Monthly Archives: April 2007

Nothing But Trouble

I’ve been caught performing one of my trademark disappearing acts again, as work on my next two novels has taken up most of my free time—by which I mean my Internet time. I usually do things in a not-everything-at-once kind of way, but Sean is eager to do a collaboration of sorts, so it looks like my multitasking abilities (or lack thereof) will be put to good use throughout the remainder of the year.

I tried out the new Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty), and was quite impressed. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to use Ubuntu Linux on my system—the 6.x series wouldn’t even install for reasons beyond even the geek gods over at (my Compaq SR1930NX is uber-picky, it seems). Highlights: continued refinement of the GNOME desktop (though still too sparse for my taste); an excellent software repository; crisp, anti-aliased fonts out of the box (as has been my experience since Ubuntu’s 5.04 days); ATI graphics drivers that aren’t all that difficult to install…if you can find the right forum tutorial (some are easier to follow than others). Drawbacks: MP3 / DVD support still requires repository scavenging; GNOME still hasn’t overcome most of the annoyances listed here; my Visioneer 6100 USB scanner still isn’t supported; the default Ubuntu drivers for my onboard RealTek audio don’t allow for equalizer adjustments, meaning I have to depend on my audio player software for equalizer features—which isn’t as easy as it sounds, considering virtually none of the Linux audio players I’ve found include built-in equalizers (Audacious does, though, and is quite nifty, if you’re a Winamp fan). Is Ubuntu any good? For a Linux distribution, hell yes. Will I be switching? …not quite yet (again, this has more to do with GNOME’s quirks than with the overall Linux “experience”).

It’s already hot and sticky here in Orange County, and that means many a sweltering night sitting half-dressed in front of the TV and watching cheesy $7 DVDs, courtesy of the local Wal Mart. Two brilliant pieces of schlock were recently added to my collection: Nothing But Trouble and Head of the Family.

The former, starring Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, and Demi Moore, is hated by many, cherished fiercely by few, and is one of my all-time cult favorites. This is one of those low-caliber storytelling / high-profile casting combinations that makes diving through the discount bin so shamefully fun. Fiack anyone who says different. And as for Head of the Family, why, it’s the prime reason you should drink yourself into a semi-conscious stupor while flipping through late night cable TV offerings. It wasn’t good, but the chick was hot—I certainly liked it better than I liked Gingerdead Man, namely because in this case the producers had the good sense to throw in some bare ass along with the giant, sweaty latex head.

(FYI: The saliva scene, involving a tongue-on-breast shot of Alien 3 proportions, is to die for. Now, whether you want to kill yourself as a grand gesture signifying your having “seen it all” or whether you simply can’t bear to live in a world where screen time is given to talking latex heads while Firefly is continuously denied, that’s your decision.)

Fear of a Blank Planet, the new Porcupine Tree album, is out. The guys are big-time nowadays, what with their fancy Atlantic Records contract, but I still love them—and Fear of a Blank Planet is a flippin’ awesome album, a little short, but a welcome release nonetheless. Ringleader Steven Wilson’s penchant for bitter, angst-ridden socio-political (there’s that label again!) lyrics and driving rhythms shines through nicely—and the CD’s mastering didn’t require me to reset my equalizer settings to curtail clipping. It was also nice to hear the cameo from Alex Lifeson (after Rush’s 2002 album, Vapor Trails, I wasn’t sure Alex was going to do a guitar solo ever again). Nicely done, boys.