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Kelly Kendall laments a casualty of the downloadable music age: the album cover. It started out as a 13"x13" cardboard 'poster', doubling duty as protection for fragile albums. Then shrunk to fit on 8-tracks, cassettes, and CDs...but now that songs are downloadable, requiring no sales packaging, and something is lost. Come to think of it: if you're a musician today, and devoting your songs entirely to digital distribution, who's going to run across an old copy at a rummage sale and hear you for the first time? Songs on a iPod are deleted as fast as attention spans wane, but the music doesn't end up in the basement for future generations to discover. #

Happy birthday to me! This is my court-ordered "annual birthday blog entry," as required by the Mandatory Blogging Inititive, ยง237.5-9. As per the Lifestyle Reporting Requirements, I am obliged to make a statement:

...[D]escribing life milestones, such as (but not exclusive to) wedding anniversaries, children's birthdays, [the blogger's own] birthday (emphasis mine), special family holidays (reunions, other anniversaries, et al), and personal special holidays (bar mitzvah, Confirmation, recieving driver's license)..."

See, in order to ensure that all bloggers are acting responsibly and in the best interest of the population, these requirements were established to set a minimum-level of blogging for all interested parties.

In the later detailed description of required content, I believe I'm expected to describe my plans for the day, and/or wait until it's over and describe what happened.

"Hey, everyone, it's my 31st birthday! I got up at around 7:30 and checked my email, but nothing much else planned until dinner (dad's taking us out). Wednesday is cleaning day, so we're all cleaning the house -- on my birthday! Can you imagine?"

So, there you have it. I know I've been lax on following the legal requirements of maintaining a 'blog (as my 36 hours in federal detention and $950 fine attests), but I'll try and do better, really. Even if I don't have anything to say. I suppose I could post about that (there's special rules about the "Non-Posting Post"), because it's not too hard to blog about not having anything to blog about. Enough other sites do that.

- . - . - . - . -

In other news -- we recieved our first 10 ISBN numbers yesterday. We're waiting for a response from our account executive at the printer we're most pleased with, to get started printing a few public-domain reprints we've got in the works. After the first couple, we have some original works from authors we've known, and then who knows where we'll go!

South Africa is unable to show their citizens films documenting their own liberation, because foreign news outlets own all the copyrights and charge a fortune for rebroadcast & reproduction rights. It seems that, when the citizens started rebelling against an oppressive society, nobody had the foresight to document it themselves...foreign cameramen were the only people on-hand to record the process. Note to future revolutionaries: leave the video camera running. #

Today, as I drove down the road, I was struck with horror: in a yard, near a fence, was a triffid. If you remember the book, you'd know they are human-sized plants, stalky at the bottom, with a large blossom at the top...a bloom that hides a poison-filled center, capable of lashing out at nearby mammals and killing them with a single strike. Sightless, the plants rely on temperature sensing and a sense of hearing to detect the approach of delicious humans.

This one, it appeared, was not a 'tame' triffid, one whose poison glands had been cut out. It appeared very active, and was no doubt dangerous to approach.

Little did I know, they were available from Fisher Price a few years back: it's actually a Crazy Daisy (watch video!), and is far less dangerous than I might have thought. I'm still not going anywhere near that thing.

Who in their right mind would design a toy to resemble, even slightly, a friendly version of a human-eating creature from a science fiction novel? New, from Playskool: the Grendel playset, complete with Beowulf and his men! How about a Little Golden Books version of To Serve Man?

On the other hand, the much more likely option, is that I read too much. While it keeps my mind pleasantly full of dangerous ideas, it really doesn't give me a positive angle when viewing the world around me. I've read quite a few books lately: A Clockwork Orange, A Brave New World, Fifth Planet, and this book, The Garden Of Evil:

Being written by Bram Stoker caught my attention, and made it worth the quarter I paid for it. After I began reading the book I noticed the subtitle, barely readable in the scan above: Original Title: The Lair Of The White Worm. Aha! I knew that title...but why would they retitle such a book? The only male heir of an English manor returns to meet his only uncle, meets some creepy neighbors, and destroys an ancient monster bent on killing him. Oh, and he falls in love somewhere in there.

This version of the book is an example of a practice that occurred a lot in the mid-20th century: misleading covers. In order to attract buyers, old titles were often re-run with new covers (usually involving scantily-clad women), new titles (usually sexier), and misleading back-cover quotes (usually taking the sexiest lines & scenarios from the book and describing them out of context). All that sexiness hoped to force buyers to put up their money. Did it succeed? Well, it caused a push for censorship because it seemed every book published was lurid, and bookbuyers caught on quickly that they were being tricked. Here's the back cover blurb for this book:

All her life, Mimi had been frightened by the ancient legend that a serpent would one day rise from the bowels of the earth and devour anyone in its path. The serpent was supposed to lurk in the depths of Diana's Grove -- a shadowy place the villagers called The Garden Of Evil.
Mimi carefully avoided the Grove, until the mysterious and beautiful Lady Arabella March bought it. Suddenly Mimi found herself drawn there time and time again -- always in a state of trance, always against her will.
Who was influencing her mind? To what terrible end was her unseen enemy leading her? Would Mimi live long enough to learn if the Garden of Evil harbored only a legend -- or death?

Sounds like a gothic romance, right? Maybe even some scandalous lesbian undertones, since it seems to Mimi falling under the powers of Lady Arabella (kinky!). Readers who purchased this book, hoping for a female lead character, would be sorely disappointed: Mimi is a relatively minor character. She's the love interest of the lead, but she does very little on her own. Much of the quote above was embellished, and has little to do with the storyline itself. It's too bad: the book wasn't very good anyway, it might have been more fun to read if this really was the main storyline. Now, if only I can find a giant white snake stuffed animal...maybe one of the kids will appreciate it.

The Chicago Sun-Times is celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Blues Brothers with numerous stories on the creation of the iconic film. Quite a bit of Real Chicago -- not Hollywood Chicago -- was used in the film; the articles cover the status of everything today. #

The letter 'X': Why is it always the letter 'X'? From XMas to the X movie rating to Generation X and the XBox...this columnist gives a brief touch on a subject that could be devoted to an entire book. #

Ah, B3ta, they've got the line on neato thingies: they asked for a song about Google, and one of their brethren complied. Happily, this one leans more on wit than on disgusting obscenities, which makes this song (and accompanying video) all the more endearing. #

The Contagious Media Showdown has ended: Forget-Me-Not Panties are the winner with twice as many visitors as runner-up Crying While Eating, and Blogebrity ended up third. These are also the only three sites I actually saw 'in the wild'. What I think this project is lacking is any sort of logical realization: what does this mean? How did they accomplish this is a short few weeks, and why panties over crying? Some analysis comes from the LA Times, who looked at Crying While Eating solely, but it seems you need to attend the workshops to really get anything out of this competition. One thing it does show, though: it doesn't take much effort to get internet exposure. Ideas are much more important. #

I went out to check the mail moments ago, to find this happy scene occuring in front of our house:

Click for larger view

ABC Seamless has been rude to us throughout our neighbor's residing project. Early on, we asked them to let us know before they set up equipment in the driveway. They acted agreeable, but never bothered: they even set up scaffolding against their house, which borders the north edge of the driveway, and left it abandoned, making the driveway narrower, for days at a time. They worked over there for weeks, interfering with our ability to use the driveway. We parked on the street for a while, trying to be nice neighbors, but many of those days turned out to be days ABC didn't even work on the house. How were we to know? They had no courtesy to tell us anything about our driveway.

Now, today, they set up all their equipment right across the exit. What sort of business is this, that they think they can just do whatever, and nobody wronged will bother to complain?

Well, I sent an email to the company, in hopes of getting some sort of helpful response, but I'm inching closer to calling the police, wether or not ABC responds. I'm already being the 'all too nice' guy that leads them to believe they can block driveways without warning. The email I sent will at least give ABC Seamless an idea of why they won't be called if I need anything sided.

DJ equipment from Russia: cassette scratching. It's rather ingenious, but not that odd -- I've done it with reel-to-reels, but they're not designed for back-and-forth movement. He's ripped apart two tape decks, added circuitry and come up with a way to make it work for him. Unfortunately, the page loads really slow, but it's worth the wait. #

I just finished A Clockwork Orange, and was reminded how great it is to have artificial languages in books. Nadsat, the teen slang, can be translated with a program found here, along with a Nadsat dictionary. Itty like to the link, mine droogy readers, and viddy the site a malenky tomtick. #

In other "I made this" news, I added my oddly-flavoured blend of humor to a soundless filmstrip over at Kitschy-Kitschy-Coo. #

My alter-ego Azrael Brown was mentioned on today's Attack Of The Show. I considered writing more about it here, but since I used the name "Azrael Brown," I thought it'd go better over on Backwash. I don't write there enough. #

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As I mowed the lawn, I crossed the sidewalk at the spot where Destiny and Hunter tallied the score from their "disk shooter" accuracy game.

In the process, I almost crushed the piece of pink chalk left behind. Picking it up, I decided to use it one last time before tossing it up onto the porch.

D and I headed out the front door to walk and get some milk. At the foot of the driveway, D's eyes turned downwards to read pink scrawls on the pavement.

"What did Destiny write now?" I commented slyly.

It read:


"Seeing that it was written in all capital letters, I'd say it wasn't Destiny who wrote it," D said.

We held hands.

The majesty, the beauty, the unbridled creativity...of those damn neon-lettered signs. #

It's not often you see me link to a Playboy website, but there's nary a breast to be seen at this one. Mirrors.Playboy.Com is a trove of open-source software, officially mirroring such software as the Fedora distro, FreeBSD, and Mozilla. Now you can say you subscribe for the software, not the nudity! #

Book buyers are very targeted these days: Booksellers say few browse any more; when they enter the bookstore, they know exactly what they want before passing through the doors, and will move on to the next store if the book they want isn't on the shelves. How do people know what they want? Media 'buzz' is a big reason. #

Turtle's 78rpm Jukebox has recordings taken of old public-domain records dating back to the turn of the 20th century. Very cool. #

As if meddling with the stereo while driving was bad enough, here's the Carlodica. Start with a melodica: it's a keyboard that you blow into to make music. As if that wasn't strange enough, add a hose and a funnel, place the melodica on the dash and the funnel out the window. Finally, drive fast enough to force wind down the funnel and through the melodica...then start playing music with your free hand. Make sure it's a free hand that you can play a keyboard with, and operate independently from the rest of your body well enough to keep from killing yourself and others. Suffer for your music, Mr. Artist! #

Query Letters I Love: query letters, apparently for potential scripts, actually recieved by a Hollywood shotshot. If only I could come up with stories so, maybe not. #

Ah, it's been so long since I've talked about the children! I've actually been saving up, because one of our Family Summer Projects is to help the kids set up their own webpages/blogs/photo uploads, which will include parent uploads as well.

Er, that was actually a last summer project, but monetary constraints caused havoc with the concept of taking any time off. We're much better off this summer, and all should go well. We've started out with a schedule that allows a lot more kid-time than before, too.

Today's kid-time occured in conjunction with a rummage sale. Destiny and Hunter (D's youngest) have been itching to ride bikes together; Hunter's bike was brought here from Wisconsin, but yesterday bike-riding was hindered by the discovery that Des' tires were flat.

We remedied this by a quick walk down to Bjornson's. After walking back, both kids were helmeted and set onto the sidewalk.

Hunter has been very proud: he no longer needs training wheels. At 4, it's quite a feat, but he's always been a very coordinated kid. Destiny, however, still had her training wheels, and was feeling a bit behind. So....we took off the training wheels.

By noon, Des' ankles & knees were scraped and bloody, but she held on and didn't give up. Starting is now her only problem -- once she gets up to 'speed' she's in good shape, and she can control her stopping well...unlike Hunter, but boys tend to careen out of control anyways. She had one good crash, but only took a short break (complete with a Gogurt) before trying again. Keeping up with a kindergartener seems to be a good incentive!

While the rummage sale wasn't worth marking on the calendar, first time riding without training wheels sure was. Sadly...I was too busy running alonside Des to take any pictures.

The "" doesn't have much support, other than from parents and lawmakers. 1,700 names were reserved at the outset, but only 21 websites have bothered to jump through the myriad of content hoops to guarantee the TLD and pony up the $400 to get it set up. While Congress had good intentions when setting up the rules, I can't help but bet some great websites out there would benefit from being in, but were discouraged by the rules. I mean, come on -- one of the rules is that you can't link to anything but another website? Chicken, meet egg, let the debate begin. #

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