Blog Flume

I am a multimedia designer and aspiring writer from Central Illinois who dreams of bigger things. You are entering the hub of my online world. Welcome. Make yourself at home, read some stuff, click a few things, maybe check out my online portfolio. And of course, if you enjoy your stay, please subscribe.

*NOTE* This blog occasionally contains coarse language. Please use discretion when viewing.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I can't imagine who would want to purchase this image

Hmmm . . . I've been working on a news story about a confused Alzheimer's patient swiping a huge laptop computer from the front desk at his nursing home and wandering out the door and into the corn field across the street, where he whiled away a couple of hours fondling ripe ears of corn and asking them to cough. Where on earth will I get a photo to illustrate that? Oh, here we go.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

An initial impression of the new iPod Shuffle

Just got my new iPod Shuffle yesterday at Best Buy. I've been putting it off for a while, since my 30GB iPod headphone port went kaput last year. It still works fine on my dock or when connected to anything else via USB so I just muddled through until I could take it no longer.

So after one day, here are my initial impressions of the 2GB iPod Shuffle:

God, it's small! About 3 x 3 centimeters.
The comparatively large click wheel on the front of the unit is just big enough for ease of operation, but the main operation slide-button on top is a bit tiny for my fat little sausage fingers and gnawed nails.

Speaking of function, this Shuffle offers two play modes via that sliding button on top: straight play and shuffle songs. Additionally, it does support playlists via the voice-over button in the center of the top of the unit. Yeah, I said voice-over.

At any time during playback, you can press this button and hear a familiar (if you're an Apple owner) computer-generated voice telling you the song title and artist information. Hold the button down and you will hear a list of all the playlists you have stored on the iPod. Whenever you hear the one you want, simply press the play button.

As I unboxed this thing, one impression hit me immediately: it charges via USB through its 3.5mm headphone port. First time I'd seen that. No other comment on that, other than it just being a weird sight--a short little wire with USB on one end and 3.5mm headphone on the other.

The clip on the back presents a bit of a problem. It's tough to open without punching buttons accidentally. There's not enough casing on the front to attain the leverage you need to open it unless you press on the outer ring of the click wheel.

My other gripe is regarding the earbuds packaged with the unit. These earbuds are garbage. The last two iPods I got included decent buds with foam covers. This unit's included buds really needs those foam covers because there is no traction on the buds at all--they are very prone to dislodging easily. Keep 'em as a backup, but use only as a last resort; that's my advice.

All in all, this seems to be a pretty good deal for around 40 bucks. Can't get more portable than 2.5 square inches. Can't get much more lightweight. If only it stored more than 2GB.

If you're not a real audiophile and don't mind lower bit rate music, there is an option in the iPod management screen of iTunes that will automatically resample any higher bit rate music stored on the iPod to 128 kbps. That would allow for more music storage than the 200 or so songs that you can keep on it at 320 kbps. I'm not that desperate yet. Think I'll just keep a fresh rotation going constantly.

Friday, December 3, 2010

You might scoff before you hear it, but it really is very good

Darius Rucker - Learn to Live
Five of five stars

I am personally more of a fan of classic country (1960-1990) than the contemporary stuff, but I think Learn to Live is easily one of the best modern country albums out there. Darius Rucker, former singer for soulful pop band Hootie and the Blowfish, couldn’t be a better fit for the genre. In my opinion this is another one of those must-have albums for anyone who loves music. If you love country music specifically, do not hesitate to purchase this one immediately. Every song on it is a potential hit.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A very somber and beautiful album

Neil Diamond - Dreams
Four of five stars

Neil Diamond's music has always been one of my guilty pleasures. I don't own a huge catalog of his albums but prior to this release I did have two volumes of greatest hits on CD and vinyl. Neil Diamond is one of the great singer-songwriters we have left in the 21st Century, a true legend in his own time.

Dreams is a special compilation of some of the greatest songs of the rock era, hand-chosen by Neil Diamond as the music that's personally touched him, recorded in a very honest and stripped-down fashion. Dreams is a great disc, especially if you happen to be in a reflective mood. However, if you feel like tapping your toes to "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show," this ain't your record.

Highlights for me are "Alone Again (Naturally)," originally recorded by Gilbert O'Sullivan, "Randy Newman's "Feels Like Home," the Everly Brothers' "Let It Be Me," and "Don't Forget Me," originally by Nilsson.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A long walk

The kids & I took Daisy for a long walk last night. After about 15 minutes the conversation with my five-year-old daughter turned philosophical: "Dad, why are there people? How'd they get here?"
I took a deep breath and said, "There are a lot of ideas about that, but nobody here now was around then, to know for sure. Basically there are two main ideas: either God created people in one day, or people became what they are today by very slowly changing over millions of years from apes to apelike people to caveman-type people and eventually to us."
My eight-year-old son interrupted: "The first one is right. God created everybody. At least all Americans, but not people from other countries." D'oh! It was then I saw this was going to be a longer conversation than I'd originally anticipated. Good thing it was a LONG walk.
"Okay, why would you say that? Why didn't he create people from other countries?"
"Because they don't believe in God."
"Ash, if you believe God created people, then you have to believe that he created ALL people, not just the ones who believe in him. Whether THEY believe or not is immaterial."
Ash says, "I guess, but some people don't believe in our God. They believe in other stuff."
I agreed and reminded him of the poster at school that shows at least a dozen different versions of the Golden Rule from faiths around the world.
Calliope, quiet most of this time, chimed back in: "Dad, how many gods ARE there?"
"Well, most people will tell you there is only one. The problem is agreeing on WHICH one. Lots of faiths claim to worship what they call the true God, but as it turns out, they are not all the same God and each faith denies the existence of the other 'true' gods."
That's when Ash steered the conversation naturally toward the Greek pantheon. That was more solid ground for me. And soon the conversation was over. Whew. I should have just answered Calliope's original question with a simple "42" and quickly changed the subject to cartoons or something.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I welcome another writing opportunity

A couple of years ago I wrote a few reviews on iTunes then promptly forgot about them. Lately, with the launch of Ping, I started thinking about those reviews again. I reread them the other day and really liked the content. That's when I decided to add another branch to my regular writing. If you're interested in what I'm listening to or what my musical opinions are, please check me out on iTunes. Just go to iTunes Ping and search people for me. More reviews to come.

Who's the new guy?

Savatage - Edge of Thorns
Two of five stars

Savatage minus the vocal style of Jon Oliva has always been a disappointment to me. Edge of Thorns begins that trend and as such it holds a special place in my own private hell. That having been said, I’ll admit the disc is not without its high points. The title track is a solid tune and Stevens does a mighty fine job fitting in with the band’s signature progressive, melodic style.

 The next two or three tracks leave a lot more to be desired. Here is where the presence of a new vocalist brings to mind the difference between Sabbath with Ozzy and Sabbath with Tony Martin. In other words, you’re listening to a decent band, but it no longer resembles the band you’ve come to love.

The instrumental tracks give a little glimpse of hope, the penultimate three tracks deliver the goods, and the final song, “Sleep,” is a very good acoustic ballad that is not at all reminiscent of Savatage. Remember those high points I mentioned? In the end I can’t help but think of how much higher those highs would be if Oliva were at the helm instead. This is not Savatage.

A defining change of direction

Savatage - Gutter Ballet
Five of five stars

This album is a conundrum for me. Being an early Savatage purist, I find Gutter Ballet is at once a complete change of direction into a decidedly more progressive (and in my opinion, overly melodramatic) sound, yet still one of my favorites in the band’s 25-year catalog.

Savatage’s first five albums, minus the more pop-driven Fight for the Rock, to me define that classic Savatage sound that the band has almost completely abandoned in the 21st century. This album is the first stepping stone on the way down that path.

I remember purchasing Gutter Ballet on cassette in 1989, popping it into my Walkman (R.I.P.) and walking around my local shopping mall with the familiar sound of Savatage echoing in my head as the opening track, “Of Rage and War,” played. Sounded like a solid, classic Savatage tune, not too far at all removed from 1987’s Hall of the Mountain King.

It was the title track that woke me up to the fact that this band had matured immensely. So dynamic, so powerful and melodic; heavy on the piano. Too bad it would eventually morph into the melodramatic and self-important monstrosity known as Trans-Siberian Orchestra. As it stands on this album, though, the virgin outing of this new sound is incredible and highly recommended. For TSO fans and Savatage fans alike.

New banner is up!

I finally decided to throw together a header yesterday. I knocked this out after I finished another Photoshop job for a friend during the kids' gymnastics classes. Probably not done yet. I think it needs some more layering effects, but not sure what yet. Let's call it a work in progress.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

More on Netflix + a film review

It's been a few weeks now since Netflix rolled out disc-free access on PS3 and I gotta say--I'm loving it. I prefer to browse now on my console rather than on the PC. Browsing for movies and managing my queue has never been easier.

I thought I was going to like it from day one, but it's way more than that. The best feature? If I had to pick a favorite it would be the new release function. I just added Disney's Alice in Wonderland to my instant queue today. The kids have been wanting to watch that one again, but I'm not going to be purchasing it because I wasn't too fond of it.

Anyway, I just had to offer a follow-up to my original post so you could see the impression I am left with a few weeks after the conversion. Still in love with Netflix. So in love that I'm adding to my queue faster than I can watch. 

Last week on instant view I checked out Call of Cthulhu, a 2006 short film (45 minutes) produced as though it were a '20s era silent film. This was easily the best Cthulhu mythos film I've ever seen. The silent film style perfectly meshed with Lovecraft's vision of creeping horror. I think the key is that the effects were not over-the-top and since there was no spoken dialogue, the mind of the viewer can fill in the gaps better than any movie could. It's the perfect synthesis of film and reading. What an original concept.

Okay, that's it for this week. Thanks for reading. If you have Netflix and are a Lovecraft fan, do yourself a favor and check out Call of Cthulhu. Catch you again soon.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Link to my page

As I mentioned before, I have become a writer for I've totally flaked on this site because of everything else going on. I wanted to at least give out a link to my page, which will be updated weekly at least. My goal is two to three articles per week, but as it's all going to have to be on one topic, that might be a lofty number to keep up while maintaining originality.

If you're interested in checking it out, you can find my Examiner page at Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New online ad for my company's upcoming profitability workshop tour

Busy busy busy

New earlier work hours, application for promotion, kids, ballet, gym, dinners, pets, photography, blogging, writing for, Netflix, PS3 (now connected to wireless signal in the living room), full DVR, dishes, laundry, leaves to rake, spending more time with more friends . . . Holy crap! When did lazy ol' me get to be so damn busy? Somebody get me a beer! And a holiday.

I promise I'll post more soon. Oh, wait. I have one. I'll post it next.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Congrats to me! I just received notification that I will be joining the writing staff of as the local family & entertainment writer for Peoria! I'm stoked. As soon as I get my Examiner page up and running I will post more information here. Woohoo!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Disc-free Netflix!

I knew it was coming, and today's the day! After a free app download tonight, I can say goodbye to that silly Netflix Instant Streaming Disc for my PS3. Playing a game? Decide to stop & watch a movie instead? No more disc swapping! Taking the PS3 on a trip out of town for some entertainment? No need to worry about taking that stupid disk and possibly losing it!

Looks like Netflix has made some more updates to the Wii and PS3 experience as well, such as adding the browsing experience to the console interface. That's helpful. If I decide to watch something on the PS3 but I'm not sure what, I can now check recent releases right from my PS3.

Loving that 5.1 surround addition as well. Now if the dumb PS3 could only pick up a wireless signal worth a crap I'd be able to watch movies on the PS3 in my living room where the 5.1 system is installed.

Thank you, Greg Peters, VP of Product Development at Netflix. You made me happy today.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

They don't make 'em like they used to.

I still have these book & record sets.

I went to a used music sale this weekend for the local university's radio station. Guess it was time they cleaned house. I can't even begin to tell you how many thousands of LPs, cassettes, CDs, 78s, 45s, and books of sheet music I saw there. And get this: "Fill a bag with LPs for only $5! As much as you can carry!" Oh, bliss and heaven.

So among the huge stack of LPs I purchased were a few comedy albums. Several Firesign Theater platters (whom I've never really "gotten," but I wanted to try again anyway), a George Carlin record (which includes the original "seven dirty words" bit), an old Cosby one and an older Bob Newhart one.

As a kid I loved playing records on my record player. I listened to music all the time, just like now. I didn't have enough records to satisfy my thirst, so I naturally scoped out whatever was in the house. That led me to my sister's K-Tel gems and my parents' extensive collection of country & western and sock hop tunes. And a few comedy albums. There was the payoff.

My folks had a good half dozen each of the Smothers Brothers and Bill Cosby albums. It was an easy warm-up; I had already grown up with Fat Albert, picture pages, pudding pops and Himself. There was no introduction needed to the Cos. I was already a fan. I remember being fascinated listening to those familiar Cosby speech patterns, hearing stories of ol' Weird Harold and chicken hearts and go karts. Funny stuff.

And these Smothers Brothers . . . I had to investigate them, man. Since this was decades before wikipedia, I had to do the old-fashioned thing when it comes to finding information--the oldest-fashioned thing, as a matter of fact: I had to ask someone who knew. That meant Mom. She was happy to fill me in on Tom and Dickie, sibling rivalry, "Mom always liked you best!" and folk music with a twist. I took a listen, and I was hooked. Since then I've loved the Smothers Brothers.

They don't make comedy albums today like those treasures of the '60s. They don't make comedians anymore like the ones in those albums. These albums were before my time, but give me a 40-year-old Bob Newhart LP over a brand-spankin'-new Adam Sandler CD any day of the week. That old stuff all seems more cerebral to me. Maybe it's the lack of extensive profanity; maybe it's the way the comedy speaks for itself rather than relying on gimmicks; maybe it's the fact that jokes which are stale now sound so much fresher and even funnier in the setting of their day.

That's why I love hitting garage sales, thrift stores and sales like the one this weekend. I never know where I'm going to be able to procure my next golden oldie, whether it be a Peanuts paperback from Fawcett or a Flip Wilson LP.

Friday, September 24, 2010

See you later, Emo's

Okay, so it's not media-related news, but it still matters to me.

It's that time of the year again when the neighborhood ice cream shops start closing down for the season. Tonight I bid adieu to Emo's on War Memorial Drive. Tomorrow is the last day of business this season. However, this closure is punctuated by an enormous, bold question mark. You see, the business is for sale, as well. What's going to happen to Emo's in the Spring '11 season? Tune in to find out. Hopefully Peoria will not be deprived in 2011 of Emo's legendary Coney Dogs and 24+ flavors of soft serve.

Next to close up shop: Dudley's. After those two have gone, I'll be forced to hit the local Baskin Robbins throughout the winter, because Cold Stone is garbage. :p

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Incredible Shrinking iPad?

Just read an article on Bloomberg about how Apple may be preparing to unleash a newer, smaller iPad with a seven-inch screen versus the current 9.7-inch model. Anyone else see where this is going? Smaller and smaller? If they start this trend with the iPad as they did with iPod, then before you know it the iPod shuffle will be roughly the size of a toothpick and the iPad will end up about the same size as the 5th gen iPod video.

I don't get it. Can smaller even be better when dealing with something like the iPad? Isn't part of its appeal the fact that you can actually see movies and text on it? Why make them harder to see by shrinking the damn screen? Oh, Apple, how you confound me sometimes. But I could gripe about them more later. And I will. Yes, iWill.

Videos video videos

Sorry. No groin shots or pranks. Nothing in danger of going viral or being featured on Tosh.0. Just some stuff that's more portfolio-oriented.

In March of 2010, I was fortunate enough to take a rare business trip to Anaheim, California for the Commodity Classic agricultural trade show. My purpose there was to shoot some video on the floor, at my company's booth, on the convention center campus, and at a panel discussion. The main focus was the panel discussion.

This panel comprised four successful and respected men in the ag and finance fields, including the CEO of the company I work for. We were fortunate enough to get the one and only Max Armstrong to host the panel. The project was to be a series of short online video clips sponsored by Water Street Solutions and the ag media publishing behemoth known as the Farm Progress Companies.
My task was to set up, shoot, edit, produce and post all the clips to a new YouTube account which I had created. So here they are. Surely not very entertaining, but quite informative and valuable to the farmers who attended. Water Street & Farm Progress were happy, so that's good enough for me. I was hoping to do something a but more upbeat, as I'd shot all this B-roll footage, but this is what the clients wanted. Farm Progress posted the videos on several of their web sites, and Water Street included links on its blog page as well.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Aw, hell no.

The movie you've all been waiting for is finally coming! That's right, it's Paranormal Activity 2. (wah wah waaaaaah) Sorry to let you down.

Seriously, though. I can't believe I got a message in my inbox today asking me to DEMAND it. I fell for that marketing ploy once, and I fell hard. I demanded the first Paranormal Activity, and I recruited some of my social networking buds to do the same. Of course, none of the towns I demanded actually made the cut, but my demands helped fuel the nationwide release.

That was some clever marketing on their part. I hadn't seen a social networking/viral kind of campaign like that before. And showing key clips interspersed with audience reactions--genius. I was so pumped to see that damned movie when it came to Peoria, I could hardly contain myself. Then the night came.

I went into the theater and after the commercials, movie trailers, a quick nap and two bathroom breaks the film started. I remember clapping my hands together, rubbing them like a handlebar-mustachioed villain and thinking, here we go! Haha!

And I waited. And waited. Day after day. Night after night. "My keys are on the floor! I didn't leave them there." Are you shitting me? This better get scary pretty soon. Another couple of days go by. Isn't there anyone else in this movie?

Then the actual scares came, but they were so few and far between and already spoiled by the ad campaign, that even as much as I wanted this film to work--after all, I had a vested interest; I had DEMANDED IT--it just didn't do anything other than waste my time and piss me off.

Note to filmmakers: If you only have three or four "scares" in a movie, don't blow your wad on the trailers. It's like seeing a trailer for the Exorcist in which Regan stabs herself in the privates with a crucifix, throws up pea soup on the priest, spins her head all the way round, flashes into a demon, levitates, screams "Nowonmei" and howls in thirty simultaneous voices, tosses around furniture with her mind and impersonates a dead old Jewish lady burning in hell. After people see all that in the trailer, the first 90 minutes of the movie are gonna suck.

Like Jurassic Park 2--the only movie I ever walked out of. "Where the hell are the dinosaurs trashing the city streets? This was supposed to be a movie of dinosaurs running rampant on the public! Screw this."

So, sorry Paranormal Activity 2, but you can count me out. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, it's worth two in the bush. Or something like that.

Vacation photos, Photoshop style

Usually if I post photos you can also find them on my Flickr page, which is a better option for higher quality view or slideshow format.

Anyway, here's a quick look at my family photo album. Usually at some point during a special trip, I'll want to do one good photo of the four of us. Problem is, most people in the world are useless when it comes to digital cameras, so you always end up with a blurry, horrible photo if you hand your camera to a stranger and ask them to take your picture.

"It's the big silver button on top. You have to hold it down halfway, then all the way down when you want to take it. And please use the Rule of Thirds for framing, because I don't want to have to crop this--Aw, forget it. Thanks anyway." Grumble, rumble, gripe.

How to solve the problem? Compositing in Photoshop! So here are a couple of examples, one from Metropolis, Illinois and the other from Six Flags Over Georgia.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Great Switch-Off?

A recent Reuters article expressed the concern of Comcast and Time Warner that more people are and increasingly will be cutting their cable service in favor of streaming services from Apple, Netflix and others. I don't know about you guys, but I have Netflix and I love it. However, I am not yet even close to going without traditional (does digital now qualify as "traditional"?) cable.

I love having access to the Netflix library and being able to stream all the episodes of Red Dwarf, Doctor Who, South Park or what-have-you, but what about those new episodes of current programs? Not every network is as quick on the draw as CBS, with its next-day posting of a free stream in case I forgot to DVR that episode of Survivor. (Which I did--Wednesdays now? Really?) And let's not forget all that great original Showtime or HBO programming. How else can you access that, if not with cable or satellite?

Besides, my DVR remote works hella better for ffwd & rewind than the stupid Netflix interface-doohickey. And I've never had my Dish tell me my "connection has slowed" and fake like it's trying to let me actually watch the show while I know it's completely bailed on me & I'll have to restart the bleedin' thing.

And isn't TV on iTunes a premium service? Why would anyone pay extra to watch a TV show they've already paid the cable or satellite company for the right to watch? I don't get it. If you want to own it, just wait for the damn DVD. It's a more permanent medium for storage anyway. But that's just what I'd do.

No, despite my love/hate (mostly love) relationship with Netflix, or as it's become affectionately known in our house--"Assglue," I am not yet ready to sever my ties with Dish Network. At least not until the current season of Weeds is over.

A place for my photos

Okay, so if I'm going to make a name for myself in the graphic arts business, I suppose I should show off some of my photography examples. Bear in mind, I've never had an SLR camera at my disposal; always point-and-shoot. Here's a link to my Flickr page, which contains some of the digital photos of which I am most proud.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

"Stairway to Hell" -- my final visit

Apparently, demons like to inhabit the bodies of roleplayers because they like to
drink Mountain Dew, eat Doritos and Totino's Party Pizzas, roll funny-shaped
dice and talk in cockney accents. Oh, and they HATE getting laid.
Okay, here we go. This is long overdue. Back into the trenches of paranoia and nonsense. Might wanna roll up your pant legs; it's gonna get pretty deep.

D&D: JUST A GAME? It's supposed to be just a board game, but kids play it for life and death on the street.

Mr. Rick Jones... No, you know what? His real name is probably Richard; I'm just gonna start referring to him as "Dick" from now on. As a matter of fact, he holds so little authority and importance in my life, that I'm not even going to bother capitalizing his name anymore. This author is now just another dick to me.

So this particular dick fills a couple of pages with stories from newspapers (wherein other Satanic Panic spreaders are quoted) about teens who play D&D killing others or themselves. Not DURING A GAME, mind you. Just that they happened to be players. Of course, the one MUST be causing the other. But to this dick it's not a mere story of kids losing touch with reality and playing the game in real life (which, of course, is also bullshit anyway), but here's his explanation:

Through D&D, demons entered his body and drove him to commit the murders. It was Satan's evil demons that were interested in killing those innocent children, not the boy. He was just a human vessel the demons used.

That's the purpose of the 'game.' When a player begins worshiping a new deity (Satan) and asking help of characters in the game (demons), they are doing exactly what Satan worshipers do.

I have to stop here to at least point out an easy-to-spot logical fallacy in all of these so-called "D&D-related murders and suicides." Anyone ever heard of the logical fallacy called questionable cause? It refers to when you have two unrelated happenings and you make the irrational conclusion that one caused the other. Like this: There are six cases of teen homicide or suicide in this folder. Each one of the killers was a known Dungeons and Dragons player. Obviously D&D caused them to behave this way. Case closed.

You know what? I bet they all brushed their teeth at least twice a day, too. Maybe that made them flip out and kill. Oh, you know what? They are all teens, after all; you know how that sex drive can be. I bet masturbation made them go nuts and start killing. Yeah, that could be it, too. Huh? What do you mean those things can't be the cause? Oh, how do I explain all the teenage masturbators with clean oral hygiene who DON'T kill? Well, the same way dick explains all those D&D players who haven't killed. They just haven't gotten around to it yet? It's bullshit, also known as the logical fallacy of questionable cause.

You say you don't think D&D has anything to do with Satan or religion? Then turn to page 25 of the 'Deities & Demigods Instruction Manual' and see what it says. > Surprise D&D player! Guess which deity you are serving? Satan!

Hello? It's called a "ROLE PLAYING" game, dick. It's your CHARACTER'S deity of worship. Use your imagination for something FUN for a change! And besides, I don't recall seeing "Satan" in the manual as a deity to choose from.

I remember talking with a boy who had played D&D for several years. It started as a game, but didn't stay that way for long. To progress in the game, he asked D&D 'creatures' to help him win battles. He had no idea, but those creatures were literal demons. When he asked them to help him, he was inviting demons into his body.

Really? Okay, what game is this kid playing? This is an argument dick uses a few times, about the premise of the game being "asking creatures for help to complete tasks or progress in the game." It's been many years, but I recall that my CHARACTER did most of the task completion either on his own or with the help of other characters. How goddamn BORING would every campaign be if the key to "progressing" was always asking an NPC for help??? These kids they were talking to needed some friends to play with, man.

To find out if D&D used authentic occult materials, the CBN television network assigned an investigator to study the question.

Nothing like an impartial jury, huh?

They concluded that D&D does contain authentic occult materials. Rituals, magic spells, charms, names of demons, etc. were all authentic.

Damn, wish I still had that book. I'd love to cast a few magic missiles at work. Perhaps I could enlist Pazuzu to do some copy editing for me next week. Dick should have done; his copy is ATROCIOUS. Also, tell me one D&D book that came with ANY magic charms, authentic or otherwise. And answer one more question: Why should Gary Gygax INVENT names for demons when there is a centuries-old public domain literary treasure trove of them to rip off?

Many teenagers have committed suicide when their D&D character died. Others have murdered friends, parents and others because they played the 'game.' Rapes, tortures and untold other sick and gruesome crimes have also been linked to D&D.

If they are untold crimes, how can they a) be defined as sick or gruesome, or b) be linked to D&D? And the suicides thing. The CDC, the American Association of Suicidology, and Canadian Center for Health & Welfare have all concluded that there is no causal link between fantasy gaming and suicide. See, they didn't fall into that questionable cause trap.

Okay, I think I've had enough of this drivel. It was fun while it lasted, but now it's just... not.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Logic is fine but hysteria's quicker: "Stairway to Hell" part three

Ooooo! This is some scary stuff! Better go burn my Ozzy CDs.
Evening, folks. I'm going to start tonight with the chapter on drugs. Mr. Jones begins this chapter with an alleged letter from an adult who claimed when he was 18 and tripping balls on LSD, he realized that, "the devil was inside of me and quite systematically taking over control of my will... A voice inside of me kept saying, 'This time I will have you fully!' I was completely terrified... I knew this was Satan."

Jones draws the conclusion: "Many drug abusers hear voices, but most don't know they are the voices of demons."

This poor kid was just having a BAD TRIP! Happens to every LSD user at some point or another. No demons but those of his own invention. But not if you ask Rick Jones, certified expert of... well, nothing really. Contributing to the Satanic Panic of the day, he claims,

"Experts are continually finding drug abuse linked to this growing demonic possession problem."

Ah, that's right. I remember seeing all those high profile DEMONIC POSSESSION cases in the paper that year. It was almost as big an epidemic as all those parents selling their children as homosexual sex slaves for "pot" money. Oh, wait. That was just in his head, too. I keep forgetting that the author continually creates his own facts and, I suspect, his own "experts," much like Mr. Van Impe's "scientists."

"Have you ever wondered why so many teens kill themselves while high on drugs? Now you know. Demons get them high, take control of their bodies, then drive them to kill themselves."

And here I thought it was because being a teenager is a difficult time in life, and some just don't know how to deal with it. Teens are constantly being judged, ordered around, pressured, and scrutinized. This all while they are trying to learn how to function independently in the world. Some turn to drugs, whether for recreation or as an escape from a world they feel is against them. Some of those searching for escape instead find that the world does not improve through drug use. it just gets worse, only now their mind is all screwed up & they can't think straight. Blammo.

And dipshit Jones blames it on song titles without even reading the lyrics or listening to the songs in question. Example:

"Ozzy Osbourne's song, 'Suicide Solution,' was not written by accident. Every word came directly from Ozzy's evil master. (Sharon?) A teenager blew his brains out after continuously listening to Ozzy's dangerously demonic death march. The song was still playing when police found the body."

Then maybe someone should have listened to or read the lyrics before blaming the Ozzman. This song is a cautionary tale of the dangers of The Drink (or as Ozzy will call it in a song many years later, "the Demon Alcohol"). The "solution" is not an answer to a problem, it's a homogenized liquid substance: liquor.

Do a little research before you write such an inflammatory book, for crying out loud. Stupid people are hanging on every word you say as legitimate advice for understanding the dangers faced by their teenage children.

Okay, I'm getting sleepy. I promise I'll get to the D&D chapter very soon. I kinda skipped past it in making a point tonight, but I'll backtrack to it tomorrow. It's too good to leave out. Here's a teaser:
"Literally millions of young people are unknowingly participating in genuine occult practices and opening the doors for demons to enter their bodies through this seemingly innocent game." HA!

See my review concluded here.

Once more into the fray - "Stairway to Hell" part two

"Satan's gonna get you, gonna drag you to hell. Hells Bells" - AC/DC
Among the "epidemic parent-related problems teens are facing today," the wise Mr. Jones lists:

- Children introduced to homosexuality and lesbianism by their parents

- Being forced into prostitution by their parents for the money

- UNTOLD THOUSANDS of youngsters are sold to Satan worship by depraved parents
Yes, folks, this book is chock-a-block full of paranoid, conspiratorial ideas.
Remember how that last one in the list turned out to be almost completely unfounded? How many documented and corroborated instances were there of such activity? As far as those other two, what did this guy do- watch a single episode of 48 Hours or something and declare the investigative cover story AN EPIDEMIC?
Moving on...
If you love rock music, the devil's bloody claws are already firmly wrapped around your neck. Look at these lyrics. The rock stars who sing them are sold-out servants of Satan, preaching to their master.
We are then treated to several excerpts of early 1980s heavy metal songs, many taken completely out of context, to prove the point. Mostly from that horribly Satanic band AC/DC, which we all know stands for "Anti Christ/Devil's Child." HA!
I'll give him one, though. He did throw in a Mercyful Fate song. No secret there about the band's background. Not a record you'll be hearing played at the local daycare, you know. But then he goes on to this little gem: (LOL)
A former rock music worshipper once told me about an Ozzy Osbourne concert he went to. THOUGH HIS MIND WAS SIZZLED ON DRUGS (emphasis added), his heart nearly stopped when he turned around and saw a man wearing a black hooded robe, standing behind the crowd with his arms outstretched. This shocked teen suddenly realized he was in the middle of a Satanic service!
Okay, where is this kid's credibility? We've already established he was completely SIZZLED, so how can we believe what he "saw?" Hell, the dude in the robe was probably twice as fried as our witness. He thought he was LEADING a Satanic service!
My next beef with this chapter is that he actually wastes time discussing backmasking (this one is deliberate) on the Venom album "Welcome to Hell." HELLO? There's plenty of fuel for your argument on that album WITHOUT having to ruin your needle. Try playing the damn thing FORWARD. In his argument he calls Venom a "famous rock band." What a numbskull. I know exactly 4 people who have ever even HEARD of Venom. I am the only one I know who owns any of their albums (first 5 studios and double-live on vinyl, as well as a 12'' single, 33 rpm single and a picture disc, then the most recent 3 on CD - love me some Venom!)
He wraps up the chapter with several stories ("true accounts") of teenagers hacking their families up or committing suicide because they listened to violent, Satanic AC/DC or Iron Maiden songs. Classic Satanic Panic at work. I love this shit. It's like watching Reefer Madness.
Coming up: The chapter on Dungeons & Dragons. Oooooooh. Can't wait. This guy reminds me of that dumb-ass "expert" dude that testified at the WM3 trial. The one who got a mail-order degree. I wonder if the author has any Chick tracts listed in his bibliography?

See my review continued here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

LMAO: "Stairway to Hell" by Rick Jones

Got this book recently for the fun of it. It is just nuts to think that people bought this shit hook, line and sinker in 1988. I'm literally laughing out loud only three pages into the introduction.
"The real message is heard when that part of the song is played backwards. Here are the devilish lyrics Led Zeppelin has been sneaking into your brain all these years:

'I sing because I live with Satan.
The Lord turns me off.
There's no escaping it.
No other made a path.
Here's to my sweet Satan.
Whose power is Satan.
He will give you 666.
I live for Satan'

Millions are deceived by this song. They don't know that every time they play it, two things are happening:
1. They are listening to servants of Satan pledge their allegiance to their master.
2. Listeners are being programmed to accept Satan as the master and destroyer of their own lives."
HAHAHA! The sad thing is, bullshit like this was EVERYWHERE in the mid- to late-'80s. And parents were SCARED. Remember bands on trial? Repressed memories of ritual abuse? Remember the PMRC? This whole stupid-ass "subliminal messages" idea? Incredible. What I want to know is, if we, the kids at that time, knew these nimrods were just spouting cockamamie theories, how the hell were the adults so easily duped?

Of course, we now know that perceived "messages" on records when played in reverse are probably in most cases nothing more than an auditory form of pareidolia, or the same property of the brain that lets us see clear pictures of things in cloud formations. Our minds crave order, like to see patterns in chaos. Even if the patterns aren't really there- we'll unconsciously make leaps and create connections where there are none.

And for those messages which were INTENTIONALLY placed... Who gives a crap? I've yet to see some proof that backs up the fact that behavior alteration is even possible through "subliminal" messages, particularly REVERSED ONES. All I know for sure is that the English language sounds effing creepy when you play it backwards. But is it sinister? No more so than the same thing said forward.

I can't wait to dig into this book some more. I need a good laugh.

By the way, if you're interested, they still sell this book at for $10.95, in English or EspaƱol.

See my review continued here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Jack Van Impe is a ruh-TARD

Heavens to Betsy! All three of them!
I was watching the Apprentice on DVR tonight, and when it ended, this ancient, Bible-thumping nitwit came on the television. Here's a direct quote:

"The astronomers now tell us that there are three heavens, and that agrees with the Bible. The first runs 600 miles into space, the second runs 187 trillion billions of miles into space. Unfad'nable! And then there's a third heaven where God rules."

--HUH? First, the atmosphere kinda trails off into space around 300 miles or so above the earth, so I'm not sure where the 600 comes into play. Second, I suppose he's just pulling numbers out of his bum for that second part. Third, just what the hell is, "unfad'nable?" I know the word, "unfathomable," but that isn't what he said. And, fourth, WHAT?? Exactly which, "the astronomers," are they who are now saying "there's a third heaven where God rules???" I must have missed that bit in my college astronomy class.

But there's more:

"Let's talk about that second heaven. Do you know that they now tell us that there are galaxies like our own, into the hundreds of thousands? And they've increased it to a million, and recently to a billion. A billion different galaxies! Each with 200 to 400 million stars. It's unlimited! And our God created it all. And for these people who can think it just happened through (claps) a big bang? ...You ...don't have much of an education."

--HUH? Which is it? Do they "now tell us" a few hundred thousand, a million, or a billion? If it's a billion, then why even mention hundreds of thousands? Say, "they now tell us there are a billion." It's more efficient; you can make your point sooner (or at least attempt to) and then get back to your silent prayer or whatever. As long as it's silent, it will be an improvement.

Also, WHICH IS IT? Is that second layer of space unlimited, as you just said, or is it "187 trillion billions of miles?" It can't be both! Or perhaps because it's so unfad'nable, it just SEEMS unlimited to your level of comprehension.

Additionally, I don't think anyone could argue against the thought that *technically* the Big Bang and a divine creator are not mutually exclusive. Even Stephen Hawking has said (or typed, as it were. INDICATED, anyway) that his belief in the Big Bang does not mean he doesn't believe in God. He could have been the one to cause the Big Bang, after all. (God, not Hawking.)

Finally, you should have seen the look in this guy's eyes when he said, "you... don't have much of an education." It even looked like he was going to swear during that stutter-pause: "You... gotta be effin' kidding me." Ooooh, was he heated up. Hee hee.

I've never seen this douche before, but I know he's been around quite a long time. I'm sure he could provide ammunition against himself like this all day long. He makes Pat Robertson look like Dan Rather. To quote a wise prophet named Bugs Bunny: "What a maroon!"