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Showing posts from November, 2017

The Upload Project #11: Elton John and A Whole Lotta Nothin'

This was supposed to be a new roll of blank CDs for me to go through. As you can see below, this proved to be the easiest and least time consuming edition of The Upload Project to date, because it was one CD, heavy on the Elton John and 8 blank ones.

Oh well, on to the next bunch!

CD #1, Untitled
Eddie Money- Take Me Home Tonight
Elton John- Bennie and The Jets
Elton John/Kiki Dee- Don't Go Breaking My Heart
Elton John- Your Song
Elton John- Levon
Elton John- Tiny Dancer
Elton John- I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues
Elton John- Rocket Man
Elton John- Honky Cat
Elton John- I Want Love
Elton John- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Elton John- The Bitch is Back
Gorillaz- Clint Eastwood
Gorillaz- 19-2000
Soul Coughing- Sixteen Horses
Justin Timberlake/Snoop Dogg/Charlie Wilson- Signs

CD #2: Blank

CD #3: Blank

CD #4: Blank

CD #5: Blank

CD #6: Blank

CD #7: Blank

CD #8: Blank

CD #9: Blank

28 Days of Tai Chi

My original idea, back in the spring had been to try yoga. I felt like I needed something. I can't remember if I was thinking I was in need or more inner peace or health and fitness at the time, but I wanted something easy that I could learn to do at home on a consistent basis. The kiddos are still fairly young and in between my then work schedule and the Missus' work schedule, coordinating regularly scheduled visits to the gym has been something of a challenge. I couldn't be bothered with hauling my ass all the way down to the CRWC or paying for some place like Anytime Fitness. I wanted to at least attempt to do some moderate activity with some tangible health benefits at home.
I thought yoga was  good place to start, but as soon as I spooled up a video and tried to get my yoga on, I realized some drawbacks almost immediately. The first was, of course, the dogs. If you get down on their level, they're going to get all excited and come over and sniff and be like, '…

Albums2010 #95: In The Mountain In The Cloud

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Portugal. The Man is one of those bands that has sort of popped up on my radar now and again over the years- I've seen mentions of them float by on various social media feeds now and again, but I had never actually bothered to sit down and listen to any of their stuff until Bill Burr mentioned them on a recent episode of Monday Morning Podcast and I thought, 'well, hell. Why not?' So I found an album and took it out for a spin.

The first thing that stands out about the band is probably it's name. "Portugal. The Man" is kind of a brilliant name. It a declarative statement 'Portugal.' followed by the reassuring clarification 'The Man' to make sure the listener knows we're talking about a band and not a country here. The band's wiki-page has their origin listed as Portland, Oregon, but I guess they all got together and started playing music during their high school years in Wasilla, Alaska. Having listened to at least one of their albums,…

Netflix & Chill #32: Arrival

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Watched On: Amazon Prime
Released: 2016
Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tzi Ma
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Pick: Mine

Arrival opens with a sequence that shows Louise Banks' (Amy Adams) daughter Hannah, dying in early adulthood from an incurable disease of some kind. (It's never actually named, but it appears to be cancer.) She heads to work the next day to her job as a linguistics professor/teacher and everyone seems to be incredibly distracted by something and half her lecture hall is empty and when Louise turns on the television, she finds out why. Twelve extraterrestrial spacecraft have appeared in twelve different locations across the globe- their purpose is unknown and attempts to communicate with the craft seem to be unsuccessful. But an Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) shows up at Louise's door to recruit her to join the government's effort to establish contact with the aliens.

Louise initially insists that she has to be on sight …

This Week In Vexillology #238

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I hate to reopen old wounds for US Soccer fans, but the field for the 2018 World Cup is officially set and looking at the list and cross referencing it with my 'lost' archives, I noticed there were six teams going to Russia that I had yet to tackle, so I thought I'd round out November and head into December with a double trifecta of Lost Weekends In Vexillology featuring teams that made it to Russia. (Just as an aside, if you're a USMNT fan still in need of some serious therapy/grief counseling, then I highly recommend the Men In Blazers Live Podcast 'What Happened'- it has some fun, but it also has a serious discussion about what happened and possible remedies/hopes for the future going forward.)

So let's begin with our first trifecta- Senegal, Nigeria and France! First up, Senegal:
Adopted August 20th, 1960 the flag of Senegal serves as the national flag and naval ensign for the country. In 1959, France melded Senegal together with the French Soudan to fo…

My 2020 Vision Thing

I stopped my occasional lurkings on Reddit a few months ago and actually signed up and joined the place (I'm at u/litcityblues if you want to follow me or do whatever it is redditors do in that regard) and as I was reading through r/IowaCity I noticed a grandly titled post, An Iowa City Manifesto For The Future. 

I read it. I didn't agree with a lot of it but there were some interesting points made and some very real criticisms leveled at Our Fair Metropolis. Then, the University sent out a big email to everyone asking for Feedback and Input on their UI 2020 Initiative. They were asking some big questions like:
What ideas do you have for helping the UI thrive in the decades ahead? How can we better address the grand challenges of the 21st Century through our research, creative endeavors, curriculum, and teaching? How can we better serve our state and its people? We welcome all ideas, including bold proposals. Bold proposals, eh? I might be able to rustle up some of those. Well,…

Drop The Hammer (But Not On Your Toe)

So, I signed a petition last month to support the Fair Debate lawsuit that the Our America Initiative is bringing to try and crack open the stranglehold the Commission on Presidential Debates has on the presidential debates- they're taking a somewhat unusual tack this time and filing an anti-trust lawsuit and they did raise more the $100k to support their legal efforts. Thing is, I'm just not sure that opening the debates is going to be the cure all the outside parties think it is.

Don't get me wrong: I hate the two party system and I'm pretty sure a lot of the rest of the country isn't exactly enthused by our lack of choices at the ballot box, it's just that the effort to break the system faces three distinct problems: a chicken vs egg problem, history and the structure of our political system.

The chicken vs egg thing is a common response I've seen on Facebook whenever people bring up Fair Debates. "They don't get airtime because their views aren…

Squawk Box: Legal Eagles

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I emerged from the great and grand Star Trek Cycle and immediately tripped and fell headlong into two legal dramas that I had heard about, but hadn't gotten around to watching just yet: The Good Fight and The People vs. OJ Simpson.

The Good Fight was the first new show out of the gate for CBS All Access and helped launch the streaming service. A spin off of The Good Wife, it picks up the action a year after the finale, when Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) is finally ready to hang it all up and sail off into the sunset for a well-earned retirement. Unfortunately, life gets in the way and when she loses all of her life savings thanks to a Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Henry Rindell (Paul Guilfoyle) whose goddaughter Maia (Rose Leslie) has just passed the bar and is starting her career.

Her life savings gone and her old firm not willing to take her back, Diane winds up finding a lifeboat in the form of Adrian Boseman (Delroy Lindo) of the prestigious African-American owned firm Re…

Netflix & Chill #31: The Right Stuff

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Watched On: Amazon Prime
Released: 1983
Starring: Fred Ward, Charles Frank, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Lance Henriksen, Scott Paulin, Dennis Quaid, Sam Shepard, Kim Stanley, Barbara Hershey, Veronica Cartwright, Pamela Reed
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Pick: Mine

Randomly last month I saw General Chuck Yeager fly by on my Twitter feed, trying to get himself to 70,000 followers in time to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of breaking the sound barrier (he more than met that goal and has 77K followers as of today)- not even realizing that General Yeager was still out there in the world and being sort of tickled by the fact that he was on Twitter, I obliged him and then I kind of got the itch to see the beginning of The Right Stuff to watch their portrayal of his record breaking flight and then I just kept right on watching, because well, it's a great movie!

Telling the story of America's first nine astronauts that launched the Mercury Program and began to space race which culminated in Neil Armst…

This Week In Vexillology #237

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I was wondering what I was going to do this week, but then The Quiet Man tweeted a picture of the shiny new flag of Toronto he purchased on his trip to the Great White North and inspiration struck- the one type of flag that I haven't done too much of yet? City flags. So, This Week in Vexillology, thanks to this handy-dandy Buzzfeed listicle I found, we're going to look at a trio of City Flags.

First up, Buffalo:
First of all, how bad ass is this flag? It's like someone took the old 'seal on a bedsheet' thing and decided, 'LET'S ADD LIGHTNING BOLTS!' and this is what resulted. The flag immediately catches the eye. There's not too many colors- though the combination of navy blue and white seems a little vanilla to me, I think it's probably a wise design choice in this case. You've already upped the ante with the lightning bolts and that's where you want to focus of the design to be- if you start adding colors, this thing could have turned …

The New Marketing Strategy

Peeps, I had a plan.

Yes, I have two books out there in the big wide world. (If you don't know, check out my debut novel The Prisoner and The Assassin and it's sequel The Arrows of Defiance today! Reviews are always welcome!) And while I love my first two books dearly, I've been wrestling with the nagging sensation that I'm not really doing right by them either. The first, Prisoner, was my "I want to see if I can actually do this" book and, lo and behold, it turns out I could. It's sequel, Arrows, concluded the story I began in the first, but it too felt like a "I want to see if I can actually do this" kind of book.

So, I hatched a plan. I stumbled across a indie publishing platform that not only publishes your books but pushes them out to multiple vendors to get them to as many people as possible. I got excited. This seemed like a good idea to me. I could get new covers and relaunch them next year and get them posted to multiple vendors and rea…

Psephology Rocks: Holiday Grab Bag Edition

Well, there's lots to talk about post-Election Day, not only in America, but there's a few bits and bobs from around the world worth touching on as well.  We'll start local and work upwards:

Local:  Well, I went three for three in my City Council Endorsements- Botchway, Salih took the At-Large Seats and Susan Mims took the District B Seat. The District B race between incumbent Susan Mims and student Ryan Hall was less of a contest than I think people were anticipating, as Mims won handily 59% to 41%.

I had nothing in particular against Hall, per say- but I feel like if Raj Patel who was another student who ran a few cycles back (I want to say 2010?) had serious money and a serious platform behind him and didn't win, then Hall was going to be a long shot. He checked all the right progressive boxes for Iowa City, but he was running against an incumbent who might not be uber-Progressive, but not say, Terry Dickens either. I think Hall would have had a better shot against D…

Bookshot #102: Lincoln In The Bardo

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I checked out this book from the library purely on a whim. I saw an article celebrating George Saunders winning the Man Booker Prize for this novel and figured since part of my reading goals for the year were to stretch myself and push my usual reading boundaries to writers and genres I don't normally read and Lincoln In The Bardo, as it turns out more than fits the bill.

The novel opens in February of 1862 in Washington DC with the Civil War raging and the country just starting to realize that the conflict is going to be longer and bloodier than they imagine. While the White House holds a grand soiree, young Willie Lincoln lies upstairs, racked with typhoid fever and eventually, he succumbs to it and dies. History records that the Lincoln returned to the crypt where his son was buried several times to hold the boy's body.

Willie Lincoln, however, finds himself in a transitional state, a purgatory (or in the Buddhist tradition, the Bardo) which is populated by ghosts who mingl…

Netflix & Chill #30: The Hunt For Red October

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Watched On: Amazon Prime
Released: 1990
Starring: Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn, James Earl Jones, Sam Neill
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Pick: Mine

I was working solo a couple of weekends back and saw this one pop up on Amazon Prime and decided to give it a watch again. It had been years since I had seen the movie and even longer since I had sat down with the book and I was curious to see how well it would hold up- turns out, it's still as excellent as I remember.

Late in the Cold War, the Soviets develop a new 'caterpillar drive' for their submarines which render it undetectable to passive sonar. The first ship outfitted with this drive, Red October, heads out to conduct exercises with it's fellow submarine, the VK Konovalov. Captain Marko Ramius (Sean Connery), once out to sea, kills the political officer and gives false orders to set sail for the east coast of America where they're going to conduct missile drills.

Meanwhile, CIA Analyst Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) f…

This Week In Vexillology #236

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We're jumping back into the Lost Archives this week- but with a twist! Turns out that Mauritania has made some changes to it's flag recently and by recently I mean in August! It's not much of a change in the grand scheme of things, but it's shiny and new and This Week In Vexillology, it's what we're going to take a look at: So, what's new? Like I said- not much, but we've got some snazzy new red stripes at the top and the bottom of the flag. Why the changes? Well, President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz held a referendum to do some tweaking of the way things work over there. One question wanted to abolish the indirectly-elected Senate and it's replacement with regional councils. Islamic High Council and the national Ombudsman into a 'Supreme Council of the Fatwa' (which sounds like a fun time.) The second question was about the changes to the flag (which we'll get to in a minute.) Mauritanians went to the polls and said 'YES' to both q…

The Catalan Conundrum

So when is it okay to secede?

That's the question that seems to be floating around in my head quite a bit, watching the news from Spain as the showdown over Catalonia's declaration of independence continues to unfold. I think, from the outset, Madrid bungled this. In fact, they bungled it in such a way that honestly, Prime Minister Rajoy shouldn't have a job right now. Had they confronted the Catalan question head on and allowed a free and democratic referendum on the question, then the result (which could have well have gone their way) would have reinforced the stability of Spain's democracy and integrity of the Spanish state itself for at least a generation.
Instead, they bungled it. They sent in the police to break up the vote and we were treated to sights of riot police handcuffing old ladies and attempting to disrupt a peaceful democratic vote. The optics alone demolished any constitutional case that Madrid might have made against independence- and strictly speaki…