Thursday, September 30, 2004
Food of LoveOr more fitly titled 'Food of Creep'.
I have in the last 10 days managed to buy myself 'hearing unheard' (if that's the aural version of 'sight unseen') some of the most beautiful *ever* to join my eclectic collection.
- Sensus - songs by Portuguese Cristina Branco, whose divine voice is beyond praise or description, not to mention guitar playing of the most assured.
- Introducing Vakoka - music of Madagascar which seems to be a cross of primarily African and Malay-Indonesia played on instruments I've never heard. Mélange of Southeast Asia, Southern Africa, even the Manding countries of West Africa. I'd forgotten how those guys really *own* the electric bass. Hard not to prance around to with a beaming "all is well" smile.
- The new Charlie Haden offering, Land of the Sun.
Why the deuce did I do *that*? Absolutely no point, but there's the demon hooch for you (of which more in a later post).
The same deuce, I suspect, that had me burning and sending a copy of first the Haden and sending it off to C, then the next day burning another 2 discs for mamzel's delight and sending them off and then, the *next* day, on receipt of Vak and Cristine, sending them off in a third package.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Cursive'Cursive' just means 'joined-up'?
I have such terrible writing, as if something was loose 'twixt hand and brain.
I sometimes watch myself taking notes and marvel at the complete lack of connection between whatever signal is being sent to my pen hand. And both my girls have such clear firm hands.
Monday, September 27, 2004
Whistle down the windWhat better chance than joblessness to finally lick that 2-handed whistle?
To Be HeldFrom Canadian poet Alden Nowlan's "He Sits Down on the Floor of a School for the Retarded":
It's what we all want, in the end,
to be held, merely to be held,
to be kissed (not necessarily with the lips,
for even touching is a kind of kiss).
Yes, it's what we all want, in the end,
not to be worshipped, not to be admired,
not to be famous, not to be feared,
not even to be loved, but simply to be held.
Mark Chapman Parole HearingI love the thought of some over-wrought Lennon fan wreaking vengeance on Mark Chapman. the man who murdered John Lennon, could be released from jail next month in a move that has sparked fears of retribution from Beatles fans.
But you know? I'm not that confident any more in the power of the Net to deliver vigilante justice. Yonks back, I felt certain that killers Robert Thompson and Jon Venables would be traced in a trice ... but zilch.
Those are the two lads - just 10 back in Feb '93 - who abducted two-year-old James Bulger from the Strand shopping precinct in Bootle, Merseyside, tortured him and then battered him to death on a railway line.
Oodles of articles, of course, and a good reference page in the Grauniad, including the yawny subject of rehab, but no actual running of the villains down, which is surely the whole point of the much-vaunted Internet sleutherie?
How old would they be now? Perfect age - what? - to be on the run? Waking with a start at the 4AM brush of branch on window; checking reflections in shop windows; all that sort of thing.
I would assume they now have savvy trades and cast-iron histories, no foolish carelessness such as search engines tuned to pages like this. But surely someone has had half a suspicion??
Not much use, I know, but the least folks like I can do is at least keep the memory alive with ongoing updated entries and aides-memoire.
For me, this is the acid test of the WWW. I'll believe it's all it's cut out to be the day I read in some gutter tabloid that T and V have finally been run to earth by some alert webista.
Til then, keep the tale alive.
Lazy SundayDivinely laid-back morning, literally reclining in the bath with the Times and Charlie Haden's Land of the Sun up loud and on 'repeat'. Bought Friday night, it's not been off the stereo.
Superb piano by one Gonzalo Rubalcab. Meanwhile, Joe Lovano as creamily tenor saxy as ever, and Haden delivering his usual subtle bass guidance.
I defy anyone to listen to track 3's 'Solamente Una Vez' and not recall a first kiss, last dance, fireside cuddle, or just swaying in the arms of a belovèd.
After breakfast, goof around on such frivolous links as Opening Hooks and Clientcopia.
Doctorow on BushI worry the electorate will get it wrong again, not so much over Bushisms but Kerry's sheer lack of character in his campaigning.
Hoping every little bit helps, I link to articles like this by Ed Doctorow.
Sunday, September 26, 2004
Ali G - cruel, comic, hilariousWhat to say? I'd heard of Ali G but never seen him and now I have and he's excruciatingly funny and cruel and I had to keep turning off the DVD to save the earnest pols and distinguished types that Sacha Cohen gulls to completely.
Cast of dupes includes Newt Gingrich, Buzz Aldrin (poor dude, totally taken in), Donald Trump (rah The Donald, gave him short shrift), and that bearded Actors Studio guy who comes off worst.
Ali asks excEEDINGLY stupid questions, to which they attempt intelligent answers. The humor comes from the disconnect between the two, which is to say: 60 Minutes meets In Living Color.
Borat, a Kazakhstan TV reporter with a shaky command of English, has a show-within-a-show called "Borat's Guide to America" and he travels the "US and A" interviewing regular folks, such as matchmakers and rodeo riders.
Bruno, brilliant creation - a sexually ambiguous fashion reporter with "Funkyzeit Mit Bruno."
Watcho out for more from this genius mimic and wit.
Friday, September 24, 2004
How to beat O'ReillyA fairer and more even-handed treatment than the oafish O'Reilly himself would have doled out.
Only pity: no analysis of Jon Stewart's hilarious and nimble trouncing.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
SIFOSI need to open a SIFOS page - "Slap in the Face of Sanity" - where I can cool contempt by busying myself entering examples of farcical security excesses.
- Cat Stevens is an honorable opener with his diverted transatlantic flight in the belief that he posed a threat to national security.
Prayers for BigleyGod knows how this will end - badly, I suspect.
I even feel sorry for Blair, agonising under a world spotlight.
One can't - can one? - give in to the thugs? Or they'll simply pluck people daily from the street until they've got their way.
But what a fate and what agony knowing it's coming.
What the cool kids are watching these daysSome savvy guy named Paul keeps me clued with this "revoicing (à la "What's Up Tiger Lily?") of some kiddie PSAs that were popular during the 80s".
What pals are for.
Emotion and HealthAlas, it/they do count ... ignore at our peril.
Ode to BlogsThe Rather brouhaha has signalled a coming of age in the recognition of blogs. God knows how powerful they will become now.
Some eye-catchers of late:
- That lovely Wonkette and her service to the nation in running the hilarious exchange between Jon Stewart and that almost unbelievably oafish clown, Bill O'Reilly
- Andy Sullivan and his bloggers' creed
- Good Grauniad, of course
- And our very own local Seattle Times, waking up to the un-punny fact that web logs have caught fire
- Finally, the Weekly Standard
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
First, we heard of two heroic firemen who'd saved a colleague (cue tears #1), then we saw Travolta flying the two dudes up in his own 747 (dab-hand pilot, it seems, with airport as a house). #2 as the firemen were cheered and then out came their recovering burnt buddy to hug them and present them with Honor Medals. Boo hoo gasp sob - Kleenex futures soar.
Then we saluted some brave young lad with a killing dystrophy who wrote poems that wowed the world and whose funeral was attended by ex-prezzies and a coupla 1,000 firemen etc.
We also saw his mother who came on in some wheel chair as if her body, too, was fragile as heck. It felt churlish to wonder why she'd produce a kid in such a dodgy state, but that way lies being hacked to death by 1,000 Winfrey fans.
Pat-down screw up down patIrritation and contempt another notch up for the total ballsup being made on this security farce.
I pray I don't take a flight any time soon: I'm bound to come out with some sneering remark that'll have me hauled into a backroom and strip searched and all that goes with it - ending with statutory missing of plane, of course.
The local paper seems to agree, as in this report.
My best chance is to think of it as snaring one of those decapitators, and just hope the image of (literally) heads rolling and lopping among our home security red tapesters will distract me long enough from the sheer asinine nature of it all to get thru customs safely.
Cat Stevens: and now this latest craziness over Yusuf Islam. I'm thinking that the next time I fly, it might almost be an honor to be carted off by the current brigade of buffoons. Famous last words, I suspect.
Monday, September 20, 2004
Googly - the wrong 'unOnly a journo in a cricketing country would tap the cricketing bowling term 'googly' for a story on Amazon licking Google.
Bravo the Times of India
I have a personal interest and pride in googlies, ever since it was discovered at school that I unknowingly deliver perfect examples.
I'm in fact a leg-break spin bowler, incapable of delivering anything without a spin. Leg breaks bounce inward on the batsman, often catching them off guard, often causing them to miss the ball as it turns between bat and body and - if pitched correctly - whipping off the bales. Or it snicks the bat and into the wicket keeper's gloves.
Googlies *look* like leg breaks but in fact emerge *over* the bowler's hand as off-breaks, bouncing away from the batsman.
Hear the experts:
A googly, or a "wrong'un", is a delivery which looks like a normal leg spinner but actually turns towards the batsmen, like an off break, rather than away from the bat.Damn that makes it sound compliqué. As I say, I deliver those without thinking and was a bit of a star during the summer terms.
Unlike a normal leg break, a googly is delivered out of the back of the hand, with your wrist 180 degrees to the ground.
It's a very difficult skill to learn, so you'll need plenty of practice in your back garden or in the nets.
Hold the ball as if you're about to bowl a normal leg break.
The top joints of the index and middle fingers should be across the seam, with the ball resting between a bent third finger and the thumb.
At the point of release, the palm of your hand should be open upwards, towards the sky, with the back of your hand facing the batsman.
Your wrist should be 180 degrees to the ground, while the seam of the ball should point towards fine leg.
Again, it should be your third finger which does most of the work, turning the ball anti-clockwise on release.
You'll probably find it goes horribly wrong the first few times you give the googly a try, but don't give up.
As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. Use a tennis ball to help improve the flexibility of your wrist.
Those days of yore ... before:Excellent piece in 9/19 Sunday New York Times by one Roger Cohen - 'resonated', as the Americans put it.
A streaming catalogue of consciously well chosen beefs of better times gone by, many of which cry out for my kind of treatment for a song. My faves:
- seat belts beeped
- speed cameras and email and overheard cell phone convos
- airports became shopping malls
- break-out sessions and thinking out of the box
- the war on terror
- nurturing replaced good ol' punishment
- gentrification of the Bastille and Brixton
- stock options and stock answers
- relentless pursuit of cool
- jimi died, and janis and jim and jerry and kurt
- 'best of' albums and marketing of tenors
- New Labor
- personal trainers and Pilates and harry Potter
- teenagers said 'totally' and 'like'
- I vowed never to become a curmudgeon waxing lyrical about the past
- spies really did come in from the cold
- we had ideological battles and bruising debates
- every 2nd person wasn't a hero and every 3rd person not a victim and every 4th word wasn't 'stress'
- a thai meal seemed exotic
- snow settled for weeks in London
- things were not 'weird' but 'strange'
- we had outings and treats and loveless marriages that lasted
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
HemBlogThere's me thinking I'm so smart and wired to all things Hong Kong, and then along comes a not overly informative or witty Slate piece, but it does drop the bloggy name of Hemlock who in turn lists a couple of links that read like my kind of sulky fun.
"Ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat ... scathing, damning, hurtful, conceited, judgemental, hypocritical, hastily conceived and badly thought-out ramblings purporting to evidence the ineptness of mankind as it exists in Hong Kong."
And it has a list of other local HKG blogs - my cup runneth over.
Monday, September 13, 2004
Paul knows the PointI have a bunch of updates but conscience prevents me posting them 'til I've caught up with my jobseeking.
But this poem by Paul from back in May just leaped out at me. I've read in several times and it works. If only I could use this at the Poulsbohemian poetry soirées.
I Know the Point
it was late 1994
leaving for good
east on Highway 70
when the cop
flipped a bitch
and pulled me over
after I rolled down my window
we stared at each other
both in shades
"take it slow"
"that's how we do it here"
without another word
he got back into his car
lights still flashing
and drove off
I had fought the urge
"you do strike me as a bit slow"
so I didn't get a ticket
so I didn't have to come back for traffic court
and I never visited the kids at the newspaper
or hung out on campus after the hearing
so we didn't meet in the bookstore
and have that conversation
that lead to the movie
and the phone number exchange
and you never went to the newspaper archive
to look up all of my old comics
and we never talked for hours
and I never decided
to come back in the fall
so you never asked me to go
to the Heidelberg
and you never said
"this is where you're supposed to kiss me"
and I never called you
my first girlfriend
and we never went to my parents house
where you had that awful fight
with my brother
and the car crash still happened
on the way back
but you were never in the car
so your head
never broke the passenger window
and I never had to say goodbye
with all those useless tubes between us
and I still went through the depression
and ran away to the Air Force
but no one understood why
and I still went to Fairchild
but I never
opened the door
to that shed
that smelled so bad
in the weapons storage area
to get the chance
to sit in that car once more
in late 1994
leaving for good
Friday, September 10, 2004
Rebecca Marie Phillips
Have just been told the name of my favorite girl in the video store *and* the attractive receptionist at the Mexican fooderie in the Pavilion *and* the cheerful barista opposite the ticket booth who talked so enthusiastically of the yellow Lamborghini she'll one day cruise in: Rebecca Phillips.
Feel absolutely wretched and wordless and can only in homage reproduce the report from the local paper.
Age 19, of Bainbridge Island, died Aug. 20 in an automobile accident.
Born June 17, 1985, in Malone, N.Y., to Robert and Sheila Phillips.
“The typical, All-American girl,” from climbing trees and fishing to make-up and fashion. In her early years, she enjoyed music and playing baseball and soccer. As she grew older, she developed interests in dance, writing, reading, snowboarding, poetry, skiing, hockey and cooking.
She danced with the Swinging Hepcats and performed with that troupe during a trip to Nicaragua several years ago.
She was working on her degree in cosmetology, had attended West Sound Academy and planned to continue her education at Olympic College this fall.
She is survived by her parents; her brothers Keith, Eryn and Israel, and sister Roxanne. Services were Aug. 23.
I wish I'd known. I'd most certainly have been there.
1,000 killedNifty poems remembered by Chris Hitchens
I read of a thousand killed.
And am glad because the scrounging imperial paw
Was there so bitten:
As a man at elections is thrilled
When the results pour in, and the North goes with him
And the West breaks in the thaw.
(That fighting was a long way off.)
Forgetting therefore an election
Being fought with votes and lies and catch-cries
And orator's frowns and flowers and posters' noise
Is paid for with cheques and toys:
Wars the most glorious
Victory-winged and steeple-uproarious
... With the lives, burned-off,
Of young men and boys.
In my cart
- To counter-act the forthcoming 9/11 deluge, the fashionable Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers
- Introducing Vakoka
- Cristina Branco's Sensus
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
The Donald is back, with a new bunch of go-getting "A"-type hearties and - thank goodness - the utterly cool and tantalising Carolyn Kepcher.
DVD catch-upNice thing about joblessness is the clear conscience with which one can shamble from bed at 4am to catch up on DVDs.
Revisited Four Weddings and found it watchable as ever:
- Simon Callow superb as hearty boyfriend of the dapper John Hannah
- Hannah's funeral reading of the Auden poem a veritable coup de théatre. (I'm told it caused a run on old Cake Face's work)
- Kristin Scott Thomas defining arch sophistication while still able to emote in the scene when she fesses up to love for the feckless Hugh Grant (whose unruly hair is a work of art throughout)
- And something I couldn't have spotted before - how astonishingly like CB's own accent and intonation is Andie MacDowell's murmured speech throughout.
- The movie ends with that Wet Wet Wet song, so I shall probably end up buying the sound track, too.
- Much mirth at the video store when I pointed out the selling copy on the back of the DVD case:
"Welcome to the future of entertainment - the Digital Video Disc. This unique format puts more information and enterainemtn on a single disc than ever bofore. So there are more ways than ever for you to experience and enjoy great films, etc etc."
Musical kinListening to the great Hank Williams t'other night and dang the first bars of Move It on Over sound identical to how the quiffed Bill Haley starts 'Rock Around the Clock'.
I have a bugbear about similarities: George Harrison's 'My Sweet Lord' and its out-n-out filch from 'So Fine', and of course that old phoney Jimmy Page nicking Bert Jansch's arrangement of 'Blackwaterside'.
Clubbo SpoofoIf i wasnt so indolent and ever so slightly technically challenged on the compliqué website side, *this* is what some eagle-eyed reporter should be writing about me, dammit, and my rapier-witty pseudo busking site.
So ... what to do about it?
Idling car slips into gear, spilling young girl occupants, thereupon running over both children and, of course, killing them.
You couldn't put that in Stephen King's rubbish and get away with it - well, perhaps you could. The producers of Final Destination would boot you from the set.
At least Le Bon Dieu seems to like dogs.
The Downside of Multi-taskingNeed I say more? All here ...
From A Father’s Legacy to his Daughters, by John Gregory, a popular conduct book of 1774.
Saturday, September 04, 2004
BumbershootThis Friday and over the Labor Day weekend.
Not usually my scene - wandering aimlessly around Seattle Center, snarling at the buskers and admiring the whirling dervish hippies - but this year I have it sussed.
I am going to hear
- Laura Veirs, Sat noon
- Liz Phair, Sun, 3pm (and whose page takes yonks to open but is quite fun)
- Vienna Teng, 4pm
- and The Bad Plus, 8pm (one of the joys of footloose unemployment)
THE VOTEApart from the urgency that everyone vote and get this appalling régime out, I haven't much opinion one way or the other on what's going on. Both sides seem equally full of bluster and equally inept with any sort of language. A few things that caught my eye:
- Unmitigated Gall
- The Protesters' Stories
- Texting @ the RNC knees-up
- Thank goodness for the compass of The Stranger's endorsements
- And don't forget the crescendo of inevitable outpourings of strangled monosyllables in next week's mega blubfest for that 9/11 brouhaha.
Thursday, September 02, 2004
ReadingSuch is my excitement at this new Suggested Reading site (blog passim), that I am already collecting tips and bribes from bookish contacts for goodies to come. Look out, they beseech, for (inter alii):
- Art Plotnik's "Rising to the Locustion: On Language & Style for Up-&-Coming Writers". Plotnik, whose Elements of Editing shifted a nifty 250,000, is now offering style pointers that go beyond Strunk and White complete with witty advice and concise examples.
- On the pop culture side - foreword by Kate Hudson? - Pamela Des Barres has 'Let's Spend the Night Together' coming from Chicago Review Press. She's the *real* Penny Lane on whose Hudson's 'Almost Famous' rôle was based, and it's her latest about women who became much more than just groupies for some biggie chartbusters. Riding on its back (er - so to speak) will be reissue of her 80s must-read, I'm With the Band.
Black is BlackSomewhere back in this blog are my admiring comments in defence of the colorful Lord Black and his alluring wife.
It seems my legendary powers of character assessment may have been a teensy peu askew here, if a certain documentary is to be heeded.
Also, if the reptiles are to be believed, none other than Richard Perle turns out to have insinuated a digit in the pie - always found him rather a shifty-looking cove, so am hardly surprised.
In the end, I shall take comfort from the world's wittiest writer and allow Craig Brown the last say.
GOP-smackedblah blah ... drone drone ... sound n fury ... chest-beating ... jaw-juttin' ...
To accentuate the horror, quite by chance I'm reading "1984" which only places the current New York blusterings in an even starker (if immensely more articulate) light.
All I can think of at the end of the day is how very appropriate of Carl Jr. to resort to 'fisting' to flog his jumbo burgers.
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Tolo RolloverOn return trips to Silverdale, I like to take the Day Road turn off the 305 for a leisurely drive thru dappled side roads back home.
I've a further detour to take in Tolo so I can pass the sad scene of the accident, with its flowers and photos and memorials and, most poignant of all, an arrowed sign noting simply 'Sarah'.
Anna and I took that detour last weekend and I pulled over so we could actually stand over the spot and absorb the implications.
"That must be where she's buried," said Anna, but I suggested too soon and hardly appropriate. More likely where the poor thing was actually found.
It's not a route I knew, but each time I drive those swooping hillocks - to be respected even at a cautious 35mph - I think of those children bombing along that early morning - 80mph? dear Lord - and their shrieks of enjoyment at each 'roofing', and that appalling moment when everything lost control and went topsy-turvy.
I'd cut out the relevant coverage in the local paper for Anna to read some time, but she opened it there and then and read it in silence.
Driving back today, I was struck by how *every* car slowed and how many stopped, parent and child walking back to stand in silence.
Today, I too stopped and joined a father and 2 girls. As I turned to walk away, I looked at the father and his eyes were brimmed with tears which immediately set me off. Wordlessly, we advanced on each other and hugged, much to the baffled stares of what I assume were his daughters.
If testing out a book recommendation site sounds interesting, read on. If not ... what the deuce are you tuned in here for?
Pass the link along to one of yr litterati pals.
The User registration
Focus is book recommendations and discussion/comments.PS: Pester him day or night: these new fathers don't actually sleep and they need fodder for their insomnia in between feedings.
There is a meritocratic user level system for contribution (energetic users get more benefits and their votes count more).
Perk will be for users who are also amazon.com Associates.
Buy/wishlist buttons are on the individual suggested reading pages.
They get tagged with users' Associate tags (and 10% to the site, ie The Man).
Nota bene, as of writing, this part isn't yet functional yet (as might be a few things, but the main guts are running right, he thinks).
Send feedback - not so much proofreading, because I've bombarded him with finicky typo-rama, but techie link-bust stuff will help - and pass along if you know a bibliophile or Associate who might be interested.