Friday, August 29, 2008

Ladiemens And Gentlemens, My Endorsement Goes To…

Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Why? Well you might ask, as I have been critical of Obama in the past here at Memphis Evans: The Blog. Here's the deal.

A person I know who is decidedly not a Republican got invited to a Republican fundraising event starring John Can'tthinkoflastnameanditdoesn'tmatter from Five For Fighting. Ultimately, my friend decided she could not go because the Republicans are ramping up the anti-gay-marriage and anti-choice rhetoric.

There are issues that are more important to me (school funding for one) but somehow gay marriage really just seems perfectly fine to me. And people who are against it seem fundamentally misguided at best. It seems like people who are against gay marriage are the same people who would have been against the abolition of slavery. I simply can find no reasonable argument against gay marriage. And I have personally known gay people who were sad because they couldn't get married.

So as far as I know neither candidate actually fully endorses gay marriage (which would probably be political death) but my understanding is that a McCain administration will try to amend the constitution to prohibit it for all time. That's such a bad idea for so many reasons, both conservative and liberal, that I now half-heartedly announce my complete endorsement of:

Barack Obama and Joe Biden for President and Vice-President of the United States.

There. Now we can all be done with it. I won't read or watch or blog any more about it if you won't. Deal?

(Incidentally, I tried to visit Obama's web site to research his position on gay marriage. A visit to www.barackobama.com yielded no meaningful content, only a way to sign up with my e-mail address, zip code, watch a video, and make a donation. Sigh. We're going to lose again, aren't we? Dammit.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Asyntactical Glory, Books, Etc.

I love the person and/or computer who/that writes the descriptions of shows and movies that appear on the Netflix DVD sleeves. If you have Netflix and you don't read the DVD sleeves you are depriving yourself. If you don't have Netflix then you probably accomplish a lot more with your life than I. Anyway, here it is, a description of the Showtime show Queer As Folk. (Which my wife puts in the queue, by the way. Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

"This hit series tackles issues other shows avoid with refreshing honesty."

In case you didn't laugh at that, what I like about it is the idea that the phrase "with refreshing honesty" modifies the way in which other shows avoid certain issues. It suggests that actually dealing with certain issues, like say by putting a hardcore gay sex dance club in Pittsburgh, is somehow dishonest. But you knew that. Why am I writing down to you today, blog? Here's how simple this entry could have been:

I love the person and/or computer who/that writes the descriptions of shows and movies that appear on the Netflix DVD sleeves. This is only the latest example.

"This hit series tackles issues other shows avoid with refreshing honesty."

Simple. Awesome.

---------------------------------------

Here are (should that be here is?) some books I've really enjoyed lately:

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Here's a tip: If, like me, you've never read the book before or by some miracle never had it analyzed to death in some class, DON'T READ the introduction, analysis, etc. I never do this anyway and thank God. E.M. Forster's introduction (which I read only after the book itself) completely gives away all the major plot points. Duh! More like E.M. FARTster.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

I guess they will serve at least until I get Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Genesis Wave: Book One by John Vornholdt in the mail. Would you believe my local library did not have that? I recommended they purchase it, seeing as how they have the other three Genesis Wave books. I wish there had been a subtitle for each book in this series so they would have had four colons in the titles instead of only three. Oh well.

The scourge of the original cast (soon to be original original cast as of Memorial Day 2009) in the second movie meets the crew of the second TV show. How can it not be magical?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Reader Participation

I usually find riddles colossally irritating, but the following occurred to me so I have created a riddle for you:

The more of me you take away
The more space I occupy
And if you take all that I am
I never then can die
What am I?

Send in your answers.

------------------------------

Absolutes: Episode 3

Begin debate on the following list:

Top Ten Fictional Characters of All Time

1. Data
2. Spock
3. Kirk
4. Mulder
5. Scully
6. Picard
7. Jack
8. Piggy
9. Osama Bin Laden
10. Ralph

Honorable mention:
The North-Going Zax
Sylvester McMonkey McBean
The Unnamed Protagonist of Green Eggs and Ham

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rockthrow

Hey, let me tell you about a great band I saw! Is that an appealing sentence to you? Are you reading on? Are you looking for a band to like? Well Rockthrow is that band.

I got their (apparently self-released) two-albums-in-one package with Songs From Big Lever and Brought To You By Bosso. I've only listened to the first disc but it is great. The well written songs are catchy and meaningful with arrangements that don't all sound the same but are not totally overblown either. Great backup vocals that sound influenced by the Beatles chime in every so often.

The music and indeed the band itself is shrouded in a self-made, blue-collar mythology built around the town of Big Lever in Wyoming's Mud Flap County, a map of which is the cover of the album. All lyrics are included, as is a description of the highs and lows available to a person in Mud Flap County. Bosso Enterprises controls it all and more or less represents "The Man". The album has very professional looking photos, artwork, and text, not always a guarantee with the bands I have personally met or, uh, been in.

When I saw them live they were really good. My friends and I were singing along with their catchy hooks by the end of the first times we'd ever heard their songs, by which I mean right then. So hey, check it out here and get "Big Hits of Big Lever" at iTunes or from the group:

http://www.bossoenterprises.com/rockthrow2.html

If you only buy one song, here are my recommendations:
Ruby of The West (country)
Heavy Load (story song country)
Cry For Your Milk (sentimental over parenting, '50s rock waltz)
Kome Kaya (faux authentic folk comedy)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Schrodinger's Data CD

Downstairs in my studio is a data CD that either completely finished being written and verified or was interrupted in the middle by some error message. I have an ancient (c. 1997) computer that has a stand-alone CD burner on a SCSI chain. I have many, many gigabytes of recording session and audio data I am making a real effort to back up all of. I try reinstalling Toast, the program I use to burn data CDs. I try updating the firmware of the burner. I pore over the extensions set I use when creating data CDs to make sure nothing is competing with the CD burner. (Sometimes the burner has caused the whole thing to freeze if I leave the native Mac CD-ROM drive extension on.) Are you as bored of all this technobabble as I am?

Anyway, the point is that downstairs is the result of today's naptime efforts at the mundane gruntwork of musical endeavor. Sadly, it will determine my mood for the evening to some extent. It will determine how affectionate and playful I have the energy and patience to be with the kids when they get up from their naps. Shall I go check it? Yes, I shall. How could I leave you all hanging?

The drive reported an error:
Sense Key = HARDWARE ERROR
Sense Code = 0x09, 0x02
FOCUS SERVO FAILURE

But it was "finishing" when it reported this error, so it's possible the disc will work. I restarted the computer after changing my extensions so I can put the disc in question in the native Mac CD-ROM drive (which doesn't have a burning capability, btw) and check it with Norton Utilities Disk Doctor. (It's starting up and I'm also helping toddler go potty, so I had a moment to type here. Hang on.)

Disc lead out failed to be written, so the computer freezes when it gets the CD all up in its drive. It tries and fails to read it and can not do anything until I press the manual eject button. Perhaps unwisely, I am going to try inserting it into this rather more modern computer I'm using right this second. I'll post this first and log off the internet just in case. Stay tuned if you care.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dream I Had Last Night

I dreamed I lived in a stone fortress but with modern windows. I had the kids. We were under ground assault by the helmeted TIE fighter pilots from Star Wars. I got the girls away from the windows. All I had was a muzzle-loading mid-size rifle. I also had very high walls. I started shooting and felt tremendous joy as I realized the attackers were dying from my perfect, single, head shots.

On a railingless precipice, I faced an attacker who had scaled a wall and turned into Steve Martin. I shot him once in the forehead with one of the steel marbles at my precision command and, laughing, he fell several stories to his death. My family was safe. I woke up and took care of them for real.

Screw The Fan

Hey, Bob Dylan has a new collection of previously unreleased material coming out. This happens every couple of years and what it means that I get all excited until I see how Sony has screwed it up. How have they screwed this one up?

There's a 2 disc version for $18.99. Good so far. Now, if you want the third disc with 12 more previously unreleased tracks (which of course I do) the price shoots up to 129.99. Come on! I love Bob and his music has meant more to me than I can even explain, but I'm seriously thinking of not buying this at all.

How about a 3 disc version without all the extra junk for around $40? I'd buy that. Shoot, I would have pre-ordered that sensible, imaginary product as soon as I got the e-mail about it!

The Holy Grail: Iced Tea at McDonald's

Twice in the last three days I have tried to order "Iced Tea" at McDonald's only to receive "Hi-C". The second time I enunciated as clearly as possible with a large separation between words. Can YOU get Iced Tea at McDonald's without sounding like a jerk by specifying that you want "Ah-iy-ss-d.......T-eeee", not "Hhhh-iiiii......SSSeeeeee"? I bet not.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Musings on Saturn

Here are the statistics on "Lord of the Flies" at my local library:

Reservable copies: 41 Current Requests: 0

I have never read it either, which is why I was going to get it. That made me sad. Wanna be sadder? Read on:

Statistics for "The Secret":

Reservable copies: 49 Current Requests: 7

Oh, okay. That's not quite the epic contrast between a never-read classic and an in-demand popular wisp of nothing that I was going for. That reminds me.

Does anyone remember a live beer commercial with a man dressed as an NFL referee "officiating" at a taste test in which the beer sponsoring the commercial was soundly beaten by the challenger and the man had to somehow control his embarassment as the commercial ended? I do, but I don't know if that really happened or not. Anyway,

Heart of darkness / Joseph Conrad:

Reservable copies: 24 Current Requests: 0

It would seem I am not alone in never having read certain classics I am now getting to.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ten Things I Have Learned Recently

For the very special 100th blog post here at Memphis Evans: The Blog, I have compiled a special list of things I have learned recently. I was thinking about how the human race stumbles through time, barely able to pass its knowledge along to the next generation. I hope that the information contained in this special centennial post will be part of the solution.

10. The coffee at the Burger King in Woodbury, MN is served far, far too hot and will leave a burn on your mouth that will last a week or so.

9. If you must eat a sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich in the morning, the muffin has a lot less cholesterol, fat, saturated fat, and sodium than the biscuit.

8. In my neighborhood, there are a lot more people running at 7 a.m. than at 8 a.m.

7. Also in my neighborhood, if you leave a pile of logs out by the street with a piece of paper with FREE written on it, the whole thing will disappear in less than a day – paper and wood both.

6. A new 24" monitor receiving a video card signal from a 1997 PowerMac 9600 as adapted through a Unimac 82D with A on 3,4,5 and B on 8 results in a 640 x 480 pixel, giant, sharp cartoon that looks like Mac OS 8.6 For Babies in which, paradoxically and counterintuitively, nothing quite fits on your screen.

5. Monlight Majhong for the iPhone, combined with a caffeinated drink after dinnertime, results in a situation in which I must force myself, using all available willpower, to go to bed at 2:43 a.m. instead of staying up even later.

4. There are not really any good, meaningful anagrams of my name.

3. Eating several pieces of fruit-shaped candy, nachos with jalapeno slices, salsa and refried beans, then a one-and-a-half-pound turkey leg will create some problems I won't go in to here. (Experiments to determine exactly which element caused the problems are a low priority and thank God I didn't have the gin & tonic I considered ordering.)

2. The bright little blood colored red dots that appear on people's skin are there because of "excessive vasculature" - a term that sounds cool. Vasculature. (I also just this second learned that blogger.com's automatic spellchecker does not know the cool term "vasculature.")

1. If you have someone in your band who plays the saxophone and the flute, you need to have either more than one microphone or a dedicated soundperson to change the volume of the signal of your woodwind specialist.

Isaac Hayes 1942-2008

Sometimes people ask me, "Why are you named Memphis?" Short answer: The music. And I feel sad that one of Memphis' best has died. Isaac Hayes helped make Memphis, Tennessee what it is: the greatest music town ever, anywhere. Big Star, Alex Chilton, Elvis Presley, American Studios, Stax Records, Ardent Studios, Sun Studios, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Reverend Al Green, Gibson Guitars...

And of course, a big, old, honest-to-God, leatherbound, bible-lookin' BOOK for marriage registration. No computers in downtown Meffis for something that is, after all, sacred. The guy wrote our names in it with a pen, friends. That's after he asked the geography questions kind of fast - our "sobriety test" he called it. Love it. R.I.P. I.H. You were a bad motha...

(Shut 'cho mouth!)

Friday, August 08, 2008

An Interview With Hume Cronyn

Memphis Evans: Hello and welcome to "Memphis Evans: The Blog". Thank you for coming today.

Hume Cronyn: You're welcome. Glad to be here, Sneaky! That's what I'm gonna call ya, 'cuz you look sneaky to me, okay?

ME: Sure. Let's talk about the partnership for which you are best known. Your work with Jessica Tandy, both on and offscreen, was graceful, intelligent, sensual, and, although she preceeded you in death by almost nine years, eternal.

HC: Uh...I'm not sure what you're talkin' about, Sneaks.

ME: According to imdb.com you made a whopping 37 films together. Strangely enough, while I could easily find information on the films, I could not find the story of how the two of you met. Will you share that with me?

HC: Made films? I mean, met who? You're goin' over my head here, Sneaky. Heh, heh.

ME: That is delightful. Hume, what was your favorite role?

HC: Are you makin' fun of me? I don't have to sit here and listen to this. Dick? Dick? Karl? Somebody? Where'd Dick go?

ME: I can see why that would appeal to you and I thought your performance was spectacular - a bellwether of restrained emotion and hard-won dignity. Any projects currently on the burner?

HC: Projects? I don't have to sit here and listen to this. I'm the President of the United States. When you mess with Texas, you get the horns! Fuck you, Sneaky Memphis, and the horse you wrote in on.

ME: Thanks for stopping by, Mr. Cronyn. I've enjoyed getting to know you better.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Onion: News Before It Happens

I remember when the current doofus-in-charge was put in to the white house. The Onion ran a story saying Bush would all but ruin the United States. This was not a terribly remarkable feat of prognostication, but I find it notable in light of its perhaps less obvious yet equally predictive fake companions. And as I'm re-reading it I realize that the way they got the details right is kind of remarkable.

Later The Onion created a fake story about how the rest of U2 was embarassed by Bono. About six months later a real story came out about how U2 had almost broken up because of Bono's extra-curricular activities. You can look all that up yourself if you want or just believe me and read on.

They did it again recently and this time I'm here with both links.

Onion story (July 24, 2008)

Yahoo! News story (August 4, 2008)

Truly, The Onion is America's Finest News Source.