December 28, 2012
Okay, this is probably my favorite XKCD comic this year. Be sure to read the popup text as well, for the punchline.
Mass Transit Echoes
Yesterday, Renee and I took the bus (and the Max light rail) to Lloyd Center Mall, and back home. Why? Because she'll be turning 18 this coming summer, and doesn't yet have a driver's license. This was a dry run for what her life will be like when the mom-pop express closes its doors.
Many years ago, when we first came here and my workplace was in Beaverton, I used to commute by bus, and I told Renee that my solution to the monotony of riding the bus was to bring a really difficult book along (I distinctly remember struggling through this book, and this one -- I still have both of them!). Sinking into the books made it possible to wait at a bus stop in whatever weather and not fret as to whether the bus would show up on time or not.
And now, a slight diversion... A few years ago, I took Renee to Kumoricon, and we attended a concert by some knockoff Asian pop band. The music was loud, so much so that I really couldn't tell what they were playing. But I was amused when I discovered that the old tradition of holding a lighter aloft had been updated: now everyone was holding up cellphones with their backlights turned on. Très amusant.
Back to the present! So we are sitting at the bus stop at Martinazzi and Mohawk, and I'm reading the poster in the back of the shelter. It tells me what phone number to call, and what code to enter, to determine when my bus will next arrive at my stop. What a difference a decade makes! That really improves the mass transit experience for me. Kudos, Trimet!
Oh, and the trip was uneventful. Renee didn't really want to be there, but we both got there and back safely.
December 04, 2012
So the evening activities run on beyond the normal routine, and you don't have the energy to do your normal night time meditation. What to do? Slip on the wireless headphones, close your eyes, and listen to Baby's on Fire (the original, not Die Antwoord, ugh, Google!).
July 20, 2012
Why haven't I had these albums for years?
I'm way behind on recording what I've bought musically. So what else is new? So let us briefly visit what has been added to my pop culture archive.
My habit, when discovering a new artist, or revisiting one I've known but not 'owned', is to do a little research (in the last decade, "Google"), and settle on an album which is representative of the artist's ouvre. Typically, one album is enough. Sometimes it is a "best of" album, and sometimes, it is that snapshot in time, the crystalline essence of an artist's potential (cf. Harvest, Tapestry, etc.). Yes, I know those are both ancient. Sorry, so am I. [They date from my high school years or even before].
Despite the last two examples being from my childhood/teens, some of my favorite music dates from before I was born. Collectively, I absolutely love bebop and hard bop. One of the classics of the era is Mingus Ah Um by Charles Mingus. This is one of those albums which has very few filler pieces. I'm hard-pressed to name a piece off this album which is sub-standard.
Given that, I have to ask, "Why haven't I had The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady for all those decades? While there are only four compositions on this album, each is steeped in its era. I listen to this and I revisit every album, every film from the mid-sixties, when I was but a wee tot. All that pop culture was just background noise as I was growing up. But now, and yes, even for many years, it has been a vital part of my musical tapestry ('I see what you did there').
"Mingus Ah Um" is a great, perhaps magnificent album. But while "Black Saint" isn't quite the crystalization of concepts, it is still in my top 100 albums of all time. So to repeat the refrain, "why haven't I had this album for years?"
About the same time that I procured 'Saint', I also picked up a copy of Come Dance With Me, a 1959 Frank Sinatra album arranged and conducted by Billy May. I already had two best-of albums and Watertown. Some of them I've had for many years. But 'Come Dance with Me!' is undeniably catchy, upbeat and fun. It's purely Frank, in a positive mood. Once again, why had I not heard of this one, or gotten it, before?
I've picked up a number of other albums in the interrim since getting these, but none are so notable, so I think I'll leave it at that (I'm sure you're relieved to hear). Just check these two out on Spotify or your own favorite sampling site, and see if you like them as much as I do.
December 22, 2011
I realized I need to catch up on what I've acquired recently. No hotlinks, just Google if you care...
- Bright and Vivid - Kathryn Calder
- The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Sampler) - Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
- Another Green World - Brian Eno
- Before and After Science - Brian Eno
- Here Come the Warm Jets - Brian Eno
- Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) - Brian Eno
Those last four have been on my want list for years (used to own them in LP format in my college years). They are the four classic albums in the 'pop' series by Brian Eno, who has done a lot of cool music in many genres, including inventing a couple on his own. He has also produced albums for such 'formerly famous' groups as Roxy Music and Talking Heads.
The major emusic players all wanted $9.50 for each, and that seemed a little steep for albums from the 70's. But today I got email from Google that they were running a new music store, and when I checked, these were all available for $5 apiece. So I bought them all. Seems that capitalism works in my favor sometimes.
Assuming that Music for Airports is still $5 when I get my next paycheck, I'll grab that one too. That's not from his 'pop' series, but from his 'ambient music' series. I consider him one of the primary inventors of that genre.
While downloading these, I spent the evening browsing Spotify, and discovered that they had the collaboration between Brian Eno and David Byrne (Talking Heads) entitled "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts", which is an album of compositions mixed over samples from Southern Evangelical radio shows. It was one of my favorite albums of the period. Unfortunately, it is still 'expensive'. Guess I'll just have to wait for more 'capitalist' competition to bring the price down!
October 30, 2011
Art in the Burbs
Not this most recent weekend, but the previous Friday, we went to Art in the Burbs, which was a fundraiser for local schools. Area artists displayed their work at Alberta Rider Elementary school, and students had displays there alongside them. Our daughter Renee had five art pieces on the walls, and they are featured in this photoset, with the other art we saw there.
Renee needs more control over the display of her work, since two or three pieces were murky or off-color. Indeed, we were planning to buy one of her self-portraits, but she convinced us otherwise, because the primary colors were the result of the printer running out of a couple color cartridges during printing. Ugh!
We'll try to recover an original for that one, in which case, I'll post the revised image.
Okay, Lisa has already found the stash of images at Flickr, but I've been meaning to mention this for awhile. I've been working my way (glacially) through Make: Electronics by Charles Platt. On any given weekend, I may or may not have the time to run one of the experiments from the book, but when I do, I haul everything from the den into the dining room and wire up another experiment from the book.
It's pretty cool, and I've been snapping photos of some of the experiments and inlining comments on Flickr. I'll probably regret that, as Flickr will die an ignominious death one day, and all my careful comments will go down the memory hole with it. In any case, browse if you care.
October 13, 2011
RIP, Dennis Ritchie
September 18, 2011
New Everything (Renee)
I recently uploaded a bunch of photos Jean snapped of Renee to record her new (glasses|hairstyle|dress). I appended them to the existing Renee's New Glasses photoset, in case you're curious.
September 09, 2011
New Back Catalog Acquisitions
Amazon's September $5 sale includes two albums from my high school years, so I grabbed 'em:
Hunky Dory is of course due to my tracking down the song Kooks after it was played in the movie Hanna. I still think this album is one of those pivotal works that should appear on every top-X albums of the history of pop/rock.
Sheer Heart Attack is just my nod to Freddie's birthday, which was nicely acknowledged by a Google Doodle recently.
August 26, 2011
In Apple discontinues 99-cent TV rental program they explain the removal of rentals with the following quote:
“iTunes customers have shown they overwhelmingly prefer buying TV shows,” Apple said in a statement Friday.
That is, quite simply, a categorical crock. The truth is, I've been buying Dr. Who seasons for the last two seasons. But I've also been renting episodes of Leverage. Do I want to own it? No way. Thanks alot, Apple, and whatever network owns Leverage. You used to get a buck an episode from me. Now you get nothing.
August 22, 2011
Just once I'd like to ask a question that doesn't have a stupid answer!
The Mercury Men, a lovingly retro web-based sci-fi serial. Diggin' it.
August 15, 2011
"If the whole thing is a put-on, a bit of Vincent Gallo life-as-theater for the benefit of whoever happens to be sitting next to them, that's no excuse. It's being an asshole about being an asshole."
August 14, 2011
My workplace campus maintains a pretty nice water feature, and it is home to a variety of wildlife. We get lots of ducks and geese, and have a number of nutria waddling about. But over the last few years, we've become a summer home for a handsome Heron. I recently took to parking my car at the far end of the campus from my building, to force myself to walk a bit more at the end of the day. This has had the side benefit that I often see Mr. Heron.
I've begun snapping him when I can, first with the joke camera in my iPod Touch, then with my P&S, which I've started taking to work for just this purpose. He wasn't there this weekend, but I plan to try to grab him with my D70 and my 70-200mm lens some weekend, and I'll add any results to this photo set.
August 12, 2011
LXD Season 3!
Yay! The Extraordinary 7 kicks off the new season of LXD!