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May 30, 2008

Is that yours?

Mountain King
Click images for desktop size: "Mountain King" by Unknown - Ancient Chinese
The house my dogs and I live in is on a large lot. On the south its about 30 feet to the fence then about 20 yards to the neighbors house. On the north there's about 35 feet to the fence and the neighbors. To the west there aren't any neighbors to speak of. The Killer Is Loose On the east its a bit closer, about 18 feet to the fence and the neighbors.
When you look out the front porch its blackness like a forest blackness. I find that calming.
And yet today I felt smothered and cramped.
Its not a valid feeling, physically. I've been in bed sits in Europe that were no bigger than this place's storage shed. Where your next door neighbor is a two by four and a piece of dry wall away; where you share a toilet and a shower with 6 neighbors. There the humanity oozes out into you. Living so close people get reclusive and afraid. Afraid of people and your neighbors. Sometimes just afraid.
I felt like that today. Like all these people were pressing against me, stealing my breath.
Its the economy, or the lack of it. Its the lack of humanity, for sure. The lack of kindness that frightened people can't bring themselves to give to one another.
Its telephones and emails and pagers and cell phones so that even when your staring off into a black black night you can never feel secure in your peace.
Its not the terrorists, thats becoming a joke now. An excuse to steal the freedom that rich fat bastards have hated having to grant us. Even worse or the cretins whose only goal is to be one of those rich fat cats who blindly slug their fellows instituting their policies, looking for a dollop of spilled gravy.
We enjoy living in fear. We're comfortable with it. We miss it when its gone. So we let the ultra rich rape and slaughter foreign lands, make the world hate us, make the down trodden we have more and more in common with every day our enemies.
We did it in Nicaragua. American Can and Fruit were making a killing. So we supported them by propping up a government that tortured and starved its people. The rich had solid gold telephones Nichael Whelan
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Michael Whelan
while the workers lived in fields and ate grubs for dinner. The ones lucky enough to work for the American companies endured conditions that our forefathers fought and defeated at Matewan, Detroit, Virginia and Kentucky. Sadly they only got a victory they didn't destroy the rich cats who wanted to take it away from us.
Freedom is easy. You just have to fight and win and then never lose. Someone said that about a slave revolt.
So in Nicaragua the Sandinistas had a revolution so that they might not die and live with dignity. And when they won we decided they were communists . . . And we made the workers, the poor people are now our enemy when they weren't. When there is no reason for them to be. We let the rich win.
That makes me feel that sometimes there is just too much world.
I had a good day today too.
The Last Man On Earth My walk went nothing as planned. It was better.
I took my puppy and my giant dog. Giant dog is huge but timid. When we started off he suddenly went berserk. I even had to turn off the iPod!
He's always going crazy so I didn't pay too much attention. My puppy's new habit is to go over and check whatever makes "the boys" act up. Her interest was perked so I went to see, with some small trepidations over finding some dead thing or . . . What I found was an empty 5 gallon water bottle blowing and banging against a rod in the ditch. It was pretty clean so I picked it up and we walked to the store where I turned it in for a ten buck deposit!
Little makes a day better than found money.
We used the bucks to buy our friend some beer, for a light socket to repair a lamp, and a pepperoni for all the pups.
We even got to go into the liquor store together! I am still won't to take the dogs in me wherever I go.
Another great way to make a day is too to a minor electrical repair and have it turn out well - no sparks, smoke or intense ozone smell.
I repaired an old lamp . . . I don't care. it was fun and thinking about how pleased my friend would be made it better.
The only negative was that the big loud hot movie, "The Machine Girl" was a let down. I don't have a Japanese school girl fetish so the idea of a heroine killing people and flashing her panties didn't really inspire me.
The movie is way over the top. Six gallons of blood per minute pumping out of a severed arm doesn't disturb me, but here, it actually bored me. The movie has no core, so soul. Most of the jokes are predicated on the basis that you've seen too many Japanese TV dramas, too many Cheesy Japanese films (like "The Girls Rebel Force Of Competitive Swimmers".
I was expecting something more subversive, more creative.
Ben Black Elk
Click images for desktop size: "Ben Black Elk" by Unknown
The two femme leads were pleasant to look at but they weren't very good fighters. They often looked clumsy. The gore was not good looking and it appeared that they went for the humorous aspect of it, ala "Robocop" because they didn't have the budget or the expertise to make it thrilling or shocking.
Its not a movie I'd have been excited to discover on my own (like "Duel:Aragami"), like a cult klazzik (like "Guinea Pig Flowers Of Evil"). It was just a bit of overt mess that didn't even entertain. It only bored.
What a disappointment.
The new broadband has not kicked in yet. I still have worries about the new independent provider being decent.
I'm not sure why this preys on my mind so. The present provider is one of the worlds worst at bandwidth shaping. I've always believed that the little guy can do better than the monopolies. Maybe because it seems like such an essential service that is still so delicate and prone to grievous errors. I'm committed so anyway, so we'll see.

May 29, 2008

Good lord . . . I know who we are!

Castro Gold Sea by Marcus of Full Reason
Click images for desktop size: "Castro Gold Sea" by Marcus Of Full Reason
Yesterday didn't go anywhere like I'd planned it. That's not a bad thing. Plans going awry let you improvise. Best parts of life come from spontaneous improvisation, I think.
What through me off was discovering that DSL modems now are MAC addressed by the provider. How foolish. It does nothing to benefit the consumer. It just makes it easier to void net The Incredible Shrinking Woman neutrality and do advanced traffic shaping, which are all detrimental to the consumer who is already saddled with a grossly over priced service. Maybe it helps them prevent theft of service some how. I don't really know.
I mean I figured that a better DSL modem would just plug in and that I'd use it and my router until the new DSL service kicked in. Then I could just have a nice seamless transformation. It seems I'll know when the new service kicks in when this one stops working . . . maybe not. The new carrier promises no traffic shaping and guarantees net neutrality. Maybe the old modem will just send the signal on unimpeded. Who knows.
Anyway, since everything connected and was looking right I was flummoxed as to why the internet it said was there was inaccessible. I tested everything before I figured I should try and see if the modem was somehow being blocked. It was. I confirmed it.
I didn't take a nap watching a mediocre movie. (I like mediocre movies almost as much as I like good ones and half as much as I like great ones but only half again as much as I like bad ones. I only loathe movies like "Pirates Of The Caribbean 3" that opened with unnecessary cruelty to a child. Hitchcock, that erstwhile hack, knew 80 years ago you don't harm a child in a movie. It becomes the apogee of emotion in the film. In "Pirates" it was just for the shock and added nothing, except to make me uncomfortable and wonder where this was leading in a kiddy flic.)
The rest of the day was taken up in the house hold junk. Broke, flat before payday. Using credit cards that have been trying to pay down and eradicate to buy essentials, like gasoline and dog supplies.
Marylin Monroe
Click images for desktop size: "Marilyn Monroe"
Had to get the dogs their flea stuff. It had an immediate effect on them. A lot less scratching, except my puppy who has developed a way of running and scratching her tummy with her hind leg . . . she has sores there. I might have to wrap her to let them heal.
My little blind dog has allergies. His scratching may or may not be related to fleas. His blindness was most likely an allergic reaction. He wears clothes to keep him from scratching himself up. He's torn a hole in his side. He bit me when I accidentally touched it. Not hard enough to hurt, just to startle. I guess he was startled.
Like a fool I spent 4 bucks I don't have buying them some dried salmon treats. It never seems like wasting money when its for the dogs or friends.
Then discovered about 2 gallons of vegetarian chili had gone bad. That was planned for dinner and for about the next 3 dinners, so that was a blow. Had plain rice instead. I guess, at least, that's healthy.
The Incredible Shrinking Man - Italian I'm still not sleeping well. Got up twice during the night and still got up for good about an hour before the alarm clock went off. Can't blame the puppies for it this time, even though they enjoyed having me up and around.
The new update for Mac OS X was released yesterday. 10.5.3, which are a lot of numbers to type. I haven't noticed any real improvements so far. It was a large 500 meg update so I assume I'll notice them sooner or later. The main thing I have noticed is that the address Book app (that I use primarily to remember my own phone numbers) now has built in sync service for gmail, Yahoo and the overpriced dot mac service.
One thing that bugs me. Aperture is the Mac pro photo management tool I like it much more than iPhoto, except all the added cameras it supports are the over $1,000 ones! Which means my little low end Fuji RAW pix have to be handled through LightRoom. I still use Aperture for the jpg's I shoot with my little compact Olympus and I like it plenty for that. Except I am such a poor photographer, in every way, that I need the tools and exposure latitude in RAW files to get an image that's viewable (except for that happenstance good pic I sometimes take).
I dislike this money based elitism Apple is showing here. Part of the hassle is that the camera manufactures all use a different standard for the mosaic RAW format. But the issue is also that Apple keeps the reading of image files as part of the OS infrastructure. In some ways this is a superior method in terms of speed and color management, but it means guys like me who can only get our little cameras are treated like second class citizens.
I never thought I'd be grateful to Adobe to be able to see my pictures that way I dream of them being. By Eric Drudwin
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Eric Drudwin
(We can forget about me trying to take better pictures. I try and learn but I seldom even think of taking a picture when I'm looking at something, then when I do remember its in such a rush panic that its amazing I get anything. I depend on software tricks to get something good looking or at least visible!)
As for today, I want to take a long walk with my dogs. I need it to take out the pain and kinks in my body and maybe to wear myself out enough to sleep.
And I plan to watch "The Machine Girl" and watch it at an obscene volume level. Its the new Japanese flic that's hot right now. About a girl who loses an arm when her family is murdered by yakuza ninjas (!). She has the arm replaced with a machine gun! School girl murderess!
Its supposed to be colossally funny and supremely gory. Just the way we like 'em.

May 28, 2008

So exactly what kind of fool am I, again?

Click images for desktop size: "Kabaret Poster" by Unknown
I heard someplace that a definition of insanity is to repeat the same actions over and over again and always expecting a different result . . . I think that sort of mean we're all insane in one way or another. A realization most of us have about the time we turn thirteen, or shortly after that time when we start being interested in girls (or boys).
The Black Sleep But if we're all a touch insane I'd guess that madness is the norm . . . and that would explain why we need so many definitions for insanity. And it would explain why there's so many fascinating books about it. Not just text books either. Its nice to read about ourselves and then if it gets uncomfortable to be able to say that its really not us but some alien thing that lives far over there, behind a tall fence. Preferably electrified.
The legal definition of insanity is, I think, the dullest. Does he know the difference between right and wrong. It harkens back to the Spanish Inquisition and that odd determination that man was born with an instinctive knowledge of god. If he weren't he was a heretic or worse.
For a guy like Jeffrey Dahmer killing and eating your one night stands was exactly the right thing to do. Not eating them was wrong.
Charles Schmidt, mad teenager, picked up two girls and murdered them out of boredom. He couldn't even properly bury the evidence. He left one girls sneakered foot sticking out of her shallow grave. Digging holes tried his patience. To not tell his friends about his crime was wrong to him. It seemed right to his teen friends about it so they could go out and look at the rotting corpses. To them to tell an adult about it or a cop would have been wrong.
Right and wrong seem like a sticky wicket to me. It depends on what most of us have been taught. Like in Charles Schmidt's case all those teens who went and had a beer over the bodies of their old friends was right and within the teen community not ratting out Charlie was the right thing to do.
The clinical/"committ that sucker" definition bothers me too. "Presents a danger to himself and/or others". Jesus Christ was divine, all powerful but he allowed people to scourge him and then crucify him. That's certainly putting yourself in danger but no one would call Christ insane. Every time someone speeds down a Surf - Creostock
Click images for desktop size: "Longboard At Sunser" by Richard Clark
residential street they present a clear danger to kids but you can't or at least don't call them insane. Even drunk drivers don't get treated like lunatics.
This is why I took two philosophy classes in school and then transfered to Calculus. Math was easier on my brain . . .
Contrary to hopes or maybe expectations, I'm not going insane. At least not more so than usual. Its just that once again contrary to common sense or sanity I've done something stupid again.
When I'm unwell I push myself hard until either I break or whatever is bothering me breaks.
I think I always lose these contests.
Walking 9 miles, doing all the yard work has pushed me past the limit. I ache all over and feel worse than being sick . . .
Today the plan is to not be unsane. To take the day off and let my body heal.
My goals for today are to take a walk with my puppies, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame not a death march but just a walk to the pet store to get flea junk. Fleas are most definitely insane because I say so.
I expect the new DSL modem to be delivered today so I'll hook that up. I've had about 10 hours sleep the past 3 days, can't remember before that, so I'll put on a "good" movie and hope to fall asleep in the middle of it.
And that's it.
This will enable me to go back to my eccentric orbit tomorrow of accomplishing more than any two people could ever dream . . . At least that's what I tell myself. We all have to tell ourselves stuff like that once in a while or we might stop being human.
I wonder if the new modem will work as transparently as I hope.

May 27, 2008

Did it make you mean, Tom? Did prison make you mean?
John Steinbeck

Ancient Japanese Art
Click images for desktop size: "Ancient Japanese Art"
Awakened at 4 a.m. by my little blind dog. He was in need. Stayed up to nurse him. He's had four bad days in a row.
As long as he gets excited by going on walks. As long as he keeps getting into trouble; keeps eating, I'm not going to be too worried about him. Just need to stay aware he's got some needs. Sunset Blvd I have to be careful to listen to him.
Wish I could be that cognizant of everything else that goes on around me.
I have come to a realization. I think I can survive without any RIAA controlled music. Most of you know my attitude about the RIAA, and how they've gone from setting the standards for vinyl record EQ to being the nastiest most corrupt business men on the planet. A national disgrace and working hard to be a planetary sham.
They don't control music though. They're actually pretty easy to side step. Anyone can record their music. There's even an on-line free recording studio. I haven't tested it but you can make your music somehow and get it out there.
Much different from my day . . . (man, that sounds old) when you either had to come up with the cash for a recording studio or be willing to build your own gear (my solution) then come up with another $500 bucks to master and stamp out 250 CD's (or 500 vinyl albums). You could either sell them at your gigs or hustle them to the local record shops.
It as its own kind of fun.
The thing is that music we make ourselves, its not controlled by the RIAA. BMI and ASCAP have as much say and they're difficult groups you need to belong to but they're not as predatory.
Its a lot more difficult to sidestep the growing obnoxiousness of the MPAA. They have a pretty solid monopoly. They don't get busted for it because politico's need celebrity endorsements.
I mean, you can go out and make your own movie but you can't get it shown at any of the big theaters. They'll only book stuff that's been given the MPAA rating seal, which means you have to surrender your baby to them. Ditto for going to the independent distributors. You need the seal. I've been involved in enough of those movies to have seen it too many times.
I guess the MPAA can point to the porno industry. Before video took it over Joe by Avatar Palin
Click images for desktop size: "Joe" by Avatar Palin
their used to be an entire distribution network for porn and porn theaters. Then they can point to the Film Festivals as the alternative. Of course, most guys go to the Festivals hoping to pick up a big distributor and an MPAA seal.
They can point to George Romero and Sam Rami. Rami, with the weight of Dino DeLaurentus got "Evil Dead 2" shown without the MPAA seal. Romero, with the weight of Dario Argento and massive box office receipts stayed independent and got "Dawn of the Dead" into theaters without dealing with the MPAA.
Those are the only examples I can think of off hand. Most people can't afford to risk the money tied up in their movies this way. Selling your movie to a chain of movie theaters is too hard without the seal. The booking agents won't look at it. They can't afford to take the risk or the time.
Swamp Thing Sounds like restraint of trade if you were talking making shoes or shirts.
Since tape came into its own there's been a side industry of "direct to video". Interesting things sometimes but most often a dumping ground for stuff that couldn't get a distributer. Its different in the rest of the world, until it comes to American movies, of course. Seeing something at home or on the computer just isn't the same thing at all.
But anyway I realized that 95% of the stuff I listen to is not RIAA product. In fact I can live without the RIAA. (I'll see how strong that resolve is when the new Alkaline Trio comes out next month . . . )
Maybe if I avoid RIAA product even more bands will follow Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails and get their music out there without the onerous threat of the rip off artists.
For me its easy. I think The Come On's "Dollar In My Pocket" is a sensational track. The RIAA may not care about the quality of their product but there's nothing that they've got in their catalog that can compare to this sweet not vacant number.
Dave Wronski is a world glass guitarist. His version of "For A Fistful Of Dollars" may run afoul of Morricone's publishers but that doesn't stop this from being a great stomping instrumental. You can listen to it and dance and feel free because your not supporting the corrupt tone deaf jerks.
That's going to be my solution anyway. At least until the world wakes up and lets music be for the people again. For the musicians and the band fags and the fans.
My strategy might fail but I won't be missing much.
Marvel Universe by Marvel Comics
Click images for desktop size: "Marvel Universe" by Marvel Comics
I've ordered the new cheaper DSL service. It'll go into effect next week. I'm nervous about it.
It took some juggling of credit cards and cash. Decided to go piece meal about it. Partially for money reasons. You have to pay the whole year in advance . . . and partially out of good old fashioned American fear.
Cutting off the land line and going straight into VOIP is scary when you've little idea of just how decent the connection will be.
I had Vonage when I had cable broadband. I was happy with it. Happy enough anyway. But then i had a decent totally tweaked 7mbs connection. Even then, sometimes the phone connection was lousy. It did restrict what you could do on the internet. With the drain on bandwidth, both on the network and the internet with the AppleTV its one of those things you need to experiment with.
One positive is I get to install my own router. The phone company provides a really lousy router built into the DSL modem. Its near impossible to bridge without a lot of firmware flashing.
The Big Sleep I'd expect the network to perform better. This router provides 58% signal strength with 8% noise level AT BEST in a straight line of site 14 foot distance! Usually it falls below that. My Linksys router generally gets 80% and 2% noise at 30 feet through walls!
The DSL is at 5mps. Nothing will make that get better.
But if I suddenly vanish for a while and don't answer emails even worse than I do now don't take it personally . . .
Just imagine me suffering over my sudden inability to communicate in my usual mumbling sputtery way.

May 26, 2008

Crying love at the heart of the universe
Chyun Lee Wrether

Haunted House by Hybrid Works
Click images for desktop size: "Haunted Hotel" by Hybrid Works
I walked 9 miles yesterday. Took me two and a half hours. Not too bad considering all the hills.
This wasn't planned. I started out just planning to get a cup of coffee. Coffee has balms to ease the ravished spirit and mend the bruised ego.
I must live in the only neighborhood in the world that doesn't have a Starbucks every two blocks. Maybe I should open one. Sadismo I was sure I'd seen a coffee joint somewhere. The two I found were closed. Maybe because it was Sunday. Maybe because it was before noon. So I kept looking.
I noticed that my arms became very heavy. It felt like they were dislocating at the shoulder. My hands cramped badly, painfully. It was odd. Not what I'm used to when I walk.
There were a lot of cars on the road, and a lot of cars in the church parking lots (made me miss living in the bible belt - I owned the streets and stores from 10 am until 1 p.m. every Sunday) but only one other person walking. Fortunately he was memorable.
It was about 70 out and sunny. Pretty pleasant. He was not wearing a shirt and he had on levi cut offs. He had the whitest skin I'd ever seen on a man or woman. (In my entire life no one has ever said I had gorgeous so white skin . . . ) What made it more remarkable is that he was totally buffed out. Like most guys doing their own work out plan the buff was all upper body. He had sad skinny white legs.
It made his chest and delts look huge. Maybe that was the intended effect. His six pack had the smeary effect I usually attribute to using one of those electric pads (The equivalent of 10,000 crunches just by wearing our safe and painless . . . )
He must have been waiting for the first sunny day so he could walk around and show off his wintery body work. I thought about suggesting he hit a tanning salon but thought better of it. I just said, "Hey. Look fit."
He smiled and said, "And I did it all myself!" Which I thought was an odd comment but before I'd come up with a response better than, "Huh?" we'd passed each other.
I never did find a place to get Hi-Q coffee. Ended up at Taco Bell and got a half dozen vegetarian tacos for 7 bucks. That's a taco with beans instead of meat filling. Like a bean burrito wrapped in a corn tortilla. Josephine by A Rodriguez
Click images for desktop size: "Josephine" by A Rodriguez
Their profit and loss statement must love people ordering them. They'll make them for you if you ask. I don't like them but my friend does. When I got home found out they'd shorted me one. I tried to eat the last one. It was soggy and not too good. But she ate 4 of them and that's who they were for.
Spent the rest of the day feeling sore.
Did yard work and tinkered with tools. The dogs hate when I do yard work with power tools. I make them stay outside and they are totally convinced I'll do myself some serious damage if I don't have a dog to watch over me.
After I took my puppy and my little blind dog to the store to get a Diet Dr Pepper. Whenever I think my little blind dog is doing well he shows me he isn't. He was overjoyed, as usual, Sudden Danger to get to go on a walk. He was dancing along when he walked straight into a concrete lamp post. He staggered for a nano second and then began sniffing the post like nothing at all had happened and just had a great time driving me nuts the rest of the way. Before on the store walk I've had to carry him part of the way. Today he had to stop to catch his breath but eagerly continued on. He loves me. My puppy loves me. Although they both think I'm stingy.
Watched a couple of forgettable movies after starting two others that seemed too good to watch by myself. Then I collapsed into a black sleep. Woken by dogs telling me it was time. Found I'd stretched my legs out full to fight the fatigue and cramping. I'd stuck my feet under the foot rail and was clearly using it too stretch the muscles in my battered legs.

May 25, 2008

What foul wind blows from the cradle to this
Samuel Coleridge

Foundation by Rodney Matthews
Click images for desktop size: "Foundation" by Rodney Matthews
One of the worst parts of some chemo or radiation treatments is if all your hair falls out.
Its unnerving. It disarms you and leaves you feeling defenseless against the coming onslaughts.
Rise And Fall Of Legs Diamond I thought about that when I was down by the train tracks. I was going to crush pennies. See if I could remember why, when I was a kid, crushing pennies under train tracks had seemed so special.
I liked the way the pennies would get all flat and retain just a slight memory of what a penny used to look like. It never worked on nickels or dimes. I never tried it on a quarter. Too much money to a kid for experimenting. Too much money for me now to throw away.
I'm sure you've done it. You line some coins up on the rail and wait for a train. Then you shudder and grit your teeth while the train wheels ka-clop over your little trap. After it passes you search between the ties for the squashed metal.
You never told your mom about this flattened treasure. She;d kill you if she knew you were playing on the train tracks . . . again.

May 23, 2008

He's raining in my sunshine

5 cm By Kabegami
Click images for desktop size: "5 cm per Second" by Kabegami
Feeling better today.
Funny I feel worse when I wake up. Then wear down during the day only to pick up after a dosage of Vitamin C. Maybe I'm addicted to Vitamin C? Do junkies wake up with "the hunger"? Could be worse, I guess.
Duo Shai While I was working and being sick I got to listen to a lot of music. It set me off on an odd reverie. I wondered if it would be preferable to be some forgettable dork like whatever guy won the American Idol mess, go out there, make a pile of cash and then be forgotten or remembered quizzically like an off color joke. Or if it would better to just be in a band that gets better and better until you're playing in front of audiences of 500 and every person leaves the club thinking this was one of the best nights of their lives, or at least of the year.
Pretty obvious where I come down. To pick the other would be saying that my life was a failure.
I'm no failure.
I want a guitar. Can't afford one. Even a cheap one (Never buy a new guitar, especially acoustic.)
Even when I tell myself its just for my own amusement, to sing and play to the dogs and my friends, I know that if I ever get through a song without my hands failing me I'll start thinking I should get into a band.
If one of these friends can sing along and harmonize then I'll become determined, then if I meet a guy who can keep a good rhythm pounding on the kitchen table then the search will start for a bass player and the next thing I know it'll be 4 am and we're looking at 500 bucks in wet bills and after paying the bar tab and gas we're stuck trying to figure out how to divide 87 dollars 5 ways. (do they always pay the band with whatever bills got particularly spilled on that night? Or do they think bands only like soggy money? Or did the bass player drop the bills on the way from the managers office on the way to the stage? Mysteries of music 102.)
Threads Of Desire by K Horne
Click images for desktop size: "Threads of Desire" by K Horne
I didn't get to watch any movies. What's the point of being sick if you can't watch a lot of movies. I kept drifting off to sleep every time I'd sit and try and watch one.
There's a lot to do to get caught back up. lots of fretting to do, emails to write.
I did see that they're actually running a dog and pony show in congress. Feels like a joke. Politicians looking stern and asking the "hard" questions right before election year. Congress asked oil execs how much they make a year. One guy claimed over 12 million a year. A couple of others said they didn't know . . .
I wonder if they'll investigate the two who didn't know for perjury. Do to them what they're doing to Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. I mean its pretty clear cut. They sign their tax forms. They get W-2's. They know but don't want to say seems like a good bet.
They won't bust them for perjury. In fact I'd expect the only thing that will happen is that the exec's who are only making 2 million a year are going to demand raises. Makes you wonder what power lust made Bush give up that kind of cash to make a measly low 6 figures a year.
Rififi Since the oil companies made the "compelling" argument that the past 20 years of record gas prices are the only hedge they have to when they aren't making record profits . . . or something like that.
They said they make billions in profit but they need that to continue to make billions in profits. I figure congress will buy off on that, especially in an election year when they need those campaign dollars.
Still it was nice to hear politicians claiming they're looking out for their constituents. None of them seemed to bothered, personally, by high gas prices.
I also saw a rather cool series of photos. A Chinese wedding photographer was working during the earthquake. He got these poetic images of the bridal party suddenly wrapped in one of the worst cataclysms in Chinese history.
The sheer fact that he didn't just drop the camera and run for his life seems to indicate, to me at least, that he deserves some sort of international award. Certainly better than just a posting on his blog.
They're those sort of happenstance pictures that makes a tragedy real and more than just incomprehensible numbers.
Certainly worth a click to see.
And now. Onward. Or something like that.

May 22, 2008

And so

By Frank Melech
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Frank Melech
One of my major fears has been realized.
I've gotten a cold . . .
I'm never sure if its the chemo or the leukemia that thrashed my immune system but colds hit me pretty hard.
I'm only running a 101 temperature. In the past its gotten as high as 104.5. My normal temp, post chemo, is about 97.5. I think I'm keeping it low now thanks to my vitamin C voodoo.
Revolt Of The Slaves I forced myself to do a lot of hard physical work yesterday. Almost finished answering kids emails. I feel worse today, more likely due to only a few hours of sleep than due to a failure of massive dosages of vitamin C or to trying to do too much.
Working gives me a sense of security, that I'm not letting these diseases take over my life. Its stupid but its important to me. I actually pay more attention to details. If I relax a bit the work becomes trash but . . . In the past I was told that doing physical labour wasn't dangerous. I'm going to hold the doc's to that.
I'm going to shower. I'm pretty disgusting. I'm hoping that the steam and getting the layer of vile off of me will give me the boost to commit to my work today.
Yesterday I couldn't even watch any movies! Couldn't concentrate on stupid gory zombie flics.
How sick is that?
Its been confirmed that drinking coffee raises the blood sugars . . . how cruel is nature?

May 20, 2008

Sadness is often the mistress of wisdom

Alone In London By Graham Thomas
Click images for desktop size: "Alone In London" by Graham Thomas
I'm slowly recovering from the onslaught of emails congratulating my puppy on surviving me for nearly 3 years . . .
I'm sorry if I've not gotten back to you. My puppy got nearly 200 emails and many of them can't be answered with just a form letter. I'm not really sorry but I'll say I am; kids always take priority over ay-dults.
[rec] In a similar vein I deleted 8,500 comments yesterday . . . I was trying to go through and check for any real comments but, as usual, after about 15 minutes and 500 spam comments I accidentally hit the delete all button . . . I don't really regret it. I'm sorry if your comment was lost due to my ennui.
Deleting comments, ignoring emails . . . I guess I'm just incommunicado . . .
One question seems to predominate . . . 3 people asked. What is the best form of martial art . . . running always comes to my mind first. Running really really fast is definitely the best defense.
Working on running really fast will get you in shape, help you lose weight and clear up your complexion. You will be a babe magnet.
When you can't run for whatever reason . . . I have to wonder why my opinion matters on this but I'm used to spouting off opinions and having them taken as fact when I really have no basis to be an authority on much of anything. That said, I've always thought for learning to do the most damage in the least amount of time, kick boxing, muay thai, is an effective martial art. To get to the level of being deadly takes as much time as any other martial art, but if you're just being harassed by a bully or something, than kick boxing can give you a solid basis in about 3 months (if you apply yourself).
For the others I think aikido is beautiful. The whole "sphere of influence" philosophy with all the wrist locks and gentle throws has a nice grace. Unlike most martial arts that believe that anyone insane enough to physically attack must be destroyed as totally and quickly as possible aikido is Betty Page By Bernel
Click images for desktop size: "Betty Page" by Bernel
most concerned with stopping them with as little damage as can be needed.
(Don't pay much attention to the stuff Steven Seagal does in his movies. He's cool and fast but I've never seen any aikido masters fight like that.)
As to the others, in full contact fighting (kumite) and sparring its really difficult to see much difference between the different schools. (Talking empty handed fighting and not including boxing which is still a sport with clearly defined rules). For long term health and well being I'd pick Wing Chung Kung Fu. Its excellent for health and fitness and remember its where Bruce Lee started. (forget the movies, has there yet been a better fighter than Bruce Lee?)
For mental and physical discipline, Shotokan Karate. Mr Oshima, my teacher, looks 30 while he's 60. He's as calm and gentle a person as you can imagine. He could possibly kick hell out of your entire gang but would genuinely prefer not to. Bushido.
Return To Horror High One advantage to Shotokan is that its the only martial arts school out there that is still run as a not for profit. Its affordable, cheap even, some classes in universities are free. I know of several guys doing work around the dojo because they can't afford to pay for classes.
Any of the JKA schools in karate are good and well regulated. They also offer all those crazy color belts. Americans like crazy colors and they like visible signs of how much better they are than you.
I don't like weapons based schools like escrima and kendo. Weapons . . . if you forget your gun your pretty well done with this fight and are back to running very very fast. Which is what you should be working on anyway . . .

I did get to start a new serial, "Zorro's Fighting Legion". Its a "klazzik" serial. The first chapter was very cool. It starts with an elegant speech from Jaurez, Mexico's first President. Jaurez is given a sense of gravitas and sorrow that the movies usually reserve for Abraham Lincoln. Its a fantastic performance.
Also in his 2 minute speech he explained international economics more clearly and concisely than I'd ever known was possible.
That all this beautiful rhetoric is needed to set up a bunch of indian attacks, bad guys and schemes is to its credit!
Zorro is cool. Great costume, and he fights with a bull whip. I'd never heard of Reed Hadley before. He's awesome as Zorro. Tall thin, rides well, and sword fights better. He's awesome with the whip!
It will be cool to see if the rest of the serial can keep up with the level of this first one. The only caveat is that for a story set in Mexico about Mexicans there's not a single Hispanic in sight . . .
Drumlin By Ben Schlitter
Click images for desktop size: "Drumlin" by Ben Schlitter

I also recently finished a V.I. Warshawski novel. I've lost faith with the series.
Warshawski is a great character and Sara Paretsky is a good writer, but the plots have become surprisingly hackneyed. Its like reading a novel based on the Sid Field's school of scripting. Its the exact same situations with the exact same resolutions. Very disappointing to see talent squandered this way.
Laundry, lawn mower repair and yard work on the agenda today. That and hammering out the details of making the big and scary ISP switch. I realize I need the internet. I guess so I can be a bad communicator and pen pal . . .

May 19, 2008

The End Of Violence

Fireleaf By Stag
Click images for desktop size: "Fire Leaf" by Stag
This weekend it was pointed out that I have a bad temper. I know I do. Its a flash-on flash-off sort of bad temper. For a moment I'm enraged and then the next moment I've pretty well forgotten what I was mad about.
It was the sort of rage that lasted just long enough to bust through the defensive line and get to the secondary. So as a teen my behavior was tacitly encouraged. Phantom From Space Some coaches didn't care about me or any player beyond what we bought into a winning equation.
It wasn't until college that I was able to put most of my demons behind me and see the game of football and my life as something real and beautiful.
But even a brief mention of my temper made me think of something dark. Its a secret I've kept for a lot of years. Its something I've ashamed of, even though its not an willful act or something to be this ashamed of. Its like hitting a squirrel in your car. But it affected me.
Its ancient history. I was walking the dogs. It was a day when the santanas were blowing hard and there was no surf to take advantage of it. While walking I found a baby bird that had fallen from its nest. Blown from its home. My big female Belgian actually found it and whimpered at me until I picked it up.
I looked around some but couldn't see anything that looked remotely like a nest. I couldn't return it to its home so I took it home with me.
It was a tiny brutally ugly thing, all pink, closed eyes. I called my vet and he told me to feed it a mixture of milk, honey and Gerber's pablum. He also said I'd have to feed the thing every three hours . . .
I drove down the hill and got the ingredients and an eye dropper. For the next month plus I feed the little thing. It just kept getting uglier it seemed to me. I mean this deformed pink body soon got covered with these glossy, mucous looking unattractive yellow quills. I was lucky they didn't feel as gross as they looked.
Soon the quills opened into scraggly looking feathers, the bright yellow beak, its best feature at the time, became a mottled black thing that could hurt you when it pecked at you hungry for food.
I couldn't imagine a mother bird ever finding something like this beautiful, Flower Sisters By Tarah Haack
Click images for desktop size: "Flower Sisters" by Tarah Haack
but they do and spend all their time hunting for food to feed the ugly things.
I was having my normal sleep issues so the waking every 3 hours to feed the demanding thing didn't bother me too much, if at all. In short order I had a young common sparrow, female. She turned that nice dusky brown. She was fine and healthy. She learned to fly on her own. All over the house. Her droppings were hard little pellets and were easy to clean up. Which is lucky in a house with 3 dogs, two rabbits (who lived outside of their cages), a cockatoo and a two year old boy.
It was a big day when it came time to release her. I took her out in the back yard and watched her fly up high and then turn and fly right back into the house . . .
I took her outside again and this time closed the door. Her response was to dive bomb me, and tangle her feet into my hair. She clearly wasn't going anywhere.
Possession For a couple of weeks I stayed outside with her, trying to get her to acclimate to being outside. I hoped she'd met a nice male sparrow and fly off. She liked darting around the lemon and orange trees but she wasn't going to leave. If I made any moves she was on me like a shot.
I soon grew fond of having a pet wild bird.
She was a nice addition to the household. She ate bird seed and fruit, liked to watch us work. When I'd come home she'd fly up to me sit on my shoulder and then climb into my shirt pocket, turn her self around in there until she could poke her head out. Then she spent the evening having me walk around while she cheeped at the world.
At night she would come and rustle her feathers and sleep on my chest.
That's where the trouble was. Even know 20 years later I still think I should have made her sleep in a cage but she'd lived with us like this for nearly 2 years and and and a whole lot of other justifications I have.
In my sleep I rolled over one night and crushed her.
She was dead and by my hand. I'm still haunted trying to remember what I did in my sleep. I loved my little wild bird who'd picked me for its mama.
There are very few things that I am responsible for that have devastated me like the death of the little bird. I was inconsolable. I blamed myself which makes being inconsolable even harsher.
I probably should have gone to grief therapy. I missed her flying into my pocket. I missed her hovering over the stove, looking for a cool spot to watch me cook. I missed her bringing me little bits of paper or string.
You could say I was being prepared Full Metal Alchemist By Mota
Click images for desktop size: "Full Metal Alchemist" by Mota
for a greater tragedy that was coming but I didn't know that.
All I knew was that I had killed something I loved. And hated that feeling. I hated what I had done.
Since I didn't consider a shrink. I went to martial arts. It was an outlet I'd used before. Sometimes as a mode of controlling my temper, sometimes just as a physical release.
The first one I tried was Aikido. Too much sitting around in zazen position and meditating. It hurt my knees and meditation didn't help me do anything except fall asleep.
While I admired a martial art that had no attacks, only defense it wasn't for me. So next I tried Tae Kawn Do. I liked the violent explosion of it and all the kicks. I was a good size to be effective with it. It just made me better at being violent. It seemed to have no under pinning other than quickly and effectively destroying an opponent. That could have just been my instructor, I don't know.
I played around with various forms of kung fu. I liked it but wasn't a good size for it. I wasn't effective at it as much as I admired its beauty I sort of sucked. I'm not used to not being great at physical things.
This time I listened to my buddy Tom and went Private Hell to Shotokan karate. He thought it would help assuage my grief and rein me in.
Since Tom is still the most violent person I ever knew I had always had doubts before. Tom's idea of restraint was counting to one before he punched you. I was feeling so bad I went to a class.
The funny thing about Shotokan karate was its strong underpinning in history. The school was founded by Guichin Funakoshi, the guy who invented karate in Okinawa. My teacher was one of his original students.
The class was more miserable than two a days finished with nut cracker drills.
We would throw a punch 1,000 times. Do a horse stance for over an hour. The attitude was that the body had to be exhausted so that the mind left the equation and you became total reflex.
It works.
It also worked for me and managed to take my mind off the death of my little bird. I even got used to the idea that there were women fighters who could easily take my head off.
I went to a special training. A four day regime of hell. The day started with a five mile run, barefoot along gravel roads. The highlight was the day of 10,000 kicks and 10,000 katas. Which were exactly what they sounded like.
And the teacher explaining things to us in a calm patient tone. Philosophical things, talks about combat and how to avoid it. He spoke to me personally. I don't think I've ever been so befriended by someone who had less ulterior motive.
It wasn't enough to make me forget my little bird but it let me come to grips with it. To deal with it.
It made me do everything I could to not hurt things that I loved. It made me more cautious with the things and people I loved.
I still have not forgiven myself. Maybe one I can be that strong.

May 18, 2008

Just stand right about there

Electrogoth by Envy
Click images for desktop size: "Electrogoth" by Envy
Since I've had access to the AppleTV i haven't even turned on a DVD player . . . odd that.
It makes me realize the importance of senses and the anthropological psychology of our senses.
Like we've all allowed to have rather lousy memories for sounds. We've all had a friend who we thought had died because we kept hearing the same song pour out of his bed room window, over and over again.
Night Of Bloody Horror When you finally break in you find out there was nothing wrong. He just dug the tune. Couldn't get enough of it.
Or we've gotten into a car with a friend who played the same track over and over again, all the way to wherever you two were going and you were probably glad it wasn't any further.
If we'd evolved with auditory memory that matched our visual memory we wouldn't be able to do that.
Its like you can listen to a live concert of your fave band a few times without even blinking, but you'd be hard pressed to watch a video of the same show more than once or twice. You'd get bored and relate to editing gaffes instead of watching. Most often you'd end up reading and listening, or looking at anything except the image.
Its part of the power of paintings and photographs I guess, the ability to take you someplace, someplace new or the same familiar place, each time you gaze at a painting even though you know every pixel of the painting by heart. There's more than a certain genius to that, or else we'd all live in bare walled holes.
Our sense of smell is pretty terrible and we only seem to recall smells that are bad or great - a cess pool or your mom's cooking. Even though scents have a way of bringing up a bigger and wider range of emotional responses from us that come closer to re-experiencing the reality of a moment, of all moments connected to a scent.
And touch? Unless its connected to pleasure or pain who remembers a touch. Its why we can do all those cool nasty tricks with peeled grapes and things at Halloween.
All of that is why I don't get to stressed about my little blind dog sitting happily two inches from a wall, apparently staring at it happily.
Untitled by Frank Frazetta
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Frank Frazetta
With as much effort as we put into communicating with aliens from outer space we don't put much time into communicating with the aliens we share the planet with. John Lilly, a cool enough guy, is the only one I know of who's tried to talk to dolphins.
Dolphins need talking to. There are legends about dolphins rescuing drowning people at sea. Every surfer has a story about some dolphin harassing or playing with them.
(Mine involved the dolphin with a nasty sense of humor. I was on dawn patrol when I saw a gray fin break the water line and come rushing at me. I pulled my feet up on the board and was getting ready to punch the shark in the nose . . . I read in a comic book or saw on TV about how sharks had real sensitive noses and you could not them out with the right punch! The fin submerged. I looked around fearfully and waited for panic when my board was suddenly capsized from underneath. I thought I was fish meat. When I broke the surface the dolphin was up there laughing at me. Laughing at me . . . he spent the day catching Night Of The Lepus every wave I caught and being a real pain in the neck. He seemed to love it best when he could cut me off and create a wipe out . . .)
There an animal with intelligence, at least as much intelligence as the gorillas who've communicate pretty effectively with sign language.
We don't pay much attention to this except as freak show stuff, like the tic tac toe playing chicken. I think it makes us uncomfortable. We're not a very secure species, still clinging to the worries of survival and junk like it. We relate to animals best when we feel comfortably superior and can easily humanize them, at least to our conscious minds.
It seems easy to love something we are in total control of and can give ambiguous human traits to. Its a bit harder to love something that is alien to us. Like a dog.
When my little blind dog stares at the wall with a happy grin on his snuffling face he might not see the wall but I imagine he's got a world of other things to get so lost in. Smells that I can't guess at but that tell him stories and sing him songs. I'm sure he can hear noises that ell him absorbing dog stories, or else why is he so easy to startle when I call to him.
He likes to stay close to me because the other dogs don't tread on him. I'm the for sure alpha dog around this house anyway.
He knows I'm the source for food and pets. And in some canine way he loves me. That doesn't mean the blind little guy doesn't try and escape at every given opportunity. Not to run away but to go find new smells and to hear new things.
This is all the junk you think about on a rainy Sunday morning. Nasty cold day so that even the dogs don't want to go outside.
I need to heal. I think I've been tearing my body up pretty badly with all the yard work. My hamstrings are singing off key Feeling My Age
Click images for desktop size: "Feeling My Age" by Anonymous
arias to my calves and my hands are clenching and cramping begging to rest.
So it might be just time to watch a lot of movies. Consider finances.
I going to move the house internet connection from the monster monopoly phone company to an independent ISP . . . I'm nervous about this. The internet is the way I communicate, get information and survive and function, I think. Since were doing that we're also going to dump the land line and go to VOIP. I had Vonage before. The service was a tick better than acceptable. It would have been fine except the customer service department were the biggest jerks ever. Sales people should not be called customer service. It bothers me when I understand a tech better than the paid employees who are supposed to trouble shoot the problem, and keep wanting me to buy more services when I struggling with the existing services, The People That Time Forgot but maybe this time it will be okay.
I have to figure out finances. Its a logistical issue with my credit cards and cash availalbe. Th savings become significant if I pay for a year in advance. I mean like over a grand for the year significant. But its hard to come up with the front money. Got to figure it out. Which isn't that big a deal. I just hope the service works well enough.
Other than that I plan to watch movies and sleep during most of the boring bits. I still haven't ordered or rented a movie through the AppleTV. It looks easy enough and maybe its time to try. The 99 cent movie special this week is "The Usual Suspects", which is entertaining enough and my eyes are bad enough to not remember enough of it so its a thought. Of course when I've got about 100 movies I haven't seen yet renting one just to check out the tech is a bit frivolous, even if it is only a buck . . .

May 16, 2008

This weapon will revolutionize warfare!

Eith Bit Gaming by Carlos Eduardo
Click images for desktop size: "Eight Bit Gaming" by Carlos Eduardo
I've been to a lot of parties in my life. Mostly for business, at least that's what I told myself.
I've been to parties with A-List celebrities schmoozing in corners, while B-List celebs checked me out to see if I was worth talking to.
I've been at parties where I had no business being there. Adult Triple Feature Where bands with a top ten single played on a tiny stage at the end of a pool, while an actress who was on the cover of that weeks people magazine, where she'd made a splash explaining why she'd never do a nude scene, danced languidly and nude ankle deep in water on the pool steps.
I've even been to a party at the Playboy Mansion, invited by Hefner's wife. We talked about dogs most of the time. My main memory was how they'd managed to find so many attractive young women who wanted to sleep with old. balding and pudgy men.
The better parties were the ones at the beach. Where we sacrificed surfboards for a bonfire and our brain cells to Micky's Big Mouthed Malt Liquor. We debauched ourselves until dawn in a vain hope that we could entice the Hawaiian god Huey to send us some tasty waves.
I've been to parties all over the world. Enjoyed myself in Milan where I was the only person there who didn't speak Italian and no one else spoke more than a phrase or two of English.
I go on about it so you understand that I have some sort of standard to gauge things against so that when I tell you the best party I've ever been to was last night. My best friend and four dogs.
We went to a restaurant and had french fries ala mode . . . My friend and I didn't, the dogs did. One of the pups was misbehaving moderately badly. He was just too cranked up at being outside and the idea of dining al fresco was too much for him. He took it upon himself to act as a guard to keep the gate crashers away. There were several. As they kept coming his voice got higher and shriller till. at the end, he no longer sounded like a giant beast but more like a yapping toy poodle!
My little blind dog took everything in stride. He was happy to be eating. He loves going out and was in full joy mode. He was having so much fun I didn't even think until now Dolls By Luis Royo
Click images for desktop size: "Dolls" by Luis Royo
how sad it is that he no longer has the endurance to take long walks around town.
The "Angel Dog" was delighted to be out and perplexed by it too. He insisted that his dinner be served to him by hand, on a plastic fork thank you. He graciously allowed my puppy to eat his dregs, a revolting looking melange of melted ice cream and brown gravy. My puppy licked it up like it were a special higher grade of ambrosia.
We spent the rest of the evening remembering, looking at souvenirs of the past 3 years. Like my mini-screwdriver set that our foster puppy Noelle chewed up. They still work well enough. My Armani prescription glasses that my puppy made into a mangled pile of wire. My souvenirs.
The only smudge on the entire day was a phone call from the vet's office. I'd made an appointment for the 4 guys to have a heart worm blood test, prior to getting them their heart worm medicine. They had told me it would be $32.50 per dog when I made the appointment, The Neanderthal Man which is cool and reasonable. They called to say that price was a mistake and it would be nearly 90 bucks a dog instead!
One of my chores today is to find a saner vet.
My other chore is to put the finishing touches on the little sun garden. I feel good about this. It was mainly destruction and breaking stuff so its nice to see it completed and ready to be used.
I also have grandiose plans to help my puppy prepare her description of her birthday party. Too many emails demanding it!
As to me. I'm happy. I've settled into that weird crabbiness I'm prone to. I'm tired and a I have a horrid phobia about fatigue. I keep fearing that its the end of the remission. I have plenty of tests I run to remind me of the fine line between being tired, exhausted and fatigued. I'm fine.
I'm uncomfortable. I still have those times when I find anything touching painful and loathsome. They don't last long. Its just the general feeling of being uncomfortable physically. of feeling that itch in my bones makes me shorter than I'd like to be.

May 15, 2008

Get on your feet. You make me nervous in your seats!
Robert Parker

Circles Ny Aleksander Maksimow
Click images for desktop size: "Circles" by Aleksander Makimow
Today is an international holiday!
Isn't it?
It's my puppy's birthday. She has a full itinerary lined up.
I'm not kidding. I'm expected to participate and to enjoy myself fully. It all culminates with a big surprise party with a new taste treat promised. French fries ala mode with beef gravy . . . Its a surprise party because my puppy seldom listens to much I talk about.
Yesterday I cleaned my keyboard. It had gotten beyond gross.
The last time I cleaned my keyboard I killed it. Totally and irrevocably killed it. So I was, understandably reticent to try it again.
I used the utmost care, swabbing each key gently with pure alcohol and a Q-Tip. And needless to say I killed it again.
Since a new keyboard is at least 50 bucks I thought a lot about the prudence of Mac clones and how Ubuntu really looks like a decent alternative.
This time it appears that the keyboard had gotten so gunky that the residue from my swabbing had caused some of the gunk to shift under the board to the contacts so it was working as if I was constantly pressing the command (Mac only) control -alt-shift key. Which made for some interesting results.
I pried all the keys off and re-swabbed. Then re-integrated. I then took my puppy and my little blind dog for a quick walk and came back to find out that it had dried out and started working again.
I am a genius at breaking stuff. Fortunately I am still half a genius at fixing stuff.
If only I could get my ebike running . . .

During all this my mind drifted, as it generally does. I was thinking about a mediocre science fiction book I'd read years ago. I got it from the Charing Cross library in London. I've never seen it any where else or heard it talked about. I don't remember the author or the title of the book. They only had volume one of a series. I don't know how many books in the series, but it was called "The Amtrak Wars". Pinup
Click images for desktop size: "Pinup" by Unknown
I originally thought it was about our decrepit train system but it was about an intergalactic war!
It was pretty tedious stuff but it had one wonderful conceit. It predicted that human beings were the most dangerous and aggressive warriors in the galaxy. That even a middling small nerd type had twice as much endurance, strength, speed and blood lust than the previous galactic champions.
That was very appealing to me. I figure if you added a Belgian Sheepdog to the mix you'd have a serious combat team (who would also have a few laughs.)
Like I said, I never was able to find any other books in the series. Its one of those things a dispassionately look for in used book stores.
David Drake is an odd writer. He has his own science fiction trips. But he also touched on a similar theme. He had some guy conquer the universe by capturing an ancient Roman Legion and forcing them to fight for him.
Ray guns are no match for iron, steel and precision it seems.
My Gun Is Quick Cool stuff.
For some reason day dreaming about the destructive capabilities of our race makes a lot of insanity more sensible.

Now the rest of the day will be spent rejoicing in my puppy and the joy she brings into my life and the life of others. Three years old today. Three years and we're still inseparable. Still bicker all the time. Still need each other.
There's not much better than that. Not much better than a good dog. Together we are perfect, for each other and for others.

May 14, 2008

You can fool Emporers and Princes, Presidents and Prime Ministers but you can't ever fool a dog.

Astonishing X-Men - Marvel Comics
Click images for desktop size: "The Astonishing X-Men" by Marvel Comics
I went for a long walk on Monday with my puppy. When I'm feeling badly she sticks very close to me, herds me. Its mildly annoying. She doesn't seem to get as much pleasure from it as she would usually.
I must be feeling better. On Monday she was jumping all over the place, pulling me here and there, racing hard at the end of her leash.
Konga Clearly if I'm feeling well enough its the best option to try and kill me.
She was good enough and we laughed a lot.
My puppy wasn't enough to detract from my anger over the new bill passed in the House. The one where they've said that the cops now have the right to confiscate and keep any computer suspected of being used to download "pirated" content . . .
This is why people view me as a right winger. I believe in liberty and think that justice is a vague ephemeral term that shifts to often to be reliable.
In a just world every member of the House who voted for this law would be held up to immediate scrutiny. There's no sense to it. Except to appease the greedy MPAA and RIAA, two groups who produce nothing but naked greed.
If we forced each member of Congress to justify voting for legislation that does not benefit or protect their constituents or face impeachment we'd be moving towards justice for the people.
I mean guys like Henry Waxman (who rally embarrassed himself and the nation with the baseball steroids inanity) serves the members of the MPAA and the RIAA. They reside in his district.
Some representatives could show that they were hoping to lure some movie productions to their district creating an influx of money and jobs that would benefit their constituents.
Other than that I don't see where laws like this do much of anything except to attempt to criminalize children for listening to their computer instead of being dictated to by the mega corps who've destroyed radio.
If they can't justify their interest its time to audit them. Aladdin by Maxfield Parrish
Click images for desktop size: "Aladdin" by Maxfield Parrish
If they've gotten any donations or gifts from the MPAA or the RIAA or from any of their members that implies that the members of the House are corrupt and they should be put on trial and then thrown into jail for abusing their position of public trust.
It won't happen. They'll just keep passing laws that condone their corruption and abuses. The same way will never get to find out if any or how much money changed hands to get the RIAA attorney made into a JUDGE!
I keep waiting for Obama or Clinton to say they're going to repeal some of the sick laws that have been passed in the last 8 years, laws that are crippling and destroying the meaning and beauty of this country while bankrupting it.
Neither has. McCain seems to just want more of the same. He and his buddies are rich so why worry about people like you and me.
(I also think about the cops trying to enforce this byzantine mess, especially after Microsoft just screwed over a million or so of their customers by taking their music away from them. I mean, can you see a cop trying to understand the difference between "Fairplay", "PlaysForSure", self ripped, tracks swapped within the legal definition of fair use, and pirated materiel? Any bets on just stealing your computer to get their arrest records up? And telling us, "That's what you get for listening to this junk!")
The MPAA and the RIAA keep pointing to falling revenues. Which really aren't falling, just not growing to their projections. At the same time they sure haven't come forward and taken responsibility for churning out worthless product. They sure haven't Atomic Age Vampire offered refunds for making you watch duff movies or listen to garbage tunes.
For me, its becoming less of a deal. I've gotten to listen to a lot of music with all the yard work, lawn mowing and walking. I'd guess that less than 1% of the stuff that I listen to that gets me cranked comes from the ogres at the RIAA.
Bands like The Ribeye Brothers want to make a living for sure but they seem more involved in making you dance than trying to shake the money out of your pockets.
Even bands that I'm not to keen on like GO, with their psychedelic throwback lushness in tunes like "Help You Out" are trying to make music, trying to push you someplace that the musicians who support the RIAA have forgotten even exists. (Only the ultra rich musicians seem to support the RIAA and very few of them.)
There are bands out there like The Neanderthals. This is another new surf band. They're unique in that they also do a lot f vocal surf! Not the easy stuff like The Beach Boys, but the raw surf vocals from bands like The Trashmen, The Astronaughts and the Legendary Bobby Fuller. Their track "Go Little Camaro" reminds me of spring all over again. Its funny, it rocks and for 2 and 1/2 minutes the world seems like a brighter place where its fun to be alive.
Other than that I'm still locked into the old stuff. Even a semi-obscure group like The Martinets offers more than a lot of the pre=fab RIAA pop that WalMart keeps telling us is cutting edge.
Of course there's always the punk standby's. Me First & The Gimmee Gimmees still rock hard and make me laugh. Like when they destroy and recreate that boring Steve Goodman track "City Of New Orleans". It feels like the New Orleans you want to ride.
Big In Japan By Michael Kutsche
Click images for desktop size: "Big In Japan" by Michael Kutsche
Another non-RIAA album I find astonishing I've told you about before, The "Do The Pop" compilation. I've yet to hear a totally duff track on it. Chris Bailey's Saints don't even have the best track on the set!
I don't think I could actually pull a best track off the album. Even bands I'm not that fond of like The Hard Ons turn out a sparkling number like "Girl In The Sweater".
The only new musical thing that surprises me is that thus far my favorite album of 2008 is The Hives, "Black And White". They've kept their guitar heavy sound and moved forward and back to make a sound that moves me. They've used and transmuted old R&B rhythms to keep you dancing. Even the front man seems somehow less annoying!

May 12, 2008

There's a new sun rising up angry in the sky
Cynthia Weill

Abseits der Wege By Michael Kutsche
Click images for desktop size: "Abseits der Wege" by Michael Kutsche
Gardening is just one of the many things I know nothing about.
Mindless destruction, on that, I'm pretty good and knowledgeable.
Kind of cool to combine ignorance and experience into making something that, well, works.
Iron Man I've nearly finished clearing and making the sunning garden, and within my self imposed deadline. All that's left to do is destroy the huge pile of detritus and Virginia Creeper. I'm still figuring over that one. I did use some of the Creeper to add a small moat around one of the fences. There's a section that's been damaged by kids and less savory types hopping it. I'm pretty sure a four foot tangle of that nasty stuff will deter all except the determined. You can't stop them except with a baseball bat . . .
By rounded sweaty estimation I've pulled about 2.5 miles of Virginia Creeper from the ground and out of the trees and shrubs. If there were a professional tug of war league I think I'm in shape for a tryout.
(That reminds me. Once, years ago, I was in the mid-west, for reasons I don't remember.
A high school had decided to go for a world's record by having the longest ever tug of war. They were going to string a rope 3 miles over a river! It might have been the Mississippi but I think it was the Wabash.
The idea was that the losers would get tugged off the bank and tumble through 10 feet of briars and roots to land in the water. Then, I guess, we would laugh uproariously as we looked at the wet and muddy bleeding jocks.
I watched them use an old tug to drag the rope from one bank to the other. It was the first sign of trouble when a second tug had to come in and assist the hauling. It took them nearly an hour. It was a massive hunk of hemp, a good three inches thick. I pulled it and shredded my hands on it.
Soon they had two hundred kids on each bank and the contest began. The only problem was the rope Syntehtic Storm By Alex Iuss
Click images for desktop size: "Synthetic Storm" by Alex Isuss
was so heavy that they couldn't move it. They couldn't even stir it to raise out of the water.
I watched two hundred kids sweating and slipping while the rope barely created a ripple. The rope wasn't taught across the river it hung down in the water completely submerged.
After about 15 minutes the kids all collapsed exhausted. he rope never moving.
They bought in tractors. {Where was I that a couple of huge John Deere tractors were that handy?}
Then I discovered something interesting about hemp. When you let it soak in river water it not only gets heavier but it stretches. The tractors went about 100 yards but the rope remained resolutely submerged.
One of the reasons that playing those "farm boy" football teams Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter was always worrisome is that those guys never knew when they were beat. For some reason the kids decided to give it another try . . . The now stretched rope still didn't move. At least this time there were some ripples. I almost cheered when I saw the rope move but stopped because I thought it would probably be misinterpreted and get me punched out. (there was a crowd of a few thousand present and people were making money selling food and drinks.)
The kids, at least on my side were really killing it. Faces were purple with exertion, veins were popping out of arms and temples. They dug in hard. It was pretty entertaining . . . except the rope refused to move. It was like watching a condemned prisoner try to dig an escape tunnel through a concrete wall with a plastic spork. I admire determination and fear the mindset that refuses to accept the impossible.
They gutted it out for a good twenty minutes as the crowd thinned out till it was just girl friends and parents. Dejected the kids gave up. I drifted away too.
I hope they just left that massive rope at the river bottom. It clearly wanted to stay there but I figure it was too expensive to just forget about. I never found out. I should have stuck around.)
It rainy today, or at least still wet, the perfect excuse for no yard work today. Its worth mentioning I didn't blind myself.
I watched a few movies this weekend. The most notable was Roman Polanski's "The Ninth Gate".
It was awful. Boring and dull.
I have certain issues with an admitted child molester who flees the country to avoid prosecution being allowed to make movies. And I have a silent boycott of the American distributers who allow Polanski Virtual Anime
Click images for desktop size: "Virtual Anime" by Unknown
to make money, the same silent boycott I give to the politico's who fight for the extradition of draft dodgers but are cool with multi-millionaire child molesters making a living by thumbing their noses at us all.
I can understand how messed up Polanski had to have been having his wife and unborn son murdered so violently by whacky Charles Manson and followers. I can see how that got him involved with Houston and the Nicholson crowd (not a group known for curbing its excesses) but it doesn't excuse harming a child. And all the defenses Polanski through up (She was asking for it. Her mother set up the date. etc) just made his lack of control all the more heinous to my eyes. Then to flee . . . that's not an artist that's just scum who deserves old fashioned rusty scalpel castration. Anyway this rather boring tale of Satanism was interesting only in proving the resilience of Johnny Depp.
It made me realize Depp has only made a few good and/or profitable movies. Watching "The Ninth Gate" it was hard to remember if the guy has any talent at all.

May 10, 2008

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
George Orwell

Sunday By Edward Hopper
Click images for desktop size: "Sunday" by Edward Hopper
I got my IRS rebate check. Direct deposited.
It doesn't seem too big just looking at the numbers.
My fantasy was to use it to buy a new 5.1 sound system and a new Roomba. A frill and a necessity. But I don't think the money is enough for four dogs heart worm tests, and flea stuff. That's where it will have to go. Werewolves On Wheels That's what's most important. I've no problem with that.
If its not enough I'll sort something out. I've had to make a lot of deals with vets in the past. Once I even traded labor. I was a vet assistant for a few weekends. It was interesting. Her practice was mainly large animals so I got to pen cows in chutes and give injections to horses. Sort of a great bonus for doing me a huge favor. I mean, I got the bonus . . .
I'm not sure if vets are more responsive if you're flat broke or pay the lion's share of the bill.
In London there is a great group, The Blue Cross, (which proudly has no affiliation with the American insurance company). They provide free emergency health care for animals. I worked with them, as a volunteer. We went out at night in a fully equipped van and offered shots and health care to the dogs owned by the homeless.
Its a big scene in London (and a lot of cities in America) for the homeless to keep a dog. Some of them love and cherish the animals and the dogs give them a real point of contact with the world outside their dilemma.
They use the dogs for protection for their meager goods and so they can sleep unmolested at night. There are a lot of young women homeless who depend on their dogs to have some vague feeling of security.
The vet I worked with was a young attractive girl, fresh out of school. She was keen on what she was doing. We never had any hassles with pet owners but there were a few interactions where she was glad I was fit and mean. The men who surrounded many of them homeless, preying on their weakness to prove to themselves, I guess, that they still had some control and power in their lives couldn't resist approaching a Summer By Michael Parkes
Click images for desktop size: "Summer" by Michael Parkes
young woman with a posh accent who didn't look like she belonged in the "lower depths".
Since we kept a fairly set schedule of rounds, passing out dog food, we were often met by people with their dogs and their complaints. Some of the most out there people, the kind who carry on violent arguments with the air, still reacted to an illness in their pets and had enough where with all to know where and when to meet us.
Most of the time we spent crawling through unlit squats and abandoned buildings at 3 am, looking and listening for a dog who wasn't on the vets meticulous list.
I like vets. I like dogs. I wish there was a Blue Cross in America. Who'd fund it?
White Zombie For me the puppies and I continue our unstinting war against the terror that is known as Virginia Creeper. Sweat, aches and music.
Yesterday my friend surprised me with a gift of some much needed clothes, including a robe! No more running out chasing my little blind dog as he tries to escape wearing my boxers and Carhartt hoodie . . . yes, I still wear it . . .
It feels right that I should take a tiny piece of my new found tiny wealth and take us to dinner. Or at least go to the store and get the fixings for her fave dish, Spring Rolls. Curse my bike for not working! Its too long a walk in the time I have.
I've been using her Entymotic Pro ear buds on my iPod while I work. I use Ultimate Ears (a gift from my friend).
When I was about 7 I had a $1.98 straight up record player. It was a self contained box made of cardboard. The speaker facing upward next to the turntable. I used to put on a record and close the lid, then lie with my ear pressed against the box. Inadvertently creating a bass baffle which couldn't help improve the sound.
(Hey, I know a lot of famous musicians and its pretty typical that they'll have about half a million tied up in instruments, 2 million in amps and sound processors but listen to others music through a fifty buck boom box, so . . . )
My memory of the sound of that $1.98 record player is that the sound was better than the tiny undefined sound from the ear buds they include with iPods and other mp3 players. I don't think anyone has not been pleasantly stunned, no matter how much they protest prior, to the sound of decent ear buds or a decent hi fi rig.
I thought the Ultimate Ear's were the finest I'd heard and compared well to my reference (Stax Lambda Pro's). Well, I've discovered I prefer the sound of the Entymotic 4's . . .
The sound from the Entymotic's is shockingly Summer Fun In Fall
Click images for desktop size: "Summer Fun In Fall" by Anonymous
clear and defined. It is articulate and gives the music a thickness and lightness that makes all the music dance between your eyes.
The Ultimate Ears are great gear and have some advantages. The UE's are easier to put on and take off. The Enty's require this kind of embarrassing insertion method - You have to reach over your head and pull your ear upwards and outwards then insert the bug tightly. Its clamped in when you release your ear.
The UE's sound much bigger and create a larger soundstage playing mono tracks (and I still listen to a lot of mono). The UE's also have a much deeper bass (having a second bass driver in there, they should!)
The Enty's are prone to microphonic effect. That just means that the wires rubbing against your clothes can make a rustling sound you can hear through the ear buds. Zombies Of Mora Tau To fix this they've used a twisted wire and heavy wire configuration that works well. It also makes the wire easier to snag on stuff when your working on stuff like uprooting Virginia Creeper.
The UE's use a nice soft silky wire that stays easily out of the way.
With the price of these ear buds falling since Shure introduced the 3 driver ear bud . . . at about 600 these either pair of these are worth checking out. You won't regret it. I promise. You'll suddenly find that music is your friend again. And wise people will nod at you in sage approval when you walk down the street. Speaking of which, either set of these ear buds do a better job of isolating you from outside noise than any of the advertised "Sound Isolation" headphones etc. Especially those made by Bose. And they sound a heck of a lot better.
So my big issue is how can I borrow these ear buds more often!

May 9, 2008

So far from here to here

The Judge By Evegeny
Click images for desktop size: "The Judge" by Evegeny
If Virginia Creeper wasn't my latest enemy I'd admire its tenacity, its determination to survive. It is my enemy and I hate it and everything that goes into it.
I want to file a law suit. I want to sue somebody.
I want the world finished with Virginia Creeper and its proliferate progeny.
Watch Me When I Kill Never knew gardening could be such an emotional rage filled experience.
Pretty cool stuff. We'll have to burn the vines I've hacked through and some of the trees the vines have killed.
I have a knee jerk reaction to stuff like that. L.A. breeding. I mean L.A. had garbage cops. Guys who drove around and made sure you were recycling. (Which isn't that bad an idea my LA brain says.) So I get nervous about burning all these cuttings.
The saddest thing about all this yard work is that I've not heard any new music that sends me. You know, the kind that makes physical slough work seem like a dancing rhythm. It makes the world cool.
There's plenty of old stuff, mostly from compilations, like Evan Ray ripping "The Girl Can't Dance" on a Link Wray tribute. Or Young Fresh Fellows covering The Sonics' "High Time". All great stuff but all ancient.
It may have to stay that way. Ancient I mean. The RIAA has announced the new plan they're moving to. You won't be able to buy any more music. You'll have to rent it . . . and if you don't keep up your monthly fees they shut it down. They foreclose on entertainment.
This is cool for the wrong reasons. It going to force bands to go back to the old ways. Give the music away and make a fabulous living on tours and merchandising. Musicians will still get rich, famous etc. But the jerks in the RIAA who have stolen from musicians for decades will put themselves out of business.
That's very cool. Of course so long as we've come to accept and approve corruption and bribery in our elected officials there'll be criminal Representatives and thieving Senators passing laws protecting the rights of the RIAA to steal from musicians and fans.
Indian By Mastin
Click images for desktop size: "An Indian" by Mastin
If I ever get rich enough maybe I can by a congressman to pass a law to look after my rights.
Other than spending a lot of time falling down and rolling around in the dirt I've been doing pretty well.
I've isolated the short in my ebike. Now the hassle is figuring out how to fix it.
My puppy and my little blind dog are on a course for something. They get long fine but they both need me.
In the evening there's a little bit of a contest to see who can be closer to me. I love them both and they both have a legitimate claim to me.
The little blind guy gets scared and needs to know that there's someone there. My puppy needs to know that I'm still there because she loves me almost as much as she loves ice cream and pizza.

May 8, 2008

From The Underworld

Larence By James Christensen
Click images for desktop size: "Lawrence" by James Christensen
In my mad yard work I've discovered an insidious monster.
They call it Virginia Creeper, like Rondo Hatton in "The Creeper" the name does nothing to imply the horror that exists in its little green fronds and tendrils.
Turistas It has taken over a large portion of the yard and threatens to keep moving forward. It has pulled an pound branch off of an oak tree! I've cleared about 700 square feet of the stuff and gotten an 8 x 8 stack about 6 feet high!
A couple of shrubs have started to resuscitate. The creeper had choked out all light.
I was getting frustrated when I pulled up one 80 yard vine and discovered it had set up roots about every 6 inches of its length!
I went and looked it up on the web and found at Dave's Garden that the stuff is also poisonous and related to poison ivy!
When I was young and fit I once stood in the middle of a big patch of poison ivy and never had an itch or a problem. I wasn't sure how my chemically altered body would respond. Fortunately I still seem to be not allergic to much of anything.
Other than the new concern about getting toxiced out I didn't hear a single decent song on the iPod . . .

When the rain started I bought my ebike inside to over haul it.
I still haven't found the short . . . but I enjoy taking things apart and then trying to put them back together . . .
While I was working on the bike I put King Vidor's "Our Daily Bread" on for noise and company. The movie started with a prologue shot in 1983 (The movie is from 1934).
"Our Daily Bread" is a classic film that is still highly relevant and entertaining. Its a depression era film about the depression. Its also the greatest testament ever to the lost political ideology of populism.
Windy Day By Lawn Elf
Click images for desktop size: "Windy Day" by Lawn Elf
The plot is simple. A young urban couple, busted by the vicious economy, are given use of a farm by an unscrupulous rich uncle.
The couple struggle to make a go of it. They seem doomed to fail when a truckload of people breaks down in front of them. The driver knows farming and the two families work together with a bit more success. Soon more and more of the homeless families spawned by the uncaring government find their way to the farm and soon their is an entire self sufficient community working together, struggling together happily as they manage to stay alive.
When the uncle reneges on his offer to give the couple the farm the bank demands $500.00 or they intend to foreclose, even though its apparent that the farm is worthless.
One of the drifters, an escaped convict who has been acting as the community's police department, gets another member of the community to take him into the sheriff so the community Unwed Mother can collect the $500 reward on his head. Collect the reward so that the families, the children can continue to survive.
The rest of the movie is the great drama of trying to get in their first crop.
Vidor's genius is that his montages and simple story telling technique makes us care and thrill when the community working as a whole gets the irrigation channel dug and then harvest their first crop and bake their first loaf of bread!
It is thrilling to the point of tears of joy.
In depression America the film was a hit. Not as big a hit as the delightful escapist fare of Astaire and Rogers but a stunning success.
Now what was interesting is that when Vidor came up with the idea for "Our Daily Bread" he pitched the movie to Irving Thalberg at MGM. Thalberg thought it was a great idea for a movie but not the sort of thing MGM wanted to put out.
I never knew this, but to make the movie Vidor took out a 2nd and 3rd mortgage on his house! He staked his and his families entire future on making his little movie about baking a loaf of bread.
It explains the cast of serviceable but unknown actors. It also explains why Vidor hired the best writers for dialogue he could find (Jospeh Mankowitz).
"Our Daily Bread" is easily acknowledged as one of the greatest films ever made, but to think of a successful guy risking everything, his money, his reputation, his heart and dreams on this simple story is staggering to me. Its humbling and inspiring.
Dreams don't mean much unless we have the urgency to see them made flesh.

Oh, I didn't blind myself pulling up Virginia Creeper . . . It was close at times but I endured.

May 7, 2008

Going To Love Me All By Myself

Surviving The Modern World
Click images for desktop size: "Surviving The Modern World" by Unknown
My puppy has gotten more demanding lately. As if she's afraid I'm leaving her or that she's no longer my favorite.
Like most of us she needs to feel loved, feel important to someone else.
I've had to spend more of my time with my little blind dog. She hasn't gotten angry or really jealous about it, just sort of sad.
The Young The Evil And The Savage Yesterday I got my bike out and got a haircut. She was fretting when I left and in the same place when I returned. I'll have to make sure I play her favorite, if dumb and exhausting, games with her.
The bike held together yesterday but today its not starting up again. There's some short someplace which means I'm going to have to overhaul it. Something I wanted to avoid. I have to.
I got to the barber shop in about 10 minutes. That included a lot of time messing around in the park, shifting gears and jumping over small obstacles, just testing stuff out. Its a 30 minute walk (45 with dogs in tow - or dogs towing me.)
It also feels good being on the bike, using my leg muscles and just being free to go anywhere (anywhere being within 16 miles . . . )
My haircut is pretty terrible. It still looks better. At least neater. Neater is always a good thing.
I watched [REC] last night. I was mainly interested in it because its a Spanish film that was just released a few months ago. Some American studio has already got a remake in production, even got a trailer out advertising an October 9th release! (Quarantine)
Its a zombie flic. I like zombie flics! The sad part is it insists on using what is already a hackneyed device. The video camera one perspective shot. This was tedious since way back in the 50's when Robert Montgomery tried it in "Lady In The Lake".
Lastly it bored me to tears in that shambolic over hyped "Cloverfield". (How can you make a giant monster movie that I don't like?!?)
This one follows a local TV crew shooting a show called "While You Were Sleeping". The little girl playing the announcer is fresh faced and cute and keeps the rather boring set up interesting. They're doing the night at a fire station. This Is My Secret Story by Mota
Click images for desktop size: "This Is My Secret Story" by Mota
This section gets really boring and uses up about a quarter of the 80 minute run time.
Finally they get a call to an apartment house. The 2 man TV crew follows the firemen inside and the zombie attacks begin and then they stop for what feels like a really long time.
They spend an awful lot of time on explaining the zombies and reacting to an amazingly quick quarantine of the entire building. There's a sketchy and meaningless attempt at establishing character. Meaningless because all the nuances get thrown aside pretty abruptly. Even the very cool and career aggressive TV announcer in the end becomes just another screaming harridan.
The final 6 minutes are pretty effective, although they suddenly bring in Satanism, which is just goofy.
There's not very much gore and not enough cool zombie attacks.
Much more satisfying was "Chocolate", a Thai film from the director, Them Prachya Pinkaew, the guy who made "Ong Bak" and the near masterpiece "Tom Yum Gum" both starring Tony Ja.
For me the nicest part of the movie is that it proves that "Tom Yum Gum" was no happenstance fluke.
While it lacks the charismatic Tony Ja (amplified because he makes appearances on the TV!) this is still a credible entry that takes the martial arts genre and confidently moves it into the story telling arena without cutting any of the thrills.
The movie starts off asking us to trust the film by forcing us to watch the entire relationship that ends up in the tragic birth of Zen (Yanin Vismitananda).
Zin is a gangsters moll who falls in love with a Japanese Yakuza gangster. The Thai gangster is jealous, murderously so. He can't bring himself to shoot Zin who refuses to leave her lover. In rage the gangster intentionally shoots himself in the foot and vows to kill the pair of them if he ever sees them together again.
Zin and the Yakuza have one last night together and then they part intending the parting to be forever. Their final night results in Zin becoming pregnant.
The little girl, Zen, is born autistic.
We follow the little girl's life. When she's about 4 her mother moves next to a muy thai school. Little Zen, when she's not rocking and staring into space watches the fighters train. She's mesmerized and begins to mimic their training regime.
It also seems that Zen has remarkable reflexes and acute hearing.
Zin and Zen rescue a street orphan, a fat little kid bought to their attention when he is being bullied by the other street waifs. His character, Moom, is mainly a plot device. But its utilized well and does its job well.
Superman And Captain Marvel
Click images for desktop size: "Superman And Captain Marvel" by DC Comics
We're about a third through the movie without much action to show for it. The set up is worth it though and the long set up not only plays huge dividends its interesting and at times engrossing. There's a sincere attempt to understand the plight of a mother raising and loving an autistic child. Watching the gangster's moll evolve into a loving parent struggling to raise a difficult child makes for an interesting drama on its own.
When the first action does come its cool and fascinating. Watching the 15 year old girl take out a group of bullies is more than decent. Interestingly the action has a more metered feel, gradually building to the crescendo that most action directors eschew. They do not concern themselves with pacing and setting up anything more than special game ending moves. Here we watch a brain damaged child evolve to a non-stop killing machine. Its apparent and understandable They Live! on a gut level. A gifted child closed to the world but aware of her own body confronted with things that no one could ever fully understand she reacts in the only way she can. And like any youngster as she uses her skills she begins to rely on them to help her cope with the incomprehensible things surrounding her. Until she has no choice. Of course with practice the skills become more and more honed.
Though not as dynamic as Tony Ja Zen earns the moniker they've stuck on her as "The Female Tony Ja". They don't put her through the incredibly dangerous paces that Ja does so effortlessly (Yes, no jumping from a thirty story building to clamp a leg lock on the bad guy as he dangles from a helicopter wench!) What she brings is a vulnerability to the violence. She moves well and more than a few of her moves are incredible and breathtaking.
What happens in the story is that Zin (mom) gets cancer. To pay for her chemo the Moom, who has found an old book that lists debts owed to mom, he decides to go and collect these old debts.
Needless to say Thai gangsters are not too intimidated by a fat teenager and a crazy girl who stares at the floor. They refuse to pay.
A bad idea not paying her. It unleashes the tiger in her and in more and more ballet like sequences Zen collects. Her mantra is not as chilling as Ja's "Where's my elephant!" but "Give me my mom's money . . ." develops its own power.
The final battle is jaw dropping. Its incredible and insanely believable, and thanks to the lengthy set up and the touching scenes between autistic child and chemo wracked mother fraught with an emotional power that nears Ja's frenetic love for his baby elephant.
The Farmhouse By nuaHs
Click images for desktop size: "The Farmhouse" by nuaHs
The end of the film is a tiny coda that knowingly gives a false image of supposed peace. A little knock kneed Zen walking hand in hand with her Yakuza father along a beach.
Then there's the credit section . . . I'm unsure about this. I can understand that in a time when anything dangerous seems to be done by CGI you not wanting your actors efforts minimized or brushed off. Seeing a character fall three stories, bouncing off of electric signs and abutments to crash down on hard concrete is cool in a story but then to see stuntmen carried off in traction after actually doing it is unsettling. As is one guy having the blood wiped off his face and make up applied to the wound for the retakes . . . RAH!
There's plenty of glass being washed out of eyes. The diminutive deadly fighting chick gets her own fair share of medical treatment. It does make her acting in the film This Gun For Hire seem a tiny bit more incredible and its cool seeing how expert the Thai make up artists are at covering up black eyes, welts and cuts but I'm a bit unsure about this sequence.
Otherwise this was an excellent move that I felt proud to be able to see. How many movies, books or records can you feel proud about when you're just a passive part of the audience?
I'm doing yard work today.
I plan not to continue blinding myself.
I'm not taking bets on whether I'll succeed. My right eye seems to have calmed down, my left is going nutso. The tri vision prismatic kaleidoscope I get sometimes is interesting for a while but . . .

May 6, 2008

They say a boy like me will make a good girl like you turn bad
Del Shannon

Memories by Dharma
Click images for desktop size: "Memories" by Dharma
It looks like I fixed my bike yesterday.
I also think I fixed the leaking water cooler, the car windshield wiper blades and and and . . .
Of course it could all blow up today. The floor could be covered in water. I could end up stranded 8 miles away with a non-running bike. The windshield wiper blade could crack the windshield.
The Snake Woman But that's for later. Today I am the king of the handy men. King . . . King!
It was a surprisingly productive day yesterday. About the only goal I haven't accomplished is finding a barber. My last haircut was pretty bad and it has grown out atrociously.
When you look at me head on I look like I have wings . . . not pretty angel wings, or even Mercury Messenger Of The Gods wings. Sort of like sea gulls attacking an anchovy pizza style wings . . .
I used to look forward to getting old. I was going to buy a tall, skinny mountain and live in a shack on the very top where I could see the single road for miles and miles. I was going to sit in a rocking chair, just my 12 dogs and me, with a shotgun across my knees, just to keep the strangers away.
I always imagined that I grow gray hair and that the gray hair would, through sheer force of will, make two jagged speed stripes on either side of my head.
My old age fantasies never included growing wings. Now that I have them I don't like them or want them.
Looking for a barber is a hard task. Especially when you have limited cash. Even then its a miserable chore.
I'm going to look today, on my totally cool George Jetson ebike, futuristic terror of the road and cleverly avoiding 4 buck gas.

I've been watching a fascinating serial, "Battling with Buffalo Bill". It was shot in 1930, which means that a lot of the cast and crew remember the real old west. Its interesting to see the reality and the myth combine and merge Ninja
Click images for desktop size: "Ninja" by Unknown
into the present mythos.
One thing that's remarkable about the movie is that it uses real Cheyenne indians and even hired Chief Thunderbird as a technical advisor. This pays off in beautiful costumes and a fabulous Indian village.
It also makes for some sad but too realistic battle scenes. Settlers behind stockades fighting with rifles and six guns against Indians armed with coup sticks and tomahawks. (Coup sticks where like a long cane. The Cheyenne believed the bast way to defeat an enemy was to humiliate him by wapping him on the shoulder with your coup stick . . . admirable but . . . )
Coolest thing though is that the under equipped Indians keep winning.
The cast is impressive. Tom Tyler as a dapper Buffalo Bill. (How did this guy get and stay a legend? All he did was help exterminate the Indians by destroying the buffalo herds. Buffalos are not a very dangerous animal, not fearsome at all really. He made millions in 1890 dollars by sitting up his wild west show The Third Voice at the Chicago World's Fair and . . . that's it. I guess making money is worth being a legend, even then.
Tom Tyler looks awesome on a horse, a beautifully strange albino horse. Yakima Canuk makes an impressive beginning to his legend here. The riding and stunts are remarkable for any era.
"The Greatest Athlete Of All Time" Jim Thorpe plays an Indian! Looking at him is an adrenaline rush. He rides and runs with an elegance and style that is still in fashion.
The thing that impresses me the most are the Indian attacks. They're shot from the back of a flat bed truck so there's a negligible amount of camera wobble that only adds to the sense of reality. The camera looks full on at eye height as the horde of Indians gallops full speed right at it. The Indians are all riding bareback and each look incredible! They string bows, one rolls a cigarette (!), and there is never the slightest wobble in the riders. They keep their seats and truly look as comfortable on a madly running horse as I look sprawled on a sofa. It creates a gorgeous savage tableaux.
Samurai Chamoo
Click images for desktop size: "Samurai Chamoo" by Adult Swim
The plot is mundane. The Indian attacks are all based on a tragic misunderstanding on both sides! Distrust and fear between the two races escalates the conflict to frightening inevitable war.
Buffalo Bill, so far, does NOTHING to ameliorate the situation. He just takes the white man's side and treats the Indians as wayward children who deserve to be killed. The Indians, who all speak in Cheyenne and sign language, never come across as in the White Man's simplistic view. They seem to be the tolerant ones who have been pushed by the white man's arrogance and white man's explicit murder of their women and children to rise up and protect themselves and their families.
Of course they do seem childish when they heroically ride pall mall through a hail of bullets to wap Buffalo Bill on his shoulder and get a bullet in the chest for their valiantry.
A cool movie that makes me curious about other westerns from the time period.
The Unholy Wife
I'm still in touch with the dog people from my old home. I got an email, from the group not to me individually, about a cute little guy they've got. The pup has bad teeth. It looks like the owners got irritated with it or couldn't afford the expense of caring for it and dumped it at the animal shelter. Like most places the shelter gives surrenders 24 hours to find a home.
The group saved it from death and got it to a foster. The foster, though ell meaning, can't cope with the fact that the little guy wants to mark his territory. An annoying habit that's a pain but treatable.
I told my friend about the guy and now we're seeing about getting him flown over here. I don't know how we can afford the transport or the care he'll need but those things sort themselves out.
AND my puppy is now an Aunt! Her sister just gave birth to a single male pup! At least we know he'll be loved and well cared for.
Now, the open road is calling!

May 5, 2008

Everybody knows you can't beat terrorism. Your only hope is to find its roots and destroy it from there.
Nicholas St. John

The Wall Of Wonder by Akareshe
Click images for desktop size: "The Wall Of Wonder" by Akareshe
How often do you get to use the word "splendid"?
We had a splendid weekend.
The kind where you forget everyday that was less than perfect, where you forget everything except the moment you're living in. We all need those kind of moments or else we end up believing in George W Bush and accept gasoline prices.
The Phantom Of The Paradise Friday night we treated ourselves to Indian food. We set out for the Indian All You Can Eat Buffet. When we got there it was a bit too dowdy and depressing so we went to check out this place we pass by frequently. Its an odd little place next to and attached a rather suspect looking motel.
It took a leap of faith to enter. We were fascinated because they advertise with one of those dodgy plastic signs a luncheon that is $6.95 for vegetarian and $8.95 for NON_Vegetarian.
The prominent promise of vegetarian food seemed odd outside of L.A. Going in there was a good gamble. The owners had done a solid job of taking a mediocre space and trying to make it special. Even as it rained heavily we watched people come and go. Very busy, friendly and good food.
There was a large group of guys at the table near us. They weren't obnoxiously loud or anything like that but they were close enough I eavesdropped when I heard them talk about their recent trip to London. Mainly they were talking about going to The Walkabout, a rowdy bar in London that caters to crazy Aussies on their 2 year working visas to the mother land. As these guys were all clearly in the mid to late 40's and had the haircuts to prove it this intrigued me. These weren't the kind of guys I think of as having a good time at The Walkabout.
I wonder if its changed or I had.
Saturday was nothing but cold and rain. It ran from the spitting rain designed to annoy everything but plants, to torrential downpours. We made the longish drive to the Farmer's Market and the Oriental Grocery Stores.
The Farmer's market was a slight downer. What Its All About
Click images for desktop size: "What Its All About" by MLB
There weren't very many farmers about. It was rather sparse pickings and we had come prepared to buy!
Still we made some heavy scores. We got beau coup gluten free baked goods, including cookies and raisin bread. I also got some wheat free chicken kebanos for the dogs. (They loved them.)
We also got a chunk of halvarti cheese with jalapeno. It was cheaper than the stuff I get at the local deli but not that much cheaper and it was nowhere as good. Even that seemed like good news; it confirmed that we can guilt free buy the stuff at the deli.
We went to a new fancier looking Oriental Grocery store. It was packed. Getting a cart was an impossibility, so had to lug the stuff around in my arms.
There were things I liked about the store. I always like the whack juxtapositioning of products, pots and pans on the shelves above the soups bases, toys and dolls mixed in with the green goods. The Saga Of The Viking Women And The Sea Serpent As jarring as it looks to my Western eyes it must make sense to the rest of the world. Every Asian grocery store worth anything from Hong Kong To New York seems to do it this way.
Even though this store was neater, more modern and surface nicer than the first one we went to last month I didn't like it as much. We got some staples and a few cool enough things but still decided to trek on down to the first store.
The first one was much more chaotic, much friendlier and warmer feeling. Good produce and crazy juxtapositons. I got a pound of frozen shrimp for five bucks. The shrimp were in between the bok choy and the apples . . .
We spent the rest of Saturday getting the dogs ready for the big dog walk on Saturday.
Giant dogs and small bath tubs . . .
Sunday was bright and crisp and cool. A perfect autumn day . . . The mud didn't look too bad. We headed off to the big dog walk and it was one of the most magnificent events like this that I ever attended. It comes close to the anti-vivesection walk in London where the cops shadowed our every step in tanks and helicopters while little old grannies beat London bobbies on the head with their protest signs screeching "Boots kills beagles. Boycott Boots." Great stuff even with tear gas!
This dog walk was at this rather exclusive Inn and grounds. The Inn is on 300 acres. Its exclusive enough and beautiful enough that it books out for weddings with a $35,000 deposit!
The other thing that made the walk memorable is that it is the only one I've ever been on that was LEASH FREE!
Now, it says something positive about the owners of this magnificent property that they would donate their grounds leash free to a pack of wild and crazy dogs!
And RAH! they were all totally insane! Choise'
Click images for desktop size: "Choise'" by Anonymous
It was great! We keep meeting people asking if we'd seen their dog. (They always seem to have found them.)
Our dogs were a big hit. They made sure to say hello to everyone. My little blind dog did the whole walk on his own power (on lead which he resented slightly.) My puppy was a bit nervous about me being off lead. She kept having to check on me when she would rather have been off having adventures. But she enjoyed herself none the less.
My puppy got two "She's gorgeous!" andone, "Boy, that dog sure loves you!"
The two giant poodles got 2 "Pretty!" and one request for photos that they refused to sit still for!
We even ran into the woman who runs the burger bar, who had told us about the event. She is now braced for my puppy's birthday party planned for the 15th.
I was tired so we left before they passed out the awards and ribbons. The Set Up I gather we were entitled to something but we had gotten enough pleasure so that awards seemed superfulous.
Add to that the ability to feel smug about having so much fun in the name of saving a dog's life and, well, is there anything better than that short of falling in love?
I need, we all need more weekends like this. To see the world without flinching, to see a world with a wisp of hope and a tureen of good feeling, we all need good weekends like this.
And to climax the time I ate corn on the cob Sunday night, sweet corn and I ate it ON the cob.

May 1, 2008

We live for the sun
Murray Wilson

Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Murray
Yesterday our walk went just predicted.
It was tiresome but worth it. Even though the dogs have a yard full of nooks crannies and a world of exploring possibilities the pups all had more fun exploring a slightly larger completely empty fenced pen.
I had to carry my little blind dog about 3/4 of the way. The Legend Of Hillbilly John He refused to stay in the back pack. He needs to be facing forward. I think he was maddest that we weren't in the lead. He needs all of his smells unadulterated.
The dog park was empty again. I was expecting to see construction equipment or surveyors or something. There was nothing to indicate why this was the last day.
My puppy is mad at me because I didn't get any pictures. The batteries in my camera were dead. I was so tired I doubt if I could have taken anything worthwhile anyway. They really didn't do much except look happy and prowl every corner and sniff every fence post.
We got home and they were exhausted. They all slept solid for over two hours. My little blind dog didn't move for nearly 3 hours. I kept checking him. I had this sick fear that I'd over taxed him and killed him. He was just sleeping. This morning he yelled and barked at anything that smelled funny. He was just excited to be alive. I was excited for him too.
Last night my puppy jumped up on the couch next to me. This is odd behavior for her. She usually doesn't like to be on furniture. She just wanted to cuddle, to be petted and to be close.
My big problem is trying to figure out what to do today for a follow up . . . Dogs looking at me with high expectations don't make my planning any easier.

I like to watch trailers on the AppleTV. The big summer movies I'm interested in are, Of course, "Iron Man" (the only superhero that's so totally cool you don't have to do anything except put on the costume!) "Red Belt" (American Buffalo meets Kung Fu? David Mamet is usually disappointing but My World By Hong Kuang
Click images for desktop size: "My World" by Hong Kuang
KUNG FU and fighting! Even if it does start off with a pretty fallacious premise . . . ) Street Kings, and Doomsday.
I got to see "Street Kings". It was disappointing. I like Keanu Reeves. He works hard and tries harder. I like that he's a surfer kid from Hawaii who, even as his Hollywood star was rising, would still stop everything to play the Dog Faced Boy in a buddy's independent film.
Even when his talent doesn't meet his expectations he's working hard and if it shows then it doesn't show in his next film.
What's cool is that "Street Kings" fails, not because of Reeves, but because of the vapid performances of usually super reliable Forrest Whittaker and the hot and highly touted Hugh Laurie.
Whittaker's performance is just out of control. I can see how during the shoot The Legend Of The Wolf Woman and even in dailies it looked like an awesome performance that matched up well with Reeve's dead eyed committed killer cop, but it dies in the completed film.
Laurie just stinks. He's one note and tries to bring his TV character intact to a completely different role. Laurie's part is well written and dense but he makes it a meaningless bit of fluff. Considering Laurie gets to deliver what is supposed to be the shattering denouement in the movie he just wrecks the power of words and vision. His whack interpretation and the first time directors inability to rein him in destroys the big tension the film's been building to. (How the heck is Reeves going to get out of this mess!?! is a bigger issue than how he'll survive. It's cool that we think more about that than we enjoy the carnage.) So we just end up feeling cheated, like out time was wasted.

When I watched the trailer for "Dooms Day" I was thinking, this is "Escape From New York 3: Escape From Glasgow". It is but it becomes aggravating. Its too much a pastiche of "Escape From New York", "The Road Warrior: Mad Max 2", and characters from any film that's been hot in the last 5 years, at least hot in the UK.
Its got a lot of cool splatter, but after a while the splatter is sued so ineptly it gets boring. You know how inept it has to be when I'm bored by watching cool looking goth chicks getting their heads chopped off.
The basic plot is a "28 Days Later" style virus attacks Glasgow. Rather than dealing with it the UK's solution is to wall off Scotland and let the people die. So far so good, and believable!
One Scottish chick, Rhona Mitra - doing her best to look and act exactly like Kate Beckinsale in "Underworld", survives and becomes some sort of Super Cop for the UK version of Homeland Security. She can't fight very well. WallpapersMania
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by WallpapersMania
She's limber enough. Her inability to have any expressions on her face aren't that big a drawback.
After 23 years the virus reappears in the ghetto's of London. The governments first solution is to wall of London but they then decide to send Mitra into Scotland to look for a cure.
Armed with tanks and high tech machinery they are swarmed over and killed and captured by a punch of 70's style British punks (straight out of "The Road Warrior", I think these are the guys who were left over) . . . who play a lot of "Frankie Goes To Hollywood" while they kill, torture and eat their victims . . . 70's style punks are still the ultimate image of degradation of society? And they listen to "Frankie Goes To Hollywood"???
The alternate society in the new Scotland are based around Medieval England . . . Knights . . . with swords . . . I think you have to do an awful lot of drugs to sit around with your buddies and decide that ancient knights will look awesome in a future world . . . a lot of bad drugs.
This sets us up for the first false conclusion. The good guys get their hands The Monolith Monsters on a brand new Bentley . . . A Bentley coupe as a super car? This sets up a big "Road Warrior" style chase scene where the super car is out run by cadged together junkers and bikes . . . Amazingly the world gas shortages and 23 years of isolation has not depleted Scotland's petrol reserves. Although a lot of them get blown up in the goofy false conclusion.
There were at least three more endings. I guess to try and make some sense of the proceedings. They don't work. And the final big revelation is just stupid as well as making no sense. Nothing sets it up or makes it surpriising. This is proof that drugs are bad for you. Very bad.
I do remember "Long Good Friday" and "Mona Lisa" when it looked like Bob Hoskins might be a major force in movies. I also remember that Malcolm McDowell was in "Caligula" so at least McDowell has been in a worse movie. Its a shame that these two reliable actors could join together in this mess.