Thursday, August 29, 2002

BULLSHIT
The fraud emails are hot and heavy this season. I like the detail about the Concord plane crash near Paris " that took almost the whole lives of passengers on board." So there were some partial lives remaining?

FROM THE DESK OF DR. AMBROSE EKPO
BILLS AND EXCHANGE MANAGER,
ACCESS BANK NIGERIA PLC.
36 ADESANYA STREET,
IKOYI LAGOS.
E-mail: ambroseekpo@yahoo.com

Dear Friend,
I am DR. AMBROSE EKPO, the bills and exchange manager at the foreign remittance department of ACCESS BANK NIGERIA PLC. I am writing to you following the impressive information about you through one of my friends who runs a consultancy firm in your country. He assured me of your capability and reliability to champion this business opportunity. In my department, we discovered an abandoned sum of US$25.5m TWENTY FIVE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS, in an account that belongs to one of our foreign customer that died in a concord plane crash alongside with his entire family in the year 2000 in Paris that took almost the whole lives of passengers on board. Since we got the information about his death, we have been expecting his next of kin to come over and claim his money because we cannot release it unless somebody applies for it as the next of kin or a relation to the deceased as indicated in our banking guidelines. But unfortunately, we learnt that all his supposed next of kin or relation, died along with him in the Plane crash, leaving nobody behind for the claim.

It is therefore upon this discovery that I and other officials in my department now decided to make this business proposal to you and release this money to you as the next of kin or a relation to the deceased for safety and subsequent disbursement, since nobody is coming for it and we don't want this money to go into the Bank treasury as unclaimed Bill for the Banking law and guideline here stipulates that if such money remains unclaimed after three to four years, the money will be transferred into the Banks treasury account as unclaimed fund. The request of foreigner as next of kin in this business is occasioned by the fact that the customer was a foreigner and a Burkina be cannot stand as next of kin to a foreigner. We agreed that your percentage shall by negotion with you as a foreign partner in reward for your role to realise this dream, 10% will be set aside for any expences both paties might incured in the course of the deal.Thereafter, I and my colleagues will visit your country for disbursement according to the percentages agreed upon by both paties in other words it will be subjuct to negotiation. Therefore, to enable the immediate transfer of this fund to you as arranged, you must apply first to the Bank as relations or next of kin to the deceased, indicating your names,private telephone and fax numbers for easy and effective communication and location where the money will be remitted. Upon receipt of your reply,I will send to you by fax or email the text of the application. I will not fail to bring to your notice that this transaction is a hitch free and that you should not entertain any atom of fear as all required arrangements have been made for the transfer. You should contact me immediately as soon as you receive this letter. Trusting to hear from you immediately.

Yours faithfully,

DR. AMBROSE EKPO

BILL AND EXCHANGE MANAGER.
ACCESS BANK NIGERIA PLC.

N.B. My intention of writing you through email is
Because I believe it is very confidential.

Monday, August 26, 2002

DEEP IN THE LAND OF SCHLOCK
Due to the course I'm teaching (American Independent Cinema), my DVD viewing for the past week or so has been consumed with melodramas and horror flicks from the late 50 and early 60s. I seriously considered spending a full class on the famously pathetic filmmaker Ed Wood, but after viewing Glen or Glenda and Bride of The Monster again, I realized there just isn't enough beer on campus to make those films watchable for the class. So we'll skip that and move into horror with Dementia 13 (Francis Coppola's legit debut) and the breathtakingly obscure Carnival of Souls. After that, it's on to Sexplotation!

Here's the working list so far. Suggestions?

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (56)
Dementia 13 (63) / Carnival of Souls (62)
Naked Kiss (64)
Faster Pussycat (65)
Medium Cool (69)
Coffy (73)
Boxcar Bertha (72)
Desperate Living (77)
Atomic Cafe (82)
Smithereens (82)
Brother From Another Planet (84)
Spare Me (92)
Safe (95)
Slamnation (98)
Series 7 (2000)


...

NEIGHBORHOOD RITUAL
Suburbs are strange places. I know many more of the dogs by name in my neighborhood than people. When walking Tesla in the AM, she meets, sniffs and barks at everything and I happily bend down and pet them all. I get the dog's name, but the owner rarely introduces themselves. I used to cross this line and introduce myself, but I've realized that's breaking rules. The meeting of dogs exists on a different plane than the meeting of people. People wave, say "Good Morning" and walk away. In fact, people usually try to avoid each other, which is tough as there are a half dozen of us walking dogs at the same time. We take different routes, cross the street and hide behind trees, so that our dogs don't see each other, get excited and pull to sniff or threaten to attack with barks and snarls.

We need to get organized - a neighborhood map with designatd walking timems and routes. If only I knew those people by name.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

WEEKEND FUN
Spent last Saturday at Orlando's annual Anime Festival. I rather like wandering around an event and scene that I know little about. It was costume competition time when I arrived, so the hallways of hotel were packed with teens dressed as their fave anime heros. The best was probably a girl who came as a character from Final Fantasy. But the fetish tally runs high in that scene for teenage Japanese schoolgirls, so quite a few costumes involved prim private school outfits, long striaght hair and and slightly goth makeup (if you can't be Japanese, at least look exotic, ya know?).

The best time is had in wandering the vendor booths and pondering ths stocks of CDs, most of which are labeled in Kanji, so one has to look at the pictures to determin what's inside. Being that one of my fave anime's is Lain: Serial Experiments I picked up a CD of all the dance tracks from Cyberia, the teen club in the anime. No DVDs this year as I still haven't watched everything I bought last year.

I also picked up a pair of scrolls (Lain and Cowboy BeBop), which will adorn the walls of my office as soon as I get it together.

The next best fun comes from checking out anime's in the theaters. The video game room, while interesting, smelled like one big sweaty pile of chunky white guys, all twitching and punching hand controllers with their thumbs. The artist areas hold no interest for me. It's not that I don't care, I just...well, okay, I don't care. I don't need to schmooze some guy who was a colorist for Gundam. Who gives a rat's ass? But at least I'm not walking around like that snotty little twit wearing the big button that read No, I don't want to see your shitty fan art. I'll bet he didn't get any that night.

Award for The Most Pathetic Anime Fan goes to the fat kid who sat himself down in the hall way, put his laptop on a little table and ran his dark, confused and virtually unwatchable homemade anime again and again and again on the 12" screen. Rock on, young bro. Your schtick was annoying as hell, but people don't get discovered hiding in their rooms. At least you got out among the masses and if you're lucky, maybe you hooked up with some anime hottie dressed up like a school girl. Worse things could happen, believe me.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

WORKING WORLD
I forgot how much time a full-time really takes out of one's schedule. Especially when one is somewhat responsible and trys to actually work while at the place that pays one to...uhhh...work. For the past few days, I've been more of a janitor and party planner than any of that white collar stuff I was sold on. Hopefully that will change. I don't think anyone understands why I'm lugging boxes around the editing rooms. But if they don't leave my office, I'll never have room for a desk.

The students seem a lot more interesting and happy this year, which will be great compared to the zombie-like wankers who populated my class last year. I found out 16 people have registered for my class, which is good when one considers it was created too late to be in the Course Guide and even in the web guide, it's simply listed as Special Topic instead of its proper title, American Independet Film - Post WW II (or as I like to call it Bugs, Bikers and The Blair Witch

If anyone has suggestions of great American indie films that I should show in class, feel free to send up this way. I'm particularly looking for the best 50s and 60s genre films (bikers, monsters, sexplotation, etc.). I'm thinking of starting with The Blob as it has name appeal (Steve MCQueen), it's fun and I know we have it in the library.

Operators are standing by for your suggestions.

Also, I'm experimenting with running a blog for the class (no, I'm not providing a link here). I'm curious to see if the kids get it and use it. Maybe I can start a trend.

Friday, August 16, 2002

HIGHER ED
A few days into my career as a college prof and administrator and already I'm wonder why anybody pays big bucks for the honor of attending college. What are they getting? So many of the faculty are totally burned out and classes haven't even started yet. Our first staff meeting crumbled into a shouting match between an Asst. Chair and a cranky old tenured professor and all I could do was sit there and smile, thinking in the real world, both of you guys would have been dumped long ago. The comfort for me is that - as various folksy Republicans have said - I have don't have a dog in that fight.

Conditions are curious. I'm finishing my first week but still don't have a desk, phone, chair, office or even a signed contract. They expected me to take the office of some guy who wanted the job I got, but that was more than I could stomach. I figured out how to switch things around so that he kept his space. I don't need a job where people hate me before I even give them reasons to.

Although classes haven't officially started, the campus is crowded with families dropping off their children. I feel sorry for the parents. They think their kids are about to gain the education that's going to put them ahead in the world. The kids are looking to get completely drunk for four years. Sometimes they wander into the film department office together, the parents asking about careers in film. HA! I like to recall the advice Placement Counselor Dorie Kaiser gave me upon my graduation from NYU.

Film? Who told you to major in film? There are no jobs in film. Honey, think about Wall Street.

The other amazing thing here is the absolute fear among the administration about being sued. They're always trying to protect their asses in fear that a parent will show up and threaten legal action for whatever happened to their kid. You failed him? I'll sue! You rejected his application? I'll sue! Administrator end up constructing every document given to students as a "contract", implying that since the staff handed the student a pile of papers, it's their job to read and recall all the rules and regulations and that's what will keep us from being sued.

It all sounds like the inner city elementary school where my friend taught. She would break up a fight between two kids and one kid would tell their mother The teacher hit me!. Even though this was a complete and total lie, my friend would be forced into a long, stupid process of defending herself in front of her bosses. Of course, just as if you're a guy accused of sexual harassment, there is no way to be innocent of such charges. The assumption is the accused did something to provoke the accusation. Until people themselves are falsely accused, they find it impossible to believe that other people just make up such accusations for the thrill olf victory it provides.

Other than all that, I'm actually enjoying myself. There is a mountain of silly work to get done before I get to the really interesting things for which I've been hired. I'm just going to keep my head down and do, trying very hard to avoid the interoffice struggles. Hopefully I'll contribute something useful before my contract is up for renewal in a year.

One other thing -- it's Pledge Week, so the frats are buzzing. Wouldn't it be kinda dumb fun if a 40 year old guy like me pledged a frat? How could they reject me? I'd be the only one legal to buy beer. My, my...now that there is an idea with potential.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

BLOG ROLLING
I'm proud to say another friend of mine has taken the plunge into blogdom - the Lovely Ms. Deb of Orlando has hard-wired her attitude with a need to spew and constructed Ultra Deb's Rant-O-Rama. Visit often, relax and enjoy the verbal bliss as Deb takesg apart Florida's conservative Christian right and wonders why the musical icons of her youth now look like bankers (btw - I think Adam Ant looks a lot better as a pudgy English banker than Tim Curry did following Rocky Horror).

Monday, August 12, 2002

U.S. JET FIGHTER PILOTS STAY UP TAKING UPPERS
Wow. Haven't heard about this in the US press. From the Toronto Star via Le Show.

WASHINGTON - U.S. jet fighter pilots, responsible for at least 10 deadly "friendly fire" accidents in the Afghanistan war, have regularly been given amphetamines to fly longer hours.Then when they return to base, the pilots are given sedatives by air force doctors to help them sleep, before beginning the whole cycle again on the next mission, often less than 12 hours later.
HARRY SHEARER: LE SHOW
Got the latest beta release of the Real Media Player? If so, tune into the best radio show in America - Le Show, from Harry Shearer, better known as the pipe-smoking bassist of Spinal Tap. Endlessly entertainly, politically witty and available on your computer in case - as in Orlando - your NPR affliliate is a wanky piece of crap that would rather program the insipid "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" instead of anything mildly interesting.
DIO REPLACES OZZY IN "OSBOURNES" TV CAST
"BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – In a surprise move this week, legendary rocker Ozzy Osbourne has pulled out of “The Osbournes,” the runaway hit reality TV show starring his family. Citing personal differences, exhaustion, and an allergy to dog shit, Ozzy has decamped to his family’s original estate outside Birmingham, England, and he will not appear on the show’s next season.

Faced with a last-minute cast change of major proportions, the producers of the show, and executive producer Sharon Osbourne, have looked to metal history for guidance. Enter Ronnie James Dio, Ozzy’s replacement in Black Sabbath in 1980 and a recently-divorced metal icon. “Just as Sabbath continued on with two fine albums with Ronnie, so the show will grow and thrive with the Man On the Silver Mountain at the head of the table,” gushed producer Wiffley Snidegarb at a press conference."


A joke...yes, but pretty funny too. The site from which I pulled this - Infernalcombustion.com - is way funny. Check it out.

...

YESTERDAY'S MUSIC TODAY
The current DJ on WFMU is playing a set of 80s music - Haircut 100, Bow Wow Wow, Flock of Seagulls. This stuff still sounds cool and unique in a way that Creed will never fucking understand. And my God, Annabelle remains the most smoking hot under-age singer I've ever heard.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

TOMORROW
It's always tomorrow, huh? Not a bad way to live one's life, I suppose. Tomorrow I begin a new job at the University. Point of fact, I actually started it a few days ago, but I don't have an office, a phone or even a computer, so my actual start date can wait a bit.

Tomorrow, Jake starts officially at his new school. I love the place. He's been going there during summer session and he's already picked up so much - sounding out the first letter of words, using sissors, swinging by himself on the swings. It really makes that Methodist school he went to last year like a finger painting academy.

Wait. Natalie just showed up with some sort of gel. I have to go.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

CB's BOOK ALMOST HERE
Regular Suburban Limbo fans might like to know that "The Ice Beneath You", the debut novel of CB of PA (aka: Chris Bauman) is starting to get some lovely reviews from folks besides people Chris knows personally. Check out this:

"This sterling first novel offers a study in quiet tension and contemporary social malaise...Bauman's style is terse, candid and on target with both language and circumstances. His close analysis of character motivation lends extra tension to an already suspenseful account...A war story for the new millennium."
-Publishers Weekly


Publisher's Weekly? Hot damn! And how about another:

"Coming home is never easy. When you have a guilty conscience, it's even harder. A fresh, straightforward debut that strikes just the right balance between action and recollection."
-Kirkus Reviews


You can preorder books now but to help CB earn a few extra pennies, go through his web site www.christianbauman.com Yeah, this is a shameless plug, but keep in mind I get nothing in return. If you've got something equally plugable, feel free to write.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

FOX & ASHCROFT JOIN FORCES - LOOK OUT EVIL DOERS!
This is just too weird. I love that even Republicans are saying that Ashcroft has gone too far in trying to turn everyone into a government spy. From CB in PA.

Salon.com| When neighbors attack!
"TIPS was supposed to be about reporting suspicious behavior, which would then be interpreted by the FBI or local law enforcement. Now it turns out the information is being handed to a TV program that encourages vigilantism. What will 'America's Most Wanted' do with the information?
FROM TOM TOLES VIA CHAS & TOM TOMORROW

ON BEING CONTENT
I got word today that I've been officially offered a full-time position in the film department of the local university. Yeah. It should be cool. The department chairman describes the gig as being the Chief Operating Officer of the department. Another professor described it as being the guy in charge of the equipment area. I'm sure it'll be somewhere in between. I'll push it toward my interests and I think the chairman (who's very cool), will back me up. He just wants somebody who solves problems instead of creates them. I can handle that.

This is my favorite state of being. Knowing what I'll be doing in a few weeks - and that it will be a drastic change from my current life - is perversely relaxing to me. I love the sensation. I get very calm and content about everything because nothing matters - it's all going to change soon. It's like I've eaten a lot of chocolate.

I've gotten similar feelings whenever I moved. I would set the move months in advance, clear my schedule and then delight in the drift of a life devoid of worries and obligations. The little shit like packing was never a problem for me, so I'd do all the things having a job prevented me from doing and delight in every minute of it. Similarly, whenever I take a job, I delight in the exact opposite - planning to be needed all the time, buying new clothes, closing freelance accounts. I don't have a favorite direction - to unemployment or to work - I just dig changes.

I don't even mind that I finally went to the doctor today and got a variety of medicore news. My blood work sucked - my triglycerides are over 400 - I need to lose weight, get a full stress test, get a colonoscopy, eat right (not too many fats, not too many carbs or proteins. That leaves Kale. Lots of Kale and other leafy veggies). Blah, blah, blah...whatever. I'm happy. Life's about to make a big left-hand turn and I'm driving the car.

Monday, August 05, 2002

TECHNOLOGY LIES AGAIN
I thought it was time to buy a new CD burner. Mine peaked at 4x write speed and I got burner envy thinking of those 40x babies, tossing out a 40 minute CD in a minute. So I checked them out at MacWorld a few weeks ago, spoke to friend B about her crash and burn with an EZQuest unit and settled on a LaCie 32x unit. To make sure it worked with iTunes, I went to the Apple site, checked the compatibility and actually purchased it from Apple for $211. Yeah, that was a few bucks more than other place,s but I figured Apple could use my money and it was a way to make sure it worked with Apple's software.

So I thought.

By the time I got the unit, Apple had removed it from their list of supported drives. And for good reason. iTunes 3.0 doesn't "see" that burner. My Toast software does, but the LaCie was invisible to iTunes. Fuck it all. I called Apple to try and understand, but got nowhere. I called LaCie and they basically said We don't really know what the fuck Apple does."

The LaCie guy did say something informative. I mentioned that even with Toast, I couldn't get the unit to burn any fast than 10x (using a Disc-At-Once burn, not the buffer underrun protection, which worked at 32x but required additional steps and was in the end about as fast as a 10x burn). He admitted that burning mp3s, there's no way you'll get a true 32x burn to CD. The process of converting the track from mp3 to AIFF and then burning it taxes the processors too much. He thought 8x or 10x was the best constant rate anyone could expect for mp3 to CD. Pure data could be done faster, but not music CDs.

And here's another trick - the 32x and 40x burn speed you read about is peak speed. What actually happens if the data starts burning much slower - 10x or 12x - and then speeds up as it gets closer to the edge of the disc. If you're burning data which doesn't require conversion, the burner might peak at its top speed of 40x.

I hate being lied to. I hate trusting a company only to have them deceive meet with deceptively marketed products. So I promptly returned the LaCie drive to Apple (demanding that no 10% restocking fee be charged because their software didn't support the unit they sold). I then went out and bought a 20x Yamaha CD burner for $99. It lacks the fancy plastic box surrounding other third party units. But the Yamaha is rock solid, works great with iTunes and was $100 cheaper than everything else I saw. Sometime you just have to be cheap.

BTW - Apple is really starting to piss me off with their nickle and diming of the installed base - $120 for the new operating system, another $30 for Quicktime 6, $50-$100 for .Mac services (most of which used to be free). Has the concept of free upgrades vanished forever?
REAL MUSIC NEWS
From Chris in Hoboken:

In June, after the British musical group the Planets introduced a 60-second piece of complete silence on its latest album, representatives of the estate of composer John Cage, who once wrote "4'33"" (273 seconds of silence), threatened to sue the group for ripping Cage off (but failed, said the group, to specify which 60 of the 273 seconds it thought had been pilfered). Said Mike Batt of the Planets: "Mine is a much better silent piece. I (am) able to say in one minute what (took Cage) four minutes and 33 seconds." [The Independent (London), 6-21-02]

Thursday, August 01, 2002

IT'S ABOUT TIME
Yahoo! News - Former WorldCom CFO, Controller Arrested Two former top executives of bankrupt telecommunications firm WorldCom Inc. were arrested and charged with securities fraud on Thursday for their role in the $3.85 billion accounting scandal that has rocked confidence in corporate America.