Saturday, November 30, 2013

Enwreathed Saturday Random Ten

On my way out today I saw the building's housekeeper.  I met her before I moved in but our paths hadn't really crossed since then.  I let her know that I liked the Christmas wreath she put on the side door.  It is a nice touch.

1. The New Pornograohers - Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk
2. The Bird and the Bee - Love Letter to Japan
3. Jimmy Smith - But Beautiful
4. Joni Mitchell - Song for Sharon
5. Marvin Gaye - Right On
6. They Might Be Giants - When Will You Die
7. Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - I'm Bored
8. Pink Martini - Je Ne T'aime Plus
9. Edith Piaf - J'm'en Fous Pas Mal
10. R.E.M. - Laughing

Friday, November 29, 2013

Young 'uns

Abbie Hoffman famously said "Never trust anyone over 30."  In his later years he revised it as "Never trust anyone under 30."  That he was being facetious both times is something you'd hope that history will pick up on, but you never know.

In any case, my own version is "Never tell anyone under 30 that you don't have a cell phone."  I don't have any great desire to order kids off my lawn.  It's a simple matter of personal preference and being, at this juncture, able to choose.  But I think if a lot of younger people hear that you walk around phoneless they'll expect you to go into a jeremiad about the modern world and all its electronic evils.

Tonight I picked up one of the last editions of The Onion, which is">ceasing print publication, essentially because the papers are given away free and they want to increase the ad value of the website, which would be nice if they'd come out and say instead of talking like the self-important slicksters that they should instead be making fun of.  But anyway, a cashier at CVS saw it in my hand and said she loved the Onion.  I agreed and said I'd miss the print edition, for the reason that even though I knew about the website I rarely found time to go there.  (This is true.  For some reason I'm much better about visiting its sister site the AV Club, despite its recent and hideous layout makeover.)  She told me about an app that you can download so that you can read Onion articles at lunch.  Pretty much irrelevant to me but I appreciated the attempt to be helpful and thanked her.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Scenes from bachelor life

Once in a pinch a little back...  To start from the beginning, I was planning to make tacos.  For flavoring I like to use salsa rather than taco sauce.  Was out of it, didn't have time to go to the supermarket, and the store I was looking in didn't have any salsa or taco sauce.  They did have A1 steak sauce, though.  That turned out to be no kind of substitute.  Tangy was the wrong kind of spicy.

Through trial and error, though, I later found that steak sauce works quite well as a ketchup substitute for French fries.

This may or may not be relevant information for your (US) Thanksgiving.  I'm just putting it out there.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Java jive

The advertisemtn shown here is so nonsensical to me. "100% barista. 0% attitude."? How often do you get too much attitude from a barista. Sure, everyone gets bad or rude service somewhere. But I can count on the fingers of one hand all the times I've been mistreated by coffee shop counter help.

Reasons are various. Starbucks seems to have an impressive training program, but I've generally been pleased with the level of service at smaller chains and independents too. Part of it, of course, is that baristas are dependent on tips and don't want to alienate tippers. But also the nature of the job is that it's a social exchange. People whose exchanges with customers tend toward the negative don't last long.

I suppose it might be true that if you got a machine, even a Yuppiestein like this one, you could save money by not going out for espresso anymore. But I'd submit that the hanging-out opportunity makes the shops a net positive.

No, I think I know the target demographic here. It's people who have such a high need for deference that any human behavior at all on the part of those serving them seems like an imposition. Meet America's aristocracy, and those who aspire toward it.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Road trauma Friday Random Ten

(As Google and DuckDuckGo show rare solidarity in their Doctor Who doodles.)

I know a guy who was riding his bicycle years ago, got thrown from it in a collision with a car, went under the car, and was pinned under it until the driver opened their door.  The driver then took off when they realized it was their fault.  You can still sort of see the scars, but he's pretty well adjusted.  I could easily see this event leading to never leaving your house, or to reckless vigilantism.

1. Morphine - I'm Free Now
2. Brian Eno - Here Come the Warm Jets
3. Beck - Emergency Exit
4. Rasputina - Hunter's Kiss
5. The Bird and the Bee - My Love
6. Joni Mitchell - Amelia
7. Chic - I Want Your Love
8. The White Stripes - Suzy Lee
9. Metric - Artificial Nocturne
10. Johnny Mathis - When Sunny Gets Blue

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Friendly song

Not even that much of a deadhead, but this song is really pretty and fun. I hope that even if Jerry Garcia went to Heaven the Devil still gets a chance to write stuff on his Facebook wall.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Big fun

This is so weird.  I'm used to big city mayors keeping it together, more or less.

Sure, Marion Barry smoked crack, but he was basically your average urban mechanic Democrat, only with a few different hobbies.  Plus, when he came back and got elected again, didn't he promise to cut down?

Rudy Giuliani maintained the façade of a happy home life through most of his two terms.  He also didn't embrace the nastier philosophies of the pre-Tea Republican party until he was out of Gracie Mansion and running for president.  Deep down he probably doesn't believe in anything.

And those guys are down here in the US of A.  Everybody thinks of Canada as the sensible and polite little brother.  Even me, and I was born there.

So, like, what the fuck?  Rob Ford is such a strange mixture of right wing whack job and personal hot mess.  But apparently he still has a lot of support.  Is this whole thing a sitcom pitch that got out of control?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Under the hood

I have to admit that while I knew about prepared piano, bowed piano is a new one on me. It's intriguing, though. Especially in the way you can have all those people playing one instrument, while doing different things.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Permian record Friday Random Ten

The Permian Era was a time of strange giant amphibians, including the snakelike aistopoda.  The dominant reptiles were mammal-like, unlike the proto-birds (a.k.a. dinosaurs) that took over in the Triassic.  And of course all of this ended badly.  The end-Permian extinction was the closest to date that life on Earth has come to being eliminated.  Meaning those of us whose distant ancestors survived are pretty fortunate.

1. Gogol Bordello - Underdog World Strike
2. Pink Martini - Ich Dich Liebe
3. The Bird and the Bee - Birthday
4. Beck - Farewell Ride
5. Talk Talk - Dum Dum Girl
6. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings - When the Other Foot Drops, Uncle
7. They Might Be Giants - Old Pine Box
8. Jimmy Smith - I Didn't Know What Time It Was
9. Roxy Music - Trash
10. Yo La Tengo - Sometimes I Don't Get You

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The child who did not grow up to be a comedian, or at least not a good one

Q::  Knock-knock.
A: Who's there?
Q: Orange you glad I didn't say banana?
A: (pause) What?
Q: Crap.  Let me come in again.

Will be back to blogging again soon.  Didn't want the url to get cold.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Some stuff

Sort of a little bit messed my knee up today.  The immediate cause was shifting around on a crowded bus, but I think it was primed to get hurt.  Anyway, I was glad I had a jar of Mineral Ice at home.  That stuff is quite effective on these little annoying aches and pains.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Anatomical Saturday Random Ten

This evening I was reading a book* that mentioned somebody losing his leg above the knee in a war.  It occurred to me that this would be kind of a cool thing: that is, losing your leg above the knee but keeping your leg below the knee.  You'd sort of be hovering above your shin, which goes everywere you go, pretty much.  Of course this misunderstanding only lasted a fraction of a second, but it was amusing in a way that I'd probably be wise not to share.

1. Pink Martini featuring Phyllis Diller** - Smile
2. The Bird and the Bee - Meteor
3. Talk Talk - I Believe in You
4. Gogol Bordello - Not a Crime
5. Yo La Tengo - I Should Have Known Better
6. Jimmy Smith - Little Girl Blue
7. Rasputina - Clipped
8. Metric - Breathing Underwater
9. Taj Mahal - Oh Susanna
10. The New Pornographers - Valkyrie in the Roller Disco

* Life: A User's Manual by Georges Perec, which is sort of a novel and sort of not
** !

Friday, November 8, 2013

If seen

Approach the letter D with extreme caution.

The Alphabet 2 from n9ve on Vimeo.

Forgot to include, well, anything before. Saturday Random Ten is coming up.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


At the time people thought I had deliberately chosen a bad example of Matisse's work out of malice. This is quite untrue. I thought it was a key picture then and still do. Critics are always talking about this and that influence on Matisse's work. Well, the influence on Matisse when he painted this work was his children, who had just started to draw. Their naive drawings fascinated him and completely changed his style. Nobody realizes this, and yet it's one of the keys to Matisse.

Pablo Picasso

One of the books I'm reading now is Jonathan Fineberg's the Innocent Eye: Children's Art and the Modern Artist. It's got some great pictures and some illuminating new detail on how artists have learned from children, their own and others. Matisse, as mentioned above, was one. Fauvism, of which he was the grandaddy, had a lot to do with going color happy in a childlike way. And in the early 20th century Kandinsky and his then-girlfriend Gabriele Munter had a gallery where they actually exhibited children's paintings and drawings, alongside their own and their friends'. (This was before most people had refridgerators, as such.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Over the past couple of years I've started to suspect that my eyesight might be suffering a little.  Not too bad but enough so that I might need a little help.  So recently when my work changed to a new health provider and I found out I could sign up for a plan that gave me basically the same coverage for less, I decided to use the savings to sign up for vision care.  Haven't seen an optometrist yet, or for that matter picked one out, but I decided to look up eyeglasses online just to prep.  Now I see glasses ads on all sorts of pages. 

So you never know.  Well, someone does.

PS I have no idea why this post has the header "Ma."  Thought I picked something else, but the URL would always be the same even if I did a header change, so whatever.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The hot new sounds of the Friday Random Ten

A little while ago I started noticing that late at night I would hear random metal clanks.  A little distressing in that when you're trying to get to sleep it doesn't help when you start wondering who or what is... hitting things with a lead pipe?  Dragging bicycle parts?  The list could go on and on.  But eventually I realized that there was a platform outside my window made of metal bars.  I think it's for plants.  It wouldn't make much of a fire escape because it doesn't lead anywhere.  But anyway trees also grow near it, and when it's windy their branches hit it.  Once I figured that out it didn't bother me anymore.  Context helps.

1. Nellie McKay - There You Are In Me
2. Dinah Washington - My Ideal
3. The New Pornographers - Your Hands (Together)
4. Pink Martini - What'll I do
5. Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - My Pink Half of the Drainpipe
6. Beck - Rental Car
7. Squirrel Nut Zippers - Bad Businessman
8. The White Stripes - Astro
9. They Might Be Giants - Replicant
10. Metric - Lost Kitten