Category: Essays

Longer form pieces.

R.I.P. Bob Casale

English: Bob Casale of Devo.
English: Bob Casale of Devo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just found out today that Bob Casale, or Bob 2 of DEVO passed away last night from heart failure.  I’m absolutely heartbroken, and I’m listening to my DEVO records all day today.

Bob 2 is the only member of DEVO I got to meet — it was after the first time I got to see DEVO live.  Just to clarify, not only did I never think I’d get to see DEVO live (but I’ve seen them four times now!), but to make it even better, Bob 2 came out and took time to meet with fans afterwards.

He was the nicest guy. My best friend and I told him how DEVO got us through high school and was so incredibly important to us, and he said that he was retroactively our High School Advisor.

I’m gonna really miss him. At least I got to tell him how much he meant to me. You don’t get that a lot, especially with famous people who had a huge impact on you. I’m not being facetious when I say that, alongside David Foster Wallace, I wouldn’t be who I am today without DEVO.  They’re that important, and Bob 2 was a huge part of that — both in playing and his engineering and producing skills for the band (along with others — including the Barnes & Barnes version of “What’s New Pussycat” from Zabagabee).

What a wonderful man, and I’m so deeply sorry to see him go.

I’m seriously trying not to cry.

I’m not sure I’m going to succeed. Continue reading

The Night of the Stumblebums

dirty franks
Dirty Frank’s (Photo credit: justindula)

Back in my college days, I spent more time in bars than could be considered healthy. However, my friends and I weren’t a fan of the bars near campus, and their crowd of drunken people our age or younger. We craved a different environment, and many a night was spent getting sloshed downtown, at a place called Dirty Frank’s. Dirty Frank’s is a dive, home to cheap beer, a great jukebox, Ms. Pac-Man, nuts in twenty-five cent snack dispensers, and a rotating crowd of oddballs and weirdos. On the outside walls of the bar is a mural of famous Franks, ranging from Frank Zappa to former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Frank “Tug” McGraw, to Frankenstein, Aretha Franklin, and a Frankfurter. Inside, a U-shaped bar covered in chipped linoleum, and several battered booths sit for your comfort. Continue reading

Stupid Ideas I Haven’t Done: DEVO Cats

Jingle Cats - Meowy Christmas!!!
Jingle Cats – Meowy Christmas!!! (Photo credit: Mr. Greenjeans)

Like everyone, I tend to come up with a lot of ideas that I never get around to doing. Sometimes, it’s because they’re pretty stupid ideas. So, in order to do something with them, I’m throwing them out here. If anyone wants to make these stupid ideas a reality, go for it!

Stupid Idea:  You know those Christmas records where they do Christmas records with dog barks or cat meows?  Usually they’re credited to the Jingle Dogs or the Jingle Cats?  And the early one was done with actual tape splicing and stuff where they have the actual dog barks and noises that are in the actual right notes, so that’s kinda cool, but they’ve done more recent ones where it’s just a sampling keyboard, so it’s kind of cheating?  But even though it’s sorta neat from a technical aspect, it’s still pretty damned annoying anyway? Continue reading

Things That Are Neat: Ants!

English: Two Plectroctena sp. ants, either P. ...
English: Two Plectroctena sp. ants, either P. mandibularis or P. strigosa. Each ant was about 15-20mm long. Pictured in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Français : Deux fourmis du genre Plectroctena sp. (soit P. mandibularis, soit P. strigosa). Chaque fourmi mesure 15 à 20 mm de long. Photo prise à Dar es Salaam, en Tanzanie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ants are super neat.  There’s like a billion different varieties of ‘em, and they do all sorts of things.  There are farmer ants who grow a fungus that they then eat, and there are ants that like do things with plants, and there are ants that fight other ants and just about every ant is super strong.  So you know that’s pretty cool.  I’ve heard that there are tons of ant species we don’t even know about yet.  That’s awesome!  I wanna discover an ant, but I don’t know how.  I guess I’d have to start digging in dirt or something and maybe go “HEY ANTS!” so they’d come out and say “WHAT?  WE’RE BUSY HERE!” and I’d then apologize.  People shouldn’t be rude to ants.  They shouldn’t be rude to people either, but that doesn’t have anything to do with ants.  That’s just common sense. Continue reading

sanity check: idea for a video game

Paperclip-01 (xndr)
Paperclip-01 (xndr) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We got this letter from the Internet Browsing Club:

[tell me if this is sane and interesting]

game based on the “paperclip maximizer” thought experiment, as featured in My Little Pony: Friendship is Optimal. I have no idea what it looks like. It could easily be a roguelike, for all I care. Or it could have cutesy bright graphics. Whatever.

At the start, you play as a paperclip maximizer. You’re in a world with resources of various types floating around, and other maximizer robots that try to eat you and turn you into some other resource, something other than a paperclip.  We can add whatever fun little floating things we think of. maybe super-special resources you can use for upgrades to your maximizer, I dunno.. Everything, though, can eventually be turned into a paperclip. Provided you can get your mitts on it and provided it doesn’t eat you or blow you up while you’re working.  Continue reading

Celebrating M*A*S*H, Now 30 Years Gone

Cash of MASHI grew up aware of M*A*S*H. I was just over a year old when the show ended on February 28, 1983. Thirty years ago. But it wasn’t until I was in high school that I fell in love with M*A*S*H. I honestly cannot remember what happened – in retrospect it feels like one day I didn’t really care about it and then out of nowhere I was obsessed with the show and was taping episodes off of TV. I know that this must have happened around 1998 because one of the things that drove my family crazy was that I would spend hours copying the M*A*S*H episodes off of VHS, onto the computer, edit out the commercials, and then copy the episodes back onto the tapes. This allowed me to fit 5 episodes onto a tape instead of 4. And it removed the commercials. In any case, I only figured out how to use the Avid Cinema software that allowed that to happen in 1998. By the time I graduated high school and was leaving for college, I had over 30 VHS tapes full of episodes of M*A*S*H. This was a few years before DVDs of TV shows became a thing. Continue reading

Castlevania III: What Was, What Is and What Might Have Been

Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ah, the days gone by. I remember first playing Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (known in its original Japanese as悪魔城伝説, or Devil’s Castle Legend) on my Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990 and marveling at how the series had grown and changed. I’d been a fan since receiving the original Castlevania as a gift a few years earlier, loving it and hating it at the same time. I loved it because of its themes, its characters, its music and its simple but engaging story, and hated it for being an immense challenge with play control limited enough to cause controller-tossing rage after mistiming a jump for the eight zillionth time. The more RPG-like Simon’s Quest was fun, but didn’t quite hold the same fascination for me as the original. Dracula’s Curse brought that fascination back and raised it a level. Continue reading

Modern Movie Mediums: Why It’s OK That Blockbuster Is Gone

tumblr_mh5dn24RUv1qm91tto1_1280When I was a kid in the early ’80s, home video was still a relatively new invention. I remember getting our first VCR and going to the video rental store – the stores had a huge influence on me and can be blamed or praised for my love of movie posters and decorating aesthetic of plastering every empty surface with movie posters.

My strongest memories are of Yucaipa Center Video, which was next door to the Pizza Chalet. So a good weekend would include a trip to pick up some pizzas and rent a few videos. I still remember when YCV shut down during my senior year of high school – in anticipation of the new Hollywood Video opening across the street (incidentally in the former-bank building that had also formerly been my dad’s law office). There was another video store in town that had $1 rentals on Mondays, and I remember we used to rent the same movies over and over again (especially NEWSIESSHIPWRECKED, and WILD HEARTS CAN’T BE BROKEN). There was also Calimesa Tower Video which was walking distance from my best friends house and I think is now a clothing store. We rented every Pauly Shore movie as it came out. Continue reading

Dr. Daryn Cash Presents: Early Oscar Predicting – The Elimination Game

Best Actress Academy Award
Best Actress Academy Award (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

I used to be very cynical about the Academy Awards. I assumed that the voting process was for show and that the awards were given out on a basis of what’s-the-safest-winner. I still talk about ‘them’ ‘giving’ the award to particular winner, but now I don’t mean it in quite the same way. What I mean when I say ‘they’ll give so-and-so the award’ is ‘the voting body of the Academy will vote in such a way that so-and-so will win’. And I used to think it was all about politics. But now I know that it’s almost impossible to predict who will win in any way other than a process of elimination. It’s easier to justify why a person or movie will not be voted for than it is to guess why anyone WOULD vote for someone/some movie. Continue reading

In Praise of “Goddamn”

James Lipton at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.
James Lipton at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wasn’t a huge fan of James Lipton’s Inside the Actor’s Studio, and in fact, I’m not even sure if it’s still on the air.  I thought Lipton could sometimes be a little “Dance, Monkey!” — particularly on the episode where he had the cast of The Simpsons on, and the bulk of his questions seemed to be “So, can you do Apu now?  How about Homer?  Marge?  What would Bart have to say to that?” — when you’ve got a cast of talented voice actors and comedians, it seems like such a waste to have them just do the voices instead of asking them real questions.  Likewise, the John Goodman episode was a little painful where Lipton goaded Goodman into dancing like in Blues Brothers 2000 despite the fact that it was clearly causing Goodman physical pain.  But the show did have its moments too — and one of the more inspired moments was the seven questions he asked everyone. Continue reading