Thursday, February 28, 2013


It's true, as this article says, that Fuxianhuia was fairly Cthulhuesque.  It might have been one of the first animals with a brain, too.  Which is kind of merciful.  Its prey didn't know they were getting eaten by this freaky thing.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Truman Show (sorry)

So I'm in what could potentially be a fallow reading period.  However, one of my friends has been reading the short stories of Truman Capote recently.  I decided to play follow the leader on this one and I took Capote's "Collected Stories" out of the library.

I have read some of him before.  A couple of short stories, some journalism, and In Cold Blood, although I don't think I made it through to the end of that last one.  I had liked some of what I'd read, but at the same time it was hard to shake the image of him as a proto-reality TV figure.  But that's unfair.  To say that he was a better writer than Dr. Joyce Brothers was a clinical psychologist is damning with faint praise.

My friend had high praise for "Children On Their Birthdays."  This was a new one on me and I wanted to see what he was on about.  It is an amazingly well-told story, sort of a turning of the Tom Sawyer/Becky Thatcher courtship on its head.

"My Side of the Matter" is good too.  There's a back-and-forth here as to whether you should have any sympathy for the narrator, who is very hard done by if you believe him.  It feels like witnessing one half of a battle of unreliable narrators.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

AA (not Alcoholics Anonymous) Friday Random Ten

If small talk doesn't come naturally to you it's still often worthwhile to make an awkard attempt at it. Sometimes people just see the awkward, but other times they appreciate the attempt.

1. The Kinks - Groovy Movies
2. The Beautiful South - I Love You (But You're Boring)
3. Brian Eno - Needles In the Camel's Eye
4. The Magnetic Fields - Torn Green Velvet Eyes
5. Sarah Vaughan - Goodnight My Love
6. Nat King Cole - Non Dementicar
7. TV On the Radio - Province
8. The Decemberists - The Rake's Song
9. David Bowie - Quicksand
10. Stevie Wonder - Superstition

Friday, February 22, 2013

Not a trace of red

"Mack the Knife" sounds very strange in its original German, as compared to the English-language pop versions. This isn't just a cultural thing, as Brecht and Weill were looking to put audiences on edge. The look of early video - mpale and flattened - is strange to the eye. Kovacs was very clever in putting both together for these blackput bits.

Anyway, I'm still here. Probably a SatRan10 coming up tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Blatant fab filler

Who indeed? Is it Mr Whipple? The Donald Sutherland character from Animal House? Tom Green? Or the reliable old drummer, Mike Stivic?

Welcome evidence that camp stayed longer in Batman's world than we're led to believe.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The glug files

I came home tonight to find my kitchen sink half-full (not half-empty) of water.  Not expecting this, I was annoyed.  I do however, have a toilet plunger.  And I read something online that said 6-10 vigorous strokes should clear it.  Well, I lost count of how many times I pumped this thing.  Finally, though, I heard the low rattle of water emptying out.  That was satisfying.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Loosely scheduled Friday Random Ten

There was a recognition breakfast for some of the employees and volunteers at the hospital today.  I attended it, and it was nice to have a little time to chat with the others.  For this I rejiggered my work schedule a little, getting some morning duties done before I left last night.  Which I kind of enjoy doing, when I can swing it.

1. Fol Chen - The Believers
2. Patti Smith Group - Gloria
3. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Fire
4. The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won't Wrestle the Thistles Undone)
5. Elvis Costello & the Attractions - This Year's Girl
6. Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five - No (Papa, No)
7. David Bowie - Andy Warhol
8. TV on the Radio - Hours
9. The New Pornogrpaphers - Failsafe
10. Johnny Mathis - It's Not For Me to Say

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fun zoological fact

In the vast majority of cases, dogs are bigger than cats.  That knocks me out.  Cats are felines, which means that they're related to tigers, which are Jeep-sized juggernauts that could kill you with one swipe of thier paw.  A domestic cat, on the other hand, is spry but only about the size of a human baby.

A Great Dane, on the other hand, is about as big as any canine that's been on the Earth since the last ice age.

Ferrets are more straightforward.  There are no tiger-sized mustellidae.  It would be weird if there were.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

This is what "an outlet for stuff" is for

This video seems to cut off at an arbitrary point, which is the only problem I have with it. But the combination of the absolutely deranged stop motion animation and the old-fashioned music is winning. It's like a short subject running before the main feature at a movie theatre founded by Max Ernst.

Collaborate animation 3 from Kate Desforges on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The shifty world

Ah, this is what I wanted to get to before.  Only it turns out I'm not as inspired by cabin fever as I might have hoped to be.

But this is an excerpt from A New Human by Mike Morwood.  Morwood led the team that discovered homo floresiensis in Indonesia.  His work there also encompassed learning about the Manggarai, a tribe native to that part of Flores, and about their view of the world.

Beliefs about the beginning of the world and how life orginated determine many aspects of Manggarai life, including their traditional ceremonies, religious structures and the layout of fields, villages and houses.  Like most other people on Flores, the Manggarai are overwhelmingly Catholic, but blend Christian beliefs with traditional adat beliefs that place emphasis on ancestral spirits and offerings.  The Manggarai say that the first people emerged out of the strong, versatile bamboo plants on a newly formed Earth, which, after a great collision, was lifted streaming from the sea that covered the entire world.  Back then, Earth, the mother, was connected by a vine to the Sky, the father.  But mother and father flew apart when a dog bit the vine separating them.  Human beings - who are said to have originally had long fur - spirits and animals were closely related to them.  Humans became distinguished from other animals and forest spirits by their ability to cultivate plants.  Finally, with the use of fire, came rules of eating and rules of marriage, and only then the transformation to human beings.

At first soft and malleable, the Earth hardened as it aged, trapping the impressions of ancestral activites and the sacred rituals associated with them.  An ordered pattern of ritual was established, weaving together the connections between world, between clans, between human beings and ancestores, and between humans and the surrounding fields.

This is an elaborate mythology, or part of one, of course.  But notably it does contain elements of the truth as we currently understand it, including the solidification of the Earth and the role of patterns in distinguishing matter from other matter.  Which suggests that there are numerous paths to knowledge.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Lots of white stuff Friday Random Ten

Glad I finally got around to buying a pair of winter boots in late fall.  Last year you actually could get along without one.

1. The Decemberists - Margaret in Captivity
2. Sarah Vaughan - Can't Get Out of This Mood
3. Annie Lennox - Precious
4. Ladytron - Season of Illusions
5. The Kinks - Lavender Hill
6. Los Campesinos! - Coda: A Burn Scar in the Shape of the Sooner State
7. Ben Folds Five - Erase Me
8. The Spiders - I Didn't Want to Do It
9. Grizzly Bear - Cheerleader
10. Brian Eno & David Byrne - Strange Overtones

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tomorrow then?

There's something I'd like to put up here, but it involves a substative book excerpt that I'd be typing, and it's getting late now.

Lucky thing?  Tomorrow they're predicting an ass-kicking blizzard for the end of the week.  To the extent that the place where I work has already announced a 12pm closing.  So it looks like I'll have some time on my hands for little projects like that.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Hope you don't mind another picture post

This is another artist who I discovered recently. Discovered for myself, I'll add, since I don't want to take too much credit. She's originally from Argentina and her name is Carolina Antich. Her paintings seem to suggest much more than they tell or show directly. A picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case you might spend some time trying to guess what those words are.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Blood pressure spike

Damn but I had forgotten how much it sucks to go grocery shopping on Super Bowl Sunday.  It verges on being one of those things that friends don't let friends do.  Not only is everybody out picking up last-minute veging supplies, but they bring their sugared up kids with them too.  I guess I was hoping that it would be better this year because the Patriots blew it, but if it was, not by much.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Not so ho hum Friday Random Ten

One way you can be surprised in life is by apparently boring people. That is, someone may seem to just drone on and on without having anything interesting to say, but if you hear them out eventually they reveal something you're glad you heard.

Myself I'm a master of superficially boring silences.

1. TV on the Radio - Tonight
2. Elvis Costello & the Attractions - The Beat
3. Los Campesinos - This Is a Flag.  There Is No Wind.
4. Diana Krall - So Nice
5. Brian Eno & David Byrne - I Feel My Stuff
6. The Magnetic Fields - Swinging London
7. Sarah Vaughan - Ooh, What'cha Doin' to Me
8. Ladytron - They Gave You a Heart, They Gave You a Name
9. Patti Smith Group - Redondo Beach
10. The Kinks - King Kong