October 24, 2006

Variations on a Theme From Youtube

Weird Al:

The hilarious Barats and Bereta (check out their many other fine videos):

And more Ben Folds:

Posted by JohnL at 08:41 PM | Comments (1) | | TrackBack

October 17, 2006

Ben Folds Five - Philosophy

I've previously mentioned in passing that Ben Folds is one of my favorite contemporary musicians. His first group was a hard-rocking piano trio (piano-bass-drums) known as the Ben Folds Five.

I first learned about them when I saw them play "Song for the Dumped" on David Letterman. (Hilarious song, at least for guys). Ironically, it was that performance that triggered (or at least coincided with) their decision to break up.

Anyway, check out this amazing 1998 performance of their song "Philosophy," available on this DVD:

Posted by JohnL at 11:09 PM | Comments (2) | | TrackBack

October 11, 2006

Critique of Star Wars

Without getting into too much background, John Scalzi recently offered his views on the value (or lack thereof) of the Star Wars movies as entertainment. SFSignal has much more here.

What I want to highlight is this excellent comment by Avdi (in Scalzi's post), who elegantly summarizes my own feelings about the effect of the prequel trilogy on the original trilogy:

What baffles me is that I, II, and III seem almost expressly designed to destroy any mythic sensibility that IV, V, and VI might have created. Everything in them conspires to scale down the "epic" feel of the originals. Characters and locales from the sequels are improbably reused (pre-used?) so much that the Star Wars universe starts to feel cramped in comparison to the diverse galaxy that we caught a glimpse of in the the original trilogy. It goes from a million worlds to a few dozen, populated with the same rotating cast. Anakin Skywalker goes from the legendary star pilot of Obiwan's remembrances, to a whiny kid piloting the interstellar equivalent of a Honda civic with a really big spoiler on the back. The Clone Wars turn out not to be some cataclysmic confrontation with a galactic menace, but petty insurrection headed by villains so laughable (Dooku and the unbelievably pathetic Gen. Grievous) that the whole thing is hard to take seriously. The Jedi Council, "Guradians of Peace for a Thousand Generations", turns out to be a tiny cult of halfwit ditherers. And perhaps worst of all, Yoda, that venerable font of inscrutable wisdom, discards all semblance of dignity to become a yelping inneffectual hop-frog.

I couldn't agree more. The more that George Lucas explained, the less I loved the grand and mysterious Star Wars universe I once dreamed of exploring as a 10-year-old boy.

Posted by JohnL at 09:23 PM | Comments (2) | | TrackBack

South Park vs. The Truthers


Heh. Retards.

(What would you expect from South Park? Something sophisticated and subtle?)

Posted by JohnL at 09:10 PM | Comments (227) | | TrackBack

October 08, 2006

Caribbean Photoblog: Grand Cayman

In Grand Cayman, we avoided the overpriced ship-scheduled shore excursions and chartered a small-group catamaran snorkeling tour with Captain Bryan's:


Our boat and group (only $35 per person):


The typical cruise-ship offering (more than $75 per person):


Kissing a stingray (7 years' good luck!):


More pictures in the extended entry...

More kissing:


Up close and personal:


Our guide lured out an eel with some squid:


The water is just a surreal clear blue:


Posted by JohnL at 06:30 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack

Caribbean Photoblog: Jamaica

Before too much more time passes, I figure I ought to finish the photoblog of my wife's and my Caribbean Cruise. On our fourth day (September 6), our ship docked at Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

We took a bus deep into the jungle at the top of the mountain range:


And put on our safety equipment:


So that we could "zip" three miles down the mountain through the jungle canopy on zip lines, fifty feet or more in the air:


The last traverse was 600 feet long:

After getting a few souvenirs we returned to the ship and enjoyed a gorgeous, lazy sunset as we set sail yet again:


Next stop: Grand Cayman.

Previous entries: Part 1, Part 2.

Posted by JohnL at 04:06 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack

October 01, 2006

Heinlein Quote of the Month (October 2006)

"Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy."

- Lazarus Long in Time Enough For Love.

Posted by JohnL at 10:27 PM | Comments (1169) | | TrackBack