Lily was her name, and everyone came here to see her. She sang like she had been there, and was somehow still there, somehow still surviving in spite of all the loss, all the heartbreak, all the years that should have stomped her into oblivion long before and left her dead from sorrow and drug overdose.So for the few who have been checking to see if it's been updated--it hasn't. But I'm still working on it.
She stood tall and dark, hair that must have once been black as midnight dancing in serpent-curls around her ears, dark green eyes glowing from the bleak and cavernous hollows of their sockets. When she sang, some people quietly wept. Some people merely became silent and contemplative. No one spoke. No one threw a beer bottle at the stage. And when she finished and it was time to leave, they all went outside and took a deep breath of the stale city air and knew, somewhere inside, that no matter how bad their lives were, someone else's had been worse. Lily was that kind of a singer.
Because you never know what trivial bit of information may ultimately prove to be vitally important.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
B.A. in Madness
Read the whole thing at The Onion.
ARKHAM, MA—Arguing that students should return to the fundamentals taught in the Pnakotic Manuscripts and the Necronomicon in order to develop the skills they need to be driven to the very edge of sanity, Arkham school board member Charles West continued to advance his pro-madness agenda at the district's monthly meeting Tuesday.
"Fools!" said West, his clenched fist striking the lectern before him. "We must prepare today's youth for a world whose terrors are etched upon ancient clay tablets recounting the fever-dreams of the other gods—not fill their heads with such trivia as math and English. Our graduates need to know about those who lie beneath the earth, waiting until the stars align so they can return to their rightful place as our masters and wage war against the Elder Things and the shoggoths!"
Here's a little guy that I surprised when I popped off a lid last week. I pulled the whole plate off so I could get a picture, but the sun was causing such a bad glare that the phone couldn't handle the contrast, so it didn't come out too well. I've never seen one like this before. Usually the snakes I find are the checkered garter snake, in fact I saw one just yesterday that was about a foot long. The one in this photo was about 2 feet long, with a yellowish-beige stripe down the middle of his back. I'm pretty sure he wasn't venomous, but he was very aggressive. He began striking at the hook as soon as I stuck it in the box to knock the dirt off the meter. The checkered garter snakes never do that.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
An unexpected conversation
Me: Trying to find all my H.P. Lovecraft stuff and my other good horror books.
She: Oh, that reminds me! I have one of your books.
She leaves the room, comes running back a moment later with Lovecraft's The Tomb and Other Tales (Ballantine edition).
She: Here, I read this.
Me: The whole book?
Me: You read the whole book?
Me: Did you like it?
She: Yeah, but some of the words were hard and I didn't know what they meant.
Me: You read the whole book?
I'm still stunned. She's ahead of me now. I didn't read any Lovecraft until I was about 14. But then I didn't have a parent who had ever heard of him.
I knew all these books would be useful someday.
Moxy - Moxy (1976, LP)
I remember 1976. It was the year that everything was red, white and blue. The notebooks, the lunch boxes, the pencils, the newspapers. I was telling this kid once, "kid" as having been born in the late 80s, how everything in '76 was red, white and blue. A few days later another co-worker brought an old newspaper to work, just to show off, dated Sunday, July 4, 1976. I pointed at the front page and said, "See? I told you."
I bet if I still had that lunch box it would be worth something now.
In 1976, hard rock was still hard rock, uncontaminated by irony and anti-nostalgia. And there was a guy in San Antonio named Joe Anthony who had a show on KISS (99.5 FM), and he had a hobby of finding Canadian bands that no one had really heard much about yet and promoting the snot out of them in San Antonio. Bands like Triumph, Rush and Moxy.
This, their first album, is simply an awesome snapshot of what rock used to be in the 70s. It just flat-out rocks. They didn't have the staying power of Triumph or Rush--the lead singer developed vocal chord problems and then died young, but the surviving members did have a reunion tour several years ago. If you ever get nostalgic for hard rock the way it used to be, you won't go wrong with this album. It's another I bought used, though when and where exactly escapes me, and I don't think I had even listened to it until I ripped it a few days ago. I was very surprised at how much I liked it.
I wonder if records were made better back then than they were by the mid-80s, because this record made a perfect rip. Not a pop nor a click. For all the details about them you can look them up at Wikipedia. Amazon has a CD version of this album with extra tracks, and has sound samples for all eight of the tracks that were on the original album.
*A few years after we were married, my wife and I ran into her. She told my wife that she had been my girlfriend in fifth grade. I wish I had known that at the time.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Bennington Tobacconist unknown blend #5
Fired up a bowl in the old Kaywoodie lovat since it doesn't get used much and it shouldn't have much flavor left over from previous smokes to bias this blend. At first light, I got the distinct impression of cinnamon candy, like Red Hots but not hot. It faded immediately.
The flavor eludes me. About halfway through it seemed sort of wine-like. Two-thirds through I put it down, left the room, walked around the house a little, then came back in to try and catch the room note. No luck.
The pipe bowl itself smells quite sweet, which is normal for artificially-sweetened Cavendish. But still unidentifiable.
But I guess none of that really matters. Regardless of how it tastes and smells, do I like it?
No. It will give it credit in that it isn't the most offensive aromatic I've ever tried. But if someone were to try and covert me to aromatics, this one wouldn't do the trick.
The kids don't care for the room note, either, whatever it is.
UPDATE: I cheated and went to their website to look at their blends and see if I can guess which one it is. I think I figured it out. This is supposed to be one of those "English aromatics," a latakia blend with flavoring added. The flavor is a "secret." I think I need some Perique now to cleanse my palate.
Rain and stuff
It kept thundering all morning long. I was sure I was going to get really hammered, so I left my personal phone and the mp3 player in my truck so they wouldn't get wet, tied my jacket around my waist because I was sure I'd need it. About 10:30 my wife called and said it was just pouring down here. I was working in Alamo Heights today and did not see a single drop of rain.
When I came home a little while ago I was stunned by full ditches and flooded fields--even the rumblestrips still had water standing in them. So it really did pour down here.
Got a new book in the mail today, The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia, third edition by Daniel Harms. Mr. Harms started this book out several years ago and first published it as The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana (which I also have--bought one of the first copies as soon as it was available, actually). It should be interesting to see what he's added since that first edition way back when.
Also got a tobacco sample in the mail today from Bennington Tobacconist. I signed up for their samples because they like to ship them out to the average pipe smoker for reviews, which they then post on their website. I signed up for non-aromatic blends only, and they unfortunately sent me an aromatic this time. I guess I'll try to smoke some of it. I can't identify the flavor they put in it, but it's stinking up the whole room. Yech. As a general rule, I just can't stand aromatics, 1792 Flake being the one notable exception.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
LAW - GA10017 (1975, LP)
One of most popular area bands throughout the 70s was Youngstown, Ohio’s LAW. Formed in February 1971 by Steve Lawrence, Steve Acker and Mickey Williamson, the name was derived from their initials. From the band’s first rehearsals it was clear that LAW had a special chemistry and magic which very quickly garnered them a regional reputation as an exciting and original club and concert attraction. At the outset the band was determined to perform original material with the goal of securing a record contract. Even the cover songs they did were performed in their own original style.
LAW was known as a “boogie band.” A three piece power trio, they were quite similar to Z.Z. Top in performing blues-based hard driving rock, although they did not know it at the time. Within a year of their formation LAW was opening for national acts like Bob Segar, Edgar Winter’s White Trash and Alice Cooper. One notable performance took place outdoors at Lake Milton, Ohio before 5,000 fans. LAW not only opened the star-studded program, but also later performed as Chuck Berry’s backup band.
I call this one GA10017 because that's the catalog number and the only apparent title of the album (it's printed on the lower hand cuff, as well as on the spine). They later developed into a 4-member band with Acker as the only original member. Click the image to the left you and can see an enlarged version with the members' names as they were in 1975.
In 1975, LAW had a hard time breaking into radio because they were too funky for AOR and too rock for R&B. They opened for many different headliners (perhaps most notably The Who--Roger Daltrey liked them a lot), but were never able to become a headliner themselves.
The band shown here consisted of guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. An additional percussionist and synth player are credited but not pictured. The Memphis Horns also add great accents throughout the album.
This is a cool album, and the more I listen to it, the more I like it. They released two other albums, and if I ever chance across them, I'll certainly consider buying them.
Ripping results: perfect, with some work.
You can download and listen to many LAW mp3s at Acker's website, just click LAW Songs.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Chick Corea - The Leprechaun (1975, LP)
That done, I came back home, aired up the tires, gave the brakes a quick test and then rode it down the road a little just before it started raining again. Then I dug into the old shed--and this was a real job, I was soaked with sweat even though it was raining--that shed is like an oven. Anyway, I dug into there to get out the old cross-country skiing machine. It's been stashed in there for more than 10 years, and I was shocked and surprised that I was able to 1) find all the parts, 2) reassemble it without instructions, and 3) find that it still worked the way it did when it was new. I don't have any use for such a machine myself (anymore), but my wife says she wants to use it again. We do actually have room for it now, in this house. The reason it was stashed away was because before my daughter was born and we were making room for her and so forth, we realized there was no place to put the skier anymore. Like I said, plenty of room now.
And the bike? I didn't really buy that for exercise either. Just for fun. I enjoy bike riding. And I think if I'm out there riding, it will encourage the kids to ride their bikes more often.
After that I did some cleaning up on the computer. First I cleaned all the ventilation ports for the laptop with pipe cleaners and a dust buster. The filtering software that removes pops & clicks puts such a load on the microprocessor that the computer sometimes shuts down to prevent overheating. This was getting to be annoying, also I'm sure it's not good for the computer. But after cleaning out all the little holes today I was able to run a whole 8-track album through it at once without it shutting down. I also cleaned out the keyboard while I was at it.
Then I did some "cleaning" in that I rearranged some files & directories, finished up some albums that were all in various states of incompletion, and at last decided all was caught up and ripped two more records. Which brings me to the current record, which I actually ripped long ago but lost track of it because I was doing too many things at once.
Another album that I bought used, probably from Yesterday's Warehouse, which was a place in Seguin that mostly sold used books but also records and a few other curiosities and antiquities. This is the only Chick Corea album I have, although I do have a couple CDs lined up in my yourmusic.com queue.
From 1975, when Corea was working with his fusion group Return to Forever, this record was something he did on his own as a "leader" project (that is, instead of being in a "group," he was totally in charge although accompanied by other musicians, and he composed and arranged all the music himself). The music from The Leprechaun is also leaning pretty obviously toward the fusion side of the genre, occasionally wandering briefly into narrow side-trails of pop, jazz and if I'm not mistaken, even a couple of hints of classical.
There aren't any pieces on this album that are particularly ear-catching, but I think it's a decent example of what was happening to jazz in the mid-70s with some of the more forward-looking artists like Corea, and it has some good synthesizer work so you can hear what the state of the art sounded like in 1975. Instrumentation on this album is all over the place. Acoustic and electric bass (on different tracks), soprano sax, flute, English horn, a string quartet, a brass section (trombones & trumpets), and two singers (one male and one female). Corea himself plays a variety of keyboards: acoustic piano, Rhodes piano, organ, various synthesizers and several conventional percussion instruments.
Ripping results: perfect.
Amazon has sound samples of all tracks.
Zeus fought Thor
I really need to get a new rain gauge.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Jury duty in Japan
The Japanese government has commissioned a 22-minute anime video called "Bokura no Saibanin Monogatari" (Our Jury Story) to teach its citizens about the re-introduced jury system. In July, Japan will implement jury trials for the first time in six decades, so most Japanese have never experienced jury duty. The anime uses a high school boy's one-sided infatuation for a classmate as an unusual segue to discuss the jury system.A few more details at the link, like this one to the video at YouTube.
This is what we're up against
At the quick before-you-hit-the-road meeting this morning, we were informed of some upcoming changes which don't really mean a whole lot to those of us on the ground (who cares if they reassign some of the management? I don't). But as usual, this was taken as an excuse to blow things way out of proportion and one person, who I am half-convinced got a job there for the sole purpose of stirring things up and trying to form a union...that is, I would not be surprised to learn that he was actually a "plant"...almost shouted, in great indignation: "What it comes down to is that the company is going to do what's best for them!!!"
Well, duh. Idiot. That's how capitalism works. If you don't like it, go into business for yourself.
I didn't say anything because I didn't want to cause an incident, and besides, I almost gave a few people heart attacks yesterday by uncharacteristically landing a philosophical rabbit punch on the general subject of "laws affect only the law-abiding" right in the middle of the morning meeting and I didn't want anyone to think I was going postal or something. (My supervisor told me that was politics, and we wouldn't discuss it here, or something like that, but she also obviously agreed with me).
But...****. And this is one of the many things that are wrong with people in this country today: they believe that profit is bad. They think that businesses should first provide an infallible position for its employees regardless of how it affects the bottom line.
Okay, comrade, would you make a decision that caused you to lose money for you and your family as long as it kept making more money for your employees? Well, why not?
I just can't understand these people. Their mind-set is completely alien to me.
P.S. I don't think the union thing is gonna happen. They haven't sent me any updates by mail in several weeks, so I think it kind of petered out. After I told a few people that unions are only "institutionalized corruption and small-scale communism" they stopped talking to me, and the only news I've heard since then is what I've received by mail, but those notices were going out to everybody.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Yes, I'm one of those...
"Hey Alan, what kind of deodorant do you use?"
Me: "Uh...Mennen Speed Stick."
She: "Oh. That figures."
I never have figured that one out.
Also I have a backlog of stuff to download, but I generally just start that last thing at night and then go to sleep.
One comment about Yes for the moment: I really like their instrumental work, but Jon Anderson's voice starts getting on my nerves after a while. Sounds too much like Mickey Mouse.
'Scuse me while I kiss the sky!
I still have one vacuum-sealed bag of Bayou Morning that will be two years old next month! It has been 11 months since my last big order. Man, that was a long time to go without 1792 Flake. Heh. Second comment at the link:
After half a bowl of this stuff, I had to set down my pipe, lie on the floor and pray that I wouldn't throw up on my Persian rug.Stout.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
A bunch of stuff you never wanted to know...
I spent my cross-training day yesterday in the meter shop, where they evaluate, test and repair meters that are supposed to be bad. Some of it was quite interesting, but there were stretches of extreme tedium.
Every morning someone brings in a load of meters that were pulled the previous day. Some days it's only a few. Yesterday there were over 100.
I worked only on the smaller residential meters, which were I think were all 5/8-inch, but the test bank pictured below also does 3/4" and 1". There were a few that were bigger than that (2" and 3") but I didn't work on them, and they go on a different test bank. Four-inch and larger are tested in the field, and I didn't have time to go out and do any of that. So everything I say pertains only to the smaller meters.
First of all, there are certain brands of meters which are automatically junked because they were all installed more than 15 years ago. There is an "expiration date" of 15 years, or 1200 cubic feet, whichever comes first. There are thousands (probably) of meters out there that are technically expired, but they won't be removed unless they obviously go bad or the customers complains (for example, I noticed one that I read today had more than 8000 cubic feet on it). There are only two models of small meters currently being used; one of them has a serial number which gives you the year of manufacture, so with a glance you can tell if they are auto-junk or not. The other model started use less than 15 years ago and are all candidates for repair. The junked ones are recycled elsewhere.
We had 26 that weren't automatically junked. The first step in the testing process is to squirt some water into each one from a hose and see if it runs. If it does, it goes back on the cart. If it doesn't, it goes on the repair bench.
The register (the part that has the numbers you can see if you look into your meter box) almost never breaks, unless it has been smashed due to accident or vandalism. It can eventually wear out and get out of calibration, which is why there's that 15-year limit. The most common breakage occurs in the part you can't see, which is under the register. Below the register is a compartment that houses a small turbine that is made entirely out of plastic except for a magnetic disk. The bottom of the meter is unscrewed, you put in a new turbine, screw it back together, and that's it. Afterward I shot some compressed air into it to make sure the new turbine worked (if the meter moves, it works). The turbine is magnetically coupled to the register--there is no mechanical connection.
Once the repairs are made, all the meters are connected to this test bank.
It can hold 24 meters at a time. You just drop them in there and use the compressed air to apply pressure to the entire bank so they are all squeezed into the openings you can see there so they don't leak. I didn't think to take a picture when it was full--I suddenly remembered I had a camera phone after it was over, so it's all empty. Anyway, this apparatus runs three different flow tests. First, a "high-flow" test that pumps 10 cubic feet of water through each meter at the rate of 15 gallons/minute. Second, a "medium-flow" test of 1 cubic foot at the rate of 2 gallons/minute. Finally, a "low-flow" test of 1 cubic foot at 1/4 gallon/minute. The entire procedure takes about an hour. The initial reads are taken and punched into the computer, then new reads are taken after each stage and punched into the computer again. Most meters that are starting to go wonky can pass the high and medium tests but will fail on the low test. In this case, we had two meters that appeared good at that first crude water hose test but failed the low test and went back to the repair bench. One of them I expected to fail because it didn't look right when I first squirted water into it. I even asked the guy who was training me if he was really going to call it good because of the way it moved. He put an "X" on it so we didn't lose track of it, and sure enough, it failed.
By the way, this system is entirely self-contained and the water is recirculated.
This picture is from the other end. You can see two odd meters that were left over and have already been mounted. If there are only a few meters left over, they are usually left for the next day, but fewer than 12 can be tested by putting "blank" PVC pipes in place of meters. The bench in back where the pneumatic tools are hanging is the repair bench.
The next step is to put plastic caps on the in-flow and out-flow openings to keep dirt out, then they are taken to a bench grinder and the cap is buffed to make it easier to see the serial number and manufacturer name. Then they go in boxes so they can be taken back out into the field and installed wherever they need them.
And that's about it. Next time I'm required to do this, I hope to spend the whole day in the field so I can learn about testing the big meters. Staying all day in that one building was not exactly for me.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Pipe tobacco order
So yesterday I placed orders.
From Cup o' Joes:
2 oz Sokkebye's Luxury Bullseye Flake
250 grams 1792 Flake
50 g McClelland's Perique
50 g Escudo
One pound Bayou Night
I still have one unopened tin of Escudo but I wanted to have a tin in reserve for when I finally work up the nerve to open it. Thus far I have used only C&D's blending Perique so the McClelland version will be new to me.
Here's hoping it comes in by the weekend. Sure will be nice to have 1792 again.
I have to report to a different department for a cross-training day today. Not because I want to, and not because there's really any point, but because my supervisor said I would "fail to meet expectations" if I didn't do it at least once this year. So I have to work an inside job today, a full 8 hours plus a 30-minute lunch, and I expect it to be unspeakably tedious and boring.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Just a note
Saturday night random 20
1. Elton John - Nikita (from a greatest hits compilation)
2. Sting - Nice Work If You Can Get It (from a tribute to Gershwin CD)
3. James Carter & the Prisoners - Po Lazarus (from the Oh Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack)
4. Screaming Blue Messiahs - Martian (one of my favorite old 80s groups)
5. Kenny Rankin - The Very Thought of You (jazz)
6. Tangerine Dream - Mt. Shasta
7. Marillion - White Feather
8. Neil Young & Crazy Horse - F*!#in' Up
9. Brasilia - A Chamada Do Rio (jazz)
10. Warren Zevon - Mutineer
11. Hawkwind - Sword of the East
12. Michelle Shocked - Eddie (a dark sequel to the song "V.F.D." that tells what really happened)
13. Kentucky Headhunters - Rock and Roll Angel
14. Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer
15. REO Speedwagon - Ridin' the Storm Out
16. Kate Bush - Egypt
17. Pink Floyd - Goodbye Blue Sky
18. Uli John Roth - I'll Be There (from his group Electric Sun)
19. Hüsker Dü - Diane (from their early EP Metal Circus)
20. Nashville Dulcimers - Cajun's Waltz (a dulcimer band--a dulcimer band!)
Misc singles Amazon downloads
Big Business - "Gold and Final"
Eh...heavy metalish, but nothing that impressed me too much. Deleted.
Buckwheat Zydeco - "Ninth Place"
Hey, I could always use another zydeco song. I think I have at least two now in my whole collection, including this one.
Caitlin Crosby - "Still Have My Heart"
I really like this song, and she has a great voice. One thing that really annoys me about modern teenybopper singers is how they seem afraid to hit a note and stick with it--their singing is very artificial and forced. Crosby has a very natural sound that makes her singing almost conversational, and this is a very catchy song. So impressed was I that I looked her up and I liked what I found. Check out Pop with a Conscience and loveyourflawz.com. I am going to buy this CD.
Tori Amos - "Maybe California"
Well, if you're already familiar with Amos, I don't need to say anything. If you're not, I have one recommendation: buy the album Little Earthquakes. You're on your own from there. But hey, this is a free download so you can snag it if you want.
Jeff Bujak - "Sea"
Instrumental, mostly electronic club music, kind of funky in parts. A long piece at 11 minutes, I'll add it to my electronica collection.
Jeremy Enigk - "Mind Idea"
I like it. I had to look him up. Enigk is credited, or perhaps cursed, with being considered a progenitor of "emo music." Okay. I still like it.
Nomo - "Invisible Cities"
I like this one, too. More instrumental dance music that I'll put in with the other electronica. Has some acoustic instruments, a horn (trumpet?) and a sax taking lead parts.
The Church - "Anchorage"
I already knew I liked The Church, and a freebie from them is always welcome.
The Lovell Sisters - "In My Time of Dyin'"
Another one that I really like, and another group I had to look up. They are three actual sisters who are classically trained but who play music heavily influenced by bluegrass, and their three-part harmonies are very sweet. Their band is made up entirely of acoustic instruments, and they call their sound "progressive acoustic." This song sounds like really old-time country/folk/bluegrass with a religious theme. Another CD I plan on buying.
Trainwreck Riders - "Don't You Know"
Looked these guys up, too. Another band who treads the oft-overlooked gray zone between rock and country. It's a keeper.
Embedded below is the video for "Still Have My Heart." The video is goofy, but I must say it again, I really like her voice.
Max Morath - The Best of Scott Joplin and Other Rag Classics (1972, LP)
This is another album that I bought used, although I'm not sure where. It has been at least 20 years since I bought it, and at the time I thought it would be a good idea to get it because at the time I had no other ragtime music in my collection. I still don't.
But that's not to denigrate the genre. It's just that ragtime is not exactly the kind of music one can just happen across at your local mall music store. Ragtime has an important place in American history, being a musical form which originated in North America by African-American musicians, such as (and perhaps most notably) Scott Joplin.
Ragtime does have some tie-ins with the later genre of jazz (another form of music with American roots), but unlike jazz which is mostly improvisational, ragtime was mostly a "written" music, which in a way makes it more like classical music than like jazz. It is most heavily based on the piano, although other "folk" instruments are also sometimes used.
Anyone interested in American musical forms will be making a mistake to ignore ragtime. To download a very interesting example of vocal ragtime (in *.ogg format), check out the Wikipedia entry on ragtime. This entry also has several other links that are worth investigating.
But onto this album specifically. It is a two-record set, record one being pianist Max Morath playing various Scott Joplin pieces along with some pieces by other ragtime composers. Record two is performed by The Original Rag Quartet, consisting of Morath on piano accompanied by banjo, guitar and bass. There are also a couple of original "modern" ragtime pieces included, composed by Morath himself.
I don't have any sound samples for you on this one, but I think it is almost impossible to have grown up in the United States and not have heard some ragtime at one time or another. For example, who hasn't heard "The Entertainer?" I'd hazard an assumption that this is likely Joplin's most well-known composition.
Ripping results: Good, but not perfect.
Amazon does have a CD release of this album available, but some tracks were omitted that were on the original vinyl release. The original has 26 tracks. They have several other ragtime CDs from Max Morath also.
Friday, May 15, 2009
The Residents - The King and Eye (1989, CD)
I have a theory. And it is mine. It may not be original, but it is mine.
And here it is. (Ahem...cough...hack!)
Time is not linear. Yes, a lot of people have said that. My own vision of how time and reality works is that instead of linear, time is a spiral. A long, jangly, springy, spinning spiral that looks pretty much like a giant Slinky.
Sometimes it collapses, sometimes it expands. Sometimes it gets tangled up in itself. There are an infinity of such reality-Slinkies spinning and banging into each other in the Grand Nothingness that is The All. Sometimes friction works up between two or more spirals, and for lack of a better analogy, in much the same way that a spark of lightning bridges the gap between differing potentials of earth and sky, or between your hand and the doorknob, there is occasionally a blast of reality-potential that shoots across the gap between Slinkies and balances the potentials of causation on one side and reaction on the other.
I think that somewhere out there, there was one such Slinky in which another Elvis was hit by such a bolt of reality-potential and for one utterly clear and incredibly brief moment, saw what he might become. This Elvis recorded "That's All Right," then decided the cost was too high, went back to driving a truck, and became an ultimately obscure and all-but-unknown footnote in the history of popular music. The consequences of this decision means that somewhere out there, there is a reality-Slinky where Lisa Marie was never born, Priscilla Wagner was one of the original Charlie's Angels, "Blue Suede Shoes" was a minor hit for both Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, and Michael Jackson still has most of his original nose.
It also means that in that particular Slinky, rock & roll is very, very different.
Of course, all of this conjecture is irrelevant, because the fact is that Elvis Presley had an impact on our own reality-Slinky that is still sending wiggles and tremors throughout time, beyond our own relative point and into the future. I must admit this, and I'm not a fan. I still think "That's All Right" was his best song, and most of his career was largely gratuitous and redundant.
But in this case, it doesn't matter what I think, because the masses and history have spoken.
The Residents' The King and Eye is a collection of Elvis hits, but they are not cover versions. They are reinterpretations. If you are an Elvis fan, you might want to stay far, far away from this album. However, if you are not especially a fan, but perhaps especially if you are more interested in the Elvis Phenomenon than in the music or the person, you would probably find this collection enlightening. The album consists of 16 of Elvis' hits, interspersed with spoken-word bits of narrative in which the vocalist explores the phenomenon of Elvis.
Upon my first listen, many years ago now, I was immediately struck by how desperate and masochistic many of these lyrics are--something I had never noticed in the bouncy, up-tempo, polished versions which we are all used to hearing. It is almost certain that once you listen to this album, there will be at least one or two songs which you will never hear quite the same way again.
So yes, I recommend this album, partly because of the fascinating way Elvis hits are interpreted, and partly because it is probably one of The Residents' least avant-garde and most accessible albums. It might make a good starting point for a Residents newbie.
Amazon has sound samples of the first four tracks: "Blue Suede Shoes," "The Baby King, pt. 1" (narrative), "Don't Be Cruel" and "Heartbreak Hotel." This item is no longer manufactured, and new copies will cost some money, but used ones can be found at an affordable price. They also have it available as an mp3 download.
Seen on Facebook
It was from a minor car incident when I was three years old and my nose was broken. I don't remember it, but my parents told me about it. My nose used to be noticeably crooked, but it has straightened out somewhat over the years. It points slightly toward my left.
I don't know if I should be flattered or offended
Somebody please explain to me...
Last week I dropped off a pipe for a stem replacement, and since I needed some pipe cleaners I thought I'd buy some while I was there. Unfortunately, I accidentally got the tapered kind. This is the second time I've bought them (both times because I wasn't paying attention), and I just don't get it. The thick end is too thick to force through a pipe stem, and you can't even get the skinny end all the way down the stem into the shank to sop up excess moisture because the thick part binds it up in the stem too soon.
So: I just don't get it. I can see how they would be useful for cleaning nooks and crannies of other things, such as firearms for example, but I just don't see how they are supposed to work on pipes.
By the way, although the Humidor always seems to be out of them, I always prefer to buy churchwarden-length pipe cleaners. I don't even bother with the short cleaners unless that's all they have. I use a small set of snips to cut the dirty end off the cleaner as I go along, and this way I get a lot more mileage than if I just used short cleaners, which are too short to snip.
I still buy short pipe cleaners when I don't have a choice, but those tapered ones just don't fit my cleaning routines or something, I guess.
Another by-the-way, beware of those cheap chenielle stems they sell in arts & crafts stores. They are not made for pipe cleaning, although I have used them often because they are long, churchwarden-length. The problem with them is that the bits of fluff tend to come off the spine and then you get pipe stems and shanks with bits of fluff crammed into them. I do still use them myself sometimes, because I can pick them up conveniently at Wal-Mart and I'm cheap. Just watch out for those loose bits of fluff if you use them.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
15 mean CAPTCHAs
One of 15 of the meanest CAPTCHAs ever at Oddee. This is one of the easy ones.
These Dreams: Heart's Greatest Hits (1997, CD)
I just got this in from yourmusic.com a few days ago. I thought it looked like a decent compilation for my collection, and I wanted their hits (at least) on CD so I could make some good, clean mp3s.
Everyone reading this already knows all about Heart that they want to, I assume. I don't have every Heart album there is, but from what I know, their career seems to be pretty sharply divided into two parts: the beginning to 1980, and everything after 1980. The two albums released in 1982 and '83 (Private Audition and Passionworks, respectively) might be considered a sort of gray zone between the two eras, with the second era really beginning in 1985 with Heart.
Beginning in 1985 Heart took over the radio once again with numerous "power ballads" that, I think, combined some of their 70s-era harder rock with the more polished and less hard sound of 80s pop. Maybe I'm wrong, but it's not something that means a lot to me.
Anyway, if you want a good compilation that covers their pre-1980 era, you don't want this album. You want Greatest Hits/Live, which is a 2-record set in its original format. Record 1 is the "greatest hits" part, and record 2 is the "live" part. Record 2 also includes a couple of oddballs that are more "found sound" or experimental pieces, as well as a rough but powerful live cover of "Unchained Melody" (Ann Wilson's voice punches holes through the clouds on this song), all of which were deleted from the CD version of the album.
But, if you're looking for a compilation that gives a better overview of their career from the very beginning up to the mid-90s, this is the one. Packed with 17 tracks and running more than 73 minutes, they crammed all the music they could onto one CD. It has all the essential big radio hits of the 70s era, all the big power ballad hits of the 80s, and a couple of 90s pieces, too. They opted to include live acoustic versions of "Dog & Butterfly" and "Straight On" rather than the original recordings, and I must say they're pretty cool. They also included a live version of "Barracuda," rather than the original studio version, which is Ann Wilson's angry ode to their original label, Mushroom Records.
Ann and Nancy Wilson were an anomaly when they started out: two sisters who rocked hard and led their own band. Sisters! Who'd-a thunk it!? They have become enormously influential in rock music, and they have taught me one thing for sure: women do power ballads better than men. Accept it. It is a fundamental truth.
I have read that in more recent years they have returned more to their harder rock roots. But honestly, I kind of quit keeping track around 1990.
Amazon has sound samples of all tracks on Greatest Hits/Live, but none for These Dreams. But then you already know what they sound like, right?
That time of the year
Weekends should be better.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Primate skull found at construction site in Dallas
A plumber working on a construction project outside a North Dallas school unearthed a mysterious skull.Via Cryptomundo, which offers photos of various other primate skulls for comparison. Doesn't look anything like a chimp skull to me. I think it looks more baboonish.
Experts will determine the age of this primate skull found at a construction site.
A worker uncovered a primate skull in the muck at a North Dallas construction site.
“We all know it’s a primate,” said David Evans, 25, of Alvarado. “We just don’t know which kind.”
The skull was buried about five feet underground, he said. It’s six inches from front to back and two inches wide.
Most of the teeth, including one-inch canines, are intact.
Evans said the skull was discovered last week at the St. Alcuin Montessori School near Churchill Way and Preston Road.
A noted anthropologist for the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office, Dr. Dana Austin, viewed photographs of the skull and said it was definitely an “old-world primate,” possibly a monkey or chimp.
But how did it get to be buried 5 feet deep in Dallas?
Monday, May 11, 2009
How to create a feed for a specific label
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Thanks, that made my day. I was literally laughing out loud. And all because I said the Lorcin should have been included in the list of the worst handguns in history?
Unless this is only part of something bigger that I'm not yet aware of. I had to work OT today and I didn't get enough sleep last night. It's now after 8:00 PM and I have only now sat down to do some blog reading and so forth. Last time I saw something similar to this it was because some troll, or group of trolls, hit a bunch of gun-related blogs with flames and so forth.
Still, that was funny.
Friday, May 08, 2009
This installment is meant to show that our protagonist has a vicious streak and can sometimes barely keep his rage in check.
This and the first post were the first two situations that came to me when I first started thinking about this story.
I gotta say, trying to give hints about the backstory without giving too much away all at once is freakin' hard.
Modern Jazz (1986, mp3)
A few weeks ago someone came across my post and offered to email me another jazz CD put out by Radio Shack, so over the course of several days, one track at a time, I downloaded the entire disc via email.
At my best guess, First Class Jazz came out in 1984. Modern Jazz was put out in 1986. Where First Class is a collection of more traditional jazz standards, Modern Jazz is a collection of less traditional, more electronic (in some cases), and more on the fusion edge of jazz. I really like it.
1. Acousticity - David Grisman
2. New Places, New Faces - Joe Sample
3. Sophistication - Cabo Frio
4. Jesse James - Skyhawk
5. Sonja's Sanfora - Yellowjackets
6. Freefall - Spyro Gyra
7. High Steppin' - Larry Carlton
8. Put it Where You Want It (Live) - The Crusaders
In 1986 this would still have been quite new(-ish) music, and would have been a great introduction to for someone new to the more fusion area of the jazz genre.
David Grisman is a "newgrass" composer and mandolin player who creates music that is jazz heavily tinged with bluegrass. I haven't heard much of this kind of music, but everything I've heard, I liked.
Joe Sample I've heard of before, mostly via KRTU. He is a keyboardist who was also the leader of The Crusaders before they went their separate ways.
I'm also somewhat familiar with Larry Carlton (guitar player), Yellowjackets and Spyro Gyra. Those two groups are considered "fusion" by most folks. I have one Yellowjackets CD. Spyro Gyra is a group who I've always wanted to investigate but never got around to it.
I had never heard of Cabo Frio or Skyhawk before. Cabo Frio has a website where they call themselves "smooth jazz" (gack!). Maybe they market better that way. I can't find anything about a group called Skyhawk.
A very cool collection. Whoever put these discs together for Radio Shack knew what they were doing.
Stuff you don't need to make up
An expedition team which set sail from Plymouth on a 5,000-mile carbon emission-free trip to Greenland have been rescued by an oil tanker.The only thing that could have made this better is if one them had been mauled by a dolphin.
The team, which left Mount Batten Marina in Plymouth on 19 April in a boat named the Fleur, aimed to rely on sail, solar and man power on a 580-mile (933km/h) journey to and from the highest point of the Greenland ice cap.
The expedition was followed by up to 40 schools across the UK to promote climate change awareness.
But atrocious weather dogged their journey after 27 April, culminating with the rescue on 1 May after the boat was temporarily capsized three times by the wind.
In one incident Mr Stoddart hit his head and the wind generator and solar panels were ripped from the yacht.
Cell 24Z - The Daily WTF
Fortunately, our ["our" being software developers --ed.] hard-earned skills of “reading an instruction manual” and “applying common sense” enable us to solve most of these vexing computer mysteries. But when it comes to anything more advanced than rudimentary, we tend to be as lost as our laymen counterparts. Take, for example, that little paintbrush-looking button in Excel. Did you know it's called the “Format Painter” and can magically copy/paste cell formatting? Did you even know it was there? I didn't until recently, and holy crap is it awesome.Actually, I did already know about the format painter and have used it many times. I had to create a spreadsheet to track employee performance in a previous job, and I had a lot of time to play with Excel.
And long before that, I was always the guy they went to to fix circular references in Lotus 1-2-3 (for DOS! with an amber monochrome monitor!), which was used for book-keeping at the restaurant where I was employed. I even went by and fixed it a few times after I no longer worked there. I really don't know how they kept screwing it up.
I don't know how many times the manager was freaking out because something had stopped working and all I did was use common sense and plug something back in. And I'm not even a computer professional, nor a computer expert by any stretch of the imagination.
Maybe that's why it strikes me as so funny. Read the link and see the formula that was in cell 24Z, and see if you can make heads or tails of it. I can't. That one is way beyond me.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
The mouse-over quote is good enough for a t-shirt.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Free mp3s from Amazon: my brief comments
PLONK! Deleted. Exceptional in its mundanity.
2. Chavel Sombre - "Little Bit of Heaven"
A keeper. I haven't been able to find anything about this group (I think it's a group). This track is...oh...minimalistic and sort of droney, like Velvet Underground crossed with Tangerine Dream.
3. Great Big Sea - "Excursion Around the Bay"
A definite keeper, catchy and sea-chanty-ish.
4. Justin Rosolino - "I Wanna Know Why"
Keeper. Wish I could find the lyrics somewhere.
5. Los Straitjackets - "Fortune Cookie"
Instrumental surf music. This one will be nice to hear when it turns up in the shuffle.
6. Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers - "Songs in the Night"
Another keeper. Her vocal style reminds me a little of Edie Brickell, but I think she's a better singer. Her myspace page says she's "an Oklahoma-based song writer." Some twangy country-ish guitars, nice.
7. Susan Marshall - "Oh My Soul"
She definitely knows what she's doing with her voice. Influences of soul and blues, I'd like to hear more of her stuff.
Well, that's it for the singles.
"Excursion Around the Bay"
Well it was on this monday morning
And the day be calm and fine
A harbour grace excursion
With the boys who had the time
And just before the sailor
Took the gangway from the pier
I saw some fellow haul me wife
Aboard as a volunteer
Oh me, oh my, I heard me old wife cry
Oh me, oh my, I think I'm gonna die!
Oh me, oh my, I heard me old wife say,
"I wish I'd never taken this excursion around the bay"
We had fourteen hundred souls aboard, oh what a splendid sight!
Left stong and regimental to make our spirits bright
And meself being in the double, when a funny things they'd say
They choke themselves from laughing when they'd see us in the bay
Me wife she got no better, she turned a sickly green
I fed her cake and candy, fat pork and kerosene
Castor Oil and sugar of candy, I rubbed pure oil on her face
And I said she'll be a dandy when we reaches Harbour Grace!
My wife she got no better, my wife me darling dear
The screeches from her trollear could hear in Carbonear
I tried every place in Harbour Grace,
Tried every store and shop,
To get her something for a cure or take her to the hop
She died below the brandy's as we were coming back
We buried her in the ocean, wrapped up in a Union Jack
So now I am a single man, in search of a pretty face
And the woman that says she'll have me, I'm off for Harbour Grace!
The week so far has been unusually hectic. This is the first night I've had both time and energy to sit at the computer and have a leisurely pipe. Yesterday, due to circumstances beyond my level of authority, responsibility and control (in other words, somebody above me in the chain of command screwed up, and I suffered for it), I was out there in the field until nearly 3:00 PM. And I started at 7:00 AM. Fortunately I had had the foresight to break out the CamelBak so I didn't get dehydrated. It gets really hot out there after about one o'clock. Monday is always busy because that's Girl Scout night.
Well, anyway, on Saturday night I actually posted another installment over at Nightgaunt's Realm, but after a couple of hours I decided it needed a lot more work so I took it down.
I have several albums that I could write about, but I'm just sort of concentrating on doing nothing right now. I did forget to mention, in the post about The Wall, an interesting website that I came across while noodling around the internet on Pink Floydian topics. Pink Floyd The Wall: A Complete Analysis. I'm not recommending it, because I know it's a little too in-depth for everyone. I thought to myself several times while reading it, "these guys need to remember it's only rock & roll..." Yet still, I read it. Most of it. My eyes started to glaze over after a while. But then that was when I was still assuming some semblance of consciousness last night so the eyes-glazing may have just been exhaustion rather than boredom.
I have been downloading a lot of free mp3s from Amazon and I have a big backlog of stuff I need to listen to. I've kind of slowed down on the Twitter list of albums I'm converting because The Wall took a lot of time and work. I'm about to start working through a bunch of Yes albums and a few other assorted things. But I'm thinking I might put all those aside for a few days so I can convert all my Triumph records. It's been a long time since I've heard any of them.
Pink Floyd - The Wall (1979, LP)
My second-year college room-mate was an interesting character who hailed from Indonesia, although by heritage he was also half Japanese. He had come into an enormous record collection by fortune rather than design. He had several boxes full of records. Thanks to him, I got a lot of exposure to groups and artists who I most likely would never have heard of otherwise. He wasn't really a music guy, however. He said that his collection had been given to him by a friend who was "going back home" (I suppose either to Japan or Indonesia) and couldn't afford to ship them all back with him. I never counted them all, but I'd say there were several hundred, but probably less than 1,000. When the semester ended and I knew I wasn't going to be coming back, he told me I could pick out whatever I wanted from the collection and take it with me. I could have backed a truck up and loaded them all, but I didn't feel comfortable taking a bunch of his records, even with his permission. For one thing, I could tell that many of them either already had, or someday would have collectible value because they were rare imports that you couldn't just go out and buy in the U.S. So I picked out only two: The Wall and Yes' Going for the One.
This album had a big influence on me. I listened to it over and over and at one time had the whole album memorized word for word and note for note. In 1985 (I'd guess that was the year) I requested and received the book of the piano scores for it as a Christmas gift, and eventually added "Comfortably Numb" to my small keyboard repertoire.
I think I mentioned before that I never bought the CD because I heard two different CD releases and the sound on both of them totally sucked. So I just kept listening to tapes of these records, full of pops and clicks, but fortunately no skips. There came a point when the last tape finally wore out and I didn't bother recording it again--I had moved on, I guess. I tried making a tape from a co-worker's CD but due to the extremely low volume level of the CD (I said it totally sucked, remember?), the tape wasn't listenable even by my standards.
Thanks to modern technology and Goldwave, I now have a pretty good pop-free digitized version of the whole album.
In my opinion, The Wall must be taken as a whole. Many of the tracks are not really stand-alone songs, but musical bridges between the major points of the album. Still, "Comfortably Numb" is one of my favorite songs (regardless of artist or genre), and I still sing alone with it if I hear it on the radio or it turns up in the shuffle.
Oh yeah, and I bought the videotape of the movie back in the 80s also. I'll probably get the DVD version before too long. Or at least rent it from Netflix.
Amazon has samples of most of the tracks, although I can't imagine that anyone who reads this blog doesn't already own this album.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Not that it will do you any good. Do you understand?This is what it was come to. The above is not satire. It is a direct analogy.
Anything you do say, or we say you say if we have more witnesses than you, will be used against you in a court of law, if we think we can get away with it. Do you understand?
You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. You will not have a chance to challenge our lack of standards or scientific method in our lab results and your expert witness will not be allowed to witness anything if we can help it. Do you understand?...
Do yourself a favor and get informed, if you don't know anything about the Olofson case. Links:
Olofson machine gun transfer upheld
Expert witness for defense does not have to right to view testimony from prosecution's expert witness
'Broken gun' conviction upheld by court
It would also be a good idea to go to The War On Guns and search for "Olofson."
Basically, a man had a semi-auto rifle that malfunctioned and fired a short burst of full-auto before it jammed. Therefore, the BATF must now ruin his life.
Monday, May 04, 2009
Ragtime Southwest is a company in San Antonio that manufactures electrified player pianos, calliopes and nickelodeons. Quite amazing. They also convert existing pianos to "players."
The original design was to be electronic with solenoids and 8 track or cassette player instead of pneumatics and a paper roll driving the Player Piano! Research soon concluded that the paper roll was definitely more authentic and since the recording industry was ever changing the 8 track or cassette might soon become obsolete when Ken Caulkins, in 1971, founded Ragtime. He made the decision to go with authenticity. Paper rolls have been around for a century now and many of the original rolls can still be used. It looks as though the decision was a good one (Try to find a place that sells 8 track tapes).This post is not an ad. I just found their website to be quite fascinating and you might, too. Check it out for more info on all these antique, automated instruments, as well as some great photos of old player pianos, calliopes and nickelodeons.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Saturday random 20
2. Gary Burton Quintet - Dreams So Real
3. Meat Loaf - Somebody Loves Me
4. Kronos Quartet - White Man Sleeps IV (note to self: fix the tags for this album, they are totally screwed up)
5. Glen Campbell - Gentle On My Mind
6. Wall of Voodoo - Chains of Luck
7. Styx - Pieces of Eight
8. The Sushi Club - Neo Tokyo
9. Mott the Hoople - Roll Away the Stone
10. Utopia - The Very Last Time
11. The Alarm - Permanence in Change
12. Slowdeck - Scared Me (So Busy)
13. Ohio Express - Mercy
14. David Schnaufer - Rock Th' Shay
15. Al Stewart - Midnight Rocks
16. The Doors - The Spy
17. Suzanne Vega - Solitude Standing
18. Don Dixon - Oh Cheap Chatter
19. Hüsker Dü - Something I Learned Today
20. deep-dive-corp. - Relaxer
1. Say what you want about their politics, I still think Indigo Girls second album (the self-titled one) has some great stuff on it. They had one other before that, but it was with Indigo Girls that they hit the big time.
2. From a free jazz sampler from Amazon.
3. From a "salute to Gershwin" album which I bought because it has Kate Bush doing "The Man I Love."
4. My only Kronos Quartet album. They're good, but I just never really got into them.
5. More music from my childhood. From a "best of" CD that has all his best stuff, and is about all I need from him.
6. From the Andy Prieboy era.
7. A favorite Styx song.
8. Ambient music, downloaded back when Musical Starstreams used to make all their programs available for download.
9. Mott the Hoople! Mott the Hoople! Mott the Hoople! I just like saying it.
10. Todd Rundgren's group, from a "best of" Rundgren CD.
11. I listened to a lot of The Alarm back in the 80s.
12. Same as #8.
13. From a compilation CD of bubblegum hits.
14. Schnaufer is a master of the mountain dulcimer. If you ever want to hear some really excellent dulcimer music, get something by David Schnaufer.
15. From a "best of" CD.
16. Classic Doors from Morrison Hotel.
17. One of my favorite female singers.
18. Don Dixon is probably more in demand as a producer than a performer, but he can do some good stuff.
19. Classic Hüsker Dü from Zen Arcade.
20. Same as #8 and #12.
Friday, May 01, 2009
All grown up...
Remember that address, it might help you if you ever have to park there.
Remember I said we were in the company truck, and of course we were wearing our work uniforms. We told the ticket booth guy that we just needed to get in for a minute to put a new lid on the meter box. He said we'd still have to pay. We explained to him again that who exactly we were and what exactly we needed to do, and that we wouldn't actually be parking, just putting a new lid on an open meter box. He shook his head and said that his manager would have to sign off on it if we wanted back out without paying.
So while my co-worker was replacing the lid, I ran down to the office and asked the manager if he'd sign the ticket so that we wouldn't have to pay for replacing the lid. He was very friendly and accommodating, and wrote on it to the effect that we didn't have to pay, signed his name, and told me the story about the meter box, which was still full of water from the rain several days ago. Apparently someone claimed their kid had stepped in it and "gone into water up to his chest." He said he didn't believe it, but it was still a safety hazard, and it was, of course. I told him the box couldn't be more than about 10 inches deep, so it would've had to have been a pretty short kid.
But anyway, I ran back out the parking lot and my partner had already popped the lid on and we were ready to go. We got back to the booth, handed the guy the ticket that the manager had signed, and he said, "Two dollars."
Well, we were already aggravated from having to run around replacing a lid, and this didn't help. My words were something like, "What the hell are you talking about? The manager already signed us out."
His reply: "Two dollars. You stayed past the grace period."
Me: "What grace period? We were in there for less than three minutes. You told me to get the manager to sign us out so we wouldn't have to pay, and that's exactly what I did. And now you're telling us to pay for parking, when we didn't actually park?" Except I'm not sure I was actually that polite. I was totally flabbergasted at him.
So he pulled out his trusty handie-talkie and after talking with someone (the manager, I assume) for about ten seconds he lifted the barricade and angrily motioned for us to leave.
********. You can fill those in with what ever you please.
Like I said, the manager was perfectly understanding and immediately gave us permission to leave without paying for parking. It was the idiot drone in the ticket booth who was obviously suffering from rectal-cranial inversion.
Don't mess with the twirlers
Don't mess with the marching band. That's what California authorities are saying after a 17-year-old girl used her marching band baton to beat back two would-be muggers.via Lest Darkness Fall
Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy Michael Rust says the Quartz Hill girl was walking to school April 24 when two men approached her from behind, tried to grab her coat and demanded money.
Instead, one got a punch in the nose and the other a kick to the groin. Rust says the girl then beat both of them with her band baton before she ran away.