Friday, January 31, 2014


Hi y'sll. I've been hit with a little cold here. That means I am appreciating Alka Seltzer Plus. Watch out for the nighttime stuff, though. It will put you out faster than you think. NOT A JOKE! I started this blog post on Thursday night, passed out, and came back to it on Friday night not certain of if I had posted it - I hadn't - or if I was still in Blogger - I was. Anyway I'll be able to sleep longer on Saturday morning, which should fix me up some.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A tale of two Petes

I'm not calling it "a tale of two Peters," for obvious reasons.

Yes, on balance, I approve of Peter Capaldi's look as the Doctor. It's simple, makes a statement. Most Doctor Who costumes have been somewhat rumpled, Tom Baker's certainly being no exception. And that's fine, rumpled is a way of life for me. But sometimes going in a different direction for contrast is good, and this does that.

There's a good chance that there will be a female Doctor in the next few years. It's actually established on the show now that Time Lords can change sex in regeneration. More importantly, the show's worldwide popularity means that it can risk alienating some of the dead-enders. So what would or should a lady Doctor look like? To start with, the character is consistently brilliant and eccentric. And here's the thing. It's not really eccentric, not in society as it stands now, for a woman to dress in mildly outlandish clothes. What is eccentric for a woman - and I repeat, I'm talking about social convention, not biological instinct - to not spend much time on her appearance. So if a woman were cast as the Doctor, a low maintenance look would probably be best

As for the other Pete, well, play us out, Mr. Seeger.

Monday, January 27, 2014

What would have gone here is not here

I realize this might look like another excuse post, but...  I did intend to blog about something tonight.  I got caught up in what I was reading, which may be worth a post in and of itself.  Time went by, couldn't think of the right tone for what I'd planned to blog about.  Eventually the whole thing started to seem unnecessary.  (Not the whole blog.  That's not going anywhere.)

Chalk it up to research for a later thing.  As far as what I would have written here goes, you're not actually missing much.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saturday Random Ten Saturday Random Ten

The place where I had breakfast I sat next to a family of four.  Nice parents.  As it happens, the waitress was/is expecting.  The mother offered her some baby stuff like a crib bed while they were on the way out.  Gotta figure they have some extra items since they have fraternal twins.  Both girls, both blondes, but you can tell they're not identical.  Nobody has twins more than once, do they?  I guess somebody must have, but you'd have to be really, really Catholic.

1. The Fiery -Furnaces: Staring at the Steeple
2. Amy Winehouse - I Heard Love Is Blind
3. Pink Martini - Până când nu te iubeam
4. Metric - Breathing Underwater
5. Scissor Sisters - Return to Oz
6. Lambert - Hendricks and Ross: Gimme That Wine
7. Beck - Go It Alone
8. They Migh - Be Giants: Canajoharie
9. Mose Allison - One of These Days
10. R.E.M. - Talk About the Passion

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Something or other

Was at a coffee shop and I opened Word to see what I was writing and maybe add to it.  Went totally blank.  Actually, that's not true.  It wasn't blankness, it was incoherence.  Possibly caused by being in a cold corner on a cold day.  Well, at any rate, I don't want to make excuses.  Eventually I left.  If I'd let that be the end of it, I'd have to chalk that up as a setback, which would in itself be a setback.  When I got home I was able to come up with something, which is better than nothing. 

Or is it?

Looks like another Saturday Random Ten this week.  iTunes is giving me attitude after the apparently failed downoad/install.  I'll have to jiggle the handle or whatever tomorrow.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Serious Musician

Today: Martin Luther King Day.  Like a lot of people, I had the day off.  This allowed me to schedule an earlier appointment for a cleaning at my dentist's office.  Which left a little time afterwards.

I wound up seeing Inside Llewyn Davis.  It continues a trend I hadn't really thought of until today, as far as the Coen Brothers go.  While you might expect filmmakers entering a mature phase to do more crowdpleasing movies, as the tendency is, they've sort of been going in the other direction.  The films they've made in teh 21st century have by and large been bleak, with sympathetic characters falling into awful fates.

Some might quibble about how sympathetic Llewyn Davis is.  The character is, by the way, modeled on Dave Van Ronk, probably a little looser than Barton Fink was on Clifford Odets.  He's snotty for the most part, inappropriate at times.  But I found it hard not to feel for him.  His dilemma is an acute one, in that he can't make a living doing what he loves.  He can't see a way out of it, either.

The movie does have excellent music, of course, much of it sung and played by the cast.  It also features the return of John Goodman to the Coen fold.  His character - a burnt out junkie jazz musician - is undeniably an asshole, and just as undeniably has style.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Midwinter Saturday Random Ten

It got to a point where I had to replace the winter coat I'd had for a few years. When the snap fasteners start to fall off, that's a sign.  So I picked up a new (to me) one today.  Lots of pockets, which is nice.

While I was writing - largely editing - in Starbucks I met a friend.  He still recognized me.

1. Scissor Sisters - Lovers in the Backseat
2. Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross - Mr. P.C.
3. Beck - Girl
4. Radiohead - Packt Like Sardines In a Crushd Tin Box
5. Morphine - Buena
6. Joni Mitchell - Hejira
7. Mose Allison - Swinging Machine
8. Any Winehouse - Amy, Amy, Amy
9. Ladytron - Sugar
10. Fiery Furnaces - Cut the Cake

Thursday, January 16, 2014

General thought

It seems to me that a worthy goal in starting out each day is to make someone else's day a little better. Yeah, "a little." "A lot" makes you sound messianic. It sounds fairly unambitious, but it's not like it's easy. I really don't know how often I manage to fulfill such a goal.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Have it your way

It's interesting, or it least it can be interesting, to compare how two different artists approach the same song. Bromberg's never been a rock star, but he does do a kind of rock 'n' roll take on the Bessie Smith standard. Washington is more laid back, tailoring the song for Eisenhower era sophisticates. Of course no matter how you slice it, the song is still a jilted lover's gleeful confession of murder and begging to be executed. They both honor that fact, as it were.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Garden club

This is the poem I talked about before.  It's from a library book that I returned on Saturday.  This could have presented a dilemma.  There's probably a website I could have copied it from and pasted it here, but that never feels right.  So I wrote the words down in ballpoint on a newspaper before I dropped the book in the return slot.  Transcribing it that way gave me a new appreciation of how the poem - about three gardeners important in the early life of poet Theodore Roethke - isn't just sweet.  It's also trippy as hell.  Someone besides me might be able to name a substance that has both those qualities.

Frau Bauman, Frau Schmidt, and Frau Schwartze

Gone the three ancient ladies
Who creaked on the greenhouse ladders
Reaching up white strings
To wind, to wind
The sweet-pea tendrils, the smilax,
Nasturtiums, the climbing
Roses, to straighten
Carnations, red
Chrysanthemums; the stiff
Stems, jointed like corn,
They tied and tucked
These nurses of nobody else.
Quicker than birds, they dipped
Up and sifted the dirt;
They sprinkled and shook;
They stood astride pipes;
Their skirts billowing out wide into tents,
Their hands twinkling with wet;
Like witches they flew along rows
Keeping creation at ease;
With a tendril for needle
They sewed up the air with a stem;
They teased out the seed that the cold kept asleep,—
All the coils, loops, and whorls
They trellised the sun, they plotted for more than themselves.

I remember how they picked me up, a spindly kid,
Pinching and poking my thin ribs
Till I lay in their laps, laughing,
Weak as a whiffet;
Now, when I'm alone and cold in my bed,
They still hover over me,
These ancient leathery crones,
With their bandannas stiffened with sweat,
And their thorn-bitten wrists,
And their snuff-laden breath blowing lightly over me in my first sleep.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dated Friday Random Ten

I had a heavy headache this morning.  Which is strange, because I rarely get headaches on days when I have to go into work.  Actually it wasn't that heavy, but it felt like it wouldn't go away on its own.  Luckily a lady I work with helped me out.  She's good people.

Tonight I went calendar shopping.  You can get a little bit of a deal, of course, if you wait until after New Year.  You might get an even better deal if you wait until March but it would seem to be slim pickings at that point.

Anyway I got a steampunk wall calendar.  Do I read much steampunk?  Well, I'm selective about it.  A lot of it falls into the same trap as a lot of science fiction and fantasy works, especially those published as part of a series, which is that the story's world can't exist without convoluted explanations.  But I like the look of it, and this is a nice looking calendar.

1. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings - Be Easy
2. They Might Be Giants - You Don't Like Me
3. Nellie McKay - Pink Chandelier
4. Rasputina - Crosswalk
5. The Bird and the Bee - Meteor
6. Dinah Washington & Brook Benton - Baby, You've Got What It Takes
7. Joni Mitchell - Refuge of the Road
8. Gogol Bordello - Avenue B
9. Imperial Teen - No Matter What You Say
10. Taj Mahal - Take a Giant Step

Thursday, January 9, 2014

What is and what should never be, plus some stuff that should be

I was about to start posting a poem.  Not one I'd written, sadly (or not.)  One that I liked, though.  It's kind of late in the night, though.  I stayed up late somewhat intentionally to make sure I wasn't having another acid reflux night, which I don't seem to be, which is a relief.  Can't push it too far, though, if I don't want to be late for work tomorrow.

So we'll see about that poem later on.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Creepy Hollywood

Tell-All is the third book novel I've read by Chuck Palahniuk, and the first in a while.  It's about a caretaker - for lack of a better word - of an aging Hollywood star who takes a distrust and dislike to a handsome man who romances said star.  For good reason, it turns out.

Well that's sort of what it's about.  This is a weird, hallucinatory book.  In subject matter it's as dark as the previous novels I've read by him, and probably moreso than Diary.  But it's more brightly colored, bitchier.  That last word sounds a little stereotype-y, I know, but I can't really see a straight author writing this book.

So it's all Palahniuk, while different from his previous stuff.  And everyone else's.  I'm having a pretty good time with it.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Play misty

Just looked out the window.  I mean really looked out the window, man.  It's been raining off and on since this afternoon.  That means tomorrow morning it could be sloppy, or it could be slippery.  The fog that comes with it, though, is pretty nice.  Hence the window.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Snowed-in Friday Random Ten

Well, there you have it.  We had the start of a snowstorm yesterday.  Said storm intensified overnight.  The result is that a lot of places closed early yesterday/last night, partly because of parking bans.  They were slow to open today, and some places never did.  (I know the library was closed all day today, so I made sure to make a reserved pickup before they closed yesterday.)  Today was a day off from work, which was closed.  I would have gone in otherwise, but, well, there's no fighting it.  The snow day did give me a chance to take note of the weird headline in the link.

1. Jimmy Smith - Mood Indigo
2. Jimi Hendrix Experience - I Don't Live Today
3. Lou Rawls - Lady Love
4. They Might Be Giants - You Probably Get That a Lot
5. Beck - Que Onda Guero
6. Pink Martini - Omide Zendegani
7. Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - We Are Normal
8. New Pornographers - We End Up Together
9. Imperial Teen - Hanging About
10. The Fiery Furnaces - Lost at Sea

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Of the ancient world

I do occasional surveys of children's literature.  Which is to say I read it now and again, even though I am nominally an adult.  As someone who writes, I want to read broadly, not just in the expected areas.  Also there's some stuff I like, nice surprises.

Recenttly I read Rosemary Harris' The Moon in the Cloud, which is something of a twice-told tale based on the story of Noah from Genesis.  I liked the talking animals.  Yes, it's the kind of book with talking animals.  And Harris makes a clever turn at the end.

Had to wonder, though.  The bad guy in the book is Noah's son Ham.  He comes off way too vile to be a Disney villain.  And Ham is the son whose offspring were supposed to have settled Africa and the adjacent parts of Asia.  Is there some agenda here?  Maybe an attempt to justify ultra-hawkish policies in the Middle East?  It sounds far-fetched, but Ancient Egypt is presented as barbaric and cruel, mostly.  Which it was, mostly, but so was the ancient world as a whole.  Also the Kingdom of Egypt is presented as existing in the form we think of it before the Flood, which is explained away realistically because the Flood was more local than the legend says.

So I'm not sure if my tentative political reading is fair.  Part of the reason it is tentative is that I'm leery of politicizing art prematurely, which can block out other readings.  I do wonder, though, if Ham has been getting a bad rap all these years.