Saturday, December 22, 2007

APHC - Live!

My darling wife, Debbie, was kind enough to track down tickets for A
Prarie Home Companion show at Lehigh Universities Zoellner Arts Center
in Bethlehem.

She tried very hard to get tickets to the Saturday actual recording of
the show but got burnt by the online ticket sales because she didn't set
up an account fast enough, and try as she might, couldn't get tickets
before they sold out in an hour.

About a month later she got a call that they were adding another show
and would she like tickets? She got us a pair.

So what we actually saw was a dress rehearsal for the Saturday show, but
instead of a two hour show, we got three hours! We got a lot more music
than the final show but for me, that was fine as quite a bit of it was
by Pat Donahue played on several of the various guitars that he was
loaned from the nearby Martin Guitar plant in Nazerath. I love guitar
music, pretty much any type.

The Central Moravian Church Choir, and the Bethlehem Bach Choir each did
several numbers as well as backed up Keillor and crew with not only
regular musical numbers but comedy skit numbers as well, variously
moo-ing, baa-ing, and howling as cow, sheep, and wolf populated choirs.

The skits included a Dusty and Lefty, Catchup, Be Bop A Re Bop Rhubard
Pie, and Powdermilk Biscuits, starring Garrison Keillor, Tim Russel, Sue
Scott, and Fred Newman. And of course, the Guy's All Star Shoe band were
on hand to provide bumper music, backup music, and just general all
around music. Listening to the actual broadcast this evening, I find
that the skits themselves are all there, but they've had to pick and
choose between all the different musical pieces and choose what works
the best. Pretty interesting to see what was chosen, and in what order
its presented.

Robin and Linda Williams also did several songs on the show, and were
all by themselves, a great show.

Sitting in what was essentially the second row, we were about 15 feet
from the stage and both Deb and I enjoyed the show a lot. I'm sure its
one of those things I'll never forget, and having seen Michael Feldman's
Wha' Dya' Know (with special guests They Might Be Giants) in NYC a
couple years ago I have to admit, I sort of feel complete. Now I can
just laze around in my easy chair watching the TV or listening to the
radio from now on! If you ever get the chance to see the show live, my
advice would be to jump at the chance!

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Email spys?

I don't know if any of you use Google mail (Gmail), and some folks don't
use it for this very reason, but the program somehow scans your emails
for key words and then your sidebar ads are influenced by these
keywords. So if I get an email that has comic books used in it, I'll
have adds on the sidebar for comic books. Google insists that its all
automated and quite frankly, I don't care because I'm not posting
anything "secret."

But yesterday, on my computer at work (whose mailbox gets at least 100
spam emails a day) I sent an email using the term VIP, and minutes later
a spam email showed up using that very term. Then this morning I no
sooner read an email from a friend named Anthony, and a spam email shows
up (on my Sidekick account) from anthony (lower case on the email). Not
sure when my friend Anthony sent his email, it may have been a
conicidence, but I only get about 25 spams a day to this account.

I'm just wondering if the spammers are using something like Gmail is
using... (of course, some of my spam is random, like the one I just got,
as I don't recall talking about a "small member" anytime lately!)

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Terry Pratchett's Discworld

Years ago my friend Steve, gave me the first two books of Terry
Pratchett's Discwold, The Colour of Magic, and The Light Fantastic. I
read the first and while I thought it humorous, I wasn't impressed
enough to give it further reading time, relegating it to the "I'll
listen to the audio book if I can find it" virtual pile.
Around the same time I discovered (no doubt thanks to Steve's
recommendation) the work of Douglas Adams, and became a big fan,
devouring all of his books in prose and audio adaptations. Alas, Adams
passed away at an early age and left a gap in the various genres that I
like to switch between as I read.
I should mention here that my son Cory is also a big fan of the
Discworld but he primarily like the sub-series featuring stories of the
gaurds. His further recommendation was pushing me to try some more of
the books, but he couldn't pinpoint a jump-on point. So recently I
talking to my friend Shawn ( who is also a big
Pratchett fan, and he says, with very little thought, "oh, that's an
easy one, read Small Gods, its one of Pratchetts best Discworld books
and its also a stand alone for the most part.
Small Gods is the story of a young man named Brutha who has the bad luck
to make the acquantance od a small one eye turtle who claims to be the
god Om, that he and the peoples of Brutha's country believe in. Om
himself is frustrated in that he has no idea why he's stuck in the body
of a small one-eyed turtle when he used to manifest himself as gian
golden bulls and the like. The rest of the story tells of Brutha's
reluctant quest to help Om regain his former position, while at the same
time having fun with religion and religious beliefs.
I enjoyed reading Small Gods so much I asked Shawn, "okay, what next?!"
to which he (virtually) shrugged and said, "well, they're kind of hit
and miss so you might want to go back to the beginning." Remembering
enough of Colour of Magic not to have to go back and read it, I went out
and picked up Light Fantastic, which starts off rather weakly (in my
opinion anyway) but ends pretty well. It is a sequel to Colour of magic
and like its predecessor, pokes fun at all kinds of fantasy stories,
from Tolkien to Conan (you've gotta love the octagenarian Cohen the
Barbarian!) and somewhere along the way, I think Pratchett finally
started to like his characters and realize that he had a good thing
going. If nothing else, the first two books do pretty well set the stage
and rules of this very different fantasy world.
So now I'm hooked and stopping into Borders every Friday with my latest
20 or 25% off coupon to buy another volume, the third of which, Eqaul
Rites, is the one I'm now reading. You see, my theory is, that it isn't
so much that they're hit and miss as it is that Pratchett just gets
better over time with what he's doing and where he's heading. So far my
experience is bearing that out.
Equal Rites starts out with a dying wizard willing his powers to the
eighth son of an eighth son, the only hitch being that the son is a
daughter. The local witch/midwife, Granny Weatherwax, who is anything
but wicked, trys to help the family ignore their new daughters
birthright, afterall, women are witches, not wizards! She even attempts
to bring young Esk up as a witch, but things aren't going to be that
easy! I won't to tell you any more as I don't want to spoil it, and
anyway, I'm only 60 pages into the book myself! But I can tell you that
this book easily has the promise of being as good as Small Gods was. The
story reminds me just a little of The Sword In The Stone by T. H. White,
but presented with Pratchett's own marvelous tongue in cheek

So far I've got nine of the thirty-eight books that Pratchett has
written about the Discwold and I'm reading my fourth, so I've got a lot
of good reading ahead of me. You're even luckier if you've never read
any Pratchett, because you've got even more good reading ahead of you!

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