Parents Reward Children With Weed
Tony and Aaron Carlson of Chandler, Arizona have been arrested on suspicion of possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia, possessing marijuana with intent to sell it, and contributing to the delinquency of minors. Fairly standard drug busts, actually. What really got the cops' attention, though, is what they've learned about the way that Mr. and Mrs. Chandler had been choosing to spend quality time with their children. Apparently, whenever their sons (ages 11 and 12) deserved rewards for good behavior... you know, doing chores, getting good grades, whatever... Mr. And Mrs. Chandler would burn a joint or two with the boys. Family bonding and all that. It does a family good to spend some time together, just kinda hanging out, smoking a couple of blunts, watching a little TV, whatever. It's all good, ya know?
Pot Parents: Is This Real News Or Not?
- Nude Mexican Cyclists Demand Respect
We live in a car-oriented world and a clothing-oriented world... and some good people in Mexico City, Mexico have simply had enough. On Saturday, dozens of naked people on bicycles rode through the streets of Mexico City, demanding that those who were clothed and in cars treat them with respect. According to a report by the Associated Press, protestors with slogans like "Respect Bike Riders" painted on their bodies, turned heads in a city where it's rare to see even clothed riders due to heavy automobile traffic. Some of the naked cyclists were quick to point out the benefits of their preferred mode of transportation. "We don't pollute," said Felipe Fulop, one of the protest organizers.
Nude Cyclists: Is This Real News Or Not?
- Uri Geller Wants The Pope To Help Him Secure Elvis Presley's Former Home
Noted spoon-bending "psychic" Uri Geller is involved in a legal dispute over ownership of a home once owned by Elvis Presley. Geller claims to have bought Presley's pre-Graceland home on eBay for just over $9,000,000 in May. However, according to Geller, the seller failed to acknowledge his winning bid and, instead, sold the home to the foundation of music producer Mike Curb. Geller had planned to turn the home into an Elvis museum, and now says that he won't rest until the house is legally his: ""There's no doubt in my mind the house is mine. I absolutely believe that. I've sought legal advice on both sides of the Atlantic and if that fails I'll take it to the Supreme Court. Even the Pope!" There has been no word from the Vatican regarding Geller's dispute with eBay.
Uri, Elvis, and the Pope: Is This Real News Or Not?
- Sony Debuts "Steve," Their Model Customer
Who is the ideal Sony target consumer? According to Sony CEO Howard Stringer, it's "Steve," the perfect model of the desired Sony product buyer and user. "By implementing parallel-purchasing solutions and simplifying its personality traits," Stringer says that Sony hopes to solidify their position as the leader and chief innovator in the consumer-electronics marketplace. "We’re introducing a range of cutting-edge consumer attributes that other electronics manufacturers can only dream of,” Stringer continued, elaborating on the way that Sony has zeroed in on the desired features of the ideal consumer. With a wide range of consumer-electronic devices, including televisions and DVD players, home video game consoles and portable game systems, Vaio computers, stereos and video cameras, Sony has become the standard bearer in personal technology. Now, with their focus on the consumer himself, Sony's market dominance is more certain than ever.
Sony Targets Steve: Is This Real News Or Not?
- Woman Attacks Breeder With Dead Chihuahua
A 33 year old woman in St. Peters, Missouri bought a Chihuahua puppy from a local breeder, and took it to a veterinarian for a check-up. Because the puppy was only four weeks old, the vet told it's new owner that the pup was too young to be separated from it's mother and needed to be returned immediately. However, on her way back to the breeder, the puppy died. When she got back to the breeder with the dead puppy, an altercation broke out between the woman and the breeder. The woman fought her way to the basement, where the puppies were, in an attempt to get a new, live puppy. Eventually, the breeder wrestled the angry woman back out of the house, where the woman proceeded to hit the breeder in the head numerous times with the dead puppy. Eventually, the woman drove away, waving the dead Chihuahua puppy out of her sunroof and yelling threats at the breeder. Police said they are considering felony burglary and misdemeanor assault charges against the woman.
Dead Puppy Maniac: Is This Real News Or Not?
After you've finished and figured out which story is fake, check out Strange Culture, where I first learned about one of the real stories.
And then, if you've got nothing better to do, read my new review of Contact at film geeks.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Just a few notes about some news stories that caught my eye because they specifically mentioned my faith:
Catholic Pharmacist Fired
A federal judge has supported Wal-Mart for firing a Catholic pharmacist who refused to fill prescriptions for birth control:
(Judge John) Shabaz said Wal-Mart and Medical Staffing Network accommodated (Pharmacist Neil) Noesen's religious opposition to contraception by having other pharmacists fill prescriptions. But he said Noesen went too far by putting customers who called about birth control on hold indefinitely and refusing to get service for those who showed up in person without notifying other pharmacists.
Noesen's firing was justified because he was disruptive and failed to meet Wal-Mart's expectations, the judge wrote in his 12-page ruling.
This is a tough one for me. I share the pharmacist's religious beliefs about birth control. So I sympathize with Mr. Noesen. Nonetheless, he took a job where he just had to know that he'd be expected to act in opposition to his religious beliefs. My gut reaction: It sounds like Wal-Mart went out of their way to help the guy observe his beliefs, but they just couldn’t make it work. I hope he's able to find a job where he can use his training in a way that's consistent with the religious beliefs that I share with him.
Nicole Kidman Is Catholic?
Wow. I never knew that. It might explain why she wasn't able to make things work with Tom "Scientology" Cruise. Nicole is now engaged to marry the country singer Keith Urban, and apparently wants to return to her religious roots as well... at least, according to this story:
"For Nicole, you know this is a spiritual homecoming, coming back to the church and her faith in her old parish," said Jesuit Father Paul Coleman, a longtime friend of the Kidman family who advised them on the annulment of Kidman's marriage with Tom Cruise.
Father Coleman is chaplain at Mary Mackillop Chapel in North Sydney, one of two Jesuit-run parishes in the Sydney Archdiocese. In January, Kidman mentioned the chapel as a possible wedding venue. The Kidman family lives nearby, and the parish is where Nicole and her sister, Antonia, went to school. Kidman, accompanied by her parents, Anthony and Janelle, attended Good Friday and Easter Sunday services there.
Alright. Well, I think Nicole Kidman has done some good work in some good movies... and I think Keith Urban is a really annoying pseudo-country singer... and I wish them both the best.
Randall Terry, Catholic Convert
The founder of Operation Rescue has apparently come home to the Mother Church:
Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, left his evangelical moorings and quietly joined the Roman Catholic Church. Now a Republican candidate for the Florida Senate, Mr. Terry heads an entity known as the Society for Truth and Justice.
In a delayed disclosure, he told the National Catholic Register he was finally able to surmount the "theological hurdles" of papal infallibility, Marian dogma, and purgatory. He was confirmed in the faith by a long-time priest friend during Easter week at a church in Binghamton, N.Y.
Mr. Terry, 46, founded Operation Rescue in 1987 and led it for its first seven years. He was arrested more than 40 times during civil-disobedience protests at abortion centers, and served jail sentences. Lawsuits stemming from those protests forced him into bankruptcy in 1998.
I share Mr. Terry's opposition to abortion, although there have been times that he's said things that rubbed me the wrong way. I agree with him that abortion is wrong and that life is sacred, but I haven't always agreed with his methods. Still, it's better to do something to try to get folks to wake up to the horror of abortion than to do nothing at all. That's not the point, though. The point is, Randall Terry has come home. Welcome home, Randall.
The LA Times Bashes Benedict And Picks Open Old Wounds
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen wrote the following about Pope Benedict's recent visit to Auschwitz in an LA times editorial:
Benedict's historical fabrication to Christianize the Holocaust is ... a moral scandal because it obscures the troubling truth about the Catholic Church: Its churches across Europe tacitly and actively participated in the Jews' persecution. Pope Pius XII, the German bishops, French bishops, Polish church leaders and many others, animated by anti-Semitism, supported or called for the persecution of the Jews (though not their slaughter). Some, such as Slovakian church leaders and Croatian priests, actively endorsed or participated in the mass murder.
Since Vatican II, the church has forcefully condemned anti-Semitism, even declaring it a sin. Yet Benedict stood in Auschwitz negligently silent.
Benedict has shown much goodwill in continuing to improve the church's relations with Jews today. But with his whitewashing of the past — exonerating both the German perpetrators and the church, universalizing the Holocaust and deemphasizing its purely anti-Jewish thrust — he turns the clock back on what the Catholic Church had, in the decade before his papacy, been acknowledging: that the church must confront the anti-Semitism of its past, that many Catholics participated in the Jews' persecution; that the church should have aided the assaulted people more.
Oh, Lord, where do I begin.
First of all, there is ample evidence to exonerate Pope Pius of complicity in the Holocaust. But some people have decided that Pius is, was, and will remain a Holocaust villain in their eyes, regardless of the facts. Nothing will change their minds. Oh, well.
Secondly, It seems evident to me that, to people like Goldhagen, any real reconciliation between Christendom and Judaism would actually be counter to his goals. People like Goldhagen and his ilk make their living by creating and maintaining divisiveness and conflict. There's nothing much we can do to change that either.
Look, I don't propose to speak for all Christians... but I can speak for myself and I feel somewhat comfortable speaking for the Christians in my family and the Christians I know. Here's the thing: We have tremendous respect and love for Judiasm and the Jewish people. We see them as our Older Brothers in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yes, the Holocaust was a terrible thing and it should never have happened. Yes, surely there was more that Christendom could have done to stop it. But rather than focus on the past, can't we try to heal those wounds and try to be more united instead of further apart? After all, there is a new Holocaust going on in the world right now... Maybe we should pay a little more attention to the present.
Just remember to get all of the facts when you read something as hateful and venomous as Goldhagen's editorial.
Friday, June 09, 2006
1) What were some of your scariest vehicular experiences, either behind the wheel or as a passenger?
I've been in two serious wrecks, both while listening to Metallica at full blast on my car stereo.
The first was entirely my fault. I was, like, 18 years old and driving irresponsibly. I had Disposable Heroes BLASTING, and I ran a red-light. I hit a Ford Bronco. I was driving a Ford Escort. Both of us were going about 40 MPH. Nobody was seriously injured, although I did get flung into the car windshield and my forehead shattered it. My left side slammed against the driver-side door so hard that I actually embedded the window crank into the car door. I had a big bruise on my arm from that for weeks. I remember walking around at the wreck site, spitting out glass, waiting for the cops and my parents to arrive. Basically, it scared me straight. I've been a careful driver ever since.
Which is why my second accident was not my fault. An old man ran a stop sign and plowed into my car (the same Ford Escort). I was listening to side two of ...And Justice For All at the time, but I'm not absolutely certain what song was playing. I think it was Harvester. Anyway, this time the Escort was totaled. They had to cut me out of the car with the jaws of life and everything. I had a sprained neck, but other than that I was OK. However, since I was complaining of neck pain, of course they strapped me to a gurney and took me to the hospital in an ambulance (Wheeeee!) and did a bunch of x-rays and stuff.
The lesson I've learned is that one shouldn't drive around blasting Metallica at full volume. Unfortunately, I have never once practiced the lesson I learned. I still drive around blasting Metallica on a nearly daily basis.
2) Are you going anywhere fun this Summer, and does Summer even mean the same to you as it did when you were younger?
We try to take summer trips with the kids every year. Amusement parks, natural wonders, museums, etc. This year, with me having missed so much work due to my surgery and because of the surgical bills, we'll have to restrict ourselves to free stuff... hikes, picnics, etc. All of which can be as much fun as anything else. Now that I'm a parent and get to plan the summer trips and get to vicariously experience the fun through our kids, summer trips mean more to me than ever.
3) What was your favorite childhood toy, and how did it influence you over the course of your life?
This is a picture of me on Christmas day when I was eight years old:
4) Speaking of childhoods, since I cast a Thundercats movie, Rey cast a Dungeons & Dragons movie, and Wendy made a comment about casting Atlas Shrugged, now it's your turn. Choose a cartoon, novel or other favorite work of fiction that's never been made into a movie, and tell us who you'd like to see star in it. If you're among those who’ve done this exercise before, of course you can do it again with something different.
The Shining is my favorite novel, but it's already been filmed twice... once for the big screen and once for TV.
I'd pick a comic book, but nearly all of them have already been made into movies, too.
I'm going to go over to my bookshelf and pick a book at random with my eyes closed. Be right back.
Oh, crap. This is the book I picked: The New Complete Brittany by Maxwell Riddle. This is a training guide for owners of Brittany spaniels, such as our dog Tilda. Not that there's anything wrong with this book. It is, in fact, a very useful book for owners of Brittany Spaniels, especially those who hope to train their dogs for bird hunting. Brittanys are natural born bird dogs.
How am I supposed to cast this book?
Alright, to the extent that our own dog would have a walk-on in the movie, I suppose she should be played by Tilda Swinton. Wendy and I have both been big Tilda Swinton fans for a long time, and that's why we named our dog after her. I think she could probably do a good job playing our dog, too. All she'd have to do is bound into a room on all-fours, jump up on the couch, lick everyone's face, and then lay in the floor and chew manically on one of her own legs for a few seconds... then drift off to sleep. I can see Tilda Swinton in that role. I think she could convey some real sense of the Brittanyness of our dog.
I've just flipped through the book looking for a picture of Maxwell Riddle himself, but there isn't one. I'm not sure who should play him. His name is rather enigmatic, don't you think? Riddle. Something about that name is mysterious. He's clearly an authority on the breed, and yet he's a bit of a puzzle. An authority and a mystery.... Who can pull that off?
Alright, Lawrence Fishburne should play Maxwell Riddle. He'd be kinda like Morpheus in the Matrix movies, only instead of helping people escape the false-reality of the Matrix, he'd be helping Brittany spaniels learn to get along in the human world. He'd say things to our dog like:
The house is a system, Tilda... but the system is your enemy. You look around, what do you see? Carpets? Linoleum? All of which you want to poop on. But remember, you are dependent upon the humans for your sustenance. You must use the system of the humans to get what you want. You want that which is known to us as the doggie treat. You want the scratching on the ear. Use the system, Tilda. Use the doorway. Go through the doorway. Poop outside. But remember, once you go through that doorway, once you poop outside, there's no coming back to poop inside.
As far as casting the other characters, I don't really know. There are some cute puppies pictured in the book. I think they should all be played by Dakota Fanning. Use CGI to replicate her so she can play all the puppies at once... just like they did with Hugo Weaving in the second Matrix movie.
Another Matrix connection.
You know, the more I work on this, the more I realize that my book on how to train Brittany Spaniels was really just a big Matrix rip-off from the start. And, to think, the first time I read it, I thought it was really original. I feel so stupid.
5) Your Current Age/2 = A
A + (A/2) = B
Your Current Age = C
If you say so.
What was your favorite pizza topping at A, B, and C respectively?(Providing the numeric values of A, B, and C is of course optional).
Oh, it's a two part question? Wait a minute. Let me go back and read the first part again.
5) Your Current Age/2 = A
A + (A/2) = B
Your Current Age = C
I don't know what that means. I don't like math. Numbers frighten me and make me uncomfortable. I hate and fear change. Please make the spinning stop. Make the spinning stop, I beg you. Please.
What was that about Pizza again?
What was your favorite pizza topping at A, B, and C respectively?(Providing the numeric values of A, B, and C is of course optional).
Oh, man. Oh, man. Oh, God, oh, man. Providing the respective numberistric values for my favorite pizza toppings, I would have to say that the answer is 5. Please tell me if I'm right.
I do like pizza. But, I like to eat it rather than do math with it.
SPECIAL BONUS QUESTION: If you could know one thing about MCF that you didn't, what would it be?
The same question that every guy eventually asks every guy buddy of his... if you had to pick one of the original Charlie's Angels, which one would it be?
Back To Basics
Alright, Copyright Violation Week officially ended with my last post... now it's back to my regular schtick: irresponsible right-wing propaganda, flagrant acts of liable committed against well-meaning liberals, and just your basic nutcase conservative extremist raving. You know how we do, dawg.
The Many Faces of Al-Zarqawi
I think I like the one in the middle best.
Yes, it is wrong, uncharitable and unChristian to rejoice at anyone's death... but this guy was a monster. I do believe that his death will potentially lead to fewer political murders in Iraq.
I believe it will also probably weaken the moral of Iraq's gangs of thugs that the US media insists on calling "the insurgency." Will someone explain that to me, by the way? Here in America, if you're a psycho killer, we call a spade a spade. Scum-of-the-Earth roving street-gangs that kill people are referred to as just that: Street gangs. The ones in Baghdad, however, are called "The insurgency." That really ticks me off because that term almost sounds like we're dignifying or respecting what they're doing. They're not "insurgents". They're disgusting slaughterers of the innocent. They're criminals. They're nothing more than common murdering hoodlums. Insurgents? Bullsnot.
By the way, some reports indicate that Al-Zarqawi's death has been met by joy in the streets of Baghdad.
Al-Zarqawi's family wants his body returned to them so they can give him a proper Muslim burial. You know what I say to that? Do it. Send them back his body as respectfully as possible. Demonstrate the difference between us and maniacs, such as their son.
Saint Jimmy Carter... Racist?
I'm not a Jimmy Carter fan, but I never thought of him as a racist and an anti-Semite. Julia Gorin, however, has a different perspective.
Moore Trouble Every Day
Guess who's getting sued by one of the many people he's told lies about? That lying, hypocritical idiot Michael Moore!
Sgt. Peter Damon, from Middleborough Massachusetts, is suing Moore because he claims that the filmmaker never asked for his permission to use a clip from a previous interview on NBC Nightly News for Fahrenheit 9/11. According to CBS News, Damon lost both arms when the tire on the Blackhawk helicopter he was servicing in Iraq exploded.
Damon alleges that while Moore presents him as disagreeing with the war effort, what he was really discussing in the NBC interview was the pain resulting in his injury.
Go get the S.O.B., Sgt. Damon. Your country supports you and is proud of you. We were proud of you when you served us in uniform and we're proud of you while you serve us by doing what you can to yank the carpet out from under that lying, manipulative, disingenuous, piece of rotting lard from Michigan. Hoooah!
Metallica have been playing a new song, ostensibly from their upcoming album, at recent shows. The bootleg of the song floating around the net isn't super quality... but, in my opinion, the song itself sounds REALLY promising. Pure Metallica. Reminds me of Ride The Lightning era stuff. Some reports indicate that they've also been playing the classic album Master of Puppets in it's entirety lately. That's gotta sound awesome, considering that new bassist Robert Trujillo is easily the most talented musician who's ever been a member of the band (except, maybe, Lars.) It's encouraging that they've been so enthusiastic about rediscovering their roots lately... especially since they're working on their next album with Rick Ruben, a producer who's been able to get outstanding work out of everyone from Johnny Cash to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It is entirely possible, old school Metallica fans, that our band is coming back to us. Sorry, teenie-boppers. Oh, well... there's always Nickelback.
I'm Totally 80's!
As evidenced by my certificate below! How 80's are you? Click the graphic below and find out!
Copyright Violation Friday: Cat Blog Friday
With apologies to Cube who always wraps up the week this way.
I figured I'd end the week with pictures of four cats I've known over the years.
This is Tiger. We got him when I was in third grade and he lived for more than eighteen years. Single greatest cat I ever knew. I'm not really a cat-guy, I'm a dog-guy... but Tiger, he was something else.
This is Digit. He isn't my cat, he's my sister's cat. Digit likes to sleep in sinks. He got his unusual name because he was born with a number of extra toes on each foot, each of which had to be surgically removed so that he'd be able to walk correctly. He's a very friendly cat in spite of his "Whatta you lookin' at??" expression in this photo.
This is Easter. I had my first experience with debilitating surgery in '95 and I couldn't leave my apartment much at all for months afterwards. Since I lived in an apartment and couldn't have a dog, my sister got me Easter as a get-well present. I really got attached to this little cat. She only lived three years, though. She died of liver failure for some reason. I spent several hundred dollars trying to keep her alive, and the vet tried everything he could think of short of an actual liver transplant, but it wasn't meant to be.
This is our current cat, Anne Murray. She's named for the singer of the same name, and I can't remember why. Anne Murray lives in our basement. She isn't allowed out in the rest of the house because she insists on doing number two on the carpet instead of in her litter box. And she's not allowed outside because she was declawed when we got her, so she'd be dog food in a matter of hours if she got out. So she spends her time in the basement, usually all alone, hopefully eventually figuring out why.
This is Inky. He looks like a cat to me. He's here as a way of sneaking in one last copyright violation for the week.
Have a good weekend, everyone!
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Copyright Violation Thursday: Theological Thievery
Since I'm focused on the faith today, I want to say thank you to the many Christian bloggers I read. The things they write and the ideas that they express have been helpful to me in the development and maintenance of my own faith. So thank you to fellow Christians, including (but not limited to) Name Hidden and The Write Jerry and Jamie Dawn and W-H-Y-G-Ronald-Reagan and Rey and, of course, the indispensable Pastor Scott at The Burr In The Burgh.
My apologies to other Christian blogging pals I may have failed to mention.
And I hope you don't mind if I make special mention of those bloggers who share my specifically Roman Catholic Christian faith. I've really enjoyed their blogs. So thank you for sharing your faith with me, either through long and explict blog entries or through subtle but telling asides. Thank you, fellow Catholics such as A Catholic Life and The Cafeteria Is Closed and Dymphna's Well and A Southern Catholic Convert and Thoughts of a Regular Guy and MCF and Willow
I'd be amiss if I didn't single out my real life friend, the Jambander, for special mention. One of my two oldest friends in the world (along with The Governor, who comments here frequently), Jambander and his family took my family under their wings during our discernment of the Catholic faith. Jambander was my personal sponsor, his luminous wife was Wendy's sponsor, and they are the godparents of all three of our children. As a family, our gratitude to them is more than we can express.
But enough with the mushy thank you stuff. On with the blatant copyright violations.
Ask The Seen SouthCon Blogger
The Unseen Blogger regularly invites his readers to ask him questions about his faith... questions he then answers at his blog. I've decided not only to steal that idea, but to steal one of the questions in it's entirety. Namely:
What is the bare minimum one must believe in order to be a "Christian"? I've come up with four general ideas, but I'd like to know what you think.
My bandaged buddy answered as follows:
I believe that anyone can be considered a Christian if they:
1) Believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as the Trinity,
2) Believe that Christ was crucified as a sacrifice for our sins.
3) Believe that Christ was resurrected.
4) Believe that Faith in Christ will lead to Salvation through God's Grace. I know some denominations believe that other things are needed, such as Baptism and good works, but Faith is also included in their beliefs of what is needed for Salvation.
5) Possess the Faith included in #4.
Now, believe it or not, this is an issue I struggle with. The question seems basic, and the answers provided by the Unseen Blogger are simple, concise, and unavoidably true. So why do I struggle with it? Well, for a number of reasons.
What about the people who go their entire lives and never hear the name of Jesus Christ? What about the people who are exposed only to a hollow, inaccurate, downright anti-Christian idea of what Christ is? What about people who are faithful followers of other religions and live inherently Christian lives?
All of those questions have simple, basic answers as well. Missionaries are doing all they can to spread the Gospel of Christ across the world. It's up to each of us as Christians to set a truly Christian example, so that others will know that those who do evil in Christ's name aren't really Christian.
The thing is, in Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis made an argument that has really won me over. I won't try to quote the entire argument here, it would involve copying pages and pages of the book. I won't try to paraphrase Lewis either. That's like trying to edit one of Mozart's symphonies into a three minute radio mix. I will, however, present the idea as I understand it, and I will apologize in advance to anyone I offend. I especially apologize to those who understand Lewis better than I do if I've misunderstood his argument.
Anyway, as I understand it, Lewis made an argument that comes down to this: It is not our place as humans to place our limits on how Christ can work in the lives of others. As we understand it, in order to come to know about Christ, one has to hear the Gospel and make a knowing and conscious declaration of faith in Christ... and then lead a Christian life. However, it is possible that Christ works in ways that go beyond our understanding. It is possible that Christ is working in the lives of people who have never heard of him. It is possible that Christ is even working in the lives of people who practice other religions. He told us, after all, that he has other flocks that he has to attend to.
I am prepared to be branded a heretic or a blasphemer because of that idea. I don't want to assert that I believe it to be an absolute truth.... it's just an idea that I'm willing to consider. Part of the reason for that is because of the book of Romans, part of which I'll quote here... Romans 2: 12-16
"All who sin outside the law will also perish without reference to it, and all who sin under the law will be judged in accordance with it. For it is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; rather, those who observe the law will be justified. For when the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge people's hidden works through Christ Jesus."
It comes down to this... Christ asked his followers to love the Lord God with all their hearts, souls, and minds... and to love their neighbors as themselves. I believe that there are those who do that without even knowing it. I also believe that there are those who believe that they do those things and yet don't do them at all.
I also believe that the passage I quoted above from Romans indicates that each of us is born with an innate understanding of what God expects from us. C.S. Lewis called it Natural Law. I believe that it is possible (as nutty as this sounds) to live a very Christian life and to never even consider the very idea of Jesus Christ.
Now, I am prepared to admit that I am possibly WAY off base here, and I'll concede so right off the bat. Feel free to comment about my ideas, but I'm not going to argue the concept because I can't defend it, other than to say that it's what I believe.
The Rock That Rocks
There were other things I wanted to cover here... I wanted in particular to write something about my devotion to Saint Peter. Dymphna's Well has featured some nice posts about various saints, and I wanted to steal that concept today, too. Peter is my favorite Saint and I find myself very drawn to his example. To be honest, I've wanted to write something about Saint Peter for a very long time now... but every time I try to sit down and find the words, I end up unhappy with what I put together.
Basically, what I want to do is write something that conveys why I love the guy so much, why I draw so much comfort from his example, his mistakes and his successes. Peter was such an important apostle. He was, after all, the rock upon which Christ built his church... and yet he was a terribly flawed guy. He denied Christ when it mattered most. He over-reacted during the Transfiguration to the point that God had to literally tell Peter to chill out and just listen to Jesus. And talk about over-reacting, think about that tantrum in the garden when the temple guards came to arrest Christ! Then, after the resurrection, Christ had to repeat himself three times in order to get Peter to understand the importance of tending to the Lord's sheep. My favorite typically Peter passage, though, is in the book of Acts. It's the part about the dream wherein animals are given to the hungry Peter and the Lord tells him to eat them, but he refuses to eat them because they aren't kosher. Yep, good ol' Peter, basically saying "I can't do what you tell me to do, God, because I'm too religious!" Nonetheless, he did get it right later when he realized what that dream was really about.
Oh, and how about when the angel freed him from the prison after he'd been arrested for preaching about Jesus. Most people would have said "Now's my chance, I'm getting the heck out of Dodge!" Not Peter. They found him again, the very next morning, right in front of the jailhouse, still preaching about Christ. The idea of running away never crossed his mind. He was too concerned about the Gospel. You gotta love that.
Basically, Peter was often thick-headed and narrow-minded. He often acted before he thought, and he sometimes behaved shamefully. And yet, he was the ROCK. He was well-loved and honored by Christ himself.
If a loveable lunkhead like Peter can be so important to the Lord, I guess I have a chance of salvation as well.
Someday I'll sit down and write about Peter... if I ever find the words to do the guy justice. Peter was the rock... and, in my opinion, Peter really rocked!
I guess that's all as far as Theological Thievery goes. I'll wrap up with a few pictures of St. Andrews Church in Roanoke. Wendy and I stopped by there the other day to pray. It's beautiful inside. I took a few pictures, but I felt weird about using the flash inside, so I didn't. Thus, the pictures aren't great... but there are some clickable thumbnails below.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Copyright Violation Wednesday: PBW - Beartown
With apologies, of course, to MCF, who's Photo Blog Wednesdays are always fun. While he may choose to remain mysterious and cloaked, giving us nary a glimpse of his visage, MCF has done something quite unique... he's shown us the world through his eyes. Gotta admit, that's cool.
I should also apologize to my very own child bride, who's subject matter I've stolen as well.
And while I'm at it, before I get on with my own pictures, I want to make sure I recognize a number of other bloggers who've posted pictures that have warmed my rusty old heart.
As I mentioned Sunday, I'm doing this Copyright Violation theme to celebrate my second anniversary as a blogger. As much fun as I have writing at my blog, the real fun for me is in the reading... and in the viewing... especially when my favorite bloggers post pictures like these:
- Lorna frequently posts pictures of her family, and there's just something about them that makes me smile. I guess it's just something about family, something about the ties that bind... Heck, I don't know what it is. I like that Lorna posts pictures like these. And, like the photo here, which is my favorite photo she's ever posted, and it happens to appear at the end of my favorite Lorna In Wonderland entry ever.
- Then there's Kelly, who got our attention with this beautiful early infant photo. What can I say, I'm a sucker for people's baby pictures.
- I'm a sucker for baby videos, too... like this one Rey posted just the other day.
- When you read people's blogs... and especially when they actually post pictures of themselves (nudge, nudge, MCF and Kelly), you can't help but feel like you've gotten to know them a little bit. (I hope that comes off as friendly and not cyber-creepy.) And when it comes to posting pics that run the gamut, The Write Jerry is in a class by himself. I mean, how can you not feel like you know a guy when you've seen him dressed up for Halloween and then attended his wedding to the lovely Mrs. Write?
- I don't get the chance to do much traveling.... so it was nice to be able to virtually visit Asia with Jamie Dawn. By the way, Jamie Dawn's prolific use of Flikr has given her readers a ton of chances to get to know her and her family.
- As I said, I'm not a traveler... more of a homebody. And a bit of a backyard gardener. So it's through the miracle of blogging that I've enjoyed the chance to visit Ms. Elanaeous's garden.
Having said all that, on with PBW.
Last weekend we took the kids to Beartown State Park in West Virginia. Beartown is known for it's unusual rock formations, and it's kind of a neat place to visit.
I have no idea why it's called Beartown. The name is a bit misleading, and I think the kids were disappointed that we didn't see any bears. Wendy tried to make it up to them with her doctored pictures at her blog.
The kids did, however, really enjoy the unusual rock formations. They weren't bored, they really got a kick out of it... and that made the whole trip worthwhile.
The drive to Beartown affords a number of scenic views of the valleys of Greenbrier County, West Virginia. I love stuff like this.
Beartown is navigated by visitors by way of a complicated system of boardwalks.
The boardwalks form kind of a giant maze... and I think the kids thought that the maze alone was worth the trip.
The rocks are technically sandstone. I'll leave it to geologists to decide if that's a cool fact or not. I just think they look neat.
Narrow passages, rocky edges... you can't help but have a little bit of an Indiana Jones feeling while exploring Beartown.
I kept waiting for this big rock to speak to me. It looked like something out of a movie with it's ancient face covered in moss and with that thick, grassy head of hair.
Yeah, it's a posed shot. Getting them all together in one frame is a nightmare; they have a tendency to scamper in three different directions. So I said "Just stand still for a second and act like you're looking at something interesting." This is what I got.
Wendy had a good time, too... until a bunch of caterpillars showed up and spoiled things for her. Wendy hates caterpillars.
I actually spent most of my time with the video camera in hand... which explains the two minute video here at the end. The quality of this video is crude, I used a high compression rate when I copied it to the hard-drive so it wouldn't be 500 megs in size. Basically, this is a two minute tour of Beartown with musical accompaniment by Tool.
Why in the world would anyone put together a two minute video of a natural park and put Tool, of all bands, in the background? Because I happen to like Tool, that's why.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Copyright Violation Tuesday: Life In Hollywood
With apologies to Rhodester.
My Hollywood experiences are limited since
- I've never been west of Charleston, West Virginia.
- I've never acted in a movie, play, or any other kind of production.
- I have never even seen a play that didn't involve school-age actors.
I do, however, consider myself qualified to write about the Hollywood experience, ala Rhodester, for the following reasons:
- I have seen a number of movies produced by big-time Hollywood studios.
- I have met one celebrity.
- I have heard of a number of celebrities.
Of those three qualifications, I suppose that the story behind number two is the most interesting... therefore, SouthCon presents:
Behind The Music:
He's My Biggest Fan
Don Henley is the rock star's rock star. He first achieved fame as a member of The Eagles, easily the most popular pop-rock band to emerge from southern California in the early '70's. The secret to the band's success was that the group was made up of musicians who were each capable of superstar status as solo acts. The original line-up of The Eagles included such consummate rockers as Glen Frey, Timothy B. Schmidt, Joe Walsh, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Ted Nugent, Charo, George Lucas, Hank Aaron, Spiro Agnew, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Shari Lewis and Lambchop. There was no way that they could fail.
By the early 80's, The Eagles were growing weary from years of stress and overindulgence. Life on the road and in the studio had taken it's toll. For years, the band had hit after hit, thanks to the Glen Frey/Don Henley songwriting formula. Now, the two songwriters had grown so distant that Frey reportedly learned Mandarin Chinese and spoke it at all times in order to necessitate the use of an interpreter when he and Henley would write songs together. And the band had another problem: Cocaine. They simply couldn't find any, and when they did, Joe Walsh always snorted it all up by himself and didn't share any with the rest of the band. Henley had had enough.
Don Henley's solo career began with the release of I Can't Stand Still, a hit album with a hit single, Dirty Laundry. Another album, Building the Perfect Beast followed, along with hits such as The Boys Of Summer and All She Wants To Do Is Dance. However, by the early '90's, Henley's career was waning. Bands like R.E.M. and Pearl Jam had claimed the music scene and made it their own. Was there still room for a Don Henley in a world full of Kurt Cobains? What were these new, successful bands doing that Henley wasn't doing?
After a lot of thought and creative self-evaluation, Henley realized that if he was going to recapture the marketplace that he'd lost to rock's new breed, he'd have to do what they were doing. And what were they doing? Why, they were saving the world.
The rock bands of the early '90's had one thing in common: Hand-wringing. They wrung their hands about minority rights. They wrung their hands about the homeless. They wrung their hands about corporate America... but, mostly, they wrung their hands about the environment. They wrote songs about how the big, bad, terrible human race was messing up good ol' planet Earth and how nobody seemed to give a damn except for the rock stars themselves. After all, they needed good ol' planet Earth to be healthy and prosperous in order for it to continue to produce marijuana.
Henley decided to cash in on the hand-wringing... but, to his credit, he one-upped the new rockers. Henley didn't do just one song about the environment... he didn't do just one album.... no, Henley did a book! Don Henley decided to put together a whole big book, with words and pictures and everything, called Heaven Is Under Our Feet. That'll show 'em, right? I mean, anybody can write a song about whales and whatnot... but doing a book? Come on! To do a book, you gotta be really serious about the environment.
Of course, doing a book means writing a whole big bunch of pages. Maybe ten. Maybe even more. How would Henley ever get enough pages together to justify putting them between two covers? Another brilliant idea hit him. He'd have all of his celebrity friends write essays about how much each of them loved the environment. How could they refuse him? To refuse to write an essay about the environment is like refusing to give food to a starving kid, right? And so, as though by providence, Heaven Is Under Our Feet came together, featuring essays from such noted experts on the environment as Cher, Bette Midler, Janet Jackson, etc.
In or around 1992... I can't remember the exact year... Henley made an appearance at a bookstore in Roanoke, Virginia, to sign copies of Heaven Is Under Our Feet.
I'd grown up listening to the Eagles and Henley's solo albums and I jumped at the chance to get to meet him, shake his hand, get his autograph. He was, after all, one of my favorite musicians, song-writers and singers. The only problem was that Henley had his publicity people put the word out that he absolutely, positively, most assuredly would not be signing copies of his albums. Or his posters. Or anything to do with his career as a musician. He would only be willing to sign copies of Heaven is Under Our Feet. You wanna meet Don Henley? You want his autograph? Fine. But you gotta buy his book.
I wanted to meet Don Henley so bad that I bought his book. In fact, I bought two copies so I could get the second one signed and give it to my sister as a birthday present.
I went to the bookstore on the appointed day about six hours before the signing was to begin. I found myself to be the second person in line. Yes! I was actually going to meet Don Henley, get his autograph, and everything.
This story is growing long and tiresome, so I'll try to wrap it up fairly quickly.
Imagine standing in one place behind the same guy for six hours. Imagine about thirty minutes before the celebrity you've come to meet is supposed to show up, a bunch of news people, publicity people, security people, etc, rush in. Imagine the thrill as you get that first glimpseof Mr. Celebrity himself! There he is, walking between two other dudes! Here he comes, toward the table! He's about to sit down and then they're going to let the line file past and I'm going to get to talk to Don Friggin' Henley!
Now, imagine that the first words you hear Mr. Celebrity utter in person are to a member of his entourage, ostensibly a security person, and that those words are "No f**king cameras, no f**cking news crews. I made this f**cking clear, didn't I? Get your sh*t together."
I don't have to imagine any of that. I actually experienced it.
Looking back, I can think of a number of possible first impressions that Don Henley could have made on me. I remember that he looked older than I'd thought he'd be. I remember that he was far shorter than I'd thought he'd be, and that his clothing looked brand new, like he'd only been wearing it for an hour or so. I remember those things in retrospect... but the first impression that Don Henley made on me... the irreversible, life-time first impression that his words and actions left on me forever... was that Don Henley was an arrogant prick.
A few minutes later, as I still stood there feeling a bit stunned, the security people let the line start moving. The guy ahead of me went first, shook Henley's hand, exchanged a couple of words and got an autograph on the inside cover of his book. Then it was my turn. I had two copies of the book to sign, which didn't sit well with Mr. Henley. When I laid my two copies on the table, Don looked at his security guy and said "We said one copy each, right?" I didn't hear the answer. Either way, Henley did sign both copies for me. One for me, written out to my name... and one for my sister, written out to her.
I was flustered. I was tense. I wanted to say something... anything to the first actual real-life celebrity I'd ever met. Two possible phrases came into my head. One was "Don, I've always been one of your biggest fans." The other was "Mr. Henley, you've always been a favorite song-writer of mine." Looking back, I wish I'd said one of those phrases. Only one of those phrases. Unfortunately, what I said was a bit of both of those phrases. The two possible remarks merged together into one in my brain, and what ended up coming out of my mouth was this: "Mr. Don Henley, you've always been one of my biggest fans."
He looked at me with the driest, most humorless smile I've ever seen and said "Of course I have."
Then, Security guy was touching my shoulder, giving me the "move along," so I did just that.
On the way to the car, walking past the line that stretched out of the bookstore, down the street and around the corner, I had one thought and one thought only in my head: Never in a million years will I actually read this book.
I never did. And I don't even know where it is right now. It may have been lost in one of my many moves over the years. I don't know. I don't care.
I still listen to The Eagles and to Henley's solo albums, by the way. I guess the lesson I learned is that the more you enjoy someone's art, the further you should stay away from them.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Copyright Violation Monday: 10 Things I Learned This Weekend
With apologies to the Unseen Blogger:
1) You know that hot red pepper relish that they have at Subway? I love that stuff. I always get a ton of it on my Subway sandwiches. However, much to my dismay, you can't buy that stuff by the jar in any of the grocery stores around here. We've found a pretty decent red bell pepper relish that's kinda tangy, but we can't find the hot stuff. Bummer.
2) Playing Splinter Cell can be very frustrating. However, sitting and silently watching someone else play... and make the same mistakes you made the first few times you played... and having to keep your mouth shut the whole time.... man, that's frustrating on a whole new level.
3) If you send a 37 year old man and a nine year old boy shopping for a birthday present for an eight year old girl, you better plan on them spending most of the day trying to figure out what to buy, wandering around the store, staring at their shoes.
4) Nothing ruins a picnic like abundant insect larva.
5) West Virginia is always about thirty degrees colder than the rest of the world. If you plan a day trip to a state park in West Virginia in early June, you'd better bring long sleeve shirts. Sweaters. Jackets. Parkas. And a kerosene heater.
6) Our Basset Hound is not capable of destroying a regulation football. Our Brittany Spaniel, however, is.
7) One of my oldest real-life friends has started a blog. Stop by and say hi. He's a great guy.
8) When you use Google Image Search looking for a variation on the Unseen Blogger's much beloved Pr0n Monkey, you'd better be prepared for some truly disturbing, odd, and unexplainable images to pop up.
9) One of those disturbing images is this one:
10) Survival tip: You know those two guards arguing with the drunk in the first episode of Splinter Cell? Just sneak past 'em! SNEAK PAST 'EM, FOR PETE'S SAKE! You can crawl down the steps and pull yourself up on the ledge and they'll never see you. There's no need to fire your sidearm, it only draws attention! I mean, GEEZ!
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Copyright Violation Week
My second anniversary as a blogger is coming up this week (June 6), and I've been trying to decide how to celebrate.
Friday I had a little fun with Rhodester, putting on like I'd stolen his awesome new banner.
Which gave me an idea.
Beginning this Monday and ending on Friday, I'm not going to come up with any of my own original ideas for blogging. Instead, I'm going to spend the week stealing concepts from some of my favorite bloggers. You can expect to see blatant rip-offs posted at SouthCon all week long.
So sue me. ;)
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Well, maybe not very interesting, but Wendy and I thought it was kinda cool.
Excuse the post if this happens to be a topic you already know top to bottom.
Anyway, take a look at this picture and try to guess what these things are:
Looks like some kind of bizarre tropical fruit, right? They reminded Wendy of peppers or large corn kernels. I thought they looked like something you'd see growing on another planet in Ray Bradbury's imagination.
Turns out, those things are cashews in the shell.
Yesterday Wendy just happened to say "I wonder why you never see cashews in their shells at the store?"
So we looked it up and learned the following:
Long ago the U.S. passed laws against importing the nuts in their shells (all cashews sold here are imported from China, India, or Brazil). (Fresh and unshelled,) they're toxic.
Cashew grove: Imagine a tree covered with small, yellow-red apples. From the bottom of each grows something that looks like an inflated lima bean. That's the nut. It has a thick outer shell and thin, membranous inner shell, between which is an oily liquid that is quite irritating and potentially toxic. When cashews are processed, the outer shell is removed, the liquid drained off, the nuts are dried, and the membrane shell is removed, and the detoxed nuts are packed in tins for export. The oily liquid is recycled into bug spray. Lurking in the branches of the cashew's family tree are a couple of nasty relatives: poison oak and poison ivy.
Eeech. (The emphasis above was mine.)
I think I'll keep letting the good folks at Emerald Nuts do the work for me.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Just sprucing up a bit, trying something different. You like? ;)
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Metal Up Yer Blog
When did VH1 become the list show network? Everything they do these days is a list show. Pop Music's Twenty Greatest Divas. The Thirty Most Rockin' Moments of Television History. Forty Celebrity Couple Break-Ups That Rocked Your World.
May, the month that just ended, was Metal Month on VH1. Now that people in my age group are officially old farts, VH1 is trying to cash in on us. We grew up with metal, we still love metal, and VH1 realizes that the people out there with the expendable income... in other words, the people that McDonnalds and Ford want their commercials shown to... aren't driving around in Studebakers listening to Mel Torme and Peggy Lee. Nope. We're driving around in minivans listening to bands like The Scorpions and Van Halen. We're buying onesies for our babies like the one to the right.
So welcome, my fellow mid-to-late-30s headbanging brothers and sisters, to what people in marketing refer to as the Age Targeted Demographic. We are now the people who buy the cars, the televisions, and the laundry detergent. We're the ones who stop and pick up the Happy Meals, and we're the ones who decide what breakfast cereal our little curtain-climbers will be eating each morning. WE are the ones that the marketers want. Therefore, WE are the ones the programmers are trying to please.
You know what that means? HA HA HA HA HA! It means that at last... at long last.... we have realized our goal! We have conquered the world! Yes, my fellow Headbangers, the dream has come true! WE HAVE THE POWER!!
And, therefore, VH1 has had an epiphany... an epiphany in the form of an advertising angel with long hair and a flying-v guitar.
So VH1 presented their current list show the other night, the Forty Greatest Metal Songs Of All Time. Being an unrepentant headbanger who spends much of my time hauling my kids around in our minivan while listening to Metallica, I actually sat down and watched the stupid show. Some of the songs they listed were songs I love, so I was happy to see them on the list. Some of the songs were songs I hate, so I had my obligatory Oh-Ya-Gotta-Be-Kiddin'-Me moments. The song that they named the greatest metal song ever is a song I am so sick of and have come to hate so much that I can no longer be objective about it.
Look, I worked in radio for eight years. There are songs that I have simply because I've heard them over and over and over and over and over and over again. I can't be objective about them anymore. I never want to hear Sweet Home Alabama again. I never want to hear Foxy Lady again. I never want to hear Stairway to Heaven again. And I ABSOLUTELY NEVER EVER want to hear Paranoid again.
Anyway, having sat through the whole stupid show, listening to people like the singer from Papa Roach and some comedian I've never heard of and some porn star (really) spout off about Heavy Metal, I decided to do a little spouting myself.
Therefore, SouthCon is proud to present
The Final, Absolute, Authorized List Of The
Ten Greatest Metal Vocalists Ever
10: Bruce Dickinson
I've written about Iron Maiden before... about how they were the first metal band that actually got me to pay attention to lyrics. Unlike all the other bands out there who were singing about sex, drugs, and rock and roll, Maiden were writing and recording songs about history, epic English poetry, science fiction... you know, stuff a 14 year old kid is interested in. Well, the stuff besides the sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Bruce Dickinson was Maiden's second lead singer and partly responsible for their breakthrough success after their first two albums with another vocalist. Dickinson had a vocal style that became sort of a template for about a thousand bands that followed Maiden. First of all, you had to be able to actually sing. Just screaming wasn't good enough. Secondly, now that you could sing, you had to be able to scream, too. And I don't mean scream like a scared girl. I mean scream like an eagle, like a monster, like a wounded animal. Really call up big, guttural screams from the gut. Dickinson was like a cross between an enraged grizzly bear and Roger Daltrey. Dickinson deserves credit for setting an important standard.
09: Lemmy Kilmister
The first time anyone sees Motorhead, the first thing they think is "Oh, my lord what an ugly bunch of guys." And, the ugliest of them all is Lemmy, the lead singer and guitar player. Now, the cool thing about Lemmy is that, as ugly as he looks, he sounds even uglier. Lemmy has a voice like a decrepit dumptruck or a half-rusted out motorcycle. He sings from the gut, but that doesn't really describe it. And it's not enough to say he sings from the groin, either. Lemmy sings from his feet; like every ugly ounce of him is being forced through his vocal chords. And there is nobody who could fit Motorhead better. Motorhead embodies an ugly, dirty, greasy element that rock and roll just can't do without. And Lemmy, warts and all, embodies Motorhead. 'Cuz, ya know what? Metal is supposed to be ugly. That's what always bugged me most during the hair-band, glam-rock wussy years in the late '80's when butt-sucking bands like Warrent and Poison and Winger were having hits. Their music was lame, their videos were always on TV, and those guys were just so pretty. God bless ya, Lemmy. God bless you and your big, ugly, gnarly head.
08: Brian Johnson
With the release of Back In Black, AC/DC did the impossible... they survived the loss of their most distinctive and valuable band member, Bon Scott. And not only did they survive him, they actually continued growing after his death. AC/DC actually refined their sound, with guitarist Angus Young stepping up to become the band's driving force. As important as Angus was in the post-Bon AC/DC, he couldn't have saved the band by himself. And he didn't have to... because the impossible act that AC/DC pulled off was they found the perfect new vocalist to replace the late Bon Scott. Brian Johnson sounded just barely enough like Bon so that his vocals didn't change the AC/DC sound... and yet Brian had something distinctive that was all his own. Brian had a growl, a gravely resonance that just worked with the band's sound. He fit AC/DC just as well as Bon had, but in a different, idiosyncratic way. Johnson's voice is shot these days, but in his day, he was a monster.
07: Ronnie James Dio
OK, yeah, it's easy to make jokes about Ronnie James. He's a tiny little guy. He takes himself so seriously. The whole Dark Knight of Mystery schtick that he tries to pull off seems silly. But then you listen to songs like "Holy Diver" and "The Last In Line" and you realize that this guy was just made for metal. First of all, metal really is supposed to be kinda pompous, kinda self-important, kinda grandiose. That's part of the appeal. That's part of the escape. And Ronnie James Dio (who is, to my knowledge, 2'10" tall) really delivers the goods on his songs. Those goofy "Ride the tiger through the midnight sea" lyrics actually take on a kind of majesty when Ronnie belts them out. When he sings one of those songs, he actually becomes a dark knight, ready to do battle. When you listen to those songs, you're ready to ride into battle with him.
06: James Hetfield
I might catch some crap over this one, but I think that James Hetfield of Metallia has always been a damn good Metal vocalist... and I think (here comes the crap-catching part) that he's gotten better and better over the years. Go back and listen to those early albums. Songs like Seek and Destroy and Escape really don't show much vocal range. Oh, yeah, they rock like a mutha, but they don't have a lot to offer vocally. Now, go listen to newer (and, arguably lamer) Metallica albums. Check out the vocals on songs like "Bad Seed" and "Invisible Kid" and "Lowman's Lyric". Say what you want, but the guy's singing just gets better and better. Part of that is because he's becoming more and more confident as a vocalist. Part of it is coming with age, too. Now, I will out myself as a Metallica fan who still enjoys the new stuff, too... but I'm being as objective as I can possibly be when I say that James Hetfield becomes a better and better singer on every album that Metallica releases.
05: John Bush
Both with his first band, Armored Saint, and on the four albums he did with Anthrax, John Bush proved himself to be one of those guys who was just born to sing metal. He couldn't have done anything else... and, besides, metal needed him. There's a phrase I've heard used to describe a lot of metal singers, and that phrase is "He sings from the balls." I think that phrase may have been invented to describe John Bush's vocal style. Bush can get down really, really deep... he can push his voice into this amazingly raw territory... and he still stays on key, he still sounds melodic, he still sounds great. If you're a metal fan and you don't own Anthrax's album "The Sound Of White Noise", you really don't know what you're missing. It's one of the best metal albums ever... one of my top three albums of any genre... and you have got to own it. Go to half.com and look for it, for Pete's sake. You can probably get it for a couple of bucks... and Bush's vocals on that album will BLOW. YOUR. MIND. I don't know what Bush is doing now that the original line-up of Anthrax is back together and he's out of the band... but I hope he's doing something. Metal needed him twenty years ago and we need him now.
04: Phil Anselmo
This guy has been in more bands than I can count and has sung on more metal albums than I could try to name... but he is on this list exclusively for his work on two albums and two albums alone: Pantera's Vulgar Display of Power and Far Beyond Driven. There's been a lot of talk since Dimebag Darrell died about how his guitar playing really was the creative force behind Pantera's sound, and I won't deny that for one minute. Still, I can't imagine the two Pantera albums I listed above without Anselmo. Phil Anselmo can do the big, growling, rage scream metal vocal thing better than anybody in the business. A lot of metal bands think that just having a guy do a gravely Cookie Monster sounding scream is good enough for metal. Not so. The thing with Anselmo is, no matter how raw and unhinged he sounded, you could always understand the lyrics and he was always still on tune. Then, on certain songs, he'd stop the "metal" thing altogether and simply sing melodically... and damned if he couldn't do that, too. Even if he had never recorded another album (and, as far as I'm concerned, he didn't), Phil Anselmo would be as high on this list as he is just for Vulgar Display and Driven. Those two albums rock like nobody's business.
03: Bon Scott
AC/DC's first vocalist and the absolute living personification of rock and roll. I seriously doubt that any of us would have ever even heard of AC/DC if it hadn't been for Bon and his amazing vocal ability. Bon put so much into his vocals; sounding cocky, abrasive, drunk, self-depreciating, and scary all at once. Look up "swagger" in the dictionary and there ought to be a picture of Bon Scott. Look up "Dangerous," look up "Over-The-Top." Oh, heck, just look up "Rock And Roll" and there darn well ought to be a picture of Bon right there. Nobody ever did that full-bore rock-vocal kind of thing before him, and there's been nobody since who could pull it off like Bon did. Even Brian Johnson, AC/DC's excellent replacement for their late singer, was no Bon Scott. Over the years I've heard a thousand bands that sounded to me like their singer was trying to be the next Bon Scott. Remember Ugly Kid Joe? Remember a band called Rhino Bucket? You might not remember either of those bands, and the reason you don't is because they sucked and they faded away quickly. A lesson to metal bands everywhere: Don't try to find the next Bon Scott. There'll never be another.
02: Mike Patton
Here's another one that might cause me to catch some crap for having him so high on the list... but I don't care. Mike Patton is an AMAZING vocalist. There is absolutely nobody who can do what he can do with his vocal chords. For starters, Patton can actually sing. Listen to tracks like "Take This Bottle" or "A Small Victory" and listen to the guy just flat out sing. He's got chops, man. I'd put him up against anybody you've got. Michael Stipe? Forget it. Art Garfunkel? Don't bother. Patton can out-sing any of 'em. Then, when he gets into his whole freak-out thing... when he starts doing that stuff that he does and that only he does... well, there's just nobody who can come close. That moron who sings with Korn has tried to be the next Mike Patton, and he just looks stupid. Then there's Fred Dust from Limp Bizkit, another weak Patton knock-off. Forget those guys. Mike Patton is the real thing. It is a shame... an absolute crying shame that most people only know him as the singer behind the one hit wonder "Epic." That's a good song, but it doesn't get within 10% of what Patton can do vocally.
01: Rob Halford
Rob Halford is the greatest singer in the history of popular music. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Halford has never gotten the props he deserves. As far as metal fans are concerned, I think each of us should at the very least send Halford a "Thank You" card through the mail, because the music we love wouldn't have been the same without him. Even if you're not a Judas Priest fan... even if you've never heardJudas Priest, there is simply no denying that Heavy Metal would have faded away and died in the mid seventies without them. Priest saved metal, and Rob Halford is the heart, soul, guts and lungs of Judas Priest. Rob Halford can sing anything. Honestly, he can sing anything. You name it, he could pull it off. Rob Halford could sing opera, country music, hip-hop, polka. Fageddaboudit. Rob Halford is simply the man. There's just no other way to say it. And we metal fans are truly privileged, because Halford loaned his talents to the music we love.
As a personal tribute to Rob, I try to make sure that I always pronounce the word "fortune" just like he does: "FAH-Chune."
Rob Halford is the greatest singer who ever lived. Rob Halford can sing notes that don't even exist yet. Rob Halford's vocals cure the common cold. Don't believe me? Next time you feel sick, listen to "Victim of Changes" and see if you don't feel better.
All hail Rob Halford, the king of heavy metal vocalists.
There, the list is definitive, eternal, and complete. There is no need to speak of this anymore. If you ever hear anyone arguing about the greatest vocalist (or the ten greatest vocalists) in the history of heavy metal, simply send them to SouthCon and set them straight.
So let it be written. So let it be done.
Rhodester Channels Dashiell Hammett
Update, 6/5/06: I've just heard by e-mail that Rhodester has taken the post down... it must have been intended to temporarily serve as a "Work In Progress" sign. So with the post down, the comments are down, and so is the story. You'll just have to trust me on this one... it was short, sweet, funny and a whole lot of fun to read. So what are you doing wasting time here, anyway? Go read Dave Rhodes.
The other day he gave us a glimpse of a work in progress, his new banner. I'm not going to post a link to the banner itself, I want you to go read the whole post and click on the link there to look at the banner.
In short, I think the banner is AWESOME.
I liked it so much that I threatened to steal it. In response, Rhodester wrote a hard-boiled little story about tracking down the guy who stole his banner.
This quick little story, something Dave just threw together just to be friendly, literally has everything in it. Everything. Damn, but this guy is a good writer. I said that back when I first discovered his blog... but the thing is, once you get in the habit of reading someone daily, you get to where you take their chops for granted.
I can say that about almost everyone in my blogroll, by the way, lest anyone feel slighted.
Anyway, Rhodester threw together this quick little story as a fun, friendly comment and I loved it. It made me laugh, it totally engrossed me, and it ended up getting me kind of misty... as you'll see if you read my followup comment.
It makes me sick, ya know? Not in a mean way, just in a jealous way. I know that Dave just tossed this story together in fun, probably put little thought into it... and it's still an outstanding read. A short, fun, silly, outstanding read. For some people, writing well just comes naturally.
It could be that I'm a sap... or it could just be that Dave Rhodes can freakin' write. I think it's both.
Go read the post and read the comments.
Busted! Part 2
Wendy and I live in a teeeeny, tiny, tiny, tiny little town with a local newspaper (circulation: 12) that's so small and silly that it might actually qualify as quaint. We used to subscribe to it, but we got frustrated with Man Walks Dog stories and started subscribing to the Roanoke paper. Roanoke is the largest nearby city. Anyway, we stopped subscribing to the Roanoke paper, too, because Wendy got tired of me ranting and raving at the breakfast table about the extremely leftist leanings of the Roanoke paper.
I'd post a link to the local newspaper's website article about the arrest that was made in my case, but the local newspaper's website is actually even more pitiful than the print version, and they don't have anything on the web about the arrest.
I did, however, buy a copy of yesterday's local paper and I did scan the brief article, and here it is if you're interested:
I looked the perp's name up at Google, just to see if by chance he had a MySpace site or whatnot. I only found one listing for the bum's name. This one.
Given the nature of that page, I thought it was a bit ironic and downright funny.
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