Friday, February 03, 2006

The Devil's Music

'Faust' Opera Video Stirs Angry Parents
(AP) BENNETT, Colo. - Some parents in this prairie town are angry with an elementary school music teacher for showing pupils a video about the opera "Faust," whose title character sells his soul to the devil in exchange for being young again.

"Any adult with common sense would not think that video was appropriate for a young person to see. I'm not sure it's appropriate for a high school student," Robby Warner said after two of her children saw the video.

Another parent, Casey Goodwin, said, "I think it glorifies Satan in some way."

Frankly, she should have been fired for introducing elementary kids to opera. /* shudder */

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Elephant Talk

After immersing myself in Talking Heads' Remain in Light all weekend, I started jonesing for more Adrian Belew, causing me to dig out my vinyl copy of King Crimson's Discipline (the only rekkid I ever won from WXYC and handed to me somewhat reluctantly by Bill Burton's own two hands). My first thought on hearing it back then was "this don't sound anything like Court of the Crimson King" and the second, formed during the second track ("Frame by Frame"), was "damn this is some good shit!" Despite owning the obligatory prog albums like Roundabout, Dark Side of the Moon and ELP's Works: Volume 1 (how frickin' pretentious is THAT title?) and make no mistake, I dug them - I just never got into it in the way that the cats that flock to Storybook Farm outside of Chapel Hill every year for Prog Day do.

But Discipline and Beat that followed it were new wave prog, if such a thing is possible. Fripp's and Belew's guitar styles really shouldn't work together but they do in some remarkable ways and Belew's vocals manage to sound more geeky paranoid than David Byrne's. Sure, it's thinking people's music as prog is supposed to be, but you can dance to it. Well, some of it. And not that swirly-dancing crap either.

I know I said I wasn't only going to listen to 20+ year old music this year and I'm not - I've got some new stuff that I got for Christmas that I'm working out and some other stuff to pick up in the next couple of weeks, but the Crimson is music that will sound as good 25 years from now as it did 25 years ago.

Six outta "24"

Okay, we're a quarter of the way through the day (hey, it's afternoon now!) and Jack still hasn't really tortured anybody yet. Oh, he's tried, but the baggage handler took a suicide pill before Jack could really get started and while Cummings got the snot beaten out of him, that was more out of anger over his role in David Palmer's death than to really get an information out of him. When Jack actually started questioning him, all it took was a threat (well, and a well-honed knife held just below his eye) to get Walt to spill like a little baby. You know Bauer must be really disappointed that he hasn't had an excuse to poke someone's eye out yet.

I don't understand the discussions in other forums comparing President Logan to our own W. Admittedly I don't have a lot of background having not seen anything prior to this season other than the first 4-5 episodes of Season 1, but it's not clear to me that Logan's stupid (unlike the real CinC). And one thing you can say about W is that he's decisive (usually in exactly the wrong direction) where Logan is about as uncomfortable making a decision as he is being around his wife now that he's tried to have her committed (again). He certainly has Nixon's paranoia (and jowls) but I don't see much comparison to any other recent pres. He seems to be the accidental president - someone who thought the job of Vice President sounded great 'cause he wouldn't have to do any real work. Some of you that saw previous seasons may know that to be totally untrue, but I only have this season to go on.

Still, it's holding up pretty well for me and with the death (or impending death) of many of the other hour-long shows I've watched from time to time this season (Night Stalker, Threshold, Surface) I'll stick with it for a while longer. At least 'til dinner time.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Ride Like the Wind

Lex may want a military-grade automatic shotgun for Father's Day, but despite not having any progeny, this hydrogen fuel-cell motorcycle is what I want (link via boingboing). According to GaijinBiker,
Apparently, riding it feels more like skiiing or windsurfing than like riding a normal motorcycle. Rumors that Intelligent Energy will be adding simulated engine noise to the ENV are false — the company sees the bike's silent operation as a selling point, not a problem. Interestingly, the fuel cell that powers the bike is removable, and can be used to run other items in your home.
It's only rated at 50 mph, so not something that I'd be taking out on I-40 or riding up the Blue Ridge Parkway, but what a great commuter bike!

Where the Rubber Hits the Road

I don't apologize for driving an SUV for a number of reasons, primarily 1) it's not a particularly big one [2001 XTerra], 2) I have a reason for it [huge tandem kayak and gear for two takes up a LOT of space] and most of all 3) I don't drive it very much [still less than 50K miles after 4.5 years]. If I didn't telecommute, I don't think I would have bought it. That being said, it's been relatively inexpensive to operate, until now - the dreaded first tire purchase. I knew they'd be expensive, but I wasn't quite prepared for just HOW expensive. I walked into Chapel Hill Tire Saturday morning (just checking, mind you) and was hit with an estimate of $650 right off the bat. Of course they could get me something cheaper, maybe some Dunlops for $550, but clearly I'd be a cheap-ass wienie if I didn't opt for the 70,000 mile Goodyear Forteras.

So I called Dad since I knew he'd just bought some tires for his Chevy Blazer that he was really happy with and I was pretty sure he hadn't dropped that kind of jack on them and sure enough he hadn't. But he couldn't remember what kind of tires they were or how big or how much he'd paid. Uh, that didn't help a lot, Daddio! But then he told me that he researched whatever the hell kind of tire he bought on The Tire Rack and in fact that did help a hell of a lot! I learned a lot (for one thing, the tire the guys at Chapel Hill Tire tried to sell me was in fact the best-reviewed tire in the category I'm looking for, so good on them) and I also found what seems to me to be a good compromise of price and positive reviews - the Firestone Destination LEs that the local Firestone dealer was able to tell me he could hook me up with for less than $500. Still damned expensive but much more in line with what I was expecting.

So thanks, Dad! And the rest of you bookmark that website - you're going to need it someday.