Thursday, July 28, 2011

Real Rock and Roll

I just bought a collection of songs by Esquerita (real name S.Q. Reeder), a rival to Little Richard for the title of the wildest performer in rock's early days. This song does a good job of staking Esquerita's claim to that title (though I wish there was some actual video of him performing):

On the Road Again

I'm taking a short trip over the weekend, so likely won't be posting again until Monday. That means no new Family Quiz this week, but since I still don't have a correct answer from last week, I'll just keep that one open for another week. If you haven't played (or even if you already have), please get in your guesses.

I Think About Stupid Stuff Too

For months I've been looking for some kind of system to store and catalog the SD Memory Cards I use in my digital cameras. It used to be they came in small plastic cases that could be easily stacked, but lately it's just the card, and since I use them as backup storage (that is, I download the pictures to my computer but keep them on the cards as well), I hate to pile them up with the contacts exposed to dust, heat, whatever. So, I've been searching in camera stores, department stores, stationary shops, everywhere I can think of to find something that works as an easy, safe, cheap and space-saving system, but with no luck. Camera stores have really expensive cases that maybe hold up to four of the cards, but they are designed to also accommodate larger cards that I don't use, which means lots of wasted space. Anyway, about two weeks ago, I stumbled on something that was exactly what I was looking for in of all places, a drugstore, namely Rite Aid. You can see a picture above: it holds ten cards, is virtually as flat as the cards themselves, and they are relatively cheap (about $6). The only problem was that when I spotted it entirely by chance, there was only one available, while I could use three or four. I immediately bought the one on display (the clerk probably thought I was nuts because I was kind of going on about finding something I'd begun to think did not exist in response to her query "Did you find everything?"). I also realized that if I got lucky in this Rite Aid, there was a good chance I'd find more in other Rite Aids in the area, and there seem to be quite a lot of them. So the next day, I was in another part of town, spotted a Rite Aid and went in to check. Sure enough, they had one too, but again, only one. I bought it and a couple days later, stopped in another Rite Aid and they too had one, only one. A couple of days later, the same thing in another location. I now had the four I figured I needed to organize my collection, but there was something tugging at my brain: why was it always one, and only one in each store? They don't take up much space on the rack; the SD cards alongside them were generally in abundance. So, even though I had met my quota, I started stopping in other Rite Aids as I came across them (and no kidding, they are ubiquitous in this part of the world). I was in my seventh different store today, and as in all the others, one card case. I even went back to the first store to see if they had re-ordered after I cleaned them out on that first visit. One card case. I'm becoming somewhat obsessed with checking every Rite Aid store to see if there are ever two or none or five or anything other than one. My sister reported seeing two in a store out in the Southtowns, but I'm not sure I believe her-- she might've just been trying to put me out of my misery. I think I may have to find a phone book and make a list and do this more systematically, though that only adds data to the investigation. Still, I'm left with the question: why always and only one?

Toonerville Thursday

Isn't it gratifying to realize that, as long as the weather is decent, there's a ball game going on just about every day in Toonerville?

Thursday's Thought

Today's quotation comes from the noted Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez:

"Human beings are not born once and for
all on the day their mothers give birth to
them, obliges them over and over
again to give birth to themselves."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pretty Song

This isn't exactly the kind of stuff Thurston Moore is generally known for, though I never doubted he had the kind of talent to do pretty much any kind of song and make it work. This is from his recent solo album, which I'm now looking forward to hearing in its entirety:

Four Photos: A Night at the Ballpark

I spent the evening down at Coca-Cola Field with Nick and Rick. It was a beautiful night to sit in the stands and take in a game, though the home team got trounced 11-2. Here are a few of the sights. Above we see Mike Baxter-- who hit a home run on the first pitch he saw as a Bison, giving them a momentary lead early-- sliding into second on the front end of a double play.

It was Italian Heritage night at the ballpark, so instead of posting the usual player pictures on the scoreboard, each was represented by a famous Italian. I'm sure that it was only a coincidence that 3/4's of the images selected were of criminals (Al Capone) or actors playing criminals (Marlon Brando as the Godfather, Al Pacino as Scarface). The oddest of all was Fat Tony of the Simpsons, the choice for Valentino Pascucci, who I'm pretty sure could've counted as Italian by himself without a stand-in.

Buster Bison must've felt a bit humbled, because throughout the game they were promoting the upcoming visit by what used to be called the San Diego Chicken at a game later this week (for trademark purposes, they just call him The Chicken these days); In fact doesn't the regular mascot look like he's being crucified here?

I'm glad the kids always take the scoreboard exhortations seriously and get up to dance when prompted. Me, I'm too old for that kind of thing.

A Note to Readers

I've noticed that in some of my posts random words are appearing as hot links (on my screen, orange in color) that lead to ads (I just realized that the word "Maria" is so presented in the previous post). I'm assuming this is something that Blogspot, the host of this and other blogs, is doing though it may be the result of some kind of intruder. At any rate, I want to let you know that it has been done without my prior knowledge or permission and you are all excused from actually clicking on the links. Maybe if no one connects, they'll go away.

Today's Quote

A good point from the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926):

"A person isn't who they are during the
last conversation you had with them -
they're who they've been throughout
your whole relationship."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cool Song

I haven't heard the new album by Jolie Holland yet (it came out a few weeks ago), but if it's as good as her last one, then I'm in for a treat. Here's my favorite song from her previous lp:

Sunday Funnies

I've been dog-sitting for my brother for the last week, which put me in mind of how J.R. Williams often featured dogs in his classic panel Out Our Way. The dog in the comic above looks a bit like Hershey (a chocolate lab), at least in repose.

The last one below doesn't exactly feature the canine, but he definitely adds an extra dimension to the suspense.

Sunday's Quote

Here's a nice insight from the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834):

"Advice is like snow - the softer it falls,
the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper
in sinks into the mind."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cool Song

I put the Best Coast album on my mp3 player some months back and every time one of their songs pops up (I keep it on random play), it makes me smile. Here's one of them, as performed on the Letterman show:

Friday Family Blogging Quiz

Okay, here's a perennial favorite: whose eyes are these? Put your guesses in the comments section.

Last week, there were no correct answers, so I'll leave that one open for another week (hint: it isn't an entirely "random" animal). Better luck this time!

Thre Last Book I Read

I remember reading Ellen Willis' column in the Village Voice back in the '80s and 90s, and always enjoyed her perspective on things (mostly she wrote, from a feminist perspective, on broad cultural topics). When her book of earlier music criticism came out a short time ago, I was a bit leery, as the topics tended toward artists who I've already read about, in some cases (the Rolling Stones) ad nauseum. Understanding that she wrote about them earlier than most critics didn't make much difference-- it was hard to believe that encountering these early pieces for the first time at this late date was going to help me know any more than I already do about Bob Dylan, the Who, the Velvet Underground, Creedence Clearwater Revival... you get the idea: this appeared to be well-trod ground. What I should have remembered from her later work (that was familiar to me) was that Willis never failed to spark and hold my interest by recognizing connections that tied her subjects to both broader and deeper cultural themes than might be evident on first glance. So reading this book turned into a somewhat unexpected pleasure as her insights made me think about how those artists related to their times in ways that went way beyond making popular records or engaging in hotel-smashing escapades. It also made me appreciate again just how central rock was to the countercultures of the late sixties and early seventies, and not just as the proverbial third leg on the stool of "sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll" but as a core means of communicating ideas about identity, politics, and philosophy (especially related to the concept of liberation). You can tell from these pieces that Willis used the music to help her work out a lot of these ideas in relation to her own perceptions of sixties society and possibilities; and you can also see, as her work advanced deeper into the seventies, how generally the music became less central, providing Willis with a new set of critical questions to address as the counterculture fractured, largely from its own indulgences (not the least of which was its inherent sexism). In the end, the fact that most of this book does address familiar artists made it that much easier to appreciate just how sharp and unique Willis' insights on them were, making it clear that she fully deserves to be recognized as one of the key originators of rock criticism and -- even though she moved out of that field within a few years-- still one of the best.

More Friday Family Blogging

Of course I'm sure most of the family reading this remember Uncle Dick's days impersonating Marlon Brando as the "Wild One."

Friday Family Blogging

I've been digitizing a lot of old family slides over the past week, though I haven't had a chance to enhance shots like the one above very much yet. Still, I thought I'd share to see how many remember Gramma's back yard in Titusville. I can't believe that I have recollections of that shed, though this particular picture of Brian and Sara was taken about a year before I came along.

Friday Philosophy

Very short, but very profound (I think): this was said by the French painter Georges Braque (1882-1963):

"Reality only reveals itself when it
is illuminated by a ray of poetry."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Another Favorite Song

This wasn't one of their big hits, but I think it's one of the best things the Jefferson Airplane ever recorded. Musically, I think it still sounds fresh, and even if the lyrics are a little dated they remain kind of relevant (though possibly not in exactly the way the band intended back in 1968):

Toonerville Thursday

I'm guessing that "Wisecracker" Wortle is not among the more popular denizens of Toonerville. But the guy has a way with a pun.

Quote of the Day

A great line from the noted novelist William Faulkner (1897-1962):

"Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty
and truth and compassion against injustice and
lying and greed. If people all over the world...
would do this, it would change the earth."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Favorite Song

Leonard Cohen is one of the few contemporary song-writers who can legitimately be called a poet. Here's probably my favorite song of his, "Sisters of Mercy."

Colin Powers, RIP

My cousin Colin passed away a couple days ago, and my thoughts are with his wife, children, siblings, and the rest of his family and friends. I sure wish I had more opportunities to spend time with him. I've been digitizing some old family pictures the past few days, and came across these in a pile of slides I was working on today. I hope they spark some memories of better times.

Today's Words of Wisdom

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (1926-2004) famously wrote on the topic of death, something that members of my family are coping with right now. Here's something she wrote that makes me feel a bit better:

"It's only when we truly know and understand
that we have a limited time on earth - and that
we have no way of knowing when our time is up,
we will then begin to live each day to the fullest,
as if it was the only one we had."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Great Song

This wasn't one of his big hits (at least in the States), but this is definitely one of my favorite Gordon Lightfoot tunes, from way back in 1968:

Four Photos: My Hometown

When I was a kid growing up in Tonawanda, NY, Main Street was the heart of a a bustling commercial district, with department stores and specialty shops catering to actual crowds of shoppers most weekends.

By the time I was in high school, newer nearby malls pretty much drained the business from Main Street, and today it's kind of a shadow of its former self, mostly comprised of antique shops and small restaurants.

I think the only establishment that remains on the street from those "olden" days is the American Legion Hall (where the Bingo advertised below is played). Anyway these four pictures were taken last Saturday, and you can see, it was a rather quiet time on the old main drag.

Soup Diary 110719

Fables Cafe in the Buffalo library is starting to redeem itself, at least a little. After a change in management sent their soup offerings plummeting in quality a few months ago, I've now had three tasty cups in a row. Most recently, they nailed the Mushroom Marsala, which was definitely a reach for me compared to the Black Bean and Stuffed Potato that preceded it. By that I mean that I'm not generally a big fan of mushroom soups (while it's pretty hard to make a bean or potato variety that I won't find at least acceptable). But this one was quite tasty, with a somewhat buttery broth which worked very well. It's still been a long time since they hit a home run, but if they can pump out consistent doubles like this, they'll generally score well enough for me to keep giving them my business when downtown.

Tuesday's Quote

I totally agree with this statement by the English author Malcolm Lowry (1909-1957):

"What I have absolutely no sympathy with
is the legislator, the man who seeks, for his
own profit, to exploit the weaknesses of those
who are unable to help themselves and then
to fasten some moral superscription upon it.
This I loathe so much that I cannot conceivably
explain how much it is."

Happy Birthday Sara!

Happy Birthday to one of my great nieces, Sara (H-less) Banning. I know I'm a little late, but only because I haven't been on-line for a couple of days. Hope you had a great day of celebration (and I wish I could've joined in sooner).

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cool Video

Dating back to about 1962, here's a neat little film of the Dave Brubeck Quartet (with Paul Desmond, sax; Gene Wright, bass, Joe Morello, drums) superimposed over the L.A. Freeway (maybe the 405, which was closed this weekend, leading to what headline writers were calling "Carmegeddon"). "Blue Rondo A La Turk" was one of the most experimental numbers in teh group's repertoire at the time, and still sounds good to me:

Four Pictures: Niagara Falls (Again)

I was over to the Falls again this evening because... well because they're there, and they provide all kinds of possibilities for taking pictures. So here are four, starting with a fairly standard shot.

Second is a zoom shot from above the American Falls (the main portion of which is the background). I kept the shutter open to get the milky effect, but that also made for some ghost-like spectators.

Third-- more ghosts on the bridge over Bridal Veil Falls.

I caught the fireworks tonight (I've missed them on the past couple of visits), so fourth is a shot of that. I think I've finally figured out how to shoot fireworks after years of trying to get it right (that's what experimenting is for). I don't know if this is the best one I shot, but it's my favorite.

Sunday Funnies

H.T. Webster was one of the all-time great single panel cartoonists. Here are three examples of his work focusing on the younger set (with whom he seemed well in tune).

A Sunday Quote

I think this quote from the French cultural critic Guy DeBord (1931-1994) is worthy of a few moments of thought:

"Young people everywhere have been
allowed to choose between love and a
garbage disposal unit. Everywhere they
have chosen the garbage disposal unit."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cool Song

This is one of those songs, written by the immortal Chuck Berry, that seemed to be recorded by just about every band going in the mid sixties. This version-- one of the best-- was by the Rolling Stones from early in their career.

Friday Family Blogging Quiz

Here's another face from the zoo (see previous post), my niece Maria. The question for all of you is, what animal is in the exhibit behind and to her left (your right)? Put your guesses in the comments section.

Last week's quiz wasn't as tough as I thought, when I asked you to tell me what color t-shirt Joseph was wearing in a shot over Niagara Falls. Lil Sis once again came through first with the correct answer. Let's see if this week I can get a few more participants.

Faces of the Zoo

I took these pictures a couple weeks ago at the Buffalo Zoo. I'm not sure why it's taken me this long to post them.

Okay, this last one isn't just a face, but I liked it enough to put up with the others. I think the elephant is my favorite animal at the zoo (or any zoo), though I really like the giraffes too.