Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Monument To Water

This is a picture of one of the pools at Wat Muang Tam in the province of Buriram, Thailand.  It was built about eight hundred years ago by the then ascendant Cambodians, the Khmer.

Temples in Thailand can be a mixed bag as far as which religions and deities are involved.  Many from this period strenuously mix their metaphors, drawing from Hinduism, Buddhism, the prior semi-animism of the lingus/yoni religion, and everything in between.  This one is no different in its statuary, but the real focus of the place is the virtual worship of water itself.

There are big pools like this one at all compass points, and there are water channels in all of the footpaths and stairways.  These are small channels, about an inch wide and an inch deep, allowing the water to travel along the sides of the paths.  The whole place is designed so that on a certain holiday, or holidays, a managed overflow can be created, which will connect the pools and fill all of the water channels.  Controlling water was one of the ways that the Khmer kings proved their divinity.  The great temple complex at Angkor Wat is the ultimate expression of this, a water event as big as Dallas. Forgive me if I do not visit Angkor.  It is in Cambodia, after all.  I am a somewhat adventurous man, but there are limits.
This place is all the way out of the way, and the day that I visited I was almost alone.  Me and my driver, one local couple showed up after a while, that's it.  No staff, no admission, no maintenance people, nothing.  It was eerily quiet, you could hear leaves drop, which was totally appropriate.  The route to this place is way off the beaten path, about fifty twists and turns on small streets and through a couple of small towns and finally a ride on a two lane road through farms, almost to the Cambodian border.   There are no local buses, you'll have to hire a driver like I did.  It's the most amazing of all of the sites that I've visited, unique in my (albeit limited) experience.

I'd recommend it.  Here's a few more pix. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Melt Banana - Showroom Dummies (Cover of Kraftwerk)

I'll tell you right now, without fear of contradiction, that if those friends of mine, referenced in the below post, were still alive when Melt Banana covered this song, which they were not, still alive I mean, they would have loved this cut, because this cut wrote the book on "nuts." 

Kraftwerk showroom dummies les mannequins 1978 french remix HQ

Here's Kraftwerk covering themselves, so to speak.  It's a remix?  Maybe it's somebody else covering Kraftwerk covering themselves. 

I had friends back then who collected all the versions of Kraftwerk that they could get their hands on.  French, Italian, these guys had it all.  After all, it was "nuts."  Many of us were way into "nuts" in those days. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

"Meet The Press" Must Be Code For Something Else

I really shouldn’t watch these shows, these “political discussion” shows.  To say that Fox is the worst is a cliché that happens to be true, but shows like “Meet the Press” are more disturbing in some ways.  With Fox, you get just what you expect.  With “Meet the Press,” you might expect a more balanced and serious discussion, but you’d be disappointed.

Bobby Jindal was on yesterday.  He’s a failed organism, politically speaking, but that doesn’t stop him from getting booked and getting his talking points out there.  Other media report on his appearances, blandly repeating the talking points.  That’s what they are for, the talking points, they are intended to shape the dialog and move public opinion in a certain direction.  Unfortunately for the country in general, and for most of us in particular, guys like Bobby Jindal are very good at what they do. 

Most unfortunately of all, many of the talking points are outright lies, and the moderators of these shows almost never call the talkers on it.  Moderators!  Another cruel euphemism.  Facilitators is more like it. 

Who’s in charge of “Meet the Press” these days, is his name David Gregory?  Did I get that right?  Would that we could buy back our introductions to the likes of him.   He sat there nodding his head respectfully while Bobby Jindal let go a whopper. 

The Lie:

“Health insurance rates are going through the roof all over America because of Obamacare,” said Mr. Jindal with a disarming, crooked smile. 

It is possible that some researchers in a think tank somewhere discovered places where this has happened.  I don’t do research, I wouldn’t know.  It is also true, however, that in most places the rates have gone down, and things in general have gotten much better for most Americans.  So the quote, as delivered, is a bald faced lie.  A talking point, crafted to induce people to believe that the Affordable Care Act is bad for them, bad for their families, and bad for the country.  Which is not true.  It’s not perfect, not by a long shot, but it’s a small step in the direction of addressing a real problem. 

Anybody out there drinking the Kool Aid?  Anybody buying the lie that America has the best health care system in the world?  Loving that freedom to choose your own doctor and your own care?  Obviously you don’t have a child with Muscular Dystrophy; obviously you haven’t come down with some terrible malady soon after losing a job. 

But “Meet the Press.”  The only question is: do they know that they are working for the opposition?  Or are they just stumbling along trying to sell advertising?  Are they in on the joke?  The negative effects of their failure to engage on the issues are much less ambiguous.  Lots of people think that they are watching a genuine political discussion, and many of them will believe Mr. Jindal and repeat what he said.  That’s what talking points do. 

Bobby Jindal is, unfortunately, a lucid and articulate man.  This is unfortunate, because the vision that he lucidly articulates is Satanic.  It is based on lies that are carefully crafted to create benefit for a very few people at the expense of the vast majority. 

Luckily, not all of these guys are as talented as Bobby Jindal.  After all, Pat Buchanan is still making the rounds.  Talk about a failed political organism.  Obviously, these people will flog any dead horse that they think will help them convince people to go against their own best interests. 

Another example of the failure of lucidity was also on “Meet the Press” last night, David Brooks.  It is a mystery to me why anyone would care what he has to say on any subject.  He doesn't seem to care very much himself, it's a pretty vague web that he spins. He has the values of a loan shark, and the gall of a burglar, all in a faux academic package and wrapped in a Brooks Brothers suit. 

Oh, that there could be an actual discussion!  Oh, that we could have a health care system as wonderful as the one that is working so well in Taiwan, even as we speak!  But if you even say the words, “single payer,” various people-under-the-influence will shout you down as a socialist troublemaker.
Oh, that there were a God that answered prayer!  We certainly need a lot more help than we’re getting.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tips For Young Musicians

Make sure that you choose a band name that is searchable, one that doesn't generate like two million hits that don't have anything to do with your band.  Like don't name your band after a common musical instrument. 

And while we're at it, don't give your original songs the names of songs that already exist. 

So, what have we learned?  Among other things, we are now aware that "Cymbals" is a very good Japanese band. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Melt Banana Have Settled Down Considerably

No, Melt Banana do not have a version of "What I Like About You," at least not on YouTube.  They do, however, offer a version of "What A Wonderful World."

There's a lot of vid's up for Melt Banana but the hit counts are low.  They're always wildly interesting though, don't you think?  They've been around for a while, and this video shows them in an uncharacteristically quiet, contemplative mood.  Take my word for it, or, even better, go listen to some of the early stuff for yourself.  This band wrote the book on abrasive in the Nineties.   They are generally categorized as "Noise Rock."

I like this cut, but part of me misses the older style.  It was shockingly original, the old stuff, almost frightening in its intensity and sonic brutality.  I hope somebody out there is picking up that flag.  

Helmet Heads Are Thai

These guys remind of of Shonen Knife at just that moment when they started to figure out how to play.  Helmet Heads are not a great band, but they're very good.

They do listen to great records and then play the songs with great enthusiasm, hence the Shonen Knife reference.

These guys do a killer version of the Spencer Davis hit, "Keep on Running."  If I had to guess, they get this stuff from YouTube.  I seriously doubt that they know anybody who has these records.

My favorite version of "What I Like About You" is by the Suicide Machines, it's just the original idea but rougher and a little bit faster.  This version is straight up and heavy on the innocence.  There's room for all schools.  I wonder if Melt Banana every covered this song?  I should check.    

Friday, August 9, 2013

Another Improvement, Evidently

Yesterday the security functions of my iMac went nuts and I couldn't access Facebook, Hotmail or this blog (a Google product).  Today it looks like those outfits, one or more of them, were making "improvements" to their services.

My Facebook headings changed slightly, that's all I can see.  Hotmail seems the same.  YouTube, another Google product, no longer seems to enable easy sharing to Blogspot blogs.  Copy out the embed code, etc.  Bummer.

So I suppose now I'll have to figure out how to make things like the above site actually linkable.  Not as attractive though.

You know what Google would say:  "you know we want to help you in the worst way!" 

Oh!  Never mind!  pasting in the embed code put the video up as usual!  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Good News! Justine (perhaps Jeanette) "Baby" Washington Is Still With Us

I never claim to be any kind of an academic or anything, no scholar, I.  So although my interests are legion, my involvement may seem a bit shallow.  I generally avoid research.  So simple facts surprise me sometimes. 

Sometimes in a good way.  I think about Baby Washington from time to time, and I always hold her up as one of the great, great singers of my time.  As I was considering the song below, I wondered how she was doing, which is a euphemism for "is she still alive?"

Turns out that she's only eight years older than I am, which makes her only seventy-three, and yes, there's no death date showing on her Wiki file.  I looked at the images too, there are some good more-recent pictures among them.  I think it's great; I hope that she's doing fine.  We all, the world I mean, owe her sincere thanks for all of the great music that she gave us.  

Go On - Baby Washington

There was a moment there when I had a radio show in a little northern town.  The goal was to sneak a little English into the lives of Thai people when they weren't expecting it.  I favored songs just like this, simple stories, told in clear English, and sung with gusto by great artists. 

It was a tough sell, but it was fun, fun, fun. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Russian paratroopers attack lone LGBT activist for protesting anti-gay law

Russian paratroopers attack lone LGBT activist for protesting anti-gay law

You couldn't make this stuff up.  These paratroopers, dressed up in costumes that fall between Tom's of Finland and the Village People, pushed around this one young man who might be, you know, homosexual.  Not that he's practicing his alleged perversion in public, not in anyone's face, but who knows what he's doing at home?

It's one thing to go out gay-bashing, but please, could you do it in outfits that were a little less gay?  

Friday, August 2, 2013

RIP Doghouse Riley

Doghouse Riley was a blogger out in the heartland who kept himself very busy commenting on matters political and cultural.  He was a real gem,  every bit as lucid as he was righteously indignant.  Fine touch with a sentence too, a good communicator. 

Fare well, Mr. Case.  Thanks for everything. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995) - Trailer

This is a great giant monster movie.  I've seen it a few times.  My friend told me he had the DVD, and I was really anxious to watch it again, it's not an easy DVD to find.  Turns out he only has a copy of "Gamera the Brave," which, although it's a great movie, I already have.