Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Man, how about this?

It'll blow over, I'm sure. Just about every worm has eventually been brought down. Still, Microsoft legendarily always has hackers gunning for it. Often these are former employees and contractors. Maybe they shou

Monday, April 28, 2014

Disappearing acts

This song here and the looped pictures - to be fair, the person who uploaded the song was under no obligation to offer any kind of slideshow - illustrate two ways in which things may be lost.

First is the presence of the song itself.  When I was a lot younger and the world was a minuscule bit younger, I remember this song being something of a standby for oldies radio.  Now oldies stations stay away from this kind of Eisenhower-era not-quite-rock 'n' roll material.  It's familiar in that it's a bunch of white people taking cues from black music, but the particular mode doesn't have any purchanse in popular culture as it is now.

The pictures also show a relatively unpolished image that's very much of its time and not ours.  Yes, the Skyliners do class it up in these pictures with rented suits and cocktail dresses.  Still, besides being - educated guess here - quite short, they look rough, maybe just having clocked off from their day jobs.  TV in all its mutating forms has changed the way music is packaged.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Plumb crazy Saturday Random Ten

More struggles with the bathtub.  It really doesn't want to drain at all.  By the time this is over the tub and I will be mortal enemies or the closest of friends.

1. Arcade Fire - Porno
2. Patsy Cline - Crazy
3. Dirty Projectors - Cannibal Resource
4. They Might Be Giants - The Lady and the Tiger
5. Chic - Rebels Are We
6. Brian Eno - Sky Saw
7. Amy Winehouse - Take the Box
8. Dinah Washington - Teach Me Tonight
9. Mose Allison - Just Like Livin'
10. Beck - Heart is a Drum

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Teachable moments

There's a good article here here about liberal opposition to common core, worthwhile not least because of its own links.  Common core is currently best known as a bete noire of the right, including politicians like Bobby Jindal who were all for it until five minutes ago.  Arne Duncan, CC proponent and the current Education Secretary, is certainly a deserving target, put there by Obama.  Hillary Clinton, from everything we know about the Clintons' associations, would almost certainly have appointed Duncan or someone indistinguishable as well.  And a Republican presidnet might have given us a Secretary Michelle Rhee, a hair-raising prospect.  So it's not really a partisan issue, and a non-depressing political outcome is unlikely in the short term.  There needs to be grassroots resistance, which luckily has started to arrive.

My own opposition is rooted in the time I spent taking the preliminary classes for teacher education back in the nineties.  While I didn't go on to the profession myself, I got to know a lot of other people who were preparing to become teachers.  They were a varied group, some very inspiring, some very much not.  But the best, it seemed to me, were the ones who best knew their own rhythms, and thus would be most resistant to rules set down by a far-away technocrat.  I have friends who do teach now, and I think time has borne me out.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Chowing down

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That's what I got by running one of my old posts through the generator on this page.  The entire results can be read here.  So if you read that page and think it makes sense, it might be a good time to go to bed. Which I'm doing about now, but I'll be back.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

I'm not proud

The woman in this video has a good voice for teaching children.  Even for them, though, I'm not sure "how to make shadow puppets with your hands" is a necessary distinction.  Trying to make them with your feet won't get you very far.

(And if a guy offers to make an elephant appear while reaching for his zipper, that's a good cue to leave.)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Holy Mole-y Friday Random Ten

Finished reading Railsea tonight.  It's the second China Mieville book I've read.  It's got a fascinating premise, in which railrad tracks are treated as an umpredictable part of nature, like the sea.  For reasons that are sort of clever, the word "and" has entirely been supplanted by the ampersand ("&").  Somhow Mieville resists the temptation for cute puns like "s&wich".

Couple more things to say (it's Saturday afternoon now) about the book.  First, Mieville's left wing politics are fairly well known.  A lot of authors - some would say all of them - mix their political viewpoints into their work.  There are wide variations of skill in doing this.  Mieville is working at a pretty high level.  The book's concluding chapters, which reveal why his world is the way it is, do contain a sharp critique of rentier capitalism.  It's not a reductive political book, though.

Also, Mieville references and has fun with a number of well-known maritime novels, including the work of Herman Melville, who it's easy to think Mieville is related to if you read both names in a hurry.  Melville's Moby Dick has become recognized as a classic, but it was a commercial catastrophe when first published.  MD was a very strange book, for our time or its own.  So I'm happy to see that some authors like Mieville have been able to make their weirdness work for them in a career sense.

1. Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - Beautiful Zelda
2. Laurie Anderson - Sweaters
3. Arcade Fire - It's Never Over (Oh Eurydice)
4. The Fiery Furnaces - Keep Me in the Dark
5. Reading Rainbow - Wasting Time
6. Beck - Turn Away
7. Lambert, Hendricks & Ross - Summertime
8. Elvis Costello & the Attractions - New Lace Sleeves
9. Jimmy Smith - Memories of You
10. Dirty Projectors - Useful Chamber

Thursday, April 17, 2014

History gag (I'm optimistically putting the "funny" label on this one)

Nostradamus walks into a bar.  The bartender asks, "What'll it be?"  Nostradamus says, "Pull up a chair, Phil.  This could take a while."

Monday, April 14, 2014

The big glitch

Wow.  I spent a big part of this evening at a certain Starbucks trying to write or to do something, anything at all.  Somehow the wi-fi in this place is so bad that it sabotages the functions on your computer that theoretically have nothing to do with going online.

On the bright side, the impossibility of getting anything done made me get up and leave, walkng downhill to wait for the bus at the tunnel.  Which got me looking at the sky during and just after sunset.  I'd consider that a silver lining.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

S'urreal, s'alright

Okay, from the library I've got something of a doorstopper book on surrealism.  It's got a notable quote from Andre Breton, via his "Lachet Tout!" essay, translated as "Leave Everything!"

Leave everything.  Leave Dada.  Leave your wife.  Leave your mistress.  Leave your hopes and fears.  Leave your children in the woods.  Leave the substance for the shadow.  Leave your easy life, leave what you are given for the future.  Set off on the roads.

Salvador Dali, Two Elephants

First of all, gotta love the supposition that the reader will have to leave both his wife and his mistress.  Presenting France, where adultery is customary, much like tipping.

Also noted is how the further Breton goes on, the more he echoes Christ talking to his Apostles.  Talk about stealing from the best!

Kay Sage, No Passing

Surrealist techniques are a mixed bag, but as such they command attention.  If the point is to shut down the rational mind, that doesn't quite work for me, not in my own process.  I work best when I get both halves of my brain in on the action.  Still, in a group setting, this can be potent stuff.  The exquisite corpse is a very interesting technique.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Baby'd Friday Random Ten

So a baby shower isn't just drinking hot water when you're pregant?  My bad.

There was a baby shower for one of the girls at work today.  A quite well-catered one too.  Me and the guy I work with* were invited to stop by.  Not too surprisingly there weren't a lot of guys there.  One reason this isn't all that suprising is that it's a majority female workplace.  Which is interesting to think about.  Not many men worked in high-female environments fifty years ago, except in movie musicals.

1. The Cramps - The Crusher
2. R.E.M. - Kahoutek
3. Laurie Anderson - Big Science
4. Elvis Costello & the Attractions - Strict Time
5. Beck - Blue Moon
6. The Clash - Remote Control
7. Zapolski Quartet - Allegretto Pastorale (Nielsen)
8. Fiery Furnaces - Take Me Round Again
9. Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Powderfinger
10. Lambert, Hendricks & Ross - Bijou

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Shorter Alex Beam: "The worst thing about the Iraq War was it gave Errol Morris a big head." (Yeah, shorters are short. I'm hoping to have a longer, interesting go-along on the FR10.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Today I was gathering my stuff together, gerring ready to go out and catch a bus to the laundromat when all of a sudden the phone rang.  Caller ID said it was "wireless caller" and displayed a number I didn't know.  When I answered a woman with a heavy foreign accent asked if Benjamin ______* was there.  I said "This is he."  She said that she was his mother.  Well, to that I replied, "I know my mother's voice, and this ain't it."  Well, then she asked if my middle name were Isaac, which it was not and is not.  So I wasn't who she was looking for.  She then asked what the other towns in Rhode Island were.  Well, we're a small state, but we have enough towns so that listing them all would be as time consuming as it is pointless.  When she asked what the nearest one was I said maybe East Providence, although from where I am it's probably Pawtucket, but neither of these things seemed all that helpful.  Finally she asked what my company was, which just left me all, "Company?  What the—?

Also, there's apparently a comic out now where the Riverdale gang are zombies, or getting eaten by zombies, and it's actually published by Archie Comics.  It's official.  Reality is trolling me.

* Keeping a little anonymity here.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Saturday Random Ten withchild

It's probably bad form to ask a woman when she's due when she's already had the baby, in general.  Which I did to day, with the waitress serving me breakfast.  In fact I had noticed that her baby bump was either gone or ominously shrinking.  After she told me I was a little tongue tied, but I told her the truth, which was just that I would have expected to take at least a couple of weeks for maternity leave.  She replied that she was just out for a couple of days and then got back into the swing of things.

So I think I rescued myself okay.  I suspect her benefits aren't that great, though.

1. Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - Death Cab for Cutie
2. Nellie McKay - Long and Lazy River
3. The Bird and the Bee - Diamond Dave
4. New Pornographers - If You Can't See My Mirror
5. Lambert, Hendricks and Ross - Farmer's Market
6. Pink Martini - Omide Zendegani
7. Elvis Costello & the Attractions - Pretty Words
8. Morphine - I'm Free Now
9. They Might Be Giants - Never Knew Love
10. Mose Allison - Fool's Paradise

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fiscal follies

Near the end of the week I tried to use my ATM card to make a withdrawal and I couldn't.  Why?  Because it was expired.  So I should have gotten a new one.  I called the bank to ask what was up and they said they'd sent it in February.  Ah, but they sent it to my old address.  Which is frustrating, because I updated my address with them, and they had it on file, but not as my residence.  Which makes me wonder what they thought I was telling them.  Of course there's been another takeover recently, so maybe they were just really excited about that and couldn't concentrate.  Any way, it adds up to a few days' inconvenience and a lot of head-scratching.

Saturday Random Ten tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

For your sweet tooth

Hansel & Gretel from Fotini on Vimeo.

From the description on Vimeo, this is a student short. I'd say the student is doing really well. The names of the people involved with the project are all Greek, so I guess the narration is Greek, or at least that's the most likely thing per Occam's razor. All the zh sounds made me think it was Portuguese.

The story and the art make a quantum leap when the witch shows up. That's the thing about her. She may be presented more or less sympathetically, but she's always a compelling character.