Friday, May 27, 2005

Mrs. LeftyBrown Update

Well we have a date for Mrs. Lefty's surgery...tonight. We go in at 4:30 for her 7:30 surgery at Kaiser. So no more posting from me today, except for one late night one letting you all know how she did. The rush to surgery has us a little frazzled, but thankful that soon she'll be, hopefully, pain-free.

Keep her in your prayers and thoughts. Thanks.

Update: It's 12:21 A.M. on Friday and we are finally home. Mrs. Lefty surgery didn't start until 8 PM, and it took a bit longer than expected. She was slow coming out of recovery as well. The culprit for the pain looks to be several adhesions. Everything else looked good. Contrary to rumors, there will be no pictures of my wife's insides showing up on this blog or hers for that matter. Here's to a fast recovery and living without debilitating pain.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Blog A Go Go

Busy busy day, so not a lot from me today. Maybe if I find myself with some free time this evening I'll throw in a post or two, and some linkblogging as well. For now, let me thought out some quick thoughts.

+ I'm almost done formulating my next Mixed Bag entry, and this time it's so big I need 2 discs to contain it all. I've rightly given up trying to be all things to all people, and chose covers that I wanted to hear. I'll also gone out on a limb and thrown in some "better" Christian musicians on a few tracks.

+ I've been nominated to run for Personnel Committee on our Staff Executive. I'm not expecting to win, put I have to admit it's always a little bit of an ego-stroke considering I never seek it out, and I'm pretty open about my liberal, social-gospel, unionizing feelings. I just don't want to lose out to the secretary from the Administration office, who often is puppet for the administration.

+ My wife WILL undergo surgery next week. We just don't have a date set in stone yet. The ultrasound revealed a good size cyst that will have to be removed. Mrs. Lefty is scared facing surgery yet again. She didn't like it when I suggested that by now she should be an old pro at this. Thankfully we're working on the financial side of this and that looks taken care of, and we are also thankful that surgery comes early enough so she can recover for summer school and a trip to San Diego for the Comic Con (if we remember to purchase our 4 day pass).

+Later on, if I have time I'll link to what folks are saying about Mixed Bag 1 & 2, including a review of my disc! I also promised a linkblog around the comics blogosphere. And I'll shoot for a post or two of actual content.

+In celebration of the release of Ait/PlanetLar's trade of Tom Beland's True Story Swear to God, follow this link to an interview I had with Tom back in October. I'm really glad that these trades are earning Tom some good exposure. I don't have any of the trades, except for 100 Stories. I have all the floppies, so haven't felt the rush, but maybe at San Diego I'll pick 'em up just to get another sketch or two from the "Nicest Guy In Comics".

+ Lastly if someone can locate either a first or second print of O.M.A.C. #1 and Days of Vengeance #1 for cover or just over cover price, drop me a line. I've been racking my brain trying to find a copy to read. I'm also trying to find Young Avengers #4 as well.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Dialing It In

This was my very first comic book I ever received:



Adventures Comics #479 began a long history of me and comics. On my birthday in 1981, I got to fly out with my dad from San Antonio, TX to San Francisco, CA to help him find a house when we'd later move out for his new job. At the airport I picked up Adventures #479, and as many appearances of Dial H for Hero as I could find.



The gimmick with these Dial H for Hero appearances was that readers could mail in their ideas for superheroes that the Chris and Vicki King would transform into. I was hooked on the concept, and the great Carmen Infantino art was a big sell as well.



I had nearly the whole run as a kid, which was remarkable because we lived in the boonies of Texas, without a reliable newsstand and no specialty shops at the time. And my copies were well worn by the constant readings, tracing, and were eventually relocated to a Karnes City, TX landfill somewhere.



I devoured these books, from cover to letters pages. Several years ago they relaunched the Dial H for Hero concept, and I liked the darker relaunch, but sadly missed the fun of this era of the characters. Other than seeing their creations in the pages of Adventures Comics, I wondered if the people who had their superheroes chosen got anything else. I remember once recently doing a google search to see if anyone who had their superheroes chosen wrote about the experience on the internet. The only person I know of is Harlan Ellison. Yes, that Harlan Ellison.



I often wonder why, in this age of email and messageboards, we haven't seen a return of reader-submitted superheroes. I don't think a return of Chris & Vicky King's Dial H for Hero would do gangbusters, but I think kids (and geeky adults, like me) would get a kick trying to design their very own hero. Heck, the MMORP City of Heroes is said to be pretty popular, and they have a comic book by Image. That would be a very good place to do such a thing, and maybe even get me to pick up.



The above is my favorite cover of the Dial H for Hero run. It's very "New Teen Titans", and I think the design was company wide that month. Marv Wolfman who was writing New Teen Titans was also writing these Dial H for Hero stories.



C'mon tell me who wouldn't want to plop down 50 cents to see the battle depicted on the cover above?



The above cover I remember being very scared of because of my youth and my religion. Of course back then I was even scared of the band Kiss.



A few years ago I tried to find copies of this run locally, but everytime I asked for Dial H for Hero stories I was directed to the House of Mystery, which I hear is good, but I wanted to relive my old haunts so to speak.



I keep hoping I'll be able to pick up these issues for cheap, so maybe it'll be this years big hunt at the San Diego Comic Convention. I doubt I'll find any of them in any of the dollar dumps, so I might have to pay a few more coin to get 'em.



It's been so long since I've read these I can hardly remember any of the storylines, except that there was a plot thread in which Chris & Vicky were trying to keep their identities secret,including that all the different superheroes were the same two people.



Adventures Comics #490 was the last of my collection of Chris & Vicky King Dial H for Hero stories. The next issue of Adventure Comics was a Superman story, and I think a reprint at that. It was a short and fun experiment, and more than 20 years later I still have a special place in my heart for this run.

BTW, I should mention all the images came from the fabolus website ComicCovers.com

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Monday, May 23, 2005

Mixed Bag 2 :Eclectic Boogaloo -Final Update!

Okay, I'm closing down entries. We have a total of 26 folks involved with Mixed Bag 2. It looks to be a good one, I think a lot of the folks in round two are trying to one-up each other, coming up with "the perfect mix cd", trying to be the actual mix cd-ness instead of just the shadow of the mix cd as shown on the wall of Plato's cave. Good luck, but unless it contains Madness' "Tenderness" it just ain't gonna happen.

Here's the list of folks in round 2:
AiT/PlanetLar ---> Larry Young
Blog This, Pal!---> Gordon Dymowski
Brill Building ---> Ian Brill
Delenda Est Carthago---> Greg Burgas
Entertainment for Geeks---> Andrea Faetanini
Hembeck.com---> Fred Hembeck
House of the Ded---> Logan Polk
In One Ear---> Thom Gladhill
The Johnny Bacardi Show---> Johnny Bacardi
Ken Lowery Presents: Ringwood---> Ken Lowery
LeftyBrown's Corner---> Chris "Lefty" Brown
The Life of a Wife and Teacher---> Kelly Brown
MercuryX23's Fantablous Blog---> MercuryX23
Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin---> Mike Sterling
musEletric---> Brendan Duffy
Near Mint Heroes---> Shane Bailey
Polite Dissent---> Scott Morrison
Postmodern Barney---> Dorian Wright
Ramblin' With Roger ---> Roger Green
Renaissance Geek---> Eddie Mitchell
Roxy's World---> Roxy
Simply Comics---> Dave G.
Stacking the Deck---> David Chapman
Tom the Dog's You Know What I Like?---> Tom Collins
Tony Remembers---> Tony Holt
Nat Pike's Wired For Sound ---> Nat Pike

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Friday, May 20, 2005

Best Laid Plans....

No more updates from me today, just got word that my wife is coming to pick me up and from there we are headed to our local Kaiser Emergency Room. My wife is under intense pain, and it's finally come to this. I have my doubts that by the time we're done we'll have any results, but hopefully this will speed along the process of getting my wife into surgery or something.

I'll let you know what happens, and I'm mentally preparing myself for not only the mind-numbing long wait, but the uncertainty of lies ahead.

Update: Well we've been back from the ER since 8:30 and my wife was on morphine for a little bit there. Basically we are in a holding pattern until the OB/GYN can see her on Monday. Looks like she'll have to take some time off and look into disability until a surgery and recovery. And she's still in pain, but not as bad as it was earlier, thank God for that.

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A Short Word of Advice...

If you're thinking of trying the game delivery company, Gamefly, I have a couple of words of advice. Keep away from it as if it is the plague, or a Brian Bendis superhero team book. I signed up for a month free trial, and so far I've been able to rent 3 games. The real trouble is the slow as molasses returns. My first game I sent back I had to report as missing, because for a week and a half they didn't receive it. My second game I mail back on May 9th, and just this morning of the 20th they finally recorded as having received it. I was going to spend some more time playing the lastest game I just got, Star Wars epi. 3: Revenge of the Sith, but I'm mailing it back ASAP so they can get it in when I cancel my service before the end of the month. The kicker is their warehouse is just a few hours south of my in Inglewood, CA. What a rip-off. I'm looking to a few other companies that have a similar service and see if they are any better.

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Lefty's Friday Three Questions

Sorry about not posting yesterday I was busy letting my Star Wars geek flag fly. I'll try to make up for it today, but until I have some free time, here is this week's Star Wars themed 3 questions:

1.) Do you consider yourself a Star Wars fan? What credentials do you offer in your defense?

2.) How would you rank the movies in terms of best to worst?

3.) There's a rumored live action TV show coming in a few years. It'll take place between episodes III and IV. If you had your say, what would your Star Wars TV show(s) look like?

Bonus question: So what did you think of Revenge of the Sith?

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Lefty's Weekly Top Ten

This is what's been evaporating my free time this past week:

1.) 24 (Fox) In spite of the major boo-boo of this season (i.e. how can it be 4:00 AM on the West Coast and East Coast simultaneously), it's still been a very exciting season. Next week is the 2 hour season finale, which I'm predicting will be a cliffhanger. And I'm bucking the trend and saying the Tony will avoid death...buuuut maybe not dismemberment.

2.) Family Guy (Fox) Hilarious! I ask for more secondary characters, and I get them in spades, even the chicken returned. I loved last week's episode from start to finish. Kudos for the Star Wars and Indiana Jones references.

3.) "God's Politics" by Jim Wallis A very good book. It's inspiring, thought-provoking, and helps set the tone for the role of the Christians in not only politics but progress.

4.) Weezer "Make Believe" This an infectious record. Have Weezer ever made a horrible record? I only have this and the 'Blue' album so I can't be the judge of that. I know I would love this cd when I'm able to tell what's the next song and what the title is.

5.) The Duhks This self-title cd is wonderful. I heard a song of theirs by accident while cruising through XM SatRad, and was compelled to pick this up. It's traditional, bluegrass, and Cajun music wrapped up in beautiful harmonies. The last track will be finding it's way onto my next mix cd.

6.) The Magnetic Fields "i" Once again I fall victim to Dorian Wright's excellent Mix CD. As I was wasting time at Borders recently I noticed they actually had one copy of this CD, so I took a gamble and picked it up based on the track I heard on Dorian's mix. The CD is quite good, but I love how the lead singer can turn a phrase. I'm hooked.

7.) The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem Having finished "God's Politics" I began diving into this book, trying to familiarize myself with his work before his version of Omega the Unknown comes out next year from Marvel. I've barely started it, so we'll see how it goes.

8.) Alias (ABC) Well this season is ending strong. Personally I dig the Rimbaldi stuff, and looking forward to return of Sydney's mother. Must remember to change my HDR to tape both hours of tonight's 2 hr episode.

9.) Star Wars On the Brain Yeah I've caught the fever. I've begun watching the whole double trilogy, and waiting for my game from Gamefly to arrive (don't get me started on Gamefly, I'll say more about them in another post), and on Thursday I', seeing episode III.

10.) Rainbow 6 Black Arrow (Xbox) Still playing it, still having fun. 'Nuff said.

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Mixed Bag 2 :Eclectic Boogaloo -Update!

We are starting to see some new blood for the next round of Mixed Bag, currently there are 7 spots open, so if you're on the fence about joining you're runnng out of time. For an earlier post about the rules and how one can join Mixed Bag 2, go here.

Here's who's taking part in round 2:

AiT/PlanetLar ---> Larry Young
Brill Building ---> Ian Brill
Delenda Est Carthago---> Greg Burgas
Hembeck.com---> Fred Hembeck
House of the Ded---> Logan Polk
In One Ear---> Thom Gladhill
The Johnny Bacardi Show---> Johnny Bacardi
Ken Lowery Presents: Ringwood---> Ken Lowery
LeftyBrown's Corner---> Chris "Lefty" Brown
The Life of a Wife and Teacher---> Kelly Brown
MercuryX23's Fantablous Blog---> MercuryX23
Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin---> Mike Sterling
Polite Dissent---> Scott Morrison
Postmodern Barney---> Dorian Wright
Ramblin' With Roger ---> Roger Green
Roxy's World---> Roxy
Tom the Dog's You Know What I Like?---> Tom Collins
Tony Remembers---> Tony Holt
Nat Pike's Wired For Sound ---> Nat Pike

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Lefty's Quick Takes

These are just a few of the small things I've been thinking about that shouldn't warrant a whole post:

* With some theaters issuing seat numbers now when you go to the movies, and with the movie theaters doing pretty badly as of late, I wonder if it would help them if they selling subscription series that would allow the members to rent seats in the theatre for special viewings of films the day or two before the open for wide release. Or maybe they could go the Costco route and offer yearly membership cards that allows them to see one or two movies a month with popcorn and a drink per membership. That and of course Hollywood could put out movies people would want to see.

* When I get to 250 lbs, I decided I'm going to throw myself out a plane...hopefully my wife will spring for a parachute.

* I think for the first time in my life, I'm more excited by Indy comic projects more than anything from the Big Two. Don't get me wrong, I'm hooked on the whole Identity Crisis stuff, but many I can't wait to read Brian Wood's DMZ or AiT/PlanetLar's upcoming flipbook Black Diamond/Smoke & Guns, the next issue of True Story Swear to God, or the near-ending of Battle Royale.

* I am such a geek. Tonight I'll be watching The Phantom Menace. On Wednesday I'll be viewing Attack of the Clones. And I already have my ticket for Revenge of the Sith on Thursday afternoon. Of course over the weekend I'll be watching episode 4-6, but will I drag out my VHS letterbox pre-special edition tapes, or just reside myself with the Special Edition DVDs. (I think I just heard my wife roll her eyes to the back of her head somewhere)

* I think someone should start an inter-comic blog loan of floppies, where people could borrow small runs of books from other people. 'Cause I'd really like to read what's been going on in Aquaman and District X.

* I may actually get to 20,000 hits by the end of the week. I get a small bit of satisfaction seeing my numbers grow. I'd never would've imagined more than 10 people would visit my site each day.

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Mixed Bag Linkblogging

Here's what other participants in the Mixed Bag experiment are saying, as of late:

Greg at Delenda Est Carthago reviews Fred Hembeck's disc.

Logan at House of the Ded reviews (postmodernbarney.com)'s disc that I've been picking up new music off of as of late.

Dorian at (postmodernbarney.com) reviews Roxy's and Thom's discs. And he also gives some commentary own his own contribution.

Tom at Tom the Dog's You Know What I Like reviews Mike Sterling's and (postmodernbarney.com)'s disc.

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Countdown to Infinite Leftybrown Blogs

This will be a summer of transition for LeftyBrown's corner, and I may need some help making some decisions. I currently own Leftybrown.com, and I want to do something with it. I'm very much stuck in a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) world of minor html tweaks, and blog posts. So I don't understand all the steps I need to take to get Leftybrown.com into the website I want it to be. I've been in off and on talks with a fellow blogger and netfriend in the comic blogosphere that may help me out, but he's a busy busy fellow so I'm not sure when making my dreams into reality may come about, but hopefully by the end of the summer I have the following things accomplished:

1. Settle on a company to host my site. Right now I'm leaning towards GoDaddy.com, because that's where I got my domain registration, and they sorts make a big deal about being the lowest price on the net. What I want out of a domain host is the ability to post pictures, maybe a little bit of online storage space, my own email address (i.e. lefty@leftybrown.com) to hand out to myself and family and friends, ease-of-use, ability to grant permissions to a select few to post or maintain the site, being able to use a blogging program on the domain, and lastly handle multiple pages (no more than 6-10 pages).

2. Website Design The netfriend I have in mind does some great work, and I trust (if he does help me out) that he'll come up with something cool. What I'd want is a cool logo, something that brands the site. Sites like Near Mint Comics, (postmodernbarney.com), Ken Lowery presents: Ringwood, Hembeck.com, and Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin spring to mind. I've sort of come to love my tagline: Left Handed. Left Coast. Liberally Lefty. So I may keep that, plus it answers why I have the moniker Leftybrown. I want a site design that is easy to read, that keeps the same background from page to page, and is not too droll or too edgy.

3. Website Contents I know for sure that one the website gets a rollin' I want to have the blog as the front page with an Table of Contents to the rest of the site. I know I want a page devoted to pictures, sub-divided with a section for personal/family, comics-related, scenic, and events/concerts, I want a page for my Xbox stuff (I also have an Xbox Live clan called Left Turn Only (LTO), which is incidentally now accepting recruits). I want a page all for my wife to use and abuse (it'll probably be where she places her blog as well). There may be room for a page for comic stuff, and music, and maybe a links page.

4. Who gets access? Obviously me, and my wife. But should I have the website designer get access to it too? What if I have a guest moderator? Group blog? A message from the prophet? Can they have limited access? These are questions to be looked into.

5. Blog content I've hemmed and hewed over the purpose of my blog. Blogs can be journalism, adverts, commentaries, diaries, or reports. Many of the better blogs are singular in their focus, i.e. if they say they cover comics then that's all that they cover. I know my topics run a whole gamut of stuff, and in some ways I do like that, but is it distracting? Ultimately my blog will be whatever makes me happy, and I the thought of running several blogs devoted to multiple subjects doesn't appeal to me. I'd also like to tag my posts in such a way that I can designate a post to be filed away according to subject (i.e. a comics post would be filed away in a comics folder and a religious post could be filed under religion).

6. Getting an old dog to learn new tricks I'm realizing real quick that I new to learn how to use the tools I communicate with. There are things I want to do that I just want do. I want to find some (hopefully free) blogging software so I don't have to depend on blogger. Something I can email a post if I need to update it away from LeftyBrown Central. I need to learn to manipulate text and images, and I've always wanted to do one of those things where people take a comic book and type in their own script over it. How easy is that stuff to learn, can even a WYSIWYG-trapped person like myself pick up new tricks? The other question is where can I acquire such knowledge?


So any way that is what is coming down the pike. If you have a desire to offer help or advice drop me a line, or feel free to post a comment.

For now I do have some immediate changes coming up here on the blog. In a couple of days I'm heading back to the gym, and re-launching my healthy living drive. I intend to be pretty honest, even going so far as to reveal my weight and changes and what-not. This opens me up to trolls who'll post about my size. They've been there in the past, and often they use that to bash my politics, religion, and my wife. I suspect I'll be doing a lot of weeding on Haloscan. Anyway I'll be posting on that struggle periodically. I think it'll help me stick to the gameplan. Also on the blog I will also have a twice weekly linkblog that will alternate each week between my fellow Liberal Coalition bloggers and more general bloglinks. I think Mondays I'll post the L.C. bloggers links, and Thursdays I'll have the general blog links. Lastly I'll try to post more of my politics/news as well. My blog has increasingly become a comics and media blog, and I want to sharpen my other interests.

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Lefty's Mixed Bag Reviews (Part Four)

Ken Lowery's Ringwood Ragemix

This mix starts off promising, and loses it's steam in the middle and doesn't quite get it back. The first 5 songs are the highlight of the mix for me. I've played this disc several times just for those first five songs, and then I've found myself fast forwarding to the second to last track. I'm not too familiar with modern hard rock, but I was really impressed with the ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, and the Queens of the Stone Age, Garbage, Monster Magnet, and Desert Sessions. After track 5 the mix takes a different turn and loses some of it's momentum. As a mix CDR it does a good job of flowing one song into another. The biggest crime on the mix is the inclusion of the Bill Hicks bit. Now don't get me wrong, I love the late Bill Hicks, but it grinds the mix into a dead stop. The songs that follow just didn't rock my boat, save one, that really terrific Burden Brothers' song "You're So God Damn Beautiful Song. Man that was a great song! Overall I liked about 40% of this disc, but what I liked I really, REALLY liked. I think at the end of the month, I may have to pick up some ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Queens of the Stone Age, and especially Burden Brothers discs.


Scott's [of Polite Dissent] Songs for the Cynical & Sinful

This mix is most unlike the rest of the mix discs I've heard, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I have to say off all the discs I've played at work, this is the one that my co-workers responded to the most. The mix is heavy on country-ish songs, leading off with a very nice Pat Green song "Wave on Wave" and then leads into Steely Dan. Interesting choice mixing country and jazzy pop rock. I like a lot of Scott's choices on this disc. It does sometimes get a little too modern country for my taste, but it was few and far between. It was a treat to hear some artists I was unfamiliar with like Pat Green, Kasey Chambers, Carbon Leaf, Bruce Robinson, and (to my great shame) Manfred Mann. One complaint I have is that some of the songs differed in their sound levels so a few times I had to turn the sound up for a song and then turn it down for the next. I had the same trouble on my own mix for the ABBA song. I really dug "The Captain" by Kasey Chambers, I wouldn't mind hearing more from her. I didn't care for Darling Violetta, Alison Krauss, Montgomery Gentry (way too modern country for me), and Jack Ingram. It was nice seeing some artists that I dug like Tori Amos, Flaming Lips, Warren Zevon, and especially David Bowie. The final song, "Flight Test" by the Flaming Lips, was a bit jarring after Jack Ingram's song, "Barbie Doll", but I understand it's intention to announce the end of the musical "test" of the previous 15 tracks. I do love the Flaming Lips, and that last track is from my favorite album by the boys. Over all I like about 75% of what I heard, and I have listened to the mix several times over. It's a nice relaxing collection of tunes.


Coming up next, later today, is Roxy's World and Thom's In One Ear Mix vol. 1: Baby Flies A Comet.

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Lefty's Mixed Bag Reviews (Part Three)

By now I've received everyone's contribution to the Mixed Bag, save one. Here's the next batch of reviews:


Fred Hembeck's Hembeck Mix One

I've listened to this mix quite a bit in the last week or so. The music is not as diverse as other mixes I've heard, but I really have grooved to this. I like about 95% of what I heard. Hembeck starts strong with a pair of songs (The Raspberries' "Go All the Way" and Stampeders' "Sweet City Woman") I always liked but don't have in my musical library. He also includes a great track by the Beach Boys. You really get the sense that Hembeck is strongly attracted to harmonies, including harmonic groups like the Beach Boys, Beatles, Erasure, Abba, Stampeders, and more. Not a lot of rare finds on the disc, but the mix does flow well. My only tracks I didn't particularly care for were the over-used 'My Sharona" by The Knack, Sonique's "It Fells So Good", Bing Crosby's "I'm An Old Cowhand From the Rio Grande", The Reflections' "(Just LIke) Romeo and Juliet". I really liked some of the "movements" on the disc, particularly Bow Wow Wow going into Benny Goodman was genius. A very good mix.

Fred Hembeck's Hembeck Mix Two

As a way of saying thanks for getting the Mixed Bag going, Hembeck included another mix. Like all the others mixes I'll post the track listing to this mix when I have received all of the participants, but I do want to comment on this mix. Hembeck leads off the disc with Mott the Hoople, a band I've heard from, but don't know a great deal about. It's a good track, but sounds a little too much like a TV theme song. I think Hembeck takes bigger risks on this mix than the first one, but for the most part it pays off. Hembeck plays a little game with the narrative grouping a few songs telling a story of broken hearts leading to murder from different perspectives. The songs (and in this order) were: The Shields "You Cheated", Elvis Costello "Watching the Detectives", Richard & Linda Thompson "Did She Jump Or Was She Pushed", 10cc "Johnny Don't Do It", Bing Crosby "Pistol Packing Mama", and Neil Young "Down By The River". Real interesting stuff, I dug it big time. I really liked most of what I heard on the disc, in fact I prefer this disc to the Mix One I received. I was exposed to some really good music I wasn't aware of, particularly Dave Mason, Richard & Linda Thompson, Sam Phillips (by far the shortest track on the disc, I MUST hear more), and the Shins.



Later on today I'll continue with the Mixed Bag reviews, next on deck the Ringwood Ragemix, and Scott's Songs for the Cynical & Sinful.

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Monday, May 16, 2005

Mixed Bag 2 :Eclectic Boogaloo

Due to overwhelming demand, I am pleased to announce another round of Mixed Bag. The original rules pretty much still apply, which are:


1. No more than 26 bloggers will be involved in this experiment. The chance to jump in this ends on Monday the 23rd when we close up applicants and run with who we've got.

2. Each blogger will put together a "mixtape" CDR of different music. They will make a copy of their CDR for the other participants of the Blogger Mixed Bag.

3. If a blogger wants to participate they'll need to contact me at my email address listed at the top of the sidebar on the right-hand side. Please include your mailing address, and the web address of your blog.

4. By Tuesday, May 24th I will have a full listing of all participating bloggers.

5. On Friday, May 27th, I will privately email the other participants the mailing address of all the bloggers involved. At this time the bloggers should start making copies for the others.

6. Once copies are made please mail one copy to each of the bloggers, all copies should be in the mail by the second week of June.

7. It would also be nice if the other bloggers participating would post on what they liked/disliked/who's CDR rocked/etc.


Everyone who participated in the first Mixed Bag liked it so much, they all want to be a part of the next round, so that leaves only 10 spots for any blogger that wants to take part in round two. So if you are hell-bent in being a part of this musical conversation get your email in quickly. Here's the list of bloggers involved in round two:

AiT/PlanetLar ---> Larry Young
Delenda Est Carthago---> Greg Burgas
Hembeck.com---> Fred Hembeck
House of the Ded---> Logan Polk
In One Ear---> Thom Gladhill
The Johnny Bacardi Show---> Johnny Bacardi
Ken Lowery Presents: Ringwood---> Ken Lowery
LeftyBrown's Corner---> Chris "Lefty" Brown
The Life of a Wife and Teacher---> Kelly Brown
MercuryX23's Fantablous Blog---> MercuryX23
Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin---> Mike Sterling
Polite Dissent---> Scott Morrison
Postmodern Barney---> Dorian Wright
Roxy's World---> Roxy
Tom the Dog's You Know What I Like?---> Tom Collins

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Lefty Lava U 2 Scoops

The above title comes from an inside joke in my family. A long time ago back when my mother was alive and in good health, she found a bar of Lava soap and two plastic scoops my father had brought home from the lab where he worked. One of my fondest memories was of my mother's quick wits and sense of humor. Upon seeing the articles laying on the kitchen counter, she remarked that my father was telling her that he loved her because "He Lava me two scoops." Since then it's become an endearing thing I say to my wife.

Let me bring the house down for a moment, and say a few things about my wife. In recent months my wife and I have hid a rough patch in our marriage. There's a lot of misinterpretations, missed cues, and disappointments. I'm encouraged by my fellow co-workers (and de facto family) who have had gone through said moments, reminding me that a marriage will always be a work in progress. I won't gloss things over and say that they are bumps in the road, but I do really feel that though this present time presents its challenges and difficulties, I think we'll both be better spouses and better people for it.

The other thing about my wife, and my primary reason for posting, is my wife is under a lot of pain. Mrs. LeftyBrown has had a long history of problems with her reproductive system, which have led to several surgeries, setting aside having children for a short time, and self-image problems. After being relatively pain free since her last surgery last year, a month or two ago her pain returned, and now the pain has intensified. She's at home away from her 6th grade kids, pretty much in bed doubled over in pain. She has an ultrasound scheduled next week and then a consult in the first week of June to possibly schedule a surgery. She's been on birth control to see if that will shrink ovarian cysts, but so far they've done little. We're hoping to get the medical schedule fast-tracked, but we'll see.

As Christians we do believe that there is real hope and power in the prayer of believers, so if you do believe we'd welcome your prayers. If you aren't particularly religious, I know I "Get well soon' email (if you know her) or post on her site (here's a post on her condition, and an excellent place to post well-wishes) would provide some cheer for her.

Mrs. Leftybrown, I Lava U 2 Scoops.

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Please Stay On The Line....

I have a few things in the hopper to post about today, as soon as I can find some time later this afternoon and early evening. Later on today I'll be posting on:

* By popular demand, another round of Mixed Bag. Everyone involved in the first are already on board, and this time YOU can have a chance to join in...well about ten more of you.

* Mixed Bag reviews of Fred Hembeck's, Scott's, and if I have time Thom's Cdrs.

* A short word about my real world personal life and wife, healing prayers and good wishes accepted.

* Some comic book, poltical, writing, and blogging short takes, also relating to the future of this blog.


Bear with me I have journals I need to pull for binding. It's summertime in the 'ole library.

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Friday, May 13, 2005

I Knew It Was Bound To Happen...

I ordered a CD through Amazon because I dug it on one of the Mixed Bag samplers. I purchased the cast recording of Avenue Q for under $10. Thanks Dorian. At least that was an easy purchase, deciding what Crazy 8s or 7 Seconds CD to purchase will take some research, and don't get me started on tracking down a copy of Celtic Elvis.

Next week I'll announce signups for next months Mixed Bag 2: Eclectic Boogaloo.

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Lefty's Friday Three Questions

And so this is Friday, another week gone, I hope 'twas a good one with plenty of song...

um apologies to Lennon for that. Anyway, for those with the home edition of Lefty's Friday Three Questions; every Friday I ask 3 questions. My answers to said questions are in the comments section, which would be a swell place to type your own answers in as well. Here we go:

1.) Will you be taking off from work, ditching class, or avoiding other commitments to catch a showing of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith on Wednesday or Thursday? (It's okay we won't think any less of you if you do, unless you go dressed up as Jar Jar Binks)

2.) Is the media, the fourth estate, culpable in underreporting the war in Iraq and this war on terror? If so, should something be done, and what?

3.) What comic book, TV series, or book you wish you could have caught from the start, but now feel like it's passed you by?

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Connecting the dots

I have been reading the latest book by Jim Wallis, "God's Politics". I'm about 2/3rds of the way through it, and I've come to the heart of the matter. The first part of the book deals with the recent election and how people of faith need to be able to create a new social movement. It deals a lot with creating a quasi-Democratic party, without expressly saying it should be the DNC. That's another topic for another time, but for now the most important section of the book deals with terrorism, justice, and poverty.

This section of the book is what makes this book a must read for everyone regardless of faith or political background. Wallis' gets to the heart of the matter and illustrated that the best way to fight terrorism is to be peacemakers, not just in our backyards, but in the world. He says that everyone considers themselves peace lovers, not many consider themselves peacemakers. Peacemaking is hard work, but it a calling that can move mountains. He is right when he says that we peacemakers need to be able to offer solutions to problems in addition to fighting to stop war.

Further more Wallis tackles the problem with poverty. This is the part that hit me the most. He asks when was the last time our churches gave a sermon on helping the poor. The subject of poverty is "the second most prominent theme in the Hebrew Scriptures Old Testament". "One of every sixteen verses in the New Testament is about the poor or the subject of money." Wallis hints that helping the poor is THE central work of people of faith. He remarks that when Christ separates the sheep from the goats, the Lord looks at what his followers did for the poor. The verse in Matthew goes even further to say that when we are helping the poor, we are helping Christ himself. But look at how little the American church does for the poor. It is the church of Christ that should be at the forefront of the battle for living wages, so that families that have full-time jobs shouldn't have to live in poverty. It is churches that should be on the frontlines making sure corporations like Wal-Mart or Burger King make sure their employees can have REAL health-care and living wages.

The church needs to wake up from it's slumber and it's idolatry of patriotism and greed. It's time that our churches care more for the 'least of these', and less for more butts in the pews. We people of faith need to be pressuring and persuading our leaders to pursue ways to help the poor. There are benefits to our society when we do so, more than a general sense of helping people in need. Helping the poor is not a liberal issue, it's a Christian issue, it's a religious issue, a moral issue. I believe when the church becomes more focused on fighting poverty, our society and culture will benefit. We can never forget that we are not just helping the poor, but serving Jesus.

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If I Was....A Meme

I've been drafted into this lil Meme black hole, but I'm taking you down with me! Woody at The Sock Drawer tagged me to do this meme. You choose five of the categories below and finish the thought. Here's Woody's five.

If I could be a scientist
If I could be a farmer
If I could be a musician
If I could be a doctor
If I could be a painter
If I could be a gardener

If I could be a missionary I would make sure that I was always on top of things.

If I could be a chef
If I could be an architect
If I could be a linguist

If I could be a psychologist I would make sure to stare discerningly at everyone, as if I can read their minds.

If I could be a librarian
If I could be an athlete
If I could be a lawyer
If I could be an innkeeper
If I could be a professor
If I could be a writer
If I could be a llama-rider
If I could be a bonnie pirate
If I could be a service member
If I could be a photographer
If I could be a philanthropist
If I could be a rap artist
If I could be a child actor
If I could be a secret agent
If I could be a comedian/comedienne
If I could be a priest
If I could be a radio announcer

If I could be a phlebotomist I would have my eye teeth sharpened and extended just to freak out the patients.

If I could be a pet store owner
If I could be a computer programmer
If I could be a police officer
If I could be a politician
If I could be a mom

If I could be an underwater basket weaver I would make my father proud following in my family's legacy of underwater basket weavers since Great Grandfather Limey McBrown brought the Loch Ness technique over to America.

If I could be a reality tv host
If I could be a forensic pathologist
If I could be a TV show writer

If I could be a dictator of a small country the national language would be random 70s & 80s TV quipes. I pity the fool!

If I could be a ice cream store owner
If I could be a teacher
If I could be a diva
If I could be a bus driver
If I could be a fashion designer

I'm supposed to choose three people to tag so I choose my wife, Shane, and Tom the Dog.

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Lefty's Mixed Bag Reviews (Part Two)

Time for another batch of Mixed Bag CDRs I've currently wrapped my ears around. Before I dive in let me just say this has been a really fun experience. I've been really digging all of these Mixed Bag at work, in the car, and at home. Plans are underway for another round in the next few weeks, watch for announcement soon. Oh, I'm still waiting on two more Mixed Bags to arrive at my door, so once they are in hand, I will post everyone's track listings, although most have already posted their tracks at their respective sites.


Johnny Bacardi's Papa's Got A Brand New Mix Bag or Captain Eclectic Strikes Back


Once again Johnny Bacardi comes through, and true to his word it IS eclectic. The disc is a good mix of stuff, some of the artists I may have heard of, but haven't listened to these specific tracks of. J.B. goes out on a limb and pulls out a very good Monkees track (St. Matthew) written by my favorite Monkee, Mike Nesmith (the George Harrison of the bunch). I really dug this mix. It moves along nicely track to track. I love the how the Beatles cover by Steve Hillage then goes into an actual Beatles song. There are nice connections between songs of the mix which are fun reflect on. For instance, there's a Dylan track (Catfish) and then a few tracks later there's a Dylan cover by Nilsson. Also the Monkees track I described earlier, St. Matthew, is followed by a track called Angels. Or take the next couple of songs after that: "There For Her" then goes into "Let Me Have It All". Get It? I did. This is how a mix CD should be, very listenable and makes the listener appreciate the maker's genius. I pretty much liked every track on this disc except for Goldfrapp's "Utopia". 19 out of 20 songs I did like, that's one helluva good mix, especially when one of the songs is by Yoko Ono!

Greg Burgas' As Uncool As You Thought It Would Be!

You can't go wrong opening up a mix CD with a cut by Prince....however this song made it not-work-safe for me, so I could only enjoy this track in my car and at home. I really got the feeling that Greg took exactly what he was listening to currently at the time. The mix is framed with three tracks by the band Marillion near the beginning, middle, and at the end. Greg chose some of my favorite Indigo Girls tracks as well. I also enjoyed hearing some Steve Earle, who I DO need to add to my own music collection soon. I loved, LOVED the track Earle does with my favorite Lucinda Williams. I liked a lot of what Greg puts on the mix. I think I liked about 85% of it, and I've listened to it several times now.

Tom the Dog's You'll Play It and You'll Like It, vol. 1

I was really looking forward to hearing this mix (and also Johnny Bacardi's), and Tom does a really good job. You can be my wingman...er, mix disc creator, anytime. Tom's Mix has 24 tracks on it and somehow manages to zero in on my absolute favorite AC/DC song. It's a great ride, and for the most part songs flow well into one another. Out of the 24 tracks, only 2 of them I didn't care all that much for, one because I've heard waaaaaaaay too much (Gary Numan's Cars) and the other because I just didn't like it (Lit's Miserable). However I really dug tracks by the Presidents of the United States of America (a great cover and a great way to start a disc), the Donnas (need to get some Donnas in my collection), Kim Wilde, and The Lemonheads. I also felt affirmed for really digging the bands he chose to include that I also owned in my collection. Artists like They Might Be Giants, Bruce Springsteen, Marvin Gaye, Bend Folds Five, Green Day, Joe Jackson, AC/DC, The Who, Barenaked Ladies, and others. A very fun mix!

I got a few more to review, including Fred Hembeck's, a guy named Ringwood, a musical prescription from Dr. Scott. I'll try to get to them later today.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Lefty's Mixed Bag Track Listing (Director's Commentary)

Having so liked Fred Hembeck's commentary when he posted his track listing for his mix, I wanted to do the same. I called my Mixed Bag, simply "His". My wife's mix was labeled "Hers" so I brought balance to the force young padawan. All the tracks save two of them were from music I've listened to within the past three weeks, so they are currently what I've been listening to.

1. "Cupido" -Los Super Seven

I don't have the soundtrack to Kill Bill, but I did want to give the Mix a certain Quentin-esque flair, so I used two Spanish tracks from Los Super Seven's "I Heard It On The X". I think it works more effectively here than the ending song and serves as a good announcement that the rest of the disc will "rock the Kasbah."

2. "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" -Joe Jackson

This is from my most played 80's era CD. I was never that much into Joe Jackson the first time around, but after hearing him several times on my XM Radio I picked up a greatest hits collection and just fell in love with it. It's like a brain meld between Elvis Costello and Ben Folds. I prefer the early hits, with this one probably being my favorite Joe Jackson song.

3. "Pressure Drop" -Toots & the Maytals

Forget that Ray Charles grammy-winning disc, this is from the best duets album ever made. EVER. PERIOD. On "True Love", Toots & the Maytals features a host of great team-ups. This one here features Eric Clapton covering The Jam, I believe. I really can't impress upon you how great this CD is. I'm one to usually shy away from these types of artist team-ups, but this is a very worthy exception. While not my favorite cut on the disc, I chose this song because of the tempo felt right sandwiched between Jackson and Green Day.

4. "Letterbomb" -Green Day

It's hard taking songs out of a concept album and dropping them into a mix. Sometimes they feel so out of context, and sometimes the song breaks are hard to manage. The latter is why none of the excellent Brian Wilson disc, "Smile" doesn't appear on this mix. However, I thought this song was able to "get in and get out" effectively and also proving that Green Day is still a force to be reckoned with. And there's a F-bomb or two in there, and I'm still able to sneak it in to work at my Christian university.

5. "Bad 'N' Ruin" -Faces

Here again is an example of me coming to the party late. It wasn't until 2005 that I found out about Faces and their brilliance. I picked this song because it evokes other bands that I dearly love, the Black Crowes and the Rolling Stones. I love the bass in this song, and for as much shit I give Rod Stewart's career, he does have a pretty cool voice.

6. "Stray Paper" -Tift Merritt

Example A of an artist in need of wider recognition. One part Sheryl Crow, one part Bonnie Raitt, and one part Emmylou Harris; I first saw Tift for free at a bluegrass festival in San Francisco. This cut comes from her sophomore album which is better than her first album. I love the laid back alt-country/summer rock sound she evokes on the track.

7. "Samba Pa Ti" -Santana

You'll never see me buy any of the new Santana stuff with the guest stars galore, but his early stuff are priceless. This instrumental is probably my favorite cut off of Abraxas. It always helps me find my center, and the guitar work here always forces me to listen to it in wonder and delight. It's hypnotic and seductive and fragile like an ernest prayer.

8. "Little Toy Brain" -Gov't Mule

This cut is from their latest album, Deja Voodoo. The album is a bold new start for the Mule after the death of bassist Allen Woody, and then expanding from a power trio in the tradition of Cream and Mountain; adding a new bassist and a keyboardist. It's different from the older stuff, so I was initially turned off by the album until recently when I read an interview with the band in the Allman Brother's fan magazine, Hittin' The Note. Hearing the band's thoughts on the different tracks on the CD, I picked up the album and again and it warmed up to me. I love the funeral dirge feel of this cut with the whirling organ, and the pounding drums. I also dig Warren Haynes' voice on this track.

9. "Gonna Move" -Paul Pena

Paul Pena should be a name on the lips of several guitarists. This blind guitarist recorded this album decades ago, but because of several legal entaglements didn't get released until a few years back. I first heard of this song from a cover The Derek Trucks Band would do. I love Pena's guitar work here, and how he delivers the lyrics is exceptional. I chose this song to serve as a transition between the slow down of tracks 7 & 8 into some of the more rocking numbers to follow.

10. "I Fell In Love" -Susan Tedeschi

I wanted to have at least one cut off of Susan Tedeschi's new live CD and thought this rollicking number could fit nicely as I begin to lift out of the somber tracks (before I dive back in a few tracks down the line). I love the boogie-woogie Texas blues feeling of the track, and Susan's voice is quite strong on this track. If you've ever met her in real life you'd be amazed that such a powerful voice can co-exist in her body, because her speaking voice is very soft and quiet.

11. "The Trooper" -Iron Maiden

I was nervous about using a track from Iron Maiden, but I was compelled by the idea of pairing a heavy metal and kitschy disc dance track together. I think it works for the most part, but wish the track the follows was a little louder recording-wise. I've been discovering that these past three years I've been dipping my toes into the pools of music I was either scared of [In best Church Lady voice: "hmmmmm, was it because they worship Saaatan!"] or had very little knowledge of. I heard a few tracks off of a Maiden CD recently, and decided to pick up it up and I found myself really enjoying. I love the driving guitar work on this track.

12. "Dancing Queen" -ABBA

I can appreciate ABBA, but I'm not a huge fan. They're fun and entertaining and sometimes that's all I'm after in my listening pleasure. I picked this CD up after watching Muriel's Wedding in which so much depends on the works of ABBA. I only choose this cut because it seemed to work best on the heels of Iron Maiden. I really wanted to use "Waterloo" but it just didn't feel right.

13. "The Spark That Bled" -Flaming Lips

I am 2 for 2 on music purchases based on recommendations by Johnny Bacardi. After having such good luck with Brian Wilson's "Smile", I recently picked up the Flaming Lips' "The Soft Bulletin". I am somewhat familiar with the Flaming Lips after falling in love with their last CD, "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots". I really dug "The Soft Bulletin", maybe not as much as "Yoshimi", but close. I chose this track for a couple of reasons. One, I love the way the song slows and speeds up in tempo. Two, I love the way what's-his-name sings "Hell yeah!". And third, I slows down near the end as a good intro to the fantastic Springsteen song the is next.

14. "Jesus Was An Only Son" -Bruce Springsteen

This cut from Bruce's just released CD, "Devils & Dust" wasn't supposed to be on here. When I was formulating the tracks mix, "Devils & Dust" hadn't been released, but I heard the title track several times on XM Radio and knew I was going to include that song on the mix. When I pick up the CD and listened to it, I felt that this would be the better track to use. Yes, I do love the religious imagery of the song. I thought the story Bruce weaves does an effective job of showing the conflict of Christ as seen from the perspective of Christ himself, and also of those around him. This is my favorite cut off of this terrific album.

15. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" -The Beatles

This is the first of two songs that I wasn't currently listening to but wanted to include on the mix. On the track listing I sent with the disc, it reads "While My Guitar Gently Sleeps", which isn't the name of the freakin' song, but for some reason I always sing it that way. So keeping it in the song title was an injoke known only to myself. I also wondered if I should have claimed it was by George Harrison instead of The Beatles, because George is the only person on this song. I knew I wanted to include something rare on the song, and I dug this out of my bootleg collection of unreleased Beatles stuff. I have no idea if this found it's way onto those Beatles Anthologies, but I love the acoustic version of the song. I do actually prefer the released version better, because I love Harrison's electric guitar work on it, but used this cut because of it's brevity and it's rarity.

16. "Sugaree" -Jerry Garcia

This was the second of two songs that I wasn't currently listening to, but I dragged out of my collection. I knew I was going to use a Dead song on my mix, but the Dead CD's I was listening to this month were all live recordings and just didn't fit with sound quality, length, and crowd noise. While at work one day, I heard this cut being played on the Al Franken Show on Air America and thought that this would work. Garcia's guitar sound is one of the few noises that is instantly recognizable. I chose this cut because I love the guitar work on it. I also chose this cut because I know not a whole lot of people enjoy the Dead and thought this was a real good example of what IS to like about them.

17. "Blue Sky" -Allman Brothers Band

From the start of this Mixed Bag experiment I knew I was going to have an Allman Brothers song on it. For me, it's like winning an Academy Award and forgetting to thank your partner. The hard part was picking which song to use. There were several considerations, length of the song, tempo of the song, and coming from a live show I was currently listening to, the non-musical obstacles (clapping, talking or introductions). I finally decided to use "Blue Sky" because last year was the return of the song to their rotating setlists after firing Dickey Betts, and it's one of my favorite songs. On an earlier version of my mix this was the second track, but after listening a few times to it, I decided I needed to move it here because of the few seconds of crowd noise at the end.

18. Ojitos Traidores -Los Super Seven

I thought using another Spanish lyrics song from Los Super Seven would be a good way to signal the end of the mix. I really wish I knew enough Spanish to understand the lyrics, I do love the song for the rhythm, the sound of the vocalists voice, and the crisp guitar strumming.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Music Meme (These Things Always Get Me)

Saw this musical meme of on Nat Pike's Wired for Sound

1. Of all the bands/artists in your CD/record collection, which one do you own the most albums by?

Three way Tie: U2 and Grateful Dead and Neil Young


2. What was the last song you listened to?

Somebody to Shove by Soul Asylym

3. What's in your CD player right now?

Grave Dancer's Union -Soul Asylym
Born to Run -Bruce Springsteen
Ringwood's Rage Mix


4. What song would you say sums you up?

Closer To Fine -Indigo Girls


5. What's your favorite local band?

Local band? Hmm, haven't seen too much local bands but I suppose Nite Train, a local Guns N' Roses cover band that I've seen 3 times.

6. What was the last show you attended?

Allman Brothers Band @ Santa Barbara 5/7/05

7 Appears to be missing in action, so I'll make one up:
7. What artist do you consider to be very underrated?


Los Lobos or Faces

8. What's the shittiest band you've ever seen in concert?

Disco Bicuits


9. What band do you love musically but hate the members of?


Weezer

10. What is the most musically involved you have ever been?

Played trumpet a long long long time ago.

11. What show are you looking forward to?


U2 in November, and hopefully The Rolling Stones in November too.

12. What is your favorite band shirt?

I love some of those classic Dead shirts.

13. What musician would you like to hang out with for a day?

I've already done that, Otiel Burbridge in the Allman Brothers Band. But would love to just hang out with Dylan.

14. Metal question- Jeans and Leather vs. Cracker Jack clothes?

Jeans and Leather

15. Sabbath or solo Ozzy?

Sabbath

16. Commodores or solo Lionel Ritchie?


solo Lionel Ritchie

17. Blackjack or solo Michael Bolton?

Michael Bolton I guess, as long as he doesn't sing.


18. The Eagles or solo Don Henley?


The Eagles

19. The Police or solo Sting?

The Police, most definately.

20. Doesn't emo suck?


I don't any of the bands associated with emo...but I do like punk.


21. Name 4 flawless albums.

1. Live At The Fillmore East -Allman Brothers Band
2. Exile On Main Street -Rolling Stones
3. American Beauty -Grateful Dead
4. Born To Run -Bruce Springsteen


22. Did you know that filling out this survey makes you a music geek?

Nope, it just verifies it.

23. What was the greatest decade for music?

1965-1975 really.

24. How many music-related videos/DVDs do you own?

Probably 10 to 12.

25. Do you like Journey?

Yes I do, but recognize that it's sugar candy and not groundbreaking.

26. What is your favorite movie soundtrack?

Hmmmm, that's a hard one for me. Almost Famous, The Commitments, or Dazed & Confused.

27. What was your last musical "phase" before you wised up?

I embraced all kinds of music, including soem of the stuff during this last phase, but I would say country music during the 90's.


28. What's the crappiest CD/record/etc you've ever bought?

Yes at one time I did pick up a Spice Girls cd.

29. Do you prefer vinyl or Cd's?

CDs only because they take up less space, and the technology to play them are easier to find.

30. What is your guilty pleasure CD, that being the CD you love but would be ashamed to admit you have in your collection?

Neil Diamond Greatest Hits or Michael Jackson's Thriller...but Thriller is a dam good record, and has Eddie Van Halen's best guitar solo he's ever played.

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Taking a Leak on Xbox

Thursday is the announcement on MTV about Microsoft next gen Xbox console, Xbox 360, but pics and some details are now leaking out. First the pics:


This is the front view of the console. I like the simple design, although I was hoping for a brush steel or black look (after all most electronics are in black or silver).


Here you can see the console standing upright. You can also see the new Xbox Live headset, the new wireless controller, and what appears to be a Xbox Live webcam of some type.


Here's a close-up view of the wireless controller. I really like the design here, and I hear the controller may be rechargeable, which is what I'd want, instead of dumping lots of money into batteries.


And here's a pic of the DVD controller. It's rumored that this will, thankfully, be able to turn the XBOX 360 on and off, and open and close the tray. There may also be some stuff to access live content or make purchases using this as well.

Other rumors floating around is that there will be a different structure to Xbox Live. That there will be a free Xbox Live and a paid subscription that would come with more bells & whistles. I've also heard that it may not have a large internal hard drive, but they'll offer a separate 20G hard drive. If true, that's a bit of a let down. The Xbox 360 is coming out in November. No word yet as to price.

Most of this info was found on Engadget here. Here's what that site is saying about the different features:

2 types of Xbox Live:
Xbox Live Silver (no subscription required)
Xbox Live Gold (subscription benefits)

Features for Gold service
* Also for Silver
# Also for Offline

- Seamless transition to Xbox Live account from Xbox to Xbox 360
- Access to MMOs (additional fees may apply) *
- Free Xbox Live weekends *
- Multiplayer online gameplay
- Avatar for gamer profile * #
- Motto for gamer profile * #
- Personalized look for Xbox System Guide * #
- Offline achievments * #
- Online achievements *
- Access to other players’ Gamer cards via Live *
- Cumulative gamer score * #
- Location/language profile * #
- Reputation *
- Enhanced matchmaking using above
- Skill level matchmaking
- Gameplay style profile (casual, competitive, etc.)
- Recent players list *
- Free and premium download game content *
- Free and premium downloadable movies, music, tv *
- Downloadable demos/trailers *
- Microtransactions *
- Custom playlist in every game * #
- Play music from portable devices * #
- View images from digital camera * #
- Strem media from Windows XP * #
- Interactive screen savers * #
- Track info for CDs * #
- Communication with voice, video or text *

360 HW:
1. Support for DVD-video, DVD-Rom, DVD-R/RW, CD-DA, CD-Rom, CD-R, CD-RW, WMA CD, MP3 cd, JPEG photo CD
2. All games supported at 16:9, 720p and 1080i, anti-aliasing
3. Customizable face plates to change appearance
4. 3 USB 2.0 ports
5. Support for 4 wireless controllers
6. Detachable 20GB drive
7. Wi-Fi ready

Custom IBM PowerPC-based CPU
- 3 symmetrical cores at 3.2 GHz each
- 2 hardware threads per core
- 1 VMX-128 vector unit per core
- 1 MB L2 cache

CPU Game Math Performance
- 9 billion dots per second

Custom ATI Graphics Processor
- 500 MNz
- 10 MB embedded DRAM
- 48-way parallel floating-point shader pipelines
- unified shader architecture

Memory
-512 MB GDDR3 RAM
- 700 MNz DDR

Memory Bandwidth
- 22.4 GB/s memory interface bus bandwidth
- 256 GB/s memory bandwidth to EDRAM
- 21.6 GB/s frontside bus

Audio
- Mulitchannel surround sond output
- Supports 48khz 16-bit audio
- 320 independent decompression channels
- 32 bit processing
- 256+ audio channels

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Lefty's Weekly Top Ten

And the hits keep a'coming! I'm loving these Mixed Bags, yesterday the mailman left four of them at our door. So here's my weekly top ten:

1.) Various Mixed Bag CDRs This has been so much fun, and I've been listening to all the different discs in the car, at home, and at work. At this very moment I just put in the Fred Hembeck Mix 2 to try to figure what's on his setlist. Today I'll be listening to the just arrived Ringwood Ragemix, Scott's Songs for the Cynical & Sinful, Greg's Contribution to the Mixed Bag. As Uncool as You Thought It Would Be!, and Tom the Dog's You Know What I Like? You'll Play It and You'll Like It, Vol.1.

2.) Farscape Season 3 and 4 DVD Finished off Season 3 and now working through the last season. The series has lost some of it's luster, but being the last season I wonder what may be coming along. I'm preparing myself to be disappointed because I hear the ending of the season had a lot of fans upset.

3.) "God's Politics" by Jim Wallis I don't think I agree with everything Wallis is writing about, but it has been making me think quite a bit about the role of religion should be in the political process. I'll have to write a separate post about this sometime because I am of two minds about it.

4.) Panjabi MC "The Album" I've been secretly searching record to see if they had any Panjabi MC in. I finally managed to pick up this British import for a really, really cheap price off Ebay. Mixing Indian music with dance and hip hop, this CD just knocks me on my ass. Great stuff.

5.) The Amazing Race (CBS) The Season Finale is tonight, but I won't be watching it until Wednesday evening...so I'm avoiding any news of the outcome. Hmm, maybe I should turn off the comments section until after I've watched it. I'm pulling for Uchenna and Joyce, but Rob and Amber also have done a terrific job as well.

6.) Lost (ABC) This are getting mighty interesting. I'm anxiously awaiting to see what the season finale brings. I sort think it'll end where we see some of the cast floating off in search on rescue....only to return to shore (minus a few members) next season. We'll see.

7.) 24 (FOX) Every Tuesday morning before I head to work I watch last night's episode. I just can't wait to see what happens. This season has been exceptional. Last night's episode was very good with a capture, a launch, and a special moment between Tony and his estranged wife..damn phone call!

8.) Rainbow 6 Black Arrow (Xbox) After sending back Lego Star Wars and Doom3 I am now back to playing this, although it's been not as much fun for reasons I hope will be changing soon.

9.) Family Guy (FOX) Yay! It's back and nearly as funny as it's always been. I'm hoping now that we have them back we'll see some of the supporting characters soon. But for now I'm just so happy to see them back. I'm secretly hoping that next season they'll have a dysfunctional family block of Malcolm in the Middle, Simpsons, Arrested Development, Family Guy, and even American Dad.

10.) Moon Knight v.1 issues 1-5 (Marvel) While checking out my local comic book shops back issue bins I noticed that they had a near complete run of Moon Knight vol. 1. So every week I when I pick up my new comics I'll pick up a few of these.

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Monday, May 09, 2005

DinoWatch2005 Forecast

I interrupt your regular blog reading activity to announce that the DinoWatch2005 forcasts heavy dinosaur activity in the latest issue of Natural History.


Cover to Natural History, May 2005, v.114 no.4

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Mixed Bag Reviews Continues...

Earlier links to bloggers discussing the Mixed Bag project can be found here and here.

Here's some new stuff being written up about Mixed Bag from various participants:

Fred Hembeck reveals his tracks in a post on May 9th. I really like his commentary, and may do the same for my reveal later this week. I just got Fred's Mix and was happily surprised to get a second disc. Thanks so much! I'll be contacting you to figure out the tracks that I haven't heard before.

Roxy at Roxy's World also reveals her tracks to her Mixed bag. I'm looking forward to hearing it, I LOVE hearing United States of Whatever on the Randi Rhoades show.

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Gimme Back My Bullets

Okay that was a really bad use of a Lynyrd Skynyrd song. Right now many in the comic blogosphere have grown incensed over this little thing:



It's DC's new logo that will be replacing this the bullet logo. Myself I could give a rat's ass over what they go with. As long as my comic contains plenty of dead Blue Beetles I'll still plunk down my $3 to read. Um, just kidding about the Blue Beetle death fetish. The thing is, it's a logo and it's such a small part of what sells a book. Characters, covers, art, price..those sell a book a hundred times over than some "new hip" logo to reach kids.

What most interests me about this change is people's reactions. If my faithful readers comes across some choice fanatical ravings about this, post a link so we all may enjoy the fury of a fanboy incensed. Maybe it's time to visit the Byrne board to see what shit is stirring up there.

Oh, and the new logo is appearing on this book:





Let's hope she's not returning because they're running out of mid-tier level heroes to kill off, rape, or maim. Say a prayer for Donna Troy....well if she wasn't a fictional character you know.

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What I Did On My Weekend Vacation

by Lefty Brown


Back from the all-too-short weekend, or as I call it, being the blog-whore counter I am, the days that throw my weekly average visitor off.

Anyway, had a mostly fun weekend. On Saturday I got up before dawn to start putting stuff out in time of our street yard sale. We managed to sell some stuff, including a queen size bed that needed to make room for future space for comic book short boxes and a couch. All in all we made some good travel money as well.

By 10:30 we hastily drug what was left inside and dashed off, as fast as we could, to Santa Barbara. I usually hate long car trips inside my home state (but love out of state car rides, go figure!) because coming from Fresno I get one boring trip up North or one boring trip South. Traveling from Fresno to Santa Barbara was beautiful. We passed by the place that James Dean crashed his car, past by several wonderful Central Valley coast wineries I want to go tasting at one day, and finally headed down the gorgeous 101.

This was my first time in Santa Barbara, and now I'm convinced I need to go back. We stayed at a dreary place, a tourist hostel, because prices for hotels are waaaaay expensive right now between entering the busy season and the Michael Jackson trial. The reason for our travel was to see the Allman Brothers Band. This was my 20th time seeing the Allman Brothers, and one of my favorite shows. We arrived just as the opening band was winding down. After saying our hellos to Derek Trucks, his wife Susan Tedeschi, Oteil Burbridge, and tour mystic Kirk West, I headed up to our seats. Here's the setlist:

Don't Want You No More>
It's Not My Cross To Bear
Trouble No More
Come And Go Blues
Who's Been Talking
Old Before My Time
Walk On Gilded Splinters
Good Clean Fun
Egypt
Desdemona
You Don't Love Me
Don't Think Twice, It's Alright-W/ Susan T.
The Same Thing
Melissa
Dreams
In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed>drums>IMOER
encore
No One To Run With

Soon after Good Clean Fun we made our way backstage again and watched the rest of the show from the side. Usually I like to just watch from the audience, because it just sounds better that way, but on Saturday the sound was very, very good on stage, so I spent the rest of the show standing in the wings watching some great music being made just a few yards away. I have to say that Walk On Guilded Splinters was created for the Allman Brothers, it must have been because it sounds so fuckin' incredible. That was definitely one of those "I Can't Believe I'm Hearing This, Someone Pinch Me" moments. Egypt is new instrumental that Otiel wrote. I love the vibe of the song, very Otiel. Also the instrumental really lets the band open up and jam off of each other. Another very pleasant surprise was the Melissa that night. Melissa is usually a "throwaway" song for me. I've heard it so many times, and it usually serves a place holder before a long jam instrumental. On Saturday, Warren Haynes breathed new life into the tired song. His guitar song was sweet and tender, and he had such an incredible outro that opened my eyes and ears to the song again.

I also have to say I won one of my first "song challenges" with an impressive 7 songs, nearly 50%. Each contest our little collective of friends pick 15 songs we think a band will play. We get bonus points for choosing the opening song or the encore. I did very, very well this time out.

After the show we had some time to chat with Kirk again, and have a longer chat with Otiel. I'm excited to hear we may get to see his band, Otiel & the Peacemakers again, without having to board a plane to do it. It's always a little weird to be friends with a musician. We don't see each other, except when the band passes through, but our friendship picks right up when we do see each other. We chatted about our excitement for the new Star Wars movie, our faith, what books we're reading, and what not. I remarked later to one of my fresno buddies that it's weird to think we have a grammy nominated artist in our midst but around him we much rather talk about who's the bigger Star Wars geek.

Good times. Because of the early curfew, my friend and I decided to head to a nearby bar for $2.50 drinks. We walked into the bar and realized that it was one of those 'meat market' places with loud thunderous urban music and young appetites for drink and the desire to "get me some of that". Is it just me or did dancing devolve into dry humping, or is it that everyone's just really big fans of the movie "Clan of the Cave Bear"? Anyway, I down more drinks than I should have, but not enough to oogle overtly at the half-naked mermaid who swam back and forth in a large fishtank behind the bar. I remarked to my friend that I thought that poor woman would have more self-respect working in a Hooters than swimming back in forth for hours wearing nothing but a see-through cloth for a tail and pasties on her surgically-augmented "rack". Many of the men waiting in line at the bar had to comment to me on the 'mermaid".

So we stumbled back to our hostel, and thankfully slept well. After breakfast with my wonderful wife, she took up the car-driving mantle and we spent our ride back listening to the Deep Tracks Head Tripz special for Mother's Day. Head Tripz takes songs related to a certain subject and play them together. I did a great job guessing what songs they would play, predicting songs by The Band (Rag Mama Rag), The Beatles (Mother's Nature's Son), Pink Floyd (Mother), but they never did play the Bob Dylan (It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding) I was sure to hear.

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Friday, May 06, 2005

Revenge of the The Mixed Bag

Continuing with the linkblogging to those involved in the soon to be annual or semi-annual Mixed Bag, here's what participants have been saying about each other's discs:

For an earlier Mixed bag linkblog go here.

Logan of House of the Ded posts about the Couscous Express graphic novel and the soundtrack Larry Young contributed.

Mercury X23 of his Fantablous blog has multiple posts for each disc he received: Larry Young's, Mike Sterling, and (postmodernbarney). I am really enjoying Merc's reviews of the discs.

Scott at Polite Dissent navel-gazes at his own selections, preparing the other participants for a mellow Mixed Bag.

Tom the Dog at his site, You Know What I Like? unveils and give great commentary about the tracks on his Mixed Bag. I, for one, am looking forward to hearing it.

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Lefty's Mixed Bag Reviews (Part One)

I will be posting the track listing to all the Mixed Bags later this month, but be warned I do make mention of some of the songs in these reviews (so for those participants that don’t want spoilers I’d avoid reading this post). Oh, and I'll also will have a linkblog post later today with what other participants are saying about the Mixed Bags they have been receiving. For an earlier linkblog report go here.


Larry Young’s Mixed Bag: CousCous Express Soundtrack


Technically this is a mix of songs that Brian Wood put together, but Larry packaged it up with the graphic novel and mailed it out to the lot of us. I just finished reading the GN this morning, and have to agree with what others have said about it. It’s a very good story, but the art falls flat in some places. Brett Weldele’s art works best to show motion, but I found the pixel style to be too much of a distraction for my tastes. However, Brian’s story is pretty creative. I particularly enjoyed when he characters broke the 4th wall and spoke their minds directly to the reader, often times with other characters wondering who or what they are talking about. I’m also thankful for the GN because I finally hunted down a copy of the first volume of Couriers and many of the same characters in Couscous Express pop up in Couriers.

Anyway, on to Larry’s (Brian’s) Mixed Bag. Keeping with the whole soundtrack mentality of the mix I tried placing the songs as I was reading the GN. The songs work in some ways and less in others. They have a good start and finish in terms of matching the movement in the GN. Songwise, I enjoyed about 70% of it. I’m familiar with some of the work, and loved being exposed to Murphy’s Law, Desmond Dekker, and Minor Threat. Yeah, I know I SHOULD have Minor Threat in my own personal collection. That will be rectified in the future I swear. I didn’t like the switch to the more urban numbers, and grooved more with the punk stuff. But the mix passes my relistenablity test, now having listened to it three times.


Mercury X23’s Mix 23

Mercury’s Mixed Bag was one of the ones I was most looking forward to, because he’s one of the few folks that aren’t from the comic blogosphere. I know him from the liberal blogosphere, and swell group of bloggers, The Liberal Coalition. So I was looking forward to a possible different kind of music. Merc’s mix is pretty good, and makes for good work music. I was reminding myself this morning that when it comes to people’s taste in music there aren’t really any losers because musical taste contains such a wide spectrum. Personally I liked about 50% of the tracks. I actually own two of the records two tracks comes from (Flaming Lips and Spiritualized), and really enjoyed getting to hear Jamie Cullum, The Arcade Fire, and Built to Spill. And I have to say I did really, REALLY like the William Shatner (and I’m assuming Ben Folds) track, so much that I may end up hunting it down in the near future. Some of the tracks fell flat to me, just felt a little, I don’t know, artty alt pop, for lack of a better word. I’m giving the disc a few more times to really sink in, and I think when I listen to it in the car, when my better listening ears are turned on, I may find some overlooked gems. And I really, REALLY should have some Elliott Smith in my personal collection.

(postmodernbarney.com) Mixed Bag

Umm, you know as much as (postmodernbarney) complains about Mike Sterling’s musical choices, I have to say that it’s the pot calling the kettle black….but in a good way. I really did enjoy the very dance club mixes of classic songs by Shirley Bassey, Eartha Kitt, Nina Simone, and a few others. (postmodernbarney.com) pull’s out all the stops by even putting a Harvey Fierstein track on this disc. All in all a very good collection of music. I enjoyed about 90% of it. The power of Christ compels me to run out and purchase the Avenue Q recording, Polyphonic Spree (I was unaware of the Flaming Lips connection), and even some Dolly Parton. I do own the albums that his Franz Ferdinand and Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies come from, although I don’t think I have the CD that the Scissor Sisters track is from (but I do own their debut album). I was also impress with the Magnetic Field track. Very good collection, and having just gotten the disc yesterday I’ve already listened to it twice.



Mike Sterling’s The Progressive Ruin Mix CD of Love


Damn you Mike Sterling! Not only do you have, IMHO, easily one of the best comic blog on the internets, but your taste in music outstanding. I will not go out and build a secret shrine to you honor in my closet, complete with incense and covers of Swamp Thing. I liked about 98% of the disc, the only things falling flat for me were, of all things, the Curtis Mayfield w/Fishbone (who’da thunk it), Dick :Two Ton” Baker, and the Deadly Nightshade Family Singers (tho’ thatis a great name for a band). There is much for me to like on this disc, and soon I will be on the hunt for CDs by the likes of Crazy 8s, 7 Seconds, Joe Esposito, Celtic Elvis, Honest Bob & the Factory-to-Dealer Incentives, and Ookla the Mok. I have listened to this disc now around 6 times, and my ears and mind have absorbed it’s goodness, and it warms the cockles of my soul. Kudos sir. Well Played. I look forward to future installments (and email for suggestion as to what CDs to seek out from the above mentioned bands too). So far this is my favorite disc, liking even better than my own (toot my own horn) Mixed Bag collection.


Mrs. LeftyBrown’s Mixed Bag

I have to tread lightly here because I gotta co-habitate with this person. I like a great many of Mrs. Lefty’s songs, after all it’s from the very same collection of music. My biggest problem with the disc isn’t the tracks (except for the ‘dead to me’ Steal My Sunshine, and Luther Vandross and Billy Joel), it’s the flow of one track to the next. Some tracks get me going and then the next track takes all the energy from it. But I do salute my wife for choosing some stuff that work well. Somehow John Mellencamp makes a good choice before a Beatles track. And I thank my wife for making me want to binge on Gregg Allman solo material again. I love, love, LOVE “Rendezvous With The Blues”. I just have to mention, that I’m glad we scrapped all 15 of the discs that had the wrong Black Crowes song and reinserted the one she wanted (which is one of her favorite songs in the cosmos). Over all I liked 90% of it, but again my problems were mostly over the flow.

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Bwahahahahahahaha!

It makes my heart glad to no end to see that Ford and GM's stocks are now at junk bond status because of declining sales of SUVs. Meanwhile it's often a 3 month waiting lists to purchase a hybrid, while they aren't a perfect vehicle, they are a step in the right direction.


Umm, perhaps I should rephrase that. I am happy at the decline of the gas-guzzling monstrosity, the SUV, is going the way of the dinosaur. I just wish both companies would have taken off blinders and built hybrid vehicles. I mean we've known for what 20-30 years that oil supplies were going to get tighter as new markets emerge...not to mention that the Petroleum industry figured out a long time ago that they make more money having fewer storage storage facilities, which helps drives up the cost at the pump.

I'm a little sad that at this most perfect time to really push for better public transit, many local governments can afford it because the Bush budgets and economic plans shafted state governments which in turn screws local governments.

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Lefty's Friday Three Questions

Today is the day before our annual street yard sale, and also our trip to Santa Barbara to see the Allman Brothers, so it'll be a very busy day. Later on I'll try to review some of these fantastic Mixed Bags I've listened to, but for now here's this week's 3 questions:

1.) What are 3 things your friends seem to like, but you just don't care for?

2.) I've been reading Jim Wallis' book, God's Politics, and been thinking a lot about this as of late: What should be the role of religious faith in the public sector? Should it differ in the political arena?

3.) Admit it, for some things you are a sheep or cow and follow the herd. What "new hotness" do you find yourself enjoying, while at the same time acknowledging it's shallowness? (Note that this doesn't necessarily mean in ALL things you follow the herd blindly, and heaven help you if you do)

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Thursday, May 05, 2005

More Lefty's Tidbits

On Fresno....

I was going to remark how I love living in Fresno on days like these. Fresno is located just about smack dab in the center of California, which means sometimes we get SoCal weather and sometimes we get NorCal weather. Today started off being a perfect Bay Area day here in Fresno. The temperature was just right, and a light misty rain was sporadically falling, and the air was so clean the newly green trees and colorful annuals were bright and breath-taking....

Then came my lunch time.

On my way to a local Mexican/burrito bar for a bite, the misty rain turned to a steady rain. Then right when I finished lunch and was headed towards my car, the sky opened up and dumped a shitload of big thick rain goblets. Ordinarily that would be cause for me to spend time in my dungy clothes getting soaked to the bone as I begin my little happy dance to big wet raindrops. However I was on the road trying to get back to work. Fresno is just enough like L.A. in which when it rains in the city, the drains often can't handle sudden deluges, so the road melded with sidewalk and driving became worrisome especially during 4 way stops. I thought my car was going to stall two times on my way back to work, and my mind worried about that word, hydroplane.

So I get manage to get back to work to discover a firetruck at the university I work out, alarms were going off, and employees evacuated. NO idea what's going on, but I can bet you it's rain-related.

Boy the drive to the comic book shop is going to be ever so fun. Maybe I'll hold off another day.

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On my Xbox obsession...

I've been trying out Gamefly for free for a month. I've heard good and buy things about this service. The bad mostly pertains to lack of closer shipping facilities, but since I'm in the same state as the shipping facility I figured I'd give it a try. I hate shelling out $50 for a game that when I play it (yes you Halo 2) it just plains sucks ass. So I'm experimenting with Gamefly to see if it's better for me to rent games much like Netflix.

My first two games were Doom 3 and Lego Star Wars. I know I would never purchase Doom 3 because I'm not a fan of horror video games, and in my short exposure to the game so far I know I'll be returning it soon. It looks great, the story sounds good, and the sound is loud...but man it's scary. Especially when you're walking around in the dark with only a pistol. Anyway I'm keeping it for a couple more days to see how the online stuff looks like.

The other game I got was Lego Star Wars, and let me tell you that is one freakin' fun game. I could spend a whole day playing it, trying to unlock vehicles and figure out what behind the door with the question mark. I cheated juuust a bit and unlocked some characters and it's really fun playing the episodes with Darth Sidous and a Chewbacca side by side. The only downside is that there is no online play, so until the game becomes $20 or less I won't be picking it up, but someday I will. It's a ton of fun. It even lets you play a Lego version of episode III. I sent the game back today to try to get my hands on the Star Wars III: ROTS game.

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Lefty's Tidbits

No posting from me yesterday. That's because I accompanied my wife to Kaiser yesterday to try to get some answers as to why my wife has been in so much pain for the past few months. You can read more about what's going on in my wife's own words, here. The news wasn't exactly unexpected, but now we have a month to wait and see, and then possibly make a few very important decisions. My wife has had several surgeries in that same area, and makes me wonder if my wife not only has polycystic ovaries but also mucinous cystadenomas, which are cysts on the outer surface of the ovary. At this point we don't know what all our options are, but I've mentioned in the past that this time around my wife and I have this dubious feeling like the only way that my wife can be free of recurrent pain is for a hysterectomy. This has been weighing on our minds now, because we are still would want a child, but short of adopting the 'old fashioned' route would be forever closed to us.

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In other, less important news, we've been burning CDRs for the Mixed Bag, and today was supposed to be the day they all get mailed. Well, I was listening to my wife's selections on the way to work only to discover that one of the songs she chose wasn't on there. In it's place was the song prior to the song she wanted. If it was any other song that would have been okay, but the song she wanted has to be like in her top favorite top 5 songs of all her freakin' life. So it's back to the burning program tonight, with everything going out on Friday. Let me just add that my wife waited on her track listing until Wednesday morning (more than a week after it was supposed to be done), and when I ripped the songs she still had 20 minutes to fill. So her Mixed Bag didn't get started burning until Wednesday evening. Oh, and I still think mine is the better of the two, but then again I love making 'mixtapes'. All I need know as an easy to use program that will let me mash-up, cross-fade, and podcast and I'll will find my way into mixtape Nirvana.

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After work I'm dashing off to the comic book shop for a very short week. I'm picking up:

Batman Dark Detective #1 (not on my saver, so I hope they still have copies)
GLA #2
Villains United #1
Y the Last Man #33

And earlier this week I clean my shop out of any and all issues of Omega the Unknown, picking up issues 3, and 5-8. So I'm on the hunt down for reasonable priced copies of issues 1,2,4,9,10. This comes on the heels of the announcement that Jonathan Letherm (whom I haven't read a single word of) will be writing a new series based on this short-lived book. I was in the mood for some 70's Marvel stuff, so it was right up my alley. While I was at it I also picked up all the issues of Rick Veitch's The One for a buck a piece. I'm also trying to hunt down the 1980's series of Blue Beetle for a cheap price.


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More Tidbits on the way on my lunch break, including my latest Xbox obsessions, example #257 of my geekdom, and why Lefty likes Fresno, at least today. To be continued....

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

When Mixed Bags Attack

Tonight is a busy, busy night at the Brown household. The laptop will go into overtime as we burn both my wife and my contribution to the Mixed Bag, then printing out the tracklistings, stuffing them in mailers, and getting them ready for a mail run on Wednesday. Many of the participants have started receiving their little musical mailers and talking a bit about it. If they decide to post on them I'll link to them here. Here's some initial ramblings, kudos by the way for those that got theirs out faster that a speeding...well you know:

Logan at House of the Ded posts about receiving Larry Young's, Mercury X23's, and Mike Sterling's Mixed Bags. He says some very nice things about Mercury X23's and is thankful for Larry's Mixed Bag and Coucous Express GN.

Postmodern Barney writes a short bit about mixes of his fellow co-worker and Larry's and Mercury X23's Mixed Bags. His comments about Larry's Mixed Bag leads me to wonder what a soundtrack to the upcoming Black Diamond would sound like. (Can't wait for Black Diamond to come out, personally, it looks like a tres cool book)

Shane at Near Mint Heroes chimes in on how great Mike's mix is. I totally concur, I'll be posting about my own reactions later on this afternoon. Shane then tells that his Mixed Bag will be in the mail, and how a comic shop owner will now be exposed to the fine products AiT/PlanetLar puts out thanks to Larry's contributions.

Larry at AiT/PlanetLar has a couple of posts here and here on the Mixed Bag, giving major props to Mike Sterling, and Larry reveals that he cribbed the Couscous soundtrack from Brian Wood. I also agree with Mike's choice on using 7 Seconds on his Mixed Bag. I saw 7 Seconds here in Fresno several months back and had an absolute blast, sure they were much older than in their heyday but not being exposed to too much "authentic" punk, I still got "schooled".

Mercury X23 posts his tracklisting for his contribution to Mixed Bag. You can see it if you can't wait. I'll be posting everyone's tracklisting later this month after we've all had a chance to experience fresh out of the mailing envelope. I have to say I'll be interested in seeing what Merc has to say about the rest of our Mixed bags because he is one out of maybe three people that aren't plugged into the comic blogosphere, and while I love Mike's Mixed Bag it's very representative of what I hear in a lot of comic shops...they have great taste.

Roxy at Roxy's World was having some last minute re-thinks on what to include. Hope she settled on what she wants our ears exposed to.

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Monday, May 02, 2005

On Filler



I thought about using some catchy, yet dumb plays on words for the title of this post, but thought I'd pass on it, and instead write my thoughts on the latest work by the team of Rick Spears and Rob G. "Filler" from AiT/PlanetLar echoes a lot of the world-weary emptiness we've seen from the works of Frank Miller's Sin City, but this is a slightly different kind of beast. Sin City is a superheroic twist on the noir genre complete with prostitute ninjas, 'Hulk"-like thugs, and uber-dangerous psychopath serial killers.

"Filler" in contrast, offers none of the over the top heroics. Instead, Rick Spears taps into the noir theme and writes the tale of an empty man eeking out a life in a city that is slowly killing him "like a vampire." The life of John Dough is devoid of joy, and empty of satisfaction. He seems to exist simply to serve the needs of the police department and the lives that are changed by the violence of the city.

After one of his line up sessions, Dough runs into Debra Cross, a prostitute who finds an ally in John. His meeting with Debra is the first moment John ceases to become just filler and awakens his deadened senses...even if they lead into acknowledged trouble and danger.

Rick Spears writing is quite good, with minor exceptions. Personally I dislike symbols that are so big that it comes at you like a 2X4. Giving his characters names like John Dough and Debra Cross (think about it) took me out of the plot. I also thought Debra's tattoo offered symbolism that one had to be blind to have missed. Otherwise I enjoyed the plot, and most of the twists. I felt engaged and interested in John Dough, and liked to hear what he was thinking.

Rob G does a bang-up job. His art is very fluid on "Filler", looking more like sketches. That art look, along with the use of blacks and red really do give the book its own look and feel. It really does set the mood of the book, without trying to appear like a Sin City knock-off. One image that really impressed me was seeing both Debra and John after “sexual congress” in bed with John curled up in a fetal position.

My main problem with Filler is that the last two pages feel a little too much "tacked on". At first I had a hard time with John Dough going to R. Pike for help, because I thought that John would have little involvement with Pike, but remembered that earlier in the book the two had some familiarity with each other. Without giving too much of the ending away let me just say this about those last two pages: First, how does Dough finding the money to afford his lifestyle at the end? Second, that last page, geez. Yeah it works and fits the story, but it comes off as all too cheesy. Also, you would figure that if he finds success with what happens on the last page, wouldn’t the police start to connect the dots?

Complaints aside, “Filler” is a very fun read. It has a very AiT/PlanetLar feel to it, meaning that it’s a graphic novel you could be a pretty good movie (in the right hands of course…not so fast Michael Bay). I know I will find myself re-reading “Filler” sometime down the road and enjoying it again, maybe picking up more of the symbolism and the inner life and isolation of John Dough.

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