Why Am I listening to ELO's Discovery Album so much lately?

For years ELO's Discovery album represented to me the moment when Jeff Lynne and company totally sold out and went completely disco. Granted, some of their previous albums had disco-like qualities but they were unique and distinct enough to avoid the dreaded "disco" label.  However, this album...this...thing...cast off any pretensions and blatantly declared "Hey, I'm disco. Deal with it.". For a long time I didn't deal with it. Now, I guess I have. At the very least I am listening to that album a lot lately.

I bought the album when it came out (actually I got the cassette tape) and played it for the first time among two of my friends ("J" and "C"). Initially we all reserved comment and suspended judgment until the album was over just so we could hear the album uninterrupted. When it was over the mood was reserved but generally positive. Keep in mind that the three of us generally hated disco with a passion and so we, big ELO fans, were troubled with what we heard. "C" was particularly disgusted by "Last Train to London" and "Shine a Little Love" but not all of the songs in the album had the disco beat. "The Diary of Horace Wimp", for example, was well-liked by "C" and he could forgive the disco elements of the album if he focused on these non-disco songs. "J" and I were less forceful in our opinions. We both were uncomfortable with the disco influence in he album but we weren't ready to condemn it...yet.

Unlike "C" I was (and still am) unable to form a definitive opinion on an album on just the first listen. I need to listen to it three or four times and then mull over it for a while before coming to a conclusion. And that's exactly what I did years ago. After the fourth listen I decided that I could not reconcile the disco songs with the rest of the album. So I put the album (OK, cassette) back in the shelf with the rest of ELO's tapes and almost never listened to it again. I dubbed it ELO's worst album ever and lamented the decline of ELO. Every once in a while I would wonder if I was too hasty in my conclusion and play the tape again only to quickly hit the "eject" button and put the tape back on the shelf.

When the album came out on CD I bought it but mostly because I am a completest and I wanted to make sure my ELO collection was complete even with that turd in the bunch. Heck, I even got the remastered DVD years later. However, other than a test to make sure the CD was working, I never really listened to the album. My disdain for disco was still strong after all those years.

Now? Not so much. It's been many decades since Discovery came out and, in my mind, Disco is no longer that hated affront to all things musical. As a result I've been listening to the album quite a bit lately. The disco songs make me cringe a little bit but I'm more amused now than embarrassed  or angry. Despite the pandering to Disco, the album has a number of really good songs in it and I generally like it now. Some of the songs make me feel happy when I listen to them and that's a good thing.

So, Discovery is no longer ELO's worst album.That dishonor now belongs to Zoom which, even ten years after it came out, I still cringe when I listen to it. **shudder*

ELO did redeem themselves, however, when they produced the album Time. It's a damn fine album and it is comparable to the likes of Eldorado. Considering that Eldorado is my all time favorite ELO album, that's high praise indeed.
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Earth shattering

Dialogue at a meeting this morning:

COWORKER: Anything earth shattering happen while I was gone last week?

ME: Yes, um. There was a big earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.

COWORKER: Oh, ya. um.

Awkward pause.

The Evil Salad Bar Lady

A couple times a week I go to the Cafe here at work to get some salad at the salad bar. Most times it's an easy task. A non-event. Unless, of course, I'm confronted by my arch-nemesis: the Evil Salad Bar Lady.
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Need to post more

I like blogging but I haven't done it in a while. I hope to do more soon. Short little burbs on FaceBook and Twitter ain't doing it for me. Expect to see more from me soon.

I have an incentive to post more. From amazon:

Dear Publisher,

We noticed your blog (listed below) has not updated for more than 30 days. 
Kindle customers expect to receive frequent updates for blogs and news feeds 
to which they subscribe. Because blogs should update at least once per month, we are
cancelling blogs that have not updated in more than 30 days. 
Accordingly, if you do not publish new updates within 7 days, we will remove your
publication from the Kindle Store.

Not that it matters that my blog won't be available to Kindle. I doubt anyone is subscribed to it. However, that reminder was enough to push me to start thinking about blogging more. I got a list of topics in my head on what to write about so it's not a lack of ideas that are hindering me, just a lack of time.

Stay tuned.

More Random Thoughts About CGE2K10

Immediately after posting my last Blog, more Random thoughts about CGE occurred to me. Here they are:

- Favorite question at CGE: Kevin (retroyoungen) asked why the female employees at Home Depot in Las Vegas were so hot. Was it a Las Vegas thing or what? We figured it was either because they were laid off from a local stripper bar, came to Vegas for a stripper but weren't hired by a stripper bar and they took the Home depot job instead or the Home Depot job was a second job to supplement their stripper earnings. In either case we figured it was some kind slowdown in the stripper economy (less tourists in general at Vegas or a general slowdown in stripper bar attendance).

- Strange Neighbors: There was another convention going on at the same time as CGE: National Association of Buffalo Soldiers & Troopers Motorcycle Club held their National Convention there. There was no mistaking a CGE goer and A Buffalo Soldier Conventioneer: The Buffalo soldiers wore distinctive Blue & Yellow and even Brown & Yellow shirts and pants. A few were decked out in full Civil War Union Cavalry uniforms. There was no difficulty in distinguishing between a Buffalo Soldier and a CGE attendee (who normally wore jeans and a T-shirt with some kind of video game related image - Pac-Man, Atari etc.). The only bad aspect of having a Motorcycle club convention at the same time as CGE is that the hotel blocked off a big chunk of the parking garage for the motorcycles. That meant I had to park at the outside lot which meant more walking for me. Grrr.

- Cool Shirt Bro! speaking of Video game shirts, I was wearing an Atari shirt on Sunday and someone stopped me and asked me where I got it. Answer: Amazon.com. Actually several of Amazon's associate stores had them but Amazon got me there quickly. I bought the shirts a month ago and the experience was much more pleasant than the first time I bought an Atari T-shirt. This was back in early 2002 and I had to perform several searches before I could find an online store that sold them (no luck finding any in town). That T-shirt was lost or stolen long ago and I was dragging my feet on getting a replacement since I remembered the Herculean effort to get it. Now it's easy-peasy.

- No Program - One big disappointment for me this year was that there was no CGE Program for this year's event. That was one of only a few pieces of swag I was looking forward to get (along with my CGE badge). Instead of a program there was a letter from Joe thanking us for coming, how great it was to have CGE again and other pleasantries. A program usually lists the alumni who will attend, layout of the floor and other useful and wonderful things. No such luck this time. Bummer.

- What? No Gambling? - I didn't gamble one bit at Vegas this year. Nope. Not even once. Including a flyby trip in 1977, this year marks my 10th trip to Las Vegas. On most of the trips I would give the one-armed bandit a try (Gambling tables like Blackjack, Roulette and Craps intimidate the hell out of me) on most of my trips but not this year. I was planning on putting in $20 or $40 in a machine this time around but I didn't feel like it. I wasn't in a "gambling" mood. Retro video games are more fun. This aspect of the trip was a little embarrassing after I returned home. Friends and family would ask me how much I gambled at Vegas and I would have to tell them (awkwardly) that I didn't gamble. Most people understood and said they didn't gamble either but I did get an odd look every once in a while. **shrug** Been there, done that. I'm a Vegas veteran now. Gambling doesn't attract me.

By the way, my last post may not have appeared quite as Random as I advertised. That's because I took the time to put them in roughly chronological order. They initially came out of my head in random order but I felt the compulsive need to sort them by time.

CGE 2K10: Random thoughts

Last weekend I went to Las Vegas, Nevada to attend CGE 2K10 also known as Classic Gaming Expo 2010. It's a show celebrating the best video games and consoles from the past.

Instead of posting a full blown review, like I've done for some of the previous shows, I thought I'd just post some random thoughts on the matter.

The drive from Albuquerque to Las Vegas is normally about 8 and a half hours (plus time for bathroom breaks and gassing up the car). It took me over ten hours to get there on Friday. Several reasons for this: an intense rain storm in Arizona that reduced visibility to less than 100 feet, slow traffic through Hoover Dam and - more importantly - a traffic accident between Boulder City and Vegas that stopped traffic for a good hour.

I couldn't find a parking spot near the registration desk at the Tropicana and ended up walking a good five minutes to get to the front desk from my car. I was obviously tired from the drive and frustrated from the extended walk when I posted on Twitter and Facebook) that my first impression of the Tropicana was not a good one (in fact is said "DO NOT LIKE" - man, that was harsh).

My mood improved considerably once I found an In-N-Out burger place nearby and quickly finished a cheeseburger and fries (best tasting fries EVER!). Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Burgers.

The show started at 9:00 AM the next morning. In the past I would show up 30 or even 60 minutes before the show just to get a good position in line. This time I showed up at 8:55 AM. I must be getting old: being first in line is not that big of a deal to me anymore. Either that or the show doesn't excite me as much as it used too (in other words, I'm old).

The wait in line wasn't that bad. Five or ten minutes. Either the staff is getting much better at processing the lines or the lines are much shorter than in the past. Or both.

The size of the show (number of tables, floor space, etc.) was the same as before. The number of people there was probably less than in 2007. Seems about the same but I wasn't counting.

There were a lot more new products displayed at the show than I remembered at CGE 2007. I think the AtariAge booth made a difference. They had a number of new Homebrews there, including "Halo 2600"(which was AWESOME!). Rolenta Press had a new book: "Down from the top of its Game" which is the story of the rise and fall of Infocom (the makers of Zork).

I spent a lot more money on games and game related items then I thought I would. In addition to "Halo 2600" I got the following games: Crystal Mines II: Buried Treasure (125 new levels) for the Lynx, Gorf and "Atari XE Video Game Pack" for the Game Boy Advance, and "Incoming!" for the 2600. I also bought three T-shirts, a CD titled "Arcade Ambiance" which has tracks of nothing but the sounds you'd hear in a 1980's video arcade. Got me some Pac-Man related candy in fancy metal cans.

I loved the competition between the AtariAge team and the Digital Press team. On Saturday they played 2600 games against each other and on Sunday they played against each other in a CGE version of Family Feud and Jeopardy.

The museum was the same as before: it's good. Los of interesting artifacts. I didn't stay long however, since I had seen it all before in previous CGEs.

It was hot outside. Above 100 degrees. I did go out periodically to get food and stuff. For lunch I went to the Luxor food court with 98Pacecar. Ate some Caesar's Pizza. On the way back some hot chick grabbed my right arm and said something loudly. I wasn't sure what she said "Let's get Merried!" maybe? the Casino was loud. She was dressed very nicely. Probably a Casino employee trying to get me to buy something. After a moment of extreme awkwardness on my part (I'm a geek, what can I say?) I slowly extricated myself from her (while stammering none sense) and moved on. I think I handled that well. OK maybe I didn't.

I learned that the further you walked away from the convention area, the cheaper and better tasting the food. Coffee and a do-nut just outside the show cost $6.00 which was more than the pizza slice and drink I had at the Luxor food court.

The auction after the show on Saturday was awesome. I got a front row seat. The items for auction were not as good as that of 2007 but still worth waiting for.

After the Auction there was a party. I didn't go. I was tired and hungry. After finding a Subway near the MGM Grand, I returned to my room, ate the sandwich and went to bed. No doubt about it: I'm old.

I watched the movie "Joysticks" which was about a video arcade (think Animal House with an arcade instead of a frat house). The director (Greydon Clark) was there and talked about the movie before and after the screening. It turns out this movie is not available on NetFlix so I wouldn't have been able to satisfy my curiosity when I got home after the show. The director said it was the number one movie in 1983. I think he meant that it was number one in box office receipts for a couple weeks.

The music at the show was pretty good in addition to "8-bit Weapon" and ComputeHer playing at the show, a new band, called "Descendants of Erdrick" played. They're from Austin and their band consisted of two lead guitars, a bass guitar and drums. No vocals. Their music was good and loud. And full of energy. You could easily see their love of their music in their performance. I was impressed enough to buy their two CDs. The lead guitarist was there (Amanda Lepre) and talked excitedly about her band, where they're from, the music they're playing and so on. I like that kind of energy. I hope it lasts (even though I know it will fade over time). I also bought 8BW's and ComputeHer's latest CD's. Played some of the music on the way home.

I saw and met a number of DPers in person that I've only previously seen online: Skaar, EternalTune, Frankie Says Relax, and GarrettAja. I also said hi to DPers I've already met: Sothy, 98Pacecar, VectorMan, Katcho, PapaStu and several others. My only regret is I didn't hang out more with them and taken the time to meet even more DPers that I haven't met already.

After the Joysticks movie there was a screening of "Get Lamp" a documentary of the text adventure games that were popular in the early 1980's. I learned a lot about the early days. I also learned that there is a burgeoning text adventure movement going on in the Internet. I already knew about programs where you could create your own text adventure but this takes it to a whole new level. They screened the one hour version of the movie which is over 90 minutes long on the DVD with multiple sound tracks. I bought the DVD which came with a custom made coin. Cool. reminds me of the extras they packaged in Infocom games (like Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy).

Sunday attendance was much lower than Saturday's. That's normal. I remember other CGEs in the past having the same problem. A lot of the show goers looked like they had hangovers. Probably from the party I didn't attend.

Lots of Arcade games to choose from. I played Gorf for a while. I wish I played some more of the other Arcades.

Monday morning, as I was moving luggage from my room to my car, I spotted a CGE schedule of events poster left behind on the wall by the registration desk. I took it home as a souvenir.

As I was leaving Las Vegas, I was listening to a local rido station. They were discussing the weather forecast. "Today's high: 104 degrees. Not too bad." Really? Not to bad?

The drive home, except for a ginormous rain storm, was uneventful. 8 and 1/2 hours driving plus 30 minutes for bathroom and gasoline breaks.

All in all an enjoyable trip.


This morning, while taking a shower, I came up with a possible solution to a problem that was vexing me all day yesterday at work. I also realized that, on a different task altogether, I forgot to complete some paperwork.

This is not the first time I've solved problems while in the shower* and I dare say it won't be the last. If I had taken a shower yesterday afternoon, I would have solved the problem a full 18 hours earlier. As a side benefit, I would smell fresh and clean in the afternoon.

My point is I think they should install a shower in my office.

*I've also had dreams that helped solve problems for me - though I don't remember them being work related. Once I had a tiny leak in my water-bed and I couldn't find the pinprick hole that was the source of the leak. One evening I had a dream where I was methodically moving the mostly empty water-bed bladder around looking for leaks: empty enough to allow me to move it around but enough water in it to allow me to see water leaking out of it. The next day, I did what the dream told me and I found the leak (it took longer to drain the bed then it did to find the leak). So I take possible solutions from my dream seriously.
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Testing the LiveJournal to Facebook

I just discovered that you can crosspost your LiveJournal entries to FaceBook. That is cool. I'm sure this feature has been available for a while but I didn't think about it until today. Typical me.

Anyway, this post is a test. Let's see if it shows up on FaceBook.

Lazy Writers

Earlier today I was reading the article 15 Ways Python Is a Powerful Force on the Web at insidetech.monster.com and discovered that Python was not named after the snake but rather after the British comedy troupe:

An important goal of the Python developers is making Python fun to use. This is reflected in the origin of the name—based on the British television series “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” and the “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” movie. There is a common practice of using Monty Python references in sample code, and in the sometimes playful approach to tutorials and reference materials. For example, the metasyntactic variables often used in Python literature are spam and eggs, instead of the traditional foo and bar.

"That's cool", I thought and I decided to do some research on Python to confirm that statement and learn more about the relationship between the programming language and my favorite band of English comedians. I was a little annoyed when I found this in Wikipedia:

An important goal of the Python developers is making Python fun to use. This is reflected in the origin of the name (based on the television series Monty Python's Flying Circus), in the common practice of using Monty Python references in example code, and in an occasionally playful approach to tutorials and reference materials.[22][23] For example, the metasyntactic variables often used in Python literature are spam and eggs, instead of the traditional foo and bar.

Except for inserting a reference to the Holy Grail movie, the InsideTech quote is word-for-word the same text as that found in Wikipedia. "What the hell?" was my first reaction. Getting the information from Wikipedia for the article is fine but the writer was too lazy to at least reformat the sentence in his own words.

The optimist in me was hoping that the writer of the InsideTech article also contributed to the Python article in Wikipedia. However, the pessimist in me is telling me that I'm being very naive.