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+ raelity bytes
+ paul e. [LJ]
+ Rain Graves
+ gnat [use Perl;]

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My other sites:
- Silicon Valley Scale Modelers
- Book page for Programming Web Services With Perl

Other journals I read:
= DJ Adams
= rebecca blood
= Tim Bray
= Margaret Cho
= Warren Ellis
= Neil Gaiman
= Rafael Garcia-Suarez
= John Gorenfeld
= Lawrence Lessig
= Michael McCracken
= Jeff Vogel
= Norm Walsh
= Wil Wheaton

My journal at use.perl.org:
· Restless
· RPC-XML-0.57.tar.gz uploaded to PAUSE
· RPC-XML-0.56.tar.gz uploaded to PAUSE
· RPC-XML-0.55.tar.gz uploaded to PAUSE
· Forgive Me, Bretheren Monks
· Extry Extry: Winer Leaves the RSS Advisory Board
· RPC::XML 0.54 Uploaded
· The Books of Perl
· Good Intentions Don't Equal Good Results
· Errata Tracking Page for PWSWP
· Image::Size 2.992 Uploaded
· Props to Portland PM
· Lightning Talks
· OSCON, Tuesday
· OSCON Plans Now Set

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We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others. — Will Rogers

The Decemberists - The Crane Wife 2006.10.25.08:10

This is another one I first heard about on NPR. It's very different from My Brightest Diamond, and in a lot of ways it's more my style. There's no really easy basis of comarison, though, so I'll stick to the merits of this one on its own.

Again, I know next to nothing about this group. The first time I even heard their name was the NPR review of this album. The review included snippets from two of the songs– "The Island" and "Sons & Daughters"– that are probably the two strongest tracks on the disc. The latter, in fact, is my personal favorite. I have yet to tire of it, and I have no idea how many times I've played and re-played it. This isn't to say that the rest of the album is weak, though. Like my last review, this is an album that has a quasi-concept feel to it, in that it plays very well from start to finish as if it were a whole musical piece in 10 segments. The other track highlighted in the review, "The Island", is itself a three-movement piece (the NPR review excerpted from the second section). And the title track, "The Crane Wife", is in three parts that are divided oddly: Part 3 opens the album, and parts 1 & 2 make up the next-to-last track. Other noteworthy tracks include "Shankill Butchers" and "Yankee Bayonet".

The sound reminds me a lot of XTC, with the vocalist coming across a little like Edward Ka-Spel of the Legendary Pink Dots. "Shankill Butchers" really reminded me of some of the simpler accoustic LPD material I've heard in the past. Musically, the group is very tight and clearly very comfortable playing together. There's a moderate progressive vibe running through the album, with some of the songs being a good distance from the "safe" 4/4 beat. I've listened to this one straight through, end-to-end, at least a dozen times since I got it last Saturday. Highly recommended.

The Decemberists - The Crane Wife

# amazon () [/entertainment/music]

I Actually Did Better Than I Expected 2006.10.24.23:12

Place the 50 states on a map, without outlines.

I scored 92% (46 of 50 placed perfectly), with an average error of 25 miles. I really expected to do much worse.

# [/entertainment/games]

My Brightest Diamond - Bring Me the Workhorse 2006.10.20.09:29

Heard about this one on NPR. It's hard to describe– a strong Yo La Tengo vibe with a sprinkling of Lou Reed. The singer's voice reminds me a little of Portishead, though not quite as brittle. Thus far, "Disappear" is my favorite single track. But this album has a whole-entity feel to it (again, reminiscient of Portishead and Yo La Tengo). I'm listening through from front to back for the second time, now, and it just has a really nice smoothness to it.

I know next to nothing about the group, except that I had enjoyed the excerpts from the review on the afternoon news show on the local NPR station. There's some nice use of strings, and the melodies are on the alternative side, venturing towards prog-rock territory without getting close enough for the pretentious to rub off. The lyrics are engaging, as well. Certainly worth a test-listen on iTunes, or borrowing from a friend.

My Brightest Diamond - Bring Me the Workhorse

# amazon () [/entertainment/music]

The Wizard of Oz Heresy 2005.07.04.07:00

This is so blasphemous, I know that I'm going to lose serious culture points for daring to besmirch such a classic...

I'm watching The Wizard of Oz, as I tape it from my TiVo for a friend. And I gotta say this, no matter the consequences...

The Cowardly Lion is so ghey. I mean, he makes Johnny Depp's swishbuckler Jack Sparrow look butch.

# [/entertainment/movies]

A Linguistic Butt-Whooping 2005.04.04.01:12

I listen to NPR a lot when I'm in my car. Today, while running errands, I heard the first half or so of a quiz-show they have, called "Says You!. I don't usually listen to this one much (I prefer "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!"), but they had an interesting round in today's show.

The subject was heteronyms, words that have different pronunciations and different meanings, but the same spelling. So I followed along on each of the six questions. They gave the two definitions, and you had to get the word(s). And I just sucked pond water. For someone so comfortable in his command of the language, I could not figure out even one of them. Oy.

# [/entertainment/radio]

This Is No Drill: The Red Sox Have Indeed Won 2004.10.28.05:40

The Boston Red Sox have won their first World Series since 1918.

I'm not a big sports fan, and have no opinions on pro baseball at all, but they really are an example of the scruffy just-will-not-quit kid down the block that everyone laughed at. They deserved to win this, and winning it so decisively is just icing.

# [/entertainment]

Pax Christopher Reeve 2004.10.11.08:54

Superman has passed away.

Understand, for many people in my age-bracket (+/- 10 years or so), Reeve was as much the embodiment of Superman as any paper rendition in a comic book.

Christopher Reeve 1952-2004

He made us believe a man could fly.

# [/entertainment/movies]

Firefly 2004.08.02.06:13

I have hooked my Mom and her husband on Firefly. Who have you converted, today?

# [/entertainment/tv]

Movie Review: Van Helsing 2004.05.12.06:47

I went to see Van Helsing on opening night. What can I say? I'm gullible for vampire flicks, and this one had several actors to offer that I enjoy watching. Indeed, this film would make a good Kate Beckinsale double-feature along with Underworld. I'm also a big fan of Elena Anaya ever since I saw her turn in Lucía y el Sexo ("Sex and Lucia").

That all said, I didn't have my expectations too high, so I wasn't as disappointed as I have been in other movies in the past. The story isn't too bad, and I don't think that the plot devices to bring in both Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolfman were too contrived (as some have suggested). Alas, I felt like Hugh Jackman was a little too Logan-like in his performance– it really felt like Wolverine versus Dracula but without the claws. Probably the best performance of the cast was from David Wenham as Carl, the Vah Helsing equivalent of a James Bond "Q". Of course, the three brides are all hot, as is Beckinsale in her busty costumes.

For me, one of the most disappointing areas were the computer-generated effects. In particular, the rendition of Mr. Hyde in the opening sequence. It felt almost like the same half-assed work as in LXG. The werewolves were probably the best-done of the effects, though the wives had, well, "interesting" harpy-life forms that allowed them to fly around like bats, but with the ability to grab at and drag things around, as well as taunt. Taunting is generally important when you're a villian. One thing I noticed about the harpies, though, was the conspicuous lack of nipples.

Anyway, I'd say the movie is a worthwhile matinee, and since I'm such a vampire-geek I'll probably get the DVD one day. But since I haven't even gotten around to acquiring the Underworld DVD, I don't see being in a great rush.

# [/entertainment/movies]

Chicks With Casios 2003.11.19.08:59

By way of Warren Ellis, I was led to the website for a female duo who call themselves The Capricorns. Two women with Casios, and they aren't afraid to use them either.

At the site, you can download two of their songs, The New Sound amd Pretty Girls.

Joe Bob says, "Check 'em out."

# [/entertainment/music]

Neil Gaiman's Matrix 2003.11.16.00:51

Through a series of links on LiveJournal, I came across this short bit of "Matrix Fanfic" written by Neil Gaiman: Goliath

I find the thought of someone like Gaiman doing Matrix fanfic kind of amusing, but I can't really laugh at it, because it's really damn good. And not just in that "I like Gaiman so everything he writes I blindly like" sense, either. I do love his work, yes. But I like plenty of writers, and while I gush about the stuff I really enjoy, I just don't bother with talking about the stuff I don't like. So while I admit to being a fan-boy where NG is concerned, I truly believe that if you liked the first Matrix movie at all, you'll enjoy this story. Bonus points if you can guess the identity of the antagonist(s).

(When I say "enjoyed the first movie", I mean that this story was clearly written for the whatisthematrix.warnerbros.com website, which was first put together to promote the second film. There's nothing about it that places it in any particular part of the timeline of any of the three movies, but I'm pretty sure that Mr. Gaiman wrote it before the second film was released, that's all.)

# [/entertainment/movies]

Underrated Albums: Concrete Blond's "Mexican Moon" 2003.11.14.10:25

[cover] (The first in what may or may not be a series...)

While cleaning house recently, I came across my copy of Mexican Moon, the 1993 release by Concrete Blond. So I slotted it into the player and gave it a spin. Wow.

I had forgotton just how really good this album is. And I started wondering why it didn't run the charts like Bloodletting had. I suppose (and this is purely conjecture) that the legions of tortured goths who felt that CB really "felt their pain" with songs like "Bloodletting" and "Joey". And maybe they felt left behind when Walking in London wasn't another paen to children of the night. Of course, if you read the reviews at Amazon, they're all written by people who feel, as I do, that this album has always been unfairly dismissed.

Who knows, I guess. But this one strayed even further from BL than WiL had. Not that I don't like those albums; "Tomorrow, Wendy" remains one of my favorite songs by any band. But this album just meshes really well. From the opening "Jenny I Read", into the title track, you just know that you're going to enjoy every track on the disc.

Money, art, a broken heart, where do you want to go?
     —Mexican Moon

I think it was the track, "Heal It Up," that got the radio air-play. I know that I'm not a tour-following devoted fan. I had BL, but hadn't gotten around to getting WiL. When I heard "Heal", though, I had to get this one. It's a powerful track, with great lyrics and poetry. And in a disturbingly smooth blend, it goes right in to the sampled excerpts of Jim Jones that open up the track, "Jonestown". And we're only up to the fourth track.

I can go one about pretty much every track. The whole album is very listen-able, from start to end, on auto-repeat even. The last track is titled, "Bajo La Lune Mexicana," and as you might guess even without speaking any Spanish, it's the title track again, only with the lyrics in Spanish (though alternating lines of the chorus are still in English). In a way, this is the most relaxing, almost ambient track of the disc. I don't focus on the exact words as much, and instead on the timbre of the singer's voice and the music that accompanies her.

Very happy that I dug this up.

# amazon (and on and on and on) [/entertainment/music]

Get on the Global Frequency 2003.10.21.23:38

I haven't yet talked about Warren Ellis' excellent Global Frequency series under my comics category, because it is still in issue format and I wanted to wait for the graphic novel. It's easier for the non-comic-fiend types to get a GN than to hunt down back issues.

But this recent bit from CNN (not sure how long this link will be in their archive) means speaking up a bit early:

"Under that deal, Burnett has also teamed with writer-producer John Rogers for a drama based on the DC spy comic 'Global Frequency,' which has received a script commitment from the WB.

"'Global Frequency' revolves around an independent defense intelligence organization connected by a worldwide telecommunications web that uses ordinary individuals as agents around the world to fight black ops projects, unexplained phenomena and other problems the government agencies have."

So while the "full review" is still forthcoming, let me say that this could be potentially excellent news. WB has done some stinkers, but they also gave Joss Whedon the elbow room he needed to develop Buffy and Angel. And GF is something else; it is in fact very spy vs. spy in nature, but the writing is extremely crisp and tight, and the pacing is just fantastic. What really struck me about it, though, is that it's already episodic. Each issue is a single, stand-alone story, with recurring characters but otherwise not leading up to a single grand-finale sort of conclusion. I've even mentioned to the friend who turned me on to it, that it would lend itself well to TV, since it's already written for it: each issue's final page runs the credits over the last few panels as the story is wrapped up and last lines are spoken.

I just hope that the WB has the minerals to use the existing stories, rather than just using the concept and writing new stories. The ones they have are brutal, harsh, and very realistic (save for the near-future sci-fi tech that they use). It would be a shame to not have characters like Grishko come to life on the screen.

# [/entertainment/tv]

Midnight Movies Again (Raiders of the Lost Ark) 2003.10.04.10:24

Under the heading of "ages really, really well," we can file the film, Raiders of the Lost Ark. This was the current weeks' selection at the Midnight Movie series being co-sponsored around here by the Camera Cinemas chain and the local radio station "The Wave". (This was the same series at which I first went to see 28 Days Later back at the end of June.)

This movie has held up against the current generation of "action films" amazingly well. It's supposedly a recently "enhanced" print, in that they've worked on the overall visual quality and sound quality of the film, but not in the sense of Lucas' decision to add all sorts of weird extra stuff to the original Star Wars trilogy. Nothing was added or changed, just shown the way it originally was, 22 years ago. That's what blows my mind: this film is old enough to buy booze and have graduated from college. And it is still heads and shoulders above pretty much anything released in the last five years. I'm sorry... did I say five years? Let's say ten. In fact, let's say fourteen– since the release of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I may be exaggerating, and I'm no doubt biased by the fact that it's still rattling around in my skull. But being reminded of little things like the "Sieg Heil!" monkey, the bad-ass swordsman that Indy just up and shoots, and of course the whole amazing opening sequence in the Peruvian temple (featuring the first credited film appearance by a then-unknown Alfred Molina), I guess I'm given to enthusiasm.

Wow. Quite a treat.

(Anyone in the south bay area can see it midnight tonite [Saturday the 4th] at the Camera One theater in downtown San Jose. I can't recommend it enough.)

# [/entertainment/movies]

Pax Warren Zevon 2003.09.08.18:41

Singer Warren Zevon dead at 56

I can't claim to be a huge Zevon fan, and I don't own any of his albums. But he was original, eclectic, and he gave us the title, "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead". It's always a shame to lose such talent at a comparitively young age.

At least he won't have to play "Werewolves of London" ever again. As I understand it, he really came to hate that WoL was his best-known and most-requested tune.

# [/entertainment/music]

Who Am I:
Randy J. Ray
Software Engineer


Buy my book!

Programming Web Services with Perl

I've also contributed three chapters to:

Computer Science & Perl Programming

Category quick-links:


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30 31          

Apr May Jun
Jul Aug Sep
Oct Nov Dec

Reading and Re-reading
· The Annotated Thursday: G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Would Be Thursday, G.K. Chesterton, Martin Gardner
· The Feeling Good Handbook, David D. Burns
· Organizing From the Inside Out, Julie Morgenstern
· XML Schema, Eric Van Der Vlist
· BEEP: The Definitive Guide, Marshall T. Rose

High in the queue
· Silk, Caitlin R. Kiernan
· Coldheart Canyon, Clive Barker
· Idoru, William Gibson
· Shared Source CLI Essentials, David Stutz, Ted Neward, Geoff Shilling

Recently finished
· Planetary Vol. 3: Leaving the 20th Century, Warren Ellis, et al

Recommended favorites
· The Cowboy Wally Show, Kyle Baker
· Lost Souls, Poppy Z. Brite
· The Alienist, Caleb Carr
· Quarantine, Greg Egan
· The Authority: Relentless, Warren Ellis et al.
· Planetary: All Over the World and Other..., Warren Ellis et al.
· American Gods, Neil Gaiman
· Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
· Neuromancer, William Gibson
· A Philosophical Investigation, Philip Kerr
· Say You Want a Revolution (The Invisibles, Book 1), Grant Morrison et al
· You Are Worthless: Depressing Nuggets of..., Oswald T. Pratt and Scott Dickers
· Cryptonomicon, Neil Stephenson
· Rising Stars : Born In Fire (Vol. 1), J. Michael Straczynski

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