Friday, May 25, 2007

MP3 of the Week: "School's. Out. For. Summer." Edition

This week (just finished) signals the end of the school year for Dear Mr. Supercomputer. This means many months off from teaching. But the work is never finished: as the Summer begins, so too does the busy season around DMS (ed note: okay, there isn't a busy season around here, but if there were, it would be Summer. But there isn't, so it's not.).

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The appropriately titled mp3 this week is from the patron saint of Dear Mr. Supercomputer: Sufjan Stevens. SS is rereleasing 2004's sparse and intimate Seven Swans with a couple bonus tracks, including the following, "A Waste of What Your Kids Won't Have."

Sufjan Stevens - "A Waste of What Your Kids Won't Have"

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Career Adventures: Vol. 01 Iss. 01

(click to enlarge)


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Jehovah's Witnesses

(Dear Mr. Supercomputer would like to apologize for the original content of this post. I always thought that "Mormons" and "Jehovah's Witnesses" were interchangable terms. I was way off. They both go around in ties and knock on your door, but apparently that's where the similarities stop. I have done a 'seek and find' to replace the word "Mormon" with "JW." No, the documentary did not ever use the word "Mormons." I'm just an idiot. Mistakes were made.)




They didn't vote, but they did litigate. They've done more for their country than many people have done with their votes.


I watched PBS tonight. So I'm an expert on the subject.

The subject tonight? Jehovah's Witnesses. Independent Lens showed a documentary entitled Knocking, a brief, but informative look at Jehovah's Witnesses.

As is always the case with this blog, Dear Mr. Supercomputer was most interested in the intermingling of religion and politics. What makes the Jehovah's Witnesses an interesting case is that they profess to not submit or pledge allegiance to any government. Yet, to implement their beliefs, they have had to go to the U.S. Supreme Court something like 45 times.

While I'm not at all versed on all the intricacies of the Jehovah's Witness religion, I found three things particularly fascinating.

1) Refusal to salute the flag. In a time (WWII) when nationalism was sweeping the nation, Jehovah's Witnesses refused to salute the flag as it is against their religion to pledge allegiance to any nation. What's strange though, is that they had an ACLU person speaking about the Jehovah's Witnesses. Basically the most lefty organization in America praising the most righty religious group there is. I have to say, I respect the position highly and don't say the pledge of allegiance at my school for that very reason.

2) Refusal to vote. I need some help with this one. The documentary made a flippant remark about how they don't vote. Is that true? Herd Cattleford, can you help me out on this one? (note: the only person I can talk to about Jehovah's Witnessism are a couple of recent seminary grads. They're Episcopalian or something, but they lived in Utah, so there you have it.)

If this is true, what of Republican 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney?

(note: I was watching one of those awesome Sunday morning talk shows and one of the panelists correctly pointed out that how ironic it was that of all the front running Republican nominees for president, the Mormon is the only one without a history of marital problems.)

(**Update: I realize this paragraph now makes no sense at all. Kill me now, I beg of you.**)

3) Refusal of blood transfusion. Are you kidding me? This is just nuts. Snap out of it people!

Anyway, again, I have to respect their faith that they are willing to put their lives at risk for their faith. The documentary promo'ed a guy who needed a liver transplant but their faith restricts them from transfusing blood, even their own. While it would be easy to question why an f---ing liver transfusion is okay, this guy was willing to put his life on the line for what was called a "bloodless surgery." Wow. This is possible? And, wouldn't it be a huge step forward in medical science if they pull this off?

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So, we learned a lot about Jehovah's Witnesses tonight. Sure it's annoying when they attack you in a parking lot. But if nothing else, give them props for being so faithful to something. According to the documentary, they aren't trying to convert you to get a better place in heaven (or whatever they call it), they're doing it because they truly truly truly believe their message. I wish I had that kind of faith sometimes...

The above items require some clarification and some investigation. Maybe I'll ask one next time they knock on my door.

Friday, May 18, 2007

MP3 of the Week : "New Addition to the Family" Edition

Adam wasn't the only one to have a new, cherished member added to their family unit this past Mothers' Day.


The Dear Mr. Supercomputer family got a new computer and it is, well, super. It's an iMac. It's pretty cool. Within 5 minutes of taking it out of the box, Baby Supercomputer and I were making a video for Mothers' Day for Grandma Supercomputer. We were taking pictures, watching movie trailers, and while I'm starting to sound like a commercial, it's cool.

So from now on, DMS will be brought to you via iMac. I know you're all a titter.

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In honor of the iMac, the mp3 of the week is a mash-up. You see, the iMac comes with a program called Garage Band. We've already made some real masterpieces such as this one (best 5 seconds you'll listen to all day). In addition, it's relatively simple to be a play-at-home DJ. And while we're still working out the kinks, we plan to make the most of GB.

So therefore, this week's mp3 of the week is a mash-up of Nick Drake's "Northern Sky" and Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On." I'm not sure if you could find two more dissimilar artists from the same era, but maybe that's what makes this versus so genius.

Nick Drake/Marvin Gaye - "Northern Soul"

(Update: I guess I need to iterate : I did NOT make this song. Not even close. Mrs. Supercomputer thought I had. I found it on a music blog. I just put it up because theoretically, with Garage Band I could make something like it. You know, if I had the time, patience, talent, and creativity. Right now DMS has none of those things.)

(Update #2: This post has now been spellchecked.)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Starting to Question the Heterosexuality of the New Browns' QB

Look, there's a fine line between total stud and ....


... total beefcake.

Meanwhile, Brady Quinn shows up at the NFL draft with a hottie girlfriend (the one on the right).



But even in that picture, you can start to see... certain... peculiarities. And then this shows up on the web...


Then these...



And now, this.



Look, I realize with the advent of the internets, the world, particularly celebritydom is a different world. Everything anyone ever does is now being captured digitially. Lord knows that if Dear Mr. Supercomputer ever made it big ,you'd see things like this popping up on all the blogs.


But still, there seems to be a preponderance of these kinds of pictures of Quinn in such a short time.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Friday, May 11, 2007

MP3 of the Week: "Just When You Think You're Out, They Pull Me Back In" Edition

When Dear Mr. Supercomputer got the news that A) the Austin City Limits Music Festival tickets were sold out at the $120 price and B) henceforth be sold at a whopping $145, we held a boardroom meeting, looked at the finances for the year and came to the conclusion that we wouldn't be going this year. I mean, who needs to pay $145 to sweat to death, stand for hours, and feel like shit the following Monday at work? Who needs that?

Well, the Austin City Limits Music Festival released the lineup for this year's festival. And let's just say that we're seeing if we can rework the finances. Maybe do a little Arthur Anderson style number swapping to free up those $145.

I can't really look at the list without going blind at this point.

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In honor of the ACL Fest lineup, this week's mp3 comes from Joseph Arthur who has very quickly made a career of writing just incredible song after incredible song. His music is beautiful, haunting, disturbing, and oftentimes all three. "Black Lexus" comes from his 2006 release Nuclear Daydream. Who knows: maybe I'll be listening to it live come September.

Joseph Arthur - "Black Lexus"

Sunday, May 06, 2007

NES Games That Were Hard as Hell to Beat

If you are currently between the ages of 20 and 40, your life was significantly affected by the Nintendo Entertainment System. It just was. The Greatest Generation had WWII. The Baby Boomers had Vietnam and the 70's. We had the NES. It bridged the gap between the Summer of Love and the Internet. And thank goodness too. I don't even want to imagine what existence would have been like without it. We'd probably read a lot more.

Below is the first in a two part homage of sorts to the NES and all it gave us. What follows is Part 1: NES Games That Were Impossible to Beat. Perhaps you too were frustrated enough by these games that you, like Dear Mr. Supercomputer, threw controllers at small felines. These are the toughest games of all time.

The rules: has to be a really tough game. One that you were lucky to even get near the end. There were tough games that could be beat. Those don't count. We're talking about the games that were made before they really knew much about the home video game market and what sort of skill level the average 12 year old could have.

(Ed. note: And none of those damn games that actually couldn't be beat. Like Spy Hunter, Tiger-Heli, or Rampage. That was total bullcrap. How can you make a game just loop like that?! Deep down, I actually still harbor the belief that Spy Hunter can be beat if you're good enough. In fact, I think that was the prevailing urban legend of the day in Anderson Mill.)

Castlevania

Sure it was a cool game. You got to use a whip. Then a chain whip. Then, if you were lucky, a long chain whip. Actually, I learned what a "morning star" was from this game. I also learned about the plight of trying to slay the undead with only three lives. I don't think I ever reached the last level in this one. I never beat Dracula. Thankfully I beat him several times in Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest.

Life Force

Never beat it. Never got close. And I never was really sure what the hell I was doing. I wasn't sure if I was flying through outer space or some guy's organs like in the movie Innerspace. The bosses were some sort of conglomeration between xenophobes and tumors. Either way, it was nearly impossible to kill the thousands of flying things while avoiding touching the damn walls.

Track and Field



To be honest, I don't even know if this game could be beaten. I really don't remember. All I remember was developing carpel tunnel syndrome at the age of 8 trying to push the A and B buttons successively faster than my brothers. I'd say we spent about 20% of our time together trying to press the A and B buttons faster than the other guy. And screw you if you had the NES Turbo controller. Just screw you.

Ikari Warriors

I knew the cheat code to never die (A-B-B-A). AND I STILL COULDN'T BEAT IT! Adrian Klinzeng and I once spend 3-4 hours playing this damn game, continually pressing A-B-B-A determined to just beat it once. Well, apparently, after you put in the cheat code two to three hundred times the game just says, "ok, that's enough. Go outside and play," because it stops letting you reload. Bastards.

Ring King
I think we might have been the only family to have this game. It has much less play and nostalgia value than Mike Tyson's Punchout!. It was cool though because you could punch people out of the ring.

NES Play Action Football


The NES ventured into the four-player football game and it was a disaster. It was also the first and last football game to employ the diagonal playing field. It was a bitch to even throw the damn ball. The ironic thing is that is was supposed to bring video game football a new degree of realism not attained in the extremely-fun Tecmo Bowl series. Instead, this game was a mess. And part of the reason it's on this list is because I don't think any 9 year old has the patience to play a whole game of this. Seriously, it takes like six minutes to run down the field. I mean: it had actual 15 minute quarters!!! Are you kidding me?! We're supposed to spend an hour playing this stupid game?!

Dragon Warrior

It took hours just to get to the point where you could even fight the last boss. I got there once after what must have been weeks playing it. And then the last guy just killed me in about five seconds. I never picked up the game again. Still, that didn't stop me from trying my hand at Dragon Warrior 2 and Dragon Warrior 3 which I never beat as well. Believe me, when I retire, I'm going to go back and find an NES and spend my Golden Years trying to beat these games.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
No, not that TMNT game. That game freaking ruled. This game totally sucked. The level that you see above was a bitch, and it was like the third level. I don't think I ever even got halfway past the game. Still, I would have purchased anything with the Ninja Turtles on it at that time. Bedsheets, pregnancy tests, you name it.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

I still can't believe I never beat this game, for as much as I played it. I think I got to the last guy once. It's like, your shadow, or something, right? Someone help me out here. Well, I got to that guy once, and like Dragon Warrior, pretty much gave up after I realized there was no way in hell I was going to beat this. I guess I figured I'd just wait until the Internet was invented and just download the final end scene.
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Special Category - Games That Were Impossible to Beat, Unless You Cheated; Then They Were Really Easy
Contra
This one gets it's own special section. Everyone beat it, but not without the Konami 30 lives code (Up-Up-Down-Down-Left-Right-Left-Right-A-B-Start). I'm not sure if they actually expected us to beat this without it. At any given time you'd have about 700 bullets (or whatever) flying at you. And if you touched one, you were dead. You're supposed to beat that with three lives? Really?
Still though, this game truly rocked. And it gets bonus points because you could steal someone else's lives after you used yours up. And then they in turn could out-jump you on the vertical jumping levels and then kill you. Good times.

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So vent your frustration with these games in the comments, or suggest others that I may have missed. Let's put these dormant issues to rest.

Friday, May 04, 2007

MP3 of the Week : "Jon Stewart is part of the new media" Edition


If you've got a cool half hour to kill, I highly recommend his conversation with Bill Moyers about journalism in America (complete with Daily Show clips for good measure). You can watch the full interview here. It's witty and thought provoking.
More Americans get their news from nightly talk shows like Jon Stewart than the actual news. And I don't think that's such a bad thing. Sure, it'd be nice if we could get teenagers to watch the Newshour with Jim Lehrer but it isn't going to happen. Stewart, which assuredly biased and cynical, is knowledgeable enough that he can make you think. And he's separated from the machine enough that he can be relatively independent.

So I encourage you to watch his sit down with Bill Moyers. Yes, he's a comedian and I wouldn't go out and get rid of Reuters just yet. But aside from being damn funny, he's not too bad of a journalist... if he were one.
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In honor of Feist's new release (which I have on the best authority is simply excellent), here is an mp3 of what is as of now her most famous song, remixed by The Postal Service. Everyone loves the Postal Service, right? So watch Jon Stewart, and listen to the PS Remix of "Mushaboom."


Feist's new album: The Reminder