Friday, July 29, 2005


Strange colours in the sky over Dallas/Fort Worth. There's a photo gallery too - some nice shots. Personally, I think it's just a promotion for Shell's favourite movie of all time, "War Of The Worlds" (he says that about every Dakota Fanning film).

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Music: DFW Bands

Here's one for Robb - Dallas - Fort Worth Area Band Encyclopedia. My favourite band name in that list is She Only Thinks In Manchester. Interesting entry for Secret Machines, who have gone on to better things, but are here described as a "one-off side-project" with the full name The Secret Machines Of Captain Audio.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Song List: Numbers

Shell added a comment to my last post. Let me drag it out into the sunlight:

Robb and I came up with a good idea. Songs with a number in the title. The first one is, of course, "One" by either Three Dog Night or by U2.

And later added these contributions:

Robb offers these songs:

  • 3 Strange Days - School of Fish
  • 68 Guns - The Alarm
  • Summer of 69 - Bryan Adams
  • Spirit of '76 - The Alarm
  • 96 Tears - The Stranglers

And I will add:
  • 10 X 10 - 808 State
  • TVC15 - David Bowie
  • 5:15 - The Who (Is that for 5 or 15?)
  • You're Sixteen - Ringo Starr
  • Hey 19 - Steely Dan

Off the top of my head:

  • "Two Tribes" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood
  • "4th of July" by Aimee Mann (do ordinals count?)
  • "Seven Chinese Brothers" by REM
  • "Seven Into The Sea" by In Tua Nua
  • "16 Days" by Boo Hewerdine
  • "17" by Paul Hardcastle
  • "17" and "Twenty Three" by Stephen Duffy
  • "18 And Life" by Skid Row
  • "74-75" by the Connells

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Peeves: NASA

Here's another thing that gets my goat. At some point in the last 30 years, NASA decided that the person who announces "Liftoff!" should also utter some hokey, rah-rah piffle about the mission. Today's shuttle launch was described by NASA "Launch Commentator" George Diller as:
“Liftoff of space shuttle Discovery beginning America’s new journey to the moon, Mars and beyond.”

For the launch of the Deep Impact mission:
"We have ignition and liftoff of a Delta 2 rocket, carrying Deep Impact - NASA's journey to unlock the mystery of the solar system's origin," said NASA launch commentator Jessica Rye.

For John Glenn's return to space:
"Liftoff for six American heroes and one American legend," added launch commentator Lisa Malone.

They're even spreading internationally!
"...Four, three, two, one and liftoff, we have engine ignition and liftoff of the Proton rocket carrying Zvezda, the centerpiece of Russia's contribution to the international space station, setting the stage for permanent human presence in space," said NASA launch commentator Kyle Herring in the Russian mission control center near Moscow.

Just stop it!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Lookalikes: Saddam Hussein

  • Doesn't Saddam Hussein look like Dennis Miller in the latest video? "What can I tell ya - gassing those Kurds was just like replacing Uncle Bud on "My Three Sons" with Uncle Charlie. Who's gonna notice?"
  • AT&T Natural Voices - text-to-speech converter. Sent to me by Robb, who likes the U.K. English Woman's voice (Audrey). He likes making her say, "Bitch! You gonna die, ho!"
  • Kim Wilde is appearing in a commercial on British TV. A sad reminder of the passage of time for those of us who lusted after her in the "Kids In America"/"Water On Glass" days. She's really into gardening now.
  • Speaking of commercials, the Right Guard ad with Michael Strahan playing golf is shown in the UK, but without his name in the voiceover since the Brits don't know who he is. (You can watch the UK version and US version here if you don't believe me.)
  • And, finally, a poem:

Sienna Miller
Should have hired a nanny who looks like Phyllis Diller.

TV: "Extras"

I'm jumping on the anti-"Extras" bandwagon a little late. (Jim started the backlash three weeks ago.) The first episode had its moments (looking at the photos) but also had some hoary routines (pretending he knows about Japanese cinema, the "black, white, yellow" comment). What really turned me off was Ben Stiller playing himself. Maybe it's my revulsion at his simian features. (I'm a very shallow person.) Are we supposed to applaud him for portraying himself as an asshole? Although I did like the "Starsky & Hutch" exchange.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Cryptic Crossword: 7x5

The whales are starting to learn new tricks - but they still can't solve Cryptic Crosswords. That's what separates us from the animals. If you don't solve these clues, it means the filthy beasts have won.
1  2 3  4


1. American car for esteemed French lady, we hear. (5,2)
5. Gold found by FBI agents. Treasury starts to increase. (7)
6. Football player wrapped in sheet makes frozen dessert. (7)


1. Aquatic bird rises against gravity and bites. (5)
2. Debate Republican caught in fever. (5)
3. Database shelters itty-bitty nerd. (5)
4. Salute to music includes sacred choral work, played backwards. (5)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Music: Broken Social Scene

Is it wrong to love this photo? Yes, most probably so. It's not schadenfreude. It's the bewildered look on the guy's face - "I was only trying to buy some weed!" Maybe the cops beat up Ric Ocasek and Brad Garrett and smushed their faces into one grotesque amalgam. (Note the misguided optimism of Ric's website - "See you all in 2004").

Lyrics Quiz: Rave

"Rave" Lyrics Quiz. The last few are quite obscure.

  1. Rave on, it's a crazy feeling and I know it's got me reeling when you say, "I love you," rave on.
  2. Wouldn't it be nice to get on wiv me neighbours. But they make it very clear they've got no room for ravers.
  3. She's uncertain if she likes him, But she knows she really loves him. It's a crash course for the ravers.
  4. Rave on, down through the industrial revolution, Empiricism, atomic and nuclear age. Rave on down through time and space down through the corridors. Rave on words on printed page.
  5. Raving station, beside yourself. Calling on in transit, calling on in transit.
  6. It's a bigfoot baby all covered in fur now. Stark raving naked in the fornication nation. We were secretly married out in Las Vegas at a little bitty chapel, Joan Collins married us.
  7. I won't give in and I wont feel guilty. (I won't give in and I won't feel guilty.) Rant and rave to manipulate me. (Rant and rave to manipulate me.)
  8. Seventeen is the number of the house where drums are beating. It's a trip for the ravers and an air-raid for the neighbours.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Tech: Google Earth

From lifehacker, this chap has made a "movie" from Google Earth. (Unfortunately, his .avi wouldn't play on my machine.)

Also from lifehacker, make your own LCD projector for $200.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Cults: Scientology

Excellent Slate article about L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. I can understand Tom Cruise and John Travolta being members (they're actors!) but was taken aback that Beck is too. This poorly-edited anti-Scientology website says his parents were/are members. And Beck's mom (as a midwife) delivered Beck's wife!

There's a line in Leonard Cohen's song, "Famous Blue Raincoat" ("Did you ever go clear?") that's a Scientology reference. This Stereogum post has some good info on the Cohen connection - one excuse is that he just joined to meet chicks. Cohen is such a lovable fraud himself that I'm sure he was just investigating out of professional curiosity.

But the question remains: Why are they dead?

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Music: David Byrne

Russian "junkyard" band performing "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" - warning: serious ass cleavage on display. (Thanks Jörg!)

Looking for information on the performers, I came across David Byrne's blog/diary from his Summer 2004 tour. Puts my blog in the ha'penny place.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Lyrics Quiz: One Of These Days

Lyrics Quiz with a difference. All of these songs are called "One Of These Days" - match the song to the artist.

Artists: Michelle Branch, Paul McCartney, Tim McGraw, Van Morrison, Pink Floyd, Neil Young.

  1. One of these days, I’m gonna sit down and write a long letter To all the good friends I’ve known And I’m gonna try And thank them all for the good times together. Though so apart we’ve grown.
  2. One of these days, I'm going to cut you into little pieces.
  3. One of these days, I won't be afraid of staying with you. I hope and I pray, Waiting to find a way back to you. Cause that's where I'm home.
  4. One of these days I've got to get things straight. I'm gonna stop acting like a reprobate. One of these days you know I've got to get things straight. I'm gonna stop staying out late And acting like a reprobate.
  5. One of these days When my feet are on the ground, I'm gonna look around and see, See what's right, see what's there, And breathe fresh air, Ever after.
  6. One of these days you’re gonna love me. You’ll sit down by yourself and think About the times you pushed and shoved me And what good friends we might’ve been. And then you’re gonna sigh a little, Maybe even cry a little but One of these days you’re gonna love me.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Music: Best Rhymes

What is the best rhyme in popular (or unpopular) music? "It Ain't Necessarily So" (lyrics by Ira Gershwin) has some beauties. "He fought Big Goliath/Who lay down and dieth." "He made his home in/Dat fish's abdomen." "Oh, I takes dat gospel/Whenever it's pos'ple."

I'm also partial to the immortal line from Cork/London band Stump, "Then Charlton Heston put his vest on."

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Monday, July 11, 2005

Lyrics Quiz: Telecommunications

Telecommunications Lyrics Quiz.

  1. I'm in the phone booth, it's the one across the hall. If you don't answer, I'll just ring it off the wall.
  2. Inventing lovers on the phone, who called to say, 'come dance with me', and murmur vague obscenities.
  3. Getting cards and letters from people I don't even know. And offers comin' over the phone.
  4. The telex machine is kept so clean as it types to a waiting world.
  5. I had to phone someone so I picked on you. Hey, that's far out so you heard him too! Switch on the TV we may pick him up on Channel Two.
  6. I kind of like the feel of this extra few feet in my bed. Telephone's ringing, but I don't answer it 'cause everybody knows that good news always sleeps till noon.
  7. And it's all your fault. I screen my phone calls. No matter-matter-matter-matter who calls. I gotta screen my phone calls.
  8. O.K. so no-one's answering, Well can't you just let it ring a little longer? I'll just sit tight, through the shadows of the night. Let it ring for evermore.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Movies: Overused Songs

Robb wants to know which song has been used the most in movies. He suggests "Sweet Home Alabama", used in (of course) "Sweet Home Alabama (2002)" (one version by Jewel), "8 Mile (2002)" (rap version by Eminem), "Con Air (1997)", "Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)", "Crimson Tide (1995)", "Forrest Gump (1994)", "Joe Dirt (2001)", and many more.


Congrats to Eric on solving the Irish-themed mini-crossword.

Ireland: US State Dept. Report

The US State Department's report on Ireland, prepared for those being posted to the Embassy in Dublin. My favourite parts:
Improvements have progressed to such an extent that ... a telephone can be installed within 6–10 weeks of application.

Traffic is heavy and people tend to drive too fast on a road network system that is out of date. Many of the main roads outside of Dublin are winding and narrow, which makes passing difficult. Irish drivers tend to drive more aggressively than drivers in the US.

Because of the cool damp climate, woolens can be worn most of the year. Even in summer, light cotton clothing is rarely worn. Irish houses are frequently cold compared to those in the U.S.

Swimming is popular among the Irish who are not deterred by the cold water.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Children's Names

Parents should stop naming their daughters "Emma" or "Emily". It's too difficult to remember which. I like the Latvian system of having separate letter endings for male and female names, although it could be simplified further. All girls' names should end in "a" (Emma, Francesca, Christina, Maria, Sara - no 'h'). Boys' names should end in "o" (Pato, Johno, Franko).

In fact, since Emily and Emma were the #1 and #2 most popular baby names for girls in 2004 in the USA, there should be a moratorium on both. In England and Wales, Emily was #1 and Emma #18, so maybe it's not so much of a problem there.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Cryptic Crossword: 5x5

1 2 3


1. Irishman comes to sorry ends as fallguy. (5)
4. In seat of Irish High Kings, I make crown. (5)
5. Rambles with President in high school. (5)


1. Throw in nightcap. It chafes! (5)
2. Express gratitude - we hear it's for military vehicle in Dublin. (5)
3. Irish poet? Yes, at heart. (5)

Friday, July 01, 2005

Automobiles: Driving In Ireland

Rules for driving in Ireland - the bit about forcing two lanes where only one is marked is particularly true. At one point on the Kilbarrack Road, there are two arrows painted on the road, side by side. No one I've asked knows if that is to encourage lane-sharing, or just to emphasise the direction of travel. Like the old Dave Allen joke about one yellow line meaning "No parking at all", and two yellow lines meaning "No parking at all, at all". (Maybe it was Jimmy Cricket.)

What does my head in are the new kilometer speed limits. Not the kilometers, themselves. It's the speed limits they've chosen. They obviously wanted nice round numbers. My daily route alternates between 50kph and 60kph. That's 31mph and 37mph. Why not just make it 55kph all the way - 34mph?