Saturday, May 31, 2014

Led Zeppelin Roundup

Remastered re-releases of Led Zep I, II, & III hit the market on June 3rd.  That's this coming Tuesday!  Guess I'll get my order in soon.  After listening to a bunch of Robert Johnson over the winter, my ears have a fresh take on all things Zep.

On the same subject, here's an awful prank I pulled on a friend here in town.  The setup is that R is a musician, British, of the approximate vintage as the rest of the British blues bunch, and he is deeply steeped in the same music that inspired those bands.
Me: "So, I've been listening to a lot of Robert Johnson this past month."
R: "Good good.  Are you learning much?"
Me: "Well, he's very good, but his music just sounds like a bunch of acoustic covers of Led Zeppelin songs."
R: *sputter*
He was kind enough not to actually call me an ignorant colonial before he saw my evil grin and realized he'd been had.

In the meantime while you wait for your new disks, have a listen to Stairway to Gilligan's Island.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Some Novel Automotive Experiences

What happens when you hack a Mustang GT engine into a junked Mazda RX7?  It's not good.

More from the same automobile modification enthusiasts: The Jettamino!

Finally, here are some Russian auto fails for desert.

Good night all.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Young Physicist's Take on Matters

From over at SMBC:


Movie Review: Monsters

From the director of Godzilla, Gareth Edwards, we have this 2010 flick Monsters.  To summarize, a NASA sample probe bringing back some E.T. life crashes in the north of Mexico, and six years later both nations are fighting a war to contain the large-ish aliens that have taken over an Infected Zone just south of the border.  Things go from bad to worse, and a journalist/photographer is tasked to get his publication's owner's daughter, inconveniently vacationing in central Mexico, back safe to the U.S.  Unfortunate things ensue.

This is a very well made piece of cinema, but it doesn't have much of a script and waaaay too many moving parts of sub-plotlines.  To wit:

  • competent use of modern CGI and other special effects to depict the eponymous monsters.
  • military action galore.  It seems like there's a kind of unstated commentary about our Middle East situation circa 2010 buried in there, but I couldn't quite discern it.  At least director seems to have watched Black Hawk Down and Generation Kill.
  • scenes of crushed coastal America, reminiscent of Katrina and some other hurricanes of the time.  There may be some kind of commentary buried in this one too.  As with the military aspects, if there is commentary there, it's vanishingly subtle.  (Or just in the mind of the viewer, which is a neat trick if you can pull it off.)
  • a fair dose of distant-longing type romance, with maybe a dash of slow-burn.
  • decent on-the-spot dialog and acting.
What it lacks is a compelling plot line.  Oh, there's enough of a plot line there to get us through to the end, it's just not the cross-your-legs-harder-and-wait-till-it's-over-to-pee kind of plot line.

So... what is this thing?  It's a resume.  Subsequently Edwards landed Godzilla, and now it looks like he's producing a Monsters sequel.  OK, fair enough.  It was a fun watch, it's just that the plot was too lightweight to cary the rest of the flick.  Two and a half stars out of four.

If you care to read up on things about and around this film, here's what others have to say:

Friday, May 23, 2014

Movie Review: Godzilla

It's surprisingly good, for a giant-monsters-stomp-L.A.-flat type of movie.  There's some backstory, some gobbledygook pseudo-scientific explanation as to the what and why of how a big green monster ends up smashing skyscrapers... it's gobbledygook, but at least they stuck some explanations in there and made them sound sorta plausible, and I do appreciate the effort.  Some of the family scenes with cute kids are a little saccharine, but that's easy to look past.  Some of the acting is hammy, but it's never completely awful.  As for the rest, it's all about the monsters and action!  And on the strength of that alone, this movie stands tall.

A lot has been made of the remade iconic roar.  Here's an article that covers most of that.  My take on it is that it's the same roar we all know and love, but upgraded and made bigger and badder for the 21st Century.  It works.  Here's the main event: "Just the roar, Ma'am" courtesy of Soundcloud.

I've seen several reviewers wanting to drag their politics in on this: it's about global warming, or it's about man's futility against the forces of nature and we can't affect the planet's temperature, or or or...  No, I'm having none of that.  It's a damn movie about big-ass monsters, originally played by a man in a rubber suit, now upgraded 60 years on with CGI and every other special effect Hollywood can throw at it.  Got it?  If I want to assign something deeper to this, it may be getting a bit Lovecraftian, with big impersonal forces that treat humans with the same contempt we treat fire ants in the yard: a minor annoyance at worst, but usually simply ignored.  Maybe it goes that deep, maybe it doesn't.  Either way, it is a spectacle not to be missed.

3.5 stars out of 4.
Time for my morning walk.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Controversy of the Week

Did Led Zep rip off the opening to Stairway to Heaven?  Here, go read and listen at Time.

Short and sweet version: Yeah, sounds like it.

No Reason

It's just bacon.  Bacon no more needs a reason than air.
Image shamelessly swiped from Uncyclopedia.

Too Much Going On Lately

But that's a good thing.  Among the items:

  • Hacked back the brush around three edges of the yard.
  • Mowed the grass.
  • Confirmed tune on the VHF ham antenna.  Tested the coax too.  (Thanks Sam!)
  • Washed & waxed the car.
  • Fixed the truck.
  • Weeded the garden.
  • Brought the chicory seedlings back into happy (will transplant next week).
  • Made it to trivia night at the Ugly Pirate.  Didn't win, but had a respectable finish.  The Insufferables ride again!
  • Made it to the monthly ham club meeting.
  • Got 25 miles on the mountain bike.  On dirt!
  • Got a nighttime 5k in.
  • And got that #$*@#! Monte Carlo result comparison program working.
It's been a busy couple of weeks since the last trip to Apalach.  Not much worth writing about, just a lot of time-chewing stuff.  Got to go see Captain America and Godzilla soon, maybe will have something to say then.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Antique Shop Find

So I was in Apalach a couple of weeks ago, looking around an antique shop while waiting on someone, when I stumbled onto a framed page out of Life magazine featuring one of the post-WW2 White Sands V-2 launches:

Hmmm.  Had to get it.  Then, after getting home I had to pop it out of its frame to straighten it up, only to find two launch pictures on the back:
Well that was pretty cool.  Can't show off both sides at once, but I can take a picture of the page and look at that anytime I wish.  But there was one more thing.  The paint scheme looked familiar.  Many of the White Sands launches had a unique paint scheme, some with roll patterns, some with wild stripes, etc.  But this one looked strangely familiar.  Here we go:
Shot #3, May 10, 1946.  The magazine page is dated May 27th.  I built a model of it circa 1995.  As you can see from the dings on the fins and the black powder stains, this model has had a few flights of its own.

Small world.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Monday, May 5, 2014

Grinch Lyrics

Don't even get me started on the why's of why this is showing up on the blog today.  Just accept my statement that there is no small quantity of Irish whiskey in the back-story.
Link to the Lyrics
Link to the Music (youtube)
Link to the Wikipedia page


Sunday, May 4, 2014

VHF Antenna & Moon

Mmm, it makes a good if amateurish (heh) picture.
All that new copper gleaming in the sun, the mysterious curve of the feed line, the up-and-out-there camera angle, and then the moon... the moon just happened to be in the right spot.  Not bad for a little bit of water pipe and some fence-top rail.  It'll hit a repeater thirty miles away.  Click to embiggen.  This shot, simple as it is, deserves a closer look.

If you want one of your very own, you can find it here.  If you're wondering how such an unusual antenna design functions, Wikipedia has the answer.  Disclaimer: No Zeppelins were ignited or otherwise harmed in the construction of this device.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Very Small Breath of Sanity

NPR asks Is it still college without football?  A fair question, but even the title shows a bias toward varsity sports.  The article is actually more about two colleges' efforts to contain tuition costs, with the curtailment of quasi-professional varsity sports being just one component.  From the article:
There will be push back. Parents are becoming much more cost-conscious today in looking at universities... When you get top privates touching $60,000 a year, that's a quarter million dollars for four years! I think people are really taking a step back.
Hard to argue with that.