Wednesday, December 30, 2009

MY MOVIE



This is the movie I made in 6th grade for the science fair. I had it digitized recently by Arkiva. I added the soundtrack in iMovie.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

NEW YEAR'S MIX TEASER POST

Just a little post to get people excited about their New Year's mixes . . .


I think this year will be one of my better mixes. Last year was a bit schizophrenic, with a lot of very poppy Jpop and very heavy stoner rock, but too little in between (or for people who like neither genre). 2009 is going to be diverse, although not without last year's trends. It was the year of learning about stuff from the Internet. Top music sites for me included Chunklet, Bitch Magazine, Hardcore Math User, The Prelinger Archive and Stonerrock.com. I also heard songs on Internet stations such as Japan-a-Radio, Groove Radio, Radio Nigel, K666 Radio, and Trance.ch. I would sometimes hear about a band (thanks for your research, Dr. S!) and then check out a sample on Skreemer, LastFM, Lala, YouTube, or even (shudder!) Myspace. Wikipedia is also good for lists of music genres or to see who they compare a band to. The library is still my good friend as well.

Here is my technique for making mix CDs, pretty close to perfected after lo these many years:

1. Keep an iTunes Smart Playlist of music added during the year, so it keeps growing automatically. Songs don't have to be produced in that year, but they should be newly acquired.

2. Go to Office Max and buy printer ink, CD-Rs, jewel cases, labels and case inserts.

3. Listen to the Smart Playlist and pick the best songs for a "base" mix, which is usually for someone I mail the CD to, because they have to be finished sooner. My mixes are based on my experience as a college radio DK, usually 3 or 4 songs in similar genres at a time for variety. I try to have some connection between each song and the following, could musically or the song's topic or the singer's voice or the country of origin. It can be pretty loose and subjective.

4. Copy and paste the songs into another person's mix, then add and subtract based on what I know about the recipient's likes and dislikes or if they would already have it in their collection.

5. Look for an appropriate picture for the cover and label. Font choice and color scheme is important too. I have some templates for the labels and inserts from a Memorex CD-Rom purchased ages ago. I use Photoshop Elements for the inserts and Appleworks for the labels, because those were the options I picked, there are probably some for other software.

6. Edit the mixes in iTunes so that only artist and title is showing, then copy and paste into the insert template. This saves a lot of time. Check for any misspellings and that the songs will all fit at the current font size.

7. Burn CDs and label them with marker. I usually do these in bulk.

8. Print out labels and inserts, also usually in bulk. I have to be careful to label them with a Post-it right away, so I can tell them apart without reading the song list.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

CURSE YOU, LANDMARK!

So, Landmark Theaters did the old bait-&-switch with me on Thirst--they sent emails that it was coming and it appeared for a while on their web site, but they ended up withdrawing it and then bringing it back as a midnight show only. I'm sorry, but that doesn't count. So I vowed to boycott them unless they showed something really good that wasn't at any other theaters.

Of course, they then decide to show Ong Bak 2 and Red Cliff, but on Thanksgiving weekend when I'm out of town. Ninja Assassin is opening this weekend, too. I guess nothing says the holidays like people beating the crap out of each other. Well, they'd better still be playing when I get back. My family members are sadly not great fans of martial-arts-related entertainment.

Friday, November 13, 2009

WORST LOCAL BANDS EVER

Over on Facebook my dislike of certain Twin Cities bands of yore was brought up, so here's my list of the worst local bands I ever had the misfortune of listening to. There is bias in that I have to have actually heard them. Either they were hyped to high heaven by the local media, or they opened up for someone good. Perhaps there were others just as bad, but I was warned away before being exposed to them. In no particular order:


3AM Ralph: This sad excuse for a Top-40 cover band must've had some blackmail-worthy dirt on the booker at the 7th St. Entry, because they played there all the time. If you thought that a cover "I Just Want to Celebrate" couldn't sound any worse than the original, you would be wrong. At least they were aptly named.

Deformo: Want to listen to Jerry Lewis torturing a cat? Then this band's vocalist would be the one for you. Warning: he also records as King of France.

Cat's Laughing: When I was young, I had a less keen ability to avoid sub-Grateful-Dead jam bands than I do now. Has there ever been a good band made up of authors? They're always just a little bit unbalanced on the lyrics side of music-and-lyrics. Thanks to their friends in the literary community, a whole imaginary world was created where Cat's Laughing was massively popular. I go there in my nightmares sometimes.

Sh*t Fi: Another band that had to have blackmail material on someone to play as much as they did. Lovers of melody might think that a noise band couldn't be said to play well or badly, but Sh*t Fi proves them wrong. Using entries from their 8-grade diary as lyrics doesn't exactly help, either.

Pablo: Back in the day I used to go to this midnight open mike to see what weird stuff would turn up. Pablo would be usually be there to mar the experience for me. Acoustic-guitar-slinging singer-songwriters are bad enough, but Pablo did not seem to grasp the basic concept that the words had to match with the music somehow. He kept squeezing in more of his brilliant lyrical gems than could actually fit into the song, as if he just couldn't bear to cut any of them out (see below for the same syndrome). I vaguely remember some interminable song about two couples named John & John and Kate & Kate (or something like that) and their many, many adventures. Sort of like a song for small children, except kids' musicians know you actually have to write catchy tunes to keep your audience interested.

The Hold Steady: I won't bore you with this again, but I just wanted to quote the lyrics that Sasha Frere-Jones used to demonstrate their heart-stopping genius:

"We spent the night last night in Beverly Hills. There was this chick that looked like Beverly Sills. We got killed."

Omigod, someone tell Kay Ryan to give it up. There's a new poet laureate in town!


Friday, October 30, 2009

NOT EVEN TRYING


Ernie Kovacs had a budget of 50 cents, but at least he tried.

It's a weird time for TV. Some shows are at a really high level (Fringe, Mad Men, Dollhouse, The Office), while others . . . take the audiovisual abortion that is Secret Girlfriend, now in the Slot Of Doom after South Park, for example. I've always wondered what it would be like to live in a straight-boy porno movie without all the distracting sex acts and with the addition of 2 douchey frat-boy buddies who say stuff like, "Chillax, bro." A web series is finally ported to regular TV, and it's not The Guild but this? Why? If it costs Comedy Central about 50 cents in a time period they never succeed in anyway, why not try something that's actually good? Just a thought.

And then the long, boring, endless soap opera that was ER finally ends, and I'm ready for a decent drama, but they replace it with Jay Leno? I thought going to bed at 10:30 protected my tender eyes from his unfunny comedy and poor interview skills. Omigod, stupid people, when confronted by Jay Leno and a microphone, forget facts from elementary school? I need to see that again and again.

I'm picturing some television executives looking at the success of reality TV and saying, "look, this stuff is cheap and popular, so lets just save some money on scripts and sets and stuff and not try so hard." Chillax bro, indeed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

PLACES I'VE USED WI-FI



The picture above has nothing to do with anything, I was just inspired by Jason's Autumn Mix to make a melancholy depiction of the coming of winter by setting Photoshop's Blur More filter to stun.

Ever since I got my iPod Touch, I 've been playing this fun game called Find the Wi-fi. It's like there's this whole secret world of networks beneath the normal, every-day one. I probably should rename mine something weird so people will be ashamed to use it, just like Vork in The Guild . (Any thoughts? I'm thinking Sweet Jfro's Badass Network)

Here are places I've used wi-fi:

Breugger's
McDonald's
The Turf Club
Suds America
Work
Off-site work in-service
Home
Shish

Friday, October 09, 2009

MY APPS



So, I finally got that iPod Touch I've been craving. You can see I'm mostly going for the free and Web 2.0 route, except for games of course. I now see why people want mobile versions of web sites for their PDAs and smartphones. A little surfing is OK, but you don't want to do a ton of it. On the other hand, the Facebook app may be better than the web site

The Touch will save me having to pay to make calls when I'm on the town just for informational purposes. Frankly, I don't want to be on the phone at all, except for important business that can't be done online, emergencies, and talking to loved ones. Perhaps I will discover the joy of texting now I can do it for free. I mean, what is with these cell companies? You're supposed t0 pay $40 for phone, $30 for data, and another $20 for texting? Screw that. If I really get addicted and need to be online all the time, I'll just get a Mi-Fi, with the pre-paid phone it'll still come out cheaper that the iPhone & I won't be chained to AT & T. If so, you can bet I'll be Skyping like a mofo instead of cell calls whenever possible. That reminds me, does anyone know where a headphone with microphone can be found that fits an iPod Touch/iPhone and doesn't have earbuds? I can't stand having anything in my ear smaller than my elbow.

Monday, September 28, 2009

THIS



So, digitizing my records reminded me that I was missing one album from one of my favorite bands, Arcwelder. This was the record that caused them to be sued by the owners of the Tilt-A-Whirl carnival ride and forced to change their name. There was a little note on the packaging to that effect.

According to the band's web site, at least some copies of the Jacket Made in Canada CD have this whole album on it as a bonus, but that's hard to find too ( I can't get used to CDs being rare. This LP was actually 1/3 of the cost of that CD at the time I bought it, even though the seller on Gemm was in the UK. Plus, more of a historical document.

Arcwelder never got the credit they deserved. People called them "little Husker" because they dared to be a 3-piece with two singers. They don't sound like Husker Du to me, more like a more melodic Tar or some other Chicago Touch & Go band if I had to compare. Judge for yourself:

This

PS. even more Arcwelder stuff here.

Monday, September 07, 2009

PRAIRIE DOGS!




Well, we finally got to the zoo just before summer ended. The prairie dogs were the stars of the show as usual. Sometimes I wish we could have them as pets like in Japan, even though a prairie-dog size Habitrail wouldn't exactly fit in my one-bedroom apartment.

Monday, August 31, 2009

LANDMARK THEATERS UPDATE: A RAY OF HOPE

So, I got an email that the Twin Cities Landmark Theaters were finally going to get something exciting--Thirst, the new vampire movie by Park Chan Wook of Old Boy fame. But then I never heard anything in the weekly emails or the newsletter and started to suspect a bait and switch. We went to see Ponyo at the Edina 4 and didn't see anything about it there, either (not that it would be appropriate to see the trailer before a kids' movie, but there could've been a poster or something . . .)

Dr. S kindly agreed to call up the theater, all prepared to chew them out, but lo and behold, they are having it after all on Sept. 18. I have to support them whenever they have something decent, so everybody out there who still goes to movies, try to go to Landmark whenever they have something that's actually foreign or different, but not when they're just showing something like Inglorious Basterds where you can see it at any old multiplex for less.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

WOMEN IN, ON AND AROUND FILM

Over at the Bitch Blog, they were talking about female movie directors, so I had to make sure psychotronic faves like Stephanie Rothman and Doris Wishman were given their due. I hadn't known that one of my favorite female badasses, the Kill-Bill-influencing Dag from Bury Me An Angel (introduced to me by Dr. S ), was also a woman director's creation (should've known).

Then I put in a word for the woman who started me on my movie-obsessed path, the fabulous Pauline Kael. She taught me to own my loves and hates and call 'em as I see 'em. Maybe some people wouldn't consider her a feminist icon because she didn't always like the "right" movies, but read her review of Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore for some keen feminist insight. She totally terrified those guys in the movie boys' club. I mean, George Lucas named the villain in Willow after her! Here's Kael on the New Testament:

Pasolini's The Gospel According To St. Mathew was so static that I could hardly wait for that loathsome prissy young man to get crucified. Why do movie-makers think that's such a good story, anyway? The only thing that gives it plausibility is, psychologically, not very attractive.

--Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Now that's a pair of ovaries!



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Now playing: Blancmange - God's Kitchen
via FoxyTunes

Friday, July 31, 2009

LEFT BEHIND

I'm always a little bummed out by those books and web sites that tell you about etiquette in other countries, because it reminds me that there are places where my kind is not wanted. Oh, I could try to "pass", but it would be like having my hand tied behind my back. Literally. I love this quote:

In fact, even using your left hand to gesture or wave is simply not done. This is not due to any sort of discrimination against left-handed people. It's actually based on the general lack of toilet paper throughout the region and the normal method of cleaning oneself after certain bathroom functions!
Oh, it's not prejudice, so if I tell them I wash my hands a lot (and some righties from the US and Europe are not so clean by their standards), they will understand and stop trying to suppress my natural movements, because it's totally rational. It's silly to pretend that every country doesn't have prejudices and irrational rules, it's not like the US and Great Britain are so perfect. What really bugs me is the way these guides blithely make such statements as if it's the easiest thing in the world. Hey, travel expert, why don't you go to a strange country with your right hand tied behind your back and get back to me.

Friday, July 24, 2009

15 BOOKS



Another meme rears its ugly head:

Here are the rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. They don't have to be the greatest books you've ever read, just the ones that stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Copy these instructions and tag 15 ( or more) friends, including me - because I'm interested in seeing what books are in your head.

I went with the instructions and tried not to think about it too much. I was surprised it was mostly female authors, but I guess I just relate to smart, snarky women who don't censor themselves for some reason. Oz also has a lot of badass women for a turn-of-the-century childrens' book series. Loving is just hard to describe. Nobody describes daily life like Green, the way you're always afraid you're a total fake and someday people will catch you at it, but meanwhile things aren't too bad. Some of you may know how I hate long descriptions of landscapes or obscure lore in novels--well Loving is the complete opposite of that.


I thought about including graphic novels, but if I did that I'd never narrow it down to 15. Besides, comics are unique art form, they deserve their own list.



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Now playing: Aqua Timez - niji
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, July 09, 2009

LANDMARK THEATERS: I AM DISPLEASED



I will not be happy if I don't see Blood: The Last Vampire in theaters this summer because Landmark is too busy with exotic arty fare like The Hangover and Bruno. I mean, who pays more money to sit in uncomfortable seats at the Lagoon for a mainstream flick when they can enjoy comfy stadium seating and actual matinee prices. My sweetie's theory is that Landmark is going for the frat boy audience that takes the bus over to Uptown so they can get trashed at William's Pub later. But Blood is mostly in English and has a kung-fu schoolgirl killing vampires with a katana, it's hardly Matthew Barney. I can only hope Parkway or Riverview will pick up the slack like the latter did with Let the Right One In.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

MY GEEK CHART


Ash966's Geek Chart

This chart is a little misleading, I'm not really on LastFm's web site that much, it's probably because I have that scrobbling thing going on where info is sent to LastFm whenever I listen to iTunes. I am always adding links to Delicious, it's so easy with the Delicious Bookmarks add-on to Firefox.



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Now playing: Scott Walker - Plastic Palace People
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, June 28, 2009

HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW ME?



For those of you who are allergic to Facebook, here is a chance to test yourself on Jfro-knowledge. The questions were pretty boring, so I tried to spice them up a bit.


1) What song would I choose to sing at a karaoke bar?
a) Lay Lady Lay
b) Cat's in the Cradle
c) I Wanna Be Sedated
d) Truckin'
e) Losing My Religion

2) What is my middle name?
a) Louise
b) Augusta
c) Badass Jfro
d) Mary
e) Stephanie

3) What is my dream car?
a) Beetle
b) Mercedes
c) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
d) El Camino
e) Cars suck!

4) What would I dress as for Halloween?
a) Post-apocalyptic survivor
b) Slutty Witch
c) Slutty Nurse
d) One of those glittery vampires from Twilight
e) Slutty cat

5) What am I scared of?
a) clowns
b) hippies
c) hippy clowns
d) the color yellow
e) all of the above

6) Who is my favorite Disney character?
a) Belle
b) Disney sucks!
c) Mickey Mouse
d) Donald Duck
e) Snow White

7) My favorite show on TV?
a) Dollhouse
b) Lost
c) Heroes
d) Two and a Half Men
e) American Idol

Please highlight text below for answers:
Answers: 1)c, 2)e, 3)e, 4)a, 5)e, 6)b, 7)a


PS. The picture above is the result of a request from Dr. S to put a picture of my Hunter: The Vigil character on the Internet, done in the style of Rich Burlew's Order of the Stick web comic.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

MORE VINYL ODDITIES



I was only able to find a little information about this Twin Cities art-rock ensemble with the weird instrumentation (is that a clarinet?) I used to play this single all the time on my college radio show.

Smile Down

Baby, Your House . . .




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Now playing: Big Star - You Can't Have Me
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, June 07, 2009

THE RETURN OF PROJECT DIGITIZATION



So, I'm having fun digitizing some of my old records. Since my LP is connected to my computer through the pre-amp and not the receiver, I can watch Battlestar Galactica while recording stuff. Score! I'm not laying out money for the stuff I paid for before, and it's all perfectly legal! Take that, RIAA!

Also, I finally figured out how to put music on here, so here's some scratchy vinyl-only goodness from Cleveland's Human Switchboard circa 1981. Enjoy!

(Say No To) Saturday's Girl

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I SUCK AT NEGOTIATING

So, this month, since my cell phone service is ending anyway, I thought I'd play hardball with Qwest like they said to do on Lifehacker in order to get a better deal, hint that I might have to drop something due to the bad economy and all that, but maybe with a good deal on faster DSL I'd spend less on the celly, since I don't use it that much. Well, Qwest's answer was pretty much "Do whatever you gotta do, we don't care". Apparently I have to get fiber internet to get faster DSL, which means dropping my beloved ISP Iphouse, which has always been awesome to me. I call a local number and get someone right away, how do you beat that? Plus, Qwest uses msn.com as an ISP. Imagine the horrors that could entail!

I called Iphouse, and they confirmed that my DSL never gets to the top speeds advertised because my condo is located in what is technically known as the "sucky" part of the DSL line, and that they indeed don't have fiber internet yet. See how great they are? So, my plans to get faster DSL is on hold until I see how this fiber Internet thing shakes out. Maybe Iphouse will offer it eventually, and Consumer Reports* says that Verizon and AT & T are offering it in some areas (not here of course), so in theory a consumer-friendly price war could ensue. With my luck, though, the condo association won't allow it (I think there has to be a box outside the building or something. Anyone know?)

*Save a bundle. Consumer Reports. February 2009;74(2):22-25. See your friendly local librarian for more information.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

AUDIO SET UP UPDATE

I'm sure you all were waiting with bated breath to find out how I dealt with my previously-mentioned audio woes, so here's the scoop:

My turntable just needed a new belt drive (one of those big rubber bands that runs the machine), which the kind folks at the Needle Doctor replaced for $10 and didn't even charge me for labor. So I plugged it into my new receiver and it worked, but the sound was rather tinny. So I went back to the Needle Doctor and got a pre-amp. This has the added advantage of plugging directly into my computer if need be. So, I can get back to the digitizing of my 300 records, and I don't have to buy one of those USB turntables which would cost twice as much. Yay Needle Doctor! Please give them your analog audio business!



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Now playing: Groove Radio
via FoxyTunes

Monday, May 11, 2009

IPOD SHUFFLE PLAYLIST




Once again I succumb to the lure of an Internet meme:


(1) Turn on your MP3 player or iTunes. (2) Go to SHUFFLE songs mode. (3) Write down the first 25 songs that come up--song title and artist--NO editing/cheating, please. (or shuffle CD’s or *gasp* LP's, close your eyes and pick your songs)

If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about your musical tastes, or at least a random sampling thereof. I am especially interested in any guilty pleasures revealed, or weird random song cycles that actually work!


Here's mine. You have to love a list that has Boredoms and You Spin Me Round on it.

1. Love Vigilantes--New Order
2. Bore Now Bore--Boredoms
3. Lonely Planet Boy--New York Dolls
4. Our Secret--Beat Happening
5. Sleeping Giant--Mastodon
6. He's a Whore--Cheap Trick
7. Pass The Flashlight--The Soviettes
8. Man With Golden Helmet--Radio Birdman
9. We Need More--New Bomb Turks
10. I'll Be Good To You--The Brothers Johnson
11. Panther Dash--The Go! Team
12. Noise--Beat Happening
13. Tone Burst--Stereolab
14. Symptom Finger--The Faint
15. Rainy Days Revisited--The Hellacopters
16. Mengao 2000--Furac√£o 2000
17. Piya Re Piya Re--Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
18. A Little Bit Of Shhh--Lady Sovereign
19. Girl From '62--Thee Headcoats
20. You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)--Dead Or Alive
21. Ballad Of Extreme Hate--Halo Of Flies
22. Summertime Killer--Luis E. Bacalov
23. Into The Void--Black Sabbath
24. Chain That Door (Album)--Mudhoney
25. Some Candy Talking--The Jesus & Mary Chain

Total songs on my iPod: 5962

Bands that were amazingly not on this list:

Elvis Costello=170 tracks
Guided By Voices=195 tracks
The Melvins=78 tracks
Buzzcocks=83 tracks
The Wedding Present=94 tracks
Pavement=64 tracks
Sleater-Kinney=72 tracks

If you haven't already seen this on Facebook, consider yourself tagged.



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Now playing: Nash Guestmix - Shockwave Sessions Vol 027
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, April 30, 2009

MORE CELL PHONE THOUGHTS

My current thoughts on phone service--a cheap pre-paid cellphone from Verizon for day-to-day local and Skype for long distance. My parents and sister got Skype set up for some Grandma-and-grandchild face time, and my sister has Verizon. The plan is to get an iPod Touch when the new ones come out sometime this summer and use it with wifi, since there's now a Skype app for it. Qwest says I can start using wi fi in my apartment any time, since my aforementioned router is wireless. I'm not sure how that works, exactly, but I'll figure it out, right? I can finally get into that texting thing that the kids are so into as well.

The geek-0-sphere is also abuzz with the rumour that Apple is planning something with Verizon, but it doesn't do to take too much stock in that sort of thing.

Friday, April 24, 2009

NOW I HAVE TO PICK A CELL PLAN GODDAMMIT

So, stupid Qwest is stopping cellular service (I think they actually leached off Sprint's network or something, but now they are officially partnering with Verizon and trying to push us onto them) and now I have to actually research a new cell phone plan. Fun!

Consumer Reports says that Verizon and better service and connectivity, but T-Mobile is cheaper and offers more plans. An iPhone would be awesome, but A T & T is rated lower and I'd have to pay an extra $30 a month. What's up with that? You'd think some of these plans would have gone down in price since last I thought about it, but nooo . . . my current $29/month is about as low as they go, although some are more flexible and have texting (I don't care much about texting, but it would be nice to have the ability, not $5/month nice though). Billshrink is not helping me save any money. I think I'll have to go prepaid, see if I save money that way. It'd be nice to have an extra $5/month for better DSL so I can watch movies & TV online. Any thoughts?


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Now playing: Tricky - Antihistamine
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, April 12, 2009

ANIME DETOUR 2009


Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Last weekend was time to be with my people--the nerds, the geeks, the anime lovers. Unlike what Anthony Lane would have you think, I find them mostly very pleasant and friendly. Even among the more male-dominated environs of superhero comics and role-playing games, I've met very few of the misogynist conspiracy freaks he mentions. Of course, anime fandom is quite female-friendly. Any he-man-woman-haters would be in danger of being whacked by the dreaded Yaoi Paddle.

The Crown Plaza Hotel was definitely a better set-up than the Bloomington Ramada. It had the luxury of a real hotel, not a motel with delusions of grandeur. At the Ramada, I was always scrambling down narrow hallways like a hamster in a giant Habitrail. The conference rooms were roomy and there were plenty of chairs, so I didn't have to wreck my back sitting on the floor. Of course, I know downtown St. Paul and it's skyways like the back of my hand, so that helped.

The only downside of AD 2009 was the lack of awesome anime, but some years just aren't as good as others. My favorites were Ghost Slayers Ayashi, a sort of mix of the X-Files with X-Men set in Edo period Japan, as a motley crew of people with special powers are hired by a secret government ghost-busting organization, and Baccano!, a crazy mix of cultists, gangsters and assorted weirdos looking for the secret of immortality in Prohibition-Era America. For the lovers of awesomely bad anime, there was Garzey's Wing, a confused tale of a normal Japanese boy whose consciousness is somehow sent to a Dungeons-&-Dragons-style world to save the good people from the evil people with the power of flying with wings on his feet. Almost every line was laugh-out-loud ridiculous. My favorite was something like. "I MUST leave this land--for I MUST . . . .attend my HIGH SCHOOL REUNION!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

MOVIE GEEK VS COMIC BOOK GEEK THROWDOWN

It's been almost 20 years, but I can't open an issue of The New Yorker without a tinge of sadness that Pauline Kael isn't in it. Not only was her every sentence a joy, but she believed in doing her research whether in high or low culture--reading The Killing Joke before seeing Batman and First Blood before seeing Rambo, relating The Phantom of the Paradise to the state of rock music in the early 70s, etc. (although I can't agree that Alice Cooper is more of a threat to good music than Paul Williams). Nowadays, if a movie critic can name half the influences in Pulp Fiction, they consider themselves highly educated.

Though New Yorker movie reviewers have disappointed me greatly since, Anthony Lane's review of Watchmen* has to be the worst since Daphne Merkin compared Ben Affleck to a young Paul Newman (doesn't the prescience of that statement just send a thrill down your spine?). Lane is what Kael called a "gentlemen critic": sometimes handy with the witty remarks, but mainly eager to show you how superior he is to his subject. He makes it perfectly clear that he would never read any comic books, unless they were New-York-Times-approved and tackling Big, Important Topics like Persepolis and Maus. Lane certainly hasn't read Watchmen, as he doesn't seem to get that it's a critique of superheroes. To him, Rorschach is the author's mouthpiece and Nite Owl's similarity to Batman is a valid criticism. Oh, really? A satire of superheroes has a character somewhat like Batman? Who knew. Then there's this little trip down Comic Book Geek Stereotype Lane:

it should meet the needs of any leering nineteen-year-old who believes that America is ruled by the military-industrial complex, and whose deepest fear - deeper even than that of meeting a woman who requests intelligent conversation - is that the Warren Commission may have been right all along.

Here I thought I was a middle-aged lady with a master's degree, but apparently I must be a teenage male misogynist. No wonder I hate talking to myself.

Lane then attempts to end with a devastating coup de grace in the style of Pauline Kael's review of Return of the Jedi ("Why can't good and evil stop fighting and be friends?"), but comes up with this head-scratcher:

"Watchmen" marks the final demolition of the comic strip, and it leaves you wondering: where did the comedy go?

Uh, it does? That's like going to Gilbert & Sullivan and being mad that no one dies or wears a funny hat with horns on it. OK, I guess a combination of words and pictures can only be funny like Roz Chast and not serious like Alan Moore. That might seem extreme even to the people who censored comics back in the 50s. Why can't we have both?

Finally, Lane turns with obvious relief to a re-release of Leave Her To Heaven, which is just as overwrought and ridiculous as he considers Watchmen, but in a 40s Hollywood way. Mr. Lane, please accept that some aspects of humanity have to be over-stated to be truly depicted, and it's easy to get this wrong, but what art form it's done in shouldn't matter. The comic geek and the movie geek should agree on that (unless you're boring like A.O. Scott).

PS. I'm not saying that Pauline Kael would have necessarily loved Watchmen, she might've hated it, but it would've been a passionate hatred that also commented on where we are as a society. Oh, well.

*DARK VISIONS.
Lane, Anthony
New Yorker; 3/9/2009,
Vol. 85 Issue 4, p82-83, 2p
For more information, check with your friendly local librarian.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

TAX REFUND UPDATE

My friend hellbound asked me for an update on what goodies I decided to get with my tax refund.

1. EyeTV. I am enjoying watching my shows when I want and skipping over the commercials (you can edit commercials out, too, but I haven't tried that yet). It's easy to search for shows and schedule weekly recording and exporting to Apple TV. Now I can get all those good movies on TCM & Fox at 6:30 AM! My goal is to never waste time watching mediocre programming. The only drawbacks are keeping my hard drive from filling up (although the device has a buffer, so it will hold a certain amount of TV until you have room) and that I have to drag the cable all the way over from the living room (I'm sure the nice people at the cable company wouldn't charge me for another outlet that I'd be using for a device that will make them zero dollars instead of buying a DVR from them, right?).

2. Logitech Harmony Remote 676. A similar remote was on my Amazon wishlist, but I didn't expect to get it since it's a bit pricy. But then I saw a story on Lifehacker about a reconditioned one available at Tigerdirect for $46, and I had to jump on it. Since I got that new A/V receiver, I was juggling way too many remotes.
This is the most awesome remote ever. I had given up on my cheapie Philips universal remote because it didn't have specialized buttons that I needed and it wouldn't work on my Apple TV. The Harmony can be programmed so you use one button to perform all the actions needed: Press button for movies=Turn on Tv-->Turn on receiver-->Turn on DVD player. Same for turning off--I used to need 1 minute of time set aside to turn off my TV, my Apple TV, and my reciever before going to work, but now I have 1 more minute to play Bejeweled or go on Flickr. The buttons have a good solid feel and you just program it by opening software on your computer and typing the model number of the device you want to control. No more pointing a remote at it over and over until you get it right! The only drawback is that the software crashes on my computer sometimes.

3. Cheapass Memorex DVD player. Just when I was getting my entertainment system all perfect, my DVD player had to poop out on me. I figured that DVD players are at the level right now where any player will do a decent job, so I just got a cheap one for $40. I'll probably replace it with a Blu-Ray in a year or two when the price goes down.

I'm taking my record player in for repairs this week, so I don't know yet if I'll have to get a new one or a USB turntable. As far as the iPod Touch, I'll probably get one this summer when Apple's supposed to release the 3.0 version. I found this neat site that predicts when you should buy a certain Apple product based on previous release cycles.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

ANOTHER DAMN TECHNOLOGY I HAVE TO KEEP UP WITH

A friend on Facebook responded to my request for help in spending my tax refund by saying I should buy an HD radio receiver. I had no idea what he was talking about, but I thought, "Is it some sort of superpowered radio wave that will finally let me listen to something besides "Classic Rock KQRS" over the airwaves? According to these articles, no and not really--the signal's actually weaker. Also, the list of stations available* in my area is not blowing my mind. Right now I have an an all-stoner rock station, all Goa Trance, all Jpop on my computer and AppleTV, but with HD Radio I could have--KQRS Deep Cuts! Woo, all the Lynyrd Skynyrd songs that aren't "Free Bird"!

So, in conclusion, this technology bears keeping an eye out, as it could be good in theory, but it's not for me at this time.

*And that is a horrible, horrible web site. Apparently, hd radio is for smug jerks with boats who love to hear annoying one-celled organisms sing. Way to sell a new technology, dudes!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

25 THINGS




1. I will probably never read Moby Dick (Or The Shipping News or anything by Patrick O'Brien) because anything related to the lore of the sea or seafaring puts me right to sleep. All that lowering the mizzenmasts and raising the rigging and swabbing the cabin boy, who cares? I mean, I like to be on a boat, but being on a train or a streetcar is nice too, I don't need to read in exhaustive detail how they are maintained.

2. I'm a third generation non-believer on both sides, so we don't actually eat our young, in case you were wondering.

3. Green peppers are evil! And they smell bad! So stop telling me they have no taste or smell (as if that's a recommendation anyway).

4. The only person I ever wrote a fan letter to was Pauline Kael. She sent me a really nice reply which I still have somewhere.

5. I've never owned a car, but I've helped change a flat tire and been to the impound lot twice. Good times!

6. First concert at First Avenue: Robyn Hitchcock, the Element of Light tour.

7. Although I'm very, very clumsy, I've never broken any bone. I've torn a ligament, sprained a toe, put my back out several times, and there have been innumerable cuts and scrapes and bruises.

8. I don't understand people who like bands for the lyrics. I like music for the music, that's why it's called music. If you are in a band and lyrics are your main thing, write a book of poetry instead! I still won't buy it, but I'll be saved the analysis of your profundity by music critics who are relieved not to have to write about how something sounds because it's sooo hard. Good lyrics can elevate a band from good to great, but good is not the same as pretentious.

9. In college, I had a TRS-80 Model 100 laptop computer. It could hold one 10-page paper in its memory, but you could save files on an attached tape deck.

10. Movies I've seen at least 3 times (not the same list as best movies, but there is some overlap): Shoot The Piano Player, Bedazzled (1967), Metropolitan, Valley Girl, Better Off Dead, The Warriors, 36 Chambers of Shaolin, Branded To Kill, Full Contact (1993), The Shop Around The Corner, Sunset Boulevard, Sweet Smell of Success, The World Of Henry Orient, Jackie Brown, Chinese Super Ninjas, Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill!, The Man In The White Suit, Meet Me in St. Louis.

11. Worst movie I've seen more than once: The King Of Hearts. It was playing at two parties I've attended.

12. One pet peeve: those who lump homeopathy with the folk remedies of women, peasants, non-Europeans, and others disregarded by the medical establishment. It was conceived by a white, middle-class European doctor who believed that water has a memory. You know what? It doesn't.

13. I would much rather have a new computer than valuable jewelry. I wear costume jewelry--adornment should be fun, and worrying that something might steal your jewelry because it would pay their rent for the month is no fun. In the olden days, when women couldn't own property or have a bank account and were barred from most professions, jewelry was the only thing they could own and their only backup plan for hard times. Being all obsessed about it now seems like a creepy throwback. Also, see #7 above.

14. Same goes for flowers. Paying for flowers that are just going to die in a couple of days? What a waste! Books and chocolate are what say love to me, as my sweetie knows.

15. When I was in junior high, I memorized Jabberwocky, but I only remember parts of it now.

16. Although Battlestar Galactica depicts genius scientists in the future accepting the theory of the subconscious that mainstream psychology has currently abandoned (also smoking: still cool!), I doubt that there is a little box in my brain with all my memories in perfect order if I could just access it. Plus, there are plenty of memories that I would repress if that were possible, so I conclude that Dr. Freud is full of hooey.

17. I don't care about the Oscars, except that it's nice if a more obscure indie or foreign film gets some notice. I might watch parts of it if they have a good host, and I tear up when they show all the people who died that year.

18. Watching too many old movies at a young age gave me a bias against beards and mustaches on my men. Stubble is OK though.

19. If I get an earworm, I sing The Colonel Bogey March in my head until it goes away.

20. I made a 5-minute claymation movie for my sixth-grade science fair. It featured a dinosaur and a magic hat that made the wearer disappear.

21. I used to have a portable record player which played records on their sides. I had it hooked up to a boom box in college. Finally, the needle died and the Sony customer service representative laughed at me when I asked if I could purchase a replacement.

22. I still sometimes miss my old college DJ gig, although I wasn't any good at it. I satisfy this urge by making mix cds. It used to be mix tapes, and it could be online playlists in the future (although as an art major, I enjoy the packaging, which streaming doesn't really satisfy, plus it makes a lousy present.)

23. I like to mend clothes whenever possible with my limited sewing skills. The only place I'm a little extravagant with clothes is shoes, but for practical reasons. Shoes help you get where you want to go, so they have to be well-made, or your feet will suffer for it. If they are pricey because they are well-made (not because they are designer), they'll last longer and save you money in the long run. Cheap, badly made shoes can't be mended because they are held together with cheap glue. I just got rid of some winter boots that finally started falling apart after 10 years of constant winter wear, and my Doc Martin oxfords are about 15 years old and still going strong. Support your local shoe repairer!

24. I'm ultra-opinionated about things, but I can't convince anyone of anything. I'm not sure it's really possible to convince someone of something, but if you can, isn't that kind of creepy and manipulative?

25. My hometown lies just below the Northern Midwestern/Southern Midwestern border, so I have a slight drawl, flat 'a' and hard 'r'. I'm rather fond of it, actually. If I moved somewhere like England where it really stood out, I'd probably emphasize it rather than modify it.


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Now playing: <a href="http://www.foxytunes.com/artist/-/track/groove+radio">Groove Radio</a>

via <a href="http://www.foxytunes.com/signatunes/">FoxyTunes</a>

Monday, February 16, 2009

25 ALBUMS THING

Yes, Jfro fell for one of those virtual chain letters we call memes again. This list is weighted heavily to older albums, as it is hard to tell if a recent album will be a long-term relationship or just a temporary crush.

Think of 15 albums (then add 10 because you can't just stop at 15) that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. These are the albums that no matter what they were thought of musically shaped your world. When you finish, tag 15 others, including me. Make sure you copy and paste this part so they know the drill. Get the idea now? Good. Tag, you're it!

Beat Happening You Turn Me On
Big Star Radio City
Roxy Music, Siren
The Buzzcocks, Singles Going Steady
The Wedding Present, Seamonsters
Elvis Costello, Trust
Fugazi, Repeater
Guided by Voices, Alien Lanes
The Jesus Lizard, Goat
Matthew Sweet, %100 Fun
The Melvins, Bullhead
The Misfits, Walk Among Us
Mission of Burma, Vs.
The Modern Lovers, The Modern Lovers
Pavement, Slanted & Enchanted
Smoking Popes, Destination Failure
Kyuss, Sky Valley
Squeeze, Singles 45's & Under
Stereolab, Mars Audiac Quartet
Stiff Little Fingers, Inflammable Material
The Stooges, Funhouse
Tricky, Maxinquaye
Walt MInk, Miss Happiness
Weezer, Pinkerton
Wire, Pink Flag



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Friday, February 13, 2009

WHAT SHOULD I BUY WITH MY TAX REFUND?




The tanking of my mutual funds had one good result--mad cash for my tax refund.* After paying my property taxes for the first half of the year, I still have about $1350.** I usually like to get some sort of technology like a TV or computer, and I've narrowed it down to 6 things. Let me know what you think, faithful readers, which 2 or 3 should I go with?

IPOD TOUCH 30G ($400)
Pros: You get most of the iPhone features without the insane 2-year contract. It can access the Internet with Wi-Fi. Screen is better for playing games and watching TV than an Ipod Classic. Apps, apps, apps!
Cons: Expensive for the amount of storage you get compared to iPod Classic, and I have lots of music. Can't access Internet everywhere like iPhone. Apple will come out with a better one next week and I'll be sad.

SAMSUNG BLU-RAY PLAYER ($350)
Pros: Can finally find out what's so great about Blu-Ray. Will get the most out of my HDTV. It also has Netflix Watch Instantly.
Cons. Blu-ray will get cheaper, so I might want to wait until next year. My experiments with Netflix Watch Instantly suggest that higher-speed DSL might be in order, which would mean more monthly fees.

CENTER SPEAKER, REAR SPEAKERS & SUBWOOFER (varies, the most I'd pay would be $100 each)
Pros: My media center would be complete, and it seems a waste to have a 5.1 receiver without all the speakers to take advantage. Ability to watch movies late at night without my neighbors complaining (I have to have the sound up to hear the dialog over the soundtrack with the current system).
Cons: I might not be enough of an audiophile to hear the difference. Speakers not a "sexy" purchase.

ROKU PLAYER ($100)
Pros: Cheaper than a Blu-Ray player, and will soon have Amazon OnDemand videos in addition to Netflix Instant Watch. Supposed to be very easy to use. Viewing more Watch Instantly videos will give me more bang for my Netflix buck.
Cons: DSL might still be too slow. It only does a couple of things, and those things might be superseded by new technology (i.e. Apple TV adding Netflix Watch Instantly).

EYETV HYBRID ($125)
Pros: Like a Tivo, but without the monthly fees and you can burn to CD and edit out commercials. Exports to AppleTV. Less temptation to buy TV shows on iTunes. Will bring me closer to my dream of on demand TV when I want it. Even if I ever figure out how to program my VCR, I can't record while watching something else. Cons: There might not be enough TV to be worth it. My hard drive could get really full. Apple TV could add Hulu support or Boxee could take off, making me feel foolish.

ION USB TURNTABLE ($110)
Pros: Easy digitizing of my 300 LPs and assorted 7", 12" and EPs. No more worrying about line hum from some wire not touching metal in my complex stereo-to-computer hookup. My turntable is misbehaving, fixing or replacing it could be more expensive. Cons: If my turntable is easily fixable, it would seem like a waste. I did get some good recordings before I started having a line hum issue.

*Yes, I do plan to make charitable donations, take trips and save for emergencies. The nature of those items aren't up for discussion, so leave me alone.

**Yes, I know you're supposed to change your withholding if you get a lot of money back. I already have 2 Roth IRAs, 2 mutual funds, some stocks, a work retirement fund, and plenty in the old savings account, and no, I don't care if the government holds my money for a while. Don't judge me!

Friday, January 30, 2009

IN WHICH JFRO TRIES TO BRING HER AUDIO INTO THE 21ST CENTURY

The summer of 1987, I was living in a house with a bunch of other college students. One of them had an elaborate set-up with the stereo connected to the TV. This was when TV shows broadcasting in stereo was a new thing, as was having a real soundtrack for a mere TV show with songs viewers had heard before and enjoyed. I was amazed every time Crime Story came on how awesome it was to hear "Runaway" in stereo. Of course, I didn't have a real stereo then, just a boombox, so I couldn't create it myself (I had this funny portable record player where you put the LP in sideways).

In 1990, I finally purchased a stereo system, a Sony receiver and dual tape deck and a Technics turntable. I didn't start buying CDs until I got a computer for grad school in 1995, because I objected to how much more expensive they were than LPs. Then I hooked up my computer to the stereo. I only had a cheap crappy CD player for a few years until it died, then just used my DVD player after I got one in 2000.

So, last year I got a HDTV and Apple TV and learned about some new cables like HDMI (Apple TV) and component (DVD player). This made my receiver seem a little shabby, not to mention having to get up every time to adjust the sound for all these different machines. So I used Consumer Search, which I like because it summarizes different consumer web sites and magazines like Consumer Reports to pick the best product in different categories. It told me that the Onkyo TX-SR204 was the best receiver in the cheap-ass category.

It took me a while, but I finally have my DVD player, Apple TV, tape player, record player, and HDTV hooked up and emitting the finest audio they are capable of. Well, technically I need 3 more speakers and a sub-woofer, but I'll work up to those a bit at a time. In preparation for the miracle of 5.1 sound, I bought a couple of optical audio cables for the DVD and Apple TV. These are so powerful, they come with little plastic condoms over the ends to keep the awesome from leaking out. As this was not mentioned on the packaging, it took me a little while to figure out why they weren't fitting into the holes. The LG TV manual also neglected to mention anything about audio. Apparently, they think you should watch HDTV while listening to their crappy internal speaker. Finally, I found a tiny hole with a teeny black-on-black picture of a headphone on it (because people are really gonna put their face five inches from the TV and listen to a show with headphones).

The Onkyo can also be hooked up to my computer, so I was psyched try to digitize more of my 300 or so LPs, but now my turntable is giving me trouble. It's always something.




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Now playing: Groove Radio
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

99 THINGS

I saw this in 2 places, so I guess I can't deny it anymore. Here goes:

THE 99 THINGS MEME

Things you’ve already done: bold

Things you want to do: italicize

Things you haven’t done and don’t want to - plain font

1. Started your own blog.
Yay me!

2. Slept under the stars.
I assume they mean like a tent. If so--of course, I grew up in the Midwest. It didn't take, though. If they mean literally sleeping with just a sleeping bag protecting them from the elements--no, that's just insane. What kind of magical fairyland do they live in where that's a good idea?

3. Played in a band.
No, but I played cello in the orchestra for a while--badly. I was thanked on the liner notes of an obscure demo tape for setting up a gig in my sister's basement.

4. Visited Hawaii.
Nature--not for me.

5. Watched a meteor shower.
No. Leave me alone already with all the nature.

6. Given more than you can afford to charity.
That's just silly. Do they mean, "more than you think you can afford, but you can really afford it if you don't buy a really big TV?" That's the only way it makes sense.

7. Been to Disneyland/world.
Yuck. I've been to Great America in San Jose, I'm more of a Warner Brothers than a Disney person.

8. Climbed a mountain.
I think it was a mountain I climbed in Yosemite, but it couldn't just been a high plateau by California standards. Someone came down on a stretcher due to walking too fast in high altitude conditions, that's enough for me. Needless to say, we went verrry slowly.

9. Held a praying mantis.
Probably, I had a bug petting zoo as a kid.

10. Sang a solo.
Sooo not a good idea, unless you count the shower.

11. Bungee jumped.
Isn't that so 90s?

12. Visited Paris.

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.

That would be cool, as long as I wasn't steering the boat or involved in any way other than as a passenger.

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.
How is art defined? As a child of the 70s I learned so many crafts --macrame, decoupage, papier-mache, latch hook, string art, making "knitted" potholders with that plastic square frame thing. My high school art classes were mostly just places for stoners and ESL kids to hang out, so I learned about perspective and figure drawing from books.

15. Adopted a child.

16. Had food poisoning.
I think I had stomach flu, but I could be wrong.

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.

There's just so many more interesting things to do in New York. The Met, the Fricke, the Whitney, the New Museum, the Cloisters, PS 1, 100 art galleries, looking for street art. And that's just the art scene!

18. Grown your own vegetables.

When I was a kid.

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
I missed the Louvre because I was having money issues. The Musee D'Orsay was really cool, though.

20. Slept on an overnight train.
I think it was Amsterdam to Vienna.

21. Had a pillow fight.

22. Hitch hiked.

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill.
When I was a healthy kid, I could do that. Now I'm sickly and middle-aged, so I have to save my sick days for when I'm really ill.

24. Built a snow fort.

25. Held a lamb.

I'm sure I petted one in a petting zoo.

26. Gone skinny dipping.

27. Run a marathon.
You can't see anything interesting while you're running. It sounds very boring, and life is too short to do boring things.

28. Ridden a gondola in Venice.
I just spent the day there, so it wasn't an option.

29. Seen a total eclipse.

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
Well, I have a balcony, so it's not really out of my way. I don't really stare at them for hours or anything, though.

31. Hit a home run.
Ugh, this list is very jocky. What about something like painting a picture or writing a poem, something that could actually add beauty to the world in some way?

32. Been on a cruise.
I dunno, I like the idea of being on a big boat, but the idea of stopping at ports and never staying anywhere very long doesn't appeal to me.

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.

I've seen falls. How many falls does one have to see?

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors.

35. Seen an Amish community.

I've seen Amish people and been in Amish stores. Are you allowed to come and hang out with them? I'd feel weird.

36. Taught yourself a new language.
I've taught myself a few phrases in Czech and Italian, not really a whole language, though.

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.

Sometimes.

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.

39. Gone rock climbing.
Why? I mean, I can go down to the river and walk where it's rocky, so I don't see the point in making a special trip.

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David in person.

41. Sung Karaoke.
I went to Punk Karaoke on my birthday and sang back-up, but I haven't done a solo.

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant.

44. Visited Africa.

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
I have a feeling this is one of those things that sounds cooler than it really is, but I'm willing to give it a try.

46. Been transported in an ambulance.
I had pneumonia as a baby, but I don't remember it.

47. Had your portrait painted.
I've done self-portraits in mezzotint, oil pastels, and monoprint, seems close enough.

48. Gone deep sea fishing.
I don't really like seafood that much.

49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person.


50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

One again, so many cooler things to do in Paris. What is this weird obsession with climbing to the top of things? I did climb to the Foshay in Minneapolis, but it's more fun to see a city you actually know.

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling.

52. Kissed in the rain.
In the Midwest, storms and hail and other unpleasant things often accompany rain, so a Hollywood-style smoochfest is not always in the cards. I'll put it on my list, though.

53. Played in the mud.

54. Gone to a drive-in theater.

55. Been in a movie.
Not that I know of. I made a stop motion movie in 6th grade (5 minutes long). I'd much rather make a movie than be in one.

56. Visited the Great Wall of China.

57. Started a business.
Someday I'll have my kung fu drive-in/Chinese restaurant/punk rock venue.

58. Taken a martial arts class.
Female Eclectic Martial Arts for 3 months, and a little Tai Chi. I'm too clumsy to be really good at it.

59. Visited Russia.

60. Served at a soup kitchen.

61. Sold Girl Scout cookies.
Yes, and it convinced me that sales are not for me.

62. Gone whale watching.
When I went to the New England Aquarium. Didn't see any, though.

63. Gotten flowers for no reason.
A (married, female) coworker one gave me some from her garden, but I didn't know where to put them as I have no vases. Plants should stay in the ground where they're supposed to be.

64. Donated blood.

65. Gone sky diving.

Are you crazy?

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.

67. Bounced a check.
Once, and it traumatized me.

68. Flown in a helicopter.

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy.

My mom saved some of my Breyer horses, and the old doll house that I wired for electricity.

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.

My dad's from DC, so I've done everything there except the White House.

71. Eaten Caviar.
Just that Greek fish egg dip.

72. Pieced a quilt.
Well, we gave a quilt to which each person contributed a square to a coworker for her baby shower, but I think I just sewed something pre-made on it.

73. Stood in Times Square.
In order to get half-price tickets to Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Not in my top 1000 of places to be in New York. It might've been cool when they still had kung fu and sexploitation movie theaters.

74. Toured the Everglades.

75. Been fired from a job.

76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London.

77. Broken a bone.

Strangely not, considering how clumsy I am. I tore a ligament, sprained a toe, bumped my nose many times, innumerable scrapes, scratches, and cuts. My friend broke a wrist at this roller skating party I had.

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.

My third cousin had one.

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.

That would be cool, but what else would I do in Arizona?

80. Published a book.
I have tiny entries in The Overrated Book and the Rock Bible, but not my own book.

81. Visited the Vatican.

82. Bought a brand new car.
I'd be OK with never having a car if I can manage it. They're just big money sinkholes that can incur $1000s worth of damage at any time.

83. Walked in Jerusalem.

84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
Not that I can recall, but going on a trip to Europe can get a picture in my home-town paper.

85. Read the entire Bible.
Just the kid's version.

86. Visited the White House.
Once again, really just some guy's house, and our presidents unfortunately didn't accumulate loads of loot like the Popes.

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
Once, I couldn't think of a thing I wanted to do at camp, so I just sat and pretended to fish.

88. Had chickenpox.
In junior high, when I really needed more blemishes in my life.

89. Saved someone’s life.

90. Sat on a jury.

I've heard librarians are considered good jury members, and I work 2 doors down, so it's just a matter of time.

91. Met someone famous.
My grandma was friends with Jessica Mitford, so I met her a couple of times.

92. Joined a book club.
I don't have time to read all the books I want to, the last thing I need is assigned reading.

93. Lost a loved one.

Grandparents.

94. Had a baby.
Being an aunt is enough for me.

95. Seen the Alamo in person.
I'm not really into famous buildings unless they have beautiful architecture or some art or cool objects in them.

96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake.
Sounds uncomfortable.

97. Been involved in a law suit.

98. Owned a cell phone.


99. Been stung by a bee.
I put my hand in my purse once and felt a stinging sensation which could have been a bee or a wasp that got stuck in there, but I never saw it.

Now it's your turn, sucker!