Monday, July 28, 2008

A Hippie Communist

Veronica came up to me the other day and said "Daddy, you're a hippie communist!" I asked her to repeat herself, and she did. Now, I was scratching my head wondering which one of her friends' parents had shared with her their opinion of my politics and/or lifestyle. Then she continued: "you have four legs and live in the mud!"

I'm not sure how I feel about being a hippopotamus, but at least I'm pretty sure it wasn't an adult who told her that I was. It least, I hope not.

According to Wikipedia, I am "recognizable for [my] barrel-shaped torso, enormous mouth and teeth, hairless body, stubby legs and tremendous size."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cross-Blog Information and Introductions

In order to try to avoid boring people with material they aren't interested in, I have divided my writing up into five separate blogs. The downside to this is that I have a tendency to wander from one area of interest to another over the course of a typical year, so it may look like I've dropped off the face of the earth. In case anyone is interested in following what is going on in one of my other blogs, I thought it might be useful to post this road map once in a while.

Geek Like Me Too is my general-purpose personal blog. The most recent postings are about a recent Jonathan Coulton concert in Pontiac that I attended and recorded. I have provided recordings of the show as a set of MP3 files, of interest to geeks who like music.

Geek Like Me is its predecessor, done in Blosxom, now still up only for archival purposes.

Geek Versus Guitar is about guitar playing. Recently I've recorded a few Jonathan Coulton songs myself. It will also be about learning to produce songs with my home studio.

Praise, Curse, and Recurse is about programming topics, mostly Haskell, Python, and Scheme. My free time has been devoted to other things but I will no doubt be back around to programming before too long.

The Marcella Armstrong Memorial Collection is about my family history, and the big task of scanning, restoring, preserving, and archiving family photos and documents. Of interest to any family members, but also of possible interest to people doing their own similar projects.

Tales from the Potts House: William Hope Hodgson contains information about the "Hodgecast" podcast available on iTunes, in which I record classic William Hope Hodgson novels and stories. I have more podcasts planned in both this series and possibly others in the near future.

Anyway, there it is... please join me on any of these blogs that might catch your interest. I always have far too many projects going at once!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Rest of Jonathan Coulton's Set

I have a new index page and the whole Pontiac show is now available here.

I have changed the ID3 tagging of the files slightly, and there are now zip files of both sets as well as the whole show for your download convenience. Note that I've deleted the original files and am re-uploading MP3 files as well as the new zip files as I write this, and the upload is taking a while, so it is possible you might hit the server while the file is still on its way. If so, I apologize; please try again in a few hours.

Thanks for everyone's support working on this project. I really enjoyed the show and hope you enjoy the recording. Thanks to the artists themselves for allowing distribution of their work. If you enjoy the recordings please support the artists financially and tell everyone you know about them!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Morning Light

I was not quite awake, but I liked the way the morning light looked so I snapped a picture of myself using the camera built in to my wife's MacBook. We're well past the longest day of the year. The summer goes by so quickly as I get busier and busier; every year it surprises me more. By the Fourth of July it seems almost gone.

It is also a reminder that my face doesn't look all that young anymore. There's a saying attributable to Camus about a man eventually having the face he deserves. Orwell specifies that it happens by age fifty. So here is mine.

I've got a few years to go before I hit fifty, but it's my face and apparently I deserve it. I've worked hard for both the laugh lines and for the little stress-crease in my forehead that goes away if I get away from the kids for a few days. I am hoping that when I'm fifty, more stress will roll right off my back, and I will have learned how to keep it away altogether!

Nice Index Page Requested

I'm looking for a volunteer with stronger HTML-fu than me to create a nice index page for Jonathan Coulton Live in Pontiac. Basically, it should be an index.html file to replace the default one generated by the server. What I'd like:

- A logo, preferably involving a microphone with a "beer thong." I could draw a rough sketch for someone more talented to run with. It should feature the word "BEERTHONG" in gothic type with a slash through the O and an umlaut inappropriately placed over the G. Add other unpronounceable Germanic-looking diacritical marks to taste.

- "Featuring Special Guests Paul and Storm"

- The list of songs (with links to files) including a place for me to add notes for the tracks.

- The CC logo/link to the right license.

- Since too much is never enough, even more pointless heavy-metal typography.

I will attach the logo to the files and when the set of files is complete, make a downloadable zip file for the whole "album."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Jonathan Coulton's Set, First Part

You can get the file listing directly from the server here.

I'm adding:

11. The Future Soon
12. Ikea
13. Banter about Ikea
14. Shop Vac
15. Still Alive
16. Banter about Portal
17. Banter about Code Monkey
18. Code Monkey
19. Banter about Tenori-on and My Monkey
20. My Monkey

Track 4 (by Paul and Storm) is now correctly identified as "Mother's Day Song." If you downloaded it earlier, you don't have to download it again, I just changed the ID3 tag. If you're using iTunes, just do "Get Info" and change the song name.

More to come later.

Anyone Who Takes This Seriously is Too Dumb to Vote

Personally I think this is hilarious -- it's all the Fox News slanders about Obama, in one convenient funny dose!

The New Yorker Cover

Complete with "terrorist fist jab!"

But apparently some people are pretty literal and are actually offended and hyper-ventilating about this magazine cover. Idiots!

If You Like the Concert Recording

Please consider donating to Jonathan Coulton or Paul and Storm (buy some songs, or just make a donation).


Jonathan Coulton's Donation Page

Paul and Storm's Site (as far as I could tell after 15 seconds of diligent research, they do not have a blatantly obvious "donate" button, but you could buy some songs, or a T-shirt or something). I sent them a note suggesting they add one.

That is all...

Paul and Storm, 7 More Tracks

You can get the file listing directly from the server here.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Paul and Storm, 3 Tracks Live from Pontiac

I'm in the process of extracting and mastering songs recorded at the Jonathan Coulton show in Pontiac. Here are the first few: 3 Paul and Storm tracks. I don't know if these are the "official" titles. Enjoy!

Oh, I guess that I should emphasize that the Paul and Storm tracks are rated somewhere between G and NC-17... they aren't safe for kids without parental pre-screening, or for listening at work.

1. We Are the Opening Band

2. Count to Ten

3. Nugget Man (featuring Jonathan Coulton on Backing Vocals)

More to come soon! With 3 kids I don't get a great deal of free time to work on this sort of thing so please be patient. The next batches should go faster since I'm getting back up to speed with Logic.

I did not include all the Paul and Storm banter. On the one hand, it was very funny, but on the other hand, some of it fell under "you had to be there." They opened with some dancing and lip-synching to copyrighted material, and I can't include that.

I'm trying mastering these in Logic using the Ozone plug-in. I'd welcome any constructive comments since I have not tried this particular tool set before. If I come up with some parameters that make it sound significantly better, I'll post an improved version. Also, I have not set up all the ID3 fields yet (for example, I don't know how many tracks there will be when I'm done).

Please don't hit my DreamHost server all at once. I just have a regular-guy account. If it goes under and you can't download, please try again later.

Friday, July 11, 2008

In the Style of Paul and Storm Imitating the Style of Jonathan Coulton

I'm working on a Song-Fu-like song, inspired by hearing P&S's song in JoCo's style. Mine is... in the style of P&S imitating the style of JoCo.

It's called "Replicator Night at Jonathan's Pub." It's sung like a pirate drinking song (how else?)

Note that all my content is Creative Commons, Non-commercial, attribution licensed, so if you'd like to help me finish it, please post a comment, and you are free to use it.

The chorus goes:

Oh, Misters Coulton sit at the bar,
admiring their many reflections.
And all their admirers are lined up to chat 'em up,
in a dozen different directions.

It's replicator night at Jonathan's Pub
Pitchers are only a dime
But the buckets of Miller taste exactly like
The ones you ordered last time.

And I didn't think I'd have any fun,
I was miserable, horny, alone
But by our third drink, we were all over myselves...
I think it's time all of me went on home!


[It needs a first verse!]


Peter and Meg were next in the booth
They should not have gone in together, in truth.
When they came out they looked a little unsteady.
Maybe their relationship wasn't quite ready.
He's deep in her heart, and they're joined at the hip [shouted: "literally!"]
There are three of it sharing one artichoke dip.
They've accepted this turn of events with aplomb,
Though he/she is determined to get even more bombed.
They've got fifteen arms, and eight or nine legs,
We'll all just call them all Meter and Peg.


My wife just called me on all our cell phones
We can't stay here, but we can't go to our homes...
Now I'm really confused, I'm in replicant hells
I don't think I could ever explain ourselves [shouted: "if we tried!"]
My clones are claiming that I'm not the original
They've told me I've got to be made discon-tin-ual
They're going to stuff me back in the box
as soon as I finish my bagel and lox.
They'll reverse the polarity...
Flip the big switch...
Invert my parity...
I'm starting to itch...
It's time to finish this caution-'ry story...
in fifteen seconds it's going to get gory


Because Chrysler and Buick Were Booked Solid

Last night I went with Isaac and Grace to see Jonathan Coulton perform with Paul and Storm at the Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac.

It was a great show. I was surprised how late it was before Paul & Storm took the stage (it was over an hour after doors opened, and geeks are generally very punctual, so we had a long wait). We were not quite prepared to be out so late, getting back to Ann Arbor at 1 a.m., quite a bit later than we had planned with our babysitter, and on a school/work night. It was quite hot and crowded in the venue, and my 6-month-pregnant and tired wife couldn't get a chair and wound up sitting on the floor.

But despite all that we really enjoyed the show. I had not heard Paul & Storm before and they were very funny and very good at getting the audience loosened up. Jonthan's set was great; I especially liked his extended "Mr. FancyPants" on ZenDrum (with micro-Rickroll!) and cover of "Birdhouse in your Soul." He seemed really "on" and very engaged with the audience and getting a lot of positive energy back. I think the audience response helped pull a really great performance out him.

I took my Sony digital recorder to the show. I cleared this with the venue in advance and I'm pretty sure JoCo allows people to distribute recordings for free. It is my plan to make some or all of it available, but I want to double-check with Paul & Storm and get 100% clear on what I can post (for example, Jonathan's cover songs, yes or no?) without stepping on anyone's toes. Also, P&S is a little less suited for just listening to -- it doesn't capture their lip-synching or dance moves! So maybe I would just post some excerpts of their stuff, given their permission.

These might go on my blog, or maybe I will put them in a podcast. I can't really just upload the raw recordings. They are two 24-bit, 96 KHz stereo files totalling five or six gigabytes. They need editing, and I'll need to do some massaging to get them into a manageable MP3 form.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Only minor damage around town from the storm, but the power is completely out to my office complex and everyone is gone. I don't have our build environment set up at home, and can't get a current snapshot of the code anyway, so I get an unexpected day off, it seems! Although it feels weird... and I'm not sure if this will count as one of the limited remaining vacation days I'm hoarding to use later this summer.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


I'm stuck at work (I was going to bike home) and this is bearing down on me:

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Wall-E: Now with Extra Trash!

Last night while Grace hosted a small party at our apartments, I took the kids to see Wall-E, the new Pixar film.

The graphics are astounding, the sound design amazing, and the story touching if a bit vapid and ultimately predictable. It's pretty clear to me that Pixar is making some of the best movies around these days. The only way it could have been a better movie is if it hadn't ended quite so happily. The film has a serious dystopian theme, and features images of skyscrapers built entirely from compacted cubes of trash.

The story is basically a love story between a rusty Walkman and a shiny iPod, but it's set against the backdrop of the ultimate consequences of consuming disposable consumer goods. Wait a minute, isn't Steve Jobs the guy behind Pixar? I'm a bit confused.

Appropriately enough, when we bought the tickets, I was handed three bits of freshly-minted trash: cheap, disposable Wall-E watches for the kids (the batteries are not replaceable), with a likely toxic rubbery outer skin and a tiny, tiny display, almost illegible to my 40-year-old eyes, and tiny buttons buried under the rubbery skin that are almost impossible to accurately press (even for Isaac). I'm well on my way to my own skyscraper of toxic trash! It makes me wonder if Pixar's marketing people even know what the film is about...

They also came with cards promoting a forthcoming Disney film called "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," which in an odd coincidence is set to open on my birthday. (It sounds like I must have made this up. I only wish I had). The trailer made me very happy that my grandmother, who used to own and love chihuahuas, is safely dead. I shudder to think what even exposure to the trailer would have done to her, but I can picture her stricken expression!