Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hardware

Not technically game-related, but posting this here for two reasons:

1) Computer related, and I know I have more a tech-y audience on this blog (moreso than my other)

2) I have an audience here, where I'm pretty sure only one or two people read my non-gaming blog; the rest wander in from Google searches.

Amazing. I spend ten years gunsmithing and ammunition experimenting... no one cares. But I take up modding a buggy FPS/RPG hybrid on a whim involving boredom and hot companions and I become some kind of hero...

Anyway.

Bored out of my damned skull this morning, I decided that since the card was effectively useless anyhow, I'd see about disassembling that fan and see if it was repairable.

The answer, of course, is a resounding no.

But what got my attention, was that the fan isn't in the design I'm used to. There are no bearings to flush and repack with grease. The little fan is apparently held in place by plastic clips, and spins on and is driven by a simple electromagnet.

That's just wild.

See, while I realize I'm not an old man by any means, my gaming days go back further than most of you kids. I remember playing Pong on the Atari, for example. The old Atari whose controller consisted of a spinning wheel with a single button on the side.

I remember working on an 8088 XT, with a whopping 640kb of RAM and a double-spaced 20mb hard drive. Talk about a boat anchor. The damned case alone must have weighed twenty pounds. Add in the monochrome CRT, and "clicker" keyboard (no sneaky midnight typing as a kid with that thing!) and I'm pretty sure the outfit weighed as much as I did, at the time.

Still remember my old DOS setup. I had written a bunch of batch files to run my favorite games from a menu. Even did little ASCII spaceships fighting it out around the edges.

Yeah, I was a geek.

But I digress.

This fan amused me, but it also illustrates a problem with modern technology. That being that it isn't meant to be repaired. An old fan, I could have repacked the bearings, maybe replaced with a soldering iron whatever wire had burned out in the motor, and maybe got it working again. New stuff? Toss it, buy another... if they still make it; which they probably don't if your equipment is more than a year old.

Saw the same thing when my apartment's dishwasher went FUBAR this time last year. The pump motor had blown a seal. A $2 part.

Trouble was, they didn't sell that seal. You had to replace the entire pump, motor, and something else as they were all a sealed unit. A sealed unit, I might add, that cost so much that it was actually more cost effective to throw the old dishwasher away, and replace it with a new one.

Were it me, I'd have sprang the extra $50 to get one not made by Roper... but I'm not managing the apartment complex.

Cars are the same way. Time was, with a decent toolbox and a free Saturday, you could change damn near anything in a car. Now? Everything is special tools and sealed sub-assemblies and "dealer only" items... to the point that it just isn't worth trying to do it yourself.

If I wasn't already a morose person on a good day, these trends would certainly make me one.

40 comments:

  1. Gunsmithing sounds really cool and would love to learn more of that.

    Yeah I hate the fact I can't replace anything by hand theses days when it comes to a car or item in the house (dishwasher or waster overall) along with the fact that anything over a year is old and two years is just stone age. Sorry but I like older systems at times.

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  2. Preachin' to the choir on the old systems, brother.

    If I could get it to run anything, I'd still be on the PIII 800 I bought back in 2000. Archaic? Probably, but it has jumpers for EVERYTHING on the mainboard, the "panel" hookups are all labeled, and it doesn't onboard anything.

    The little thing is a tank. It will not die.

    In contrast, the one I'm on now has to do everything through the BIOS, which is spiffy and all until something like... oh I dunno... your video card goes out? Then you can't see the BIOS to change any settings, and you are SOL and JWF, as the late George Carlin liked to say.

    I do seriously miss the old days, sometimes. Back in the day, I could've gone to Radio Shack, and got a new cooling fan and had the card working right again for ten bucks or less.

    Of course, these days all Radio Shack sells is TVs, cell phones, and Direct TV subscriptions.

    Much as my life seems to revolve around these horrid contraptions these days, I still have the not-infrequent fantasy of moving to a mountainside cabin somewhere in Idaho and never going near the interwebz again.

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  3. What took you into gunsmithing?

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  4. Fucking figures. Blogger won't take my comment.

    Must be too long.

    So, you get the short version without the stories:

    It was part natural aptitude, part necessity, and a whole lot of passion for the work.

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  5. aww but I love your stories

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  6. That's... kinda creepy, actually.

    Have you sought professional psychiatric help?

    Regardless, I like telling them, too... but I tried posting it like six times and got an error code every time.

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  7. The first computers that I ever used were an Atair and a Sol - with a whopping 4Kb each. They shared a 1Mb hard drive (never buy a floppy again!) and had separate 11 inch hard sectored floppies. :) The Sol actually had a keyboard! (The Altair had nine switches - to enter code one byte at a time - eight for the bits, the ninth entered it into memory....) And a 400 baud modem was also shared (pronounced Moe Deem in those long ago times.) My older sister was a keypunch operator.

    The Auld Grump

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  8. When I was a kid Radio Shack had vacuum tubes....

    The Auld Grump, used an 01 tube with magnesium getter and a Tesla coil to make an X-Ray in junior high.

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  9. Dude... it must have sucked computing via lantern and having to take ye olde buggy down to the general store to look for new punch cards. /rimshot

    Okay, I could've gone further back and talked about my "computer" that was a glorified keyboard with a cartridge slot on the side, that plugged into the TV... or... an even older one that ran on audio-type cassettes.

    But, I figure 8088 is old enough to lose most of the FO3 playing audience on its own.

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  10. Heh - Vic 20, Commodore 64, or the great granddaddy - VIDEOBRAIN? (Well, I suppose it could have been a CoCo....)

    A lot of the early personal computers used audio tapes - TRS 80, Apple ][, Compucolor, PET.... I used all of those. :)

    The Auld Grump

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  11. Oh come on, it's been like 22 years.

    I'm doing good to remember what I had for lunch yesterday.

    ...Oh, that's right, I didn't.

    Moving on.

    Had a TRS-80, I recall, but I'm not sure if that's the one I was talking about. Know I never had an apple (even as a kid I wasn't pretentious enough to own a Macintosh product).

    Videobrain sounds very familiar, as do the specs, but I can't find a picture of it anywhere, so not sure.

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  12. Wikipedia on the Videobrain - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Videobrain All the way back in 1977. :) The first video game/computer.

    Pong was 1974, as was the TRS 80 Model I.

    I had an Odyssey, back in 1972, made my Magnavox. (Magnavox also had a TV with built in video tape recorder, with weird triangular cartridges....) It even had a choice of games, unlike the big hit two years later... PONG!

    The Auld Grump, my favorite old video game was Space War... I loved shooting around the sun or black hole in the center of the board, and watching my opponent run into my shots.

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  13. Pictures of the Videobrain - http://www.obsoletecomputermuseum.org/vidbrain/

    There was also a weird three sided controller - paddle control, steering wheel, and joystick.

    The Auld Grump, anyone for FORTRAN on a DEC 10?

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  14. I had read the Wikipedia article, and found the complete lack of photomotagraphy.

    Seeing pictures, it does still seem familiar. Those controllers especially.

    Still, like I said has been 20+ years, and my poor, abused memory has long since been destroyed by sleep deprivation and caffeine abuse - among other things I'd rather not go into here.

    FORTRAN. You know, despite all the scripting I do, I've never had a head for programming languages, beyond learning enough C++ to write chat menus and macros back in my Starsiege: Tribes days.

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  15. Found a utility that allowed me to take full control of permissions. (Oddly enough titled GrantAdminFullControl.Reg - I wonder how he came up with that title.... :P )

    There are times when I would like to beat Bill Gates to death with a softly padded Wiffle bat.

    Ah well, at least I found a work around.

    The Auld Grump

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  16. I might agree with the sentiment, if any other OS was any better.

    Jobs is a pretentious tool on a good day, and Linux is way too do-it-yourself for a casual OS.

    It's pretty much Windows or buy a PS3/XB360/etc.

    Personally I think windows' pains in the ass are an acceptable trade off to be able to sit down in front of my PC, push the power button, and check my email or fire up a game.

    If I feel like getting in-depth and monkeying with the windows environ I can, but it isn't a necessity to use the blasted thing, you know?

    Though I will admit that UAC got to live about a week on this PC when I first bought it. It was an amusing novelty until about the three hundredth time it asked me to authorize some program wanting to do something when I had already authorized the base executable to run.

    Still say things would be far simpler in the world if we just executed the authors of malware.

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  17. The problem is that I can see why the permissions are a good thing for a casual or poorly informed user.

    But they are a right pain in the arse for people who know what they are doing. It's like training wheels....

    I kind of miss virii like Sauron II on the Amiga - Sauron II would open an eye on your screen, it would look around, then close and disappear. Not a malicious virus, more of a 'look what I can do!' The problem kicked in when it got written into the boot blocks of copy protected disks - since those boot blocks had already been modified it screwed them all to Hell.

    The fix? Making sure the notch that allowed write to disk was covered, so the computer wouldn't try.... (As I said, just a virus, not malware. I kept an infected disk around for years, just because it was neat. :P )

    The Auld Grump

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  18. The problem, of course, being that someone writes something silly and pointless like Sauron II because they can, and then someone else takes the code, and modifies it slightly to important system files because mommy and daddy didn't give them enough hugs and they're gonna show the world damn it.

    And of course, there are an ARMY of stupid AOL users who think the file was pretty, and email it to all their friends before rebooting the now non-working system, so you end up with a worldwide epidemic where you can't load half the exe files you come across on the net.

    Incidentally, I also think people should be shot for forwarding those stupid sappy chain emails. We won't even talk about what I think should be done to people who are so stupid they fall for that "every time you forward this message, someone will pay you a dime!" emails.

    I can't tell you how many times I've been tempted to blacklist family members in spam filters.

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  19. modifies it to DELETE important system files.


    ...have to stop typing right after coming off a bad attempt at sleep, FFS...

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  20. Heh, well, I never gave Sauron II to anyone who wasn't asking for it.

    And then only if they asked nicely. :P

    One thing about Sauron II - it was an Amiga 1000 virus, at a time when most Amiga users didn't have hard drives.... It would be a while before Mosaic was ported over, to allow the Amiga to use the web. For the most part it was passed hand to hand on disc.

    The virii had a slower paced culture than now. Not much commerce over the net, and no one used credit cards to buy over the internet yet. The stakes were lower.

    The earliest virii were made by some of the real hardcore programmers, who were trying to destroy each others systems.... Because they thought it was fun.... Mmmm, core wars....

    The Auld Grump

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  21. Yeah, I know.

    I also know that REAL hackers aren't interesting in stealing your bank numbers or identity or anything.

    It's about the thrill of the hunt and proving you're better than the guy trying to stop you.

    Trouble is, for every samurai of the web, there are a hundred thousand script-kiddies who scavenge other peoples work, change a setting here and there, and release it on the unsuspecting (and woefully stupid) internet-going populace.

    Personally, I don't care what code you like to write in your basement for kicks. But when the stuff starts getting released via email or more recently BitTorrent and self-loading ActiveX controls and javascript apps, something needs to change.

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  22. Now, between the script kiddies and organized crime, all the fun has gone out of the virii.

    I still miss my Amiga, Amiga Basic was so user friendly that it would climb into my lap and purr. The laptop model would be illegal in most states, outside of Nevada. :P I haven't had that much fun working with a computer since.

    The Auld Grump

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  23. Sorry, I'm just biased, I know.

    While I absotively refuse to do it anymore, I used to be the designated computer monkey for my family.

    The convicted felon sack of shi... I mean my darling baby brother... >_> has a favorite hobby, that I like to call "how much can I download?"

    He is especially fond of anything which purports to allow viewing of nude teenage girls.

    And I had to fix the computer.

    My record is 1300+ viruses in one scan. Mostly trojans, with a Win32 dropper here and there for flavor.

    You don't want to know how much spyware there was.

    He's also the only person on Earth whose computer "made him install Morpheus!" it "wouldn't boot up with it uninstalled!"

    Because I am apparently an idiot who does not know how Windows works or what Morpheus actually does, and just never realized it.

    That boy is proof positive that pot and blow do kill brain cells.

    Also biased against viruses because of my own actions. Because of my security setup, I'm immune to the vast majority, so when one does slip through... it's one of the FUN ones that require a young priest, and old priest, and the invocation of rites of the Old Ones from beyond the stars to get rid of.

    If you've never dealt with it, Virtumonde is a motherfucker to kill off completely. Was my own fault. I knew better than to install that cracked version of that game... but I was really curious to see if the AI was as good as they claimed, and didn't expect the included virus to be anything more than a trojan dropper. I have, needless to say, since learned my lesson, and don't do that sort of thing since the new breed of hide-y viruses became prevalent.

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  24. I hear you on that one - the only time that I ever had a 'real' virus (as opposed to the early 'I'm Alive' virii of the early days) was because I let somebody use my computer while I was off camping. :/

    I came back to find it loaded with pr0n, trojans, virii, and warez. And he had the gall to try to tell me that he had been trying to do me a favor because I didn't have those stolen games. ('I buy the games that I want - if I don't have a game it is because I don't want it, capiche?' Putz!)

    I do not remember the name of the one that made me decide that he was buying me a fresh hard drive, so I could do a clean Windows install. It just kept coming back, surviving one new install to the old drive.

    And this wasn't a teenager, just a moron. Though I do think that pot probably entered into it. Drugs are a vice that I have never indulged in, in part because the smoke from pot makes me break out in hives. Being in the same room makes me itch all over. It did the same thing to my brother, but he smoked it anyway. What the Hell makes some people so damned stupid?! At least he got smarter as he got older.

    My vice of choice is books, and after I blow my wallet on a pile of books and finish 'em, I still have the damned books. My other vice is role playing games, with much the same argument.

    The Auld Grump

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  25. Never been a drug user myself. Used to drink fairly heavy... but quit that at 21 - and no, you don't want to know when I started.

    Do have experience with drug users, though. Back before I got claimed by She Who Owns My Ass, I had dated a couple girls that were 420 friendly. Nothing but trouble. Wouldn't have wanted any part of it... if they hadn't lied to me about such tendencies in the first place.

    Personally, I stick to abusing caffeine. Consequently, I know enough to stay waaaaay away from speed. I'd like it too much if I ever got hold of any.

    Aside from my green tea habit, about the only vice I have left is trading guns. Don't buy anime but a couple times a year, and there's only two or three manga series I follow regularly.

    If I just didn't have that taste for 7.62NATO autoloaders, and .454 Casull revolvers...

    Lately I'm having to continually talk myself out of a 458 SOCOM upper for my AR15. Autoloading 45-70 that works in standard M16 mags?

    Want... so... badly...

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  26. Again - once you have the gun, you have the gun. Drugs, your money goes up in smoke (or up your nose, or in your arm, etc.).

    One of the weird things about liking some of the archaic guns - sometimes the real thing costs less than the reproductions. (The Brown Bess in particular - there were a lot of them made - you can sometimes get the real thing for half the price of a good reproduction. Of course it is also often safer to fire the reproduction, so....)

    And at least you aren't collecting Berettas - the only two guns that I ever had jam on me were both Berettas, another had a damaged slide. In my head the name is forever linked with the term 'cheap piece of crap'. This was the late seventies.

    And sometimes I can't help but want a late model Gatling Bulldog. (Like Maxim, Gatling thought that his gun would help end war....) The Gatling just brings out the Steampunk in my soul. :P

    The Auld Grump

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  27. We seem to have changed to a different definition of 'hardware'. :P

    The Auld Grump

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  28. Meh. Just goes to show we're flexible, and can appreciate the multiple accepted definitions of terminology.

    Also goes to show the subjective nature of language, and yea, thought in general.

    (Yes, I know I'm being pretentious)

    Not a fan of Beretta. Owned a couple 92's, used a CX4 carbine once, and had some experience with a 1200 autoshotgun that was enough to make me never even consider buying another from them... Don't care if they have been family owned and making guns since the 1500's, it's still mediocre, uninspired, crap.

    Hell, the 92 is nothing but an updated P38, sans the innovative loaded chamber indicator.

    Can relate on the antiques, too. That trapdoor I was looking at a couple weeks ago only ran like $600. Of course, it was also rusted to hell and back. No way would I have shot it - even with black powder loads - without a full magna-flux checkout and probably a date with a Hawkeye borescope. Nostalgia aside, for the same $600 I could nab a Marlin 1895 in 45-70, and have five shots on a modern steel levergun that I KNOW is rated to 38,000CUP. Don't wanna play cowboy quite that bad and all.

    Gatling was always interesting. Probably legal, too, since it's crank operated and not technically autoloading. Still, historical notes I've read suggest those things redefine the term jam-o-matic. Cleaning one barrel of black powder residue is bad enough, but a rotary barrel setup? You'd have to invest in a pressure washer and standalone water heater or something.

    Maybe a kiddie-pool full of windex...

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  29. I have never gotten to fire a Gatling, but have been on the field when one was fired. Inaccurate as all heck, faster cycling than you might expect, and yeah, jams. :P The Bulldog was a later model, with the jamming mostly taken care of. Shorter barrel, shrouded cylinders, a heck of a lot less bounce. Despite the shorter barrel it had a much tighter group.

    But by then, the Gatling had competition.

    One thing that made cleaning a trifle easier than you might think - the baked on grease actually protected the barrel from residue from the powder, at least a little.

    The Auld Grump

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  30. I'll have to say that if it is any easier, it would only be a trifle, at most.

    Not sure about the grease used in the 1880's, but Cosmoline used on eastern European military arms, once baked on, is one of the most annoying and tenacious substances to remove that I've ever encountered.

    Acetone is about the only thing that takes it off readily, and it also has the handy dandy side effect of stripping wood, dissolving paint, and oxidizing bluing.

    Whitewall cleaner works okay, but then you have the whole issue with toxic fumes to consider...

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  31. I do not know for certain on Gatlings, I never had the care and feeding thereof, but I do know that muskets, particularly those intended for Naval use, often had linseed oil baked onto the barrel - so sometimes they wanted that baked on grease.

    The Land pattern musket that I lust after was not treated that way, even after being seconded to the Navy, so I doubt that it was universal practice. Either that, or another hundred and fifty years of being cleaned has taken the linseed oil off of the barrel.

    While the stuff is hard to get rid of, it does protect the barrel from etching by the residue left by blackpowder. (Not to mention salt water in the Navy) Sometimes all you have is a choice of evils.

    It would not be good for the lands of a rifle though. So I very much doubt that the practice lasted past the ACW.

    Mind you, they also sometimes lard packed the guns for transport, and in the field bacon fat would sometimes be used when taking care of the guns. Grease was something they grew accustomed to. (Much like British submariners and the smell of shale oil. That smell of that stuff would come boiling out of your pores months later....)

    Linseed oil was also used to protect armor in a similar fashion, at least for those knights who could not afford a proper squire. This led to the use of the term 'black knight' to refer to mercenary knights. Shining armor has only become such after being polished for hundreds of years.

    The Auld Grump

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  32. Heh, turns out I was wrong - the Brown Bess I was mentioning -was- originally covered with baked on linseed oil - he had a bitch of a time getting the crap off. He wanted a nice shiny barrel, and is willing to spend the time to maintain it, unlike the Royal Navy. :P

    I am kind of surprised that the Spaniards did not remove the stuff.

    The Auld Grump

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  33. Never used it as a metal preservative, but boiled linseed oil has been a traditional stock finish.

    Considering the stuff is essentially an organic varnish, I bet it would have been hard to get off. You know... without cheating and breaking out the wire buffing wheel on a 3/4 amp electric motor.

    For my part, join the 21st century and just buy a silicone rag. Easier going on, easier coming off.

    Considering the uniforms they wore in the days of the musket, I'm surprised el span-ee-ardz didn't have the damned things rhinestoned.

    ...Damn. Wish my Spanish was better. I'd break into an espanol rendition of Rhinestone Cowboy at this point and send you all fleeing for psychiatric help. Can you get PTSD from a song?

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  34. ...Crap, now I've got the song stuck in my head.

    Damn you, Glenn Campbell!

    Could have at least been Wichita Lineman, if I was going to have to have one of his songs stuck in my head...

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  35. Heh, the railroad song in my head is Jay Gould's Daughter....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ebm0GMXzdXA

    Early one morning in the drivin' rain,
    Round the bend come a passenger train.
    On the bumper was Hobo John,
    He's a good old hobo, but he's dead and gone.
    Dead and gone,
    Oh, he's dead and gone.
    He's a good old hobo, but he's dead and gone.

    Charlie Snyder was good engineer,
    Told his fireman not to fear,
    Just pour on the water, shovel on the coal,
    Stick your head out the window see the drivers roll!
    Drivers roll,
    Oh, the drivers roll!
    Stick your head out the window, see the drivers roll.

    Jay Gould's daughter said before I die,
    There's two more drinks that I'd like to try.
    Jay Gould said, Daughter what can they be?
    A glass of water and a cup of tea.
    Cup of tea,
    Oh, a cup of tea,
    Jay Gould said Daughter what can they be,
    A glass of water and a cup of tea.

    Jay Gould's daughter said before I die,
    There's two more trains, that I'd like to ride.
    Jay Gould said Daughter, what can they be?
    It's the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe,
    The Santa Fe,
    Oh, the Santa Fe,
    The Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe.

    Jay Gould's daughter said before she died,
    Daddy fix the blinds, so the bums can't ride.
    If ride they must, they hafta ride the rod,
    Let them put their trust, in the hands of God.
    Hands of God,
    Oh, the hands of God.
    Let them put their trust in the hands of God.

    The hobos did not much like Jay Gould, his yard bulls, or his daughter.

    A bad sign when you can write down the whole song without looking it up. Not that common a tune these days.... :) (Any surprise that I like that bluegrass radio station someone did for Point Lookout?)

    The Auld Grump, I could sing along with a disturbing number of those, too....

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  36. I could retaliate with... uh....

    I know some of Greensleeves and...

    Yeah, okay. While I listen to plenty of country & western, folk music isn't my forte.

    But don't dare taunt me, for I know how to access the two most wrong tracks in musical history!

    Pat Boone's cover of Paradise City, and the Type O Negative cover of Britney Spears' Hit Me One More Time.

    And while not brain-breakingly bad, the Adam Sandler rendition of Werewolves of London is worthy of mention.

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  37. Leonard Nimoy singing 'The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins'. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XC73PHdQX04 And yes, I can sing along. >:)

    And a song that I have performed with my girlfriend - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaNV7eCU2R0 'The Mariner's Revenge Song'. (I first heard this on The Clockwork Cabaret, where it was called 'The Interpretive Whale Dance'. :P

    The Auld Grump, Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins! The bravest little hobbit of them all!

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  38. Just so you know - no the video for Mariner's Revenge is not the one I did with my girlfriend. :P

    The Auld Grump, but we did borrow from it....

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  39. Well, Nimoy tops even the Six Feet Under cover of Smoke On The Water.

    I bow to your complete lack of taste.

    You have defeated me, sir.

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  40. Heh - that video has stuck with me since the first time ever I saw it - back in the 1970s.

    Absolutely.
    Horrible.
    :P

    I was horrified when one of my friends played it after a game, and I discovered that I could still sing along with the damned thing. o_O Thirty years later.... And I saw it ONCE!

    The Mariner's Revenge Song on the other hand I quite like. The Decemberists are an odd group - songs full of all kinds of 19th Century retro nastiness, from venereal disease and prostitution to murder.

    Then again, I once or twice have had to explain to folks what 'Butcher Pete' is all about, for some reason people seem to think that it is about a serial killer.... (Really, it's kind of about the same thing as 'My Pencil Won't Write No More'. Guns aren't the only things I wax archaic about. :) )

    The Auld Grump

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