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Sunday, February 18th, 2007
12:00 pm - Jonathan Richman @ The Earl in Atlanta, 17 Feb 2007
Jonathan booked two nights at the Earl in East Atlanta, and he mercifully requested (and received) a "non-smoking event" in their back room. (They had notices displayed prominently throughout the room.)

The Earl is a little pub with what appears to be a speakeasy in back that you reach by walking down a long corridor. The back room is dark, has hardly any furnishings, and is painted in dark red and black, at least as best as I could tell in the low light. There's a fake bat that flutters in between two of the ceiling fans, and that's about the only decoration except for the bottle display in back of the small corner bar. There were a few stools around the edges of the floor, and a small couch area in the corner by the back wall, but otherwise the ratty-looking parquet floor was bare.

Doors opened at 9:15, and at that point only a few people trickled in. They had a pretty long list of pre-sale customers, so I guess none of them were in a hurry to arrive. Indeed, nobody seemed to be in a rush to get in, up to and including the opening act.

The opener was named Gentleman Jesse, who said his normal act was a rather large punk band, but he and a guitarist did an acoustic set tonight. They started playing just before ten, and did about ten songs, none of which were especially memorable. They finished up around quarter to eleven, and after they put away their equipment came out to watch the main event.

After the opener was done, I walked up to the stage and staked out a spot in front, just behind a couple who were actually sitting on the stage during the transition. This was surprisingly easy. It's not so much that there weren't any people there, but more that everyone was pretty low-key and a lot of the people who had been in the front went out to the main bar to get fresh drinks. The exception was a group of about five guys who were front and center, eagerly staring at the stage. In the time leading up to 11:00, the area around the stage filled in, and probably half the people in the room were within six feet of the stage. From my vantage, the back of the place looked pretty empty. I'd guess there were only about a hundred people total in the place.

Jonathan and Tommy came out right around 11:00 to rousing applause. They started with a song that I didn't recognize, and then followed it up with "Her Mystery Not of High Heels and Eye Shadow". After just a few songs, they did a very laid-back and lighthearted version of Pablo Picasso, which the crowd really took to. It was still fairly downtempo, but a little more energetic than the first few songs.

Jonathan seemed to be enjoying himself the whole time. He did a lot of dancing, and he brought out the "jingle bells" a lot more than I have seen in the past. Tommy spent an inordinate amount of time staring at Jonathan's guitar, I suppose to get his cues.

The whole set was pretty mellow, with the exception of Lesbian Bar, which included a lot of dancing and a fair amount of cowbell. The guys who were in the front-most position spent the whole time dancing, and this song was when their gyrations were at the most frenetic. When he did a couple of spanish-language tracks, Jonathan included "free" translations along with the lyrics, which drew some laughs from the crowd. Give Paris One More Chance was also popular, in part because Jonathan added a number of personal observations along the way.

He finished up with a really good rendition of Surrender, which went on for a good long time and included some fun extemporaneous commentary. The "encore" was just a little retread of some highlights from the show, rather than additional material. After Tommy exited the stage, Jonathan sang a little a capella snippet of Les étoiles, and then went off. The set was just over an hour.

Within a few minutes the back room was pretty empty, and by the time I got out into the main bar, Tommy was already at the bar with a drink.

Overall it was a good show, if a bit more low-key than I'm used to. My guess is that it's from the audience; I remember the first time I saw Jonathan he did the quietest and least ad-libbed set I have ever seen, I think mainly because the audience just sat there quietly and without moving.

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Monday, December 18th, 2006
10:00 am - Tideland
Like all Gilliam's movies, Tideland is a rumination on how madness provides a protective cover from the vagaries of life. This particular instantiation of that story is probably his most brutal and unflinching. Given that the main character is a girl of perhaps seven years of age, that's quite an achievement, in its way. In fact it's brilliantly realized.

Unfortunately I found it kind of horrifying to watch. Compared with say Tsotsi, a much less fantastical window into a difficult and troubled life of a young person, Tideland is almost charming. Jeliza-Rose is really a sweet girl, and amazingly well-adjusted for someone who has lived her entire life in a madhouse. I did feel that the film represented a sort of child's-eye-view of what was going on around her, which was Gilliam's stated intent. (His little intro did frame the movie very well.)

Yet I found it as deeply disturbing as perhaps an unvarnished Brothers Grimm tale is meant to be for children. (Hmm, another theme there?) I find myself wondering if that's because of a trauma I had in childhood that I didn't recover from. Probably not, since I had an easy, indeed almost idyllic, childhood.

Having read a couple of positive reviews since viewing the movie, I find that it is really much more artful (in a good way) than I had realized while watching it. There are movie-buff references galore. It has a much firmer voice than I had realized. Subtle themes weave in and out right under your nose. Still it is on balance almost documentary-like in its realism, at least compared with other Gilliam films. Reflecting on it in this way, I see that he is truly an auteur with a crisp, clear vision that he has masterfully presented.

Even so I can't say that I enjoyed it. Normally I love Gilliam's work, but this one was too much for me. I'm not sorry I saw it, but I doubt I will see it again.

current mood: sick

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Tuesday, December 5th, 2006
11:41 pm - Pie
I'm not a big dessert fan, but I do like pie. Especially savory pies. Usually the crusts are my favorite part. A good pumpkin pie is my favorite "sweet" pie. I'm craving pie right now for some reason, and all I have at home is cheesecake. :(

When I was at my parents' for Thanksgiving, my brother made his first pie. It was an apple pie based on a recipe he got from the web (of course). It turned out really delicious. The funny thing about it was, my mom had been talking with her friends earlier in the week about how she was making a big dinner, but didn't know how to make pies. So her friends suggested that one of "the boys" should make one. Yet my brother came up with the idea himself. Funnier still, while my mom was helping him make the pie, she discovered that pie-making wasn't so hard after all, so she may have found a new pastime. :)

I'm on a Swedish word-of-the day email list, and yesterday's word was "paj" (which is a direct import of "pie" into Swedish, pronounced the same as the English word). The etymology indicated that the word for the food "pie" originated from the bird "magpie", which makes me think there's something extra going on with "four-and-twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie". Hmm. Something to chew on.

current mood: trivial

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Monday, November 13th, 2006
11:26 am - disco party bus DOT COM!
I saw this while driving around town over the weekend, and it made me laugh:


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Thursday, November 9th, 2006
11:22 pm - BNL show!
Barenaked Ladies played Thursday night at the Gwinett Arena, a local venue northeast of Atlanta. Their opening act, cleverly named Mike Doughty's Band after the lead singer/songwriter, is also a favorite of mine so I was very excited to see them.

The show was great! I really enjoyed Mike Doughty. Among others from his recent solo albums, they played St. Louise is Listening, which is one of my favorites from his Soul Coughing days. They opened with Ossining, which is a fun one from his newer repertoire. He also did a fun beat-box number that was very random but still rocked. "More Bacon Than the Pan Can Handle!" When I saw him last fall, he did more or less the same show, but of course about three or four times longer; last night he only played for about 45 minutes. The arrangements felt quite different, but I couldn't say specifically how. Seems like they take more of a jazz approach to the songs, using the basics as a place to hang some other stuff. At the end of the set, he said he'd be doing a signing at the merch table, and mentioned a litany of things that he would willingly sign, including portions of (possibly unwilling) friends or family members' bodies, and heisted components of the arena (though he didn't condone the theft itself). My friends enjoyed the opening set, even though I had never exposed them to Doughtyness before. A woman that was sitting next to us thought Doughty's autographing idea was great, and that she'd take her sister to get signed. :)

Gwinnett Arena was pretty nice, it's roughly the same size as the Palace in Detroit and seems to be much newer. I don't know what they do there beside have rock shows, as all the sports arenas are right downtown. The place was pretty easy to get to, it's about 25 miles outside of town but took less than half an hour to reach. The parking was free, which was a nice bonus. I guess I was a little surprised by how relatively sparse the crowd was. If I remember right, the arena seats about 18,000 in this stage configuration, and I'd be surprised if there were eight thousand in the place. All the nosebleed seats were full, but the back of the bowl was essentially empty. The crowd in the front (and we were *way* in front!) was pretty cool. We were just to the right ("Ed side") of center stage and in the fourth row, so the seats really couldn't have been much better. As it was we were more looking up at the band than forward.

BNL played a fairly conservative show as I saw it, lots of old-school stuff and *none* of the Creegan/Hearn fronted material. Bank Job was I think the closest they got to a Kevin song. It felt like they did a lot of Ed material, which I tend to favor, so I was pretty happy in that regard. Steve was really amazing, though; some of the best numbers were his.

That I can recall they did Great Provider, Alcohol, and Second Best that weren't among the songs they did at the Detroit show. All of those were really awesome. Wind It Up, Sound of Your Voice and Pinch Me were all excellent too. Bank Job was also very good live. Ed hit a little snag in the middle of One Week, and did the same line about 10 times before he quite got going again; he seemed more amused by it than flustered. (Speaking of amusing, what's with Kev's beard?) The whole set list can be found under Duluth, GA on this page: http://home.comcast.net/~rfc2000/tracker/BLATtracker.htm

They had a lot of fun along the way too. Ed did a long talk about his Guitar Hero addiction that was pretty funny. At the end he summarized by saying that he felt that playing the video game had made him 50% more rockin'. Steve piped up and said that he was also 1/3 Tunisian, which led into some awkward pun-explanation-banter. Their (relatively short) rap was really challenging. Ed managed to rhyme words like Gwinnett, but Steve stumbled on simpler stuff. All of the rap interlude was supported by some great beats by Tyler of course, and really got the crowd moving.

They did a little boy-band-esque dance number at the end of the song Angry People. That was pretty funny, and it seemed like some of the audience members in the front expected it. Once they reached their pose at the end, people from the front row threw flowers at them. I laughed for several minutes over that whole thing, it just struck me as hilarious. Overall they had a lot of fun on stage, which translated well into entertainment for the audience. They're also technically very good, especially as vocalists.

They finished off the final encore with Call and Answer, which I thought went really well. At the very end, Ed pointed out one of my Canadian friends and referenced my friend's David Suzuki shirt, which he was thrilled about. My friend also won one of the signed BLAM albums by buying one of those $5 "environmental" stickers they're pimping.

I had nearly forgot how good a show they put on. I can understand why some of my friends "follow" the band. My friends and I had an excellent time.

Getting out after the show was also relatively quick, except for the people ahead of us who simply didn't know how to merge into traffic (even when there was no traffic). Afterwards we went to an in-town bar and had some cheap beer that was $4 a pitcher, as opposed to the Butt Light at the show that was $7 a glass.

It was a really enjoyable evening. We have to do that more often.

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Tuesday, August 8th, 2006
6:59 pm - First times
Today I rode the local light rail system (MARTA) for the first time. The trains came pretty quickly, and ride seemed to go fast, but somehow it took over an hour each way to travel a distance that takes fifteen minutes by car. Oh, and even in the "cool" morning time, it was hot enough (especially in the stations) that I was soaked with sweat by the time I got to work. And the bus fumes at the Five Points station were thick enough that I was nauseous for well over an hour after I arrived at work.

Having said that, it was a pretty satisfying experience. The trains were pretty full, even at 7:00 AM, but never overflowing. They ran quickly from station to station, and the waits for each train were short. Not to mention that the trains themselves are air-conditioned! (Nice!)

I haven't run the numbers yet, but I think that it costs slightly less to take the train now than it does to drive to work, if you only consider raw dollar cost (including depreciation). And that's buying single-fare tickets: with a weekly or monthly pass it would be substantially cheaper. Of course losing the extra ninety minutes of time each day might counteract that. (I don't really believe that my free time is worth less than $1.50/hour, despite prior evidence to the contrary.)

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Monday, July 10th, 2006
5:59 pm - Am I back?
No, I don't think so, not yet. It seems that I have been off LJ since basically the beginning of April. I have posted once or twice since then, but haven't actually been reading. (Normally I'm an avid lurker and read just about everything that shows up on my f-list.) If there happen to be major things you want me to know about, you'll have to push them at me for the time being.

Anyway, I've been really busy, and I expect things to settle down by the end of, well, maybe August. We'll see. In the meantime I'm not sure how much I'll be on here.

In Ann Arbor related news, does anyone happen to know the name of the photographer who's normally at the front of the "King's Chosen" unofficial art fair section off Liberty? He's the one who prides himself on not promoting his work as "limited editions" or even selling stuff off his displays. I'd really like to order a photo from him, but I've lost his card. Given my current location, it's not exactly trivial for me to swing by his booth after work, like it used to be. If anyone knows, or happens to swing by that booth, I'd like his name and website.

Speaking of pictures, I just bought a Scrabble board. Here's the first game:

It was a pretty high-scoring game for three people, I thought. (If you can't see in the image, the winner had 209 points. And no, I didn't win.) Yes, there is one word in that puzzle that's not strictly speaking a word. But only one, at least according to the dictionary we were using (an Official Scrabble Dictionary, by the way).

P.S. Hi rikhei! :)

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Friday, April 21st, 2006
11:14 am - Save the Internet!
It appears that the US telcos' recent noise about "charging Google extra" is quickly translating into a lobbying effort in congress. Their idea being that the backbone providers can pick and choose which data gets to go where. In effect, rather than simply being able to "charge extra" the network owners would control the flow of information. That would put US users in a worse position than Chinese Internet users, because here the decisions to block or allow could be completely capricious, and (somewhat like in China) the decision makers wouldn't be accountable to anyone.

Don't let congress ruin the Internet!



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Wednesday, March 15th, 2006
4:24 pm - Mornings, sweet mornings
Yesterday for what I think was the first time since I started my new job I woke up early enough to take my jog before leaving for work.

The weather was just perfect. It had rained all night and the air felt fresh and cool. It was warm enough for shorts but cool and dry enough that I didn't ever feel hot.

The run was really invigorating, and I felt its effects all day. I forget sometimes how good it is to start the day with some serious exercise.

In fact, it was so good that despite a late night last night my body woke up chipper and raring to go this morning half an hour early. It was just above freezing outside, so I opted for an indoor workout, but it was still nice to get going in the morning.

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Tuesday, March 14th, 2006
12:52 pm - Happy pi day!
Celebrate pi

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Friday, March 10th, 2006
5:11 pm - Too darn hot
Spring has been progressing for a while now, and the weather has taken a turn for the decidedly warmer.

But this afternoon was a little scary. As I went outside to leave work, it was pretty warm and sunny out. Not too humid despite the rainstorms last night and not exactly hot. In fact I'd say it was just right.

Until I went into the parking structure. I deliberately park in the underneath portion of the lot to keep the sun off my car. But today that wasn't enough. When I went into the enclosed portion of the lot, it felt weirdly hot in there. It wasn't exactly stifling, but a wave of heat met me and didn't really subside until I got into my car. The lot isn't exactly enclosed, and there was a light breeze blowing through the whole area where I parked, so it wasn't like it was stuffy. But somehow it was nearly enough to make me feel dizzy.

I dread what it will feel like come summer, when the temperature outside approaches 100 and the sun beats down relentlessly. My typical departure time from work also corresponds with the hottest part of the day. *Shudder*

current mood: hot

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8:22 am - neurogenesis
From euziere, exciting research about the effects (and existence!) of neurogenesis in human brains.

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Thursday, March 9th, 2006
7:08 pm - Happy birthday to captainblack!
May your buried treasure surface today!

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Wednesday, March 8th, 2006
3:44 pm - By Blind Kiwa's beard!
Okay, they're more like sideburns, I guess.

current mood: amused

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Monday, February 27th, 2006
7:53 am - Springy things
The weather this weekend has been warm. On Friday I saw my first magnolia tree in full bloom, so things are definitely trending in a springlike direction.

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Saturday, February 25th, 2006
8:21 pm - That's cool
A few weeks ago I got a telemarketing call at home, where they were asking about import and microbrew beers. Due to the subject matter I didn't do my usual (hang up) but instead I went through with the survey. The whole thing lasted less than ten minutes. It was actually fun! They said there'd be some reward for doing it, but I didn't pay much attention to that part.

Yesterday I got a check for five bucks in the mail from the telemarketing firm. They paid me to talk about beer! Suckers!!!! :)

At a rate like $5 for ten minutes, I wish I could get a job doing that full-time. Better still if I could taste-test or otherwise sample the wares along the way.

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Thursday, February 23rd, 2006
8:15 am - I wear my sunglasses at ... dawn
For the first time since I started my new job, I had to wear sunglasses on my drive to work. Today I left for work late enough that it was after sunrise, and for the first time I was "late"1 to work on a day when it wasn't pouring down rain. As such I had the sun in my eyes for at least part of the drive.

Most days I leave early enough that the sun isn't yet near the horizon, so I haven't had that much need for sunglasses in the afternoons either. Now that "winter" down here is officially over and cloud cover is so much sparser, I expect I'll be using my sunglasses a lot more often.

1 Despite being later than usual, I was still the first person in my group at work, by at least an hour. Flex time is cool!

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Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
4:52 am - This 'n' that
Today was more crappy than not. Shortly before I went to bed last night, I noticed a screw embedded in one of the tires of my car. First thing today I took it to get the hole patched. Turns out that you *can't* patch a hole that's on the edge of the tire. So I had to throw away a tire that had 1800 miles on it. Suck.

Trying several strategies to get the tire prorated/free on some angle failed, and wasted a good 90 minutes of my morning. So I got to work about 3 hours late. The good news there is, that's not really a problem in my department (as long as I get work done & put in my hours generally). At least my drive to work was quick.

Then at lunch I went to run a quick errand. That turned out to involve waiting well over an hour for a simple exchange that should have taken five minutes. Plus one of the things I wanted to return had been held too long & they wouldn't take it back. Then it took another hour for the actual getting and eating of food.
The result of which is that I stayed over 3 hours later than usual at work. Fortunately not too big of a deal, because I was going to a Java User Group meeting tonight anyway, and it's in the opposite direction from home. But it meant that I had to rush dinner.

Dinner was rushed, but good. I went to a place up on Buford Highway (which is apparently a "Korean Corridor" -- most shop signs have Korean on them). Had bi bim naeng-myun. Yummy!

I got to the meeting late, enough that I basically missed the first speaker's presentation. But the second presentation was good. The only downside is that I get home late -- after 10:30.

I did a few tasks around the house, and should have quickly gone to bed. Instead I decided to play with my computer again. I remembered a password from over 2 years ago, so that's good. But the system's even more ancient than I thought -- the Mozilla browser doesn't even have tabbed browsing!!! Basically it would have been better for me to clobber the machine and start from scratch than try setting it up. And now it's late (for me, at least).

Meanwhile, all day I've had a wet cough. I think I'm coming down with something nasty. Don't think I have a fever, I haven't really checked.

Now it's past midnight, and my alarm is set for 5:30. That means a second short night in a row. Not good when I don't feel well.

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Sunday, February 19th, 2006
1:31 am - Second-class web citizen
I am typing this from a computer that is running a "very old" Linux distro (one that's actually no longer maintained). This version of Linux is about four years old, and as such has hopelessly outdated and ancient software on it. My browser (though it's based on the Mozilla codebase) doesn't render any of the standard sites I use terribly well, and many sites suggest I get a "compatible browser". (Which would involve downloading lots of software, not just a browser.)

Lots of things don't display at all, or worse they display but elements are overlaid, positioned in obscure locations, or otherwise not reachable. LJ itself started out displaying a message at the top of my friends page that said something like "You're sorry". I don't know if it was an insult to my browser, or to me.

All of this makes me feel like a second-class web citizen. I'm severely restricted in what I can do. (I'm not even convinced that this post will work!)

In any case, this doesn't bode well for the current useful lifetime of an operating system. In theory I could make this system usable for something as simple as webmail, but it would take about as much time as installing a whole new version of the operating system. In essence that makes the OS unusable for anything but the most esoteric pursuits.

To me that leads to a rather grim conclusion. Future operating systems may well become obsolete even more quickly, rendering old hardware and software worthless in a surprisingly short interval. In turn that means that if Microsoft gets its way and forces a "trusted" computing system from the processor on up, that open-source operating systems (necessarily running on outdated "untrusted" equipment) could quickly become unusable, as they become unable to keep up with modern standards.

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Thursday, February 16th, 2006
8:00 am - First mosquito of the year
Looks like spring is starting even earlier than the local groundhogs predicted. This morning I saw the first mosquito of the year. Unfortunately I didn't get to kill it.

There are other signs of spring on the way as well. Tomorrow, for example, the afternoon temps are supposed to be in the seventies.

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