Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cool Web Site Alert: China Daily Show

Check them out:

More like the China Onion really, but very, very funny stuff.  Find out what your new masters think is funny!  Reassuringly, it's a lot like what Americans think is funny. 

Thanks to Slate for the heads-up. 

jimi hendrix Stone Free on belgium tv

Jimi and the White Guys lip-synching on Belgian TV.  Not even trying really, the boy was super-casual, after all.  Looking good though. 

Jimi would have turned 70 on November 27th this year.  Just a reminder to the rest of us, the living, the survivors, of how lucky we are to have made it this far.  Not cool at all to complain about being old.  The alternatives, you know, are less than desirable. 

Fun Fact:  the actual drums in this actual video, not just drums that look the same, were traded in to a place on 48th Street in New York within a year or so of this video.  They were purchased by a friend of mine, and I actually sat at them and played them a couple of times.  Very nice set of Pearls, custom finish, very distinctive.  Fun, these little personal ties to history. 

Autumn Leaves - Chet Baker & Paul Desmond Together

Great tune, French song, "Les feuilles mortes," 1945.  ("The dead leaves.")

Autumn never bothered me, per se.  The holidays, however, have been known to twist my nipples with reckless enthusiasm, and they're doing it again. 

Chris Connor - Blame It On My Youth

Oh, it's okay, just blame me. 

And if there's anyone out there, having some troublesome bit of baggage, needing someone to take the blame for it, go ahead, you too, blame it on me.  There must be some colorable argument to defend the attribution.  Go ahead, if it helps you. 

The Silence

So this has been the longest period of silence in the five year history of this blog. 

Blame it on trouble with devices.  I recently suffered a probably catastrophic yet annoyingly mysterious data loss in my laptop; the water heater in my shower substantially failed only three days after the one year warrantee period; a guitar that I brought back from America last year needs a rehab after apparently being left out in the elements for several years by some bailee. 

Blame it on the holidays.  I do kind of like Thanksgiving, but I've never been completely comfortable with Christmas.  This year, pictures of a happy Thanksgiving set me off.  (If an explanation is necessary, I'm sorry, none with be provided.) 

Blame it on my youth!  Nothing that I experienced early in life prepared me in any way for an adulthood that has turned out so weird. 

More soon, I promise, in the more accustomed lighthearted vein. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

ernie k doe ... a certain girl

People sure have interesting hobbies these days.  Like taking great songs and pairing them with entertaining but unrelated video content for posting on the YouTube. 

I approve this trend.

My Comments On Certainty

I love to read the comments on these Internets, as my constant readers well know.  Just a tip from the Tipster, most of you guys are way, way too sure of yourselves.  Internet comments usually feature a level of certainty that is wildly inappropriate.  

Most of the comments that we read come in the areas of the social sciences in general, politics, various cultural manifestations, sociology, history and the like, and all of these areas are gray, gray, gray.  There's no solid ground there people, no foundation for such bell-like clarity.

These comments, unless you are reading mathematics websites (good for you!), concern the subjective regions of human enterprise, where there is no certainty.  And I don't care how unusually erudite and well informed you are either.  What you have read may have been produced with biases unknown to you; important insights may be contained in sources that have escaped your notice.

Or, you may just be wrong.

So take my advice.  Instead of sounding like a high-powered-jerk-off-know-it-all, put a little "perhaps" in your comments, put in a little bit of "maybe."

This, however broad and difficult your experience;

. . . however well read you feel yourself to be in the academic literature of any particular subject;

. . . however impressed you may be with the quality of your insights.

Keep foremost in your mind the words of the Lord Protector, Mr. Cromwell:  "I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken." 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Attention Shoppers!

It has been brought to my attention that the entirety of "Wild, Wild Planet" is available on YouTube. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Eno. Seven Deadly Finns. 1974

Complete with yodeling!  And the greatest, one of the greatest guitar solos, was that Chris Spedding?  I'm not sure right now.  Brian Eno, one thing for sure, he got the best work from the guitar players who worked with him.  He challenged them, and several of them really responded.  "Okay," they figured, "this is an Eno session, time to go nuts." 

There it is again!  "Nuts!"  No surprise, but Norman loved Eno too. 

(You can find out more about Mr. Norman by entering "norman" in the word search for this blog.)

Wild, Wild Planet: Not Exactly A Movie Review

Now that the presidential chasserei is over society can return to more important matters.  Like movies that amuse us, movies that are wildly entertaining, movies that are, as Norman would say, "nuts."  ("I like any movie that's nuts," said the Great Man.)

Movies like "I Criminali della Galassia," Italian, 1965.  Thank you, TCM, for delivering this great movie into our living rooms.

The "corporations" are growing spare body parts on Space Station Gamma One, but one of the corporations' scientists is not satisfied.  He sets up his own private underground Dr. No style laboratory on another planet.  His  plan, no less, is to create a race of supermen and re-populate the galaxy.

Sets and costumes are Star Trek influenced.  The uniforms, the drapery, glasses and other vessels of colored plastic, all very low-budget Star Trek style.  This world of the future still has venetian blinds, both horizontal and vertical.  It's a good thing too, they come in so handy for sending signals to low flying space ships.

The cars are very "Jetsons."  Here's a nice red "Rent-All."

There are plenty of identical cloned hit-men to do the dirty work.  They have four arms, a nice mad-scientist touch.  And dirty the work is, one of these guys kills a little girl by strangulation.  The dialog is not so tough, at one point a bouffant chick supervising the hit-men tells them, "we must be careful, we do not wish to be forced to use harsh words."

This is not a great movie, but let's face it, the academic pursuit of great movies is useless to most of us.  For the target audience, people who like to watch movies, there are only movies that are boring, or mildly diverting, maybe enchanting, or somewhat interesting, or, ideally, wildly entertaining.  This movie is interesting, for sure, and also definitely entertaining.  It's the same with novels.  "Finnegan's Wake" etc are probably great in their way, but they are of little use to most readers.   

The space ships are definitely not Star Trek style, more like Captain Video filtered through those Wally Wood E.C. Comics.

The story of the "criminali" herein is far out in a rather pleasant way.  The bad boss is a rogue corporations' scientist whose ultimate goal is to join himself and the beautiful Connie (girlfriend and karate instructor of the hero/commander) into "one dual person."  Well, that and re-populate the universe with his creations.  These bad guys have good taste, in the conference room back at the lab they have a print of Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights."  They are very bad though.  Besides strangling the little girl, minions who make mistakes are "taken to rejection."  That sounds like a one-way trip.

In the end, the commander prevails and Connie is saved.  The evil lair is flooded with picturesque red water from somewhere, lots of it.  The good guys contrive a way to float to the surface.  There are lots of non-specific explosions of the cheapest special effects type, and all of the bad guys die.

Cut to the happy ending back on earth, with Connie in a bikini and all of the men drinking.  The big joke at the end is the presence of one of their scientist buddies whose process of miniaturization by the bad guys was interrupted.  He's still three feet tall, and it looks like he's going to stay that way, and the guys tease him severely.  No special effect here, they found a dwarf who looked like the guy, slapped a beard on him, and dubbed in the full-sized actor's voice.

The movie is fun, the pace of it is good, the girls are pretty, and I'd recommend it to anyone who is even slightly disposed to such things. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Unwinding Diversity

Mr. Romney campaigned to "take back the White House."  From whom, exactly? 

Why, from that 'Boon, of course, that 'Bun, that Jig, the Witch Doctor in Chief, that Kenyan Anticolonialist.  The strong subtext was: can't y'all see this?  The man is Black!!!

How'd that work out for him?  Eighty-eight percent of the people who voted for Mr. Romney were White people.  Didn't work out too well in the long run.  Not enough of them anymore. 

And those Red State/Blue State maps, very interesting, no?  The Red States, if I may be blunt, were mostly those states not famous for intellectual rigor, mostly intolerant of cultural diversity, intolerant, in truth, even of White people from Blue States, hostile to education in general and educated people in particular, not, indeed, noted for their cultural achievements at all, states that contribute mostly food items or natural resources to the nation's prosperity, if they contribute anything at all. 

President Obama's win was a small victory for diversity in America, and that is a good thing.  Not a clear victory though, with so many people voting for xenophobia.  Let's face it, if Mr. Obama had been a White man named Barry Wilson, and all else  being equal, Romney would have been lucky to win seven states. 

‘Sorcerer’ who believed his tattoos made him invincible arrested in Thailand | The Raw Story

‘Sorcerer’ who believed his tattoos made him invincible arrested in Thailand | The Raw Story

These guys failed to understand the instructions that come with the tat's.  These supernatural protections come with a book of rules.  Break the rules and you blow the deal.

I'm not an expert, but one rule I know for bullet-proof amulets is that if you ever defecate and urinate simultaneously the amulet is rendered useless.   It must show a lack of respect for the gods or something.  I don't own any special amulets, but I'm careful not to perform these actions together in any case.  If some supernatural entity finds it offensive, well, it's just not a good idea to take chances with the supernatural. 

So who knows?  Maybe these things would have worked fine if people had only followed the rules. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Jimmy Scott: Born 1925

Alert the media!  Jimmy Scott still alive! 

To paraphrase the old Cary Grant telegram:  "how old Jimmy Scott?"  Answer: "Old Jimmy Scott fine." 

I'd be terrible at that "Dead or Alive" game.  More to it than mere mathematics, evidently. 

Really, if you're not familiar with the man, please go and spend a pleasant hour on the YouTube and check him out.  So far it does not appear that "Close Your Eyes" by JS is on there, you might want to mark that in your calendar for next year, look for it again.  It's all great though, Jimmy wrote the book.  Like most blues guitar players are doing T. Bone Walker, most jazz singers are doing Jimmy Scott. 

Try A Little Tenderness

I love the covers, you know I do, I love to compare versions of songs.  For me, the proof of a great song is that different people can sing it in different ways and still get to the good place; the proof of a good band/singer is that he can take a song that has been done to death by another band/singer and do it justice, or better.

(For an example of the former, check out "Billy Jean" by Caetano Veloso; of the later, check out "If I Needed Someone" by the Hollies.)  

Sometimes a song just gets so, so limitlessly, fabulously, wonderfully done to death by some singer that another singer could be forgiven for just giving up the field, uh uh, not going there, that song has been just taken over, that song has become the wholly owned subsidiary of somebody else, somebody that's not me, but it's not necessary really.  Songs aren't like that.

The below videos, two singers performing their own, very different versions of "Imagination," display, for me, the whole dynamic of sharing standard songs.  Here's the rule:  If you love the song, and you can bring the necessary sincerity and respect to it, go ahead on with your bad self, sing the motherfucker.  It's okay, don't worry about comparisons, the song loves you and it appreciates the attention. 

Little Jimmy Scott--Imagination

Okay, so Jimmy Scott, aka Little Jimmy Scott, aka Crying Jimmy Scott, owns this song, this is the version that kills, this song has "Jimmy Scott" tattooed on its ass, but what does that mean?  The rest of us should just go away, wearing embarrassed grins, mumbling apologies? 

Chet Baker- Imagination

Proving again that, when it comes to singing songs, there's more to life than news, weather and sports. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thai Language Is A Cute, Vicious Little Puzzle

Thai language is not an easy row to hoe.  It starts off with many features that are hard to get a hold of, like the tones, and the sixty-five odd letters to the alphabet, and the continuous spelling (no spaces between words).  As I progress, slowly, more levels of weirdness are uncovered.

One thing that makes it tough is that Thai people love to give things pet names, and these pet names vary from region to region.  The snack in the above picture, for instance.  What they are is young silk worms, fried up with some garlic and chilli.  They're very tasty, actually, and inoffensive to eat unless you want to think about it too much.  To find them on a menu though, you need to know the slang term for them.  Up north they call them "Express Trains" ("roht doowan"), because of the long, segmented appearance.  There's a different pet name in the Bangkok area.

So maybe you're not that interested in the bug end of the food spectrum.  But everybody loves fried chicken, and there's a great version of fried chicken available here.  Small dose, one meaty bone of a chicken wing, deep fried, it's prefect, not enough to feel guilty about.  Where I found them they are called "Broken Brakes" ("braek daek"), because when you start eating them, you can't stop.  To find them on a menu you need to be able to read "braek daek" and know what they are.

Further, Weirder Complications

I've been practicing my reading these days, and I've encountered a few complications.  I need the dictionary, you know, to buff up the old vocabulary, and looking things up is always tough.  Thai is monosyllabic,  so most words are either one syllable all together or made up of several one syllable words.  These compound words are tough to identify in a sentence with no spaces, and sometimes the two or three component words are hard to relate to the meaning assigned to the compound word.

Even tougher, it turns out that there is a difference between written Thai and spoken Thai, so a word that I know pretty well in spoken Thai may be a completely different word in print.  Even tougher than that, there's adult Thai and children's Thai.  There are different words for if a child is doing something or if the doer is an adult.

They say that language learning late in life is a good way to keep the brain active, fend off the old Alzheimer's.  So maybe I'll be holding out for cancer after all.  Cancer finally gets all of us.