Friday, August 31, 2007

Comparative Storytelling II: Jupiter’s Lament

This is a continuation of yesterday's topic, "Comparative Storytelling I."

The Fall of Man, or the End of the Golden Age

Due to the persuasiveness of a talking serpent, Adam and Eve eventually gave into temptation – or curiosity – and ate a fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They disobeyed God’s command and were subsequently expelled from paradise, to live away from the presence of God. Furthermore, man was cursed to labor for his food, i.e., grow plants. Women were also cursed to have painful childbirths.

Although life outside of the Garden of Eden was pretty crummy – thistles, thorns, and clothes – God hinted at some revenge against the serpent, which was punished to slither like a snake. Depending on your theology, this hints at a savior for mankind and a subsequent return to paradise.

After narrowly escaping Saturn’s homicidal paranoia, Zeus (or Jupiter) returned to overthrow his generally good father and the rest of the generally good titans. Thus ended the Golden Age. Humans no longer lived among the gods, as Zeus and most of his pantheon settled in Mount Olympus. Soon after, Hades kidnapped Demeter’s daughter Persephone, who eventually has to spend half the year in the Underworld (to create winter and the cold early spring and the cold late autumn) and half the year with the rest of the gods (to create the warm late spring, summer, and the equally warm early autumn).

Anyway, the humans of the post-Golden Age had a hard time getting food, and they were freezing cold at least half of the time. Out of pity for humanity, one of the surviving titans, Prometheus, tricked Zeus into accepting cattle bones as a proper sacrifice from humans, so humanity can keep the meat for food. Prometheus also smuggled a bit of fire from Mount Olympus and shared the knowledge of fire to humankind. In turn, with food in their bellies and fire for warmth, human civilization began – farms, city-states, and the wheel – all thanks to Uncle Prometheus.

This displeased Zeus, so he punished Prometheus to have his liver eaten and regenerated daily. He also punished the human race by sending Epimetheus, who was Prometheus’ brother, a gift in the form of Pandora, who had a box (no double entendres, please). The Greco-Roman Eve could not resist opening the box, and all sorts of human misery escaped. Afterward, Epimetheus and Pandora had a daughter named Pyrrha, who married Prometheus’ son Deucalion. We’ll meet them again in “Comparative Storytelling IV.”

Several thousand years later, a son of Zeus named Hercules released Prometheus from his punishment.

Typically, the first chapter of any generic world history book talks about how civilization popped up in various fertile parts of the world around 10,000 years ago. Then that generic history book focuses on the Near East, where agriculture was developed in an area dubbed the Fertile Crescent. So begins the Agricultural Revolution.

According to the two and two-thirds Daniel Quinn novels I’ve read so far, this was the moment one culture of Homo sapiens out of thousands decided to leave the hand of the gods and take the knowledge of good and evil – which species lives or dies – into their own hands. This was the beginning of totalitarian agriculture, in which only human food would be allowed to grow, and all other food and other competitors would die.

More importantly, food that was otherwise free to eat in the Garden of Eden and during the Golden Age was no longer free. Food was now a product. Food needed to be guarded and kept by a newly created upper class. In turn, the novel working class had to labor to get access to food. Like post-Eden Adam and Eve, agricultural humanity has to labor for its food, since these agriculturalists no longer live in the hands of the gods.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Comparative Storytelling I

This next miniseries of entries is primarily influenced by my recent re-entry into the world of literacy: Two and two-thirds’ worth of Daniel Quinn novels and schoolbook editor James Baldwin’s compilation of Greek myths. And Sun Tzu’s Art of War, but I doubt that will take precedence for these entries. Working in the background are the influences of several years’ worth of college courses that would have been squandered otherwise, my preadolescent years of absorbing all the knowledge I could find, and of course, more than a quarter century of simply existing within our society.

Anyway, this is just an exercise in looking at the commonality of our stories and our assumptions of human history. Of course, since this is merely a blog entry, I’ll only look at the obvious influences of primarily Western thought – the Judeo-Christian tradition, Greco-Roman mythology, and scientific/historic knowledge – and even that will just be stated in broad strokes. So here goes…

“Pre”-History

According to Judeo-Christian tradition, the first two humans (three if you count Lilith) lived in the Garden of Eden, where they talked to God face-to-face, co-existed with all other life, and ate from virtually every tree in the Garden, except the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, re: God’s command. And as long as Adam and Eve didn’t eat from that particular tree, they would live forever. That’s all in the first couple of chapters in Genesis.

According to Greco-Roman mythology, the titan Cronus, or Saturn, ruled over the entire world during the Golden Age. Humans lived among the gods, there was no disease, and neither was there starvation. The humans of that age never aged, but lived a long time. They died peacefully, and their spirits roamed the earth as teachers and peacemakers for future generations. Greco-Roman mythology is often contradictory (but what tradition isn’t?), but I’ll do my best to weave a coherent simile among the three traditions.

About a couple hundred thousand years ago, before the Agricultural Revolution, virtually all cultures of Homo sapiens were hunters and gatherers. They co-existed with all other life, as they hunted no more than their small egalitarian bands could eat. They gathered fruit and vegetables from the edible plants around them, also in quantities no more than they could eat. Some tribes, depending on their location in the world, practiced gardening and/or animal herding in addition to the standard of foraging, but it was not the (what Daniel Quinn calls) totalitarian agriculture we’ve practiced for the last ten millennia.

Also according to Quinn, the Knowledge of Good and Evil – whether one animal eats (good) or is eaten (evil) – is only shared among the gods, and man was content to leave that decision to the gods. Like all other life, humanity lived in the hand of the gods.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

That's the Way (My Love Is) Music Video

Here's the video for the (revived but not completely reunited) Smashing Pumpkins' latest single, "That's the Way (My Love Is)." I wish they had released another heavy song (like "7 Shades of Black") as their next single, or at least a dynamic song (like "Bring the Light," which I'm told is a de facto single on KROQ). But "That's the Way" is all right, I guess...

That's The Way (My Love Is)

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As you can see it takes place in some slightly steampunk, paleo-future. Speaking of paleo-futures, check out a blog called Paleo-Future.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Social Networking and Approval Rating

On the Mutiny Universe Blog, I've jokingly lamented a handful of times of my tardiness when it comes to following Web trends. Here again is a funny cartoon that probably met its peak of popularity about this time last year:



If you can't see the video, it's a cartoon depicting George W. Bush and Dick Cheney trying to improve their approval ratings by joining MySpace. I like it because it satirizes the current administration with a slightly new angle - Bush 'n Dick as adult teenagers pining for popularity.

Speaking of the current administration, a couple of weeks ago Bush's (and the GOP's) main strategist, Karl Rove, resigned (effective at the end of this month). Just yesterday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales quit amidst the apparent implosion of the lame duck administration.

I guess that means Tim Robbins' adaptation of Phil Ochs' "Here's to the State of Mississippi" is getting less and less relevant, or more validated, depending on your point of view. Here's to the land...!!! Sing it, Ed!

Monday, August 27, 2007

You and Me (and the End of the World)

Back in 2001, I wrote a sweet, folksy love song called "You and Me (and the End of the World)." It was essentially a chorus with a bunch of throwaway verses, but the chorus went like this:

A city boy meets a country girl
You and me and the end of the world
Held hands when the buildings fell
You and me and the end of the world


The inspiration for those lyrics are pretty self-evident, written immediately post-9/11, and the main idea was to replace the words "city" and "country" (and possibly even "boy" and "girl") into something more socially relevant and probably controversial.

It's the right song to toy with passive-agressive interpretations and adaptations, but I could never really execute the song in real life the way I had it in my head. But that's a story for another day and another blog.

So fast forward a couple years, and for some reason the television was tuned into The Tyra Banks Show. I think it was her first season or something. Anyhow, I probably just needed background noise while studying something for college. I don't remember. There was a pop-rock band called Lifehouse on the show, and they played something also entitled "You and Me":



Little did I know (and I didn't notice it at the time of broadcast), a couple of really close friends of mine were in the audience and were in several shots during the show. I'm not going to tell you who and where.

So fast forward a year, maybe a year and a half, and that's when those same close friends told me the story of their experience at The Tyra Banks Show. Evidently, the television producers were being stereotypically producer-like during the course of the taping, and that manipulation of reality didn't reflect what actually happened during the taping...if I remember the telling of it correctly.

So fast forward again another year or so, when I was a guitar teacher at my former high school. A student of mine asked me to help her learn that song, and while I tried my best, I don't think I succeeded as a teacher to help her play that song. But I hear that she found more competent help elsewhere. Ah, such was my life as a pseudo-educator.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Review of "My Ishmael"

If the original book, Ishmael, is the primer, then its sequel My Ishmael must be the shiny, colorful, mind-blowing layer of paint that makes a room...THE ROOM.

I sort of reviewed the first Ishmael book on this blog. My Ishmael is actually the third of Daniel Quinn's "An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit" Trilogy - The Story of B being the second installment - but I had to revisit my gorilla friend before reading the apparently non-gorilla-centric second novel.

The time frame of My Ishmael is concurrent with the time frame of the original novel. We learn that Ishmael, the wise and telepathic gorilla, is the teacher of two students: Alan Lomax, the previously unnamed adult student from the first novel, and Julie Gerchak, a twelve year old that Ishmael initially is hesitant to take as his student. The bulk of the novel is a Socratic dialogue between Ishmael and his young student.

The content of Ishmael's "lesson plan" with Julie is truly eye-opening! Their interaction is much more graceful than Ishmael and Alan's from the first book. Deficiencies from the first book were addressed and resolved, and the new topics - just for Julie - were more novel to me than were Alan's topics, most of which I had picked up prior to reading the first book.

Ishmael's (well, the author Quinn's) insight on "Taker" education - that is, post-agricultural, post-industrial education - is extremely refreshing. The chapters entitled "School Daze" and "School Daze II" are worth the price of admission, and you'll get more on top of that! Whether you've done well or average or poorly in school, after reading those two chapters, you'll feel like a pawn for squandering time that could otherwise be more beneficial to yourself, and by extension, the community of life. At least, I felt like that. It might not be the best feeling in the world to make that sort of discovery, but it's good to know.

I wasn't too impressed with the first book's "story" chapters, for lack of a better term. Ishmael's strength is the (sometimes tedious) dialogue between Ishmael and Alan. My Ishmael's story chapters are far superior.

I'm going to start the second book The Story of B as soon as possible. I'm guessing since we're talking about philosophical novels, and not epic Middle-earth trilogies, it's okay for me to read the first book first, the third book second, and the second book last.

I do recommend reading Ishmael first because it was definitely a primer for My Ishmael. Reading the third book before the first book would actually spoil a lot of "story" details introduced in the first book, anyway. If anything, reading Ishmael is also a good litmus test to see if it's worth your time to read the sequels. If the first book pissed you off, then it would be a good idea to skip the other books, and probably anything by Daniel Quinn isn't for you. And if you enjoyed the first book, then go on to either The Story of B, which I still have to do, or My Ishmael, which I wholeheartedly recommend.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Block Imitates Art

In season 12, episode 15 of The Simpsons, the Simpson family went to LEGOLAND, err...um...Blockoland. The episode was entitled "Hungry, Hungry Homer"...and yes, this was the storyline before the the episode kicks into plot drift mode (you gotta love plot drift):



It was there that Lisa bought an Eiffel Tower kit with missing parts. Anyway, that was in 2001.

In 2007, the real Blocko Corporation (the LEGO Group) released an actual product called Eiffel Tower 1:300. According to their store site:

"Created by popular demand, the LEGO Eiffel Tower is a stunning model for construction and display, built to 1:300 scale from the real tower's original blueprints. From the flag at the top to the elevators and other realistic details, this is as authentic as it gets."

By popular demand, I'm guessing that would be fans of the Blockoland Simpsons episode. Retailing at $199.99, you'd have to be a really big spender to enjoy life imitating art, in toy form. I doubt Lisa Simpson would have the two Benjamins to squander on that particular toy...wouldn't she use it for her saxo-ma-phone? Jazz records, maybe?

I wonder if one was to actually spend the two C-notes for the Eiffel Tower toy, whether the same bricks would be missing from the actual product (like the cartoon). The irony would be magnificient! Of course, the LEGO corporation is known to be good at replacing missing parts, probably without having to give them a Homer souvenir.

It would be cool to have a Homer Simpson snowglobe. I'm not going into blog drift mode...not for this entry, anyway.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Compliment for Us...

This is one of Mutiny Universe's first reviews from strangers. This review is for a music video I directed, for an artist named Peter Chavez, and a song entitled "I Know You Live." This is actually "Version Y" of the video:



It's a very brief review from a user named "El Hierron," but it's straight to the point:



The guy (or gal) wrote, "Video is nice," and although it was a two-star review...I'll take it as a compliment. Of course, the second part of the short review was a criticism of the recording artist, and that shouldn't stop a determined artist from pushing forward anyway. The tone of the critique doesn't seem to be too harsh in tone, and it does pay to listen sometimes to some constructive criticism...

The compliment/criticism blurb isn't that bad. It could be worse. Case in point: There's a scene from the movie Singles, concerning the fake band Citizen Dick, with Matt Dillon's character as the lead singer, with Ed, Jeff, and Stone from Pearl Jam as the band (drums, bass, and guitar...respectively).



In that scene, Ed says to Matt Dillon's character: "A compliment for us, is a compliment for you."

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Banana Cream Twinkies

On ABC's Nightline a couple of months back, they did a news story on an author (whose name escapes me at the moment) who wrote a book about the varied sources of origin for each of the many chemicals and food ingredients that make a Twinkie.

While that was interesting, I believe somewhere during or after that story, there was a bit about the return of the banana cream Twinkie, which was the original flavor before World War II. Well, maybe it was a different story on a different show.

Anyhow, I immediately (at the next reasonable opportunity) went to the local grocery store to buy the new-old Twinkies, but they weren't there...I guess Hostess didn't distribute them to my neck of the woods yet.

And now they are here (wherever I am), two months later. They taste...all right...as they have that sort of generic fake banana taste. You know what I'm talking about. Anyway, it's good to have two choices of Twinkie (well, the third choice would be to not have a Twinkie at all).

You can also file this under: Gluttony.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Happy Birthday

This one's for our cousin Lee. Unfortunately, no one on Youtube posted the "Happy Birthday...I'm sorry" bit from Season 4, Episode 6...but Happy Birthday!!!





And this was the only storyline on Youtube from Season 4, Episode 6 - "The One with the Dirty Girl":





In between all that were the "Happy Birthday...I'm sorry" and "Yes, it is...at Office Max" jokes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Gluttony

It's something else when your friendly neighborhood fast food joint neglects to add the beef patty to four of the ten hamburgers ordered to-go. Maybe that particular establishment - which will remain McNameless (okay, maybe not) - was trying to tell me something.

Of course, according to the Centers for Disease Control, "Since the mid-seventies, the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased sharply for both adults and children. Data from two NHANES surveys show that among adults aged 20–74 years the prevalence of obesity increased from 15.0% (in the 1976–1980 survey) to 32.9% (in the 2003–2004 survey)."

Okay, point taken. To be fair, I have been gradually cutting my calorie intake...and ideally, I should hunt for my animal food source and/or refrain from...eh, who am I kidding? Anyhow...

But seriously, someone working at a hamburger restaurant forgot to put the hamburger patty in the hamburger...not only for one, but FOUR burgers. The simplest answer is probably the correct one, where Employee X made an honest, albeit quadruplicate, mistake. The alternative would be a cost-cutting conspiracy by the proprietors of that McDonald's, but even that's absurd, 'cause we're really talking about the cheap meat they use...not the quarter-pound patty or the third-pound Angus patty or even the premium chicken...not even the cheap meat on the double cheeseburger...I'm talking about four regular cheeseburgers.

So by the time this discrepancy was noticed, it wasn't even worthwhile to drive back and complain at that McDonald's. Again, we're just talking about cheeseburgers with the cheap meat. At least this incident gave me something to write about.



Where's the beef?...indeed.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Invisible Empire

Well, okay...maybe the Blogosphere isn't an invisible empire...but then again, maybe it is. I've been blogging without much purpose since the year 2000. I've manually uploaded journal-esque webpages onto my old AOL and Tripod free websites (which are long gone, I'm sure...?). I think that most Web surfers who blog, blog without any ulterior motive...since they post on their MySpace blog or Xanga or LiveJournal.

But those who take the extra step start to monetize their blog, with advertisement and/or merchant affiliations. DeRamos.org has done just that. At this point in a blogger's blogging "career" is when he or she sees the invisible empire. The Blogosphere, in all its glory and vices.

Like real-life societies, virtual societies (like MySpace and people who play World of Warcraft), and high schools, the Blogosphere has some sort of social hierarchy...in terms of money and power. Yes, money and power...like elsewhere. Famous blogs easily generate substantial income with their traffic. People click on their ads and buy their merch. It's as simple as that...and I'm not even talking about bloggers who are famous on TV (i.e., Perez Hilton). I'm talking about people like John Chow, who I've never heard of until I stumbled upon his site yesterday. Apparently, he makes five figures a month being an Internet entrepreneur. And he's famous as well as infamous in the circle of bloggers. It's the same with Tyler Cruz, who makes his money blogging and flipping URLs like real estate...and I found out about this guy maybe only a month ago.

It's just an eye-opener...the blogging subculture...well, it's actually a global SUPERculture. And yes, I name dropped, hoping that this site will get good placement on a Google search. Search engine optimization (SEO) is another thing, which we'll get to later...or maybe not.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

DeRamos.org's Daily Chord

For the most part, I'm a self-taught musician. When I was about twelve...well, let's get to the beginning...

When I was about seven years old, at the elementary school I attended, I saw a bulletin board with pictures and names of various musical instruments. The word guitar intrigued me...

Around the same time, I discovered an electric guitar my parents bought years beforehand. I strummed it with my left thumb, and the strings gave me the most painful blister ever (a battle scar...callous?...still remains to this day)...that guitar...

When I was about eight years old, I saw a black Fender Stratocaster with a white pickguard and an all-maple neck. Of course, I didn't know it by those terms, but it did know that guitar sure was pretty. I don't know who was playing that model of guitar; in all likelihood it was some generic pop rocker on television.

When I was nine years old, my brother and I once jammed with tennis rackets to some rock music. I played my tennis racket guitar left-handed.

When I was eleven years old, I was playing the air guitar during a music class at the middle school I attended. While I was playing it (the air) left-handed, I noticed a classmate also playing the air guitar - but right-handed. I freaked. It seemed that I was playing the air guitar wrong (which I wasn't, but an 11 year old pretty much can and will perceive things wrongly).

And so I taught myself to play the air guitar - and the tennis racket guitar - right-handed. While a naive attempt to combat my natural sinister tendencies, it was ultimately a wise choice...in terms of economics (right-handed guitars cost less) and opportunity (more kinds of guitars to play).

Fastforward several years, yadda yadda yadda, I opened a blog called DeRamos.org's Daily Chord. It's an ever-changing testament to all the musical knowledge and experience I've gained over the years. And if I can get my brother to contribute to that blog, the expertise will surely be increased exponentially.

Anyhow, the Daily Chord (not affiliated with the SXSW music news also called the Daily Chord) features tips for beginners, those who are relatively intermediate in their musical ability, and those who are recording their music. Okay, blog entries for the recording category is coming soon. For the time being, we're posting guitar lessons, but I envision tips for other instruments as well.

The entries marked for beginners are chords, and simple chords at that - major, minor, 7th, and suspended chords, as well as power chords, for the most part. I don't really discuss the theory behind those chords. Beginners should just play, and get to that level of comfortably playing, mostly unencumbered by the burden of augmented 2nds, major 3rds, suspended 4ths, perfect 5ths, etc. I do introduce the root-fifth relationship in some power chord entries.

I lay all that math and science for the intermediate entries. Notice that there's no advanced label in the Daily Chord. You'd have to go to a bona fide master of music for that sort of arcane knowledge. I am not that sort of wizard. Besides, progressing to that level would probably require some face-to-face lessons, something that a blog cannot accomodate.

And eventually (probably when we're through with the first cycle of the 12 Keys of Western Music), we'll get to the recording tips...because even beginners can benefit from knowing how to record their own compositions and/or songs they are learning.

We'll return to my memoirs - what happened after I learned to play the right-handed air guitar - at a later date.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Little League

This entry is just in time for the Little League World Series. While it's a great tradition, etc. etc., it seems kind of funny whenever there's an adolescent-looking batter facing off against a child-looking pitcher (and vice versa). Both are about the same age, but there's some sort of unevenness in that confrontation.

So maybe there's a small town somewhere, where the water is slightly radioactive, and all the kids reach puberty early (without realizing that they would be awkward in high school). That town's Little League team would probably win the Little League World Series...unless most of the residents of said small town suffered health problems and/or didn't have a baseball club...then the point would be moot.

I don't know why I wrote this entry.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Sites to Check Out

Radio@MU = We're posting a new episode of the podcast today.

Elan Vital Blog = Since post-production for sound has officially begun, I will post some meaty entries on this particular site. I'm in charge of composing the soundtrack and score for this film, as well as sound effects and dialogue editing. That's the work of at least three teams!

The Society of Gloves = The latest episode of the Mutiny Universe podcast contains our latest song, "Who Are Your Friends?" There are several entries documenting the pitfalls and triumphs of recording that particular song.

DeRamos.org's Daily Chord = We'll give you a chord (or some tidbit of useful musical information) every day. Every day.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Also Named DeRamos

Hailing from Brazil and the United Kingdom are two acrobats named De Ramos. You can learn more about the De Ramos Acrobats at Fool's Paradise, and they have a password-protected website at DeRamos.co.uk. Or you can go to DeRamosAcrobats.com as well. Be sure to watch their videos, as they are extremely skilled.

This reminds me of my senior year in high school, when we took a very unscientific personality test to determine the best possible career to pursue. It was funny, if I remember...as I really don't remember much. I believe my friend Chastity's result was being a border patrol agent. (She didn't pursue that possibility, but has a career in a totally different field.) I forget what my other close friends, or anyone around us, got as their potential career.

For me, it was a tie between being an acrobat or a cake decorator. Or maybe it meant that I should pursue being an acrobatic cake decorator. Anyway, at least two people who share my surname are acrobats. Maybe they can decorate a mean cake, too. Who knows...

One of these days, we'll need an extravaganza with the Society of Gloves (my particular band of DeRamos, literally and figuratively) and any and all people of the same surname...as culturally and ethnically diverse as possible, and as unrelated as humanly possible. A music video, perhaps? A big rock 'n roll circus...possibly?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Answered by Two Pumpkins

Billy and Jimmy have answered questions from their "Ask a Pumpkin" Youtube promotion. I haven't gotten to the part where they answer the angry Zeitgeist kid (there's a separate video on Youtube, where he participates in the "Ask a Pumpkin" promotion), and I hope it's there - and it better be funny!



Addendum: They didn't feature the angry Zeitgeist kid after all, which is disappointing, in a sense.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Weekend Update

Nothing says "the weekend" like a Tuesday afternoon. So here's Norm Macdonald on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update from the mid-90s:

Monday, August 13, 2007

Soon Forget

In the live Pearl Jam DVD entitled Live at the Showbox, Eddie received a Telecaster-shaped baritone ukulele for his birthday/Christmas, 2002. Here it is, nearly five years later, in action:



Of course, the Showbox DVD is only available via the Ten Club website, so maybe something like Touring Band 2000 or Live at the Garden might be suitable substitutes, as they are readily available elsewhere.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Grand Forgiveness Society of Glover, Vermont

You try to come up with a band name that no one else has thought of, but the odds are pretty much against you...especially if you start the phrase with "Society of," as there have been several "Societies of" in human history. The Quakers are the Religious Society of Friends, for instance.

I almost thought that the radical puppet show shown in the video player below was called the Grand Forgiveness Society of Glove (as it was entitled on Youtube), but after some research, it seems that the Grand Forgiveness Society is part of the Bread and Puppet Theater of Glover, Vermont.

Anyway, it's pretty rad.



If you have the time, please check out the Society of Gloves blog at Society.DeRamos.org.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Six Years Ago Today

Evidently, the days of the week are as they were in 2001. Six years ago today, I brought my five closest friends (at the time) together for one last hurrah at my house (at the time), just to somewhat re-live the fun we shared in high school. I even videotaped the night on a non-digital camcorder. I used bits and pieces of the footage as gifts to them later on, as much as a gift as a would-be film student (again, at the time) could create. Some of the friendships have still remained intact, while others have drifted apart. I hate stating the obvious here, but it's all a part of the process of growing up...and growing older.

Besides, this was exactly one month before the events of September 11th. Okay, enough of this Wonder Years-like voice-over...

Speaking of the Wonder Years:



That's right. Winnie Cooper is a mathematician. The end.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Hot Pockets

Jim Gaffigan's appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien (circa 2002) nearly killed me. It was so funny, there was a sharp pain in my stomach, and boiling hot tears streamed down my face. (And I laughed, too.)



It's still funny after all these years.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Mr. Leatherback

All right everyone, time to turn the tide...and save the world.



So listen to Mr. Leatherback. He's Stone Gossard's friend.



And everyone who knows Pearl Jam knows that Stone's the boss.

Brains...brains...


http://view.break.com/345028 - Watch more free videos

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Hal Fishman

We'll miss you, Hal!



Word.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

High fly ball into right field...

I remember it like it was, if not like yesterday, then like last week. Still pretty vivid (and I was only seven years old at the time.) Game One of the 1988 World Series (it would have been more dramatic if it was Game Seven...but still dramatic nonetheless). The Oakland A's versus the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers were down by two, with a runner on base. Kirk Gibson, plagued with leg injuries, was at bat. Two outs, three balls, and two strikes. Bottom of the ninth. The iconic voice of Vin Scully. The pitch, and the swing (all upper body strength due to injury).



"High fly ball into right field, she is gone!" See it again:



Kirk Gibson never played in a World Series game for the rest of his career, but this one act of athletic heroism has been ingrained in the memories of countless people. It's the equivalent of Babe Ruth's called shot, in my opinion, for my generation (technically the generation of grownups at the time but it's my memory too).

Now that's great storytelling.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Rockism

(This is a repost from the Society of Gloves' blog.)

According to Wikipedia, "Rockism is an ideology of popular music criticism, coined by Pete Wylie and used extensively in the British music press from the early 1980s[1]. The fundamental tenet of rockism is that some forms of popular music, and some musical artists, are more authentic than others. More specifically, authentic popular music fits the rock and roll paradigm; it is made using the basic rock instrumentation of guitars, bass guitars and drums, and fits the structures of a rock and roll song."

Basically, it goes on to say (or maybe just imply) that multitrack recording was perfected in the 1970s, with great microphones, reel-to-reel tape, and engineers (and producers and musicians) who knew what they were doing. A lot of newer technologies, like synthesizers and Pro Tools (both the program and the generic-use term, like "photoshopping") are under suspicion as to not produce music in the most genuine form. Also according to Wikipedia (in the same article): "Design critic and indie pop musician Nick Currie compared Rockism to the art movement of Stuckism,[2] which holds that artists who do not paint are not artists."

In an ideal world, the Society of Gloves would love to go into a nice studio, with a great sounding drum room and isolation booths ad nauseam, and record with extremely expensive microphones (several, with optimal placement to record vocals, amplifiers, and individual drums, as well as room ambience) to a gigantic mixing board, which records to dollars-per-foot reel-to-reel tape. Throw in some pricey guitars, basses, and drums for good measure. Nice, warm...rock and roll.

Unfortunately, all that stuff takes money, and while a decent publishing/record deal might provide the budget, you'll more often than not lose your rights (and much of the royalties) to that record company. What once was art (in theory) is somehow intertwined with a money-making machine. That's the music industry for you...

However, it is quite fortunate that we can use something like Pro Tools (without protooling) to record good-sounding music. There's some degree of rock ethos in what we - writing on acoustic guitars for good melody and progression, jotting down ideas on paper notebooks and tape recorders, etc.

And when it comes down to it, it is possible to use Pro Tools without excessive protooling, as it is possible to use Photoshop with excessive photoshopping. It's about creating these moments of real musicianship on a (slightly colder) digital medium, without fabricating those moments. And if we can do record some good rock and roll at a rock bottom budget...maybe one day, we'll get to use what the legends used when they recorded their classics.

(Besides, rearranging songs - at the demo stage - is beyond fast using Pro Tools or Garage Band or ACID or Cakewalk, etc.)

Here's to rock and roll! Do the code!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Bring the Light

As I had stated previously, "Bring the Light" is one of the best tracks off new (Halfing) Smashing Pumpkins album Zeitgeist. Since all that's left of their returning fans bought their new album (and touring band manager Gooch - the other cop in the "1979" video - has also returned to the fold), I guess that Zeitgeist has left the top spots on the commercial charts. Anyhow, "Bring the Light" is a great song, and I found a (strange) video with the entire song as the audio track...so enjoy:

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Net Neutrality

(This is a cross-post from the Mutiny Universe Blog.)

As I was browsing through the Internet (actually the links on my Mutiny Universe
biography page), I stumbled onto a link on Pearl Jam's activism page: A website called Rock the Net. Apparently really cool bands 'n stuff are for keeping the Net neutral.

And that reminded me of one of my posts on Mutiny Universe's ill-fated discussion forums, from October 31, 2006:

This may not be the most glamourous of socio-political causes, but if you're reading this RIGHT NOW, this definitely concerns you. (Keep in mind that I do not profess to be an expert on this topic, as I'm still gathering knowledge about it.)

It's called Network Neutrality. Basically, it means that over any given network--in our case, the World Wide Web--there is equal treatment to all sources and all data. It's like a freeway without a carpool lane. Videos, emails, music files, and computer viruses (unfortunately but necessarily) travel the same road at basically the same speed limit (the actual speed to your computer depends on your connection, obviously). In the same way, big websites like Google and Yahoo! must also observe the same speed limit as small websites like Mutiny Universe.

My belief is that Net Neutrality is a GOOD THING. Unlike the real world (location, location, location!), this virtual world is an equal-level marketplace (relatively speaking). It seems that true supply-and-demand, non-monopolistic capitalism flourishes under Net Neutrality. The obvious examples of the little guys becoming the big guys on the Net are Amazon.com, Google, MySpace, and YouTube (which Google bought a couple of weeks ago). Because they had the same opportunity to reach your computer as the already-established, wealthier companies, they had an opportunity to succeed. Opportunity doesn't automatically guarantee success, but they did succeed.

Those in opposition to Net Neutrality cite a concern that a free-for-all Information Highway will lead to perpetual rush-hour traffic. Some in this camp propose that there should be specialized lanes for video, audio, text, etc. Some also suggest that virtual toll roads would decrease congestion. Meaning, websites using these premium roads will load faster onto your computer than others. It is also possible that the non-toll road websites will "time out" on your web browser and never load at all.

The problems with charging a toll for the proposed premium road are obvious. Whoever is in charge of the virtual toll road controls the World Wide Web. Small companies cannot afford the premium as already-established, large corporations, so the playing field becomes analogous to the real world marketplace. There will be no more MySpace-type successes anymore; rather, there will be the same old, same old. Furthermore, the gatekeepers of the toll road (most likely telecommunications corporations--phone and cable companies) get to decide who can use the toll road. They might filter out voices due to political affilitation, ideology, and whatever suits their agenda. Bloggers, some of whom rival CNN and Fox News on the Web, will be silenced--effective censorship--if and when they are barred from the virtual toll road.

Anyway, keep your ear to the ground when it comes to issues like these. And remember to vote. For more information on Net Neutrality, you can go to the most dangerous/fantastic source for community information/disinformation: Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_neutrality). You can probably say bye-bye to the Wikipedia if the gatekeepers have their way.

Cheers...alright,
Ryan

Anyway, I went out on a limb and signed Mutiny Universe up as a supporter of Net Neutrality on Rock the Net (my band, The Society of Gloves, also signed up). As it is, we're still one of the little guys, who like to support our peers (i.e., our podcast)...and Net Neutrality will only serve to help us on our journey.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Soundboard Prank Calls

I stumbled onto these on Youtube, while taking a break from songwriting. At first I found Mr. Rogers prank calls, but they seem a bit inappropriate to post on DeRamos.org. These George W. Bush prank calls, on the other hand...

George W. calling a beer distributor:


George W. calling Democratic Party Headquarters:

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Great Computer Debate Ended

"Mac or PC?" they often wonder. Since both choices refer to personal computers, the humorless and ever-exacting geek would ask, "Apple product or the other guys, running on Microsoft product?"


Macs are cool, I'll give you that. (And they're even cooler when right-click is enabled.)

On the other hand, Windows-based PCs can be inexpensive to buy and to upgrade. (Of course you can buy an expensive PC with everything in it already, but that's for suckas...) There are more parts available that are compatible with your run-of-the-mill IBMs and Sony VAIOs and HP Pavilions (and the cheaper brands, too!), and therefore it will be easier to find a better deal on PC parts than Apple parts.

Then again, XP is alright, but I've heard that Vista is dreadful...as software and peripheral companies are slowly creating drivers to work with Vista. Which is to say, that Vista was coded to be incompatible with stuff everyone already has (or so I've heard).

When I was in college, we had Macs in our film department. At the time, a lot of really good software applicable to the field of study had been created by Apple: Final Cut Pro would be the best example.

Then again, Adobe Premiere is same exact thing, but for Windows computers. And Pro Tools works for both both formats. And so does Photoshop. Is there any other program?

(It seems like Linux supergeek computers are left out. Super kick ass programs like Massive, which generates epic battle scenes, run on Linux PCs. But you need a really kick ass system. Anyhow...)

(And don't get me started with Macs running OS and Windows, and IBM-compatibles running Windows and a hacked OS...because I wouldn't know where to start. I'm not that computer literate, mind you.)

Anyway, once upon a time in our pop culture legendarium, Macs overwhelmingly had programs for creative-types, whereas PCs had the lion's share of cool computer games. I think the gap's closing in between the two, right? A well-built Windows computer works just fine with video editing, multitrack recording, and image enhancement programs. And the only PC games worth playing are compatible with both Mac OS and Windows (Vista not included).

The moral of the story: Choose your computer according to your budget (duh) and needs (double duh)...and abilities. If there's a will, there's a way (cliche, I know)...so if you don't have it in you to innovate within limits (computers or otherwise), then get out.

Then again, personal computers of all brands tend to crap out on you - the crash, the hourglass (Windows), and the wheel of misfortune (Mac OS) - so the solution isn't the personal computer, but the supercomputer:

(Just don't let Solid Snake plant plastic explosives on it...and you should be fine.)

Debate ended. Take that, Warren Cheswick!