Sunday, November 30, 2008

Delicate Flame of Desire - Karnataka

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

Saturday Surrealism

Despite the cost to the trees, let us hope there never comes a day when books are obsolete.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Dogz of Thanxgiving

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 As usual, she had withdrawn to the back bedroom.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.
Eventually, Jynx was coaxed off the door. Preacher looked forward to his turn, but by then, the silverware was pretty much licked clean.
So Preacher headed off to the living room, where he posed for this "Kodak moment".

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving !!

Here's what I'm having for dessert.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Live Free or Die Hard

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

It's the economists, stupid...

I wonder if we can declare them enemy combatants, and ship them off to Guantanamo. These two clowns have hurt the US far worse than bin Ladin's chauffeur.

Monday, November 24, 2008

BSIF Awards !!

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

Election Night Pics

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.
The crowd celebrates when the networks declare Obama the winner.
I am told this is Jason working on three days without any sleep. The lady on the right, IIRC, is an emissary from Obama's transition team, in Phoenix to discuss ...ahem... future job prospects for Jason in Washington DC.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Art Appreciation Friday

Needless to say, this looks much better in full size, so left-click on it. Good luck on naming everyone in the painting, but have fun trying.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rex checks in !

Rex, my sheepdog-in-Wyoming persona, sent in this photo. He claims this is him, chasing down some straying sheep. I think he doctored the image.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Incredibly, none of my 2 dozen or so multiple personalities has this syndrome.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Congratulations Rae Waters !! (a)

On a night when Democrats underperformed in Arizona (unlike everywhere else), Rae Waters won a state representative seat in a district where Republican registered voters heavily outnumber Democrats, and where no Democratic candidate had held this post for the past 18 years. . On election night, Rae held a 300+ vote lead, but there were a slew of mail-in, early, and questioned ballots to be counted. As those gradually got processed, Rae kept inching ahead. . She credited her upset win to lots of knocking on doors, a long history of service on the local school board, and appealing to independent voters by her moderate political stance.

Congratulations Rae Waters !! (b)

This troika of photos were actually taken at a Democratic rally a short time before the election. In this photo, the man immediately to Rae's left is Ted Maish, who was running for state senate in District 20. And next to him is US Congressman Harry Mitchell, to whom I am eternally grateful for knocking goofball and uber-dittohead J.D. Hayworth out of his congressional seat in 2006.

Congratulations Rae Waters !! (c)

We'll close with this pic of Rae and her dynamic campaign manager, Jason Ludwig, as they discuss the subtleties of running a successful "Blue" campaign in a "Red" district. . What these two accomplished should not be understated. Their political futures are bright and congratulations are in order to both of them!
Coming soon : Election Night photos !!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dali Simpsons

Just cuz I haven't had a Dali fix in quite some time. I'm not sure what the middle image is a take-off of.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

RIP - "Gus" (1999-2008)

Gus, a one-eyed, three-legged Chinese crested dog and winner of the 2008 Ugliest Pooch contest, passed away last week. He was 9 years old. . He lost an eye in a cat fight, and a leg due to a skin tumor. His owner rescued him after learning that someone was keeping him in a crate in a garage. . I'm a dog-lover anyway, but the story struck a special chord with me since one of our dogs also has only one eye. Farewell, Gus. You were dealt some rough circumstances by life, but you got lots of love from your final owner, and you're in a better place now.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Guess the author...

"For as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on earth is my story even possible."
Want a hint?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Adieu, Undecided Voters !

You'll have to find some other annoying habit until 2011. Maybe telemarketing, or something like that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The times, they are a-changin'

An interesting map, courtesy of the New York Times. The red areas are voting districts where the percentage of people voting Republican (for McCain) went up in this last presidential election. The blue areas are districts where the percentage of people voting Democratic (for Obama) went up. . The deeper the color, the greater the increase in the percentage. I like the trend. :-)

Monday, November 10, 2008

RIP - Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba
b. : 04 March 1932
d. : 09 November 2008
Born in South Africa, Miriam Makeba was both a singer and a staunch anti-apartheid activist. Her stand for the rights of blacks in South Africa cost her dearly. For speaking publicly against the injustice, her passport was revoked in 1960, making her unable to attend her mother's funeral. She continued to speak out, and in 1963, South Africa revoked her citizenship. . She was later married to Stokely Carmichael, a name that probably means nothing to anyone under 50. Carmichael suffered persecution from American officials, as did Harry Belafonte, with whom Makeba often sang in concerts. I'm proud to say I have an LP titled An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba, which is quite good. . Perhaps by God's grace she was allowed to live long enough to see a black man elected president of the USA. And for those of us who continue the struggle for equal rights for all humans (including gays, Guantanamo POW's, illegal immigrants, and Palestinian refugees), she serves as a reminder that there is a price to pay when you go up against oppressive regimes and hateful institutions. . Good-bye, Miriam Makeba. The torch is now passed to other hands, but you will continue to be an inspiration to us. . You can read more about Ms. Makeba here.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Apocalyptica Concert !

We saw these guys at the Marquee Theater last weekend. $15/ticket, and no warm-up band. Which on a Sunday night is a plus, actually. The doors opened at 6:30; we got there around 7:00, and we still had to stand around an hour before they played. That is uncool on a Sunday night. Nevertheless, by 9:30, we were on our way home. . Apocalyptica is a metal band, who love to do Metallica covers, and who substitute cellos for guitars. One guy sits the whole time to play, but the other three lug those big cellos around all over the stage. They also had a drummer, who was way too loud, and a guest singer on 4-5 songs, who was nothing to write home about. . Overall, it was well worth the $15, and we got to see our very first mosh pit. Some people drink way too much energy drinks. The obligatory encore song was Hall Of The Mountain King, which happens to be my favorite Apocalyptica song. This was the last stop on their 2008 North American tour, and I imagine they were going to be very happy to be heading back to Finland. . Oh, one last thing. When the theater parking lot attendant tells you to turn around and go back across the street to the parking garage there, LISTEN TO HIM! Do not drive out the opposite exit onto what appears to be a two-lane highway. That actually is half of a four-lane divided highway, and when you turn left on it (to head towards that parking garage), you will instead find yourself driving into two lanes of oncoming traffic, and without anywhere to turn off!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Are you man enough for Rachmaninoff?

Title : Rachmaninoff Plays Rachmaninoff
Recorded : 1929-1941
Overall Rating : ***** **½ (out of 10*)
. I'll admit, Classical Piano is not one of my favorite genres. Although under the tutelage of a colleague from work, I am developing a taste for it. By and large, one pianist sounds like the next to me, so my preferences tend to be measured by who the composer was, not who's tickling the ivories. . Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) is one of my favorite composers. Here he plays his own four concertos, along with a gazillion variations on a theme by Paganini. . IMHO, Concerto #2 is better than #3, which is better than #4, which is better than #1. Who cares what the experts think?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Heineken Art

Good grief. Now I'm thirsty.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Collect 'em all

Tony Hillerman (mystery writer)
b. : 05/27/25
d. : 10/26/08
William Wharton (author of 'Birdy')
b. : 11/07/25
d. : 10/29/08
Michael Crichton (author of Jurassic Park; Andromeda Strain, et. al.)
b. : 10/23/42
d. : 11/04/08 .
WTF?? Is God trying to collect the whole set??

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

One More Day !

The polls are saying this one could be anything from a solid win for Obama to a landslide. But don't count the Repugnicans out just yet. The fact that a lot of states have no physical way to double-check the computer-generated vote-counting is an invitation to dittohead hackers.
OTOH, they'd have to pull this stunt in a slew of precincts in a slew of states, and hope to get away with it 100% of the time. Very, very risky.
So for those of you who didn't vote early and/or by mail-in ballots, please-oh-please get out and vote tomorrow. Then grab some chips-&-dip and a diet soda or two, and settle in to watch what should be a very satisfying election night.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Strange but true...

Something quick, as we're heading to a Metal concert tonight. Details to follow, albeit probably after election-night.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The missing phrase

I guess the family values card is just too ludicrous for the GOP-heads to even try to play this election. Not that they EVER took it seriously.