Saturday, October 28, 2006

End of an Era

I just returned from a last minute trip to Indiana with my father. The reason for going was the death of my great uncle Charlie Holladay, his wife Snooky having died four months before. With his death, the last of my grandparents generation on my father's side is gone. It was a good funeral and I really appreciated the VFW Legion honor guard at the grave side. Charlie was a good man who grew up under very rough circumstances and probably had every excuse given to him to turn out bad. Instead, he was the kind of man who rescued wounded pigeons and abandoned animals, taking care of them for as long as they needed. An avid hunter and fisherman, he was a crack shot with the .22 rifle as many a deceased redtail hawk could testify (they killed pigeons so they ended up on his bad side). Never to be parted from his ballcap, he was a stubborn and proud man, but not in any harmful way. He is survived by his daughters Elaine and Lynette, plus his many siblings he helped raise.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

White Boy, err Redneck Blues?

Well, I took another frivolous web test, this time to see if I'm Yankee or Southern. It is also known as the "Redneck Test" across the Net and I got this result:

55% Dixie. Barely in Dixie
Looks like nature won out over nurture, my ancestry being from Indiana and Kentucky, with stops farther South along the way.

Actually, this is a rather clever test based on regional linguistics. The advanced test is fun too, I scored a measly 52% Dixie on that.

Monday, October 16, 2006

White Boy Blues

I expected to be more nerdy, but maybe that NRA membership is having a transformative affect...

This and That

The good news is I'm functional again, but the catch is I'm playing catch up from the two weeks of being really ill. Add a whole lot going on that needs my attention and you have a neglected blog. My life will resume after November 7th, so I'll be working on writing of all kinds after that.

The big news is that I've given up on iTunes, Apple has completely botched version 7. Stuttering and popping playback, greatly increased slowness, and memory hogging turned out to be the tip of the iceberg. Some of my purchased music was corrupted on the disk from playback! Thanks to one very lucky eBay bid snaring a Samsung YP-Z5 1 GB MP3 player and I'm in the process of rating all my music in Windows Media Player 10. Good thing I was prudent enough to burn all my purchased iTunes music to CD's, the pain was ripping them to MP3 using CDex and Lame encoder. I'll be transferring my ratings for all my music for a month at this rate. One plus is that while the Samsung uses the same top rated Sigmatel chip for sound, the implementation is noticeably better. All sorts of background tracks in tunes are now audible with the same Sennheiser headphones, giving a lot more depth.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Health Update & What I'm Watching

For those few souls who wander through this blog, I'm not doing so good healthwise. Having run myself into the ground, I'm not rebounding at all this time and I couldn't have chosen a worse time for it. At least I've avoided bronchitis or pneumonia so far with the intent of being able to breath. Which is helpful in living, I've found. Worst thing about this bout of intensified illness has been the inability to read. This past week was the first time I've been able to even follow a storyline in TV shows or movies, so there has been little to no distractions.

Segue way to what TV shows I watch these days:

1. Stargate: SG1 and Stargate: Atlantis. New episodes start airing in March *sigh* but you can download episodes at iTunes.

Both are fun scifi shows with SG1 winding down as it was just getting going again. SG1 is fighting the Ori, ascended beings from another galaxy who draw power from their worshippers and who are out to dominate our galaxy. So far they have been unstoppable and the quest for the Saangral (Holy Grail) weapon that can kill them has brought the Arthurian mythos into Stargate.

Atlantis has been firing away on all cylinders this season with great character development and fantastic action -- sometimes even in the same episode. Common Ground will go down as one of the greatest Stargate episodes ever, mark my words. The cast has gelled completely and dark times are promised ahead for the heroes.

2. Eureka. Season Finale on Tuesday, hope it gets renewed.

Cross Twin Peaks, Northern Exposure, and the X-Files, then throw in constant satire and silliness and you have Eureka. Great characters, great one liners, and an underlying sweetness make this a fun show to watch. It is about a top secret town where America has gathered all its scientific geniuses to work together. In comes an average guy, a US Marshall with a criminal teenage daughter and he ends up as sheriff to this exceedingly strange town. In the pilot (can be gotten at iTunes), we are introduced to all of the cast except Stark, the quasi-villain of the show. There is true progression to the characters, so first impressions aren't always accurate.

3. Doctor Who. Starting the 2nd season of the new Who on SciFi this coming Friday

This update has been hit or miss, with the hits home runs and the misses being popups to the catcher. The underlying sexual metaphores are highly annoying, with the gay producer being heavy handed a lot of the time. Still, this has been a fun ride and the closest to family entertainment the Brits have put out in some time. Not for little kids due to the afore mentioned metaphores (and sometimes blatant dialogue). Watch for the return of the Cybermen in a new form and a heartbreaking final episode.

4. Battlestar Galactica. Starting season 3 Friday, catch webisodes on

This bleak and adults only scifi show has been an exploration of human behavior under the worst of circumstances. With the shocking ending to season 2, the few remaining humans have settled on an arid but habitable world only to be taken over by the Cylons. The few who stayed in the fleet fled the approaching armada, with both battlestars leading the flight. The webisodes have been grim and are painting the resistance in a harsh light, with the humans sounding and acting more like terrorists than freedom fighters. I think this season is going to be interesting for that reason and for the growing feeling that neither side is particularly virtuous. But a few on each side are and I wonder if the good guys on both sides will unite at some point.

5. Heroes. Just started on Monday nights, can be found at iTunes

Basically a comic book come to life, I was expecting it to be an X-Men lite show aime at kids with little potential. Boy was I surprised, this is one of the darkest things put on TV in some time. Keep kids away from it, the gore is R rated including bones protruding from the skin and a large man cut in half with his entrails visible. The characters are interesting and flawed: a suicidal HS cheerleader who finds out she can heal from any wound, a nurse who thinks he can fly and has an empathic bond with his older brother, a single mother stripper with a murderous split personality she sees in mirrors, an Indian doctor following in his murdered father's footsteps in researching super evolved humans, a heroin addicted artist who paints the future when high, a Japanese office worker/comic book geek with a yen to be individualistic and growing power to stop time and fold space, a cold politician running for office who happens to have a brother who thinks he can fly, and more characters to come in the next episode. Everyone is linked one way or another and the show dared to do a scroll about the heroes being gathered for their first epic battle to save the world. Hiro the office worker and Claire the cheerleader are standout characters already, soon to be fan favorites. Despite the gore, I really liked the show and predict the politician may become one of the most important heroes.

6. Mythbusters. Found on the Discovery Channel

Simply a lot of fun as various urban legends and historic myths are tested with real world experiments to see if they are plausible. Often surprising and always entertaining, I constanty forget to watch new episodes. Good thing they rerun them so much.

7. Smallville. New season on a new network, the CW

I've had to watch this on DVD because of not having the WB on DishTV, but when UPN merged with them to create the CW, jackpot! Season opener had more action than the entire Superman Returns film according to online fans. It felt rushed, should have been stretched another hour, but it was a good ride. Excellent cast and an ongoing mythos that works (unlike the X-Files) make this a fun series. I missed last years season and need to rent it, some major dynamics changed in that 5th season. It looks like this year will have a radical change in that it is setting up Clark to be Superman at long last. Doubt we'll see the costume, but with Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow in Metropolis to gather super humans into a team it may happen yet. Especially since Green Arrow has a costume which breaks the no costumes rule of the series. Looks like this year will be the beginnings of the Justice League of America and gives me hope we'll see Smallville transition to the big screen in a few years. They just better not kill Chloe off.

I find myself watching less and less TV for a variety of reasons, one being most of it is dreck these days. There are more quality shows out there, but I simply don't have time for them. Real world things matter so much more and I'd rather devote time to them. I worry about our escapist culture, too many are fleeing reality and nothing good can come of that. The narcissism of reality shows is scary, with an emphasis on fame and attention that are the worst things we can teach our youth.

Meanwhile, I'm just glad the DishTV box has DVR on it so I can see the shows when I can. Means I don't have to schedule my life around fictional distractions!