Barnes & Noble To Be Voted 'Sociopathic Company Of The Year'

Barnes & Noble to sell Simpson book in stores – Yahoo! News

“If I Did It,” in which the former U.S. football star offers a hypothetical account of his ex-wife’s murder, has caused a firestorm of controversy since it was revealed last November that Simpson worked with a ghostwriter to author it. Simpson was acquitted of murder charges in 1995, but was later found liable for the killings in a civil trial and ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages to the victims’ families.

You know what? I don’t care if Ron Goldman’s family won the rights to this in court. And downloading it for free off the Web, out of morbid curiosity, is one thing.

But if you actually go out and purchase a copy of this book, you’re officially a piece of shit human being. I don’t care what excuse you make up for yourself about why you’d pay money to find out exactly how this cocksucker hacked a couple of people to death and got away with it, courtesy of an extremely expensive defense team and a Los Angeles jury terrified of starting another set of riots.

You’re a prurient ghoul and you’re a piece of shit human being, and I’ll cheerfully tell you that to your face if I ever see you with a copy of this book.

Let it die, for God’s sake.


What I Like

For years, one of the primary criticisms leveled at me is that I’m too negative. I’m a hater. And it’s true, don’t get me wrong. I am a hater.

But I’m also a lover, which is why I’m a hater in the first place. So I thought I’d make a list of things I love. This isn’t a media list — that would be far too long — but just a general list of things I really like. So, without further ado:

Josh Ellis’s List Of Things I Like

Sleeping in cold rooms Beef ‘n’ Chedder sandwiches from Arby’s The smell of honeysuckle Listening to Van Morrison and Nina Simone while I cook Italian food Fog Shaker furniture Dave McKean Road trips The hour before sunrise Steamer trunks Very large dogs Horror movies 1977-1987 The Venture Brothers Sitting around on rainy days reading books and listening to Paul Simon Funky old barbecue restaurants Iced mocha lattés Dinner parties Chuck Taylors San Francisco (most of the time) Terry Gilliam movies Douglas Adams novels Wool overcoats Books about the Caribbean Red dirt Old stone buildings Minimalism Combat boots Leonard Cohen (both as a musician and as a snappy dresser) Girls with glasses African music Wandering Federico Garcia Lorca M&M cookies Empty places Old blankets Sandwiches in general Nina Simone, Nina Simone, Nina Simone Chimpanzees Banana espresso smoothies Boats England Movie parties with pizza Comic books Somerset Maugham novels Stormy weather Silence T.S. Eliot Legos Delta blues Corduroy pants Jeff Buckley’s voice Marlboros Berlin Chili Autumn Real Genius (the movie and the concept) Greg Dulli’s sense of style Cherry cola (C-O-L-A cola) Waterfalls It’s A Wonderful Life Robots Melancholy music Chocolate milkshakes The ocean

…maybe more when I think of it.


Perlin Smoke Wallpapers

Here’s two widescreen wallpapers. They’re at MacBookPro resolution and ratio, but you can probably use ‘em on any high-res monitor.

Perlin Smoke Wallpaper 1

Perlin Smoke Wallpaper 2


My First Perlin Noise Experiment

My First Perlin Noise Experiment from jzellis and Vimeo.

Yay! Robert over at Flight404 was kind enough to give me some pointers as to what I needed to do to get my Perlin flow field experiment working using Daniel Shiffman’s excellent Vector3D library. This is a first example. It’s simplistic and not terribly interesting visually, but it’s a start.

I’ve been trying to do this ever since I saw Robert’s magnetosphere video months and months ago, and I’m cheered up by finally making it work, in a simple way.

Whoo hoo!


Better Off Without A Wife

I was at the Double Down the other night, and I realized that I didn’t recognize anybody there. All the people I used to know — some by name, some just by face and a “Hey, dude, how’s it goin’?” were conspicuously absent.

I’m 29 now. The last couple of years, a lot of my friends have settled down, gotten married, had kids. I have no interest in any of those things. Not now, maybe not ever. I don’t want to buy a house in the ‘burbs, I don’t want to quit doing rowdy quasi-legal shit, I don’t want to stop wandering around the world. I want to do these things more than ever.

I had a realization tonight that I despise the idea of settling into any sort of domestic relationship. (Yeah, I know, I’m fightin’ ‘em off.) But I’m just tired of having emotions, and sharing them. I’m burnt out. I’ve been hurt and hurt myself too much in the last few years.

And the idea of sharing my life with anyone who would get in the way of the things I want to do is completely horrible to me. And, let’s face it, most of the women I know would do exactly that. I’m not talking about wanting to screw every woman I can get my hands on — I don’t really want to do that — but I don’t want to domesticate, settle down, buy a house, get a steady job, and be respectable. I don’t want to answer to anybody if I want to fuck off across the globe. I don’t want anybody fussing at me about eating or smoking or staying up too late.

I’m a Lost Boy. And I plan to stay one. Because the comfort of love is not worth the pain of feeling it and losing it, or feeling it and never having it reciprocated, or any of the things you have to give up to keep it. Not for me, anyway. There are wilder skies than these.


Sprint Samsung SPH-M610

So I’m in the Sprint Ambassador program, which means they send me phones a couple of times a year, with a free unlimited account to use them with. I like Sprint for this, even though I stopped paying my other phone bill out of brokeness and they’ve sent it to collections. (Dear Sprint: I swear I’ll pay the bill as soon as I can.)

The phone they’ve given me most recently is the titular Spring Samsung SPH-M610. I actually like it. It’s not really a futurephone in any way, but it’s a perfectly useful cellular phone with a decent built-in camera. I especially like the fact that it works as a Bluetooth-connected modem with my MacBook Pro, straight out of the box: just set it up in your Networking panel and it runs like butter. It’s pretty fast, and it’s been a lifesaver a couple of times.

There are only two things, in fact, that I don’t like about it: 1) the ringer isn’t loud enough, and b) it uses a proprietary jack not only for power and USB, but also for wired headphone — you can’t just plug a 2.5mm headphone into it. Since I don’t like my Bluetooth headphone very much, and I have a really nice wired headphone I use when driving or when I need my hands, this is sort of a problem.

Other than that, I can actually recommend it as a low-end cellphone (as opposed to some multi-Benjamin rig like the iPhone or the Ocean or what-have-you). It’s thin and light, with a rubberized skin that keeps it from slipping out of your hand (I’ve only dropped it once or twice, and it survived with no ill effects). The software is pretty straightforward and easy-to-use, though I wish there were an easier way to turn Bluetooth on and off than to go through a couple of menus. The battery life is good — I usually need to charge it once every four or five days, unless I forget to turn the Bluetooth off after modem surfing, in which case it’s about two to three days.

I think I’ll probably keep this phone until Sprint sends me a new one. After a few years, I got sick of my Treo 650. I never used the smartphone features, and it was just too big and bulky and fugly and useless as a modem (or even with a Bluetooth headset). Unless I get one of the new Samsungs like my friend Matt has — which have dual QWERTY/keypad sliders — I’m not going to bother with anything more hardcore. I just don’t see the point, frankly…at least until cellphones and UMPCs finally just converge for good.


Scatterlings And Refugees (demo)

“Scatterlings And Refugees (demo)” (MP3, LAME encoded 192kbps)

This is just the demo version I recorded to play for Ryan and Tom, to get their input. It’s got some digital popping in it (I accidentally recorded the guitar part at too low a latency rate, so my hard drive couldn’t keep up, and there are tiny glitches in it.) But the album version will be pretty similar, pretty stripped down like this.

I just thought y’all might like to hear this. I love it very much.


We are scatterlings and refugees, we have never known peace We have never known a home Home is wherever we are when we’re together Peace is the sound that we make when we’re alone

I rang the New Year in In a field out in the suburbs Somewhere outside East Berlin I watched the fireworks Burn the night And I wondered where you were and if you were alright

We are scatterlings and refugees, we are bastards, we are orphans We never make a sound Traversing the oceans in perpetual motion Our feet don’t ever touch the ground

We were dancing Old soul records playing in an alleyway And we are old souls, you and me Disappearing at the dawning of the day

We are scatterlings and refugees, we have never known peace We have never known a home Home is wherever we are when we’re together Peace is the sound that we make when we’re alone

And when my telephone rings in the dark You say ‘Hey, I’m at the White Cross on Las Vegas Boulevard’ No matter where I am, I’ll be on a plane I’ll go anywhere to see you again

We are scatterlings and refugees, we are angels, we are monsters We never mattered anyway Patron saints of rented cars and last goodbyes in airport bars In the morning, like ghosts, we slip away

We slip away



I’ve put together a tracklist for my album. Most of the songs are newer; some I haven’t finished recorded yet (“The Big Darkness”, “Scatterlings And Refugees”, “Entropy”, “After The Ice Age”); there are a few older ones (“Sleeping In Flame”, “Sky Blue”, “Redwood City Station”). With only a couple of exceptions, I’ve decided to re-record everything again, because I finally feel like I know what I’m doing, for the most part.

The album was going to be titled The Big Darkness, but on reflection I’ve decided to call it Travelogue, because that’s basically what it is: all of the songs are about travel and exotic places and motion. The linchpin of the whole album is “Scatterlings And Refugees”, which I just finished writing, and which may be the prettiest thing I’ve ever done. It’s also the song that owes the most to Paul Simon, both in lyrics and melody. (Have I ever mentioned that Graceland and The Rhythm Of The Saints are two of my favorite albums of all time? I must have.)

I started writing it for somebody I fell in love with; that didn’t work out (or actually work at all, or even get hired to work in the first place), but the song is about the good feelings involved in that, not the sad feelings. It’s a flat-out love song, a hopeful song, which is something rare for me — especially since I’ve decided that I’m not going to open myself up to those feelings anymore. It never works out (or gets hired to work in the first place) and it’s not worth getting the shit kicked out of me again.

But hell, maybe the song will work for somebody else. :-) That’s the best you can hope for as a pop musician, I think: to write songs that make other people fall in love.

I want to get this finished by the end of the year. Which, with my current roster of work projects, means I’m going to be invisible for the next few months. I’ve got a tentatively-scheduled work trip to Germany and Turkey in November (the details of which I’m not at liberty to talk about yet), and I may be spending a few weeks holed up in Nowheresville, Utah, also for work. I’m also hella broke, so I don’t have a lot of money to spend on socializing.

So don’t expect to see me. But I’ll post fragments of what I’m doing. And I’ll leave you with a bit of “Scatterlings”:

I rang the New Year in In a field out in the suburbs somewhere outside East Berlin I watched the fireworks burn the night And I wondered where you were and if you were alright


Red State Soundsystem – Airport Tunnel

Airport Tunnel (192kbps MP3, LAME encoded)

This track may be a work in progress — I may add vocals to it eventually — but I also really kinda like it the way it is. It’s a soundtrack for driving in the airport tunnel on Swenson here in Vegas in the middle of the night. (If you know the city, you know the tunnel I mean.)

It was inspired by recent listening to David Sylvian and Jon Hassell — particularly in the distorted “guitar” sweeps, if you know Hassell’s work, you can hear the influence. You can also think of this as a companion piece to “The Secret King Of Africa“, though the songs are very different. They’re both part of a soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t exist, except in my head.

I’d like to see this track on a real movie soundtrack someday.


The Dark Is Sucking

I was extremely happy to see, earlier this year, that a film adaptation was being made of one of my favorite novels as a teenager, Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising. If you’ve never read the book — or the other four books in the series — they’re worth your time, at least if you’re into fantasy based upon British mythology. What characterizes the novels most for me — and what made them stand out to me when I first read them — is their intelligence and their pervasive sense of atmosphere. What I most remember about the novel is the way Cooper describes a small prosaic modern British town choked by snow and darkness — a place that is literally and metaphorically being crushed under the weight of its own history. It’s a quiet novel, and though the heart of it is a deep and desperate struggle between the Light and the Dark, it’s thankfully short of wizard duels and big explosions. The confrontations between 11 year old protagonist Will Staunton, his ally and tutor Merriman Lyon, and the Dark — represented by dark horseman the Rider and insane tramp the Walker — are mostly metaphorical. There’s a lot going on, but it’s all behind the scenes.

And who couldn’t love dialogue like this? (Copied over from Oz and Ends):

The rector stood up, his smooth, plump face creased in an effort to make sense of the incomprehensible. “Certainly it has gone,” he said, looking slowly round the church. “Whatever–influence it was. The Lord be praised.” He too looked at the Signs on Will’s belt, and he glanced up again, smiling suddenly, an almost childish smile of relief and delight. “That did the work, didn’t it? The cross. Not of the church, but a Christian cross nonetheless.” “Very old, them crosses are, rector,” said Old George unexpectedly, firm and clear. “Made a long time before Christianity. Long before Christ.” The rector beamed at him. “But not before God,” he said simply. The Old Ones looked at him. There was no answer that would not have offended him, so no one tried to give one. Except, after a moment, Will. “There’s not really any before and after, is there?” he said. “Everything that matters is outside Time. And comes from there and can go there.” Mr Beaumont turned to him in surprise. “You mean infinity, of course, my boy.” “Not altogether,” said the Old One that was Will. “I mean the part of all of us, and of all the things we think and believe, that has nothing to do with yesterday or tomorrow because it belongs at a different kind of level. Yesterday is still there, on that level. Tomorrow is there too. You can visit either of them. And all Gods are there, and all the things they have ever stood for. And,” he added sadly, “the opposite, too.” “Will,” said the rector, staring at him, “I am not sure whether you should be exorcized or ordained. You and I must have some long talks, very soon.”

Brilliant stuff.

So I was very, very unhappy to see the trailer for David Cunningham’s film, which looks like a pretty blatant attempt to ride on some extremely profitable coattails. (I won’t go into the massive and bizarre changes between book and film; someone’s already done it for me.) There’s also a lot of discussion about Cunningham’s apparent evangelical bent…and it seems odd that they picked screenwriter John Hodge to adapt the novel; though he’s definitely an excellent writer, he’s most known for writing gritty and/or weird Danny Boyle films (Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, A Life Less Ordinary, The Beach) than fantasy.

But of course, the path that leads us here is a pretty clear-cut one: novels about boy wizard sell roughly a hundred trillion copies; movie adaptations of said novels do pretty much the same; good old Gandalf and Aslan (who, on screen at least, is a contracted employee of Walden Media, the same faith-based production company that’s making The Dark Is Rising) are worth their weight in gold; suddenly, every producer in Hollywood is hunting the used bookstores for cheap young adult fantasy properties they can option and turn into their very own personal magical mint.

Problem is, the “kids” haven’t read The Dark Is Rising. It came out in 1973. And while you can probably turn any Newbury Award winning book into a movie and guarantee that parents will drop their Potter-besotted children into theater seats, your real audience for this film are the people who read it as children or teens and fell in love with it, and smart kids and teens who’ve never been exposed to it.

Of course, that’s not the billion dollar Harry Potter audience…but The Dark Is Rising is not Harry Potter. It’s not full of expensive CG set pieces. You could probably make a pretty good and faithful adaptation for about $20 million, and earn your money back in the first week. And you’d end up with a great piece of cinema, both profitable and high quality, something to be remembered by.

But I think The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising (as the film is clumsily titled; there’s gonna be a sequel, kids!) is going to be at best a by-the-numbers Hollywood fantasy film, and at worst a complete train wreck…this despite the presence of Christopher Eccleston as the Rider, which is a nearly pitch-perfect piece of casting. As much as I like Ian McShane in Sexy Beast and Deadwood (where he actually plays a real-life ancestor of mine), he’s totally wrong to play Merriman Lyon; I think Paul McGann would have been excellent in the role. From interviews I’ve read, it seems apparent that none of the filmmakers and maybe only one or two of the actors were familiar with the books before production. (McShane was quoted as saying “I know they sold a few copies, but I couldn’t read it very well. It’s really dense. It’s from the 70s, you know?”)

So do me this favor: don’t see it. Go buy the (doubtless marketed as a movie tie-in) book and read it instead. Punish these people with your wallet, and reward Susan Cooper for writing such an excellent novel.

And maybe in another twenty-odd years, somebody will revisit this material and do it right.