Wednesday, December 31, 2008
We're going out for dinner with some friends, and should be home by 8 and in bed and asleep by 10. Yeah, we're boring. We will however be wide awake at midnight, as our three dogs freak out from the firecrackers. . Have fun. Make some 2009 resolutions. Read a good book. Drive defensively. And for Heaven's sake, if you drink, don't drive. The cops are out in force tonight. Call me, and I'll come be your designated driver.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Headline at MSNBC.com today - Study : Teenage "Virginity Pledges" are Ineffective. You can read the details here. . And in some strangely coincidental news, Bristol "No sex education for me" Palin finished her calving today as well. To either her first or second kid. No mention of a wedding date yet. .
- UPDATE -They named him "Tripp" ?!?! WTF. Are they all druggies up there? Why not something normal, like "Moon Unit" or "Aryan Nation"? . Ummm. Listen, Todd & Sarah. I'm just kidding about that last one. Don't rename the kid Aryan Nation.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
b. : 01/17/27
d. : 12/25/08. Eartha Kitt passed away on Christmas Day. She was best-known as a singer and actress (she played Catwoman on the "Batman" TV series after Julie Newmar departed). But some of us admired her for her anti-Vietnam-war views. In 1968, she made the following quote at a White House luncheon, which reportedly reduced LadyBird Johnson to tears...
. "You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. They rebel in the street. They don't want to go to school because they're going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam."
. Eartha's "reward" in this land of free speech was to be blacklisted for more than a decade in the entertainment field, and to be investigated by the CIA and FBI. Years later, Jimmy Carter made amends by inviting her to the White House. . This apparently completes God's "set" of black, activist, female entertainers first speculated about here. He took Miriam Makeba home on 09 November, and Odetta home on 02 December.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
The Sarah Brightman concert last night lived up to my expectations. Lavish production numbers; impeccable choreography; with a light show and graphics going on in the background reminiscent of Pink Floyd's DSotM tour years ago. And a 10-piece orchestra backing her up. . Ms. Brightman was, of course, divine. She can be a tad ...ahem... theatrical at times, but no one was complaining. Her voice was in top form, and this was the last stop on her tour. So she's presumably flying back to Merrie Olde Englande even as I post this. . The only negative was the 8:00 PM starting time, on a Sunday night, and 45 miles across town from our house. And we have Photo-Radar traps up the kazoo now, so one has to drive at 55 mph all the way home. We'll give this concert a solid "A". . Next up, maybe, will be a "Billy Joel / Elton John Dueling Pianos" concert in March. I'm neutral towards it, but Liz really wants to go. I can take or leave Mr. Joel, and I've seen Mr. John once, at Big Surf, while in a Purple Haze (me, not him). So he'd be hard-pressed to outdo that performance.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Two of the more memorable holiday CD's. We'll conveniently ignore the double-R's in "Carrols" in the lower image. In certain parts of the UK, David Hasselhuffen has achieved a near-legendary status as a singer. "Hot Shot City" is not on the above CD, but if you ever have a chance to hear David sing it, it will literally change your life.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Title : The Garden (2008)
Genre : Prog
Rating : ***** ***½ (out of 10*). An excellent 2-CD offering from this Aussie group. 33% Pop, 33% Hard Rock, 33% Jazz, 33% Classical Piano, and all Prog. Yeah I know, that's more than 100%. . The highlights are the 22-minute The Garden and the 16-minute Journey's Friend, followed closely by Angeliqua and 321. The latter song is about a Tasmanian mine disaster, where two miners were trapped for 321 hours before being rescued. . The short songs lend a nice contrast to the two long tracks. Still, The Garden and Journey's Friend are what make this a noteworthy album. Both of those tracks are complex and have a smooth flow from one musical style to another. This second release by Unitopia is a proggy delight and showcases their songwriting and musical talents. Well worth the listen. .
- UPDATE -Here's a YouTube link to one of their songs. This Life
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
A nice take-off of one of my favorite pictures done in one of my favorite styles - pointillism. Which brings back collegiate memories of sitting on an apartment floor, three or four others present, three or four black lights present, and painting on black posterboard. Under the influence, of course. And one night, we all got on this pointillism kick...
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
b. : 04/22/23
d. : 12/11/08. Bettie Page, whom some consider the quintessence of voluptuousness, passed away at the spry age of 85. Originally a typist by trade, serendipity changed her career, first to a 50's pin-up girl, and then to a barrier-breaking provocatively-posing model, incredibly never with any nudity. . The worth1000 image above, while flawed (purists know her name isn't spelled with a "Y"), shows some of those controversial pics. They're tame by today's standards; nevertheless, try not to drool on the monitor. .. For the aesthetically-inclined, her measurements are listed as having been 36-23-36½, and she was Miss January 1955 in Playboy. For you trivia nuts, Miss February that year was much more famous and was....?? (No, not Marilyn Monroe.)
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Yeah, this is intelligent. Let's all go on a hajj, crowd around a stone wall, call it the Devil, and pelt it with rocks. You can read about it here. And don't give me the "it's all symbolic" BS. I'm sure Satan is just terrified of symbolic gestures. OTOH, he might get a kick out of you trampling your fellow pilgrims to death in your rush to get to the stone. . Sheesh.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Sunday, December 07, 2008
We went to the Tempe Arts Festival today with some friends. Yeah, it's just a glorified Arts & Crafts Show, and everything was overpriced. It was huge - it took us more than four hours to walk the entire thing. The weather was perfect - overcast for most of the time, but no rain. And temperatures in the low 70's. I didn't buy anything (I'm not into Artsy-Craftsy stuff), but I took some pics of the more unusual stuff. If I get ambitious, I'll post them in a separate blog. Alas, ATM I'm fighting a cold, so I think tonight I'll snuggle under some blankets and read a P.G. Wodehouse book.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Friday, December 05, 2008
b. : 12/31/30
d. : 12/02/08. Odetta's heyday was in the 50's, slightly before my time. Along with groups like The Weavers, she embodied the definition of "folk-singing" until the next generation (Dylan, Joan Baez, the Kingston Trio) came along. . She's on one or two of my (vinyl) folk compilation albums. To be honest, neither she nor the Weavers are my folky "cup of tea". It's probably a generation thing. Still, she's one of those one-name singers (like Prince, Sting, and my personal favorite Melanie). You know you've carved your own niche when you're recognized by a single name. . But she was also a Civil Rights activist in the 1960's, and that's what I will most remember her for. She was a leader and a featured singer in the famous March on Washington in 1963. . The troubling thing is Miriam Makeba died less than a month ago, and now Odetta's gone too. God seems to have a habit of "collecting sets of threes". In Oct/Nov, it was authors. You can read about that here. Now He's either collecting black female singers, or black singers/civil rights activists. If it's the former, Leontyne Price is the most likely "third" of the set. If it's the latter, then the my money's on Harry Belafonte. If the pattern holds, the set will be completed before the end of the year.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Putting up the outside Christmas lights is not my favorite job. Oh, it's better than getting a root canal, and just a little worse than having someone bash me over the head with a brick.
These pics were taken mostly to figure out how to deal with taking digital shots at night. Yes, there's a night-setting on the camera, but the pictures always come out blurred, cuz you can't hold your hand still long enough for the slow shutter speed.
But setting the camera on the top of my pick-up worked pretty good in the top photo, even though the camera angles are limited, and the top of the truck gets in the pic. The bottom pic proved that using the flash also helps once it's gotten dark. Buried in one of my closets somewhere is a tripod. It's time to find it. .
My part of the decorating job is done. Liz will now turn every room inside into Santa's house (including the bathrooms). Those front windows in the top pic, and that space to the right of the "3160" in the bottom pic will shortly be overflowing with Christmas lights and other decorations. Stay tuned.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
"Police stopped 49-year-old Ethel Hylton at Houston's Hobby Airport and told her she was under arrest because a drug dog had scratched her luggage. Agents searched her bags and strip-searched her, but they found no drugs. They did find $39,110 in cash, money she had received from an insurance settlement and her life savings; accumulated through over 20 years of work as a hotel housekeeper and hospital janitor. Ethel Hylton completely documented where she got the money and was never charged with a crime. But the police kept her money anyway." (from DailyKos, 11/16/08) If you think this is bogus, google "Ethel Hylton" and follow the many links. Our local police goons have done similar seizures over the years. The New Times newspaper has done some exposés on this sort of abuse; I remember one where the sheriff's office furnished themselves with up-to-date computers by pulling such a stunt. . The truth is, most communities have statutes on the books that allow law officials to seize any and all property from drug dealers. The intent was to hurt the pushers financially (in addition to jail), but the upshot is, as you can see from Ethel Hylton's saga, police just take what they want. It's up to you to prove you didn't get the stuff they seize as a result of drug-dealing, and even if you do prove it, they usually keep it anyway. . The second truth is - it is estimated that as much as 70% of our paper currency was used somewhere along the way in a drug-related scenario, often to snort cocaine. So a drug-sniffing dog has the potential to "out" just about anyone carrying cash. . As our local governments feel the financial crunch of the present recession (thanks, Dubnutz; you jerk), look for them to try to increase revenues by things like photo-radar, speed traps, etc. The police are going to feel the pinch too. So you can expect a lot more "search & seizures" in the near future. Get used to it.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
2003. Genre : Prog Folk-Rock. Overall Rating : ***** **** (out of 10*).
This Week I'm Listening To...
The third album from this talented Welsh prog-rock group, Delicate Flame of Desire was alas their last studio album. After releasing a live album in 2004, they splintered, and have not put out anything since.
What's To Like...
Oh my. The lead vocals by Rachel Jones are as good as it gets. And each song comes with a guitar solo that's just as awesome. Think "Annie Haslam with Mostly Autumn", or if that's too esoteric, how about "Loreena McKennitt with Marillion". This is a pure delight to listen to. Good from the first to the last track.
Other than being a bit formulaic (and in this case, that can be viewed as a good thing), my only complaint is that the band broke up soon after this. Rachel Jones did some gigs with Mostly Autumn, and later formed a group called The Reasoning. There was a rumor in 2007 that Karnataka had resurrected and was working on a new album - The Gathering Light. But 2008 is coming to a close, and it still hasn't surfaced at Amazon.
So we'll continue to wait patiently. In the meantime, if you're missing the awesomeness that once was called Renaissance, give Delicate Flame Of Desire a spin.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
We had a nice Thanksgiving. A dozen people or so. One extra dog - Preacher. Lots of great food and stimulating conversation. After dinner, Jynx volunteered to help with the dishes. Or more precisely, the silverware. I've never seen him stand on the dishwasher door before, although Mohavy used to do so.
After a while, Preacher and Huxley came over to see what was going on. Honeybee missed out. As usual, she had withdrawn to the back bedroom. Stranger danger, and all that.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
2006; 129 minutes. Genre : Action; Sequel. MPAA Rating : PG-13. Blog Rating : C-.
This Weekend I Watched...
The fourth in the Die Hard series, and probably the fifth movie I've watched this year. Bruce Willis returns as John McClane, this time to thwart a UE who wants to destroy the USA by wreaking havoc upon our governmental, financial and utility institutions.
What's To Like...
The action is non-stop. The stunts are impressive. Bruce Willis' performance is better than what I feared. Best of all, Justin Long, the "Mac guy" in those "Mac vs. PC" commercials, plays McClane's sidekick/foil and does a good job.
What's Not To Like...
On a scale of 1-to-10, the believability of LFoDH is about a minus-5. Yeah I know, Die Hard plots aren't supposed to be plausible, but this one wallows in impossibility. Bad guys fall out of helicopters, hit the asphalt, dust themselves off, and walk away. Stealth fighters fire all their bullets and missiles at McClane - in an 18-wheeler no less - and somehow miss. And what takes the cake is Willis wind-surfing on the wing of that stealth-fighter right before it crashes.
Worse, the things that made the Die Hard 1-3 movies enjoyable are missing. The UE in Die Hard 1 is a delightful character. And in all three of the earlier Die Hards, half the fun was trying to figure out the bad guys' ultimate intentions. There's nothing delighful or mysterious here.
Live Free and Hard, but just Die...
I have to say I liked the first three Die Hards. #1 (the high rise one) : A. #2 (the airport one) = A+. #3 (dump trucks and tunnels) = B. So perhaps my expectations were set too high for LFoDH. Or maybe the scriptwriters have run out of ideas how to lacerate and contuse Willis, so rock-em sock-em stunts are subbed instead. In any event, this movie was a letdown. It's time to either replace the writers, or else let this series quietly expire.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Read all about it here. . Move over, Bulwer-Lytton Awards; you've got company. And I guess I'd expect it to be some Brits that came up with a "Bad Sex In Fiction" contest. I've even heard of one of the finalists - Paulo Coelho. I may have to look for "Brida" at the used-book store.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
A few pics from election night mania... Above, an unidentified passerby hoists Ansel Adams III, photographer for the Elect Rae Waters team, so that he can get a shot of the crowd at Democratic headquarters.
The passserby then volunteered to help with the election-night communications. He had the latest internet results phoned to him, then told them to Jason, who relayed them to Rae via text-messages. Ain't 21st -Century technology grand? This was outside, so there were no TV's available.