Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Once Upon a Time in the West - Soundtrack

Title : Once Upon A Time In The West
Music Composed & Conducted by  :  Ennio Morricone
Genre  :  Soundtrack
Year  :  1972
Overall Rating  :  9*/10

    I must be getting old.  I'm beginning to enjoy soundtracks.  Of course it helps if the music is from my favorite Charles Bronson flick evuh.  And composed by one Ennio Morricone, who also wrote all those great themes from the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; Fistful of Dollars, etc.

Why Should I Care?
    Because the music is powerful yet relaxing.  The soprano, Ms. Gabriele Ferzetti hits some simply glass-sghattering high notes.  Because it will remind you of a b*tching movie.  Besides Bronson, it had Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, and Claudia Cardinale.

Track Listing  (my favorites in pink) :
(01) Once Upon a Time in the West
(02) As a Judgment
(03) Farewell to Cheyenne
(04) The Transgression
(05) The First Tavern
(06) The Second Tavern
(07) Man With a Harmonica
(08) A Dimly Lit Room
(09) Bad Orchestra
(10) Jill's America
(11) Death Rattle
(12) Finale

    The LP was in decent shape, so the conversion went smoothly.  I really had forgotten just how good the music in this film was.  Or maybe I'm getting geezerish.  We'll dock it a star only for the harmonica parts which, while good, do get repetitive.  9 Stars.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Demotivational Monday

    I'm happy to say that none of our three dogs would submit themselves to this sort of humiliation.  Unless, of course, it resulted in them getting a piece of beef jerky.  Or cheese.  Or turkey-burger.  Or watermelon.  Or ice cream. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Book Excerpt for the Day

"Remember when Wing-Tsit Chong called you a tourist?"


"It was a polite way of saying you lack the confidence in yourself to find your own answers to life.  You are always searching, Syrinx, though you never know what for.  Religion was inevitably going to exert a fascination on you.  The whole concept of salvation through belief offers strength to those who doubt themselves."

(from The Neutronium Alchemist by Peter F. Hamilton)

The complete review is here.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Summer Project

    I can't complain about the Arizona spring so far.  We've had one or two 100°+ days, but overall the temperatures have been moderate.  And tomorrow and Monday look to have highs only around 90°F.  Not bad for Memorial Day weekend.

    The  problem with Phoenix summers is that the weather is so freaking predictable.  You know that in the next two weeks, we're going to have the big heat-up, and that by 15 June, temperatures above 110°F will be the norm.  Then it's simply a matter of waiting for the monsoons to show up sometime in July.  Which will drop the temperatures back to 105°F, but increase the humidity to Florida swamp standards.

    But no matter.  Our A/C unit has been checked out and is good to go.  Which means you know where to find me until the middle of September.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Blogger Blues

I was forced into an involuntary blogging hiatus by the incompetency of Blogger.  Monday night, it decided that I needed to stay logged onto it forever.  When I tried to log out, it threw me back to the Dashboard.  I could of course go to a different website, but if I tried to go back to Blogger, it still just threw me back to the Dashboard.  Even after I rebooted, it did this.

    I thought maybe I had picked up a virus, but checking at Blogger's Help Site found that lots of others were suddenly having the same problem.  Blogger has acknowledged this is a "known issue", but as of tonight, they still haven't fixed it.

    This is moderately annoying for me, as I have three different Blogger accounts, and the glitch means I am always signed in as only one of those.  For those of you who use a PC at, say, work or a library or an Internet cafĂ©, the problem is more serious.  Since you can't ever log out, the next person using your computer has easy access to your blog.

    Fortunately, there is a way (two, actually) to negate this.  Neither is without drawbacks, but they are relatively simple.

    First, find the "gear cog" icon at the top of your Internet Explorer.  Mine's at the upper right, but yours may be in a different location.  Click on it, then follow one of the two options below.

01.) Click on "Internet Options".
02.) Under the "General" tab, find the "Browsing History" section.
03.)  Click on "Delete".
04.) Click on "Delete".

- or -

01.) Click on "Internet Options".
02.) Click on the "Advanced" tab.
03.) Click on "Reset".
04.) Click on "Reset".

   I've done the second option and it works.  But you lose all your "cookies", including password-remembrance and user-recognition.  So any site you go to will act like you're new there.  Hopefully, Blogger will fix this FUBAR shortly, and all of this will be obsolete.  But you never know.

P.S. The image is of Lanny Poffo, who old WWF fanatics will remember as "The Genius".  He is also the real-life brother of the recently-deceased Randy "Macho Man" Savage.

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Civic Duty's over!

   The trial is over; we found defendant guilty on all charges, and in all likelihood he's facing a long stint in jail.  The perps were pretty stoopid; the victim was pretty stoopid too.

    I don't intend to give details of the trial; but the demographics of the 50-person jury pool were quite interesting.  I'm knackered tonight, so that post will have to wait until later in the week.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Quote for the Day

    "In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual."  (Galileo Galilei - 1564-1642)

Friday, May 20, 2011

RIP - Randy Savage

Randall Poffo (aka Randy "Macho Man" Savage)
b.  :  15 November 1952
d.  :  20 May 2011

    Anyone who watched WWF (now WWE) will remember Randy "Macho Man" Savage.  Besides having Miss Elizabeth as his manager (in real life she was his wife), he was also a charismatic personality (just ask Slim Jims), equally adept at playing the villain or the hero.

    Macho Man was an accomplished wrestler.  No, I'm not grading him on his championships, or who he beat - it's all scripted.  Rather, it's based on the believability of his moves, the precision of his routines, and the expressions on his face during the match.  Savage was a master.

    Alas, their marriage fell apart in the 90's; Miss Elizabeth died of a drug overdose in 2003, the golden days of Professional Wrestling passed, and time caught up to the Macho Man.  Now mortality has caught him too.  The wrestlers today are sloppy compared to Hulk, Savage, and The Million Dollar Man (who IMHO was the best at doing precision moves).  And not surprisingly, other than maybe John Cena, none of them have the face-recognition and followings of these past masters.

    So Rest In Peace, Randy.  God took you the day before the Rapture.  Or maybe She simply chose you to lead the procession.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


    "An independent report commissioned by Catholic bishops ... says sexual abuse by priests in the U.S. has largely been resolved and blames the sexual revolution of the 1960's and 70's for sweeping up clerics in a tide of "deviant" behavior."  (AZ Republic; 05/19/11; page one)

    Damn those hippies.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I am he; he is me

    This happened to me once, albeit a long time ago.  I went up to the local Valley National Bank (that's what they were called in those days), at lunch to cash/deposit my paycheck.  I signed the back, and waited for my money.  The teller looked at me, looked at my signature, compared it to the one on my bank card (note : this was before your bank card had your pic on it), and declared that they didn't match, and that I wasn't me.

    Which raised the interesting question - how do you prove you are you?  For whatever reason, my Drivers License (which must've had my photo on it) didn't work.  She was convinced I had stolen poor Terry's paycheck and was now trying to purloin his hard-earned money.

    In fairness to her, my signature - even nowadays - tends to be a jumble of random scrawls, with each one being vastly different from the previous effort.  Which makes Travelers Checks a major challenge for me.  But hey, I really needed that money.

    I kept getting madder and madder; she kept getting stubborner and stubborner.  Finally, I demanded she call her superior over.  He looked at the signatures, looked at me, and told her to give me my money.  I don't think it was my handwriting that convinced him; I suspect he just fathomed that I was real ticked off, and that if I was a thief, that would not be my  posture.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Jury Duty

    Well, drat it all.  After lucking out the last two times I've been called for Jury Duty, the odds finally caught up to me.  So for the next six court days (weekends and Fridays don't count), I'll be hanging out at the Superior Court in Phoenix.  I haven't had to sit on a jury since 1998.

    I tried to get rejected.  I did my "psycho" routine which served me well the last two times.  That involves staring at the wall, and remaining stone-faced throughout the jury selection process.  I didn't lie about anything; I can't bring myself to do that.  But I did my best to act strange. 

    Court hours are 10:30 AM - 4:30 PM.  So I'll go in to work for a couple hours, then head on down to the court building.  I expect the sessions to go the full time, which means I'll be driving home on the "old" Maricopa freeway at the 5:00 rush hour.  I got my first taste of it today, and it was a b*tch to get home.

    The days will be stressful, so expect short posts here.  After listening to legalese yadda-yadda all day, I won't be in the mood to give lengthy discourses.  Besides, the gag rule is in effect, so mum's the word about any of the trial details until this is over.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Book Excerpt for the Day

They sat in the cold mess hall, most of them eating with their hats on, eating slowly, picking out putrid little fish from under the leaves of boiled black cabbage and spitting the bones out on the table. When the bones formed a heap and it was the turn of another squad, someone would sweep them off and they'd be trodden into a mush on the floor. But it was considered bad manners to spit the fishbones straight out on the floor.

(from One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn)
9½ Stars.  The full review is here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Pool Deck

    Yippee!  We had our pool deck ("cool deck"?) redone.  We also had it redone about 5 years ago.  For a really low price - about half what everyone wanted to charge. 
    Ah, but there was a reason he was so cheap.  His work was cheap.  In the picture above, you can see the stains, the grime, and most importantly (at the upper left) how the re-surfacing has flecked away.  It started doing that within a year of it being applied.  ANAICT, all the last guy did was kinda "paint over" the old pool deck.

    The lower picture is right after the latest resurfacing.  It took them two days to apply it, but it looks really classy.  They also applied it to our back porch cement, which badly needed an upgrade.

    We shall see how well it stands up to the Phoenix summers and Liz's pool parties.  I'm guessing it will get its first big test over the Memorial Day weekend.  PAR-TAY EVERYBODY!

Friday, May 13, 2011

75th Middle East Peace Festival

   Well, not really.  You can go back in time and you can go forward in time.  And of course, you can dimension-hop, although that's technically independent of time-travel.

    As for me, I'm popping forward 150 years tonight to attend the 75th Middle East Peace Festival.  For those of you who can't chrono-hop, about 50 years from your 'now', it finally dawns on all the countries in the Middle East that they are screwing each other and themselves with their constant fighting.  Turkey leaves the EEC to join with Israel and a host of Arab nations in an economic and cultural alliance.

    The site of the annual Middle East Peace Festival rotates of course.  And in 2161, it is was will be held in Istanbul.  The Sunnis are bringing the food; and the Shiites are supplying the entertainment.  The Israelis are doing the fireworks, and the Turks taking care of the hospitality.  The Kurds are in charge of the decorations; the Bahais will lead the opening and closing prayers.

    It will be was is a blast!  Come join us.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

it was 20 years ago today...

     No, not Sgt. Peppers.  Twenty years ago today, we lost Bob Marley at the all-too-early age of 36.  He put reggae on the map, and introduced the world to Rastafarianism.  You can read his Wikipedia biogrpahy here.

  Rasta In Peace, Bob.  Too soon gone.

   Actually it was 30 years ago.  Stoopid tens column.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Book Excerpt for the Day

"You did what?" said Artemis, rising to her feet.  If anything, she sounded angrier than Artemis felt.

"I...," said Apollo.  "I..."

"You wouldn't heat up so much as a cupful of water for me, and yet you were willing to waste gallons of your power on transmogrifying some stupid mortal slut?"

"She wasn't a slut," said Artemis.  "Not with him anyway.  I think that was the problem."

(from Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips)

6½*/10.  The complete review is here.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Asinine Arizona

  Governor  Jan Brewer, our resident head idiot, is taking our racist Immigration Law (SB1070) to the Supreme Court.  Oh happy day.  I think she likes showing off our stupidity to the rest of the nation.

    With a little bit of luck, SCOTUS will send Jan back to us with her tail between her legs.  But given the likes of Scary Scalia and Clarence Uncle Tom Thomas and the other three wing-nuts, it's just possible they'll side with her, 5-4.  That will indeed be a sad day.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Stay Awhile - Kingston Trio

Album Title : Stay Awhile
Artist : The Kingston Trio
Genre : Classic Folk
Year : 1965
Overall Rating : 9*/10

    I've been a Kingston Trio fan for decades.  In the late 50's and early 60's, they were one of the hottest  groups around, and their hits Tom Dooley and M.T.A. were chart-toppers.

    Alas, Folk Music moved into social issues in the mid-60's, and the Kingston Trio were slow to recognize this.  By 1965, their peppy, cerebral music was out of fashion.  People were listening to Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, and K3 had been dropped by the longtime distributor, Capitol Records.

Why Should I Care?
    By 1965, The Kingston Trio was with Decca Records, and Dave Guard had left the group, replaced by an up-and-coming John Stewart.   He infused new energy into their songs, and had finally convinced them to do some cutting-edge social tunes.  Stay Awhile has two Tom Paxton songs; another by Mason Williams, and even one penned by Rod McKuen.  John Stewart's Stories Of Old (Track 09) is as powerful a statement against social injustice as you can find.

    But it was too late.  The Kingston Trio had lost their relevance, and no one was buying their records to discover their evolution.  Which is too bad, cuz this is really a fantastic album.

Track Listing (my favorites in pink) :
(01) Hanna Lee
(02) Three Song
(03) Gonna Go Down The River
(04) Rusting In The Rain
(05) Dooley
(06) If I Had A Ship
(07) Yes I Can Feel It
(08) Bottle Of Wine
(09) Stories Of Old
(10) Where I'm Bound
(11) If You See Me Go
(12) Stay Awhile

   I picked this LP up for $2, and it's in very good shape.  No skips, and not many big scratches.  Easy to convert to MP3.  There really aren't any weak tracks on it; I could've 'pinked' all 12.  I've been enjoying it for the past couple weeks, and I'm nowhere close to being tired of it.  Highly recommended9*/10 Stars.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Choosing the right God

    I'm reading a book right now ("Gods Behaving Badly" by Marie Phillips) that explores this same postulate, albeit humorously.  Why is it inconceivable that the Egyptian gods (as shown in the comic), or the Greek gods (as hypothesized in GBB)  have just as much chance of existing as our "modern" deities?

    True, you can climb Mt. Olympus and show conclusively that Zeus and company are not dwelling there.  But when you subject any of today's gods to the same type of test, you don't find any evidence either.  So it's a matter of faith.  And choosing the right god, I suppose.  Or at least one that you're comfortable with.  Alas, most people are lazy and just opt for whatever form of god their parents had.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Book Excerpt for the Day

"What else do you know about it?" Pitt asked, looking up at Grover and leaning back in his chair, although at times like this he he still felt it to be Drummond's chair.

"Sir?"  Grover raised his eyebrows.

"What did the medical officer say?" Pitt prompted.

"Died of 'avin' 'is 'ead cut orf," Grover replied, lifting his chin a little.

(from The Hyde Park Headsman by Anne Perry)

The full review is here.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Bella Update (05/05)

   Bella and I visited the vet on Monday to get her blood drawn and analyzed.  The news was great - her red blood cell count is back to normal (43% - whatever that means).  She's no longer under a "restricted exercise" edict.

    She is still on a bunch of meds.  We will start to wean her off them in another week or so.  Then we'll go back to the vet on 03 June for more blood work, to see if she can stay of the meds.  Huxley will accompany us so that he can get his Blood Pressure checked.

    She's eating well and drinking well.  Her tongue and gums are pink again.  She barks at everything and at nothing.  She loves to go on our longer walk routes.  The vet says her knees already show signs of arthritis, so she's training Liz and me to come running to the bedroom in the morning to put her down on the floor.  You'd never know that 2½ weeks ago, she was a death's door.

    Hopefully everything will continue swimmingly, and we'll have no need for an update until early June.  We are keeping our fingers crossed.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Wednesday's Brain Teaser

Who said the following :

"Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not.  We haven't heard from him in a long time.  The idea of focusing on one person really indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission.  Terror is bigger than one person.  He's just a person who's been marginalized. ... I don't know where he is.  I really just don't spend that much time on him, to be honest with you."

Hint #1 : He said it it March 2002, about the now recently-deceased OBL.

Hint #2 :

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Book Excerpt for the Day

"Why are you a drunkard?" Dancy asks, finally turning away from the window, swiveling around to face him.  "Because you don't like hearing what the angels say, what they show you?"

"There are no g*dd*mn angels!"

"It doesn't matter what you call them," she says so calm, so confident.  "My momma said they usually don't care."

(from Threshold, by Caitlin R. Kiernan)

The full review is here.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Easter Dogz - Part 3

   Some great "interaction" shots, again courtesy of Rosa.  From top to bottom - Bella and Evan; Jynx and Bella; and Jynx and Elise.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Mission Accomplished

We got the bastard!  With a Democrat in the White House, no less.  But surely Sarah Palin deserves all the credit for this.  Or Glenn Beck.  Or Rush.

I can't wait to see the dittohead spin on this.