zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (OMGWTF)

"When we last left our Hero, he was struggling with lower back pain and trying to figure out which combination of medication worked best for him through trial and error and visits to the emergency room."

Well, it's December 22nd now and my back has been healed for a couple of weeks.
But it took a while to get there.

My previous post was on November 25th and I was on Cyclobenzaprine, Ibuprofen, and Tramadol.
Turns out the Ibuprofen wasn't doing anything. I had forgotten that stuff didn't work on me.
So I went back to using the Midol Complete instead of the Iburpofen.
On November 26th, I went to see Plaid live at El Rey Theater in Mid-Wilshire.
When the staff saw me hobble in on my cane, they pulled a chair out for me to sit on.
The venue is standing-room-only with a few chairs against the wall, but they pulled a chair
out and put it in an alcove near the stage. What sweethearts! :)
John Tejada opened for Plaid and played some nice House/trance of his own devising.
Lots of nice bass giving me a free back massage. :D
Then Plaid came on and played 90% stuff I'd never heard before, which is not surprising since I hadn't listened to their new album just yet. Good stuff...
After the gig, I drove to the LAX MArriottttt to hit whatever room parties were still going at LOSCON, the L.A. literary sci-fi convention. I saw Spino and spouse and Tadao and Warren...
I stayed until 2:30am, then the parties shut down one by one. I was only there for 2.5 hours but I got gouged for parking for $23.50. Wow, really? No wonder the con was underattended.
From there, I went straight to the ER to try and get something strong that worked!
They actually took a couple of x-rays of my back this time and wouldn't you know it? They found a tiny gremlin gnawing on my lower back muscles. HAR!! :D
No, they found nothing out of the ordinary, which seems to confirm that I had pulled a muscle. They gave me a prescription for Toradol, which is the pill equivalent of the anti-inflammatory injection I had been given on my previous visit that did so much good and had me walking almost normally within the hour. I went to the 24-hour pharmarcy to get the Toradol, then went home.
It was 7am on Sunday November 27th and I went straight to bed.

I woke up at 3pm, took my new meds regimen 1) Midol Complete, 2) Cyclobenzaprine, and 3) Toradol, then stayed in bed until 5pm to give time to the meds to work. I then got up.
The pain was a lot less severe and I was able to stand up within 5 minutes of sitting up. The
Toradol was the missing part of my treatment. I still needed an hour of sitting in my nice upright desk chair to become flexible enough to shower and get dressed though.
But this was awesome news! I could actually go back to the office! I set one alarm at 6am to take my pills then one alarm at 8am to get up, and I could be at the office by 10am! Huzzah! :D
And that was my routine for several weeks. I ran out of the Cyclobenzaprine, which was not
refillable, and continued with the Midol and Toradol as my back slowly healed.

On Thursday December 1st, I left the cane at home. It was no longer needed. :)
By Monday December 5th, I was taking the Midol and Toradol only in the morning.
On Wednesday December 7th, I stopped taking the meds, and also learned that the office would be closed from Friday December 23rd to Tuesday January 3rd. ZOMG REAL PAID VACATION! :D :D :D
We were gonna be closed for Christmas and New Year's anyway, but there was uncertainty about the days in between the two. Mystery solved! :D
And my back has been getting better and better. Strangely, I get occasional pain in my hips, but I figure it's "aftershock" pain from the lower back. I'm also getting used to the new bed.

On Saturday December 10th, I went to my LUGOLA meeting. Got some good Lego parts from a couple of people and a set of those nifty Incredible Cross-Sections books on the Star Wars prequels. Just the thing for ship design and building! After the meeting. I hit the nearby Toys'R'Us to look around, and walked out of there with some brand new City sets, including the firefighting SuperScooper airplane. Yea BOGOHO sale!
It was supposed to be Movie Night but my guests were still entrenched in scholastic work, so it was put off. Instead, I got dolled up and went to my friend Fritz's holiday party out in Lakeview Terrace. It's always cool, with lots of people and lots of food. I saw Noel and Julianna, which is always fun, and talked to an older women who flies helicopters. She was happy to find someone to talk whirlybird with. :D
I finally went home at 4am.
Since I got home so late, I slept most of Sunday, finally getting up at 3pm. I did some computer stuff, then called my friends to see if they were still mired in scholastic stuff. They weren't and wanted to do short Movie Night (since Sunday is a school night for everyone). They came over at 7pm, bringing forth deliciousness from Tito's Tacos. We consumed the deliciousness ravenously. Then I showed them the launch of the most recent Soyouz rocket with Angry Bird charm inside capsule. It was snowing a little at Baikonour that day and the winds were light, so they launched. Is not Russian rocket if not launch in blizzard. :D
Then we watched our feature presentation: "Doomsday" (Unrated). Released in 2008, this British film was made for people who like "Escape From New York", "The Road Warrior", and "Aliens". It's got that same vibe, the heroine has an eyepatch, she commands a squad of soldiers, and instead of Manhattan, it's the whole of Scotland that has been walled-off after a plague killed millions. None of the dead turned into zombies though, it's not that kind of film. After 30 years, there are survivors, and some of them are right out of "The Road Warrior". It's a fun action film but the Unrated version is rather gory. It stars Rhona Mitra, Bob Hoskins, Alexander Siddig (formerly Siddig al Fadil, aka Dr. Bashir from DS9), Sean Pertwee, and Malcolm McDowell.

The company holiday party was on Thursday December 15th. We had a restaurant/bar in West Hollywood all to ourselves, with open bar and food. And there was musical entertainment from The Banned, which consisted of the company president on acoustic guitar, the studio manager on a guitar, the biker account guy on electric guitar, the intern on electric bass guitar, an IT guy on drums, and the energetic Christian gun-owning account executive on vocals.
And they ROCKED!!! They did some Rolling Stones covers (Under My Thumb, Little Red Rooster, a couple more), "Sedated" by The Ramones, and a few more tunes. Not bad!
I didn't stay very long as I was tired, and since I don't drink much alcohol, the appeal of an open bar is lost on me. The food was very good though.

I haven't shaved since my little stint in the hospital. It's an experiment to see if I can actually grow some kind of beard. My facial hair has notoriously slow growth and nothing grows between my lower lip and the tip of my chin. I had a pathetic mustache that I promptly shaved off, but I'm letting the beard grow to see how far it can get. Yeah, I'm 45 and this is my first beard. :D

Lego and Warner Bros made a big announcement last Friday. Our favorite plastic brick manufacturer will be making sets and minifigs based on Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings trilogy and the upcoming two The Hobbit films. The plan is to release LotR trilogy sets in June 2012, then The Hobbit sets around the time of the first movie's release in November 2012 or whenever.
I may get a couple, most likely the Shelob set. :)

On Tuesday, I broke a tooth. Granted, this was the tooth was root-canaled a while back and needed to be crowned, so it was already in a weakened state. It would have been crowned by now if it hadn't been for the hospital stay and the Lower Back Pain (Icelandic) Saga take me for a ride.
The tooth breakage happened while I was eating some Tim's Cascade-Style reduced fat kettle chips, which are incredibly HARD and which I will never ever EVER buy again!
I made a dentist appointment ASAP and saw him today. He says the rest of the tooth is fine and he wants me to come back tomorrow so he can sand it down or whatever and then put a temporary crown on it while we wait for the permanent crown to arrive in two weeks.
It's now about 6pm and I'm leaving work in a few minutes.
And then it's 11 glorious contiguous days of NOT working and NOT thinking about work! WOO HOO!

if I don't post before then, Merry Christmas everyone!
Joyeux Noël a vous tous! :D

zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Plaid)

There's a couple of things I forgot to mention in previous posts.
One is the new screensaver I'm using on both my work and home computers: Polar Clock.
This was mentioned in the March 2009 issue of "Wired" as one of the top ten things that the staff liked that month.
Actually, it was ranked number 1. :)
Polar Clock shows month, date, day, hours, minutes and seconds as colored concentric arcs that grow as time passes.
They spawn from the 12 o'clock position and grow clockwise, progressively changing color from white to blue to pink
to red to yellow to green back to white. It's pretty and functional, available for Mac and PC.
The Kzin says "check it out".

Another is about eMusic and how they have been busy lately.
First, they've actually signed Warp Records. For real this time.
You might recall the fangasm I had when eMusic accidentally made available a dozen Warp releases for one day.
I guess they licensed the albums for Europe and North America was not supposed to see them. I snagged the stuff
I wanted before they could take 'em down the next day, muahahaha!
It was a while back and I couldn't find the original post because I forgot to tag it with "emusic". Blargh.
Anyway, Warp records is a legendary label in electronica circles, having released some truly excellent material in
its 20 year existence. Warp introduced me to the Egyptronica stylings of Black Dog Productions, a less harsh side
of Aphex Twin (as Polygon Windows), the concept of Detroit Techno with Kenny Larkin and his "Azimuth" album,
and many other wondrous things. Warp showed that there was more to techno than happy fun rave and breakbeat.
You may have heard the term "IDM" (Intelligent Dance Music) thrown about here and there. This is where it started. :)
eMusic is starting off easy with just 19 albums, many of them from the early days.
Which means that, yes, I own most of these on CD already. :)
Of particular interest, if you missed them the first time:

The first "Artificial Intelligence" compilation, providing a 10-track sampler of what to expect from Warp Records.
This and other "AI" releases listed below were distributed in the US by TVT/Wax Trax and those are the CDs I have.

Autechre's first two albums, "Amber" and "Incunabula". Much more melodious than their later output.

Kenny Larkin's wonderful "Azimuth" album. I've babbled about Detroit Techno in this journal many a times.
This album will give you a good idea of what Detroit Techno is all about, a sort of futuristic techno soul.

"Frequencies" by LFO, not to be confused with the stupid failed pop band LFO that came later.
This LFO actually has talent and rocked the house back in the day. This album is a must-have.

"Surfing On Sine Waves", the only album ever released by Polygon Windows, a Richard D. "Aphex Twin" James pseudonym.
It's very different from his "drill'n'bass" and acid madness from the early days. It's still strange and it's still
got a beat though! Definitely worth checking out.

And last, but in no way least, "Bytes" by Black Dog Productions (mistakenly listed as "Various Artists" by eMusic).
I know I've talked about Black Dog Productions and Plaid in this journal before. Black Dog was Ken and Ed and Andy.
Then Andy and Ed left and used their Plaid moniker as a permanent band name. Ken still makes music as The Black Dog.
eMusic carries a lot of The Black Dog, some of it dating back to when Ed and Andy were still in the group.
I urge you to listen to the bits of "Bytes" on eMusic and hear for yourself the wonder that is Black Dog Prods.
There's really nothing quite like it. The odd beats, the strange ancient Egyptian vibe to some of the tracks.
I find this stuff utterly entrancing. This is why Black Dog/Plaid are my all-time favorite electronic artists.
Yes, even more favorite than Orbital or Kraftwerk or The Orb or the Detroit Techno guys. :D

eMusic has also signed Superstition Records, a German label that became the refuge of artists formerly on the
Eye-Q Records labels: Harthouse, Eye-Q, and Recycle Or Die. I have an awful lot of Eye-Q CDs, so I am interested.
The style of Superstition seems to be mostly German Trance and House.
And holy crap, there are 172 different items listed under that label on eMusic! O_O
Off-hand, I recommend looking at stuff from Humate, LSG and Mijk Van Dijk.

And finally, The Prodigy have a new album: "Invaders Must Die". It's okay, nothing particularly groundbreaking.
I do like tracks 2 ("Omen"), 3 ("Thunder"), and 5 ("Take Me To The Hospital").
I am intensely amused by Track 9, "World's On Fire", because it contains a beat that really really REALLY sounds like
something Praga Khan/Lords Of Acid have used in one of their tracks. I mean, really, it's hilariously blatant! :D

And that's it! I think I'm forgetting another label and...
Oh yeah, Metropolis! No, wait, I think I mentioned it before.
Anyway, with Metropolis, eMusic now has everything Juno Reactor ever released, including their crappy new album,
"Gods And Monsters", which really sucks, and "Luciana", the weird-ass 1-hour ambient collaboration with The Orb.
Which is actually hard to find on CD, and is one single track so it counts as only one download, nice one eMusic!
Metropolis also means a truckload of Gary Numan, KMFDM (WOOH!), Meat Beat Manifesto (YEA!), Front Line Assembly,
Assemblage 23, Clan Of Xymox, Die Krupps, Front 242, Mindless Self Indulgence, and other happy fun industrial acts.
Achtung baby! :D

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this lil' ride through eMusic's neat new (old) stuff.

zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Plaid)

So a couple of weeks ago, I went to see Plaid live.
My all-time favorite band is The Stranglers, but my favorite electronic band is definitely Black Dog/Plaid.
Here's a quickie overview of Black Dog Productions and also of Plaid.
(By the way, a French design outfit called Pleix made a bizarre video for Plaid, among other nifty things. Go see!)

A friend of mine from back in 1998, when we both worked at Jobtrak, is a DJ named Hoseh, part of Dublab.
When we first met, he was astounded that a crazy French guy like myself would be into weird music like Autechre, Plaid,
Boards Of Canada, Aphex Twin/AFX, Squarepusher and the like. Then I told him I loved Detroit Techno and he laughed.
We were good friends and traded music information. I listened to his weekly show on KXLU, "Headspace".
After leaving Jobtrak to do production testing for my friend "Spaceman" Fritz, we kinda lost touch.
A couple of months ago, I got on the bus home and ran into Hoseh. He was drunk. Smashed. Hammered. Knackered.
He recognized me, I recognized him, we chatted a bit and exchanged cellphone numbers. I called him a week later and left him
a voice-mail, reassuring him that he hadn't had a drunken hallucination and we had really met on the bus. You never know.
What's funny is that, two months prior to running into him, I was reading a music magazine with an interview of Dntel,
a local emo-electronic artist. There were pictures of the artist and he looked damned familiar. And as I studied the
pictures more intently, it hit me suddenly. It was Jimmy, a friend of Hoseh. He had also worked at Jobtrak back in the day.
Wow, small world.
So anyway, fast forward 4 months, I call Hoseh again and this time he picks up the phone.
And he tells me about opening for Plaid. And he puts me on his guest list. And I start bouncing off the walls.

The gig was at the Natural History Museum Of Los Angeles County.
This is close to USC and on the same city block as the California ScienCenter (where the Star Wars expo took place).
"Und here vee see zee huge bull triceratops engaged in ein life-und-dess struggle viss der tyrannosaurus rex."
The evening consisted of music and lectures and an outfit named Hit+Run doing custom t-shirt silk-screen printing.
The opening band for Plaid was The Submarines, who played what could be best described as Lullaby-Rock (snooooore...).
Jimmy/Dntel was there and DJed before The Submarines went on. He played a few tunes I recognized, and a new one that my
cellphone was able to ID, which is cool because I want to find that tune! Then The Submarines started playing.
After listening to them for a bit, I wandered around the museum, looking at the exhibits.
I checked out the Mesoamerican gallery and examined the artifacts. They felt very alien to me. And evil.
I was overcome by a peculiar sense of dread. I just couldn't relate to these cultures. It was very strange.
Photos: Ullamiliztli? - beheaded Ullamiliztli team captain (snakes symbolize blood, lifeforce) - calendar reproduction

Returning to the central hall, I parked myself in the DJ area, chatted with Jimmy and gave him my business card.
When The Submarines ended their set, Hoseh jumped on the turntables and started off his nifty electro-latino DJ set with
Señor Coconut's cover of Kraftwerk's "Home Computer". The rest of the set was awesome, with at least two tracks by Plaid.
He did all this on vinyl! Just like a real DJ. :)
Photos: Hoseh doin' his thang - Hoseh rockin' the '67 Pioneer headphones. Retro, baby!!
Then Plaid went on.

The sound was loud, the bass was strong, and it's a good thing too because there was a quartet of chuckleheads standing in
front of me who blabbed for half the set. I heard conversation noise but couldn't understand what they were saying.
I could understand doing this on the outskirts of the crowd, but right in the middle of the crowd? With people around them
obviously drinking in the sounds? These morons stood there with their beers and glasses of wine, having some sort of deep
intellectual conversation (or not). They couldn't hear me growl. I dearly wanted to shut 'em up. Eventually, they moved on.
Watching Plaid or any other electronic outfit live is usually not terribly interesting: it's two guys with laptops.
They had a third guy with them who provided visuals, and said visuals were nifty.
The current Plaid album is a CD/DVD combo called "Greedy Baby" and it features the guy's visuals.
(Yes, my favorite techno band put out an album I didn't know about. Le argh. I have to buy it now.)
After the gig, I managed to meet Ed Handley of Plaid and shake his hand, and fanboy all over him. It was embarassing... :)
He told me that they had just scored an anime film whose title translates to "Heavy Concrete". He also said the film was
"quite fantastic". Hmmmmmmmmm, definitely something to watch for...
The gig had ended at 10pm but I didn't get home until midnight. I did stop for a bite to eat at an open-late McDonalds
after my first bus. I had some nuggets and one of those new Angus burgers. It was good but dry, as all McDo things are.
So, all in all, an enjoyable evening and totally worth it.

Apr. 6th, 2007 04:08 pm


zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Plaid)

I'm leaving work early today, right now, so I can go home, drop off my stuff, then go see PLAID live!!! (see icon)
Yes, my favorite electronic artist is playing tonight at the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park!
(This is the museum next to the ScienCenter, which hosted the Science Of Star Wars exhibit)
I happened to call my old friend Hoseh two days ago who actually answered his cellphone for once.
"Do you know about Friday?" he asked.
"No," I replied. "What's happening Friday?".
"Plaid is in town, and I'm opening for them."
The friend is a DJ and one of the Dublab crew.
So I told him I would kill whomever he wanted to make it to the show.
He simply put me on the list, and I'm going tonight!
I have to ride a couple of MTA buses, but it's totally worth it! It's PLAID!!!

My nipples explode with delight.
More later...


zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Default)

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