dxmachina: (Music)


That's Tennessee Thomas on drums behind Elvis, daughter of Costello's long-time drummer, Pete Thomas, who's also there. You don't usually see female drummers backing iconic male rock stars. Daddy taught her well.

Sweep!

Oct. 5th, 2008 11:58 am
dxmachina: (Koufax2)
For the Cub fans out there, one of the finest baseball songs ever written, Steve Goodman's "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request":



The Dodgers polished off the Cubs last night, 3-1, sweeping the series. Because the media was so invested in the Cubs as a team with a hundred year-old destiny, most of the stories about the series are going to be about how the Cubs choked, but if the Cubs choked on anything it was the pitches the Dodgers pitching staff were shoving down their collective throat. Just a tremendous performance by the team as a whole and the pitchers in particular.

And it was not really as much of a surprise as some in the media are making it out to be. Yes, the Dodgers were mediocre (or worse) for much of the season. But this is a much different team than the one that limped along through May, June, and July. Much has been said about the trades that brought Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake to the team, but there were a lot of other differences, as well. For one, Andruw Jones was finally shown the bench after posting one of the ten worst performances by a batter in the history of baseball. Juan Pierre was likewise shunted aside in favor of Kemp and/or Ethier. The return of Rafael Furcal, on the DL with back surgery from the beginning of May until just last week, finally plugs the enormous sucking offensive hole at shortstop that opened up in his absence.

Meanwhile, the pitching has been the best in the National League, something the media seems to keep missing in all the caterwauling about the collapse of the Cubs. This excellence has been especially so since Brad Penny finally admitted that he'd been hiding shoulder problems all season so as not to hurt his chances at a contract extension. He was unceremoniously dumped onto the 60 day DL to make room for Furcal.

All this leaves the roster the strongest its been all season. The season was incredibly frustrating until about a month ago, But right now it's a fun time to be a Dodger fan.
dxmachina: (Music)
Raining a lot outside.



Apart from some individual songs, I wasn't much into glam back in the day. Or even much today, but I do like this one, "Ballroom Blitz" by the Sweet. There's some nifty drumming, and it's got the over the top vocal bridge by the bass player. I mostly remember the Sweet for one of the worst songs ever inflicted on me back in my college days, "Little Willie."
dxmachina: (Koufax)
Jon at Dodger Thoughts posted this clip of Vin Scully's first reaction to seeing phenom Clayton Kershaw's curve ball. The kid is just nineteen. My first reaction is up there in the title.

Public Enemy #1 )


dxmachina: (Music)
It's lightly snowing outside, but I've got a chicken and some taters and carrots roasting in the oven, and Belle and Sebastian on my computer.

Video behind the curtain... )
I just wish the last hadn't been marred by the guy taking the two snapshots in the middle. It's otherwise very good for home concert video. Love the song.
dxmachina: (Music)
No band ever sounded like they were having more fun than the Traveling Wilburys.



And a couple more, "Handle with Care" and "End of the Line". Terrific vocal work, especially from Roy Orbison, who died not long after recording them.
dxmachina: (Schoeder 02)
So how often has this happened to you? You're walking through a big box store, say a Home Depot, and a song you don't ever recall hearing before comes over the PA system and completely grabs you. Yeah, me neither. At least not till yesterday, when I spent a good couple of minutes just standing in the tool department of the local Depot listening to this song, especially its killer chorus, trying to latch onto a lyric fragment that I could google later on to track the song down. The only thing I was sure of was that the band had to be from Texas.

Deep in the heart of... )
dxmachina: (Music)
More music from youtube, this time inspired by Teppy's posting of an "It's too hot" summertime playlist.

I'd like to help you son, but you're too young to vote... )
dxmachina: (Music)
Well, it took awhile, but I finally got sucked into Youtube. Last Saturday night it suddenly occurred to me that I might find some Kinks and other favorites videos there, and the next thing I knew it was two in the morning. Sure, the quality is abysmal on a lot of them, but there's still some of decent stuff. As long as the sound quality is good, I'm fine.

Lost in the Tubes... )
---
Still no rain; still sauna-like outside. On the good side, I managed to sleep in until 7:30 this morning. I guess being ridiculously tired has some advantages.
dxmachina: (Calvin)
Posted by Jon B. over at b.org:

Celine does AC/DC...

The air guitar makes it perfect.

Still better than the State of the Union speech.
dxmachina: (Hangover)
It's a lovely, sunny day, a nice change after the torrents of rain that fell yesterday. I may have to venture outside later.

Come on, let's get something to eat. I'm thirsty. -- Nick Charles

Watched After the Thin Man last night, which picks up a couple of days after The Thin Man ends. There's a very young James Stewart along for the ride in this one, and it's interesting to watch how much better of an actor he is than the rest of the supporting cast (or, at least, how different his style is). I figured out whodunnit before Nick did, mostly because the camera work telegraphs the fact that an odd non sequitur is actually the key clue. I didn't especially buy the motive, and I'm not sure the chain of events for the first murder as shown would actually allow it, which is my main quibble. Another quibble is that Stewart's character obstructs justice, and admits it to the police early on, but the police don't seem to care. Then there's the original murder plot, which seems like something Wile E. Coyote would think of. And nobody seems to know whether they're right-handed or left-handed. Nick holds his gun left-handed, but uses telephones with either hand. Nora's cousin, the prime suspect, picks up a gun with her right hand, shoves it in her right pocket, but later holds it in her left hand. There's even a bit of oddball trivia, in that the chanteuse is played by Penny Singleton, who would later go on to be the voice of Jane Jetson.

It's all good fun. Asta gets his own plot line, there's an interesting group of characters, and Nick and Nora are the best couple ever. What could be better?

I've also watched all of Wonderfalls and the complete Jeeves and Wooster, and it occurs to me that they are quite alike. They both have rudderless lead characters, and puzzle piece plots that rely upon the lead character being directed into courses of action that make them look foolish in the effort to accomplish much good for everyone else.

You can't be a successful dictator *and* design women's underclothing. -- Bertie Wooster
 
dxmachina: (Xmas)
...And I seem to have finished my shopping, at least the part where I have to venture into retail stores. Newbury's came through last night for both of my brothers (mostly because they are each getting essentially the same thing), Sam's came through for a couple of sisters with freshly minted Serenity DVDs, and the good folks at Hickory Farms were there for my BiLs. (Side note - I have a terrible time thinking of stuff for my brothers, and even more so for my BiLs. The BiLs get short shrift, I'm afraid.) I do still need to get a couple of gift cards for the eldest nephew and niece. I have no frelling clue about teenagers.

I still need to make a couple of food based things, and I'm still working on a DVD project. That hit a huge snag the other night when Windows Movie Maker decided to stop working properly for no reason I could fathom. It was suddenly incredibly difficult to use the editing functions because the response had slowed down to a crawl, even to the point of freezing. Then, when I actually finished editing a clip and tried to save it, WMM would save the clip, and then continue to save the entire AVI file I'd pulled the clip from along with it. I tried defragmenting the drive, allocating more virtual memory, and everything else I could think of. No joy. It was driving me crazy. Then I found a post on a help forum for WMM that mentioned conflicts with video filters for other applications. I went into WMM's options, and turned off every external video filter. Everything was suddenly working again. Happy, happy, joy, joy, but I was muchly puzzled. I hadn't changed any settings, or installed any new software. Why did they kick in like that. Then I looked at what was in there, and saw a couple of filters for Nero, and remembered that I'd had to update Nero over the weekend. Aha! Stoopid Nero must've installed new filters during the update. The really dumb thing about all this is that as near as I can tell, WMM doesn't even use the filters for anything, which makes me wonder what the frell they're doing there in the first place.

---
Hee-Seop re-signed with the Dodgers for $750K. The offense is looking pretty good. In fact, we now have too many position players. It has been mentioned elsewhere that Neddy should've signed people in the reverse order. If he had done so, perhaps either Saenz and/or Mueller wouldn't have gotten offers. OTOH, it's possible some of the later signings never would've happened if Neddy hadn't shown his desire to improve the team by signing those guys. Now we've got a surplus. There's only one outfield spot left for Jason Repko, Jayson Werth, and newcomer Andre Ethier, and only one infield spot for Oscar Robles and Willy Aybar. It's a good problem to have, unless you happen to be one of the players involved. Werth will probably get the outfield slot, unless he's still injured come spring. Robles and Aybar is tougher. Robles is experienced, a better fielder, and more versatile. Aybar is a lot younger, and looks to be a better hitter based on his stellar September. Not an easy choice.
dxmachina: (Xmas)
It's been a weekend full of odds and ends. I haven't really gotten much into the spirit of the season yet. I haven't played any Christmas music, and had only watched a few Christmassy things prior to the weekend. I haven't even done what little decorating I usually do. I hung up the few cards that have arrived so far, but that's about it. Maybe I'll go upstairs and get the wreath for my front door out when I'm done with this. I've done some shopping, but there's much more to be done. I suspect a lot of people will be getting gift cards.

Yesterday morning I finally finished designing a Christmas card. It's a bit different from others I've done in that I used an image I found on the web as a base, rather than one I took myself. Not especially happy about that part of it. I need to get out and take some photos. Anyway, I headed into work to use the color laser printer. Ya know, someday some bright engineer will design a printer that can print something from the bypass feeder without sucking an additional three sheets of cardstock most of the way through the works, too. Since it hasn't happened yet, I spent two hours feeding the blank cards through the system one at a time. Still, I got them printed, wrote most of them, printed addresses on the envelopes, and put stamps on 'em. Then I went to the post office, which turned out to have closed fifteen minutes earlier. So I put them in the mailbox out front, so they'll be whisked on their way first thing tomorrow. Well most of them. I also ran out of stamps, so I have to get some more to mail the rest.

I spent the rest of the day, and most of today fiddling with DVD authoring software. I have Nerovision Express, which came with my burner. It's easy to use in terms of adding and arranging clips and chapters, but is totally braindead when it comes to setting up the menus. I hunted around for something better that wouldn't cost me anything, but the one package I tried was harder to use, and no less braindead. I was able to find an upgrade from Nero that addressed one of the dead lobes, and that plus another workaround was able to allow me to do something close to what I wanted, so I went that way. It took a few tries to get it all right, but it worked.

The main problem with all this is that it takes two to three hours for the software to do all the encoding on each iteration of the project, so there was a lot of waiting around to do. I filled the time last night watching Christmas specials. First up was A Christmas Story, which was the first time I've popped in the DVD that came with the leg lamp my sisters got me last Christmas. (No, I do not have it set up in the front window.) Then I watched A Wish for Wings That Work with Opus and Bill. One of the best Christmas specials ever, and it's never shown. So much good stuff, including Robin Williams as a lovesick kiwi with wing envy. There are so many good lines:

I have no need for a sidekick, sir, but still he'd like to be my best buddy. But then stink bugs would like to dance the watusi in my shorts, too. I mean, you gotta draw the line somewhere.

I finished up with Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, still one of my favorites. Which is odd, because I never was a fan of the Magoo shorts. Even when I was little I never thought the one-note joke of his nearsightedness was especially funny. Fortunately, there's not much of it here. This was the first version of A Christmas Carol I ever saw, and I love it to pieces, even if it does take certain liberties. (The first time I saw the Alastair Sim version, the presence of Scrooge's nephew bothered me immensely, because he didn't appear in the Magoo version.) There are some truly memorable songs in it, too, especially Jack Cassidy doing "Whitest, Brightest Christmas." I need to go get myself a copy on DVD. I also need to watch the George C. Scott version. I haven't seen it in years. I did see Captain Picard's version for the first time a few nights ago. I didn't like it as much as some of the others.

Today I flipped on the tube just in time to catch the start of Fellowship of the Ring, and I took it as a cue to watch the extended version instead. Then I watched the Two Towers, and now I've just started the Return of the King. Another kind of Christmastime tradition. Still in love with Eowyn.

The wreath is up. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
dxmachina: (Default)
It's sunny and above freezing here, despite the little dusting of snow we got last night. Hooray! Yesterday was also sunny, but colder.

I spent much of yesterday attacking the second law of thermodynamics, i.e., trying to reverse entropy as it applies to the various and sundry items inside my house. I mean, I'm a guy. I have a very high tolerance for clutter, dust, and uncleanliness, but even I have my limits, and I've reached them. My house looks like a bunch of thugs from a Chandler novel came in and ransacked the place. Started in the backroom, which was piled high with half empty boxes of books, what remained after finally shelving stuff. So, I moved that clutter into the living room, which is the staging area for the attic, took the laundry downstairs to be washed, sorted and stored piles and piles of comic books, dusted, vacuumed, and generally picked up stuff. I got a nice little rug for it (on clearance at Wal-Mart for $3), so I won't have to put my feet straight onto cold hardwood flooring first thing in the morning.

I also replaced my bedside lamp. The lamp I had was one I'd made decades ago using a lamp-making kit and an old wine jug. The bulb socket fixture has been loosening to the point where I was starting to fear electrocution whenever I turned it on or off, so I found a nice little turned wood lamp at Wal-Mart for $10. I also had to get a shade for it, and here I ran into a problem. Or maybe not so much a problem as mild future shock. The last time I bought a lampshade, probably fifteen years ago or so, it attached to the lamp in the same way lampshades had as long as I can remember. You had a spring clip on the shade that clipped directly onto the lightbulb, easy peasy. Apparently, you can't buy those anymore, at least not at Wal-Mart. I presume someone broke a bulb with one and sued. Which would also explain why there were a gazillion warning stickers on the lamp itself. Instead, the shade had this round fitting suspended down about where the lightbulb would be, and I stood there wondering for a bit if the damn thing was just supposed to balance on top of the bulb somehow. Despite the gazillion warning labels, there weren't any instructions on how to actually assemble the parts. I finally noticed that the bulb socket had been redesigned as well, and hey, the fitting on the shade snuggles down nicely onto it. So you have to put the shade on first, before you install the lightbulb. Of course this all means that all the zillions of lamps out there with the old style socket can't use any of the shades being marketed today. Gotta love planned obsolescence.

While I was cleaning and straightening, I was also making bread in the machine. I had a box of assorted bread machine mixes, so I tried one of those, a honey-wheatberry mix. I'd had these for awhile, and the last time I made one, it didn't rise at all, so I figured the supplied yeast had expired. This time I used fresh yeast instead of the included packet, and it still resulted in a perfectly formed brick. Bother. It wasn't the yeast, because last night I made up a loaf of my maple oatmeal bread from scratch, and it worked like a charm. It produced a great loaf of bread. Still despite the brick, the house did smell like fresh bread for several hours. Then I made beef burgundy, which simmered for three hours, and the house smelled like stew. It was as if Glade had produced a comfort scent or something.

Also did some video editing later on for a little project that I'm working on, and that worked out fine. The problem I have there is that I don't do it very often, so I constantly have to relearn stuff that I figured out last time I did it. Very frustrating, that.

And now it's off to Chez Virago-Bug for the afternoon. Later.
dxmachina: (Default)
Speedy is up and running. Installed ULead Video Studio SE, applied all the patches, updated Direct X, and attached the camcorder. Sonuvagun, it actually worked. Well, sort of.

I took about twenty-five minutes of video at the F2F party. The first time I tried to capture the video, iteverything was going fine, but it cut out after 20 minutes, which turns out to be maximum file size. No problem. The second time, I stopped capturing at about fifteen minutes, after the end of the theremin show. The resulting avi file was over 3GB in size. Woo. The file was fine, except that it was much darker than what was showing on the camcorder monitor. The video is dark to begin with, but what was showing on the computer monitor was really dark. There were occasional sound glitches, too. Video Studio has no settings for brightness or contrast. I installed Adobe Premiere, which does have such settings, but wasn't able to figure out how to use them. To be honest, neither program is particularly user transparent, but Premiere is about as opaque as I suppose PhotoShop is to a beginner, aka, me.

No matter, I was just fooling around at this point, so I decided to try and make a VCD out of what I had, and see how that looked. Used Video Studio to convert the avi file to MPEG1, which shrank it from 3GB to about 140MB, then burned it to a CD with Nero. Stuck the disk in the Sampo. and it worked. Wow!

The quality of the image sucks, though, compared to the tape, or even the avi. The avi is dark, but there is plenty of resolution there. The mpg and resulting VCD are blotchy, and what little color there was is very washed out. OTOH, the image on the tv screen is about as bright as the original. I'm not sure what to do next. It may just be easier to distribute the video on VHS than as a VCD. I need to talk to somebody who's done this before.

Gorgeous day, but I really didn't feel all that well, so I didn't go outside at all. Did go out last night to the Camp Canada planning party at Marnie's. Had lots of fun supervising the little kids with Shane and Alka at the playground while the rest of the adults were playing volleyball. Later, we talked about the trip. Way fewer people going this year than last, only thirteen adults and four kids. The trip is going to be a long one, about eight hours to drive up, and I have nobody to share the ride with this year. Oh well, it's not like I don't drive everywhere else in the world by myself. Woulda been nice to have some company, though. Got to remember to arrange for some kind of vehicle tomorrow.

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