Monday, November 30, 2009

The Harmonium

What is a Harmonium?

For those who are unaware, the Harmonium was once referred to as the "Poor man's Pipe Organ". It was a complicated musical instrument capable, on a lesser scale, of replicating the sounds created by a full pipe organ, without the pipes. The larger versions could even take the place of organs in churches. The instrument was hand and/or foot-powered, and ranged from a simple handheld keyboard instrument to a full upright piano-sized instrument.

It is unknown what was the inspiration for the creation of this instrument. It served no useful purpose, other than creating a cheap replacement for pipe organs in churches that could not afford such instruments. And, with the development of electronic organs, it became obsolete and is no longer used.

What could inspire someone to created such a thing? Something that would have limited use at best, and something that could be easily replaced by soemthing much smaller and more efficient?

Throughout history, invention has been at best an inefficient process, with highly inefficient creations preceding the more effective final (assumed) versions (think of the steam engine vs. the internal combustion engine). Rather than making the best of ourselves, invention is plagued with what are assumed to be numerous mistakes that are corrected before the final result.

But the mistakes can produce some pretty spectacular results...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Commercial Creeps me Out.

I wonder if any of you the 3 readers of this blog have seen the latest Michelin commercial...

Well, if you haven't, let me describe it, if I can: It starts with a dark country road. It is a dark, cloudy, rainy night. On this road are dozens of cute, fluffy, animated bunnies, squirrels, and various other cute critters.

All of them in varied ROADKILL POSES!!

Seriously. These animals have flattened stomachs, legs, and various other body parts, all with tire treads across them. The only thing missing is the blood (Maybe I shouldn't give them any ideas...)

Believe me, it's worse than this makes it sound.

Then, of course, out comes the Michelin Man to save the day, by throwing Michelin tires at a car as it is about to run down yet another defenseless animal.

OK first of all, whoever was the "creative" mind behind this creepy commercial, I desperately implore you to seek professional help NOW!

Second, to the Michelin exec that approved this ad: I really don't see a big Christmas bonus in your future.

Memo to Michelin: The best way to sell a lot of tires is NOT to feature ROADKILL in your commercials!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Roland Emmerich Hates us All

By my count, Roland Emmerich has now destroyed the world, or at least a major portion of it, no less than 3 times now. He's done it with aliens, Global warming, and now, in his latest pile of crap, 2012, a complete polar shift.

As usual, the science is suspect, the writing is terrible, the effects are eye-popping, the ending is predictable, and the cliches are flying right, left, and center.

You know, it's usually not a good sign when you leave the theater after a disaster movie laughing so hard you nearly piss yourself, but I simply couldn't help myself. This was, hands down, probably the silliest movie so far this year. And that's saying something. After all, this is the year of G.I. Joe and the new Star Trek movie.

Just so you don't waste your money, let me spoil a few things for you that you might think would make this movie worth seeing.

* John Cusack does not die.

* You don't get to see Amanda Peet naked (for a change).

* Arnold Schwarzenegger does not play himself

* Woody Harrelson dies spectacularly--er, wait, that's a good one. Strike that.

It's a typical Emmerich movie in other words: $200 million spent on effects and about a buck-fifty on the script. Other than some truly spectacular effects which will surely win the Oscar, this movie has nothing else to recommend it. Take my advice and save your money. They really aren't worth it.

Want an example? OK Sparky, you asked for it. Here's my prime example of how dumb this movie was: Over the course of this movie, the magnetic poles shift over 200 degrees of latitude, California falls into the ocean, Ultra-volcanoes erupt and cover the surface of the planet with ash clouds, 100 story skyscrapers topple, and 30000 foot high tsunamis surge over the top of mountains in the Himalayas. And yet, through all this, people's cellphones still work just fine. Not a single structure still stands on 5 of the 7 major continents, and yet the cell towers are still there.

Yeah. That's what I thought.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I am Older Than Sesame Street

Sesame Street is 40 years old today.

I am 42 years old.

I'm older than Sesame Street.

Fuck,I'm old.

Apologies for the coarse language. It's just that HOW THE HELL DID I GET SO OLD?!!!

Anyway, I grew up watching Sesame Street. I loved the characters. I loved the Cookie Monster. I loved Grover. I loved The Count.

Most importantly, I loved Oscar the Grouch. He fit with my personality so well. I am, you may have noticed, grumpy, cranky, and cynical. And, despite what others have told me, I come by this naturally. Part of it comes from my natural disposition, and part of it comes from always having been younger than my classmates when I grew up.

You see, when I started school, You didn't have to be 5 before you started, as long as you turned 5 within the school year. When we moved to a state that didn't allow this, I was allowed to stay at my current level of education. So I was younger than almost all of my classmates.

As a result, I started out with a big chip on my shoulder. Add to this buck teeth and being short by nature, and I became a world-class grouch. So imagine my joy when I could tune in every day and see a character who was, without fail, cranky, grumpy, and almost impossible to cheer up. Just like me.

And it has brought joy to my grumpy heart that over the years, with all the changes to Sesame Street, Oscar has remained consistent. He wakes up cranky. He lives in a garbage can and will never move. He is reluctant to join in with the other characters in their songs. And while he may be a grump, he secretly has a heart of gold and will always be loyal to his friends.

So here's to you, Oscar! May you always keep Sesame Street honest.

(And oh, by the way, if you should ever decide to leave your beloved garbage can for a Recycling bin, I will hunt you down and cut out your worthless fucking felt heart. Consider yourself warned!)

(Again, sorry about the language, but it does happen...)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Learning all the Wrong Lessons

As expected, the Republicans and their neo-con talking heads are currently crowing over their electoral victories in New Jersey and Virginia last Thursday. They claim the elections were a repudiation of the Obama administrations policies and that this is the beginning of the end of the administration.

They are wrong.

In the first place, Virginia is a typically red state that swung blue last election mostly due to fatigue over Republican policies. And the New Jersey election was so close it can hardly be called a sweeping victory.

No, the race that they SHOULD be paying attention to is the New York 23rd Congressional district. This is a district that has voted Republican since there WAS a Republican party. And yet it was won by a Democrat.

Why? Because the Rush Limbaugh/Sarah Palin wing of the Republican Party took over the election. And swung it to the Democrats with their extremist views. They embraced a 3rd party conservative over the moderate Republican candidate who had a strong chance of winning. And they handed the election to the Democrats as a result.

This is the exact same sort of infighting that is the main reason only 25% of the electorate identifies itself as Republicans. The Republican party is being taken over by the extreme conservatives, and as a result they are driving people away.

And I couldn't be happier. I can't think of a better way to ensure Republicans never win another election.

Advice to Republicans: Stop listening to Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity. They're steering you in a direction that you REALLY don't want to go.