Tuesday, March 31, 2009

As we go out like a lamb...

Thought this clip would make a nice monthly transition.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pushing back against the big box

I have to say, this sounds like a healthy trend.

Prisk is at the center of a new political movement in Britain launching an assault on the conformity of branded big-box stores in favor of small, locally owned businesses. In America, attacks on Wal-Mart and Home Depot are familiar, the province of community activists and an antiglobalist left. But Prisk is a leader of Britain's Conservative Party, its shadow minister for business and enterprise. His campaign is part of a new Conservative strategy here: to push back against the homogeneity of global culture and fight instead for what he has called the "great British institutions" of mom-and-pop stores and small-town post offices.

Would I agree with the bulk of the Tories' agenda. Probably not, and since I'm not British it really doesn't matter anyway. But what's good is that when the more right-leaning political party starts questioning corporate hegemony, that shifts the center of gravity. The gladhanders at New Labour will need to weigh in, or admit that they're willing to continue selling the country's soul. And maybe people will listen to what the LibDem's have to say about local institutions as well.

Here in the states, some on the left are concerned with preserving town centers and encouraging mom and pop stores. In truth, we tend to buy from the big stores out of inertia if nothing else. And the prevailing attitude tends to be "If Walmart sells X, I'm buying X at Walmart." The result has been the profusion of anonymous pre-highway strip malls.

So if America produces a few Mark Prisks who can make business diversity sound downright conservative, so much so the better.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Springing (groan) into the Friday Random Ten

This is one of the first days of the year that's really felt like Spring. So yes, looks like lighter jacket weather for a while. Hope I remember to wear pants, at least on work days.

1. Electric Six--Naked Pictures of Your Mother
2. 8½ Souvenirs--Spider Lady
3. The Brunettes--Structure & Cosmetics
4. The White Stripes--Martyr for My Love for You
5. Luscious Jackson--Under Your Skin
6. Sir Julian--Movin' at Midnight
7. Broadcast--Black Cat
8. Sons of the Pioneers--Teardrops in My Heart
9. Tom Waits--Road to Peace
10. David Bowie--African Night Flight

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Look who stopped by for a drink

Your moment of hummingbird zen.

Yes, I do intend to start writing actual posts again at some point. Be cool.

I've seen these birds up close a couple of times. You kind of have to blink to make sure it's real.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ninja post

Two ninjas enter.

One ninja leaves.

As that ninja is running off, the other ninja says, "Sorry, man. My digestive system is really acting up tonight."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

São Paolo

Oh! My stars and garters! In the mental fog I've been in lately, I've forgotten to do a St. Joseph's Day post. Well, better late than never. And no better way than with some Paolo Conte.

This could be delayed even further by my dithering over which video to put up. Instead, I'll have both of these. The first song is called "Max" and the second is--wait for it--"Hesitation." Both are sublime.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Random Ten to be completed subsequently

Yeah, that's a pretty weird header. Been a little ill this week but I've still been going to work, so I was too wiped out to complete the list last night. Still, enigmatic isn't always bad.

1. The Kinks--Polly
2. Louis Armstrong--West End Blues
3. Elvis Costello & tge Attractions--High Fidelity
4. Brian Eno--Taking Tiger Mountain
5. The Kinks--Mindless Child of Motherhood
6. Tori Amos--Liquid Diamonds
7. Barenaked Ladies--Celebrity
8. Scissor Sisters--Get It Get It
9. Blossom Dearie--Something Happens to Me
10. Tim Blake Nelson--In the Jailhouse Now

That's right, we're double-Kink-ing it this time out.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Well it's green... sort of...

Last week I was making a chicken/rice/veggies dish for dinner. I usually keep some green peppers or some such on hand. But at that time I didn't have any fresh vegetables in the house (mushrooms not counting for this purpose.) What I did have was a can of green peas that I had never gotten around to using. So I dumped them in.

I was not pleased with the results. Canning does not do peas any favors. I'm guessing that vegetable skyrocketed in popularity after the frozen variety was introduced. In fact I would venture to say that canned greenish brown peas are half of the reason English cooking has such a bad global repuration. The other half can be attribured to putting the words "kidney" and "pie" in the same sentence.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Plenty O'Feedback

This being March 17, it's a good a time as any to highlight Dublin's own My Bloody Valentine, here playing "To Here Knows When" in Japan (hence the lettering.) Either whiskey or sake is appropriate. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

That's entertainment!

So it seems that Michael Steele, thinking that he was still gettin' down at the big tent party, got up to stretch his legs. And in his amblings, he knocked over a tent pole, affirming that the big top weren't that big.

While it's fun to watch Steele play Charlie Brown as the Rush Limbaugh wing cries "You blockhead!", there are puzzling exchanges.

“Comments attributed to Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele are very troubling, and despite his clarification today the party stands to lose many of its members and a great deal of its support in the trenches of grass-roots politics,” former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) said in a posting on his blog. “For Chairman Steele to even infer that taking a life is totally left up to the individual is not only a reversal of Republican policy and principle, but it's a violation of the most basic of human rights — the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a conservative rival who ultimately backed Steele's bid for chairman, also lambasted him in a written statement.

“Chairman Steele needs to reread the Bible, the U.S. Constitution and the 2008 GOP Platform,” said Blackwell. “He then needs to get to work or get out of the way.”

Huckabee is apparently dating the history of the Republican Party only back to the year 1AR (After Reagan), which is pretty much standard. But what is Blackwell talking about as far as reading the U.S. Constitution? Steele said that abortion is an individual choice. Reading the Constitution won't disabuse him of that notion, as it doesn't mention abortion. (Nor does the Bible, but that's a whole can of worms.) Does Blackwell have a hot-off-the-presses edition the rest of us haven't seen?

As for the "get to work or get out of the way" bit, it's nice to know that the abuse of party chairmen is a bipartisan pastime.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fuzzy Friday Random Ten

I didn't have time to shave this morning. Luckily I do my job pretty well. "Eccentric genius" might be pushing it, but people are willing to overlook things here and there.

Anyway, here's a somewhat oldies-oriented Friday Random Ten.

1. Dinah Washington--A Foggy Day
2. The Kinks--God's Children
3. Nobukazu Takemura--Machine's Dream
4. TV on the Radio--Love Dog
5. Tori Amos--Northern Lad
6. Blossom Dearie--I Wish You Love
7. Gang of Four--I Found That Essence Rare
8. Sly & the Family Stone--Don't Burn Baby
9. Nick Drake--Way to Blue
10. Jimi Hendrix Experience--Rainy Day, Dream Away

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It's looking right at me!

This joint from 1935 goes to show what a genius Mickey Mouse creator Ub Iwerks was. It also shows you how weird pre-WWII cartoons were. In a few years, a number of animated films would be put in the service of war propaganda, which was another kind of disturbing. The evilness of the Axis powers didn't need much embellishment, but some of the anti-Japanese 'toons were, well, you know. In general using art as a weapon of the state has problems.

But that doesn't really have anything to do with this.

Can you believe that couple actually stayed together? If I were the girl, I'd get away from that death-wishing moron so fast...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Damn you lead time! Damn you to Hell!

Oh Jeff Jacoby will you ever win?

A little local flavor here. I'm in Providence, RI, which is the same region as Gentleman Jeff. This past Monday, we got slammed with our biggest snowstorm of the Winter. Circa twelve inches. This weekend, you had people walking around with T-shirts and no jacket. Except in places where the plows piled it up, the snow is gone. Tomorrow we expect to get more, but how long will that last?

Add up patterns like that, and along with the Wii, you have the reason why sledding is basically dead in the lower 48. You don't need a polar bear to know which way the wind blows.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Busted: The Friday Random Ten Story

Was listening today through a pair of headphones where the right channel had snapped off and I sort of awkwardly electric-taped it back on. I guess you could say the artists below were under a certain amount of pressure.

1. Brian Eno--Burning Airlines Give You So Much More
2. Bonzo Dog Band--Alley Oop
3. Sly & the Family Stone--I'll Never Fall In Love Again
4. Jane Monheit--Detour Ahead
5. Nobukazu Takemura--Murmur of the Day
6. David Bowie--Yassassin
7. Outkast--Behold a Lady
8. Gang of Four--Natural's Not in It
9. Talking Heads--The Book I Read
10. Nellie McKay--Gin Rummy

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ich bin ein otaku

New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane is always witty and often perceptive. That is, when he's talking about movies and books. I do wish he wouldn't review audiences. Actually "stereotype" might be a better word here.

In the opening paragraph he compares graphic novel fans to devotees of Wagner. But it's hard to imagine a New Yorker writer dismissing Wagnerians in such a heavy-handed manner, in part because you never know when they're carrying firebombs.

This is the part that really sets my teeth on edge.

“Watchmen,” like “V for Vendetta,” harbors ambitions of political satire, and, to be fair, it should meet the needs of any leering nineteen-year-old who believes that America is ruled by the military-industrial complex, and whose deepest fear—deeper even than that of meeting a woman who requests intelligent conversation—is that the Warren Commission may have been right all along.

Now, I haven't seen Watchmen, and I don't have many expectations of it. A lot of my friends, however, are in the expanded target demographic. You know, Trekkers, gamers, non-Scientologists who've read Battlefield Earth. And the thing is, a lot of these guys are husbands and fathers, and some are women. So the idea that anyone interested in Alan Moore must be pimply and terrified of girl cooties is demonstrably false. So the cocktail circuit insults are out of line.

I'm close to talking about "narrow social circles" and "elitist snobbery," but if Lane's article reduces me to the pseudo-populist rhetoric Karl Rove has gummed to mush, we all lose.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's got a good beat and I can really dance to it

This is a pretty neat kinetic sculpture. I know it must have taken many hours over several days (or weeks) to put it together, but I imagine when the artist saw it all click together, it must have been satisfying.

The music enhances it well. Simple, graceful. Does anyone recognize it?

Monday, March 2, 2009

About the size of it

From this point of view, it's not the quantity but the quality of the protesters that counts. Liberal causes draw hundreds of thousands of people, but they are of the wrong sort, whereas the tea parties drew hundreds of rightwing activists -- definitionally a superior class of people. Thus rightbloggers could be satisfied that any number of protesters for their cause constituted a major victory.

:Roy Edroso, Village Voice

Glenn Beck, probably the most genuinely stupid consevative to get a high profile media gig, ran what he called a worst case scenario on his show last week. Cartoonish, but what he and his guests talk about--and don't talk about--is telling. It's all 95% tax rates--because the gov't will apparently try to erase the deficit overnight--and angry bubbas.

You'd think that unemployment and potential shortages of food and medicine would be part of any "worst case scenario." Apparently not so much. And you'd think that poor minorities would be a larger factor in these doomsday scenarios. After all, people watching Glenn Beck are ready to believe that a brothah carved up a McCain volunteer's face. By that logic couldn't they cause more trouble than some homeowners in the sticks?

Ah, but the public fear/secret hope revolves around the good boys of the National Guard siding with the Toro mower rebels. And the assumption is that if the military sees a bunch of n__gers, gr__sers, and a few dirty white kids bathed in p__chouli causing trouble, well... These aren't folks who'll be missed when our boys Do What Must Be Done.

It must be nice knowing that you're among the elect. None of that troubling self-examination.