Monday, July 25, 2005

Monday Fortune

Fortune from Chinese restaurant at lunch today:

"You are soon going to change your present line of work."

Even though I realize this is just a random burp from the universe, it makes me happy. (See my profile.)

Lucky numbers:
3 19 16 34 2 41

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Everything You Love Is Crap

Dr. David Thorpe at Something Awful says all the pop and rock albums and artists you love suck.

On the Beatles:

Yes, everyone knows that they started out as a fairly irritating pop band beloved by shrieking, frumpy teenage girls, but that actually isn’t why they suck. Things didn’t start getting really unbearable until John Lennon and George Harrison turned into pretentious, drug -addled proto-hippie cultists and Paul McCartney decided to start writing whimsical ditties. Ringo, of course, did not have to make any significant adjustments in order to suck. For every memorable "classic" Beatles song, there are five that are annoying novelty songs, four that are unbearably dated, three that are worthless R&B covers, two that are failed sonic experiments, and one that’s written by Ringo.
What is so amazing about these iconoclastic, and caustic, essays is that they are so intelligent and funny you don't end up with the feeling that Dr. Thorpe is an asshole. Seen on Strange Doctrines.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Giant Inflatable Chickens!

Do not fear. These chickens have been thoroughly searched and pronounced to be nonthreatening by the NYPD and the NYC Transit Authority.





Friday, July 22, 2005

Friday Poodle Random 10

A random list with several coincidences. Rated on the GEEK scale of 10 (the most embarrassing music geek territory) to 1 (West Coast Chopper Jesse James cool).

1. "Moonlight In Glory" Brian Eno & David Byrne My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Magnificent blend of funk, the found object and the divine process of Enossification. Astonishing synergy. 6 of 10

2. "Dad" John Cage Complete Piano Music Vol. 7. About 17 seconds of heavily Erik Satie-inspired eccentricity. Oddly enough, the Gracenote CDDB category for this track is "Alternative & Punk." Not really so far off the mark, actually. 10 of 10

3. "O Leãozinho" Caetano Veloso Beleza Tropical: Brazil Classics 1. Lovely, soft crooner from Brazilian national treasure Veloso. The title means "Little Lion." 2 of 10

4. "Hard Times Killin' Floor Blues" Skip James Skip James Today! One of the most distinctive voices in the blues. If you hear that ghostly wail just once, you'll remember it for the rest of your life. This is a powerful, haunting song. 1 of 10

5. "The Blimp (Mousetrapreplica)" Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band Trout Mask Replica. You know it, you love it. Recorded through a fly's ear. 5 of 5

6. "Samurai Code Quote #1" Forrest Whitaker Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai Soundtrack. The only rap CD I own. Mr. Whitaker reciting from the Hagakure, early 18th century "book of the samurai" by Yamamoto Tsunetomo. From the Jim Jarmusch picture. NA

7. "Moon Going Down" Charley Patton Founder of the Delta Blues. Rough and stompin'. A voice like whiskey, cigarettes and sharkskin. “Aw, that moon has gone down, baby, North Star 'bout to shine ... more” 1 of 10

8. "Poem For The People" Chicago Chicago II. A tune from back when the music meant something, man. Gorgeous piano/horn section intro. 6 of 10

9. "Spiritual" John Coltrane Live At The Village Vanguard: The Master Takes. From 1961. Soulful and dramatic. Features both tenor and a mindblowing soprano, AND a probing, singing bass clarinet solo by Eric Dolphy. 2 of 10

10. "Jupiter" John Coltrane Interstellar Space. Can be a difficult listen. Starts with the simplest of motifs and rockets straight into space. It's a masterwork, however, recorded five months before Coltrane himself flew from this world. 4 of 10

Result: 4.1. Somewhat damaging to geek credentials, not enough to score Sandra Bullock.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Mad World, Bad Plan

In response to a second attack on the London mass transit system, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that random searches of commuters' bags and backpacks will begin in city subways Friday morning.

People who do not submit to a search will be allowed to leave, but will not be permitted into the subway station. The police commissioner said officers would take pains to avoid singling people out for searches based on race or ethnicity.
Right.

So who will be searched? How can such a decision be made? Furthermore, the NYC subway system has 468 stations and carries some 4.5 million passengers on an average weekday, according to the Times. An impossible situation--wasted time, wasted money, shattered privacy and not one fucking bit safer.

Very disturbing development.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Supreme Court Nominee John Roberts


I think the best I can do here is to take you on a somewhat random opinion tour:

The Debate Link: "Could Be Worse"

Daily Kos: "I'm willing to hear the guy out. We're not going to get a Ginsburg, but I'd be happy with an O'Connor-style moderate conservative. For all we know (and for all the religious-right knows), Roberts might be that sort of guy." [Wow! -GIP]

Instapundit: "What do I think of him? Beats me. Just searched his hearing transcripts on the right to bear arms and found nothing. How is he on federalism and other limits on government power? Beats me again."

Michael Sticking at The Moderate Voice: "I'd call him a right-wing radical" (Don't miss Joe Gandelman's commentary and comprehensive overview of blogosphere opinion on Roberts. Joe G on Roberts' chances: Unless there is some fiery, smoking gun he'll probably eventually be confirmed.)

Power Line: "It's a great day for conservatives and for America. Thanks to President Bush for nominating the best person for the job--or, certainly, one of the best people, along with McConnell, Luttig and one or two others--rather than taking the easy, politically correct way out."

Progress for America: "terrific nominee" (And they've launched JudgeRoberts.com to drive the point home.)

Senator Harry Reid: "someone with suitable legal credentials," whose record must now be examined "to determine if he has a demonstrated commitment to the core American values of freedom, equality and fairness." (From The New York Times)

The News Blog - Steve Gilliard: "Nice guy, wants to control women's bodies"

The extremes notwithstanding, it doesn't exactly look like the fight of the century, does it?

A Clockwork Beethoven

Viddied this browsing CNET Tech news: A site called The Unheard Beethoven offers MIDI versions of obscure works by lovely Ludwig van. Haven't had a chance to hear all proper yet, droogies.

According to the site: "One catalog of his compositions runs to 849 separate items. While several hundred of these works have been recorded on one medium or another, there still remain literally hundreds of other works which have never been recorded at all, or which have never been published in widely available editions or in some cases, never published at all!"

Will certainly check this out. The sound should be good; the programmers say they have been using the Garritan Personal Orchestra digital instrument library -- listen to this sample from Garritan's site. Quite impressive. (Part of GPO will be bundled with Finale 2006.)

But it strikes me that there may be a reason why these unheard pieces have been unheard for so long. Can't imagine the classical music recording industry leaving any valuable stones unturned.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

"I've Already Said Too Much"

These were the words Karl Rove used to end a conversation with Time reporter Matthew Cooper. The conversation was the one in which Cooper first learned about Joseph Wilson's wife and her role in Wilson's trip to Niger. This comes from Cooper's article,"What I Told the Grand Jury," in the latest Time magazine. Cooper also mentions a conversation with Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff Lewis (Scooter) Libby:

On background, I asked Libby if he had heard anything about Wilson's wife sending her husband to Niger. Libby replied, "Yeah, I've heard that too," or words to that effect.

So Libby is another source.

And the lie from the White House just keeps getting bigger.

The Time story is by subscription only, but here is a summary from the New York Times.

San Francisco Photo Post

My GOD it’s humid today. New York is just a dripping, stinking section of large intestine at the moment. I can’t bring myself to go outside. So from the chilled comfort of this thoroughly air-conditioned apartment, I’ll post some pics from my trip to San Francisco earlier this year. It was just a short jaunt -- a few days away to ward off job-related madness. I tried to see a few parts of the city I hadn’t visited before. I loved the Mission District. You can see more SF photos at my Flickr page.


An establishing shot.



A mural from Balmy Alley in the Mission District. A narrow strip of crumbling pavement, several blocks long with houses leaning into it on both sides -- most are covered with brilliantly colorful murals. Some of them are just fantastic. Check out Precita Eyes Mural Arts if this appeals to you. More pics and info on tours of the area, if you’re planning a visit.



A detail from the Women's Building in The Mission.



A window inside the Mission Dolores.

At Seal Rocks.



While I was there, Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh did a book signing (Searching for the Sound, his personal story of life with the Dead, had just been released) at a shop in Haight Ashbury. Here he is after about 2 hours of scribbling his name and talking nonstop to reverent Deadheads.

The Big Picture

I had not planned to post anything on, or even think about, Rovegate today. But this NYT piece by Frank Rich, "Follow the Uranium," frames the issue so beautifully, I had to enshrine it here. Some choice bits:

This case is not about Joseph Wilson. He is, in Alfred Hitchcock's parlance, a MacGuffin, which, to quote the Oxford English Dictionary, is "a particular event, object, factor, etc., initially presented as being of great significance to the story, but often having little actual importance for the plot as it develops." Mr. Wilson, his mission to Niger to check out Saddam's supposed attempts to secure uranium that might be used in nuclear weapons and even his wife's outing have as much to do with the real story here as Janet Leigh's theft of office cash has to do with the mayhem that ensues at the Bates Motel in "Psycho."

This case is about Iraq, not Niger. The real victims are the American people, not the Wilsons. The real culprit - the big enchilada, to borrow a 1973 John Ehrlichman phrase from the Nixon tapes - is not Mr. Rove but the gang that sent American sons and daughters to war on trumped-up grounds and in so doing diverted finite resources, human and otherwise, from fighting the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. That's why the stakes are so high: this scandal is about the unmasking of an ill-conceived war, not the unmasking of a C.I.A. operative who posed for Vanity Fair.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Chinatown



Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown!

... Line! ...

Nothing is funnier than unhappiness ...

Read more here.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

GIP Random 10

In honor of some blogs I admire (a fine way to describe ripping off somebody else’s idea), here is a Random 10. So that you may better know GIP. With commentary.

1. "I Talk To The Wind" King Crimson In The Court of the Crimson King Mellow; includes flute choir; fondly remembered from cannabis-saturated high-school days

2. "Consciousness" Pat Martino Consciousness Smoky, hypnotic; a little rambling; Eric Kloss composition; like it says in the liner notes of Pat Martino/Live! “Pat is a bad cat.”

3. "Ramble On Rose" Grateful Dead Steppin' Out with the Grateful Dead England '72 Great nonsense lyric and loping rhythm; better than average vocal by Jerry

4. "Virginia Avenue" Tom Waits Closing Time Bluesy, rolling tune from Tom’s debut

5. "Bye-Ya" Steve Lacy Reflections Great Monk tune; stellar soprano sax

6. "Piano Sonate No. 10, op. 70" Alexander Scriabin Scriabin: The Piano Sonatas Vladimir Ashkenazy -- piano Impenetrable; ecstatic; Ashkenazy plays the living crap out of it

7. "Desert Players" (with Jerry Garcia) Ornette Coleman And Prime Time Virgin Beauty Odd synthetic percussion, funky pseudo-Arabic sound; downright undistinguished guitar from Jerry

8. "Ludus Tonalis XXIII Interludium" Paul Hindemith Ludus Tonalis John McCabe -- piano A delicate waltz just before the final fugue of Hindemith’s contrapuntal labyrinth Ludis Tonalis; a petal floating on deep water

9. "Ruby My Dear" Thelonious Monk The Complete Blue Note Recordings Even greater Monk tune; Monk played the piano the way I imagine da Vinci would have drawn if he had been forced to use a 6-foot pen: rough and awkward, but pure invention in every line

10. "Hoe-Down" Oliver Nelson The Blues and the Abstract Truth Like the bit on Whose Line Is it Anyway: fun, hard to dislike, even if you do feel a bit irritated when it first begins

Now you know. I’m a MUSIC GEEK! And an old fart too.
Peace on Friday, everyone.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Yeah, I Think I Missed It

A friend sent me a link to a story called "In Case You Missed It: Karl Rove, Whistleblower." Good for inducing hilarity or complete madness. The gist is that Rove is a hero for his outing of Valerie Plame. A taste:

For Mr. Rove is turning out to be the real "whistleblower" in this whole sorry pseudo-scandal. He's the one who warned Time's Matthew Cooper and other reporters to be wary of Mr. Wilson's credibility. He's the one who told the press the truth that Mr. Wilson had been recommended for the CIA consulting gig by his wife, not by Vice President Dick Cheney as Mr. Wilson was asserting on the airwaves. In short, Mr. Rove provided important background so Americans could understand that Mr. Wilson wasn't a whistleblower but was a partisan trying to discredit the Iraq War in an election campaign. Thank you, Mr. Rove.

(Embarrasssing snort.)

How to explain this delusional thinking? Well, it all depends on your perspective. If you're planning a crime, anyone who tries to get in your way is A BAD GUY. Anyone who shames and discredits that BAD GUY is a hero. Pretty simple, really.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Whipping Boy

White House press secretary Scott McClellan took a pretty good beating at the hands of the press yesterday. And the blogosphere--one side mostly--seems to be having a wonderful time with it. I saw the video (thanks Crooks and Liars) and will admit to getting deep pleasure from watching Scotty squirm like a bitch. But, then, that's his job in situations like this: to take it in all available orifices for the administration.

As encouraging as this development is, however, seeing Rove frog-marched seems like a long shot. From today's New York Times:

The 1982 law that makes it a crime to disclose the identities of covert operatives is not easy to break. It has apparently been the basis of a single prosecution, against Sharon M. Scranage, a C.I.A. clerk in Ghana who pleaded guilty in 1985 to identifying two C.I.A. agents to a boyfriend there.

A prosecutor seeking to establish a violation of the law has to establish an intentional disclosure by someone with authorized access to classified information. That person must know that the disclosure identifies a covert agent "and that the United States was taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States." A covert agent is defined as someone whose identity is classified and who has served outside the United States within the last five years.

(Read the whole article.)

Lots of ways to wriggle out.

COMIC, BUT NO RELIEF
If you're seeing this, you've probably seen the Norbizness post on the McClellan orgy. If not, please give this a read. Quite brilliant.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Sopranophobia?

To protect young men in the Lone Star State from the slightest hint of gender confusion, the Texas Music Educators Association has a rule that boys cannot audition for soprano or alto roles in that state's All-State Choir.

As a result, 17-year-old Mikhael Rawls, who already has won awards for his countertenor--the male parallel to soprano--can't try out in the part where he excels.

In an effort to bring Mikhael's voice down to more manly levels, educators tried convincing the boy he was related to Lou Rawls, whose deep, buttery tones the board prefers when listening to hot male singers.

Incipit

"They're out there."

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Brutal Week

Haven't gotten around to posting anything on the London attacks because of a punishing shipping schedule, but this sunny Saturday afternoon in the East Village provides the time and place.

Difficult to begin. First, there is sorrow and sympathy for the victims and their families. And a sense of connectedness with, and understanding for, Londoners who may never feel quite the same about, or completely safe in, their city. Anger at the senseless murder of working people in buses and trains. Empathy for countless Muslims who may be victims of suspicion or mindless attempts at retaliation; who may feel shame at having their religion unfairly tied to horrific violence and extremist ideologies.

Can only hope this most recent outrage can be a turning point of sorts. Let's hope that much of the horror toward terror that seems to be pouring from many parts of the Muslim world can filter up, toward governments in the Middle East, which have mismanaged, misrepresented and mistreated their people. Let's hope it can be a moral fulcrum where revulsion, fear and rage are leveraged into resolve and action. Let's hope that one big government in the West realizes that it is time to open up avenues of discussion with the dispossessed and disenchanted. It's time to face the problem intead of simply trying to kill it.

Peace eventually.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

For That Long Drive ...

... Down Hubbert Peak:

Sixty-one dollars a barrel of oil
sixty-one dollars for oil
if one of those barrels should happen to fall
sixty-two dollars a barrel of oil.

Sixty-two dollars a barrel ...

Repeat until Wal-Mart collapses.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Karl Rove Source for Plame Outing

Check this juicy bit from The Huffington Post. Lawrence O'Donnell, senior political analyst at MSNBC, says that he revealed--on a taping of the McLaughlin Group--that none other than Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Fireworks for the Fourth. Is it schadenfreude that GIP feels? Hell no. It's genuine, justifed, undiluted delight. Hope it's true. Thanks Dr. R.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Cat


Approaching 15 years of age ... former child star ... history of psychotic behavior ... often surprisingly affectionate ... much loved in this Brooklyn apartment ...

O'Connor to Resign

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is resigning. Not very good news. A key swing vote position Bush will try to fill with an ideological stablemate. Really frightening. Don't let the president abuse his power: Here are some things you can do, right now, to help.