| home | archives | links | dog blog | movies | by genre | jukebox | search |

« November 2008 | Main | January 2009 »

December 31, 2008

It’s a recession when your neighbour loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours
Harry S. Truman

Modern Princess
Click images for desktop size: "Modern Princess" by Unknown
Its been a pretty good year.
Too much moving back and forth but a good year despite all that.
My friends birthday was sort of dull for her. It was fine for me. Her only present from me she gotA Detective Story too early. She had to go with me to the post office to pick it up and when we got there, despite my admonitions she read the box label . . . so I let her have it. The gift I mean. It was a set of knives. Not My Life and Yours
Click image: "My Life And Yours" by Unknown
very romantic but the sort of thing I think she likes . . .
We watched the klazzik, to our minds anyway, Japanese movie, "Dog Star".
Its a simple movie with an exquisite conceit. A blind man is struck by a truck. His seeing eye dog, Shiro, survives. The blind man has not done enough good deeds to get into heaven. He decides to grant his best friend, Shiro, a request, a good deed. Shiro wants to be a human so he can go see the little girl who raised him.
Shiro becomes an adult male human, but still a dog inside. They avoid most of the cheap dog stuff laffs and let Shiro be a man who is a dog inside.
He meets his old owner and is overwhelmed with his joy. One of my fave scenes is when he asks her if she is happy now. When she says yes Shiro gets up and runs full speed around the school playground.
The scene that breaks me down is when Shiro, after all of their adventures, sits with the girl on the beach and finally convinces her that he is not just the love of her life but is truly her old dog Shiro, more than anything her devoted friend.
There's a shot from behind where we see the girl sitting next to, not the man Shiro, but the dog Shiro as they stare into the clear night sky. It kills me even thinking about it. Its echoed later in the film with a heart rending sadness and beauty that is unshakeable.
I wish all my dogs could talk to me more fully instead of their struggles to communicate with me and my thick headed too human demeanor.
Its the end of the year today.
I can't come up with more than the three films I've already discussed as the best of the year. "A Man Who Was Superman," "The Underdog Patent Office
Click images for desktop size: "Patent Office
Knight", and "JCVD." I know the point is to list five at least but any other films in the list would just diminish the major accomplishments of these three. "A Man Who Was Superman" is already in the top 25 of my all time favorites. I still can recall vivid scenes that make little sense outside the film. The sense being explaining their power - Superman standing at a garden hose covering himself with water. Five teenagers struggling to lift a car all wearing tropical cheap Hawaiian shirts. Its that kind of movie. Beauty is there and makes itself beautiful by recreating our world in a vivid way that time makes us ignore.
For music . . . As doomed as I found Alkaline Trio and their putrid show the Album "Agony & Irony" was excellent. The only guy who has yet to disappoint is Jack White. The Raconteurs, "Consolers of the Lonely" was fine and contained a few songs that I want to learn so I can dazzle people.Empire of the Ants
The best album was a reissue. I've only had scratched up copies of Gene Vincent's "The Day the World Turned Blue" and "A Million Shades of Blue". The high compression and tics and pops have become a part of the music. The CD re-issue of both albums is impressive. The remastering is excellent but its Gene himself who devours my soul.
The man could sing. He knew how to sell a song. Most of the music on the disk is trivial, at time horrendous like the 8 minute hippie dirge "Tush Hog" is unlistenable to me.
Even in the trivial numbers Gene displays a compelling emotive power that almost thinks the music is good. It makes me wish he hadn't died a fat drunk. But if he hadn't would have have been able to compose and ding like he did. The closest I can compare him to is Charlie "Bird" Parker. If their lives weren't paeans to self destructiveness could they have heard the sounds they heard and been driven to make us understand?
I still know a lot of guys who'll punch you out for even hinting that Gene wasn't the greatest thing to ever happen in this life. As much as I love him some have taken umbrage with me. I'm not that violent about it. I just think that if you can't be carried away by the beauty of Blue that Gene carried within him its only sad for you.

Another Face
Click images for desktop size: "Another Face" by Unknown
For the New Year you always need some "Auld Lang Syne" for your party. Here's three.
Guy Lambardo and the Royal Canadians version is the standard, almost the original.
Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies bring a new funny life to the old tune. It rocks okay.
Lou Rawls brings a jaw dropping version. Its a solo accapela trip. I never new Rawls was this cool.

Best wishes for all into the New Year. Especially my friend, my friends and my puppies, past present and future.

December 30, 2008

The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits
Albert Einstein

Lost in the Fun
Click images for desktop size: "Lost in the Fun" by Unknown
Today is my friends birthday. I think she celebrated it a day early by staying in bed the whole day and reading a mystery suspense thriller book from a series she's interested in. Michael Connelly, I think.Coconuts
She also made Tomato Rice Soup from scratch. Rah.
For her I think that is a perfect day.
Today their are chores. One of them ugly in a nice way. Emissions check on her car then down to the DMV to renew her license plates for 2009. We also have to pick up some odds and ends for the growing list of house repairs.
Yesterday the side fence blew over!
Blue Fountain by Maxfield Parrish
Click image: "Blue Fountain" by Maxfield Parrish
The giant dog, of course for it is he that has the ultimate hold on gooniness in this world, escaped. We called the gentle dog and my puppy in. They came with no problem and calmly went about their business. We wondered where the giant dog was and then heard him crying.
He figured out how to escape and was upset that we hadn't come to rescue him as he had no clue how to return the same way he left.
So he was officially rescued and I had to do an emergency repair on the fence. I used to 4 inch logs as struts, logs from an old busted up "primitive" wood bench and the arms from an another outdoor chair for braces. It held well enough.
When I went to check it last night the struts had sunk about an inch into the ground. Their were 30 mph winds and their constant buffeting was more effective them my manly hammering at setting the things.
I need to add more braces today and set the already installed ones. I'm thinking about adding a metal connector between the two fence posts. (They abut as the damage was done at an By Marek Okon
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Marek Okon
unused and forgotten gate). I need to check the soundness of the wood as I fear the heavy winds, which I guess aren't uncommon here, will just rip out the screws and do more damage instead of securing it. There were a lot of limbs blown down and two roof tiles so the damage wasn't too bad. The giant dog was fine after his trauma. I'm still a little bit concerned as to why the other two didn't make a fuss to let us know that the giant dog was in trouble.
Then there's the start/completion of the dishwasher repair. My instincts say that the repair were doing is necessary but isn't the final solution.
We'll have to see.
I watched two interesting movies last night. One is a semi-guilty pleasure - The final installment ofThe Creeping Unknown the Chambara, "Sleepy Eyes of Death". Sleepy Eyes is a ronin who was conceived during a black mass! His mother was a victim, not a willing participant and she was raped by a Dutch devil worshipper. After giving birth she kills herself, not via seppuku or hari kari but with the scary method of stabbing herself in the throat.
Sleepy Eyes, half caste and bitter is the most cynical ronin in movies. A deadly swordsman he hates everything and almost everyone. Almost because he doesn't really think of anyone but himself. He does not practice bushido he lives by his own moral code.
This final episode is very much worth seeing. Light gory entertainment with some decent samurai sword fights and surprisingly touching denouements.
The other film is a real oddity. A Vietnamese flic called "The Rebel". It stars Johnny Nyguen. He was the lead fighter bad guy in "Tom Yum Gum". In "The Rebel" he stars, wrote , produces and does the Mac Tag Girl by Lumac
Click images for desktop size: "Mac Tag Girl" by Lumac
fight choreography. His brother directs and other family members are all over the place.
I've seen a few Vietnamese films and wasn't very impressed. This one has excellent cinematography, a decent score and good acting. The fights are impressive enough.
Vietnamese fighting techniques are very brutal. They were meant to win and not to impress. They function by whittling your opponent down to size by breaking a finger and then a wrist and then an arm etc. They toned down some of the brutality but still made a nice high flying balletic style of its more cinematic techniques.
The film was intended for international distribution. That seems certain. Viet Nam is a country whose entire history is of it repelling invaders.
The film is set in the late 1920's when France was the conquering force. It seems apparent that Dawn of the Dead France is standing in for the United States. But putting the USA as the villain would cramp sales. Their are parallels between Mai Lai and Lt. Calley etc.
The vision from the view of the conquered is fascinating. The business as usual of the French is scary and sickening. Statements made by the French mine manager while he whips his slave labor about accepting his "white man's burden" are properly revolting.
The movie goes for an epic feel. WIth its nice period work and extensive battle scenes it succeeds. The final battle is very pleasing.
The only drawback is the lead's abrupt shifts in loyalty. Its easy to accept but causes some concern after the fact.
Still this movie gets a good recommendation from me for a different type of fighting and for its fascinating world view from the prospective of the Vietnamese.
I think Johnny Nyguen will make even better films in the future.
So its time to start my day and figure out how a broke guy can give a celiac with too many chores a happy birthday . . .

December 29, 2008

Don't look back, it may be catching up to you
Satchel Paige

Letter Soup by Rod SG
Click images for desktop size: "Letter Soup" by Rod SG
So many thoughts during the day. Sometimes its hard to single out the ones that mark the day, that make each day unique and wondrous.Bride of the Monster
I don't give a of thought to what goes on here. I want to mark the days, not dazzle. I spend a lot of time helping my puppy write her little posts. They're important. This is too but for very dissimilar reasons.
Te puppy communicates, this just records and is available for the friends who might care or the enemies who can curse the days I'm Movie Star and Child
Click image: "Hollywood and Child" by Unknown
still intact or chuckle over setbacks and suffering.
A few people have taken exception to my comment that the stupid cat poisoned my food.
I've lived with cats. Dragged them to the vet. Found a few amusing, tended a few until it was time for them to pass over. I even liked a couple of them. I suspect I know cats as well as anyone could who does not blindly love them. My feelings are that cats are the embodiment of evil.
I'd think we all know about the toxins that cats carry in their mouths. They work the poisons into their feet so that their prey that they toy with so maliciously were to escape will swell up and die.
If you get scratched or bitten by a cat it will welt up with poison. It is my theory that cats are not cleaning themselves. That's a myth perpetuated by their thralls. Cats are coating their bodies with the poison so that any incidental contact starts to seep into your system like DMSO (an arthritic treatment that is absorbed so rapidly through the skin that it is tasted in the mouth if a single drop touched your hand or foot) it permeates the flesh until the cat mind control takes over and you find yourself treating an animal that has n interest in more deep than the ancient Egyptians had for the slaves Indian School
Click images for desktop size: "Indian School" by Unknown
who built their pyramids.
The only possible defense against this centuries old cat treachery is the dog. They are immune to cat toxins and have devoted their lives to protecting the human race from feline evil.
I have studied on this and know it to be true. Or at least as true as the latest mung that the Republican party is spewing.
They're in the midst of selecting anew leader of the Republican Party. One of the prime candidates sent all the voting members a Rush Limbaugh endorsed CD highlighting a little song called "Barack the Magic Negro".
It is nauseatingly racist. Limbaugh and company say it isn't because some black guy wrote it. The song cops the theme from Peter Yorn's "Puff the Magic Dragon". Yorn has written op-ed pieces Cat People screaming his outrage of his little tune being used by the Republican Party to promote hatred.
Since the McCain campaign pirated stuff like Jackson Browne's running on empty and refused to stop using it declaring that they were doing the song writer a favor by promoting his music it senseless for Yorn to expect them to desist stealing his music.
(The RIAA doesn't care if the Republicans steal music. They only care if you do.)
I don't care if the Republicans want to make themselves the party of hate and white supremacy. They can use any specious argument they want to justify it.
Back in the sixties Dick Gregory was a successful comedian. He stopped being an entertainer and became a committed activist. He wrote a book called "Nigger". His explanation was that the next time some one called his mother a nigger she wouldn't have to be insulted she could think that the bigots were just advertising her son's book.
Of course the bigots used the title, ala Archie Bunker, as a justification to call blacks "niggers". If the word is okay for "them" to use its okay for "us" to use too.
Its not racist if "they" say it.
I'm not to cool with us and them terms unless your on a sports field.
Its always been this way. I don't know what's getting better.
For years it was cried that blacks were ruining sports. They were just naturally better at running and jumping. It was genetic, see. It was unfair to let them compete against good healthy Silver Surfer
Click images for desktop size: "The Silver Surfer" by Marvel Comics
American athletes. Their physical attributes allowed them to play the game better but they lacked the brains to fully comprehend the beauty of the game . . .
Check out some old op-ed pieces from newspapers when Jackie Robinson entered the Major Leagues.
For every piece praising Walter O'Malley for breaking the "color line" their are at least 10 pieces cursing him for ruining the game, American life and the frail structure of the universe.
These pieces weren't written by people you'd define as idiot bigots. They were thought out, backed with historical fact. Some had a melancholy tone where the writer was simply glad he was too old to live to see the destruction and havoc that would be ensured by letting a black man on the same acre field as a white man.
Winning games became more important and more and more black players entered the arena. They were always held to a different standard of conduct. None of them were ever much allowed to be Black Widow men. They had to play the game with fire but never forget that they were ambassadors for a race.
Still it was nearly 30 years before their was a black QB in the NFL. The take was that blacks were fast and strong limbed but lacked the brains to play such a complicated position. How could a black man lead white men in the huddle?
James Harris was black, he was slow footed and actually looked like a white QB. The Rams had nothing else so he got to start. Then there was Randall Cunningham and then and then and then.
And the games became more beautiful. The fans stayed ugly and racist. Not all of them but one is Living Room
Click images for desktop size: "Living Room" by Unknown
I once coached a game where one of my black players asked an official about the legality of spearing. The middle aged white ref said, "Get back to your huddle monkey boy." That was in 1999. The ref was confounded by my rage. He didn't see a thing wrong with the term or with ignoring the question.
Everyone has some stupid reason to justify blind hatred. SOme people are articulate enough to put that hatred into cogent thoughts and sentences or even songs. If you buy that you also need to accept that cats are the hell spawn of the devil.

December 28, 2008

Inspiration is an awakening, a quickening of all man's faculties
Giacomo Puccini

Pin Up Art by JW McGinnis
Click images for desktop size: "Pin Up Art" by JW McGinnis
Its going to be 62 today. All the snow is gone. There are a few treacherous ice patches still lingering but they'll be gone soon too.
Thirty mile an hour winds. The wind is icy and feels like life struggling.2001
It feels like a beautiful spring day. Which also sounds stupid to say 3 days before the new year.
I'm discovering I like the cold and the snow. Maybe its just my body and will bending to the inevitable but it feels right.
Garbo as a Trojan
Click image: "Even Garbo wants to be a Trojan"
I've spent most of my life in the warmth of the sun or in temperate regions. Cold was a thing to visit and to see, and marvel at. Now I look forward to the warm shower spray hitting me while the air around me is frigid and cruel while I stand naked.
I like layering clothes and surviving the harshness of the weather. Walking the dogs who leap and cavort in oblivious excitement.
The cold makes a simple walk to the store seem like an adventure, an exciting accomplishment that marks the day with a white stone.
This December spring day is yukky. The mud instead of soft snow and slippery ice is ugly and of no value to the soul or to the eye and heart.
I like the snow. I like watching the dogs play in it and stop to bury their faces in it. I even like shoveling it. It feels like a victory.

The dishwasher is in a few dozen pieces. It stopped cleaning the dishes. Took it apart. There's a lot of calcium build up but nothing that would explain its futile efforts as splashing the dishes.
Glittering Hallways of Heaven
Click images for desktop size: "Glittering Hallway of Heaven" by Unknown
We're going to soak the screens, filters and spray arms in CLR today. It might do something. There's a few other parts that need checking out. I feel like a bumbling handyman, but so far seem to have broken nothing.

My friend is enjoying being home. I enjoy her being around. She seems worried that she's bothering me or something. Can't quite read it and the things that could be bothering her play in my head in horrifying cinerama.
We had a good Christmas. The toys, the food, even my CHristmas cookies were okay. My unbaked oatmeal cookies didn't set properly but they were still edible until the stupid cat decided to get on the counter and put cat poison on them!
The dogs are still over joyed. I love them so it pleases me as little else could.Charley Varrick
I keep thinking about the Rose Bowl. If nothing else Joe Paterno and Pete Carroll will give us the classiest bowl game of the season. That counts for a lot to me. Why USC is so heavily favored surprises me. I could see them being maybe 3 point favorites but I think Penn State should be up by about 2. They hammered Oregon State, the only team to beat USC this year and they beat Ohio Marylin Manson
Click image: "Marylin Manson"
State in a tense gritty smash mouth affair. USC destroyed Ohio State but not as convincingly as Penn State destroyed Oregon State. So, I wait.

This has been, I think, the worst NFL season in years. The on,y real bright spots are the two rookies, Matt Ryan of the Falcons and Joe Flacco of the Ravens playing so well and Matt Cassell coming off the Patriots bench to become a star.
The offenses have all been dull and repetitive. The defenses have settled in and know their jobs. The last time the NFL looked this dour it took the old AFL to wake them up.
Roger Goodell, NFL commish, has created this environment. He's cheapening the product, bending to the whims of the owners and and the gamblers while treating the stars of the game like flotsam that get in the way of his vision for the Death Rattle
Click images for desktop size: "Death Rattle Comics" by Unknown
game. Which is sort of like George Martin firing John Lennon from the Beatles because Paul wrote catchier tunes.
Last week I started out 8-1 in my picks! I was the national prize leader by two points!! I then proceeded to be wrong about every single late game and finished the week a dolorous 10-6. I wanted that NFL team watch and was viewing a lifetime supply of beef jerky as proper recompense.
My picking this year has been terrible. Usually I was always in the top 10%. This year I'm in the top 70% or the bottom 30% if you chose to be unkind.
What's worse is my friends picks. She was an unsightly 9-7 last week. Clearly she has not been learning from my masterful examples.
The Servant
As usual my picks are in bold.

New England at Buffalo - This had game of the week potential but Buffalo has been to flat. It should still be close. Teddy Bruschi is out for the Patriots so is Richard Seymour. Its a must win for the Pats while for the Bills this is nothing but pride and setting themselves for next years contracts.

Kansas City at Cincinnati - There are actually worse games this week, worse than this! I think the Bengals gave all they had last week in beating the Browns while the Chiefs keep playing better, not well enough to be good but better. Larry Johnson should do well and Thigpen to Anthony Gonzales is pretty to see.

Detroit at Green Bay - This is an exciting game for all the wrong reasons. The Lions are looking to Untitled by Soa Lee
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Soa Lee
become officially the worst team in NFL history. Only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their debut season managed to lose them all. The Lions have already lost more games in a season than ANYONE! They've sewn up the number 1 pick. Wonder if they'll take a receiver. The Packers are a mediocre team (who sure have the Bears number) but should have enough self respect to not spoil the Lions bid for immortality.

Oakland at Tampa Bay - And anther meaningless game . . . The Buc's have more talent but since they flamed out so badly in their two must win games they may already be on their winter vacations. The Raiders might fire it up but probably not.

Tennessee at Indianapolis - The Titans have already announced that 7 starters are sitting down to get ready for the play offs. The Colts will probably follow suit. Keep the big guys primed and then A Tale of Two Sisters send in the back-ups. How unexciting. The Titans won when this matchup earlier in the season, when it meant something. Here I'll take the Colts because they have a tiny bit more to play for.

New York Giants at Minnesota - Picking the Giants as they're more sensitive and not looking at all indestructible. The Vikings have to play them My Life Savings
Click image: "Life Savings"
later on the road (if they advance that far). It would be easy to take the Vikings in this case but I'll stick with the Giants because they take so much heat when they don't win big that they'll take a loss as the end of the world.

Carolina at New Orleans - This game only means something to one guy. Dru Brees has a shot at the all time passing record for a season. The Saints need something to show pride in after this dismal mess of a season. The Panthers still look terrible to me as well. NFL football shouldn't always rely on miracles to win games.

St Louis at Atlanta - And this game means nothing to nobody. I don't think the Falcons could manage to throw the game to the Rams. They'll like having a live scrimmage before the playoffs. Who knows, the Rams may forget their place and pull out a squeaker but I can't see how.
Korean Woman
Click images for desktop size: "Korean Woman" by Unknown

Chicago at Houston - The Bears looked horrific against the Packers twice. They can still make the playoffs? The Texans aren't revitalized. They're weak. The Bears should have enough gritty pride to not want to be embarrassed completely this season. Whether the Vikings or the Bears make it to the playoffs they figure to be first round exits.

Cleveland at Pittsburgh - This is the cruddy game of the week. Worst offense in the NFL against the best Defense. The only drama is how long will the Steelers wait before bringing in Bryon Leftiwich for Rothlisberger. Since the Browns couldn't move the ball against the Steelers 2nd and third stringers we may even get to see the third string QB for the Steelers.
An American Werewolf in London
Jacksonville at Baltimore - This one of the more interesting meaningless games. Interesting because there's a chance both teams will play hard. The Jaguars are looking at a housecleaning and some may want to keep their jobs. The Ravens haven't clinched a playoff spot yet and know they will be underdogs. The defense will burn through the Jags.

Seattle at Arizona - Another meaningless snore-er. These games get scary for people foolish enough to bet them. The Cardinals have nothing to play for. In many ways they've already accomplished everything they wanted this season. The Seahawks stink but have nothing to lose. They've been improving. It will also be Seahawks coach, Mike Holmgren's last game. That almost makes me lean to the Seahawks. They played their hearts out last week against the Jets to win his final home game. Running on emotion leaves you burned out and empty. I don't think they Mini Watogla by Newsman Pro
Click images for desktop size: "Mini Watalog" by Newsman Pro
can bring that much fire to the game again. It would be something to see if they can. Would they parade Holmgren on their shoulders and carry him off the field? They should anyway.

Miami at New York Jets - Game of the week, if only because Chad Pennington comes home to face the guy who replaced him. This lover's spat will make things exciting for the Dolphins while Brett Favre's right arm will keep things tense for the Jets. This is the big stage, Favre owns the big stage. Pennington owns the Meadowlands. This will be good. A loss takes the Jets out of the playoffs. A win gives the Dolphins the Division title and pushes the Patriots out of the playoffs.

Dallas at Philadelphia - This is the media's game of the week. I'm not that interested. The Cowboys Attack of the Crab Monsters sold their souls and cheapened the game far more than making snow angels in the end zone ever could, and have little to show for it. The Eagles have looked dreadful too many times this season, even in a couple of games where they pulled out surprising wins. Winner gets a wild card spot. Loser gets to go home and read. The Cowboys fit that role better I think.

Denver at San Diego - Embarrassing game of the season. If the Broncos lose the Chargers win the Division and go to the playoffs as 8-8 champions. This has already been a cruddy season so I'm picking the Broncos to avoid that debacle. The Chargers should be favored. I still think Jay Cutler is a very good, approaching great QB.

Washington 13 at San Francisco 9 - And the season ends Sunday night with this meaningless travesty. Redskins coach Jim Zorn, so highly touted mid-season has been under the gun and dealing with serious job threats. If the Redskins have anything in them at all that should give them enough edge to win this one. Mike Singletary is no sentimentalist and the 49er's will come looking for bear cocky and confident. It will be better than it should be.

Not responsible for brain hemorrhage or apoleptic seizure that may occur when considering these picks.

December 26, 2008

There is more logic in humor than in anything else
Victor Borge

How Do I Measure Up? by Peter Dribben
Click images for desktop size: "How Do I Measure Up?" by Peter Dribben
What a long day.
I think all good days should be as long as possible. Why is it that bad days get all the hype, the longevity and the honor?13 Ghosts
Very foolish.
The dogs all loved Christmas morning. The giant dog in particular. Every time his number came up in the gift wheel he'd abandon the previous present and take the new one extolling it as the best present he'd ever seen.
When all the gifts were passed out he stole every one of them, making sure they weren't better than anything he got. He was most pleased he got the rawhide he wanted. He carried it around Hanabi by Nekonote
Click image: "Hanabi" by Nekonote
with him all day.
The gentle dog was ecstatic. He got dental bones that he loves but would never ask for. He was happiest of them all because he likes it when everyone else is happy.
My puppy was disappointed. She didn't get either a car or a helicopter. She used to like toys but she never played with them in proper dog fashion. She used to like to walk around with them in her mouth and then occasionally she'd lay them all out and arrange them, very carefully appreciating the shapes and textures. She'd get upset if they were moved and quickly put them back to place.
That changed. The giant dog loves to mangle and destroy toys. For him the reason that they exist is to be chewed, then to have a squeakerectomy, then finally to be de-stuffed. For him it is a glorious ritual that ensures peace on the planet and the removal of tons of carcinogenics and CTF's from the atmosphere.
Fresh Cocktail
Click images for desktop size: "Fresh Cocktail" by Unknown
Since giant dog is so resolute my puppy has lost almost all interest in toys. Now she only will grab one if its to torment me in some way.
My puppy's attitude quickly changed when we got back from our Chinese Christmas dinner. I had a particularly good haul and the smell of steak, ham, pork chops and chicken was maddening to them. If she had gotten a car or helicopter there's no doubt that my puppy would have traded them all to me for just another smell of steak.
All three dogs loved Christmas dinner.
The Chinese Buffet was interesting. I was surprised to find it packed! I had figured it would be empty with a dozen or so lost souls wandering about feeling the warmth of Christmas cheer and willing to spare a smile and some conversation. Instead it was massive families of 12 to 20 people.Zoo The lost souls were there but barely noticeable.
The food was good. I'd gotten three plates before I got to eat anything.
I had a lot of shrimp things. The shumai was very good. I had the best onion rings in the world which are made from calamari and I had roast turkey, mashed potatoes and asparagus! First time I had roast turkey in six or seven years. I just had a small bit but I enjoyed it. I had jasmine tea and ice cream with bananas for afters. I wanted to have coconut pie but didn't feel like running the risk of getting sick.
I was stuffed.
After giving the dogs their special christmas dinner we watched the hot new Korean film, "The Good, The Bad and the Weird". It was pretty entertaining. One thing that made it jarring was well, its a Korean Western based on the Sergio Leone movie. Its based in the 30's, when Korea was conquered by and occupied by the Japanese.
The weird, Kang-ho Song from "The Host", is cool and funny stealing a treasure map. the map is targeted by the Japanese, the bad, Byung-hun Lee, the Russians, the Korean independent Army and finally by the good, Woo-sung Jung, who is brilliant. He's the best horse rider I've seen in movies since Yakima Canutt!
THe film is fun and silly but takes a nasty spin into dark reality whenever the Japanese Army appears. Their evil far outstrips the inchoate evil of the bad. The Army's evil is devastating, Piegan Hunting Party by Charles Marion Russell
Click image: "Piegan Hunting Party" by Charles Russell
complete and disinterested.
The movie is so filled with cool scenes, great stunts and shoot out that the gory destructive power of the Japanese is jarring the way dying men and animals should always be jarring. It moves the movie from a spectacular romp into a dark region for a moment although more so because it seems to come when you're laughing hardest.
It seems clearly premeditated. Its apparent it was an important part of the story. Even though the final denouement is bloody it still has less impact than booking cannons and machine guns smashing living flesh.
Writer-director previous film was the stunning "A Bittersweet Life". He clearly knows what he wants to convey. I'm just not sure of the why here. All in all an excellent movie.
It makes me think of the best films of 2008. So far I can't begin to come up with 10. I can only think of three . . . 1) A Man Who Was Superman - which is already worked its way into my dailyRevenge of the Creature consciousness 2) The Underdog Knight - A Mainland Chinese film about duty, caring and the lost dreams we all have (with good fight scenes) and 3) JCVD - Jean Claude Van Dammes powerful examination of celebrity, money and family. After that I draw a blank. Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino" might be up there but it hasn't set quite right with me. Some of it is the triteness, some the predictability and some of it the lack of cliche. I'll keep thinking.
So all in all it was the Merriest of Christmases, at least for me.

December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Christmas Tree
Click images for desktop size: "Christmas Tree" by Unknown
Its been a perfect Christmas so far.
The giant dog was googley eyed over every present. Played with each toy and then tried to play with them all.Treasure Chest Comics
The gentle dog was wide eyed and smiling. Loved everything and everybody.
Christmas Present
Click image: "Christmas Present" by Unknown
My puppy was disappointed because she didn't get a helicopter. But she loved her busy bones and giving her gift.
I got a kiss from her. My friend got a scarf, gloves and matching merle hat!
It still worries where my puppy came up with the money for that!
We had potatoes and an omelet for Christmas breakfast. Later we'll go out to the Chinese Buffet for Christmas dinner.
I'm excited about that. I read a joke somewhere that the only thing open on Christmas Dy are 7-11's and Chinese Restaurants. The buffet has advertised that they'll have roast turkey for Christmas. Santa Stars
Click images for desktop size: "Santa Stars" by Unknown
Rah! If they have bacon for the pups then it will be a perfect Christmas dinner.
My puppy's aunt had to work yesterday. Corporate Scrooges. On her way home she was rear ended by a guy in a Porsche while he was talking on his cellular. She was stopped at a red light.
She had to go to hospital but she's okay now. Best wishes that she keeps improving.
It rained all day yesterday. Hit 40. Now its snowing fat flakes and is well below freezing. Lots of ice and holiday cheer.
Its all for the best.
We'll end Christmas with The Roy Rogers Show and "The Night Before the Night Before Christmas" a "thrilling Christmas Adventure" for Roy, Dale and Pat.
Have a happy Holidays.

December 24, 2008

Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!
Clement Moore

Frozen Tree by Far2way
Click images for desktop size: "Frozen Tree" by Far2way
Its Christmas Eve.
I'm exhausted. About 9 inches of snow last night. Not a blizzard according to the local standards. Its just snow.Rudolph Comics
We went and delivered our Secret Santa gifts to all the houses walking through the non-blizzard. It was wonderful fun. I liked leaving big old footprints in all the fresh snow. I liked sticking the little dried veggie Santa
Click images for desktop size: "Santa" by Unknown
packs in the doors and mailboxes. I expect half of them are already waiting for the garbage pick-up. I don't care about that.
I still had to take the garbage out. Garbage men don't get Christmas Eve off. Doesn't seem fair.
When we came in from Secret Santa'ing I warned my friend that the man gate wasn't closing properly and to be careful of the dogs. Of course I ignored my own good advice and when I was Frozen Tundra by NFL Films
Click images for desktop size: "Frozen Tundra" by NFL Films
halfway down the drive with my arms full of garbage the giant dog suddenly bounded in front of me, went into play posture and leapt away. The gentle dog run past next, slowing down only to say high before he dashed along. My puppy came up beside me and asked if I needed a hand with anything . . .
I had to go out and stop too cars who were creeping along as the two big dogs ran back and forth across the street. Miraculously my puppy actually did a sit stay. I think she was amused.
Then I got my Christmas miracle. I yelled at the dogs and they very nonchalantly trotted up the drive way and waited for me to properly open the man gate so they could go back into their yard.
I discovered a stupid stray cat has taken up residence in the dog house in the yard. I put food outGirls Bravo for it and then fought with the dogs to not eat its cat food. I figure our stupid cat invited the stray in, told it what a sucker I was.
I didn't get the Christmas cookies made. Shoveled an amazing amount of snow.
We also got a pretty nice Christmas present from Snow Boys by Subo Sitro
"Snowboys" by Subo Sitro
my friends ex-secretary. Orchestra seats for the Chinese Wushu Show. How totally cool. The theater actually delivered them. He wouldn't come in for coffee.
The only disappointment is that the ex-secretary won't be joining us. I would have liked that too. I'm greedy that way.
Watching it snow was pretty. Last night should have been Christmas Eve. It was near perfect in tone, setting and silence.
"It's always Christmas in my heart," or some such in some song.

Christmas Eve is the time for some of the old traditional songs. Cool stuff that becomes loved via familiarity and repetition.
Lou Christie does an old fashioned take on "O Holy Night". I always thought it was a bit arch that Christie toured with his sister who sang back up on all of his cool racy hits.
For some people its not Christmas until they get some Johnny Mathis and Percy Faith, for them Santa Is Coming
Click images for desktop size: "Santa Is Coming" by Unknown
here's Johnny Mathis and Faith's klazzik, "Sleigh Ride".
Jackie Wilson was one of the greatest performers in music. He worked hard and knew how to inject emotion into a tune that didn't involve just yelling and groveling (which are not bad things at all) Wilson laid his soul bare. Jackie Wilson's "Joy To The World" is a bit too respectful to the original to really soar but it has a sweetness and power of its own.
Eric Johnson brings his refined technique to the fore on his touching version of "The First Nowell".
El Vez put on the greatest Christmas Show I've ever seen at the Garage in Islington. He wore a plasticky Santa Claus suit that wobbled around insanely. The Elvettes wore Red fur trimmed mini skirts and red fur trimmed halter tops and Santa hats (faux fur of course). While his back up band,Santa Claus Funnies The Memphis Mariachis, wore white shirts, string ties with enameled Christmas Wreathes and Santa hats. El Vez did stuff like this cool "Feliz Navi-Nada". For me you need El Vez to really believe its Christmas.
Not to be outdone very hip band It Dies Today does its own grind on "Feliz Navidad".
Christmas Card
Click image: "Christmas Card" by S4W
In a similar vein Haste The Day rips through "O Come Emanuel". Very fast and cool.
Semi techno band Belle and Sebastian do their own take on the tune with "O Come, O Come Emmanuel".
Now we'll take a break while The Beach Boys exhort you to give some toys to the kids Keola Beamer shows that the Hawaiian slack guitar is truly an awesome style with his "Do You Hear What I Hear".
Pollo del Mar does an unforgettable version of "Carol of the Bells".
While a jazz guitar legend shows he has chops. Chet Baker's take on "Silent Night" will chill you out.
Christmas Night
Click images for desktop size: "Christmas Night" by Unknown
The Rooks were a nearly great band. They only did two albums but buried in there was a heartfelt christmas tune. The Rooks "Christmas Is Here" rocks well enough to not get embarrassing.
Darlene Love proves she's got the key to Christmas in her heart with this cool "All Alone On Christmas". This is the best version of the track I could find.
Jeff Beck can still fly with "Amazing Grace". Its oddly lushly arranged but Beck's guitar always soars.
One band that's never done a Christmas song is Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies. They should. Maybe they already have. This raw version of a Jackson 5 number touches and warms the heart the way a Christmas song should. Until you hear Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies destroy "I'll Be There" you're missing a big part of the holiday feeling. At least the way I feel it.
I could go on for days. I could but I can't. I have to help my puppy write her blog post. I've got a foot of snow to shovel and dogs to pet.
Merry Christmas.

December 23, 2008

Christmas is coming, it will soon be here
Paul Fix

Forgotten Memories by Reece Townsend
Click images for desktop size: "Forgotten Memories" by Reece Townsend
Yesterday we go distracted.
We went out to get dog food and the feed store had a living Nativity scene. No people but plenty ofDennis the Menace sheep, a donkey and a CAMEL!!
The animals were all fat and happy. Maybe the donkey had a bit of consternation. He kept his ass (that's a pun, son) under the heat lamp and mulishly refused to move!
Inside they had free hot cider and free candy canes! It was totally cool. No one, a couple of Santa
"Santa's Sleigh" by Unknown
customers maybe, was agitated or cranked on anything but good will. We got food and a Christmas treat for the dogs.
My friend had spent a lot of time petting the lambs. When we got home we were disappointed that the giant dog, who is childishly jealous, didn't seem to care or react to the sheep smells at all.
I wanted to take the dogs back to see the animals, which was probably a bad idea and vetoed by the driver.
It was still the nicest monderful Christmas thing I'd ever seen. Everyone was lost in it for a least a little while. We did some grocery shopping. Even in the middle of the day all the stores and parking lots were jammed and went home to recover.
I finished vacuum sealing the Secret Santa doggie treats. Our dogs are still bewildered by this bagging up of stuff that should belong to them.
Happy Holidays
Click images for desktop size: "Happy Holidays" by Unknown
I did some more shoveling. Then we tried to watch some movies. "Transporter 3" was a disappointment. Got up t the 2nd big fight scene then cut it off. Corey Yuen, the guy who directed the first one, knew how to film fights. This one has some dufus American so instead of watching the surprising speed and grace of Jason Stratham we get a lot of fast cuts and a mysteriously shaky camera that gets real annoying.
They're also disemboweled the Frank Martin character, who used to be very cool, pragmatic and lacking in self doubt. They've added in the dreary remote bomb trip (75 feet from the car and you die) so I was quickly losing interest.
Then did get through "Fred Claus". A not very good Christmas-y movie.Teen Beam
I wanted to see it because of the cast. Kevin Spacey as a Christmas villain is like YOW! Paul Giametti, the cool sociopath bad guy from "Shoot 'Em Up" as Santa Claus! Rachel Weiz as the love interest then cameo's by Frank Stallone, Steve Baldwin and Ken Clinton as other brothers who's lives were destroyed by their famous siblings. (Oh, Fred Claus is Santa's brother).
Weiz plays Vince Vaughn's love interest. I'm still trying to figure out how a woman with such a thick Cruel Snowkids
"Cruel Snowkids" by Unknown
Brit accent got a job as a meter maid in Chicago. It made no sense, unless it was intended to make some sort of weird comment on U.S. immigration policies.
The film wast sort of nothing. I found myself thinking about "Deck the Halls', last year's Christmas flic starring MAtthew Broderick and Danny DeVito. At least that one had some glitzy lights and some unrepentant anarchy going for it. This just lay there and I found myself wondering how they got this heavy weight talent to appear in this mess.
We started to watch the old "Here Comes Mr Jordan". I was enjoying it but my friend fell asleep. She needed the sleep. I was liking the movie too much to watch it by myself.
So I made mental plans for Christmas instead while watching the tepid Monday Night Football game.

Santa Claus
Click images for desktop size: "Santa" by Unknown
It seems Billy Idol has fans who were hacked by my saying Steve Steven's thrashed out his talent by being Idol's sideman. To soothe their jangled nerves at Christmas here's Billy Idol doing his version of "Frosty The Snowman". One of the great klazziks of Christmas music is Bob B Soxx and the Blue Jeans inspired rendition of "The Bells Of St Mary's". You'll never be able to watch the old Bing Crosby movie in the same light again.
BB King is a living legend. He finally decided to record a Christmas album. Its as cool as you could want. What I'd expect from a man who offered to give his beloved guitar "Lucille" as a reward to anyone who'd return his little lost puppy. BB King's "Christmas Celebration" proves the blues are for all year long.
John Water's once wrote that he always wanted to write a thank you letter to his grandmother, "Thanks for the five dollars. I used it to buy crack cocaine and a porno mag". In that light heWorld WIthout End released a Christmas album. Its not bad as proven by his choice of Big Dee Irwin and Little Eva's "I Wish You A Merry Christmas". Little Eva is the originator of "The Locomotion and she loco-motivates this track just fine.
Acceptance does an interesting version of "So This Is Christmas" which is just a re-titling of John Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War id Over). The song gives no clue as to why it was re-titled.
Christmas Eve Eve is a good time to start getting traditional. The Blue Hawaiians do a pleasant take on "We Four Kings" while America contributes "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" to a weary world.

I still have cookies to make, presents to deliver and a few thousand Christmas emails for my puppy to go out. Have to deliver the presents tonight because it going to rain tomorrow . . .

December 22, 2008

The secret of creativity is knowing how to hide your sources
Albert Einstein

Fallen Angel IV by Luis Royo
Click images for desktop size: "Fallen Angel IV" by Luis Royo
We had tostadas for dinner last night. Made from scratch tostadas. Nearly blew up the pressure cooker cooking the beans.
Sort of made us both sick . . . To much tos and not enough tada I guess . . .The Killers
Everything is still feeling good. My friend couldn't sleep from her tostada illness so she ended up working on some project for her job. Heck of a way to spend your Christmas vacation.
She explained everything she was doing to me in fine detail. I don't think it was very important that I didn't understand a thing she was talking about. She seemed very content and proud of herself for solving a problem and I could appreciate that. Even if I had no concept what the problem was or anything else much about it.
Typography Greeting by Blur
Click image: "Typography Greeting" by Blur
Last night we watched Jim Henson's "The Christmas Toy". Mildly amusing but nothing to go out of your way for. Then we watched an episode of the old TV series, "Kung Fu".
It's my friends favorite TV show ever. I enjoy it because I keep discovering a lot of friends had parts in the show. I still get a charge out of seeing my friends work.
It's become the tradition to watch an episode every Sunday night. Were about a third through season two right now. Last night the show was pretty good. David Carradine still bugs me. He can't fight but I do like his halting way of speaking english and Keye Luke is Keye Luke (Master Po). From Charlie Chan on I've always thought he was awesome.
Last night the show actually got into some Chinese history. It seemed accurate. At least it didn't contradict anything I already thought I knew.
It explained the story of the Manchus' burning the Shaolin Temple and killing all of the monks and how the five surviving monks formed the Tongs. How they convulsed their beliefs in order to use violence to not avenge but regain the place of their religion Christmas
Click images for desktop size: "Christmas" by Unknown
and in their convulsions metamorphed into bandits.
Then there was an interaction between a missionary and Caine that surprisingly showed the parallels between Christianity and Buddhism! Surprising and pithy stuff for a TV show. It didn't go that deep into it but it was enough to fire up some imaginations I'd imagine.
Then Richard Lo playing the venerable aged Tong leader gave a fantastic portrait of calm and logical evil. Approaching his problems and issues with reverence and ruthlessness. An elegant portrait of the evil men do for the betterment of society and themselves.
It would have been a much better show if David Carradine could at least look like he could fight . . .
Last night my puppy did a strange regression back to when she refused to go outside unless I wasSpiderman with her. I don't mind trekking through the drifting snow with her but it bothers me that she might suddenly have lost her inner sense of security, a feeling the two of us worked hard to instill.
She seems better this morning. More focused on having fun. That's the way it should be.

I've got a dozen Christmas tracks today.
Christmas Card by S4W
Click image: "Card" by S4W
I don't much like rap. I like the old school stuff, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Public Enemy, NWA and, of course Snoop Dogg. Snoop seemed to have lost his way a bit lately but he's come out with a new album that is a Christmas record!!
So far I like it. Very little tedium, the nice quasi-jazz mixes and lush production values. "Landy in my Egg Nog" is cool, funny and real.
I talked to Mamie Van Doren and she told me how Elvis had invited her to see Louis Jordan in Vegas. She didn't get to go because her then husband, Ray Anthony, was a jealous guy. For some reason what fascinated me was that Elvis wanted to see Louis Jordan. I checked him out and he was sort of a wild man playing within the big band croonermentality of the time. His Christmas tune "Santa Claus Santa Claus" does nothing to dispel the image. He is for sure worth listening to.
Christmas Pets
Click images for desktop size: "Christmas Pets" by Unknown
And speaking of Elvis The Holly Twins' "I Want Elvis For Christmas"is okay but gets legendary when you know that its a teen Eddie Cochran playing the guitar and doing the hiccupy background vocals!
And when you go there you have to mention Dora Bryan's "All I Want For Christmas Is A Beatle"
Carla Thomas made it personal with her "All I Want For Christmas Is You". Cool Stax sound and soaring voice.
Going even more old school is jazz legend Dave Brubeck. Rah. His "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" is very cool and has the right sense of mellow for wrapping those last minute Christmas gifts.
Stepping slightly ahead in time we've got yet another new Christmas album. This one from Little Steven Van Zandt, the guy from Bruce Spingsteen, the Asbury Jukes and the Disciples of Soul. He just recorded a bunch of new garage stuff for a thing called "Christmas A Go Go. It is definitelyThe Two Mrs Carrolls alright. This is The Electric Prunes doing "Jingle Bells", from the day when a name like Electric Prunes made sense to somebody.
From the same album we have The Chevelle's doing the elegantly titled "Come All Ye Faithful Surfer Girls". Get your jaw ready to drop.
From the authentic era is this righteous tune, Davie Allan and the Arrows going all Yuletide with "Ho Ho Ho Seven-Hark The Herald Angels Sing". Which is possibly every old biker's favorite Christmas tune.
Madonna tried to ruin the Eartha Kitt klazzik and here The Dollyrots redeem the legacy of "Santa Baby" with this gravely distant purr.
Joey Ramone died. The world is a darker place without him. He left a lot of stuff out there that's being ignored. One of them is his truly cool cover of Darlene Love and Phil Specter's Christmas smash "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)". It should not be missed.
Eventide by Stag
Click images for desktop size: "Eventide" by Stag
And finally we have one of the little promo things I'm so fond of, Jan and Dean wishing you a "Happy New Year". Not much better in life than that.
We have to go out and get dog food. Have to beat the weather. Its sunny and cold now. Snow is promised before the day ends.
I'm kind of looking forward to that. Even with all my snow shovelling muscles sore and tired it still makes things pretty and fun and adventurous.
What's irksome is that Christmas eve is supposed to break 40 and then to rain . . . and then freeze. We'll survive. We always do.

December 21, 2008

I'm not a genius; I'm just a tremendous bundle of experience
R. Buckminster Fuller

Cruxificion of the Goddess
Click images for desktop size: "Crucifixion of the Goddess" by Unknown
Some torpid news yesterday.
We'd been buying special gluten free oats for oatmeal and stuff but it turns out that my friend is still having bad allergic reactions.
My only food restrictions are fat and sugar and that causes me some minor distress. My friend can't Sex Kittens Go To College eat wheat, gluten and now oats. Kind of sucks.
My little blind dog couldn't have wheat, beef and who knows what else. He'd go crazy if he got any. Somebody needs to make a pill. That's the American way isn't it?
I was also pretty dismayed to see that the USA General in Iraq is refusing to comply with Obama's demand for troop withdrawal. Its nice to know that Bush has succeeded in turning the US into a South American puppet government. This appears to be the start of a junta. Obama is crazy if he doesn't have the guy relieved from duty the second he takes office. I'd think that having him charged with treason, mutiny and a few other charges wouldn't be out of line.
Yesterday we got the tree up. That's great fun. The dogs are fascinated but then disappointed because they're not allowed to eat the ornaments.
I still like it. I like remembering the friends who gave us the stuff. I liked the copper ornament that the little blind dog gave us. I like it Lights Of Christmas
Click image: "Lights of Christmas" by Unknown
Nearly finished vacuum sealing all the doggie secret Santa gifts. The stickers look nice but don't stick to the packages real well. We'll figure something out.
No one came to my puppy's Christmas party. Last time I let her handle the invitations. She didn't care. She had fun.
There's another 3 inches of snow on the ground this morning with more expected. I have become the master of the snow shovel.
My friend gave her spare snow blower to our new neighbors as aSanta Dog
Click images for desktop size: "Santa Dog" by Unknown
bribe really to get them to take care of the 30 yard driveway that leads to both of our houses. The neighbors still perplex me. That means I don't think I like them but have only a few reasons not to. The guy is a rude jerk so that's easy to explain away. He is a total jerk.
His wife is pleasant but I keep getting a nasty tang of insincerity. She's a bartender or a bar maid at a local rather scuzzy bar. Its honest work but she shows all the signs of being a heavy drinker. Maybe that's what I'm reacting to. My own innate prejudices.
Or there's a good chance she's a jerk too. But we have seen her at two of the dog walks which is normally enough to warm me to almost any person. And I do like their dog. It upsets the husband that the dog likes me. He yells at it when it comes up to say hi and never acknowledges me. He's,Superman And Santa Claus like I said, a total jerk. I keep trying to keep things amenable. At least to the point of them calling the fire department if the house is on fire.
But now the snow blower my friend gave them is frozen to the ground!
Today I watch football and I plan to make cookies. CHRISTMAS cookies. I was going to make Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies but with my friends revelation . . . I could still make them and just keep them all for myself! Most likely I'll make the coconut flour cookies. They're okay too.

Last week my courageous picks resulted in me going 8-8! An impressive display of guts and risk taking on my part. My friend played all the safe picks, made all the easy choices and ended up an embarrassing 10-6.
My friend is not a Christmas music nut, but she is fond of one song: "Little Drummer Boy".
To teach her a lesson I managed to find about 30 versions of the tune. With I'm finished with her she'll never want to hear "rump a tum rum" ever again! That's her penalty for trying to look like she is beating me in NFL picks!

The Harry Simone Choral did the original "Little Drummer Boy". When I was a kid and driving around with my mother they would play it ad nauseam on the radio.
Which is why its cool that my peers have done what they could to renovate, some might call it destroy, this little ditty. Tech band Low's version of the drummer song turns the tune into a trance Elemental by Skywalker
Click images for desktop size: "Elemental" by Skywalker
dirge. Not very tasty but appropriate somehow.
Heavy metal guitarist, Gary Hoey had a surprise hit album of Christmas music. He basically played heavy distorted guitar over jams of Christmas tunes. It was so successful he had to do a sequel! Here's Gary Hoey's metallic take on the drummer boy song.
Steve Vai noticed Hoey going platinum so he organized a bunch of hard rock guitarists to do the same thing. The Merry Axemas albums are interesting but not very. Guys like Steve Stevens, a fine guitarist who kind of blew his chances by taking the quick and easy path with Billy Idol kind of typifies the album. For the most part each track starts off with some delicate and fine playing before it suddenly just rips into a loud more or less formless jam. Alex Lifeson does our featured track. Not much more to say than that other than I would hope that some part of this Something Weird record went to a charity or something. No mention of it but one can hope.
One thing my search discovered is that Joan Jett is still in business. I still remember her from the Runaway days where Kim Fowley and Rodney Bingenheimer were promoting them. Fowley to continue making money and fame and Bingenheimer because he's a lonely guy looking for love or a reasonable facsimile. Jett was the most talented musician in the band. Now it seems she even has her own record label and has produced a new sampler of the bands she's signed! Cool. We have the lady herself Joan Jett doing "Little Drummer Boy" replete with fat barre chords!
Next up is the 60's band who had the big hit with "Wimoweh" - the lion sleeps tonight song. The Tokens' version of the drummer boy is kind of sweet. The soaring falsetto takes over at times and moves the tune back into a primal mode.
The Dandy Warhols, of all groups, did an interesting cover. It still sounds like the Dandy's too. That's fine by me.
No song is any good unless you can make it into a rollicking surf tune! Los Straitjackets prove that wrestling masks, surf guitars drums and Christmas rock.
But I've save the best two versions for last.
The Little Drummer Boys by Mike Watt and the Crew of the Flying Saucer was, I thought, the most insane version of this track I'd ever heard. And how could you not love a band name like that! But then I heard something better. A coolness not heard of since Hal Blaine or Sandy Nelson Dusty Watson Complex leaves no doubt that the most dangerous weapon in the world is still a simple trap kit and the willingness to take no prisoners.
Click images for desktop size: "Snowflakes" by Unknown

And now to week 16 of the NFL.
My picks are in bold.

Indianapolis at Jacksonville - As the NFL plays out it string more and more of the games are the sheerest tedium. The NFL should follow baseballs lead and use these dead games to highlight new players, try some new strategy. Instead its just the same boring plays that having worked for 14 weeks but maybe they will now . . . that wasn't the case for the Jaguars Thursday, but only because of the tremendously moving appearance by Richard Simmons in a wheelchair. They played spirited football like they should have played all season. They lost because Peyton Manning doesn't care about opponents teammates or gutty performances. He only cares about winning and getting to the Superbowl. I wrote the Colts off 10 weeks ago. With the win they clinched the wild card. Show to Bug Bunny Christmas go, shows to go . . .

Baltimore at Dallas - The Cowboys are choking big time while the Ravens have that glint of desperation that just might carry them through into the playoffs. Superstars bickering vs aging superstars looking for a collision, looking for the hit to end it all. The choice is clear to me even though the Cowboys are pretty heavily favored. Game of the week contender.

Arizona at New England - Matt Cassel played brilliantly following the death of his father. He plans to finish the season the same was a s a tribute to his dad. That's a powerful mojo. The only hope the Patriots have is to win out. Arizona is already in the playoffs, even has at least one home playoff game their first in like 35 years. So Larry Johnson and Arrington are going to sit out this meaningless game . . . The Cardinals haven't won a game on the East Coast this season. Can't expect much effort from them here.

San Diego at Tampa Bay - Coaching had probably cost the Buccaneers their shot at the playoffs. Pin it all on Jon Gruden and bizarre strategy in back to back must win games, both of which they lost. The Buc;s aren't eliminated. The Chargers were everybody's pick to go to the SuperBowl the minute Tom Brady went down. Now they The Sandman Maxfield Parrish
Click images for desktop size: "The Sandman" by Maxfield Parrish
are fighting to get to .500. They've no heart and never should have fired Marty Schottenheimer.

San Francisco at St Louis - Until Mike Singletary took over the 49er's this was a early pick for cruddy game of the year. Right now you'd have to think the Niner's would be idiots to not make Singletary the permanent HC. With what he has done with this team in 3 weeks is astounding. They are playing hard edged football, entertaining football. The idea of them having a few draft picks and a training camp is scary stuff. The Rams are hoping not to get relegated to a lower league.

Pittsburgh at Tennessee - After four freakish wins they're call ing the Steelers the "Team of Destiny". I see it as inept officiating that has only gone against the Steelers once. This is going to be a good game, especially with Haynesworth out for the Titans. These teams will probably meet againStrange Bedfellows in the playoffs. Having Haynesworth out will help the Titans in that game more than it will hurt them in this one. The Titans will not be able to run or pass the ball very consistently. Even without Haynesworth the Steelers haven't been moving the ball well at all. Unless the ref's decide to cheat again I think the Titans win a squeaker. Oh yeah, game of the week.

Cincinnati at Cleveland - Cruddy game of the week. Sad really. Both teams looked so promising coming out of camp. Taking the Bengals because, well, why not. Nobody has anything in this one. Slight edge to the Browns for their defense and ball hawking but the offense will cough the ball up as much as they take it away.

Miami at Kansas City - I'm taking the Dolphins because, well, its just common sense really. But the Chiefs aren't looking good but they've gotten more dangerous. An upset wouldn't surprise me here. I still expect it to be close.

New Orleans at Detroit - The Bears gamesmanship cost the Saints Reggie Bush and their season. Dru Brees is still looking like he's going for the Hall of Fame and against the Lions that should be enough. In fact the Lions only real hope is that the Saints are so heartbroken about their Elysia by T Hecker
Click images for desktop size: "Elysia" by T Heckler
season that they forget to show up.

Houston at Oakland - Cruddy game of the week contender. The Texans are not looking better. they've been lucky and played teams that have given up. Like the Raiders this week.

Buffalo at Denver - Here's a game so dull I don't even want to think about it. Lynch should get some big yards. Trent Edwards is due back but its hard to figure how shaky he'll be. Jay Cutler is all the Broncos have and probably all they'll need n this one.

New York Jets at Seattle - The Seahawks stink but I'm nervous about Favre playing in a hostile environment. He could throw four picks in this one. Which still wouldn't be enough for the Seahawks to win.The Great St Louis Bank Robbery

Philadelphia at Washington - The Redskins have rolled over and learned to play dead. The Eagles have a shot at the playoffs. That's about all I can muster for this snorer.

Atlanta at Minnesota - The Falcons are looking tired. The Vikings aren't looking good. If they were this would be a game of the week contender. Still Adrein Petersen and the Williams boys will keep the Vikings in it and disrupt the Falcons ground game enough for a home win.

Green Bay at Chicago - A few weeks ago the Packers spanked the Bears. That's the last game they won/ They've looked terrible losing too. The Bears stink but they're at home and eager to repay the humiliation they suffered. Oddly, the Bears Christmas at Rockefeller Center
Click images for desktop size: "Christmas at Rockefeller Center" by Unknown
have an outside shot at the playoffs.

Carolina at New York Giants - I don't think much of the Panthers. See the Steelers comment above. Winning games is not the same as having a winning football team. The Giants have looked tired lately, stressed about Plaxico Buress and young receivers not handling the pressure. This is a game they need to right themselves to avoid an early exit from the playoffs.

Veiw these picks at your own risk. Not responsible for any physical damage due to excessive laughter and/or hysterics.

December 19, 2008

The best way to predict the future is to create it
Peter Drucker

Colorfast by Richard Mohler
Click images for desktop size: "Colorfast" by Richard Mohler
We got the stickers to label the doggie treat Christmas presents. They're bigger than I expected. If I'd known I'd have written what the treats are on them. Out Of the Past
I have this fear that a) People will think I'm a loon (which they will anyway) and think I mean to harm their dogs or b) in these hard times that I'm giving out free samples of a product I want to sell.
I want them to just see that somebody else cares about their dogs and enjoys them as we walk around the neighborhood. I can't control people's perceptions.
I sealed up three bags using the vacuum sealer thing. It was cool Christmas Card
Click image: "Merry Christmas 2008" by S4W
and easy. Kind of fun too. I liked watching all the air get sucked out and the bags crinkling hard to the shapes of the dried veggies. It was aesthetically pleasing to me.
The big snow is expected today.
I hope its really big. So far this morning there's just a light dusting on the ground.
Yesterday I shoveled the yard in preparation for the big storm. I discovered its easier to do that then to just wait and let it all pile up.
I keep the dogs out there with me while I do the shoveling. They seem to enjoy standing on the ground I just shoveled and then getting in my way as I continue. Its their game and they're laughing.
I saw the gentle dog suddenly bolt past me. I watched him, amused at his speed and intensity while Snowshoeing by Steven Stradhee
Click images for desktop size: "Snowshoeing" by Steven Stradhee
I wondered what he was chasing. There's an abandoned bomb shelter in the back yard! Not an A-Bomb shelter, which would be very cool, but a plywood walled bunker sort of thing. Its collapsed but still has the shape of a room about 8 feet below the caved in roof. The roof has been used for years to toss fallen branches and other yard debris. It looks pretty natural, a part of the terrain.
As I watched the gentle dog scooted over the roof of the bomb shelter and disappeared. I went back to shoveling for a bit then realized the gentle dog hadn't reappeared and my puppy was agitated.
I went over to the shelter and was surprised that the gentle dog had followed whatever he wasNight of the Demon chasing down into the shelter and was now stuck!
It wasn't a big problem to drop down besides him. I lifted him up and pushed him out through the hole in the roof.
In my haste to rescue him I neglected to calculate my own escape.
I thought about it for a second and tried to do an old rock climbing style "mantle". Its where you grab the ledge above your head pull yourself up to where you can rest your forearm on the surface and then lever yourself up.
Pretty simple.
Except my hands would not grasp the wood. Since I've started to play the guitar again I notice that aside from the pain and the cramping finger style playing has left my right thumb feeling jammed and dislocated. My recent falling downs has also left my wrist weak.
Christmas Matrioshka
Click image: "Russian Christmas Matrioshka" by Unknown
I tried a couple more times, trying different techniques. All I managed to do was to break off some chunks of dusty ceiling.
There's still a door on the shelter so I tried that. Most people probably would have thought of trying the door first . . . but I have pride in wanting to exit the same way I entered. Pride is often confused with stupidity. Besides it was dark down there and I really hadn't thought of it.
The door was solidly jammed and throwing my weight against it only made the shelter vibrate in an uncomfortable way and I had a flash of me being buried alive under plywood and yard debris.
More worrisome was that my puppy and the giant dog decided that all my banging around was a sure sign that I was having a world of fun and they were threatening to come down and join me. Planet of the Apes (Czech) They kept poking their noses through the hole. Giant dog was play growling at me trying to make me let him join in the fun.
I yelled at them to sit. I was surprised that they both did.
I remembered I had my cell phone in my pocket, which is more common sensical than usual for me. I've often watched old movies where all the tension from a scene or a chase could have been solved if the hero just had a cell phone in his pocket.
Christmas Cheer
"Christmas Cheer" by Unknown
I thought for a bit about calling 911 but I figured they'd probably have to break down the gate to get into the yard and, that just didn't seem worth it.
I was also wondering what the gentle dog was chasing. I hadn't heard anything rustling down there. I sometimes smell a heavy musk in the backyard. Rather skunky but not quite the skunk smell I know. I'd decided it must be wolverines! It didn't matter that I'd been told that there weren't any wolverines around here, that they're several hundred miles further north, I enjoyed thinking that there's a semi-dangerous animal lurking in my backyard.
At this time I also figured that all my banging around would have seriously hacked off any skulking wolverines who would have gone by my jugular by now. I figured it was most likely that the gentle Dragon Lady
Click images for desktop size: "Dragon Lady" by Unknown
dog was chasing the "stupid cat".
I also found it interesting that it seemed several degrees cooler in the bomb shelter. For some reason my lack of subterranean knowledge made me think it would be warmer, which is stupid and against all my experience but I still fondly cherish the notion that just 10 feet below the surface the earth is filled with pools of magma that house great fire resistant dinosaurs.
I finally figured out that I could hang from the roof and do a sort of chimney move against one slick wall and sort of scramble out that way. It took about 10 minutes for me to get to a position where I could grab something and try and pull myself out.Red Dust
The first time I grabbed a branch which wasn't attached to anything and fell back into the shelter. The next time i just madly flailed at the dirt until I was able to roll myself onto solider ground. Of course the dogs all had to rush over and smell me.
I checked the gentle dog over and decided he had no bumps, contusions or abrasions. He was a bit nervous about the hole but still eager to bite me.
I finished my shoveling, went in and made us a frozen pizza I'd gotten on sale. The dogs and me love our frozen pizza, except they always want more than their share. I think they think the same thing about me.
We watched the Colts Jaguars game on TV. It was better than I anticipated. It was sadly moving seeing Richard Collier come onto the field in his wheel chair.
My friend was working late, in preparation for the two weeks off and anticipating that the big snow Luis Royo
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Luis Royo
would stop her from going into work today. So I went to bed alone.
Not quite alone. Usually my puppy lies on the bed until my presence annoys her. Tonight the gentle dog nudged her aside and lie next to me. Nose to nose. I love dogs but I don't like doggie kisses or them licking me at all. I also don't like doggie breath. He moved further down, turned around and pressed hard against me and stayed there until my friend got home. Then he went to greet here by stepping on my face. So everything is back to normal.

A few people have written to me complaining that the song version the downloaded wasn't the one that I claimed it would be! I realize that when I ftp'd a song with the same name to the server I was overwriting the old version! I'll get that fixed.
Here's Jan and Dean doing a little "Merry Christmas promo". I like these little messages inserted Santa Claus Conquers the Martians into my playlists.
Shonen Knife aren't the only Japanese girl band to celebrate the holidays, this is The 5 6 7 8's doing "Rock N' Roll Santa". Cute stuff with a nice cutting edge.
Soupy Sales has a son named Tony. Tony started out with a band called Tony and the Tigers. Soupy used all of his influence to promote his son's band. Eventually Tony would marry Tyrone Powers' daughter, Taryn, and then form Tin Machine and be David Bowie's band for a lot of years. That's how it goes in Hollywood. None of which has anything to do with this CHristmas track by Soupy himself. "Santa Claus Is Surfin' To Town" has been blamed for everything from causing the cold war to increasing the percentage of American youth experimenting with drugs. The drug part is serious! It's just a gooney Christmas record that I like fine.
It is certainly no crazier than Ray Steven's scary "Santa Claus Is Watching You" especially in this post 9/11 anti-American tyranny.
And we'll end with two tracks designed to ruin forever your memory of Clement Moore's poem. Huey "Piano" Smith and the Clowns crazed version of "Twas The Night Before Christmas" rolls along in madness that seems absolute until . . .
Now we all know who Henry Rollins is. The founder of Black Flag, the the paramour of Lydia Lunch. Those shows . . .I mean, they were nothing except Lydia screeching on stage while Rollins would jump into the crowd and punch out hecklers! Iceman by Marvel
Click images for desktop size: "Iceman" by Marvel Comics
And a few hundred people would PAY to experience this! While Van Halen and Metallica where down the street PAYING the club owners to get to play Lunch and Rollins were making money doing this poetry reading thing. YOW!
Rollins was cool. I could even accept him taking parts in movies. It wasn't until he hosted that awful TV game show that I realized the beautiful angry young man was dead and all that was left was a guy who wanted to make a living. Once again I bring up the Eskimo tradition of sending their greatest heroes out on ice floes to die lest they live on and destroy the legend. Henry Rollins doing a Christmas tune is insane, that his radical hep cat be bop reading of "'Twas The Night Before Christmas" even exists is a Christmas miracle that is a quiet blessing. Scare the kids with this one while you just groove daddio.
Finally a band called The Priestess and the Fool have released a new Christmas album and left it up for FREE DOWNLOADING. Rah! Merry Christmas. The music is okay. They do an interesting cover of the Pogues "Fairytale of New York". Click the bands name to get it. Classy package 192 kb mp3's, cover art and pdf booklet. I approve.

December 18, 2008

I was just thinking I'd like to get back to before
Adam Faith

Violet Diva
Click images for desktop size: "Violet Diva" by Unknown
The carrot dehydrating scheme seemed to go okay. The dried carrots are not as popular with the dogs as the dried sweet potatoes.
That's okay. They provide a lot of color. They dry a nice fiery orange. They'll look cute in the littleInvasion of the Body Snatchers vacuum sealed pouches.
This has suddenly become important. My new Christmas tradition of passing out treats to the neighborhood dogs has grown from 3 to 10. And probably counting.
I have to have two of them ready for tomorrow. That might be three ready by tomorrow.
I also have to design a tag, a sticker to put on the treats so that when I fling these on the neighbor's porch they won't think I'm defiling their homes with wrinkled up garbage . . .
Christmas by Cole Phillips
Click image: "Christmas" by Cole Phillips
I'm going to try to dehydrate regular Idaho potatoes today. The dogs love french fries so this might work. The sweet potatoes are pricey. I was surprised that the 6 we used cost 12 bucks! Rah!
That's made me scale back on my dreams of fat goodie bags for all the pooches.
I'm glad for the project though. Christmas always seems better with insane projects and looming deadlines. Its part of the fun. Isn't it?
Yesterday was frustrating in small ways. There was some stuff I wanted to do but I had to wait for the Christmas delivery all day. Someone told me that the delivery was scheduled for between 7 AM and 1:00 PM. I called at 1:00 and was told it was between 12:00 and 5:00. Then the delivery guys called about 4:00 and said their truck got caught in the snow. They showed up about 6:00.
It went well enough. I'm happy with the delivery, so far. I was surprised that the two delivery guys were Jamaican. The shock being that they'd leave Kingston for this frigid, snowy winter landscape. They talked to me about Christmas in Jamaica but never Winter Shades by Mizz Fonky
Click images for desktop size: "Winter Shades" by Mizz Fonky
explained what dragged them all the way north.
While waiting for them I ended up talking to the guy who owns the little apartment building next door. It was a harmless small talk. I was surprised because the guy is only a few years older than me but looks much older. I'm used to that, but he talked to me as if he were even older than that, as if he were over 90 and waiting for death to creep in and grab him at any moment.
Maybe he was just having a bad day. He told me had three kids and got them all the same Christmas present, to avoid squabbling. He got them each a turkey deep fryer.
I'd always thought of deep fried turkey as a Southern dish. He said he'd had it once and thought it Battle Vixens was delicious. He wanted to share that delicious memory with his kids. Then he got worried about whether that was enough of a present.
I told him I thought it was. Even if they didn't react on the day sometime later they'd give it a try and be stoked and remember him and what he was trying to do.
Click image: "Xmas" by WallColl
We ended up with him giving me so snow shoveling tips and advice on how to get the two snow blowers, that I avoid, up and running.
Ended the day by watching a Japanese film, "Rockers". It was pretty enjoyable. I got a copy that some guys I know put English subtitles on. Its a comedy about a a band from Hakata looking to make it big and go pro in Tokyo. There were a lot of jokes about communication in Japan. The kids from Hakata having a hard time being understood by the rest of Japan because of the accents and dialects. Something I never expected.
The music is all Japanese post punk. I liked it.
There's about 9 bands showcased in the flic. One of them had a very cool female brass section! The movie itself forces every conceivable rags to riches musician story into its 90 minutes. All amusing and, at times, oddly exciting.
Warmly recommended for Christmas viewing.

Rushing to get caught up, so todays Christmas music is sort of a hodgepodge. All very cool but hastily thrown together.
Merry Christmas 2008 by S4W
Click images for desktop size: "Merry Christmas 2008" by S4W
I don't imagine anyone expected Joe Pesci, yes, that Joe Pesci from "Raging Bull". The guy who asked, "So you think I'm funny? You think I'm here to amuse you?" in "Goodfellows" would record a Christmas song. If you did you're sicker than I am and we should meet for coffee. I cant speak to the quality of the song the mere fact that Joe Pesci recorded "If It Doesn't Snow On Christmas" is enough for me and should be for you too.
Up there in the I don't believe it is The Mighty Mighty BossTones did "This Time Of Year". A Christmas tune from the kings of punk ska? YOW!
One day maybe I'll understand the fascination that the Scandinavians have with the Beatles and with Christmas, to the point that they have to combine the two. Not only is there the Fab Four but there is also this Danish band Rubber Band here doing "Mary's Boy Child" in a poppy Beatles The Mummy's Hand style. Even the album cover is a take off on the Beatle's "Help" here featuring the four in Father Christmas costumes.
Les Paul was so cool they had to make a special guitar for him. Check out the cool country jazz stylings in his chilled out "White Christmas" he really makes the point that everyone else is over reaching.
And we'll wrap it up with The Pete Currey Orchestra doing "Drums for Christmas". One thing I hope we agree on is that you can never have too many drum breaks no matter what time of year!

December 17, 2008

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom
William "Wild Bill" Blake

Bullet Train
Click images for desktop size: "Christmas Bullet Train" by Unknown
Last night we were watching this old Dave Fleischer cartoon. A Christmas themed one. Where these kids in the orphanage get these old cast off toys that crumble to dust within minutes. The kids are all crying. Christmas is over and ruined. Gramps, the Inventor, is driving past in his horselessHuman Desire sleigh. He hears the kids and decides to help them by taking all the knick knacks in the orphanage and remaking them into cool Rube Goldberg style Christmas toys.
Pretty inventive stuff in six minutes.
My friend asked me if I'd been raised to believe in Santa Claus. I didn't have an answer. I don't think so. I think I was raised more to believe in Gramps, the Inventor.
Frosty by LawnElf
Click images for desktop size: "Frosty" by LawnElf
My best childhood Christmas memory, my "Rosebud" was when I was five. I woke up Christmas day, all excited. I don't have a clue as to why. It was just that it was the day.
There was a Christmas tree and fanned out under the tress were 6 Mad Magazine comic paperbacks. I felt like the richest kid in the world.
Now I realize that my mother had been out on Christmas Eve and either got a tree from one of the lots for a dollar or two and probably ran to Thrifty's to pick up some close out decorations.
The Mad magazines I'd wanted. Mad magazine I thought was the epitome of sophisticated humour. What I actually liked were the loaded up panels of Wally Wood. I couldn't imagine how witty you'd have to be to load all those jokes into a single panel. I fretted over missing one of those jokes.
So I don't think I ever thought much about Santa Claus. I believed more in Christmas miracles. I still do.
Christmas Tree by WallColl
Click images for desktop size: "Christmas Tree" by WallColl
Even when the miracles don't happen I'm to stoic to let it dampen my enthusiasm for the next miracle.
I realize that it lets me feel like my entire life is filled with miracles. My little puppy is a miracle. The gentle dog and the giant dog are miracles. My friend is her own self contained miracle.
Everything that is good that has happened to me is a miracle. I think we all deserve miracles. Except Bush-Cheny. They deserve whatever an anti-miracle is.

It snowed last night. After the muck and the ice the snow was almost welcome. It was a light powdery snow. The dogs and I were still slipping around on the ice it concealed but no one, especially me, fell or hurt themselves.More Fun Comics

Since I'm in such a good mood it seems like the right time for some Anti-Christmas songs. I lost my copy of "Christmas in Jail" ("I was in the wrong lane and feeling no pain"), but John Prine's evil "Christmas in Prison" fills the gap nicely. It also has some pretty lyrics and a flash of ugly humour. ("Christmas in prison, food's real good had turkey and pistols carved out of wood").
Then there's the calm despair of The Emotions and "What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas", which is nothing else should bring comfort in knowing you're not the only person who feels that way.
The country blues of Lightnin' Hopkins' "Santa" and the country twang of Bill Harrison's "'Po Folks Christmas" balance the despair of infinite poverty against the hopes and dreams that might well be one day crushed but for now they're all we have.
Then there's the comedic vitriol of Blink 182's "I Won't Be Home For Christmas". I have way to many friends who've experienced too many Christmases like this. It makes me smile thinking about my Christmases that should have been like this, but for some reason they weren't ever that bad. Miracles, see?
Speedball Jr's "Rudolph's Secret" tries to be nasty but the great rhythm and piercing reverb leads are just too good to make it anything more than fun.

I'm stuck waiting for a Christmas delivery. A close out item. It will cheer everyone up. At least everyone who lives here.

December 16, 2008

Protecting the rich may be the quickest way to hell but its the easiest way to get rich yourself
Allen Stern

Beauty With Cigarette
Click images for desktop size: "Beauty with Cigarette" by Unknown
I fell down last night. Fell down pretty hard and in my own backyard!
The rain and warmth turned the yard into muck and then the sudden deep freeze froze everything Hound Of The Baskervilles solid. The lucky part was that somehow it dried most stuff out pretty well, except for this one strip where the dogs and I wear our paths.
The paths are solid strips of ice. I couldn't see that in the dark.
I fell hard. The dogs weren't anywhere near me but were willing to take the credit. All three were over sniffing me. I banged my head pretty hard, jammed my wrist and my elbow is still hurting.
I examined the area this morning. There's no trace of where my hand hit but there's a nice star from where I smacked my elbow.
Christmas Night
Click image: "Christmas Night" by Wallpapermania
I was glad to see that. I'm a guy and guys know instinctively that we have to qualitate anything stupid, or clumsy and especially something painful to see where it fits into the guys hall of records.
This was a pretty good fall in the ice. Not up there with Bills in the winter of '86 but he had the advantage of being on a lake and getting his butt stuck in the resulting hole.
So not a great fall at all but still pretty good.
The house is reeking of dehydrating sweet potatoes. I'm excited. They'll make great treats for our dogs and even better Christmas presents for the neighbor dogs.
Home for Christmas by Inevitable Imagination
Click images for desktop size: "Home for Christmas" by Inevitable Imagination
The dehydrated sweet potatoes go for like 16 bucks for a bag of five! We've got about 25 going right now. Its been going for 14 hours so far. They look different than when they started out . . . I have no idea how much longer they'll take.
The ones they sell they claim are similar to rawhide but healthier.
We have this vacuum thing that I want to use to "wrap" the doggie presents. No one knows how to work it . . . Its that machine that has these plastic tubes. You put your stuff in the tube and it sucks out the air and seals the bag to make something very slick and professional looking. At least in theory. Just more Christmas excitement.
Now that we have a dehydrator I'm chuffed trying to figure out what else to dry out. Being too much of a guy sometimes I can only think about stuff like toothpaste and nuts. I'm trying to figure out Christmas with the Superheroes what would be totally cool to see all wrinkled and dried out. I usually get into trouble thinking these kind of things. Harmless trouble but still trouble.

Today its novelty Christmas records.
Novelty records have always been cool. Some of them have even been massive hits. They've been around like forever. The most annoying of them had to be the number 1 with a bullet The Chipmunks doing "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)". The brain child of Ross Bogardisian and novelty stud David Seville (prior to this his smash was "The Witch Doctor" not included here). The sped up voices are annoying and deadly to anyone not born with 6 year old auditory sense.
The penetrating effect of this can still be felt in hippie band Canned Heat's Homage and cover of "The Chipmunk Song". Scary stuff.
This actually spelled a whole series of answer tunes from groups like the Squirrels, the Groundhogs. They were all terrible and all sounded the same. One DJ was incensed by kids enjoying Christmas. He did a spoken record that was so teeth gnashingly ernest and sincere it can only be endured at Christmas, Harry Harrison wishes "May You Always" at Christmas. Its just what you imagined.
Fortunately the world was blessed with the Marquees. A black doo wop group that went further out than the Coasters. "Christmas in the Congo" was a Christmas sequel of the other minor hit. This one did so well that the Marquees gave us the rocked out "Santa Done Got Hip". And suddenly the Christmas Ornaments
Click images for desktop size: "Christmas Ornaments" by WallColl
real flood gates were open.
Patsy Raye gave us the remarkable "Beatnik's Wish". One listen and you'll want to become a beatnik! But only because you couldn't afford the clothes to join Edd "Kookie" Byrnes in "Yulesville".
Suddenly for every cloying Christmas track like the psycho "05 I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas" by Gayla Peevey we got to sway with The Enchanters and their "Mambo Santa Mambo".
Since then its never stopped. There's the memorable "Going Up To Bethlehem". Where comedian does a nice CCR rip to make a stomping Christmas tune.
Even today we have bands like The A.K.A.'s covering "Christmas In Hollis" MXPX doing the strange "Christmas Night Of Zombies" which still has one of my fave Christmas lines. Frankenstein's Daughter (Hint: The snow is red)
So this should keep you suspiciously grinning until tomorrow. We'll leave you with The Boys Next Door on Bad Records and their too cool "The Wildest Christmas".
I have to go work on falling down and other important Christmas stuff, like dreaming and walking the dogs and forgetting that there's a world out there that doesn't see any way to laugh right now, who wants to penalize the poor and isn't afraid of ghosts.
I got invited to play Santa back in the town I used to live in. I'll dream about that some.

December 15, 2008

Don't let the fear of striking out hold you back
Babe Ruth

Football Pin up by Al Moore
Click images for desktop size: "Football Pin Up" by Al Moore
The giant dog is feeling better. Much better.
In fact I don't think he recalls a second of how ill he was. This was reinforced after he woke me at The Day the Earth Stood Still 4:30 to go outside. His urgency wasn't related to anything internal. The rain had started and the sound of rain on the ice made him think the house was being stalked by thousands of dangerous kittens.
It was raining so hard the cat that lives here decided to come inside with the dogs.
So he's fine. I will probably collapse sometime today from lack of sleep. Can't afford to do that. Too much to do today.
Spent yesterday watching some pretty poor excuses for football Christmas Tree
Click image: "Christmas Tree" by Unknown
games, seeing Pete Carroll on "Sixty Minutes" (I was impressed with him. Very impressed.) And falling downstairs.
I'd been searching for two movies - the Japanese "Dog Star" DVD, which is very cool movie about a dog who dies. Because he led such a great dog life he's allowed a request. He returns to earth as a human being shape so he can be close again to his female mistress, so he can tell her how much he loved being her dog.
The other movie was "Bobby of Greyfriar", a Disney flic. I don't much care for Disney movies. Not sure why. Perhaps its the consistent stable of directors and cinematographers. For whatever reason I find Disney flics as appealing as McDonalds.
Finally sorted through the stacks and found them. Actually I didn't, my friend did. What I managed to find were some live Stevie Ray Vaughn DVD's which I'd semi-forgotten about.
After sorting through the disks I decided to move them downstairs, to make room under my desk. Since I'm converting everything to H264 they've become more of a back up than a watching media.
I was carrying about 200 of them down the stairs when I slipped on the steps. I was falling and Brocal by Remohi
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Brocal Remohi
trying to catch the movies as I slid down the stairs.
I wasn't hurt much. The disks didn't do well. About 4 of them just split or cracked. Lucky for me these were all movies I had good back up of already. I'm nervous about the others. The basement is not a clean room and concrete skidding plastic is pretty short lived.
There was nothing "vital" in the disks, no last copy extant of the missing footage from "It's A Wonderful Life" where George Bailey throttles Uncle Billy and then sends Zazu out to sell matches on the street corner. But stuff I enjoyed having.
Maybe its all fine. I remember when CD's first game out. One of the approved selling methods was to throw a disk on the floor and then watch the salesman tread on it, pick it up and have it play Destroy All Monsters perfectly. Why did I believe that?
The only other noteworthy event was that the couple that adopted one of my puppy's foster dogs, and whom I'm fond of, STILL HAVE NOT HAD THEIR BABY!
One of my puppy's litter mates is scheduled to have her first litter at almost the exact same time. This is more strain on me than is fair!
My friend wants to start new Christmas traditions. Private traditions . . . Barring a last minute invite from her parents we're going to go to the Chinese buffet for Christmas dinner. I like that for far too many reasons.
The unambiguous ones are that they'll have turkey! With Chinese stuffing? And dog bacon! And neither my friend or I have ever gotten sick there! Has me stoked. I'm working on a better way to line the plastic in my inner jacket pockets to load up on serious dog treats.
The other tradition we should start is to get a dehydrator. While shopping she saw a bag of sweet potato dog treats for $16.00! The plan is to dehydrate a mess of sweet potatoes and then to leave them Christmas eve at the door steps of all of our neighborhood dog friends!
I like that tradition a lot!
The final new tradition is that she should change her birthdate to whenever I arbitrarily decide it should be. I never remember things like that especially when your birthday is after Christmas and Not for Sale
Click images for desktop size: "Christmas is Not for Sale" by Unknown
before the New Years. This year I've decided her birthday is on Boxing Day. Since she won't, or can't, contradict me. It stays and is official.

Doo wop is maybe the purest urban music. Four or five guys hanging around a street corner singing some of the hits off of the radio, learning how to apply church modal harmonies with gospel emotion to a pop ethos.
Doo wop was the streets. There were black bands, white bands and Hispanic doo wop groups, just people raising their voices in song from New York to LA they thrived and made some sounds that are now pure standards. In the pre civil rights days its remarkable that there were several integrated doo wop groups. The odd part is that they recorded and toured with no big fan fare or any particular notice being taken.Dr Jekyll and Mister Hyde
One of the most successful doo wop groups were the Temptations. They got so big that they stopped being thought of a a doo wop vocal band and were seen as the vanguard of the MoTown sound. They recorded what is possibly the definitive doo wop Christmas record with their stellar version of "Silent Night". The only complaint is that it might be too slick and over produced and lack the spontaneous bite that makes vocal music great.
The song builds from the doo wop sound pioneered by that ultra slick and smiling cool of the Platters. The Platters were definitely alright even if they were more geared towards night clubs than flat bed truck stages. Their version of "Silent Night, Holy Night" is worth a listen and carries its own chilly warmth to it.
The Orioles "(It's Gonna Be A) Lonely Christmas" is closer to the roots and has a rough primitive feel that suits the holidays well. While The Cadillacs "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" is nicely ebullient and totally secular reminder of Christmas being fun.
southern group with the awesome moniker The Harmony Grits do a cool version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" that threatens to, but never quite explodes in your face.
The Four Seasons were a 60's hit machine, with pretty good reason. They did a pretty forgettable Christmas album that had a few decent moments, on of them was their pure urban version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".Vaughn Bode
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Vaughn Bode
While the Harmony grits version reeks of the delta and road side diners the Four Season's version smell of Philadelphia and Gimbels Christmas Parades. Good stuff.
One of the great innovators in doo wop was Dion of The Belmonts. Dion DiMucci reinvented himself nearly as often as Madonna. But he followed a musical line not simply fashion. Presently the "King of the New York Streets" is playing acoustic country blues! Its listenable stuff. When Dion was with the Belmonts they never really did any Christmas stuff. I don't think you can talk doo wop without talking about Dion, so here's one his his later tracks, doing that cool Phil Spectre song The Evil Dead "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)". Its more rock than doo wop but it still sounds nice Christmas week.
Doo wop still hasn't died. It continues in a lot of styles and samples. One of the strangest are the large 80's looking acapella groups. Rockapella got famous by doing the title song for some PBS kids show, "Where In the World is Carmen San Diego" . . . they also did a pretty lamentable Christmas album. The track, "Silver Bells" is inoffensive and lilts as nicely as any song ever taken from a Bob Hope movie . . .

December 14, 2008

Is it Sunday yet?

The Vet
Click images for desktop size: "The Vet" by Unknown
The giant dog vomited this morning. There was blood in it.
Being a dog he's staying pretty perky but refused his food even though it had egg in it.The Boogie Man
Have to watch him closely.
We went out and did four hours of shopping yesterday. Not Christmas shopping but just get supplies in survivor type shopping. I started to weaken at about 2 and a half hours. Too much time on my feet with no food and no pain pills. Got through it by steering all the carts and seeing how close I could come to the too many other shoppers out there.Christmas Lights 34
Click image: "Christmas Lights 34" by Unknown

We have discovered that the Salvation Army Store here is pretty good.
Got home and tried to watch a dog movie, "The Twelve Dogs of Christmas." Great title. Movie seemed to have everything, Christmas AND dogs. It was dreadful. Acting so poor that it couldn't be called amateurish. Only the crazy dog lady had a spark of talent but even she got sucked into the poorly conceived role and terrible writing. Even the costuming was insipid, and I've yet to comprehend the reason this "depression era" film was shot through constant heavy diffusion filters.
My friend thought it was exploitive. I just thought it was bad. Had to turn it off when, well, the plot is that this town has banned dogs, which is kind of "huh?" but I could bear with that. They have a Zen Garden
Click images for desktop size: "Zen Garden" by Unknown
dog catcher who seems to have some great disturbance mentally, or at least that's the way they decided to play him. He catches up the dogs in the town and they just disappear. It appears that he hates dogs so much that he sells them to one of those notorious depression era dog fighting clubs . . . okay. I guess there's a lot of money to be made catering to the blood thirsty desires of the homeless and unemployed. I see that's evil but the dog fights are between a female Old English Sheep dog (who was very cute) and a neutered German Shepherd . . . I figure the headline fight was a pekinese against a Chihuahua.
The only commonsensical thing was they didn't show any dog fighting. Instead a 10 year old girl City Without Baseball (with the stupidest hat and pig tails in movie history) swoops down and rescues the dogs while 20 adult men stand around and watch her escape. There's too much dumbness to list and it all comes off as just dull.
The dogs are cute but clearly not movie trained. They claim, as an odd plot point that there are 51 dogs at the crazy dog lady's house. But through out the movie I saw less than a dozen all toll.
This is just a movie to avoid.
Then watched the problematic "Frost/Nixon".
Frank Langella gives a great performance. Its Oscar worthy for sure. All the acting is top notch. The film was . . . not that good. I liked that they hammered home a bit too incessantly that what Nixon was despised for is the same stuff that party boy frat house cheerleader George W is doing and laughing at us about. Its a point worth making.
The focus is too much on David Frost. A Brit mid-atlantic man who comes off pretty despicable in his own right.
I mean here's a guy flying first class, staying in the best hotels and eating at all the best restaurants in LA ad we're supposed to feel empathy because he's using his own fortune and borrowing from his rich buddies to make this massive interview.
I didn't buy it. It made the whole affair feel sleazy, like being in the house of a famous porn star. Langella's performance made it work and held things together. He makes Nixon human and vulnerable while not letting us forget the monster and destroyer that he most surely was.
Christmas-Best Night of the Year
Click images for desktop size: "The Best Night of the Year" by Unknown
Its a fine line he walked and he did it gracefully. It would be like watching someone do a portrait of Hitler.
I was up and down all night. I'll put it off to no college football anymore . . . and worry about Steve Sarkasian proving to me he is a total jerk by trying to hire away the entire USC coaching staff to go with him up to Washington. Doesn't he know that there are other good coaches out there?

Today Christmas music focuses on punk Xmas. I always thought it was funny that punk bands paid any attention to Christmas at all. The first Christmas punk single I heard was from some Gardena band. They did a thrash version of "O Come All Ye Faithful". It wasn't very good. The record had a yellow label. And that's all I really remember about it. That yellow label and its adolescent scream of "we're so rebellious we even hate Christmas, but we still like Boys' Prison presents."
The Dickies thrashy "Silent Night" is the first song I remember having an impact. I got it on this wild 45. It was pressed on clear vinyl that was shaped like a Christmas tree! The other tracks I've lost but they were great too. (Maibooz "Santa's Gone Surfin'" and some turgid mawkish thing I don't remember. I don't have either of them to post.)
That was soon followed up with the freakish follow-up "(Its Gonna Be a) Punk Rock Christmas" by the Ravers. Its bad but funny and incredibly dated. I never heard of the Ravers before or since. Figure they were a mock band made up by some producer with dollar signs in his eyes who figured this could be a novelty hit.
Later on we got the awesome Shonen Knife doing "Space Christmas". A nice bouncy Christmas tune with nice crunchy guitar.
Which somehow leads us to The Presidents Of The United States doing "Space Piglet". This is on a Surfer Sihlouette by Chris Welch
Click images for desktop size: "Surfer Sihlouette" by Chris Welsh
punk compilation. I don't like that the new punk would accept this.
I think that the tradition started with the Seattle garage punks of the 60's. The sonics were part of a compilation album that the producer figured would generate a lot of interest. Its a pretty collectable album. Pretty amazing because its sort of dull. The Sonics stuff rules okay, but the Wailers are mawkish and dull and I can't even remember the other tracks because they're nothing but bad.
The Sonics tune, written to the tune of "Farmer John" was so good it was covered by Gruesomes covering "Santa Claus". The coolness of the chorus, "I want a twangy guitar, a cute little honey and lots of money, Santa Claus," says all I need it to say.
Before they eventually folded like a giant star collapsing in on itself the Sonics did another Marvel Holiday Special Christmas tune, "It's Christmas" doesn't destroy civilization like a lot of their tracks but nothing the Sonics do is ever dull or without interest.

Last week I was 11-5 in my football picks. In the past couple of years that would have been one of my off weeks. This season its one of my best. I figure corrupt officials! Its the only thing that explains the bizarre calls that have become a part of every game recently. My friend was 12-4. Which is easy to explain. She cheated.
With only three games left in the season the really cruddy games out number games of interest and good games. No one is really dominating are looking uncrushable. No one's looking that good either. A lot of teams are looking that bad and a record number of teams are looking remarkably mediocre and boring.
As usual my picks are in bold.

New Orleans at Chicago - I picked the Saints. This was an incredibly unimpressive game. That the Bears will probably end up in first place this weekend is a shame. They're a really poor team. The Saints have broken my heart. They looked just as bad as the Bears.

Washington at Cincinnati - The Redskins are in serious meltdown mode. Their stars are complaining, the intensity is fading as they are looking at another 8-8 season. Personally I don't know how they played so well during that early stretch. The Bengals are officially a disaster. The bright spot of the season being a tie with the Eagles. So the Redskins should pull out of this one Christmas 31
Click images for desktop size: "Christmas Tree" by Unknown
pretty easily and build up some confidence.

Tampa Bay at Atlanta - A game of the week pretender. The Buccaneers looked pretty horrid against the flimsy Panthers last week. Matt Ryan is good but showed signs of the fatigue of the long season against the Saints. Both teams have their back against the wall. You'd have to figure this one to be low scoring and close. Normally I'd pick Buc's coach Jon Gruden to do something stupid to cost them the game, but Ryan looks like he's dealing with a tired arm and dead legs. He might be able to pull it together but the Tampa Bay defense should be too tough.

Tennessee at Houston - Since the Titans have clinched everything you can in the regular season the Texans best hope is for a total loss of concentration by the 12-1 Titans. Otherwise this could beCaptain Video really ugly. I wouldn't be too surprised to see the Texans jump to an early lead before Tennessee wakes up and brings down the hammer.

Detroit at Indianapolis - I can think of no reason whatsoever to watch this game. Its a live scrimmage for the Colts. Calvin Johnson will play well for the Lions but no one will be able to get the ball to him.

Green Bay at Jacksonville - A strong contender for cruddy game of the week. Two teams with lost seasons playing out the string so they don't have to give refunds on the season tickets. No offense for the Jaguars. The packers looking more than a little bit lost and dazzled. I suppose Green Bay could get crazy like they did against the Bears but it seems unlikely on the road.

San Diego at Kansas City - The AFC West is so poor the Chargers aren't officially eliminated yet. These guys are playing for pride and next years contract. Kansas City has some talent but very little on defense. This is another cruddy game but Ladanian Tomlinson might wake up and go crazy. So "Swarm" detl by Tessa
Click images for desktop size: "Swarm - detail" by Tessa
might Larry Johnson . . .

San Francisco at Miami - I'm sure the Dolphins were looking at this as a lock game but after the fire Mike Singletary has bought to the 49er's and proven last week in their thumping of the Jets the Dolphins had better be leery. They've got much more talent than the Niners and they still have a shot at the playoffs. They still have a shot at winning the division. This suddenly is a game of the week contender!

Buffalo at the New York Jets - A lot of the luster is off this game. Two badly exposed teams. This could be competitive for all the wrong reasons. I'm going with Brett Favre to make a march to the playoffs. I'll be surprised if he doesn't throw at least one incredibly painful pick.

Seattle at St Louis - Cruddy game of the week. This could top the Auburn 3-2 game for inept The Crawling Eye humor.

Minnesota at Arizona - The two worst divisions in football put their two best teams against each other. What a yawn. The Vikings D will harass Kurt Warner a little bit but he'll still get his 300 yards. The Cardinal D will still give the Vikings their 13 points and we can all get to sleep early.

New England at Oakland - The Patriots are still mathematically alive in the playoff hunt but Matt Cassel's, the Patriot's QB, father passed away this week. Who can imagine what he's going through. I'm not sure he'll even play even though he returned to the team to practice. A tragic game whatever happens.

Denver at Carolina - Two teams playing bad football even with division leading records. Jay Cutler could lead the Bronco's to a win but their defense is way to poor to stop the Panthers too few strengths.
Santa Checking it Twice
Click images for desktop size: "Santa Checking it Twice" by Unknown

Pittsburgh at Baltimore - Game of the week. Running scared Willie Parker won't do much against a healthy and vicious Ravens defense. The Ravens believe in themselves and are nasty enough to prevent any miracles. The Steelers are leading the division due to inept calls and miracles. The Ravens have seen them already. Joe Flacco, Ravens rookie QB, is playing like a vet and not showing the expected fatigue. this game will have more hard hitting than the rest of the league. This is for the division lead, for pride and for honor. Ray Lewis is fighting Father Time and knows this might be his last chance to be on top of the world. They'll be focused and ready to break the other teams heart. This might be the game of the year. If it goes to overtime we'll se who has the bigger heart.

Cleveland at Philadelphia - The only thing this game will accomplish is to give the sportswriters the Beast of Blood chance to exclaim how the Eagles have pulled a dramatic turnaround and have gotten hot at the right time just like the Giants did last year. Its still a snoozer.

New York Giants at Dallas - The hyped game of the week. It should still be interesting. The guys are pro's so I don't put too much worry into Witten, Romo and Romo punching each other out during the game. What is a worry is just inept the Cowboy offense has looked for the last 8 games. The Giants won't have their top rusher which will keep the game closer than it should be.

As usual these picks are a certain test of your laughing muscles. Even my puppy thinks she do better picks . . .

Giant dog going up and down. Outside by himself now, gorging on grass. We didn't do any Christmas decorating yesterday as my friend has off from the 19th until after New Years. Seemed smart to wait until she could relax and have fun. Sick giant puppy might cause some plans to change. No difference to me or her so long as the big galloot feels good.

December 12, 2008

By laughing at me, the audience really laughs at themselves, and realizing they have done this gives them sort of a spiritual second wind for going back into the battles of life
Emmett Kelley

Virtual Goth Girl
Click images for desktop size: "Virtual Goth Girl" by Unknown
Its snowing now.
The better to camouflage the ice.
Yesterday I only had the giant dog and my puppy to look after. My friend took the gentle dog toAlone In the Dark work with her. Personally I think that being able to take your dog to work is the best perk going and is an opportunity that should be exploited until someone says stop! And then only stopped if the person has sufficient authority to make life difficult.
The giant dog and my puppy both enjoyed the extra attention. We went for an aimless walk. I didn't fall down at all. I had several crazed arm waving, windmilling moments, much to the dogs amusement, but never really fell, much to the dogs disappointment.
I love my dogs. I had a realization that I'm not very concerned about Christmas Cold Winter
Click image: "Cold Christmas Winter" by Unknown
what people think of me but I am worried about what people think of my dogs. I want them to be loved. I think everyone should see the beauty in them that I see.
As you know I'm not very lacking in self confidence or self esteem so I find it odd that I choose to fret over strangers liking the things I love. The only similar feeling is when I was a teenager and it seemed very important that everyone hear and love the new record I'd found. Not my music but a great song I thought was going to save the world.
Another day with not much accomplished. It was fine for all of that. I didn't fall asleep and the biggest trauma was running out of ibuprofen.
I watched the Saints - Bears game. I was disappointed in the result. It really looked like neither team deserves to be in the playoffs. The Saints defense played as stoutly as they are capable but Whale by Vlad Studios
Click images for desktop size: "Whale" by Vlad Design Studios
for a non-stud receiver like Hester to make the secondary look that poor is inexcusable. Even though the Saints are depleted its up to the coach to come up with a scheme to handle that sort of situation.
The Bears defense looked sporadic, occasionally brilliant but usually just bland. Brian Uralcher, Bear's middle linebacker, is one of my favorite players. He's highly entertaining to watch and does some nice unheralded things for kids from his old neighborhood. He was just dull last night. He made a couple of good plays but nothing spectacular. Michael Jordan knew you had to be spectacular every night.
My friend was upset because the Bears designed their field specifically to thwart Reggie Bush. Hard to explain that's one of the rules that defines Home Field Advantage.Christmas Carnival
And I still hate games decided by two last second field goals.
I watched the latest Benny Chan movie, "Connected". Benny Chan is Jackie Chan's son. He's done some promising things but has never really propelled me over the top. "Connected" is just okay. I was surprised to discover its a remake of a turgid American thriller, "Cellular"!
I can understand seeing a bad movie and coming away inspired with the ideas of what you could do with it. A lot of great art has been made that way. But "Cellular" wasn't bad it was just dull.
Adding lots of cool stunts and destruction aren't what's needed to improve the thing.
The Chinese actors are more inspiring than their American counterparts, especially Louis Koo who took a ridiculous part and made it nearly believable. The cinematography was very good. Nice bright primary colors tousled with soft pastels. When you're noticing the cinematography you know the film isn't too gripping.

Back in the 60's surf music discovered Christmas tunes. The coolest part about these records was the album art. Cute girls in Santa Bikinis!
It started with the Ventures. The Ventures have always bugged me. They were proficient musicians but they were never innovators but they were and remain the pre-eminent surf guitar band. I have no idea why. They played Mosrite guitars. Mosrites made some of the most impeccable necks and Sharon Stone
Click images for desktop size: "Sharon Stone"
frets going but their guitar sound was an odd pastiche of Fender twang and Gibson sustain.
Anyway, I guess the big innovation they came up with was to take popular tunes, play a few bars and then segue into an okay version of Christmas tune. Like here, in "Christmas Joy". They make nice muzak which is cool at Christmas.
They made a tradition that continues with stuff like "Jingle Bell Rock" by Surfin' Santa with the Meshugga Beach Party and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" done by Los Straitjackets.
These two versions at least offer some savage playing.
Its no surprise that The Trashmen offer up the best of this weird sub=genre with "Greensleeves" which is as smoking as you can get with "What Child Is This".The Beast From Haunted Cave
A group that's never really done it for me, although they try really hard, is The Untamed. A newish retro punk thrash garage punk outfit. They get into a Jan & Dean thing and try to take the surf into the right place with "Santa's Gonna Shut 'Em Down". It is decidedly okay!
More effective, to me anyway, or at least funnier is the Taildraggers reworking of the classic "Grodes" tune, "Lets Talk About Girls" and transforming it into "Lets Talk About Claus". The joke might be too obscure but that's the way I like them.
Tomorrow we start to decorate the house for Christmas. It excites my puppy. It excites me. Just bringing out our little disco tree gives us a Christmas rush. Unfortunately decorating implies cleaning the house.
I guess I've just outlined the rest of the day . . .
No college football tomorrow. How sad for me.

December 11, 2008

We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers
Martin Luther King

Tides Of Change by Panic Wolf
Click images for desktop size: "Tides of Change" by Panic Wolf
I can't imagine I'm not the only person who's aggravated by George Bush going on about what a great party time he's had as president. He sounds like an unrepentant frat rat, which I guess he is and just never out grew.French Dr No
To celebrate the first black president Bush plans to retire to a restricted community. I didn't think such things still existed. I was wrong. Hatred and intolerance will always find a nasty way to fight on.
I'm also irked that he claims to have saved us from any future terrorist attacks. No freedom. A Stalinist regime and the price he The Three Stooges
Click image: "The Three Stooges"
claims is that we've had no more terrorist attacks. Its not worth it. I lost a friend in the Pentagon crash so I don't think lightly of the hatred that generated that but since there were only two foreign attacks in out history both at the World Trade Center I don't think the suffering Bush inflicts on us as his legacy probably prevented much of anything.
When you don't recant the lies you've been caught out in I find it impossible to accept many other claims.

Didn't do much yesterday. Got some things accomplished but never enough.
Tranquil Surface
Click images for desktop size: "Tranquil Surface" by Unknown
I fell asleep with the giant dog, watching "Law and Order". He woke me shortly after when Jack McCoy came on. He can't control his excitement on seeing or hearing Jack McCoy . . . When I woke up it felt like my mouth was filled with dry blood. This is a new one. I went to brush my teeth and, sure enough, my mouth was filled with blood. I have no idea what caused this. No side effects but how strange.
The internet went out for about 2 hours. Its most worrisome when you only have a VOIP (voice over internet protocol) phone. Still, this is the longest its ever gone down in the 7 months since we've had the cheap alternative ISP (internet service provider). I remember it going down far March Of Comics 7 more often when we had the full over priced dsl service. So no real complaints.
I did feel oddly isolated and slightly anxious not being able to get email.
Took the dogs for a walk. It was worse outside then I expected. A nice cold sunny day but the rain and slush had frozen everything into a nice icy sheet. I fell 3 times. The last one sort of dazed me but no serious damage. And no dogs dragging me down the street by their leashes.
I was looking at some old reports. I think I'm shrinking. Before Thanksgiving I was 6 feet tall and 192. On Tuesday I was just under 6 foot and 188 pounds! I like the movie "The Incredible Shrinking Man" so I think this is cool. You can shrink with no pain and get to fight spiders with a pin for a sword so I'm sort of looking forward to shrinking. I figure if I'm smaller we cannot only have so many more adventures but it will hurt a lot less when I fall on the ice.
Two small pieces of good news. All the schools and hospitals use a couple of different services to black list web sites. Partially to protect the kids and partly to keep the staff from skeeving off. They automatically block all bogs, sex, porn and any mention of weapons. I'm always happy when they tell me they've approved my puppy's site so that the kids can see.
Yesterday I got two such messages. One from the Mayo Clinic and another from the State of Indiana Board of Education. Its the first time I've heard from a state. Usually its a county, or a district Violet Christmas Night
Click images for desktop size: "Violet Christmas Night" by Unknown
and most often individual schools. I put on another movie. The giant dog was excited. He thought we were going to watch his new hero "White Dog" again. He was disappointed when the movie was the Mainland China film, "The Underdog Knight".
I guess when we owe them 3 or 4 years of our Gross National Product its no longer cool to call Mainland China, Red China.
China seems to have decided on two different strategies for their entertainment. There are the big Hong Kong movies that they successfully promote internationally and then there are the films that are intended for just China. Some of those just in China only movies are pretty fantastic. "Assembly" was a devastating war movie, even if it was from the side of the People's Liberation Army.
"The Underdog Knight" is pretty stunning. A much smaller film much more Chinese than I could Santa Claus Conquers the Martians completely grasp. A lot of history that its just assumed that we're familiar with. Its embarrassing that I have no idea who the great Chinese heroes are.
The movie is about Loa Sin. His entire life has been devoted to joining the Chinese Navy, the tough guy equivalent of our Marines. In the Navy he excels. He worships his commander who respects Loa Sin.
Then Loa Sin has to pay the price of heroism. A fellow recruit falls into the icy water and seems doomed. Loa Sin dives in after him and rescues him, The guy he saves is fine but Loa Sin has suffered brain damage from the oxygen deprivation. The brain damage has had a grave effect on his intelligence. He's functioning at about a 9 year olds level.
Its something of an indictment of the system that the kid is given a medal and then sent home with no pension or plan for his care and future.
Loa Sin lives with his mother and trains maniacally. He doesn't practice kung fu but the vicious street fighting techniques used by the Navy. He has a solid grasp of reality but channels through a consistent lifetime of experience and a nine year old grasp of the emotions.
He continues to act as if he is in the Navy. He looks in the mirror and speaks to himself as if he were his commanding officer.
His CO left the Navy and tried to stop a mugging. The CO succeeded but was seriously injured. Loa Sin interprets this as a command. "The word is to destroy evil. I am the word."
Loa Sin attacks purse snatchers, mugger and con men all of which are far too prevalent in modern Fashion Sex Politics and Music 4
Click images for desktop size: "Fashion Sex Politics and Music" by S4W
Bejing. The cops would like to stop him, they call him "Kick and Run".
His mother wants him to stop fighting. His girlfriend, who seems to have stayed in love and loyal to him through his accident, wants him to stop fighting. Loa Sin can't stop. It is his reason for life, to stop the evil, the liars and the cheaters.
He fights and it is brutal. And yet the fight scenes are tinged with this moving desperation. Loa Sin not only needs to fight his battles but we need him to keep fighting for us.
There's a plot. Anthony Wong, the noted Hong Kong actor, plays a fabulous villain. Wong is not evil. He is proud of being a criminal. He has his own rigid code of ethics that are lofty and can only be considered ideals.
The sub plots involve his relationship with the beautiful girl who claims to be loyal to him and clearly loves him and cares about him. There's also his best friend a nine year old deaf kid. Their A Lady Without A Passport friendship is very well portrayed. The deaf kid is probably smarter than Loa Sin and is truly his friend and ally.
Finally there is the Police Lieutenant who is all shot and beaten up. He lost his partner to some of the criminals that Lao Sin beats up everyday. He empathizes with Lao Sin, even admires him. He and Wong are the only characters in the film who feel heartbreak when confronted with Loa Sin's reality.
The plot develops in a most satisfying and exciting way but the movie isn't about police tactics and fighting. Like all the best films its about the characters, unique people who are forged by the world they must live in.
For me its another of the best films of 2008.

Todays Christmas music is a gentler mixed bag.
Untitled by VM
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by VM
I've always been fond of those odd little stings that bands used to put out to celebrate the Season. Things like Dennis Wilson's "Christmas Message" used to play in between the songs on the radio and gave us the impression that we were closer to the pop stars we loved then we actually were.
They've tried to regenerate this tiny Christmas custom with stuff like Jackie Chan's "Christmas Message" . These things have a certain charm for me anyway and when you throw it on the tape of CD they break up the songs nicely and seem to take you to someplace different in Christmas land.
In terms of foreign land Christmases. Here's two. The first is crazy cool weird. A Swedish band calls themselves the Fab Four. They released two albums of Christmas music. The take is that they do the tracks in the style of the Beatles . . . yeah. Its weird. Like this crazy take on "Hark! The Hearld Angels Sing", Aliens 2which is sort of like to the tune of the Beatles, "Help!"
The there's that most foreign land in America, HAWAII. One of the coolest records I used to own was the 45 of Alfred Apaca doing "Mele Kalihimala". It had a picture sleeve with Apaca standing in front of a trimmed out palm tree. I lost the single years ago but remember it fondly. This is a new version, The Blue Hawaiians doing "Mele Kalihimala". Its no way as cool as Apaca's but it's cool in its own right. "Mele Kalihimala is the thing to say on a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day." Cool stuff.
Finally you always need songs that aren't about Christmas per se but still fit the mood. Normally I'm not much into piano music. Too many arguments with keyboardists . . . but this is a song I'd like to learn piano to play. Its another slowed down take on a Buddy Holly number done by another guitarist, Albert Lee singing Buddy Holly's "Learning The Game". Its as beautiful as you can stand it and perfect for tree trimming with that certain special one.

December 10, 2008

Light is good. It lets us see the world we live in
Tsiu Hark

Tangents by M Prado
Click images for desktop size: "Tangents" by M Prado
Can't sleep.
Some pain and discomfort but mainly just the blackness of the world oozing out of the sewers.
The Brain that Wouldn't Die Everybody's got a right to be happy. Don't they?
It really bugs me that there is so much bad going on, companies closing their doors and stiffing their long time employees out of pay checks while we allow the guys with the padlocks to pay themselves then help them go back into business under another name.
Luis Royo
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Luis Royo
I think it was always this way. I don't think there's a time in modern history where the working man controlled his own fate and destiny. Where you could work hard and be fairly rewarded.
I had friends who parents seemed rich. They had money because they lived in the same house for 30 years, kept the same job and lived on about the same money in 1988 that they lived on in 1958. They saved the rest to send their kids to school and to have enough to take some vacations when it was time to retire.
The Forest
Click images for desktop size: "The Forest" by Unknown
Then Reagan destroyed the unions and Bush destroyed the economy and the environment and here we stand, scared confused and bewildered.
I had a good day yesterday. My friend stayed in to work from home and to take me on a couple of errands. I like having her around.
It made the day pleasant even though the weather was atrocious. After 18 degree days 40 seems balmy. There was about 4 inches of snow during the night then there was a steady rain all day. The ground is mud and slush. It is all going to freeze today. Its going to be low 30's and then hit 16 tonight.
There was some good/bad news at her work place. Her assistant had been MIA on Monday. Worried and concerned there. My friend's assistant finally got in touch with her yesterday. She developed a The Gore Gore Girls severe kidney infection. She sent her assistant home from the office.
Talking about that we got into a small discussion about how she has fears about her boss leaving. She believes that things have never gone well for her when a new boss has come in.
I can think of two fairly recent instances where I can see the root of her fears. I don't buy it as a legitimate fear but you can't ever tell people what they feel or make them feel any differently. I don't like her being afraid of anything.
I guess the good news is her assistant wasn't more seriously hurt . . .
The giant dog and I watched a movie last night. The giant dog is a fan of "Law and Order" repeats. I watched a few episodes of the show originally because it had Michael Moriarity and Paul Sorvino in it, then they got in the great Jerry Orbach.
I don't live a life conducive to watching shows regularly but with all the steady stream of repeats it seems near impossible not to watch "Law and Order" almost anytime.
The giant dog recognizes the theme music to the show and when he hears it he gets into the love seat and waits. He'll stare at the TV for a while until his attention drifts but he gets riveted and excited as soon as he hears San Wannamaker's (Jack McCoy's) voice. He stays glued until he stops talking but waits a bit before drifting away.
Last night I watched the Sam Fuller movie "White Dog".
Christmas Handicrafts
Click images for desktop size: "Christmas Handicrafts" by Unknown
Sam Fuller is very high up in my pantheontology. The man makes manic movies that rule. My favorite quote from him was, "Blood is not the color of ketchup."
Fuller had a crime reporter's eye for nuance and detail and an unflinching eye. He worked in melodramatic frame works to lull the viewer into simple acceptance then upended the world with garish flashes of reality.
Fuller's world was full of tough people, people with goals and obsessions. His movies like "Forty Guns" and "The Naked Kiss" gave us women who were soft and feminine but every bit as tough as a man.
His characters all had a central ambiguity as they struggle to achieve their goals while trying to be the person they see in the mirror. Most of the time this is impossible.Tobor The Great
When "White Dog" was first in production there was a strong buzz about the movie. It was based on an article written by Romain Gary, a Hollywood writer married to waif actress Jean Seberg ("Breathless" is her legend making role.) After the story was published he took a lot of flac and heat. Racists in particular claimed he made the whole thing up.
It was a supposedly true story about his wife's finding a "white dog". A dog that was trained from birth to kill blacks.
The first time I'd heard of this was in Louis Lamour's "Hondo" where Hondo explains to a boy that his constant companion dog has been trained to smell and hate Indians. Hondo trained him by paying Indians with bottles of whisky to come in and beat the pup with a stick every day from the time it was a puppy. Lamour some how portrayed this as a cagey good thing to do . . .
In Gary's story white racists would by black wino's or junkies to do the same thing to raise a dog Don't Fret by Lawn Elf
Click images for desktop size: "Don't Fret" by Lawn Elf
that fears and then sees its fear turn to hatred. A dog only sees in black and white so its mental unbalancing is an easy thing to do.
Fuller was always very pro-civil rights and a dog lover. This seemed like a fascinating potentially great film.
Then the studio's refused to release it. After Ralph Bakshi's disastrous "Coon Skin" they feared a major racist back lash.
I can't see it in the movie, but I'm not black. I know a lot of people don't understand why I sometimes flinch at the Frito Bandito or cringe at some of Speedy Gonzaleze's relatives. When your ethnic group only has Alphonso Bedoya, Ricky Ricardo and Freddie Prinze as media role models I can see being touchy.
Thanks to the efforts of a few people in LA the famous and dead Z channel showed the film one time. A lot of people came over to the house and we watched it and we were all pretty disappointed The Maltese Falcon for different reasons.
Last night was the first time I'd seen the movie since 1982. Its been given the Criterion treatment. They're doing a good job of getting Fuller's movies out there.
The DVD looks good. The movie isn't as disappointing as I remembered. There were signs of what could have thrown me into a tail spin.
First the cast Kristy McNicol in the Jean Seberg role. Kristy McNicol was a little actress who got hot for a while because she was on some dufus TV show I watched once and hated. McNicol is no Jean Seberg, who was a fascinating character in her own right. McNicol's performance is bland and stick figure like. There are jarring moments, like when she comes on all 80's disco and Fiorucci and more than a few times she is sitting in scenes looking like a bland hunk of white bread trying to decide if its time to slowly turn moldy, but the performance is bland enough to not distract even though it adds nothing to the story.
Burl Ives does a yeoman's job as the animal training center owner. The surprise was Paul Winfield. He gives a bravura performance as the black genius who is committed in a Dr Frankenstein way to "curing" the "white dog".
Its turns out to be a decent but not great movie.
Five dogs played the central character who is a loving but mentally unbalanced animal. Fuller insisted that the Humane Society be present on the film. The dog actors were the best I've seen in an American film. There was no tail wagging as they killed, they moved with lithe power and it was a grim reminder that the sweet creatures who love us have jaws capable of breaking bones, that they can attack with a cruel punishing power.
I was glad to know about the Humane supervision. I know Fuller to be a dog lover but I always remember that Luis Bunel filmed the beautiful curtsey of a mule by having someone off camera shoot the mule in the head with a rifle! I have problems with art achieved for whatever purpose by using inhuman means.
Giant dog disagrees with me. He thought it was the greatest movie he's ever seen. He sat with me Petlovers by S4W
Click images for desktop size: "Pet Lovers" by S4W
on the love seat and was riveted from beginning to end. He watched intently through out. His expression changed he stood up, he whined and snarled at scenes.
He clearly was not "seeing" the same movie I was. I think his version was better.
He got positively joyous when the "White Dog" escaped from his kennel and ran around the animal compound. Giant dog was ecstatic as the dog ran past elephants and chimpanzees and figured out how to leap over an electric fence.
He whimpered when the dog crashed against the bars of his kennel in an attempt to kill Paul Winfield. And smiled at me when the dog finally calmed down enough to take the cheeseburger from Winfield's outstretched hand.
And he was especially rapt when the "White Dog" chased down Richard Roundtree, chased him through the doors of a church and savaged the man. That made me a little nervous when after theVaran the Unbelievable scene Giant Dog looked at me and smiled, panting slightly. (Maybe I should be nicer to him.)
There was one excellent scene: the "White Dog" has escaped and is prowling the garbage cans for something to eat when a black child comes outside to play. The dog starts to pad towards it and there's real suspense that he'll see the child. The suspense is doubled when the child's mother comes out into the street and scolds the child to come back indoors.
Giant dog raised up during this scene. He was reacting. I think he was watching a different movie than me for sure. I was watching a movie about a good animal transformed and warped by the illogical hatred of men into something that seemed cruel and hurt. He was watching a movie about a dog running around and scaring other animals and getting cheeseburgers for beating up people!
I really have to make a point of being nicer to him. Last night he refused to get off the bed so I Wet Back could lie down!
I think this is a sign that I have to decide just how good of a friends are we?
(That was a joke. We're very good friends and he'd never hurt anyone . . . unless a cheeseburger was in the offing . . . wait, no that's my puppy who'd sell me out for a cheeseburger!!)
I have no idea what, if anything, I'll get accomplished today. That's what bothers me the most about these white nights. What they mean to the day.
I promised some Christmas music. One thing to understand is that when you're in a working band the prime gigs are always New Year's Eve and Christmas week.
A bar or a club Christmas week is a different place. If you're lucky it will be filled with people who just got into town to see their families and are looking to hook up with friends they haven't seen since summer. They're filled with good humor and good will. Then there are the quiet and desperate for whom the holidays only serve to remind them of lonliness and loss. Then there's the hustlers, they are always out and we all know what they're after.
In the band you have to entertain them all and you better have a couple of Christmas songs on the play list or it will become a lost gig.
You need a song that will enchance the good will of the happy, cleanse the mood of the depressed and it better have a rocking beat so the hustlers can dance with their prey.
These are three semi-klazziks.
The Trashmen have always defined teen genius to me. Teen genius is that ability to catch a mood without having a clue as to where it come from. To me its no surprise that they came up with the perfect bar Christmas tune, "Dancin' With Santa" is everything you want in a Christmas song. Its easy t imagine five guys stomping this one out on a poorly lit stage.
Three Aces and A Joker have one of the coolest names in rock and roll history. They're remembered only becasue of one song, a cover, but maybe the greatest cover ever. No one knows much about these guys. Who needs to know. Its all right there in this tough rockabilly punk number "Sleigh Bell Rock". If you don't dig this then I really feel sorry for you. You've probably joined the ranks of the walking dead. This little tune will feed your craving for brains.
Buck Owens wasn't always a bit of a fool on bad TV shows. He was the original Bakersfield Cowboy. Smashing Skating
Click images for desktop size: "Smashing Skating" by Smashing Magazine
He earned the right to wear too many rhinestones by playing clubs that really needed chicken wire strung across the stage. Where a bad set would lead to a bunch of oil workers and construction workers laying for the band in the parking lot. A Friday night is a vauable thing to a working man, to valuable for a cruddy band to mess up. I don't think anybody ever punched out Buck Owens. His Country Western Christmas tune is driving, amusing and oh so cool, from Barstow to Austin "Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy" is the tune to lift you up and make you smile while you wrap your kids presents.
Now this Chris Bailey cover of a Buddy Holly song isn't about Christmas, its still the perfect arrangement for a Christmas gig. Its a slow dnce number so people can get close and its so touching This Island Earth and bittersweet it almost makes you want to get dumped so you have a right to feel this oh so touching pain. When Buddy Holly wrote the song it was a bouncy catchy tune. When Chris Bailey sings "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" it becomes a weapon of pain. Near perfect for the revelers to remember the past year, for the lonely to justify their grief ad for the hustlers to exploit.
And isn't that at least part of what Christmas is all about?

December 9, 2008

Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win
Bobby Knight

Stop or I'll Shoot by The Real 7
Click images for desktop size: "Stop or I'll Shoot" by The Real 7
I don't think there's ever been a great book written about football. Except for things like "Radar Blocking: Its Practice and Techniques" or "Five Hundred Drills for Specific Goals".Squirm
There's never been a book that encapsulates the sport and its players and makes clear the beauty, the drama and the tragedy of the game. No Dickens, or Thoreau or Chandler has ever been able to step forward and codify its beauty.
What we have are things like, "Semi-Tough", or "North Dallas Forty" and "Meat On the Hoof". Decent enough stories in them but they come across, to me anyway, more like expose best seller types. There's no attempt to telling the bigger more global story.
If I was forced to pick the best I'd say that "Friday Night Lights" is Soa Lee
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Soa Lee
the best book about the game, good enough to survive the turgid movie and the annoying TV show. Its more a journal of a season then a story. It attempts to give insights to the players and the drama but being non-fiction it has too much detail and back story to fill in. Often the characters get lost.
And "Remember the Titans" is probably the best movie, but its more a movie about racism and coping with it, using football as a metaphor. The storybook ending may have been accurate but it never takes the time, or maybe has the time, to examine the inner turmoil about the game itself. Things get simplistic. Why would these kids put themselves in this difficult position to merely play a game? One kid because he's fat, another to get that football scholarship etc etc.
There have been plenty of those cheesy "auto-biographies" of stud athletes. They usually start with a bullet list of twenty high points in the stars career and some sports writer who the star is Christmas Sticker
Click images for desktop size: "Christmas Sticker" by Unknown
comfortable with because he sees him for a couple of hours after every game gets a 6 hour interview to fill in the details.
I sucked those books up when I was a kid. I was always looking for the key to being a better athlete. They were sometimes interesting but never illuminating. The writers lacked the skill to broaden the message and the athlete's agent was more concerned about the book then the athlete himself. Normally the athlete doesn't want to look bad or offend anybody.
After Jim Bouton came out with the baseball book, "Ball Four" it looked like things might change. "Ball Four" was funny and a shocking expose of the biggest team in sports at the time, the New York Yankees. It was fun and had dirty words in it so as a kid I loved it. It came close to explaining theStrip-Girls drive to compete, the desire to play a game.
Part of this is because most athletes aren't very articulate. The few that are described as articulate usually get the tag from adding "sir" to the end of their answers.
A lot of reasons for this. I was pretty startled to discover that I'd been trained to not voice words in my head but to see and react.
A simple example is when a teacher asks a question like, "What is two time three?" Most people would go "two times three equals six" and then actually voice the words.
When I hear the question I visualize the symbols and then blurt out the answer. There's no translation in my head. Of course I'm just as likely to blurt out five as i am six, which is part of the reason athletes get branded as dumb. Our life training forces us to analyze things in a different way.
The closest description I can give is like when you're driving home from work. You're thinking about the job, there's a favorite song on the car stereo and you suddenly discover that you're home with no clear memory of how you got there.
It happens to everyone but athletes, especially football players tend to live that way.
It starts on the field. The difference between a guy who runs a 4.4 forty and a 4.3 forty is huge in a straight line. If the guy running the 4.3 has to think about where to go next the extra speed is more than lost.
Sword and Fans
Click images for desktop size: "Sword and Fans" by Unknown
We're drilled to recognize a cover two defense with a blitzing linebacker coming off the edge. The entire team has to see the same thing, recognize it and know what to do. If you have to say to yourself, "Let's see, the SS is playing centerfield and the FS is faking a blitz without committing his front foot while the Willie back is crowding the End so the pass is off and it will be a run to the strong side at the B gap," the play is over and either busted or for a loss.
The recognition has to be spontaneous and symbolic and the execution as routine as your dive home from work.
I have a friend who was a four year starter at Penn State, a defensive end. He was a second day draft pick and decided that rabbiting the NFL training camps wasn't for him. He returned to school and got his Doctorate in Micro-Biology. When he got his degree he taught for a few months before aSweet Smell of Success Fortune 50 company offered him a position doing pure research with his own private lab.
As one of his professor's explained to him, "Too many scientists learn things by rote. They learn the answers and where to find them when they forget them they learn where to re-find the answers. The best way tolerant is to assimilate the knowledge taught and to make it a part of your life, a pure part of your logical thinking process."
The Fortune 50 passed over a lot of candidates for their position and took my friend not because he was the most brilliant but because they hoped that the dedication and tenacity he had shown in playing football at that high a level would translate to the lab and research. He's worked there for nearly 20 years.
Its this ll important facet of the make up of an athlete that all writers seem to ignore to the point of me wondering if they know it even exists.
Now no film director I know of has ever played football. I find this odd because making a movie 3D Abstract
Click images for desktop size: "3D Abstract" by Unknown
requires a lot of the same skill sets as playing football; especially for the director, cameraman and actors. With this rather significant similarity in thought processing I'd expect a more sympathetic approach to sports in movies.
John Hancock made a brilliant short film called "Sticky My Fingers and Fleet My Feet". Its about a middle-aged guy ho is very proud of how much he keeps in shape. Every Sunday he goes to the park and plays a flag game with his buddies. He's the star of the team. Then one Sunday one of the guys brings along his 14 year old nephew. The nephew has to cover our "hero". He smokes him completely. Our hero has his worst game of the season.
After the game he accuses the nephew of being a ringer, a high school stud they bought in to The Boy Who Cried Werewolf humiliate him. The kid never even tried out for his school team. He knew he wasn't good enough.
It was stunningly good entertainment. Hancock got offered a lot of movies, all of them sports related. Problem was that what came across as a paean to dreams was actually, in Hancock's mind a derisive comment on athletes and wannabe athletes. He had a strong antipathy for anything athletic.
This worked to his advantage in the lethargic and macabre "Bang the Drum Slowly", the Robert DiNero, Michael Moriarity film about a major league catcher dying of Hodgkins Disease and his friendship with the teams star pitcher.
But it was the next film that highlighted the attitude of Hancock in particular and movies in general towards sport.
Hancock's next film was the surfer flic "California Dreaming". It starred Dennis Christopher, hot off the surprise hit movie about bike racing, "Breaking Away" and stalwart Seymour Cassell.
The film was a dismal failure. Hancock hated surfing and surfers. A few guys who extra-ed and did surf stunt work on the movie were appalled at the contempt in which Hancock held them. The film failed on every level because the contempt shown through. It was impossible to care for any of the characters. They all came across as arrogant and dislikable. It was a sad movie that undercut its strong script with bad choices.
In fact it started to typify the "sports" movie in that the only way to succeed in one was to ignore the sports and the athletes and focus on the story away from the field. Sports became only a catalyst or as a source of conflict.
Santa Claus
Click images for desktop size: "Santa Claus" by Unknown
Its given us horror films like Oliver Stone's "Any Given Sunday" and tons of teen romance flics. All varying in ambition and all missing the point of playing the game, of understanding the character's motivations and drives.
Its said that a masterpiece is identifiable because it finds its perfect form. Since books and films escape football perhaps it is the game itself that is the ultimate form for the game.
there is more drama in even a bad football game then most movies could encompass. A cast of fifty each one who is pivotal in the final outcome and resolution. Fifty stories focused on concentration that shuts out everything but the task at hand. Fifty stories about what breaks that concentration and leads to disarray. Unfortunately TV sportscasters seldom get involved in anything that deep. They bring up the easy stories like Brett Favre playing the game of his life on the evening The Boss of his father's death. But they provide no empathetic set-up, no basis to understand and to make Favre's plight and tragedy and triumph a tangible thing. Its left to the players on the field to convey those vivid emotions while enacting a play they've been practicing for years. Convey it with ballet like grace and the steady tempo of a driving rock tune.
There's more to think about here, at least for me. I'm just struggling too much to make it clearer.

Its been six months since my little blind dog passed away. Eighteen years since my wife and son were in their accident. Ten years since my best friend Tom died. I miss them and so many others every day.
I keep meeting new people. I'm lucky enough to have loved so many people and so many dogs. I'm lucky that somehow I have the capacity to love my friend and my three dogs as much as I've ever Yakuza Girl by Evgeny
Click images for desktop size: "Yakuza Girl" by Evgeny
loved anyone. All the people, past and present are a part of me. A part I never want to see go.
Looking back through this journal I'm irked that there are a lot of things I've omitted about my daily life. I follow George Orwell's journal. Some guys are presenting it as a blog. Interesting stuff. I like that Orwell was obsessed with his chickens. He records their egg output every day. Some entries only read, "Two eggs."
I need to to something like that. When I look back I can feel what I was feeling then but not always the why for the feelings. I get more of that from the pictures then from the words. Like I say the words are just here to make pretty frames for the pictures.
Tomorrow begins Christmas Music season. I'm going through and picking them out now.

December 8, 2008

For as strong as death is love
Andrei Kravchuk

Sheridan Theatre by Edward Hopper
Click images for desktop size: "Sheridan Theatre" by Edward Hopper
Feeling a touch down today, down tinged with a bit of depression. No reason for it.
I don't think it bio-rhythms or anything like that. (Back when est and bio-rhythms were the thingslightly scarlet-1.jpg someone gave me a full package of the success fad stuff, horoscope, bio-rhythm chart and a visit to a genuine down south psychic - none of it correlated to reality, nothing matched up in the charts for my past and it sure didn't predict my future. But it was fun pretending that it might.)
Everything is fine. As fine as it might be, really. Dogs are healthy. My friend had a down weekend, pain in her jaw and a badly upset weekend but none of it fatal or devastating. I'm so used to feeling uncomfortable that I worry I'll become inured to others feeling uncomfortable.
Click image: "Snowy Christmas" by Unknown
The car is acting odd. Its ten years old. It has the right. Worried about it but it seems to be holding together. Tough little car.
I don't know what's got me down, really. I just am. Not the date or the time of year. I just am.
Its snowing right now. It wasn't supposed to snow. None of the weather reports predicted it. That throws my schedule off. I had planned to shovel off the old snow, clean the fireplace (I am now a total expert of making fireplace fires. Its a lot of work poking at it and using the bellows on it. The hard part is going out into the cold and gathering the wood. I take a hammer with me now to break the wood out of the ice. See, a total expert) laundry and then sort through the Christmas decorations and decorate the yard with lights.
With the snow we've decided, the dogs and I. to go for a longish walk. They promise to try and kill me only a little. I've started to put Christmas music on the iPod. My style of Christmas music. In a couple days I'm going to start posting the non-RIAA stuff. Theword for this Christmas is cool, hot and wild.
I made a slight change on the site. On the archives page I've Split Horn Ermine Tail Bonnet
Click images for desktop size: "Split Horn Ermine Tail Bonnet" by Unknown
put up a little animated tag cloud. I think it looks funny. I'm not too surprised to see that the biggest tag is "dogs" followed by "football". I am so limited in what I appreciate.
I'm still tweaking things. Since its going to be here a year I want to alter things a little bit. I've never been able to get the SQLite databases to parse properly and AJAX and Ruby on Rails have both been derailed, mainly because of my ignorance and the pressing onward of time.
I've wanted to sharpen up my puppy's site for a long while. Its hard as some of the kids are still using 800x600 displays. I'll figure it out, I guess.
So much to say and so little energy to try and say anything.
Things will get better. They usually do.

December 7, 2008


Royal Dream
Click images for desktop size: "Royal Dream" by Unknown
It snowed all day yesterday. Nearly four inches of soft powder.
Not soft enough. It covered up the slabs of ice very nicely so that when crazy dogs tried to get me to play with them they succeeded in knocking me down. I wasn't hurt bad but I'd figure 4 inches ofNight and the City snow should be softer than that.
USC won another Pac 10 Championship. Somehow it feels hollow. One bad quarter and USC is out of the National Title game. I can stand that except I can't quite cope with the over hyped Big 12 and SEC getting the shot over more deserving teams.
Penn State will be a good game and a worthy opponent. I saw Joe Paterno at his first visit to the Coliseum. I sat behind his bench. It was great. I got to see USC win against a legend and I got to see and hear the legend. Very classy guy he was too. The mental image is of him wearing his Penn State blue tie, a gray business suit and clunky white sneakers, standing next to a giant O-Line man who missed a block. Paterno explained to him with grave patience the Grunge Christmas
Click image: "Grunge Christmas" by Unknown
right way to try and handle Tim Ryan on obvious passing downs. It was memorable and educational.
Still, I wish Oregon State had won out and that USC was playing Texas . . .
The USC season seems to be embodied in Mark Sanchez. I adore the kid and think he's a stellar QB. But no one gives him any respect and there are a lot of calls to bench him. The kid threw 30 TD passes. Only Matt Leinhart and Carson Palmer have ever thrown for more. The odd thing is that Mark throws some beautiful balls and then manages to throw some of the dumbest passes imaginable, like there another QB inside him that doesn't want to be great.
He'll be back next year. I think he'll become a killer. I hope so. His support for and in the Hispanic community is endearing. His support of a kid who died of cancer was heartening. He comes across like a young man you would like to have a a son. Someone to be Spiderman
Click images for desktop size: "Spiderman" by Marvel Comics
proud of.

Years ago we were sitting in a Thai restaurant we frequented. We were seated next to a table with two guys and a girl. I recognized one of the guys as Andy Robinson. Robinson gave one of the greatest performances in movie history when he got to play Scorpio, the evil villain in Don Seigal's "Ditty Harry". Robinson was so effective in the role that he found it close to impossible to get work. Casting agents and producers assumed that that type of deep malicious madness couldn't be acted. It had to be real.
Robinson's classic performance was too good, especially in a debut role. Seigal tried to help him out by giving him a different sort of part in the excellent "Charlie Varrick" but Robinson was too subdued to make any real impact. I'd guess he was afraid to unleash the monster within ever again.The Molesters
During a lull in the conversation at our table I suddenly heard Robinson say, "I'm an actor. I did one of those Clint Eastwood movies. You probably never saw it. It was . . . well, just a movie."
Before I knew what I'd done I heard myself saying something like, "You don't need to apologize. That's a classic movie and you were fantastic in it. You were inspirational. If they don't know who you are they don't deserve to be sitting with you."
I got a look from him that I'm sure is the same kind of look that scared the bejeebers out of casting agents. But he said, "Thank you. Its easy to forget that people watch those things. Thanks."
We ended up talking and he gave us tickets to a show he was doing at the Amudsen Theater. I don't like theater but I liked him. I liked how Robinson looked bone chilling and deranged even when he Fashion Sex Politics and Music by S4W
Click image: "Fashion Sex Politics and Music" by S4W
was just talking trash.
That came to mind last night when I watched the semi-remarkable "JVCD". My friend didn't want to watch it because its a Jean Claude Van Damme flic.
I like Van Damme movies. He tries. He insists on directors and brings in talent like John Woo and Ringo Lamm to work with. He tries to be more than just a stony hero.
In "JCVD" Van Damme plays himself. The movie is almost painfully autobiographical. Van Damme produced the movie.
The movie opens with a single take six minute action sequence. Pretty tour de force stuff as Van Damme goes through about 60 guys, fighting and shooting through a clearly stage bound war set. Its impressive stuff and frightening to think of the logistics to get all those stunts in one continuous fluid take with only one camera. Lots of fights, bullet hits and explosions. Very cool.Paleface
When the take ends Van Damme talks to the director, a Chinese kid who is throwing darts at a photo of the Hollywood sign and not watching the take. Van Damme claims he is too old to keep doing these long single takes. The Chinese director thinks Van Damme is a worthless hunk of meat.
JCVD is also involved in a bitter divorce and a custody battle for his daughter. He is forced to sit in a classroom and hear his daughter say she doesn't want to live with him because every time her father is on TV the other kids all make fun of her.
Van Damme wants to make decent movies but his image and his agent won't let him. HE decided to return home to Belgium to try and escape from his pain from the divorce and from losing his child. While there he goes to bank to get some cash. The bank is being robbed and the cops decide that its Van Damme doing the robbery!
There's so many great and telling bits here about celebrity and illusion, myth and reality. But what holds the core is the remarkable self deprecating performance by Van Damme.
Cagily, we keep waiting for Van Damme to explode and take out the robbers and exonerate himself. What actually happens is that JCVD gives a monologue. If it were anyone else but Van Damme it would be considered an Oscar clincher.
Its one of those speeches you hear from a stranger in trouble. Van Damme explains his entire life in one long static take. The revelations are so jumbled and personal you know you're eavesdropping on Studies by Benvenuto Cellini
Click images for desktop size: "Studies" by Benvenuto Cellini
someone's thoughts. When its a stranger you can occasionally look away. And what moves you the most is that the stranger has trusted you enough to share with you the fact that he's another human being.
Charlize Therzon got an Oscar for "monster" a horribly hackneyed film and an atrocious performance that impressed people because Therzon didn't wear make up and had her hair done badly. People love beautiful women making themselves look ugly. I'm not sure why.
Van Damme doesn't use any device that cheap. He strips away the celebrity and exposes his humanity and the hopes and dreams and thrills of being human. Its a magnificent moment.
This is a film to see. Its entertaining and after "The Man Who Was Superman" the best film I've seen Please Don't Eat My Mother in 2008. Oh, its in French mostly which surprised me.
Week fourteen of the NFL. The week where the rookies hit a wall. The space like the 13th round in the old World Championship boxing matches. Its a place they've never been before and its impossible to know how they'll react.
Last week I was a dismal 7-9 . . . it shows the predicament of trying to gauge injuries and the traumas of the long season. My friend was 7-9 as well because she clearly does not understand the sport!
My picks are in bold.   
Oakland at San Diego - It was nice of the NFL to keep the cruddy game of the week on the NFL Network, thus sparing most of us. I watched about 5 minutes before I became bored.

Minnesota at Detroit - Another cruddy game. The only interest is in seeing if Adrien Petersen can break 300 yards. If he doesn't it will be an off game for him. Can anyone believe that the Vikings are going to win the division? Its easier to figure the Lions will go 0-16.

Houston at Green Bay - The cruddiness continues. The Texans are proving to merely stink and not be the total disaster that I imagined. The Packers are a train wreck with hopes. There are some decent games this week.

Jacksonville at Chicago - And this isn't one of them. The Jaguars are just bad this year. The Bears are my pick for most inconsistent team of the year. I can't think of any reason to care about any of the above games. I hope they're not on TV here.

Thirty Feet Tall by persona
Click images for desktop size: "Thirty Feet Tall" by Persona
Cincinnati at Indianapolis - Some place in this country they're playing a game someone cares about . . .

Philadelphia at New York Giants - This is a little better, but not much. McNabb kept the Eagles from embarrassing themselves last week. It doesn't figure he'll do the same this week, even with a healthy Brian Westbrook. The Giants have already survived the Plaxico Buress debacle and should proceed to win a a nice hum drum fashion.

Atlanta at New Orleans - The Falcons are hot. They look real and they look very good. The Saints are the beneficiaries of justice and get back 3 valuable players that the NFL tried to unfairly ban. Return of the Fly Reggie Bush should be in for some play and Dru Brees is still looking like the QB of the year, even more so than Kurt Warner. I'm going with my hearts for the Saints to over step themselves at home.

Miami at Buffalo - The Bills have battled their way back to .500 but they haven't beaten anyone who mattered to do so. The Dolphins are not over achieving and struggled pathetically last week. In the bad weather I think Pennington will look good but the defense will have some issues. Marshawn Lynch is the heart of the Bills team and he should carry them past the superior Dolphins. I changed this pick at the last minute. I didn't realize that this game was to be played at a neutral field in Canada, more to the point that it would be an indoor game! The Bills have given up a win for a few bucks.
Scarlet Cascade by Frank Frazetta
Click image: "Scarlet Cascade" by Frank Frazetta

Kansas City at Denver - This is my insane pick of the week. But it makes sense to me. Larry Johnson is back in shape. He should slash the Bronco's D for about 150 yards. Thigpen is looking better. The Broncos have Jay Cutler who is looking awfully impressive. This should be a cruddy game that gets pretty competitive in a crazy shootout way.

New York Jets at San Francisco - And you thought picking the Chiefs was crazy . . . The Jets have looked good and then they've looked execrable. Singletary has got far less talent on the 49er's, but they keep improving each week. They are playing like a team while the Jets are playing like talented units who sometimes play together but often don't. The Jets should win this one but Singletary's under talented bunch keep comingReturn of the Vampire together. This could be the upset of the week.

New England at Seattle - The Seahawks still look dreadful to me, even at home and even with Hassleback returned and in shape. The Patriots are pulling together but a 39 year old our for a year Junior Seau makes them pretty vulnerable to the run and the short passing game. I'd still don't see the Seahawks being able to win.

St Louis at Arizona - The only thing to see here is whether Kurt Warner can get close to 500 yards against the bumbling Rams.

Dallas at Pittsburgh - Game of the week. I've gone back and forth on this one. Its fun to think about. The Steelers have that D. The Cowboys D is pretty good too. Both teams need the win to stay in the play off chase, the Cowboys need it more. Troy Polamonu should light up Terrell Owens. The final comes down to the Steelers have no Running game at all. Willie Parker is running scared and without abandon. The Cowboys running games is hampered but in better shape. This is going to be good.

Cleveland at Tennessee - Back to the crud. 11-1 Titans against the Browns 3rd string QB. This will be ugly.

Tampa Bay at Carolina - I don't believe in the Panthers even at home. The Buccaneers are playing for it all and look better poised to do it. Jeff Garcia loves Monday night games.

Washington at Baltimore - Runner up game of the week and its the Sunday night game so I'll for sure get to see this one. The Ravens are believing in themselves while the Redskins confidence is cracking. Every match up favors the Ravens.

So 4 decent games out of 16 . . . Doesn't speak well for the NFL. A judge has stopped them from unfairly suspending 5 players. The NFL's repsonse is ugly. They are falling back on an interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement and claiming that thier anti-trust exemption places them above the law.
Much the ame way my picks place me outside the realm of football knowledge . . .

December 5, 2008

Life is a succession of moments, to live each one is to succeed
Corita Kent

Petrouchka by Micahel A Parkes
Click images for desktop size: "Petrouchka" by Michael A Parkes
I've yet to understand how it can be bright and sunny yet there are still snowflakes swirling in the air.Inner Sanctum
Its cold. 18. Everyone else seems to think this is nothing. I think I'm destined to remain an alien. This cold is endurable but it is never something that I think I can accept on any level as being the natural course of life.
One of the interesting things is that the cold has turned everything into ice. The snow that survived the warm (39!) and the rain is now just a solid 3 or 4 inch slab of ice.
This makes it easier to walk the dogs. I just need to avoid anything white or that sparkles in the sunlight. My puppy, as alien to this ice Peace On Earth
Click image: "Peace On Earth" by Unknown
planet as I am seems to slip a lot, especially when she trots around her appointed yards in the yard. I'm worried about her hurting herself. She's very intent on getting wherever it is she needs to go as quickly as possible. She seems to enjoy it though.
I bought wood in to make a fire. I did succeed in a small way in making a fire. It didn't blaze but it did burn and make flames. It didn't seem to warm anything. The hardest part about bringing in wood was breaking it free of the ice.
Today I'll try again.
The NFL is frightening me. This is probably the worst season in years. Too much erratic play. Team seems to be playing with no consistency. Only the Tennessee Titans and the New York Giants appear to be able to keep to a level and then build on it. (As a Ingrid Bergman
Click images for desktop size: "Ingrid Bergman"
team, some units, like the Pittsburgh Steelers Defense, are playing at a high level throughout.)
I don't put this off to "parity" or even injuries. It seems to be a by product of Roger Goodell's inept use of his power as Commissioner.
Goodell cynically appears to be using the sad death of Gene Upshaw, long time president of the Players' Union, as an excuse to gut the players. He supports the corporate greed over the needs of his product.
The owners and referees are not what people pay to see. From Goodell's insane support of the pure horror of inept officiating to his jaw dropping reinstatement of foolish gangsta wannabee Adam "Pacman" Jones he's proven that he'sMark of the Vampire only concerned with image and placating greedy owners and not preserving the brilliant play of his stars and his product.
The inanity of fining players five to fifteen times the amount for exuberant displays and celebrations as he does for illegal season and career ending hits and excusing and praising officials who don't call these flagrant muggings make his concerns clear.
This week Goodell has suspended 6 players for having in their system a diuretic that can, supposedly, be used to mask a certain type of steroid. The drug is in the list that all the players have. I agree that if its in the contract it should be adhered to.
But it seems that in five of these cases the diuretic was an ingredient of a food supplement. An ingredient that was NOT listed in the chemical ingredients. There was no way for anyone to know the supplement included this diuretic without having it examined by a lab and by having the lab look for it specifically.
Athletes need to stay committed to keeping themselves in peak condition. With all the steroid issues right now they all take extra care about anything they ingest from cough medicine to food. Its a tedious task but part of a price for fame.Jesse James Rides Again
The NFL is not a legal system and uses their anti-trust exemption to avoid due process. They've suspended these five players for having a chemical in their system that might be used to mask a type of steroid. They do not have to prove that the athletes were intentionally ingesting the diuretic to mask steroids. If they find a masking agent they bounce you. It doesn't matter that there is certifiable evidence that the athletes were victimized by the company that produced the food supplement. Its not fair but they got busted, no matter how unfairly.
Except in this case the Star Group who produced the supplement told the NFL the supplement contained this diuretic. The NFL knew the secret BEFORE they caught these players. The NFL felt no need to tell their star players that they should avoid Star. They simply knew it and waited for a chance to prey on their athletes.
They knew full well that they could lie by with holding this information. And that by with holding this vital info they could catch someone. Then they could trumpet Goodell's zero tolerance policy and get more anti-trust exemptions and curry more favor with the Government by whittling down the power of their employees. Terrifying the workers.
Plaixco Buress shoots himself in the leg with an illegal weapon. The O'Mara's have a lot of power in the NFL. They suspend Buress for four whole games . . . the NFL is silent.
Its pathetic. It also sets a nice employer-employee precedent that scum corporations like WalMart The Knave Watching Lady Victoria Depart by Maxfield Parrish
Click image: "The Knave Watching Lady Victoria Depart" by Maxfield Parrish
watch with a wise eye.
Things are creepy even at my alma mater.
Steve Sarkasian has been the Offensive Coordinator at USC for 2 years. I have been vastly disappointed in certain facets of his performance, while being very happy with his physical training methods and his ability to relate to the young men on his team.
He interviewed for the Job as HC at Washington University. Nothing wrong with that except he interviewed while the USC season was still going. I figure he got permission. Except he never talked to his team about it.
The kids got to hear about him getting a job offer from ESPN. That's kind of like finding your wife is leaving you by watching Entertainment tonight.
Mark Sanchez, the great kid but inconsistent QB for the Trojans took it pretty much that way.Kiss of the Vampire
This is a pretty serious glitch in Sarkasian's career. If USC looses to UCLA on Saturday I place the blame at Sarkasian's door. A man should progress his career but to ignore the real needs of the players who performed so well as to get him considered for this job is deplorable.

My friend had to take off work today. Last night I made a chocolate oatmeal cookie, sugar free and gluten free and low fat! They didn't come out too well. I was afraid they'd made her sick.
I'm mildly glad they didn't, not so glad she's suffering. She has to sleep with a mouthguard to alleviate the pain in her jaw.
Not a happy household. I miss taking antibiotics. I feel the pain increasing when the antibiotic times Queen of Dorks by Claire Beneton
Click images for desktop size: "Queen of Dorks" by Claire Benenton
come round. I've had to make a small up tick in the amount of pain killers. That does the trick.
So no one happy around here. Except the dogs. They're always happy and can't understand any pain that can't be removed by rubbing on their heads or rubbing their tummies.
At least everyone will be amused watching me try and start a fire. I've never understood why watching me hurt myself always makes everybody laugh . . .
Never seems to fail though so it must be some sort of special talent.
I used to like being special.

December 4, 2008

We all just need a minute

Earth Moon by Xviews
Click images for desktop size: "Earth Moon" by Xview
The weather was just as lousy as predicted. Its cold now. Not frigid but a nasty damp cold that permeates my body even inside.
Even though I did finally successfully get a non-raging fire going in the fireplace the wood is too wetHigh Terrace now for me to take a stab at it again today.
It looks like its going to stay wet through the day until the temps drop own into the 20's and the snow starts.
I feel like sighing.
Yesterday the dogs were so stoked when we went out for our daily walk that I'm going to take them out again today at the first lull in the weather. They were disappointed they couldn't knock me down.
Couldn't sleep well last night. Some of its just my mundane candy_cane.jpg
Click image: "Candy Cane" by Unknown
worries. Part of it is that my friend is in pain now from some of her old ailments. I'm a small expert in pain and it bothers me when someone I care about hurts.
A couple of days ago she went on about how happy she was at work. She was stoked that she was making corn brea and that another guy at the office was making vegetarian chili. She was happy about working. I was glad.
Then she got the word that her level 2 boss was resigning effective January. That sort of ruptured her little happy bubble. She knows it will be okay but for now she's properly saddened. She liked her boss.
Yesterday was more of a set up day to get things done than real accomplishments. I have to bring in the concrete statue that sits on the little blind dog's place. It seemed heavier than I'd remembered and while I was cursing my body for growing weak I finally got the thing to move and discovered it had frozen to the ground and that there was a good four inches of frozen mud clinging to the base, I guess that's a positive to the rain. The mud melted off of the statue.
Nineteen and 57
Click images for desktop size: "Nineteen and 57" by Unknown
I'm not looking forward to bringing the statue in. I liked it outside. It gave me something peaceful to look at. But my friend tells me that the coming cold could crack and shatter the thing! Rah! I really didn't know the cold was capable of that much destruction.
I set up the web site to be renewed for another year. This was partially by accident. I thought I was just insuring I had the option to renew. I do as I can cancel the renewal up until December 18th but they charged me for it yesterday.
I guess I'm good with that.
Two software script things with the site. I've updated to Movable Type 4.23. This was called a MANDATORY security upgrade for an "unexploited security hole". Ever since the WordPress part of The Green Archer the site was hacked I take those warnings more seriously than I used to.
The upgrade went pretty easily. Tedious as usual but easy enough. I remembered not to just dump things in this time so I didn't lose configurations and plug-ins like I've managed to do almost always in the past.
The new Movable Type actually already had the cgi scripts ready made as executables. That was a relief. It spared me that annoying glitch of finding everything not working and then having to go in and switch attributes and permissions around.
It seems a tiny bit faster and still rock solid. I'm a bit curious as to what the security hole was. On WordPress the hacker was able to use its hole to inject a virus that could have infected the hosting services entire server!
ecto, the software I like and use to do the preliminary layout of my posts was sold to a big company . . . I'm worried about that. It used to be kind of nice to be able to squawk directly to the developer about glitches and problems. I've no idea what will happen when a "team" is maintaining it.
The first thing they've seem to have done is end the interminable string of beta's. I think they were up to beta 46 or thereabouts. This is now ecto 3.0. Which seems to mean almost nothing. Maybe there were some fixes but nothing I could notice.
I still use MarsEdit for the final proofing of code and stuff. ecto rules for layout (yes, I really do like Ready For Christmas by SW4
Click images for desktop size: "Ready for Christmas" by SW4
it looking this cramped and messy) but MarsEdit is still the easiest for straight code.
And after living with the AppleTV update I noticed it doesn't do much for me. The new "features" are pretty blah (playlists with audio and video? I mean, like does anybody care about that?). The only visible thing I've seen is that now, in the file listing, it shows a little HD badge next to HD encoded movies . . . I happen to like little badge things but it hardly seemed worth the effort.
BUT, I haven't fully tested this out yet but 2.3 does seem to have addressed a creepy bug introduced in 2.2. Before a Chinese, Japanese or Korean movie would not play! You had to go into Quicktime and change the properties to English for the soundtracks and video tracks then save the m4a or mp4 file to a .mov file. Pretty stupid and tedious extra work.
I haven't got the media files yet to do a full test but tracks coded as Korean, Japanese and Chinese I Bury the Living sound tracks and English video tracks play fine. I don't have any Traditional Chinese tracks or foreign language video tracks to test readily to hand.
For someone like me who watches a lot of foreign movies this is a big deal. Also understand that changing the properties in Quicktime does not change the language! It only trips some flags someplace that tell the AppleTV what to do.
I did realize last night, when we were watching the end of the uber cool "Legendary Weapons of China" that since the AppleTV came into the house I have not even turned on a DVD player! I still like the machine especially with Boxee installed.
One small distressing thing. This is the week of USC UCLA. A week to take the USC license plate frame off the car. (How come so many cops are UCLA fans?) A week to hate UCLA! But a Trojan fan site went a bit too far. They showed a picture of a giant teddy bear, a "Golden Bruin" hanging from a noose from a tree on campus. Which is okay in and of itself, I guess. But there's a little girl about 9 in the picture, wearing a USC cheerleader outfit, holding on to the bear's foot. After the sickening similar sights during Obama's campaign I thought this was in even worse taste than normal. It smacks of UCLA garbage and denigrates our team and tradition.

December 3, 2008

Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten
BF Skinner

Path To Paradise by Adit
Click images for desktop size: "Path to Paradise" by Adit
Its going to be 39 today.
Unless my elementary physics is all wrong (which is possible if not probable) that means that all the First Men in The Moon snow and slush is going to melt and become mud. Mud.
To make sure there will be plenty of mud there's a 90% chance of rain tonight . . . with temperatures falling to about 29 and a 70% chance of snow on Friday.
What that means is ice. Concealed ice. Ice concealed under a blanket of deceptive snow which means I'll be falling down a lot . . . an awful lot. Some people, especially dogs think me flailing around and windmilling my arms to unsuccessfully try and not fall down is really funny. I don't mind being amusing but all that falling hurts!
My White Christmas
Click image: "My White Christmas" by Unknown
I want crampons for Christmas.
I'm still having an internal debate about the web site. The biggest reason for keeping it is my puppy. As seems to be the norm around Christmas she gets a serious up tick in traffic. She also gets an amazing increase in her email. No one has time to read all that she receives. Yesterday I was changing her auto-responder message to reflect the holidays and saw that she has received over 1,200 emails since Thanksgiving. I scanned a few. They offer her advice on being good and admonish her to not try and fool Santa.
I like the ones that tell her to be nicer to me. My puppy, of course, thinks that all of those are forgeries.
I'm fully prepared for which ever way I eventually turn. Yes. Prepared!
The other pro is hearing from people who otherwise would be totally lost.
Back a long long time ago I had a good friend. He was an actor. A political actor. Those are pretty Jeans World Map by Vlad Gerasimov
Click images for desktop size: "Jeans' World Map" by Vlad Gerasimov
hard to find in Hollywood. The only famous one I can think of off the top of my head is Will Greer, who turned his place in Topanga Canyon into a refuge for artists.
My friend was a part of a "Theater Collective". He claimed that was a fancy word for a bunch of "hippie, commie fags." Back in the day that was about the worst thing a guy could be called. My friend wore it like a badge of honor.
Frank was a tall guy, Ichabod Crane tall. He had straw colored hair and dark blue eyes, dark blue like a baby's. He was attractive in a school teacher kind of way. He was deeply committed to certain things. I met him at an Amanda Foundation function. The Amanda Foundation is a good sized group in LA that rescues dogs from the LA Animal Shelters. They have a few acres of kennels and they keep all of the dogs until they find them a home. Frank was there volunteering as Dracula vs Frankenstein a bartender and as a guy who'd help clean up the joint after the fund raising was over.
Being an actor in a "Theater Collective" doesn't pay much, if it ever pays. He believes in things and believes that you have to fight for the things you believe in. When you don't have money you do what you have to do to see things succeed. That he had a lot of causes he fought for I was moved that he cared about dogs enough to give them of his time. He taught me that money is important in the world, important to win that battles and the wars but there are plenty of things people with no money can do, things that make a difference. He also taught me that it is impossible to demean yourself when you are fighting for something that is right and good.
He was a good friend.
I went to his shows in LA. The group toured a lot. The one I remember the most is when the troupe did a tour of Federal Prisons! There were a dozen actors who doubled up as stage managers, costume designers etc. There was one producer who took care of fund raising and bookings.
I never got the plays. I have no idea if they were good or bad. Shows that involve wearing 12 foot tall paper mache statues and dancing around like that while two guys play congas while another guy plays a guitar while the girls sing Woody Guthrie songs backwards kind of miss me. I mean, I have no idea what its about. But I enjoyed supporting my friend in a small way and I always enjoy sound and motion.The Fountainhead
Frank lived in the ghetto. He had a tiny two room apartment in the barrio. It was all he could afford. He'd always invite us over for his Christmas party. I liked the parties. They were filled with deeply motivated people, a lot of who were stark raving mad. I enjoyed the mad ones. He would have his little two foot tree set up and about 100 people would drift around his tiny ghetto apartment and have conversations with the neighbors. It was fun. I felt badly that he had to live in squalor but his parties were still great festive affairs with a lot of fun with no trimmings.
After about 15 years the theater group broke up. Too many maturing people. Too many members tired of living well below the poverty level. It was hard on them. 15 years is a long time to share each others lives, living in a communal atmosphere, traveling across the country , around Mother V by Blood
Click images for desktop size: "Mother V" by Blood
the world together. Learning to live together, to be tolerant of each other, to love each other. And it just stopped.
Frank decided to keep acting. I saw him do a 90 minute one man show in an artist loft downtown. About 80 people there. It was great. Because of the nature of the other shows I had no idea he had talent. The show was funny, sad and moving. All original and all tight as heck.
It was so well received that we found him an equity waiver house by Gower and Melrose where he could do the show. I helped out by doing lights and sound. That was fun.
The show ran for 3 months. Because he was who he was the tickets had the most bizarre pricing imaginable. From free to the poor, to a a contribution for the food bank to 20 bucks for the rich with about 6 stops in between. I got to meet Lily Tomlin there and a lot of very cool more socially awareThe Giant Leeches Hollywood types. Which led to me doing a lot more free work which led to some good paying jobs.
Frank moved on to TV and a few movies. He still works a lot and I get a rush whenever I discover him in something.
But he's not the one I heard from. The guy I heard from was the producer!
I remember him only because he was one of those instrumental in breaking up the group. He managed to finagle his way into producing a movie. A sci-fi thing that was modestly successful, successful enough for him to start a new career as a Hollywood movie producer! Now he's been doing a string of successful teenage horror flics!
But what I remember about him is that in his first two movies he didn't give work to any of the guys he'd worked with all those years.
You can't say that its because he was new to the movie business and didn't want to screw up. He Evil Dead The Musical give his brother and sister big parts. He gave one of his non-acting buddies a speaking part. Just no one that he'd lived with all those years was good enough for even a day player bit, a 300 buck paycheck . . .
Hey. He didn't even give me any work! And at the time our struggling foley studio was still considered the most talented and best in the business!
About five films into his career guilt made him use all of them. None in a speaking part. Got it all over with in one fell swoop. They never worked for him again.
Considering that I've gotten work because people remembered me being at a party I may or may not have been at, or because they saw me talking to somebody somewhere about they have no idea what. Not giving your friends a job when you finally got the chance is sort of mean. Its the basis for about 80% of the work in the industry.
I would say that the producer and I weren't friends, just people who knew each other and had friends in common.
He's not someone I'd ever expect to hear from.
The email says he'd been thinking about me, tracked me down via google. It was a nice note about remembering the past and how the past impacted our future. He claims he took some inspiration from me and valued the way I perceived the world.
Mystic Wolf
Click images for desktop size: "Mystic Wolf" by Unknown
He doesn't ask me for anything.
I guess he was thinking about those Christmas parties when we were young and poor and happy.
I guess it goes to show that you never know how your impacting people. You can only live and stay true to your own course while trying to love the people you love and not hurting other unnecessarily.
Oh, there's no mention of or any offers of work . . .
My puppies and I have a mission today.
We have to mail a letter!
With proper preparation we can turn anything into an adventure!
Just the least of the reason to love them and to love being alive.

December 2, 2008

Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done
Louis Brandis

Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Unknown
I think I over did things yesterday.
Happens. Felt good, felt better getting a lot of things done. Nice not to be cowering under a blanket and hurting.
The Day The Earth Stood Still I did laundry and discovered that the cat (the one who decided to use her teeth like a stapler and my arm as a ream of newsletters) had used three corners of the basement as a washroom. The smell was repugnant.
I cleaned that up. When I went down to put clothes in the dryer the smell had abated so I'm hopeful I got it all cleaned up.
I roombaed a few rooms (love the roomba!) and mopped. While the roomba did its thing I took the dogs for a walk. I managed to stay upright the entire time, much to their evil chagrin. I've discovered another quality of snow on our walk.
I'd always assumed that slush was something made by cars running over the pretty slow transforming it into that half frozen gunk. I was Christmas at Night
Click image: "Christmas At Night" by Unknown
surprised to discover that slush could fall from the sky. It came down as stinging snow with a few big flakes thrown in there and ended up on the ground in growing puddles of gray melange.
Still we got to inspect the neighbors already installed Christmas lights. Kind of dull to look at Christmas lights during the day but we enjoyed it. We have some lights here. I'm inspired to string some of them outside. The house isn't in a place where anyone could see them except us. I don't mind that much.
After mopping the floors I shoveled snow. I don't think my technique has improved much from last year. This slushy stuff was heavy, still slick but had the added bonus of being wet enough to sneak inside my shoe. I got the walks and car home shoveled, cleared the drive way in a sloppy way and kept the gates cleared.
Snow: My Friend, My Enemy.
Marylin Monroe
Click images for desktop size: "Marilyn Monroe"
I got some interesting emails yesterday.
The first was from the animal rescue service I used to foster puppies for. I still feel grateful to them for trusting all those great dogs to me. That I got to meet a couple of great people who adopted my dogs was a sweet fringe benefit (one of them, a couple I'm fond of, is having a baby any day now!!).
Early in November they had to send out a message. They were flat broke. They couldn't rescue any more dogs. I find it odd that the city and county still charges a rescue group money for dogs that the government is planning to cruelly murder.
This was distressing. They're in the midst of doing all those crazy desperate fundraising things, selling coupon books and junk like that.Cinderella
Yesterday I got another email from them. The group won a contest to become "America's Best Animal Shelter". Which is sweet in and of itself. I like a few people in the group quite a lot and was pleased for them. The best part was that the title comes with a $10,000 prize! This pleases me most. My best friend in the group already emailed me that this meant at least 1,200 dogs would be rescued! And she already had 20 picked out.
Seems semi-miraculous. I'm counting it a one of my Christmas presents. Over a thousand dogs I no longer have to worry about!
I heard from one of my kids. He asked me "if I minded all the pain".
If you don't know the kid or understand a coach's relationship to his athletes that might seem like an obtuse and even weird question.
This kid, he's a man now but my issue is that I almost always think of them first as kids, had a Tall Building
Click images for desktop size: "Tall Building" by Unknown
rougher time of it then most. He played right tackle for me. He was excellent. Part of our first National Championship team and was an important part of that team.
He was going to get thrown out of school. Not for conduct but because they'd decided this big kid was mentally retarded. This surprised me quite a bit. I didn't think a mentally retarded kid could learn his assignments for me quite so well.
Fortunately for him one of my coaches was dyslexic. He recognized the symptoms and had a similar experience when he was in school.
With the assistance of my friend we were able to get him tested. The kid was dyslexic. We managed to keep him in school. He did so well he got accepted into a pretty prestigious University. He did pretty well there too. Then he was diagnosed with Crohns Disease.
Being the sort of dummy I am I'd never heard of it. I figured something I'd never heard of couldn'tCornered be that bad. (Sometimes I am such an American.)
When I next saw him I was surprised. He'd lost at least 50 pounds of muscle mass. He looked sickly. He was in and out of hospital but he was still managing to keep on top of his studies and with the bare minimum of concessions from his prof's he was not falling behind his class.
He was stoked because Anastasia, the blues pop star, also has Crohns disease. To her credit while she was on tour she visited kids in the hospital with the same disease.
It finally came that the kid was going to graduate university. I was as proud of him as I'd ever been of any kid. All that was left were his finals and he was pure confidence about them.
Then I got the call that he was in hospital. His bowel had ruptured and he had certainly developed peritonitis.
I visited him in hospital while he was having surgery. Most of his old teammates were there. Some of them had taken it on themselves to contact his school and set it up for him to take his two remaining finals after he got out of hospital.
Another kid had driven the kid's mother to the hospital so she wouldn't have to take the tube. All of them were very solicitous of her.
I was proud of them all, proud of the kids who had grown into good young men. A bit dismayed that I'd never noticed it before. I put it off to the beauty and integrity of the game I loved that they had all played to the best of their abilities.
My kid survived the operation. He survived the entire ordeal. He graduated with a BS degree and Mandan
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Mandan
started to work. He's living the life he's dreamed of.
I remember him giving me a lift once from the leukemia hospice, shortly after his operation. We shared hospital stories and he showed me his colostomy bag . . .
When he wants to know "if I mind the pain" I know what he's asking and why. I only want him to be alright.
There's plenty of times you have to be tough in this life. I hope its not too often and not ever now for him.

After reading yet another email about how I could love animals and not be a vegetarian . . . my friend got home from the first day back at work. She was sleepy. She still spent nearly 4 hours making vegetarian shis ka bab. Desperate Hours
I tired to start a fire in the fireplace. It didn't go well. I burned up most of the paper designated for recycling and a couple of those camphor smelling "fire starter" blocks and nada. I managed to burn all of the wood up but never got it to burst into pretty warm flames.
If I were a cave man we'd all be eating cow sushi and grinding beans between our teeth.
I did get a good high quality smolder going on. Lots of good smoke and little heat . . .
To celebrate I had to go out and continue shoveling newly fallen slush.
I think I was a California kid for a reason . . .
The dogs enjoyed the shoveling although they were, as usual, disappointed I didn't slip and fall down.
I didn't watch the cruddy football game. I watched a South American movie called Tres Dias. An odd Sci-Fi thing. A meteor is going to strike the planet earth and its a dead lock that no one will survive.
Rockin' Cadillac
Click images for desktop size: "Rockin' Cadillac" by Unknown
At first it was pretty interesting as it told the apocalypse completely through the eyes of a small Chilean village, with fuzzy TV pictures and suicides. (All the communication satellites are not out, planes are crashing as the earth magnetic poles getting skewed.) It was interesting but then it got silly.
The prison guards abandon their posts and all the prisoners escape. One brutal convict decides that the last 3 days of his life should be used to get revenge against this guy and his mother in this little village. Its sort of dull as a thriller. Especially after it was being so elegant in its depiction of the small and bewildered people trying to grasp the enormity of their mortality.
I went to bed relatively early. Good thing. I was up at 5. The gentle dog was barking at something outside. Turns out it was the cat . . .

December 1, 2008

Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever
Napoleon Bonaparte

Its All Tears by Flisky
Click images for desktop size: "Its All Tears" by Flisky
I really enjoyed this Thanksgiving. More than I have in years and years.
It was everything Thanksgiving is supposed to be, food, football and family.
The Big Clock I'd be wistful about it except that Christmas is coming.
I still get giddy at Christmas. No sensible reason why. Still no money. I've already gotten all my gifts. The only presents I can buy are things for the dogs.
I get to put up our tree. That makes me remember. Remembering is always a good thing. Remembering the good Christmases and the bad ones. Love and hate but always with strangers struggling to recall goodwill and stuff like that. Even now I remember my second grade teacher explaining to the class what "Peace on Earth" meant while we made up the big class bulletin board for Christmas. It seemed big at Christmas Time
Click image: "Christmas Time" by Unknown
the time anyway and with nothing but white paste, rounded scissors and construction paper for tools and seven year olds for workers and designers it was big enough.
Its a safe bet this Christmas will bring enough memories to add to the cornucopia. Why shouldn't it.
The only downside to the whole weekend was the NFL. I think this was one of the worst weekends this year. Almost all the games were dire. The games were almost blow outs and when they weren't the play was so sloppy it was hard to care. Instant replay is making games tedious and the officiating just keeps getting worse. Far more aggravating is the total lack of consistency of the calls. Not just from officiating crew to crew but even within the game itself.
While I appreciate Roger Goodell's concern about off field behavior (the Plaxico Buress incident this weekend smacks of Leon Spinks inanity. The bigger concern, I think, is that Buress is dragging his La Belle Ferroniere by Da Vinci
Click images for desktop size: "La Belle Ferroniere" by Da Vinci
teammates into his self serving party world) the quality of the game is deteriorating.
Its going downhill because of the creepy actions from the commissioners office. Fining a second level linebacker who's making a million a season $5,000 for a flagrant cheap shot on a star player is not going to prevent that sort of nonsense from going on, especially when stars are fined $75,000 for "excessive celebration" for making a game winning play.
Personally I get a kick out of the celebrations. They're entertaining. (I don't think they should be allowed in college or high school but in the pros its just entertainment.)
The idea that not projecting the "image" of the NFL is 15 times more important than protecting the players who we pay to see play at the top of their game is disturbing and seems an inept way to Captain America protect the "product".
Maiming the stars that people are willing to pay to see so they can sell another video of "big hits" . . . I like big NFL style hits too, but I like it when both players pop back up and continue the game. There's enough injuries with clean hits.
The college game is being destroyed by the BCS. The BCS responds too much to politicking and to hype. I think that almost all of the voters see only two or three of the games they're voting on. Its always been that way. But at least then the arguments were entertaining.
The computer systems are an horrific joke. One hundred million stats could not compile the heart of a player let alone the heart of a game. Computers don't spit out objectivity by looking at mere numbers, they merely reflect the prejudices of the guys deciding which numbers are important. All statisticians know how to make the numbers be real and how to make them lie.
I'm pretty ambivalent about a play off system in college football. It works well in Div 1AA, Div II and Div III. It works astonishingly well in College basketball.
The 8 team playoff seems too long to me. Another month of abusing young bodies for entertainment is more than a little creepy. I think that only guys who never played 1A football could embrace that, and of course some schools who could see this adding about 150 million more bucks to the coffers.
A four team playoff seems more doable and more sensible. Two more games is a lot, would Lucy Liu
Click images for desktop size: "Lucy Liu"
generate a lot of money and would keep things on a keel to decide who is the best. It also should not interfere too much with education. Remember that even on a National Championship team only about 10% of the players are going to have a career in professional football, so education should always be the primary goal.
A two game play off would also partially obviate the hot team squeaking into the Championship. College ball has always been about the season, the whole package, not about a wild card team starting to click at just the right time to sweep in.
I could enjoy a two game play off without too much guilt.

I still haven't made up my mind about the hosting site. I've checked around and Blue hosting The Brain that Wouldn't Die remains one of the cheaper services out there. It also has been pretty reliable. The problems I've had with it have all been short lived. I have no complaints with them at all.
The pricing bugs me some. Its like 10 bucks a month for one year, 8 bucks a month for 2 years and 6 bucks a month for 3 years . . . so the deal would be 3 years but who can come up with that much cash? Coming up with one year would be rough enough. Maybe its just being broke that bugs me. And the fact that while I'm in a good mood I still don't know whether I'll be around in 3 years. I'm not a business or a corporation.
There's a big part of me that likes the idea that once I'm gone the site vanishes. No moping around.
I'm inclined to keep the hosting service. My only real reason is my puppy's site, the only reason that seems worth the money anyway. So I'm not sure that keeping it going isn't just laziness and a Europa by Soa Lee
Click images for desktop size: "Europa" by Soa Lee
spoiled luxury.
Free hosts have pretty steadily declined. Mainly because of spammers and scammers, I guess. And now they all seem to be weighted down with obligatory advertising. Huge banners and pop ups that they automatically place on every site each time they serve a page, so that seems out.
Someone suggested a .mac (now .mobileme). Its slightly cheaper and comes with beau coup fringe benefits. As a hosting service .mac doesn't have near enough bandwidth or storage space for even just my puppy's site.
I'm downloading the whole thing now. Just my puppies site is over 10 gig! Lots of pictures and movies!
All toll the whole site is over 22 gig . . .
I am downloading the whole thing and changing the stuff to be prepared for whatever I decide. I'm Blacula nervous waiting for my decision . . .
I'll give it a lot of thought while I'm doing laundry and shoveling snow today.

The antibiotics seem to have done all they can. I still have pain but its not a totally absorbing pain. The worst is from what, I assume, are two abscesses. One in my tooth and one in my hip. They still get electric at times but I can smile now, something I couldn't do for a couple of weeks.
I also note that I am no longer aware of the antibiotics wearing off. Before they gave me about four hours of relief. A drag when you're on a 12 hour rotation.
My ibuprofen intake is down to about 2400 milligrams a day and I'm close enough to comfortable to not argue the point.
In fact I can even spend time considering the career of Johnny Burnette.
Thinking about Johnny Burnette and Christmas, friends and dogs is indeed a sweet life. No time to even consider mortality!
I like it when I can savour being alive and can look forward to this day and the next day.
It seems like a sweet dream.