Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thursday Linky-Love

Because you kids, you must be entertained. Lucky for you, I'm up to the task.
  • For you comics lovers, DC's "Vertigo" imprint has made the first issues of several notable series (including Preacher, Sandman, and Fables) available for viewing as PDF files. [h-t: PC] Content Note: These can be a bit more "adult" than your Superman or Spiderman. So be forewarned. I'm not endorsing--just informing.
  • Here's a fun article about the Christian tchotchke--I'm sorry, merchandising industry. [h-t: Evangelical Outpost]
  • In case you missed the reference in the above story: Yes, Virginia, there's a Left Behind action/RPG video game in the works. And it may be just as bad as you were fearing. [h-t: WorldMagBlog] (A thought maybe for another post: I'm a bit bothered by the idea that, in the game, you're 'fighting' against the evil empire's forces. I haven't read enough of the books to know, but do they do that? Do the Christians actually do physical battle with their enemies? Because I have a BIG problem with that.)
  • This book sounds neat.
  • This is genius. The convergence of multiple points of internet geekiness. Warning: Sam-Jackson-type language. Yeah, you know what I mean.
  • I dare you to not say "aww" when you look at the picture.
  • If you love movie posters, you MUST check this phenomenal deal out before it's too late. If I had the room, I'd buy about six.
  • This is mainly for Kelly, but anyway: If you're a superhero, it would probably do you good to register with the government. You know, for taxes and stuff, i think. [h-t: Rick]
  • I dig Christian rock radio. Thanks to the internets, you can too.
  • Totally not fair--Iowa gets pirates running for public office. All we get in Texas is Kinky Friedman. I'd totally vote for a pirate instead.
  • In case you need something to read, here's a literature map. [h-t: Barbara]
  • And this is absolutely beautiful. Bob Dylan's new video for "When the Deal Goes Down" is shot as 8mm vacation videos from the 50's, and stars the breathtaking Scarlett Jo. *sigh* [h-t: PC]

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Guilty Pleasure Alert

I feel a little guilty for admitting this, but I have to say, I've found a new fave g.p. band.

Family Force Five!

I have no business enjoying this band. It's cheesy, pseudo-hard-punk goofiness. I first heard their track "Replace Me" on a Christian Rock radio station, and loved it.

I'm trying to describe this band, but I just don't have the words. I mean, their 80's-inspired video "Love Addict" has people in giant heart costumes, an old-school hip-hop backbeat, breakdancing robots, roller-rink-reject dancing girls, and fighting ninjas.

Their video has freaking NINJAS.

Basically, if I were all doped up on hallucinogenic painkillers, this is the kind of band i would envision. A blend of 80's metal, indie rock, Beastie Boys, neo-punk, and crazy screaming hard rock.

With ninjas.

Just go to their Myspace and give it a listen. First, stop the automatic music player and scroll down to watch the video (about halfway down the page). Then listen to their tracks.

"Hold up, wait a minute, put a little LOVE in it!!!"

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Boy, you're gonna carry that weight, carry that weight a long time..."

At the risk of ending the blue streak of commentary in the previous post (can they hit #50?), I wanted to check in again and say hi.

Here's what's going on.

--Work is busy busy. Too much to do, and not enough is getting done. So I haven't been as prolific in this forum as I normally am. I'm sure you understand.

--As of this morning, I'm back on the diet. I've been off for about a month. While not eating like a total hog, I have been allowing myself too many culinary liberties, and I haven't been vigilant about portions or points. As a result, 8 pounds gained. So now I'm back on. And I immediately remember how much it stinks to be on a diet. But I've put it off too long. Time to get serious. If I don't, well, then I'm gonna carry this weight a long time. And I don't want that.

If you have any dieting/exercise techniques that work for you (or someone you know), feel free to share below.

--I am determined to finish the red typewriter story. Sometime this week. I won't give up. Don't give up on me.

--I am further determined to present another Bible Redux in the next week or so. Brand-new--not one of the ones I've been working on offline. This means I'm going to really have to get motivated to writing in the late late evening, when I get home from Job #2. But that's what it takes. I'm not giving up on this.

I think that's all I've got right now. But I wanted to let you know. And to ask for your encouragement. I've got to get down to business on these fronts. I know, before, I talked about taking one thing at a time, and putting some things off until later. But there's no time to lose, and there's too much at stake. No more slumber, golden or otherwise. Time for action.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I need motivation.

Just found the motivator online. Awesome. Here you go. [h-t: Pop Candy]

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

All these things that I've done.

Mid-week. I'm pretty tired. I haven't been very disciplined about getting to bed early enough to not feel like a zombie when I stroll into work (late) the next morning.

Day-work is going okay. Very busy. I feel myself starting to slip behind, so I'm hoping to stop the skid and make up the ground soon, before I get myself in too big of a hole. I've been digging myself out of such holes my entire life. Well past time to start on a different course.

Night-work is going really well. I've been blessed with enough sales that I've staked my claim as a top-level caller. Praise God for His provision. So yeah. I need to kick it into gear tonight and tomorrow, in order to score some bonus hours and pay from my awesome Aussie boss.


Reading "Will in the World" by Stephen Greenblatt. It's a great biography of Shakespeare that I'd highly recommend thusfar. I'm almost a third of the way through it. Good stuff.

Speaking of literature, I noticed at the grocery store book rack that the final installment of the Dark Tower series is now in paperback. So those of you who are considering making Roland's journey now have a more cost-effective option. I also saw that Norrell and Strange (or is it "Strange and Norrell"?) is in paperback. I was thisclose to grabbing it, but better sense prevailed. I can probably find it cheaper than 8 bucks in a few months anyway. Plenty on my shelf to read until then.


On the literary front, the Huggins story is the only "writing" I've done in about a month. I'm excited about it, but time and tide demand I wait until Friday to finish. I hope it will be worth the wait. I'm actually kicking around some alternate storylines, and follow-up tales. It could stretch into a few different pieces. So I'm excited about how that will work out.


No, I'm not going to talk about RockStar. Stop asking.


On the personal front...well, not much. I had a brief bout of vocational discontent that has subsided. The day job has been grinding lately, but I'm making it work. Either that, or I'm slipping into a gauzy apathy. Either works for me.

Right now, my focus is on paying off debts and taking care of my Sunday School class. Sorry to say, I haven't been as faithful to the diet as I was in the past, and as a result, my weight has fluctuated a bit over the past month. I'm not making any kind of forward progress. But there's only so much attention I can give to things before I start to lose my grip. So, I'm prioritizing. Debt reduction and church ministry are on the top of the pile. Next is weight loss and writing.


I got a call last night from yet another married friend of mine, announcing that they are expecting their first child. I told him how happy I was for them.

No, really. I am happy for them. Just...a little annoyed, too.

I'm just about to start my slide down the far side of the 20's, and I find myself no closer to "wife and family" than I was at the end of college. Strike that--I find myself even further from the prospect of such things than I was at the end of college.

I've been told all the reassuring things you're supposed to tell people. "Don't worry, you're so young!" "The right one is out there!" "The minute you stop looking, the right person will show up!" "Don't give up; you'll find your match one day!"

But that old tyrant clock keeps a'tick-tick-ticking along. And the fact of the matter is, I'm tired of being "crazy uncle Dave!" to a flock of babies and toddlers.

I want to be "Daddy." I really really really do.

So when my friend called me last night, I was happy. But I was also a little envious. And it reminded me that, for whatever God's reason, my desires are still being deferred.


I know there's something I can do about that. I could be proactive in the search for the future Mrs. Teacherdave. But I don't know if I want to. I don't know if I really want to risk it.

Most days, I can barely handle my life as it is. I'm living on the verge of being overwhelmed every day by all the stupid little things that comprise my still-simple single life. And in these moments, I have to smack myself in the forehead and think, "Dave, you couldn't ask any woman to be a party to this trainwreck of yours." It's a negative thought, but not a wholly false one.

I'm a mess, gang. I'm fun, and funny, and clever, sure. I'm good to invite to parties. But I'm also selfish and lazy and easily angered, which makes me a lousy candidate for a relationship. My singleness may be God's second-greatest grace to womankind, come to think of it. But this is who I am right now. I want to change, certainly. But I don't want to have to work at changing right now--there's only so much self-improvement one can attempt at one time. For now, my goal is just to stop getting called by creditors on a daily basis. That, and make sure I'm not instructing my Bible study group in heresy. Gotta keep an eye on that.

But I didn't just say I couldn't handle the addition of a "social life," did I? I said I coudln't "risk" it.

There's the bald fact of it: I'm scared of getting back out there again. I've had enough of upfront rejections. Heck, that was almost all of my high school experience. (Except for this one girl who was kind of obsessive and clingy. She made me a little uncomfortable, back then. Maybe I should try to look her up sometime? Kidding. Sort of.)

But I've been out of the dating world for so long that I've reverted back to my awkward youth. (Who am I kidding--I never stopped being awkward. I just happened to find a few truly kind women who looked past it.) And I don't know how to be suave or mature or adult. My dating style is still "awkward, unsure teenager."

And I have to confess, I feel a bit like the best chance for me is past. All the cool women I know, the ones that I would totally ask out, are either already married or living separate lives far, far away. I had my chance, I guess, but I didn't seize it.

[I know, this is all very Xanga-like. You brought it on yourselves, those of you who wanted personal posting.]

Serendipity: Currently playing on the compy--"You'll be loved, you'll be loved, like you never have known/And the memories of me will seem more like bad dreams/Just a series of blurs, like I never occured/Someday you will be loved..."



Well, I think that's enough verbal effluence for now. Tune in tomorrow when I try to regain some shred of diginity by posting about something less whiny and embarrassing.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Monday Linky Love!

[Coming up this week: My "Snakes" experience, a post about plastic people (literally), and by request, more posts of a personal nature. Also, towards the end of the week, the second (and maybe third) part of the Huggins superhero origins tale, including his secret identity, revealed! Thanks for your patience; hope i can reward it.]

In the meantime, and for your afternoon viewing pleasure, LINKS!
  • No, seriously: who would mug Screech? (On an actual serious note--being falsely accused of attempted rape is every man's worst nightmare, because the assumption is ALWAYS that the woman is telling the truth. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a shame.)
  • Check this out: I found this to be disturbing and utterly fascinating. Poor Garfield. [h-t: Pop Candy.]
  • It may be a Smirnoff advert, but that doesn't make it any less fun.
  • I'm a fan, but I still found this funny. (Link dedicated to Chris Jones.)
  • Peter at Alarm-Alarm gets himself all worked up. I sympathize, but the fact is--I am looking for a whimsical, beautiful geek. (And I love Natalie, too.) That doesn't make me an "indie yuppie." That just makes me slightly sad and unrealistic. (Be sure to read the source material, too. Interesting and blogworthy.)
  • This is pretty awesome. I don't get to say it much, but good on ya, (segments of) Hollywood! (Full list of signees is here.) [h-t: Say Anything]
  • RIP, Bruno. I liked you in "The Freshman."
  • It's not too early to start thinking about Christmas shopping for your favorite blogger. For those interested, Dave wants this.
  • Today on AOL music: they still lead with the Abomination(TM), but also featured are the "Idlewild" soundtrack, a reissue of the first Sublime album, and new music from Starsailor and...other people I don't care about.
  • It's almost fall, and you know what that means--the return of the greatest show on television!
There you go. Happy Monday. See you tomorrow.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Fascinating True(-ish) Tale! [Part One]

Here it is, as promised: the superhero origin story of Mr. Huggins.


Unfortunately, it's seemed to have taken on a life of its own and won't be confined to a single post. The second half on Monday, as well as my "Snakes on a Plane" experience and something a bit more personal, maybe.


Part the First: Olivetti

Jeremy was a quiet boy with keen eyes and the ability to conspicuously not say what everyone else was thinking. He did not blurt, as many children do, nor did he unleash any naive outbursts that cause grown-ups to so often blush and apologize. This quiet quality was highly regarded by adults and universally dismissed by peers. But the thing about Jeremy that made him special was that he noticed everything. Catalogued it mentally. Recorded and consumed it, made it part of his understanding. One Fourth of July, while Jeremy's friends and family were making noise and smoke with store-bought explosives, he sat on the park bench watching a sparkler burn down to its base in his smoke-stained fingers. Even when it burned him each time, he didn't yell or scowl; he barely registered the discomfort. He merely placed it on the cold stone seat next to him, and took another to the nearest adult to be lit. Then he returned to his place and studied it. He tried to memorize it, how the streaks of light danced and sputtered and died. Once in a while, he could almost anticipate how the tiny display would burn. No, not anticipate--he could see it. But only briefly, and even when it "happened," he didn't believe it. He was sensible.

Jeremy's head was filled with stories. Deep, epic stories with multitudes of characters and complex plots. Some of them were happy, a few were funny, many were sad. All were true. In his youth, he tried his hand at writing stories on paper, but his mind always seemed to outpace his young fingers. He got frustrated often, and rarely if ever finished a story he started.

On the day his life changed forever, he was walking down past the shops along Main Street, peering in windows. His favorite store was the used and antique book store. It was run by a old man in a rumpled brown suit. No one knew his name. To his face, he was called "sir," but otherwise he was known as "the book man."

One day, as Jeremy passed this favored store window, something new stopped him dead in his tracks. On a small desk in the window display sat a curious-looking typewriter. The red box gleamed. The keys looked delicate and graceful like black-booted centipedes' legs. Jeremy stared through the glass, leaning closer and closer until his forehead touched the sun-warmed glass. He couldn't take his eyes off of the machine. He didn't smile with mouth agape, like some boys who ogle baseball cards and comic books. Jeremy stared intently, brow slightly furrowed, lips pursed. He didn't understand why the typewriter fascinated him. But it captured his attention and would not release it until Jeremy realized that the book man was standing behind the table, staring back at him, lip curled slightly. Jeremy gasped, took a step back. The old man raised a gnarled hand to calm the boy, then pointed to the door. Jeremy's mind started to drift back to the parental admonitions about strangers, but the shining red of the typewriter in the window still held his eye. He walked into the musty, dusty book stall and over to the desk in the window.

The shopkeeper spoke first. "You like my little toy there?" The boy only nodded, never taking his eyes away from the device.

The old man scratched his chin and sighed. "Ah, mio Olivetti. It's a very special item. Very rare. But you can take a closer look, if you like. You seem like a smart boy, not a dumb pig like so many of the boys I see around these days. Go ahead. Here." He reached beneath the counter and pulled out a clean sheet of paper. Holding it out, he said, "Try it out."

Jeremy hesitated, then reached out and slowly took the sheet of paper from the wrinkled paw of the book man. He walked over to the typewriter and fed the sheet in easily.

The book man grunted. "Have you used one like this before?"

Jeremy stopped and thought for a moment. "Never. How did I know...?"

Behind him, the book man nodded. "Very good. Have a seat, and start typing."

Jeremy sat at the desk, his back to the window. He barely touched the keys, then froze. "I... I don't know what to type. I don't think I even know how."

The book man stood behind the counter with arms folded. "Place your fingers on the keys. Close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Then, without thinking, let your fingers type."

Uneasy and confused, Jeremy did as the book man said. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and then started tapping.

The tapping of his fingers on the keys started simply, then grew more complex. There were crossovers, spaces, backspaces. The small fingers flew feverishly over the shiny black keys, pressing letter after letter. His breath quickened, his heart started to race. Jeremy opened his eyes and pulled away from the typewriter.

On the page, almost full now, was a gobbledygook of letters and symbols. It was all nonsense. After a while, though, it became words.

Black car.

Sign coat.

Yellow balloon dog icecream.

The boy stood, pulled the sheet out of the typewriter, and quickly walked over to the counter, handing the sheet to the old man. "Thank you," he said quietly, then turned and almost ran out of the store, his face vanilla-white.

The book man looked down at the wrinkled paper and sighed. Nonsense. Then, he saw something flash by the shop window. A Cadillac, the color of midnight. A few seconds later, a large man in a sandwich-board sign walked by, passing out fliers for the new deli opening up down the block. Walking opposite of him was a woman walking her dog and holding the hand of her daughter.

The little girl ate an ice cream cone, as a yellow balloon hovered above her, tied to her wrist.

The book man smiled. Good, he thought to himself.


The incident in the book stall stayed in Jeremy's mind for several days, but soon it was forgotten, as late summer gave way to early fall, and school activities quickly filled the boy's mind.

A few weeks later, Jeremy's birthday arrived. This year, it was on a Saturday, the best day for a birthday to be on. He got up and went downstairs for breakfast, when he saw his mother sitting at the kitchen table with a confused look on her face. In front of her was a stained, yellowed cardboard box with a red bow on it and an envelope that read, "J. Huggins, for his birthday."

"Jeremy, do you know what this is, or who it's from?"

The boy shrugged, and started to open the box. His mother said, "No, sir. Card first. You know how this works."

Jeremy opened the envelope and removed a folded sheet of white paper. Written in the shaky hand of old age were the words, "Close your eyes, take a breath, and type."

The boy dropped the letter on the table. His mother, now worried, picked it up and read. "I don't understand, Jeremy. What does this mean? Who is it from?"

The boy opened the old cardboard box that had been decorated with a single bow. Inside was the typewriter that had bewitched him so.

His mother was now pacing. "Jeremy, explain this to me right now!"

He shrugged. "The book man. I saw it in his shop. He let me try it out."

His mother stopped. "When did this happen?"

Jeremy told his mother about his walk home from school that fateful day--excluding the troubling typing experience. At the end of the tale, she said, "Well, it's just too much. It's not right for some strange old man to give a little boy such an expensive gift. Don't take it out of that box--we're sending it back."

Jeremy acted disappointed, but a small part of him was relieved. There was something about that device that he didn't understand, didn't trust.

Unfortunately, the typewriter would not be shrugged off so easily. When Jeremy's parents drove over to the bookshop, it was competely emptied. Their inquiries found no forwarding address, either. The book man and his wares had vanished, and all that was left of him was a red typewriter given to a very special little boy.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

this is an audio post - click to play

"Everything else will be off..." including the TV: A Rock Star Recap (UPDATED)

[Because you know it's coming, and you have to admit you love reading it.]

What a Dickensian ending to this week of Rock Star madness. It was the best of weeks, it was the worst of weeks.

Okay, to go in order:


The band took the contestants to Las Vegas, to show them where the first stop on Supernova's eventual tour would be. Then, everything fell apart. Dilana (after a few drinks, i'm thinking) proceeded to tell Tommy that they should just pick her and end the competition now, because she's the best one. Ahem. Then, Toby and Lukas got freaking smashed. Passing out at 10:30? Wow, guys. What a foolish mistake. In any audition or interview, even for a rock band, you don't make a drunken buffoon of yourselves! The band already has one of those; he plays drums. I doubt highly that Gilby or Jason thought much of their performance, which may hurt them later.

Then at song selection, Toby ran around the pool naked on a dare, just to get to play with Gilby. Silly Toby.

Performance Episode:

As I mentioned, Magni doing the Bowie tune "Starman" was awesome. Check out the video, it's good stuff. Patrice did the Police's "Message in a Bottle," and she did okay but not great. However, the band (and especially Dave N.) gave her a lot of grief for it. She had this shell-shocked look on her face after they were done with her. Lukas was uninspiring. Zayra was good, but still so totally wrong for the band. Ryan rocked out "In the Air Tonight," if that's even possible. I was rivetted during his performance. That kid's got this really intense magnetism. Toby's hard-earned song with Gilby was Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill," which he did pretty decently on, though it seemed like he was rushing through the song. Good on him for hitting the bongos during the instrumental part. Dilana was predictable in "Cat's in the Cradle," but of course the band ate it up.

Storm...oh, poor Stormy. What a crap song. There's no way to do "I Will Survive" well. Two comments from the band, one Tuesday and one yesterday, kinda made me scratch my head. Gilby referenced Marty Casey's legendary Britney Spears performance when Storm talked about it being a rough song. Bad comparison: Britney Spears, however bad, is MUCH better than friggin Gloria Gaynor. Then yesterday, Dave N. said that the version he liked was Cake's. Well, big friggin deal, Dave. You want these rockers to do someone else's version of a song, instead of making it their own? You're so full of crap, dude. Especially after Gilby ripped Patrice for not doing something "different" with hers.

The only way I think it could have worked is if you turned it into a dark, desperate emo version--essentially taking a song about surviving and making it about NOT surviving. But even then, there's a real risk of it exploding in your face.


First things first: I like the idea of them trying out a different singer on a new track each week from here on out. Their first singer? Well, big freaking shock. It's Dilana. Meh.

Here's the thing. The song is cheap and trashy, just as you'd expect. But why oh why did there have to be half-undressed dancers gyrating around them for the entire song, just a few short weeks after Gilby ranted about female leads NOT using sexuality to sell their music? Knock-knock. ("Who's there?") Why, it's Mr. Double-Standard calling! And the thing was, okay, half-naked women, I'm not surprised, but it's just so boring. Let your music sell itself, dude.

Last year, I was all about INXS by the end of the show. This year, I'll watch the show to cheer for the success of my favorite singers, but I won't bother with the actual band once it's all over. Because there's nothing new happening here.

Anyway. Encore went to Ryan, who deserved it, and did even better the second time. He's emerging as a serious contender.

The bottom three both reassured and then surprised me. Zayra and Patrice should have been there--but Magni? Are you kidding me??? Storm practically fell of her perch, because she was convinced that she was going to be up.

Well, Magni proved that the voters were crazy, because his version of "Creep" not only destroyed Lukas' previous attempt, but it cemented his spot in contention. And the "I don't belong here" that was sung so heart-felt surely applies to his position in the Bottom Three and NOT his standing in the contest.

Patrice. I'm trying to figure her out. Her weekly performances have been lackluster for several weeks, but her elimination performances have all been spectacular. She seems comatose in the first case and on fire in the second. I think it's because in elimination, she can choose her own music, so she's much more comfortable. I still am in awe of her choosing the Buckley song two weeks ago. Yes, I'm still talking about it. That's how impressed I was. She covered "Celebrity Skin" by Hole, and again Lukas' version paled in comparison. He better watch his back, because he's getting played a fool.

Zayra sang a Blue October track called "Razorblade" and did well. But it was her time to go. The axe fell, and Zayra is gone from the show.

Ladies and gentlemen, the preliminaries are over. Let the real contest begin.

So it was. A Dickensian week, and a Dickensian post, at least in length. Zayra leaving, Storm staying, and Ryan's encore--the best of times. The Supernova stripper track, continued Dilana love, and Magni being anywhere near the bottom three--the worst of times.

Who knows what will happen next week. But you know I'll be there.

And my prediction for the final results? Based on performance so far, the real, justifiable contender is Magni. Dilana will hang around but won't last. Toby and Ryan will make a good showing. Storm will be out earlier than she should, and Lukas won't last much longer. Patrice is probably gone next week, barring a Lukas or Storm meltdown. I'd kinda like to see Lukas go next week, because while I started out being a big fan of his, he's a one trick pony, he doesn't listen to advice, and he's an arrogant drunk. *Yawn* Go start a punk band and burn yourself out, Pete Doherty.


I almost forgot. Zayra's elimination means that she's soon to be taken off the "On Notice" board. Watch your back, "ugly babies"--you're next to go.

Rock\m/horns up,

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Brief Rock Star Comments

I've tried writing this post twice, and Blogger died on me twice. So for numero three-o, I'm going to give you a short, bulleted list, and promise the fuller, "real" recap of Rock Star Week 7 man-ya-na.

So, to wit:
  • Best performance was Magni, and he should get the encore. The encore will go to Dilana, though.
  • Just then, I first typed "Jill" when I meant "Dilana," which gives you an indication of my opinion of her.
  • Ryan did amazing. I loved the song, and I'm not a Phil Collins fan.
  • Storm had a lousy song to work with, and she'll unfairly suffer for it.
  • Zayra's original was beautiful and well-sung. She's still wrong for this band, though.
  • I have said before that Lukas was a strong contender. I have changed my mind. He's a one-trick pony, and he doesn't have enough versatility to justify fronting the band. The new front-runner, as far as I'm concerned, is Magni--as well it should be.
  • Bottom Three: Patrice, Zayra, and either Storm (for her lousy song choice) or Lukas (for his mediocre performance). Shouldn't be Storm, but that seems more likely. However, Storm will sing her way out easily, Patrice will slide by, and the axe will FINALLY fall on the Z.
So it shall be written, so it shall be done. Better recap tomorrow, including how NOT to party in Vegas, and why punk clergymen are lamer than hipster zebras, when it comes to fashion. ("Turn left!")

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

This Week in Free Music

I was getting worried about the AOL free streaming music page, when I pulled up the page and was confronted with the Abomination(TM) . However, if you get past the initial fright, there are some great albums available this week, including:

  • Yanni Live! ...I'm kidding. Unless you're into that. But I hope not.
  • Bernard Fanning. Not bad, but it kind of blends into the background after a while.
  • The Panic Channel. Apparently, Dave Navarro can do more these days than leer at Brooke Burke. This is a good album here. Of course, I'm no metalhead, so my tastes aren't as discerning.
  • The Monkees. C'mon, you know you want to. It's okay. The Monkees rule.
  • Elliot Morris. Consider this the "PBB Pick" of the week. This is a really great album. The AOL page describes his music as "southern Counting Crows," which naturally caught my attention. But it's got a lot more of Nickel Creek and Grant-Lee Phillips, too. Really solid. I'll be listening to this one a few more times this week.

What's great is, Elliot Morris is touring with the Counting Crows and Goo Goo Dolls. I think that pretty much cinches it; I'm going to the Crows show next month. Anybody wanna come with?

Guess I Should Have Mentioned There Was a Door Prize.

If any of you out there are hyper-observant, you would see that we've reached a milestone here at PBB. That's right, our 50,000th visitor has crossed the threshold and stamped his feet off on the mat.

I decided a few days ago that I would do something special for that lucky visitor (or that visitor's host), but I wouldn't announce it, to keep it a surprise.

So the 50,000th visitor is... from the page of the venerable Mr. Huggins. Whether the visitor is the inestimable Mr. Huggins himself or one of his many admiring readers, I cannot tell. So to him goes the victory.

And what is the door prize that Mr. Huggins has been awarded? A blog post on his superhero "origins" story, on Friday.

Now, Mr. Huggins has a choice: he can keep the prize for himself, or pass it on to someone else (hopefully someone I know or can look up). If I do not hear from him between now and Friday morning, I will proceed to retell the backstory of this elusive figure. So stay tuned.


Okay, as I understand it, the venerable Mr. H is by this time the married Mr. H. So if he is unable to respond in time, I can understand that. Thus, the post commences. How the mysterious crimefighter became a hero for the literate masses. Friday. Be there.


As for the landmark, I think that's keen. To be fair, it's only 50,000 in the past 26 and a half months. I didn't start actually counting visitors until almost two years after I started blogging.

But yeah. I appreciate it, y'all. You folks rock my bobbysocks.

Monday, August 14, 2006

"And now it's time to raise the intellectual level of the program..."

For those of you who just can't get enough TeacherDave, I was invited to be a guest on this man's second-ever podcast.

So, for your listening enjoyment, the original "Better than Critics" critics discuss movies, television, and ETL Day for over an hour, here (courtesy of

The best way to describe the quality of the criticism is visually:

Friday, August 11, 2006

"Isn't it enough for you?"

So, I'm listening to the song "Today's the Day" by Aimee Mann. The simple but inviting intro. The gentle melody. Aimee's voice, which just complete kills me.

And suddenly I think to myself, "This needs to be in a movie. One of those great indie movies, where there's this moment of revelation and change. How would I write this scene?"

Then suddenly it hits me. It is in a movie. I'm listening to its soundtrack.

Ugh. Idiot.

Yeah, sometimes, I'm just not with it, mentally. Today is one of those days.

Weekend Assignment


Thursday, August 10, 2006

One book...

I don't do a lot of these "meme" thingies you kids like. But i've been "tagged." What can ya do?

For the record, most of these answers are ones i have given elsewheres. Just so you know.

Conditions: "The Bible" can't be any of the answers. Because it would fit in a few of these categories. This way, the temptation is gone, and so is the risk of "Sunday School answers."

1. One book that changed your life:
Tough question. I think "The Chronicles of Narnia" did (don't roll your eyes, bear with me) because I read the books repeatedly at a young age, and it really entrenched my love for story and meaning. The whole "myth-making" thing. Yeah. That's what I got from it.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:
"Generation X" by Douglas Coupland. Also, "High Fidelity" by Nick Hornby.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
Either "The Lord of the Rings," the Complete Works of Shakespeare, or my "Literature of the Western World, Volumes 1 and 2" textbooks.

4. One book that made you laugh:
"A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" by Dave Eggers.

5. One book that made you cry:
"A Prayer for Owen Meany" had me tearing up for the last ten pages or so.

6. One book that you wish had been written:
Mine. But there's time yet.

7. One book that you wish had never been written:
Well, "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" made high school a very lonely time, thank you, JOSH HARRIS.

Kidding aside, I think the world could have done without the Gnostic "gospels." But then, without The DaVinci Code, what WOULD we Christians have had to talk about for the past two years?

8. One book you’re currently reading:
Dante's "Inferno." And i'm really digging it.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
"Will in the World" by Stephen Greenblatt. It's been on my "to be read" shelf for a while now, but i've never gotten around to it.

Tag: Will, Trevor, Ginger, Travis, and GDawney. And any of your booklovers who wants to jump in.

An Open Letter to the "Rock Star: Supernova" Voters

Dear Fellow "Rock Star" Fans,

What kind of crazy crackpipe have you been hitting?

How is it possible that Zayra was not in the bottom three AGAIN? I mean, I understand. I liked her bizarre Bowie too. But really? She's that popular?

I think even the band's a little surprised that she wasn't in the bottom three. Yet Ryan, who's been getting better each week (even if he still hasn't learned how to smile), somehow slides into the bottom three. If anything, Patrice should probably have been there instead.

I don't understand you people. It's almost like you want Zayra to win. And that troubles me.

No rock horns for you,



The encores--two this week--went to neither of the people I expected. I did say that Lukas deserved credit, but I didn't realize the band liked his performance enough to give him the encore. Good on him. But then the second going to Magni--didn't see that coming, but I'm down with it.

Well, I was half-right. The double-elimination was finally brought out, to the "surprise" of everyone involved. Yeah, we're so shocked. Ahem.

And Silly Jilly and Josh the Soul Man are gone. Hooray for the first part, and a little "boo" on the second. I feel bad for Josh, but I really appreciate that he had a sense of humor about it. For those of you who missed it, the band announced that the surviving contestants are going with them to Vegas this week via private jet. When Josh was eliminated, and asked if he had anything to say, he said, "Wait, so does this mean I'm not going to Vegas with you?" When the audience laughed, he turned to them in mock-anger and said, "Quit laughing--don't you realize I just got kicked off? Come on!"

One definitely cool thing about this group of contestants was how graciously the eliminated rockers accepted their defeat. I mean, I've been kinda surprised by how cool some of them have been about it. Very mature. Good for them.

So anyway. Now there are eight. Who's gonna win? Two or three weeks ago, I would have said that Dilana would win and Lukas should win. Now, I'm starting to see shifts in the running, and Ryan and Magni are sweeping up the standings. It could be a four-horse race. And that will make for some interesting viewing.

Rock horns up [\m/],


For you indie music kids.

So, if I said to you, "Hey, 'you,' how would you like to listen to an album that included tracks by Coldplay, Cary Brothers, Imogen Heap, Rachael Yamagata, Remy Zero, Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann, Amos Lee, Rufus Wainwright, Josh Radin, Snow Patrol, and others?"

What's that? You'd be interested?

Well, how about the soundtrack to Zach Braff's new film "The Last Kiss"? (Click on the picture of Zach.)

Mmmmm. Tasty.

Things have gotten a little too loose around here...

Time to put some people on notice.

You've been warned.

[h-t: shipbrook, via pop candy]

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Brief Rockstar Observation (UPDATED WITH PREDICTIONS)

Something's bugged me about this season. Like something's been missing, or something doesn't quite fit. Well, I realized what it was when Toby brought out the megaphone.

These contestants can't get out from under the shadows of J.D. Fortune and Marty Casey.

Those two were so incredibly good last year that any comparison this year leaves the newbies looking weak. This is especially true when they are given songs to perform that J. D. and Marty performed before ("Paint It Black," "Take Me Out").

Anyway. I'll add more commentary later, including my picks for encore and bottom-three, but I've got too much to do right now.

UPDATE: Gotta do this quickly, cuz Blogger is being all screwy.

Best performance of last night? Gosh. There were actually several. Everyone is finally stepping up their game.

Well, *almost* everyone.

Encore: As much as I dearly love my Storm, and I also really want to give Lukas some credit for actually following Jason's advice, the best performance came from...Toby. Yes, even with the megaphone. Toby brought it, and it was FUN. And I could tell that HE had fun. I hope he gets some love and the coveted "encore." However, my gut tells me that the Dilana-lovefest will continue, and she'll get pulled up again. Bogus. She's a crappy songwriter, too.

My Bottom Three: Surprisingly easy.

Zayra: You deserve to leave. Yeah, I dig what you do, in some strange way. And even though I can't understand a dadgum word you say most of the time, I like that you're blazing your own trail. But that trail does NOT head in Supernova's direction. Take Dave Navarro's advice, and go solo. Starting TOMORROW. I promise, you can wear all the nutty outfits you want.

Jill: You are just lost as a goose, darlin. You don't know which way is up, and all of your musical choices are bad. Singing when you should be screaming, screaming when you should be singing. Telling Gilby he isn't used to playing with women, and then the next night claiming that one of his first bands was your "favorite." You're a poser, hun. Buh-bye.

Josh: Dude, you're a sweet kid with a great voice. You have a really solid future in the Gavin-Degraw/Jason-Mraz/Maroon-5 genre. But soul or no soul, you have to rock at least SOMEWHAT to keep up with Supernova. And you just don't, bruddah. Much love and respect, though, because I dig your sound very much. Just, with some tinkly piano--not Jason Newsted's "crushing" bass.

Who Will Get a Pass: Patrice will slide by without landing in the bottom three. She wasted an opportunity to rock with the Lennon song, though. I still have to give her HUGE credit for pulling out Jeff Buckley last Wednesday, though. Totally respect that.

And in the bottom three, there is a *slight* chance that Josh may live to croon another day.

Who Will Get the Axe: It's about time that they break out the double-elimination. It's well on toward time for it. And Jill and Zayra need to both leave. There is no possible way that Supernova can look themselves in the mirror and say, "There is a chance that Zayra or Jill are right for our band." If they can, if they feel that way, then they're lying to themselves.

If only one goes, I hope (and it should be) Jill. No, really. At least Zayra somewhat amuses me. Jill bores me.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tuesday Linky-love

FINE. I'll resume regular blogging. Starting... now.
  • Joe Carter recycles some cool links he'd blogged before.
  • Speaking of recycled links, I still can't get over the ukelele playing.
  • And, here's an oldie but a goodie: the infamous Church Sign Generator. Go nuts.
  • Send a personalized message from Samuel L. Jackson? See, now THIS is why the Internets was invented.
  • While not nearly as funny as Weird Al's version, another James Blunt parody couldn't hurt.
  • Really, I'm just linking this because it features a certain formidable Cubs pitcher.
  • The Spiderman 3 3-D poster? Categorically, "teh awesome."
  • Best Lollapalooza clip I've seen so far: the Raconteurs cover Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy." Is there anything Jack White can't do?
  • Second Best Lollapalooza clip: Wayne's inflateable Space Bubble. Is there anything Wayne Coyne won't do? [h-t: both Lolla clips from Whitney at Pop Candy--where else?]
  • Reason #734859 why the Internets is the greatest invention in the history of time: Where else can you find a compendium of pictures of rabbits yawning? [h-t: TV oracle Ausiello]
  • If you love ripping on CCM as much as I do, you'll feel right at home here. It's all about the love/hate, folks.
  • My birthday wishlist just got a little bit longer. (Okay, really, just that last one. 3X, please!) [h-t: Wizbang Pop!]
  • IMonk issues a challenge about why he thinks Mark Driscoll bothers some believers. I have to confess: after reading some of his writings and hearing audio of him speaking, Mark Driscoll really doesn't bother me at all. In fact, a lot of what he's saying makes sense to me. Now, I understand that this admission means I may have to forfeit my SBC membership card (laminated and gold-accented, even!), but Driscoll has a lot of really good ideas about where the Church is headed and what it needs to do to keep doing the work it's called to. As a church leader he's still a little rough around the edges. But he's also authentic and humble, traits not often found among church leaders. And I respond to that. But that's just me. (By the way, if you don't know who Driscoll is, don't sweat it. I didn't until a few weeks ago.)
  • And finally, I leave you with one simple word.

Monday, August 07, 2006

"ensemble station"

in the hollowed husk of what
was once a shopping center
lived a few dozen wayfaring strangers,
gathering their second-hand wastebin belongings
around themselves like castoff crows' nests
scattered around the burn-barrels that
provided heat against the occasional cold gust
of midnight wind that pierced the Texas dark.

i would see them from my window as
the train passed, shrieking and clanging.
from behind the safety of glass and metal,
i peered into their makeshift den, as they
lay still in the shade of the hundred-degree afternoon,
unable to cool themselves otherwise.

one day, as we made the usual intermediary stop
along my route from one job to another,
i looked for the old building, for the people
perched over piles of old clothes and newspapers,
faces haggard and cracked like the picture of the
Dust Bowl family that was put in my grade-school
history book to show me what poor people looked like.

in the spot where the building once stood sentinel
lay a twisted pile of steel and drywall, torn
asunder by a yellow crane, scooping away portions of
the heap and clearing the path for the trucks to come
and haul away the wreckage, mauling with claws extended
the cracked and chipped exterior of the formerly occupied

two days ago, i passed the spot again, and there was
only dirt and the odd pile of gravel and twisted metal. i don't see
any signs to indicate why the building was demolished or
what is destined to take its place. it may simply be left a
vacant lot, and the owners just wanted to clear away the
"rubbish" and "waste," if you catch their nodding implication.
"Property values," you know. No one wants an "eyesore" on
their commute to the office.

i wonder where the former tenants scattered to, or if
they were simply swept up into the dumptrucks with the
debris left by the bulldozer's hungry teeth.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


1) The Cubs traded Greg Maddux and Todd Walker for a young shortstop in a post-surgery year and a minor-league pitcher. In a word: Boo.

2) Who will play the Joker in the "Batman Begins" sequel, "The Dark Knight"? Why, our favorite young Aussie, Heath Ledger.

3) USA Today ran a pretty long and interesting article about teen "fight clubs" that are springing up in some small (and a few large) towns. Most entertaining is Chuck Palahniuk's quote: "God bless these kids. I hope they're having a great time. I don't think they'd be doing it if they weren't having a great time." No morbid sense of responsibility for inspiring it, there. Good on ya, Chuck.

4) Currently reading (and HIGHLY recommending): The Dante Club, by Matthew Pearl. Must-read for all lit-geeks and fans of American literature and poetry. A murder mystery set in post-Civil-War Boston, involving grisly crimes. The only ones who can stop them? The renowned poets and publisher who realize what is inspiring them. Of course, as soon as I finish this novel, I feel compelled to read the entirety of the source material.

5) Movie Recommendation: "The Second Chance." Yes, it's a Christian movie. Yes, it stars Michael W. Smith. But it has a lot of really important things to say about the American church. And it was directed by Steve Taylor, man! You gotta love Steve Taylor.

I may be a lover, but I ain't no dancer.

The dominant theme in my life right now is "cluttered." Chaotic. Jumbled. I'll spare you the ten-paragraph whining that I built my reputation on, because you don't need that and neither do I. Suffice to say, I've taken on some new responsibilities and elements to my life and my schedule, and I haven't really made the adjustment well. I am constantly behind in my obligations, and I don't like that feeling. Things are getting left undone and undone and still undone.

So, for the time being, PBB is going on temporary hiatus (after today), until I can get all my wayward ducks in a row. I don't know how long that will take--maybe a week, maybe a little longer. It will depend as much on how long it takes before I can't stand not talking to you lovely folks. ("I'm not an addict, it's cool...") This may also mean no Rock Star recap this week or next. (Okay, maybe I'll do that on Friday or something.) But when I come back, I'll have links to share and stories to tell and things to complain about, just like always.

But I need to get back to the business of being an adult and taking care of things. Of beating back the chaos that's started to creep into my daily life, and restoring order. So, for those of you who pray, if you could pray for me to get back on track and organized and self-controlled, I'd appreciate it.

Once things aren't so helter-skelter, I'll be back to burn up more internet space and brain cells, and the two or three of you who will still be around at that point will again have something to do for ten minutes a day at work.

Until then, peace and grace. --TD