December 29, 2008

Flat Earth

Following up on yesterday's post, I realize I didn't address the flat Earth thing.

At first glance, it just seems like a bad argument stemming from a misunderstanding of the progression of science, and perpetuates misconceptions about when people believed in a flat Earth. But since John is likely a creationist, there's more to what he's saying.

John is trying to say is that scientists thought the world was flat when the Bible supposedly tells us that the Earth is a sphere. And that eventually science caught up with the Bible. I'll wait while you finish laughing.

This common goofiness is one example of the wider semantic game creationist apologists play. In this case, they're taking words from the Bible that describe the world as round and claiming that the Bible meant "spherical." At the time, believers understood the Bible to mean that the Earth was like a flat circle. The "firmament" referred to in the Bible is imagined to be the dome of the sky... literally a dome suspended over the flat circle. This makes observational sense, because if you are out on a plain, the Earth is perceived as a flat circle around you with the sky as a dome above your head.

From an early time, scientific thinkers were saying that the Earth was a sphere. Pythagoras was saying so as early as the 6th century BCE, but measurements came later. The Bible does not say anything explicit about the Earth being a sphere, and even if the New Testament said "by the way, the Earth is shaped like an orange" that would have been old news.

Apologists sites are good places to learn how weak the defense is of the Bible when it comes to cosmology. These are the people most invested in the idea of an inerrant Bible, and their arguments are not very compelling. Here's a page that speaks from the point of view that we should not absolutely conclude that the Bible described a flat, circular Earth. It does this by trying to cast doubt on the use of words meaning "circular." At one point, it tries to convince us that the Hebrews had no word for sphere.

Apologists have to explain away the instances in the Bible where we hear about what sounds like a flat, circular Earth. They wouldn't have to do that if the Bible were clear on a spherical Earth.

The Bible clearly does not make a point of enlightening us on cosmology. There is no explanation of the spherical nature of the Earth. The Bible fails as a source in this case. It allows us to maintain a flat Earth belief, and so it is outdated in its geodesy.

People like John show an ignorance that their own creationist apologetics have left behind. How can we take his complaints seriously in this case?

Posted by James at 1:15 PM | Comments (1)

December 28, 2008

Therapeutic Rant on Science and Evolution

Yes, I'm in a holiday funk. Spent some great time with family and friends, awesome X-mas gifts, Maggie just got a new job, we're all healthy and I have every reason to be happy. But the news is getting me down. And most of it isn't even the entertaining kind you can rant about, what with all the fraud and turmoil.

Not the sort of stuff I generally want to amplify by echoing the depressed sentiments on my own blog.

Instead, I'm going to do what makes me happy and just rant at some random thing. I know it is no real contribution, but it makes me feel better and that's good enough at the moment. Here's something!

You probably already read the story (if you follow science blogs).

U of M Morris prof: You got creationism in my zoology

When University of Minnesota-Morris biology professor PZ Myers heard that the Cincinnati Zoo and the infamous Creation Museum were offering a joint ticket deal to lure in customers, he took his outrage to the blogosphere.

In the end, the Zoo gave in to pressure and dissolved the ticket deal. I think Myers and crew were right to raise a stink. If people want to waste their money on the Creation Museum, that's their business. But there is really no need to encourage people to fill their heads with that nonsense, and there very well may be many people who support that Zoo and do not want to be supporting creation bullshit.

Me, I just want to respond to one of the comments on that news story.

So much for "free thinking".

Anything one disagrees with, we make fun of and smear. We protest what we do not believe ourselves.

Okay, free thinkers, why must you smear others? Why can't your logic and merit stand on it's own foundation? Then again, to have a "logical" argument, then you'd have to actually investigate history, and fact from a Biblical perspective.

Oh, what the ? It is so much easier to just toss it all out than to do the work. Besides, if you don't agree with me, then you are a bigot, ignorant, worship faith.... even if it is the faith of the Big Bang.

Oh, one more point.... science and logic once said that the world was flat. So now who has faith that science is indeed fact?

Posted by: John at December 27, 2008 9:08 PM

John,

"Anything one disagrees with, we make fun of and smear." That's quite true. The solution is to grow a pair. If you can tell the difference between plain ridicule and a logical argument then take each for what it is. My advice to you is that you're not going to get anywhere whining that your ideas are ridiculed, so you may as well drop it. It makes you all the more of a target of ridicule.

You ask "why must you smear others?" At the heart of it, it's probably just a human reaction. After all, you don't stick to logic in your comment. I think that people are fed up. You see there are plenty of logical responses to the people who cling to the faith of creationism, but those fall on deaf ears. Creationists have no need to stick to rational arguments because they're not trying to contribute scientifically. It's a social/religious endeavor.

It's almost ironic to hear someone complain about non-logical attacks on creationism. Put a scientist and a creationist on a debate stage and the creationist will play to the crowd every time. This is why scientists don't like to get into those situations; creationists can easily avoid logic whenever they want and revert to muddying tactics. (There are decent bits of advice if you want to debate creationists) Scientists deal in research, and are not usually experts at playing to a crowd.

In terms you'll understand: you reap what you sow. Creationism is not a science, so it isn't going to be treated like a science. And if you ignore the science, then don't expect to be respected on a rational basis.

But, really, bottom line: grow a pair. Ridicule happens. Have you seen the cartoons of Darwin's head on a monkey's body? Do evolutionary biologists cry themselves to sleep over that shit? No, they sleep well and get up in the morning and do more research. They do their thing.

Your thing is not to do anything constructive, and that makes sense, because creationism is not constructive in the scientific sense. Although it is constructive in the fantastical sense.

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Posted by James at 1:32 PM | Comments (6)

December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays Goat

Photo not of the actual goat

nor the actual recipient

... diaper not included.

I wanted to do something nice for the holidays. For Christmas. For Solstice. For Hanukkah. For Festivus. For Kwanzaa. For all my blog readers, and for some people we don't know. But it had to be meaningful. And in this case, "meaningful" means it had to tie in with goat diapering. Because you've got to be innovative if you hope to maintain any sort of status in goat diapering.

So, here is what I've done for all of us.

In the name of "Dr. Momentum and the readers of Aces Full of Links" I have donated a whole, live goat to a needy family somewhere in the world via Heifer International.

(Technically it may not be an actual goat. It may be in support of goat-usage, or animal husbandry education, or cheese making. But it's symbolic goats, dammit! And it's the goat thought that counts.)

I did it in all of our names, and I wouldn't have done it if it hadn't been for your support as a great group of blog readers. So you all have contributed to the donation I made.

Somewhere, in the near future, a needy family is going to be enjoying the benefits of having a goat all because of a stupid joke on this blog based on search engine results. Isn't that what the holiday season is really all about?

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Posted by James at 10:43 AM | Comments (11)

That XMas Song Must Die 3

We've got the dregs left over now. Nothing can match the loathing generated by "The Christmas Shoes" but there are some remaining "favorites" to hate on.

I didn't get even one suggestion via email! But I did get a couple of votes at the caroling party. So, here is a list for your approval.

  • Wonderful Christmastime (Paul McCartney)
    • This was one that many people said I had to have in my competition. I know Maggie doesn't like it. But it also came up multiple times when other people were prompted for the worst song they could think of. You be the judge. I think my skill in finding bad Xmas music may be too much of a challenge for this track.
  • Christmastime (The Smashing Pumpkins)
    • I couldn't find a Nine Inch Nails Christmas song, so you'll have to settle for this slightly creepy Xmas tune.
  • Merry Christmas With Love (Clay Aiken)
    • What's a list of good music without Clay?
  • All I Want For Christmas Is A Hippopotamus (Gayla Peevey)
    • Wow, I'd never heard this before. I don't remember who mentioned it to me, but THANKS!!
  • We Wish You A Merry Christmas (Crazy Frog)
    • I'll never understand the Crazy Frog ring tone fad. In any case, his Christmas tune has all the charm of a bilabial fricative.
  • Love On Layaway (Gloria Estefan)
    • I'll leave this one to you.
  • Santa Claus' Party (Les Baxter)
    • I like lounge music, so I have mixed feelings here. But I imagine this could really grate on people's nerves.

That's a lot of Xmas music criticism. Think you can handle it?


TXSMD 3

(I didn't find a Nine Inch Nails Christmas song, but I did find someone who set Nine Inch Nails lyrics to Christmas tunes. Trippy! (Er, it's Nine Inch Nails lyrics, so NSFW & NSFK)

You know, it's not just music that can be bad on Christmas. Imagine it's a couple of days before Xmas and your apartment neighbor decides to use a blowtorch to melt some of the ice on the building... This story brought to you From New Bedford.

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Posted by James at 10:22 AM | Comments (9)

December 22, 2008

Last Week's Shotgun

Mmmmm.... leftovers!

Posted by James at 9:29 AM | Comments (3)

December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice

As every fan of Fraggle Rock knows, "solstice" literally means "standing still" in the progression of the shortening of the days. And so, as we experience the shortest, darkest day here in the northern hemisphere, the shortening of days slows to a complete stop, and then reverses itself.

Standing still implies a moment of calm; it is the perfect time to reflect, and then make the world a brighter place.

Which is why we sing songs, ring bells, exchange gifts, decorate with greenery, gather into each other's company, cook our favorite foods and uncork our most prized spirits. Challenges of winter are still ahead, but the darkest of days is passing. Embedded in the cycle of things, there is a promise that better times are coming.

But it's not magic.The Earth "does it's part." The rest is up to you and me.

Happy Solstice!

(And Happy Hanukkah as well!)

Posted by James at 4:09 PM | Comments (2)

December 19, 2008

Will It Snow?

Oh the weather forecast is frightful,
And the cancellations, delightful.
But now we've no place to go.
Will it snow, will it snow, will it snow?

Not a flake yet is droppin,
While the dire reports aren't stoppin.
'78 seems so long ago.
Will it snow, will it snow, will it snow?

Posted by James at 9:35 AM | Comments (9)

December 18, 2008

Should Atheists Sing Christmas Carols?

Considering the seriousness of the GWoC (Global War on Christmas) should atheists give aid and comfort to the enemy and sing Christmas carols? Is it giving aid and comfort to the enemy?

This year, I have only heard the "War on Christmas" refereed to ironically, which is a good thing. Of course, I could just be watching the wrong TV shows. My introductory paragraph is a nod to some of the overheated rhetoric of the War on Christmas folks. But I guess this is my "anti-War on Christmas" post for the year (or the week).

To the main question: What's up with atheists singing Christmas carols? Don't they know those songs are about Jesus?

My (atheist) family (and 60-or-so of our closest friends of various faiths) gather yearly to entertain the neighbors with our hoarse renditions of ancient carols. Clearly, I believe that it IS OK. The carols mean something different to me than they do to my Christian friends.

I celebrate the humanist aspect of the season. Peace on Earth and goodwill toward others is something we can all get behind. And when the savior pops up, I'm OK with him being a metaphor.

Does that seem strange, or just plain wrong? If someone writes a song with a certain meaning, shouldn't that meaning be the meaning of the song?

You'd be surprised.

Imagine, for a moment, that you are an American of some Protestant denomination. For years, you've been singing O Come All Ye Faithful (aka. Adeste Fideles) to celebrate your feelings about Jesus and Christmas time. It might surprise you to find out that "O Come All Ye Faithful is actually a birth ode to Bonnie Prince Charlie" - a focus for Jacobite Catholic rebels who sought to seat a Catholic as the ruler of England. According to experts "King of Angels" is actually code (or a pun), with Angels meaning "Anglorum" or the English. Born the King of England. Other clues reveal the "Him" referred to in the song to be Charles Edward Stewart. (Bennet Zon's research paper on this subject is available on JSTOR "The Origin of Adeste Fideles" you can hear him talk about it in this brief piece which aired on BBC News Hour.)

Protestants who sing it today are likely not singing it as a call to arms for Catholics to unseat the throne of England. So, there is certainly precedent for people choosing a meaning for their carols which is in line with their beliefs.

I recognize that they are ignorant to the original meaning, and that the origins are shrouded in mystery, but ignorance of the original meaning does not give their singing additional significance. You either accept that the original meaning sticks, or you don't. To sing metaphorically and to deliberately imbue your song with personal meaning is part of the reason for singing. Clearly, today's Protestants are singing this carol about Jesus. I can sing the same carol and give it my own humanist meaning.

But why would I want to? There is nostalgia in these songs. We grew up with them. They comfort us (your mileage may vary). I am under no obligation to surrender that to a lack of religious belief.

There is too little joy in the world. So, sing in joy. Choose to sing for what makes you joyful. If Protestants can sing "Adeste Fideles" without irony, then atheists certainly can as well.

Conservative voices mutter aloud about the erosion of the true meaning of this and that. But what has true meaning done for you lately? I suggest that sincere and heartfelt meaning trumps a handed-down true meaning any day, especially if it brings us together. I want to sing with my Christian friends; we have more in common than we have differences.

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Posted by James at 12:05 PM | Comments (9)

December 17, 2008

That Xmas Song Must Die 2

It's hard work, compiling the worst holiday songs to fight it out in the arena of musical death matches. That's not because it's difficult to find bad songs, but because it's difficult to LISTEN to so many bad songs. Today is another sleigh-load of fresh and foetid reindeer poop. But I included some palate-cleansing for you as well, to keep you sane.

There are too many bad holiday songs, so these are not head to head matches. More like free-for alls.

TXSMD2

Here we have them. In all their horribleness.

  • The toy piano in 8 Days of Christmas will make your ears bleed like a freshly picked scab.
  • Cyndi Lauper gets points for trying with Christmas Conga (really, I appreciate the effort) I'd love to enjoy this song, but I'm afraid I spend most of the week sober, so I can't.
  • Baby It's Cold Outside by Jessica Simpson and ex-hubby Nick just pisses me off. STOP RUINING MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY SONG. I'm feeling stabby.
  • If you're not homicidal at this point, I give you the abomination that is Macarena (Christmas Remix). At least you don't have to listen to much of this song to get the idea.

And, because he asked nicely, Bull wanted me to include Dominick the Donkey, which wasn't on imeem. Here's the video. I have to say, Bull, it may be a bad song, but I laughed so frickin hard, I think it made my heart grow two sizes, and gave me the power of ten Grinches, plus two!

That's some seriously screwed up stuff.

BONUS PARODY!

If you hate "The Christmas Shoes" as much as I do, maybe you'll enjoy this parody, tenderly entitled "The Christmas Thong."

I think I'm actually starting to feel the Christmas spirit. But why should I have all the fun? If you have a favorite Christmas/Holiday song you love to hate, why not send it along. You can email it to txsmd.20.drmomentum@spamgourmet.com for consideration in next week's version. We haven't had a Hanukkah song yet. Is their one that makes you cringe and gag?

So, go forth and post your criticisms in the comments, but email your suggestions...

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Posted by James at 1:10 PM | Comments (6)

December 15, 2008

Christmas Moody

I love Christmas. Or do I? By this time each year, I'm overwhelmed. I guess I don't deal with stress well. I like moodier Christmas music mixed in with the happy stuff. It's not that I prefer songs that are downers, but I need some brooding mixed in with the cheeriness to cut the saccharine factor and make it all a little more authentic and palatable.

Here's a playlist for you folks of mostly new music you probably haven't heard before. Maybe you'll like it. Maybe you'll hate it. This is the product of my search for unheard Xmas music and it just happens that a lot of it is in a darker mood. Which suits me. These are the best of the new-ish songs I found (and I threw in the 80's classic Christmas Wrapping as a bonus because it seemed to balance it a bit).


New Holiday Mix

Here are some notes on the songs:

Have Yourself a Bitter Little Christmas - David Ford mixes dissatisfaction with an upbeat toe-tapper. He's bitter, but he sounds like he's moving on. Good for him!

Carol of the Bells - The Bird and the Bee provide their ethereal take on the classic. It's a spacey meringue of a song.

No Christmas For Me - Zee Avi's pretty voice is highlighted in this song with a simple acoustic accompaniment. It's the blues, but more apathetic than anything else.

Come On Santa - I liked the entire album from the Ravenettes Wishing You A Rave Christmas. Reminded me of Angelo Badalamenti. It's like Christmas in Twin Peaks.

Sleigh Ride - I didn't want to put this song here, but isn't it appropriate to have one song from a Christian rock band in a list of Xmas tunes? No? Well, here it is anyhow. This take on Sleigh Ride is a nice change from the usual, with Reliant K mixing piano and a jazzy trio(?) with a familiar rock element. It could grow on me.

Xmas Time Is Here Again - My Morning Jacket is listed as alt-country. Sounds a little like early R.E.M. to me. With a hint of TMBG circa Apollo 18?

Don't Shoot Me Santa - From The Killers last year. Here for the sheer goofiness. Not memorable for the music, but what the hey.

Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas) - The Decemberists have gone Zydeco for Christmas?

Christmas Wrapping - Classic Waitresses for a happy ending.

BONUS!

This song wasn't on imeem, so you're getting the goofy video.

From the Brit group The Accelerators, Christmas Is a Pain in the Arse , but really they don't seem to be letting it get them down too much.

Isn't that the true spirit? No? Well, I tried.

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December 12, 2008

Broccoli Kitten Shotgun

And, of course, Broccoli Kitten:

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Don't Let Paul Tell You

I sometimes get very strange messages on my voice mail at work. I thought I'd share the latest one with you.

This one sounds like someone dialed my number by accident, and didn't realize their voice was being recorded. in fact, I don't think they know they made a call at all.

In the background you can hear what sounds like a party. From the discussion, it seems to be a Christmas tree decorating party. It's all very hard to make out, but a (drunk?) girl is talking about being criticized by Paul for her choice of which ornaments to put where. And then someone else (loudly) gives us some philosophical advice about decorating a Christmas tree.

See how much of the background talking you can make out.

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December 11, 2008

That (Xmas) Song Must Die!

Computer mishaps at work have harshed my mellow, and I have missed a few days of posting the usual babbling and navel-gazing. So here's a bit of fun for you!

For the rest of December we're going to focus on holiday-season-type songs. War on Christmas be damned, this is a war on bad Christmas songs. What is a bad Christmas song? Ultimately, that's for you to decide, but I respectfully submit that a bad Christmas song is one that simply sounds like crap. Beyond that, I have a special distaste for songs that try to make up for talent by tugging on your heart strings as if they were Quasimodo trying to ring the bells at Notre Dame. And, if you like any Christmas music at all, you might agree with me that attempts to "improve" on old favorites commit a special kind of sin, worthy of our ire.

On to this week's songs. We have three (and a half).

First: "This One's For the Children." Not strictly a Christmas song, but won't someone think of the children? This song was the flip side of a New Kids on the Block's "Funky, Funky Christmas" single. This song sounds like it was written in a minute and a half on the way in to the studio, for the purposes of filling out a B-side. There were three reasons that I didn't use "Funky, Funky Christmas" -- the first was that the song is not on iMeem, so I couldn't add it to the play list. The second is that I'm not sure it qualifies as a song. The third is that it just wouldn't be fair... it's that bad.

Second: "Christmas Shoes." Longtime readers of this blog know I hate this maudlin piece if dreck, written to be played over the mall PA system to make you remember what Christmas is all about so that you feel bad enough that you remember you're human, and just by the fact of your feeling bad you are immediately absolved and ready to buy that big screen TV and SUV. God bless us, every one!

Third: "Santa Baby" Madonna's version. The original "Santa Baby" is not one of my favorite Christmas songs, but at least Eartha Kitt sounded like an adult woman (click here for comparison) . And that was sexy. Madonna is creeping me the hell out in her rendition, and has got me wondering who her target audience is.

And a half: If you really must, here's a live version of "Funky, Funky, Christmas". I cannot deny you the pleasure of the horror and the laughter that is this flashback to "New Kids on the Block" and their time of musical hegemony.

If you can't find something to mercilessly criticize in the above list, then I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion1. So, don't hold back.

Want to cleanse your palate? This is NOT SAFE FOR WORK, but here's a video that is an old favorite of this blog that came up in a search when I was looking for that stupid Christmas Shoes song. I personally think the robot is the the thing that gives this video real technological legitimacy, but the guy in the purple outfit pushes the video over into awesomeness. I give you: "Shoes."

1. If you don't get the reference, here's your explanation. But you need to rewatch Donnie Darko for the full effect. Tonight, if possible. This weekend, at the latest. The metaphor of the soul-killing that is Sparkle Motion demands no less.

Posted by James at 9:03 AM | Comments (15)

December 8, 2008

Yankee Spirits Beer Tasting

Newport Storm James

Yankee Spirits had a beer tasting yesterday. It was a welcome opportunity to try some new (relatively local) brews and a couple of distant brewery offerings as well. I was surprised by a couple of products that may become fast favorites. Here are some notes.

Coastal Extreme Brewery

I tried two of the beers from the makers of "Newport Storm." First: their Newport Storm Winter Ale is a chocolate porter, dedicated to the blizzard of '78. The chocolate malt is evident, but not burnt. I liked it, but I'm favoring more malty brews lately. (Sam Adams Chocolate Bock is a different animal entirely, because it uses actual chocolate; usually when you see the word "chocolate" in the name of a beer it describes the malt and not any actual chocolate flavor. And bock is a maltier style than porter.)

The porter was overshadowed by their Cyclone Series this year which is named "James." It's a Scotch Ale, which I find usually too peat-y. The reps told me they were going for only a hint and aftertaste of peat, rather than an overpowering flavor. They hit it. It wasn't too sweet or malty, either. Fans of traditional Scotch Ales may find it differs too much (you'll have to let me know) but I found it very enjoyable. I picked up a 6 pack for further analysis.

Sebago Brewing

This brewery offers a line of beers with the moniker "Slick Nick." My only notes are on their Slick Nick Winter Ale which I found to be clean, and only a little malty. It reminded me of a black lager, but with a little more body. It wasn't heavy, though.

The Balvenie

It's not a beer, it's a Scotch. There were three scotches, but I only tried two because I'm familiar with the DoubleWood. Founder's Reserve 10 year old and Single Barrel 15 year old were the two I tried. I didn't write down any notes beyond the lame observation that the 15 year old was smoother, but that I think I like the DoubleWood better than both.

Ayinger

Ayinger's well-known Celebrator double bock was very sweet, almost overpowering. You expect malty with doppelbocks, and this was certainly malty. I'm not drinking a lot of double bocks lately, and I'd like to taste this side by side with Salvator. With beers that are on the extremes, like Doppelbock, it's difficult to get a good read on them when you're swinging from an IPA to this; it over-emphasizes the differences. In any case, Celebrator is like a meal in a mug, and packs an alcoholic punch.

Samuel Smith

Another surprise of the day was Samuel Smith's new Organic Apple Cider. Wow - this might be my new favorite cider. It's definitely much stronger with the apple flavor. It was difficult to judge the relative sweetness, alongside of bitter beers, but this cider is very different from super-dry ciders that taste like champagne or beer yeast. It had a dry bite, but the apples come right to the front. I like a cider where the apples seem front and center. Specifically, it had a Cortland-like flavor.

Wachusett Brewing Company

This was a good comparison, because I tried two of their somewhat similar beers. Their Wachusett IPA is as hoppy as you expect from an IPA. Considering how expensive some super-hoppy beers are today, Wachusett IPA seems to me to be a very good deal. Not overpoweringly floral, the hops were a little fruity.

But I preferred their Green Monsta Pale Ale, which has a blend of hops and is more complex. Since I'm not a hops-head, perhaps I like to get as many different hops at one time in one beer. But they've done a good job balancing this beer. It's got less bite than the IPA, which is good for me, less good for hopheads.

I ran into @jcallina and his wife, but none of my other friends could get free to attend the tasting. Jason concurred with my judgment on Sam Smith's new cider. It was definitely a stand out of the tasting.

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December 6, 2008

Weekend Video - Wars v Trek

Here's a video for your weekend enjoyment. Picard vs. Vader...

Posted by James at 10:13 AM | Comments (2)

December 5, 2008

Twilight? Twi-Lame Shotgun

I'll be glad when the Twilight hype is over. I couldn't stand to see another trailer. However, I DID find a tween-vampire movie trailer that I did like. More about that after the links.

BONUS GAME:

Auditorium : A bland name for a weird play-and-exploration oriented game based on forces, particles and music.

Let The Right One In

So, here's the trailer for Let The Right One In. It's a Swedish film based on a horror novel of the same name. This sounds much better than the icky Twilight. It's playing at the Avon. Check out the trailer:

From the sound of it, though, the novel is more disturbing than the film. Sign me up!

Posted by James at 8:16 AM | Comments (10)

December 4, 2008

That Video Must Die!

A friend and sometimes commenter on this blog, known to EAForums members as magenta321/Margaret sent me a couple of songs to use in "That Song Must Die." I thank her for the suggestion. They're both on YouTube, so I thought it would be perfect to do a "That Video Must Die."

Slight problem: I like both songs. Especially one of them. However, what sort of host would I be here if I was too prejudicial in my musical choices? I recognize inherent badness in these songs, AND certainly the videos are worthy of criticism. And it should be up to you, the people, to decide... WHICH VIDEO SHOULD DIE? It's the same as Thunderdome, folks. Two vids enter, one vid leaves.

First:
Romeo Void's "Never Say Never" (Watch the video)

Second:
Cycle Sluts from Hell's "I Wish You Were a Beer" (Watch the video)

No quarter is asked; no mercy should be given.

BONUS-BONUS-BONUS!

In case that was not enough fun, (and in case you can't see YouTube where you work) I've put together a playlist with the above songs. In true "wild card" fashion, I've added two additional songs to the playlist. Brandy's OWN "Never Say Never" and Tynisha Keli's "I Wish You Loved Me." Throwing these two songs into the same playlist as Romeo Void and Cycle Sluts feels like throwing a couple of sickly baby ducks into a mosh pit. But, what the hey? It's FOR SCIENCE!

Last night we were back at the Pour Farm and a fellow bar-goer exercised a friendly politeness and asked us whether there was any music we would object to. I told him to play whatever he'd like, and for some reason Derek requested "Journey" and we got into an argument when he criticized the "Journey" he got. I pointed out he didn't specify good Journey. Theres a philosophical lesson in there somewhere.

I had Double Bastard at the Pour Farm Tavern last night. That stuff is stronger than it tastes. (Worry not; to be responsible, I was planted on Purchase Street for a good five hours)

Derek bought me some kind of Banana Nut Beer. I don't remember the name. Pour Farm bartenders are happy to let you sample an on-tap beer before you take the plunge. And apparently there are beer tastings every Tuesday.

We wandered out too late to make it to No Problemo, so the stragglers found our way to Hibernia where we ate a late dinner, got our bearings and argued about statistical analysis and neural networks to a background of Get Smart on the DVD machine. The rearranging of condiments and plates into meaningful patterns got us some strange looks.

All this is a preamble to me saying: I don't wish you were a beer, but I do wish you'd be there next time I'm at Pour Farm.

Posted by James at 9:08 AM | Comments (11)

December 3, 2008

The Pour Farm Tavern

Yesterday was an odd day, but ultimately a good one.

The highlight was a visit to "The Pour Farm Tavern" (**WARNING: link has music**) which instantly became my favorite bar in New Bedford, MA.

At the end of the workday, I revealed to my coworkers that I'd heard "Pour Farm" was serving Sam Adams Chocolate Bock on tap. We decided it was imperative we experience this, and I was ready for a beer after having finished my main task of the day and following a run-in with the office building manager1.

We headed off to Purchase St. I know what you're thinking, and the answer is: Yes! The same Purchase St. where No Problemo is located. In fact, The Pour Farm Tavern is essentially across the street from No Problemo. (see Map)

Derek went ahead and gave our order for pints of Chocolate Bock all around. It's as good as it is in the bottle, but even more smooth on tap.

The place is like a monument to good craft beer, and very un-like the bars of New Bedford I'm used to where you were lucky not to get a black eye if you didn't like the fact that they only had PBR and Bud Light. The place is covered with craft beer logos, and many of your favorites are there, quite a few are on tap. Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. Harpoon and Sam Adams Seasonals. Double Bastard. Wachusett. Dogfish Head. You should be getting the idea. This is a place you want to be if you actually like beer.

When we had to leave, we were told there was a Dewar's Scotch tasting about to happen. But I had to hop across the street to get tacos to bring home, and my tummy was already growling.

Let my just say this. You can't go wrong on that stretch of Purchase Street. If you have any excuse to go to New Bedford, you'll want to visit Pour Farm and No Problemo. Now that I think of it, you DO have an excuse, now.

Sleepy Stealy-Guy

I had to make a stop at Cardoza's in Fall River to pick up a few bottles they were holding for me, and when I got there the employees were all excited. Apparently, a guy had stolen some un specified bottle of liquor, which they did not notice until they saw it on the cameras.

A customer later told them that someone was sleeping in the parking lot in a running car, and it turned out to be the thief. The manager woke him up to argue with him about the stolen bottle, and apparently they had a bit of an argument before the sleepy guy realized he could just drive away.

I don't know why they didn't just let him rest while the police arrived. They still hadn't called in the authorities by the time I left the store. Weird!

I stopped

1 Essentially, I got frustrated with the building manager after he interrupted our meeting to scold us about the state of the kitchen area. My approach to the discussion became heated when he ignored my point about people coming in here and using our equipment without permission, and he tried to backtrack from his unfocused lecture on microwave cleanliness.

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Posted by James at 9:22 AM | Comments (10)

December 2, 2008

Best Beef Stew

Beef Stew Notes

I've been working on new crock-pot recipes, and I have perfected my beef stew to the point where I'm happy with it. I post it here for your use and enjoyment, but also because I'm afraid I will lose the two little slips of paper I've written my notes on.

The goal of this recipe is to get a good tasting stew that can be cooked in the crock-pot without having to brown the beef. This makes it much easier to assemble. I took a basic recipe and fiddled with it to replace the flavor that browning adds. That's why it has a longish ingredients list.

Dr. Momentum Beef Stew

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb stew meat (preferably chuck) cut in 1 inch cubes
  • 8 oz carrots cut to baby-carrot size
  • 12 oz potatoes cut in 1 to 2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 or 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1 heaping Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp Simply Organic All-Purpose Seasoning . (or substitute, below)
  • 2 tsp Kitchen Bouquet. (or Gravy Master)
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 14 oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup sherry
  • 1/2 tsp MSG (optional) (Ac'cent is the brand I use)
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper, fresh ground
  • seasoning salt to taste (or, celery salt)

Dump the whole thing in a crock-pot. Carrots on bottom, then potatoes, onions, meat. Sprinkle the flour over the mean, then dump everything else on top, except the sherry. As you add the sherry, try to get the liquid level approx 2/3 the way to the top of the ingredients. This will help give you a thick stew, and not too wet.

Set your crock-pot on low for 10 hours, until the meat can be cut with a fork. Chuck is very forgiving, but I find stew meat from the round to get dry if it's cooked too long, because it has less connective tissue.

Serve with your favorite blended red wine and a crusty stick bread.

If you don't have "Simply Organic" All-Purpose Seasoning, substitute 1 tsp parsley, 1 tsp celery seed, 2 tsp of mixed "Italian spices" and 1/2 tsp sage. Or, you can make a substitute "all purpose" mix which is great for stews, soups, and sauces.

All-Purpose Salt-Free Seasoning

  • 2 parts onion powder
  • 2 parts garlic powder
  • 2 parts parsley
  • 2 parts celery seed
  • 1 part black pepper
  • 1 part basil
  • 1 part ground thyme
  • 1 part oregano
  • 1 part sage
  • 1 part coriander

Place in a spice jar and use liberally as needed.

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Posted by James at 9:06 AM | Comments (16)