Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sadistic Mika Band - Picnic Boogie

So who, you say, or what, is the Sadistic Mika Band? 

Here's a good early-seventies example of their stuff.  Early example too, I think it's from their first album.  I always say: if they sound like they had fun playing it, I have fun listening. 

Tim Gunn's Fashion Crimes

Tim Gunn was on the Jimmy Fallon show last week, I saw the rerun last night.  I watch award shows, I have seen the guy around for years, I like him.  He's a likeable guy, after all.  I can be hard on men's fashion, I have to warn you, I frequently shout at the TV, "where did he get that tie!"  Or, "couldn't he have borrowed a suit the right size?"  Or maybe just, "what was he thinking?"  I don't remember ever finding fault with Mr. Gunn's presentation previously, but on the Fallon show he wore an outfit that I wouldn't wear to a rock fight.

(Pardon me, I just tried to add a couple of pictures but I was informed by Apple and or Firefox that I can only add "images or videos."  The pictures were images, of course.)

I checked the Google images of Tim Gunn and my memory of him was essentially correct.  He has most often been seen in very dignified suits, well cut and put together, with mostly appropriate shirts and ties.  Very nice on the cut of the shirts, no strange splayed collars, and very nice knots on the ties.  I say mostly, there are a few pictures of Tim wearing his usual fine suits with loud, striped or checked shirts, even one with a checked shirt and a striped tie.  I didn't think that was allowed.  Maybe I'm behind the times.

No maybe now it is all the fashion rage to wear suits with weird, plaidlike patterns, in purplish colors, with strange, wing-like lapels that almost reach one's shoulders, like the suit Tim wore on the Fallon show.  Not only that, but wear them with loud, checked shirts AND A CHECKED TIE TOO.  I feel like Bones on that Star Trek episode where he materializes on an unfamiliar planet, flags down a passer by and shouts at the poor man, "what  planet is this?"

DISCLOSURE: I love the Fashion Police.  Forgive me if I have become too fond of making fun of what other people wear. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Dimitri From Paris - Une Very Stylish Fille

Speaking of Shibuya-Kei, the Google just showed me the way to this fellow.  Very nice cut, very FPM. 

I wonder if he's really French.  It's a status that many people would like to claim without merit.  Dimitri is not a very French name.  Perhaps I'll Google that too! 

きゃりーぱみゅぱみゅ - PONPONPON , Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - PONPONPON

Fifty-nine million hits, so I guess this is a popular song/artist.  I like it.

Disclosure:  I'm a big fan of Akira Kurasawa.  I've seen them all, from "Stray Dog" to "Dreams," and everything in between.  Other great Japanese film makers too, like Ozu, etc., not to mention almost all of the giant monster movies, samurai movies from high-tone to trashy, and "Cutey Honey."  Also "Star Man," "Samurai Sheriff," and "Tattooed Swordswoman."  I'm also a big fan of the Imperial Japanese Navy, especially the cruiser and destroyer divisions.  The capitol ships and the admirals, not so much, too timid.  Saburo Sakai was a hero of mine when I was twelve, he was a Zero ace.  I love Shibuya Kei, like Pizzicato Five and Fantastic Plastic Machine.  I think that Cornelius is one of the geniuses of our musical times.  I liked Pink Lady and the Candies in the seventies, and the Sadistic Mika Band is an all time favorite.  I also love Japanese food.  Haruki Murakami is my new favorite author.  I think that Japanese women are beautiful.  I have one Japanese friend, he's a great guy. 

For the record, I have zero desire to go to Japan.  That much of an outsider I don't want to feel like.  Thai people are actually pretty cosmopolitan and welcoming, because Thailand is a crossroads country that has always had lots of foreigners wandering around marrying Thai women and deciding to stay.  Always.  Japan is an island at the edge of the world.  It's not on the way to anywhere.

So yes, I like this song.  Now maybe I'll try to figure out which is her name and which is the name of the song. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bangkok Cold Snap

"Winter" in Thailand is usually a joke.  For a month or so, in a typical year, the temperatures moderate, it's true, but it's still usually in the mid- to upper-eighties during the day and high sixties or maybe seventy at night (all temp's Fahrenheit).  This happens in December and January, more or less.  Six weeks tops.

This year the temperatures are rather lower, and the cool weather is lasting rather longer.  All of December and January so far, and again tonight we're expecting low sixties (tonight on Accuweather: 60).  It's been cool during the day too, and that's never happened in my ten years of experience.  Temperatures are barely cracking the low eighties.  

It's so much fun to watch the Thais chase around like they were freezing, wearing big jackets, gloves and scarves.  Even dogs with no owners are dressed in sweaters, I guess neighborhood people are afraid that they will die from the severe cold.  I understand though, it's all a question of what you're used to.  Thai people are used to very, very hot weather.  I usually say, Thailand has three seasons:  hot; very hot; and hot with rain.  This year it's a little different.  And two months (so far) is a real season, not the usual six weeks interlude. 

I don't think anyone will mind if Thailand gets a little cooler.  Not the ex-pat's for sure, probably not the Thais either.  I mean, a little bit cooler would probably be a good thing.  This Global Climate Change thing giveth, and it taketh away too.  Some places will change for the worse; some for the better.  If Thailand gets a little bit cooler it will still be hot most of the time, so the real aficionados will still have plenty of nice hot days.  

I just hope that the rain patterns don't change too much.  Let's just wish for the best: I hope that the pattern of frequent droughts in the northeast of Thailand becomes more forgiving.  Those poor farmers, in the sense of "unfortunate," life is hard for a farmer, they need their rain just right.  Not too much, not too little, not too early, not too late, those guys are picky.  They feed us though, so I love them

So hey, America, how's that climate change working out for you?   Oh.  Sorry I asked. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ohio Turns Murderer Into Victim In Only Twenty-Six Minutes

It might surprise long term readers to discover that I am not against the death penalty in every situation.  Usually it's a bad idea, and I would never recommend it for any economic crime at all, including crimes in the commission of which innocent people were killed.  It's a bad idea if some guy kills his wife, or visa versa, no matter what the circumstances.  But in cases of particularly heinous murders, like sexually motivated child murders, sure, go ahead, kill the convicted murderer.  In cases like that it's not fair to leave them alive, up at the prison.  Not fair to the parents of the victims.  Give the parents closure, execute the murderer already.  But how?

Up on the muddy banks of the Cayahouga River (sp), they put a guy to death last week in such a spectacularly misguided fashion that it has become quite a sensation.  It was one of those "chemical executions," where they strap the guy down in some Doctor Evil kind of rig with a big machine behind him with three huge cylinders of colored chemicals that will be pumped into an IV over the course of time.  And they tried a new formula out on this poor guy!  Not on a monkey, or a dog or something, something that no one would miss or file a law suit over.  No, they tried out some new bunch of chemicals out on this human being, with witnesses, with cameras, with his family members present.  What the fuck is wrong with Ohio?  They used to be so cool.

Dennis McGuire was the poor victim's name.  The state of Ohio turned him into a victim, and turned his family into plaintiffs in what is sure to be a giant court case.  Twenty-six minutes it took poor Dennis to die!  Strange noises were coming out of him!  Why, it was torture!

I hate to tell you, but hooking those poor devils up to a table like that and injecting them slowly, methodically, with one thing after an other, is always torture.  This time it was just a little bit more obviously torture.  The whole thing is plum stupid, in fact.

What, I wonder, would be wrong with just giving them a shot of pentothal first to knock them out?  I can tell you, that takes about 0.1 seconds.  I had an operation once, and the anesthesiologist said to me, "you're going to feel the needle, and then I want you to count backwards from one hundred."  He said this with a straight face.  I remember feeling the needle and forming the present intention to say "one hundred."  The next thing I remember is waking up the next morning with tubes hanging out everywhere.

After my shot, they opened me up like a gutted fish, searched around for my poor, exploded appendix, picked up and semi-removed my intestines so they could cut off the parts that had gone wrong, sewed up the cuts, hosed out the whole body cavity to wash away the infectious puss, stuffed the guts back in and stapled me up.  I was none the wiser, inhabiting at the time a dream world far, far away.  That's after a shot that took 0.1 seconds to knock me all the way out.

So give Mr. Murderer a shot of pentothal, wait about a minute and a half, and then just inject bubbles into his veins.  Why even waste money on poison?  The bubbles will kill him quickly, and he won't be aware in the slightest that anything is happening at all.  The whole thing takes two minutes.

What is Ohio considering?  Firing squads!  As Ripley said in "Aliens," "did IQ's suddenly drop while I was away?"  Are they so enamored of drama that just stretching a guy out on a cot after his last meal and giving him a simple shot of pentothal before reformatting his hard drive with something fatal is so dull that they won't even consider it? 

The Song "Alfie" Is A Liberal, Anti-Libertarian Manifesto

Burt Bacharach and Hal David felt like this was their favorite of their own songs.  That would be an accomplishment in itself, being the best Bacharach/David song.  I'd go a step further though.  I feel like it's one of the best songs of all time, period.

My second son was "my baby."  My wife was very territorial about our first child, born over seven years earlier.  She did everything.  After the second birth, she told me, with some bitterness, "it's your turn to do everything."  I remember it as fun, actually.  The baths, the bedtimes, the doctor's visits, the doctoring of lesser bruises, the getting dressed, the midnight whispers of, "dad . . . dad . . ."  The boy couldn't do anything without company.   I put him to bed every night, and in doing so I sang him two songs.  The same two songs every night, starting young and until he was over two years old.  He never complained, even though neither song had any kid appeal other than dad doing the singing.  I'd start off with "Silhouettes on the Shade," one of my favorite Doo Wop songs (by the Rays).  Then I'd swing into "Alfie."  (This Dionne Warwick version is my favorite.)  He wasn't old enough to understand the meaning of the song.  He wasn't old enough to understand "Silhouettes" either, for that matter.  I started way before he'd mastered even rudimentary English.  They're beautiful songs, regardless.

"Alfie" is one of half a dozen or so songs that I can't sing without crying, every time.  The ideas are so big, and so powerful, and so fucking right on, that it could only have been published in connection with a film.  I'm sure that it only became a pop hit due to the fabulous melody and the great singing.  The content was a bonus!  

I miss those days, and him and his brother.  As Joseph Heller said, "Something Happened."  That's life, though.  I wish us all luck. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Professor Longhair - Big Chief Part 1 & Part 2 - 45 rpm

Well, here's a great two-sided 45 for y'all.

This was recorded in 1964, when the popular acts in the charts were a lot of pretty good white bands and a lot of really good black performers.  Many of these acts were quite successful at creating sonic excitement.  'Fess was way off in the corner, tearing it up, more or less in private.  I had no idea at the time that he was even there.  Dude probably never had two nickels to rub together.

I only figured out later on that "New Orleans" was code for "this shit is the bomb."  I had lots of clues. I'd had Little Richard records in 1956, but I was only eight years old at the time.  Gary "U.S." Bonds with the great "New Orleans," that was a clue right there.  Don't you just know it?  It's finger-popping time!  I was only ten or twelve by then, and it took me another few years to work it out.  Professor Longhair was pretty deep, I had to wait to get to his level.  

I read an interview with the Great Man one time.  The interviewer asked the Professor what key he preferred to play in.  'Fess replied, "I don't know, I probably plays in all of 'em."  The man WAS music, he didn't have to think about it. 

Oh, it's enough to make one long for transcendence, for the survival of the human spirit.  For life-after-death, if you will.  It's just too horrible to think that some treasures are gone for good.  God knows, there are people, dead people, that I would never want to see again in a million years.  But there are a few, a precious few, that I would really enjoy seeing and/or hearing again.  I'd be a better human being if I thought for a minute that there was a heaven and 'Fess was sitting at the piano up there, playing for the party.  How sad is that? 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Those Damned Annunciators

Jack Lemmon played the chief engineer of the troubled nuclear power plant in "The China Syndrome."  At one point everything has been going wrong for some time and he gets tired of listening to the warning bells and whistles.

"Somebody turn off those damned annunciators!"

I know how he felt.

Why, for instance, must a TV that you have just actually turned on, on purpose, standing right there, make a silly chimey sound when it finally gets through its start up procedure?  You just turned it on, and it is now lit up and ready to go.  Why make a further, quite unnecessary announcement of its status?

Same with computers.  You have just actually turned it on, with your own hands, sitting or standing right there.  Why does my iMac insist on generating a huge "bong" sound?  To be fair, if you leave it on mute when you shut it down the iMac will boot up silently.  With the TV, no such luck.

I'm sure that there are other examples, but I'm too angry to think about it. 

Good movie, by the way.  And how's this for a coincidence?  The movie came out in March, 1979, the very same month that the Three Mile Island nuclear plant almost melted down.  You can't buy publicity like that.  All that and Jane Fonda too.  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Maple Syrup

Narcissism alert!  I bought some maple syrup yesterday.

I never saw real maple syrup as a child, unless we were on vacation in the Adorandaks or Vermont or something.  Even then, I mostly just had a couple of pieces of maple sugar candy.  Later, I developed a taste for the syrup.

There was always real maple syrup in my house when my children were growing up.  It's always a little bit expensive, the real stuff, but it was an extravagance that we could afford.  After all, it's only a few bucks extra, a bottle lasts a good long time, and it's so much better than the sugary imitation "maple" syrup.  We made waffles or pancakes for a kind of family breakfast on the weekend, with the real maple syrup.  The kids loved it. 

We were not rich, not by any means, but we were okay.  If we picked our spots, we could enjoy the best of a few things.  We always had real parmigiano reggiano cheese too.  That can be some real sticker shock if you look at the pound price, but the package that you buy is only four bucks or so and it lasts for a while.   That corporate imitation cheese in a can is so gross, I mean really, it's worse than the Aunt Jemima. 

So I bought some maple syrup yesterday, Turkey Hill brand, from Quebec.  This is Asia, so there was no requirement to label it for grade or type, but it looks like "amber," and it might even be grade A.  It's packaged in a very graceful, disc shaped bottle with a small maple leaf well placed asymmetrically.  It was expensive, no surprise there.  Here in Bangkok this is a real luxury item.  533 Baht for 250 ml.  That's about sixteen dollars.  My father will probably disown me.  He used to come to the house and see the maple syrup and act like I was the most reckless spendthrift in history.  The reggiano, that he wouldn't even eat.  If we made Italian food he'd look at the pound price, say something that was both shocked and shocking, and put it back down.  He'd always made a good living, as his father did before him, but you can't completely take the Great Depression out of those who experienced it as children.

I got the maple syrup for a friend of mine.  Her father had loved pancakes and french toast and waffles, he was educated in Shanghai and with the war and all he was stuck there for a long, long time.  He developed a real taste for foreign food, like steak and potatoes, and the pancakes, etc.  After the war he returned to Thailand, got married to a nice Chinese woman, and had six kids.  The steak, that no one else in the house would touch.  Mom would cook for the family and he would cook for himself, often.  The kids loved the pancakes, etc, though.  They mostly had them with only honey.  Honey is popular and affordable in Thailand.  Thai people, most of them, don't eat butter, or at least they didn't back then.  My friend has never had maple syrup.  I didn't think that was fair.  Anybody who loves pancakes should have them with maple syrup (and butter, for that matter). 

My friend has been practicing her pancakes.  It's all very nostalgic for her, her dad has been dead for some time now.  Bisquick pancakes!  A good sized box of Bisquick is about the same price here as it is in Los Angeles.  It'll be interesting to see what she thinks.  It's possible that she'll think it's too sweet, possible if not likely.  Who wouldn't love maple syrup?  We'll see, I guess. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Willie Eason - Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Poor Man's Friend

Brother, sometimes I cry about Roosevelt myself.  Will we ever see his like again? 

. . . said the proud New Deal liberal.  Unless you want to start working fifty or sixty hours a week, with no vacation or sick days or time-and-a-half for overtime, and no unemployment insurance, and unless you want your mom and dad to live with you after they can't work anymore, etc, well, all you conservative numbskulls out there, you can just shut the fuck up about the New Deal.  We're all better off for it. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Don't You Just Know It Huey "Piano" Smith & The Clowns - Large.m4v

Another one of those very entertaining video accompaniments.  Classic New Orleans and classic pin-ups, a natural combination.