Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving Break

Barring any late-breaking news, the kind that stirs me to rant (rationally or hyperbolically), I'll have to take the week of Thanksgiving off. I'll probably be back the first week of December.

In any case, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! By the time I write here again, Hillary Clinton will probably accept her selection as Barack Obama's Secretary of State, and we'll also hear about the nominees of other cabinet positions. The President-elect will have several Secretaries-select by December.

Obama's adaptation of Lincoln's Team of Rivals just might work, but we'll know for sure come late January. My advice for all the nervous hard-line Republicans who fear the new administration, especially the ones who already call for Obama's impeachment: They make pills for anxiety, you know.

In any case, eat lots of turkey (or fake turkey, if that's your thing) and mashed potatoes and wine and pumpkin pie and whatever else edible on the dinner table. If you are in a region of the world that doesn't celebrate a Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday, try it.

Just wear comfortable pants.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Double Your Shares at Half the Price!

Seriously, the economy is in the dumps, and everyone knows it, but few dare to plan ahead for a potential future turnaround. I recently set several limit orders to double the companies for which I am still optimistic, thinking that I lowballed the numbers - maybe it would bottom at those levels in a few weeks.

Within two days, I essentially doubled my portfolio because the market dipped that dramatically. I hope that this is the bottom, but if it isn't, I'm lowballing my limit orders again.

My advice to people is to secure food and shelter for you and those for whom you are responsible...then take some risks that may be foolhardy to many but calculated to you.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

21st Century Proverb for November 20th

In a world where everybody's business is everybody's business, let your individuality shine.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Aliens Acquire Human Technology and Have a Good Laugh in the Process

An astronaut lost her tool bag while on a space walk mission. While realistic thinking probably says that the bag will eventually burn up on a return trip to Earth's atmosphere, I'd like to think the bag eventually makes its way to a far region of the universe, along with some broadcast waves. I'd like to think one of the tools in the bag is some sort of gadget you can get from an infomercial. I'd like to believe that in a few million years, an alien in gets a broadcast signal of an infomercial for the aforementioned gadget, fall in love with said gadget, and have that gadget - still in tip top condition due to the vacuum of space - miraculously fall near the alien.

And then the alien would believe in miracles.



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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Trinkets for Rich Folk

This $200 watch by Tokyo Flash is great if you want to think of time as an abacus machine, or if you want to look stylish as a Predator alien with a self-destruct weapon.


This $1000 speaker system by Harmon Kardon will only "work" with an equally frivolous-looking sound system and/or computer. The speakers system most likely creates awesome quality sound, but unless it also doubles as a Scotch decanter and/or elderly person's candy jar - it's useless.


Speaking of frivolous computers, as great as Apple products are (disclosure: I own some stock in Apple, currently the value of a couple hairs on Steve Jobs' ass...literally) the $1200+ Macbook Air is basically a ridiculously-priced Netbook. There's only one USB port and a whole lot of half-assed features, so you won't use this for Final Cut Pro, that's for sure (unless you're some sort of conceptual artist and the Macbook Air is one of the limits you placed on yourself for a certain project).

Paired together, both the speakers and Macbook Air look quite nice. The owner, however, could potentially be a gigantic douche - that is, if he/she doesn't do anything good to counterbalance the douchiness.

If you're in the market for Netbooks, save the $1200 and instead go for the $400 One Laptop per Child XO Laptop (Give a Laptop, Get a Laptop) - you get one and they send one to a kid in a developing country, for his/her education. Plus, the operating system is an open-source Linux build, badass in the same way the Apple OS was badass in 1990s. Now the OS X's spinning wheel of death (or as I call it, the Wheel of Misfortune) is just as annoying as the Windows hourglass (disclosure: I also own some stock in Microsoft, which in this economy is the equivalent of Bill Gates' - what's more disturbing than ass hair?).

Anyhow, now you know my wishlist for Christmas. Get crackin', people!

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con

Late Sunday night/early Monday morning programming is apparently full of syndicated science fiction TV shows. Well, I knew that already and you knew that already, but since I have nothing to blog about, I think I'll just ramble (in run-on sentences). Anyhow, I watched a Stargate episode (the Stargate without MacGuyver) where clones of the main characters eventually figured out they were clones and met the originals of the main characters. Something like that. Anyhow, the clones got themselves blown up in the end to save the originals. It was funny.

Right after, there was an episode of Stargate (the one with MacGuyver) where MacGuyver and the dude with the stamp on his head realize that they were in some sort of time loop like Groundhog Day. It ended with an afterschool special moral of the story with an apparently alien humanoid Indiana Jones guy weeping. It was funnier.

I flipped on over to public television, and they had Doctor Who - the crazy Doctor with the short hair and leather jacket. I think I blogged about that Doctor's series last year. Anyhow, this episode had the Doctor and his companions in some sort of dystopian Earth satellite that produced deadly British reality TV shows - The Weakest Link, Big Brother, and stuff like that. Anyway, one of the Doctor's friends pulled out a little laser gun from his rectum and destroyed some fembots. I think it ended with a cliff hanger. While I had not seen that particular episode, I believe I saw one they'll show next week - so I think I know what happens. The leather jacket Doctor becomes the current Doctor actor. Good times.

I guess I'll have to wait a full week before I see some more sci-fi yarn on late night TV. Will I see Luke Perry as some sort of Mad Max character beyond Thunderdome? Or will it be the geeky kid from The Breakfast Club as a trivial psychic?

Maybe I'll just wait eight weeks and make it a bi-monthly thing. Or is it bi-monthly, as in every two weeks? Semi-monthly? I can never figure that out.

After watching three hours of science fiction television, I think tonight's dreams will be quite the adventure.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

SoCal Is on Fire

I guess it's that time of year in the Greater Los Angeles Area, with the dry conditions and the unforgiving wind. There's fire to the north of the city, the southeast of the city, and who knows where else. It's darkly appropriate to embed the Bad Religion song "Los Angeles Is Burning" in this post:



I hope that the firefighters on all fronts are safe and are fighting a winning fight against the flames.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Review: Smashing Pumpkins "If All Goes Wrong" (DVD)

The Smashing Pumpkins, like Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead before them, is an iconic '90s band without a major record label behind them. In other words, they are free to record, release, and promote themselves however they like. In this case, they recently released a two-DVD music documentary/concert video called If All Goes Wrong.

The first disc is the documentary If All Goes Wrong, which chronicles the reconstituted Pumpkins throughout their two residency stints in Asheville, North Carolina, and San Francisco, California. We get to see the two remaining original Pumpkins - Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin - come together with their new bandmates - Jeff Schroeder (guitar), Ginger Reyes (bass/vocals), and Lisa Harriton (keyboards/vocals).

We are also treated to a handful of sequences involving Billy Corgan's relationship with his personal assistant. One of my personal goals in life as of watching this DVD is to hire a personal assistant to "abuse," too.

I don't quite recall much info on the new bass player Ginger Reyes in the doc, but she's definitely closer to Jeff Ament in talent than D'Arcy Wretzky. I got more memorable information when it came to keyboardist Lisa Harriton, as she was a jazz musician who suddenly found herself in the realm of rock and roll - much like her bandmate/employer Jimmy Chamberlin. Jeff "Shredder" Schroeder showed that he's closer to being a second Billy Corgan than merely James Iha's replacement.

Having two Billy Corgans in the band - that is to say, two virtually virtuoso guitarists of a certain style - might ultimately disqualify Schroeder from recording with the band anytime soon. While James Iha compensated his lack of "fluid" skill with more "angular" elements (the Whammy pedal in "Zero," the EBow in "Stand Inside Your Love," and a Laser Tag gun in live performances), we will have to see if Billy Corgan will allow someone else to record something that he himself would do anyway.

That said, Jeff's meltdown and guitar throwing episode was an enjoyable sequence in the documentary.

Returning drummer Jimmy Chamberlin showed that he's been Mr. Consistency ever since returning to Billy Corgan's favor in early 1999. (He was fired from the band for drug abuse the previous two-plus years.) Where once an erratic drug abuser, the sober Chamberlin is the rock of the rock band. It's a shame there isn't more Jimmy in this movie. The Adore album aside, Jimmy has always been second banana to Billy (a close and essential second, mind you) in the recording studio, but has always been portrayed as third or fourth banana in the media (behind James and D'Arcy). With this new band, he's definitely the co-pilot...banana...in the band.

Much of the doc's storyline is the progression of Corgan writing songs in his hotel room, wearing a slightly disturbing nightgown (if we weren't talking about Corgan here) and trying them out in concert. There's also a bit of tricky navigating on Corgan, Chamberlin, et al., concerning being a new band with new songs and being a re-constituted old band with classic songs - and what the fans want to hear. Hint: It's the latter.

The best sequence in the documentary involves Billy Corgan openly talking about the songs "Soma" and "Mayonaise," and the songs' co-writer James Iha. Corgan's lament that Iha gets all the credit for those songs and subsequent quasi-tantrum are worth the price of admission alone (about $17). Iha gets the credit because he has so few credits in the Pumpkins' catalog, and he started the chain of events that ultimately led to "Soma" and "Mayonaise." Without Iha's B-E-G progression in "Soma," Corgan couldn't have arranged the Pumpkins' closest attempt to having their own "Stairway to Heaven." Without Iha screwing around with alternate tunings to play uniquely-voiced Bbsus2-Gm-Eb chords, there would be no "Mayonaise." It's causality, Mr. Corgan.

My advice (pardon the pun, if you get the in-joke) to Corgan: Try your damnedest to bury the hatchet with your former bandmates. At the very least, take a hint from your pal Paris Hilton and become James' frenemy and D'Arcy's frenemy and be nicer to second bassist Melissa Auf der Mar. If the Pumpkins are in New York City, invite James Iha on stage for "Soma" or "Mayonaise" or "I Am One" (even if it is Jimmy's song due to the kick ass drum intro) or "Plume" or "Farewell and Goodnight" or even "Bugg Superstar" (RIP Bugg the dog). If the Pumpkins are in Texas or Michigan, track down D'Arcy and do vocals on "Daydream" or "Beautiful" or Blondie's "Dreaming" or "Farewell and Goodnight." You really don't have to let her play the bass again. But be sure to have Melissa Auf der Maur on bass for some Machina-era material in Montreal.

If you do that, Billy, everyone will get off your back. Guaranteed. If you're in the mood to forgive the past's ills, please incorporate the Zwan song "Mary Star of the Sea" to the Pumpkins' repertoire. It's an epic in the league of "Porcelina" and "Starla." Jimmy also gets performance royalties for the song, since he wrote part of it too.

Anyway, the second disc is the concert video The Fillmore Residency. It's a good introduction to the newer songs, some rearrangements of Machina-era songs, and sparse appearances by good oldies. "Starla" is one of the highlights from the compilation:



While the first few minutes of the penultimate song "Gossamer" are awesome, the song drags around the last twenty or so minutes of the jam. The musicians are obviously having fun doing what they're doing - there's even a section where it's only newbies Jeff, Ginger, and Lisa jamming - but I wanted to take a nap during the tedium. After that, however, we are treated with both Billy and Jimmy playing acoustic guitars for the finale "Zeitgeist":



It's good to see a guy named James (in this case, Jimmy) playing guitar alongside Billy.

My complaint of the concert video, other than "Gossamer," is the over-editing of the footage. There's too much reliance on making the performance more like a music video - with shots "enhanced" by post-production effects - than making the performance look like a concert. I'd take a moderately-edited Pearl Jam concert video any day. The rehearsal video bonus feature, "Live from the Floor of the Fillmore," is moderately better in terms of post-production evenhandedness.

Anyway, I wish one of my favorite bands the best of luck in their renewed era. Even with all the reported drama of Billy Corgan antagonizing the audience (and vice versa), which borders on pro wrestling (of which Corgan is a fan), and the reportedly lackluster 20th anniversary shows, I hope to see the new band one day. Unfortunately, in this economy, all I can afford is a two-disc DVD set.

Close enough, for now.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Blurbs

As of two days ago, the Jimi Hendrix Experience is jamming in the hereafter. RIP Mitch Mitchell. Mitch was to Jimi, as Jimmy Chamberlin is to Billy Corgan - both initially fish-out-of-water jazz drummers in the scope of rock music (and the fact that Jimi played the "Pumpkin chord" first).



Speaking of the Smashing Pumpkins, I'm going to review their music documentary If All Goes Wrong in the near future. I have yet to watch the second disc.

The RNC threw their former nominee John McCain under the bus. No, not the Straight Talk Express, as the GOP has yet to remember what that means exactly.

I am totally digging Amazon.com's MP3 Album Deal of the Day. In the MP3 top seller's list, one of the top three or so is the current deal of the day, or a briefly lingering deal from yesterday. Albums are usually on sale at about $1.99 - so if there are at least three good songs there, it's a definite deal.

That's all for today.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wii(s) Are Everywhere

The Good: The previously-rare Wii is virtually everywhere the pre-holiday season, even at Amazon.com.

The Bad: All the Internet price-gougers who bought several Wii consoles the previous couple of years (not me!) can't make a ridiculous profit on their horded inventory. Even still, hording goods was possibly still a better idea than buying stock (I'm in the latter category, unfortunately).

The Moot: ...unfortunately, in this economy, who (other than the über-wealthy and the somewhat foolish money-wise) can afford these things? Besides, the Wii Fit is the hard-to-find Nintendo item. (Speaking of Nintendo, full disclosure: According to my portfolio, I own some of Mario and Luigi. Unfortunately...)

The Obvious: I had nothing much to write today (see yesterday's post for the same).

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"The Onion" May Have a Point

I could rant about the next big corporate bailout, but I think we're going have plenty of time to do that over the next two years, with all the possible remedies (successful and unsuccessful) for what ails the American economy.

Right now we can only speculate what our President-elect will be able to do. As for our current Pres, he's a lame duck who's slowly endearing himself to the populace by being friendly with Obama and admitting (somewhat) to screwing up (somewhat) during the past eight years.

The parody publication The Onion might be onto something, in their satirical report about Obama supporters with nothing to do anymore these days:


Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are


It rings true for me at this moment as far as blogging is concerned, as I can't quite think of what to write about, exactly. File this under writer's block, I suppose.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day

Today is the day we remember our soldiers and sailors, those who fought and died, and those who fought and survived. We honor our heroes. We honor those who used their muskets to throw out monarchical tyrants. We honor those who fought and killed their own kin to keep the country together. We honor those who traveled abroad to destroy totalitarian fascism. We honor those who kept the uneasy "peace" and were ready at a moment's notice in a "cold" war. We honor those who currently seek justice/retribution toward the terrorist organization(s) who have done harm to the United States of America. We honor those who unconditionally fulfill their oath to the Constitution and their Commander-in-Chief, regardless of the politics behind the orders.

In other words, thank you.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

"Élan Vital" Soundtrack, via Podcast at mutuni.com

I finally released virtually all the music recorded for Mutiny Universe's production Élan Vital.

If you check the mutuni podcast feed, most (if not all) tracks from the album are listed and ready to be downloaded. To prevent any plot spoilers, I uploaded the songs in alphabetical order (or listed in reverse alphabetical order on the feed page).

You can read little blurbs about each track at mutuni.com. By Friday, all the soundtrack music should be there.

DeRamos Music will probably re-release the entire album, with bonus tracks, in the correct order, sometime in the new year. Obviously, the next release of the album will not have the "mutuni on the Web m-u-t-u-n-i dot com" station identification tag.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Election Was a Long Con / Heist Film All Along!

Check out last week's episode of South Park, Played It Perfectly. It's incredible how an episode of South Park can roughly take three workdays to complete (so I've heard), yet be so well-written.

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Note to "Extreme" Right-wing Media: Be Funny, Not Bitter

Let's go down pop culture's one-dimensional political spectrum of reactions to President-elect Obama's victory on Tuesday:

On the far left - commies, hippies, and anarchists alike - they probably think Obama's a lightweight.

At the center-left and center-center, about 52% of the popular vote, they - WE - are still feeling the buzz from Tuesday. Like the right kind of liquor at the right moment, there's little to no hangover (so far).

Like the reborn real John McCain, the center-right is gracious in defeat.

On the far right, whoa. I hope these bloggers and talking heads are just letting it all out for the next two months so they can constructively move forward. The First Amendment generally gives room for condemning the will of the people (without violence), speculating how Marxist/Islamic our President-elect is (various court cases give a green light to some defamation directed at public personalities), Facebook groups that call for the firing of the guy who hasn't punched into work yet (impeach Obama!), and other forms of vitriol. Please let it out, and come January 20th, let the real critiquing of real issues begin.

Better yet, instead of using all this time to pour speculative hate, why not hone that long-lost art of right-wing humor (that's actually funny)? Now that the center-left is going to be in power next year, Jon Stewart, et al., won't be as funny as they were before the 4th of November. It's time for the center-right - and dare I hope, the far right? - to be satirical, spot on, and most importantly - hilarious.

Keep in mind that no one part of the spectrum can truly claim South Park's humor as their own (other than the creators and writers).

Let's move on to politics in two dimensions:

I can definitely picture some fiscally conservative humor, given the new government's task of managing the old government's economic woes. Small government conservatives were largely ignored on the national stage these past two months (Bush, Obama, and McCain all signed up for that bailout!), and possibly these past eight years. Bring on the funny, economists! Since I run a couple of small businesses and have a formerly-decent portfolio, I might laugh along with your parody and your slapstick! Fiscally conservative humor might speak to me. Three words: Alex P. Keaton. Okay, those were two words and one initial.

Call me politically unimaginative, but I can't see social conservatives tickle my funny bone. (Nor would they want to, given the not-really-but-possibly risqué nature of the previous sentence.) But by all means, fundies and jingos, please try some socially conservative, socially anti-liberal humor. We'll see if the audience laughs, or if this brand of humor is the same kind of bully douchebaggery that got your ilk voted out of political office this time around.

Still, it doesn't hurt to try. (Maybe it will hurt. Who knows?)

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Barack Giveth, Arnold Taketh Away

To be accurate, it's what President-elect Obama proposes to give (to the middle and working classes in California) that Gov. Schwarzenegger proposes to take away (from everyone in California). Seriously, an over 9% sales tax? This gives people an incentive to buy on the Internet, especially those who fail to report their use taxes on their state tax returns. Disclosure: I begrudgingly paid use taxes in the past and will probably do so in the future, so no loophole tax dodging for me! Argh!

Also, Prop 8 (the anti-gay marriage one) passed, so essentially some human persons in California can marry while others just had their right taken away. My tinfoil hat says that Prop 8 provides a precedent to extending the rights of those attaining "personhood," so interspecies marriages would also be illegal in California. It's a sad day for theoretical sapient robots, intelligent aliens, and reptilian humanoids alike - as well as humans...I guess.

Anyhow, that's the state of the State of California. At least I can enjoy the fireworks at the McCain campaign, with staffers throwing Gov. Palin under the rejuvenated Straight Talk Express. If I can acquire a time machine (from my future interstellar wife, of course), I'll be sure to change the 2000 GOP primary.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Jesus Jones, Star Wars, and President-elect Obama

Today I redeemed some "Pepsi Points" on Amazon.com to get the mp3 of the 90s song "Right Here, Right Now," by Jesus Jones. After not hearing the song in a long time, I poked a little fun of its reference of the transition between the 1980s and the 1990s. Then I realized that the song could also be applied to what happened yesterday:



Quickly - someone edit a montage of Election Day footage with this song! You'll get tons of YouTube hits!

Speaking of yesterday's and today's celebrations around this country and around the world for President-elect Obama - the optimism reminds me of the Galactic celebration at the end of Return of the Jedi:



And this was after Lando Calrissian and/or Wedge Antilles blew up the second Death Star. So I found a funny video embedded at Rama's SCREEN, a Funny or Die video with Billy Dee Williams reprising his role as Lando Calrissian:

See more funny videos at Funny or Die


Good times. I can't wait until January 20th, America!

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Joe Biden Made History, Too.

The facts:

1. Joe Biden won Vice President;
2. Joe Biden regained his Senate seat (only to presumably resign in January);
3. Joe Biden is the first Roman Catholic Vice President, and the first Catholic since JFK to be an elected Federal executive;
4. Joe Biden is the first Vice President from Delaware, and I quote Wayne's World:

Wayne Campbell: Or, imagine, being able to be magically whisked away to... Delaware.
[pauses]
Wayne Campbell: Hi. I'm in Delaware.
Not bad for the dude everyone ignored during the campaign.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Congratulations to the United States of America and President-elect Obama

American voters, you did your job and I am very grateful. Congratulations to President-elect Obama for the victory. Let the healing of America begin.

There are still good things to come for Senator McCain. I'm glad that the pre-campaign, pre-Dubya John McCain showed up on Saturday Night Live and appeared intermittently these past few days. I'm sure the original Maverick is here to stay.

Read my entries below for my first live-blogging experience, on Blogger and on Facebook.

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