Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Mutts" and Zappa

I'll admit I don't (yet) know much about the comic strip Mutts. I'd seen it a few times a long time ago, I have some friends who have posted some favorite panels to forums I frequent. Shoot, quite a few years before I was even really very aware of Mutts as a daily strip I redrew (using resolution-independent vectors in Adobe Illustrator-click on image at left) one of the main characters—a cat named Mooch—uttering an iconic line from the strip..."YESH!!!" for a cousin who wanted to use it for a birthday card for her friend. I'm a newcomer to the comic, having only started reading it regularly when—a couple months ago—our local newspaper consolidated their morning and evening editions into one publication per day. I always got the evening paper, it was in the morning paper. Now, we get the comics from both editions. Nice!

On the surface, I find it to be a cute strip. I like the minimalism of the art, and the stroke styles are simple and sublime. The gags are usually pretty basic (and thankfully absent of the inane smarminess of a strip like Fred Bassett or the cloying precociousness of Marvin). Upon first glance, that is. Despite the seeming simplicity, though, every once in a while I've noticed some pretty clever and well disguised cultural references that might belie the superficial sweetness and light of the strip's appearance. I don't really know much about Mutts creator Patrick McDonnell, but I have a feeling we may like some of the same music.

Why do I make that claim? Please read on and I'll explain...

So, I'm eating lunch today and reading the paper and I come across the Mutts strip, below:

'Mutts' Troutmask reference image

For those of you who know me—and even for those who don't—I'll remind you that I'm a died-in-the-wool fan of Frank Zappa. So when I saw those lines in panels 2 and 3, I was certain McDonnell was a fan as well. Because, you see, "Help, I'm a rock!" is a notable reference from Frank Zappa's 1966 debut double album Freak Out.

Now, you may figure that those words in the comic strip are just a coincidence, but I know they aren't. How do I know? Because about a week ago I was doing some heavy research on some obscure Captain Beefheart info on the Captain Beefheart Radar Station fan site, when I ran across the following:

(Click image for full size, or go here to see where I grabbed it from)

Now, anyone who knows much about Zappa and Beefheart knows that they are inextricably linked in the annals of musical culture. The color image is an homage to the landmark 1969 Zappa-produced Beefheart album Troutmask Replica, and the actual comic strip references at least 3 of Beefheart's songs, as far as I can discern. Given that Mr. McDonnell has made these two references (and probably more, I'd bet, if I looked through his Mutts archives), I'm willing to bet that the guy would probably be pretty fun to hang out with at a pub for an evening.

Maybe I'll shoot him an email and see what he's doing this weekend.

Full Story & Permalink

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Trippin' with Jimmy Carter

It was 32 years ago today that I had one helluva cold and wild time scootin' around downtown Washington DC for Jimmy Carter's inauguration. A busload or two of us from my senior high school class went as part of our Humanities class. I had no real interest in the event per se, it was just a good excuse to get a day off of school.

It was going to be cold—this we knew—but my memory of it was that it was a lot colder than it actually was. A little research shows that it was around 28°F or so, but I do remember that demon wind making it feel a LOT colder.

BAH! The wimps all over the TV are talking about how cold it's going to be for Obama's inauguration.

BAH, I SAY! We experienced one seriously dang cold jaunt around the city. What did it feel like back in '77...about 8-12°F?

But my buddy P.I. and I didn't care. I had gotten a couple tabs of blotter a day or two before. The guy I got it from said it was "psilocybin" blotter. I was skeptical—never heard of such an animal. Keeping this in context, I have to reveal that there was a steady connection of mighty clean and potent LSD in my school, for years. What I do know—and this wasn't a product of the power of suggestion—the blotter tasted oddly mushroom-like, and it took longer to come on than any LSD I'd ever taken. Maybe there was something to the "psilocybin" blotter story? Who knows? All I know is that it took nearly the entire bus-ride from central PA to Washington D.C. for the buzz to really come on.

Also, between the two of us, we had a couple-three grams of hash and a little one-hitter pipe. We probably sunk down in our seats in the bus and toked a quick hit or two on the way there.

But here we were dumped off in D.C., our only instructions were to be back at the bus at a certain time for the ride back.

So P.I. and I immediately began trying to figure out where to burn some of the hash we had. Tough task. The city was thickly mobbed, people all over, literally everywhere, and there were cops standing in guard formation, one every 8 feet along the streets. We spotted a long row of portable toilets...probably 30 or 40 of 'em. P.I. went in one of them in the middle of the row, toked a little, while I stood about 20 yards away. Five minutes later I went in the same one. We stood in that stupid little hovel for about 10 minutes, blissfully out of the wind, tripping and toking and whispering and laughing and looking out the vent and trying to be dead quiet when somebody tugged first on the door of the one we were in, and then entered the one next to us.

He leaves, and I stay behind for a few minutes, toking by myself, then I walked out. We were laughing our asses of at the absurdity. It was cold as hell, but we didn't care. We were young, hardy, higher than fuckin' lab rats and 1000% distracted by sensory overload. It was a blast.

I've tried to tell some folks the scattered stories of that day, about our tiny little paper-flavored snack on the bus on the way there. About walking around and never quite getting our bearings; about the difficulty of stifling giggles and uproarious laughs as we tiny-toked our way to an even-further-enhanced historical experience, doing hash hitters in the porta potty. The two of us were brazen, and amazed that we could even get away with it, with cops every 8 feet apart along the sidewalk, 20 or 30 feet away as we peeked—and blew smoke—out the vent of the porta potty. About walking in one direction, against the seething crowd, and getting swept along as they surged toward us, following the parade out on the street. About walking in and through and out of government and office buildings, trying to find another safe, warm place to burn another round of blond Afghani.

I wish I had had the taste and talent for narrative writing back then, so that I might have put the details of these stories into a more solid form shortly after they happened. But I remember color and taste and smell of the experience; the specific and accurate details don't matter, really. I remember knowing then that I would never forget my place in the grander scheme of the day, and that I'd always reserve a special smile about it. It doesn't matter, really, whether I can convey the sense of the day to anyone else. *I* remember it, and I know of only a few other people who were *there* with us.

How the hell did we NOT get in some sort of trouble, and how the hell did we make our way back to the bus, on time?

THAT will remain a mystery for the ages.


Full Story & Permalink

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Lick my stinking asshole, S.C. Senator Ford

***Note to newcomers: What follows is intentionally hyperbolic and over-the-top in vulgarity, and was composed in the hopes of provoking a response—ANY response—from Senator Ford's office. So far, as of 18 Mar 2008...nothing. I guess that means I get to hold on to my insignificant jerk status just a little bit longer.

Slashdot clued us up today about South Carolina senator Robert Ford's effort to get an amendment passed to his state's penal code which would make it a gowddammned felony to express profanity, obscenity, and outright blasphemous bullshit orally, electronically, by motherfuckin' smoke signals, or otherwise. Punishable by up to a US$5,000 fine and/or 5 years in the big house.


He can go rim-job Gawd's ugly-ass kitten for his ridiculous proposal, and I told him as much. After the jump, my email to his office.

Warning, for the prudes: Vulgar as your sister with her panties down and legs up in the air, and possibly NSFW, if your boss is a pussy jackass...



Dear Senator Ford...

Fuck you.

I mean that both as a personally-directed invective and as a wish for you. You need to relax and get some fine sweaty lovin', and quit worrying so much about things over which you can't possibly legislate control.

That, and everything that follows in this email are my opinion, and I have the right to express my thoughts in this way. I gently suggest you go stick a hot poker up your wife's cunt if you disagree.

It is my opinion that you are a crazy dumb fuck, a drooling priest-fucking cocksucker jackass that has no clue about what it means to protect the 1st Amendment. Protecting the 1st amendment MUST go beyond protecting only that speech we agree with; it must also protect those communications which make us uncomfortable.

I'll bet you believe in some supernatural sky-king god, too. I think that's a bunch of idiotic crap. There is no such thing a a mysterious sky-dad that knows and guides everything we do. If you truly believe that in your heart, you're a lame-brained stupid fuck, and if you base your governmental decisions on that ridiculous faith I have no respect for you at all.

NONE. YOU, SIR, ARE A BRAINWASHED FLUNKY.

That's just my opinion, and how I choose to express it at this time. If I were to meet you in person, I might possibly find you a perfectly lovely gentleman around whom I would choose not to use "bad" or "obscene" language, as I do with most people I communicate with. I have plenty of friends and loved ones who believe in god, and know that I think it's crazy...but we get beyond that. I don't tell them what to do or how to behave, and they treat me with the same deference and respect.

But what you propose to add to Article 3, Chapter 15, Title 16 of the 1976 Code of Law for South Carolina is patently absurd, and it could be argued, clinically crazy.

Making these things a felony!? You MUST be fully BULLSHITTING your constituency to make some misguided personal point. How do you propose the administrative costs for these breeches of law be paid for? And who gets to decide when the laws have been broken? And how are the claims—especially when orally disseminated—going to be verified in a way that passes judicial muster?

There are no "BAD" words, and people are not harmed by hearing them or reading them. Read a fucking report or two, you asshole dog-fellator. If anything, they provide a linguistic balance, and an opportunity for individual citizens to decide whether the context is worth the content. I am a 50-year-old writer and a lifelong student of the grace and fire and evolution of language, its uses and its power. To deny any words is to deny language itself. And if you deny language you deny communication in its most robust and inclusive forms.

To legislate the abrogation of ANY speech is to governmentally oppress the thoughts and ideas of people who may have no other way to gain a fairer foothold in American society. I suggest you not forget your own heritage in this matter, for it is an issue that transcends religiosity, or moral indignancy of any kind.

I suggest you instead work toward putting programs in place that educate people in matters of language, tolerance and understanding.

Cock-suckingly yours with greatest respect,
Phos....
[Real name and actual home street address redacted to stymie the jackasses].
If you readers here at The SparkBox want to reply to this, I will engage you in debate for the next 100 years. You may feel free to do so here, and to say any motherfucking thing you like, but i don't care for you to know where my house is. If you're that fanatical, submit a FOIA request for the full, unredacted content of my letter to Senator Ford's office.

Full Story & Permalink

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Welcome to Visitors from Neatorama

Thanks for the link, Alex!

Neatorama is one of my daily stops—more like 3 or 4 times a day—and it was a nice surprise to see a link through to my meager little island here on the Intarcan.

Cheers, and Happy Whatever to everyone!

Full Story & Permalink

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Jupiter, Venus, Moon, Sylvania

(Click for larger size)

The other night I walked out to the mailbox after dinner, and coming back up my driveway I noticed a couple bright spots in the sky just over the roof. I hadn't heard this was happening, and had to do a little Googling to find out it was a convergence of Jupiter and Venus. I read that a sliver of the moon was going to be in close conjunction over the next couple nights so I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood with my camera.

I'd never tried any kind of long-exposure photography, so I just guessed at camera settings. High ISO, wide aperture and maximum exposure time—3 seconds on my Fuji E550. Of the 10 or so photos I took last evening around 6:30-6:45pm EST, the one above is the best one I could manage. Obviously, I have a little bit to learn about this stuff. Probably would've helped if I'd gotten away from the neighborhood lights as well.

Makes me really appreciate what my compadre on the Adobe Forums—Jeff P.—does with his camera/telescope/sky-tracking device. He's got some cool galaxy and nebula shots...Go check 'em out.

Full Story & Permalink

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mike Boyle, author: Dollhouse is his book


Mike Boyle is an author. Dollhouse (Google cache link, in case Thieves Jargon changes it), his recent book—published by Thieves Jargon Press—is a fuzzily fictionalized account of a certain slice of his adventures that takes place between PA and NYC during a significant chunk of the 1980s. Mike Boyle tells the story of his life as it surrounds and informs playing in a punk band called New Left. You may enjoy reading an excerpt from his Thieves Jargon book Dollhouse. This is chapter 25 of Dollhouse, entitled The Dakota.

You can even go to the Thieves Jargon website and buy Mike Boyle's book Dollhouse, if you want.

I've read just about everything I could find of his by surfing off of Michael J. Boyle's Blogger|Blogspot site, Bohobait. The name "Bohobait" is the umbrella title he's used for awhile as a sort of personal identifier, and as something to call his self-recorded musical projects from the early 1990s—(Symphony #1 and Eagle's Son). You'll have to contact Michael J. Boyle directly if you want to know the origin and meaning of the name|title of Bohobait.

Full-revelation: I feel like a sheepish idiot because I haven't purchased a copy of Dollhouse. Chalk that up to me being a broke-ass, lazy, procrastinating jackass. One of these days I'm going to purchase a copy of Mike Boyle's book Dollhouse, and then I hope to figure out a way to not come off like a total douche bag when I request that he sign it for me. Mike Boyle is also currently accepting—and tossing in the trash can—publisher's rejection notices for his follow-up to Dollhouse entitled King of the Streets. I have no doubt that somebody will pick up the book. Dollhouse, from what glimpses I've had of it, showcases Mike Boyle's voice as an author, and King of the Streets is supposed to either take up where Dollhouse left off, or it runs concurrently with that story, I'm not sure which.

Michael J. Boyle has a long history of writing poetry, as well as autobiographical prose and narratives. Mike Boyle has been submitting his writing to zines and websites and publishers for many years. Michael J. Boyle has had a respectable amount of his writing published. (shameless Google spider flogging continues at the Permalink)

I've been loosely acquainted with Mike Boyle since about 1971 or '72, but only knew a few tangential details about him. We had tons of acquaintances in common, a by-product of going to the same high school and because of our shared self-indulgences into some of the same types of entertainment. I only saw Mike Boyle 2 or 3 times in the intervening time until the summer of 1994 when we briefly played together—coincidentally with 2 other guys we went to high school with—in a band that went nowhere. I had fun doing it, and wanted to work through the conflicts we were having, continue playing, tightening up and defining the unnamed band's sound. But it blew up within a couple-three months of its inception, as a million bands do every week. So it goes. That's a whole 'nother story, and parts of it are referenced in some of Mike Boyle's writing.

Somehow, I stumbled upon Mike Boyle's Bohobait MySpace page a few years ago, and have struck up a more informative—though still somewhat tentative—online friendship with him. Mike Boyle's life is simultaneously convoluted and simple, just like mine and just like yours. But the difference between Mike Boyle and a lot of the rest of us is that he doesn't always just let life slide over him, barely noticed. That's too easy. That's too lame-brained. Mike Boyle examines and dissects, and distills, and reimagines, and edits, and tears it all down and builds it back up. It's a set of habits that can wreak havoc on the psyches of the less-than-fearless. Michael J. Boyle tackles it with style, and we are all better for his efforts. I'm proud to call Mike Boyle a friend, even though we haven't physically been in the same place at the same time in 14 years.

Now that that's all been said, all that remains is to see whether Google's spiders grab the overt content-stuffing of this blog entry and boost Mike Boyle's stock in search results.

Oh, and Hi Mike. Got your pain-in-the-ass house prepped for winter?
Full Story & Permalink

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gasoline Mon

In late summer of 1994, a couple months after I'd moved to Lancaster, I had been traveling the 50 miles back to Camp Hill PA for band rehearsal 2-4 nights per week.

The band had been slowly heading toward an uncomfortable implosion, and after one Friday night's rehearsal that was particularly sour I left our rented practice garage and decided to hit a couple of my old favorite hometown bars. I ended up staying at The "G" until closing time.

About 2:45am I'm cruising home southbound on a particularly dark and desolate stretch of highway — Rt 283, 4 lanes divided by a broad grass median—about halfway back to Lancaster when I spy a thin woman with nearly waist length hair jogging along the shoulder in the same direction I was headed.

I was feeling magnanimous, so I hit the brakes hard and pulled over as quickly as I could. I had seen a Jeep Cherokee about 2 miles back with the hood up. I figured it was hers, and I'd see if I could convince her I wasn't some dangerous pervert, that I'd help her out.

About 30 seconds later, a face appears at the window of the passenger door. I was shocked enough that I think I actually gasped a bit. It wasn't a woman. It was a black guy with super long dreads. I reached over and rolled the window down a bit, and the first thing out of this guy's mouth was "Are you a musician, mon?" Thick Jamaican accent. Curious that he'd ask that. I had a goofy short haircut, and with all my gear stashed out of sight at the very back of my soccer-mom-style Dodge Caravan, I looked more like an accountant.

I said yeah, just got done with band practice. Was that your Jeep back there with the hood up?

Ya mon. We jes get done playin' in Harrisburg an' I run out of gas.

Hop in, I'll get you to a gas station.

Next exit was another few miles down the highway. Didn't know the area at all, and we were in farmland. Wandered right at the end of the exit ramp and lucked onto an all-night convenience store with gas pumps about another mile from the highway.

Jah Bahnnie, the guy's name was. Played in a reggae band called First Trumpet. I'd seen the name of the band in the local free music rag. He seemed like the real deal, not just some guy putting on a fake accent and making up a story. He bought a gallon jug of spring water, poured it out, filled it with gasoline. Grabbed a big wax-coated fountain cup and paid the guy. We headed back to his Jeep.

The Jeep was between exits, so we had to travel 3 or 4 miles back north and past where it was pulled off on the other side, spin through an interchange loop and get back on 283 heading south. As we approached the section of highway where he was parked on the other side we saw a cop car a couple hundred yards ahead of us start his lights flashing and veer left off the highway and across the median strip toward the Jeep.

By the time we get back to the Jeep, Bahnnie's bass player, Pat, had just gotten off the cop's cell phone after calling his girlfriend to explain the story. Before we pulled up, Pat had no idea what became of Bahnnie after he took off jogging south from the disabled Jeep.

I thought to myself: Hmmm...this rural area of the county might not be too friendly toward a black man jogging down the highway in the middle of the night. Seemed it would have been smarter to send the plump, friendly white-guy-in-his-late-30s-and-a-Hawaiian-shirt out looking for help.

After introductions were made, I come to find out that Pat was blind. I can only wonder what must have been going through his head as he sat there, listening to the deafening roar of cicadas on a desolate highway in the middle of a warm summer night. And how the conversation went when the cop pulled up and tapped on the window of the Jeep.

The cop scrutinized us carefully as we formed the big paper cup into a funnel and tilted that gallon jug of gas into the Jeep's tank. The Jeep started up. The cop—satisfied that we were non-threatening and non-drunk—took off. I followed them back to the convenience store, then headed home.

The following summer I caught them playing a set on Penn Square during the 1995 LancasterFest. When they were done, I walked up to Bahnnie and Pat to say hi and give them props for the cool music. It was the first time I'd heard them play. Bahnnie grabbed Pat's elbow, and yelled over to the other guys in the band who, with their girlfriends were hastily breaking down their gear so the next band could take the stage.

"Hey it's Gasoline Mon! You guys..come meet de Gasoline Mon!!!"

They all stopped what they were doing and came over. They were all laughing, shaking my hand, slapping me on the back. "So this is the famous Gasoline Man! We're going for drinks and your bar tab is on us!!!"

Apparently, the story of my good deed preceded me. I'd made some friends for life, as well as a new nickname.

See pictures of First Trumpet playing at the cultural diversity celebration LancasterFest 2006, on North Queen Street, Lancaster PA.
Full Story & Permalink

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ScribeFire add-on for Firefox—First Test

Today I discovered a new add-on/extension for Firefox called ScribeFire which allows users to compose blog entries directly in Firefox—without actually visiting my SparkBox blog entry composition page. Formatting and publishing are supposed to be simplified, so that it obviates the need to jump back and forth between a couple different applications, or to use the somewhat clunky composing window in the Blogger interface. It supports plain text as well as manual HTML formatting at the flick of a button.

I'm just starting to get it figured out; first problem I've run into is in getting it to upload images from my desktop so that they'll become available for inserting into these entries. I also ran into a problem upon first launching ScribeFire, a javascript error that was caused by a long-ago neglected and incorrectly ser-up link to Feedburner. Once I disabled that from my Blogspot dashboard, I was able to create the proper settings within the ScribeFire UI.

Sooo, here goes. Gonna pull the trigger and see if this uploads.
Full Story & Permalink

Friday, July 25, 2008

Rory Gallagher Stunned Me When I was 13!


After haphazardly trying a few times in Google Earth, I finally found the location on Google Maps of what was probably the first real rock concert I ever attended. Back in September of 1972, I was 13 years old and just beginning to get serious about playing guitar. Thanks to an older brother, I was exposed to many bands I probably wouldn't have heard of at the time had I only paid attention to the usual radio fare. Along with guys like Johnny Winter, Rick Derringer, Mick Ronson—Rory Gallagher was a huge inspiration for my budding interest in guitar. We had a couple of his albums and were both pretty keen on how good he was, and how different, compared to some of the more well-known players of the time.

I had the great good fortune to see Rory Gallagher play in a tiny venue WAY out in the boondocks of central Pennsylvania. It was at a place called "The Lodge"; it was actually the lodge for a small-and-failing ski area. Local bands played there on the weekends; Harrisburg PA-native Dan Hartman played there at least a few times that I remember with his band The Legends.

The place was tiny—150 people pretty much packed the house. How they managed to get Rory Gallagher booked to play there will remain a mystery to me forever, I suppose, but it was an extraordinary event. Bands at The Lodge played at floor level, and there I was, a snot-nosed kid of 13, just starting to get serious about playing guitar, and one of my favorite inspirations was there blowin' the roof off the place. I stood about 5 feet away from him the whole time, through 2 hour-long sets and about another hour of encores. There was all the keg beer you could drink, they weren't checking IDs, and I was in heaven.Visit my arcane addition to Google Maps, and don't forget to click on the tiny little blue skier icon. Full Story & Permalink

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

OS X Troubleshooting Feature I'd Like to See

Truth be told, I rarely have problems on my system that I can't fix pretty readily—barring some complete failure by the programming department at Apple or the software author. I pay attention to the tech-news sites and forums so I read what troubles others might be having with their system or particular apps. Should the time come when similar troubles pop up for me, I usually remember reading something about them. I can go back and find the articles or forum threads and see if they apply to the troubles I'm having. I also know I can count on people here, there and everywhere to offer suggestions, input, and full-on fix-it tutorials.

But there are those times where even the most savvy among us could use a little help that can't be found readily. It's something so basic that I can't believe it's not already a function of the OS UI.

Here's what I'd like to see:
• EVERY application that gets installed should create a simple text file that logs where EVERY file associated with that application gets installed. That text file should include a title and metadata/keywords that denote exactly what application version/build it is documenting and a precise date & time stamp detailing when the files it documents were installed.
• In cases where the application itself doesn't generate this text file—say, in the instances where one simply writes a folder or file to the hard drive—the OS should create one.
• When the time comes for troubleshooting, often we are required to drag files to the trash or elsewhere, so that we can let the application rebuild them, or in preparation for installing fresh or new versions of the helper file. It sure would be nice if there was an easy way to make note of the file's location on the hard drive before we move it. That way, if we want to put it back, we know exactly where it should go (click on thumbnail below to see full size mock-up of what this might look like).


Picture hosted by Pixentral ⇒ Now, say we have moved a number of files to the Trash, or to a temporary folder on the desktop while we're in the process of troubleshooting. If we have recorded the file location to each file's "Get Info" box, we'd know exactly where to return them to in the event that replacing or rebuilding them didn't help solve the problem we're having. Further, perhaps there could be a widget next to the "Recorded file location" field that could be clicked to return each file to its original location.

With the exception of the new, additional field in the "Get Info" box, I might imagine that much of what I propose could be accomplished through AppleScripting or through Terminal commands. And yes, I know that many apps write install logs, and that there are utilities like AppZapper which will remove applications and the files associated with them. But, does it grab ALL associated files? I'm not entirely sure if it does. Let's assume that AppZapper does grab all associated files. Completely removing an app is all well and good, but what if you just want to perform some troubleshooting, and it involves deleting or moving just a few files? Putting the files back where they belong can be very important. The way I perform this now is that I manually grab the file path by using Bare Bones Software's "Super Get Info" utility, which I then paste into the Spotlight Comments field in the "Get Info box". These types of functions ought to be incorporated into the OS in a user-friendly GUI. Full Story & Permalink

Monday, June 30, 2008

RogueAmoeba disses users, kinda—but appeases me

I have a question about one of the little freebie software items by RogueAmoeba, a little menubar utility called SoundSource that should make it much easier to switch between audio source inputs and outputs, faster than going through the Mac OS's System Preferences Sound panel. The thing just doesn't do what I'm lead to believe it's supposed to. I find scant little info on their site about SoundSource, so I post my questions in the comments section of a blog entry dedicated to it.

Somebody who has access to the blog admin panel has been exercising some strong douchebaggery-fu, and has been deleting my questions. So I sent them (the CEO and The CTO) an email, as they request, asking about the deletions, and about their reasoning for doing so.

More will be added to this entry when—and if—I receive a reply from them.

1 July 2008 - received reply and explantion from Quentin Carnicelli. Click link for full story ⇒

Anyway, just for posterity's sake—and for the joyful consumption by Google-Spiders, here's the full text of my email to them:

    Subject: Regarding SoundSorce UI and behavior...
    From: Phos... <email address redacted>
    Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2008 12:49:48 -0400
    To: Paul Kafasis <email address redacted>, Quentin Carnicelli <email address redacted>

    Riddle me this, Paul & Quentin...

    First off, please understand that I'm not usually an obsessive stalkerazzi when I feel my usually-intelligent dispatches are ignored. I'll generally assume that the recipient is busy, or that what's important to me may not seem as imoprtant to them. So be it, and so it goes...that's my usual reaction.

    But in this case—where I see a utility that looks to provide me with a function that would make my workflow so much more efficient—How am I being SOOO out of line by asking for some open clarification about the functioning of SoundSource that you or one of the RogueAmoeba minions has continued to remove my posts from the blog entry dedicated to it?
    http://www.rogueamoeba.com/utm/2008/03/03/soundsource-2-has-arrived/


    I'll reiterate (edited for clarification):

    ===================================================================
    What the heck is wrong with you people?

    You removed my first questions, posted to this page on 28 June, and offered no answers, nor an explanation for my initial post's removal.

    Then you removed my post bringing the deletion into question.

    And YES, I see your request for direct contact . I'm not asking about a bug, because I had no problem installing, or accessing the SoundSource menulet. I was asking about why your software doesn't do what it says on the tin. Or, if I'm expecting a behavior that hasn't been built in to it, then why don't I see any info about that fact on this site?

    Do you NOT realize that by addressing questions on an open forum you may save yourselves the hassle of answering the same questions over and over and over again? I looked for FAQs pertaining to SoundSource, and I used your site's search function. I came up empty, except for the product page and the blog entry.

    If you addressed my questions within the comments of the blog entry, the next person coming along who is experiencing the same thing might be able to find their answer WITHOUT having to contact you directly, thus saving you time and effort.

    Or are you worried about bad mojo surrounding SoundSource showing up in Google searches or permeating the net via RSS feeds?
    ===================================================================

    Granted, SoundSource is "merely" a freebie, and I can understand not dedicating a whole lot of energy toward it compared to your other, commercial products. But to go out of your way to DELETE the questions, rather then address them seems like a rather silly way to waste energy to me.

    If someone took the time to delete my initial post in which I laid out all the pertinent details—along with providing a screen dump—then I'll assume that info is already understood. If you need me to provide that info again, I will. But I'll wait to see what kind of response I get from this email.

    I'd welcome any commentary and/or insight—both on SoundSource's behavior and my own. You can even call me an asshole for my presumptions if you'd like. It's OK, I'm a 49-year-old big boy and I can take it. ;-) :-D
1 July 2008 - UPDATE: What follows is the reply I received from Quentin Carnicelli, RogueAmoeba's CTO:
    Subject: Re: Regarding SoundSorce UI and behavior...
    From: "Quentin D. Carnicelli" <email address redacted>
    Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2008 00:03:03 -0400

    You are not missing anything. This is a bug in SoundSource or MacOS X (depending on ones perspective of things).

    Some background: On MacOS X, each "Audio Device" can be comprised of multiple "Sources". For example on your eMac, you have a "Built-In" audio device that has an "Internal Mic" and "Line In" source.

    The problem is, sometimes these "sources" are to be displayed as individual choices (as in your case), and sometimes they are to be treated as a single unit whose choice is determined by the audio hardware (for example the new dual Analog/Digital input jacks on MacBooks). MacOS gives us no way to determine which is the correct choice, displaying all the Sources, or displaying them as one big merged Source. This is especially troubling on G5s, as they have a Built-In device which has 2 sources that are to be merged and 1 that isn't. But again, the OS provides us no mechanism that we know of to correctly
    display them.

    But you say, the Sound Preference in System Preference displays them correctly! And we believe Apple has hard coded logic on a per-machine basis to make this work. We've sent requests to them asking how they do it, but have never heard back (and at this point, don't really expect to). So we are kind of stuck, we can't correctly display the list of audio devices without making compromises we don't want to make.

    The real downside for you is, this problem only affects PPCs. On Intel everything works correctly out of the box. So we have declining incentive to bang our heads against the problem to figure out a solution (doubly so since it is a freebie).

    If Apple ever addresses the problem, we'll put out of a fix, but in the meantime we wait...

    -QDC
Well, it's not a happy answer, but at least it's more info than I was able to find on the RogueAmoeba website. Hopefully, they'll add this info to some FAQ section on their site, because I surely can't be the only one who has run into this brick wall. I really kind of surprised the info isn't there already.

Oh, and their crappy little character "icon" for their freebies still looks like it was done by a 6th-grader. YUK! Full Story & Permalink

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Cover bands suck ass

Uh oh...caught partying.

Not "Where's Waldo," but "Where's Phos...."? Yep, I'm in the photo. Those of you who know me will spot me right off...others, it's not worth worrying about.

Last night after dinner, bored snakeless, and a little sore after falling in a pothole, I walked over to Symposium to see what was going on. They have bands Thursday, Friday and Saturday—most of which I've never heard, and many I never even heard of. Haven't been there in about 8 months. All new bartenders, and I didn't see a single person I knew there. At least good ol' Nick, the owner, was there, as usual.

So, this metal cover band called Hindsight was playing and they were OK, but not really my cup of tea. Passable versions of the songs they did, but nothing exciting. I was midway through a Bass ale and was about ready to leave when I heard the opening synth parts of 2112 (link to Hindsight's version), which I sussed was cued up by the soundman from his laptop. I thought: OK, they're really gonna pull all the stops on this one.

Oh, man...it sucked. The singer's voice was pretty good, but that's about it. I stayed till they end of that song, and left, disappointed.

Note to Hindsight:
Here's the thing fellas—If you're going to try pulling off complicated stuff like Rush, you BETTER be damned sure you have it friggin' nailed. Getting a little sloppy on AC/DC, or Nugent, or Zeppelin, that's one thing. But to trash the precision work of Rush? Better head back to the woodshed... Full Story & Permalink

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Little Content, No Style

Apologies for the state of SparkBox.

While the dearth of content is solely the result of my laziness, the lack of any sort of design is the fault of Comcast.

They're in the process of increasing the server space allotments for subscribers—from 25 MB per account to 1 GB per. In the meantime, they've somehow thrown a spanner in the works and all the images that I have hosted there, which should display elsewhere, don't.

Had a couple confabs with a good guy named Eric at a local (York, PA) Comcast Call Center (he even called me back!). They've had some other complaints, so they know there's a problem and will be working to fix it. Considering my laziness, I'm not going to move all my images to another server while I wait this out. Also considering my luck, 5 minutes after I'd get done copying the images and updating the links, Comcast would have the problem fixed.

In the immortal words of Kilgore Trout (and Linda Ellerbee): "So it goes."

Full Story & Permalink

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Time Warp Coin

(Click Image to Enlarge)      Last week I stopped at the local con-
venience store and got a small fountain Coke. 79¢ + 6% sales tax = 84¢. 16¢ change from my dollar. I was in kind of a hurry so I just grabbed the change and shoved it in my pocket without even looking.


Yesterday, I was gathering up my clothes to do laundry and the pair of shorts I had worn to the store decided to divest itself of the change I had shoved in the pocket. As I was picking up the coins i noticed there was something different about the "penny."

It looked like a badly tarnished one-cent piece, but, hmm...what's this? The edge of the coin was flute-milled, like a dime. I shoved my glasses up on my forehead and looked a little closer. This wasn't like any coin I had ever seen.

Sooo, I took it to the sink and tried to clean it off—first with some dish liquid, then with Barkeeper's Friend. It got a little cleaner, but no brighter. Then I tried Tarn-X and then jewelry cleaner, then vinegar and baking soda. Not much luck with them, either.

But, it got cleaned up enough to see what it is: A badly worn 5 pfennig piece, dated 1944, minted in Nazi Germany. Never saw one before, or even knew about them.

According to this Wikipedia article, they are made of a zinc-aluminum alloy. 1944 was the last year for coins bearing a swastika, for obvious reasons.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it, since it's too beat up to be worth much of anything. I suppose it'll just end up forgotten in a drawer or a box, forgotten like so much other weird junk we all collect over the years.
Full Story & Permalink

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Murray Roman - Forgotten Hippie Comic

Thought you might enjoy this exhaustively researched article from WFMU's Beware of the Blog about a long-forgotten hippie-stoner-era comic named Murray Roman (short career synopsis at Wikipedia).

Author Kliph Nesteroff (MySpace page) builds an extraordinary tree of branching connections between Roman and the whole stable of writers from the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Super Dave Osborne, Rob Reiner, Mason "Classical Gas" Williams, The Doors, The Baja Marimba Band, Ren & Stimpy, Mad Magazine records, The Monkees, "That Girl!" and on and on and on, are amazing.

The full album that is referenced to start the article is available as an mp3—just look for the link— and is unique in the way it's produced, segueing as it does between comedy bits, music and some psychedelic sound effects. The comedy is kind of dated, but I've never heard anything like this production.

This is one for the iPod!

Thanks for the great article, Kliph!


http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2007/10/the-forgotten-m.html

Update:
In an article entitled "Murray Roman: Reflections of his Contemporaries - Pt. 1 and posted on Sunday 4 November 2007, author Kliph Nesteroff says:

    "The Forgotten Murray Roman was the name of an article I posted a few weeks ago about a counterculture stand-up comic who is none-too-famous today. I have since removed that article with plans to repost it sometime soon, as I have since had the chance to speak with several people who knew and worked with Murray. Their insights have changed the shape of the article dramatically. Perhaps the one living person who can tell us the most about Murray Roman is the man who hired him as a writer on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Tom Smothers. Here is the transcript of a conversation I had with Tom a few days ago."
Full Story & Permalink

Friday, March 30, 2007

A Whale of a Monitor

What's as much as 110 feet long, with a weight of up to 196 tons, has a tongue the size of an elephant, lungs that can hold 1320 gallons (177 ft3) of air, can travel up to 50 mph and fits on your monitor?

Why, it's the Flash-based presentation of a life-sized blue whale, created and hosted by the U.K.'s Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. (Via Core77)

Full Story & Permalink

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fine Guitar Inlay Work

I've always thought it would be great to have a guitar custom built so that it fit my hands and playing style in a way that no-off-the-rack axe could. But that sort of thing is reserved for people who have a whole lot of disposable income.

But let's suppose I could afford to have one built. That being the case, I'd also think about having it ultra-personalized by having some custom inlay work done.


The images shown here are from the gallery of Toronto Ontario's guitar maker William "Grit" Laskin.

Mr. Laskin uses a wide range of materials—shell, stone, ivory, bone and metal—which he hand-carves and engraves to give each element the fine detail he's known for.

I'd like to be able to tell you that there are videos of his work, and audio samples—and I would, if the ones linked on his site worked well (if at all) so I won't. Maybe they'll work for you.

Even if they don't, you can enjoy the gallery of photos and dream about having your own custom guitar built as well.
(via The J-Walk Blog)

Full Story & Permalink

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bless You & Thank You, Patti Smith


I repost the following N.Y. Times Op/Ed piece by Patti Smith in its entirety just in case visitors here find themselves locked out of the NY Times site.

In it, Ms. Smith wrestles with the conundrum of accepting accolades from the very cultural establishment whose apple cart she was instrumental in upsetting. Her words are at once both poignant and hopeful, with a dash of sentimentality to patch the bridge between the past and the future.

Thank You, Patti.


    March 12, 2007
    Op-Ed Contributor
    Ain’t It Strange?
    By PATTI SMITH

    ON a cold morning in 1955, walking to Sunday school, I was drawn to the voice of Little Richard wailing “Tutti Frutti” from the interior of a local boy’s makeshift clubhouse. So powerful was the connection that I let go of my mother’s hand.

    Rock ’n’ roll. It drew me from my path to a sea of possibilities. It sheltered and shattered me, from the end of childhood through a painful adolescence. I had my first altercation with my father when the Rolling Stones made their debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Rock ’n’ roll was mine to defend. It strengthened my hand and gave me a sense of tribe as I boarded a bus from South Jersey to freedom in 1967.





    Rock ’n’ roll, at that time, was a fusion of intimacies. Repression bloomed into rapture like raging weeds shooting through cracks in the cement. Our music provided a sense of communal activism. Our artists provoked our ascension into awareness as we ran amok in a frenzied state of grace.

    My late husband, Fred Sonic Smith, then of Detroit’s MC5, was a part of the brotherhood instrumental in forging a revolution: seeking to save the world with love and the electric guitar. He created aural autonomy yet did not have the constitution to survive all the complexities of existence.

    Before he died, in the winter of 1994, he counseled me to continue working. He believed that one day I would be recognized for my efforts and though I protested, he quietly asked me to accept what was bestowed — gracefully — in his name.

    Today I will join R.E.M., the Ronettes, Van Halen and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On the eve of this event I asked myself many questions. Should an artist working within the revolutionary landscape of rock accept laurels from an institution? Should laurels be offered? Am I a worthy recipient?

    I have wrestled with these questions and my conscience leads me back to Fred and those like him — the maverick souls who may never be afforded such honors. Thus in his name I will accept with gratitude. Fred Sonic Smith was of the people, and I am none but him: one who has loved rock ’n’ roll and crawled from the ranks to the stage, to salute history and plant seeds for the erratic magic landscape of the new guard.

    Because its members will be the guardians of our cultural voice. The Internet is their CBGB. Their territory is global. They will dictate how they want to create and disseminate their work. They will, in time, make breathless changes in our political process. They have the technology to unite and create a new party, to be vigilant in their choice of candidates, unfettered by corporate pressure. Their potential power to form and reform is unprecedented.

    Human history abounds with idealistic movements that rise, then fall in disarray. The children of light. The journey to the East. The summer of love. The season of grunge. But just as we seem to repeat our follies, we also abide.

    Rock ’n’ roll drew me from my mother’s hand and led me to experience. In the end it was my neighbors who put everything in perspective. An approving nod from the old Italian woman who sells me pasta. A high five from the postman. An embrace from the notary and his wife. And a shout from the sanitation man driving down my street: “Hey, Patti, Hall of Fame. One for us.”

    I just smiled, and I noticed I was proud. One for the neighborhood. My parents. My band. One for Fred. And anybody else who wants to come along.

    —Patti Smith is a poet and performer.
Full Story & Permalink

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ferment Your Forest

People have been known to make wine out of all kinds of stuff—some of it's great, some of it must be positively awful. But hey, it's all in pursuit of a buzz, right? If it also happens to have a sublime taste, well, that's just icing on the cake.

Just today I discovered that there's a long tradition of making wine from the leaves of oak trees. There are two versions of oak leaf wine: one made from new springtime leaves, and the other from old, brown leaves. While reading about this, I also saw some references to fermenting wine from birch leaves as well. Somehow, that seems to make more sense.

What's next? Distilling whiskey from used newsprint?
Full Story & Permalink

Monday, March 12, 2007

Superplexus











I'd like to have a go with the Superplexus 3D maze toy, but it seems out of stock everywhere. Dang.

I stumbled across the Superplexus while I was looking for a toy I played with as a kid. It was a cube about 3½" on a side, and the inside was divided into about 6 layers, each of which was a maze. Everything was made of clear plastic and the object was to maneuver a tiny steel ball bearing from in-hole to out-hole. Looks like I'm not the only person looking for one.

And no, I don't mean the Money Maze. That looks too simple.

It might have been the "A-Maze-Ing" toy, but I remember each level being more complex than the one in the linked image.

It's from that (possibly false) memory that makes me think it would be fun to craft a complex many-layered blind maze cube, possibly out of wood. My idea is that there would be a gate near the in-hole which would prevent the ball from coming back out; the only way to solve the puzzle would be to work it through to the out-hole.
Full Story & Permalink

Guitars from Eastern Europe


As much as I love playing really fine examples of the luthier's craft, there's another part of me that just can't get enough of the oddball designs that the lesser-known guitar makers come up with. Manufacturers like Teisco, Kay, Kent, and others are pretty well-known, but I'd never seen a collection of Eastern European/Soviet/USSR guitars like Lord Bizarre has assembled. Don't care how slick they are, Boy-o, would I like to just plug 'em in and skronk some noise. Poke around the site, there are a bunch of other oddball guitars pictured there, too. Full Story & Permalink

Homegrown 3D Hypercosmic Nebulae


This might accurately portray what I'd have in mind if I were to imagine a gently exploding, evolving depiction of a SparkBox.

Magnetosphere is 92 MB of wide-screen (screen cap above has been edited to fit) streaming goodness by Robert Hodgin. He's got some more killer stuff on his Flight404 blog. (via John Nack's Adobe blog)

Full Story & Permalink

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Strat and Go Digital


At long last, Fender guitars has decided to step into the digital age with a new generation of their venerable Stratocaster. It's about time. It's called the "VG Stratocaster", and it offers virtual instrument modeling features similar to those that have been available in the Line6 Variax guitars for a couple years now.

The VG part of the new axe refers to the Roland VG system. They've partnered with Roland to incorporate a slimmed-down (or is it amputated?) version of their modeling processor[s] right into the body of the guitar, running off of 4-AA batteries. Two new controls are mounted in line with the familiar volume and tone knobs—one for choosing among the emulated guitar voices. The 2nd new control will allow you to change from standard tuning to several others, without ever touching the tuning pegs. The VG-88 is an amazing unit, and it greatly expands the range of strikingly authentic sounds available to guitarists, so I expect the sounds generated by the VG Strat's onboard unit will be pretty killer. But...

(((What...you expected no "But..." from me? I always have a "But..."!!! )))


I have to wonder why they don't offer a 13 pin out for folks who might want to further modify their sound with outboard synth modules? I wonder if a hex output will be available as an option? (Didn't see it, but I haven't dug in deeply yet). Maybe on version 2?

Also, while I understand that Fender has a stake in maintaining their status as a guitar company that's proud of their strong traditionalist history, they seem to be telling potential buyers (As seen in the image at the right, screen-
capped from the VG Strat FAQ page
) that they know what is best for their needs in regards to choices of tuning modes and emulation parameters. To guitarists who seriously want to push the sonic envelope, it's a bit off-putting. Combine that with the lack of hex output, and I kinda get the feeling of being stuck. Makes me want to consider looking at one of the synth-ready guitars by Brian Moore instead.

All of that said, though, I really look forward to taking one of these new Strats for a test drive. And you can be sure I'll be keen to find out more about whether a hexaphonic output is available as an option, or if they plan on offering it in the future.

Full Story & Permalink

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Fast 50 in a Little Box

So, you think you know your way around? It's a little tougher than I remembered it to be.

I first heard of the "50 States" test from my Mom. She said they used to play it at parties when she was young, but, well...it couldn't have been called the "50 States" test back then. For some reason I never tried it until 20 years later during a really dull afternoon when a bunch of my buddies and I were rained off of the driving range and into the clubhouse bar.

Think about the United States. When you click on the image at the top left of this post, you'll be taken to the test page. Immediately a 10 minute countdown timer will start. Set your cursor in the little text field and type as many of the 50 states as you can. Spelling counts, and so do spaces. You can use all lower-case letters if you want. When you type it correctly, that state will get added to an alphabetically ordered list below the text field, and the field will reset to get ready for the next entry.

The picture above is the screen shot of my result. I think for everybody, those last few are the ones that will suck up a lot of time on the countdown clock. Took me about 90 seconds to get the last one.

There's also another version that keeps all of your entries visible for inspection in the order you type them (I find this version easier, since I made my mental tour geographically, and not alphabetically).via IronicSans

Full Story & Permalink

Friday, February 23, 2007

Good Old-Fashioned Paper-Flavored Spam!

Greetings to visitors from Alan Yu's "al6400.com" blog. Please leave a quick message in the comments area so I know you were here! Thanks, and enjoy this ridiculous tale! Cheers! —Phos....

Cripes, I loathe these sleazy, greasy rat bastards.
(Hello to GalaxyMall. I see you peeking in from Orem Utah!)

Maybe they figure now that we're all becoming more savvy about how to recognize and summarily ignore and trash spam email, they'll revert to the old tried-and-true: Sending out junk mail come-ons through the USPS. Cool Old Hippie Bud—my favorite mailman—delivered a beauty today.

It's an earnest solicitation to attend a conference at one of several local hotels about the secrets of making a gazillion dollars through internet marketing. The copy on the envelope and its contents is fully buzz-word compliant, and replete with plenty of bold, italicized and underlined phrases. It's an exclamation point lover's bit of printed paradise.

The first thing I notice—and what made my spidey-sense tingle like I was whizzing on a 440v line—was that this doofus-bait was addressed to my Dad. I've lived at my current address since the weekend after September 11th 2001. Dad has never lived here.


Dad has been dead since the Summer of 1994.


The front of the envelope has a crappy stock photo close up of a linen-swathed table—forks, wine glass & bread basket—with a place setting card. Within the blank area of the place card is a tiny version of the marketing company's logo, and below that it reads:

Dinner Table For:
My Dad's Name
& Guest

Of course, I immediately know that whoever sent it is marketing to a badly erroneous and out-of-date mailing list. This tells me they're not too swift about the very subject of the conference they're desperately trying to con people into attending. Either that, or they're just too damned cheap to buy a recently confirmed list of prospects. Idiots.

So, let's forgive them their little addressing glitch for a moment. Flip over to the back of the envelope and the first thing you notice is one of the by-now very well known silhouette pictures that Apple uses to market iPods covering over 46% of the available space (It's pictured above, and yes, I measured it). Next to the picture is a box promising a:

Complimentary Lunch or Dinner and
FREE MP3 Player For
My Dad's Name & Guest

Hmm...maybe I'll go. Who wouldn't mind sitting through a 90 minute pitch in order to walk away with a free iPod? Plus get some free grub? I could deal with that.

Upon opening the envelope and looking at the contents I see logos for ebay, Yahoo, Google and MSN. I see a toll-free phone number, hotel locations and the date, some bullshit testimonials from people who allegedly attended a previous conference. I can envision these drooling paste-eaters leaving the conference they attended, whipping out their cell phones in the hotel lobby, calling their boss at home and telling him to go get stuffed, because their get-rich dinghy has just docked on the rickety pier that juts out into the creek running through their back yard.

And yes, dear readers, there's another immediately identifiable blue and black silhouette picture of a guy with an Apple iPod. And right next to it—in big red type—FREE MP3 Player!

Oh...wait. What's this? There's another picture of a couple of odd little items that look a bit like Swiss Army knives with warts. Ahhh-HAH! Now I get it.

It's a picture of a pair of the actual MP3 players they're giving away. Near as I can Google, they were made by a Hong Kong company named HY Techno, and they're called Fish. Not only are they not Apple iPods, they're WMA players ("Windows Media Audio"...ohhh, big fun!), and these old versions aren't even anywhere to be seen on the HY Techno website. Hell, I'm a damned fine Googler and I couldn't even find a picture matching the ones being given away.

OK. Let's say we forgive these people for trying to save a few bucks by giving away outdated, low-capacity, no-name mp3 players (Edit for adjusted thinking: Considering the manufacturer specs them as WMA players, they might not even work with standard *.mp3 audio files). I can kind of understand; lots of companies give away cheap tchotchkes as a way to draw attention to their main product.

But who are the people throwing these little shindigs? Poking around the ’tubes for a generic combination of words like "Internet Marketing Conference" brings up a steaming dog pile of irrelevant results. Even when I added bits of the return address ('seattle' , 'christensen rd.') from the envelope to my search string, I didn't find any info about the company. On a whim, I decided to add the name of the person who "signed" the letter addressed to dear old dead Dad—'sanderson'.— and whaddaya know!? I got what I was looking for.

But things don't look too rosy in InternetMarketConferences-ville. According to RipOffReport.com, these lovely folks have a long and storied history with dissatisfied bait-takers. Further, government action has been taken and adjudicated against them (under any of several DBA names, including "GalaxyMall", "StoresOnline", and "Imergent, Inc.") in California, Maine, Texas, Washington, their home state of Utah—shoot, even Australia got in on the fun.

After seeing those reports, it all became clear to me.

Back in the Spring of 1998 or so, I attended one of the seminars given by GalaxyMall. I had only had my own computer and been online for about 9 months at that point, but even then—after witnessing their pitch—I realized that these assholes were only in it to take money from the pitiful-yet-hopeful souls who thought the end to their financial woes had just sauntered up and smacked them in the back of the head. The organizers at the seminar I attended put more pressure on the attendees to buy in than a used Yugo salesman looking to commish some fresh Pabst Blue Ribbon for later that day. And I was truly saddened to see some retirement-age folks—and others who were clearly internet-ignorant—actually stuck around after the presentation so that they could hand over their hard-earned money.

And yeah, they gave away a little goodie at that seminar all those years ago, too. It was a cheap ballpoint pen with the GalaxyMall web address on it. I had to laugh, for when I returned home and went to the URL, GalaxyMall.com looked for all the world like the online version of a hastily-built slipshod strip mall that just couldn't find tenants to lease space to.

Serves the bastards right.

Die, DIE! DIE!!! you opportunistic jackals! And have fun fending off Apple's attorneys for using their iPod marketing images to promote your scam, because as soon as I post this, I'm sending them a sweet little email.
Full Story & Permalink

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

NYC via Satan's Laundromat

Satan's Laundromat was revealed to me by my buddy Steve Vesperman, who found it while Googling for images of pre-September 11th Manhattan.

From the Satan's Laundromat home page:

"This is a photolog of New York,
with an emphasis on urban decay,
strange signage, and
general weirdness."


Mike is a guy who lives above a laundromat with a street number of 666. Umm, hence the tongue-in-cheek, albeit obvious, title for his site.


Satan's Laundromat is the type of site my Dad would have loved immensely. One of his favorite hobbies was just walking or driving around, and—when the scene caught his measured eye—taking pictures of the incongruous, the unusual, the wonderfully juxtaposed, the forgotten and missed details. He loved city and country equally for the photographic opportunities they presented, each in their own unique ways.

What Mike has put together with his site is an enormous collection of photos that capture the city in the way I most enjoy. Taken mostly around NYC (with some jaunts across the river to New Jersey and down the highway to the Philadelphia, PA area), it's clear that Mike has an ongoing love affair with city imagery in all of its diverse, grungy-to-glorious splendor. I'm still exploring the site's archives, and have so far resisted the temptation to veer off into the side-alley links he has posted, which I'll guess are probably to sites similar to his.

One thing that saddens me when I run across sites this rich, though:

There are many people in my email address book to whom I'd like to send the link, but who would probably never take the time to explore the site, not to mention the sites that are linked from there.

Then, there are a ton of people I'd like to send the link to who aren't even online (many who continue to hold on to the belief the the internet is a vast wasteland with little to offer them), and so, will never get to experience that wonderful collection.

More's the pity.

That guy needs to publish a book, if he hasn't already.

No...Sleep...til Brooklyn!
Full Story & Permalink

Monday, January 31, 2005

MorphX, King and Phosphor

Years ago, when I was still using Mac OS 8.something-or-other, I nicked some image morphing application off an FTP server somewhere. Ummm, I think it was called Morph 2.5.1, curiously enough [Edit: Yup. Found the old Gryphon Software pages for "Morph" through The Wayback Machine.] I tried figuring it out, but it made no sense to me. About 18 months after I got the application, I found an instruction manual PDF for it, but by that time I had lost interest. Remember, also, that I was running a PowerComputing PowerCenterPro 210, with not a lot of RAM, so even if I could have gotten it figured out, any rendering of a smooth sequence would've taken forever. I abandoned the idea, and that app is probably still sitting on the hard drive of my dead PCPro 210, in its original box down in the basement.

Fast forward to a few days ago.


I was looking for something else on MacUpdate, and saw this free little app called MorphX. After reading what little the author had on his website about the application I decided to give it a try.

As inspiration for some practice with the application, there was a faint echo in my head from about 8 months ago when several of my pals on the Adobe Photoshop Forums saw a picture of me and thought I looked kind of like Stephen King. I don't see what they see, but then, over the next couple weeks, a few other people—out here in my little corner of meatspace— have, unsolicited, said the same thing. So, I decided to go find a picture of Mr. King, and have a go with MorphX. Below you'll see the results.

Do we look alike? Ehh...maybe a little. Is the QT Movie I made a little spooky? Yeah, I kind of think so.

Full Story & Permalink