Known Johnson

March 21, 2008

Revolution #9 Dream

Filed under: General — Tom @ 12:24 pm

I won’t attempt another equation, since you all failed that one in such an embarrassing way. I’ll just say it: yesterday was Alissa’s and my 9th anniversary. Believe it or not, she has put up with being legally bound to me for nine years (not to mention three years prior to that dating, too.) That’s nine years of me regaling her with useless, probably boring minutia of bands she never, ever thought she even wanted to know about before the end of 1995 when she met me, and, believe me, that forms a lot of the basis of my thoughts, frighteningly enough. And nine years of me saying things like “beef cookies” when we’re having hamburgers. And me simply thinking the word “meat” is funny. She’s a very special woman, that Alissa. I’m glad she has chosen to keep me.


March 19, 2008


Filed under: General — Tom @ 11:12 pm

Does anyone else remember filmstrips from school?

filmstrip projector

For whatever reason, I always end up thinking about these when I think about school, and how Amanda will have absolutely no idea what these are because schools today are all fancy-schmantsy with Cable In The Classroom and the Intarweb and all that. When I was a kid, it was this or maybe if we got lucky an actual film, and, later, TVs with VCRs that rarely ever worked right. If they did, it looked like the old cable boxes that had buttons to be tuned to get in the channels you weren’t supposed to get – wavy lines and horrible, warbly sound.

Filmstrip days were always the ultimate in boredom – it was like watching the worst slideshow of someone’s most horrendously boring vacation accompanied by an even more boring dramatized reading of the events going on in it. Still pictures on a screen for a minute or two at a time while information is being delivered to anxious, bored kids in a darkened room is just not a great way to educate. About the only thing that kept most of us awake was the piercing BEEP that sounded when the film needed to be advanced.

That’s right, youngest of the young out there, this was all manual. Some lucky kid sat behind this little device as it belched a cloud of invisible heat from its projection lamp and waited, tense, for that beep. No one wanted to be late cranking the knob for fear of being on the receiving end of an attack from the rest of the class. No one wanted to sit watching the same frozen still, which usually featured some character caught mid-action, open-mouthed as if talking, and the film itself was usually something about 15 years out of date. Come on!, they’d yell, and if this happened too much, if the operator proved too nervous and too undependable, a backup was called in. No one wanted to have that happen – it was the ultimate insult.

For whatever reason, however, getting to run the filmstrip projector was seen as some great reward, and filmstrip days were exciting for the one person who got to man the machine. God knows why, because the stress was great, but somehow being in control of the timing of images-to-narration made this a pretty powerful position. Sometimes kids who’d done it a lot got cocky, turning the advance-crank early before the beep to show that they’re on top of things. Once in a while, they’d get tripped up, finding only a pause in an unusually long segment rather than a transition to a new one, and have to sheepishly back track for a moment before quickly jumping forward again. Despite their best efforts, there was no art to filmstripping.

In a way, I guess I have to admit that I hope Amanda doesn’t have to endure crap like this. It was pointless. We knew it then, I’m sure the teachers knew it then, too. I’d like to think that one of the benefits of all of these new technologies is that kids won’t be dealing with long out of date materials like we did. Entertaining as it was, I can’t remember a single thing from any filmstrip I ever saw, and I must have seen hundreds of them throughout my education. That said, I can’t say I specifically remember all that much of anything from school learning itself, most of what I learned that meant anything was what I picked up out of curiosity. I’m sure there are general things I learned from school that would be impossible to pick up on your own, but one thing I know for certain, I could never have experienced filmstrips on my own. So, for that alone, I do owe the educational system something.

March 18, 2008

Nine billion names of God

Filed under: General — Tom @ 6:40 pm

Arthur C. Clarke is dead. He is, without a doubt, the most important writer in my life. He is the first writer that made me need to read and read and read, and it was his books that I read for years. I still have the same issues that I read when I was a kid. I can’t really say much right now – I knew this day would come soon, he’s been sick and he’s very old, but it’s a surprise nonetheless.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” A very, very smart man is gone.

March 17, 2008

Bad dream baby

Filed under: General — Tom @ 11:01 pm

Dreams/nightmares I’ve had in the past few days have involved:

  • pissed off hippos (which may be due to watching an episode of I Shouldn’t Be Alive in which people are attacked by hippos in an African river)
  • restrooms whose stall walls mysteriously shorten as I enter, revealing to me the completely oblivious occupant of the stall next door, and these same stall walls turned into theater seats (while I was still seated on a toilet)
  • “angel crocodile roaches” – somehow, I am part of the crew filming a Dirty Jobs episode in some very creepy old building, and get sent off to investigate some nasty old room where one of the building’s tenants informs me about these horrifying little creatures. I can’t see them, and he points to one on the ceiling that, being disturbed, begins flapping about against the ceiling. I lean in to look and see that it fits the description – a big jaw with angry teeth, wings and – suddenly I am being attacked by a horde of the roaches from behind. This one is especially vivid because I woke up this morning at this point and promptly forced myself to remember every bit I could. I then could not get back to sleep. It was 4:15am. I am tired.

March 16, 2008

Logical fallacies in the land of commerce and profit

Filed under: General — Tom @ 9:20 pm

I buy a lot of music used through Amazon and Half. I love shopping used locally, but really, I don’t think there’s much of a better deal than this – most of the time, I spend maybe $3-5 on each CD, total. Deals are yours to be had, and you get to rip it into your choice of formats forever once you get it, unlike Itunes and Amazon downloads – you’re stuck with what you buy, and with the majority of Itunes’ offerings, that’s not much (if we’re talking Itunes Plus, they’re at least decent bitrates, but still . . . )

I’m picky. I want it all. And I know it’s out there. If I go in search of something, I want the album as it was presented when it was bought. CD, case, artwork, etc. Just search for something on either site and you’ll see a ton of listings for “CD ONLY – no back artwork” or some such variant. I realize some people get rid of jewelcases, but getting rid of all of the artwork? Isn’t that just shooting yourself in the foot? What’s more, many of these people list their offerings as “like new.” Huh? Doesn’t the inclusion of “like” mean that it has to have some semblance to the original state it was presented? Don’t look at me like that – I don’t care if it’s a one-cent CD. If you state “like new,” it had better actually be like new. That’s just a logical fallacy otherwise. And annoying.

Here’s an actual excerpt off Amazon, condition listed as “Very Good”: “CD comes in sleeve, no jewel case. Front liner insert/booklet will be provided at no additional cost.” Really? At no additional cost? How generous of you to toss in that half-ounce of paper. I will certainly choose your copy at $3.00 over the other dozen or so that do include all the artwork for less, because you’re not charging extra for that.

Now, those of you who don’t give a dump about any artwork and just want really cheap music, well, Amazon and Half are a like hitting the jackpot at the greatest yardsale ever. Penny CDs are to be had everywhere. No artwork means no one wants them, and people have to get rid of them somehow, so the price is low. I just won’t be one of the ones buying ’em. Have at ’em, if that floats yer boat.

March 15, 2008

For it is a human number

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 10:45 am

Is it fitting because it’s mostly rock . . . or am I doomed?

March 14, 2008


Filed under: Music — Tom @ 10:07 pm

ItunesRegistry gives you the opportunity to bear it all – upload your Itunes XML and show off your collection, good and bad. I’ve taken the plunge, upping my 60+mb XML file to let you ooh-and-aah, and possibly giggle, over my collection. It’s not reading Itunes’ registry entirely correct, however, as it points out Led Zeppelin’s “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” as my favorite song, which is a great song, to be sure, but when looking at Itunes myself, it is nowhere in the top league (Radiohead, Wilco, Crowded House, Glen Hansard/Marketa Irglova (a surprise), Brian Eno, and Rush occupy the top ranks.) These numbers, by the way, are only since last fall – I didn’t count my Ipod usage until then. (And also keep in mind that along with some things being Alissa’s, there are duplicates – I’ve kept copies of things that are long gone because I’m lazy, or sometimes just to compare in cases where I’ve gotten different versions. This only makes up for a tiny percentage of the insanity represented here, however.)

I’m most intrigued (and a bit frightened) by the “Ipod Requirment” field. Yikes.

March 13, 2008

Wear a lifevest

Filed under: Music,Offerings — Tom @ 11:08 pm

Last week’s American Idol-inspired fervor over Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” and, more precisely, Jeff Buckley’s transcendent version, it got me thinking about putting up a live version for my readers to enjoy – yes, all 6 or 8 of you. Well, that fell through the second I hit upon this stunning take on “Lover, You Should Have Come Over,” which just happens to be probably my favorite Buckley piece, and it’s a gorgeous soundboard recording – you need this if you dig Jeff Buckley. It’s a big file – 13.5mb, but it’s also encoded at 224kbps VBR, so it’s quality.

Jeff Buckley – “Lover, You Should Have Come Over” Live at the Knitting Factory, Feb. 4, 1997, New York.

The lesson to be learned from Jeff’s short life? When you go swimming in a big river, heed the subject line.

March 12, 2008

Sometimes you feel like a nut

Filed under: Curiosities — Tom @ 10:48 pm

Sometimes you don’t. But I don’t like those candy bars with the coconut in them, and I’m not a big fan of almonds, either, so where does that leave me?

March 11, 2008

Satan Oscillate My Metallic Sonatas

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 11:33 pm

How was my day? Pretty average until . . .


Yeah, that’s right. For all you music junkies, and especially anyone who lived through the grunge movement and loved it, that’s SOMMS right there. And I own it. Again.

SOMMS!  Again.

You see, I quickly ran out and bought this pretty limited version of Soundgarden’s huge breakthrough album, Badmotorfinger back in 1992 when it was released. I loved it . . . and then a few years later, as things go, I just got sick of them, and it, and had no idea how rare this thing really was. So it found itself in a pile of trade-ins one day which led me to buy some ill-advised crap, and shortly thereafter, I regretted getting rid of the SOMMS version of Badmotorfinger because I never saw another copy again. Badmotorfinger – yes, it can be found, cheap, in practically every used music store. But SOMMS is a true rarity, at least in my neck o’ the woods. Until today, when I felt the strange urge to stop at Zia on the way home.

I stopped at their “new arrivals” bin. I scanned the alphabet of discs, noting a few interesting things here and there, and in the S section there was, seemingly as always, a copy of Badmotorfinger. I didn’t look too closely, and started to walk away . . . but then I darted back because something looked wrong, different. And there it was – the presence of those 5 letters on the spine that I’ve been looking for for so long. What’s more, right next to it was a ridiculous price – $6.99. This is one of those times when I’m sure that someone from the store is going to see me with it and grab me because they’ve misplaced this obviously mispriced set. There’s one in an Ebay store right now for $50 (but completed items tell me some have recently gone for less than $25, so who knows?) Someone wasn’t paying attention, that’s for sure. I held on to it tight as I made a quick circuit, picking up a cheap copy of Black Sabbath’s Heaven And Hell while I was at it (because The Dio Years is simply not enough, and no remasters are in site for the Dio-Sabbath albums.) And then I made my exit.

Is SOMMS everything I remembered? Well, no, admittedly. “Into The Void (Sealth)” (fittingly, a Sabbath cover) is pretty awesome, as is their cover of Devo’s “Girl U Want,” but the rest isn’t such incredible material. Honestly, however, it’s those first two tracks that I wanted this back for in the first place. I’m sure I could have had mp3s of these tracks almost instantly, but, really, part of the fun here was the long hunt and getting the real deal.

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