Thursday, December 29, 2005

Winter break is nice

Nice to relax, nice to be away from the monsters (teens), nice to get stuff done around the house. And nice to catch up on reading; today I finished off reading the True Porn Clerk Stories that I had learned about via Yodelling Llama. Brings back similar memories from my days working in video rental at a video/music store.

In other news, it was a chilly Christmas for us, with the high temperature only reaching about 60 degrees.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Goat report, 12/23

I'd heard about this idea back in 2000, but it finally seems to be catching on this holiday season: Give a goat for Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Coltrane -- insane

I'd been hearing some things about the new Monk-Coltrane live disc and got a good NY Times article about it today. It's amazing to think about that group playing 75 dates at the same club in a 5-month span -- of course they'd have to play with more variety and skill than today's touring groups; it's not a big deal if you phone it in if Long Beach only sees you 3 days a year. I have the Monk-Coltrane studio disk, maybe I'll get this new live one, too.


'Tis the season...

The final bell has rung and the little monsters have gone. Today was a bit too exciting for my taste as the kids who didn't ditch this last day before Winter Break were quite restless. There was a rollin' and tumblin' fight in the morning that got folks pretty excited but may serve to clear some troublemakers out of this school. During lunch a kid insisted on staying in the computer lab, ostensibily to work on his resume but really he wanted to keep talking on his cell phone. He'd spent the entire period before lunch doing it, mostly saying "You crazy!" and "Why you got to be sayin' that?" By the afternoon it looked like one class, that was going to watch Animal Farm all day, had instead decided they wanted to listen to music, which they proceded to do with the door open. Nobody here was awaiting that final bell more than faculty.


Last night we finally got around to watching a housewarming 'gift' we'd received back in July. It was Layover, a David Hasselhoff movie that we hadn't previously heard of, and with good reason. One clever fellow suggested that it went straight to used. Perhaps the only redeeming factor was the repeated references to Bushmills whiskey. Sadly, this cinematic turd is missing from Hasselhoff's wikipedia entry, which tells me that I won't be bored now that my dissertation's behind me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Commentary tracks of the damned

I'm totally in shock that someone actually thought a commentary track would improve the value of a DVD of License To Drive. Perhaps that someone is also a fan of the Onion A/V Club and this priceless biweekly feature (the Batman and Robin article is also great). And I had no idea that Heather Graham was in that movie (I've never seen it) but at least there's no scenes of the Coreys having sex w/ her, unlike their scenes with Nicole Eggert in Blown Away, a very scary sight.


Mister slick superstar David Letterman

Today I read the news that a New Mexico woman claims David Letterman's been sending her secret messages during his broadcasts. My immediate reaction was "that's what he gets for jerking with his lapels for all of these years." Then I thought about it some more: he's been doing the weird little facial ticks, sticking his head in the camera, tie-adjusting, etc. for as long as I can remember. It's no wonder that somebody interpreted it as signals (aside from a cry for help). And what is it with Letterman attracting crazy people, like that woman who claimed to be his wife about 10 years ago?

In reading about Letterman at Wikipedia, I have learned that he founded the American Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming, a charitable organization that has contributed to Rutgers University, among other places. That's why I love Wikipedia.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Politician Hypocrisy

I love politicians who are exposed as obvious hypocrites. Today's winner: Trent Lott (via Atrios). And on the subject of lawsuits, check out the great free newsletter The True Stella Awards. It's well written and usually hilarious.


Friday, December 16, 2005

Movies in 2006

Today I officially became thrilled at the cinematic prospects of 2006. Earlier this year, with the release of the last Star Wars film ever, I admit I felt a little lost. Ever since I was laid up with mono in November of 98 and downloaded the original Phantom Menace trailer to my Rutgers dorm room I've spent a lot of the past 7 years looking forward to the prequels (and hoping for the best more and more). It was weird to no longer be counting down to something...

This summer, I had my first signs that there would be something to look forward to next year when a pretty decent trailer of V For Vendetta hit the web that looks like it might actually do the graphic novel justice. I wasn't as excited by other comic-book movies, Superman and X-Men 3, but more recent preview footage has gotten more a little bit more interested.

Then a few months ago, A Scanner, Darkly got pushed back to 2006 and the same later happened to V, so now I have two promising movies based on two great books coming out in March.

Looking over coming soon lists, I saw some more promise on the horizon. There's Cars from Pixar and they've never let me down. The new Pirates of the Caribbean promises some more ARRRRR fun as well as a chance to stare at Keira Knightly for 2 hours. The coming of another sequel, Mission Impossible 3, doesn't thrill me but could prove to entertain, especially with Philip Seymour Hoffman as the villain.

In the past couple of months, two very promising movies came to light. First is Casino Royale, the next James Bond adventure. It's still scheduled for November of 2006, even tho they haevn't finished casting the major parts. Also promising is the next Christopher Guest movie, For Your Consideration, which brings together the team that brought us This is Spinal Tap and Waiting For Guffman with the talented Ricky Gervais.

On top of all these, there are a bunch of lesser movies of interest... adaptations of two popular books I haven't read (The Da Vinci Code and Eragon, not one but two new Stallone movies (hm, tho now it looks like Rocky Balboa will be 2007?). Lastly, there are two new adaptations of popular kids' books, Charlotte's Web and The Fantastic Mr. Fox, the latter of which I loved when I was younger.

And now this morning, I was thrilled to learn that Studio Ghibli, producers of the great films Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, are doing an adaptation of Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea books. We read these amazing books over the past couple of years and I'm excited to see a Ghibli take on them. It'll certainly be better than that crappy movie Sci-Fi channel did which deserved the drubbing it got.


Sexual brain test

This BBC Sex ID test was pretty fun to take. The coolest part was the faces section (Part 5) where different parts of the faces are changed to make them more or less masculine (it said I prefer feminine faces). My total score was 50 on the masculine side, which I'm sure will disappoint some of you fruits.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Goat Report, 12/15

Triple dose of goats today... first we have this anti-nuke goat that had high radiation levels in her milk, so now she's going to meh! and the parties responsible.
Next is an Ohio boy who says raising goats are theraputic for him but the courts won't let him.
Lastly, I can only imagine that this goat is thinking "Do you have any cheese for me?"


X-mas mashups

I listened to the Green Day mashups yesterday and was quite impressed, despite not being much a Green Day fan. Today I finished listening to the Santastic collection I got yesterday thanks to a recommendation from 6-4-2. It's good, but not as great as Corporal Blossom's Mutated Christmas album, which I got a few years ago. They still have the incredible White Christmas remix (I guess it was a mashup, but the word wasn't used back then) available for listening, give it a listen!


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Short Note

Great news here at the high school: we shut down unlimited internet access. Now kids won't be able to just goof around when they're supposed to be working on their reading, math, etc. However, as I learned soon after, the kids find other ways to avoid work. This document is an example of what they'll do when bored. The student was not prompted to do this, it wasn't for any assignment, and didn't seem to be done with any sense of irony. FYI, Inglewood is a city in L.A. about 100 miles from here (to the west of Compton) that some of the kids seem to want to go to and live the life of a pimp/gangbanger. It's a little more upscale from Compton as it's closer to LAX, but still a place where all the nice post-WWII homes have bars on the windows. And two of my grandparents are buried there (Mom tells me that when she was young, her mom told her that someday they'd move to Inglewood "if we can afford it").


San Diego

A little bit of catching up in this post... we went down to San Diego for Thanksgiving as a member of the Goat clan lives down there w/ her husband and his kids. It was really nice down there, I'd never gone down to just enjoy the city, I was usually just there to see a show or something. We spent an afternoon on Coronado Island, which included a walk thru the Hotel Del Coronado and along the beach, and the next day checked out Balboa Park and took a brief walk thru the Japanese Gardens there. We also learned how to play cribbage, so we're well on our way to becoming old ladies.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Dean Gray Tuesday

Today the mash-up album American Edit is being posted online. I enjoyed The Grey Album and Q-Unit as interesting so I have high hopes on the Green Day mash-up. I think I have heard one of the tracks on Indie 103.1 and it sounded decent. Go download it and decide for yourself. (If you can't get it, I'll make you a CD)


Monday, December 12, 2005

Richard Pryor, RIP

In thinking about the recent passing of Richard Pryor, some of my earliest memories of his comedy was that he was in really funny movies (not to mention the great concert films). More precisely, he was in really funny movies that my parents wouldn't let me see in compete form. So while I remember seeing lots of Stir Crazy, I don't remember much about the movie except it was one of those movies that I had to leave the room for briefly. I'm pretty sure that I saw Some Kind of Hero similarly. Thankfully, he moved on to more family-friendly fare, like Brewster's Millions (with John Candy!) and The Toy. If you've never seen Silver Streak, check it out; it's a textbook example of stealing a movie, which Pryor does in the latter half. I'll try and listen to my LP of Bicentennial Nigger tonight.


Friday, December 09, 2005

Snow is beautiful... from a distance

Heard some rain late last night and woke up to find the ground still wet. On the drive to work, the view was very clear (as it usually is) and I got a great view of the San Gabriel Mountains with snow upon them, quite fitting for the season. And it was just as I heard of all the snow getting dumped on the Northeast US this week, which made it especially sweet...


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Close encounters of the Crip kind

The kids these days are talking a lot about Tookie Williams, who may be executed next week, depending on The Governator's decision. It's interesting to see these kids aware of current events, for once.

While reading some about Tookie, I learned that I associated with some gang members back when I was in high school. For the first year and a half or so of my high school career (before I got my license), I had to take public transit to my high school. The bus line I took started in the hood and ended up in a nicer area, so some of my fellow riders were rough-looking types. I remembered they called each other "cuzz" and talked a lot about "bustin' up some slobs" over the weekends. According to Wikipedia's Crips entry, that identifies those fine fellows as Crips (and the "slobs" are Bloods). Those were very educational rides.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Goat Report, 12/7/05

This goat in Sweden knows how to keep warm... I hope you've all gone to Ikea to get a Yule Bock (now in red!).


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Free song stuck in my head

From 6-4-2 (a well-written baseball blog) I got this fun song which has been stuck in my head of late. A look at their website shows they're friends w/ The Essex Green, a nice pop band that showed up on a mixtape that was made for me in 2000.


Monday, December 05, 2005

Santa Barbara

We went to Santa Barbara a few days before Thanksgiving, my first trip up there since I was a kid. On the way we spent a night in Ventura, right on the harbor with a nice view of the Channel Islands. We got some nice Malai Kofta at The Taj Cafe and walked around the town a little that night, then went on up to SB the next day. There's a nice walking tour of the older parts of town (built by the Spanish long ago) and we relaxed afterwards by going to see the new Harry Potter at the really cool Arlington Theater, a great old cinema that has indoor decor that looks like an old Mission at night. Movie was good, glad to see they're dumping more and more of the expository classroom stuff.

The next day we went to check out the Old Santa Barbara Mission, which was interesting historically but Princess Whitegoat was again noting how the displays don't look like they've been updated in the past 20 years. From there we went up into the really nice Santa Ynez valley to visit some wineries, accompanied w/ cheese & crackers from Trader Joe's. We got a taste of some Flying Goat wine (which we'd had before) but couldn't afford a whole bottle. We made our way down to Solvang, a weird town that is made to look like Denmark. While The Goat doesn't care at all for things Danish, we did find some Etke Gejtost there. It's an amazing cheese that we found in Norway last summer and lasted a whole year. I've deemed it the missing link between cheese and peanut butter. Later that night we watched Sideways, much of which takes place in Solvang and the surrounding wine areas.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Short films

This week, Yodelling Llama mentioned a fun short film called Werewolf Solution on his blog. After viewing and enjoying it, I realized he's also clued me into a couple of other great short films in the past few years, such as Batman: Dead End and the incredible Shining remixed trailer.


Science songs

Amusing article over at Wired about a science prof that sings songs at U of Washington. Led me to the Massive database of science songs of all sorts of levels. If only I'd known about this when I was looking for a dissertation topic...

Speaking of dissertations, big congrats to Forktine on getting thru her dissertation defense!


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Anti-Drug Murals

The other day here at school the kids got to have a contest drawing murals on the ground with chalk (ah, memories of Douglass College) with an anti-drug theme. As part of the faculty/staff, I was asked to take part in the voting we did after school. While voting, me and a few of my colleagues were a bit troubled by what we saw: two of the six murals included a marijuana leaf in the artwork. What's more, it was a well-drawn leaf (obviously something kids these days practice... I guess monsters are out of style?) and they were the two best drawn murals. One of them did have a thin red line drawn thru the leaf in what must have been a half-hearted act. But sadly the best drawn murals were not winners this day.