New Year, New Host, New Look

LtL is back up and running after several days of struggling with some SQL issues as I transferred hosting servers for the site. After a number of years with GoDaddy.com, I decided, for several reasons, to switch to Bluehost.com. I wasn’t planning on changing themes, but happened across this one and really like the simplicity and, after having three-column themes for the last year or so, I am finding that the two-column theme works just as well and feels less cluttered, keeping a bit more focus on the posts themselves. There are a few areas of the theme I may tweak over the next couple of weeks, but I’m glad I found it.

Everything seems to be working except that none of my mp3 files seem to load . . . for some reason the links aren’t linking correctly and I just get 404 errors when clicking on them in posts or on my pages. So, until I update this post, feel free to read my poetry, fiction or scripts, but don’t try to listen to my music or sound design files cause they just ain’t working’.

If you have any thoughts on the new look or why I might be having problems with links only to music files, drop a line and thanks for your patience over the past several days.

[Update: The permissions on the music & sound design folders weren’t set properly – they are now fixed and you should have access to the mp3s on the site. However, I’ve discovered that I don’t seem to be able to add or edit books in the “Now Reading” plugin. I’ve a feeling it’s probably a similar issue but am not up to solving it tonight.]

Two New 10 Minute Plays

Not exactly what you would call “comedies,” these are both pretty bleak plays. As with most of these play, a great deal of the theatricality is outside of the words and “story.” Instead, actions in the physical space of the play are called for to complete the text. I feel that I write my play with directors in mind, which is not surprising considering that I consider myself a director even though its been a while since I’ve directed a piece. I am, really, writing plays that I would be interested in directing for one reason or another and I can only hope that there are other directors who have similar tastes to my own.

The next one will be a comedy, but until then:

Tomas.pdf

WhaleSong.pdf

It’s A Links Day

Searchable Database of the Bush Administrations LIes:

It would be a terrible mistake for the world to allow this man to continue to flaunt his obligations to the international community, to continue to build weapons of mass destruction under the dark of night, and to one day wake up in a situation in which we’re being blackmailed by this bloody dictator. That isn’t acceptable. – SOURCE: Condoleezza Rice, interview on Late Edition, CNN, April 7, 2002.

Hmm, I don’t know, “this man” sounds a lot like Bush to me. And yes, I do feel we’ve been blackmailed with fear and terror by this bloody not-quite-dictator-but-not-for-lack-of-trying, right-wing fascist President of ours.

Link

Say No to Violence Against Women


Link

[Update: I had to delete parts of this post because they were causing an error in Firefox and I couldn’t track down the problems. The parts deleted were a YouTube video of Richard O’Brien singing an acoustic version of “Double Feature” and a link to Bert Monroy’s website which you should check out right now.]


Georges Simenon Quotes


“Three Bedrooms in Manhattan (New York Review Books Classics)” (Georges Simenon)

I was going through a journal looking for some flotsam and jetsam to incorporate into the latest of my 10 Minute plays and came across some quotes from this book by Georges Simenon that I had noted down when I read it during the summer of ’06:

A low voice that made you think of a scar that hadn’t healed, of a hurt that lingers beneath consciousness, soft and familiar, deep inside.

and

For months now, Combe’s life had been going nowhere. But, until two days ago, he had at least been walking stubbornly in one direction.

and

He was frightened. He wondered if she was going to start talking about herself. Inevitably she would sometime, and then he’d have to do the same.

Seeing these quotes make me want to re-read the novel in full. It was a good novel, small in scope, perhaps, but incisive. Something about it reminded me at little of Milan Kundera’s work. Not so much in actual style, but there is an element of regret and desire to Simenon’s characters that tastes very similar to some of Kundera’s characters. Regret and desire like over-ripe fruit that is just gone bad but is close enough to good that you eat it, vaguely dissatisfied at the end but chewing nonetheless.

Safari & WordPress, Not Playing Well Together

So it seems that whenever I try to edit static pages with Safari, all the formatting gets messed up. I was at my wits end trying to figure out what was going on until I thought to myself, “Self,” I thought, “Maybe you should try another browser, just on the off-chance that somehow it’s a Safari issue and not a WordPress issue.”

Turns out that I was right, and when editing the Fiction page in Firefox, everything worked just as it should. Which is a bit of a pain simply because I tend to use Safari as my default browser, but I’m certainly glad I figured it out and can get my pages formatted correctly.

Test of Ecto 3.0 Beta

I have been using Ecto for blogposts since moving to the Mac and have always liked what it offered, especially the easy access to Amazon Associate links, the way that, when you select text and click the “link” button, the program automatically fills in the link address with the last copied http address, and the ease with which I could import images but dragging and dropping them into posts.

The beta looks damn good. On first glance I like the placement of some of the elements much better. Here’s the new entry screen from the 2.4.2 version:

and the new:

Placing the commands such as “link,” “html view” etc., toward the top of the window make much more sense than their previous placement. Also, there seems to be far more, and far easier control, over image uploading when you drop a pic into the entry.

Let’s try inserting a song using the import media button:

Hmm – I step through the selection process, and it looks like it will import and upload the file, but nothing shows up in the post. I wonder what happens when I drag a song from iTunes:

Hmm – nothing really. Weird. Oh well, I guess I’ll go read the forums or the help to see how the music importing is supposed to work and figure out if it’s merely a beta issue.

Let’s check out the Amazon Helper:

“Catfish Rising” (Jethro Tull)

There are simply tons more Amazon categories in the new version, which is helpful if you drop a lot of links to products.

Looks like there is a bunch more features to check out over time, but if you are on a Mac and use an off-line blogging editor to compose your entries, give the beta a try. It’s totally different code, so you can actually try it without getting rid of the 2.4.2 version. Just remember to save often and don’t expect it to be perfect!

 

Some New Stuff: Mini Reviews

“Mstand Laptop Stand By Rain Design” (Rain Design)

Ever since I got my Macbook Pro, I was using the box it came as a stand when I sat at my desk. It raised it up enough for use, but not quite enough for comfort and it was an inelegant solution. Plus, I lost a great deal of desk real estate to the box itself, which made the surface pretty much useless for writing letters, or filling out forms, etc.

I had been eyeing the MStand for a while now, but the earlier versions of it (in fact the one pictured above) had a solid lip that completely blocked the lid button, so when you went to open the computer you had to lift it off the stand. However, new ones have been reengineered–i.e., they’ve had a divot of about 3/4 of an inch across cut out of the lip that keeps the computer on the stand. Real world pics:

01010010-1 01010011

Conclusion: while a bit on the pricey side, the elegance and deskspace that the Mstand offers is worth it and I highly recommend it if you use a laptop regularly at a desk.

“Jabra C820S Active Noise Cancelling Stereo Headphones” (Jabra)

I came across an amazing deal on these noise canceling headphones on Buy.com the day after Christmas: $50 and free shipping. Now, I have a decent pair of Ultimate Ears Super.fi 3 earphones which have been a life-saver on the subways here in NYC. The Super.fi’s do an excellent job at blocking outside noise and have a decent, albeit not terribly rich, sound. However, I was never able to get them to keep a good seal in my ears using the rubber tips, despite trying all of them at various times. I do get a consistent seal with the foam tips, and have been using those for the past year or so, but those need to be disposed of every few weeks or so depending on, you know, how dirty your ears tend to be. In short, I am glad to have them, and because of their small size I am sure there will be times when they are my earphones of choice.

But I gotta say, I am really psyched I came across the Jabra’s on such an excellent sale. While they don’t block out sounds in the same way as the UE earphones–these create soundwaves in opposition to the surrounding noise and thus cancels the sound, whereas the UEs simply block sounds because they fit into your ear canal–and so don’t block the most egregious subway and city street noises to quite the same extent, the richness of the sound and the superb noise canceling ability in places like coffee shops, airports, or even your own apartment is stunning. You flip the switch on and it’s like the rest of the world fades away, far away and you are left with your music or your audiobook playing very intimately and closely and with a richness that earphones can’t match (at least at a sub-$1000 level). Sometimes I find myself using them in my apartment even when J is out and there is no other noise but my own music, simply because they isolate me from the world in a way that helps concentrate and/or relax.

Other cool aspects of these headphones are that they still work when the AAA battery that powers the active noise cancellation is dead. I guess the Bose equivalents to these are twice the price, and can only work with active noise canceling on. Additionally, the cable that goes between the headphones and your audio source is not built into the headphones. Instead, there is an 1/8″ jack in the left earcup that you plug the cable into. Which means that if you wanted to just cancel out ambient sound and give yourself a quiet place, you can do so without having to figure out what to do with the cable. I also find them to be highly comfortable and have no problems wearing them for hours at a time. Even with a AAA battery, they are light and the foam padding around the ears is the perfect size, at least for my head & ears.

While I wouldn’t have bought these at their stated retail price of $179 – I would definitely buy them at around $125 and am hugely glad I found them on sale. I’m enjoying them right now, listening to Water’s Edge from the album “Sweet revenge” by Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Conclusion: I can’t compare them directly to their Bose competitors, but I love these headphones. If you are in the market for noise canceling headphones, definitely give these a try, especially if you can find a good deal on them.

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