Wednesday, August 31, 2011

An Old Favorite

This was one of my favorite songs way back when I was thirteen years old. It still brings a smile to my face. Any one else remember this one?

Four Pictures: Nevada City

I spent a couple of hours at Nevada City this past weekend, snapping pictures. The town is a living history museum, "populated" by various characters drawn from the town's nineteenth century heyday. In that sense, it's a bit more developed than a lot of the other ghost towns around Montana, and a pleasant place to pass a little time. It was an especially nice day when I was there, with nice light for pictures.

Most of the buildings have been modestly maintained, and some fitted with something like the original trappings relevant to their use (like the tools and wheels outside the smith's shop below).

Compared to the version of the old west towns one is likely to encounter in the movies, Nevada City is both more compact (individual buildings) and more spread out (for the most part, the buildings are kind of scattered instead of butting up against each other). This may reflect a version of the community that evolved after its initial boom days (it sits near Alder Creek, site of one of the biggest gold strikes in the 1860s). The stories told by the docents also paints a picture much less romantic than the versions common in popular culture.

Today's Quote

Let's go way back for some words of wisdom from the renowned Greek philosopher Socrates (469 BC- 399 BC):

"The shortest and surest way to live with honour
in the world, is to be in reality what we would
appear to be; and if we observe, we shall find,
that all human virtues increase and strengthen
themselves by the practice of them."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Great Song

This is one of my favorite Beatles tunes, and not one you hear very often on the radio (an album cut from Rubber Soul, my favorite Beatles album). It's also one of the better George Harrison compositions, showing that he had come into his own long before "Something." Enjoy:

Five Pictures: Eden Corn Festival

I'll go pretty much anywhere if it will provide an opportunity to take interesting photographs. so when my pal Rick mentioned visiting the Eden Corn Festival, I grabbed the camera. Here are some of the shots I took there, in glorious black and white.

I like fairs and festivals because of the people and the lights and the action, and although the Corn Fest is much smaller than the Erie County Fair, there was plenty going on (though it was nice to catch a quiet moment, like below).

It seems like the food is an even bigger attraction than the rides in Eden-- I guess that makes sense given that it's a celebration of the harvest.

The Beaverhead County Fair is this weekend, so I'll have another chance to take some pictures. I hope it's as interesting as the ones I visited back east.

Tuesday's Quote

Here's something to ponder from the pen of Lewis H. Lapham, longtime editor of Harper's magazine:

“Money is like fire, an element as little troubled by moralizing as earth, air and water. Men can employ it as a tool or they can dance around it as if it were the incarnation of a god. Money votes socialist or monarchist, finds a profit in pornography or translations from the Bible, commissions Rembrandt and underwrites the technology of Auschwitz. It acquires its meaning from the uses to which it is put.”

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cool Video

I'm a big fan of James Hunter's contemporary soul sound. But what makes this a special treat is the neat animation by Steven Erdman which recalls the work of the key modernist cartoonist and animator Gene Deitch, whose work graced the pages of Record Changer magazine back in the forties and fifties (and whose son Kim is one of the great underground cartoonists from the sixties forward). So this is that rare combination of great music and great visuals, very nicely combined for your listening and viewing pleasure:

Four Pictures: Erie County Fair

On one of my last nights back east, I went to the Erie County Fair with Sally, Tom, Natalie and Ben, mainly to take pictures. Here are a few that I particularly liked. The first is a line of show horses getting ready to compete.

The other three are a bit more experimental. I like the silhouette effect I got with the couples on the swing above.

Likewise, although this one was unintentionally blurry, it kind of conveys the color and movement of the crowd along the midway.

This last one is a double exposure, which turned out particularly well as far as melding the multiple images of the midway into a coherent whole. Maybe I'll post some more shots from the fair in the next few days.

A Monday Quote

I like this passage from the novel A Death in the Family by one of my favorite writers, James Agee (1909-1955):

"And no matter what, there's not one thing in
this world *or* the next that we can do or hope
or guess at or wish or pray that can change it
or help it one iota. Because whatever is, is.
That's all. And all there is now is to be ready
for it, strong enough for it, whatever it may
be. That's all. That's all that matters. It's all
that matters because it's all that's possible."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cool Song

Camper Van Beethoven was one of my favorite bands back in the eighties, and this was one of my favorite songs by them. I hope you like it too:

Sunday Funnies

Here are four examples of the classic Krazy Kat strip from August and September of 1922. I think it's safe to say that George Herriman's creation is one of the two or three greatest strips ever, just based on pure creativity. There's certainly never been anything else remotely like it over the years I've been studying the medium.

I thought this second one might have some resonance for anyone reading this and dealing with the effects (direct or indirect) of Irene back east.

Sunday's Quote

Here's a bit of a mind-bender, from the pen of the writer Gertrude Stein (1874-1946):

"The minute you or anybody else knows what
you are you are not it, you are what you or
anybody else knows you are and as everything
in living is made up of finding out what you are
it is extraordinarily difficult really not to know
what you are and yet to be that thing."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Classic Tune

I just read that the Left Banke is reforming to tour and possibly record for the first time in well over forty years. They were kind of a one-hit wonder (well, two hits actually, this and "Pretty Ballerina") which would hardly indicate a large patient following eagerly awaiting their return. But that one main hit sure was a good one. Here it is:

Friday Family Blogging Quiz

Just about everybody should recognize Theresa, and you can probably tell from the decor that this was taken around Christmastime at Sara's house. So the question is, who was sitting next to Theresa before I cropped this image (to her left, your right)? Put your guesses in the comments section.

Last week, I asked you to identify a baby's face, and (as I should have expected) Mom knew it was Sally. Here's the full original picture:

Anyone else remember that folding high chair?

Four Pictures: Flying Things

When I was in Lake Placid a few weeks ago, I had a chance to watch some youngsters practicing ski jumps off a water slide at the Olympic ski hill. It was pretty incredible watching them sail through the air, doing all kinds of tricks in flight, then landing in a deep pool of water.

I guess in a view years, some of these youngsters may be competing in the next Winter Games. Unfortunately I didn't note any of the names, so I'll never know for sure.

This last shot is of another variety of flier-- a dog competing in the leaping contest at the Erie County Fair. They two were jumping into water, to retrieve toys tossed by their masters. This guy jumped the farthest among those I saw.

More Friday Family Blogging

Continuing on a theme developed in the previous post (below), here's a shot of Brian and Sally playing in Gramma's backyard (different Gramma than the one mentioned in the last post). Not to embarrass any of the subjects, but I thought it worth noting this scene predates the previous one by more than fifty years! Hard to believe...

Friday Family Blogging

Emma and Helen playing nicely together at Gramma's house (that's Gramma's needlework providing the canopy). Don't you wish you could join in?

Friday Philosophy

Today's words of wisdom come from the French novelist Andre Malraux (1901-1976):

"Often the difference between a successful
person and a failure is not one has better
abilities or ideas, but the courage that one
has to bet on one's ideas, to take a
calculated risk - and to act."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Classic Sound

Here's one of the better contemporary rock and roll bands out there: the Len Price 3. This song goes back a few years, but it's pretty representative of their more recent work (which is worth looking for):

Toonerville Thursday

Sometimes you have to wonder how the Skipper is able to meet all trains, given his somewhat lax work ethic.

A Thought for Thursday

With school starting soon, I imagine teachers everywhere soon following through on the idea expressed by the activist Wendell Phillips (1811-1884):

"Seldom ever was any knowledge given to
keep, but to impart; the grace of this rich
jewel is lost in concealment."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A True Classic

Here's one of those classic rock and roll songs that actually had already been a hit two generations earlier, and would eventually hit a couple of more times over the next couple of decades. But this version by the Flamingos is my favorite. Check it out:

Soup Diary 110824

Wasn't it Albert Einstein who said it was insanity to do the same thing over and over again, while expecting different results? By that definition I must be insane because I keep ordering the soup at Great Harvest in Butte expecting it to be good. In my defense, it's always a different variety of soup, but even so their track record is terrible. The real irony is that they aren't very adventurous with their selections. It's always something straightforward like vegetable beef, chicken noodle, or in the most recent case, cream of tomato. You'd think such standards would be hard to mess up, but they somehow always manage. The tomato soup was very acidic in flavor, and was only palatable once I'd dumped in a bunch of croutons. It's mystifying to me as to why they can't get the soup right because their sandwiches are always really good (I had a BLT yesterday). That's enough to keep me coming back at least somewhat regularly, which means I'll likely take another stab at the soup too. I guess there are worse forms of insanity.

Quote of the Day

A great, and typically funny, line from the novelist Joseph Heller (1923-1999), author of the immortal Catch-22:

"Destiny is a good thing to accept when
it's going your way. When it isn't, don't
call it destiny; call it injustice, treachery,
or simple bad luck."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cool Song

The Vaselines are one of those bands that got little attention when they were first active (at least in this country), but gained some notoriety when Kurt Cobain credited them as an influence. Now, years later, they've reformed to make new music, which is good for all of us. Here's one of their earlier tunes, but check out the new stuff too:

The Great Game

I had the opportunity to catch a number of minor league baseball games this summer, and always took my camera along. Here are some shots that I think turned out pretty good.

I wish I had taken notes so I could identify the players in these pictures. My goal was to learn how to capture the action with some detail, and I'm getting better at that.

I was lucky to have good seats at just about every game (in Buffalo, Burlington, VT, and Erie, PA), giving me decent angles. Although these are all from the first base side, I did occasionally sit on the third base side too, and will try to get some of those up here as well.

There were a lot of near misses too, because I didn't have the settings right at the moment of action. I was so disappointed after rightly aiming at the shortstop as he made a diving catch, only to discover that I hadn't boosted the ISO enough to register more than a white blur.

Tuesday's Quote

Here's something to think about from the noted American historian Will Durant (1885-1981):

"If man asks for many laws it is only because
he is sure that his neighbor needs them;
privately he is an unphilosophical anarchist,
and thinks laws in his own case superfluous."

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cool Video

I'm long overdue for getting some John Coltrane up here, so let's post this clip of the Quartet performing one of their best: "Naima." Enjoy...

More Pennsic Photos

Here's another set of photos I took a couple weeks ago at the Pennsic Wars, starting with a standard bearer no doubt there to rally the troops as they head off to battle.

Here's a much less martial setting of several merchants and musicians relaxing outside one of the vendors' tents.

A highlight of the visit was the performance by this magician, entertaining folks in the merchants area with classic cup and ball tricks.

There was so little light at the Baronial party where this musician performed that I couldn't get an ideal picture, but this conveys something of the atmosphere of the evening. Maybe Theresa or Dan can remind me of the name of his group, who I understand are longtime favorites of the SCA community.

These are two of the party-goers from that same evening. Again, it could be a bit sharper, but I like how it captures the general mood of the event-- easy-going revelry under torchlight.

This guy was getting ready for the rapier battle which ended up being a bit of a bust, at least for spectators. At least this guy was ready for some action.

The Last Movie I Saw

I've actually seen Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life twice already, and it's one of those rare cases where I liked it much more on second viewing. That's largely because it's a somewhat overwhelming experience the first time around, as Malick purposely defies the normal conventions of plot and narrative that dominate popular storytelling (whether in films or otherwise), and I'm way out of practice in viewing such work (I'd call it experimental, but I don't think that Malick is experimenting-- he's just hewing to his particular vision). On first viewing, there were several passages that just knocked me out, but it was a struggle to see how it all fit together. On second viewing I had a greater sense of cohesion, and picked up some of the more subtle points that made it a much more enriching experience. Malick must be the only American filmmaker working today in something close to the mainstream (at least in terms of the wide distribution of his films) who can be rightly characterized as a visual poet, whose work leans more toward the allegorical than the literal, and whose ideas are mostly conveyed through his images (in fact there is virtually no dialogue and only impressionistic narration in The Tree of Life). It's a film that demands, and commands, attention, but it's hard to imagine that the average moviegoer is prepared to engage in the kind of interactive relationship with a movie that Malick is assuming here. That's more a result of "lowest common denominator" thinking amongst producers than any inherent lack of intelligence in the audience-- just how often are they challenged by what they see on the screen?-- but it's also unlikely that there will be a loud clamor for more films like this forthcoming. Since Malick has only made five films in almost forty years, one hopes that at least some other artists might be inspired to work in the same vein, but I won't be holding my breath.

Monday's Quotation

I definitely agree with this short statement by the novelist Norman Mailer (1923-2007):

"Culture's worth huge, huge risks. With-
out culture we're all totalitarian beasts."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cool Song

Here's one of those songs that gets under your skin: Graham Parker's "Between You and Me," which originally appeared on his classic Howlin' Wind album circa 1976. Enjoy:

More Pennsic Pictures

Let's start with a couple more shots of the performers. The woman above did a dance with her fingernail extensions on fire (they were really long extensions).

This guy was kind of the leader (or at least spokesman) for the troupe of musicians, dancers, and jugglers. He kind of had a comic Robin Hood persona.

These next four photos were taken at the battle on my second day in the camp. Above are some knights getting ready. I'm not sure they are actually knights, but they looked the part to me.

Two large armies gathered on either side of a big field (I'd guess about the size of four football fields arranged two by two). At the signal, they raced across the open territory to clash in the center (a portion of which is seen above).

From my vantage point, it was hard to get more than a mass of bodies pushing at one another, but you can see a bit of individual combat in the pictures above and below (more pictures tomorrow).