31 August 2006


More on Blogging

This isn't my only blog.

There's also the ERAU Tech Blog. We also tried to get the McKinley family using a blog for family event news and the like, but it never really took off.

30 August 2006


Voting for Smith

I'm going to vote for Smith in the Democratic primary for governor.

(1) His web site has a direct, clearly identified, position supporting lesbian and gay rights that's easily found though a Google search; Davis's position is buried, voiced by one of his guest bloggers, and not labelled.

(2) I think he's a harder hitter, and I think the Democrat had better be prepared to hit hard if we want to win this one.

(3) The previous Democratic nominee was from Tampa and lost.

(4) Upstate Democrats and DINOs might (are likely to?) abandon Davis in the general election, but South Florida Democrats won't abandon Smith. I doubt that they'll stay at home, either.

One guy's $.02. Caveat elector.


For Kari, at the News-Journal

When and why did you start the blog?
This, the second go 'round at this blogging activity, formally started on 15 October 2005, but I didn't really start to post again until 10 December 2005. I started the original Timatollah blog on 16 May 2002 and put it to sleep on 1 September 2003.

Why? I had opinions and a point-of-view that I wanted to share. Also, it gives me a way to keep in touch with people I care about.
What’s the size of your readership e.g. hits per day?
Somewhere between five and twenty-five. You can check this Site Meter link. In this incarnation, I was getting the most hits regularly for a while after this post about the late Denise Denton. I still get several hits a day from people searching on her name.

Most of the people who read this are family and friends. Thanks to my brother Dan and to his sons Sam and Mike and to Sam's girlfriend Abby in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, to Bryan T. in Nashville, to MKH in Miami, to Mr. Lane in Ormond Beach, to Kit in Pensacola, to Ken G. in California, to Jim J. in Ormond Beach, to Joe F. in Boston, and to Brent McK in Elkhart, Kansas, for reading regularly, as well as to several other regulars who I don't know who they are. And to anyone else who happens to give this a minute of their precious time on this planet.

(Dragonleg: If you're out there, drop me a note! I miss you and your blog.)
Do you ever write about personal things?
I'm a gay man in a committed long-term relationship, and I write about that. My partner, Mack, and I have, all in all, great relations with our families, and I write about that. I write about quite a few things that matter to me personally here, including religion, politics, and sexuality, in addition to music I like, movies I see, nonsense I find on the web, and more.

But, let's get real: I'm almost fifty. This isn't some teenager's diary of frustration. If anything, I hope it's a celebration of life lived. A phrase that has long moved me comes from the words of the television adaptation of The Martian Chronicles (nowhere found in Bradbury's anthology of short stories): "Life is a gift from the creator of the universe. To be savored. To be luxuriated in."
Do you feel safe putting info about yourself online?
Basically. As far as I can tell, not too many of the people I work with or who are my students read this, but I've always accepted the fact that they could. If my writing publicly were to have negative impact at work because of something I've said here that has nothing to do with work, that wouldn't speak very well for my employer or the people I'm around at work, would it? The fact is that ERAU is a quality employer, my peers are great people, and we have a talented and tuned-in student body. It's difficult for me to imagine my writing here causing me trouble at work, unless I wrote poorly or said something incredibly stupid or factually wrong. I like to play dumb, but I try not to be stupid.

The single thing I'm most embarrassed about is the name. As a nickname, it was given to me by a co-worker when I was a driver/technician for the Nuclear Pharmacy in Nashville, Tennessee, during 1981 and 1982; i.e., when Ayatollah Khomeini was still in the news. Since I had solutions to all the worlds problems and didn't shy away from announcing them, he dubbed me the Timatollah. I wonder what people think when they run across that.
Do you censor yourself when you blog?
Yes. I can't control other peoples' sensitivities, but I don't have to pretend they don't have them. I don't have to kowtow to them, but it doesn't hurt to strive to be polite. I may not always achieve that ideal, but I do try.
Do you enjoy blogging? Why?
Sure. I get to talk about my own non-mainstream politics: I'm a yellow dog Democrat who believes in (1) a strong national defense and military and vigorous international presence, (2) human rights protection through civil rights legislation for all Americans, including those who aren't heterosexual (no surprise there) -- that includes marriage or the functional equivalent thereof. I know how much extra taxes I paid when I was working and Mack was going to school compared to a similarly situationed heterosexual couple, and I know how much Social Security benefits don't get transfered to him when I die -- and (3) Western civilization as something worth defending vigorously. I'd rather not live under Islamic totalitarianism (or any other form of totalitarianism, secular or religious), regardless of what the polite word for describing that this week is.

I still think there was a real casus belli with Iraq that had nothing to do with 9/11: Iraq had repeatedly disregarded UN resolutions regarding weapons inspection, and enforcement of the resolutions through military force was perfectly justified. I've had to acknowledge since then that in addition to a casus belli, a victorious army has to be prepared to do what it takes to ensure the security of an occupied nation. We didn't do that, leading to much justified consternation with us among the Iraqis. Couple that with the fact that the Iraqi army got away with their munitions to form the core of the Baath part of the insurgency, and you have what evolved into the situation we have now, all courtesy of bad civilian leadership of the U.S. military (fill-in-the-blank: Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld). Our rank-and-file military deserve nothing but our respect and appreciation. Some of the military leadership might have made better arguments for the need for additional troops, but, in the end, they have to do what the civilian leadership tells them to do. That's our system. That means we hold the civilian leadership responsible.

The Iraqi people may have had the opportunity to vote in an election, but without physical security, they can't be said to have the kinds of freedoms that we take for granted every day. Which is not to say that even if they did, their years of repressions with required revenge and their own religious disputes wouldn't make it impossible for them to savor those freedoms. To luxuriate in them.

29 August 2006


Good Neighborliness

A true tale from Hidden City's Mark Kevin Hall, here, at Burnett's Urban Etiquette.

Read. Enjoy.


Death Blizzard Update!!!

Sorry. When I lived in New England, the local "media" there treated every snowflake the way the local "media" here treats every tropical weather event. IN ALL CAPS!!!

Here's the latest from AccuWeather:

Here are the main impacts for Florida. We expect a 2- to 4-foot storm surge in the Keys east of Marathon up to the southeast coast near Key Biscayne and a 1- to 2-foot storm surge west of Marathon. There will be a southwest storm surge of 1-2 feet along the southwestern Florida coast late tonight and Wednesday morning. We expect sustained winds of 50-55 mph with gusts to near 65 mph as Ernesto makes landfall over deep south and southwest Florida tonight. As Ernesto tracks over land, the strongest sustained winds will decrease to 40-45 mph. These sustained winds will be mainly along and to the east of the storm's track with perhaps gusts to 50 mph mostly along and off the east coast during the daylight hours of Wednesday. Those strong gusts will also occur over higher buildings. Rainfall will average 3-6 inches with perhaps some higher amounts in places that get multiple rainbands. The heaviest rainfall will generally be east of a line from near Naples to Orlando to Daytona Beach. The highest amounts will probably occur closer to the east coast. There is also the potential for tornadoes to form to the east of the storm's track. That will impact eastern and southeast Florida during the day Wednesday.

Once Ernesto passes Orlando it will move to the coast near Daytona Beach, then off the coast between midnight and 3 a.m. early Thursday. We expect Ernesto to be a minimal tropical storm at this point....
We should get a lot of rain, which is a good thing. This tropical weather stuff is the natural order of things around here.

Here's a cool Google Maps / National Hurricane Center mashup.

More.... Mack reports that when he went to Costco to buy gas, because his truck needed gas, it was about like it was the other day. Nuts. Crazy Pulitzer-Prize winning human Dave Barry continues to report from South Florida, where they have been similarly girding for the storm:
Here in South Florida we are continuing to gird for Tropical Wave Tropical Storm Hurricane Tropical Storm Moth Fart Tropical Storm Potential Hurricane Ernesto. We are so girded that our loins ache. The TV people are already hoarse from standing outside gas stations, supermarkets, Home Depots, massage parlors, etc. informing us that we are all girding. On the fuel front, every man, woman, child and household pet in Florida currently possesses -- counting vehicle tanks, generators, and gas cans for generators -- at least 350 gallons of gasoline. God help us if anybody in this state lights a match. Here in Miami-Dade County school has been canceled until Halloween, just in case.
Meanwhile, my institution is shutting down at 11:45 a.m. tomorrow. The class I have to teach tomorrow? From 10:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. So it goes. See you on the I-4 in the rain.

28 August 2006


El Hurricane Ernesto

We were in the path yesterday, which is a pretty good predictor that we won't be in the path when push comes to shove. We went to Costco to pick up some photo prints and get some gasoline -- just an ordinary weekend stop -- when we realized that Central Florida was in HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS MODE; i.e., there were people at the gas pumps filling up multiple 10-gallon gasoline jugs to power their generators if/when the power goes down.

And buying bottled water inside.

Hell, we got caught up enough to buy some bottled water. "Just in case."

Dave Barry -- all together now: "I am not making this up" -- has more on hurricane preparedness here.


"Hello, world!"

Hi there, friendly reader.

Just been busy here. Academic semester started today: First classes and all that. And last week was the wrap up of the research project I've been working on since last December. Hence the absence from the Wonderful World of Blogishness.

More soon, hopefully.

Oh yeah, about the title of this post. I'm teaching CS 332, Organization of Programming Languages, this semester, so I've got the Kernigan and Ritchie "Hello, world." program on my mind, but in lots of different (programming) languages.

19 August 2006


Two Three Years Hence: Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy"

Dude's name is Mat Weddle, and the band he's in is Obadiah Parker from Scottsdale, Arizona. Link via TripCart, where one of the linkers noted, it "...illustrates just the basic, fundamental power of a great pop song". Found via http://del.icio.us/.


It Just Smells Funny

From Bob Mould's blog, here:
Tuesday, August 16, 9:30 Club. Rollins Band was a loud, physical experience. Henry keeps on keeping on in his own uncompromising way, and that's why I have respect for him. X were fun as can be - lots of songs from the first two albums. An older person fell (out of the balcony?) during the set, creating a loud and palpable thud. Seeing a reflective puddle around the still form, I ran to grab a paramedic. Upon leaving the club, I saw the person standing and talking, albeit very slowly. Punk's not dead.
Apologies to Mr. Zappa.


Department of "Snakes on a Plane" Department

In her review of "Snakes on a Plane," Dana Stevens at Slate discusses Samuel L. Jackson's character's leadership:
Jackson's character is ultracompetent, decisive, and intelligent, both humanitarian and hardheaded: in short, everything you could want from a leader in a time of crisis. Faced with ever more absurd challenges (my second-favorite line in the movie is Jackson's impatient, "Now what?"), he calmly figures out solutions, one snake at a time. Jackson even makes an impromptu leadership pep talk to the surviving victims. "We're all dead!" moans one loser (who will later be swallowed whole by a python.) "I'm not," Jackson counters crisply. It's just what we'd like to hear our commander in chief say: Things are bad, really bad, I'm not going to lie to you people. But we're still alive, and together we're going to find a way to get these motherf***in' snakes off this motherf***in' plane.
Now, if only we could find a way to get those motherf***in' terrorists off this motherf***in' planet, followed by other whack species of religious types, followed by several genus of criminal polticians. It's not too much to ask.

(Yes, I know, current monetary policies are probably making the terrorist threat worse than it could be by making it easier for the terrorists to obtain weapons, but that doesn't mean those mofos wouldn't need relocating elsewhere even with better policies. It would be better, of course, if they would make other choices that didn't make poofing them out of existence so appealing, but, hey, they may say that about us.)

(And, yes, I know that going nutzo over the terrorist threat is disproportionate to the actual likelihood of the impact of a terrorist event.)

(What else can I say? How about, "now more than ever, or else the terrorists have won.")


For Brent McK.

(a) This.

(b) This, as suggested in comments to (a).


Addendum: But wait, there's more.

18 August 2006


Actual Good News

The federal Pension Protection Act signed into law by the president yesterday include (1) provsions that allows transfer of one's retirements benefits to one's domestic partner's retirement plan, without lump-sum penalties, in the event of one's death, and (2) provisions that allow one to draw on the funds in one's retirement plan to cover medical emergencies affecting one's domestic partner. Other non-spousal beneficiaries are similarly covered.

Here's the Human Rights Campaign press release. Link via Towleroad.


In Dreams

Only in dreams.

17 August 2006


You Can Stand the Excitement. Yes. You. Can.

Motivated by what Kit, formerly of PaperFrog, is doing with his new More Minimal blog, I cleaned up the sidebar. The blogroll has been replaced by a link to my Daily Web Scan page at our website.

16 August 2006


Buh Bye, Sploid

Sploid, my favorite source of news twisted to the limits of truth and decency -- i.e., like Drudge, as often as not a great source for what's going on in the world -- is being shut down by its robot corporate overlords. Here's Ken Layne's last tabloidesque entry for that which was Sploid.


"Dusk of the Dead"

The other night, we watched "Dusk of the Dead," a movie starring Mack's cousin, Brent, of Elkhart, Kansas. The premise is cool: It's what was happening in southwest Kansas at the same time as George A. Romero's "Night of the Living Dead." Flesh-eating zombies, etc.

Okay, so it's an ultra-low-budget direct-to-DVD digital-video produced-on-a-Mac (bonus points, there) featurette with more attention to the setting and the zombies than to, oh, the script. It's still a fun watch. (Uh, it's challenging in the listening department: The sound recording, editing, and effects are extra-special super-duper-ultra minimal.)

I have no idea how you can get a copy (Brent?) When I learn how to dub a little bit to the You Tube thing, I'll do so (fair use for critical purposes, of course). For all it's low-budget challenges, I thought it was a blast.

It wouldn't surprise me if within a few years there were a bunch of these: Tellings of the NotLD stories from local perspectives. (Sam and Abby? How about southern middle Tennessee?)

p.s. This is not the "Dusk of the Dead" you can currently find on You Tube.


Brokeback Visit

Part I. The Overwhelming Heterosexuality of Existence

So, close to a moon ago, Bryan asked:
So did anybody realize y'all were "different"?
And I wrote a long reply -- it may have been the best thing I've ever written -- seriously -- really -- no shit -- and then the internets ate it. Well, actually, the Firefox program on my computer, which, as Bryan noted in the comments, is usually a sweet application.

So, back to the subject of "did anybody realize?"

Who knows? When we're together, I figure it's obvious (bonus track: Pet Shop Boys, "It Must Be Obvious") that we're gay men, that we're a couple. But I also know how overwhelming the expectation of heterosexuality is. I mean almost any person who is in the closet (for whatever reason) is presumed, at least at the surface-level business of day-to-day life, to be heterosexual. Sure, people will gossip and wonder and snicker about whether so-and-so is gay, but when it comes to that person face-to-face, it's, "Are you married?", "Whozit (opposite sex) in the mail room is single, would you like me to fix you up with them?", etc.

I mean, it's socially impolitic to ask someone outright if they're gay, even though almost everywhere in the USA these days, most people know, through some social institution, someone who is gay and out. For those who aren't out, it seems to be really really important, both to straight people and to gay people, to protect the closet status of closet gay people.

(Don't get me wrong here. People who choose not to come out usually have what seem to be very good reasons, to them, not to come out, and regardless of the fact that most of their fears about the negative consequences of doing so are not grounded in reality, the magnitude of the negative consequences in those very few cases where those fears are grounded in reality -- loss of family connections, loss of friends, loss of job -- are serious enough that you don't just sneeze at their concerns. They're their concerns, after all, and I'm not in their skin. If I were, I might opperate the same way they are. I did for years.)

So, even though it was probably obvious to some of the people at the Oyster Ridge Music Festival that Mack and I were two gay men, a couple in a committed long-term, there were probably even more people there who invented their own reasons for us being together there with Valerie and Kendall: They're father and son. He's her (Valerie's) brother, and he's his (Kendall's) brother. They're all just good friends. The human mind is very good at constructing theories then not testing them to see if they're bullshit.

Part II. A Brokeback Moment

SkySo, there we were in western Wyoming. The setting of both "Brokeback Mountain" the short story and "Brokeback Mountain" the movie. Valerie, Mack's sister, had a shepherd's stove in her living room used as a coffee table, and she told us about how sometimes you have to stop for shepherds moving sheep from one part of BLM lands to another. My brother Ray, who used to do the long-distance haul trucker thing, brought that up, too, when I told him we had been to western Wyoming. (I know Valerie's read "Brokeback Mountain" the short story, and it wouldn't surprise me if Ray had seen the movie -- on DVD, of course -- but neither of them metioned that in the context of talking about shepherds on BLM lands in western Wyoming.)

There we were in Wyoming, where just a few years ago, Matthew Shepard was killed, almost certainly when it comes down to it, just for being gay. Of course, people in Wyoming, as a rule, aren't like the two guys who killed Shepard any more than people, anywhere, are, as a rule, like the two guys who killed Shepard. But there are cultural matters that correlate with geography -- Kemmerer, Wyoming, is not like San Francisco any more than Iraq (put those diapers on those goats, some dude might pop a rod, and who knows what that could lead to -- and this is in a country we liberated supposedly for Democracy) is like the USA.

So was I nervous? I hardly thought about it. I was no more nervous or concerned than I am any other public place, than I would be at a music festival or concert here in Florida. But how would one live there? How would two men have a life of emotional intimacy in that setting? That was the kind of question the characters in "Brokeback Mountain" had to deal with.

Mack and TimTheir answer, unsatisfactory as it was, was to meet up, take the horses, and go camping on BLM lands. And when we got back in the woods on those four-wheelers, I could remember the kind of liberation that being out in the woods with someone you care about -- or are interested in, in the case of my own history in rural middle Tennessee -- can give you: a security, a peace of mind, that you can't have "in town" (whether Kemmerer, Wyoming, where nary a word was said to us, or Nashville, Tennessee, where I was once assaulted -- decked in the middle of Lower Broadway -- for being gay and in the wrong place). When you're that far away from the rest of the world, it's easy to be yourself when being yourself is a threat to the rest of the world and the rest of the world is a threat to you if when you're being yourself.

The critics who suggested that the characters should've moved to the city likely don't understand that security that comes with being in the woods, in the mountains. It's not baggage free; what is? But being out there, alone with someone you love, away from other people, is a very comfortable and secure feeling. So, if you were gay -- even if you couldn't say the word -- and from that part of the world, going to those hills, those woods, those mountains, for a few weeks a year with the one you love -- even if you couldn't say the word -- would be a perfectly good short-term solution to the problem of being who you are in the place where you know how to be.

11 August 2006


We Interrupt This Holding Pattern...

Reality, in the form of crazy Islamacist yahoos with explosive-filled sports bottles and disposable cameras -- or iPods, even -- has intervened. And reality deserves comment.

(1) Why all the concern by media and Washington types over whether this was an al Qaeda operation or an isolated cell? Surely we've learned that isolated cells, independent of some central control, actually are capable of these kinds of operations. And if we haven't learned that, then we need to give ourselves a large swift kick in the ass.

Could it be that, like the changes we introduced in Iraq, complete with the premature announcement of "Mission Accomplished" as W purportedly landed his own self onto the deck of whatever aircraft carrier it was just a few weeks after the fall of Baghdad, that al Qaeda just might not have been put out of commission as thoroughly as they should've been? That the current President is incompetent and incapable, and deserving of censure, if not outright impeachment?

(2) Still, like a stopped clock, a lying SOB like Bush occasionally tells the truth. (Unlike a stopped clock, it's probably not as frequently as twice a day.)

There are Islamacists who are about as close to fascists as any other people on this planet at this time. What's the big deal with referring them to "Islamic fascists"? Nowhere in there is any implication that *all* Muslims are fascists. Not a bit. People who can't make the distinction between Islamic fascists and Muslims who aren't facists probably don't have the compute power to get the subtleties among "Islamic fascist," "Islamacist fascist," "Islamofascist," and any other turn of phrase to capture the essence of those who are trying to kill us, anyway, so where is the offense? Would "Islamacist yahoos" as I used it above be any less offensive to those complaining about "Islamic fascists"? I'm skeptical that it would be.

(3) Here's what to do while on Orange Alert:

So we’re on Orange Alert. So what, you ask? Some of you may not remember exactly how we’re supposed to act on Orange Alert. Do we wear orange shirts, or say “orange you gonna eat that pickle?” or buy more oranges at the supermarket? No, no, no. Orange Alert is all about Americans striking the right tone of fear, so we can wig each other out to maximum effect. Here are just a few ways you can help your neighbor feel just a bit more anxious:


2. Furrow Your Brow. I know, you’re thinking about whether you’d rather have Cheerios or Honey Nut Cheerios with tomorrow’s breakfast. But in these times all good citizens are thinking, hard, about how things will never, ever be the same again. So think “dead babies, dead babies, dead babies,” and furrow that brow.


4. Say “Now More Than Ever” a lot. It’s like a get-out-of-jail-free card in monopoly, except this is real: anything you say preceded by “Now more than ever…” is automatically true in an Orange Alert. Try it: it really works, especially if you add “or the terrorists win” at the end.

5. Dismember Irony. Remember how right after the attacks of September 11, 2001, they said “Irony is dead”? Well, how ironic, ’cause we’ve got to kill it again. This time, with a shovel, and then a wood chipper.


Via Irregular Times, where you can get your "Had Enough? Vote Democratic" bumper sticker.

Had Enough? Vote Democratic

09 August 2006


Holding Pattern

Hi, folks. Thanks for reading.

A little slow on the posting here this week. Finishing summer projects and ramping up toward the start of the academic year. I still have the post that got eaten by Firefox on my brain -- the overwhelming heterosexuality of this world plus Brokeback moments -- but I don't know when I'll get back to it.

In other news, a few pics to pass the time.

(1) We took the dog to the dog park last Sunday. Here's a pic of our dog Ursa, worn out after the park. (Yes, something funky about the size of the link frame and the size of the image. Not gonna worry with it now.)

Ursa 03

(2) Here's my Flickr Infinity pic, featuring our cat, Tom. Take a picture of yourself looking at a picture of someone else looking at a picture of... Get it? Click here for a slideshow of the project so far.

infinite flickr  #334

(3) Here's a good picture of Mack from our Wyoming trip. You may have already seen this. What? You didn't look at all forty-eleven zillion pictures we took in Wyoming?!


(4) Here's a mean old wasp that was on the inside of our back porch the other day. Tiny aggressive robots, that's what they are. One shot from inside; one shot from outside. If you want the complete detail, click on the image to go to the Flickr page (you can do that for any of them), then select All Sizes, then select Large or Original. Have spare bandwidth.

Wasp on Screen (Zoom)

Wasp Through Screen (Zoom)

(5) And here's the almost full moon the other night from our back yard.

August Full Moon in Florida 01

We don't formally consider the wasp and the moon part of the family unit, but, I guess in some sense....

Thanks for stopping by. Appreciate your interest and attention. Hopefully, back to some content by this weekend.

06 August 2006



Just wrote a looooong post answering the question Bryan asked in comment to the post below. Was looking up links and the one Firefox window with my post and all the link pages wedged. Other Firefox windows were fine, but this one got stuck loading one web site. Wouldn't let me kill the tab for that site, wouldn't let me stop the loading.

So I lost my post.

I'll try again later, and hopefully it'll be better for having been thought about one or more more times. But still, argh!

05 August 2006


Barn Dance

I never attended a barn dance. I think they were before my time, but they were a part of the pioneer and rural American experience for several generations, in many if not most parts of the country. I figure that what actually transpired at these get togethers wasn't exactly as they're recorded in the popular histories of books and movies, but I also think we can have a sense of what they were like.

The variables that are likely hard to characterize are the ones that have been suppressed as much as possible. The ones that have to do with smoking and drinking and screwing and various sorts of cavorting and carousing: The activities that those who run small towns and counties don't want to publicize, that those who run the churches that would like to run small towns and counties don't want others to know about, that those who write histories for primary and secondary school children don't want read about, etc.

When we were at the Oyster Ridge Music Festival (see below), I had a sense of "this is what a barn dance was like." Or, "this is what a barn dance is like in 2006 in Kemmerer, Wyoming." Displace time, and you still have the right elements: people, music, performers, liquid lubrication of some form, kids, animals (supposedly against the rules at ORMF, but there were a few critters around). Those elements lead to dancing, laughing, smiling, listening, watching, getting close, furtive glances, winks, nods, hellos, how'd'y'dos, etc. Easier for straight people than for us homos, but there, nonetheless.

All leading to who-knows-what later, when the music stops and the mellow sets in and the pleasure of your other one's company in the context of a joyous evening, sets in.


How Did We Survive...

Pizza from a Machine...without the pizza dispensing machine.

As seen at the Salt Lake City, Utah, airport.


Oyster Ridge Music Festival

I've been meaning to get some things down about the groups we saw last weekend at the Oyster Ridge Music Festival in Kemmerer, Wyoming. We didn't see all the bands, and we didn't see every set completely of the bands we did see; we did see some complete sets.

Of particular note, to my tastes, were three bands: Clumsy Lovers, Trampled by Turtles, and The Hickory Project. All exhibited outstanding musicianship: they're just good, maybe great, players. They all had energy. The all were genre-bending in good ways.

The Hickory Project 05The Hickory Project is the closest to traditional bluegrass of these three, but with a jazz sensibility when it comes to some harmonies, some leads, and some rhythms (they swing a good bit).

Trampled by Turtles 06I would characterize Trampled by Turtles as bluegrass with a punk sensibility. These young men have lots of energy and play in a very driving direct manner. It's really exciting to hear them play.

Clumsy Lovers is an eclectic band, mixing their original numbers with, er, interesting covers of... Well, let's put it like this. Their first encore was one long medly of other peoples' songs: From AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" to Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl." Their knowledge of others' songs and other styles was impressive. And speaking of energy, I don't think the drummer stopped from the moment of their first song until the end of their regular set. The violinist and guitarist both front the band with a friendly accessible style that is easy to listen to. (I don't have Clumsy Lover pics, because we went to Valerie and Kendall's for dinner, missing parts of the festival. When we came back, I left my camera at their house.)

Anne and Pete Sibley 03Of the more traditional groups (not that any of the above can't play traditional when they choose), Anne and Pete Sibley were particularly good, I thought. I really liked it when she played guitar and he played banjo. They played a number of their own very nice songs.

Peasall Sisters 02The Peasall Sisters, the little girls who played the George Clooney character's daughters in Oh Brother Where Art Thou, were very good, but close three-part female harmonies wears on this one after a while.

Robin Kessinger and Friend  03Robin Kessinger was very very good. He was among the more traditional performers. I have nothing bad to say about him, because he may have been the best player of the entire festival. But I'm just drawn more to the weird (see above). He had someone sitting in with him the entire time whose name I don't recall: my apologies. Jonathan Wood sat in with him. (Can't find a Jonathan Wood link.)

Crescent Moon 01Similarly, Crescent Moon was very good, but we only caught a few songs at the end of their set opening the festival on Friday, so I didn't get a good sense of their performance, abilities, direction. I'd be interested in hearing them again.

Also, I can't find a link on the web for Crescent Moon, so if there is one that you the reader know of, please send it to me or leave a comment.

The Navigators 03The Navigators were the big closing act on Saturday night, but I thought they were fairly generic: A mix of The White Stripes, The Strokes, and The Black Crowes. Straight up rock music, but it's not like there's really ever been a shortage of that, and, at least for this one performance, I didn't see things that led me to believe they had something special to bring to the straight up rock music field. Don't get me wrong: They played just fine. But lot's of people play just fine.

The festival setting was great: The triangle park in downtown Kemmerer. It was a laid back scene, the mix (didn't get the sound guy's name, but I thought he did a good job) was good with a level where you could either listen or shoot the shit with your people. Everyone seemed to have a great time. It was hot for there, but to us, "it's a dry heat" reamined operative. It was great to spend a lot of time outside, listening to music.

04 August 2006


The Making Of...

Here's a video snippet from a BBC documentary on soul music that features footage of Stevie Wonder and his collaborators, TONTO, "making" songs like "Living for the City" and "Superstition." With Bootsy Collins as Talking Head #3.

Link via Music Thing.

02 August 2006


Wyoming Trip Pictures Online

It's almost done. There are only a few more pictures to upload to Flickr, and those are of some windmills we spotted on the way into Kemmerer last Friday. Not tonight, though.

The pics are organized into the following sets, with an example from each:

I also put all the composite/panorama pics into one set, but they're also included in the other ones. That set is here.

Ridge Panorama 1

So, check 'em out when you've got a few hours to spare. And thanks!

01 August 2006


On Shooting the Child Hostage

Everyone and their brother is saying that Israel screwed up by retaliating against Hezbollah aggressions, but, really, what choice did they have? Roll over and play dead? I don't think that would've been wise.

So why, now, the near total turn against Israel? Not in Europe -- Europe's contempt for Jews has been demonstrated time and time again over the past several hundred years -- but in the USA. It is, in this one's opinion, because of the perception that Israel is using "disproprotionate force" in the West. Israel isn't using disproportionate force: Hezbollah is placing armaments and personnel in places where civilians necessarily will be injured if Israel attacks Hezbollah. If not Lebanese civilians -- perhaps Hezbollah sympathizers, but still Lebanese citizens -- then U.N. observers.

It is also based on a perception of Israeli weakness: That this Israeli army may not be of the same caliber as the one that fought and won nearly forty years ago, and that Hezbollah is stronger than one would've imagined. This is no surprise: One should expect those who grovel before totalitarian thugs like Castro and Saddam and who romanticize "liberation movements" and their leaders (like Che!) to suck up to murderers of all stripes, even when those same murderers are bent on the destruction of those sucking up to them.

Remember: You have never, not once in your life, seen Jews in the streets of Tel Aviv celebrating the death of Muslims, of Lebanese. But you have, on a regular basis, seen Hezbollah spokesmen, the Iranian president, the leaders of Hamas, discuss the destruction of Israel and the death of the Jews. I am not saying Israel hasn't made mistakes in managing the occupation of the territories acquired in 1967, but let's get real here: They neither explicitly nor implicitly have said or implied "death to the Muslims."

I don't blame Israel for defending itself instead of letting creeps hide behind women and children kill them. I don't ask Israel to sacrifice itself for Hezbollah sympathizers in southern Lebanon who willingly put themselves in harms way by supporting Hezbollah any more than I would ask that we sacrifice ourselves for Mexican children should rockets be launched on El Paso from inside Mexico. Put yourself in the Israelis' position: Given an impossible situation, you would choose the one that saves the lives of you and your own, not those who are attacking you or supporting them. Would you sacrifice your own child or your own life if you were being shot at by a gunman holding his child in front of him while he shot at you? Or would you try to shoot the gunman, knowing full well you might hit the child.

The responsiblity for the child's death would lie with the gunman; the responsibility for civilian deaths in Lebanon lies with Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, half the USA is more interested in the drunken anti-Semitic rantings of a wacko Catholic movie star / producer, with the commentariat not missing any chances to display their anti-anti-Semitism by condemning Mel Gibson, while in the same breath dismissing Israeli actions intended to actually stop Hezbollah from killing real live Jews. It is absurd, but it accurately reflects the misplaced (in my opinion) priorities of many in the public eye, as well as many citizens of the USA.

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