Saturday, September 29, 2012

Howlin' Wolf - Howlin' for my Baby

Ok, so the 'Tube is good for one thing.  Napster was audio only; YouTube gets some really happening visual information tacked on sometimes.  Like this Howlin' Wolf "video."  Home movies is more like it.  Where do they get this stuff?  Couldn't tell you, but in this case it sure is great. 

Travoltas - Sorrow (Bad Religion Cover)

Pretty good song, I'm not familiar with Bad Religion.  This is a cover by the Travoltas, whom I do know, and love. 

More typically a semi-frenetic Punk-Pop band, the Travoltas are Dutch, or were, they went inactive in 2006.  I discovered them on the late, much lamented Napster in about 2000.  Napster was so great, I still miss it almost every day.  The 'Tube is pretty good now, but you could BROWSE on Napster.  I had a list of six or eight users that I really respected, and I could check their lists all the time to see what they had that was new.  I found a lot of great shit that way.  I don't think there's anywhere to do that anymore. 

I've said it before:  Napster was the greatest advance in music since the invention of the piano forte.  One can only hope that we will ever see its like again. 

Soulphisticate, I still love you baby. 

A Nice Wedding

I attended a nice wedding last evening.  For a change, the bride was actually the most beautiful woman there.  She's a prof at my university. 

A small gripe: what's with this new fashion in men's suits?  Everyone from Ryan Seacrest to Mr. Tom, Dick and Harry all over the world is wearing these tiny, tiny suits.  They're all over the award shows.  The pants and the jackets are so tight that you wonder how they can breathe, and the jackets are short, short, short.  They don't look good on anybody, and fashion be damned, isn't looking good still the goal?  Just another reason to hate fashion I suppose. 

To Nite My Love

For those of us who struggle with Thai, English words spelled in the Thai alphabet are a constant source of enjoyment.  Thanks everybody!

This is a "massage and entertainment" place in Bangkok named "To Nite."  Pardon my unseemly delight. 

Mobile Buddha Delivers

This truck and its sacred passenger were outside my local mall last week.  Some of the faithful took small vials of water and poured them over the Great Man's shoulder. 

I'm not a religious man, but if I were this is the way I'd go.  The Buddha part, not the truck.  Buddhism has no strange or impossible directives, no disagreeable prohibitions.  It's more of a way of life than a religion, in Thailand anyway (and Lao, Cambodia, Burma and Sri Lanka). 

New Fashion Motorcycle In Bangkok

It's hip, it's new, it's some kind of Kawasaki.  Is it comfortable?  Is it practical?  Is it fast?  Those things I couldn't tell you. 

You see a lot of them now in BKK, it's mostly young men riding them.  It's not a toy, it's got a 100 cc engine at least, and those can move you along just fine if they are tuned carefully.  Check out the brakes, the frame, etc.  It's all there, just a little bit smaller than usual.

Definitely couldn't picture myself riding one around though, I should probably make that clear. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Self-Google

I just Googled myself, a sure sign of a weak mind with too little to do.  Oddly, Google was sure, absolutely sure, that I meant to find information on one "Fred Keeley."  "Did you mean Fred Keeley?"  And at the page bottom, suggestions for Fred Keeley. 

This is a nightmare of a certain sort.  All of my life, people reading my name have mistaken me for a Fred Keeley.  I heard that a million times when some teacher or official came to my name on a list.  "Fred, er . . . Keeley?"  No, it's Fred Ceely, thank you, as in "Sealy," which spelling would have made things easier. 

Not a bad showing though, my Googling.  Interesting that as much comes up for "Fred Ceely" as for "fredceely," an Internet shorthand that I tend to use.  I Google names from my past sometimes and often there's nothing there at all.  True, most people have names that are more common than mine, so the Google is diluted.  Still, for me, things came up right near the top that I could be proud of.  So that's good.

Busy, And Nervous

I've been unusually busy this last little while, and also somewhat nervous, as usual.  The world has not taken a break, though, from being totally awesome and very, very interesting.

For example, I just read a comment on The Raw Story where someone casually refers to the president of Iran as (Mr.) "Intolerant Dinner Jacket."  That's good stuff, and uncompensated too, I'll warrant. 

Things have cooled down somewhat, so I should be giving up my silence and going back to my usual merely indolent, lazy ways very soon. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Good Story, Perhaps True

I read a nice, possibly apocryphal story about Ernest Hemingway yesterday.  

Here's the site:

Somebody bet Papa, the story goes, that he couldn't write a compelling story using only six words.  Here's what he came up with:

"For sale: baby shoes, never used." 

Pretty good story, that. 

In the manner of the secret workings of the human brain I came up with one in a dream last night.  Here's mine:

"He held me down.  I'm okay." 

It was a terrible, disturbing dream all in all, but I won't get into that. 

My New Great Idea

Randomize your YouTube experience! 

Without even looking at the key board hit three completely random letters.  You'll get a pull-down menu of suggestions.  Usually they will take you to completely unexpected places, and you will see and hear things you never imagined even existed. 

Have fun! 

King Khan & The Shrines - Pickin' Up The Trash (Live on KEXP)

This is the new web of social interaction in full effect.  A friend brought this to my attention on Facebook; his source was a blog called "Badtux the Snarky Penguin."  And now to you.   And we're still at a very low hit count. 

Pretty remarkable stuff, these InterTubes. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Internet Mischief, Chapter 86

I love the Internet, and I spend a lot of happy time herein, but there are problems.  For example . . .

Everybody thinks that they are a God-damn genius all of a sudden.  They read; they are informed; they have lived a long time; they have opinions; they interact with people that they think are very smart; for whatever reason they think that their profound experience has somehow created in them a great intelligence.

So, a couple of turns around the block makes someone a genius?

So, merely reading things (on the Internet, no less!) can turn someone into a genius?

So, the mere having of opinions can result in the opinions being valid?

I don't fucking think so.  You're born with intelligence or you're not, and most opinions are crapola, including mine. 

And then there is the related problem of people slinging disrespect on the 'Net in double handfuls because they feel safe from repercussions.   Hiding behind weird Internet gig-names usually, clever little noms de 'Net.  Fifty years ago, if you talked big-time shit to somebody they kicked your ass.  Now, it's all clinical and safe.  Just a little typing and a click or two and you can heap scorn and derision on people you hardly know, vicious ad hominem attacks, and in no uncertain language too.  And they can't touch you! 

"You mean I can talk all of the shit that I want and no one's going start twisting shit up off of me?"

The delight is palpable.

"Damn!  I'll take a double handful of that, and everyday!"

Somehow, on the Internet, every punk is a bully, and every bully a king.

When the end of the common Internet comes, and it might, rabbit, I will care less than most of us, because I still prefer books, and many of them will still be available,  I hope.  If not, I'll write, which is almost as good. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Moby Grape - Hey Grandma

Welcome to the big time!  Skip Spence in full final-countdown mode, with two great guitar players and good material, this band really made it. 

"Robitussin, make me feel so fine . . . Robitussin, and elderberry wine . . ."  A real 60's reference there.  Try it some time!  (But don't tell them I sent you.)  Where I lived, hard up pharmacies would sell you Robitussin for one or two dollars a bottle over the regular price but without the usual prescription.   

bo diddley

This is why we're alive.  This is why the world keeps turning.  So shit like this can happen. 

Can you imagine the impact that this had in 1955? 

Bo Diddley: one of the hippest gig-names ever.

Bo Diddley: premier musicologist. 

Bo Diddley: rocking-est human of all time. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Why Am I In Thailand?

I get this question on a regular basis.  My answer is never the same, and usually it has little to do with the reality of it. 

I'm reading "Moby-Dick" again, and you may thank me now that I don't bother you on a daily basis with my sad insights into the levels of meaning that a reader can find there.  But I did come across something that has immediate bearing on the above question.  

The author was speaking of a man who found himself overcome by ruin and thereafter took refuge at sea as blacksmith of the Pequod.  Bad choice for a refuge, that!  Melville opines that this kind of retreat to "the immense Remote, the Wild . . ." is a comfort "to the death-longing eyes of such men, who still have left in them some interior compunctions against suicide . . ."

Going to Asia is functionally similar to going to sea.  The invitation to the remote is phrased as follows:

"Come hither, broken-hearted; here is another life without the guilt of intermediate death; here are wonders supernatural, without dying for them.  Come hither! bury thyself in a life which, to your now equally abhorred and abhorring, landed world, is more oblivious than death.  Come hither! put up thy grave-stone, too, within the churchyard, and come hither, till we marry thee!"  

We have places to go, and things to do, we broken-hearted, that can distract us from the prospect of intermediate death. 

Redux: A Nice Post From Four Years Ago

From September, 2008.  Boy, these presidential elections really get my juices going.  Of course I'm even four years older now, but still.  Isn't it a good job for an old man? 


Mr. Ceely Goes to Sacramento

Sometimes I think that I should run for office. Some legislature, probably, I know how to read the law, I know what it means. I understand public policy. Writing the law is harder, I know, I have seen some of the ways that good intentions go wrong, but I feel qualified to know the difference. Executive positions are sexy, but I’ve always known that I am not the leading man. The best friend, that’s me, I never get the girl, I die in the third reel.

I think of Hillary Clinton, she’s a matter of months or a year older than me. She’s still working hard to become the president some day, a leading lady right there, she’s not ready to feed the pigeons, that’s for sure. Maybe it’s a little early for me to give up on accomplishment.

The law is my education, and I’ve been public-speaking for a living for sixteen years now: twelve years lawyering and four years teaching. So, maybe politics, ten or twelve years. Then maybe stand up comedy, it’s good to stay fresh, not do one thing for too long.

I have an unusual resume for a politician, but spin is my training, and spin is everything. I’ve always been an underachiever, but at least I’ve never been an obnoxious drunk or a public menace. Of course there’s the drugs, but that seems to be an issue of diminishing importance, unless you were caught smoking crack this morning, and that’s not my profile. I haven’t been successful in my business endeavors, but I’ve never claimed to be a great executive and at least I never lost a lot of other people’s money. Maybe I wasn’t the best husband in the world, but I never had a girlfriend, and I never dumped my family because it was selfishly convenient at the time. It could all be spun. Like, at first I took only simple jobs because my real priority was to get home early, with no homework, so that I could concentrate on being a dad; after that I found myself in a business where my ethical standards and sweet disposition were considered anathema. Those are plausible explanations. One good thing, I’ve never been arrested, so the paper trail is negligible.

I failed to thrive as a lawyer, I admit it. I finally got out when two things became only too clear: 1) I didn’t have the stomach for a game where, day in and day out, vicious battle and winning were everything, and many of my fellows lived to make other practitioners miserable in the process; and 2) in many situations, telling the truth, or simply being reasonable, was unethical, and indeed often rose to the level of malpractice for which one could be sued (with the cheerful assistance of the misery wing of the legal profession). If I enter the public arena, many of my brothers in the law, judges, lawyers, maybe even the odd clerk, will come forward to condemn me as a lily livered loser. Spin, though, pre-emptive spin, could be useful here as well. The way could be prepared for these self serving attacks. After all, they’re really just bullies who stoke the fires of their own egos by chewing on the flanks of others when they think that it is safe to do so, insecure mediocrities who need to prove, on a moment to moment basis, that they are smarter or more talented than others, even when that is far from obvious. The truth of the law game is that almost no one wins all the time. I won some, and I lost some, I did ok. I had strengths and weaknesses, “human,” I think they call it.

So, the legislature. Running as a Democrat, that much is cut in stone. I am a “Yellow Dog” Democrat, and I can prove it. I voted for Dukakis, Mondale, Al Gore, and John Kerry. I would have voted for Hubert Horatio Humphrey if I’d had the chance. No names, but there’re a couple of Yellow Dogs on that list. I will admit that my soul cried out to god for mercy when I pulled the lever for Kerry. I won’t take any credit for voting for Clinton or Carter, voting for them was a no-brainer. I’d vote for them again, given the chance.

No need to start in the United States Senate, even considering the lateness of the hour. I’m not getting any younger, but I’ve never been ambitious. Ditto the House of Representatives, I’ll leave the Fed’s to their own game. No, I’m thinking of the lower house of the legislature of the great State of California. That’s a netherworld of invisibility right there, but it needs manning. I could be helpful there.

Just thinking out loud, I suppose. Isn’t that what blogs are for?

Procol Harum - The Devil Came From Kansas

This came out in 1969.  Check out the Billboard charts and see what kind of crap was on the radio that year. 

But to paraphrase the film maker, Robert Bresson, keep on digging!  It's down there somewhere! 

("Stay where you are.  Dig three times.") 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

California Bank Robbers Litter Highway With Money

I couldn't get a direct link in, but here's the site.

I had one occasion to see a highway littered with money myself, and it's quite a sight to see.  I was on the Coast Highway going through Malibu, southbound, and just passing under the traffic light in front of the old Sea Lion Restaurant (still there, but under new management with another name), where Rambla Pacifica heads off into the mountains.

Right after the traffic light, I was passing a Porsche Carrera, and just as I caught up with them a woman in the passenger seat extended her arms upward, holding an open brief case which released a green puff of money.  I didn't get a great look, the driver was already slowing down, but it was pretty obviously money, in its green, confetti like spray of paper, and in the driver's reaction.  In the rear-view mirror, I saw the driver jerk the car over to the side of the road.  One can only imagine the conversation in the Porsche at the time.

What were these bank robbers thinking?  Get rid of the evidence?  It's on film, and specimens will have been collected, so that won't work.  Create a distraction to facilitate escape?  Maybe, but a long shot for sure. They had a helicopter on them. 

One thing for sure about the Porsche, that woman was pretty angry about something, she didn't eject the cash just for shit and giggles.  That would be a story to know, for sure. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Dickies-Stukas Over Disneyland

I always respected the Dickies, but I never totally loved them, and this song is very good, but not great.  It is, however, a fine statement of a true thing: Disneyland is as close as most Americans ever got to real Fascists.

Ask anyone who ever tried to get in back in the Sixties or Seventies wearing torn jeans or, God forbid, stoned.  Ask anyone who worked there back then.  Security people everywhere, with earpieces, you'd think the president was about to show up, isn't it still like that?   Much more authoritarian in the old days, take my word for it.  Now it's all about the money, like everything else. 

Still a great place though, the Happiest Place On Earth!  Happiness mandated in the legislature.  Maybe we should try that for the entire country. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sly & The Family Stone - A Family Affair

From the great album, "There's a Riot Goin' On."  Living proof that cocaine is good for you for about six months to a year. 

When I was younger I'm pretty sure that I was somebody who loved to learn, but now I'm afraid that circumstances beyond my control have turned me into somebody who would just as soon burn. 

What If There Were A Real Problem?

(After reading “The Climate Fixers,” by Michael Specter, in a recent New Yorker Magazine.)

We are currently surrounded by people who are relentlessly boosting “problems” that are so unimportant, non-threatening, bogus, or just plain stupid that one could be forgiven if one arrived in a state of problem fatigue. Gay marriage will cause God to rain fire down on us; abortion, ditto; failing to reduce taxes on the rich and do away with government regulation will cause the “end of America as we know it;” electing Romney, or Mr. Obama, depending on who you listen to, will deliver America into a state of fascism; the imposition of Sharia Law, or One-World-Government, is imminent. They’re coming for our guns! It’s a long list, but there’s not a cough in the carload, it’s all bullshit from start to finish.

But what if there were a real problem? Either all of a sudden, like a comet impact, or the Yellowstone caldera exploding in a million year event, or some kind of creeping problem that was unidentified in its early stages, or inadequately understood, or rejected outright due to political or financial expediencies, like, let’s say, Global Climate Change?

Whatever anyone might tell you, it is a fact that the global climate is changing, that much is certain at this point, and it is likely that human activity is responsible. Whatever is causing it, things are happening, things with consequences. Before this century is over, the whole thing is liable to get very, very exciting.

The world is full of propeller-heads working on documenting the problem or trying to come up with “solutions.” I put that in quotes because the few courses of action that would actually qualify as solutions are completely out of the question. So the big thinkers are trying to come up with ways to mitigate the effects of the change without addressing the problem at its source, because that is considered impossible.

Some of their ideas are comical. They are so bizarre that they seem like stories from one of those 1930’s magazines that were half-way between science and science fiction. There’s a whole group of scientists in England who think we should inject huge quantities of reflective materials into the stratosphere to turn back some of the sun’s energy. Their best guess for a medium is sulfur dioxide, which produces sulfuric acid, which destroys the ozone layer, which, I seem to recall, causes more of the sun’s energy to reach the surface of the earth. I’m not sure that would work. But they must know what they’re doing, they’re English after all, or British or something. Their idea is to pump the sulfur dioxide “through a twelve mile long pipe held aloft by a balloon at one end and tethered, at the other, to a boat anchored at sea.” Oh, try to imagine that as a trouble free enterprise.

Trouble is coming though. Average temperatures are going up, and the correlation with human activity is compelling. Human activity that will continue, because there is an universal determination to expend every molecule of oil, coal and natural gas before attempting to make other plans. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is keeping track of things, and making predictions. By the end of this century the rise in the earth’s average temperature will be somewhere between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees Celsius (between 2 and 11 degrees Fahrenheit). Notice that even while being so imprecise in their estimate they are very precise with the decimal points and all. You’ve got to love science.

That’s potentially a big increase, although lots of people will tell you that it’s not. The "nots" are self-serving statements made by non-scientists though. And don’t forget, those numbers are averages, and there's more to it than just the averages. Think about it, the average of eight and twelve is ten, and the average of two and eighteen is also ten. As we have seen, while the average temperatures are going up, the highs are getting higher and the lows are getting lower. See what I mean? It’s a problem.

It’s really a family of problems. Not only is the shroud that we’re building around the earth keeping in heat, but the heat is melting the permafrost all around the northern reaches of the earth, from Alaska to Canada, on to Scandinavia and Russia, and back again. “Melting would release enormous stores of methane, a greenhouse gas nearly thirty times more potent than carbon dioxide.” So that would make things worse all around, thickening the shroud and turning up the heat, maybe a lot, maybe quickly. It’s happening already, the melting, whole towns in Alaska are moving around, and houses in Russia are sinking into the ground. Wooly mammoths are bubbling up.

This is fun stuff. It’s good to be distracted from the fiddling-while-Rome-burns that passes for discussion in our political discourse. And this whole climate change thing makes even creeping fascism seem like a party.

In light of all of this, it does seem like a good idea to consider possible courses of action. I mean, at some point something will have to be done, you know, like when it stops raining in China, or India is being carried away by the mother of all floods. “At the very least, we need to learn what approaches to avoid even if desperate.” Like maybe that sulfur dioxide idea, with the twelve mile long pipe and the balloon.

If I were a betting man, I’d go with the political entities continuing to pass this problem on to committees whose recommendations will continue to be found to be inconclusive. The whole energy regime of the entire world will insure that result. This will set the stage for the inevitable cataclysm, which will put the entire world into “frenzied crisis mode,” which it is generally best to avoid.

So maybe we should all go back to our little bullshit problems of choice, the noisy, colorful non-problems on the screen, with the smoke and mirrors, and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. That way it will all be so much more exciting and cathartic when it hits.

(All uncredited quotes are from the article by Mr. Specter. All of the rest of it is mine. He wasn’t so flippant about it, and he concentrated on the efforts of the scientists.)

john coltrane & johnny hartman / "my one and only love"

Whatever happens in this Vale of Tears, I suppose we'll always have 'Trane.