Friday, July 31, 2015

Shadowy Friday Random Ten (sorry)

Tonight I watched Shadows. It's the first film directed by John Cassavetes. The all-improvised nature of the movie may have given it a few longueurs, as even at under an hour and a half it drags in some places. On the other hand the jazz score is very evocative, and some scenes are pretty compelling. Biggest treat for me is seeing Tom Reese - Sgt Velie on the ol' Ellery Queen series - as a sort of philosophical hoodlum.

1. Finn Riggins - Furs
2. Les Baxter - The Shrike
3. Nat King Cole - Too Young
4. David Bowie - Rock 'n' Roll Suicide
5. Beth Custer - Happy Dance
6, The Beatles - Girl
7. Lower Dens - To Die in L.A.
8. Sun Ra - New Day
9. Roxy Music - Beauty Queen
10. Kendra Shank - You and the Night and the Music

Thursday, July 30, 2015


There was a quick blackout earlier tonight. All the lights and everything else electric went off and spent a few seconds out before returning. It was a blinand-you'll-miss-it affair.

Still unsettling, though. For a few seconds it felt like an angry mob might come running through the streets. And me without a thing to wear.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Emperorical evidence

I'm reading a book now about Joshua A. Norton also known as Emperor Norton I, whom I've found an interesting subject for awhile. First encountered him as a character in an issue of Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics and wasn't sure if he was real at first.

He was, although he got fictionalized quite a bit, serving as the model for the Dauphin in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. English by birth, Jewish by extraction, and raised largely in South Africa, he was for a time a successful businessman in San Francisco. Then, to cut a long story short, he wasn't. It was after he lost all his money that he started embracing his entirely (but not to him) unofficial role as Emperor of the United States and issuing his proclamations. Some of these are silly and/or obnoxious, but some were prescient. He seems to have been a little ahead of the curve on slavery. This is the time when Twain got to know about him, as a writer for the Chronicle.

How important is delusion to keeping up your morale. Eliot said "Go go go said the bird/Humankind cannot bear very much reality." Norton certainly didn't seem very capable of bearing his.  But how many of have room to criticize?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Comedy! Sweaters

Joe Pera Stand Up from Joe Pera on Vimeo.
From the Moonshine Show at the PIT Theatre, March 22, 2011.

I kind of like this guy's style. And the baldness/hat joke. There are a few comics who settle on a delivery that seems like it shouldn't work, but they make it work. Stephen Wright is famous for this, of course.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Diner's Friday/Saturday Random Ten

Apologies if you tried reading this when it was just an ellipsis. Or maybe that was a mindbending experience.

A few stories have garnered attention this past week, including this one. Which is a media kerfuffle on one hand, but on the other.

Neugebauer does seem to have become a folk hero for a couple of days, if mostly in her own mind. And you hear a lot of people complain about "if you can't control your kids, leave 'em home." Fine up to a point, but be reasonable about this, too. Families have to eat, and eating breakfast isn't something you need tomblike silence for. If the kid turns into an air raid siren while I'm at the next table, then yes, maybe they should take the kid out until it's over. There are courteous ways for management to say this. But that doesn't even seem to have been the case to begin with. Rather, it was the kind of low level fussing that would have just made me, as a customer, feel a little sorry for the parents.

1. David Bowie - Five Years
2. The Ramones - All's Quiet on the Eastern Front
3. Dave Van Ronk - Hang Me Oh Hang Me
4. Elvis Costello & the Attractions - You'll Never Be a Man
5. Nick Drake - At the Chime of a City Clock
6. St. Vincent - Bring Me Your Loves
7. Lower Dens - Suckers Shangri-La
8. Sun Ra - Where Is Tomorrow
9. Les Baxter - Calcutta
10. Kendra Shank - Angel Face

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Service advisory...

,,, as in, advising you that there's still service going on here. You know, loosely defined.

Once more, there's been stuff I've wanted to write about, but I get around to it too late, when energy is starting to flag.

Mmmm, flag.

Where was I?

Oh yes, more of a post coming up tomorrow, possibly mixed with FR10.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The hunger games

Overheard tonight in Downtown Providence:
"I can't cook, never cook. That's what my girl's for. I burn eggs."

For a while I've thought that men, because of more extended bachelorhoods, were learning skills like cooking, which might make marriage go smoother down the line. Perhaps I need to reassess.

For myself I can cook pasta with sauce made from scratch, rice. I can bake or mash potatoes. Probably more stuff given enough time/proper cookware.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Book 'em Saturday Random Ten

This past week I read PD James's Talking About Detective Fiction. An interesting topic for me, yes, and one she obviously cares about. The book has at least one strange blind spot, though. In writing about detective fiction from the Golden Age she focuses just about exclusively on Britain. Except for hardboiled authors like Hammett and Chandler, that is. But as for the great eccentric detectives she talks about Margery Allingham's Albert Campion and Edmund Crispin's Gervase Fen, but the name "Rex Stout" never comes up. Nor do the cousins who wrote together as Ellery Queen. Could name others, too. Even John Dickson Carr, a member of the Detection Club who based his British series detective Gideon Fell on CK Chesterton, only gets a one sentence blip in the final chapter.

This seems like an oversight because she analyzes the old fashioned detective story against the social backdrop of class-stratified Britain. Rightly, but the form also thrived in America, which has a less codified social structure, but perhaps more economic ruthlessness.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting enough to bring up. Now, of course, the music.

1. Nellie McKay - Respectable
2. The Beatles - Nowhere Man
3. Beth Custer - This Is Where I Am Now
4. Magnetic Fields - Swinging London
5. Lower Dens - Electric Current
6. Sarah Vaughan - What Kind of Fool Am I
7. St. Vincent - Bring Me Your Loves
8. The Ramones - Too Tough to Die
9. Fitz & the Tantrums - Fools Gold
10. Nat King Cole - Almost Like Being In Love

Thursday, July 16, 2015

je ne sais quoi

Sisyphe from Stephanie Towner on Vimeo.

I don't really speak French, so I can't say what the song is saying. (Could sort of guess.) The short film is pretty cool, though. I like how the figures show their papier-mache roots through the newsprint on their skin.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Beware of Greeks getting dicked

I can only say unfortunate, very unfortunate. Greece would be much better off returning to the drachma and handling their economy in a way that made sense to their people, instead of someone else's CPA.

The fact must be faced that the EU is an empire. And not that good an empire either. The Romans built roads and aqueducts. Central Europe will just tell you not to.

Opera house

Just started blogging in Opera. Just downloaded it in fact.

Thing was, I was using Torch for a bunch of things after Explorer got completely T-boned. It was all right for a while, then one of the plug-ins started crashing. Which brought up some kind of screwed up situation where the OS thought Torch was Chrome, and I couldn't update.

Anyway, Opera is handling pretty well. It's kind of weird that every new session you open up is a new tab instead of a new window, but I'm getting used to it.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


In the last couple of days I read this story from The Atlantic on the benefits of doodling. Now there's been at least one painter, Francis Bacon, whose whole artistic method was based on doodling, as Bacon didn't draw or do preparatory sketches for his paintings. The article isn't so much about artists, however, so much as people trying to brainstorm. Heller says that:
While drawing is definitely the artist’s stock and trade, everyone can make doodles, bypassing the kind of refinement demanded of the artist. Drawing, even in a primitive way, often triggers insights and discoveries that aren’t possible through words alone. Just think of all those napkins (or Post-Its) on which million-dollar ideas were sketched out.
Certainly there's something to be said getting the hands involved in whatever kind of creative or ideas-related enterprise your up to. I've tried doodling myself a little today and found that it can help clear out the cobwebs. No million dollar ideas yet, except for stealing a million dollars. Which seems impracticable at the moment.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Frosty Friday Random Ten

Are you in the habit of packing a summer sweater. I've noticed that a number of establishments crank the AC so high in summer that indoors feels like some kind of artificial robot winter. Hence the precautions.

1. Kendra Shank - Wish
2. Beth Custer - Tango
3. Dave van Ronk - Motherless Children
4. Imperial Teen - Don't Know How You Do It
5. Fitz & the Tantrums - The Walker
6. Nellie McKay - Really
7. Finn Riggins - Dali*
8. David Bowie - Suffragette City
9. Lower Dens - Societe Anonyme
10. Sara Vaughan - 'Round Midnight
* Finn Riggins - Dali from Tyler T. Williams on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Views of the world

Pinhole, Sténopé. from Daniel Guy on Vimeo.

Please do enjoy this slideshow of pinhole photographs taken by a gentleman in (I think) France. I think he's captured some real moments of stillness and beauty here. These are mostly nature scenes, and I can just about hear the wind.

Not that the pipe music isn't nice too.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Zounds, sounds

I have a ceiling fan in the entrance room to my apartment. Not too surprisingly, this is the time of year it gets a lot of use. I just noticed how much it sounds like an airplane overhead, but much quieter. The world's most laid back airplane.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Boom! Saturday Random Ten

It is, natch, Independence Day. Which of course means fireworks. Fireworks you can see, that is. I've been up here away from the excitement but I've seen some of the displays.

Now as to fireworks you can just hear, they've been going on for a while. And probably will until sometime in autumn. Not sure exactly where, though.

1. Finn Riggins - Vs. Birds
2. The Magnetic Fields - In My Secret Place
3. Kendra Shank - That Lonesome Road
4. Beth Custer & the Joe Goode Performance Group - Finally
5. The Beatles - You Won't See Me
6. Lower Dens - Non Grata
7. Rasputina - Antique High Heel Red Doll Shoes
8. Sun Ra - Of Sounds and Something Else
9. The Ramones - Bop 'til You Drop
10. Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley - The Masquerade Is Over

Friday, July 3, 2015

Opening blues

Yesterday in the paper I read in the paper (Boston Globe specifically) a concert review. It contained several paragraphs on the headliner, none on either of the opening acts. Now as it happens the headliner was Imagine Dragons, a band that's gained ubiquity and climbed to the top of the somewhat devalued charts but have never quite done it for me. One of the openers was Metric, who I really do like and who've appeared in some of my Random Ten lists. But that's actually immaterial.

What is germane is the fact that nobody seems to care about opening bands at all, and that's gotta rankle. But I can sort of back this up. Some years ago the Ramones played at my college. I was on the staff of the school paper, but I didn't cover the show. Went to it, didn't write about it. The reporter/reviewer who did spent time with the band before the show, and he was duly heedful, not to say a little awed. And yet, when I asked him out of curiosity what the name of the band who'd played before them was, he didn't know. And didn't find out afterward.

Mind you, this is a profoundly First World problem, not being recognized because you're a second banana. Still, I'm sure it's a job that many artists work hard to achieve, so it must bother a few that no one notices, as a rule.

As for the aforementioned Random Ten, it's coming tomorrow.

Wonder if these guys have made headliner yet.