Friday, October 31, 2008

Tales of Terror: two favorites

Ah, Hallowe'en, by far my favorite time of year. Autumn leaves and wind, fresh crisp air, and on top of that, the best holiday America has to offer.
To get in the mood, I recommend a good horror story. Dim the lights, settle down in front of your computer, and get ready to be frightened.

I've been reading horror stories for about thirty-four years now, and was pleased to find out via recent googling that two of the stories that stand out from the hundreds I've read are available online. Enjoy, and for more, check out the final link to the Horror Masters online library.

The Troll - by T.H. White

The Upper Berth - by F. Marion Crawford

Horror Masters

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind

This past Sunday, on a very blustery day, my wife Anna found some time for an errand that had been put off too long - picking up our Obama yard sign. She was excited to finally get it (so was I - we've never had a sign for a candidate in our yard, not in sixteen years of living together), and plunked it down in the yard the second she got home. Just in time for trick or treat, she thought to herself, then got into the shower to prepare for work, no doubt with a deserved sense of self-satisfaction. Ten minutes later she went to the bedroom window to look down on the lawn and admire the sign.
It was gone.
The wind had taken it (we can only assume it wasn't theft or vandalism - our neighbor's signs were untouched), leaving only the skeletal wire frame. Moments later I came home and was immediately dispatched to search the neighborhood for it, downwind of course.
Nothing. Not a trace of it.
I've checked: at the time we had a prevailing westerly wind, gusting to 36 mph. Besides the few blocks east of us, there's nothing else there but Lake Michigan. So please, if our sign blew onto the deck of your tugboat or freighter, or perhaps wafted high above the lake for hours before appearing in your yard in Michigan or Indiana, we'd like it back. It's blue.
Until then, the answer is blowin' in the wind.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Homer Street

homer_street_sign_close, originally uploaded by philosaurus.

A modified sign for East Homer Street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin's Bay View neighborhood. This is about two blocks from our old flat. A friend contacted me and recommended I go to this corner as soon as possible -- this is what was waiting for me. A resident raking leaves under the sign told me "some kids put it up in the middle of the night, with a ladder. They did a really good job, actually."
Sorry for the bad quality pic - blame my temperamental Smartphone camera and the sunny day.

By the way, Google's Street View cameras haven't been to this corner yet. Maybe this sign will make it onto Google Maps.

Thanks to throbbingeye for the tip!

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'll always remember this week as the week the country was teetering on the brink of full-goose bozo, all-out screaming insanity.

I am counting the hours until Election Day...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

They Call Me Fa-Breeze

My wife and I have been parents for almost a year, and as we plan a birthday party, I'd like to stop to propose that a new word be added to the English language, first in casual usage, of course, but with luck, to be eventually included in the O.E.D.

That word is SMELLUSION.*

Usage: Though they had barely cleaned the house, the scented carpet spray produced an effective, if temporary, smellusion of cleanliness.

Definition: smellusion (smĕl-lōō-zhən) n. An olfactory impression produced by an air-freshening device or scented spray that cloaks rank and offensive odors. [Deriv. from smell + illusion]

Smell ya later!

*I've checked Google and found three hits. I'd say that's pretty low by web-search standards. And none of the three individuals using it seem to be claiming responsibility for coining it, so I am at least claiming the right to define and promote it.

Update: Five results now. Those robots are busy these days!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mutato Muzika: Diamonds in the Basement

Posted on YouTube by gearwire
"We take a walk through the basement of Mutato Muzika with John Enroth, who shows us vintage synths and other various equipment that Mark Mothersbaugh has picked up over the years. Among other gems, we check out an Electronium with a "Doo Wah" button."

Glorious. Obsession + genius = one hell of a lot of interesting sounds.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Back in the day: Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's decal collection

harley made in milwaukee, originally uploaded by COOP666.

Milwaukee. That's my town. Was born there, lived there a bit, lived in about eleven other places, then back in Milwaukee for awhile, and am now coming up on three years since moving out of the city again. Can't say I feel like it's my home town - but I've never felt I had one of those. It's a natural consequence of moving several times in the first six years of my life, especially since it was between two countries (England and the U.S.).

Now Ed Roth -- in 1975 his influence had spread everywhere - we all had stickers, posters, tshirts, and the water-applied decals like the one pictured. Just Google "Rat Fink" if you're still an outsider on this one. The image above definitely speaks of that style and feel from the 60s and 70s - loud guitars, loud machines, airbrushing, surfing, drugs, gang fights... Well, OK, I was pretty young. Mostly I remember the style of art. And I remember those Harleys from the streets and highways around Milwaukee. Those old, tough, fix-it-yerself-or-walk cycles, almost always ridden by outlaw bikers (in the case of Milwaukee, Outlaws with a capital O, in many cases). Now, of course, Milwaukee and pretty much everywhere else is bike crazy all over again. Then or now, this sticker is one cool and down-dirty chunk of Americana, especially with that great skull logo.

Image: From a gigantic collection of decal art from Roth's collection, posted on flickr by fellow lowbrow artist Coop. Found via the BooBerry Alarmclock. Thanks Billoney!
Warning: um, yeah. It's Roth, and especially, Coop. Look for long enough and you will find something with 'adult' content. Or offensive. You've been warned.

Note: edited post -- misidentified the decal. Roth DID draw this one. I mistakenly thought some of the material at Flickr was simply part of his collection (i.e, of other Kar Kulture folks). All of the decals at the above link are Roth creations.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Food for Thought

Yesterday, cleaning the always-daunting pile of 'current/misc' stuff in my den surfaced a little pamphlet I'd almost forgotten about. A few years ago a good friend of mine printed up a stack of a little folded pamphlet he made called "Food for Thought" that contains quotes about life, the mind, the world, and the sacred. You know: minor topics. Then he carried them around with him for a while, leaving them here and there with no intention other than attempting to set off (or to fan) a little spark in whoever picked them up. There are seven wonderful quotes in this little booklet; here are my two favorites:

The world is like a ride in an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it's very brightly colored and it's very loud and it's fun, for a while.
Some people have been on the ride a long time and they begin to question, is this real or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, 'Hey don't worry. Don't be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride."

What you are, the world is, and without your transformation, there can be no transformation of the world.

Enjoy a bit of wisdom (and fun) from these two divergent, very different, yet both revolutionary and transformative thinkers.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

All the Marbles

Rev. Will Bowen's anti-complaining campaign strikes me as admirable in its earnestness, and a nice whiff of fresh air. I wouldn't take things as far as he does (No sarcasm? Life without Monty Python or Family Guy? Not to mention that creative griping is some folks’ bread and butter?). ....A friend of mine expressed hope that the good father doesn't think we should never complain about the government. I hope so too - certainly it seems that there is such a thing as useful criticism and complaint.

The other kind of complaining, though - whining and moaning about things you can't or won't change – that’s what Rev. Bowen sees (quite rightly, I suspect) as a vice. And if so, this may be added to my list of vices.

So, I kept reading. And I checked out the website where the reverend sells books, stickers, shirts, and even classroom curricula. And the bracelets. The most basic part of the program is a “Complaint Free World” bracelet that you simply move from one wrist to the other when you catch yourself doing one of the habits you are trying to break.

Not a bad idea. Bad habits are often a union of “mental" and "physical" habits - so why not use this to reinforce the learning and break the habits?

As I said, it's one of my vices. It's one of my indulgences, to borrow a term from Castenada. And since my lack of commitment to the full idea would make it hypocritical to actually join the Complaint Free World campaign, I won't, but I am borrowing the idea for my own life (I think copyright law will allow that). Nope, no bracelet for me. It's been many years since I've worn a bracelet of any type, anyway, since the late 80s and 90s when a steady progression of hand-woven 'friendship bracelets' were added to and fell off of my arms. My arms and wrists are bare these days (I don't normally wear a watch, for a specific reason - more on that another 'time' perhaps). But I like the idea. Combine the mental with the physical reminder in a simple way. Left to right. Back. Repeating the movement because you've caught yourself repeating the bad habit. Right to left. Almost like going backward -- to remind you that the habit is moving you backward, away from your goal.

I like this. And I'd like to complain less about things I can't change. I'd like to complain less when my complaining is using time and energy that could be applied to fixing whatever it is that the lazy and self-indulgent part of my brain would rather be whining about.

So I have a marble. Just one, and not because I lost all my others years ago (some of my friends may disagree here). I have one that I picked out from a few I keep around. (I like marbles, by the way). This past Wednesday the morning I put it in my right pants pocket. When I caught myself complaining in a less than constructive way, I moved it from right to left. Or back again.

I wish I would have counted exactly how many times I moved it the first day. Let's say twenty to be sure (my best guess would be seventeen). OK, my job is busy right now, and our beautiful and energetic little baby has me a bit tired out, but this was bad. I was now convinced that the experiment was worth sticking out to some sort of conclusion. I'm writing this past midnight on day three: Friday, March 28th, 2008. Here's the scoreboard:

Day one, Wednesday (estimated): 20 (17 probable)

Day two, Thursday: 6

Day three, today: 3

I detect improvement!

But time will tell, so I'll update at some point in the future on how this little trick has been working. If I can find the time - I'm so busy, and I hurt my back shoveling snow last week, and...


Left to right.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


The admins at Mixx have graciously granted me Supermixxer status. Whee! Now I can really mess things up!

In all seriousness, though, I am honored. I've been a Digger for almost a year and a half, and joined reddit not long after that, but Mixx is very quickly replacing both sites for me. They may still be a small site by social news standards yet they've managed to solve several flaws and problems that have hamstrung reddit and especially Digg. Time will tell if this will survive Mixx's almost inevitable upcoming growth spurt - here's hoping that it just gets better!

But I won't prattle on about things that others have already discussed in eloquent detail. This is just to say: thanks Mixx! You rock!