Friday, March 31, 2017


Earlier this evening I was looking for my umbrella and couldn't find it. I figured I must have left it someplace public, which is something I've done many times before. Turns out I'd just left it in my bedroom. That's progress of a sort.

During the day it was raining. Later in the day it turned to sleet. Since I remember seeing hailstones a couple of weeks ago that means we've had all the major kinds of precipitation this year. Luckily it wasn't sleeting that hard when I was out.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Man cave

It's not surprising that DC Comics has been publishing an adaptation of The Flintstones, as they and Hanna-Barbera have a common owner in Time Warner. What is surprising is that it's being taken seriously and has come in for a lot of praise. I haven't really been reading comics lately, but at some point I may take a look.

The new "realistic" depiction of Fred really isn't, though. I look at his arms and think, "What are those muscles even supposed to be?" Even the Neanderthals, the high school wrestling team to modern humans' basketball team, faced an upper limit to their pumpitude. If anything it was more realistic in the animated series, where he was drawn like a pudgy contractor from Ohio.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Real men

"Well, these books are all scientific," insisted Tom, glancing at her impatiently. "This fellow has worked out the whole thing. It's up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things.
"We've got to beat them down," whispered Daisy, winking ferociously toward the fervent sun.
"You ought to live in California—" began Miss Baker, but Tom interrupted her by shifting heavily in his chair.
"The idea is that we're Nordics. I am, and you are, and you are, and—" After an infinitesimal hesitation he included Daisy with a slight nod, and she winked at me again. "—And we've produced all the things that go to make civilization—oh, science and art, and all that. Do you see?"
The Great Gatsby is, I think, one of those books I pretended to read in high school and/or college. I learned some of the names and was able to pass a test by osmosis, but avoided the actual reading. Now I actually am reading it. It's short, brisk, and so far more rewarding than I always figured it would be.

As for the above-quoted Tom Buchanan, he was born at the wrong time. In the previous century he could have been a presidential adviser. Or in, you know, the next one.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

More a sort of après-vie

Ancient Egypt is sufficiently far away in time so that we may never really understand the culture. Still, the Egyptians were likely not nearly as alien as they're sometimes presented as being. And it appears that those curses on tombs were not what they're cracked up to be:
Other objects found nearby the tomb which are on display include a Book of the Dead which belonged to a powerful Egyptian vizier – equivalent to prime minister - called Useramun, and a stone with an inscription warning people not to disturb a tomb.
But Dr Margaret Maitland, senior curator of Ancient Mediterranean at the museum, said rather than a curse the message was more of a gentle reproach to stay away.
She said: “Tomb curses are quite rare and they actually more often [say] just a vague ‘please don’t remove anything from this tomb’ or warn people that they could be prosecuted in the afterlife.
“There is just this sort of warning not to remove anything or the gods will reproach them greatly.”

So basically, "Listen, guys, be cool. Love, Horus," Something like that.

Actually this is all very interesting. The disposal of the dead in one of the first really urban settings in human history had all sorts of practical as well as spiritual aspects.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mucho Marco

It's easy to forget that there are still classical music composers in the world. Not that "classical" is always the most descriptive term, but it's the most widely understood. But yes, it's a living, evolving form too.

Tomás Marco, in his seventies and still active, is an interesting creator. This piece is quite playful. I guess having two pianos to play with unlocks something.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

From the soul jazz precinct*

On sort of a whim, because I saw it at my branch, I took out the third season of Barney Miller from the library. This is still one of the all time greats. It took anxieties that were in the air about urban decline, energy, disaster preparedness et al and made it less overwhelming. I think this is one of the jobs of comedy.

During this season Phil Fish was being eased out to a short-lived spin-off and Steve Landesberg's Arthur Dietrich was still being phased in. It's interesting to note that Dietrich is a bit of a wet blanket in some of his earliest appearances. One of the first things they had written into his character was that he'd spent nine months in medical school. Therefore he spends a lot of time giving unsolicited medical advice. Over time Landesberg and the writers would find a more fruitful avenue for comedy and character development.

Much the same thing had happened before, with Wojo. In the first season he was mainly a dense, braying guy and borderline Polish stereotype. After that they played up his vulnerability more, which was a good choice and gave Max Gail more to do. It's interesting to see characters who could be and at times are kind of vague come to life.

*as heard here:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

After these brief messages

Here's something that happens to me sometimes, most recently just a couple of nights ago. I'm lying in bed, usually in the early AM hours. Something is keeping me awake, usually a noise. Could be lights too. There's something off about the sound, it doesn't seem right for the context. I'll say something to myself like "Why are they running a pile driver in the middle of the night?" I'll do my best to curl up and ignore it, but it's too persistent.

Then I open my eyes. The noise stops. I realize that it was just some lame kind of dream state while I was in a shallow slumber.

In general my response to this is a delight that the night is so blessedly quiet. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Pwca dust

The pooka is an interesting myth. They seem to have been dreamt up as an embodiment of everything a child would want to be - and if not be, then at least associate with. A pooka friend would be fun. You could have one as an enemy and not know it, but God help you if you do.

I recently read "Penguins of the Apocalypse", a William Browning Spencer story about an alcoholic threatened by his pooka. It's sort of a darker take on Harvey. Also reminiscent of this Who song.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

rock on

I love this cover. It truly shines light on some facets of the song that mightn't have been apparent before.

Sadly Robert Plant has not reciprocated by singing "Gingerbread Coffin" or anything like that. At least not as far as I know.

Monday, March 13, 2017


I'm curious to see how this snowstorm plays out. It seems likely to be the last major fall of the winter. Although maybe I shouldn't say that. In any case, it'll be funny to see some St. Patrick's Day parades where the floats are replaced with tractors.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Yes, they're on a cloud

CumulonimBAAAHs from Matt Bogacki on Vimeo.

The animator here is working in a familiar formula - Coyote/Roadrunner and other Looney Tunes - but he finds new opportunities for weirdness within it. Very enjoyable.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Everything's waiting for you

For most of the past fifteen years I've worked on the East Side of Providence. The thing to remember is that this is an elevated part of town. Most of it is atop one hill or another. So if you work even on the second floor of a building you look out and just about everything is below or across from you.

This week I returned to work after a few months' unemployment. My new job is downtown, or Downcity as some insist on calling it. The part of downtown that's in the direction of South Providence but safely short of it. And this part of the city is in the valley. Plus most of the taller buildings around here are in the downtown section. So you spend more time looking up. It's a different feel.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

American beauty & others

American beauty resided far more in nature than i culture. Thus the intelligent American, if he or she got the chance to visit Europe, could find his taste transformed in a sort of pentecostal flash by a single monument of antiquity, as Jefferson's was by the sight of the Maison Carrée at Nimes, the Roman temple that created his conception of public architecture. One hour with the Medici Venus or the Apollo Belvedere in the Vatican could outweigh all one's past aesthetic experience, as the raw child of the new republic. One's own inexperience endowed the English or European work with a stupendous authority.

The late Robert Hughes' Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America is an interesting book. It's filled with arguments that are debatable - hence the fact that they're arguments - but well made. The Australian critic made the lectures the book is based on at an earlier stage of the culture wars: the first half of the nineties. The side he takes is that of culture.

Sunday, March 5, 2017


A guy walks into a bar with a monkey perched on his shoulder. The bartender says "You can't bring that thing in here." Taken aback, the guy says, "Sorry, my bad." He turns around and leaves.

That night the bartender lies awake, wondering if he's missed the opportunity to have a more interesting life.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Things change

Yesterday I ran into a guy I used to work with. Like up until 9-10 months ago. The two of us were the data entry department, and then things started getting slow. I transferred to a different department, which eventually led me out of the organization. Yesterday I found out he doesn't work there anymore either, not since December.

Like I said, we did data entry for the whole place. Now we're gone, with no replacements. It's a whole different system.

He's back in school now. Best of luck to him.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Stake in hand

I heard this song in a different context earlier tonight. Short and sweet. I didn't actually know that much about Sainte Marie. Just that she showed up on Sesame Street a few times when I was a kid. First person I'd heard of named "Buffy." If she slew vampires, it was not discussed.