Saturday, December 11, 2010

Philosophy Homework

Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc Dialogue

I used to believe that correlation implied causation until I took that statistics class

And now you don’t? It sounds like the statistics class really helped.

I’m not so sure.

Not so sure about what?

That the statistics class helped.

But you said that you used to believe that correlation implied causation until you took the statistics class.

Oh, that’s cute. You think that the statistics class changed my belief about correlation implying causation.

Yes. Didn’t it?

No. You see, just because there is a correlation between my attending the statistics class and my changing my beliefs does not mean that I changed my belief because of the statistics class.

Ahh. Hmmm.

And now I’ve killed the joke.

How so?

99.9% of jokes are rendered unfunny when the punchline or gag has to be explained. However, 90% of unfunny jokes are similarly rendered funny when the joke is explained, thus the advent of metahumor through statistics.

That’s funny.

No, it’s not.

It’s not?

No.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Career Aspirations

Earlier today, I was discussing with my Mother what sort of job I might wish to do for a living.
I was thinking that when I grow up, I should be a professor, or a lawyer, or a rabbi, or something fun like that.
My Mom thinks I should be a computational linguist.
I don't understand my parents at all.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Musings

Nick Drake plays his guitar in my ear, I struggle to think

“Write something” whispers my muse

“Write about the world, the way things are

“Write about revolution, people usually go for that

“Be evocative, a little evocation never hurt anybody

“Be repetitive, a little repetition never hurt anybody

“Pick a mood you like and evoke it

“Pick a word you like and repeat it

“Pick a poem you like and copy it

“Be hip, be modern, just throw some words on a page

“Use words,” she says “all the best poets use words”

My muse and I are no longer on speaking terms

Monday, June 14, 2010

Reading List - June 2010

I haven't updated the reading list in quite a while, so here we go. In no particular order, here is what I am reading or re-reading at the moment:

Principia Discordia, by Malaclypse the Younger & Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst;
The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle;
Trigun: Volume One, by Yasuhiro Nightow;
Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel;
The Faded Sun Trilogy, by C.J. Cherryh;
Fragile Things, by Neil Gaiman;
The Necronomicon, by "Simon";
The Complete Verse of Rudyard Kipling;
The Holy Bible, New King James Version;
The Collected Writings of Zelda Fitzgerald;
The Poetic Edda, Henry Adams Bellows translation;
The Meaning of the Holy Qu'ran, Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation.

What are you reading and why? I am always looking for new favorites.

Literally,

Stephen

The Stephen-ness of it all....

So, how is your day going?

Today was the last day of voice lessons for this school year. I really like my voice teacher, Kathyanne. She is "dramatic" - although to really get the idea you have to say that in a sing-song voice with jazz hands and spirit fingers. She is very over the top.

Kathyanne was discussing summer plans with my mother, and mentioned that she is holding a "Glee" camp based on the TV show. I like the TV show. I'm not terribly fond of dancing or, indeed, of other people, but I was considering attending the camp. Then Kathyanne mentioned that the camp is full of girls and she really, desperately needed boys who could sing. I'm a boy. I sing really well (if I do say so myself - and I do). At that point I was really interested in the camp.

But, before I could say anything - Kathyanne announced that the camp was not for me. She said I would "take over the whole thing." I don't really see the problem in that, but again, before I could add my opinion on the subject, Kathyanne said that she should just have me "teach a class on the Stephen-ness of it all."

In case anyone cares, I am generally OK with the idea of teaching a room full of high school-aged girls a class on the Stephen-ness of it all.

But, y'know...

So, yeah.

Stephen

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Change

To say that I don't like change is severe understatement. I resist change with every fiber of my being. My resistance most likely stems from issues resulting from Autism, but it is an integral facet of my personality and existence. Unfortunately for me, however, I live in a world that requires constant change. My family moves around a lot and having moved, they invariably begin the process of adapting to our new surroundings. It is the process of adapting or changing to which I object.

Most change begins with an announcement of impending doom; for example, "You need new shoes", or "We're buying you a new desk." It doesn't matter whether my shoes have been an inch too short for my feet for several weeks or if I've been balancing my desktop on empty moving boxes for months. I do not want to change them. I don't want new shoes or a new desk. The announcement triggers the process. It's the alarm bell to my system that says, "Hey! Stop that!”

I am an active resister. I complain. And then, I complain some more. There is generally quite a bit of whining involved. I dismiss ideas out of hand. The desk is too small or the shoes too uncomfortable. I know what I’m doing, but I am unable to stop myself. I tell myself that I could completely stop if I wanted to and that I just don’t want to. I’m lying. I really can’t stop it.

I notice that I’ve gotten quite a bit more self aware about these things. I know that I’ll probably like whatever it is we’re changing at some point in the future. I hate it now – but I’ll fight to keep it at that future time when it too will need to be replaced.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Some Random Thingies For You To Read While I Think Of Something Meaningful To Say

I won 'Best Duo' at karaoke night at the place where I have voice lessons. My sister helped.

I was recently discussing stoic philosophy with my Mom; I brought up Epictetus and She started giggling. Sometimes I wonder about Her.

Two weeks ago, I said that I was going to try and write a song a week. I still haven't finished a song, but I've written several, so I'm counting it as a success.

I have a podcast. I've been releasing episodes monthly since January, but keep forgetting to mention it. Well, here it is.

Um, yeah,
Stephen

Friday, March 19, 2010

Adventures in System Administration

A few months ago, mid-October probably, my laptop (or 'Mercutio' as I call it) stopped being able to access the internet wirelessly. Since I'm always at my desk anyway and my dad refuses to let me use my sisters old laptop, I just made do with what I had and used an ethernet connection. Well, I discovered today that there was never anything wrong with my computer, turns out that the internet works fine, I'm just an idiot. You see, Mercutio has a little has a little switch on the front that turns wifi on and off, not knowing this switch was there, I'd left it off for months and months. A cursory examination of my laptop and a flick of a switch and wifi works perfectly again.

I cannot brain, I have the dumb.

Stephen

Sunday, February 28, 2010

On the use of the word "retard" as a Perjorative...

It is not ok.

NOT OK.

More to follow,

Stephen

I Need To Post More

Every so often, I google "Gifted Gear" or "Gifted Gear Reviews" to see what people have to say about my blog, or my music, or whatever.

Recently, having done that, I found an autism blog with my site on the associated blogroll. Nothing particularly unusual about that, until I clicked on the link and scrolled down a bit. I noticed that "Gifted Gear Reviews" was under the heading of "Dead Blogs"; which really annoyed me for some reason.

I'm not really sure why that annoyed me so much, especially considering that all the times my parents said "Hey, Stephen, you should write something" which elicited no reaction from me other than a mumbled "yeahsurewhatever."

But, long story short, I use too many commas. Aside from that, I've decided that I'm going to get rid of my "Posts that aren't long enough to qualify as a short essay are for LiveJournal" policy-that's-more-of-a-guideline-than-a-policy-anyway. So yeah.

More posts to follow,
Stephen

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Spintown: Song Fu #5: Round 1

Spintown: Song Fu #5: Round 1


This very nice person liked my song!!! Thanks.

He also has links to the videos made by other people.

Beware, I have not heard them all - they may contain offensive language.

Enjoy,

Stephen

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Song Fu

www.quickstopentertainment.com/2009/11/17/song-fu-5-round-1-voting/


I wrote a song for the current Masters of Song Fu Challenge. Actually, I wrote lyrics for two songs. The first was Dr. Phineas Basalt #240. Good song, but it resisted all my attempts to write a second verse. The second song, the one that I actually posted on the challenge, is #580 Old Uncle Hades. I managed to write complete lyrics and guitar chords for the second song.

If you go and listen to the song, you'll notice that there is no guitar on the track posted. Here's why:

To start with, I didn't have anything to record with other than the USB microphone that came with my Guitar Hero game and Garage Band on the iMac. I went out and got a new microphone (that ended up not sounding as good as the Mic I had), a mic stand (that ended up being incredibly useful), a microphone to USB converter (that was not useful at all), an instrument to USB cable (that would have been much more useful had I written a song with chords that I can play reliably - that is, without any sort of fret buzz), and a couple of USB hubs (that were about as useful as a USB hub can possibly be).

I spent Friday attempting to get the various hissing noises off the guitar track. My mental breakdown started there, I think. I spent Saturday trying to record the guitar track, which didn't happen. I spent most of Sunday trying to record the guitar track, which, again, didn't happen. I finally recorded vocals. Later I tried recording the guitar again, huge mistake! My capacity to multi-task under stress and pressure is apparently non-existent. I had a meltdown and decided that I was done. Not finished, mind you, but done.

The moral of this story is that as much as I love songwriting and performing, recording makes me want to punch babies. Or, at least recording when I don't know what I'm doing makes me want to punch babies. If you want to check out my song it's at the very bottom of the list on the link above. Your votes, if you are so inclined, are appreciated. If I make the cut - I'll try to do it better next time.

Stephen

Monday, March 02, 2009

Reflections on the new year

It's 2009. It used to be 2008, but it is now 2009. 1989 was twenty years ago. Next years 1990 will have been twenty years ago. As I understand it, the system works like this: 10 years ago = the dorky decade that we would rather forget, 30 years ago = too far gone to be worth remembering, and 20 years ago = the best we've ever had. Ergo, next year there should a huge wave of 90's nostalgia, a wave where we will remember great things like... what exactly happened in the 90's?


So, from the perspective of someone who remembers absolutely none of the 90's, here is a list:

* If my parent's DVD collection is any indication, there were lots of romantic comedies (probably kick-started by When Harry Met Sally in 1989); enough that if you assigned a musical instrument to each one, you could start a battle of the orchestras competition.
* There was grunge and lots of it.
* And flannel, lots of flannel (except in the northwest, that wasn't a trend, they've always dressed like that).
* To a lesser extent there was ska-punk and the swing and rockabilly revivals.
* There was the internet (well, technically the internet has existed in one form or another since the 50's, but it just wasn't the same).
* Mainstream hip-hop mostly consisted of gangster rap, but there was also Arrested Development and who doesn't like Arrested Development.
* American comic books were "dark and edgy", but Azumanga Daioh (the best comic ever) started in 1999, so I'm going to count the 90's as an ok decade for comics.
* There great cartoons such as Sonic The Hedghog (SatAM, of course), Superman: The Animated Series, and The Adventures Of Sam And Max: Freelance Police.
* The Travelling Wilburys and Turning Point, my two favourite bands, both released some great music in the early 90's, but they both broke up in 1990 and 1991 respectively, so... yeah.
* Oh yeah, there was also the Clinton impeachment... that was fun.


So, that's the 90's as far as I care about it. Um... yeah.

Stephen

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

LISTMANIA

I enjoy listing things. Here are some lists.

Painters that I like:

* H.R. Giger
* Salvador Dali
* Andy Warhol
* Jackson Pollock

People with voices that are EPIC:

* Patrick Stewart
* Tim Curry
* James Earl Jones
* Meat Loaf

Bands/artists that I feel obligated to hate but don't:

* My Chemical Romance
* The Jonas Brothers
* Linkin Park
* Celine Dion

You can add your own lists in the comments.

Maniacally,
Stephen

Facts of Life

  • A heap of sand consists of two or more grains.
  • "How are you?" is a stupid thing to ask if don't want to know how someone is.
  • High art is whatever you think it is.
  • 4′33″ is the greatest piece of music ever written.
  • And finally, I will never get to update my blog as often as I want to.

Merry Christmas everyone, sorry I haven't updated in forever.

MarsCon 2009

MarsCon is going to be here (well, not here, but you know what I mean) in two months and ten days and it is going to be awesome. I'm the opening act for the unnamed-as-far-as-I-know party room hosted by Beth Kinderman and The Player Characters which will be featuring music and music and I think that there might be some music there, I may or may not be co-hosting Radio Free Gallifrey with DJ Phoenix depending on whether or not there is going to be a concert at the time, and Mom just ordered this years fundraiser CD that features your's truly singing a bunch of stuff!

Also: I read Howl by Allen Ginsberg the other day and it reads like an overly verbose Worm Quartet lyric. Don't get me wrong, it's great poetry, it just gives me an odd "where have I seen this before?" feeling.

Something witty,
Stephen

P.S. Something nifty.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I want a sticker!

Apparently, if you vote you get an "I voted sticker". Apparently, if you have an "I voted sticker" you can get free stuff. In various places around the country, an "I voted sticker" is sufficient currency for a free Chik-fil-a sandwich, free Ben & Jerry's ice cream, free coffee at Starbucks, free Krispy Kreme donuts, and free other stuff.

My mother, who did vote, was offered an "I voted sticker". She didn't accept it.

Now I have no excuse to go to Ben & Jerry's. Thanks a lot mom.

Being 12 sucks!

Stephen

PS I realize that all of my ice cream, sandwiches, and coffee are "free" to me. But now I don't have an enticement to get mom to go get them.

PPS I also realize that the purpose of voting is not to receive free stuff, and the historic importance of the 2008 election. But, being 12, the potential for free stuff offered a slightly more immediate incentive than the hope for a new president.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Creepy...

Halloween was a couple of days ago and in that spirit, here's a video that makes me glad I don't live in Australia:



Also: this was taken from a movie made for small children.

I'm glad that's over,

Stephen

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thoughts for October

I bought a guitar, I will hopefully be good enough to actually play music within the next year. I have acquired some harmonica skill thanks to harptabs.com. I'm taking tap dance lessons. I'm trying to figure out whether or not House of Leaves will be worth reading. I haven't updated my blog in a month. I'm currently listening to The New Amsterdams and they're better than an emo band has any right to be.

What's new with you guys?

Stephen

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

September sound off....

I'm sorry that I haven't updated in the last couple of months, I was at my grandma's house (where the internet moves at a sloth's pace) in July and I was playing video games through most of August. I've been trying to relegate my random musings to my Livejournal, but it turns out that random musings were the backbone of my blog (seriously, go back, read the archives, and compare the number of random musings to other kinds of post), so I've decided to keep the musing about comedy music and video in my Livejournal and I'll post the other ramblings here.

On a completely unrelated note, I've been working on a comic strip that I will post on this very blog (y'know, as opposed to some other blog) just as soon as I figure out how.

Also: Dueling Banjos!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Proust for Everyone

I got this from the Occassional Superheroine blog.

The opportunity to talk about myself while simultaneously ripping off a blog I like? Sign me up!

1. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Eternal nothingness.

2. Where would you like to live?
I don’t really care where I live, so long as I have internet access.

3. What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Spontaneously acquiring tons of money and being able to live like The Addams Family.

4. To which faults do you feel most indulgent?
Procrastination.

5. Who is/are your favorite hero/heroes of fiction?
The Doctor, MacGyver, and Batman.

6. Who are your favorite characters in history?
Andy Warhol and Emperor Joshua Norton.

7. Who are your favorite heroines in real life?
The leaders of the feminist movement.

8. Who is/are your favorite heroine/heroines of fiction?
I think Metroid is a real cool guy, eh hunts monsters and doesn’t afraid of anything. More seriously, Chell from Portal, Captain Janeway of the starship Voyager, and Samus Aran from Metroid.

9. Your favorite painters?
Yves Tanguy, and Salvador Dali.

10. Your favorite composers or musicians?
In the interests of brevity, I’m just going to limit this list to musicians in my favourite stack (which also means only people whose CDs I own and am still in possession of the cases for). In no particular order, OK GO, Paul and Storm, Screeching Weasel, Beth Kinderman, Soggy Potato Chips, Carrie Dahlby, DJ Particle, ABBA, The Ramones, Dream Theater, The Velvet Underground and Nico, Tiny Tim, Cream, Buddy Holly, David Bowie, Frank Zappa, and Weezer.

11. Which qualities do you most value in a man?
Intelligence and a sense of humour.

12. Which qualities do you most value in a woman?
Intelligence and a sense of humour.

13. Your favorite virtue?
Not taking oneself too seriously.

14. Your favorite occupation?
Professional nerd (i.e. indie musician).

15. Who would you have liked to be?
Myself.

16. Your most marked characteristic?
My sense of humour.

17. What do you most value in your friends?
I don’t have enough friends to know.

18. What is your principle defect?
I’m sometimes rude when I don’t mean to be, but that’s less my principle defect than my only one.

19. What is your favorite color?
Black.

20. What is your favorite flower?
The Orchid.

21. What is your favorite bird?
Penguins, for they are truly the Sinatra of birds.

22. Who are your favorite prose writers?
Douglas Adams, Norton Juster, Neil Gaiman, and Oscar Wilde.

23. Who are your favorite poets?
Shel Silverstein, Jonathan Coulton, Paul and Storm, Patti Smith, and Alexander Pope.

24. What are your favorite names?
Yo-Yo Ma, Heidi Klum, and Wikipedia.

25. What is it you most dislike?
“Things I dislike” is too broad a category for me to pick just one thing.

26. What historical figure do you most despise?
That guy who shot John Lennon.

27. What event in military history do you most admire?
Britain standing against the Nazis during Word War II.

28. What reform do you most admire?
I don’t know enough about reforms to answer this question.

29. What natural gift would you most like to possess?
Naturally cool hair.

30. How would you like to die?
After having lived a good life, doing something worthwhile.

31. What is your present state of mind?
Happy.

32. What is your motto?
“Life is to short to waste your time thinking up stupid mottos, instead you should waste your time doing something else.”

Effectively wasting time elsewhere,

Stephen

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Truth and Consequences: Take 2

I like the song Nethack by Rob Balder. I request the song Nethack on my favourite Dementia Radio shows. A lot.

Through no fault of my own, Blasted Bill had a fight with Rob and won't play any of his songs, including Nethack.

Through some fault of my own (an none of DJ Phoenix's), DJ Phoenix has gotten tired of my requests and wants to play any song other than Nethack.

On a completely unrelated note, I suck at Nethack (the game not the song).

I have to get this under control before they stop playing Nethack on the Dementia Radio random cast too.

Or, before they ban me altogether!

If at first you don't succeed, perseverate.

Solidly on the spectrum,
Stephen



Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Neurodiversity

I have been loosely following a debate between Autism experts and neurodiversity proponents. Essentially, the autism experts want to "cure autism" and rid the world of this disorder and its consequences while the neurodiversity proponents want to "celebrate atypical brain function as a positive identity, not a disability" (Solomon, 2008).

Education Week reporter, Christina Samuels, asked this question from an educator's perspective in her On Special Education blog:

What would that mean for educators, I wonder? "Anti-cure doesn't mean anti-progress," said one of the leaders of this movement, Ari Ne'eman. And a mother quoted in the story says that some of the treatments her son has undergone are a waste of time, and she'd like to see better services for him.

But Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, cautions against "romanticizing" and "trivializing" mental disorders. Children with autism are not merely shy loners, he says.

I think we can all get behind the idea of treating a child as something more than a bundle of defects that must be fixed. Is the idea of neurodiversity and groups like the Autistic Self Advocacy Network moving too far in a direction that leads away from appropriate treatment?


I don't usually take sides on these kinds of things, but here is my response:

"I think we can all get behind the idea of treating a child as something more than a bundle of defects that must be fixed."

Thank you. I agree wholeheartedly that I and children like me, are much more than the sum of our parts - and those parts are not deficient. Autism affects my personality but it is not a defect.

"Is the idea of neurodiversity and groups like the Autistic Self Advocacy Network moving too far in a direction that leads away from appropriate treatment?"

However, this question offends me. Neurodiversity isn't simply an idea or a proposed policy - it is an actual reflection of life as it is. Human beings ARE diverse. Physical differences, mental differences, emotional differences exist and play out in myriad ways. Neurodiversity is simply another manifestation of the human condition.

There is no appropriate discussion to be had on whether groups such as the Autism Self Advocacy Network are moving in the "right" direction. Self-advocacy is, by definition, defined by those who are advocating on their own behalf. No one outside the group has standing to determine what group members feel is important to advocate. As a member of the target class, I can tell you that advocating for acceptance of who I am, as I am, is incredibly important just as it is in any civil rights struggle.

My bias in this discussion is that I am a 12 year-old kid with Asperger's/autism. I am considered "highly functioning" and a gifted learner but I do struggle with functioning in society and social situations. I failed dismally in public education. Or rather, public education failed me.

I experienced little acceptance and no respect from the educators I encountered in public school. The emphasis in all of the IEPs, behavior modifications plans, and treatments ever written on my behalf were to make me and my behavior "normal". It was more important that I appear like everyone else than it was to help me understand social conventions and determine whether I needed/wanted to conform in any specific instance. Adults are generally given the opportunity to choose from among numerous avenues of acceptable behavior within society, but children are not. Children identified as special needs have even fewer options - their only goals are defined in terms of how well they meet norms, rather than how well they develop, grow, learn and expand as individuals.

I empathize with parents whose children cannot interact or function as a result of autism or other disorder. However, respect for differences and diversity not only offers a starting place for those children to grow, live, and thrive - it also opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for achievements and accomplishments that would not be possible for a neurotypical child.

"Appropriate treatment" is not possible unless and until educators adopt a policy of unfailing respect for the individual. Progress is more important than a cure. Acceptance of difference is more important than achieving normalcy. Tolerance is not good enough because it demands change or at least movement toward an external norm.

I deserve acceptance and respect as I am.


Stephen


TrackBacks:

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/2008/06/neurodiversity.html
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/OnCall/story?id=5033594&page=1
http://nymag.com/news/features/47225/

Monday, June 02, 2008

Yet another parody of "Still Alive"

Here are the lyrics to my new parody of Jonathan Coulton's Still Alive. I actually thought about writing Still a Nerd - but I thought that would be stupid. Now, of course, I've learned that Tom Smith wrote it anyway, I'm really glad I didn't do. I don't want to compete with Tom Smith!

So, without any ado at all, here are the lyrics to my new song:

This Song's not Funny by Gifted Gear:

This song’s not funny
I’m sorry, I tried, I did my best
It’s hard to overstate my frustration
With my lack of humour
The one joke I had just didn’t scan
And I’m sorry to report that even that joke was bad

So, I’m sitting here thinking about what I should write
I’ll just keep on trying if it takes me all night
I’ll find the right rhyme for a decent punch line
and upload this song onto the FuMP

Why am I trying?
Writing this song won’t make me rich
It’s not enough to bring me fame or fan girls
But, maybe an album
That could be just the start I need
But first I have to think of something funny to write

They say there is nothing new beneath the sun
All the jokes coming to mind have already been done
Nobody cares about the chicken or why he crossed the road
Because that joke is really, really old

Go ahead and say it

These jokes are lame and old and stale
I need to find a funny new perspective

I need something novel
Knock, knock. Who’s there? Who cares! It’s been done

Anyway the sun is up oh look at how the time flies

Here I am still talking, when there's more I should write
I’ve got nothing done although it took me all night
I’m running out of time and I still can’t find a rhyme
I guess it’s time that I give up!


This Song's not Funny is the first tune in my new rock opera. Code name: Faust for Dementites. A dude who wants to be a comedy singer sells his soul to the devil to be able to write the funniest songs ever. Some other stuff happens and then the dude challenges the devil to a "rock-off". I'm hoping for guest stars.... I'd love to hear Tom Smith cover Sympathy for the Devil as the villain-introduction song!

Humming 80's chords,
Stephen

Inane babblings...

It's Friday night... The Show With The Funny Name is over, I’m expecting to hear the Doctor Who theme...

What I heard was a techno remix of the Happy Days theme followed by Working For The Weekend by Loverboy. The sheer unexpectedness of this made it one of the funniest things ever. It turned out that it was actually an hour earlier than I thought it was, and that Mr. Tuesday now has a show on my favourite day of the week (that would be Friday, BTW). Now, more than ever, Friday is made of win!

I have a question for my more Dementia-savvy readers: Is the song Dear God by Worm Quartet a biting satire about the kind of people who pray about every little thing or is it just ShoEboX being weird? I mean, we are talking about the guy who wrote Pac-Man Is Naked And So Should You and Call Me Jennifer And Steal My Stapler. He’s also the guy wrote the excellent satirical songs C Is For Lettuce and What Your Parents Think All Your Music Sounds Like… so, yeah.

Another question for my readers: What would happen if an unstoppable force found an immovable object in it’s way?

Nightwish is going to be performing in Dallas in a couple of months, hopefully I’ll get to see them.

I went to see Iron Man and lo, it was good.

I wrote a song (well I parodied a song that Jonathan Coulton wrote, anyway), I just need to get some music for it and get it recorded and it shall be on the FuMP Sideshow in no time.

I’m trying a to start a podcast, but I need to find some software to record it on. Suggestions are welcome.

There’s a chance that I might get to go to Con On The Cob.

I shall, at some point in the semi-near future, start selling Gifted Gear t-shirts.

I’ve been drawing a comic strip, I just need to stop being lazy, scan them into the computer and post them on my blog.

So, anyway those were all the things I wanted to get out there, but didn’t think were worthy of a post all on their own.

And now: Bob Dylan






Um… yeah,

Stephen

Friday, May 09, 2008

Music - Part 2: This time it's personal...

I did a post on music a while back called "Music – Part 1" and I have yet to follow it up, so here is a listing of my favourite CDs and brief descriptions of them:

Disraeli Gears by Cream: Cream was sort of like a British version of The Jimi Hendrix Experience (the main difference being that Cream had the better guitarist and The Jimi Hendrix Experience had the better vocalist), they both have a very bluesy, rather psychedelic type sound. This CD also holds the title of "really great music to play video games to".

All of My Heroes Are Villains by Beth Kinderman: A rather nifty singer-songwriter-y kind of awesome. The song Valley is not to be missed, even if you don't have or don't plan on getting the album, go to www.bethkinderman.com and listen to the song, seriously, it's a great song (if a rather downbeat one).

In Stereo by Soggy Potato Chips: It is absolutely hilarious to listen to Alchav scream "headache, headache, headache, headache, headache, I've got a headache!" repeatedly; that says everything you need to know about Soggy Potato Chips.

Score by Dream Theatre: Progressive Rock as it should be, very loud and very energetic with all the long solos and nonsensical lyrics that make this genre so great.

The Velvet Underground and Nico by The Velvet Underground and Nico: A fun little record full of catchy and memorable songs. Also: a subject of controversy back in the days when sex and drugs weren't something you could hear about in every other song on the radio.

Shiny Round Thing Inside by DJ Particle: I don't think that saying that DJ Particle rocks like a rocking thing that rocks is accurate, I think it should be said that a rocking thing that rocks rocks like DJ Particle. In case you find the preceding sentence confusing, I'm saying that DJ Particle (and thus this CD) rocks.

The Blue Album by Weezer: Ah, Weezer, devotees of the ever-so-incredibly-awesome school of Cheap Trick-esque guitar pop, there isn't really much to be said about them except that they were a bright spot in the otherwise dingy world of the 90's mainstream music scene.

The Definitive Collection by ABBA: What am I supposed to say? It's ABBA, the greatest Pop group ever! If Elton John is the King of Pop, then ABBA were the King's royal advisors or something! In a word: they were great.

Happy Ranch by Carrie Dahlby: Carrie Dahlby, the only person to have successfully parodied both Simon and Garfunkel and Gilbert and Sullivan, the Dementia Smackdown women's champion, and generally really good at what she does.

Hunky Dory by David Bowie: Essentially David Bowie's singer-songwriter album, there is the one rocker on this album, but it's mostly acoustic. As an aside I would like to mention Bowie's Bright Orange Mullet of Doom that he wears on the cover and in the pictures in the liner notes, I have nothing to say about it, I would just like to point out that he's wearing a bright orange mullet. Also: I think "Bright Orange Mullet of Doom" would make a great name for a Worm Quartet song.

Freak Out by The Mothers of Invention: This is one of those albums that can be divided into two roughly equal halves, in this case the halves consist of a bunch of off-beat pop songs on one half and a bunch of freaky, experimental songs on the other half; I bought it for the freaky, experimental half, but I kept listening more for the catchy, popish half.

Live! At The Royal Albert Hall by Tiny Tim: The easiest way to describe this album: everything great about Pop music rolled in one Incredibly awesome package.

So there you have it, my favourite CDs and, more importantly, an excuse to title a post "Music – Part 2: This Time It's Personal"

Clever Signoff,

--Stephen

P.S. I would like to point out that the word "awesome" is, in most modern contexts, a lot funnier when you think of it's original meaning which described something that "instills one with a sense of awe". Now you know why I use the word "awesome" so much.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The most important person in the world - A MarsCon Report

Here is the report from my first ever MarsCon!!! (The best birthday present EVER!)


Day One


I volunteered for a bit. Worked 3.5 hours at the Consuite and Registration. It was pretty fun. I got to talk to people. It’s a little like stalking without scaring people. For example, I share a birthday with Carrie Dahlby. Didn’t know that. I got to see all of the people I know of from the “dementia scene” – Luke Ski, Carrie Dahlby, Hot Waffles (and Tim’s Banjo), Tak, Alchav and Kristi, Eric Coleman, Beth Kinderman, Jared Ringold, Bill Putt, and I’m sure there were others. If being in the presence of the “cool people” and talking to some of them wasn’t enough - I got a cool shiny button from the Martian Militia. (PS Since I don’t have my own stuff to sell yet, everybody go to these people’s websites and buy something!)


I ran into Alchav downstairs in the hotel and he invited me to the Dementia Dinner. Bill was taking pictures in the lobby and having people dance for his own amusement – there may be a video of me out there somewhere dancing like a fool because Bill Putt said to. Dinner was fun – although completely inexplicable to someone who wasn’t there. I sat with CRoses, ameangirl (not a typo or commentary on her personality – just her badge name), DJ Particle, and DJ Phoenix. Eric Coleman and Davroz rotated through my table. The food was pretty good – I ate fettucini alfredo four nights in a row. And the servers were very tolerant if somewhat slow. Half of the servers looked somewhat scared whenever they had to approach our group. The others seemed to be having fun.


I attended Opening Ceremonies. There was a skit. Skits are okay. It wasn’t Monty Python. But nothing is. I had to do several skits for Boy Scouts. I liked the Opening Ceremonies skit better – it had video game characters. Yay Pac-Man!


Between Opening Ceremonies and the first dementia concerts, I did the only non-comedy music programming I attended all weekend. I had to show up – it was my idea and I was on the panel. “How to Survive the Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse.” Props to Kevin and Brian. They really did all of the hard work with the movie reviews and the power point presentation. I got to play middle ground, ask questions, sit up front, and pantomime zombie attacks. All fun! I had no idea what to expect or how it would go, but I really liked it. I think it went pretty well. I couldn’t have hosted it by myself. Oh and I got a new book for my reading list – The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. Mostly I got to wear my very cool Night of the Living Dead t-shirt. w00t!


The Dementia Track concerts:

The first night of concerts featured Beth Kinderman, Eric Coleman, Worm Quartet, and The Gothcicles.


Beth Kinderman is not all that demented. She has a geeky singer-song writer acoustic vibe (sort of like Jonathan Coulton). She is, however, awesome. Very awesome. My favorite Beth Kinderman song is Valley.


Eric Coleman sounds like what I’ll probably sound like when I grow up. He stops his songs occasionally to talk, make pithy comments, be funny, have side bars. The odd thing is I usually stop my pithy comments to sing…. I actually didn’t recognize him until he started singing The Only Coffee House in Town. I was so glad we didn’t skip his concert. He was great.


As if I didn’t have enough proof that my parents are cool, my mom sat with me through a whole Worm Quartet concert. Worm Quartet is… Worm Quartet is…. Worm Quartet is not for the faint of heart. It would be too easy to describe Worm Quartet as a guy with a mullet screaming over pre-recorded synthesizer tracks. However, proof does exist that beyond being extremely funny and profane (and awesome!) – ShoEboX can actually sing well. My favorite song was What Your Parents Think All Your Music Sounds Like. However, I was not allowed to get the button. Just because mom would tolerate the insanity – doesn’t mean she’ll let me take the insanity home with me.


Then there are The Gothcicles. Again, their show was awesome. Their music was awesome. It was late at night though. I am supposed to be asleep by 10 p.m. I saw about half of the concert but I missed their performance with Sudden Death.


I finally calmed down enough to fall asleep around 1:30 a.m. What a blast of a day!!!


Day Two

Breakfast at the hotel was pretty bad. If it hadn’t been free – I doubt that I would have forced myself to eat any of it. Don’t get me wrong. Unlimited free bacon is hardly ever a bad thing (see Bacon!, below). But, I do like my breakfast bacon with other edibles.


Saturday was pretty slow until the concerts started. We looked around the dealer’s room. There were a lot of things my sister would have liked… a bunch of shiny stuff, a Luke Ski album here and there, and some Star Trek memorabilia. Ok, it was stuff I would have liked. But I was saving my money for CDs.


The Dementia Concerts (part 2)

Rob Balder, Sudden Death, Paul and Storm, Possible Oscar, and Hot Waffles (with Tim’s Banjo) performed on Saturday.


Rob Balder gave an outstanding performance. He opened with my mom’s favorite song Always a Goth Chick to Me. ‘Twas Awesome. ‘Twas very, very awesome. During the song Give It Away he threw CDs into the audience. I didn’t get one – but it was still a great set. I also liked the new prop. Rob Balder looks interesting in pink kitty ears. Who knew? The only thing I didn’t like was that he didn’t play Nethack, but the ears nearly made up for it.


Sudden Death was terrific as usual. He did all of my favorites. It was a little disturbing when nateboi took off his t-shirt, but that wasn’t Devo Spice’s fault really. I was hoping other fans (girls) would follow suit – but they tell me I’m too young for that.


Paul and Storm. They were amazing. I had only heard about half of their songs before the concert, so I really enjoyed listening to them. I bought their album because Jonathan Coulton called in the middle of their set and told me to, but I would have anyway. Really.


Possible Oscar had some difficulties getting set up and started. It seemed to bother them a lot more than it bothered me. But then, I’m a fan. Talk Nerdy to Me will always be one of my favorites.


Hot Waffles were the musical Guests of Honor. Tim’s Banjo did a really good job, but Chris’s bass had some technical difficulties. So much so that all future technical difficulties were referred to as “Chris Waffle moments.” Tim and Chris were really great. I wish that all of the dementia artists had an hour or more to perform – but I felt like Hot Waffles really put together a good show and I really enjoyed it.


I met Tak (from Revenge of the Particle) after the concerts. She made my day by telling me that I made her “sucktacular” Friday better. She is undefeated on Dementia Smackdown (the wrestling promotion and not the MarsCon event) – and always will be in my heart!


I didn’t do too much after the concerts. I was hungry and tired and mom wasn’t sure that the 13th floor was a good place for me to hang out. So, we went to the Prime Rib Buffet in the hotel restaurant and then hung out in our suite. Mostly, I played on the computer and tried to find Dementia Smackdown.


Day Three

Another day, another bad hotel breakfast. At least it was free and had bacon.


The most important thing (for me) was the Dementia Fan Showcase. I was disappointed that DJ Particle didn’t get to do more songs. I originally signed up for the fan showcase specifically because I heard that DJ Particle was going to sing. But, give me an audience and a microphone and I will always sing (as DJ Phoenix learned to her detriment) whether I know the song or not. I got to perform covers of Always a Goth Chick to Me and My Cat is Afraid of the Vacuum Cleaner (which I usually do in harmony with my sister) – with Power Salad in the room listening!!! Yay me. I also got to sing with DJ Phoenix and play fanboy for CRoses. This is the stuff dreams are made of! Everyone was great – Alchav, BreakmanZ, Bill and Davroz, and all the others whose names I don’t know. I only wish I had brought the camcorder so everyone could experience the awesomeness. Next year I will (may?) debut a Gifted Gear original.


Dementia Track Concerts (Part 3):

Art Paul Schlosser, Carrie Dahlby, Power Salad, and the great Luke Ski performed before the Dementia Smackdown (which is not quite the same thing as the wrestling promotion of the same name).


Art Paul Schlosser may be my new favorite dementia artist – if only because he let me go up on stage with him and sing I like my Mother. As I said before, give me an audience and a microphone…..


Carrie Dahlby is one of the main reasons I went to MarsCon. (She's so pretty) She performed with her dad – which I thought was really cool.


Power Salad sang to me. I AM the most important person in the world, you know. He really performs a wild show.


What can I say about the great Luke Ski? He’s another reason I went to MarsCon. He’s a great performer, but I am sorry to report that he is not quite as pretty as Carrie Dahlby. Since he has his own cheering squad, I hope it won’t hurt him for me to say that. My favorite Luke Ski song was Holding Out for Hiro.


A review of the Dementia Smackdown performances wouldn’t be complete without a retelling of all the in-jokes and off-the-cuff remarks. Unfortunately, I can’t possibly replay all of the funny moments here (although I wish I could). Basically, all of the artists did covers, tributes, and lampoons of the other artists’ performances. I will never forget Wyngarde’s performance as the magical Pegasus…


The yolk’s on you,

Stephen


PS I arrived a day early (Thursday) and left a day late (Monday) – but nothing exciting happened.