Archive | December, 2012
28 Dec

Mining the cellar of the information superhighway uncovers echoes of some former media—archaic but longer lasting than what we produce today.

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Somewhere in Portland, there’s a very old building, and that very old building has a very, very old basement. An incredible basement, a video-game-level basement, a set-decorator’s dream basement.

And when you walk past the janitors office, with the wonderfully decked halls…

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And tromp down a sunken hallway…

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You find a old room. Mostly empty, dusty, and dead quiet.

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And then you start to look closer at the walls.

And you start to see things.

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(You see that Brown didn’t often pay his dime for coffee.)

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(You see that a lot of calculation was done right on the wall.)

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(You see that World War I was front and center on everyone’s mind.)

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(You wonder what was being tallied, and if it was better to win or lose.)

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(And you learn the tongue-in-check “rules” of the room.)

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And eventually, you crawl behind a corner, and discover a bundle of conduit.

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Conduit for…

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Can’t Sleep? 20 Topics for Insomniacs to Stew On

27 Dec

Insomnia

Sometimes it’s hard to sleep, even during the tryptophan-filled holidays. If you’re suffering from insomnia, here are 20 topics that might interest you—or sound familiar. Use ‘em if you need ‘em.

  1. Since I’m awake, better be effective: What would I buy if I had a million dollars?
  2. What is wrong with the Lakers? And why do I care?
  3. Shouldn’t have napped this afternoon.
  4. How did Noah keep all those carnivores from wreaking havoc in the antelope compartment?
  5. Of course! Why didn’t I see it before? All those aging heavy metal rock stars wear their iconic hats/bandanas to hide male-pattern baldness!
  6. If I’m going to be up this late anyway, I should have watched the complete Lord of the Rings trilogy instead of one episode of Downton Abbey.
  7. Other side of pillow isn’t cool yet.
  8. If I was in my grave, I wonder if I could spin all the way around without touching the casket lid. I think I’ll try a tight spin right now just for practice. 
  9. Since I’m up, maybe I should go write sincere thank-you letters to close friends and relatives who have supported me throughout my life… or perhaps just play some stupid games on Facebook until dawn.
  10. Is that noise a burglar?
  11. If I stay up much longer, I’m gonna need a nap tomorrow.
  12. Oh that we now had here but one ten thousand of those men in England that do no work today.
  13. Is the furnace seriously going on again? I wonder if the cat is controlling it telepathically, just to run up my bill.
  14. Why are people suddenly adding apostrophes to plurals, like car’s and phone’s. I swear it’s become a national affliction.
  15. Monsters, Inc. in a frat house? How can that go anywhere good?
  16. I wonder what Winona Ryder is doing right now.
  17. Do they still sell Fruit Stripe gum?
  18. Is it “God rest, ye merry gentlemen” or “God rest ye, merry gentlemen”?
  19. How is it that Clay Aiken didn’t win American Idol?
  20. If the world ended now, would I be disappointed? Would the Lakers?

A Christmas Gift to You: Brendan Perry Videos

24 Dec

To help add peace and beauty to your holiday season, please enjoy these tremendous offerings from Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance. And don’t forget to check out their new album, Anastasis

Brendan Perry (DCD) and Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins) performing Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren” live on KEXP

Brendan Perry and his solo band performing “Spirit,” from the DCD album A Passage in Time.

Performing “Opium” from Anastasis, on DCD’s current tour. 

A live cover of Tim Buckley’s “Chase the Blues Away” set to scenes from the movie Swept from the Sea.

Performing “Don’t Fade Away,” from the DCD live album, Toward the Within

The Five Safest Places to Live

22 Dec

Seeking a trouble-free home

Every time there’s an earthquake, hurricane, flood, tornado, national election, or alien invasion, people reevaluate their lives and locations, and look around for someplace better to live and raise their families. I also went through this process recently and, like most of you, ended up looking into the employment opportunities available in Wagga Wagga, Australia. This, of course, is based on the understandable belief that nothing bad could ever happen in a place with a name like that. Alas, it was not the Eden I expected.

So for today’s post I did some research—or at least pretended to—and uncovered the five safest places to live.

New Zealand: Tons of online lists name “the land of the long, white cloud” as the safest place to live, citing low crime rates, few natural disasters, rich native culture, cool city names like Tauranga and Whangarei, a Hobbit-oriented tourist economy, and the nickname “kiwi.” Of course, these listmakers—no doubt on the take from the national tourism board—never mention New Zealand’s malevolent kias or giant wild boars, but if you stay in the cities you should be okay.

Your imagination: Granted, this locale can get pretty harrowing at times if you focus too much on the clutter in the dark recesses, but it will always be one of the most easily manageable—as long as you don’t leave the premises too often. Not only is the upkeep surprisingly inexpensive, there’s a full staff of carpenters, interior decorators, landscape architects, and even musical composers on hand to retrofit your living experience per your every whim.

Tom Bombadil’s house: This blissful location is always filled with good humor, excellent food, lovely décor, supernatural protection against ringwraiths, and the finest host and hostess you can possibly imagine. So hey! Come merry dol! derry dol! My darling!, and prance on past the Pony for an eternity of lively living.

Switzerland, early 1600s AD: I got this tip from Harry Lime (thanks, buddy!). According to dozens of unreliable websites all apparently using the same unsourceable quote, the Swiss decided to sit out the Thirty Years War plaguing Europe and spent a few decades as “‘an oasis of peace and prosperity’ (Grimmelhausen).” Brittanica.com confirms that Switzerland was a peaceful place back then (though it did not include such a conveniently descriptive phrase as Grimmelhausen’s) and notes that timekeeping was pretty popular.

International Space Station: Exclusive, quiet, superb views, zero crime, international flavor, the most technologically advanced amenities, and an outdoor experience like no other. But act fast—your investment window is closing rapidly!

Five Best Documentary Films—Yet Unmade

19 Dec

Anarchist school crossing pattern

The staff at POV recently released their list of the greatest documentary films ever made. I may not be an industry insider with decades of experience creating “greatest ever” lists, but I can still complain about theirs. So here goes: “Are you crazy?! What about Living in Emergency and Street Fight? How could you ignore Unser Taglich Brot and Etre et Avoir? These didn’t even make your top 100! But Madonna’s PR film made it in? Snobs! Cultural sycophants! Aaaaiiigh!”

Actually, I’m not really that worked up. But since agreement gives no grist to the blogosphere, I’ve compiled my list of the five best documentary films that no one has made yet. Steve James, take note.

Anarchist Island: Self-described anarchists travel the world protest circuit to disrupt organized marches, vandalize property, injure innocent bystanders, and maim law enforcement—all in the name of demonstrating how the world doesn’t need government. Anarchist Island drops 300 of these freedom fighters onto an isolated Caribbean paradise and watches them live their dream.

Grade School Bus Stop: The drama, the tears, the shifting alliances, the forgotten homework, the overwhelming tension as a seven-year-old races for the bus because, if they miss it, there’s no one to drive them to school! Don’t forget the comedy implications of dress-like-a-nerd day! The confrontation when the bus driver rips into a speeding teen who ignored the flashing stop sign. This… is real life.

The Pattern Repeats: This thrilling look into the cut-throat, artistic world of fabric design reveals the shameless favoritism, the monopolistic industry influence of fabric store powerhouses, and the creative upstarts fighting for their piece of the world fabric pie. It also seeks to answer that age-old question, “How do they get those painted-flower patterns to interconnect so seamlessly?”

The Somber Ones: You always see them standing there—unmoving, unspeaking. They haunt political statements and PR announcements, sports coverage and court findings. They are the wall of people that provide the backdrop to TV news coverage of press conferences. Often they are law enforcement, sometimes in business suits, and occasionally they appear to have just wandered in from the street looking for a bathroom. Who are these silent observers? What is their agenda? Why don’t they ever blink? And what do they want from you?

Painted Ivory: A loving cinematic ode to the much-maligned, often-forgotten backbone of the rock-n-roll music industry: the heavy metal keyboardist. Whether providing symphonic fills to add meat to the music, or synthesizing guitar solos to cover for the overly stoned frontman, these unheralded professionals are often the best musicians on the stage. But without the prop of a guitar or mic stand, they struggle to overcome decades of rock stereotypes that make it difficult to make swishing your hair, leaping about angrily, and prancing in a sexualized manner look anything but silly.

Naughty-Naughty, North Korea—Why Can’t You Behave?

14 Dec

Naughty North KoreaSo, the North Korean leadership is in attention-getting mode again, launching their rockets and spouting off unprovoked threats about turning the world into a sea of fire. While we’ve come to expect this sort of behavior, it’s still vital that we not drop to their level—even though we Americans can get really worked up over this sort of thing. To help out, we here at Maximum Know-How have put together a list of twelve immature political responses to the North Korean rocket launch we should NOT do, even if you really want to:

  • Launch our own rocket right off their territorial waters to see how they like it.
  • Go kick around some broken down South American dictatorship to help us feel powerful.
  • Spread a nasty rumor on Facebook that Kim Jong-un prefers Rebecca Black’s “Friday” over anything Beyonce’s done.
  • Bully Netflix into “accidentally” canceling the supreme leader’s subscription.
  • Lace the country’s food aid with laxatives.
  • Dump a whole bunch of green food coloring into the Taedong river.
  • Tell them off publicly in the world press, then go back to our room and listen to angry Metallica songs until falling asleep in our clothes.
  • Call up China and tell ‘em they deserve someone better as a regional ally.
  • Order a missile system online and have it overnighted to the Midwest just to demonstrate how much wealthier we are.
  • Invade.
  • Bean the lead-off batter of their national baseball team at the next Olympics.
  • Detonate concussion bombs over Pyongyang, and then justify ourselves to the UN by saying that the North Koreans started it, plus Iran set us up to take the blame.

12 Things to Be Happy About This Christmas

13 Dec

Happy

Yesterday’s post lent support to the gloomy among us, but today’s is for the other half. If you’re the kind that insists on being happy even when surrounded by the Eeyores of the world, we here at Maximum Know-How will boost your spirits with 12 reasons to be happy this holiday season:

  1. After we topple off the fiscal cliff, you won’t be wealthy enough to be subject to tax increases for the rich.
  2. Notre Dame football is good again. (I’m sure this is making someone happy.)
  3. On this great planet of ours, at this very moment, someone, somewhere is… recycling.
  4. Palestine has been declared a state, so we should be seeing that conflict wrap up pretty quick.
  5. It’s time to watch It’s a Wonderful Life again.
  6. The Pope is on Twitter. Or at least his press team is.
  7. You’re not crouched in a muddy, icy foxhole in Germany under constant artillery barrage during the winter of 1944–45.
  8. If you enjoy singing in groups, you can join the “global chorus of condemnation” over North Korea’s missile launch.
  9. You no longer have to endure the temptation of Hostess-brand snack cakes every time you’re at the grocery store.
  10. Playing “casual games” on a cell phone has not yet been proven to cause cancer, so you’re safe with that so far.
  11. Vinyl albums are still cool.
  12. Mitt Romney got a job, so you can stop worrying about that.