Battle of the Beatles

>> 20 December 2009

In this blog post, former band-mates square off as we decide which former Beatle's Christmas song is superior.

First, we have Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas Time," a cheery tune written the day after Paul learned how to use a delay effect on a synthesizer. The music video also puts me in the Christmas-cheer; what could be more festive than being serenaded in a dark British pub by Paul McCartney on Christmas Eve?

John Lennon's offering, "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" has become a Christmas classic although it is 1) slightly premature in its declaration that 'war is over' 2) was produced by Phil Spector (the excessive reverb and backing choir are dead give-aways) and 3) this melody was blatantly ripped off from "Stewball" a song about a horse which I remember from my childhood.

Did you forget that there were other Beatles? Because they both have Christmas songs, as well! George Harrison's "Ding Dong, Ding Dong" relies heavily on the notion that "if it was good for thirty seconds, it will be good for three and a half minutes as long as the singer wears truly lavish costumes in the music video."

And finally, we have Ringo Starr's entry, "I Wanna Be Santa Claus," which is, simply stated: shocking. The visual elements were added by some youtuber, but the even without the amateurish and slightly trippy visuals, this song is something else!

Now that you've heard them, it's time to vote for your favorite.

Finally, here's a video of a Christmas song, written and performed by The Beatles, together as a band. What do you think - is the whole greater than the sum of its parts?

Share your thoughts in the comments section!


Chimps on Ice

>> 13 December 2009

Have you ever said to yourself - perhaps in a moment of low self-esteem - "At least I can ice-skate better than a monkey?" Frankly, you probably haven't. But if you have, then this video should wreck your confidence:

Not only can these chimps ice-skate, they can ice-skate way better than I can (and probably better than anyone who happens to be reading this e-blog). AMAZING!

Questions for Discussion:
  1. Do you think that you could ice-skate better than these monkeys?
  2. Is there any competition in which you could be absolutely confident in your ability to best a monkey rival?
  3. Should primates be permitted to compete in the Olympics? Doesn't barring them from competition amount to nothing more than speciesism?
  4. How do you feel about the new ICE-SKATING ANIMALS direction that this e-blog is taking?


"Da Bears"

>> 09 December 2009

I have watched this video twice now, and for some reason, I still have a hard time accepting that it is real.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Would you pay to see a bear hockey match?
  2. How much would you have to get paid to agree to be the referee for this game?
  3. And who organized this game in the first place?
  4. Do you think this was done by the USSR?
  5. How hard is it to train a bear to ice-skate?
  6. How were these bears selected for the game? Were there tryouts?
  7. Who would win in a hockey match: Wayne Gretzky or a Brown Bear?


Review: The Emperor's Children

>> 06 December 2009

The Emperor's Children The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud

My rating: 4 of 5 stars Claire Messud's The Emperor's Children tells the story of three friends on the cusp of turning 30: Julius, Marina, and Danielle. All three are "writers" (who only write occasionally) living in Manhattan in varying degrees of luxury and coping with their inflated senses of entitlement, ambition, and urban ennui. Their (mostly) failed romantic attempts as well as the waxing and waning of their friendship provides the subject matter for the book. The novels principle strength is in the expertly drawn characters. All three principal characters, as well as the other major characters, are simultaneously endearing and off-putting. Even the characters themselves can't agree on what to make of each other. For example, Murray Thwaite, the acclaimed journalist and father of Marina, inspires reverence in his daughter, love in Danielle, and contempt in Ludo (Marina's boyfriend), who claims that Murray is a fraud and an opportunist. I found myself anxiously reading until the end because I was interested in the outcomes that these characters would face. My only real complaint with the novel has to do with the author's writing style. The sentence construction often gets overwhelmingly complex, with appositive phrases, dramatic asides, and wry observations piling up on top of each other until the sentences become a real mess. Here is a relatively mild example, the first one that I found upon opening the book:

She tried to visit other museums as well, different ones each time, and on this visit she proposed the Frick and Pierpoint Morgan, or perhaps the Public Library; but it was to the Met that she returned, as awed each time she climbed the marble steps as she had been, she always told her daughter, when she first came to New York City, a girl of eighteen in her freshman year at Ohio State, traveling with a group of girlfriends over spring break, to her own parent's noisy displeasure.
Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with this sentence, but I will say that when you get three or four of these in a row, it quickly become difficult to remember what was being talked about in the first place. One other potential complaint is that the book is fairly light on plotting. Each character has interesting experiences and conflicts, but there is never a strong sense that the novel is driving towards one climactic ending. In fact, the climax of the novel proves to be somewhat of a fluke that results as a matter of unfortunate chance. Nevertheless, I never felt that the book was boring, but Michael Crichton this ain't. On the whole, this was a very good book that I would recommend. View all my reviews >>

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Ever read this book or anything else by the author?
  2. Think you will read this book?


e-Blog Update

>> 05 December 2009

If you have spent any time reading this e-blog, then you have probably grown accustomed to my e-blog layout, consisting of the simplest possible template and a picture of a Zebra (I'm pretty sure I got rid of that a long time ago, but this was the only screenshot of the e-blog that I had).

Posted by Picasa
Well, things are changing on the internet, and I realized that it was time for some changes to happen on this e-blog. Ordinarily, I read e-blogs in Google Reader, so I never really see the formatting, but after recent visits to Mary's e-blog and Kelley's e-blog, I realized that 1) my e-blog layout left a lot to be desired, and 2) I was going to copy Mary and Kelley down to the simplest details. So, after a lot of time spent scouring the internet for code to borrow, and then much more time spent trying to learn some html and javascripting (I'm still not good at all, but I was able to modify the things that I wanted to modify, and nothing is broken), I am pleased to present the new and improved Joel on Internet! High fives to everyone!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What do you think of the new layout?
  2. Are you secretly laughing at me because I am a computer n00b?
  3. Do you miss that Zebra picture?
  4. Like the picture in the header? Tim took it (along with a series of other cool light paintings).


Gimme Dat Christian Side-Hug and Other Hugs and Sundries

>> 03 December 2009

Fill out the bingo card (below) while you watch this video. How many can you find?

This video got me thinking about all of the different hugs I know and when they ought to be used. Here are a few that I thought of:

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How many items did you cross off the bingo list? Did you get a bingo?
  2. Do you like hugs?
  3. What do you do if someone wants to hug you but you don't want to hug them?
  4. Man Hugs


Who Wants a Wave?

>> 02 December 2009

I have 16 invitations to Google Wave that I need to give away! If you'd like to have one of them, just leave a message in the comments section and I'll send one your way. If I don't have your email address, you might have to leave that as well.

Don't know about Google Wave? This video shows you what it can do:


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