Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Voltaire aka Aurelio Voltaire Hernández, Gothic Rocker

I would not have known how to classify the music of Aurelio Voltaire Hernández before reading about the man online. While several categories are listed on his Wikipedia article, my favorite is something called dark cabaret. Incidentally, that puts his art in the same genre as two other favorites of mine, IAMX and Tom Waits.

One of his popular hits featured in an episode of the 2000’s era cartoon “Billy and Mandy”.  Called “BRAINS!”, it’s terrifically dark and funny, plus downright catchy with some wonderfully fat horns. The man’s voice is fabulous, too.

If you want to find any of his songs, you will want to search using the name Aurelio Voltaire. Apparently, there are other bands going by Voltaire these days. But to me, he’s the real deal.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for Up Arrow - My New Keyboard Trick

People who know me understand that technology is not my strong suit. Sometimes a pig finds an acorn, as they say. Or, as in my case, the pig is lucky to find a savvier fellow. The power of the keyboard’s up arrow is an example of the latter.

I recently griped to my partner about a feature on the Mazilla Firefox web browser. Every time you add to the favorites list, that item is added to the bottom. Come on. It’s something new so of course I want ready access. But no…

You have to find the name in your list and manually drag it to the top. Scrolling down seems so tedious in this fast paced world, which prompted my complaint. Fortunately, I need suffer that no longer.

My partner looked at me and said, “That’s why I hit the up arrow to go directly to the bottom of the favorites list.”

Good grief. What have you learned today?

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

T is for Trending - How to Use it in a Short Story

I recently heard a humorous dramatization on the radio program This American Life that makes fun, in part, of trending. BJ Novak wrote the tale called “Julie and the Warlord” about a couple who met on an online dating service.

From the WBEZ archives of “This American Life”, I learned that Alison Brie plays Julie and Tunde Adebimpe plays the Warlord. Their talented interaction really sells the tale. It’s absurd and hilarious.

I mean, he’s a Warlord. And this ruthless, murdering man obsesses to Julie about how his name is trending on Twitter.

The short story is part of a compilation. If interested, you can read about the book and play the audio here:

Excerpt From B.J. Novak's One More Thing

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for Stuff You Should Know

I promise this is not a pompous portrayal of life lessons I’ve learned. Today’s topic is a podcast carried by two charismatic and convivial hosts.

Alliteration aside, Josh Clark and Charles W. “Chuck” Bryant never fail to educate and amuse me. Even the occasional boring subject leaves me laughing and learning due to their unique banter. I sometimes feel like we’re all sitting around a kitchen table drinking beer or something. They really bring that much of a conversational approach.

Not long ago, a friend of mine suffered a flea infestation. So I sent her the link to the podcast that discussed how to eradicate them. Some episodes are available on iTunes but the full catalog can be found here:

Stuff You Should Know

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Robot Chicken

“Robot Chicken” has to be one of the funniest shows on the planet. Of course, I have a twisted sense of humor. Thank heaven, so does Seth Green.

Remember Thunder Cats and Masters of the Universe? These folks animate the toys for hilariously irreverent sketches. Sometimes, the writers pull something out of where the sun don’t shine. One can’t help wondering if controlled substances are a creative tool. One of my favorite skits features a clown funeral.

Yes, you read that right. Don’t think that sounds like an amusing scenario? Try adding a jack-in-the-box coffin.

Yes. They went there.

In that same episode they really upped the tempo, cranking out countless vignettes in a very short amount of time. Thank heaven for the DVR, because we routinely rewind a segment in order to catch all the gags.

The writers are not afraid of offending anybody and they rip on every trope imaginable. If you like to laugh, set your DVR for “Robot Chicken” featured during Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming and prepare to be amused, or maybe appalled.

Honestly, I feel humor is very important to human health. What’s your favorite source of laughter?

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for Zachary Quinto

Zachary Quinto first came to my notice when he portrayed Spock in the 2009 movie “Star Trek”. I’m sure many fellow science fiction geeks are well aware of this. He really does a fantastic job, in my humble opinion. But I’m more of a horror fan than admirer of this rebooted cinematic series.

And Mr. Quinto was amazing as Dr. Oliver Thredson on television’s “American Horror Story: Asylum”. He looked the period part, too, with that black hair all slicked down and the sixties era conservative dark suit and tie. This is shallow, but he made that look sexy.

“AHS: Asylum” is definitely not for the faint of heart. Its introduction showed so many warning letters (TV-MA, L, S, V for the various parental guidelines) that my partner called it alphabet soup. And yet we could hardly wait for each week’s new episode.

Scary themes and dark storylines are somewhat of an addiction, I must admit. Is there a guilty pleasure on your DVR?

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Elizabeth Peña - May You Rest in Peace

Last October, talented actress Elizabeth Peña passed away at age 55. Without going into sad details, I will tell you that this Cuban born actress graced the US entertainment industry for 35 years. She even took a few forays into television directing.

One can only wonder what else she might have accomplished had she lived another twenty years, or even just one more decade.

I first noted this cinematic treasure in the movie “Jacob’s Ladder”. Ms. Peña’s performance inspired me to name a pet cat after her character. The woman’s smoky voice and petite yet mighty presence come to mind clearly as if I watched the film right this minute. Meanwhile, my feline Jezebel’s large attitude emitted from her small, smoke-gray form seems to pay that performance unique homage.

Somehow I never discovered Ms. Peña’s many other large and small screen appearances beyond that 1990 theater release. Clearly some research needs done, whether I seek older releases or those most recent. The majority should be available in some form or another. I’m sure seeing her would be delightful.

If you are a long-time cinefile like me, what favorite character sticks with you?

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