Wednesday, December 30

Happy 2010!

A tad early, but Happy New Years to everyone who follows the Gregorian calendar! I dunno about you, but my 2009 sucked the biggie. Sure, 1 Jan 10 is just a date, but it's symbolic, like the sun at dawn, of a new period of time beginning, and a new decade to boot! May the '10s be ten times better than the '00s, which really were zeroes - the worst decade of my life, and anecdotally seemingly a bad time for a great many. I just know in my bones this year and the next decade will be better. I am full of hope. Golden rays of sun are coming out of all my orifices.

Make the most of this next year to do what you really want to do and don't let laziness, fear, or comfort stand in the way! Get outside more, get more exercise, make more friends, take more chances! I wish all of you the very best in the new year.


I just picked up a plastic cup about half full of soda with my left hand, and halfway to my mouth, the cup buckled in my grip (cheap cup) and popped free. It's hard to explain with words, but imagine that it rotated around as it was falling, and I was certain it was going to spill Coke everywhere. But rather than lunge at it, it seemed (looking back at what was an entirely instinctual split-second) that I had actually imparted enough rotation to the cup that it might not land upside down but actually come all the way around... though it would be close. Thus I twisted my body, dropped to my knees, and with my other hand (the right), I caught it about six inches above the carpet, face up once again! The best part of all: The centrifugal force of the rotation kept all the Coke inside the cup and my carpet didn't receive a drop. Whew!

Of course no one is ever present to see such things. It's one of the unwritten rules in life. :-|


I've been putting up a lot of easy posts lately, like pictures from the web and YouTube videos. I never really wanted to see my blog come to this, but I'm ok with it because at least I'm posting. The holidays are a hard time for me, so any regular activity is good. Also, to a lesser extent, when I do write an original piece, I'm cherry-picking the best ones for when I debut my redesigned site in 2010 (when in that year I'm not ready to say. It depends on how rapaciously I learn a few new technologies and how much else is going on in my life - school and my commitment to read Russian literature. I do hope it's sooner in 2010 rather than later). The third reason is that I actually have some real-life things going on, like being quick sick for well over a month (just about better now), getting re-acquainted with a good friend, and other personal things. So I appreciate any of you who still visit, even if the content has been rather canned of late. I hope to come back stronger in the new year with some original material and more variety. Got to get through this depressing weather and get my health back! Thanks for understanding.

What does your culture celebrate with fireworks?

On a yearly basis, not counting special events like the Olympics, we (the denizens of the USA) put up the biggest fireworks display for our Independence Day (July 4th) from that evil Empire of Britannia, who now in one of those ironies of history is our closest ally, and vice-versa. I even get "Happy 4th of July" well-wishes from British friends of mine! Strange how the worm turns.

The other only real consistent time you see/hear fireworks is on New Year's Even at midnight, but it's a less planned out and watched thing - it just sorta happens spontaneously by those who've consumed too much liquor and have access to explosives, or by carefully orchestrated TV events, like the big Times Square deal.

Fireworks feature prominently in professional sports, too, as well as in Las Vegas, but as this is private entertainment and nothing to do with any national celebrations, I'm not going to count this category of pyrotechnic extravagances.

So, readers from outside the US, during what events do your countries generally employ the patriotic use of fireworks to celebrate?

Tuesday, December 29


Monday, December 28


What's Jackson doing in Egypt?!?

Friday, December 25

Wednesday, December 23

This is long overdue.

For the holidays, when for some reason his music always seems to come to mind and resonate with me more, maybe as I become more reflective and think back to the days of Sony Walkmen and tapes of albums or CDs, listening in bed in the dark, knowing I should sleep but entranced by music and words instead, picturing a story unfolding with me as the guy who gets the girl.... I would like to present...

Dan Fogelberg (1951-2007)

The Last Nail.

Same Auld Lang Syne.

Dancing Shoes.

His Highness Sir Lord Maaile ought to appreciate that last one.

RIP, Dan! You had so many lovely songs I could spend a month posting them, but I'll let my readers discover you on their own.

When you cried, I'd wipe away all of your tears.

Who will wipe hers away?

Tuesday, December 22

Now the "other half" of Floyd.

Well, just like The Beatles or most other bands with staying power, Pink Floyd evolved over the years. Syd Barrett, their original frontman (lyrics, lead guitar, and voice) lost his mind and never found it again. Then the band noodled around a bit in the late sixties and early seventies until they found a new sound, this time splitting musical and lyrical duties, though Roger Waters was always the chief writer of the words. By the same token, David Gilmour sang maybe 2/3 of the songs and played lead guitar and wrote most of the music. Waters played a very proficient bass guitar, Richard Wright brought a bit of jazz/avant garde/psychedelia to the keyboards, which were new at the time, typically Moogs and other early models that have that trademark "spacy" sound we identify with today (Bowie's "Space Oddity" employed a Moog, and early Duran Duran tracks evolved from Moogs to Rolands and eventually Yamaha DX-7s). The constant was always really Nick Mason on drums, who locked down an insistent, steady backbone for the others to jam against, much like Ringo Starr did for the Beatles. In fact, there are quite a few similarities between the two bands that I won't go into just now.

Anyways, once Syd had gone mad and the other four found their "sound" in the early 70s, they reeled off four straight concept albums that are probably as good as anything anyone's ever done, in my opinion and in the opinion of many critics. Among them was Dark Side of the Moon, issued when I was just an infant, from which the songs "Breathe," "Time," "Money," and "Us and Them" came, amongst others. The entire album was engineered by a young Alan Parsons and recorded at Abbey Road. It is by some measures the most successful album of all time: It stayed on the "Billboard Hot 200" charts for 591 weeks, or an incredible 11+ years. There is still a CD manufacturing plant in Germany that does nothing but press copies of it for the current market, as it still sells about 250,000 copies a year, more than most new acts (except superstars), or popular but aging acts. It's routinely on the short-list of critics "best ever" albums. This and the subsequent mega-albums Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Wall would add to and firmly establish Pink Floyd's legacy as a band, along with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Who, as a sort of classic British rock sound. The USA had The Doors following a similar tract; rock-poets Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash; Canada had Leonard Cohen and Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot. But North American music has always mirrored the vast lands that have spawned it - British rock, then and now, has always been (in my view) tinged with just a bit more angst, more paranoia and claustrophobia. And in the case of Pink Floyd, the overriding theme was nearly always alienation.

"How do people communicate, and empathise with one another," Roger Waters asked, "rather than passing one another by without a glance, without making any connection? How do we find any connections at all in this huge world, even with those closest to us, with the pressures of time, work, and money?" It's a theme that would haunt him and guide his lyrics for the rest of the band's tenure. Their last album, which is really a sequel to (or closure of) The Wall, is for all intents and purposes a Roger Waters solo album. He had become so obsessed with controlling all aspects of the band's output that the other members lost their patience, and the group never made another album as a foursome, though after Roger's departure in 1983 Gilmour, Wright, and Mason would continue on under the name Pink Floyd and record two more very good albums, one in 1987 and one in 1994. Waters would also go on to record three solo albums. But it would be a rare fan who considered either endeavor equal to what the band as a whole did together in the 70s and into the beginning of the 80s.

That last album, The Final Cut, was panned by critics at the time of its release but has aged extraordinarily well, and proved that Waters was a lyrical visionary in the mold of John Lennon, with the knack of knowing which way the wind was blowing and where the politics and social surges of the time would ultimately lead. Listening to that album now, with its Cold War anxieties and almost overbearing sense of pessimism about the modern human experience, is at once a joy of identification, a strain of recognition, and ultimately I think a catharsis. In reality, it's the story of Roger Waters' own life, his own attempts to reconcile the death of his father in World War II when he was young, his own feelings of isolation, his own suffering. It's what makes Pink Floyd at its heart so profoundly different from those "good time" rock and roll bands, and I think it's time to feature Waters' singing in a short movie he and his brother put together for the last album, and contrast it to the transcendent, otherworldly soundscapes that Gilmour creates, lasers and all. For my part, I enjoy both "halves" of Pink Floyd equally, just like I enjoy John and Paul (and George) for their contributions to The Beatles's unique sound. As the saying goes, the whole was always greater than the mere sum of its parts.

Here then is Pink Floyd's titular track to their last album, "The Final Cut."

The Final Cut (Waters)

Through the fish-eyed lens of tear-stained eyes
I can barely define the shape of this moment in time.
And far from flying high in clear blue skies
I'm spiraling down to the hole in the ground where I hide.

If you negotiate the minefield in the drive
And beat the dogs and cheat the cold electronic eyes
And if you make it past the shotguns in the hall
Dial the combination, open the priesthole...

And if I'm in, I'll tell you what's behind the wall.

There's a kid who had a big hallucination
Making love to girls in magazines.
He wonders if you're sleeping with your new found faith
Could anybody love him, or is it just a crazy dream?

And if I show you my dark side
Will you still hold me tonight?
And if I open my heart to you
And show you my weak side
What would you do?

Would you sell your story to Rolling Stone?
Would you take the children away
And leave me alone?
And smile in reassurance
As you whisper down the phone?
Would you send me packing?
Or would you take me home?

Thought I oughta bare my naked feelings,
Thought I oughta tear the curtain down.
I held the blade in trembling hands
Prepared to make it but...
Just then the phone rang
I never had the nerve to make the final cut.

Monday, December 21

I cherish my freedom.

Without freedom I might as well not be alive. But freedom means different things to different people. There are types and degrees. What does freedom mean to you? What freedoms do you absolutely need to be happy, and which are negotiable? Which have you inadvertently given away, or think society has exchanged for other benefits?

Heck yeah

I'mma do this with my king-sized bed, put a big ol AT-AT over it, only with a powered cable to pull me outta the covers in the morning and into the body of the beast, where I can get dressed before climbing down the stairs and facing the day! Just hope no one chucks a detonator up thru the hatch while I'm getting styled out.

Only problem is the kid's a little confused rockin' a purple lightsaber and the Transformers bedsheets. If you're gonna have your pops build you a giant AT-AT for a bed loft, you gotta come correct after that and do your part.

Man, I'm gonna get started right now.

Saturday, December 19

Pink Floyd (1994) - "Us And Them"

Us And Them
(Pink Floyd)

Us and them
And after all,
We're only ordinary men.

Me and you
God only knows,
It's not what we would choose
To do.

"Forward!" he cried from the rear
And the front ranks died.
The generals sat, and the lines on the map
Moved from side to side.

Black and blue
And who knows which is which,
And who is who.

Up and down
And in the end,
It's only round and round
And round.

"Haven't you heard? It's a battle of words!"
The poster bearer cried.
"Listen son," said the man with the gun,
"There's room for you inside."

Down and out
It can't be helped,
But there's a lot of it about.

With... without
And who'll deny
It's what the fighting's all about?

Out of the way, it's a busy day!
I've got things on my mind.
For the want of the price of tea and a slice
The old man died.

lyrics by R. Waters
music by R. Waters, D. Gilmour, R. Wright, N. Mason


Kint vagyok, futni hagytak
Az érzelemrendorség köpött rám
Megmondták, hová mehetek, és kirúgtak
És én csak bámulok az esobe és
Azokba a szörnyu nátriumlámpákba
És ahogy elsétálnak, önhitten,
Én semmit sem mondhatok biztosra
Amit itt belül érzek ma

Kivéve azt a tompa fájdalmat, a kínt.
Az évek kiszívták az érzékeimet,
Minden, amit olyan tuélesen éreztem
Amivel olyan átkozottul élénken törodtem
Elfeledtem a szerelem rezgését
A figyelem, az élet izgalmát
A napom már csak menekülés a feszültségtol
És ima, feloldozásért, az ido alól.

Many thanks to Mandula Mártonffy for the translation into Magyar (Hungarian).
The original, in English, will be posted someday.

Friday, December 18

Thursday, December 17

Wednesday, December 16


Crazy mood swings, sting in the gut
I look up and my shadow is gone
Three days have passed
And I don't know if I'm sane
And the world just ain't the same
Or if I'm somehow terribly wrong
I suspect it's the thing within me
Which suspends my disbelief
And yet relief ain't coming on
Little things linger, dreams
Of missing fingers, and toy batons
And middle of the nightmare ruses
I'm still confused and feel useless
Pills accumulate in my plastic grid
But I remember taking them, I did!
When each moment the sun got up
And nighttime hid, you dig?
It's like I'm losing my mind
Sometimes I don't know who to trust
The voice that's inside of me
Or the person that's versin'
Right now without cussin but messing
With words, to be heard or just bust?
If I'd had this recorded to tape
I'd hit rewind
To see what goes on for real
When I feel blind
And some lady asked me was I
A model of some kind?
I couldn't believe it, I thought
She was just having a laugh at me
Then I get yet another phone number
From a hostess at Mary's
That carried me on with mixed emotions
To say the least, I say the most
About the time I start to feel strong
Apologies to Marvin Gaye but what's going on?
I haven't been so outcast in 37 long, long
Years but here's three people in 24 hours
Complimenting me almost to tears
In their own way, and I praise their charity
And I've got nothing to say to bring me clarity
I guess I should buy them all flowers
But the pollen might blow me away.

Monday, December 14

Bozo the Cobra

Silly LOLcats

My Bookworm Adventures 2 final screen

Darwin Fish

Eye of Horus

Sunday, December 13

Songs on the charts when I was born!

To the month and year...

Meta's Life Advice: Tip #1

Don't ever smile at anyone after you've eaten pesto.

An easy Gollum quiz.

Just give answers and spellings as best you can. I'm not going to be technical in grading this.

1. How did Gollum acquire the Ring in the first place?
2. What was Gollum's real name?
3. To which race of people did he belong?
4. Where, roughly, did these people live?
5. To whom did Gollum eventually lose the Ring?
6. Roughly how old was he at the time this happened?
7. Where was he living at the time?
8. What did he do after he lost the ring?
9. In the process, he was caught twice. By whom?
10. What was Gollum's final fate?

Thanks for taking my Gollum quiz! Your reward is a raw, slimy fish.

Plants > Zombies

Here's the proof.

Saturday, December 12

Just the first of many posts to come.

I've got at least ten fully written. I'll dole them out daily pretty much, hopefully. For now, we'll start off with something pretty easy.

My Favorite Musical Artists/Bands
1. The Beatles
2. Pink Floyd
3. The Smiths
4. Dead Can Dance
6. Nick Drake
7. Dan Fogelberg
8. Nick Cave
9. The Clash
10. The Sundays OR 2Pac

My Favorite Painters
1. Edvard Munch
2. Vincent Van Gogh
3. Many, many others - I can't think just now.

My Favorite Fiction Authors
1. JRR Tolkien
2. Isaac Asimov
3. Albert Camus
4. Arthur C. Clarke
5. William Shakespeare
6. Philip Pullman
7. Kurt Vonnegut
8. Italo Calvino
9. Lloyd Alexander
10. JK Rowling

(Again I'm forgetting... Emile Bronte, Jane Austin, and Thomas Hardy should be on there for sure.)

My Favorite Nonfiction Authors By Category
Physics: Martin Rees, John Gribben, Steven Weinberg, Paul Davies, many more.
Biology: Charles Darwin, Richard Dawkins, E.O. Wilson, more.
Philosophy: Douglas Hofstadter, Daniel Dennet, Immanuel Kant, Plato, more.
Chemistry: Isaac Asimov, Oliver Sacks, John Emsley, many more.
Anthropology: Richard Leakey, Don Johanson, Jane Goodall, more.
Early Christianity: Lynn Picknett, Clive Prince, Michael Baigent, Elaine Pagels, more.
And I could go on and on in nonfiction, but I would bore you to tears.

My Favorite Films (Subject to change depending on my mood)
1. The Empire Strikes Back
2. Blade Runner
3. Gladiator
4. The Return of the King
5. Rebel Without a Cause
Could go on an on...

My Favorite (Traditional) Games
1. Scrabble
2. Chess
3. Axis and Allies
4. Darts
5. Tag
6. Yahtzee
7. Boggle
8. Pictionary

My Favorite Video Games Ever
1. Ultima IV (Apple IIe)
2. Civilization I, II, and IV
3.  Balance of Power (Mac)
4. Morrowind (PC)
5. The Ancient Art Of War (Apple IIe)
6. Dark Castle (Mac)
7. Myth (Mac)
8. Crystal Quest (Mac)
9. Plants Vs. Zombies (PC)
10. Bases Loaded 2, Baseball Stars, Banjo Kazooie, DK 64.... (Nintendo)

My Favorite Sports To Watch
1. Basketball
2. Baseball
3. Tennis
4. Snow skiing
5. Figure skating

My Favorite Sports To Play
1. Baseball
2. Table Tennis
3. Basketball
4. Racquetball
5. Badminton

My Favorite Women (Celeb crushes)
1. Gwyneth Paltrow
2. Olivia Wilde
3. Natalie Portman
4. Julia Stiles
5. Milla Jovovich
NOTE: This would change daily, I've not put any thought into this really (except at night)

My Favorite Animals
1. Cats (the whole family)
2. Dogs
3. Apes
4. Monkeys
5. Bears
6. Lots of others

My Least Favorite Organisms
1. Mosquitoes
2. Yellowjackets with their heart set on my lunch
3. Humans
4. Parasites
5. Viruses

My Favorite Foods
1. My Mom's Beef Stroganoff
2. Filet Mignon Wrapped in Bacon with Bearnaise Sauce
3. NY Style Pizza - Extra Cheese, Ham, Mushrooms, Black Olives, Tomatoes (on after)
4. Breakfast - Bacon, Eggs Over Easy, English Muffins with Butter and Jam
5. King Crab Legs with Clarified Butter
6. Tuna Casserole
7. Egg salad sandwich or fried egg sandwich
8. Pesto linguine or angel-hair pasta

My Favorite Beverages
1. Coca Cola Classic
2. A&W Rootbeer
3. Mountain Dew
4. Chocolate Milk OR Strawberry Milk
5. San Pellegrino Sparkling Mineral Water

My Favorite Countries: Visited
1. Thailand
2. Austria
3. The Ukraine
4. Germany
5. Switzerland

My Favorite Countries: Most Like To Visit
1. UK
2. France
3. Italy
4. Egypt
5. Turkey
6. Hungary

My Favorite Athletes Ever
1. Barry Bonds
2. Kobe Bryant
3. Magic Johnson
4. Lance Armstrong
5. Wayne Gretzky
6. Andre Agassi

My Favorite Periods/Cultures In History
1. Ancient Egypt
2. Ancient Sumer/Assyria
3. Ancient Canaan
4. Ancient Scandinavia
5. Ancient Britannia
6. Ancient Persia
7. The Crusades
8. Ancient Mesoamerica

My Favorite Sciences
1. Cosmology / Philosophy
2. Physics / Astronomy / Chemistry
3. Biology / Zoology / Ecology / Astrobiology
4. Neurosciences of all kind
5. Paleontology / Anthropology / Archaeology
BONUS: Mathematics and Formal Logic (not strictly science...)

My Favorite Poets
1. Sylvia Plath
2. William Shakespeare
3. Dylan Thomas
4. Emile Bronte
5. Roger Waters

My Favorite Documentaries - (All happen to be series)
1. The Life of Mammals - Attenborough
2. Cosmos - Sagan
3. The Secret Life of Plants - Attenborough
4. Life On Earth - Attenborough
5. The Life of Birds - Attenborough

My Favorite Male Actors (Today, anyway)
1. Daniel Day-Lewis
2. Clint Eastwood
3. Heath Ledger
4. Harrison Ford
5. Morgan Freeman
6. Anthony Hopkins
7. Liam Neeson
8. Edward Norton

My Favorite Planets In Order
1. Earth
2. Jupiter
3. Venus
4. Saturn
5. Uranus
6. Mercury
7. Neptune
8. Mars

My Favorite Places To Live (From experience or projected)
1. Kenwood, CA
2. Santa Rosa, CA
3. Sonoma, CA
4. Manhattan, NYC, NY
5. Vienna, Austria
6. South of France somewhere
7. Brittany

My Favorite Colors
1. Black
2. Bluish-Gray
3. White
4. Red
5. Green and yellow in the spring

My Favorite Outdoor Activities
1. Hiking
2. Kayaking, Canoeing, Rafting
3. Scuba, Snorkeling
4. Camping
5. Body Surfing

My Favorite Indoor Activities
1. Tennis Ball Game
2. Table Tennis
3. Sex
4. Bowling
5. Nerf Hoop
6. Internet
7. Drawing
8. Bowling
10. Watching Movies
BONUS: Sleeping in on a rainy day

The end. (...for now...)

Sunday, December 6

Sorry about the abstinence :-S

In case anyone's wondering, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth or anything. I'm just having problems with my computer, so I've been unable to get on the 'Net for about a week, except for a couple of times down at the apartment office - where's there's seemingly always someone logged in or waiting right behind you when you finally get on, their eyes burning a hole into the back of your head.

Being off of the Internet feels like returning to the Precambrian era or something. The first whole day I had no idea what to do. I finally decided to read, but it's been weird not being plugged in to the Matrix. Feels kinda good actually... In a way. In some ways it sucks, like when a question pops in my head and I can't instantly find the answer. Or the fact I haven't been able to download new documentaries.

Hopefully I will be back on the blog tip soon. I'll try to think of something special to make up for the missed time. :-)

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