Friday, March 05, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: "New Sensation"

I blame DASH2 playtesting, and Bob Schaffer in particular, for this week's random title. Now I can't get that damn INXS song out of my head.

Read "New Sensation" at 512 Words or Fewer


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Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Quarantine Has Been Lifted

That's the good news. Tye's gums are still a little red, so he'll continue to take antibiotics for a couple more weeks, but he gets to wander around the whole house now. So this is the last you'll see of the TyeCam for a while--hopefully forever. (Other cat-related videos may appear later. No promises.)

The bad news is, Tye is a bit too, shall we say, forward for Jasper's taste. Tye very enthusiastically jumps on Jasper and wants to play, when Jasper would prefer to take things a little more slowly.

All things considered, this isn't a huge problem. We had always intended to keep their territories separated at first, and introduce them to each other gradually. It's just turning out to be slightly more challenging than we anticipated.


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Thursday, January 21, 2010

One Day More!

Tomorrow! It's almost here! The day Tye goes back to the vet and then we find out if he can come out of quarantine! I'm very hopeful! I haven't seen it myself, but I hear his gums are much improved! And he sure seems a lot more energetic than he was just a few days ago:

I can't wait! Of course, it would mean the end of TyeCam, which I'm sure you'll all miss terribly. But just deal with it, folks: The needs of the Jasper outweigh the needs of the you!

And now, here is another YouTube video for you to watch.


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Workarounds, Hacks, and Pillows

We didn't go out today, which meant we were able to spend more time sitting with Tye, so I didn't turn on the webcam until later in the evening:

That little red netbook on the counter is the new TyeCam station. I'm also trying out Copilot, which lets me access it remotely.


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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Return of the TyeCam!

He's still in the bathroom! Still! How much longer? I don't know if I can stand waiting any more! When can he come out? When? Did you say Friday? Maybe Friday? AUGH! What are you people trying to do to me? This is torture! Cruel and unusual! I protest!

...hey, look! Grass! nom nom nom

What was I saying?


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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Kitty Quarantine, Day Nine

When we first brought Tye home last Thursday night, we put him in the guest bathroom so we could gradually introduce him without threatening Jasper's territory. Turns out that was a good idea, because we've had to keep him isolated due to a viral infection.

We (mostly DeeAnn) have been doing our best to keep him company in there--sitting with him once or twice a day while we read, work, nap, or play cards. He was bottle-raised by humans from one day after birth, and we don't want him to get too lonely.

The fentanyl patch comes off Tye's leg on Monday afternoon, and at that time we'll also ask the vet when we can think about letting him out of quarantine. He and Jasper have been very curious about each other, especially during the brief times when we crack open the bathroom door.

Aside: If you notice some gaps in the time-lapse video, it's because Dorgem periodically locks up, crashes, or has trouble uploading images to TyeCam. Hey, it's free software, and hasn't been updated since 2005; you get what you pay for. But close enough for rock 'n' roll, I say.


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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Stir crazy!

Jasper here! I'm happy to report Tye was feeling much better today (Friday)! You can clearly see that he's more active than previously:

Also, he seems to have found a new favorite sleeping location on the laptop computer, and developed some sort of grudge against the kleenex box.

Eagle-eyed viewers will note that he's managed to chew free two of his toes from the pink bandage on his leg! Let's see if the wrapping survives until he goes back to the vet on Monday!


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Friday, January 15, 2010

Gathering Data

Tye is definitely more active now than he was a few days ago, before the painkillers and antibiotics. Watch him take down a box of Trader Joe's facial tissues at 1:38...

And yes, he is chewing on his bandaged foot an awful lot. But the fentanyl patch is coming off on Monday anyway. We think it'll hold until then. If not, well, we've got the vet on speed-dial.

I should take a moment to mention that our cats go to the Feline Medical Clinic in Vancouver, Washington. We've received uniformly excellent care and attention from their doctors and staff, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to anyone in the area.


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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Perhaps I will call him PINKY!

Of course, if Tye is PINKY, that would make me THE BRAIN, which is an inappropriate metaphor since I have no designs on world domination! Yet! As far as you know! Perhaps I've said too much.

The pink bandage you see on Tye's foot is his souvenir from a day spent at the vet: apparently, his mouth was bothering him so much, the doctors wanted to keep him for a few hours to make sure it wasn't something more serious than an upper respiratory infection or bad teeth! (I know about bad teeth. I once had to have several of mine removed! But that's another story.) They didn't find an object lodged in his throat or anything like that, so he just needs to take antibiotics for a few days, starting tomorrow.

Don't feel too sorry for him though! That patch on his foot is dispensing fentanyl, which is about a hundred times more potent than morphine. He's probably flying pretty high by now! Sweet dreams, kid!


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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Barry Manilow Called...

...he wants his royalties.

That was The Richter Scales performing at this year's "Crunchies" awards show, in what seems to have become an annual tradition. But as amusing as that song was, I couldn't stop thinking of this one:

And by the way, Barry guest starring on Glee? Could be a train wreck. I am so going to watch anyway. Expect to see an angry blog post if there is a conspicuous absence of Mandy.


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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It's like a sauna in there!

The humans have decided that it's okay for me to inspect Tye's temporary habitat from time to time! (The contagion is not airborne, so as long as I stay out of licking distance, I should be fine!)

So I ventured inside several times yesterday! His digs are more than adequate, especially considering that he's got the old brown-carpet perch and the green carrier from last year's road trip. He's certainly not shy about climbing everywhere:

Please note that it's not really that hot in the bathroom! I mean, it is warmer than the rest of the house, which is okay because we cats like it hot. But the thermometer on the clock was reading high because it was parked next to the laptop heating vent all morning! Oops! All I can say is, it's not my fault.


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Monday, January 11, 2010

A Day in the Life of Tye

Well, about ten hours, anyway:

He's still in quarantine until his anti-virals kick in. That's me checking his gums for redness at 0:57. Any big time gaps are probably when he's sleeping in the sink, off-screen.

ObGeek: I'm using Dorgem to capture still images (every 15 seconds when the webcam sees motion) and Picasa to create the time-lapse videos.

The live TyeCam will return tomorrow morning.


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Sunday, January 10, 2010


I am of two minds about our new kitty! On one hand, I am definitely looking forward to having a friend to keep me company when the humans are out of the house! On the other hand, our interactions so far have been limited to me sniffing him through the bathroom door and him yelling and sticking his paws under the door and smacking me in the face. Not cool!

But he's stuck in that one room for the next few days (until his viral infection clears up), and I still have the run of the house and get to sleep with the humans. So there! Plus, through the magic of technology, we can all keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn't get into too much trouble. Here's what he did tonight while the humans were out and about:

Cambot is currently off-line--there's not much to see with a black cat in the dark--but you'll be able to view more of the live TyeCam again tomorrow! (We were also calling it QuarantineCam, but that doesn't really sound very nice.)


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Friday, January 01, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: "Little Drummer Girl"

Inspired in part by Striking 12, as you might have guessed. Happy New Year!

Read "Little Drummer Girl" at 512 Words or Fewer


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Friday, November 06, 2009

Missing Music

The best thing about the short-lived 2000 Bruce Campbell TV series Jack of All Trades is the main title theme song. Really! It was nominated for an Emmy and only lost because it was up against The West Wing. (But composer Joe LoDuca landed on his feet. He's working on Leverage these days.)

Hear the genius for yourself:

D and I have been re-watching Pinky and the Brain recently, which also has a great theme song. This is one thing I miss about modern TV shows. I blame Frasier for starting the trend and shows like Lost for exacerbating it (though the latter did make for a nice comedy bit at this year's Emmys).

I mean, if ever there was a show crying out for a theme song, it's Glee. Come on, guys. SRSLY.

Writer Lee Goldberg does a TV Main Title of the Week feature on his blog, and it's worth subscribing to his feed just to see these. They're not all good--quite a few are real clunkers--but as my friend Brian says, the main titles should tell you what to expect from the show itself. A good theme song should tell you, in about a minute, whether or not you are the audience for that show, and if you are, should make you want to go watch it immedately.

Here's a perfect example:

I rest my case.


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Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Time Has Come to Celebrate My Birthday

Take it away, Jonathan Coulton:

I'll be having a grand day out in lovely PDX today, but feel free to join the virtual party by leaving a comment here (or on Facebook, or by e-mail, or via passenger pigeon) which answers this question:

But where are the clowns?


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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hey, I know that guy

I freely admit that I am not part of the mainstream cultural conversation. (I had never heard any part of that Beyoncé song until last week's episode of Glee.) And I'm generally pretty bad about keeping in touch with friends. But it's always nice to hear about people I know finding success and happiness, even if it does remind me how out of touch I am with, well, most things.

From the current issue of Stanford magazine:

I got to know Alder pretty well in my senior year, when we took a writing workshop class together, and I'm thrilled that he's actually getting somewhere with his writing--even if it's not fiction. (We all know that non-fiction pays better anyway.)

I'm not a wine connoisseur, but if I were, I'd definitely subscribe to Vinography.


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Monday, August 17, 2009

All the Joe You Need

G.I. Joe, that is. Why spend money on a crappy movie when you can see the music video for free? Especially when the music video has, arguably, bigger stars* and better writing than the feature film?

* Partial cast list: Alexis Bledel as Lady Jaye. Billy Crudup as Zartan. Zach Galifianakis as Snow Job. Tony Hale as Dr. Mindbender. Vinnie Jones as Destro. Julianne Moore as Scarlett. Henry Rollins as Duke. Alan Tudyk as Shipwreck. Olivia Wilde as The Baroness...


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Friday, June 26, 2009

Even Klingon Warriors Mourn His Passing

May he moonwalk forever in Stovokor.

Michael Jackson (1958-2009)


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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Apropos of Nothing

It's not entirely literal, but snarkiness trumps consistency any day:

Total Eclipse of the Heart: Literal Video Version

ADDENDUM: The earlier--and, arguably, much superior--"Take On Me" Literal Video:



Tuesday, April 28, 2009

And Speaking of Flu Pandemics...

The excellent podcast This Week in Science used this song as a bumper all the time:

It's by The Flying Fish Sailors of Houston, Texas. I imagine they're getting some mileage out of it these days.

Also, I seem to be attracting some Twitter followers after posting an original #swineflu link. Hooray! I guess.



Sunday, April 05, 2009

How'm I Doing?

Short answer: Pretty well.

Long answer:

Remember all those commitments I made at the beginning of the year? I haven't managed to meet all of them, but I'm making the effort and accomplishing a decent majority of everything I set out to do. Hooray! Detailed breakdown follows.

post a new 512 Words or Fewer story (text and audio) every Friday

I've met this 100% and am very happy about it. I only came close to missing my deadline once, and I was even ahead of schedule last week. You can expect to see more trunk stories and novel excerpts if I ever get too busy or lazy again.

finish "Freefall: No Fate" - post a new chapter every month

I finished two chapters in three months, so I'll call this one 67%.

1 NEW short story submission to pro/semi-pro markets every month

This one, I need to improve. I finished one short in January and two in February, but the latter pair were for my Clarion application, which was rejected, and they're now being critiqued by my VPXII peeps prior to another rewrite pass. I need to write at least one new story this month.

critique 1 VPXII classmate's story per month

I slacked off on this for a long time and then critiqued three in March, so on average I'm doing okay.

finish 2nd draft of Waypoint Kangaroo by end of March

Well, that didn't happen. I'm still working on it, but at this point I'm leaning toward starting the agent query process and sharpening up the first three chapters just so I can get the ball rolling before mid-year.

do Script Frenzy in April

In progress!

upload all home videos to YouTube

Still doing this most Fridays. I'm prioritizing longer videos so I can get them uploaded before Google Video turns that off, and I got sidetracked in February with editing the GC Summit stuff.

It turns out that most of my old VHS tapes are marching band performances from high school. Here we are in the 1992 Rose Parade (scrub to 1:36 for my close-up, Mom):


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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Last Night, in Portland


Yes, we won the on-site lottery for $25 tickets to see Wicked, and that is what we saw from our "limited view" seats. That's the good news.

The bad news is, I seem to have caught the throat cold which I hear is going around Portland. Took a long nap this afternoon and am headed back to bed now. Need to get better so I can go judge a middle school science fair on Friday.


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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Quote of the Day

"This is the thing about the new landscape that drives everyone crazy: you can’t see inside the cow; you can only build one, feed it music, and wait for it to poop."
-- Jonathan Coulton

The good news? When it does poop, that cow poops money. Or, as some in the music industry might call it...


Thank you! Thank you very much.


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Friday, January 09, 2009

Friday Flash Fiction: "Bachelor of Science"

Not my best story:

"Bachelor of Science" at 512 Words or Fewer

D didn't like the ending, and Loren liked the original opening better. I wrote those three paragraphs last year sometime, and sat on them because I didn't know where to take the story next. Giving myself a deadline this week forced me to just pick something and go with it, but as usual, my idea was too big for 512 words. I might try expanding it later, or using it for a spec Heroes script. I mean, it can't be any worse than the shit they've been shoveling this year.*

If you have six minutes to spare, listen to the podcast too. My recording's a little fuzzy due to computer troubles, but I really like the intro/outro music I found. Hooray for Creative Commons!


* Baby, you got to be cruel to be kind.

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Win a Date with Felicia Day

Okay, so it's a charity auction, and the item on the block is actually a half-hour video chat, but it's as close as you'll ever get to her for thirty minutes.

Get all the details from Humanety, who are orchestrating this to support the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation. (Pun intended.)



Monday, January 05, 2009

JoCo in da PNW

That's "Jonathan Coulton" and "Pacific Northwest" to you:

Friday January 23 at 8 PM
Moore Theatre (Seattle, WA) with Paul and Storm

Tickets: (link to evil Ticketmaster)

Saturday January 24 at 8 PM
The Aladdin Theater (Portland, OR) with Paul and Storm

Tickets: (link to evil Ticketmaster)

I don't envy them the three-hour drive from Seattle to Portland, especially if it starts snowing again. Maybe they're taking the train. That would be smart. Unless it starts snowing again. Stupid snow.

D and I already have our tickets for the 24th. If you're thinking about going, you should do like we did and buy your tickets in person at the box office. It gets you out of the house (or out of your routine), and you don't have to pay the Ticketmaster vig.



Monday, December 22, 2008

Blasts From the Past

Back in the summer of 1991 (after I graduated high school), I hooked up a VHS VCR to a monaural VHS camcorder with flying erase head and manually edited together a music video using footage from my home-taped episodes of the first four seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The song was "Kiss the Girl" from Disney's The Little Mermaid, and the subject of the video was the sexual tension between Captain Picard and Doctor Crusher. My friends have enjoyed watching it, and I've now uploaded it to YouTube for strangers to enjoy, too:

Please note that I did all the video editing by hand, without the benefit of time codes. The VCR did have a jog dial (thank you, Sony), but it still took a hell of a long time to sync everything. Did I mention that I actually dubbed the song from a cassette tape of the Little Mermaid soundtrack album, because the sound mix from the movie itself was too noisy, and I just wanted the music? I'm not sure which was worse--matching Data's "la-la-la" mouth movements* (1:03) or the tadpoles jumping over Sebastian's head (1:48).

And no, I really didn't have a life. Thanks for asking.

The next summer, I went back and made more TNG music videos--for Worf, Troi, Riker, and Data. And now you can watch them all on YouTube! That playlist also includes a sixth "bonus track"--a music video I threw together, years later, of scenes from The Abyss: Special Edition set to "Under Pressure." Check 'em out if you're so inclined, and please rate and comment.

Happy Holidays!


* Lifted from his ridiculously long password in "Brothers."

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

I think it's high time you knew

Yet another blogmeme via matociquala:

Put your music player on shuffle, and write down the first line of the first twenty songs. Post the poem that results. The first line of the twenty-first song is the title.

Additional: I skipped instrumental tracks, but kept duplicate artists, since many of them were a cappella groups covering others' songs. And the twenty-second song is the title of this post.
    This savage is different to me now

    I've got a girl and Ruby is her name
    Not another drugstore not another town
    Do you have that run-down feeling?
    I'm gonna do all the things for you a girl wants a man to do

    What a fool I was, what a dominated fool
    A key in the door, a step on the floor
    Because you and I were in love
    When in the springtime of the year

    You don't have to be beautiful
    Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice
    Gotta get my old tuxedo pressed
    I feel the night explode when we're together

    Puerto Rico, you lovely island, island of tropical breezes
    I've got a theory that it's a demon
    In every heart there is a drum that beats
    The case was pulled from under the bed

    A world of cheeses, deliciously made for you and me
    Just about the time the shadows call
    Just you wait, Henry Higgins, just you wait
    Magic moments, when two hearts are caring

Thank you, iTunes 8.0.2 on Party Shuffle. Source tracks:
  • Ruby Baby (The Drifters) - The Stanford Fleet Street Singers
  • Not Another Drugstore - The Chemical Brothers
  • Jeremiah Peabody's Polyunsaturated Quick-Dissolving Fast-Acting Pleasant-Tasting Green and Purple Pills (Ray Stevens) - The Stanford Fleet Street Singers
  • I'm Gonna Make You Love Me - Diana Ross and the Supremes
  • Without You (My Fair Lady) - Julie Andrews
  • Shoe Box - Barenaked Ladies
  • Love Song - The Stanford Fleet Street Singers
  • The Mummer's Dance (Loreena McKennitt) - USC Sirens
  • Kiss (Tom Jones) - Prince
  • eleanor rigby vs in my head (mashup) - team9 vs the beatles
  • Lulu's Back In Town (Fats Waller) - The Stanford Fleet Street Singers
  • Tell It To My Heart - Taylor Dayne
  • America (West Side Story) - Marilyn Cooper, Chita Rivera, Shark Girls
  • I've Got a Theory (Once More, With Feeling) - Cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • When We Were Kings (Brian McKnight and Diana King) - Harvard Opportunes
  • Another Nail For My Heart - Squeeze
  • Cheese Roll Call (Animaniacs) - Pinky and the Brain
  • One Sweet Love - Sarah Bareilles
  • Just You Wait (My Fair Lady) - Julie Andrews
  • Magic Moments - Perry Como
  • Cup Overflowing - GrooveLily
  • Love Machine (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles) - The Richter Scales
And yes, as a matter of fact, I am a proud resident of Coverville.



Friday, November 28, 2008

A Public Service Announcement

The Dr. Horrible DVD is now available for pre-order on Amazon:

Happy Black Friday!


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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Creepy Gaiman

Three days ago, in Manchester, UK:

If you believe their blogs, Neil and Jonathan both enjoyed themselves.

I'm confident that Coulton will have similarly entertaining surprises lined up when we see him in Portland on January 24th.


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Sunday, October 19, 2008

"Whether apostrophe or inverted comma..."

"...there's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama."


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Friday, October 03, 2008

Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, the appetite may sicken, and so die

Skip ahead to 2:05 if you must. Yes, you do recognize her from Dr. Horrible; and no, you should not judge. Simply enjoy.



Monday, September 15, 2008

Automated Mashup

 Make your own at 

Let's see Coulton do that on his Zendrum.



Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ticket Master of the House

A couple of days ago, our friend Karl tipped us to the fact that Neal Stephenson would be in Portland next week, at a ticketed author event promoting his new book, Anathem. I, of course, immediately went to buy tickets for D and myself. The venue very helpfully* offered a link to buy tickets online through Ticketmaster, which I did.

HOWEVER. Can you tell me what's wrong with this picture?

Let me break it down for you. The actual tickets were only $5 each. For each ticket, there was an additional $3.90 "convenience charge," and on top of that, a $3.60 "order processing fee." Grand total: $21.40 for $10 worth of tickets. That seem right to you?

The good news is, I was able to exchange some of my American Express Membership Rewards points for these tickets, so I didn't actually have to part with any real money.

And now, for no particular reason, I will quote some lyrics from the hit musical show Les Miserables:
When it comes to fixing prices
There are lots of tricks he knows
How it all increases, all them bits and pieces
Jesus! It's amazing how it grows!


* They also kindly informed me that the ticket purchase "does not include [a] copy of the book."

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Monday, September 01, 2008


Jonathan Coulton is a fine musician and showman...

...a gentleman, who will share the stage with a lady...

...and, sometimes, a bit of a dick.


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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Grooving the Lily

Get your fill of GrooveLily songs at the band's new WordPress-based web site! If that page reminds of Jonathan Coulton's MP3 Store, well, it's a good thing. I think all musicians should post free listening samples online, and offer DRM-free downloads for purchase at a reasonable price.

In fact, that's a good strategy for any independent artist these days. Repeat after me: "The Internet is my friend. Obscurity is worse than piracy. Fans are not the enemy." All other things being equal, I am far more likely to buy your product if you treat me with respect.


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Monday, July 21, 2008

"...and it's called epMotion"

Because "boy band" is always the first thing that comes to mind when anyone says "automated pipetting."



Saturday, July 19, 2008

Stephanie Lenz, Copyright Hero

In case you haven't seen the news, Stephanie Lenz is the woman who is suing Universal Music Corp for issuing a takedown notice against this video of her kids, which happens to have Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" playing in the background:

From the San Francisco Chronicle:
The issue in Stephanie Lenz's lawsuit against Universal is whether the owner of the rights to a creative work that's being used without permission can order the Web host to remove it without first considering whether the infringement was actually a legal fair use - a small or innocuous replication that couldn't affect the market for the original work.

Lenz's lawyers, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, say her 29-second video, with fuzzy camerawork and unclear sound, was such an obvious noncommercial fair use that Universal should have to reimburse her for the costs of taking it out of circulation for more than a month last year.
Back in December of last year, when The Richter Scales' "Here Comes Another Bubble" music video also ran afoul of a YouTube takedown notice, there was a lot of hand-wringing discussion within the group about how to respond. We actually consulted with EFF and other lawyers, but in the end decided that the potential downside of inviting legal action was too big. (The video currently on YouTube is "version 1.1," with the single controversial image removed.)

I'm definitely rooting for Lenz and EFF in this case. While the nuances are different from the "Bubble" situation, the basic premise is the same: the DMCA and other copyright laws are routinely abused, "fair use" is not well defined, and all of that needs to change.


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The Last of Dr. Horrible...FOR NOW

All three parts of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog are now online! Watch it for free and risk slashdotting their site again, or buy it from iTunes for a paltry four dollars. C'mon, skip the Starbucks for one day and do the right thing.

Just in case you've been living under a rock and have no idea what I'm talking about, I refer you to Penny Arcade's Tycho, who describes Dr. Horrible as "a supervillain musical written by Joss Whedon, starring a bunch of awesome motherfuckers. Why are you still here."


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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Not Horrible At All

After being predictably slashdotted this morning, Act I of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is once again available for your viewing (and listening) pleasure. It's quite delightful.

If you hate streaming video as much as I do--and, more importantly, if you want to support the artists--I encourage you to buy the complete saga (parts 2 and 3 coming later this week) for a measly $4 from iTunes.

In related news, I also ponied up for a Daily Show multi-pass today--16 new episodes for $10, no commercials, auto-downloaded, and the writers get paid. Me likey. We haven't been watching for the past few months, but has John Stewart gone a lot more gray recently, or is it just me?

So far, our TV-over-Internet experience has been pretty good. We finished watching the most recent seasons of Reaper and House, and we've got My Name is Earl cued up. We don't really have a lot of free time while we're traveling, but after we settle down in Portland I'll probably shell out for Burn Notice and The Middleman (recommended by my friend Raj).

I haven't done the math yet, but I suspect paying for individual shows will also be more economical than cable or satellite. We were paying almost $80 a month with DirecTV, including HBO and TiVo fees, and even if iTunes or Unbox season passes are $40 a pop, we wouldn't have time to watch 24 shows a year--even if we could find that many programs we liked.

It's a little annoying that we can't download Medium and probably won't be able to get True Blood in a timely manner*, but we can always wait for DVD. Or make some new friends in Portland.


* Get with the program already, HBO!

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Friday, July 11, 2008

It's Just His Name

I'm sure it's no reflection of quality. From all indications, next week's online supervillain musical Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog will be quite entertaining. But of course, with Joss Whedon, Neil Patrick Harris, and Nathan Fillion involved, how could it be otherwise?

Teaser from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog on Vimeo.

This three-part extravaganza will only be (officially) available online from next Tuesday (7/15) through Sunday (7/20). Incidentally, I also keep a separate Google Calendar to track TV shows I'm interested in--usually I just mark season premieres or special events. It's gone a bit stale since we've been on the road, without TiVo or Entertainment Weekly, but if you're interested:


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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Updated Things To Do

Because I know you're so interested (roll your eyes when you say that, pilgrim)...

I voted for the Hugo Awards at least four hours before the deadline on Monday. Yay me. I didn't have time to read all the nominees, but I got through most of the novels (I'd read two of them already) and all of the novellas and novelettes. I had also seen all of the long-form dramatic presentation nominees already. I didn't feel qualified to vote in any other categories--except Fan Writer, where I knew two of the nominees personally.

I just submitted my application for the SIE Alumni Mentor Program. So that's done. This is the first time they've done this, so I'm not sure what to expect as far as being accepted. But I figure it can't hurt to apply. It also got me to update my LinkedIn profile, which serves as my résumé these days. (Weirdness: LinkedIn seems to have removed the "self-employed" option on profiles, so I couldn't update the "aspiring screenwriter" section of my employment history without making up a company name. It feels like a bug, but I can't make myself care enough to report it.)

So, the new list (with deadlines):
  • Find and book a hotel room in/near Rapid City, SD. We're scheduled to arrive in the badlands on 7/26, for our visit to Mount Rushmore et al., and this appears to be the busy season there. D got a little overwhelmed doing legwork, so I'm taking over. Hopefully we can stay within our travel budget without compromising too much on amenities. (7/10)
  • Solve Ghost Patrol application pre-clues. It may be time to ask for a hint on these, although if GC is using them to weed out teams, they may not be very forthcoming. On the other hand, if we're already not having fun anymore... (7/18)
  • Audition for the Stanford Singer's Showcase. They want one to three mp3's of me singing, which I don't currently have since all our home computers got packed up in April. But our current hotel has pretty fast broadband, so I'm going to see if I can do a network restore from Mozy. Low priority, since the event happens in November and I plan to be busy with at least two writing projects that month. (7/20)

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

"Pork and Beans" music video

Thanks to steadof for the link. And yes, Weezer did actually get all those people into a studio to do the lip-syncing. The grand finale starting at 2:37 is pretty impressive. But I really could have done without the creepy half-human hamster face.



Monday, May 05, 2008

Go Stanford, Go Scales!

So there's a picture of me in the current issue of Stanford Magazine, accompanying a sidebar about The Richter Scales. Speaking of the Scales, they recently won a Webby Award for the viral music video "Here Comes Another Bubble," and they're performing a free concert in Palo Alto this Thursday night. If you're around, you should go check it out.

Do I miss being in the group? Sure. But I miss a lot of things about the bay area. I'm still adjusting to the whole on-the-road thing, but so far it's been a lot of fun. I just need to find some new routines to keep me grounded.



Thursday, May 01, 2008

First of May

Time to celebrate spring! But first:

I'm serious. Do NOT click the "play" button below unless you're prepared to see and hear graphic depictions of adult situations. Yes, it is just WoW machinima, but it's quite explicit. You have been warned.

Music and lyrics by Jonathan Coulton, video by Mike Spiff Booth.



Saturday, March 15, 2008

Food Court: The Musical!

The latest prank from the folks at Improv Everywhere:

Read more about it on their blog. My favorite part is the security guard, but honestly, I wish the music was a little better and the satire a little sharper.

I know the whole breaking-out-in-song thing might seem frivolous to many people, but in a well-written musical show, there are clear and compelling reasons for characters to sing instead of speak about very specific things. Meeting the girl of your dreams? Yes. Dry cleaning? Not so much. You don't just add another song because it's been ten minutes since the last one. Well, maybe sometimes that's okay.


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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Not Safe For Work

Actually, this probably isn't safe for most homes, either.

Brought to you by Kevin Smith and the cast of his new movie, Zack and Miri Make a Porno:

(If you're wondering where this came from, see's chronology of effing videos.)

It's too bad that Elizabeth Banks can't actually sing. I'm almost as disappointed as I was that Alyson Hannigan didn't have the pipes to do a full song in the Buffy musical episode.

And to wrap up this musical tribute to intercourse, check out Jonathan Coulton's springtime anthem "First of May", which you can download for free. Because, as you know, the best things in life are free. And you can give them to the birds and bees.


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Monday, February 04, 2008

I am a Twelve-Year-Old Girl

No, this is not an Internet-dog-joke variant. I'm just very much in touch with my inner tween.

Consider: Of my wife and myself, I am the one who wanted to go see Enchanted in the theatre. I am also the one who sat through all three hours of MTV's broadcast of Legally Blonde: The Musical. And enjoyed most of it. (D sat down for a little while, but had to leave during "Gay or European," after giving me her trademark "What the hell are you watching?" look.)

I even teared up at the end of the cut-rate ABC TV version of Annie--you know, the crazy 1999 production with that stupid "NYC" song and in which Annie doesn't actually sing "Tomorrow." Like I said, crazy. But worth watching for Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth alone.

Anyway. How cool is it that three out of five of this year's Best Original Song nominees are from Enchanted? I mean, okay, it's not really fair to put The Frames up against the guys who did The Little Mermaid and Wicked, but you can't argue with quality.

And I am curious about, but mostly dreading, the musical version of Time After Time, a sequel to H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. Unless they go wacky and include a dancing Morlock kick-line. That might be worth seeing.


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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Goodbye to Google

(Pop quiz: Does the title of this post make you think of the Carpenters' "Goodbye to Love," Michelle Branch's "Goodbye to You," or another song? Leave your answer in a comment below!)

After more than four years, Friday was my last day at the 'plex. My feelings about leaving mirror Nathan Stoll's and Kevin Fox's. I still believe it's a great place to work, but it's time for me to try something completely different. More on that later.

Unlike some other bloggers, I've purposefully avoided mentioning my employer or talking much about work. That was not to be coy or mysterious; if you care at all, you can find my complete employment history on LinkedIn. It was just my way of avoiding any perceived or actual impropriety with respect to the disclosure of company information. Now that I'm no longer an employee, it will be less of a concern, but don't expect this place to suddenly become all-Google-all-the-time. It's a great company, but it was never my life.

So what am I doing now? I'm taking the next three years off to do some writing. D and I are planning to move up to Portland later this year, where most things are a heck of a lot cheaper than here in the bay area, and I'm applying to Clarion. We're also going to do some traveling. You'll be able to read all about it right here on the HotSheet.

You might think I'm crazy to walk away from such an insanely successful company, but I've been working in Silicon Valley for twelve years, and this was never what I really wanted to do with my life. It's just something I happened to be passably good at, at a time when people were paying well for those skills. Now that I have the opportunity to chase my dreams, I'd be crazy not to go for it.

I'll end with this bit of NSFW philosophy from xkcd:

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Ich bin ein bassist?

It may just be a faulty translation, but I'm amused that the Vanksen|Culture-buzz blog calls me a "bassist" for The Richter Scales. The post is, of course, about our wildly popular "Here Comes Another Bubble" music video--over 600,000 views on YouTube and counting!

In other news, my friend Jeff bemoans the similarity of his name to many others on LinkedIn. This inspired me to do a Google search for my own name, which showed up on a list of Sergey Brin's favorite books. Who knew?

The "professional 'headline'" on my LinkedIn profile is Polymath. I didn't choose that just to use obscure teminology, or to show off my vocabulary; it really is what I aspire to be. And none of the possible synonyms has the right connotation: "Renaissance Man" is a bit of a cliche thanks to overuse, and the even more esoteric "Homo universalis" is just asking for a beatdown.

I will be the first to admit that I'm not the best at anything I do. I'm not the best singer in the Richter Scales; I'm not the best writer in any forum; I'm not the best programmer at work. But I will argue that I am more well-rounded than many other people--and the distinction is that I don't just like a lot of different things, I do a lot of different things.

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

13 Years Over, to be Exact

My hand stamp from tonight's They Might Be Giants concert at The Fillmore. They are getting more like a "normal" band as they age, and I do miss the days when it was just two Johns and a bunch of electronics, but they still put on a great show.

D and I also saw In the Shadow of the Moon earlier today. It's a great documentary, even if you already know the Apollo program inside and out; it's not so much about giving new information as it is about seeing and hearing the astronauts themselves talk about it.

I was born after the last humans walked on the Moon, and I'm hoping I don't die before we go back.

Posted by Picasa

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Advantage: Amazon

Earlier this week, launched their MP3 Music Store. In the three days since then, I've bought two complete albums from them--that's as many as I've ever bought from the iTunes Store, in more than three years. And I'm going to end up buying a lot more music from Amazon. You know why? Because they don't treat me like a criminal.

I hate DRM. I hated it when I first succumbed to the lure of the iTunes Store (convenient! fast!), but I had a good reason--I just couldn't wait to get the Avenue Q soundtrack. Note that I also bought the physical CD later, from Amazon, because I wanted a copy of the music that I could easily transfer to other devices later.

I hate that I can't burn more than seven copies of an iTunes-purchased song to a mix CD. I also hate that iTunes slaps me in the face with a pop-up dialog after the first few copies, but primarily, I hate the arbitrary restrictions.

Like this one: I can't "authorize" more than five computers at a time for my iTunes account, and I can only reset the list once per year. Why does Apple care how many computers I have? More to the point, if I have a dozen different machines, why doesn't Apple want me to use iTunes on all of them? Shouldn't they make it easier, not harder, for me to buy their stuff? Do they want my business or not?

Back in 2000, publisher Jim Baen started the Baen Free Library, a web site featuring free downloads of complete novels by various science fiction and fantasy authors. One of those authors, Eric Flint, wrote the introduction on the home page. An excerpt:
I'm not worried about [piracy], however, basically for two reasons.

The first is a simple truth which Jim Baen is fond of pointing out: most people would rather be honest than dishonest.

He's absolutely right about that. One of the things about the online debate over e-piracy that particularly galled me was the blithe assumption by some of my opponents that the human race is a pack of slavering would-be thieves held (barely) in check by the fear of prison sentences...

The only time that mass scale petty thievery becomes a problem is when the perception spreads, among broad layers of the population, that a given product is priced artificially high due to monopolistic practices and/or draconian legislation designed to protect those practices. But so long as the "gap" between the price of a legal product and a stolen one remains both small and, in the eyes of most people, a legitimate cost rather than gouging, 99% of them will prefer the legal product.
I've probably quoted this bit before, and I'm sure I'll do it again. It's a great argument against the very principle of DRM, and I wish it would get more play in the mainstream media.

The "price" of buying music in a digital format--whether it's MP3, OGG, or (preferably unprotected) AAC--includes ease of use. The whole point of having an MP3 collection is that it's easier to manage than a CD collection--easier to make copies for backup purposes or for sharing with friends, easier to search for specific songs and make playlists.

And the people who want to do all those things love music. We're not Sunday listeners; we're walking around with iPods and blogging about our favorite bands. We respect the people who make music, and we don't want to steal from them.

Amazon is doing more than offering a great new service; they're building goodwill. I'm already happy to fork over $80 a year for "Amazon Prime" (free 2-day shipping on most items), and in a world where brand loyalty is getting rarer every day, that's saying a lot. I trust them. And I like that they trust me.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

"Mandelbrot Set" Music Video

"This next one is a song about math. [crowd cheers] Wow, this is probably the only place in the world where that would get applause."
- Jonathan Coulton at PAX

(You can hear the complete song at Coulton's web site.)

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Flight of the Bowie

Okay, so I'm a few weeks behind, but I watched the "Bowie" episode of Flight of the Conchords last night, and musically, it's brilliant. Even better than the guest appearance by the man himself on Extras last year, I'd say.

And it really works because they don't even attempt to explain why David Bowie (well, their version of him, anyway) shows up in the episode. Bowie exists in a reality unto himself, and that's part of the joke. Total genius.

Here's Bret dreaming about "1976 David Bowie, from the Ziggy Stardust tour:"

And here's the first part of the absolutely fabulous "Bowie's In Space" music video:

My only complaint about the series is that outside of the songs, the comedy tends to be a little too broad. The gender role reversal in "Girlfriends" was hilarious, but the main characters--Jermaine, Bret, and band manager Murray--are played as complete idiots who wouldn't survive a New York minute in the real world. I don't mind that they're clueless, or naively child-like, but being so utterly vacant is starting to break the fourth wall for me.

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Monday, April 30, 2007

I Am Not Stalking John Scalzi

So what if I happened to attend his talk at Google last Friday, and also wandered into his panel at the Festival of Books on Sunday? You can't prove nothin'.

While we were down in Los Angeles, D and I also saw Sleeping Beauty Wakes, the new musical co-written and performed by members of GrooveLily along with speaking and deaf actors. It's a fantastic show, and if you happen to be in that neighborhood in the next couple of weeks, you should definitely go.


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Monday, March 26, 2007

"It's Raining 300 Men"

I love video mash-ups.

Speaking of 300, over at Kung Fu Monkey, screenwriter John Rogers has an interesting perspective on the arguably "anti-American" sentiments that keep popping up in the movie--the relevant post is subtitled "Why does King Leonidas hate Private Ryan?" Provocative stuff.

Personally, I'm happy to accept 300 as the lighthearted romp that it is. Sure, it wants to be all macho and loaded with gravitas and artfully-story-within-a-story, but there just isn't that much there. It gets the job done, but apart from the visual effects--which are absolutely stunning--doesn't break any new ground in the narrative department. Nothing wrong with that, but don't make it out to be more than it is.

I'm hoping the director, Zack Snyder, digs a little deeper with his next project: the also-often-declared-unfilmable Watchmen. Drool.


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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Just Like Elvis

Full disclosure: I am, in general, not a fan of hip-hop, rap, or R&B. Every now and then a song will come along that I enjoy, but overall, those particular musical genres don't appeal to me.

It is, then, perhaps not surprising that I should find whiter-than-white covers of classic rap songs more amusing than others might.

(Why am I writing like this? Because I just watched several hours of Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry being veddy British in Jeeves and Wooster. Good stuff, what!)

I discovered Jonathan Coulton earlier this month, thanks to Dr. Demento opening a recent show with Coulton's cover of "Baby Got Back" (requires Flash). And today, after perusing The Torontoist's much-blogged-about article on cover songs, I found Nina Gordon's acoustic "Straight Out of Compton" (2.1MB mp3). Both are brilliant. Note, however, that the latter contains explicit lyrics and frequent droppings of "the F-bomb," and the former trades in graphic euphemisms for a myriad of sexual acts. You may not wish to "pump up the volume" on these tunes while in the company of young children or co-workers.

(The other reason I'm writing like this is because I'm currently reading John Hodgman's The Areas of My Expertise. He is insane-- but in a good way, and thus we prefer to call him "mad.")

Speaking of the royal "we," I simply must link to John Rogers' agent's account of the Royal Premiere of Casino Royale (a.k.a. James Bond 21). If you've seen the movie, you can probably guess the central, er, nugget of his anecdote.



Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Yellow Rose of Democracy

Here's your head-trip for the day: the last song in the They Might Be Giants Podcast 9A is an anthem for the Democratic Party, sung by a men's chorus to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas."

I'm sure I don't have to spell out the irony for you.

The recording quality sounds like something from the early 20th century, so I don't feel bad about transcribing the lyrics here:
Oh, the Democratic Party
is for you and you and you
it works for all the people
and not for just a few

For(?) the barman in the city
for the big man and the small
oh, the Democratic Party
is the only one for all

From the north and south
from east and west we come
Singing the donkey's(?) serenade
c'mon and beat that drum

We'll march along together
and on Election Day
we're voting Democratic
'cause we're voting for the U.S.A.!