Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cool Song

Here's one you can just listen too (the video is just a still of the album cover). The Feelies were one of the great alternative groups back in the eighties, with a unique sound that clearly drew on the Velvet Underground but was nonetheless its own deal. I saw them open for REM around 1985, and they were just as impressive as the headliners. Enjoy:

Celebrating Buffalo Sports

I stumbled on this really nice web-site devoted to the various sports teams of Buffalo, NY (my hometown), and thought I would recommend it here. What's especially great about it, is the amount of attention given to the late lamented Buffalo Braves of the NBA. As a kid, my brother Nick and I were Junior Braves, and went to several games a year. One time, Nick's name was drawn and he got to sit at the scorer's table alongside the voice of the Braves, Van Miller, which included an interview during half-time. Back in those days, the Braves were a fine team with the likes of Randy Smith, Bob McAdoo, Jim McMillan, Gar Heard and Ernie DiGregorio on the roster. The despicable owner John Y. Brown (a kind of bush league Steinbrenner) eventually destroyed the team and they drifted off to San Diego, pretty much ending any interest I had in professional basketball (I'd be hardpressed to even name five current players in the NBA). But it's nice to revisit some of those great memories, and the site also includes lots of stuff on the Sabres, Bills, Bisons and others teams as well. Check it out.

Philosophical Thursday

Every now and then, we need to go back to the classics for eternal truths. Here's one from the Greek philosopher Plato (427 BC-347 BC):

"Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the
universe, wings to the mind, flight to the
imagination, and charm and gaiety to life
and to everything."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Live Wilco

Some years back, the daughter of Woodie Guthrie asked Billy Bragg to set some of her dad's unrecorded lyrics to music. Bragg recruited the band Wilco to help out, and they collaborated on two albums under the name of Mermaid Ave., Volumes 1 and 2 (Mermaid Ave. was the address of the house where the lyrics had been discovered). Here's one of my favorites from that project, "California Stars," performed by Wilco.

Two Pictures

It's been downright balmy in Dillon the past few days, making it seem like summer might not leave. So, here are a couple summer pictures taken at the Erie Basin Marina in Buffalo. Above, a view of the lighthouse at the spot where the Niagara River flows out of Lake Erie. Below, a shot of the Naval Park.

Thought of the Day

Here's a great line from the classic work of reportage by Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859), Democracy in America. Even a century and a half after he wrote down his impressions of American society, nuch of it remains relevant, including this point:

"I cannot help fearing that men may reach
a point where they look on every new theory
as a danger, every innovation as a toilsome
trouble, every social advance as a first step
toward revolution, and that they may
absolutely refuse to move at all."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Great Song

Here's a really good song by one of the best contemporary singer-songwriters out there-- Mary Gauthier. Great stuff:

This Week's Top Five List

We got a little religious with the Top Five this week on Dr. John's Record Shelf-- remember, it's all meant in good fun:

A Tuesday Quote

Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007) was a French sociologist and cultural critic, whose ideas are often entertaining and usually profound. Here's a line that I would consider both-- just think about it awhile:

"There is nothing more mysterious than a TV
set left on in an empty room. It is even stranger
than a man talking to himself or a woman
standing dreaming at her stove. It is as if
another planet is communicating with you."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Battle of the Bands First Round Winner

Here's a live clip of Free performing their hit "All Right Now." Lead singer is Paul Rodgers, and the lead guitar player is Paul Kossoff. I remember well when this was played all over Top 40 radio back in 1969-70. Good stuff:

In Case You Were Wondering....

... the new background for the blog heading above is a shot of the River Arno in Florence, Tuscany. Florence is probably my favorite place in Europe, though I've got plenty of other places to check out before I can say that with absolute certainty.

Battle of the Band Results

Here are this weeks results from the Battle of the Bands playing out on my radio show, Dr. John's Record Shelf. In the Teddy Boy Bracket, Free (seeded 12) upset the Yardbirds (5), while Manfred Mann (4) held off Ten Years After (13). The first contest was by a 5-3 margin, while the second went 5-4.

Manfred Mann

Free performed their classic "All Right Now," while the Yardbirds went with "Shapes of Things;" "Sha La La" by Manfred Mann took down "I'd Love to Change the World" by Ten Years After. This week's winners will square off in Round 2. They join the Rolling Stones, Mott the Hoople, The Who, Sweet, the Moody Blues, and the Tremeloes in moving into the next round. If you'd like to cast a vote for upcoming pairings, you can find the brackets here, here, here, and here (just leave a comment here with your selections-- you can vote for some or all of the pairs).

Thought for the Day

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was an American author associated with the Transcendentalists of the mid nineteenth century. Here's something he wrote that is worth remembering:

"As a single footstep will not make a path
on the earth, so a single thought will not
make a pathway in the mind. To make a
deep physical path, we walk again and again.
To make a deep mental path, we must think
over and over the kind of thoughts we wish
to dominate our lives."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cool Blues

I'm grading student papers this afternoon, and it put me in mind of this great song by the master bluesman Otis Rush. It's called "Homework" and it's mighty fine (unlike the topic itself):

Four Pictures

It was a really nice morning here in SW Montana, so I decided to take a little ride with my camera. I drove up to the Birch Creek site, which is an old CCC camp from the 1930s in the Pioneer Mountains. Nowadays, it's an outdoor education center, but this morning I had it all to myself. I wandered around a bit and shot these pictures of the surrounding woods.

This is a rock formation near the meeting circle of the camp (I think it's natural, but might've been constructed as a monument by the CCC'ers).

The autumn colors of the east aren't always so noticeable around here (lots of evergreens), but this reminded me a bit of the kind of foliage I used to see in the Genesee Valley of New York.

I should've tried to get up there a little earlier, for some better light. But the colors were nice, and it was a nice little stroll around the grounds. I doubt there'll be many more days like this before the cold sets in, so I'm glad I got out there for a little while today.

Sunday Funnies

Here are a few examples of one of the all-time great pantomine strips, Ferd'nand by the cartoonist known as Mik. I enjoyed this as a kid, and though I haven't seen the strip in ages, these examples still bring a smile to my lips.

There was always something vaguely exotic about Ferd'nand, starting with the spelling of his name and the weird conical hat he always wore. But at the same time, the setting seemed to be fairly standard sitcom family kind of stuff.

Anyone know if this comic is still appearing anywhere?

Quote of the Day

I think there's a pretty profound idea in this comment by the great literary critic Lionel Trilling (1905-1975), which is due a little thought in relation to contemporary affairs:

"We are at heart so profoundly anarchistic
that the only form of state we can imagine
living in is Utopian; and so cynical that the
only Utopia we can believe in is authoritarian."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Too Cool

As I recall, the first jazz record I ever bought was by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, a reunion album that included re-recordings of a number of their classic cuts, including this one, their biggest hit. Brubeck's on piano, Gene Wright on bass, Joe Morello on drums, and the sublime Paul Desmond on sax. Enjoy:

Saturday Morning Cartoon

To be honest, I don't remember ever seeing this when I was a kid, on Saturday morning or any other time. But in looking for something to post this week, I stumbled across this wonderful Modern Madcap cartoon, and I just had to share. I may have to play it for my pop music class next week, as we were talking about bebop in our last meeting:

Saturday's Quotation

Here's a quote from the American historian Howard Zinn (1922-2010) that offers a concise analysis of why the rich and powerful loudly proclaim their victimhood at near every opportunity:

"If those in charge of our society - politicians,
corporate executives, and owners of press and
television - can dominate our ideas, they will
be secure in their power. They will not need
soldiers patrolling the streets. We will
control ourselves."

Friday, September 24, 2010

One of the Greats

I'm a big fan of Dinah Washington who is among the most distinctive jazz singers ever, partly because she adds a definite bluesy air to the material. You can always recognize her voice when you hear it. Her duets with Brook Benton are really good too, but here she is singing with a hot band from the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958:

Friday Family Blogging Quiz

This should be an easy one: whose eyes are these? Put your guesses in the comments section.

Last week, I wondered where a shot of Marenka was taken. I received a few guesses, but nobody was really very close. It was taken in the parking lot at the Buffalo Airport, after the Dobes (and Christine) arrived for the reunion back in 2006. It's rare that I stump everybody. Better luck this week!

Good Articles

It appears that on the topic of crybaby rich guys, I'm on the same page as Matt Taibbi and Bill Maher. Good company as far as I'm concerned.

Friday Cat (and Dog) Blogging

Here's a little switch. I found this shot (from last Christmas) of l. to r. Montana, Puss, and Andromeda. Did I name the cats in the right order? Someone is sure to correct me if I got them mixed up.

Friday Family Blogging

The cold weather is right around the corner, so I'm posting this to remind myself (and others) that it's not all bad. That's Sally and Ben checking something out in the woods at Artpark.

Friday Philosophy

Noam Chomsky is a well-known linguist and political activist. Here's something he said that rings true to me:

"Either you repeat the same conventional
doctrines everybody is saying, or else you
say something true, and it will sound like
it's from Neptune."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Love Rock and Roll

Speaking of songs that promote the myth of rock and roll-- as I was in the last post-- here's one of the all-time greats in that regard, performed by Joan Jett (I'm still trying to think of who her competition might be for the label of greatest female rock artist). Go ahead and sing along:

The Last Movie I Watched

I'm co-teaching an Honors Seminar this semester on Popular Music and Society, and consequently thinking quite a bit about the the ways that music, especially rock and roll, is presented in other media aside from straight performance or recording. Of course, much of that transference to other forms involves a degree of mythologizing artists or styles in a way that often has little to do with the music itself, or anyway posits the music as an outgrowth of something other than mere creative or even artistic expression. It's easy to decide that you like a song because of what it sounds like, but all-but-the-most-casual fans almost always take it further (again, maybe especially with rock and roll) to imagine links with the musicians based on factors that only begin with their work and extend to often carefully managed offstage personas. Obviously, this kind of celebrity association extends to everyone from movie stars to athletes to politicians in our culture, but I'm not sure any of those other professions are so powerfully affective as rock and roll is to young people, since the inherent message of the genre itself, from Elvis Presley forward, has to do with the power to define yourself, to construct your own destiny, usually in opposition to the status quo. The myths of rock and roll expressed in the music itself can be intensely magnified when converted to narrative film, where the visual, story, and aural elements are stretched out beyond the three minutes of the typical pop single. When all those components are in sync, it's quite a heady mix. Not all films devoted to rock pull this off, but I think that The Runaways, directed by Floria Sigismondi, comes pretty close. There's a fair amount of melodrama in this true story of the notorious seventies group composed of five teenage girls and their manipulative manager, and that's always a danger. But there are some near transcendent scenes of Kristen Stewart especially, playing Joan Jett being transformed by just playing her guitar. Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie has a couple of powerful scenes too, though Currie's motives seem less visceral than Jett's and that, oddly, seems important in this context. Apparently the film was not a hit (it never played a theater in Montana as far as I can tell-- I watched the DVD), so maybe I'm misjudging its potency. But another possibility is that rock and roll has kind of spent itself, so that in the age of Lady Gaga audiences have become so jaded that they no longer relate to the truly transgressive without giggling. If so, maybe it's time for another musical revolution to shake things up.

A Quote for Thursday

Here's something to think about courtesy of the great anthropologist Margaret Mead (1901-1978), probably best known for her study of young people in Samoa:

"If we are to achieve a richer culture,
rich in contrasting values, we must
recognize the whole gamut of human
potentialities, and so weave a less
arbitrary social fabric, one in which
each diverse human gift will find a
fitting place."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quintessential REM

I remember being in J&R Music World on Park Street in New York one day on my lunch hour back in 1983 when somebody put this record on the sound system. I immediately fell in love with the band, which lasts (perhaps not so intensely) down to the present day. How could you not like REM on first hearing "Radio Free Europe"? For me, the only better band of the eighties was the Replacements:

The Last Book I Read

I received a copy of Bob Newhart's autobiography for Christmas a couple years ago, but somehow it got buried in my to-read pile until just recently. Sadly, I must report that it isn't very good. Newhart's comic style, which I always enjoyed on his records and TV shows, just does not translate to the printed page. His deadpan style just comes across as flat, and the stories are dull. Maybe his patented stuttering vocal delivery could rescue some of these stories, but not all o0f them. In the final analysis, the guy has not led a very colorful life, even despite his sojourns in Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the world of television. He really seems to be straining to come up with interesting anecdotes and even resorts to providing transcripts of some of his most famous standup routines, though they don't come off any better in this format than the other material. So my recommendation is that, if you are a Newhart fan, go back and give The Button-Down Mind another spin, or pop in a DVD of The Bob Newhart Show (the one with Emily and Howard and Mr. Carlin)-- I can practically guarantee that you'll enjoy either more than this book.

Happy Birthday Lizzie!

Yesterday was my little sister Liz's birthday, and I hope it was a great day all around (today too, for that matter). I'm not sure exactly what she's doing in the above picture, but no doubt it was something in an artistic vein, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if she wasn't engaged in some similar pursuit on her birthday. Am I right Lizzie?.

Quote of the Day

I wouldn't call this deep, but it's kind of funny. It's from the English literary critic Charles Lamb (1775-1834):

"The most common error made in matters
of appearance is the belief that one should
disdain the superficial and let the true beauty
of one's soul shine through. If there are places
on your body where this is a possibility, you
are not attractive - you are leaking."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Like This Song

I played this last week on my radio show, and thought perhaps at least some of you reading this might enjoy it too. The Willowz are out of Brooklyn, so I wonder if they'll ever perform live way out here in Montana-- but if they do, I'm going:

New York City

Here are a couple pictures I took the last time I was in New York City, views of the skyline from the Empire State Building. As you can probably tell, these actually did not turn out that great, but I've tried to rescue them a bit by converting them to black and white, and applying a couple of artistic effects. What do you think, was I successful in making them at least presentable?

This Week's Top Five List

We visited the animal kingdom this week with the Top Five List on Dr. John's Record Shelf. Please try to keep any disputes you have with our rankings civil, though I imagine this might inspire some impassioned objections:

Today's Quote

I'm not sure I agree with this statement by the great singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, but it's definitely something to think about:

"I don't think the human mind can
comprehend the past and the future.
They are both just illusions that can
manipulate you into thinking there's
some kind of change."

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Battle of the Bands Round 1 Winner

Here's a live video of Mott the Hoople performing "All the Way from Memphis," the song that carried them into Round 2 in the Battle of the Bands unfolding on Dr. John's Record Shelf (my radio show). Good tune:

Battle of the Bands Update

Rolling Stones

In this week's Battle of the Band matchups on Dr. John's Record Shelf, we had four groups in the Teddy Boy Bracket squaring off. Not too surprisingly, the Rolling Stones (seeded no. 1) easily dispatched Humble Pie (16) by an 8 to 1 score; while Mott the Hoople (8) eked out a close victory over Fleetwood Mac (9) by a 5 to 4 margin.

Mott the Hoople

"Jumping Jack Flash" was the Stones song, matched against "Natural Born Bugie" by Humble Pie. Mott's "All the Way from Memphis" rated just a bit better than "Man of the World" by Fleetwood Mac (by the way, since our time frame is 1960 to 1974, the Mac represented here was the pre-Buckingham/Nicks edition, so nothing from Rumours was eligible). So it will be the Stones against Mott in Round 2 (which ought to come up after Christmas, as we work through the big first round pool of groups this Fall). If you'd like to cast a vote for upcoming pairings, you can find the brackets here, here, here, and here (just leave a comment here with your selections-- you can vote for some or all of the pairs). Next week we'll have two more Teddy Boy pairings.

Historical Comment

There's a good column by Paul Krugman in the New York Times today, in which he describes the crybaby fat cats whose incredible selfishness defines so much of the debate about taxes in this country. It reminds me of the situation that existed in the South in the decades before the Civil War, when the large plantation owners used their considerable clout to define slavery in such a way that the majority of poor whites bought into the lie that their destiny was somehow dependent on preserving a system that really only benefited the few who were fortunate to own more than twenty slaves. Keep in mind that less than a third of white southerners owned any slaves at all, and less than one percent owned enough to be considered among the elite planter class. But it was that relative handful of people who exercised their political and media clout to shape the attitudes of a whole region (and arguable the country), to preserve a system that was not only brutal to African-Americans, but also incredibly and cynically hypocritical with respect to such core American values as freedom and democracy. The rich today, who've seen their tax rates shrink regularly going back over thirty years, while those less fortunate mostly get hammered-- if not by taxes per se, then by the loss of services and protections that once gave them a modicum of security in the face of hard times-- now complain that class war is being waged against them (Eric Cantor raised that hoary charge just yesterday), just as the slave-owners once swore out warrants against abolitionists for daring to challenge the former's "right" to own another human being. The worst part of this is that too many of our elected representatives feel obligated to back the wealthy, which was also true among far too many (both North and South) for too long a time in the antebellum period. Back then, when war eventually came, let's recall that it was the southern master class that fired the first shots, both figuratively (in pushing for secession) and literally at Fort Sumter. The tragedy then (as it appears now) was that a lot of poor saps bought into the self-serving rhetoric of the rich, and in the end lost a lot more than those who defined the terms of debate to serve their own selfish interests.

Monday's Quotation

I like this line from the Roman Lucius Annaeus Seneca (5 BC-65 AD), one of the greatest statesman of his time (or maybe any time):

"Anger: an acid that can do more harm
to the vessel in which it is stored than
to anything on which it is poured."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My New Favorite Band

I really liked the last album by Darker My Love, just called 2 (for which they recorded the following song). But their newest Alive As You Are, which I picked up earlier this week, is even better to my ears. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a video from the new disc, but this is hardly settling, as it is one of my favorites from the previous lp. Check'em out:

Soup Diary 100919

I'm not a huge fan of Chinese food, but every now and then I get a craving for an egg roll or some Kung Pao Chicken. Such was the case yesterday, so I went down to the local buffet for lunch. I haven't been there in quite awhile, maybe a year, mainly because the last couple of visits were very disappointing, with the food tasting really salty and fatty. It was not reassuring when I entered and realized I was the only customer at 11:45 on a Saturday, but as it happened it was a much better experience than the past few times. One thing I can generally count on enjoying is the Egg Drop Soup, with which I always start my meal. I'm not sure why I like it so much, as it isn't anything more than egg whites and celery in chicken broth, but for some reason, it hits the spot. I sprinkle a few crispy fried noodles on top, add a side of eggrolls, and it's a nice appetizer. The Kung Pao was pretty good too, but the real surprise was the barbecued chicken, which tasted really good with a little fried rice. There are so few options for eating out in Dillon, that I'm especially glad that the Chinese buffet seems to have righted itself (and, by the way, several other patrons entered before I finished my lunch)-- so it likely won't be so long before my next visit. Maybe I'll even try the Won Ton Soup then.

Sunday Funnies

Here's the first Sunday Doonebury strip from way back in 1971. I thought it was striking because, if you think about it, Garry Trudeau was commenting on a phenomenon that we are seeing repeated today with the rise of the Tea Party. I wouldn't go quite so far as to say that it's an example of history repeating itself forty years later, but it suggests that many issues have gone unresolved in the meantime, not the least the disaffection felt by many citizens that they have much less control over the forces that effect their lives than they once believed.

A Sunday Quote

Here's one of those lines that is as relevant today as it was a century and a half ago when the British politician Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) first said it:

"We live in an age when to be young
and to be indifferent can be no longer
synonymous. We must prepare for
the coming hour. The claims of the
Future are represented by suffering
millions; and the Youth of a Nation
are the trustees of Posterity."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Favorite Song

Los Lobos have been making fine records for almost thirty years (their most recent just came out a few weeks ago). This song goes all the way back to their first full album, and kind of set the stage for their career making intelligent, adult rock and roll:

Remembering Berlin

Here are some pictures I took in Berlin last Spring, then edited copiously once I got back. First is a group of runners in the Berlin marathon.

Next is a night scene outside a shopping center across the street from the Alexanderplatz.

This is the group we were traveling with, or anyway, several of them, also near Alexanderplatz from our first night in town. Maybe Ben will have some comments to add on these scenes (especially the marathon, eh Ben?)

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Since I was in the vicinity of Yellowstone Park last week, it kind of put me in mind of the great Yogi Bear. Of course, he actually lived in Jellystone Park, but one shoulod be excused for mixing the two up. Anyway, here's a classic episode from the Yogi Bear Show, circa 1961:

A Thought for Saturday

Plutarch (46-120) was one of classical Greece's great thinkers. Here is a small sample of his wisdom:

"To make no mistakes is not in the
of man; but from their errors
and mistakes
the wise and good learn
wisdom for the future.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Classic Television

These days David Letterman is something of a late-night institution, but way back in 1980 he hosted a daily morning show that was must-see TV for me that summer and Fall (the show didn't last even a year as I recall). I also seem to recall that my sister Liz, going to Mercyhurst College, would watch before class (instead of class? do I remember that right Lizzie?). Regulars included Rich Hall, Wil Shriner, Gary Muledeer, and of course Edie McClurg as Mrs. Marv Mendenhall. This was very funny stuff, and clearly the bulk of the AM audience had no idea what to make of it. My favorite bit (sadly, not included in this clip): Coffee Cup Theater. I wonder if anyone would ever put this out on DVD? Anyway, here's about eight minutes of one show's opening-- see if it doesn't make you laugh at least once or twice:

Friday Family Blogging Quiz

I've fuzzed out the background a little bit to make this a little tougher. The question is, where was this picture of Marenka taken? Be as specific as possible and put your guesses in the comments section.

Last week, I asked you who the blurred figures were in another altered photo, and it didn't take long for Lil Sis to name Gerik and Joseph as the subjects in question. And to Mom, who wondered what Joseph was holding, it was a plastic sword. Let's see if we can get more participants this week.

Three Pictures

I spent much of this afternoon at Headwaters State Park, which is located where the Madison, Jefferson, and Gallatin Rivers converge to form the Missouri River. It was kind of cold and overcast, so the photo ops were not optimal, but I got a few good shots. Above is a view of the Madison looking south from the ridge overlooking where it connects with the other rivers.

I caught this guy checking me out from the top of that same ridge. I took this picture then wondered if he'd stay still long enough for me to switch to a telephoto lens. Alas, he did not, bounding down and across a parking lot as I scrambled to attach the lens. Now I know why the pros always have at least two cameras ready to go.

Since I got some nice comments the last time I posted a picture of some sunflowers, here's another. This is a spot right near the confluence of the three rivers (though I guess that's relatively true of all three pictures).

More Friday Family Blogging

I like this picture of Nik calmly enjoying his lunch, while there was no doubt plenty of action going on around his at the Broad Street Playground.

Friday Family Blogging

There aren't many who can pull off wearing a cape as flamboyantly as Raechelle does here. She looks ready to take off.

Friday Philosphy

The following comes from the French philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650), and is part of his essay "Meditations on First Philosophy:"

"If I hear sound, or see the sun, or feel heat, I judge that these sensations come from things outside of me. Just now, for instance, whether I will it or not, I feel heat, and it seems obvious that this feeling is produced by something different from me, ie. the fire. But I must doubt that it is nature which impels me to believe in material things, for, given a choice between virtue and vice, nature has often led me to the worse part. But I do not find it any more convincing that ideas proceed from objects outside me, for there is often a great difference between knowledge and appearance. The sun, for instance, seems very small, yet we know from astronomical calculation that it is very great. It seems that blind impulse, not judgement, has given me my knowledge of the world."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I Like These Guys

I've been enjoying the new album by Jenny and Johnny (called I'm Having Fun Now), and thought you might like them too, so here's a video of them performing one of the cuts off their lp. By the way, Jenny is Jenny Lewis out of Rilo Kiley, and Johnny is Johnathan Rice who doesn't appear to be out of a band. I'm hoping this collaboration does not signal the end of Rilo Kiley, though another album from this pair would be okay too.

Soup Diary 100916

Consider this a firm public pledge: I will no longer buy canned soup. Yesterday I discovered a can of Chicken Gumbo on the shelf hiding behind some canned yams and baked beans. It hasn't been there that long-- I think I purchased it last winter when I had a cold and just craved something hot and liquidy. I can't deny the convenience of canned soup, which is why I cracked this open for supper last night when I got home from work a bit later than usual and wasn't in the mood to actually cook something. But it was so salty and even so still basically flavorless, I couldn't even finish it. There are too many better options for me to bother being disappointed again. So, like the frozen dinners and Chef Boy-Ar-Dee products that I stopped buying a couple years ago, I will no longer purchase any canned soup for my pantry. I won't go so far as to say I won't ever eat it again, but there's no reason I can foresee that would compel me to make it for myself.

The Beach

I'm not really much of a beach person, but I think these two pictures turned out pretty good, especially after playing around with them a bit in Photoshop. My goal was to make them look like old-fashioned postcards, and I think I got pretty close.

The top picture is one of my favorite subjects, the Santa Monica Pier. The photo of the volleyball game was taken on Lake Ontario in Rochester. Now that I look at it, I should have tried to get the water a little more blue; oh well, back to the software!