April 23rd, 2006


First of all ...

I got a lot of stuff to post about tonight, but I figured I'd start off by kicking myself around a bit.

As I noted a few weeks back, I went out and got a big new CD rack to try to condense the creeping mass of CDs in my office (I had a half dozen smaller racks all over the place). Well, yesterday I finally tackled the build-and-fill project for the new big rack. And, what did I discover?

Well, I found out that 2 out of the most recent 5 CDs I've ordered, I already had. Dammit.

I'm still waiting for one from Amazon ... I wonder if they would retroactively charge me for shipping (as I got the free shipping on the order) if I sent it back? I mean, I knew that I had Mutter and Sehnsucht but I totally forgot that I'd picked up Herzeleid at some point ... Amazon had a good deal on it in a combo deal with Reise, Reise, and I figured I was filling two holes in my Rammstein collection. (sigh) I guess between the free shipping and the combo discount I'd probably not be happy with them if I tried to return it.

Anybody need a copy of Rammstein's Herzeleid?

I was also looking to complete my collection of ana's music, and had totaly spaced that I'd previously bought Spool Forka Dish by her previous band, "The Blue Up?". Admittedly, I'm not out much on this (there are LOTS of copies for as little as 1¢ in Amazon's new/used area ... GO GET ONE! ... it's a superb album), but it bugs me that I forgot that I had it!

At least it was Spool Forka Dish that I got screwed up on ... I also snagged a copy of the much-harder-to-find "Cake and Eat It" on eBay, and that wasn't going for a penny, let me tell you.

I am now rather eager for LibraryThing to get "MusicThing" up and running, as in the course of filing several hundred CDs, I found perhaps a half a dozen that I didn't recall having and had seriously considered buying recently! It will be great to be able to check before pulling the trigger on any new music purchases (aside from the coolness of having my 1,000+ vinyl collection finally cataloged).

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OK ... let's get this out of the way ...

This one's been bugging me since I heard about it ... Coke, with Coffee ... fizzy coffee ... cold espresso ... what?

I, frankly, had read several very dismissive reviews about the new Coca-Cola Blak ... saying that it was too sweet, to wishy-washy, too this, too that, too little the other thing. However, then I read an_ocean_of_sky's rave on it, and I figured I had to try some.

The verdict ... it's OK. I have "issues", however, with these dinky little 8oz bottles going for two bucks ... heck, I feel like I'm getting cheated if I'm having to pay more than a quarter for a can of brand-name soda ... so I'm only considering getting a supply in of this stuff while my local grocer still has it for 10/$10.00

Honestly, I'm not looking for a new drink, I'm looking for an efficient stimulant delivery system, and it bugs me that all these "energy" drinks leave out the data about their caffeine content ... since I can get generic caffeine for 10¢ per 200mg, I want to feel like I'm getting something for the other $1.90 (which is why I like the ones that come in the big 20oz cans for the same price ... like "Lost" when I can find it at Walgreens).

Again, as far as "Blak" is concerned, I'd drink it if it were offered to me, but I can't see me seeking it out at its price point. It certainly tasted a lot better than I'd expected, but wasn't something that I couldn't live without.

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A movie ...

So, I was a busy Daddy today. The Wife was off at some workshop out in the south suburbs, so I had The Girls all day. We started off by dropping Daughter #2 at her 11am art class at the Old Town School of Folk Music (yeah, they do art too), allowing #1 and I to hang out at Starbucks for 45 minutes and get some reading done. We then collected #2, and walked a dozen blocks over to the Potbelly's to grab a quick lunch before heading across the street to see The Wild.

I was hoping to like this movie, despite its much-discussed similarities with other, perhaps better, films. It had quite an impressive voice cast, after all. Sadly, there was very little "there" there. My first reaction to the movie (well, after thinking it was cool that Iggy Pop was going to be getting some checks out of their using "Wild Child", albiet a cover version, over the closing credits) was that it seemed like there were big chunks which had been edited out at the last minute. The film ran an hour and a half, but it felt like there had been a 2-hour movie cut down to what was on the screen. A prime example of this was when the "rescue party" ended up in the sewers, and met the alligators. The alligators argue about how to get them down to Battery Park, they eventually agree, and ... fade to black ... next thing we know, it's the following morning, the alligators are totally gone/forgotten and they're on the docks looking for the lion kid. I know you can't ask for too much continuity in a animated feature, but come on! There were several other points where stuff just suddenly "appeared" which was screaming for some establishing scenes. No such luck.

As far as that big-deal voice cast ... it was mostly wasted. If you're going to use "name" voice talent in an animated feature, it really helps if the casting brings something to the characterization that wouldn't be there if one was using "generic" voices. As much as I was expecting a "Make it so!" out of Bambi's dad in Bambi II, Patrick Stewart lent a certain gravitas to the role ... I kept wondering why they bothered with paying Keifer Sutherland and Janeane Garofalo for their roles, which were so flat as to have been adequately filled by "C list" voice talent. Not that everybody was wasted here ... Jim Belushi as Benny (the squirrel) and Eddie Izzard as Nigel (the koala) were brilliant, and could pretty much each carry their own animated film. Also, William Shatner did a great scenery-chewing turn as the mad Wildebeest leader and I was able to recognize Patrick Warburton (Kruk in Emperor's New Groove) just from his voice as Shatner's character's main flunky.

Again, there were gaping holes in the "logic" of the story, but that's not necessarily a fair slam at a kiddie animation project, but, still. On the plus side, there were "continuity" elements that one would not necessarily expect (like the ship they went to Africa in having paint scrapes along its side when they were leaving, left over from a collision in the NYC harbor), which might not even have made it into a "real" movie. Also, and this was subtle, the volanic eruption towards the end of the movie looked (to me at least) as a very close homage of the one that Scientology used to have on the TV commercials for Dianetics ... I don't know what sort of "in joke" that might have been, but it did give me a chuckle.

Anyway, if you don't have kids dragging you off to the movies, this is one you can safely skip.

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NOT a quick read this time ...

OK, so here's one of those books, an exercise in intellectual calisthenics rather than something "that I wanted to read". Frankly, I'm not sure when this got into my library ... it's old enough that it could have been a hold-over from college, but it wasn't filed like that (and I don't recall it hanging around that long), but it seemed like something to "get read" at this point, so I plowed through it over the past several weeks. Raymond B. Blakney's Meister Eckhart: A Modern Translation dates to 1941, so "modern" is in the long view. It's amusing that some of the introductory commentary and footnotes make "current event" reference to the Nazis, and how they were using various elements of Germanic Mysticism to support their world-view. Obviously, this version was left as it stood back then (through evidently many printings), but you'd think that somebody at some point might have updated some of that stuff.

If you're not familiar with the name, Meister Eckhart was a 13th/14th Century German Dominican cleric, of great intellect, wide study, and personal force. According to Blakney, Eckhart seems to have been familiar with a broad range of spiritual knowledge, from the classic thinkers of ancient Greece, to Lao Tzu in China and the Upanishads in India, and he brought these threads together in his writings and sermons. Unfortunately for him, he tended to "riff" in his sermons, coming up with spontaneous "uncovered truths" which blurred the line of heresy. Also unfortunate was that he came from a region rife with "mystical heresies", and soon became the target of the Franciscans, who eventually succeeded in bringing him before the Inquisition in his 60's, leading to his eventual (although undocumented) demise.

Eckhart's ego certainly did not help in his problems with the Inquisition. The last sections of this book deal with his defense to various charges made against either his written teachings or the reports of his various sermons ... here's a sampling of how he framed his defense: "[Careful studies of his words] reveal the intellectual weakness or malice of my opponents, rather than their manifest blasphemy or even heresy ..." Yep, nothing like calling your accusers stupid and evil to grease the skids of justice!

Blakney's Meister Eckhart presents several of his early works, a couple of dozen "sermons", bits and pieces of fragmentary works and "legends" about him, and the text of his 1326 "Defense" against the Inquisition. It provides a very interesting look at a man's vision of the Divine which strongly effected many movements that followed.

Amazon's got this at its $15.00 cover price, but you can pick one up for less with their new/used vendors. While I recommend this, I recommend it specifically to those with an interest in Western mysticism and "Church History" (and I was, after all, a Religion Major, so have a background suitable to processing this stuff without too much boredom creeping in). If you're looking at a way of injecting a mystical awareness into a very Christian structure (needless to say, I would have much preferred an outright heretical version!), this might also be of interest.

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