Known Johnson

June 29, 2007

Random gladiator

Filed under: General — Tom @ 1:33 pm

Strange phrases often pop into my head, so I write them down because they’re weird and, obviously, I’m weird and I like keeping track of my weirdness. Any one of these could be proof I’m a dork, or maybe all of them are. But at least I’m creative.

Here’s a list of strange phrases that I wrote down a while back that I just found:

Burned man parade
Starving man parade (obviously inspired by the above, but when I was hungry)
Gracefully sleeping forward
Subtle man of demands
Spicer Kirk
The small and Cindy
Desoto liver moon
Fascist typist
I am upset with you, devil
Buildings begin to sweat
Beeswax landing candles
Cats in cloth turbines
Wake up bright sleepers
Too soon after Buddha
Gravy master
Random gladiator

June 26, 2007

Various and sundry: June 16-26, the space/sickness edition

Filed under: Various and Sundry — Tom @ 11:43 pm

Evil food Somewhere along the line last week, I innocently picked up and ate something that contained some form of vile evilness that stored itself away inside me and then attacked, pretty much eliminating in a very short time any form of nourishment I attempted to take in. In other words, folks, I got food poisoning. I don’t know where, I don’t know how, but I got it, and it wasn’t fun. It wasn’t as bad as the stomach flu over Christmas, but it’s just another event in my life I’d rather not repeat. Two bagels, several cups of rice, and a stack of saltines were my good friends for the past couple of days.

Evil bug While I had that going on, at pretty much exactly the same time Amanda managed to pick up a cold somewhere, too. Children with colds are always so much fun. At least we got her to stop wiping at her nose with her arm immediately after sneezing so we could use a wipe on her and get the mess cleaned up. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: kids have so much snot in them.

Control Alissa did not get sick and so unwittingly performed the roll of “control” in our experiment over the past few days.

/Geek week+ It came to an end Friday with Atlantis successfully touching down at Edwards Air Force base in California, a few days later than planned due to ISS’ situation with the computer malfunctions, the torn insulation blanket, and a bad weather wave-off for a Kennedy Space Center landing. But have no fear, Geek Week will return NET (that’s NASA-speak for “no early than” – you pick up acronyms quickly when you hang out on spaceflight forums) August 7 when Endeavour returns to ISS for more construction.

And why am I a space geek? Looking at pictures like this . . .

. . . has me more than awed in amazement – I have to find out why it looks like that. And I’ll explain: In short, because I won’t bore you with the really technical, aerodynamic-related stuff I don’t really understand, it’s an event that happens just before a vehicle breaks Mach 2. A high pressure wave builds up around certain parts of the vehicle, and areas of low pressure (behind the crew-cabin, the tail, and booster nose cones) cause condensation to build up behind them, resulting in this mist effect. The rainbow-ring is also due to this, or could be the shock-wave itself passing over the vehicle. If you want to be really creeped out, this is also the point at which Challenger disintegrated. This is “max q,” if you remember that term being tossed about, the point at which maximum dynamic pressure is being applied to the vehicle. The shuttles engines are throttled down to something like 65% a little before this to alleviate some of the stresses on the vehicle, then as it passes through max q, the call is made: (and everyone who witnessed the event in some way will remember this) “(Orbiter name), go at throttle up,” and it’s corresponding call back from the shuttle, “Roger, go at throttle up” – the last words heard from Challenger. I still feel nervous hearing those words with every launch today because I know that this is most likely when something could go wrong.

You’ve learned something today, haven’t you. Maybe you’re a little disturbed, but you’ll probably remember this, won’t you?

June 25, 2007

Overlooked Alternatives: Ryan Adams, Pearl Jam, the Trio of Doom

Filed under: Music,News,Overlooked Alternatives — Tom @ 10:31 pm

Summer usually starts to be slim-pickin’s time by about now, but somehow the good stuff just keeps coming. It’s been quite a good year for music, actually. I’m not one to stumble into the grumbling about particular years being worse than others – every year has tons of great new stuff coming out, you just have to keep your eyes and, of course, more importantly, ears open. But, again, this year seems to be particularly strong. I think I might be looking forward to the relatively quiet week next week (big holidays have a tendency to cause those, you know.)

Ryan Adams – Easy Tiger: After what seems like an eternity in Adams-land – 18 months without a single new release – he’s back with what many critics are calling one of his best. I’ve already seen rumors of three releases for the year, not including a box set of rarities, so, if true, he’s going to try and make up for lost time, apparently. In the meantime, I’m really looking forward to hearing this one – Cold Roses and Jacksonville City Nights were a couple of the highlights of 2005.

And, as usual, there are bonus tracks. But this time, there are a LOT of options for the bonus-track seeker. Get ready because this is kind of stunning:

So let me run down your options – you can buy it at:

1. Ryan’s website, where you’ll get a bonus disc with the live, in-studio track “These Girls”
2. Best Buy is where you’ll get a bonus Lost Highway sampler, along with a download code for the Best Buy exclusive bonus track, “I’ll Keep the Change.”
3. Starbucks, who knows…supposedly an extra track and a video track (still waiting for specifics)
4. iTunes, where you’ll get an immediate download of “Two,” a bonus track, “What Sin Replaces Love (Live from ‘The Henry Rollins Show’ on IFC), the bonus video, “Two,” a digital booklet and access to preorder ticket sales through Ticketmaster.
5. Borders, additional online content.
6. CIMS stores, where you’ll get what I was talking about above (a three-song live DVD and lithograph).
7. Overseas, where you’ll get a UK/EU bonus track, “Nobody Listens to Silence,” and HMV, where you get a limited-edition cardboard (horray) slipcase.
8. Japan, where the UK bonus track has an additional friend in the track “Alice.” (Use Babelfish to translate if you like)
9. VINYL – I have been emailing all over trying to find out the specifics of this vinyl release and there are only a few things that I know for sure: the first pressing is on orange vinyl and comes with a poster. I do not know for sure whether there will be the UK bonus track (I think there will be – Ryan’s vinyl pressings in the past normally have the bonus track if time allows) nor do I know whether there will be a printing after the orange vinyl edition (though I also think there will be). Everything I read suggests that there are 2000 orange copies for the entire world, which leads me to believe that since they are being pressed in Nashville, there is only one pressing and it’s a US version. Specifics are very very hard to come by.

(Thanks for that go to Sixtywatt)

Pearl Jam – Live At The Gorge (7 CD Box Set): I’ll admit that I don’t listen to Pearl Jam like I used to, but I still enjoy hearing them from time to time, especially live material where their songs can really come alive in the right instances. This set should be pretty interesting – 100 songs spread out over three complete live shows recorded in 2005 and 2006, one of which opens with an acoustic set. Sure, you may have many of these on the official bootlegs, but these come in gorgeous packaging and at a great price – Circuit City is the store to beat this week as they’ve priced this one at $29.99.

The Trio Of Doom: A great name for this one-off outing of John McLaughlin on guitar, Jaco Pastorius on bass, and Tony Williams on drums. I can only tell you what I’ve read about ’em: the group came together to play at a festival in Havana, Cuba back in 1979. They wound up with only 25 minutes of stage-time, recorded it, and then found most of it unusable, so they re-recorded the songs in a studio with an overdub of crowd noise, and a few of the tracks eventually wound up on albums representing the festival. Until now, the entire set has not been released, and now we get both the live set and the untouched studio set (sans overdubbed crowd.)

June 23, 2007

The Secret joke

Filed under: General — Tom @ 2:43 pm

Remember I mentioned The Secret a short while back, about what a joke the whole thing was? Of course I’m not alone but it seems opposition is quickly building to try and stub out the ridiculous blooming sales of this, frankly, bullshit. Like they say in the article, the book/DVD claims people are responsible for the situations in their lives – so the Jews in concentration camps actually were responsible for that happening in Nazi Germany, not Hitler and his henchmen, and people with terrible, incurable diseases are responsible for those because they just didn’t think positively enough. It just disgusts me that people like this get so much attention and make sales for their stupid products – and very few of the people who buy them think deeply enough to contemplate anything further than “what can I get for myself.” If the power of the this Secret is true, then I’m going to concentrate all my positive thoughts on ridding the world of horrible people like this – in the worst, most gruesome ways possible. Let’s see how it works out.

June 22, 2007

Tomahawk: Anonymous

Filed under: Music,Reviews — Tom @ 9:29 am

Listening to Anonymous without knowing what Mike Patton project it was, those familiar with previous installments in the Tomahawk catalog might be hard-pressed to pin the work specifically on them. Where the earlier two albums focused on abrasive metal, the thematic Native American nature might cause some to assume that Fantomas was responsible, but there are also nods to Patton projects of the distant past – Faith No More and Mr. Bungle. But sure enough, this is all Tomahawk, delivering an album of music inspired by Native American Indians that befits the band name. How listeners feel about it will depend on how adventurous they are.

The Fantomas comparisons begin immediately when Anonymous opens with “War Song,” an atmospheric start to the album filled with wailing vocals and churning guitar. “Mescal Rite I” follows, lending more credence to the belief that this is a Fantomas product – all vocals are Indian chants. In fact, Patton fills many of the rest of the album’s songs with Native American chants with English vocals taking the helm on only a few of the album’s tracks. What’s most surprising is that they’re the album’s least interesting songs. When freed from typical song structure, the band seem to flourish with this material. Guitarist Duane Denison and drummer John Stanier are to be applauded for providing such stunning backing for Patton – not only is it rock that is significantly Native American-inspired, it’s not cliched or laughable as might be the result of many others’ efforts. It’s actually beautiful.

As the albums wears on, however, rather than sounding like Fantomas it becomes more obvious that it’s more that the album doesn’t sound like Tomahawk specifically. The project just doesn’t bear the stamp of the previous outings, so those picking up Anonymous looking for more in the vein of Tomahawk or Mit Gas might be in for a surprise – or disappointment. Tomahawk has evolved, it seems. In fact, “Antelope Ceremony” bears some resemblance, vocally at least, to California-era Mr. Bungle, while “Omaha Dance” sounds like it could have fit on Faith No More’s final album, Album Of The Year. Only “Sun Dance” seems to fit the mold for what a Tomahawk song “should” sound like.

That’s not to say the album is a disappointment – only that it’s very different. It might just be Patton’s most unusual project, and that’s saying a lot coming from the guy who routinely makes weird screams and gutteral sounds with his voice on outings with John Zorn. What makes it so unusual is that, while working within a basic rock format, Tomahawk manages to make something so foreign to most listeners sound so inviting. Anonymous winds up being one of Patton’s most satisfying releases in recent memory and comes highly recommended for adventurous, open-minded listeners.

June 21, 2007

Best trio: Rush. Make it happen.

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 9:11 am

Click and vote for the obvious best rock trio – Rush. It is a freakin’ embarassing shame that the friggin’ Bee Gees are way out in front at this point. This is ridiculous. (I do feel a bit sorry for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, and ZZ Top, who deserve a LOT better than the 1%, 1%, and 0% they are respectively getting right now. Destiny’s Child and TLC do not even belong on this poll – we’re talking about rock and we’re talking about bands. When they pick up some instruments, let me know and I’ll reconsider.)

Update: That’s more like it. Rush is now at 46%, Bee Gees at 29%. I still feel sorry for Hendrix, Cream, ZZ Top, and The Police, however. They all deserve better than that.

Best trio: Rush. Make it happen.

Filed under: Music,News — Tom @ 8:11 am

Click and vote for the obvious best rock trio – Rush. It is a freakin’ embarassing shame that the friggin’ Bee Gees are way out in front at this point. This is ridiculous. (I do feel a bit sorry for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, and ZZ Top, who deserve a LOT better than the 1%, 1%, and 0% they are respectively getting right now. Destiny’s Child and TLC do not even belong on this poll – we’re talking about rock and we’re talking about bands. When they pick up some instruments, let me know and I’ll reconsider.)

June 20, 2007

Father knows fear

Filed under: General — Tom @ 9:15 pm

(Somehow this got marked as “private” in the WordPress Dashboard and so, I think, only I got to see it on my site until today when I noticed the problem. It was meant to be a Father’s Day post but now is three days too late. Annoying. This isn’t the first time WordPress has done this on its own to me, either. Anyway, I’ve edited the time-stamp to make it the newest post, but realize it was written June 16, intended for June 17, Father’s Day.)

Mothers are given a gift to have an instant chemical bond with their children. From the moment they’re born, the love is there and it’s unquestioned. For fathers, it’s a bit different. Maybe some men feel it instantly, but we don’t have that shared chemical bond possessed by someone who was able to grow and carry a tiny person inside of them. Maybe some men look at their offspring and instantly feel love gush up from somewhere inside, but for others it’s just not that way – it’s learned, or grown, maybe cultivated, between child and father. Whatever it is, it was never obvious. Not to me, at least.

I don’t have a doubt that motherhood is the far more difficult task, but for the life of me, I can’t think of anything that’s been more difficult in my life than being a father has for the past 21 months. That’s not to say I’d change a thing, however. It’s a strange thing that happens when you become a parent: you instantly become aware of just how difficult it is, and yet it’s the greatest thing you will ever know.

For me, the worst part has simply been The Fear. I’m a worrier by nature. I get it from my dad who frets over everything that can be fretted over. I can always tell something is getting to him because the muscles in his upper jaw start to flex back and forth as he mulls over the details of what could possibly go wrong. I don’t know if that happens to me. I don’t know what I do. I just know that I’ve always thought deeply about, and probably over-thought, pretty much everything in my life.

I’m not a “planner,” per se, but I almost always do my research before diving headlong into things. I will sit and stare at something new to me for what seems like ages until I’ve thoroughly absorbed everything I can about it, mentally charting out potential disasters, and, in this day of the internet, I research, research, research. But what I can’t research, or plan, is just the everyday random events that wreak far more havoc, and it’s those that, as a parent, I fear more than anything else. And that’s why I probably stay awake at night thinking up worse-case scenarios.

I have this strange belief that if I can somehow imagine it, it probably won’t happen, because, as we all know, whatever you’ve planned for is exactly what won’t happen. So I often lie awake at night and feel The Fear gripping me as another ridiculous scenario enters my brain. My sweet, amazing little Amanda has somehow gotten into the backyard while I’m mowing the lawn and before I know it, she’s reached under the lawnmower and mangled her cute little hand. Probable? No, of course not. My sweet, amazing little Amanda has somehow gotten through all of our security gates and the front door and lock to chase a ball out into the street just as the garbage truck rolls by our house. Again, sure, it could happen, but the likelihood is extremely low (and yet it happens everyday, somewhere – but maybe those kids’ parents didn’t think of the worst-case scenarios . . . )

I think it would be easy to suggest that I don’t trust my daughter, but it’s the opposite. My little girl is brilliant and amazing. I have no doubt of her abilities and her bright future. It’s the rest of the world that I don’t trust. I don’t trust that the garbage truck is going to stop for her, that the driver is going to be paying enough attention to see my beautiful baby girl running out there, unaware of the danger. In reality, I know that as soon as Amanda saw the truck, she’d stop well away from it and stare in awe, pointing and chanting, “Oooh! Truck!” like she always does now when she sees a truck.

But still I fear. I fear everything. In some ways, that’s how I know I’m a father, because I have never feared like I fear now. Danger is everywhere and I want to protect her from every little threat out there. I try and imagine every danger that I can, but I only have so much time and sanity. I have finally realized, of course, that The Fear is just the result of wrapping so much of my life up in one little person that means so much to me that I can’t bear the thought of letting something happen to her that might take her away from me. That fear, of course, is love.

That first night in the hospital with Amanda, I tried to sleep but mostly laid awake listening to her breathe as Alissa slept deeply and soundly after her hard day of work bringing her into the world. With every hitch, hiccup, and squeak from Amanda’s tiny little mouth, I jumped up to her bassinet to make sure she was okay. She always was. I didn’t know it then, but that was my first night facing The Fear.

June 19, 2007

Overlooked Alternatives: matt pond PA, Tomahawk

Filed under: Music,News,Overlooked Alternatives — Tom @ 9:06 am

As usual, I’m making sure that there are widely different releases to talk about. This is, after all, basically how my entire music collection looks and how my brain works. I’m just as likely to jump between bands like this as any other completely different types of music at any time. Playing them back to back is risky to your mental health, but you should be fine. You may not, however, be legally allowed to play two bands like this at the same time – it might result in warping the space-time continuum.

matt pond PA – If You Want Blood: An unusually aggressive title for this gentle chamber pop outfit, this EP precedes the upcoming full-length album, Last Light, due out in late September, and introduces new bassist Steve Jewett who replaces Daniel Mitha, who left the band last year. If you like dramatic, jangly pop-rock with liberal doses of cello and a singer whose voice sounds like old maple syrup, this might be just the band for you. Oh, and this EP is said to be “extremely limited” – something like a couple thousand copies.

Tomahawk – Anonymous: Take one part Faith No More/Mr. Bungle, one part Jesus Lizard, and one part Helmet, and then let them tour through Indian reservations for a while. What you get is this new Tomahawk album of songs inspired by the sounds of Native Americans. Melvins bassist Kevin Rutmanis has left the band, but I’m sure Mike Patton has enough weird noises tucked in his throat to fill the void. What remains to be seen is exactly what this album is going to sound like – what little I’ve heard sounds an awful lot like Patton’s other project (one of many other projects), Fantomas, rather than Tomahawk. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on how you feel about Fantomas . . .

June 18, 2007

BlogBackupOnline

Filed under: Boring site stuff — Tom @ 9:04 am

It’s pretty rare that I find anything actually personally useful in a news article, but today Yahoo delivered with BlogBackupOnline in this piece. The name implies its purpose: it backs up your blog, online. If you’re like me, and you worry about losing all of your writing and yet do absolutely nothing to protect it by backing up your site like you should, this is just what you need. You sign up, log in, put in the address of your site, and it finds what it needs to back up your writing. Then it does so everyday so that if your web host somehow manages to delete everything you at least have the content of your site, if not the visual element (and BBO will back up images on request, too.) the only catch is that you just need to be using one of the more popular blog engines: Blogger, Friendster, LiveJournal, Movable Type, Multiply, Serendipity, Terapad, TypePad, Vox, Windows Live Space, or WordPress (I haven’t even heard of most of these). Pretty cool and handy if you ever want to move your site. I feel safer already.

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