Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Irving Berlin's Best Song

Here's a performance of one of the songs featured in the version of Much Ado About Nothing I saw tonight (see previous post). It's from the great Astaire & Rogers film Top Hat, which actually has a number of plot points in common with the Shakespeare comedy (antagonism between the eventual lovers, mistaken identities, and probably some others that I could name if I spent a little more time thinking about it). I really think this is the best song Irving Berlin ever wrote, though I doubt I've heard them all (I wonder if anyone has?). The dancing is pretty good too...

Theater Under the Stars

Tonight I went with Sally, Marenka, Natalie and Ben to Delaware Park for Shakespeare in the Park (the longest running free version of that institution in the country, as we were informed in the introduction). The play performed was Much Ado About Nothing, and though it was a chilly night, the cast managed to hold the attention of a substantial crowd for well over two hours. It certainly helped that they had some great material to work with, of course.

Director Saul Elkin (who I took Intro to Theater from some thirty years ago as an undergraduate at the University of Buffalo) added a bit of a twist: a number of Tin Pan Alley standards from the thirties and forties (and one rock classic) were mixed into the proceedings (costuming also reflected that era), mostly performed by a four person chorus (seen above) as transitions between scenes. I have to admit, I was a little dubious about whether they could pull that off, but I needn't have worried as the use of the songs was pretty seamlessly integrated into the proceedings (including a few solo turns by the main actors).

Everyone in the cast did a great job, but I have to give special kudos to Norm Sham as Dogberry the Constable (seen above), who pretty much steals the show in the second act with a great comic performance, highlighted by a rendition of Otis Redding's "Respect" that managed to effectively mix the words of the Bard with those of Rodney Dangerfield (amongst others). As the evening grew chillier, he really warmed up the audience with his performance.

Every year I intend to go to see one of these performances, but I generally let it slide. I'm really glad I didn't this year, and now look forward to catching the next performance as well (they are doing an all-female version of MacBeth starting in a couple of weeks).

A Quote for Tuesday

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) was a well-known man about town in his day (the town being London); later, he wrote one of the first, if not the first, dictionaries of the English language. Here's something he said that was no doubt recorded by his biographer Thomas Boswell:

"A wise man will make haste to forgive, because
he knows the true value of time, and will not suffer
it to pass away in unnecessary pain."

Monday, June 28, 2010

Classic Gordon Lightfoot

I really like this song, one of the best of that whole singer-songwriter generation of the early seventies (though this actually came out in 1968). My impression is that Gordon Lightfoot is mostly forgotten today (or anyway not given much critical attention), and I'd like to do a bit to rectify that a bit. I do wish the video part of this clip was as interesting as the music, but it really doesn't need to be to sell the song:

The Last Book I Read

I'm r4eally torn about this book, Lost to the West by Lars Brownworth. On the one hand I picked it up because I know little about the Byzantine Empire that kept the glory of Rome alive for centuries after the collapse of its western counterpart, and found out a fair amount of information. On the other hand, I don't feel like I really know much of anything beyond the fact that there were a bunch of good emperors, and a bunch of bad; a number of effective generals beloved by their troops, and some who were abject failures despised by everyone. Brownworth's style of history is a throwback to the old school, where the only people who mattered were those who wore crowns or led armies, and frankly, that's ultimately a very superficial style of history. It doesn't help that he tends to describe them in terms that signal his admiration for the great ones and disdain for those who fell short of immortal status. There's no complexity to this story, which makes it difficult to really understand why some of these leaders were successful and others were not-- it is hardly sufficient to suggest it was all a matter of their individual fortitude and cunning, but that is the impression with which Brownworth leaves the reader. There is minimal attention to those elements of the society and culture (even economics) that no doubt contributed mightily to the fortunes of those leaders, nor any sense of the contributions made by cities in the empire aside from Constantinople. Passing references to, for example, Philadelphia and Antioch suggest they played a much more significant role than is described here. But Brownworth is so wrapped up in his "great man" explanation for everything that transpires that he tacitly renders everything else inconsequential, which is unfortunate. He's a mostly engaging writer, but I wish he had looked beyond the throne, even just to acknowledge if not explain how other factors shaped the great empire.

Battle of the Bands, Teddy Boy Bracket

Here is the third bracket in our upcoming Battle of the Bands on Dr. John's Record Shelf. It will be our goal, after months of competition, to crown the best British (or Commonwealth) band of the period 1960 to 1954. Previously, I posted the Pop and Mod Brackets. The number in parentheses after each band name is their seeding, and they are laid out so that in Round 2, the winner of the first pair will meet the winner of the second; the third will play the fourth; etc. I welcome comments, though I'm not very likely to change anything at this point. Remember, it may not pay for a group to go with its best-known or strongest cut in round one, since a new song will be selected for each round they move on to:

"Jumpin' Jack Flash," Rolling Stones (1) vs.
"Natural Born Bugie," Humble Pie (16)

All the Way to Memphis," Mott the Hoople (8) vs.
"Man of the World," Fleetwood Mac (9) [remember this is the pre-Buckingham-Nicks version of the group]

"Shapes of Things," Yardbirds (5) vs.
"All Right Now," Free (12)

"Sha La La," Manfred Mann (4) vs.
"I'd Love to Change the World," Ten Years After (13)

"Iron Man," Black Sabbath (6) vs.
"Midnight to Six Man," Pretty Things (11)

"We Gotta Get Outta This Place," Animals (3) vs.
"Hold Your Head Up," Argent (14)

"Here Comes the Night," Them (7) vs.
"You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet," Bachman-Turner Overdrive

"Strange Brew," Cream (2) vs.
"Reflections of My Life," Marmalade (15)

The tournament will be heard on KDWG Radio, 90.9 fm in SW Montana Sunday Evenings starting this Fall (should you be within our signal's reach).

Today's Quotation

I would not have expected a sentiment like this from noted writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), but apparently he said it (or wrote it, which amounts to the same thing):

"Thinking is the crest of deep physical
turbulence rushing from a point of
original unity at the beginning of
the universe. It is a product of the
same motility and physical processes
that created galaxies. When one
thinks, one is present at the first
instant of time."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Classic Tune

I never knew there was a vocal version of this cool Bobby Timmons song until I stumbled on this video by the great Karrin Allyson, who I was lucky enough to see live a couple years ago. If you like scattin', there's some really good stuff in this clip:

A Sunday Quote

Today we have a line from Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, uttered by a character named Prince Andrew:

"Love is life. All, everything that I understand,
I understand only because I love. Everything is,
everything exists, only because I love. Everything
is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die
means that I, a particle of love, shall return
to the general and eternal source."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Classic Summer Song

Mungo Jerry is one of those acts now referred to as a one-hit wonder. But what a great, great hit it was: the perfect song for the season (and while you're watching, you can wonder why muttonchops ever went out of style)...

Soup Diary 100626

I was trying to think how many different dishes I've ever had that included pumpkins among the ingredients. All I could come up with was pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread. I don't think pumpkin seeds really count in this regard. But as of yesterday I can add Pumpkin Bisque to the list, as I enjoyed a bowl of that concoction at Fables Cafe. It tasted pretty much like what you might expect-- a somewhat runnier version of the filling of a pumpkin pie, though with a little rice and green onion added to the mix. It was more interesting than good, at least to my palette, and I think the odds of my ordering it again, should the opportunity arise, are slim. But I'm glad I tried it once, if only to add it to the aforementioned short list. In fact, now I'm wondering if there even are any other culinary uses for pumpkins-- if not, I guess that explains why so many are available for jack-o-lanterns come Halloween.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

I'm posting this episode of Crusader Rabbit as a historical artifact, as I don't actually recall watching it as a kid (on Saturday or any other day for that matter). But apparently it was one of, if not the, first cartoons produced specifically for television in the late 1940s. You can tell that there wasn't much invested in the extremely rudimentary animation, but it definitely has some charm:

Words of Wisdom

Here's a good line from the Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC-43 BC):

"We should not be so taken up in the search
for truth, as to neglect the needful duties of
active life; for it is only action that gives a
true value and commendation to virtue."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Classic Jazz

Back when I was doing research on my dissertation (which was on the music industry in the forties and fifties), I spent a lot of time listening to music that was previously unfamiliar to me on the turntables at the Music Library of the University of Buffalo, which has an incredible jazz collection. This is one of the songs I first heard there, and I've liked it ever since. It's by the Cannonball Adderley Sextet, featuring the song's composer Nat Adderley (Cannonball's brother) on trumpet:

Friday Family Blogging Quiz

Easy question this week: who was Thomas looking at in the uncropped version of this photo? Put your guesses in the comments section.

I'm doing a second consecutive Thomas-based quiz, because last week's query solicited a disappointingly low turnout of participants. So I'm declaring a tie between Lil Sis and Mom, and hoping a few more of you out there will take a shot at this week's puzzler. Get your guesses in early and often!

Three Photos

This evening I went back up to Niagara Falls (American side this time) along with the Rosieks to take Andromeda for a walk and shoot a few pictures. These three were taken near the Three Sisters Islands in the rapids overlooking the Horseshoe Falls.

I'm really starting to get the hang of taking photos at dusk/night by leaving the shutter open a long time. In the shot above, I over compensated on aperture setting so that it actually looks like a daylight shot (that's Ben getting a little too close to the rushing water for comfort).

Since the evening was virtually windless, I was able to capture fairly sharp images of the bushes on the shore, while the rapids themselves appear as a wonderful blur. I think I had the shutter open a full two seconds on this one. More experiments to come (I just ordered a special filter to allow me to shoot long exposures in the daytime).

The Last Concert I Saw

Last night I headed over to Canada with my friend Don to see Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band kick off their latest tour at the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls. Don's mother-in-law is a regular visitor to the Casino and got comped, so not only did we see a pretty good show, but it was free! Of course everyone knows who Ringo is, and though he's approaching 70 years of age, he's still a sprightly lad who knows how to put on a good show. He surrounds himself with other famous or semi-famous rockers of the past in the All-Starr Band, and they run through a bunch of Beatles songs (limited to those originally sung by Ringo, like "Boys," "With a Little Help From My Friends," "Yellow Submarine," etc.), Ringo solo hits ("It Don't Come Easy," "Photograph") and a couple of numbers associated with the various band members pre-All-Starr careers.

This year's team consists of Edgar Winter (who gave us "Free Ride" and "Frankenstein" as his spotlight numbers), Rick Derringer ("Hang on Sloopy" from his days with the McCoys and "Rock and Roll Hoochie Coo"), Gary Wright ("Dream Weaver"), Wally Palmar out of The Romantics ("Talking in My Sleep," "What I Like About You") and some guy from Mr. Mister ("Kyrie"). The show was like listening to almost any classic rock radio station in the country on a particularly pop oriented afternoon. The musicianship was stellar, Ringo was an amiable MC, and I suspect a good time was had by all. It's the kind of show that may not be exactly awesome, but it was fun; and it's pretty cool to be able to say afterwards that you were in the same room with a Beatle (though as these surreptitiously shot photos suggest, we weren't exactly in close proximity). So all-in-all, I had a great time.

More Friday Family Blogging

I think Natalie is still dreaming of being a ballet star, though she may need to find a more nimble dancing partner than the Cookie Monster. By the way anyone want to guess who snapped this pic? It wasn't me (that's my hand in the lower left though).

Friday Family Blogging

Helen (brown eyes) and Emma (blue)-- I can't remember if they were hugging or wrestling.

Friday Philosophy

Try to get your mind around this one-- it comes from st. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), a pretty influential person in the early centuries of Christianity:

"What then is time? If no one asks
me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain
it to him who asks, I do not know."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Great Ringo Song

The reason I was at the Fallsview Casino tonight (see previous post) was to see Ringo Starr and the All-Starr Band (more on the concert tomorrow). Here's one of the songs they did (though this is a different band than the one on stage this evening), one of my favorite solo Beatles numbers:

Soup Diary 100624

I'm not really a big fan of buffets. I generally think that the quality of food is inferior when it's been sitting in a steam table for awhile, rather than being prepared somewhat fresh when I place my order. Of course, the upside is that you can eat a lot more, and a lot more different things at a buffet, which is sometimes appealing. These comments apply to soup because I've recently eaten a couple times at the Fallsview Casino Buffet in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and they offer at least a couple of varieties each day. On my visits I've tried the Cream of Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper, and Scottish Broth (and skipped the Lentil and Strawberry, though in the latter case, this was an oversight as I didn't spot it until I was stuffed). The Cream of Mushroom was the best of the lot (somewhat surprising if you saw my comments on mushroom soup earlier this week), in fact rather tasty. The Roasted Red Pepper was not good, way too salty, and the Scottish Broth tasted like canned soup. So the batting average was .333, not too bad in baseball but pretty mediocre where food is concerned. If you should find yourself at the Fallsview then, my advice would be to skip the soup and put a few more of the really, really good all-beef meatballs on your plate.

Thursday's Quotation

I'm not entirely sure I agree with this thought expressed by noted poet T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), but I think it's worth considering:

"All significant truths are private truths. As they
become public they cease to become truths; they
become facts, or at best, part of the public
character; or at worst, catchwords."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Classic Marvin Gaye

This is one of my top five all-time Motown songs, at least this week (there's a lot to choose from!). Marvin Gaye was definitely one of the greatest soul vocalists of the sixties and seventies, right up there with Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, and Otis Redding. I can listen to this one over and over...

The Last Book I Read

Last summer I read a couple of Roberto Bolano's short novels (By Night in Chile and Nazi Literature in the Americas) and really liked them a lot, which, if anything, is an understatement. Recently I finished a third, Amulet, the story of the self-professed "mother of Mexican poetry" who finds herself hiding out in a university lavatory as police shut down the University in Mexico City in 1968 in response to student unrest. While hiding out, she recounts her life past, present, and future, focusing on the relationships she cherishes with the so-called young poets representing several latin American nations. Like the other Bolano books I've read, this one is, among other things, an obvious celebration of the power (or at least the potential power) of poetry and what seems the inevitable failure of mere humans-- the poets themselves confronting political and personal challenges-- to live up to the standards of integrity and truth that their work tends to symbolize. While each of the Bolano books I've read contains elements of abstraction, and literary and historical references that are fuzzy to me, this one was a bit harder than either By Night or Nazi Literature to always make sense of, though it was a thrilling ride nonetheless. Bolano is an amazing stylist, and almost any given paragraph in the book reflects his own poetic way with words, and an uncanny knack for expressing what might be described as the emotional and moral ache behind the creation (or even appreciation) of great art. It's incredible to think that this comes across so strongly in translation, and I can only wonder what it would be like to be able to access these works in their original language of Spanish. It's been a long time since I felt so intellectually stimulated by a novelist, and I'm looking forward to enjoying the rest of Bolano's work in the months to come.

Battle of the Bands, Mod Bracket

Here's the second set of firt round matchups in our forthcoming Battle of the Bands to determine the best British (and Commonwealth) rock group from 1960 to 1974, playing out on my radio show starting this fall. I call this Bracket "The Mods" but don't read too much into that. Seedings appear after each band name, and these are arranged so that the winner of the first pair will meet the winner of the second; the winner of the third will meet the winner of the fourth; etc.

"I Can See for Miles," The Who (1) vs.
"Cymbaline," Hawkwind (16)

"Conquistador," Procol Harum (8) vs.
"Little Willy," Sweet (9)

"Ride My see Saw," Moody Blues (5) vs.
"Where Is the Dream Of Your Youth," The Strawbs (12)

"Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress," The Hollies (4) [Maybe riding the CCR bandwagon?] vs.
"Here Comes My Baby," The Tremeloes

""Bang a Gong," T. Rex (6) vs.
"Roundabout," Yes (11)

"No Time," The Guess Who (3) vs.
"The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway," Genesis (14)

"Woman From Tokyo," Deep Purple (7) vs.
"Cum On Feel the Noize," Slade (10)

"Money," Pink Floyd (2) vs.
"Circles," Les Fleur de Lys (15) [British, despite the name]

I'll have the remaining two brackets posted over the next few days, and you can see the matchups in the Pop Bracket here. Feel free to comment.

A Wednesday Quote

Samuel Clemons, also known as Mark Twain (1835-1910), was famous for being funny. This line isn't funny, but I think it's worth repeating anyway:

"Keep away from people who try to belittle
your ambitions. Small people always do
that, but the really great make you feel
that you, too, can become great."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New Teenage Fanclub

I've been enjoying the new album by Teenage Fanclub, called Shadows, in my car for the past week or so. This is the song that has become embedded in my brain as a result:

Four Photos

Here ar a few shots from my wanderings around downtown Buffalo, NY. Above are some flowers in McKinley Square, with the base of the McKinley Monument and City in the background.

This is the lobby of the Market Arcade (home of the CEPA Photography Gallery among other things), a very cool building from the 1890s that is something of a prototype for modern malls, though on a much smaller scale.

The Electric Tower is one of the distinctive buildings in downtown Buffalo, site of the annual local New Year's Ball Drop. Someone told me that it was the last place in the city to employ full-time elevator operators to take you to the upper floors, but that was a few years ago, and I kind of doubt it's still true. This was taken from the observation deck atop City Hall.

One of my favorite places to take pictures is the Erie Basin Marina, and above you see the lighthouse across the channel from where the boats are docked.

The Last Movie I Saw

I understand that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (directed by Niels Arden Oplev) is some sort of international phenomenon in its literary incarnation, though I hadn't heard of it when I went to see the movie made from the novel (apparently only the first such movie, as Hollywood is set to remake this Swedish version). I found the film very entertaining, but flawed in that it seemed to try overly hard to cram in more from the book than necessary, or at least that was my impression not having read the book. I know a lot of people complain that movies made from popular books never match their source, but I don't agree-- sometimes the movie is as good or better (two examples: The Big Sleep and High Fidelity). The two media offer different strengths and attributes for telling a story and there's no reason why they have to match up exactly. In this case, while the movie is generally well-done, there are a few segments that seem to drag in relation to the main plot. Yes, those scenes provide some interesting exposition or character development, but they ultimately slow down the momentum of the mystery at the center of the story. I don't mean to complain too much, since, as I said, it was pretty entertaining-- but I also wonder if I'm willing to give it a little more respect since it's in a foreign language and played at the local art house theater. Just thinking of that possibility makes me realize it was hardly a masterpiece, but the summer offerings so far have been so lean in quality that this one definitely stands above the crowd.

Quote of the Day

This one comes from Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), possibly the most famous clergyman in America in the mid-nineteenth century, and only one of several prominent Beechers during that period (Harriet Beecher Stowe was his sister). I think he's right on with this statement:

"It is not work that kills men; it is worry. Work is
healthy; you can hardly put more upon a man than
he can bear. Worry is the rust upon the blade. It is
not the revolution which destroys the machinery
but the friction. Fear secretes acids; but love and
trust are sweet juices."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cool Song

I always liked this song off the Afghan Whigs album Gentlemen from about fifteen or so years ago. It features Marcy Mays out of Scrawl as a guest vocalist:

Battle of the Bands Matchups, Pop Bracket

The Searchers

When we set out to determine the greatest British Rock and Roll Band between 1960 and 1974 (I changed the dates slightly to more accurately reflect the field), these are the songs and matchups that will comprise Round One in our so-called Pop Bracket. Seedings appear in parentheses, and these are arranged in the actual brackets, so that the winner of the first pair will play the winner of the second pair; the third plays the fourth; etc.:

"Get Back,"The Beatles (1) vs.
"Hold Tight," Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich (16)

"Virginia Plan," Roxy Music (8) vs.
"Gimme Some Lovin'," Spencer Davis Group (9)

"When You Walk Into the Room," The Searchers (5) vs.
"Pictures of Matchstick Men," Status Quo (12)

"I'm Into Something Good," Herman's Hermits (4) vs.
"Apache," The Shadows (13)

"Mr. Lacey," Fairport Convention (6) vs.
"Friday on My Mind," The Easybeats (11)

"Mr. Soul," Buffalo Springfield (3) vs.
"Do Ya," The Move (14)

"Paper Sun," Traffic (7) vs.
"Wild Thing," The Troggs (10)

"The Weight," The Band (2) vs.
"Hitchin' a Ride," Vanity Fair (15)

Remember, in our competition groups advancing have to be represented by a different song in each round, so it isn't always the best strategy to choose their best (or best-known) songs in the first round, especially if they are up against a seemingly weak opponent early on. By the same token a song with few hits is somewhat forced to start strong. This makes for the possibility of upsets in the early going, which is how things played out in the American contest last year. Feel free to offer comments, and I'll have the other brackets up in the next week or so.

Soup Diary 100621

Considering that it is the first day of summer, I decided to go with a cold soup for lunch today, opting for a cup of the Cucumber Yogurt at Natalie's Cafe in Amherst. It was a very pleasant complement to my falafel, creamy and flavored with dill. Natalie's serves really good gazpacho too, but I hadn't tried the cucumber soup before so that was the selection. My only complaint with the meal was that they have switched from dill spears to dill chips rapped into the falafels-- undermining, to me anyway, what made their sandwich so special and unique. Here's hoping they just ran out of the long pickles and they will be back in their rightful spot the next time I go there.

Monday's Quotation

This seems especially appropriate to post on a Monday; it comes from the author D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) and comes from his book Apocalypse, published in the last year of his life:

"For man, the vast marvel is to be alive.
For man, as for flower and beast and bird,
the supreme triumph is to be most vividly,
most perfectly alive. Whatever the unborn
and the dead may know, they cannot know
the beauty, the marvel of being alive in the
flesh. The dead may look after the afterwards.
But the magnificent here and now of life in the
flesh is ours, and ours alone, and ours only for
a time. We ought to dance with rapture that
we should be alive and in the flesh, and part
of the living, incarnate cosmos. I am part of
the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am
part of the earth my feet know perfectly, and
my blood is part of the sea. My soul knows
that I am part of the human race, my soul
is an organic part of the great human soul,
as my spirit is part of my nation. In my own
very self, I am part of my family. There is
nothing of me that is alone and absolute
except my mind, and we shall find that the
mind has no existence by itself, it is only the
glitter of the sun on the surface of the waters."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

An Underrated Band

As far as I know, the Beards put out one really good record about 8 or 9 years ago, then disappeared. But Funtown is a really good record. "My Pillow" is a good example of their stuff:

Three Photos From Friday

I had a lengthy day with the camera on Friday, going down to Glen Park in Williamsville, NY, where I shot the girl reading a book alongside the creek above. I probably could enhance this a bit on PhotoShop, but I think it looks ok as is too.

Friday night I was over at Delaware park with Ben, and we wandered over to the Albright Knox Art Gallery where the Annual Rockin' the Knox show was going on. We didn't have tickets, and I'm guessing neither did any of these other folks hunkered down on the lawn alongside the Gallery, where you could certainly hear, if not see, the show. Rufus Wainwright was the headliner, but I think The National might've been onstage when I took this picture.

Here's a picture of the casino looking through the foliage across Hoyt Lake, with the half-moon hovering above. Ben was taking some really good pictures too, which made me want to take better shots myself. It's good to have someone along to "compete" with that way ;-)

Sunday Funnies

This isn't really a Sunday funnies page, but close enough. It's a poster created by R. Crumb initially back in the seventies, and updated (the last three panels) sometime in the eighties. I've had the poster hanging in my office for a number of years, and visitors often comment on it, so I thought I'd share it with a wider audience. It's called "A Short History of America."

Soup Diary 100620

As a kid I hated mushrooms, or at least thought that I did. After all, nothing could compel me to put one in my mouth-- they just seemed so slimy and disgusting. But as I aged, I came to tolerate them in some things, especially pizza, and especially if they were sauteed a bit before being placed on the pie. Even as I grew more tolerant of mushrooms generally, I mostly did not care for them in soup, and continued to resist soups that were built around the fungi, like cream of mushroom. But that changed when I had the Hungarian Mushroom soup at Fables last year, and now I can add the Mushroom Barley at the same place to the list of stuff I like. It's not as good as the Hungarian Mushroom, but pretty satisfying in its own right. If you can imagine French Onion soup, but with mushrooms instead of onions, that'd be a close approximation of what it tasted like. It just goes to show that one shouldn't jump to conclusions about taste based on what the ingredients look like prior to preparation, a lesson I really should've learned a long time ago.

A Quote for Sunday

I'm guessing Carl Jung (1875-1961) is the second most famous psychiatrist ever, after Sigmund Freud (unless you want to count Dr. Bob Hartley). Here's something he wrote that reflects some truth:

"Fortunately, in her kindness and patience,
Nature has never put the fatal question
as to the meaning of their lives into
the mouths of most people. And
where no one asks, no one
needs to answer."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday Morning Cartoon

About a year ago I posted an old episode of Felix the Cat from the 1930s. Apparently they were so popular with youngsters when recycled on TV in the fifties that new cartoons were produced, including this one. I can't say I remember this particular show, though it may explain why I like surrealist painting so much today; but I have a pretty clear memory of the opening and theme song seen and heard here:

Quote of the Day

Today I have something to think about courtesy of the famous architect and designer Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983):

"When I am working on a problem,
I never think about beauty. But when
I have finished, if the solution is not
beautiful, I know it is wrong."

Friday, June 18, 2010

New Garage Rock

The Len Price 3 are a contemporary Brit group the members of which were obviously raised on classic Who and Kinks records from the sixties. Nothing wrong with that, to my ears anyway:

Friday Family Blogging Quiz

Okay, I haven't done one of these in awhile,. but I'm going to ask you to be creative this week. The winner of the quiz will give me the best answer, with explanation, for what fictional (what the heck, or real) character Thomas most resembles in this photo. Remember, you're getting scored on your imagination here. Put your answers in the comments section.

Last week, I asked you to tell me where a photo of Theresa was taken, and who I cropped out (the original photo appears below). No one got it exactly, but Mom came the closest, guessing Whidby Island in Washington (right) and getting all the figures but one (replacing Dad with Aunt Clare). Thanks to all who played!

l. to r.: Dad, Mom, Ann Marie, Sharon, Theresa, Jessica, Liz

The Last Movie I Saw

What a rarity it seems to be lately, for a movie to treat its characters like real people and its audience as intelligent, thinking viewers. In some ways, The Secret in Their Eyes, an Argentinian film directed by Juan Jose Campanella, conforms to certain classic thriller genre conventions, at least in terms of its plot (about the dogged efforts of a court official to solve a particularly gruesome murder). But rather than constructing the story around the sort of phony set pieces that generally prevail in those type of films, intended to create an orchestrated sense of suspense, Campanella instead allows this one to unfold through detailed character exposition, where individual motives build from the interactions that define almost anyone's workaday world-- even those that don't entail murder. There's also a dimension to this film, largely told through flashbacks to the 1970's, that builds on the unique political situation in Argentina at that time, especially the phenomenon of "the disappeared" (when the repressive government merely disposed of its critics). I can't claim enough knowledge of that history to fully understand how that intersects with the mystery, but it's clearly a crucial element in one of the film's most powerful twists, and as such affects the capacity of the characters to pursue what they consider the moral path (which is obviously not the same as the legal process). In conjunction with the rich characterizations, it's this denseness of context, which is never confusing or distracting even though things are not spelled out, that makes me appreciate the trust placed by Campanella in his audience to think this through, and experience something deeper and more profound than the visceral thrills promised by something like Iron Man II or any other typical summer fare. The Secret in Their Eyes is definitely the best movie I've yet seen this year.

More friday Family Blogging

I wasn't kidding about the good time at Helen's "Moving Up" ceremony (see previous post). I'm not sure I've ever seen Emma quite so ecstatic.

Friday Family Blogging

Wednesday was "Moving Up Day" for Helen as she graduated from Pre-K. She got a diploma and everything-- everything meaning a bucket of lovely parting gifts and an alligator hat (seen above). A good time was had by all!

Friday Philosophy

I kind of like this semtiment, expressed by the French philosopher Charles de Montesquieu (1689-1755), one of the figures closely associated with the enlightenment:

"If only we wanted to be happy, it would be easy;
but we want to be happier than other people,
which is difficult, since we think them
happier than they are."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cool Video

I was looking for the Jesus and Mary Chain original of this song on YouTube, and it's there if you want to see it, but I can't embed it here. Luckily the Pixies cover can be embedded and it's nearly as good as the original. To me, this is about as good as rock and roll gets:

Three Photos

Here are three more pictures I've taken recently that I think turned out pretty good. The train above (stationary, in case that isn't obvious) was shot in Gowanda, New York. I gather that it was used until fairly recently as one of those day-excursion lines-- a round trip ticket bought you a nice meal and a round-trip dose of nostalgia for the good ol' days of rail travel.

Sadly, these too are relics, of the old days when Buffalo was an industrial giant. I'm pretty sure these silos in the old First Ward (definitely the one on the left) are abandoned, though at one time this area around the Buffalo River buzzed with all kinds of manufacturing, processing, warehousing, and rail lines.

This last photo is an example of my ongoing efforts to teach my self to take good night pictures. It depicts the Erie Canal, and downtown North Tonawanda on the far bank. It probably could use some cropping, but I mostly like how it turned out.