Monday, August 31, 2009

Karen O and Where the Wild Things Are

Like I needed another reason to take my kids to see this movie, now the soundtrack music is starting to be released and it's sounding great. Very cool. You never know what Spike Jonze will do, but it is usually entertaining(and odd).

Friday, August 28, 2009

Today's dispatch from the Ivory Tower

Comes from the Lexington Herald Leader's Tom Eblen, regarding the Newtown Pike Extension project.  According to Eblen, fellow Ivory Tower dwellers, Graham and Clive Pohl "sounded the alarm" about above ground utilities that were to be placed in the area.  Whew!  That was close!  This project almost got started!  SOUND THE ALARM!!!!!!!
I support the idea of burying utility lines, in the general "yeah thats a good idea" sort of way.  I also appreciate the TREMENDOUS cost associated with burying certain types of lines, and in certain places it just not being feasible. That's called having a basis in reality, otherwise known as something not to be concerned with when opining from the Ivory Tower.
If kudos are in order for all the elected officials who made this happen, and in all likelihood are the same ones that shot the idea down when it was recommended by some poor engineer in a meeting 10 years ago, then fine, give them their positive press they so fervently seek.  But let's talk about the practical impact of making changes to a Federal Highway project at this stage of the game.
When you make changes to a project as complicated as the Newtown Pike Extension, you affect funding from every level of government.  You affect environmental impact statements that take months to re-approve, you affect right-of-way needs that could seriously impact road alignments and property buyouts.   Just deciding to bury utility lines can have a tremendous ripple effect through the entire project.  There are politicians already who have had about enough of funding this project and many more delays could jeapardize the whole thing.  When it takes too long to get some results on the ground that they can take credit for, suddenly their support can shift to something more immediate.  This project deserves to be done now.  The time for line-item changes is way in the past.
You see, what royally pisses me off about Statler and Waldorf sounding off from the peanut gallery is that there are currently a few dozen people living in trailers down in Davis Bottom.  They've been yanked and pulled and cajoled by officials for decades about this project.  They've given up their homes, some without floors and proper plumbing to go along for the ride.  They deserve to get what they've been promised, because I swear to you, they live in The Land that Time Forgot. They don't have lawyers looking out for their interests, and in most cases they don't have politicians doing that either.  The vast majority of Lexington doesn't know that little area even exists.  Nor are many people aware of just how much work has been done to accomodate these folks.  This is way more than just a highway project.  I don't support any changes that put this project at risk, whether it is utility lines or gorgeous new overpasses that span Manchester St.  It's time to build the damn road, and get the residents of Davis Bottom back into their homes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ball and Biscuit

This is my favorite rock song. Ever. Since 2003, I don't think I've ever cut this seven minute song off early when it comes up on my iPod in my car. I can't explain why I love it, the lyrics are simple to a fault, but the tune has a certain something that makes me want to turn my car stereo up as loud as it will go and roll the windows down.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Brendan Benson, "A Whole Lot Better"

My friend posted this on his blog and I feel the need to repost it and talk about how much I love the album, so first things first:

So, this is just track 1 from an incredible album. It does actually get even better than that. This is his fourth release, and three days ago I had a draft of this post that placed the album as his third best well behind Lapalco and barely behindAlternative to Love. Today...well, I'm not so sure, and who cares anyway. A great top to bottom album comes along so rarely, in my opinion, that it's counter-productive to waste time trying to rank it. Just buy the entire album.

From the bastion of classical conservativism comes....

...a call for new and improved regulation of the telecoms.  Or as he calls it, a new National Data Policy, not just voice.
Sarcasm aside (even the delicious irony that it was penned by a hedge fund manager), the guy makes some incredibly strong points, not the least of which is that the whole darn system needs to basically be Open Source technology, and the government's role should be to protect the bandwidth from those that seek to claim it as their own.
Even better, the article takes note that these policies don't just relate to our Cell providers, but to our cable tv and other digital media content providers.  While overstating the value of a la carte pricing to consumers, he does make a viable argument that competition in this realm will provide de facto Net Neutrality. 
On the other hand, ending municipal exclusivity for cable TV might enhance competition, but it also creates one giant problem.  Who in the hell wants to lay all the new infrastructure and make all those improvements if they don't have a guarantee that they will even be in business after they finish.  Or to put it more succinctly, why should a company that provided no improvements get to profit off the company that did.  We know where this is leading, don't we?  The feds will have to subsidize the cost of replacing the aging digital infrastructure so that there can be competition on the services side. I wonder if they will be any better at it than they are at upgrading our traditional infrastructure.
The author does correctly point out that what all media companies want is the ability to own the delivery system, or The Pipe as it is known.  Lets take two examples:
AT&T text messaging:  They own their network, so by charging $.20 a message, a galactically rediculous price per byte, they actually sweeten the pot by offering only a slightly less absurd price of $5.00 for 200.  You are getting robbed blind under the former, and only ripped off under the latter.  But what choice do you have, right?  They own the method of sending the message.  The price is arbitrary with no cost basis to even consider.  It's AT&T's network, unlike:
Sending an email via Insight Broadband:  Insight is my internet provider.  I pay for the ability to access the WWW via their technology.  THEY DO NOT OWN THE PIPE.  The internet itself is free.  The only cost is admission.  You know why there is no cost to send a single email?  Because I don't need Insight in order to send it.  I can change to any number of providers that can hook me up to the same WWW that Insight gives me access to.  The same network carries every email sent from all over the world.  At least for now, no one controls the flow of information on the internet.
I like the author's overall point that a paradigm shift is or has occurred in how we need to regulate these public utilities (which is what they really are). Maybe after Obama is done reinvinting health care, he can tackle AT&T ripping me off month after month.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Springs Inn coming down?

So, on my way home from work yesterday I noticed the trailer unloading heavy equipment at the long closed Springs Inn, and on the way home today I took a detour down Mitchell Ave. to see that the demolition on at least a portion of the Springs Inn had started.

I suppose it's days have been numbered for some time now. From what I remember, it had been closed for the better part of a year. Keeping a site that size free from trespassers and in presentable shape for sale has to be very difficult. Liability on vacant commercial property has to be a concern for the owners as well. In other words, if I owned that property, I'd tear it down too. Sentimentality on this topic is a luxury reserved for those with no basis in reality.

I made a quick phone call to the City's Division of Building Inspection to see if the owners planned to tear the whole site down, or just the smaller building on Mitchell Ave. that I saw being torn down. It appears their intention is to demolish the entire site, but that Historic Preservation is getting time to document the old hotel/motel due to its age. Good for them.

The real question is what happens next. There are now two large tracts of land on Harrodsburg Rd. inside New Circle awaiting redevelopment. The majority of Turfland Mall property has been vacant for years, owned by a real estate giant in New York who seems content to let the property rot. What type of development belongs on these sites? Will it occur quickly or will these sites sit vacant for a decade like the Lexington Mall property? I don't know, but I suspect it will be quite some time before we see serious redevelopment of these suburban sites. Here's to hoping I'm wrong.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It Might Get Loud

I took this picture from the 6th row of a show at the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis in September 2005.

As a certified Jack White fanboy, with no pretension of objectivity, I can say that the fall movie I most want to see is the documentary It Might Get Loud. Of course, it is coming nowhere near Lexington according to that link, and I may have to find a reason to take a trip to Columbus.

I won't claim Jack White is the best guitarist of my generation, but he's definitely the one I most enjoy listening to. As a friend of mine has pointed out before, White may not be the best songwriter in his own collaboration project, but there is no denying his ability to play the guitar. And played live, its the most incredible music I've ever seen or heard.

I don't particularly care for U2, but like any rock music fan, I had my Led Zeppelin phase as a teenager. That period where you discover how great classic rock is, and how much greater it is when you play it louder. I find the idea of a documentary featuring White and Jimmy Page fascinating and even worth a 2 hour drive to see.

Semi-related side note: I didn't make it to CD Central today to get my copy of Brendan Benson's new album, but I plan to take care of that on Wednesday. I tried my hardest not to listen to it early on the internet, but I cracked and streamed half of it on It's not Lapalco, but it sounded every bit as strong as Alternative to Love and that is quite a statement. All zero of my readers, go buy it, and play it loud.

Chuck E. Cheese time!

On of our foster kids turned 5 on Sunday, and last night we had his party at Chuck E. Cheese.  Since he came to our house in April, he's asked if he could have a party there, so being the giant pushovers that we are, we gave in.  I should add first off, Ky. Cabinet for Children is pretty explicit about their kids being online.  We can't show pictures, mention even their first names or obviously talk about their specific situations.  Otherwise, I'd have some pictures up here from last night.
I can remember as a kid wanting to go there all the time, and I think my folks took me once, possibly twice.  I never could imagine why they wouldn't want to go as badly as I did.  I mean, what's not to like?  Well, I'm fully aware now.  I thought seriously about writing a whine-fest about how bad it was.  I mean, the draft is sitting here staring at me.  But the truth is, the kids had an absolute blast.  The four kids who were of game playing age and their cousin had so much fun that I can put aside how much it set me back.  We made it pretty clear, each of them can have ONE Chuck E. Cheese party.  No more.  The clear loophole in this plan is that if I apply it every kid we take through the foster care system, I'll be going to this rat hole (pun intended) the rest of my life.  The things we choose to endure for our kids!
Also, you know that game where you put in tokens and they fall down and push other tokens onto the next layer and so on until hopefully some fall into the receptacle at the bottom?  If that were a slot machine in Vegas, I'd have lost my house last night.  My wife actually tries to keep me from seeing those games at these arcades.  I was chain feeding that thing tokens, I'm sure I looked like Gollum holding The One ring. 

Monday, August 17, 2009

District 9

I went to see District 9 this weekend. Having been annoyed in the past with some "documentary" shot movies, I had low expectations for the cinematography and absurdly high expectations for the story. The whole handheld camera thing works for Borat and makes me want to vomit in a movie like Cloverfield. Luckily, District 9 didn't use that device throughout, instead using it to set the story in the beginning and with some "interviews" within the movie that serve to move the story along. On that front, I was pleasantly surprised.

As for the story, my expectations may have been too high, though I don't want to imply it was bad at all. It was very good, and by modern sci-fi standards it was spectacular, just not as great as I had hoped. The mojority of sci-fi movies resort to B-movie horror tricks and gore and leave the literary sci-fi qualities about sociecty and humanity out altogether. In fact, this was the best told original sci-fi story since Firefly/Serenity. The movie did a really great job humanizing the aliens, and paid more than lip service to the idea that humanity at least initially wanted to do the right things. It made clear parallels to immigrants and refugees without being in-your-face about it. That's a credit to the filmmakers. Towards the end it became a bit of a blow 'em up fest, but nothing too egregious that would undo what it had built up. Also, Blomkamp did a nice job keeping the movie moving, it never got dull (your mileage may vary on that point) and he did well in keeping the movie under 2 hours.

I know I read somewhere before the weekend that the movie was made for around $30 million, which just seems implausible to me. If it cost $200 million to make freaking Waterworld, how in the world did they make District 9 for a fraction of that? Maybe the cost of CGI has dropped considerably in the last decade. Kudos to Peter Jackson and Neill Blomkamp for making a good movie, rich in story, and not a CGI budget-buster that is largely unwatchable (I'm looking at you George Lucas).

Everytime I see a good original sci-fi movie, I always hope that it means there is a movement to adapt some of the literary classics to the big screen. Maybe they just don't work well in movie form like high fantasy does. So far, nobody seems willing to tackle something like The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and the in-your-face statements it makes about human beings. I suppose I'd prefer those works be left alone if they can't be done well. We don't need anymore Starship Trooper debacles.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Dame lost her magic

I can understand Nick Sprouse's comment in this article that something about The Dame's relocation just didn't transfer with it. Buildings and old haunts create an ambiance and character for a business. Moving the furniture doesn't bring that along for the ride. It's a shame, really. The original Dame had something going for it. The booking was consistently good. The prices were fair to darn near cheap in most cases.

Looking forward, just as something unexplained happened to The Dame, something is happening in Lexington that indicates the times are changing when it comes to nightlife and our music scene. I'm now too old and tired to follow it with the zeal I had in college, but I work in a capacity that allows me to see these shifts. Buster's WILL be the new Dame (the original Dame, not the relocated shell of it's former self). And the Manchester St. corridor will become Lexington's premier entertainment and arts area. It's coming folks. In the next 3 years, as the economy recovers, development of the Angliana and Manchester corridors will change downtown. There may even be a few surprises.

Don't listen to all the people that tell you how busted and broken Lexington is. It's a great city and it might be behind the curve in some areas, but it will catch up quickly. I'm bullish on my hometown, and the negativity irks me greatly.

What's an apology without a little groveling?

I'm a pretty big college basketball fan, specifically, a UK basketball fan. We're pretty obnixious, by any measurable standard of obnoxiousness. We're up there with Notre Dame and Alabama Football fans. We make full use of our constitutional rights to be uninformed homers and speak out as such. You can get a great deal of unanimity out of UK fans on quite a few topics: Duke sucks, Gillispie was a bad idea, Vitale loves Duke, Vitale loves Ashley Judd...but not enough to love UK more than Duke, and losing to Louisville is grounds for dismissal. One thing UK fans I know generally don't agree on is Rick Pitino.

There are two schools of thought that I see most often:

Thanks for the Final Fours, bringing us back from NCAA hell, and we'll always appreciate you.



For this UK fan, watching the disintegration of Rick Pitino's legacy is bittersweet. I always fell into the first camp of people who thoroughly enjoyed the Pitino era and could live just fine knowing he coached at Louisville. But I want him to lose. Every game. But it's not because he's coaching our rival, it's because he deserves it.

Pitino's acts of hubris don't just include banging a groupie in a restaurant. They include leaving UK for the Celtics. His arrogance and pride led him to believe his talent was so great as to overcome any obstacle that professional ballplayers might toss his way. They include years of rumors of being a philanderer yet telling people how to be winners in life. That type of arrogance deserves a fall from grace.

Which gets me to my title of the post. His public apology was yet another act of hubris. He spoke of 9/11 and HIS loss. He spoke of HIS most recent team's success. He had to remind us all just how great he is, because self-promotion and being a showman is ingrained in his DNA. Oh sure, he apologized. You don't earn points with me for doing the obvious right thing. A little groveling would have gone a long way. A little self-flagellation in the form of a break, leave of absence or resigning would have been a much more appropriate way to express true remorse.

The bittersweet part is that I didn't really want his fall from grace to be this extreme. Like I stated, I wanted him to lose games, lose stature as a coach and get an ego check from Calipari every year. I certainly don't wish this level of pain on a human being. He may deserve it, but my schadenfreude has limits, unlike Pitino's ego.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Who am I?

For one, I'm someone who hates it when someone asks a question and then answers it. I notice it all the time on television interviews and it just kills my wife and I. Clearly, I'm a hypocrite as my first 3 posts have fit this description. I need to be more original in my blog post titles. I'm new at this, gimme a break. Yeah and I need pictures and links scattered about too. I'll get there.

To the point, I am:

  • 30 years old
  • Married to a wonderful woman
  • Have 2 children...(wait for it...)
  • and 3 foster children currently.
  • have a job I love but stresses me out at least 3 times a week.
  • neurotic about too much personal info on the web, so I'll gingerly divulge more info as I ease into this
The stuff I like to call interests that take place after putting 5 kids to bed include:
  • reading history and general non-fiction. Occasionally Sci-Fi will hook me again, but it comes in spurts. Currently reading: The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes
  • Netflix. Top 5 inventions ever: Sliced Bread, The Wheel, Fire, 2 in 1 Shampoo, and Netflix.
  • Music. I'm sure we'll be talking about this in the time to come, so I won't spoil it for you by divulging my tastes now. Pandora might be the 6th best invention ever.
  • Hiking, camping, backpacking and in general seeing the world you don't see everyday.
  • UK sports. Well, Basketball and Football.
Now, my family and kids don't fall under "interests", which I know would dismay my wife. We've discussed this before. They are MY LIFE. Things I'd die for don't get to go under a heading of things I label as "interests". I live for watching my 4 year old son play Tee-Ball or my 9 year old daughter nail her back-handspring. I don't live for a new red envelope in the mailbox. Pay no attention to the squeal of joy that came out when Gran Torino finally arrived. It was nothing more than the utter shock of finally being chosen by the Red Envelope deity.

Anyway, these are topics I'll almost always be talking about. That and my rants based on things I read daily.

Just what the world needs, right?

Another idiot blathering about whatever popped into his head on his drive to work that morning. The problem with having an opinion on everything and precious few people who care to hear them, is that you end up feeling like you need an outlet to let a load off.

I've recently (actually it was last November but it feels recent) kicked a pretty nasty World of Warcraft habit, and lo and behold, the time left on my hands has allowed me to do a lot more reading and general catching up on the world I am actually living in. I started reading blogs that didn't pertain to gaming or more specifically why Resto Shamans suck in arenas. My love affair with good movies and music has been rekindled, and I feel like I've got quit a bit to talk no one in particular.

I don't plan on stating any desire or goal to post daily, weekly, on gibbous moons or any other schedule. Let's just see what happens here and what potpourri of topics we can touch on.
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