Wednesday, November 30, 2016

My cat is a jerk and keeps trying to eat my shirt’s buttons

Note to self, try to avoid being home between 3:30 and 4:30 in the afternoon because cats are jerks until they get their food.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Back in the Habit of Destroying Computers, Toilets

About a year ago, dontEATnachos traded me a computer in exchange for some professional services.*  This thing was pretty rad, and considerably better than my jury-rigged old dog from 2008.  I’ve already managed to break the new kid.  Twice.  I shall relate the story of the new kid in rhyme.**

My old dog still had XPpro, and basically worked, if you can excuse the graphics driver pulling shit fits fairly regularly.***  The hdd’s still had space, the graphics rendered at decent enough quality and framerates, and the processor rarely struggled.  My most recent purchase for this computer was Fallout: New Vegas, and that ran fine, even modded.  The problems were that I was getting some signs that the older of the two hdds was sick, and probably on it’s way to the great scrapyard in the sky,**** and that XP was soon to be left behind to history by Microsoft, while remaining in heavy use by damn near everyone.  I was thinking about saving up for a new machine, and at the rate I was being paid, I would have achieved the savings of a decent 2013-2014 machine by 2077.  Just in time to die, like the secondary hard drive.  Incidentally, the dying hard drive has been previously mentioned on this site.   The dying hard drive only holds…stuff, while the still good drive holds music and the OS.  The only important fact is that my music is safe, for now, and that dontEATnachos gave me a cool new computer.

The new kid is neat,
She has three feet.
The new kid plays games,
But not the bad kind of games that involve your feelings. The good kind of games like Dragon Age.
The new kid is light,
Not 780 pounds like this Alienware machine that I still haven’t fixed.
The new kid wears black,
You don’t give a jack.*****

That’s all the rhymes you’ll get out of me.  Back to the interminable saga about how I shouldn’t be allowed to own computers.

dontEATnachos had graciously included Dragon Age: Inquistion (with all DLC), Red Faction: Something, and a couple other games that I didn’t get to try.  The new kid had a better video card with a working driver, and a large pair of hard drives in a RAID.  The only thing the new kid didn’t have was a wireless internet adapter.  I didn’t need this for a while, I kept the new kid safe and secure by not allowing it to connect to the internet, and left my old dog to slowly gather dust as an internet machine.  Eventually, I got bored of switching from one computer to the other to look up information and tips for Dragon Age.  I thought about running a long cord to the router downstairs, but had to give up when I realized that shoving a wire through the gaps in the floorboards was probably not the best idea in case the landlord decided to visit.******  No problem, I’ll just use my wifi dingle dangle from my old dog.

This was the first mistake.  A couple days after installing the wifi dangle’s driver, the new kid crashed on startup without even blue-screening.  Just powered down like I had pulled the plug halfway through start up.   This kept happening with increasing frequency and sometimes the BSoD would flash on the screen for a brief moment. To get past this, I would just reboot the computer and it would usually work.  I might have to unplug the computer and hit the power to empty the cobwebs in the capacitors, but it would usually boot up fine after a crash or two.  After a couple months, I finally got a blue screen that stuck around and was able to write down the error code.

The error code indicated a wireless device driver was the source of the problem.  So I uninstalled the driver, and installed a brand new version of the driver that was only about three weeks old that was supposed to fix this exact problem with W7.  I rebooted the machine after installing, and that was the last time I was able to do anything on the new kid.  The boot process was completely borked and would not complete at all.  I tried a couple tricks, but nothing would work.  I ended up giving the new kid to the trusted IT contractor we use in my office with the specific instructions that he save the data on the drives before doing anything else.

You can guess what the first thing my guy did was.  After wiping the drives and attempting to get W7 to reinstall, he decided that the hard drives had been damaged in all the months of crashing and rebooting and power cycling.  He said that the RAID driver had also become corrupted and that was bad, as dontEATnachos had said it would be if it were to happen.  I only lost a few thousand words of several different stories, the most recent versions of those stories, and the games which were distracting me from those stories.

About five months after I surrendered the new kid to the tender mercies of my guy, he returned to me a working new kid with two new ssds with equivalent storage capacity, W7 Pro, and the full Office suite.  Shortly thereafter, I backed up my stories to the computer, installed ZoneAlarm, Minecraft, Steam, Fallout: New Vegas, the Orange Box, Goat Simulator*******, Fallout, and Fallout 2.  I was happy, I had my computer again, and I had a third safe place to work on and store my stories.  Or so I thought.

With only one month of successful usage and operation under her belt, the new kid crashed shortly after startup one day.  I rebooted and she worked just fine.  Then she crashed after I loaded a save game in Half-Life 2.  I rebooted and she worked just fine.  I thought it was just an oddity.  These incidents were just a hard crash to black when idling in Windows, and involved a video card stutter and total halt during game play.  Then she crashed during startup.  I started seeing blue screens, with a variety of errors.  Nothing seemed consistent, and everything was still plugged in on the inside of the new kid.  After consulting with dontEATnachos and another friendly professional, canadianLUMberjack, I’m guessing that the new kid’s power supply has died.  I’m wondering if the power strip she is plugged into is still good.  There’s a lamp on the same circuit that dims every now and then.  I’m not a forensic electrician, or any sort of electrician, but I’m moving new kid to a different outlet and power strip after I install the new power supply.

I’ll take pictures, I know you’re just dying to see those.

* Barter economy is the best economy.
** No, I won’t. Well, maybe.
*** Save early, save often, vault dwellers.
**** My dusty box of hard drives and other computer parts in the bottom of my closet.
***** Good enough.
****** I shouldn’t have been worried about this, that landlord was a slumlord.
******* Brilliant and ridiculous.  Absolutely wonderful.
******** You’re probably also wondering about the toilets thing, I’ll get pictures of that, too.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Where the fuck is fulsome while all this SCIENCE is happening?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Most Difficult Aspect of Mixes

I am finding it difficult to make a mix, due to both the intended audience and the sheer size of my digital music collection. My theme for the mix is bands associated with my musical experiences in DC, either local bands or those I saw in person. I would love to include at least a song from every band I’ve seen since 2005, when I started attending shows on a regular basis, but a cd can only hold so much. Several of these bands have been fairly popular indie-ish bands like The Fiery Furnaces, and some have been large acts, like The Chemical Brothers and DJ Shadow. I must work on narrowing the scope.

The audience will hopefully find a song or two from familiar bands, but not enough to warrant the use of a track selection button, and an abundance of new bands with which to delight their ears. My theme provides me with a lot of material from some bands, and very little from others. I buy a cd from pretty much every band I see, provided sufficient fundulation, but this means that I do have some albums that I wouldn’t want anyone to hear, including me, and some that just won’t fit within the larger group. This isn’t a compulsion, more of a way of supporting the people involved in entertaining me, like tipping a waiter or bartender.

I recently absorbed a massive amount of music from my brother’s computer when I resurrected it. The fix only required a power supply swap, and now I have this other computer full of his wife’s photos and his music collection. Some friend of his went to town on the computer and uploaded a couple of iPod’s worth of mp3s to the hard drive. Being an opportunistic sort, I made a back up of all of this music onto my music hard drive. The problem here is not the variety of music, nor the ethical dilemma in listening to it, but the sheer volume is making it hard to find the music pertinent to this particular mix.

For clarity’s sake, I haven’t stolen a single mp3 since 2002. Bearshare was fun for a while, but 7 gigs later I had a whole mess of forgettable techno and radio rock. The only songs I download these days are from review sites, like Fluxblog or You Ain’t No Picasso, which I assume have permission to distribute. I suppose that copying the contents of my brother’s hard disk is probably theft, since I haven’t bought those albums. Many of the albums are on my list to own someday, when I am gainfully employed. Listening to music in my library is nice while I am working, but doesn’t work in the living room.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Strange Brew Sunday: New Glarus IIPA`

Since fulsome is completely ignoring all forms of communication, I’ll continue stepping up and slapping him across the face with a suspicious haddock.  The haddock in question this week is New GlarusIIPA.  The flavor and mouthfeel is very similar to a Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, but a little less malty.  At 85 IBUs, it isn’t the most bitter beer I’ve ever had, but it is up there.  The IIPA uses English Maris Otter malt, so that could account for the difference in the malt body.  The hops have a hint of something Belgian, as well as the more usual flavors.  The ABV is 9.75% when bottled, but this, like many New Glarus brews, will condition if stored properly.  I don’t know where it would top out, but if I had a cellar, I would be keeping a couple bottles in a cool, dark place.

Overall Review: Any Given Morning (I would give this the highest recommendation, but the ABV makes it tough to have more than three or four and remain capable of winning an argument.)

Entire Show for Those of You Who Missed It

If you’re in a similar boat as I, or perhaps your boat is in a different ocean, you may have missed this show.  I would rather have been at the show, but shit happens.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Good Time Tunes

While driving from the Middleofnowhere, Iowa, to the Uppermiddleofnowhere, Wisconsin, I wanted to make good time on the roads without risking my life.  I could have downed 75 ounces of coffee and just floored it, but I get jittery after 60 ounces, while also spacing out on extremely productive, but distracting tangents in my internal monologue.  Instead I limited myself to 56 ounces of coffee over several hours, and rotated through my CDs.   Since I know that you are just sweating in anticipation of seeing this list, here it is:

Silver Jews – American Water (Originally recommended to me by a man who will no longer speak to me, but that is what happens to two men with a woman involved.)

The Duhks – Migration (First heard on NPR All Songs Considered {I think, it was a while ago.} and then seen live at Iota.)

Action Painters – Eponymous Album (Seen live as an opener for Olivia Mancini and the Mates, ’80s-esque rock that sounds genuine.)

Architecture in Helsinki – In Case We Die (I should really get their new album {albums?}.)

Old Crow Medicine Show and Various – My Phone (I made an upbeat playlist on my phone, it starts with Cocaine Habit and Tell It to Me by OCMS, and Cocaine Blues by The Man in Black, and then stays at that pace for a while.)

Various Artists – Carondelet (A mix album from an unknown west coast-based blogger, containing everything from The Zutons to The Wrens, with some Canasta, Architecture in Helsinki, and Of Montreal thrown in for giggles.  The music snob who mixed the album helpfully refused to include proper encoding on the tracks, so that those who wished to purchase the respective albums could only do so by listening to every song everywhere to determine the origins.  That’s hipsters for you.)

A lot of the still active bands with sites beyond Myspace have at least one or two free downloads, and I would recommend that you check out the sites except that I am fairly certain that only I and dontEATnachos will ever see this post.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Screw All You Jerks, I Like John Carter

On Viewing: I had no need to justify spending thirty bucks on two 3D tickets to see John Carter.  The movie was fun, funny at times, not overly sappy, and had great action scenes.  The aliens looked cool, the monsters were well done, and you could really see where the money went. The action was fun, the plot worked, and I never felt bored.

Reaction to the Reaction: John Carter‘s box office success, or lack thereof, became a self-fulfilling prophecy.*  People worried about the cost of the m0vie before it debuted, and then flamed it hard when the movie failed to earn back all 250 million dollars in the first weekend.  Unless you happen to be a  studio exec, box office numbers should never determine the quality of a movie.**  Ahem, Titanic, cough.***  People started crowing about how no one was going out to see the movie, and crowds stayed away.  I forget sometimes that people are people, and have this stupid tendency to forget to act as persons.  “If no one else is seeing that movie, then I won’t see it either because if it were good, then people would be paying to see it.”

We’ve seen this before in political reporting.  If a candidate falls behind in fundraising, that becomes the story of the campaign until people are walking away from their preferred candidate because they are being told that candidate isn’t raising enough money.  I’ve seen a similar phenomenon happen in guild recruiting for online games.

I am not a rabid Burroughs fanboy, I would be surprised if that was even a group larger than ten, but I liked this movie.  I have never read the original books, and have been failing to find them for months in used book stores, but I have known of them for years.  I don’t know where I first saw some artist’s vision of Dejah Thoris, but it was probably a Boris Vallejo picture in Dragon Magazine.****

David Denby of the New Yorker spends the first paragraph of his review asking all the wrong questions:

…a battle between two warring cities populated by humanoid figures, the gentle Heliumites and the nasty Zodangans.  Immediately, we’re lost. Who are these people?  Why do the warriors fight with swords while winged battle cruisers, looking like oversized mosquitos, rain down death from above?  Is this an advanced civilization or a primitive one? All right, it’s both, but how do the two fit together?

To use a tired but effective example, I will substitute information for Star Wars and we will see if these questions are valid:

…a battle between two warring political groups populated by humanoid figures, the good Rebels and the evil Imperials.  Immediately, we’re lost. Who are these people? Why do the warriors fight with laser swords while winged battle cruisers, looking like oversized pizza slices, rain down death from above? Is this an advanced civilization or a primitive one? All right, it’s both, but how do the two fit together?

Your review is bad, and you should feel bad, David Denby.  These questions are all answered within the frame of the movie, and you shouldn’t require the plot to be laid out for you in the first two minutes.  Plots unfold, like flowers in spring or a woman’s clothing after a great date.  Yes, on the internet you can see pictures of flowers, and women, and skip ahead to read all the spoilers you want, but that is your choice and the director is not required to lay it all out for you in the first thirty seconds.

One paragraph in the six you wrote reviewing this movie was spent in truly reviewing it.  Your first paragraph asks stupid questions, your second complains about the look of the aliens and being confused about the rather simple war at the center of the plot, your third seems to be a complaint that the film is science fiction and not a lame romantic comedy (Of fucking course the two heroes approach each other warily, they have no reason to trust anyone and every reason to suspect everyone.), your fourth paragraph is a complaint about the source material and the fact that only men seem to like making movies about stuff they liked as children (So fucking what? Maybe movies would be better with Penny Marshall directing a Wonder Woman movie.), your fifth paragraph finally talks about the movie itself, and your final complaint focuses on the fact that the movie may rake in cash overseas like the most recent Pirates of the Caribbean movie.  As much as I want the Pirates movies to go to hell with a quickness, I hope that John Carter does well enough to spite you and everyone else who panned it.  I liked it, and I want to see more.

The Numbers:

$179,300,000 (Worldwide) (19 March2012)

John Carter’s numbers from IMDB.

2. Wrath Of The Titans ($34 million)

[Total: $34 million | WW: $112m | Budget: $250m]


Final Words: John Carter is a fun movie that science fiction fans will be sad that they didn’t see in the theaters, and others will live their lives breathing through their mouths while lining up to see fucking Titanic.  AGAIN.

*There are no other kinds of prophecy, but clarity is paramount.

**If you do happen to be a studio exec, go borrow George Lucas’ rusty pinecone.

***Titanic was the biggest earning, utterly pandering, boringly predictable movie ever made, until Avatar.

****Frank Cho makes no apologies for anything.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Friends With Movies

You have to be careful with friends.  There are friends that help you move, there are friends that help you move on, and there are friends that recommend movies to you.  There are movies you recommend to everyone, there are movies you recommend to people you don’t like, and there are movies that you never admit to having watched, even under extreme torture, like being forced to watch that very movie a second time.  In our wondrous new age of being in constant electronic contact with all of our friends all of the time, you must be even more suspect of other people’s tastes.  This suspicion could rightly be spread to all categories of everything except spouses, because she isn’t getting a divorce just because you don’t like him and never admitted your love for her, move on.

SIT. STAY. Think about the turd you left on the carpet.

A few months ago, I saw that a friend I usually trust on such matters had seen and enjoyed Dylan Dog: Dead of Night.  I had read his words on this movie because he had not written any at the time, he had merely clicked a button on a famous social media site and that button-clicking had been delivered to me through some strange algorithmic alchemy.  I remember my exact thought process upon receiving this information.  “Huh, Randall liked Dylan Dog: Dead of Night.  He is generally circumspect in matters of such import, and wouldn’t like a movie without good reason.  Furthermore, he is not such a huge fan of utter shit as I, and would not like something simply because it was godawful atrocious as I would.  That movie must be better than it looked in its half-hearted media campaign.”

The next evening when the Lovely Lady and I went to the local video rental establishment in the parking lot of a drugstore, I voiced my interest in Dylan Dog while we scrolled through the available selections.  My Lovely Lady agreed that Randall could be trusted with movie recommendations, and we rented the movie.  I will be concise in my review: Randall is on a one year Movie-Recommendation ban.  There are no redeeming facets to this movie.  If it had been made in the 80s, it might have a reason for the crappiness of the effects.  If it were written by an Tourettes Syndrome afflicted autistic child, then it might have a reason for the poorly written dialogue and lame plot.  If I had recently been the unfortunate victim of a terrible accident while putting on my glasses and the junction between the halves of my brain had been severed, I might have been able to forgive my friend for liking this movie.  Dylan Dog: Dead of Night sucked.  I don’t need to delve into all the great, and mediocre, successes that exist in the niche of Supernatural Private Detective subgenre.  Anyone who is inclined to read this site can, or should be able, to name five examples off the top of their clawed appendages.

The mere fact that Dylan Dog is a terrible movie is not why Randall received the year long ban.  It was the fact that he recommended it without comment.  I enjoy and own a number of movies that I will only permit certain people to watch, and only under special circumstances.  In ascending order of restriction three of these movies are: Evil Dead (I will never recommend these movies to my parents), C.H.U.D. (I will never recommend this movie to my brother), and, the crown jewel in the Throne of Ultimate Suck, Demon Wind (I will only recommend this movie to the most astute viewer who proves to me their enjoyment of the worst movies of all time).  Recommending movies is very much like finding presents for people.  There are guaranteed presents like Bond movies, or Spies Like Us, but those are easy movies to recommend.  Finding something that the recommendee will enjoy and always remember that you suggested requires a level of empathy and movie knowledge that goes beyond the box office.

I failed pretty spectacularly in giving my brother a copy of Dead Alive one year for Christmas.  He tried to watch it once, about a year after I gave it to him, and he hated it.  He hated it so much that he kept a smoldering coal of a grudge for several years.  I had described a scene or two, and he had reacted favorably.  I had made a classic mistake.  While Dead Alive has its place on many a shelf, the film does not belong on a shelf that almost exclusively holds Arnold Schwarzenegger movies.  I was trying to force a movie on a person who would never enjoy it.  I had forgotten, or perhaps ignored, in my zeal for this movie, that other people have tastes, justified or not, that do not always jive with mine.  Opinions, assholes, etc.

Our glorious new electronic existence has brought us closer to our friends in some respects, while also showing us just how wide the perceived gulf in opinion can be.  There is little context allowed on many social websites, or if there is, it can often be a hassle to include.  There are many reasons Randall may have selected the Like button.  Perhaps he has some app that allows him to build an online library of his owned movies in reality.  Perhaps he was pranking someone into watching that abysmal movie.  Perhaps he suffered a massive brain injury and genuinely liked that stinking turd.  I shall be more cautious in the future.  Considering the source of all recommendations as I already do, I will also be considering the context in which a film is recommended.  A simple one-click recommendation will not be enough without some corroborating words from the proponent.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Maedgen/Gillet at the Kennedy Center’s Millenium Stage, 1-10-12

I was lucky enough to hear about this concert before the fact, and doubly lucky to make it to the show.  I missed the first half thanks to traffic, but the half I saw was enthralling.  If you don’t have time to watch the video, and you should make time for it, their music was atmospheric and creative, like a Sigur Ros from Belgium by way of New Orleans.

The entire show was recorded and uploaded.

* Full disclosure for a semblance of journalistic integrity, I knew Helen Gillet in college and am not exactly an unbiased reviewer.