“The Beatles” by Bob Spitz

I read a quote somewhere that the latest Beatles biography, “The Beatles: The Biography” by Bob Spitz should now be considered the definitive Beatles Biography. I could not agree more. This book is an absolute must for any Beatles fan.
Much of what is presented in this book has been presented many times before, and in fact the “notes” section, in addition to crediting every source of every quote, does a great job at summarizing how determining the accuracy of much of the Beatles canon is next to impossible. However the presentation is exactly what makes this book so great. It is not presented as an encyclopedia of facts. Information is conveyed in such a way that by the time you are done reading you will feel like you actually lived through it; as if you just took an actual journey through time from before any of the Beatles were born through the heights of their historic unmatched fame, to their sad deterioration and slow crumbling demise. It’s all told in a very narrative and engaging fashion.
It’s an absolutely amazing journey with an emotional resonance that can’t be described. This is one of those few books that is not simply just a good read, it is an experience. There are many people who are referred to as “The Fifth Beatle”, but by the end of this book, you’ll feel as if The Fifth Beatle was you.

Ha! I’ve been Dugg!

So my latest entry on the Austin Metroblog has apparently been dugg. If you don’t really know what that means, don’t feel bad. Mostly it means some people have thought the story was worth sharing and while others post their witty, insightful, literate criticism of the piece. The troll comments are so amusing, I’d like to take them and use them as quotes like books and movies do.
“d00dzorz,. that;z u3er 1aMe!” – Trolly McTrollkin, New York Times
“This guysis like suzh a nerdburger that he should like totally marry the comic book guy from teh Simsons” – Noah Socialskills, Mom’s basement
You have to expect that kind of thing any time anything is put on the Internet for mass consumption. All in all, I find it pretty cool that someone “dugg” me and many people seem to have appreciated the post.

My metroblogging has begun

Thanks to Annika for leading me to discover Metroblogging, I have now begun blogging for the Austin Metroblog. Here’s hoping I can keep the pace.

Blame the spammers

Due to the fact that the number of unauthenticated commenters on my blog is far outweighed by the number of spam comments that attempt to get posted (and luckily trapped for moderation so I can delete them), I have now turned off comments for unauthenticated users. What this means is that you can not comment on any entries unless you create an account and sign in to leave a comment. I promise it’s painless and all your privacy is totally respected, protected and all that. Most people who comment here are already signed up anyway, so most of you won’t be affected. So to those who have not signed up for authentication with Typekey (you can sign up directly form the comments page), be it out of laziness, or paranoia of some worldwide internet conspiracy to steal your private data for Big Brother, I apologize. I am tired of moderating spam comments, and they are far more numerous than the comments I receive.
I may allow unregistered commenters to comment again. I can’t decide. I really love not dealing with spam, but looking back through my old comments I started thinking it might suck to exclude those people.

Creativity Enema

For a long time I’ve felt in a creative rut. Basically, since I started this job over a year ago, I’ve done just slightly above nothing in my creative pursuits. Stopped going on auditions, hell, don’t even have any headshots, haven’t done anything musically, not much updating here, etc. One of the reasons I quit playing World of Warcraft was that I felt I could use that time more productively (even though we never had time to play that much anyway).
Lately I feel like I’ve made at least some progress in this field. I wrote another short film for this year’s Kinetoscopic Wonderment Festival, but unfortunately found out that they had moved the deadline up by several months from the past two years, and thus found it was impossible to enter this year. My reign of winning has come to an end there. I still plan to make my short film for posterity and possible entry next year though. I’ve also been making at least some progress in paying more guitar at home and honing my craft. Not as much as I’d like, but some. The new tranquil green cave in our condo is a warm and creative place.
I also acquired a few new pieces of software for my home studio which I’ve been loving and learning to use. It has inspired me to do something I’ve thought about for a long time. I’m doing my own version of “Tomorrow Never Knows” off of the Beatles’ album “Revolver”. The interesting thing about it is that I’m recreating all the parts (except Drums, vocals, and tambourine) with my super bitchin Variax Digital modeling guitar, and Pod XT Digital modeling amp/effects unit. I find this song not only a brilliant composition, but a brilliant feat of production. The entire song drones on one chord, with various strange little tape loops being faded in and out throughout the song. I’ve read stories about how when the album was recorded, due to technology limitations at the time (they only had 4 track machines), Gearge Martin had various interns standing all over Abbey Road studios, some in closets, holding tape loops on spinning on pencils as he faded them in and out, practically “playing” these loops as instruments. I’ve had a blast recreating these strange sounds on guitar. It’s coming along greatly.
On another front, inspired by Annika, I have become a Metroblogger for Austin. At first I was scared to sign up as they want people who can post more than 3 times a week. That seemed like a lot of pressure, but what what better way to get me writing creatively more often than an actual obligation? Supposedly I’m in the process of being added to the system over there and then the panic can begin.
Of course lately I’ve really been wanting to play WoW again…

The Evil Even Cthulhu Fears

Thanks to someone’s blog (or perhaps I should be cursing them), I saw something that had me wide eyed and slack jawed in its horror. Proof that Disney is a soul devouring machine of pure condensed powdered evil. I found myself appalled, and yet I couldn’t stop listening. As each consecutive clip played, I wished I could burn my own ears with a red hot poker until they were solid masses of flesh which could not be further violated. Instead I bolstered myself, summoning my strength of inner will to shake off the effects of this travesty and instead face this dark material; look this beast in the face to gain what knowledge and understanding I could without being cowed. I faced it and came out stronger, more knowledgeable of this insipid horror like some Lovecraftian hero who must be able to face monsters and demons and look them in the face to know their world and learn how to defeat them. Mark Mothersbaugh, why have you forsaken us?

Too much good TV!

There’s a subject line I never thought I’d type. For a long time there wasn’t much on TV that we watched. Usually just a handful of programs. This last season has been one of our busiest. Many of the shows we started watching to see if they would be any good, ended up canceled (Nightstalker, Threshold) while we still have many more that we are watching. I would say that a very large chunk of shows that we now watch were discovered in hindsight. We let everyone else suffer through the crap and wait to see what seems to consistently rise to the top. Eventually there are always certain shows that we can’t seem to escape. Everywhere we turn, we hear or read constant praise. When this happens and we finally decide that we must check out this show that everyone’s raving about, we will usually download or Netflix all the previous episodes, get caught up and then start recording new episodes as they air. This is how 24, Lost, House, Veronica Mars, Battlestar Galactica and possibly a few other shows came to be in our regular watching schedule (if you want to get technical, I think we actually caught up with BSG when they re-ran all of season 1 before season 2 began).
Our latest addition is Arrested Development. As with most of the other shows, I had been subtly inundated like Chinese water torture with references to how great this show was. I was always reading about how, despite its greatness, it was on the verge of cancellation because television can’t possibly let something good and original survive. Only the most cookie-cutter, bland, lowest denominator pablum was fit for our airwaves! When I heard it was canceled, I decided to finally give in and check it out because now I knew there was a finite quantity, and therefore I wouldn’t be investing myself into another indefinite television relationship (the small irony of that being now that I’m watching it, there are rumors that some other networks may pick it up).
I gotta say, I think it’s worthy of every nugget of praise that has ever been lodged into my brain. Very original and hilarious.
A few other grains of sand which have settled in my oyster hoping to irritate their way to making pearls are Scrubs and Deadwood.
With Deadwood, we don’t get HBO, so we have no choice but to download or wait for DVDs. Catching up and watching live isn’t really an option. We’ll see if Scrubs is persistent enough to break my resolve. Usually, once I’m aware of a program’s presence in my psyche, it’s only a matter of time before I give it a go. We shall see.

Arr! Pirate Booty!

Many of you have probably heard of “collectible card games”, the most popular one being “Magic: The Gathering.” After Magic became such a huge hit, everyone on the face of the planet was mandated to put out their own CCG, 99% of which quickly faded into obscurity. Well I’ve just stumbled upon something even cooler. A “Constructible Strategy Game” and even better yet, it’s all about pirates! I present to you “Pirates”. Each pack contains everything you need to play: cards that you punch pieces out of to construct your 3-D pirate ships, a punch out island, treasure tokens, crew member tokens, and instructions. It’s a simple little game that looks like it could be a lot of fun. It’s similar to the “CCG’s in that there’s a whole list of ships and crew members which you try and “collect” ranging in rarity. Their website has a lot of great information including a flash animated set of instructions and game examples. We just bought a couple of packs and will probably end up with one or two packs from each expansion. Check it out!

I’m a lemming!

Because I haven’t updated in quite some time, and really don’t have much to say, instead I’ll jump into the latest thing going around my friends’ blogs!

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Heath!

  1. White chocolate isn’t technically chocolate, because it doesn’t contain Heath.
  2. In 1982 Time Magazine named Heath its ‘Man of the Year’.
  3. Heath is the world’s tallest woman!
  4. If you lick Heath ten times, you will consume one calorie.
  5. You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching Heath.
  6. The Eskimos have over fifty words for Heath!
  7. Donald Duck’s middle name is Heath.
  8. A chimpanzee can learn to recognize itself in a mirror, but Heath can not!
  9. Until the 1960s, Heath was not allowed to enter Disneyland.
  10. Heath was first discovered by Alexander the Great in India, and introduced to Europe on his return.
I am interested in – do tell me about

Interesting that even though I told it I am male, I am the world’s tallest woman. This also means that Chainsaw and I must be the same height, and Donald duck has a LOT of middle names.

TiVo Upgrade part 2

I know that probably no one who normally reads my blog has any interest in these posts, but I like to document certain things for my own sake, and the sake of anyone Googling for info.
When we moved into the condo, a new problem presented itself. The TiVo, which needs to make a daily call to update its information, had no phone jacks anywhere near it. Not even any that were in a location that could have been used with our 50′ phone cable which was used in the apartment to run across one doorway and around the edge of the room to the phone jack. It would have had to run across our main entryway and kitchen doorway into the kitchen where the nearest jack was. No way. It was time for the great TiVo Upgrade, part two.
I had always intended to this upgrade at some point, but could never be bothered to unhook the TiVo and take it apart, buy the parts I needed, etc., since everything was fine as it was in the old place. Since I knew we needed to do it now, I just left the TiVo unhooked after the move. The first upgrade I had done was adding a second hard drive to increase its capacity to 40 hours of recording at the best quality setting. I love TiVo but I think their naming conventions are deceptive. A “30-hour TiVo” is only 30 hours at the crappiest quality setting, which was unbearable to me. At best quality, it was more like a 6 hour TiVo.
For round 2, I decided to install a CacheCard. I had also other options, but this seemed to be the best. I could put a 512 MB stick of RAM on the card to cache the TiVo’s database, thus speeding up the access to menus and certain operations, plus the card also had an ethernet connection on it. Since there are also no ethernet jacks in the living room, I also bought a Linksys wireless bridge to connect to the TiVo and give it access to our wireless network to make its daily “call”. I followed all the instructions for backing up my TiVo and installing the CacheCard and drivers, and that part all went flawlessly. I had various fiascoes in the wireless bridge department, but that’s another story not worth the telling. Eventually I got it all working, and now my TiVo makes its “call” via wireless networking, which has the added advantage of being a LOT faster than the phone call, too.
I figured as long as I was tweaking, I might as well also install Tivoweb Plus. Now I can also access my TiVo via the web to do anything I can do on the TiVo itself, plus far more. Mine is an old school Series 1 TiVo (the modern ones are Series 2 at the time of this writing), and sadly a lot of the cool new features (such as TiVo’s own multimedia network functions) will never be available on Series 1 units, but since I’ve done all this upgrading, and since I bought the lifetime subscription (which has long since paid for itself) I’ll be sticking with unit. To be honest it does everything I need it to do, and while I love bells and whistles, I certainly don’t feel like I’m really missing out.