Sunday, August 29, 2004

A'well We're Movin' on Up! 

Candleblog has moved. The redesign is complete (well, close enough). We have a new look and a (slightly) different address, but we're the same old Candleblog in all other respects. Our new home is here (http://www.candleboy.com/candleblog/). Please update your bookmarks and if you are a blogger or other webmaster who links to us, please update your links. It's a simple matter of replacing "we" with "candle" before the "blog" in the url. Thanks.

I hope you will enjoy Candleblog 2.0. We have eshewed Blogger and Haloscan (thanks for the ride, guys) in favor of the more robust and dense Geeklog engine.

I would like to thank Matty the Greek (and, by extension, Satan) for helping me during the set-up phase of the new site (he recently switched to Geeklog too, so we were blog nerds together). I'd also like to thank Flameape for helping me with the new logo design, and Candlebloggers Spine, Ntodd and Danz for their input.

If you are a regular Candleblog reader, I encourage you to sign up for an account at the new Candleblog--it's free, as anonymous as you would like, and allows you to post comments using your screen-name. You don't have to sign up to post comments, but they will be "anonymous" if you don't.

Now, for a trip down memory lane, take a look at our first Blogger page, which is still up. Click through the various iterations of the blog to get a sense of our progression. Has it really only been five months?

Incidentally, that is why I'm making this move now. Blogger was sufficient for most of my blogging needs, but I knew an upgrade was inevitable and Geeklog has a great search feature and other advances that I knew I would want to make use of down the road. Now that I'm sure I will continue blogging for the foreseeable future (and that it's not just a passing fad), I want to be in a place that I can grow into, not grow out of.

Enjoy the new space, stop by often, leave lots of comments. Candleblog is dead. Long live Candleblog!
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Friday, August 27, 2004

Estimates Quiz 

From Metafilter: a quiz that requires only *rough* answers. I'm ashamed to say I only got a score of 26%. Find it here. But dang! I really don't know the number of petrol stations in the UK, but I was damn close.

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Hyperbolic frottage 

On August 18, Dan blogged:

How long will it take a rare phrase to show up in a google search? I'm going to post this at 11:45am. I think the first reader to find this post as a result of the google search on "Hyperbolic frottage you dirty devil underpants" should win some kind of prize. Bill, tell our readers what they'll win! ... Bill? ... Bill...?

To which Bill replied:

The winner will win a videotape of a live, broadcast in Burlington, VT, one-hour episode of Welcome to Reality in which Dan will say the winners full name at least 50 times during the episode. He will not simply say the name 50 times in a row, he will seemlessly integrate the name into whatever the show is about that night.

To which I say:

I'm ready for my seamless integration, Mr. DeMille. Google has spoken!

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Car Talk 

My 1991 Subaru Legacy bit the dust yesterday. Tranny's shot. Now I'm going to take out a home-equity loan and buy a new (used) car. I want something fuel-efficient, compact, and low-maintenance. Can spend $5-8K. I'm thinking Honda--I've always loved Hondas--but I thought I'd ask for ideas here (why not?). Anyone had any noteworthy personal experience with a used car in that price range?

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"Let's turn a corner, any corner" 

Portlander/Deaner/Democratic activist Joyce McGreevy has a very funny piece in Salon today--a special preview of George Bush's upcoming speech at the RNC. Choice bits:

Read the whole thing. And subscribe to Salon while you're at it--it's been a while since I heard any rumors of Salon's demise, but I'm sure they could still use the support.

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progressive talking points 

Holy shit, read this interview with Linguistics professor George Lakoff--a very smart and articulate man. Then go pick a fight with a conservative.

EXERPT:
One of the values that Democrats seemed to drop into every sentence of the Convention was "strength." How is that part of the progressive canon?

You have to fight strength with strength. That's straight out of "Moral Politics": the strict father has to be strong, but the nurturant parent must also be strong. However, I don't think the Democrats did a good job of defining what the difference is in Kerry's kind of strength, because they refused to use the word "weak" in reference to Bush. They wanted to have a completely positive campaign — which it isn't anyway — but they didn't want to say that Bush has made the country weaker. The issue of weakness awakens the stereotype of liberals, so instead they said, "Look, we just want America to be stronger."

But "stronger" doesn't necessarily imply weak. They could have talked more directly about all the ways Bush has weakened the country. When they have a case to be made on the basis of a pattern of behavior, they don't tend to use a grammar that really nails the message, like "We're weaker in education, and here's why. We're weaker in security, and here's why." You could write this argument in half a page. The Democrats aren't there yet, by any means.

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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Borat vs. The World 

For more scoop on Borat's Impact on the current socio-political scene, take a peek at this:

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/showbiz/articles/12693700?source=Daily%20Mail

If folks were hip enough to know who Sasha Baron Cohen is, or smart enough to research who he was before he interviewed him, the world would be a safer place--but the show would not be near as funny!

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Ain't nothin but a Gmail, baby... 

I've been using Gmail for about a month. It's a damn good service, and I can't imagine why anyone would want to stick with Hotmail or Yahoo, other than the inconvenience of announcing an address change. I'm considering switching to Gmail as my main address, because I'm getting tired of managing my different accounts. I won't go into all the fine points of Gmail, but here's the short version:

- emails organized by threads instead of one long list
- good address book into which you can import CSV files
- keyboard shortcuts (unusual for Web-based email)
- 1 GB storage

Why am I telling you this? Because I have five Gmail invitations available for Candleblog readers or team members. Contact me at jonathanfine at gmail dot com. For a short time, these invitations were selling for a hundred bucks on eBay, which is stupid. Now they're everywhere, even though Gmail is still in beta and hasn't been released to the public yet.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Tricks of the trade 

Several bloggers have been mentioning this today and I was going to skip it, but it's too compelling to pass up. Below I have excerpted some of the trades most relevant to specific Candleblog readers:
Proofreader

If you’re reading too fast, your brain can “correct” typos, preventing you from catching them. That’s why it’s sometimes a good idea to read a page upside-down. It forces you to pay closer attention to individual words out of context, and you can’t race through pages too fast.

Technical Support

When helping someone fix their computer over the phone, and you want them to see if all the cables are plugged in correctly, don’t ask, “Have you checked to see if the cable is plugged in?” because the customer will always say, “Of course I did, do you think I’m a moron?” Instead say, “Remove the cable, blow the dust out of the connector, and plug it back in.” The customer will most likely reply, “Hey, it’s working now—I guess that dust really builds up in there!”

Waitress

When you realize you have forgotten to submit an order to the kitchen, go to the table and mournfully say, “Did you just hear that crash?” Nine times out of 10, the customers not only will say “yes,” but actually will believe they just heard a noise of some sort. You can then sigh sadly, and say, “Unfortunately, that was the chef dropping your food,” and then scurry back to the kitchen to hand in the neglected order.

Photographer

When taking family portraits that include a dog, don’t use the dog’s name or say “doggie, doggie” to get its attention, because it might trot over to you. Instead, call out “kitty, kitty, kitty.” The dog will perk up and look around for a cat, and you can get a great shot if you time it right.

Graphic Designer

If you have a client who is unable to approve a proposed design without putting her stamp on it, just put an obvious error in the proposal: a logo that’s too large, a font that’s too small, or a few judiciously seeded typos. The client requests the change and feels she’s done her part—and your design, which was perfect all along, sails through to approval.

Actor

Every actor eventually is called upon to act drunk. Most do this by slurring their speech, stumbling around, and perhaps drooling a bit. This is what a freshman drama teacher calls “indicating.” A better way to appear drunk is to act very, very sober. Walk very carefully, and try not to let anyone see that you’re inebriated. This is much more subtle and will register on a level the audience won’t immediately recognize.

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No comment. 


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Ntodd takes a purty pi'ture of the Moon 


The Moon and Antares last night
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Why Y2K Was So Disappointing 

Articles like this one from Weekend Magazine in 1961 hyped the idea of the near future so much that those of us who were lucky enough to actually experience The Year 2000 were totally let down by the boring sameness of it all. "Where the hell is my jetpack and ray gun?" was the question in the back of every nerd's mind on January 1st, The Year 2000.

Excerpt:
Doors will open automatically, and clothing will be put away by remote control. The heating and cooling systems will be built into the furniture and rugs.

You'll have a home control room - an electronics centre, where messages will be recorded when you're away from home. This will play back when you return, and also give you up-to-the minute world news, and transcribe your latest mail.

You'll have wall-to-wall global TV, an indoor swimming pool, TV-telephones and room-to-room TV. Press a button and you can change the décor of a room.

The status symbol of the year 2000 will be the home computer help, which will help mother tend the children, cook the meals and issue reminders of appointments.

Cooking will be in solar ovens with microwave controls. Garbage will be refrigerated, and pressed into fertiliser pellets.
Apparently in The Year 2000 we will all still inhabit the same gender roles and social castes. I guess they didn't interview Philip K. Dick for this article.

Interestingly, things being small wasn't prognosticated. The idea of an entire room of your house being devoted to electronics and messaging seems off-the-chart inefficient. I guess the miniaturization of electronics hadn't really started in 1961. Plus, big things were still impressive then--hence "wall-to-wall global TV," etc. My favorite prediction: "Rocket belts will increase a man's stride to 30 feet." I'm not sure they fully thought through the environmental implications of that one. One prediction seems downright quaint: "Mail and newspapers will be reproduced instantly anywhere in the world by facsimile." Okay, yup, they nailed that one.

via Backwards City
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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The Whacks of Life 

Parents Divided Over Practice of 'Hot Saucing' as a Form of Discipline
Aug. 24, 2004 — The practice of "hot saucing" a child's tongue as a method of discipline may seem cruel to some parents, but those who regularly use the punishment say it teaches their charges valuable and long-lasting lessons.

Lisa Whelchel, who played Blair on the popular 1980s TV series Facts of Life, is an advocate and practitioner of "hot saucing." Whelchel, the author of Creative Correction: Extraordinary Ideas for Everyday Discipline, says the practice worked for her children when other disciplinary actions did not. ...

Whelchel said hot saucing works better than traditional spanking when it comes to offenses related to the child's mouth.

"It's a logical consequence. If you cause somebody pain, either by the words you say by lying and not being a trustworthy person or by biting, this is a logical consequence. It's your mouth that's the offender," she said.

Oh, I don't know, Blair. I like a traditional spanking. I was never hot sauced as a child, but I was miracle whipped from time to time. It wasn't until my mother's health-nut girlfriend tried to make me eat a piece of tofu birthday cake that I fully grasped the culinary consequences of bad behavior.



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Land of the Home: Bush never heard of 1st amendment 

President Bush said on Monday that political advertisements run by a
broad swath of independent groups should be stopped...

From this article at the NY Times (may require registration - use bugmenot)


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Monday, August 23, 2004

Something new... 

Small changes here at Candleblog. Please note our sidebar has been slightly revamped, and Blogger is now offering a google search function of the site. Try it out and let me know what you think. I wish there were more design options other than color, but that is where it goes and I can't seem to move it. I'd love to add it to my sidebar instead of where it is, but whatever. Thoughts?
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Okay, I know none of you care, but... 

...I must post this link to a piece of Decemberists news at Pitchfork Media. Below are the dates of their upcoming tour.
09-04 Bend, OR - Les Schwab Amphitheater (w/The Pixies)
09-09 Seattle, WA - Neumos (w/Xiu Xiu, The Gossip, Deerhoof, The Punks)
09-10 Portland, OR - Roseland Theater (w/Xiu Xiu, The Gossip, Deerhoof)
09-11 Olympia, WA - Eagle's Hall (w/Deerhoof, Mecca Normal, Xiu Xiu)
09-21 Madison, WI - Luther's Blues *
09-22 Champaign, IL - High Dive *
09-23 Grand Rapids, MI - Calvin Coolidge *
09-24 Cleveland, OH - Beechland Ballroom *
09-25 Clinton, NY - Hamilton College *
09-26 Baltimore, MD - Recher Theater *
09-27 New York, NY - Webster Hall *
09-28 Northampton, MA - Pearl St. *
10-13 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom (CMJ) *
10-14 Burlington, VT - Club Metronome *
10-15 Portland, ME - Big Easy *
10-16 Hoboken, NJ - Maxwell's *
10-17 Columbus, OH - Little Brother's
10-18 Galesburg, IL - Knox College *
10-19 St Louis, MO - Blueberry Hills Duck Room *
10-20 Columbia, MO - Blue Note *
10-21 Lawrence, KS - Jackpot *
10-22 Norman, OK - Opolis *
10-23 Colorado Springs, CO - 32 Bleu *
10-24 Boulder, CO - Fox Theater *

* with Norfolk & Western
(/fanboy rant)
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Anti-semitic British TV 

There's been a bit of an uproar lately over a Channel 4 TV show featuring a Kazakhstani journalist named Borat who, on a recent episode of his show, sang an anti-semitic song called "Throw the Jew Down the Well." The song was sung in a mid-western American bar and the lyrics included: "Throw the Jew down the well so my country can be free. You must grab him by the horns, then we have a big party." The American bar patrons were shown singing happily along with Borat. Channel 4 has received several complaints and may be penalized for the broadcast. The kicker is that "Borat" is actually British comedian Sasha Baron Cohen, who also portrays the famous character, Ali G, and is himself, Jewish.



Go here for the whole story. Then make sure you watch every single episode of Da Ali G Show on HBO--it's brilliant.
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iPod sHopping 

I'm officially in the market for an iPod with iTrip. I know there are some non-Apple alternatives that are just as good or better than the iPod and Gizmodo today has this thing listed, which looks pretty sweet too. Not available in the US yet but maybe by the time I'm ready to plunk down some cash it will be. Anyone out there have some advise or personal experience with portable mp3 players?
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Relativity: not so relative after all? 

Since that first observation, the “Allais effect”, as it is now called, has confounded physicists. If the effect is real, it could indicate a hitherto unperceived flaw in General Relativity—the current explanation of how gravity works.

That would be a bombshell—and an ironic one, since it was observations taken during a solar eclipse (of the way that light is bent when it passes close to the sun) which established General Relativity in the first place. So attempts to duplicate Dr Allais's observation are important. However, they have had mixed success, leading sceptics to question whether there was anything to be explained. Now Chris Duif, a researcher at the Delft University of Technology, in the Netherlands, has reviewed the evidence. According to a paper he has just posted on arXiv.org, an online publication archive, the effect is real, unexplained, and could be linked to another anomaly involving a pair of American spacecraft.
Read more...

via geekpress
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Saturday, August 21, 2004

Garden State 

We went to go see Garden State tonight. Below is my official review.

The Only Living Boy in New Jersey

Remember the good old days of American independent film, when Quentin Tarantino and Jim Jarmusch reigned supreme? Wry post-modernism was the dominant paradigm. The characters that populated indy films in the 90s were sarcastic smart-asses who saw everything in their worlds through a "been there, done that" filter. It seemed like every piece of dialogue was a comment on something, or a comment on a comment on something. If you could take the conversation between Quentin Tarantino and Todd Field in 1994's Sleep With Me--about how the subtext of Top Gun is really about homosexuality--and bronze it, you would have a perfect representation of the state of American independent film in the 1990s: detached, too clever for it's own good, ironic.

In the last few years though (insert obligatory 9/11 reference here), indy films have started to move away from that model and the new crop of auteurs is embracing a more honest, sincere, and courageous paradigm. P. T. Anderson's Punch Drunk Love, Sophia Coppola's Lost in Translation and Michel Gondry's recent Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are some excellent examples of what I'm talking about--films that despite being extremely hip (in fact, these films arguably define currently hip cinema), still deal with real human emotion and interaction without masking it behind detached boredom and "coolness." These films are essentially romantic comedies, but re-invented and stripped of the cliched "chick-flick" sentimentality and manipulated weepiness that has defined that genre for so long.

Zack Braff's directorial debut, Garden State, continues the trend toward this New Sincerity in indy filmmaking, and in fact the film is in some ways about this very transformation.

At the beginning of Garden State, Andrew Largeman (played by Braff) is so detached, he is virtually catatonic. The opening shot of the film cleverly depicts his association with the world. It's the interior of a jetliner during a crash. People are screaming and praying and freaking out all around him as he sits, staring at nothing in particular, and casually lifts his hand to adjust the flow of air from those little nozzles in the overhead panel. This is how he pictures himself: completely unaffected by the world that affects everyone else.

When Largeman leaves California to attend his mother's funeral in New Jersey, he also leaves behind his intense regimen of psychological medications--lithium, Prozac, Paxil, etc. Over the course of the next several days, and with the help of his new friend/love interest, Sam (Natalie Portman), he slowly becomes a feeling, thinking human being again--capable of grieving his mother's loss, falling in love, and forgiving his distant and difficult father.

Garden State is a lovely and charming film. The performances are first-rate and Braff has proven himself a skilled director. He is adept at creating a certain contemplative mood through the use of slow motion and time-lapsed cinematography and music. Music--the music in this film deserves an entire review unto itself. The soundtrack is the the musical equivalent of modern indy filmmaking--New Sincerity pop: The Shins, Iron and Wine, Nick Drake, Paul Simon. The soundtrack album is sure to be a huge hit.

The comedy in the film is dry and occasionally very funny, but a few scenes seem tacked on--as if Braff had been compiling a lot of little funny moments in his notebook and wanted to include as many of them as he could. Most of them worked, fortunately, but added little to the film's theme/story and I hope he hasn't used up his whole bag of tricks on his first film--he'll have nothing left for his next one.

Similarly, there were some show-off shots that likewise seemed superfluous (many of these are in the film's trailer--it's a great trailer!). For instance, at Largeman's mother's wake, a friend of the family insists that he try on a shirt she has made for him. She explains that she used the same material Largeman's mother had used when she redecorated the hall bathroom. Cut to a shot of an expressionless Largeman standing in a loud, green shirt in front of a wall bearing the identical pattern. The shot got a chuckle from the audience, but I'm not sure it was worth the trouble of the laborious set-up.

My biggest problem with Garden State is the ending. I don't want to ruin any surprises, so I'll just say that the last two scenes of the film are fundamentally different in tone and style from the rest of it. Add to this a straight-from-the-desk-of-Nora-Ephron cliched romantic comedy final beat, and I was left leaving the theater somewhat dissatisfied. This caveat should in no way be taken as a condemnation. I just felt like an otherwise superb first feature was marred by a merely-okay conclusion.

I have been eagerly waiting for the release of Garden State since January and my expectations were pretty high. That the film didn't let me down is a testament to its charm and grace. Go see it. Pay full price.
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Friday, August 20, 2004

Google Hacks 

[From Metafilter] Type "bush's foreign friends" in google and click the "I Feel Lucky" button. At the bottom of the resulting page I noticed a link to see list of Google Hacks from software engineer at Google, see this link.

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Q. When is a CandleBlog comment not a comment? 

A. When I post it like this. Okay, don't think of this as a tactic in the DanZ vs. MarkS '68 vs. '72 'Cuda wars, instead, check out this link and see why Dan likes the '68. It's an image and audio clip that plays automatically.

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Thursday, August 19, 2004

More MeFi fun today... 

Hello, my name is Tamara! As you can probably tell, I'm a Christian who loves Jesus and cares for all humans, even the wicked. What you probably don't know is that I'm hot.

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Memory and Manipulation:The trials of Elizabeth Loftus, defender of the wrongly accused 

Here is a great LA Weekly article about recovered memory opponent, Elizabeth Loftus, whose paper and talk, published by The Skeptical Inquirer, has invoked death threats against her and a court case that may adversely affect acedemic freedom. Read the whole article, it's great--and scary.
EXCERPT: Over the years, Loftus’ work has generated many followers. But others have responded with the kind of venom rarely seen within the confines of academia. Her friend Carol Tavris — who herself tasted a little of the fury after she published a famous New York Times Book Review article in 1993 titled “Beware the Incest-Survivor Machine” — jokes that they have both been caricatured as “evil pedophile psychologists from hell.” Their critics range from rival memory experts, such as Jane Doe’s champion, David Corwin, to an array of therapists, victims of child abuse, and those who, for whatever reason, feel betrayed by those around them and hold Loftus and Tavris personally responsible for their ills. A quick Google search reveals hostile Internet correspondence, angry radio-show transcripts and high-octane commentary issuing against Loftus from around the world. And then, of course, there are the aforementioned death threats.

“Once I started being skeptical of those repressed-memory accusers and the therapists who helped them get this way,” Loftus says, her voice tinged with an emotion somewhere between resignation and bewilderment, “the hate mail began flowing in.”
via MeFi
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Teleportation goes long distance 

BBC News:
Physicists have carried out successful teleportation with particles of light over a distance of 600m across the River Danube in Austria.

Long distance teleportation is crucial if dreams of superfast quantum computing are to be realised.

When physicists say "teleportation", they are describing the transfer of key properties from one particle to another without a physical link.
Read more.
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Potential Charley Fallout 

I got a message from my dad last night at about 8:30. He said they were still without power and that it was really hot with no AC, but that Rob had brought them a little generator, which kept the fridge and a few lights on and he wanted to let me know they were okay.

Today--about 45 minutes ago--his wife called me and told me he's in the hospital with fluid in his lungs. She sounded upset, but it was difficult for me to tell how serious his condition is. I'll just have to wait until they know more. Rob is at work. I left a message on his cell and I'll keep trying. If you're reading this Rob, and we haven't spoken yet, call me.

UPDATE: It's congestive heart failure. He's being transported to a real hospital--the one in his town is just a MASH unit becuase of the hurricane damage. I guess his prognosis isn't terrible, they think they got it in time. There may be some heart damage, but his vitals are good so we'll see.
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Oh, the Things I've Enjoyed 

Been meaning to blog about Michael Mann's Collateral, which was pretty good, albeit not in the same class as Heat. Mann's films are so pleasing to watch, and I like the way he populates a crime thriller with complex characters and takes the time to develop those characters. That said, Jamie Foxx doesn't quite have the depth his character calls for, but the effort is good. And Tom Cruise as an unredeemable bad guy--what could be more enjoyable than that? I sensed a note of relief in his portrayal of moral darkness, as though he's got a lot of the stuff in emotional storage and feels he's earned the right to start releasing it, role by role. Of course, I've always been a sucker for biographical criticism. Finally, I do not find Jada Pinkett Smith to be hot. Am I supposed to?

I also liked Garden State, Zach Braff's directorial debut. Clever dialogue. Good performances. Attempts at profundity occasionally compromised by unchecked cuteness. Natalie Portman can really act. I mean really. There are a few too many scenes that trail off in wisps of ironic melancholy and then segue to montages set to contemporary alt-rock songs. But again, the writing is clever, and the first kiss between Braff and Portman--when it finally happens--occurs in a happy, unexpected burst. I liked the fresh perspective of this movie. But Ian Holm phones in his performance as the uptight, distant father.

Last item: the Paul Green School of Rock Music. This is apparently the "real" School of Rock, and Paul Green apparently considered suing the studio that made the movie. But anyway, there's really no comparison. Green's school is an intensive, multiyear program in which kids become highly proficient rock musicians and then go on tour. This summer, the School's tour consists solely of the music of Frank Zappa. How great is that?! I went to hear them last weekend. Seeing 14-year-olds get into the spirit of Zappa's music--and absolutely nail the complex arrangements--was a deep pleasure. These kids were babies when he died. They took to Zappa's music so quickly, and learned to perform it so well, that Zappa alum Napoleon Murphy Brock took notice and joined them for the summer tour. I've seen Brock twice now--the first time was with Project/Object, with whom he still tours. The guy is amazing, and hasn't aged a day since he played with FZ in the 70s. He plays flute and sax and sings the hell out of songs like "Andy Devine" and "Carolina Hardocore Ecstasy." Other songs on the School's set list: The Torture Never Stops, Keep It Greasy, G-Spot Tornado, Dog Breath Variations, Inca Roads, and many more of my favorites.
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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Phish 

One of our neighbors (lives next to the Fortress of Solitude, which is not too far from Coventry), worked security at the last-ever-oh-my-god-whatever-will-we-do-now Phish concert and sends these pics:







I'm so glad I wasn't there.


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FNF gets stoned 

Full Noodle Frontity, the pun-monikered author of the Stories I shouldn't Tell blog, is a really good writer. He has posted stories about his sex encounters that have made me sweat... and jealous. The last couple of posts have been about his recent ordeal passing a kidney stone. This has never happened to me and I truely hope it never does. As with his erotic posts, the writing is so good it transports you into the story with him. However in this case, instead of getting turned on by said transportation, I got woozy with sympathy-pains.

The story is spread out over a few posts. Start reading at August 16th.
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Google Searches? What the heck? 

How long will it take a rare phrase to show up in a google search? I'm going to post this at 11:45am. I think the first reader to find this post as a result of the google search on "Hyperbolic frottage you dirty devil underpants" should win some kind of prize. Bill, tell our readers what they'll win! ... Bill? ... Bill...?

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What an honor 

I am so proud at this moment. Not only did we pass 5000 "unique" visitors within the last 24 hours, but an examination of the statistics available at sitemeter.com reveals that Candleblog is the #1 Google search result for the phrase, "I am a whore whore whore." Only one other site even made the list!

I have to go call my mom.

UPDATE: I cannot help but also note that we are the #4 MSN search result for the phrase, "atlanta foot fetish filmmakers."
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5000 and counting 

Our 5000th visitor hit the site yesterday at 4:19 pm from an rr.com ISP. I think the award goes to my brother Rob, since I know he is a regular reader and rr.com is his ISP. Congratulations Rob for this random occurance that you had no influence over whatsoever. Mazel tov!
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Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Google this! 

Check out this crazy story about a totally ridiculous and inconsistant policy practiced by Google's AdWords program. The Homestead Book Company was banned by Google for selling books that relate to pot and mushrooms, even though these same books are also sold by Amazon. Blogger and Homestead owner, David Tatelman, publishes the whole chain of stupid emails that google sent him. Basically, he's being discriminated against not because of the innocuous keywords that google claims are the problem, but because of the *other* books that are available from the company.
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Republicans Outraged By Inaccuracies In Metallica Documentary 

WASHINGTON, DC—Republican congressmen lambasted the documentary Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster for its "gross inaccuracies and fabrications" Monday. "[Filmmakers] Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky are clearly biased," Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert said. "By editing together concert footage from three different mediocre shows, they have given the general public a false impression that Metallica still kicks ass." Hastert added that there is no hard evidence to support the film's argument that the album St. Anger has more thrashing riffs than Kill 'Em All.

Swiped from The Onion
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Good day, sunshine. 

You ever have one of those days where everything just seems to be going right? I know I'm in danger of having Candleblog readers think I'm moody (contrasted to this post), and I am also putting myself at risk for Famous Last Words syndrome, but today is shaping up to be just ducky.

First of all, it is a Perfect Vermont Summer Day:
77°F - a few clouds
Humidity: 45 %
Wind Speed: SE 7 MPH
Barometer: 30.02" (1016.5 mb)
Dewpoint: 54°F (12°C)
Heat Index: 78°F (26°C)
Visibility: 10.00 mi.
I have officially counted three days this summer that would meet my criteria for "Perfect Vermont Summer Day" so this is pretty special.

The content of the day has been good too. To wit: The day begins with the new faculty orientation at Burlington College. It's official now, so I might as well announce it here: I will be teaching two sections of Film Production I at B.C. this fall. So I go to the faculty orientation, which is mostly uneventful except for the fact that I have many cups of coffee. This has the effect of cheering me up early. Add to this the excitement I generally feel when I can sense fall approaching... getting ready for school, feeling industrious, like the world holds a lot of potential. Anyway, being in Burlington College this morning (where I myself went to film school) heightens that feeling. While there I also learn that the Academic Dean of B.C., a former Philosophy of Science professor of mine, has said some very nice things about me to the film production dept. folks and that makes me feel pretty good too.

So then I head into downtown (slight traffic-induced downturn in the day here, but let's just move on). I get to the Borders cafe and run into Ntodd and Stef. Stef hightails it to work and Ntodd and I enjoy a lovely beverage in the sun and talk about politics (Kerry is *so* going to tear Bush a new one) and photography and Ntodd's own exciting plans for the fall (I'll let him tell you about them rather than spoil it here). I also pick up the new issue of Filmmaker Magazine, which adds to my happiness.

Driving home, WRUV is playing some fantastically catchy indy rock and I'm a hummin' along.

I get to work right on time and check my email (not so much spam today) and my beautiful and wonderful girlfriend calls me up and needs some coffee--she's stuck at work and offers me a caffeine rescue mission. I accept. At Speeder's I bump into Gaylord (pronounced "Gay'-lurd" for those of you who would snicker), a south end hipster animator and all around nice guy. We chat each other up about filmmaking and animation and hatch a hair-brained plan to have him come to my upcoming film production class and teach an hour or two about animation. Yay! It's like the pieces are all falling into place. Emily is extra affectionate now that she has rocket fuel, and I have purchased my own fuel--some cheese tortellini in pesto from Fresh Market.

Back at work, a paycheck is waiting for me. This isn't a surprise--it's payday--but I thought I'd throw it in the story for good measure. I'm curious to see what else this day will bring. I think now may be an opportune moment to offhandedly mention my PayPal account (go to the bottom of the page for the button), from which donations can be made by credit card. Let's work together, America, to keep Bill's mood up!

UPDATE: I just heard from Emily, who has spilled her entire iced mocha on her pants. In one instant of clumsiness, she went from being resued by lovely sweet caffeine, to being tired, cold and wet. Now I worry that my good fortune comes at the expense of others'. Maybe there's only so much good-day-vibe to go around and I'm hogging it.

Nah. :)

UPDATE #2: Oh dear. Emily stopped by the studio a few minutes ago. She had a flat tire when she got out of work!!! She threw the donut spare on it and then drove here so we could swap cars so she could go feed Ron & Reba's cats. I hope her run of bad luck doesn't spill over onto my car. :(

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Monday, August 16, 2004

TiVo vs. Explorer 800 

This isn't news to me, but it made me laugh. bOING bOING founder and contributor Mark Frauenfelder writes about his DVR woes.

excerpt:

If TiVo were a beverage, it'd be a tall glass of Jamaican ginger beer with chipped ice and a lime wedge, while the Explorer 800 would be a paper cup of warm fake lemonade stirred with the finger of a nose-picking six-year-old.

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100 Science Fiction Books You Just Have to Read 

When I was in Portland a couple of weeks ago Spine and I talked a bit about science fiction. We went to the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle and hung out with some his SF-friendly pals and Spine admitted that his knowledge of SF was sorely lacking. So I told him that I would buy him a SF book and as long as he read it, I would buy him another, and so on. We poured over the emabarrassing riches of SF books at Powell's and settled upon Philip K. Dick's Man in the High Castle as Spine's first foray into the genre. When he has finished that, I will have Powell's send him another one. I don't know which book will be next, but you can bet it is on this list.

Speaking of SF, the World SF Con is coming up in Boston and I'm thinking it might be fun to go--or it could be lame. bOING bOING's Cory Doctorow will be there as will Making Light's Teresa Nielsen Hayden. I've never been to a Hugo Award ceremony and that might be cool. Anyone want to go?

UPDATE: I've been looking that list over and was shocked to discover Anne McCaffrey's Dragonflight coming in at #38. I don't want to start a whole discussion about the differences between science fiction and fantasy, but if Dragonflight isn't fantasy, what is? I don't see Tolkien on this list so the author must think McCaffrey's work counts as SF. Hmmm.


UPDATE #2: Read this great Popular Science article about the difficulties currently facing SF writers w/r/t predicting the future. Upshot: the Singularity is in the way.
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Sunday, August 15, 2004

whatever. 

It's Sunday and I'm at work and I have absolutely nothing to say. I have gone around and checked all of the usual blogs that I usually check and sure, there was some interesting stuff I could have pointed you to and made pithy comments about--like this funny Schoolhouse Rock-esque political send up--but the spirit is just not moving me. Okay sure, I could talk about how excited I am over the upcoming release of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, but c'mon, video games? How boring is that? I could tell you about The Corporation, which we went to see the other night, but you'd be all, "oh great, Bill is blogging aboout another dumb movie he went to see, how typical." So instead, I'll just type some stuff, and we can all say I've blogged today and then return to our respective banal existences. How's that? Good.


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Friday, August 13, 2004

My dad can kick Charley's ass 

I talked to my brother Rob about an hour ago. He's in Naples, FL and it's windy and stuff there and his power went out, but otherwise the storm is no big deal for him where he is. My dad, however, is in a bit of a pickle.

Hurricane Charley was expected to make landfall in Tampa but instead made a right turn and hit Charlotte Harbor--many miles to the south of Tampa. My dad lives pretty much on that harbor and from the satellite pictures it looks like the eye of the storm is right on top of dad's house right now.

The last Rob talked to dad was when Charley was a category 2 storm near Cuba. At that point, my dad's plan was to ride it out. Evacuations were not wide spread in his area because the storm wasn't expected to hit there, so it's unclear whether he stayed in his home or made it to a shelter or what. His cell phone is not working and neither of us know his land line number so all we can do is wait and see what happens.



UPDATE: I just heard from my mom, who heard from Rob, who has heard from dad. Apparently his roof is gone, or at least all of the shingles are and there's water coming into his house. Rob will drive up there tomorrow and help out with some basic repairs, but he's alive and the brunt of the storm has passed him. I'm curious to know how high the water got from the canal that runs through his back yard.

UPDATE#2: Rob left me a message saying dad went through the northwest eye wall of the hurricane and experienced the full 140 mph wind speeds. The roof structure of his house is still intact, but there's water coming in all over. The sreen cage covering the pool in the backyard is gone, etc. I'll know more after Rob visits him tomorrow.


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Life imitates art mocking life 

...despite millions of us recoiling in horror at some of the motivational tactics employed by Ricky Gervais’ character in the BBC comedy, The Office, managers at a new B&Q warehouse due to open told the bemused staff that morale at the DIY store in East Kilbride would improve if they greeted each other in the morning with lines from the whimsical Mahna Mahna song. ...
via Metafilter
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So... how did she poop? 

A 480-pound Martin County woman has died after emergency workers tried to remove her from the couch where she had remained for about six years.

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Some nerdy questions and some nerdier answers 

What would various common, everyday objects look like if they were traveling at relativistic speeds (speeds approaching the speed of light)? ANSWER

What would it look like to drive from Los Angeles to Medford, CA at Mach 9? ANSWER

And of course, that classic physics problem:

"Would a chunk of metal (can of ravioli) impacting another, larger, rest mass structure (star destroyer) produce an "explosion" effect, or simply punch an appropriately shaped hole as it passed through?" ANSWER

via Metafilter
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"I couldn't get a job at the CIA today, I am not qualified." 

These words were spoken to Michael Moore in an interview taped while making Fahrenheit 9/11. Who spoke them? Why Porter Goss, President Bush's nominee for head of the CIA of course!

Go here to watch the video.

via Metafilter
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"I don't want any more bullshit from anyone and that includes me!" 

We played this little gem on an old episode of Studio 8 Uncensored (our mickey mouse tv show in Burlington, VT in the 90s) but I had completely forgotten about it. Watch these priceless outtakes from a Winnebago corporate video.

via bOING bOING
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Thursday, August 12, 2004

Finally, science does something useful! 

Yahoo News:
Brazil has created the world's first DNA map of the coffee plant to cut production costs and create beans that cater to the rich tastes of U.S. and European consumers, the country's government said on Tuesday.

After over two years of work, the world's biggest coffee grower is using the DNA map to create the world's biggest genetic data base on the plant. It contains information on the 200,000 DNA sequences, and 35,000 genes that create different aromas and caffeine levels in the beloved tropical bean.

Brazil, known for mass-market "junk" coffee, hopes to use the data to raise production of gourmet, organic and new caffeine-free beans within two years. It also plans to cut coffee prices in Brazil, the world's second-largest coffee consumer.

"We are going to create a super coffee that everyone can benefit from eventually," Brazilian Agriculture Minister Roberto Rodrigues told reporters in Brasilia.
...
Jeez, those scientists must have put in some really late nights coming up with this one! I wonder what they did to help them stay awake.

via Geekpress
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Bush administration endangers lives, promotes AIDS 

What an asshat.
Lethal new regulations from President Bush’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, quietly issued with no fanfare last week, complete the right-wing Republicans’ goal of gutting HIV-prevention education in the United States. In place of effective, disease-preventing safe-sex education, little will soon remain except failed programs that denounce condom use, while teaching abstinence as the only way to prevent the spread of AIDS. And those abstinence-only programs, researchers say, actually increase the risk of contracting AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Read more.

via Backwards City
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I'm a happy Bill 

Below is the email I sent to the Youth and Beauty Brigade, the Decemberists fan-nerd listserv, upon learning that the band will play Burlington, Vermont's Club Metronome on October 14th. I'm such a fan-boy.
Burlington, VT!!!! WooHoo!

Club Metronome is small, but has a great sound system and good acoustics—it’s actually a terrific place to see a band like the Decemberists—very intimate.

Where the heck will they be between Sept. 29th (when they play Montreal) and Oct. 14th? Montreal and Burlington are only 1 1/2 hours from each other by car. Will the D’s stay in the area or fly back to Oregon? Northern New England is fan-fucking-beautiful that time of year. I hope they’ll stick around and soak up all the colors, and have the best apple cider they’ve ever tasted, and count the thousands of pumpkins that will line the streets.

Also, the Vermont International Film Festival will be occurring while they are in Burlington. It’s a great film festival that showcases films about peace, justice and human rights. If anyone in the band or anyone else who will be traveling with them (or any list member who will be attending that show) wants to know more, go here. Also, anyone can feel free to email me for more info about the festival (I’ve worked for them for years and have a film of my own in this year’s fest) or about Vermont in general...

Cheers.

-Bill Simmon
www.candleboy.com/weblog
UPDATE: I just received a reply to my email and learned that the Decemberists will be in Europe for the two weeks between their Montreal and Burlington shows. Too bad.
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Where the world's smallest violins are played, presumably. 

Here is an intricately detailed model of the Sydney Opera House:



This model is 60 microns long. That's half the width of a human hair. I will no longer be impressed when a sidewalk artisan offers to engrave my name on a grain of rice.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Perhaps Hubble will be saved after all 

BBC News:
The US space agency has given the go-ahead for a robotic mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, Nasa officials have announced.

Nasa chief Sean O'Keefe has asked for a firm mission proposal to be worked up in a year, after which a decision whether to proceed will be made.

"Everybody says: 'We want to save the Hubble'. Well, let's go save the Hubble," Mr O'Keefe said.

Nasa ceased manned missions to service Hubble after the Columbia disaster.

Mr O'Keefe instructed engineers at the Goddard Flight Center in Maryland to begin serious work to put the robotic mission in to space in 2007.

Some reports suggest a leading candidate for the mission is a robot called Dextre, developed by the Canadian Space Agency.

The two-armed robot, whose name is short for "dexterous", was developed for work on the International Space Station.

New funding

Mr O'Keefe said he would ask Congress for funds to finance the repair mission, which is estimated to cost between $1bn (£550m) and $1.6bn (£8.7m).

Mr O'Keefe asked for ideas from industry for a robotic servicing mission in June.

Hubble is considered to be one of the most important telescopes ever built.

It has peered back to the very beginnings of the universe, found planets outside our Solar System and taken dramatic pictures of stars being born.

The telescope's fate has been in doubt since Mr O'Keefe announced in January that manned servicing missions would be cancelled in light of a new safety regime brought in for space shuttle flights following the Columbia disaster.

Space shuttle Columbia disintegrated as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere on 1 February 2003, killing seven astronauts.

The robot repair mission could add another five years to the telescope's life, which will expire in 2008 without help.

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"Don't you understand this is for your safety?" 

In case you were wondering if the random searches of bags, etc. that have been going on in association with the Democratic and Republican conventions are an egregious abridgement of your rights or not, here is a nice story of someone who got hassled for carrying D&D books. D&D books! Who *are* these people?

via bOING bOING
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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Weather Not Cooperating in Vermont for Perseids 

The next couple of nights are good for watching shooting stars as the Earth is passing through the debris trail of comet Swift-Tuttle, seen below.



The resulting pelting that the Earth gets is the annual Perseid meteor shower. This year should be a good one, but weather in Burlington looks like it will not cooperate. Typical.
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Redrum 

You like Kubrick's The Shining? You hate it (you must be a first class Stephen King fanatic to hate this brilliant film)? Either way, Backwards City has a bunch of neat, nerdy Shining links today that are worth a look. Here they are:

Five Things You Probably Didn't Notice in The Shining


The Kubrick FAQ: The Shining

Thoughts on Reading Kubrick's The Shining

Stanley Kubrick's The Shining

and of course...

The Shining in 30 seconds, re-enacted by bunnies
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Monday, August 09, 2004

You Have Bad Taste in Music 

I saw it on the internet, so it must be true. Go here and watch the videos. At a Staind concert in California, the guy with the megaphone attempts to drum up support for a ballot initiative that would outlaw the use of the phrase "angst ridden" in music criticism. Too funny.

Then go here, because Your Band Sucks.

excerpt:
For their next trick of mass public deception, Radiohead decided to embark on a cosmic journey into the center of Neo-Pink-Floydian masturbatory pretension with OK Computer, the first in a series of Radiohead concept albums entirely lacking in concepts. They once again took MTV and modern rock radio by storm, this time with a long and tedious single called Paranoid Android. It was basically Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, weirded up about 80% and without the element of irony that made it at least bearable as something to smirk at. It featured an adorable video (which was seemingly animated with Mario Paint) in which, appropriately, a pale and skinny man engaged in entirely meaningless and surreal exploits. The song was typical of the album; it was a tale told by five idiots, full of sound and fury but signifying nothing. Their prog-rock gambit was successful; rather than being cornered into admitting that they were too stupid to understand the album, fans and music journalists instead just assumed it had some sort of deep and profound meaning, and showered it with simpering praise that still reverberates today on a thousand Internet nerd colonies. A million brainwashed converts were left yearning for more Radiohead like lambkins for the teat.

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Free Cerebus (well, for $0.37) 

Dave Sim is kind of a dink. I've met him on a few occasions at conventions and indy expos and he is pompous and opinionated and his opinions are, by my lights, mostly worthless. He is a hell of a comics writer and a fine artist, though, so this little stunt of his might be worth your time. According to Neil Gaiman's blog, Sim will send you an autographed copy of an issue of Cerebus that pokes fun at Gaiman's The Endless just for sending him a letter (as opposed to an email).

From Neil Gaiman's blog:
And if you're wondering what the catch is, it's this: Dave wants to know (as, I have to admit, do I) how many of the people out there in internet-land will actually go and do things that don't involve passively clicking on a link and going somewhere interesting. So what you have to do is write Dave a letter (not an e-mail. Dave doesn't have e-mail) telling him that you read that he'll send you a signed Cerebus, and telling him why you'd like him to send you a copy. It's as easy as that. And, quite possibly as difficult.

The address to write to is:

Aardvark Vanaheim, Inc
P.O. Box 1674 Station C
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2G 4R2

Dave, I suspect, thinks he'll get a handful of requests. In my more pessimistic moments, I think he's right, although I'd love it if he got deluged with letters, like those kids in hospitals who don't exist but are still collecting postcards...

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More fun with W. 

No one speaks with more persuasive eloquence on the issue of tribal sovereignty than our president. Wouldn't you say?

Via Kos.

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Sunday, August 08, 2004

Revenge of the Tattooed Nerds 

Are these tattoos cool or just really nerdy? I think they're cool as hell, but that may say more about me than it does about the tattoos.

via Making Light
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"I Hate I Love the 90s" 

Emily is strangely fascinated by VH1's "I Love the..." series of shows. Whenever a new one comes on our TiVo fills up with them and she devours them whole. I am compelled to stare at the TV when they're already on, but I would not go out of my way to watch them, nor would I actively seek them out. Well Amy Stender over at Fluid Motion has a cute piece at Yankee Pot Roast about the latest of these retro-hip TV shows. Check it out.
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Saturday, August 07, 2004

It's official 

The Hubble Space Telescope is blind. This may signal the end of its long-lived vigil on the heavens. Let's hope NASA gets its head out of its ass soon so we can get another space-based 'scope up there.

UPDATE: I read the metafilter post and blogged too quickly. Only the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph has failed. The other major instruments are still functioning. From space.com:
The instrument, called the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS), does not make the classic pictures that Hubble is famous for, but instead splits light into its constituent colors. It has been used to discover dim stars that reveal clues about the age of the universe, study planet-forming environments around other stars and provide insight into black holes.

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The Bourne Expectancy 

Emily is upstairs right now doing her level best not to vomit. The cause of her nauseated condition was The Bourne Supremecy, from which we just returned. We sat in the front row of the stadium portion of the seats, which made the screen fill the frames of my eye glasses completely (I love watching movies that way) and the film was shot in a very bumpy, jostled, hand-held sort of way and edited for maximum freneticism. I found it somewhat annoying because it makes the action sequences confusing and tough to follow--particularly so close up--but Emily found the experience literally sickening. I had to drive us home and now she's laid out on the bed upstairs and breathing slowly and steadily in an attempt to calm her upset tummy. I think she'll be fine in a little while--maybe after a short nap.

We just watched The Bourne Identity on TiVo last night. The two films are decent espionage thrillers, worth a Saturday afternoon if you've nothing better to spend your time and six bucks on.

Now I will go and fetch seltzer for my sick girlfriend.
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Friday, August 06, 2004

I see twist endings 

Emily and I went out and saw The Village tonight. M. Night Shyamalan really has to break out of this suspense-film-with-a-twist thing he's been in since The Sixth Sense. The films are becoming increasingly forced in their writing. Without giving anything away, let me just say that Shyamalan has a real gift for suspenseful pacing. He can really get your heart racing in a scene, I'll give him that. The writing, however--specifically the structure and all of the reveals that are his trademark--is terrible. The Village's premise is so shaky it's a wonder any of the buildings remained standing during production.

In other movie news, Roger Ebert must be killed. He absolutely panned Napoleon Dynamite, a film I went to see a second time, and which has been loved by everyone I know who's seen it. Maybe he's just too old to get this film, which I liken to a modern day Better Off Dead.

Ebert excerpt:
Watching "Napoleon Dynamite," I was reminded of "Welcome to the Dollhouse," Todd Solondz's brilliant 1996 film, starring Heather Matarazzo as an unpopular junior high school girl. But that film was informed by anger and passion, and the character fought back. Napoleon seems to passively invite ridicule, and his attempts to succeed have a studied indifference, as if he is mocking his own efforts.

I'm told the movie was greeted at Sundance with lots of laughter, but then Sundance audiences are concerned with being cool, and to sit through this film in depressed silence would not be cool, however urgently it might be appropriate.
Killing's too good for him. He must be ignored.
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Thursday, August 05, 2004

Bush: Relentlessly Harming America. 

Well, don't take my word for it. See for yourself.

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Charlie Daniels angers Arab community 

"This ain't no rag, it's a flag and we don't wear it on our heads. It's a symbol of the land where the good guys live. Are you listening to what I said?"

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"Home is where you wear your hat." 

We got back to BTV after a long day and 1/2 of travel. We then spent most of the day sleeping. We did manage to go out this evening for some coffee and crosswords at Muddy Waters with Reba. We also began catching up on all of the TV that TiVo grabbed for us while we were away. It is very good to be home, but we are dirt poor after the trip. We'll have to eat ramen noodles for a while I think.

Soon Spine and I will begin posting some of the photos we took from the trip along with accompanying anecdotes. Here's a taste (no photos yet--I'm waiting for the appropriate cable to hook the camera up to the computer):

After the spectacular fireworks display put on by China over the English Bay in Vancouver, Spine, Emily, Ellory, Hummuspants and I waded through the intense river of people up the hill toward Hummuspants' apartment. We stopped in a little store to get some beverages. The store was very busy as we weren't the only ones who had the idea. As we waited in line with our purchases, a loud, drunken man was making a spectacle of himself, saying "Good Times!" in an inappropriately loud voice. The crowd in the store was silent and a bit uncomfortable with his boisterous behavior, but otherwise mostly tolerant. "Good times!" he repeated. Again, this was followed by silence. "Doesn't anyone have anything to say?" he asked, somewhat indignatly. No one spoke. "Bad times," he said.

Then we left the store and went back to chez Hummuspants and watched a videotape of a naked woman making fart noises from her vagina.
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Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Laid over. 

I brought Bill and Emily to the PDX airport at 7:00 this morning, but they weren't able to take the 8:00 flight as they'd hoped. So they spent a leisurely five hours waiting for the 1:00 pm flight, which, to the best of my knowledge, they successfully boarded. They then flew to New Jersey, where they are spending the night before completing the journey to Vermont in the morning.

Breaking News: I'm told that Bill has just been thrown out of the Best Western lounge for continuing to quote from Napoleon Dynamite long after several patrons pleaded with him to stop.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

More Fun 4 Satellite Nerds: Iridium! 

If you don't want to be a satellite nerd, stop reading. If you are one, or are willing to give it a try with the risk that you might become enthralled, see this website about the Iridium satellite constellation, details about the orbital planes, flares up to magnitude -8, and instrument status levels. Here's a tidbit:

Three satellite carriers were used to launch the original satellite
constellation.
Boeing's Delta II rocket was the primary carrier, initially launching 45 sats, five
at a time.
Russia's Proton rocket is the next larger carrier, having launched 21 sats in groups of 7 each.
China's Long March 2C/SD launcher launched Iridiums in groups of two satellites per launch. The Long March 2C/SD had been used to maintain the constellation.


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Monday, August 02, 2004

Vincent Gallo: Hardcore Republican 

Oy vey. You're just trying to be difficult, Vincent. I saw you at Sundance that one year parading around in your purple fur coat, practically begging for attention. Have fun with Lee Greenwood and The Rock at the convention. Jerk. Oh, and I take back anything good I might have said about Buffalo 66.

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nope. 

Got to the airport at 7:00 am and waited until 8:30 only to discover that every single passenger that had booked a seat showed up, which meant that none of the 10 or 15 passengers hoping to fly standby were able to get onboard, including us. The 1:00 pm flight looked just as bad and even if we could have taken it, it wouldn't have gotten us into Newark in time for the Burlington flight so we're pretty much screwed until tomorrow at least. We left the house at 6:30 this morning and got back just before noon. We had a 5 1/2 hour travel day today and we didn't actually go anywhere. Fun.

Now is the time on Sprockets when we nap.
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packing and napping 

We're back at Spine's for a few scant hours of sleep before we attempt to get on a plane at the crack of ass tomorrow. Wish us luck.

We had a flippin' awesome dinner at a very upscale joint in downtown Portland tonight before the movie. It was called Higgins and it was really expensive (Spine had a gift certificate), but if you ever find yourself in PDX, it's worth every penny.

The next post will hopefully be from the east coast. We shall see.
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Sunday, August 01, 2004

Last Day? 

Emily and I are going to attempt to go home tomorrow. If we don't make the flight out of Portland we'll have to stay for another day, which would be just fine. We're definitely looking forward to getting home but it would be nice to stay longer too. Plus, nobody really looks forward to a long day of air travel.

Today our itinerary includes brunch, a visit to the Japanese gardens, some blackberry picking, a tour of Spine's high-rise work space, and dinner at a lovely restaurant followed by a show of Napolean Dynamite. I'm tired already.

Last night we had dinner at Spine's pals Pete and Susan's place. Susan prepared a sumptuous feast of steak, ahi and halibut on the grill. Then we all sat around and traded songs on the guitar. Spine and I regailed the group with our old standards, Scramled Eggs and Velveeta, while Pete sang us the nine songs he's written about robots. "Automaton, you got it goin' on."

Those of you who use Amazon for your online book purchasing needs might consider switching to Powell's. It's an independently owned and operated Portland bookstore--the largest bookstore in America (possibly the world)--and they have a significant web presence. Their search engine is not quite as sophisticated as Amazon's but their selection of books is just as good or better (lots of used options).
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