Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Review: Rat Girl by Kristin Hersh

Rat Girl: A MemoirRat Girl: A Memoir by Kristin Hersh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Outstanding memoir of her 18th year. Very personal and moving. As a long time fan of her music both in and out of the Throwing Muses, it was quite engaging to read about what her life was like at the very beginnings of her career. Highly recommended!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Pandora Rocks!!

I guess I must have been living under a rock or something since I only just learned about Pandora,, the Internet radio site, last week. I must say that this site is exactly what I've been looking for in Internet radio for the last several months.

Over the last several days I have been having great fun playing with Pandora, creating different stations and exploring everything that the site has to offer. One of the best features is the ability to look up information on artist and albums that may be new to you.

Even better Chumby,, just announced that their Internet appliance now supports Pandora out of the box. How cool is that? I'm seriously tempted to buy one just for that reason alone.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Stan Veit's History of the Personal Computer

Picked up a great book from Ebay called Stan Veit's History of the Personal Computer. Stan Veit started the first computer store in New York City called the Computer Mart, and used to write columns for the Computer Shopper magazine. The book covers all the original machines including Altairs, Imsai, SWTPC, Apple, Cromemco, SOL, TRS-80, and many more. The writing style is clear, and it adopts a nice friendly tone. Many photos of vintage machines and ads from old magazines and catalogs are included.

Other favorite books on this topic include Fire in the Valley: The Making of The Personal Computer by Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine, an excellent detailed look at the development of the PC; Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy, an attempt to dispell the negative connotations of the term hacker; and Collectible Microcomputers by Michael Nadeau, a true collectors guide to the many wonderful personal computers that before the onslaught of the PC clones.

Another favorite book is A History of Modern Computing : Second Edition by Paul E. Ceruzzi, a detailed history starting with the development of the ENIAC near the end of World War II. If you're interested in retro-computing, you should definitely seek out one or more of these titles.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


More on Comics

Of late I've been reading quite a few comics but in graphic novel form. I find it a much easier form to read from and handle. I always feel like I'm going to damage the pamphlet form. Also both Marvel and DC have recently been reprinting tons of great stuff in inexpensive B&W editions known as "Essential ..." and "Showcase ..." respectively. Titles that I've read in the last year or so include Essential Tomb of Dracula vol 1, Essential Howard the Duck vol 1, Essential Dr. Strange vol 1, Classic Conan vol 1 and vol 2, Darkchylde, and also some stuff from Usagi Yojimbo, Dork Tower, and a few more that I can’t remember right now. I've got a stack of 6-7 more Essential books, 2 newly acquired Showcase books, and both volumes of The League of Extraordinary Gentleman.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Making Movies

Hey, I've been reading a really great book called "Teach Yourself Film Making" by Tom Holden. I like his no nonsense, direct and to the point style. While it is doubtful that anyone will able to storm Hollywood after reading the book, it will give any aspiring film maker a great intro to the endeavor of making an honest to goodness film.

I've been interested in making movies since I was about twelve. I used to read magazines such as Famous Monsters of Filmland, Starlog, Cinemagic just to get a glimpse into how my favorite sci-fi and horror movies were made. I've always felt that if I had grown up in Los Angeles I would be working in the film industry today.

When I was fifteen, I borrowed my parent's old Brownie 8mm camera and set out to make my masterpiece. I had decided that like Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen, my epic would be made using stop-motion animation. I happened to have a collection of those Aurora prehistoric scenes snap-together model kits that worked fairly well as animation models. I also had a space craft model of the Spindrift from the "Land of the Giants" TV show. In my parent's basement, I built a set made out of plywood and 2x4's, and filled it up with sand to make the landscape. My 5 minute film took about two weeks to film, painstakingly moving the dinosaur and wooly mammoth models in a battle royal, along with having the Spindrift land on the planet. Riveting stuff...

In college, I helped a friend make his Star Trek fan film, however most of my involvement was in setting up lights, building sets, and so on. But recently I've become interested in the idea of amateur film making once again, mainly after I bought a snazzy new Mini-DV camcorder. These days you can do everything in digital and handle all the editing and post production on your PC, and turn out the finished project as a DVD for family and friends to enjoy (or suffer through as the case may be).

I've decided to start out slowly and work my through a couple of smaller projects involving various footage I've shot of my kids at school functions and at birthdays. This will help me work out the methods and how to effectively use the tools. Stay tuned for updates...

Monday, March 20, 2006


Retro Computing

For a while I avidly collected older computers, but I stopped buying them a few years ago, no more room to store them. Most of the machines are still waiting to be tested. My favorite older computers were those from Commodore Business Machines (CBM), such as the VIC-20, C-64 and Amiga series.

Another favorite was the Tandy M-100, which was the first truly portable and useful machine. They were quite popular with journalists and I've heard that some foreign reporters still use them. This machine featured a full size keyboard, a built-in LCD display, and four pre-loaded software applications.

The first computer I ever used was the Netronics ELF II, which was similar to the Cosmac ELF, it featured an RCA 1802 microprocessor, an under-rated and unique processor. This system pre-dated the IBM PC by about five years. My father had bought his Netronics ELF II as a kit in 1978 and built it himself. It consisted of a main board with several card slots, a 4 digit hex LED display, and a numeric/hex keypad. When first built, you had to punch in your program on the keypad as machine code opcodes. Eventually my father installed a Basic ROM, an assembler, 32K of RAM, keyboard, video controller, and a green-screen monitor. I wrote my first computer game on this computer, a vastly simplified version of space invaders.

I'm still interested in retro computing, and practice it to a degree. Currently, I have a P3 machine running Linux as a file server with dual 120GB drives, a P2 machine running Win98 for older games and for publishing activities, and currently have a Sun Ultra 5 up and running, not sure what to do with it yet. I had set up my SGI O2 box but it no longer wants to boot, it appears that the HDD has failed or something. Hopefully, in time, I'll have more older systems set up and running.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


Are Comics Dying Out?

I've been reading letters and various columns within the pages of Comics Buyers Guide over the last couple of years predicting the imminent demise of the pamphlet form of the comics. While I agree that a sustainable business model for pamphlet comics has seriously eroded over the last several years, I suspect that the form still has a good 5-10 years left, and probably it will always be around in some form or another. My guess is that the trade edition format will slowly displace most of the sales over the next decade.

Others have predicted that e-comics will be the deciding factor in ending the pamphlet form. But these folks seem to miss the point that the same thing was said about dead tree edition books a few years ago when the appearance of e-books was all the rage. Currently there are numerous publishers and outlets for e-books, but until the pricing is a substantial discount (current discounts hover around 10-20%) as compared to the printed edition, e-books will only find limited success. Also only a handful of portable e-book reader devices are currently available. Most of them seem to suffer from similar issues such as short battery life, poor contrast when outdoors, incompatible proprietary e-book formats, etc. A new device from Sony called the Sony Reader seems promising however since it is the first of these devices to use the E-Ink "paper" look display technology. This device promises ultra long battery life and excellent contrast and visibility in all lighting conditions. But for now, the display is only in B&W.

My personal opinion is that what is really hurting the comics industry overall is the lack of new readers coming into the hobby. The average comics reader is in their late twenties, and many long time fans have gotten quite grey around the edges. I have managed to get one of my kids into reading comics, so at least there is one new comic fan around. The comics industry has been trying the fight back with events such as the upcoming Free Comic Book Day but I've found that the publishers don't always to seem to make kid friendly issues available, though every year they do seem to get closer to the mark.

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