We’re Watching (The Secret Lair Episode 0003)

If you’re the sort who appreciates post-modern zoetropic presentations, it may be of interest to you that the fellows over at The Secret Lair have made the third episode of their pod-cast programme available for your enjoyment. There is some discussion of the feature films Next (starring Nicolas Cage, Jessica Biel and Julianne Moore) and Dragon Wars (starring Robert Forster and…no one else of whom you’ve likely heard), both of which have been encoded and are available on Digital Versatile Disc. I’m told that this technology—much like the Marconi radiotelegraph—allows for the enjoyment of a virtual theatre in the comfort of one’s own parlor.

The Secret Library (The Secret Lair Episode 0002)

The second episode of The Secret Lair is available for immediate download. If you’re using one of those newfangled podcatchers (like iTunes), the dang thing may have done all the hard work for you; all you’ve got to do is listen. Why, in my day, we had to download files by FTP from a command prompt over a 2400-baud connection and we had to manually set the file type to binary and we liked it! You kids are soft! Soft, I tell you!

Before you had all these fancy Internets and your high-definition television sets and such, we got all of our information from two places: whores and books. Since the boys over at The Secret Lair ain’t whores (yet), they’ve decided to open The Secret Library, an online discussion group that combines the newfangled whizbangery of the Internets with the blood, sweat and good old-fashioned elbow grease of Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press.

So listen to the episode, webalate yourself to Amazon.com or get off your ass and go to your local bookstore or libraryIt’s like a bookstore where all the books are free; perfect for all you left-leaning liberal Pinko wingnuts. and get yourself a copy of Fatherland by Robert Harris. Read all the words, then join in the discussion over at The Secret Lair’s official online community or The Secret Library BookReads group.

Don’t make me tell you again.

Pseudopod 073: Blood, Gridlock and PEZ by Kevin Anderson

Pseudopod: the sound of horror

Right after the Great Christmas Vacation of 2007, I narrated another story for the horror podcast, Pseudopod. The story, which appeared on the site this morning as Episode 73 of the podcast, is Blood, Gridlock and PEZ by Kevin Anderson. Of the three stories I’ve read for Pseudopod thus far I think this one may be my favorite, though I did like Tara Kolden‘s The Heart of Tu’a Halaita quite a lot.

Around Town: Improving Home Improv

The International House of Johnson is heated by a 21-year-old gas furnace, which has been professionally serviced only once in the past seven years. Recently, the cranky old beast began making a considerable amount of noise when the burner ignited. 1One might describe the sound as a small explosion, the impact of which had increased substantially over the weekend. The choice between me emulating Ralphie’s father from A Christmas Story or simply calling someone to clean and service the thing wasn’t really a choice at all; though I might be able to give Ralphie’s dad a run for his money in the rassafrassin’ department, I’m no handyman.

While the guy 2You know: the guy. Anyone who comes into your house to perform some service you yourself are either unwilling or incapable of performing yourself. was at the IHoJ, I received a call from Laura: in addition to a new thermocouple 3I love that my furnace has parts in it that sound like they’re right out of a sci-fi movie. (which the guy happened to have), we needed a new furnace filter (which he didn’t), so I was to stop at Lowe’s on the way home from work to pick up some filters.

Arriving at Lowe’s, I was somewhat surprised to discover that the company (as evidenced in the photo above) had abandoned the DIY home repair market in favor of the DIY improvisational comedy market (which, I can only imagine, is incredibly niche). Fortunately for me, they weren’t finished converting the store, so while Aisle 7 was entirely devoted to audience participation shortform improv, 4“Give me a vocation, a movie title, and an odd habit,” the blue-vested fellow shouted as I walked by. Aisle 8 still contained heating supplies, including fiberglass furnace filters.

The furnace is much quieter now, but for some reason I find myself suppressing a slight chuckle every time I hear the blower kick in.

1 One might describe the sound as a small explosion, the impact of which had increased substantially over the weekend.
2 You know: the guy. Anyone who comes into your house to perform some service you yourself are either unwilling or incapable of performing yourself.
3 I love that my furnace has parts in it that sound like they’re right out of a sci-fi movie.
4 “Give me a vocation, a movie title, and an odd habit,” the blue-vested fellow shouted as I walked by.

Welcome to my secret lair…

Prior to the Great Information Detoxification, I made it known that Chris Miller and I were planning a new podcast, to be unveiled in January. Well, as I write this it is January, and the podcast has been unveiled. It’s called The Secret Lair, and that’s about all I can tell you, because that’s about all I know. The first episode was recorded Monday evening and released yesterday,I would have posted about it sooner, but the plague that has infested the International House of Johnson for the past week suddenly jumped the human/technology barrier Monday night, rendering all computers within those halls unable to connect to KJToo.com and, thus, preventing me from conducting my normal blogging activities or even checking my e-mail. so go to the site and listen. You will find a button there expressly for that purpose, and I encourage you to click it and let your ears and the magic that is the series of tubes between our server and your client do the rest.

If you like what you hear, subscribe to the podcast feed. If you like words, but not in your ears, subscribe to the blog feed; we’ll probably be posting plenty of blog entries independent of the podcast. And if you’re quite fond of our words (spoken, typed, or otherwise) click the Community link while you’re at The Secret Lair; there are others like you and we’re trying to gather them into a single location (but not for any nefarious purpose, I promise).

EDIT: It’s gone. It’s all gone. Farewell to ye, most secret of lairs.

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation…

Laura, Kyle and I spent the last two weeks of December in Michigan’s beautiful (and snowy) Upper Peninsula and, apart from several family members coming down with some sort of gastro-intestinal plague, we had what I will call a grand old time. Here’s just a sampling of the fun:

  • On the 19th of December, Brenda, the older of my sisters (Kyle calls her “Benta, Benta, Benta!”) had her tonsils and adenoids removed and her uvula reduced. This isn’t a big deal when you’re six years old, but is a significantly bigger deal when you’re approaching thirty. She’s recovering nicely, but spent several days with a very raspy voice eating only orange sherbet.
  • Carolers, honest-to-baby-Jesus carolers, came to my parents’ house. In all of my thirty-four years of yuletide celebration, never have I been caroled to in such a manner. My heart grew three sizes that day.
  • There were eighteen people living in my parents’ house over the course of the holidays, including my parents, their six children (plus three significant others) and seven grandchildren.
  • On Christmas day, the number of people in the house doubled.
  • My younger brother bought an eight-foot-tall inflatable Spongebob Squarepants, which he set up inside the house on Christmas morning.
  • Kyle made two snow angels (with my help), fell face-first into six inches of snow (all by his lonesome) and greatly enjoyed being pulled around the driveway in his new sled.
  • On the 26th, my brothers and I (along with the younger of my sisters’ significant other) went to see Alien vs. Predator: Requiem. It was a funny, ridiculously violent movie and I’m pretty sure we all enjoyed the hell out of it. Get to the chopper!
  • My parents now have DSL and a wifi router. On the 27th of December, there were eight devices (seven of them wireless, including an iPhone) with outstanding DHCP leases on the router. My mind was boggled.
  • My mother had a laptop for one day, after which it was returned to OfficeMax. The GPU was bad, causing blue screens of death before I even had a chance the screw up the laptop on my own terms.

There are photos, but I’ve not gotten around to retrieving them from the camera yet. Speaking of photos and cameras, Laura and I had a serious case of camera envy while we were in the U.P. There were a half-dozen digital cameras in the house, most of which were smaller than ours, all of which were faster than ours. I fully believe we’d take more photos if our tired old HP PhotoSmart was more compact and didn’t take 30 seconds to write each photo to the CompactFlash card.