Known Johnson

May 10, 2007


Filed under: General — Tom @ 2:46 pm

Amanda, at just over 20 months old, is quickly grabbing onto words and using them, or at least her own versions of them, at a fairly quick rate lately. Of course, the big issue is whether we can understand the sounds coming out of her mouth or not. It’s one thing when she she says “dawyak” because we know that gets used interchangeably (for unknown reasons) with “dok” (which is “dog” because, apparently, “g” is hard to pronounce,) and in some cases things are known by their sounds, such as “cuck-cuck” for duck, or a combination of the two, as in the case of “ditties” (kitties) and “birlaks” (birds) who are usually accompanied by, respectively, “meow!” and “tweet Tweet TWEET!” But it’s another when she blurts out seemingly incomprehensible syllables of something that seems to mean something important to her – and then repeats it over and over, growing more upset and frustrated each time.

Take, for example, recent trips to pretty much anywhere that requires a shopping cart. We get Amanda out of the car, put her in the cart in the store and she immediately starts squawking “Flacker. Flacker!” And we’re confused. “What?” we both ask, and she responds with a very frustrated, near-cry “Flacker!” Further inquiries get us no further, only more, louder announcements of the mysterious “Flacker.” And as Amanda blurts out “Flacker,” I start listening further away, imagining what other people are hearing. Just think about it, dear Reader – imagine that word repeated, machine-gun like and loudly: flacker flacker flacker flacker flacker flacker! We both realized what it sounded like, too, and quickly set about solving the mystery.

We ran through a list of potential things she might want, each one wrong, each one greeted with an upset “Flacker!” until we reached the magic word: “Pacifier?” “Yessss!” slid happily out of her smiling mouth. It’s only then that we realized the flacker was out in the car.


May 9, 2007

Reasons why I would make a terrible secretary

Filed under: General — Tom @ 4:22 pm

I’ve worked at my company for nearly 6 years, using the same basic phone for that same time, but I still don’t know how to transfer a call. I’ve tried it before when I’ve gotten a wrong number caller, and the process seems to be pretty simple: hit “transfer” and dial the proper extension, the one they really wanted to reach. But it never works, instead resulting in the other party being dropped. So when I receive a call and they ask to be transferred, I usually tell them, “I’ve tried this transfer thing before but it usually doesn’t work out,” and then do it, and then drop them when I mess it up. I always wish I’d said a pre-emptive “sorry” before I set about my duty, but I never remember to. I would make a terrible secretary.

Today was my latest transfer-attempt and it went no differently. Only this time the caller was kind of rude, not really asking to be transferred more than pretty much demanding it. I told her who I was when I answered, she said she had the wrong number, then said, “Okay, well transfer me to extension _____.” I warned her, transferred, and she got dropped. And then, five minutes later, the phone rang again with her number. I didn’t bother to pick up, instead proclaiming out loud, “Lady, I’m not answering. You know this isn’t the right number!” This would be another reason why I would make a terrible secretary.

Idol observations: Bee Gees night

Filed under: TV — Tom @ 8:26 am

Well, first, Bee Gees . . . eh. And two songs by each performer . . . eh. I wondered how they were going to fill the time. Okay, so it wasn’t all disco, thankfully, but it wasn’t a particularly great bunch of songs, either. I just have to ask – why did Barry Gibb have to point out, seemingly surprised, when the singers chose songs with falsetto? Aren’t most of his vocals falsetto? Did they have that much choice?

Melinda turned in her usual solid performances – nothing stunning, nothing bad, but I felt like the whole thing was a nightclub performance. Blake . . . man, what the hell? First he chose to actually do the falsetto on “You Should Be Dancing” for the whole damn song, which is just not his strong suit as we’ve seen before, then he adds in his damned beat-boxing every chance he gets, and then he chooses some completely unknown Bee Gees song, “This Is Where I Come In” and rearranges it to make it even more unknown. Blake, dude, it’s unknown by most for a reason. Lakisha slows down “Stayin’ Alive” a bit in an attempt to make it more soulful or something, then nearly blows out her voice on a high note at the end of “Run To Me,” which otherwise was pretty solid. Jordin, coming in with video of Barry saying something ridiculous to the effect of him having heard hundreds of versions of this song before but never one as great as hers, does a very good job of “To Love Somebody,” which winds up sounding like a modern country song (which is to say, not very “country,” but you know what I mean.) Her second song is the song that Barbra Streisand made famous, “Woman In Love,” and while the judges found it “pitchy” in spots, I thought it was pretty powerfully sung.

Going home: Lakisha. Blake had a worse night, but Lakisha has lost her support, I’m afraid. I just wish she could take his beat-boxing with her.

Space Week for space geeks

Filed under: TV — Tom @ 8:10 am

Just a heads up for those few space geeks out there like me – the Discovery Science channel is running a bunch of new space-related stuff this week for the cleverly titled “Space Week.” Not all of it’s new, however (I believe one show a night is), but last night they ran a really interesting (read: completely dorky for normal people) documentary about the production of NASA’s new Orion space capsule. I’m sure it’ll be on again, so if you’re at all into real space stuff, not sci-fi, be sure and catch this because this is the future of our space program and what we’ll be hearing about for a long, long time starting in about 7 years.

New fact I learned about Orion last night: it will land on land, unlike the Apollo capsules, which landed in the ocean. Neat.

May 2, 2007

In spite of all the mucus

Filed under: General — Tom @ 11:46 pm

I got an unexpected day off from work today. It seems little Miss Amanda came down with a pretty nasty cold over the past couple of days. She had a really bad cough on Monday night and we decided to take her in to the doctor this morning, but she suddenly stopped coughing after I made the appointment – you know how that goes. So I thought she was doing better . . . until she actually got up and proceeded to expel snot at high velocity. That was when I decided to just take the day off and let her rest at home with me where she would be most comfortable.

We had a good day, in spite of all the mucus, which blasted out of her nose on a pretty regular schedule. I think today might have been the most number of wipes I have ever gone through since she arrived, this being, by far, the worst single day of a cold she has yet had. It got me thinking: I can’t recall any instances in my life when I have sneezed and blown copious amounts of liquids out my nose, uncontrollably, so there must be a point at which you actually gain control of that. After today, I really wonder when that is.

One fun thing today was that Amanda was extremely polite – everything I gave her was received with a “Dank you, dada.” Mind you, she didn’t thank me for all the wiping up I did, but I’m sure she appreciated it because she seemed to enjoy having the contents of her nose on her arms and hands about as much as I did.

While she was sleeping in the afternoon, I spent a bit of time on my computer sorting through dozens and dozens, literally, of live concerts that I’ve downloaded over the past couple of years. It seems my hard drives are starting to fill up and it’s mostly live stuff – all of it FLAC encoded (this would be a compression scheme that keeps audio files from losing their fidelity unlike mp3 files do, but the downside is very large files) and I’m not entirely sure how many of them made it to CD (most have made it into Itunes, at least.) It may seem dumb that I worry about this since I do have them in Itunes, but if I lose my Itunes library, I lose those files, too, so I need to have all those concerts saved somewhere else. Believe me, this is a big job that I should never have been so lazy with, and now I’m slowly sorting out what is already burned as audio or archived or what is just plain not important.

And the other part of the day I finally got to watch one of the DVDs of Bill Bruford’s Earthworks Anthology, and I can report that it’s fantastic. Expensive, yes, but for fans of the band, especially those not in cities that would ever be graced by their presence, the live material here is a must-see – especially the electronic, chordal-drumming Bruford does in Volume 2. Really fascinating to watch a drummer play melodies. Amanda awoke midway through that and ate her lunch, swaying in rhythm to a couple of tunes – she’s hep.

Who knows what the next couple of days brings – hopefully her cold will subside so her encounter with Elmo on Saturday isn’t marred by being sick. I’m just hoping neither Alissa nor I comes down with this, either.

Idol observations: Bon Jovi week (I guess?)

Filed under: TV — Tom @ 11:52 am

After the nightmare that was last week, a bunch of dreadful tear-jerker “songs of hope and compassion,” and then, of course, the much talked-about non-elimination, the only real high points I could speak of would be Kelly Clarkson performing with Jeff Beck on Patty Griffin’s beautiful “Up To The Mountain,” and it really was pretty impressive, and Jack Black hopping on stage to do Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose” followed by very staged “critiques” by the judges. But I give Idol credit – $70 million raised last week. It makes me a little sad that the Jerry Lewis telethons have to work so hard for so much longer and involve so many more people for so much less money. Maybe it’s time to rethink the process?

But on to this week . . . Jon Bon Jovi, I guess to promote the Bon Jovi album coming out early this summer, mentored the remaining Idols singing his songs, and the results were decidedly strange. Phil was Phil – not awful, not great with “Blaze of Glory”; Chris was surprisingly not awful, but it was clear he was out of his element and really straining to keep up with “(Wanted) Dead Or Alive”; Blake beat-boxed and strangely didn’t completely ruin “You Give Love A Bad Name”; Melinda, as usual batted hers out of the park with “Have A Nice Day,” but still seemed out of her element; but the big surprise was seeing Lakisha and Jordin. Lakisha tackled something I’ve never even heard of by the band, “This Ain’t A Love Song,” and nearly erased weeks of lackluster performances by singing as if her life depended on it. Jordin, on the other hand, picked the wrong damned song with “Livin’ On A Prayer,” and it was terrible – her worst performance by far. Much as people like to dismiss the talents of rock singers, it becomes obvious when pop singers take on rock songs that there’s something extra in rock vocalists that makes them what they are, and Jordin (and Chris, and Phil, and Melinda) showed that she simply can’t hack it with rock material.

Will any of that matter, however, even if Jordin receives very few votes, when this week’s votes are combined with last week’s votes to boot the bottom two this week? I can’t imagine that Jordin is really in trouble, especially since she has so many fans who will forgive one minor screw up like this – and they most likely know that this is not her genre to begin with. Will Lakisha gain ground because of her stellar performance? Possibly, but weeks of not delivering may simply have caught up with her, but I don’t know that it’s her time to go yet.

Bottom three four: Dammit, I had to re-edit this becuse I forgot – with TWO going home this week, there’s probably going to be a bottom FOUR, not three. Phil, Chris, Lakisha, and, I hate to say it, Jordin. Like I said, I doubt Jordin is in trouble. I think Phil and Chris have been on shaky ground for quite a while and Lakisha’s foundation may be starting to crumble, too. There’s just no way that Jordin’s going home – it’s pretty clear that she was far and away a huge #1 last week, which will probably keep her completely safe no matter how few votes she receives this week. Lakisha is iffy, but I think she may have saved herself for at least one more week. Phil, Chris, you’re going down in a “blaze of glory” because you’re not “wanted, dead or alive.”

Update: What do I win? Okay, so I was off on the “bottom four” thing, but only in that they didn’t have a bottom four. But Phil and Chris are both outta there. What do I get?

May 1, 2007

Overlooked Alternatives: Rush, Mike Keneally

Filed under: Music,News,Overlooked Alternatives — Tom @ 10:19 pm

I usually go alphabetically but this week priority takes precedence. A man has to have priorities.

Rush – Snakes & Arrows: It’s here! It’s finally here! Five years on from Vapor Trails, Rush returns with their 18th studio album (19th if you count the Feedback EP, released in the interim.) This is one time when I get to play my “fan card” and just fully admit to my bias. I’m going to listen to and enjoy most anything new that Rush puts out, I can’t deny it. As a practicing music critic, I want to try and listen with completely unaffected ears, but that’s just not possible – Rush simply has a mixture of elements that particularly appeals to me in a way that affects me deeply. That doesn’t mean I won’t have things to say, even somewhat critical things to say, if they’re warranted (go ahead, ask me about Test For Echo), but I’m going to speak from a fan’s perspective. That said, I’m not going to speak here because I’ve got a lot more listening and a lot of thinking and then a bunch of writing to do for a proper review, but I can say this: fans of Vapor Trails will likely find much to enjoy here, as will those who liked the acoustic-driven textures of Test For Echo. It’s not the Rush-of-old that many band- and producer-interviews would have you believe, but there are touches here and there that certainly will have some long-time fans playing the “that sounds like ___.” And there’s not one but three instrumentals, two of which are absolutely stunners (“The Main Monkey Business” and “Malignant Narcissism.”) But I’ll save the rest for later.

Mike Keneally – hat. and Boil That Dust Speck Remasters: These two Keneally classics, his first two solo releases, have been out of print for many years, leaving fans of the guitarist in the lurch for these Zappa-inspired oddities. Keneally’s been working for quite a while to resurrect these, and if you go to you’ll find the real fruits of his efforts, rather than the simple one-disc reissues offered at regular stores: deluxe two-disc editions, the second disc of which is a DVD with all kinds of fun, interesting, and weird stuff that fans want to see. They’re beautifully crafted – the artwork is some of the highest quality reissue material I’ve seen, requiring a keen eye to notice any differences between the originals and the reissues besides label names and such, and the deluxes include an extra booklet with lengthy notes from Keneally himself about the albums. I wrote a more detailed exploration of these deluxes here, but I urge any Keneally fan to head over to his site immediately and get out the credit cards!

« Previous Page

Create a free website or blog at