Let me hear that, get me near that crunchy granola suite!

Cool Thing #4: Neil Diamond

Really. We've now moved to Neil Diamond. Sorry, blog. If you ever had any shred of class or awesome, it has run away to the land of Cooler Blogs.

Please enjoy "I Am, I Said," a Neil Diamond song I genuinely like (how can you not like a song with a line like, "No one heard at all, not even the chair," come on!). I wanted "Crunchy Granola Suite" from Hot August Night because not only does it rock super hard (well, it Neil Diamond rocks - DIG!), but also because my mom didn't know that one, but sadly no audio from Hot August Night is on YouTube anywhere (I don't think a video exists, but I promise it would be hilarious).

I went to see Neil Diamond tonight and it was a freaking hoot and a half. It was fantastic! It really was. It was fantastic for a number of reasons. Not only was it hilarious because I was watching Neil Diamond, but it was actually really super! Super and hilarious? Oh yes, my friends! He's old, but he still sounds pretty great, he's got completely insane hilarious smarmy moves, and he still really knows how to put on a show. Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show, even.

And sparkles. Did I mention the sparkles? There were sparkles like this was Twilight (which is not a cool thing, despite what my inner thirteen-year-old says about it).

Granted, if you ever go to see Neil Diamond in concert, you have to take it for what it is. It's a Neil Diamond show. I was expecting old people watching an old guy sit on a stool, singing songs that used to be fast... really slowly. Maybe with an occasional unintentionally humorous sentence thrown in here and there. I was pleasantly surprised. It's not a U2 show (but then, what is, hmm?), but it's really entertaining and unless you've been living under a rock since the '70s, you'll know a lot of the songs. And Neil will do some rocking, which is not only commendable and, shockingly, successful, it is kind of funny. I mean... you're watching Neil Diamond. It's over-the-top and I can't imagine he takes himself very seriously.

You say to me that you do not like Neil Diamond because his music is cheesy and silly and not really that good. And I say to you that yes, I understand all of that, but I bet you can sing the chorus to at least ten Neil Diamond songs because not only are many of them actually good songs, but they are catchy and fun and everywhere. Neil Diamond permeates the very fabric of American society.

"Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon?" "Red, Red Wine?" "I'm a Believer?" All Neil Diamond. And you know you know "Sweet Caroline" and "Forever in Blue Jeans" and "Thank the Lord for the Nighttime" and "Cracklin' Rosie" and "Coming to America" and "Song Sung Blue" and "Kentucky Woman" and "Cherry Cherry" and "Shilo." Yes, my friends. Some part of you likes Neil Diamond, maybe you just don't realize it yet. It's the same part of you that likes cheap wine and scotch 'n tapwater and the idea of satin sheets. If you do not believe me, you should borrow Hot August Night from the library. Enjoy the Neil-definitely-on-something extravaganza. The part when he starts talking to the tree people is particularly great.

Neil Diamond. Yup.


Keep walking.

No time for a real update, but rather than posting about Comic books or International travel (neither of which I have the time to do justice right now), I will instead share this Johnnie Walker commercial, just because I like it.

I tend to really appreciate certain commercials. Generally I'm not sure why (this one I like because it's pretty, and we played this song in my college band, and it's neat to hear a semi-obscure contemporary composer I actually know about featured in an ad like this). The "Boom-De-Yada" Discovery Channel commercial is particularly great, as was the Derek Redmond Visa ad during the Olympics. These commercials do not make me more likely to watch the Discovery Channel, use my Visa card, or drink Johnnie Walker (though we know it's quite good - thanks, KP!) but I do like it when they come on.

Back to packing!


I should've known I wouldn't make it through the week!

Rather than posting Cool Thing #4 (which will be either comic books or international travel), I will say this - I need to go to ComicCon next year. It looks like I'll be unemployed by the beginning of July, so provided I can save the money to get there, I'll certainly have the time. I'm thinking of jetting up to northern California post-con for a camping extravaganza in Redwoods National Park, so if anyone else I know is a fellow combination outdoorsy nature geek and geek in the traditional pop-culture sense...

July 23-27th! San Diego! Be there or be square (and not just because I don't want to go alone, though that's part of it - I'll wear my Kaylee costume if you bring your lightsaber)!

More cool things to come later. I know you're on the edge of your seat!


I think I died of cute.

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Cool Thing #3 - Puppies

I've wanted a dog for my entire life. I've been asking for one since I could speak, literally (the second word I ever said was "dog" - not sure if it was mama or dada who missed out on that one). Now that I'm getting to be an old-type person, I should probably start thinking about getting one.

In the meantime, someone very nice has put their puppies on the Internet. Now, this afternoon, the puppies were replaced for about half an hour by Liverpool versus Tottenham (yeah, Peter Crouch!), but they're usually there. And seriously, puppies and Champions League soccer? Two cool things.

Tiny, fat, roly-poly puppies are cool.


Veterans Day

Cool Thing #2 - America

It's no secret to anyone who knows me that sometimes things happen in this country that make me really angry. Sometimes decisions are made by the people in charge of this country that I do not agree with. That said, this is a pretty awesome place.

We can say whatever we want when the people in charge do things we don't like. We get to vote on those people and if we don't like them this time, maybe next time we will. We can get a fair trial when something goes wrong. We can worship Aphrodite or vampires or bananas or whatever we want and sing to the sky about it. We're going through a bit of a rough patch, but generally I think Americans are a good bunch. We help each other out.

Plus, most of my friends and all of this stuff is in it.

So thanks.


Cool Things

In an attempt to post more often, I have decided to post one cool thing every day until the end of the month (if I even make it to the end of the week, it will be a miracle).

(From Flickr user Fred of Brazil: photo page)

Cool Thing #1 - Little Big Planet

Little Big Planet is a game for Playstation 3. It is cool enough that I want to buy it, and then buy a Playstation 3 so I can play it. I'm not a game-reviewer, but it's the most Mario-like game I've ever seen for PS3 (because I'm such an expert on video games and have played every single one), but more awesome. Plus, there is a song in it by The Go! Team that gets stuck in my head whenever I even think about sack people.

(From Flickr user mediamolecule: photo page)

Yes. Sack people.

Basically, you make your own little sack person and then they complete all sorts of little missions in levels all over Little Big Planet, all while being adorable. You can also build your own levels and then put them on the PS3 network for other people to play. The music is cool, the graphics are amazing, sack people are hilarious and if you're connected to the network, you'll never run out of things to do in the game because people add crap all the time.

It's a cool thing.

Better living with plants

You might think it a waste of time to go to a botanic garden this time of year - not so! I appreciate places with successful plants because I myself am incredibly unsuccessful when it comes to gardening. This summer I managed to make a cucumber but managed to kill anything more difficult to grow than that.

But gardens in autumn!

Not only is it probably cheaper to go this time of year (the above, the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Milwaukee - was free! This may have been because we couldn't actually find the place we were supposed to pay, but still FREE), but it's still pretty! I visited both the Boerner Botanical Gardens and the Chicago Botanic Garden in the last month (the two closest botanical-type gardens to me, neither of which I had ever visited despite living here for... my entire life), and both were well worth the trip. Granted, it was probably nicer a few days ago when it was 70 degrees, but it's still nice if you want to go outside.

Someday I'll go to these places in the summer, when normal people go look at gardens.

Somehow I doubt normal people appreciate the sign for the Millennium Falcon Iris and the Starship Enterprise Iris. Maybe, but normal people probably like the flowers themselves better than the names.


Totem Spirit Housecat!

While typing the previous entry I had PBS on mute, thinking some charming British mystery show might come on.

From what I can tell, PBS is currently showing a documentary on housecats with a sub-topic of "finding pictures of celebrities and putting pictures of cats next to them." They keep showing a picture of Russell Crowe (a picture from Gladiator, which makes it even funnier) with a picture of a cat next to him (this has been shown twice). They are now showing a picture of Candace Bergen with a picture of a cat next to her.

The pictures of celebrities are interspersed with clips of people playing with cats, and a cat in this one guy's kitchen. If I had the sound on I might know more about what the heck is going on and what, if anything, we are supposed to learn from this program, but I'm honestly really enjoying having no idea.

One of three things needs to happen here: 1) I need to go to bed earlier, 2) Turn off PBS before 11:00 PM, or 3) start watching late-night talkshows.

Oh look, a picture of Catherine Zeta Jones next to a picture of a cat. And now a cat on a kitchen table. Aw, this guy makes his own cat toys. And now we have a picture of Jake Gyllenhaal next to a picture of a cat. Now we are watching cats watching television.

PBS... I get the sense you do not want sponsorship dollars this year.


Voting Machines Elect One Of Their Own As President

The next time I see this house, someone else will be living there. It's a nice house, but the job that goes with it just seems really, really stressful.

Half-related note - about a half-hour after I took this picture, George W. Bush landed somewhere in the vicinity in his fancy helicopter. Apparently the only helicopter allowed to fly that close to the White House post-September 11th is one with the president in it, so we can use our reasoning skills to deduce that it was him. It was pretty neat.

Did anyone else vote on a paper ballot? Is my city completely behind the times? I like voting, I like coloring - finish-the-arrow paper ballots are where it's at - and there's no danger of them becoming sentient and taking over the planet (a major concern with electronic voting machines)!

It occurred to me when I got to the pub on Tuesday night to watch election coverage (on cable!) and play the pub quiz with friends, that I'd forgotten to hit "record" on my VCR to tape the election returns (yes, I still have a VCR, and no I do not have cable). Because either way it ended up, this election was a huge deal and I like to have things like that to view later.

A few seconds later it occurred to me, still in the pub, that every minute of the presidential election returns of 2008 is probably available somewhere on the Internet. For free. Kids will probably watch the concession and acceptance speeches in school generations from now (maybe they'll beam holograms of Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper into their classrooms to tell them all about this exciting moment in our country's history!). Can we say that about any other election in American history? How cool!

Seriously though, the holograms? Really very silly. This was the election... OF THE FUTURE!

I should to try to find CNN's return coverage, because from where I was sitting, this is what happened (the following took place over approximately seventeen seconds):

Anderson Cooper: Do be do be do, hey! Looks like the polls in California are closing soon. We'll have the results from those western states as soon as we receive them.
Me: Oh, wow - California's such a big state, I suppose it will take them a little while to count thos-
Me and everyone else in pub: *several seconds of stunned silence*
Me: Wait, what? How... what just happened? Is that true?
Entire country: *freaks out*

Now, I'm sure that isn't quite what happened... but that's how I'm to remember it unless I re-watch it. I wonder what people did back in the days before insta-coverage. This is an incredibly interesting time to be alive.


Don't forget to be awesome!

Captain America for President - He's the people's choice!

Supposedly this sticker will get me all sorts of free things today. Not sure if that's legal, but I'm off to test it.