Friday, October 28, 2011

Wiggly Friday Random Ten

I guess you could call the place where I work fairly informal. And I'm mostly an informal person myself. In fact today I got up from my desk to ask a question and realized I was in my stocking feet. This seemed a little much, so I fixed the situration.

1. John Lee Hooker - Low Down Midnite Boogie
2. The Kinks - Harry Rag
3. Tom Waits - Downtown
4. Soul Coughing - How Many Cans
5. R.E.M. - Auctioneer (Another Engine)
6. Ladytron - Versus
7. Duke Ellington - One O'Clock Jump
8. Blossom Dearie - I Won't Dance
9. Elton John - Grey Seal
10. Reading Rainbow - To My Gemini

Thursday, October 27, 2011


A freeze warning has been issued for tonight. Really, they mean early in the morning, but the sun will still be down and so will almost everyone else. But I believe it. It's been a chilly day. That despite our having, earlier this month, nights so warm you'd go to sleep with the window open and the fan on. So October is squeezing in summer, autumn, and winter. It's nine months' action in one. Kind of impressive, rea.lly

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Putting it down

One book I've trid to read recently is Charle's Dickens' Dombey and Son. I had a good time over the summer with Barnaby Rudge, so my hopes were pretty high. Myabe too high.

D&S isn't boring. I'm not sure Dickens was even capable of that. But it is quite It is, however, misguided.The fact that the defining picture dies about a third o the way in doesn't help. The thing is that while Ebenezer Scrooge is kind of a bastard, he's the believable, relateable kind. Dombey the Elder is ten times worse, much more pompous, and he surrounds himself with old biddies who are even worse than him.

So this one I'm putting aside for now. Everyone makes some mistakes in life, which this sort of looks like. If I'm wrong maybe I'll find out later.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hoodoo you think you are?

Don't worry! I'm not posting this because Dr. John has died. Not that I've heard about anyway. This is just a delightful clip. I love the juxtaposition of the Doc himself at his bad-news freakiest, and then you have the host with his hilarious rap session sincerity. It just goes to show you how big the world is.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Occupy Count Olaf

I think this is a particular gem.
3. Money is like a child—rarely unaccompanied. When it disappears, look to those who were supposed to be keeping an eye on it while you were at the grocery store. You might also look for someone who has a lot of extra children sitting around, with long, suspicious explanations for how they got there.

That's from Lemony Snicket's page at Occupy Writers. Snicket (and/or his employee Daniel Handler) seems perfectly suited to the project. The author of the "Unfortunate Events" books knows that life isn't fair, but that fairness isn't some impossibly alien subject.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It doesn't pay to be too ahead of the times

From An Empire of Plants: People and Plants That Have Changed the World by Toby & Will Musgrave, a funny story. Or not, if you were directly involved with it.

Europeans firs made the acquaintance of tobacco on 12 October 1492 when, after 71 days at sea, Christopher Columbus first sighted the coast of America. He named the island where he landed San Salfvador, and here, according to his logbook, the indigenous people 'brought fruit, wooden spears, and certaind dried leaves which gave off a distinct fragrance'. The gifts were accepted, the fruit eaten, but the yellowish leaves were tossed overboard. Columbus sailed on, arriving off the Cuban coast on 28 October, where two conquistadors, Rodriguo de Jerez and Luis de Torres, were sent inland to scout. The natives they encountered wrapped dried tobacco leaves in palm or maize 'in the manner of a musket formed of paper', and after lighting one end, they commenced 'drinking' the smoke through the other. Rodriguo took a hesitant puff and became the first European to smoke tobacco. Columbus returned to Spain with some dried tobacco leaves, and Rodriguo, who by now was a confirmed smoker, took his habit back to his home town, where he unwisely lit up in public. So frightened were his neighbors b the smoke billowing up from his nose and mouth that he was imprisoned by the holy inquisitors, only to discover upon his release several years later that smoking had become a national habit.

Yeah, just imagine Rodriguo getting out of prison, and being told, "Hey, you know that crazy thing the inquisitors nailed you for? Everybody does it now, completely free of legal consequences. Have a nice rest of your life.

I imagine there was smoke coming out of him at that point, no tobacco needed.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Maybe, maybe

It's been a while since I put any poems up here. That's always a nice change of pace, so maybe I should do it again. I'll have to go and read some, first, but that's also a nice change of pace.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Eucalyptus-infused Friday Random Ten

Because I have a little bit of a cough this week, I'm also taking Hall's cough drops here and there. The wrappers have these pep-talky messages printed on them, like "Get back in there champ!" and "You can do it and you know it." All of which makes me wonder if Cadbury Adams is planning to market antidepressants and/or ED medication next.

1. The Dave Clark Five - Any Way You Want It
2. Wes Montgomery - Baubles Bangles and Beads
3. Reading Rainbow - White Noise
4. 8½ Souvenirs - Life Style
5. Elton John - This Song Has No Title
6. Neko Case - No Need To Cry
7. Duke Ellington - The Mooche
8. Arcade Fire - Crown of Love
9. John Lee Hooker - Drifting From Door to Door
10. Joe Jackson - One More Time

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Another Booooooom! discovery here. The artist's (working) name is Spunky Zoe, and she has her own website. It's in Korean, but there are ways to translate if you don't speak the lingo. Anyway, these pictures are grotesque in an absolutely beautiful way. A little like Max Ernst, a little like stills from Terry Gilliam animations, a bit like a classy heavy metal cover. If I see something like this in my dreams, I'll be freaked but impressed.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Evolve already

Interesting story here based on an anthropological field study in Quebec. The people behind the study would certainly be fun to study. A decrease in age at first child from 26 to 22 wouldn't be fertility per se. Human females have always been fertile much younger than 26. One could ascribe it to social mores. That's not entirely convincing, though, because teenage mothers were fairly common before the 20th century. My other thought is that for some reason miscarriages used to happen more often. So many questions.

Overall I do believe the implications of the study. In a way, microevolution is just an extension of the little mutations that always occur between parents and children. Plus ça change and all that.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Random Ten, and you bet it's fall!

Today was the first day since early in the spring where I noticed the heat being on while I rode the bus. Ah, the seasons...

1. Elvis Costello - Wouldn't Call It Unexpected No. 4
2. John Lee Hooker - Crawlin' Kingsnake"
3. Lou Rawls - A Natural Man
4. Mika - Billy Brown
5. Neko Case - Whip the Blankets
6. Yo La Tengo - Nothing to Hide
7. k.d. lang - Help Me
8. Gnar;s Barkley - She Knows
9. Joe Jackson - Baby Stick Around
10. Lambert, Hendricks and Ross - Gimme That Wine

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mail of mystery

Black Mail by Doris Miles Disney is a mystery novel first published in 1959. The Zebra edition I read this week came out in 1989. Going by the stamps in the back of the library book, I seem to be the first person to take it out since 1993. So it's fair to say this is a somewhat forgotten title. The same could be said of the author.

Disney was a New England author, originally from Connecticut. So the book gives a not-bad impression of New England small town life in the post-WW2 era. It's part of a short-running series centered on Postal Inspector David Madden. The fact that there aren't many detective stories about Postal Inspectors made me curious to read this one.

As far as writing goes, this is pretty good, not spectacular. For prolific authors of popular fiction, pretty good is nothing to sneeze at. But the book is also a document of its time, in ways that might not have been intended.

The barebones of the plot is this. An imperious upper middle class housewife - Inez Blaine - is incensed that young banker Lucia Ruyter broke up with her son, who then moved to a new job in Seattle. The son doesn't seem to be all that broken up about being turned down, but never mind that. On instinct, Inez tried to run Lucia down with her car. That doesn't work, so she tries a new tack of writing poison pen letters to Lucia and to the bank, hoping to get the girl fired and generally ruin her life.

Some values haven't changed in the past half century. Inez Blaine would be considered a lunatic now, and she's presented as a lunatic in the novel. This despite a couple of nicely written passages that show her own feelings of outsiderdom in the small town community. But the obscene letters she writes essentially make the charge that Lucia has screwed a bunch of guys without being married to them. It's not true, but even if it were it's hard to imagine a woman now being blackmailed or blackballed on those charges. Whether it's the sexual revolution, the women's movement, or the fact that it's a pain in the ass to train new loan officers when the old ones sleep with their boyfriends, society has moved on.

As it turns out, the Postal Inspection Service parts of the novel are interesting too. As is the unconsciously condescending attitude toward working women. One of these things is intentional and the other is a matter of weird luck.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The real macaw

The video description of this piece on Vimeo says that it has something to do with Michel Foucault's theory of postsexualism. To be honest, I had a little exposure to poststructuralist thinkers like Foucault in college, and found them rather mind-numbing. So I prefer to just appreciate the neat bunraku puppetry and the nicely performed Beatles song.

Scarlet Macaw from Amber Marsh on Vimeo.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Watch this space

Hm. Just thought about something to blog about, but I'm on the verge of not getting nearly enough sleep for the big day I have tomorrow. I'll remember, though. I think.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Thinking out loud Saturday Random Ten

Reading comments on blogs, reading letters to the editor, or just listening to people talk, a commmon theme tends to show up. People believe that other people, very often the majority of other people, agree with them. This can be expressed as "Real Americans know..." or "People are finally waking up to..." Sometimes you see the inverse, where a person believes that the majority of their fellow citizens/humans have been duped or brainwashed.

It may be a trait inherited from our pre-Iron Age ancestors, who lived in small band societies and actually could do headcounts of everyone--everyone they knew about--and find out who thought which way about what. But we're not in that situation anymore. There are polls that try to statistically pinpoint what most people believe, and some are more reliable than others. But with 7 billion people in the world, the very concept of majority is a fairly squishy abstraction. It can only be taken with many grains of salt.

1. Reading Rainbow - Animals Take Control of Me
2. Pink Martini - Ou Est Ma Tete?
3. The Dave Clark Five - Can't You See That She's Mine
4. Grizzly Bear - Colorado
5. Wes Montgomery - Tune Up
6. Lou Rawls - I Can't Make It Alone
7. Neko Case - Guided By Wires
8. John Lee Hooker - Burning Hell
9. Talking Heads - With Our Love
10. Kendra Shank - Softly, As In a Morning Sunrise