Saturday, July 30, 2005

Googled!

I installed a new site counter (it's called Sitemeter -- check it out, it's free!) a couple days ago because the one I was using before has exceeded its server capacity and had promised a reduction in service to zero very soon. Sitemeter is cool because it not only counts unique visits to the site, it tells you how they got there. And, since Google owns Blogger, blogs like mine frequently turn up in Google searches. Here are three searches that turned into page visits last night:


Click 'em yourself if you want to see why the search results returned The Bitter Buffalo.

(Special note to recent Googlers: Ever since the 3rd season finale of Reno 911! aired, my hit counts have nearly tripled from people like you who are hoping to divine the truth to the Aaron Ruell (who starred as Kip in Napoleon Dynamite) / Reno 911! mystery. I Googled the answer for you already: Aaron Ruell is not Craig, the Truckee River Killer. He is a photographer and BYU college buddy of the guy who wrote and directed ND. The guy who plays Craig in Reno is named Kyle Dunnigan, and he's a circuit stand-up comedian. Sorry to burst your bubble. The least you ingrates could do is leave a comment thanking me.)

It appears the public is concerned about the spooky resemblance (coincidental, I assure you) between Kip from Napoleon Dynamite and the guy who plays the Truckee River Killer on Reno 911! (all four Aaron Ruell searches came from different ISPs, so it's not just one obsessive guy trying to uncover the entertainment scoop of the century). And they appear equally interested in slutty goths and naked women in Wes Anderson movies.

Man, I love the Internet.

posted by Bill Purdy, 7:36 AM | link | 4 comments

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Lamenting the Fall of M2

Lots of people who read this blog (my mom comes to mind, but there are others -- you know who you are) have no interest in a discussion of music videos. You pay as much attention to them as I do to Home Shopping channels. To you, I suggest you come back later to read another story about fish eating my friend's dangly mole. That story will be posted here next week, I am sure.

But there are a diehard few of you who probably feel the same way I do. To wit, there just aren't enough places to see good music videos anymore.

I recall the glory days of music video -- way back in 1999-2000, when MTV2 called themselves M2 and presented an absolutely glorious ad- and VJ-free 24-hour stream of (quality, mostly indie / alternative) music videos. There was no reality programming, no Ashton Kutcher, no Spring Break, no XTreme sports, no Pimp My Ride. The only time I recall M2 straying from its 24-7 video format was just this once: the weekend before it was available to the general public, M2 broke Radiohead's Kid A in its entirety, playing the whole record several times while showing nothing more than a tonearm riding the grooves of a vinyl record.

Near the end (which was when they rechristened themselves MTV2 and began showing the worst mainstream hip-hop imaginable, 24-7, plus infomercials), M2 ran a pretty cool project. For a period of about 5 weeks, they played every single video in the MTV library, in alphabetical order by song title. During those five weeks, you could turn on M2 and see Aphex Twin, Warrant, Mariah Carey, Eminem, or Fisher Z. If you didn't like what they were showing now, chances were pretty good you'd like what was on 20 minutes later. For nearly a year, I estimate my TV was tuned to M2 as much as 70% of the time it was on. I knew the remote key sequence 1-6-1-Select by heart -- I could find M2 even in the dark. It was wonderful, this M2. It really was.

And I used to blog about it, back in the days before I even knew what a blog was. Once a week, I would sit down for 30 minutes in front of M2 and describe each of the videos I saw during that time period. I even graded each video (videos in heavy rotation were reviewed several times over successive weeks, and inevitably both the descriptions and the grades changed over time). I called each installment "Half Hour Wasted," and sent it in email attachments to friends who also dug music videos. I archived most of the HHWs on another laptop -- maybe someday I'll revive some of them here on The Bitter Buffalo.

In a world with M2, I might have seen Rachel Spektor's subtly disturbing video for "Us" a year ago. And I would have bought the CD for myself (as it is, I only saw the video the other day because it is on an add-in DVD from her latest CD release, which I bought for Beth because she heard a cut on XM). I can think of so many albums I purchased back in the M2 days simply because I liked the video I saw on M2 so much. The Dandy Warhols ("Godless," "Bohemian Like You"), Outkast ("B.O.B"), David Gray ("Babylon"), The White Stripes ("Fell In Love With A Girl"), etc. -- these are CDs I still listen to today. And I never would have bought them had I not seen the videos on M2.

Yes, I know I can download music videos to my computer, but that experience doesn't work as well as watching them on a television, while lounging on the couch, with the stereo cranked. Besides, it's sort of fun to find oneself at the mercy of a talented video programmer -- the old "just one more, I gotta see what's next" feeling doesn't happen when you're watching a video in Quicktime in a 2- by 3-inch window.

I can also watch IMF (the International Music Feed) on my satellite dish, but their rotation is shockingly limited – it seems to be compiled entirely of artists affiliated with the Universal Music Group. So, for every time I see Beck's jaunty "Girl," I have to sit through Eminem's regrettable "Ass Like That" -- twice. And nobody should have to suffer through that particular Eminem tragedy more than once. You won't see me wasting a half hour watching IMF -- ten minutes is about all I can take.

Given the number of quality artists who are making creative videos these days (link to your favorite band's websites -- if they've commissioned videos, chances are good they're available there), and the amount of bandwidth available in today's digital satellite and cable networks, it seems like it would be a no-brainer to develop a really good M2 substitute for today's artists. And given the popularity of events like Coachella, Intonation, and Lollapalooza, as well as encouraging CD sales for upstart artists like the Arcade Fire, there ought to be an eager audience.

So who's gonna pick up the slack?

posted by Bill Purdy, 2:06 PM | link | 2 comments

Monday, July 25, 2005

Piranha!

OK, I swear I did not make this up. This is, in fact, pretty much the kind of thing that happens to me here at work every day.

My buddy Dave and I have the same job. We share an office and we spend an awful lot of time together. I have no problem describing him as a bit of a goofball, just as he'd have no problem describing me the same way.

But this takes the cake. See, Dave just bought a boat: a 19-foot motorboat he can tow to local lakes, back into the water, skipper out to some remote spot, then kill the engine and... I guess sit around. My understanding of boating is that's what's fun about it. And he seems to enjoy it, so who am I to bitch?

Well, he was out on the lake yesterday, wading in the water in the middle of the lake, and he got a leg cramp. And while he was thrashing in the water, he felt something on his back. Once the pain in his leg subsided, he investigated more closely. A fish was nibbling at him -- in fact, it could have been several fishes. They weren't nibbling at his fingers or his toes... noooo, that would be normal. These fishes were nibbling at a skin tag on his back.

In case this wasn't clear: The fishes were trying to eat a nasty, dangly mole, on Dave's back.

I know about this because Dave came into the office this morning complaining about his sore skin tag. He even lifted his shirt up and let me take a look at it. Yup, I saw, that tiny little brown flap of skin appeared to be seriously irritated. Little marks that could have been bite marks surrounded a puffy brown-red flap in the middle of a vast, pale expense of back skin.

Is it any wonder I've been feeling kinda queasy all day?

posted by Bill Purdy, 11:54 AM | link | 2 comments

Saturday, July 23, 2005

He's Bitter Because He's Hungry

I spent 3 hours yesterday tweaking the HTML from a Blogger template I downloaded in order to wind up with this, the new home of The Bitter Buffalo. If it's not working for you, you're probably running IE -- there is an as of yet unresolved bug in IE that prevents the page from loading completely when it is initially accessed. You can download Firefox (find it here: Mozilla Firefox) which I recommend, since IE is for pussies, or Opera (which I recommend less enthusiatically because it runs ads in the borders unless you pay for it), in both of which The Bitter Buffalo loads fine. Or, if you insist on using IE (you pussy), you can surf to another page, then use your Back button to return to this page. This seems to fix the problem. Maybe some day, when I actually learn HTML, I can fix it. Meantime, enjoy the new look.

posted by Bill Purdy, 2:50 PM | link | 1 comments

Friday, July 22, 2005

My Insanely Ambitious Summer Reading List

I decided I don't read enough. So, in typical fashion, I have assembled a stack of books I'd like to hammer my way through over the next several months. Here is what I have so far. Feel free to amend or suggest order:

Currently reading:

Books in queue:
A conservative estimate of total pages represented here is over 7,000. That's more pages than I have read in all of the last two years. Do you think I can do it?

posted by Bill Purdy, 9:57 AM | link | 4 comments

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Kingdom of Moronia


Beth and I bought our house here in Rolesville, NC (just NE of Raleigh) last April. And, as much as we love it, we both realize there is a great deal of potential still to be realized in our yard. The builders sprinkled some evergreens around the perimeter of the house, some turf grass in the front yard, and left some tall scrappy pine trees (originally planted maybe 10 years ago as erosion control) here and there. It's entirely competent, but ultimately uninspiring -- especially the pine trees, which seemed cool at first but now, just seem messy and spindly.

The yard has the potential to be something truly magical. Our lot is long and narrow, about two-thirds of an acre, flat on the street side and sloping down from the house to the back of the lot. The back half of the lot is all large deciduous forest -- oaks, maples, dogwoods, sweetgums, wild hollies -- between our house and a small creek which even on the driest days trickles over several large, mossy, dome-shaped rocks, and which turns into a veritable waterfall during storms (see picture). While it's a bit overgrown now and somewhat difficult to navigate, with a little work I could easily envision a nature trail winding down the hillside to the creek. With the abundance of flora and fauna in North Carolina, this nature trail would become a sort of exploratorium for Logan. And, all we need to do is build a bridge over the creek and Logan could visit his grandparents on the other side -- they live on the adjacent lot in back.

Beth and I commissioned Mark N. Jensen, a gardener who has done some spectacular work in our neighborhood, to come up with a landscape design that incorporated my vision of a nature trail with a cultivated garden around the house. Mark presented those plans to us last night, and I am still reeling at the incredible work he presented.

The front yard incorporates a butterfly garden with a water feature in the bed underneath the front porch. Texture and color are varied with native plants (which Mark incorporates whenever possible) sprinkled throughout. Mark even has a plan to scour the woods behind our house for native plants that could be harvested and transplanted for cultivated use throughout the yard. Several raised stone-walled beds will create some amazing curb appeal. The neighbors will be so jealous.

(Speaking of neighbors, mine to the south built a fence and a gate in my yard without my permission [totally the neighbor's fault], and their builder built a driveway turnaround in my yard [totally their builder's fault, but I think my neighbor should have taken the initiative to fix the problem by now]. My neighbor has so far been reluctant to fix the problems, so Mark's design forces the issue, planting several very spiny holly bushes around the gate, dogwoods next to the driveway, and dense cryptomeria along the lot line. On the master plan Mark presented last night, the neighbor's yard is referred to as "Moronia." Who says artists don't have a sense of humor?)

Mark's pièce de résistance is a gorgeous stone patio beneath our screened-in porch, which will be inlaid with brick pavers in a celtic knot design. This sort of design is right up Beth's alley (and is so cool looking, even I have to concede its inherent beauty), and I have to give Mark credit for figuring this out and incorporating it into the plan.

Mark estimates the entire plan will cost as much as $40,000 to execute. Frankly, that's more than we are willing to spend on our yard. But the plan can be done in stages -- and certain parts of it should be done at different parts of the year anyway (because of local availability of plants & materials). We learned from the Velkys, our neighbors to the north (Mark just finished installing a stunning design there), that Mark tends to estimate his costs very high initially. So, should we go ahead with the project as planned, it might cost us $30,000 -- probably too much still, but getting closer to affordability. For now, we decided to go forward with the patio (which would be the most expensive part of the plan, anyway) starting next week. I'll keep you posted on its progress.

And whenever you come to North Carolina to see us, you can feel free to enjoy our exploratorium, which is conveniently located in the sunny town of Rolesville, just north of the Kingdom of Moronia.

posted by Bill Purdy, 6:58 AM | link | 1 comments

Monday, July 18, 2005

Back in the Saddle: The Bitter Buffalo CD Club lives!

Ola amigos! Been a long time since I rapped at ya, but my ride broke down, and my boss at the corn dog stand gave me the shaft, and...

Anyhoo. I'm back. For a while, anyway. And I must say, I truly missed you. All 300+ of you who've stopped by here since I last posted and discovered no new content here from me. Your patience is monumental. You are all great people.

I'll start (and finish -- I might be back today, but I'm still as lazy as I was yesterday) with a follow-up to my CD Club proposal a while back. Pat, Matt, and Beth (and me) are the club's inaugural four members. Anyone else who wants to join merely needs to post a comment to this post and we'll squeeze you in.

Pat's chomping at the bit to make his disc (I even know the secret theme, but I'm not spilling the beans), so he can go first. I'll go next, Matt third, and Beth last (order determined by coin flip, believe it or not). Pat's disc is due in the mail to the other three of us (feel free to send one copy for both Beth and myself) by August 15. Mine is due September 15. Matt's is due October 15, and Beth's is due November 15.

Only people in the club get a disc, but I am asking you to post the tracklist here, on this blog, the day you put the discs in the mail. That way, everyone else can comment on your selections and get all jealous they didn't sign up.

I will send a spreadsheet with addresses, etc. to club members' email shortly. Meantime, get crackin'. You have CDs to compile.

posted by Bill Purdy, 2:00 PM | link | 2 comments