...And that's the way it is|
[Most Recent Entries]
Below are the 11 most recent journal entries recorded in
|Saturday, January 21st, 2012|
|My favorite Beatles song?
When I first heard Helter Skelter on my first copy of the White Album (I've since had the white vinyl and the CD versions), it blew me against the wall. Something was not right here. This was not the same band that had given us the dreamy, sedate Sergeant Pepper only a year earlier. Balladeer Paul McCartney as a shouting blues singer on acid mixed with angel dust? This was beyond psychedelic. This was psychotic. I'd never heard the Beatles cut loose this way before or since (Revolution 9 doesn't count. It was a sound collage, not a real song). The capper was Ringo screaming "I got blisters on my fingers!!!" and knocking over his drum kit at the end of the song. Yeah, I'll bet he did.
If they were trying to shock us, they certainly accomplished that.
|Wednesday, December 8th, 2010|
|Monday, December 3rd, 2007|
|Losing control for the very last time
I just saw the Anton Corbijn docudrama about Joy Division lead singer/songwriter Ian Curtis, Control
. Of course the title was taken from the title of the Joy Division song "She's Lost Control".
Knowing how Mr. Curtis died gave me second thoughts about seeing it, but I ultimately took the plunge. I'm actually not that much of a Joy Division fan, but I've admired Mr. Corbijn's photography for many years. His first feature film held my attention for all of its two hours and change. I'm not up for writing a full review of the film. I'll leave that to the experts
, and just say that Mr. Corbijn's cinematography (all in black-and-white) was top-flight and the story line held together very nicely. The action and dialogue were not a little exaggerated but hey, that's cinema. Seeing the main character suffer so much and die so young, even in the context of a movie, was pretty wrenching. I hadn't eaten for a while, was kind of hungry, and toward the end of the picture, thought about getting a snack later. The final scene damn near made me reconsider. It was a simple shot, but very intense.
After leaving the theater, I thought about other great performers who died way before their time - Nick Drake, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain. Could they have been saved? Would they have been as great as they were if they weren't as troubled as they were? A cartoon by Justin Green in the now-defunct Tower Records house organ, Pulse
magazine speculated on how Ms. Joplin's life might have turned out if she'd been put on Prozac. The speculative piece showed her having a normal life - but no musical career
(she was depicted singing the songs she bacame famous for in real life to her children).
I certainly don't mean to trivialize the seriousness of clinical depression. It's definitely no joke. I've seen its effects on people more times than I care to. At best, it turns life to gray sludge and at worst it can threaten life, as it did not only in Mr. Curtis' case but in many others like it. I think any insurance company wonk who thinks psychotherapy is a luxury, or every politico who thinks cutting mental health services is a great way to get votes, should be forced to watch this film.
|Friday, November 30th, 2007|
|Enough is enough already
Why do I use Linux? That's actually a question I've been asking myself ever since I decided to take the plunge about a year ago. The most obvious reason is to avoid the mad behemoth that is Windows Vista. Why Microsoft had to totally screw up Windows XP, which actually wasn't half-bad and replace it with this overpriced, DRM- and security-hole-ridden gorgon, I don't know. My best guess would be that Microsoft is a commercial software company, and they have to keep new product coming in order to mollify stockholders and keep the wheels of obsolescence turning.
Any new Microsoft OS which hits the market is a beta version. Anyone who deals with computers regularly knows this. When XP came out, I held off on adopting it until Service Pack 2 came out. I figured that by then, the really big flaws had probably been dealt with. The Pentium IV on which I'm typing this is a solid, reliable machine which was originally designed to run Windows XP. No way would it run even the most basic version of Vista properly. It would be like riding a horse that's just drunk a pint of whiskey. That's another thing I dislike about whenever Microsoft puts out a new version of Windows. You have to upgrade to more powerful and much more expensive hardware not to make your favorite applications run better, but just to run the bloated, “wow”-laden operating system.
And then there's the issue of monopoly. Bill Gates is as entitled to be wealthy and successful as any other business operator. What he clearly does not deserve is to own the entire field of personal computing, lock, stock and barrel. Until very recently, there was no competition apart from Apple's Macintosh, a niche machine which occupies a small (but growing) share of the computer market. The latest Linux distributions are changing that.
I started out with Ubuntu, a Debian based distribution or “distro”. For some reason, it never quite worked right. I tried OpenSuse. That was OK, but after a software update, certain applications became unusable. Then I tried straight Debian. Again, mysterious bugs appeared. On to the Slackware-based Vector, which is what I'm using now. Will this be the version I stick with? Film at 11.
Oh, thanks in the utmost to my Linux-geek comrade, Keith for being the voice of sanity during my darkest moments with Linux, when I thought I was going to go insane!
|A scourge upon the land!
If I was the president of this land, I'd declare total war on the cover band.
I'm not talking about bands who start out playing covers until they get some originals together, like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones did. I'm not talking about jazz musicians who use standards as vehicles for improvisation. I'm not talking about acts like Brave Combo who do souped-up versions of other peoples' songs, Frank Zappa who did them with tongue firmly planted in-cheek, or Weird Al Yankovic who does savage send-ups of them.
No, I'm talking about something odious. Something which takes all the fun out of going out, which saps all of the joy out of listening to music. I'm talking about a creature which has infested bars and certain restaurants since time immemorial, churning out lifeless, low-rent versions of whatever happens to be on the radio or MTV. Night after night they plod through the motions, occasionally tossing out inane one-liners to the bored, drunken throngs. I'm talking about musicians who can't play, singers who can just barely sing, about music made by people who could care less about music or who actively hate it.
Now, to be fair, not all cover bands are lame. A select few know how to do pop standards with flair, vitality and a bit of humor. They might even toss a few obscure numbers into the mix to keep things interesting. And a lot of excellent if not world-class musicians have “paid their dues” by taking any gig they could get, including working in cover bands. They usually got out as soon as a better opportunity presented itself. The losers stayed behind, playing bars, country clubs, weddings, bar mitzvahs and high school dances for decades on end, fakebooks in hand. On they trudge, playing music based upon demographics – metal for the kids, classic rock for the old folks, synth-pop for the dance crowd. Most pointless of all are the “tribute” bands. If I want to hear Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead or the Beatles, that's what CDs, tapes and vinyls are for.
Years ago, when DJ-ing was coming into vogue, a lot of local musicians worried that the DJs would bump them out of a job. Indeed, the DJ has replaced the cover band as the live background music source of choice in many bars and clubs. Why listen to a lame cover version of a tune when you can hear the real deal? The lone figure manning a pair of Technics 1200s and a mixer may soon send the cover band the way of love beads and leisure suits. That cannot happen too soon.
|Tuesday, November 27th, 2007|
|Things which begin with "P"
Tonight, I ventured out into the increasingly-wintry weather (59 degrees this afternoon, 38 degrees now and quite blustery) to get at least two things whose names begin with the letter "P", to wit, pills (some Tylenol for a headache) and a pot pie (because I feel just too damn pooped to cook).
After having successfully procured said items at the pharmacy and the supermarket next door, I made my way back to the parking lot with my parcel. As I proceeded to perambulate to my parked vehicle, something caught my eye. It was an attractive young woman approaching in my direction, though not directly towards me. In the dim light of the parking lot I perceived that she was dressed in a snug-fitting white top and a short, white, pleated skirt, which I thought must be rather chilly given the weather. I thought at first that she might be a cheerleader. As I tried to figure out why someone would dress this way in this kind of weather, she and her male escort got closer to me. As they passed by I couldn't help but notice the 6-inch high-heeled white platform shoes the woman was wearing. To say that I was taken aback would have been putting it mildly! If the man escorting her into the drugstore wasn't her pimp, then why was she dressed as though she were selling [expletive deleted]?
Just one of those perplexing imponderables, I guess.
|Monday, November 26th, 2007|
|"I live where it's grey..."
I guess I really shouldn't complain too hard. After all, we've had an almost unbroken run of sunny weather up until last night. I still can't deal with the greyness, the unceasing, steady pitter-patter upon soggy ground, which somehow never gets hard or fast enough to create that aural delicacy known as the sound of rain on the roof. I've never liked the fall and spring "monsoons" when it just rains nonstop for 24, 36, 48 hours, or sometimes longer. But today's weather seems to have been tailor-made for the makers of Prozac. Maybe it's because I feel kind of logy today. It just seems greyer than usual.
Oh well, it is late fall. It is supposed to break tomorrow.
Oh yes, the title of this post is also the title of a song by a band which has a dedicated cult following. Find out why (and hear the song) here:http://www.archive.org/details/horseflies2003-06-02.shnf Current Mood: sad
|Sunday, November 25th, 2007|
|Everything that lives, eats
I'm listening to This American Life
. This week's show is about food. I just finished listening to the segment where they described a meal of prawns (shrimp) in an Asian (Chinese?) restaurant. (warning - gross-out ahead). The prawn was peeled and served on ice, as usual - except that it was still living. One was expected to kill the skinned-alive creature by biting its head off. A while back I read a book about other strange sorts of food, which included a live lobster presented in a similar manner to the hapless prawn.
Now, I'm no animal-rights activist, but as Walter, the main character in the Woody Allen play Don't Drink The Water
once remarked, I want my food dead. Not sick, not wounded, dead
! Seriously, skinning and then serving an animal alive, even a crustacean, strikes me as the epitome of gratuitous cruelty. If you're going to kill an animal in order to nourish yourself, you owe it the respect of dispatching it as quickly and painlessly as possible. And preparing it as well as you know how.
And with that, I'd like to finish my peanut-butter-and-jelly-on-whole-wheat sandwich and the rest of my glass of vanilla soy milk!
|Saturday, November 24th, 2007|
|Next Thanksgiving, venison!
Well, it looks like I've only posted here roughly once a year. I must rectify that.
On the way to visit relatives for Thanksgiving, I counted not one, not two, but NINE dead deer by the side of the road. On the drive back, I narrowly missed hitting yet another a deceased one which reposed in the middle of the highway where it had been dispatched. I pulled over and called the police, who said they'd take care of things. Guy sounded a bit exasperated, but hey, big, heavy things in the middle of a highway can't be very safe. Someone I know just lost a nearly-new car to a deer.
I understand that during mating season, deer get a little reckless or downright crazy (not unlike many humans). Anyway, all these deer wandering onto highways is dangerous. Where is Ted Nugent when we need him? Current Mood: sleepy
|Saturday, December 2nd, 2006|
|They had health food in Dublin, but no strawberry apricot pie...
How many of you are familiar with The Roches' 1979 debut album, and a track called "The Troubles"? That's what I'm referring to in the subject line! (http://www.amazon.com/Roches/dp/B000002KK4
I went to Dublin for my sister's 50th birthday party. No leprecauhns, and the only shamrocks I found were in shops dedicated to the tourist trade. It's a fairly gritty major city, like New York or Chicago, yet the tallest buildings I saw apart from church steeples were 10 stories, max.
The first day that we were there, we very briefly visited Dublin's biggest shopping mall. It was hyper-decorated to the max. It was more like a theme park than a place of commerce. It apparently had only one set of toilets, on its top (4th) floor which cost 50 Euro (75 cents US) to use. Can you imagine digging in your pockets for the proper change while having an attack of the runs? I wonder if they have charge accounts? The exchange rate of the dollar to the Euro was not favorable (1 Euro = US$1.25 - $1.35 depending on where you changed it).
Lest you think I'm dissing Dublin, let me say that they have some great record shops, a photography/film institute with a small but very well-stocked art book shop, a national museum with some way cool exhibits like the electric guitar exhibition I took in one afternoon (http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/?jp=CWIDGBCWMHID
), and great beer (http://www.guinness.com/us_en/
More details as they become available.
|Thursday, September 8th, 2005|
|My first entry
These days, everyone's got a blog on which to bent spleen or other verbal bodily fluids. The name of my blog is taken from the venerable CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite (if you get a chance, be sure to read or listen to the tape version of his autobiography).
I may as well begin with typical blogger fare, and talk about what happened to me today to no one and everyone who may or may not be reading this.
Today, I went to a reflexologist to cash in a gift certificate which a friend had gotten me two years ago. His home and office was WAAAAAYY out, about 20 miles from where I live, and my ailing, aging 1996 Dodge Neon was not making the trip very well. I finally arrived about 9 minutes late after climbing halfway up and then rolling back down a big hill which led nowhere - thank "Bob" (http://www.subgenius.com
) for cell phones! Anyhow, the guy seemed decent and honored my certificate. (For those of you who don't know what a reflexologist is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflexologist
). The session was kind of harrowing. I had a reflexologist about 7 years ago, a woman who had a light but firm touch. This dude, despite his advanced age, was OK, though he had the "crusher" thing going! Anyhow, halfway through the session, he asked if I'd mind if he'd put on some music. I asked him what he had, and he remarked that he didn't think that I'd be particularly interested in it since it was "contemporary Christian" music. Now, I've spun gospel music by Rev. Gary Davis, Johnny Cash, albums of sacred harp singing, IOW, traditional stuff. Contemporary Christian music gives me the willies, not only because it mimics the worst of the pop music world, but because a lot of it just seems to be advertising for the agenda of dominionists (http://www.theocracywatch.org
). There are networks which spin this stuff day and night in between bibilcal rants. One such radio ministry in particular occupies almost every square inch of space on the FM dial not owned by Clear Channel (http://www.fln.org/
). Someone once tried to apply to the FCC for a frequency for a community radio station. The FLN people apparently spoke to him and said something like, we have more money than God, you haven't got a chance, why don't you give up? Anyhow, back to the reflexologists. I politely declined his music. He mentioned that he thought my name sounded Jewish (it is) and was my religion why I didn't want to hear his music? I said no, his music just wasn't my cup of tea. I piled on that the radio station I spin for has had a traditional gospel program running since 1972 (it has) and described it to him. I was torn as to whether to continue, but I decided that unless he tried to actively proselytize me, I was going to stick it out and get my friend's money's worth. He later let drop that he used to be a DJ for a station in the network I mentioned above. The rest of the session was largely uneventful. I said my goodbye and made a mental note to avoid this guy in the future.
Not much else to report, besides I’m much too wasted to compose anything more tonight.