30 July 2007


Photo Active IV

On the way home from work today, I saw a fawn on the side of the road. It let me take three photos: one with the cell phone and two with my camera. Here's both real pictures.

Fawn I

Fawn II

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Photo Active III

Mike's wedding was out in the country north of Culleoka, Tennessee, in a one-room church. An active, in use, built in 1850 one-room church. It was a beautiful setting. The bride and groom seem real happy, really in love. It was a sweet service. The accompnaying parties were great, too!

The pictures are here, and here's a sample:


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Photo Active II

We went to middle Tennessee this past weekend because my nephew Mike was getting married. Rode over to Hickman County where my brother Danny and his wife Suzie have acquired this beautiful land featuring an old one-room church. No electricity, no running water, no indoor plumbing. They go over and stay on some weekends. They say the setting by any of candlelight, lamp light, or moon light, is wonderful, but we didn't get to see that.

And, I forgot to take my real camera, so had to shoot the pictures using my Palm Treo 650. A sample:


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Photo Active I

Finally got my pictures from my mom's family's reunion (from mid June) posted on Flickr today. Sample:


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26 July 2007


More SNP Songs

With one exception, all from the same albums as the original list, and that one is by the same composer/performer.

Lowell George, "20 Million Things."
Minutemen, "Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing."
Todd Rundgren, "Don't You Ever Learn."
Mr. Fripp, "Here Comes the Flood."
Wilco, "Pot Kettle Black."

Yes, "Here Comes the Flood" is really a Peter Gabriel song, and "You Burn Me Up I'm a Cigarette" is really a Darryl Hall song. But the versions I'm thinking about both appeared on Fripp's Exposure.

And, yes, one can argue that the performance and arrangement on "Don't You Ever Learn" are anything but "small." But I think that the underlying song is and that the underlying song comes through the over-arrangement quite nicely, even takes advantage of it. Well, maybe excepting the ride out.

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23 July 2007


Smallish Songs, Nearly Perfect

Little Feat, "Rocket in My Pocket."
Minutemen, "Corona."
Todd Rundgren, "A Dream Goes on Forever."
Mr. Fripp, "You Burn Me Up I'm a Cigarette."
Wilco, "Heavy Metal Drummer."

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20 July 2007



"I have been on hiatus. I have been to the Kennedy compound."—Zippy the Pinhead

15 July 2007


One More

I'm am totally embarrassed to admit I can't remember the name of this one. Mike? Bryan?



X-04: Straightjacket

But wait... there's more.

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X-04: Mr. Retardo (Instrumental)

June something, 1981. Mike McCurdy, guitar; Bryan Tablot, drums; Tim Wilson, keys.

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14 July 2007


SBQotD: 20070714

Scenario 1, excerpted from this WaPo article, link via Progressive Pragmatist:
A grand feast of marinated steaks and jumbo shrimp was winding down, and a group of friends was sitting on the back patio of a Capitol Hill home, sipping red wine. Suddenly, a hooded man slid in through an open gate and put the barrel of a handgun to the head of a 14-year-old guest.

"Give me your money, or I'll start shooting," he demanded, according to D.C. police and witness accounts.

The five other guests, including the girls' parents, froze -- and then one spoke.

"We were just finishing dinner," Cristina "Cha Cha" Rowan, 43, blurted out. "Why don't you have a glass of wine with us?"

The intruder took a sip of their Chateau Malescot St-Exupéry and said, "Damn, that's good wine."

[Read the rest: It ends in a group hug.]

Scenario 2, from this American Scene post
Many months ago, I was going to see John Vanderslice at the Knitting Factory with one of my favorite friends. As it happens, this friend is the kind of woman who gives meaning to the word "striking": she is faultlessly beautiful, and she also has beautiful manners. Naturally you'd expect her to be incredibly intimidating, and she is from a distance. But once you get to talking, you discover the unnerving, tragic truth: apart from being gorgeous, she is also insanely intellectually curious and smart. Worse yet, she's genuinely kind: her generous nature, and her animal instinct for making those around her more comfortable, goes way beyond mere good manners.

So we were walking to the show and got to talking about something weighty and important (negritude?) when a familiar New York character, a drooling schizophrenic, decided to interrupt our conversation.

Panic set in.


What should I do? Can I defuse this situation artfully, and somehow manage to not mortify my dear friend? I tried. Oh, I tried. And then my friend intervened. She scolded our unwelcome interlocutor. Like a schoolmarm. And it worked. Boy, did it work. It should come as no surprise that she's a very well-regarded high school teacher.

Now for the question, maybe stupid, maybe not. (Hey, it's not daily, so don't get picky all of a sudden.)

Feel free to comment.



James Madison, 4th President of the United States

I just finished reading Ralph Ketcham's James Madison: A Biography (University of Virginia Press, 1990; originally published 1971). A brief glimpse of what I learned:

And now, on to Monroe.

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13 July 2007


More on Republican of the Day

I got so caught up in the schadenfreude of a publicly homophobic Republican getting busted for cruising the restroom at a public park the other day, that one might interpret me as supporting police entrapment of gay men cruising public spaces.

Sorry. I'm not for entrapment or police clampdowns on what is pretty much harmless behavior, personally and socially. It's been going on for years, and society hasn't fallen into the pits, regardless of what some on the right would like us to believe. I'm sorrier that Representative what's-his-name (I've already forgotten, and I like the phrasing better, anyway) would publicly condemn gay people while likely being a closet case than I am that he—or George Michael for that matter—was cruising a park.

The police report doesn't exactly bolster my confidence in the process. It's full of nearly-certain BS, like that the cop went into the bathroom to adjust his police radio instead of to bait someone into following him; and that there weren't any paper towels at the main sink so he had to go into the handicap stall to dry his hands; and that the cops were there doing surveillance regarding a burglary instead of because the spot's known for cruising. When the arrest report is full of likely obfuscations, a stronger benefit of the doubt goes to the alleged perp than usual, even when his gay-rights record is as lousy as whozit's.

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11 July 2007


Republican of the Day

Yet another male Republican creep who can't keep his pants on. Around undercover male police officers. Story here.
State Rep. Bob Allen was arrested Wednesday afternoon at a local park after offering to perform a sex act on an undercover officer in exchange for $20, police said.

Allen, R-Merritt Island, was booked into the Brevard County jail in Sharpes on a charge of solicitation to commit prostitution, a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in the county jail and a $500 fine.

He was released a few hours later after posting $500 bail, according to a jail spokesman. The legislator, who was first elected in 2000, could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.

Titusville police were at Veteran's Memorial Park on East Broad Street on a burglary detail when they noticed an unshaven man acting suspicious, going in and out of the restroom three times, said Lt. Todd Hutchinson.

An undercover officer decided to go into one of the bathroom stalls, Hutchinson said. Moments later, Allen knocked on the stall door and offered to perform oral sex on the officer for $20, according to the police spokesman.

The officer identified himself and took Allen into custody. Hutchinson said the officers had no idea the suspect was a state lawmaker.

"After he was arrested, he (Allen) mentioned he was a state legislator," he said.

Allen told a television reporter that what happened was a "misunderstanding." But Hutchinson said the representative did not dispute the undercover officer's version of what happened in the park.

Allen, 48, who chairs the House Committee on Energy, is married and has one child. He also is a former Little League volunteer and has donated time to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida.
Believe me, if this guy's a homo, I'm all for him. Well, except for the part where he votes or leads people to believe he's going to vote for measures that treat homos as second-class citizens.

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<blank> of the Week

Movie review, random observation, why you should read the recently rejuvinated The American Scene, etc.
I want to start with a proposal: When they make Die Hard 5: Die Really Hard, and For Real, This Time, which may not happen till far into the future at a point when the studio will have to graft a digital Bruce Willis face onto some poor stunt-shmuck and recreate his voice using a version of Pro Tools so smart that it will eventually control our nuclear weapons systems before turning on us, Skynet-style—when this movie is made, as it (or some variant) surely will be, I want Brad Bird to be the director.
As you likely know, Bird directed The Incredibles and Ratatouille.

The American Scene may tend to the right, but the writing is so sweet, and the sensibilities so American that it's easy to forgive the tendency of Reihan and the recently-assembled Ross Douthat-(who is also so wonderfully readable, even with his right-wing capital-C Catholic perspective)-less ensemble there to forgive the tendencies of Bush and his unindicted co-conspirators.

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10 July 2007


Kenneth Quinnell: "Why I'm a Democrat"

Kenneth Quinnell, over at T Rex's Guide to Life, posted this piece, explaining, pretty clearly and reasonably, why he's a Democrat. As a lifelong Democrat, I like it.
So I'm a Democrat. That doesn't mean I'm a huge fan of all Democratic politicians and the policies they pursue. Over the years, I've held my nose to vote for a few people I really don't like, policy-wise, and in a few cases in local races, I've voted for Republicans when there were no Democrats in the race or the only Democrats running were criminals. I didn't enjoy it, but I did it. And, as with most progressives, I have no problem complaining about Democrats when I don't like what they do, even Democrats I otherwise like.

There are a few things that I'm devoted to that some of my fellow progressives aren't. One, is that I'm totally opposed to third party politics. I have no problem with people forming groups or trying to change things, but to me it is totally unrealistic to think you can change the system from the outside or that you can change a party from the outside. Can't be done.

Two, I'm dedicated to winning elections. I think the philosophy out there that some have -- they'd rather vote for the right person and lose, than compromise on some things and win -- makes no sense to me. It never made sense to me, but the Ralph Nader-George W. Bush thing made it clear this way of thinking is a bad idea. [...]

Three, on a related note, is that I can't stand people who dismiss candidates, politicians or allies because of disagreement on a single issue. It's nonsensical and it's doomed to failure. If there is one issue that is particularly important to you, fight for it, but not at the expense of every other issue, because those other things not only affect you, they affect your allies -- the people you have to have fighting with you in order to win on your own issue. Battles are won by coalitions, not soloists.


The path to changing Florida and changing the world for the better is through the Democratic Party. It's not only a path, it's the only path. Spend all the time you want debating this, discussing it and trying to figure out if I'm wrong or right. Meanwhile, I'll be out there fighting to turn the Democratic Party into the party that I think it can be, the party of the people and the party for positive change for Florida, America and the world. Join me.
"Join me." I love it. Exactly the right approach. Good job, Ken. We don't always agree on all the details, even though we may share the broad strokes, but I do like your style.

What I'd add, is that the Democratic Party became some time betwee the 1930s and 1960s the party devoted consistently to the expansion of the meaning of "All men are created equal" to more and more people. Single-issue politics may be dumb (right on, Kenneth), but getting behind the party with a liberal interpretation of those words from the Declaration of Independence is being on the right side of history, of appreciating at least the possibilities of a positive Americanism, even with its years of slavery, denigration of native rights, etc. We Democrats may not have owned that idea consistently, but in these times, it's ours.

Believe it. Own it. Use it.

Join us.


Happy Birthday, Telstar I

Telstar I is 45 years old today. Happy birthday, Telstar I. More info here (link via Boing Boing).

I remember hearing about it on the car radio. I also remember my mom helping my (maybe my brothers'—I would only have been five) Cub Scout den try to make a papier mâché Telstar using a beach ball and lots of crepe paper soaked in something (I don't remember what it was).

I also remember the song. Is it my imagination or did I hear The California Guitar Trio do a cover of that? No wait, it was The Ventures covering "Telstar," and the California Guitar Trio covering "Walk, Don't Run."


08 July 2007


Mack's Skydive

About three weeks before we met thirteen years ago, Mack did a skydive tandem jump. We're starting to archive our old VHS and mini-VHS tapes, and this is one of the first. He put it up on his YouTube account, and I'm sharing it here.

I'm optimistic we'll get more video up soon—maybe old band stuff—but I doubt if any of it will be as interesting as that.

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Thank You, Come Again

We visited the local Kwik-E-Mart.


More photos here, at our Flickr site.

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04 July 2007


SBQotD: 20070704

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Independence Day, 2007

1. Happy Independence Day!

Let's hear it for a free country.

2. Today, I just made the last EFT to pay off our credit card debt, several months ahead of schedule. I declare Independence from revolting credit. Still have to deal with car- and house-related debt, but that's a little more bearable and sensible.

Let's hear it for freedom from debt.

3. Every 4th of July, my dad used to say, "Today is Independence Day: The day I left my first wife."

Let's hear it for freedom from bad relationships.

4. I have proto-thoughts, have had for a long time, about this whole idea of "self-evident" truths. About these "unalienable rights" being "endowed by their Creator." I'm not trying to provoke an argument about matters of belief, about cosmology: rather, it seems that rights start as ideas, maybe held by one, maybe held by some, and that the expression of those ideas, the eventual putting those ideas down in writing and having them shared by many, creates a context where those rights exist, at least as ideas. But those rights/ideas, without the use of some kind of force—physical, by individuals, by a government based on similar shared rights/ideas—remain just ideas. Not necessarily rooted, maybe not made extant.

At some point, if we advocate our rights, we have to be willing to stand up for them, to fight for them. Otherwise, it's only talk. In a civil society, talk may be a means of fighting for them, but it's probably well advised to keep in mind other means.

Keep your powder dry.

I have little doubt that philosophers have talked this framing out, and that I ought to educate myself about it. I'm open to references, if you care to share.

Let's hear it for freedom. For human rights. For independence.

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Florida is the New California, Part XXVII

From the New York Times, here, via Talking Points Memo, of all places. Jumping sturgeon are threatening boaters way down upon the Suwannee River.
Leaping sturgeon have injured three people on the Suwannee this year, including a woman on a Jet Ski and a girl whose leg was shattered when one of the giant fish jumped aboard her boat. Eight others were hit last year, and with traffic growing on the storied river, sturgeon are joining alligators and hurricanes on the list of things to dread in Florida.
The author forgot to include New York Yankees logos. Everywhere.

In what might be evidence of increasing cultural ignorance, no where in the article is the connection between Stephen Foster and the Suwannee River mentioned. Sigh.

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03 July 2007


Transformers Update!

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01 July 2007


SBQotD: 20070701

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Making a Bridge Sing

The New York Times currently features this article (registration required, although if you act quietly and quickly and promise not to tell, there may be a copy laying about here) about composer Joseph Bertolozzi's working with the Mid-Hudson (Franklin D. Roosevelt) Bridge near Poughkeepsie, New York,
...to transform the span into an orchestra, compose a piece for it, then actually perform the work live with a small army of percussionists. It is a musical undertaking on a vast scale and one that has brought oddly harmonious marriages among the worlds of art and government, music and engineering.

Mr. Bertolozzi, 48, has been meticulously harvesting a multitude of sounds from the structure: not just the cables, which on playback create woo-wooing effects or sounds like a bass guitar, but the spindles below guardrails, the rails themselves, the interior and flanges of innumerable I-beams, connecting metal plates and the grates between walkways.

He sent mounds of steel pellets down the interior of a 315-foot steel tower to create a rain-stick effect. He collected clanks from the “Hudson River Estuary” sign, with its blue sturgeon emblem. An organist as well as a composer, Mr. Bertolozzi even hopes to turn large upright conduits for power lines into rough organ pipes.

“I only play big instruments,” he said.
Bertolozzi convinced officials to let him do a demo project using audio samples from the bridge. The result, Bridge Funk, is here for the listening from the composer's space at www.newmusicjukebox.com.

As one who thumps just about any exposed piece of metal to see how it rings, I am completely delighted by the whole idea of this project. I'm marking Poughkeepsie on my calendar for September 2009.

Along the music and engineering lines, Bertolozzi's notes include this:
The bridge’s designer, Ralph Modjeski, was a highly skilled pianist (he was a classmate of the famous Polish virtuoso Paderewski). He ultimately chose engineering as his profession and became one of the 20th century’s greatest bridge designers. Both as a pioneering engineer and a musician who loved the music of his own time, he would be intrigued to experience this boundary-shattering synthesis involving his beloved bridge and the music of our time.
If you want to help the artist complete this work, go here.

(Image from Mr. Bertolozzi's site, © 2006, Spencer Ainsley for The Poughkeepsie Journal, used without permission.)

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