Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Brain picking

One of the books I'm juggling now is Neurodiversity by Thomas Armstrong. Armstrong argues that what we see as mood disorders, learning disorders, etc, aren't deficiencies and deficiencies only. They are, in many cases, adaptations from humanity's past, and about anything we consider mental illness is actually honored in one culture or another.

It's a book for the general market, so not surprisingly there are a fair number of celebrity portraits. Not to the extent of namedropping for namedropping's sake, I don't think. And Armstrong, being a depressive by his own account, has some personal insight too.

A lot of creative people, past and present, have been depressives. It's almost de rigueur for comedians, which might be what's kept me out of standup. If I'm neuro-atypical--and the evidence is pretty strong--my tendencies would be more along the lines of autism/Asperger's. Don't have high ambitions to be a tech innovator, though.

Monday, June 29, 2015

A painful lesson

I just changed the blade on my razor. It got me to thinking about a time, now years ago, when I learned that if you see something like a hair stuck in a double or triple blade, you free it by banging it against the sink/tub. If that doesn't work, you forget about it. Do not try to solve the problem with your fingertip.

Somehow evolution didn't program me with this knowledge.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Hi-flying Saturday Random Ten

When the PBS Art:21 documentaries are released on DVD I make a point of checking them out of the library. I'm interested in the way various artists approach their practice. What are their particular preoccupations and how does that affect what they do?

This is from a profile of Trevor Paglen, an artist/photographer from Chicago who works out west. Actually this portion wasn't on the DVD so probably didn't air, either. But his work is interesting because he tracks things going into space, the defense technologies that monitor us and everyone else. Topical stuff, but my interest is more aesthetic than political. Assuming there's a difference.

Anyway, the Random Ten.

1. Fitz & the Tantrums - Fool's Gold
2. Amy Winehouse - You Sent Me Flying
3. The Beatles - Drive My Car
4. Lambert, Hendricks & Ross - Mr. PC
5. The Ramones - Makin' Monsters for My Friends
6. The Kinks - David Watts
7. St. Vincent - I Prefer Your Love
8. Lower Dens - I Am the Earth
9. David Bowie - Soul Love
10. Kendra Shank - L'Amour Est Bien Fort Que Nous

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Feet first

I was chatting with a guy on the bus, friendly acquaintance so we usually at least say a few words to each other when we meet. Anyway, I look down and see that we're wearing the same exact make and model of shoe. Got them at the same place, of course, and I think for the same discount.

From what he says he wears out shoes a lot faster than I do. Then again my definition of "worn out" for sneakers is "levitating over the sidewalk on a thin network of rubber."

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The sky is falling

I went to the Starbucks in the Biltmore Hotel in Providence this evening. When I got there a big part of the store was roped off with police tape because part of the ceiling had fallen in. Investigators from the fire department were poking around. When the action died down I hoped to ask the employees what exactly had happened/how it had happened. But it was not to be, because more FD people piled in and then they wanted to evacuate the building. So I had to leave just a few minutes after coming in.

I've been checking Google news to see if there have been any stories about it. Nada so far. As I've hinted before there just aren't enough sources nowadays for local stories, or any stories outside of a certain band of what are held to be common interests. In the information age a lot of information just dissipates.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Two friends at play

Oddly enough I can't remember hearing much of Frank playing acoustic. But these two certainly seem to be in sync here, for lack of the better word I suspect we need.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Needed Friday Random Ten

What can I say? It's depressing that The Onion had occasion to run this story, but I'm glad they did.

1. Kendra Shank - Moves
2. Irma Thomas - Time Is On My Side
3. The Kinks - Funny Face
4. The Ramones - Teenage Lobotomy
5. Yo La Tengo - Point and Shoot
6. Beth Custer/Joe Goode Performance Group - Throw Stones At a Can
7. Broadcast - I Found the F
8. St. Vincent - Psychopath
9. Roxy Music - Grey Lagoons
10. Sarah Vaughan - Midnight Sun

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Jonson time

Lady T: You are sharp, sir.
This act may make him honest.
Man: If he were
To be made honest by an act of Parliament,
I should not alter in my faith of him.

From The Devil Is an Ass. Sadly overlooked passive aggressive wit.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Teachable moments (and others)

Okay, about that move...

Let me preface this by saying that I both respect and sympathize with teachers. It's a tough job, and a necessary one, and one whose members don't get enough respect. There should be space for both the teachers and students to play, because that's a part of learning. Over the last fifteen years - really I think the trend started even earlier, but it's gathered steam more recently - education has been a dog wagged by the tail of test prep consultants.

So sitting down to watch Tony Kaye's Detachment I was pretty much in sympathy with what it had to say, to the extent it had anything to say. That's where the trouble begins.

In the film, Henry Barthes is a substitute teacher who's never taken a permanent job with a school because he fears becoming too involved. Barthes is played by Adrien Brody, an actor who always looks like he's manning a suicide hotline after at least sixteen hours nailed to a cross. That turns out to be close to what he's actually doing here, so good choice, I guess. When a student in Henry's class frustrates his attempt to even do basic work in class and throws his messenger bag at the wall, Henry tells him that neither he nor the bag have any feelings to hurt. You can probably guess how long this stoicism lasts.

On the bus home one night he sees a teen prostitute blowing an old guy who then hits her instead of paying her. She latches onto him and, because there'd be no movie otherwise, he invites her to live in his studio apartment. The obvious pitfall to this arrangement is that he'll be mistaken for her pimp, her father, or her creepy boyfriend. Over the course of the film he winds up hitting the trifecta.

This is a movie that prides itself on not being feel-good, not pandering like say Dangerous Minds or Lean on Me. These are indeed mostly unserious movies that suck, but the pride leads Kaye way off course. Detachment isn't really serious about its subject either. It just wants to beat you over the head. The commitment to grime is bracing at first. Then it gets ridiculous. (The scene where Lucy Liu as guidance counselor unloads on an F student as "a shallow disgusting creature" feels like it was made for drag competitions.) After a while you realize you've been subjected to ninety minutes of wall-to-wall tears and screaming and you just wait for it to end.

It doesn't help that the acting profession tends to weed out restrained people before they can get started. Tell actors that you want them to chew the scenery and they'll have their knives and forks out already. So what we get here is everybody freaking out at once as part of Kaye's attempt to mash allC the buttons. Christina Hendricks, as a long-suffering math teacher, is a noble exception. She seems to float above the mess, as if she's the only person who can remember there are other things. This, and not the Eisenhower-era hotness that made her a star on Mad Men might turn out to be her greatest asset.

Also James Caan gets to tell some jokes, but I'm pretty sure that's because he's high through the whole thing. His character, that is. Hell, maybe him, too.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Unofficially summer but really summer Saturday Random Ten

Yes it's the heat and yet it's the humidity. It's the kind of weather where you learn just how salty you are.

Another movie post coming pretty soon. I'm not promising the movie's good mind you. Just that I'll have something to say about it.

1. Finn Riggins - Icy Sparks
2. Sarah Vaughan - What Kind of Fool Am I?
3. Les Baxter - The Shrike
4. The Beatles - Think for Yourself
5. Beth Custer - You Are Song
6. Broadcast - You and Me In Time
7, The Ramones - Beat on the Brat
8. Magnetic Fields - The Trouble I've Been Looking For
9. Morphine - Scratch
10. The Kinks - Love Me Till the Sun Shines

Thursday, June 11, 2015


What can I say? Pretty damn cool.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Shedding a little subject on the light

My apartment has a ceiling fan in the living room. The fan has a light in the center, as I think most of them do. Well, a few weeks ago I replaced the bulb. I guess when I put the cover back on it wasn't very secure, because when I came home a few days later the cover had fallen and shattered.

Well, I just got around to fixing it. It's a "prismatic" glass globe, clear but with ridges running down the side. Especially with a clear bulb it makes these incredible rays on the wall, kind of like a transparent curtain. It feels like Mr. Spock is going to walk in any moment playing a Vulcan lute.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

I'm fascinated by that wall, too

Okay, this isn't a really substantial post, at least not in terms of contributions for me. Mainly I felt a need to share this video because that drummer is REALLY enjoying his work.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Blown out Friday Random Ten

Quentin Dupieux's Rubber stands out in both its ambition and its lack of ambition. It's not a demo, a way for him to keep busy until the director moves onto bigger and better things, whether those things are big franchise movies or chasing an Oscar. Whatever Dupieux wants to accomplish he's going to try his damnedest to do in this chees-looking low-budget indie horror comedy.

The plot? Oh, usual kind of thing. A tire comes to life and--I suppose due to lack of guidance--just starts killing people and animals. There's a sheriff on the case, but he doesn't take it very seriously because he knows he's in a movie, although he later learns that he might not be. But there is an audience, a group of spectators who stand and watch in the desert. Well, the first half anyway.

So have you seen another movie like this? Probably not lately you haven't.

1. Mose Allison - Strange
2. Les Baxter - I Concentrate On You
3. The Magnetic Fields - Strange Powers
4. Morphine - Honey White
5. Roxy Music - Do the Strand
6. Nellie McKay - Suitcase Song
7. The Ramones - Commando
8. The Who - Mary Anne With the Shaky Hands
9. Lower Dens - Ondine
10. Beth Custer - Marit & Wayne Duet

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Hello out there

I'm just about to catch a few hours of sleep before going to work tomorrow. My mind is going in a bunch of different directions at once, which often happens. Luckily, it's not going too fast, so I think I should be able to get some shuteye.

So, how's it with you?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The little sister

Huh. Well a few weeks ago I read James Morrow's Towing Jehovah and sort of raved about it here. (Too lazy to do the self-linking thing right now.) My prize commenter said she liked Only Begotten Daugher better. And damn, I can see why now. Yes, I can definitely see. Certainly "Andrew Wyvern" is a great alias for the devil. A little less on-the-nose than "Louis Cyphre".

Also, I may never look at sponges the same way again.