Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Children's Television Workshop

I've been thinking a lot about kids shows these days, mostly because I haven't paid attention in over a decade, and was wondering what happened. The last children's TV product I paid attention to was Pokemon, and that only through my nephew. Now I'm trying to stay tuned in on Sundays before my church of MTP, but it's difficult. Not to mention a whole slew of crappy content out there.

When I was a kid, pretty much the only educational experience in the country (without cable) was static-filled PBS. Everyone remembers '3-2-1 Contact' and 'Sesame Street'. But there are a couple of shows that were burned into my memory at an early age and somehow represent what childrens television out to be...slightly creepy.

Parlez Moi. This show was on during 9 am on weekdays, which means you first had to be at home sick to see it. I never watched the show without being hopped up on Robitussin, cephelexin, and Advil. That's the only way it should be viewed.

Read All About It. This has it all, multidimensional travel, sentient typewriters, and kidnapping. This program shows what you can do with unbounded imagination and a shoestring budget. Ala Dr. Who.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fields Trek Fest

Last weekend the Fields Family and RW crew got together to celebrate the rebirth of the Star Trek franchise at Riverside Iowa. Depending on your franchise history, its either the birthplace or childhood home of Captain James T. Kirk. Or possibly even the construction yard of the Enterprise.

They have a plaque in a back-alley that gives all the details. And a museum. And a gift shop. And a Casey's.

It was my first Trek Fest, and from various documentaries and media coverage I was expecting a whole slew of geeks dressed up in primary colors. There were a few, but the demographics were 90% small townsfolk in howling wolf t-shirts, 10% geek. Of course the 10% true Trekkies get all of the cameras pointed at them, and also have all the fun. This year three actors from the original series were in the parade; Sulu, Ohura, and Chekov. Ohura smiled at me.

Fortunately RW came prepared with classic Star Trek V posters, so at least we can say we made an effort to geek out (I'm spock).
The 10% to 90% ratio also works for the parade. Instead of Trek Fest they should have called it Firetruck and Shriners Fest... somewhere around 50 firetrucks from SE Iowa came (God help us if there was a fire in Keokuk), along with an army of those ridiculous Shriner 'two front end' cars. In the mix of all the flashing lights, horns and sirens I was able to make out about four Sci-Fi themed floats. All four received awards, and somehow one of the winners was a squadron of Storm Troopers/Jawas/Imperial Guards. Of course most hardcore Trekkers booed when they passed.

I don't think beggars can be choosers though. Next year I'm going as a Fremen to completely cluster-f**k the genres.
Noah had a blast, and got his picture taken with pretty much everyone...even if they had a blaster instead of a phaser.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Shroomin' on a Sunday Afternoon

This past Sunday the Fields Fam went out to find the ever-elusive morel mushroom. In Iowa City. I was fairly skeptical, I've looked around this area every year, and never get anything. I think its cause most of the city has already scoured the area before we get there (our Timber is the only spot I can consistently find morels). But we set off anyway at a nearby park. Lo and behold, success!

I had Noah on my back the whole time, he was a lot more interested in me whapping may-apples with my walking stick than finding mushrooms. But while Noah and I were traipsing about Master-Blaster style, Hilary found some really nice ones.

Its the size of her hand!!!

After we got home I fried them up. Using only butter, of course. It's quite a bit more finicky than oil, as it starts burning really fast...but morels were made for butter.

Noah had "Vegetable Stew with Carrots and Peas". He wasn't happy.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


After many years, someone finally put the first (and only?) Tripmaster Monkey video on the net. Shutter's Closed. As I recall a friend's brother got be be one of the background skaters.

Watch more Goodbye Race videos on AOL Video

I swear I've looked for that thing every couple months or so on youtube. And though I know that many Iowa musicians in the late 90's-early 00's loved (and still love) them, there really isn't a lot of internet content available for Tripmaster Monkey.

Now I need to find online copies of Oil magazine and Day Old Donuts .mp3s.

Monday, February 16, 2009

In the Kitchen

For Valentines Day this year, instead of 'going out' (something which has proved to be almost impossible with baby), I decided to challenge myself and cook a wholly original (for me) supper. Nothing on the menu was something that I had tried before. Though sometimes I could hear Chef Ramsey shouting profanities at me, overall, I think I did a pretty good job.

Above are the four main parts of the meal, for starters we had a fresh spinach and strawberry salad with sesame seed dressing. Then a healthy bowl of french onion soup topped with provolone cheese, and a twice baked potato. The main course was a beef tenderloin with port wine reduced shallots.

After all that I decided to go with homemade flan for dessert. I've tried the flan-in-the-box version before, and while its quick to cook, it tastes like mashed paper. This was much better., if a bit more difficult to remove from the oven...(you've got to bake the ramekins in water). For wine we had Da Vinci Chianti, which tasted OK. I tried to find a wine that was made in Iowa that would work with this meal with no success. My new goal is to try to buy as much Iowa-made alcohol as possible. Our state needs those dollars!

Noah got his Valentines Supper as well. He's had his 'milk ala Enfamil' meal many times before, but he'll settle for nothing less.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stimulate This.

Let’s get pessimistic for a while.
What a time to have a kid. Either the world was always this dire, and I was blissfully self absorbed and didn’t see it…or its gone completely in the crapper the moment Noah was born and I started paying attention. Either way I’m scared.

I know the election of Barack Obama made (and still makes) people optimistic about our future. But America is extremely superficial, and elected him for extremely superficial reasons (he’s black, eloquent, voted against Iraq, he’ll save us all, etc.)

That doesn’t mean that Barack isn’t able to handle the task, in fact I think he might be more than capable, but he’s got a whopper of a mess.

What bothers me about this recession (now we can call it that) is that no matter what stimulus package we pass, we’ll have to innovate to truly get out of it. That’s the way America works. The last 30 years have seen the computer in the 80’s, internet in the 90’s, cell phone in the late 90’s. Now web 2.0.

Back in college I used to get into drunken arguments with a Danish economics major. He kept saying that the America’s days of innovation were over; other more hungry countries would take it away from us. This was back in 2001. He wasn’t completely right (smartphones and web 2.0), but our most recent ‘innovation’ has been moving magic money from house mortgages to investors. That's worked out well for us.

I really hope America can think of the ‘next big thing’ again. The possibilities are endless. Thomas Friedman would like that to be green energy. I would like that to be GMO'd pets. Let’s do it America! Beat those Dutch.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Noah, with a little help from mom, celebrated with the rest of the world at the inauguration of Barack Obama. As you can see, he is very excited...he never thought he'd live to see the day a black man was elected president.

Though Noah admits he, like the rest of us, was caught up in the raw emotion of the event. He's still a little skeptical about whether Obama can translate his souring rhetoric into real, tangible policy changes.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Deja vu

Let's sketch an outline:

Country A, a rich nation, keeps on getting hassled by Country B, a poorer, smaller nation. Some wouldn't call B a nation. B has had a long history of aggression against A, and vice-versa. After a while, in the name of 'security' for its citizens, Country A invades B, causing many casualties we can watch on the news and You-Tube. After a while the violence stops, aid comes in, and people forget about the whole incident.

That's the basic outline of both the Russian-Georgian, and Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There were a few notable differences, one (R-G) involved the invasion of a semi-autonomous state (Ossetia) by two countries, one to take it back and the other to supposedly stop 'ethnic-cleansing', as many of its citizens were pro-Russian. The other was to cease rocket fire into their country.

Despite how similar these conflicts might be, our nation decides to side differently in each case. The lowly small country Georgia, and the rich invading country Israel. Why? This makes no sense to me.

How do we, as a nation, so easily come to the conclusion who is justified and right in their actions? I can't. I honestly don't know what to believe anymore. We're supposedly in the 'information age', but most of the crap on the internet is light years away from true, honest, information. Pictures are photo-shopped, wikipedia gets edited, casualties are made up. I dare you to try any objective research...what you get is plenty of stories...a Palestinian Dr. who lost his three girls, kids getting shot in the head, schools getting bombed.

But the plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'.

I'm not so jaded and cynical that I distrust all media. A good website that sources their data is It hasn't been updated in a while.


This video was #1 on digg yesterday:

I can't believe this. Mr. Waggle-arms and bloviate didn't have any clue about the history of this conflict, then gets all hyped up over something HE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN at the outset. This is what passes for the freaking news?

Israel raided Hamas fighters in November (link), and more importantly never got rid of the blockade (link)...but Hamas never stopped firing rockets into Israel (link). All of those were part of the cease-fire agreement. As cliched as it sounds, neither side is without sin. What's frustrating is that both the MSM, and the internet counter-culture (digg, youtube) both paint their side as justified, and the other as evil and misinforming.

What's undeniable is that Hamas are a bunch of thugs, and millions of Palestinians are suffering, and have been for over a year.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Good stuff found in 2008

Bye-bye 2008. I'm kinda sad to see it go. Not only does it mean yet another year, but actually, I really enjoyed '08. Delpcon, Backbone/tornado trip, flood, Noah.

Some quick 'cultural' goodies I found interesting this past year:

In music, it seemed to me that there was a lot of high quality musicianship again after five years of lo-fi bands like Moldy Peaches, Kimya Dawson, Tapes n' Tapes etc. having a monopoly in my headphones. Peltgrande has an excellent post pointing out some really good ones. Here are a couple I liked that weren't listed in his blog:

This is a Fleet Foxes cover from a duo who appear to have time-traveled straight out of 1975.

This song started my new addiction to synth music and incomprehensible lyrics.

Although I can't (or don't) read like I used to, I still find it fun. Two years ago I set a goal to read through the "Top 100" Science Fiction stories. I've completed almost 30% of them, and have a long way to go. This year I got Hyperion at the used book store.This book is great. Much like Dune, it drops you in the middle of a universe and doesn't hold your hand trying to describe every little detail of culture, technology, or politics right away (I'm still not 100% sure what the 'Hegemony' is). Because of that you can delve into a great story that much quicker. Plus, this author seems to have researched everything. Poetry plays a huge part, as does CSI and family.

Only 14 more days till BSG!